Monday, March 23, 2009

Vegan Tofu Scramble!

Yet another recipe that I dug up while on the computer at work (3x Employee of the Month!), it caught my eye in the wake of a series of hilarious events.  My first few trips to Hard Times Cafe, the premiere local vegan hangout, were a touch of culture shock on a few levels.  The most pronounced was that of the food.  At the time that I was introduced to Hard Times I wasn't even vegetarian yet so seitan was a mystery and I couldn't figure out why everything had circled V's next to them on the menu.  My favorite thing to order was the biscuit breakfast, which came with an egg any way you like it and was also available as a vegan option. Pure curiosity led me to order it vegan every time and, as per Hard Times guidelines, I had to write my own order ticket up that would be given directly to the cook after I had paid the barista.  The ticket would usually read something like "VEGAN BISCUIT BREAKFAST, EGG OVER EASY".  I figured that would convey that anything that can be vegan should be but I don't mind the egg... yet each and every single time I did this as soon as I would sit down with my friends and the barista would pass off the ticket to the cook I would hear someone from the kitchen screaming "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?"  Seriously, without fail, the cook would always lose his cool and then I would have to put the fire out by explaining what I meant.  The only exception was the last time such a misunderstanding happened.  The cook just assumed I meant tofu instead of an egg and he scrambled some up along with the rest of my order.  To my surprise, it actually tasted quite good.  From then on I specified tofu eggs on my order tickets and the staff has been forced to find new things to get pissed off about.

In light of discovering that tofu actually makes a pretty legit egg-substitute, I found a pretty simple recipe for vegan tofu scramble that I decided to make into vegan breakfast burritos!  Click Here For Vegan Tofu Scramble Recipe  The first time I attempted this recipe my silly ass picked up active dry yeast instead of nutritional yeast... oops?  I outright skipped it the second time around when my roommate Danger Faint and I made them the morning after a mild rager.  We essentially did everything by the book, steamed a few tortillas when the scramble was done, rolled a couple of burritos and tricked them out with Cholula, green Tabasco and some green chili salsa.  

All in all this was a pretty straight forward recipe and it turned out great.  Super easy, ridiculously quick and (one of my favorites) highly customizable!  Faint suggested we get some bell peppers in the mix and I'm stoked on topping them off with vegan sour creme and a few black olives.  Also, diced tomatoes and jalapenos would be ridiculously legit too.  Any suggestions for the next incarnation???

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vegan Banana Bread: The Fourth Incarnation

To chase the stir fry on Avatar Day I had planned on making a recipe for vegan banana bread for a fourth time.  My good friend Erin, who adopted veganism for lent, and my homeboy Lazer were sick of hearing me talk about how awesome I think I am for always making such sweet banana bread so we had all planned to put it behind us that night.

The recipe is ridiculously simple and the process is seriously dummy-proof. Click Here For Vegan Banana Bread Recipe Another recipe I found while at work (Employee of the Month), I like this better than the countless other recipes around because it is fat-free and surprisingly customizable (Jamie likes to remind me how precise baking is compared to cooking even though I measure everything out perfectly as yet another outward manifestation of my O.C.D.).  The first time I made this recipe was on the night that my friend Natalee taught Jamie and I how to roll sushi (which was one of the single most empowering experiences of my life, realz!) and I followed the recipe verbatim for fear of botching it and looking stupid in front of everyone (Jamie and Natalee)!  Everything went fine and the bread turned out well but a bit bland.  So, next time around I had this genius idea to substitute chocolate silk for vanilla silk to up the flavors, but being that it is only 1/2 cup it didn't make any sort of noticeable difference and I decided that it was time to get real serious on this banana bread.  I hit up my local co-op in search of vegan chocolate chips and scored a bag of carob chips, a chocolate-like alternative.  Borrowing from a similarly portioned recipe, I simply tossed in 1/2 cup of carob chips at the final stage of mixing prior to baking and the result was exactly what I was looking for... a major flavor to kick my banana bread in the ass and get it motivated.

On this fourth occasion, I used both the chocolate soy milk and carob (why not!?) and it turned out beautifully, as usual.  We decided to follow a suggestion on the recipe's site that recommended wrapping the slices in foil and freezing them only to pan fry them in olive oil later for a toasty version.  It tasted pretty rad that way, but my bread has this habit of crumbling in a serious way when we slice it so I hope to somehow remedy this issue by tinkering a bit more in the future... more to come on this tip!

Lazer Ray's Vegan Ramen Stir Fry

Anyone who has been paying attention at any point over the last two years understands that Lazer Ray is my boy, plain and simple.  I take care of him (float him Avatar cards) and he takes care of me (insists on making me dinner).  Yesterday we celebrated Avatar Day (no, not like in Avatar: The Last Airbender Season Two: Episode Six "Avatar Day") and over the course of a day such a celebration can take a lot out of a guy.  Naturally, I tried to convince Lazer that we should just eat whatever I have on hand, typically more than enough, but he felt the need to repay me for whatever (he always makes this shit up) and insisted that we run to the grocery store so he could score the necessary jams for some stir fry... why even try to dissuade him?

The ingredients and process weren't too out of the ordinary for stir fry.  Lazer loves to include standard ramen noodles but all of the accompanying seasoning packets contain milk so we ran with some veggie broth I had on had to boil the noodles while we fried everything else in a skillet.  He usually rolls a szechuan stir-fry sauce that we couldn't find so we tried out some new cut that was deceptively tangy but it worked as will any sort of stir-fry sauce.  We tossed half a head of sliced cabbage ("My cabbages!" -Unfortunate Bystander) and some frozen broccoli into my steamer to soften them up some before throwing them in the skillet with some freshly chopped mushrooms, minced garlic, olive oil and soy sauce.  Lazer was reaching for some chili powder but I've yet to add that to my spice arsenal so we made do with what we had on hand.  After letting the veggies and spices fry on their lonesome for a bit we added the ramen noodles and a bit of the veggie broth they were cooking in and that was essentially all there was to it.

For making things up as we went along it turned out seriously ill.  If we ever get down to it again I'm gonna lobby harder for water chestnuts and I'll make sure to stock up on chili powder and the aforementioned szechuan stir-fry sauce!


I moved into my very first apartment on January 1, 2005.  It was the dingiest, most repulsive four walls I've ever subjected myself to, but at the time it was affordable and I wasn't aware that someone my age could even live anywhere cleaner.  One of my roommates (the one I didn't have to share a bedroom with) had a pretty sweet hookup for free home cooking through his mom's catering company which, coincidentally enough, I used to work for.  Around the day our fridge broke his mom had given us this gigantic vat of cheesy grits, which I had only ever even heard of through the episode in Duck Tales in which the Civil War re-enactors fired piles of the stuff at each other through cannons... good episode actually.  Anyhow, we were poor, it was free and the clock was ticking on how long it would keep in our busted fridge... so we attacked it with ravenous fury.  To my surprise, it was DELICIOUS.  Just add salt and pepper, reheat and it was an instant free breakfast, lunch and dinner for days!

After purchasing my first slow-cooker the other day I started cruising vegan recipes on my phone while I was at work (Employee of the Month) and I stumbled across a very simple recipe for grits.  Click Here For Grits Recipe  It has got to be the simplest recipe I've attacked to date.  For anyone not familiar with grits, I can only describe them as either cornmeal porridge or mashed potatoes sans potatoes, add corn.  To get a feel for how these grits might taste I took a bear-bones approach and used boiling water in lieu of soy milk or vegetable broth and I skipped the optional butter or olive oil.  It occurred to me as strange that a crock pot recipe called for constant stirring but I soon learned why.  I got the grits going right before I worked for a few hours so I had the chance to stir them once or twice before skipping out and I noticed a little bit of build up on the sides of the crock pot.  When I got home it was straight up CORN BREAD surrounding the finished grits in the middle.  Oops.  I did my best to mash and incorporate it into the legit grits with mixed success but after a healthy smattering of salt and pepper they didn't taste half bad, perhaps a bit bland (sorry Jamie!).  

Being that I have a gigantic bag of cornmeal on hand now I'm certain I'll tackle this recipe again but with a few key revisions.  I would definitely go with the soy milk instead of the boiled water and I'd add the optional vegan butter to try to give it a bit more flavor.  Also, something I'd considered but decided against initially was to score some absurdly expensive vegan cheese and add that to the mix in some fashion to harken back to my grit roots! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pisum Sativum

Or in modern english, peas.

Sometime in February a roommate of mine was of the mind that purchasing some plants would impress a certain lady he was angling to further include in his life, a fine notion indeed.  Coincidentally, I had been sifting through the idea of growing my own vegetables for a while.  A chance encounter with a pack of pea seeds at my local co-op, The Wedge, put my first botanical endeavor in motion.  Seven peat pots with one pea seed in each have been growing in a window sill in my house since early March.  I enlisted the help of my roommates Jack and Kathan, and a friend to plant these seeds.  We each named ours and we landed ourselves a few B-list actors and a handful of Romans.  And, as history would have it, on the eve of the Ides of March, in phoenix-esque fashion, Gaius Julius Caesar was the first to sprout!  Soon after three more sprouted and hopefully the other three will follow suit soon, we need a high yield for the hard times this harvest is sure to bring!

The Immaculate Inception

I has a blog?


I've been meaning to create a blog for a while now.  I'm not sure what it's ultimate shape and purpose will be, but for now I intend to document my explorations into vegan culinary experiments and my botanical endeavors.  It should be interesting, if not awesome, thanks to any and all that glean any sort of insight or entertainment from my ramblings... lets do it!