Thrifty Vegan

Rebecca C. Brown discusses food, funds, and fun. And she might, like, ramble about other stuff too. Whatever.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Magic of Roasted Root Vegetables

Few things in life are more inspiring than foods that are delicious with almost no processing. I consider the carrot a testament to the tasty capabilities of nature; is there anything more scrumptious than lightly steamed carrot medallions with just a dash or salt? You can even skip the salt, that's how naturally frickin' delicious a carrot is.

I recently discovered the indisputable magic of roasted root vegetables. Something about putting vitamin-rich tubers in 450-degree heat for half an hour brings out their inherent sweetness and delicate flavor. Roasted veggies are also embarrassingly easy to prepare. Here's what I like to roast in my oven:
  • Carrots (cut into thick sticks)
  • Yams (any vareity; in 1" cubes)
  • Potatoes (russets and yukon golds are my favorites; in 3/4" cubes)
  • Beets (golden [I've yet to try the red ones]; in 1/2" cubes or smaller)
  • Parsnips (in thin disks)
  • Onions (cut into crescents)
Here's how I prepare them:
  • Chop 'em! (the proportions are entirely up to you)
  • Put 'em in a 9" X 12" Pyrex baking dish!
  • Mix 'em up with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to taste! (optional due to the vegetables' own yumminess, but you might have some stickage if you don't use a little oil)
  • Put 'em in a 450-degree oven for 30-45 minutes, stirring once or twice!
  • Eat 'em!
When they're good and ready (i.e., when they as soft as you want them), I like to turn the oven off, top the veggies with some raw baby spinach, and leave that in the closed oven for a few minutes. It wilts the spinach just right and adds a welcome dash of vibrant green to an otherwise warm color pallette.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hobo stew, vaguely Mexican-style!

For reasons too mysterious and boring to explain, my boyfriend's car broke down this weekend, thus rendering us without an automotive vehicle. (Why don't you have a car, Rebecca, you ask? Because I'm a horrible driver.) For reasons still too boring to go into, we had no food in the house, save for some random staples. Given that Oakland was about 147 degrees Fahrenheit this past Saturday, the prospect of riding our bikes to Berkeley Bowl and/or Trader Joe's was too grissly to bear, relegating us to rely on our semi-crappy, very local grocery store.

Here's the story of how we made a frickin' delicious meal with limited transportation resources.

What we had:
  • Frozen corn
  • Canned black beans
  • Half a leftover onion
  • All the spices your little heart could ever want
What we bought:
  • Wildwood firm tofu (the only brand carried by Piedmont Grocery)
  • Roma tomato
  • Small zucchini
  • Red bell pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime
  • Avocado
  • Corn tortillas
Though we bought a large variety of items, it represented a small, inexpensive, easily transportable volume of goods. Here's what I did with the ingredients:
  • Chopped or diced each ingredient according to preference; the tofu is best in 0.25"-0.5" cubes
  • Marinated the tofu in 3/4ths the juice of one lime with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, and (for some reason) allspice to taste
  • Carmelized the onions, then added the corn and tomato (with the squishy stuff removed), then the tofu, then the beans and bell pepper, and lastly the cilantro
  • Cooked these long enough to brown the tofu and onions but not so long that the bell pepper turned orange and flaccid
  • Meanwhile, I warmed each corn tortilla in an un-greased non-Teflon frying pan, just enough to blacken a few spots on each side
  • Meanwhile number two, I mushed together the avocado with the rest of the lime juice and some salt and pepper to make a refreshing green topping
  • Served this mixture up somewhat hapahazardly, but you might want to craft some cute lil' mini-burritos or something like that
Voila! A delicious, refreshing meal that went well with the hot weather outside and that didn't necessitate a car, lots of money, or very much time. I'm also happy to report that the mixture held up well overnight in the fridge. The tofu was especially durable; maybe grocery store tofu monopolies aren't such a bad thing after all.

Happy eating, and good luck beating the heat!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Delicious Vegan Cornmeal Waffles

Nothing says "I love you" like crafting a tasty breakfast for your partner.* One easy way to impress your beloved is to whip up some delicious and partially healthful waffles. This recipe yields a scrumptious crispy waffle kissed with the natural sweetness of corn and whole wheat. And sugar.

Delicious Vegan Cornmeal Waffles

Equipment Needed
  • Small and medium mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Whisk or stiff silicone spatula/scraper
  • Thin silicone spatula/scraper
  • Flour sifter (optional - but you really should sift your flour)
  • Cooking spray (optional)
  • Waffle maker (I recommend the Cuisinart 2-slice Belgian Waffle Maker, available at Amazon for $39.95)
Dry Ingredients
  • 3/4 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1 1/8 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/8 c. cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. vegan sugar
Wet Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 c. soy milk
  • 1/4 c. softened Earth Balance (or other vegan margarine)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed meal plus 2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with approx. 1/2 c. water
  • Thoroughly mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a whisk or stiff spatula (do not over-mix - it is okay to have pockets of margarine or small dough clumps in the batter)
  • Let the batter sit for a few minutes; meanwhile, plug in the waffle maker and heat to desired setting (I recommend a higher setting for these hardy waffles)
  • When the waffle maker is ready (indicated on the aforementioned Cuisinart by an obnoxious yet effective "Beep!"), lightly coat the waffle grid with cooking spray (optional), and pour desired amount of batter onto the grid (3/4 c. batter with my waffle maker - just fill a whole cup 3/4ths full); use thin spatula to distribute the batter near the corners of the grid and to scrape out the contents of the measuring cup
  • Wait patiently while your waffle maker works its magic (my appliance indicates when the waffle is done by yet again beeping that horrifying beep)
  • Keep prepared waffles toasty in a warm oven until they are ready to be eaten
  • This recipe yields 6 waffles in the Cuisinart 2-waffle maker
A quick tip: in my experience, prepared waffles keep better overnight than waffle batter. Because it contains moisture-activated leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder), using wet batter the day after it was prepared produces flat, dense waffles. Reheated waffles, on the other hand, are crispy! Some might even say too cripsy and/or stale! Meh, each to his own. If you choose to reheat them, do so in an oven, for god's sake; don't use a microwave unless you enjoy soggy, soul-less waffles.

It's also smart to minimize the number of times you need to clean your frickin' waffle maker.


*Actually, more literally, nothing says "I love you" like saying "I love you." Breakfast doesn't talk.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Little Money, Less Meat: The Thrifty Vegan Introduction

I have been a vegan for eight years. I have been aware of the piddly nature of my income for a few months. Luckily, this combination of restrictions, one voluntary, the other imposed by my lack of marketable skills, has forced me to adopt home cooking as my favorite hobby. (Note that home-cooking is not my new favorite hobby; homes are not fun to cook.)

Far be it from me to deprive the public of the culinary tips and delicious vegan recipes I acquire while hard at work in my kitchen. Thus, welcome to The Thrifty Vegan, Rebecca C. Brown's guide to living a tasty life of self-deprivation.

I might also accidentally tell you about my personal life or rant about political injustice in between posts about the merits of Tofutti cheese cakes and the importance of using an oven thermometer. (Seriously, you really need an oven thermometer.)

Happy reading and eating!