Monday, November 30, 2009

Vegan Migas!

Vegan Migas!

Ben Snakepit is a comic artist who draws a three panel strip every day of his life and publishes collections of the strips every year or so. Most of his comics are about taking drugs, playing in bands, and feeling ill. So, I'm pretty sure that Mr. Snakepit and I wouldn't have a whole lot in common (except for the fact that our first books were published by the same publisher) if we ever were to hang out. However, reading his comics is kind of like reading the diary of someone prone to disaster, and we all know how entertaining that kind of thing is. So I keep reading.

Recently the Man of Science was working his way through my collection of Snakepit books and he brought up something that hadn't really occurred to me.

"Reading those comics really makes me want Mexican food."

It's true. Most of the comics take place in Austin, Texas where Mexican food is plentiful and probably delicious. And in a lot of the strips, Ben is eating at Mexican restaurants and proclaiming his love of various dishes. The most common dish he talks about is something called "migas" which I had never heard of before.

(comic from My Life In A Jugular Vein: Three More Years of Snakepit Comics by Ben Snakepit)

When I was visiting Nicole, Alex, and baby Jake last week, I was thumbing through a cookbook of theirs and saw a very non-vegan recipe for migas. It helped me understand what the dish was, so I scrawled out a few notes on how I might make a vegan version without all the eggs, milk, butter, and cheese.

I must say, I was delighted with these results. This was a new take on the usual tofu scramble, and it was quick and easy to make. I added avocado instead of cheese on the top to give it the same kind of fatty goodness. All in all, a resounding success.

chop chop

Vegan Migas

3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1 tbsp vegan margarine (or olive oil in a pinch)
1 pound of tofu, mashed
1 onion, diced
1 tomato roughly chopped
2 tbsp unflavoured, unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp chipotle hot sauce
1 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, diced

Melt margarine over medium heat and add tortilla strips. Fry until they are browned and slightly crispy.

Remove strips from the pan and set aside.

Keeping pan over medium heat, add onions and cook, stirring until they are tender.

Add tofu, tomatoes, soy milk, hot sauce, and turmeric.

Reduce heat to med-low and stir mixture occasionally as it cooks until tomatoes have softened, about seven minutes.

Add fried tortilla pieces and stir them in with the tofu.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with avocado slices on top.

Feeds two hungry people, or four less hungry people (especially if served with a side of spicy breakfast potatoes.)

ingredients (well, the important ones)

Some (long!) Notes:

- We had a real scare with our dog, Catie, this last week. The week before she'd been listless and barfy, but the vet said that she probably had a stomach bug and gave her antibiotics. The medicine didn't do anything, and she got worse and worse, refusing to eat and only drinking water occasionally. She was so weak she couldn't get off the couch and barely opened her eyes when we called her name. The Man of Science ended up taking her to a different vet who suspected that she had what is called "Addison's Disease". She had to stay at the emergency vet clinic overnight for two nights while they fed her intravenously and monitored her condition. She is doing much better now, and she will be fine as long as she takes medicine for the rest of her life. As the vet said, the disease is deadly if it's not treated, but if treated, dogs can live a perfectly normal life.

-Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all my American readers! Up here in Canada we're all "been there done that", but I certainly loved hearing about the great feasts that were prepared south of the border. And holy! Martha Stewart even got on the veggie Thanksgiving bandwagon. I sort of love her.

-I'm not really a fan of PETA because they often end up being mean, offensive, and sexist just to get publicity. However, I gave them a tiny bit of my heard earned money this week and ordered this t-shirt which shouts out in big black letters exactly how I feel about people buying animals from breeders. I imagine that there will be a lot of backlash on this count this week, given the horrid conditions that have been discovered at the Toronto Humane Society, so I just want to remind people that there are lots of reputable shelters and rescue organizations out there where you can adopt an animal in need even if you want to avoid the Human Society. The two dogs I've adopted in my life came from the Aylmer SPCA and BARK Rescue and I had positive experiences with both organizations.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Molasses Ginger Cookies

molasses ginger cookies

I've been a bit of a jet setting vegan these past few weeks. I was in Montreal last weekend for Expozine, and after that I drove all over creation for work during the week. And then, on Thursday night I left on the not-quite-midnight train to Toronto so I could visit my friends Nicole and Alex and their excellent baby, Jacob. Who, by the way, looks like this:


Well. If that doesn't kick you in the babymaker, I don't know what will.

Where were we? Cookies! Right. Backing up! On my trip to Montreal I brought along some cookies and some date balls for the friends who were hosting me. The weekend before that one I'd traded a batch of these cookies for a big bin of compost for my garden plots, so I knew they would bake up nicely.

This is an old recipe from my university days when I wasn't afraid of Crisco. Now I am unnerved by vegetable shortening, but I forged ahead with the recipe anyway. If someone wants to try these with Earth Balance and get back to me, I'd be curious to hear how they work out. For now, I stuck with the original recipe. And they were fantastic.


Molasses Ginger Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar (plus 1/4 cup more for tops of cookies)
1 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup blackstrap molasses

Preheat oven to 370 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until mixture is crumbly.

Mix in molasses and knead dough until ingredients are well mixed and dough is smooth.

Roll dough into a long cylinder and cut into thin, cookie-sized slices.

Spread 1/4 cup of sugar on a small plate and gently press each cookie's top into the sugar.

Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.

Makes approximately two dozen cookies.

Some Notes:

-These cookies are not, in the slightest, good for you. But, oh, how delicious they are. So we can overlook the shortening issue in the name of Everything In Moderation. Don't eat these cookies every day. Don't eat ten of them while you veg on the couch in front of Battlestar Galactica episodes. Just sayin'.

-This brand of molasses used to bear the slogan "A Good Source of Iron". The problem was, they placed the slogan right below the product name and therefore the box seemed to be proclaiming, "GRANDMA: A Good Source of Iron". This delighted me every time I reached for the box. Now they have done away with the slogan, perhaps because they didn't like the inference that consuming one's Nana was an excellent way to prevent anemia.

-When I gave these to my friend Jesse in Montreal he blurted out, "How do we know these won't suck? You don't eat sugar!" Well, jokes on you, Jesse. I know you loved the cookies and the SUGAR FREE date balls that came with them. Never doubt me again.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

National Bundt Cake Day!

Time to celebrate! Today, apparently, is National Bundt Cake Day! For real. If I'd known it was coming I'd have baked a cake. Well, that's a lie, because I did know it was coming, but I'm in Montreal this weekend selling zines and books at Expozine, and hence have no time for cake baking. So please, enjoy these two bundt cake re-runs from the past. Celebratory baked goods are always a good idea.

Blueberry Bundt Cake

new bundt pan with blueberry bundt cake

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

Spiced Pumpkin Bundt Cake



Friday, November 13, 2009

Recent Kitchen Acquisitions

The radio silence around here lately has been due to a couple things. One, I now finally have my own camera back, after I broke it and then sent it to Canon to fix and then they broke it and I sent it back to them and they fixed it and sent it back to me. I love my camera so much, but I certainly do not love the crappy customer service I've gotten from Canon both times I've needed it to be fixed. Anyway, I'm getting back into the swing of using my own camera again, but holy, have I ever forgotten how to do just about everything camera related.

And also, I haven't exactly been a daredevil in the kitchen lately. Or in any other realm for that matter. If the non-musical Man of Science notices that I've listening to the same songs over and over again, then I must really be listening to the same songs over and over again. The same goes for food, but luckily the MoS has no problem with repeated servings of chickpea cutlets and mushroom gravy. Delicious! But not blog worthy.

So, to get back in the swing of things, I thought I'd use this post to showcase some of the exciting, non-edible things that have come into my kitchen recently, namely a rather early Christmas gift from the Man of Science. Why early you may ask? Because I happened to be home sick from work when the delivery man knocked on the door and said, "Can you sign for this delivery of knives from Japan?" And I did. And thus the surprise was ruined.


These knives are something else. They are so delightfully well made and so very sharp they have changed the way I conduct myself in the kitchen. For instance, they slice onions so efficiently that my sensitive-eye weeping spells seem to be a thing of the past. That alone, is worth ordering knives from Japan.

The Man of Science was a good sport about his Christmas surprise being ruined. Even when a second package arrived and he shrugged and said, "You might as well open it. It goes with the knives."

ok, padma

Ah! Eee! Woot! It's a "Please Pack Your Knives And Go" apron! I am in love with it. And yes, it was the perfect companion piece to the Japanese knives. Lucky me! But poor Man of Science with his excellent surprise all wrecked.

The third new item was a Value Village score. Value Village has been my second home lately, as I gather fabric for Christmas sewing projects, and the other day I was doing my usual quick scan of the kitchen items and there was a big, heavy, glass lasagna pan. Exactly what I've been on the lookout for these past few months. Excellent!

lasagna pan and contents

So I made a lasagna. And I took a lot of pictures of it, thinking that I could post the recipe on here and get back into my recipe routine. But the lasagna was terminally mediocre and I wouldn't want to inflict that on all of you. Apparently it is going to take me a little bit longer to get back to this blogging business. Thanks for bearing with me.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

stuffed portobello mushrooms

Hello friends! Perhaps you've wondered where I've been all week? Perhaps you haven't. At any rate, I have been pretty much bedridden, trying desperately to get over The Cold That Would Not Leave. It's not swine flu, just a cold, but it has been the most ridiculously drawn-out cold I've had in years. It was like a slow motion cold. So when I was still feeling weak and hacky on Tuesday my boss told me to take the rest of the week off to rest and get better. And that's what I've done. Now finally today I am feeling like myself again. I imagine by the weekend I'll have energy to do regular stuff again. Which is good because I have an appointment to pick up a bunch of compost from a Facebook friend on Saturday. But that's a whole other story.

These mushrooms were made last week when The Cold That Would Not Leave was in its infancy. And they were awesome. Once again, I apologize for the wintery dark photos. I'll get the hang of seasonal photography soon, I promise.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

6 medium sized portobello mushrooms
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups chopped greens (I used kale and spinach)
1 rib of celery, chopped small
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and de-stem mushrooms. Place tops of mushrooms, undersides up, in a wide shallow baking dish.

Combine balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Drizzle over mushroom tops.

Chop mushroom stems into tiny pieces.

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic. Saute for two minutes, then add greens, mushroom stems, and celery. Stir until greens have wilted and darkened, approximately five minutes.

Add lemon juice, bread crumbs, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

Spoon mixture onto mushrooms evenly until none is left. Bake for fifteen minutes, or until breadcrumb mixture begins to brown.

Makes six mushrooms. The two of us ate them all in one sitting, so if you're serving more than two hungry people you may want to make more.


Some Notes:

-It's All Wilco All The Time around here these days. While I was sick I watched I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and fell in love with the band all over again. So glad I paid a million dollars to get tickets to see them play here in March.

-The Man of Science ordered some wicked awesome Japanese knives for me to use in the kitchen. I will post photos of them soon because they have changed my life. They were supposed to be a Christmas present, but because I was home sick I was here to get the package when the postman dropped them off and hence the surprise was ruined. Which was annoying for the Man of Science but fine for superstitious me who knows that giving a gift of knives is supposed to "sever your relationship". This way I can just pretend that the knives were bought randomly and leave it at that.

-Because of my illness I didn't get groceries this week so I've been making "stone soup" dinners all week just using whatever I can scrounge from the fridge. Tonight, that led to a surprisingly tasty chickpea and carrot pilaf flavoured with vermouth. Yum. It will almost be boring to have a fully stocked fridge again. Almost.


p.s. Happy Halloween! I was sick, but I managed to get dressed up and go party in a moderate manner.