everything here is eatable

Mostly-vegan low-fat whole foods recipes

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Singapore Spice Lentils and Vegetables

I return, with no good excuses, but a good recipe! I have to say, I just haven't been making anything all that interesting or trying out many new recipes since the beginning of the summer. Sure there has been the fabulous wedding recipe/Katie's birthday chia spice cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream icing, and some really amazing almost accidental spiced molasses cookies at Christmas (you HAVE to try this recipe!), but the camera didn't make it out for those. Really, many other things have been keeping me occupied and eating new and interesting and photogenic food has fallen a bit by the wayside (along with nutrition, to a degree, causing an, um, slight ill-fitting of a lot of my clothing...). But one of my resolutions this year is to blog on here at least once a week, and I'm actually pretty good at keeping my resolutions. So I start this new year (albeit a few weeks late) with an actual real live recipe!

My parents have the good fortune of living less than a quarter mile from one of the few Penzeys Spices stores. This place is amazing...you can smell it from down the street and it is like entering a cook's heaven just walking in the door. Many many spices and blends, including a lot of things I've never seen anywhere else. I mean, they have five kinds of cinnamon! So, we go there a lot when we visit but when Katie and I headed down to Boston for New Years to spend a late Christmas, we were gifted with a whole lot of Penzeys things, most of them stuff we hadn't tried before. One was a packet of Singapore seasoning, which Penzeys describes as "the best of both East and West to produce a flavorful all-purpose Southeast Asian mix." It is basically a mild, sweet lemon pepper curry and one sniff just begged for lentils and coconut. So here you go, Singapore Spice :Lentils and Vegetables. If you aren't lucky enough to have access to a Penzeys and don't want to mail-order some, I'd try mixing 1/3 lemon pepper with the good sweet curry like garam masala or something similar, but Penzeys also has the ingredients, sans proportions, for all their spice blends on their site.

Singapore Spice Lentils and Vegetables

1 1/4 c dry red lentils
2 tbsp Penzeys Singapore Spice seasoning
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp or to taste red pepper flakes
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch or so peeled grated fresh ginger
2 carrots, sliced thinly
3-4 cups other vegetables of choice (I used spinach, peas and a frozen tri-color pepper blend)
1 cup lite coconut milk, or, if one is following an Eat to Live-style low fat diet or just trying to cut down the calories, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk and 1/8 tsp coconut flavoring works almost as well
salt or Bragg's Liquid Aminos to taste

In a large, deep, lidded skillet, saute the onions in a bit of cooking spray and water over medium heat until they begin to soften. Add garlic and carrots and saute for a few more minutes. Add ginger, lentils and dry spices. Toss to coat. Add enough water to cover plus about 1/4 inch and let come a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer 10 to 15 minutes, adding additional water if necessary (I never time lentils, just check them occasionally), until the lentils are almost cooked. Add coconut milk (or flavored almond milk) and remaining veggies, plus an addition 1/2 of water if necessary. Bring back up to a boil, reduve heat again and cover, allowing to cook until the veggies are soft and the lentils are cooked through. Remove from heat, taste and add salt or Bragg's as necessary. Let sit 10-15 minutes for the flavors to mellow a bit (we ate it right away and the first helping seemed a bit too lemony but the second was perfect). Serve dressed with some chopped cilantro and/or fresh scallions (neither of which we had).

Makes 5-6 servings.

I just realized that next week, I may not be able to blog, as the computer has to go back to Dell for a few days to a week to fix the DVD drive. But I will get back on again as soon as I can, I swear

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A cupcake update and stories from the Rochester underground

I am quite happy to be able to report that the second batch of cupcakes, despite previous misgivings, turned out awesome. I made the second batch to take to a church thing on sunday, so they were sitting in the fridge from Friday night to around 3:30 on sunday. Apparently, a 2 day nap was all they needed to turn into little tasty and very red bites of goodness. I had tried one (non-mini) on saturday morning (yum, cupcakes for breakfast) and I had noticed that the color had moved decidely from the dissappointing brown of the night before to a rusty red.

Well, I wish I had thought to snap a few shots of the minis before they got snarfed up, because they got really red. The beety flavor also toned itself down a lot (probably helped by generous dollops of frosting) and they were super moist and velvety, as opposed to the first batch, which was a bit dry and gummy. They needed a bit more sugar, but that is easily fixed next time. I think with one more test batch (far in the future, I am so red velveted out right now!) these should be recipe-posting ready!

In other, non-food related news, on Saturday we went on a tour of the Rochester aquaduct/canalway/subway tunnels, which was amazingly cool. Apparently, at one point the part of the Erie Canal that ran through Rochester was, once drained, was used as subway tunnels, making Rochester the only city of its size in the country to ever have a subway system. Although its abandoned now, a lot of the exiisting structures are still there below the city; stairways, stations, work buildings, all built within the old canal system. The tour took us through the part of downtown where you can see both the still-functioning parts of the canal and drainage system and the remains of the aquaducts from above ground, and then down into subway tunnels. There is a push by the group leading the tours (I believe the Canal Association of New York or something like that) to revitilize the old canalways running through the city as both a tourist attraction and eventually as a functioning commerce route. I'm just going to post a bunch of the pictures I took in a vague order. There was a lot more things deeper under, including the old stations and more stairways, but my camera isn't too good in the dark so I didn't gett many decent shots. The tunnel does run about a mile under the city and it is possible to walk all the way to the end, but it is only open to public access at certain times.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

red-ish velvet-ish cupcakes

The future wife and Asher-the-devil-dog hiking through the autumn landscape

We've decided to have cupcakes in place of a traditional cake for the wedding. Not only cupcakes, but 3 flavors of gluten-free vegan cupcakes. The 3 flavors are, tentatively, red velvet w/ cream cheese icing, chai w/ cinnamon buttercream icing and peanut butter w/ chocolate icing. And the testing began today.

My goal is to figure a way to make the red velvet cakes without the 4000 gallons (or 2-4 ounces...) of red dye 40, which terrifies me and is something I don't feel is appropriate for human consumption. Although there is an amazing amount of debate on the subject, and seemingly on all subjects related to red velvet cake, most sources cite 2 possible natural sources for the red; the natural chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the acidity of the batter (which has both buttermilk and vinegar traditionally), and some combination of beet products, from shredded beets (raw or cooked), pureed beets, beet juice, pickled beet juice, etc. I like the more subtle forms of red velvet that are basically a white cake with a small amount of cocoa powder, so I didn't trust using just the cocoa powder to get the color, so I made one batch using a small amount of pureed pickled beets along with a syrup made from boiling down the pickled beet juice (which usually contains HFCS, which I didn't know when I bought it...ugh).

The results were, um, disappointingly...not red. Pink isn't really even an adequate description...perhaps "brain colored"? "Salmon"? I don't know, but not red. The flavor, however, is really good, just enough cocoa as to not taste like a chocolate cake but still to taste like something more than vanilla. It probably helps that I used really good expensive cocoa powder...but, alas, the color bumped this variation out of the running.

So, I made another batch...or another 1/2 batch, using a combination of pureed canned beets (not pickled) and beet juice.

The batter was a lovely shade of purply red, and the top of the cupcakes looked lovely.

The inside...still brown, but not so brain-like, so I guess that an improvement. They do, however, taste slightly of beets. Which is not so ideal. And the color still isn't there. But the tops are pretty!

I fear that I may have to compromise my values a bit and use some red dye if I want these things to actually look red. I'll keep trying a bit though. All I have to say is, now that I have about a billion cupcakes, I am so glad I'm visiting family tomorrow and have a church thing on Sunday where we're supposed to bring food...because I am quite sick of odd colored cuppers...

Oh, and we took some "engagement" photos the other day at our venue, since we wanted to see how the foliage would look.

This one came out pretty cute, helped out a lot by the dogs (look at Kasie peeking over Ash's head!). Please ignore the craziness of my socks!

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I know, I know, I'm sorry!

Hey there, I'm back from the dead! Well, no, not really, but it has been so very very long since I have posted and even longer since I've made a "real" post, with a recipe and pictures and everything. This summer sort of got away from me, between gardening, work, a new dog and all that. Throw in a dead laptop, missing (for months!) battery charger for the camera, and general distraction and you've got a very bad blogger. But, wait, I now have motivation to post again, a reason to blog because...Katie and I are getting married, legally! Now that Massachusetts did away with their law banning out-of-state couple from marrying there, and New York announced that they will recognize "foreign" same-sex marriages, we've decided to go ahead and make it official next October (1 year and, eek, 4 days from now!). And, because planning a wedding (especially one that involves two actual ceremonies) isn't complicated enough, we are DIYing about 90% of the thing...including food. So, yes, now we need to pick, plan and test a full menu of gluten-free vegan appetizers, entrees and cupcakes to feed 60-70 people, most of whom are not gluten-free or vegan and will need to be won over by the wonderful tastiness of whatever we make. We actually have a semi-planned out menu at this point, but much testing and tweaking needs to be done, and, hopefully, that process will be played out here for the world to see (yay?). Plus, the "food season" is starting, beginning with Katie's birthday on the 25th, and we are hosting Thanksgiving for an as-yet-to-be-determined number of people this year, there will be much food to be blogged about in the coming months.

Anyway, I just wanted to crawl out from under my rock and say...stay tuned for the first wedding cupcake testing coming friday....

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Introducing the boys!

Allow me to digress from food posts for a bit and take some time to introduce the three newest members of our family. A few weeks back, Bazu posted about 70+ rats who, after being used as psychology class test subjects, needed homes. Katie and I used to have rats, lots of rats in fact, and we lost our last girl a little over 6 months ago. Nearly all of our ratties were rescues, some with chronic health problems, some with neurological and psychological issues, but they were all such incredible sweeties and we missed having them around. When I saw Bazu's post about how some of these rats were coming to Syracuse, being fostered by a SARO member, Katie and I decided to adopt some of these boys. Actually, the foster, who had, I think, 40-something rats in her dining room at that point, lives just 2 blocks away from us, so, after contacting her, we took a carrier and walked down the street to pick them up. It was hard to pick 3 out of 40, especially 40 pink-eyed-white males, but our boys made themselves known.

Their names are Cedric,

Francois (Franny) and Beauregard (Beau).

Cedric is the biggest (he's , um, quite large, actually, as you can see below) and most likely the oldest, from the fall semester, making him about 6-7 month old,

while Franny and Beau are smaller, so far, and are most likely 4-5 month old.

Since they are males, they will actually all get bigger, as males rats don't really stop growing until they are 3 or so (and most rats don't live much longer than that). I'd guess Cedric come in close to a pound, though he should be, ahem, a *bit* less, and the other two are around .5-.75 lbs each.

They are all quite skittish, though the "little boys" a lot more so, but friendly and interested in us and, while they are very nervous about being picked up, they don't mind being held or petted. Cedric "popcorned" for the first time in front of us the other night, a ratty version of a happy dance. We are looking forward to seeing them brux, a happy eye-boggling, teeth-grinding thing they do when they are happy and relaxed.

We've switched them over to a diet based on Gluten-Free Vegan's rat diet , though at this point, anything that is not a nut or pellet that they eat is a victory. So far, strawberries are a big hit, as is watermelon, and, though they don't want to admit it, they like broccoli. The kale and apple that they got last night mysteriously disappeared overnight, though I did find a 2 day old piece of carrot buried in their bedding this afternoon. Tonight, we try lentils, which will be their first beans, and possibly asparagus. Hopefully we'll be able to undo their first few months on a lab diet and help prevent tumors and cancer later on. (Look, I tied this post back into food, woohoo!)

Thanks, Bazu, for letting us know about these boys! Hopefully we can make up for how badly they were treated as babies and they can learn to trust people again.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jar-Cakes and Jackfruit

I wrote this awhile ago, drafted it until I could get the pictures uploaded and forgot about it until today...so , um, pretend its 5/6/08...

I've been meaning to try out making Cakes-In-A-Jar for awhile now...I'm sure most other bakers have already tried these things, but I really don't bake all that often, since baking normally involves more sugar than I like to use. But I decided, for Mother's day, since I won't be able to make it down to Boston until mid June, I'd make my mom some jar-muffins and send them down for a little Mother's day breakfast treat. After some not-so-subtle questioning about preferred sweet bread flavors, I settled on lemon-poppy seed. I ended up using the recipe from VWAV, though I added lemon juice to replace some of the rice milk (adding flavor and making buttermilk) and doubled the poppy seeds...and used spelt flour, since we don't even have "real" wheat flour in the house anymore. I decided to use 4-z canning jars, since they are just about muffin sized and would be easier to ship. I was a bit skeptical about the whole jar thing working, I do have to say...I only made half the batch in the jars, so I'd have some actual muffins to send just in case, but they sealed up just fine. Which worked out nicely, since now there are muffins for us to snack on...or there were, before breakfast this morning. They were pretty good, though I do have to say, I think the recipe calls for a bit too much baking powder...1 tbsp seems like a lot (though they didn't seem to be overleavened) and there was a tiny bit of a bitterness to them, though that could have been from me overzesting the lemon and going too far into the pith. I think next time, for the muffins-in-a-jar, I'll make a quick glaze with just some lemon juice and powdered sugar and put it on right before sealing them up.

here are some non-jarred muffins...just in case the jars didn't seal...really shows off all the random crap on my counter...

And, also yesterday, I finally found a way to use a can of green jackfruit I picked up a few months ago. Thanks to for bringing this recipe from the Urban Housewife
to my attention! Jackfruit carnitas tacos will definitely be made again here...not only are they super easy but they were so good! Next time, 2 cans of jackfruit though, because, even though I made it a bit too hot and it felt like we were breathing fire, I think we both could have eaten more and there were not nearly enough leftovers to pick at the next day.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Asparagus! or, Why do vegans need a giant grill?

I love spring...the sun is shining (when its not raining), flowers are blooming, birds are singing, bugs are buzzing (just take a look above at the little guy I found on my baby pepper plant!) everyone is wandering around in their t-shirts, looking slightly dazed and pale...oh, yes, and my favorite food season is just getting into the swing of things. We picked up our first local asparagus at the farmer's market on Saturday! I have to admit, although I try, I'm not a very good locavore in the winter...there comes a point where one just can't force oneself to eat yet another meal of cabbage...but I draw the line at buying two things out of season; tomatoes and asparagus. Its just not worth it! Plus, the anticipation alone makes them tasty so incredible when they finally come into season. So when we saw the booths with row after row of spiky bundles of green, we snatched one up.

Originally, I intended just to lightly steam it and then sprinkle with crushed garlic and lemon juice, but then Katie suggested grilling it. You see, we got a grill for my birthday...and not just any grill, a kinda-large grill, with a side burner and one of those baking rack things so you can toast buns or bake potatoes or whatever. At first, I was thinking, 'this is a bit ridiculously large! Really, how much grilling space do we really need?" (we don't eat a lot of veggie burgers and all that), but we've used it twice so far and, both times, we managed to fill up the whole thing. To accompany the asparagus, I halved some red peppers, some mini eggplants, some mushrooms on a skewer, and some leeks, and whipped up a quick glaze made from wheat-free hoisin sauce, balsamic vinegar, a drizzle of agave nectar, garlic powder and crushed red pepper flakes. All those roasted to perfection, with the addition of some sweet potatoes wrapped in foil and placed on the above-mentioned baking rack thinger, and we had an amazing meal. I swear, I'm never going to eat sweet potatoes baked any other way again!

And the asparagus? Perfection. Slightly sweet from the glaze and slightly smoky but still crisp. I love spring.

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