Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sprout some Sprouts!

I don't know if it gets much more hippie-like than growing your own sprouts.  Sprouts are a great source of nutrients, are considered a superfood, and are delicious!  My fav to grow are fenugreek sprouts, primarily because the seeds are very accessible to me.  Whole Foods sells them in the bulk spice section and they are very easy to grow.  Other sprouts are delicious as well like broccoli, radish, sunflower, alfalfa, etc.  The process is pretty much the same for all these seeds, so google possible sprout choices and go to town!

The process is basically rinse and repeat until sprouts start to develop.  To start off you want to find a glass jar and a mesh lid.  It can be as elaborate or inexpensive as you want.  To make mine I got a bell jar and the tradition lid.  The lid typically is a metal disk and a ring that screws on.  I cut a piece out of some crappy nylons and then secured it to the jar with the ring, ditching the metal disk part.  This allows you to be able to drain off water without having all your seeds/sprouts escape.

Once you have your jar set and your seeds picked out, fill the bottom of the jar with seeds; I use about 2 spoonfuls for the fenugreek seeds.  Cover the seeds with water and let soak overnight.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Delicious Cookies

Mmm chocolate chip cookies!!  Normally I hate to turn on the oven during the summer.  Lately we've had non-stop 90 degree weather.  Today it got up to 93 degrees.  Tomorrow it's supposed to be 91 and Thursday it's supposed to be 94.  Ick. 

Occasionally, like today, a storm rolls through and the 90 degree weather takes a nose dive.  That day I happened to bust out quite a few meals and my bf felt bad, so he baked me some "Cowboy" cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  These ended up huge and delicious.  Nothing beats getting delicious homemade cookies without having to bake them yourself.

If you want to give them a whirl yourself, here's the recipe.  The cookbook is awesome; I'd definitely recommend you get a copy.  The Rocky Road cookies are also very, very good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gray goo

Have you ever made something that looks repulsive but tastes delicious?  I think to most people my morning smoothies have a strange tinge, but are quite tasty.  The combination of green leaves, red strawberries, and blue fruit doesn't combine to some beautiful color, that's for sure.

The food I made the other night might take the cake though.  It's what I would imagine liver pate to look like...

The pic isn't great, but it's basically gray goo.  A spreadable gray goo, similar to hummus in consistency.  What makes it gray?  Mushrooms!  I'll admit when I made this recipe and peered into my food processor, I was a bit put off.  How could something that looks like that, taste good? 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Late Nights and Lentils

Last night, which was a Sunday no less, I drove an hour up to my place of business to have a teleconference with a person I'm training in India.  I was at the office from 9:15-midnight and didn't get home until 1am.  It's amazing all the things that are different when you don't follow your usual routine.

For example, it usually only takes about 45 minutes to get there and back on a normal day.  There's never much traffic, but the distance is far.  Last night however, I failed to take into consideration that they do all the roadwork construction at night.  Luckily for me, I missed it going in to work, but I was significantly slowed down coming home, despite the late hour.  I'm impressed by those construction workers laying pavement at 1 am.

Additionally, the on ramp to the highway up at my office was closed, which meant I had to drive on a frontage road for a bit before I could get back on.  Driving on a frontage road is scary because you never know what sort of creature is going to pop out and scare the crap out of you.  I saw a couple of little dark creatures (like the size of a gerbil) dart across the road and a raccoon who shrank back when my lights blared it in the eyes.  It definitely had me freaked about a potential deer encounter.

Once I got to the office, I found that the normal entrance I drive through was padlocked closed.  I was a little concerned, but I'm still good on time, so I try the second gate.  This one is closed too.  Now I'm starting to freak out, because if I can't get in I'm basically going to have to turn around and go home, waste a night, and have no way to easily let my counterpart in India know what happened until an hour after I miss the start of the meeting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

When good things go bad

Today was a kitchen experiment disaster.  They don't happen too frequently, but when they do, it's a doozy.  I hate throwing out food, especially when I know I like some of the ingredients by themselves, but sometimes the concoction is so repulsive you just have to dump it. 

Recently I was gifted with a Vitamix, and I love it.  It can make smoothies in about a minute, which is awesome.  I've been drinking a smoothie of some sort almost every morning.  We were at the farmer's market last weekend and I picked up this lovely bunch of organic rainbow chard.  It was so pretty.  During the past week, I've been dumping some into my smoothie with the rest of the more fruity ingredients with much success.  It's an easy way to get more leafy greens in my diet without having to chow down on salad all the time.

At my regular grocery they had some of the greens on sale, so I wanted to pick up some more.  I've never had mustard greens before, so I grabbed a bunch.  Figuring they'd be like kale, spinach, chard, etc., this morning I put a bunch of leaves into my smoothie.  Big mistake.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's getting hot in here...

The temp is at 95F right now and it's hot.  I've had to run later in the morning the past couple of days due to early morning meetings with people in India, and this morning was a struggle.  Even my podcast talking about Voodoo wasn't enough to distract me from my dying in the heat (did you know that the slave uprising in Haiti in the 1791 was the only successful slave revolt?!).  I was so hot while running that I was panting like crazy, not all that different than my pup running with me. :)

Unfortunately the temperature isn't going to let up any time soon, 89 tomorrow, 90 on Thursday...blech.  Maybe I'll be able to hit the pool after work one of these days.  Until then I'll have to enjoy my green smoothie and carry my little blue fan around with me in the house.

It's days like this where I don't want to be turning on the oven or spending a bunch of time over a hot stove.  Quick, healthy and tasty meals are what I want, but I don't want to be eating a salad every night.  A pot of noodles, some pesto and veggies and a tasty meal is made.  This is made really quick if you have some leftover pesto in the fridge/freezer, if not, it adds a couple of steps.  My favorite vegan pesto recipe is from Vegan Planet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Down and Dirty Dinners

Sometimes I get caught up in the complicated meals that I don't really challenge myself to create food with just random ingredients in my pantry and fridge.  I am highly ordered when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping.  (Actually, I'm rather ordered about most things).  I go grocery shopping once every 2 weeks and I typically plan out the meals I want to make over those 2 weeks.  It doesn't mean I sit down and go, Monday I will make pesto pizza, Tuesday leftovers, Wednesday snobby joes, etc.  I usually get some ideas for meals, maybe 4-6, some difficult, some easy.  The difficult ones that take more time will probably be Friday or Saturday night meals.  I also add some staples to the list based on sales at my grocery like bananas, apples, and other fruits, baby carrots, etc.

Over the months I end up with a glut of basic ingredients.  Too many cans of beans, coconut milk and tomatoes, lots of various grains, dry noodles, frozen fruit and veggies, etc.  Items leftover from one too many meals that never made it on to the table (I'm not very good about checking what I currently have in stock before shopping).  These past two weeks I decided to step away from the cookbooks and just wing it based on the ingredients I had on hand.

I discovered two things: 1) I remembered that veggies can be just as tasty steamed as being combined in a more elaborate meal (like enchiladas).  2) I'm more likely to be lazy and want to eat out.  I think this is because I first have to figure out what ingredients I have, what I want to make, and then make it.  With my typical approach, I just have to look through the recipes I marked (if I can't just remember them) and pick one that sounds good.  I know I have all the ingredients because I just purchased them. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Breakfast Bunnies!

Aren't bunnies so cute?  At least they are cute until they start munching on your garden.  I wonder if this is the one that was caught nibbling on my lettuce, or the one that was nibbling on my strawberries.  Either way, that bunny is a cutie!

I've stopped purchasing regular cereals from the grocery.  Vegan cereals that are healthy tend to be rather expensive, so I've been trying to develop different foods to eat that involve whole foods/ingredients.  I'm always looking for new meals to try at breakfast, something quick but delicious. My go to meals are either oatmeal (with mix-ins!) or granola.  Granola is relatively easy to make, however you have to think ahead to make sure you have it on hand.  I like to bake mine on low heat for a couple of hours, which means yet another heat source during the summer.  Yuck.  On top of that, I also like my granola somewhat soft, so I heat it up in almond milk when I eat it for breakfast, but in the summer, the heat is a bit ugh. 

I've come across a couple of new ideas.  The one above is basically a lazy person's cinnamon rolls.  Get the smell and taste without the hours waiting for dough to rise.  I got this idea from Vegetarian Sandwiches.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Water Kefir What?

What is that?  It's a jug of water kefir slowly brewing.  What is water kefir?  It's a probiotic drink made with water.  There are also milk kefirs made with dairy products, which make (presumably) creamy, tangy yogurt-like drinks.  I wouldn't personally know, as I don't consume dairy these days.

Water kefir is interesting because in addition to getting more probiotics in your diet, you also can make your own at-home sodas, since the cultures in the kefir give off CO2.  It's a cheaper, easier, and healthier way to make your own fizzy drinks at home.  It is also possible, for those vegans like me out there, to make a creamy drink with coconut milk out of water kefir grains.  However, personally, I have not yet tried it out.  I'll let you know when I do!

I decided to give water kefir a try after I saw it mentioned on the Green and Crunchy blog.  You can easily get kefir grains (water or milk) from the Kefir Lady, where I got mine.  It costs 20 dollars to have a little baggie of water kefir grains to be shipped to you.  To get started all you need is some filtered water, a large jar or jug (larger than a quart), and some sugar.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Patriotic Pie

Okay, so this pie is more like pink, yellow and blue, but it's close enough. :)  Fourth of July is pretty low key around here.  We went hiking around the mountains with the pup during the day.  It's so gorgeous up there.  We debated going to the fireworks, but nature made the choice for us when a t-storm whipped up around dusk.  What did you do for the holiday weekend?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kitchen Cleanup and Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Alas I forgot to take a picture of the delicious cinnamon rolls I made before they were snarfed down, so you're stuck with a pic of my highly organized pantry.  Since I started shopping at our local, farmer's market grocery store, I've been purchasing a lot of items in bulk.  Grains, dry beans, dried fruit, flours, sugars, nuts, seeds, you name it.  The problem was that my pantry quickly filled up with wispy bags that crinkled obnoxiously when you reaching for the peanut butter and hindered my ability to find ingredients.  My bottom shelf of my pantry was just "baking", which meant it was next to impossible to find anything since it was all plastic baggies from the bulk bins.

After reading Green and Crunchy as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was inspired to rectify this atrocity.  For as much time I spend in the kitchen, it should be organized and neat, not a jumble of bags.  I popped out and bought some bell jars and some of those plastic lids and went to town.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I want to be a billionaire...

Have you heard that song on the radio lately called "I want to be a billionaire" by Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars?  Its lyrics go:

I wanna be a billionaire so fricking bad
buy all of the things I never had
I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
smiling next to Oprah and the Queen

Makes me wonder what I would do if I was a billionaire.  I'd probably stop working at my current job (which is probably telling) and travel more.  Maybe take my sister and I on a trip to New Zealand.  Donate a huge chunk of it to animal shelters.  Buy some shares of Tesla Motors. :)

Instead I spend my days enjoying my wee, inexpensive kitchen projects.  My recent projects have largely been inspired by Shari at Green and Crunchy.  I'm in love with her blog.  I want to buy a house so I can start buying bulk, organic goods and growing a large veggie garden.  The harvest from my pots on the stoop isn't cutting it for my vegan self.

I was intrigued by her interesting desserts she makes, and even more challenged when I discovered that she infrequently puts down recipes.  She may mention the ingredients, but she doesn't typically list out the corresponding quantities.  I decided the treats looked good enough to wing it.  Plus I just got my new Vitamix, so I wanted to try it out.

First up, raw banana chocolate cheesecake.  So good and so easy!