Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Kind Spark

I don't know about you guys, but I have a lot of cookbooks. The collection started before I was vegan, or even vegetarian, so I have everything from The New Best Recipes and Fix it and Forget it Lightly to my new classics like Veganomicon and Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. And frankly...we live in a small space now and there just isn't room to be buying every new cookbook I want. As it is, the cookbook space is fairly messy already

There is a second pile behind these...

And that doesn't even include those used most recently, which teeter atop the toaster oven.

Sadly, they don't get used very often lately. I've grown enough in my own cooking that I don't need them as much anymore, and I often don't have the time for following through recipes.

So new cookbooks, be warned, it takes quite a bit of scrutiny to make it into that messy pile nowadays. You've got to offer something special, really stand out, and probably have lots of colorful pictures too (I'm shallow that way). Of course a recommendation from a friend couldn't hurt either...

After sending off the winnings of my last giveaway to AutumnTao, she sent me back a lovely thank you note, and in part of it she recommended I give The Kind Diet a read. I was skeptical. First, I already know about being vegan, and a lot of the book is an explanation of the why and hows. Second, I didn't want to actually follow any diet. Third, it is written by Alicia Silverstone. Not that I have anything against her, but previous to now, I had no idea she knew anything about food. But it did focusing on cutting back sugar, something I need, and it did have pretty pictures. I wasn't convinced. Some of the recipes were so average, like Rustic Pasta, Granola, and Caesar Salad. But then there was the Seitan Polenta Casserole, Toasted Nori Burritos, and the recipe that finally won me over, the Rice Waffles with Vegetable Melange.

So I bought the book, and it isn't a diet plan (good). I read most of the first part, which was well referenced and had some facts and figures I hadn't heard before. As AutumnTao had indicated, it really did give me a bit of a spark, and made me want to get back into the kitchen and eating good whole foods. So I went ahead and made the Rice Waffles. These are not waffles made with rice flour. It is the easiest, most simple waffle recipe made with cooked brown rice. They came up nice and crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. Savory and decidedly dinner appropriate, the Vegetable "Melange" brought it all together for a really awesome meal.

I was pleased, Nick was pleased, and I am quite looking forward to the leftovers for lunch. I'm also looking forward to trying more of the book's recipes (although, I say that about every book I buy).

Yes, it is written by Alicia Silverstone, which I guess can be seen two ways. First, its great in the fact that it makes veganism more mainstream (I hear she was on Oprah the other day). On the other hand, it also makes it seem trendy. We actually have a friend who told us recently that he was going vegan "because it is trendy". Those are seriously his words. I want to think that is better than nothing it? If people are just going vegan because its "cool" and they aren't educating themselves and really caring, it seems like they're more apt to go back to their old ways and make veganism seem like something that isn't worth doing, is difficult, that isn't a lifetime choice. Anyway, I bought it because of the recipes, not Alicia did make me want to go watch Clueless again.

Anyway, I know I keep saying I am going to try blogging more, and I do mean it. I miss it and I have a huge backlog of lonely pictures waiting to be written about and posted. Until next time though, enjoy your cookbook stash and stay trendy!

Friday, January 1, 2010

What I've Been Up To (In Pictures)

Well, first of all Happy Holidays to everyone. I hope whatever December holiday you celebrate treated you well, and that you had a great New Year's celebration! Ivan would personally like to wish you a belated Merry Christmas though.

I know I haven't been around much. Frankly, I don't have much time for cooking, let alone blogging, and I've been debating whether or not to even keep doing it. In fact, I told Nick yesterday that I was going to stop....but I don't think I can. Just expect me to be posting less frequently (although, I'm sure most of you have figured that one out by now). Anyway, this is just some pictures of what I've been up to.

Pignoli Almond Cookies from 'Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar'. Also my first experience with almond paste!

This Purely Chocolate drink from Bolthouse Farms is really good. I reviewed the Vanilla Chai almost a year ago, but this might be even better: super creamy, fruit sweetened, high in protein.

Vegan Breakfast Sandwiches from Vegan Yum Yum. These took a good long time to make, since it was my first homemade biscuit experience, but they were really good. Definitely one of Nick's favorites.

Spelt Biscuits


Maple Tofu

After a long day out Christmas shopping, we didn't want to spend a lot of money on eating out, or spend a lot of time making dinner, but I really wanted some 'Italian food'. I've been wanting to try these for awhile, and at the time, it hit the spot.

Perhaps not authentic Italian, but I had the lasagna, and it was pretty yummy, made with a soy ricotta filling.

My pride and joy of the holidays was definitely the Peppermint Patties I had intentions of making for many friends and family. However, after a day FULL of candy making (there were chocolate caramels too), I really didn't want to see chocolate again for awhile. So, this tin went to my best friend, and once I got over my chocolate overload, my husband and I finished the rest because they were incredibly delicious. They are NOT healthy, but really awesome, and you can find the recipe here. I used brown rice syrup and doubled the mint extract.

Not pictured, I also made some peanut brittle and pecan clusters for my grandparents. I was in Christmas overload at that point, and forgot to snap a quick picture before they were gifted.

I end with the candy for a very specific reason. One of the reasons I was considering quitting the blogging was because since I started, I have gained a significant amount of weight. I don't look incredibly different, but despite working out consistently, my clothes don't fit. I feel like I have to focus more on my health than on trying to make 'blog-worthy' food. So, in the New Year, expect things to be a little healthier.

Also, expect things to be spiralized.

One of the gifts I was lucky to get this year was a spiralizer. Ivan likes the box, and I'm already loving the thing.

So, that is where I have been, and I hope to not completely drop off the radar for so long anytime soon. Enjoy the new year, eat some black eyed peas!!