Wow. This is my 200th post on Vegan Eats and Treats! I'll make it a good one!
What fun it's been doing this blog and reading all of your blogs and being a part of the vegan "blogosphere." Back when I started up this blog there weren't too many vegan blogs (at least that I knew about). I probably had only 10 or 15 blogs on my bookmarks. I especially loved Chris and Darlene's Eat Air and the former glory that was Vegan Lunchbox. So I thought to myself "I should do that too!"
What I didn't know what that vegan blogging would be such a gift to me. Blogging has made me more interested in what I eat - and also more accountable for what I eat! I've become more interested in making the food beautiful as well as yummy. But, *most of all* I've been inspired by all the wonderful blogs out there. Just look at these blogrolls we've all got. It seems like every day I stumble across another cool vegan blog. So many bookmarks I can hardly keep track. From all you blogging buddies I've learned about countless new foods to try, recipes to try, cookbooks to investigate, techniques to use in the kitchen... I can truly say that a big part of the joy and enthusiasm that I have for being vegan has come from this great blogging community.
Thanks so much for reading, and leaving comments (so that i know you're out there, and also so that I can click on your name and find your cool blog!), for giving me the courage to try ingredients that are new to me and recipes that are intimidating to me. Goodness knows, we eat a lot better in this household thanks to my fellow v*bloggers!
I couldn't leave you with a picture-less post. What a cruelty that would be! So, here are some of the tasty meals that I've been cooking up for my grandpa since being home from China. Since my grandma died in November, my mom and my 2 aunts and I have been taking turns cooking for him and having dinner with him. It's really nice to spend at least two nights a week together with him. Actually, my grandpa's 5-star delightful older sister and her daughter have also been in town, visiting from Portland OR. It's great to have them here - so I've been cooking up some pretty big meals!
Meal #1: MexiNight!
I finally tried my hand at Vcon's "Potato Kale Enchiladas" - my friend Jen (and many bloggy pals) told me how good this one was. Yum. It was especially fun making my own enchilada sauce. I'd certainly never done that before. I actually used chard instead of kale, since I've got a ton of chard growing in my front yard. Sorry for the uninteresting yellow picture, but I guess enchiladas are not the most photogenic of entrees. Alongside the enchy, you see some roasted butternut squash cubes. Musty thought the flavors in these enchiladas were too homogeneous, with no one or two flavors jumping forward to take the lead... instead fading into a sea of savory. And, although I liked this meal quite a bit, I can see his point.
My grandpa loves himself some salad! I love salad too, but I'm usually too lazy to make it for myself. But, you know how it is... it's so lovely to cook for someone else. My sweet grandpa is just about one of my favorite people EVER. I couldn't possibly understate what a class act he is. And he's great fun to cook for, because he's got a great sunny disposition and is decidedly appreciative. Quite unpicky too! So, I feel honored to cook for him and spend the evening together. And the moral of this story is, I always make salad when I cook for him. This yummy salad had some white beans, sunflower sprouts, avocado, and cilantro. With a limey dressing.
Meal #2: Broccoli Soup & French Lentils
What a fun little feast this was! My Grandpa, my lovely Greataunt Tashie, my lovely first-cousin-once-removed Eliza, and Musty (and me!). We had a delicious healthy meal. Unfortunately Tashie has recently had some surgery for breast cancer (at age 92! Just doesn't seem fair, does it?!) - so I wanted to make sure she had some really healthy healing foods. I did some research and learned that women who eat cabbage 4x a week are 75% less likely to get breast cancer. Wow. So now I am seriously into cabbage! Plus, I liked it to start with.
Anyhow, this meal was the delicious "Broccoli Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Creme" from the "Real Food Daily" cookbook. I've made it before and I love it. Then we also had roasted brussel sprouts. And - of course - a salad! The salad was shredded cabbage, grated beets, grated carrots, and then an apple cider vinegar dressing. There may have been one or two other little goodies in there, but I don't think so. I also made, but didn't take a picture of Dreena's ***AMAZING*** "Savory French (Puy) Lentils" from Eat Drink and Be Vegan. Wow! I loved those little babies. I have to admit, I'm not always the biggest fan for lentils, but these were easy and truly packed with flavor. I wouldn't mind having a perma-bowl of these in the fridge. I definitely recommend this recipe.
Meal #3: More Dreena Specialties
This was another special meal that I picked out because it seems full of good healing properties for our beloved Tashie. Well, it turned out to be a HUGE hit with everyone. It's the "Kamut Bean Stew" from "Vive Le Vegan!" and everyone at the table absolutely loved it. I did make one substitution - Tashie is allergic to celery root, so I knew I'd have to leave that out. Buoyed by my positive experience in China, I had picked up some Jerusalem Artichokes at the farmers market, with no particular plan of action. I gave 'em a good scrubbing and figured they'd be a great substitute for the celeriac. Wow, they were perfect and helped give a unique flavor to this stew. This stew is wonderfully flavored with dill seed and fennel seed and coriander seed - perfectly cooked veggies, a thick broth, and the delightfully chewy little kamut berries give it a great texture too. Try it!
Along with the soup, I served up some roasted asparagus and brussel sprouts from the farmer's market.
And a salad - cabbage, lettuce, sunflower sprouts, and balsamic roasted figs that I'd bought at my friend JJTWH's farmer's market last summer. I just used the vinegar from the little fig jar as the dressing and it was great! My cousin Lisa was in town from Tallahassee, and she is missing quality avocados - so she chopped up an avo and added it in, which turned out to be a great addition. Any of you vegan readers out there in Tallahassee? Lisa and her cool husband Andrew both started eating vegan last year, mostly "Eat to Live" - and they both look and feel great.
Had to have dessert - I made a batch of the "Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies" from ED&BV, probably one of my favorite cookie recipes of all time. So good.
Meal #4: St. Patricks Day
Well - go ahead and laugh - I can't resist a theme. I wanted GREEN appetizers! My aunt Sara and my cousin Lisa prepared the veggies (good job S & L!!) - I told them to get some green goodies that we could dip into the hummus, and they brought over some great sugar snap peas, cooked green beans, roasted brussel sprouts, steamed broccoli (so much tastier than raw broccoli), green bell pepper, and black olives. The hummus was great. I modified an online recipe for "Spinach Garlic Edamame Hummus" and came up with this:
Spinach Garlic Edamame Hummus
Blend it all up in the food processor. It is bright green and very tasty!
For the entree I made the "Irish Stew" from the most recent issue of Vegetarian Times. It was pretty good, but it took some work. The original recipe was called "vegan" but then had a note about how the ingredient of Stout beer wasn't vegan. Irritating. So, I don't know much about beer or alcohol, but I do know enough to know that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is no substitute for Guinness Stout. But I also knew that I had 2 bottles of Sierra Nevada out in the garage that no one was ever going to drink. So, there. The picture has this stew looking thick and chunky, but mine was downright brothy. And a bit low on flavor. So I kept it cooking for another 2 hours on low. That helped! I made a number of other little tweaks, including taking out my soggy seitan and substituting it with Soy Curls. Those little babies are pretty good! All in all, it came out quite tasty and we all enjoyed it. Especially with some nice mashed potatoes with scallions.
Last, but not least!, I made some green dessert - KIWI SORBET of course. I followed Melisser's delightfully easy and reliable sorbet recipe and made up a double batch of kiwi sorbet. By the time we got around to dessert last night, I think we had about 10 people at the table, so everyone got a refreshing little scoop. We've got serious kiwi abundance at the farmer's market these days, so this was an obvious choice. Even Musty the kiwi hater loved this yummy sorbet!