veganmofo 14: Pad Thai!

23 Nov

I’ve always loved pad thai but I like it too spicy so it’s often hard for me to find pad thai that has the right level of sweet and tangy-ness when I eat out without it being too spicy.  It was also one of those recipes that just looked way too damn hard to make on my own.  It’s a taste combination that I don’t typically make at home.  But seeing as I’ve been trying soba and baking bread, I figured heck, why not.

My first attempt was this recipe from chef chloe’s blog.  As with her garlic sesame soba recipe, it’s pretty good but it’s not my favourite.  It was better the second day (tonight) but still not quite my favourite.  It is tangy and sweet as the recipe says, but it’s still missing something, in my opinion.  I think it is that the sauce is pretty light… it felt like it was missing depth.  I think this would be a great summer almost-noodle-salad recipe though.

My next attempt (with the other half of the noodles) was the Brooklyn Pad Thai from VWAV. 

This recipe was really, really good but I think it’s still missing something.  This time though, I think I know what it is.  I didn’t use peanut oil because I didn’t want to spend six bucks on a ginormous bottle of peanut oil that I wouldn’t use often when I didn’t know if the recipe would even turn out well, so I used olive oil.  I also didn’t use chopped peanuts.  I did add most of a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter which sort of helped, but then I got clumps of noodles with TONS of peanut butter and the rest of the noodles didn’t have quite enough.  In addition, I didn’t use tamarind concentrate (i couldn’t find any at either of the two grocery stores near me… i will keep an eye out for it in the future) and I think it would make a big difference.  Anyways, I wnat to try this recipe again with the peanut oil and the tamarind concentrate and I will review the actual recipe but last night… I thought that it was pretty damn good as it was.

I now have leftover soba, pad thai and enchiladas in my fridge.  And I can’t even eat any of it for lunch cause I’m out at a client’s where i don’t know if they even have a microwave and I’ve been bringing pb&j sandwiches and hummus (there is a fridge) so it’s pretty slow going with clearing out my fridge.  *sigh*  I only like leftovers when i can eat it for lunch the next days 😦

veganmofo 13: Soba!

19 Nov

I am in love with soba noodles.  They are the right thickness/chewiness.  Closer to the asian noodles I grew up eating than pasta.  And unlike my attempts to cook dried chinese noodles, they actually cook right and don’t end up impossible to eat.  They are also more nutritious than most typical pastas/other noodles.  From the first time I tried them (about 2 weeks ago), I was in love. 

Unfortunately, if you’ve been following this blog, you will have seen that my attempts at finding a sauce that I liked have been kind of meh.  Happily, I can now say that I think that I have found my sauce and it is courtesy of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.  Which also happens to hold my favourite oatmeal-raisin cookie.  It’s funny.  Before veganmofo, I had only made one recipe from ED&BV and didn’t like the book much.  I have now found two of my favourite recipes from this book.  I’m rather motivated to try the other recipes now, especially as the Supercharge Me! cookies came out great too!  That’s also a go-to recipe for when I want a healthy-ish cookie. 

Sesame Lime Soba Noodles: From ED&BV.  I replaced the apple cider vinegar with mirin to make it more authentic as I suspect that the vinegar was really just a replacement for mirin.  I also used sugar rather than agave nectar, which I don’t own.  I thought maple syrup had too distinctive of a flavour to go well in the sauce.  I also added green peppers because really, snow peas aren’t enough vegetables in a dish.  At all.  I contemplated other too but I was hungry.  I found the sauce a bit too ginger/garlic-y but I used ground ginger in place of fresh (the one piece of ginger I still had had turned into a dry tree trunk).  I didn’t measure it just sort of dumped it in from my spice canister.  That’s probably why.  But it’s yummy!  I think the hoisin sauce is the key in this dish… it gives the dish just the right level of sweetness, although it’s probably not too accurate tastewise to japanese soba noodles :S

Deserving a honorable mention is the Galic Sesame Soba Noodles recipe from Chef Chloe.  I made these last week (see?  I have an obsession with soba noodles) and they were decent but not my favourite.

I guess one thing to keep in mind is that I grew up with oyster sauce and hoisin sauce when it comes to asian noodles so my tastebuds are probably kind of random or something… I like certain flavour combinations more than others.  I’m also partial to have a bit of sweetness in my dishes, even the savory ones, and it drives some of my friends crazy. 

I don’t love sweet things in general (my ability to eat chocolate is generally limited to one halloween-sized bar unless I’m really stressed or something) but a bit of sweetness in my food is awesome.  I’m not talking about a boatload of sugar or anything.  For example, I don’t like salads unless there’s fruit on top of it.  Oatmeal requires fruit on top of it.  I like the sweeter vegetables… summer peas, baby carrots and stuff like that.  I like the sweet sauces like hoisin and teriyaki. 

Am I the only person like that?  I’m not crazy, really!  I guess it means I like sweet things but I prefer naturally sweet things (simple sugars) rather than the processed kind.  Go me!  Once upon a time, I was addicted to chocolate and pop and processed sugar.  I’m glad that’s changed.

veganmofo 12: More Cookies!

18 Nov

I know it’s beginning to sound like all I’ve done in November is bake (and eat) cookies, but that’s not true.  I eat a lot of other things – they’re just not all photoworthy.  For example, my lunch today is a pb&j sandwich, hummus and celery.  As awesome as pb&j is, I don’t think anyone needs a picture of my bread.  I’m also certain that everyone already HAS a recipe for pb&j.  Just saying.

This past weekend, my band headed into the studio to record a song for a movie.  The recording went from 5pm till 1-2am on Saturday AND Sunday to work around our producer’s schedule.  Of course, that meant I had to bring food.  Because I’m that way.  So I baked the Supercharge Me! cookies from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.  I think it’s my new favourite cookie book (I don’t have VCIYCJ).  Yeah, I know it has tons of awesome recipes but for some reason, I’ve been more interested in the cookies.  So far, I’ve made 2 cookies from that book and just 1 other recipe which I heavily modified. 

Anyway, the cookies were yummy and everyone loved them, so yay!  They were also not very sweet, which was a good thing in my opinion.  The fruit in it was lovely and the chocolate chips provided just the right level of chocolatey-ness… if that’s a word.  In other words, bake this cookie if you want a cookie that’s not too sweet and that you won’t feel too too guilty eating (they don’t have a TON of sugar and they have coconut and dried fruit… see… that makes it all healthy, right?)

Oh and the waffle post from yesterday was brunch from Sunday morning for my band… yeah, I like to feed people 🙂 

Random pic of the drums from the studio.  Cause mic-d drums are kind of cool.

And yep, me playing guitar.  I look kind of spaced.  It was something like 9pm on Sunday night.  I was pretty dead.

And that’s all, folks!

veganmofo 11: Waffle Love

17 Nov

I’m out of the office this week so that means that I’ve been terrible at veganmofo posts.  But here’s one.

I’ve always longed for a waffle iron or waffle maker.  But I’ve always been too cheap to buy one.  I finally sucked it up and bought one last Saturday.  And I got to use it at a brunch I hosted for some friends on Sunday morning!  I made the raised waffles and ginger pear waffles from Vegan Brunch and VWAV, respectively. 

Raised Waffles: These are amazing.  Seriously, they’re like waffle-shaped slices of fresh bread.  The yeast really gives it a bread-y taste.  It’s just chewier than bread, of course.  As you can see, I wasn’t very good at figuring how much batter to put into my waffle iron, even using measuring cups and following instructions.  I got a lot of non-rectangular cut-off waffles.  Whatever, it didn’t affect the taste any!

Ginger Pear Waffles: These had an awesome ginger-y flavour.  Couldn’t taste the pear flavour quite as well but they were still pretty good.  I don’t think pears are in season now anyways lol.

Reasons why I love my waffle iron:

  • Faster than making pancakes
  • Easier than making pancakes – pour waffle it and let it cook on its own, no need to worry about flipping the waffles

Last night, I saw a banana-oatmeal-raisin waffle recipe in VWAV or Vegan Brunch (I think).  I have a ton of bananas at home so I think I’m going to try that next.

And I haven’t run since Saturday since my band was in a studio recording during the weekend and I got 5 hours of sleep Sat and Sun night so I didn’t feel like running Sun and Mon morning.  I’m also working an hours’ drive (or so) away from home right now, so by the time I get home it’s dark and I’m too tired to run 😦  Last night I was super sleepy on the entire drive home so I decided not to run.

Sadly, I stepped on the scale this morning and I swear I’ve put 5 lbs on from the lack of running.  Ack!

veganmofo 10: The Battle With Yeast

15 Nov

I know, I’m a post behind.  No worries, I will make it to 20 before the end of mofo.  Hopefully.

Yeast scares me.  It’s picky, needs water to grow, and it’s alive!  Sort of. 

The first time I tried to make bread was the rosemary foccacia recipe out of V-Con.  It was a disaster.  The bread didn’t rise at all because I put the yeast in boiling hot water.  I don’t differentiate very well between warm and hot.  If I say I want a warm drink, I really mean I want a hot drink.  Anyway, the dough didn’t rise.

The second time, I boiled some water and let it sit.  It was still too hot.  The bread did rise a bit but I don’t think it rose as much as it should have.  As a result, the bread wasn’t soft enough and didn’t have very many air pockets.

So I did what any geek/nerd/techie would do.  I bought a food thermometer.

And I made pizza!

Technically, it’s the flatbread from Chef Chloe’s blog, but… technicalities!  It was amazing (although I discovered that yeast has a taste.  Am I crazy?)  I still managed to screw this recipe up although the yeast worked out perfectly.  Note to self: yeast works best in what I would define as “almost room temperature water”.  It doesn’t even qualify as warm.

Anyways, I handwrote out the ingredients and a sketch of the steps.  I added a cup of water to the yeast.  Then added another cup of water to the flour mixture.  See the problem?  Too much water… ugh.  So I doubled all the ingredients (except the yeast – it was my last package and besides, what was I supposed to do… add another cup of water to another package of yeast?)   Either way, doubling the rest of the dough ingredients worked out well.  The flatbread was all yummy and amazing and the combination of butternut squash and apples is seriously the best thing ever. 

And now, I have another excuse to re-make this recipe – to try out the flatbread with the right ingredients!  Ha!

I also made cinnamon raisin bagels:

This is from the recipe on Bankrupt Vegan for veganmofo!  It turned out okay although as you can see, I had issues getting my bagels to stay in a circular shape.  I also don’t know what I did wrong, but not all of the dough cooked right, there’s some darker spots you can sort of see that aren’t cooked.  I don’t know if I boiled them too long or something.

But they taste pretty good so no complaints 🙂  Unfortunately, I have decided that I absolutely hate kneading dough.  Ugh.  I need one of those bread machines or something!  Yeah… I have too many gadgets in my kitchen already… eek!

NaNoWriMo Day 12: Picking Up Steam

13 Nov

Words at start of day: 10,015/50,000 words

Words at end of day: 12,296/50,000 words

Yeah, that’s right.  I wrote 2,281 words in one day.  I think that’s my most to date.  I found this nifty thing: Write Or Die

It’s simple.  you set a goal and a timer and you write… the screen flashes red if you pause for too long.  For being such a simple program, it’s really added a boost to my writing.  See, I’d had this plan.  Every hour (or couple of hours ro so) at work, I’d take out 5-10 minutes to write as my break.  Sounded like a great idea – I figured I could write 400-500 words in this time (or any number of words, really) and it would help with my total words.  There’s a flaw in this plan though.  When I tried to write, I’d get distracted (ooh, let’s check this blog) or get stuck (ah crap, what’s next) and therefore get distracted (hey, what’s changed in this forum) or just not want to write. 

The Write or Die page is no different than just setting up a clock, right?

Wrong.  It feels different.  The page blinks at me.  There’s a timer.  There’s a word counter.  Therefore, I feel like I have to write.  So I do.  It’s great.  I ran it 3 times at work and once I night… i was just under 500 words the first 2 times and and just over 500 the last 2.  The best part is that even when I’m stuck, the flashing screen forces me to think faster… gives me some adrenaline, if you will.  So I come up with something to write.  And once I’ve started, the ideas generally keep flowing better and I tend to get myself a little bit “unstuck”. 

It’s awesome.  See, I’m going to catch up :S

veganmofo 9: Cinnamon Raisin Bread

11 Nov

Living alone is terrible for veganmofo posting.  See, living alone means that when I make a dish, the leftovers feed me for days and days.  While I’m perfectly happy eating the same thing day after day, when the theme of my veganmofo month is “new things in November”, it means I don’t have a whole lot to post about.  But here’s something.

One of the things I love most is bread.  And one of my favourite breads is cinnamon raisin bread.  Unfortunately, upon my recent discovery that most commercial cinnamon raisin breads have honey in them, I’ve sort of avoided buying them.  With my newfound interest in baking (which, by the way, is probably terrible for my waistline but I’ve been too scared to step on a scale after all those cookies), it seemed like a good challenge.  I picked a recipe that didn’t require yeast (since I was out): Cinnamon Raisin Bread

It didn’t turn out too bad but the taste of the whole wheat flour is definitely present (does anyone know if whole wheat flour goes stale?  I’m pretty certain the bag I’m using is from 1999 or something like that).  It’s also more like a banana bread in terms of density (no yeast, remember) than commercially produced loves of cinnamon raisin.  Nevertheless, it’s great with a smear of margarine and I’m sure would be terrific with jam or peanut butter.  If I had any.  Oh great, now I want to go buy some.  Thanks.

I thought about baking a loaf of yeasted cinnamon raisin bread (now that I bought a small jar of yeast) for um… comparison purposes… but I dont think my waistline can take that.  I’m waiting for veganmofo to be over for one reason: I can stop feeling this compulsion to cook and bake things.  Looking at the blogs just makes me want to make more stuff… not helpful!

The other reason I wanted to post this was to say: look!  sun!  We’re heading into winter and the gloomy days are beginning to outnumber the sunny ones, particularly last week.  After the snow last Friday, I was very excited for sun during the weekend.  It’s been sunny since then.  Sadly, I’ve mostly been at work.  Ah well.