1119 Vegan Molasses Cookies

I went to my first A2 crafty meet-up the other night at Pot and Box, a sweet shop focused on “beautiful, ethically-sourced and responsibly-serviced flowers and plants.” I’d heard a lot about the space and its owner, but hadn’t been until a new crafty vegan friend invited me to the night of craftiness. Her invite provided the perfect opportunity to try a bit of vegan baking while making molasses cookies, which I’ve been craving for a while.  Are we vegan?  Not even remotely.  Are we considering going vegan?  Not a chance.  But that’s no reason not to incorporate vegan and vegetarian recipes into our diets and repertoires – especially when they can be surprisingly delicious.  Yes, I said it.  Surprisingly delicious.

We’ve both long been skeptical of vegan baked goods.  What about the butter! The eggs! The full-fat dairy!  Baked goods made with substitutes for those things – margarine instead of butter, light cream cheese instead of full-fat, skim milk instead of cream – are often so sad that we both had a hard time imagining tasty baked goods lacking dairy altogether.  I had a vegan cupcake at Sticky Fingers last summer and oh boy, BORING.

Our skepticism was challenged last month, though, when we devoured peanut butter chocolate chip cookies at a potluck – and then discovered that they were vegan.  These cookies were fantastic – delicious, chewy, and super flavorful.  We ate at least half a dozen between us, and I immediately had to request the recipe.

So it was with cautious enthusiasm that I tackled these molasses cookies.  The blog photos looked great.  I had flaxseed meal on hand, so I didn’t have to worry about grinding flax seeds.  The batter was spicy and sweet, a little crumbly after being chilled, but sticky enough to roll into balls the size of small walnuts.  I baked them up in two batches in the toaster oven, giving them about 9 minutes instead of 6, and they came out soft and chewy and totally delicious – and even better the next day.  I’m sold.

Classic (vegan!) Molasses Cookies from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan!


1109 TVP Tacos

I’m not sure what possessed me to pick up TVP the other day, other than that it seemed like it might be an inexpensive and healthy way to get a bit more protein into our diets.  Once I dumped the TVP out into a canister at home, however, I realized I had no idea what to do with it.  It’s pretty strange stuff – a soy protein extruded, in the words of Wikipedia, into “a fibrous spongy matrix that is similar in texture to meat”.  Weird.

Anyway, tonight I decided to give it a go.  TVP is notoriously short on flavor, but I suspected that rehydrating it while also rehydrating a dried chipotle pepper might give it a subtle kick – which mostly worked, though the TVP still had a ways to go before being palatable.  Using the same basic recipe as our tempeh tacos, I sauteed the TVP in some vegetable oil with a finely diced onion, a chili or two, cumin, coriander, and a fair amount of salt and pepper.  When the TVP was cooked through and starting to brown, I pulled it out of the skillet, then quickly stir-fried up a couple of cups of mushrooms in the skillet’s residual spices.  We rolled the TVP, mushrooms, and a cubed roasted butternut squash up into vegan burritos.  All in all, not outstanding, but a reasonably good first effort at using TVP.

Tempeh tacos

0913 Vegan Chili

I had a damned good cup of chili at Monk’s Kettle, and that, along with Tina’s enthusiasm for her new slow cooker, inspired me to make chili tonight. Well, last night and today, really, as I did all of the prepwork in advance and just dumped a bunch of stuff in the crockpot this morning, leaving a VERY BIG NOTE for Shane to please please pretty please turn the crockpot on when he left for work.

We came home to the hearty aromas of chili. You’ve gotta love walking in the door after a long day and having dinner already done, right? Much less a dinner that smelled and tasted as good as this one. I don’t have a precise recipe, but what I did went something like this:

1 cup dried kidney beans
2-3 medium carrots, sliced into coins
1 bell pepper, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 cups crimini (or white button) mushrooms, washed and halved
2 cups diced tomato (1 14 oz can or 2 medium tomatoes)
A hearty spoonful each of: tomato paste, cumin, and coriander.
2 dried chilies, chopped, or 2 tsp red pepper flakes
A generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper

Prep your vegetables the night before. Put your beans in the crockpot and cover them with water. Do NOT turn the crockpot on. Go to bed and get a decent night’s sleep. In the morning, drain and rinse your beans, then put them back in the crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients. Add enough water to barely cover everything. Turn your crockpot on LOW and go to work or otherwise pass 7-8 hours.

We didn’t have any cheese or sour cream or yogurt on hand, but all of these things would be good over your chili. I would recommend cornbread or white rice under your chili, or spaghetti if you’re from Cincinnati. Again, none of these on hand, but we made it work.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Photo by flyzipper, whose chili recipe looks damned good as well!

0830 Pan-Fried Tofu and Kale

Sweet Chili Lemon Tofu with Wok Steamed Kale and Quinoa
Photo by sysadmnling

We’re leaving for vacation on Wednesday, so I harvested aggressively on Saturday to minimize the inevitable waste from a week-or-so of neglect. This resulted in nine pounds of tomatoes, six plus pounds of potatoes, a beautiful orange pepper, and a giant bag of kale, among other things that were tossed in the compost pile or left to their own devices. Jackie and Leah both enthusiastically recommended this recipe, which seemed like a great way to use up a giant amount of kale without requiring much additional grocery shopping.

Shane worked from home today, so I emailed him mid-day to ask for help with a bit of prep – pressing the tofu and making the marinade – so that we could eat right after work. Instead he surprised me by making the whole meal!  While I made myself a drink, he fried up the tofu and kale, gave the too-thin rice noodles a quick stir around in the cast-iron skillet, and plated everything with a drizzle of the dipping sauce.

I insisted on eating with chopsticks, but quickly dispensed with the idea of dipping in the dipping sauce – the noodles were too fragile, and we kept having to move the bowl back and forth between us to avoid dripping on the table.  Shane spooned sauce over his dish and seemed much happier with that solution.

With the right noodles – we only had very thin ones on hand from another recipe – this recipe might be a keeper.  Also a keeper?  My husband.  For real.

Pan Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum