Monday, August 31, 2009

simple and fresh summer eats

I thought that the last day of August would be a fitting moment to reflect on what I love so much about food in the summer. It's light, it's fresh, it's full of flavor, and sometimes, it's from right in the back yard! Here's a typical lunch from back in July: marinated zucchini salad (zucchini from the farmers market), potato and green bean salad (potatoes from our garden, green beans from the farmers market), and a fresh grilled panini (homemade sourdough bread, brushed on the outside with olive oil, and dill from our garden). How can you not feel good after such a meal?...


Monday, August 24, 2009

you know what's awesome?

...when it's 3 or 4 in the morning and cold, and you're stumbling towards your friend's house after a night of drinking and dancing and having fun, and you realize you're hungry, and you go to a corner burger joint, the only place that's open as far as the eyes can see, and you see several tempting veggie options such as veggie burgers or bean burgers on the menu.

The above photo was taken last autumn, sometime late at night, somewhere in South London. England, and Europe in general, seemed more advanced in the ways of vegan junk/fast food than what I see back home in the U.S. Good times!


Friday, August 21, 2009

You eat that RAW??

Sometimes, I catch on really late. For example, I feel that I'm the last person to realize that there are a lot of unexpected produce items that you can eat raw! Not necessarily marinated, dehydrated, sprouted, or anything else, just straight up raw!

Fresh summer corn, straight off the cob? Yes.

Raw beets? Yes. I've graduated from shredding them into salads to just eating them as veggie sticks.

Sweet potatoes? Yes! (sweet potatoes are not actually potatoes, as you might know)

collard greens? yes- they make awesome wraps! I only started cooking collard greens 5 years ago- before then, I had the image that they had to be cooked for hours and hours. Hey, we can all make mistakes.

Here are some other things that I've been delighted to eat without cooking:

oats (as in muesli)

What are some of your favorite unusual or unexpected raw foods? Let me know- I'd love to try them if I haven't yet!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

hazelnut butter: an object of beauty

Just a quick post tonight to bring you the wonder that is hazelnut butter. I feel that the hazelnut never gets its due in the nut pantheon, at least in the U.S. It has such a delicious and rich flavor, and it complements so many other foods so well. I love hazelnuts and hazelnut liqueur and hazelnut extract, but it shines most brightly in the form of freshly ground butter.

In the above photo, you see one of the last meals that Daiku and I shared last winter in England before coming back to the U.S.: a huge slice of wholemeal toast, slathered with fresh hazelnut butter that I had made and bought at Whole Foods. Addictive, sublime, and elegant would all, sadly, be understatements in describing this simple and healthy treat.

If you want to try hazelnut butter, fresh is the way to go- I am guessing that making a batch with roasted hazelnuts in your food processor would be a much better bet than buying an (often overpriced) jar. Either way, enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I ♡ you, salad pizza!!

So the love affair with salad continues... now in pizza form! Long before I was a vegan, I was a fan of the salad pizza. Now I have grown to realize that it's not a universal thing, but a local feast only to be found in New York City, Long Island, and surronding areas.

What is it? Basically a vegan pizza lover's dream- a slice of pizza (with the crispy/chewy uniquely New York style crust) topped with... salad. That's it. Most salad pizza comes without cheese, but you can also ask them for a cheese-less slice. The slice you see above, from Brooklyn, has tomatoes, zucchini, red onions, and fresh basil. I've had slices with variations of toppings- sometimes even lettuce! What sets salad pizza apart is that the toppings are raw or only briefly heated. The combination of refreshing salad and comforting pizza is something that should not be missed. Make sure to seek one out (usually at local neighborhood pizzerias- the kind where you can buy by the slice) next time you're in the area!


Sunday, August 09, 2009

3rd blog birthday! (I can't believe I blogged the whole thing!)

Can you believe this blog has been chugging along for 3 years? Even though I haven't been blogging as often as I used to, I definitely am not ready to quit, and I promise many more posts in the future.

Some fun facts about this blog:
  • When it began, this was a team blog! Even though Daiku doesn't officially blog any more, his ideas (and fabulous cooking!) are still there, and I'm grateful for his help.
  • I've kept the same avatar, a tomato-face with carrot nose, radish eyes, and scallion mouth, the entire time. The produce was from a garden Daiku and I grew in Old Field, Long Island, in 2000
  • Our names aren't actually bazu and daiku! But those are our real-life nicknames. Our real names (drum roll please...) are Bahar and Michael. Nice to meet you!
  • I never thought that blogging would lead to meeting such fabulous people (virtually and in real life) - you guys have enriched my life, and I look forward to more friendships!
  • I don't do bloglines or google reader or anything yet. I know, I know, I should start. My link list is really outdated.
  • I didn't think to post my email address to the blog until about a year and a half in! What was I thinking??
  • I have blogged from different cities and even countries, but have found that I'm best when I'm at home- hence the sometimes long delays of my travel posts
  • I have never been able to decide between the taglines "the revolution will be veganized" "green is the new red" or "live green, eat vegan". Help!

Now it's your turn- do you have any questions about us or this blog? Leave a comment with your question and I will answer all of them, to the best of my ability, in the next post. Thanks for reading! VEGANZ 4EVER!!!!!

p.s. follow me on Twitter and Veggie Thing! xo


Friday, August 07, 2009

I present to you... biscuits!

Ah biscuits. Such a basic part of American cuisine, so humble, and yet so complex. The perfect biscuit is light but rich, flaky yet sturdy, the marriage of little more than flour and fat. Ah, but the road to that marriage can sometimes be bumpy!

I've been making biscuits for many years, but only recently have I been achieving the results that I really wanted. The recipe I use is from the book James McNair's Favorites, which is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, and possibly the most vegan-friendly omni cookbook out there. But I digress.

Ok- this is what you need in your arsenal for perfect biscuits: good quality flour (I really can't justify using anything other than King Arthur Flour), some primo vegan non-hydrogenated shortening (I use Earth Balance sticks), a pastry cutter (fine, fine, I've used forks before), a nicely pre-heated oven, and tons of patience and practice. Oh and last but not least, you need a ridiculously sharp biscuit cutter.

Before I move on to McNair's recipe (with a few veganizing tips!), here is what he has to say:
As a youngster, I always asked for 'white' biscuits, which means cooked only until the tops were barely beginning to brown. I still like them this way. If you prefer a browner top, brush the biscuits with melted butter before baking. If you enjoy the sides crusty, arrange the biscuits about 1 inch apart in the baking pan: for soft sides, arrange them touching.
Offer butter and good jelly, jam, honey, or syrup with the biscuits.
Buttermilk Biscuits, from James McNair's Favorites, p. 411 (makes 12):
  • solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature, or cooking spray for greasing (optional)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (this is 1 stick of Earth Balance shortening)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (which, every good vegan knows, is 3/4 cup soymilk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar mixed in, the mixture allowed to sit and curdle for a few moments)
Position racks so that the biscuits will bake in the middle of an oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Using a pastry brush, lightly greast a baking sheet or pan with shortening or coat with spray or line with kitchen parchment. Set aside.

In a bowl or food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the shortening with your fingertips, a pastry blender, or steel blade until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. If using a food processor, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture sticks together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly and quickly (Bazu says: lightly and quickly being the operative words! This step is what you need to practice.) about 30 seconds. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out about 1/2 inch thick. Using a floured 2 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out circles. (Bazu says: use a quick, deliberate up/down cutting motion- don't twist the biscuit cutter- this is key for getting a good rise, and the perfect flaky texture) Place on the prepared sheet.

Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve piping hot.



Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I'll admit it- I love salad!

I like to think that I don't fit a lot of vegan stereotypes. Well, nobody does! However, there is one stereotype that I wholeheartedly embrace: I love salads! I always have, and always will. If I had to eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be salad. Of course that would be cheating a little, because there are so many different kinds of salads- so many ways to mix flavors, textures, tastes, and colors. Warm or cold, spicy or sweet, light or substantial, oh, I could sing salad's praises for a long time.

Above, you see a photo of a meal I enjoyed this summer while Daiku and I were visiting my mom in Northern Virginia. We went to The Corner Bakery Cafe, which is s chain of coffee shops that you might be familiar with. To my delight, their menu gives you the option of combining any three salads, which you get with a side of mixed greens (a FOURTH salad!!) and a roll. I chose (clockwise from top) fruit salad, Greek salad (hold the feta), and Asian slaw. This, my friends, is my idea of the ideal meal. Give me produce or give me death!

And where did I get this insatiable taste for fruits and veggies? I'll have to give my mom credit for that one. She says that my brother and I didn't taste refined sugar until we were in preschool. Instead, she filled our plates (and shaped our palates) with fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade juices, and homemade baby food. When I was a kid, there were some fruits and veggies that I didn't like, but I have grown to love them all as an adult. Now, there's no vegan food I've met that I don't really like! I think it's important for kids to be exposed to a wide variety of fresh produce from early on. Would I have ever grown to love grapefruits the way I do now, if my mom hadn't patiently peeled them, separated the juicy fruit from the pith, and fed it to me in manageable segments? (What you see in the photo above is me snarfing up fruit at about 1 year old as my mom peels away.)

Thanks, mom!