Irish Potato Cakes

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I had a big bag o’ taters that I wanted to cook up before they started get all sprouty and happened upon this recipe on Facebook. It was shared by the Vegan Ireland FB page and you’d be hard pressed to find a recipe more Irish than this.

So, my results weren’t perfect, and certainly don’t mirror the pictures of perfection that accompany the recipe here: Vegan Potato Cakes. But, I ate three cakes the first day and saved the three remaining for lunch the next day. I had no troubles with the recipe. My only suggestion is that when following the recipe, the part where it says to add the flour, don’t add all the flour in at once. Maybe start with half and see how dry your batter gets before mixing in the rest. My potato/flour mixture was not fun to work with, so I’m thinking it was a little too dry. I mean everything still worked out, I just think next time I’m going to try with a little less flour and see what happens.

The filling was super easy and because I love mushrooms so much I probably tried to stuff too much into each cake! I actually liked leaving the ‘shrooms and onions to saute at a lower heat – I didn’t have to watch over the stove and could do other things while they were cooking.

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When I first sampled my potato cakes, I ate them with just a touch of salt and pepper. But, when I had some for lunch the next day I had a little Just Mayo and ketchup mixed together for a dip to add a little extra flavour.

Vegetable Rice Bake (Or, The Oven is Not Just for Making Cookies)

So, I’ve been absent from the blog for a little while; I sincerely hope I haven’t lost any regular readers. You know that saying, life gets in the way of life? Well, that’s how things go. One good thing to come out of the last couple of months is my new favourite lunchtime, freezable and keep-for-later-able, meal. I looked everywhere and I could not find the original recipe that I based this veggie rice bake on so my apologies, but it is such an adaptable collection of ingredients and techniques found in a zillion different rice casserole recipes that I don’t feel like I’m stealing from any one person.

The vegetables, which make up the majority of the dish, can pretty much be whatever veggies you have available at hand. I diced an onion, five stalks of celery, a green pepper, and a red pepper, and sautéed them for a few minutes in olive oil.vegThen I threw in as many fresh sliced mushrooms as I could fit in the skillet. Mushrooms mushrooms mushrooms!!!

shroomsOnce everything was soft and slightly glistening I added a cup of rice and browned it just a bit. Then, I transferred the whole jumble into a glass baking dish, and added about two and a half/three cups of water (I just eyeballed it). I also threw in some salt and pepper, a shake of red pepper flakes, and some basil, but you could literally put any spices you wanted in – it’s all a matter of taste! After stirring things up a bit to make sure everything was moistened and the spices were evenly distributed, I covered the dish with a sheet of tin foil and then popped it in the oven at 350 degrees for just a touch over an hour.

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The result was a tasty, hearty, damn good meal. I pan-fried some tempeh strips and put a few in each of my lunch containers along with the rice, just to get a little more protein in there. So, so, so good. It’s all I’ve been eating!

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Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread (or, Life is Beautiful)

One of my clearest memories of spending time with my mother when I was a little girl is sitting at the kitchen table with what (at the time) seemed like a gigantic silver bowl, a sturdy fork, and a pile of bananas that needed mushing. While my mom puttered around the kitchen taking care of a hundred other things that needed doing, I would sit there and press the tines of that fork into chunk after chunk of over-ripe banana, as gleeful as if I’d just been given a hundred quarters and dropped in the middle of an arcade. Finally, my mom would have to take the fork away from me before a) the bananas were turned entirely into soup and b) the table was covered by any more flecks of banana flesh that had spattered across its surface due to my over-exuberance. My mom would turn my handiwork into a delicious loaf of banana bread using a classic recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook her sister Karen had given to her as a wedding gift in 1980. That Joy of Cooking was a staple in our kitchen as I was growing up, and after, and when my mom passed away in 2012 it was the one possession of hers that I was almost desperate to make sure I reclaimed.

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Now that I’ve gone vegan, the Joy of Cooking recipe for banana bread is off limits. Sure, I could try to adapt it on my own but I am not experienced enough in the kitchen to try that level of master cookery. Instead, I kept my eye out on the internet for a simple but tasty-looking recipe to try. Thank heavens for One Green Planet, whose Green Monster newsletter dropped the perfect recipe right into my inbox! The recipe (and the picture just below) is from the vegan maestro at iheartcrapkitchen.com, and be warned – visiting her site is like going down a rabbit hole of ridiculously tempting vegan yumminess!  My tummy still won’t stop growling.

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You can view the recipe as I first saw it in its entirety here on the One Green Planet site. I only made a couple of alterations. Firstly, I used plain all-purpose flour. Then, I did not include the desiccated coconut that the original recipe calls for, simply because I did not have any in my kitchen at the time I fancied baking this up. And lastly, as you can see from the pictures, I opted out of making the chocolate ganache. Instead, I simply sprinkled vegan chocolate chips across the top of the banana bread, and I found that just doing that made the banana bread extra chocolate-y enough for me! Just a note: I found the cooking time was spot on – I kept my bread in for the full fifty minutes and it turned out perfectly. And, using a little vegan Becel to coat the loaf pan before pouring the batter in allowed the bread to slide perfectly out after I’d let it cool down completely.

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After cutting off and savouring an end piece just to ensure quality control I brought the rest of the banana bread loaf to work for a snack day in honor of a couple of departing staff. It is the first time I actually brought something homemade, and boy was I proud of myself. While I didn’t announce to all that it was vegan, I was happy to have brought something that a couple of my coworkers who have specific dietary restrictions could eat and enjoy. And the reviews from the omnis that were present? “Yum!!!” bb

 

 

Simple Fruit Smoothie (Or, It’s Pretty Easy Being Green)

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I wouldn’t exactly call this a recipe… more like the throwing of various yummy things into a blender together just to see what might happen. It turned out tasty, though, so I thought I would share 🙂 This is my easy Friday morning smoothie.

1 heaping cup chopped kale (no such thing as too much)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1.5 cups pineapple juice
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp. of agave nectar

Optional: 3 tsp of chia seeds

Peel kale leaves from their stalks; either rip or chop the leaves into smaller pieces. Put all ingredients into blender. Blend, starting on lowest setting and then gradually increasing speed, until you have a beautifully smooth concoction. This makes enough for two big smoothies, so save half in a mason jar for the next day and enjoy the other one instantly!

Just a note: I add 3 tsp of chia seeds, but that might be too much crunch for you when combined with the raspberries. I just like to add the extra protein.

Approximate Nutritional Info Per Serving

Calories: 325
Fat: 8.4g
Protein: 4.85g
Carbs: 77.1g

“Pulled” Carrots (or, They Can’t All Be Winners)

I’m not sure if I’m unique in this, but I’ve never tried pulled pork. Not once. Not ever in my life. I remember a little while ago it seemed like pulled pork was EVERYWHERE – featured in every fast food restaurant able to afford mainstream TV advertising (Subway, I’m looking at you). The taste never appealed to me though, so I left the phenomenon untouched until recently, when I found a vegan version of pulled pork that used carrots as the main component rather than the flesh of an innocent animal.

The recipe, which you can find here – http://www.thekitchn.com/stewed-carrots-the-new-pulled-pork-old-ingredient-new-trick-215252 – is very simple. So simple that it would take someone pretty ridiculous to mess it up. What has two thumbs and can’t make pulled carrots? This guy!

Let’s start from the beginning. The recipe called for carrots (natch), and uninterested in the time-consuming process of cutting said carrots into matchsticks I thought I’d go for the spiralizer suggestion. Except, I don’t have a spiralizer. So, I used my regular veggie peeler to make long, flat strips of carrot. I sautéed some onion and garlic in oil until it was nicely aromatic, and then added a honey garlic barbecue sauce I found in the fridge (fully vegan) along with the carrots. I made sure there was enough sauce to make a mixture that bubbled as it cooked, and left the pan on the stove for a good fifteen minutes over  medium-high heat.

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After stirring the carrots a few times, I decided they were sufficiently cooked through. I swiped a touch of vegan margarine on a hamburger bun, then piled some of the stewed carrots on top. Adding the extra thickened sauce as recommended, along with a touch of salt and pepper, the finished product LOOKED good. Sadly, it did not taste the way I’d hoped.

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I’m not sure if I didn’t let the carrots cook long enough, but they were still tough to bite into, not soft at all like I’d been expecting. And, the barbecue sauce I used did not suit the dish – much too sweet when combined with the natural sweetness of the carrots. I finished the sandwich, but more out of duty than enjoyment. I COULD try this recipe again, with a longer cooking time and a different sauce, but really don’t feel motivated to do so. Has anyone else tried something similar that worked?

Eggless Egg Salad (or, Getting Ova Eggs)

Removing eggs from my diet has not been a hardship. A few years ago I learned that eggs are essentially the product of a hen’s menstrual cycle, and ever since then I cannot look at an egg without visualizing the egg being squeezed out of a chicken’s lady parts. So, save for egg salad sandwiches (which were always a weakness for me) and the occasional scrambled egg breakfast at Albert’s restaurant, I haven’t made the high-cholesterol high-fat artery-clogging food a part of my everyday eating.

But, as mentioned above, I have always loved egg salad sandwiches. Well, I love sandwiches in general – when people ask me what my favourite food is, or what food I would choose if I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, its the sandwich. I love bread. I love the things that go between pieces of bread. I love the spreads that go on bread. So, having exhausted peanut butter sandwiches since going vegan, I decided it was time to try this fantastic thing I had been hearing about… eggless egg salad.

I wasn’t very adventurous: I literally followed the recipe on the side of the Mori-Nu Tofu package, using the ingredients I had on hand (so no capers, and regular mustard instead of dried). This was my first hands-on experience with tofu, so it made the endeavour even more fun. Following advice I had read online, I unpackaged the tofu and put it on a plate between two dish towels, and then sat my Forest Feast cookbook on top for weight. I left it for half an hour, then replaced the damp towels with dry ones, and let the remaining water drain from the tofu for another thirty minutes. The rest was simple: I smushed the tofu in a bowl until it actually kinda resembled hard-boiled egg whites, mixed in the Veganaise (I was careful with this part because I didn’t want the tofu to smooth out – I wanted it to remain chunky), then mixed in the rest of the ingredients (shallots – or onions, as that’s all I had, and the mustard, and a lot of salt, and pepper).

Voila! Egg salad sandwich!

Now, obviously I knew that what I was making was not going to taste exactly like the egg salad I grew up with. But, I have to admit, the mixture really did take on a surprisingly similar texture to what I have been accustomed to, and made for a satisfying lunch.sammy

You know, I’ve really started to understand that the trick with veganized versions of our favourite recipes is to accept that these new versions are not going to taste exactly the same as their carnivore-catering counterparts, and to simply do our best to enjoy them for what they are – delicious foods that are tempting to the taste-buds in their own right.

Sweet Potato With Pomegranate and Coconut

I had never had a pomegranate before, and if you haven’t yet, try it soon! Pomegranate seeds – which are the part of the fruit we are meant to eat – are the most unusual little morsels. They are the same heft as any other fruit seed, but when you bite into one it is like a little explosion, a ‘pop’ if you will, and its like the sweet seed was filled with little more than a tasty puff of air. Combined with the satiny texture of the sweet potato (or yam, technically), the combination of sensations was more pleasant than I could have imagined.

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Yesterday my brother put together a sweet delight that when described to me sounded a little odd, but that turned out to be heaven on a plate. Two yams baked at 400 for about an hour, split open and drizzled with coconut milk, one perfectly ripe pomegranate sliced into quarters and cleared of those yummy little seeds mentioned above, and a sprinkling of coconut flakes made a meal that was part dessert, part stick of nutritional dynamite. potato