Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Indian-Spiced Yellow Split Pea Soup

Ooh do I have a recipe for you today! It may not look like much but believe me, it is.

So I told you about my audition and booking yesterday (yayy). After the audition and my miraculous escape from a parking ticket, I went to the Meet Market for its last day of business. I had heard really good things, especially about the weekend brunch, but I'd never gone. Then I read on Quarrygirl that it was closing yesterday. I was only five minutes away and I heard that their grocery items were 50% off, so I checked them out. I ended up buying one desserty-thing that I plan on giving as a gift to someone and two of these to live in my car and serve as emergency snacks.

I was only a couple minutes away from Nature Mart Bulk Bin, and I had planned ahead by bringing my empty Dr. Bronner's hand soap dispenser. I've only been to the Bulk Bin one other time and I noticed that they sell bulk Dr. Bronner's soap so I planned to come back when my dispenser was empty. Nature Mart is a cool little natural foods grocery store with lots of vegan and Raw items and its baby Nature Mart Bulk Bin is right next door, filled to the brim with almost everything you could want to buy in bulk - tea, coffee, spices, flours, trail mixes, dry soup mixes, grains, dried beans, dried fruit, hand soap, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner... the list goes on. And they make smoothies. I filled up my soap for about $3, which is $2-3 cheaper than buying a whole new dispenser, plus, you REUSE. I sometimes think we get stuck on the "recyle" part of the three R's. What about reduce and reuse? Actually we were also taught a fourth, "refuse," but that one has caught on even less. And if you're worried about bulk items being dirty or gross? You know what? The world is dirty. And gross. And full of germs. Packaged goods are teeming with germs - just look at the food recalls. Just because your food comes wrapped in plastic doesn't mean it's any cleaner. And if you really stressed about this stuff, you'd definitely have to stop eating out. And don't let your friends cook for you! Maybe they tasted the soup and put the spoon back in! Horrors! OK so sorry to make light of germ phobias, but seriously, bulk items are awesome for your wallet and the environment and they're not any dirtier than everything else in the world so scope out the bulk section of your local grocery store or go to Nature Mart Bulk Bin and discover the joy of buying in bulk.

After the Bulk Bin I went home and made myself a lovely salad composed of lettuce, leftover Salade de Lentilles et Chou Frisé, cherry tomatoes, nutritional yeast, roasted beets and turnips, and Maple Grove Farms organic balsamic dressing. It was a great way to use leftovers and tasted so delicious that I had pretty much the same thing again for lunch today.

I spent a couple hours last night doing actor-related work stuff - updating my casting director database with notes on the CD's I've auditioned for, plus updating my Excel spreadsheet of acting-related expenses.

Today was another busy and productive day. In the morning I went to Cardio Barre, then I came home and quickly got ready before going to The Actors Network to learn to decipher TV production charts. Afterwards I went to Ulta to buy some new makeup. It was my first time going to an Ulta store, but I had been wanting to since moving to LA (there aren't any in Indiana). They sell makeup, skin care, and hair supplies and I went because I was in desperate need of new liquid eyeliner. I also bought something a little fun that I'll show you tomorrow when I do a little vegan fashion and beauty post.

After Ulta I drove to the Bookstar - it's really a Barnes and Noble on Ventura Blvd but it's housed in an old movie theater with the front marquee still intact, so it's called the Bookstar. I went there to read some magazines and study up on kids these days - I figured if I'm going to be playing a teenager so often, I need to be staying up on what they're wearing, etc.

For dinner tonight I had some instant colcannon and another serving of my delicious soup, the recipe for which I shall be kind enough to bestow upon you now.

Indian-Spiced Yellow Split Pea Soup

1.5 cups yellow split peas, rinsed
1/2 yellow onion, diced
minced garlic
1/3 cup kale stalks, diced (just use whatever leftover stalks you may have)
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 cups water or veggie broth (I used water)
1 tbsp mustard (I used stoneground)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric

Lightly brown onion and garlic in a soup pot. Add lentils, vegetables, and water and simmer with pot loosely covered for 1-2 hours, until the lentils are the desired texture. They should break down and get very mushy. Make sure you have enough water - you may need to add more. Add as much water as necessary to achieve desired viscosity. Season with mustard, garam masala, paprika, and turmeric and adjust seasonings as needed.

You can eat this as is - and you can see that my version is very thick. Add more water and make it thinner or make it dense and serve it over rice for a really hearty meal. You can also sprinkle it with some nutritional yeast. Oh, and the leftovers are kick-ass so maybe you should make extra.

Links You Shall Love:
http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/the-case-for-an-older-woman/ This is a cool yet creepy blog post - it's cool because it has awesome graphs, and it's creepy because it shows that the older men get, the younger of women they pursue. Apparently the kind of creepy grown men who use dating sites are far more likely to go after a teenager than a woman even one year older than them. But really, it's a cool article.

http://chicvegan.com/a-thrifty-guide-for-college-bound-vegans-part-one/ A little simple advice for college-bound or just thrifty vegans.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=4 Does Your Language Shape How You Think? Ahh, my beloved Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, one of the main passions of my college career. It's interesting, check it out.

If Historical Events Had Facebook Statuses

SO. Do you buy bulk items? Have any reduce/reuse/recycle/refuse tips to share?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Salade de Lentilles et Chou Frisé

I booked a job! Yay!

I had a great weekend, capped off by the booking today. But let me start at the beginning.

Friday night I got home, unpacked, and watched Children of a Lesser God. Stupid title aside, I really liked it. The acting was great and because I studied ASL in college, I had a really great time trying to keep up with the ASL dialogue. Ahh I love sign language, it's so expressive.

On Saturday morning, I had to go grocery shopping because I had left myself absolutely nothing to eat in the apartment. So I walked down to Whole Foods and bought a delicious array of produce.

There you see almond milk, two plums, a bunch of basil, two yellow onions, yellow split peas, french green lentils, one bunch of kale, one bunch of romaine, two yellow potatoes, one heirloom tomato, brussels sprouts, two golden beets, one red beet, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, a turnip, carrots, and celery.

The damage? Less than $30. This is my proof that Whole Foods does not have to be expensive. Just don't buy the really expensive stuff. And this new almond milk was only $2, which is about what it would cost at TJ's. I had it in my coffee today and it's good.

BTW, don't buy specialty ingredients at Ralphs if you have a choice. I noticed that the big bottle of Braggs Liquid Aminos is about $12 at Ralphs and it's about half that price at Whole Foods.

Yesterday was BUSY and AWESOME. First up I worked out at Cardio Barre, so that's almost an hour of walking there and back and one hour of ass-kicking cardio and weights. When I got back I got ready and drove to USC for my audition. The audition was really fun, it involved some improv and wordless communication, as I was playing an Italian woman flirting with an American guy.

After the audition I went to the bar The Draft about five minutes from my house to watch the Broncos game and cheer for Jammie. My two new friends from Meetup.com and I were on the lookout for #53 the whole time, as was my mom. She took this picture of his tackle.

After the game I went to PARC, the young adults group at the Unitarian Universalist church. I'm so incredibly unspiritual but for some reason they like me anyway and it's fun, so I keep going. But I did realize I was the only one with my eyes open, looking around at everyone during a meditation. Eh.

So this brings us to today! I had a really fun audition for a TV show that was 100% improv and I found out I booked it! I work on Wednesday. =)

On Saturday I did some cooking, so I have a cool recipe for you. I'll post another one tomorrow.


Salade de Lentilles et Chou Frisé

2 cups kale
1/2 cup French green lentils (they hold their shape after cooking)
1 heirloom tomato
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 small white onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp vinegar - red wine, balsamic, or rice wine
fresh cracked pepper

1) Cook lentils. Rinse, then simmer in a few inches of water for 20-30 minutes or so until desired softness. I cooked about 2 cups of lentils and saved the rest for later.

2) Wash kale, de-stem, and chop finely. (Save your stems and use them in a stir-fry or soup like you would celery stalks!) Steam for 30 seconds until bright green and soft enough to eat easily.

3) Dice remaining vegetables and cut basil into thin ribbons.

4) Mix all ingredients together and season with vinegar. Other options - add a squeeze of lemon juice or a tablespoon of cooking wine. Serve as is or sprinkled with nutritional yeast.

Tip: Buy organic vegetables. This simple salad is all about the delicious flavors of the vegetables, so make sure they're tasty. And feel free to experiment with other fresh herbs. And I like to use lots of greens, but you could definitely cut down on the kale (and I'd recommend cutting it smaller than my pieces) and focusing it around the lentils.

Isn't it pretty? And yes, I gave my own recipe a French name because I used French green lentils. It just means Lentil and Curly Kale Salad.

Links o' the Day:

I saw this video on another blog, and she said that it made her cry lots of happy tears. I was like, "Oh sure, these things never make me cry." And then guess what? I cried. Quite a bit. Just ignore the first five seconds, because I don't know why they started the video with that girl talking. But her reaction to seeing her dad is seriously priceless.


This Little Piggy Had Tofu I like this blog; it's largely about raising kids vegan and it broaches some interesting topics.

Deadline Hollywood: Why The Emmys are Below B-List An interesting look into the politics behind award-show fashion.

I Eat Trees' Vegan Primer She's soliciting advice for new vegans.

Come back tomorrow for a delicious soup recipe! Seriously, it's awesome!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm Home!

Well I'm home from my trip to the Midwest. I realized I hit up Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska in one trip (plus Arizona and Nevada if you count plane stops!). Maybe not everyone's idea of a thrilling getaway, but I had a great time. Now I've got a busy week coming up - I have an audition tomorrow in which I have to speak Italian, going to a sports bar with some other people to watch the Broncos game tomorrow, an audition on Monday that will be 100% improv, an event at The Actors Network on Tuesday to learn how to decipher TV production charts, and then another Broncos game on Thursday! It's shaping up to be an exciting week.

The last couple days in Kansas were a little bittersweet, as I've been trying to absorb as much of baby brother as I can. I've been lucky enough to witness most of his big milestones before - I was there when he got his bottom teeth, his top teeth, when he learned to crawl, and when he started walking just last week. We just took it easy the last couple days so I didn't make any big dinners.

I did have some steamed kale with leftover cheesy sauce from the mac 'n cheese. It was really good! It would also be good on steamed broccoli for that elementary school cafeteria feel.

We ordered Chinese food for dinner Thursday night. I posted before about moo shu vegetables, but I'll explain it again. Moo Shu Pork was my favorite Chinese dish pre-vegan, the one I ate on my birthday. After I went vegan I found out that Moo Shu Vegetable is just as good! All the deliciousness comes from the veggies and sauce. Just make sure to ask for it without eggs, because they're sometimes included. Moo shu veggies usually are made of cabbage, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, maybe bamboo shoots, a light sauce, and are flavored with plum sauce and wrapped in thin pancakes. I like mine just fine without the pancakes, though. And I used to hate the plum sauce but now I kind of love it. I also like the sauce because it has to be the least oily of all Chinese sauces, I couldn't even see any oil in my dish. I ate about 2/3 of this and had the rest cold for breakfast. What can I say, I love cold leftovers for breakfast.

Try it.

For my travel food yesterday, I brought two small baked potatoes, some nutritional yeast, several cut-up carrots, and two Granny Smith apples. I ate everything but one of the apples. I packed my potatoes in the container from my Chinese food the night before!

I'm really proud of myself because I managed to stick this in my suitcase:

And then brought my suitcase as a carryon. My dad was sure they'd make me check it but it fit in the overhead compartment! I hate checking luggage. I'm just strange and I like to keep all my stuff with me - I think it came from traveling in Europe and Asia and always keeping an eye on my stuff. That also encourages you to pack light, which I'm really good at.

I thought I'd show you a few more interesting pictures from my Omaha trip. First up was a German poster from the 1940's I saw in the Air and Space Museum.

I found this really interesting and relevant to current health concerns. It says "Light and Air in the Home!" and was trying to fight Rickets, caused by Vitamin D deficiency. I was born in Germany and my mom said that the old German ladies always told her to put baby me in the window for ten minutes a day. I feel like before I went vegan I never heard people worrying about vitamin D here in America, so I found it interesting that the Germans have been cognizant of this potential deficiency for a long time.

And now some non-health and vegan-related photos.

I'm carrying my Melie Bianco bag. It is VEGAN and I bought it for about $25 on Ebay. It's awesome. I don't have any leather purses, so if you see me with an eerily leather-like purse, it's not.

Week-old Francois Langur.

Fighting over fish food.


Bunnies were my favorite animals when I was a kid. Just ask all my tchotchkes.

That's a statue and the world's longest pedestrian bridge. And me.

And in case you like planes...

That's a Goblin - it's a little mini plane that was supposed to hook onto another plane. They could detach it but never could re-attach it. Oops!

That last one is (baby being attacked by) the SR-71 Blackbird, pretty much the king of all planes. We've gone to many air and space museums just to see one.

Links o' the Day:
http://girliegirlarmy.com/ Fashion, recipes, news. I like it and they have a good newsletter.

Jezebel: Why you must see unretouched images, and see them repeatedly.

Yes Means Yes: Prop 8 Findings of Fact Just the bare-bones facts of the recent Prop 8 decision. It's informative.

And speaking of Prop 8, I was reading an article by Charles Krauthammer yesterday in which he called the overturn the most radical re-definition of marriage in human history. This is just not true. The most radical re-definition of marriage isn't including homosexual couples - it's re-defining marriage as being about LOVE. Marriage used to be about property, but now we believe that people get married because they love each other. That is a huge re-definition, a massive change, and one that I not only agree with whole-heartedly but also one that paved the way for the equal rights of gay couples to enter into the same loving contract.

Well I'm off to make some food. I got some good stuff and I have a really good recipe idea percolating. So look forward to that ;)

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let's Travel with Erika: Omaha

I just got back from a three-day trip to Omaha and I have a lot to tell you!

First of all - I was featured on FindingVegan.com twice this week! Thank you Finding Vegan and to all the people who found this blog!

We left on Monday morning and I packed a cooler full of food to bring. I ate the last of the Split Pea Soup for breakfast and packed the pasta salad, more mac 'n cheese (I had extra sauce so I just boiled up more pasta), and a salad for me and one for my dad and step-mom. I was really trying to use up all our produce so we wouldn't come home to a wilty, sad refrigerator mess. I think I did a pretty good job!

My salad had mixed greens, radishes, green onions, tomatoes, carrots, celery, beans, red pepper, and sprouts. I nixed the pepper and beans for my parents' salad and they got chopped up leftover Field Roast Meatloaf, instead.

After settling in, we went for a walk around our hotel and around the Old Town. We stayed at the Embassy Suites, which is known for its luscious indoor garden. It was a great setup because baby brother had his own space and we didn't all have to go to sleep at the same time, plus we had a fridge and a microwave. Here's the hotel from our 7th floor vantage point.

I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't take any pictures of Omaha's Old Town... and I don't think my dad did, either. It's very pretty, with brick buildings and cobblestone streets. I wanted to call it "Pit-stop to the West" because it really does seem like some place people wagoned through in the 1800's on their way out to the Wild West... and some people stayed and hung on, like plaque in an artery.

For dinner my dad and step-mom were nice enough to take me to the one restaurant with rave reviews on HappyCow: McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe. McFoster's is a mostly vegetarian restaurant with some fish and chicken dishes and lots of well-marked vegan food. Just look out for honey - they use a lot of it.

I was overwhelmed by all the options but I just wanted something simple and veggie-ful so I got the curry vegetables.

My dad and step-mom split an avocado-tempeh sandwich, a fruit salad, and a pasta marinara that was also for baby bro.

It's a pretty cool-looking building, nice and hippy-ish. The second one shows my dad taking a picture.

The food was delicious. I loved my meal and it was not oily at all. I can't speak for the sandwich because it had cheese on it, but my dad said it was really good. The menu was definitely cool because they're very explicit about their ingredients and their food philosophy. If you're in Omaha, go to McFosters fo' real.

Then we went back to the hotel and I went down to check out the gym while the parents put the baby to bed. I had planned on working out on the elliptical for 30-45 minutes but each elliptical has its own little TV and mine had somehow hacked into someone's Pay-Per-View and the movie "Get Him to the Greek" had just started. I ended up running on the elliptical for an hour and a half so I could watch the whole thing! It was hilarious and it was good I was the only one in the workout room because I was cracking up.

The next morning we ate complimentary breakfast at the hotel. They have the usual non-vegan hotel fare, but they did have oatmeal made with only water. I was in a fruity mood, though, so I got this big ole plate of cantaloupe and pineapple.

I didn't eat it all, so I put it in a Tupperware for later.

After breakfast I went and lifted weights in the workout room and then we all went swimming and relaxing in the hot tub.

In the afternoon, we went to...
The Zoo.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted to blog about this, because it's kind of a heavy topic and honestly, I'm kind of ashamed of going. I know that I have readers of very different moral backgrounds so some people are probably wondering why I'm making a big deal out of this and others will probably be mad at me for going. Let me explain.

To put it simply, zoos are not vegan. Collecting animals and putting them in cages for people to stare at is not a part of the vegan way of life. I do not believe that animals are ours to use. They deserve to live their own lives. So I feel very uneasy about zoos, and wouldn't choose to go to one on my own. I would certainly never go to a circus. But I'm here to spend time with my family and I couldn't stand to just stay in the hotel while they spent time together. Plus, I'm still working through my feelings on zoos. The meat, dairy, egg, leather, and wool industries bring nothing positive to this world, to people, and certainly not to animals. But zoos are slightly different because I think they can have some benefit. I realize I probably am conflating zoos and refuges to some extent, but I'm just using the knowledge I have.

I loved zoos as a kid and I think they can provide an important connection with animals. If we lived in nature, we would see and interact with animals all the time but in our modern and especially urban world, many people seldom interact with animals, and almost never with animals who aren't domesticated cats or dogs. The only other animals they see are on their plate, and they fail to make the connection between their processed meat and dairy products and the living, breathing, feeling animals who were killed for them. Having more exposure to animals can make people more connected and compassionate. (I know that many people's answer for this would be animal sanctuaries, and I totally agree. Unfortunately, they are not as common - I have never been to one, though I certainly would like to). I did see some incredible things at the zoo yesterday, mostly involving animal babies. I saw a week-old Francois Langur monkey and got to see how his parents protected him, usually sandwiching him between two of their bodies.

I also saw a month-old tiger cub and her momma. The cub was so playful and the mom was sweet, playing with her cub even though she clearly doesn't find those games fun anymore.

I think it's important to see these kind of interactions to realize how similar humans and other animals really are.

And unfortunately, sometimes zoos are necessary refuges for animals whose habitats have been destroyed, who are too sick or injured to survive in the wild, who are being hunted to extinction, etc. But there are also still so many animals who are forcibly taken out of their natural environments in order to be put in cages and gawked at by humans.

I was sad a lot of the time. Most of the habitats just seemed too small, and it was clear that the animals were out on display. And I'm sure many of them were lonely. Animals often aren't put together in zoos because the human zookeepers don't really want them to interact because animals fight each other and have sex with each other and we want to determine their actions and not let them do it themselves.

So I would support zoos if they were completely different - if they were focused around the animals and not around the people. This is how I wish zoos would be:
* If the animals really got to live in a natural-feeling habitat, with enough space.
* If the animals got to pursue their natural activities.
* If the animals got to have relationships with others of their species.
* If the animals got to determine the course of their own lives, by using their natural social behavior, picking mates, etc.

And people could walk around, learn about them, look for them, and learn to respect them.

So, that's how I feel about zoos right now.

Moving on.

After the zoo, we went to Night Flight pizza. I had heard about this place on Happy Cow and I was trying to find a restaurant that would make my dad and step-mom happy. Apparently Night Flight is vegan-owned, serves vegan soy cheese (Follow Your Heart) and several vegan faux-meat products, and cooks all its vegan food in a separate area of the kitchen. My family got icky meat and dairy pizzas and ordered beef toasted ravioli for the baby brother. This really makes me sad. Kids don't have control over what their parents feed them and most kids love animals and I know they would be horrified if they knew what they were really eating. It just breaks my heart that my brother is so young and perfect and beautiful and already he's a part of suffering and killing. Ugh. Raising a kid as a meat-eater takes away their choice, and they have no choice but to contribute to the horrendous plight of animals in this world. I can't tell you how sad it makes me.

Uh sorry. Downer again. Anyway, on to my food, which was way way way better.

I got a thin-crust personal pizza with onions, garlic, broccoli, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and tomatoes. It was very average. The garlic was minced from a jar, the broccoli had been frozen, and the mushrooms were also from a jar. I really had been hoping for some fresh vegetables. But it really was pretty good and I was not complaining. I ate all of the veggies and about half of the crust. The sauce was tasty, even though it was definitely from a jar, too.

After dinner we went back to the hotel, put baby to bed, watched some TV, and conked out. I read Luna Nueva, which is the second book in the Twilight series in Spanish. I read the first book in German - Biss zum Morgengrauen. I read about 80 pages of Luna Nueva on this trip and I'm really enjoying it!

This morning we got more hotel breakfast, and I got the same plate of fruit as yesterday. After checkout we went to the Riverwalk. My dad has a few pictures on his camera that I'll probably put up in my next post.

We spent the majority of our day at the Strategic Air Command Air and Space Museum. Both of my parents love air and space museums, so I have been to a million. If there's an SR-71 Blackbird, we're there. I've even been to Dayton, Ohio a couple of times and to Huntsville, Alabama just for their air and space museums. And you want to guess what these (blurry) pictures signify?

That's right! Baby brother learned to walk. He actually took his first steps in the hotel on Monday and has been zooming around ever since.

So that was my trip to Omaha. I had a good time and mostly I just had fun being with my family. I'm going back to LA on Friday and I'll be really sad to leave them. Once I get the pictures from my dad's camera I'll put up a few more pictures from the trip (but this post is definitely long enough already!)

Good Links of the Day:

http://chicvegan.com/ - If you haven't seen this site before, look at it. It has good vegan fashion stories, some recipes, random articles, and more. I like it.

http://www.choosingraw.com/the-whys-and-hows-of-my-veganism/ - Gena's vegan story. Me gusta mucho.

SO. How do you feel about zoos? Similarly to me? Any moral quandaries you've had to face lately?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Classic American: Meatloaf, Green Beans, and Major Vegan Mac 'n Cheese Success

Dinner last night was my vegan take on classic American food - meatloaf, mac and cheese, and green beans. And it was all easy!

The green beans were already cooked, as I had cooked a bunch of them the day before and used some in the pasta salad. I made a quick easy dressing and just mixed them up and served it cold.

Maple Dijon Green Beans
5 cups green beans
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp rosemary
cracked black pepper to taste (I used a lot!)

Boil green beans for about five minutes until cooked but not mushy. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Mix dressing with a fork and add water until consistency is as desired. Mix with green beans and serve!

Notes: I ran out of lemon juice but I think hat would be a good addition. Agave would also taste great instead of maple syrup. And, as always, my measurements are total guesses. Just add as much of every ingredient until it tastes good.

For the meatloaf, I bought a pre-made Field Roast Classic Meatloaf. I hadn't ever tried it before, but it tasted very similar to the Celebration Roast.

Here it is in the package.

And before going in the oven.

It's already pre-cooked, so it just needs about 30 minutes to brown and warm after a nice coating of classic ketchup. I didn't get a picture of the whole loaf right out of the oven because my family was too hungry and wanted to start eating. But I got photos of the leftover slices.

My dad said the Field Roast was "pretty good," but he was a little reluctant to call it meatloaf.

Last was the mac and cheese from The Vegan Table. There are a million recipes for vegan mac and cheese, and everyone seems to have a different preference. It's like the Holy Grail of vegan recipes. I freakin' looooved mac and cheese as a kid and I have loved every vegan mac and cheese recipe I've ever eaten, too. I must be easy to please. But you know that a recipe is successful when everybody eats seconds and talks about how good it is. My baby brother got to eat some and he loved it, too!

This recipe is posted all around the internet, so I don't feel too bad about reprinting it. I'll share it with you in its original form and then tell you the little changes I made (and the mistake I made!)

Creamy Macaroni and Cashew Cheese from The Vegan Table

1 1/4 C raw cashews
1/2 C nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
1 to 2 tsp salt, to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp white pepper
3-1/2 C nondairy milk
3 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 C canola oil
1/4 C light (yellow or white) miso
2 Tbs lemon juice
12-16oz macaroni, cooked

Place cashews in a large-sized bowl of the food processor and finely grind–just don’t let the cashews turn to a paste. Add nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Pulse three more times to blend in spices.

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch and oil. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Decrease heat to low-medium, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, or until cornstarch dissolves.
With the food processor running, gradually add milk/oil mixture to cashew/nutritional yeast mixture. Blend for 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Next blend in miso and lemon juice.

Combine cashew cheese with macaroni noodles and serve. You may also bake it: Preheat oven to 325 and place macaroni mixture in a 8 or 9″ square baking dish (I recommend a 9″x13″ one). Cover and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with 1/2 C herbed bread crumbs. Continue baking, uncovered, for 15-25 minutes until topping is golden brown. (I’m going to do this with the leftovers)! Enjoy!


I read a recommendation on someone's blog to decrease the amount of miso, so I only used about a tablespoon.

I used unsweetened almond milk.

It says not to let the cashews become a paste, but I think I should have processed mine a little more. I was using a somewhat crappy food processor and it ended up a little grittier than I would have liked.

I didn't have onion powder or white pepper and I didn't have quite enough lemon juice so I just used garlic salt and lemon pepper.

I just couldn't bring myself to add 1/2 cup oil to a recipe full of nuts. Actually I couldn't add 1/2 cup oil to anything, but especially not an already fatty recipe. I drizzled in about a tablespoon and next time I'd try it without any added oil. I didn't miss it!

And my mistake - I accidentally let my saucepan boil over. I really should have used a bigger pan and I knew that. But I think that meant that I lost quite a it of the cornstarch so my sauce didn't end up being as thick as it was supposed to be.

BUT, all notes and mistakes aside -- this recipe rocks.
My dad said, "So, what's the difference between this mac and cheese and the stuff you made last time, except that it tastes a lot better?" (I guess he likes cashew-based mac instead of tofu-based!). And he had no problem with calling it mac and cheese, unlike the meatloaf. ;) I made about 2/3 box of pasta because I didn't want to make too much but it all got eaten! I have some leftover sauce so I'll probably make some more mac and cheese today.

And here's my plate! I ended up eating about twice as many green beans as shown.

This was a delicious meal. And try this mac and cheese on your dairy-eating family SOON!

Today will be leftover day, and then we're going on vacation for the next three days either to Denver or Omaha. We haven't yet decided where to go. I probably won't be able to post while I'm gone, but I should have some good stuff when I get back.

So far today I had leftover Split Pea Soup for breakfast and a big mug of coffee.


Interesting links for the day:
http://www.slate.com/id/2264542/ "What's the Matter with Twentysomething Kids Today?"
Basically: Are we aimless yahoos? Or maybe just victims of the recession?

Plus, my Panini with Lemon-Basil Pesto from the other day is featured on Finding Vegan!

Do you have a favorite vegan mac and cheese recipe?
What's your idea of a typical American meal and how would you veganize it for omnivorous dinner guests?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Light and Fresh Pasta Salad

I have another lovely dinner for you guys today. And I can even post the recipe this time!

For lunch yesterday I ate the leftover veggies from the previous night's sandwiches along with some leftover salad and Indian curry hummus.

For dinner I made pasta salad, fruit salad, and BBQ seitan and tempeh. We ate it in our dining room, but I think it would make for great picnic food. That's another thing I love about vegan food - it doesn't go bad and give you diseases when it sits out in the sun for a few hours. Yay!

The fruit salad had grapes, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, a few blueberries, Braeburn apples, and an entire fresh pineapple that I cut up. All organic. Yippee.

The BBQ seitan and tempeh was the easiest part of the meal - I just put it in a pan, let it brown a little, then put on some barbecue sauce and cooked it until it was warm. I didn't know whether my dad and step-mom would like seitan or tempeh, and that's why I made both. Tempeh ended up being the favorite, but both got eaten.

And now, what you've all been waiting for!

Light and Fresh Pasta Salad

1 12 oz. box whole wheat pasta (I just used the rotini they already had)
1 cup green beans, steamed or boiled for about 5 minutes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
5 pieces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 chives, diced
2 cucumbers, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 ears corn, sliced off the cob (yes, you can eat it raw)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup parsley, chopped
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
5 tbsp lemon juice
Cracked pepper

1) Cook the pasta according to box directions, then cool completely.
2) Cut green beans into two- or three-inch-long pieces and boil for five minutes, then spray with cold water to stop cooking.
3) Chop veggies and mix with pasta.
4) Season to taste with vinegar, lemon juice, and pepper.

And enjoy! There's no added fat, and it's high-protein. I could also see adding some olives and white beans. I'd also like to see it with fresh basil and mint as the herbs. And to make it all raw, omit the pasta and keep the green beans raw.

Here's my plate.

By the by, Bitt from Bitt of Raw is having a cool giveaway for a Zuvo water filter.


And if you're reading Women Food and God by Geneen Roth, check out this online book club. I just received the book as a gift so I'll be keeping up.


I think I'm going to Omaha, Nebraska for a few days next week on vacation. If anyone knows something cool to do there, let me know!