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Homemade vegan oliebollen with apple & cranberries for New Year's Eve!

There’s a first time for everything. I’m 42 but today I made oliebollen for the first time in my life. I used a vegan recipe from Lisette Kreischer’s cookbook Ecofabulous (which I was recently able to obtain as e-book), and replaced the raisins with cranberries — I’m still in a Wadden Island mood, where we spent Christmas!

We’re toasting here with blueberry wine while Juno is waiting for her chance to ‘catch’ a fritter. Can’t blame her, because they are yummy! :)

Wishing you all a very happy, compassionate and animal-friendly 2013!

Special thoughts tonight for my friend muizz who recently lost her father, and for WM who’s dad is also terminally ill. It’s hard to celebrate a new year when you know your loved one won’t be there to enjoy it with you. :(

Sunday Salon logoThe Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of book lovers on the web, blogging about bookish things of the past week, visiting each others weblogs, and oh — reading books of course ;)

My experience with Ann Gentry’s Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone kind of resembled a sugar-crash.

Know what that is? When you’re taking in big amounts of refined sugars at a time (like having a Mars bar or a donut), blood sugar levels spike, releasing insulin into your body which then causes your blood sugar levels to plummet. Some of you may call it an afternoon dip. ;) You experience a roller-coaster ride as the body works hard to stabilize its blood sugar levels.

Cover Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone (Ann Gentry)Reading the introduction to Vegan Family Meals got me extremely enthusiastic. Ann Gentry is the busy chef of Los Angeles’ popular vegan restaurant Real Food Daily. She wants to make plant-based cooking accessible for the time-strapped cook who craves delicious meals that are easy to prepare. By showing that the vegan cooking process isn’t so different from vegetarian cooking she specifically means to help omnivores wanting to reduce their intake of animal products, newbie vegetarians-turned-vegan like myself or even die-hard vegans. If you eat (strict) vegetarian for just one day a week, it will have a positive impact on your health and the environment. That’s why Meatless Mondays are getting more popular every day!

“If you’re intimidated by the thought of preparing plant-based foods, don’t be. A standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich is vegan. Most of the easy vegan recipes that follow have fewer than a dozen ingredients – and they’re much more delicious than a PB&J.”

YAY!

“The dishes in this books are designed for family meals. They are simple vegan recipes with approachable ingredients lists and techniques, relatively short preparation time, and, of course, wide appeal.”

Hear hear!

“For help with ingredients that might be new to you, simply turn to the Real Food Pantry listings throughout the book for extra information that will demystify the likes of spelt and umeboshi, and more plant-based staples.”

YES!

Can it get any better? Simple but yummy meals with less than twelve ingredients that do not rely heavily on unfamiliar ingredients or which components can easily be substituted. And Ann Gentry promises to do all this on an affordable budget.

So. You may understand I got a little discouraged when I discovered that the first recipe of Vegan Family Meals — Super Hippie Granola — contains 15 ingredients, among which dried Hunza mulberries (never heard of), goji berries (not in stock) and melted unrefined coconut oil (erm…). Thankfully the author suggests common substitutes like coconut flakes, cranberries or or other dried tropical fruits. And it’s a breakfast dish that you are meant to prepare in advance so maybe I should not worry too much about the long ingredients list.

On to the next breakfast recipe: Acai Granola Bowl. It consists of only 8 ingredients, but alas: one of those is the previously mentioned Super Hippie Granola and the main element is frozen acai berry bars… Can’t get those in in The Netherlands! The same goes for the following breakfast recipes: they either contain products that are ‘strange’, hard to get or need to be prepared well in advance. Also, vegan cheese substitutes are needed for several of them.

I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by this time. I guess the Vegan Family Meals cookbook isn’t really meant for the European market – and things are certainly different over here in The Netherlands. There are less vegan products and options. For example there are no vegan ‘cheeses’ that can be considered real alternatives for dairy cheese, as was recently confirmed by a test panel of Vegatopia (article in Dutch). The on the internet much appraised Daiya is not available in my country.

Still, there’s hope: on most things we’re supposed to be 5 years behind on the UK and 10 on the US. If I think back to when I stopped eating meat, there were much fewer vegetarian options as well. Ann Gentry herself writes that most products were only available in natural food stores when she started her alternative food journey. Now they’re sold in mainstream supermarkets – and being vegan is hip. :)

I was happy to find that further on in the book there were several recipes I felt I could try.

I ended up making 5 of them:

  • Ginger Miso Soup (p.98)
    Just a good miso soup recipe, flavourful but not really anything special.
  • Kombu Dashi (p.99)
    Needed for the Ginger Miso Soup.
  • Sweet Mustard Tempeh (p.116)
    Tasty. I had some of it on a sandwich and with the rest I plan to make a salad with the saffron-orange tahini dressing that accompanies this recipe in the cookbook (p.115).
  • Orange-Basil Tempeh (p.129; recipe below)
    Very flavourful: will definitely be making this again!
  • Watercress and Butter Lettuce Salad with Israeli Couscous, Orange Basil-Tempeh and Sweet Miso Dressing (p.128)
    This is a really good salad recipe, although I found that the many flavours pushed the orange-basil tempeh to the background. I will be making it again, especially for pot-lucks or a picnic, but probably without the tempeh – and with the Roasted Pistachios (p.55) that I forgot to add this time.

Still on the menu plan with pak choi from this week’s batch of organic vegetables: Szechuan Noodles with Spicy Hot Peanut Sauce (p.147).

Another positive aspect of Vegan Family meals is that it’s an easy and interesting read. It’s well-stocked with appetizing photo’s, cutting techniques, info on so-called exoctic superfoods, non-dairy milks, sweeteners, food history et cetera. Each of the sections (Breakfasts, Snacks & Sandwiches, Soups, Family-Style Salads, Simple Meals, Grains and Vegetables, Desserts) is introduced by a one page article that educates us a little more about the topic as well as the author’s life. So after plummeting from euphoric to frustrated, my end verdict for Vegan Family Meals: Real Food for Everyone is a positive one.

Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing I was given the opportunity to preview the e-book version of Vegan Family Meals through Netgalley. The key question is now: will I buy a paper copy when it is published on June 14th? I’m afraid not. The dishes take a little more time to prepare than expected and often times another component needs to be made first. I also felt I had to ‘tweak’ too many of the recipes because of lacking ingredients. But maybe this will change in few years from now, when we’re up to speed with the US here in The Netherlands?! ;)

To get a taste of the book yourself I’ll share the recipe for Orange-Basil Tempeh. Since Mr Gnoe and I are a family of two I just made half of it.

Salad with couscous, orang-basil tempeh and sweet miso dressing

Recipe for Orange-Basil Tempeh (salad condiment)

Ingredients
Serves 4.

  • 225 g tempeh, halved horizontally and then cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 120 ml fresh orange juice
  • zest of 1 organic orange
  • 3 tbs finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbs agave syrup
  • 2 tbs tamari
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. I immediately moved away from the recipe by steaming the tempeh for 10 minutes. I’ve read elsewhere that it improves absorbency (and alleviates the slightly bitter taste some people dislike). It’s your choice whether you do this or not.
  2. Whisk the orange juice, basil, agave nectar, tamari, garlic, olive oil and zest (= everything except tempeh ;) together in a bowl.
  3. Add the tempeh (either raw or steamed) and turn to coat.
  4. Arrange the tempeh in a single layer so it’s (partly) submerged in the marinade.
  5. Set aside to marinade for at least an hour or refrigerate overnight. I did the latter.
  6. Put in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes until tempeh is hot and the marinade has reduced.
  7. Serve the tempeh warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

Hop over to She Likes Bento for another review of Vegan Family Meals including the recipe for Sweet Potato Fries!

The recipe for a Spring to Summer Vegetable Dish can be found on the Real Food Daily website.

You want to have a look at the cookbook yourself? Go to the publisher’s page and check out the Google preview.

This is my first submission to Cookbook Sundays, a meme from Mom’s Sunday Café!

Button Cookbook Sundays

Post also submitted to…

Vegan Mondays button Button Whip Up Something New! Challenge Foodie's Reading Challenge 2011 button

Actually very few people in Holland celebrate Halloween (we’ve got our own festival for children called Sint Maarten on November 11th), but if you roam the internet as much as I do you can’t help being inspired by the festive spirit. So I decided to share the pumpkin cookies I baked this month.

Would you like one? ;)

Pumpkin & Fresh Ginger Cookies, October 2010

The original recipe called for brrrrrrrrr-raisins. Me no like ;) So I substituted these for mixed nuts: 75 grams of almond and 30 gr pistachios, next to the already required 100 gr walnuts.

The cookies were less sweet because of it, but I fixed that by adding a bag of vanilla sugar and powdering the finished goodies. NICE. :)

All ‘testers’ remarked how good it was that they were not that sugary!

Pumpkin & Fresh Ginger Cookies -- served

I should be honest and tell you that I couldn’t really taste the fresh ginger… But that doesn’t assure me that these treats would have been as good if it had been left out!

It also took me double time to bake ‘em: 30 minutes instead of 15. Next time I’ll turn up the heat! A notch at least ;)

There’s a set on Flickr showing pictures of all steps.

I’ve posted a more comprehensive recipe in Dutch at the Kookgrrls’ weblog

- – – – -

Join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post!

Beth Fish Weekend Cooking logo

Three kinds of radish
Last Thursday I told you about the comparative test we were supposed to do with the 3 different csa radishes we found in our veggie bag. Well, here’s the result you’ve all been waiting for! ;)

– Drumroll –

3: the ‘ordinary’ round radish
2: the long red one

Number 1: the WHITE radish!!!

The root vegetables were tested by wlfr, Mr Gnoe and myself. Mr Gnoe and I ate them with, and without (sea) salt.

Wlfr did the test by himself (probably salted) and sent us his verdict by e-mail:

Wlfr's radish rating

Cool, right? As always, his and my verdict were completely opposite… Actually, we all had different tastes concerning the three types!

The plain round one was my favourite; the white came first for Mr Gnoe. So he would have won the (con-)test… if it had been a bet ;)

Comparative radish (con)test

My number 1 was juicy, sweet and spicy at the same time. The white winner started out with a subtle taste and turned into a sharp lingering taste. “Multiple consecutive sensations,” as Mr Gnoe put it. [sic.] The long red one was well… just pretty pungent and a bit too tough to my taste — although Mr Gnoe disagreed.

Anyway, it was a fun thing to do! :) Hope you’ve enjoyed our experiment a little as well? ;)

CSA vegetable bag week 19, 2010

I just picked up our second vegetable bag of the season. At first I thought it was so light it had to be almost empty (well, we were warned so that came as no shock) but when I looked inside… a whole bag of GOODIES! Lesson learnt: don’t always trust your first impressions ;)

  • red Batavia lettuce
  • leek
  • eggplant
  • tree onion (sint-jansui)
  • radishes
  • spinach

YumyumYUM, that’ll provide some nice diners & bentos. I’ve been craving eggplant for a week or two, so it was a wish come true to find it in today’s bag!

Tonight we’re having Nasubi to Atsuage no Nimono (a.k.a. eggplant & tofu stew) in which I can finally use the koya dofu (freeze dried tofu) we brought home from Madeira. I hope it’ll be any good since an earlier experiment with Anpanman tofu was not a success…

I’ll substitute the green peppers with bell pepper; I do have a jar of jalapeños in the pantry but it might be better not to try too many new things at the same time ;) Which reminds me… I need to refresh my challenge to empty out the pantry!

Marmite Cereal Bars!Look what the Bento Fairy brought me: Marmite Cereal Bars!!!

Aren’t they amazing? I’ve loved Marmite for as long as I can remember (there’s always an open jar in my cupboard), but I’ve only had it on my sammie or a piece of cheese. New adventures to be lived! I can’t wait to try these :) My new sleek green bento box provides a perfect fit..!

Arigatou gozaimasu! :)

I didn’t know there’s a whole range of Marmite goodies… Have you ever tried these cereal bars, or anything like it?

Veggiebag week 43 2009

  • Spitskool
  • Andijvie
  • Tomaten (uit Schalkwijk)
  • Bospeen
  • Rode bataviasla
  • Koriander

Perfect, want a.s. zaterdag komt er bezoek mahjong spelen en het menu ligt al klaar: wortel-gembersoep (met koriander), kooltaart en herfstsalade. Tjee, dat doet me eraan denken dat ik vast azukibonen in de week moet gaan zetten… Want ik ga voor die dag een spannend experiment aan: groene-theemuffins met rodebonenpuree die helemaal ‘from scratch’ worden gemaakt! Te beginnen met tsubushi-an (grove rode bonenpasta).

[fluister] Ik zal maar bekennen dat ik voor de zekerheid ook een blik heb ingeslagen ;)

ETA @#^!$%$# Waarom kan ik nu dat succesrecept voor kooltaart nergens meer vinden??? :(

Deze week in de tas met biologische groenten van de Aardvlo:

    Aardvlo groententas week 38 2009
  • rode bataviasla
  • gele en groene spekbonen (en ik maar denken dat dit weer boterbonen waren…)
  • paksoi
  • koolrabi
  • maïskolven
  • koriander

Kom maar op met die recepten :)

Gek eigenlijk dat je nooit droog korianderblad bij de specerijen ziet. Zal ik proberenom het in de magnetron te drogen of wordt dat dan de brandweer bellen?

Het groentenpakket van deze week (37):
Aardvlo veggiebag week 37

  • venkel
  • bloemkool
  • maïskolf
  • ijsbergsla (wel 2 kroppen!)
  • boterbonen (wasbonen)
  • platte peterselie

Ik maakte nog nooit eerder boterbonen… Wat zeg ik, ik heb ze zelfs nog nooit gegeten! Wie wel?

Deze maand is vooral de koolhydratenbox geplunderd. Een eerste opluchting is dat de bruschetta’s en het roggebrood uit het kerstpakket komende december gelukkig niet hebben gehaald. Ik moet eens kijken of we nu dat hele kadopakket hebben weggewerkt — anders moeten de laatste spullen maar even hoogste prioriteit krijgen! ;)

Verder stonden er weer bonen op het menu. We hadden NIEUWE zakken kidneybonen en kikkererwten gekocht (tja, zo blijf je bezig! ;) dus die mag ik niet meetellen, maar de zwarte bonen zijn nu op. Ze gingen in gerechten die goed pasten bij de Zuid-Amerikaanse sfeer van het boek dat ik aan het lezen was, The Mapmaker’s Wife van Robert Whitaker (jullie hebben al een blogpostje daarover zien verschijnen): allereerst een Mexicaanse avocadosaus die we aten met taco’s, salade met sinaasappelmarmelade (ook uit de hamstervoorraad) en maïskolf. Maar we aten als vegetariërs (nota bene ;) ook ‘Moren en christenen‘ ;)

In sommige dorpen in Andalusië, in het grensgebied waar in de middeleeuwen Moren en Christenen met wisselend succes streden om de macht, zijn nog de symbolen van deze strijd te vinden. Kerken en al dan niet verwoeste Moorse wachttorens in een plaatsje.

Ook culinair is de strijd doorgedrongen in een recept dat Moros y Cristianos heet, Moren en Christenen. Het gaat om een berg zwarte bonen die omringd wordt door rijst met kruiden en boter. De witte rijst moet de christenen voorstellen, de zwarte bonen, jawel, de Moren.. Veel dorpen en steden in het zuiden van Spanje vieren de verjaging van de Moren nog met feesten.
Uit: de Volkskrant van 18 juni 2004.

Maar de ontdekking van de maand zijn toch wel onze basilicumblokjes! Deze kruidenblokjes zijn bedoeld als zoutvervanger en smaken geweldig. Een heuse toevoeging aan de zelfgemaakte tomatensoep en Napolitaanse witte bonen. Hoewel het een nieuw succesrecept is tel ik die witte bonen trouwens ook al niet mee… Dat zou valsspelen zijn omdat ik ze had afgestreept na het koken en invriezen ;)

Ander klein grut dat deze maand uit de hamstervoorraad werd opgediept: shoyu (voor gemarineerde limabonen), broccolicress, XL-cashewnoten, mungbonen voor taugé en – het wordt voorspelbaar – tuinkers. Geen idee hoeveel porties er nog uit dat zakje zaadjes gaan!

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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