28 September 2013

Slow cooker cook book giveaway winner

Even though there we only had one entrant for the cook book giveaway, Lilly and I still held an official drawing.  Because life without formalities may not be a life I want to live.

* Yes, let's choose this one *
* Oh, hey - it looks like Katie won *
Congratulations to .... Katie for winning Vegan Slow Cooking.  It really couldn't have happened to a nicer person.
* I'm bored with this charade *
In the process of moving, I found several cookbooks that I plan to give away on this blog between now and, let's say, Christmas. So check back again. I'll put another up next week. If you're interested in getting a new cookbook for you or as a gift for a friend (or to later giveaway on your own blog!), just keep your eyes on this space.  Hopefully we can get a few more entrants so that Lilly has a more exciting job to do.

23 September 2013

Sometimes you like it slow and low

Well, guys.  I was going to participate in Vegan MoFo this year, but I've obviously missed the boat on that one.  I haven't really mentioned it here, but over the last few months I've moved (back) across the country, found a new apartment, and started a new job.  It's all just a lot of excuses, but there you have it.

I do want to check in today to make sure everyone knows about the new cookbook from Kathy Hester, Vegan Slow Cooking for Two or Just for You!  I was lucky enough to test for this collection of tasty recipes, and there are some real gems. I highly recommend the Yellow Lentil Stew (pg 108), the Lentil Quinoa Taco Filling (pg 113), and the Mushroom Tempeh Over Potatoes and Carrots (pg 150).  Of course, everything is a winner!  And you should know that many recipes have gluten-free, soy-free, and/or oil-free options, for anyone who follows those particular persuasions.

* Some tasty chili, Cincinnati style *
Most recently, I made the Wacky Cincinnati Chili (pg 100).  This chili was exactly the sort of recipe that slow cookers were designed for.  I threw the morning ingredients in ... well .. in the morning, and I promptly left to run various errands around town.  While out, I managed to forget that I'd put anything in the slow cooker.  When I got home, the whole apartment smelled amazing - a smell that lingered all day and all evening.  The chili was different from my typical chili fare, but especially delicious.  I served mine up Cincinnati style, atop a pile of spaghetti noodles, topped with onions and shredded cheddar Teese.  Kathy has shared this recipe on her blog, and I highly recommend you plan to make it soon.

If you haven't yet been lucky enough to get a copy of this great book, I have good news!  Kathy was kind enough to offer an extra copy of this book for a giveaway.  To enter, you can leave a comment on this post with your favorite thing to cook nice and slow (or your favorite thing to cook fast .. or something you've just been aching to get off your chest. Really anything at all!).  For additional entries, you can like Kathy's pinterest page or the Vegan Slow Cooker pinterest page (or do both for two entries).  If you do either of these, please come back and leave additional comments so that I can give you credit in the drawing.  I'll randomly select a winner on Friday, September 27.  Come back here on Saturday to see if you won!

Please enjoy these bonus photos of Derek trying the Wacky Cincinnati Chili.  Derek is a chili eater from way back, and he has some pretty well established ideas about what chili should taste like.  He seemed to be pleasantly surprised with the result!

* Derek was touched by an angel while eating this chili *

* This chili is officially approved by a
picky omnivore with very specific tastes in chili *

08 March 2013

My ghost is all full up

I was recently contacted by the publishers of Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner, inquiring if I'd be interested in an advance copy to review.  From the title alone, I (like many people probably did) thought the book would be in some way religious.  I don't talk much about religion here, and there's a simple reason for that - I don't have any.  I grew up in a religious family (and my parents are still very strong Christians), but I also grew up in a family that encouraged me to observe the world and draw my own conclusions.  As it turns out, my conclusions about the world, the universe, and everything are currently incongruous with the tenets of religion.  That said, I generally don't begrudge other people their religion (and I sadly have many friends who do).  I think this might be related to my veganism - I have very different beliefs about food and food-related ethics than most people I know, but I expect people to respect my beliefs about food (as I respect theirs).  So it's easy for me to understand that some people have different beliefs about religion, and it's easy for me to know how important it is to respect that.  This long, rambling introduction is just to say that I wasn't immediately put off by the thought that this book might have religious undertones.  So I immediately responded in the affirmative, and I received this lovely new book in time for a recent trip to Tennessee for a wedding (congratulations, Rick and Elizabeth!).



I settled into my window seat and cracked open the book, not sure what to expect.  Just a few pages in, I felt like I had been invited into an intimate conversation with the author - no preaching, no proselytizing, no pontificating.  We talked about her relationships, we talked about her travels, we talked about her childhood.  Admittedly, the conversation was pretty one-sided, but it was still delightful.  I nodded knowingly when she recounted the story of the Stone Soup.  I giggled like a school child when she told me about trying to induce an orgy with a cardamom-laced apple crumble.  And I teared up when she talked about the death of a dear friend.

Without giving away any of the plot twists, the hungry ghost refers to the Tao concept of people who are so desperate and clutchy that they are hungry even beyond the grave.  But you don't have to be dead to be a hungry ghost!  People are hungry, too - for food, sure, but also for love and meaning and human connections.  This book aims to feed your inner hungry ghost, with both physical and emotional nourishment.

* We'd better feed this hungry ghost before he eats the cat ... *
In addition to the stories, Ellen (after all that sharing, we're on a first name basis) offers about fifty recipes, from simple dishes like Spring Pea Puree to more exotic combinations like Pumpkin, Poblano, and Spinach Tacos.   After returning home, fully in love with this book, I hoped to make many of the recipes so that I could report back to you all about how amazing and delicious everything is.  But, of course, life got in the way. And by life, I mean work.  But I'm saved for now - if you want to see what sort of recipes are in store in this book, just head over to Carla's review.  She made a cool dozen recipes (and they definitely look good).

All in all, I highly recommend this book. I can't speak to the recipes just yet, but the book is thoroughly entertaining and heart-warming.  It gives you plenty to think about and gentle nudges to guide you on the road to satiating your own hungry ghost.  I highly recommend it.

** Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.  The opinions and review given here are my own.  My hungry ghost would not like it if I sold my ethics for a free book. **

30 October 2012

The one where I actually cook something for once

After yesterday's treatise on the wonders (and, dare I say, convenience) of convenience food, I felt like maybe it was time I actually cooked something.  Pawing through my fridge, I came up with a lot of random vegetables; normally, this would translate to stir-fry, but tonight I threw caution to the wind and went for fried rice ;)
* This is totally different from stir-fry. Totally. *
I can hardly say this wasn't convenient, though.  From pulling things out of my fridge to eating dinner was probably only about 45 minutes. Double-plus bonus, I have enough for three or four meals.  So if you look at it on an effort per meal basis, we're really only talking about ~15 minutes of prep.  That math definitely makes sense.

There's no recipe for fried rice, because who am I to tell you how to fry your rice?  Here's how I did it:
  • First, start pressing some tofu. 
  • Start cooking rice. I used brown jasmine here.
  • Prepare all your vegetables. Here, I diced some onions, garlic, peppers, hot chiles, and carrots; halved some brussels sprouts; and scooped out some frozen corn, edamame, and asparagus. Last, but not least - cube your tofu.
  • Heat your wok (or very large pan) over medium heat.  When it's hot, add some oil and let that heat briefly.
  • Quickly fry the tofu cubes.  When they're done, remove them to rest while you cook the rest of the food.
  • Add onions, garlic, hot chiles, and grated ginger to the oil.  Cook for a few minutes.
  • Now throw in the brussels sprouts.  Cook for a few minutes, until they turn bright green. 
  • Add carrots and peppers, and (you guessed it!) cook for a few more minutes.
  • Add in the frozen veggies and fried tofu.  If you're feeling crazy, throw in some cashews or peanuts.  Add a splash of soy sauce and some black pepper, to taste.  Let everything cook through.
  • Finally, stir in the cooked rice and mix everything up! Let it all heat for a few minutes.  
  • Devour and enjoy! 
It's lucky that such tasty food can be so quick and easy.  Zucchini and other summer squashes are also great in fried rice, along with basil or cilantro.  Honestly, most vegetables seem to be good in fried rice.  And that's why we love it.

29 October 2012

Another super easy dinner


For anyone who forgot, I'm not buying new food during Vegan MoFo. I haven't made nearly as much of a dent in my food stores as I hoped to, but I have been slowly clearing some space out.  The benefit of going to the grocery store is that you can buy a nearly-made meal for those days that you just can't be bothered.  One of my motivations for the big kitchen clean-out is to get rid of the convenience foods that tend to be a crutch.  Of course, some days I am just limping along and I need an easy lunch or dinner (or both) -- luckily I still have plenty of convenience foods for when laziness strikes. 
* These are empty containers, but you get the idea *
I bought this Kashmiri Curry sauce at Ross (yes, Ross the discount clothing store) for $4 or $5 a few months ago.  I often go to Ross after my shift with C.A.R.E. (I clean out the cat room at Petsmart and play with all the kitties for about an hour. It is pure bliss.) every other Saturday, pretty much just to kill time.  My modus operandi for these trips is to look for short-size pants, then check out the dresses and skirts, and then I head to the home section.  This always includes a pass through the half-shelf of food items, just to see what's there.  I've purchased vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste at Ross several times - always a steal of deal.  On this particular day, I was looking for nothing in particular.  I almost didn't pick up this sauce, because I assumed it had milk in it based on the color.  But I allowed my hopes to get up; upon turning the jar over - joy of joys! the one word I always hope for on food labels - it proudly proclaimed it's veganacity.  The sauce quickly became mine and then languished in the back of my cabinet.
* I love companies that label foods as "vegan" *
Last Saturday, after returning from another morning of pooper-scoopering, I wanted a simple, quick meal.  Rifling through the conveniences still in my kitchen, I pulled this sauce out and figured it was time to try it.  In the continuing theme of convenience, I kept the curry pretty simple:  potatoes, thai chilies, and a can of braised gluten (which has been in my possession for no one knows how long).  One word of advice - rinse these things well before you use them.  They are a little too oily straight out of the can, but you can just run them under warm water and rinse most of that off.
* I highly recommend rinsing thoroughly *
My lunch (both that day and the next) was this tasty curry over brown basmati rice.  Although it may be difficult to tell because most of my posts involve some convenience product, I do really enjoy cooking.  But for days when I just don't have the energy or the wherewithal, I definitely appreciate being able to pull a few things out of my pantry to put together a decent meal with little headache or commitment.
* This dinner was born from sheer laziness,
but out of laziness deliciousness can be born! *

28 October 2012

October Vegan Food Swap

For the final vegan food swap of 2012, I received a box from Aimee at Big Spoon Kitchen Adventures.   The box contained a lot of delicious treasures: blue corn chips (my favorite color of tortilla chips!), cinnamon and current flackers, bee free honee, Newman's Own green tea, some coupons, and - the greatest items (and quickest gone) - homemade cookies and brownies. 
* Try to not be jealous. This was all delicious *

It's a little difficult to tell, but I got two types of cookies: peanut butter and pumpkin pie.  And a bag full of yummy brownies.  Aimee wrote in her note that she'll post the recipes for these goodies soon - I'm watching for them (and you should too - the peanut butter cookies were especially delicious).  The box had a few more baked goods than what's in the picture .. they just looked so good, that I couldn't resist trying some out immediately.  I'm only a tiny bit embarrassed to say, the cookies and brownies were all gone in a few days. 

Lilly decided to investigate while I was trying to get a photo of the whole spread. 
 
She was sad to find that no cat toys or treats were included, and she quickly lost interest.
* Luckily, she doesn't know what she's missing *
Thank you so much to Aimee!  This was a great end to the 2012 Vegan Swap season.  Vegan food swap will resume in 2013, so head over to the sign-up page to learn more and get on the list for January!

18 October 2012

Late as usual.


I'm sorry that it took me a few extra days to get this up, but if I wasn't late - you wouldn't know it was me.  I have a house guest this week, and it's taking up a lot more time than I anticipated.  Regardless, I want to announce the winner of Miss Muffcake's Vegan Spa Day zine.  And the big winner is ...

* I'm learning to program in Python .. this took longer than it should have *

Comment #2: Carol Weaver.  Carol said:

 

Carol - please send your mailing info to theradioactivegan (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thanks so much!  If you're interested in this zine and you aren't Carol Weaver, please head over to etsy and pick up a copy - at only $2.50, it's a steal of a deal!