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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Getting dressed: What I am loving right now

The perfect Everlane Ryan tank in grey. Lovely drape, no gape. It's my experience that Everlane sizes run large. I originally ordered the medium, but returned it for the small.



Lululemon Mat-to-Street pant in black. Slouchy but not baggy, lovely light washable fabric, very comfortable.


Cos: Totokaelo aesthetic at Club Monaco prices. I ordered a dress and a shirt - they haven't arrived yet, but if the quality is up to par, this is my new favorite.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reusable canning lids

For so many people, the joy of canning comes from its creative possibilities. Those stained-glass shelves of jams and jellies! Those beautiful pickles! But I don't have a sweet tooth and we tend not to eat pickles.



For me, the greatest pleasure in canning is utterly prosaic. I like to can dried beans. I soak them overnight, put a cup of soaked beans in a pint jar (or a scant two cups in a quart), top them up with boiling water, add an inch or so of kombu (adds minerals, so they say, and helps with any gassiness) and process in the pressure canner. Not creative, not beautiful, and yet I find real satisfaction in reaching for a jar of these cheap, humble staples, canned so effortlessly in their BPA-free glass jars.

Last night, for the first time, I used these reusable canning lids from Tattler, $11.75 a dozen from Amazon.



They're BPA-free, and you can use them over and over again. All my jars sealed perfectly, and although they're not as pretty as traditional lids - and you can't write on them - I'm a convert. They come in two parts - a plastic lid and a thin rubber ring. You still need to add metal canning bands, but those have always been reusable, so that's fine. A little less waste makes me enjoy my plain little jars even more.






Monday, April 9, 2012

World's Most Effortless Recipe: Vegan avocado pesto


Yeah, so it's Monday. You're looking forward to dinner with your friend, but everybody's energy levels are low. That's totally fine. Here's what we're going to do.
  1. Before your friend arrives, blend pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and salt in a blender (30 seconds.)
  2. Pile the contents of a box of basil into the blender. Add a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast if the mood takes you, and season with salt and pepper. Don't blend yet; you just want everything ready to go (10 seconds)
  3. When your friend arrives, pour a glass of wine and put your pasta water on to boil. 
  4. Only when you're good and ready, peel two avocados and put into the blender on top of your basil. (A minute or so, depending on your avocado-slicing skillz.) Cook your pasta and drain it. Put it back in the pot.
  5. Blend (30 seconds).
  6. Toss your pasta with an appropriate amount of pesto (30 seconds). This recipe makes enough for four or six.
  7. Eat. Gossip optional. Share a bar of chocolate for dessert. We're done here.

Recipe: Vegan avocado pesto (adapted slightly from Chloe Coscarelli's recipe):

Ingredients

  • A bunch or large container of basil (save some leaves for garnish)
  • 0.5 cup pine nuts
  • 2 avocados
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 0.5 cups olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper

Blend together until texture is to your liking. Toss with freshly cooked pasta (linguine is ideal). Yes, pine nuts are expensive. Consider swapping them out for pumpkin seeds or cashews.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fun with cashews: Company-worthy vegan cheesecake

Oh, cashews, fatty sweet nut of my heart, is there anything you can't do? Last week I blogged about a rich vegan Alfredo-style pasta sauce; now, cashews are the star of a vegan cheesecake that's creamy, luscious, and utterly foolproof. The press-in crust is made from ground almonds and Medjool dates, enlivened with a dash of salt. I freaking love this recipe.



I do think you need a high-powered blender for this recipe. Even my Blend-tec took several cycles to remove all traces of graininess from the blended cashews, especially because the filling mixture has relatively little liquid in it.

I did make a few minor tweaks:

  • The original recipe called for X of agave, but cashews taste plenty sweet to me as they are, so I reduced the sugar to a tablespoonful. I also subbed out coconut nectar for agave, because it was what I had.
  • I happened to have some ground flaxseed lying about from making pancakes that morning, so I threw a couple of tablespoonfuls into the crust. They were undetectable in the final product, and it's always a good idea to add flaxseed, am I right?
  • This time I used blueberries instead of raspberries. I intend to make this recipe again, often, using whatever fruit I have to hand, or even an extra dash of vanilla.
  • The recipe calls for the juice of two lemons. My lemons were large (I know, right?) and I was worried that the filling was too acidic - but the freezing seems to smooth out the flavors, and the final product had just the right amount of tang.

Recipe: Raw cashew cheesecake

Adapted from My New Roots raw cashew cheesecake
Vegan and gluten-free

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
  • 1/2 cup soft Medjool dates
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed (optional; add a little more or less, or none at all)

Filling:

  • 1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours, ideally overnight
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil. I used a combination of refined and unrefined, because I didn't have enough of either. I think either one would work in this case.
  • 1 tablespoon coconut nectar
  • 1 cup blueberries or fruit of your choice (thaw completely if using frozen)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, grind nuts, dates, salt, and flaxseed until they're to your liking. I prefer a breadcrumb texture. Test by squeezing a little in your hand. If the ingredients hold, you're good. Press into a springform pan (the original recipe uses a 7-inch pan; I used an 8-inch pan but I think the smaller pan would have been a little better and resulted in an even better proportion of filling to crust. 
  2. Blend together all the filling ingredients, except the fruit, until very, very smooth and creamy. This may take up to five minutes, and you'll probably have to stop and scrape down the sides of the jar, pausing only to lick the spatula and repeat. 
  3. Smooth about 2/3 of the mixture onto the crust.
  4. Add the fruit to the remaining filling and blend on high until very, very smooth. 
  5. Pour on top of the first layer of filling. Smooth out the top, and put the cake in the freezer.
  6. Remove from freezer at least 30 minutes prior to eating. Cut into slices with a sharp knife. Leftovers freeze beautifully.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Two tips for hot, fluffy pancakes

Round here we like our pancakes fluffy, billowy, and hot. Here's two tips to help get them that way:




  • Make your pancakes fluffier by using sparkling water or soda water in your pancake batter. Maybe it's the air in the water, maybe it's the effect of the increased acidity (the result of carbonation) on the baking powder, but fizzy water straight out of the Sodastream really seems to make a difference.
  • Keep your pancakes hot: put a plate over a saucepan of bubbling hot water. Stack the pancakes on the plate and cover with an inverted bowl. (Watch your fingertips; it will get hot.) (This tip came from Chloe Coscarelli's Chloe's Kitchen, which has a lot of straightforward, accessible, and delicious vegan recipes.)
Here's my go-to pancake recipe, from the Post Punk Kitchen. The original recipe includes two tablespoons of sugar added to the dry ingredients, but I leave this out, and it works fine.

In the recipe comments, the Awesome Isa mentions that this recipe is intended to be pillowy and fluffy. Don't add blueberries, bananas, or other stuff, because it will interfere with the structure.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (I am going to try chia seeds next)
1/2 cup sparkling water
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
First, add the vinegar and ground flax seeds to the milk, and vigorously mix until foamy (about a minute).
Pour the milk mixture into the center of the dry ingredients. Add the sparkling water, canola oil and vanilla and use a fork to mix until a thick, lumpy batter forms. That should take about a minute. It doesn’t need to be smooth, just make sure you get all the ingredients incorporated.
Preheat the pan over medium-low heat and let the batter rest for 10 minutes. Preheating the skillet really makes a difference. I use cast iron, of course. Luckily, these babies don't need flipping.
Lightly coat the pan in oil. Add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake, and cook for about 4 minutes, until puffy. Flip the pancakes, adding a new coat of oil to the pan, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Pancake should be about an inch thick, and golden brown.
Rest pancakes on a cooling rack covered with tin foil until ready to serve. To reheat, place pancakes in on a baking sheet covered with tin foil in a  300 F degree oven for 5 minutes or so.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chia seed banana pudding: My new addiction

banana chia seed pudding
Mash a banana really really well. Stir it into a cup of soy milk. Vanilla Silk is nice, and already sweetened, but you could also use regular. If you have a sweet tooth you could add a teeny bit of sugar or agave nectar (or blend in a date) to your regular soymilk, and maybe some vanilla and/or cinnamon. Stir in about a quarter cup of chia seeds. Put the whole cup in the fridge, covered. Come back any time in the next ten hours to find it's thickened to a pudding consistency. Eat with relish for breakfast or dessert, or while watching Bill Cunningham New York on a blustery, cold March Sunday.



Not low-calorie in any way, but a great way to get all the benefit of chia all in one puddingy package. I'll also be trying this with applesauce and with cocoa powder.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nutty Alfredo

I came home in a bad mood this evening, and Phil suggested getting takeout. Poor man, I kind of flipped out: No! No takeout! The very last thing I want is takeout!

I realized that when I'm in a bad mood, eating takeout is guaranteed to make me feel worse. Not because I don't like it, but because when I feel down I want to feel properly fed and looked after, and takeout makes me feel unloved.

Instead, I made this creamy Alfredo pasta sauce, adapted from Chloe Coscarelli's recipe. Bascially, it's sauteed onion and garlic blended with cashews and some miso for that umami hit. It's fast: If you have a Blendtec or Vitamix, the sauce comes together while the pasta cooks (if you don't, you can still make a fast dinner if you had the foresight to soak your cashews before leaving for work). It's smooth and creamy and comforting on a cold day in March when you have the grumps and your partner has the world's worst cold.

I forgot to take a picture. Here's a photo of another nice vegan Alfredo sauce, from Healthy Happy Life.


I varied the recipe a bit. I doubled the garlic - always! - and the miso, and added about a quarter cup of nutritional yeast. Also, I sauteed about a half pound of sliced mushrooms and, after tossing the pasta in the sauce, added some thawed frozen peas and a handful of the oregano and thyme that are still getting by in our Earthboxes.

Nutty pasta Alfredo
Serves 4



  • 1 pound pasta (I used rotini, because it was what we had, but fettuccine would be much better and more slurpable)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews (if you don't have a high-powered blender like a Blend-Tec or Vitamix, soak them for at least a couple of hours beforehand. Or not. If you don't, your sauce will be grainier, but it will still be delicious)
  • 4 teaspoons miso (white or yellow)
  • About a quarter cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs for garnish.
  • (Optional): A half-pound or so of sauteed mushrooms and a cup of peas, or vegetables of your choice. Leeks, I think, would be very nice.


Boil heavily salted water and cook the pasta.

Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, then blend with the water, lemon juice, garlic, cashews, water, miso, salt and pepper, and nutritional yeast. Blend, blend, blend! I ran my Blendtec's Soup cycle twice, then gave it another 30 seconds or so on high.

Drain the pasta, saving a cup of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sauce and vegetables, thinning with pasta water if necessary. Scatter the roughly chopped herbs over the pasta and serve hot.