Posts Tagged Vegan Lunchbox

Care Packages, Laptop Lunches & Works In Progress

We successfully broke all the internets at our house (wireless AND non-), and with no solution in sight I am bringing you this post from my work computer.  So, I’m gonna jam a bunch of stuff in and keep it brief.

Firstly, I have been receiving a lot of love in food-related form lately, and I wanted to share the love with everyone!

I participated in my third PPK care package swap, and this time my partner was from Japan and sent me all manner of awesome Japanese stuff.

some sort of seitan stars (“fu”), a sushi mat, cooking chopsticks made of bamboo, shiratamako and red bean paste for attempting daifuku, and candy from Kyoto

candy closeup

Bento toys!  nori stamp machine that makes faces, onigiri molds, small containers, flag picks, a small monkey bento box int he back, little utensils, soy sauce bottles with animal heads, chopsticks in a case and monkey mayo holders.  I’m definitely going to have to go Japanese in some upcoming lunches.

I felt kinda bad when I got all this awesomeness because I mostly sent my partner Mexican food supplies and junk food.  That’s what we do well here!  Although he said he ate the Tings and Eco Planet Cheddar Crackers in one sitting each, so I think those went over well.

A few weeks ago I got a completely unexpected box in the mail from my mom.   She had read my blog post about having difficulty finding grits out here and sent me a “box of stuff Erin can’t find in CA”.

Satchel’s secret salad dressing, quick grits, yellow grits, a cute Publix tote bag, a cute notecard, and Southern Living.  Yeehaw!  Unfortunately, Satchel’s dressing is NOT vegan (which I only learned after eating it many times and falling in love…it has honey…sorry mom!), but fortunately a friend of mine who also recently moved out here from Gainesville loves it, so I’m going to pay the dressing forward.

This same friend gave me some love too!  Although she sent this over the day after I mentioned the dressing…hmm…Anyway, she’s an amazing gardener and lives in a house that already had some goodness growing in the backyard.  Thanks Hope!

lemons, mint, rosemary, thyme, keffir lime leaves, oregano and parsley

But I don’t just receive, I also give!  Remember back in November when I celebrated my 1,000th comment by promising to send whomever posted it a package of sweets?  Anybody?  No?  Well, Megan from The Sisters Vegan happened to win, and she happens to live in Berkeley, which is where I happen to work.  So we agreed to meet up for dinner one night after work, at which time I could give her her goodies.  She’s been testing for the upcoming cookie cookbook, so she was all cookied out and requested no cookies.  And said that it would be nice to have something she could grab for breakfast on the way out the door to work.  Enter muffins!

Full Meal Muffins from Vegan Lunchbox.  These have zucchini, pomegranate juice (subbed for the apple juice called for), bananas, walnuts and raisins, and I subbed in some quinoa flour for a bit of extra protein.  They’re completely sugar-free, sweetened by the bananas and juice and raisins.  They turned out sweet enough, I suppose, but next time I make them I’ll probably add a bit of sugar or stevia.

Smoky Jalapeno Corn Muffins.  Made from my Buttermilk Cornbread recipe, with added jalapeno, roasted corn from TJ’s (freezer section), and liquid smoke.

These were the real star, to me at least – Butterscotch Scones.  I had a bag of butterscotch chips in the pantry screaming to be used, and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of butterscotch muffins, so I decided on scones.  Even though I’ve only made scones once, and they turned out just okay.  The first time I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, and while it’s entirely possible that I botched up the recipe, I wanted to make more “authentic” scones, using the pastry cutting method that most biscuits call for.  So I looked in the good ol’ Betty Crocker Cookbook where I was sure I would find a scone recipe, and lo and behold, there it was.  Veganized very easily, and these babies turned out beautiful.  I typed out just the general recipe, so obviously you can add whatever extra ingredients you want, like nuts or fruit, but I would highly recommend the butterscotch chips if you have ’em.

Vegan Scones

1 3/4 c flour
3 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c Earth Balance, cold
6-8 Tbs soy creamer
coarse sugar
1/2 c add-ins (butterscotch or chocolate chips, fruit, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the Earth Balance using a pastry cutter until there are no large pieces of margarine and the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 6 Tbs creamer, just until the flour mixture is moistened. If there is still unincorporated flour, add creamer by the tablespoonful, just until mixture comes together. Gently fold in any additional ingredients.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll in the flour to coat. Knead gently 10 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges with a knife dipped in flour, and do not separate wedges. Brush the top with additional soy creamer, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
4. Bake 15-18 minutes, until the scones are turning golden and the tops don’t give in to the touch. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack, using a knife to separate the scones if needed. Serve warm.

Makes 8 scones.

On to the lunches!

4-6  lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, dill pickle cashews (Archer Farms brand), pretzel nuggets, rosemary foccacia, boiled beets, strawberries

4-7 sandwich (multigrain toast, tofurkey, tofutti cheese slice, baby greens, gourmet mustard & red onion jam), broccoli & carrot sticks, goddess dressing, dried apricots, raisins & sour gummies

4-9 garlic crusted grit cakes, succotash, mango-habanero sauce, snapea crisps, lime cucumbers, prunes & dried cherries

4-13 tofusteak sandwich on ezekiel bun with greens & mustard,
bbq crisps, coleslaw, strawberries

4-14 salad stirfry, brown rice, clover sprouts, cucumbers &
sesame seeds, tangerines

4-16 lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, pasta salad, corn muffin,
kiwi & strawberries

4-17 lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, multigrain crackers, apple pieces, carrots with goddess dressing, cookies

And finally, I’m very fond of the W.I.P posts on Musing From The Fishbowl.  It stands for work in progress, and they’re crafty works which are posted on Wednesdays.  Other bloggers have joined in too – one who stands out for having super cute crafty posts is Amanda from Walking The Vegan Line.

I wish I could join in on these posts, but the problem is I’m just not crafty.  I’ll sew or make something every once in a while, but the craft is not in my blood.  However, I have a few food projects that I’m working on, so I thought I’d share them as works in progress.

I first posted a picture of this dish that I’m working on for a cooking contest here, asking if anyone could identify the triangles, and giving the hint that they’re not tofu.

The most popular guess was polenta, and that’s really SO close!  They’re grit cakes.  This is Garlic-Crusted Grit Cakes with Succotash Hash, Mango-Habanero Sauce and Quick Pickles.  BF says it’s too complicated, but the contest rules say that you have to prepare it within two hours, and I can do that, and sometimes complicated is how I roll.  I need at least one more run at this one and the contest deadline is the end of this month, so I need to get moving on it.

Another one I’m working on for a different contest is Creamy Corn Pudding.  My mom makes this for almost every family holiday gathering and it’s so good, but it’s full of butter and milk and eggs, so no corn pudding for me.  No more!

It’s not perfect yet, but it’s darned close.  I also need at least one more go at this one.

I posted a picture of this Swiss Chard Risotto two posts ago, and I thought I would have it perfect this time, but alas I didn’t have any white wine and subbed in with white wine vinegar and it was a little too much.  Luckily, I’m getting chard again in my CSA tomorrow and I think with one more try it will be perfect.

That’s it for now.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again because we’re cheap and refuse to pay to fix our internets.  Until then!

update:  BF fixed the internets, hooray!  He is now a wireless router reconfiguration master.

Comments (21)

Millennium & Greens Two Ways

When my parents were planning their visit to San Francisco, my mom asked me if there were any restaurants I’d like to go to.  I immediately thought of Millennium.  I’ve wanted to eat a meal there ever since I first heard about the restaurant, and our visit confirmed everything great that I’ve heard.

I was shy about taking pictures of our meal and didn’t use flash, so the pictures are almost unidentifiable.  My mom had the excellent idea of asking for a menu though, so I know exactly what was in each dish.

For appetizers we shared the Black Eyed Pea Fritters and the Sesame Crusted Oyster Mushrooms.

The fritters came with aji chile coconut cream and jicama-apple-pomegranate salsa, and I thought they were kind of like a take on falafel and tahini sauce.  The cold, crunchy salsa was great with the soft, hot inside of the fritters.  Our waitress described the mushrooms, which came with lemongrass-grapefruit-chile sambal and watermelon radish relish, as vegan calamari, and I have to say it was an accurate description.  We debated which appetizer each of us liked best, and I think the table was split in half.

I knew which entree I wanted almost right away, the one that seemed the most original:  Seared Nettle Polenta Cake.

I’d heard of nettle tea, but didn’t know for sure that nettles were edible.  Edible they were!  The polenta cake came with sage & Meyer lemon tofu “cheese”, seared rapini, chanternay carrots & artichokes, mushroom & fennel sugo, fried capers and pine nut bread crumbs.  To be perfectly honest, not all of these components were easily identifiable to me, but they came together perfectly.  The tofu “cheese” gave a distinct tang to what was otherwise an earthy dish, and the fried capers and pine nut bread crumbs provided good crunch.

Ah, that’s a better picture.  Mom got the Chimichurri Grilled Portobello Mushroom, which came with sunchoke & root vegetable hash, saffron scented IPA & French lentil brodo, escarole with caramelized onion & roasted apples and smoky orange-almond romesco sauce.  She said she was sold at “portobello”.

Dad ordered the Winter Tamale – a roasted pumpkin, pinto bean & caramelized onion filling, chocolate-almond mole, sauteed winter greens, cabbage & avocado salad and carrot-habanero sauce.

BF got the Black Chanterelle Mushrooms En Papillote, which may not have been a great choice for him since he doesn’t like to touch his food.  As our waitress explained, En Papillote means “in paper”.  Don’t worry, he successfully opened the package with a knife and fork.  This dish included borlotti bean & leek confit with exotic mushrooms, barley risotto, creamy sherried root vegetable ragu and seared winter chicories.  He chose this for the mushrooms and barley, and I think he got more beans than he bargained for.

The picture of dessert is the worst of them all, and I don’t have the exact description, but I can tell you that it was a spiced ginger baby bundt cake that came with ice cream, the flavor of which I don’t recall.  I do recall that it was very, very tasty.

Summary:  Go to Millennium if you get the chance.  It’s just as good as you expect.  I will definitely be going back as often as possible.

Oh, and since mom likes taking pictures of me, here I am at the Saturday morning Ferry Building Farmers’ Market holding a daikon radish sample for mom, since she had never seen them before.

My CSA has not been stingy with the greens lately, so I’ve been trying to find different ways to prepare them.  Here’s the CSA delivery:

leeks, fennel, bok choy, chard, kale & collards

carrots, red onions, navel oranges and two kinds of pear

The CSA newsletter came with a recipe for Creamed Greens that looked really good, and so I tried veganizing it with the chard.  It didn’t turn out exactly as “creamed” as I expected, but it did taste really, really good, so I’m renaming it.

This is even better than it looks, I promise.

Creamy Greens

2 Tbs Earth Balance
1 large onion, diced
1 large bunch chard or kale, washed and cut into 1/2-inch wide ribbons, stems chopped
1/2 cup non-dairy creamer or milk
1/2 cup vegan parmesan (I used the sesame parmesan from Uncheese Cookbook)
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and chopped stems, and saute on medium heat until translucent. Add greens to skillet and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until greens are wilted. Turn heat to lowest setting and add creamer or milk. Stir for two to three minutes, the sauce will thickenn slightly. Add vegan parmesan, and continue to cook until sauce is thickened to your liking. Add salt & pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 4.

In addition to cooking greens, I’ve been learning to enjoy them raw.  I knew I liked raw kale salad, but had my doubts about the heartier collard green.  I wilted the greens using the same method as kale and dressed ’em as simply as possible, and this was very tasty.  I wouldn’t want to eat raw collards every day or anything, but when you’ve got greens coming out of your ears this is a nice alternative.

Also pictured is a roasted veggie tofu quiche that tasted amazing but didn’t hold together exactly well, so I’ll be making it again soon then posting the recipe.

Raw Collard & Carrot Ribbons

1 bunch collards, washed and cut across into thin strips
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
2 medium carrots, julienned
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp agave nectar

In a large bowl, combine collard, olive oil and salt. Massage with your hands until the collard turn a bright green and seem a bit wilted. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Serves 4.

Random baking:  I had a large portion of butternut squash just sitting on the counter, so I cooked it, pureed it, and subbed it for pumpkin in the Pumpkin & Carob Chip Muffins from Vegan Lunchbox.

There must’ve been something off about my batter, because the tops puffed up kind of funny.  They got crispy though, which is nice, and the muffins tasted great.

At one point I had large amounts of leeks piling up in the fridge, so I finally made the White Bean & Leek Cassoulet from Veganomicon.  I’ve been wanting to try this recipe ever since I got the book over a year ago.

I was expecting this to be really amazing based on other internet reviews, and while it was quite comforting and tasty, it left a little to be desired.  Maybe my hopes were too high.  I think maybe I used too many potatoes or cut them too large, because I felt like the starch of the potatoes overshadowed the biscuits.  Also, I didn’t put enough salt in the gravy, and I don’t think the biscuit recipe called for enough salt either.  The gravy was nice, but the overall flavor of the dish was a little “flat”, if that makes sense, so I think when I make it again (and I will), I’ll add some mustard or lemon juice, or something else that will give it some zing.

Next up:  My first experiences with fennel, including the quiche pictured above.

Comments (16)

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and Day.  Mine was excellent  (were excellent?).  I first set out to attend “Peewee’s Veg Adventure”, a Peewee Herman themed potluck that was the brainchild of the Bay Area PPKers.  We planned the menu in advance, and every dish had a Peewee related name.  Awesome!

My contributions were “Footlongs for Mickey”…

(recipe from Vegan Lunchbox)

…and “Simone’s French Toast Bites”.

(VWAV Fronch Toast)

“Snack Time Popcorn”

“Peewee’s Peepshow Hashbrowns” (gross!)

“King of Stuffed Mushrooms” and “Jambi-laya”

“Fire in the Playhouse Bread with Cheesy White Bean Dip”

The cheesy white bean dip was kind of amazing.  I’m told the recipe is in Eat, Drink & Be Vegan.

“Connect the Dots Quinoa” and Cowvin Cookies from Sticky Fingers Bakery in the back.  Melisser won the cookies in some contest I think.

“Dinosaur Family Kale” and “Cowboy Curtis’ Cookie Sandwiches”

“Bowtie Pasta Salad” and “Pterri’s BBQ Not Wings”

“Globey’s International Speculoos Brownies” and “Ant Farm on a Log”

“Chairy Pie”

My plate – I didn’t get an individual picture of the “Copper Penny Salad”, and I forgot to get some of the bowtie pasta the first time through.  I definitely went back for seconds though.

Dessert plate

To finish up, a “Whacky Tapi-oca Pudding Shooter”.

I unfortunately had to leave the party before midnight to come back to my house and co-host.  There are more pictures from the Peewee party in this thread.

I definitely wanted a hearty brunch when I finally woke up on New Year’s Day, so I made tofu scramble with onions, peppers and mushrooms.  I made toast from the ends of the loaf I used to make the french toast bites, and topped it with leftover strawberry sauce.

For the past couple years I’ve wanted to eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, but until now I hadn’t made it happen.  According to Wikipedia, “Black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day in the Southern United States and in some other parts of the U.S…The traditional meal also features collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money.”  This time I was determined to have my black eyed peas!

The black eyed peas were sauteed with peppers, onions and garlic.  I cooked the brown rice in my rice cooker with tomatoes and cajun seasoning, and brightened it up with a splash of lemon juice at the end.  For the collards I used the Sauteed Collard Greens recipe from VCON.  This is basically how I like to cook my greens, but following the recipe I think they came out a bit tastier.  Especially because of the four cloves of garlic.  Instead of the stock I used water mixed with chicken broth seasoning, worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2009!

Comments (13)