Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Touring Peru

Finally made it to Peru ^... flight delays, running the entire Miami airport and getting zero sleep on the plane.. I was ready to get to the hotel and get some sleep... unfortunaely I spent the next 24 hours trying to track down my bags... they spend and extra night in Miami and then made to me with about 30 minutes to spare before I was on the road again. Despite this, I did get to see a little bit of the city with the 24 hours I had to wait.

I found the ocean and got to walk a bit on the beach.. also found a cool place called love park in Miraflores which seemed to be the hotspot for wedding photos. Was really strange, most of the brides were very pregnant and young. Looked like a lot of shot gun weddings going on in Lima.

The hostel I was at was good, but also like going back in time. All the decor was from the 1950s including an old radio and rotary phones.

Next I took off to find Playa mayor and ended up on a tour with a bunch of americans. In the square we went to the Church and Monastery on San Francisco. Such a cool place, very catholic. In the basement they have catacombs and when people died they just piled them on top of each other. The bones protect the church from seismic activity. Interesting way to earthquake proof a building.

In terms of food in Peru, it is very, very, difficult to find vegetarian, let alone vegan. I managed to find salad that was pretty good, though I am pretty sure it had cheese in it. The farther into the highlands I am going the harder it is to find things, but it isnt that bad. Every tastes really good and I found veggie sandwhiches.

I think the best part of Lima is the dancing. Everywhere you go, they are looking for a reason to dance. As soon as the music starts the danicing begins. Pretty sweet.

Nasca is next... Looking forward to flying over the lines and getting to wander in the desert.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Formula for an Easy Wholesome Meal

They days are counting down fast until I leave again. This time, I am gone for three weeks. I am trying my best to just use what I have and save my money for traveling. So tonight for dinner, I decided to make a rice dish. Something that not just vegans, but I think all people should know is the formula to an easy, one-pot meal. Since I am vegan, mine is based around the grain.

The formula is very simple, take a grain that you have on hand (rice, barley, couscous, quinoa, etc). Then pair it with a protein (Beans, lentils, seeds, etc), add in a few herbs and spices (cumin and corriander is one I go to a lot, but you could do basil, italian seasoning and pretty much anything you are feeling). Here is the basic formula:

Easy Dinner = 1 cup cooked grain + one can/cup of beans + 1 can of tomatoes + 1 cup cooked greens + 1-2 tbsp herbs

This obviously is the basic recipe, so go ahead and play with it. You really can't screw it up. I normal try to use fresh veggies when I can, but I didn't have any, so I used frozen spinach and it made this recipe wholesome and tasty.

Here is my actual recipe of what I made:

Dirty Vegan Rice
Served 4 ish, takes about 45 mins if cooking rice from scratch, 10 minutes if you have cooked rice
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can of dice tomoatoes, not drained
  • 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • salt and pepper
  • Green onion, chopped
Add the rice and water to a big pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 35 minutes. While its cooking drain the chickpeas and the spinach. When the rice is ready add the remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.
Start with a pot of rice, or some other grain. Start adding the beans and tomatoes
Add your greens and spices..
Stir and heat through and Serve! Or eat it out of the pot, why waste a dish..

Serve with green onions and toasted seeds as a garnish.
Add some green onion and sunflower seeds as a garnish.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ginger Molasses Baked Tofu

Saturday night. I have grounded myself in order to get ready for my next trip. Luckily there are plenty of bad movies on TV and I have even more bad movies PVR'd. I didn't have much on hand to cook with, but I knew whatever I made I needed to incorporate a couple things: 1. roasted potatoes. I bought some from the Farmer's Market and I have been waiting all day to roast them up! 2. Tofu. I have had some in my fridge for too long and it is time something is done with it. 3. Sweet and Spicy. I just love that combo and I have a pumpkin spice cupcake for dessert that would go well with a sweet n' spicy dinner.

As usual, the next steps were to forage in the kitchen for a way to pull this together. I decided to make a basic marinade with ginger and molasses.

Molasses, specifically blackstrap molasses is about as healthy has sugar is going to get. It is full of minerals and is a great source for iron... like 15-20% of your daily requirement is in one serving. Not bad. Next time someone asks you how you make sure you get enough iron without tearing into animals for dinner, you can tell them that. Then you can google it when they don't believe you. It is also a  good source of calcium (10% of your daily requirement is in two tsp of molasses).

So yeah, healthy sugar! I still is a sweetener, so a little goes a long way, but it is so much better than white granulated sugar. Also a great choice to thicken and sweeten up a marinade.

Ginger Molasses Baked Tofu
*Serves two
  • 1 block of tofu, cut into quarters or whatever shape you want.
  • 1/4 cup of blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 soy sauce
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • salt and pepper

First press your tofu and place it in a shallow dish. Mix the marinade ingredients together and then pour on top. Let it sit covered for at least and hour. Longer is better. Once the marinade is ready, preheat your over to 350 F. Get a cookie sheet and cover it with Foil. Add the tofu slices and if you are doing potatoes as a side, you can put those beside the tofu. Bake for about 30-40 minutes turning half way.
Save a little space for your veggies

I served this with kale which I added to the same cookie sheet about 12 minutes before everything was ready. This way I had nothing on the stove and with the foil, minimal dishes to clean up afterwards. It is a very practical way to cook!
The aftermath of an edible arrangement I got became the side dish of my dinner
Was told only a vegan would take garnish and eat it.. I'm ok with that. 
One dinner, one pan, no scrubbing. Love it.
The result - fast and easy dinner.

For dessert, I had my last cupcake that I got at the farmers market from vegout bakery. I bought a lemon and pumpkin spice cupcake. They were both amazing. They taste so homemade yet so perfect. It is really hard to describe it in words. I will be back for a birthday cupcake next week! If you are in Edmonton, go check them out sometime at the downtown farmers market.

Dessert from Vegout Bakery. So good, Edmontonians, Veggie or not, I recommend!
Now, the following day I decided to try this same recipe except for fried. It was even better than baked! Simply heat some oil in a pan and then bread the tofu in cornmeal. Cook about 7-8 minutes a side.

Same recipe, but fried. Seriously good.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things Momentarily Returning to Normal

Back home. I figured the first thing I would want to do is run out and make a big home made vegan meal. Instead, all I wanted to do is lie on my couch and take a day off. Not wanting to eat junk food for another week... I lucked out and my sister cooked me dinner for World Vegan Day! and yes, I am late posting... the excuse de jour? I left my computer's power cord on my last trip.

Tofu... yum... My favourite way to cut them up. For dinner we had them quartered and it also worked really well
Laura, my sister and vegan flirt decided to make a vegan feast which is generally dinner at her place when I come over. She and her family have really gotten into a lot of the vegan recipes that I have tried over the past couple years. She made an awesome dinner that was so simple and so satisfying, it is something I never seem to get when I am on the road.

First she made ginger marinaded baked tofu from the Kind Diet. When I make something like this I am always trying to find something to give it a kung pow, but she paired it with a nice simple brown rice with roasted sunflower seeds and green onion (I also threw some of the leftover marinade on it. Highly recommend). Then some steamed veggies on the side with a little bit of lemon on them. The recipe isn't posted online, but she has lots of others available: http://www.thekindlife.com/

I was so hungry when I got there, I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product and then ate two full servings.
One thing that Laura asked me to bring when I came over was dessert. I forgot. Those that know me know that this is pretty much a constant in my life. I forget everything, but dessert? Inexcusable! To make up for the potentially world vegan day disaster I actually went back to a recipe for a cookie I made once a long time ago (Original recipe is here).

I modified this recipe a bit. First thing I did was I did not dry the apple sauce. I just used a scant 1/4 cup instead of a full one. Next? I forgot to put the maple syrup in. Then after the cooked were ready to bakes, I stirred it in. Lastly, I didn't bother with raisins. I was in a hurry and plumping raisins takes five minutes. Chocolate cookies and chopped pecans are instant gratification.

The result of these changes? Amazing! It kind of tasted like oatmeal, but intensely sweet and a hint of salt. Even my mother who brought in pepperoni pizza in case she didn't like tofu liked them. It is so satisfying when I can make something vegan and people who hate 'vegan' food love it. She even admitted the tofu was pretty good and it was just the texture of it that she wasn't into. I consider that a win in itself.

It kind of drives me crazy when people say they don't like vegan food. Mostly because people eat 'vegan food' all the time and the things that they haven't tried yet? Just drip the vegan from the name and people seem to be much better with it. Something about that word gets some non-vegans on edge. I don't know if I will ever understand that.. maybe for another post.
A picture I found of my favourite vegan in training! 
Meet Gizmo. He is one of my pigs and a fellow vegan.
Part of the reason I have not be posting much is that he is  sick, but now happy to report he is on the mend

Happy belated world vegan day. I am getting the energy together to make some tasty meals this weekend and include lots of pictures.

A vegan in her element... blogging and cooking.