Monthly Archives: November 2012

Favorite “Chicken” Gravy

As promised, here is my favorite recipe for “chicken” gravy.  I adapted it from my Mom’s gravy recipe with the following modifications:

  • eliminated the meat (obviously)
  • reduced the fat
  • made the gravy thicker — I happen to think my Mom’s gravy is the perfect consistency, but my husband has an affinity for thick Southern style sausage gravy and thinks every gravy should be that same consistency.  For a gravy with a more traditional consistency, reduce the flour and nutritional yeast to 1/4 c. each.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c. all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c. nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 c. water
  • bouillon cubes or paste to equal 1 c. prepared stock (usually this is half a cube or 1 tsp. paste) — “chicken” flavored bouillon makes this even more chickeny
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • black pepper to taste

Directions

In a measuring cup, combine the 2 cups of water with the bouillon.

In a saucepan, combine the flour and nutritional yeast and toast them for a few minutes over medium low heat.  Add the margarine and stir until well combined with the flour and yeast.  (Note that this won’t result in a roux.  The flour to fat ratio is too high for that, so you will still have dry flour in your pan).

Stirring constantly in a figure eight motion, add the water/bouillon mixture a splash at a time.  The water must be fully absorbed and the mixture lump free before you add more water.  (Because there is dry flour in the pan, this method is key.  Adding the water too quickly will result in a lumpy gravy).

Once all the water is added, raise the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a simmer while continuing to stir constantly.  Add the onion powder and black pepper to taste.  Simmer a few minutes more and then serve or keep warm over low heat stirring occasionally.

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Thanksgiving Feast – The Photos

This year, I was thankful for my little guy and even more thankful that he took a perfectly timed nap so that Veggie Husband and I could enjoy the meal I spent all morning preparing.

For an appetizer, I made the No Tell Ro*Tel Dip from Cookin’ Crunk.  (According to the can of Ro*Tel, Ro*Tel dip  involves Velvetta and Ro*Tel, which is a brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles). The recipe notes in Cookin’ Crunk say that the recipe is sure to fool omnivores at the next church potluck.  I’m not from the South and have never tried “real” Ro*Tel dip, so I can’t tell you whether that’s true.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the dip on tortilla chips and carrot and celery sticks and would gladly make it again.

No Tell Ro*Tel Dip from Cookin’ Crunk

The main event was a seitan roast with lots of sides.  Here’s the full spread:

The centerpiece of the meal was a Vegan Turkey Roast from the Everyday Dish website.  I first made this roast several years ago, and it’s one of my absolute favorite seitan recipes.  The method of boiling in cheesecloth and then baking yields a moist roast that is not the least bit spongy.  When I asked Veggie Husband what he wanted for Thanksgiving, this roast was his only request.  The recipe is available online and well worth checking out.

Everyday Dish Vegan Turkey

Of all the sides I made, my favorite was It’s Thyme for Creamy Scalloped Potatoes from Chloe’s Kitchen.  The recipe uses a cashew based cream sauce that baked up creamy and delicious.  I had to cook mine 15 minutes longer than indicated in the recipe.

Chloe’s Kitchen Scalloped Potatoes

I also made the Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Chloe’s Kitchen.  These sprouts were good, but I think I prefer a savory sprout.

Chloe’s Kitchen Sprouts

I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without stuffing.  (Growing up, my cousin and I had a special holiday tradition of feeding my uncle’s sausage stuffing to the dog.  Although many of my family members raved about that stuffing, I much preferred Stove Top.)  When I found cooked chesnuts at Trader Joes, I decided stuffing would be the perfect way to try this new-to-me food.  I prepared a vegetarian version of this Martha Stewart recipe that I found online.  I halved the recipe, reduced the butter to 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance and replaced the chicken stock with 3 cups prepared Better Than Boullion “chicken” broth.  Although I enjoyed the stuffing, I was indifferent to the chestnuts and probably wouldn’t buy them again.

Chestnut Stuffing

Here’s my plate, which is piled high with all of the above plus cranberry sauce, yams, a biscuit and my own recipe for “chicken” gravy.  (Check back for a future post with the gravy recipe).

Sadly, the Cranberry Custard Pie I made from Vegan Desserts was not photogenic enough to warrant a picture.  Although the pie tasted great, I had a problem getting the cream topping to set properly.  (I think the issue was the tub of shortening that I used.  It was difficult to scoop out the correct amount and I think that the shortening melted as I scraped away at it, resulting in a liquidy cream).

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from sunny Southern California.

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to travel home to the East Coast this Thanksgiving, so the baby is missing out on my family’s traditional holiday feast.  While most veg*ns who attend their family’s Thanksgiving gatherings have just a few side dishes to enjoy, my aunt and uncle whip up a 7 course feast every year that includes plenty of meatless offerings.  (The seven courses are appetizers, soup, salad, pasta, fish, turkey and dessert).  While I can’t possibly put together such a spread, I do have a tasty meal planned.  Our menu includes:

  • No Tell Ro*Tel Dip from Cookin Crunk
  • Vegan Turkey Roast from Everyday Dish (Check out the recipe; you won’t be sorry)
  • Yams
  • Scalloped Potatoes from Chloe’s Kitchen
  • Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Chloe’s Kitchen
  • Biscuits from Vegan Diner
  • Chestnut Stuffing
  • Cranberry Pie from Vegan Desserts

Please check back for pictures of our Thanksgiving feast and recipe reviews, which I will post after our meal has been served and devoured.

 

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Cookbook Obsession: Review of Cookin’ Crunk

Now that baby is a month old, I’ve come up with a system that allows me to actually cook dinner.  (I start dinner during his afternoon nap and we reheat it at dinner time.  I’m not sure what will happen when I go back to work, but it will probably involve a lot more pizza and Chipotle).  As a result, I’ve been able to try some recipes from my newest cookbooks.  Today, I’ll be reviewing Cookin’ Crunk by Bianca Phillips of the Vegan Crunk blog.  Later this month, I’ll have a review of Terry Hope Romero’s newest book, Vegan Eats World.

Cookin’ Crunk focuses on veganized versions of Southern recipes — many with healthy twists (lots of whole grains and veggies here).  My cookbook collection already includes several Southern cookbooks, but Cookin’ Crunk has enough unique recipes to allow me to justify the purchase.  Some of the recipes that caught my eye are Chocolate Gravy, Eggplant and Creole Sausage Jambalaya, Mess O Greens with Turnips and Tofu Fish Fry.  I’m also happy with the layout, which features one recipe per page — perfect for my cookbook stand — and a number of color photos.

So far, I’ve had good results with the recipes I’ve tried.  I started with the Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Stix (page 91), which I served with “honey” mustard (made with agave) and a store-bought barbecue sauce.  I wouldn’t call this recipe a miss, but it was my least favorite of the bunch.  I followed my gut and halved the breading recipe, but I still had about twice as much breading as I needed to coat my tofu.  The finished stix were nicely breaded and crispy, but they were a little lacking in the flavor department.

Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Stix

Next, I made the Dijon Pecan Seitan (page 100).  Seitan chicken is coated in a pecan breading, baked and then covered in a maple dijon sauce.  I tweaked this recipe a little by cutting down on the margarine in the sauce, which I don’t think negatively impacted the recipe.  The seitan came out crispy on the outside, moist in the middle and the maple mustard sauce was a fun twist on a honey mustard.  Here, the seitan is served with lemony roasted potatoes and roasted carrots and parsnips.

Dijon Pecan Seitan

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, so I couldn’t resist trying out the Cauliflower Creole (page 80).  As it cooked, the Creole smelled very thyme-y, but the flavors of the finished dish were just right.  The sauce tasted like the shrimp creole that my Dad used to make when I was growing up.  I served the cauliflower with a simple beans and rice (saute diced onion, green pepper and garlic, add 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of “chicken” stock and a can of kidney beans) and biscuits.

Cauliflower Creole, rice and beans and Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

The biscuit recipe is also from Cookin’ Crunk (Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits, page 136).  As you can see, the biscuits rose nicely and they were light and fluffy even with the use of whole grain flour.

Biscuits!

There are still a number of recipes from Cookin’ Crunk that I’m excited to try, so you can expect more recipe reviews in a future post.

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Introducing Baby to the Pets

Shelby supervises tummy time on baby’s second day home

One of my big concerns with bringing home the baby was how our dog and cat would react.  I was pretty sure the cat knew I was pregnant (he loved to sleep next to my belly) and pretty sure the dog did not (she stepped on my belly with impunity).  Whether either of them would be happy to have an actual baby in the house was a big question mark.

Following the advice I found in baby books and online, my plan for introducing the baby to the dog and cat was as follows:

  • Buy treats and new toys for the pets to be given out when the baby came home.
  • Bring pet blanket to the hospital.  Get baby’s scent on it.  Bring blanket home to the pets one day in advance of baby.
  • Have the dog on leash for the first meeting to prevent jumping.

I’m happy to report that having the baby meet his siblings turned out to be completely painless.  I may be imagining it, but I’m pretty sure that both pets were expecting the baby (maybe due to the scent on the blanket).  With our supervision, both pets were allowed to sniff the baby.  The cat seemed indifferent to the baby, but fairly pleased with his new toys.  The dog was thrilled to meet the baby.  She ignored the toys and treats we bought her and instead stuck to the baby like glue for the first few days he was home.

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