October 29, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Everyone has their favorite vegan meatloaf. I’ve made several and been fond of most of them for one reason or another, but nothing super wowed me. I didn’t have that one recipe I wanted to make over and over again. Then Simon made the Zucchanoes out of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. (The book is vegetarian; we omitted the cheese.) The dish is a stuffed zucchini boat, and it was amazing. I thought, back at the beginning of the summer when he made this, that I should file it away to turn into a meatloaf. Now that the weather’s cooled down, that’s exactly what I did. I took one of my other standby loaf recipes, from Happy Herbivore, and applied it to the Zucchanoe filling (sans actual zucchini because seasons!) This was the wonderful result. Flavorful, held-together, meatloaf-textured deliciousness, this was heartily endorsed by Simon AND three kiddos. This seems involved but it’s not, and if you make the rice and/or lentils ahead of time, it comes together in no time.
PS – what do you like to refer to your mock meatloaf as? Lentil Loaf? Hippie Loaf? Neatloaf? I’ve seen all of them, but none resonate. It’s not a meatloaf, but the other names are somewhat silly. I suppose Lentil Loaf is at least apt!
Jess’s Mock Meatloaf
1 cup lentils
1 cup almond meal
1lb. mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 cup dry brown rice (If you use instant, I won’t tell)
1/2 large onion
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon white pepper (if you can’t find it use black but it imparts a slightly warmer tone)
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1. Put your rice on to cook according to package directions, and your lentils as well.
2. While they’re cooking, pulse the mushrooms in your blender or food processor and scrape into a mixing bowl. Mince (or process) your onion and add to bowl, add the almond meal and seasonings except the liquid smoke).
3. Preaheat oven to 375*. When rice and lentils are done, in batches, pulse or blend lightly to make a slightly chunky paste and scrape into bowl as well. Fold everything together, then add the liquid smoke and fold again.
4. Press into a greased loaf pan and bake uncovered for fifteen minutes. Lower the temperature to 350* and bake an additional 30-45 minutes, until slightly dry. (You may need to cover with foil to prevent overbrowning.)
Alternatively, you can make this is muffin cups – my favorite part is the browned edges and this ensures more browning and portion control. Bake at 375* for ten minutes and then 350* for another twenty and check on them.
October 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I had the idea to make this after Simon made the Roasted Poblano Salsa from Rick Bayless’s Salsas That Cook and I fell in love with it, hard. I wanted it as an entree. Now, I recognize that poblanos can be very hot, so feel free to substitute an equal number of mild green chiles or half the number of large bell peppers (any color). If you’ve never tried whole grain millet, it’s wonderful! It’s somewhat pebbly and reminiscent of a larger grained polenta, with a milder corn flavor. It clumps well and if you use an extra cup of water and cook it down, it gets creamy and cools to be sliceable. Try it! I love it as an alternative to quinoa (with less protein) since I can’t eat it.
Tomato and Millet Stuffed Poblanos
8 poblano peppers
1 cup millet
2 beefsteak tomatoes or similar large, wet variety, diced
3 scallions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 onion, minced
2 large handfuls (approx 2 cups) kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme (1 Tablespoon fresh)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Cut tops off poblanos and carefully remove seeds. You should wear gloves for this part. Then broil poblanos until blackened, about 8 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with Saran wrap or a plate to steam while you make the filling.
2. Place millet in a saucepan over medium heat and toast lightly, stirring frequently, about three minutes until fragrant. Add one cup of water and bring to a boil. Add a drop of olive oil to keep it from clumping about and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 15 minutes (stir once to make sure it’s not sticking). Turn the heat off and let sit covered another 10 minutes to finish absorbing the liquid while you make everything else.
3. In a large skillet, lightly saute in water the onion and garlic until soft, about five minutes, Add the remaining ingredients except millet and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, about fifteen minutes, until everything is cooked through.
4. Stir the millet into the vegetable mixture and adjust seasonings.
5. Remove the peppers from the bowl and carefully peel off the skins. If the peppers split, it’s okay, serve them “open-face!” Carefully stuff about a cup of filling into each pepper. Serve with a cheezy sauce to cut heat or a creamy vegan ranch!
October 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
A long time ago I posted a Butternut Squash macaroni and cheese recipe from Cooking Light, I think, that we absolutely adored. It was incredible. It wasn’t vegan. Thankfully, it was super easy to veganize, and now it’s one of my very favorite comfort foods. It’s also incredibly easy, as all you do is boil some squash and blend it with flavors. If you buy prepeeled and cubed squash, this can be on the table in under an hour.
To be honest, though, I prefer stopping before turning it into a casserole. It’s the velvetiest soup you’ve ever had, and I can’t get enough of the rich flavor!
Butternut Squash Mac-N-Cheez
Makes a huge 9×13 pan.
1 butternut squash, medium, peeled and cubed
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups nondairy milk
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 lb. macaroni
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 9″ x 13″ casserole. Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Drain pasta and add sauce, stir. It will seem like too much sauce. (It might be, I like it super saucy! Use less according to your preference.) Taste and adjust seasonings, then spread into pan and top with breadcrumbs, then give a light mist to facilitate browning and bake for 15-25 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. (Feel free to lightly cook the breadcrumbs with vegan butter and some additional seasonings, but I like it for texture.)
October 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Two friends of mine on Facebook recently shared an article, “It Gets Better, Unless You’re Fat.” It’s as you would expect: the author says his struggle with being overweight has been worse than his struggle as a gay man, and that the gay community itself does not embrace overweight members, which is a problem. I clicked to read it because I’m interested in equal rights and compassion, and I read it with a nagging, nagging feeling. I have never been fat. I have a history of disordered eating (which is well in remission) and thought for a solid portion of my life that I was fat, but it has never been true. I have never had to deal with the cruelty society feels it is justified in heaping upon overweight people. In fact, just the opposite. When I was lost in body dysmorphia with patterns of both anorexia and bulimia (not an excuse), I was terrified of fat people. I would never have ridiculed anyone, but they made me uncomfortable. I confess this because I like to think I am a liberal, compassionate person now and I would be lying if I tried to pretend I’ve always gotten it right. I didn’t. I failed miserably and let my own shame and fear rule how I responded to other people. I was very, very wrong.
I also confess it because the article drives the point home: this is on us. And it’s never too late to change. The writer talks about the “It Gets Better” campaign and how it is only true for a certain narrow slice of the gay community. While I like the campaign in general, and the title is catchy, it’s incomplete. It’s passive, as though circumstances will align and you will be happier. Bullshit. It gets better when people do better. We can all recognize our biases and actively confront them. Someone who is a vocal proponent of gay rights can still be sizeist. Feminists can still be racist. Things don’t change because we want them to or because we recognize they should. They change when we change them.
The problem with labels, incidentally, be they positive or negative, is they set up community identities. This naturally forces a sense of inclusion – and exclusion. Sadly, many people in In Groups don’t look beyond their group. This is basic social theory, by the way. It’s not always on purpose. But I would argue if you want to be someone who stands for anything, you must stand for everything. While we each have only so much time, resources, and interest, you cannot be an authentic crusader for civil rights in one area while contributing to harm and oppression in another. Don’t tell someone it gets better: make it better. Show compassion. Don’t treat that person as gay, straight, white, black, male, female, young, old, fat, scrawny. Treat them like the person they are. Find out what they like beyond whatever commonality has brought them into your life. Seek more points of connection. Educate yourself. Never stop challenging your ingrained ideas and judgments. Admit when you are wrong and correct your behavior.
If you are
October 8, 2013 § 2 Comments
Lest my last post make you think I was down on publishing, it was just a bit of business I needed to get out of the way. On to some fun new developments.
I didn’t used to “like” romance. Growing up I was first in line for a princess movie, but somewhere I got cynical. Then I got downright angry. As a married Christian woman, I couldn’t read smut. It got me, ahem, excited, and that was bad, and worse, it left me feeling hollow. Romance like that didn’t exist! I hated reading about it; it made it harder to face reality.
Except my story didn’t end there. I got divorced. I realized I was an atheist. I found Simon, who is way more exciting, ahem, than any novel. And I could close a book feeling happy and invigorated and grateful that real life COULD be like that. I started reading romance again and dropped the cynicism.
Which has led me down a new path I’m so excited, ahem, about. I was recently hired by Samhain Publishing to be a content editor! As a writer, I’ve always been fascinated by every part of the process from idea to actual book, from title and blurb brainstorming and querying to cover and design selection to marketing efforts – the whole thing interested me. As a content editor, I’ll get to shepherd a book the whole way, contributing to the discussion of all those parts, not just the editing. I get to spend my days reading awesome happy books and helping them get to readers. To help make other people’s dreams come true too. To straight-faced discuss naughty things without worrying someone’s going to smite me. I’m positively giddy!
October 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
You probably thought I’d forgotten I write novels. Not so! Just, there wasn’t anything to tell you about it. And now there is. It’s not the release date you were hoping for. In fact, it’s the opposite. You may have noticed that it’s been a long time since I announced Dial Books for Young Readers had bought AFTER YOU. My editor, Kate, and I were working diligently on it, but things kept getting in the way personally and the book kept being delayed and delayed. Somewhere along there, we lost sight of what, exactly, we were doing with the book at all. So to relieve the burnt out feelings on both sides, we have agreed to part ways.
That said, I do not know what will happen to AFTER YOU, but I will keep you updated!
October 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
This may have made my Fall. It’s perfect. Creamy pumpkin sauce, soft noodles, warm spices. It’s love in a bowl.
I honestly do not remember where I heard “pumpkin kugel” but I was immediately enamored of the idea. I love pasta but don’t eat it very much because I’m too busy eating actual vegetables, but mac n cheese and its sweet counterpart kugel will always have a place in my heart. I added it to my To Make List (you don’t have one of these? The one in my notebook, not counting Internet bookmarks, is about 24 recipes long, most of them ones I want to develop myself). Then came the Egg Noodle Hunt of 2013. I googled. Everywhere told me that many generic egg noodle brands were accidentally vegan. Great, I thought, I can make this this weekend! We popped in our best grocery store and … all had egg and/or whey. We tried some others. We even tried Wal-Mart. I didn’t feel like buying noodles off the Internet when I wanted my kugel now when a lightbulb went on. The thing about egg noodles is they are softer and more squishy than plain old spaghetti. Well, from my experience with gluten-free pastas, they are soft and squishy and the taste is just as neutral. And if I used GF noodles, this dish was not only GF but also didn’t require any special ingredients, like eggless egg noodles. (I assume these are not truly a special ingredient, but I live next to a major city. Our groceries are as well stocked as they get, and I have access to a ton of specialty stores. If I absolutely have to go to a specialty store [or the Internet] I don’t consider it user-friendly.) One more note regarding the GF noodles, if you do not regularly cook with them but will be using them as a vegan alternative to the traditional egg noodles: GF is more filling than regular pasta. You will look at this casserole and think there is no way you’re serving 10 to 12 people with it. Trust me, you can. If you’re having it for breakfast go head and make the portions bigger, but as a dessert this WILL fill you up! Because GF noodles absorb their sauces, if you have any leftover, add a splash of nondairy milk before gentle reheating (or just do it anyway, if your boyfriend’s traditional Scottish dessert custom included pouring heavy cream onto anything cakelike, you will know this is a delight.)
That kugel right there? It’s gluten-free AND vegan AND delicious. I KNOW, RIGHT?
serves 10-12 for dessert
12 oz. brown rice noodles such as fusilli (anything wide and able to catch sauce) [this works out to 3/4 a bag]
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 8-oz. tub vegan sour cream
1/2 cup nondairy milk
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, I was actually out)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse. Meanwhile stir together the rest of the ingredients. Preheat oven to 350* and grease a 9″ x 13″ casserole (I made a half batch in the picture). Add the noodles to the sauce, stir, dump in the pan and bake for 30 minutes.