Last Meal (Vegan MoFo #21)

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I decided to end Vegan MoFo with an entire book-based meal. Main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert are all mentioned in the book, so I cooked it all! I’ll miss the challenge this month has been, but it will also be nice to be able to not worrying about blogging five days a week. I’m already planning my theme (*cough* Disney movies *cough*) for next year.
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The genre of vampire fiction has grown rapidly these last few years. But the first vampire series I remember getting truly invested in (before all the Twilight hubub took over)  was Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. The first book in the series is A Living Nightmare, in which the main character is a young boy, Darren. Darren’s obsession with the supernatural and outlandish prompts him and his friend, Steve, to visit a traveling freak show that has just rolled into town. Due to their encounters at the show, Darren and Steve end up over their heads and thrown from their mundane everyday lives into being involved in the dangerous vampire world. Now Darren must choose between saving Steve’s life and sacrificing his own human future.

In the same vein as Goosebumps, but with much better writing, A Living Nightmare (and the rest of the Cirque Du Freak books) tells a harrowing story involving vampire mythos, a dash of sarcastic humor, and good old fashioned gore. Great for anyone wanting to read a vampire story that does not involve romance or sparkles.

This would be my last meal with them and I wanted it to be special. When I was looking back on it in later years, I wanted to be able to remember us together, at home, a happy family.

Mom cooked my favorite food: chicken, roast potatoes, corn on the cob. Annie and me had freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. Mom and Dad shared a bottle of wine. We had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Everybody was in a good mood.” – Cirque Du Freak (A Living Nightmare) (paperback) page 225

I won’t tell why (I hate spoilers), but Darren is having his last meal with his family. Because of this it’s a very important dinner and I wanted to make sure I captured that in my last Vegan MoFo meal. For the chicken I used PETA’s cruelty free Chick-fil-a recipe, the potatoes were just thinly sliced and baked with Lawry’s seasoning salt and pepper, and then some fresh corn on the cob. I served it with barbecue sauce and orange juice.

cirque du freak mealThe best part of this meal though was the dessert. I decided to adapt my lemon-berry cheesecake recipe and make it into strawberry cheesecake. I wish I’d done this recipe earlier in the month when strawberries were more in season, but it still turned out well with the mediocre selection that was available.

strawberry cheezcake

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker crust (store-bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor blend together all the ingredients (except the pie crust) until smooth.

Pour the strawberry mix into the crust, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chill for at least 5 hours and then slice and serve! This is also great garnished with strawberry sauce or vegan whipped cream.

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Breakfast of Witch Fighting Champions (Vegan MoFo #3)

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The Last Apprentice – Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney is about Tom Ward, a young seventh son of a seventh son who is apprenticed to the local Spook. Spooks are fighters of the dark who battle witches, ghosts, boggarts, demons, and even the Fiend himself. As Tom starts his apprenticeship, he learns about all the things that go bump in the dark. His learning focuses on witches especially since they are quite common in this area. There are blood witches, who like to drain blood for ceremonies and occasionally drink it, and also bone witches, who will cut off the thumbs of enemies for spells. The Spook warns Tom that the easiest way to identify a disguised witch is by her pointy shoes.

One day, during an errand run into town, Tom meets a young girl named Alice. She seems fairly harmless and nice, but there’s one problem. She wears pointy shoes. Despite this, Tom has a hard time believing the girl could be capable of harming anyone. Since he has no friends since moving in with the Spook, he decides to befriend the girl.

Soon the Spook has to travel due to a job in another town. He leaves Tom in charge of the house, and promises to be back within a few days. Almost immediately, things take a turn for the worst. It’s not long before Alice is back, and Tom has a promise to keep to her. Through trying to keep his word and an unfortunate beginner’s mistake, Tom releases one of the most feared witches in the County, Mother Malkin. As she begins to terrorize him and his family, and without the wise guidance of the Spook, Tom must learn to fight the dark on his own.

“Yes,” I said “it was the very best breakfast that I’ve ever tasted. And I’m sorry for coming down too early and I promise that it won’t happen again.”

At that, the Spook grinned so much that I thought his face was going to split in two; then he clapped me on the back and led me out into the garden again.

It was only when we were outside that the grin finally faded. “Well done, lad,” he said. “There are two things that respond well to flattery: boggarts and some women. Gets them every time.” – The Last Apprentice – Revenge of the Witch (hardcover) pages 94-95

In the Spook’s home is a boggart that cooks, cleans, and protects the property. While it is a friendly boggart (most of which in the book are not), it does not like people coming down to breakfast early or insulting its cooking. The result is the offender either getting boxed in the ears or their food being burned. In honor of the boggart’s breakfasts, I’m made breakfast food for lunch today (since waking up early to cook an actual breakfast is over rated).

boggart breakfast

Plated up is some cheesy tofu scramble (this tofu recipe with a handful of Daiya), Gimme Lean sausage patties, and a drop biscuit with strawberry preserves.

Local Lime: Review

Over Spring Break, my sister and I went to Arkansas to visit our mom. While there, we ate at a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Little Rock called Local Lime. We had heard it was vegan-friendly, so we decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be great!

To start off, our waitress was very knowledgeable about what items were and weren’t vegan. That was a great relief, because nothing is more frustrating than having a waiter who has no idea about the ingredients. Things on the menu were also clearly marked “vegan”, “vegetarian”, and “gluten-free”.

To drink, I got their Fresh Fruit Punch. It’s house-made with fresh pineapple, papaya, mango, strawberries and organic agave syrup. (It was also photo-bombed by my mom)

As an appetizer we got the Salsa Trio, and our three salsa choices were house tomato, tres chilies, and mango papaya, served with corn chips. When our waitress brought it out, the tres chilies salsa had cheese on top of it. After seeing the cook’s mistake, she immediately went into the back and brought me my own vegan salsa bowl! All the salsas were good, but the house tomato was definitely my favorite.
For the main course I ordered the Black Bean and Green Tacos, which come with black beans, guacamole, raw green cabbage, house-pickled onions,  and hot sauce, all served in a corn tortilla. For the two sides, I got jicama jalapeno slaw (with no sauce, since it contained dairy), and spicy house-pickled vegetables.

The tacos were fantastic. The beans were spiced just right, and the cool guacamole and cabbage counteracted the spicy onions and hot sauce. The jicama slaw was also really good. It was crunchy and fresh tasting with a hint of lime. The only disappointing thing was the house-pickled vegetables. The combo of spicy and pickled taste just didn’t sit right with my taste buds.
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So all in all, I would give Local Lime a 5 star rating. Their vegan-friendly service, and delicious menu is truly stellar.
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Biscuits & Beans

Since gas prices suck nowadays, I am trying to drive less places or at least not as far for things I can find nearby. So that means I am using our local Lucky’s grocery store for most of my ingredients, which forces me to rely on less processed foods (Boca patties, Vegenaise, etc.) and more on regular stuff.

The cookbook Table for Two is helping with this, because most of the recipes use common ingredients, plus the small quantities from the recipes make it where I am not forced to eat leftovers by myself for a week.

One of the recipes I used from the book was for whole wheat biscuits, but I subbed all-purpose flour for the wheat. These lovely little drop biscuits took less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and were delicious. I ate some with Earth Balance and strawberry jam for breakfast this morning.

Although it’s getting really hot outside, I am still eating a lot of hot food. I started swimming twice a week, and after getting out of the pool I am cold and wanting something filling. Chili is the answer! This particular chili had Navy and pinto beans and TVP. I actually ate this with some of the leftover biscuits and it was fantastic. This shall be my lunch for the next few days.

For dinner today I had a marinated bean and corn salad. I took a can of black beans, a can of corn, freshly chopped tomatoes, and let it marinate for a while in the fridge with Kraft mango chipotle dressing. I then put it on a bed of baby spring lettuce with crushed Fritos. The mango chipotle dressing was just okay, the mango taste seemed a bit artificial to me. But to not waste so much food, I just loaded on some salsa and the salad was saved.

Thanksgiving – Pigs, Cards, and Cake!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday (if you dared to venture out). Now is the time to begin prepping for Christmas, and since I’ve decided every one of my gifts will be homemade, I need to get to work asap. But there is no need to skip Thanksgiving, like many major store chains seem to be fine with doing. It should get just as much air-time as Christmas.

Before I blab about our holiday surrounding thankfulness, food, family, pilgrims, and football, I need to give you a daily-dose of cuteness. Look at the adorable little pot-scrubber Peter gave me for my birthday:

I love this little piggie, and it makes the annoying chore of washing dishes much more pleasant.

On to Thanksgiving though! My mother enjoys sending me cards at school and they’re sweet reminders to not stress too much about classes and enjoy life as much as possible. Here’s the most recent card she sent:

It says “Go stuff yourself!” inside. What a cute and vegan-friendly card.

For our Thanksgiving meal we had Tofurky roast, mashed potatoes topped with “poultry gravy”, green bean casserole, and buttery Bisquick biscuits.

For dessert we had cream-filled gingerbread bundt cake.

This was the first bundt cake I’ve ever made and I was quite pleased with how it came out. I looooved the cake’s cream “cheese” filling and how it coordinated with the spices in the cake. It was a tad dry, but I think I may have just baked it for too long.

Peter’s family also had Thanksgiving celebrations later in the week. I brought another Tofurky roast with some mushroom gravy (which I didn’t bother to photograph) and a lemon-berry cheez cake.

Happy holidays to everyone!

Culinary Camp

This summer on June 13th-18th I went to a culinary camp at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. It was really fun and I learned a lot. Though being vegan limited the amount of things I could eat, I still got to try new foods and cooking techniques while keeping my stand on animal rights.

We did a lot of cool classes like knife skills, taffy pulling, plate painting, and napkin folding.

In the afternoon we would cook in the professional kitchen on campus and in the evenings we’d have fun activites to keep us entertained like going to a local baseball game, an outdoor challenge course and a huge arcade on the last day.

In the middle of the week we went to the Metropolitan Community College Institute of the Culinary Arts for a tour of their facilities and a special three-course lunch prepared for the campers by the head chefs and their students. Much to my surprise and delight, before the lunch started one of the head chefs came out and told me he had prepared me a special lunch of my own because I’m vegan. He said he had fun cooking it all because of the challenge my dietary restrictions caused.

Here’s what all my lunch consisted of:

The first course was spicy fresh vegetable gazpacho with a sprinkling of fresh herbs on top.

The second course was roasted beets topped with sea salt, a micro greens salad with tomatoes and red wine vinaigrette, roasted almonds, and a bit of candied orange peel.

The third course was a nicely arrainged bowl of fresh mango, strawberries, and blackberries.

It was a great lunch! The gazpacho was fresh tasting, but had a spicy kick. I must admit, at first when the beets course came out I was skeptical because I’m not much of a beet fan but I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were. The fruit was sweet and the perfect ending to a good meal.

Lemon-Berry “Cheese”cake Recipe

When I went vegan I was afraid that I would have to give up many of the foods I loved, including cheesecake. But then I discovered silken tofu!

Like most tofu, it’s tasteless and white, but with a soft and creamy texture. When you mix it with other tasty ingredients and bake it in a pie shell it ends up with the texture and taste of cheesecake! I’ve been experimenting with this recipe for while and I’ve finally got it how I like it.

Lemon-Berry “Cheese”cake

Printable Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker pie crust (store bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

1 cup strawberries (fresh or thawed frozen)

1/2 cup mixed berries, I used blackberries, raspberries and blueberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 TSPS lemon extract

2 TBSPS cornstarch

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine silken tofu, mixed berries and strawberries. Process until smooth. You’ll probably have to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure everything is combined.

Add constarch and lemon extract, then blend until smooth. Then pour in the sugar and (for the last time, I promise) combine until smooth.

Pour the tofu/berry mixture into the pie crust. Put the pie into the heated oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Chill for at least 5 hours, then slice and serve! Feel free to garnish with vegan whipped cream.