Dec 5, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Feast Part I - Tofu Turkey and all the fixings

I have been making Tofu Turkey every Thanksgiving since 2001. This is not to be mistaken for the store bought Tofurky, which in my opinion is not as tasty. This is a "mash up 5 pounds of tofu, press in fridge for 8 hours, stuff, baste and bake for 4 hours" production. Its a lot of work, but I love every minute of this yearly tradition. And the results are well worth it.

This year, Jim and I were in England for Thanksgiving. He had an opportunity to present at a conference on Thanksgiving day and we jumped at the chance to visit another new country. We decided we could have a post-Thanksgiving feast when we returned. So, here I am, surrounded by pounds of tofu and vegetables and slightly stressing about all the details for my meal tomorrow, but happy all the same. After all, its only once a year, and its so much fun to prove that you can have a fantastic, tasty and amazing holiday feast without all the meat.

On the schedule today:
  • prepare the tofu
  • make cranberry/orange chutney
  • make creamy spinach/parsnip dish
  • double layer pumpkin cheesecake
  • make carrot ginger soup if there's enough room in the fridge to store :)
Check back soon for photos and details of the process.

Nov 12, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Apple Crisp

I recently had a dessert epiphany- what would happen if I combined apple pie and chocolate chip cookies, two of my favorite treats? Without quite knowing what I was doing I whipped up this crazy combination and the result was delicious!

Basically, you prepare the apples as you would an apple pie or apple crisp, using your favorite recipe. Then you layer them in a baking dish and top with cookie dough. Its pretty simple, but here are the details of my version.

  • 5-6 med-large apples, peeled, sliced and cored
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch or other thickener (optional, but helps with runniness)
  • 1 package of pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough at room-temp, or you can make your own from scratch

Preheat oven to 400. Mix sliced apples with lemon juice. In separate bowl mix brown sugar, flour, spices and corn starch. Combine. Butter a baking dish. Fill dish with apple mixture. Top with cookie dough. For the topping, you just need to work the cookie dough into flat pieces and place over the top of the apples. I pretty much made an almost solid sheet of cookie dough, approximately 1/2" thick.

Baking instructions:
First you need to cook the apples without burning the cookies. I covered the dish with aluminum foil and baked until the apples got bubbly, approximately 30-40 minutes. I would recommend setting a timer for 30 minutes, then every 10 minutes until they are cooked. Remove the foil, turn down the temp to 350 and cook for about 10 minutes until the cookie dough sets and topping is brown. Please note, these times and cooking temperatures are approximate. As much as you will want to eat this right away, you should let it sit for a few minutes so the juice can coagulate a little and it will be easier to serve.

Top with whipped cream, ice cream or both. Enjoy!

photo credit: Lucio Lecce

Oct 29, 2009

Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

I can't believe this has been going on for 14 years and I still haven't gone. I'm typically not too happy in big crowds, so have avoided the festival despite the temptation of free admission and vegetarian food. I've heard great things about it from my vegetarian friends and they've expanded to two days so maybe I'll venture over this year.

The Boston Vegetarian Society proudly presents

The 14th Annual Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

Now Expanded to Two Days!

Saturday, October 31, 2009, 10 AM - 6 PM
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 10 AM - 4 PM

Reggie Lewis Athletic Center
1350 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Subway stop across the street

More Info:

Oct 24, 2009

My Vegetarian Version of Colcannon

Jim loves potatoes. I love making home fries for breakfast, but hardly ever cook potatoes for dinner. Last night was a cold and rainy fall night, and Jim and I were both craving some warm, filling comfort food. I decided to make use of all the potatoes piling up from our coop. What I really wanted was mashed potatoes, however, I had some kale and leeks that I really needed to cook soon. So, I decided to make my own version of the Irish dish, Colcannon. Here is the recipe for your enjoyment.

  • 6 large Potatoes, peeled (optional)
  • 1 head of Kale, remove stems and chop into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Leek, finely chopped
  • 8 veggie breakfast links or sausage patties
  • butter
  • light cream or milk
  • salt and pepper

1. Boil large pot of water. I used a mixture of Red and Yukon potatoes which did not need to be peeled. If you prefer your mashed potatoes without skins, peel the potatoes first.Chop potatoes into equal size pieces and add to boiling water. Cook until soft.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan or wok until it just starts to bubble (medium heat). Add leek and a little salt and cook until softened.

3. Add chopped kale and cook for a few minutes, just until kale starts to wilt. Don't overcook the kale, it really only needs to be heated for 2-3 minutes.

4. Cook veggie sausages or links according to package instructions. I cook my veggie links in a skillet until brown on all sides. Chop into bite-size pieces.

5. When potatoes are done, drain and mash with 2-3 tablespoons butter and about 1 cup of milk or cream. I like chunky mashed potatoes and just add a little milk as I go until I get the consistency I like.

6. Stir in Kale, Leek and Veggie Links. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve.

This looks a little crazy, but tastes so yummy!

Oct 16, 2009

Scientists have discovered a "Vegetarian" Spider!

"Scientists have discovered the world’s first known vegetarian spider.

Bagheera kiplingi, a South American species, lives almost exclusively on leaf buds and is thought to be the only spider of about 40,000 species to have rejected a carnivorous diet."

Read more about this fascinating creature at TimesOnline.

photo credit: Robert L. Curry

Sep 13, 2009

Vegetarian Borscht Recipe

I know, I know- I haven't posted in a while! I'm not sorry to say that I've been enjoying the summer, traveling a little, and mostly just avoiding being on the computer too much. Anyway, I threw a bridal shower for my sister last month and we requested the guests bring a vegetarian recipe for her. One of them really appealed to me as I had tons of beets from my veggie co-op just waiting for the right recipe.

I didn't have any potatoes (not in my share yet) so I added 2 carrots instead. I actually worked out just fine. Sorry no pics, it was late and I was hungry! I ate this with my blueberry-cheddar pancakes which I will follow up with in a later post.


Jovie's Vegetarian Borscht recipe:

2 big potatoes
4-6 beets
Wash and cube them. Then place them in a pot with
enough filtered water that the potatoes & beets are
about a 1/2 inch under the water, and boil.
(If you want you can add a veggie bouillon cube into
the mix.)

Meanwhile take:
1 big onion
3+ cloves of garlic (depending on how much garlic you like)
Slice pretty thinly and saute in 2 tablespoons of
olive oil.

When the beets and potatoes are soft, add the
onions-garlic-oil into the potato-beet-broth pot. Add 1
T-spoon of sesame oil, then salt and pepper to your own
taste. Stir. Then pour all the ingredients into a
blender. (It will probably be a few batches.)

Serve with: a dollop of plain yogurt on top, dill
(dry or fresh), and roasted sesame seeds!

Thanks to Jovielle for sharing!!!

Jul 24, 2009

Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp

Normally I do not get a fruit share at the co-op, but I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a few pints of lovely blueberries this week! I have to say that blueberries are probably my favorite fruit. And these are big, plump, gorgeously juicy, slightly tart, super yummy ones. I am trying not to eat them all as I type :)

In the spirit of the blueberry season, here is a recipe taken from Yankee Magazine for Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp. I bet it is so good with vanilla ice cream!

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

  • 3 pints blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Mix the berries, sugar, lemon juice and zest, and flour in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and butter a 13x9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.


  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter, and pulse the machine repeatedly, in 2- to 3-second bursts, until the mixture is clumpy, like damp crumbs. Transfer the berries to the baking dish, and spread the crumbs evenly over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly hot. Serve at any temperature, although it is best to let it cool at least 10 minutes.

Jul 8, 2009

Zucchini and Summer Squash Saute

Last week I got my first zucchini and squash of the summer from the co-op. I found a super simple recipe in my Heaven's Banquet cookbook for sauteed zucchini. The following is my adaptation for 2 servings:

1 med zucchini / 1 med summer squash
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tbs safflower oil
1 chopped scallion
1 tbs minced herbs from garden (basil, parsley, chives)

Peel and grate the zucchini/squash. I also scooped out some of the squash seeds because I'm weird about seeds in my food :)
Add salt and let sit for 10 minutes.
Place handfuls of mixture in strong paper towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out water.
Stir in garlic
Heat safflower oil in pan on med heat. Add zucchini mixture and saute for about 5 minutes.
Mix in scallion and saute 5 more minutes until it just starts to brown, but you don't want to fry it.
Mix in minced herbs and serve.

This kind of felt like a pasta replacement, similar to when I make spaghetti squash, but it also had a slight egg taste. Either way it was really good. I served it with a salad made from lettuce and radishes from the co-op, topped with pan fried tofu.

Jun 19, 2009

Farm Direct Co-op - Week 2

Thursday was my second co-op delivery. I picked up napa cabbage, garlic scapes (3), green lettuce, and I got my choice of either mizuna or pea tendrils, and scallions or kohlrabi. Feeling a bit adventurous, I chose pea tendrils and kohlrabi. I've had tried kohlrabi before, but had never even realized you could eat pea tendrils.

That night after a bit of research I decided to cook the pea tendrils since they don't last long and are best used right away. Most sources mentioned they are common in Asian stir-fries, and some recipes used them raw. Upon sampling the shoots raw, I decided that they were a bit too tough to eat raw and decided to chop them and do a quick stir fry with sesame oil, hoping to soften them up. Although I mostly liked the flavor (Jim did not!), they were way too tough for us to eat. I kept having to spit out the unchewed fibrous clumps. Unfortunately the entire dish was a lost cause.

Wondering what I did wrong, I researched pea tendrils further. Every blog post and recipe mentioned how delicious they were and what a nice subtle pea flavor they added to each dish. Then, I hit upon one post that mentioned that the tendril and tougher stems should be removed first. I think if I had done that, or just used the leaves only, the dish may have been more of a success. Since Jim really didn't like the earthy pea flavor, I doubt I will be giving them another try soon, which is a shame. If anyone has any suggestions, or has had a similar experience, please let me know.

The good news is that I made a fantastic garlic scape pesto for my potato gnocchi. Here is the recipe:
  • 3 Garlic Scapes, chopped
  • a small handful of organic pine nuts (sorry, I didn't measure- add more or less as you go, per your taste)
  • olive oil (again- no measurement, but I would suggest to start with 3 tablespoons and add more as you go)
  • Salt to taste

I added all ingredients to my small electric chopper/blender until I had a finely chopped, bright green blend.

I look forward to experimenting with the kohlrabi this weekend. I have to find a good recipe for the napa as well, since we never seem to use up cabbage in time.

Jun 18, 2009

Farm Direct Co-op

It's one of my favorite times of the year again- my food co-op has begun! I now get fresh local produce every Thursday until some time in October. I truly love eating with the seasons and discovering new local veggies. I also like how it forces me to cook and eat good food. And I save money at the local supermarket. Not to mention the environmental and health benefits to eating local.

Last week we received red leaf lettuce (2 heads), a pound of spinach, some beautiful bok choy, and a choice of salad turnips or radishes (I chose radishes). So many greens- whats a girl to do? Well, for starters, I've been making salads all week. My father gave me some fresh, peppery arugula from his garden, so I made a mix with the spinach and lettuce, added sliced radish, grated parmesan, and olive oil for a quick healthy lunch. I added most of the spinach to an improv mac and cheese dish, which turned out great (recipe below). Last night I made a miso based, Asian-inspired soup which included much of the bok choy, as well as carrot, broccoli, baby corn, tofu and thin rice noodles. Today, I added lettuce to our sandwiches. And, I still have a head of lettuce, two radishes and a little less than half of the bok choy left. I'll have to invite some friends over for dinner soon to eat up my veggies.

Spinach Mac & Cheese
  • Prepare your choice of pasta. I used 12 ounces of a soy, rice, quinoa pasta that was quite nice. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in pan on a med-low heat, saute 2-3 cloves chopped garlic, some optional red pepper flakes, then add 1/2 lb to a lb of chopped spinach until just wilted.
  • Add pasta back to pan
  • Here is where the cheesy magic starts :) I added chopped Asiago cheese and stirred until it started getting melty. The amount is subjective. I only used 3 slices of cheese, because Asiago has such a strong flavor. You can certainly add more. Just remember to chop it up small so it melts quickly.
  • Add milk or unsweetened soy milk slowly until the mixture gets creamy instead of lumpy and stops sticking to your spoon.
  • I also added salt, pepper and a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast.

Jun 3, 2009

Make Your Own Flour

I got this article in an email newletter from the Organic Consumers Association today. I wish I had a bigger yard so I could grow some grains. How fantastic would it be to make pancakes or bread grown from your backyard? Maybe I'll try a little corn next year, but oats or wheat would be great.

Homegrown Grains: The Key to Food Security -- How to Grow and Make Your Own Wheat Flour

Freshly ground wheat flour has a high vitamin content; vitamins that degrade all too quickly when exposed to the air. The whole grain flour that we buy from stores is often quite stale and may have significantly reduced vitamin content when compared to freshly ground.

(from Planting a plot approximately 10 feet by 10 feet will, when all is said and done, yield between 10 and 25 loaves of bread. To begin, find a nice backyard plot and choose the type of wheat you wish to plant. In the United States two varieties are grown, white and red. Red wheat is more common. Red wheat also produces bread with a much more intense flavor. Consider the advantages of growing winter wheat as opposed to spring variety. (continue to entire OCA article)

May 26, 2009

Healthy, Whole Food Grains

Whole grains should be a staple of any healthy, nutritious meal. Because of their increased fiber content, one benefit to whole grains is that they make a meal feel more filling so you stay full for longer. This is especially helpful to those of us trying to shed some extra winter weight. Many grains also come with increased vitamin and mineral content.

Some of my favorites include quinoa, barley, millet, oatmeal and wild rice. I typically purchase my grains bulk at Whole Foods as that is the least expensive option, but sometimes will resort to packaged grains if the bulk version is unavailable. I love how simple grains are to cook. Basically you put the grain in a pan with water and simmer. Its also great to cook extra for leftover or to add to another dish, such as soup or stir-fry.

Quinoa (pronounce Keen-wah) is my new favorite dinner grain, although technically quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like Kale and Swiss chard. I usually just add some garlic and olive oil and have a quick and super nutricious side dish or meal base. Of course, there are tons of quinoa recipes out there. You can add veggies, herbs, nuts or fruit for breakfast. Pasta made from quinoa is also very delicious and available at most health food stores.

My new favorite quinoa dish was found on Vegan Yum Yum (Sweet Chili Lime Tofu w/ Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa). I typically replace the collard greens with kale or asparagus, but even the quinoa from this recipe on its own is so delicious. I made the mistake of substituting ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick. If you are going to do this, add the cinnamon when the dish is done, or better yet, just leave the cinnamon out.

The World's Healthiest Foods website has some great nutritional info on quinoa and all types of grains.

May 11, 2009

Famous Vegetarian Musicians

It seems that our society is so fascinated with celebrities. Although I try not to put too much stock in what famous people do in their daily lives, I can totally understand the fascination, especially with musicians and other artists. Here is a brief but impressive list of some musicians I admire, who also just happen to be or have been vegetarians.

  • John Coltrane (1926-1967) - jazz legend. "His work 'A Love Supreme' was a testament to the power, glory, love and greatness of God. Coltrane felt we must all make a conscious effort to effect positive change in the world, and that his music was an instrument to create positive thought patterns in the minds of people." - excerpt from

  • Sun Ra a.k.a. Herman Poole ""Sonny"" Blount (1914–1993) - jazz musician. One of the first musicians, regardless of genre, to make extensive use of electronic keyboards. Sun Ra "maintained that everyone should be vegetarian and eat natural foods and large quantities of fruit and fiber." - Space is the place: the lives and times of Sun Ra, by John F. Szwed. Check out this video excerpt from Sun Ra's movie Space is the Place

  • Ornette Coleman (1930-) - one of the most influential jazz artists to emerge in the last century. Jim and I were lucky to see him perform at the Newport Jazz Festival a few years ago.

  • George Harrison (1943-2001) British guitarist best know as the lead guitarist for The Beatles. He also happens to have written my favorite Beatles song, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

  • Joan Jett (1958- ) Bad-ass American Rock & Roll Goddess. Link to her interview with

  • Dizzy Gillepse (1917-1993) - American Jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer, composer. Check him out on the Muppet Show here.

  • Philip Glass (1937-) - American composer. He describes himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures". Vegetarian for over 50 years.

  • Andre 3000 (1975-) - American Rapper, actor, best know for his work in OutKast. When he was asked what he would do for his last day on earth, he replied, “I’d probably go for a great meal—some broccoli probably, because I’m a vegetarian.”

  • Moby (1965-) Vegan. DJ and musician who plays keyboard, guitar, bass guitar and drums. His The End of Everything album included an essay about veganism ("Could you look an animal in the eyes and say to it, 'My appetite is more important than your suffering'?)"

  • KRS-One (1965-) - American Rapper. Recorded a song "Beef", on the 4th Boogie Down Productions album, Edutainment. Here is an excerpt from the song:
Let us begin now with the cow
The way it gets to your plate and how
The cow doesn't grow fast enough for man
So through his greed he makes a faster plan
He has drugs to make the cow grow quicker
Through the stress the cow gets sicker
Twenty-one different drugs are pumped
Into the cow in one big lump
So just before it dies, it cries
In the slaughterhouse full of germs and flies
Off with the head, they pack it, drain it, and cart it
And there it is, in your local supermarket
Red and bloody, a corpse, neatly packed
And you wonder about heart attacks?

There are so many other vegetarian musicians. Here are some rumored vegetarians that I haven't had a chance to 100% verify...

Barry White, Billie Joe Armstrong, Billy Idol, Bonnie Rait, Brian Bell (Weezer), Brian May (Queen), Chris Martin (Coldplay), Daniel Kessler (Interpol), Fat Mike (NOFX), Fred Schneider (B52s), Jane Weidlan (Go-Gos), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Krist Novoselic (Nirvana), Larry Mullen Jr, (U2), Melissa Etheridge, Mike Gordon (Phish), Nelly, Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Paul McCartney, Philip Collen (Def Leppard), Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead), PJ Harvey, Prince, Richie Havens, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, RZA, Steve Perry, Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Weird Al

May 6, 2009

Fiddleheads Are Here

When I went food shopping yesterday I was happy to see Fiddleheads available once again! Although they weren't organic, they were local and I bought a nice big bag. I think I will either steam them and serve them with wild rice or pasta, or try the following recipe from Vegan Yum-Yum.

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Morels and Fiddleheads

It is now truly spring for me!

image gratefully borrowed from Libraryman

Apr 24, 2009

Mango Salsa

More often than not I don't have any particular meal in mind when I go food shopping. I like to let the fresh produce availability inspire me. This week, I walked into Whole Foods and they had a lovely display of organic mangoes on sale. Mango Salsa was my first thought. Ok, that's great, but what do I serve that with? Hmmmm... mangoes make me think of South America and that made me think of corn, so... Polenta! And black beans. Now that's a healthy meal, and a fairly simple one at that. Here's my mango salsa recipe for your enjoyment. I can tell you, after snacking on it at lunch today, its even better two days later.

I used:
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed (How to cut a mango)
  • 4 tbs of chopped, fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • diced green chiles- I used 1 small can
  • a dash of salt to taste
  • 2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice, or to taste

Combine all ingredients and serve- its that simple. I also topped it on the plate with fresh, cubed avocado and served it with chopped lettuce. If you plan on making this to scoop with tortilla chips, cut the mango smaller.

I do highly recommend making this salsa ahead of time as well, although it was quite delicious fresh.

For the polenta, they were out of bulk polenta grain, so I got an organic, pre-packaged tube. I sliced it in 1/2" slices, sprayed a baking sheet with canola oil, cooked both sides for 10 minutes at 400 degrees (or until slightly brown on both sides). For the last 2 minutes I sprinkled a little shredded cheddar on top and on slice of jalapeno.

*I apologize for the poor quality photo, although I am grateful to Jim for quickly snapping a pic of his plate with his iPhone before we ate it all up.

Apr 21, 2009

Pledge to Be Veg for 'Meat's Not Green' Week

One of the many reasons I don't eat meat is the environmental toll the meat industry has on the planet. Hopefully other concerned environmentalists will consider vegetarianism, not only for personal health, but for the health of the earth. PETA claims that each year you are a vegetarian you save 100 animals. Hmmmm. That would mean that I have saved 1900 animals. I'm not sure about those figures, but they have a good idea with their "Meat's Not Green" week.

From Peta's website...

Help reduce climate change during PETA's first-ever "Meat's Not Green" week! A United Nations report found that the meat industry is responsible for producing more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined. These greenhouse gases cause climate change, which studies show will increasingly lead to devastating disasters—like droughts, floods, hurricanes, rising sea levels, and disease outbreaks—unless we drastically reduce the amounts emitted into the atmosphere. One of the most effective ways that you can help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions—and help reduce pollution and habitat destruction too—is by switching to a vegetarian diet. Celebrate "Meat's Not Green" week by pledging to try a vegetarian diet for 30 days. In addition to helping the environment, your change to a vegetarian diet will save 100 animals each year that you stick with it.

By taking the Pledge to Be Veg for 30 Days, you will be helping animals and the environment.

Apr 11, 2009

Vegetarian Pizza Gain - aka Easter Pie

Every Easter, my grandmother would make what we called "pizza gain", a type of southern Italian savory pie. Pizza Gain, know by many other names such as pizza gaina, pizza rustica, Italian Easter pie, is a traditional Italian dish, with ingredients that vary regionally. Unfortunately, pizza gain traditionally contains a lot of meat- ham, prosciutto, salami, capicola, pepperoni, etc. I have decided to make the pie this year, substituting meatless products in our family recipe.

The Salerno family recipe is as follows:

4 cups flour (I used 2 cups unbleached flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1/3 cup olive/veg oil
1/2 cup water

combine dry ingredients first and then add moist ingredients. Combine in food processor until it forms a ball. chill for 1 hour. roll out to make dough. line pans with dough.

My dad uses round spring form pans, my grandmother used rectangular loaf pans. I favor the loaf pans, but it's your choice.

1 lb - 1.5 lb Fresh Basket Cheese* (I actually used a mixture of farmers cheese, ricotta strained in cheesecloth to firm up, and queso fresco, a whole milk Spanish cheese)
Romano cheese to taste (I used 1/4 cup)
meat substitute- I used 1 package veggie pepperoni and 1 package veggie ham slices cubed.
enough eggs to bind ingredients (4-6 eggs?) so the mixture is firm, but not dry.

Mix all ingredients and fill dough-lined pan. Cover with top layer of dough. Bake 1 hour in oven at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and cool. Refrigerate. This is best served at room temperature.

*Basket Cheese is a traditional cheese that can be found in delis around Easter. It is also know as Farmers Cheese or Easter cheese. It is the consistency of Tofu, which can be used instead.

I ended up making two pies. I ran out of filling for the second one, so I added tofu. Both are delicious. My husband and I enjoyed this with hot sauce, but you could also add red pepper flakes to the cheese mixture for spice.

A slice of the pizza gain loaf.

Here is a link for a vegan version at Vegan Easter Pie

Apr 8, 2009

My Favorite Cookbooks - vegetarian and otherwise

I'm the type of cook that usually does not follow a recipe, unless I'm baking. I've been cooking for so long that I have a good sense of timing and what will work together. That doesn't mean I don't use cookbooks for inspiration or follow a complete recipe from time to time. I also found cookbooks necessary when I first stopped eating meat, as I was clueless to many of the endless vegetarian food options.

Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks. Not all of them are 100% vegetarian, but these are the ones I refer to the most. Each title links to a page on Amazon so you can get the full info. If you have any favorite cookbooks you would like to recommend, please comment.

1. Cooking the Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello. I love this macrobiotic cooking book and I love Christina's kooky, cheerful spirit. If you ever get a chance to catch her PBS show "Christina Cooks" you will see what I mean. Apparently Christina cured herself of Leukemia by changing to a whole foods diet. I would highly recommend watching her show to complement the book, as she is not really an "exact measurement" type of cook. I think some of her measurements in the book can be adjusted to your taste.

2. Vegetarian Times Cookbook by the editors of the Vegetarian Times. I have quite an old version of this book, so I'm not sure what the updated version is like. I also haven't used this cookbook in a while, but it was invaluable when I first became vegetarian.

3. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael T. Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, Lara Pizzorno. I looked at this book for years at Wild Oats and finally bought it during their going out of business sale. I don't know what I was waiting for. This book thoroughly explains the nutritional value and medical properties of every type edible food imaginable. It provides cooking and storage methods as well as a history of the food itself. It also includes sections on common ailments and food recommendations. This is a must have for everyone.

4. From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce by Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition. I picked this up from my local food co-op and found it to be a nice collection of recipes you might not find in a larger cookbook. This is not strictly vegetarian, but the recipes with meat could be easily adapted as the focus is on the produce.

5. How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. This book does not, by far, tell you how to cook everything, but it is a great resource for preparation and cooking of many of the most common ingredients. For example, I learned how to properly cut a mango and the proper time for cooking a hard boiled egg from this book. The recipes are truly simple, which is great as a basis for your own creations.

6. The Kripalu Cookbook by Atma JoAnn Levitt. Recipes from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, a retreat center in Western MA. I haven't cooked one bad dish from this book and I'm hooked on the Oat Flour Waffle/Pancake recipe. If you are interested in healthy versions of classic dishes, buy this book.

Some other books I own and refer to occasionally for inspiration:

Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen - not "The New Moosewood Cookbook", although I'm sure that's just as good and possibly less fattening.

Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

Hot & Spicy Meatless 2 by Dave Dewitt, Mary Jane Wilan, and Melissa T. Stock

Apr 3, 2009

Marblehead Lunch Spots

I work in Marblehead and, while there are no vegetarian restaurants in town, there are several decent places to get a vegetarian lunch. These are my recommendations in order of preference.

1. Atomic Cafe - many vegetarian sandwich options, salads and smoothies. The also offer at least one vegetarian soup option. My favorite lunch is the Cucumber Deluxe sandwich with a Chai Velvet smoothie. Vegans can choose from a few salads, but most sandwich options include cheese, although they are very good about custom orders. It can get pretty crowded during lunchtime and right after school gets out.

2. Foodie's Feast - Despite the slightly pretentious name, Foodies employees are always very friendly and welcoming. They have vegetarian sandwich options, soup/salad combos. Again, vegans may have a harder time. Breakfast options are delicious, as is the daily quiche selection. There website leaves something to be desired and they never seem to have a printed take-away menu. I love their egg salad sandwich and the hummus and veggie wrap is a good summer option. On a nice day get the sandwich to go and walk down to the waterfront to watch the boats go by.

3. Shubie's - upscale market you would expect to find in a town like Marblehead. I was hesitant to go in, figuring the prices would be too high for me, but they have a fantastic wine selection, awesome wine tasting events each week and a delightful $10 and under wine section. As far as lunch, I was craving a salad and decided to bite the bullet and go in for a $9 salad, but was so excited to see that they now have a lunch bar (or maybe I missed it before) with very reasonable sandwich/soup/salad options. There were two vegan soup options, so I decided on a cup of white bean soup with a house salad. The salad came with your choice of greens (I choose arugula), dressing (low fat basil blue cheese-yummy!), cucumber and grape tomato. All for $7. I have a feeling I will be eating here quite a lot from now on.

4. Fen Yang House - There are two places to get sushi in Marblehead. I've tried both and I wont even mention the other. Fen Yang is never full at lunch, the waitstaff is super attentive and the sushi is decent. I wouldn't say its the best I've ever had, but at least they have Inari sushi (rice filled tofu). Fen Yang is primarily a Chinese restaurant, but I've only ordered the scallion pancakes from that part of the menu, as I'm not a big fan of Chinese food. no website, 40 Atlantic Ave.

5. Marblehead Chowder Company - A little pricey, but they always have a vegetarian soup option. They also offer salads and panini sandwiches. I'm not sure how vegans would do here. I think the carrot artichoke soup is vegan and they do have a nice beet salad. One issue I do have is that the soup is often served too cold, but they will apologetically reheat it for you.
***(Update 11/21/09) It appears that the Chowder Company is under new management. There are different food options and there seems to be less vegetarian soup choices. I tried the "Mulligatawny" soup, which wasn't at all like the authentic Indian version. It was ok, but I most likely won't return because of the lack of vegetarian options.***

Well, that's about it. Many days I will venture to Whole Foods in Swampscott for their salad bar or meet my husband in Salem, which will be the topic of another post.

Apr 2, 2009

Best Tofu Ever - The Bridge

I discovered The Bridge tofu last year, when I was looking for all natural tofu, and it is the tastiest tofu I have ever eaten. Their seitan and prepared tofu salad are both really good as well. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it at my local Whole Foods for a few weeks and I am freaking out. I just emailed the company, so hopefully I can find another local source. If you haven't tried this brand, you must! The package says that it is made by hand in the traditional kettle style. I'm not sure what that entails, but the result is so yummy. I can't even describe how delicious their tofu is. Here is a blurb from their website:

"The quality of hand made freshness that is the hallmark of our products continues to inspire many in their search for high quality natural foods. Each product is made from outstanding ingredients in a richly restored tradition; slowly by hand, fresh to order, by people - not machines. When you eat products made by The Bridge, you'll notice they taste different from others you may have tried. They possess a remarkable and delicious depth of flavor. There is a difference in how you feel as well, because all of the food we make is alive. That is the most important thing we do."

I'll keep you posted on local sources, if any.

*update- Stephen, the company president emailed me back right away and supposedly the Swampscott Whole Foods orders every week, so I'm going to have to inquire at the store. Maybe they moved the product to a different section.
*4/8/09 - Swampscott Whole Foods has The Bridge in stock again. Yippee.


Hello, and welcome to my vegetarian food and lifestyle guide. As a vegetarian, I am constantly searching for good, healthy veggie choices, not only in my local area, but wherever my travels take me. This blog will highlight some of my favorite local choices, interesting finds around the world, vegetarian related articles, and some great vegetarian recipes.

I have been a vegetarian since 1990 and remember when my only choice at most restaurants was the "pasta primavera" or a side salad if I was lucky. My sister and I used to take the blue line to the GNC in downtown crossing to buy our veggie burgers as the "regular" grocery stores didn't carry them. Luckily times have changed, and increased awareness of the link between health and diet have brought many more options to the table, so to speak.

While my initial reasons for going veggie were based on animal rights, I have come to discover the many health and environmental benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. I don't intend to convert anyone or suggest any choice is wrong, I simply want to provide another resource for vegetarians and vegetarian sympathizers. Make sure you check out some of the recommended links and blogs.