Monday, December 28, 2009

Cranberry Orange Marmalade

Cranberries Jeff and I got some cranberries in our produce shipment about a month or so ago. I had never cooked with real cranberries before - the only cranberries I ate were the dried kind or the jellied ones that come in a can completely pureed. (Yep, the kind that takes the shape of the can so you can see the little ridges on the side as it's displayed on Thanksgiving day.)

Needless to say I had no idea what to do with them, but that was the whole idea of getting a produce shipment in the first place. We also had a few oranges sitting around, so I instantly thought of marmalade. I did a quick google search and came up with a recipe for cranberry marmalade.

Cranberry-Orange MarmaladeIt came out enough to fill 9 half-pint jars, with a little bit left over for taste testing. Jeff and I ate ours at least a month after canning, and the taste had settled in by then, very sweet and delicious. I think I ate most of the marmalade in two sittings. They are superb on this Vegalicious biscuit recipe.

This was also the first time I canned using a canning funnel, and I can say that it's definitely worth purchasing. You don't have to clean up nearly as many messes when you're not messing around with spooning stuff in to jars!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Creamy Sausage, Broccoli, and Pepper Pasta

When people think of lasagna or baked ziti, they think of tomato sauce.

Nothing against tomatoes, but I get really tired of the acidity, especially in the winter. Still, baked pasta dishes are easy to put together, delicious, and versatile. And they make great leftovers. That's why I came up with this creamy baked "ziti" recipe. It's perfect when you know you need to eat vegetables, but you're more in the mood for comfort food.

The Gimme Lean sausage offsets the sweetness of the red pepper and broccoli, and the peppery cream sauce ties them together nicely. I use unsweetened soymilk for this cream sauce recipe, because the sugar in other soymilk is really noticeable in savory dishes.

When you pour the pasta into the roasting pan, a lot of the sauce is going to sink to the bottom. Don't worry. While serving you can spoon it over the pasta, and after it's refrigerated, it turns solid, making it easy to scoop up as much as you like for your lunch later that week. It melts right away in the microwave.

Creamy Sausage, Broccoli, and Pepper Pasta
(8 servings)

1 lb penne or ziti or other small pasta
1 package Gimme Lean - Sausage Style
2 crowns of broccoli, florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large red bell pepper, diced
your favorite soy cheese

Cream Sauce: 
3 Tbl olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
Black pepper and salt to taste
2-3 cups unsweetened plain soymilk
2 Tbl onion powder
1 8 oz. package Better Than Cream Cheese

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. Lightly oil a large frying pan (I like non-stick cooking spray in a wok). While the pasta is cooking, break up the Gimme Lean sausage into small pieces over the pan and cook until browned over medium heat, turning over regularly. Remove from pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. In the same large pan, add the oil, garlic, pepper, and salt and cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the soymilk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the Better Than Cream Cheese. Break it up in the pot to help it melt. Add the pasta, red pepper, and broccoli and toss to coat in the sauce. Add the sausage. Cook for 8 minutes over medium heat.

4. Pour the pasta into a large roasting pan, sprinkle with soy cheese and bake for 10 minutes.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I've been saving a lot of blog posts in my bookmarks lately about fish. There is a lot of buzz these days about sustainable fishing, over-fishing, toxins in fish, fish farming and aquaponics. The bottom line of most of these blog posts is that fish are being over-fished at obscene rates and many of them are facing complete eradication. However, most of these blog posts also point out that there are plenty of fish in the sea, so why not just stop eating bluefish tuna and switch to something else?

The way I see it is different. The way corporate fisheries work is that they pretty much hunt fish down to extinction. This is how corporate fishing has always worked, including whale hunters driving many species to extinction (for example, grey whales in the 1700s). Once there is demand for a new type of fish, that type of fish will be over-fished until it too is driven to near extinction. And it's not only different species of fish to worry about. These days with giant trawlers and nets, commercial fishing operations catch more than just fish. Many other marine animals get trapped and killed as well.

Once people decide on a new "sustainable" type of fish, it will be only a matter of time before it's no longer sustainable. If you think about what the word sustainable means (of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged - according to Merriam-Webster), unless people switch to extremely small scale fishing (which isn't going to happen as long as profit can be made from catching huge amounts of fish), the finite amount of fish available will eventually disappear. It happened to the passenger pigeons not so long ago.

And over-fishing isn't the only problem. Methylmercury, DDT and PCBs are prevalent in salmon, carp, trout and tuna those three toxins are only the tip of the iceberg. When pollutants are found in the majority of our lakes, rivers and streams, why would you want to eat any of the creatures that have been absorbing those toxins? (For a great take on which fish contain toxins and why, I recommend Marion Nestle's What to Eat.)

The simple solution seems to be, don't eat fish.

This is why I particularly enjoyed reading The Face on Your Plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson this past weekend. There is an entire chapter dedicated to why not to eat fish. Masson takes not only an animal-rights standpoint in why people should give up fish, but also tackles the notion of fish farming as well. With all of the problems with factory farming of cows, pigs and chicken, why do we think the farming of fish will be any different? And it turns out it's not. Fish farming leads to pollution, the fish are given feed that a wild fish would never eat as well as mountains of antibiotics, and interbreeding with wild fish is a big problem.

With all of the evidence out there, why continue to eat fish? It just doesn't make any sense, and it's not fair for the fish who are currently being decimated, not to mention future generations who will think that fish exist only within disgusting factory farms.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Saray - Packard's Corner Turkish Restaurant

I've been living in the same neighborhood in Allston for a little over a year. Close to Lower Allston, right in between Union Square and Packard's Corner. The rent is cheap, it's close to work, and there are several restaurants with vegan options very close by. In a city like this, by which I mean a city prone to very cold, wet weather and/or snowdrifts that come up to my hips, you need a place you can briskly walk to when you're not up for cooking.

But I'm bored!

I can't go to Grasshopper--my lower intestines can't take it!
I can't go to Punjab Palace--they won't make my food without chilis!
I can't go to Allston Cafe--their food is boring, their selections are often out of stock, and their coffee isn't very good.
I can't go to Toki--it's too cold for maki!
And I can't go to Peace O' Pie because I can't afford it!

And then, there was Turkish food.

My experience with Middle Eastern food is limited to dips and kebabs--hummus, baba gannoush, falafel, beef or lamb kebabs. The first three are vegan staples. But now my experience with Turkish food is much more broad--it includes salad, okra, and tea.

We started off our meal at Saray in Packard's Corner with a hummus plate and a salad of tomato, cucumber, and red onion tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley (ezme salatasi). The salad was light and refreshing, a really good start, and a very generous portion, meant for sharing.

But the hummus.

The hummus was the best I have ever had. The texture was just right--smooth and creamy, but still robust. It had a touch of lemon juice and garlic, perfectly seasoned with salt. If you love hummus, you have got to try Saray's. It's $4 for about 3/4 of a pint, so there's plenty to share with your table.

For our entree, we had the domatesli bamya, okra with tomatoes, onions, and garlic. It was incredible. Several full cloves of garlic softened in a stew of fragrant tomato and okra, served with rice. If you're not sure about okra, this would be a great introduction.

For dessert, we split an order of baklava. When I've had baklava in the past it's been very dry, with layers of phyllo dough and walnuts lightly sweetened with honey (or agave). This baklava was soaked in sugary syrup, so it had softened considerably, and was topped with crushed pistachios.

I had the best possible experience with a new cuisine--one of our tablemates was from Turkey. When she asked if we wanted Turkish coffee or tea, I had to say yes.

I've had Turkish coffee before. It's very strong, served in small cups, almost silty with fine coffee grounds, and usually taken with sugar. It was a little late for coffee, so I decided to try the tea. The reddish amber liquid was served in a thin, tulip-shaped, transparent glass (called ince belli) and came with sugar. It was incredibly fragrant, not too strong, and had a floral taste. An excellent finish to our meal.

If you're bored with the food selection in Boston, I'd highly recommend Saray. The food was simple and elegant, and according to our tablemate, very authentic. Price-wise it's on the expensive side, but splitting entrees and appetizers kept us all full and we had plenty to take home after. The service was fast and our waitress was very friendly and helpful.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sauvignon Blanc

Jeff and I bottled 29 bottles of our Sauvignon Blanc a few weeks ago. It was an interesting process. The kit we bought came with a neat siphon gadget that has a plunger in the bottom. We figured that we'd put these in the bottles, push down to start the flow of wine, and then let up when the bottle was full. Bad idea. They filled up about half way before the siphon lost its suck and the wine stopped flowing. Then we had to restart the siphon, which can be a messy production consisting of water getting all over the floor. Finally we decided to use the siphon hose straight up without the auto-siphon at the end. Until I realized that the flow valve might be a good idea to use we made quite a mess as wine spilled all over the floor at a high flow rate while I was going in between bottles.

The wine has been sitting for almost a month, and we have opened and drank a few bottles already. I'm hoping that the mildly strong bouquet will go away with time, I think it probably comes with the sulfites that are added right before bottling the wine. Honestly, I would like to do without sulfites entirely but I am not sure how else to sterilize the wine. I know that some people do without, but I would be worried about wild yeasts giving our wine a vinegar taste. The wine kit also recommends adding the sulfites if you want to let the wine age for more than six months in bottles. Clearly, I'd like to let my wine age, so I added it just to make sure it won't go bad.

We'll try some before Thanksgiving to make sure it tastes good enough to bring to Jeff's for the holiday. If it's good by then, it'll also be good enough to give as holiday gifts in December. I just need to print out some labels to put on the bottles.

Right now our cider wine is settling. We used sparkalloids, which are a mix of some polysaccharides and diatomaceous earth, as far as I can tell on my Google searches. It takes longer to clear than isinglass, but I'm really happy not to be putting any fish bladder in my wine! For our next batch, Jeff and I will have to find a wine kit that doesn't have any pre-packed inside the box. (The first wine kit we purchased came with the grape juice as well as all the packets of sterilizers and fining agents.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Autumn Harvest Stew

Alyssa and I have been receiving shipments of produce from Boston Organics since last winter. We recently changed our shipment from the small box (1/2 fruit, 1/2 veggies) to the regular-sized box (1/3 fruit, 2/3 veggies) because quite frankly, we're addicted to fresh, varied, organic produce.

We opt out of a few items to make the box more local and tailored to what we will eat over the course of 2 weeks. We used to get lettuce, but it turned out that only I would eat it. Eating a big salad every night was nice, but not fair between the two of us. We also used to get bananas, but would rather support more local produce. They are good about offsetting items on your "no-list" with other offerings that are available that week, such as an extra squash or head of broccoli.

Last week's box included Sweet Potatoes, Summer Squash, Beets, and Parsnips. After a long Sunday of cleaning the apartment, a stew was in order. We had some onions, garlic, mushrooms, ginger and carrots laying about so we gathered all the veggies together:

and chopped them up!

In the pot they went, with a half gallon of water, a little wine, and a blend of spices. While the pot was simmering, Alyssa and I set out tidying up the apartment. I went out to get a wood saw for another one of our projects, and when I came back the apartment smelled amazing. After another 30 minutes or so, the wait was unbearable. The Autumn Harvest Stew was perfect for the appetite we had worked up from projects that afternoon. The stew was delicious! In all, it should last us for about 3 meals, and it is highly recommended that bread accompany this dish.

Next time we will likely leave out the beets from the stew:

They look really funky and are really awesome to cook with on their own, but their sweetness can dominate a dish. In this case they clashed a bit with the earthy flavors of the other vegetables.

We might be making another Autumn Harvest Stew in a couple of weeks when our next shipment comes in. Here's what's going to be in the next box:
"2 Anjou Pears (WA)
0.75 lbs Empire Apples (VT)
1.5 lbs Fair Trade Bananas (Ecuador)
2 Navel Oranges (FL)
1 head Cauliflower (NY)
0.75 lbs Celery Root (MA)
1.5 lbs Delicata Squash (MA)
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce (MA)
1 bunch Kale (MA)
1 4oz Mixed Sprouts (MA)
0.75 lbs Mixed Summer Squash (FL)
1 lbs Purple Top Turnips (MA)"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vegan White Hot Chocolate Recipe

White Chocolate What's a vegan who loves white chocolate to do? I've tried to make my own, but have never gotten this recipe to work, even after five or six attempts. Fortunately, Cosmo's Vegan Shop carries white chocolate chips, and they had a booth at this weekend's Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. I bought five bags and stuck them in my freezer.

I decided to make some white hot chocolate last night, and there are a lot of recipes out there that call for heavy cream or half and half, but I decided to just keep it simple.

Vegan White Hot Chocolate
Yield: 1 Serving
1 C soymilk
1/4 C white chocolate chips
1/8 t vanilla extract
1 oz Kahlúa (optional)

Heat up the soymilk in a saucepan, and when it starts to get foamy, add the chocolate chips. Whisk it until it melts and combines with the soymilk. Add the vanilla extract and taste. If you like a stronger vanilla flavor, put in a bit more extract. Pour into mugs and enjoy! If you'd like a more grown up version, I added a jigger-full of french vanilla Kahlúa, and it was divine.

White Chocolate on FoodistaWhite Chocolate

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Peace 'o Pie, Allston, MA

Jeff and I just went to Peace 'o Pie, the new vegan pizza shop in Allston, MA. It replaces TJ Scallywaggle's House of Vegan Pizza, which Jeff and I would hit up every other week almost religiously for their 10$ all-you-can eat buffet. It's certainly nice to have a vegan pizza place open again. It was getting a bit depressing for a while here in the Allston/Brighton/Brookline area when TJ's closed up shop and My Thai closed their Brookline location in favor of Chinatown.

It's not that Jeff and I eat out often, these days we go out once a month at best, but it's still nice to know that there are vegan places out there for the rare occasions when we don't feel like cooking, and I'm glad they exist for people who, unlike us, prefer not to cook.

For simplicity's sake I'll re-post my Yelp review of Peace 'o Pie below if you are interested. I gave them 4 stars.

I really enjoyed TJ's, so I came to Peace 'o Pie very skeptical of the idea of "gourmet" pizza. I like my pizzas plain and simple without fancy stuff overwhelming the flavor. I have to say that I was very impressed with their pizza. I got a large "Fresh" pizza, which was sauce, Vegan Gourmet cheese, pesto, broccoli and onions. The sauce was delicious, the pesto was great, and the other toppings were good as well.

I would give Peace 'o Pie 5 stars were it not for the price. A large pizza was 18$ and while filling, I feel that's pretty expensive for a pizza. The toppings were also sparse and the cheese didn't even cover the entire pizza.

As far as the ambiance goes I liked the feeling of TJ's more, but I like how Peace 'o Pie has more sitting room with tables instead of booths. I do agree with one commenter who mentioned the lack of animal rights literature. I liked that you could always find a pamphlet about something at TJ's, or the most recent anarchist newsletter. Peace 'o Pie definitely caters to the more yuppie-ish, upper middle class vegan set.

I asked the owner if he plans to do a buffet, and it's not in the works for now. I'll probably go back to Peace 'o Pie every now and again, and I'm sure if they do a biweekly buffet I'll be there rain or shine as I did at TJ's. Peace 'o Pie definitely has good service, they know how to make a good pizza, and I feel like they have a better business mindset that will avoid the financial problems that TJ's was so burdened with.

Finally, I liked how clean the place was. That was the only thing that bugged me about TJ's, was how the booths always seemed to be covered in a layer of grime. They keep the tables at Peace 'o Pie very clean, and I'm sure it'll keep looking nice as time goes on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Projects

I haven't been posting much but Jeff and I have been up to lots of new projects in our new apartment. It's nice having a kitchen big enough for two of us to work without bumping elbows trying to slice veggies.

Our vegetable garden has been a great success, so far I've eaten probably a dozen yellow plum cherry tomatoes from my giant tomato plant; we've had four ripe orange and one green habañeros for hot sauce and two ho-chi-minh chiles (one ripened to yellow). The Thai chile plant has at least two dozen tiny chiles and one has burst into a bright red color seemingly overnight. Unfortunately our strawberry plant is in recovery from some spider mites but they seem to be gone (for now) and our one strawberry is starting to get bigger.

We've also started on some bigger projects. Last month we bought a wine making kit and some grape juice (sauvignon blanc grape juice), and it's busy clarifying right now for the next two weeks. Unfortunately, our kit came with isinglass which we used as we didn't have anything else for clarifying, so our wine isn't actually vegetarian. Next time we will research alternatives and make a totally vegan wine.

I've got some pickles that have been jarred (it was my first time canning!) and they're sitting until early October. I made some quick pickles a few weeks ago and they were delicious, so I hope these come out just as good. I want to can some pumpkin butter next, and now that I have a real pumpkin to use (instead of canned), I'm excited to try that out.

Jeff and I also experimented with soda and made a batch of ginger ale using a great recipe online. We found sassafras root bark at Harvest Co-op and purchased some to make root beer. Maybe I'll try that out this weekend. The ginger ale was delicious, although it was completely unlike any commercial soda I have ever consumed. It's got a bit of a beer-y taste, which is not surprising considering the soda is made by a yeast process. There's actually a tiny bit of alcohol in the soda (nothing you can really tell by drinking one bottle of it) and the carbonation is quite pleasing. I used quick bread yeast, but I think I'll experiment with ale yeasts once I get to the homebrew store again.

In the meantime, if you want to keep up with our soda or wine making exploits, check out or Facebook pages for them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Okara Burgers and Zucchini Bread

Alyssa and I just moved into our new place, and have been unpacking boxes for the past few days. Naturally, the kitchen supplies and equipment were at the top of our list to unpack. We are loving the new kitchen space (previously cooking out of a kitchenette) and have not only unpacked all our stuff, but brewed soda, began fermenting wine, made a huge batch of hot sauce, and canned a bunch of pickles. Before this weekend we hadn't tried any of these things, but what a great time to try something new.

Along with these, I made a batch of soymilk. The thing with making soymilk is that the fresh milk is great if you can get used to the bean-ey taste. We've used it in the past with our recipes with no noticeable difference from storebought soymilk. What is inconvenient with the process is that you are left with the pulpy bean bits that don't make it through the filter into the finished product. These bean bits are called Okara, and until now we didn't have the slightest inclination to use them. They did make good compost, but they would weigh down the trash if the compost was full.

Keeping with the adventurous theme of the weekend, I searched for a recipe in The Book of Tofu. This book deserves credit, as the soy milk recipe and most other Tofu recipes in the Joy of Cooking are derived from this book. The recipe is not vegan (it calls for egg), but it's easily veganized. I used egg replacer instead of the 1 egg that it calls for, plus a tablespoon or two of water to get the burger mixture to the right consistency.

Cooking Okara Burgers with Jeff

The burgers ended up being much more cohesive that was expected. We had made bean burgers in the past that used vital wheat gluten, but the egg replacer and whole wheat flour held the Okara together quite nicely. The burgers were cooked in the cast iron skillet:

Flipping the Burgers

A few minutes of browning on each side and they were done, just in time for the Savory Zucchini Bread to come out of the oven. The Zucchini Bread recipe was from vegalicious:

Vegalicious Savory Zucchini Bread

We found that adding 1/4 C more soymilk than the recipe called for was required for the dough to be moist and cohesive. Alyssa didn't like the italian spices that was called for, so we made another one without them. I thought both were delicious, especially sopping up mushroom gravy.

Zucchini Bread

We also replaced the 1/4 C vegan butter with 1/8 C Canola Oil, skipped sauteing the onions, and didn't squeeze out the zucchini. It came out great nonetheless. It always feels good to improvise a recipe and have it turn out much better than expected. This was the perfect end to a great weekend.

Okara on FoodistaOkara

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Cupcakes

I finally got to try out my pastry decorator that I got as a birthday present to myself. Actually, I used it a while back to pipe "custard" filling into cupcakes for Jeff's birthday, but that didn't turn out too well. This time I had lovely, fluffy "buttercream" frosting (vanilla and chocolate) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and piped it onto vanilla and chocolate raspberry cupcakes.

The cupcakes were a big success at the potluck I went to, and I was very pleased at how they turned out, other than the vanilla frosting looking like it was separating a bit. (I wonder if it was the near 90 degree heat and lack of refrigeration while waiting for the T.) I topped them with some Sprinklez.

All of the recipes are straight from Vegan Cupcakes, but I did a slight addition to the chocolate cupcake recipe. Instead of extra vanilla or almond extract, I used raspberry extract. I also had some dried raspberries which I rehydrated with some sugar water, and I stirred those (minus the left over water) into the batter. The addition was subtle but pretty delicious.

More cupcake photos

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Soy Milk Prices

I wrote a post a little while ago about the Soy Scorecard and thought about it today when I was at Whole Foods. Why? Because while in the "dairy" aisle looking for Earth Balance sticks, I passed the soy milks and decided to do a price comparison.

Silk is now offering an organic soy milk again. As you may recall all of Silk's soy milks were organic until very recently. Now most of their soy milks are labeled as "natural," which (to paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut) means diddly-squat.

Silk's organic soy milk was in the range of 2.89$ (I can't recall if it was .89 or .79 after the 2.)
Silk's "natural" soy milk was about 2.69$

To compare, Whole Foods 365 brand organic soy milk was 2.39$

It's almost incomprehensible to me why anybody would continue to buy Silk in light of this. I have drank Silk soy milk, and find it to taste exactly the same as the store brand soy milks I have drank (365 brand as well as whatever Shaw's sells). Store brands tend to carry vanilla, chocolate, plain and unsweetened soy milks, so they have variety as well.

While I have my issues with Whole Foods, I would much rather support them than Dean Foods. If voting with our wallets is all we can do, I encourage everybody to stop buying Silk.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I just read an article from Cornucopia's blog about food safety, and it makes me wonder if things would be better if we could regulate against factory farming, which is what leads to increased bacterial infections of animals in the first place, instead of testing for bacteria after slaughter (or egg collection). In most cases, as far as I am aware, testing is up to the industries to perform which is not a very good regulatory procedure.

The FDA doesn't even have the authority to issue food recalls. They are all voluntary on the part of industry. This is why Nestle states that they:
voluntarily withdraw all of our retail Nestlé TOLL HOUSE refrigerated cookie dough from the marketplace. We announced the voluntary recall on Friday morning, June 19 [2009].
The US government does a great job of band-aid regulations. Instead of doing something proactive, like reducing factory farming which causes contamination of water supplies and produce (not to mention the quality of the air and the lives of people who work in slaughterhouses among many other factors) they simply allow the status quo to remain intact and ask for extra testing before products hit the shelves. I hope it will help but I'm sure that addressing the bigger problem would be much better for everyone.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Jeff and I still have (very few) holdovers from our days buying "conventional" food in "conventional" supermarkets. I don't mean conventional as the opposite to organic. I mean conventional as in products such as store brand items that have strange ingredients, and name brand products such as Coke or Oreos. More simply put, we still have some food products that go back to before our avid label reading.

Last night I made rice and beans, and was astonished to find the can of Big Y kidney beans contained sugar. Sugar? Really? People need sugar in their beans in order to find them palatable enough to eat? Glad that it at least wasn't corn syrup (or worse, high fructose corn syrup), I cooked the beans anyway and added enough hot sauce to overcome any sweetness that the beans may have retained after vigorous rinsing. (I usually don't rinse beans but I didn't want to eat sweet rice and beans, but spicy rice and beans.)

But then I took another look at the label and saw a preservative: disodium EDTA. I found it initially baffling that something that's already preserved (it's in a can) has other preservatives added to it. I think that people are so accustomed to eating preservatives that we don't stop and think about it. So I decided to consult with Professor Google and I found some interesting facts about disodium EDTA.

First, from Wikipedia: "EDTA is in such widespread use that it has emerged as a persistent organic pollutant." Which is referenced to Environmental Engineering Science, 2006, volume 23, pp. 533-544.

So clearly enough of it is being produced that it is turning into waste that can't be adequately dealt with. That in itself is a bad enough thing to make me never want to eat anything with disodium EDTA in it ever again. But what about toxicity?

I took a look at the Cosmetics Database because their website tends to be a great resource for crazy chemicals. Disodium EDTA is not only used in foods but also in cosmetics. And yes, it shows that some studies have shown effects of neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity at low doses; cancer risk; and developmental risk at high doses. Why would I want to eat that?

Finally I looked at the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). These sheets are kept in laboratories for scientists / engineers / technicians to consult when using chemicals. They state what sort of precautions need to be taken, how to dispose of the product, what its effects are, etc. Granted that this MSDS is for a very high dosage of disodium EDTA at a concentration that you would not find in food, but it is still informative.

To compare with a can of 365 brand (Whole Foods) kidney beans, the 365 brand beans contain kidney beans and water. Eden Organics brand kidney beans contain organic kidney beans, water, kombu seaweed. Doing a cost comparison would also be interesting, but I don't know how much the Big Y beans sold for. I imagine the 365 brand was probably on the order of $1, and the Eden Organics beans are likely closer to $2. But I think it's worth any possible price differential to buy beans that don't have potential neurotoxins inside.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Go Max Go Candy Bars

Edit on 6-22-2009: A commenter has pointed out that I misread the response I obtained from Go Max Go. The soybeans may very well be GM, as they do not specifically purchase non GM soybeans. This means that if you eat a Go Max Go candy bar, you are very likely eating GM soybeans.

I read about Go Max Go candy bars on a post at BitterSweet Blog and was instantly intrigued. When was the last time I've eaten a candy bar? And I absolutely loved Three Musketeers bars before going vegan.

I was instantly skeptical, however, and immediately went to the website for more information. Nothing in the bars is organic, and I was curious as to whether or not the company used genetically modified soybeans and if they knew if the soy lecithin was processed with hexane or not. I sent an e-mail to the company and got a reply back:

Thanks for your interest in Go Max Go. Our soybeans are not certified non gm. As for the soy lecithin, we truly do not know if it is processed with
hexane solvent. Ingredients such as soy lecithin are purchased for our use after they have been processed. Just as when you buy a bottle of olive oil, you are not involved with the pressing of the olives.

I'm glad that they don't use genetically modified soybeans, although I'm sure that the soy lecithin is processed with hexane. I'm sure if these candy bars were available in stores around Boston, I'd probably buy a few and try them out. However, I'm not dying for candy bars enough to go through the hassle of online ordering.

Monday, June 8, 2009


When I found out that Skittles were being made without gelatin, I was excited and bought about 4 packages. After going through one, however, I remembered how fake tasting they are, artificial and too sweet. Jeff and I still ate the rest of the packages, but I don't think I'm going to be going out and buying more Skittles.

Butterscotch Chip Cookies I feel the same way with the vegan butterscotch chips I got a Price Chopper last month. I bought two bags, and after eating a few handfuls with ice cream I realized how fake tasting they are. They're not awful, but certainly not as good as chocolate. That said, I had one more bag and wasn't going to let them go to waste. So I decided to try out this recipe for chocolate coconut chip cookies from Everyday TV.

I halved the amount of butter, skipped the coconut, and put in the butterscotch chips instead of the chocolate chips. And they came out pretty darn good! I was worried that I wouldn't have enough cookies left to take photos of them, and about four were eaten during the photo shoot. They came out a little crispier than I like (not crunchy, but not totally chewy) but that's probably because I made them small and kept them in the oven until they looked flat. I don't know much about the physics of baking cookies, but it seems to me that whenever I leave them in too long, they get crispy, and when I take them out just before that point they're still raw in the center.

Butterscotch Chip Cookies Here are the ingredients of those awful butterscotch chips:
  • sugar (at least this first one is good!)
  • partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil
  • natural and artificial flavors
  • sorbitan monostearate (emulsifier)
  • soy lecithin (emulsifier)
  • yellow 5 lake (read that wiki page, that stuff sounds awful! and it's being phased out in the UK)
  • yellow 6 lake (as if the yellow 5 wasn't bad enough, this stuff sounds worse)
  • blue 2 lake (I'm linking to this page so you can check out the complaint about stool staining, ha!)
  • salt
There needs to be a healthier, natural, alternative to this. (I have been exploring some recipes for butterscotch sauce, maybe I can experiment if I get some time with hardening it into chips or chunks.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Soy Scorecard

The Cornucopia Institute very recently published a Soy Report & Scorecard that goes into great detail about organic soy food brands. I just finished reading most of the entire PDF (I skimmed some sections), but found it to be extremely informative and also very eye-opening.

Some things I was already aware of, such as that many soy products are created using an industrial solvent called hexane. As somebody who sometimes works with dangerous solvents in a clean room, using gloves, face shields, safety goggles and ALWAYS a fume hood, it amazes me to think that solvents can make their way into my food! I would never drink (or touch, or inhale) acetone in a lab, why do I want to eat soy lecithin that was created using acetone or hexane?

Apparently there is an organic alternative to hexane production as far as soy lecithin goes. This is pretty interesting news, as I was previously unaware of such a thing. I tend to skip over products that contain soy lecithin, but if it's labeled as "organic soy lecithin" (which I have not yet seen on any labels) that means that industrial solvents were not used.

Industrial solvents are also used in the production of many food products such as energy bars and veggie burgers. The report has a listing of which brands use hexane and which don't, which is good information to have when you're out grocery shopping. I tend to skip the energy bars, which I used to eat a lot before going on my runs. I need to figure out a recipe to make my own, because they're a great, quick option if I don't have time for breakfast before a run. I used to eat Power Bars, which are not vegan, but they admit to using genetically modified food in their product. And Clif Bars, which are vegan, use hexane processed soybeans to get their isolated soy protein. I also have to wonder about how "green" a product can be when it always comes in individually wrapped plastic-foil packets.

I also found the section on Silk to be very informative. After reading Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew, I was made aware of a lot of the politics of the company, and what happened after the original company was bought out by Dean Foods. Dean Foods is also the owner of Horizon Organics, so some vegans may be wary of supporting a company that also profits off of the cow milk industry. However, they also have recently stopped purchasing as many organic soybeans, and many of their products have lost their organic label while maintaining their high price tag.

I stopped buying Silk when I started dating Jeff, because he didn't like how the company does business. I agree, I think that large businesses in general care too much about profits to be totally invested in making sustainable, vegan, healthy products. The last time I bought Silk I was aware that all of their products were organic, which at least made me feel a bit better about the company. But now I am even more steadfast in my boycott of their products, and will discourage my mom from buying me any Silk soymilk when I come home. (It's the only brand of soymilk that she knows about.)

I also won't buy 8th Continent soymilk, which was previously owned by DuPont and now by Stremicks Heritage Foods. Stremicks also makes Rice Dream and Soy Dream, which are owned by the Hain Celestial Group. I can't tell if 8th Continent now falls under the Hain Celestial umbrella, but I have no interest in purchasing a product with such a shady history. (It was originally sold with vitamin D3, which is animal derived.)

There wasn't much about Whole Foods private label products, because they refused to participate in the Scorecard product, so I am left in the dark as to where they would fall into the spectrum of companies. When I buy soymilk, I generally buy 365 brand because it's the least expensive and also tastes good. It's also organic.

I have made my own soymilk, and once Jeff and I find a good nut grinder we will start making a lot more of our own soymilk and tofu. We have about 15 pounds of soybeans waiting for us to eat. There is also the option of buying a soymilk maker. However, I find that these are very expensive and I don't like the idea of relying on an electric gadget to make my food. In the future I hope to post about making soymilk without the use of a soymilk maker, once Jeff and I get the procedure down to a science.

I guess the takeaway from this post is to stay vigilant about the food you buy. Look into the company who produces your food, find out who they are owned by (or if they are a private company). Ask questions about the ingredients, and do a Google or Wikipedia search if you don't know what they are. Find out if you can make the food yourself instead of buying from a store. Always have an inquisitive mind, and ask questions. If we have the resources, time and money to buy good food, or to make food ourselves, we should.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Cake! I saw a recipe for lemon raspberry cake on Vegalicious, the first vegan recipe blog I subscribed to way back in the day when I was learning vegan basics. Although the recipe was posted in early March I immediately sent it to Jeff and told him that this is the cake I would want for my 25th birthday. (Jeff and I don't buy each other gifts, instead we make each other baked goods for birthdays.)

The cake is absolutely divine. Jeff made it with limes instead of lemon, and the entire kitchen smelled like key lime pie while it was baking. The frosting was a bit thick, I like creamier frosting, but it was still delicious. I had just purchased a pastry decorator and had a hard time piping it through the nozzle, and it was my first try with the decorator. Hopefully I'll get more practice with decorating baked goods in the future. (I was also only able to take one or two photos because my parents, Jeff and I wanted to eat it instead of waiting forever for me to get a lot of shots.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Baby Lettuce!

Lettuce The bucket full of lettuce seeds out on my fire escape has grown into a bucket full of baby lettuces! Jeff and I have been eating away at these since they were wee sprouts, and now they are actually big enough to make a somewhat substantial salad.

I'm excited that they're so big. My parents are visiting tonight, and I plan on making some mushroom risotto (easily veganizable recipe courtesy of Joy of Cooking, my favorite cookbook ever), seitan and a salad including our baby lettuce, and some tomatoes and pepper. Maybe the locally grown lettuce will almost offset the fact that our rice was imported from Thailand.... Or maybe not. But home grown lettuce is really easy to grow and certainly tastes better than anything purchased in a store!!

[More Photos]

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Plastic Waste (May 13-19, 2009)

I know that plastic waste may not seem to have much relevance to food, but for me it does. I don't buy much stuff, but I do buy a lot of food. Until recently, when I started reading the blog Fake Plastic Fish, I just bought whatever was cheapest in the store without giving much consideration to the overall impact of that decision. Although I have been using plastic tote bags for about 5 years, and rarely used plastic produce bags, I didn't think twice about using plastic bags to fill up on bulks at the co-op. I didn't take into any consideration if my condiments were packaged in glass or plastic bottles.

When I started to read Fake Plastic Fish, it turned on a light bulb in my brain. It made me realize that while I may complain about plastic packaging, it's ultimately my decision to purchase (or not purchase) plastic packaged items. Yes, this is much easier said than done, but I have been in the process of changing my purchasing habits over the past few months. I have a long way to go but have already made a lot of progress.

I have a list on my freezer of a lot of food items I use that are made with plastic, and while I don't have alternatives for everything yet, there are some things (like pizza dough) that are so easy to make that I instantly made the switch.

Recently, Beth from Fake Plastic Fish issued a challenge for her readers to tally up their plastic waste for one week. I have wanted to do something like this for a while, but I feel like now is the perfect time to finally get around to seeing how much plastic I go through in a week.

I have to preface this list by noting that this is only household waste (nothing from work is counted, although I had a lucky week where I created no plastic waste, I have a very eco-unfriendly job). This is also waste generated by two people - Jeff and me.

Here is the tally for May 13-19, 2009:

May 13:

  • Tempeh Package - I love tempeh, and as a vegan it's one of my main "meat" sources. I don't tend to like faux meats -- tofu and tempeh pretty much do it for me, and tempeh is my absolute favorite. I know this is something that I can eventually learn how to make myself, and I will, but for now I am scared off by the idea of fermenting my own soybeans. For now I will continue to buy tempeh, and it is unfortunately packaged in plastic. (Although, I do feel like I have done a little bit to help by purchasing Soy Boy tempeh, which is a great small company, and I boycott LightLife products, which are made by the Evil Empire ConAgra.)

  • Scotch Brite Sponge - Jeff (who is also eager to help catalog my plastic waste) asked me if a sponge is made from plastic, and if not, could we compost it? Apparently the disgusting smell coming from my sink wasn't coming from my sink, it was coming from my sponge. Gross. I tend to use sponges over and over for several months, and it's high time I get rid of this one. I looked online and while the spongy base is made from wood pulp, the green scouring top is made from nylon fiber. In the future I will make the switch to Skoy Cloths, but in the mean time I have several more sponges that I bought over a year ago sitting in my pantry waiting to get my dishes clean. (For the record, I intend to put the spongy bottom into the compost and see what happens.)

  • Scouring Pad - I've had this thing sitting around for ages, and I don't know why I didn't get rid of it awhile ago. It long since lost its ability to get my cast iron skillet clean (and I've since switched to a grill brush which should last much, much longer than scouring pads). It's also Scotch Brite, so it's similarly made from nylon fibers. Needless to say I won't be buying these again.

May 14:
  • Tempeh - Again.

  • 5 Soy Sauce Packets - I'm not sure if these are made out of plastic but I think so, and am going to include them. I usually always have tamari on hand in the fridge, but I was out, and had these soy sauce packets from take-out sushi way back when, so I used them while making fried rice.

May 15:
  • Nip Guards - I'm an avid runner, and even though I wear a sports bra, it's not enough to prevent painful chafing during my long runs (>6 miles). Unfortunately I haven't found anything better than nip guards, and not only is the packaging (not present) plastic, but so are the things that the nip guards are on. I'm not sure if the nip guards themselves are plastic but I'm including them just in case.

  • Tempeh - Yep, I love tempeh.

  • 2 Drinking Straws & 2 Small Cups - I went back to my hometown to visit my family, and that means I went out to eat. (I almost never go out to eat when I'm home in Boston.) I meant to ask for no straw, but I forgot. This is my straw, Jeff's straw, and the mixing straw (talk about useless plastic!) from my gin and tonic. The two cups are from asking for BBQ sauce for my french fries (both me and Jeff). I thought I'd get a bottle.

May 16:
  • 2 Drinking Straws - Went out to eat AGAIN and I ordered a drink and got another straw. Oops. Also, they put whipped cream on top. I get so lazy in my veganism here in Boston where I only go out to eat at vegan restaurants that I forget that "normal" restaurants put whipped cream on things like Piña Coladas. The other straw/stirrer is from Jeff's margarita. (You can't even drink through those tiny things, so it baffles the mind why they give them to you in the first place!)

May 17:
  • 2 Plastic Windows - I came back and had a lot of mail. One piece was a solicitation from a local charity that came with a plastic window. I have mailed them back asking to be taken off of their mailing list. One was a mailing from an insurance company from when I got hit by a car door last year. I should hopefully never be getting any mail from this insurance company ever again.

  • 2 Plastic Bags - I ordered two books from two separate people. I bought them used so I didn't think I'd get any plastic in the packaging. So I was surprised to find these two book sized plastic bags enveloping my books inside the bubble wrap mailers. These are books, they don't need to be housed in three layers of protection!!! I don't order books often but when I do I guess I need to ask for no plastic.

  • 2 Chopstick Wrappers - I go to Grasshopper's buffet every month. Sometimes I remember to bring my own chopsticks. Sometimes I forget and use their chopsticks, which are packaged in plastic. Grasshopper is currently the only place I've been to in the Boston area that has plastic (instead of paper) chopstick wrappers. Genki Ya on Harvard Ave is the only place I know of that has reusable chopsticks. (One of the wrappers is missing from the photo, it's probably in my pants pocket somewhere.)

May 18:
  • Plastic Wine Thingy - I love wine, and it seems that the cheap wine tends to have real corks. However, this one also had a stupid plastic thingy around the cork, that I thought was foil when I bought it. It's hard to tell what you're going get, sometimes it's foil, sometimes the cork is cork, and sometimes there's foil around a screw top.

  • Ice Cream Lid Seal - One thing I can't live without is delicious vegan ice cream, and Trader Joe's Soy Creamy Black Cherry Chocolate Chip is about as good as it gets. When I first bought this ice cream I'm pretty sure they didn't have plastic seals, but now they do. I'm not sure this is something I could give up, even though there is plastic involved.

  • Pasta Box Window - Why do these windows exist? People already know what pasta looks like, and on the off chance they don't, like 99% of all other products out there the company could just put a photo of pasta on the cardboard box. Jeff has a pasta maker, so we will definitely start to make our own pasta. At least the windows on boxes are better than the plastic bags of pasta they sell at Whole Foods.

  • Corner of Plastic Package - I just wrote a detailed post about my stance on food products, and then I went and bought vegan butterscotch chips at Price Chopper when I was back home this past weekend. They are definitely not food by any real definition, but sometimes a vegan just misses eating butterscotch! I'll figure out a recipe for the stuff but in the mean time I'm going to make some mean cookies.

May 19:
  • Plastic Baggie - This is from a razor Jeff just bought. Yes, the razor was packed with plastic and had packing peanuts (not sure if they are starch or polystyrene) but this is going to prevent the future consumption of plastic disposable razors. I will probably also use it, so that will be less plastic razors used by two people!

While this isn't a lot of stuff, this is certainly a lot of stuff that I could live without. I do think that it reflects an outlier week, in that I went home and that accounted for a lot of waste (6 straws and 2 plastic cups out of 30 total items), but I can't just make excuses. I have learned to be more vigilant about packaging in online orders (I made an order for some personal care products yesterday and asked for them not to be packaged in plastic), I have learned to be more vigilant about asking not for straws (although I normally eat out three times a month, and neither place I eat out at uses straws).

I have also continued to make some lifestyle changes. Jeff purchased a real razor. I bought a grill brush for my cast iron skillet (it's plastic, but better and more robust than sponges). I recently purchased cloth sanitary napkins and am excited not to have to purchase any more of those awful plastic ones from CVS.

And there are some things I still have to learn. Making tempeh would probably cut my normal plastic waste by half. Learning how to make large batches of pasta for consumption over the course of a few weeks or months would also lead to less plastic from the pasta containers. Maybe if I ever learn how to make soy ice cream, I can reduce my plastic tally even further!

One final thing is to note that I don't think that any of the stuff in this tally is recyclable here in Boston. I will probably put the two plastic cups (labeled as #6, polystyrene) in the bin, but everything else is not specified on Boston's recycling website, and I know they don't recycle plastic bags. So unfortunately they will go out with my trash, which is, sadly, in a large plastic bag (I will switch to paper bags in the future).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Great Michael Pollan Article

I just came across a great interview between Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and Michael Pollan on Alternet this morning.

The two books that made the biggest impact on the way I eat are Tom Robbin's The Food Revolution and Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. (His book The Omnivore's Dilemma was also great but didn't really change the way I ate.)

Michael Pollan's main thesis in In Defense of Food is that people shouldn't eat too much food, they should eat mostly plants, and they should eat only things that actually are food. In other words, don't eat food products. He goes on to define food products, and basically they're the product of industrialized food. High fructose corn syrup (and many other corn products made cheap by corn subsidies) is a big indication of processed food. As are many other chemicals.

Being vegan also helped me to recognize the disgusting ingredients that are in foods these days. As a beginner label reader, I at first only looked for ingredients that would make me re-shelf the product, whey, casein, milk, butter, gelatin, lard, etc. But after reading Michael Pollan's books, I became a more avid label reader. Why should I eat something that contains Polysorbate 60 (an ingredient in Cool Whip and Twinkies)?? I even try to limit my consumption of Soy Lecithin, which is prevalent in more foods than you would think, because it's made using hexane, an industrial solvent.

(Not to mention, many foods that use cheap corn (or soy) products are probably using genetically modified corn (or soybeans), and I hope to write a post about that in the future.)

Back to the article. It's a really great overview of Michael Pollan's arguments about how the food system really affects us in ways that may not be immediately apparent. A large part of the health crisis is likely related to food (and another large part in industries creating all of these toxic chemicals in the first place, and being totally unregulated, but that's another rant for another day).

It amazes me to think of how much effort went into mandating companies to put ingredient labels and nutrition information onto foods, and how much of an enlightening thing that can be for consumers if we only LOOK at it. But so many people have bought into the idea that we don't have enough time to read labels, or cook healthy food, that people don't read the labels, or don't care what the ingredients are. We've been sold on the idea that we can live better through science that we may be wary of giving a critical eye to what's in our food. For me, it's scary to think that I ate so many food products for so much of my life, but ignorance isn't bliss. Read the labels, and start eating real food!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Garlic Shoots

One thing I really love to do (although not more than eating) is reading. I can easily go through 10 or 15 books in a month, and I started saving oodles of money when I made the switch from bookstores to my local library (or three local libraries, to be more precise). I read a lot of nonfiction, and one subject that I read a lot about is food. I'm interested in the industrial food complex, and how to avoid it as much as possible. This includes being vegan, eating as much organic produce as I can afford, avoiding food products (read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food for more information on food products), and trying to grow as much food as I can indoors.

It's amazing how simple it can be to grow some things indoors. I have north facing windows, a tiny apartment, and until recently had quite the black thumb, but I have still managed to produce quite the little indoor garden. However I didn't know until last summer that it was possible to grow a few veggies with little to no effort involved.

The first thing I learned how to grow was scallions. This is real simple: take the bottom part (with the root attached) and either plant it in a small pot, or stick it in a jar of water. They'll grow really big, and you can just cut the top off when you're ready and eat it. It'll grow back. I'm not sure if there's a limit to how often it'll grow back, but it's certainly better than going to the store to buy more!

Garlic Shoot The second thing I learned was in an awesome resource, Urban Homestead. It was a short paragraph on growing garlic. Similarly to the scallions, you simply plant the garlic clove in some dirt and prune and eat the shoots. I had my first garlic shoots yesterday and they were simply delicious. They are very garlicky, without going through the effort of peeling and chopping up a whole clove.

I've also planted an onion (it was sprouting an awful lot in my fridge), but I have no idea yet if the shoots are edible. But it looks cool and hasn't died (yet), so I'll keep it going for as long as I can. Also indoors I have some peppers sprouting (thai, ho chi minh and habañero) as well as some seeds just planted (red, green and jalapeños). On my fire escape is a bucket full of lettuce plants that are somewhere between a sprout and baby lettuce. They're still delicious (just slightly spicy) in a salad.

I've probably sunk about 20$ into the whole deal, mostly the lettuce seeds (which were 7.50$ at Whole Foods) and also including potting soil. But if the pepper plants grow to produce actual peppers, I'm sure this is money I'll easily be saving by not going grocery shopping as often. Also, it's cool to grow your own food!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Banana Split Cupcakes

Banana Split CupcakesWhat to do when there is a pile of ripe bananas sitting in your fruit bowl? I decided to make something different than the old standard banana bread. As I'm always up for frosted baked goods, I decided to rip open Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and see what it had to offer.

Never one to simply follow a recipe as is (and because I couldn't find any pineapple preserves), I opted for cherry preserves instead. I don't think I've ever had a banana split with pineapples, and there's nothing more quintessentially banana split-like than the cherry on top! I also used chocolate chips instead of grated chocolate. They reminded me of the banana chocolate chip cupcakes they sell at the local coffee shoppe that I used to snack on before going vegan.

I was sort of bummed not to have a pastry bag. One day I'd like to make my cupcakes look professionally frosted, but for now I made do with a butter knife. Maybe I'll ask for a pastry bag for my birthday. But I topped them off with Sprinkelz and a maraschino cherry. Sprinkelz are awesome, they're totally hippie, without any of the crappy high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils that your standard sprinkle will be loaded with. I found them at the Honest Weight Food Co-op (I seriously can't express my love for that place enough) and stocked up enough to get me through the periods of time when I can't make it home to fill up. But I have found them at the local co-op, Harvest, just not in bulk. (I think the individual boxes you can buy may have a plastic liner inside, which is a big reason I opt to buy in bulk.)

Banana Split Cupcakes This was also my first attempt at taking nice photographs of food. I generally take atrocious photos of food. My excuse is that the lighting in my apartment is awful, so I may as well not even try. The thing is, I'm a generally good photographer when the photos I'm shooting are outdoors or in a really well-lit indoor area. But I'm not so good at macros or poorly lit situations. I just borrowed a copy of Digital Food Photography from the Boston Public Library, and while it's not an awesome book, it at least inspired me to break out my tripod and see what I could do with just the overhead light in my kitchen.

Over the next few months I hope to improve my food photography skills. It'll be a great excuse for me to build some reflectors and play with props, maybe even check out Good Will or local thrift stores for some neat dishes to photograph with. And, of course, when I move to my new place in September I'll have plenty of south facing windows to give me a good dose of natural light. No excuses!

Monday, April 13, 2009


FreezerJeff and I purchased a 50 pound sack of all-purpose flour the other day at Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, NY. I love HWFC, they're leaps and bounds ahead of Harvest (Cambridge, MA co-op) in terms of what they stock, how much they stock, the bulk section, and awesome staff members. I always try to make it over to HWFC every time I visit my parents in the Capital District, NY.

Jeff just mixed up 6 batches of pizza dough to freeze. It lasts forever frozen, and whenever we feel like making a pizza we can just unfreeze the dough in the morning. Pizza is a great easy meal to make, you only need pizza dough, some sauce and whatever your favorite vegan cheese is. (I prefer Vegan Gourmet's mozzarella.) Toppings are optional, but you can use whatever veggies are sitting around in the fridge.

In other news, we bought a bunch of seed packets at HWFC as well (three kinds of peppers and lemon mint) and also bought two 4-5 gallon buckets for 50c each. (Have I mentioned how much I love HWFC?!) We're soaking the pepper seeds tonight and will plant them tomorrow. (When they get big enough they'll go into the buckets.) I'm excited to have some peppers to eat within a few months. I just hope enough sunlight gets into my apartment. Having a north-facing window can be rough, currently I only have plants that are suitable for low light. (Except for my Super Basil which has held on through me forgetting to water them for several days and not getting any direct sun between roughly October and two weeks ago.)

KneadI'm excited to start all of these new projects. Cooking and baking is always enjoyable, and planting our own veggies will just make it even better. There's nothing like plucking a veggie off of a plant and eating it as fresh as it can possibly get. This will also be an experiment in how well the plants can do indoors. Hopefully when we move we'll have a place with more sun, but maybe for now we can breed them to be as hardy as possible.

Looks like we'll be eating a lot of pepper pizza in a few months!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Jeff and I bought some horchata a few months ago and probably drank the half gallon in a single evening, it was that good. Later on I found this recipe for horchata online, and filed it away for later use.

This morning I decided that a snowy Sunday was the perfect time to test it out. I drained the rice, dumped it into my stainless steel pot with 2 quarts of water and let it all sit for three hours. Boiled it, simmered it, let it sit. After pureeing it, it has turned into a gelatinous glob of milky, ricey water, something that looks more like a science experiment than food. To say that it's "filtering" through the cheesecloth would be an exaggeration. It just sits upon the cheesecloth, mocking me for following the instructions on the recipe so precisely.

Jeff decided to add some more water, and I guess we'll see how that goes. We've coaxed almost a pitcher-full through the cheesecloth in about an hour's time, and after mixing it thoroughly once it's finally done draining, we'll season it with vanilla and sugar and add any more water as necessary. I only hope this stuff tastes really good to make up for all the effort!

In other news, I finally got around to reading The Book of Tofu today. I'll post a review later.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Looks like the cold virus has settled in to my apartment (and myself, unfortunately) so Jeff and I haven't exactly been up to our usual standards of gourmet cooking. That said, we did manage to eat a few more of our fruits and veggies.

We obtained a beautiful marble rolling pin for a very reasonable price (10$) on Craigslist, and it makes a much better flattening device than foil wrapped around an empty wine bottle. We enlisted both this and the Joy of Cooking to make some tortillas. Eaten with tempeh, rice, refried beans (canned, as I haven't tried making refried beans from scratch yet), some home-made hot sauce and our avocado, we had a delicious burrito night.

The next morning was the antithesis of the gourmet spectacle, and we made a hastily-strewn-together batch of mashed potatoes for breakfast. We were going to eat french fries (yes, for breakfast!) but settled on mashed potatoes for the quickness of boiling over baking. I also put away the remaining mandarin orange to hopefully ward off the cold, but to no avail.

Jeff has been helping out with the romaine, bean sprouts and broccoli by making salads with walnuts and fresh basil from my windowsill garden.

Yet to eat:
  • broccoli
  • bean sprouts
  • romaine
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 granny smith
  • 1 red pear
  • 1 orange

Thursday, February 26, 2009

First Post

I want to start keeping track of the produce Jeff and I get from Boston Organics. We used to rarely eat produce, which, of course, flies in the face of conventional (but inaccurate) "vegans only eat salad" wisdom. I can also share some great recipes that I find on the Internet.

Also, maybe this blog will finally compel me to learn how to take good photos of food (eventually), although maybe I'll just ditch the blog after a few weeks like all of my other attempts at blogging. We'll see.

We got our first produce shipment on Tuesday (the 24th) and here's what we've used so far and what we have yet to consume:

Down the Hatch:
  • 2 red apples (not sure what kind) - snack
  • 1 granny smith - snack
  • 2 green pears - snack
  • bunch of 6 chives - garnish on orange tempeh, tempeh & rice, mashed potatoes
  • 1 mandarin orange - breakfast
  • 1 orange - juice & zest into orange sauce for tempeh
  • head of romaine - salad
  • bean sprouts - salad
  • broccoli - orange tempeh
Yet to Eat:
  • broccoli
  • bean sprouts
  • romaine
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 granny smith
  • 1 red pear
  • 1 orange
  • 1 mandarin
  • 6 potatoes