Friday, January 29, 2016

You Won't Believe it's Vegan Mac n' Cheese

You know why I'll never be a food blogger?  Because, I will never make food during the day, when there's good lighting, just so I can take pics for this blog.  I take pictures at night, in my badly lit kitchen, right before I eat.  I forgot to take a picture of this until after I ate my first bite....oh well.

So vegan mac n'cheese.  I think most people have a hard time with the idea of going vegan because of dairy.  Everyone loves cheese, right?  It's the reason I was a vegetarian, and not vegan for a long time.  We'll talk about the plight of this poor dairy cows some other time.  Today, I want to talk about this delicious, non-dairy cheesy, creamy mac n' cheese.

One thing I've learned on my vegan adventure, is dairy is really unnecessary.  This recipe sounds crazy, but somehow it makes this amazingly creamy mac n' cheese.  Basically, you blend boiled potatoes, carrots and onions with nutritional yeast, cashews, water, garlic powder, coconut milk, lemon juice and a pinch of paprika.  Somehow it magically turns into an amazing cheese sauce.  Even if you don't want to go vegan, I would imagine a mac n' cheese with veggies and nuts is way healthier than dairy and cheese...just saying.

Now, I had to double the recipe to have enough non-dairy cheese sauce to cover a whole box of elbow macaroni.  My two like their mac n'cheese with a whole lot of sauce.  I also quickly pan toasted some panko bread crumbs with coconut oil, which I think made this dish perfect for me.

I would give you the recipe, but that seems wrong since the lovely Lindsay from Vegan Yumminess came up with this recipe herself.  Plus, you should check out her site, because her pictures are way better than mine.  So go check it out on her blog, you won't be disappointed!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Product Review: Morning Star Farms Buffalo Wings

For the record, we do not eat a lot of processed food.  Really, we don't.  I make our bread, pasta, condiments, sauces, ice cream, name it, I'm making it.  I am a true believer in knowing what's in my food.  The only way to do that, is to make it yourself.

The only reason I 'm doing all these product reviews is because we were at the store and I thought, let's buy a variety of stuff.  This way, if we need a quick weeknight meal, we won't need to get take out.  It's hard to find vegetarian take out around here, even harder if you want vegan take out.

I had higher hopes for these Morning Star Farms Buffalo Wings....why don't they call them nuggets, I don't know....than I did for the Morning Star Farms Riblets.  Considering they grind up chickens into a paste to make chicken nuggets, my guess is that starting with plant-based paste would be easy enough.  Oh, you didn't know that's how they make chicken nuggets? really should paying more attention to what you're eating.  I could do without the fake vomiting noises of this non-gory video, but it illustrates how gross chicken nuggets are.

So back to the Morning Star Farms Buffalo Wings.  They really do taste like chicken nuggets, but better.  Probably because there's no ground up chicken bones and feet included....just saying.

These were spicy, but not too spicy for the average American.  I do like my wings sauced, so I had some weird buffalo sauce in my fridge, that while the color of wing sauce, somehow contained no butter.  I don't usually eat it, it's more of my husband's thing.  But I dunked these in that weird sauce, and voila!  I was exactly what I would come to expect from a boneless chicken wing.

WOULD I BUY IT AGAIN:  Yes...but only if I was a vegetarian, not a vegan.  Both taste and texture were on point.  I think even meat eaters would accept this an acceptable substitute for the meat paste version. Heck, they probably wouldn't notice the difference.   (FYI: No one paid me for this review and I bought these wings with my own hard-earned cash.)

UPDATE:  No, I would not.  I never realized how carefully you had to read labels.  I took for granted that this product wouldn't have eggs or dairy, but apparently they do.  Why would you put nonfat milk in chicken nuggets?  Super disappointed Morning Star.  I feel like I was bamboozled.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kosher Does Not Mean Humane to Me...or the Chickens

If there's one thing I heard a lot when I started talking about being vegetarian (which I have been for a while now, the vegan thing is new) is that I should just eat Kosher meat. In theory, the butchering process is more humane.  But then you watch this (my 10 yo watched this, so it's not gory, fyi)....

Hello?  Religious people of the world, are you listening?  While I may not understand, or agree with your religious beliefs, I am quite certain that if there is a God, that showing no mercy, empathy or compassion for other living creatures is not going to get you into Heaven or wherever you think you go.  I couldn't believe those people carrying around those poor, terrorized chickens by the wings as if they picked up a bag of carrots!  I hope that more Jewish groups and communities start fighting harder to end this barbaric ritual.

On a separate note, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary seems to be an amazing group.  We're going to take a road trip up there this Spring.  Consider making a donation, we did.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Something to Remember this Winter

Product Review: Morning Star Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets

I will admit, my expectations were incredibly low when I bought the Morning Star Farms Hickory BBQ Riblets.  While I only recently became vegan, I actually gave up pork about seven years ago.  My daughter loves pigs, so we stopped eating them.  People thought we were crazy.  Every thing's better with bacon, right?  Guess what, it's not.  It's more unhealthy.  It clogs your arteries more.  If that's your idea of better, then yeah...

Anyway, I used to love eating ribs a million years ago.  I didn't believe for a moment that these would be the same.  I was sure it would just be mushy, weird nuggets shaped liked ribs.  Man, was I wrong!

The texture was close-ish to ribs.  The BBQ sauce was really good!  Like, lick your fingers good. The hubby said they tasted like a McRibs with better BBQ sauce.  I can't confirm that since I haven't eaten a McRib in, quite literally, over twenty years.  He used to live primarily on fast food, so I trust his opinion on that.

With that said, it will not fool any of your meat eating friends into believing they are boneless ribs. They were good on their own, but I bet they'd make an amazing rib sandwich.  They recommended microwaving them over baking them in the oven, which surprised me.  I'll have to try them in the oven next time and see the difference.

WOULD I BUY IT AGAIN?:  Yes.  The only downside was there were only two, I guess you could call them, half racks of ribs.   If you're feeding a few people, you'd need a few boxes.  (FYI No one paid for me for this review, and I bought this box with my own hard earned cash).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Recipe Review: Food52 Vegan Breakfast Tostadas

These should actually be called Black Bean Tostadas...I have no clue why it's listed as a breakfast item.  Either way, they are delicious.  

Basically, you cook the black beans.

Mash them up.

Throw together a surprisingly simple cabbage slaw.

Heat up corn tortillas, top it with the beans, slaw, some avocado slices and the cashew queso.  I would prefer to eat this like a taco, than a tostada, but that's just me.

For the record, I never take great food pics.  My house is dark.  My camera is just okay.  And since there is a whole thing online about posting other people's recipes and I don't want to get involved in any crazy.  They don't have the recipe on the Food52 site, but it is listed over at Edible Perspective.  Or of course, buy the book Food52 Vegan

I am slightly obsessed with the cashew cream sauce.  I tell you, that smoked paprika...if used with a light some amazing stuff.  Basically, you throw cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, chili powder, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, lemon juice and water in a blender.  It looks gross, I know.

Then you blend it up and ta da!  You wind up with slightly over a pint of this amazing cashew queso.

Both husband and child approved of this dish.

Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Dishes for Any Kitchen

People that weren't raised vegetarian, or vegan, have hard time understanding how to put together meals where meat isn't the main part of the meal.  The reality is, there are a million dishes out to waiting to be made that don't involve meat, are healthier and delicious.  Food52 Vegan is a great introduction for people looking to change the way they eat.

Obviously, vegetarians aren't only eating salad and pasta.  I search the web all time for ideas, and one of my favorite sites is Food52.   While, I will admit their site has so many vegetarian recipes, I thought this book would be bigger.  That's the only negative I can give you about this book.

It's great to see that vegan recipes aren't that much more complicated than any other recipe.  I made the Go-To Pancakes this morning, and I was leery at first.  Coconut oil and no butter?  More baking powder than I would normally use, for sure.  But they turned out great!  Who would think an eggless pancake could be any good?  My husband ate seven if that gives you any indication of how good they were.

Then for lunch I tried the Mushroom, Pecan Lentil burgers.  My husband liked them and my daughter loved them.  I thought they were great, but not as firm as I hoped, in fairness I overcooked my lentils...  I also used walnuts instead of pecans, but I doubt that make a big difference.  For the record, this recipe says it makes four big or six  regular burgers.  I made eight!  I guess her idea of a regular burger is way bigger than mine.  I froze the extras, so no big deal.

WOULD I BUY IT:  Yes.  The photography in Food52 Vegan was beautiful. The recipes were easy to follow and didn't have a million weird ingredients that I didn't already own.  It was easy to see how substitutions could be made.  As someone new to the world of vegetarian and vegan cooking, I felt like this book provided a great beginners look at how to make vegan food in a non-threatening, not overly complicated way.  (And for those you that read my other blog Apparently, I've Been Domesticated, yes this is a repost...whatever.)

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.

Yes, I Have Yet Another Blog...

I started a blog a million years ago about being a Single Mother by Choice.  Then I wound up dating and then marrying my high school boyfriend, so talking about being a single mom seemed crazy since I was no longer since, so I stopped writing that blog.  Then I started a blog about my kitchen remodel, which evolved into gardening and other stuff.  But the stuff I really want to say, the things that really bother me, wind up on my very private Facebook page.

So, I decided it was time to stop bombarding my Facebook friends with rants of the things that annoy me. That's why I thought I should start a new blog.  A venue to vent about the things happening in the world that irritate me.  I won't talk politics, we'll here all day.  Instead, I thought I'd focus on my newly found journey into being a vegan.  You see, I grew up an omnivore.  Eating meat bothered me, but, like most people, I tried to ignore how that food got to my table.  Then I read  an article on CNN by John Sutter, The Argument for Eating Dog.  He's so right. Why are we all pissed about people eating dogs, cats or even horses, when there's no difference in our eating cows, pigs and chickens?

If you read that article and watch this video, and still feel, "Eh, whatever.  Pigs taste good, so it's okay if we torture them first if it means we get to eat them."  Then, say that, own it!  Stand by the courage of your convictions and admit that you don't care.  There is nothing more annoying that people that stick their heads in the sand and pretend that horrible things aren't happening.  So own it, say it doesn't matter; but then, don't complain about people eating dogs.  Don't be a hypocrite.

I will post videos on here.  Nothing as graphic as PETA does.  Mostly, nice videos of rescued animals. I will start posting recipes.  If I try commercially made vegan products, I will report back to you.  Of course, I will also spend ample time on my soapbox, because this is my blog and I can.  If you're not interested, that's okay.  Feel free to live a life full of reality TV with your head stuck firmly in the sand regarding things that actually matter.  Some of us are just meant to follow the crowd.

Just saying.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is This the Secret to Stopping Whiteflies?

I am growing kale, broccoli and cauliflower. The kale is surviving despite the whiteflies, but I'm having a lot of issues with everything else. I have tried every natural pest control I could think of.

(BTW, I was finally able to harvest some of the Green Macerata Cauliflower.  This picture is from when it started producing florets.) 

Back to my point, I recently discovered on Youtube.  That's when I found this segment on organic pest control.  Now, if you fast forward to just before the 12 minute mark, you'll see the information on using Neem Oil  and Dr. Bronners Sal Suds Soap.

My friend, who actually manages an organic farm in Vermont (that's not her actual title, I can never remember...she's a horticulturalist something or another.)  She recommended Neem Oil too, so when I watched this I was sold.

Actually, I was sold when I saw him using the Hudson 99598 Fog Electric Atomizer Sprayer.  That thing looks amazing.  Maybe I'd actually spray my whole garden, instead of small sections because my hand pump one is so annoying.

I wasn't sure which Neem Oil  I should buy, but then I watched this video.

I don't know if that was all just good marketing, but whatever.  I decided to buy the Super Clean Neem Oil, as opposed to the other brands.

Now, you can buy Super Clean Neem Oil and the Dr. Bronners Sal Suds Soap on Amazon (yes, these are all affiliate links, as notated in my sidebar).  But I will say the best price I found...and no, I do not get compensated in any way for saying this...was from Boogie Brew.  I got the bundle at $39.95 for 16 oz. of both the Neem and Dr. Bronners, with free shipping.  I think it arrived from California to Jersey is maybe three days.  I was impressed.

Now to the sprayer.  No, it's not cheap.  But in the big scheme of things, I have a pretty big garden, I grow lots of things that my family then lives off of all year.  I would rather spend the extra to keep my garden organic, then to pay the high prices of store bought organics.  Justifying my big purchase, done.  Anyway, the best price I found on the Hudson 99598 Fog Electric Atomizer Sprayer was on Amazon.  My understanding is when it's full, it weighs about 30 pounds, so the Hubby is going to build me a little wagon type thing to pull it around in.

Of course, I purchased everything while Jersey was still experiencing a weirdly warm winter.  Then two days after it all arrived, everything outside started to freeze.  I will update everyone on how this works out when I try it all in the spring.