Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vegan Indian

Food is on my mind...

My hunt for a vegan Indian cookbook has been in vain. Granted, many Indian cookbooks are mostly vegetarian, and it's just a matter of substituting (your favorite margarine/shortening/vegan butter here) for ghee, and soy/rice/almond milk for milk. For some things. But not others.

There is one vegan Indian cookbook out there - A Vegan Taste Of India but it doesn't get rave reviews and I'm not convinced it's very authentic. Many other vegan cookbooks have Indian cooking recipes in them, amidst a plethora of other dishes from other parts of the world.

My two favorites for South Indian cooking are Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan and a book that appears to be available only in India called "How to cook?" (it's a literal translation, hence the question mark). A similar good one is called "Cook and See."

Having grown up eating and preparing vegetarian Indian food (especially the lesser-known South Indian food), I have a little expertise in this area. Indian cooking requires some very specific spices that may be hard to get, and some specific techniques that make certain seemingly impossible-to-make-just-right foods surprisingly simple. And it turns out making most things vegan is a breeze. A few, however, require a little skill and experimentation.

Is there anyone out there who'd be interested in new ideas for veganizing specific Indian dishes in an authentic way? Would you be interested in seeing some of those recipes here?

Feedback welcome.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Applicious

Edit: photos now!

Today (this was Sunday) I did some major baking-supply shopping: molasses, baking cocoa, flour, marzipan (which I might eat before I use...), chocolate, cookies, and other necessities.

So I promptly locked all that away (except the marzipan, just for a taste) and made more apple-licious creations!

I tried: Apple jam

Used this recipe. I added a tbsp of agar-agar to help it gel and a pinch of ground cloves for taste. I blended it afterwards to make a smooth paste.

Then I had lots of apple peels left, so I made a spicy Apple Chutney.

In oil, I sauteed a pinch of asafoetida, then added the peels, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1.5tsp salt, and 2 tsp chili powder. Cooked covered 5 min until softened, then 2 more min uncovered (until the liquid is gone). Then ground medium-fine (not a paste but no recognizable peels) and jarred.

It's REALLY spicy so it'll go best as a side-dish to chapatis or on bread.

Of course, all the cores, etc. got composted. In retrospect, I could have boiled them (sans seeds) to make a juice. My mom also told me about some pretty apple-seed necklaces people make. I'd like to make one of those someday.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over My House

This post is brought to you by the letter "A." As in Apples. Edit: photos now!

As in Apple sorbet, based on this recipe here

A is also for "Altering," because I used 1 big fuji apple and 2 red delicious, and I used grape juice instead of apple (because I didn't have any), and I skipped the apple chips (see previous) and didn't use an ice cream maker (see previous). It's icy, but refreshing. In the future I'll put it in my little

A is for Apple cupcakes. I finally made cupcakes!

I veganized this recipe.

I used whole wheat pastry flour, and I couldn't find the nutmeg, so I skipped that, and used 3 of my small home-grown apples instead of the large granny smith. For the eggs, I used 1.5 tsp ground flax in 3 tbsp water.

For the icing, I used the recipe here.

I used 1/2 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance, organic) and (my first time...) made confectioner's sugar from sugar and cornstarch. I added a dash of cinnamon to the frosting and left out the lemon juice. And lots of whipping. And a bit too much soy milk. Smells and tastes yummy.

The cupcakes smelled more like muffins (maybe because of the flour). But they sure are good. Especially after the melty frosting. And they are almost gone. Already.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dreaming of cupcakes


I have recently had an obsession with cupcakes. Why? Who knows. But all I can think of are soft cupcakes with gooey centers and creamy frosting. Dark chocolate ones, with black centers swirled with vanilla buttercream, or chocolate chip ones, or lemony vanilla ones with flat colored sprinkles. (feel free to drool now)

But vegan cupcakes are hard to come by. Instead, I ordered up a baking mix (see below) and an icing mix from VeganEssentials, and for an arm and a leg and an afternoon, made up some chocolate-chip cupcakes with cream-colored icing. They were delicious. I ate three before dh had even one. And then, in a fit of generosity, I gave four to a neighbor. She called me up later to say her family loved them at breakfast, and I nearly shouted into the phone, grinning ear to ear, "They're vegan!" I think she had guessed already.

Since then I've eaten up the remaining icing and scraped the bowl clean.

But still I dream of floating cupcakes. I dream of standing at the kitchen counter and catching frosting as it falls. Of licking crumbs from my fingertips. Of biting deeply into a cupcake so it fills my mouth with moist cake and oozes cream.

And then I came across this blog, and the book shown here: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World! Am I the last vegan on earth to discover this? Perhaps.

Add to this my new issue of VegNews that boasts several delicious recipes for desserts (including chocolate cupcakes with cocoa frosting!) and I'm regretting giving away my electric beater. But my arm can use the exercise.

Now I'm making plans to go buy cocoa powder and chocolate chunks, turbinado sugar (I've been using agave), and shortening. Mmm-mmm.

Eco-tip: Going vegan or vegetarian can save a lot of resources, from water to land to fuels. If you've been on the fence, now is a great time to start. Learn more at GoVeg.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Takers for Freebies? Seven #36

Hmm, looks like no one wants my handmade cards :( Oh well. They are off to Goodwill or a hospital or something.

I got rid of a LOT of things this past weekend. We had a bunch of people over and gave out goody bags:

- about 30 small gifts, including utensils, candles, small boxes, earrings etc
- about 10 kids' books
- about 30 handmade gift bags and ribbon to tie them
- set of candle holders

We also gave away a lot of apples from our tree. They have now turned from tangy and green to yellow/red and SWEET!

The books were part of what came IN (mostly from mom, but also more housewarming gifts)
3 vases, 3 small oil lamps, 2 candles, 2 tea lights, 2 plants, 2 decorative dolls, and the books to give out (see above)

So that makes 61 things out (I won't count the books since they came in) for a total of 544.

All in all, good to see that more went out than in. A few of the lovelier INs will also be off to India (or regifted...) very soon.

Eco-tip: Are you turning things off when you leave a room or go out or go to bed? A routine check can save you money and energy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Seven Things #35, More Free Cards

This week I'm offering up a bunch more greeting cards I made over, plus a few envelopes. Leave me a note if you're interested and I'll send you a pack.

This is what went OUT this week for my Seven Things:

- chipped stained-glass vase (beautiful but now dangerous!)
- tube of perfume (this scent gives me a headache)
- baby rattle I made (as a gift)
- 1 pack of greeting cards
- music CD (as a gift)
- CD case
- VCR head cleaner (no more VCR!)
- returned book "Walden Two" (great read)

That's 7, for a total of 483. I also returned "Walden Two" and a few things to my mom.

Things that came in: wine glasses, disposable tupperware, "instant" foods, wine (all from a friend who visited, bought stuff, and left it all!), small ceramic container (a party favor)

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Compact Post (and Seven #34)

I now consider myself off The Compact. The reason is that I have been buying and receiving things that I feel are violations, or I condoned the buying of things, like a stuffed animal my in-laws recently bought a baby, gifts of soap I took earlier this year to India, some new books for my library, and a set of curtains. We are also looking into new covers for our sofa and other house things.

Okay all of that is an excuse, and the Compact really has saved me a lot of unnecessary purchases, but I can no longer in good conscience say that I am Compacting. Instead I am a Compacting wannabe.

I'll start by chronicling things that came INTO our home new (marked *) and not new this week:
- groceries*
- vegan goodies (peanut butter cup, cake mix and icing, sheese), sweets*
- binoculars (free gift as award from dh's work)*
- weight scale (returned)
- stuffed animal* (but given away)

And the other seven things I gave away:
- pair of shoes (1 heel broke off)
- cassette recorder
- scarf
- another skirt/petticoat
- small box of makeup powder
- baby dress I made
- small bottle of glue
- compost bin and worms (we now have a Biostack that came with the house)
That's a total of 476.

And that's that.