Roasted root vegetables are delicious and beautiful to boot. Tonight’s dinner was a colorful mix of winter squash, beets, turnips, leeks, and carrots, all from our Full Belly Farm CSA. We also had chard sauteed with a drop of olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice and a rice blend on the side. Sometimes, like tonight, I like to throw a quarter cup of lentils into the rice to add flavor, texture and protein. A whole foods meal like this is filling, delicious, and inexpensive. Not to mention you finish dinner feeling nourished and not like you overdid it. That I’m saving for tomorrow.
It’s been a soup kind of week. Tonight we had Hot and Sour Soup with Wood Ear Mushrooms and Napa Cabbage from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Except ours used button and oyster mushrooms instead of wood ears and kale instead of Napa cabbage. We use what we have around. It’s spicy and sour and light, but filling. Veganomicon has never done me wrong. Every recipe I’ve tried is spot on. Tonight’s was no exception.
I think I was destined to be vegan. From the time I was young, I never really liked the taste and texture of meat. It had to be disguised or in the form of a nugget in order for me to eat it. One of my favorite dishes that my mom made when I was a kid was pepper steak. It was definitely not authentic, but it still had a wonderful flavor that I love today. Back then I used to ask her to make pepper steak—without the steak. These days I make my own version, using her recipe, with a few modifications. It’s fast, easy, and delicious and still one of my favorites.
3 Tablespoons water
½ medium onion, sliced into rings then halved
1 large green or red bell pepper or 2 medium
1 jalapeno pepper, optional
1 can diced tomatoes
1 package gardein beefless tips
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari or Bragg’s if you prefer)
Add the water and onions to a frying pan and turn the burner on medium, steam the onions for about 3 minutes until they begin to turn translucent, add peppers and steam for an additional 2 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes, including the juice and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the beefless tips and cook until warmed, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with the soy sauce and mix until there are no lumps. Add to the pan and mix in, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens. Serve over rice and give thanks to my mom for delicious recipe.
Do you have family recipes you’ve recreated in a vegan version? I’d love to hear about them.
We’ve cooked so many incredible meals over the last few days that I haven’t been able to keep up with posting them, so here’s a sampling.
Friday night we had roasted butternut and kabocha squash soup. It was so easy – cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, brush with oil, and roast for an hour on 400 degrees. Allow to cool enough so you can handle them then scoop out the “meat.” We have a Vitamix, one of humankind’s finest inventions, so we threw the squash in there with 2 cups of vegetable broth, one cup of soy milk and some nutmeg and cinnamon and cranked it up on high for five minutes until it was steaming. Et voilà, you have soup. If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can use any blender or stickblender and blend until smooth and transfer to a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for five minutes.
For dinner Saturday night, there was roasted vegetable pizza. Homemade whole wheat crust with roasted garlic, squash, eggplant, onions, and kale. Over a movie with a glass of red wine, it really hit the spot on a cold, rainy night.
Today I participated in a vegan food “feed-in” with a group of friends to encourage visitors to Oakland’s Grand Lake Farmer’s Market to give meat-free options a try in time for Thanksgiving. We gave out 200 “day after Thanksgiving” vegetarian sandwiches – Tofurky sandwiches with vegan mayonnaise, dressing, and cranberry sauce. The sandwiches flew and we gave them all out in about a half hour. The idea was to show shoppers that there are delicious vegetarian alternatives to turkey and that people can still have their favorite post-holiday leftovers even if they give birds a break. The result—overwhelmingly positive. One passerby told us, “It tastes like Thanksgiving.” Our sandwiches were cholesterol-free and no birds had to suffer to make them.
Feed-ins are a fun and positive way to share an idea with people. As the saying goes, “the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I think “man” in this case really means human because who doesn’t like to eat good food? Could there really be a better way to encourage people to eat vegetarian foods than by giving them samples so they can see for themselves just how good eating vegetarian can be?
Our feed-in today (and many we’ve done in the past) was made possible by VegFund. VegFund is a non-profit that “empowers vegan activists worldwide by funding and supporting outreach activities that inspire people to choose a vegan lifestyle.” Advocates can apply in advance to VegFund to get reimbursed for food purchases for food sampling and other events. In 2011 alone, VegFund sponsored more than 550 vegan food sampling events. The organization also funds “Pay-Per-View” screenings in which individuals are paid a nominal fee, usually $1, to watch a video about factory farming. In the end, the viewers can choose to donate the dollar back and most do so, their lives and outlook on food production changed forever.
No matter what your food issue – local food, organic food, fair trade, etc. giving away food samples is an upbeat way to get people to start thinking more about where their food comes from and how it’s produced. This Thanksgiving, I’ll be thankful for VegFund and for all the people who tried our samples. I hope it will inspire them to think about a new way of eating.