Comfort Food and Comfort Beverages

I was so proud of myself.  I’m at my mom’s again to aid and assist so I brought my computer, my camera, and a determination to upload the pictures of the food I’ve made the last few days. I got home and checked my school stuff and email and was all set to upload photos and…

It died. I remembered everything I needed in my flurry to get here on time, except the power cord for my macbook. So it will wait a while. Instead I’ll just have to explain what I’m eating in explicit detail.

Continuing my mofo trend, I’m having comfort food. But this is my vegan comfort food. It was one of the first recipes I made that was vegan and its still one of my favorites. Its very fast, very cheap, and very customizable.

Its beans and tomatoes. Tonight I went the quick chili route and got out a pot, dumped in one can of diced tomatoes, one can of rinsed black beans, spoonfuls of chili seasoning and bbq seasoning, and let it cook until it thickened up a little. I spent all of four minutes doing this then opened a Woodchuck and waited. I’ll get to the Woodchuck in a minute.

The first veg cookbook I used consistently was Student’s Go Vegetarian. It was perfect because most things have one or two servings. Not everything was great (I tried making vegan pancakes and they weren’t so great. I’m glad Nick cooked his recipe for me and made breakfast my favorite meal again). But the black beans and tomatoes with polenta (or whatever its called) was so perfect and filling after so many nights of ramen or salad. I mix and match beans and flavorings with diced tomatoes and my favorites are:

Black beans, Ro*Tel tomatoes, chili spices

White Northern beans, Italian seasoned tomatoes, Italian herbs

Garbanzos, diced tomatoes, Turkish seasoning or a curry

Pinto beans, Ro*Tel tomatoes, taco seasoning

I could go on, but these are my favorites. Let them cook down and serve with rice/pasta/crackers/bread/tortillas or add some vegetable broth, a few extra veggies and make soup. Its amazing how happy this simple pairing can make me. Though I do find it odd that I never make this at home. Maybe because I like to cook more involved things there or maybe its just that by the time I get to my Mom’s I’m either off work and tired or just too lazy to do anything.

Back to the Woodchuck. I do not like beer, with a few exceptions. I don’t like anything hoppy and malty is ok but only a handful of days out of the year. Cider on the other hand is welcome. At the monthly Vegan Drinks in Ames I’ll treat myself to the Strongbow they have on tap, but thats about it. That changed tonight when I tried Woodchuck’s seasonal fall cider.

If I didn’t feel its silly to use expletives when writing something so even keel such as beans and tomatoes I would string out a list of words beginning with ‘holy’ and ending with ‘this is amazing’. Its like drinking fermented apple crisp. It tastes like fall. Its appley, cinnamony, comforty, you get the picture.

Unfortunately I just checked the site and its all done at the end of this month. I, apparently, missed the start of it in August. So now I’m left to stock up on this so I can enjoy it during the holidays – wherever I happen to be for them.

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Comfort Food

I don’t know what tipped me off but this afternoon was just sort of meh. I was irritable for some reason and I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe something to do with going in more circles with the bank we’re trying to open an account with. Or the gray day. Or the aches and shooting pains in my muscles. Whatever it was, I needed something that would take my mind off everything and result in something delicious. Since it was dinner time (and I don’t need anymore sweets, I already dipped into the leftover cream cheese frosting today) I decided to make my requisite holiday meal.

Apparently other families have roasts and turkeys and stuff on holidays. We have Swedish meatballs. And lest that get too monotonous we might add a pan of ham balls too. We love ground meat I guess. The hardest meat for me to give up was my mom’s meatballs. But that is no longer, since I figured out my own recipe that is eerily like hers, only without the risk of e. coli.

In an attempt to be really Scandinavian we even had lingonberry sauce with our meal. Cranberry sauce is overrated, this stuff is where its at. I’d like to say we’ll eat it on fancy things now that we opened the jar. But I foresee a lot of saltine crackers and toast with lingonberries. Though I’m hoping to get at least a little bit on some crêpes.

Back to the meatballs. Picture, then recipe.

  • Grandma’s Swedish Meatballs – Veganized
  • – 3/4 cup crushed saltine crackers or panko bread crumbs (20 saltines)
  • – 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • – 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • – 1/2 teaspoon cloves (nutmeg can be used instead)
  • – 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • – 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • – 1 (12 ounce) package soy crumbles (I like Boca)
  • – 1/4 cup soy milk
  • – 3 tablespoons oil
  1. – In a food processor combine crackers, onion, pepper, cloves, nutritional yeast, gluten, and 3/4 the burger-style crumbles until it begins to comes together.
  2. – Pour into bowl and add the remainder of the crumbles.
  3. – Add all but 2 tablespoons of milk and test if your “meat” will form a ball.
  4. – If needed, because the mixture is too dry, add the additional milk. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  5. – In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ‘meat’ balls in oil. Let them brown well before trying to move them or they’ll fall apart.
  6. – Now either cool and store meatballs until the next day or bake them with mushroom gravy at 325ºF until the gravy bubbles and meatballs are heated through.

Vegan Spasagna

In my family its a tradition that on your birthday you get to go to the restaurant of choice. I think this ‘tradition’ has been around since we were old enough to pick somewhere other than McDonad’s or Pizza Hut. When I was younger I always wanted to go to Cheddars. Its your standard American chain restaurant with huge portions and a dessert called the ‘cookie monster’ which was a chocolate chip cookie baked in an iron skillet, topped with ice cream and eaten until you burst. But thats another post. Today is about the Spasagna. This was always my favorite. Maybe just because of the name.

My theme so far this month has been comfort like food. Hot, easy, really filling stuff. We have a white board in our house with ideas for meals and I added spasagna yesterday and its already been made. It called to me. So did the pound of opened angel hair pasta in the cupboard. This was really easy and very well received by the rest of the occupants of the blue house (I even got the highest compliment, a “better than mom’s”). This uses the cashew ricotta from Veganomicon, so if for some reason you don’t have this vegan cooking bible ride out into any unsavory weather and get it.

Vegan SpasagnaI sauteed some greens and red bell pepper to mix with the white sauce but any veggies would work (or none at all). Next time I want to try mushrooms.

Spasagna

1 lb. long pasta – spaghetti or angel hair

1/2 lb. greens, deribbed and chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 recipe cashew ricotta from Veganomicon

(When making the ricotta add 3 tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1/3 c. soy milk and 3/4 tsp. arrowroot)

1 lg. can or jar of tomato sauce or 4 c. homemade sauce

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray or oil a 9×13 pan. Cook pasta according to directions, when done rinse briefly with cold water. Begin sauteing vegetables in a little oil. Make cashew ricotta. Once veggies are soft take off heat and cool slightly before adding the ricotta. Mix together pasta and cream sauce, make sure to use a big bowl or pot. Spread half the tomato sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with all the pasta mixture. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top and bake for 30-40 minutes, until hot. Allow to rest for 10 minutes so everything can set.

Little Africa pt. 1

After dealing with so many small children last night I wanted some comfort food. No traditional comfort food though. So I cooked up some collards and a potato. With smoked paprika, garlic, onion, rosemary, and thyme I created a Spanish version of colcannon. And it really hit the spot. 

This morning I embarked on the great cookie extravaganza. But first I had to try the persimmon I got at the coop a few days ago. 

But onto the adventure. Here we have maybe 1/2 the cookies I made this morning. 

Aren’t the Africas cute! I’m really excited to decorate them. I want to make a few that are physical representations of the continent. I thought a political map would be really cool, but there are far too many small countries. Poor Togo and Burkina Faso would never translate into frosting. So I think I’ll do a few that highlight South Africa since thats where my friends do their work. The small cookies will be decorated with single color bases them designs on them resembling the cloths and artwork of some of the many unique and amazing African tribes. 

 

Alas, VeganMoFo is over today. I’m proud of the number of posts I made. And I will try my best to keep up with the bloggin’ and writin’. Have a happy halloween everyone!