Health Food

The other night we ate green. Everything was green. The kale salad, herby quinoa tabbouli, and sumac tofu with baby bok choy and broccoli was delicious and the perfect image of what my dad imagines me eating every day. If only I could eat this every day. Kale salad is one of my favorite things and the tabbouli was a great way to use up lots of fresh herbs from our CSA (maybe a little unconventional with cilantro but it worked really well in contrast to the parsley). I purposefully bought sumac last week to make this tofu after seeing Amey post about it here. All in all an awesome meal.

The tabbouli was based on the one in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, the kale had a golden beet, tahini, soy sauce, and maybe lime juice? Too many kale salads to remember specifics.

A New Kitchen Staple

Saturday night I went to the World Food Festival that’s going on in a nearby city. I’ve gone with my mom for several years with one goal. Ethiopian food. It’s one of my favorite cuisines and is particularly hard to find where I live. Thankfully Minneapolis isn’t too far and they know the joys of injera and w’et. So this year I bee-lined for the Ethiopian Association’s stand and ordered a veggie platter. I always get such a warm reception, especially when I get it with injera and ask for an extra piece. But I wolfed it down far too quickly and was then left sad and injera-less. The only other treats at the food festival that are vegan are drinks so this was dinner.

Now I’m home and rather sad that I have to wait until next year. Or do I? I talked to one of the cooks at the stand and asked where I could get injera and he recommended a halal store that would carry it, or if I needed a lot he gave me his phone number to call if I ever needed lots of it. So I have the injera source, the next was the seasonings. I’ve been meaning to make berbere and niter kibbeh for a while but just never get around to it. Until I was forced to clean out my cupboards yesterday and realized I had everything for it. By the afternoon I had a 1/2 c. jar full of berbere and a bunch of niter kebbeh. By the evening I had an almost empty jar of berbere and much less niter kebbeh. But I also had an awesome Ethiopian feast.

I used the second berbere recipe on this site and the niter kibbeh from Kittee’s zine Papa Tofu. I believe it might be out of print now, but don’t despair! She just came out with Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food which I have on my list of cookbooks I need to buy. The other recipes I made yesterday, including the niter kebbeh, were from Papa Tofu. In the foreground is the shimbra asa w’et (chickpea “fish” in onion wine gravy baked instead of fried), back right is the yemiser w’et (lentils in spicy red gravy), and back left is my version of atkilt wat (cabbage dish).

From Scratch

A while back I finally sat down and made enchilada sauce from scratch. I’ve wanted to do this for years but never got around to it. This goes for a lot of things ‘from scratch’. I cook a lot of stuff at home and try not to rely on store bought portions of recipes, but sometimes it’s just easier. Canned sauces, tins of curry paste, pre-mixed curry powder. I suppose to a lot of folks cooking anything at home means ‘from scratch’ but to me it means you started out with identifiable single ingredients. Someday I’d love to make homemade curry pastes and powders. Maybe seeing how easy and tasty the enchilada sauce turned out will inspire me. But for now I’m happy with my sauce.

I’m trying to recall now, but I think this was based on the recipe in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I liked it a lot but would like to use a mix of peppers next time, maybe anchos, guajillos, and New Mexico chiles.

Enchilada Sauce

4 dried ancho peppers
1 tbsp. oil
1 med. onion
3 cloves garlic
15 oz. can of roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped

Remove seeds and stems from peppers and cover with boiling water. Heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and cook for several minutes, until it begins to color. Add garlic. Mince soaked peppers and add to onion, if it seems dry add some of the soaking water. Cook for a couple minutes then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until it has thickened. Add cilantro and take off heat. When slightly cooled run through a blender or food processor.

This made enough for one 9×13 pan of enchiladas. The recipe I used for the unpictured final product was from the Fall 2011 Penzey’s catalog, a recipe submitted by Dane Kuttler. I was intrigued when I first saw the recipe because you boil the sweet potatoes in vinegar and soy sauce. I just had to try it. I usually make up my own filling as I go along but it usually includes sweet potatoes, can of black beans, can of diced tomatoes, and spices.  For this I tried to stick with the recipe but clearly changed a few things for vegan and health reasons.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

5-6 ww flour tortillas
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled if desired
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. Daiya vegan cheddar cheese, divided
1 batch enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Wash and chop sweet potatoes into bite sized pieces. Put the potatoes, soy sauce, and vinegar into a medium saucepan, cover with a lid, and boil until potatoes are soft and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, cumin, and ancho until fragrant, be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the black beans and a little water or more vinegar and turn heat. Let it warm through then take off heat.

When the potatoes are done slightly mash then, then mix the black bean mixture and potatoes together. Add 2/3 c. vegan cheese and mix in. Put a third of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Fill the tortillas with a few good spoonfuls of filling and place seam down in pan. Continue until pan is full. Spread the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle on the rest of the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sauce is slightly bubbling around the edges of the pan. Cool slightly and enjoy.

Staples

I’ve seen a lot of vegan mofo posts showing the contents of freezers. I whipped out my camera and opened the freezer only to realize there was no way I was going to show off its contents. First of all, I share the freezer with my mom. So my frozen tofu is right next to her bag of shrimp. Instead I bring you, the vegan cupboard.

My mom got sick of my stuff taking over so she gave me one cupboard all to my happy little self. The bottom shelf is mostly spices and staples like vinegars and canned food. The second shelf is grains/flours/ carbs of different varieties. And the top shelf is everything else that doesn’t get used too often, which the exception of the coffee and nooch. Now those spices on the bottom are just a sample. Here’s some more.

These are mostly my Indian spices and some random others. There is another drawer and shelf in the kitchen full of spices. I know, I need help. But I never have bland food! An example: buttercup squash-chickpea curry with seeds of cumin, coriander, mustard, kala jeera, fennel, ajwain, and some maharajah curry powder. And some shaved up asafoetida. Salt and pepper of course.

Dirty Dirty Cookies

I’ve always been a slightly asexual person. So I’m not entirely sure why I decided to make the Garrick’s “vagina variation” sugar cookie testers. Especially since I’m taking them to a potluck of people I don’t know! What the hell was I thinking. Oh well, it will break the ice and they are damn good. I’m also bringing other stuff but pictures later.

Creepy, aren’t they? The one on the left is tinted with cocoa, and the right one is just vanilla. Instead of stuffing them with marzipan like the recipe calls for I just tinted some of the dough pink. You can even sort of see the alien bits underneath the cocoa and vanilla cookies, because hot pink isn’t a color seen in nature.

 

These are actually a lot of fun to make. Probably because I couldn’t stop giggling. I’m sorry, sometimes you just have to giggle like a kid. Though next time I go to a feminist gathering (or a pure romance party god forbid) I’ll make these. And keep a straight face.

I also made the gingerbread apple pie from Vegan With a Vengeance. Well I used the crust and the baking directions. The filling was the stuff my mom and I canned a few weeks ago.

And this Indian spiced rice salad is the bane of my existence right now. This is what happens when I start trying to make my own recipes. I like it, but it seems like its missing something. I added a lot of different spices so maybe its a matter of not adding enough of each. Or maybe I’m just overanalyzing because I’ll be feeding it to other people tomorrow. It basically had Jasmine rice, roasted potatoes, squash, and carrots, onions, mushrooms, coconut milk, tomatoes, fava beans, and too many spices to name.

Workplace Fun

I have to admit I really like my job. I talk to people all day about food and cooking. The biggest thing that the ‘warehouse’ tells us is to talk to people. Not as in, “this is our new product, buy it” but “haven’t tried that spice yet, what do you use it for?” We always joke that we learn more from our customers than they learn from us. Its frowned upon if we try to b.s. an answer. If we don’t know an answer we are supposed to say straight up I don’t know. Or I have no clue, let me go look.

 

Its great that we have something in common with everyone who comes in the store. We like to eat. Otherwise why would anyone buy spices? But when it comes down to what we eat, it gets a little uncomfortable sometimes. The biggest question I get is always about whats good on <insert dead animal carcass here>. Every once in a while I get a really obnoxious customer and I want to go off on a vegan tangent about human and animal rights…but I don’t. I’ll tell them what my mom likes or that I don’t eat meat but other people have liked this or that.

 

I wish I could bring in vegan cookies and just set them on the counter for people to sample. But I think there is probably some health code thing going on there. I bring in treats for my co-workers and they all rave about it. One of the reasons my boss hired me was because of my love for food and that I am vegan and like to experiment. We’re having our work bonfire here in a few weeks so I have to go all out and bring something amazing to win over my carnivorous co-worker Ted.

 

But now I’m off to work. The standing all day isn’t much fun, but the employee free box makes it all worth it. And having fun at work.