Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good night, blog

Things have gotten quiet on this blog lately. I’ve been meaning to post an explanation of sorts for a while, and here it is.

I started my blog in what felt (to me, at least) like the heyday of blogging. It seemed fun and also exciting – theoretically, people from all over the world could read what I wrote and gaze at pictures I posted.

My blog in its early days was rarely about food – more like random musings, links to things I thought were cool, the occasional weird photo, and sometimes showcased arts and crafts projects I did.

At some point after I left Cairo and moved to Seattle, it evolved into a food blog as I got more interested in cooking and baking. I'm still cooking and baking frequently, and I'm still reading other people’s blogs, food related and not. I'm trying to move away from over-reliance on (or slavish devotion to) recipes. But I just don't really feel like blogging about it for the time being.

So, thanks for reading. Right now I’m in Cairo, absorbing the heat, and enjoying things being slow.

And if you’re interested, I twitter.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Homemade Ice Cream

The weather is getting hotter (at least sometimes), and ice cream is most definitely called for. Imagine my delight while flipping through old copies of Vegetarian Times* at the library and encountering a feature on homemade vegan ice creams.

But homemade ice cream means nothing to me if it requires an ice cream maker, which my kitchen is not outfitted with. Happily, the first recipe I saw, for a peanut butter coconut ice cream, was free of such demands, although it did call for a blender, which is in my possession.

The ingenious technique used is to first blend all the ingredients together, then pour the mixture into ice cube trays, freeze, and blend again into creamy refreshing indulgence.

You can find the recipe at the Vegetarian Times website here. The article had two other recipes too, which called for the blasted ice cream maker, but I'm wondering if I could apply the same technique for creating other ice creams.

Incidentally, I used a very thick homemade oat milk flavored with vanilla instead of the soy creamer (which I never buy) and the ice cream turned out great, so don't let an absence of soy creamer in your home stop you from making this. And creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy for the same reason.

If you're interested in the subject of ice cream making without a machine (like me), there's an informative post about the subject here at the blog A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise.

*Speaking of Vegetarian Times, I can't in good conscious bring up the magazine without pointing out that they have a fantastic article about nut-based cheeses in this issue, one of which I tried.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yummy persian food

A few weeks ago I took a one-time Persian cooking class at PCC (a natural foods supermarket in Washington state) about Persian cooking. It was my first time trying Persian food and it was wonderful - flavors totally different to anything I'd experienced before. I was mistaken when I thought it would be similar to other middle eastern cuisines (Lebanese, Egyptian, etc).

Yesterday I decided to try and recreate Khoresh-e Fesenjoon, which is Pomegranate-Walnut Stew, traditionally served with chicken but for our purposes with chicken-style seitan (a vegan "meat" made of wheat).

Since I just got a new cookbook called Yellow Rose Recipes, I was excited to find a recipe for chicken-style seitan. It was my first try at making seitan, and while I think it was not super-successful (didn't follow the recipe carefully enough, although it was pretty basic), I still threw it in for the stew.

I put too much lemon in there and didn't process the walnuts finely enough, but otherwise it was pretty good, and you should definitely seek Persian/Iranian food in your life one way or another. We also got to try a cardamom-infused baklava in the class, so I'm hoping to try that soon too.

Khoresh-e-Fesenjoon- Pomegranate Walnut Stew with Chicken-style Seitan

2 cups walnuts
1 large onion, diced
4 tablespoons oil
1 package chicken-style seitan
1 cup pomegranate juice concentrate - more if you're using a thinner pomegranate juice
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar - maybe less; this turned out quite sweet
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
2 teaspoons salt

Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground, but be careful not to over-do it. You want it to be fine crumbs. Set aside.

In a large pot, saute onions in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the seitan and ground walnuts and mix. Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least one hour. Stir periodically.

Serve over basmati rice.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I've been wanting to post about - and make - koshari for a very long time, and somehow the forces convened about a week ago. Koshari is what hamburgers are in the US - fast, cheap, and ubiquitous, but luckily, vegan. The problem with koshari is that it's made up of about a hundred different things: rice, lentils, macaroni, chickpeas, super-fried crispy brown onions, and a garlicky sauce to go over everything. So each individual component is pretty simple, it's just kind of a production to make them all together.

There really is no recipe: get some rice and macaroni cooking, have your chickpeas ready (canned or dried & cooked), and fry the heck out of a chopped up onion, until they are dark brown and crispy. This takes a while. Then mix it all up and spoon some sauce on top.

Really, the only thing to worry about is the sauce, which is called daqqa. I used a recipe I found in the cookbook "My Grandmother's Egyptian Kitchen," with a few modifications.

Daqqa (tomato sauce):
6 cloves garlic (I used 4)
salt and red pepper (I used cayenne)
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 cups tomato juice (mixed 2 tablespoons of tomato paste with 2 cups water)
1/4 vinegar

Crush the garlic, salt, and red pepper together. Fry in oil until light golden brown. Add tomato juice and cook until sauce thickens and oil rises to the top. Add vinegar and bring to a boil.

The sauce makes a lot, you could (or should) probably halve it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

VCON Chickpea Noodle Soup

On a chilly day, after a not-quite fight with the bus driver, come home to Veganomicon's Chickpea Noodle Soup (follow link for recipe). Miso gives it a vaguely chickeny (not in a bad way) savory taste. Adding extra leafy greens (I used collard greens) is a good idea. Oh, and I used rice instead of noodles to use up leftover rice, throwing it in about 5 minutes before the soup was done.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vegan YumYum's Roll-up Lasagna

I've been in a bit of a kitchen slump recently. We have all these fruits and vegetables in the fridge and I'm at a loss as to how to combine them successfully.

Happily, one of the vegetables was a gigantic eggplant, so I got to try out Vegan YumYum's eggplant and pine nut rolled lasagna. It was a bit labor-intensive since I had to fry eggplant slices, but turned out delicious and totally worth it. I subbed some of the pine nuts with cashews since I ran out of the pine nuts. It's really rich, what with the fried eggplants and pine nut cream, so a good one for these wintry months.

The lasagna is also tofu-free and, as pointed out by Lolo, much less messy than other cheese-free lasagna's because it's rolled up. You can also totally adapt the filling - spinach, tofu ricotta, etc.

If you're wondering, the brown flecks are bread crumbs.

Friday, January 16, 2009

kitchen flops: semolina pudding

A semolina pudding recipe I came across in Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian sounded too intruiging to pass up. Semolina (usually used to make pasta) in a dessert?

I made a few adaptions to the recipe, the worst being subbing yogurt with tofu cream cheese, which killed it, and resulted in a funky dessert (bad funky). In taste tests throughout the process (read: licking spoons), it was great, but I guess that tangy cream cheese flavor the overall taste off.

The semi saving grace was an optional rosewater glaze that gets put on post-baking. To make it, combine 3 C confectionar's sugar with 1-2 teaspoons of rosewater (I used one, and even less might be better) and 1/2 cup of water (or soy milk) and whisk til smooth. Try it anywhere a regular glaze would go, like scones, cakes, or doughnuts if you're that kind of girl or boy. I'm barely a glaze girl at all, so we'll see what becomes of the cup or so that remains.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tiramisu & Pasta Della California

Things have been busy. I went to Boston really briefly, for a few days, to visit my cousin who was also visiting.

Before I left I made some note-worthy things: the Pasta Della California from Veganomicon (recipe here) and the tiramisu from the Candle Cafe cookbook. The pasta was incredible, and highly recommended - who knew lots of garlic, broccoli and avocados would taste so incredible together?

The tiramisu was really good as well - very light, and with tofu used to replace all that dairy.

Boston was fun, despite the freezing weather (snow, snow, snow), but it served an important function in making Seattle seem warm in comparison.

Besides that, I recently got a book entitled "Creating a Life Worth Living" by Carol Lloyd which is quite similar in subject to "The Artist's Way," if you're familiar with it. The idea is to figure out what you really want to do with your life & career through a workshop-style week-by-week program with exercises to do and questions to think about and the like.

In an attempt to fill up the countless of hours of my day, I joined a gym that just opened in my neighborhood and am meeting with a personal trainer today. This is scary because, despite a brief gym-intense phase as a college freshman, I have avoided and disliked gyms for much of my life.

My other endeavor began last night: a writing class I signed up for many moons ago had its first session yesterday. The class seems like it will be really focused on pushing towards a structured and eventually completed piece ready for publication, whether it's a book chapter or essay. The other class members seem really diverse in their backgrounds and also what they want to write, so I think it should make for an interesting experience. I feel nervous about exposing myself through my writing like this - but I'm sure I'm not the only one in the class, so here goes nothing.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Pancakes make things better. I really wanted to make these after I saw them on Bethany's blog (scroll down). They're from the Candle Cafe Cookbook, so it was an added bonus since I haven't made much out of it yet. The texture is really spot-on, and of course with maple syrup and margarine, they were worthy of being the first breakfast of the new year.

Occasional art, comics, food, and other things of less interest to the general public.