Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Excuses, Excuses...

I've had so many posts lined up and just haven't been able to sit down and get to writing. Last week, I was away on vacation with some friends and that allowed me to answer the question:

Can you make it through a week on a cruise ship as a vegan?

Answer: Yes, but with a few difficulties. I'll expound later.

Before leaving, I attended a cooking workshop that sponsored by The Cancer Project. They advocate vegetarian/vegan diet for health reasons. I learned so much and could not wait to post, but getting ready for my trip really put a damper on my lofty blogging goals.

Two days before leaving, the heater in my house kicked the bucket. Obviously this was quite a problem with the cold temperatures. Since the central air bit it shortly after I bought the house, I needed to replace both. That left me with the option of canceling my trip to be there for the installation or ummmm, let's see: Moving half my basement from one side to the other, finding a place for my birds for the week, moving all their stuff, and packing in about 10 hours. It was crazy weekend with no sleep, but I did make it out of Boston on one of the last flights before they were all canceled due to weather on the east coast.

I'll write about food now and then do a separate Cancer Project post within a few days before I head out for another week long trip.

First from VwaV, Seitan Portobello Stroganoff. This was very tasty.

I used the Lightlife Smart Strips Chick'n flavor to make some burritos. They were stir fried and then added to wraps with tomatoes, onions, some refried beans, and home made tomatillo sauce. The Smart Strips were quite good, unfortunately the rest of the meal really was not. The bean mix was the dry kind that needs to be rehydrated. It was quite terrible in comparison to canned beans whole or refried. The tomatillo sauce was also hideous. The recipe I used was reviewed well, but it was awful. Perhaps the tomatillos weren't fresh or the chili pepper was too spicy. If you'd like to purchase Smart Strips and try using them in a different recipe that is more palatable, here's link to a $1 off coupon. View the pic of bean/tomatillo monstrosity, it certainly looks unassuming until you taste it.
I picked up a fresh young coconut to try out. It was rather fun to hack it open. Inside is a soft jello like flesh rather than the thick tough coconut flesh in a regular brown coconut. There was also a lot more coconut water. The coconut water was sooooo good and I enjoyed the soft coconut fruit.It is easy to see how it might be sliced for noodles in raw cooking. Unfortunately, I just used it for smoothies and ate some on its own. The coconut is below along with some of the flesh.

Here is a LightLife Fakin' Bacon wrap. It has lettuce, tomato, Fakin' Bacon, a bit of mayo, and some sunflower sprouts. Thumbs up on Fakin' Bacon. Link to LightLife $1 off coupon.

Last but certainly not least, I made up a batch of Seward Cafe's Rebel Rocks found at Cooking By Kittee. Who could imagine rye flour, coconut and chocolate would morph into such a delicious treat? Rebel Rocks, rock! I love these, doesn't matter if they are hot out of the oven, room temperature or frozen...always yummy!
Ok, a quick blurb on vegan cruising. My friends were really worried about what I would eat, I had some concerns too. Supper in the sit down dining room was a little difficult. I often checked out the menu earlier in the day to see if I could find vegan friendly options. If not, I'd hit the buffet which I kind of preferred anyway as it didn't require dressing up. I managed to find salads, cold soups, and pasta or veg chili (sans cheese) in the dining room.

The buffet had many options. Salads, Asian style sauteed veggies, sushi (avocado/cucumber), pastas, grilled veggies. I found vegetarian miso soup with tofu one night. Another night there were Indian chickpeas and lentils. Breakfast was normally fruit and maybe some peanut butter on a roll or toast. Otherwise oatmeal and bananas with almonds. Obviously you won't find vegan desserts on the ship, but perhaps that is better for the waistline. One night I did go searching the shops for dark chocolate. I found some decent vegan dark chocolate, but it was sugar free and I had no interest in aspartame flavored chocolate.

Cruise Caveats - They rarely label any of the foods or have ingredients listed at the buffet. That makes it very difficult to discern if there is butter or milk in something or beef/chicken stock in soups. If I saw a cook milling about I'd ask, but often I skipped anything potentially bad. One day I asked about an Indian soup. The gentleman confirmed it was vegetarian. As I was ladling it into a bowl, I saw chicken. After that I only took soup if it was labeled as vegetarian.

Anyways, look forward to my post on the Cancer Project workshop. I'll be making the blog rounds shortly as I've got a week and a half to catch up on.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Chili and Date Nut Bread

I'm reading how cold it is everywhere. The same here, brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Though I really want to stick to my 2 day per week raw resolution, I'm having trouble with the cold weather. I'm just craving soup and tea. I've been making a concerted effort to have at least one raw meal it day. That might translate to fruit for breakfast or an interesting salad for lunch.

When the summer months roll around, I'll be preparing more raw foods for sure. What did I cook up last week? Well we had a chili cook-off at work before the superbowl. Since I wasn't planning to partake I made up a batch of VwaV Chili Sin Carne Al Mole. This was my first brush with adding cocoa to a meal rather than dessert. Believe it or not the seitan and spices with cocoa is actually might tasty.

Since I started on the raw kick, I seem to have developed an addiction to dates. Funny because as I child I hated them! Anyway, last night I baked a loaf of Date and Nut Bread from Vegan Vittles. The recipe is not as sweet as I'm used to with other Pumpkin and Zucchini breads, but it very good. It made a great breakfast with some Tofutti cream cheese.

For those of you that have been asking about Little Lad's. I'm posting a photo of the cheese in the container and the package with the label. Everything is very simple. If you are looking to get a hold of their products, I think you'll need to stop in at a local store in Maine. No it doesn't look that appetizing cold, but it sure looked great melted for mac n cheese in my other post!