Sunday Evening Sandwiches – with Tempeh!

yesterday’s run: 6.5 miles, sans water and sans Ipod. I set out for an easy three miles but just felt like running more. Today’s run: slightly over a mile to the gym, a gym workout, and a run back. It has been¬†probably a year since I’ve gone to the gym. It’s close to my mother-in-law’s house, but a 15 minute drive from ours, so I just never make it there. I really should make more of an effort.

Last week when I was at Trader Joe’s I saw a big jar of vegan mayonnaise for a fabulous price. I decided to try it, and was pretty excited about my purchase…until I realized that I have no idea what to do with mayonnaise. It’s been almost 2 decades since I’ve had mayonnaise, and even in my pre-vegan days I just didn’t eat it much. So, I kept wondering, what do people do with mayonnaise? It occurred to me that probably, just probably, folks use it on sandwiches. So tonight’s dinner was designed as an attempt to try to use some mayonnaise. It turned out beautifully. I still have a ton of mayo to use, though, so I’d welcome some suggestions!

I pressed some tofu and then pan-fried it in my cast iron skillet with some oil. After it had cooked for a few minutes, I added a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and hot sauce. I did the same with some tempeh. I also dry-grilled some zucchini on the stove-top grill, and I made some of my soon-t0-be-famous spinach pesto, this time with raw sunflower seeds for the nuts. Yum. I had made bread earlier this week, so we used that for our sandwiches: a tiny bit of mayo, some spinach pesto, zucchini, and tofu or tempeh. These were a big hit. My 1 1/2 year old loved the tempeh and ate some plain. The pictures of the finished sandwich are pretty underwhelming, but this really was a nice, and quick, combination. Nothing was so strongly flavored enough to be dominant, so you really got to taste each component. My husband made a few zucchini-tofu rolls, and those were tasty too.

cast iron skillet-fried tofu

 

Cast iron skillet-fried tempeh – YUM!

Spinach pesto – my favorite, and probably best, recipe creation EVER

A fully compiled sandwich. See? I told you it was underwhelming in looks – but it is totally worth making and eating!

I had a few baking adventures yesterday, one of which turned out superbly (picture below, and recipe coming soon!) and one of which came out tasty but otherwise not successful. My husband nicknamed them ‘natural disaster brownies’ because they look like they were hit by a tornado. ūüôā

So. Freakin’. Good.

Questions:

1. What do you do, if anything, with mayonnaise, vegan or otherwise?

2. Have you ever bought something that you didn’t know exactly what to do with (food-wise)?

3. Have you ever had an unsalvagable baking or cooking disaster?

Vegan Cranberry-Cashew Bread

I am so incredibly lazy. I can’t post my fabulous vegan peanut butter eggs recipe because, even though I made them 2 days ago, I haven’t yet taken any pictures of them. LAZY VEGAN!

The peanut butter eggs are really quite delicious, though. I will post the recipe tomorrow. My husband was super impressed with them, and he’s pretty picky about his chocolate.

On a  non-lazy note, I saved another client from some jail time today. Sweet. He was someone who really, really did not need to go to jail.

This is a recipe I made quite some time ago. I have an old family recipe for cranberry-orange bread with walnuts; I love cranberries, but I tire of the  typical cranberry-orange and/or cranberry-walnut combination. The cashew topping in this recipe creates a deep, buttery richness and really rounds out the flavors of the bread. Tangy cranberries, sweet, moist bread, plus a delicately-textured rich nut streusel topping = close to perfection in a loaf.  I love, love, LOVE steusel-y toppings; they feel and taste so rich and decadent, and can really transform a quick bread into something truly special, almost a coffee cake.

This bread has more sugar than I would ordinarily use, but I was making it for company so I made it sweeter than I would prefer. You could easily reduce the sugar by 1/4-1/2 cup.

Makes 2 loaves

Topping (this makes slightly more than you will likely end up using):

1/2 cup raw cashews, ground into a fine powder

a dash of salt

1/4 cup white sugar

Bread:

1 1/2 cusp sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups cranberries, roughly chopped

1 cup soymilk

1 cup water (or another cup soymilk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup oil

3 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 loaf pans well; line with parchment or wax paper if you have it (the bread is so moist that it is a little tricky to get out of the pans. You could also make a coffee cake in a 9 x 13.

Mix sugar, salt, vanilla, oil, and soymilk/water well. Add dry ingredients and mix lightly until combined; stir/fold in the cranberries.

Grind cashews into a fine flour (I used the Magic Bullet) and mix topping ingredients together.

Pour batter into pans and sprinke cashew mix on top.

Bake until a toothpick comes out mostly clean, about 45 minutes.

ENJOY!

Slackness, Show Tunes, and Cinnamon-Roll bread

Yikes. It’s been a few days, eh? I really meant to be better about this blogging thing. The whole intent was for me to write down recipes so that I can replicate stuff we like, with a secondary intent of showing folks how easy veganism can be (i.e. you don’t need to buy all those fancy, pricey faux-meat and fauz-dairy products, nor do you have to have all sorts of wierd and unusual ingredients to make vegan food). So really, I should be blogging every day or every other day to accomplish these goals. Oh well. It’s been a rough week, mentally, for me, but things are picking up. In addition to my running goal, I’m going to challenge myself to blog 5 out of 7 days this coming week, starting Monday.

Business first: Running. Eh, almost non-existent….I haven’t done more than a few 3-mile runs this week. Today I ran pushing the girls in the stroller, which always seems like it should count extra. I will run long tomorrow, but not likely long enough to meet the 25-mile goal. Oh well. Life happens. This week, I’m going to shoot for 4 out of 5 week days, at least two of those being 4 or more miles, and then one at-least-10 miler on the weekend. Oh, and weights and crunches, again. We’ll see.

Today I had the opportunity to spend most of the day playing music. It is a nice break from my normal life of lawyer-professor-mommy. I sub in with a sort-of-local brass quintet; they call me when they need me. They had a wedding gig this weekend and needed an¬†extra horn player. It was a lovely ceremony at a woman’s house; we then played the reception in her backyard, right on the lake. We did not play any truly extraordinary music, or even any music that was challenging to the listener at all, because this was not an arts-type venue; we were there for entertainment. It was kind of nice to just let my mind go and just play, without having to engage in huge amounts of intense thought and concentration. The guys I play with are all good musicians, at least in terms of technique, so we end up sight-reading half the music we play at such gigs. That always keeps me on my toes; it keeps my mind awake, and lets me think only about the notes on the page as they go by. It’s a different sort of playing than one does when working up a big, serious work. One of the nice things about the reception today was the reaction we got from some little old ladies (they really were) who were sitting near us. We played something from some musical, and they just loved it, so then we started playing a bunch of showtunes. At the end of every one the little old ladies hooted and clapped; one in particular kept telling the trumpet nearest to her how much she loved it. It was nice to bring some joy and brightness to someone’s life, unexpectedly. I usually get bogged down in heavy, intellectually-and emotionally-challenging music; I love it, and it provides a certain service for my mind and soul, but every now and then it’s nice to see (and participate in) the fun side of music. We did that today, and it was truly enjoyable.

Onto a recipe…..I made this the other day. We’ve been eating it for breakfast. I love making bread. It is a very sensory experience, and somehow earthy and natural as well. It is also surprisingly easy. I’ve run into a lot of people who are completely intimidated by the idea of making yeast breads. It is SO easy one you learn the basics. Homemade bread is delicious, and cheaper than what you can buy at the store. I usually just make a standard half-whole wheat, half-white loaf, but when I have the time and mental energy, I get creative and make bread with herbs, or other seasonings, or shape it free-form instead of using a pan; then, when baked at a high heat, it gets nice and crusty.

I digree, however. If you’ve made bread, this is an easy recipe. If you haven’t, this will teach you the basics and give you a nice, cinnamony treat.

1 package active dry yeast, or 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon white sugar

2 cups warm, not hot, water

salt, 1-2 teaspoons

4-6 cups flour; I use half whole-wheat, half white, but you can use all white (all whole wheat is hard to pull off, at least without a whole lot more sugar and oil)

1 tablespoon oil

for the filling:

2-ish tablespoons Earth Balance, or other vegan margarine

2-4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Method:

Put yeast, sugar, and warm water in a big bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until the yeast proofs – this means the mixture gets all bubbly; little bubbles will rise to the surface, and there will be a tan foamy substance on top of the water. It’s a fun process to watch, if you have time. After the yeast has proofed, add about 3-4 cups of flour, the oil, and the salt. Stir. Add more flour until you can’t stir any more. Scrape the spoon and bowl, flour your hands, and starting kneadin’ that dough! I like to knead it directly in the bowl. Add more flour as you knead, as necessary. Any time the dough starts sticking to you, add more flour. Usually, 5-6 cups will do it, but it depends on the humidity, the kind of flour you use, etc. You want the dough to be soft to the touch, but not sticky. So, when you have nice mass of dough, to test it for doneness, just poke it with your finger; if the dough attaches itself to your finger, keep going!

Once the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with a towel that has been dampened with warm water. Place it somewhere warm and let it rise. Usually, an¬†hour or so is enough for the first rising; you want it about double the original size. Punch the dough down. If you were making regular bread, this is when you’d put it into bread pans. However, we’re making cinnamon roll bread! so there’s an extra step…

Divide the dough into two. On a floured surface, spread out one of the sections of dough. You don’t need to use a rolling pin; just use your hands/fingers to smush the dough into a rectangle that is about 6 inches by about 12 inches, approximately. Smear the dough with 1 tablespoon Earth Balance and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. Roll, starting at one of the 6-inch sides. Gentle pinch the ends together. ¬†Put the rolled dough into a greased loaf pan. Gently pinch the end of the roll. You don’t need to completely attach it, though. Do the same with the second piece of dough. Let the dough sit, covered with the wet towel, for about 1/2 hours to rise again. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, or until golden on the top.