Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teriyaki Stir Fry

Well it looks like summer has finally decided to stick around. Warm, sunny days make me think about quick, easy food that doesn't tie me to the kitchen any longer than about five minutes. Those of you who have read my blogs for some time know how much I detest being in the kitchen, let alone having to cook.

That's why I have a summer arsenal of recipes that are strictly for days too warm to be comfortable and for me, that's anything over 78 degrees. What can I say? I hate to sweat.

Last post I shared a favorite summer recipe and now I'm going to do it again.
This is a simple meal and there are probably a hundred versions of it all  over the world. This is my vegan version and even if I say so myself, it's doggone good. That's what I think and so did the couple I served it to a few nights ago. We licked the wok clean. Next time I'll make more.


4 quarts of boiling water
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1/3 cup of teriyaki sauce
4 cups assorted vegetables, cut into 2" pieces
Fresh ginger root, about 1/2 tsp. grated
A couple splashes of soy sauce
1/2 package udon or chinese noodles

Put the water on to boil as if you were going to cook pasta. When it reaches a rolling boil, add the noodles, but keep your eye on them. They cook in 5 minutes. 

For this recipe, you can use any vegetables you like.
I had on hand green beans, celery, red pepper, snow peas, zucchini, onions, bean sprouts and mushrooms. 

Add the oil to your wok or any large skillet. I like my wok because it does such a good job of stir frying. If you don't have a wok, use the biggest pan you have so the vegetables will fry and not steam because they are all on top one another. Add the vegetables in order of which take the longest to cook. For me, the green beans and celery went in first, followed by everything else. 

I cooked the vegetables until they were almost done, but still a bit crunchy. If you like them another way, cook them shorter or longer. 

When the stir fried vegetables are how you like them, dump the drained noodles into the wok. Then add the teriyaki sauce, the splashes of soy sauce, and the grated ginger. Let everything in the wok cook together for about 2 minutes, stirring it up from the bottom so everything is coated in the sauce.

Eat till it's all gone and try not to moan over how good it tastes.

A note concerning fresh ginger: We all know it goes bad fast so here is my way of keeping it until it's all used up. Bring the
knob home, put it in a zip lock bag, unpeeled, and toss it in the freezer in a place where you'll easily find it. Then when a recipe calls for fresh ginger, don't bother with defrosting. Just get out your microplane and grate what is basically "ginger snow" into your recipe. Put the frozen knob back in the freezer. You'll never have to throw away another piece of ginger.

Another side note: Since I eat vegan all the time, I am not paranoid of getting protein in every meal. If desired, you can always stir in tofu or tempeh or seitan. 

Serves 3-4

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Salad You Won't Forget

Have you ever received a phone call where the person on the other end barely let you get out a "hello" before they started talking? Well, that's what happened to me two weeks ago. "All the cousins are getting together," my sister said, "and we're coming to your house. We're having a potluck and the theme is picnic. We'll be there by one in the afternoon. See ya"

Truthfully, the call wasn't quite that terse, but almost.
"We're coming to your house for potluck"
I hadn't seen my two sisters for many months because of health problems in their families and the cousin who is like a brother to me had nearly disappeared off my radar--even though he only lives about two hours away. All told, I was happy we who were related as well as the spouses would all be together again, even if for only half a day.

Picnic spread across the table. Yumm.
While my family supports my being vegan, I've always asked them not to take that into consideration when planning meals. So I set my mind to thinking about what kind of dish I'd prepare that I'd like and they would too. I finally decided on a bean salad unlike any other I've ever eaten. It's a recipe I received decades ago from a neighbor, yet I seldom make it because it makes so much I could just about feed an army. Then again, I figured the small army coming to my home might like it, so I dug my old, beat up recipe box out of the cupboard and began scrounging for the recipe. (I really should get these files in order.)

Family potluck--always a fun time.
The salad was a huge hit. Two of the relatives even asked for the recipe. I fully intended to email it to them when I thought to myself: maybe my vegan blog pals would like it too. So it is that I wish to share with you one of the best summer salads I've ever eaten. It's even safe to take on a picnic. And to leave out of the cooler. It's right up there on the top of the summer safe picnic scale. Even more, it's doggone good. I hope you like it as much as all the others I've ever served it to.


1 16 oz. can kidney beans
1 16 oz. can cut green beans
1 16 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 16 oz. can black-eyed peas

Dump all beans into a sieve or colander and rinse well with cold water. Allow them to drain well before putting them into a large bowl.


2 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 c. finely minced parsley
1 whole bunch of green onions, sliced, both white and green parts
1 small jar of stuffed green olives
1 small can of sliced black olives

Make the marinade:

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 garlic clove, mashed

Mix thoroughly and pour over the beans, vegetables, herbs, and olives.

Refrigerate for at least two days to allow the spices to infuse the bean mixture and everytime you pass the frig, give the beans a good stir to redistribute them from the top to the bottom so everything eventually gets coated with the marinade. This is not a make it and eat it dish.

Serves a small Army (about 12)

All that was left in the bottom of my 2 1/2 quart bowl was
this little bit and I had to diligently scrape it all
together so you could see the ingredients. If I'd been
wise, I'd have taken its photo before we ate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Going Raw--But Not Completely

It's been two years since my doctor prescribed a vegan diet in order to keep me out of more intestinal surgeries and hospital stays for a twisted colon. In those two years, I've not been anywhere near the hospital, though I have had to suffer through some painful episodes due to eating too many raw fruit and vegetables. Especially carrots and apples, though broccoli and cauliflower tend to be culprits too.

Because some of my favorite fresh foods were giving me untold pain, I discussed the situation with my internal medicine doctor who's simple remedy was to eat nothing raw. Whatever went into my mouth must be cooked. If a green salad agreed with me, I could eat it in small portions. Thankfully, lettuce didn't send me into nearly unbearable waves of abdominal spasms, which on a scale of 1 to 10 was right up there with the labor pains just prior to giving birth.

What isn't shown is the trash bin on the
backside of the juicer. All the fiber gets
stored there, ready to be discarded.
There was a time, many years ago, before I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, that nothing stayed down, resulting in my losing 45 pounds in three months. I was sick all the time, afraid to eat, and losing hope that I'd ever be well again. That was when my daughter suggested that I try a juice diet. I figured I had nothing to lose so I purchased a Jack LaLanne juicer and set about drinking my fruits and vegetables. It took a while but I eventually got better. Well enough to consider myself almost as good as new.

But it didn't last. Four intestinal surgeries later and at least a half dozen hospital stays due to a twisted colon, I was at my wit's end, wondering how I would survive when food had become my enemy. It was during my last hospital stay that the attending doctor called in a specialist that I'd never seen before and knew nothing about. He turned out to be a God-send. With descriptions and hand-drawn pictures of what was happening in my intestinal system, he explained everything in great detail and  then informed me that if I wanted to get well and live a normal life, I needed to eat a vegan diet.

I didn't have the slightest hope that it would work. I have to say that there could be no bigger skeptic on the planet than I was. It must have showed in my face because he smiled at me and made me promise to give veganism a go. I tried to tell him that every doctor before him had sent me home to a soft diet free of nuts and seeds and anything full of fiber because they would only make me sick and I'd be back in the hospital again. Maybe even in surgery. He just smiled and asked me to give his plan a try. So I promised--and went home to a whole new way of eating.

During the past two years I have lost weight, had more energy, saw a great improvement in my skin, and generally considered myself to be well. I stayed away from many fruits and vegetables that I really liked unless they were cooked. Every so often I'd eat an apple or a handful of carrots and always paid the price. That's when the vomiting would begin again. And the "labor pain" like spasms. And the fear that somehow I'd end up back in the hospital again. I can't begin to explain how thankful I am that that hasn't happened.

Juicing carrots makes a great drink,
but the fiber, which my body needs,
gets thrown into the juicer trash bin.
My daughter suggested that I get my juicer out of the cupboard and begin juicing once again. But I knew that all that fiber the doctor insisted I needed would go into the trash because that's what a juicer does--extracts the juice and throws the fiber into the discard bin. If you've ever juiced, you know exactly what I'm talking about. According to the internist, that fiber was health and life to my body and had to be in my daily diet.

So it was that I began thinking about going "raw." And knowing that I couldn't just sit down with an apple and a bunch of carrots and a dozen or so green beans (a real favorite) or even some fresh snow peas tossed into my salad, I began thinking about purchasing an extractor--a machine that would turn all the fruits and vegetables I loved into a healthy drink while leaving the fiber intact. The more I thought about it, the better the idea sounded. I spent a couple of months considering whether the purchase would be worth while or simply a waste of money. If you've priced extractors, you know they are expensive. So I did my homework and ended up buying a Nutri-Bullet, mostly because Consumer Report gave it such a high rating and it was the least costly of the lot.

I'm anxious to see if turning whole
fruits and vegetables into a drink that
includes all the fiber gives me an
added boost, more energy, and a
general feeling of well being. I'll keep
you posted. 
I suppose you're wondering why I've told you all of this. Simply because the machine came yesterday and is now sitting on my kitchen counter, waiting to turn broccoli and carrots and apples and grapes and almonds and flax seed and bananas and spinach and anything else I can think of into a vitamin-packed, super food antioxidant drink rich in fiber and nutrients juice that I'm convinced will make my tummy happy instead of sick.

I've decided to take you along on the journey. I'll let you know how things go, which raw food recipes taste the best, how easy the appliance is to use, and if I consider the purchase money well spent. If this subject intrigues you, or if you've had intestinal problems yourself, then come along for the ride. And while there is no way I intend to go completely "raw," I'm looking forward to seeing if amplifying my vegan diet with the liquid of fruits and vegetables I know and love makes any difference in my daily life.

Stay tuned....

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tamale Pie , Vegan Veggilicious

This pictures reminds me so much of the
small rural Minnesota town where I
grew up. No horse carriages or sleighs
in the 1940's, but the rest seems so
familiar I just had to show it.
With Christmas sneaking up on us, most moms I know have swung into overdrive. Even all the grandmas I know, though our overdrive should really be called mini drive because that's how we get around--a mini bit at a time. Even so, nightly dinners that are fast and easy are the name of the game from now until next year because stopping at the nearest fast food chain or ordering up a pizza doesn't work for most vegans. Toward that end, I've been going through my recipe box of family favorites to find those easy hot dishes I could make vegan without giving up taste.

My dresses are shorter and my
hair is gray. Otherwise, glasses and
all, this could be me.
By now you know that I only post recipes that receive my seal of approval and this one does. It's fast, bakes in the oven so there's no standing over a hot stove, and prep work is minimal. By now you also know how much I hate being in the kitchen and always have, so my recipes are generally fast and dirty, taking up almost none of my precious time. After all, there are quilts to finish, knitted scarves to get done, aprons and hot pads that need their bias bindings sewn on, and then there's all that wrapping and mailing looking me in the face.

Phew, just writing it all down makes me tired. I'm going to take a nap.

Back again with the rest of the story. Yesterday I grabbed my decrepit 40 year old recipe box and spent some figuring out which favorite casseroles could be easily veganized. My eyes stopped at Tamale Pie and since the day was chilly, I figured it would be belly warmer. Now I don't always come up with a re-worked recipe winner the first go-around, but this time it worked. I hope it works for you too. Let me know what you think.


2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 cups of corn, fresh or frozen
1 small onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 roasted red pepper, diced (I used jarred)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced, ribs and seeds removed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can refried beans
1 cup water or vegetable stock
1 cup salsa, (I'm addicted to La Victoria)
1 small can sliced black olives
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 Tbs. ground cumin
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup vegan cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Add more water or vegetable broth if the mixture is too thick to spread easily.

Put the vegetable oil in a large fry pan.
Add the onion, bell pepper, roasted red pepper and all the spices.
Cook on medium heat until the fresh vegetables are limp. Then add both cans of beans along with the corn, salsa, olives, garlic, stock, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook till all the ingredients are blended. I used my potato masher to make sure everything jammed together quickly. I'm not against helping things along so I can get out of the kitchen quickly. When everything looks homogeneous, turn off the heat, cover the pan and ignore it for now.

Now it's time to make the substitute tamale dough.

Into a bowl put:

1 cup corn meal, (I always use Albers as I think it has the best taste)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Set aside for now.

Into another bowl put:

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened soy)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Mix together and set aside.

Use your coffee bean grinder to turn 1 Tbs. flaxseed into powder. Move the ground seeds to a bowl and add 1 Tbs. water. Stir together and then set the mixture aside for 5 minutes. This is one of the egg substitutes that works quite well. If you don't have flaxseed, you can substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, but the cornmeal mixture will taste a little sweet.

Pour the flaxseed mixture into the bowl of liquids and mix them together. Now add the dry ingredients in 2 increments. Mix by hand. You will have some lumps. That is normal. Overmixing will make a tough cornbread that even the dog can't chew.

Grease a medium sized casserole dish and pour about half of the cornmeal mixture on the bottom. Spread out thinly. Top that with the bean/vegetable mixture and pat down smoothly.

Spread the vegan cheddar cheese over the top and then pour the remaining cornmeal mixture over that.

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes at 350degrees or until the top is a light brown. Let stand a few minutes before cutting into serving pieces.

Serves 4-6 hearty appetites.

While this recipe sounds complicated, it's really quite easy. You will use a lot of bowls but the dishwasher can take care of washing and drying them. Believe me when I say this recipe is fast, for then it must be so. You know how much I hate being in the......well, you know.

Another idea:

If you'd prefer to make this recipe even easier, use a small bag of Frito's as a substitute tamale dough. Lay the bag on the counter and give it a good crush, breaking up the Frito's at least by half. Now pour half of the bag on the bottom of the pan and the rest of the bag atop the whole thing before baking it. I mention SMALL bag as compared to a personal size bag. Personal size simply does not have enough chips to do the job.

You're probably laughing because you think I'm joking!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Raid The Cupboard Vegan Christmas Cookies

Mom baked all year long, but only
at Christmas did she turn out an array
of cookies that made we three
sisters drool.
It seems that every family has it's favorite cookie. My sister-in-law adores Snickerdoodles and two of my seven grandkids think they are the only cookie worth making. My husband loved all cookies and it mattered not what they were made of. Somehow, he managed to get his large hand in and out of our cookie jar with great dexterity. My daughter-in-law makes the best oatmeal cookies in the world. I kid you not. She has won several Blue Ribbons with that cookie and lucky me, she shared the recipe so I could make them too. But that's another post.

Church suppers were the norm in the
tiny town of my youth. I think we went
to every one of them, no matter what the
Growing up in Minnesota, our family ate a vast array of Norwegian and Swedish cookies that appeared only during the Christmas season. Since my dad was a business owner, we got invited to any and every church Christmas supper for miles around our little rural town. My mom got some of those recipes and they became our favorites too, even though we had to wait a whole year for them to show up once more on our table. But that's another post too.

Shortly after I was married, I went to
mom's and copied all her recipes I'd
grown to love. The cards were stained
and the print had grown dim. Now my
cards look just like hers.
With the holidays upon us, it seemed like the right time for me to share tried and true cookie recipes that I grew up with and love to this day. During the coming month, I'll share the best of the best recipes that I've veganized successfully and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I also hope you print out or write down the ingredients and stash that piece of paper wherever you keep your treasured recipes. I also hope that over the next many years, your recipe cards become as stained and wrinkled as mine are.


These are NOT the most beautiful cookies you'll
ever make. Nor do they travel well. But they do
stay fresh a long time and chances are,
they won't last long enough to get stale anyway.

1 stick of vegan margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. of unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbs. non dairy milk
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup diced nuts, your choice
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup raisins
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried mixed fruit

This is my personal favorite brand
of mixed dried fruit
You can change the ingredients to whatever you wish. Just make sure that if you eliminate 1 cup of one thing, you make up for it by using 2 cups of another ingredient. Since I'm not a big fan of chocolate chips, I change the mixed fruit and chocolate chips around. Sometimes I exchange the raisins for chopped dates. The recipe is quite versatile. Just keep the quantities as given.

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the margarine and sugar until it is light and fluffy. About 2-3 minutes. Add the applesauce, vanilla, and non-dairy milk. Mix to blend.

Use any uncooked
oatmeal you have on
Now add the flour and oatmeal along with the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix till just blended. Do not overbeat or you'll have a tough cookie.

Stir the remaining ingredients into the dough by hand and then drop the dough by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until the edges are nicely brown. Allow the cookies to cool a bit on the sheet before moving them to a rack to finish cooling. Small pieces will fall off each cookie. Don't be alarmed. I've made this recipe at least a hundred times and that is the norm. Once cool, the cookie hardens a little so they can be transferred to your cookie jar. They can also be frozen for up to a month with no noticeable difference in taste.

I love this cookie. Not only because it is easy to make but because I don't feel guilty giving them to my grandkids. All told, they are a healthy alternative to most cookies out there.

Whoever thought of drying cranberries
to they could be used in assorted
treats goes down in my book as
a genius. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Cake

I'm feeling creative this afternoon, and while I don't believe this introduction has any sense of direction, I've been questioning my motives in choosing "the vegan lifestyle" lately, so I'm going to go ahead and share...

I drank the Kool-Aid. I've gone from a raging college party girl with a penchant for clear alcohols, Marlboro cigarettes, and fast-food to a full-fledged kook that rambles on about topics such as the many uses of milled flax-seed. People that know me personally think I've lost my mind - they would have never imagined I would become a devoted yogi, a vegan, or a person committed to emotional, spiritual, and physical health. While I've actually found (most of) my mind in taking this path, I often feel that I must let myself stray from time to time in order to keep a sense of balance and sanity. That isn't to say that I regress into old habits - but every now and then I'll indulge in a few drinks, a cigarette, or a vegetarian meal rather than strict vegan. I suppose that's why I love sharing dessert recipes; I'm absolutely enamored by the idea that I can have the best of both worlds in these decadent desserts made vegan.

A slice of cake spurred this epiphany. That sounds insane, but it's true. The taste of rich nutty chocolate with a hint of berry flavor sent me spiraling out into thought - that if I can have a slice of THE MOST MOIST AND DELICIOUS chocolate cake I'VE EVER HAD and it's VEGAN and it was so easy I MADE IT MYSELF then why would I ever turn back?

And the answer, Ladies and Gentlemen, is that I'm not turning back - unless to get another slice of this heavenly cake. Enjoy!

  • Canola spray 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, ground
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder 
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 1 cup maple syrup 
  • 4 ounces raspberry-flavored coconut milk yogurt or vegan sour cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate soy milk or vanilla soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • Raspberries, Blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Spray an 8" x 8" baking dish or a 9" round pan with canola oil.

3. Prepare Cake: Grind walnuts in the food processor until they have a flour-like consistency. Be careful not to grind them into a paste. In a medium bowl, mix walnuts, flours, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder together. Set aside.

4. In another medium mixing bowl, stand mixer, or food processor, blend the canola oil, maple syrup, and coconut milk yogurt together until creamy. Add water and mix again.

5. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until well combined, being careful not to overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread batter evenly.

6. Bake about 30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched in the middle and is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven to cool.

7. Go around the sides of the cake with a knife and gently turn over onto a plate.

8. Prepare Frosting: Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender until creamy.

9. Assemble Cake: Frost the top and then the sides of the cake. Sprinkle with walnuts and garnish with fresh berries.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Spaghetti Sauce That's Really Good

Winter is coming, even in Southern California. When I get up, generally around 7:30, it's still almost dark; dusk sets in at 5:30 and by 6:00 it looks like midnight. Mornings are cold, at least by Southern CA standards, though I bow to those places where cold is truly bone freezing. All of that to say that while I was hungry for spaghetti--my idea of a perfect cold night meal--I had to think up a new way to make it. I didn't want to use tofu for the protein; nor the home made seitan I always keep in my freezer; nor store-bought faux meat of any kind. So I put on my thinking cap and finally came up with an idea. I didn't know if it would be worth eating, but I just had to give it a try. I used my two guests that were coming for dinner as my taste testers. I knew they'd be honest with me. They always are.

We all moaned while we ate. Yes, it was that good. Some even went back for another helping. I hope you'll try it and enjoy eating it as much as we did. Now I'm not saying nobody else ever thought of this sort of recipe before--I'm just saying it was an experiment on my part that turned out good.


1 can of black beans with juice
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. basil
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 jar of vegan spaghetti sauce or 2 cups tomato sauce or 2 cans diced tomatoes. I used the jarred stuff.
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. olive oil
8 oz. of spaghetti

Open the can of black beans and remove 1/2 cup to a separate bowl. Put the rest of the canned beans and their juice into a food processor, along with all the spices and whiz everything until it is smooth.

Put the olive oil in a large skillet and brown the onions, celery, carrot, and garlic until it is soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the reserved whole beans and the mixture from the processor, along with the jarred sauce or whichever tomato product you wish to use. Cook until the mixture is thick and gives off a delicious aroma. I set mine on a back burner on low heat and let the flavors bend for about 30 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Serve big portions with a large amount of the reddish-brown and spicy sauce over the top. Sprinkle with parsley and shaved vegan Parmesan if desired.

I served the usual sides: salad and garlic bread.

Serves 4

Sometimes rainy and chilly weather
causes me to ponder what sort of
vegan goodies I want to eat that
will make my tummy happy.