Lunch on the Go: Pizza Strips!

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Day 19: Lunch on the go.

Today’s prompt couldn’t be more appropriate! I’m in Rhode Island this weekend, here to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday and my nephew Charlie’s 1st birthday. Two days of big gatherings, bookended by days of chilling out with my immediate family. There will be lots of party foods and snacks, but I guarantee we’ll make time for one of the best on-the-go lunches: pizza strips!

Pizza strips; image from RIMonthly
Image from RIMonthly.com

Pizza strips (also called party pizza or bakery pizza) are a Rhode Island specialty. They’re incredibly simple — a focaccia-like dough topped with a thick tomato sauce — but they’re definitely more than the sum of their parts. They’re baked on sheets and cut into strips, which you can then slice into squares for smaller portions. I think they’re very similar to an Italian tomato pie, which makes sense — RI has a big Italian-American population, and you can find pizza strips at nearly any Italian bakery. My family has always served them at parties; they’re relatively inexpensive and are a great supplement to the typical chips and veggie trays served at these kinds of gatherings. And — bonus! — they’re typically vegan, although some bakeries add parmesan cheese. I’ve always preferred the corner pieces, since I love thick, crusty bread. When I was a kid, I didn’t like the tomato sauce topping — it was too thick for me, so I’d wipe some of it off. These days, I’m far less particular, and I’m always happy to grab a piece with a healthy amount of sauce!

My mom used to buy pizza strips at a bakery called the Italian Breadbox, which was just down the street from my family’s house. Sadly, they closed down years ago, so she now patronizes DePetrillo’s Bakery. She’s confirmed with the chefs that the recipe is indeed 100% vegan, so that’s my bakery of choice when Steven and I need to pick up a tray for the ride back to Maryland. Since they have no melty cheese and never have any toppings, they’re super easy to eat on the go!

Mmm… I can’t wait until my dad’s party starts later today. There will, in fact, be pizza strips. ;)

My Vegan Inspiration: Auntie Jae

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Day 18: Honor a human or non-human animal who inspires your veganism.

Truthfully, every non-human animal I meet reinforces my veganism. From the dogs who come to work with me to the rescued animals I meet at every sanctuary I visit, every animal reminds me that we are all alike and all equally deserving of compassion, respect, and humane treatment.

threeanimals

From left to right: 1. Our little adopted Luna, a tiny mutt with megaesophagus. She’s often aloof and enigmatic, and she requires special care, but when she deigns to give us a lick or a nuzzle, our hearts just melt. 2. Rescued piggies at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. You can’t not smile when you see how much they enjoy wallowing. 3. My Moria, the sweetest girl in the world.

On the human front, so many people buoy my spirits and keep me going. Steven is, by far, my #1 supporter and my #1 champion. My parents, who are vegan and mostly vegan, make me proud every day. My compassionate friends are forever enthusiastic about vegan food and cute animals and saving the world. There’s a lot of inspiration in my life.

But today I’m thinking especially of my Auntie Jae. She was the first family member to go vegan, years ago, in an effort to address a few health problems. I think she was the first vegan I ever knew! She’d bounced around from diet to diet, but nothing stuck — except veganism. It’s a far cry from Atkins, but veganism has one big difference from all those fad diets: its base in ethics. As my aunt says, once you learn about the horrors of factory farming and what goes on behind closed doors, you can’t go back. And even if you become vegan for health reasons, the ethics behind it keep you going.

jae
My smart, compassionate, lovely aunt.

My aunt is one of my biggest fans. She’s an enthusiastic supporter of my blog and always likes to hint about a future cookbook, which is flattering and charming. When we get together (which is rare, because I’m in Maryland and she’s in Colorado), we chat about veganism and food and politics and all those topics that help you really get to know how someone else thinks and feels and believes. We’re very much on the same wavelength where it matters. I like to think it’s because she babysat me when I was an infant and my mom was wrapping up her last year of teaching — like she passed on her progressive values to my tiny self!

So here’s to you, Auntie Jae! Thank you for showing me that veganism is both simple and incredibly important. I can’t wait to share a meal with you soon!

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes

VeganMoFo 2015 bannerDay 17: Make (or eat!) a traditional local dish.

Maryland is one of those states that’s pretty synonymous with a specific dish — crabcakes. Or anything with crab, really. As a child, years and years before I moved to Maryland, I visited cousins who lived here and went out crabbing with them. Even then, I remember feeling unhappy with the practice and very uncomfortable with the whole boiling-and-eating-them thing.

Now, thinking about my participation in the catching and killing of perhaps dozens of crustaceans makes me feel sad and guilty. Tonight’s dinner — the Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes from Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For — is my small way of offering up a little tribute to those crabs of my youth.

Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes

With a tempeh base, these cakes are quite filling. I didn’t have a red bell pepper in the house, so I substituted a yellow pepper instead. I also made one other big substitution: using Old Bay instead of the spice blend in the recipe. You can’t make crabcakes without Old Bay!

I did have a little trouble with this recipe. The cakes didn’t hold together well at all; I ended up adding some aquafaba as a binder. They’re also pan-fried in oil, making them a little heavy for me. That side of sliced peppers certainly helped!

Here’s to you, crabs of Maryland, and here’s to eating tempeh instead of flesh!

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

Spaghetti Squash and Peanut Sauce

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Day 16: What’s your favorite late summer food?

Forget April — September is the cruelest month. My beloved and most favorite season is coming to an end, and I have to soak up every last bit of sun before the cold sets in. Sigh.

At least there’s late-summer and early-fall produce to comfort me… like squash! Although some smaller squash are at their prime in the height of summer, most larger and more cold-resistant squash peak in the early fall. I think my favorite transition-season squash is the oh-so-fun spaghetti squash. Although I typically serve it with a traditional tomato-based marinara, Steven recently tried it with an unlikely alternative topping: a spicy peanut sauce.

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

This is our go-to super-simple peanut sauce. It pairs perfectly with rice noodles, soba noodles… pretty much any noodle! So I shouldn’t have been surprised that it complements spaghetti squash nicely. I simply roasted my squash for about an hour, used a fork to separate the strands, and poured on a big ol’ dollop of sauce. Mmm. Next time you’re looking for a new way to use spaghetti squash, give this a go!

Simple Peanut Sauce
Serves 2-3

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter, smooth or chunky
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp sambal oelek
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional — use only if serving with regular noodles; squash is sweet enough!)

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until the sauce is emulsified. That’s it!

What’s your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

Muffins on Monday

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Day 14: Share something vegan (and delicious, duh!) with a non-vegan. 

I am infinitely fortunate to work with lots and lots of vegans. (I guess that’s what happens when you work in the animal protection field!) But not all of my coworkers are vegan or vegetarian, so I figured this prompt was the perfect opportunity to serve up some vegan treats to the masses, veg and non-veg alike. And what better time than during a Monday morning meeting?

LPS Muffins

Representatives from every section of our department attend a daily 10:00 AM meeting to discuss new and ongoing projects, so today I brought a container of mini lemon poppy seed muffins to share. I think this is one of my absolute favorite muffin flavors! I found this particular recipe on the aquafaba group Facebook page and knew I had to try it. With a whole tablespoon of baking powder and six tablespoons of aquafaba, these little muffins were super light and airy. My only complaint was the lack of lemon flavor; although they look gorgeously lemon-hued, they don’t have the characteristic tang I want in a lemony baked good. Next time I make them, I’ll add lots more lemon juice.

Everybody was so pleased at this surprise Monday-morning treat that I might have to start bringing in baked goods more often!

Kitchen Tour!

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Day 13: It’s kitchen tour time!

Steven and I consider ourselves lucky. In the notoriously expensive Montgomery County housing market, we snagged a low-priced rental when we moved here two years ago. We rent a condo, and our landlord is responsive, friendly, and fair — he hasn’t raised our rent the two times we’ve re-signed the lease. And we have a great kitchen!

Ktichen Panorama

Many of the units in our complex have a small kitchen and a small dining room, but ours has an open floor plan — you can see where the wall used to be in the photo below. We’ve got a huge island/eating area, and a massive amount of storage. See that big wall of cabinets? We have a coat closet, pantry, and all our dishes in there! And there’s Moria wondering what I’m doing.

I’ll start at the left in the panorama photo.

kitchen9

My favorite part of my kitchen! We got this little piece for $5 at a yard sale — what a steal. Inside is our recycling bin and some random stuff.

kitchen1

This radio doesn’t work, but it’s so pretty.

kitchen7

Steven’s mom gave me those darling aperitif glasses; they’re from her side of the family. And I love the design on the Strega bottle.

kitchen6

The other side of that shelf houses our spoils from Honeydukes (!) and a jar of doggie treats. I love the jar — Steven found it on the “free table” at work.

kitchen8

My cookbooks and my KitchenAid — two essentials! My grandfather was an avid woodworker, and he made that little bookholder. I use it as a benchmark for my cookbook collection — if it starts overflowing, it’s time to donate a few items to the free table!

kitchen5

To the right of the fridge is a set of shelves where we keep some pantry staples and all our coffee- and tea-making implements! There are whole beans in the red tin, and coffee from Café du Monde too. My friend gave that to us as a thank-you for watching her pup. We use a Baratza grinder (bottom left), and it’s fantastic. Between that and the Chemex, you can make a great cup of coffee. I like to use the Moka pot when I want a smaller serving.

kitchen2

This piece belonged to Steven’s grandfather, who was a tailor. He stored his buttons in it! Now it houses our tea collection. :)

kitchen3

To the right of the sink is [some of] my beloved Pyrex collection (the little blue bowl is in the drying rack!), along with more pantry staples and our knives. You can see the butcher block counters, too. I don’t love them, especially near the sink where they get wet easily. They’re fine for the island, but impractical for most everywhere else.

kitchen4

To the right of the sink are more dry goods, spices, a few condiments, a scale, and the radio — because you have to listen to NPR while cooking or cleaning!

There you go! A short tour of my current* kitchen. I can’t wait to see yours!

*Steven and I are house-hunting! AHH!

Soft-Batch Tahini Snickerdoodles

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Day 11: Focus on a nutrient

Today’s prompt was my theme for last year’s VeganMoFo! I focused on the nutrients that omnivores enjoy grilling us vegans about, like protein, calcium, and iron. I’ve got a lot of great, nutrient-rich recipes in that tag, so you should check ’em out!

So given my near-expertise (heh) in matters of vegan nutrition, would it surprise you that I’m sharing a cookie recipe today? It shouldn’t! As I learned last year when I investigated protein and where to get it, my conclusion was that protein is in lots of unexpected places. Like cookies. Especially cookies made with chickpeas and tahini! Enter these dreamy soft-batch Tahini Snickerdoodles. With 4 grams of protein per cookie, they’re a modest but not insubstantial source of natural protein. Each cookie also contains 2 grams of fiber, and since the RDV is 15 grams, you can fulfill nearly 1/3 your daily requirement just by eating two cookies! :D

If you’re worried about putting chickpeas in cookies, here’s what Steven said when I told him about this unexpected ingredient: “Really?! Holy sh*t! You can’t taste it at all!” And Steven is quite discriminating when it comes to “healthy” ingredients in desserts.

Soft-Batch Tahini Snickerdoodles

Soft-Batch Tahini Snickerdoodles
Makes 16 cookies

  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, shelled/skinned if you’re so inclined (save the liquid!)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 aquafaba (chickpea liquid), whisked briskly for 30 seconds or shaken in an airtight jar for 10 seconds
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 2 T melted coconut oil
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For rolling

  • 1 1/2 T white or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 T sesame seeds, white or black

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Prepare a cookie pan by oiling it or lining it with parchment paper.

Using a blender, combine the chickpeas, tahini, aquafaba, liquid sweetener, coconut oil, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Blend for about 30 seconds or until everything is smooth.

Add the remaining dry ingredients (excluding the rolling sugar) to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the wet ingredients and use a wooden spoon or plastic spatula to mix. The dough will be very thick, so use that elbow grease to get it all incorporated.

Next, stir the rolling sugar mixture together in a small bowl. Use your hands to roll 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoon balls of dough, then roll them in the sugar. Flatten them slightly and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 14 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.

Notes

  • I’ve become a chickpea-skinning convert. It makes hummus SO much creamier, since the chickpeas are more easily blended without those pesky skins. So now I always skin my chickpeas. It takes a few extra minutes, but it’s an oddly satisfying feeling to have those little skins slip right off in your fingers.
  • Aquafaba! Have you tried it? It’s probably not strictly necessary in this recipe, but it provides a great texture.
  • These are not particularly sweet cookies, so if you have a bigger sweet tooth than I do, add a few tablespoons more brown sugar.

Something Blue: Vintage Pyrex

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Day 10: Something blue

Ugh! These last few prompts have made me grumpy, especially this one. Blueberries are the obvious choice, but nobody’s going to want to post about them, and we’re all going to try to come up with something super unique. SIGH.

Well, I guess I’m no different, because I didn’t want to share a blueberry recipe either! When I think about the color blue in the context of my kitchen, I immediately think of Pyrex. I’m a lover of vintage Pyrex in general, but my two favorite pieces just happen to be blue! The first is this absolutely beautiful turquoise butterprint mixing bowl.

Butterprint Pyrex

Butterprint is my favorite pattern, and that turquoise is such a sweet shade! I’ve seriously considered getting that butterprint rooster as a tattoo. Not sure if I’d do it in turquoise, though.

My second-favorite piece of Pyrex is this simple blue bowl, the smallest of the four pieces in the primary color mixing bowl set.

Blue Small Pyrex

I guess I’m a sucker for blue, because this shade just melts my heart! It’s so warm and peaceful. And I love how the blue fades into that beautiful almost translucent milk glass. This is my favorite bowl to use for snacks or noodles or, well, anything! I’m 100% in favor of using my Pyrex regularly, not letting it languish on the shelf. In fact, I keep my Pyrex bowls on display, but there are usually a couple of bowls missing because they’re in the drying rack!

Finally, this Pyrex-inspired print from Pocono Modern is my favorite piece of kitchen art. And it just happens to have a blue background!

Pyrex Art

Yay for blue!

Retro Recipe: Mustard!

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Day 9: Most retro recipe.

During my senior year of high school, we celebrated Spirit Week, with days where seniors were encouraged to dress in various costumes. One theme was ’80s Day. My silly friends and I always had to be just a little different (read: weird), and decided that since the administration hadn’t specified WHICH ’80s they meant, it was open to interpretation. So when the rest of the senior class showed up to school in leggings and neon with teased hair, we were in silver and black and shiny things… because we were from the 2080s. We thought we were oh so clever.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

Today’s prompt — Most Retro Recipe — got me thinking. Just how retro could I go?! Then last night, I came across this Food52 article about the history of mustard and immediately knew just how retro I would go. Guess when the first written recipe for mustard appeared? Not the 1500s or 1600s, as Steven and our friend Lara guessed when I posed the question. Nope, you have to go all the way back to 42 AD! Doesn’t that just blow your mind?! After learning just how retro mustard is, I went down a Google rabbit hole of mustard research and only surfaced for air to share some truly amazing mustard-inspired scribblings with Steven and Lara, such as this poem-recipe for mustard:

For lumbardus mustard
Take mustarde and let hit drye
Anonyn, Sir, wyturlye;
Stomper hit in a morter fyne,
And fars hit thurghe a clothe of lyne;
Do wyne therto and venegur gode,
Sturm hom wele togeder for the rode,
And make hit thyke inowghe thenne,
Whenne thou hit spendes byfore gode menne,
And make hit thynne with wyne, I say,
With diverse metes thou serve hit may.

— from Liber cure Cocorum, c. 1480

Be still, my Middle-English-loving heart! This cookbook written in verse is now my new favorite thing, and I want to cook everything from it.

But one thing at a time! Further research into historical mustard-making techniques revealed that ancient Roman mustard usually contained other nuts ground up with the mustard seeds, and that black mustard seeds were more commonly used than yellow. Intrigued, I decided to tweak the recipe a bit to come up with my own not-so-ancient Roman mustard… because the ancient Romans certainly didn’t have food processors.

Ancient Roman-Inspired Mustard
Makes way too much mustard

  • 1/2 cup black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • Scant 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the mustard seeds for about a minute. They should remain mostly whole. I had to grind the seeds in batches because they didn’t all fit in my mortar.

Add the ground seeds to a food processor, along with the pine nuts. Process for about thirty seconds, then add the remaining ingredients and process into a paste.

Transfer to a jar and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Roman Mustard

As you can see, this mustard looks… well, different from regular ol’ mustard! It hasn’t rested its full 24 hours yet, so I haven’t tried it in its final form. I’ll be sure to report back. ;)

 

 

New-to-Me MoFo Bloggers!

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Day 8: Reach out! Make a new vegan friend & tell us about it.

Whoa, you want me to make a friend in a single day?! That’s crazy talk. Despite my bloggerly loquaciousness, I’m not one to make fast friends. My friendships are more of a slow burn, if you will.

That said, in the eight days of MoFo so far, I’ve encountered a few new-to-me blogs (and bloggers!) that I’ve particularly been enjoying. Here are a few highlights:

I’ve always loved the way Vegan MoFo encourages bloggers to reach out and find new reads, so I love that there’s a prompt devoted to those relationships. In my life — both on- and offline! — I’m lucky to have many dear friends who share my ethics and ideals, and I cherish their company. I can’t imagine how isolating it would be if I didn’t have these relationships to sustain me. If you’re a vegan without a strong support network, don’t be afraid to reach out! My contact info is here if you want to chat. <3