Monday, August 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes & Breakfast "Sausage"

A while back, I bought some Bob's Red Mill gluten-free baking mix and have been using it for all sorts of things. My favorite, so far, has been pancakes. (Strangely enough, one of the intended uses for the mix is biscuits, and I haven't made those at all. I think I'm a little afraid to!)

Today, I decided to make some pancakes for lunch today, and the bf made some breakfast "sausage" with "beef" TVP (that's Textured Vegetable Protein, for those that don't know), vegan chili mix, onions, garlic, Braggs, and liquid smoke. He mixed it all together and fried it in a little bit of canola oil until he decided it was done. Upon tasting it, he decided that the "sausage" had too strong of a flavor on its own, but that it tasted great wrapped in a pancake with a bit of melted Earth Balance.

I've never been one for savory pancakes (I ate most of mine with some lavender syrup, and I've been regularly known to eat them with 100% fruit jelly), but I decided to give this whole "faux pig in a blanket" thing a go.

It was surprisingly tasty.

So much so that I ended up eating *two* of my precious pancakes topped with "sausage".

Granted, it was very nice to eat the rest of them with the lavender syrup, but those sausage pancakes were an unexpectedly awesome way to start off lunch.

(Unfortunately, I was too hungry to take pictures. I'd say "bad blogger, no biscuit", but you already know that I'm not making biscuits. Scared to, you might say.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vegan Spotlight on Pennsic and Vegan Camping Food

Remember me saying that I travel a lot, since I'm a musician? Well, I just got back from Pennsic (an SCA event in Slippery Rock, PA), and though I bought very little food while I was there (we packed more than enough food for the entire run), I wanted to mention that Rose's Bread Boule (in the Pennsic food court) has vegan chili and vegan stew in bread bowls (I had the vegan stew last year, and it was very good), Pennsic Produce (also in the food court) has lots of fresh veggies and fruits, including a chopped raw veggie mix in their cooler, and Your Inner Vagabond (at the end of the isle with Calontir Trim, next to the Market Stage) has lots of coffee and non-coffee drinks which are vegan as-is or can be made with soymilk, as well as several vegan food options (all of which are marked V on the menu), such as dolmas, baba ganouj, tabouli, and a couple of sweet deserts.

Mark (my boyfriend/musical partner) and I performed inside Your Inner Vagabond (and got a great response), and decided to order a coffee drink (one with iced coffee, soy milk, and pearls like you get in bubble tea). We went to the counter and ordered it, but when the gal found out that we wanted it for there instead of to go, she gave us a menu and told us to sit down. I thought perhaps she was giving us the chance to figure out what food we might want to order to go along with the drink, but about 30 minutes later, when the drink never came out (and no one came over to us to take our order), we finally gave up and left. The drink sounded like it would be delicious; I'll just have to try again next year.

Since Mark and I were trying to conserve money, we did a couple of shopping trips at Wheatsville Co-Op to prepare our camping food. We bought two jars of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter for sandwiches, two boxes of Clif Bars (for future reference, I like the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bars, and am not nearly as fond of the Oatmeal Rasin or Crunchy Peanut Butter), several packets of Tasty Bite vegan Indian food, and some containers of food from the bulk section - rice, orzo, TVP (both "chicken" and "beef"), chili mix, and refried beans mix. We also bought a few packets of Chreese sauce and a box of instant mashed potatoes. Along with our soy milk powder, oil, and spices, we were able to make some decent dinners - "cheesy" orzo and TVP, "cheesy" mashed potatoes, and bean/chili mix with rice. For dinner the first night, we had thin rice noodles (donated by one of my friends who was cleaning out her pantry before moving), pasta sauce, and sliced Sweet Italian with Tomato and Basil sausages by Tofurky. Since that meal only used two of the four sausages, we sliced the other two length-wise and had them on sandwiches for lunch the next day. Another dinner was made with the rice noodles, pasta sauce, canned sliced mushrooms, and a yellow squash that we bought from the produce section. We also bought a couple cans of Amy's vegan soups, a can of green beans, a can of organic peas, and a can of vegan dolmas to round things out. For breakfast, we had either oatmeal (also bought from the bulk isle) or breakfast rice or orzo (rice or orzo with soymilk, raisins, and a little raw sugar). The one thing that we were missing was bread - we were worried that the regular bread I get (with very little or no preservatives) wouldn't travel well - so we bought a bag of potato bread from the Cooper's General Store at Pennsic (which happened to be vegan - yay!) Speaking of the General Store - they also have frozen strawberry bars (which seem to be relatively healthy) for about $1.30 or so. These are *wonderful* when the weather is hot outside!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Chip Car Cookies

Even after I made the chocolate chip cookies a few weeks ago, Mark was still craving cookies today. Since last Sunday was his birthday, I decided to indulge him while also trying out this awesome technique for baking cookies in one's car. I figure it's a win-win - we get cookies, and I can take advantage of our 102ยบ F sunny weather *and* not heat up my apartment by using my oven!

Since I only had 1 cup of flour left in the house (and practically no oil), I wanted to find a cookie recipe that called for a nice round number of cups of flour. I chose Happy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies from VegWeb, and halved the entire thing. Instead of chocolate chips, I used the last remaining 2/3 of a puck of Ibarra Mexican drinking chocolate. This also gave me the opportunity to dance into the living room where Mark was working and proclaim "Stop! Hammer Time!" after I'd borrowed his hammer to smash the chocolate. (Yes, I'm a geek. What gave me away?)

Unbaked Vegan Car Cookies

After halving the recipe, I ended up with 9 cookies. I figure this is ok - if the experiment doesn't work, then we haven't wasted too much, and if it's even a partial success, then we've got 9 cookies!

Vegan Car Cookies - Ready To Bake!

I put the cookies into the car around 3 pm. At 4:30, my car was in full shade (the only time I've ever regretted getting the Good Parking Spot (tm)!), so I moved it to a bank of spots diagonal from my apartment, which meant that the sun was coming in the side instead of the front. I moved the cookie sheet from the passenger's side dash to right in the center, balanced on top of the clock console so that it was getting full sun again.

Vegan Car Cookies - After The Move

As you can see, the cookies had flattened out a bit at this point. I left them in the car until about 7:15 pm, and then brought them inside.

Vegan Car Cookies - Done!

The tops of the cookies were done - solid and just slightly crispy. The bottoms weren't really all that done, and one or two cookies lost the middle part of their bottoms when I picked them up off the cookie sheet. (This wasn't the end of the world; I just scooped up the middles and stuck them back where they belonged.)

The verdict? These cookies were actually pretty tasty - soft yet slightly crunchy on the tops. Next time I make them, I'll make sure to put them in the car earlier in the day so that they'll have more time in direct sunlight (and it'll be hotter for longer). All in all, I'm calling this one a win!