Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meagan-y Meagan Eats!

So tonight I was determined to cook with ingredients we actually had in the house (as opposed to my usual "I can totally make this! I have all the ingredients...oh. I guess I need to go out and get star anise. And shitake mushrooms. And bok choy.  But other than that, I can totally just whip it together. Right after I figure out how to use the food processor. Oh, and coriander seeds. Need those too. Will ground coriander do? Man." (At this point, I go out to the store for the first of several trips I will make that evening).

So because we had some avocados, I made guacamole with this recipe. 
I followed the recipe exactly, 'cept I didn't use the entire half onion. No matter how finely I diced the onions, I didn't want the gauc to get onion-overwhelm and I wasn't going to take on the Herculean task of putting the food processor together. (SHUT UP I HAVE POOR SPATIAL REASONING SKILLS IT'S MEAN TO LAUGH AT DISABLED PEOPLE). So I used about a quarter of the onion. 

The recipe says to leave the gauc out for an hour, which I side-eyed. Wouldn't it go brown? Luckily, my roommate has evolved and accurate opinions about how to cover guacamole with cling-wrap, so it worked out. 

Basically, the technique involves making sure the cling-wrap is down OVER the guacamole. Allow me to demonstrate with the guac leftovers:

Just try to get in, oxygen. I fucking dare you.
Anyway, my roomie put on some brown rice in her rice-maker/vegetable steamer (no, I don't know how to use that, either. I SAID SHUT IT), and I heated the rest of the onion in a pot with some olive oil for five minutes, added some garlic, and heated two cans of black beans (using about half a cup of the bean broth) with lots of cumin, salt, pepper, lemon-pepper, and a little cayenne (also about five minutes).

Put rice, beans, and guacamole together with some salsa and what do you have? You basically have a bean bowl from Chipotle! Okay, it's also a staple meal from many cultures. But forgive me if my point of reference is a Chipotle bean bowl. 

My roomie was out when the food was all ready, so I ate before her. When I heard her come in, I waited for a few minutes, then snuck into the kitchen to manipulate a compliment out of her:

"This is so good!" she said, upon seeing me.

"I know," I said, humbly, then added: "When I was eating it, I thought it was almost as good a Chipotle bean bowl."

"I think it's better," she said. 


I really was proud, you guys. Okay, so I used a recipe for a guacamole. (Um, it's also possible that back in the day I looked at this as a guide for making rice and beans. SHUT IT). And I didn't exactly think up the idea for a meal of rice, beans, and guacamole by myself. But...but...I didn't have to do extra shopping! And it was really easy! And it was really good! The recipe for guacamole is especially a keeper. 

So it spurred me to share some more of my vegan cooking of late. 

I didn't take pictures of tonight's meal, as I seem to have fallen out of the habit of obsessively photographing everything I cook. Maybe...because...I cook...more regularly...? So it's not as epic of an event? Or maybe because I'm not so great at photographing food and it never looks as good in the pictures as I want it to? 

But, anywhoodle, I've got a backlog of vegan recipes. As I've shared before, I'm currently a meagan, so I can go out and enjoy a burger every once in a while, but I cook vegan when I cook. 

Cooking vegan, I've decided, is awesome. Mexican food, particularly, is a bit of a revelation. 

Don't get me wrong, I love sour cream and cheese. But so much Mexican food I've eaten in my life has been drenched in cheese and sour cream, until that's almost all you really taste. Without sour cream and/or cheese, the flavors of the dishes stand out more -- or perhaps you have to flavor things more strongly because you know you won't have tons of cheese to compensate?  

Here's a recipe for sweet-potato-and-black-bean enchiladas that I particularly recommend. I did not make the home-made sauce, however; I just used store-bought salsa verde. 

I originally got the recipe off this blog, coffee: calendar: cooking, which has been a life-saver since I began this whole vegan-cooking thing (FULL DISCLOSURE: I KNOW THE LADY WHO DOES THIS BLOG).

I was also indebted to her for a recipe for a Vegan Pho (which is pretty much where the above story of going out to buy star anise and bok choy comes from). However, I will say that although the Pho was a bit of a pain to cook (and, no, substituting ground coriander for coriander seeds doesn't work -- it results in a broth that is way too strong-tasting-of-coriander, so that you must add water to the broth to soothe that particular disaster), the Pho was yummy and the leftovers lasted usefully for several days -- a lot of bang for the I-have-to-go-out-and-buy-star-anise buck, that recipe. 

Star anise looks like this, by the way:

I'm a star!

I also made this recipe for a Thai Soba Noodle Bowl, at coffee: calendar: cooking's recommendation, and this was another example of a vegan recipe that was kind of a pain to make, but really, really good.

Again, don't scrimp on the seasoning: the lemongrass is what really makes this sauce; you need it. I know, it's a pain to go out and buy lemongrass or in my case steal it from my parents what? don't judge me I cook vegan but it's worth it.

You end up making a lot of sauce, so I ate the sauce once with udon noodles and then again with soba noodles. You can eat the sauce with lots of different kinds of noodles, is what I'm saying. Lots of leftover bang for your lemongrass buck!

It's also possible that making the above Noodle Bowl recipe is what killed my jones for taking pictures of food. Because, man, my pictures looked bad. 

Okay, the grated lime wasn't so bad:

I did eventually figure out how to put the food processor together: 

And I processed some food! 

And, okay, so the sauce didn't look so great, but it's sauce!

The udon noodles and tofu don't look that great, either, but still: 

Putting it all together, should....

Good god:

Maybe a close-up would be better? 

Hmmm, much worse, actually. Let's go even closer?:



I have to say that this recipe also produced a great, easy way of cooking tofu for me: 

Preheat the oven to 400′. Cut the tofu into 2” cubes, spread them on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tbsp tamari sauce and 2 tsp sesame oil and bake for about 25 minutes until the edges are browned.

This is a super-easy way to cook tofu that's quite delicious. Easy to make and serve with any vegetable, really (I made it with roasted butternut squash -- et viola, simple vegan meal). 

And I'm also indebted to this recipe for chickpeas and kale for a quick vegan affair. 

And this recipe for Snobby Joes -- vegan Sloppy Joes -- is another keeper, although another meal that doesn't stand up well in pictures: 

I just used regular old mustard: 

And how fun is it when a recipe calls for maple syrup? So fun: 

And the result was yummy, even if not aesthetically pleasing.

Snobby Joes are better than you.

So yeah, I'm getting more comfy with vegan cooking, and I'm slowly-but-surely developing more go-to ways to cooking that don't involve me squinting at a computer screen nervously every five seconds. Basically: kale, rice, tofu, black beans, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, avocados, lentils, noodles, and various spices and seasonings = awesome in various combos. Filling, yummy, healthy, and leftover-producing.

But don't go thinking that I eat like this all the time. When I had last had a huge batch of papers to grade, my diet devolved into this: 

So yeah. There's that.

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