Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Kidney Specialist....

My world is very sunny and hot lately, with heat indices over 100ºF, which is just darned hot for me. I am soooooo ready for winter, I really am. During the winter, I promise you that not once will you hear me say I'm ready for summer, tho. Never.

It's been almost two weeks since I've posted, my apologies, but I haven't felt much like cooking anything new. Or much of anything at all, really. Most of what I have cooked has been using up the stuff in the fridge, so it doesn't spoil. For instance, I used the last of the cabbage, carrots, and sprouting(really. VERY sprouting, lol)potatoes in a sort of boiled dinner, and then I used the leftovers from that the next night to make a vegetable hash: everything diced fine and fried up together, then a little apple cider vinegar poured over it. Very, very good!

But, all in all, I really am not feeling up to doing much lately. The visit to the kidney man went well. I am not dying, and I am not facing dialysis, both of which I am very grateful for. He thinks that the poor functioning of my kidney is reversible, that it is caused from too many ibuprofen for too many years, and has taken me completely off ibuprofen, as well as my pain med, Tramadol, and instead, has put me on Vicoden, and told me that I may use Tylenol. Sigh. It's not working, and I am in awe of how much the "cocktail" of ibuprofen and Tramadol had stopped my pain. I am now hurting in places that I didn't realize that I hurt...and am just about out of the vicoden to boot.

Kidney man has insisted that I go to a rheumatologist, but this isn't proving all that easy. I finally got to speak with her "scheduler" this AM, only to be told that they would have to contact kidney man for my records, have the records faxed to their office, and then they'd contact me about setting up an appointment. Oh, goody. Wonder how long this is going to take?!?!? Mainly all I can tell you is that I am heartily tired of people sticking needles in my arms and telling me to pee in a cup for them!! Next time someone offers to stick a needle in your arm, or asks you to pee in a cup, just tell them, "Not today, thanks.!!!!" LOL!!

I'll be back with more recipes eventually, but in the meantime, please keep me in your prayers, and, Happy Eating!!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Coconut Rice Pudding(vegan)

Back again...twice in one day...wow! This pudding came about because of the vanilla tofu I mentioned in the last post. I had leftover jasmine rice in the refrigerator, I had the tofu, I had coconut milk, and I had unsweetened shredded coconut. So, all I needed was someone to tell me how to put them all together into a pudding. My google search took me to http://eatair.blogspot.com
This is a great site, and this recipe is from someone there named Chris. It's a wonderful recipe, and Chris, thank you for posting it.

Coconut Rice Pudding(vegan)

2C each cooked rice, and soy milk
1/4C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 of a 6-oz package of silken tofu
2/3C raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs vegan margarine

In a medium sized saucepan, combine rice, 1 1/2 cup of the soy milk, the sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it starts to get a little thicker, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the silken tofu and the other 1/2 C soy milk in a blender until smooth and creamy. Add to the pan along with raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Cook about 2 minutes longer. Turn off heat and add margarine, stir until margarince is melted.
For coconut variation, replace 1C of the soy milk with coconut milk, omit raisins, and add a drained can of pineapple chunks. Can replace vanilla with coconut extract, but if you don't have any, don't worry about it.

Ok. First, I used only coconut milk, no soy milk at all. My silken tofu was the vanilla flavored, and if you haven't used it yet, you need to know that it is already textured like a pudding. It doesn't have to be drained or pressed, use it straight from the package. Second, I think, for me, anyway, that if I make this again, I will cut the cinnamon to only 1/4 tsp. The nutmeg is fine, but I added 1/2 tsp. of vanilla, instead of the 1/4, and was very pleased...but, I love vanilla. You might not. No raisins. I don't like raisins. No pineapple, either, as I didn't have any, and don't like it one bit! So instead of the pineapple, I added one good handful of the shredded coconut. OMG! This stuff is just soooooooooo good, it really is. I made it last night, and I hate to admit it, but I finished it this morning, lol. It's not something I'm going to make very often, I know, but I sure am glad that I tried it this time!!!

Until next time, Happy Eating!!!

Crookneck Squash/Zucchini Casserole(can be veganized); Cashew Gravy(vegan)

Welcome back to my world, very hot, sunny, and humid! Makes me awfully glad I don't have to be outside at all, believe me. There are a couple AT&T trucks across the street, doing whatever it is that phone men do, with the orange vests and the heavy hardhats on, and they truly have my sympathy today. It has to be miserable wearing those things in weather like this.

My first appointment with the kidney specialist is this coming Tuesday, the 23rd, at 11am. My boss is NOT happy about it, but since this doctor really is a specialist, we have to do what HE says, and not what Waffle House says, so I won't be working that day. tsk. gee. darn. breaks my heart...snicker. Anyway, please, again, keep me in your prayers, ok? Thanks.

Kroger is coming up in the world, and has stocked three new vegetarian/vegan products in the health food department, and I am delighted. The first one I noticed was seitan, two different flavors, but I don't remember what the flavors were. Sorry...senior moment, y'know. One of these days it will happen to you, too, I'm quite sure. The second product I noticed was the flavored tofus!!!! YIPPEE!!! They are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. I bought the vanilla one. And btw, I didn't bother with the seitan, as it is almost $3 for a box that looks like no more than two servings...I could be wrong...and I also have a log of it in my freezer. It's also ridiculously easy to make, and Kroger sells the vital wheat gluten needed for it. Anyway, I've digressed, sorry. The third thing I found was Tofutti "cheese," in two flavors: American, and Mozzarella, so I bought the Mozzarella. If it's a Tofutti product, then it's vegan, correct? I didn't see anything in the list of ingredients that would say otherwise, so I guess it is vegan.

So, on to the recipes: The crookneck squash/zucchini casserole was basically to use one of the fresh green bell peppers my neighbor grew and gave me, and to try the new vegan mozzarella "cheese." The only thing non-vegan about it is the goat cheese crumbles I used, so to veganize it, leave them out. Possibly you could use nutritional yeast, or more of the Tofutti cheeses in its place. Your choice...one of the great things about vegetarian cooking: you can play with a recipe any way you want to, and make it yours. And yes, I know I've said that before, lol.

Crookneck Squash/Zucchini Casserole

2 smallish yellow crookneck squashes, and two small zucchinis
1 bell pepper...mine was green, but I bet red would look really cool
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
3/5-oz. package goat cheese crumbles
five slices of Tofutti brand mozzarella "cheese"
About 1/2 tsp. oregano
About 1 tsp. smoked paprika
Black pepper to taste
A few good shakes of Japanese mirin(sweetened rice wine for cooking)

Preheat oven to 375ºF
Butter(ok, I use Blue Bonnet margarine, vegans can use Earth Balance)a 13"X9" baking pan. Slice the squash and the zucchini the long way, in thin "slabs." Core and seed the bell pepper, and dice it. Slice the onion into really thin rings. First layer is the zucchini slices, a good handful of the diced pepper, a good handful of the onion rings, and half the package of goat cheese crumbles. Second layer is the yellow squash, and then repeat the first layer, ending with the goat cheese and a few splashes of the mirin. Sprinkle the oregano and the smoked paprika over the top, and then layer the "cheese" slices across the top. Put all this in the oven and leave it there for 30-45 minutes, until the cheeses are bubbly and the veggies are tender. Take out of the oven, scoop onto a plate, and eat. Makes about four servings, I think.

I was totally impressed with myself, lol. This is wonderful, I love it, and I ate it again the next night, and will eat it again tonight. Before I started, I went to allrecipes.com, to find out what temperature and how long to cook it, and the recipe that I took the temp and time from used tomatoes as one layer, so if you wanted to, that's another option for you. I didn't want to, but if I'd had any fresh ones, I think I would use them. Even tho I used oregano, if you don't want to, or don't have any, try basil, thyme, tarragon, whatever you have or like. I even think that mint might work, too. If you want to make it with just the squash, or jsut the zucchini, that's fine, too. And FYI, while mine was baking, it smelled like a pizza! Sort of tasted like one, too...show me a downside to that, eh?

With the casserole I had a baked potato with cashew gravy. I put the potato in the oven, at the same temp as the casserole, and waited about 30 minutes before I put the casserole in, and that way, they were done at the same time. While they were cooking, I made the cashew gravy...very, very easy and twice as good!!

Cashew Gravy(vegan)

2C water
1/2C cashews
2 Tbs. each cornstarch and onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Place everything in blender and liquify. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat gravy, stirring constantly until thickened. Add more water if gravy becomes too thick. [ And it really will get thick, be aware of that.]

This is the third recipe I've used for cashew gravy, and
all of them have been really, really good. So, I don't think there's such a thing as a bad cashew gravy, lol. If you've never tried one, do so, and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Um, you do have to like cashews, tho...snicker. Until next time, Happy Eating.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TVP Sausage Crumbles(vegan)

Y'know, I get really frustrated with this computer sometimes...especially when it's my own fault and I click the wrong button at the wrong time, and post a post before it's ready, lol. I bet you've done that once or twice, also, right? Sure ya have...and if you haven't, I'm sure you will!!!

I don't remember if I posted this last week or not, but Saturday afternoon I went back to my doctor, for refill prescriptions and the results of the CT scan. First of all, whoever has been praying for me, thank you, thank you, thank you! The mass in my kidney was just a cyst, praise God. But. Check this out: I have kidney stones! Huh? Me? Ummm, no, thank you, I do NOT want them, lol. So far they haven't bothered me at all, and I was totally astounded to see that I had them. I also have some hardening of the arteries, which I don't like.

And I don't remember if I posted this or not, but because my old washing machine was dying, slowly and painfully, I put it out of its misery last Friday, and had a "new" one delivered and hooked up. And it works, and it looks good. So I'm pleased.

For whatever reason, I got up at 3:30 this morning. Mainly because I was tired of waking up, going back to sleep, waking up, going back to sleep, ad nauseum, sigh. Now it's about 7:45am, Eastern time, and so far this morning, I have washed two loads of laundry. The white load is folded and put away, and the dark load is hanging up to dry. Changed the linens on the bed. Swished the toilet and swiped the sink, and mopped the bathroom floor. Took the trash out. Washed the dishes. Swept and mopped the kitchen floor. And of course I'm dressed, complete with shoes and...ugh...bra. Even put on a little makeup this morning, but have no idea why. I'm not going anywhere today...at least, I HOPE I'm not going anywhere today, lol. Now I'm hungry, and just about ready to fall asleep right here at the computer, lol. But first, a recipe for you, using TVP, which I've recently discovered, and really and truly enjoy using. I found this recipe on www.vegweb.com
and it was donated by "peppermint stix." The honey and the liquid smoke that I added weren't in the original recipe, but they were suggested by a couple people that had critiqued the recipe. I read about ten, I think, and every one of them really loved this stuff.

TVP is textured vegetable protein, or soy protein, if you prefer, and I have no idea how it's made. It is used as a vegetarian/vegan meat substitute, but don't expect to actually taste any meat when you use it, even tho it does have a pleasant flavor, and I love the texture. I found mine at Kroger, in the natural foods/health foods department, so if you grocery shop at Kroger, or, a big supermarket, chances are good that you'll find it there, rather than having to make a special trip to a health foods store. Which I would LOVE to do...mainly to Sevenanda, in Little Five Points, Atlanta. Anyway.................................

TVP Sausage Crumbles

2 Tbs. soy sauce or Tamari
1 tsp. EACH onion powder and sage
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp EACH fennel seeds and thyme
1/8 tsp EACH cayenne pepper and black pepper
salt to taste
1C boiling water[I also added 1 tsp. liquid smoke and 2 tsp. honey, right in the water, to mix it evenly with the other ingredients.]
2-3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except Tvp, water, and evoo. Pour the boiling water, with the liquid smoke and honey[IF you choose to use them], over everything, and mix it together. Add the cup of TVP, stir well, and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Taste to see if seasonings need adjusting.

Put the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add mixture, and fry until well browned. You may need more oil if the pan becomes too dry.

These are great on pizza, in spaghetti sauce, and with scrambled tofu.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Variation: form into 2 inch balls and flatten slightly into patties, then fry.

Now, I hate to tell you this, but, unlike the glowing reviews this got on vegweb.com, I didn't like it very much at all. There was too much fennel flavor, for one thing, and the two peppers made it too "hot" for me. I made a gravy out of it, with half water and half soy milk, using cornstarch as a thickener, and spooned it over hot, buttered biscuits. Making the gravy helped to lighten the spice taste somewhat, but still not enough. But, even so, I ate it again the next night, and rather than throw it away, I froze what I didn't eat right then. It's a meal, and I really do hate to waste food. Will I make it again? Probably, but I don't think I'll use any cayenne at all, just the black pepper, and either much less fennel seed, or, none at all.

Last Friday I gave you a recipe for Chickpea Cutlets, and when I made them myself, I had two left over. I put those in a baggie, and then in the refrigerator. Last night I hauled them out, diced them fairly small, and made an onion gravy with them. Now, THAT was good. That was VERY good. All I did was to fry a thinly sliced medium onion, then add the small cubes of the cutlets, and let them both brown up some. Then I covered the cutlets with a healthy dollop of Kroger brand "1883" steak sauce, their version of 57 Sauce, and is very good. Once that was all stirred thru the onions and cubes, I dumped about two cups of water into the whole shebang, and then a mixture of cornstarch and water, to thicken it all, which it certainly did. In fact, I had to use more water, as it was pretty thick. I spooned a good bit of it over a hamburger bun, heated some canned corn, and dined like royalty, lol. It was very good, and to my delight, there is some leftover, so guess what supper is tonight?!?!?

Since I'm starving, and I can't think of anything to say, I'm leaving you! Until next time, Happy Eating!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chickpea Cutlets(vegan); Chickpea-Hijiki Salad Sammiches(vegan)

No rain today, but I really wish it would, lol. You know I love rainy days. But, it's lovely out there, which is probably the way most folks prefer it. Besides, if it were raining, I might not get my "new" washing machine delivered this afternoon, and I'm really looking forward to having it.

BTW, I just posted another favorite website for you to browse, if you wish, another non-food blog. The name of it is "The Unclutterer," and it's extremely interesting reading, not the usual how-to unclutter and get organized for life type of thing at all. I did get a couple of really good ideas from it, tho, and some links to some other good sites, as well. Check it out when you have time.

I don't know if I've mentioned on here or not that I don't like chickpeas(garbanzos), but for years and years, I did NOT like them. Strangely enough, my taste seems to have changed, because suddenly, I think they're pretty darned good. Go figure, right? Both recipes today...LOL! I hear rain on the skylight, no kidding!!!...use chickpeas, and both recipes are keepers. The Chickpea Cutlets are from "Veganomicon," and the Chickpea-Hijiki recipe is from "Vegan with a Vengeance," and both books, as you probably already know, are by Isa Chandra Muskovitz, and Terry Hope Romero also co-wrote "Veganomicon." So, without further chatter, here are the recipes:

Chickpea Cutlets
Makes four cutlets

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup EACH plain bread crumbs and vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated with a microplane grater
1/2 tsp. EACH lemon zest, dried thyme, and Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp. dried rubbed sage
olive oil for panfrying.

In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left. Add the remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed.

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or castiron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile divide the cutlet dough into four equal pieces. To form the cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6 X 4-ince rectangular cutlet shape. The easiest way to do this is to first form a rectangular shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.

Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They're ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Just in case you were wondering, you can also bake these, too!! Baking these patties gives them a toothsome chewy texture and firm bite. Preheat oven to 375ºF, lightly oil baking sheet. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes until firm and golden-brown.

Well, I just found out why mine were so soft and chewy on the insides, lol: I didn't notice the part that says to turn them over and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Duh. Even so, they were good, and I enjoyed them. The only thing I did differently from the recipe was to cut the soy sauce to 1 tbs. instead of 2, as I'm not crazy about soy sauce. I made, of all things, some homemade tartar sauce to dip the cutlets in, and scarfed down two without any problem at all, and yup, will definitely make them again.

I think these would be good with just about any other kind of bean you like, and when I make them again, there's a good chance that I'll use either canellini or pintos, my two favorite beans. I also think that with the addition of some diced onion, and maybe some shredded carrot, the recipe would make great burgers, too.

As I said, I made tartar sauce, but some of the recommendations in the book were mustard sauce, mushroom gravy, and an onion gravy. They all sound good to me, but you can use whatever you like...of course!

Before I start the chickpea and hijiki recipe, for anyone that doesn't already know, hijiki is a type of sea vegetable...in other words, seaweed. I don't have any hijiki, but I do have dried wakame, which is also a sea vegetable, so that's what i used. The salad is wonderful, and is quite apt to become a regular sammich filling for me. This one comes from "Vegan with a Vengeance." Enjoy.

Chickpea-Hijiki Salad Sammiches

Makes four sammiches

1 Tbs. dried hijiki
boiling water
1(15-oz.)can chickpeas, drained
3 Tbs. Vegannaise
2 Tbs. EACH apple cider vinegar and minced onion
1/2 C peeled and shredded carrot
salt and black pepper to taste
sammich fixings(lettuce, tomato, and onion0
8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

Place the hijiki in a small bowl and pour boiling water over it to cover. Cover the bowl with a plate and let the hijiki sit for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until no whole beans are left. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. when the hijiki is ready, drain and combine it with the chickpea mixture. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes; serve on toasted whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

And that's all there is to it. It's awfully good, there's nothing else I can say about it, lol. The only thing I can add is that altho I'm still clueless as to what hijiki tastes like, I like the flavor of the wakame. I grew up in the state of Maine, and spent a fair amount of time around the ocean, so the wakame smell and taste sort of makes me a little homesick. And, my "new" washing machine is here, so I'm thru for today. Until next time, Happy Eating!!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rainy day, which is fine with me, as long as I don't have to go out in it, and I don't! I don't have to leave the house again, if I don't want to, until Saturday afternoon, around 1:45pm, as I have another doctor's appointment. And, since my boss gave me the option of taking either Saturday or Sunday off this week, and since I chose Saturday, I have three days off in a row this week, sort of a mini-vacation!!!

This week I have a recipe for you that I think is great: Tofu Sloppy Joes. I made it Tuesday for my supper, and loved it, and will most definitely have it again. It came from the Savvy Vegetarian site, and with all due apologies to the owner of that site, I don't have the URL for this. This is one that I copied by hand, when I first started hunting for vegetarian recipes to try, and at that time I didn't stop to think that it would be a good idea to provide the URL and a link. So, again, I'm sorry for this.

Tofu Sloppy Joes

Makes 4-6 buns worth:

1 lb. firm tofu
2 Tbs. oil
1Tbs. chili powder
2 Tbs. EACH minced green pepper, onion, and parsley
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 C water
1/4 C ketchup
2 tsp. EACH cider vinegar and brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mash tofu, and mince onion, green pepper, and parsley.
2. Heat oil in large frying pan, and fry tofu withe chili and veggies for 5 minutes, on high.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.
Serve over buns with fixin's.

Ok, first of all, there's no mention of draining and pressing the tofu, but I did it anyway. You do what's easiest for you. The oil I used was half olive oil and half Earth Balance "butter." My tastebuds say that the dish needs more of both the vinegar and the brown sugar, but again, whatever works for you. My side dishes were mashed potatoes and spinach, so I didn't use the buns. Maybe another time I will, but I really liked it with the potatoes. Bread would be good, too, I think.

Now a little news to share with you, which you may or may not already know. I don't make scratch biscuits, I think you've read that here, and instead of scratch, I've been using a box mix: Pioneer Buttermilk brand, and love it! But, for you vegans, it's not vegan. I read on a vegan site the other day, tho, that Bisquick IS vegan. Yesterday at Kroger, I checked the ingredient list for Bisquick, and yup, it's vegan. It's quite a bit more expensive than the Pioneer brand, tho, so I'm not sure if I'm going to change to Bisquick or not.

The other thing I wanted to share with you is about Blue Bonnet margarine, which as I think you already know, is what I use. It's not vegan, tho, but I do NOT like Earth Balance, so haven't changed margarine brands. But. On the same site that I found the Bisquick information, I also read that Blue Bonnet LITE margarine is vegan. Yesterday at good ol' Kroger I checked the ingredient list on the LITE, and yup, it's vegan. So, if you choose to do so, you vegans can use the Blue Bonnet LITE, which is a WHOLE LOT cheaper than Earth Balance. And, it's good, too!

I can't think of anything else to say, and I'm hungry, so, until next time, Happy Eating!!!
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