Raw Tuesdays…on Thursday & a question for my dear Vegan friends…

Raw Tuesday went down as planned, though not blogged, but I *am* on vacation and I needed to get that Daring Bakers post up yesterday, so here is this week’s installment of Raw Tuesdays on, well, Thursday!

Breakfast was yet another post-run green smoothie. I will take a picture of one of those things eventually (I should be able to since I drink one pretty much every morning!). My two most popular choices are 1) almond milk, a banana, a large, cored apple added to a blender of loosely-packed spinach or 2) a banana, a cup of fresh blueberries or strawberries, and apple juice or almond milk with spinach. Yum! Depending on how hard my morning run was or how busy I am, I sometimes find myself needing a snack mid-morning. I caved to my inner-consumer and did buy a few of these:

In my defense, I don’t have a food processor here, so I can’t make these, which are a billion times less expensive and just as yum! Often what I’ll do is have about a half a bar before a run and the other half as a 10ish snacky-poo.

For lunch we had the “Baja Cheeze Burrito with Taco Nut Meat and Red Pepper Corn Salsa” from Ani’s Raw Kitchen. We were “supposed” to eat them wrapped in cabbage leaves, but we used collards, because we’re punk rock like that. While I didn’t manage to remember to snap a pic at lunch, I did remember to take a picture of our dinner, which was our left-overs served over salad rather than as wrap :

This is a crappy picture, and I’m sorry, but if you look carefully you can see the globs of green Baja Cheeze, Nut Taco Meat Romaine boats sitting on the spinach, and the Red Pepper Corn Salsa piled on in the middle. We mostly liked this trio. The salsa was fun because corn cut fresh from the cob is always a good thing, and the Baja Cheeze was very yummy, but a little rich. We really liked the Taco Nut Meat, but found ourselves mixing it with extra tomatoes and spinach to lighten it up a little. There is a very similar taco meat recipe to the one we used here over at Jen’s Fuel section (and while you’re there, check out her many other offerings!).

After lunch we made up a batch of “Cashew Coconut Pudding” to snack on with some fruit :

We made up a big fruit salad with watermelon, blueberries, bananas and gogi berries and served it up with the pudding. The pudding recipe made a huge amount, and we were able to snack on it for a few days, which is always a good thing. It’s really just cashews, water, dates & shredded coconut all whirled together, but it’s yummy!

What we’ve noticed as we’re trying to eat more and more raw meals and snacks is that it does require a bit of planning, but also how expensive the nuts and dried fruits are. I know that we’re in the midst of a global food crisis and that food prices have gone up as much as 85% on certain items, but I was surprised to see foods here in the U.S. nearly as expensive as in Europe!

Now for a little question : What is your favourite Raw Foods book? I am hoping to buy one more Raw foods book before I leave for home, and would love some suggestions! The only thing is I don’t have a dehydrator, so a book that’s reliant on dehydrators won’t really work for me. I would love some feedback, so feel free to leave a comment or email me!

Jen’s Veggie Nori Rolls For Caterpillars & People, Too!

We love bugs. Spiders. Flies. Caterpillars. Ants. (We love them more when they’re outside, of course!)

Kittee, aka Cake Maker to the Stars, has some lovely caterpillar stories & photos and I was sharing them with the Guppy recently since we are apartment dwellers and even at the park it’s hard to find any really cool caterpillars this Spring (global warming…). She already loves butterflies, and when I told her that caterpillars are “baby” butterflies (everything she finds cute is a baby. Elephants are babies. Cows. Bumble bees, etc.) she really got excited.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m having a few issues getting my dear little Guppy to eat anything other than cookies or bread or raw fruit (before she was 2 she ate EVERYTHING). I involve her as much as I can involve a just-turned-three-year-old, and bring her with me to the market square to help chose the veggies, etc.

We were at the marché and I bought some baby spinach leaves and she said, “Hey, Mumma, I want some leaves, just like a caterpillar!”. Remaining guardedly optimistic I rinsed off a leaf with some water and she ate it, all of it, and said “more, please”!

When we got home it was time to prepare dinner, and I wanted to ride this “leaf” thing as long as possible. Most of you crazy kids know Jen of Veg*Triathlete (who will return to kicking athletic ass after recovering from bobos…:( damn IR list anyway). She has such an excellent “Fuel” section on her blog, and I love letting her plan my meals :). She had some lovely Peanut Veggie Nori Rolls posted and I just had to try them, especially giving that we are all about “leaves” and caterpillars right now. They have the added bonus of being a “hands-on” project-type meal, and we’re all about that!

The Guppy is showing us how caterpillars eat.

First we made the marinade, then we washed & dried the lettuce & veggies we’d be using. For veggies we used thin carrot sticks, green onions, thin-sliced red pepper, pineapple, and zucchini. We put them in a large bowl with the marinade & made sure that everything was well covered.

Next came the rolling part. This was the first time that the Guppy was to participate in the rolling of the Nori. She was pretty excited about it, and she kept calling them sushis. Silly kiddo.

Not sure how many of you have done any Nori rolling with a Guppy-aged kiddo. If you’re ok with everything being sort of all over the place (the floor, your shirt, your pants, the table…) then it’s ok. Heck, I’m messy, so I guess it’s normal for a child to get sloppy- and that’s the fun of the project. Nori rolls are like the finger painting of the culinary world. I just thought to myself, be like the lettuce, just receptive and waiting for all the goodness to be bestowed upon you… (so yoga of meself!)

We saved what as left of the marinated and used it as a dipping sauce. Everything went into the fridge until Mr. Fish came home, then we went to town! It was so good! I wish I could say the Guppy ate three rolls and loved them. She had a few bites then asked for apricots. Oh well. I’ll definitely make these again! Go check out the link to get the low-down on these babies!

Quinoa, Tempeh & Sautéed Veggies

Nothing terribly original here today, kids. However, lack of originality does not negate healthful tastiness!

It is suddenly summer here in ma petite ville française, and I have been swapping my “computer time” for “enjoying the gorgeous outdoors” time. We live in a generally mild climate, and if that pesky GLOBAL WARMING wasn’t futzing with the environment, it would have been warm and sunny, gee, about a month or two ago. We were dealing with unseasonably wet and cool weather (I once counted the meteorologist use the word unseasonably followed by the adjectives: cold, wet & rainy nine times during her post-evening news diatribe. That’s encouraging.) Since about two weeks ago we’ve been enjoying temps in the mid/high 70sF/20sC, bright sun, gentle breezes…lovely!

Gorgeous weather aside, one cannot live on Vitamin D alone (hélas), so the food must be prepared…

I was feeling rather guilty of blog neglect, so I snapped a picture of what I threw together for dinner yesterday. I have really been on a quinoa kick lately, mostly because it’s so darn quick & nourishing- nature’s fast food grain. I make a lot of this sort of dish because the quinoa is done when you’ve finished tending to your veggies, and it’s just as delicious served warm as it is when presented the next day as a cool, composed salad straight from the fridge. I’m trying to be better about remembering my pumpkin seeds since my iron is a wee bit low…so should you! Eat your pumpkin seeds everyone! I soak a handful or two over night, then drain and put in the fridge and throw them into or onto everything I can: salads, sautées, smoothies (and even things that don’t begin with the letter “S”).

Quinoa, Tempeh & Sautéed Veggies

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 package of tempeh, cubed & sautéed until brown & crispyish
  • 1 courgette/zucchini, chunk cut
  • garlic cloves (to taste) diced up
  • onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chunk cut
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons rice syrup
  • 5 tablespoons (aprox. I didn’t measure) soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup soaked pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup fresh parsley

This is really complex, so get ready… :)

Sautée the garlic and onion for about a minute or two in the sesame oil, then add the carrots & courgette, and maybe add just a smidge (no official measure here people) of water, then cover and leave to cook on low heat. Forget about veggies while washing your dishes. Remember them in time to stir them once or twice, and when they are just-right soft, take them off the flame and pour them into a large salad bowl with the tempeh and quinoa. In a small sauce pan, briefly sautée the green onions, for maybe two minutes, than add the rice syrup and soy sauce. It’ll get very liquid and bubbly. Pour this over the quinoa/veggie mixture and be careful to distribute evenly. Toss in the parsley rather than forgetting it in the bowl on the counter until after dinner like I did, and the pumpkin seeds. Voila!

If you are a fan of the quinoa as I am, go visit the lovely & eloquent Ricki at Diet, Dessert & Dogs. She was running a fun quinoa-series of recipes a bit back, and there were lots of great links to quinoa recipes galore!

Tourte de pommes de terre à la crème de soja – or – Potato Tourte meets Pastie Pie

I’m going to begin with a little hi and thanks to all the wonderful Daring Bakers who have been so encouraging and supportive. My first challenge was, compared to the brillant and fabulous cakes made by my peers, like rose water to Chanel n°5, but everyone has been so sweet, and I have already learned much and am anticipating our next défi!

J’aimerais commencer avec un petit bonjour et un grand merci à tous les Daring Bakers pour leur soutien et pour tous les encouragements. Mon premier défi était loin d’être aussi beau que les gâteaux fait par les autres, le mien faisait genre eau de rose au lieu du Chanel n° 5, mais tout le monde était vraiment super sympa, et j’ai déjà appris beaucoup, donc j’ai hâte pour notre prochain challenge!

Going through some oft looked-over cookbooks gathering dust on the shelf, I began leafing through Tofu, Soja et compagnie, part of the Marabout Chef series of cookbooks. A well-meaning friend gave me this book about four years ago, probably because of seeing the”tofu” and “soja” in the title and thinking it would be something I would use. Well…kinda, because the book is not at all vegetarian or vegan, but rather has all sorts of recipes which do indeed use tofu and soy, but also cow and pig and fish. This would explain why I don’t often look through it.

Je triais mes livres de cuisine – ceux qui sont enrobés avec une bonne petite couche de poussière – et je me suis mis à feuilleter Tofu, Soja et compagnie (qui fait partie des livres “Marabout Chef”). Ce livre m’a été offert par un copain plein de bonnes intentions, qui, après avoir vu le “tofu” et le “soja” écrit en grand a cru bien faire. Et bien, le petit “hic” du livre pour moi et que ce n’est guère un livre de cuisine végétarien, au contraire, il n’y a qu’une petite poignée de recettes sans viande. Et donc voila pourquoi je ne m’en sers pas des masses!

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That being said, there are a few recipes I have tried, and they have yielded some delicious results. The following is a recipe I have adapted quite a bit and it is just delicious (if I do say so myself). This tastes an awful lot like a Pastie, a dish a bit similar in idea to a calazone in shape & size. The flaky outer crust was meant to keep the inside nice and warm (for a pastie this often means meat, potato, carrot, turnip, etc). This was a very typical dish for miners, which is why you often find pasties in areas where there were mines that were exploited at the end of the 19th century – there were often large communites of European immigrants making pasties in hopes of having a warm meal in often sub-zero temps.) You’ll need a pastry crust – I used the Basic Single Pastry Crust recipe from Veganomicon because I love that one for quiches & tourtes, but I can’t make you use it. Well, maybe I could…

Ceci dit, il y a tout de même quelques recettes que j’ai déjà essayé, et je n’étais pas déçue. J’ai beaucoup changé la recette suivante, et je devrais avoué que c’est très, très bon. Il faudrait une pâte feuilletée – j’ai utilisé la Basic Single Pastry Crust de Veganomicon parce que je la trouve parfaite pour des quiches & tourtes, mais je ne peux pas vous forcer de faire la même chose…quoi que…

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POTATO TOURTE (this really tastes a lot like a pastie, without the dead cow)

  • 150 cl soy yogurt
  • 150 cl soy milk
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 6 potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 2 good handfuls of fresh parsley
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Pre-heat your oven to about 320°F
  • Line your tourte dish with about half of your crust. Add a layer potato slices, cover with salt & pepper and a dusting of parsley. Continue till you can’t any more!
  • Mix the yaourt, milk and nutmeg and gently pour over the potatoes.
  • Cover with the remaining crust and pinch the edges together. Cut a little hole in the middle to let the steam escape and pop it in the oven for about an hour or so.
  • Let this sit about 15 minutes before digging in!

TOURTE DE POMMES DE TERRE À LA CRÈME DE SOJA

  • 150 cl de yaourt de soja
  • 150 cl lait de soja
  • 1 ongion haché
  • 4 gousses d’ail écrasées
  • 6 à 8 pommes de terre à chair ferme
  • une bonne poignée de persil, ciselé
  • 2 à 3 c. à café de noix de muscade râpée
  • sel & poivre
  • Préchauffez le four à 160°C
  • Foncez une tourtière avec la moité de votre pâte. Placez-y les pommes de terre crues, découpées en fines rondelles. Saupoudrez avec un peu d’ongion, sel & poivre, et persil, puis recommencez (une couche, puis un autre…)
  • Mélanger le yaourt, le lait et les c. à café de muscade, verser ce mélange sur les pommes de terre.
  • Recouvrez le tout par la moité restante de votre pâte, et soudez les bords en pinçant avec vos doigts. Percer un petit trou au centre de la tourte.
  • Enfournez, faites cuire 60 minutes environ.
  • Laissez reposer aprox. 15 minutes avant de déguster! Bonne appétit!

Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners? Lentil Casserole & “Wanna Be” Twinkiesque Cupcakes

Ever since drooling over Jennifer McCann’s veganized Twinkie(r) recipe, I have been able to think of nothing else (sorry, just had to laugh at the absurdity of that sentence- can you imagine only thinking about spongecake & creme filling? No dwelling on worrying about stressing over thinking about things like paying the bills, what to feed your 2 year-old, grading papers for students who really don’t care anyway, your checking account’s current negative balance, et all.) Let’s say that the vegan Twinkies(r) have been on my mind. A lot.

I went to a few stores in town and none of them carried anything even close to the cakelette tins one needs to build the perfect vegan Twinkie(r). While ordering them on-line is a possibility, the shipping is more than the tins…so, I surrendered to the idea of just making cupcakes, but that is so not the same thing.

 

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The other little snag in my devious plot for vegan Twinkie(r) perfection was that the recipe for the creme filling calls for barley malt powder. Now, if you think finding the cakelette tins is a problem here, you can forget about finding something as obscure as barley malt powder.

Not prepared to renounce a chance at tasting the sweet nostalgia of my youth, I decided to improvise (as usual) and used the “Fluffy White Icing” recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. I’ve made Isa’s (Can I call you Isa? I think I can. Or would you prefer Ms. Isa? How about Vegan Cupcake Goddess?) “Fauxstess Cupcakes” before (they are délicioso), though I’d not gone the extra caloric-mile with the cream filling. It was a mile well worth taking, because it was perfect. The recipe calls for non-hydrogenated shortening which is also impossible to find in ma ville, but doubling up on the non-hydrogenated margarine worked perfectly much to my delight!

The Twinkie-cupcake experience was all rather exciting for me as I’d never used a pastry bag to fill anything before- how fun! I actually exploded a few cupcakes in the process (which was also kinda fun), but it was no problem, I just decided to cover up the damage with some swirly-cream! (I felt so Martha Stewart).

 

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Before…

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after!

Mr. Fish had never before tasted the goodness that we call Twinkie(r), and he was converted instantly. I’d planned on bringing some to work with me today to make up for the Valentine’s cupcakes which never made it…and he persuaded me that it was better to keep them here, with us. For Us.

I was so busy being productive yesterday with the cupcakes and my long run and putting the finishing touches on my Pointy Kitty (which I’ll blog more on later), that the dinner part of Sunday just sort of slipped away from me.

Being that it’s the end of the month (we’re paid monthly here in France) and the cupboards are beginning to be a wee bit bare, and I was rather short on time (and energy, licking all that cream filling off my fingers was exhausting!), I wanted to find a nutritious and delicious casserole recipe, but where? how? Who would help me through this dilemma?

cupcake.jpg
Didn’t actually get a photo of the casserole, so here’s another cupcake!

Casseroles make me think of the 1950′s, which make me think retro, which logically make me think of looking in a Sarah Kramer cookbook. Makes sense, right? See, here’s the deal, I have a love/hate relationship with La Dolce Vegan!. You know, like the colleague you seem to always be sort of harping about, so much so that someone finally tells you “hey, you have a crush on them!”- Ha! and all the incredulous “No I don’t, whatever!”s in the world can’t change the fact that you spend an awful lot of time talking about said person.

 

That’s me. I totally think Kramer is a righteous fish and her books are hip, but I just can’t figure out how to effectively use LDV. I can’t find things easily. Take yesterday for example. I wanted I casserole recipe, so I look under casseroles in the index. I find just a few. Nothing that would work with my kitchen stock. I continue to flip through and accidentally happen upon “Wendy’s Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole” (which was not with the casseroles, go figure). Cool. I put down book, the Guppy picks up book and starts reading it and of course page is lost. I can’t find it. I know C for casserole won’t help, I then look under W for Wendy but that doesn’t work… luckily for me I found it under “lentils” because it was yummy. I amped up the spices adding more basil and oregano, adding turmeric, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, and four carrots. Very tasty, very easy. One pot meals rule! Yes you have to take it out to stir a few times, but since I had dishes to do and papers to grade at the kitchen table, it wasn’t terribly difficult.

I would like to say we enjoyed the casserole with a fresh, green salad with mustard vinaigrette (that was the plan) and homemade rolls (also the plan), but we were so full from noshing on the cupcakes that, well, we just left those out.

“Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners?” featuring tempeh, veggies and dessert!

In our continuing series “Whatever happened to Sunday Dinners?” I would like to propose:

  • Barbequed Tempeh from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook
  • Chickpea Broccoli Casserole from Vegan With A Vengeance
  • Gâteau au “fromage” à l’orange & aux amandes (orange & almond tofu “fromage” cheese cake) a Shellyfish original.

If you’re hungry, scroll down, this is a little long…

Being a vegan isn’t always easy. Dealing with an oft-misinformed public, tricky labeling, well-meaning but misguided friends and family members choosing sometimes radically inappropriate moments* to re-vegan-hash the “So why don’t you eat meat again?” question, stern-faced teachers and daycare personnel, incredulous about the lack of animal protein in your child’s diet…and so many other examples. I became a vegetarian over 18 years ago, and I was very lucky to have a supportive omnivore family, and then I moved to the other end of the United States and was living in an extremely veg-friendly city with great veg-friendly businesses, bakeries, groceries and restaurants. While I very, very rarely did anything resembling “cooking” or “baking”, I always had veg-friendly things to eat at my apartment, but I admit to very often eating out or getting take-out, and was generally a very lazy veg who was lacto-ovo much of the time.

It’s not the same life anymore for the Shellyfish, and I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. I used to cringe when I would imagine the “TMF” (typical married female) living somewhere between her laundry room and her kitchen, waiting on her husband and kids… (this reductionist view may well explain my former fear of commitment syndrome). I’ve evolved, and while some chicas are sadly uber-oppressed, I’m happy (most of the time) being a part-time stay-at-home mom, and I have discovered a new passion these past few years: spending time in the kitchen!

With the plethora of vegan cookbooks on the market and the growing numbers of vegan recipes on-line, it’s rather easy to find cruelty-free delicious things to prepare. While I am still in a far from veg-friendly French town, we have three, count ‘em, three health-food stores where I can find (expensive) tofu and other “oddities”, and when I lived in the area summer of 2004, there was much less choice to be had. It’s exciting to see things changing! While newly pregnant during Fall of 2004 (and home-bound and hungry!), I ordered a copy of The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook edited by Louise Hagler and Dorothy R. Bates at the suggestion of a friend brought up in a veg-household (and whose mom is a mid-wife). This cookbook is so amazing! I rarely see it cited on the veg-blogosphere, and it’s dommage because it is really one of the most complete, basic vegan bibles out there. It explains DIY tofu, tempeh, yuba, gluten/seitan, you name it. The other great thing about this book is that it doesn’t call for specific hard-to-find brand-names, most everything is findable for a country mouse or a city mouse. I admit NFVC isn’t as hip or sexy as the newer, glossy books available. This book is from the mid-70s (just like me!), and it’s retro without trying to be. Get this book. You will not regret it. Well, maybe you will, but I think you’ll really like it.

Enough babble, on with our Sunday Dinner menu!

Until yesterday I’d never made my own BBQ sauce. There is a snappy recipe in the NFVC that you let simmer for an hour, and it is tangy and sassy and all those great BBQ adjectives rolled into one. Get your sauce going, then start your gâteau au fromage. I adapted this recipe from the basic Tofu Cheesecake recipe in NFVC, and have never regretted it. I’ve got another variation with maple syrup & pecans, but that’s for another day…

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  • GATEAU AU “fromage” À L’ORANGE ET AUX AMANDES
  • 500g/about 1lb medium tofu (just pat dry, don’t press)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup veg. oil of choice
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange essence/orange water (different brands call it different things)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • shaved almonds, orange slices, raspberry coulis for garnish

Break up the tofu, and add all ingredients together in a food processor or blender and whip until creamy and smooth. If things are a bit grainy, mix some more, adding a hair of orange juice if it’s too thick. Pour into your crust of choice and bake at 350f for about 45 minutes or until it hardly jiggles in the middle. Let cool completely before trying to cut it!

While your gâteau is cooking and your BBQ sauce is simmering, you can set to work on the “Chickpea Broccoli Casserole” from VWAV. I’d never made it before, and I learned the hard way that you can’t always do with a “stiff fork” what you can do with a potato masher. After getting nowhere with my fourchette, I decided to squish my chickpeas with my bare hands (I’m a brute).

Once you get your casserole in the oven, just deep-fry your tempeh, and pour a little of your now-finished sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add your blotted tempeh, then bake for about 15 minutes at around 350f.

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Everything was so super delicious! Mr. Fish was a little afraid of the casserole because it looked so “healthy”, but once he tasted it (and covered it with BBQ sauce) everything was fine. The Guppy devoured her gâteau au fauxmage, but the BBQ sauce was a little too much for her.

*like at the dinner table when they are about to wolf-down a fork-full of dead animal…I usually say, “I don’t think this is an appropriate time to talk about this.” or something similar, they push, I begin discussing slaughter-house strategies, etc., and inevitably someone at the table is horribly offended and gets all ‘radical vegan’ on me…

Tofu Loaf, Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Mighty Miso Gravy & Brown Rice: Now Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinners?

Wanting to make a special dinner for Mr. Fish yesterday (it was his fête, or Saint Day, I told you, holidays, albeit little ones, all the time!), I felt a bit strapped for ideas. I try very hard to be an organized person, properly rotating dishes to vary the nutrients and tastes, eating in season, having the correct ingredients on hand…but frankly, it’s a bit of a full-time job to do it all 100%, so I just do what I can (that being said there is a great little article in the recent VegFamily newsletter/website on meal planning
which describes a great idea, which I just might try).

When I went to the marché on Friday with the Guppy we bought about 500g/1lb of brussels sprouts because they looked so tasty. We eat brussels sprouts fairly often, but I would like to point out that before living in France I could not stand brussels sprouts: their geeky-pallor, hideous aroma- YUCK! Alas I was, as are many, victim of boiled-sprouts syndrome, which is unfortunate, because fresh brussels sprouts are amazing, and so good for you. Frozen just can’t compare, though I am not against frozen veggies at all, on the contrary they are often better and more accessible than fresh, but frozen sprouts lose part of their delicious soul, which is dommage. My favorite way to cook sprouts is to roast them, which is sooo easy it’s crazy, and they are so darn good you’ll be nibbling them off the serving dish. Yes, you will. Vegan With A Vengeance (one of my favorite cookbooks) has a nice simple recipe for roasting them with garlic so you could opt for that to begin. Once you start, you’ll be making them all the time and your friends will threaten to no longer eat over if you don’t make something else.

Yummy Tofu Loaf with oven-roasted brussel sprouts
Yummy Tofu Loaf with oven-roasted brussel sprouts

Anyway, needed to cook the sprouts, which left me thinking, “OK, great, you have your vegetable, but where is your MEAL???”, which is when I had this sort of magic infinity-moment where all was right with the world, I saw myself sitting down to a Clever family Sunday dinner and tried to envision what would be served next to the steaming platter of brussels sprouts and then it hit me- meatless loaf! Hourrah! I love tofu loaf! It’s such an easy main dish to throw together in a flash, and makes you feel like you’ve invited an old friend to your table (even if you’ve never been partial to loaf!).

A good tofu loaf is really a subjective thing- a good base-loaf recipe for you to use if it’s uncharted territory is the “Tip-Top Tofu Loaf” from Sarah Kramer’s La Dolce Vegan!. Recently a friend asked me for my tofu loaf recipe, and because it is never the same I suggested this recipe (because I just sort of do it “by ear” or au pif, by nose). I’m glad I did because it gave me cause to flip through it- I’m just not a big fan of this book because of its presentation. I get weirded out by all the pictures of Kramer prancing about. I don’t know why. There are, however, some great basic recipes for newbie vegans trying to find good transition comfort foods- or for folks like me who often make vegan meals for omnivores.

Tofu loaf, oven-roasted brussels sprouts, brown rice & Mighty Miso Gravy

Tofu loaf, oven-roasted brussels sprouts, brown rice & Mighty Miso Gravy

Rather than go with the traditional mashed potatoes usually found lurking around loafy-dishes, I made some brown rice, and no loafy-meal would be complete without a delicious gravy, so I made my family’s favorite “Mighty Miso Gravy” from How It All Vegan. Delish!

I did, however, make too much rice, so I’ll be searching for a good rice pudding recipe later today…

(In a moment of incredible dorkiness, I found that if you look quickly at the above picture it looks like a man wearing a monocle is smiling at you!)