Merry Peanut Butter Cups!

I have been able to share many of my ‘favorites’ from North America with Mr. Fish over the past few years. Many of the things I found myself craving after I’d been here in Europe for a while were things I nearly never indulged in when living on the other side of the sea. Perhaps a sort of longing for the comfort foods of my junk-food-infused youth, I found myself dreaming lazily of birthday cakes, Twinkies, and one of my all-time favorites, peanut butter cups. My super cute mom sends some butter cup minis over every year in her much-awaited holiday care packages, and Mr. Fish devours them faster than lightening.

This year I wanted to surprise Mr. Fish with a special present, and thought peanut butter cups would be a fun surprise. I was a bit amused to see that nearly all my vegan cookbooks had a recipe for making peanut butter cups, though the varying recipes were all quite different. After perusing the cookbooks in the collection, I opted for the most simple and traditional-sounding cup recipe, which was simply titled ‘Peanut Butter Cups’ from Christina Pirello’s Cooking the Whole Foods Way.

The recipe wasn’t terribly difficult, mostly calling for melting the chocolate chips and peanut butter, etc., and the cups were ready in no time at all. Now, I of course used dark chocolate so that my peanut butter cups could be truly vegan, but the peanut butter cups were really very rich, too rich to be completely honest. They were indeed yummy, but even for someone with an ardent sweet tooth like Mr. Fish, it was impossible to eat more than one at a time. Coupled with a little tasse of strong espresso, the peanut butter cups were the best, their richness off-set by the bite of the coffee, but I do think that I will try one of the other recipes if I try to make them again. Mr. Fish suggests I make them with milk chocolate next time, which if I am making them specifically for him as a special treat I may, but I try to avoid making non-vegan things whenever possible.

Pre-Christmas with Tata Frog…

Because the Fish Family is still a newish family, we are constantly creating and re-inventing traditions of our own (and borrowing traditions from everyone as well!) One tradition we have it to spend the evening of December 23rd with the Guppy’s Tata Frog, aka Katy, good friend of the Fish Family, and good friend in general. Normally we would meander through town to find one of the many Santas wondering around to give goodies to the kids, but the Guppy has proved rather terrified of Papa Noël this year, so we just opted for a little apéro chez nous, with dinner coming from the newest cookbook acquisition of the Fish Family, Vegan with a Vengeance.

One thing I love about having Tata Frog over, other than her general good company of course, is the fact that she is a vegetarian and doesn’t look horrified when presented tofu or when told her dessert was made without eggs… refreshing. In honor of our 23rd I opted to prepare Green Thai Curry. I love curries. I think I could eat a curry a day for the rest of my days. My holy grail is the recreation of number 64 from the menu of my very favorite Thai restaurant in the world. My quest continues, but I must say this tasty little curry is darn close to the real thing.

Tata Frog isn’t a huge fan of burning tonsels, so I toned down the spice, but even sans feu, it was delectible, no disputing it. Now I know many people will say that making curries is about as easy as making toast, but really, there are many nuances in toast making, just as there are in curries, so just back off you detractors. Many of us vegans- or just slow-food & whole food advocates- strive to make healthy home-cooked meals, but lack the time, skills, or kitchen equiment oft necessary to pull of a week of healthy meals. This recipe, with its quiet sophistication, allows for pauses due to phone calls, spilled juice cups, and other inevitables, while still being delicious. Hourrah!

For dessert we induldged in the Coconut Heaven Cupcakes which were indeed heavenly. I do love cupcakes, though I nearly never make them (I think I avoid making them, because we will indeed devour them). Not at all difficult, this recipe was clear and the results memorable. I tinted the frosting red for the holidays (though it finished a bit more pink than red), and marvled at the

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins for breakfast and Stewed Tofu & Potatoes for dinner- YUM!

We Fish have just been so busy with all holiday merry-making & fête-ing festivities, I just haven’t had the time to share the fabulous results we’ve been nibbling & noshing from my new favorite cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance!

I’ve barely had this fabulous book a week and it is already staying open to certain pages when opened and has a beautiful dusting of flour decorating its cover- always a good sign when it comes to cookbook behaviour.

The first recipe I tried was the Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins. As I began assembling the bowls, pans, etc., The Guppy began squealing ‘cupcakes! cupcakes!’ Now, I don’t often make muffins. I don’t think I’ve made muffins since sometime last spring, but the thing is, I don’t make cupcakes very often either! The last time I made them was for the Guppy’s second birthday last May (and no, she doesn’t eat them at parties or at school or in secret with Mr. Fish), so her knowing right away what they were based on the muffin-tin surprised me (and I thus once again concluded that she is just a brilliant child, not at all influenced by the fact that she is mine…). So since last Saturday, we now call muffins ‘morning cupcakes’ in the Fish household, and that does indeed make them sound oh-so-much-more festive.

Back to the muffins, or rather, breakfast cupcakes.

They were a snap to make- and when I say snap, I mean really straight-forward and easy. It was about a 30-minute project from start to finish, though I need to state that my psycho-oven cooks things way faster than it should. They were just slightly chewy on the outside and spongy & moist on the inside, fragrant & delicious. I ended up with 15 rather than 12 muffins (no complaints here) and they were gone by the end of the day…

For dinner, I opted for the Stewed Tofu and Potatoes in Miso Gravy, and was dazzled, simply dazzled. I love miso gravies in general, but every time I make one from a cookbook it states most seriously that boiling the miso will send me straight to hell and the plagues will arrive post-haste and the sun will shine no more… so I dutifully add my miso (regardless of grain) after I’ve taken my pan off the flame.

Seriously, every recipe I’ve ever followed using miso made it clear that the miso should not be boiled or simmered as it would become very bitter. Now the first time I follow a recipe I try to follow it to the letter (this is a very difficult thing for me and I nearly never am able to follow through), so despite my concern about apocalyptic consequences if I did indeed simmer the miso, I trusted the recipe and must say that I did the right thing. It was so, so good, and really basic. It was sort of like a down-home meat & potatoes tofu dish (who knew?) thick and meaty and gravy-esque. I served it up on vegan mashed potatoes and the Fish Family was delighted indeed. The recipe called for chickpea miso, I used barley miso, but I will try to track down some chickpea miso for the next time.

Vegan with a Vengeance is batting two for two…

A very merry solstice & a happy christmas & a groovy hanukka & a festive kwanzaa to all…

‘Vegan with a Vengeance’

Edited to add : I have no idea why this post is suddenly generating comments. It’s from December, 2007. Thanks for stopping by, though.

Hurrah!! I just tore off the cardboard envelope from my spanking-new copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s ever-so-fab cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance and I am just far too excited about it (hence the sharing). After reading tons of testimonials written by gushing fans (which sometimes sounded a little creepy) I knew I had to see for myself if this book of Over 150 Delicious Cheap Animal-Free Recipes was really as exceptional as the hype purported.

Now, seeing as I have only just had the time to peruse the recipes and totally dig on the punk attitude-infused prose (feeling rather relieved that I’m not the only post-punk child feeling like the oldest kid in the skate shoppe to buy a holiday gift for Mr. Fish…) I cannot attest to the cookability of these delectable-sounding recipes, but I am very excited about trying them out. Going through the different recipe propositions also made me feel just a wee bit testy knowing how finding good quality cheap tofu in this little French provincial town is an oft frustrating venture. There is, much to my delight, a new-fangled organic supermarket which calls itself a co-op which has recently opened up, but it’s a bit away and not always easy to get to with The Guppy on the bike with these completely bizarre sub-zero temps.

I’m not sure what I’ll try first from Moskowitz’s book, but I want to rave about last night’s dinner which was just too yum- Christina Pirello’s Winter Veggie & Bean Stew found in her very comprehensive Cooking the Whole Foods Way. I cheated a bit on the ingredients (which I nearly always totally compulsively do) as I didn’t have any kidney beans on hand *at all* (gasp), but did have some dried green soybeans & dried asukis which after accidentally over-boiling them came out looking & tasting like pinto beans (which I so so so miss- I can’t find them here…please, spend pintos…). I must say, the beans worked way too well, and I used double the suggested amount. I also opted-out on the ginger juice because I had none made and really no time to spare. It was just too delish to believe, vaguely reminding me of a sort of baked-bean dish with yummy root veggies. Do try this dish, very warming with all this frightful weather out there.

Not so sure…

Okay, that could be the title of my life much of the time… no, that’s not fair, there are many things of which I am more than certain: the love of my family, the selfish nature of most capitalists, the twinkle in Baby-fish’s eyes when she laughs… these things I do not doubt. The actual trajectory of my life, however, has often left me wondering just what exactly am I doing?, or more often, in which order do I want to do them?

I digress.

What I am not so sure of is the purpose of this blog. I initially wanted to create a groovy mostly-vegan food blog to swap recipes & ideas with other like-minded folks out there. I also thought it would be great to eventually swap stories & ideas with other vegan parents & vegan athletes (or trying hard to be athletes). Now I’m finding that I am having a difficult time organizing my life so that I can get things up and running as I’d hoped (before the beginning of 2008, I mean, can you believe it is going to be 2008?). I think we’ll just take things as they come and take stock in a few months to better decide what this blog is really about.