The Broke Vegan

Laughter and Spinach are the Best Medicines


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CrockPot Diaries: Tandoori Spiced Potatoes and a Whole lotta Greens

I have to say – this is probably one of my favorite recipes to come out of my crockpot experiments. Probably (read definitely)  that is because I actually followed the instructions in my cookbook, and didn’t try to get fancy by substituting ingredients.

It’s like I actually…..followed directions or something?!

This recipe came from one of my Christmas cookbooks, “Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking” by the incredibly talented Carla Kelly. Carla does a great job of not over-complicating the prep work involved in crock-potting (yes – it’s a verb now) – and she’s traveled around the world – so many of her recipes are internationally inspired. Since I adore Indian food – I thought I’d give this a whirl! I was not disappointed!

Ingredients:

1/2 onion (diced)

2 garlic cloves (minced – which is really like dicing but OK)

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (ahem – I used powdered ginger – it was fine)

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 potatoes – cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Guesstamate on this – just keep them relatively uniform (Yukon is recommended for their firmness – but if you like a mushier dish – you could probably use sweet potatoes)

3/4 cup veggie stock/broth

1/2 cup coconut cream or full fat canned coconut milk (OK – so – my local grocery store didn’t have a ton of selection – so I just picked up (the only) can I could find. It seemed to work – a little runny – but it was close enough for government work)

4 cups spinach – chopped

Directions:

1. Dump everything into crock pot! (Except spinach) – Apologies in advance, and, the #1 reason you should by Kelly’s cookbook is that she does a much better job in explaining all this than I do. Consider my blogs the “spark notes versions”

2. Stir – some veggies will be left uncovered by broth – DON’T PANIC!! it’s ok 🙂

3. Cover & set to low for 6 hours

4. Do grad school homework and play with family pet.

6 hours later…..

5. Add the spinach (bet you forgot about that – didn’t you!) – I added more than 4 cups. Way more than 4 cups. I like spinach – Don’t judge me!

     – Add the spinach a little bit at a time, stirring between each. You want to let it wilt down before adding more.

6. Post-spinach – VOLIA!

 

 

 

 

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It was good – it was really, really good. I ate the entire thing in about 3 days. Nice and spicy – but mild thanks to the coconut milk.

It cost me about, maybe 8 bucks for the whole meal, and it was 4 decent sized servings. That’s $2 per serving!

The Broke Vegan strikes again!!


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CrockPot Diaries : Hodge-Podge Soup

After the emotional roller coaster that was this week – I’m not really up for cooking. And since I don’t have a dishwasher in my shoebox-sized apartment, I’m not thrilled about the possibility of cleaning either.

Luckily – I had some leftover “Hodge-Podge Soup” in my freezer, easily defrostable and microwavable for a hearty & filling meal, either alone or with a side of rice. This recipe isn’t an exact replication…. I took some creative liberties with this interpretation 🙂 I used the proportions from THIS (non-vegan) recipe – and modified it based on the ingredients of my pantry.

The beauty of hodge-podge is that it’s so versatile. Don’t have a sweet potato? Use butternut squash. Don’t have chickpeas? Use lentils. Don’t have vegetable broth? Too bad, you’re out of luck. 🙂 (but seriously – you have to have that….)

FYI – you will need some sort of “smoothing” tool – an immersion blender works best & is the least messy, but if you’re in a pinch, (and don’t mind the extra clean-up) you can use a food processor or a blender. But not a potato masher, that will not work. Just warning you….

It was good! I swear!

Ingredients :

  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 (or 3 – whatever) cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth/stock (what is the difference between a stock and a broth? Anyone?)
  • 1 decent sized sweet potato (cubed, skin on or off, whatever you prefer)
  • diced onion (depending on how much you like onions)
  • 1 can of chickpeas (drain ’em danno)
  • dash o’ parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of “Italian Spice Mix” (this is negotiable – but remember, the “main” ingredients are all pretty mild in flavors, so go easy on the spices, you don’t want to over-season)

Directions : 

  • Put all ingredients into the crockpot.
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Look! All the ingredients in the crock pot!

 

 

  • Put soup on “low” for 6 hours (or until potatoes et. al are very tender)
  • Celebrate excellent soup-making skills with a trip to Starbucks for a unsweetened-soy-green-tea-latte, and admit to yourself that you’re a 2013 hippie

6 hours later…..

Soup is ready for it's close up

Soup is ready for it’s close up – also – stir it. Don’t leave the spices floating at the top….

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Get out your handy-dandy smoothing tool. (And let’s all take a moment to appreciate that I actually HAD/HAVE an immersion blender!)
  • Use it on soup (I left some texture in mine, so it was more stew-esque, rather than soup-esque)
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Post-Smoothing!

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be honest – the flash on my camera makes it look more orangey than it was. It was more brown (thanks to the black beans) – so don’t panic if yours looks more like mud. It’s still good.

  • NOM on your delicious soup!!!

One side note for those of us who like any excuse to add more greens to a meal – for this soup, that is not a good idea. When I tried reheating it on the stove, I added in some kale for an extra boost of vitamins… for some reason I thought, “this time my greens will be good in soup!”.

I was wrong. Yet again – greens in soups/stews turn into stringy green snot and I hate them. (whaaa!)  I’m thinking that next time I’ll juice the greens and substitute the green juice for some of the broth first, instead of adding them in at the end.  Unless one of you lovely folks has a better idea… 🙂


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Of Love, Loss & Car

2013 is turning out to be quite the year!

As you all know – I’ve been dealing with a pulled muscle in my hip, taking the prescribed pain medicines & muscle relaxer only as-needed. It turns out it was a good thing I had some left over –

Last Wednesday (the 16th) I was in a gnarly accident on my way to work. Don’t panic – both myself and the other driver walked away with no injuries (thank god) but our cars weren’t so lucky. My poor Hyundai lost traction on the slushy highway, and spun out – the other driver wasn’t able to stop in time, and hit my car along the rear passenger side.

My mini tank (Elantra) took it like a champ – the damage seeming relatively superficial at the scene. The other driver’s 2010 Audi looked worse, having hit me head on. Turns out, looks can be deceiving. The damage to my car was worse than we expected – the suspension was off, the break hose destroyed, the tire dangling from it’s frame – and that was only the damage they assessed. My insurance provider broke the bad news on Friday that my car; passed down to me after the passing of my beloved Nonni, which drove me back and forth to college, down to North Carolina & back, took me on countless road trips and late night adventures, and who’s old-lady status protected me from the laser beams of speed police, was totaled.

I was, and continue to be, devastated by the loss of my car. While I continually remind myself that the important thing, and the the thing my grandmother would be most concerned with, is that I am safe and sound – I’m still mourning the loss.

My car was the biggest (physical) piece of my grandmother I had left – and, initially, it felt as though I was losing her presence in my life. It felt like I wasn’t going to have her protection over me anymore – because, for as long as I had my car, she was in my mind every day, every time I got in the car, she was there. Losing the car felt like loosing her.

The more I thought about losing this physical reminder of her – the more pieces of her I found inside my apartment. I have the blanket from my alma mater she bought when I was accepted to college. I have 1/2 of the necklace she wore every day – a small gold heart that I wear daily. I have (and you’re not going to believe this) her old toaster – which still works like a charm. I found the letter she wrote me when I went away to college – in the drawer of her 1920’s sewing machine/end table.

More importantly – and this is something I’ve only discovered recently – I have her cooking skills. While it never interested me before – I’m not too shabby around the kitchen. Like her – my measurements aren’t always exact, I make a mean home-made pasta, and I always end up with sauce on my shirt.

The car wasn’t her – I wasn’t under her guidance only within it’s metal frame. She’s watching, protecting, following, and loving regardless of what I’m doing, where I am, and whatever I’m cooking.

Excuse me – I can hear my pasta water boiling 🙂


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Crock Pot Diaries : Pasta Salsa Bake

Do you know what I asked for for Christmas this year?

I asked my mom to go to Homegoods and clear out their Clearance Foods section. If you’ve never perused the clearance food aisle of one of these stores (including Marshalls & TJ Maxx) – you’re missing out. Depending on where the store is located – they always have a crazy assortment of spices, pre-measured baked goods, condiments, olive oils – just the most random collection of stuff for your kitchen you could possibly imagine. I, being the equal-opportunity nommer that I am, can’t help myself.

Like the adoring madre that she is – my mom made a pit-stop at the local Homegoods and filled my stocking. Do you know what she filled it with!?

4 jars of salsa.

I kid you not. 4. jars. of. salsa.

Need I remind you – I live alone. LB does not like salsa. Let’s add these 4 to the already-opened jar I had in my fridge! I now have salsa until the apocalypse. I could bath in salsa at this point.

Salsa selection includes:
– Brad’s Organic Salsa (hot)
– Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa (caution: scary hot)
– Mrs. Renfro’s Mango Habanero Salsa (medium hot)
– Guy Fieri Chipotle Salsa (smokey)

Well – at least I got a variety….

What’s a single girl to do with salsa coming out of her ears?

While reading through one of my 3 new vegan cookbooks (thanks bro!) I found a recipe in “Vegan Slow Cooking” by Carla Kelly for “Pasta Salsa Bake”. It looked simple enough – and I really needed to get rid of some salsa.

It called for ingredients you’d expect – spices, salsa, onions, peppers & crushed tomatoes. Here’s where my attempt went array, and the reason why there’s not a photo to accompany this post.

I could only find a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, but the recipe called for only 15oz. So….I had to guestimate. (Probs not my greatest idea). I also used two different kinds of pasta – (I had to get rid of the open box I already had!) I used Quinoa Barilla, and then a Barilla veggie pasta (spinach) – both fusilli type.

Again – not my finest cooking moment.

The quinoa pasta cooked much, much faster than the veggie pasta, basically disintegrating into the crock pot. Plus – too much crushed tomato paired with the liquid-y consistency of the salsa meant that the (remaining) pasta didn’t absorb enough of the liquid while cooking. It was a bit too watery for me…. and really anyone else who would have tried it.

I ate 2 servings of it – there’s an entire tupperware of it frozen in my freezer. I don’t know if it’s ever going to get reheated….. it may go right into the trash the next time I clean the fridge.

Hey – I got 2 meals out of it – which is 2 more than I ever got when I tried cooking oatmeal 🙂


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A Jam by any other name is…. a Spread? a Paste?

This has been a bizarre week – my entire management chain (up to the guy who runs Marketing and Communications – whom I consider to be a minor celebrity) is taking their summer vacation. So it’s all quiet on the Westchester front.

Too quiet.

I’m working from home these 4 days, which makes impromptu cooking much easier!

During my lunch hour today (aka my 1 hour to try and avoid cabin fever) I stumbled across the White Plains farmer’s market! Don’t ask me why – but the farmer’s market in WP is held on Wednesdays from 8am – 12pm. (Tomorrow is a holiday, hence the reschedule)

Who in their right mind has a farmer’s market in A) the middle of the work week & B) the middle of the work day? – but it was nice. Considering I just spent an arm & a leg at Whole Foods, I bought some sugar plums (YES LIKE FROM THE XMAS STORY!!!) from an Amish farm and was hit on by a Kettle Corn seller. All in a day’s work I guess 🙂

New recipe test for ya’ll!
Blueberry Vegan Spready-Jam* (bberries were on sale at Whole Foods 🙂
Ingredients –
1 pint of blueberries
2 tbsp of chia seeds (OK – so I didn’t use Chia seeds. I used Flax Seed, which came out to about the same thing – I think. You should all know I sort of wing these recipes)
3 tbsp Maple Syrup/Agave/Liquid Sweetner
Dash o’ Vanilla Extract

Directions –
1. Mix the blueberries & liquid sweetner in a small pot on the stove. Mash up the bberries, (use a potato masher – works better than a fork). Leave some bberries for texture. Cook at boiling for about 5 minutes.

Pre-Flax seed. It was a beautiful blue/purple color

2. Mix in seeds (chia or otherwise – the seeds, when combined with a liquid, are used as a thinkener) and cook on a med/low heat for about 15 minutes.
3. Stir frequently. This is muy importante b/c you don’t want the sugar to burn
4. Once it’s been cooked to the desired consistency, remove from heat & mix in vanilla extract.
5. Store in an air-tight container in el fridge. I put mine in a glass mason jar which made me feel super-hippy 🙂

*Fair warning – you may need to add more maple syrup/sweetner to your own taste preferences. My spread ended up not as sweet as jelly/jam (duh) so if you want something sweeter – you may need to add extra.

Verdict
– it’s an OK vegan substitute – I’ve been wary of foods that could pectin/lecithin/gelatin – as pectin is vegan, but the others aren’t. Plus, some of those jams/jellies have a lot of added sugar. I think it needs something more to enhance the natural sugars in the blueberries. Maybe a mashed banana or some applesauce next time.

Also – LB did not enjoy it. I tried to get her to taste some. Womp Womp. She’s going to stick with raisins and bananas.


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I am produce-less – with 2 baked apples

I am produce-less.

My Urban Organic delivery never came yesterday…. let me back up

So – According to the company’s website – the way you are supposed to order for the week is to either call their offices between 9am – 5pm or send them an email. So – that’s exactly what I did.

On Tuesday I sent them an email for an order to be delivered on Thursday. They request that orders be submitted before 3pm the day before the delivery – so my due date would be by 3pm on Wednesday.

No email confirmation.

I then continued to call their office multiple times over the next 3 days, trying to get a confirmation that someone had received my order request. I also sent them ANOTHER email through their website form.

No response.

Now – the delivery window is any time between 2:30pm – 10:30pm. (10:30pm? SERIOUSLY?) So – giving them the benefit of the doubt – I diligently watched Princess & The Frog on the Disney channel until 10:45 – hoping against hope – that the delivery would show up.

Bupkiss.

This morning – I check my email

I get an email from these people at 2:16AM

2:16AM!!

The service is based out of midtown Manhattan – I know these people are in the same time zone as me! What the heck are they doing at 2:16AM? 

They proceed to tell me “Sorry this email was missed. We scheduled you for delivery next week”.

whoawhoawhoa – someone please explain to me how a business is run, where orders come IN via email – but they MISS/DON’T CHECK their email? How does that make sense? Am I nuts?

Now – I am produce-less.

While I DID, incidentally, purchase 2 granny smith apples yesterday during my lunch hour, they were unceremoniously dumped into the garbage after I opened the bag upon coming home, to find they were BROWN, MUSHY and BAKED from the heat of my  car.

I’m not lying to you people – I BAKED these apples, I cut them open and they were brown all the way through. Who knew you could bake apples in an automobile!?

Back to my produce-problem –

When LB gets food she doesn’t like – she flips the bowl over. I wish I could have done that to Urban Organic! 😦

After actually doing some research, (which I admittedly should have done in the first place) on Yelp! – I realized I was not the first, or the only person to have a problem with Urban Organic. Every review was negative, lost & wrong orders, late deliveries – one guy had a box that was infested with bugs! I’m a tree-hugging animal lover, but even I think that’s gross!
So I emailed them back and cancelled my order. I’m also going to call and try to get a human on the phone, not their conveniently-full answering machine. Sigh – so much for that.

But on the subject of CSAs – there is one out of Westchester that still has spots open. $30/week until Oct – but it’s mostly greens, (there’s A LOT of greens) so I’d still have to supplement my order with farmer’s market/store bought fruits. This is a real community program – it’s been going on for 3 years so it has an established base of members.

What are the thoughts on that? Worth it?

They are associated with a farm in CT called, “Chubby Bunny Farms” – and you all know how I feel about bunnies….
I think it’s a good sign. 🙂


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Italian Comfort Food – Vegan Version

After my Vegan Dinner #Fail yesterday – I wasn’t ready to be beaten by the kitchen just yet. I peeled myself off my mattress last night (it was only 8:30 folks – I’m such an old lady) and headed back to the battlefield.

Last Saturday I bought these 2 beautiful tomatoes from a local mom&pop store in a neighboring town. The first went to the awesome arugula salad, & I made my second favorite Italian comfort food (ICF) with the other.

Obviously, my first favorite ICF is my family’s homemade pasta, sauce & meatballs. You cannot do anything for the rest of the day after you eat it, because it takes a solid 8 hours for the bowling ball of carbohydrates to leave your stomach – but it’s so worth it. Every plate licking calorie. The pasta is so good that even our dogs eat it. No joke.

My second favorite ICF is stuffed vegetables – specifically artichokes & tomatoes. My Nonni (Italian grandmother) was the resident cook, and she used to make these for me – if I asked nicely. My Nonni passed away in 2006 – and one of my last memories of her, as the healthy, loving and vital Non she was – was sitting in her kitchen as she baked me a tray of stuffed tomatoes. 🙂

As the cruddy cook I was/am – I never thought stuffed tomatoes were in my realm of ability. They looked so fancy & foo-foo – I thought I would ruin them for sure.

UNTIL! I went to North Carolina and my aunt offered to teach me. I was stoked! I was all prepared with a pad of paper and my cooking hat – to master the finesse & tact required to tackle such an illustrious task as “the stuffed tomato”

……until I realized how dead-a$$ easy they are to make.

Here it is folks – ICF: Vegan Style!

Step 1: Purchase tomatoes. Cut off the little green stems and cut tomatoes in half. Not longways – sideways – this is important.
Step 2: Pick up half of tomato. Mush it. Seriously – pretend you are making a fist around the tomato. This will get messy – but all the little seed pockets will loosen up.
Step 3: Fling your wrist into the sink – without letting go of the tomato! (This does require some practice) But the point is to launch some of the tomato seed pockets into the sink. You can also achieve this in a slightly more civilized manner by using a spoon & removing the seeds.
Step 4: Once each half is seedless – set aside.
Step 5: Make the filling. Dump some breadcrumbs into a bowl (Note: to healthify this – use Panko crumbs, 1/2 crumbs & 1/2 flax seed, really anything that will get a nice crust when baking). Add some parsley flakes & garlic (I used minced – hey – I’m resourceful) and whatever seasoning you’ve got lying around.
Step 6
: Add some EVOO – probably like – 3 or 4tbs (we’re not big on measurements in my family apparently…) Again – to healthify – flax seed & water should do the same thing. Mix well with a fork until the crumbs make a crunchy sort of sound. (again – we don’t do specifics in my family… just mix well – you’ll be fine)
Step 7: Fill the tomatoes! Use a wooden spoon to fill and round the tops of the tomatoes

Pre-Baking

Bake the tomatoes at 350 for about 10 minutes – depending on the type of oven you have. They’re done when the filling turns golden brown.

now – STOP! DO NOT EAT TOMATOES ONCE DONE COOKING!!!

Seriously – eat 1, and only 1 tomato out of the oven. Cover the other(s) and put in fridge overnight. They better the next day!

Reheat for 1 minute in the microwave the next day.

Enjoy perfection on a plate. ❤