Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PURE Bar: A Product Review

I was sent some PURE Bars to review them on the blog. So . . . here is my review. PURE Bars are organic, vegan, raw energy bars created by Veronica Bosgraaf after her daughter decided to become a vegetarian. Nutrition-wise, these bars have a lot going for them: 4-5 grams of fiber, 6-7 grams of protein, high in omega 3s, organic, raw, and no refined sugar. I was sent three flavours: Apple Cinnamon, Cherry Cashew, and Wild Blueberry. I chopped each up into 5 pieces and passed them around after dinner to get the kids' thoughts. They weren't really crazy about them, to be honest. Son #1 tried a nibble from each, Son #2 had a few bites, and Son #3 ate them all. I found them a bit on the pasty side, and not particularly "fruity" tasting. I noticed on the website that there is a Chocolate Brownie and a ChocChip Trailmix bar, and I have a feeling the kids would have liked these flavours better. That being said, the bars were still good, and you have to appreciate how much nutrition is packed into each one. They would be perfect for a snack while on a hike, or on a long car trip through non-vegan territory (i.e. just about everywhere).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday Roundup

With the cookbook(s) done and the trip back home for the holidays done, I finally have some time to blog again! No real recipes in this post, I am sorry to say, just a tour of some of the gastronomic holiday highlights.

First up, birthday cake (sort of). If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I decorate a cake however the birthday boy wants for his special day. This year, under the influence of the Christmas cards arriving daily at our door, Son #1 requested a gingerbread house. Vegan Mom and I thought it would be a good idea to let each kid at the party decorate his own house, so I made these four houses (thankfully, Son #1 only had one friend over for a sleep-over party, plus his two brothers). I used the same recipes as last year, except I tried something new for the icing to hold the houses together. I heated 1/3 cup of light corn syrup in a small pan, then added enough icing sugar to form a thick paste. I let it cool a bit, then rolled strips of it in my hands to create a mortar-like substance. It held really well.
For Christmas dinner with my in-laws I made the roast from Everyday Dish. No pic, I am sorry to say. I found the whole thing rather disappointing--bland and tough. For Christmas with my parents I made seitan cutlets cooked in apples, apple juice, roasted chestnuts, dried cranberries, and thyme. The recipe was rather like this one, and was very tasty.
Here is an apple frangipane tart that my sister-in-law made. My plan is to veganize this puppy in the near future, so stay tuned for that.
Other dishes in the recent past that were simple and tasty but not novel enough to warrant their own post: red peppers, onions, garlic and seitan chunks (could be tofu), and rotini tossed in olive oil, nooch, and plenty of basil.
Rice vermicelli, tofu, and bok choy in and orange ginger sauce. Kind of like this recipe.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Vegan Dad Cookbook: The Printed Version

Over the holidays I made a black and white (and pictureless) version of my cookbook, for those of you who want an actual book you can hold in your hand. It's not as flashy as the .pdf version, but it has all the recipes. You can always look up the recipes on the blog if you want to see what the dish looks like. I have also made a black and white download available for those who want to bypass the colour printing altogether.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Vegan Dad Cookbook

"This is the dad you always wanted, only he makes a better meatloaf." -Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Making vegan food the whole family can enjoy seems like a daunting task. No more! The Vegan Dad Cookbook contains over 120 recipes that take kids’ food beyond the veggie dog. From brunch to dinner, Vegan Dad has you covered with dishes from around the world as well as good ol’ fashioned comfort food. This book provides the answer to that daily question, “what’s for dinner?”

Downloads of the cookbook are available at for $10. The book is 144 pages, full colour, indexed (the best I could), and contains selected recipes from my September 2007 to June 2008 blog postings. If you would like to purchase a copy but don't have a credit card, send me an email at the address listed in the bottom right hand column of the blog.

Please note that the .pdf file is formatted for 2-sided printing.

(I decided against the paper copy because it would have cost about $5o.)

Here is a pic of the copies I printed and bound for my family.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creamy Corn Soup

If you are a low fat vegan type you probably should stop reading now. As I was putting the cookbook together (almost done!) I noticed how much of my food is related to some childhood memory. This soup is no exception. I always got to choose my birthday dinner as a kid, and I usually asked for tacos and corn soup. The original is made with cream and milk, so I used soy milk and coconut milk. It's pretty rich, but also pretty tasty. We always garnished it with corn chips, but I didn't have any on hand.

Serves 5-6
- 3 tbsp margarine
- 3 cups plain soy milk
- 1 cup soy creamer
- 4 cups corn
- 1 can coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen--it is less "coconuty" for stuff like this)
- salt and pepper to taste
- corn chips to garnish

1. Melt margarine over medium heat in a large pot. Add soy milk and creamer and bring to bubbling.
2. Add corn and return to bubbling. Simmer for 5 mins, stirring regularly.
3. Add coconut milk and season to taste with salt and pepper. (I like a good amount of pepper to contrast the creaminess). Do not boil.
4. Serve garnished with some corn chips.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Tale of Two Breads

I haven't bought a cookbook in a long time, but recently I treated myself to two new ones. The first is Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I have been eyeing this for a while and thought it would be a good purchase, what with the bakery business and all. This book is all about both the science and the art of great bread. Today I made this stollen, a German Christmas bread. I am going to do a little Christmas baking for the teachers at the boys' school so I wanted to take this for a trial run first. I'm usually not the biggest fan of the candied fruit in fruit bread/cake, but this is really good (probably because the fruit is soaked in rum first). If you have the book, I subbed a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed whisked in 3 tbsp of water) for the egg, and margarine for the butter.

The other purchase was Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, a book that, in essence, says that Reinhart is full of crap. All the kneading, gluten development, sponges, and starters are unnecessary. All you need to do is mix together a simple dough and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you want to make bread, you shape a chunk into a loaf and bake it. The results are actually pretty good. The flavour is not a good as more complex recipes (like Reinhart's) but for easy everyday baking the work to taste ratio is quite good.

So if you are in the mood for some baking, I recommend these books.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

On Feeling Like a Deadbeat Vegan Dad

I really have been neglecting the blog lately what with all my extra time going into finishing up the cookbook. I am starting to feel pangs of guilt, like a negligent parent. I miss the regular postings and interaction with you all. I also feel bad that I have not been offering any ideas for the impending holiday season.

On the cookbook front, things are moving along nicely. I have shown the draft to my inner circle of 7th level vegans, and a friend from grad school is copy editing as I type. I have also received a kind offer for help with the cover photography. More on that later.

Things have been plenty busy around here, even without a book to finish. Much time has been spent shovelling the ludicrous amount of snow that has fallen. *sigh* And to think that winter has not even officially started.
I also baked up a bunch of lemon currant rolls for the Christmas bazaar fundraiser for the boys' school.
Business at the bakery is brisk, and I feel like I am honing my baking craft. I have also been trying to make soy yogurt. No success so far.And, I do have a few recipes to post. I will get to them this week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Cookbook is Almost Here!

Good news! I have finally finished the rough draft of the cookbook. I need to do a few edits and all that, but it is almost ready to go on sale. I had no idea it would be so much work!

The book's near completion raises the question of how to sell it. I was planning to integrate Google Checkout into my blog, but it is not available to Canadians (grrr). PayPal looks complicated, so I was thinking of selling it through eBay. It already has a PayPal option, and I can place a posting on both the Canadian and American site. I'm not sure how the whole thing works when you are selling a digital file, so if anyone has some advice I would be much obliged.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Multi Grain Bread

As promised, here is my multi grain bread recipe. The bread looks pretty much the same as when I posted before, so I am reusing the picture. My kids love this toasted in the morning and have given up their regular diet of cereal.

- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 cups whole wheat bread flour

- 1 1/2 cups 7 (or 12) grain cereal
- water

- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup rye flour
- 1/2 cup kamut flour
- cereal from above, drained
- 3-4 cups white bread flour
- 1 tbsp salt

1. The night before you want to make the bread, whisk yeast into warm water, then whisk in flour until smooth in a large bowl. Cover and set aside over night. Also, place cereal in a bowl and cover with water. Cover and let sit over night.
2. To make the dough, whisk yeast into the water, add starter, rye and kamut flours, and cereal (after being well-drained in a fine mesh sieve). Add 3 cups of the bread flour and the salt, then bring together into a rough dough. Turn out onto the counter top and add enough of the final cup of flour (I never use much) to make a slightly tacky dough. Knead for 10 mins, until smooth.
3. Place in a large bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Punch down, and press down/stretch on the counter top into a rectangle. Fold like an envelope, rotate 90 degrees, and repeat. Shape into a ball and return to the bowl. Let rise until doubled.
4. Cut dough into 2 pieces and shape into two loaves. Cover and let rise until almost doubled.
5. Heat oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone on the middle rack. Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack,and get some water boiling in a kettle. Transfer loaves to a peel dusted with cornmeal and slash tops with a razor. Slide loaves onto the stone, and pour 1 cup of water into the pan. Bake for 10 mins.
6. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and remove cast iron pan. Bake for 25-30 mins more, until crust is a deep golden brown and loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pizza Rolls

Tonight's recipe idea comes from Jen, one of my bakery customers (thanks, Jen!). It is so easy and such a great idea I can't believe I haven't seen it before. I also wish I had thought of it myself. Ha! The dough is adapted from Isa's pizza dough in Vegan With a Vengeance, which she is letting me post here (thanks, Isa!). It tastes even better if you make it the day before and let it rest in the fridge overnight.

- 1 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil

- tomato sauce
- your favourite pizza toppings

1. Mix sugar into the water and stir in yeast to dissolve. Set aside for 10 mins to proof.
2. Whisk together flours and salt in a bowl, then add yeast mixture and oil. Bring together into a soft dough, then knead on a floured surface for 8-10 mins, until smooth. Add in flour if dough is too sticky.
3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down and knead for a few mins, then return to the bowl. Let double again, or place in the fridge to use the next day.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a muffin tin. Roll dough into a large rectangle, 24" x 8". Slather with a layer of tomato sauce, followed by your toppings.
5. Roll up like a jelly roll, then slice into twelve 2" sections. Place into muffin tins. Bake for 12-15 mins, or until golden and baked through. Let cool for 10 mins before serving.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cajun Meatloaf with Sweet Bourbon Glaze

I had a hankering for my meatloaf recipe tonight, but decided to spice it up a little since I really enjoyed the Cajun dish from a few nights ago.

Makes 10 mini meatloaves.
- 2 8.5 oz pkgs tempeh, coarsely grated
- 1 large sweet onion, coarsely grated
- 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
- 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp sage
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp seasoned salt (or to taste)
- cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp HP sauce (or A1)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- water (if needed)

- generous 2/3 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp mustard
- 3-4 tbsp bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9 x 13 baking pan.
1. Mix grated tempeh, onion, garlic, flour, and spices in a large bowl.
2. Add in sauces and oil, and enough water (you may not need any at all) so you are able to mash everything up with your fingers. Knead/mush/mash for a few mins to mix everything well.
3. Divide dough into 10 pieces and shape into small loaves. Place into oiled pan, and spray lightly with oil. Bake for 15 mins.
4. While loaves are baking, bring glaze ingredients to bubbling in a small saucepan. Let thicken a bit. Spoon over baking loaves. Bake loaves for 15 mins more, then scoop excess glaze back over the loaves. Bake for an additional 20-25 mins, or until glaze is thickened and darkened.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tofu and Sweet Potatoes over Cajun Quinoa

When the weather outside is frightful you have to turn to food to warm up. This dish makes use of Cajun flavours to transport you to the Bajou in the middle of the winter weather. You can serve this over rice, but I went with quinoa if only because it's fun to say "Cajun quinoa." To make it I cooked 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water. When done, I added 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsely and a few dashes of hot sauce.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups diced sweet potato
- 1 pkg extra firm tofu, diced
- 1/3 cup of water, plus more as needed
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- cayenne pepper to taste
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 can coconut milk

1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, green pepper, and bay leaves for 5-7 mins, until onion is soft and translucent. Add potatoes and fry for 2 mins. Add tofu, water, and spices. Cook uncovered for about 10 mins, until potatoes are beginning to soften. Add a few splashes of water to keep everything from sticking.
2. Add coconut milk to the pan and bring to bubbling. Simmer for 10 more mins, until veggies are cooked through. Season to taste and serve.

Here is the view out the back door these days.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Earthlings: A Movie Review

The kind folks at Evolutus PR sent me a DVD copy of Earthlings to review. After watching it, I am not sure whether to throw up, cry, or a mixture of the two. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, and written and directed by Shaun Monson, this documentary packs a visual punch that is bound to impact anyone who sees it. Maybe I am just a major weenie (I've been told that a few times), but I actually had to watch the film over the span of a few days because I could only handle so much at one time. Most of the footage is undercover camera shots from slaughterhouses, factory farms, animals testing sites, puppy mills, circuses, and zoos. The film questions the assumption that humans are superior to animals, and compares our species-ism to the other "isms" that have blighted humankind's past: racism, sexism, etc. It then shows, in graphic detail, the gruesome results of our desire to make animals service our perceived needs (food, clothing, entertainment, and research).

And now for the film critic part: while the film has an incredible visual impact, I felt that it lacked a variety of voices that makes documentary film-making interesting. Shaun Monson's commentary is at times monotonous, and other times hyperbolic. No one was interviewed for the film, so Monson via Pheonix is the only voice we hear. I personally found it a bit tiring, even though I agree with what the movie is trying to say.

That being said, Earthlings makes a valuable contribution by exposing what goes on behind the purposefully closed doors of the animal-harvesting industry. It reinforced my commitment to veganism, and I can see why they call the film "the vegan maker."

For friends and family who read this blog and would like to see the film, drop me a line. I would be more than happy to lend it out.