Sunday, May 31, 2009

Don't Know Beans? Now You DO!

I was able to coax the pictures out of my digital camera, even though its batteries are protesting. Here is my bean photo-essay.

Do I always use dried beans for recipes? Heck no! But if I'm cooking on the weekend, I try to use dried beans. They taste better and you can feel the love. Does it matter where you buy your beans? Yes and no. I'm super in to Rancho Gordo beans right now, which I can buy at the farmer's market down the street from my office. (You can also order them online at their website, which I will link to in just a moment.)

Rancho Gordo heirloom beans are more expensive than grocery store beans. And still less expensive than meat. And they are freshly dried beans. They have not been sitting around on the shelf for a year at the store, after having been warehoused for several years already. And Rancho Gordo does some good things in this world of ours. And I have now used several packages of their beans, and I never find stones or bad beans. But I still check. You can still use grocery store beans with good results, especially if you buy them out of the bulk bin of a busy store. And yes, you can still open a can!

I used the White Tepary Beans, and made White Bean Soup with Rosemary from Dreena Burton's "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan" cookbook.

Thanks to the good people at Rancho Gordo, I now have a great bean-cooking method. I used to just boil them in a pot of water, which technically works. They cook, but they have no sass. Check out their method here. Buy something while you're there, why don't you? Their pictures are much better than mine, but here are some pictures anyway.

Here is one pound of White Tepary Beans, still in their lovely package. Note how small they are. They will double in size, at least.

This is my version of mirepoix. I don't like onions, so I use leeks instead. Here my veggies are, with garlic, being sauteed in a very small amount of olive oil.

Here is the pot of veggies, with the water added. The beans are now in the bottom of the pot. Watch the magic. (Did you know that you should never add salt until your beans are done cooking? Otherwise, they will not get done!)

The water is not yet at a full boil, but the beautiful beans are swollen with excitement and have rushed to the surface of the water. They are already a lot bigger, and they are not weird and wrinkly like some beans. I think that this is because they are not old.

This is not a great photo, because it was so steamy. Now the beans are done and delightful. The yield from one pound was exactly six cups of beans. Now just drain them and get on with whatever your recipe is!

Dinner Plans for 06/01/09 - 06/07/09

So, this last week threw me a bit of a curveball, mostly because I caught a cold, and I had two audits at work, so I was stressed. I cooked some of my planned meals, but definitely not all.

I did make the Veggie Fried Quinoa, which we both liked a lot. I also made the White Bean Soup with Rosemary, which was very rich and delicious. I modified it a bit, made it slightly lower fat. I used Rancho Gordo White Tepary beans, which I will have a separate post about tomorrow, when I have batteries for the digital camera. I definitely recommend "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan" by Dreena Burton, the book that this soup recipe came from. I ordered it after hearing about it on the Vegan Freak podcast, she had me at "whole chapter on hummuses!" Here's a link if you want to check it out:

The meal plans this week: (As always I have posted links to recipes that appear online already, because I wouldn't ever infringe on a hardworking author's rights.

Monday: Tofu Tacos, from the Dr. McDougall dvd "McDougall made Simple". Recipe here: For a side dish: roasted corn, tomato and broccoli raw salad with cumin lime dressing.

Tuesday: Leftover Tacos and salad

Wednesday: Raunchy Red Lentil Soup from "La Dolce Vegan" by Sarah Kramer. Cucumber and romaine salad as a side dish. This is a great recipe and a fairly regular dish at our house. Easy enough to make on a weeknight without making me swear, tasty, healthy and cheap! Check out her cookbook here:

Thursday: Leftover Raunchy Red Lentil Soup and salad

Friday: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pizza from "Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan"

Saturday: Caesar salad with Living Caesar Dressing and Polenta Croutons (both from "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan"). Baked Potatoes with fixings.

Sunday: WTF? Wings from the PETA's Vegan College Cookbook, you can check out the book here: I'll serve these with cucumber spears and Raw Ranch Dressing. (Check out that recipe here This is my favorite place to be on the whole internet.)

I was ready to make fun of this book, because I'm kind of jerky that way, and it had a whole section on RAMEN, and I have mixed feelings about PETA. But I cannot make fun of it now that I've made the Dorm Room Shrooms. I cut down the earth balance a little, but they still tasted awesome. And I like to make something slightly junkier on Sundays, because I have my weigh-in Sunday mornings. Speaking of which, I lost one pound this week. Not bad for slacking so much on the dinners.

Next Sunday, I expect better numbers. I am staring my Walk Away the Pounds dvds again tomorrow morning.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekly Dinner Plans

Here are my dinner plans for the week. Trying to make things "McDougall Style" wherever possible.

Monday - Whole Wheat Pasta, Marinara, Trader Joe's veggie balls, romaine salad with cucumbers and homemade lowfat ranch dressing.

Tuesday - Vegetable Fried Quinoa from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen.

Wednesday - Leftover Quinoa. Going to dentist for a crown, may not feel like eating.

Thursday - Pizza on whole wheat crust with marinara, portabello mushrooms and olives (no cheese).

Friday - White Bean Soup from "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan" by Dreena Burton

Saturday - Veggie Burgers (probably these: with corn and a cooked veggie.

Sunday - Leftover White Bean Soup

We went to a lowfat vegan brunch this Sunday, and had a good time. We didn't know anybody, which always makes me shy and nervous, but everyone was nice and the food was good.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

General Personal Junk

I recently had to do some re-evaluating and honest thinking with myself. I had joined the Raw Fu challenge that started in April. This is the second 100 day challenge that I joined, full of intentions of being 100% raw. And failing, over and over, and feeling awful. And eating things that really emotionally hurt me in many personal ways.So I had to decide that instead of trying to be 100%, freaking out, feeling like a failure, and BINGEING over this, I will be 25 - 50% raw, which I can really sustain. I'm at a solid 25% right now. The remainder is vegan low-fat goodness. There are lots of reasons, such as money, my level of obesity, poor teeth, etc. But really, I just wasn't making any headway. So here I am. And I lost some weight this month and I feel good.

Also, speaking of Raw Fu! goodness, the first issue of the amazing Raw Fu magazine recently came out, and it's gorgeous. Check it out!

May Already?

I bought a new cookbook and checked a cookbook out from the library this weekend, so I'm cooking up a storm this weekend. I bought Peta's Vegan College Cookbook, even though I'm not exactly college-aged. It had some good, fast recipes.

Last night I made "Stuffed Dorm Room 'Shrooms".

Here is the recipe, adapted. (I'm hoping PETA wont' mind me sharing, since I'm saying it's a nice cookbook!)

1/2 lb medium-sized mushrooms, washed, with stems removed and saved
2 TBSP vegan margarine (recipe called for FOUR TBSP)
1/4 c. chopped chives
3 TBSP breadcrumbs

Arrange mushroom caps, hollow side up, in a single layer in a baking dish. Set aside. Chop up mushroom stems and combine with margarine and chives in another dish. Nuke, uncovered, 3 - 4 minutes, stirring twice. Add breadcrumbs, stir, set aside. Cover mushroom cpas and nuke 2 - 3 minutes, until nearly cooked, rotating dish 1/2 turn after first minute. Stuff each cap with some of breadcrumb mixture. Cover and nuke 2 minutes, til hot. (Serves four, but I had it as an entree, so we each had half.) It was fast and easy too! I recommend it.

Tonight I have a veggie curry in the crockpot from "Fast From the Vegetarian Slowcooker" by Robin Robertson, and it smells great!