tweets for 2014-11-25

November 26th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Candle Cafe’s Quinoa Vegetable Cakes

November 25th, 2014 2:08 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-11-14 - VHC Quinoa Vegetable Cakes - 0002 [flickr]

2014-11-14 - VHC Quinoa Vegetable Cakes - 0006 [flickr]

2014-11-14 - VHC Quinoa Vegetable Cakes - 0008 [flickr]

I’m a sucker for homemade veggie patties, and the Quinoa Vegetable Cakes from Vegan Holiday Cooking are among the tastiest I’ve ever had! Technically they’re a “cake,” not a burger, but they’re pretty much the perfect size for slapping between two slices of bread, so there you go.

The batter is a mix of quinoa, onions, carrots, and red peppers, half of which you blend into a mash using a food processor (resulting in the burgers’ psychedelic neon orange color). Add breadcrumbs, shape into patties, and bake!

The primary spice is cilantro, which made me a little nervous; I’m not the biggest fan (tastes like soap!). To my surprise, the cilantro isn’t at all overwhelming, and actually adds a rather nice flavor to the finished patties.

You’re supposed to bake these bad girls at 350F for ten minutes, after which time they should be nice and crispy. Mine weren’t, even after twenty minutes in the oven, so I cranked the heat up to 400F to get the job done: about ten minutes on each side. (The recipe also doesn’t say anything about flipping, but that’s the only way I could get both sides nice and crispy.) The next time I make these, I’ll go right to 400 degrees; ten to fifteen minutes on each side ought to do it.

These are freaking amazing when served with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, mustard, and Vegenaise (pictured above) – and even better when you swap out the fresh vettable topping from friend onions and mushrooms. YUM.

tweets for 2014-11-24

November 25th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: First Daughter (The Dharian Affairs, Book Three), Susan Kaye Quinn (2014)

November 24th, 2014 12:46 pm by Kelly Garbato

A Satisfying Conclusion to The Dharian Affairs Trilogy

five out of five stars

At the conclusion of Second Daughter (Book #2 in The Dharian Affairs trilogy), Princess Aniri is about to marry her sweetheart Ash – the so-called “barbarian” Prince of Jungali – when her world is torn apart. Literally.

Commandeered by the rogue Second Son of Samir, the skyship known as The Dagger flies over Bhakti, raining death and destruction down upon the Jungali capital. Aniri is knocked unconscious, right there on the temple doorstep where she and Ash are to be wed. During her downtime, a small army of Samirian raksakas free the Samirian prisoners; kidnap Ash, as well as Aniri’s just-rescued sister, Princess Seledri, and Seledri’s husband Pavan, the First Son of Samir; and attempt to assassinate Aniri’s mother, the Queen of Dharia. War is imminent, and the Daughters of Dharia are not willing to surrender their crowns and countries to the power-hungry madman Natesh.

But with the Queen of Dharia more or less out of commission, it’s up to Aniri and her oldest sister Nahali to procure peace and (hopefully) liberate the kidnapped royals. Unfortunately, Aniri and Nahali haven’t always seen eye to eye; with disparate upbringings, loyalties, and expectations, the sisters are sure to butt heads. While Nahali readies the Dharian navy for war, Aniri sneaks into Samir in hopes of fomenting a civil war amongst its people, whose allegiances are split between the First and Second Sons of Samir.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2014-11-23

November 24th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream

November 23rd, 2014 12:45 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-10-27 - Chocolate Cherry Chunk - 0001 [flickr]

This flavor was inspired by Purely Decadent’s Cherry Nirvana flavor which, according to the internets, has been discontinued. (Boo!) Not that it much matters to me; while Kansas City is home to a surprising number of health food stores (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Green Acres, to name a few), their selection of vegan foods is uniformly sucky. Just before Halloween Shane trekked down to Overland Park in search of So Delicious’s holiday-flavored ice cream pops (Pumpkin Spice and Candy Corn), and he came home empty-handed. Also MIA: Amy’s Daiya Cheese Pizzas; Nayonaise; and Tofurky frozen pockets. WTF!

/ rant.

Anyway, this Chocolate Cherry Chunk Ice Cream is in Cherry Nirvana’s ballpark, but I came up just short of nailing it. The cherry flavor isn’t quite the same, possibly because So Delicious uses a higher-quality cherry extract than I. But the chocolate-covered cherry bits are gangbusters! Pro tip: you may want to make extra for snacking.

The frozen ice cream proved difficult to scoop, but that was totally on account of the frozen bits of chocolatey goodness; the ice cream itself is smooth and creamy. For easier scooping, you can set the chocolate cherries aside and sprinkle them atop the ice cream just prior to serving. Either way. Awesome.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2014-11-22

November 23rd, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Sweet Potato Latke Fail!

November 22nd, 2014 12:40 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-11-08 - VHC Sweet Potato Latkes - 0002 [flickr]

After a pretty respectable streak in the kitchen, I encountered an epic fail with the most unlikely of suspects: latkes, which don’t usually prove much of a challenge at all. The Sweet Potato Latkes from Vegan Holiday Cooking – a 50/50 blend of shredded sweet and russet potatoes that looks so amazing in the gourmet food photo from the cookbook – came out more like hash browns. These guys could not hold a patty shape to save their lives. Like, not even close. I put a ball of batter in my palm to flatten it out, and it just crumbled everywhere. Not to mention, they didn’t even rival the neon orange color of the latkes pictured in the book.

Not wishing to waste four potatoes (or all the effort spent grating them), I did the obvious thing: made them into baked hash browns! Basically I followed the alt. baking instructions, adding about 15 minutes to the recommended bake time. Since I needed two cookie sheets to hold all the potatoes, I tried a little experiment: the first cookie sheet I lined with parchment paper, while I lightly sprayed the other with Pam. The results? Nearly identical. Go figure.

You’re supposed to top the mini latkes with a dab o’ almond creme fraiche – but, seeing as the recipe is so similar to the one featured in the Roasted Squash Soup – i.e., the one that already didn’t work for me once – I skipped it altogether. Good thing, since there were no latkes in need of garnishing after all!

2014-11-10 - Latke Tofu Scramble - 0001 [flickr]

For what it’s worth, the leftover potatoes made a wonderful add-in for a tofu scramble. Pictured above is a scramble with mushrooms, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, and about a cup of hash browns (fried separately for maximum crispiness). So good, I’m not even 100% sure I can call this a fail.

tweets for 2014-11-21

November 22nd, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Book Review: Eating Sarah, Jaret Martens (2014)

November 21st, 2014 12:22 pm by Kelly Garbato

Not My Cuppa Grey Matter

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program. Also, there are some clearly marked spoilers towards the end of this review.)

Ever since she was a kid, all Sarah wanted to do was participate in the Hunt. Every month, guided by the light of the moon, the adults of their forest colony raid the nearby city in search of food: human captives to be harvested and consumed. But food has been harder and harder to come by, causing Robert – the leader of the colony – to unexpectedly lower the required age of participation from nineteen to seventeen. And, just like that, Sarah is thrust into the Hunt two years ahead of schedule.

Her excitement turns to horror, however, as the forest folk run into what quickly becomes a massacre. Sarah manages to escape with her life, but just barely. She returns to chaos in the colony; during the Hunt, someone murdered Robert, branding his flesh with a bite mark calling card. Robert is only the first of many murders, as more and more of the cannibals turn up dead. When an entire town embraces murder as a way of life, identifying one killer among many is a challenging task indeed.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2014-11-20

November 21st, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Candle Cafe’s Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel Soup

November 20th, 2014 1:33 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-11-06 - VHC Cauliflower & Fennel Soup - 0004 [flickr]

Another hella tasty soup from Vegan Holiday Cooking! The title’s pretty self-explanatory: the base consists of roasted cauliflower (2 heads) seasoned with fennel (3 bulbs). Simply roast the cauliflower and fennel, then cook it with the soup stock for bit; blend and serve! I couldn’t find any fennel bulbs locally, so I used a mix of dried fennel seeds and ground fennel instead: 2 teaspoons of seeds and 1 teaspooon ground fennel.

If you want to be extra-fancy, you can serve it with truffle oil to garnish.

tweets for 2014-11-19

November 20th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Mini-Review: Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart, Jennifer Adams & Ron Stucki (2014)

November 19th, 2014 12:43 pm by Kelly Garbato

Edgar Avian Poe: The Early Years

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program.)

Edgar is a rambunctious little toddler who just so happens to be a raven. One day his mother goes out, leaving Edgar and his sister Lenore to fend for themselves. What starts out as a fun afternoon of coloring ends in disaster, when Edgar starts chasing Lenore around the house with paper airplanes and accidentally knocks over the bust of his namesake, Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar attempts to hide the evidence, but Poe’s head is way too large to stuff under the floor boards – and with Lenore threatening to Cindy Brady him, it’s unlikely he’ll escape punishment anyway. What’s a toddler to do?

Part of Jennifer Adams’s “BabyLit” series, Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart is a fun way for parents to instill a love of literature in their kids from the crib onward. Other books in the series include homages to Dracula; Jane Austen; Moby Dick; Romeo & Juliet; Jane Eyre; Wuthering Heights; Frankenstein; The Wizard of Oz; A Christmas Carol; and Sherlock Holmes – and Edgar and the Tattle-Tale Heart is preceded by the similarly Poe-themed Edgar Gets Ready for Bed. (Quoth the raven: “Nevermore!”)

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2014-11-18

November 19th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Deluxe Tofu Scramble

November 18th, 2014 12:01 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-11-05 - SRJ Tofu Scramble - 0001 [flickr]

Okay, so, confession time: I did not follow this recipe – found in Simple Recipes for Joy – to the letter. I tried, I really did, but I just could not bring myself to mix the spices in the 4 to 5 recommended tablespoons of water before adding them to the tofu scramble. The tofu of which? IS NOT PRESSED! Madness, right?

I don’t know about you guys, but I usually have a problem with too much moisture in my scrambles – especially if I add veggies with a high water content, like mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Granted, this recipe calls for none of these things (though I did add a little of each, in the interest of cleaning out my fridge), but still. Four tablespoons? That’s a lot of water, yo! I would say try one tops, since the recipe is absent the one tablespoon of soy sauce I usually use. But no more!

Otherwise I really liked this Deluxe Tofu Scramble. The spices are a mix of cumin, nutritional yeast, tumeric, thyme, paprika, chili powder, salt, parsley, and coriander – which is a new one for me. The taste is a little fresh and different from what I’m used to. Definitely gonna remember coriander for my next impromptu scramble!

tweets for 2014-11-17

November 18th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Mini-Review: Thumprint: A Story, Joe Hill (2012)

November 17th, 2014 12:39 pm by Kelly Garbato

Cliffhanger ending is cliffhangery.

four out of five stars

You received a two-hundred-dollar-a-month bonus for every month you spent in the combat zone, and a part of her had relished the fact that her own life was valued so cheap. Mal would not have expected more.

But it didn’t occur to her, when she first learned she was going to Iraq, that they paid you that money for more than just the risk to your own life. It wasn’t a question of what could happen to you, but also a matter of what you might be asked to do to others. [...]

Two hundred dollars a month was what it cost to make a torturer out of her.

After her tour in Iraq, PFC Mallory Grennan returned to her childhood home in Hammett, New York – newly empty since the death of her father, also a war veteran, just ten hours before she set foot back on US soil. Whereas her father had saved lives as a medic, Mal denigrated them: you wouldn’t know it from the photographs, but she was part of the naked pyramid fiasco at Abu Ghraib. And that appears to be the least of it: as a cop in the army, she regularly humiliated and assaulted suspected insurgents.

Now her past has followed her home, in the form of mysterious thumbprints, blank ink standing out starkly against white paper, left in her mailbox, under her door, on her windshield. Mal’s wronged so many people, both in the Middle East and right here at home; which one of them hates her so much that he wishes her dead?

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2014-11-16

November 17th, 2014 2:00 am by Kelly Garbato

Candle Cafe’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Tofu Dumplings Potato Gnocchi

November 16th, 2014 1:50 pm by Kelly Garbato

2014-11-04 - VHC Roasted Red Pepper Soup - 0001 [flickr]

This might be my all-time favorite soup, you guys. AND I FREAKING LOVE SOUP! It’s like Candle Cafe’s roasted red pepper pasta sauce, but drinkable!

So there are four roasted red peppers in this bad girl, along with corn (I didn’t have any peas, so I doubled up), leeks (or scallions, in my case), onions, veggie stock, and basil. The recipe includes instructions for making your own tofu dumplings by hand, but I took a shortcut by using premade potato gnocchi instead. It turned out aces.

I’m not gonna lie; after my last red pepper fiasco, I was a little nervous about roasting my own, even if my method had served me well up until last week. But I seeded and sliced the peppers as usual, divided the slices between two glass baking pans, drizzled them with about a tablespoon of olive oil each, and then roasted at 425F for about 40 minutes. The skins? Peeled right off. Smooth as silk! Or whatever the vegan equivalent is. Satin, maybe?

I reused the roasting oils – now infused with sweet peppery goodness – in the soup. Zero waste! (I even left the skins to the insects outside.)