Book Review: Wintersong, S. Jae-Jones (2017)

Monday, February 6th, 2017

“Such sensuous enjoyment.”

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through Netgalley.)

I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts—Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored—the plain, drab, practical, talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.

“I may be just a maiden, mein Herr,” I whispered. “But I am a brave maiden.”

When Liesl’s younger sister Käthe is claimed by the Goblin King and kidnapped to the Underground, it’s up to Liesl to rescue her. After all, it’s Liesl and her mother who keep the family together and the inn running. Plain, drab, boring Liesl, who lacks Käthe’s voluptuous beauty, or her brother Josef’s virtuosity with the violin. Liesl, who composes her wild and untamed music only under the cloak of night; the music Josef polishes and performs to accolades, but for which Liesl seeks neither praise nor recognition. Like legions of unremarkable girls before her, Liesl labors in the background, her accomplishments usurped or denigrated by the men around her, depending on the circumstances.

Yet the Goblin King – Der Erlkönig, Lord of Mischief – sees Liesl for who she truly is: a unique talent, full of beauty and grace. A soul brimming with passion and wonder – and, yes, even anger and lust. A worthy opponent. The girl with whom he once sang and danced in Goblin Grove, all those years ago. The girl who forgot him – and her promise to him – once she traded in their silly childhood games for a mop and bucket and likely spinsterhood.

Liesl descends into the Underground on a sacrifice of sheet music, only to find that her mission to rescue Käthe is just the opening round of her game with Der Erlkönig. Once a mortal man, the Goblin King sacrificed his soul to bring peace to the world above. Now he is forever confined to the Underground, where he rules over the goblins and fae who once wreaked havoc on earth. But in order to turn the seasons, he requires a spark. Passion. A wife. Yet Der Erlkönig’s brave maidens do not survive long in the Underground – and, should Liesl succeed in freeing Käthe, he will need a replacement if spring is to come.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: Jacob, King of Portalia, Casey Clubb (2014)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

You had me at “LGBT Fantasy”!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-copy for review from the publisher.)

Eleven-year-old Jacob Prios is a dreamer. He kind of has to be, when real life holds so much potential for unhappiness.

Jacob wants to be an accomplished and famous “intergalactic musician” – even though he’s completely lacking in talent, no matter how much time he devotes to practicing the violin – just like his father Prantos, who died under mysterious circumstances when Jacob was only four years old. Now his mother is remarried and hardly ever speaks of her late husband. One of the few reminders Jacob has of his father is the clubhouse they built together – and on the eve of his twelfth birthday, Jacob overhears Rick and Laney conspiring to board it up after the weekend celebrations. As if this isn’t bad enough, Jacob’s journal – the one in which he scribbled another boy’s name, surrounded in hearts – has gone missing from his violin case. Jacob is convinced that he’ll soon be outed by Jimmy and his “goons,” the reigning bullies at Archer Middle School, and disowned by his stepdad Rick and best/only friend, Sammy.

And then something remarkable happens. Jacob picks up his violin and begins to play a song for Sammy – “one I’d heard long ago, in a dream of my father” – and unwittingly opens up a portal to another world.

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Book Review: The Performance Identities of Lady Gaga, Richard Gray III, ed. (2012)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Deconstructing the Fame Monster

three out of five stars

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.

In just a few short years, Lady Gaga has built a large body of work ripe for critical analysis. The sixteen authors and academics who contributed to The Performance Identities of Lady Gaga: Critical Essays clearly agree. The thirteen essays in this anthology address the spectacle that is Lady Gaga from a multitude of perspectives: sociology, politics, psychology and psychoanalysis, LGBTQ rights, gender studies and feminism, camp, Surrealism, Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, and “post-racism” and white privilege – examining her in relation to those she has parodied, as well as those who have parodied her: most obviously Madonna, as well as Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz, Thelma & Louise, Kill Bill, sexploitation/blaxsploitation/“women in prison” B movies, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Rammstein, and “Weird Al” Yankovic, to name but a few – all with an eye on performance art and identity.

The Performance Identities of Lady Gaga is obviously written by and for academics. While some essays are more accessible than others, all are filled with jargon and $20 words. I was able to muddle through with the occasional help of Google, yet some of the essays (the early ones, in particular) proved so dry that they threatened to lull me to sleep. This definitely isn’t a book for the lay monsters in the audience.

That said, a working knowledge of Lady Gaga’s oeuvre – not just the obvious song lyrics and music videos, but also concert tours, album art, costuming, speeches, interviews, and photo shoots – is an essential prerequisite for The Performance Identities of Lady Gaga. While the authors do a decent enough job of explaining the performances they’re dissecting, a certain level of prior knowledge is assumed.

I requested a copy of this book through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program not because I’m a Lady Gaga fan, but because I enjoy pop culture analysis. Nor am I an anti-fan (to borrow a term used frequently in the book); rather, I’m not really into dance/pop and thus know very little about Lady Gaga outside of her activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community. My understanding of the essays definitely could have benefited from a greater knowledge of the source material.

Perhaps owing to my love of fairy tales, I found Jennifer M. Woolston’s “Lady Gaga and the Wolf: ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ The Fame Monster and Female Sexuality” especially readable, even if most of the connections are stretched well past credulity. Also enjoyable is editor Richard J. Gray III’s contribution, “Surrrealism, the Theatre of Cruelty and Lady Gaga” – surprisingly so, since I didn’t know anything about Surrealism beforehand. Gray does an excellent job of introducing the reader to the material (without watering down the discussion for those already in the know) and then illustrating how Lady Gaga’s work clearly fits within the Surrealist tradition. Rebecca M. Lush’s “The Appropriation of the Madonna Aesthetic,” Matthew R. Turner’s “Performing Pop: Lady Gaga, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic’ and Parodied Performance,” and “Whiteness and the Politics of ‘Post-Racial’ America by Laura Gray-Rosendale, Stephanie Capaldo, Sherri Craig, and Emily Davalos are all highly engaging and interesting as well.

Not wishing to penalize the authors for my own ignorance, I struggled with weather I should give this book a 3- or 4-star review. That is, until I came to Karley Adney’s “’I Hope When I’m Dead I’ll Be Considered an Icon’: Shock Performance and Human Rights.” One of just a few pieces written from an overtly feminist perspective, I was both surprised and not a little offended when, in the course of her Lady Gaga apologism, Adney excuses and reinforces the stereotype that feminists are misandrists.

(More below the fold…)

Catch me daddy!

Monday, November 19th, 2012


 

Having tried somewhere in the neighborhood of 31 new-to-me recipes during the course of Vegan MoFo – and having had a gloriously delicious time of it – I promised myself that I’d keep experimenting with new recipes, to the tune of at least one a week. And, just to keep myself honest, I’ll be blogging the results! (Also because, as a vegan, I’m apparently incapable of devouring a meal without first taking and sharing at least several photos of it.*)

This week, it’s the “Mac Daddy” mac & cheese from Veganomicon. I know that Vegan MoFo is over, yet I can’t help but riff off this Janis Joplin song. Pair ALL the vegan foods with groovy music!

 

2012-11-14 - Veganom Mac Daddy - 0012

 

I still heart my overly processed, Daiya and Follow Your Heart blend best, but this is definitely my new favorite noochy version. (And believe me when I say that I’ve tried quite a few!) With crumbled tofu (reminiscent of ricotta) for extra sauciness, and just a hint of thyme (genius!), this is a surprisingly rich, creamy pasta dish.

And fairly healthy: the sauce only requires a tablespoon of olive oil (two here, since the recipe is doubled) – whereas, as Isa and Terry point out, many other vegan cheese sauces require a stick of margarine. (And my sauce? Don’t even get me started on my sauce. Sooooo bad for you!) Sadists!

It’s also worth noting that I’m often suspicious of tofu, but it totally works here. It’s almost like it’s part of the sauce!

 

2012-11-14 - Veganom Mac Daddy - 0018

 

All in all, this mac-n-cheese is so moist that I might actually try adding a top layer of breadcrumbs next time around. Usually I find that breadcrumbs dry out an already-parched mac & cheese dish, especially one that’s baked. Not so with the Mac Daddy! He’s smooth, smooth like the blues.

(More below the fold…)

Vegan MoFo B-Sides: Fried (or Baked!) "Fiona Apple" Apple Pies

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

 

The song: “Not About Love” by Fiona Apple

The foodstuff: Paula Deen’s Apple Fried Pies (with a variation for baking)

The connection: I just love her so much.

 

Fried (and Baked) 'Fiona Apple' Apple Pies (0042)

 

Paula Deen, veganized! (Surprisingly, this was not difficult to do. Probably ’cause it’s a rather simple recipe.)

I’ve been meaning to make these fried apple pies since last Vegan MoFo, but never quite found the time. Seriously, this post has been sitting in my drafts folder for at least a year, maybe more. Vegan MoFo may be over, but I’m still determined to finish this recipe, dammit!

And I’m so glad I did, y’all! These pies are delish. Just for shits and giggles (okay, my waistline), I decided to bake half the pies to see what would happen. The result? Well, I guess that depends on how you feel about fried foods. The fried pies are amazing – I mean, fried biscuit dough, hello! – though they do sit a little heavy in the stomach. The baked pies are still pretty tasty too, and a bit lighter. So be your own decider person, is what I’m saying.

Since I’m new to hand pies, I overestimated how much filling could go in each pie and overstuffed them a bit. Hence the ugly and misshapen pastries you see here. No matter, still just as yummy. Pro tip: if you have a pie that’s a little leaky – due to overfilling or inadequate seams – deep fry it. For whatever reason (probably all that hot oil!), you get less filling eruption in the deep fryer.

Paired with Fiona Apple for obvious reasons. Any song would work, but I liked the vid for this one. Zach Galifianakis!

 

Fried (and Baked) 'Fiona Apple' Apple Pies (0016)

 

Fried Apple Pies

Ingredients

2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and diced (about 2-3 medium sized apples)
2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a dash of allspice
1 (8-piece) container refrigerated or frozen flaky biscuit dough (or make your own!)
vegan powdered sugar to taste

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the margarine on medium-low. When melted, add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Sautee on medium heat for fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool.

2. Roll the biscuits out on a lightly floured surface making an 8″ circle with each of the eight pieces. One at a time, place a few tablespoons of the apple filling on one half of the circle. Brush the edges of the circle with water and then fold it over to made a half-moon shape. Seal the pie by pressing down on the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat until each pie is done.

3. To deep fry: Preheat a deep fryer, filled halfway with oil, to 350 degrees F. (If you don’t have a deep fryer, use a pot halfway filled with oil and an appropriate thermometer.) Drop the pies in the deep fryer (carefully!), one at a time, and fry for five to eight minutes, or until they turn golden brown, flipping halfway through. Remove immediately and place on a plate or container lined with paper towels. Blot the excess oil with a paper towel. When cool, sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar.

4. To bake: Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

 

Fried (and Baked) 'Fiona Apple' Apple Pies (0026)

 

veganmofo 2012
Eat to the Beat

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Vegan MoFo B-Sides: Dried (Not Fried!) Green Tomatoes

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

 

The song: “Cool Down Yonder” by Marion Williams

The foodstuff: Dried (Not Fried!) Green Tomatoes, three ways!

The connection: Fried Green Tomatoes, redux

 

Dried (Not Fried!) Green Tomatoes (0015)

 

Since the “Unfried” Green Tomatoes from VegRAWnica was the first dish to land on my to-do list, it’s rather fitting that it’s also the first new recipe I try post-Vegan MoFo. (Also, wholly unsurprising; I ♥ My Dehydrator!)

The batter Veronica uses is quite similar to the vegan parm I so love, but with cashews where the almonds should be. Using her method as a starting point, I came up with three different batter recipes: a more “traditional” cornmeal coating; a second that’s heavy in nutritional yeast; and one with vegan parmesan.

Of the three, I think the noochy mix is my favorite, followed by the vegan parmesan, with cornmeal coming in a distant third. Batter #2 has the strongest taste, which I appreciate because dehrdrated green tomatoes? Not a huge fan of the flavor. Fried and baked green tomatoes, I can either take ’em or leave ’em. Probably I won’t go out of my way to make them unless I’ve been cursed with some green tomatoes which refuse to ripen – but if you put a plate of fried green tomatoes in front of me, I might eat a slice or two. With dried green tomatoes, the taste is super-concentrated into a small space of real estate. The nooch covers it up, but just a bit.

Then again, if you dig the taste of green tomatoes, this is totally a good thing. Turns out my husband loves ’em. Six tomatoes, eaten in under three days. That’s gotta be a Shane record!

 

Dried (Not Fried!) Green Tomatoes (0041)

 

“Traditional” Dried Green Tomatoes

Ingredients

1 large green tomato (or two medium-sized ones), cut into slices between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick (a mandolin is helpful, but not necessary)
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
a dash of onion powder
a dash of salt

Directions

1. Cut the tomatoes into slices between 1/8″ and 1/4″ in thickness. A mandolin may prove helpful, but a steady hand will work just as well. As you go, toss the tomatoes in a large bowl. When done, add 1 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil; mix well.

2. In a small, shallow bowl, combine the cornmeal, garlic and onion powder, and salt. Mix well and add any extra seasonings to taste.

3. One by one, dredge the tomato slices through the batter, evenly coating each side. Shake off the excess and lay the slices on a dehydrator tray, making sure that there isn’t any overlap.

4. When done, bake at 135F for ten to twelve hours. (The thicker the tomato slices, the long they’ll need to bake.) A few hours into the process, flip each slices so that it doesn’t stick to the tray. Store in an airtight container.

(More below the fold…)

Eat to the Beat: The Best of Vegan MoFo & Survivor

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

 

The song: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor – with an extra-special performance by Jensen Ackles (lyrics)

The foodstuff: My favorites!

The connection: These mofos took to the tubes and rocked the internets. Or something.

 

Vegan MoFo 2012 Favorites

Thirteen of my favorite foods from the month. (Just thirteen!?!)
Jump to the bottom of the post for links and stuff!
——————————

In Vegan MoFos past, I sometimes did a link roundup, usually once a week as a sort of cheater-slash-filler post. (Which, weirdly, always required more time than making an actual meal. Go figure!) Since it didn’t quite fit in with this year’s theme, I decided to scrap the roundup – but not altogether. No way! This year’s Vegan MoFo feed saw some pretty amazing creations – and why not share the love?

So behold! My mega-supersized-gargantunormous Best of Vegan MoFo link roundup. Set to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, because I WILL NOT BREAK THEME! And, hello, does a more kickass song exist?

As per my mini Supernatural sub-theme, at the end of this post you will find a video of Jensen Ackles, playing Dean Winchester, who is lip synching/leading a full choreographed rendition of “Eye of the Tiger,” to hilarious comedic effect. (P.S. Dean has dermatitis due to ghost sickness, hence the still.) Don’t say I never did anything for ya.

Also, stick around for the Vegan MoFo B-Sides, which I’ll be posting in the next few days. After which time I shall collapse into bed with the shades drawn and not cook or bake or so much as mash a potato for the next month. (Joking! I’m already planning my menu for Vegan MoFo III. YOU HAVE CREATED A MONSTER!)

 

Recipes (aka, Kelly’s To-Do List)

  • VerRAWnica’s “Unfried” Green Tomatoes wins for being the very first recipe I bookmarked. (Spoiler alert! I already tried it! The post is in the queue.)
  • Two words: Macaroni Pie. Jenny, will you marry me?
  • Two more words: Speculoos Pudding. DYING.
  • Eyeball Salsa, Coffin Sandwiches, and Witch Fingers, oh my!
  • Kalamata Olive, Garlic and Celtic Sea Salt Focaccia Bread via mama et de bébé hawk. You had me at “Kalamata,” but the “Focaccia” sure doesn’t hurt any!
  • Also from mama et de bébé hawk: Butternut Squash Doughnuts with Apple Cider Glaze. They were featured in a Vegan MoFo roundup, so you know they’re quality.
  • Veganosaurus dined on Spaghetti and Neat Balls. Mmmm, balls.
  • Didya see Snarky Vegan’s sweet & savory ball roundup? There are enough recipes to keep a vegan in balls clear through Christmas!
  • This Sun Dried Tomato Macadamia Nut Ricotta from The Naked Kitchen sounds like it’d go great with sourdough bread. Which is good, ’cause all my home grown tomatoes are gone. (No more garden-fresh bruschetta, boo!)
  • Scare your kids with Dirt Cake! I don’t have kids, but this one’s still going on the to-do list.
  • Vegan Bailey’s! The husband is all over this one.
  • Veggie Fixation made a “Bloody Horror” Halloween Cake for zher boyfriend’s birthday. October birthday, want!
  • Rhea at the “V” Word had fun (delicious, delicious fun) imagining what celebrity chefs might make if they were vegan. My favorite concoction? Bobby Flay and The Eggplant Crunchburger. Ugh, I’m salivating on my keyboard just thinking about it.
  • The Sweetest Vegan made a Double Bacon Cheeseburger with a homemade Vegan Black Bean Burger Pattie Recipe. Sign me up!
  • Who put broccoli in my cheesy casserole? Just joshing, this Cheezy-Creamy Broccoli Casserole at Vegan4One makes my tummy rumble.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles. I can do this! CAN AND MUST.
  • Homemade Chai In [Amanda’s] Vegan Garden. Don’t mind if I do!
  • Also at In My Vegan Garden: Pizza Night! This one doesn’t have a recipe, but I love it just the same.
  • Nach-yo-average Nacho Dip. KZ Cakes, you slay me. Let’s get together and eat cupcakes and and make hilarious food puns all day?
  • Nanaimo Bars! I’d never even heard of these before today, but now I don’t think I can live another moment without them. HALP!
  • Peanut Butter Blondies with Homemade Almond Paste! Wing-It Vegan, you are an evil vegan junk food genius. (No, seriously. Check out her Halloweegan recipes!)
  • In a very special edition of Two for Tuesday, Just the Food shares recipes for Buffalo Mac Salad AND Beefy Cheesy Mac. This might be the carbs talking, but I’m swooning over here.
  • Yet another mac & cheese imma hafta try: Baked Bacon Mac & Cheese from The Unintentional Vegan. You people are killing me!
  • Vegan pumpkin spice caramel popcorn – Note to self: remind me to whip up a batch of this magic the next time we go to the drive-in.
  • Talk about yer savory brunch foods! I’m dying to try the Garlic Basil Waffles with Roasted Tomatoes dreamed up by Muffin Topped. (Also, awesome blog name is awesome.)
  • Vegan Spaghetti-Os! I never had these in my omni days, but I’m def gonna try them now.
  • Vegan Redskin Potato and Kale Gnocchi in a White Wine and Sesame Reduction. I can barely say it, let alone make it. That doesn’t mean I can’t try though!
  • Apple Sticky Buns! I’d say you had me at “buns,” except that’s the last word in the title.
  • Vegan Sparkles lives up to her name with a recipe for Melting Moment cookies. I’ve never heard of them before, but now I can’t hear enough.
  • Smoked Almond Dark Chocolate Turtles, courtesy of Baker Betty. All I can say is WOW.
  • leaves & flours made Caramel Stuffed Mocha Cookies. Caramel on the brain, I has it.
  • Allyson at Manifest Vegan claims to have discovered THE ULTIMATE Fudgy Brownie Recipe. Challenge accepted!
  • These Knishes sound delicious. (See what I did there?)
  • Sea Salt and Vinegar French Fries with Double Double Drive-Thru Burgers with Special Sauce, WHAT. Whaddya think, can I justify buying a whole cookbook just for two recipes?
  • Pasta with Lemon-Basil Cashew Cream Sauce, why you look so good?
  • Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns! In the crock pot! You will de-virginize my slow cooker, new favorite recipe.
  • Speaking of crock pots: Robin Robertson, author of The Vegan Slow Cooker, shared her recipe for Lasagna Primavera. YUM!
  • Applesauce in the slow cooker! Will wonders never cease?
  • It’s beginning to feel a lot like Corn Chowder weather!
  • Snowballs! The yummy kind!
  • For Ladies’ Night, Vegan Fling served up Soft Pretzel Bites. Hey I just met you and this is crazy, but let’s watch Mallrats while you feed me Pretzel Bites maybe?
  • No? How about some obscenely naughty looking milkshakes then?
  • KZ Cakes made some cozy looking tortellini. BY HAND! Where are all these awesome crafty vegans and why aren’t they in my kitchen?
  • More pasta, this time in salad form. I’d like to see Kramer make a Gemelli Giamatti, mkay. THEN I SHALL CONSUME HIM.
  • AGAIN with pasta! (But this recipe from Snarky Vegan? Too good to pass up!): Baked Ziti with TWO cheeses and kale! TWO cheeses! That’s, like double the cheese!
  • Vegan. Butterfinger. Candy. hell yeah it’s vegan!
  • Lisa at Vegan Culinary Crusade made the most adorable Peppermint Stars to put in her hot chocolate. Cue: cuteness coma.
  • Raw Apple Pie @ the Real Meal! This is perfect for me because apples!
  • The Veggie Girl has a healthy apple crisp that I’ve GOT to try.
  • Your Mom’s A Vegan (I wish!) comes bearing sugar apples. Simple and (I’m sure) delicious. Two more apples down, five boxes to go!
  • Bite me, I’m vegan Apple Fritters. THE END.
  • (More below the fold…)

    Eat to the Beat: Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies & Ray Parker, Jr.

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

     

    The song: “Ghostbusters (Theme)” by Ray Parker, Jr. (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies from Little House on the Vegan Prairie

    The connection: It’s Halloween and there’s a STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN in this movie!

     

    Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies (0066)

     

    Happy Halloween, y’all! Next to FSMas, this is my favorite day of the whole year. Sixteen-hour horror movie marathons with all the vegan junk food and frozen Tofurky pizzas you can eat? SIGN ME UP!

    We’re talking movie theater popcorn, salt and vinegar chips, Twizzlers, Go Max Go candy bars, ice cream sundaes, Skittles, candy apples – and new this year, a freshly made batch of Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies! Little House on the Vegan Prairie dreamed these up last Vegan MoFo and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since!

     

    Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies (0052)

    The fruit of my loins!
    ——————————

    (Yeah, I usually have a stomach ache and/or sugar headache on November 1st. But you know what? SO WORTH IT.)

    Sticky, ooey, gooey mess aside, these are pretty simple to make, with no unusual ingredients required. Just compassion and Dandies, yo! The result is a soft, cakey chocolate chip cookie with a hint of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice (the Thanksgiving spices!), covered in sweet marshmallowy goodness.

    First you mix your dry ingredients, then your wet stuff. Then you add the dry to wet and lastly, fold in the Dandies and chocolate chips. The cookies rise considerably, so give them enough space to expand on the cookie sheet. The marshmallows puff up too – sometimes well beyond the bounds of the cookies they’re attached to! As they cool and contract, the Dandies leave little cavities in the cookies. Swiss cheese cookies, oh noes!

    Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies (b-0006

    Pop the cold cookies in the microwave for ~15 seconds for maximum meltiness.
    (Yes, I own a novelization of Ghostbusters II. DON’T JUDGE ME!)
    ——————————

    A neat little workaround I found: don’t add the marshmallows until after you drop the batter onto the cookie sheet. Position one or two marshallows smack dab in the middle of the cookie and press down gently. As it bakes, it’ll drip over and down the cookie, but mostly stays on top – no hallowed out spaces in the cookies or clinging to the neighbors!

    As part of her Hurricane Sandy preparations, Vegan CineGrub also made Ghostbusters-themed cookies yesterday: Ectoplasm Stay-Puft Cookies. PJ describes them as “Coconut Marshmallow Snickerdoodle” things, but they look a lot like the Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies – only green! How cool is that? Now I know what I’m making next Halloween! Even if you don’t like cookies (MONSTER!), you should visit her place anyway, ’cause she’s got a real live pic of the Ghostbusters car. Are you jealous yet?

    Enjoyed to the sweet ’80s sounds of Ray Parker, Jr. in honor of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, a likeness of which I purchased special for the occasion. (But I shall enjoy him year-round! He makes for the most adorable of nicknacks, I tell you what!)

     

    Pumpkin Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies (0022)

    “I’m with cookies.” You and me both, Stay Puft. You and me both.
    ——————————

    Today we’ll be revisiting Ghostbusters, which I haven’t seen for years. Also on the roster – tentatively, since we usually play it by ear: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Cronos, The Tall Man, Inside, Red: Werewolf Hunter, Wrong Turn, Tales from the Hood, The House of the Devil, and The Shrine. I’m also thinking about The Cabin in the Woods, even though we already saw it in the theaters. THAT GOOD.

    Do you like scary movies, vegan? Check out this list of animal-friendly horror movies I compiled last Halloween. We ticked a bunch off our list in 2011. Soylent Green? It’s delicious.

     

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    P.S. This isn’t goodbye! I have a few extra “Vegan MoFo B-Side” posts lined up for the rest of the week (including a “best of” link roundup), AND I’m participating in the Virtual Vegan Potluck tomorrow. (Which for me is 11PM tonight. Silly time zones, always messing things up.) Stick around for more beautiful food and delicious music, mkay?

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Creamy Tomato Soup with Beer Cheese Bread & Blind Melon

    Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

     

    The song: “No Rain” by Blind Melon (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Creamy Tomato Soup served with Beer Cheese Bread – recipes from Veganomicon and Vegan Junk Food, respectively

    The connection: Rubber boots and rainy day soups!

     

    Tomato soup and grilled (Daiya) cheese sandwiches: does a more perfect rainy day meal combo exist? I think not! THIS ONE’S FOR THE BEE GIRL! Now a woman! But you get the idea!

     

    Creamy Tomato Soup from Veganomicon (0004)

     

    Isa brings the soup – namely, a Creamy Tomato Soup straight from Veganomicon. This is a rich, satisfying dish that’s so creamy you could almost mistake it for dairy. (The secret? Potatoes!) With canned crush tomatoes and sundried tomatoes for double to the tomato-y goodness. Seriously, this is a soup for lovers. Tomato lovers! (Oh snap!)

    Overall, this is a ridiculously easy meal to make, as soups often are. But there’s a caveat! The whole process will go a whole lot smoother if you have an immersion blender – otherwise, you have to let the soup cool, transfer it to the blender in batches, and then reheat it again. Yuck, right?

    I thought I was gonna hafta go the blender route, until Shane whipped out a Thunderstick thingie that he uses to make shakes. I’d totally forgotten that we owned such a device, initially confusing it with the ($2,000!) Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer he used (and I supposedly broke, though I remember no such thing!) back in the mid-aughts. It may or may not be an immersion blender proper; we’re still investigating. It doesn’t even have a brand name stenciled on its handle! Either way, it did the trick.

    Normally I’d pair this with a toasted Daiya cheese sammie, but I decided to go a slightly different route this time: cheese bread! This recipe is from Vegan Junk Food, and I’ve been eying it since I reviewed the book way back in April. (It also doesn’t help that the husband bought some Daiya cheese wedges, ostensibly for toasted cheese, and then ate them all without telling me. Boo!)

     

    Creamy Tomato Soup from Veganomicon (0027)

     

    As lip-smackingly good as the soup is, it’s the bread that’s the real star of the show. Seriously, it wins all the awards! The loaf proper is just flour mixed with beer and a little bit of brown sugar. Pour it into a loaf pan, top with melted margarine mixed with nutritional yeast, and bake for 45 minutes. By no stretch of the imagination am I a master bread-maker, yet even I was able to pull it off without a hitch.

    And the payoff is inversely related to the effort required. This Beer Cheese Bread? Divine. The sugar and beer add just a hint of sweetness, and the cheesy nooch topping I could eat all by its lonesome. (And I did, in crumb form. There may or may not have been some plate-licking involved, and not of the canine variety.) Even if you’re not a beer person – and I’m not – you’ll love this bread.

    Pro tip: The leftover slices – assuming there are any – are crazy good topped with a pat o’ margarine, toasted, and served with homemade bruschetta. Don’t say I never did anything for ya!

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Vanilla Espresso Shake & The White Stripes

    Monday, October 29th, 2012

     

    The song: “One More Cup of Coffee” by Bob Dylan (and covered by The White Stripes; lyrics)

    The foodstuff: A Vanilla Espresso Shake from American Vegan Kitchen

    The connection: Espresso-flavored milkshakes – my kind of coffee!

     

    Vanilla Espresso Shake from American Vegan Kitchen (0005)

     

    This milkshake was inspired by the shakes served at Strong Hearts Cafe in Syracuse, NY, which American Vegan Kitchen author Tami Noyes visits frequently on her way to Vermont. While I don’t need an excuse to indulge in frozen desserts – be it soft serve, ice cream cookie sammies, sundaes, milkshakes, whatever – an espresso-flavored shake is the perfect partner for this Bob Dylan song. I gave up hot coffee ages ago – I took my coffee with so much sugar and soy creamer that I started to fear for the integrity of my teeth (“Want some coffee with your sugar?”) – and so coffee-flavored desserts are the closest I get to the stuff nowadays.

    The Vanilla Espresso Shake is about as lip-smacking good as you’d expect. Coffee crystals, vanilla ice cream, vanilla soy creamer, and vanilla extract – that’s it! Bliss can be yours in 90 seconds or less.

    For the ice cream, I used the Vanilla, I Scream! from The Tipsy Vegan, which I had left over from last week. I was right: the coffee and (extra) vanilla flavoring completely eradicated the “blah blahness” of the silken tofu I complained about previously. Score! I know what I’ll be doing with the rest of it, wink wink.

     

    Vanilla Espresso Shake from American Vegan Kitchen (0023)

     

    Supposedly this recipe serves two, which is kind of laughable: it doesn’t even fill up one medium-sized glass! (And I added a little extra creamer, too!) The milkshakes you find at, say, The Chicago Diner are easily double this. Not to imply that I could have eaten more; one recipe was enough for me. But split this with a friend? NEVER!

     

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    re: today’s soundtrack, I chose the White Stripes cover of “One More Cup of Coffee,” cause it’s creepier and thus more appropriate for the season. Best described as charmingly awful, Bob Dylan’s singing voice – which I love! – just doesn’t suit this song the way Jack White’s does. IMHO! No haters!

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Maple Pecan Waffles with Smothered, Covered Hashbrowns & Bloodhound Gang

    Sunday, October 28th, 2012

     

    The song: “The Bad Touch” by Bloodhound Gang (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Maple Pecan Waffles with Smothered, Covered Hash Browns

    The connection: “I want you smothered want you covered like my Waffle House hashbrowns”

     

    Maple Pecan Waffles with Smothered, Covered Hashbrowns (inspired by the Waffle House) (0055)

    Sunday brunch, Waffle House styley!
    ——————————

    With a name like “Waffle House,” you’d expect the restaurant’s menu to include all sorts of weird and wacky waffle dishes, right? Kind of like IHOP and its ridic pancake selection. I can just picture it: Seasonal pumpkin waffles with a creamy cream cheese sauce. Chocolate chip waffles buried in a mountain of whipped cream. Blueberry waffles drowning in berry syrup. Stacks of waffles of all shapes and flavors and sizes. Sweet and savory and everything in between. A veritable cornucopia of crispy breakfast goodness!

    (Is your stomach growling yet, or is it just me and mine?)

    Except, not so much. If the online menu is any indication (and having never been, I wouldn’t know – so correct me if I’m wrong!), the Waffle House only serves two kinds of waffles: plain and pecan. BOO-RING!

    But the hash browns? They’re a whole ‘nother story! Considering the infinite ways a Waffle Housian may enjoy her grilled shredded potatoes, the Waffle House should really be called “Captain Cholesterol’s Hash Brown & Heart Attack Emporium.” Get ’em in a regular, large, or triple (!) serving. Smother them with sauteed onions. Cover them with cheese. Enjoy them “chunked” (laced with ham – thanks but no!), “diced” (tomatoes), “peppered” (jalapenos), “capped” (mushrooms), “topped” (chili!), or “country” (gravy). Or any combination of the above. Country topped and peppered, you say? Surely someone’s been there, done that.

     

    Maple Pecan Waffles with Smothered, Covered Hashbrowns (inspired by the Waffle House) (0016)

    Exhibit A: Hash browns “smothered” with onions.
    ——————————

    I know all this because – and only because – of today’s soundtrack, the Bloodhound Gang’s “The Bad Touch,” which never fails to make me crave breakfast food like a mofo. Amid all the sexual innuendo, the band drops in a reference to the Waffle House menu: “I want you smothered want you covered like my Waffle House hash browns.” I always assumed that the toppings alluded to were of the usual suspects: ketchup and hot sauce, maybe some onions or peppers. Never did I imagine the oral delights dreamed up by mad geniuses on the Waffle House R&D team.

     

    Maple Pecan Waffles with Smothered, Covered Hashbrowns (inspired by the Waffle House) (0041)

    Example #2: Hash browns “covered” in cheese sauce.
    (Technically these hash browns are smothered AND covered, but you get the idea!)
    ——————————

    And so for our menu today, a brunch inspired by the Bloodhound Gang and pulled straight from the pages of the Waffle House menu: Pecan Waffles (topped with maple syrup, bananas, and chopped pecans for that extra-special touch), served with Smothered, Covered Hash Browns.

    And I have recipes for each! The hash browns are all my own (the cheese sauce? it’s what I normally use to make mac & cheese – so good I could drink it from a mug!), but I based the waffles on a recipe found in Vegan Junk Food. fwiw, Land Gold includes a epic-looking recipe for Creamy Maple Sauce to accompany her waffles, but I decided to skip it since I ran out of burners. It sounds amazing though. A sugar coma in liquid form.

    By the way, the smothered and covered hash browns? WILL MAKE YOU MOAN. Eat them in understanding company, mkay.

     

    Maple Pecan Waffles with Smothered, Covered Hashbrowns (inspired by the Waffle House) (0030)

    The bananas really class this junk food up.
    ——————————

    (More below the fold…)

    Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: "Jalapeño Face" Spicy Waldorf Salad & Iggy Pop and the Stooges

    Saturday, October 27th, 2012

     

    The song: “I Want to Be Your Dog” by Iggy Pop and the Stooges, performed live at Rock the Waldorf Astoria 2010 (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad (recipe below)

    The connection: Is improv for Iron Chef.

     

    'Jalapeno Face' Spicy Waldorf Salad for Iron Chef (0031)

     

    As tempted as I was to make another pizza for this week’s Iron Chef challenge (hot peppers, sunflower seeds, and grapes!), I ix-nayed the idea-ay, since we literally just made two pizzas yesterday – and have the leftovers to prove it. Instead, I decided to go the healthy route with a Waldorf salad. (Which is to say, Shane had salad for dinner whilst watching me chow down on pizza, ’cause hot peppers? Not my scene. HE’S A SAINT.)

    Though I eat a ton of salad, I almost never follow a recipe proper. For me, it’s as easy as tossing all my favorite veggies and toppings together in a ginormous Tupperware bowl (mere dinnerware cannot contain my Big Salads!) and getting my nom on. Before today, I had only the vaguest idea of what goes into a Waldorf salad.

    According to the Wikis, “A Waldorf salad is a salad traditionally made of fresh apples, celery and walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal. […] Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, grapes, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added. Updated versions of the salad sometimes change the dressing to a seasoned mayonnaise or a yogurt dressing.”

    The “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad* I came up with is a mix of old and new. It’s got all the classic fixins of a Waldorf salad: greens, apples, celery, grapes, walnuts, and mayo – as well as a few new additions: spicy, jalapeño-roasted sunflower seeds and an equally spicy jalapeño mayo dressing. A mix of sweet and spicy, the “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad is not for the faint of tongue!

    Pro tip: The mayo is just my go-to DIY Nayonaise recipe with some diced jalapeños thrown in. You can just blend some hot peppers with your own favorite vegan mayo, if you’d rather. Make a whole batch of the stuff, or just enough for the salad – it’s super-flexible.

    Paired with Iggy Pop because he and The Stooges played the Waldorf-Astoria (the birthplace of today’s meal) when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. That, and Iggy Pop is all the awesome.

     

    'Jalapeno Face' Spicy Waldorf Salad for Iron Chef (0026)

     

    “Jalapeño Face” Spicy Waldorf Salad

    Ingredients

    a bed of leafy greens
    diced apples
    diced celery
    green grapes
    walnuts
    jalapeño-roasted sunflower seeds (see recipe below)
    spicy vegan mayo (see recipe below)

    Directions

    In a large bowl, put down a layer of greens. Top with the apples, celery, grapes, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and mayo and enjoy!

    (More below the fold…)

    Eat to the Beat: Cheesy Kale Chips & Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

    Saturday, October 27th, 2012

     

    The song: “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Cheesy Kale Chips from Vegan Junk Food

    The connection: Battlestar GalacticaSeason 3, Episode 10, “The Passage”

     

    Kale Chips from Vegan Junk Food (0015)

     

    So this is one of those food-song pairings which is less obvious and thus requires a lengthier explanation. As much as I love Battlestar Galactica and could ramble on and on about it for days, I’ll try to keep it short and simple. This is a food festival, after all.

    For those who aren’t fans (OH MY GODS WHY NOT? YOU ARE MISSING OUT EPICALLY!), the basic premise of BSG is this: after a decades-long truce with the Cylons – sentient robots built, enslaved, and oppressed by humans – the Twelve Colonies are attacked by their “children” (now evolved into android form). Humanity is destroyed. Decimated. Entire cities and planets are colonized by the Cylons – or wiped off the map altogether. The ~50,000 human survivors – most of whom were off-planet, traveling in spaceships, when the attack occurred – flee, with the Cylons in hot pursuit.

    At turns, the Cylons aim for the extinction of the human race – or peaceful (yet dominant) coexistence with them. Meanwhile, the humans want nothing but to escape the Cylons; to find a new planet to settle and rebuild human civilization. The duration of the four-season show follows our “heroes” (not really; not always) as they search for the mythical planet of earth, supposedly settled by their ancestors so many centuries ago.

    While BSG touches upon a number of heavy topics – democracy, warfare, slavery, civil liberties, abortion – the themes of home and family can be found throughout. Forced to live on cramped, uncomfortable ships for years, some of them subjected to horrific working conditions, the survivors are just that: surviving. Nothing more; for many, less, as war, disease, and hunger ravage the population. The hope of finding a new planet to settle – a new home – is all that sustains them.

    In the meantime, they must learn how to make do with their actual homes: the warships, prisons, and luxury liners that carry them through space. (Even in wartime, inequities persist!) The survivors find friends, forge alliances, fall in love, start families. They struggle to find normalcy in the midst of a perpetual emergency.

     

    null

     

    Though they do eventually find earth, it’s a shell of a planet, ravaged by nuclear warfare. Uninhabitable; in no better shape than the planets they fled. (Oh, humanity. Will you ever rise above your violent nature?) While their faith is shattered, they keep searching. What else is there to do but forge on? In time they find a new earth – earth as we know it – and at long last they stop running; they settle the planet, together, humans and Cylons alike. Among the refugees is young Hera, a human-Cylon hybrid – the first – who will one day come to be known as Eve.

    In my own mental BSG soundtrack, “Home” is the very first track (followed at a close second by History Repeating), and for obvious reasons. Home is where you find the people you love. Home is where you are, where you want to be. Home is where you make it, but not always in the place you imagined it.

    And how does the kale figure in, you ask? Season 3, Episode 10 (“The Passage”) saw the fleet facing starvation after their food stores were contaminated. In search of sustenance, they stumble upon the “Algae Planet,” which has “an abundance of primitive plant life in the form of waterborne algae which the refugee fleet stop to harvest for food.” While the mission doesn’t go altogether smoothly, the fleet successfully replenishes its food supply. Naturally, much grumbling about the lackluster menu ensues.

     

    Kale Chips from Vegan Junk Food (0022)

     

    Even though it’s actually algae they harvest, I can’t help but think of kale every time that episode comes to mind. But not in a bad way! I’m convinced that there would have been much less complaining about the food if only they just knew how to prepare it properly. Too bad they didn’t have any nutritional yeast (or Lane Gold) on hand!

    Which brings us to the Cheesy Kale Chips from Vegan Junk Food! I tried to make these months ago – back when I was reviewing the book – but the husband accidentally brought home cabbage, and it was all downhill from there. Luckily, the second time’s the charm – once I had a bunch of honest-to-goodness kale to work with, it was smooth sailing. The kale is seasoned with olive oil, salt, nutritional yeast, and cayenne pepper and baked until crispy. A pretty standard recipe, I think, and very tasty. Addictive, even.

    They don’t quite taste like tortilla chips as Gold promises, but they’re still good! And healthy! (Seriously, where’s all that junk food I was promised? Wink, wink.)

    Just remember to remove the stems – ALL OF THEM. Seriously, even the teenty tiny tertiary baby stems! I left a few little veins intact, and had to eat around them, so tough and gross were they.

     

    Kale Chips from Vegan Junk Food (0028)

     

    The leaves – dissected as they are at multiple points by the stems – will be much smaller, but also easier to work with.

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Pizza Margherita & Ghost Mice

    Friday, October 26th, 2012

     

    The song: “Free Pizza for Life” by Ghost Mice (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza

    The connection: This “heart healthy pizza” might not be free, but it’s good for life!
     

    Truth be told, I have no idea where or how a vegan might score free pizza. Befriend the owners of Peace O’ Pie? Offer up one’s dishwashing skills at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in exchange for all the odd slices you can eat? Dumpster dive at Whole Foods, hoping to find a past-date, discarded Tofurky pizza? Who knows! Not me, otherwise I’d be doing it right now instead of writing this post. Pizza is my everything.

     

    Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza (0025)

     

    Instead of concentrating on the “free” portion of this song, then, let’s enjoy pizza “for life.” The very first all-vegan pizza cookbook (that I know of!), Mark Sutton’s Hearth Healthy Pizza (subtitled “Volume 1” on Amazon – could there be a second book in the works? PLEASE SAY YES!) includes more than 100 recipes for delicious, nutritious vegan pizza and related foodstuffs. We’re talking dough, cheeses, and meats. Sauces, salsa, and pestos. Tempeh anchovies, y’all! Recipes for crusts and sauces are listed in their own chapters, and then Sutton pulls it altogether by putting together a variety of pizza combinations for you: The Official Mad Cowboy. Thymely Summer Squash. St. Patty’s Pizza Pie. And on and on.

    Because the recipes rely primarily upon grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and assorted other nutritious vegan goodies, the pizza pies in this book aren’t just good – they’re also good for you. Pizza “for life,” in other words.

    I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that, though I won a copy of this book months ago, this is the first recipe I’ve tried! Mostly because I’ve been busy concocting my own (much less healthy) pizza masterpieces – but also, every time I crack Heart Healthy Pizza open, I get a wee bit intimated. Baking and blending your own meats and cheeses from scratch…it’s like every recipe is a recipe within a recipe. Inception, vegan pizza styley! With so many steps, I was afraid each pizza would take most of an afternoon to make. Cue: procrastination.

     

    Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza (0004)

     

    But it isn’t so! I chose the Pizza Margherita because it seemed simple enough – but even this pie required me to make all the components from scratch: Basic Pizza Dough (obvs!); Classic Tomato Sauce; Millet, Sunflower Seeds, and Oregano Sauce (hold the oregano!); and Parmiso. Though I cheated on the tomato sauce (hey, I had a jar of Newman’s Own Marinara Sauce already opened!), I made everything else and guess what? It wasn’t all that hard! Between the dough and the cheeses, the whole affair took less than 45 minutes. Plus, the Millet Sauce and Parmiso keep well in the fridge, so you can make them ahead of time!

    The Pizza Margherita is like a traditional Old World pie, but vegan – with the Millet, Sunflower Seeds, and Oregano Sauce subbing in for raw slices of mozzarella. It’s a thick sauce, similar in consistency to pancake batter, which you “blob” onto the pizza. I wasn’t sure how much it would spread out during cooking – if at all – so I went a little easy on it. (The leftovers? Makes a delicious spread for sammies!) Turns out that it pretty much stays put, so don’t be afraid to cover your ‘za with blobs. Cheesy!

     

    Parmiso from Heart Healthy Pizza (0002)

     

    The Parmiso Sutton describes as a “combination of plant-based grated Parmesan Cheese and Gomiso. Gomiso is a ground roasted sesame seed and salt mixture, very popular in macrobiotic cooking as well as in Asia (particularly, Korea). Though I was tempted to use my own favorite vegan parm, I decided to give Sutton’s Parmiso a try – and I’m glad I did! Super-tasty, though I think it goes better on pizza than pasta. For that, I prefer my almond and nooch mix.

    As for the dough, the mister (who’s forever on dough duty in our house) reports that it’s denser than he’s used to – which is a good thing, since it makes the dough easier to work with. It bakes into a nice, crispy, stable crust – especially perfect for heavy toppings.

    Put it all together, and I quite enjoyed the Pizza Margherita! Nutritious, easy to make, yummy – and possibly even less expensive than vegan pies topped with pricey commercial meats and cheeses, to boot. (My usual MO.) I look forward to trying some of the other recipes in Heart Healthy Pizza. (Tofu Feta, I’m looking at you!)

    Pro tip: since there aren’t many toppings protecting the sauce, the Pizza Margherita comes out a little dry when you reheat the leftovers. Go heavy on the sauce or go home! Or if you’re already there, come on over to my place and make me a pizza. I’m hungry again, yo!

     

    Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza (0038)

     

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Spinach Mushroom Quiche with Sweet Palmiers & Bow Wow Wow

    Thursday, October 25th, 2012

     

    The song: “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Vegan Quiche with Sweet Palmiers (recipes below)

    The connection: France!

     

    You might think that it’s absurd to pair a song like “I Want Candy” with anything but candy. And you know what? You just might be right! Even so, ever since it appeared in Marie Antoinette, I’ve come to associate this Bow Wow Wow tune with French aristocracy. Bah, it really does sound absurd when you say it out loud. No matter! I’ve got French food on the brain, so French food it is!

     

    Spinach Mushroom Quiche (0039)

     

    Unfortunately, I’m no culinary genius, so I went with the first two super-obvious French foods to come to mind: a vegan quiche with Sweet Palmiers for dessert. Puff pastries paired with a tofu-egg-casserole-pie-thingie: weird? Perhaps. But it totally works!

    I’ve never made a quiche before, so I hit the net and came up with a spinach mushroom concoction based on what seems to be the basic vegan quiche recipe – namely, a brick of tofu + nutritional yeast and assorted seasonings + whatever veggies your heart desires. I consider spinach the quintessential egg (and by extension, tofu) filling, since the only time I ate the stuff as a kid was when my mom scrambled it with eggs. And mushrooms are just plain awesome, so there you go. I think it’s a delicious combo – but if you disagree, just swap ’em out for your own favorites. I won’t judge.

    You can use a store-bought crust if you’d like, but making it by hand isn’t all that difficult if you have a food processor. Either way, still not judging.

    As for the Sweet Palmiers, the recipe is pretty standard. And easy! Don’t let the puff pastry part fool you. Pepperidge Farm makes a frozen puff pastry that’s vegan, so go wild. These bad boys are too delectable for words – borderline addictive, I ate more than half the batch with my quiche dinner – so definitely give these a try if you’re partial to light, sweet, airy things.

    And if you’re not? I don’t wanna know you. (Joking! You can just give me your half and we’ll call it even, mkay?)

    (More below the fold…)

    Eat to the Beat: Not-Pot Brownies & Willie Nelson

    Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

     

    The song: “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” by Willie Nelson (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Not-Pot (it’s Thyme, yo!) Chocolate Chip Brownies (recipe below)

    The connection: Weed. Pot. Dope. Grass. Ganja. THC. Cannabis. Skunk. Hash. Mary Jane. Chris Christie. Mexican Lung Confetti.

     

    Liberal activist. Long-haired hippie. Lovable stoner. Country rock legend. What can you say about Willie Nelson other than FUCK YEAH!? (Or, perhaps more to the point, I wish he’d adopt one of my parents so I could have the coolest grandfather of all time?) Nothing, that’s what. He’s Willie Fucking Nelson!

     

    Not-Pot Brownies (b-0021)

    With denim, cuz that’s how Willie rolls.
    ——————————

    When I think of Willie – in the context of food, that is – the first thing to come to mind is a big, fat pot brownie. Or a space cake. Or maybe a hash cookie. Basically all the foods with the drugs. (As it turns out, there’s quite a few of ’em!) So in Willie’s honor, I’d like to share with you a batch of Chocolate Chip Brownies. But they’ll have to be Not-Pot Brownies, seeing as my state doesn’t have a medical marijuana law (boo!).

    While oregano is the usual hilarious prop stand-in for pot, I chose thyme since it goes well with chocolate. That’s what a chef told me, anyway, when I accidentally put thyme on my chocolate coconut milk ice cream and posted the evidence for its comedic value.

     

    Chocolate Sprinkles vs. Thyme (0001)

    Exhibit A in my case against Edward & Sons.
    ——————————

    (Not my fault! I was going for the chocolate sprinkles and grabbed the thyme by accident, on accounta Edward & Sons puts their sprinkles in these ridiculous little cellophane packages and I needed a container to store them after they were opened because the bag isn’t resealable and so I used an old spice container that’s identical to the thyme and you do the math! Like I said not my fault! Okay, maybe 20%. But that’s all I’ll concede!)

    And she was totes right. These brownies are pretty damned tasty. I started with my old stand-by brownie recipe (anyone remember this from last MoFo’s Iron Chef? Bueller?) and added some ground thyme to taste – as well as dried thyme to garnish. That easy! I imagine that baking with pot is a little tougher, but probably you don’t care because POT. Everything is rainbows and unicorn farts.

    This brownie recipe is a little on the cakey side, so if you prefer your brownies chewy or fudgey or whatnot, just add a teaspoon of ground thyme to your own favorite version for the same effect.

    As far as the tunes go, any Willie Nelson song is a fine choice because WILLIE NELSON. In keeping with my unofficial, not-quite-a-theme, mini-Supernatural-theme-within-a-theme, I’m going with “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” tearfully dedicated to Cas and Dean.

     


     

    THEIR LOVE IS LEGENDARY!

    (More below the fold…)

    Eat to the Beat: Swedish Meetballs & AC/DC

    Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

     

    The song: “Big Balls” by AC/DC (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Swedish Meetballs from Cozy Inside, served over fettuccine

    The connection: I was going to make a joke about Chris Hemsworth’s balls – thinking that he must surely hail from a Nordic country, if not Sweden proper – but it turns out he’s Australian. BALLS.

     

    Swedish Meetballs from Cozy Inside (0043)

    All that’s missing is the Hammer of Thor.
    ——————————

    Just when this Italian thought that pasta couldn’t get any tastier. BAM! Along come these Swedish Meatballs to shatter my world view. (I almost replaced “world” with “food” in that previous sentence – until I realized that food IS my world. Mind blown a second time.)

    Maybe it’s odd that it took me 34 years to try my first bite of Swedish Meatballs. (Spelled “Meetballs” in Cozy Inside, so this is how I’ll refer to them thusly.) The fact is, it just wasn’t on the menu when I was a kid and, as an adult, I never had the urge to try the stuff. Former fussy eater over here! I wasn’t even 100% sure what made meatballs “Swedish” until I spied a recipe in Cozy Inside whilst compiling my menu for Vegan MoFo. (Hint: it’s the gravy! The sauce is really gravy!)

    It turns out that pasta slathered with gravy and served with giant fried tvp meetballs? IS PRETTY FUCKING DELICIOUS. No, wait, that’s an understatement. It’s epically delicious.

     

    Swedish Meetballs from Cozy Inside (0002)

    Gravy, the sexiest of the sauces.
    ——————————

    The hardest part of this recipe is the “meetballs,” which are made by mixing reconstituted tvp with sauted onions and garlic and vital wheat gluten, among other things. Then you form ’em into balls and fry ’em in a skillet because yum!

    I had a little trouble getting my balls to stick together (insert testicle joke here). Normally when I fail in a recipe, I blame myself – I am the amateur, after all – but the directions in this recipe proved a little confusing. For instance, I wasn’t quite sure when I was supposed to add the tvp to the other ingredients, before or after mixing in the wheat gluten. Not that it would have made a huge difference, at least I don’t think. Either way, I ended up adding between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of flour (whole wheat) to soak up the extra moisture and get everything to bind together. Even so, you have to be very gentle when frying the balls, lest some stray bits escape.

     

    Swedish Meetballs from Cozy Inside (0024)

    cosmo tip #457: If a boy sends you a picture of his penis,
    send him a picture of a bigger penis.
    Unrelated to Swedish Meetballs, but handy advice nonetheless.
    ——————————

    My suggestion: make the balls first and then keep ’em warm (warm balls, tee hee) in the oven. Put them in a glass baking pan and heat at 200F while you make the pasta and gravy.

    Though they proved a semi-PITA, the meetballs are so worth it. Crispy and just the right amount of greasy on the outside, with a soft, melt-in-your mouth center. Amazing! They lose their crispiness when reheated in the microwave, but the leftovers are still pretty damn tasty. Enjoy them alongside any kind of pasta dish – or on a “meetball” sub, pita pizza, or just plain on their own. Go ahead, pop one in your mouth. Twirl it around a little. Give it a gentle nip. You know you wanna.

     

    Swedish Meetballs from Cozy Inside (0037)

    And my balls are always bouncing,
    To the left and to the right.
    It’s my belief that my big balls should be held every night.
    ——————————

    Luckily, the rest of this recipe is super-simple. Pasta and gravy (in this case, a mushroomy blend), that’s it. Even a horny rock star could do it!

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Cheater Baked Beans with Skillet Corn Bread & The Black Keys

    Monday, October 22nd, 2012

     

    The song: “Lonely Boy” by The Black Keys (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Cheater Baked Beans and Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon

    The connection: Beans, beans, the magical fruit.

     

    Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon (0018)

     

    This might be the most juvenile food/song pairing of the month. Unless Adam Sandler wins just by virtue of being Adam Sandler, which is not just possible but also quite likely.

    I usually stay away from beans – not because they’re not delicious (they are!), but because they make me bloat up like a mofo. (TMI Tuesday, a day early!) But these Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon? Totally worth it!

    The recipe is ridiculously simple: onions, garlic, pasta sauce, molasses, spices. Cook ’em in a skillet, then add the beans and bake for an hour. So easy my 24-year-old brother could do it! (No offense to the 24-year-old dudes out there, but my brother is hella lazy and also propped up by my parents’ apron strings.

     

    Cheater Baked Beans from Veganomicon (0008)

     

    …I’m doing the TMI thing again aren’t I?)

    Given how few ingredients go into this bad boy, I was surprised at how rich and flavorful the sauce turned out. SO GOOD!

    I served it with the Skillet Corn Bread, also from Veganomicon. Don’t let the title fool you – you cook this bread in the oven (preferably in a cast-iron skillet, but I used a glass baking pan). And at the same temp as the baked beans – handy dandy!

     

    Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon (0003)

     

    The only thing I’d do differently is maybe make the baked beans a lil’ saucier the next time around. For instance, the recipe calls for a 15 ounce can of pasta sauce, but I always buy the larger 24 ounce size. I had half a mind to dump it all in, but I followed the recipe for a change. Now I have 9 ounces of pasta sauce languishing in the fridge and three leftover squares of corn bread that shall remain baked beans-less. Oh noes!

    The beans are perfect on their own, but when you serve them over the corn bread, extra sauce is a must. The bread’s on the dry side, though the husband reports that it’s not nearly as dry as some of the corn bread he enjoyed growing up. Me, I don’t think I’ve ever had it before (deprived I know!), so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It’s super-tasty with a pat o’ margarine, too!

    Oh, if only I had some No-tella left…

     

    Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon (0002)

    Jayne was trolling for a bite of my dinner – until I whipped out the camera for pictures.
    The flash is like her Kryptonite. Ditto: wooden spoons and vacuum cleaners.
    ——————————

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Eat to the Beat: Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos & Lucinda Williams

    Sunday, October 21st, 2012

     

    The song: “Lonely Girls” by Lucinda Williams (lyrics)

    The foodstuff: Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside

    The connection: Comfort food, yo.

     

    Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside (0037)

    This burrito might not look like much, but it’ll fill your belly and then some.
    ——————————

    Put your stretchy pants on, ladies, because you’re gonna need ’em! These Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside are the ultimate in comfort food. Or brunch food! Or breakfast food! Any of the vegan foods, really.

    The title, while enticing, doesn’t quite do this burrito justice: there are not one, not two, but THREE layers of delicious breakfast items packed into this bad boy! Namely, tvp sausage, scrambled tofu “eggs” – and tater tots, too! I KNOW RIGHT! All that’s missing are the pancakes and maple syrup.

     

    Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside (0026)

    My burrito, before I folded it up, thus hiding its savory insides.
    ——————————

    As incredible as it sounds, this was one of the last of the Vegan MoFo dishes I dared make. I mean, it should’ve been at the front of the line, right? But the lengthy, three-dish recipe intimated me. More than a little. Which seems silly in retrospect, because it wasn’t difficult to make at all! The whole thing took less than an hour, and I even had to stop for a break in the middle so that I wouldn’t finish ahead of schedule.

     

    Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside (0032)

    A platter of fixin’s. And this isn’t even all of it: there are still some leftovers on the stove!
    ——————————

    The egg layer is just a simple tofu scramble, fairly similar to what I normally make, but minus nutritional yeast. Naturally I added the nooch back in because CHEESE, and then I upped the ante with a can of sliced mushrooms because I love love love ’em. Near the end, Newman tells you to mix in a little sour cream (I used homemade mayo, but it’s almost the same thing!), which makes for an interesting touch. Gonna have to try that in my next tofu scramble! I made this dish first (while the tvp was reconstituting, naturally! multitasker over here!) and set it aside on low heat while I cooked the other layers.

    Up next: sausage made of tvp reconstituted in vegan chicken broth, seasoned, and fried. Very tasty, with a bit of a spicy kick. Hint: it’s the cayenne.

    Last but not least is a layer of tater tots, fried and mashed until they reach a hash brown-like state (and they photograph like white rice!). Soooo good, and since it’s a no-brainer, it’s also easy to cook while you’ve got the tvp sausage going.

    When done, pile it high in a burrito-sized tortilla, wrap, and consume. Wear a bib, though, it’s messy. Or a tattered sweatshirt! I mean, you’re eating this in bed while crying over Supernatural reruns on TNT, right? (See: song title.)

    Shane enjoyed his topped with a bit of guacamole and Sriacha

     

    Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside (0050)

    Shane likes it messy.
    ——————————

    while I slathered a little extra mayo on the insides.

    I’ve never photographed a burrito before – but when I saw the photos and got a feel for what worked and what didn’t, I decided to give it another try.

    Hence, the leftovers.

     

    Leftover Sausage and Egg Breakfast Burritos from Cozy Inside (0005)

    Why so shy, tofu?
    ——————————

    You’ve got to stuff the burrito extra-full with the filling spilling out one end so it’s visible. Duh, right?

    Luckily, this recipe makes four to five large burritos, so there was plenty of extra to work with.

    P.S. Lucinda Williams is all the awesome and if you’re not already a fan, you should totes give her a try. Ovaries before brovaries!

     

    veganmofo 2012
    Eat to the Beat

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    Iron Chef/Eat to the Beat: Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce & Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen

    Saturday, October 20th, 2012

     

    The song: “Gimme Pizza” (Slow Jam) by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (original)

    The foodstuff: Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce (recipe below)

    The connection: P.I.Z.Z.A.

     

    Y’all, I’ve been wanting to incorporate pizza (my favorite!) into these Iron Chef challenges for some time now – but tragically, none of the ingredients have really screamed “pizza.” (Which is weird because pizza, much like ice cream, never fails to make me scream. And cry and moan and a few other things that are too obscene to mention here.) Until this weekend, that is!

    Two words: potatoes and sesame.

     

    Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0021)

     

    Two more words: potato pizza!

    To start, I made a basic white pizza dough (my go-to recipe!), with a little garlic powder mixed in. The crust is dusted with a bit of rosemary-infused olive oil, then stacked high with several layers of paper-thin, salty Yokon Gold (or, in my case, red skin) potatoes, also seasoned with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and, voilà, an Iron Chef inspired pizza for four!

    Since this is all so basic it feels rather like cheating, I also made a Garlic Sesame Sauce: silken tofu, blended and dressed up with sesame seed oil, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, and a few other things. I used the Sour Cream recipe found in Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food as a jumping-off point, testing and adding ingredients until I had something that was a little bit sesame, a little but garlicky. Not half bad, if I do say so myself!

    It’s meant to be drizzled (or plopped, as the case may be) on the pizza post-baking

     

    Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0041)

     

    or served on the side as a dipping sauce,

     

    Rosemary Potato Pizza with Garlic Sesame Sauce for Iron Chef (0063)

     

    but you could easily use it like a more traditional pizza sauce. Cut the olive oil in half and add the sauce first, followed by the potatoes, olive oil, and optional sesame seeds. Easy as pie! (Because it is a pie!)

    The pizza’s pretty great on its own, but I like the sauce because it helps to add a little moisture to what can sometimes be a dry pie. (Mashed potatoes work wonders too!) Got leftovers? Don’t fret! The sauce also makes for a tasty dressing, dip, or sandwich spread.

    We also made a pretty epic Bruschetta Pizza, a slice of which you see on my plate. (When we make pizza, we ALWAYS make two. One for everyone!) And yup, I’ve got a recipe for that too!

    You’re welcome.

    (More below the fold…)