Author Archives: The Vegan Bear
The last few #TastyThursday and #ScrumptiousSunday posts have been centered around unripened green tomatoes, and today I wanted to bring one last amazing recipe using what many people find useless. How about some garlic dill pickled green tomatoes? For some reason I find that some folks are intimidated by doing home pickling – when there’s really not much effort in it! Home pickling is not only more tasty, but it’s incredibly cheap as well. When it comes to picking anything – the only limits are the lack of imagination!
If you’re anything like me, your taste buds do backflips for pickled veggies! The most tedious aspect to any pickling process is waiting, but who says you have to wait? This recipe (which you can use most anything other than green tomatoes) will give you ready to eat pickled green tomatoes in under an hour…or a few hours if you want them chilled.
- 12-18 green tomatoes (about 3 lbs)
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt
- 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
- 4 small cloves garlic
- 4 pint size canning jars
Prepare canning jars. Slice all the green tomatoes in half. Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in green tomatoes. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over green tomatoes to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space). Process for 15 minutes.
Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.
Tip: For more garlic flavor, add an extra clove! For a little kick, add some chilli peppers. We added jalapeño and banana peppers.
Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well
Last Wednesday our good friend, Casey surprised us with a pair of tickets to the pre-broadway engagement of The Velocity of Autumn, starring Academy Award winner, Estelle Parsons and two-time Tony Award winner, Stephen Spinella. Written by Eric Coble and directed by the all-amazing Molly Smith of Arena Stage, this play of two on-stage characters takes you into the aging and glowingly lonesome life of Alexandra and her gay son, Christopher.
The entire play takes place in Alexandra’s Brooklyn brownstone living room, filled with arsenal of molotov cocktails and a woman with her husband’s Zippo lighter who’s on the edge of blowing up the entire block in a painfully desperate attempt to stay in her home. Her estranged son, Christopher lives in New Mexico and returns to New York City, reluctantly becomes the family negotiator between his exhausted and seemingly volatile mother and his siblings. This beautiful play is a compelling story of what seems like a long-lost mother-son relationship, whom both have more in common than they realize. The audience are provided with the opportunity to witness the living room ping-pong match of extremely funny dialogue as well as deeply touching moments, as these mother and son characters re-discover their bond and love through unconventional ways.
The splendor of any good play, is being able to relate, sympathize, and empathize. In the ever-increasing velocity of a me world, do we pause in our life to think about the ins and outs of our relationships with our family members, especially those who are aging? When we seem to grow distant from family members (and long-time friends for that matter) through differences in our lives, beliefs, and understandings – do we embrace and nurture the bonds we once had to begin with, or do reconcile such distance, being that too much time has passed in placing little or any effort into trying to rebuild what once was?
I’ve often asked myself those same questions about the relationship between me and my 81 year-old grandmother. Though we weren’t entirely close when I was younger, there was still a profound bond between the both of us. As I grew up, we both became distant to a degree, and after father passed away – we re-connected our relationship and have continued to nurture it since then. Perhaps we needed each other the most as she began to grieve the loss of her first-born son and I began to grieve the loss of my father. In many ways we are alike, and in many more ways we are very different in “where we’ve been” and what we believe. Yet though the beauty and mystery of the family bond, we depend on each other in many special ways. I interpret that this is very similar for Alexandra and Christopher – though years of separation have passed, they have reached a point in their lives where they need and depend on each other.
The Velocity of Autumn is playing through October 20, 2013 at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s Kreeger Auditorium. If you’re a DC local, I highly recommend that you enjoy this great theatre production!
I can’t believe that tomorrow begins the month of October. The countdown to Halloween is officially here! For me, Halloween is such a fun season to use creativity and imagination with everything from costumes to food, decorations, and more. When most stores are overstocked with the same old, boring, commercial “Made in China” Halloween decor…using one’s creativity is essential.
Fortunately I have a fiancé who loves Halloween just as much as I do, maybe even a little more. Last week he came up with the brilliant idea of reusing some mason jars with some of our existing arsenal of craft supplies to make these adorably cute mason jar jack-o’-lanterns! So I wanted to share this with all of my readers so you can join in on the fun too! It really doesn’t get more easy to make and most of the supplies you probably already have.
- Mason jar
- Elmer’s glue
- Orange tissue paper
- Black construction paper
- Green ribbon
- Tealight candle
- Cut strips of orange tissue paper and lightly glue them vertically to the outside of your mason jar.
- With a pencil, draw eyes, a nose, and mouth on the black construction paper and cut them out. Great jack-o’-lantern face patterns are available for free downloaded on the internet if you need some added inspiration.
- Glue the face cutouts to the outside of the mason jar.
- Wrap the green ribbon around the mouth of the mason jar and tie a bow for extra cuteness. You could also add some crafty extras like fake vine, leaves, etc. if you like.
- Slightly fill the bottom of the mason jar with rice and put a lit tealight down in the center.
Voila! Now you have yourself a cute, little mason jar jack-o’-lantern!
You say tomato, I say tomahto…we both say delicious! This past #TastyThursday I mentioned our abundance of ripe and green tomatoes in our last harvest from the garden, and I said I would post some more delicious recipes using green tomatoes such as Green Tomato Bread recipe. Today I give you Fried Green Tomatoes!
There’s a debate about where fried green tomatoes actually originated from. Some say the South and others say the Midwest. When my German/Russian family immigrated to the United States, the majority of them settled in the Midwestern states…Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois. I grew up on many delicious dishes such as Fried Green Tomatoes, each recipe carrying with it a long story of where/who it originated from. Being that most American hadn’t even heard of the idea of battering such un-ripened fruit and frying it in a well seasoned cast iron skillet until the 1991 classic film, Fried Green Tomatoes, the Midwest theory really pans out. I also did some in-depth online reading, and I hate to burst the bubble of some, but Fried Green Tomatoes are by no means a Southern dish…the accurate debate is whether they’re originally Midwestern or Northeastern! But enough of about where they came from as we can all agree that they should be enjoyed by everyone!
For the Fried Green Tomatoes
- 6 – 8 firm green tomatoes
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 cups of almond or soy milk
- 2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 1 Tablespoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup canola oil
Slice green tomatoes to medium thickness and sprinkle lightly with salt, let stand for 5 minutes.
Prepare your dredging bowls: In the first bowl, add almond or soy milk. In a second bowl combine and mix all-purpose flour, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper. In a third bowl, add bread crumbs.
- Dip each green tomato slice in the almond or soy milk.
- Coat it in all-purpose flour mixture.
- Dip once again in the almond or soy milk.
- Coat in seasoned bread crumbs.
- Gently stack on a plate and set aside.
Heat oil in skillet on medium-high. To test, drop a tiny piece of bread crumb in oil. It should immediately crackle when ready.
With tongs gently place each dredged green tomato slice in hot oil. Be sure not overcrowd. Fry 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. When done, remove green tomatoes and gently place on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
- 3/4 cup Vegenaise®
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
Whisk all ingredients together with a fork in a small bowl. Drizzle over fried green tomatoes. For some added flare, sprinkle with artificial bacon bits!
Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well
This year we’ve been kissed by the tomato Gods! We’ve probably had over 250 ripened tomatoes from our garden and we just did our last harvest this week. Given that fall is making itself known – we had over 3 dozen green tomatoes which needed clipped as the days are already too short (lack of sun) and the nighttime temperatures have noticeably cooled to temperatures that tomato plants are not fond of.
There’s no need to fret over an abundance of green tomatoes though! Green tomatoes (which are not fully ripened) can be just a delicious as the bright red fruit, given that you know what to do with them. So don’t worry about paper bagging your green tomatoes or God forbid, throwing them out…as I will dedicate the next few #TastyThursday and #ScrumptiousSunday posts to some of our favorite recipes using green tomatoes. Today I give you: Green Tomato Bread! This delicious bread has the familiarity of zucchini or banana bread, with the unique and tasty cut from the high acidity of green tomatoes. Oh, and it’s easy! Bon Appétit!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup banana, purée
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Make a well in the center of mixture.
Combine the banana, oil, and vanilla; stir well. Add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in the tomatoes and pecans.
Spoon the batter into 2 greased and floured 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack. Enjoy!
Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well
Who loves piggies? I do! Who doesn’t love piggies? Not that I hold one animal greater (or more cute) than another, but pigs played an instrumental part in my conversion to a vegan lifestyle. Pigs are often times mistaken as being dirty, mud loving animals – but they’re so much more than the common myths and misconceptions. They’re incredibly smart, remarkably clean, and more like you and I than we realize! Once you fall in love with pigs, there’s no turning back. So I wanted to dedicate an entire special post solely to pigs: because they truly deserve it! Here’s the Top Ten Fascinating Facts About Pigs written by the folks at PETA. Oink! Oink!
- Pigs snuggle close to one another and prefer to sleep nose to nose. They dream, much as humans do. In their natural surroundings, pigs spend hours playing, sunbathing, and exploring. People who run animal sanctuaries for farmed animals often report that pigs, like humans, enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages.
- Pigs communicate constantly with one another; more than 20 vocalizations have been identified that pigs use in different situations, from wooing mates to saying, “I’m hungry!”
- Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers’ voices and to recognize their own names. Mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.
- According to Professor Donald Broom of the Cambridge University Veterinary School, “[Pigs] have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than human] 3-year-olds.”
- Pigs appear to have a good sense of direction and have found their way home over great distances. Adult pigs can run at speeds of up to 11 miles an hour.
- Professor Stanley Curtis of Penn State University has found that pigs can play joystick-controlled video games and are “capable of abstract representation.” Dr. Curtis believes that “there is much more going on in terms of thinking and observing by these pigs than we would ever have guessed.”
- Pigs do not “eat like pigs” or “pig out.” They prefer to eat slowly and savor their food.
- Suzanne Held, who studies the cognitive abilities of farmed animals at the University of Bristol’s Centre of Behavioural Biology, says that pigs are “really good at remembering where food is located, because in their natural environment food is patchily distributed and it pays to revisit profitable food patches.”
- Pigs are clean animals. If given sufficient space, they will be careful not to soil the area where they sleep or eat. Pigs don’t “sweat like pigs”; they are actually unable to sweat. They like to bathe in water or mud to keep cool, and they actually prefer water to mud. One woman developed a shower for her pigs, and they learned to turn it on and off by themselves.
- In his book The Whole Hog, biologist and Johannesburg Zoo director Lyall Watson writes, “I know of no other animals [who] are more consistently curious, more willing to explore new experiences, more ready to meet the world with open mouthed enthusiasm. Pigs, I have discovered, are incurable optimists and get a big kick out of just being.”
It has been so exciting to receive so much encouragement and feedback in such a short time since I launched The Vegan Bear! My passion for the vegan lifestyle, the eagerness in learning to write decently as an amateur, and each and every one of you who follow me make this blog so much fun! One of the most popular requests I’ve received since I started is for more recipes, so your wish is my command! I will now start posting recipes on Thursdays and Sundays. My #TastyThursday posts will be recipes for pretty much everything – salads, sandwiches, main dishes, sides, and desserts. My new #ScrumptiousSunday posts will be solely dedicated to those recipes that are so proper for Sundays cooking. These are dishes, desserts, and meals that might mimic a popular and traditional dish that many of us grew up with (vegan, of course), or a recipe that is so scrumptious, hearty, and carries the worthiness of being a Sunday best.
I hereby christen #ScrumptiousSunday with one of my all-time favorite recipes: Sister Kitsiyah’s Macaroni & “Cheese”! This is one of the most popular dishes at Everlasting Life Cafe (soon to be Woodland’s Vegan Bistro). For those of you who don’t already know, this is absolutely my favorite place to eat in the entire Washington, DC area. This award-winning restaurant and their food truck offer the perfect variety of 100% vegan, gluten-free soul food. Yes…vegan soul food! Sister Kitsiyah, is a health food nutritionist who studied vegan cooking in Israel with the African Hebrew Israelite Community. This recipe for macaroni and cheese is from her Food for Life Cookbook. Many of my non-vegan friends even assert that this Macaroni & “Cheese” recipe is top-notch and some even say its better than their grandmother’s! The only thing better than its satisyfing taste is the easiness in making it. Once you make your first batch, be sure to leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think!
- 16 oz. bag/box of elbow macaroni
- ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons of Spike seasoning
- 1 ½ cups soy milk
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¾ cup canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the pasta as directed. In a blender or food processor, blend the nutritional yeast, Spike seasoning, soy milk, garlic and paprika. Slowly pour the oil in the food processor while it is running. The mixture should be creamy, as this will be the “cheese” sauce.
Strain the pasta and run cold water over it. Be sure to shake all of the excess water out of the pasta. Put the pasta back in the pot and mix it with about 1 cup of the “cheese” sauce. Put the cheesy noodles in an oven casserole dish (I use a 7 ½ x 12 inch casserole dish). Pour the remaining cheese evenly over the noodles.
Sprinkle with paprika and cook in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 30 minutes before serving. May your Sunday be scrumptious and cheesy…in all the good (vegan) ways. Enjoy!
This is one of many delicious recipes from one of my favorite vegan recipe books, Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites. What I love some much about this recipe is that it’s completely versatile. Serve it with some marmalade for an amazing brunch or enjoy it warm after dinner with a generous scoop of your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream.
The name “Cinnamon Swirl Bread” is a little deceiving as this is more like a sticky, gooey, old-fashioned cinnamon roll…which is probably why I like it so much! So be sure to serve it with a fork, and try it with raisins and/or nuts for some added awesomeness!
For the Dough
- 1 cup soymilk, heated to lukewarm
- 1/4 cup water, heated to lukewarm
- 1/3 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Swirl
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoons nondairy butter, melted
To Make the Dough
In a large bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, remaining sugar, and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until combined.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pliable, adding more flour as needed if the dough is too sticky. This is a dry, stiff dough, but it should still be workable.
Lightly coat a large bowl with the remaining 1/2 tsp oil. Place the dough in the bowl and gently turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 60 to 90 minutes.
To Make the Swirl
Gently deflate the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes.
Roll the dough into a rectangle 8 inches wide by 24″ long. Spread the cinnamon paste thinly and evenly onto the dough. Starting at the short end, tightly roll up the dough. Cut into 2 separate loaves. Place the rolled-up dough, seam side down, into an 8×4 inch loaf pan. Let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the outer crust is golden brown and hard to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Alternative: press down 1/2 cup raisins and/or 1/2 cup chopped pecans into the rolled out dough.