Friday, February 29, 2008

My first sourdough bread!

I'm sorry I've been neglecting this blog. Sometimes life gets in the way, and sometimes I'm just lazy about updating. I've started a new job, which I really like. I still cook on a regular basis, but sometimes I just don't feel like taking a picture. Also, we have several favorite meals, and there doesn't seem to be much point in blogging about a recipe I've already featured on here before.

Until recently (read: when I made these loaves), I'd never had sourdough bread. My boyfriend kept raving about it, though, and when we found some dry sourdough starter when we are at the new Whole Foods in Nashville, he begged me to make it. It took me awhile to get around to it, but I finally did. Truthfully, I didn't get successful bread until the second try. Ideally, the starter should be doing its thing at around 80-90 degrees. The instructions that came with mine said that if it was too cold in your home, to put it in an oven with only the oven light on. I'm sure that would work just fine, except my oven is old and does not have such a light (but oh what I wouldn't give to have an oven that had one!). As such, it took my starter longer than the instructions suggested it would to actually be viable. In my sourdough ignorance, I tried to use it before it was ready and man was that dough tough. And it didn't rise; not one bit. So I threw it out, waited several days (and a couple of more feedings) and actually got my dough to rise. Woohoo! I'm told the sour flavor will grow stronger over time, but my first (okay, technically second) attempt was certainly not bad. And now that I've got the starter going, my boyfriend says he wants to try making the next loaf.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Rare Salad

I don't eat a lot of salad. I don't know why, as I like it just fine. Sometimes I get salads at restaurants, but rarely ever do I make them at home. I've been eyeing the Caesar salad recipe in Veganomicon, though, and I finally got around to making it today. The only other time I've tried capers (which are in the salad dressing), I didn't like them. It wasn't just a mild dislike, either. I found them completely unappetizing. Nevertheless, I got it in my mind that I wanted to try this recipe. I have no idea whether or not I still dislike capers on their own, but I loved this salad dressing. I never ate Caesar salad before going vegan, so the only thing I have to compare this to is the vegan Caesar dressing at a local restaurant called Sunspot. It's been awhile since I had that stuff, but I think I like this recipe better. It's creamy and tangy and, well...just plain good.
I made the roasted garlic croutons per the Veganomicon recipe as well, but I used cracked wheat bread. I was going to buy French or Italian bread when I went grocery shopping, but all the stuff that Earth Fare had, which they supposedly baked in-house, contained L-cysteine. Seriously, Earth Fare.....what gives? Is that really a necessary ingredient? (Hint: the answer is no.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Indian Yumminess

I'm fairly certain that there isn't much you can do to potatoes to make me not like them. Even so, these Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Veganomicon still rank very high on my list of favorite ways to eat potatoes. And as a bonus, they're not nearly as bad for you as a baked potato loaded with Earth Balance and Tofutti sour cream.

To go with the potatoes, I made Red Lentil-Cauliflower Curry, also from Veganomicon. I am so glad that we have discovered a love of cauliflower. This recipe made a ton, but that's okay because it was delicious and we enjoyed eating the leftovers. I didn't serve it with any rice at first, since we had the potatoes alongside it, but once we ran out of potatoes, I made Saffron-Garlic Rice (yet another Veganomicon recipe) to go with it. Garlic is pretty much one of our favorite things ever, and we can't get enough of that rice recipe. I used to love those Near East rice pilaf mixes, but they are horribly high in sodium, so I never felt very good about eating them. I now found a yummier replacement, and it's less expensive to boot.

Clearly this is not part of the Indian meal, but this is the Skillet Corn Bread from Veganomicon, which I served with chili. I was intrigued by the jalapeño-onion variation, but it calls for putting cooked jalapeños and onions on top of the cornbread mixture. I like my jalapeños mixed into the batter, so that is what I did. This was my first time making skillet cornbread. My boyfriend had an old large cast-iron skillet that I never used because he had cooked meat in it. We got a wire brush attachment for our drill and removed the old seasoning so that I could re-season it and use it for vegan stuff. I guess I did a decent job of seasoning it, because the cornbread didn't stick at all. Yay! I love my "new" skillet. It sure is heavy, though. The skillet cornbread turned out great, even though I strayed from the recipe a bit. I was running a little low on plain soymilk, so I made up the difference with some plain soy yogurt. I'm always playing with new cornbread recipes, but I think I'll be sticking with this one now.