Happy Diwali!

diya

Happy Diwali from KayleensVeganKitchen!

P.S. I don’t know why it says October 27th on my post, it is still the 26th where I live!

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Chickpea Salad Sandwiches For a Crowd

Yesterday I went to downtown Vancouver to explore Occupy Vancouver and see if I could feed a few people with Food Not Bombs.

Liberating

The Occupy Movement is hard to define; I think it started with people being upset over the bank bailouts and now has morphed into Everything. It reminds me of that scene in the movie Network where everyone is shouting “I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it anymore!”. People worldwide are looking around and seeing their tax dollars going to wars and banks instead of to education, food security, and healthcare. I showed up because I want the world to be a better place, and I think many other people do, too.

I think everyone has something to contribute. I’m a decent cook and I love to feed people, and I think I can best promote the compassionate lifestyle of veganism by being an example of a happy healthy vegan who shares good food, so naturally I felt drawn to the Food Not Bombs tent.

Food Not Bombs

Food Not Bombs is a worldwide network of people devoted to feeding others. We think that there is enough food, money, and resources on this planet to make sure that not one person has to be a victim of food insecurity, malnourishment, famine; but those resources are mis-allocated by corrupt governments and corporations. Resources that could go towards feeding and caring for people are instead going towards funding weapons and wars. So Food Not Bombs promotes peacefulness, vegetarianism, and, of course, feeding people.

chickpea salad sandwhiches

These are the chickpea salad sandwiches that I brought to contribute to yesterday’s lunch meal.

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches For a Crowd

2 to 3 loaves of bread, sliced thinly
1 head of lettuce, torn
Margarine

2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed well, and coarsely mashed
1 can of hummus OR 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed well and pureed smoothly
1/3 cup of vegan mayo (I used nayonaisse)
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup pickle relish
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 stalk of celery, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 bunch (5 or 6) green onions, chopped finely
2 tbsp of finely chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt, pepper, and paprika

After rinsing the chickpeas and mashing them with a potato masher until they are mostly mashed (some half-beans and whole beans left are okay, they’ll add texture!), mix in all of the other ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. If it needs a little somethin’, try a bit of fresh lemon juice or use some dijon mustard. The flavour will improve on standing.

Lay out an even number of bread slices (I put down 8 slices at at time.) Spread half with margarine. Put a piece of lettuce on each slice of maragarined bread. Take the plain bread slices, spread with the chickpea mixture, then use those to top the slice with the margarine and lettuce. Cut into halves or quarters.

This makes about 72 sandwich halves and probably fed around 30 people.

I also want to share with you something amazing I discovered at Food Not Bombs yesterday;

Blackberry jam and pumpkin seed butter

Blackberry jam and pumpkin seed butter. Try it.

Easy Jambalaya

Oh the woes of a food blogger! Several times recently, I have made meals that have not only been delicious, but also pretty, and each time they get eaten before I manage to snap some photos. I’ll try harder to be more conscientious of that, since I think looking at photos is half the fun of reading a food blog.

In the meantime, though, here is a “recipe” to go with some photos I did manage to take! I warn you, though, this dish isn’t for people who avoid MSG. The main ingredient is none other than a pre-packaged rice mix.

I know, that’s cheating, right? But I want to share what I do when I’m short on time and energy and just want a quick meal of something hearty and delicious.

Easy Jambalaya

First thing I do is acquire some instant jambalaya mix (Hey, I warned you this recipe was cheating.)

I cheated and used a mix

Surprising fact; several (maybe most?) of the Zatarain’s mixes are vegan. So even though the box directs you to add a ton of meat to the mix, just ignore it and replace the meat with whatever you please.

I typically add 2 – 4 cups of mixed vegetables, and up to a pound of a protein; beans, tofu, mock chicken, and TVP all work well in this dish.

Here I am cooking some home-made seitan; I wanted to sear it first but when it started to stick I had to add some water to the pot.

Cooking seitan cubes

Then I add vegetables.

Mise en place

Here I have mushrooms, celery, garlic, carrot, red bell pepper, onion, and cabbage. I could have easily doubled the amount of vegeteables here; green bell peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapeno, zucchini, broccoli, leafy greens; nearly anything would be a good addition. Just remember to add tender leaves like spinach right at the end.

Then I just add the rice and seasoning and cook as per the package direction.

Easy Jambalaya

Easy peasy.

Apple sauce

When I stepped outside after work this morning, the first thing I noticed was the chill that seemed to cut right through my coat. The second thing I noticed was the steam of my breath lingering in the air. As I walked to the bus stop, all I could think about was how I needed a nice hot bowl of something to warm up my body and soul. So I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and picked up ingredients for soup. Oh, and I bought apples. Lots of apples.

I haven’t made the soup yet, but I did make this:

Apple sauce

Lovely and delicious apple sauce. I used McIntosh apples which are well known for cooking down into a soft mush – not quite the thing for pies but absolutely perfect if you want to make a sauce.

Apple Sauce

6 McIntosh apples
1 – 2 cups of water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar, optional

Cut the apples into quarters and remove their cores. Place the apples into a pot with a cup or so of water. Turn the heat to high, and as soon as the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and place a lid on the pot. Simmer the apples until they break down completely, stirring often. As the apples break down and become more saucelike, they may sputter as they simmer – try to stand back and use a long handled spoon to stir them so that you avoid being splashed with scalding applesauce*. When the apples have cooked down completely, strain out the skins and any pulpy bits remaining by passing the sauce through a food mill or using a spoon to push it through a seive. Discard the skins and return the sauce to the pot, seasoning with the sugar and cinnamon to taste. Enjoy warm or cold!

By the end of the cooking time, the lid was doing double-duty for me as a shield.

Happy thanksgiving!

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. Jess and I will be celebrating at the home of her friend and classmate Lucretia, along with Jess’ other classmates. I think it’ll be a bittersweet Thanksgiving for most of us; Jess and I have our families across the country in Ontario, and Jess’ classmates are all from way up north. Even though we can’t be with our families, we can at least be with each other, celebrating our hodgepodge of traditions and delicious foods.

I was hard at work all day yesterday, cooking up a ton of dishes to bring to the dinner. I was too busy to get any photographs of the cooking in progress (Just imagine a kitchen with a whirlwind blowing through it), but I’ll share with you my menu. It’ll be a dinner of omnivores – plus me, the lone vegan – so Lu is making a turkey, plus I hear she is doing roasted potatoes and bannock. Meanwhile, I’m bringing;

Jamaican Patties (recipe to come!)
FatFreeVegan’s Green Bean Casserole
Glazed Fall Vegetables
Stuffing
Vegan butter tarts

I’ve also got an apple pie and a cranberry apple pie (family recipes) and I’m bringing along a few cans of creamed corn and mushroom gravy (just in case – although I’m sure there will be more than enough food!)

I’m thankful for a lot of things today; a loving partner, a good job, and a fridge full of good food. What are you thankful for?

Tutti Frutti Cookies

Tutti-frutti Cookies

Back when I was surfing the net, trying to find uses for my giant can of custard powder, I happened upon a bunch of lovely Indian cooking blogs. It seems that there are a lot of varieties of custard powder over there and they make their way into all sorts of baked goods, such as cookies and cakes. Another ingredient that kept showing up on the Indian cooking blogs was a mysterious one called tutti frutti.

I think I first saw tutti frutti as an ingredient sprinkled liberally on top of a loaf cake. The name “tutti frutti” made me think at first that it must be a brand of candy, and it was so colourful it did look a little like it could have been finely chopped gumdrops. But when it started to show up in fruitcake recipes, I thought that tutti frutti must be glace fruit, those little colourful bits of cherries and citron peels that sometimes make their way into North American baking.

I was wrong on both counts. Tutti frutti, it turns out, is dried papaya.

I’ve never baked with dried papaya before. My only previous experience with it was as the tiny bits of ultra-sweet papaya that are sometimes found in trail mixes. I remember loving it but only in small amounts since it was too sweet even for my taste buds – which is saying a lot, since generally I have the sugar threshold of a five year old.

I went to the Indian grocery store in my neighbourhood in search of tutti frutti, but was unable to find any at all. Chinese grocery store to the rescue:

Papaya

Not one, but two brands of dried papaya. I bought both, since each was a different colour and the multi-colours of tutti frutti appealed to me. I was going to make tutti frutti myself!

Papaya chunks

The orange papaya slices on the left are the Dan-D-Pak brand, and the yellow chunks are the R&M brand. The main differences seem to be that the Dan-D-Pak papaya have food colours and sulphur ingredients added, which some of the health foodies may be averse to. But I’ll eat pretty much anything if it isn’t an animal, so I tasted both to see if I could determine any other differences.

I was surprised by how mild both brands of papaya tasted. Neither were as sweet as the type I used to get. I was also surprised by how much softer the R&M papaya was than the Dan-D-Pak – I thought the chunks would be chewier, but they were soft and easy to slice with a knife. The Dan-D-Pak papaya was chewy, though, and kept sticking to my knife as I tried to dice it.

But I managed:

Papaya bits

Mixed papaya bits

Now that I had my “tutti frutti”, it was time to bake something. I had the perfect thing in mind, too. Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookies from SailusFoods. I altered the recipe just a little.

Tutti Frutti Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup custard powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup liquid (water or soymilk, etc)

Chopped bits of papaya or other dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix into dough. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more liquid. If the dough is too soft, chill it for a bit. Using hands, form the cookies by rolling between the hands and flattening slightly.

Garnish with the dried fruit; I brushed the cookies with almond milk first to help the fruit stick better.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Nom happily.

Yielded 24 small cookies

Tutti-frutti Cookies

Vancouver Vegan Prom

Ahhhh prom. I didn’t go to mine, but I remember my juniour semi-formal dance very well; a magical night in a crepe-paper-covered gymnasium, awkwardly slow-dancing to Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin in my poofiest skirt with my dear friend Patrick, who was my boyfriend back in the day. I remember the sweet little corsage he bought me, and how afterwards we went to a playground to take photos, even though it was night-time and everything was covered in snow.

Imagine re-living those sorts memories, but minus the high school cliques and plus a whole bunch of delicious vegan food. And imagine being able to wear whatever you want and dance however you want, without parents and Catholic school teachers to tell you any differently.

Stop imagining! If you’re in British Columbia and are free on November 5th, you need to get yourself to the Vancouver Vegan Prom. Tickets are on sale now at Nice Shoes in East Vancouver and Karmavore in New Westminster, 15$ each. (Cash only).

Dinner from Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy

The other day at the library, I picked up The Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy by Afya Ibomu. Today I finally got a chance to look through it, and was pleasantly surprised. Afya includes a lot of information, such as nutrition information, some history of soulfood, and information about the ingredients used in the book. I loved and appreciated the pages with the color photographs of the ingredients – if you’ve ever caught yourself at the grocery store scratching your head and wondering which squash is the kabocha squash, you’ll find this section immensely helpful.

I chose three recipes to make for dinner tonight, and these choices were of course entirely dependant on what I had available in my kitchen:

Mashem Up potatoes from page 121
B-sprouts from page 114
Savory Sauxsage Seitan from page 99

I also fried some mushrooms to serve them with.

Dinner from Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy

As you can see, dinner was awesome.

I only made a handful of changes here and there; I didn’t have fennel seeds for the seitan or celery for the broth, and I left out the seaweed. Instead, I added some poultry seasoning and bay leaves.

The Brussels sprouts I made more or less according to recipe, but ommitted the powdered garlic – I didn’t see the need for it when there are already 5 cloves of fresh garlic in the recipe. I think I may have finally found a person on the planet who likes garlic more than I do!

The mashed potatos were pretty close to what I already do with my mashed potatos. I left the red potato skins on and added a bit of parsley.

I’m happy with tonight’s dinner and looking forward to trying more of Afya’s lovely recipes.

Custard Powder Snack Cake

Custard powder snack cake

By now you may have figured out that I have quite a sweet tooth. I also have a huge can of Bird’s Custard Powder in my pantry, and when I spotted the recipe for Eggless Custard Powder Snack Cake over at Easy Cooking: Divya’s Cookbook Blog, I knew I had found the perfect thing to do with it. Divya, by the way, found the recipe at Aparna’s Blog, My Diverse Kitchen. This cake is making the rounds.

Custard powder snack cake

Now, I tend to think that custard powder is a very under-utilised ingredient in North American baking. And perhaps it is with good reason; all it is is a mixture of cornstarch, salt, food colouring, and perhaps some artificial flavouring. It might not sound very exciting and perhaps you could just add those ingredients separately to your baked goods, but I find the flavour to be unique and I am in love with the colour-change magic that happens when you use custard powder; you take the white powder, stir in some liquid, and boom! Sunny bright yellow happiness.

In fact, I wish I had better lighting and a better camera, or at least some better photoshop skills, so that I could share with you just how vibrant this cake really is.

Custard powder snack cake

Imagine this is bright yellow. And in focus.

Anyhow, if the thought of using custard powder squicks you out (or if you simply can’t find it, wherever you are), simply replace it with cornstarch and add a dash more vanilla. You’ll have a white cake, but I suppose you could dump in some food colouring if you really wanted to.

I cut the recipe in half to make a petit little 6-inch round by 2 inch high cake, which is the perfect size for two or three people who just want a snack. I also tweaked it a little bit for my vegan sweet tooth tastes. Check out the full size recipe at the other blogs if you’d rather feed more people and/or have leftovers.

Custard Powder Snack Cake

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp of custard powder (vanilla or “original” flavour)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 grams of Earth Balance or another hard vegan margarine (or I guess butter, if you swing that way), melted
1 cup of soymilk, with 1/2 tsp vinegar mixed in to thicken it
1/2 cup of sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 6 inch wide cake pan.
Mix all of the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet igredients in another. Combine the two and stir until just mixed, then pour into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer poked into the cake comes out clean. This took 30 minutes for me, but may take longer if you use the full-size recipe.

Cool on a rack. Serve. Be happy.

Custard powder snack cake

Gumdrop Cookies

I baked another batch of cookies last night.

I know, I know, I just baked cookies, but those peanut butter cookies were such a disaster that I had to make up for it by baking something actually delicious. I had the perfect recipe in mind, too.

I was surfing the Internet when I happened to stumble onto Hungry Happenings’ recipe for gumdrop cookies. They looked so bright and cheerful, in a retro sort of way; like something maybe my grandmother would have baked for a church bazaar once upon a time.

Gumdrop Cookies

Thanks to these cookies, I learned a lot about candy over the last day or so. I bought a bag of jujubes at the grocery store, and only thought to google “gumdrops” AFTER I got home with my groceries. That’s where I learned that apparently gumdrops and jujubes are not quite the same thing, but that they are fairly close. Actually, it might be that the only difference is that gumdrops tend to be coated in sugar, but jujubes generally aren’t.

Either way, both gumdrops and jujubes are chewy candies which may be soft or quite firm, and they are typically fruit flavoured, although they can also come in licorice, spearmint, and cinnamon flavours. Apparently in the USA, it is possible to get a gumdrop variant called a spicedrop, and these come in flavours like cardamom, cloves, and ginger. They’d be a good addition to a fruitcake or a gingerbread. The other thing I learned is that Jujubes in the USA refer to one specific brand of candy. Here in Canada, a jujube is pretty much any gummy fruity candy.

Vegetarians and vegans, take note; these candies may contain ingredients like gelatin (connective tissue), or food colourings such as carmine and cochineal (red insects, both!) Take care to check ingredient labels and hopefully you can find a candy made with pectin (fruit) or carnauba wax (palm tree).

All right, on with the recipe!

Gumdrop Cookies

Gumdrop Cookies

8 oz of gumdrop/jujube/fruit slice candy
1/4 cup of sugar to coat the candy, plus 3/4 cup for the dough
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer Powder
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of vegan margarine (I used half Earth Balance and half Becel Vegan)
Enough water to make a smooth dough, about ¼ cup

Pre-heat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

Measure 1/4 cup of sugar into a bowl. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut the candy into pieces, and mix the candy pieces in with the sugar to keep them from sticking too much to one another.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, egg replacer powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix in half of the gumdrop candies, along with any sugar in the bottom of the gumdrop bowl.

Measure the 3/4 cup of sugar, the margarine, the vanilla, and half of the water into another bowl. Mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture, and continue to stir or mix with the hands until smooth, adding the rest of the water if necessary to get a smooth dough.

The cookies won’t spread out well in the oven, so roll the dough into small balls and then press them down with the palm of your hand until they are as flat as you like them. Use the remaining gumdrops to fill in any bare spots on top of the cookies.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until very light brown on the bottom.

Makes 24 cookies.

Veganised and adapted from Hungry Happenings. Go take a look at her blog more information about these cookies and for some very lovely photographs! She has great ideas for decorating them, flattening them, and storing them.