03 May 2007

The Gypsies Have Returned

Yep, it's just that damn good that's why they're back. Every time I make this it has some different veggies in it. Yum. It's one of the most "interestingly simple" soups I've ever made/tasted... Gypsy Soup.

But the real honest reason I am posting about this and not wonderful baked goods like cookies, cakes and everything else that gets baked in an oven (I still don't broil), is because I am procrastinating... This early-mid part of May is just crazy busy for me and I am just not uploading all my new pics for the new posts. I will for sure be blogging about baked goods towards the end of May. For now, I hope you don't mind seeing this soup again, especially that many of the veggies in it aren't in season anymore, oops. We've hit the 100 degree mark already a few times here but maybe some of you won't mind seeing this instead of a smoothie.

Speaking of smoothies, I have to announce my new all time favorite concoction. Of course it features blueberries, but I also add 1/2 soymilk and 1/2 lite coconut milk as my liquid instead of just soy. It's the combo of the blueberries and coconuts that just can't stop me from making it! Also in my smoothies, as per usual is flax oil and shelled hemp seeds, all organic of course. I now keep canned organic (lite and regular) coconut milk in my pantry. I only like coconut with sweet things, not spicy stuff like curries. Anyway...

Featured here (of what I can remember) is sweet potato/yam, purple potato, green bell pepper, chickpeas and white beans, among the rest of the ingredients. I think I up the spices each time I make this, I keep loading more and more... Did I mention before how much I love the hint of cinnamon that shines through? I love how it almost "sweetens" it, but not really. Oh yum, this soup freezes well to me, but others have claimed not so well. It's up to you to determine.

The recipe is on my Eat Peace Please Recipes page (eatpeacepleaserecipes.blogspot.com). I'll be back 'round soon.

21 April 2007

Lazy Rice Noodle Tofu Stir-Fry

I am posting this to tide you all over (and myself) while I upload my huge backlog of photos to share with you all. For now, here is some more un-baked goodness I've had sitting as a draft for a long while. A simple, quick, standby for a lazy night. I got some baby bok choy at the co-op (now you have reference to when I made this since the co-op's been gone since late Feb) and knew it had to be thrown into a stir-fry. I love how the greens not offer nutrition and color, it also adds a nice combo of textures, both silky smooth from the leafys and that nice little crunch from the stems. And I love how cute and little they are, especially as you peel down...

I can't remember exactly what is in this, but I do advise you to follow the recipe for the sauce on my recipes page, the "Best Spicy Stir-fry" one. Now if you are super-lazy like I was that night, most of your ingrdients should be pre-cut in bags (organic of course) in the freezer. I simply cut the tofu earlier in the day and marinated it in the sauce until I was ready to cook. If you are super lazy, skip the marinated step altogether. Now that the tofu is ready to go, pull out your ingredients. I first start with taking out a pot and boiling the rice noodles. You don't have to start with this since they are so quick, you can actually end with this step, but I like to know they are done and I just let them sit while I'm cooking. Plus, rice noodles are made in a matter of three or four minutes, rather than almost an hour like grain rice, hence the laziness...

Back to the ingredients... In my case, the only necessary chopping/cutting was half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, carrots (you can see I cut them lazy-large) and the baby bok choy. The rest is simple, just pull out whatever you have suitable in the freezer and dump in in a heated wok with olive oil. I like to keep tri-colored bell peppers in the freezer especially for times when organic bells are $6 a pound fresh! I also keep edamame (a great snack) and cashews of course. Dump it all in the wok and heat on high or med-high until everything is nice and browned and steaming hot. Pour it over the noodles and consume.
This looks a lot "blander" and beige than it really is... the spicy sauce really ties it all together, you just can't really see it. There you have it, a lazy stir-fry. I will post more drool-worthy stuff soon, stay tuned.

11 April 2007

Long Time Gone

Just like the CSNY lyrics ("it's been a long time comin', its goin' to be a long time gone"), although I don't plan on being gone-gone for this long again. I'm sorry I was away for as long as I was, it was unintentional but a good break. I don't know where to start... it's been so long.

I think I'll start with telling you all how wonderful, thoughtful, caring, and meaningful you are to me. And that I am sorry for being gone so long. I have received a slew of comments for the longest time now, from people who are my friends to bloggers I don't even "know". All of your notes, emails, pop-in's, and pressure, each one has made me smile (or feel bad and guilty, but still!) and I am reminded how many amazing, kindred people read my blog and care so much! Thank you all... And please do know, people on my links among others, I am always reading your blogs and I enjoy them all so much. I have not been completely gone, just very very quiet...

It's been a long time since I've posted and I have a lot of "news" that's not new anymore. First off, I owe you all photos since Thanksgiving. Geez! Well, it hasn't been *that* long but I do have my thanksgiving feast to share before the next one comes again. At this rate, I really better get to it... I have had a lot going on, been busy, been lazy, and have had some serious personal revelations/changes lately... more on that later on (later as in a few weeks). I also had a birthday come and go. Oh, and I started running (rather than no exercise at all) and it feels really good on many levels. Killian is just as fat (and cute) as ever but he did bite me again. I was really hurt from it but turns out he had a bladder infection, among other things. We're both ok now, I think.

Let's get back onto the food. I have some serious news here people. If for whatever reason you aren't sitting down, please do so right now... Take a moment... ok... Guess what?!!?

Keep guessing...

I baked. Yes! I freakin' baked again (yay)! Some of you already know and thank you for keeping my "secret". While all of this excitement is going through your head, please know that I am also sorry for not sharing with you earlier... I almost feel sneaky... I've been baking since December 11th, 2006 again! But it's great, I just went for it that day and all was well. I started with Dreena's Homestyle Chocolate Chip cookies because, how could I not?! I've heard so much about them, a fellow blogger sent me some of her homemade ones (thanks Jody!) and now I have my own. Plus, I love anything by Dreena. Here you see them modified with macadamia nuts (when they were 35% off at the co-op). I started baking before the holidays, through the holidays, and I just couldn't stop until about a month after the holidays! They're the best cookies ever. I ate sooo many cookies in a 6 week span. Hence the running...

Speaking of the co-op, I have some very sad news. As of late February, Gentle Strength Co-op (Tempe, AZ) closed it's doors. And they just moved in November... there weren't enough investors and to be honest, this city is really changing fast (daily, before my eyes) and many like-minded co-op people have moved up and on. I'm sad by these facts, but there will be "something" I hear... for now the only 2 CSAs (lame) are not taking new members, WF raised its prices ridiculously and changed certain distributors and I've always had produce issues with them anyway, and I really need to get my ass to some farmers markets (besides The Farm at South Mountain, which is still good enough for me) because I'm super sad I can't easily obtain local organic produce. But this also puts it in perspective for me how fortunate I was (and am) for being able to just go to the co-op whenever I wanted, purchased local organics for good prices. Those days are over but I have a lot of good memories... and I'm sad I can't get Wildwood chocolate milk (or any of their milks), bulk organic hempseeds, ricemellow, the best tasting organic fair trade oily coffee beans in the world, local greens from Matt's house, prepared organic vegan deli foods, personal care items, avocados, and a few other novelties only my precious co-op had. I am constantly saddened by the closing of this, but it is really also a slap in the face as to how much this place is changing (as if I haven't noticed already)... I am going to take my cooler and go down to Tucson one day soon and shop at their co-op... I ideally want to go to New Frontiers or the co-op in Flag but it's a bit of a longer drive (but prettier) so I will save that for sometime in May and I can go camping woo hoo! Ok, enough ranting, onto the photos...

Featured above: Vive le Vegan (Dreena's) Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies with added macadamia nut flare. Look at these fluffy babies! Yum.
More cookies... flatter cookies, but good cookies. With walnuts. I managed to only stick with the homestyle cookies of Dreena's. They are the best ever and can be modified with any additional flare. I swear I can't make any other kind of cookie... And back there you see my lovely (old and gone) co-op purchases, precious avocado (for a good price and USA) and bulk organic maple syrup. I'm soooo sad I can't get either of these anymore.
Looks like I gave in and bought WF maple syrup. Totally not the same (and my wallet knows that too). These are more of Dreena's cookies... who knows what I put in them this time. Sorry for so many [boring] cookie photos. I'm sure it's all old-hat to a lot of you but for me not having homemade cookies straight out of the oven for over a year was pretty rough! So, just be thankful I only posted these, as I took tons of the same sorts of cookie photos.
More of Dreena's cookies... This time just being lazy and dumped all the batter into this 8" pie pan. Yum. With ice cream it is even better (duh). Ok, I promise to show more than just these same types of cookies. I have so many baked goods to show you. One of my all time favorites is Kris' (squirrels vegan kitchen) Boston Cream Pie. I made it twice in a week! Stay tuned.

Again, thanks to all of you awesome bloggers for your support, kind words, advice and pop-ins. I appreciate it so much. I promise to get back to normal blogging sometime in the near future, for now things are pretty up in the air. Thanks for still reading my blog, even if it was a long time gone...

18 February 2007

Eat Peace Please Recipe Collection

So, I did the dirty work and managed to compile a years worth of my "new" recipes along with corresponding photos.

You can get to this page from my "about me" page, or you can simply follow the link.


I will try to be good and update frequently.

Note: These are only my own recipes. I adapt many from cookbooks, but these are either 1, completely my own, or 2, completely adapted.

I hope you all find this useful (I even have had to google my own recipes). Oh, and they are all labeled accordingly.

31 January 2007

Behind the Apron

Welcome to Behind the Apron, presented here by me, Leslie. "Behind the Apron", was created by Fiber at 28 Cooks and is a compilation of bloggers faces, not just photos of our food. This photo of me was taken 1 mile away from the Grand Canyon (the South Rim).

A bit about me: I'm almost 26 years old, I was born and raised in Chicago and moved to Arizona when I was 18. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition (slash Food Service Management) from Arizona State University in 2005 and I love food, cooking and food science. Oh, and eating too. I care passionately about my impact on the world, hence my vegan diet and just my ways of life. I love animals, and all things and people of good nature. I enjoy music, particularly live music, and more specifically jazz/funk and music from around the world (like African drums and music from India). My favorite color is brown, but I don't have a lot of favorites. I like the simple things in life, yet complexity fascinates me too. Oh, and since you can't tell from the photos (unless you know me in real life), I'm barely 5 feet tall.
The photo above is at a music festival selling jewelry and organic aromatherapy pillows, all designed and handcrafted by me. I would love to learn how to crochet/knit one day soon.

And here you have my super cuteness below, Killian. What a guy! Killian is about 4 1/2 years old and about 16 pounds. He is the ultimate fatness and here he is, as per usual, hangin out in bed all day. There you have it... a bit about me.

05 January 2007

Back on the Blog Wagon

I'm here. I'm alive. I'm just being a terrible blogger, oops. I have so much to post about!

Because so many of you have been wondering and asking, I am just letting you all know I am still alive, still in AZ, still waiting for spring to come, still cooking (and doing the dishes), still doing alright, and well... just "busy". Busy is in quotes because some of my busy-ness is laziness as well. I know I'll make up for it real soon... just you wait and see.

Happy, healthy and a peaceful New Year too.

07 December 2006

African-Inspired Quinoa Peanut Soup

I thought I'd share this recipe today since I made it for the second time last night and really enjoyed it once again. This is African-Inspired (but not) Quinoa Peanut Soup from Nava Atlas' soup book. I seriously love this book, I have the newer all-vegan version. I tend to modify from it, but come on, what cookbook don't I do that from (maybe Dreena's?!). Anyway, this soup is more like a stew or a hearty protein-filled all-in-one bowl of goodness.

I created the soup the first time with a few modifications, specifically the following: I added paprika to the recipe, about a teaspoon. I also added a bunch of red pepper flakes to oomph up the spice. I didn't have zucchini and I didn't care, so I subbed one green thing for another, using a small bell pepper. I also had a yam instead of sweet potato, but at this point I am so confused as to what's what, I don't care what it is called... they are good, both yams and sweet potatoes. Finally, the last and what I think is the most important modification, is that I used a lot (like, a real lot, for me) of salt and pepper. I probably used at least a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper (maybe more?) and at least 1-1.5 teaspoons of salt. The boullion I use is low-sodium, so that could be the reason I added more salt. Anyway, I swear, it's the salt that perks it up, which is weird because I usually don't say that about salt and spices. So, those were my modifications and it came out really earthy and good.

I like how this soup is creamy from the peanut butter and not runny because of the quinoa and at the same time it has a nice kick of spice. I like peanut butter with spicy foods, sort of reminding me of a Thai dipping sauce, but not. It is more like a regular veggie soup, just with a hint of pb kicked in. Vicki posted about this soup one time and said she didn't really care for it. I wonder if it was the spices (or just not a soup for her). She posted about this around the time when I first made this. I was hesitant during the cooking because it was a different recipe by a longshot than what I am used to... stirring peanut butter into a stew that seems to be "done" already? But that was the best part, seriously, this soup rocks! I made this soup again last night and used pretty much the same modifications:
I didn't have as chunky peanut butter. I grinded my own at the co-op yesterday and it was pretty smooth. I enjoyed it better the first time (peanut-wise) with more chunks. Yesterday I didn't add a green bell pepper, instead I added red and yellow and a few local green chilis. Yum! I also think I had a yam again, but I am still confused. All of these photos you see are from round one. I took photos last night but they pretty much look the same... just with more red and yellow. I highly suggest trying this soup. The flavors are unique and interesting and very tasty.

01 December 2006

5-A-Day My Ass

These are crepes again along with maple butter cream that I can't seem to get enough of. The crepes and creme are from Dreena's upcoming book, and wow, they are good. They are made of whole wheat spelt and have 5 types of fruits to go in and on them. I want to mention that simply pureeing foods, such as fruits and veggies, offers a person to cram so much more good stuff into the diet without eating more bulk or at least it mentally seems so. For example, what you see here is more than 1c of each type of fruit, simply pureed down for faster and easier consumption. Plus, that type of presentation goes well with crepes. And don't forget hiding greens in other meals, simply chop them super fine so they are mixed in.

Thinking about people counting and cramming in fiber and good stuff, made me think of that one ridiculous commercial where the woman wakes up in the middle of the night and chomps into a raw bunch of broccoli and then goes back to bed. Come on, after all, she needs at least 25 grams of fiber in her diet daily. Then she wakes early before the alarm, and continues to eat raw veggies while getting dressed and driving to work. She is desperately trying to squeeze in some raw carrots while at her desk at work. Then this crazy lady is even eating raw veggies while walking on the treadmill later in the day. Doesn't she eat meals? Or is it assumed that she is not eating any good foods (drive-thru burger and fries on her way home from the gym?!) and that she needs to spend free moments (and not-so-free) gorging away at raw produce?!
Wait... the point of the whole commercial... there's a pill for all that. Just take a few pills a day because after all, it is "so hard to get fiber in the diet" and continue to eat a bunch of crap instead of eating whole colorful, and fiber-containing, among other things-foods.

I decided not to rant about this (politics, obesity, socioeconomic issues, NSLP, etc), so here I am providing you with my "more than 5-a-day" from a vegan with a nutrition degree. And all in one meal, all on one plate (smoothies take care of this too!). All organic, some of it local: I present to you, Dreena's wonderful spelt crepes with maple butter creme (coming up in her 3rd book), and I served it with local gala apples, peaches that were frozen, frozen strawberries, a fresh banana and always-frozen-blueberries. All more than 1c of fruit each, pureed and gobbled up (divided by two servings). It is so simple and quick and easy to get so much fruit/veggies/good stuff if you simply puree it (starting from whole form not adding anything. Agave nectar is ok, but not necessary).

30 November 2006

Weird Fondue

For some weird reason, a couple of weeks ago, I made the "Vegan Lunch Box" Fondue recipe for my first go at the cookbook. It's weird because I don't care for cheesy things (except the artichoke dip at Green) and I had no idea what I was going to dip in it. It's also weird but more on the stupid side, that this recipe has been posted on her blog for months and I never had a desire to make it then, so why would it be the first thing I made with the book?! Weird. Anyway, I made this fondue and modified it a lot. I didn't take notes because I wasn't that thrilled in the first place. I know I added garlic and made it spicy, added more nutritional yeast and a few other things. Basically, I made it as-is from the book and it was too bland for me (and weird) so I doctored it. Let's just say this needs work. I can understand how a child would like this dip because it is creamy, simple and bland, but Ray grossed me out by saying (at the end of the "meal") that it reminded him of either cafeteria cheese or the cheese that pours out of those metal square boxes at gas stations. When he said that my whole opinion of the meal went downhill. I am willing to give this another go, just modified a lot more and possibly by having it not as thick. It was sort of dance-y and wiggly. It was a weird meal that I quickly threw together. I served it with way too old bread, some purple potatoes (aka smooshies), raw carrots and raw green bell peppers. It pretty much wasn't the best but the idea was good (yet at the last minute). Then, about an hour later I wasn't feeling so grossed out, so I ate half a pint of Turtle Trails. Then I was happy.

PS... Sorry for a crappy "disaster" post.
PPS... I don't have a fondue maker/set. This was made with a saucepot and consumed with a regular fork.

26 November 2006

Soup of the Gypsies

This is one of the best soups I have ever consumed in my whole life and where I got it from it's called Gypsy Soup, but I prefer to call it Soup of the Gypsies. Same difference. It is up there with Tofu Noodle Soup and Sloppy Lenties and VwaV Corn Chowder (my variation, anyway). By the way, tonight I made tofu noodle soup for the 9th time. Yes, I'm keeping a tally. I felt something weird coming on and decided to kick it early. Back to the Gypsies... I got this recipe from Kris who adapeted it from someone else. So that means I adapted an adaption of an adaption that most likely was already adapted. Anyway, this soup we all created (like the "telephone-game") by passing it on, has turned into something that is going into the routine. At least the fall-winter routine. I have made it three different ways, but with the same basics.

This is my version of the recipe. I hope you all like it. If you are going to modify, please at least keep the spices, it really is a nutritional party in a bowl.
Leslie's Soup of the Gypsies
~serves a lot (use a 6qt pot)~

2T (or less) olive oil
1 large onion, chopped small
3 stalks celery, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, diced small
1 large or 2 small yams, peeled and diced small
2t paprika
1t ground tumeric
1t basil, dried
1t sea salt
black pepper to taste
1/8-1/4t cinnamon, ground
1/8t cayenne pepper, ground
1 bay leaf
5-6 cups water
1 bullion cube or stock equiv.
1T tamari
2c chickpeas (or a 25oz can)
15oz can great northern beans (or white beans)
1/2 can diced tomatoes

My variations include: one time I didn't use northern beans, just a lot of chickpeas, the next time I also didn't use any tomato, which I prefer. The second time I made this I also used 3 purple potatoes which made the soup even more colorful along with a jewel yam and garnet yam, both locally grown at the co-op. My green bell pepper was also locally grown at an aquiantance's home.
Method: Heat olive oil in the soup pot over medium to high heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, green bell pepper and sweet potato (or equiv) for about 10 minutes, until semi-soft. Season with paprika, tumeric, basil, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper and the bay leaf. Stir to blend and then add the water, bullion and tamari. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add beans and tomatoes if using and simmer for another 10 minutes, uncovered, until all the veggies are tender. If they aren't close to being tender, keep the lid on for a bit longer. Remove the bay leaf and consume.
This soup makes the house smell amazing and it is even better the next day once the flavors have married. I highly recommend trying this very soon, it leaves lingering flavors that seem exotic, but are not (see simple ingredients). Enjoy!