Playing with my food

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 Just having a little fun,  pre-burger – last weekend! Smile!

Pho sure!

Is there anything more satisfying than a humongous bowl of pho?
Maybe there is, to you, but I sure love sinking into this fragrant soup filled with amazing aromas, crunchy bean sprouts and fiery chilies.

2010-08-22 11.02.32I was first introduced to pho at a little hole in the wall Vietnamese place here in Florida. This place is authentic (and people do swear by its magical powers and great, cheap food) with Buddhas strategically placed and Vietnamese TV on in the background.

I had the vegetarian pho, and what struck me especially was the little side dish of condiments – basil, bean sprouts, chili peppers, lime) that signaled you to place them gently atop the finished soup, creating a masterpiece. It’s almost too pretty to eat!

When I get a hankering, I make my own at home (see above pic). It’s not hard. I love my river rice noodles, so those are very important. You can add anise, black pepper, garlic, and what not to a good veggie based broth. Add tofu (or leave it out), green onions, sliced mushrooms, gently simmer. Then you can begin adding your pretty condiments. Pho is adaptable to whatever you have on hand – it’s a lovely, gentle, forgiving soup. :)

Tempting tofu

Hey! It’s summer. Officially. I just moved house to a new locale, and the backyard is equipped with a nifty (and huge) gas grill.

Score.

Plus, there is an Asian supermarket just a few blocks away.

Super score!
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Tofu is plentiful and inexpensive there. Yay! I grilled some tofu slabs on the aforementioned grill this weekend, and voila: crispy on the outside, pliable inside, and with that BBQ taste everyone knows and loves. Oh, and look: grill marks! just like meat!

Here, the leftovers are pulling duty with rice river noodles, scallions (grown by moi, thanks very much), hot chili oil and a splash of sesame oil. Simple. Heavenly.

It’s going to be a good summer.

It’s summertime, and the canning is easy

Canning and pickling is ‘in’ again. How do I know? When I see Facebook posts from several of my friends about how they have discovered the joys of putting fruit or veg in a jar and covering it with a water-vinegar -sugar-blend. Yep, this ancient practice is back with a vengeance, and like any hip new trend, it latched its way on to me.

So: the other evening I was inspired by a) Pinterest and b) a craving for Vietnamese food, and decided to make do chua, or Vietnamese pickled veg. The do chua usually consists of simply carrots and daikon, but I only had carrots on hand, so I ran with it.

I have pickled other things before (cucumbers! How original!) but I’m curious to see how my half-batch of carrots turns out. Maybe with it  I can throw together my homemade version of banh mi, my most beloved sandwich in the world.

 

Save the chickens!

I do apologize for the inglorious photo here – it was taken on the fly – but I wanted to introduce you to my new best lunch friend, egg salad. Except this is not egg salad.

Looks like, it, no?

It’s tofu masquerading as egg salad.
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Before you go “EWWWW,” let me tell you. It tastes exactly like the real thing.

Taste and texture.

The key here: really good quality vegan mayo – I swear by Vegenaise, it’s the only kind I buy – and Dijon or stone ground mustard. The mustard is critical for giving the salad that “egg salad” taste.

I got the recipe here. Feel free to play around with it, as I did. So save a chicken, and serve it to your egg lovin’, tofu-hatin’ friends and see what they think!

I’m back!

Hi. Again, I am so sorry I’ve been neglectful here. When I signed in I realized the last post was from ….AUGUST! Yikes! Well, welcome back you all, thank you to my new followers, and I promise to try and post once a week!

Happy new year – 2014 is off to a roaring start. I’ve been doing research on raw foods, something I would like to try and eat more this year! There’s a fantastic raw vegan café out on St Pete Beach (for you vegan vacationers that ever make it this way) called Vida de Café. It’s chic, a little funky, super clean and welcoming, and they have an impressive menu of raw creations. I’ve been there a handful of times, and I LOVE their raw tacos. (I’ve even made a version of theirs at home!) Their ‘sushi’ is wonderful, too. The menu is small and simple and I think that’s great, so they can concentrate on making excellent the few things they have.

Anyhoo…more raw food for me this year, yes, please!

Another new obsession in my life: spaghetti squash. HOW HAVE I NEVER HAD THIS BEFORE? Me, being the spaghettisquashnoodleholic and squash lover…two things combined into one faboo meal? Zing! I made mine cheesy with vegan cream cheese and some nooch…oh, my. I was surprised at how filling it is, too!

Ok. I’ll be back soon, I promise, with more musings! Tell me, what are your food plans for 2014?

Buffalo Tempeh

ImageI’d seen recipes online for vegan “Buffalo Wings,” combining all sorts of different ingredients and preparing them in myriad ways. And they always just seemed too complicated – or maybe it was just me?

Seeking a super-healthy and easy version, I ignored all convention and marinated sliced tempeh in Trappey’s Bull Sauce over night, turning the tempeh now and then in order to assure all the pieces soaked up the sauce.

I then heated my oven on 400, rolled the tempeh pieces in panko bread crumbs, and baked the tempeh until the coating looked crispy and brown.

There. Super quick “wings.”

This isn’t the prettiest picture – but the wings were good for a first attempt. I whipped up “ranch” dip with Veganaise, garlic and onion powder, and dried parsley. Coated the wings with more bull sauce for extra dippiness.

Result? A pretty passable “chicken” substitute, definitely a good way to satisfy the spicy, salty, crunchy cravings I get every now and then!