2/26/11

Blog Lust: Basic Vegetarian


My friend Nancy has been perfecting her cooking skills for eons. She personally plumped me up out of my poor-college-student induced anorexia with her delicious meals faithfully served every morning and every Wednesday evening at the Hare Krishna temple in Boston. It's only fitting after all those years of professional/devotional cooking that she has started a new vegetarian cooking blog, Basic Vegetarian. I am quite excited to try out her recipes! Head on over; your belly will be glad you did!

2/25/11

Etsy Find: Vera Neumann Napkin Pillows!



You know, I am quite surprised that big box retailers like Crate and Barrel haven't re-popped the designs of Vera Neumann. While we wait for the powers to be to make some new Vera home accessories, Saysodesign can hook you up with these pillows made from vintage Vera napkins. Great idea!

Pattern Design: Vera Bradley Folkloric Print

I'm not a big fan of Vera Bradley. Nothing against Vera, I like the paisley prints and all, but it's very, well, suburban preppy Grandma for my tastes. When I passed by the Vera store today, I fell in love with this Folkloric print. So cute and poppy. I admit, I liked it so much, I broke down and bought this wallet. (Dear, it wasn't expensive, so don't worry.)

2/24/11

Head to Head: Vegan Fudgy Brownies Recipes

#3, #2 and #1, lined up and ready to be judged!


Head to Head: Vegan Fudgy Brownies Recipes--Which one is the best?


When some friends invited us over for a feast of homemade pizza, I decided to whip up some vegan fudgy brownies. Three batches, actually. All different recipes to see if I and my friends could find the best of the best.
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The contenders:

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Notes on Preparation: 
(I took these notes while preparing the brownies. I added chocolate chips to all the batters.)

Hardest to prepare; I used blended firm tofu for the okara. Forgot to add EB. Oops! I have the most hopes for this recipe. Very fudgy and moist batter. Good chocolate content. (Check notes below for notes from the 2nd batch.)

Easiest to prepare. Nice consitency to dough. Smelled the most "brownie from a box mix."
Super gooey, crisp outside.

Fairly easy to prepare, but lots of flour and sugar! Dough was thick--making me think it will be cakey.
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My notes on taste/texture:
Not super fudgy, but I did forget the Earth Balance. A really good flavor. Moist. A cross between a fudge and cake brownie. Thick.

Crisp outside, gooey inside. Great flavor. I think if this was baked at 300 for 40 minutes, it might cook the inside better to alleviate the goo factor. I think walnuts would be an excellent addition to this recipe.

Baked well. A very thick brownie. Not very chocolatey. Despite having 2 whole cups of sugar, it wasn't very sweet. Decent, but probably would not make again.
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The results!
There was no clear winner, but most people agreed that Vegan Feast Kitchen's were the best. Some liked  the gooey-ness of Spark's, while others liked the cakey-ness of Vegan Start. My favorite was Vegan Feast Kitchen's recipe, so much so that I wanted to do it justice by making sure I made the recipe correctly with Earth Balance. 
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Second batch of Vegan Feast Kitchen Recipe:
You know, honestly, these brownies were just fine without the 1/2 cup of Earth Balance! They were actually better the second day, but still I wanted to see what they would be like if I followed the recipe correctly. This time, I added about 1 tsp of espresso powder and sub'd 1/4 cup of the cocoa powder with 1/4 cup of melted chocolate. (Wait, wasn't I supposed to make this to the letter of the recipe?) I also put the chocolate chips on top instead mixed in with the batter. They were the bomb this time. I compared a refrigerated brownie with a room temperature brownie and it makes the world of a difference! The cold brownies were super fudgy. I will make this one again! Yum, yum and more yums!

2/23/11

Ebay Find: Cute Finnish Things

6 Finel Finland Enamel Mugs

Finlayson Finland Children's Fabric

Finel Finland Children's Mug

Finel Teapot

Tampella Finland Metsovaara Fabric
Pentti Sarpaneva Necklace
All way above my price point, but still pretty to look at it.

Ask S & S: What are the Best Cupcake Liners?






























My friend, Sabjimata, recently asked me what cupcake liners I like the best since Wilton liners were doing her wrong. I concur. Wilton liners have screwed many a cupcake for me. My favorite are "greasproof liners" from Sweden. Cupcake Swirl has a great selection of liners from Sweden. My favorite that I have personally tested are the "swirl baking liners".

2/22/11

Ebay Fails: Items I Forgot to Bid on...

vtg antique wood wooden toy animals farm zoo game sold for $12.50

VTG Pair of BLUE Dala Horse Danish Mogen Eigenbrod NR sold for $12.99
When I don't "win" an item or forget to bid, I try to console myself by realizing I don't need more little dust catchers in my house. I certainly don't need any more cute wooden animals lining my shelves. I don't. Really, I don't. I'm serious.

Spice in the Kitchen: Broccoli Rabe & Sun Dried Tomatoes Pasta

My kids are going to grow up thinking that photographing food before you eat is totally normal.
This is not a dish I would even think to write a recipe for. It just seems so easy and obvious. But maybe that's just me. My husband loved this pasta and said I should put on my blog. So here you go!

Broccoli Rabe & Sun Dried Tomatoes with Pasta and Fauxsage Recipe (vegan-izable)
serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • Pasta of your choice for the number of the people you need to serve. I used whole wheat penne.
  • olive oil
  • 1 handful of sundried tomatoes for each person (chopped into small bite sized pieces)
  • red pepper flakes
  • big head of broccoli rabe, cut into bite sized pieces (leaves and all)
  • cup or two of veggie broth
  • Faux Italian style sausage (or alternately, cannellini beans, a personal fav for this type of dish)
  • basil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese (vegan if need be or optional)


Directions

  • Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  • In the meantime, sauté your sundried tomatoes in oil with fresh or dried basil and red pepper flakes. If using beans, add them here. Add broccoli rabe and cook until it becomes bright green.
  • Add veggie broth, salt and pepper and simmer until broccoli rabe becomes soft but not overcooked. 
  • Fry sausage (if using) in a separate pan until brown and crispy.
  • Add pasta to rabe. Cook for a minute.
  • Plate pasta, top with sausage and parmesan.

Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Scrambled Tofu Recipe


























It snowed last night. Again. It was 70 degrees last week. I was up all night to the constant sound of snow plows, my children coughing and my own huffs and puffs. School was cancelled despite the fact that the streets were more than drivable. I was in a bad, bad mood. I did not want any of my usual breakfast choices. Cold and unloving yogurt. Soggy cereal. I needed something warm and happy. Tofuxpress to the rescue! I had some tofu being pressed in the fridge (left-over from a brownie experiment) so I decide to make tofu scramble. I'm so happy I did. It didn't really improve my mood, or make me feel more rested, but at least my belly felt warm and happy.

Scrambled Tofu Recipe (vegan)
serves 4-6


Ingredients

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp hing (or 1/2 onion, minced)
  • 1 tsp crushed, dried thyme
  • 1 TB yellow mustard powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 TB tumeric
  • 1 TB nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup mixed, chopped bell peppers (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes  (optional)
  • 1/4 cup frozen, chopped spinach (optional)


Directions

  1. Pinch apart pieces of your pressed tofu. Make sure all the water is drained--this give the best results.
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil and then add spices (except tumeric). Stir for a minute and add tofu. Coat tofu in spice/oil mixture. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add slat and pepper.
  3. Add optional veggies starting with peppers (fry those for a few minutes before adding other veggies).
  4. Add tumeric, and stir until everything is coated with its yellowy goodness.
  5. Add nutritional yeast and fry until the tofu starts getting a few light brown flecks.
  6. Serve with veggie sausage, Teese or whatever dairy-free cheese gets you going. Go crazy and make an un-egg MacMuffin. The possibilities are endless!

2/21/11

Blog Lust: 500 Vegan Recipes


























I love looking at food porn, but food blogs that don't give recipes are such a tease! What's the point? 500 Vegan Recipes delivers and then some. Yummy photos, yummy looking food and detailed recipes! Well, hallelujah! Gotta make this spinach and tempeh pie. Looks so delicious.

2/20/11

(Vegan) Pizza from Heaven!

Arugula and buffalo mozzarella.

Vegan pizza with Daiya, eggplant and peppers.

Buffalo mozzarella, black olives and bell peppers. 
Late night text to come up to North Jersey for some homemade pizza? Hells yeah! Our friend Karl has been making pizza at home for some time now and the boy's developed mad skills! I will pray to the pizza gods that he can get a clay pizza oven going in his backyard this summer. We'll definitely make the 1 hour, 30 minute drive up there for the christening! *HINT, HINT*

And, by the way, we all came to the conclusion that Daiya mozzarella tastes like Tings.

And, by the way, #2, we did a vegan fudge brownie head-to-head taste test after the pizza. Stay tuned for the results.

2/18/11

Pattern Design: John Robshaw Textiles!

I have a soft spot in my heart for 1) pattern design, 2) folk art and 3) the textiles of India, so when I saw the the John Robshaw Textiles collection, my ticker skipped a beat.

Awesome Flickr Streams: Happyflowerhead's Favorites








I love Happyflowerhead's taste! He/she is like my separated at birth twin. Go through the whole stream; it's super cute.

2/17/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Easy Vegan Gravy (Fat Free or Not!)

Looks like the TV dinners of my youth. Gravy on a Gardein Chick'n Scallopini cutlet.
The husband and I have been spending a lot of time at the gym sweatin' to the oldies, so dinners have been fairly easy at the Scissors household. I was craving some comfort food, so before I brought my daughter to ballet class, I made some quick fat-free mashed potatoes (yukon gold, mashed with veggie broth) and grilled some asparagus. When I got home, I decided the meal needed some protein, so I grabbed some Gardein Chick'n Scallopini (they are great!) and made a quick gravy for the cutlets. The gravy is so, so easy. Works great at Thanksgiving too. You can make it fat-free or add oil for a richer taste. Measurements are approximate since I always just wing it.

Vegan Gravy Recipe
serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 TB of Bell's seasoning (or sage or this recipe)
  • 1 TB of nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 cup of veggie broth (or water)
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TB mild flavored olive oil (or vegan butter)(optional)


Directions

  1. In a medium frying pan, toast the flour, spices and nutritional yeast. Do this by using a whisk, stirring frequently until the flour gets a light tan color.
  2. Turn down the heat, and whisk in the veggie broth and soy sauce. If it gets too thick, add more broth.
  3. If you chose to use oil or butter, whisk that in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. If you are using the gravy for tempeh, seitan or tofu, I fry it beforehand and then put it in the gravy when it is finished and let simmer on the lowest heat. The protein soaks in some of the gravy and it is oh sooo good!

2/16/11

If You Are Ever in Valencia, Spain...

Our friend, Laura Meseguer, initiating us in the beauty of a late afternoon horchata. When you don't eat dinner until 9 or 10 pm, you need a little something to tide you over! You can see the rival horchateria across the street.

Ahhhh... refreshing! 
Later, we visited Horchateria de Santa Catalina and were very envious of everyone eating fartons with their horchata.
























...you must try a nice cold glass of horchata (or orxata), a vegan milk drink made from tiger nuts. Though some say Horchateria de Santa Catalina has the best and most authentic horchata, I was partial to Horchateria El Siglo's slushy version made with crushed ice. Don't mistake Mexican horchata (usually not vegan and made with rice instead of tiger nuts) for the real Valencian version. Word has it that the Valencians are the kings of horchata! I bought some tiger nuts, so I may have to try this recipe in the near future. (Maybe to accompany some vegan fartons, a pastry that normally accompanies horchata. 6 eggs in that recipe! Could I pull it off?)

And while we are the subject of food and Valencia... you have never tasted such yummy olive oil in your life. I can't wait to go back!

2/15/11

Beyond Awesome Photo Project
























Back to the Future, a photo project by Irina Werning, examines what vintage portraits would look like if the were reenacted in present day.

Design Inspiration: Auctioned Scandinavian & Mid-Century Animals

Danish teak kitty. Now showing in my home!

Danish mice. Cheese of choice: Havarti.

A Swedish cat by Gustavsberg. Sold for a mere $175.

Sad little lion; framed ceramic slab.
Baby Scissors and I went to an auction today and spotted these little treasures. Unfortunately, the enamel bowl that I wanted (and went to the auction for) sold for $95. Crazy. Those damn NYC dealers! The Danish cat and a Dansk ice bucket did manage to make it home with me though. You win some, you lose some!