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my ultimate comfort food dinner – veganmofo 3

3930562108_f07c8dec17Though I have no intention of turning this into a personal blog – that’s what my LJ’s for, hey? – I have to say that this week has been painful and difficult on many levels. Hence the still-spotty blogging frequency.

Because this week’s been a whole lot of terrible with a generous helping of sad, I’ve been thinking about comfort food. There are a number of foods that I reach for when my battered soul needs soothing; depending on the situation, it could be anything from steel-cut oats to chocolate cream pie, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches to nachos, mock tuna salad to potato chips soaked in pickle juice (seriously, TRY IT), chocolate almond milk to a cheap white zinfandel.  But when life is extra kick-you-when-you’re-down, and the world is harsh, and everything is hurty, there’s only one dinner I want.

I spent 9 of my most formative years – ages 6 to 15 –  in Texas. I hate cliches but live the whole “you can take the girl out of Texas…” chestnut. I still say “y’all”, and maintain that it’s one of the most useful words ever. I still secretly want the Cowboys to win, even though I loathe football and avoid it at all costs. I still unconsciously slip into my drawl when prompted by external stimuli – an episode of “Designing Women”, country music, “Steel Magnolias”, talking with someone else with an accent. I still drop the “g”s from my -ing words; I have to make a concerted effort to correctly pronounce “royal” and “oil”. I still adore cowboy hats and want a couple of pairs of cowboy boots. I still refuse to leave the house in sweatpants or similar garb.

And food? Y’all, please. I still love Frito pie, salted tomato slices, Dr. Pepper, ranch-style beans, food slathered in BBQ sauce and cooked over charcoal, chili, hushpuppies, chicken-fried [insert vegan chicken analog here], Tex-Mex, Big Red Soda, pecan pie…I’ll stop now. So, see, it’s no wonder that I want what I want when I most need comfort eats: comfort food

Meat analog, smothered in gravy. Mashed potatoes, also smothered in gravy. Sauteed greens. Homemade biscuits (not pictured).

Sometimes I can’t bear to dirty another bowl for biscuits, so we’ll have locally-produced whole wheat sourdough instead. dinner 9-14 2

My love for Cedar Lake chops knows no bounds. F’real. I love those things so much I buy them by the case. I season ’em and pan-fry ’em until they’re brown and beautiful and a little bit crispy. I mash my (skin on!) potatoes up with lots of Earth Balance, soy milk creamer, salt, and fresh black pepper. I saute my greens with heaps of fresh garlic and red pepper flakes. I ladle the chops and potatoes with Road’s End Golden Gravyclose up comfort

It ain’t good for me. It’s probably bad for me, actually. It uses a couple different packaged foods, a category of noms I generally try to avoid. The greens are the only nutritiously redeeming part of the meal. It’s definitely a “sometimes” dinner (thanks, Cookie Monster). But man alive, it warms my heart and soothes my soul in a way that no other foods do. With this in front of me (especially with my kid next to me and an episode of Buffy cued up on the DVD player), all is right with the world – at least for a little while.

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welsh rarebit lunch – october 7 – veganmofo 1!

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Last week I got my hands on Dynise‘s book, The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes from Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine. After I got home from classes today, I was thinking about what to make for lunch, and I remembered the recipe for Welsh Rarebit I’d seen while paging through the book. I never did get around to eating Welsh Rarebit in my pregan life, but a cheesy sauce on toast sounded like just the thing for a post-school, recovering-from-bronchitis, gotta-make-something-quick-then-study-for-my-ASL-quiz lunch. As the recipe suggested, I used mature cheddar Cheezly (I LOVE YOU CHEEZLY!). I ended up using a dark beer, because the only other beer I have is Fat Tire’s Sunshine Wheat, and if I opened that to use a cup of it for lunch, I would have no choice but to finish the bottle WITH lunch, because that beer is just THAT GOOD, and if I’d started beering at 1:00, I wouldn’t have gotten any studying done. Which is all to say that my sauce turned out much browner than hers (and if you think that my lunch is anywhere near that pretty, this must be your first visit to my blog).

So, yeah. My sauce was brown, and I didn’t prettily halve my toast slices (forgot!), and I totally smothered my toast instead of spooning on just a bit. I also laid tomato slices on top of the toast before adding the cheesy goodness.

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Looks totally unappetizing, right? I know! It looks horrible! But, friends, let me tell you – IT WAS SO GOOD. Cheesy, tangy, with body and flavor from the beer and a spicy kick from cayenne. Mmmmm mmmmm YUM.

I do have to add that it’s best to eat all your sauce as soon as it’s made; I saved mine and reheated it for dinner, and that didn’t work out particularly well.

Oh, in case you’re curious, my bread of choice is Food for Life’s Ezekiel Sesame.  I adore that stuff and try to make sure we always have at least two loaves in the house (one in the freezer).

orange dinner – September 27

My husband brought these amazing Charentais (also called French Breakfast) melons home from the farmers’ market on Saturday. melonI had a quarter of one with breakfast (toast and coffee, because I am boring in the morning).

They are incredible. Seriously, I don’t think that I know enough adjectives to adequately describe these gems. I moaned while I was eating them – not just the first bite, but every bite. I scraped the rind with my teeth so as not to miss a single blissful drop. They are heaven. If ever you encounter one, you must bring it home with you.

For dinner, I roasted some beets (three Golden, two Chioggia). I had big plans to make a cumin vinaigrette to top them and a chickpea puree to accompany them, but that turned out to be wishful ambitioning. Oven-roasted beets are absolutely lovely all on their own, though.

I served them with Crescent Dragonwagon’s Outrageously Good Pan-Crisped Millet-Vegetable Cakes from her cookbook, Passionate Vegetarian (which also incorporate a beet, as well as a carrot, so it was a fairly orangey-pink dinner). I also threw together a green salad comprised of romaine lettuce, lemon cucumber, green cabbage, and these gorgeous orange tomatoes from our neighbor’s garden (more orange!).  beety dinner

There’s a small dollop of Karam’s Garlic Sauce next to the salad.

orangeyOrangey!

P.S. Millet? SO GOOD.

lasagna dinner – September 24

Did I mention that I’m actually kind of terrible at photographing food? I am. Er, also, my food is rarely all that photogenic to begin with! Consider yourself disclaimered. :)

Dinner! I made lasagna. I used brown rice noodles which I layered with a homemade marinara sauce, homemade tofu ricotta, and shredded vegan mozzarella. Oh! And sprinkles of vegan parmesan. Next time I want to throw in spinach, or broccoli, or something green and/or cruciferous, to give it more texture and interest. My husband sprinkled his crispy kale on top of his serving, hence the green stuff.

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 We also had crispy roasted kale and whole wheat sourdough.

lasagna dinner

Dessert was a scoop of Temptation chocolate ice cream with some roasted almonds and a drizzle of this delicious agave-sweetened chocolate sauce from Woodring Northwest.

IMG_1047 Yes, I did eat it out of a wee ramekin!

bagel breakfast – September 23

French Meadow Bakery’s sprouted bagels, topped with Tofutti’s non-hydrogenated Better than Cream Cheese and a happy sprinkling of Eden Foods’ garlic gomasio.bagel breakfast

 With a local, organic nectarine. mmmm bagel

 Not pictured: Pangaea Organica’s Mexico blend with stevia and Wildwood’s soy creamer.