Archive for March, 2011

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St. Patrick’s Day! Vegan Irish Soda Bread PLUS An Angry Irish Rant!

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m half Irish, and also generally hungry, so to celebrate these things I decided to bake up a quick loaf of vegan Irish Soda Bread this St. Patrick’s Day afternoon, using this simple and excellent recipe from Happy Herbivore. This was my first time making Irish Soda Bread, and I was pleased to discover how easy it was! I mean, c’mon—a bread you barely have to knead and that doesn’t have to rise at all? Compared to the other breads I’ve made in the past, this one was a cinch. And very tasty in the end, too! Here are some photos of my bread-baking adventure. First, the loaf right after it came out of the oven…

Then here’s what it looked liked sliced in half…

And finally, what it looked like sliced into, well, slices…

I was very happy with how this came out, and would definitely make it again, even for non-St.-Patrick’s-Day occasions!

Lastly, in further celebration of this Irish holiday, I thought I’d close today’s post with a little Irish rant. Did anyone else see this ludicrous article in the New York Times earlier this week? It’s so ludicrous that I almost feel that even criticizing it is giving it too much credit, but it feels wrong to let such idiocy go unchallenged (and I haven’t heard any other mention of it on the food blogosphere yet).

For those who haven’t read the article, the author’s basic argument is that, since plants have just as much life as animals do, there can be no justification for choosing to eat plants rather than animals (as the author puts it, “If eating a tofu dog [is] as much a crime against life as eating bratwurst, then pass the bratwurst, please”). These conclusions are disturbing and depressing, for many reasons. I was mostly shocked by how much the author overlooks in her assessment of veg*nism; some examples:

  • First, eating animals involves a significantly greater amount of cruelty than eating plants. (I don’t necessarily mean in principle—I’m only concerned with our current practices of meat production, which are unquestionably more barbaric in their treatment of animals than any of our ways of farming vegetables). I think I’m in agreement with most veg*ns when I say that what I want in my diet is to avoid cruelty, not (merely) to preserve life.
  • Second, eating animals includes with it the killing of all the plants needed to feed and fatten those animals. So even if you were simply concerned with merely preserving life, you’d preserve a lot more life overall if you just ate plants than if you ate plant-eating animals.
  • Third, our current practices of meat production are in my opinion inherently unsustainable, whereas sustainable fruit, grain, and vegetable farming is much more realistic. These more global considerations should figure into our reflections on preserving life just as much as concerns on the individual level.
  • Fourth, there are plenty of other reasons to be veg*n, and it betrays an astounding amount of moral deafness that the author feels justified in her decision to eat meat by the failure of this argument alone.

I could go on, but I don’t want to get carried away. And I did feel some small consolation in reading this article: namely, that if arguments in favor of eating animals are getting this obviously stupid, then maybe that’s a sign that we’ll soon all realize that there are in fact no good reasons to eat animals. And that’s something I can drink to. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Irving Farm Coffee

March 12, 2011

When I first moved to New York, it was pretty easy to get overwhelmed by it all. I don’t just mean its whole ever bustling metropolis vibe, but the small comforts that make me feel at home were hard to find. As you may have read in my Kiva Han post, having a welcoming place to go where I can sit and read, foamy latte in hand, is, for me, an important one of these comforts.

It can be hard to avoid the ubiquitous green mermaid, but New York has no shortage of alternatives. Irving Farm was one of the first cafes I came across in Manhattan. There’s no question that its 14th street location, less than a block from Pratt, is a major plus.

All of their tea and coffee options are wonderful, their pastry case is almost always stocked with a good selection of vegan (and non-vegan) baked goods and their staff is incredibly friendly.

While the space is not really designed for people to hang around or get work done, I would highly recommend stopping in on a sunny day and taking your drink and snack on a walk to nearby Jackson Square and enjoying some time among the greenery!

Until we eat again,

Caitlin

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Caffienated Paradise

March 10, 2011

In the city of champ-yinz, just around the corner from my old apartment, is my favorite place in the world to get all twitchy on caffeinated beverages. I sorely miss sitting in Kiva Han writing essays all morning over a delightfully sweet iced chai or spending a rainy afternoon crosswording with a curry. Before I get all self indulgent and let myself wax nostalgic, I should really give you, dear readers, the vital statistics…

Kiva Han is located on the corner of Forbes Avenue and Craig Street just between the Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh campuses. It has just about everything I look for in a cafe: steady wireless internet, a good selection of food* and beverages, plenty of comfy places to sit, great staff… I could go on, but I should probably get on with more more food pictures…

This is the hangover cure burrito, one of Kiva Han’s more popular menu items. Essentially, it’s the best breakfast burrito ever conceived. Cheddar cheese, egg, hot sauce and potatoes all conveniently wrapped up in a tortilla.

Just a close up for good measure. Are you sold yet? Good.

I wish I had pictures of a wider range of their menu options, but, unfortunately, when I was a regular, I was not yet the food blogger you know today.

I’m so glad that I finally got around to writing this small ode to my favorite Pittsburgh cafe.

Stay tuned for a short series of posts on my quest to find a new cafe upon my move to New York!

Until we eat again,

Caitlin

*The menu is largely vegetarian with some solid vegan options.

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Beer Food

March 8, 2011

Ah… the refreshing smell of freshly baked bread…

This weekend, I baked bread all on my own for the first time in a fairly long while (discounting naan, cornbread, and other sweet breads, that is). This is sad, because I really love baking bread. Generally, it’s the time commitment (and the abundance of superb bakeries here in Toronto) that deter me from making it more often, but when I do, I always feel like the time is well spent. Freshly baked bread just tastes so darn good!

So, as a special little treat for my long-due return to bread-baking, I decided to bake a loaf of Beer Bread, following this recent recipe from Closet Cooking. This is a straightforward (and easily veganizable!) recipe, which includes a good cup and a half of beer in its dough (I used some Chocolate Stout, which seemed to work well). I was a little disappointed that the amazing beer aroma didn’t stick around after it had baked, but the beer did seem to lend the loaf a nice inner softness and springiness. Overall, I was really happy with this bread, and had a hard time stopping myself from eating it all in one go (which is probably another reason I don’t make bread more often). Here are some photos of my bread baking journey. First, some pics of the loaf after it came out of the oven…

And here are some close ups of it after it had cooled down and been sliced open…

Yum! But that’s not the only beer food I made this weekend! Along with my beer bread, I decided to whip up a batch of Chocolate Beer Pancakes for breakfast, in part to use up the remaining beer and in part because these pancakes are soamazingIwanttoeatthemeverydayforeverymealandalsowhileI’msleeping. The recipe comes from the excellent Vegan Brunch cookbook, where it’s actually a recipe for Chocolate Beer Waffles. Lacking a waffle iron, I decided to try these out as pancakes, and they were wonderful: fluffy and super flavorful! (And as I discovered later, while eating up the leftovers, these pancakes become even more delicious when complemented by clementine slices.) Here are some photos…

And that’s all I have to share today! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the (other) wonderful things beer can do. And remember: if you decide to make these beer recipes on your own, enjoy responsibly. 😉

Until we eat again,

Willie Costello

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Chive Edamame Hummus

March 6, 2011

Hi all! Told you I’d be back again soon. And, as promised, I have yet another hummus recipe to share! (Do check out yesterday’s Red Bean & Beet Hummus if you missed it—it’s superb.)

So what’s the enticing hummus you see above you? It’s an original recipe I’m calling, uncreatively, Chive Edamame Hummus. You see, it’s hummus, with chives and edamame in it. I got the idea because I generally love chive-y hummuses, and I thought it would be fun to complement the chives with a similarly colored bean base, for which green edamame beans were the obvious choice. Thankfully, the flavors ended up complementing each other as well! This isn’t the world’s most amazing hummus, but the little twists from the usual make it a nice dish overall. So without further ado, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Chive Edamame Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked great northern beans / garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup edamame beans (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • lots of chives (I ended up using about 3/4 cup I think, but adjust to your personal tastes)
  • 2 to 4 tbsp water
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine everything in a food processor and process, adding more water if necessary to thin it out.
  2. That’s it. Hummus is so easy.

And for reference, here’s mine after it was done in the food processor:

Hope you like this one guys! I’ll be back again soon with more delicious food!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Red Bean & Beet Hummus

March 5, 2011

Has it really been over a month since my last post? My apologies, readers. But I’m back now, and with a new original hummus recipe (and another to come tomorrow)! So that’s exciting, right?

In fact, I’ve been making a lot of hummuses (hummi?) lately. They make awesome additions to salads, and provide a nice snack throughout the day. One of my favorite hummus varieties of late has been beet hummus (which Caitlin first posted about a long time ago). Up to this weekend I’d been following this recipe from Eat Right Ontario, which is excellent, but I was starting to feel ready for something a little different.

Thankfully, I found inspiration in the latest Sweet Or Savory Kitchen Challenge hosted by the Diet, Desserts and Dogs and Affairs of Living blogs. For those unaware, the S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge is a monthly invitation to bloggers to cook up new recipes centered around a special ingredient. This month’s ingredient is azuki beans, and as soon I saw this, I immediately thought that I should make an azuki bean hummus—something I’d never tried before, but which sounded like it could turn out pretty good.

After some deliberation, I decided that azuki beans might make a good complement to beets, and so last night I tried giving it a whirl (literally!). The result was fantastic! I think azuki beans actually work better than chickpeas, as they give the hummus a darker, earthier taste. I didn’t even need to bother add extra spices to the batch; just six simple ingredients were all this hummus needed! Plus, like most hummuses, the recipe is super simple, so you should definitely try it out for yourself. Enjoy!

Red Bean & Beet Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked azuki beans
  • 2 large beets
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 to 4 tbsp water / reserved beet juice from boiling

Instructions

  1. Cook those beets! Well, wash them first, and then boil them until easily pierced with a fork, about thirty minutes. Then drain (reserving some of the liquid if desired), let cool, peel, and chop into small chunks.
  2. Throw everything in! Place chopped beets in a food processor along with the azuki beans, tahini, and lemon juice.
  3. Whirl it up! As you go on, add water or reserved beet liquid to thin it out.
  4. That’s it!

For reference, here’s what mine looked like after it was all whipped up:

Mine was probably a little more liquidy than I should’ve made it, but it was still delicious! I hope you enjoy this too!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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