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Jen and Johnny's Vegan Month of Food

I'm baking cookies!
I like peanut butter cookies. They're not my favorite, but when I'm in the mood for them, they're perfect, especially with a glass of soy milk. My favorite recipe right now is the "Big Gigantoid Peanut butter Oatmeal" recipe in Vegan With A Vengeance, and my favorite kitchen utensil right now is my tiny OXO cookie scoop!

Since I knew we weren't going to go through a whole batch of peanut butter oatmeal cookies (and I really don't need to be finishing them off by myself), I made a batch (using my tiny cookie scoop!) and froze all but two dozen. It's been a few weeks since we finished those off, and I haven't been into the idea of peanut butter cookies- until today! I have a dozen baking right now, straight from the freezer. Just put them in while the oven is pre-heating, and set the timer when the oven is hot (keep an eye on them, though- mine got done a little quicker than I had anticipated). Fresh, home-made cookies with the convenience of store-bought cookie dough!

[picture coming soolnds]

Salsa Pomodoro con Aglio e Cippola
Gianni: We Are Libya

Tonight's endeavour was a lovely pasta sauce. I made an epic amount of it so I can bring pasta to school (I have several seven-hour days, and much of the food at the student center cafeteria is inedible and expensive).

I started with a whole small-medium yellow onion, diced, and... several? cloves of garlic. (I'm a garlic fiend who's also mildly allergic and pasta sauce is the easiest way to get my fix).

Note on garlic, which you may or may not know: the nutrients in garlic come out in fuller force when it's crushed before cooking. Using a large sheepfoot or other broad knife, lay the blade on top of the garlic, and with the heel of your hand, crush it into oblivion on the cutting board. It makes it easier to then slice it into manageable strips.

I also cut the two beautiful Roma tomatoes up top into medium-sized dice, with the skins on, and opened two cans of store-bought tomato paste and two cans of store-bought Italian-style diced tomatoes (basically, they include a bit of basil, garlic, and oregano).

Garlic and onions in a pan, yes sir, they are not that pretty really.Collapse )

Put the diced onion and the garlic in a pan, put the pan on the stove, and set the burner to medium. Put in a quantity of olive oil (I am of the humble opinion that more is better when it comes to olive oil) and let it sit where it is till it starts to sizzle.

Watch the onions and garlic and stir them to make sure they don't stick and burn. Once the onions start to go translucent, toss the fresh diced tomatoes in. If you're adding wine, this is the time to do it so the alcohol cooks off. Add about a tablespoon or two of a nice red (I used a Merlot, which is terribly Italian of me, don't you know).

Wait for the onions to go totally translucent and the tomatoes to shrink a bit, and then put in the tomato paste and canned diced tomatoes. I added about half a cup of water. You may want to add salt (I used a lovely sea salt). I also added about a tablespoon of dried basil and... a liberal amount of balsamic vinegar.

Sauce in a pan... gee, it's red.Collapse )

I like thick sauces, so I let it reduce, but it can be eaten as soon as it heats up. To reduce it, I turned the heat up to medium-high and continued to stir it (with a silicone spatula, which is clearly an angel in the form of a kitchen utensil) until it thickened to the consistency I wanted.

You guys, I just like the steam lines.Collapse )

I served the sauce over small shell pasta with Galaxy vegan Parmesan.

It's very difficult to flatter pasta sauce when your camera won't take non-flash photos. I assure you it tasted very very good.Collapse )

Microwave Cuisine
Gianni: We Are Libya
Greetings everyone! This is the first installment of vegan_october. We would have started on the first, but we were... indisposed.

Today we're talking about microwaves. They're awesome in ways many never realised.

Way the first: baked potatoes. Nevermind waiting for them to bake in the oven!

Rinse them (scrub them with a produce brush if you want); stab them on two sides (or all sides) with a fork three or four times, and toss them in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate. Cook them for a time, then turn them over and nuke them for a time longer, according to size. After the second time has run out, set a large bowl over the plate, or wrap the potatoes in aluminum foil. Let sit for four minutes or so, then unwrap (carefully) and serve. Optionally, roll them in a bit of Kosher salt after you've rinsed them and cook them that way.

I arrived at these (approximate) times using an 1100-watt microwave, which apartment42b says is "powered by the fires of hell."

Size/time chart:
1 potato, size of a tennis ball: 2 minutes on first side; 2 on second side.
1 potato, size of a 12-oz soda can: 3 minutes on first side; 2.5 on second side.
1 potato, size of a 16.9-oz soda bottle: 3.5 minutes on first side; 3 on second side.
2 potatoes, both size of tennis balls: 3 minutes on first side; 2.5 on second side.
2 potatoes, both size of 12-oz soda cans: 4 minutes on first side; 3.5 on second side.
2 potatoes, both size of 16.9-oz soda bottles: 4.5 minutes on first side; 3.5 on second side.

Way the second: cheapest microwave popcorn in the history of Ever. Put 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, and fold the top of the bag over as securely as you can. Put it in the microwave. Run it for about ninety seconds (ymmv), and you have delicious corny goodness.

Alternately, you can put a teaspoon or so of your favourite oil in the bag with the kernels-- but be careful, as the oil will soak through the bag, and if it sticks to anything undesirable, that undesirable thing WILL go in the microwave. Once upon a time, apartment42b and I put olive oil in the bag and threw it in the microwave. Unbeknownst to us, stuck to the bottom of the bag was a bit of foil. And suddenly there was a brzzzzzzzzt-WHOOSH! sound in the microwave, and FIRE. So be careful what sticks to oily paper bags!

Way the third: steamed artichokes. They're revolutionary to many people. They're kind of a pain in the neck to make, but they are frighteningly good and take very little time, comparatively speaking.

Cut the stem off at the base of the leaves. Rinse the artichoke thoroughly, pulling apart the leaves a bit. Drain off about three fourths of the water and set each artichoke in a microwave-safe bowl.

Pour approximately 1.5tsp lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit juice into the center of the artichoke.

Wrap the artichoke and the bowl together in saran wrap/cling wrap. You will have to use quite a bit of the stuff. Since you are essentially steaming the artichokes, if the steam escapes from the cling wrap, the leaves of the artichoke will dry out and curl up, and the heart will be less than optimally tender.

The cooking time will vary widely depending on the size.

The artichokes I made for this evening's show and tell were about the size of softballs, and had dense leaves. For two of this approximate size, in a 1100-watt microwave, I went with ten minutes at full power.

Within the last week or so, we had some huge ones-- each about the size of a small melon-- and I put two in for twenty minutes. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Served here with melted Earth Balance original with garlic salt to taste.