Thursday, April 29, 2010

Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux (A Little Southern, A Little Chewy And Amazing!)

Finding yourself in a quandry when it comes to making the perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie can perplex even the best of vegan home cooks. Many have tried, many have failed. I am a skeptic by nature. But in this cookie you will find that yummy, chewy, down home, almost heaven-like chocolate chipper. This recipe now holds highest esteem in my kitchen chocolate chip-making-ness. I have so many, but swear to goodness, this one will win you over--even better on day two!
As I eat more. . . I couldn't help myself! (So thought a two-bite view was called for!)

I have a bit of a problem when it comes to cookbooks: I covet them! Cookbook display equals: stop in my tracks. Such was that case on Wednesday when I had a "few" items I needed to pick up from the store. This cute little bookstand was sitting next to the pears when I glanced down to see something new: Trisha Yearwood's Home Cooking. Just a side note--I don't own all vegan cookbooks--I'd worry I'd starve if I did. I draw vegan cooking inspiration from a plethora of cooking genres.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vegan Chef Tal Ronnen at Le Cordon Bleu St. Louis (And I was there. . . OMG!)

Is this a big deal to have one of the world's most famous vegan chefs come to St. Louis and be a guest instructor at Le Cordon Bleu? Yes!
Was Vegan Thyme on hand to enjoy this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Yes!
Was she nervous, star struck, sick in the morning with butterflies? Yes! Yes! And Yes!
First up, from Chef Tal's cookbook, The Conscious Cook, Gardein "Chicken" Scaloppini with Shitake Sake Sauce, Braised Pea Shoots, And Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes. Uh, this is the dish he made on Oprah! On Oprah!
Next up: Chef Tal with help from fellow Le Cordon Bleu cooking school students and other chefs, cooked up an amazing sample of his "Celery Root Soup with Granny Smith Apples". Heaven.
Chef Tal adding very teeny cuts of Granny Smith Apples as other chefs attend to pouring the soup samples for us to try into cups.
This was the sample of the Celery Root Soup with Granny Smith Apples (made with the chef's preferred "vegan cream" concocted from soaked, then pureed cashews). That gorgeous green oil would be this incredible "chive oil" he whipped up in a Vita Mixer for drizzling. (Okay for the one hundreth time, I really need to get one of those!) The creamy consistency of the celery root combined with the cashew cream, nearly knocked my socks off (and it was cold, so I had socks on!).
The kind chef signing copies of his cookbook.
I had to get another picture of the chef with one of the nicest students (they were all nice)--but she sat next to me and went up to get me a few "taste samples" because in all honesty, I was not comfortable being the "guest" of the school and taking food samples. She was very kind to do this for me! I had a conversation with her about "nooch" aka "nutritional yeast" as Chef Tal brought some out--stunned and surprised many. I explained that this is a vegan cook's best friend--even imparts a bit of umami flavor, used in vegan cheese-flavored dishes a lot . Did I just say "umami" to a future chef at Le Cordon Bleu? OMG!
Adorable little tortellinis Chef Tal made with several of the students. He stuffed these with an artichoke ricotta made from, what else, cashew cream. (There was not enough to go around, plus not enough time to cook, but note the yellow hue of the vegan pasta dough--accomplished egg free, but rather incorporated Palm Oil in the mixture to give it the egg yolk appeal. Brilliant!)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vegan Onion Burger on Reinhart's Kaiser Roll (Post Tornado: 5k Race Results Today for APA's Fast & Furriest!)

Diner food at it's best. There ain't a burger you can make with meat (ewww) that I can't make vegan. Go ahead, try me! Animals need not die. Vegans need not deny themselves! That Reinhart Kaiser Roll should have had more sesame seeds and poppy seeds, but I sort of lost 'em as I was juggling the burger bun. It's okay--this burger was pure diner grub heaven--with baked fries on the side. What's not to love?
Whew. Where to begin? Okay, so if you live under a rock, you may not have noticed that the Midwest was socked with some pretty fierce weather yesterday. Here in St. Louis, some communities sustained more storm damage than others. We were lucky. It could have been much worse.

If you've ever read the book, Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg (btw, I loved this book)--Vegan Thyme could write a book called: Kelly's Sense of Storms. I grew up in Indiana--just off Lake Michigan. Our home was struck by lightening twice when I was growing up. I have a vivid memory of one of the holes left in the corner of our house, my grandma holding my sister and I close, calling the fire department to put out the smoking left over from the strike. And we did not live in a big house, so don't imagine this as some cavernous dwelling with us on one side of the "great room". The friggin hole was like an arm's length distance from where we sat, I swear.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spear Me! Vegan Asparagus Pasta Toss 1-2-3 (Why I Vegan Blog)

I can barely stand watching the spring asparagus slowly go from "Isn't it lovely" to "OMG--call the produce police and pull that out NOW!" So I found a bundle of spears that were calling me to put them to good use and together with some chopped onions, fennel, mushrooms and vegan Italian sausage made for a ridiculously yummy meal! I hope my step-by-step photos will entice you to give this vegan pasta a go!
So first, saute the onions, 6 cloves of minced garlic, chopped fennel bulb and added last (to preserve their "crunch")--the asparagus spears--all cooked in some olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried Italian herbs, then add a bit of lemon zest, white cooking wine, veggie stock and some arrowroot slurry and you are nearly done! Meanwhile, the pasta you work with is up to you--I just use whatever's in the pantry.
I like to cook my 'shrooms separately--in a mixture of Earth Balance Butter and a dash of balsamic vinegar. And then leave them alone for about fifteen minutes.
I sliced up and browned some vegan Italian Sausage--again, by itself, then you add this to the pasta dish when you are ready to serve. So we had a few more dishes to wash, but totally worth giving this dish a pan for each part--just enlist some kitchen patrol help.

I am not a famous vegan blogger. I consider myself one of the lucky fools who dithers away tirelessly on her laptop for no other reason then to entertain herself. Well, that and keep track of vegan food stuffs from my very humble, small kitchen. Plus, I am not really a joiner. I run. I am dog mom. I garden. I knit. I read. I cook. I spend time with hubby. I march to the beat of my own drum. The only "we" that applies there is the part with the hubby and dogs. You know that saying, Do what you love, the rest will follow? What "rest"? I made it clear in my introduction to Vegan Thyme nearly a year ago, Hey, cooking is something I do every single day--thus, I thought a blog might be fun (because, let's be honest, there isn't a whole lot of anything else I do everyday that most people would find even remotely interesting to read about. Maybe some, but few.) That's not the point, the point was, I stumbled into this quite by accident, and had no expectations of it whatsoever. And personally, I found that whole "Profile" stuff I had to create a bit off-putting. So you readers of Vegan Thyme are the rare few who may find a snippet of "more personal" information scattered throughout these pages, but please don't ever think you can go to my "Profile" and learn all there is to know of Vegan Thyme--you won't.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vegan Yellow Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting (Happy Earth Day & The Ultimate Lawn Mower)

Vegan Thyme: Vegan Yellow Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting (Happy Earth Day & The Ultimate Lawn Mower)

This cake has earned a spot in the Vegan Thyme cake rotation for sure! This is my fourth attempt at getting a vegan yellow cake that I liked to turn out. I have a great love for cake that bakes up in one layer: a 9 x 13 pan! I keep my cakes covered and can usually snack on them for a week or until my cake craving subsides, whichever comes first!
This was the vegan yellow cake after one night!
Serioulsy, I use this to mow an acre. . . of hills no less! But I love it! They got in three at my Home Depot--people looked at me like I was crazy when I was trying it out in the store (mostly old men who had not-so-fond memories of the Edsel and other motorized failures of their time). I bought this push mower because I like to mow my grass at 7:00 a.m.--this way I don't disturb the neighbors, have peace and quiet, can hear the birds and sort of meditate while mowing. Whereas before with my "goliath" motorized lawn mower, the peace and tranquility thing flies right out the window! And even better--it is the most "green" way I can think of to mow your lawn!
My irises. They are lovely.
My first asparagus sprout! From "alien roots and stems" to this beautiful first shoot--see the baby shoot coming up next to it? I am so excited about this asparagus thingy I have to look forward to!

In my "before vegan" life (but vegetarian at the time) I would keep at least one of every kind of box cake mix on hand. At any given moment you might find: yellow cake mix, chocolate cake mix, German chocolate cake mix, white cake mix, lemon cake mix--and the list goes on. I was a huge fan of the boxed cake mixes. Why?
Well, first of all, in case you haven't noticed, I love cake. But second of all,  my secret weapon in all things cake was found in this lovely cookbook called: The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn. You might know her name and have seen her recipes in the newspaper from time to time. I just loved that cookbook. Back then, my cake cup runneth over.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Animal Cruelty/Freedom of Speech: The Supreme Court Got It Wrong!

Let me excercise my Freedom of Speech this morning. Seems the Supreme Court is all about this. Since my dogs are not able to take pen to paper, I feel it is my duty to take a moment to help educate others in what I think is one of the greatest steps backward we've ever witnessed. We are "devolving". And as I write this, Missouri has a vote pending in the senate called the Horse Slaughter Bill. If passed, Missouri would become the first state, and only state to pass a law making it "okay" to slaughter horses. (My senator has already received my letter of concern on this matter--and I've received a nice "note" back stating his consideration of my letter.) We live in a very precarious time.

I was incensed this morning as I read with disbelief an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (tucked nicely away on page A8, one column width, far right corner) which outlined the Supreme Court's 8-1 (thank you for your compassion Justice Samuel Alito) decision yesterday to overturn a law signed by former President Bill Clinton. The court has now, in their infinite wisdom, decided that the depiction of animal cruelty is something we need not protect ourselves from--that it, in and of itself, should be granted "freedom of speech" protection. Really?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bread Machine Olive Oil Pine Nut Bread (Wine to Me)

If I had to post only about bread from my bread machine, I would. I am not shy about saying so either. I know dough aficionados may cringe, but it's true. No muss. No fuss. Add ingredients. Press "start"--let the bread baking begin. (And look at me, heading out the door to work in my garden--what's not to love?!) It's convenient, it's on top of my counter, it sits, it waits patiently. I love my Bread Man Bread Machine from Target. (And no, that was not a paid ad--I don't do ads).

Sunday night is always a bit of a pickle with regard to "dinner" plans--especially this time of year. I am usually running crazy in the garden trying to get this or that project finished while I have the heavy arm of Mr. Thyme around to maybe lift this or that for me (pretty please!). I also had to plant 40 gladiola bulbs in a bed I had prepped for just such flowers back in March and was late in getting my "glads" in the ground. There is always stuff to do in the garden. So, I settled on soup for dinner--the kind of soup that comes in a bag with pre-mixed beans and pre-pak of seasonings--but I always add more--carrots, onion, garlic, celery, etc. (I am too lazy to mix my own soup beans.) And the kind that cooks on top of the stove for three hours and makes your house smell heavenly--from the screen porch all the way down to the veggie patch!


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