Sunday, April 30, 2006

Drunken Chocolate Cupcakes

This weekend was the absolute pits when it came to baking.

My goal was to whip up a batch of cupcakes from a veganized version of this beer-cake recipe, but that failed miserably when half-way through the baking cycle, the cupcakes fell, ending up looking like pitted teenage acne.

I blame the Brits. The recipe was originally written using the *good god why?!?!?!* metric system. I double-checked, and all my conversions were accurate. So I'm not sure why this baking adventure turned out so miserably--that makes it even more irritating, not knowing why the hell you f-ed up. I should've taken a picture, but in my disgust, I didn't think of it until every single last cupcake was tanked in the garbage.

VERDICT: F (for Fucking Brits! Kidding kidding. =)

Instead, I whipped up a batch of the faustess cupcakes recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. Thankfully these worked out a bit better, though I still had a couple of complaints: they were small cupcakes, and they stuck to the sides of the little cupcake paper-cups, despite me spraying oil on them. Meh.

I frosted them, however, with the chocolate stout icing recipe from the worlds worst Brit cupcakes ever. Instead of using 50-55% cocoa solids, I used semi-sweet morsels (not sure what the ratio is on those). I recommend substituting out some of the sugar in the recipe if you choose to do this... They came out sweet sweet:

For the icing:
  • 1/2 c. icing sugar, sifted

  • 1/4 c. soft vegan butter

  • 2 tablespoons stout

  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate (50-55% cocoa solids)

  • 1/8 c. walnut pieces, finely chopped

  • Did I mention that I was trying to bake these cupcakes for a friend's birthday? Yeah. So when they kept getting f-ed up, color me upset.

    I *did* decorate them with (well-cleaned) beer caps though, which was fun.


    Not super-satisfied, I decided to whip up a batch of the Best Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies EVER!, but color my day suck-ass, because somehow or another, they didn't expand in the oven like the first time round (they stayed the same tiny size) and they came out completely dry and tasting weirdly flavorless and cocoa-y. Yet again, I have no clue why seeing as they were yumtastic just a few days ago--the only thing I can think of is that a) it's all about the soy milk (the original recipe calls for just water, but I used soy milk the first time around when they came out yumtastic) or b) I f-ed up the first time around in my favor and used baking soda instead of baking powder--I'm not sure about this but will have to experiment.


    I think I may need a couple weeks off of baking.

    You heard me.

    Whole-Wheat Pancakes and Fake Sausage Hash

    I've had 1/2 cup of wheat germ sitting in my fridge for over a month (courtesy of the lovely Ms. Lantz), so I finally got my ass in gear and tracked down a recipe so that I could use it already. It was a toss-up between some peanut-butter wheat germ cookies and the wheat germ pancakes I finally settled on. (I like hearty breakfasts on Sunday lately.)


    Anyways, I whipped these up using vegan substitutes, and despite my worries about them being too doughy, they turned out quite tasty and hearty. As I've said before, I like my pancakes girthy, and they definitely had that going for them. And they were a tad bit salty which I like as well. I also whipped together a blueberry-maple syrup that was mmm mm good: just use one part maple syrup to 2 parts blueberries, boil over low heat, and once boiled, blend them up (I left a little bit of the blueberries chunky because I likes them like that).

    RECIPE: Here (you can use regular wheat flour instead of the pastry flour, and find your vegan buttermilk substitute HERE)



    On the side, I whipped up some of my very own sausage hash. I fried up half of a diced onion, a diced red pepper, and some rosemary with a bit of olive oil. Then I tossed (or maybe more aptly SMOOSHED) in some Gimme Lean fake-sausage). The fake-sausage is a bit messy to handle if you're aiming for crumbles--it seems a bit more geared towards making sausage patties due to its stickiness--but just toss it in and break it up some with a fork as it cooks and starts to harden. This was *damn* good, especially with the fresh rosemary from Rosie my rosemary plant. *And* it's not too bad for you, especially compared to regular sausage.


    So despite my later frustrating escapades with baking, this ended up being a damn tasty breakfast.

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    Angel Hair with Asparagus and Tomatoes

    E made us Angel Hair with Asparagus and Tomatoes Friday night and, despite his complaints, it was very good, so I figured I'd post it here, including his caveats with the recipe.

    RECIPE: Here

    Caveats: He thought that it could've used double the amount of sauce/veggies for the same quantity of pasta. I concur, so if you venture into trying it, you may want to keep that in mind.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    The Best Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies EVER!

    This is, most definitely, the *best* vegan cookie recipe I've stumbled across so far, and I had my doubts, given that they were self-named the "Best Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies EVER!" It's hard not to be skeptical when a cookie is just so goddamn boastful.

    Anyways, they are very simple to make. They are ooey gooey, rich, and scrumptious. And the raw dough is fricking addictive. Holy mother of god. It was like a tractor beam kept pulling me back to the mixing bowl. The only alteration I made to the recipe was to use soy milk instead of water--I figured it'd make them taste just a wee bit richer.

    I highly recommend this recipe, especially if you want to make folks go, "Oh my god, these are *VEGAN*?!?!"

    One Russian taste-tester said (squinting suspiciously at his second cookie before eating it):

    "They don't look pretty, but they taste really good."

    I thought they were kinda photogenic (see above pic) with a waif-like model-esque beauty akin to that of Kate Moss. But clearly that's just me.



    Half-Assed Strawberry-Avocado Salad

    I rarely blog about my lunches because quite frankly, they usually suck. But this was pretty good...

    • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing (just some oil and balsamic vinegar thrown in together)

    • Diced up strawberries left to sit in the salad dressing overnight

    • Chopped up spinach

    • Walnuts

    • One dreamy avocado, scooped out seductively with each bite

    Throw it all together. Eat. Marvel at the wonder that is the avocado. And then blog a little letter to it later, telling it how you feel:

    Avocado, you rock my world. You make me tingle. You are sexy and smooth and suave and a bit feisty. You are the Strokes of the fruit world. I wanna marry you and have your babies. We will make sweet sweet glorious love for all the world to see because they're naughty like that too. Avocado, I heart you.

    Seriously though, eating avocado always makes me feel naughty (and the combination of juicy, dripping strawberries didn't help any). I swear to you, it is the only food that actually has an aphrodisiacal (is that a word?) effect on me--sooooooooooooooo not good in the workplace. But if you ever wanna woo me into the sack, all you've gotta do is spend $1 at the Westside Market and you've got yourself a good start.

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    Calling All Substitutions!

    I've been digging on the whole notion of being able to bake (and cook) from scratch, especially now that I've got a lot of staples down. However, sometimes you run outta syrup, and you need to figure out how to substitute in some other sort of sweetener. Or you don't have Ener-G Egg Replacer, so you find yourself wondering what to use for eggs instead. And then you realize you need to pull a MacGuyver (using a toothpick, a paperclip, and some wire to create a fully functional blender), but how to do so? Wonder no more.

    Egg replacers!


      1 egg =
      1 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer + 2 T warm water =
      1/4 c. tofu =
      2 T water + 1 T oil + 2 t baking powder =
      1 T ground flax seed in 3 T water =
      2 T water + 2 t baking powder

    In baking of cakes and other sweets
      1 egg =
      1 banana =
      1/4 c. applesauce

    Egg Whites
      1 egg white=
      1 T plain agar powder in 1 T water... whip, chill, whip again

      1 c. sugar =
      1/2-1/3 c. maple syrup (reduce liquid in recipe by 1/4 c.) =
      1/2 c. molasses =
      1 3/4 c. packed powdered sugar =
      1 c. brown sugar (slight difference in taste) =
    Honey substitutions:
      1 c. honey = 1 1/4 c. sugar + 1/4 c. more of liquid

      2 t. of tamari = 1 T. of soy sauce

    Make Your Own!

    Make your own powdered sugar:
      2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. cornstarch--food process the shit out of it

    Make your own brown sugar:

      1 c. light brown sugar = 1 c. granulated sugar + 1/2 T molasses
      1 c. dark brown sugar = 1 c. granulated sugar + 1/4 c. molasses

    Make your own vegan "buttermilk":
      2 t. lemon juice or white vinegar per c. soymilk (*and* it's called "clabbering"--how cool is that?)

    Other Fantastical Substitutions:

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Junk in Your Trunk Salsa Chili-Soup

    I love this recipe. God bless Kristen for introducing it to me. It is simple, just requires opening up cans and jars and dumping them into a pot, and is damn good. It also is nice because it can help you clean out the fridge and your shelves of all the random shit that's been sitting there for a while but that you haven't had a chance to use up (You happen to have a random old can of squash that's been sitting on your shelf since 1993? Throw it in! Some weird artichokes that will mold soon if you don't use 'em? Plop them in theres!).

    General Ingredients:

    Small can of black beans (drained)
    Small can of kidney beans (drained)
    Small can of some other kind of beans (I used white) (drained)
    Small can of corn (drained)
    1 jar of your favorite salsa
    1 large can of stewed tomatoes
    1 red pepper
    Green onions

    Some add-ons:
    Roasted red pepper (left-over)
    Lots and lots o' cayenne pepper (until it was nice and spicy)
    Some red pepper
    About a teaspoon and a half's worth of cocoa

    Directions: Dump all of the above into a slow-cooker or into a large pot on the stove. Cook.

    This is a really tasty recipe, especially if you pick out a decent salsa. It makes a particularly good summer-chili, as it's not heavy or dense at all, moreso just light and verging on a soup. And it's healthy (no oil!) and dirt cheap: total ingredients cost me probably somewhere in the $7 range, and it yields about 6-8 servings worth (which is a whole week's worth of eating). And it has a billion uses: soup, chili, use only one can of stewed tomatoes and it could pass as enough salsa to feed a small army. Also tasty topped with fritos (yep, they's vegan).

    Verdict: A

    Strawberry-Chocolate Crepes

    Sunday morning, I had a hankering for grub, and given that I'd gotten some fresh strawberries from the market on Friday, I decided to whip up some strawberry crepes.

    The crepes recipe is from The Garden of Vegan and is a simple but good one (as I'd mentioned before). The rest was my invention. E sliced up all my strawberries, and I threw some semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small saucepan with some soy milk on low, we stuffed the fresh crepes with the strawberries and drizzled the chocolate on top, and *voila*, strawberry crepes. Simple and delicious--a nice change in pace from the previous night's meal.

    Verdict: A

    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    Tempeh Loaf and Taters

    This weekend was my weekend to cook, so I decided to try out this loaf I'd been eyeing for a while and then settled on some good ol'-fashioned (almost) scalloped potatoes as a side.

    Prepping this dinner made me realize that one of the basic standards I have for cooking is that things should be tasty but not take gratuitously long to cook. Unfortunately, this took me 2 hours--just to prep! I suspect it was partially just bad planning on my part--both were a bit more complicated of recipes, and were I cooking each on their own, they might not have seemed quite so complicated and time-consuming. But together, they took ridiculously long to prepare, and given that it was nice outside and I was inside lurching around a kitchen, they reduced me to a whiny mess of a cook.

    The problem is, while I may have enjoyed one or the other dishes on their own, given the amount of time I spent on them, they really should've tasted like manna. But they didn't...

    Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Layered Tempeh Loaf

    (No, this picture was not taken in the 1970's--my
    house is just VERY dark and un-camera-friendly at night.)

    This recipe makes not one but *two* loafs. Unfortunately, I was unable to enjoy this perk upon realizing that one of my packages of tempeh was moldy. Meh. Bad start.

    This loaf ended up being perhaps the busiest set of instructions I've had in preparing a meal. I like short and sweet and simple, I've realized. Once everything was situated, it was fun making the actual loaf itself: smooshing and wedging and jamming it into a loaf pan.

    The results tasted strangely similar to a good meatloaf, but with roasted red pepper and spinach housed within. Not bad, and definitely makes for good leftovers. But next time I'd use more spinach.

    Recipe: HERE

    Verdict: B

    "Cheesy" Potato Casserole

    (Worst picture ever--*sigh*)

    Recipe: HERE

    As for the taters, the cooking time was *way* off in this recipe--supposedly these took only 1 hour total time. But they were in my oven for at least and hour and a half, and the taters were STILL hard. Despite that complaint, the cheesy sauce did not taste too different from your standard scalloped potato cheesiness despite being vegan (perhaps a tad bit more bitter)--I was impressed in that regard. And these were *fantastique* upon microwaving (because it finally cooked the hard potatoes all the way through). My recommendation: plan on at *least* an hour and a half of cooking time.

    Verdict: B (Leftovers: A)

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

    ~ from Sinfully Vegan

    Made these for my mum for her birthday.

    These are the strangest and most disturbing peanut butter cookies I suspect I've ever made, mainly because they shun anything remotely healthy: no soy milk, no egg replacer, nothing. They are made of peanut butter, oil, vanilla, sweetener, and flour. Fucked up.

    I ran out of maple syrup so I had to substitute in some sugar instead (with my handy-dandy keenness for substitutions as of late). They came out good, though perhaps a bit dry and not as sweet as my sweet-tooth is fond of.

    Verdict: B

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies (Revisited)

    And finally, I whipped up some Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies again from Vegan with a Vengeance for the Easter gathering as well (and decided to take pictures this time). Normally, I like to try out new stuff instead of rebaking something I've recently made, but when it comes to making stuff for gatherings, normally you kinda want to stick with what you know works instead of risking making something that tastes like poo in a sweat-sock. And these were tasty-ass cookies the first time around.

    For some reason though, this second time the cookies were much more difficult to work with and a lot slimier--I don't know if it's because I doubled the recipe the first time I made them and somehow something somewhere did something that it didn't do this time around or what the hell. They still came out tasting light and fluffy and good, but they were a bit of a pain-in-the-ass to make.

    The cookie featured in the picture above is named Roger. He's a cute lil' bugger.

    Verdict: A/A-

    Morning Sunshine Pancakes

    (I think that's what they were called.)

    Upon completely burning the walnuts that I was supposedly just "roasting," E was kind enough to run out to the grocery store and pick some more up for me. I decided to whip up some pancakes for the two of us while he was gone (and since he was nice enough to run out due to my stupidity). I used the recipe from The Lantern Vegan Family Cookbook, and it was probably my favorite vegan pancake recipe that I've used so far. I used half wheat and half white flour, and the pancakes turned out really thick and hearty (which is how I like me some pancakes). They had a lot of girth and a lot of "meat" to them. *Waggling eyebrows suggestively* Anyways, for the last couple, I threw in chocolate chips, and mother of god ARGHLGHLGHLHGLGHLGHLHGL, lemme tell you. Definitely a damn good pancake recipe. I recommend.

    Verdict: A

    Pesto Rice Salad

    On Sunday morning, I made this pesto rice salad I found on the internet for an Easter gathering I was attending. After my success with the pesto recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, I used that in place of the pesto recipe that came with the rice salad recipe. The dish is a fairly easy one to make, and it's perfect to take to gatherings or parties because it can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. So it doesn't matter if it sits out all afternoon, and you don't need to reheat it before serving it. Room temperature seems to be its ideal condition though, as it seems to bring out all of the flavors.

    It is a fairly tasty dish as is, I'd just recommend doubling the quantities of roasted red peppers and walnuts.


    Verdict: B+

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Banana Walnut Cranberry Almond Cookies

    I've realized that I tend to enjoy cooking most when I'm stressed out, upset, or in a frazzled mood where I just need to distract myself. Perhaps this is why I've been such a cooking fiend the past month or so. There is something very soothing (and very easily distracting) about moving around your kitchen and using your arm muscles to chop and dice and mix and mold food--the kinesthetic nature of the actions is perhaps what attracts me to it and makes me wanna cook when I'm fidgety and too distracted to just sit down and read or something. Movement is good. Friday was such a case.

    Mid-afternoon, after having had my cat foam at the mouth upon eating something weird out on my roof and after having walked home from the Westside Market in the beautiful gorgeous sun only to tank about $6 worth of groceries when my bag broke and smashed onto the sidewalk, I was really in need of burning off some kinesthetic energy. So voila--Banana Walnut Cranberry Almond Cookies. Really, I was just lazy and didn't have the sunflower seeds to just make the regular Banana Sunflower Seed Cookies I'd made on a prior occasion, so instead, I just threw in what I happened to have around and wanted to use up--some dried cranberries, a smidgen of almonds, and some walnuts. They were good, but they most definitely could've used more cranberries because the taste got a bit lost amidst the bananas and nuts due to the fairly small quantity I had on hand. This is a nice, light cookie recipe though, which can easily be played with a billion times over by adding different sorts of items instead of sunflower seeds. Not recommended: feces, pushpins, toenails. Unless you're into that.

    Verdict: B/C

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake-Wannabes

    ~ adapted from a recipe from Vive La Vegan

    Verdict: B

    Comments: This recipe makes chocolate peanut butter squares. But I have yet to suck it up and buy a brownie-sized pan. So instead, I made the recipe in a muffin pan for 12 individual little ploppy poops of chocolatey-peanut butter goodness. For once, I cooked the recipe too LONG instead of too SHORT. I was gonna take them out at 10 minutes (instead of 15 which the recipe called for), given the change in pans. But since I always error on too short, I left them in. They are a bit too crunchy and dry on the bottom because of it. I also had no sugar to work with last night, so I substituted in the rest of my powdered sugar instead of the regular sugar called for in the peanutbutter filling--I suspect the recipe from the book yields thicker and sweeter filling. All in all, they came out ok enough that I ate three of them in one sitting last night--*sigh*. Next time I'm gonna suck it up and buy a brownie pan though. And some sugar.

    Ooey Gooey Grilled Cheese Sammiches

    ~ from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

    Verdict: B/C

    Comments: Much more successful than the block cheeses I've attempted, but still not all that. The main jist of the recipe is nutritional yeast, water, cornstarch, tahini, ketchup, and flour, with an assortment of spices thrown in for good measure. It was ooey and gooey and definitely had the feel of a grilled cheese sandwich. But the ratio of lemon juice in it was WAY too high--every bite was chock full of uncalled-for lemony goodness, which just ain't right in a grilled cheese. With a little bit of work, I suspect this could eventually become an A sammich.

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Lauren's Procrastination Mango Muffins

    Verdict: B

    Comments: I was procrastinating in an attempt to avoid doing more important things I needed to do (and I had leftover mango from my crepe (mis)adventure, so I baked these muffins, modified from a pumpkin-muffin recipe. I realized I didn't have enough sugar so, being too lazy to go to the grocery store, I just put in as much as I had handy and then sprinkled brown sugar on top. I figured the mango was probably sweeter than pumpkin, so perhaps it'd make up for the sugar. It didn't really, but they still tasted flavorful for the most part. I recommend adding in some actual mango-chunks though.


    1 c. white flour
    3/4 c. wheat flour
    1 c. pureed mango (here's where I'd add in some diced)
    1 tbsp baking powder
    some salt
    1 1/4 c. vegan sugar (this is how much you *should* use--I only used a bit shy of 1 c.)
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp ginger
    1/2 c. soy milk
    1/2 c. vegetable oil
    2 tbsp molasses
    brown sugar to sprinkle on top

    DIRECTIONS: Mix wet ingredients in one bowl. Mix dry in the other. Dance around and sing to your cats instead of working on stuff you need to have done for tomorrow. Lightly oil a 12-muffin pan. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Toss some brown sugar on top of each to taste. Toss into the oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes (or until knife pulls out of muffins cleanly). Sit and stare as they bake.

    Black Bean Mango Crepes w/ Roasted Red Potatoes

    Verdict: C+

    Comments: Upon being told by a fellow vegan that mangos were in season at the moment, I nabbed myself some at the WSM this weekend and decided to try experimenting with them. I used the crepes recipe from The Garden of Vegan (which ended up working out real nice, despite being eggless). I then sauteed half of a diced Spanish onion in a skillet, 1 diced jalapeno, and then threw in a small can of black beans. I then simmered it all in a small amount of apple juice. In the meantime, I boiled some cubed red potatoes, threw them in a baking dish with some diced onions, olive oil, rosemary, season salt, and paprika and baked them for 20 minutes to have as a side. Once the crepes were all cooked up, I stuffed each crepe with the black-bean mix, threw in a hearty batch of mango, tossed some shredded cilantro inside, rolled 'em and cowed down. They were not as joyously flavorful as I would've liked--I didn't want to add too many spices to the beans because I feared overpowering the mangos. But the mangos, in fact, ended up overpowering the beans. So next time, I suspect I will make them fiery and spicy, to counteract the sweetness of the mangos. The crepe recipe was very good--I just need to work on the insides.

    Poached Pears Stuffed with Cranberries and Almonds

    ~ from The Candle Cafe Cookbook

    Verdict: B

    Comments: I cooked these at 12:30 am, after having just finished watching three hours worth of The Godfather. God bless E for putting up with my strange cooking habits. Anyways, they were fun and easy to make, made my apartment smell *wonderful* with the scent of cinnamon sticks and simmering pears. However, they were a bit anti-climactic in taste. It could've just been that I was eating them at 1 am and a bit tired, but I wasn't as bowled over as I'd expected. They would make a nice light end to an autumn meal though. Next time: bigger pears and fresh cranberries (they only had dried at the market).

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Vegan Truffles

    ~ from The Peta Celebrity Cookbook

    Verdict: A

    Comments: Made these for a work-friend as a birthday present. Very simple recipe but very yummy. Can find a close variation on it HERE (just use 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of their measurements and voila). I've never had NON-vegan truffles before but was told that a seasoned truffle-eater would not be able to tell the difference. If you roll them in cocoa, however, I suggest using a sweetened kind or mixing it with sugar, otherwise they're a tad bit bitter.

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Lascivious Lasagna

    (This is a pic of the leftovers.)

    Verdict: A

    Recipe: HERE

    Comments: I didn't cook this--E did, because he rocks like that (and it was his weekend to cook). I was impressed by how much the "meat"-concoction actually had the flavor of a spicy italian lasagna-meat. This recipe was *very very good* and I look forward to having it again--the only thing I would do different with it in the future would be to double up the quantites of "ricotta" and "meat." I like me some ooey gooey stuffed-to-the-brim lasagna. =)

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

    Lots o' fricking cooking this weekend...

    ~ from Vegan With a Vengeance

    Verdict: A

    Comments: I initially intended to top these (or sandwich these) with a cream-cheese glaze (that was SO fucking good) from Sinfully Vegan, but after realizing the glaze never actually hardens (isn't that what glazes are supposed to do?) and after trying to thicken it up with flour only to have it taste super-pasty, I canned that idea (which was unfortunate b/c it meant pitching it down the drain since there was nothing else I could use it on). So instead, I ended up cooking half the cookies *without* thumbprints and half with. And instead of adding the jam (or in my case, the raspberry preserves) half-way through the cooking cycle, I did it after they'd cooled. I put it in the thumbprints on half of them and then the other half I made cookie sammiches out of, using two cookies and cementing them together with the preserves. Mmmm mmm fricking good. Definitely aim for raspberry preserves, b/c ain't NOTHING better than chocolate and raspberries. Oh, but be forewarned--the recipe says it yields about two dozen cookies, but I made a double-batch and, even having strictly measured out the cookies with a tablespoon as directed, it only yieleded about 30 (when it should've made 48). They were still good, but keep this in mind if you're hoping to make a ton.

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    Isa Pizza

    Cooked for E and Mo this weekend--Mo made orgasmy noises the whole time she was eating. Hee hee.

    ~ from Vegan With a Vengeance

    Verdict: A

    Comments: Best pesto recipe I've yet made, hand's down, which is even more impressive because it's absolutely and positively vegan. This pizza has homemade crust and homemade tomato sauce on it (next time I'm making my own recipe though because my only complaint was that the sauce was too watery), and it's topped with homemade pesto (A+), tofu ricotta "cheese" (B), and kalamata olives and (in my cheap-ass creminis-are-too-expensive case) baby bellas. The recipe makes two 14-inchers, and they were really damn good.

    Baked Walnutty Greenbeans

    ~ from The Lantern Vegan Family Cookbook

    Verdict: B

    Comments: These were definitely good though they don't receive an A simply because I cooked them along with the pizza at a much higher temperature than they warranted which effectively dried them way the fuck out. They would've been yum-tastic though, what with their sweet rice vinegar, oil, and thyme juices and the walnuts thrown on top...

    No-Bake Black-Bottom Peanut Butter Silk Pie

    ~ from Vegan With a Vengeance

    Verdict: A-

    Comments: Again--agar agar, I hate you. Although I didn't make my own crust (I couldn't locate vegan chocolate cookies at my grocery store so I just ended up buying a premade vegan cookie crust which weirdly enough they *did* have), I did make the rest of the pie as the directions stated. My only complaint so far with this cookbook is that a) sometimes the directions aren't as specific as I'd like--in this one, she said the agar agar/water mixture should be reduced down to about 1/3 of a cup after ten minutes of boiling; she says to add this 1/3 cup to the mixture after adding the other 2/3 c. of soy milk, creating 1 cup's-worth of liquids. The problem was that the agar agar made clearly about 2/3 a cup after being boiled for ten minutes, so I had no clue whether to add it all (and risk it being too runny), continue to boil the shit outta it, or add 1/3 of the liquid yielded. I did the latter. b) Also, Isa doesn't specify whether something calls for flakes or powder--exactly the case with the agar agar and, in other recipes, the nutritional yeast. Three tablespoons of agar agar POWDER is completely different than 3 tablespoons of agar agar FLAKES, and this recipe didn't specify. Anyways, end result: a really scrumptious but completely formless pie. It *DID* firm up by the time I had some left-overs yesterday, but it took a very long time to set, and even then, it still was veering towards puddingishness. Tasty tasty though--silken peanutbutter pudding-esque insides topping a choc-filled choc-cookie crust. Mmm mmm. I should be shot for not taking pics of this meal.