Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SusanV's Mexican Lasagna (or Enchilada Casserole)

Let me just preface this by saying that this recipe was cooked on Old-Guy-Neighbor Time. So I'm not sure precisely how long it was in the oven. I *CAN* verify that it was in for 30 minutes, and then another 15. But then it stayed in there another indiscernible amount of time, since Old Guy Neighbor managed to catch me out on the roof and engage me in conversation. So, when you go to bake this, think 45 minutes, plus a one-sided conversation about a) the loud noise that came from the street in the middle of the night that it's amazing I did not hear, b) what time the news is on, c) the string of cars owned throughout OGN's life, d) the onset of cold weather, and e) the fact that OGN cannot believe I don't ever smell the marijuana smoke wafting up from his downstairs neighbor (aka. Hot Guy Neighbor)'s apartment.

Other than that, this was a really good recipe. Again, I baked it in the inappropriately-sized pan, but somehow thought that if I perhaps bunched up some foil at the end of the pan, I could somehow transform the pan into a smaller pan (when in reality, the weight of the enchilada sauce just sorta tsunamiied the foil into the corner). But despite that fact, man, was this tasty, easy to make, and (I'd venture to say) very kid-friendly.

Oh, and as always, the lasagna looks a bit flaccid in the above picture, but it firms up if you refrigerate it overnight. *Insert naughty comments here*

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped (or you can use 1/2 green, 1/2 red)

  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (optional)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • corn tortillas--at least 12

  • 3 c. (28 oz.) fatfree refried beans

  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced

  • 1 t. chili powder, divided

  • 1/2 t. cumin, divided

  • 3 c. black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 c. salsa

  • 1 can enchilada sauce (or 1 1/2 cups homemade)

  • sliced black olives


Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a non-stick pan with a little water (1 tbsp.), sauté the peppers, garlic, and onion for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Set aside.

Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom with a layer of tortillas (you may cut some of them to fit). Make sure you cover the entire bottom of the pan.

Stir the refried beans and spread half of them evenly over the tortillas. Cover the refried beans with half of the pepper-onion mixture and half of the tomatoes; sprinkle with half of the seasonings and half of the black beans.

Add another layer of tortillas and repeat the layers of the other ingredients. Spread the cup of salsa over the final layer of black beans. Cover with a final layer of tortillas, pour the enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle with black olives. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until hot throughout (I cooked mine 45+ minutes). It will be easier to cut if you allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Note: Fresh corn is a great addition to this. I use about 2 cups of uncooked (or frozen) corn and add it as one more layer. You may need a deeper pan, though.

(Recipe from The FatFree Vegan)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ah, Distraughtness!

So I wanted to give the very delightful and hugely generous Nicole a shout-out today, because last week when I was feeling rather cranky, I returned home from work to find a care package from her in my mailbox that cheered me right the hell up. Not only did it hold in it the Kate Nash cd she had told me she wanted to mail me (and omg if I'm not totally smitten with her music now--hee hee--check out her Foundations video HERE), but it held all sorts of other goodies in it as well.

Wherein lies the distraughtness, you are probably now wondering? Well the very delightful and hugely generous Nicole sent me her blog address which I was gonna post here and urge you all to check out, BUT I CAN'T SEEM TO ACCESS HER BLOG! (*tears of horror and frustration*) So, Nicole, when you read this, please leave a link to your blog in my comments so I can send folks in your direction. I don't know if I'm just a big freaky moron (which is most likely the case) but no matter how many variations I tried on the address you sent, none of them done worked. =(

Oh, and thank you thank you thank you, love. You are the sweetest thing ever.

[Addendum: Go check out Nicole's blog HERE! Do it!]

(The very delightful and very
generous Nicole's care package)

And as you all know, I have never really posted pics of myself here. I enjoy the secrecy (and the fact that I could look like a yeti crossed with Big Bird crossed with Gary Busey, and NONE OF YOU WOULD KNOW). But since you weirdos are often curious about what I actually look like (and since I had so much fun creating my Halloween costume from scratch), I share these gruesome pics with you today (and today only)--tomorrow they will be deleted.

My halloween costume (which was a zombie, if you couldn't tell) won me second place at my friend Mo's very fun-filled, very crazy, very kick-ass Halloween party, and for some reason it also (very disturbingly) got me WAY too many comments from people about how sexy I look. When you're completely covered in crusty corn-syrup blood with your entrails hanging out, that's not typically what you expect to hear, so I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or just horribly horribly disturbed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Oh, My Most Favorite of Holidays: How I Adore Thee

Since I'm sure Halloween celebrations are on the horizon for many of you this weekend, I bring you some Halloween-viewing recommendations and a reminder of my two favorite Halloween recipes (ok, one's not so much a recipe as it is directions on how to make the coolest ice cubes ever, but deal).


Bloody Finger Cookies

Spooky Hand Ice Cubes
(And gentle reminder: If you decide to make
these, make sure you don't accidentally buy those
vinyl gloves that have the powdered insides.)


Movies to Chill You to Your Very Core

And for the added bonus of being the world's best, most kick-ass feminist horror flick EVER

And on the gloriously campy horror-flick front (these are good ones to have playing in the background at your party)

Oh, and please, my peeps. Stop back in and post pics of your Halloween costumes next week! Halloween's my favorite holiday, so I'd LOVE to see some of the crazy shit you all come up with. =)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Eggplant Paprikash


Upon tackling a blog entry about SusanV's *DIVINE* fricking eggplant paprikash, I've realized that paprikash doesn't exactly invite a wealth of humor in talking about it.

So I preface my foré into paprikash humor with the following recommendation: This is a really really good recipe. (Thanks, Live It Up Vegan! for bringing it to my attention on your lovely bloggie blog.) I heart a good paprikash (it's the Hungarian blood in me), and this one does the trick and does it well. The eggplant is like sexy svelte buttery velvet after you've simmered it just right. And the sauce is rich and decadent, and nicely tops a tasty wide noodle. I *did* toy with the recipe a little, simply because vegan sour cream happened to be on sale at my grocery store this weekend, so anything asterisked has been altered from the original recipe.

And now the paprikash jokes:

Yo mama is so fat that she eats eggplant paprikash!

A man walks into a paprikash. *Ouch*

Why did the paprikash turn red? It saw the salad dressing.

Please, try to control your laughter, lest you get fired for being disruptive at work.

  • 1 large onion, halved and cut into thin wedges

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 T. paprika

  • 1/2 t. red pepper (optional)--I left this out since I didn't have it*

  • 1 t. salt (optional)

  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. eggplant (about 2 medium) cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 2 bell peppers, any color, sliced (I used red and green)

  • 1 c. vegetable broth

  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen Fire Roasted)

  • 1/8 t. Liquid Smoke flavoring

  • 1/2 to 3/4 c. vegan sour cream (or you can use the tofu sour cream recipe below)*--I ended up using 3/4 c. of sour cream simply because I think my eggplants may have been large rather than medium

Tofu Sour Cream:

  • 1/2 package (about 6 ounces) lite silken tofu

  • 1 T. lemon juice

  • 1/2 T. cashew butter or tahini

  • 1/4 t. salt (optional)


If using the tofu sour cream recipe, blend all of its ingredients until completely smooth, and set aside in the refrigerator until needed.

In a large, non-stick saucepan, sauté the onion in a small amount of water until it begins to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper (optional), and stir for one minute. Add the salt, eggplant, peppers, vegetable broth, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer until the eggplant is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

When the eggplant is done, check the seasonings and add more salt if necessary. Stir in the Liquid Smoke (optional) and the sour cream, and cook for another minute, until warmed through. Serve over pasta, rice, or dumplings.

Serves 4-8 (this made a BUTTLOAD for me--left me with dinners for over a week--so I think it'll depend on how big your eggplants are).

(Original recipe from FatFree Vegan)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Salinger's Soup

So I am completely horrified and mortified and all other types of -fied-liked things because last week, when making out (teehee--I wish) my lists of 5, I totally and completely left J.D. Salinger off my list, and seriously, it's like forgetting to name your head as a body part. He is, in fact, my *favorite* author, and yet somehow I totally forgot about him.

So to make up for this error, I have decided to name this soup after him. "Why," you ask? "I don't remember Salinger having a particularly large appetite for soup. Neither do I remember any of his characters mentioning soup at any point in his stories."

For shame, my friends. Clearly you have not read Salinger closely enough:

"Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff, black bean soup in one hand. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff, and without spilling my black bean soup - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. Other than a chef who cooks black bean soup."

--Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye

As Holden understood, and as you will too after trying out this recipe, this recipe is tasty enough that, even when (or particularly if) you're busy catching children so they don't go flying off the edge of a cliff, this soup is so good that you'll want to have a bowl nearby so you can dip into it every once in a while, since it takes a lot out of you to keep children from running off cliffs and whatnot.

  • 2 c. dry black beans

  • 2 T. baking soda

  • 4 c. water

  • 1 t. kosher or sea salt

  • 1 T. olive oil

  • 1 large red onion, diced

  • 1 rib of celery, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 1/2 t. salt

  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 T. cumin

  • 1 chipotle chile, minced

  • 1 t. adobo sauce from chipotles

  • 1 t. liquid smoke

  • 4 c. veggie broth

  • juice from one large lime

    • garnish with any:

      • cubed avocado

      • a dollop or swirl of vegan sour cream

      • diced tomatoes

      • cilantro leaves

      Soak beans overnight in 4 cups of water with baking soda. (Alternately, you can soak the beans whichever way you so choose--I did a fast-soak which was boiling them for like 20 minutes and then letting them soak for 2-3 hours.) Drain but don't rinse. Place beans, bay leaves, water, and salt in large pot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Use a ladle to skim the gray scum off the surface, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until beans are tender, 45-60 minutes. Take off the heat and fish out the bay leaves. Set aside.

      In a 2 quart pot, heat oil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until vegetables are tender and browning, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and add salt, garlic and cumin and cook for 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in beans, bean cooking liquid, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, liquid smoke and broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

      Ladle the scum off the the surface of the soup. Transfer 4 ladlefuls of broth only and 2 ladlefuls of beans only to the food processor or blender, process until smooth, and return to pot. Alternately, use a handheld blender to partially blend the soup in the pot. Stir in lime juice. Serve immediately with desired garnishes.

      (Original recipe from Yellow Rose Recipes)

      Thursday, October 18, 2007

      Things I Like

      By Lindy Loo

      All this recipe-posting this week has tired me out. So today, instead of recipes, I post favorites, in groups of 5. You will love them. You will cherish them. You will perhaps get naughty with yourself while reading them. Any which way, enjoy.


      (Though I, of course, love the lot of you--these are just the blogs I'd rub up against in a crowded subway car and then pretend it was accidental, or maybe not pretend at all, depending)



      (This is a difficult one, so I'm picking ones that just happen to flood reflexively into my head, because if I sat here and really thought about it, the list would be GRATUITOUSLY long)

      • Shoot pool.

      • Read.

      • Watch movies, especially really bad campy horror.

      • Cook.

      • Your mom.




      • Hot-Guy Neighbor

      • Crystal

      • CVB

      • Your mom

      • Your mom's mom (aka. Your grandma)



      Wednesday, October 17, 2007

      My Lasagna Can't Get It Up--*Sigh*

      Dear Lindy Loo:

      I don't know how many times I've heard lasagnas muttering to their ladies "It's not you, it's me" but in this case: It's 100% you. Just because I couldn't get it up last week, just because I was flaccid when I should've been plump and thick and ready to go, is not my fault. You need to GET THE HELL TO THE STORE, BITCH, AND BUY A 9x12 INCH PAN ALREADY! How am I supposed to be all firm and raring to go when you use too big a pan on me? Huh? You tell me. I know we managed to work around this problem last week--I still laid it on you all tasty and juicy, but I just couldn't work it the way I usually do, what with my layers ending up all slip-sliding sloppily everywhere and my juices being slightly dried out. It's because everytime I bend you over all sexy-like, I get to thinking about how you try to jam every recipe into a 10x13 pan, no matter what size pan it calls for, and IT MAKES ME GO ALL CRAZY-LIKE, like having a vision of my mom pop into my head while in the middle of sexing you up. And it just ain't good, bitch. It just ain't good.

      And now you're writing a letter to yourself written by me, and SusanV is surely horrified that you've completely disgraced her lasagna recipe by making it speak like a bitch-ass pervert ho, and she's never gonna let you make a recipe of hers again. Way to ruin it for us both!

      I don't know if I can take this anymore. I just don't know.




      • 1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced

      • 1 t. chopped garlic

      • 2 T. water

      • 2 26-oz jars of spaghetti sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce)

      • 9 (15 if you use a larger pan) lasagna noodles (regular lasagna noodles, uncooked)

      • Soy Parmesan (optional)

      • Sliced black olives (optional)


      • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed

      • 1 lb. tofu (firm, reduced-fat recommended--not silken!)

      • 1 t. salt (optional)

      • 2 T. nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy taste)

      • 1 1/2 t. oregano

      • 1/2 t. garlic powder

      • 1 t. basil

      • 1/2 t. rosemary, crushed

      • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper

      Sauté the mushrooms and garlic over medium heat in the 2 tbsp. water until tender; cover between stirring to keep them from drying out. Remove from heat and add the spaghetti sauce.

      Place the tofu and thawed spinach in the food processor and process briefly. Add the remaining filling ingredients to the processor and blend until smooth. (You may do this without a food processor by using a potato masher on the tofu.)

      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

      Spread half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x12-inch pan. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce, using three to five dry noodles and leaving a little space in between them. Spread half of the tofu mixture on the noodles (I drop it by spoonfuls and then spread it). Cover with another layer of 3 to 5 noodles and then spread the remaining tofu mixture over them. Top with a final layer of noodles, and pour the remaining sauce over this. Cover the dish tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with soy Parmesan and sliced black olives if you want. The lasagna will cut better if you allow it to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

      (Original recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen)

      Tuesday, October 16, 2007

      Creamiest Vegan Mac n' Cheez EVER

      When my close friend ditched Friday plans with me to spend time getting some catscans to see if she could potentially have a kidney stone (worst excuse EVER!! ; ), I first trekked down to good ol' Edison's in the hopes of ordering a pizza, since it had been a while. To my horror, the pizza half of Edison's had one of those lame-ass signs in the window that said PARDON THE DUST: WE WILL BE OPENING AGAIN SOON. I cried a bit as I ventured around the artwalk, cheering up a bit at the sight of my favorite long-standing penis exhibit in the basement of Asterisk. I then headed home and busted out this long-awaited vegan mac n' cheese recipe at 10 o'clock at night, looking forward to snuggling up with a nice warm bowl of "cheezy" noodles under a toasty blanket with my cats while I watched yet another gory slasher film since I'm trying to gorge on them this lovely month of October because I at least have an excuse that keeps me from looking QUITE so crazy.

      Anyways, this mac n' cheez requires using THREE pans at a time, so I was skeptical, as I hate washing dishes. I was also a bit skeptical since it didn't exactly have a lot of spices or flavoring nuances to spark up the potential flavor of the sauce. No paprika. No cayenne. No soy sauce. Nada.

      Needless to say, this caused me to tinker with it just a tiny bit, out of fear of it being too bland. Now, do not yell at me, because I didn't neurotically measure out the tinkerings I toyed with--I just shook and drizzled. But I'll at least include a list of additions I made to the recipe. What seems to be so very cool about this recipe is that the white sauce is pretty standard: make it and leave it alone. The "cheez" sauce is where you can play a bit. Essentially, it's a less watered-down standard vegan mac n' cheez sauce, so whatever seasonings you typically like in your mac n' cheez you can sorta just throw in here.

      And seriously, folks: I cannot emphasize this enough: This recipe is awesome. I like my standard mac n' cheez that I've created since it's easy and tastes yummy. But *THIS* mac n' cheez is creamy and decadent. That is what most impressed me about it. It seems to me to be a bit difficult sometimes to come up with a truly creamy vegan mac n' cheez, but this one is it, folks. Granted, it coagulates as soon as you refrigerate it, and you won't ever get back that original creamy consistency with the leftovers. But even so, chowing down on it for lunch the next few days, I was *still* impressed by how fricking good it is.

      And please, heed this suggestion as well: crumbling up some Ritz crackers on top brings the whole recipe home. I don't know why, but it was as though Jesus came down and made Ritz crackers JUST so they could find their way back home to this recipe.


      • 1/4 c. vegan margarine

      • 1/4 c. flour

      • 1/2 t. salt

      • 2 c. vegan soydrink


      • 1/4 c. "good tasting" nutritional yeast

      • 1/4 c. cornstarch

      • 1 T. flour

      • 1/2 t. salt

      • 1 c. water

      • 2 T. oil

      • 1/2 t. Dijon mustard

      • This is where you can toy with the recipe by adding spices/seasonings of your choosing. I added on the following:

      • Paprika

      • Soy sauce

      • Garlic powder

      • One box of your favorite macaroni noodles, cooked according to the package directions

      • A couple handfuls of Ritz Crackers, crumbled


      For the white sauce: Combine margarine, flour, and salt over low heat. When it bubbles, gradually add the soydrink. Cook and stir until it is thick and begins to bubble. Remove from heat.

      For the cheez sauce: Mix nutritional yeast, cornstarch, flour, dry seasonings of your choosing, and salt in a small saucepan. Add water, oil, mustard, and any other wet seasonings of your choosing. Cook and stir until it thickens and bubbles.

      Putting it all together: Preheat oven to 375 F. Add the cheez sauce to the white sauce. Mix cooked pasta with "cheese" sauce. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Top with Ritz cracker crumbs (or bread crumbs, if you hate Jesus). Bake for 30 minutes.

      (Original recipe HERE--thanks, Pleasantly Plump Vegan for giving it a shout-out, otherwise I never would've even known to check it out)

      Monday, October 15, 2007

      Why I Have No Badges

      Because you know how once a year, they pack all the girl scouts into a giant sweatshop-type factory and force them to bake girl scout cookies until they're sobbing and sucking their thumbs and crying for their mommies, and 1/4 of those girls are sitting in the part of the factory line where their little fingers are drizzling the chocolatey lines delicately over the somoas, into nice little perfect little girl scouty chocolate drizzles, all so they can get their cookie badges? Well, yeah. I suck at drizzles. And apparently I suck at melted chocolate as well. My drizzles look like I dragged Picasso into my kitchen, blindfolded him, tied his right hand behind his back, and demanded that he MOTHERF-ING DRIZZLE OR I'M GONNA POP A MOTHERF-ING CAP IN HIS ASS. Hence, they are not petite and delicate, sweet little girl scouty lines. They are weird, fat, confused, riotous lines of crazy chocolate.

      But hey, they taste good. So the girl scouts can just take their badges and shove 'em.

      (Thanks, Bazu, for pointing this recipe out.)



      • 1 1/2 c. rolled oats

      • 1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry)

      • 1/4 t. sea salt

      • 1 1/2 t. baking powder

      • 1 c. shredded coconut

      • 1/2 c. ground pecans

      • 1/2 c. chopped pecans

      • 1 c. brown rice syrup (or a combination of brown rice syrup and maple syrup/agave nectar)

      • 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or vegetable oil works as well)


      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

      Mix all ingredients, using your hands at the end if necessary.

      Drop rounded spoonfuls onto lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for approximately 14 minutes.

      Cool on a wire rack.

      Since I haven't exactly mastered the chocolate part of this, all I'll say is that you need to melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips with some soy milk in your microwave to get melty chocolate that will solidify upon application. Coat the bottoms of your cookies with the chocolate and let them harden. Drizzle the chocolate in a girl-scouty (or Picasso-ish, depending) type way over the tops.

      Veggie Voice's Tips:

      • When working with coconut oil, be sure that all other ingredients are at room temperature or else you will get oil lumps. It may help to mix the oil with shredded coconut before adding other ingredients.

      • Do not overmix! Your cookies will be very tough if you do. Mix until ingredients are just combined.

      • Do not overbake! Your cookies will be hard as rocks. Brown rice syrup tends to make cookies crunchy, so be aware of this and proceed accordingly. Increase the proportion of maple syrup to create a chewier cookie or decrease baking time.

      (Original recipe at The Veggie Voice)

      Thursday, October 11, 2007

      New Question of the Month

      Me and my foxy and delicious friend Mo have been finding this popping up as a frequent topic of discussion between the two of us, since we've both recently found ourselves single again, so I thought it'd be interesting to hear all YOUR thoughts on the topic:

      Could you ever date someone who wasn't at least vegetarian? For those of you who are vegan, could you date someone who was vegetarian but not vegan?

      [Addendum: Also, related to this topic, for those of you who didn't chance to see the Newsweek article, "Love Me, Love My Tofu," you may find it interesting, especially since it features everyone's favorite Vegan Freaks. I think that may be the worst, most awkward sentence I've ever written.

      Anyways, read it HERE]

      Baked Seitan Steaks

      Seriously. I think I'm gonna have to boycott the homemade seitan recipes henceforth and forevermore. The night after I made this recipe, my bowels snuck up on me in my sleep, pressed the cold blade of a knife against my throat, all Robert Deniro in Cape Fear-esque, and said, "Look here, bitch. One more time, and this knife is gonna find itself cutting straight through your windpipe." Then later in the night, at separate times, each of my cats did THE SAME EXACT THING.

      Why, you ask? Because you cannot even imagine the awful awful emissions coming from my ass for days after eating homemade seitan. They are so bad that I am seriously starting to suspect that the EPA is gonna pass some sort of restriction on my seitan consumption. THAT BAD. No kidding.

      This time, Have Cake Will Travels' baked seitan steaks were to blame.

      I decided to make these the week before last because I still had some wheat gluten crowding up my cupboard from all the rib-cooking this summer, and I was intrigued at the prospect of trying out a seitan recipe that tasted like STEAK rather than chicken or sausage or something. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed since these didn't even REMOTELY resemble the flavor of a steak. (Then again, this just made me realize that the term "steaks" is kind of vague and probably was just intended to refer to form rather than flavor.) They were good (despite reeking--baha--havoc on my bowels), but they sort of just tasted like a vague chicken/sausage/indefinable meat-like amalgamation, and the steak sauce was just WEIRDass to be using on them like that (kind of like dipping apples in it or something). And for some reason my steaks didn't come out as pretty as HCWT. After initially mixing all the ingredients together, the dough was ridiculously flaccid. It wouldn't maintain any sort of form, which worried me since it wasn't really holding up as a patty or anything. So I kept adding wee bit by wee bit of vital wheat gluten until it was a bit more stiff. I don't know if this was necessary, but I figured it was worth noting. HCWT's steaks ended up looking like delicate little croissants. Mine kind of just looked like they got ran over by a semi.

      Regardless, the recipe is nonetheless worth checking out, for those of you who like whipping up seitan at home, particularly because it is even easier than the infamous Seitan Recipe o' Greatness. Just don't be expecting big juicy pseudo-steaks. Moreso expect something kind of nice and Thanksgiving-ish.

      • 1 c. vital wheat gluten

      • 1 c. water

      • 1 1/2 T. + 1 t. soy sauce (or you can use 1 t. Worcestershire sauce instead of the 1 t. soy sauce--I just don't own any)

      • 3 T. nutritional yeast

      • 1 t. onion powder

      • 1/2 t. dried sage

      • 1/2 t. dried thyme


      Mix together wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ones in another. Add the wet to the dry. Start mixing with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to knead for a few minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes once well kneaded and incorporated.

      Prepare a baking dish or a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 400F.

      Shape your seitan in two steaks. Place in baking dish, and bake for 10 minutes on one side or until golden brown. Turn on the other side and bake for 15 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven, slice, and serve hot, or freeze for later [once cooled] for future seitan dishes.

      Makes 2 steaks.

      (Original recipe at Have Cake Will Travel)

      Wednesday, October 10, 2007

      In Honor of October...

      In light of the Halloween season (and also due to lack of recipes since I was sick all weekend--woot woot), I've instead decided to ramble a wee bit about one of my *other* loves in life: horror flicks.

      BUT WAIT you are thinking loudly in that skull of yours. WAIT WAIT! This is a vegan food blog. Or at least a vegan blog! You can't do that!

      And herein lies the reason you love me and want to fathermother my children:

      What I want to ramble on about is one of the reasons (though not the main one) that I love horror flicks so much (and one of the reasons my librarian occasionally hands me the stuff I ordered, which is usually a combination of vegan cookbooks and horror movies, with a "You always order such an interesting variety of stuff"), and that topic is the strange meat-related/slaughterhouse-related subtheme in many horror films, a subtheme that shows up in enough horror flicks that it's worth remarking upon. (And this is even after separating out cannibalism-themed movies; I'm just talking about movies that bluntly and clearly have characters from meat-packing plants or slaughterhouses or explicitly remark upon either of the two.)

      And of course, now that I've decided to finally yammer on about the topic, I can only think of three off the top of my head (though I *know* I've seen quite a few more that make these connections, memory be damned), but YOU WILL LISTEN AND YOU WILL LIKE IT AND BELIEVE ME BECAUSE I SPEAK ONLY OF TRUTH.

      *clearing throat*

      So anyways, despite the gruesomeness of horror flicks, despite what many people deem unnecessary and over-the-top violence, despite the fact that a lot of the population thinks people who are avid horror dorks are creepy and probably a bit off (which is all 100% true, of course--*chewing on a dead baby*), horror flicks aren't ALL fluff. Case in point: Hostel, of all movies. I saw the previews for this when it came out and kept staunchly stating that I was never ever ever gonna see this. I'm not a fan of the "torture-film-as-horror-movie" subgenre, because I think it sort of misses the point OF what makes a horror flick truly scary. And torture as entertainment just seems a bit f-ed up to me. *BUT* they of course had it at the library, and I of course picked it up (because, as with the VT, when it comes to horror flicks, I am also a cheap whore and will take it when I can). And lo and behold, despite the fact that it IS chock full of over-the-top gore, it actually had a surprisingly (oh no don't do it) meaty (hee hee) bit of substance to it, mostly on the theme of objectification, in terms of both meat and women (Carol J. Adams would be proud, though no doubt more than a little disturbed as well).

      Early in the movie, the main character comments about how he is a vegetarian and shows disgust towards someone picking chicken out of a salad and ripping into it with their hands. (Spoiler alert, so stop reading if you don't want to hear stuff given away) And of course, the person who is sinking their teeth ever so gleefully into the nice meaty chicken is the person who will usher most of the main characters to their own brutal torture and death. Interestingly, this theme ends up coming up again and again throughout the movie. Initially I was bothered by the ridiculous amount of male-fantasy naked chicks during the first 20 minutes or so of the movie--there is a LOT of female objectification and nudity and sex. But by the end of the movie, it kind of made sense to me. This was a movie about the way we treat things like meat, ultimately. The way we turn living things into detached objects. Women. People. Animals. Etc. We do it through objectification of women and sex. We do it through our treatment of animals. And, in this movie, it is done in the torture of human beings (which has its own bizarre slaughterhouse qualities at times). And for that, the filmmaker deserves a pat on the back, all my skepticism aside.

      The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (which is perhaps my favorite horror movie of all time) is another such example. Leatherface and his family come from a long line of slaughterhouse workers, so it's clear to see why they get noticeably excited when they're hitting someone in the head with a mallet. We even see a truck shuttling cows to their slaughter pass up the main characters early on in the film, nailing these connections home. This movie is RIPE with commentary on slaughterhouses, linking the issue up directly with all the killing taking place. Here are just a few quotes that show how it is touched upon time and time again throughout:

      Franklin: They just shoot a bolt in their head, and then retract it. It's just BOOM-shht-BOOM-shht.
      Sally: Franklin, I like meat, please change the subject!


      Hitchhiker: My family's always been in meat.


      Old Man: I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it.


      -What's that? What smell? What is that stench?

      -Hey. That's the old slaughterhouse. That's where Grandpa used... to sell his cattle!

      -We got an uncle that works in one of those places outside of Fortworth. See those buildings there? That's where... they kill them. They bash'em in the head with a big sledgehammer!

      - That's awful.

      - It usually wouldn't kill him. It'd start squealing and freaking out, they'd have to... come up and bash'em or times. They'd scatter them before they were even dead.

      - That's horrible! People shouldn't kill animals for food.

      - They don't do it like that anymore. Now they get this big air gun... that shoots a bullet into the skull and then retracts it.

      Again and again, we see the humans in the film being treated like animals in a slaughterhouse--hung from large hooks as though about to be eviscerated, hit in the head with large mallets, stuffed into freezers, chased after and brutalized when they try to escape imminent death. And although we all know that working in a slaughterhouse doesn't automatically mean that one is going to find joy in killing people and serving them up as food (clearly), there have been numerous studies done on slaughterhouse workers that reveal an increased propensity in violence and domestic abuse among those forced to suffer the strain of killing animal after animal after animal all day. (You can check out Slaughterhouse or Fast Food Nation for more information on this topic.) It is almost a necessity to desensitize one's self to the scream and pain of animals that you are killing for no other reason than that you need to make a living somehow and this is the arena in which you are forced to make that living--so in order to survive, you must become numb. And needless to say, it makes sense that this desensitization towards violence and torture easily spills over into other arenas of one's life as well. Again: people and animals as objects, a topic that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre toys with well.

      One final example that I'll offer up is perhaps one of the WORST horror movies I've seen (which of course made it at least entertaining, camp-value-wise)... And that's Motel Hell. This movie is yet another one about people feeding people to other people in the guise of meat. And boy do the folks love Vincent Fritters' meat. Little do they know that he is farming people to GIVE his meat that little bit of extra oomph. Again, the connection is made between the suffering of farmed animals and the torture taking place in the film: to quote Vincent Fritters, "I take better care of the people I kill than most farmers do their livestock." And though this is tongue in cheek, the connection made is an important one.

      What I think is most interesting about the frequency with which slaughterhouses are alluded to if not outright MENTIONED in horror films is that it reveals that they DO unsettle us, what goes on in there DOES make us squeamish, otherwise these horror flicks wouldn't waste their time making the connections because they wouldn't understand that it automatically instills within us subconscious (or conscious) feelings of disgust and horror. People *know* that the shit that goes on in these places is cruel and terrible, they just avoid thinking about it because it makes getting through the day easier. And many horror movies play on this fact, and in doing so, oftentimes hold us culpable for the fact that we're perhaps just as bad as the brutal people like Leatherface that are born from the violence inherent in the killing of animals, calling into question how far removed we really ARE from all this brutality and suffering.

      Hopefully E won't kill me for talking about his school-related stuff (and probably butchering the idea behind it, since it's been a while since I read it), but in one essay he wrote, he discusses how the poems/literature that really allow us to understand the animal from the inside, to empathize with them truly, are the ones in which we sort of BECOME the animal. The only way we can come to an understanding and empathy is to come as close as possible to BEING this other suffering being, to experience the fear from the inside. And I think much the same can be said about many of these horror films--essentially this is their goal, to make us feel and empathize with the victims, to fear for them and in turn, ourselves, because we can PLACE ourselves in the horror of that moment. We can imagine the fear rising up in our chests as we try to escape our own death. So much so that the viewer watching the film actually has visceral reactions to the fear pumping through the television--fast heartbeat, nausea, etc. And in making the connection between brutal killing and the brutal killing in slaughterhouses, and in doing so, making a connection between the humans in the film that are being brutalized and animals in slaughterhouses receiving the very same treatment, we are forced to become the victim, to feel from inside the victim, whether we like it or not. Human victim and animal victim both. Horror movies don't smooth these things over just to make us feel better--replacing eviscerated cows with smiling happy cow cartoons. They unmask the brutality inherent in violence against humans and the violence against animals. And that's a good thing. A very very good thing.

      Oh, and yeah, sometimes horror movies are just fun. Like when you're in the mood to watch some awkwardly heavy guy run around with a chainsaw or something. And some are just plain trashy goodness. Lest I sound like I take them too seriously. (Although the chainsaw no doubt represents the phallus and the mask represents the mask hiding the phallus, in other words, yeah, ah but I kid all feministlike and whatnot. Carry on.)

      Thursday, October 04, 2007

      No Recipe -- Just Some Wailing, Cyborg-Monocle-Fantasizing, and Greasy Lemon Fuck-Ups

      Sunday, I had planned to make the VCTOTW Pumpkin Pie Brownies, but then I realized I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO SUGAR IN MY HOUSE. Somehow I'd managed to use up the very last of my sugar without realizing it (perhaps I was in denial or something), so I was, of course, devastated, because no decent food-lover (nay, no decent HUMAN BEING) should EVER be without sugar in their cupboards (or a little sugar in their bowl--*wah wah wahhhhh*). So needless to say, I went on a 3-hour crying jag, and then finally when I had settled down to just a bit of dry-heaving and the occasional wail, I decided to soothe my angst by baking some sort of cookie that didn't actually require sugar. When I saw the lemon cookies from VWAV, I decided those would be the ones.

      My spirits began to lift again as I got into a golden Betty Crocker kind of mood, picturing rolling out delightful cookie dough on my counter while the sun sparkled gaily (even thought it was night) and my cats trounced about the apartment. I then realized I needed cookie cutters to bust out these little lemon delights, so I scrounged about in my cupboards and came to realize that the only two cookie cutters I own are in the shape of a) a snowflake, and b) an ax.

      This would've probably devastated any *normal* human being, but my gut just about burst with excitement when I realized that I would most certainly freak out my fellow employees with the completely bizarre (and inexplicably unrelated) variety of cookie shapes that I'd be offering to them at work the next day. All my remaining tears immediately dried up as I envisioned the email I would be sending out when I got into work:

      Ladies & Gents:

      I've brought in some vegan lemon cookies for your eating-pleasure. They are in the shapes of a snowflake and an ax. The snowflake represents the quickly approaching winter, and the ax represents what you will get if you ask me any questions about why I own an ax cookie cutter. Enjoy!

      But alas, though I thought I might be able to get away with not using a hand-held blender to whip up the cookies (since I don't own one, and since I've managed to do so on prior occasion): no such luck.* Despite the fact that I gave myself carpal-tunnel cramps whisking the shit out of the cookie dough, the dough came out way too mushy, and wouldn't cut out nicely. And to top that off, when I finally gave up and just made circles and threw them in the oven, they baked up like shit. Little, flat, squishy, lemony splotches of greasy shit. *sigh*

      I don't doubt the recipe at all, so don't mentally note it as one you are never ever never going to try. Unfortunately, I think I just need to suck it up and get myself a handheld blender already (when I have some money). And then... AND THEN... perhaps my dream will come true, and, donning my cyborg-monocle, I can robotically turn to one of my fellow employees, and robotically monotone the words, "Would you like a snowflake ax cookie, human of easily-destructible flesh and blood?"

      *I also don't own a rolling pin, but I just wash off a beer bottle and use that. *Vegan MacGyver in da house--ow owwwww!*.

      Wednesday, October 03, 2007

      (Almost) The Best Beer, Cocoa, Coffee Chili You Will Ever Taste

      It is now officially autumn. And autumn means soup and chili, which means excitement on my end. I never thought I'd find myself being excited by soup or chili because I despised both for so long, but what can I say? I done growed up, Ma!

      Chilis that boast that they are the best chili EVER always make me get all Rocky Balboa and mutter outta the side of my mouth, Ain't no way dat chili's da best chili ever, Adrien. So it was with this chili which is actually a meat-infested recipe that I tried to convert. I am always intrigued by chilis that have either cocoa/chocolate, coffee, or beer in them, and this had ALL FRICKING THREE, so that convinced me that I at least had to try some sort of variation out.

      Alas, this is not in fact "The Best Chili I Did Ever Taste" (for ones I think have a bit more awesomeness, check out the black bean chocolate chili, the sweet potato chili, or the Teany Top Secret Chili Recipe). Not to say that this chili wasn't good, but if forced to choose, I'd definitely pick one of the others over this one.

      Despite that fact, the one thing I can say definitively about this chili recipe is that it is one of the first recipes I've made where I can actually say that it had a complex layering of flavors. When you bite into a hearty spoonful, the flavors will transform all chameleonlike against your tongue, from tomatoey, to sweet, to rich, to spicy. It kind of caught me off guard yesterday when I find this out at lunch. I was like, Uh. In my head though, because grunting out loud to one's self sometimes sounds a bit creepy.

      Anyways, this chili is lightly spicy, delicately sweet, and richly tomatoey. It is also very rich and thick, which I liked. For those of you who always end up leaving a comment along the lines of "Beer/cocoa/coffee in CHILI?!?!" I reassure you yet again: You've not had a sexy chili if you haven't had a chili with at least one of these three ingredients in it. They lend a depth of flavor to the chili that you just can't mimic otherwise, so give 'em a chance.

      Oh, and I'd never cooked with chili peppers before. The are like the tiniest cutest things ever. I just wanted to pinch their cheeks and make goo goo noises at them. Until I brutally diced them up, of course.

      • 2 t. oil

      • 2 onions, chopped

      • 3 cloves garlic, minced

      • One 12-oz. bag of veggie meat crumbles (you could also probably get away with just using TVP)

      • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained

      • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes

      • 1 can/bottle dark beer (I used Goose Island Nut Brown)

      • 1 c. strong coffee

      • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

      • 2 c. veggie broth

      • 1/2 c. brown sugar

      • 2 T. chili sauce

      • 1 T. cumin

      • 1 T. cocoa

      • 1 t. oregano

      • 1 t. cayenne

      • 1 t. coriander

      • 1 t. salt

      • 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans

      • 3 chili peppers, chopped


      Cook onions, garlic and veggie crumbles until brown.

      Add tomatoes, beer, coffee, tomato paste and veg broth.

      Add spices. Stir in kidney beans, black beans, and peppers.

      Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

      (Adapted from the original recipe HERE)

      Monday, October 01, 2007

      I Have Never Wanted a Cyborg-Monocle **SO BADLY**!

      Holy mother of all things holy and motherly!

      I got nabbed for a blog interview at, and they've been trying to encourage us to get our readers to vote for us so that we can win shit, so I put up that button discretely on my sidebar (because I'm not a fan of begging people to vote for me and whatnot, so I wasn't even gonna mention it). **BUT THEN!** Out of boredom, I just happened to go look at what their prizes are, and I saw this picture, and I realized that I TOTALLY WANT THE SPY CAR JUST SO I CAN WEAR THAT SWEET-ASS CYBORG-MONOCLE TO WORK ALL THE FRICKING TIME AND THEN WHENEVER ANYONE ASKS ME A QUESTION (I've decided to stop capitalizing because it's making me feel winded), I'll slowly and robotically turn my head towards them while making a VRRRRRT noise (that's a robot-sounding noise) like Arnold in Terminator 2 and I'll say to them, very robotically, "I'm a cybernetic organism: living tissue over a metal endoskeleton. Come with me if you want to live." And it will be the GREATEST MOMENT IN WORK HISTORY **EVER**.

      Holy seriousness, Batman. How sweet IS this shit?!?!

      We believe in the power of a child's imagination. Our toys encourage kids to be imaginative, creative and to explore the world around them.

      We create quality, award-winning toys for boys and girls that are safe, durable and lots of fun.

      We make innovative toys that appeal to both parents and kids. Our toys spark imagination and provide positive experiences.

      Also, I just have to note how funny it is that the company is playing up their product as one that "encourage[s] kids to be imaginative, creative and to explore the world around them" because you SO know that the first 13-year old boy that gets their hands on that car is gonna immediately send it driving up to some hot chick in a short skirt.

      Tell me it's not true.