Budget Vegan Tips: Spice Mixes

I promised this post for you guys last week but due to my prior fiction writing commitments, I ended up pushing it off until today. That said, I hope it’s worth the wait!

As I mentioned in last weeks Budget Vegan Tips on grinding your own spices, getting them whole and in bulk can save you a TON of money. Ditto for spice mixes as well! If you enjoy ethnic food, you’ll know that there are PLENTY of spice mixes, condiments, and sauces that are used around the world and sold in little jars for exorbitant prices here in the States and in Europe. It’s pretty easy to make quite a few of them at home, and once you start making your own, you can tweak it to your liking.

Below I’d like to share with you a few of my favorites. Some have been passed down in my family, others I’ve picked up from books and other places but lost the original source. Anything that has been directly adapted from a book or website I’ll make sure to credit the author and link the book so you can check it out. That said, here you go:

Thai Curry Pastes

Indian Spice Mixes

General/Domestic Spice mixes

Red Curry Paste

  • 10 dried chiles de arbol or chiles japones
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 2 tsp minced pickled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Stem the chiles and remove the seeds, if you would like to mellow out the heat. Break apart and soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a small bowl or spice grinder. Combine with the pepper and grind finely, then set aside.

Trim and discard the roots before the bulb base of the lemongrass along with the top leaves, then finely chop the stalk. Drain the chiles and combine them with the lemongrass, toasted spices, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Grind until you have a fine puree, even if you have to scrape the mixture down the sides every so often. Scrape into a small jar and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Green Curry Paste

  • 2 fresh jalapenos
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots or red onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Remove the seeds and ribs in the jalapenos, then mince. Set aside.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a small bowl or spice grinder. Combine with the pepper and grind finely, then set aside.

Trim and discard the roots before the bulb base of the lemongrass along with the top leaves, then finely chop the stalk.Combine the chiles with the lemongrass, toasted spices, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Grind until you have a fine puree, even if you have to scrape the mixture down the sides every so often. Scrape into a small jar and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Yellow Curry Paste

  • 10 dried chiles de arbol or chiles japones
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 2 tsp minced pickled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Hot Yellow Curry Powder (see above)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Stem the chiles and remove the seeds, if you would like to mellow out the heat. Break apart and soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes.

Toast the coriander and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a small bowl or spice grinder. Combine with the pepper and grind finely, then set aside.

Trim and discard the roots before the bulb base of the lemongrass along with the top leaves, then finely chop the stalk. Drain the chiles and combine them with the lemongrass, toasted spices, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor. Grind until you have a fine puree, even if you have to scrape the mixture down the sides every so often. Scrape into a small jar and keep refrigerated for up to a month.

Garam Masala

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds (whole)
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 2″ cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods (preferably black) seeded
  • 1 tbsp green cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp cloves
  • 1.5 tsp peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves

Toast all of the spices for 2-4 minutes on medium heat, until very fragrant. Cool fully, then grind the cinnamon sticks into a fine powder. Add the rest of the ingredients to the spice grinder one at a time, grind each into a fine powdered mix. Store for up to a year in an airtight container.

Hot Yellow Curry Powder

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala (above)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 clove
  • 2 green cardamom pods

Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, clove, yellow mustard seeds, cayenne, and bay leaves over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant. Combine in a spice grinder with the rest of the ingredients, blend until a fine powder. Use in curries, with rice, and anywhere curry powder is called for. Feel free to adjust the cayenne if it’s too spicy!

Panch Phoron

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp anise
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

Combine the whole spices and store in an airtight container. When using, cook in hot oil for a few minutes first, then add vegetables or the beginnings of a dal and proceed with cooking as normal. Adds a nice spicy kick to many Indian side dishes!

Old Bay Seasoning

  • • 2 tbsp celery salt
  • • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • • 1/8 tsp ground dry mustard
  • • 1/8 tsp  ground mace (may substitute a teensy pinch nutmeg)
  • • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

This one actually came from Epicurious, but the mix is perfect and I wanted to share it with you all anyhow. Combine all of the ingredients above and seal in an airtight container for up to a year.

Italian Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.

Chili Powder

  • 2 tbsp ground ancho chiles
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.

Taco Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp chili powder (see above)
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp regular paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder and grind until powdered. Store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months

Recipe Request: Gluten Free Vegan Pasta

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The biggest problem that my hubby and I have had with going gluten free has been pasta. Most of the ones available on the market have either a serious aftertaste or a problem with filling the pot with an excessive amount of starch, no matter how large a pot I use to cook them – resulting in gummy noodles. After discussing the issue with several other gluten free people on various forums, I decided that there weren’t quite enough recipes for vegans who were gluten free and didn’t quite like spinach in their pasta.

I started with the base that I knew was the most common – brown rice flour. Layering some relatively neutral flavored sorghum flour with it gave the noodles a better texture, while tapioca starch became a nice binder to compliment the flax that I used to replace eggs in traditional pasta. Add some xanthan gum in the mix to mimic the gluten, and the only thing I had left was to figure out the liquid levels…which was the hardest part.

After extensive testing using the attachments for my stand mixed, I settled on 3/4 of a cup of water, + or – 1-2 tbsp of additional water if the dough didn’t want to stick to itself well. All in all the recipe makes just over a pound of pasta and worked for fettuccine, spaghetti, and lasagne applications! The pic above is fettuccine coated in a sun-dried tomato pesto, which I’ll include the recipe for below the pasta. The noodles before sauce look like whole wheat ones. They can be slightly slimy immediately out of the pot, but if you cool them and let them rest for 2-4 minutes after cooking this clears up completely. Sauce sticks to them wonderfully and they cook to a perfect al dente in just 3 minutes!

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Gluten Free Brown Rice and Sorghum Pasta

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 3 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water, plus a little more on the side and more for boiling
  1. Combine 3/4 cup warm water with flax seeds, let sit for 5 minutes until thickened.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk until fully combined. You might want to whisk for a few minutes to make sure everything is uniform, even a couple of “chunks” can mess up the consistency of the dough.
  3. With a wooden spoon, slowly stir the flax mixture into the flour mixture until a dough ball forms. Knead for 4-6 minutes, until slightly sticky, uniform, and thick.
  4. Put through an electric or hand pasta machine and follow the directions for the type of pasta you want. If you’re using a Kitchenaid stand mixer, I’ve found that it works best on setting 4 for spaghetti and fettuccine, as well as lasagne.
  5. When you’re ready to cook it, bring water to a boil with a pinch of salt. You’ll want about 3 quarts of water at least for 1/2 lb of pasta. Cook for 3 minutes, drain and cool immediately with cool water. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Sun-dried Tomato Basil Pesto

  • 8 oz basil leaves, stems trimmed, and chopped
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped cashews
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until thoroughly combined and basil is minced.

WTFDYEE: Gluten Free Vegan Naan!

My hubby got a craving for a curry not too long ago and requested that I include one in this week’s meal plan. I found a base recipe for a delicious summer vegetable curry that I adapted a bit to be vegan (replacing cream with coconut milk, etc) and felt like something was missing.

I had the brown rice, I had the curry…but where was the naan? For anyone who loves Indian food, naan bread is an essential part of the meal. Nothing is better for sopping up all that delicious leftover curry sauce! But our recent decision to go gluten free presented a problem.

After poring over all of my vegan cookbooks, I discovered I didn’t have a recipe for a gluten free naan. Given all of my recent experimentation, I rolled up my sleeves, ground some fresh flour, and went to work adapting a vegetarian one. Replacing vegan yogurt with hemp milk, the butter with Earth Balance, and the flour with chickpea, tapioca, sorghum, and quinoa flours, I ended up designing a wonderful fluffy and moist naan that paired perfectly with my curry. It was even good reheated the next day!

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Gluten Free Vegan Naan

  • 1/2 to just below 2/3 cup warm water (around 100-110 degrees F)
  • 3/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 cup sorghum flour, plus more for cutting board/rolling pin
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup melted vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup hemp milk or cashew cream (vegan yogurt works here too if you have it!)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Canola/olive oil for brushing (Not extra virgin!)
  • Toppings such as garlic, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, vegan cheddar, vegan parmesan, dried fruit
  1. Combine warm water with yeast and 1/2 (1.5 tsp) of the sugar. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Place all of the flours, salt, remaining sugar, and xanthan gum in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large nonreactive metal bowl. Dry whisk to combine.
  3. Stir together the (warm, not hot) melted butter, the yeast mixture, and hemp milk. Turn the stand mixer onto low speed and slowly add the liquids to the flour mixture. This works best with the dough hook. You can also use a hand mixer on low speed.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape the dough down the sides with a soft spatula. Turn the mixer onto medium high (or the hand mixer to medium high) and mix for 5 minutes. The dough will be relatively sticky.
  5. Scoop the dough into a ball and oil the outside of it. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1-2 hours.
  6. Punch down the dough and divide into 6ths. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface (I like using parchment paper) and oil a flat baking or cookie sheet.
  7. Roll out each 6th until its less than 1/2″ thick, using a lightly floured rolling pin. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Preheat the broiler on high, move the rack to the top of the oven, so long as the baking sheet will fit under it with no contact with the naans.
  9. Broil on the first side for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned and curling at the edges. Flip and broil for another 1-2 minutes.
  10. Serve warm! Makes 6 pieces.

Budget Vegan Tips: Plan Your Meals

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Many of us who have dieted in the past or frequent any sort of tip websites are familiar with the advice that planning meals saves money. Most of us, however, still don’t do it, and this post is intended to help you design a system that works for you so that you can put this money saving tip to use.

Reasons Why You Should Plan Your Meals!

  • Research has shown that people who go into the store without a shopping list spend significantly more money than those who don’t. Companies prey on this by putting unhealthy splurge items on sale and making aisles deliberately difficult to navigate, lengthening your trip. If you have a plan AND stick to it, you’ve beaten them at their own game.
  • If you plan your meals, you can plan around extra ingredients, ensuring less food goes to waste. This means less wasted money!
  • Because you know your work schedule and what you/your partner/your family likes to eat, you can make room for experimentation while keeping plenty of favorites around “just in case.”
  • Packing sack lunches is generally cheaper than eating out, especially when vegan options are limited. If you know that you like variety, or can stick to one or two choices for the week, then you can plan around this and save money.
  • It’s worth saying that planning food allows you to plan the amount of money you’re going to spend in advance as well. If you know the rough prices of core items at various retailers, you can purchase things in bulk where they’re the cheapest, and your meal plan ensures these items don’t go to waste. My big stock-up items are dried beans and grains, gluten free pasta, and bulk nuts/seeds.

Different Meal Planning Strategies

There are many different ways that you can go about starting to meal plan. The most important thing is finding a system that you can stick to that keeps you interested in the food, excited to cook and/or eat it, and keeps you consistent in your budget as well.

One approach is to create a “Master List” of foods that are commonly eaten in your household. If you eat a lot of frozen meals, figure out what the favorites are and try to find recipes for them using the raw ingredients. You can always freeze these in individual portions for future use, and they’re more than likely going to be cheaper per serving in the long run if you make them yourself. If frozen meals aren’t your style but you know certain family members like certain dishes a great deal, try giving the one day a week that they can pick a recipe. Ask them ahead of time which one they want, and stick to the plan on that day.

Another approach that is fairly common is to choose various “food groupings” for specific days of the week. When I was doing this, it looked like:

Monday: Pasta
Tuesday: Slow cooker
Wednesday: Stir fry or Indian
Thursday: Casserole/1-dish
Friday: Faux Meat/Pressure Cooker
Saturday: Experimental
Sunday: Multi-Course/Ethnic

This left me with one day a week to try a “weird” meal, and the rest of the week to prepare relatively economical, predictable fare. Most of these subcategories freeze/refrigerate well, so the leftovers can be used as lunches. Knowing what type of food will be served each day also helps you stock up for the future. For example, if you regularly eat pasta on Mondays and a brand of pasta your family likes goes on sale, you can pick up a few different varieties and plan them into your future meals. You can also pick up commonly used spices in the bulk section, knowing that you plan a particular ethnic cuisine one day a week where they will be used.

If you have a consistent day off, use the night before to make a list of recipes you’d like to eat that week and check your cupboards/pantry/fridge for items you have and items you need. Try making a list of your staples and keep it updated with what you need each week. You don’t have to cook the same recipes, but finding different recipes with similar ingredients that you can keep on hand really helps keep money in your wallet.

I plan on doing a post on “base” recipes somewhat soon, but if you choose to make a “Recipe Master List” binder or computer file, you may wish to include a few of them. Base recipes are recipes for creating a specific -thing- such as a risotto or lasagne, that you can then change up with seasonal veggies without having to change cook times too much. By mastering a few of these and varying your ingredients by what is on sale and what is seasonal (which often happens to coincide with one another), you empower yourself to create interesting food with whatever is on hand.

If cooking is a burden to you, allowing yourself a “scrap meal” or “leftover day” once a week might be a good idea if you generate a lot of leftovers. Meals made with odds and ends can be charming and sometimes become family favorites. The one below was one such meal that I made, a pot pie with a gluten free biscuit crust and some odds and ends from around the kitchen as a filling.

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Gluten Free Cheezy Vegan Potpie (With Seasonal Variants!)

For the biscuits:

  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • .5 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • .33 cup chickpea flour
  • .33 cup tapioca flour
  • 5 tsp baking powder
  • .5 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1.25 tsp xanthan Gum
  • 5 tbsp cold vegan butter
  • .66 cup hemp milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups seasonal veggies (see below for ideas), or frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup vegan chick’n, chickpeas, tofu cubes (brown them first!), or veggie grounds (Beyond Meat is gluten free)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1/4 cup hemp milk (separate)
  • 1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I like Krusteaz but have heard good things about Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  1. Place the apple cider vinegar at the bottom of a liquid measure and fill to the 2/3 of a cup line with hemp milk. Give it a quick stir and let sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Heat the 2 tbsp vegan butter over medium heat until bubbling and frothy.
  3. Saute the onion for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Stir in the 1/4 cup gluten free flour to create a roux. Cook for 1-3 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
  5. Slowly whisk in the broth. Set heat to medium low and whisk in the 1/4 cup hemp milk. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  7. While the gravy is simmering, combine the flours, baking powder, italian seasoning, xanthan gum, and nutritional yeast in a bowl. Dry whisk until well combined. Cut in the cold vegan butter with two knives or a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
  8. Slowly stir in the cold hemp milk/vinegar mixture until you have a soft dough. It should just come together, you may not need all the liquid.
  9. Roll out the dough to be about a half an inch thick, use english muffin rings or a large cup to cut out the biscuits to fit the top of the ramekins.
  10. Oil four 16 oz ramekins/soufle cups.
  11. When the gravy has thickened, salt it to taste. Add the seasonal veggies and “meat”, cook for 5-7 minutes.
  12. Spoon the filling equally into ramekins (about 3/4 cup per), then top with the biscuits. Bake for 15 minutes. Let sit for about 10 minutes after they come out, they will be hot!

Seasonal Suggestions:

Spring: Asparagus, green beans, peas, carrots, chickpeas
Summer: Tomatoes, finely chopped kale, celery, eggplant, beefy crumblesFall: Sweet potatoes, finely diced turnips, collards, Chick’n
Winter: Butternut/acorn squash diced (steam for 5-10 minutes before adding), turnips, rutabaga, parnsip (steam with the squash), beefy crumbles
All seasons: Frozen mixed vegetables, chick’n or beefy crumbles

 

WTFDYEE: Bac’n & Zucchini Hash Brown Quiche

This was a a bit of a sticky situation: we’ve recently gone (relatively) gluten free due to my husband’s Celiac’s (I still occasionally ingest it, but all shared meals are) and I wanted to make something special for a weekend breakfast. My hubby used to love quiche (and all things egg related really) but out of support for me he gave up eggs. I haven’t really mastered the art of gluten-free baking yet, so pie crusts are a bit out of my reach yet.What’s a girl to do?

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Hash browns. A while back I had seen an idea in a magazine for a hash brown crust and decided to take a crack at it, and well…just look at it. It’s breakfast perfection. Here’s how it was done:

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I grated a bunch of potatoes and rinsed them in my bowl until the water ran clean. This lifted all the oxidized “brown potato” off and helped to clear some of the starch away. I had to dry them off and salt them afterwards.

20160420_155429_HDR Once the oil was heated up, I pressed the proto-browns into the pan on medium high heat, then dropped it to just above medium. I had to let it sit for a while without stirring it to let it brown.

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Then, I put a heat-resistant plate on top and…

20160420_160639…flipped the proto-crust onto the plate.

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Slipped it back into the pan and let the other side cook a little while longer.

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After it was done browning, I put it onto a 12 inch pizza plate, then greased my pie plate. I flipped it quickly into the pie plate…

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And pressed it into the sides after it cooled for a few.

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I made the filling and put it in a bowl nearby…

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Then cooked the onions, zucchini, and tvp bacon in the frying pan.

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Once all the filling ingredients were together…

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I slipped them into the “pie crust” and smoothed the top. In to bake, and the results were heavenly.

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Vegan Hash Brown Quiche

  • 1.75 lbs russet potatoes (or other firm potatoes), coarsely shredded
  • 2 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • .5 cup raw cashews
  • .75 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • .5 tsp kala namak (or Indian black salt)
  • 1.5 tsp salt, divided
  • .5 tsp dried mustard
  • .25 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1.5 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 lb x-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
  • .5 medium onion, diced (about a cup)
  • .33 cup tvp
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce if not gluten free)
  • .25 cup boiling water
  1. Place shredded potatoes in a bowl, cover with water. Swirl with your hands until the water is cloudy, then drain. Repeat until the water runs relatively clear.
  2. Pat the potatoes dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and mix in thoroughly.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil with the butter on medium high heat until it foams heavily. Press the potatoes into the pan in one thick sheet.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 12-14 minutes, until thoroughly browned on one side.
  5. While the potatoes are cooking, combine the zucchini with .5 tsp salt in a colander and let drain.
  6. Place a plate over the potatoes and flip the pan to transfer the potatoes onto the plate. Slip back into the frying pan and cook for 10 more minutes.
  7. While the potatoes are cooking, place the tvp in a heat resistant bowl and stir in the boiling water, liquid aminos, and liquid smoke.
  8. Grease a 9″ pie plate and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Using a pizza plate, parchment paper, or the plate from earlier, slip the potatoes into the pie plate. Press the potato crust into the edges and corners to form a solid crust when cooled enough to handle.
  10. Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in the pan on medium heat, cook the onions for 5 minutes or until softened.
  11. While the onions are cooking, powder the cashews with the spices, kala namak, and .5 tsp salt in a high-speed blender or food processor.
  12. Add in tofu, nondairy milk, and cornstarch. Make sure to keep scraping the sides until the mixture is evenly mixed! Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
  13. Squeeze excess water from the zucchini and add to the pan. Cook an additional 3 minutes.
  14. Stir in the tvp, cook 2 more minutes.
  15. Stir into the bowl with the tofu mixture, stir together.
  16. Spread tofu mixture evenly into prepared crust.
  17. Bake for 50 minutes. Let sit for at least 15 before you cut into it!

Makes 6 servings.

The Many Types of Nondairy Milk and What to Use Them For

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Switching to nondairy milk is one of the first adjustments that comes to mind when one thinks of transitioning to veganism, and in my opinion one of the most enjoyable. Unlike animal based milks, where one either has to pay a great deal to own the animal or purchase the milk and is limited to a rather narrow band of options, a plethora of non-dairy milks exist on the market. Each of them excels in specific applications and lags behind in others in much the way various types of gluten free flours do. Finding which applications work the best for each is the key. This is going to be a bit of a long post, so bear with me!

Before I delve into the culinary applications of various types of vegan milk however, I would like to point out one thing: home made versions of these milks often taste different and have vastly differing textures to their commercial versions. In each section I will try to address the taste discrepancies between the two and give my recommendation as to which I have had a better experience with in order to clarify.

Also, milks made with nondairy milk machines (usually advertised as soy milk makers, but many of them can make raw milks and soup as well) have a different texture and consistency than milks made with traditional blender setups, though often are more similar to milks made with high speed blenders. If you like nondairy milk I highly recommend picking one up. I’ll do a post reviewing various types in the future, but the one I use the most often is my Soyajoy G4. It makes fantastic milk with a fine okara and the leftover nut pulp is almost flour by the time you dry it out. Definitely worth the investment if you want to save money making your own milk!

I know there are some other nondairy milks out there, the ones below are the ones I use in my own kitchen. Most of them are pretty common, the last two being the exceptions but well worth the trouble of making yourself.

The links on each of the names that have them will take you to a home recipe further down the page for that type of milk. I don’t have recipes for all of them, but I do for most!

Anyhow, onto the types of milks:

  • Soy milk is probably the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks nondairy. Silk makes an excellent soy milk, although Kroger makes a cheaper alternate that has slightly more of a “beany” aftertaste. Soy milk is great for drinking and cereal, is high in fiber, and when made from home and combined with coconut or hemp milk makes great ice cream. Thicker, homemade soy milk can also be used to make yogurt relatively easily! It’s the “staple” nondairy milk in my kitchen.
  • Almond milk is probably the second most popular milk alternate. Silk’s tastes a little closer to dairy milk (both the chocolate and vanilla) and homemade has the highest calcium content of the various milks available. It’s good for drinking and cereal as well, and stands up decently to baking, though it isn’t as fatty as coconut or hemp, so it doesn’t impart quite as much moisture. It’s a little more expensive to make than soy, but many people prefer the taste.
  • Hemp milk is thick and creamy and works as a fantastic tea and coffee creamer. When a baking recipe calls for a non-dairy milk (or any milk really) this is the one I turn to. When combined with soy it makes a great ice cream (though it can make decent ice cream on its own as well) and although it’s a little pricey to buy commercially, it’s often shelf stable and it’s relatively cheap to make. Need a substitute for half-and-half? Hemp milk has you covered.
  • Coconut milk is often found in cans, though in recent years thinned drinkable varieties have made it onto the market. It needs to be diluted with soy for ice cream, but if you don’t mind the coco-nutty aftertaste, its creaminess works beautifully in cream sauces and curries. It’s the traditional milk for Thai curries! I’ve found that when making sauces it’s best to dilute it a bit with hemp or cashew milk if you don’t want a pronounced cashew taste. The lite versions have less fat than the more traditional coconut milks, which can help reduce the fat in some recipes.
  • Cashew milk and cashew cream are my go-tos for cream sauces and ice cream making. The nuttiness of the milk mellows out and blends nicely in most recipes and the texture is reminiscent of full fat cream. It works well for whole milk and fantastically in baking, and when made from home leaves almost no nut pulp residue in a high speed blender. With a bit of soaking, even a normal blender can puree the nuts completely into the liquid! Cashews are pretty high in trace minerals as well.
  • Rice milk is often better commercially than homemade, as many recipes make more of a porridge than a milk. In my experience it has a bit of an aftertaste, but can apply well when cooking Asian inspired meals. It’s a cheaper alternate to coconut milk for curries, and often tastes good in a bowl with granola.
  • Flax milk is a relatively new entry into the market. Packed with Omega-3’s, there is a bit of a “flaxy” aftertaste to it, but when used as a creamer or in a bowl of cereal/cream soup this mostly disappears. I recommend cooking it at lower temperatures (sauces, gravies etc) because when brought to a boil or baked the aftertaste intensifies.
  • Mung bean milk is one that most people will not get to try, as it’s only available to those with milk makers or those adventurous enough to make their own, but relatively readily available in street markets in China. It’s a half-and-half split of soaked soy and mung beans blended into a milk, and has a slightly “slippery” texture. It works fantastically for gravies and sauces, with very little beany aftertaste. I also recommend it for baking, as the aforementioned texture adds a nice amount of moisture to cakes and cookies.
  • 5-bean or 5-grain milk is another type of milk that needs to be made from scratch that I had the pleasure of experiencing out in China. It’s made of a combination of buckwheat, millet, rice, oats, and soybeans, and is very smooth and creamy. It tastes the closest to “dairy milk” that I’ve found as far as nondairy milks go.

Home-made Vanilla Soy Milk

  • 4 cups soy beans
  • 1 gallon of water
  • .5 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp vanilla extract
  • .25 tsp bulk b12 powder (optional but I like to fortify my milks with it)
  • nut milk bag or cheese cloth
  1. Cover soy beans in water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes, then remove from heat. Let soak overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans.
  3. Take 1 quarter of the beans and blend with 4 cups of water on high speed. Depending on the power of your blender, this may take a few minutes. Strain through a nut milk bag (cheese cloth doesn’t work quite as well here, a nut milk bag is a worthy investment) into a large soup pan or stock pot. Squeeze to get out as much milk as you can! Repeat with remaining soy beans and water.
  4. Bring to a high simmer (medium to medium high heat depending on your stove) and cook for 10-15 minutes. This helps thicken the milk and reduce the beany flavor. Stir constantly as it will be sticky and want to make tofu skins!
  5. Let cool until lukewarm, then stir in sugar, salt and vanilla (and B12 if using). If you want to use it for cooking you can omit the vanilla and reduce the sugar by half. With a soy milk maker you can also reduce the beans by half.

Makes just over 3/4 of a gallon. Save the okara if you make it by hand, there are all kinds of neat things you can do with it! It’s high in fiber and can easily be slipped into baked goods and the like for added nutrition.

Home-made Almond Milk

  • 1 cup almonds, soaked overnight in cold water
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar or 1.5 tbsp maple syrup or 1 tbsp agave or 2-3 dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Drain and rinse the almonds, then blend on high speed in a blender until relatively pulverized.
  2. Strain through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth lined strainer, reserving the nut pulp if you wish. Squeeze to get out as much milk as you can!
  3. Whisk in the sweetener and vanilla if you desire. Quadruple the recipe for a whole gallon!

For chocolate almond milk, rinse the blender and add .5 tbsp cocoa powder and 2 tbsp nondairy chocolate chips and blend until well combined along with the sweeteners and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

For another nice treat, add a cup of strawberries during step one and sweeten accordingly. It almost tastes like a smoothie, and it’s a hit with kids! You can do the same with blueberries and blackberries, the nut milk bag or cheesecloth will catch the fiber and seeds, leaving you with a fantastic fruity milk.

Home-made Hemp Milk

  • 2 cups hemp hearts
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Blend the hemp hearts and water on high speed for 2-4 minutes.
  2. Strain through a nut milk bag or cheese-cloth lined strainer. Squeeze to get out as much milk as you can! Whisk in desired flavorings. Quadruple the recipe for a gallon, it makes a quart.

Cashew Cream or Milk

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours if not using a high speed blender
  • 3 cups water (4 if making milk)
  • .5 tbsp sugar
  • .25 tsp salt
  1. Blend all ingredients on high speed until cashews entirely disappear. If not using a high speed blender, this could take several minutes. You may wish to keep a nut milk bag handy just in case. Quadruple the recipe for a gallon of the milk, it makes a quart.

Home-made Rice Milk

  • 1 cup cooked long grain brown rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • .25 tsp salt
  • .5 tbsp vanilla
  1. Blend the rice and water on high speed until the rice almost seems to disappear. Strain through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth lined strainer. Squeeze to get out as much milk as you can!
  2. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients if desired. This milk will only keep for a few days in the fridge, so unless there is a large demand for it a quart at a time is plenty. Quadruple the recipe if you want a gallon though!

Home Made Mung Bean Milk

  • .5 cup mung beans
  • .5 cup soy beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • .5 tsp salt
  1. Place beans in pot and cover with at least 3 inches more water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Cover and let soak for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. Blend with 4 cups fresh water on high speed until pulverized, then strain through a nut milk bag. Squeeze to get as much milk out as you can!
  3. Bring to a high simmer (medium to medium high heat depending on your stove) and cook for 10-15 minutes. This helps thicken the milk and reduce the beany flavor. Stir constantly as it will be sticky.
  4. Let cool until lukewarm, then stir in sugar and salt. With a soy milk maker you can also reduce the beans by half. Makes a quart.

5-Grain Milk

  • .25 cup buckwheat
  • .25 cup millet
  • .25 cup rice
  • .25 cup oats
  • .33 cup soy beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • .25 tsp salt
  1. Soak the grains in cold water 4 hours to overnight.
  2. Boil water and pour over soy beans, soak 4 hours to overnight.
  3. Drain and rinse grains and beans, combine with water and blend until thick and creamy.
  4. Strain through a nut milk bag and squeeze to extract most of the milk.
  5. Heat to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  6. Wait until lukewarm, then whisk in sugar and salt. A tsp of vanilla works well here too. Quadruple the recipe if you want a gallon!

Budget Vegan Tips: Dried Beans

I’m sure you’ve heard this one a thousand times: dried beans are significantly cheaper than canned ones. Most larger chain stores carry them in bags and in bulk, bulk being the ideal of course on both price and often quality. I’ve noticed that dried is the only way that you can get some of the nicer heirloom beans such as rattlesnake and yin-yang beans, either at the farmers market or in the garden, and once you have them the problem then becomes cooking them so you can use them in your recipes.

Who wants to have to go to all the trouble of soaking and cooking beans? Ultimately many of us end up opting for canned beans out of time-crunch based necessity, however, there are a few ways to make this process less of a burden.

I discussed pressure cooking dried beans in a previous post, including cooking times, but one thing I didn’t cover was quick-soaking. Quick soaking requires only two hours (rather than requiring you to remember to soak beans right before bed) and can end up helping to destroy more of the toxin in bean shells that contribute to gastrointestinal upset when we eat them! Quick soaking is pretty easy too: put the beans and enough water to cover (I like using about 4-6 cups of water per cup of beans to be on the safe side) into a pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes uncovered, then cover and let soak for 1.5-2 hours. Cook as normal in either the pressure cooker or a pot according to cooking times!

You can also cook unsoaked beans in a slow cooker overnight so that they’ll be ready in the morning. Slow cookers are fantastic for this purpose, particularly if you want to use the beans for something like breakfast sausages! The only beans you need to be wary of using this method for are kidney beans. They contain a mild toxin that needs to be brought to boiling temperatures to be rid of, so boil them for around 10 minutes before using this method. Otherwise, just put your dried beans in the slow cooker and cover them with water at least 3 inches above the top of the beans the night before. Cook them on low and make sure that they get a good 6-9 hours cook time before you take them out. Because of the lower temperatures you have a LOT more wiggle room with this method as far as cook times, and that’s what makes it so convenient!

Dried and soaked beans can be used another way as well – you can can them yourself. This requires a pressure canner (not an electric pressure cooker, they can’t get to high enough pressure to can), but it’s well worth the investment if you go through a lot of beans. Most vegans do, and the convenience of home canned beans really can’t be beat. You can use pint jars for to replace the typical “15 oz” 1.5 cup store jars, or you can use quart jars for larger quantities for things like hummus. You’ll need to check the pressure cooker’s manual for specific instructions on capacity (if you can fit more jars then adjust the recipe as necessary to max out the number of cans you can get in at one time), but here’s my general canning recipe for 1 lb beans:

Home Canned Beans

  • 1 lb beans, soaked overnight or quick soaked
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • water
  • 4 pint jars OR 1 quart jar with fresh lids and rings
  • Pressure canner

NOTE: The FDA recommends boiling beans for 30 minutes prior to canning them, but I’ve noticed that not only are the beans often mushy using this method, they often end up less flavorful than if you simply soaked them and covered them in boiling water as I describe below. Do so at your own risk – just because I’ve never gotten sick doesn’t mean someone in your household won’t, and if you have someone high risk in your house such as an older, immune compromised, or under 5 year old household member, then you may wish to err on the side of caution and boil them first.

  1. Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly, discard the soaking water.
  2. Bring 8-12 cups of fresh water to a boil.
  3. Divide the beans equally into the jars using a canning funnel (or just dump them all in the quart jar if that’s what you’re using) and fill with boiling water, leaving one inch or so of head space. Add 1/4 tsp salt per pint or the whole tsp of salt for the quart.
  4. Wipe the rims and place the fresh lids and rings on, hand-tightening to secure.
  5. Place in the pressure canner and follow the directions on your canner as to how much water to use, each model is different. If it came with an insert to life the jars from the bottom of the canner, USE IT. It’s a lifesaver and can help prevent broken jars.
  6. Bring to 11 lbs of pressure, maintain for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the burner and let cool until all pressure is released. DO NOT QUICK RELEASE THE PRESSURE.
  8. Using canning tongs, remove the cans and listen for the characteristic “pop” sound that tells you the cans are sealing. If any of them are not sealed within an hour, refrigerate them and use them within a week.

Enjoy your canned beans! This recipe works for just about any kind of bean that I can think of, they’re all about equal once they’re soaked under high pressure. My canner can hold up to 10 pint jars at a time and I’ll often can 2-3 different kinds of beans together to save time. They last about 6 months to a year, just keep an eye on them. They taste a LOT better than store canned beans, and if you grew them all the better!

WTFDYEE: Vegan Crunch Wraps!

A little personal detail here: back in the early days of our relationship, long before I went vegetarian (let alone vegan), my husband used to take me out to eat every time we’d fight. He did this out of a mistaken sense of obligation and a misplaced sense of concern, because he saw cooking as a burden for me and if I was still upset after a fight, he reasoned that I shouldn’t have to do it. Unfortunately, due to his work schedule, this usually meant we went to one of two places: Taco Bell or McDonald’s.

Fast forward to today, and even though I’ve been vegan now for 3 years I still find myself occasionally craving some of the things I used to eat there! Following a fight with Deyna I bemoaned another craving, and the reply I received was an exasperated, “You’ve cooked everything in the whole damn world, MAKE ONE YOURSELF.” Challenge accepted.

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I started by researching the omnivorous recipe for one rather than searching the vegan blogosphere because I wanted this to have my own personal touch. I discovered that it is made of 4 major non-vegan components: some form of taco meat (tvp), nacho cheese dip (made my own),sour cream (silken tofu), and cheddar shreds (daiya). After I discovered handmade (in all but one case) suitable replacements, I looked at my next qualm about the fast food version: the tortilla.My husband has celiacs and I despise the taste of white flour, so I decided to make the recipe gluten-free with the exception of the wrap, which I could have whole wheat and he could use his! So the recipe below is for a gluten-free crunch wrap that you can easily substitute gluten-containing products for if you have them. The process is simple:

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Make the tvp taco meat.

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Whip up a batch of vegan queso using nooch, unsweetened nondairy milk, and some spices.

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Slap a half a cup of the “meat” in the middle of the tortilla.

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Smear 1-2 tbsp of the cheez on one side of a tostada and place it cheez-down on the tvp crumbles.

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Smear some of that delicious silken tofu sour cream on the other side!

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Scatter a handful of lettuce (I used romaine in the picture), chopped tomato, and cheddar shreds (normally I have cashew cheddah around but the pictured is Daiya because my latest batch was still aging).

I didn’t get a picture of the folding process, but I’ll describe it as best I can: fold the bottom of the tortilla up until it meets the edge of the tostada, then rotate and fold the next section up in the same way, repeat six times. 20160321_204526

Then spray some nonstick on a frying pan and place it face-down. Fry for 3 minutes on each side on medium heat and enjoy!

Gluten-Free (if you want) Vegan Crunch Wraps!

Vegan Sour Cream

  • 1 10.5-oz package lite firm silken tofu
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • 1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil or safflower oil
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • .5 tsp salt

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor, blend until smooth, scraping down the sides if needed.

Nacho Cheeze Spread and Dip

  • .5 cup gluten free (I used Krusteaz gf all purpose mix) or all purpose flour
  • .5 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • .5 tsp garlic powder
  • .25 tsp cayenne
  • 2 cups nondairy milk (hemp, cashew, or soy is best)
  • .25 cup oil (canola or safflower works well, olive adds its own taste)
  • 1 tsp dijon
  • 1 tsp white miso
  1. Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and spices over medium heat in a medium saucepan until well combined.
  2. Slowly whisk in the nondairy milk, oil, and mustard.
  3. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 , minutes until thick and bubbly. If you’re using gf flour, it’ll start to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit if the mix contains xanthan gum.
  4. Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the miso before it solidifies. Let cool.

The Crunch Wrap

  • 2 cups tvp
  • 1/3 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos or thin soy sauce
  • boiling water
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • taco seasoning packet (old El Paso is gluten and dairy free)
  • gluten-free, whole wheat, or white tortilla shells (burrito or wrap size is best)
  • tostadas (gluten free if desired)
  • vegan nacho cheez
  • vegan sour cream
  • thinly sliced lettuce (1 head romaine makes 8 wraps)
  • diced tomato (1 lb tomatoes makes 8-12 wraps)
  • vegan cheddar shreds (I used daiya)
  • cooking spray
  • tostadas
  1. Pour the liquid aminos into a liquid measure, then fill to 1.5 cups with boiling water.
  2. Place tvp into a heatproof bowl, stir mixture into tvp. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat (nonstick is best). Pour in tvp, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in taco seasoning packet and required amount of water, simmer until absorbed. Remove from pan and set aside, wipe down pan. Heat again with cooking spray while you assemble the sandwich.
  4. Place a half a cup of tvp mixture in the center of your chosen tortilla. If you’re using gluten free or particularly stiff tortillas, it can help if you dry-fry the tortilla for 30 seconds on each side (no oil in the pan!) or steal the tortilla in the microwave under a damp paper towel or rage for 30 seconds.
  5. Smear 1-3 tbsp of the nacho cheeze onto one side of tostada, place cheez-side down on the tvp.
  6. Smear 1-3 tbsp sour cream on the other side.
  7. Scatter a handful of lettuce and a tbsp or two of diced tomatoes on top of the sour cream. Then scatter a small handful of the cheddah shreds. Press down gently (try not to break the tostada) to nest the toppings in the cream.
  8. Fold the bottom of the tortilla up until the fold (not the edge of the tortilla) meets the edge of the tostada, then rotate and fold the next section up in the same way while overlapping the previous fold, repeat six times. If there is a hole in the middle because of the tortilla size, tear a piece off of an extra tortilla that is slightly bigger than said hole and tuck it under the folds so that the filling is covered. I had to do this for the one pictured!
  9. Place the wrap tortilla side down on the preheated pan and fry for 3 minutes on each side in the cooking spray. Enjoy your crunch wrap!

Makes between 8 and 12 depending on how much you use of the ingredients. You can replace the tvp filling with refried or whole beans, chick’n, seitan (if you’re not gluten free), or anything you like really. Avocado tastes fantastic instead of the dip or sour cream also! The sky’s the limit!

WTFDYEE: Mushroom Glazed Tofu

I’m going to quote my mother-in-law on this one: There is NEVER a wrong time for Chinese food. So for this week’s What the Fuck Do You Even Eat, I decided to put up a recipe for some good old fashioned vegan takeout.

I lived with a Buddhist family in China for around 6 months when I had planned on teaching out there. One might say that they were my true introduction to vegetarianism, for their diet was nearly vegan. Cheese isn’t used nearly as much out there, dairy is expensive, and they had a wonderful Joyoung soy milk maker that ended up being a staple in many of their recipes.

I learned a lot of things from Hou Minchi, who was the host mother in the family I was staying with. When I wasn’t training and she was in the kitchen, she taught me the wonders of pressing freshly made tofu and searing it just so in a wok, how soy sauce will coat and glaze with exactly the right amount of oil in the pan, and why Chinese cuisine as endured so long.

This recipe is similar to one I had while living out there. The tofu is cut into small, thin triangles and fried in hot oil until just browned. Then the mushroom sauce is sauteed and thickened, the tofu put back in, and the entire thing simmered just long enough for those exotic flavors to blend. I like serving this with a side of freshly cooked brown rice (if you start the rice when you soak the mushrooms and do the prep it should get done at the same time) and hoisin glazed green beans (which are totally in season right now!).

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Mushroom Glazed Tofu

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 1 lb x-firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 30 minutes
  • 10 dried shiitake mushrooms or 1/2 oz black fungus
  • 1.5 tbsp peanut oil
  • 8-10 oz mushrooms of your choice (I like oysters or creminis)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white/light green and dark green parts separated
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh or 1.5 tbsp pickled ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp thick soy sauce or soy paste
  • .5 tsp sugar or 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp cream or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  1. Soak the mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Drain the mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Pour through a paper towel to get the grit out and make sure you have at least 1/2 cup. If you don’t, add more water until you do.
  3. Rinse the mushrooms and squeeze out excess liquid. Stem and thinly slice.
  4. Cut the tofu into 4 squares, then cut each square in half (triangles), then each triangle into thirds sitting on its longest side. You’ll end up with 24 triangles.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil on medium high heat and fry the tofu until browned on both sides. This can take about 2-3 minutes on each side if the oil is properly heated. Remove to a side plate or dish.
  6. Place the remaining oil in the skillet and heat it. Toss in the ginger, garlic, all the mushrooms, and the white part of the scallions. Stir constantly for 2-4 minutes, until fragrant and softened.
  7. Add the soaking liquid, soy sauce, wine, and mirin and bring to a high simmer. Drop the heat down to medium
  8. Toss in the tofu, green parts of the scallions, 1/2 the sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the mushrooms are done and the liquid is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.
  9. Stir in the remaining sesame oil and serve!

 

Budget Vegan Tips: Bake Bread

Baking your own bread in a bread machine or by hand is one of the easiest ways to save money as a vegan. Especially because some famous bread companies use animal ingredients (particularly dairy and honey) in most of their breads!

Bread is a staple that has been around for centuries. In the modern day, there are dozens of different flour companies and types to sample and experiment with. I highly recommend trying various bread recipes with different brands of flour to see what you like best. If you can wait until the different brands go on sale or coupon (many stores also have a bulk section and some managers will inform you of the brand stocked there if you ask nicely) you can save quite a bit!

My personal favorite for whole-grain baking (because why waste any of those wonderful b-vitamins, iron, and fiber for a sweeter bread?) is King Arthur Flour. The slightly higher than average protein content in their breads coupled with their excellent cookbook ended up sealing the deal for me.

There are several different kinds of yeast available on the market. Red Star is one of the most famous, followed by Fleischamanns and SAF.These can be particularly useful if you’re short on time or own a bread machine. I typically use quick rise yeast for most applications, though I’ve really been getting into more “traditional style” baking.

If you’re really going for budget, you can start your own culture. By mixing the bread with a little water and salt and proofing it (letting it sit out and turning it/punching it down throughout the day) you will end up with a wonderful sourdough starter. An advantage to this is that in addition to yeast this culture will also contain Lactobacillis to help break down the complex starches and gluten which makes the bread more digestible.

Here are two whole grain recipes to get you started. One uses active dry yeast, the other uses a small amount as a starter and allows you to age a starter culture.

Whole Wheat Agave Bread

  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 1.5 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat bread flour (if your supermarket doesn’t stock it, there are suppliers online)
  • 1.5 tsp rapid-rising or active dry yeast (Rapid rising is best reserved for bread machines)
  1. Warm the milk until it reaches lukewarm (between 105 and 115 degrees F) temperatures, then transfer to a warmed bowl. Stir in the yeast and agave, let proof for around 5 minutes or until bubbly.
  2. Stir in the butter, whole wheat flour, salt, and half the bread flour. Beat until a dough forms. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the remaining flour and beat until a smooth dough forms. It’ll probably be pretty sticky, so make sure to keep flour nearby to flour your fingers with!
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and knead for around 5 minutes, until it’s smooth and springy. If you poke it, it should go most of the way back to its original shape within a few seconds.
  5. Wash the bowl and lightly grease it with oil or cooking spray. I like to brush mine with a little olive oil to add a nice flavor compliment. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to grease the top, you want the dough to have a light coating of oil so it doesn’t stick, but not so much that it’s greasy. Cover it with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.
  6. Lightly grease a 5″x9″ loaf pan. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  7. Punch it down and shape into a round or oblong loaf. Place the loaf with the smooth side down into the pan. Cover again with greased plastic wrap and let rise for another 30-60 minutes, or however long it takes to roughly double. I like preheating my oven at this stage (375 Degrees F) and setting the pan on the burner it exhausts into (without turning on the burner of course) to warm the pan and help it rise. This works really well in the winter where warm bread can be a godsend but the prevailing temperatures aren’t being cooperative!
  8. Once the oven is preheated and the dough risen, pop that sucker into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. You know it’s done when a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
  9. Turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you cut it. You can brush the outsides with more oil or vegan butter if you like, this will soften the crust for those of you who don’t like crusty bread. I know it’s gonna be tempting to cut into it right away, but all that moisture stays intact if you wait. The smell alone makes it worth it!

Note: This recipe works just fine in most bread makers, it counts as the “medium” setting and the “regular” or “medium weight” loaf setting.

Sourdough Starter

  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 tsp active dry yeast.
  1. In a large non-metal bowl or the crock of a slow cooker (if you have one with a lid, go for that one! Glass works best) combine all ingredients.
  2. Cover and let stand for 24-36 hours, or until it gets bubble and has a delicious sweet and sour smell. You can store it in your fridge.
  3. This is your own little baby yeast and Lactobacillis colony. You’ll want to feed it at least once a week and after every use with a mix of half warm water, half flour, and let it repopulate for an hour or two or until it’s bubbly again. Make sure it’s covered in your fridge!

Wheat Sourdough Bread (or French Bread If You Want it!)

  • .5 cup water
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread flour
  • 1.5 tsp dry yeast

 

  1. Set out the sourdough starter for a while and bring to room temperature.
  2. Warm the water until it reaches a lukewarm (between 105 and 115 degrees F) temperature, then transfer to a warmed bowl. Add the sourdough starter and the yeast. Let sit around for 5 minutes, or until it’s really bubbly.
  3. Stir in the salt, whole wheat flour, and half the bread flour. Beat until a dough forms. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the remaining flour and beat until a smooth dough forms. It’ll probably be pretty sticky, so make sure to keep flour nearby to flour your fingers with!
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and knead for around 5 minutes, until it’s smooth and springy. If you poke it, it should go most of the way back to its original shape within a few seconds.
  6. Wash the bowl and lightly grease it with oil or cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to grease the top, you want the dough to have a light coating of oil so it doesn’t stick, but not so much that it’s greasy. Cover it with a lid or plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour.
  7. Lightly grease a 5″x9″ loaf pan, or a baking tile/baking sheet. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  8. Punch it down and shape into a round or oblong loaf. Place the loaf with the smooth side down into the pan or on the sheet. Cover again with greased plastic wrap and let rise for another 1.5-2 hours, or however long it takes to roughly double. I like preheating my oven at this stage (375 Degrees F) and setting the pan (or cookie sheet) on the burner it exhausts into (without turning on the burner of course) to warm the pan and help it rise. This works really well in the winter where warm bread can be a godsend but the prevailing temperatures aren’t being cooperative!
  9. Once the oven is preheated and the dough risen, slash three times on the top of the loaf with a sharp knife, brush or spritz it with a bit of water, and pop that sucker into the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until it’s golden brown. You know it’s done when a skewer comes out clean from the middle.
  10. Turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before you cut it. This loaf has been slow-risen with a multi-culture and should make you salivate when you bite into it, further aiding digestion.

Enjoy your baking adventures!