Friday, December 12, 2008


I have 17 days before we load our stuff on a truck, and I haven't packed a thing. In the interest of procrastination, I thought I'd regale you with tales of holidays past, present and future. This nostalgia was definitely sparked last night when I heard my neighbor's Christmas lights whistling a jaunty tune.

As a child, Christmas was synonymous with joy. I was never really in it for the presents. It was the magic. Santa, kindness, chocolate chip cookies as we sat around the tree. My parents were and still are Christmas fanatics. My dad does the lights, and my mom does the tree. She also hunts down every Black Santa, Mrs. Claus and angel she can find. New ornaments representing me, my sister and my brother go up every year. Since getting married, our husbands can be found dangling from pine tree limbs as well.

When I discovered Santa was fake, the magic died a little. But I made a choice to not let that happen. From the time I was 8 until I moved out of the house, I had an extra special Christmas morning tradition. Just before everybody woke up, I'd sneak downstairs by myself. I'd sit on the floor and stare up at the tree. I'd take it all in. Flashing lights, shiny presents, and scent of fresh pine needles. Then I'd hum along to whatever tune was playing. That was my magic. To sit alone and thank the universe for the day.

This year, I have no reason to celebrate or decorate. It's just me and the dogs. The fun is definitely not here. This is the first time in SEVERAL years that we aren't having a Festivus celebration. It's making me kinda sad. But the truth is...I'm also really happy. My husband will be here in a week...and when he leaves this time, I'll be with him.

And not all hope is lost. We'll be spending Christmas at my parents. A day of feasting on appetizers and getting incredibly drunk. I'm also thinking there will be much Phase 10 and Trivial Pursuit. And I can't forget the food. I'll be perfecting my deviled tofu recipe. I'm planning on bringing it as well as black bean salsa, a pesto cheezeball, and a vegetable tart. Hooray for vegan choices!

What are you making for Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Festivus, Kwanzaa, the holidays?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Cheeze Please

Ever bought something and gone "Are you serious?" I recently did a huge order from Pangea. I purchased Dr. Cow's Cashew Cheese, Mozzarella Cheezly, and Cheddar Teese. Dr. Cow's was around 7 dollars. Imagine my shock when I opened my package and saw this:
Just so you know, many people have told me I have freakishly small hands. That 3 oz piece of cheeze didn't even cover my entire palm. I find it to be ridiculously overpriced and will be making my own raw cheese from now on.

The flavor was creamy and tangy. There was a slightly sour aftertaste, which really made it taste like cheese. I was never a connoisseur of cheese, but it was slightly funky like walking past the cheese section in Central Market. The product description compares it to good artisanal cheese.

In conclusion, Dr. Cow's is incredibly expensive but tastes damn fine on Triscuits.
Another thing my husband and I fell in love with over thanksgiving break: Lachesis' alfredo stroganoff. By far THE best alfredo sauce I've had. So good. Super creamy and thick. Great flavor.
I'll leave you with a picture of the pepper jack I made from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. It has a nice, delicate shred and melts beautifully. It tastes awesome in potato and bacn tacos. I don't recommend eating it alone because the mustard and onion flavor is pretty powerful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Get Ya Nog On

Holiday time in the Martin household went like this: deliver Christmas lists to the parents, watch as my sister and mom baked ridiculous amounts of cookies, Christmas light viewing...and the search for the ultimate eggnog ice cream. Seeing as how I am moving to California in about three weeks and I still don't have a working standard fridge (rockin a mini right now)...I'll settle for the ultimate vegan nog.

The debate to end all debates: Silk Nog vs. Vitasoy's Holly Nog. I really wanted to do a side by side comparison because I felt I didn't give the Holly Nog a fair chance to begin with. I judged each nog in five categories: egg nog flavor, creaminess, thickness, spices, and overall flavor. I scored them on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being awesome. And because I wanted to be all professional, I made sure to cleanse my palate. By "cleanse my palate" I mean "I ate cinnamon rolls and white cheddar Cheezly standing up in my kitchen between each taste." It was very Carrie Bradshawesque.

Vitasoy Holly Nog
Egg Nog Flavor: 3
Creaminess: 3
Thickness: 3.5
Spices: 4
Overall Flavor: 3

Silk Nog
Egg Nog Flavor: 3.5
Creaminess: 3
Thickness: 4
Spices: 3
Overall Flavor: 3.5

And the numbers are: Holly Nog-16.5 and Silk Nog-17 with Silk Nog as the winner. Vitasoy's version had a great creaminess and thickness to it, but the spices I found to be a tad overwhelming. With Silk Nog, there was still a creamy thickness AND a better balance of flavor.

I will admit, however, that Holly Nog tastes better in a white Russian. Especially if you use the espresso vodka I mentioned in my last post. I think the extra spices work well when it's added to something because it doesn't disappear in the background.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tofurky Day Redux

It's December already! What the hell? November went by so friggin fast.

And now I present to you the ultimate in Thanksgiving leftover sammiches:
Take two pieces of bread. Slather cranberry sauce on one side and dijon mustard on the other. Place tofurky (or equivalent) on the side with mustard and stuffing/dressing on the side with cranberry. Top both sides with mashed potatoes and gravy. The key is to use minimal ingredients. And serve with pickled okra, which is my latest obsession.
I hope everybody's holiday went well. I spent mine with my husband and family. We did Thanksgiving at my parents. I brought pumpkin baked ziti, the newly revamped and veganized Onion, Pepper, and Spinach Quiche Bites from Vegetarian Times, and some cookies.

The quiche bites were a huge hit. I'm happy to say that the changes I made were most excellent in a Bill and Ted sorta way.

Quiche Bites
1 Tbsp olive oil
nonstick spray
2 Tbsp bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 10oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of liquid
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
3/4 cup grated white cheddar Cheezly (or whatever cheeze you like)
1/2 cup blended silken tofu
1 tsp arrowroot powder
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 tsp salt
16 2 inch square crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 glass casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and coat the bottom and 1/3 up the sides with the bread crumbs.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, cooking until soft. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and place in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheeze.

In a food processor or blender, add the silken tofu, arrowroot, almond milk and salt and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture over the veggies and cheeze. Be sure to smooth it down and let it soak into the casserole.

Bake 45 minutes to an hour, until the casserole is a golden brown color. Cool completely before slicing into 16 pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature.
On Saturday, my husband and I had our own vegan Thanksgiving. I made a lot of recipes from the Nov 08 Vegetarian Times. We had tofurkey, pumpkin cornbread stuffing (idea stolen from Wes and made from Crystal's cornbread recipe), roasted sweet potatoes, champ, DEOTS gravy with mushrooms added, VT's green beans with walnuts and shallot crisps, VT's classic chestnut soup with marsala mushrooms (pictured above), VT's cranberry-pecan salad (also pictured above), and the holiday cranberry sauce from Vcon. Twas delicious.
I also made the lemon bars from Vcon after I made a pie from My Sweet Vegan that turned out horribly for me. The lemon part of these bars would make fantastic jello shots. Just sayin'...

Perhaps my greatest discovery this week was white Russians made with soy nog. Thanks, Pamela! I also found Seagram's espresso vodka at the liquor store and it has changed my life. LOVE!

Happy Holidays y'all!