Archive forJune, 2010

Sherry Mustard

A trip to Penzeys on Sunday resulted in an abundance of mustard seeds, so it seemed appropriate to make mustard. This was based on a recipe by Emeril, even though I’ve made it before and wasn’t wowed. I thought maybe the sherry would make a difference, but frankly I don’t really taste the sherry over the mustard and I probably wasted what was actually pretty nice sherry. So I think I’ll continue to play around with this recipe – it’s good and it’s mustardy but it’s not amazing – but in the interest of recording what I did this time for myself (and as an excuse to post more kitten pictures), I’ll post it (and also accept suggestions from any veteran mustard makers).

Sherry Mustard

3 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds
3 Tbsp brown mustard seeds
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp cream sherry
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) sherry vinegar
6 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
pinch tarragon
1 tsp brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a jar, close, and shake.

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Put in a blender, coffee/spice grinder, or food processor.

Blend until as smooth or grainy as you like. Add additional water (or other liquid) by the tablespoon if necessary.

I taste-tested it on some Sheese and crackers.

And stored (some of) it in the adorable mustard pot my mom gave me.

I have a couple of mustard pots (courtesy of Mom), but this is the only one that has a built-in spoon in the top. Cute!

Speaking of cute (I think you know where this is going)…

I had the flash on my camera, pointed to bounce off the kitchen ceiling to take pictures of the mustard, when I noticed the kittens being cute in the living room, which was positively flooded with early evening sunlight. So I turned the flash off and tried to get pictures of them, but instead of looking at me, or toys, or chessmen, or each other, they kept staring intently at the ceiling and walls, emitting tiny Tribble noises of excitement. Turns out the sun was reflecting off the flash and sending dots of light dancing all over the walls of the room, driving them mad. Torticia is so intent…

She and Gomez apparently went crazy with the chess set today; chessmen are all over the place.

It’s not too obvious in this smaller version, but in the full-size version of this photo, you can actually see the chessmen reflected in Gomez’s eye.

When going through this set of photos, I almost deleted this one with all the other blurry ones, but then I decided it amuses me, and anyway this is actually what Torticia looks like most of the time as she’s constantly in motion (unless she’s asleep, and when she’s asleep, she’s dead asleep).

These kittens are way too fascinated with this glass coffee table (which actually belongs to Fortinbras). One of them is always trying to play chess from the wrong side of the glass. And here Gomez is trying to get Torticia’s tail…from the wrong side of the glass.

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Yellow Wax Beans

Another farmers market purchase was yellow wax beans. I used some in a soup that also incorporated the rest of my lima beans last night (yes, it was 100 degrees here yesterday and no, I don’t believe in “soup season”), but I decided to showcase the rest in a wax bean-intensive dish, which I based off this recipe on The Crispy Cook.

Yellow Wax Beans with Tomatoes and Shallots

2 cups yellow wax beans, trimmed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 or 2 healthy splashes champagne or white wine vinegar
flaked sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Boil the beans in water to cover for 5 minutes or until just past crisp-tender. Drain and run under cold water. In the same pot, heat a little oil, add the shallot and cook until soft, then add the tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add the beans and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

We got home a bit late tonight and, having been at a not-overly-vegan-friendly conference all day, I was starving, so this was quickly put together and served with Gardein Crispy Tenders, a cucumber salad I made yesterday, and a few pickled radishes.

Gomez and Torticia are proving to be mighty popular with readers, so I wouldn’t dream of making a post without pictures, but when we got home they were WOUND UP, and it is very hard to take pictures of kittens that are running around like lunatics, especially with a flash that has batteries that need to be recharged (and is therefore taking a while to cycle between flashes), and especially when one is starving and trying to cook dinner at the same time. So these pictures may not be very good, but they do capture the essence of An Evening With Gomez and Torticia.

The day before I brought the kittens home, I spent close to $200 buying them supplies, which included a number of toys. They also inherited toys from Tigger and Brachtune. Then last weekend, my mom and aunt came to visit and singlehandedly more than tripled their toy supply. What I’m trying to say here is these cats are NOT hurting for cat toys. Naturally, their favorite thing in the world is pipe cleaners. This picture amuses me because it looks like the pipe cleaner is a squiggle I rather inartistically added in GIMP (which, I’m afraid, is how I do everything in GIMP), but really Torticia is tossing it into the air. (The pipe cleaner used to be wound up in a nice spiral.)

I love, love, love it when cats carry their toys around in their mouths.

Torticia managed to lose the red pipe cleaner so I gave her a new yellow one, which she again carried around in her mouth because she knows how to make me swoon with her cuteness.

Speaking of losing toys, at the exact same time the red pipe cleaner went missing, Gomez lost HIS toy under the heater. At least he seemed to; he tried to retrieve it for so long I interceded on his behalf and there was absolutely no toy there. No idea what he did with it.

Poor Gomez.

I found him a new toy but he wasn’t sure if it was a fair trade for his pawn.

You can’t tell here but his final decision was whatever Torticia was playing with.

Finally, Torticia surrendered her toy to Gomez and invaded my dinner.

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Simple Fresh Lima Beans, and Braised Radishes

Well, an unexpected but welcome benefit of having kittens is I can go to the Saturday farmer’s market. If that seems like an incongruous statement, let me explain. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to sleep through the farmer’s market on Saturdays. Which has been a bit frustrating this summer because it’s also been hard for me to get to the Wednesday market I went to last year because I’ve been going into work earlier in order to swim every day after work. The kittens, however, don’t share my love of sleeping in on weekends and feel 5 a.m. is an appropriate time to arise. I guess when you’re a kitten every day is exciting as Christmas morning is to a 6-year old. So although I obviously didn’t get up at 5 a.m., I was up early enough yesterday to go to the farmer’s market. And immediately kicked myself for not going prior weeks, because it was awesome.

One thing I bought was a pint of fresh lima beans. Which may also seem incongruous considering I hate lima beans. Or rather, I used to. I hated them as a child, although I was far from a picky eater and ate pretty much everything else. Then last year I made myself Garlicky Chipotle Lima Beans and loved them. So that proved I liked dried limas. But what about fresh? It seemed time to find out.

There is a lot of conflicting information about lima beans on the internet. According to some people, they aren’t lima beans at all but butter beans. And some people say to cook them for 10 to 15 minutes, whereas other insist on a couple of hours – yes, even for fresh. It seems fresh limas aren’t very common to begin with as nearly every recipe calls for dried or frozen. So I decided to cook them simply, as I prefer my side dishes anyway, and let their lima flavor shine through to either wow or disgust me. Fortunately for me, they did the former.

Simple Fresh Lima Beans

1 1/2 cups fresh shelled lima beans
water to cover
1 Tbsp vegan powdered bouillon
salt and pepper to taste (I used smoked Maldon)
drizzle of olive oil

Put the shelled lima beans in a small, heavy-bottomed pot and cover with water.

Bring to a boil and add the bouillon, salt, and pepper.

Boil for 15 to 30 minutes. I tasted them at 15 minutes and they were about done, but the rest of the meal wasn’t, so I let them simmer for another 15 minutes, after which they tasted pretty much the same and didn’t feel much more cooked (somewhat surprisingly).

Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

I also bought a pint of radishes at the market, being on a bit of a radish kick. I wanted to pickle some of them, but also wanted to try something new with some as well. I got the idea to braise them from this Rachel Ray recipe. I read that cooked radishes taste like mild Brussels sprouts (yum!), but I thought they tasted like artichoke hearts. What they did NOT taste like was radishes. Unfortunately, my insistence they tasted nothing like radishes did not convince Mark to eat any. I forced him to eat a tiny bite and he made one of those awful faces he makes when he feels tortured by food. Oh well, more for me. I heated up some frozen corn for his second vegetable.

Braised Radishes

1 cup radishes, trimmed and halved
1 cup vegan stock (vegetable or “chicken”)
2 tsp white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (I used smoked Maldon)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Trim the radishes and cut in half.

Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender.


Here are both dishes, served with some fried seitan with a mustard sauce:


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Quick Pickled Radishes

I’m trying to think of a clever or at least remotely interesting intro for this recipe but I’m drawing a blank. It’s pickled radish. It was a quick refrigerator pickle. It is good. Sorry, that’s all I have!

Quick Pickled Radishes

I used “normal” (for this continent) red radishes but you could also chop up a daikon and use that. Adapted from Pete & Teri’s Next Big Adventure.

1 bunch red radishes, halved or quartered depending on size (or part of a daikon, chopped into bite-sized pieces)
rice vinegar to cover radishes (about a cup)
6 drops stevia (or about 1 1/2 tsp sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Remove the leaves from the radishes then halve or quarter them depending on their size. Place in a small jar.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the jar.

Put the lid on the jar and shake until salt is dissolved.

Refrigerate for 48 hours. Actually, they should be ready after 24 hours according to the recipe I based this off of, but I didn’t try mine for two days, so that’s what I’m vouching for.

Oh, was the focus of that photo supposed to be the radishes? I’m sorry.

Is this any better?

Out of the brine …

… and into my mouth! I loved these. I love radishes to begin with but even non-lovers of radishes may like these, if they like pickles. The spicy radish flavor is made milder, but the pickling gives them a nice sour taste. They remain crunchy. This is a nice, fresh tasting pickle that went well with a version of spicy tofu teriyaki.

Mark saw them sitting out last night and claimed they looked like pickled pig’s feet. He refused to try them. Sissy.

While Torticia was helping me with my radish photo shoot, the day I feared would come sooner or later arrived.

Gomez discovered Mark’s chess set …

… and decided it was an interactive cat toy.

Goodbye, pawn.

Screw pickled pig’s feet, this is far more fascinating!

Um, have I mentioned that I love these kittens?

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Smoky Pink Beans, Fun Slaw, and Fried Potatoes

Today marks the first time in a couple of months I’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen. I baked bread, made three different kinds of soda, pickled some radishes, made ice cream, and made a big dinner. Although I wanted to make a nice Sunday meal, I had no idea what to make. I finally decided I wanted to use up some dried beans, so I did an “extended quick soak” on some pink beans and just sort of went from there. I had also bought a “rainbow slaw” (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots) mix I wanted to incorporate into the meal. Here’s what I did:

Mayo-less Fun Slaw

Mark hates mayonnaise, made with eggs or otherwise, so I wanted to make a mayo-free slaw he would enjoy. This was quick and easy.

6 oz. “rainbow slaw” (a pre-packaged mix of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots)
3 Tbsp chopped scallions
2 Tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Place the vinegar, oil, mustard and salt into a small mixing bowl.

Whisk well.

Toss with the slaw and scallions.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Smoky Pink Beans

2 1/4 cup dried pink beans
2 small onions, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
vegan broth (I used “chicken”-flavored) to cover beans by 2 inches
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp salt (I used smoked Maldon)

Soak the beans overnight in cold water, or quick soak by boiling for two minutes, then removing from heat and soaking for an hour. Drain.

Place all ingredients but the salt in a pressure cooker if you have one. Pressure cook for 12 minutes then quick release if using a pressure cooker, otherwise, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft. Stir in the salt after the beans are soft.

When my beans were done, I still had a lot of broth, so I brought it to a steady boil and boiled what I could off. I eventually got tired of waiting and wanted the beans to be soupier so I stirred in about 1/4 tsp xantham gum. You don’t need to do that, however. Break up the onions with the back of a spoon before serving.

Fried Potatoes

2 lbs potatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp flaked salt (I used the smoked Maldon again)
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes for about five minutes, then drain. Heat some oil in a cast iron skillet, then add the onions, peppers, salt, oregano, and cayenne and black peppers; saute until onions are soft. Add the potatoes and fry until golden brown. I deglazed the pan with a triple-strength mixture of Vegeta and water for extra flavor.

And here is everything together, served with brown rice.

Mark liked this a lot; he had two huge servings of the beans, which he thoroughly doused in Tabasco. There are plenty of leftovers, which I imagine will only improve with age.

And now it is time for a heartwarming tale. One morning a few weeks ago my manager and I had to go downtown for three back-to-back meetings. As we drove into the city, I warned him that I was going to be very cranky by the time the meetings were over because they were interfering with my normal lunch time and I’m not pleasant to be around if I don’t eat at regular intervals. My manager is a very good guy and when the meetings were over and we were heading back to the office, he wanted to know if I was okay or if I’d like to stop for lunch. I noticed him looking at a hot dog stand as he asked this, though, and I said, “that’s a hot dog stand, what the hell would I get there? You think they’re going to have vegan hot dogs at a hot dog stand?!”, as if he were totally off his rocker. Well, to my immense surprise, on Friday I came across this post on DC Vegan. It seems some hot dog stands in DC DO in fact have vegan hot dogs and not only that, the one we passed is one of them (it was the third on that list). Frankly, I’m flabbergasted. But that also made my month. This year has been a lot of things so far, good and bad, but I’ll tell you what: it is a GREAT year to be vegan. I FEEL SO NORMAL! I’ve been vegan for 12 years and when I started I never dreamt I’d be able to order a hot dog from a hot dog stand. That’s just…amazing.

You know what else is amazing?

This guy!

And this girl!

Doesn’t Gomez look a little evil in this picture?

But he’s not evil! He’s a sweet, wonderful, lovable, adorable, amazing little boy!

It’s really amazing that we are actually watching their personalities form. Sure, they already had very distinct personalities when we got them a week ago, but they are changing in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. Gomez is FAR less shy than he was when he got here (I’m not even sure the word shy even remotely describes him any longer), and they are both even more affectionate than they were a week ago. They constantly switch between which one is dominant. They are learning from one another. Every day – every hour, even – I learn something new about them. It’s so weird, yet exciting, to have cats I don’t know better than I know myself (after living with Tigger and Brachtune each for 16 years, I could anticipate their every move). Torticia is sitting on my lap as I type this, purring like a machine and licking my wrist: my plan to make lap cats out of them is going well!

Mark and I are both wildly in love with these kittens. I don’t know how a person could not be, honestly.

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WARNING: This post contains nothing about food, but does contain extremely cute kittens. If you hate kittens and/or cuteness, you are advised to stop reading now and come back for a food-related post in a couple of days.

I was pretty devastated when Brachtune died. It was even harder than when Tigger died because suddenly there were no cats in the house. And I just can’t stand a pet-less house. It felt so lonely and depressing here. Mark wanted to look for cats right away, but I figured it was best and easiest to just wait until we got back from our mini-vacation in Charleston last week. I caved, though, and did look at the SPCA NoVA website. A couple of siblings caught my eye; I had a feeling about them. I looked at their pictures all day, then at the end of the day showed them to Mark, who said he’d seen those two as well and thought they looked perfect for us but wasn’t sure if I were really ready, so he hadn’t pointed them out to me. So I emailed the SPCA about them and soon we had an appointment to meet them at their foster parents’ house the day after we returned from our vacation. And yesterday morning we brought them home.

Meet Gomez …

… and Torticia.

(For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Addams Family, Torticia’s name is a bit of a pun. In The Addams Family, Gomez’s wife is Morticia. But our sweet kitty doesn’t look anything like a Morticia. She is, however, a tortoiseshell, commonly referred to as a “tortie”, so Mark came up with Torticia, which seemed more fitting.)

They are three months old, adjusting very rapidly to their new home, and just the most playful, affectionate, sweet, wonderful, darling, gorgeous, entertaining, lovely, and downright AWESOME kittens in the world. We are head over heels in love with them. Gomez is a bit more reticent than his sister, but once Torticia gets going, Gomez is compelled to join in. Torticia, on the other hand, is a wild woman: she’s brave, curious, and extremely playful, but also loving and affectionate. This was taken just a few hours after she got here:

Torticia seems like she might become my kitchen helper, like Tigger used to be. She likes sitting on the counter watching me.

Gomez comes when I call him, looking for pets. The second I start to pet him, he starts purring loudly. (Actually, they both do that.)

Tigger and Brachtune never really got along, unfortunately. At best they tolerated each other. It was an extremely rare treat to find them curled up near each other – MAYBE touching if Tigger was sound asleep and oblivious – that happened only when it was very cold outside. Otherwise, Tigger wouldn’t let Brachtune remain on the same piece of furniture as him. So it’s a real treat to have sibling kittens who actually love each other.

Please ignore the state of our cat tree (which Tigger destroyed), but these pictures were too cute not to share. I want to get them a new cat tree ASAP, but they simply love this raggedy old one (and now Mark says I can’t get rid of it even if we get a new one).

Gomez has long been on our list of cat names because not only have I loved the Addams Family since I was little, but just thinking of Gomez (from the original TV series) makes me laugh. Here’s a Gomez pumpkin I carved a few years ago (can you see Tigger and Brachtune in this picture?):

And here are Mark and me dressed as Pugsley and Wednesday Addams for Halloween.

Yeah, these were the right cats for us. We’re going to have a long, happy life together. And you guys are going to be subjected to a LOT of pictures!

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Not Leaving Tonight After All BBQ Tofu Dinner

Mark and I are headed to Charleston for five days. We’d originally planned, overly optimistically, to leave tonight but now plan to leave at the outrageous hour of 6 a.m. (We’re not ordinarily morning people.) (This post brought to you by the letter “O”.) I’d left myself with no real fresh food since I didn’t think we’d be eating here tonight, so I had to throw something together from pantry items and the dregs of the refrigerator.

I did have a package of tofu, fortunately, so that served as the basis around which I worked the meal. I sliced it up and whisked up a marinade consisting of soy sauce, “chicken”-flavored broth, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and onion and garlic powder. Then I marinated the tofu until Mark got home, about an hour and a half. Then I baked it in the toaster oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile, I put a cup of millet in a small, heavy pot and poured some of the marinade in (I hate wasting marinade), then topped it off with water, brought to a boil, and cooked until done. In the end, I probably used half marinade/half water.

I’d made Unribs earlier in the week, and I’d made extra barbecue sauce because Mark likes to use it as a dipping sauce throughout the week, so fortunately I also already had some barbecue sauce for the tofu. I slathered some generously over the tofu and returned it to the toaster oven for another 15 minutes or so.

I had some frozen vegetables in the freezer for just a night like tonight. They got sauteed in my cast iron skillet. I’d rather have fresh, but it was good to have them on hand for a case like this.

This was really good for a plans-changed-at-the-last-minute meal, although someone didn’t eat his millet. (When informed millet is an ancient grain that was very good for him, he told me he only eats “new food”, so I told him to throw away his tofu and vegetables. Apparently they don’t count.)

In other news, today is my father’s birthday so in lieu of cat pictures, please enjoy some pictures of my father at my wedding:

That’s sort of a weird picture of him (and pictures of me are always weird), so here he is smiling nicely instead of smirking:

And here I am with my father being a totally normal bride, with my best pig (wearing his own tuxedo):

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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