Saturday, June 27, 2009

He's Here....

I am taking advantage of this two seconds of unexpected double handed time to announce the birth of our son! Weighing in at 7 lbs and strutting 52 cms worth of uber cute vegan-goodness, he is about the cutest little thing I have ever seen.

He arrived, in a very unplanned and unexpected (but safe) way, on Monday the 22nd. We are home from the hospital now, surrounded by family, friends and all the good wishes a new little vegan could hope for.

Just wanted to let everyone know that all is well and say thank you for all your support during my pregnancy. I promise to share lots of good one-hand friendly recipes in the next little while.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stealing Posts?! Not Cool.......

Thanks to some uber good blog sleuthing by one of my fellow bloggers, it has come to my attention that the person who writes:, is stealing my blog posts and inserting them as their own - without any attempt to link or ping back to me.

It isn't just me, this person is also taking the writings and recipes of other bloggers and blatantly claiming it as their own.


Here is the website if you want to check out to see if your stuff is there, I have tried to alert those whose posts I have noticed.

Lots of love,
The REAL VeganCowGirl

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Savory Apricot Muffins

Yesterday saw me waiting around the house, not wanting to head to far was my due date. VeganBaby wasn't too interested in joining us on his dad's birthday. I got down to work and came up with a new recipe: Savory Apricot Muffins. I decided that with all of this time off (I know it will get a little busier once VeganBaby shows up), and encouraged by super crafty vegan mom's, like Darlene at Natural Violet , that I could start crafting my own bread, muffins and cake recipes from scratch - pushing myself beyond the cooking creations I feel much more comfortable with.

So, I ended up taking some very fresh apricots, and some cornmeal and going to town. What I turned out was this little batch of muffins that I think go wonderfully with hummus, guacamole or homemade salsa. I have never had too much of a sweet tooth, eschewing even the most decadent of candies as a young lassie, but I quite like the idea of combining a mild fruity flavour with the deeper and savory flavours of cornmeal and cinnamon. I am going to hold off sharing the recipe, since I want to try and make them a couple more times....not sure if they are perfect yet.

I did of course try one! I multi-tasked and spread half of the muffin with (sadly) store bought hummus, and the other half I covered with an organic tomato chutney. But I think they would have also been great with the other part of my lunch (though I did decide to stick with just the one muffin), which was reheated Pumpkin Soup, which I made for dinner on Tuesday.

I know! Pumpkin Soup and only a few days away from summer? Welcome to Belgium! We have had more then one day of rainy and slightly chilly weather since the calendar officially announced the arrival of 'spring'. But, to be honest, that is one of the things that I like about our current home, as it differs drastically from the unrelenting heat of Toronto. Tuesday had started out damp and rainy, and I thought a little bit of Pumpkin Soup would be the perfect treat. It was super tasty and well worth the roasting time I gave to the pumpkin before cutting it up and adding it to the rest of the soup.

Kevin's birthday was a success! Sadly, I have zero pictures of the cake - which was, in the end, Triple Chocolate, including a nummy layer of chocolate buttercream frosting on both the inside and outside of this cake. I pretty much winged the recipe, making sure to add soy yogurt and managing to avoid sugar (with the exception of the truck load that went into the frosting), opting for Agave Syrup instead. Kevin took the cake to work with him, a tradition in his department, and apparently there was lots of 'ohhhhs and awwwws' over its tastiness - glad they liked it!

He had prezzies in the morning (see robot below) from his VeganCowGirl, and then we joined friends for a pizza dinner after work. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rhubarb and Cherry Crumble-Cake and Basil Walnut Pesto Stuffed Eggplant Rollups

There are just so many culinary masters out in blog world! That means that today is another post about the goodies we have had thanks to the inspiration that I get from reading the work of others!

Who loves rhubarb? I do, I do! I remember being a ittybittycowgirl and being taken to my grandfather's house, where I would be let loose in the backgarden while grownups did grownup things in the house (like have coffee). My grandpa's garden always included big, huge rhubarb plants every spring. I was in awe of their bright red to bright green transition - and of course the rumours that they were slightly poisonous if not eaten in the right manner: ohhhh scary plant.

I admit that I never really had much use for rhubarb in prevegan days, before I started experimenting with food and making most of my own goodies. My mom, I don't think, is so big on rhubarb so I think that it remained little more than a culinary mystery to me for years.

Living in Brussels one gets a good window of fresh rhubarb buying off the market stands here, so I like to make the most of it: crumbles, breakfasty oatmeal goodness, and now....thanks to Mihl....a Rhubarb Crumble Cake! Now Mihl is a fantastic baker-supreme, who offers blogland endless recipes that are interesting, usually ethnic in some cool way, and really unique - and they hardly ever need tweaking. My tweaking only came in out of necessity - I had cherries and I wanted to use them I decided to make a Rhubarb and CHERRY Crumble Cake!

Holy rhubarb goddess in the sky! I have never made a crumble-cake before, but they are great because you get the denser cake bottom, with the crispy, flakier crumble top. Divine. It turned out fantastically and I would happily make it all over again - a perfect use for local and seasonal rhubarb goodness. Just follow Mihl's well written instructions, but add a cup of fresh cherries to the rhubarb layer of the cake, and you are in business.

I was also inspired by Liz's inspirations of last week in her Random Post, where she put Nigella (sex goddess of the cooking world for those who aren't acquainted with her *unique* on-air approach to kitchen endeavouring) to the vegan test and made, what looked like, some uber delish eggplant rolls. Yesterday morning, after getting Kevin off to work (trust me, getting him out of bed and coherent enough to drive the car is a chore unto itself), I noticed a huge plant of basil that needed something done to it, so I decided to make a walnut-basil pesto that I figured would be the perfect inside to the eggplant roll-ups. It was! I also stuffed them with sauteed zucchini, red pepper and organic garlic. I served them with a side of whole wheat spaghetti, and let me tell you - I can NOT wait to make these bad boys again. They were fantastic.

Eggplant Rollups
(I need to give these a better name I think)

3 cups of basil
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 cups of walnuts

1 eggplant
1/2 zucchini
1 red pepper
3 cloves of garlic

I cut the eggplant into strips about 1/2 cm thick, brushed them with olive oil and then grilled them on my grill (which I am sure was imagined for indoor grilling of meats, but this baby is vegan ONLY), until they were cooked, but still had some structure to them.
While they were grilling, I cut the other veg into tiny cubes and sauteed them in a scant amount of olive oil. The pesto was easy: basil, oil, walnuts + cuisinart smart stick = great Basil Walnut Pesto! When I was ready to assemble these little packets of joy I pulled out a casserole dish, lined it with some tomatoes. I spread a teaspoon of the pesto on each slice of eggplant, loaded the end bit up with some of the tasty veg and then got down to rolling. Dead easy. Put them all in the baking dish, covered with more tomato and the bits of veg that were left over and threw it all in the oven for about 30 minutes at 170. Perfect. Seriously - they were great!

Kevin's birthday is tomorrow - that means a cake! Any suggestions? I was thinking something chocolate, something mocha, something with frosting, something that he can gain a few pounds on, something that if the baby comes tomorrow we can share with the midwives and any folks who come by to see the new veganbaby!

Monday, June 15, 2009

VeganCowGirl Goes Dutch!

I found a really, really well done blog a couple of weeks ago. NOW, it isn't of the vegan variety, but the food that Dutch Girl makes is spectacular and the photography is out of this world. I love the little 'recipe card' that is included with each amazing meal she prepares. Kay's food is just too good not to try and coax into the veganny world, so I started out with her Peanut Potatoes.

I changed it up a little bit and added tofu to the baking dish for a one dish-wonder and was pretty happy with it. Though, I wonder if perhaps my green chillies were a little under the weather because they certainly didn't give the dish the spicy kick I was looking for. I also added a few other little things and played with timings a little bit, so find below my version of Kay's wicked recipe!

Nutty Fu and Potatoes

7 charlotte potatoes - peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1 packet of extra firm tofu - I cut these into 2 cm thick triangles
3 cloves of garlic - grated
1 thumb of ginger - grated
1 cm of green chili - seeded and cut into bitty pieces
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1/3 cup of water + 1 tsp of vegetable stock
sesame seeds - as you like
sesame oil - 1 tbsp
4 green onions - diced

I parboiled the potatoes according to Kay's directions, using the boiling time to whisk up my peanut sauce: the peanut butter, water, veg stock, sesame oil and seeds. After I cut up the tofu and waited for the potatoes to get hot enough to lose a sense of hardness, I added everything minus the green onions to my ceramic dish and gave it a good all over peanut sauce bath.

I baked it for about 1 hour at 350 - a little longer then Kay and was happy with how nicely the sauce crisped up the fu and the potatoes, without drowning them. I ate mine with some avocado. Nummers. I also made VCTOTW's Carrot Cake cuppies, to take to birthday party the next day, but sadly we (as usual) forgot our camera. BUT - Isa and Terry can rest easy because they were snapped up in no time with loads of compliments in their wake.

After the birthday party on Saturday we ventured back home, hoping that the bumpy ride might have some impact on VeganBaby's arrival (no such luck), and decided that the sun and socializing had sapped us of most of our energy. So, we decided to make a quick, but really, really yummy Bean and CousCous Salad. Oh my goodness - it was fantastic. Mostly the work of Kevin, as the sun did more to me then bring out my freckles - it turned me into the marshmallow man from ghostbusters. I needed to have my feet up.....Great Salad Kevin!

I hope everyone had a stellar weekend, and I wish everyone a fantastic week!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Samosas and Falafel: 1 out of 2 isn't so bad.....

I love samosas, but had never attempted to make them. So, I did last night. They were good. I used a recipe from veg.web, and I think next I might explore a different site or consult one of the billion cookbooks on my shelf - the dough was just a little too heavy for me. The filling was quite good, and I used fresh peas that I had left over from the market, but the dough just didn't seem samosatastic to me.

I also made some baked falafel. I was dying for some nummy falafel goodness, but I wasn't feeling like deep frying them. I opted to give them a good baking along with the samosas. I actually pulled out an oldie, but goodie from the shelf to make these guys. I used Mollie Katzen's recipe from 15th anniversary Moosewood Kitchen to make these, and they were darn good!

Mmmmm. I also made Roasted Asparagus and Potato Soup. This was great! I really wanted to be able to taste the asparagus, so I decided to give it about 40 minutes under the broiler before cutting it into little pieces and adding it to my soup pot. I was really happy with the end result and in my decision to add some tahini.

Roasted Asparagus and Potato Soup

9 asparagus stems (are they stems or shoots?)
5 charlotte potatoes
3 leeks (end bits only)
3 tbsp of tahini
5 cups of water

Broil your asparagus (you could also throw the potatoes in there too!), for about 45 minutes. Cut them into about 2 cm pieces. Quarter your washed potatoes, and dice your leeks. Add all ingredients to your pot, bring to boil and then let simmer.

It turned the most funky green colour! It was a great lunch the day after as well.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Pie, Beans, Sushi and Lunch...a bit of everything really!

Ok, maternity leave should have a hand book with it. Actually, you should get a whole package that includes some kind of dial so you can turn down your energy stores. All I have been hearing for the last two days (via facebook) is that I need to slow down, calm down, sleep, rest, relax....ummm...not really possible for me. Have never been able to really rest for much more then a few chapters of a book. I do wish, a little bit, that I could stop or at least slow down, but I guess I will when I need to. In the mean kitchen is a state of a non-stop cook-off!

I have loads, but will try to keep the post small and just share the goodies.

Sunday night I made a rather simple, but really satisfying Tuscan Bean dish with Roastie Rosemary Potatoes. Perfect combo.

Mmmmm. Monday's Lunch was also quite yummy. I had a multi-grain bagel with avocado, yellow peppers and raw zuchi. I made a little fresh sweet pea and zuchi salad to go along with it - with a little sesame oil on top. Just look at those fresh peas? One thing I really heart about Brussels is the bevy of fresh local produce that is available throughout the week at various open air markets.

And then yesterday I used my date syrup to replace sugar in a Rhubarb, Ginger and Strawberry Pie that I just had to make. I saw the Rhubarb sitting there all local-like and fresh in my kitchen windowsill, and I knew it wasn't destined for ANOTHER crumble. So, I got down to it and made a couple of pie shells with whole wheat all purpose flour (since I was out of w.w pastry flour). The innards of the pie were inspired a wee bit from this 2006 post on Vegan-licious. But then, as usual, I just started winging it. Enter the date syrup. I couldn't live with chucking the required amount of brown and white sugar into the pie, so I went with the date syrup that A.K. inspired me to whip up on Friday. I used this naturally sweet syrup to sweeten and lengthen the flavours of the rhubarb and ginger.

I also made Brown Rice Sushi. I know I have posted a gratuitous amount about sushi, but this seems worthy of another mention since I managed to find brown sushi rice here in Brussels. The texture was much chewier and a touch heavier then when I have used the 'regular' white sushi rice, but it was super nummy and I felt less nasty after ingesting more then a couple of rolls.

Rhubarb, Ginger and Strawberry Pie
(For Dena)

Pie Crust
3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose if need be)
3/4 cup of vegan margarine (or you can substitute this for oil)

6 tablespoons of water (or more if you find you need it)

Extra flour for your rolling pin and counter top

Pie Innards
6 big stalks of rhubarb (cut into bit size)
1 bunch of strawberries (about 8 biggies, or 20 little guys)

1 thumb of ginger

1 lemon (you need the rind and the juicy inside)

2 tsp of cinnamon
2 tsp of cloves
2 tsp of nutmeg

3 tbsp of cornstarch

1 cup of date syrup

I cut the fruit up, added the lemon rind and the lemon juice. I grated my fresh ginger into the fruit and let it sit while I made the pie crust. For the crust I simply added the flour to a big bowl, cut the margarine into the flour, and then made two balls - one slightly larger then the other. I floured my rolling pin and counter, and did the best I could to make a circle out of each ball. I stuck the first in the bottom of a silicon pie dish, which I immediately sat on top of a cookie sheet (I knew this pie was going to be squelchy). And the second I added once I had the filling in my bowl.

To complete the filling I added the date syrup, gave it all a good mix, and then I added the remaining ingredients. The cornstarch got to work super quick thickening the filling! Who doesn't love chemistry?

I baked the pie at 350 for 55 minutes and Kevin dove right in after dinner - thumbs up all around.

VeganBaby Update: Still swimming around inside his mommy. Currently 9 days away from expected date of arrival (a.k.a. Kevin's birthday!). I still feel great (minus the continued crampy, crampy, pinchey, ouches). Can't wait!!!! Thanks for all of your supportive and warm comments about the baby - you guys rock! And just because I love you guys so much - here is Kitty Eliott giving you a little bit of kitten love!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sweet Date and Cashew Bread

Mmmmmmmmm. That's really all I could say on Friday night after this loaf came out of my oven. Mostly because I had my mouth FULL of this really delightful cake. It was everything I wanted in a loaf (bread? cake?) came out moist, tasting of the dates, and holding its shape in a most wonderful way. I was inspired by Swell Vegan's Date Syrup of this week, but was reading Celine's website when I was taken oven by the desire to marry the dates and cake...and this is what I got!

Sweet Date and Cashew Bread

1 cup of oat flour
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda

1 1/12 cups of dates
1 cup of chopped cashews
3/4 cup of soymilk
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of dark vegany sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla
1/3 of vegan margarine

I started the recipe by chopping up the dates, quite tiny-tiny and letting them soak in some hot water, setting them aside. I also started the 'curdling' of the soymilk by adding the vinegar to it and also setting it aside. I took the brown sugar and margarine (I am sure you could use oil here), and set my hand mixer on these two ingredients. I added the soymilk and vanilla, again, giving it a good mix. It was a warm brown colour at this point, and smelled super yummy of vanilla.

I sifted the flours, baking soda and baking powder together, and added the dry to the wet. I drained the dates and added them to the mix, along with the cashews. Giving it one last good mix, I put the whole thing into a loaf pan and stuck it into a pre-heated (350) oven and baked it for 50 minutes.

Super nummy good.

Vegan Mommy Update: Had some false labour this morning. Yikes. I have been experiencing 'practice' contractions for about two months, but, unlike those, these ones HURT. Will keep you updated!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

W.I.P. Wednesday and Stegosaurus Sweet Potatoes

Quite early in the day today, my pregnancy related sciatica garnered me S.O.L in the walking department. This was pretty disappointing because I had baked a chocolate graduation cake for my grade sixes, along with some of Isa's kick ass frosting, and had hoped to bring it to them today. Instead of spending some sugar-infused time with my kids I productively spent the afternoon working on my birthing quilt.

This quilt was inspired by Chickpea Studios and is ALMOST done (thought I haven't stuck to the pattern). A girl needs a little maternity leave to finish off her craft projects. (right? or maybe I should spend less time playing fetch with my cats and more time at the sewing machine). Anyway, just putting the border on. Plan to get my batting and back tomorrow (sciatica permitting) and it might just be complete for Aodhan's arrival.

Before the sharpy, sharpy, pokey, pokey started, I did have a chance to make a Rhubarb and Apple Crumble for Kevin. I used the fruit pulp from his morning juice extraction to help fibre-up this desert. I also made tonight's dinner - a clean out the fridge curry. I think I might serve it with whole wheat soba noodles, or maybe brown rice.

Hmmmm, but about those Stegosaurus Sweet Potatoes! I made this meal the other night and I just loved it! Of course you could have made the same rub (using your Cuisinart Smart Stick or other fine kitchen device) and just brushed it over a regular baked potato, but why not make dinosaur food-art when given the chance? It definitely increased the garlic and parsley to potato surface area ratio - and that makes this little member of the herbivore family very happy. We served it as part of our all-veggie dinner: grilled asparagus, grilled peppers, purred roasted aubergine. I added a bit of hummus to my plate, just to make sure that baby-dino gets his protein! A great meal.

Parsley, Garlic and Rosemary Rub

2 handfuls of parsley (I used curly, but you could easily use flat)
5 cloves of garlic (we like it stinky in this house, so you could do less garlic if you like)
Two sprigs of Rosemary
Big splashes of olive oil

Juice from 2 lemons

Pepper to taste

I whirled it all up in my new toy and brushed it over the sliced potatoes (with bottoms still in tact). I then did a very unenvironmentally friendly thing and wrapped them in tin foil. We cooked them on the bbq for about 1 hour.