Monday, December 31, 2007

Split Pea Soup

It has been cold lately...well, as cold as it gets in Louisiana. I'm from the Midwest where I'd be shoveling snow about now, but I get wimpier each winter I spend in the South. Anyway, it's cold, so it's time for soup. Split pea soup is perfect for cold weather. It's also easy to make, especially if you do it in the pressure cooker like I do. If you're scared to use a pressure cooker, you should look into the new models. They are much safer than the old ones, where you hear stories about housewives being permanently scarred from exploding split peas.

I dice an onion and saute it with a little olive oil in the pot. I'm sure the onion would cook just fine if I skipped this step, but it gives me some time to sort and rinse the split peas. Normally I would add some diced carrot and celery, but I was hungry, and thus in a hurry. Some garlic, thyme and rosemary go in next, and then one package of sorted and rinsed split peas along with 6 cups of water. On with the pressure cooker lid, and 15 minutes later it's ready. Then I taste it and add salt, Braggs, Tabasco (i like the smoked chipotle kind), or whatever sounds tasty. You could also add some diced tomato or roasted red pepper, or...anything really. Sometimes I add a little water to thin it, but it's usually about right. Nothing else tastes like split pea soup, and nothing else is quite as warming to me on a cold evening.

I ate it with toast and pepper jelly. If you like sweet, and you like hot, and you haven't tried pepper must. I was skeptical until I tasted it, and now I can't imagine going without it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Dinner

I hope everyone had a merry one. I had a three day weekend, so I had a lot of time to play in the kitchen (and to sit around and do nothing). I made the squash version of Kittee's Crispy Crunchy Stuffed Tofu a few weeks ago, and Jeff and I loved it so much that I really wanted to try the spinach version. If you haven't made these yet, you really should, because they are just SO good. I also made mashed potatoes with chickpea gravy from Vegan With A Vengeance, and roasted some sweet dumpling squash.

The chickpea gravy is always delicious. I could eat a whole bowl of it. We don't use nutritional yeast around here, so I always substitute some tahini in it's place. To me it has that rich, 'cheezy'
flavor that you're going for by adding nutritional yeast. Anyway, I pretty much sub it in any recipe calling for nooch (nutritional yeast for those in the know...).

Gravy simmering.

These cute squash have been sitting around wondering why, oh, why weren't we eating them? I started wondering the same thing considering how easy it is to roast squash. I peeled them and cut them into bite size pieces first, then tossed with some olive oil, thyme, and rosemary. Roasty toasty, tasty.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

The filling for the tofu smelled, tasted, and looked wonderful. I used the last of my cumin in the gravy (I use cumin every other day, so running out puts me on edge...yikes.), and don't currently have any Tony Charchere's, so I added some Sriracha hot chili sauce (the bottle with the rooster) and a little of whatever happened to be by the stove at the moment. I also didn't have any cilantro...yeah, there may have been a lack of planning here.

Spinach stuffing

Tofu ready for breading.

I had never breaded anything the way Kittee instructs before. Why!? Somehow it has eluded me all these years, and it is a sad thing, because it comes out so thick and crunchy! I used a combination of puffed millet and a cereal called Nutty Rice for the 'crunchy stuff'. What I love most about this recipe is how crispy the it turns out with so little oil.

Half gone before it made it to the table.

This was a home cookin' kind of meal. Rich, satisfying, tasty without appearing fussy. I was just cooking for the two of us, so there were leftovers, which always makes me happy. I've never understood people's aversion to leftovers. Midnight snack? Lunch the next day? Perfect.

Multiple vanity shots

Nutmeg didn't eat tofu or mashed potatoes, but don't worry...she was happy and well fed.

Fruity Rabbit

Monday, December 24, 2007

Eggnog Apple Walnut Pancakes

Pancakes are one of my favorite things. Pancakes made with eggnog, apples, walnuts, and drizzled with caramel sauce are now my all time favorite pancake...ever.

This was one of those "I wonder..." recipes. We wanted pancakes. And we had eggnog. What would eggnog pancakes be like? And the rest just fell in line. I have since discovered that there are a bunch of eggnog pancake recipes online, but none with apples and walnuts that I could find...and they are what really make these pancakes work. These turned out fluffy and tender, and the eggnog makes them incredibly rich. We ate them with tofu bacon strips from Vegan With A Vengeance.

1 and 1/2 cup flour (I used spelt)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
freshly grated nutmeg (NOT the rabbit)
substitute for 2 eggs (I used flax eggs- 1 Tbsp. ground flax + 3 Tbsp. water = one egg)
1 and 1/2 cup soy eggnog
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. melted Earth Balance (or other margarine)
1 apple (I used a Cameo) thinly sliced and chopped
Chopped Walnuts--I just added a couple of big handfuls

Giant Pancake of Doom

Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Stir the wet into the dry until just combined. Add the apples and walnuts and give it a few more stirs. Cook on a nonstick skillet (or whatever) and serve with crushed walnuts and caramel sauce. Don't add any sugar to the batter, because the eggnog is plenty sweet already. For the sauce I just heated up some Earth Balance and sugar until the sugar was dissolved, and thinned it with a little soy milk. These were so good that the two of us ate the whole batch. Hey, we were really hungry. So if you are cooking for several people you might make extra.

I only use Nutmeg approved apples.

The best pancakes ever.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Baba Ghanoush

I bought an eggplant the other day, and had to do something with it before it went bad. My eggplant repertoire is lacking, so I wanted to try something I hadn't made before. baba ghanoush was perfect for today, because while the eggplant was baking I was able to do some of the many other things that need done around the house.

The first time that I remember eating baba ghanoush is at a Mediterranean restaurant in the town I grew up in. It was a fairly small town, so having a place you could get falafel and spanikopita and hummus and baba ghanoush was pretty special. Angele made the best everything, including baba ghanoush. (I waited tables there for awhile, so I may be biased.) This however was my first attempt to make it myself, and I found myself somewhat intimidated.

There was no reason to worry, because this was so easy. The Eggplant went in the oven at 425 degrees until it was falling in on itself, and it's skin was just starting to blacken in spots. (This helps give it a smokier flavor.)

Baked Eggplant on the Operating Table

Then I peeled off the skin with my fingers, and plopped the gooey flesh into the food processor. A couple cloves of garlic, some tahini, lemon juice and salt, and that was it. I just adjusted everything until it tasted right to me.

We ate it with carrots, lettuce, tomato slices, and wheat toast (pita would be more traditional). I also whipped up some pseudo-falafel from a box. Pseudo because it looks and tastes nothing like homemade falafel, but is still quite good with a lot of tahini sauce and all the other fixins. For tahini sauce, just mix a couple tablespoons of tahini with some lemon juice, salt, and enough water to thin it to your liking. This meal was so good, next time I will make at least twice as much baba ghanoush. (And I will try my hand at falafel from scratch...stay tuned.)

With olive oil and paprika

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chickpea and potato quickie

I didn't get a chance to think about dinner till we were starving, so I threw together what I had in the freezer and the cupboard. I peeled and chopped a potato and steamed it in the microwave. While the potato was cooking I sauteed some onion and garlic, and then added some turmeric, cumin, and thyme.

I cooked a pot of chickpeas a couple of weeks ago, and froze the leftovers. I'm always glad for extra chickpeas. So those went in the pan. By then the potato was about tender so I added it along with some fresh tomato and some canned crushed tomato that I also had leftover in the fridge from making tomato sauce for the pizza. I am trying harder not to waste things. Whenever I realize I have let yet another turnip rot, or a piece of tofu go all slimy, I get angry and say words that will get you an R rating. There is almost nothing worse than wasted food...wasted money, wasted nutrients, starving children, etc...where was I? Oh yeah, dinner.

Frozen Chickpea Brick

Anyway, all that went in there with Braggs and hot sauce and frozen peas. I covered it and let the chickpeas and green peas heat up. A little salt and that was dinner!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Jeff was craving pizza tonight, so I ran to the market to get soy cheese and a red bell pepper. I had black olives and tomato puree in the cabinet.

I made the crust with spelt flour. Spelt gives a different texture than traditional pizza crust, but I really like it. I didn't have time to go all out, so I used quick-rise yeast, and didn't really let the dough rise at all. When I'm in a hurry and want homemade pizza, I am perfectly content with doing it this way. I put some dried thyme in the dough, and thyme and oregano and minced garlic in the tomato sauce.

Here's Nutmeg doing quality control.
I roasted the pepper right over the gas burner on my stove. Deborah Madison turned me onto roasting peppers this way. I have so much fun doing this, because I feel a little adventurous and rebellious just plopping the pepper down without a skillet or nuthin'. It chars nicely, and you can hear it make sighing and squeaking noises as it roasts. Once it was nice and blackened I put it in a covered bowl so it could steam a bit and get a little softer. Then the blackened skin peeled right off, and it was chop chop and onto the pizza with crushed black olives. This is a picture of some sweet little baby peppers I roasted a couple of weeks ago.

I had some parsley in the refrigerator, so some of that went on there too, with a sprinkle of salt. Into the oven at 350 degrees and it was ready in about 15 minutes. I ate it with a simple salad of romaine and crushed walnuts with a vinaigrette. Nothing new and innovative here, but good good.

The Aftermath: Pepper and Parsley Carnage

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I'm Jenny Wren.
I cook for me and my husband, Jeff, in Louisiana.
While it's not exactly cooking, I also feed Nutmeg.

Nutmeg is a Netherland Dwarf rabbit. She, like myself, is a vegetarian. I've often heard people refer to what vegetarians eat as 'rabbit food', but while Nutmeg and I do like a lot of the same things, our eating styles are very different. Since I went veg, I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen. I occasionally follow a recipe to the letter, but I usually use recipes more as inspiration, and when I have the time I like to create my own dishes. So that's what this blog is about. Cooking, Eating, and petting the bunny.