I have just this to say: lousy Smarch weather!  Things were melting and thawing, darn it, and then whammo, enough snow on March 16 to make things look distinctly Christmassy.  Oh, I’ll admit, it was pretty, but getting snow in my shoes walking through the parking lot to work?  Not so much fun.

Smarch

That’s okay.  I keep telling myself it will melt.  It will melt.

What better way to stave off snow-induced shock than with a hearty vegetarian chili and hot biscuits?

chili1

This is the Vegetarian Chickpea Chili from Sweet Potato Chronicles, and oh, my word.  Now, I haven’t eaten meat-based chili in forever, but in my totally out-of-touch opinion, the pearl barley gives it this lovely, meaty, chewy texture.  It definitely provides a fun twist on the standard cans-of-beans vegetarian chilis.  This recipe is super-hearty, and doubles wonderfully to feed a small army.

With miso in my fridge for the first time since I can remember, I had to make a batch of the Bettah Chettah Biscuits from The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek.

chili2

Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside…it doesn’t get much better than that!

(Kinda seems like a fair trade-off for the snow, no?)

Some like it hot

June 24, 2012

I usually don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions anymore.  Oh, I understand the psychological appeal of a new, unsullied year to finally kick that bad habit or start a good one, but it’s just not my thing.  Most resolutions fail, due either to lofty goals, ill-defined goals, or zero execution plan.  For example, “I resolve to lose weight” is too vague.  “I resolve to lose 50 pounds” is ambitious – but not totally impossible, if it’s accompanied by a list of Hows, which it usually isn’t.  “I resolve to lose 20 pounds; to do so, I’ll cut out my daily can of soda and walk for half an hour four times a week” is manageable and well-laid out, but most people don’t demonstrate this foresight.

In my own case, “I resolve to become a gourmet vegan chef” is just…not…gonna…happen.  But I do have a bit of an addiction to printed matter, including numerous cookbooks.  I buy them, ooh and aah over the recipes, and then put them back on the bookshelf without actually doing anything vaguely domestic.  So, for the last couple years, I’ve had an “unspoken resolution” of sorts: I resolve will endeavour to cook at least one new dish per month.  The only catch?  It has to be “real food”, and not a cupcake or cookie recipe – something that can be eaten as a meal.  That’s only twelve instances of real cooking per year; who can’t handle that?  Some of my experiments have been…less than pleasing…but for the most part, this has been a really fun undertaking, and I’ve been motivated to try dishes I might not have otherwise.

I realized last week that I hadn’t yet tried a new recipe for June, but after flipping through a couple of books, it didn’t take me long to come up with a relatively cohesive meal plan.

Left to right: “Better Love Your Beans Bake” from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites, and “Curried Cabbage and Peas” from Appetite for Reduction.  And before you ask, no, I’m not a professional food photographer.  😛  The cabbage dish looks way prettier in person, with curried-yellow cabbage, plus bright green peas and orange carrots dotting it.

Cross-section of the bean bake:

It looks all rich and creamy – it is! – and cheesy – it isn’t! – but the topping is reasonably healthy, with a cup of puréed chickpeas making up the bulk of it, plus some nondairy sour cream, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and spices.  I’m a little obsessed with chickpeas, so finding a new way to use them in a recipe was A-OK by me.

A note on Hearty Vegan Meals: that books is full of recipes that will satisfy omnivores.  Quite a few of them call for deep-frying, which doesn’t thrill me, but I haven’t hit a bad recipe yet out of the ones I’ve tried.

The curried cabbage is hot-hot-hot – I could have halved the curry powder and been happy – but the bean bake worked wonders to temper it.

The best part?  I get total points for cooking something that everyone can enjoy.