Edamame, carrot kinpira, brown rice, broccoli

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For a change, I actually have a Japanese-inspired bento. I was planning on making a tamagoyaki/rolled omelette, but found that I used the last of the eggs in cupcakes this week. It’s okay, because it’s good to focus on plant-based lunches, and I often have edamame in the freezer.

I have brown rice and broccoli left over from tonight’s dinner, and I prepared the carrot kinpira and steamed edamame for the bento. The carrot kinpira is pretty easy (adapted from the Just Bento cookbook in that I didn’t actually measure anything but I followed the ingredient list and procedure):

~heat oil over medium-high heat
~add very thinly sliced veggies, and sauté briefly
~add some veggie stock and a dash of soy sauce/tamari to cover the veggies
~simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has gone
~cool, and place into bento

Chickie holds a good pinch of Thai ginger lemongrass salt to sprinkle over the edamame just prior to eating.

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Aloo gobi, chana masala, basmati rice

002I can’t get enough Indian food at the moment. There’s something about Autumn coming, and wanting spicy comforting goodness!

I made Aloo gobi, under the alias of “Promila Kapoor’s Punjabi-Style Cauliflower and Potatoes with Ginger” in my very favourite Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. I made a few substitutions in parentheses.

Peanut or canola oil for shallow frying (safflower)
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into thick fries (sweet potatoes)
1 3/4 lb cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
3/4 to 1 tsp. salt (1/2 tsp)
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander seed
2-3 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (forgot to pick this up at the store today)

-heat oil in frying pan over medium heat, shallow fry the potatoes for around 10 mins (if making this again, I would probably parboil them a bit first – a few of the ‘fries’ are a little undercooked)
-remove the potato, and shallow fry the cauliflower for 3-4 mins
-remove the cauliflower, and adjust the oil level in the pan to 2 tbsp.
-cook the ginger for about 10 seconds
-return the potatoes and cauliflower to the pot, add the spices and 3 tbsp. water. Cover the pot, simmer gently for 4 minutes, serve.

I added some leftover chana masala (curried chickpeas, but I just improvised that recipe, so probably shouldn’t share it here until I’ve measured things and made it easier to follow) and some turmeric-coloured rice. The octopus spork belongs with an octopus-themed bento box which I can’t find. Either my hubs left it at work or my son put it away somewhere it doesn’t belong. I wanted to use that box, too!

Vegan baking Friday!

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I made a delicious eggless, dairyless spice cake, from my latest favourite bedtime reading find (y’all know I’m not the only one who reads them in bed!), The Complete Tassajara Cookbook by Edward Espe Brown. The only adaptation I made was to use a gluten free flour rather than wheat. I used quinoa flour, and it turned out very nicely. I added some dried cherries on top to pretty it up a bit, but didn’t really need to!

Quick Vegan Spice Cake

Preheat oven to 350’F.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
(3/4 tsp. xanthan gum if using a gf flour that doesn’t include it in the ingredients)

Melt:

1/3 cup coconut oil

Add to the oil:

1 tbsp. balsamic or raspberry vinegar (I would imagine apple cider vinegar would work nicely here too)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup cold water

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and be careful not to overmix. Pour the mixture into a greased pan (loaf or 8″ cake pan) and bake for 35-40 minutes or so.

Vegan Baking Friday!

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As I mentioned earlier this week, for Vegan MoFo 2013, I’m expanding from the cupcake obsession to baking in general. This week’s offerings are some wheat-free chocolate chip cookies, very loosely adapted from the awesome Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. If you’re at all curious about Vegan cooking, I strongly recommend you get the book. If you’re secure in eating all foods but want to liven up how you cook veggies, then I strongly recommend you get the book! The book is particularly suited to North American audiences in the types of recipes featured, and the authors were careful to make sure that most recipes could be made with ingredients found in small-town supermarkets (very much appreciated, as I live in one).

What I love about vegan baking is that it defies the rules of creaming and emulsifying that we were all taught – it’s usually a gloriously simple matter of wet into dry, choose baking dish/sheet of choice, and away you go! Add that I no longer have to worry about activating gluten structures and creating tough baked goods by overmixing now that I’m gluten-free, and baking is crazy easy (although has never been especially difficult for me, let’s face it). My inner science geek still makes me obsessively measure everything, but it’s more fun and less structured now.

Place in Kitchenaid (or big mixing bowl):

~1 tbsp. ground flax seeds
~1/4 cup water (recipe calls for soy milk, I had none on hand)

Then add:

~1/4 cup brown sugar
~1/2 cup granulated sugar
~1/3 cup safflower oil (recipe calls for canola; any neutral-tasting oil will do nicely)
~a nice glug of vanilla (recipe calls for 1 tsp., but honestly, who measures for home baking?)

Mix until emulsified.

Now for the dry ingredients! Loosely sprinkle onto the wet ingredients:

~1 3/4 cup gluten free flour of choice (recipe calls for oat flour; I used some all-purpose flour blend and quinoa flour to use what’s in my baking cupboard)
~1/2 tsp. baking soda
~1/4 tsp. salt

Mix the ingredients, and add in:

~3/4 cup chocolate chips (as far as I can tell, these are vegan. Always read the label to be sure your dietary and ethical needs are met).

You’re supposed to drop the batter by tablespoons onto the baking sheet, but I used my cupcake scoop for some giant cookies: I got 12, recipe should yield 18. I am the mother of a pre-teen boy after all! Go big or go home! The recipe calls for baking at 375′ for 10-12 minutes for normal sized cookies. Psssh! (although these are too big to fit into a bento…)

Mexican millet, smoked tofu, coleslaw, strawberries

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Mexican Millet (adapted from Veganomicon, Chandra Moskowitz, Hope Romero)

Heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (with lid, so you can simmer covered when it’s time):

~some coconut oil, a finely diced onion, a microplaned clove of garlic, and some pickled jalapeno (none fresh on hand) until softened

Add:

~1 cup millet, stir around to coat in veggies and oil

Add:

~about 1 tsp. whole cumin
~about 3 tbsp. tomato paste
~2 cups veggie broth
~1 diced fresh tomato

Cover, and simmer on low for 25-30 mins. Remove from heat, let sit for 10 mins. The recipe asks for fresh cilantro and lime juice to finish, but I have baby kales to eat, so I steamed those in there for the last ten mins of cooking instead.

I placed the millet into my bento with smoked tofu slices on top. Tasty sides are coleslaw: shredded coleslaw mix, some vegenaise, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar to dress, and fresh strawberries. This bento box is a bit utilitarian, so I put some tiny pandas in to dance around.

Snacks will be apples from my tree.

Roast tofu, spaceship squash, baby potatoes, kale salad, fruit

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I managed to get signed up in time for Vegan MoFo (www.veganmofo.com), and I’m super-excited to provide a whole month’s worth of vegan bentos. I will temporarily change Cupcake Friday! to Vegan Baking Friday! to provide some variety and showcase what awesomeness can be made, but to make up for it, I will post the actual recipes I use to make the treats – rarely do I post a cuppie recipe for some unknown reason.

For tomorrow’s lunch, I have roasted smoked tofu (check the label to make sure it’s gluten-free), spaceship squash (fine, they’re pattypan but spaceship sounds cooler!), and baby potatoes. I have a massaged kale salad:

~place a big handful of kale per person into a bowl. Remove as much of the stems as you feel like – these are just baby kales, so I left a bunch of strings in there. Tear the leaves up a bit.
~drizzle over some safflower or extra virgin olive oil, as much sea salt as you feel like, and a big squeeze of lemon over the kale. No measuring – just go with it. I used about 1/2 tsp oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
~give the kale a massage. Baby kale didn’t take long, grown up kale may take up to 3 minutes to soften up.

This can be eaten as is, used as the basis for a more interesting salad, or placed into a bento where it will do very well. In fact, this will keep for up to a week in the fridge (if it lasts that long!). I put some baby tomatoes and a pepperoncini on the kale salad too. Finally, I have some apple slices and cherries. The cupcake container holds a mixture of 3:1 vegan safflower mayo and Sriracha to dip the roasted goodies into. Nice and spicy and creamy!

What I love about this lunch is that all the produce except the apple came from within 200km of my small town! Pretty exciting 🙂 Maybe I should have pulled a crabapple off my tree, but they’re not always good for eating raw.

Hummus, veggies, apple

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It’s hot. I’m sure that it’s not as hot as elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, and I know that adding humidity would make it a lot more unbearable, but still. It’s hot.

I have a no-cook bento here. I made some hummus, in a kind of throw it all in the food processor and let it do its thing:

~1 can chickpeas
~2 tbsp. each tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice
~salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin to taste

Whizz everything in a food processor, adding water so that the hummus is the consistency you want it to be. I made it thicker so I can eat it with a fork. Thinner is nice for wraps and dipping.

I then have veggies, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar in the pig cup, and sliced apple for dessert.