New Lab New Food

May 8, 2009

So when we last talked I may have forgotten to mention that I was moving. My apologies. Through much stress and resettling I completely forgot to keep on blogging. After much lost sleep over not feeling at home I’ve finally settled in and am adjusting to new kitchen space and a rebuilding of food supplies. Oh and I can’t forget the tiny new stove:HPIM1704

At least it’s still gas.

In the wake of moving-ness I had been tending to not eat at home. That combined with gorgeous weather lately has lead to many a grilling experience at a friend’s house. Now that the kitchen is up and running I find myself stuck with some surplus. Namely Smart Dogs and hot dog buns. Since I didn’t want to get the grill out I thought, “Why not go over the top in a way you could never do while grilling at a friend’s house.” With that in mind I produced what you see here:HPIM1706

I admit the broccoli was unnecessary. But hey…I try to get as many green leafy vegetables in as possible lest I just gorge myself on soy and starch.

Haha. Reggie & The Full Effect’s F.O.O.D. just came on. How appropriate.

Alright, back to it. Here’s the quick version (minus steamed broccoli):
- Heat a frying pan/giant saute pan that I looooove at medium-hi.
- Once it’s heated put in some olive oil (1 tbsp or a bit more)
- Drop in about a cup of chopped yellow onion and let cook.
- While that’s going prepare a bit more than a cup of sliced Baby Bella mushrooms and dice half of an avocado. A tip on avocados: It’s nearly impossible to find one that is ripe but not overripe at the cheap kind of grocery stores I find myself at too often. So, either go to the co-op or buy an underripe one and let it ripen under your watch. Keeping it in a paper bag at room temperature works for doing it fast. Otherwise if you just want it stored until needed you can drop it into the crisper drawer and just give it a squeeze every couple days. To prepare I always just cut it in half the long way (think the cover of that one Pearl Jam album) and then stab the pit and yank it out.
-Once the onions are getting soft toss in the mushrooms and a splash of sherry.
- Once those are getting cooked and the whole kitchen smells delicious, add a bit of salt and then put in the smart dogs.
- As the smart dogs plump drop in the diced avocado and stir less frequently to keep it from getting mushed everywhere.
- Once your smart dogs are done (don’t overdo them…the realism of them wears off fast when they’re over cooked) put them on buns with BBQ sauce (store bought this time, haven’t made another batch yet), a healthy dose of your veggie mixture and then put some cheese on top. I used colby, but just about anything would be delicious.
- Then just dig in. You probably want to keep a fork handy, but I managed to eat most of them the tradtional way without too much mess.

And there you are. An update after far too much time. The future looks brighter though. Not only is my kitchen established, but I can now grill without using stairs and I even have a little patch to try gardening in. That’s right, you can read about I how I kill poor little vegetable plants through a complete lack of skill. Sounds exciting doesn’t it?

Just wait.

BBQ Update.

March 25, 2009

After a couple days in the fridge the sauce got thicker (somewhat expected) and tastes more ‘tomatoey’ (unexpected). Usually it seems things start to taste more like their seasoning when left in the fridge, so this is interesting. Not time to resort to preservatives just yet though! Anyone have any helpful thoughts?

BBQ Sauce!

March 23, 2009

Just a note on something that is definitely going to become an obsession.

After much thinking and very little doing I finally buckled down and made my own BBQ sauce. Barbeque and I go way back and my love of both grilling and the sauces never even flinched when I stopped eating meat. With that said, the fact that I threw together a perfectly edible (perhaps moreso than some brands I’ve eaten) sauce within about 40 minutes makes me endlessly happy.

So…..

If you mix 4 parts tomato paste with 1 part vinegar, 1 part molasses and 1-1.5 parts brown sugar with some salt (1/8-1/4 part?) and simmer for about 20-30 min while adding whatever your heart desires (I used red onion, garlic powder, cayenne pepper & black pepper) you can have your own BBQ sauce too. If you have any doubt just look at the back of any store bought sauce and you will feel better about it.

Fair warning: You will make a mess! Even with a lid.blog-32209-001-28b(Lid not pictured, but I swear I used one)

Also, the sauce will try to burn your hand when you lift the lid to stir, so be careful.

Here is the finished product when paired with a portabella cap, asparagus and red onion that I sauteed in some oil and balsamic vinegar while the sauce was simmering:blog-32209-001-35b1

I left the beer in the picture, because it was an equally important part of the meal.

I will keep the BBQ updates coming as developments are made. The eventual goal is to have a collection of beer-based sauces. And yes (Portland people) it will mostly be with high quality, micro-brewed beer. Grain Belt just holds a special place in my heart.

Como se dice ‘Tot’ en espanol?

March 23, 2009

Ok, it took me a while to post again. But hey…it might end up a common situation and I can’t go apologozing every time, right? (ps, I’m sorry).

So to keep my sister happy and to give all you readers who clicked over from her page some content as well, here it is…

Last week I bought myself some Mayo Coba beans. Didn’t really know what they were, but why not try something new. Since they have a Spanish-sounding name (and are La Preferida brand) I figured they’d work well with some kind of salsa, cheddar, etc arrangement. I brought them home, pulled out some peppers, onions, salsa and cheese and thought long and hard about what to do. Suddenly a craving for the tater tots that I knew were in the freezer hit. What’s a guy to do?! Do I change my whole plan and make a veggie burger with tots instead? Hell no! They must be included in the current plan.

So I followed the directions on the bag and started some tots (2-3 servings according to the people at Ore-Ida).

While those went I cut up half an onion (actually a quarter of a yellow and a quarter of a red) and a green bell pepper. They populated my favorite little cutting board like this:blog-32209-001b

I have bigger cutting boards, but I really like the feel of this one. Perhaps I should go back to Ikea and see if they just a bigger one of these.

Moving on. I heated up my big frying/saute pan, put some oil in (1-2tbsp) and threw all those veggies in. As I stirred them around I added a splash of sherry, some cumin seeds, chili powder, garlic powder and a pinch of salt. Once the onions were translucent I dumped in the can worth of beans.

Also, I always rinse my canned beans first. If you leave the top partially connected you can even do that part right in the can. It’s totally bachelor style and kind of works like mixing a martini. Put water in, swirl and hold back the beans with the lid while you pour the water back out. Yea, I know…ridiculously lazy.

Next I put in about 1/3 cup of taco sauce (turned out I was out of salsa). At this point my tots were done. You probably should have checked on them once the peppers and onions were going, so pretend I said that earlier. I pulled out the tots and threw about 2 cups of shredded cheddar in with the beans, etc and stirred it around a while. Then I took the tots and mixed them into all the cheesey goodness and put it all on a plate. You could also put the tots on the plate/bowl as a base and spoon the mixture on top. When it was done it looked like this:blog-32209-001-14b

I’m still working on picture quality, but you get the idea. Now you’re saying to yourself: “Isn’t this just a casserole?” and I thought of that. So, if you wanted to make this as a casserole I’m pretty sure you could just layer everything in a casserole dish. Although the tater tots would probably be soggier than mine were.

This one was good stuff and really it only took about 5-10min longer than just baking up some frozen tater tots. I’ll keep you updated if I try the oven version, because that would be even quicker and probably better for you since it wouldn’t have the oil.

Catching Up/Computer Virus

March 9, 2009

About a month ago I got all revved up and finally created a site to jump into the world of cooking blogs (and actually all blogs, because my experience caps out at old myspace crap). I created this site, got cooking and then my laptop died at the hands of some horrible virus.

-So-

After some work on the old desktop I am back in business.  Now the idea here is to create a blog that records my various vegetarian kitchen experiments (hence the name). I don’t tend to be a recipe follower, so it’s hard to make the same thing twice. So why not post what I make online and maybe give other people the chance to try it too, right? It seems to be working for my sister anyway (NomNomNomBlog.com), although I guarantee she’s far more talented than I am at both cooking and blogging. So maybe don’t read hers until you’ve given me a chance.

Now the secondary aim of this blog is to show all those people I know/meet who think it’s too hard and time consuming to cook real food for most of their meals that it’s not that bad. The usual reasoning is that they don’t want to cook for themselves, they don’t want to wait hours after work to eat and fresh produce is too expensive. Since I almost always cook for myself, typically come home from work late and starving and have modest financial means at best I think I might be able to help give these people some ideas. Same thing goes for the vegetarian part of all of this. I’m a somewhat recent convert of a year and a half, so perhaps I can help with that whole transition as well. If you want to make it that is, lord knows I’m not forcing anyone.

-Ok-

Food! What’s the hold up? I know I should probably talk equipment and all that, but for now I’ll just mention things as I use them. Really my only requirements anyway are saucepan, frying pan, good knives, something to stir with (no hands, it’ll be hot) and a utensil to eat with. Everything else is optional. As for your kitchen we won’t be too picky, mine is basically a hallway. Although I do like that gas stove.

Ted's Kitchen

Now the good stuff. The first experiment I’m going to put in here is the one I made right before my laptop bit it.

Chickpea & Broccoli Curry (I’m new to naming things, so no wit here)

Ingredients:
1 Large Crown of Broccoli – Cut into mouth-size pieces
1/2 of a Medium/Large Yellow Onion – Cut as you will. I like big pieces
1 Can (15oz) Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans
Olive Oil
Curry Powder
Soy Sauce/Liquid Aminos
Sherry

Directions:
Put your frying/saute pan (cover is a plus) over medium-high heat. Put enough water in to cover the entire bottom, then add a splash of sherry and 1 tbspof olive oil. Once the water is about to boil throw in the broccoli. Cover it (if you have one, if not use more water) and cook until the broccoli turns bright green. Then turn the heat to medium and throw in the onions. Once the onions start softening up put in the chick peas and about 1/4 tsp of curry powder and a splash or two of soy sauce. As that cooks you can add more curry powder to taste, a pinch or two of salt and a little cayenne pepper if you want it spicy. While put this all in make sure you are stirring somewhat frequently. Then keep saute-ing or stir frying (depending on water content) until the broccoli is cooked.

Broccoli & Chickpea Curry in the Pan

Once the broccoli is where you like it (I accidentally overcooked mine a bit) then just spoon it all onto a plate and dig in! This recipe probably officially makes enough for two, although I ate it after playing basketball all morning, so I polished it off. I’m a fan of leftovers so I don’t typically mind, but if you want to simply cook less I’d probably use half the chickpeas and store the rest for later.

The finished product:Broccoli & Chickpea Curry

Definitely not quite at the level my sister is with the pictures, but I’ll work on it. As for the food, it was delicious. In fact I just made another Chickpea Curry today, but with potatoes and carrots. The beauty of this and most of my experiments is that vegetable and spice choice is flexible. So have fun!

Hello world!

February 5, 2009

Welcome to The Veggie Lab! I’ll have something for you to read soon.


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