Thursday, January 31, 2008

Peppermint Rediscovered, pt. 1

Well, I am too tired tonight to write a full entry, but in case some hungry Clevelander has found this blog and changed their mind about Peppermint because of my previous post, know this--we really enjoyed it tonight. The restaurant was PACKED, and we were actually there for take-out. The food came quickly, and it was excellent. If I wake up early tomorrow, I will post what we ate. But, I felt like the restaurant, locally-owned as it is, deserved a second try, and I am so glad I did.

Potatoes for the Infirmed

Belle was not feeling well today, so she was on a white food diet--starches, soy milk and bananas. So far, food is not a struggle, so she didn't really notice the restrictions. I ended up giving a friend a ride home, so I was late coming home. I asked my husband to make potato bread, a recipe from M--'s dad.

When I came home, baby was dancing (arms only right now) to 80s music, and there were beautiful flat breads being tossed in a pan. It turned out that we were low on potatoes, so we only had enough bread for Belle. She ate them with a side of yoghurt, and seemed happy enough to eat alone while the whole family watched on. Sadly, she was so cranky, I not only missed out on cooking or her but also playing with her, because right after dinner she went to bed.

Potato Bread
Mash together
3 small red potatoes or 1 baking potato (baked or microwaved)
1/2 block silken tofu (soft)

1 cup (or so) Wheat flour until you get a soft workable dough

Pan cook until brown in pan without oil.

Ideally, I would have put in some grated, cooked cauliflower or some sauteed onions, but not for Belle today .

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Taco Night

Tonight was a brazen veganization of a meaty dinner—beef hard tacos. We had half a log of fake ground beef. I had used it previously for the tomato sauce, and liked it because it didn’t taste meaty. I have never enjoyed the meat-style veggie burgers. (But, of course, that might be because I eat meat.) I have written before, that my husband doesn’t like the masquerading tofu as a meat dish. This was a risk, yet it is a quick meal to make and had a high chance of success with Belle. The result was really nice. Meat-lover substitute, no complaints, nice. It is a meal that I will repeat, no doubt. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t the vegan culinary revelation that the Shepherd’s Pie and Tofu Galbi Sandwiches were. This to me seemed a real vegan mom staple. I would make some changes eventually to increase the nutritional aspects—add some diced tomato and cucumber in the summer or maybe some finely sliced Brussels sprouts sautéed with garlic and coriander.

I remembered the episode of America’s Test Kitchen in which Christopher Kimball and his tiny blond chefs recreated the American Suburban Tex-Mex Favorite, but better. They brought out the blue box, cracked apart the stale yellow taco shells, and then displayed the atomic orange beef-filling. Then, they proceeded to make it right. I am someone who will actually eat, and sometimes enjoy, American cheese. I will eat low-end food and find something to like. So, this premise of America’s Test Kitchen that you can make these bad foods better doesn’t always sit well with me. That said, I do hate everything in that blue taco box. I didn’t use the ATK recipe, because when I checked on the America’s Test Kitchen site ages ago you needed to log in. I don’t need to belong to any more sites. I created the recipe without their original recipe in hand. What I really took was the way that they turned wheat tortillas into shells. Fry the whole tortilla, and then form in over a wooden spatula. It was messy and added to the fat content of the meal, but it did make for appealing tacos. We included a side of so-called Spanish-style brown rice and refried black beans.

The whole point of this blog has been to save the recipes Belle loves. And, tonight was a success. Last night, she ate so little, I felt terrible. But, tonight she had 1 ½ tacos. She had a hard time biting the fried ones, but she enjoyed the meal—so it is a recipe to keep.


Sautee in olive oil the following:
1/2 package beef-flavored fake ground meat
1/2 cup diced onion
1 T garlic, crushed
1 t chilli powder
2 t ground cumin
2 t ground coriander
2 t dried Mexican oregano
salt as needed

In a separate pan, sautee or steam until tender:
1 cup diced carrot (parcook this before adding other ingredients)
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup corn
1 t coriander
salt as needed

In the pan in which the meat filling was sauteed, add 1 inch of oil (olive or vegetable) and fry tortilla shells.

Fill the tacos, with meat, sauteed vegetables, refried beans, grated soy cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatillo salsa.

In a sauce pan, sautee
1/2 small red onion diced
1/2 cup diced carrot
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

after 1 minute, add
2 cups water, veggie stock or 1.5 cups water and .5 cup orange juice
1 t chilli powder
2 cloves garlic crushed

Simmer 15 minutes and then crush with an potato masher

Sautee in olive oil:
2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1/2 small red onion
2 T tomato paste
2 t Mexican Oregano

Serve warm.

Bonne Anniversaire (Warning this post is a bit Cheesy)

It was my friend C—‘s birthday today. (Many happy returns of the day, my beloved friend.) Prior to lunch, C— received a cute food related birthday gift—a cupcake from Appetite. (Read more in Fun Playing with Food.) I don’t get to Appetite in Lyndhurst too often, because the Mayfield Road construction burned me. But, a couple friends are loyal customers. One friend got there this morning to find that there was a single providential cupcake left. I am cupcake obsessed. I blame Belle, because this obsession did not occur until my pregnancy. I love them, think about them and talk about them. I love Isa Chandra Moskowitz even more for her cupcake tattoo. And this cupcake came in its own carrier WITH a candle taped to the top. Now, men at Appetite, that is superb.

In celebration of my friend C—‘s birthday, we had a lovely work get together. A pair of friends at work are of an extremely congenial sort, and they put together a lovely spread to celebrate. Having forgotten these plans, I brought leftovers from last night for my lunch, but could not turn down the offered food. There was a nice salad of broccoli, olives, peppers, white navy beans(?) and then a wonderful squash soup. While the label near the soup stated it could be eaten warm, cool and at room temp, everyone was heating it up, and so ever one to feel peer pressure, I followed suit. Honestly, the label was right—the soup was tasty enough to be eaten anyway. It was served with a dollop of plain yoghurt, to mitigate the sriracha in the soup, and something crunchy (I think it was macadamia nuts, though I didn’t use them.) The meal was completed with a moist cake. My guess is the recipe is what box cakes aim at—it was similar in color and texture but it lapped those cakes in flavor and aroma. Apparently, the secret to the cake was the 1 cup of brewed coffee that was included in the batter.

This food was accompanied by lively, stream of consciousness banter, and having read these blog entries, you shouldn’t be surprised that I was party to this. As I told my friends, who are the only ones reading this anyway, it seems improper to report on them in such a public way. Suffice it to say, today at lunch I had a lovely vegetarian (not vegan) meal that left me satisfied and happy that (1) my friends are great cooks and (2) today was my friend C—‘s birthday.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Meat After Dark: Fergus Henderson's Bone Marrow

Tonight we were late coming home from work. So, dinner was rushed and Belle was not that interested. We had pasta fagoili. This was my husband's favorite bachelor meal, and it is what he yearns for when he is sick, tired, lonely, or unsettled. I have never made it. For him, the eating of the dish is connected to chopping the vegetables, drinking part of the wine that goes in the pot, stirring the bowl… And, honestly, I have always been very happy to just sit back and partake. Belle usually loves pasta. This time we made it with rotini. While carbs are usually a big hit, rotini is apparently not Belle's favorite. Pastina, spaghetti, and orzo have worked. But, not rotini. From cooking to bedtime we had about 45 minutes at most; so it could have also been the hustle and bustle. As we will both be working more hours in the weeks to come, I will have to plan and cook more elements of dinner on the weekends. Planning meals have never been my strong suit. I come from a long line of impulse shoppers and impulse chefs. Can I break with my heredity? The rest of the story would seem to prove that I can’t.

On our way home, we had run into Heinen's for some treats for me to take into work tomorrow. After an unsatisfying lunch of a Vegetarian Bowl and no breakfast, something snapped inside me. The meat counter beckoned me. The young butcher was charming enough and I ended up buying marrow bones. I had purchased some from the West Side Market around New Year’s when M— was in town. She was making a wonderful Polish inspired meal (or more truly inspired by her mother.) Whenever (someday) I remake M—‘s mother’s meal, I will write more about each element, short ribs, sauerkraut salad and perogies. I have some strong feelings about the meal, and I know it needs its own post. Nonetheless, we didn’t get around to the marrow bones that time. And, they went to the dog.

So, this time I was not going to let them hang out one minute. As soon as we finished dinner, I turned the oven to 450 degrees. I used some of the flat leaf parsley from the pasta with cider vinegar, sea salt and olive oil. We didn’t have crusty bread, so I sliced some everything bagels thin and toasted them.

Then, we waited 20 minutes. I have been thinking often about Fergus Henderson and his belief in eating everything. Jaime Oliver is now a licensed animal murder. (Read more in the New York Times.) In this debate about the ethics of eating and living responsibly, if responsible meat eating is possible, it means thinking about how the animal is treated and how much of the animal is consumed. We can’t just eat the chicken breasts, and even worse, we can’t feed parts of chicken to other chickens. Really, people like Michael Pollan write much more cogently about these topics. But, my point is with Belle in the world, I have considered this debate in a new way. One thing I do know is that I have rethought what is okay to eat—if I eat animal muscle then I should also consume or make use of the other bits.

Marrow is one bit I had yet to try. So, we sat and waited. When it was ready, I was hesitant. It wasn’t the bone-ness of it or the carnivore nature of it. I have already written that I won’t turn down food on the basis of texture. But, in this case, it was the mucilaginous, colloidal texture that made me hesitant. So, after a deep breath, we both dug in, quite literally. The result was rich and lovely. I was tempted to treat it the way that Belle treats hummus—to lick it off the bread and then reapply. But, our reverie into bone-eating was short-lived. We only each had a three-inch section of bone. Our little brush with marrow left us wondering if we had actually tasted it. I suspect by tomorrow morning we will be talking about it in large words and with reverential authority. But, right now, I know it tasted like rich meaty roasted creaminess.

Tofu Galbi Sandwich, the Recipe

My husband tells me that the tone of my last post was far too fleeting, a veritable floating world. So, this one will be more concrete, practical, full of hope, and empowering. After all, isn't that what a recipe is for? It is the plan to recreate something exactly as it was done before. That is very forward-looking and positive.

As I said, my goal for the tofu was sweet and salty with a faint charred barbeque taste. Next time I do this, I will make them with Heinen's whole wheat hot dog rolls so that I have a good vessel for the toppings.

This is a recipe that made me dream of that finger torturing device, the mandolin. I had one, but have misplaced it. In fact, this recipe also involved my least favorite kitchen tool, the grater. As a kid, my mother would make me grate carrot for salads. While not a fearful child by nature, I did it picturing my fingers being shredded.

Tofu Galbi Sandwich
In a small bowl, marinade:
3 T white vinegar
1 pinch sugar
1/2 small red onion sliced very thin
In a cast-iron grill pan, on medium high, grill:
extra firm tofu, lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices

In another cast-iron skillet, sautee
1 cup mushrooms, quartered

Remove mushrooms and set aside. In that same skillet, sautee
very finely sliced butternut squash (or kobocha squash)
3 t crushed garlic

Remove and set aside the squash. In that skillet, simmer:
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup Soy Vay Teriyaki Sauce
1/4 cup catsup
1/4 cup apple sauce or diced pear
1/4 cup A1 Steak Sauce
1 pinch chilli powder

When the mixture is warm, add the grilled tofu, and heat until the sauce is thickened. At the same time, julienne
1 carrot (or 1/2 yellow carrot & 1/2 orange carrot)
1 4 inch piece of english cucumber

For each sandwich, compile
1 whole wheat bun
1 piece barbequed tofu
4-5 pieces squash

Offer the cucumer, carrots, quick-pickled onions, arugula (if available), shredded iceberg (yes, iceberg), remaining sauce at the table for diners to place on their sandwiches.

Bahn-chan style Potato Salad
Boil, microwave or roast
1 lb potatoes

Shred and reserve
1 carrot
2-3 small Jerusalem artichokes

Mash the potatoes when warm and add
1 T margarine
1/4 cup soy milk
1 T soy yoghurt
1 T mustard
1-2 T rice vinegar

Serve warm or cold

Monday, January 28, 2008

Barbequed Tofu Sandwiches, of a sort

My husband will never eat Tofurky, and damn straight, he says. He would however happily consume tofu stewed with konbu, kobacha squash with a side of wakami salad. That is closer to tofu in its natural habitat, apparently. Tofu in any East Asian style dish is acceptable. (I haven't really discussed with him if we will need to prepare tempeh in a South-East Asian style, but wheat-meat is something we have yet to discuss.) So, he would be more likely to eat Tofurky if it were not meant to be tofu turkey and instead roasted tofu. But, he is not really their market. They are reaching out to the veg people, who yearning for their childhood holidays searching for an alternate festive centerpiece. He, on the other hand, plans to brine and cook a turkey, free-range and what not, for every Thanksgiving forever. For him, tofu is an enjoyable food that any omnivore might enjoy on a trip to an Asian restaurant. And, it is this belief that fills him with dread when I fill my Heinen's cart with blocks of tofu. He fears that I might bring it home and serve it as I might a steak. And if that weren’t enough, I would bill it as “steak and potatoes.” For him, it is an issue of authenticity, intention, and honesty. Beans and franks, disgusting. Beans and tofu franks, lame.

So tonight, on the ride home, potato salad sounded good. Not, the mayonnaise and bacon one, but a warm one with vinegar, red onions, and capers. When I got home and started to work, I ended up going Korean fusion with the meal. This all began with a need for bahn-chan potato salad.

There was a Korean restaurant on Mayfield Road that I miss so sincerely. The food there was sporadic, but we were extremely, sometimes overly, loyal customers. They served a creamy potato salad as one of the little dishes that came out as you were seated. It was very rare. Apparently, the mayonnaise content would make it spoil, so they almost never made it. When that restaurant stopped making it altogether, I started making it at home. At the time, I had a friend from Korea, who was an excellent cook. I took her recipe and removed the ham (never been a giant fan) and added some crispy things.

This characterization makes it wholly unappealing, but that is more due to the inadequacies of my language rather than the recipe. My goal was to get a nice balance between creaminess, tanginess, and acidity. To accomplish this, I use small blue potatoes mashed with butter and buttermilk and then finished with some Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, industrial wasabi, and mustard. For the crunchiness, I add carrots, cucumber, and daikon, all sliced oh so fine and dressed with rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.

So, in the new dairy-free world, I mashed baked white potatoes with a pat of vegan margarine, soy milk, and soy yogurt. While warm, I added grated carrots and grated sun chokes (grown in America). I dressed the whole mixture with mustard, rice vinegar, and grape seed oil. The finished product was quite nice, but not the creamy lovely that I remembered. I think I might venture to the land of soynaise. I am not sure. I read on PPK, or in some of those ladies literature somewhere, they suggest I think the grape seed-naise or maybe they hate the grape seed-naise. I need to reread that…

All this writing about potato salad, and I have gotten lost about the topic of the post—the tofu. So, I wanted to make sandwiches. When I was pregnant, my in-laws had sent us a gift of pulled chicken from Montgomery Ribs (Bob Hope loved them.) I used to eat it on Heinen's toasted wheat hamburger buns with a yoghurt-curried-cole slaw. (Yes, everything I eat seems baroque. My husband says everything from my language to my taste in clothes leans heavily to the baroque.) But, I was trying to recapture that sandwich with dinner.

The result was wonderful. The tofu was grilled with nice crossed marks, and the barbeque sauce was sweetish like Korean galbi. I topped it with sautéed butternut squash sautéed with garlic, pickled red onion, thinly julienned carrots, and dry-sauteed mushrooms.

And, then halfway through the production of the components, I remembered a dish that Iron Chef Japanese made on the original show. I think it was the bamboo episode. Morimoto wanted to do a traditional American barbeque meal. He made a hotdog with catsup and French fries. The low-brow/ high brow result made the lovely female guest titter with joy. So, I decided to take the extra step and make fries, in this case butternut squash fries. They were so crispy and excellent that I fear that I will never get them quite so again.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pan Asian Weekend: low-key finale

Tonight I made Indian for dinner. Are the Indians Asian or South-Asians? That topic aside, we had jasmine rice (wished it had been basmati), sautéed snake gourd, dry-fried okra, white kidney beans, and organic plain goat yogurt. Not much of dinner was acceptable for the baby, but no matter, tomorrow she might feel differently.

Snake gourd is a long tropical squash/gourd(?) with hard ridges. The trick is to trim off enough off the ridges, but still retain some amount of skin. Too little skin retained, and you have a flavorless mush; too much ridge retained and dinner is all fiber. Is this a metaphor for balance in life? Really, it is just advice on cooking snake gourd. My husband often avoids it when I make it, because it reminds him of cooked cucumber. Today, eating it, he noted it had a delicate flavor, cooked with water, mustard oil and green chilies, but he prefers the flavor of the okra.

Thinking about it, mucilaginous was the theme for dinner. Gooey, sticky, oozy, soft, both vegetables are really acquired tastes in terms of texture, though there are very few foods that I would turn down on texture alone. Heck, earlier today, I just ate more of those tofu noodles that fight back.

My husband said he loved the okra "right off the bat."(If you read a sport metaphor here, assume I have quoted them.) Usually I sliver the okra, toss it with cumin and hot pepper and then roast it in the oven. But, today, I decided to pan fry it. I realized that this method requires way more oil, and didn't get me the crispy texture that I love of the oven version. Stove top for me no longer. (Apparently grammar and I are but acquaintances.)

Both these vegetables are said to have restorative properties. My hope is that they heal my stomach from a weekend of meat-eating.

I still very satiated from lunch, so I only ate dinner to set a good example for Belle. But now that she is safely asleep, I am partaking in caffeine and milk. I decided to complete my Indian cleaning meal with a milk and sugar-filled srikand that I found at an Indian grocery store. Like all Indian sweets, srikand is cloyingly sweet, and unapologetically so. In my mind, 75% of Indian desserts taste of pistachios, saffron and sugar; they just differ in texture. This is basically sweet, thick yogurt. It is a great way to get your daily requirements of calcium.

Oven-fried Okra
Cut 2 cups of okra in half lengthways and then cut each half into thirds. Toss with 2 teaspoons or so of cumin, 1 t of chili powder, 1 T of oil. Put them in an oven-safe dish and roast at 400 degrees until very crispy.

Vegan, Vegetarian and Non-Veg (as they say in India)

Maybelle loves tofu. This is something I have stated before. She eschews meats and is allergic to dairy. While we ate meatless many evenings before the baby, we definitely never ate meat-product-, dairy-product-, chocolate-product-, caffeine-product-, honey-product-, processed-product- free before.
When she turned 1, she decided she would only eat what we were eating and most often off my plate. Does she believe she needs a poison taster? My parents do treat her as royalty. But, this is a family tradition; I loved what my mom ate. My husband tells me his family had no such tradition; but, they are much better behaved then us anyway. So, we have moved as a group to meals that May would eat. While I have offered Maybelle meat products, she refuses them, and I want to support her choices. I think I will continue to have meat available periodically, but we have gone to eating meat-free at least 5 nights a week.

I have asked around, and read around to find great recipes. I love the Veganomicon blog, the Post Punk Kitchen by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. (I am fairly sure that one day very soon I will purchase the book itself. I have fingered it very often.) I used their recipe for vegan buttercream that I found at Chow to dress May's birthday cake. I enjoy reading the Vegan Lunchbox blog. But, for my money right now, it is all about Rose Elliot's The Complete Vegetarian Cuisine, Pantheon Book, 1988. I bought it when I was first interested in Vegetarian cookery. That time around I focused on the Vegetarian Epicure, and I just overlooked this gem. But, now, as a mom who wants balance and complete MENUS, this book has really drawn me in. It also has "V"'s to mark vegan recipes.

Her Shepherd's pie recipe enticed me in last week because it included french lentils. My husband loves lentils and legumes of all sorts. Shepherd's pie, that warm industrial food of my childhood, was wonderful because of the rich sauce and the fluffy mash--the meat to me was always afterthought. It was never a meal that my mother made, or for that matter even ate. So, I have really never tasted the traditional, homemade shepherd's pie. It has become a comfort food de rigeur at restaurants of that ilk, including the Lamb Shepherd's pie at Sara's in Gates Mills, but that is another story. But, I really wanted this recipe for a rich hearty winter meal. And that is what I got.

As with all recipes, I read it, closed the book, and then made it how I wanted to eat it. But, I would say I was very close to hers. The result was ridiculous. I spoke about the recipe at work for days. My whole family not only loved it but chose it over chicken for lunch the following day. In fact, it was this experience that made me decide to right a blog. I decided that if I didn't, I might loose it. Right, now, I might be the only one reading this, but a year from now, when I think how did I make that delicious shepherd's pie, I will know that there it is in space. This time I paired it with a bibb lettuce, apple and red-wine vinegar salad (with a dash of gorganzola dreams.)

Shepherd's Pie
(Influenced by that of Rose Elliot)

1 large baking potato
1 large sweet potato
(take out 1 cup soya milk and some margerine to come to room temperature)

1 cup french lentils, until tender (maybe it was 30 minutes)

In a separate skillet, dice and then saute the following:
1/2 cup carrot, onion (both in medium size pieces)
1/4 cup celery (fine pieces)
1 T parsley (chopped fine)

In a yet another separate pan, sautee the following until very caramelized:
1 medium chayote diced in medium pieces
1 T garlic

Add chayote to the carrot mixture, and then sautee the following until very browned:
1/2 block organic tofu
2 t Braggs liquid aminos
1 T A1 Steak Sauce
2 t Worcestershire Sauce

Add lentils, part of their boiling water, and the tofu to the pan with the carrots. Put this whole mixture at the bottom of a casserole dish. Set aside to cool slightly.

Mash the 1 potato with some (2 t) vegan margarine and some soy milk until creamy. Follow the same format with sweet potato. (But, do them separately.)

Cover the filling with the mash. Use a spatula to make peaks. Place until the broiler until browned.

Sasa Matsu Redux

We returned Sunday for dim sum with Maybelle. In the bright winter light, the interior is actually quite fresh and not as 80's I perceived it yesterday. The banquet is upholstered in a Marimekko-style fabric that looks nice against the white tables. All in all, loved every moment of lunch.

As it was called dim sum, I was unsure what to expect. I began to imagine little blond wood carts and waitresses clad in grey natural fiber skirts and matching fitted coats. Afterall, every store and restaurant job in Japan seems to come with a tailored uniform. Sadly or thankfully, this fantasty was not at all correct. Instead, dim sum was to be ordered off the menu, and true to the izakaya style, and came out as soon as they were prepared.

We ordered so much food that three hours later I am still full. Driving over, we decided to order the Vegetarian Takitomi rice for May. The menu, one typed page front and back, was deceptive, in that at first glance I thought, I will just order one or two items, only to find that I had ordered a banquet. We had so much food. Maybelle loved the chinese greens, the takitomi rice, the tempura yams. We loved the chicken katsu, the barbequed pork and steaming hot octapus balls. Each item came with lovely little condiments and such. There were the long vinegary daikon threads, shredded fried yam(?), and pickled onions. In fact, this morning, either the rush of the food or a night's sleep has changed all perception. I find that with the lovely plating of these condiments I don't so much mind that the plates are not round.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pan Asian Weekend

This weekend instead of cooking, we ended up eating dinner out two nights in a row.

Thursday night, I wanted to remake the wonderful "ramen" with veg/tofu gyoza that was a success with Maybelle last week. This time we used tofu noodles, for the extra protein, instead of rice noodles. But, the propensity of the tofu noodles to resist our bites was incredibly disconcerting to mother and child. In addition, last week, I had included spiced red cabbage and soya bean salad as topings for the "ramen". This time, I made too many short cuts. I cooked the soy beans and greens, this time kale, in the soup. It just wasn't as tasty or successful. Though, May did like the greens, she gave up on the noodles altogether. But, the worst failure was the fried tofu. Last time, I used the firm tofu that is made in Cleveland. This time I used a national brand. I didn't buy the Cleveland one, because it is not organic. But, sadly, the tofu that I used didn't fry well. Instead, it went from white bubbling puddles to burnt bits in a second. All in all, there were only a couple of yummy fried chunks.

This meant that on Friday I decided to look elsewhere for Belle's beloved fried tofu. Honestly, I don't know if it is beloved. I know that she seems to consume tofu quite happily and she steadfastly refuses meat. I had read that Peppermint, the Pepper Pike location for the restaurant Mint, was excellent. The restaurant was the understated cliche of an Asian restaurant-dark wood tables, imported tourist art on the wall, assorted non-round white plates. While the staff was very nice, and so kind to Maybelle, our selections, Pad Thai and Chicken Ginger were so bland.

I have never been to Thailand, and I have no problem with Americanized Asian food. In fact, I enjoy the confluence of flavors that result in hybrid cusines. I dream of making the perfect Gobi Manchurian, a dish born of the Chinese in India. Chop Suey, an American Chinese food, is pretty much the only Chinese dish my dad will eat, and as such tastes like childhood to me. For me, Americanized or hybridized or popularized all work, but bland or poorly cooked are quite another thing. These dishes just lacked flavor. But, the trip was not unsucessful, because Belle loved her tofu and rice. So who am I to judge?

Saturday was a much better food day. I awoke thinking that my husband and May had been up for hours only to find that both were like me, sleeping in. While it was the first rested morning I had experienced in ages, May woke up ravenous. I quickly whipped up some Vegan pancakes. I have been trying to perfect a recipe that I found online. As I was in a hurry, I did not look up the recipe but went by memory instead. (Last time I had made the recipe they were so lovely that I thought to myself never again will I melt butter and white egg whites for pancakes. When I produced my gorgeous, I mean food stylist beautiful, pancakes to Maybelle with homemade blackberry syrup, she shuddered. I mean full bodied paroxsym. My husband hadn't dug into his stack yet. I came over to close the computer screen and noticed my mistake. Sadly I had read the recipe incorrectly using baking SODA for baking POWDER. Dad was so pleased that his daughter had a innate discerning palate.) These pancakes, while not super fluffy, were tasty, and not terribly unhealthy. May had a short stack of 5 silver dollars topped with Heinen's Almond butter and bananas.

As there had been few vegetables consumed the previous night for dinner or Saturday morning, I decided to made Baby Pizza and Baby Pasta for lunch. This combo involves my veggie pasta sauce with plenty of carrots, celery, onions and zucchini in the mix. For lunch, I toasted 1 piece of organic wheat bread slathered with the pasta sauce and topped with soy mozzarella cheese--broiled until gooey. This was followed by a side of pasta (like any good Italian-American joint), in this case Barilla whole wheat rotini.

And, then after nap time, my mother babysat so my husband and I could go out to dinner. During my pregnancy, I frequented the Matsuya lunch buffet. We decided to go to Sasa Matsu in Shaker Square. It made me as happy as Matsuya. There was nothing I didn't like about Matsuya. At Sasa, the decor was a little 80s for me but not oppressively, or more importantly unappetizingly, so. But, as the food came out fast, and constantly, Japanese-American tapas or whatever, I didn't pay too much attention. Here too we had the wacko shaped plates. (I want some chef to stand up and say I can be cutting-edge and just use round plates.)

While it is a place that suggests many small things, we were out to spend time together not read the menu, so we started with the grilled sampler. For my husband, the scallops were the star of the evening; the plum wine syrup was subtly sweet. For me, it was the Korean short ribs that were inexpressibly good. For the rest of the evening, there were also grilled peppers, fried peppers, chicken yakitori, and peking duck a l’orange. I felt incomplete without rice, so we ordered vegetable rice takikomi. It was a very nice, rich version of the traditional Japanese kombu-flavored mushroom rice. We finished with a nice baked custard. But, everything we order was excellent--so excellent that we will be returning there today for dim sum.

Veggie Pasta Sauce
Saute in a splash of olive oil the following:
2 t sliced garlic
1/4 cup each finely diced organic carrots, celery, onions, zucchini
1/8 cup or less finely diced organic celery leaves

1 cup canned san marzano tomatoes, crushed
dash of dried oregano


Vegan Pancakes
Mix the following:
1 cup wheat flour
2 T baking power
1 sprinkle baking soda
1 pinch (1/8 t) salt
1 T sugar
1 cup unflavored organic soy milk
1 T olive oil

Cook on an cast-iron griddle.

Feeding Maybelle: the Beginning

With a supposed "severe dairy allergy" and slightly lagging weight, my daughter, Maybelle, has sent me back to the kitchen and made me reassess the food I eat. While in her first year I was fixated on eating enough food to produce food for her, now I can focus on the food we eat, be it homemade or otherwise. And through the year, I hope to learn more about food from the tastes and distastes of my beloved May.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Index By Course

(Still Under Construction)
Acorn Squash Cinnamon Rolls with Orange and Sage
Baked Challah French Toast
Gluten-free Pancakes
Mango Pancakes with Vegan Shrikhand-style Topping
Masala Confetti Style for Dosas
Muffins, Vegan Carrot Raspberry Blackberry
Oatmeal Smoothie
Peach Carrot Wheat Bran Muffins
Plum Yogurt Muffins
Waffles--Raspberry, Sweet Potato, Lime
Vegan Peach Waffles

Acorn Squash and Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Asparagus Souffle
Almond-Crusted Fried Chicken (and Waffles)
Baked Challah French Toast
Herbed Crepes
Duck Bacon Salad
French Lentil Salad with Roasted Garlic Lavendar Vinaigrette
Gluten-free Pancakes
Mango Pancakes with Vegan Shrikhand-style Topping
Masala Confetti Style for Dosas
Muffins, Vegan Carrot Raspberry Blackberry
Peach Carrot Wheat Bran Muffins
Pikelets with Corn, Peach and Tomato Salsa
Plum Yogurt Muffins
Ricotta Egg Pie
Waffles--Raspberry, Sweet Potato, Lime
Vegan Peach Waffles

Asparagus Souffle
Apricot Ginger Pulled Pork
Almond-Crusted Fried Chicken
Broccoli Salad
Tofu in Brown Curry Sauce
Chickpea Patties with Chickpea Salad
Couscous Kitchidi (Couscous and Masoor Dal with Kale Chips)
Moroccan Style Chicken Chili
Herbed Crepes
Duck Bacon Salad
French Lentil Salad with Roasted Garlic Lavendar Vinaigrette
Orange Carrot Parathas
Parathas with Potatoes and Arugula Flowers
Ricotta Egg Pie
Strawberry Shrimp Ceviche
Vegan Salad Nicoise
Strawberry Pizza
Strawberry Tomato Caprese Fusili
Tofu Galbi Sandwich

Asparagus Souffle
Apricot Ginger Pulled Pork
Almond-Crusted Fried Chicken
Bacon-wrapped Roasted Chicken
Tofu in Brown Curry Sauce
Chickpea Patties with Chickpea Salad
Moroccan Style Chicken Chili
Herbed Crepes
Lentil Bolognese
Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Crust and Veggies
Ramp Gnocchi
Veggie Stuffed Shells
Vegan Salad Nicoise
Strawberry Pizza
Singapore Noodles
Tandoori Tofu
Tofu Galbi Sandwich

Side Dishes
Acorn Squash Kimchi
Broccoli Salad
Brussel Sprouts with Vadouvon
Carrot Raita
Corn, Peach and Tomato Salsa
Cole Slaw with Apricot-Ginger
Curried Madeleines
Orange Carrot Parathas
Spicy Orange Pickle/ Achar
Peach, tomato and corn salsa
Parathas with Potatoes and Arugula Flowers
Potato Salad, Chaat Style
Potato Salad, Bahn-chan style
Quinoa Pilaf
Ramp Kimchi
Spaghetti Squash Primavera
Vaali Ambat
Big Belle’s Vinegary Potato Salad

Acorn Squash Cinnamon Rolls with Orange and Sage
Apricot Custard Pie with Basil
Mini Apple Rhubarb Pies
Beet and Chocolate Nankhatai
Mango Cupcakes with Buttercream, Vegan Saffron Pistachio
Caramelized Coconut Lime and Ginger Cupcakes (Egg-free) with Coconut and Lime Buttercream Icing
Chipotle Peach Sponge Cupcake with Jalapeno Mint Cream Frosting
Red Currant Cupcakes
Masala Coffee Custards
Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Beet Cupcakes
Masala Coffee Donuts with Espresso Cardamom Cream Filling
Lactation Cookies
Mango Oatmeal Cookies
Mango Cupcakes with Saffron-Pistachio Frosting (Shrikhand frosting)
Mango Madeleines
Maple Caramel Apples
Orange Ginger Caramel Popcorn Balls
Orange Carrot Parathas
Persimmon Mini-cupcakes (Egg-Free)
Red White and Blue Bundt cake ( Cherry and Blueberry Bundt Cake)
Red Currant Mini-Cheesecakes
Rustic Apple and Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb Cupcakes with rhubarb frosting
Pistachio Spice Cake/ Bunny Cake
R--'s Zucchini Bread

Beet and Chocolate Nankhatai
Fig Samosas with Carrot Raita
Dahi Bhel Puri with Chive Blossoms
Masala Confetti Style for Dosas
Curried Madeleines
Muffins, Vegan Carrot Raspberry Blackberry
Orange Ginger Caramel Popcorn Balls
Oatmeal Smoothie
Orange Carrot Parathas
Peach Carrot Wheat Bran Muffins
Plum Yogurt Muffins
Parathas with Potatoes and Arugula Flowers

Sunday, January 20, 2008

About Us

We are four:
Maybelle: 3 year old who likes to remind me she is almost 5; baker; sugar-lover; bean eater; dancer; future astronaut
Tigerlily 1 year old who eats anything and everything, even if it isn't deemed edible my most of humankind; hooligan; laugher and teaser
Maybelle’s Mom: writer of blog, photographer of food, dancing queen; off-tune singer extraordinaire; and cook
Maybelle’s Dad: cook, baker, cleaner, rock star; and smart-alec

We started this blog when we thought Belle was allergic to dairy. We kept going because we realized we loved the vegan foods were making. It turned out the doctor misdiagnosed Belle, but in that moment, we really began to be critical of what we feed our family.

But, we are omnivores; we eat a great deal of local, vegetarian, vegan…we eat a lot.

Many of the meals are baby friendly (when the baby is in a friendly mood mind you). Others are for after bed time…(red currant infused alcohol anyone?)

Interested in having me review something or write something, please feel free to email me.

Thanks for visiting. Feel free to email at maybellesmom@gmail.comNewMango cupcake