Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Balsamic Dressing

An amoeba could make this dressing, but it couldn't enjoy it the way we can. I got this dressing from How it All Vegan (again, yeah I know) and thee ingredients were simple enough and we had them, but that did not guarantee it would taste good. But guess what? It does taste good.

It is quite tangy, but one you read the ingredients, you will know why, but thee other ingredient balances it out for sure. So go make this and have a salad tonight.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/8 cup maple syrup
Mix the two ingredients together and enjoy.

Did you get that folks? For if it was too difficult for you you can definitely Email me and we can talk about this one. I know it was a difficult recipe and for that I apologize. I crack myself up.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just Look In Their Grocery Carts

I debated highly whether or not to take the job I currently have. And for no other reason then the fact that I honestly would not eat just about any of the stuff I push upon the poor souls that walk by demonstration cart.

And when unemployment sent me to fill out applications I applied to most places that were geographically close to home. I was unsure as to whether or not I should even apply at some places I cringe at when I drive by them on the road, but we are borrowing vast amounts of money every single month from my in-laws just to stay float. We had bills to pay.

So each and every day I kept hoping that some of these less reputable places that pass themselves off as 'food joints' would call upon me to work for them. And the my next dilemma was, "What do I do if they 'do' call?" I know I don't want to be in debt for the rest of my life, but does how does a wanna be vegan even work in a place like that. Well that answer was...you don't.

It's like an atheist working for a church. I mean it just doesn't mesh. It would go against the very grain of what I believed in. Luckily for me that did not happen.

I did however, get a call from a demonstration company. In essence, I do not work for the companies of the foods/products I push on the poor suspecting public, nor do I work for...wait for it, here it comes...Walmart. Yes, I reside four days a week within the confines of the biggest conglomerate known in the free world. And man, all I can say is WOW!

It is good to be and how I live my life. Please do not take that in the wrong light. Many people are on a mission and on thier way to better themselves. But oh so many are not and you want to know how I know? I see what they put in thier shopping carts every day I am there.

I do not have to say to these people that my product is great, for I am not one to lie to sell soemthing. I just go by what others say about it and quote them. Have of this that graces my table should not even fall into the category of food, and yet people buy into it...all-the-time. And it shows up in the waistlines. I see it all folks. The good the bad and the ugly. I knew we had a nation of obese people. But I had no idea the scale of the morbidly obese. And yes, they come shopping. I don't know whether to be mad at them, pity them or cringe. And truth be told I feel all of the above.

My heart aches that they feel the need to fill some void through food. I am the first one to openly admit to loving food. I mean come on I have a cooking blog for crying out loud. But I make choices, and tough ones I might add. Tell me what family of four can go anywhere and spend that on groceries a week with an extra thirty to forty on produce (remember there are two vegetarian in the house). So roughly $140-150 a week on groceries. Not many families I know can do that. And thee only way I can do that is by shopping at Walmart...for now that is.

When you don't know where your next dollar is coming form and you are constantly borrowing form your in-laws, you have to take what you have and get the most for your buck. And for me and my family rihgt now, that is Walmart. Do I uphold what they stand for? No. But I have no choice at this point in my life. I can however make the best choices inside Walmart once I am there. So I look at what I spend with my $100 and what others would and do spend with thier $100. I get so much less, but only in quantity. My cart is filled $100 of quality foods.

We all make choices, but some folks are stuck in a rut that they have been fed by the food industry, and for that I feel for them. When I do get a chance to strike up a conversation with passer-by's I tell them I am a vegetarian and we talk a wee bit. I get these people for all of about 30 seconds to 1 minute. If I can infuse just a bit of information into them, then my job is done.

So I stand there pushing my wears like a drug dealer on a street corner, but I go home and know I have made some better choices in my life.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tofurky Sausage

Mr. Cooking Lady come home from work with a bag full of goodies. And they were vegan goodies. I know I should not eat processed foods. And for the most part we do OK. But once in a while I like to have a sausage, or a sandwich, so we have the meat alternatives as a back up. We may not buy them again for months, or we may use them for weeks on end, but that is usually no the case.

The newest product to come into our home is the Tofurky line. When I meet new people who find out that Savanah and I are vegetarians, they nearly run at me with, 'Do you have Tofurky for Thanksgiving?' And up until now, I have told them no, for really and truly we have never had this product. And this next Thanksgiving, there will be no Turkey in our home. Trust me when I say that our dinner table does fine without it.

On to my review. This product had tons of flavor, and held together. A bit to much for me. That is not a complaint. It's just a little too firm. But in the recipe we made it with, it is perfect. So I guess it is doable. Then there was thier lunch meat. Again is was kind of chewy, but I told Savanah, since we load our sandwiches up with gobs of veggies and such, that we would not notice the chewiness. And could I eat it in a plainer sandwich? Definitely, but why when you can pile it high with great fixin's.

Some of you may say, 'Hey, just have the sandwich with the fixin's and ix-nay the fake meat. And like I said, for the most part we do, but I guess this is like our pint of Hagen Daz. We get our fix and move on. But it is nice to know we can purchase these items and fit in with thee others.

And...they are vegan.

Purple Cabbage Optional

I have recently gone back to work. I am one of those demonstration ladies who hands out food in Walmart. I know, I know. But trust me when I say I don't eat the stuff, I just hand it out. When going back into the work force, I debated on whether or not I could work in some places. For instance, I had actually applied at McDonald's. What if they called and offered me a job, would I have taken it, and used that as my platform to let everyone know about vegetarianism? It was something I grappled with. But I got lucky, sort of.

When I tell people about the products I am giving away (And yes it is crap food) I do not tell them I think it is good, for I do not eat it. I do tell them however that others are loving it. I'm not lying and they are happy.

My latest product was Sara Lee's low sodium lunch meat line. I cut the meat up as instructed and laid in on top of a saltine style cracker. Then there was a hand out card on how to make thee ideal 'Hearty Ham & Cheese Sandwich'. Duh, if you can't to that by now, children excluded, then I hand out is surely not going to help you.

So I pick this thing up and read it, just for fun, and here is what I read: (Cracked me up)

- Sara Lee 45 calories & Delightful Wheat Bread
- romaine lettuce
- Sara Lee Lower Sodium Honey Ham
- Sara Lee Pre-sliced Muenster Cheese
- Sara Lee Pre-sliced Baby Swiss Cheese
- red tomato
- purple cabbage optional

OK, I know they added some lettuce and tomato, but why the cabbage to be thee optional one, why not the tomato. Many folks are effected by the acid in tomatoes (my heart aches for them). And why not the lettuce. I mean come on, who wants to be a rabbit (Raises hand...'I do.')

Do folks out there in the print up of recipe cards world realize that if not for the few veggies that omnivore do eat, they would be 'stuck' (without getting gross) Even when I consumed meat, I could not imagine a meal without a salad or some sort of veggie in my plate. I have always loved vegetables. Right now, there is not one I cannot think of that I do not eat. Some of them may need to be disguised, but none that I refuse to eat.

So it cracked me up when I read this for I would have been thee opposite way around...'Meat Optional'

200 Posts

What a landmark. When I started this blog, I knew it piqued my interest, but I had no idea I would blog here more than my regular blog. Who knew.

Thank you to all who frequent here and walk away with a little something more than when you got here. Thanks for reading and in essence, eating with me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

This is some what connected to my favorite cookbook post. But not entirely. This woman has many books to her name. But it is her non-condescending approach that makes me like her. Nobody hates a snobby vegetarian/vegan. We all do what we do for our own reasons, and we should not be judged for that. (My daughter keeps reminding me of this...yeah my daughter).
This book is filled with pages of foods broken down into categories and each item has a small description. Then there is a section after the colorful photos that explains the how's and the why's to those items you just drooled over. Who knew there were that many different types of pasta and that each pasta shape has a purpose. Again...who knew. If you get the chance, find her book and buy it. This is one to have in your library, but not just for the recipes. I love it for the easy to understand pages that are filled with veggies and the such.

I picked up her book, guess where? Yeah at either a garage sales, library get-rid-of section or someplace where I know I did not pay top price. I rarely if ever try to do that. I just found Rose Elliot's book on Amazon, in hardcover for $2.90. How cool is that? Obviously very cool. But her website is just as inviting. Plain no nonsense type or woman. Her website is well laid out and easy to navigate.
Check her out and see what she can tell you, for there is plenty of information there to digest.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hoppin' John Salad

Another great dish by Paula Deen. For me she is comfort food, for my mother's side of the family is from the south. I close my eyes and I can hear my grandmother, Grace. so when I see a dish that sparks a memory, I see how much I can health it up and usually have to veg it up. You know Paula, everything tastes better with Bacon/grease,, mayonnaise, and or butter. I swear one day my daughter and I will go on her show and cook her some dee-licious vegan food. But I have to find the right recipes, and get them perfected. I swear I am going to do it. And...I will drag Savanah with me.

How cool is that, Savanah, cooking in Savannah? But I got time on my side. But on to this recipe. The dish is supposed to be a cold salad. But I was on a time crunch, so we ate the dish hot. I am almost afraid to try it cold. That's how good it was hot. Both my husband and Savanah went nuts over it. And for me and Nana, it could have been a complete meal, but she made her first attempt at baked beans, and did OK. The flavor was dead on, but she cooked them a little bit too much and they were a wee bit dry. She learned what she had to do for the next batch.

This recipe folks was simple stupid ans Paula herself has said on many occasions. The ingredients are basic and most folks have them in their kitchen already. So drop on by, make this and invite me, for I will bring a batch of cornbread to go with this dish.

Hoppin' John Salad Recipe : Bobby Flay : Food Network:

2 cups rice
4 slices bacon (We used Morningstar Farms fake bacon)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces frozen black-eyed peas, thawed (We cooked our own)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
10 ounces frozen baby lima beans, thawed
2 cups chicken broth (We used homemade veggie stock)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt (We used Paula Deen's House Seasoning)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add rice, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Set aside on paper towels. Reserve drippings in skillet.
To the skillet add onions and cook over medium heat, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender. Add black-eyed peas, corn, lima beans, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender; drain. Place into a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, seasoned salt, and pepper. Pour on top of vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Mix in rice and crumble in the reserved bacon. Cover and chill in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

My Favorite Cookbooks

I look to cook. Duh, otherwise I don't think I would have a cooking blog. But we all have resources we turn to in times of need, or when thee old standby is raking on our nerves and the tried and true salads, sauces, casseroles, cookies and such forth just don't seem to do it for you any longer.

Hello cookbook.

I have just a few that I turn to ALL the time. The make me feel like I know these people who have taken the time and effort to put their love and thoughts into a book. What an undertaking it must have been for these people to even attempt this, let alone go through it.

The first book I hold near and dear to my heart is The New Laurel's Kitchen:

This was the first cookbook I was given when I was a vegetarian the first time around. It feels like an old worn in shoe that you just can't or won't give up. You can actually visualize the home that these dishes were tested in and the love that went into this book. All I need is a cup of cider and a piece of pie and I am good to go with this book.

The next one that is my new found favorite has just had its 10th anniversary. This is How it all Vegan:
I found this by accident. I was with my children in Borders and where do I always end up? At the cookbook section. This one looked colorful and interesting. It was the retro style that got me to open the front cover. From that moment on I was hooked. So I bought for my daughter *cough cough...myself* for Christmas. The rest as they say is history. It barely leaves our counter top or is at least so close by I can put my hand on it. Try this one out ladies, you will not be disappointed.

The last is my latest addition, but well worth it. Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook:

Again a complete and total accident that this fell into my hands. I was with my children at an Anime convention and there was a library. In I went and my son found it actually. I browsed through and saw a $.50 price on thee inside. I inquired if it was for sale and was told that is was told my son to dig in his pocket for the change. This has so many recipes and categories that it almost confuses me...NOT! This was a great find.

Do not stop looking for a book that fits your kitchen. Try garage sales, rummage sales, church bazaars, the withdrawn table at the library. The possibilities are endless.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Pressing Issue

I love garlic. I like it in any shape way or form. And recently I am learning to embrace it more in its raw state. Bad breath...deal with it.

But I also have this lovely garlic press I purchased on a gift card from Bed, Bath and Beyond that was given to me a year or so ago. Wow, this garlic press. Take the time ladies (and men) to invest in a quality press, you will not regret it.

But I learned something recently about a garlic press. And yes, you can and should learn soemthing as often as you can. That is the joy to reading other blogs. I got this tidbit from Pioneer Woman. Man can she cook up a storm. I think she invented comfort food, right behind Paula Deen that is.

So here is the little piece of information I took away from her blog today:

"If you don't have a garlic press, no worries. You can mince it up. If you do have a garlic press, I have a tip for you. Don't peel the garlic. There's no need to. Just pop it in there and press. The skin will stat in the press and clean garlic will come right through."

Did you just read that? One less step I have to do in the kitchen. I was laboring over cloves of garlic at a time by slaving away at removing their skins...OK , maybe a slight exaggeration, but you know what I am talking about. So slave no more people. you can press away and still save some time in the kitchen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Uba AKA Grape

Uba( Oo buh): Spanish word for grape.

How can I begin to call myself the Cooking Lady when I cannot even tell the difference between fresh and old grapes. Well today I got a crash course from dear ole hubby.

We were sitting at lunch and had a bowl of grapes in front of us. It was mix of green and red seedless grapes. My husband then began to tell me and my daughter how he liked older grapes when he makes fruit salads at work, for they are easier to pull off the vine. So I asked him how did he know the difference between old and fresh grapes. I mean come on, he is a produce clerk and has been for over 10 years. I think he has a heads up on some of thee inside tips.

He picked up a vine and asked me to pick off a single grape. It popped off easy schmeazy. Then he asked me to pick a grape off the green grape vine. Whoa, what a difference. I had to tug at it. That mean they were fresher.

Also, if your vine is greener, then it is fresher as opposed to a vine that is slightly turning brown. Not rotting mind you, just starting to turn. And all this within a ten minute time frame. Who knew?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baked Lemon Pasta

I love this lady. She is a real cook and no frills as well. This is some kitchen you would want to be sitting in with a cup of coffe and some coffee cake. And this woman does not mess around with pre-packaged crap, she is the real deal. I swear if I am ever up her way, I will pitch a tent on her front lawn and just hang out there. If you do not know who I am referring to, it is the Pioneer Woman. And man she is someone worth checking out. And even for us veggies, she has quite a bit to offer and things can be vegetized. So go check her out and see what you can see

1 pound thin spaghetti (make sure you have 1 pound or it will be to soupy)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sour cream (I used yoghurt and it was OK)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste if desired
Plenty of grated Parmesan cheese (We were out and still did fine)
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
Extra lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.
In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat. Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary. Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out.) When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top. Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end. Serve with crusty French bread and a simple green salad.

Monday, June 1, 2009


There is nothing more simple and delicious and flavor absorbing than avocados. I was a late bloomer in learning their fabulous flavor. I was in my early 40's when I came around to eating this little green balls of fantasticness. But a good recipe eluded me. Yes every region has thier own distinct flavor and spices. But I was looking for a basic recipe which I could eventually elaborate on. Well I found just the recipe. I found it here, at Avocado Central , and with a name like that, how could you go wrong? You can't. This is simple, easy and more like a side dish for me. I can now eat this with anything, or nothing. Thee only thing I have left to do is go out to the garden, cut back some cilantro and we are good to go. Yippee!

4 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded
1 tsp ground cumin
1 ripe, medium Roma tomato, seeded, diced
½ Cup minced sweet white onion
2 serrano chilies, seeded, minced (we had none)
¼ Cup chopped cilantro leaves
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice (we used lemon juice)
Hot pepper sauce, sea salt, white pepper to taste(we used sriracha...sparingly!)

Cut avocado in large chunks and mash coarsely in large bowl with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and blend gently - leaving some small chunks is fine. Taste and adjust seasoning with more pepper sauce, salt and pepper if desired."