Thursday, December 20, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Wheat Beer: Part 1

Before I launch into the first part of my home brewing experience, you are probably wondering about the name we chose for our beer. Well over a year ago I was invited to attend the factious Zombie Apocalypse on Facebook, you know since the world is ending tomorrow. Then when Michael and I started dating, I noticed he was attending too! Since this could be our only sustenance while we fend off the zombies, it seemed fitting. 
Home tiki bar one day? source

Awhile ago Michael and I discussed what we wanted to do with our back bonus room and the idea of putting a bar or a kegerator came up. That got me to thinking about brewing our own beer. So I asked Michael for a home brew kit for Christmas. He loved the idea and instantly started researching it. 

It takes about a month to make beer, so  we got my present early. Michael found a wine and beer making store in Campbell called Fermentation Solution. We went last Monday and asked a bunch of questions. The guy who helped us (I don't think we ever caught his name) was very friendly and super informative. He recommended the Starter Beer Making Kit and one of their Recipe Ingredient Kits.  We discussed it some more then I came back on Friday and bought it. 

I was so excited! Then I read the instructions that came with the recipe kit and realized our first issue. The beer takes 7-12 days to ferment. We were leaving in a week to spend Christmas with my family. That meant we either started it right then and hoped it would be ready before we left, or wait until we got back to make it. When Michael got home I told him the issue and he said let's just go for it. He is coming back few days before me so if it wasn't ready in a week, he would bottle when he got back at the 12 day mark. So I followed the recipe instructions as best I could.

First,  I essentially made tea from grain. I put wheat malt and row malt  in a bag and steeped it in very warm water.

Grain bag, steeping in 164 degree water.
Then I realize our second issue. We had a 3 gallon pot of water to steep the grain, but we need another pot to serve as our brew kettle---and it needed to be at least 5 gallons. So we quickly ran to Target and bought another pot. 

In our new pot, we brought 2.75 gallons of water to boil...which took FOREVER!

Bringing 2.75 gallons of water to boil while the grain steeps.
Then I added the "tea" to the pot and realized our third issue. The pot was completely full now and we still need to add 3 lbs of liquid wheat malt. Rather than pour off some of the liquid to make room and risk loosing the flavor, we decided to boil off about 1 inch of it instead. This once again took FOREVER. 

Too full to add the liquid malt...hmm...
I finally added the liquid malt and brought the kettle back up to boil. Then I added the bag of hops and then let it boil away for an hour. 
Our house was very humid and sugary smelling after all the boiling.
That is when Michael realized the fourth issue. We needed to add more cold water before it ferments. He bought 5 gallons of purified water, but we boiled off a gallon or more of it already. Luckily the kit comes with dechlorination tablets so we dechlorinated water from our fridge. 

Then we removed the hops bag and siphoned the beer into the fermenter while trying not to get the trub (the layer of stuff on the bottom).  
Never thought learning how to siphon water troughs back
 in 4H would come in handy one day
Next we added enough the dechlorinated water to bring it up to 5.25 gallons. Then I rehydrated the yeast packet in warm water and added it to the fermenter. 
5.25 gallon of sugary yeast water.
Then Michael put the lid on and stuck in the airlock. 

Ready to ferment!
It should be kept in a cool (between 62 and 72 dergees) and dark place during fermentation, so Michael decided on the garage. 

The instructions said it should start fermenting within 12-24 hours. I check it in the morning before I left for work and there were no bubbles in the airlock. But it had only been 12 hours at the point so I was not concerned. That night after dinner I check it again....still nothing. But there was a residue visible on the side of the fermenter as if something was happening so I still was not too concerned. The temperature in the garage was 60 degrees so I figured it was just taking longer because it was chilly. 

On Tuesday, there was still nothing in the airlock and the temperate was 56 degrees in the garage. I was worried fermentation never started or stalled, so I had Michael bring it inside. 

It warmed up to just barely 62 degrees in the living room by the next day, but I was still concerned. After some research online, I decided that it was probably okay since it smelled like yeast. But I wanted to open it just to be sure. There was a lovely yeast cake right on the top, just like all the photos I saw online. I just chalked it up to being slow because it was too cold in the garage. On the plus side, there is no way it will be ready soon so we do not have to frantically bottle it before we leave. It can probably wait until I come home now. 

The next step will be bottling and waiting for it to carbonate. So Part 2 will follow soon. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Southwest Quiche

I have done a quiche recipe before but I wanted to try a different recipe. This is a Southwest inspired quiche, mainly because I work at a Southwest cafe and thought that sounded good. This can be a lovely brunch or can be paired with a fresh salad for dinner.

Southwest Quiche
1 vegan pie crust (I used frozen)
1 block of firm tofu
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup soy milk (add more if not blending well)
2 tps turmeric
1 tps cumin
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 cup salsa of your choice ( I used the black bean and corn salsa from my work)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a pie pan with cooking spray.

Shape the pie crust into pie pan, set aside.

In a food processor or a blender, add the tofu block and soy milk, blend until smooth. Add the turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Blend until combined.

Pour the tofu mixture into a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients Mix well.

Pour the tofu/veggie mixture into pie crust.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the filling is firm.
 Topped with tomatillo salsa and paired with a cabbage salad.

Top your Southwest treat with some salsa and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Cheesy" Rice

Awhile ago I saw something on Pinterest that said mac and cheese comes out creamier if you cook the noodles in milk. I thought why not try it with rice? I added some nutritional yeast and veggies, and ended up with a big pot of creamy and cheesy rice.

This makes 4 servings.

"Cheesy" Rice
1 cup of rice
2 cups soy milk
1 tbs vegan butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup of frozen veggies (I used the standard carrots, corn, and peas mix)
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot, add the rice and soy milk.  Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Watch it so it does not burn. Add more liquid if necessary to keep it from burning. Try not to open the lid too much though.

Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and add the butter. Mix together well.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and frozen veggies. Cooked until the veggies are heated through.

Add the veggies to the rice and mix together well.

Season with salt and pepper.

This is a basic recipe, feel free to add any veggies, seasonings or anything else you like!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Finally, my last Thanksgiving 2012 recipe: chocolate pumpkin pie. This was actually a big hit with all the non-vegans on Thanksgiving too. It's got more protein from the tofu. Plus it has less fat and no cholesterol.

And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the whole pie. I remembered half way through eating my piece. When I went back to take some, it was already half gone.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
1 16 oz can of pumpkin
1/2 block of silken tofu, drained
2 tbs of coco powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup of soy milk
2 tbs of maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 graham cracker crust (store bought or homemade is fine)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Pour into the graham cracker crust.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the center is firm.

Top with some vegan whip cream or my favorite, coconut cream.

Stuffed Pumpkin

This dish was fantastic and so adorable...too bad I forgot to take any pictures of it! I can at least post the recipe so you can make your own adorable little stuffed pumpkin.  I took this to my second Thanksgiving on Friday since we had to travel two hours. I just heated it up when I arrived.

Stuffed Pumpkin
1 small pumpkin (Mine had about an 6 inch radius)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 cups cornbread stuffing (I used a box mix, but you can make your own as well)
1/2 of a block of extra firm tofu, drained and dried well and cut into small cubes
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 of a small onion, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the stem off the top of the pumpkin and hollow out the inside (detailed instructions on my pumpkin craving post, just minus the actual craving part).

Coat the inside of the pumpkin with some olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine the stuffing, tofu cubes, chopped celery and chopped onions.

Stuff the pumpkin with the stuffing mixture. Make sure to leave a little room at the top. Cover the stem with foil and place back on top.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1.5 hours. The pumpkin should be tender enough that a fork can easily pierce through it.

Now remove the stem, and cut into slices. You eat both the filling and pumpkin flesh. Goes lovely with some gravy.

Next time I promise to remember the pictures...

Trader Joe's Turkey-less Stuffed Roast

I originally wanted a Tofurky Roast, but I did not find find any at Trader Joe's. I did not feel like going to another store so I just settled for Trader Joe's brand. While I still like Tofurky better, this roast was fantastic. It comes with its own gravy too. I served it over roasted veggies. Only a few people tried it for dinner, but those who did said it was good too. This would be a great options for those transitioning to vegetarian or veganism.
Before the oven, I accidentally forgot to take photos of it cooked...opps!

This recipe will work with any other alternative roast, just adjust the temperate and bake time as needed.

Turkey-less Roast
Olive oil
4 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 large carrots, cut into 1 inches pieces
4 large parsnips, cut into 1 inch pieces
Handful of brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 tbs herb de provence
Salt and Pepper
1 Trader Joe's Turkey-less Stuffed Roast
1 cup vegetable broth, divided in half

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Coat the bottom of a roast pan with olive oil.

Prep and chop all the veggies accordingly.

Add the veggies to the pan, plus the herb de provence and the salt and pepper. Mix together to coat everything in olive oil.

Remove the roast from the packaging and place on top the veggies.

Pour half the vegetable broth over the roast.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the veggies are thoroughly roasted and roast is heated through.

Heat up the gravy packet that comes with the roast, pour it on, and enjoy a healthy and meat-free meal!

Mashed Cauliflower

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was very lovely, so nice to spend time with my new family.  I thought I would post some of the recipes I made. I am going to break it into four posts to make it easier.

Here is the recipe for mashed cauliflower. It has a lot less carbs than potatoes. Now, I am not going to lie...I did not have high expectations. Mashed Potatoes is one of my favorite foods and I thought nothing could replace it. But this was fantastic! It is just as good, if not better. And it was so easy.

Mashed Cauliflower
1 medium head of  cauliflower
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Wash the cauliflower head and dry.

Remove the florets from the base stem.

Fill a large pot with water and add the florets.

Place the pot on the stove over high heat on the stove. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, uncover and add a bit of salt. Cook until the cauliflower is tender.

Drain well and return to the pot.

Add the remaining ingredients and mash everything together well.  Try to get the cauliflower as smooth as you can.

Now your mashed cauliflower is ready to serve! I topped mine with vegan gravy but any traditional mashed potato toppings would work great too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu 2012

Thanksgiving is coming up so I thought I would post my menu like I did last year.  I am so happy that, unlike last year, I actually get to eat with people! (Not that I don't love my kitty Penny, but she is not the best dinner companion) We will be attending two Thanksgivings because that is how Michael's family does it.  On Thursday we are going to his sister who lives just a few streets over from us. On Friday we are driving to Lincoln for dinner at his other sister's house. And to make it easier for our lovely hosts, I am bringing my own food. That way I know what I can eat, and no one has to worry or feel bad.

Since we aren't going very far on Thursday, I am bringing more elaborate things:
Roasted Veggies
Mashed Cauliflower 
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

I have to work in the morning on Friday and then have about a 3 hour car ride, so I am bringing one simple combination dish:
Stuffed Pumpkin (stuffed with stuffing, veggies, and tofu)

Check out my recipes from last year, they were all really good and not that complicated. 

I am very excited to share my lovely vegan dishes with my new family. 

**Speaking of family, the previously mentioned Penny and her sister Zoey are still part of mine. They are living with my parents in Oregon for the time being until we are more settled here. Like Lilo says, "Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind," so my kama'aina keiki will eventually become California girls.
A picture my mom sent me of my girls, I miss them so much!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cook! Product Reviews

I mentioned in my post about FoodBuzz Blogger Festival that I really enjoyed the products from Cook! at at the Taste Pavilion. I reached out about working with them and they sent me some samples.

Before I jump into the products, let me tell you a little more about the company. It was founded my Nona Lim in San Francisco, who was inspired to create convenient and healthy food from cooking Singaporean food with her father as a child. She began consulting with physicians and testing allergy-free recipes with the goal of producing clean and nutritious meals. This means no dairy, no gluten, no preservatives, no transfats, and no high fructose corn syrup. Only ingredients from local organic and sustainable farms.

Then in 2011 Nona started the Cook! Delicous Detox program. Cook! provided its clean and healthy pre-made meals to a few test clients for a week and the clients began to see health improvements right away.

Today Cook! offers various meal programs and retail products. The three meal plans are Detox, Maintain, and Customize. You can select the program that is best for you and your health goals. You can find their packaged retail products in stores around the Bay Area.  The meal plans can be shipped nationwide, but the retail products can only be shipped to the Bay Area at this time.

I am not now, nor have I even been on, the detox meal program, but I think it is a fantastic idea. I think delivery meal programs are a good idea for people who either do not know how cook or do not have the time. But most of them are full of chemicals and poor quality food, which seems counteractive. This program, however, actually provides healthy food.  I also like the detox aspect of it. You need to get all the bad stuff out of your body so the good stuff can get in and start healing you.


Now for the samples Cook! sent me. They arrived at my door step the next day, still frozen. This really impressed me, I have heard of other meal services arriving a week or more later. They come in individual packages that contain 1.5 servings each. You just pour out the contents and heat over the stove.

Thai Green Curry: I tried this one at the Taste Pavilion and it was so good I wanted to try it again. It a little creamy and very flavorful. It has a nice selection of veggies that are cooked perfectly.  I had this over rice for dinner one night after a long day and it totally hit the spot.

Tomato Soup: I have always thought that the "classic" canned tomato soup tasted nothing like tomatoes. But this soup was like biting into a sweet, vine-ripend tomato! It is perfectly seasoned too.  What I liked most is that it is not totally pureed. It still had a bit of texture, proving that it was made from fresh tomatoes. I went nicely with a piece of sourdough for lunch after a brisk bike ride.

Asian Lemongrass: I hate to say it, but I was not a fan of this soup. I love lemongrass, but I could not taste the it at all. It was actually kind of bland. However, the veggies and noodles were cooked perfectly. And I liked the big chunks of tofu. I think this has the potential to be a great veggie soup, just need some tweaking.

Thank you so much Cook!, I think this a terrific company with a mantra that the whole food industry should adopt! I hope we can work together again in the future.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Orange Waffles with Blackberry Sauce

I actually made this breakfast back on Halloween, but have not had the time to post it yet. Like I mentioned before, Michael loves waffles, and also loves the Giants. So to celebrate them winning the World Series, I made orange and black waffles.  Rather than use chemical food coloring or artificial flavoring, I decided to use fresh fruit. These came out so good that I am adding them to my regular breakfast rotation.

I used Bob's Red Mill Organic Pancake and Waffle mix,  but you can use any mix you like. Or you can  make them totally from scratch. This makes four waffles.

Orange Waffles with Blackberry Sauce

2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar 
1 cup fresh blackberry 
Juice from half an orange 
pinch of salt

1 and 1/2 cup waffle mix ( I used Bob's Red Mill Organic 7 gain Pancake and Waffle Mix)
1/2 cup apple sauce
3/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp oil
Juice from half an orange
Zest from one whole orange

For the sauce, in a small pot over medium,  add all the ingredients for the sauce together.

Bring to boil, the reduce heat to a simmer.

Let it cook down until it reaches desired consistency. I like mine a little on the runny side.

For the waffles, heat up your waffle iron according to the directions.

Mix together all the ingredients just until combined.

Pour the batter into the waffle iron and cooking according to the directions.

Once the waffles are done, drizzle on the blackberry sauce and enjoy!

A lovely hot waffles, loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Great way to start the morning and celebrate the Giants!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili

In celebration of the Giants making it to the World Series, I told Michael I would make him whatever he wanted to eat during the game. He eagerly requested I make a version of Wienerschnitzel's chili cheese dog and chili cheese fries. So I did some research on the web and found a copy cat recipe. I made a few small changes, and used soy protein crumbles instead of ground beef for mine. This recipe is proof that vegans don't just eat boring salads!

This make 4 servings of chili, enough for chili cheese fries and a chili dog for two people.

Copycat Wienerschnitzel Chili
1/2 of tube of Lightlife Gimme Lean Ground Beef Style
3 cups of water
1/8 cup corn starch
1/4 cup flour
1 tbs tomato paste
4 tbs chili powder
5 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbs white vinegar2

In a skillet over medium heat, crumble up and brown the ground beef.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, corn starch, flour, and tomato paste.

Add to the browned ground beef crumbles.

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the sauce is at desired thickness.

Put the chili on some fries and a hot dog---or anything else you want! And don't forget to add a little vegan cheese too.

This was soooo good. And WAY healthier than the real stuff.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bac'n Mac and Cheese

Guess what other American classic is actually vegan? McCorkmick's Bac'n Pieces! It is made from soy. Once again, it is a processed food and needs to be eaten in moderation. But it can provide that "meaty" flavor to your favorite dish on occasion. I decided to add them to my mac and cheese, along with some veggies.

I have posted a recipe for mac and cheese awhile ago that uses Daiya Cheese and nutritional yeast. This recipe only uses nutritional yeast because I was trying to cut down on calories and processed ingredients.

Bacon Bits Mac and Cheese
8 ounces macaroni 
1 small onion, minced
2 carrots, finely chopped
3 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups soy milk
1 tsp mustard
1 tbs soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbs of Bac'n Pieces 
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery in the 1/4 cup of butter. 

Once the veggies are soft, add the nutritional yeast. Mix together until it makes a lumpy paste. 

Now add the soy milk, mustard, and garlic. Whisk to get the lumps out. 

Add the cooked macaroni and the Bacon Bits.  Mix it all together and season to taste. 

Now you have bacon mac and cheese without all that cholesterol! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Saturday Nigh Gala

This was hands down the best part of the whole festival. We could purchase guest tickets for this event, so once again I brought my sweetheart. It was exciting to get dress-up up and have "adult time" as Michael phrased it.

After the Taste Pavilion, it was such a lovely day so we walked through the city for awhile. Then we changed and head to to the Sir Francis Drake a bit early to grab a drink. I had a very yummy cocktail called "Nothing Rhymes with Orange" and Michael of course had an Anchor Steam.

Then shuttles took us over to the California Academy of Sciences for the gala. We started in the lobby where they servred melon agua fresca and this ahi appetizers that Michael loved, and once again I will just take his word for it. Then we wandered through the museum, passed the sharks and rays, and down stairs to the aquarium.

Sorry it's so dark, best I could do!

There was an open bar and hors d'oeuvres. They had a special apricot martini that I could not get passed the first sip. I quickly switched to wine, Cupcake Vineyards to be exact. I started with a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Most of the passsed hors d'oeuvres were actually vegan! They had eggplant veggie crepes and veggie sushi rolls. Plus little tables with spreads, crackers, and nuts.

We mingled and stared at the fish. Michael even ran into an old friend and I ran into Kristianne (My San Francisco Kitchen) whom I had cocktails with the night before. She joined us for the rest of the night.

They ushered us back upstairs for a buffet dinner. We sat at a table with Danica from Danica's Daily and her husband, Blair from Slovenian Roots Quest and her husband, and Petra from Strawberry Pesto.

I was kinda disappoint that the only vegan options were salads. Michael laughed and said, "I thought all you eat is vegetables?" I am not going to complain too much since they were actually really good.

The first table had an avocado and grapefruit salad in a wine vinaigrette, and a yellow beat salad.

The second table had an fennel and escarole salad in a champagne dressing, and an arugula and endive salad in a sherry vinaigrette.

For dessert I switched to the Sparkling Presecco. Their vegan options were an apple pate and almond raspberry cake bites. Kristianne literally grabbed one of everything, it was pretty funny.

Afterwards we just took the shuttle back and drove home. We were exhausted, but had a lot of fun. I am looking forward to next year already!

Thank you again to Foodbuzz and all the sponsors!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: Taste Pavilion

The second day of the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival started with a scavenger hunt at the Farmers Market at the Ferry 8:30 in the morning....I was still sleeping at 8:30 in the morning. I showed up around 10:30 and did not feel like doing the scavenger by myself. I did explore the vendor booths and use the $6 worth of tokens FoodBuzz gave me for a yummy spicy raw lettuce wrap from Alive!'s booth. I sat and ate with a lovely view of the foggy Bay Bridge.

Messy but the gulls were happy to help.
Afterwards I slowly walked through the city to the Metreon for the Taste Pavilion. We could bring a guest to this event for free, so of course I invited my sweetheart. Michael was happy to help me sample local food and drinks. His favorite was the steak from grass-fed beef, which I will just take his word for it since beef might be the farthest thing from vegan. 

I am going to discuss my three  favorite vendors:

Locally grown organic vegan snacks! And they are made from dehydrated veggies! The founder Justin was excited when he saw the name of my blog and told me all about the awesome organic produce they use. I love kale chips, and their Chessy Kale Chips really wowed me. The "cheese" is actually sunflower seeds and soy-free miso. The Seasoned Zucchini Sticks would be great to munch on and wash down with a beer during a game. 

Aloha, my braddah! Liko was inspired to start an organic handmade ice pop company from his memories of making ice pops with his Tutu (Hawaiian for Grandma). Michael and I were not only happy to talk story with him, but more than happy to sample all of his delicious frozen treats. Michael liked the Yellow Watermelon Mint. I loved the Passionfruit Coconut, it reminded me of this shave ice I got almost everyday when I met my parents in Maui last summer. 

Oh my, the Thai Green Curry might be the best I have ever had---and if you have read this blog before you know my love for Thai curry. Cook! is a gluten-free and dairy-free meal service for California, but they also have packaged retail products for sale. Michael loved the Zucchini Soup. I hope their products make their way to San Jose soon!

See my other blog, Drink Vegan Beer, for my review of Bison Brewing Company.