• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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    February 2020
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Quick update: No longer vegetarian but still cooking!

It’s been a long time since I’ve used this blog. I’ve moved from Virginia to California. I’ve gone from vegetarian to omnivore. I no longer have a big yard for herbs and vegetables. However, I still love to cook!

I’m going to start updating this blog to reflect the new location and new noms.

Produce vs Meat at the cash register

I made up my menu last week and went shopping for it. I balked at paying over $2 for a bunch of collards. They were beautiful though but still were over $2! My mom and I were chatting about how expensive food is and she said that she leaves with one bag of food and it’s over $50. I barely get to $50 and if I do then it’s usually because I’m stocking up or doing a whole bunch of different cooking — like all this vegan baking I did this weekend. So, why do I think it’s so expensive?

I guess I forgot that meat bargains are $3+ a pound and that includes — perhaps — bones and fat which weights more than a couple of stems.

The Deal Sale/lb Normally/lb Where
Half Boneless Pork Loin 2.27 3.99 Food Lion
Holly Farms Whole Fryers .89 1.19 Food Lion
Food Lion Frozen Vegetables 1.00 (32 ounce bag) 1.20 Food Lion
Yellow Onions .83 (3 lb bag) .99 Food Lion
Carrots .69 (2 lb bag) .84 Food Lion

So, the vegetables are cheaper, but who can have a meal of just carrots? Not me. But there were many a night where I had just a meal of chicken. Well, it’s true.

Greens are in season right now. I’m surprised I don’t see any on sale.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s that time of year! Not only are potlucks a plenty, but so is what fills up our jeans. How to balance out trying new recipes but to make sure we don’t need to buy new clothes to fit? I look around to see what are the tried and true recipes so that hopefully I don’t have to tweak (taste) too much.

I haven’t had a vegan chocolate chip cookie since my birthday and it was premade. It wasn’t quite like the cookie I was raised on — Toll House. I found about five different chocolate chip recipes but ended up going with this one because it read very similar to that Toll House recipe found on the bag of chips.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies-Like They Should Be

by tinymuffinflower
Serves: 3 dozen, Preparation time: 10 minutes

  • 3/4 cup raw sugar (Sugar in the Raw Turbinado)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (Trader Joe’s Organic)
  • 1 cup vegan margarine (Earth Balance Original)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup and 1 teaspoon applesauce (Walmart brand unsweetened)
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (Kosher)
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s)

Heat oven to 370 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat sugars, margarine, vanilla, and applesauce together in a large bowl.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.  (Dough will be somewhat stiff). Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.  Used 2 spoons to help keep the dough from touching my fingers and to keep it easy to plop. Bake for 10-15 minutes (Check at 10… they firm up with cooling.), or until light brown. Cool.

The verdict?

Excellent! Very rich! I couldn’t tell it was veganized. I’ll test it out on my mom this weekend.

I cooked them on parchment paper and moved the parchment paper and cookies to a cooling rack after taking from the oven.

Remember that Toll House cookie recipe I was raised on? Well, Mom would substitute Butter flavored Crisco for the butter so really keep the softness of the cookie. When I would use butter, it would spread and be crispier. I prefer the soft type. This was that even when taken fresh from the fridge.

I followed exactly as written and took them out at 10 minutes. They hardened a little with cooling. The color is darker than the usual non-vegan version but that’s probably because the raw sugar is dark. And there’s a gritty sugary texture because of the turbinado. But the second batch weren’t as gritty — because the dough sat in the fridge? Also, it’s crispier on the edges. I’m guessing the crispier on the edges because of Earth Balance. I’d like to try with a finer vegan white sugar but it seems turbinado is good for holding moisture so I’ll probably stick to what worked. I’ve seen so many crumbly vegan cookies, y’know.

Served with almond milk, the only non-dairy milk that I’ve found I can drink straight.

Cookbook Challenge: BBQ Black-eyed Pea-Collard Rolls

2009 Cookbook Challenge: Cook a new recipe at least once a month from one of my currently owned cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection “earns” me $5.

Recipe 5: BBQ Black-eyed Pea-Collard Rolls from Veganomicon (Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero)

2009 Cookbook Challenge Total: $25

BBQ Black-eyed pea-collard rolls

It was like this:

So I made this:
BBQ Black-eyed pea-collard rolls

Yep, our first snow of the year! I got to see some snow a month ago when I went up to Chincoteague, though. Since we had a snow day, I used the time to use up the random collards and mushrooms that I had in the fridge. I guess I knew in advance that I would have a random snow day and that I would want to spend a lot of time getting the stove messy.

The recipe is available here on Google books. These were a lot of work, I think, considering. It tasted good and there are plenty rolls and barbecue sauce in the fridge for later. If they heat up well, then I could see doing this again to make them ahead. They make a lovely presentation, at least.

I made the black-eyed peas from a bag in the pantry. I figure I’ll freeze the extra. Or maybe grab another bunch of collard greens and have just the innards of this as a delicious side!

Other Cookbook Challenge entries »

Cookbook Challenge: Tofu Scramble

2009 Cookbook Challenge: Cook a new recipe at least once a month from one of my currently owned cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection “earns” me $5.

Recipe 4: Tofu Scramble from Yellow Rose Recipes (Joanna Vaught)

2009 Cookbook Challenge Total: $20

Tofu Scramble

I made a tofu scramble for the first time last week and, to my surprise, really enjoyed it. I think most of the vegan cookbooks have a recipe for a tofu scramble and I don’t mind giving them a try — now.

I made this in my cast iron pan and thought it went well. Yes, learning still how to cook in cast iron but cleanup was easy with a little salt. I think, though, that I prefer the texture of the other tofu scramble that was crumbled into the pan. Vaught’s (photo above) version called for cubing the tofu, sauteing it for a few minutes, and adding a spice mixture later. There’s not a nutritional yeast flake in sight.

Also, I learned something with the seeding of the tomato before putting it in. Great idea!

I like the options she has listed like Pesto, Savory Mustard,  Greek, and Mexican. Now that I have this jar of this spice mixture, I guess I will have to make more tofu scramble. OK! Fine by me!

I served this with a couple slices of toasted wheat bread (no honey in ingredients… checked) and Earth Balance spread on top. Not necessarily a diet meal, but I was surprised when I learned that this was fewer calories than the 2 scrambled eggs in butter I was eating on weekends.

Not vegan yet, but at least I think I have finally found a replacement for scrambled eggs! Didn’t miss them either time I did a tofu scramble like I thought I would.

Other Cookbook Challenge entries »



I had this aloo gobi, right? So I thought, “What about some Indian bread to go with it?” I saw this and thought I could make that with what I have on hand! And, Manjula made it look so easy. I can’t wait to try more of her recipes!

I used the new cast iron skillet and used a little canola oil on it. The oil smoked at that high heat (medium-high). The first one was puffing some and I did the turn around thing she did. It didn’t puff as much as hers though but I think it was because I was scared to push on the bubbles. I’ll push on them next time like she says to. I didn’t use ghee. Oh, and I used plain white flour because the whole wheat decided to expire on me.

Now, I wasn’t sure how to “serve” it so kinda used it like a tortilla a little bit. I pushed some aloo gobi on it, folded the sides a little and ate the end of the taco. Oh man, was that good! I didn’t miss the ghee at all.

Out and about town: Restaurants

I’ve been lacto-ovo vegetarian, this time, for a few months now.  Four month anniversary is coming up in a few days: February 23.

I don’t know instantly what to get at various restaurants but know that some are more full of choices than others. I also did some traveling lately and found that it was a challenge. If I go vegan, it’ll be more so at some places without proper planning.

Bibimbap without meat. Korean. Dining companion suggested I ask the waitress for help. Glad I did. This was amazing. I added some of the red hot sauce that was on the table after the waitress told me that I’m to stir it around. Ooops! Amazing. I’ve already started looking up how to do this at home! Kyung Sung Restaurant, Newport News, VA

Paneer and Chickpea
Kadai Paneer without bell pepper (left) and Chickpea something (right). Indian. The photo of the second page of vegetarian items was too blurry to read so I don’t know what the chickpea thing was. The Kadai was the winner. Found this place cause Mom gave me a coupon. So glad I did. Nothing against the local favorite Nawab but this was so good. They also have a different regional concentration each Sunday brunch for $10. Agni Indian Restaurant. Newport News, VA

Create Bistro Salads
Salads. American/French. Top is “Boston Bibb Lettuces / Shaved Pears / Dehydrated Tomatoes / Sesame Cashews / Carrots / Black Pepper Vanilla Vinaigrette” and the bottom is “Fresh Fall Salad of Baby Arugula / Strawberries & Blueberries / Pomegranate Vinaigrette / Pistachios / Fried Boursin Cheese.” We had some other appetizers. Basically, we made dinner out of appetizers and salads. Here’s the menu. It was very tasty. It’s an adorable little place and since everything’s so fresh, I’m sure I could get something vegan. Create Bistro. Newport News, VA

Dill dip stuff and Kale salad
We got Menu #3 during a local “Restaurant Week” here. The above is a kale salad and a spinach pastry. As appetizer, I got the hummus. Second was spinach and cheese pastry (above). Next was Anatolian Vegetarian Plate (I think this is a picture of it… forgot already but I didn’t finish this plate, I remember that). Next was Chocolate Mousse Torte. I couldn’t finish the torte. What stood out to me — other than all the vegan selections — was this kale salad. Oh. My. Gosh. Who knew! It’s definitely on my list of things to try at home. Pasha Mezze. Norfolk, VA

General Tso's Bean Curd
General Tso’s Bean Curd. “Chinese.” Most of us know that if we go to a place that serves tofu (or some other meat replacement) we can usually get a simple substitution. Did that here. It was good. Little sweet but good. Great Wall. Chincoteague, VA

Mr. Baldy's Veggie Burger
Veggie Burger. American. The bread was stale. Place was cute. They offered a grilled vegetable sub and a veggie burger. So, had to try it. Very reasonably priced. Mr. Baldy’s. Chincoteague, VA

Greek Salad
Greek Salad. American/Greek. Oh my gosh! This salad was off the chain. It came with dolma! Seriously, this was amazing. I only wish the restaurant I go to for Toastmasters would have this as its Greek salad. So good. The dolma tasted much better than The Castle’s (in Newport News, VA) dolma. Other vegetarian options were pizza and pasta and such. They used tomato sauce so I had a wide option. The place I go to for Toastmasters uses meat sauce for pastas. Maria’s Family Restaurant. Newport News, VA

Bean Curd Szechuan style. Chinese. I was hungry and in between big places (if you count Chincoteague as a big place) so thought that this would be a good lunch stop. Here’s the menu. See the funny? Yeah. A few of the “vegetable” dishes come with meat! Thank goodness they had descriptions. I usually order from that section with no worries. But this Vg 6 was awesome without ground pork. China Chefs Restaurant. Eastern shore, VA

And those are a few highlights of my restaurant travels! Eating out can be done lacto-ovo and be satisfying — though I’m still working on finding something at Angelo’s where Toastmasters meets — and with some planning/imagination, there are vegan options. Here’s to another 4 months (and many more)!