Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Girl Worth Fighting For

I'm jumping ahead to the new era of Disney animation, that began with The Little Mermaid in the 1980's.  Disney animation was totally revitalized at this time, with the introduction of great musical numbers and comedic styling that really helped invigorate the brand. And of course, you got the whole "Disney Princess" thing.

Mulan is almost an anti-Princess Disney heroine.  She goes off to war against the Huns to defend her country and her family's honor.  Lots of cross dressing. Donny Osmond and Eddie Murphy!  Action! Explosions!  Avalanches!  Woot!
Hey, baby.  How you doin'?
And then, there's food.  Well, not a whole lot in the movie.  But it's China - and goodness knows, Chinese food is one of my family's favorites!
Eat up, girl!
Today's recipe in honor of Mulan is for my family's favorite homemade Egg Rolls.  Enjoy!


1 package vegan egg roll or spring roll wrappers
4 chicken-style seitan cutlets
Steamed white rice
Peanut oil
Vegetable broth
Agave nectar or maple syrup
Soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Optional:  sliced & diced veggies like carrot, onion, celery, mushroom, etc.
Oil for frying

Cut the seitan into bite sized pieces.  Heat a couple tablespoons of peanut oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Sauté the vegetables until softened.  Add in the seitan and continue cooking until slightly browned.  Stir in a little stock and continue cooking.  Add salt, pepper, and agave or maple syrup (a couple tablespoons or so) to pan and continue cooking.  You can also add some soy sauce at this point if desired.  Add enough broth to the pan to not quite cover the filling.  Add about two cups of steamed rice to the pan and stir well.  Add more broth if necessary so that the whole mixture is kind of juicy.  In a small bowl, combine a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with about a quarter cup of cold water.  Pour into seitan mixture and stir well; the mixture should thicken up pretty quickly.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Set up a station to prepare the eggrolls:  You will need a small bowl of cornstarch/water mixture, the eggroll wrappers, the filling, and a tray for the finished rolls.  Set a wrapper on the surface in front of you with one corner pointing towards you.  Put about a half cup of filling in the center of the wrapper.  Using a spoon or your fingers, lightly brush some of the cornstarch/water mixture around the edges of the wrapper.  Bring the top corner (farthest away from you) over the top of the filling and lightly press the point down.  Fold the sides in next.  You can add more cornstarch/water to the wrapper where needed to get it to stick to itself.  Then roll the whole eggroll towards you.  If you shape the roll with your hands as you go, you should end up with a long, rectangular/oval shape.  Set the finished eggroll on the tray and continue making eggrolls until you use up all the filling.  When you put the eggrolls on the tray, make sure they don’t touch or they will stick together.  You may also want to turn them over occasionally so they don’t stick to the pan.

In a large stockpot, wok or Dutch oven, heat an inch or two of vegetable oil over medium/medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, gently lower about three or four eggrolls into the oil.  Cook until golden brown and bubbly (a couple minutes or so per side), turning once.  Drain on a paper towel lined platter.  Serve while hot.

I don't know about you, but I can't find vegan egg roll wrappers here.  Spring roll wraps work fine!
Seitan added to sauteed veggies
Rice, veggies, and seitan, thickened with cornstarch slurry
Oh yeah.  Fried goodness!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Nobody's going to peach on ya!

We're still working on some live-action Disney favorites, and today's film is Bedknobs and BroomsticksSo many good things about this movie - the credits are done in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry! Magical suits of armor beating up Nazis! Wiggly rabbit noses! Smart-assed British children! Spells!  Motorcycles with sidecars! Witches! yeah!

Charlie, Carrie and Paul go to live with Miss Price in the countryside to escape WWII in London.  Turns out Miss Price is a witch!  And she needs the final spell in the course she's taking to help Britain win the war.  The group flies off to London to find Mr. Brown, the course director.  Of course it turns out that he doesn't have the final spell, so the group is forced to fly into an children's book to look for the words to the spell.  Mr. Brown is forced to referee a crazy football game between two teams of animals.  Hilarity ensues!  Paul finally tells everyone that the words to the spell have been in the book all the time.  Miss Price learns the spell, and saves England from invading Nazis by animating suits of armor and her nightgown to fight them off.  Ta da!

This movie actually has some really great songs in it.  I had a 45 when I was kid with a couple of the songs on it, and we'd play it over and over, singing along and marching around the basement. Good times.
Cheeky dancing nightgowns!

My favorite character is Charlie - he's such an obnoxious smartass.  He reminds me of my kids.  Ha!  When the kids first arrive at Miss Price's, she asks them what they like to eat, and Charlie goes through his list - "Oh, you know... bangers and mash, toad in the hole... the usual."  This is the primary reference that made me always want to try Toad in the Hole. 
No fried foods?  How do you keep your health?
Toad in the Hole

Okay, so this is another "not really a recipe" and more of a method.  First, either make a batch of your favorite vegan sausages or buy some from the store.  I made a batch of Isa's Steamy Beany Sausages from Isa Does It!
Now, I prefer to slice them up and lightly pan fry them in a little vegetable oil til just browned.  Then dump the fried sausage slices in a lightly oiled casserole dish.  Traditionalists will want to keep their sausages whole.  You can throw them in an oiled casserole dish into the oven while you mix up the batter.  Heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

For the batter, I perused a bunch of vegan Toad in the Hole recipes online and made-do with what I had.  Here's one.  I did not have any self-rising flour, and I think next time I would make an effort to obtain some.  I thought my dough turned out to be a little too dense.  I used a little baking powder and baking soda, add some turmeric for color (and used too much!), and a pinch of black salt for egginess.  Not bad overall!

Pour the batter over your sausages and bake for about 20-25 minutes until puffed and lightly browned.  Serve with gravy, mash, and possibly a green vegetable.  Or not!  Then go save England, for goodness sake!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Someone's been in the catnip again

Well, I guess I could just keep apologizing for not posting, or I could just get on with it and post when I can.  September has just turned out to be WAY busier than I thought.  Mea maxima culpa.

Mandatory apologies out of the way,  let's move onto to today's film:  The Three Lives of Thomasina.  I'm guessing this little gem of a movie is overlooked by more folks than not, but if you're an animal lover (and I'm assuming you are since it's Vegan MoFo!), get thee to the library or Amazon, stat!

Yup, it's the kid from Mary Poppins!  And her Mary Poppins brother is in this as well!
Mary McDhui (pronounced "McDewey") owns the most wonderful cat in the world: Thomasina.  Her grumpy old father is the town's new modern veterinarian, and he is a BUTT.  He wanted to be a people doctor, but his father made him follow the family business of veterinary practice.  He has no sympathy for people's pets, and has them put to sleep with no concern for hurt feelings or sadness.  UNTIL.... dun dun DUN.... Thomasina is hurt, and he tells Mary he'll have to put her to sleep as well.  Well, Mary and the other kids have a funeral for Thomasina, who it turns out, of course, is not REALLY dead.  There's a totally bizarre Cat Heaven scene involving lots of Siamese cats.  Anyways, Thomasina is saved by the Village Witch!  Huzzah! But Thomasina has no memory of her previous life with Mary and mean old Mr. McDhui.  But she feels like something is missing.  Meanwhile, Mary has a complete breakdown and tells everyone her father is dead, too.  Finally, during a big lightning storm, Thomasina recovers her memory and goes back to Mary, who is very ill but snaps out of it upon Thomasina's return.  Mr. McDhui and the Village Witch get married and everyone lives happily after.  The End!
Mean old Mr. McDhui tells Geordie he can't save his frog.

This is actually a great film for today for another reason:  it takes place in Scotland, and it's the Vote On Scottish Independence today!  Woot!  Go Scotland!  Whatever you do, I'm behind you 100%.

To celebrate our film and Scotland, I offer a method for Pumped Up Jammy Nut Shortbread Bars.  Enjoy!
Damn that's a crappy picture!
Jammy Nut Shortbread Bars

First, make a recipe of shortbread.  I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (VCIYCJ).  It's pretty awesome:

Bake the shortbread bars for about 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees F, until just barely browned at the edges.  Now spread it with a layer of about 1/2 cup of Your Favorite Jam.  Mine happened to be homemade Strawberry Lemon Marmelade, but Raspberry Jam is excellent too.  Or whatever!

Now whomp up (that's the technical terminology, really) a layer of nutty-caramel-y topping.  I used the topping recipe from the Pecan Caramel Bars in VCIYCJ.  Pour it over the jam.  Throw it all back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes, until the topping is really bubbling and hopefully thickened a little.
ready to go in the oven!
The  inspiration for this recipe came from this book:

I had fond memories of making these bars in the past.  My recommendations after veganizing this would be:  consider lining the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, because these things are SUPER STICKY.  Also, I kept mine in the fridge to keep the caramel set, but then they were really hard to cut.  So, you might want to cut them up before keeping stored in the fridge.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Got a whale of a tale to tell ya, lads!

Hello, blog.  Did you miss me?  I'm sorry.  I've brought you something special to make up for my absence:  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea!

Giant Squid!  Attack!  Yaaaaaahhhh!

This is such a great movie.  First of all, it stars James Mason as Captain Nemo, Kirk Douglas as Ned the Sailor, and Peter Lorre as the Strange Sidekick. Captain Nemo is a classic misanthrope, and does not care the tiniest bit what happens to his fellow men.  In fact, he enjoys ramming his submarine, the Nautilus, into passing ships.  The Professor (played by Paul Lukas), Ned and the Strange Sidekick end up on the Nautilus after Nemo attacks their ship.  This turns into a great opportunity for Walt Disney to insert yet another educational sequence about the vast potential of the world's oceans to support mankind.  We see a poor sea turtle being led off by Nemo's men.  Thankfully, a gigantic squid attacks and messes with everyone's heads.  The good guys manage to get off the sub as it sinks with Nemo and his crew aboard.  Whew! 

There's a great scene in this movie where the main characters are dining on the Nautilus, and Nemo tells everyone that they are eating stuff like, "saute of unborn octopus."  HURL.  Seriously dude? 
Don't you have anything VEGAN to eat, Captain Nemo?
Here's my recipe inspired by today's film.  I hope you enjoy it much more than saute of unborn octopus.


Make your favorite recipe for a double-crust pie (I used Isa & Terry's butter crust recipe, sans sugar, from Vegan Pie in the Sky)

For the filling, blend the following together until smooth:
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp mild white miso
pinch of turmeric
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 package (6 oz) extra firm silken tofu (you can use regular tofu if you want; I had this leftover from making a batch of seitan earlier today)

Set aside. Now saute one diced yellow onion in a tablespoon of Earth Balance over medium heat until translucent.  Add about 8 oz of sliced mushrooms and continue to saute another five minutes or so.  Add about 2/3 cup frozen artichoke hearts (I used a couple of handfuls from a bag from Trader Joe's) and continue cooking until the artichoke hearts are soft.  You can cut them in half if you want.  Now add a bag of baby spinach (about 10 oz).  Cook until the spinach is good and wilted.  Now add about 2 cloves of minced garlic, some salt and pepper, and some oregano and thyme.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the tofu/cashew blended mixture.

Now, roll out the bottom pie crust and put in a pie dish.  Put in the filling and spread evenly.  Now top with the other crust and seal the edges.  Cut out everything that does not look like a giant squid from the top crust and discard. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for about 40-45 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is set.  Enjoy!

Mushrooms, artichokes, and spinach are just natural friends.
Ready to mix.
My brother got me this great board for rolling pies.  It has printed circles on it and a ruler to show you how big things are. 

Looks like vegan squid guts to me!
Top crust in place
Tentacle Pie!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Well, it's week 2 of MoFo, and I'm already slacking.  To celebrate my slackerness, I'm gonna take a hint from Baloo in The Jungle Book and just go with the bare necessities. And bananas.

Baked Bananas

Grease a small casserole dish with some Earth Balance.  Now cut up some nice and squishy brown bananas into slices (about 3-4) and unceremoniously dump into the dish.  Dot with a little more Earth Balance for good measure.  Oh, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Three little bananas, jumping on the bed... got sliced up and put in a dish!
Now, get a medium bowl and mix together about 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.  Stir.  Add about 3 T. coconut oil or Earth Balance and squish it up with your fingers.  Unceremoniously dump the topping onto your bananas. Sprinkle on some chocolate chips for good measure. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until you can't stand it anymore.  Eat and float on down the river...


Monday, September 8, 2014

Coconut bombs away!

Today we're going to make our way into new territory: the live action Disney film.  I'm going to start with one of my all-time favorites - The Swiss Family Robinson.  Let's get down to it:  BEST. TREEHOUSE. EVER.  I mean, seriously, who doesn't want to live in a treehouse?  With a skylight over your bed? And vines you can swing on and natural waterslides and hats made out of palm fronds and all that stuff rescued from the shipwreck?  Yeah, baby!

Obligatory cast photo.  Why does Janet Munro look so unhappy?
Giant Treehouse!  YES!
 So, what would the Swiss Family Robinson eat, you ask?  Well, obviously lots of plants, nuts, berries, seeds, and COCONUTS!! Today's recipe seems like the sort of thing that those resourceful Robinsons could whip up with no problem:  Red Curry Tofu.  I hope you enjoy it!

Red Curry Tofu

2 T. peanut oil
1 onion, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. minced fresh ginger
1 heaping tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 can coconut milk
2 cups veggie broth
1 tsp. sriracha chili sauce
1 T. brown sugar
16 oz. extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, cubed and lightly pan fried
1 – 8 oz. can sliced bamboo shoots, cut into long thin strips
1 lime, cut in half
2-3 green onions, chopped
Cooked long-grain rice

Sauté onion in peanut oil in large saucepan or wok over medium-high heat.  When onion begins to soften and turn translucent, add ginger and garlic.  Cook about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add red curry paste and continuing sautéing for another minute or two.  Slowly add coconut milk to wok, stirring constantly.  Add broth and stir.  Stir in sriracha and brown sugar.  Add tofu and bamboo shoots.  Squeeze juice from lime halves into broth mixture.  Stir.  Bring mixture to boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Serve over cooked rice, with green onions sprinkled on top. 

And for dessert, I think the Robinsons would be just as happy to chow down on some coconutty Nanaimo Bars from Sarah Kramer.