Category Archives: Books

Cooking Through the Candle 79 Cookbook

Nori and Sesame Crusted Seitan

For our one week anniversary, I made our first full meal from our Candle 79 cookbook: Nori- and Sesame-Crusted Seitan, Ginger-Seitan Dumplings, Jasmine Rice, Gingered Sugar Snap Peas, and Edamame-Mint Sauce. Well sorta…

Edamame-Mint Sauce

I made the edamame-mint sauce exactly as the recipe stated and to my surprise I loved it. I wasn’t sure how the mint was really going to fit in with an Asian meal, but it had a delicious kick, thanks to a jalapeno, and the mint was very noticeable, but not overwhelming. I made this sauce the night before when I started marinating the seitan. Both took about a half an hour.

Marinating seitan. Looks a bit like strips of pork or chicken. I didn’t use their recipe to make seitan because I’ve only had it once before, and I figured I should use the store-bought for the first time cooking with it. I bought 1.5lbs of Westsoy Seitan strips, and used 1lb here and 1/2 lb in the “dumplings”.

Ginger-Seitan Spring Rolls

I made a few modifications. The biggest being making the dumplings into spring rolls. I couldn’t find vegan wonton wrappers anywhere. I used to get these one empanada dough disks, but I couldn’t even find them this time, so I used the spring roll wrappers that I already had and lightly fried them, as I would’ve done the dumplings. I also really wanted to make the ginger sauce that is supposed to accompany them, but I was trying to do too many things at once and ended up just using some plain old soy sauce.

Nori Crusted Seitan

Pan frying the seitan. I was afraid it wasn’t going to come out as light and crispy as the picture on the cover, mainly because the picture is beautiful and there’s no way I could make something that perfect. Well, it didn’t come out looking exactly the same, but it did fry up very nicely.

Another modification…while I was at the grocery store, all the sugar snap peas looked funky. They were local, but they all looked bad, or near bad, so I went to another store, and couldn’t remember if I had said “ah the heck with it” and bought the funky looking ones or not. I thought I did…but alas, I did not. So I ended up using an Asian medley frozen bag of vegetables. I steamed them like I would’ve done the snap peas, and then cooked the way the recipe said. They weren’t *that* special, but I did really like the added ginger. It added a really mild flavor that made the veggies better than plain veggies. Not a huge secret, but I think I’ll be steaming them, and then pan frying them with ginger from now on.

I made this Saturday night, and I left the sauce on the side. I wasn’t sure if the mr. was going to like it or not since it was kind of weird (but good). He liked it, but I think putting it on the side instead of plating it in the directions was the safe way to go. Instead of making the soba noodles, there was also the option of jasmine rice. I went with the ginger jasmine rice and it was really, really good. The mr. doesn’t care for ginger very much, and he said he liked the rice (him saying he actually likes anything is very rare). It wasn’t complicated, it was actually incredibly easy, and I think it was the most delicious rice I’ve ever made.

Spring Rolls...not hagis

Ginger-seitan spring rolls. When I presented these questionable looking spring rolls, the dude asked if they were hagis. We looked up the ingredients and pictures, and while they might look the same, they are in no way related to hagis. The ground up seitan filling almost had a pork or sausage taste to them, and they were awesome.

We had the leftovers the following night, and I put the mint-edamame sauce down first and I immediately realized I should’ve done it in the first place. It made the rice that much tastier, and it was less awkward than pouring or dipping the seitan in it.

I spent about a half an hour on Friday night prepping the seitan and the sauce, and then an hour on Saturday actually cooking everything. I feel like it took me longer than it would a normal person with a normal amount of counter space. Overall, besides the marinating and the blending the sauce and spring roll filling, the recipe was really, really simple.

I spent about $30 at the grocery store buying things special for this recipe. Mind you, I already had the spring roll wrappers, veggies, rice, and even the nori sheets (since we like to make sushi). I bought 3 packs of seitan strips, fresh ginger, sesame seeds, edamame, a fresh mint plant, parsley (I’d normally have, but was out), chives, and tamari. Also, we got 5 large servings out of this…at least. I halved the wonton recipe, and made the others as directed.

I was really happy with how the setain came out. I only had it once from a Chinese restaurant and it had good flavor, but it was really chewy and weird. I really liked it ground up, and the crusted pieces weren’t at all chewy. Now that I’m more familiar with the texture, I’ll give making it from the cookbook’s recipe a try. Especially at $4.99 for 8 oz, it’s not the cheapest meat replacer.

Next weekend we’re probably having Avocado Salsa, Tortilla Soup, Stuffed Poblano Peppers, Sauteed Swiss Chard, and Mexican Chocolate Cake.

Shopping and Pho…A Weekend in Pictures

When we bought our house, I found out the hard way that we were seriously downgrading grocery stores. Our last Giant had a great (and expanding) organic section, and even a beer garden. Apparently this Giant got rid of their organic section a while ago and integrated the products throughout the rest of the store. They have almond milk, but absolutely no other non dairy products…which makes me super sad. It’s not a huge deal, I head to a Giant in a neighboring town, but it’s not as convenient as before.

Well, Friday afternoon I decided for dinner to make some pho and was going to finally try to make spring rolls. I looked up recipes and even watched a how to video. I went to our Giant to get the stuff and got everything until I went to the Asian section and this Giant didn’t have spring roll wrappers like the other one…I should’ve known!

So I settled with frozen spring rolls, which weren’t as good, but they were easier.

 saladDinner salad  food

Faux pho, tofu, and frozen spring rolls.

Friday I got a few things to help with our hard water sitch. I’ve been wanting to try e.l.f. brand for a while because it’s a vegan brand and it’s not tested on animals…and it’s also a steal price-wise.

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Malibu C Hard Water Wellness shampoo and conditioner, and a weekly treatment. Yes to Carrots face wipes, and e.l.f. zit zapper ($1!!).candle

I got a pumpkin nutmeg soy candle and it rocks.

weekendI was out of mascara, so the main reason we went to Target was to get e.l.f. mascara ($3). I need a dress for an occasion in October, so I checked out Banana Republic, Loft, Ann Taylor, Loft, and White House Black Market this weekend. I absolutely loved the grey top from Loft, but at $39.99, I really didn’t need it.

In other news, I downed half a container of chili garlic sauce this weekend, and had oatmeal with frozen peaches, pomegranate, and raspberries for breakfast on Sunday.

dress2

These were all of the dresses I tried on…I did settle on one…any guesses?

book

I finally finished this book, Life’s That Way by Jim Beaver. I read half of the book in a weekend about a month ago, then another 3/4ths of it, and I think I was saving the last little bit because I didn’t want it to be over. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it.

I think I want to make some kind of art out of a few pages of the book, maybe something like this and this. I think I want to take four pages and stick them in white frames in the hallway, but I’m not positive yet.

Did you do anything exciting this weekend?

Review: Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook

 

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I love libraries so much. I love testing out books (and dvds) and then buying the ones I love. I have a horrible habit of buying books and reading them once (or only reading half of them), or having buyers remorse when I can’t get into them. It’s taken me almost 2 years of living here before I actually went to the local library (I’ve been getting digital books for a while now), and now I’m there a few times a week.

I was browsing the cookbooks the other day and stumbled upon Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook: Crazy Delicious Recipes that Are Good to the Earth and Great for Your Bod. I’ve heard of the Skinny Bitch franchise, but the profanity kind of turned me off, not because I’m offended by it, but it seemed like it was trying too hard to be “cool”. I know, I’m judging a book by it’s cover.

I paged through the book, and it was between SB or The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude, and this one won me over. What I loved about SB is that the recipes are simple and don’t require crazy expensive ingredients. I skimmed the into part of the book since I didn’t really need any convincing the a whole foods vegan diet is optimal.

So far I’ve made:

Pumpkin Pecan Banana Bread

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I doubled the recipe, since I had double the pumpkin and didn’t want to toss the rest.DSC_0765cr

Bread…and muffins, and mini muffins, and donuts.DSC_0769cr

I left out the pecans because we didn’t have any.

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Did I mention donuts…

Spicy Vegetable Curry

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Could have been a tiny bit spicier, but the flavor was great.

Breakfast Bake

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Came out good. I used Daiya mozzarella instead of cheddar because it’s what I had. Probably would’ve been good without it too.

Asian Macaroni and Cheese

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I love the cauliflower in here and how simple the “cheesy” sauce was.
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I didn’t taste the Asian flavors, but it was a great mac ‘n cheese, and I was never a huge mac ‘n cheese fan to begin with.

Coconut Banana French Toast

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This was so good! It wasn’t crispy, but the inside was like a banana custard, it didn’t need any syrup (agave in our house).DSC_0806cr

I over indulged with this one and ate WAY too much.

What I like:

  • Simple recipes. The only new thing I purchased was White Miso Paste, and I used it in multiple recipes.
  • Food tastes good.
  • Hearty recipes.
  • Healthy, without seeming like “health food”.

 

Not my favorite:

  • Some recipes have a lot of sugar. They recommend using sugars other than regular white processed sugar, but sugar is still sugar and I try to avoid it.
  • Also, some recipes are high in fat. I’m not afraid of healthy fats, but I was a little ashamed of the amount of oil in the Pumpkin Bread…especially because it was so good, I ate WAY more than 1 or 2 servings.
  • The servings seem a little off, even for me. I don’t eat huge portions, but I doubled most of the things I made, just so I’d be sure I had enough for all of us.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic cookbook. It focuses on whole, healthy recipes that are simple and hearty. It’s a vegan cookbook without making you think you’re missing something or that you have to buy weird fake ingredients.