Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I want to be Catwoman

I soooooooo love this look!

It's never occurred to me to ask whether or not my makeup is vegan. Cruelty-free yes, but vegan? Nah...

Lo and behold! Urban Decay has always been one of my favorites and they have an entire line of vegan products. Look for Marley's seal of approval: the purple paw. (how cute is that?) They even have a printable shopping list on their website.

Excuses = gone.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Things I Covet: Vaute Couture coats

Gorgeous vegan winter coats that are warm enough for a Chicago winter and cute enough to wear in public?

Love. Love. LOVE.

From Vaute Couture:

Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart is Founder of Vaute Couture, the first and only winter coat line on the market that is at once warm enough for a Chicago winter, chic, and completely conscientious (vegan, eco, and ethically produced.) 

She spent a year developing the line, and after 8 months of fabric research for a vegan alternative to wool that was slim & pretty but ready for a Chicago winter, ended up with a brand new technology fabric that is wind/snow resistant, designed to retain heat, and completely recyclable and vegan, lined in a windproof 100% recycled closed loop zero waste ripstop.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sassy & Spicy Lentil Soup

Here's a nice hearty soup to warm up a winter night.

It's so fragrant and flavorful that the Bear didn't even notice he was eating nothing but beans and veggies...
but he did scrape his bowl (and mine) clean.


This recipe comes courtesy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef - thanks Shauna & Danny!


1 cup lentils
8 cups cold water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8oz canned tomatoes with juice

Finely-diced veggies:
1 medium-sized yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
1 small carrot (peeled)
1 rib celery
1 red pepper

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric - I substituted 1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt (with more, to taste, at the end)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Finishing touches:
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup vegan sour cream (try Tofutti Sour Supreme)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Mix the spices together in a small bowl and set them aside.

In a BIG pot, sauté half the onion with one clove of garlic in one tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Stir it occasionally so you don't burn the garlic. When the onion and garlic are nicely translucent, add half the spice mixture and cook for one minute. Add the lentils and the water. When the water has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow this mixture to simmer until tender, about 25-30 minutes or so.

While that's going on, sauté the rest of the onion and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil in a separate skillet, also on medium heat. Next, add the carrot and celery and cook until the carrot and celery start to soften. They don't have to be totally soft as they'll be cooking in the soup soon enough. Add the red pepper pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Then throw in the rest of the spices and stir it up for a couple more minutes.

Now, toss it all into the pot of lentils, which should be tender by now. Mix in the tomatoes (with juice) and let it simmer for another 30 minutes or so.

You will probably find yourself taste-testing a lot at this point - it's just so freakin' good - so take this opportunity to add salt to your taste.

Here's a nice little tip from Danny, otherwise known as "the chef": just before serving the soup, stir in the finely-diced ginger and stir it in well. Cook for a few moments more. Apparently this keeps the taste of ginger "bright". Taste the soup again (yeah, I'm twisting your arm) and if you need more salt and pepper, season to taste.

Serve it up and top with a small dollop of [vegan] sour cream and a little bit of chopped cilantro.

The claim that it "serves six" is valid - the Bear was so stuffed after a bowl and a half that we actually had leftovers to freeze.

And that never happens...

For more great recipes from Shauna & Danny, pick up their book Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Early Autumn Minestrone

They say that every Italian wife worth her salt can whip up a minestrone with her eyes closed.
I ain't there yet.

Fortunately, I found a great recipe from Jamie Oliver. Love him.
A friend just showed me his iPhone application. What a rabbit hole that was...

Anyway, the irony in using a British guy's minestrone to validate my position as a proper Italian wife is not lost on me. But I made some adjustments to take out some of the steps that the Bear says "a real Italian would never do" (while also quietly ignoring the call for rashers/bacon) and, as usual, there wasn't a drop of it left on his plate.

So between me and the Brit, we must be doing something right!

Photo by David Loftus

"Italianized" by the Bear and "Veganized" by me
(serves 4-6)

Gather the following:

• 200g cannellini or borlotti beans*
• 1 bay leaf* (optional)
• 1 tomato, squashed* (optional)
• 1 small potato, peeled* (optional)

• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil
• 2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 small potatoes
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and chopped
• ½ a head of fennel, chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

• a small bunch of fresh basil (leaves and stalks separated**)
• 2 x 400g tins (or 14-15oz cans) of good-quality plum tomatoes
• two glasses of red wine (one for the soup and one for me!)
• 2 small courgettes (zucchini), quartered and sliced
• 200g chard or spinach, washed and roughly sliced (including stalks)
• 565ml (about 2-1/2 cups) vegetable stock, preferably organic
• 55g dried pasta (about 1 cup)

*Ok, so this is the main part we ditched. Neither of us are fans of throwing away perfectly edible food that's used to "flavour" something. I also didn't have fresh, dried beans handy. So I bought a bottle and cut 30 minutes off my time. Win-win.

Otherwise, start making your soffrito by heating a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and adding the chopped onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic and the finely sliced basil stalks.

**This is another thing the Bear swears a real Italian would never do - we threw it all in, stalks, leaves and all. You're supposed to sweat the veggies, not the details, right?

Anyway, saute whatever ends up in the pot very slowly on a low heat, with the lid just ajar, for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft, but not brown. Add the tomatoes, courgettes and one glass of red wine. Simmer gently for 15 minutes...and enjoy the second glass yourself.

Then add the chard or spinach, veggie stock and beans.

At this point Jamie suggests putting the dried pasta into a polythene bag, squeezing all the air out, tying the end up, and "bashing gently" with a rolling pin to break the pasta into pieces. Personally, if I want to bash something, it's not going to be gentle and that whole process sounded waaaaay to complicated when there is a plethora of different pastas available in my local market. I opted to use some organic Sicilian gomitini (tiny little macaroni).

Whatever you choose, put it the soup, stir it up and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked.

If you think the soup is looking too thick, add a little more stock. Then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve it sprinkled with the torn-up basil leaves and some extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

It was good. Really good. So good, in fact, that the Bear almost forgot to smother it with fresh Parmesan.

Oh well,  you can't win 'em all...

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Weird Fetish for Brussels Sprouts

Yeah, I don't know what's up with this either. But the avocados are getting worried.

Alas, avocados aren't in season right now so I need a surrogate. Why Brussels sprouts? Well, for one, they are in season.

Believe it or not, my husband (who, henceforth, shall be known as "the Bear") absolutely loved this.
And he HATES sprouts!

Photo & Recipe courtesy of La Vita Saporita


12-16 raw Brussels Sprouts, washed and thinly chopped (toss cores)
1 pear peeled and chopped
A handful each of raw sunflower and pumpkin seeds
A handful of dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (or a few Misto spritzes)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Ground sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Optional: a couple of turns of ground coriander seeds

yields: 2 cups (approximately one soup bowl or two small plates)

I bet it will be even better with some fresh avocados. But then again, isn't everything?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Avocadoholics and Chocoholics Unite!

OMG. This is so good I want to bathe in it!

If you have kids, it's a great alternative to the sweet snacks that send them bouncing around like superballs.

This yummalicious treat comes courtesy of Katrine Volynsky from my girl Jennifer at Sweet on Veg.


Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 – 4 servings
Equipment: blender or food processor

2 medium avocados
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cacao powder
2 Tbsp Mesquite Powder
1/3 cup water or coconut water

Blend all ingredients, add water for desired consistency.

Serve immediately before you lick the entire batch off the spoon and have to start all over!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Starting the blog...

Photo by Jennifer at Sweet on Veg

Many, many thanks to Jennifer at Sweet on Veg for all her beautiful and magical inspirations.

And to Marla, the Vegan Feminist Agitator, for changing the should, could, would to DID!

You are true goddesses, my friends.
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