Monday, August 30, 2010


So I got really irritated today and it was beneath me.

I love me some celebrity gossip, and the site I check for my Hollywood trash had an article about Angelina Jolie from some tabloid or other which claims she used to be a vegan and that it "almost killed her."  I don't know about all that.  I doubt Ms. Jolie was ever vegan because I've never heard any such thing...and I follow celeb, yeah.  I think it's a crap story.

But that wasn't what irritated me.

The comments left on this article just really crawled under my fingernails today.  I know we're not supposed to listen to the garbage, and I know it's pointless and soul-sucking to dignify the garbage with a response.  Pearls before swine, and all that.  I know.

But I couldn't help myself.

The comments ranged from "Veganism and anorexia go hand-in-hand," to "You know those people don't eat cheese, right?" There was a series of taunting and name-calling, too, where people talked about how much meat they eat on purpose to antagonize anyone vegetarian who might see the message.  Just...juvenile crap.  I normally ignore it.  This time, I bit.  It was stupid.  I learned long ago that you don't teach a hostile audience anything in a setting like that.  They all hate me on that site, anyway, because I'm politically conservative, don't wish fiery death on Sarah Palin and all her progeny for 6 generations, and don't herald sexual promiscuity as a sign of feminine virtue and independence.


So that just made it worse.  Because the vegan message came from ME, someone who voted Republican a few times and suggested that maybe Halle Berry should parent her child instead of auditioning a new stud every week...they'll reject it even harder.

And you know the worst part?  There was a woman on there later in the list with a niece who went vegan to copy some celebrity band she likes, and she kind of thrust it on her family without any warning or thought.  The girl is basically starving herself because she doesn't know how to feed herself as a vegan, and I could've helped this family with some good advice.  But...I made myself look just as ignorant as the hecklers on that board, and so now there's a teen who won't stick with it (because she'll get hungry before any of those band members ask her out on a date)...and I could've, maybe, helped her, instead of mouthing off to an ignoramus on an internet comment list.

So, I'm irritated and deflated and feeling very, very foolish for biting the bait.  When will I ever learn?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pureed Cauliflower Soup

I bought a huge head of cauliflower at the commissary this week because it just looked good to me.  Then, I took it home and worried about it for the following 5 days every time I opened the fridge.  I would see it sitting there and think, "What on earth am I going to do with this thing?"  I found a lot of vegetarian recipes online for cauliflower, but the ones that sounded best were always soups...and the cauliflower soup recipes were all pretty similar to each other.

So here's what Eliza and I threw together.  We didn't necessarily make up the recipe on our own.  We read a lot of online recipes and watched a few videos...but they were honestly all very much alike.  I'm not sure who to give credit to for this soup, actually.  /shrug   You will need a sturdy immersion blender or a REALLY good standing blender to do this properly.  Just giving you fair warning before you get into it and realize I'm going to ask you to puree at the end.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
1 large head fresh Cauliflower, cored and chopped down a bit
1 large Yellow Onion, sliced into thick pieces
2 large or 4 small yellow or white Potatoes (if you choose a potato type with skin too thick to blend, peel them.  Otherwise, leave the skins on)
1 head Garlic, all cloves smashed, peeled, and chopped
1 stalk Celery, diced
6C Vegetable Broth or Bouillon
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat 2T vegetable oil on medium high and then add the potato and onion.  Salt to taste (be liberal with it), and stir everything around until you see brown marks on some of the onions.  You will likely have bits sticking to the bottom of your pan.  That's okay.

Once you have achieved browning on the onions, throw in the celery, garlic, and cauliflower.  Stir it around until you smell the garlic from your pot.  Add the broth and cover.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to medium.  Uncover and stir, scraping up the delicious bits that were sticking to the bottom of the pan earlier.  Cover the pot again and allow it to simmer for about 1/2 hour or until your potatoes and cauliflower are soft.

Using an immersion blender, puree the heck out of it until you have a smooth texture throughout.  Serve in bowls with some nice crusty rolls.  If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a standing blender in batches or, I suppose, a food processor.  If you cannot puree the soup, you could probably get a really nice-tasting concoction with the same ingredients I've used here by chopping your vegetables into more appropriate sizes from the beginning.


I love cauliflower, and Elizabeth says it's not as good as broccoli, but she "is a fan." We really liked this soup, and it was really easy to make.  I'm pretty sure we'll eat it again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Toni Fiore's Sugo di Carne

Elizabeth loves noodles. I mean, who doesn't like pasta, right, but my kid LOVES noodles. Anything made with pasta makes her happy. Tonight, we had friends over who are not vegan, and I wanted to make something they would truly enjoy (and not just tell me they liked to be polite). You can't go wrong with pasta.

This week, Elizabeth and I made our menus from the Delicious TV podcast. It was a fun mommy-daughter activity to sit with a pencil and paper while choosing which dishes we'd make and listing out ingredients for grocery shopping while we watched the videos. One of the dishes Lizzie chose was the sugo di carne (sauce of meat). Tonight, my friend Bunnary and I cooked it together, and it was seriously delicious. With so few ingredients, I thought it would be pretty typical of red sauce and bland. It wasn't. It had a very complex and lovely flavor.

Delicious TV is a winner. For SURE.

Here's the recipe. Even if you already have a vegan meat sauce recipe, I strongly recommend you try this one. As always, I made a few alterations. You can use it my way (typed below) or the original recipe posted by Ms. Fiore in her video podcast under the title "Vegetarian Meat Sauce."

Toni Fiore's Sugo di Carne

1T Olive Oil
1 bag TVP Crumbles
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Dried Oregano, to taste
Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
1-2T Brown Sugar (not packed, just loose)
1 large can Stewed Tomatoes (Get whatever form of these you like. I used whole, but pureed them beforehand to suite the tastes of my guest. He doesn't like chunks of cooked tomato.)
1 generous handful Fresh Basil Leaves, in a chiffonade
1 generous handful Parsley, chopped (I had to used dried, but fresh would be better)
Salt and Pepper to taste
4-6 servings pasta (use something sturdy like penne or farfalle)

Get your pasta water ready, and time things so your pasta is ready about the time your sauce will be finished.

In a deep, flat-bottom pan, sautee the onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the oil over medium high heat until the onions soften and begin to caramelize. Be careful not to over-brown your garlic. Add the oregano, brown sugar, and TVP crumbles. Cook until your mixture looks about like the picture you see below on the right. You should be really smelling the garlic and oregano at this point. Add the tomatoes, and simmer for about 10 minutes. At the very end, lower the heat and add your fresh herbs. Let these sit on a low simmer for about 5 minutes while you get the pasta ready. Right before adding the pasta, be sure to adjust salt and pepper to taste.

When the pasta is done, drain it and add it directly to the sauce. Stir to coat and serve. We ate this with a nice garlic bread (I intended to make a green salad to go alongside, but it totally slipped our minds while we were cooking. It would have been a lovely addition).

No Piggy Rib Sandwiches

In my omniverous days, I was a huge fan of McRib season at McDonald's. I loved, loved, LOVED those sandwiches. They are obesity, heart attacks, and colon cancer on a bun, but they tasted good to me, and I ate them at least once every time they came around.

I recently found another product from Morning Star that I am in love with because it tastes JUST LIKE the McRib Sandwiches...and it's vegan. I have put pictures below of the product packaging. If there is a non-vegan ingredient I don't know about in these, I would appreciate someone telling me, but I don't think there is.

I'm not usually a fan of faux meats. I will go further and say that I find most fake meat products taste AWFUL. Not only do I find that most don't taste like meat, but they also don't even taste good. They're usually pretty high fat considering the other foods vegans eat, and they're very calorie dense in general. All that complaining out of the way, I gotta tell you that the meat substitutes I do like bring me comfort (love me some grilled veggie dogs and several kinds of veggie burgers). Anyway, this one is a MUST. It's seriously scrumptious, and you just have to try it.

Today, my friend and I will be eating Vegan rib sammiches with cole slaw for lunch. Mmmm.

No Piggy McRibs

1 package Morning Star Hickory BBQ Riblets, cooked according to package instructions
2 whole wheat Hot Dog Buns, ends removed and sliced in half
Cole Slaw to taste, your favorite recipe

Cut the Riblets, once cooked, to fit your bun, top with cole slaw. Voila!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pot Pie...Mmmm

So, it's Tuesday, and we were planning on something entirely different for dinner because it is hot as blue blazes on Okinawa today. Elizabeth can be rather insistent once an idea seizes her, though, and she finally convinced me that turning on the oven to make pot pies for dinner would be totally worth it. So here they are in all their glory. This is a recipe taken almost directly from Toni Fiore's Delicious TV free podcast, but there were minor changes, so I'll discuss those in my written version. Remember that you can click on any of the pictures here to see a larger image.

I just finished eating my pot pie. These little suckers are filling, completely delicious, and they smell like the holidays. I will definitely be reserving a spot on my table for these on Thanksgiving. I could not believe the flavor out of these.

Creamy Tofu Pot Pie
(slightly altered from the original recipe on DeliciousTV Podcast)

1 block of Extra Firm Tofu, drained and cut into bite-sized cubes
1-2T Canola Oil for frying the tofu
1T Nutritional Yeast
5T Vegan Butter
1 medium Onion, diced
2 stalks Celery, chopped
3-5T flour (I used 3T of a mix of half whole wheat/half AP flour)
2C Vegetable Stock (I used a veggie cube in 2C hot water)
2C Mixed Vegetables (I used the standard carrot/pea/green bean/corn frozen mix)
1/4tsp Poultry Seasoning (you could use sage or anything else you like)
Salt and Pepper to taste

You will also need some sort of pie shell to put your mixture in when it is finished. We used puff pastry shells like Toni Fiore did in her DeliciousTV podcast video. You could use biscuits or tart shells or whatever you like. You could even serve this over rice or some other grain you enjoy and it would be delicious. Whatever you choose, prepare this beforehand or have it baking while you cook so that it is ready immediately when your filling is all done.


In a wide, flat-bottomed pan, warm the oil over a high heat. Pan fry your tofu cubes until you achieve a crispy blonde sear on most sides. This will take about 5 solid minutes. Remove the tofu cubes to a plate lined with paper toweling to drain and sprinkle with the nutritional yeast (pictured above). Set aside.

To the same pan, add half the vegan butter and lower the heat to a medium. Sautee the celery and onion until the onions are translucent and the celery begins to soften. Melt in the rest of your vegan butter, and sprinkle in flour until you get a nice, thick paste. This will create the gravy. Pour in your vegetable broth and whisk or stir well until a thick gravy consistency forms (pictured above). This will take only 2-3 minutes. Add broth or flour to achieve the consistency you want as you go. It will vary for different stoves and depending on the flour you're using.

Stir in your mixed vegetables and poultry seasoning. Stir gently to mix everything evenly. Add the tofu cubes back into the pan and add your salt and pepper. What you have should look like the picture I have below. Spoon into your pastry shells and Voila!

Tasty and warm and filling and delicious. Really outstanding pot pies, and I just don't see any reason to find another recipe after this. I don't think I've ever had a better one, vegan or omni.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spinach Curry from Delicious TV

Delicious TV is the name of a vegan cooking show hosted by Toni Fiore. They also produce a video podcast of 5 - 10 minute recipe demonstrations, and I am in LOVE with it. I got it from iTunes, but it's a free podcast, so you can find it in a number of places. I highly recommend.

Tonight's recipe was chosen by Elizabeth. She spent an hour watching videos and chose 3 for our menu this week. Now, Elizabeth is used to Japanese curry, and those spices are a bit different from Indian curry flavors. I'm anxious to see how all this is going to go. Please visit for a direct download of the video. If you'd rather just use a plain recipe, I've done my best to type it for you, as it was presented in the video, below.

Delicious TV's Spinach Curry

1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2C canned diced tomatoes, juice included
1 clove Garlic, crushed and minced
1 1/2 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin
2lbs frozen chopped Spinach, thawed and water removed (thoroughly squeezed out)
1 can Coconut Milk, unsweetened
1 can Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or deep skillet, bring the onion, tomatoes, and garlic to a simmer. Add the Curry, Turmeric, and Cumin. Stir well. Add the spinach and toss it about in the pan to get everything incorporated. Pour in the coconut milk. Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans and cook until warm through (about another 5 minutes). Serve over rice or potatoes.

I will be serving this over a bed of jasmine rice. Pictures and a recipe review coming in a few hours! :)


Okay, so I don't mind telling you that I was skeptical of this recipe. I am NOT a spinach fan. I don't really like raw spinach, and I really don't like cooked spinach. Knowing that, you should take it to heart when I tell you that this recipe is AWESOME! As you can see from the photographs, I had a lot of good help. Even Kioko came to the kitchen for moral support (and the chickpeas).

Elizabeth and I both cleaned our bowls.

I had some slight changes to measurements in the recipe , but nothing major enough to really talk about. I used two packages of frozen spinach (the block kind) rather than 2lbs. I used one 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes instead of cracking open two to get an exact two cups. I used about a cup of leftover chickpeas instead of opening a fresh can, and I think an entire can of garbanzos would be serious overkill in this recipe. Other than those minor changes, we made this just as described in the video and ate it in bowls over reheated leftover jasmine rice. It is so good, I can't even begin.

Definitely try this one.

August 2010 - The Year So Far

Lots has been happening in Nix Land this year, and I have drifted further and further away from the computer and blogging. All of the places I used to frequent online (except for Facebook because that's how I keep in touch with my stateside people) have been sadly neglected. It's okay, though, because we've been doing real-life, world in 3-D things. I miss the connection I have to other veggie people when I'm updating regularly, and it keeps me motivated to pass on that non-vegan ingredient when I'm focused here on a frequent schedule. So, I hope to revive this little blog and my dedication to it.

We will be leaving Okinawa in October or November for another foreign post, and this information has been coming for a while. Mr. Nix is in training for embassy duty in Washington right now, and I am preparing our affairs for such a move. Kidlet is getting ready for 2nd grade. You know, we've just got lots to do. I cannot stand the heat of summer, though, so getting me out of the house can be a chore. I am prone to depressive bouts if I don't get out and about and keep a good schedule, though, so it's really important to press on and force myself out into the world. This blog helps with that, too.

In vegan living news, I have recently discovered Toni Fiore's Delicious TV video podcast, and she is helping me a LOT. The most frustrating thing this year has been learning how to cook food this way. I've always been a kitchen person, and I feel like a space alien in there, now...fumbling around and coming out with food that isn't always so tasty. It's serious ego damage for someone who "used to be" a good cook. I'm learning, now. It's getting better. We don't eat as many boring rice bowls, and I have a nice long list of standby convenience food to choose from because we've taste-tested and learned. It's still a process, though, and the cooking podcast from Delicious TV has been a Godsend.

I'm encouraged that my dedication to these changes has lasted. You know, I don't think I'm alone in this, but I tend to doubt myself when I take on something new and huge. There is a history of procrastination, backsliding, and non-completion in my past. ha ha! I get passionate about something and that lasts a while...but then it fades, and I slip into old habits. That hasn't happened with this. I'm so grateful. I don't want to go back to participating in all that suffering and cruelty...and I don't want to go back to putting all that garbage into my family.

Elizabeth, who is now 7 years old, is slowly working her way into consciously eating vegan. She knows what vegan means, now, and she checks labels in the grocery store. She is adamant about refusing beef. We saw some cows on a truck in the spring and she asked me if they were being taken to be killed for "hamburgers." I told her that, yes, that was likely where they were headed, and she got very thoughtful. "Do you think they cows know where they're going?" she asked me. I told her that, no, they didn't know where the truck was taking them, but they would probably be scared once they got there. She didn't say anything else about it, but she has refused to eat anything with "cow" in it ever since. For some really odd reason, however, she has no sympathy for chickens and will argue with me about why she should be allowed to eat them. So...I let her order chicken without commenting if we're eating out and she wants it. I am able to remind her that chickens are animals just like the cows are from time to time, and that's enough. Again, I don't want this to become a power issue. It's not about power. It's about choices. She's discovering these things one animal at a time on her own, and that's okay with me. I'm the one who fed her meat and dairy her first 6 years, and we live in a culture where people eat meat several times per day and spend their lives veritably surgically attached to a cow udder. Re-framing her world view is not going to happen overnight.

Mr. Nix has not made the change to vegan outside our home, but he continues to fully support what I'm doing and to increase the number of vegetarian meals he eats when away from the house. You can't force people into this kind of change, and I'm just appreciative of such support and positive thinking from my spouse. I try to come at this with an "each new day" approach, kind of like a 12-step program. I have a good support system, and I just live one day of choices at a time. I don't spend time excusing or berating myself for mistakes (hidden dairy) or bad choices (intentional dairy). As a family, we just vow to go on making better choices in the present than the ones we made in the past. It's working quite well. I'm more vegan in daily practice than I ever have been. Ashley is a half-n-half omni/vegetarian. Elizabeth is a chicken-eating vegetarian who sometimes goes vegan. We're a work in progress, and I think we're doing great.

Tonight, I'm making Spinach Curry from Delicious TV because Elizabeth wanted to try it. If it turns out, I'll post the recipe, link to video, and some pictures.