non-dairy milk

Okay, let’s talk about non-dairy milk. I never liked milk. I wonder what it would be like to really want to drink milk. Actually, I don’t. I do like coffee though (I’ll revisit this subject later) and I generally prefer my coffee with some sort of milk substitute. For the longest time I relied on soy milk because it was the most commonly available option. The truth is, I really like soy milk. I still wouldn’t really want to drink a glass straight, but the thought doesn’t gross me out either. In the past year I’ve added a lot of almond milk and on occasion rice milk into the mix. I’m not as big a fan of the rice milk as it is not quite thick enough and a little too sweet. Almond milk, on the other hand, is great and makes some intense latte foam.

On a recent visit to Vinh Loi Tofu, I thought I’d get some of their freshly made soy milk, just to try. I figured, before I mixed it in with my coffee or cooked something with it, I should probably taste it, just in case. Do you know what fresh soy milk tastes like? It tastes like soybeans. Like raw tofu, except sweeter. This might sound kind of gross, but it’s not. It’s actually pretty refreshing. It was definitely a change from the standard vanilla soy milk  that I usually get. I think it would be extra good for a shake or something, to give it a little bit extra flavor. More than that, I love that it is fresh and only has three ingredients…water, soybeans and sugar. There was also a non-sugar version and a crazy green one that I’m not really sure what it was (if anyone could enlighten me I would be grateful). It made me want to try and make some of my own soy milk, or tofu even!

What kind of non-dairy milk do you like?

Four years of being vegan

carrot cake cupcake

Happy veganniversary to me! Today celebrates the four year anniversary of me being vegan. I can honestly say that becoming vegan has changed my life significantly for the better and is without a doubt one of the more life altering decisions I’ve made. Though making the switch from being a vegetarian to vegan wasn’t that dramatic in and of itself, the resulting changes in my lifestyle have come to shape who I am. I find so much joy in experimenting in the kitchen and there are few things that calm me more than baking. I have made so many awesome friends in the vegan community through this little blog that really just started out as something to motivate myself.

In the past four years I’ve learned to be proud of my choice to be vegan as the more I learn, the more it is reinforced in my mind that it is undoubtedly the best option. Whereas I used to shy away from conversations with non-vegans on the issue, I’m now happy to point out many of the benefits  of veganism and even happier to tell people about all the really amazing vegan food and restaurants out there.

Every day I try to be a better vegan. This means not only trying to eat a diverse diet (it is even easier now than ever to get vegan junk food) but also being conscious of my choices outside of what I eat. I do the best I can without driving myself crazy. In a world where nearly everything is processed and manufactured it’s not always possible to know every element of the production of an item, but I try my best to be aware.

I’m so glad that I get to be a vegan blogger, a vegan baker, a vegan filmmaker, a vegan cyclist. I’m so happy that I’ve met so many of you and learned so much from your vegan adventures. So I insist, celebrate with me and go eat something damn delicious, because nothing tastes better than being vegan.

Graham crackers revisited

Not the type to let a kitchen mishap get me down, I had to try my hand again at graham crackers. I scoured the web for tips and info but settled with two of the highest ranking of recipes, one vegan and one not. There were elements of each that I liked but neither seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. What I came up with was a strange amalgamation of the two, with a hint of my own laziness thrown in there.

Surprisingly, they came out really well. They’re a little more cookie-like than store bought grahams but in the best of ways. The molasses in the sugar gives them a rich flavor that pairs perfectly with the cinnamon. They have a great crispy crunch but aren’t hard. Though the whole thing was a bit intimidating, it was well worth it.

Vegan Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cup graham flour

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 1/2 Tbsp Earth Balance chopped into small cubes and frozen

1/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup agave or simple syrup

2 Tbsp vanilla extract

1. Chop your Earth Balance and put it in the freezer. It is easiest to use the Earth Balance sticks.

2. I did not have dark brown sugar so I just took 1 cup of regular sugar and added 2 Tbsp of molasses and combined thoroughly with a fork.

3. Mix the sugar, flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a mixer on low. You could also do this by hand. Mix until just combined.

4. Next add the frozen Earth Balance. Mix the ingredients until it starts to resemble a coarse meal. It is ok if the Earth Balance is not 100% incorporated. It is more important to not over-mix.

5. Mix the soy milk, agave and vanilla in a separate bowl. I used a mixture of agave maple syrup and simple syrup (sugar water) because that’s what I had in the fridge. Mix into the flour mixture until you have a rough dough.

6. Shape the dough roughly into a rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

7. Preheat the oven to 325°

8. Remove the chilled dough and cut in half. Put the remaining portion back into the fridge. The dough will be very sticky so flour generously. I recommend rolling it out between two pieces of parchment paper. You will still have to flour it though. Roll out to approximately 1/4″ thickness. Using a pizza cutter or similar tool, cut into even(ish) squares. Poke holes in the tops with a fork or skewer and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

9. Here is where you should chill your dough for an additional 20-30 minutes. I didn’t. I got impatient. I’m sure it would be better if you did, but it didn’t make a huge difference. My graham crackers spread out a bit more and had to be recut after baking.

10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the tray about 15 minutes in.

11. Remove and let cool. Eat till your hearts content.

Perfect snack:Onion Naan & Hummus

Strictly speaking, these aren’t supposed to go together, but yesterday when arriving home hungry with little time to spare and a nearly empty fridge, this combo was the best I could do. And it wasn’t a bad idea either. Granted, the onion naan and the garlicy hummus did leave me with some awesome breath afterward, but it was well worth it. Both of these recipes were from the Native Foods cookbook. This is one of those cookbooks that has really great recipes in it but I tend to steer clear of because many of them can be overly complicated and impractical. On the other hand, these two recipes were super simple.

The onion naan was pretty much perfect. We ate it all and nearly spoiled dinner. I could still eat more if there were some left. It was soft and flavorful, chewy and had those nice little burnt bubbly bits. The only thing that didn’t quite work with the recipe is how small each piece was. Although I’m a fan of individual servings, it just took WAY too long to cook this way. You’re supposed to cook each piece in the center of a skillet 3-4 minutes on each side…now multiply that times the 16 pieces of dough. Yeah, like I said, way too long. I recommend going with larger pieces of naan just to save time. Unless of course you have a huge grill where you can cook more pieces at a time, then go for it. Also, definitely don’t roll out the pieces as thin as it says. I mean you could, but they are way better when they’re a little doughy, rather than crackery.

I wasn’t as excited about the hummus, although it was a nice compliment for the naan. It was a bit too tangy for my taste, and not quite thick enough. I added tahini to my recipe but the lemon and garlic were both very distinct. This isn’t necessarily bad, but just not my thing I guess. Mostly I think it should have been thicker. Perhaps next time, less lemon juice and more chickpeas. I’m still interested in trying a hummus recipe using chickpea flour. This seems strange and yet logical at the same time.

In any case, you could probably whip these up and have something to eat in less than half an hour (although you probably won’t be done cooking all of the naan, but some anyway). It was also a good reminder for me that I should not abandon the poor Native Foods cookbook that has some great easy treats in it just because the entrees are way too involved.

Breakfast in bed

You know what is awesome? Breakfast in bed. Saturday is a perfect day for such indulgences. So today I bring you kamut flour pancakes, made from a mix, because it’s easier that way. Topped with some maple agave syrup. Of course, a nice shot of espresso to go along with it all. Happy weekend!