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Monday, March 7, 2011

Vegan Mafia, Manners, "Unprocessed" Adventure-Part 2

I was watching one of my favorite shows, The Amazing Race, last night and saw something of the contestants had a shirt on that said "Vegan Mafia".  Now, I get really excited whenever I see ANYthing vegan, or ANYone vegan, or ANY inkling of anything even remotely related to anyone who knew anyone who's cousin USED to be vegan.  (Just ask my poor long-suffering husband....everytime a Bryan Adams song comes on..."Honey, did you know Bryan Adams is vegan?"..."Yes, dear...I believe you have mentioned that before".  Natalie Portman comes Star Wars, the Oscars, anywhere...."Honey, did you know Natalie Portman is vegan?".  "Yes, dear....I think you mentioned that about 150 times before" get the drift).  So natch, when I saw the t-shirt I sat up with a start...oh COOL....a vega.....wait...a...minute....mafia, what?

So today when I had a chance, I looked it up:  Vegan Mafia is defined in the Urban Dictionary as "militant vegans who will ostracize their vegan friends who stray from the fold".  Oh, I get it now.  Yep, I won't be ordering that t-shirt.

Speaking of dictionaries, I had a very interesting experience over the weekend.  My husband and I went to a party at his boss' house; I, of course, wanted to make a good impression this being my first meeting of these folks.  I brought a large platter of fresh veggies and also some black bean hummus thusly insuring I would have something to eat, as I never expect to be catered to at these sorts of things.  We were the first to arrive and soon upon getting there the hosts expressed their concern about what I was going to eat.  They made a very cute confession and told me that they didn't know what vegan was and had to look it up in the dictionary.  I was so touched by this....they went on to ask if I followed the true definition of vegan and didn't consume dairy...I said that's correct, no I don't eat dairy.  It just impressed me so much how the biggest concern these people had was not even remotely similar to the reactions I have gotten from so many others which border on an attack of my choices.  No, there was none of that here; only a concern that they would not be able to properly feed me.  (More on this evening in a later post when I talk about meeting their longhorn cattle....quite a wonderful experience too).

The evening made me think of manners and how startling it was to see GOOD manners in place.  What does this say about others in my life and where have our good manners gone?  I wonder how much better the world could be if we would take the care to put in our simple 'please' and 'thank you's and endeavor to show each other a bit of mannerly respect.  I suppose I can refine my manners as well and I've made a mental note to do just that....more of the 'be the change you wish to see' at work.
"Unprocessed" Adventure - Part 2

I had some leftover spinach dip from my first endeavor into Chef A.J.'s book "Unprocessed" (I am cooking my way through her book, Julie/Julia style), so it only made sense to make her Disappearing Lasagna since she uses the dip as the filling.

Chef A.J.'s Disappearing Lasagna

2 boxes of no boil rice lasagna noodles (I used whole wheat)
6 C oil-free marinara sauce (I did a simple blend of tomatoes, tomato paste and oregano)

1 box extra firm tofu OR 2 C cannellini beans, drained and rinsed  (I used both)
2 oz. fresh basil leaves
1 C pine nuts, raw cashews or hemp seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/4 C miso (I subb'ed Liquid Aminos)
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1/8 t red pepper flakes
2 pounds frozen chopped spinach or 1 pound kale (I used fresh)

4 oz can sliced olives, rinsed and drained (optional)
2 pounds sliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove (I think there is an omission in the recipe due to instructions, so inserted this here)
1/4 C tamari
1 large red onion (I used large yellow)

Faux Parmesan:
Grind raw cashews or almonds to nutritional yeast in a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 1 C nuts to 1/2 C nut. yeast) and 1 T of salt-free seasoning

Make the filling in a food processor adding tofu, basil, garlic, lemon juice, miso, nutritional yeast, nuts and red pepper flakes.  Puree til smooth.  Add drained spinach or kale and process again.

Saute chopped onion in 2 T water until translucent, about 8 mins, adding more water if needed.  Add garlic, mushrooms and tamari and saute until browned.  Taste mixture, adding more garlic/tamari as desired.  Cook until mushrooms appear to be glazed and no liquid left in pan.

Pour 3 C of sauce in lasagna pan. Place one layer of noodles (A.J. specifies no-cook noodles, but I find that all pasta will cook in the over as long as it is covered in the sauce) on top.  Cover noodles with half of tofu/spinach mix, then with half of mushroom mix.  Place another layer of noodles on top and add remaining halves of tofu and mush.  Place one more layer of noodles on top and smother evenly with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle olives on top of sauce and sprinkle with faux parmesan.  (I put black olives on top of half of the casserole for my husband and put thinly sliced red peppers on my half).

Bake uncovered 375 degrees for one hour.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Oh-My-Gawd.  This is superbly yummie.  Even my husband (non-vegan) said:  "Delicious".  Are you kidding me?  That is beyond amazing.  Now, I LOVE Rip Esselstyn's Raise the Roof Lasagna, but this is a serious contender.  Very uniquely flavored and my only complaint was that I had prepared too large of a salad and so was only able to eat one piece.  Yum.

(Note:  I have another idea for this filling.  I'll be adding chopped onions, peppers and mushrooms and using it to fill pasta shells, then have the tomato sauce over top.  It should make a nice vegan stuffed shell or manicotti dish).

Speaking of salad, I have FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY found a ranch dressing I can enjoy.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jennifer Cornbleet.  I picked up her book "Raw Food Made Easy" at Half-Priced Books. I 've only made a few things in there, but was so beyond thrilled to find something I could use to replace my beloved (and unhealthy) ranch.    Here is her recipe.

Mock Sour Cream and Chive Dip

1 C soaked raw cashews
1/2 C water
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t salt
2 T minced fresh chives or green onions
1 T basil (I subbed parsley)
1 T dill

Place nuts through salt in blender and process til smooth.  Add chives, basil and dill and pulse briefly to mix.  Chill at least 30 mins in frig. 
I wanted this to be a bit creamier so I added about half a block of silken tofu.  I did tweak the seasonings a bit and added a lot more dill----I love dill.  My husband doesn't like dill, so I made some for him without the dill and increased the garlic and onion powder.  He said 'I can live with it', so I'm going to play with the spices some more and see if I can ramp the flavor up a bit.  Still, it was yummy and I devoured it both as a dip for fresh veggies and straight on the salad.  It's been a long nearly 8 months with no ranch.

Sue, not in the mafia, vegan or otherwise, in Ohio

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