Thursday, October 8, 2009


Best Blog Tips
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MY CANADIAN FRIENDS! (PS: If you still have no idea what to make for a vegan Thanksgiving, there's still time to check out the links to holiday recipes.)

No, I'm afraid I'm not joining the Vegan MOFO this year! I wish I could (I did it last year), but, with several trips, company and a fund-raising show I'm organizing this month, it's just not possible! But, I thought I'd help publicize it by doing the 2009 Vegan MOFO Survey, which originated here. And, as one blogger said, it might tell you a little more about me, if you're interested.

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
I like my own homemade soymilk (with a bit of oatmeal in it when I make it) the best—I put that on my cereal and in my tea, coffee, etc., make smoothies with it and cook with it. I like the taste of it better than Silk.

Of commercial soymilks, I like the taste of Soy Dream the best, and it’s very creamy. But I also like homemade hemp milk sometimes. Soy and hemp milk are also top of the list in terms of protein and other nutrients. I also like the taste of Almond Breeze (Update: and So Delicious Coconut Beverage) and I use them for some recipes, but they contain only 1 g of protein per cup, so I don't depend on them for nutrition.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Skillet-seared edamame; Spaetzle with Butternut Squash and Mushroom Cream Sauce (veganized, of course! And made with my vegan whole grain spaetzle); Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings ( veganized of course, again, and using Tofurkey Veggie Italian Sausages). (Update-- so far I have only tried the last one, and it was good!)

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?

Salt; sometimes engevita yeast or homemade vegan bacon salt.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?

I remember making a fancy meal (pre-vegetarian) for my father (a gourmet, but not a cook!) when I was about 18, in my tiny kitchen. I had recently purchased a blender (this was in the 60's) and decided to use it to make mashed potatoes-- some gourmet French variety with tons of cream, etc.--not knowing, as I do now, that beating potatoes too vigorously will turn them to glue!
(Here’s a quote about this very thing:
" Gluey or gooey mashed potatoes are caused by vigorous over mashing, as anyone who has tried to make the side dish in a food processor can attest. When potatoes are boiled, their starch granules swell. If those granules are broken too vigorously, the cells release copious quantities of starch, resulting in a potatoes with the consistency of wallpaper paste. NEVER use a blender or food processor to make mashed potatoes. There are starch packets inside the potato cells and the blender blades rip right through them, releasing the starch and this makes the potatoes into library paste. The cells of the potato flesh contain a very fine starch. Mashing gently leaves most of the cells intact. Processing in a blender or a Food Processor acts like a cell homogenizer and releases all that starch into the liquid. Adding any liquid early just makes the process more efficient."
I have since learned how to make really fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes with NO fat!

Back to that horrible meal, in addition to the potatoes, I had not learned to time things properly, so NOTHING was ready at the same time. The whole meal was NOT a success (though my father didn't complain). I did learn many things from that meal, though-- #1, not to attempt a complicated menu without trying everything beforehand! Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Green beans or asparagus, I guess. I’m not a huge pickle fan.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
In several way. I do use my own cookbooks, so, of course, many old favorites are in my books. Old recipes not in my books that I wrote on cards in pre-computer days (some of you may not recall such a time!) are in card file boxes. Some of those have also made it into recipe files on my computer. I bookmark internet recipes, too. But, since my office is downstairs and I don’t want to have to run down to the computer whenever I’m looking for a particular recipe (although that IS good exercise!), I have printed out recipes that I use alot (from my blog, or from manuscripts—maybe recipes that didn’t make it into a particular book—or from other sources) and sorted them into binders under different categories. I keep these binders upstairs with my cookbooks.

But now I need to sort THOSE recipes into alphabetical order or something because they aren’t indexed. I also have binders with issues of my now defunct Vegan Feast newsletter, and I really need to index those someday.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Trash and compost (and recycling).

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Oh, what a challenge!! Pasta, tomatoes, beans, I guess. They always taste good together. Does salt count as a food? ‘Cause you’d need that, too! That's a hard one because anything would get boring after eating it all the time.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
I have a lot of food memories—I remember many food details from a very young age. But, one fond memory-- my older brother Tim (almost 10 years older than I am) used to babysit for my sister Karin and me, and he’d make us homemade French fries, which my mother never made.

I also remember when we spent 3 months in Peru (I was 6 yrs-old) with my father’s family, everyone would have their siesta in the afternoon (really!). At 4 PM everything would get lively again and my father would take us to a café where he would have seviche, and we would have some sweet cake or pastry while he chatted with the other men. At home, my mother seldom made sweets, so this was a real treat. (My mother was a great cook, BTW-- she just didn't make many desserts, nor did she deep-fry.)

I also remember my first s’more in the backyard of my brother’s girlfriend Barbara’s house (I was not a Girl Scout). Her father made them for us and I still love that combination of crunchy, hot, chocolately, melty goodness.

This is a more sophisticated vegan version I made with organic digestive biscuits (a UK specialty), Denman Island organic chocolate and vegan "Ricemellow Creme" . (You can also sandwich a heated vegan marshmallow between two vegan dark chocolate-covered digestive biscuits, if you can find some (President's Choice used to have these, but not right now; I can't find the ingredients  for McVities)-- very good!):

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
We don’t have a lot of choice around here, as far as places that sell their own dairy-free frozen treats, or in the brands available to us. Hot Chocolates (a chocolate, pastry, and ice cream shop in Courtenay, BC, where we shop) makes a wonderful Lemon Sorbetto! I like Soy Delicious “Butter Pecan” or Purely Decadent “Chocolate Obsession” and “Mocha Almond Fudge”.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?

I couldn’t live without my food processor!

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
That’s a hard one because I have been cooking for over 45 years—well, over 50 years, really, because my mother said I started cooking at a very young age. (I got in trouble once when I was about 11 yrs.-old for cutting recipes out of my father’s Gourmet magazines!) I think the oldest cookbook that I bought for myself that I still own is the Sunset Cook Book of Breads, circa 1977, very tattered and worn. I must have had Joy of Cooking, but I don’t have the first copy I owned anymore.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

President’s Choice “Twice the Fruit” Peach & Passion Fruit

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

My Lasagne ala Bolognese, from my book Nonna’s Italian Kitchen.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?

Tofu and seitan I love equally (if the seitan is made properly). I like tempeh, but my husband hates it, so I don’t serve it very often, and I can live without it. The other two are more versatile.

My seitan “ham”

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?

Dinner is my favorite meal to cook. Breakfast is my least favorite to cook, though I can do interesting, fancy breakfasts for company if necessary. (My husband often does breakfast when we have company.) On ordinary days DH and I make our own breakfasts. (People tend to be picky about how they like their oatmeal, etc., so it’s easier that way. Also, he gets up very early.) Lunch is usually leftovers or a pot of soup I’ve made for that purpose.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Some platters that won’t fit anywhere else; some rolls of duct tape, packing tape, etc.; the little receptacle from my husband’s manual coffee grinder—he grinds his coffee for the day into that and leaves it up there with a spoon in it.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
1.) Soy Curls® (dry ones—I keep them in the freezer because I buy them in bulk and, since they are made from the whole soybean, they can go rancid if left out for longer than 6 months, I find); 2.) homemade bread; 3.) edamame.

Bulk Soy Curls®-- I bag them in zipper-lock bags for freezing.

20. What's on your grocery list?

We went shopping yesterday. We bought (as near as I can remember):
Sesame seeds (raw)
Silk soymilk (my husband’s favorite)
Shredded Wheat
Sweet potatoes
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Earth Balance
Tofurkey Vegan Italian Sausages
Red Wine Vinegar
Soy sauce
Brussels sprouts
Winter squash (various kinds)
Tofu (medium firm and firm—I already had some extra-firm)
Dried oregano and savaory
TVP granules
A can of baked beans in tomato sauce (one of my husband’s favorites when he’s alone)
Vegetarian bouillon cubes
Rolled oats
Frozen juice (for the kids at Thanksgiving—we don’t buy this very often)
Yves veggie “Ground Round”
Kalamata olives
Tomato paste
Linguine nests
Brown sugar
Organic bananas

21. Favorite grocery store?
My husband and I shop together. We live on an island so we only do a major shop every 2 weeks. We mostly shop in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island, a town of about 30,000. We do some of our shopping at the local health food store, Edible Island, but we also shop at (Real Canadian) Superstore (a Canadian chain—it has a good organic section), and Thrifty’s, a local Vancouver Island chain which is good about carrying local and organic produce. We miss the bulk section from Save-On Foods, which closed down here, but when we go to Nanaimo we visit Save-On for bulk organic unbleached sugar and medium bulgur (I can only get fine and coarse in Courtenay). In Nanaimo, we also do some food shopping at Costco, at Fairway Market, which has a lot of Asian foods, and at Man-Lee, which is a great little Asian food store. (Update-- we have a Costco in Courtenay now!)

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
I actually have a whole list of Peruvian recipes I want to veganize (my father was Peruvian). I have veganized about 30 Peruvian recipes so far.

My seitan “Anticuchos”, a Peruvian kebab (Update: recipe in my new book "World Vegan Feast".)

Here’s my list of Peruvian recipes I haven't veganized yet (it’s long and challenging—there may be a book in this!):

Entrada Arequepiña (yellow potatoes with a cheesey walnut-chili sauce on lettuce)
Ocopa de Camarones (Mayonniase of prawns—I need Chinese vegan mock “shrimp” for this, and the mayonnaisey sauce contains cheese, as well as Peruvian herb, huacatay, hot mirasol chilies, onion, garlic, walnuts, oil and milk)
Empanada de Picadillo (little meat pies)
Choclos con Huacatay (corn on the cob with cheese and huacatay)
Salsa de Ocopa Arequipeña (a cheesey sauce with walnuts)
Ayoli (Arequipa sauce—another cheesey sauce with roasted red peppers and garlic)
Llantan (another Arequipa sauce, with yellow hot peppers, huacatay,garlic, onion, bread and cheese)
Arroz con Chancho (rice with pork, chilies, garlic, and peas)
Escabeche de Frijol (Soused Kidney beans—a sort of pickled dish with chilies that contains bacon fat—that’s the veganizing part!)
Butifarra (a special Peruvian sandwich—usually made with ham, it’s made on crusty rolls with vinegared shredded onions, chilies, radishes and lettuce)
Sancochado (a soup that’s almost like a stew, with lots of different vegetables, poptatoes, chickpeas, chunks of corn on the cob, that is traditionally cooked in a meat broth with the meat and served with a sliced onion and chili sauce)
Chicharrones con Camotes (crispy pork ribs with baked sweet potatoes in an onion/chli sauce)
Locro (a Peruvian squash, corn and green pea dish—I have veganized a very simplke version, but I want to veganize the more elaborate cheesey version)
Frijoles Negros en Salsa de Nueces (Black beans in walnut sauce—anoher bean dish made with bacon fat, and also milk and hard-boiled eggs)
Rocotos Rellenos (Stuffed hot red peppers with a ground pork filling with peanuts, green peas, onions, garlic and eggs)
Papas Rellenas (stuffed potatoes, actually more like a stuffed potato dumpling—they are boiled and mashed and then you roll the mashed potatoes around a sort of picadillo filling [ground meat with lives, raisins, onion, garlic, etc.], roll them in flour and fry them.
Pastel de Quinoa (Quinoa Pie—another dish I need Chinese mock shrimp for. It also contains egg and cheese, peanuts, onions, tomato, garlic, lots of chilies.)
Pastel de Choclo (Corn Pie—this contains grated corn on the cob, chopped meat, raisins, olives, onions [the picadillo thing again—very South American], and eggs.
Pastel de Papa (Potato Pie—very full of dairy products!)
Ají de Calabaza (Squash and fava bean stew with yellow chilies, corn, potato, milk, huacatay, and fresh cheese)
Kapche de Hongos (Wild Mushroom Stew with potatoes and cheese and milk, flavored with huacatay)
Tarta de Nueces (Special Walnut Cake—a ground walnut torte with “manjarblanco” (that’s what the peruvians call “Dulce de leche”) filling
Pio Nono (Manjarblanco [Dulce de leche] cake roll)
Cocada (a coconut pudding with wine and cinnamon)
Tamal Verde (small Peruvian tamales made with a chickpea paste and chicken, steamed in corn husks and served with a chili sauce)
Peruvian Humitas (tamales made with a fresh corn mixture rather than with masa, with a chili, cream cheese filling)
Tamal Criollo (large tamales made with a dried corn, chili, garlic and cumin paste, with a pork filling with peanuts and egg, steamed in banana leaf)
Ravioli de Cabrito (Italian-influenced Peruvian dish [there are lots of italians in Peru—my grandmother was of Italian descent] with a wine, onion, garlic, tomato and chili-laced meat filling, served with a key-lime butter sauce)
Solterito Arequipeño (bean salad, with fresh white cheese cubes, with fava beans, corn, chilies, red onions, black olives)
Arroz Chaufa de Pescado (a Chinese-influenced Peruvian dish [Chinese immigrants came to Peru over 100 years ago and have had their influence on the cuisine] of fried rice with fried fish and egg with vegetables)
Carapulca (one of Peru’s most ancient dishes—a casserole stew with dried potatoes and dried meat [charqui], pork onions, garlic, chilies, cilantro and peanuts. The Spanish influences are the crushed cookies, cloves, port wine, and chocolate.)
Turrón de Chocolate (Peruvians love their sweets! This is kind a cross between a cake and a candy [like the Italian Panforte] )

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3?
My friend, Julie Hasson’s blog.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Denman Island Chocolate—hazelnut or espresso are my favorite varieties, but they have orange, mint, and raspberry which are yummy, too. This is a local product, but sold all over North America.

Denman Island Chocolate Buddha:

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?

Fairtrade extra-virgin olive oil at $20 for 500 mL.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
#1) Natto, the slimy, sticky, stinky fermented soybeans in Japanese cuisine. My friend Matsuki was eating it with rice one day and, honestly, I couldn’t even watch him put it in his mouth!

#2) Kombucha— same reaction of utter revulsion. 




Vegan Epicurean said...

Wow, and I thought I had a long list of recipes to veganize. You certainly drive right into the deep end of the pool. Can't wait so see some of your results.


Debra said...

Loved reading this! and the food pics were awesome too!

kittee said...

i had fun reading this, bryanna, even if you don't like kombucha! guess what? we checked out julie's new cart today, it was awesome! i had her mississippi bowl, which was bbq soy curls with coleslaw over rice. very good stuff.

Amanda said...

I loved reading this too! Yum..I need to find some Denman Island chocolate!

Liz said...

Thanks for taking the survey, Bryanna! LOVE hearing your answers. One correction, though:
I created this survey in 2007- But it's been long passed around and lost any link back to my blog. Happy it's still alive!

Liz said...

Whoops- forgot the link!

Spice Island Vegan said...

Hey Bryanna,

How about Cau Cau, Peruvian dish that we like to order from the restaurant in our area? Wow, I can't wait for you to veganize all those Peruvian dishes. I love their dishes.


Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Liz, I will fix that right away and give you credit!

Debbie, I have veganized that already-- I'll post the recipe soon!

ceci said...

Hey Bryanna,
I'm super excited about your venture to veganize all those peruvian recipes. I'm peruvian and for several years I've been trying to get my dad to eat some of my vegan meals for his health. He doesnt like vegetables :( but he loves peruvian food obviously. I can't wait either.
Thank you sooo much,

Søren said...

Great interview, Bryanna. I'd never heard of Natto before ... let's just call it "interesting", hee hee!

shado said...

Re Natto

Yes it's as disgusting as it looks/sounds. I have eaten lots of things in my previous omni life and I thought it couldn't be that bad. Trust me, it is.

Linda said...

Bryanna, that's too funny about natto! I feel the same...It's one of those things I wanted to like because it sounds interesting and nutritious, but can't get past the nauseau it causes by just looking at it :^)

Hugs and Cheers!

Melissa said...

I've been following your blog for quite a while and enjoying your wealth of good recipes. When Foodista announced that they are going to publish the best food blogs in a full color book that will be published by Andrews McMeel Publishing Fall 2010, I naturally thought of you. This recipe would be a good submission! You can enter here:

Editor and Community Developer -- The Cooking Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit

in2insight said...

I have just tried the Anticuchos and they came out fabulously.
Great recipe. Thank you for sharing.