Saturday, October 27, 2012


Best Blog Tips

This post is going to be a quickie, as I'm belatedly making the components tonight for a lasagna to bring to our friends' house where we're going to lunch tomorrow. I also decided to make this recipe with frozen rhubarb (the first year we've grown any) to bring for dessert, so I thought I'd share it with you. I developed them back in 2007 for my old newsletter, the Vegan Feast. These whole grain bars are easy to make, easy to store and easy to transport, so they're an excellent choice for taking along to a potluck or shared meal. Though scrumptious any time of the year, these bars are a perfect fall dessert-- delicious hot or cold with vanilla vegan ice cream (like my Vegan French Vanilla Ice Cream) or whipped topping (here's my Almond Cream Whipped Topping).  I think you'll like them!

Printable Recipe

Makes 9 bars

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rolled (old-fashioned) oatmeal
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or other nuts of choice
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold vegan butter (such as my homemade palm oil-free Buttah), cut into small pieces
3 Tbs organic corn syrup, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup
3 cups diced rhubarb
2/3 cup light granulated organic sugar
2 Tbs orange juice concentrate
2 Tbs water mixed with:
4 tsp cornstarch
grated zest from 1/2 a large organic orange
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract     

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Oil a 9-inch square baking pan.

Combine the flour, oats, nuts, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the vegan butter  and drizzle in the syrup.  Mix until crumble, using your fingers.  Pat half the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Set aside the rest.

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, and the orange juice concentrate and water mixed with the cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture is thickened.  Pour it into a bowl to allow it to cool slightly, and add the orange zest and vanilla.  Spread this Filling evenly over the crust in the pan.

Sprinkle the remaining crumbled mixture over the rhubarb mixture evenly.  Press down slightly.
Bake for 30 minutes.  Serve hot or store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 307.6 calories; 44% calories from fat; 15.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 280.0mg sodium; 249.2mg potassium; 42.4g carbohydrates; 1.4g fiber; 38.6g sugar; 1.8g protein, 7.2 points.


Friday, October 19, 2012


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Quick and Easy Vegan Spaghettata

Yesterday was one of those days when I didn't know what I was going to make until the last minute.  (This seems to be happening more frequently than it used to-- I blame the computer!) In the late afternoon, after scrubbing the shower and hanging up the new shower curtain and liner, I had made the last of two versions of vegan popovers/Yorkshire Puddings (my cooking quest of the moment) I made that day (both just okay-- the quest goes on), plus some of my homemade mayonnaise.  Suddenly, it was 6 PM and "what to make for dinner"!

(A small digression: I'm in the cooking doldrums lately, which is partly why I haven't been blogging much.  The other reason is that I've been very busy planning for a fund-raising event, which took up much of my time.  The event was last Saturday and was successful, but I was exhausted, to tell you the truth. A couple of days of doing almost nothing, plus alot of catch-up to accomplish in the house and elsewhere, has not yet resulted in a burst of creativity in the kitchen-- though I seem to have revived interest in the vegan popovers again. This is probably a good sign.)

In this sort of situation, I open the fridge and peer in, looking for things that need to be used.  Usually, this will inspire me to come up with a fast, edible improv dish, or remind me of a recipe I've made before which is worth repeating.  This time I remembered the bunch of beautifully fresh spinach we had bought the day before.  You have to use that up pretty quickly.  I had been thinking before that a pasta dish of some sort might fill the bill for dinner, but I hadn't settled on anything, so this led me to wonder about pasta+spinach+?? for a quick, full-meal-deal. (This type of pasta dish, BTW,  is known as "spaghettata" in Italy-- a sort of Italian version of what my late husband Wayne's Irish grandmother called "bread-and-with-it".)  Fresh oregano in the garden, fresh mushrooms (also purchased the day before), a little white wine needing to be used up... the result was the following dish, which my husband declared "one of the best pasta dishes I've eaten in a long time"!

I opted to add strips of browned President's Choice (made by Gardein) PC Blue Menu The World's Best Meatless Seasoned Chicken Breast (a Canadian brand).  My husband thought that was the least interesting part of the dish and said it could easily be left out without losing anything, so I've added that, or any favorite vegan chicken-y alternative, as an optional ingredient.  My cutlets from my newest book, World Vegan Feast (or "Breast of Tofu"  in my other books or at this post), or Soy Curls, or whatever is your favorite chicken sub.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as DH did!

Printable Recipe


Serves 4

12 oz. spaghetti (made with durum semolina-- for GF, use a good one with some "bite", such as quinoa pasta) 

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, or 1/2 a medium onion, thinly-sliced
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) mushrooms (any kind-- white button is fine)
2 large cloves garlic, minced (or more, according to your taste)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed, spun dry and thinly-sliced (or 8 cups packed baby spinach)-- this will cook down considerably so don't worry that it's too much! 
1/3 cup white wine, dry white vermouth, or dry sherry
1/2 cup good tasting vegan chicken-style broth (my favorite is Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken)
1/2 cup or so of shredded vegan mozzarella 

To serve: your favorite vegan parmesan (Go Veggie! or EarthIsland/Follow your Heart are good brands)

salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

OPTIONAL: Sliced vegan "chikn brest" or "chickn strips"  (Alternatives:  my cutlets from my newest book, World Vegan Feast (or "Breast of Tofu"  in my other books or at this link), or Soy Curls, or whatever is your favorite chicken sub.

Put a big pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook for 9-10 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain and set aside.  NOTE: you can be preparing the rest of the dish while the water boils and the pasta cooks.

If you are going to use the vegan chicken sub option, brown your choice in a little olive oil, cut into thin strips and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat.  Add the onions and stir-fry until they start to wilt (add a squirt of water every now and then, as needed to keep from sticking).  Add the garlic, mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle with a little salt to release the juice. Stir-fry until the mushrooms begin to cook.
Start adding the sliced spinach one handful at a time and stirring until it wilts before adding another.  This will go pretty fast.  Then, add the wine, broth, vegan mozzarella and optional vegan "chicken" strips, if using. Mix quickly, but gently.
Quickly add the cooked pasta and toss the mixture with a spaghetti rake and a spoon to mix evenly and to re-heat the pasta.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately in heated pasta bowls with the vegan parmesan.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Best Blog Tips
From center L around the front, L to R: Tofu pot pie;  traditional sage and onion bread stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce with port and orange; No-Knead  Fluffy Hazelnut/Bran Dinner Dinner Rolls;  vegan brown gravy;
Back: sauteed Brussels sprouts with homegrown yellow patty-pan squash and red pepper; seitan turkey; Fireweed's mashed Denman island potatoes; roasted red beets and golden beets with olive oil and za'atar
(Not shown is Fireweed's delicious Gazpacho starter course, which we had already devoured; my Smoked Tofu Cheese Spread appetizer, which I had developed for an article in Alive Magazine; and the roasted sweet potatoes, which I forgot to put on the table until after we had taken pictures!)

We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends on Sunday night.  I found it one of the most relaxing Thanksgivings in a long time, since we only had 9 of us (as opposed to around 18!) and I cooked most of the more complicated stuff (or the components) the day before.  I even had time to go for a walk on the beach in the wonderful autumn sun with DH, 3 granddaughters and Pheobe the dog in the afternoon!  It was great spending the day with them (and some time with 3 more granddaughters at breakfast), spending time with friends we don't seem to see very often, and welcoming daughter Sarah back from completing the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, beating her time from last year! (My daughter-in-law Amber ran in the same marathon (her 1st) and they had very similar finish times.)

I am thankful for my husband and partner Brian, best Grampa to my beautiful grandchildren, Levon, Savannah, Kate, Zoe, Hannah, Faith, Mariah, Cleo and Logan; and for my wonderful children, Bethany, Sarah, Justine and Tim, and their partners and co-parents, Parker, Ben, George and Amber. I'm thankful for my stepsons Sean and Laurence, plus Brian's brood of Lamarre stepchildren (Patsy, Mimi, Kathy, Tommy, Pierre, and Baba) and their families. I'm thankful for my super-sister, Karin and her husband Allen, and the best brother ever, Tim, and his wife Louise, and  my lovely nieces and nephew, and a wonderful, large open-minded extended family on all sides!  I'm thankful to have had my beloved parents, Alejandro Jaime Urbina and Eve Tonge Urbina, both now passed on. I'm thankful to be in contact with a half-sister from whom Karin and I have been separated by many, many miles and complicated circumstances for all of our lives.  I'm thankful for the beautiful, peaceful place in which we are privileged to live and the bounty on my vegan table. I'm thankful for good, intelligent, playful, and kind friends.  I'm thankful for good neighbors.  I'm thankful for my companion animals, Sadie and Ringo the cats, and Pheobe the dog.  And for so much more!

More photos of our feasting (photos by Fireweed, mostly):

From center L around the front, L to R: Traditional sage and onion bread stuffing and my seitan "turkey", stir-fried Brussels sprouts, home-grown yellow pattypan squash and red peppers; roasted red beets and golden beets with olive oil and za'atar; tofu pot pie; my homemade palm-oil-free vegan Buttah; vegan brown gravy; mashed Denman Island potatoes brought by my friend Fireweed.

"Yours truly" carving the seitan "turkey", stir-fried Brussels sprouts, home-grown yellow pattypan squash and red peppers
Top: Roasted red beets and golden beets-- the red ones sprinkled with balsamic vinegar; the golden with rice vinegar; both drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with za-atar herb mix.
Bottom: sauteed Brussels sprouts with yellow patty-pan squash and red pepper

L to R: Tofu pot pie, traditional sage and onion bread stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce with port and orangeNo-Knead Fluffy Hazelnut/Bran Dinner Dinner Rolls

Traditional sage and onion bread stuffing and my seitan "turkey"  
 The dessert table-- L is a new (divine) Flourless Chocolate Cake by my friend and fellow author Betsy DiJulio (recipe here) that I was testing for her. 2 of my vegan Pumpkin Pies (recipe here [I use only 3 tablespoons cornstarch now]), and a bowl of whipped Mimicreme. (At the link to Betsy's cake recipe is a fabulous, lowfat, easy homemade vegan whipped cream recipe!)
See the accidental stylized vegan "V" symbol at the top (composed of a swirl in the filling mixture and a crack after baking)?
New (divine) Flourless Chocolate Cake I tested for Betsy DiJulio, author of the wonderful book, The Blooming Platter Cookbook, and a slice of vegan pumpkin pie with Mimicreme. 


Friday, October 5, 2012


Best Blog Tips

I feel so badly that I can't participate in Vegan Mofo this year!  But, it's just not  feasible for me this year, as I am organizing a fund-raising event, which is taking up alot of time and energy. Next year!

But, we still have to eat, and I had some nice pears to use up.  I decided to make some muffins with them, and, before I had thought of pear muffins, I had been been considering making some corn bread.  This led me to an idea for pear muffins made with some cornmeal.  And then I thought adding some of my favorite organic candied ginger (it has some real zing to it!) would be nice, and why not a handful of pecans for good measure?  The results were excellent-- good enough to share with you.  They would make a wonderful breakfast muffin because they are whole grain, substantial, and rather rustic, but not heavy or overly-sweet.

Makes 12

Dry Mix:
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (do not substitute all-purpose whole wheat flour for pastry flour)—
can be white whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated unbleached organic sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Wet Mix:
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons golden flax seed
2 teaspoons lemon juice with
     soy milk, hemp milk, or nut milk to make 1 cup
3 tablespoons oil
Zest of 1 medium organic lemon
Ginger Mix:
3/4 cup organic candied ginger, cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 large pear, cored and cut in 1/4-inch dice (peel only if not organic or skin is tough or unsightly)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
12 pecan halves
brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375ºF and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with oil from a pump-sprayer.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the water and flax seeds in a blender and blend until the mixture is thick and “gloppy”.  Add the curdled nondairy milk, oil and lemon zest and blend until smooth.

Add the ginger, pear and pecans to the Dry Mix in the bowl and toss to coat them with the flour mixture.  Pour in the Wet Mix and stir briefly just to mix.  Do not over-mix.

Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle the top of each muffin with a little brown sugar and insert a pecan half sideways into the middle of each muffin, leaving half of the pecan showing.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester or a toothpick comes out clean.

Place the muffin pan on a cooling rack and leave for 10 minutes, then loosen the muffins gently with a table knife and remove carefully from the pan.  Serve warm.

Warm muffins with some of my homemade vegan palm-oil-free Buttah