Dec 31, 2012

corned hash

Among the many cultures that have developed their own version of "hash," which means "to chop," we have Northern England to thank for this particular rendition, Corned Hash. Many moons ago, a great way to use up the previous night's dinner of boiled meat, potatoes and vegetables, was to cook it up for breakfast as hash. Not many modern households can boast having leftover boiled meat and potatoes on hand, and even less of those are enlightened households that have access to the boiled meat aspect. 

Hash has come to represent a cohesive mixture of chopped potatoes, vegetables and meat, held together by some liquid and cooked until the potatoes develop some crispness and are golden. 

I have replaced the meat with tofu and seitan, but either works just as well. I boiled the potatoes for just a few minutes before beginning the long process of browning the vegetables and protein.  I kept this very simple, adding only potatoes, onions, garlic, seitan, tofu and spices. While you could add more colorful vegetables, I wanted to make this one as authentic as possible. 

When I say long process of browning, I mean it. It took about 30 minutes to acquire the crispiness on the potatoes that I was looking for, turning the hash every three or four minutes to prevent scorching. I added some Daiya at the end, but I found that it would have been just as good without.

Happy New Year! 


Dec 28, 2012

creamy barley and split pea soup

Winter has finally arrived, although I am sure lots of people would think that happened back in November. According to the astronomical society, the Solstice marks its passage. And since winter begets soup, as evidence by Kathy Patalsky's article, 25 Classic Soups Gone Vegan, indeed if soup season hasn't arrived for you, yet, it is surely bound to. 

The above easy soup may not be all that quick, given that barley and split peas need about an hour to cook, but the prep and coddling are minimal, therefore this soup lands smack dab in the middle of "easy." In addition to the yellow split peas and pearled barley, it boasts zucchini and cauliflower. 

You could very simply substitute whatever vegetables you like or have on hand. I made this soup creamy by adding almond milk after the cooking was complete. Boiled vegan milk breaks and does not make for a good picture, so be warned, simmer to reheat, but skip the boil.

Cost Breakdown

peas and barley: $1
stock, spices: $3
milk: $1
cauliflower, zucchini, onion, carrot: $5

Total to make 8 hearty servings

Dec 23, 2012

biscuits + mongolian seitan

Continuing with Catt's Birthday Week choices, above is a Meat Pie made with broccoli and ground TVP and below that is Mongolian Seitan with green beans. 

The biscuit has had me thinking; whenever I see a commercial for those biscuits in a tube, the result from the oven is a flaky, layered biscuit, one which the happy consumer can effectively tear off layers of goodness. 
I wanted to recreate that effect.

 Over Thanksgiving I was messing with making my own puff pastry, which requires multiple folds of buttered dough. I brought this same technique to biscuit making, rolling the dough out and folding into fourths about a dozen times. This is the same way that puff pastry achieves its many layers, except puff pastry requires a ton more vegan butter and a cooling-off period between each folding occasion.  

This biscuit is a poor-man's puff pastry, in that it uses a lot less butter and there is no cooling period required between folding. If you look at the biscuit in the picture, you will note that indeed this works - the biscuit (with the help of baking powder) rises and you can even peel the individual layers off. 

Mongolian Seitan is deep fried seitan (or TVP) in a garlic-ginger sauce with green onions. I added the green beans because I didn't have enough green onions and I simply wanted to add some veggies to the dish.

Both were very successful and Catt enjoyed her week of meals.

Happy Solstice Everyone! 

Dec 19, 2012

seitan piccata

It is Catt's Birthday Week, so she gets to choose the meals all week long. Naturally, she chose tried and true dishes that she loves, and minimized the vegetables as much as possible. Have I mentioned I have vegetarians who hate vegetables? Vegan, really, but it sounds better with "vegetable" in the description.

Among her favorites, such as Lasagne Bolognese for her actual birthday meal, she has chosen Nachos, Hungarian Layered Potatoes, Reuben (and here is the corned seitan recipe) and Tami's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza from American Vegan Kitchen

 Seitan Piccata is near the top of her list.

It so happens that this is also one of our family's favorite meals, although I haven't blogged about it yet because I kept writing down the recipe incorrectly or not at all.

Piccata is an Italian dish of thinly sliced seitan, dredged and sauteed, then served with a lemon-butter sauce. Traditionally it is dredged in flour and in addition to the pan drippings and broth, the sauce contains capers and white wine. I've altered this from flour to bread crumbs and completely omitted the capers and the white wine. I wanted to make this as simple as possible for the cook (me) and tried to keep the flavors as clean as possible for the kids.

For us this continues to be a favorite, even though my husband dislikes any main meal containing citrus. Odd that he can put away his fair share of this seitan then, but he sure manages to. This is another one of those dishes that I double the original recipe for or risk a table full of grumbling folks.

Cost Breakdown

seitan: $3
Earth Balance, broth, lemon: $2
bread crumbs, spices: $1
potatoes: $4

Total for 4 servings:

Dec 14, 2012

healin' noodle soup

RECIPE UPDATE: this soup has been tested and revised and will be featured in the upcoming cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever.

Tis the season! Flu season! One of my little ones has come down with a bug. When this happens, my first reaction is to make this soup. Other people might reach for the big brand soup in the can, but for us vegans, we tend to insist on something more wholesome than what comes out of such a container, let alone try our damnedest to avoid what goes into it in the first place. 

In fact, over the years, my kids have come to expect this soup when they are feeling under the weather. It takes about 20 minutes to make, including prep time, but it tastes like you've had on the back burner all morning. 

The soup contains about the same simple ingredients as the canned stuff (if you don't include all the unpronounceable ingredients, that is): just carrots, celery, onions, noodles and seasonings. 

Bookmark this page for the next time you need a little pick-me-up. 

Cost Breakdown

pasta: $1
vegetables: $1
seasoning: $.75

Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 13, 2012

cajun tofu over celey root puree

Celery Root makes a delectable, light and airy, puree, one tasting exactly like celery, but without any strings attached, so to speak. The root vegetable can be off-putting because of its thick, wrinkly, outer skin, but considering the amount of time the root spends underground, the thickness and gnarliness makes sense. It is easy to remove the skin using a sharp chef's knife, peeling it as you would a grapefruit or cantaloupe - should the urge strike you to peel one of those fruits. 

Cut away the thick skin, dice the root and then simmer it in almond milk until tender. After pureeing the veggie, it is necessary to pass it though a fine mesh strainer to remove the parts of the skin that your knife will miss cutting out; the root is very wrinkly and the folds of the skin are everywhere. Once you have tackled the peeling, pureeing and straining, it is clear sailing. You can allow the puree to cool and reheat it with no problem, given that there is no starch to gum up your gorgeous velvety puree, unlike with a potato.

I served this unique puree with Cajun Tofu because the spiciness of the seasonings was wonderfully foiled by the subtlety and sweetness of the celeriac. Adding a bit of olive oil on top of the grilled tofu allows the flavors of the spices to meld with the puree and gives the dish that needed richness that one expects from a dish that uses Celery Root Puree.

Cost Breakdown

celeriac: $6
spices, oil, herbs, milk: $2
tofu: $3
green beans: $3
   Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 9, 2012

thom kha soup

RECIPE UPDATE: this soup has been tested and revised and will be featured in the upcoming cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever.

This is a remake of an old favorite - Tom Kha (or Thom Kha) Soup, a Thai coconut-based soup. The last time I posted about making this soup (here), was about two and a half years ago, so I  am thinking it isn't all that repetitious. Besides, I think it gets lost in the blog; a little reminder to give this soup a try is appropriate.

I made this soup last night while a few friends were over and the first comment I heard spoken was how quickly it was done, followed by how pretty the soup was, and lastly that indeed it tasted as good as it looked. In my opinion, I overcooked the broccoli a bit, but didn't mention that. 

Yes, this soup is really quick to make - about 20 minutes in all. And if you have ever had the pleasure of having it in a Thai restaurant (assuming they make it with vegetable broth and not add fish sauce), you will be happy to note that it is an easy to make and quick to prepare soup.

Also of note is that while exotic ingredients such as lemongrass, galanga and kaffir leaves are the ideal ingredients to use, this recipe has alternatives: lemon, ginger and lime. I reassure you, you will be able to achieve the same tangy dish as if you used the ethnic ingredients. 

In addition, you can load the soup with whatever vegetables you have available, although broccoli, mushrooms and carrots are the top choices. Summer squash, green beans, cauliflower, spinach, kale, would all be equally successful.

Cost Breakdown

coconut milk: $3.50
vegetables stock: $3
spices, tamari: $.50
lemon, lime, ginger: $2
vegetables and mushroom: $4

Total to make 8 servings:

Dec 7, 2012

red beans and rice

Popeye's Red Beans and Rice, for me, is a throwback to those long-ago days of being non-vegan. This was my favorite food item on their menu. Smoky deliciousness.

The only thing that makes this non-veg is the source of the smoke flavor: ham hock or sausage, not sure which they use. This is so ridiculously easy to omit; it is a wonder restaurants that use animal products for the so-called flavor of a condiment, are willing to turn away vegetarian customers, for literally, no reason. 

I have recreated this favorite dish of mine. I used smoked paprika and liquid smoke for the required flavor. This is incredibly delicious and healthy - even if you add the optional Earth Balance at the end of cooking, which gives it that extra decadent richness.

Cost Breakdown

rice: $.75
beans: $6
spices: $.50
oils, butter: $.50
Total to make 6 servings:

Dec 3, 2012

omni relatives

This is an unusual post in the sense that I will not be posting anything new.

Due to our constant moving around the country, we are not a big extended-family peoples. Relatives are either too far away geographically or someone is too busy to visit or be visited. Given this, I was a little surprised when my sister-in-law and her husband announced that they would like take a trip up here to spend some time with us, especially since it has been a decade since I've last seen them. 

It was exciting, but a little worrisome; I knew her signification other was a hunter (of animals) and neither of them could throw a stone at vegetarianism, so far on the other side they were. Nevertheless, they brought an open mind and an empty stomach.

My husband and kids were happy to note that there would be great food this long weekend and nary an experiment in sight. In case someone else has some omni family visiting this holiday season, perhaps I can help in the "what will I make them" category. Just for the record, they loved everything and ate like every meal was their last one.
 I'm so proud of them! 

Here is what I cooked for them:

Thursday Dinner: Lima Bean Bake. 

I figured I'd ease them into the veganism and cleanse their palate of meat. It doesn't look or sound like much, but believe me, this is one great meal. The creamy butter beans, the oregano and olive oil, with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe (rapini) and the heartiness of some French bread is a killer in the taste department. It takes 2 hours to bake, but so worth the effort. Ignore the chard and cauliflower on this old photo. I was too busy cooking this past week to take any new pictures.

Friday Lunch: Burger and New England Chowder

I wanted to dive right into the meat substitute world and risk rejection, so I also made the chowder, thinking that if the burger failed, then there would be a back up.
 I worried for nothing. They devoured the burgers and left very little of the chowder to boot!

Friday Dinner: Tater Tot Casserole

Not only did we have our relatives in town, but we also had Kate's friend and his father over for dinner this night. Big on pre-planning, I knew about the additional guests and planned on the Tot Casserole for the kids - this one is a kid-friendly meal and I wanted Kate's friend to be comfortable with the meal. It is also pretty successful with adults.

Saturday Lunch: Benedict and French Toast

Again, because Tofu Benedict is decidedly not poached eggs, I planned on a safe back-up: Isa's Fronch Toast from Vegan With a Vengeance. No pic or recipe for that here (it is in her cookbook), but suffice it to say, it is one of the best vegan French Toast recipes out there. And my Benedict is the best vegan Benedict out there. 
Toot, toot my own horn ;)

Saturday Dinner: Famous "Meat" Loaf

This was good enough for us the first time around, so I thought the relatives would gobble it up. Right, again. I love this meatloaf - it has great flavor and texture, two things you absolutely need a meatloaf to be, let alone one that has no meat in it.

Sunday Lunch: Shawarma

This is the sandwich that I always ordered at Herbivore restaurant in San Francisco. After leaving San Fran., it was imperative that I recreate it. MoFo was the push I needed and this is the sandwich that is a direct result of it, down to the sauteed potatoes, avocado, pickles, sriracha, hummus and tomatoes. Sounds odd as a combination, but the taste is outrageous. They thought so, too. 

   Sunday Dinner: Chicken Fried Steak

Finally, as requested by my hubby, the culmination of their vegan meals was the Chicken Fried Steak. I made the SteaK Seitan for this and grilled the steak before dredging it and frying it. Topped with White Pepper Gravy, served with whipped potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, this was a great finish.

I suppose if I had been the perfect host, a few desserts would have made it to the table, but the extent of sweets were berries and apples. It turns out, they couldn't have added more to their already full bellies by the end of the meals, so no loss there. Good thing, too, since I'm not the dessert queen.

As a recap, I want to point out that I cooked something using all of the meat alternatives at my disposal: beans (limas, chickpeas), seaweed (chowder), mushrooms (chowder), tofu (burger, Benedict, meatloaf), gluten (SteaK, meatloaf, burger) and even commercial meat substitutes (Canadian Bacon, Soy Curls, Gardein), to show the wide range of vegan deliciousness out in the world. Naturally, there was also salad with VA Ranch Dressing, kale, cabbage, avocado, potato, corn, asparagus, broccoli, etc. These people went home full - hopefully in mind and spirit as well.

Happy Holiday Season to ALL.

Nov 27, 2012

stuffed cabbage soup

Tapping into our inner lazy, this soup manifests. Stuffed Cabbage is a Hungarian specialty in which cabbage is rolled around a filling of ground meat and rice, and  is then cooked with sauerkraut and a few tomatoes. 

Since I try to find the fastest way around a boulder of any kind, unless it is a special occasion, at which time I will painstakingly roll said cabbage around stated filling, I decided to make this dish into a soup, at which point I came up with this creative name -
Stuffed Cabbage Soup.

It utilizes all of the main ingredients that are in the stuffed cabbage, including the ground protein, rice, sauerkraut, sour cream and tomatoes. It came out to being a delicious alternative to its more labor-intensive cousin.

Cost Breakdown

TVP (or seitan): $1
sauerkraut, cabbage: $2.50
tomatoes, broth, rice: $2.50
onion, garlic, sour cream: $1
Total to make 5 servings:

Nov 19, 2012

creamy italian polenta pie

This Creamy Italian Polenta Pie is easy to make and really delicious. I made mine very creamy - to the point that it had a little difficulty setting up when cold; if you make this with the intention of having firm polenta, you can use less liquid, about 2/3 c less milk. The added liquid from the diced tomatoes gives the polenta the decidedly un-traditional hue of pink and adds the extra liquid which makes it so creamy. 

In addition to the polenta (cornmeal) and tomatoes, this 'pie' has kidney beans, baby spinach, baby kale, cauliflower, onions and a healthy dose of garlic layered on top.

You can make this, let it sit up and add add cheese and bake it until warmed through and the cheese melts. This is a wholly unnecessary, but delicious, alternative. Otherwise, just serve this as soon as it is assembled. 

Cost Breakdown

polenta, oil, seasonings: $1
milk, tomatoes, beans: $5
cauliflower, onions, baby greens, garlic: $3

Total to make 6 servings:


Nov 12, 2012

annual gyros

It has been well over year since I have made Gyros and I can only delay in making them for the family for the sake of the blog for just so long: "Must make something new!" so goes my mantra.

For all the juicy details of what a Gyro is and my fascinating personal look into the Greek restaurants of Chicago-land, head over to last year's post.

This time around, however, I don't want to bore you with details, and instead only temp you with pictures.

I used the Simple Chicken Seitan Recipe, cooked for 4 hours as a roast instead of cutlets, and sliced it thin. 

Yeah. Still totally great! If you haven't gone here, yet, it is time to book the trip. 

Cost Breakdown

seitan: $2
pita: $2
olive oil, lemon, herbs: $1
yogurt, cucumber: $1.50
tomato, onion, lettuce: $1.50

Total to make 5 servings:

RECIPE UPDATE: this soup has been tested and revised and will be featured in the upcoming cookbook "Everyday Vegan Eats," by Zsu Dever.

Nov 11, 2012

loaded nachos

Back in Texas, before we were vegan, or even vegetarian for that matter, David was supremely fond of Chili con Queso, cheese sauce with chilies. Having grown up near the border, he tends to be particularly fussy regarding Mexican-style food - especially this cheese sauce. 

I have been working on making a cheese sauce that does not utilize commercial brands of cheese such as Follow Your Heart and Daiya and still tastes like cheese; this is just what I have come up with. David was extremely happy and satisfied with this recipe, and if you have fond memories of creamy, velvety, cheese sauce, I encourage you to give this a try. 

The sauce is great as is, but because he was a dedicated fan of the Chile con Queso, I made this version with diced tomatoes and diced chilies. 

 The recipe uses roasted red peppers, which have a tendency to mold before being used all up, so after giving this recipe a try and deciding that it will be a regular meal ingredient, measure out your three tablespoons portions into ice cube containers or just mounded on a cookie sheet. Freeze and move the frozen mounds of red pepper into a freezer bag. Thaw a portion a bit before making a batch of the sauce and you won't again be reaching into your fridge only to find ruined red peppers.

We wound up licking the bowl clean and making it a requirement that the kids learn how to make this in order to ensure them a more delicious future. The sauce is easy enough to make and truly worth the effort.

Cost Breakdown

beans: $2
chips: $3
olives, onions, jalapeno, lettuce, avocado: $2.50
sauce: $2
tomato and chili: $2
Total to make 5 servings:

Nov 10, 2012

sweet and sour thai tofu

Below is a Sweet and Sour Thai Tofu. Thai food is explosive and fiery, while being warming and comforting. I wanted to make a Thai version of the Chinese Sweet and Sour whatever, using Thai ingredients. 

I marinated the tofu in Red Curry Paste, which can be store-bought or easily homemade. While you could deep fry the tofu to achieve a crispy surface texture, I just stir fried it. I also stir-fried some red peppers and pre-steamed green beans and carrots to add some color. The sauce adds the sweet and sour elements: sweet comes from sugar and the sour is from tamarind paste. 

I used a lot of red curry paste, so this dish sang on the tongue for a while after dinner, but that is part of the allure of Thai food for me. You, of course, can be more moderate with the heat. Are you, too, a fan of Thai food?

Cost Breakdown

tofu: $4
green beans, carrots, onions, garlic, pepper: $4.50
red curry and sauce: $1.50
rice: $1
Total for 6 servings:

Nov 2, 2012

green chili + contest winner

We are all familiar with the red version of chili, laden with hearty beans, red chili powder and, typically, a beef alternative such as ground TVP or ground soy. This version is heavy and satisfying, especially come the cold winter days.

My Chipotle Chili below is a great example:

Chipotle Chili

Little known, at least by me, is the lighter, fresher adaptation of the red chili: the White Chili, or sometimes referred to Green Chili or Chili Verde, for all those Spanish speakers out there.

In this chili, instead of beef, chicken is used, instead of red chili powder or chilies, green, fresh chilies are utilized. And, instead of kidney beans, white beans are included.

I decided to green this up something good and used poblanos, Anaheim and jalapeno peppers. I also made use of other essential chili components: green onions, cilantro and lime juice. 

This was so good! And so easy to make with the help of your food processor. The veggies are first sweated (covered and cooked) to allow them to soften, but not get any color, and then the chili, including the rest of the ingredients, are cooked for about 20 minutes.

Serve and devour anytime of the year. In fact, right about now is a good time. 

Do you have a favorite style of chili or, like me, have only been privy to the red one?

Cost Breakdown

peppers: $5
onion, garlic, broth mix: $1
beans: $8
seasoning, lime, cilantro: $1
Total to make 8 servings:

Green Chili

Let's not forget about the drawing for Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! from the Blog Tour Post. There were 58 entries. According to, comment number...7...who is: Cabby! is the winner! Please contact me by tomorrow (Nov. 3) midnight-or-so at veganaide(at)yahoo(dot)com. 
Thanks and congratulations.

For those who didn't win this time, check out the other great bloggers participating in the Blog Tour and have more chances to win. And, well, if you can't wait, go grab your own copy! I promise you won't regret it!

Oct 30, 2012

burger make over

A burger is a must make over for MoFo. I searched for the best burger to Make Over, which led me to the top 10 chain burger places in the U.S. There is the obvious McD's (link is to VegMac), Red Robin (link is to vegan Bruschetta Burger), Burger King and Wendy's. But then the new front runners are In-N-Out Burgers, Five Guys, Culver's and Smashburgers

At the heart of any burger is the burger itself. Therefore, instead of trying to just make a vegan version of a popular burger from a popular burger joint, I decided to make the burger patty itself as the Make Over. 

In past make overs, I have done the VegMac, using Boca burgers sliced in half horizontally... 

... and I have made Red Robin's Bruschetta Burger, with pesto-aioli, balsamic cream and basil salsa and featuring Tami's Incrediburger

Bruschetta Burger

Thanks to Tami and her Food Network Friday challenges, I gave making burger patties myself a try and have come up with my own great version. 

Mesa Grill Burger

I have been perfecting this for the past year and am now proud to launch it! 

First, I am using the thicker version of the patty in an upscale restaurant burger: Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill's signature cheeseburger, loaded with Daiya, grilled vidalia onion and horseradish-dijon sauce.

In-n-Out Burger

Above it is made into thinner patties and is gracing the better version of In-N-Out's Double Double, in which the stacking order is paramount.

That's it for today's "Burgers In and Out of Dives" episode! 

Be sure to enter to win Tami Noyes' and Celine Steen's new cookbook,
Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! contest. Good luck!


Get all the burgers featured in this episode below:

Oct 25, 2012

"vegan sandwiches save the day!" blog tour

Welcome to a stop in the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Blog Tour.

Tami Noyes and Celine Steen, the authors of said book, have given me the privilege of being part of this blog extravaganza. 

Tami blogs at Vegan Appetite and Celine blogs at Have Cake, Will Travel. Check them out!

As some of you may know, I was a tester for this cookbook last summer, and have been screaming from the top of my blog the accolades of it. 
No joke; great book. 

This post contains a list of why this book is so great, an interview with the authors and a contest for a giveaway of a copy of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! 

This should be one exciting post!

The Reasons

This is a fantabulous cookbook to have because:

  • It is written by two excellent chefs. 
  • It contains sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
  • It has all the recipes you need to make anything in the book, including sauces, breads, etc.
  • It has quick sandwiches, travel-friendly sandwiches, potentially gluten-free sandwiches.
  • The sandwiches are made with a variety of fillings: quinoa, bulgar, fruits, veggies, tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, mushrooms.
  • The sandwiches are made with a variety of containers: tortilla, puff pastry, bread, pita, chapati, English muffin, rice paper, lettuce, soy wrap, bagel, fried bread, etc.
  • There are specialty bread recipes: Green Monster Bread, Brioche, Cinnamon Swirl Bread
  • There are traditional sandwiches, unlike you've had before: Reuben, Po' Boy, Falafel, Rachel, Bierocks, BLT, Hummus, Dagwood, Pan Bagnat, etc.
  • There are unique sandwiches, unlike you've had before: Inside-Out Rice-Adilla, Mac-Shroom, Protein-Happy Quinoa Wraps, etc.
  • The pictures are frequent and amazing.
  • The sandwiches are delicious and there are over 100 recipes.
  • The recipes are well written, easy to execute and are visually appealing.
  • The book itself is beautiful. Full color, binding is strong, the pages are thick, the type is clear, the recipes are concise and make sense.


The Interview

Thank you ladies for taking the time to reply to my questions.
 Let's get the ball rolling: 

Give us a little background about yourselves:  
How long have you been veg? 
Where do you live?

Tami: Jim and I have been vegetarian since 1980. We didn't become committed vegans until 2004, although much of the time since 1980 we ate vegan or macrobiotic. 2004 was when we really drew the line. We live in Northeast Ohio, which isn't known for it’s vegan-osity, but I’m very happy to say that things are improving.

Celine: I've been vegan since 2005, and had been an on & off vegetarian for over 10 years before that. I never liked eating meat, eggs, and most dairy, but I stayed for the cheese and thankfully got over that too. I actually went vegan only a few years after moving to California, and love how available (and somewhat affordable) veg-friendly products are here.

How did Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! come about?

Tami: Celine and I have been online friends for years. After coming up with the theme, Celine and I were emailing and I hinted at her as a co-author. Celine jumped on-board immediately and I was thrilled!

Succinctly, sum up the types of recipes in VSSD?

We’ve got traditional sandwiches, crazy sandwiches, and base recipes to make them happen. How's that for succinct?

Which is your favorite recipe or sandwich in VSSD?

Tami: Wow, that’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to go with the One World Reuben. My love of reubens is well-documented.

Celine: I'll hurt the feelings of too many sandwiches if I answer that, so I'll tell you which one is my husband's favorite instead; he constantly asks me to make the Carnitas sandwich.

Which is your favorite recipe authored (or one begun) by your co-author?

Tami: Navajo Tacos.

Navajo Tacos

Celine: Tami's From Russia With Love. There are so many great and well-paired up flavors packed in there, I make this one more often than any other.

From Russia with Love

How did you come up with the names of your seitan dishes? (Moo-Free, No Cluck)

Tami: That takes more thought than you’d think! Some people find the usual animal terms, such as “beefy” or “chickeny” put off-ish. So we wanted something that hints at how to use them, but in a far more friendly way.

Do you feel there is a balance between seitan, tofu and tempeh-based recipes and vegetable-based recipes?

Tami: As a fluke, Celine and I did the exact same number of recipes for the book! When we first started brain-storming, we discussed approaches. Celine’s approach is more bean/vegetable/fruit based, where I lean more toward the tempeh/tofu/seitan fillings. So the balance just kind of happened.

What is your favorite thing about your co-author?

Tami: So many things! If I had to say just one thing, I guess it would be that Celine is honest and forthright. When my ideas suck, she gently tells me. And she’s right.

Celine: Her open-mindedness to ideas and suggestions, and her easy-going attitude. That's two favorite things, oops.

What are the differences in your cooking styles?

Tami: I think our cooking styles are actually similar, although Celine is more of a baker than I am. We do have different skills that we bring to a project. Besides the photography (obviously), Celine brings a lot of insight into the look of the book. She’s also a better proof-reader than I am. I feel that coming up with ideas is one of my strengths, like the idea for the book.

Celine, how did you get into photography and what background or training do you have?

     Celine: I only picked up an old camera donated by my dad when I started writing a food blog once I went vegan,so that's about 7 years ago? I switched to a better DSLR a few years after that since I enjoyed photography so much, and have been teaching myself ever since. 

Tami, there is a recipe in VSSD named after your husband, Jim. How did the “Jimwich” come about? What was Jim’s inspiration?

Tami: When we start brainstorming for a book, I become very fixated. I carry a little notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down ideas when they come. Some are keepers, and some aren’t. We were riding in the car and I had my little notebook out and just popped the question. Jim knew he wanted barbecue sauce and pickles, then he took both to the next level: barbecued onions and fried pickles. The bbq onions are a natural fit with the seitan. Jim is also convinced every sandwich needs lettuce and tomato.

How did you get into cooking, how long have you been at it and what background do you have?

Tami: The only cooking training I had was in macrobiotics. Back in the 80s, I assisted in macrobiotics classes. I’ve left all that far behind now. I also did some baking for a local vegan cafĂ©, and loved it. I did some cooking there, too. Otherwise, I worked as a server in omni restaurants.

Celine: I used to bake and cook with my mom, starting when I was a kid. I've accumulated a few skills from reading cookbooks and food magazines pretty much nonstop, and even watching food shows on TV. Just like photography, I have no formal training; whatever skills I have are mostly self-taught and also intuitive.

Do you have any pet peeves regarding sandwiches or sandwich making? Are there any tips or hints you can offer your readers?

Tami (and Celine!): Avoid soggy bread at all costs. Pack the parts independently and put it together only when you’re ready to eat.

Do you have a favorite recipe that didn’t make it into the book? Would you share it?

Tami: One of my recipes didn’t make it because of the length, but it’s a crazy good sandwich. It’s the Jibarito and it’s on my blog. 

Jibarito Recipe Link  

Do you have any companion animals? Would you share a pic?

Tami: We have two rescue love kitties: Sadie and Cleo. We’re always on the bubble about adopting kitty number 3.



Celine: Two rescue cats for us too, Willow and Buffy. 

Buffy and Willow

That concludes the interview! 
Thank you, Celine and Tami, for sharing!

The Giveaway

Last, but not least, the publisher wants to send someone a copy of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! They will ship to US and Canada.

All you need to do is comment and check back next Friday, November 2, to see if you've won. If you have won (as selected by, you will have 24 hours to claim your prize!

Good luck!