Thursday, March 6, 2008

Testing Testing

It's March already, and we are ready for Spring! Already the flowers are beginning to bloom and the grass is green here. And next week is our Spring Break, but it will be a busy one. We have TONS of catching up to do in our class work and studying for exams and such.

We also are going to complete our Food Insecurity Project in our Community Nutrition class. For 5 consecutive days, we have to plan and eat meals to stay within a budget of $3.28/day (so total $6.56/day for both of us and only $16.40 for grocery shopping for the 5 days). The reason for this project is to experience what people who are on Food Stamps experience and to gain an appreciation for the hardships that food insecure people face. It will be a challenge, but we think it will be a great experience. We have to write a journal on our feelings about it, if we got hungry, our ability to stay within the budget, any frustrations, etc. We'll let you know how it goes!

**Side note - click here to donate food for free

So onto the food - we've done quite a few testings of recipes from various sources - Get Sconed, Veganomicon, Dreena Burton, and other online recipe postings. We've also tested a few new food products.

First off - creamy, sweet, and spiced African Sweet Potato Peanut Stew! Our all-time new favorite soup (along with our Black Beans Soup). We found the recipe online here, and we didn't change it much. Some of our own modifications include: only 3/4 an onion, only 1/4 tsp ground ginger, more cayenne, a no-salt added veg bullion and water instead of vegetable broth, almond butter as the nut butter, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds in each serving instead of chopped peanuts.

It was quicker and easier to already have precooked the diced sweet potatoes (just cooked them in the microwave a day before). The spices were in the right proportion, except we added more cayenne because we like it spicy! We pureed half of it and let half chunky to give a nice texture. The almond butter made it heavenly, and overall it was creamy and heavenly to eat! Other variations could be to use black beans, cilantro, corn, and mexican spices, or a curry variation with garbanzos. Lots of leftovers to enjoy!

We also tried Get Sconed's Adapted Version of the New Farm Macaroni and Cheez. We used crackers instead of bread crumbs for the topping, and we actually liked lots of them to make the macaroni drier. We wanted to try a creamy mac version just because we haven't had it in years, but mac and cheese was never a favorite dish, and after trying this, we realized that we never really cared much for it. We always liked our mac and cheese dry, and this we really creamy - too creamy with a thick pasty consistency. Next time we want a creamy pasta, we'll do a mushroom cream sauce or make a creamy pasta salad. We served this with kale which made it better.

Today we tested the Veganomicon Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli Rabe, though we had swiss chard and had red quinoa instead of pasta. We've really only had tempeh twice before and we wanted to give it a try again. We'll, we won't make this dish again, but we are eager to use tempeh in a tempeh salad reminescent of chicken salad (see here). As for this meal, fennel is a unique flavor and it was too strong and kind of tasted like sausage flavoring. And tempeh is slightly bitter, but it was better mixing swiss chard with the tempeh and then having a bite of swiss chard with the tempeh to mellow out the flavor.

This week we also tried turnips! We chopped it up and cooked it in the microwave until soft, and then mashed it. The turnips were quite good and easy to make, and even eaten raw it was spicy like radishes. We are eager to try them again, and perhaps in salads.

For part of the week, the weather was sunny and warm - perfect for a Black Bean Taco Salad. Black beans, organic cherry tomatoes, organic romaine lettuce, some sunflower seeds, Guiltless Gourmet Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips, a little salsa, a homemade lime dressing, and homemade guacamole. A perfect meal for Texas summer days. The lime dressing was awesome - we just used fresh lime juice, some garlic, and some cayenne. And the guacamole was awesome and creamy - we used creamy avocadoes, some garlic powder, and some cayenne. We also had corn on the cob, which has been really fresh and sweet even though it's probably not in season.

We briefly went home last Saturday to see Michael Buble in concert with our family (which he sounded just like in his albums, though he was a little too entertaining with some dirty jokes that we did not appreciate)(Naturally 7 also performed and they were awesome - beautiful harmonies, check them out). Anyways, we brought our family some Fresh Blueberry Lemon Oat Squares, recipe from Dreena Burton. Overall it was pretty good, though we should have used a larger square pan, because the bottom crust was thick. Also the crust was a little too gummy, so next time we'll make it thinner and use some oil or something to make it more crispy. And there needs to be more lemon flavor - in the blueberries and the crust.

... So, see tomorrow's post on testing food products - we'll have product reviews of the newest foods we've tried! And check out "Our Original Recipes" on our blog - we've updated the site and now the recipes are posted individually for easy view. Enjoy!

Our favorite Wheat Biscuits but with cinnamon!

- LK


Vegan_Noodle said...

I will certainly be interested to hear how the food insecurity project goes. Probably very eye opening.
Looks like you've been trying lots of yummy new stuff! Keep trying tempeh... it took me a few tried to figure out how I liked it.

Anonymous said...

I wondered if the wheat biscuits (with cinnamon) is one of your own recipes?
They look good!

LK said...

Hi Anonymous:

The biscuits are one of our own recipes, and one of our favorite things to eat! We've tried a savory version, a regular wheat version, and a cinnamon version. The variations are endless - you could add maple syrup to make it maple, etc.

We've posted the recipe - see Our Original Recipes on the side to go to LK's Whole Wheat Biscuit Recipe! Enjoy!