Vegan Photo Albums

'Dem Belly Full but We Vegan (Vegan Photo Album 1)

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (sampled by yours truly)

Broccoli and Sweet Potato Soup with Matzo

One Love Corn Soup (my preparation of the famous recipe)

Argentinian Red Bean and Vegetable Stew

Mixed Lentil Dhal with Quinoa

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars

Whole Wheat Bread

Swiss Chard Leaves with Bulgur Wheat

Broccoli and Peanut Stir Fry (in all its green glory)

Broccoli and Peanut Stir-Fry with Brown Basmati Rice and Roasted Potatoes

Miso Soup

Veggie Tempura

Peanut Butter Cups

Savoury Swiss Chard Pie (another view)

Savoury Swiss Chard Pie with Brown Basmati Rice and a glass of Diablo (juice from red pepper, carrots, celery, hot sauce)

Jerk Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

Pecan-Crusted Seitan with Rustic Pasta

Bajan Stew with Dumplings

Vegan Sausage

Vegan Ham

Vegan Beef Patty with Mushroom Salad

You Know You Want Some (Vegan Photo Album 2)
In April 2011, I posted my first vegan photo album Living La Vega(n) Loca showcasing a cornucopia of dairy-, egg-, and meat-free scrumptious goodness. I had fun cooking those dishes and discovering a wide variety of flavour. My March-introduction to veganism was filled with tantalizing dishes such as Jerk Pizza, Jamaican Meat-free Patties, and Veggie Tempura. I decided to stick with veganism the more I became inspired and informed about animal rights, the preventive cancer benefits of plant-based diets, and ecological and ethical benefits. It felt like a good decision which I still stand by.

I enjoyed preparing every meal for the first Vegan photo album. And even before I started this blog, I began to photograph the foods I prepared or encountered. I admire beautiful food. The colours, textures, tastes, and aromas... I even love the atmosphere socially of when food is consumed. And because food is unlike art, meant to be devoured hence temporary, I take pictures to preserve their memories making them all the more precious. Some of my friends saw the blog and remarked on the tasty looks of these dishes. My fiance enjoys eating most of the dishes and being my test guinea pig. He says that I'm becoming quite the vegan chef. (I love it when he says this.)

I enjoy sharing food that I have prepared with other people but I do not entertain often. A highlight for me this past year was organizing a Kwanzaa party for my students and their families where they had mostly organic and all vegan corn soup, cornbread, and sugar cookies which the children decorated with coloured icing, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. That day, I also watched my students try a new food for most of them, njera (an Ethiopian sourdough flatbread) with lentil stew. The children eagerly gobbled up this cultural vegan dish using their fingers to break the njera and sop it up. I continue to daydream of preparing and sharing these nutritious meals with other people and essentially feeding people. My foray in veganism has definitely increased my affection for real wholesome food and appreciation for organic farming, farmer's markets, food co-ops, sustainability and activism.

I also appreciate my ability to enjoy food a lot differently now. Recently, I had to go on the Low Iodine Diet (LID) and eliminate all iodine products which also includes any food that lists salt as an ingredient. This includes milk, dairy products, seaweed (e.g., kelp), tofu, canned foods and sauces, eggs, most breads, most desserts, fish, seafood, and many meats (that are injected with broth). Being vegan and eating LID while "going hypo" was extremely challenging. I had to prepare and freeze some meals so if I was at my worst from "going hypo", I would have the ease of reheating food. It was difficult to deal with the blandness of most LID foods. Even though, I was permitted to use Windsor coarse salt (since it was not iodized), I grew a distaste for some of having to prepare so many bean and lentil stews. (I have some of these frozen dishes still in my freezer.) Also, my ability to taste foods had been temporarily diminished due to the radiation treatment I received. My appetite is still mostly gone since my radiation so I am not getting a growling stomach or the feeling of hunger. However I still value and enjoy preparing, smelling, tasting, and eating delicious vegan stew.

Here is the second installment of my vegan photo album. You will notice that this time I have written a little bit about preparing these dishes.

Thai Pineapple Rice (to go) from Tropical Vegan Kitchen
Amazingly tasty and quick to prepare. This recipe tasted amazing even in this container. This meal has a simple list of ingredients which include green onions (which I took from sprouted onions), currants, grated carrot, and, of course, pineapple.

Curried Spinach and Peas in Coconut Milk over Basmati Rice from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
A great way to use up a whole bag of spinach, too bad that it wilts so easily though. (I love spinach so much.) This dish has a great taste as the coconut milk makes it slightly creamy however the dish does not reheat well since the spinach really does shrink. Also, make sure you use brown jasmine rice. The white rice does not do this dish justice and is a lot less healthy.

Pumpkin Bread from The Kind Diet
This photo reminds one to never fill your loaf pan all the way to the top with batter. That's what I did, wishfully thinking that the batter would all fit, the loaf would not rise, and I'd have a perfect loaf. Nope! All that batter you see spilling over the edge continued during the entire baking process. I opened the oven every few minutes or so with a spoon to catch the run off batter and eat it. (Ugh! I at too much.) Even though this was my 2nd time round at baking this bread, I learned a new lesson. This was my second go at baking this bread. The first time in March, I was not sure if the soft pumpkin was cooked so I baked the bread for 3 hours!!! Needless to say, the crust did not char too much, but the center was very mushy and pumpkin-y. Second time round, I learned my lesson and only baked this loaf for one hour. Nevertheless, it is still very mushy in the middle which is because it is so rich with pumpkin-y goodness. I also used different types of carob chips-- the "melty" kind.

Tropical Whole Grain Muffins from The Vegan Kitchen
When was the last time you ever had coconut, mango, kiwifruit, bananas, and pineapple in a muffin? Well then you've got to try these totally tasty, mouthwatering muffins. My fiance loved these. The muffins were totally moist and slightly grainy. I used spelt flour as well as cornmeal to give it a nice gritty texture. They froze really well and were great for breakfast or snack.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas with Kiwifruit Salsa and Tomato Guacamole both from The Vegan Kitchen
This was my very first time making quesadillas and what an amazing filling of sweet potato and black beans. This meal was so light and the kiwifruit salsa so sweet and spicy. This guacamole recipe was originally written for tomatillo which is a type of fruit. I couldn't get them, so I made it with tomato. The first time I made this guacamole was a charm. My fiance loved this guacamole the first time. The texture and ripeness of the avocadoes needs to be just right. The second time I made it, the onions were to largely cut and dominated the dish so be extra careful. Chop the onions finely.

Alicia's Magical Healing Soup from The Kind Diet
This soup was very quick to prepare and very simple. I also added some of my own touches including bok choy. My fiance and I had this soup when we were both a little under the weather. There is Chinese radish (daikon) in this soup which is this big huge white carrot of a looking vegetable. It has a bit of a distinct smell but among the other ingredients like watercress and ginger, it toned down. This magical soup really is filled with anti-cancer goodness such as mushrooms, leeks, and broccoli. Yes, that's a spring roll on the side but I did not make that from scratch. The meal was amazing though.

Bengali-Style Black-Eyed Peas with Mushroom over Basmati Rice from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
This dish was very easy to prepare. I love black-eyed peas and it is always nice to try them another way. I don't know how authentic this dish is but having curried black-eyed peas worked. I use brown basmati rice to make sure I am getting more nutrients and fibre. Very tasty indeed.

Roasted Vegetables in African Peanut Sauce with Fufu from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
This is the food photographed on my fiance's plate. It just looked more appetizing on his plate than on my plate. Fufu is a West African staple food made from a type of flour. For this recipe, I used cocoyam fufu flour. The texture of fufu is similar to mashed potatoes and can be eaten with fingers (traditional) or with a fork. (I did both.) The stew is amazing. The roasted vegetables added a touch of sweetness to thick, spicy peanuty stew. I had leftover stew that week and ate it with toast. Very yummy!

Aussie-Style Fettuccine with Basil-Macadamia Pesto from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
This was my very first dish cooked from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen cookbook which I borrowed from the public library. This dish was so light, fresh, and tasty. This was also my first pesto and it did not want for parmesan cheese. I didn't even use fake, soy "parmesan cheese". There was lots of basil though. The macadamia nuts are a little pricey and need to be kept refrigerated but were alright in this recipe.

Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas with Chipotle Sauce from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
Amazing dish from this gem of a cookbook. Like the fetuccine and quesadillas, this dish did not want for cheese. In fact, the spices and the amazing chipotle sauce made up for that. Since I went to the local gringo supermarket to purchase the ingredients for this dish, I could not find chipotle sauce so I bought Herdez chipotle salsa instead. (Salsameans sauce in Spanish.) So I guess it was close enough.

What a beauty! Love me some steamed spinach.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse from the internet
This recipe sounded amazing and the finished product was pretty tasty. Paired with some fresh strawberries and you have some amazing stuff.

Just look at it.

But this is what it started as. First, you combine cocoa powder with avocadoes. Make sure you use ripe avocadoes, very ripe ones, or else you'd spend half the time like my fiance and I chipping at it and chopping it up in the blender. Plus, the mousse was mostly mousse but had tiny chunks of unripe avocado in it. Nevertheless, you have yourself healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamins and minerals. Plus, it is made with agave nectar which is anti-inflammatory and lowers your glycemic index which is both anti-cancer and anti-diabetes. That's power, baby!

Thai Coconut-Noodle Soup with Lemongrass from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
This soup was very heavy on the veggies and not so much the soup. I expected more of a taste reminiscent of what I had at Thai restaurants. However there were tastes of slight lemons and ginger. I am not too much a fan of broccoli but I do like it cooked up in soup like this. I used organic red jasmine rice vermicelli which meant the noodles were heavier than the white vermicelli. My fiance really liked this soup with red spicy Thai Sriracha sauce. Lemongrass is a straight leaf-type of plant. It reminds me of bamboo. I didn't need to buy this since my mother had given me a bag full of Jamaican lemongrass called "fever grass". Fever grass is the same as Thai lemongrass and is used in Jamaica locally for healing. She said that it would help with the cancer.

Pad Thai Vegetarian Noodles from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen
I love Thai food. The perfect combinations of sweet and spicy are unmatched in other cuisines. I like this recipe because it is vegetarian which means it does not use fish sauce (which is typically used in pad thai recipes). I am allergic to fish anyway and vegan so the sauce is made with other things. I used rice fetuccine noodles which lie flat like pad thai noodles. However, if I were to make this dish again, I would soak the noodles in boiling water a lot longer. Let's say that some noodles were very dente (crunchy) but the dish was still tasty.

Topped with peanuts!

Ackee Scramble from Caribbean Vegan
I love ackee! With ackee and saltfish being Jamaica's national dish, my mother made it often for Christmas morning and sometimes at other times. Being allergic to fish, I got my ackee fish-free. My mother would fry it and cook it with onions and black pepper, but I lost out on the full picture. Not any more! This ackee scramble is vegan which means I can eat it. And instead of fish, I use my own homemade vegan jerk sausages. I like to use cherry tomatoes and there is one piece of scotch bonnet pepper to give the ackee some kick. Also, I topped it all of with crumbled kelp (seaweed) to add more anti-cancer goodness. Ackee is a fruit which was brought over to Jamaica from West Africa during the slave trade. It grows and is poisonous until the fruit is ripe and has opened up to reveal black seeds and a yellow flesh. It looks like scrambled eggs and some say it tastes like a combination of scrambled egg and custard. I don't think so. I just think it tastes good. I think you either like ackee, or you don't. (My fiance doesn't.) You can buy ackee in a tin can in Caribbean foodstores. In Canada, it usually costs about $ 6 but in the U.S. it costs twice as much. This Jamaican breakfast can be served with toast.

And la Piece de la Resistance: Vegan Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie from the internet
In my Good Food Box, I received some rhubarb. Rhubarb is a strange "fruit". It is technically a vegetable with a tart taste. It is also supposed to have some healing properties. It looks like a red celery except the leaves are poisonous. I have never cooked or worked with a rhubarb before so I was extra cautious. I didn't understand this poison thing. But I figured that the grocers would not sell a poisonous food (like the ackee). My fiance suggested (actually begged me) to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. I found this recipe here. I made this recipe over a few days. First I made the dough and left it wrapped in the refrigerator for two days, until I could get enough time to finish the pie. Then I rolled it out and spread it. It contains vodka which is supposed to keep it moist.

Then I washed and chopped about 5 cups each of organic rhubarb and strawberries. But then I left them to go to my support group.

By the time I got home, there was a lot of liquid that sunk to the bottom of the bowl, so I spooned out the fruit and placed it into the pie "shell". It was not a shell yet. It was pie crust dough pressed into the pan.

Then I rolled out the other piece of pie crust dough and placed it on top of the fruit. I folded the edges over and pressed it with water to the existing shell. Then I used this fork to create a seam.

Et voila! La tarte! Those slits you see were made before I baked it and sugar was sprinkled. The filling as you can see bubbled up and through the holes onto the pan. Some of it burned.

And the filling juice did that did not burn tasted just like red lollipops-- sweet with a little taste of tart. I drank this red lollipop juice by the spoonful. Mmmm.

I get to try the first piece.

Yum, yum, yum!

Funky Sexy Vegan (Vegan Photo Album 3)
As I prepared to post the photos of my latest vegan culinary exploits, I was a bit humbled. For the first time, I realized something unique about my photos. I noticed that in some of the photos, the background was not "perfect" or "tidy". My photos lacked the "food photo" perfection that I notice in several cookbooks and newspapers. I didn't have perfect lighting at times, flowers or fruit in the backdrop. I didn't have decorative mats or touches. My photos are taken during my flurry of baking or cooking. There are food stains on the cutting board, drips on the stove, and my dish drying rack in photos. Usually when I cook, I make a huge mess and then I do the major clean-up afterward. While I cook, I snap photos along the way. For my entry in the Burrito Bonanza contest, Adam, my fiance, helped me to take notice the fine art of food photography. So within an hour, we took a quick crash course by watching videos on youtube. Adam helped me to figure out the special features on my camera so I could capture the food at its best. I'm getting a bit better at photographing my culinary creations. Now I think my goal is to learn even more about "food presentation". I'm learning more about this food writing/criticism thing as I go and I want my $%^& to be correct. I also could use some good cookware too. (Some high end stuff although the dollar store stuff has to do.)

Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Vegan Fluffy Buttercream and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
I made these wonderful cupcakes for a Sunday School Picnic at my church. They were a hit! (And so scrumptious) I sampled the chocolate frosting cupcake (as did Adam) and the rest were for the kids (and the adults). I had tons of frosting left over and loved stealing a spoonful or two of sweet creamy goodness over the course of several weeks. (Hey! I couldn't eat the frosting all at once.)

Polenta Casserole with Seitan from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
I ate this one but did not enjoy it as much. I made my own seitan to go with it. The polenta was a little bland and the seitan was very, very chewy. Not my favourite but a healthy dish nonetheless.

Lasagna from Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
I can't believe it's not cheese! Taymar Mason, you blow my mind. How did she come up with this masterpiece recipe? The sauce was extremely spicy, the tofu cheese and roux were an amazing combination. It tasted so much like ricotta and mozarella that even my fiance had to ask me again if there was cheese in the lasagna. (And trust me, Adam loves his cheese.) But no, this cheese does not contain any dairy. It's all plant-based. Thank you Taymar Mason! For the first time, I ate vegan lasagna and felt my belly full! The sauce was thick with TVP granules. With this lasagna, any vegan can say goodbye to meat cravings. Note to self: When boiling lasagna noodles, always use ample oil in the water and never allow them to stand to long after draining off the water. The noodles badly stick together and then rip.

My badly shredded lasagna noodles were frustrating to work with and lay flat.

My masterpiece.

White Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie from Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
Taymar does it again. I have this masochistic relationship with spicy foods. Although my mouth was on fire and I had to douse it with many a glass of water, I loved this take on Shepherd's Pie. No blandness here! Please excuse the "ghetto'foil pan". I loved this dish. It was scrumptious and tasty. If I were to make it again, I would use more sweet potatoes and possibly combine them with regular potatoes to add more to the top. But the combination of sweet (from the potato topping) and spicy (from the filling) flavours was amazing amalgamation of bliss.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sauce on Chia Seed Pudding from Toronto Vegetarian Association Spring 2011 Newsletter
The sauce was refreshing, sweet, and very gingery. Who knew I could make pudding from chia seeds in under 30 minutes? Just place chia seeds in some almond or soy milk, add agave (or sweetener of your choice), stir, and then let sit for 30 minutes. The chia seeds develop a little bit of a gelatinous consistency which is perfect for pudding. Mm mm mm.

Brazilian Black Bean and Vegetable Stew from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein
I don't know how Brazilian this dish really is but I do know I am very intrigued with Brazilian culture right now. Brazilian anything will catch my eye. My fiance plays Brazilian music (mostly classical Brazilian guitar, forro, and singing in Brazilian Portuguese, I know amazing). Click here to see him playing at Expressions of Brazil 2010, a Brazilian festival here in Toronto. He also used to play Maracatu which is an Afro-Brazilian percussion form older than samba. This summer, I myself am trying out capoeira, Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance (again for the 3rd time in 12 years). I am also working on an Afro-Brazilian picture book and dream of visiting Brazil soon. Sigh! Adam and I watch documentaries about Brazil. And today he even taught me to play a bossa nova rhythm on the guitar. What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the stew was good.

Indian Black-Barley Pilaf with Bananas and Oranges from The Tropical Vegan by Donna Klein
Pretty tasty! I liked the sweet of banana and tangy orange which were an interesting combination. Adam wasn't too stoked on it.

African Beans and Potatoes from The Tropical Vegan by Donna Klein
This dish was pretty tasty. I decided to do something a little different and instead of salad or rice, I placed the beans and potatoes in a roti. What do you expect? I'm Caribbean. Anyway, very tasty. With some chopped peanuts and pepper sauce, this dish is a hit. Adam loved it.

Bajan Macaroni Pie with Tofu Cheddar from Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
Many people tell me that they could not become vegan because they would miss cheese too much. Taymar Mason's cooking makes it possible to not miss cheese at all. In fact, you might say, "Hold the cheese." Just as she did with the lasagna, this macaroni pie is a master piece. According to my fiance, Mr. Cheese himself, this meal captures the comfort and familiarity of the macaroni pie without the need for cheese. You don't miss the cheese. That's right! You can enjoy macaroni without cheese and you don't miss it. Well, Taymar doesn't disappoint. In the first photo, you'll notice that white dolop of cream. That's Tofu Cheddar. Then comes the roux. The culinary tricks of adding spices, adds real flavour. The onion adds a refreshing zip while other things are added to stimulate taste buds. Ketchup was one of these shocking additions. That's right. Ketchup in my macaroni pie along with Bajan seasoning, Bajan pepper sauce, white, and black pepper. And true to it's signature feature, this macaroni pie has a delectable crust thanks to bread crumbs and vegan margarine. I can't wait to make this for my mother and say, "Look mom! No cheese!"
Homemade tofu cheddar

After you stir in the tofu cheddar, then comes the roux

Before the macaroni pie meets the oven

After the macaroni pie met the oven

Vegan On A Budget (Vegan Photo Album 4)

Living on a limited budget (I know it may not seem like it but I'm living on pennies, prayers, and air here, thank God for VISA and MasterCard), I have had to look at ways to cut back on my food and grocery spending. A portion of my budget is taking care of acupuncture, naturopathy, and herbal meds which I hope I can claim the receipts on next year's income tax. In addition to my decision to eat a plant-based, mostly organic diet, it ain't cheap!!! It was very refreshing to discover Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money by Robin Robertson. (Read my review here.) Robin has probably written more vegan cookbooks than anyone on this planet. You can visit her site here. I believe it did that (most of the time) and the meals were (mostly) tasty and inexpensive. (Please read my review of this book.) I must say that I have noticed a decrease in my grocery receipts over the last few weeks. I have also made some foods from other vegan cookbooks I have been using.

I noticed that the last Vegan Photo Album that I posted is pretty popular. I hope that this one (Vegan on a Budget) shows you even more how doable a vegan lifestyle is. Some people ask if I get enough protein or am missing out on anything. Hopefully after you see this album, you will put those doubts to rest.

I love posting my Vegan Photo Albums but they are very time consuming. This one has taken be about six hours in total. I have to figure out a more time-efficient way to do it. Trust me! I love cooking these foods and showing them off so it is a labour of love, no doubt.

Dan-Dan Style Linguine from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
Hot and spicy, peanuty and creamy are some of my favourite food words. This dish is made with tempeh and I believe that this was the first time that I cooked this nutritious fermented tofu treat. Tempeh has amazing health benefits. Because it is fermented, it contains the whole soy bean, retains its nutrition, and is probiotic (contains beneficial bacteria which restores the good balance of bacteria in your intestines). Plus it is easier to digest and is not estrogen-rich. Women with estrogen-sensitive breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer are advised to avoid or limit soy products. I think this is good advice. Being a vegan, I find it tricky to limit soy-product intake. It's everywhere! (Especially in meat replacement products.) According to Kris Carr in the Crazy Sexy Diet, there is tons of research that proclaims the benefits of soy products (few menopause symptoms, fewer cancers, less osteoporosis, stronger bones) too as well as some that announces some of its downfalls (thyroid complications, fewer sperm for men, increased prostate cancer risk). It is best to eat the non-processed stuff but again as a vegan it is harder to avoid this stuff (often contained in veggie dogs, ground beef substitutes, veggie burgers, etc.) I think the best thing is moderation. Dan-Dan, I learned, is a traditional spicy Szechuan noodle dish.

Tempeh that has just been boiled for 30 minutes, cooled, and then crumbled a bit.

The tempeh sizzles.

Creamy peanutty, spicy sauce! I got to get my "peanut fix" when I'm not working as a teacher since all of the schools in my province are "peanut-free zones", so my lunches cannot contain this stuff..

Ready for my fiancé and me. Topped with peanuts and green onions.

Very tasty and satisfying. We loved this dish.

Simply Simmered Seitan from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This is my third attempt at making seitan and my second recipe for this treat. Seitan, pronounced say-tan or see-tin (I have not figured out how to pronounce this words as it tends to differ depending who you ask), is made from gluten flour (a protein that comes from wheat). It originated in Asia and consumed by Buddhist vegetarian monks. Seitan is an excellent source of protein, especially for those who have soy allergies or estrogen-sensitive conditions. Seitan is not so good if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. I have tasted good seitan and bad and I must say that this recipe falls in the former category. At first I was a little skeptical since the pieces tasted so salty, however I loved how it tasted amazing in the Savory Vegetable Cobbler, listed below. What makes the seitan so brown and salty? The soya sauce. I used tamari in this case.

Cooked in a broth of onions, garlic, and, you guessed it, soya sauce.

Looks like meatloaf...

Tastes like roast...

Texture like a softer version of a meatloaf.

Savory Vegetable Cobbler in 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This dish was ama-zing!!! It made an ample 6 servings and I unfortunately had just 2. (I took them in containers on my writing retreat. Even microwaved two days later, this was amazing stuff.) This dish is a great example of veganizing a classic comfort food! Great for cold winter evenings except I had it in the summer. Much like a veggie pot pie. The seitan was slightly salty (adding a bit to the salt quotient in this dish) but not over powering. The herbs and spices were savoury and mild kind of French tasting with marjoram, sage, and thyme. I used spelt flour for the sauce and topping. This was so tasty I need to have my girl friends over to have some.

A great way to hide celery (not my favourite vegetable but so good for you) by stirring it in with some veggies.

Adding the secret sauce (actually, it's some sort of gravy). It is browned with soya sauce. I used tamari.

I tried to spread the topping out as much as I could. The recipe said I was allowed to cheat so you can see the stuff below peaking through. The topping is not symmetrical and does not go right to sides but it bakes up nice.

The crust is f&*(^# awesome!!!

A yummy balanced meal with some steamed kale and cherry tomatoes on the side.

Quick Lo Mein from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This was a fairly simple and straightforward meal to prepare. The recipe said I could use ramen noodles (the cheap noodles that come in packs) but they tend to be higher in sodium, low in nutrition, and I will never forget the lady who worked at the dollar store who said she used to feed them to her cat. Instead, I chose whole grain spaghetti which is more power-packed.

Tasty noodly goodness.

Stovetop Cheezee Mac from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
Bleck! Oops, did I say that out loud. The idea of easy cheesy macaroni a la vegan sounded wonderful, yet my fiancé and I could not but get through all of the servings. He barely finished one, I had three since I hate to throw food away but in the end I did throw it away. :-( The first mistake, I made this macaroni using Le Creuset cookware. Given to us as a gift from a garage sale (in mint condition!!!), Le Creuset is made from iron and heats up super-fast. It's enamel coating is not non-stick (which I keep forgetting). This mean that the pasta and sauces stuck to the bottom too quick for me to keep up. Another problem, the recipe said that the sauce should thicken so while I waited longer to see that my beautiful cheezee sauce was burning a little bit. And even I took out the very few burnt bits, there was this burnt taste to the whole dish. Finally, this dish lacked salt which made the "cheeze" unconvincing and unsatisfying.

Started off well. The macaroni looks good.

The cheeze sauce is smooth and creamy.

Green peas added.

This is about when it started to go wrong (and taste burnt).

Oh it looks so good. Sigh! Too bad it tastes like crap.

Coconut Curry Rice from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
I love the combination of coconut with rice. What a lovely invention!!! This was a satisfying meal!

I soaked the raw chick peas for two days. Yes! Two days!!! I don't know if you already know this but let me tell you what happens to chick peas after soaking for two days. First, it smells and second, it sprouts and third, it gets mucus-y (or sappy, depends on your perceptions). Even though I placed these soaked peas in the refrigerator after day one and I had a piece of seaweed soaking with them (the seaweed breaks up the sugars that cause gas), I found I had to rinse, rinse, rinse that stinky smell out. It never completely left until I boiled those suckers with more seaweed. And yes, you can eat sprouted chick peas.

A yummy savoury masterpiece. Curry makes anything taste good.

Tropical Betty from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This dish could be called something I can't name here. It is sooooo good. Once I learned that I could put both the ripening bananas from on top of my refrigerator and the ripe mango my father gave me, along with pineapple and more coconut goodness, all in the same dish, I knew I had a winner on my hands. Warning: Ladies, if you feed this to your partner be prepared for them to grant you any wish you request. (Okay, maybe not any wish but I tried.) This is a refreshingly sweet tropical treat. The crust is a combo of shredded coconut, bread crumbs, sugar, almond milk, and butter. So good, I ate it raw too.

Yummy tropical filling.

The crust that tastes good raw and cooked.

Topped with some Vanilla Island coconut ice cream from Coconut Bliss.

Penne-Wise Peanutty Pasta from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This peanutty pasta survived the LeCreuset trip. Perhaps, I kept a sharper eye. The result was a very tasty, slightly sweet meal that was filling and satisfying.

Sneaking in the veggies.

Indian-Spiced Lentil Ragu from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson

This was such a tasty treat. I loved to eat this ragu just like this by the spoonful. Forget the rice. I think it's the spinach that has the satisfying flavour. The texture is really creamy and mild.

Didn't really like the rice so much. I haven't had too much luck with cooking brown basmati rice lately. Maybe it's that darned Le Creuset pot.

Rice Pudding from recipe on the Internet

Lucky to find such a great recipe like this on the internet. A great way to use up an overexcess of too moist brown basmati that was cooked in Le Creuset cookware. I think this is the recipe I used. I don't remember there are so many recipes on the internet. It was so sweet and tasty and reminded me of the Indian desserts I love so much except without the dairy. Yes, those are raisins.

Tofu Fried Rice from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson

Black Beans with Sofrito over Rice from 'The Tropical Vegan Kitchen' by Donna Klein
This recipe had to be completed in two parts. First, the sofrito I learned is a tomatoey/peppery sauce which sauce that is takes its own share of seasonings. Next, it is added to the black bean preparation. It tasted okay. Nothing too exciting or amazing. Maybe it needed some hot sauce.

Again, crappy rice.

Island Casserole from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
Yummy yummy yummy! This is like Tropical Betty in a meal form. Just like the dessert, it has pineapple and coconut goodness, except it has rice... cooked in coconut milk! Oh, heaven! This dish was very tasty. I used soaked red beans which needed to be cooked extra, extra long to get them to that nice soft creamy texture. (I almost got there.) The rice was a little more al dente (slightly crispy) than I'm used to but it totally worked for this dish since it was baked in the oven. We really liked this one.

Deconstructed Enchilada Bake in 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This dish was pretty tasty but it seemed a little like it was missing. Maybe it was just me but my fiancé particularly enjoyed it but I don't know. I used Daiya cheddar-style cheese which I like but it didn't quite give me the taste I was looking for in this dish. It was filling and yummy. I think I know what this dish needs? Some refried and mashed pinto beans along with avocado as well as wheat tortillas instead of corn. I will try it again.

Chipotle sauce and corn tortillas

Bajan Macaroni Pie with Tofu Cheddar in Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
As I have said so many times in this blog, Taymar Mason is amazing with her recipes and quickly is becoming a household name. Now, this is real vegan cheese. How did she know? How did she come up with this recipe? Maybe it's that biochemistry background, I don't know but there is no dairy in this stuff and yet it does not lack flavour. I am sure to fool many a carnivore with this creation. Spicy like fire, yet so flavourful and good you beg for more (although you can almost feel the blisters forming in your mouth, I know, I'm quite graphic and exaggerating.) Thank you for bringing a comfort food favourite to life with some Caribbean flare. I also big-up Taymar for adding this recipe for time-deprived folks since it requires less time than many of her other recipes. What's the secret?

First, add the tofu cheddar.

Next, the roux which is a fancy French word for creamy sauce (I think).

Looks good?

Now you stir it up

And bake it. The macaroni comes out a little al dente but so yummy.

So tasty and did not last long in our household.

Samosa Pie from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson
I get sentimental when I see these photos since they were the first recipe from this book I made. I felt a little dooped learning that I had to make the Double Pie Crust which added double the time. Nevertheless, I was rewarded with an amazingly yummy "open face" pie. My crust is a little imperfect but hey! It tasted amazing and it is Indian food which I love. Well, not exactly. I mean I am sure that Robin Robertson did not go to India to get this recipe but she did improvise on a snack favourite.

This recipe bucked tradition by cooking the vegetables in the oil beforethe spices. Indian traditional cooking requires you to cook the spices first then add the other stuff.

I used all the Double Pie Crust recipe. I don't know how I could have made the crust for the samosa pie without using all of the Double Pie Crust recipe which was supposed to make two separate crusts. Oh well, more to enjoy!

My little slice of samosa pie. Sorry about the yellow appearance. I needed to adjust some feature on my camera but you get the general idea.