~ C.E. Schwilk ~ Society, It Smells Like Meat

An omnivore attempting vegetarianism, a writer attempting to get published, just another person just trying to stay out of jail.

I AM The Stereotype I Loathe (or Why I Went Vegan)

alldaveggiesThe dreaded v-word. Vegetarian. Or the other dreaded v-word: vegan. You’re hardcore if you’re vegan, man; like, you’ve gone past hipster disdain at the organic snobbery and farmer’s market elitism. You’re in the big leagues now.

heart zuccFor those of you who don’t know it yet, I live in Portland, Oregon. Yes, that Portlandia. There are plenty of folks and places that are just like us, we’ve just happened to gain infamy from it (and it helps that Carrie Brownstein is from the Pacific Northwest – although she’s from Seattle, not Portland, whatever…). We also fit the stereotype: we shop at our local farmer’s market (and on our bicycles), we mostly eat vegetarian (I go vegan), we buy organic produce (and we are growing our own vegetables), we recycle, we make our own bread, we even make our own dishwashing soap. You wanna barf yet?

Not that I need to justify my life to anyone (stopped doing that once I moved out on my own), but the reality is, we’re trying to save money – making and growing our own food, cycling everywhere, etc., costs less money. Of course we’re going to eat organic because we need to stay healthy to avoid doctor/hospital visits.

Cutting back on your meat intake is beneficial to your body. You don’t have to cut it out entirely – we still eat meat, but maybe once or twice a month instead of nightly, as we did years ago. I go vegan because I’m lactose-intolerant and as much as I love cheese and ice cream, the pain and suffering I endure post-meals is just something I can do without these days.

hipstersLastly, who doesn’t recycle these days? We’re no different from you. Maybe a little different. I finally did admit to myself a few months ago that I am exactly the hipster stereotype I loathe, minus the skinny jeans and moustache, though. I had asked my mother-in-law for the most touristy umbrella to use here in PDX. I told her the uglier, the better and she delivered. I absolutely love this umbrella because it’s hideous. Good gravy, I am a hipster. Somebody shoot me.

Talk to me!

Have you changed the way you eat recently? What motivated you to do it? Was it a happy accident or orchestrated by health concerns? What’s the foodie-stereotype you most identify with (and which irks you the most)?

Trying Something New – Stuffed Mini-Peppers

mini bell peppersWe’ve been incredibly lazy lately. It’s been hot outside, we’ve been trying to get projects around the house done up and neither one of us really wants to cook (me in particular since being in the kitchen drudges up bad memories and stresses me out).

Mostly we’ve been eating cold pasta salads and homemade bread. I swear, our bread/pastry consumption will be the death of me. Anyway, we had bought these mini-bell peppers a while back and I wasn’t about to waste them. We still had some leftover diced squash/random veggies that also needed to be eaten so I pitched the idea of stuffed peppers.

stuffed peppers, precookedI want to do this recipe with the normal-sized bell peppers because it tastes so good – at least it did in my memory. Perhaps I’m just waxing nostalgic again, but these mini-peppers were awesome and lamented that we didn’t have more!

We had about half a cup to a cup of each diced vegetable (butternut squash, marrow squash, onion, and some veggie crumble, along with a clove or two of garlic, topped with goat cheese), mixed it all up in a bowl and then began stuffing our mini-peppers.

stuffed peppers, cookedIt was tricky and we debated which technique was better: do we half them and pile the ingredients or do we cut off the tops and stuff them like we’d do the regular-sized ones? I voted chopping off the tops, but deferred to the better-half’s expertise. The argument was that since they were so tiny, they couldn’t stand up on their own and all the stuffing would fall out. I figured if we packed everything in, nothing would move. In the end, I still pushed to try a few my way and you know what? They totally worked. I may not know much, but I got some good ideas.

Talk to me!

So, did you ever second-guess yourself and only later attempt it? Was it a success or did you keep the idea to yourself?

Zucchini & Loathing (Carrots) in PDX

banana bread, before bakingHi. My name’s C.E. Schwilk and I have a pastry addiction. Any baked goods, really. It started early with cake – then I started main-lining French crullers in high school, then it only got worse as my better-half introduced me to Cornish pasties, scones, butter-soaked crumpets, and now we slum it with cheap, stale, horrible doughnuts for a quick fix (though we do splurge on bostock when we’re feeling particularly in need of something classy).

As I mentioned previously, we got gifted a lot of zucchini. So much that we had to diversify our recipes. There is only so much sliced and sauteed zucchini you can have every day before you’re bored to death of it. I suggested zucchini bread.

I’ve had zucchini bread once before, years ago. It was delicious, if not a bit on the moist and stodgy side. bread zuccUntil that time, I wasn’t really a fan of zucchini. I suspect it was really just leftover childhood rebellion against vegetables in general.

Yes. This omnivore-turned-vegetarian used to hate eating vegetables – carrots in particular. I blame my grandparents for overcooking them into mushy orange disks. Every night, I had to clean my plate (no sneaking bits off to eagerly awaiting pets). I didn’t want keen rabbit eyesight and as soon as I wasn’t forced to eat carrots, I stopped – for years.

banana 2Anyway, back to my addiction. We had been making banana bread for weeks, solely because we’d buy bananas with the intention of using them for smoothies but forgetting about them and the bananas would get too ripe. At least we could still save them and have delicious bread. This time we replaced bananas with zucchini – and even added carrots!

I’ve found zucchini-banana bread recipes online, which intrigue me enough to try. Why separate my loaves of love? I really don’t know if I can break this addiction. We don’t even use chocolate chips (like some recipes I’ve seen)!

Talk to me!

What’s the one food item you can’t stand? Have you tried to prepare it differently to see if that changed your mind about it?

Zu-Pasta? Spagh-chini? Zoodles? Whatever, Tasty Neologisms!

zucc-noodles2Whenever my better-half wings it with meals, there is always some silly name used to punctuate the occasion. You don’t really want to know what we’ve named our imaginary children – but you can be sure it wouldn’t even be approved here, in the land of special snowflakes and their crotchfruit, scarring everybody for life. (thanks, Internet)

Although making up silly names for dishes is completely okay, right?

We were recently gifted with a ton of zucchini from a friend and all I knew what to do with it was make zucchini bread (future post!) so I did what I do best: look to the Internet for assistance. The idea for turning the summer squash into noodles appealed to me most because I really needed a pasta fix. I love pasta far too much for my own good, so any chance to increase my pasta-intake without actual pasta was a step in the right direction.

zucc-noodles1Using the julienne peeler again, we took two of the biggest zucchinis we had and peeled them lengthwise until we started hitting the seeds. I made long strands and it did take on the look of pasta, although a little more green and wet. We only cooked them for about ten minutes and used a vodka sauce, adding more diced squash and bell peppers to the mix. We also added quinoa for that “ground meat” texture.

In hindsight, we decided that a much lighter sauce would have worked better – the zucchini noodles were very tasty on their own, and we should have made a lot more noodles than we did. (also, we forgot cheese!) That’s the plan for next time!

Talk to me!

I love the sound of “zoodles” – fun to say! Zooooooooodles. What have you (silly or serious) named your own dishes?

Something Something Dark Rice – Kitchen Magic

If you follow/friend me on Facebook, you can see that I post a good number of food photos. Not as much as I would like, but I think I say that about everything. Anyway…

The fun thing about our new neighbourhood is that just about everyone around us grows vegetables (our garden is brand new, so we’re hoping we’ll have something to share next year). We also have some really generous neighbours and were gifted a baby pattypan squash and a baby marrow squash. I didn’t even know what the pattypan was until I did some frantic Google searching…

all the veggiesSo, after a few days of recipe hunting and not really finding anything that struck our fancy, the better-half decided to wing it and do what he does best: throw things in and make something magical. I hate you amazing people who don’t need recipes or measurements or instructions. That boggles my mind and I usually ruin food if I attempt anything like this.

To add more bulk, we grabbed some Shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, and something called “forbidden rice” (from Lotus Foods) which makes it sound a thousand times more interesting than it probably should. Do you know this story? Apparently, this was fancy rice – only given to the Emperor to eat, therefore forbidden for anyone else in China. I wasn’t exactly impressed, but it looked pretty on the plate! It turns a dark purple once cooked and has a nutty flavour, like brown rice does (which is why I didn’t care for it).

We julienned (that’s a verb, sure) the baby marrow and diced up the other squash, sautéed everything in butter and threw it all on a plate. Well, it was a little fancier than that, honestly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, diced
  • 1 baby pattypan squash, diced
  • 1 baby marrow squash, julienne
  • Shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I think we had about 10 them, your mileage may vary)
  • 1 cup of “forbidden rice”
  • pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)

forbidden platedThe rice took the longest to cook (30 minutes on med-high heat) and it really didn’t help that I burnt the first lot, so we ended up eating ridiculously late for dinner. Being that I’m used to cooking white rice, this stuff doesn’t have anywhere near the same consistency (nor texture) as what I’m used to. I wasn’t sure if I was cooking it right or not being a fan of the flavour, the better-half was consulted (perhaps over-consulted) to make sure it was edible. I still suspect my darling was just being kind, but the rice tasted fine to me.

My plate was extra fancy (well, with extra mushrooms since I’m a mushroom fiend) but his marrow squash was a bit crispier than mine, which tasted better in my opinion. The only reason why this is vegetarian is because we used real butter to sauté with, but it can easily be changed to vegan. We have plenty more vegetables to try and the better-half is getting excited to do that magical cooking again.

Talk to me!

Do you need a recipe when you cook? Do you make dishes up as you go along, grabbing stuff out of your fridge without much prep beforehand? Or are you like me and must have something absolute in mind before you go slicing and dicing? What kind of kitchen magic do you make?

Philly Cheese Steaks Without the Cheese, Steak, & Made Nowhere Near Philly

close up of faux philly & mung bean saladMushrooms. I love mushrooms and if I could, I would eat them every day. We eat Quorn, but I just love mushrooms – shiitake, oyster, even got to try chanterelle’s once! Love them all, but my better half is allergic to sulfites (They occur naturally in mushrooms! Can you believe the nerve?!) so daily fungus intake would be a no-no.

Portobello mushrooms are my favourite. They are so meaty and rich – and I’ve always sort of thought of them as “vegetarian steak”, so of course it made perfect sense to try this recipe. I even made it vegan (although I knew masking the fake cheese was going to be difficult since my better-half doesn’t do fake cheese).

I should have cut the cheese thinner so it melted properly, but my darling was fooled temporarily and very impressed this wasn’t real steak. Well, until the first bite, of course – but it sure looked pretty!

faux philly cheese "steak"I paired it with a cold mung bean salad and the meal was wolfed down in minutes. I’d consider that a positive response. Not that my better-half was against anything on the menu (he likes mushrooms, perhaps not as much as I do, but enough to have to remember his allergies), but I always try to bring something new to the table. We’ve both had proper Philly Cheesesteak (well, minus having been served them in Philadelphia) so having the vegan interpretation, our standards were pretty high.

Talk to me!

What’s your favourite vegetable? Do you eat it every day (or do you try)? Have you ever attempted to trick someone you were cooking for? Did it work?

Pigging-Out on Pizza – Minus the Shame & Guilt

Who am I kidding? I have no shame or guilt (ever) whenever I eat pizza. Indigestion, heart-burn, and horrible intestinal problems whenever I eat meat-laden pizza, but that’s beside the point. Pizza is awesome and I have fond childhood memories of Friday night shrimp and sausage pizza night (while watching Friday Night Videos – but I think I’m dating myself, now).

pizza

My better half really doesn’t like pizza, but then again, until quite recently, we’ve always had store-bought pizza. I’ve done homemade pizza before (usually as a sleepover-girl-thing or some Girl Scout camping-function-thing, but that was all prepackaged and chemical-filled garbage anyway, just like any other store-bought product), and didn’t care too much for it. I mean, a pizza is a pizza and why work so hard for junk food when you can get it made and delivered by someone else? Isn’t that why we pay for the convenience?

So, once my couple-dom was secured, I stopped having so much pizza – which wasn’t a bad thing, being the better-half was confident in the kitchen and I started eating like a real adult now. I just missed having pizza. Knowing my cravings, my darling decided we were going to make it ourselves – and it was going to be healthy. Egads.

We did by the dough, but it was some organic, hippie stuff (no ingredients that sounded like a mad scientist’s experiment) and then we added vegetarian everything. Mine, as usual, was with vegan cheese – but it was a new brand that I really didn’t like, so next time I’ll switch back to Daiya.

Why didn’t we do this sooner? It was delicious! The vegetables were fresh and tasty, the Quorn cubes (our faux-chicken), added mushrooms, the bell peppers, and the garlic tops were amazing! As much as I like “regular pizza” this homemade stuff outranked anything I’ve had ever before – and it was fun to make as I piled high everything I liked.

Talk to me!

What’s your favourite “Friday night/Weekend” food? Is there something you grew up with as tradition or are you making a tradition of a desired favourite now?

Nostalgic Eating With a Vegan Twist

My mother is Filipina – bourn and raised, only becoming a US citizen about 10 years ago. I grew up eating Filipino food like sisig, lumpia shanghai, adobong manok, sinigang na isda, and (my very favourite) dinuguan with fresh, cold puto. Oh, the memories! Very rarely would my mother make “American food”. When she did, it was usually Sloppy Joes on a toasted bun.

vegetarian sloppy janeI have no idea why, of all things typically “American”, did she settle on Sloppy Joes. I’m sure we had other American dishes, but that’s what sticks out in my mind. Either she made some labour-intensive Filipino dish, or Sloppy Joes.

Not ready to tackle Filipino cuisine (all that preparation and palaver!), I was willing to introduce a bit of nostalgia to my better-half who grew up in England and had never even heard of a “Sloppy Joe”, much less ate one before.

Of course, being that we’re now (somewhat) vegetarians, we couldn’t possibly eat all that ground beef. We had to come up with an alternative and Vegetarian Times had a great, easy recipe for “Sloppy Janes”. It was exactly what I needed. Childhood comfort food – just slightly different.

We went for soy-based “veggie ground” (although we’re trying to go easy on the soy these days) and then I proceeded to add bell peppers (in place of the celery), onions, mushrooms, and we used brown sauce instead of bbq sauce. It was delicious with my vegan, almond pepper jack cheese and he used real cheese (he can’t stomach the fake stuff and since he doesn’t have the lactose-intolerance I do, there was no reason to subject him to my almond cheese – besides, that meant more for me).

left is mine, right is hisHis cheese may have melted better, but I liked my pepper jack more – and, no horrible intestinal problems after dinner! Win-win in my opinion.

The Filipino food will come, eventually. I just don’t know how I’m going to make vegetarian dinuguan. There is just no substitute for that.

Talk to me!

What’s your favourite comfort food? Do you still eat it?

Slowly Cooking Does Not a Slow Cooker Make

My better-half knew from the start – I am not a cook. I don’t even like cooking. It stresses me out and I swear a lot. I could make a sailor blush on a normal occasion, but cooking bumps up this potty-mouth of mine to 11. I blame my mother; for the cooking hatred, not the swearing, although they could be related. I love my darling more than I hate cooking, so I have made my ultimate sacrifice to attempt to cook, and feed our family of two. (the pets are safe from my chemistry experiments, lucky them)

ImageDespite my anti-cooking sensibilities, I’m pretty good at it, except for the time when I tried to make Punjabi Curried Kidney Beans. In my defence, I didn’t use a slow cooker (as this recipe was from Anupy Singla’s Indian Slow Cooker cookbook) but chucked everything in a pot – and prayed a lot. Also, just days before the better-half cracked and destroyed our slow cooker (the glass lid shattered; whether or not it was latched is still unknown) – so that wasn’t my fault, either.

It started off well enough. Most of the prep work was done for me (my darling doesn’t trust me with sharp objects, so the vegetables were sliced and quartered appropriately – I just had to cut up the tomatoes). I basically just had to put everything together at the allotted time and turn on the stove.

Our apartment soon filled with the wonderful smell of spices and everything looked pretty. I loved the green cilantro against the red kidney beans and the onions and garlic just made my tummy growl in anticipation. I’m a texture sort of person, too, so seeing everything simmer in the pot, the cumin very pungent and the smell of garam masala is something that always makes my mouth water (we put it in nearly everything we cook here).

I followed directions exactly, minus “put it all in the slow cooker” part. I figured just as long as I stirred it and kept a close watch on it, I’d be fine. Perhaps that was the true error of my ways. I didn’t keep a close watch. I got involved in Other Stuff and I left things on the stove just a little longer than necessary without checking. How was I supposed to know that I had to stand over the cooking pot all day? I probably should have started cooking at about 8 AM and had the burner on lower than medium. That could have been it, too.punjabi curried beans

By dinner time, there was a burning smell – that I could not detect being that I don’t have a very good sense of smell (another reason to be wary of cooking for other people) and the food was absolutely ruined. I had a bite of it and it wasn’t good, barely edible, but I would have eaten it were I starving. As it were, the better-half quickly whipped up some vegetarian burgers and salad to keep me from shamefully eating that mess.

We’ve cooked it since (and purchased a new slow cooker) but this is one of those dishes I will probably have nightmares about for the rest of my life.

Talk to me!

What’s your worst cooking fiasco? Was it something you love to cook or a brand new dish you wanted to try? Did you try making it again or banned it from your kitchen?

Spring Cleaning the Blog Time

After a difficult few months, I’ve decided to do a major overhaul to this blog and change the focus as well.

Expect more photos and something completely different than what you’ve been reading from the start.

I hope you all continue reading my blog and enjoy the new content!

Thank you for sticking around.

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