new year, new intentions

Hello there.  If you’ve been following this blog for a while or have checked out any of my old posts (back from when I first started this thing in January of 2016), you would know that my content and frequency of posts has changed dramatically.  That (and more) is what I’m going to talk about in this blog post.

I want to start with some basic 2018 reflections.  2018 was a huge year of growth and learning for me.  My first semester of 2018 (last winter) was probably the worst semester I’ve had in college.  I was incredibly busy, stressed out, did not have time to eat an adequate lunch many days of the week, and cried sometimes in the morning when I got up because I knew my day was going to be terrible.  I am a lot more resilient after that experience.

Throughout my life, I have always traveled a lot, and 2018 was no exception.  I took a couple of smaller trips, including one to Los Angelas in early January and another to Montreal in late August of last year.  My big trip last year was a study abroad experience through my university.  It was all about international food laws, and we went to London, Paris, Geneva, Florence, and Parma.  It was a three week trip, and it was awesome.  That said, I had very different interests than my peers (such as vegan food), so I did a lot of things on my own.  I rode the subway alone, went to all the incredible European vegan restaurant alone, visited the Centre Pompidou in Paris (which I have wanted to do since middle school) alone, and did many other things alone.  I also got pink eye, which, although extremely isolating since no one wanted to come within 10 feet of me for more than several days, was extremely fascinating because of my interactions with the medical system there.  I am a lot more independent and have a radically different perspective on health and healthcare after that whole experience.

I also worked full-time at a farm over the summer.  I’ve talked a lot about that place here on this blog (since even before I got a job there back in 2017), and being able to work there every day throughout the season was incredible.  I also took classes and was busier than ever.  But I was happy, and I will look back fondly on that summer for the rest of my life, despite some other difficult things that happened during that time.

Another big thing in my life that happened was finally changing my second major (Arts and Humanities is my first) from Food Science, which I hated, to Nutritional Science, which I like much better.  This was really hard for me, but I can actually see myself doing this sustainably for the rest of undergrad.  My first semester as a Nutritional Science major was great, and I am truly looking forward to all the classes I have to come.

Now that I’ve reflected a bit on all I’ve done in the last year, I am going to speak to all that I haven’t done here online in the last year.  I made two blog posts, uploaded one YouTube video, and have been sporadically active on Instagram.  Most people would agree that I have done next to nothing.  That said, I have been thinking a lot about my online presence.  What this blog started as (a vegan recipe blog) just isn’t what I want to do anymore.  I still love food and creating recipes, but I don’t have a kitchen, and anything I make in my dorm is not worth writing about.  On the other hand, I had no direction at all when I started YouTube, and, now, I’m not happy with over half of the content I have uploaded.  This year, I want to set some more serious intentions regarding these online platforms.  Some questions I’ve asked myself:  What do I want my online presence to be?  What do I have to contribute to the online community?  How can I be a positive light and not just one among the crowd?  Does my Instagram showcase my true self?  Does my YouTube improve people’s lives?  What about my life do I feel comfortable sharing online?

There are many more things I have asked myself than this, but these questions have been at the core of my reflections of the last year.  After some deliberations, I have decided on a couple of intentions I want to set for  Little Plant Person for the new year and indefinitely.

I want this blog to be nothing more than a platform for personal reflection.  I am not going to set out trying to reach people in this way.  My blog is for me.  Writing is what I like to do, and this is a perfect place to do more of it.  If I feel inspired to post recipes or projects like I used to, I will.  But I feel that those things are more suited for other platforms like YouTube and Instagram, where my ideas can more easily reach more people.  This blog, going forward, will be my journal.  For those who would care to know more about me personally, they can look here and read about it, but I do not want to be shoving my personal life into other people’s feeds.  If people really care to know me on a deeper level, as I said, they can read about it here.

YouTube is an online platform that I absolutely love.  There are so many things one can do with a YouTube channel, and I think that I have, up to this point, been overwhelmed with the possibilities.  I have tried a lot of different types of videos, but I have come to find that only certain types of videos are the ones I am most proud of, many of which are also my most popular.  That is what I want to do more of.  There is no point in sticking with types of videos I’m not good at and that no one wants to watch.  I want to create more informative, how-to or project-oriented videos, like I used to do here on the blog.  I like the way making recipes and doing other projects can come to life through film, and I think I will reach more people putting that type of content on YouTube.  Another thing: I also realized I feel quite uncomfortable putting more personal things like I do here on the blog out on YouTube.  I want my videos to truly help or inspire people to live better and do more, not entertain (or bore) them.  Helpful.  Inspiring.  Informative.  These are the words I am going to keep at the heart of my YouTube creations form now on.  If I am not inspired, informed, or putting out content that will add to the community in some way, I am not going to put out videos about that.

Finally, even though I made my Instagram in May of 2016, I still feel like such a noobie!  My vision for my Instagram is a little less concrete than those for this blog and for YouTube, but I have some thoughts.  When people visit my page, I want them to see me.  I want my true self to be reflected in my Instagram.  I want it to focus on aspects of my daily life, like it does now, but it needs to be more cohesive.  To achieve this, I want to do more this year to develop techniques to create a beautiful page that is a reflection of me.  Instagram is a very creative platform, which largely focuses on photography, but can also involve writing, visual arts, and more.  I have great ideas and an interesting life (at least I think so), but I am having a hard time finding the best way to showcase it through Instagram.  Instagram plans … TBD!!

In conclusion of this post, I’m going to bring it back to the rest of my life because, honestly, that’s what I do with the vast majority of my time, and I want to be open about that.  I am going to end with just some little resolutions I have for this year, which I can look back on in 2020 and see if I’ve achieved:  (1) drama free 2019 (nuff said?)  (2) pantry eat out (eat everything in my pantry – yes, including all that stuff from two years ago that we all seem to forget to eat)  (3) get to class on time or early (I can do it!).  There’s a little bit (or a lot, actually) more that I have planned for the year to come, so if you want to follow my life follow me @littleplantperson on Instagram.

Thanks for reading this incredibly long post.  Have a happy new year and great 2019!!

from packet to pasta: a squash’s journey

Tromboncino squash.  Favorite squash ever.  Had it once or twice from a guy I used to get CSA from.  Work at a farm.  Wanted to grow it.  Did.

Tromboncino squash is like no other.  It is the most delicate and deliciously buttery summer squash I have ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth.  Before my first encounter with the squash, I could not even imagine a squash with this taste and texture actually existing.  I received my first tromboncino squash in a CSA share in maybe 2015 or 2016.  Only once in three years as a CSA member was I the lucky receiver of that glorious green squash, but that sole experience changed my perspective on squash, honestly.

This past summer, I was lucky enough to work at an organic vegetable farm full-time, and there I had the opportunity to grow food in a personal plot.  Naturally, I scoured the internet for a reliable source of tromboncino squash seeds, the natural delicacy I had been eager to relish again after my first delicious experience.  I found some seeds on www.rareseeds.com aka Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and I ordered them.

The one challenge with this whole squash project was that I had no idea what I was doing.  Sure, I worked at a farm, but I kind of just did what they told me and had never grown anything on my own.  But I was so, so excited.

I got some help learning how to plant my seeds correctly in a seed tray, and all 10 seeds germinated!  Then I put them in the ground, and all 10 of them lived!  Then I watered them almost every day, then almost every week, and then I kind of forgot about them for a while because I was taking a physics class and things got stressful… But they all lived!  I weeded them once or twice in those early days, but then the squash plants crowded out all the weeds.  Before I knew it, I had a whole bunch of squash with barely any effort!!

I had so many squash that it got to the point where I was giving them out to my friends, family, my friends for their friends, plus a few randoms.  I even filled a cardboard box with squash one day and left it outside of some offices with a sign that read, “Squash that need a home.”  It was glorious.

 

In this process, I learned that tromboncino squash can also be a winter squash if left on the vine long enough to mature.  I let quite a few get to that stage, and now I have squash for the winter too.  It’s been 3 months, and they’re storing great.  These squash just get better and better.

One weekend after a particularly bountiful squash harvest, I came home to my parents house (with a real kitchen unlike my makeshift dorm room kitchen that I use at school), and decided to try something new.  I had always just sautéed the squash on its own to enjoy the delicate flavor.  But I wanted to experiment, so I decided to make tromboncino squash and fennel ravioli.

I roasted some farm fennel, farm garlic, and squash in the oven, then purred it in my food processor.  I made a very basic ravioli dough with water, flour, and a little cornstarch.  I put that delicious filling inside my dough, and I cooked it and ate it.  It was wonderful!  Who knew this precious squash could get even better?  This was the best ravioli I have made in my life.  I love this squash.  I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s celebrate our ancestors who came before us and cultivated tromboncino squash and all the other marvelous vegetables that we get to enjoy today.

 

Peace.

college clip: Breakfast for Dinner

A few weeks back I had a strong hankering for breakfast food, particularly tofu scramble and blueberry pancakes.  I recently discovered another community kitchen even closer to where I live, so I decided to gather my ingredients and make breakfast for dinner one Saturday night.

In addition to blueberry pancakes and tofu scramble, I decided to try Lightlife Smart Bacon.  It was pretty good, but I definitely plan on tackling marinated tempeh bacon next time.

 

 

 

 

For my cornmeal pancake recipe, check out this video, and to make regular pancakes, just substitute all-purpose flour for the cornmeal:

And here is my basic veggie and tofu scramble recipe:

Veggie and Tofu Scramble

  • 2 small red onions or 3 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 cups mixed veggies (I used peas, mushrooms, tomato, and spinach, butcauliflower and kale are great too)
  • 1 cup tofu pieces
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoons oregano
  • cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 -4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  1. Chop onions or shallots, and sauté on medium heat with water or oil in a skillet until onions or shallots are translucent.
  2. Add tofu and brown for 2-5 minutes, then add veggies.
  3. When veggies are almost cooked, add spices, minced garlic, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast, and continue cooking 1-2 minutes more until veggies are done.
  4. Enjoy with toast like I did, with hashed potatoes, or on its own!

To see what else I have cooked in this community kitchen, check out this video:

Please leave a message below if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions.  I would love to hear from you!

college clip: cooking in my dorm room

I have made several videos and blog posts with recipes that I created cooking in my dorm room.  Although I have definitely previously mentioned things like my Aroma rice cooker/multi-cooker and Ninja blender, I thought it would be helpful to provide a comprehensive list of everything I used to cook in my dorm last year.  If you’re looking for some dorm-friendly recipes, check out these:

6 easy vegan dorm room breakfast recipes

carrot and split pea soup

vegan rice cooker mac n cheese

quick vegan tomato sauce

I post a lot of pictures and recipes on my Instagram @littleplantperson as well.  Stay tuned for even more dorm-friendly recipes to come on the blog, Instagram, and YouTube channel!

 

5 Tips for dorm cooking beginners:

  1. Check your university’s policies on rice cookers, hot plates, microwaves, knives, tea kettles, etc.  Mine allows only rice cookers, microwaves, and knives under 6 inches, and I have found these tools sufficient to make a variety of great meals.
  2. If you are required to have a meal plan, make use of the salad bar veggies to create delicious vegan meals!  My school has an option to take out cafeteria food once per weekday, and I always load up on spinach, peas, beans, tofu, broccoli, tomatoes, and other available items to cook in my multi-cooker or microwave when I get to my dorm room.
  3. A lot can be done with a rice cooker.  My Aroma rice cooker/multi-cooker has settings for white rice, brown rice, quick rice, slow cook, sauté then simmer, steam, soup, and even cake!  I have successfully made all kinds of grains, soups, toast, crispy tofu, and, yes, even cake.  I truly love this tool.
  4. Make big batches of different foods and store them in a fridge or freezer if you can.  Recently, every Sunday I have been making enough rice, barley, or other whole grain to eat for breakfast throughout the week, and I sometimes cook large batches of dried beans as well.  I also love to make huge soup recipes whenever I have a lot of hearty vegetables available from my farm job.
  5. Consider your space.  My first year living in a dorm I had a roommate, and I knew that cooking in my dorm room would be a little difficult with so little space.  I ended up purchasing an extra shelf that fit above my fridge, on top of which I kept ingredients as well as my rice cooker whenever I was not using it.  This year, having a single room, I keep all of my clothes in the closet and use the provided dresser entirely for food and cooking tools.  I also found a spare table that makes for great counter space.  The top of my mini fridge has been perfect for keeping my rice cooker readily accessible this year.  Do not bring more than you need, and take it from me that you will probably never use your favorite loaf pan that you just can’t bear to part with, so don’t bring it to college with you!

 

And here are my main tools from last year:

Firstly, this pepper grinder is amazing. I received it as a gift, and I keep it handy in my cooking area to add to whatever I’m making.
Here are some basic tools I also received as gifts. Although it’s hard to tell, they are mini versions of regular tools, and the compactness of this set was super helpful for storage last year when I had less space.
Here are two big mugs I used for microwaving things. I tended to make oatmeal and heat soup in the bigger one and make tea and other warm beverages in the smaller white one.
This is the Freshware cutting set I also received as a gift. When all I had to cut on was a desk, it was much easier to just put partially cut veggies into this apparatus to get smaller pieces without all the mess.
Here is my Aroma rice cooker/multi-cooker. I cannot imagine my life without this thing.
Here is what comes with the Aroma rice cooker/multi-cooker: a paddle for scooping out rice, a measuring cup, and a steamer basket, which is super handy.
This is the cutting board and six inch knife I use.
Mason jars. These are particularly useful for obtaining almond milk from the cafeteria for use in my dorm kitchen.
My TO GO WARE bamboo utensils. I take these everywhere.
Here was my little kitchen setup last year. This is my Frigidaire mini fridge, which I highly recommend, particularly because of its separate freezer. On the shelf behind the fridge, I kept my rice cooker, mugs, dishwashing stuff, and things like tomatoes that could be kept out of the fridge. Now my cactuses live on my fridge, and I keep dishwashing stuff, spare rags and towels, snacks, and all my spices on the shelf.
I just picked up some standard dishwashing tools to do my dishes, and they have been surprisingly durable, and, of course, I use Dr. Bronner’s soap for everything, including dishes.
Finally, here are my BIOBO bamboo dishes and colander. I love the way they look and how lightweight they are. My only warning is that they are not microwave safe, which is kind of a bummer in college where the microwave is a major cooking option. Regardless, I love this stuff.

There you have it!  My comprehensive list of tools I used, as well as some tips and recipe links for dorm room cooking.  As I said above, watch out for more recipes and cooking tips on this site, YouTube, and especially my Instagram, where I am constantly posting my pictures and recipes of simple dorm room creations.  If you like this post or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment!  Happy cooking 🙂

natural tie dye fail

Preparing my own dyes from plants and then using them for tie dye is something I had wanted to try for years.  I have loved tie dying since I was a little kid, and with all the other DIY stuff I am into, this seemed like the perfect thing to try next.

I began by researching homemade natural dyes on the internet.  There were some obvious things to try, like turmeric, berries, and beets.  I also found sites claiming that different tree barks, flower petals, grasses, roots, and produce skins could all be used to make natural dyes.  I also learned about what fabrics to use, how to prepare a mordant for different types of dye, and other methods for ensuring the dye stayed in the clothing.

I washed 4 new cotton shirts, soaked them in diluted vinegar overnight, and then rinsed them completely with cold water before dying.

I also planned for some of the dyes to fail, so I chose several different plants to test out.  I boiled each one for an hour in an equal volume of water to plant matter, and then I let them cool before bottling and using on the shirts.  Here are the plants/colors I selected:

  • beet – red
  • grass – green
  • turmeric – yellow orange
  • dogwood bark – blue
  • blueberries – purple
  • carrot – yellow

 

Because I thought beet and turmeric were the only colors that would hold, they the only two colors I used for my shirt (the other 3 shirts are Patrick’s).

After completely coating the shirts in the dyes, I placed them each in plastic bags and let them sit for more than 24 hours.  After this I rinsed them in cold water, and every color came out except turmeric and blueberry.  I was shocked that beet washed right out!  After this disappointment, I washed all the shirts in the washing machine with cold water and no detergent.  After this, the blueberry also came out almost completely, and, after subsequent washings, it too is no longer visible.  Now we have 4 only yellow tie dye shirts!

shirt mid-rinsing
shirt after rinsing and washing

 

Although I do think the yellow shirts look cool, I’m a little sad (and surprised) that no other color worked out.  There are so many factors (plants, mordant, textile, soaking time, etc.) that contributed to this project, that I’m sure I made more than one (or ten) fatal mistakes.  Next time, I think a smart move would be to get a book on the subject (rather than just reading personal blogs like this one…), stick to one color to experiment with, and follow someone else’s procedure for natural dying.

If you have any experience with natural dying, feel free to let me know in the comments the plethora of things I did wrong!  🙂

college clip: vegan dinner party in an on-campus kitchen

Asparagus Pizza

If you’re coming from my YouTube channel, welcome!  If not, check out my video that goes along with this post:

One of my goals for my second semester at college was to host a small dinner party for some of my friends.  Although I cooked a lot in my dorm room (videos and blog posts about this linked down below), I was always itching to cook in a real kitchen.  I also love cooking for other people, so a dinner party seemed like the perfect idea.

My friend Mia has a kitchen access at her dorm, the same place where we made cookies and pizza, so that’s where the gathering happened.

I began by planning a menu.  I decided I wanted to use as many seasonal and local ingredients as I could, so I based all of my recipes around local ingredients that would be available at that time (early May), such as greens, asparagus, and the remains of last year’s root vegetable crop.  Here is the Italian-inspired menu I decided on:

Sparkling Italian Soda (from Whole Foods)

Lemon Italian Ice
Green and Cannellini Bean Soup
Asparagus Pizza
Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula Pesto
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
Mushroom Lentil Loaf – Making Thyme for Health
Lemon Italian Ice – Joy Filled Days

Because I did not have time to create and test every recipe, most of them are not my own.  Here’s what I did come up with:

Green and Cannellini Bean Soup
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 vegan boullion cube
  • 14-oz can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh beet or radish greens, ripped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the leek and shallots and together for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the potato and the water and bullion and bring to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in half of the cooked beans.
  4. Stir the greens into the soup and cook a few minutes until wilted, then blend the mixture.
  5. Add the remaining beans and heat.
  6. Stir in the plant milk and season the soup with salt and pepper if desired.  I served it with a little extra almond milk on top.

(loosely adapted from Sorrel & Bean Soup by Style At Home)

Green and Cannellini Bean Soup, Asparagus Pizza

Asparagus Pizza

  • Basic Vegan Pizza Dough – Vegan Richa
  • Béchamel Sauce (made with 6 oz firm, silken tofu instead of cauliflower) – Forks Over Knives The Cookbook
  • thin asparagus
  1. Roll out the pizza dough on parchment paper.
  2. Add thin layer of the béchamel sauce, and then a long row of whole asparagus (see picture).
  3. Bake for about 15 min & enjoy

Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula Pesto

  • 1-box angel hair pasta
  • Basil Pesto (made with half basil, half arugula) – Forks Over Knives The Cookbook
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Mix pesto into pasta – that’s it!
Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

  • seasonal vegetable variety (I used beets, onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes)
  • fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons of your favorite seasonings (I used salt, pepper, dried oregano and parsley)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop vegetables to desired size.  Finely chop about 1-2 T of rosemary.
  3. Combine vegetables, rosemary, seasonings, and oil (if using) on a baking sheet.
  4. Cook for 20-35 min (depending on the size of your pieces) until a knife can be inserted fairly easily into all of the vegetables (you could also just taste it).
  5. Serve as is and enjoy.
Mushroom Lentil Loaf

After planning the menu and testing a couple of the recipes, I set the date: Tuesday May 2nd.  It was during finals week, but I knew it would be no problem since I only had one final on Monday and a paper due Wednesday, which I could have mostly completed before Tuesday.

Then came the concussion.  The Thursday before the dinner party, I fell, supposedly hit my head (I have no memory of this, but the doctors say it must have happened), and somehow got a concussion.  Of course, typical me decided to put off going to the doctor, power through finals, and go through with the dinner party which I had put so much time into planning.

Things never go as planned.  Having just had a concussion and being the physical and emotional wreck that comes with having a concussion, the dinner party was a massive struggle for me.  Headache.  Instead of biking to the kitchen, I ended up taking Uber because I knew I couldn’t make it on bike.  Motion sickness.  Then, the kitchen we wanted to use (the one with all the nice stuff – stand mixer, loaf pans, mixing bowls, plates, silverware, etc.), was being used for another event, and we had to use other one which did not have all those nice things.  Looming anxiety.  And finally, all the confusion about getting there, which kitchen we could use, and how I was going to get a few last minute ingredients pushed everything back about two hours, and there was no way I could cook all that food with so little time – my friends had finals the next morning!  Helplessness.

Angel Hair Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Mushroom Lentil Loaf, Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Thankfully, my friends helped me out.  I had wanted to do all the cooking and cleaning myself to give my friends a nice relaxing time, but my concussion-induced overdrive was not helping anyone.  So, my friend Adam did a lot of the cooking alongside me, and everyone helped me clean up.  Although it wasn’t the evening I was expecting, all the food got made and eaten, and we still had a good time.  If/when I host another dinner party, I think I’ll be a little less ambitious with the menu, and plan for the unexpected.

Asparagus Pizza

If you are looking for more information on dorm room cooking, check out these three blog posts – 1, 2, 3 – or head over to my YouTube channel where I have several dorm room recipe videos.  My Instagram @littleplantperson is also full of quick dorm room recipe ideas and cooking tips.  More posts and videos on this subject are coming soon, so stay tuned!

college clip: pizza and cookies in a community kitchen

My residence hall at school doesn’t have a kitchen, so nearly all the cooking I do takes place in my dorm room with a rice cooker (see here, here, and here).  However, a friend of mine does have community kitchen access, so we cook there together from time to time.

This weekend, I wanted to try a new pizza dough recipe, and she wanted to make cookies.  She got the cookie ingredients, I got pizza stuff, and we set to work!

Here’s how it went:  We were lucky to snag some greens from the greenhouse behind her dorm.  We could not access the kitchen with the stand mixer and multiple baking sheets, so old pots were our stand-in mixing bowls and some of our cookies were baked in a mini cupcake tray.  The first batch of cookies was a little too oily, so we added more flour, and the next ones were perfect.  The pizza toppings we used came from the salad bar at the cafeteria, and we did Daiya-stuffed crust, which, needless to say, was amazing.  Our food turned out great.

None of the recipes we made were totally original, but here is the link to the dough recipe I used (and loved), and here is how I veganized the basic Toll House cookie recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (we didn’t have any so can be made without)
  • 2 sticks vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups vegan chocolate chips (we mixed vegan white and dark chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.  Using less flour will yield flatter, crisper cookies that spread more but may be a little oily.  Using more flour will result in thicker, chewier cookies, and the flour in this recipe can be increased up to 3 cups if desired.
  3. Combine the cornstarch and water in another small bowl with a fork or whisk until fully combined.
  4. Mix butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl with a whisk) until creamy.  Add the sugars and vanilla extract, and continue to mix.  Then, add half the cornstarch/water mixture (which may need another quick stir), and combine.  Add the remaining cornstarch/water and mix, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
  5. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, and combine (switch to a spatula at this point if you are mixing by hand).  Then add about half of what is left, and combine that too.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, and mix in the remaining flour mixture.
  6. Mix in your add-ins.  This can be 2 cups regular chocolate chips, 1 cup dark chocolate chips + 1 cup white chocolate chips, 2 cups nuts, 1 cup of raisins + 1 cup peanuts, or whatever you like in a cookie.
  7. Drop 1 tablespoon mounds of cookie dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet (you should be able to fit 12 or 15 depending on the size of your tray), and bake for 9-12 minutes until just starting to brown (check that bottoms are brown/cooked if unsure).  These will be very soft right out of the oven, but they will firm up a lot after cooling.  Enjoy your vegan treats!!

 

vegan rice cooker mac n cheeze

Another rice cooker recipe is here!

img_3327

I love pasta, but, admittedly, it took me a lot of attempts to finally find a rice cooker pasta method that I liked.  The first attempt was a dry bland mush.  The second was slightly better and less overcooked but still much too dry.  I tried again and again, and I am happy to say that a palatable rice cooker pasta method is finally here.  And now it is my time to share.

It is surprisingly simple: 1 lb pasta + 2 1/2 cups water + white rice setting stirred every 3-5 min until done = amazingly tasty pasta

I will say, however, there is one small downside to rice cooker pasta.  The pasta, rather than having that deliciously smooth shine on every piece is coated with a thin layer of starch that normally would disperse throughout the large pot of water when cooking it on the stovetop.

My solution?  A sauce that’s made tastier by that starchy coating!

With some traditional methods, macaroni and cheese would be made starting with a roux, of butter and flour, and then milk would be added and left to simmer, with frequent mixing, until a sauce of desired consistency was reached.  After this, cheese, noodles, and whatever else would be added to finish off the dish.  When I normally make mac n cheeze (with access to a stove and more ingredients), I usually roughly follow this method (with vegan ingredients of course), but, in my dorm room with only a rice cooker and a microwave, I had to get a little more creative.  It occurred to me that the starch on the pasta could, in some capacity, thicken the sauce like the flour in a roux, so I simply skipped the flour, added the plant milk, and my final cheeze sauce came out just fine!  No weird starchiness (as was the case with img_3340other sauces) and a sauce consistency almost identical to one made with flour.  My mac n cheeze was a success!!
Now that I’ve finished rambling about cultural food norms and cooking pseudoscience, here’s the recipe:

Vegan Rice-cooker Mac n Cheeze:

(By the way, here’s a video of this recipe if you haven’t already seen it)

  • 1 lb pasta (I recommend macaroni, shells, or rotini)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • chopped veggies (optional – I used garlic, red onion, spinach, mushrooms, and broccoli)
  • 2 cups plant milk (I used soy)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp seasoning mix (I used Bragg Sprinkle Seasoning but garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, and/or dried rosemary would all be good here)
  • 1 tbs mustard (yellow or Dijon)
  • black pepper for serving (optional)
  1. Add pasta and water to rice cooker and cook on white rice setting, stirring every 3-5 min until pasta is about halfway cooked (around 6-10 minutes).
  2. Add chopped vegetables and thoroughly mix (or skip this step if not using veggies).
  3. Close lid and continue cooking until veggies and pasta are fully cooked (6-10 minutes), stirring every 3-5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the rice cooker, add nutritional yeast, seasoning, and mustard, and mix everything together.
  5. Serve topped with black pepper if desired.

carrot and split pea soup

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A couple of weeks ago, I visited my university’s student-run organic farm.  It was something like a 4.3-mile bike ride, uphill almost the whole way, in 90-degree heat.  It was challenging for me, but it was so much fun.

There was only one person working that day, and he offered to show us (Patrick and me) around.  At the end of seeing everything there, he took us to a giant walk-in fridge inside their building, and inside were boxes upon boxes of harvested vegetables.  He showed me a few stacks of boxes from which, he said, I could take whatever I wanted…for FREE.  I ended up getting a huge bag of carrots, a shallot, and a bell pepper.  This was before I had any idea of how much I could actually make in my rice cooker/slow cooker, so I didn’t want to take too much stuff, in case I would not be able to use it.

The carrots I got were amazing.  They were the sweetest carrots I have ever tasted, and I used them to make soup.  The soup’s main ingredients are local carrots, local potatoes (from my CSA box back home), and local split peas (from my favorite stand at the farmer’s market).  I love using fresh, local ingredients, and I am so glad I was able to prepare them in my dorm.

If you try this recipe or are inspired by it to make something else, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Here it is:

Carrot and Split Pea Soup:

  • 1 diced shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped potatoes
  • 1 cup dried split peas
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups vegetable broth, 4 cups water)
  • 2 tsp multi-purpose seasoning (I used Bragg Sprinkle Seasoning)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  1. Place all ingredients into slow cooker or rice cooker/multi-cooker, and stir everything together.
  2. For a slow cooker, cook on the “high” setting for 2 1/2 hours.  For a rice cooker/multi-cooker, cook on the “slow cook” setting for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. When the soup is done, give it a good mix, and serve with extra pepper.

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dorm-friendly sweet cinnamon rice

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I am a college student now.  At my university, I am required to live on campus for my first year, which, of course, means no private kitchen.  I have heard about a community kitchen nearby, but it isn’t like I am going to make the trek over there, arms piled with ingredients and cooking supplies, every time I feel like whipping up a quick meal.

Lucky for me, a lot of the people around me have been really supportive of me cooking in my dorm and have gifted me some super cool gadgets solely for that purpose.  If any one of the people who contributed to my collection is reading this, you know who you are, so thank you.

The tool I use in today’s recipe is my Aroma Professional Rice Cooker.  I have just started experimenting with cooking soups, pastas, and other dorm-friendly meals, so today’s recipe is a simple one that only cooks rice.

Before I get to the recipe, I would like to note that I am not just eating in my dorm.  My cafeteria has a lot of vegan salad options, soups, and starches, and I go there once, usually twice, and sometimes three times a day.  I could easily eat vegan at the cafeteria, but I certainly prefer to cook my own foods, at least some of the time.  Not only is what I make usually healthier, but it is also fun for me, and I hope to have more college dorm creations to share with you guys this school year.

Now, onto the recipe…

Dorm-Friendly Sweet Cinnamon Rice:

  • 2 rice cooker cups uncooked rice (1 1/2 standard cups)
  • water
  • 1-3 teaspoons maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • a couple sprinkles of cinnamon
  • rasins (optional)
  1. Place rice into rice cooker container, and rinse the rice.  To do this, fill the container (with rice already in it) with water, mix with your hand, and drain, being careful not to dump out any rice.  Repeat until the water is relatively clear.
  2. Add water to 2 cup line and cook according to rice cooker directions.  The water added will be about 4 rice cooker cups or 3 standard cups.
  3. When the rice is done, divide it between 2 bowls, and add maple syrup, cinnamon, and raisins to taste.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this recipe!

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