Monday, April 28, 2014

A Look at Feeding the Hungry Ghost by Ellen Kanner

I recently stumbled upon this book on Scribd and thought I'd give it a try.  I wasn't sure if it was a cookbook or a memoir and even after finishing it I'm still not certain.

In Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith and What to Eat for Dinner, Ellen Kanner shares her history, her wisdom and her experiences alongside a collection of some of the best vegan recipes I've seen in a long time.  The recipes in this book aren’t processed; they’re primal. They embrace all cultures and are made from real food from the earth, food that goes back centuries.  Kanner takes these old recipes steeped in culture and tradition and turns them into vegan comfort food at its best.

One of the things that appealed to me the most about this book was the author's and my mutual connection with the kitchen and food.  In describing one of the recipes called the Hungry Ghost Mood Modifier, she warns the reader that the recipe requires a lot of vegetables and a bit of prep.  Embrace the process, she says, it's there to get you out of your own head.  Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I head to the kitchen to get myself into a better one.  The steps required in a recipe will always pull me out of that funk. There's no better cure for overthinking than chopping and sauteing vegetables and creating nature's aromatic anti-depressant and Kanner knows this as well as I do.

I was pulled out of many funks during the reading of this delicious book.  The author blends fun humor into her writing as evidenced in the recipe instructions for Tuscan White Beans and Winter Greens Soup where she writes, Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer unattended for 90 minutes. Check your e-mail, have a quickie, watch Mad Men, whatever.  Even if you're not interested in making a particular recipe, you will want to read each one to see how Kanner has incorporated her warm, funny humor into them.

I was only halfway through this book when I made the decision to send a copy to Dr. D.'s daughter in London.  She continually popped into my mind as I read and I knew I'd want to share it with her as I'm sharing it my readers now.  This book is food for the soul.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where have you been all my Violife?!

Some of you may remember my act of derring-do when I smuggled Violife cheese into the U.S. from the U.K.  I fought off scary bomb-sniffing beagles and perjured myself on my customs form just to be able to bring back the delicious goodness of this vegan cheese not yet available in the U.S.

Violife is a vegan cheese made of coconut oil and produced in Greece.  It's getting a lot of attention for its flavor, texture and meltability; all the things vegans miss about calves' milk cheeses.

Upon my return to the U.S., I generously and selflessly shared my meager allotment with my brother, the Meaty Vegan who blogged about it and got noticed by Violife, the makers of this amazing cheese.

They set him up with samples and he took care of me too.  I was thrilled to find a little cooler arrive at my office from Greece and inside were samples of many of their cheeses:  cheddar, original, smoked, mozzarella, herb, hot pepper and tomato and basil.  I also received some cream cheese to try.

The first thing I did was take the mozzarella to Aiello's, my favorite restaurant where one of the owners asked the chef to make me an onion pizza using it.  This was the result:

It melted beautifully and even the chef was amazed that it stood up to the high heat of the pizza oven!

I heard through the Violife grapevine that the Tomato and Basil flavor was especially good in a grilled cheese sandwich.  Having been a fan of grilled cheese and tomato during my vegetarian days, I thought I'd try it.  It was amazing!

Not the greatest picture but you can see the cheese oozing over the edge of the bread.  I may have happened to have made it on rye bread with caraway seeds.  That's just how I roll.

One of my favorite breakfasts is a tofu scramble.  It usually looks like this:

Kinda sad, dontcha think?

But on a whim, I added a slice of the Smoked flavor which made it look like this:

That's better! 

Not especially creative but it was so delicious! The smokey flavor is reminiscent of bacon and I have now started adding it to my scramble toward the end of the cooking time so it incorporates itself into every amazing bite.

For mornings when I'm scrambling for time and don't have time to scramble tofu, a bagel with their creamy cream cheese is just the ticket!

I wish I had the time to experiment a little more with their cheeses but it's nice to know I can use them for my quick go-to meals when I'm in a hurry.  Keep an eye out for Violife to make its U.S. debut!  It's sure to be a hit!