Meal Five: the HAM Boys, Kristen

Last week’s edition of Meals with MelRob brought me to the dubbed HAM  house, chock-full of some charming individuals including my friends Michael, Matt, and Ethan, who were all present at dinner. Our non-HAM friend, Kristen, additionally graced the meal with her presence and wit. Knowing the boys of HAM-house, I wanted to be sure to have enough food to leave everyone uncomfortably full, as promised in the preamble of Meals with MelRob. So, what was I to cook do?

The Menu:

– Edamame and Corn Salad from Veganomicon

– Cincinnati Suburb Chili from Vegan on the Cheap, p.80

– Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies via Post Punk Kitchen

Salad Salutations: 

What is a salad if not the perfect salutation to your dinner guests? Veganomicon’s Edamame and Corn Salad is a quick and easy dish that requires only a brief cook time on the frozen vegetables and a quick whisking of a few ingredients for the dressing. Here’s the recipe with some notes.

  • 2 cups shelled edamame (frozen)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar or red wine vinegar (I used a bit of both and added balsamic to taste because I found the dressing to be bland, not to mention that I have a balsamic vinegar problem/love affair)
  • 1 generous tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

Simply boil frozen edamame for five minutes, adding frozen corn in the last two. Rinse veggies in a colander with cold water and place in a large bowl. Meanwhile, whisk together the liquid ingredients and adjust to taste, adding salt if desired. Then add the toasted sesame seeds (or, toast your own with  bit of oil on the stove–here’s how if you are feeling insecure in regard to your toasting abilities) and dressing to the veggies, letting everything marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. I made this the night before to ease my cooking anxieties for the mean, also doubling this recipe to feed all of my guests appropriately (and still had leftovers for lunch–WIN!).

Edamame and Corn Salad -- Refreshing and filling!

Chill-out with Chili: Comfort Food

I adore chili in general and, in particular, Vegan on the Cheap‘s Cincinnati Suburb Chili. What is Cincinnati Chili, you ask? I had no idea that of this regional take on chili until I came across the vegan “suburb” version of the city-wide phenomena. From what I learned from Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap and gleaned from this Wikipedia article, Cincinnati-style chili involves the layering of ingredients, the bottom of which is a bed of spaghetti. Accordingly, the vegan Suburb-version entails a three-way layering of spaghetti pasta, a tomato and kidney bean chili base, and a fantastic and easy “cheezee” sauce. How to make and assemble all of the layers of this satisfying comfort food follows.

1. Spaghetti — I used boxed whole wheat spaghetti for the pasta.

Love me some carbs.

2. Chili

A rich chili, spiced with some traditional chili powder and cumin as well as cocoa powder and cinnamon.

The ingredients for the chili are below:

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions (I used some yellows I found loitering on my shelf–no one died or cried at the results)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I whipped out my microplane grater to expedite the process)
  • 1, 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups cooked kidney beans (if you are using canned, that’s 3 traditional cans)
In a large pot, saute onions in oil until soft, adding garlic for about a minute before adding everything but the beans and bring to a boil. Then add beans and let simmer for approximately 45 minutes.
3. Cheezee Sauce (page 36 of Vegan on the Cheap)

No, I said cheeZe, not cheese. This 'cheezee' sauce wins the hearts of vegans and omnivores alike.

  • 2/3 nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 garlic powder
  • 2 cups plain and unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
First, get excited, particularly if this is your first time making a vegan cheese-esque sauce or using nutritional yeast at all for that matter. Then, in a medium-sized saucepan, add yeast, cornstarch, salt, and garlic powder (dry ingredients), turning heat on to medium and whisking in the soy milk. Whisk until the mixture thickens, a process I have found to take anywhere from a minute to around five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients! I haven’t messed this sauce up yet and I think it’s empowering to make something so tasty of which many cannot guess the components.

Some assembly required--simply layer chili on pasta and top off with some cheezee sauce in your favorite bowl.

Perfect to curl up with and watch your favorite movie, feel less empty.

Credit to Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap and the powers that be.

Dessert: Cookies from a Credible Source

I have recently fallen hard for the Post Punk Kitchen. I can’t even say that I took it slow or cautiously–I opened up my kitchen to PPK and have made several recipes in the last month from the charming site. I still don’t know how to have conversation about seeing other food blogs, though. Be tempted by the Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookie recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen! You won’t regret it in the morning.

How could you go wrong with oatmeal raisin cookies? Certainly not by adding pumpkin to the mix.

Comfort Food, Conversations:

This meal with MelRob held a tumultuous start for MelRob. Was it when I noticed the trail of soy milk following me down the stairs of my apartment or when I spilled the [kidney] beans in the process of cleaning up my mess that I suspected things would not be wholly successful? It’s hard to say, but I do try to learn from my mistakes. It turns out that it isn’t a good idea to put an opened soy milk carton in a suitcase, no matter how tightly you think you have secured the lid. Also, it is important to invest in sound tupperware containers that will prevent spills that waste food and destroy belongings. Alas!

Thankfully, I had my favorite comfort food and the company of wonderful people in which to bask. Over dinner, we talked a lot about comfort food and how powerful it is to take the time to eat a meal you enjoy absolutely on some of your worst days. Everyone had their own comfort foods, some stemming from family traditions, associations, or simply convenience and flavor. Kristen mentioned (unsurprisingly, since I have seen her on campus with breadsticks in tow) that her go-to comfort food is cheesy breadsticks. Since I have not had or seen a vegan version of this, I am pledging to try and hopefully perfect one at a future meal with MelRob. If anyone contacts me with a favorite comfort food to vegan-ize, I am always up to the challenge.

Take comfort in your relationships with food and friends!

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