My First Cookbook

Vegan Cinnamon Toast

I got my first cookbook in grade school, Peanuts Cook Book, cartoons by Charles Schulz with recipes by June Dutton. It was one of those Scholastic books that you order through the public school; so excited when the box of books finally arrived in the classroom and so impatient for the teacher to pass them out.

I found the book while cleaning out some old things at my parent’s house. Just flipping through it brought back all sorts of memories. Apparently, I liked to write my name in my book and circled the recipes that sounded good. I suspect I really got it for the cartoons – interspersed with the recipes are food or eating related Peanuts comic strips.

Peanuts Cook Book

The only recipe I remember making is Security Cinnamon Toast, using either the toaster or the broiler. I’m pretty sure I went with the toaster method since I made it all by myself without any supervision – after making the toast, spread with butter right away and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Today, it’s whole grain toast and vegan butter, but still super easy and diy-kid-friendly.

Scrambled Tofu with Stewed Tomatoes

For fun, I veganized Sally’s Scrambled Eggs with (or without) Stewed Tomatoes. It was not one of the circled recipes, I can’t imagine wanting to eat canned stewed tomatoes as a small child. With a kitchen counter overflowing with fresh tomatoes, there’s no need to reach for the canned stuff. And with tofu instead of eggs, there’s nothing left of the original recipe but the idea – stewed tomatoes actually goes really well with scrambled tofu.

Do you remember your very first cookbook? How about your first vegan cookbook? Mine was The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit for Life Kitchen by Marilyn Diamond (vegetarian is in the title, but it’s also vegan). Though it has fallen along the wayside now that there’s a seemingly endless stream of new vegan cookbooks hitting the market. An embarrassment of riches of the best kind.

Scrambled Tofu with Stewed Tomatoes

Scrambled Tofu
There’s no shortage of scrambled tofu recipes in cookbooks or online, use your favorite or the basic recipe below.
1 package extra-firm tofu, well drained, pressed and crumbled (I used a tofu press)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Black salt (Kala Namak) – optional

Heat a skillet to hot and add a little bit of oil, swirl to coat the pan. Add the tofu and then the spices, cook to your desired level of doneness. Sprinkle with black salt if using.

Stewed Tomatoes
1 1/2 cups garden fresh cherry tomatoes, diced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/4 small white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of butter
Sugar to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, heat the butter. Add the onion and celery, cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.

Top the scrambled tofu with the stewed tomatoes and serve immediately.

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Vegan Eating at the Home of SF Giants

Garlic Fries at AT&T Park

The other weekend I attended my first San Francisco Giants baseball game at AT&T Park. I had heard they had vegan hot dogs. Not that I eat hot dogs all that much but it’s pretty cool to be able to have one sitting at the ballpark just like everyone else.

To my dismay, when I asked to confirm that it’s vegan, the counter person said it’s not. Knowing I was going to the game, I had done my homework on vegan options there. I even made a note of the closest vegan food to my seating section. So I asked what makes it not vegan – does it have egg?

They brought out the ingredients list for me to look at and it’s a Field Roast Frankfurter, of course that’s vegan. It’s a good hot dog – I haven’t tried it before even though it’s available at Whole Foods for awhile now. It’s made from vital wheat gluten which I prefer over the soy based ones. The texture seems better.

Field Roast Hot Dog at AT&T Park

I also got garlic fries because you really can’t go to AT&T Park and not get the fries. They’re not the super crispy kind. They’re pretty soft but still delicious and garlicky. The food came out quick but it was probably because it was on the early side and there wasn’t a line yet. It’s captive audience pricing though, with the five dollar bottle of water, my hot dog and fries lunch ended up being just under 20 bucks.

Baseball Players at AT&T Park

I didn’t look for any other vegan options, I’m sure there’s other items. From my seat, this is the view of the players warming up before the game. It’s way more interesting experiencing the game in person than watching it on tv; I didn’t want to miss any of the action wandering around looking for something else to eat. Although there’s a handy interactive map of the park amenities on the Giants website that show locations of food/drink by level and section.

A helpful site for finding veggie options at various ballparks:
Veggie Happy MLB Venue Vegetarian Guide

Vegan Green Beans and Bacon

Vegan Green Beans and Bacon

I wasn’t planning on bringing home a giant bag of freshly-picked-in-peak-season green beans from the farmer’s market. But after being offered a sample (raw no less), I just had to get a bag. I had no choice really, if they’re this good raw, they must be extra good cooked.

Whenever I buy green beans, I take the time to pick out the most tender, bright green and skinniest ones. Occasionally, I get the odd look for being so picky, usually from other customers who just shove handfuls into a bag without any regard to what they’re grabbing.

Having been taught by my mom at a young age how to pick out produce, I wouldn’t dare bring home and serve any old, tough, or blemished green beans. Even today, if I grocery shop for my parents, I would not hear the end of it if I brought over subpar produce. Fortunately, at this particular vendor, every bean was a near perfect specimen (you could just tell they were proud of them, it’s probably why they were offering green bean samples).

So what should I make with my bountiful loot? With super fresh ingredients, I like to go with something simple so the taste shines through. But not so simple that it’s boring. Having finally procured Upton’s Naturals Bacon Seitan the other day, I was itching to try it out in a dish. Hence, vegan green beans with bacon.

Upton’s is definitely the best veggie bacon available today. Its ingredients list simple and non-scary: vital wheat gluten, soy sauce, whole wheat flour, natural hickory smoke concentrate, paprika, sea salt and onion. Of course it doesn’t really taste like bacon nor is it crispy like bacon. But it added a wonderful smokiness and saltiness to the subtlety sweet, crisp green beans. If you’re not into bacon seitan, you can always use sun-dried tomatoes instead.

Vegan Green Beans and Bacon
Serves 2 as a side dish

1/2 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2-3 strips of vegan bacon (such as Upton’s Naturals Bacon Seitan)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for cooking

Bring a pot of water to boil and add the green beans. Cook until just crisp-tender about 1 to 2 minutes or so depending on the size of the beans. If they’re slender like French green beans, they’ll take less time than thicker beans. Drain and set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add a little oil and pan-fry the vegan bacon to crispy. Transfer the bacon slices to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. If necessary, add a little more oil to the skillet to cook the shallots until golden.

Toss in the green beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir-fry until the beans are hot. Transfer to a serving dish. Cut the bacon strips into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the green beans. Serve immediately.