What is The Vegan(ish) Experiment?

Our family (me, my husband D, and our four-year-old Molly) started 2009 with a mostly-vegan, macrobiotic-inspired diet (although I have to admit, the strict macro rules have pretty much gone out the window). I have seen a marked improvement in my chronic migraines, and I'm enjoying proving that we can make amazing, mouth-watering, memorable food without animal products. For a more in-depth intro, click here.

I stopped updating this blog quite awhile back, when life got in the way. I'm still keeping a mostly vegan kitchen, though, and loving it. Have fun browsing my recipes!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Day 4: Shopping and Stew

We did a big shopping trip the day before yesterday - a little Asian store near our house (we're lucky to live in a big Asian neighborhood, because many ingredients in macrobiotic recipes are Asian ones that are more obscure to most Westerners), Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods. We bought a ton of stuff to stock our cupboards, including millet, hulled barley, dried garbanzo and adzuki beans, tahini, tempeh, tofu (super-cheap at the Asian store, and made right down the street from the school where I teach), wakame and kombu seaweed, miso, tamari, brown rice syrup, brown rice vinegar, dried mushrooms, nutritional yeast, quinoa,...

This was my first time ever of buying 12 out of the above 16 ingredients, although I had tried all but the brown rice syrup and nutritional yeast. I had bought tofu, dried mushrooms, quinoa, and tahini in the past. It was all a little pricey when added together ... but many of the ingredients will last a long time in the fridge or pantry.

A small sample from our trip:

Yesterday afternoon, I made hummus from the wonderful recipe at The Vegan Spoonful blog. I've made hummus before, but never from chickpeas that I cooked myself. I don't know why I've always been so afraid to cook beans (rather than buying them in a can) - it was simple, but it does require soaking overnight, so not good for a last-minute dish. I added kombu to the soaking and cooking water (a type of kelp - I had no idea there were so many varieties of seaweed out there), which helps tenderize the beans and prevent their more ... pungent side effects.

I didn't take a picture of the hummus. It turned out really pretty, with coarse-ground pepper, a few chickpeas, and a swirl of olive oil on top. And then I took one of the homemade pita chips I'd thrown together in 10 minutes and ruined the pretty picture. So click over to the recipe to see how the hummus is supposed to look! It was really, really good. Molly LOVES it. She eats it with a spoon. She calls it "Thomas" instead of "hummus." ("More Thomas, please, Mama!")

Finally, for dinner, we put some of our new ingredients to work on Barley Mushroom Soup from The Self Healing Cookbook. I don't want to put the recipe in this post, because it's copyrighted and I didn't really adapt it enough to call it my own. But basically, it's a kombu-and-mushroom broth with barley, sesame oil, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaf, dill, cabbage and miso all added in at various points. It was really, really, really good. Thick, somehow creamy (without any "creamy" ingredients), and surprisingly filling! It was even better tonight when we had it for leftovers.

Here is a picture (I looked at my camera manual and am getting slowly better at food photography):

I've done more cooking, too - marinated and slow-baked tempeh and tofu for lunch today, with enough extra to bring during the week, and quinoa pilaf to bring for lunch. Maybe more on that stuff later, but leave a comment if you're interested in the recipes (or search around my delicious.com page, under the "vegan" label).

Needless to say, I'm enjoying the adventure!

P.S. I have mentioned tempeh several times, without ever explaining what it is. It is sort of a cultured soybean cake, with other whole grains added in. The one I used today had millet, barley, and brown rice in it. It has a really good texture and is a great meat alternative (one that doesn't add all kinds of unpronounceable stuff to make it taste like meat - it doesn't taste like meat, it tastes like tempeh. And that's good!) It can be sliced or crumbled. Tempeh is cultured, just as yogurt and many cheeses are cultured. Here's a good picture - you can see what a complex texture it has.


  1. Some of that sounds really good...the tempeh, hummus, pita, veggies, miso, etc.

    Some of it...well, you know not to get me started on mushrooms.

  2. I've ordered a copy of the book (has to come from the US so it will be a while) and cannot wait to do the barley mushroom soup. Your photo makes it look gorgeous.

  3. This post was very educational, not to mention yummy looking! Your last post with the tacos inspired me to make some vegetarian tacos myself (a really simple recipe I found here, only I use my own taco seasoning instead of a packet). I used the leftovers today to make seven layer dip... only I think there were only five layers. :)

  4. Beth - you would've gagged at the smell! The soup was REALLY mushroom-y. It turns out dried mushrooms are super-cheap at the Asian store, so I put in lots of extra. I bet Jason would like tempeh, though, if you want to try it sometime.

    Scriptor Senex - I'm so glad you ordered a copy! Let me know what you think of it. I got one of my coworkers to order a copy for her mother-in-law, who has fibromyalgia and tries to strictly control her diet.

    Janell - that recipe looks great! I'll have to try it. I saved it to my delicious page. And your taco seasoning recipe is the same as the one we always used growing up, which I still use now. We got it from one of the Make-a-Mix Cookery cookbooks. I have never seen it online, and will bookmark your recipe blog now - thanks!

  5. Hi! I also marinade and bake tofu and like it so much better that way! I prepare it similarly, but one extra thing I do that you might want to try. When you put it in the oven to cook, put it on a rack with a pan under it. Cook 10 min then take the pan away. By that time, any drippings will be through dripping and it will be a little dryer (If you want that consistency)
    My word verification is twism - Sister twins, maybe?

  6. I got my taco seasoning recipe from Grace's mom's family cookbook. (She compiled all of her best loved recipes into a cookbook for family and friends, and also sold some to make a little money.) I bet she got the recipe from the make-a-mix cookery cookbook too!

  7. I love hummus, but I've never been organised enough to soak & cook my own chickpeas. Or any other beans, for that matter. Tins all the way for those of us who don't plan meals more than a day ahead ;)

    Good luck with your experiment!

  8. Hi Becki! Beth sent me your direction - I'm also a migraine sufferer so I'm interested to see how you do with your experiment. Good luck!


I love it when people come back and tell me how the recipes turned out - please consider doing so! Thanks!


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