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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Hang onto your fishnets, misfits–it’s time for another installment of “Ask Bad Mama Genny!”  And today’s episode is likely to pull at the heartstrings of all you sweet-toothed yet lactarded gals and fellas out there.  Read on for Michelle’s query:

Caramel! I miss it as a lactard, have you found any suitable alternatives; or even better, a way to make the real thing?
Thanks a million!
Michelle

Caramel is a tough one, misfits.

Hey, hey, hey, come back here!   I didn’t say it was “impossible,” misfits!  I said it was “a tough one,” okay?  Thereby causing you to realize the enormity of the task I have undertaken and increasing my glory tenfold when you watch me do it BECAUSE OH HELLZ YES I DID DO IT.

So as we’ve discussed in the past, I am lactose-intolerant.  This does not mean that I no longer live like A Rock Star.   Not living like A Rock Star is totally not an option for me.  Therefore I need caramel.  Everybody knows that rock stars and caramel go together like gin and tonic water which IS REALLY FUCKING WELL.

Me=Rock Star.

Stop laughing.

In any case, Your Bad Mama Genny does not possess the inner fortitude to give up things like ice cream and cream soups and caramel.  Simple as that.

But, uh, let’s be frank here: I also LITERALLY do not possess the inner fortitude to eat them.  So I find ways around it.  Coconut ice cream.  Almond milk.  Hallucinogenic substances.  You know, the usual.  I tweak my recipes until they’re just as satisfying as the original, and YOU, yes, YOU reap the benefits.

So let’s talk caramel–technically speaking, caramel can just be, well, caramel, as in caramelized sugar.  Sugar plus heat equals caramel.  But right now you’re all, Oh, Bad Mama Genny, that is SO NOT what Michelle meant.  And I so know you’re right.  What Michelle meant is that gooey, creamy stuff you could eat out of a jar with a spoon–that stuff you drizzle on ice cream, over cakes, or all over yourselves for a bizarre photo shoot that will probably surface in Sweden someday.

I canz handle that challenge, my wittle misfittles.

So onto the dang quesadillas! (Please tell me you got that reference.)

I mean, the dang caramel!

Dairy-Free, Vegan Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar or evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (seriously, misfits, vanilla bean paste is my MSG–use it, and use it liberally)
2 T. vegan Earth Balance spread–or butter, if you can tolerate it (I can) and don’t have a problem with dairy on principle
1 dash sea salt
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons cold water

Directions:
Put sugars and Earth Balance in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Meanwhile, set the coconut milk in a small saucepan over low heat to get steamy.  Now cook the sugars and butter, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it’s smooth and melty and sugars have dissolved (about 5 minutes).  Now toss in the vanilla bean paste or extract and stir quickly to incorporate–be careful, the mixture may froth up at this point.  Now slowly add the steaming coconut milk while stirring.  When it’s incorporated, mix the cornstarch with the cold water in a small bowl.  Add it to the caramel mixture while stirring, and let the mixture bubble until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Then transfer it to a jar or airtight container and OM NOM NOM NOM NOM start over again.

Enjoy, Michelle!

And for all of you lactarded misfits looking for a lil’ more non-dairy love, check out a few other recipes I’ve posted for your nomming pleasure:

Dairy-free, Soy-free, Vegan Macaroni & Cheese

Dairy-free Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

Swedish Meatballs with Dairy-free “Sour Cream” and Mushroom Sauce

(Remember, misfits, you can submit your own question for your Bad Mama Genny to answer by clicking right here.)

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Recently I was contacted in connection with this blog (WHOAH, SOMEONE CONTACTED YOU IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR BLOG, OMG, THAT MUST MEAN YOU HAVE, LIKE, AT LEAST ONE READER!  ahaha, shut up.).  The person who contacted me is a vegetarian, and he wondered if I’d ever considered vegetarianism, since my focus tends to be on healthy and humane eating.  He was as gentle and non-offensive as he could be while still firmly stating his vegetarian ethic.  At one point he added, “I personally consider humane-killing a joke,” and he wondered how someone who had hand-fed an animal all summer could then kill it and eat it at harvesttime.

This is not an easy issue.  This is so, so, so not an easy issue.  I’m an “animal lover”.  I’m probably responsible for the many allergies that I have as an adult, since as a child I never existed with fewer than 11 household pets at a time.  The idea of raising a hen for a few years of eggs and then slaughtering her when she stops producing makes me feel…terrible.  No joke.  TERRIBLE.  Couldn’t do it.

And yet I eat chicken.  I also eat beef, lamb, pork, bison, goat, and rabbit, among others.  Not often–The Boy and I eat vegetarian meals on a majority of nights.  But nevertheless, we do eat some meat, and I’ve struggled with this before.  Does it make people hypocritical if they eat animals they’re not so sure they could slaughter themselves?  While I’ve never gone gung ho vegetarian, I dabbled with a vegan lifestyle for a time while I lived in New York, and decided it wasn’t for me.

There are many anti-vegetarian rebuttals out there written by people who are ferociously defending their own choices with no small disregard for the arguments of the other side.  There are some disgusting and abhorrent things written and done by misguided vegetarians (oh, Lord, PETA, do you really need one more person to call you out?).

I don’t appreciate the extremist tactics of either side.  None of us have all the answers, and I won’t pretend to.  I also won’t stoop to making fun of the other side to make myself look better.  Chances are, we’re both a little right, and a little wrong.  But I’m currently living an omnivorous lifestyle, and I stand behind the reasoning that got me there.

Here’s an excerpt from my response to him.

I agree that it’s hard to believe happy animals can come from industrial animal farms.  That’s why I refuse to eat meat from factory farms.  I’ve instead chosen small, local, family-run establishments.  The offer has been extended to me to shake the hands of the people who care for the animals, and even to inspect their living conditions and pet the animals myself.  So I believe there are people raising animals in a kind and humane way.  It is not the majority of animals being raised for consumption today, sadly, and I am behind every effort to change those numbers.

As regards slaughter, yes, I do think I would find it difficult to slaughter an animal I had raised, but then again, I’ve never raised animals for slaughter.  How can we speak of what we do not know?  I’ve talked to some of the families that do, and they have told me it is something you never think you will be able to do, but seemingly miraculously, can and do with much less heartache than anticipated.  That they feel united to nature’s cycles when they raise animals for consumption.  That they have enormous respect and gratitude for the sacrifices being made by these animals for the well-being of people.  Again, I do find the idea difficult, but I’m open to trying my own hand at it someday.  I cannot attack it in good conscience because I have not tried to understand for myself.

I have great respect for the vegetarian movement and, aside from some fringe zealots, find most of their aims to be true and pure.  But I know these people that raise animals for human consumption, and their aims are also true and pure.  I find no reason to choose the vegetarians over the family farmers in this regard.

I’ve considered vegetarianism in the past, and lived that way for a brief span of 6 months, in that time taking care to substitute appropriate fats, proteins, and B-vitamins.  During that time my health wavered tenuously and I never lost that very primitive craving for meat.  Perhaps it is something I will try again in the future.  In the meantime, I see no cause for changing a lifestyle that is in accordance with my ethics and keeps me feeling healthy and satisfied.

What do you think, guys?  How do you connect “loving animals” with the choice to eat them?

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Why this photo?  Because happy vegetables make delicious salsa.

And also because the neighbors didn’t seem alarmed enough yet.

Anybody plant one little tomatillo plant and end up with bushels of fruit?  No?  How about you CSA subscribers?  Did you open your box this week only to be buried under 3 feet of little green paper lanterns?  No?

Okay, fine.  Well, any misfits out there like salsa verde?  Is that a good enough reason for you to read this, then?

Is it?!

IS IT?!

I have a compulsive need for approval.  I’m working on it. In the meantime you’ll just have to placate me.  I mean, if that’s okay with you.

A few weeks ago, The Boy and I attended the Chicago Beer Society’s annual picnic so he could show his support for his newest beer-related membership, eat and drink to excess, and have an excuse to make multiple kinds of potato salad (Kalamata Olive, and Hot Pepper Ranch).  What with a chili cookoff, a rib cookoff, an “other meats” cookoff (not as suspicious as it sounds, promise.  Okay, slightly suspicious.  Shut up, that pate was amaaaaaazing.  But it wasn’t, interestingly enough, “cooked off.”  Ooh, totally suspicious now.), a salsa competition, and 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew, I don’t think I need to tell you how completely awesomesauce it was.

What I do need to tell you is that 16 self-serve kegs of local craft brew is a GREAT way to sell t-shirts that say “Chicago Beer Society” to people who aren’t even members of the Chicago Beer Society.  I won’t tell you whom.

I don’t want to name names.

Wouldn’t want to embarrass anyone.

Anyhoo, as I stood in the salsa line and surveyed my options, a revelation came over me.  Actually, what the hell, let’s call it an epiphany.  A life-changing, zesty, sweat-inducing epiphany.  I scanned crocks and bowls of various shapes and sizes, some containing chunky concoctions, some smooth, some with mango, some with cilantro, some that looked suspiciously like Pace Picante–

–friends, clearly the word of the day is “suspicious;” just puttin’ that out there.  Didn’t think we could ignore the truth any longer–

–and some that were so hot they were practically melting the Tupperware they came in.  But I wasn’t having any of it, folks.  ‘Cause most of them were red!  (Commie connotations aside.)

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like me a red salsa.  But oh.  Oh.  OH.  That green stuff is where my heart is.

That green stuff is where my heart is.  I must say that at least 80 times a day.

Enough time passed, and eventually 2 or 3 green salsas made it to the table.  And they were decent.  Good, even.  Not suspicious at all.  But I longed for the day when I could make my own salsa verde.  When some beautiful tomatillos would show up on MY doorstep, and then I could make my OWN salsa, and take pictures of MY salsa, and give you a recipe for said SALSA, and then I’d show EVERYBODY!

That’s right, I’ll show EVERYBODY.

All of them.  Whoever they are.

But there weren’t any decent tomatillos to be found.  None in a convenient two-block radius, at least.  Hey, I never said I was willing to go the extra mile for this salsa.  Just the extra two blocks.  So I commenced waiting…

Waiting…

Lurking…

More suspicious Lurking…

Waiting…

Until finally I was able to nab some fresh, locally grown, organic tomatillos.  Pretty convenient, actually–showed up in a kit with my CSA delivery, complete with a recipe that I didn’t end up using, since I already had one that was, oddly, pretty close to that one.

Anyhow.  Tomatillos.  Nom nom nom.  Actually, more like nom, ow, nom, eww, nom, spit.  ‘Cause tomatillos are hard little buggers that take a little softening up to bring out their delicious side.  A little cajoling.  A little persuading.  A little…something special.

Alright, so you dump in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, ‘kay?  Goooosh!

Let’s talk salsa.

We had this on steak last night.

Steak Before <cue sad trumpet noise that signals disappointment>:

Steak After <cue triumphant trumpeting>:

Whoah, yeah!  That steak is one prime suspect!  The crime?  Severe deliciousness!

It’s also great with chips, on burritos or enchiladas verdes (ooh, idea!  idea!), stirred into guacamole, or, oh hellz bellz, on eggs in the morning.  If I know The Boy, and I think I do, he’s going to come home from work (aka, that place that takes him away from me and causes me to cry and then actually get some work done and then cry some more) and stir this green heaven into vegetable juice for a spicy Bloody Mary.  He’s a genius, that there The Boy.

And not even a bit suspicious.

The Suspicious Salsa Verde to End All Suspicious Salsa Verdes (It’s the word of the day, guys, I kinda hafta take this all the way)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Suspicious Ingredients:

10 to 12 tomatillos, suspicious, of varying sizes, peeled
2 teeny suspicious-looking onions, peeled
1 small bunch cilantro leaves (suspicious)
3 cloves garlic (I suspect them…of making this salsa awesome! Oh ho ho!)
1/2 jalapeno, with seeds (this makes a solid medium heat salsa; use more or less, or leave out the seeds, depending on your preferences); the jalapeno isn’t suspicious.  It’s just flat out diabolical.
1/2 T. lime juice (not so suspicious)
salt to taste (I used about 1 tsp.) (suspicions abound!)
freshly ground black pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp.) (SUSPICIOUS!)
Suspicious Directions:

Gather your ingredients. Hey, everybody know what time it is?

Tool Time!

Wait, wait, wait…that’s not right.

Tomatillo Time!

Yes, I do realize there are only 10 tomatillos on my clock.  Tomatillo time knows no numeric restrictions.  It knows no rules.  It only knows what the heart wants.  And the heart wants what the heart wants.  And the heart wants salsa verde.

“Hey, guys!  Can we join?!”

“Group huddle!”

“Should we let the outsiders join our tomatillo party?”

“They’re clearly not tomatillos.”

“Come on, Frank, don’t be such a jerk.  They probably have booze.”

“We don’t need their booze.  And we don’t need them!  WE DON’T NEED ANYBODY!”

“Frank…”

“<sigh>…Okay, fine.”

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Tong the tomatillos (yes, I did just use tong as a verb), into the water and let ’em cook until they’re just a bit softened–it took about 6 minutes for me.  Tong them (there I go again!) into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Throw all the ingredients except the salt and pepper into a food processor and give it a good whir.  Now, some people like to leave their salsa verde chunky–I prefer mine to be a bit runnier than that, with a coarse, jelly-like texture.

Process your salsa accordingly.  Now throw in a bit of salt and pepper to taste and pulse the processor two or three times to incorporate it really well.

You can enjoy this right away, or let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before using.  Personally, I’m a fan of letting all those flavors sit and meld together.  But if you can’t wait, don’t beat yourself up about it.  I’ve been there, my misfits.  Oh, have I ever been there.

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Mmmmmmmm…..

And just in time for grilling season!  That is, if you push grilling season the way we push grilling season around here.  Which is to say, you consider it warm enough to grill as long as scarves and earmuffs aren’t required.

And even when they are.

I’ve been using this recipe for a long time now, and my favorite thing about it is that it gives me another excuse to drag out Ye Olde BMG Crockpot.  But now, if it’s even possible, I love this recipe more.

‘Cause, HELlo.  One more way to use up leftover whey!

If you’re no stranger ’round these parts, you know that I like to make homemade ricotta cheese out of extra milk that’s just sitting around, waiting to sour on me.  And if you’re like me, you’ve done this before and ended up with jars upon jars upon jars of whey taking up valuable refrigerator real estate.  And, if you’re even more like me, which is starting to get a little creepy, honestly, you’ve Googled “uses for leftover whey” and discovered that acidic, yellowish whey, like the non-probiotic kind you get after you’ve made ricotta cheese, can’t be turned into more cheese or very many other appetizing things.  But.  BUT.

BUT!

You CAN use that whey part-for-part instead of water for soaking beans, and my, oh, my, that’s what you’ll always do with your whey from now on, because it boosts the recipe’s protein and nutrition and makes the house smell rich and cheesy while it cooks!  Just make sure to leave a little extra cooking time, since acid can impact bean-softening time.

Really, so many things can impact bean softening time.  El Nino impacts bean-softening time.  Ladies, your cycle can impact bean-softening time.

The time you spend watching the pot and waiting for it to boil will impact bean-softening time.  Whether or not you’ve filled out your 2010 Census form also probably impacts bean-softening time.

I think you get the picture.  Basically, you should just set this sucker up to go in the morning, press “START,” and forget about it for a while.  Like, ten hours.  Toodles.  No, seriously, just walk away.  Keep walking.  Don’t turn back.  Don’t fret.  Stop biting your nails about the bean-softening time thing.  I made half that stuff up.  The beans want you to have a life.  Very good off you go thank you.

Long story short, these beans will change your life and you will henceforth never part from them, so look for the recipe below.  It’s vegetarian.  Vegan if you use water instead of whey.  But.  BUT.

BUT!

Before that, a garden update!

Peas are (finally) sprouting, as are my lettuces, radishes, and baby greens.  I’ve even crafted some eco-chic (read: very cheap) seed markers out of popsicle sticks and a little protective packing tape:

But.  BUT.

BUT!

What’s most exciting to me are these babies, which recently arrived in the mail from Northern Brewer:

Oh, yes.  You got it.  They’re HOP RHIZOMES!  The Boy will now be able to brew his beer with homegrown hops, which will help us all to breathe a little easier at night.

To the bean pot!

Crockpot Vegetarian Baked Beans
Makes about 8 servings (The Boy and I always have enough for leftovers, freezing, and Irish Breakfasts the next morning)

Go Get:
1 lb. dried navy beans
2 quarts water or whey from cheesemaking
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
5 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. kosher salt
2 T. soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar

Go Do:
Sort and rinse the beans, and toss ’em in the crockpot. Then toss on the other ingredients. Then toss in a spoon and toss it all around. Then toss on the lid, and…start the slow cooker on low heat (sorry–couldn’t figure out a way to use “toss” there. I know, I’m disappointed, too.) And, uh, hey, guess what? That’s it! Stir ’em around every now and then, and otherwise just allow for 10 hours of prime bean-softening time. You can always speed this up somewhat (I said “somewhat,” don’t get greedy now, the beans will not be rushed), by cooking on the high setting. I’d say that would probably clock in at around 6 hours. Enjoy!

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Now, you may think that because I’m a self-employed freelance writer, I stumble into bed at 3 AM, yawn and stretch my sleepy limbs at noon, and then talk to my plants for an hour while eating a sumptuous breakfast involving at least three bacon courses.

That’s what I would do if I were smart.

Instead, I have my love to keep me warm…and groggy. 

The Boy works a bizarre schedule which has him up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning for about half of every week, and like the devoted sucker I am, I get up with him.  But breakfast?  BREAKFAST?  That, I simply cannot do.  He’s lucky if I manage to make it past the couch, where I typically wrap myself in a blanket and rock gently until I’m no longer praying for death.

Hey, I said I was devoted, not superhuman.

But still, The Boy’s gotta eat.  And–despite the fact that food is, oh, THE LAST THING ON MY MIND while I’m doing my level best to maintain sanity and comprehend the fact that the sun is not up and yet I am I SAID THE SUN IS NOT UP AND THERE IS NO REASON ON EARTH WE SHOULD BE EITHER NO I DO NOT WANT YOU TO GET FIRED I JUST WANT EVERYONE TO SEE REASON AND REALIZE THAT THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR ANYTHING TO BE HAPPENING BEFORE 10AM–I should eat, too.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing that even requires electricity.  Just something The Boy can grab on his way to the bus stop.  Something that I can figure out how to unwrap, masticate, and swallow until everything makes sense again.  Enter, the granola bar.

I used this recipe for inspiration–it’s based on the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe.  Then I changed a bunch of stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Still, though, credit where it’s due.  It’s a great foundation recipe, just perfect for switching your favorite fruits, nuts, and favorite delicious bits in and out.  It’s vegetarian and can even be made vegan by changing the kind of fat you use.  And friends, does it ever smell (and look) good when you pull it out of the oven.

And hello, this is the post that keeps on giving, because the photo below makes the most maaaaahvelous computer desktop wallpaper:

My last version was as I’ve listed it below–full of plump dried cherries, toasted almonds, and oat-y goodness.  I’ll be making another batch tonight, this time subbing in some peanut butter and chocolate chunks (oh, just a few…BACK OFF, I SAID JUST A FEW AND IF I CAN’T HAVE SLEEP I WILL HAVE MY CHOCOLATE).  Oh, yes.  I will have my chocolate.

Besides.  It makes me feel good to know that somewhere, out there in the darkness, The Boy is riding some cold, bumpy bus to work, just as tired as I am, but perhaps with the hint of a smile on his face as he chows down on a breakfast in his number one favorite flavor combination, made by the BMG who loves him.

A BMG who is still at that moment incoherent and slightly out of her mind, yes.  But still–a BMG who loves him.

Homemade Granola Bars

Makes 12 squares

Go Get:

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit

Go Do:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a glass 9 x 13.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and sunflower seeds together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned–I actually usually need 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ and fruit.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F.

Place the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into 12 squares. Serve at room temperature. (I like to wrap them individually for easy, on-the-go snacks or breakfasts.)

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When very little else last night was coming together with minimal effort, at least dinner was–this soup took ten minutes, and the hardest thing about it was cooking the brown rice I served alongside it.  Quick as a flash!

Which, of course, makes me think of The Flash.

In my ignorance of such important details, I’d always assumed The Flash’s superpower was his ability to intimidate and disgust by getting naked really quickly. 

Whatever, the name’s really ambiguous, all right?  

APPARENTLY, The Flash is actually more about doing important things super speedily.  Here I would just like to interject that under the right circumstances, getting naked to intimidate and disgust could be considered an important activity.

Look, I’m not saying The Flash went around flashing people to get his jollies.  I’m just saying he could have, if he’d wanted to.  And his wanting to is not that far-fetched a concept.  I mean, what if The Evil Doctor Whatshisface, turned psychotic by his disfiguring childhood accident while doing…whatever…, decided to hold the Mayor Blahington III of Somewheresville hostage, and if people didn’t turn over X natural resource, which was the only missing component to Doctor Whatshisface’s new mind-control thingy that runs on insert obscure crystal here, Doctor Whatshisface would kill the Mayor Blahington III, who’d been the only man capable of cleaning up the effed up streets of Somewheresville when they’d been overrun by violent gangsters and warlords who it turns out–GASP!–were actually henchmen of Doctor Whatshisface, and OMG, this comic just got soooo deep!?  The Flash could’ve probably zoomed in on Doctor Whathisface’s ass and been all, Hey, check this out, and Doctor Whatshisface would’ve been all, Lol, The Flash, you think you’re so cool, well not even you can save–OH SWEET GOD IN HEAVEN PUT THAT AWAY!!–and he’d be so intimidated and disgusted that The Flash would have time to zip up his little pleather suit and make off with Mayor Blahington III.

So about that recipe! 

Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Shrimp

Go Get:
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I had the frozen, ready to go kind on hand…YES!)
1 can coconut milk
3 cups fish stock or chicken broth
2 Tablespoons red curry paste (The Boy and I like it hot, but you might want to start with 1 and work up from there if you’re not sure)
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup carrot slices
1 cup snow pea pods or green bean segments
healthy handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Go Do:
Cook your rice or whatever you’re serving alongside, as the soup will come together quickly.  Put stock, ginger, and lime juice into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the coconut milk, oyster sauce, fish sauce, curry paste, and vegetables.  Cook, covered, until vegetables are crisp-tender (keep an eye on this–it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes).  Throw in the shrimp and continue to simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through, around 3 to 4 minutes.  Toss in the cilantro.  No joke, you’re done.  Taste it to make sure the heat level is up your alley, and then ladle it up, serve alongside a healthy scoop of rice, and ponder the power of nakedness.

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There’s pretentious food, and experimental food, and food you make to show off…but Macaroni and Cheese is none of these.  I think I’d call it nostalgic, comforting face-stuffing food.  You know what I’m talking about–food that takes you back, makes you feel young and low-maintenance again.  Like peanut butter and jelly, for instance.  Hot dogs and chips.  A pile of pierogies (okay…maybe that one has less universal appeal).  Yes, Macaroni and Cheese takes its place among all these most American (minus the pierogies) of food icons.  Unfortunately, vegans and lactards and all manner of non-cheese-eaters are frequently left with poor substitutes.  DAMN SHAME.

What happens to a person who is denied comfort food?  Sure, for a while you scrape by…but I’m not so sure that’s a good idea.  Sometimes you needses your feel good foods.

Yesterday was one of those times.

After working from dawn’s buttcrack until 9 PM, your BMG wanted a shower, a manicure, some food, a tall beer, a therapy session, a massage, a helicopter ride over some volcanos, a bigger backyard, a personal assistant to deal with my family for me, a new wardrobe, shoes that didn’t hurt, some orphans like Angelina’s, and why not, a motherfucking pony, too.

But, hey, I was willing to settle for food.

It was a “blue box” moment if I’d ever seen one.  I frantically began slapping together food, much to the dismay of the Boy, who felt that my nonsensical ranting was probably incompatible with boiling water and santoku knives.  He promptly steered me to the shower, and ten minutes later, I emerged ready to handle big girl tools again.

This recipe is cheap and easy, just like you like me.  Fact is, most dairy-free mac and cheese recipes tell you to make your own cheese using cashews and agar flakes and all other manner of ridiculous processes that I’ll admit to having done but hey listen let’s save that shit for days when we aren’t feeling homicidal, shall we?  Still other recipes instruct you to use a storebought soy cheese that’s packed full of preservatives, soy, and even milk-based products, which, again, I’ll admit to having done, but OH HELLZ BELLZ sometimes you don’t want that compromise.  So sweet, great, awesomesauce, this is not one of those recipes.  If you can boil water, you can do this.  And I’m not saying that to make you feel better about your cooking skills, like a lot of food people do….I really mean it.  Yeah, no problem.  You’re welcome.

Thank God we develop irrational attachments to our food.  Now I don’t have to go to therapy, take a helicopter trip, adopt orphans, or find that goddamned pony.  I can just fill up a bowl, grab a spoon, and eat those feelings away! Mmm, refreshing!

**Want another low-effort wonder of a meal while you’re at it?  Check my Vegan Spinach Lentil Soup.**

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 4-6 Servings

Go Get:
1/2 cup flour
1 cup nutritional yeast
3/4-1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder (not onion salt)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
2 1/2 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
12 oz. fun pasta (you can use a whole pound, but it’ll be less “saucy”)

Go Do:
Cook your pasta in salted water until it’s al dente, then drain. In your large pasta pot, whisk together all remaining ingredients (told you this would be easy). Turn the heat onto medium and whisk constantly to keep things smooth. When you have a thick sauce, toss the pasta back in, and use a large wooden spoon to fold it all together. When the pasta’s thoroughly coated and the sauce is the as thick as you like it, take the pot off the heat, and you’re done!  I like to serve this with Southern greens and a stiff drink, but feel free to experiment.

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