I love a good, hearty whole-grain bread. In fact, my favorite weekday breakfast is nut butter (usually peanut butter) on whole wheat toast. I'm lucky to find great vegan bread at my co-op, but I know it can be hard when all you have access to is a supermarket (many commercial breads include milk products, eggs or honey). An easy solution is to make whole-wheat batter bread, which takes less time to make than traditional bread...and no kneading required!
This bread recipe is based on the "Whole Wheat Batter Bread" from one of my grandma's old cookbooks from the 1950's and veganized. My version adds some oatmeal and agave nectar for flavor and a mild sweetness. Also, I mix everything by hand with a wooden spoon, but feel free to use a hand mixer if you prefer.
Whole Grain Oat-Wheat Batter Bread Makes 1 small loaf
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115℉)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
2 tablespoons canola oil (or vegetable oil)
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener such as brown rice syrup)
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour, divided
In a food processor or blender, blend until the oats are ground into a powder or partially ground if you prefer a little more texture. In a large bowl, combine the warm water and active dry yeast. Stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the canola oil, agave nectar, salt, 1 cup of whole-wheat flour and the ground oats. Stir until mixture is well combined. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of whole-wheat flour and stir until the dough is well combined. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Lightly grease a loaf pan. Give the dough 25 vigorous stirs with a large wooden spoon. Then evenly spread the dough into the loaf pan. Cover it with a towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. About 10-15 minutes before the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 375℉. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes. (You may need to bake it longer if using a glass pan.) When done, the bread should sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle. Remove the bread from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
Normally, I'm not much of a motivational speaker. But I feel it's necessary to put it out there on the Web for anyone who might stumble to this site; making food "from scratch" can be so empowering! Those who are new at cooking might feel a little overwhelmed at the idea of making all their sauces and dressing from scratch...or to take it even further, making non-dairy cheeses at home. The thing is, making your own food (or clothing or DIY home repair) is liberating. You can save money and easily eat a healthy diet of whole foods without any weird preservatives or artificial colorings. And it's such a great feeling to create something restaurant-worthy at home!
Take baby steps. We're all on our own journey. When I first went vegetarian as a teen, I filled my meals with faux meat products because I wanted quick, easy food. It was hard to be the only vegetarian in the family. I was expected to cook for myself or eat out somewhere. I cooked real food from time to time, but I was always so busy with schoolwork. Slowly, I tried out more recipes and started to gain more kitchen knowledge. However, it wasn't until I went vegan that I really needed to get things figured out. Vegetarian was relatively simple...just take the meat out and add in cheese instead. (I cringe just thinking of it...lol) So I bought a couple vegan cookbooks and took the plunge. 30 cookbooks and a couple years later, here I am writing a food blog!
My advice to the new cook:
~ Recipes are a guide. Make it as directed the first time, then make it your own. Add ingredients, remove ingredients, change the spices...whatever sounds good to you.
~ I love looking through cookbooks for inspiration. But if you don't want to invest, try checking out cookbooks from a local library or find recipes online. A good place to start is VegWeb.
~ Try making your own salad dressings. They taste sooooo much better than anything you could buy premade in a bottle.
~ Have fun with cooking. It's only a chore if you don't want to do it.
Now here's the real reason I wrote this post. Look at all this awesome DIY stuff!
Like many vegans, I was once an omnivore and grew up eating a lot of "meat and potatoes" meals. I don't really miss this way of eating, but every once in a while I'm tempted by a faux meat recipe. This time, I tried the Cherry Sage Sausage from Vegan Brunch. Before I saw this recipe, I had no idea it was so easy to make your own veggie sausages at home! Best of all, you miss out on any preservatives or other questionable ingredients that you might find in store-bought versions. If you're interested in making veggie sausage at home and don't own a copy of Vegan Brunch, check out this recipe at the PPK.
To round out the meal, I made some Lemon Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Sauteed Kale with Lemon...two simple sides that work great together and are easy on the budget :) Note: the veggie sausage is not gluten-free or soy-free, however, the potatoes and kale are.
Lemon Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Serves 2-4 Ingredients:
4 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Preheat oven to 450℉. Put potatoes in a roasting pan and drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the potatoes. Sprinkle on the rosemary and add salt. Toss the potatoes so that they are evenly coated. Bake potatoes approximately 30 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes to keep them from sticking or burning. Allow potatoes to cool 5 minutes or so before serving.
Sauteed Kale with Lemon Serves 2-4
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic is very lightly browned and fragrant. Add the kale and cook a couple minutes, tossing and stirring the kale until it has wilted down in size. Careful not to let any of the kale start to brown. Remove from heat and drizzle lemon juice over the cooked kale.
I've enjoyed many spicy Szechuan noodle recipes from various cookbooks, but none of them were quite what I was looking for...so I created my own! This recipe is a hybrid combination of spicy Szechuan noodles and "Rainbow Peanut Noodles" from Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop (in Kansas City). The result is brown rice noodles coated with a light spicy peanut sauce and LOTS of colorful veggies. If you're not a fan of spicy food, feel free to reduce (or omit) the sambal oelek (chili paste).
Ultimate Spicy Peanut Noodles Serves 4-6
8 oz. brown rice noodles
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (chili paste)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 cup warm water
2-3 teaspoons peanut oil
8 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into strips or cubes
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 cup snow peas, ends trimmed
1-2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, liquid aminos, rice wine vinegar, agave nectar, sambal oelek and water in a small mixing bowl. In a large sauce pan or stock pot, sauté the tofu and peanut oil over medium-high heat until tofu is lightly browned. Add the peanut sauce, carrot, cabbage, snow peas and broccoli. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3-5 minutes. When noodles are done, drain and add them to the veggie mixture. Add the mung bean sprouts and sesame oil as well. Stir until noodles are evenly coated with sauce and veggies are mixed in.