Fall is here! It’s roasted pumpkin time and I am inappropriately excited about it!  »

This past week/weekend, it seemed pumpkins were taking over the city! They were suddenly available everywhere as if by magic! In reality, it’s probably years of ingrained production process and distribution channel timing that brings a mass crop of pumpkins to urban markets during a precise week in early October, but it is much more fun to anthropomorphize adorable pumpkins than to think about agribusiness. Vegans do enough worrying about agribusiness already. So, to bring it back to the bounty of the harvest and the magic of autumn, I got my pumpkin at my local farmer’s market.  I’m not too good for Trader Joe’s though; the pumpkins there look totally fine.

The pumpkin I got is smaller and sweeter than the monstrous ‘roid rage kind typically reserved for Jack O’Lanterns. Our hero is cutely named “pie” pumpkin, because that is what most of America is planning to use it for. And, at the end of the roasting described here, you’re welcome to puree it and use it for pumpkin pie, although I don’t know why you would when there’s a whole wide world of pancakes, curries, and just eating it out of the rind with a spoon covered in Earth Balance, but we’ll get to that.

First, you need to rinse it, pop off the stem, and cut it in half with a big knife. A serrated knife is best, and so is a saw-like motion. When you get it halved, scoop out the seeds. If you have a fancy ice cream scoop or melon baller, bully for you. I used a regular spoon. Turn the oven on to about 400-450F.

Pro tip: don’t throw away the seeds!  Lay them out on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stick them in the (now hot) oven for about 15 minutes for a tasty, zinc-filled snack!

Now you want to grab a Pyrex baking dish, big enough to hold both halves of the pumpkin, so like the kind you’d make brownies in. Put about an inch of water in the bottom. This supposedly helps to keep the flesh moist while roasting.

Next, get out a tub of Earth Balance and rub a lot of it on each exposed half. This is actually what keeps the flesh moist while roasting. This is also what makes it delicious when it comes out of the oven, and you will probably just want to scoop out bites with a spoon, which is what we did. But if you are feeling industrious, you can do something else with the flesh when it cools, like the aforementioned puree with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spices, or something hip like pumpkin curry. Or if you really want to be cool, use Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe for apple-pumpkin risotto in this month’s Bust Magazine, which we can’t link you directly to but you really ought to go buy a copy; it contains much useful and entertaining shit in addition to said vegan risotto and a candy corn recipe from SF’s own Melisser!

In conclusion, stick the buttered pumpkin skin side down (butter side up) in the pan of water and roast in the 400-450 oven for an hour-ish. Let cool and enjoy autumn!



Mission Pie Contest!  »

HEY GUYS! Get to Mission Pie this Sunday, Oct. 11 for the third annual Pie Contest! Last year Vegansaurus’ own Laura was awarded Best Vegan Pie for her shoofly pie, and won a sweet Mission Pie gift certificate. And this was before they had made one vegan pie—think of how much more valuable such a prize is this year!

The competition is bound to be fiercer this year, as far as pie goes, so get over there on Sunday with your best dish!—we expect big things from you, friends and neighbors. They’ll receive entries between 1 and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, with judging (and tasting!) to occur from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Tasting is free!

See you there!


Spotted this new readymade vegan cookie dough from Eat Pastry over at The Dieline. No word yet on when it will be available. But the package design is indeed quite fancy!

Spotted this new readymade vegan cookie dough from Eat Pastry over at The Dieline. No word yet on when it will be available. But the package design is indeed quite fancy!


Recipes: seasonal soups!  »

Newspapers: not entirely useless! Today’s Contra Costa Times (newspaper to the stars! of the East Bay! kill me!) features a few soup recipes that sound delicious and can be easily veganized. Really, there’s no reason why they aren’t vegetarian; no one needs to use chicken broth when vegetable stock is just as easily made/obtained and doesn’t involve animal death. That cruelty-free isn’t the default is stupid and careless. We’ve got a long way to go, vegans.

Still, the soups—butternut squash chipotle bisque, roasted tomato with garlic croutons, and carrot with cumin and lime—look tasty, uncomplicated, and pretty perfect for early fall in the Bay Area, when the nights are growing longer and colder but the last of the tomatoes are still lingering on the vine.

Butternut Squash Chipotle Bisque (serves six to eight)
1 medium butternut squash
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 6 cups stock or broth
3 tsp. minced, canned chipotle in adobo
Salt, fresh ground pepper
optional: ½ cup vegan sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds, discarding the stringy pulp. Put the seeds in a sieve and rinse. Set aside.
2. Grease a glass baking dish with 1 Tbsp. oil, then place the squash in the dish, cut side down. Pierce all over with a fork and roast 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
3. Heat remaining oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery and carrot for 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes more.
4. Scoop the flesh of the squash into the pot and stir. Add 4 cups broth and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
5. Meanwhile, toast the reserved squash seeds in a small pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crunchy, about 30 minutes. Season heavily with salt and set aside.
6. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, adding more broth to get the desired consistency.
7. Stir the remaining 2 tsp. chipotle into the bisque and ladle into soup bowls. Top each with a dollop of vegan sour cream, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of seeds.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons (serves six)
18 plum tomatoes
2¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ cup olive oil plus extra
3½ cups stock, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh basil
Garlic Croutons
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
1½ Tbsp. nondairy butter
2 cups bread cubes (half-inch dice), made from French bread, crusts included
1½ tsp. minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a large baking sheet generously.
2. Halve tomatoes lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Let drain.
3. In a large bowl, mix pepper, salt, rosemary, garlic and ½ cup olive oil and whisk to blend. Add tomatoes and toss well. Marinate for 15 minutes.
4. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining oil mixture over them. Roast until tomatoes are softened and browned around the edges, about 50 to 60 minutes.
5. Place half the tomatoes in a food processor. Pour in 1 cup stock and pulse until pureed.
6. Coarsely chop remaining tomatoes. In a soup pot, combine the chopped and pureed tomatoes and remaining stock and bring just to a simmer. Season with salt.
7. For the croutons, melt the oil and nondairy butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread cubes and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until bread is golden and crisp.
8. Garnish each serving with basil and croutons.

Carrot Soup with Cumin and Lime (serves 6)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups chopped leeks
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
3½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
6½ cups stock
2 Tbsp. lime juice
Kosher salt, pepper
Garnish: chopped cilantro and grated lime zest
optional: 8 Tbsp. vegan sour cream, divided

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and leeks and saute until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and saute 30 seconds more.
2. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, about 35 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in batches and return soup to the pot. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice stirred into each bowl. Or cool the soup, whisk in 6 tablespoons of sour cream and refrigerate for three hours or overnight. When ready to serve, stir in lime juice, season to taste and serve topped with a sprinkling of cilantro and lime zest, and a dollop of vegan sour cream if desired.



Kiwi Berries! Who Knew??  »

I stopped into Bi-Rite Market the other night, mostly to soak in some of their adorableness mojo but also to pick up supplies for this new no-wheat-no-alcohol-no-fun-kill-me-now allergy diet I’m on. I had no idea it would be a pivotal mission of new discoveries and I would become a changed woman. (I did know I’d be eating half an avocado covered in salt & pepper later on, because Bi-Rite always has excellent avocados. IN YOUR FACE, DIET!)

As I get up to the checkout counter with my yams and avocados, the typically super-nice cashier lady starts waxing enthusiastic about “kiwi berries.” I don’t think it was related to anything I was buying, I think she was just legitimately really stoked on these berries. “They are just like a kiwi,” she tells me, “but they are miniature and you eat them whole, like berries. We just got them in.”  I am (of course) immediately skeptical. “Well what are they, genetically I mean,” I demand to know, “like, a kiwi? or a berry?” She isn’t sure but she thinks, a close relation to the kiwi because it looks and tastes exactly like a kiwi, but miniature, and without the unsightly brown hairy skin.

As it turns out, kiwi berries are pretty exciting. I found I couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I went back to Bi-Rite at lunch the next day and picked myself up a pack of these adorable, packed-with-vitamins, “cocktail” kiwis. At $3.99, they are about the same price as other organic berries. And I guess these are grown in Oregon, not flown in from Siberia where they are native. Not as cool, but I feel better about the carbon footprint.

According to the experts* kiwi berries are a “nutritional powerhouse,” containing vitamins E & C, more potassium than bananas, and lots of folic acid (which is really important for you if you’re a youngish woman of childbearing age who drinks too much but may someday want to have a defect-free child, not that I know anybody like that.)

Also they are ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL. Everything that is pleasant to eat about both kiwis and berries! They are sweet, bite-size, and juicy. I would highly recommend you go get you some on the double! You fools better leave some for me!

Man, the wide world of fruits and vegetables is so exciting.

*the label on the package, and the internet

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