Vegan Pad Thai Recipe

Here’s my version of Tofu Pad Thai.

1 block (12-14 oz.) extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 Tablespoons fish sauce*, or 2 teaspoons kelp powder*
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 Cup fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Thai chili and garlic sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 12 oz package “Pad Thai” brown rice noodles
Hot water
2-3 Tablespoons canola, or peanut oil
1 Onion, chopped coarsely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 Red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
1/2 crown of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 carrot, sliced thinly
1/4 Cup scallions, chopped medium-fine
1 Cup mushrooms, chopped coarsely
2 Cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 Cup chopped peanuts, plain, unsalted
1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped
soy sauce and pepper to taste

In a medium-size bowl, combine fish sauce*, or kelp powder*, soy sauce, fresh lime juice, sugar, and Thai chili and garlic sauce. Stir with a whisk until blended. Cut the drained tofu into 1/2″ cubes and add to the bowl. Lightly toss tofu to coat with the sauce. Set aside to marinate for about 10 minutes, then drain well, reserving the marinade sauce. Heat up 1 Tablespoon of oil in a wok, or skillet until sizzling. Carefully add tofu only, (do not add sauce at this point) to the hot oil and saute over high heat until tofu cubes are lightly browned and have developed a skin. Remove tofu from oil, drain on a towel and set aside.

Place the rice noodles in a separate bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to soak for at least 10 minutes, until soft and pliable. Drain and set aside.

In a large wok, or skillet, heat up remaining oil over high heat until it sizzles when a drop of water is added. Add onions and stir fry until soft, add garlic and ginger and cook for another 10 seconds. Stir in the sauce from the tofu marinade, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, scallions and mushrooms. Cook over high heat until vegetables are just starting to get soft. Add browned tofu cubes and bean sprouts and stir lightly. Add rice noodles and toss. Season to taste. Remove from heat and put in a large serving dish. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro. (Sriracha is always nice on it to if you like things spicy.)

* Fish sauce is not always to everyone’s liking, nor is it always easy to find. However, it does give that authentic taste. If you want fish sauce in your Pad Thai and can’t find it in your local store, try ordering it online. I’m sure Amazon would carry it.

If you are vegan, or vegetarian, you may not want to go with fish sauce. I recently found ground kelp powder in my local food co-op It has a similar, “oceany,” taste, which I really like. I’ve never seen kelp powder anywhere else. If you are interested in it, again, try online, or you could probably grind up a sheet of nori, or kombu for that unique flavor. If you do try this option, please let me know how that works for you.

(Pix coming soon!)

~ C

A Second Look at Older, Vegan Cookbooks

I want to take a second look at older, vegan cookbooks. It’s all nice and wonderful to review those CBs fresh off the press, but there are those tried and true books that I always go back to. Let’s hope that we don’t so quickly forget about these gems.  Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

The Millennium Cookbook, by Eric Tucker & John Westerdahl, M.P.H., R.D., C.N.S., Dessert recipes by Sascha Weiss, Ten Speed Press,1998.

This is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.  The recipes are taken from the well-known, Millennium Restaurant, (formerly in San Francisco and now located in Oakland, CA.)  Each dish is timeless, elegant as well as absolutely delicious.  These plant-based chefs were dreaming up recipes for Chickpea Flatbread and Quinoa Pilaf long before they were fashionable.

I can’t wait for mushroom season to start in earnest, so that I can attempt to make their Chanterelle Mushroom Sorbet recipe.  They have illustrated the book beautifully  and have made the recipes easy to follow.  I only wish that there was a hard-bound version.  Sadly, my paperback copy is getting tattered and torn from so much use.

Crossroads, by Tal Ronnen, Scot Jones and Serafina Magnussen, Photos by Lisa Romerein,  Artisan, (Workman Publishing Company, Inc.,) 2015

This is another great, (ok…not so old,) cookbook that comes from a renown, plant-based restaurant, Crossroads, in Los Angeles, CA.  (Tal Ronnen is also the creator of Kite Hill, plant-based cheeses, of which I am very fond of.)

I’ve loved every dish that I’ve tried in this book, although, I tend to gravitate toward the pasta recipes, such as Chive Fettuccine with Asparagus, Morels, Prosecco Sauce and Pappardelle Bolognese.

There is a lovely section of alcoholic cocktails that I go to when I need a special drink for special times.  There is also a section on, “the basics,” which are anything but common, such as Demi-Glace made with Roasted Vegetable Stock and Walnut Parmesan.

This book will definitely find a permanent place on your kitchen bookshelf.  I’m also happy to say, it has a sturdy, yet chic, hard cover…nice.

Veganomicon, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, Da Capo Press (Perseus Books Group,) 2007.

For me, this is the all-star of the older, vegan cookbooks.  It got me started on my vegan venture and I am forever grateful to its authors.  I love the no-nonsense approach to vegan food that is combined with the fun, full-of-nonsense commentary.

Most of the meals are all down home goodness; easy to prepare and sure to make everyone at the dinner table is happy.  I’m always asked to make their Cauli-Pots recipe at holiday gatherings, along with their classic, Cheezy Sauce to go over the broccoli.

There’s great sections on casseroles and one-pot meals, as well as some really, yummy desserts, such as Vanilla-Yogurt Pound Cake.  (I was amazed at how good this recipe was the first time I tried eggs, no dairy…unbelievable.)

Not every recipe is a, “just like Mom used to make,” kind of dish.  They’ve put some unusual things in there too and if you don’t have this vegan bible yet, you’ll just have to pick yourself up a copy to find out what else is in it.  All I can say is GOOD STUFF!

Stocking Up: How to Preserve the Foods You Grow Naturally, by the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming, Rodale Press, 1977

I know…this is an oldie…geesh 1977!  My owning of this book attests to the fact that I’ve been interested in organic gardening for a very, very long time.  I’ll have to admit that I don’t open this book very often, but there are times when the newer writers…well… they just don’t know.  Like how do you make real catsup, (not ketchup?)  Or what’s the best way to thresh your own grains? Or how do you build a sun dehydrator from scraps of  this and that lying around the homestead?

This book is near and dear to my heart.  The late J.I. Rodale and his son, the late Robert Rodale, founders of the organic foods movement, have always been heros of mine.  While this book is not just for vegans, since there are sections in the book on cheese making and teaching us how to dress and preserve meats and fish, it is still a worthy edition to your cookbook library.  I don’t know if this edition is still in print, but any good, used bookstore can probably find it for you.  If not, check out the latest, third edition.

Appetite For Reduction, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2011.

Everybody needs a low-cal, diet book for those Januarys and nervously anticipated, upcoming, social events.  This cookbook is great for those and any other day of the year, for that matter.  What’s really nice about this book is that every recipe is accompanied by its nutritional information, including calories.

I frequently use this cookbook because of this feature.  Now, has this cookbook made me any thinner?  Well…no.  But are the recipes absolutely delicious?  Yes, indeed!  If I made a commitment to only eat from this cookbook for a couple of months, then I probably would lose weight.  That would be no problem for me, with recipes such as Mango BBQ Beans, Curry Laksa, Portobello Pepper Steak Stew and Bhutanese Pineapple Rice.  Ya know…I DO have a special trip planned in May.  Maybe I’d better heed my own advice and start my weight loss program using Isa’s recipes…hummmm…food for thought.  If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, or just want to live the fullest of healthy lifestyles, then you really otta have this cookbook.

Do you have some favorite, older, vegan cookbooks.  If so, please share.

~ C



The Vegan Lifestyle…Some Encouragement From My Local Natural Foods Co-Op

I have been, “mostly vegan,” for about the last 4 years.  Admittedly,  I’m a late starter in this movement.  I didn’t buy into the whole, “vegan thing,” right away, so, sadly, I have spent most of my 62 years of life eating the flesh and by-products of other animals.  (After all, this blog isn’t called, “An OLD Woman’s Garden” for nothing.)   I pondered veganism for a long time before I made the switch.  When I finally did, it was almost effortless, with many thanks to my absolutely, amazing, food co-op, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op. 

Ukiah Natural Food Co-Op – Love this place!

The “coop” as we like to call it in my family, opened my eyes to the possibility of better, healthier, and more interesting food products that were well within my budget.  Although, I had pondered a change over to an animal free diet for many years previously, once I walked into that co-op door, I had no more excuses to avoid the vegan lifestyle.  What’s more, no one at the co-op scoffed at veganism…not one, little eyelash batted at the thought… I was, “all in.”

My 40-year-old co-op looks like any regular grocery store, except you don’t see any of the mega brands of cereals or canned goods, nor any factory farmed meats, or dairy products.  The produce section at the co-op is almost entirely organic.  Meat and dairy is locally raised and produced.  Alternative diet options catering to vegan, gluten-free, etc. abound.  There is also a section in the store for herbal supplements and another for natural beauty products and cosmetics.  Each and every product in the store has been carefully scrutinized to make sure that it is healthful and true to what it’s label says it is.  The store also puts up labels pointing out things that are organic, or non-GMO, so that we are all well informed.  The bulk section is economical and environmentally friendly (no excess packaging here,) not to mention amazing, offering anything from freshly ground peanut butter, to dried fruits, to Kamut, to locally grown and milled flours.

If you have not investigated food co-ops, I highly recommend that you do.  They can offer you great, local, healthy food, at a much reduced cost.  Not to mention that you’ll have a partial ownership in the store. It’s your food, it’s your say!  It is the ultimate way to vote with your dollar.  You decide what goes on your family’s plate, not to mention what is put on the Co-op shelves, which can add up to a serious vote as to what products you want in our marketplace.  Want it organic?  Sure.  No GMOs?  No problem.  The “coop” has a policy to try to seek out the best products that are organic and/or non-GMO.  Prefer that your food is local?  They can do that too AND they will label it on their shelves to let you know.

Have I caught your interest?  I hope so.  For more information about food co-ops, or where you might find one in your area, please visit: Co+op, Stronger Together.

(Pix coming soon)

~ C