Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 23: Celebrations require effort

In my family, holiday celebration planning primarily consists of menu creation. Beyond working around everyone’s dietary requirements at any given time, we love to try new things, get creative, and sometimes even experiment. Making things from scratch we wouldn’t normally is a must. For example, a few years ago, for Thanksgiving, we made gnocchi, sweet potato gnocchi, AND ravioli. From scratch. For, like, five of us. It was a bit over the top, sure, but at least those things freeze well.

I don’t make fresh pasta all the time. It’s a project. Not as difficult as some, but more time-consuming than an everyday meal. When I do, I like to experiment a bit with colors and flavors. Once I made the dough with pureed nettles, resulting in intensely green hand-cut noodles (probably akin to papardelle). For today’s prompt, I decided to experiment with using beets to color my pasta, using a simple homemade broth.

Above: Beet broth in progress with porcini mushroom and kombu seaweed. It’s, like, blood red.

I haven’t had the “proper” flour for making pasta in ages–shit’s expensive, and the goddamn pantry moths get into it–so I did a 50/50 split of all-purpose and whole wheat flour with a ratio of 3:1 of flour to broth. I let the food processor do most of the work, just kneading it for a bit at the end to make sure it was reasonably smooth before cranking it through the pasta roller. The texture was solid enough that letting the machine give me fettuccine strips was effortless. (If the dough is too sticky, it can get stuck in the rollers.) The end result was beautifully rich pinky-magenta pasta like I’ve never seen.

Above: Uncooked beet fettuccine, tossed with flour to prevent sticking.

The other tricky thing about fresh pasta is how to sauce it. A heavy marinara or rich cashew cream base would drown out the flavor; basil pesto didn’t seem quite right, visually or taste-wise, for beet pasta. I landed on caramelized onion with sauteed cherry tomatoes for a pop of sweetness and olive oil-y richness, a handful of torn basil for contrast, and toasted pepitas for crunch.

Above: Gotta love the height of tomato season.

The broth did give the pasta a subtle depth of flavor, and the whole thing was just…pretty. Complementary reds on the plate and delicious tastes in the mouth, mmm. Homemade pasta is never regrettable.

Above: It seemed like too much. It wasn’t.
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Emily C. on Instagram: “Celebrating makeup Thanksgiving/birthdays/general winter holidays today with a nice vegetarian tapas menu, everything homemade…”

Tapas menu:

Main course:

Dessert (inspired by Briony’s vegan showstopper from GBBO!)

  • Chocolate hazelnut cake and ganache (I added instant coffee to both the cake and the icing)
  • Candied hazelnuts (subbed coconut oil for the butter & skipped cinnamon)

  • Raspberry preserves filling (storebought); fresh and freeze-dried raspberries to decorate

Emily C. on Instagram: “Celebrating makeup Thanksgiving/birthdays/general winter holidays today with a nice vegetarian tapas menu, everything homemade…”

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#VeganMoFo Day 26: Thanksgiving is my Time to Shine

I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner almost every year since moving to California in 2004. I love it–I seldom host anyone, much less a big group, and
my mom and I (and sometimes other folks!)

love cooking together. Over the years, we made it tradition to use the opportunity to explore different cuisines, cooking methods, ingredients, styles…we take inspiration from all over. Last year we tried some Mexican recipes that weren’t entirely Americanized. We’ve done Italian with fresh pasta and gnocchi. There’s been Indian, Mediterranean, Japanese, “small plates around the world”…

This year I wanted to try to make some Spanish food. I’ve got research to do (especially on paella; I have ideas but…), but even some cursory reading up on tapas showed me there is a surprising number of simple vegetable-based things that won’t require much or any veganizing, which is awesome.


So for dinner tonight I picked out a couple things that are simple, but come together for a really nice weeknight dinner: espinacas con garbanzos (spinach chickpeas, which seems like a real “duh” in terms of things I’d like) and a Spanish tortilla (potatoes and onion with an omelet-like batter made of chickpea flour), plus just some avocado on the side because I was too goddamn tired to make a whole salad thing or chilled soup or whatever.

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#VeganMoFo Day 30: This Might Not Look Like YOUR Thanksgiving Prep…

…but my traditions are a little different. Look, Thanksgiving is one of the more problematic holidays, but it’s also become one of my favorites. As a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of the menu: turkey is bland, mashed potatoes and gravy are fine, and I would’ve eaten my weight in pumpkin pie and whipped cream, but everything else? No, thanks. So as an adult, and adult who decided she wanted to HOST Thanksgiving after moving away from family, I moved away from all that autumnal Americana and treated it as an excuse to cook my ass off and make stuff I wouldn’t otherwise bother making. The menu became a creative exercise; the cooking, bonding and fun with my mom and others.

A key part of our tradition has become figuring out where we want to cook every year. We’ve dabbled in Mediterranean-inspired fare, done a full day of cooking and eating Japanese food, one thing after another; there’s been Indian food, soul food-inspired, and Italian. We don’t claim any deep knowledge of these cuisines, but we enjoy learning about the flavors, ingredients, and techniques–especially if they’re already vegan (or vegan-friendly). We try new things but make use of local, seasonal produce. We have an overflowing list of things to incorporate into our cooking for the next year, and recipes we shortlisted that didn’t make the final cut to try later on. But mostly, we enjoy the process–then we enjoy the food. It’s a good time.

This year, my mom and I both thought we’d like to try making tamales, which has always seemed like an intimidating project. Tamales on their own don’t make a complete meal, however, so we’d like to create a Mexican-inspired menu that isn’t comprised of the usual suspects (tacos, enchiladas, etc.). To that end, I picked up a new cookbook: Decolonize Your Diet, which takes a health-focused, culture-honoring approach to the traditional cuisine of the authors’ families.

While I’m still contemplating the menu – I think we’ll be a small group this year (though if you’re reading this and you’re in or near the Bay Area and in want of a plate of food this holiday, drop me a line) – I figured I’d take this opportunity to try at least one recipe from this super interesting cookbook. I might not make it for Thanksgiving, but it’s still trying something new, in the spirit of how I celebrate that day.

What I made was their cauliflower ceviche with homemade blue corn mini-baked tostadas. It was kind of like a cross between a salsa and a tabbouleh, served almost like a personal nacho chip with avocado (this is a terrible description, but it was tasty).

I’ve made corn tortillas many times in my handy tortilla press, and I have a stash of blue corn masa harina with which to make many more. I imagine, whatever my menu includes, I’ll have that opportunity. And I’m grateful for it.

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#VeganMoFo Day 24: What Is A “Hors-e D’uv…ruh”?

ALTERNATE TITLE: Ain’t No Party Like A Brown Rice Sushi Party ‘Cause A Brown Rice Sushi Party Is…Healthy?

Folks, I am not a party person. Making a million tiny things for dozens of well-clad individuals engaging in small talk and enjoying cocktails? I DO NOT DO THIS. I host approximately one dinner a year–Thanksgiving–and attendees are mostly family members who enjoy cooking, so half our time is spent simply cooking our brains out, for fun, then eating it until we realize we planned and prepped at least one too many things. And few of these things are finger foods. So much work for something you’re just gonna pop in your mouth! Psssh!

Arguably things like fresh rolls and sushi are this kind of food, though, and I’m no stranger to making them. You can create a whole meal around it! Perhaps that is beside the point, but I gotta justify my food resources somehow!

I usually make brown rice sushi because, well, I always have short grain brown rice on hand, but not so much white sushi rice. It’s more filling and healthy, anyway. Today I made four rolls:

  • Artichoke heart + avocado + cashew
  • Avocado + roasted trumpet mushroom + carrot + black sesame seeds
  • Baked tofu + beets + microgreens
  • Roasted trumpet mushroom + tofu + avocado

My sushi technique is…not perfect, but it’s still a solid finger food. For a party of one. (OK, two, but I appreciate your pity.)

I’m also coming down with a cold, so miso soup was a necessity.

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VeganMoFo 16 Sign-ups and Banners! | VeganMoFo

It’s that time again… almost-MoFo! I’ve already got my Google doc a-plannin’. Though the blog has been neglected of late – it’s been a strange, stressful couple of months, and while I’ve been cooking like mad, I haven’t had much desire to document it – I’m looking forward to thinking creatively about the challenges and prompts that await and sharing the results with you, whoever you are. Plus, it’ll cover Thanksgiving, and I’ve already started planning that, too. My favorite excuse to go all out.

VeganMoFo 16 Sign-ups and Banners! | VeganMoFo

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Traditional Christmas brunch in the Cannon house: vegan sticky buns, pineapple, vegan Italian sausage, coffee. Yum. Happy Holidays!

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Thanksgiving 2015: My food photography skills need work

The food was good. Maybe too many carbs, but we were super excited about making pasta. And bread. And gnocchi. So it just kind of happened. I did my best to surround all that with vegetables. Whatever, it’s the holidays, we’re not usually so indulgent!

My mom did all the bread, the pasta, and the gnocchi. I made pretty much everything else, or we worked together to complete the recipes. (I also made the vegan butter we used, Miyoko Schinner’s recipe from Homemade Vegan Kitchen.)


  • Baked ricotta (Kite Hill + a scoop of Miyoko’s double cream chive, with lemon zest and olive oil, inspired by this)
  • Roast romanesco cauliflower with cippollini onion agrodolce (modified from Crossroads cookbook)
  • Pesto foccacia (from


  • Savory pumpkin-stuffed ravioli with sage brown butter and toasted black walnuts
  • Sweet potato gnocchi, also with sage brown butter
  • Braised broccoli rabe with garlic

I don’t really have a recipe for any of these. The pasta dough was Vegan Homemade Kitchen; the filling was me absolutely winging it and doing a decent job. To be honest, I don’t even remember what all I put in there. The gnocchi, my mom’s first attempt, was based on the recipe in Crossroads, IIRC.



  • Seitan roulade with a sundried tomato glaze and stuffed with eggplant, pesto, and homemade croutons (inspired by this roulade from Vegetarian Times)
  • Potato gnocchi with homemade basil-walnut pesto
  • Kale and cranberry beans (based on a recipe from Crossroads calling for butter beans instead)


  • Pumpkin parfait (from Crossroads, minus the ginger syrup)
  • Biscotti with black walnuts, dried cherries, and lemon zest (modified from a recipe in Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar)
  • Cocoa-hazelnut medallions (Nutella-inspired and warped from this recipe)

The photo of that parfait is garbage, but it was pretty lovely. What you can’t see in the blur is the layer of gorgeously moist spice cake, pumpkin mousse, coconut whipped cream with vanilla bean, and almond-pumpkin seed brittle. It was like a deconstructed pumpkin pie and it was fan-fucking-tastic. The other two were as tasty as they look.

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Thanksgiving #1 spread: spinach lasagna with pumpkin bechamel, artichoke and tomato panzanella, olives and dips

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Mom testing the pasta recipe (we won’t have a thin pasta on Thanksgiving, but gotta make sure everything will work)

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#VeganMoFo Day 23: Autumn equinox eats!

Although in some ways similar to yesterday’s seasonal produce theme, I tried to take a somewhat different approach with the menu. I wanted to use nuts, pomegranate, and apples – all symbolic in various ways, although not especially to me, and delicious, fun challenges to base a meal around.

Here’s where I landed:

  • mushroom-walnut pate (veganized and tweaked) on good bread
  • white bean soup with roasted apples and sage
  • frisee salad in citrus vinaigrette with pomegranate seeds and hazelnut parmesan

Bread first, right? Yummmm.

Here in California, the early fall weather is near 100 degrees, so I made both the soup and the pate a day ahead and served them chilled.

Soup was very simple, and maybe not for all palates, but a worthy starting point. First I halved and cored two whole gravenstein apples, cut a small red onion into big chunks, and grabbed a few sprigs of thyme and sage, then brushed them with olive oil before giving them a 20-minute bake in the toaster oven. The cooked ingredients went into the blender with two cans of cannellini, water, and salt and pepper. Finally, the resulting puree got a gentle simmer (maybe half an hour?) before it went into the fridge. To serve, I garnished with some fried whole sage leaves and a sprinkling of the hazelnut parmesan I made for the salad.

The salad was a bit more colorful. My dressing consisted of juice of one orange, olive oil, a little bit of mustard, a dash of sweetener (I used coconut nectar), a splash of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness, and a little salt and pepper. At the market I picked up a huge head of frisee, which is bitter and pretty and ought to stand up well to a strong, sweet dressing like that, so I pulled out the more tender greens in the middle, washed them, and gave them a quick spin to dry before tossing. Hazelnut parmesan was quick and easy–handful or two of nuts with a generous shake of nooch and let it ride (in the spice grinder, food processor, or blender, you pick your poison)–and ultimately tossed with the salad and extra sprinkled on to serve, along with those beautiful pomegranate jewels.

Fall cooking is possibly the most fun. So many great vegetables are still available, and between MoFo and Thanksgiving prep, I’ve got menus on my mind. This was a quiet weeknight dinner on a hot “what seasons?” kind of night, but maybe for a minute those nuts and seeds meant a little something, even to me.

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#VeganMoFo Day 13: Kitchen tour

Confession: I am a messy, messy person. My kitchen is seldom fully clean. So please, no judgment? I clean deeply before any guest situation (i.e. Thanksgiving), thanks to my clean-freak mom. Here’s a picture of the heart of the space from one of these better times…

That said, I’m really happy with my kitchen. It has a lot of storage, a great layout between the stove, sink, and cutting board.

Since we bought this house, I was able to pick out a stove I love (convection oven, five gas burners), get a large, solid maple cutting board that enjoys a permanent home of the corner of the kitchen island, and collect some fancy tools: clay pot rice cooker, high-speed blender, decent food processor, stand mixer (which I do not use daily, so it lives in the pantry)…

The pantry is a large closet with deep shelves, but moths tend to like it, so we try to store grains, pastas, beans, etc. in water-tight containers. The large pantry also lets us store extra-large amounts of things like expensive olive oil (in a box with a spigot, so we keep refilling a bottle) and super-good pasta.

Finally, the fridge. Ah, it’s always a disaster. Leftovers that overstay their welcome; condiments that expired but we didn’t get around to tossing; fresh herbs just past their prime. But I always find room for each week’s market haul and keep on top of it with a magnetic whiteboard.

Anyway, there you have it: my kitchen, sins and all. It’s where I feel my most creative and in control. It’s where I come to do what needs to be done and where I go to clear my mind at the end of a long workday. If I could change anything, it would be my own messiness–or at least to hire someone to help keep it all in check. And maybe a better faucet. Yeah…

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Thanksgiving prep is being documented over on Flickr:

Our menu is non-traditional, as usual: Greek theme on Thanksgiving proper; Mexican-inspired the night before. Different guests for each (different sides of boyfriend’s family). My mom came down on Saturday to prep with me. It’s a blast.