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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Welcome back to another recount from my wonderful vacation in Budapest.

This time, I want to talk about one of my favorite things, FOOD!

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As a vegetarian, it was difficult to find traditional, yet meatless, Hungarian meals in Budapest.

Although meat is a must for Hungarian cuisine, Sebastian and I were able to find several delicious vegetarian restaurants in Budapest.

We ate at Govinda Vegetarian Restaurant and Salad Bar twice during our week-long vacation.

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With an alle carte buffet, the dishes change daily. You can either order a set meal or just pick and choose from what’s on offer. The first time we ate at Govinda, Sebastian and I shared the Indian buffet for two. IMAG0184

We received two curries, one with mixed vegetables and one with potatoes and eggplant, saffron rice, dal, a samosa, two tempura eggplant slices, 1 roti, 1 parantha, two chutneys and two mango lassies.

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Wow, were we stuffed!

This meal was so good that we came back once more before leaving Hungary. Although I didn’t get a photo of the meal, everything the second time around was different but equally as delicious!

Another favorite restaurant was Hummus Bar.

As the name suggests, this place does hummus and does it well.

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Sebastian and I both opted for a hummus plate. He had a beer with his meal and I went for a mint lemonade which was really refreshing on such a hot day.

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I couldn’t decide which toppings to get with my hummus plate so went for the option that offered everything. My favorite toppings were the falafel and spiced kidney beans.

The plates were served with hot pita bread. Needless to say, we left this meal feeling very full and happy.

My friend, Josh, would love Budapest because every restaurant seemed to have a comprehensive menu of Belgian beers. If you’re not up for the high alcohol content, don’t worry, you can always get a coke, juice or water.

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Fruit stalls are spotted all over the city, especially near main train stations and metro stops.

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One of the more decadent (read expensive) treats I had while in Budapest was a fancy gelato.

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Fancy because it was formed into the shape of a rose.

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It looked and tasted great.

The main food attraction in Budapest has to be the Great Market Hall.P8170611

With produce, meat, fish, grains and spices, this building has been a a one-stop shop for fresh food since the early 1900s.

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  On the second floor of the market hall, across from the textiles, you can find the food stalls.

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It was here that I had my one and only “traditional Hungarian” meal, a langos.

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Basically a deep-fried dough topped with sour cream and cheese, this may be traditional, but I found it disgusting.

Sorry, Hungary, but I simply couldn’t eat this.

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Oh well, being in new places is all about trying new things. I’m glad I tried a langos, but am happy to never eat one again.

Luckily, there was lots of beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables to drool over.

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Wandering through the isles of produce was a great way to get to know the food culture of Hungary.

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Vegan Banana Bread

Happy Independence Day my fellow Americans!

On this 4th of July, I’m looking forward to the 5th and 8th. On these two dates, friends and past roommates will arrive in Germany.

My friend Christina arrives tomorrow and will stay until the 7th, then my friend Katie will arrive on the 8th.

Katie and I will be traveling and hiking through France for 5-7 days. Our plans are not fixed, but I’ve been busy attempting to arrange cheap travel with carpooling and couchsurfing. Once Katie is here, the real fun and planning will begin.

One recipe that screams America is banana bread.

Everyone needs a good banana bread recipe.

If you’re trying to avoid dairy or animal products for any reason, give this delicious vegan banana bread recipe a try.

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Vegan Banana Bread

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

1/2 cup crushed walnuts

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt 

3 ripe bananas

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2-4 Tablespoons soy milk, as needed to form a good consistency

Method

  1. Mash the bananas with a fork. Add powdered sugar and oil to the mashed bananas and mix well.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, ground flax and crushed walnuts in a separate mixing bowl.
  3. Add the mashed banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well to make a batter. Add soy milk as needed to adjust the consistency.
  4. Grease a loaf pan with little oil and add the batter to it.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 – 60 minutes, or a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the middle of the loaf.
  6. Remove to a cooling rack, cool completely before slicing (if you can wait that long.)

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This Sunday, my friend Matt’s son, Oskar, celebrated his 3rd birthday.

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After two weeks of rain, the skies finally cleared and the sun shone down on the park picnic.

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It was a beautiful day, full of happy children, good food and time spent with friends.

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Earlier this week I saw an adorable cookie monster cupcake idea on a new-to-me blog called applejacks. A few days later, Annie of Annie’s Eats wrote about the Sesame Street themed birthday party she threw for her son.

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Inspired by both bloggers, I combined their ideas and created my own version of Sesame Street Cupcakes.

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They were a hit, even with the Elmo-loving birthday boy!

Although these adorable cupcakes ended happily, they began with a very sad state of affairs.

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My very first cupcake flop.

Although the recipe for funfetti cupcakes came from a website that I’ve used lots of times, for some reason, these cupcakes just didn’t work for me.

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So, I stuck with what I know and made the perfect vegan vanilla cupcakes.

Light, fluffy, vanilla deliciousness!

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I find it a bit ironic that the ‘traditional’ recipe was a disaster but the untraditional recipe worked like a charm.

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Earlier in the week, I prepared the eyes and colored coconut flakes.

The eyes were made by melting white chocolate, placing spoonfuls onto parchment paper, then sticking a chocolate chip in the middle of each dollop.

The eyes took several hours to completely set so making them ahead is a good idea.

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I’ve always been a bit partial towards died coconut flakes.

When I was young, my mom always made a 3D Easter basket scene by shaping rice crispy treats and coating them in beautiful Easter colored coconut.

I found a powdered food dye that created really vibrant colors.

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For the frosting, I stuck with my vegan vanilla buttercream frosting, minus the vegan part… I only had real butter left.

So I guess this was straight up vanilla buttercream then.

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I generously frosted the cupcakes…

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then placed them upside down in the coconut flakes.

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After a few rolls in the coconut flakes, the fuzzy ‘fur’ was stuck and ready to go.

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Although Annie’s cupcakes were adorable with their skillfully piped frosting fur, I love the way the coconut looks so fuzzy and puppet-like.

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In addition to the chocolate eyes, I used gummy treats (which are a cinch to cut,) chocolate chip cookies, oreo cookies and nutella to decorate the cupcake characters.

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Introducing the Sesame Street Characters!

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Cookie Monster (my favorite)

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Big Bird

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Oscar the Grouch

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Elmo

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Although Big Bird looks a bit out of proportioned and fearful for his life, I’m really happy with how the cupcakes turned out.

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They made everyone at the party smile.

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Well, everyone except Big Bird that is.

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Tomorrow is an exciting day in my classroom.

After learning about the Ancient Roman empire for two semesters, we will celebrate the culminating activity with a Roman feast.

The kids are beyond excited.

They’ve created their togas and stollas, fashioned their jewelry and broaches, and even decided on special Romanesque hairstyles.

But who am I kidding, the party isn’t about the fashion or Roman games, it’s about the food!

Luckily I have an amazing group of parents who are providing most of the food for the feast.

The kids, however, will bake Roman bread.

I’m contributing a recipe of my own- Grape leaves stuffed with lentils and shallot cooked brown rice.

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I’m not claiming that my contribution is an authentic Roman recipe, it’s more of a “What would Kendel make with the ingredients in a Roman kitchen.”

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Whereas the Romans would have used cereal grains like spelt, I’ve used brown rice which has been cooked with shallots and vegetable stock. Although brown rice was unknown to the Romans, I thought it would help hold the leaves together.

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I’ll top the prepared stuffed grape leaves with tomatoes tomorrow and bake them before serving.

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Hopefully the kids will feel like they’re truly at a Roman feast.

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I still had leftover lentils and brown rice once the leaves were all stuffed so ate the extra stuffing as dinner.

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With a simple drizzle of olive oil, these two easy ingredients made a filling and fancy-tasting dinner.

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Lentils with Shallots and Brown Rice

Vegan ~ Vegetarian ~ Simple

Ingredients

For the lentils

1 can cooked lentils

2 bay leaves

For the rice

1/2 cup brown rice

1- 1 1/4 cups water

2 small shallots, chopped

1 tsp. vegetable stock granules

olive oil

fresh black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the rice according to package instructions along with the addition of the shallots and stock granules.
  2. Warm the lentils and bay leaves over medium-low heat until the bay leaves become aromatic.
  3. Plate the rice and lentils together, drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper to taste.

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Tomorrow the Room Mums from my class are throwing a farewell party for the four children who are leaving our school at the end of the year.

One of the hardest parts about working in an international school is that families come and go quite easily. Parents are relocated for work and the kids are off to new lands. Although this is exciting and allows for so many wonderful learning opportunities, it’s also a bit sad.

Where I grew up, people rarely moved. The class roster was almost identical for 13 years.I graduated high school with almost all the same people that I went to kindergarten with. 

My high school English teacher even taught my father.

Saying goodbye to children is really hard for me. I care so much for each and every child in my class, and the thought that I will probably never see them again breaks my heart.

 So, to make the farewells more bearable, we’re throwing a party.

To make the farewells more sweet, I baked cupcakes.

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Healthy Vegan Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Slightly adapted from: Confessions of a Bake-a-Holic

Ingredients

4 cups flour

2 2/3 cups raw sugar

1 1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup apple sauce

3 cups hot water

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line or oil a muffin tin.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oil, apple sauce, hot water and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix just to combine. Add bananas.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in the refrigerator. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

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I love my weekly box of fresh, organic, local produce.

Oh, have I said that before?

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Sorry for sounding like a stuck record, but deciding to receive a weekly CSA delivery is the smallest change, but it has yielded the largest difference.

I am now saving money on groceries, eating healthier, and experimenting with new recipes and produce.

All the while, I’m supporting businesses that I believe in.

A win-win situation.

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Here’s how I make the best use of this service.

  1. Before Wednesday of the delivery week, I visit my CSA’s online shopping center. There I can see what produce is planned to be included in my weekly vegetable box.
  2. Usually I want everything that is scheduled, but sometimes there will be items that I either don’t want or already have left from the previous week’s delivery, take carrots cor example.
  3. If I want all but one item, say carrots, I usually keep with the scheduled box but just edit my order to not include carrots.
  4. I also have the option to choose a completely different box. Biolandgärtnerei Hüsgen offers 8 different pre-planned boxes for €12.50: Vegetable, Mother and Child, Fruit, Regional Produce,Raw Produce, Single, Quick Cooking, and Full Assortment boxes.
  5. If I didn’t want any of the pre-arranged plans, I could create a Wish Box by choosing individual items from the online shop.
  6. In addition to the organic produce boxes, their online shop offers almost any other product that can be found in a small organic grocery store. I usually add a box of 6 eggs from Hof Alpermühle.
  7. Once my order is placed, I keep my eyes open for recipes that include the items I expect later in the week.
  8. I usually plan my meals based on which food items spoil more quickly. The produce with a shorter life-span is cooked earlier in the week than the more resilient veggies. This leads to less waste and better quality.
  9. On Friday, my box is delivered to my front door and the real fun begins!

Biolandgärtnerei Hüsgen makes it so simple to choose items and plan my weekly delivery. I rarely need to shop the regular grocery store and as a result, have saved a lot of money.

Although I’m pretty good at planning how to use my weekly veggies, there have been times when my fridge is about to burst with produce that needs to be used.

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When this happens, I either make soup or stir fry.

My CSA Veggie Stir Fry is less of a recipe and more of a formula for using up any vegetables that linger in the crisper…

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This week, my CSA Veggie Stir Fry included pea pods, savoy cabbage, mushrooms, broccoli, shallots, ginger, garlic and sesame seeds.

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The garlic and ginger were cooked briefly in hot sesame oil before I added the remaining vegetables. This allows the oil to flavor which will later help to impart an even taste amongst the veggies.

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Cooked over high heat, I added a bit of water every now and then to help the veggies steam.

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Once the vegetables were starting to soften and brighten in color, I added a simple stir-fry sauce made with sesame oil, soy sauce, miring, agave nectar salt and pepper.

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Cooked until tender yet slightly crisp, the last step was to add sesame seeds to the vegetables.

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Served with jasmine rice, this CSA veggie stir fry was one of the best I’ve made yet.

CSA Veggie Stir Fry Formula

~ Vegan ~ Vegetarian ~

Prepare the Vegetables and Oil

4-5 cups raw vegetables, all cut to a similar size

2 cloves garlic

1/2 inch nub of fresh ginger,

1-2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

Prepare the Sauce to Taste

1 Tablespoon sesame oil

2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce

1-2 Tablespoons mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

1-2 teaspoons agave nectar

salt and pepper

 

Step 1

Heat the wok or non-stick frying pan. Add the sesame oil, heat for a moment then add the garlic and ginger. Cook over high heat until fragrant.

Step 2

Add the vegetables and continue to cook over high heat, stirring frequently. If the vegetables begin to stick, add a couple tablespoons of water.

Step 3

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small cup and whisk well. Once the vegetables begin to brighten, pour the sauce over top and stir to well-coat all ingredients.

Step 4

Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender to the tooth but still slightly crisp when bitten into. Stir in the sesame seeds.

Step 5

Serve the stir fry over cooked rice and enjoy!

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For the last two weeks, my weekday breakfasts have been almost identical.

Going to bed late and getting up exceptionally early to work on reports has lead to a lack of creativity around the breakfast table desk.

At least this easy, regular breakfast is still full of flavor and nutrition to get me going in the mornings.

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My new favorite: Maple Vanilla Granola with fresh soy milk.

I’m planning on making another double-sized batch of this tomorrow.

I adapted Jessica’s recipe a bit because maple syrup is so expensive in Germany. A 50/50 combination of maple syrup and golden syrup work really well together. I want to try maple syrup and agave nectar next.

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Bowl full of fruit: watermelon, strawberries and a peach.

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Coffee with soy milk in my Dutch mug.

Even though my life is less hectic with reports being finished, I’m not willing to give up this breakfast combination quite yet.

What can I say, simple suits me.

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