I've been craving iceberg lettuce lately. Is that a dehydration thing? I can't shake the idea of the cold, crispy, juicy crunchiness. I bought my first head of iceberg in years, wedged it up and futzed around with a vegan ranch dressing recipe. Man, the combo was good. Below is the recipe I ended up with that I thought was pretty damn good. Husband thought it was ok and Mina poo-poo'ed it. Then I found out she just didn't like the iceberg. What's that Mina? You only want spinach and darker leafy greens, you say? Well ok.
Madness Vegan Ranch Dressing Recipe:
1/2 c. light soy milk
1/2 c. veganaisse or fav. vegan mayonnaise
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 TBSP fresh parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste
Couple pinches of guar gum to thicken (optional)
Pour apple vinegar in soy milk and let sit for a minute until curdled. Then blend it and everything else up in the blender. Kind of on the garlic side which I dig.
I've decided I'm not baking for a month though I did perfect the chocolate chip cookie days before the self-inflicted hiatus. I'm not kidding. I nailed that mother. But people, I need a rest from so much deliciousness. After much thought, I'm pretty sure I can earn my fortune by creating a video that instructs one how to exercise while baking. Many, many problems will be solved when I figure this out. Here's the recipe. You enjoy while I abstain for 4 long weeks.
Madness' ForgetAboutIt CC Cookies
2 1/4 c. unbleached all-purp flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 c. (2 sticks) Earth Balance
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. maple sugar, packed - found in most health food stores; this is the secret, key ingredient
1 tsp vanilla
Egg Replacer, enough for 2 eggs
1 c. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped raw walnuts
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, salt in a small bowl. Beat Earth Balance, granulated, brown and maple sugars and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix together the Egg Replacer in a small bowl and gradually add to the butter mixture. Mix until well combined. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips. If this is a bit dry, add a splash or two of soy milk and mix thoroughly. Spoon drop on an ungreased cookie sheet, or on parchment paper, and bake for 9-12 minutes until golden brown on edges. Let cool 2 minutes on sheet then place cookies on a wire rack (if you have) to cool the rest of the time. Makes about 2 dozen; more if you don't dip into the dough as much as I do. These are ridiculous.
This particular cookie caused my 19 year old neighbor, Lucy, to go vegan. No joke. She had been flirting with the idea, reading and getting anxiously sparked -- unbeknownst to me -- when I had Maya bring her a plateful of the above cookie. She said to Maya, "If these are vegan, I'm sold" which we took in jest. A week later, she emailed me a bunch of questions and took the plunge. She hasn't looked back.
Carmen got stung in the face by a bee over the weekend. I heard Mina scream-crying from the bathroom on Saturday and the only word I could decipher was Carmen. I really thought the worst. But I heard Carmen trotting my way and Mina screaming behind her, "FIX CARMEN, MAMI. WHAT'S WRONG WITH CARMEN. HELP HER MAMI, HELP CARMEN." Carmen's face was swollen to the brink of explosion. It scared the shit out of me. It was just so odd and wrong. Here was my immediate and fearful diagnosis: Carmen's been poisoned. Yes, she's rubbed up on a poisonous plant and she will explode soon. Acting on this calm and thoughtful conclusion aided by the screams of a scared child, I threw Carmen in the bath tub and doused her completely. As cold water splashed on me too, I came to my senses and realized she'd probably been stung. I fumbled for an emergency vet number and then decided to run down to our resident dog expert two doors down. Keelie fosters rescues from time to time and we all ask her anything dog related. She checked Carmen's breathing, her tongue, told me to watch her for the next 20 minutes. In 20 minutes, the swelling had gone down considerably. Fyi, Keelie's tip of the month: A little canned pumpkin helps doggie diarrhea. Mina felt better though she kept a close eye on Carmen and had visions of attacking bees for the rest of the day- and night. The sight of my little girl night-sneaking in my room with her pillow and blanket and curl up on the floor next to me stabbed my heart. I whispered, "Mina, go to bed, mama. That's not comfortable down there." She whispered loudly, "It is comfortable, Mami. I hear buzzing in my room. I don't want the doggies getting stung." I couldn't send her back to the swarming bee room.
I put Mina on a plane last night to Las Vegas. She's visiting Maya and the extended family there. I welcome the break, frankly, and I’m too warmed by our village situation to go into a lonely slump. Besides, she'll be back on Friday with Maya who will be visiting for the weekend. Hooray. When I know both girls will be gone for a few days, I make tremendous plans. I think, I'll do double workouts and clean out ignored closets and go to this restaurant and see this movie. The second Mina stepped on the plane out of my sight, I realized I was so exhausted that I dreaded the drive home from the airport. At home, I controlled the TV remote for the first time in ages and ate a bowl of soy dream vanilla-mango sorbet with Cherrios sprinkled on top. PMS much?
Every single neighbor in my apartment building is fantastic. How does that happen? We’re all enjoying the summer love fest. We travel from apartment to apartment to say hi, bring food, and admire new work done in the place. We co-mingle our dogs in the courtyard, drinking and talking. The neighbors that have moved here from out of state say they’ve never had such a situation, excect the neighbor from Idaho who said her upbringing was similar. I tell them I’ve lived in Cali my whole life and never have experienced this either. We keep our doors open to catch the ocean breeze traveling from just a couple miles away. Sherrie downstairs teaches piano from her apartment and sometimes she herself plays and lets loose waves of classical pieces that swirl the courtyard. We’ll take out Claire’s trash and we’ll check in on Leonard; both of whom are in their 80’s and have lived in their apartments over thirty-five years. I’ll poke my head in on Molly to see what she’s cooking and we’ll watch the rest of an Iron Chef Challenge. Once, I found the girls sprawled on Molly’s living room floor watching a cake-decorating show while Molly was experimenting with something in the kitchen. During BBQ’s, we’ll all tell our best Uras stories. The residents that have lived here over ten years have the best ones: Holes left in ceilings for months, electrical cross wiring where a light goes on in one room and out in another, many, many accounts of unintelligible conversations where Uras talks in circles and says nothing. He once told me that I have Aztec in my eyes. I said, Huh? “Yes, you look Aztec deep in eyes. I see it!” I didn’t even know how to counter that conversation. Currently he's fixing the stairs. He's brought in his son Linus for the job who's free from college on summer break. Uras has taught his son the ins and outs of contruction with wire, duct tape and pick axes. The stair job was started a week ago and Husband and I bet the over-under on when it would get finished. I bet over a month.
One last recipe for the road. Here’s a coconut-cashew rice adapted from the new VegNews that I cooked for Lucy and Sherrie’s daughter, Lina, who is coming back to veganism after a frustrating first year in college:
Coconut Cashew Rice
1 TBSPS sesame oil
½ yellow onion, minced or chopped well
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ c. red bell peppers, cut in strips or chopped if you like
1 TSBSP fresh grated ginger
Two 14oz cans of unsweetened, light coconut milk
1 ½ c of brown rice
Sea salt to taste
¼ c.. shredded, unsweetened coconut (optional)
¼ c.chopped cashews
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened, about 5 mins. Add ginger and cook another couple minutes. Stir in coconut milk and rice; add salt to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes, add red bell pepper, over and cook until rice is tender, about 20 more minutes. Put in serving dish and sprinkle with shredded coconut and cashews.