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Clean-the-Fridge Stir Fry with Szechuan Sauce

18 Nov

This week has been crazy, as I worked on several projects that were much more time consuming than I had anticipated.  Meanwhile, grocery shopping did not happen, much less any house cleaning, including the refrigerator.  About every other week I make it a habit to go through the fridge, discard any old leftovers and use up produce or packaged goods that are about to expire.

Tonight’s dinner turned out to be largely inspired by the results of a refrigerator clean-out.  I came across some old spinach, broccoli, one zucchini, and a piece of ginger.  All looked like today would be their last chance at a dignified end as food, rather than trash.  I also found pineapple chunks and minced shallots that were about to expire, and jars of marinara and Szechuan sauces with only small quantities left.

The Szechuan sauce beckoned me in the direction of a stir-fry, so I searched for some more vegetables and a starch.  I thought about fried rice, but didn’t feel like waiting for brown rice to cook.  Instead, I looked in my pantry and found Chinese noodles (reminiscent of Ramen noodles).  In addition, I found some fresh carrots, Brussels sprouts, and an onion.

For today’s stir-fry, I cut the carrots into matchsticks, following a strategy taught to me by a friend.  I started by cutting diagonally along the carrot in order to make thin slices that were about 1.5 inches long and 1/4 inch thick.

Then I cut into each carrot slice lengthwise to make the matchstick.

I sauteed about 1/3 a medium onion, coarsely chopped, in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, for about three minutes in my wok.

I then added the carrot matchsticks and mixed them, allowing them to sauté for almost ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the carrots and onions cooked, I worked on cutting the Brussels sprouts, zucchini, and broccoli.  My broccoli was already cut up from a previous meal prep, but I did have to slice my zucchini into 2 inch chunks, and my Brussels sprouts into quarters after first removing the bottoms.

Once the ten minutes passed, I checked that my carrots felt tender on the outside with just a bit of crunch on the inside, since they would continue cooking more thoroughly after mixing in more ingredients. I added all the green vegetables except for spinach.  I mixed everything with about 1/4  cup vegetable broth to prevent sticking, and covered the wok with a lid.

While the vegetables steamed with the carrot and onion mix, I put water in another pot for boiling my noodles, and also began mincing my ginger with a microplane.  This ginger was definitely getting old, because it wasn’t as juicy as fresh ginger, but nevertheless, I minced away.

I love microplanes, because they are very  handy for zesting citrus fruits and mincing nutmeg too.  Below you can see what the ginger looks like after mincing.

After accumulating about 1.5 tablespoons of ginger, I added the rest of the Szechuan sauce from the old jar (about 5 tablespoons), the rest of the marinara sauce (about 1/4 cup), and half the jar of shallots (2 ounces).

I blended these ingredients with a whisk, and mixed the sauce into the stir-fry.  At this point, my water was also boiling for my noodles, so I put them in the pot.

Once the noodles were back to a rapid boil, I knew they’d only take about 3-4 minutes to cook, so it was a perfect time to add my spinach to the stir-fry, since it only needed to wilt in the stir-fry.  I mixed in the spinach and also threw in about 1/3 of the pineapple jar as well.

After testing them for an “al dente” texture, I drained the noodles in a colander.

I immediately added about half the noodles to the stir fry and mixed it thoroughly.  The entire package of Chinese noodles was just too much, and I prefer to have a stir-fry that is more vegetable than starch.

The final entree was delicious!  We did add soy sauce once it was plated, because I didn’t even think of it while cooking, but otherwise the Szechaun/marinara blend was delicious but not overpowering.  Both the pineapple and the ginger were just the right amount to give it a distinct, but subtle flavor.  I was very pleased with how the carrots softened and had a natural sweetness, while the Brussels sprouts had absorbed a lot of the sauce’s flavor.  However, the noodles did break apart, which I wasn’t expecting — I’m thinking that maybe they had continued cooking with the heat of the stir-fry.  Perhaps next time I should bring them together on the plate instead of the wok, or boil them for less time.

Overall, it was delicious, and I am looking forward to having some for lunch tomorrow.  In the mean time, I have to think about what to do with the rest of the noodles, shallot, and pineapple I didn’t use today!


The Vegan Ilk of Milk

12 Nov

Vegans have the glorious choice of not one, but at least six milks most dairy-drinkers often don’t even know about.  Most people have heard of soy milk, and in fact many coffee shops including Starbucks now carry it as an alternative to dairy.  However, there are also additional delicious choices such as almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, oat milk, and coconut milk.  Each has a distinct flavor and consistency.  Some are sweeter than others, and thus serve some purposes better than others.

Typically, coconut and rice are the sweetest choices, which are excellent for desserts, but not uncommon in entrees such as curries.  Neither one, in my opinion,  is particularly good to drink straight from a glass, if not mixed with coffee or in a smoothie.  Soy milk and almond milk are more flexible, and are good for use in baking recipes, or to simply drink plainly.  My only experience with oat milk so far is in baking and using for cereal.  As for hemp milk, it is more expensive than the others, so usually I just enjoy it by drinking it with cocoa powder.  Either way, they are all enjoyable and worth trying.

The question for today, however, is which one would be most delicious and effective in making  creamy mashed potatoes?  I decided to try all of them (except coconut — that one I know would be way too sweet).

To prepare the potatoes, start with scrubbing the skins with a vegetable brush. I never peel my potatoes — it’s a waste of time!  But if you want your mashed potatoes to be completely white, then go for it.  I prefer mine “dirty” and less time consuming.  While you’re at it, be sure to put water in a large pot to boil.

Cut the potatoes by first steadying it on its side and cutting it lengthwise in half.  Then take the two halves and set them flat side down. Depending on the size of the potato, cut it lengthwise into two, three, or four slices. Then cut perpendicular into 1.5″ chunks.

Once the water is at a rolling boil (not just sputtering bubbles), put the potatoes in.  The rolling boil will stop, but the potatoes will be cooking.   When they return to a rolling boil, check them after 15 minutes.  The timing may vary depending on the amount of water and potatoes, so keep checking.  If you can poke right through them easily with a toothpick and they break apart, then they are pretty much done. If you taste one, it should fall apart in your mouth.

Once the potatoes are finished, let them drain in a colander for a few minutes so that all the water is out. Then put them back in the pot and mash them.

Once they are broken up, you can use an immersion blender.  Mine is a Proctor Silex. I love using it for pureeing soups, without the bneed to transfer messy hot liquids to my blender.

Add Earth Balance (about 4 tablespoons) to the potatoes, as well as salt and pepper, to the taste.

Now it is time for the milk taste tests.  I put five dollops of potatoes each in its own bowl and added 1 tablespoon each of the test milks.  I used a small whisk to incorporate the milk into the potatoes.

After trying all the samples twice, I resorted to using process of elimination to narrow down my choices.  I quickly took out both hemp milk and soy milk out of the running, as their flavors were too strong and interfered with that of the mashed potatoes.  Next I eliminated the oat milk because it also had a noticeable taste.  Finally, I really couldn’t make up my mind between the almond milk and rice milk.  Rice milk seemed like the most neutral taste, but also appeared thin and runny.  Therefore, I decided to mix equal parts rice and almond milks in this particular batch of mashed potatoes.  Thus, I added 1/2 cup of each and used the immersion blender once again to mix everything.  The result was smooth and creamy!

Three Minute Vegan Ice Cream

10 Nov

At a Veg Meetup a few weeks ago, I described my vegan ice cream recipe that I’ve been making for a few years.  To some, it seemed to involve a lot of work, but to me it only takes about five minutes, or three minutes if I rush.  The trick is to always have the ingredients on hand, of course, and multi-task the preparation and clean up.  Today, I actually set my stopwatch and finished the whole job (with pictures) in 2 minutes, 58.2 seconds!

Very often, I have an insatiable desire for chocolate, and sometimes it’s in the form of ice cream.  In the summer, it’s every day!

Vegan Ice Cream does exist and is available for sale in both health food stores and regular grocery stores like Shoprite — however, it still has fat and sugar comparable to cow’s ice cream.  As much as I love Coconut Bliss, So Delicious, and Purely Decadent chocolate ice creams, I can’t afford to eat the calories (or pay the price) every day.

But a banana, ice cubes, almond milk, and hemp powder can be a surprisingly rich stand-in for these higher-calorie ice creams, and very easy to make.  As I mentioned in my smoothie post, I always keep frozen overripe bananas on hand.  I usually buy them at Acme, where they sell them for $0.25 / lb. in paper bags.  Before they get mushy, but after they are very yellow and have quite a few black spots on them, I peel them and freeze them in a plastic ziplock bag.  Provided I have these bananas, some cocoa powder, and almond milk on hand, I’m set!  You don’t need the hemp powder, but I have been adding it ever since I discovered that I’d much rather have chocolate ice cream after a workout than a protein shake.  Thus, I put my hemp powder in the ice cream, with the added bonus that it does add a subtle nutty flavor and some body to the ice cream.  Now I add it all the time, even when I haven’t worked out.  All in all, the result is a delicious ice cream eating experience that really amounts to no more calories or regret than having eaten a banana!

Following a recipe based loosely on Alissa Cohen’s Living on Live Food and in observing banana whips in progress at Bashful Banana (Great veg-friendly food!) in Ocean City, New Jersey, I devised a strategy using the tools and resources I have.  Bear in mind, as pictured, my food processor has a hole on the top of the lid with a removable cup.  Once the machine is running, I safely add most of my ingredients through there to avoid wasting time, but you might want to stop yours in between ingredients (today I had to stop it in order to take pictures).  I also suggest washing some of the tools while the food processor works, but for the first time, you may want to keep your eyes on it instead.

1. Set up and plug in food processor.

2. Put 3-4 ice cubes in the processor and start running it.

3. While the ice is chopped up, grab a knife, cutting board, and a banana from the freezer.  Cut it into round slices about 3/4-inch thick.

4. Add these slices to the food processor (I actually throw them in through the hole on top and keep the machine running).

5. While these get chopped up, wash off your knife and cutting board, and grab the almond milk, hemp protein (if using), and cocoa powder from the fridge.

6. Pour in about 3 tablespoons of the almond milk (eyeball it) through the hole on the top.

7. Add about 2 tablespoons each of cocoa powder and hemp protein.

8. Put the hemp protein, cocoa powder, and almond milk in the fridge while the food processor is running.

9. When the mixture is thick and smooth but not liquified, stop the food processor.  Immediately wash the food processor lid.

10. Remove the food processor bowl and careful take out the blade.  You can use a small rubber spatula to push off the ice cream.  Immediately wash this blade too.

11. Don’t waste time or dirty any more dishes!  Take that same small spatula and eat your ice cream right out of the food processor bowl!

12.  When finished, wash the bowl immediately to avoid sticking.

Mmmmmm!!!  Tastes great, and if you multi-tasked, you really don’t have dishes to wash or stuff to put away.  Five minutes later, it looks like nothing happened in your kitchen — nope, no sneaky snacks at all!

However, the only catch is that you really do need to eat it on the spot before it melts, and it won’t keep the same texture if you freeze it.  Thus, for real vegan banana ice cream, you’d have to use an ice cream maker and more ingredients.

Here are some suggested add-ins I’ve used in the past (add to the finished ice cream and pulse the blade a few times to incorporate it):

1.  Almond or peanut butter (be sure it is room temperature).

2. Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.

3. Vegan Graham Crackers, Sweet and Sara Marshmallows, and chocolate chips (My response to the Phillies Graham Slam flavor put out by Turkey Hill).

4. Coarsely chopped Oreos (I usually get Newman-O’s).

5. Peanuts or almonds.

6. A teaspoon of agave nectar and a drop of vanilla extract (especially if your bananas weren’t that ripe and sweet).

7. Chunks of brownie or cookie dough if I happen to be making some.

8. Carob powder instead of cocoa powder.

Substituions, if needed:

1. Frozen chunks of mango also work as well as bananas, but I wouldn’t put cocoa powder in it.

2. Almond milk is my favorite for this recipe, but really any non-dairy milk will do.

3.  You could always skip the cocoa if you don’t like chocolate.

****If I get a Flip video camera for Christmas, I promise I’ll repost in the future with a video to prove how fast this recipe can be made!  In the  mean time, enjoy!

Wow, those are some big bananas! (Tostones: fried plantains with rice and beans)

8 Nov

If you’ve never seen a plantain, you may be surprised to see it looks like a prolific banana.  In fact, when I taught Spanish and brought them to my class, it drew quite a bit of attention from the immature minds of my high school students.  In addition to the inappropriate comments, most students said they had never seen such big “mutant bananas” and others thought they might have been rotting since even the green ones had some spots on them.

Interestingly enough, most people don’t know that our sweet beloved bananas are the real mutant.  The original fruit is the starchy plantain that can be traced back thousands of years to Southeast Asia, and is usually cooked when eaten.  And although the most popular banana we eat today is the sweet yellow one, the truth is that the banana mutation occurred in 1836 in Jamaica, when discovered by Jean Francois Poujot in his plantation.  After that, entire nations were developed due to the rising power of the banana industry.

Bananas are indeed delicious, and had a significant influence in world history, but today I acknowledge its parents, the plantains.

When purchasing plantains, you may see they are often sold either green (platanos verdes — unripe) or yellow (platanos maduros — ripe).  If you want them ripe for other recipes, you could also buy the green ones and wait several days.  But for today’s tostones, green is good.

Way before I started preparing the plantains, I planned ahead for my rice and beans.  Both needed to be soaked several hours before preparation, so I did that first thing in the morning.  But note the difference:  the beans should be soaked in boiling water, and the rice should be soaked in cold water.

Both rice and beans from dry packaging require rinsing to remove any dirt or powder.  In addition, the beans should be examined to be sure there are no tiny rocks or twigs (I have found rocks!).  For improved digestion, rice should also be soaked in cold water because it will release its phytic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of protein and certain minerals.  Beans should be soaked in hot water because it helps to break down indigestible sugars known as oligosaccharides (known to cause gas!)  Also, in both the rice and the beans, the time soaked contributes to the cooking time, thus resulting in a faster preparation later in the day.

The rest of the rice and beans preparation can occur right before you fry the plantains, or during, if you can multi-task.

For the beans, be sure to drain the soaking water and rinse them completely to wash away the oligosaccharides and any remaining dirt.  The best way to cook them is in a pressure cooker, but it could be done in a regular pot too if you give yourself more time.

If you have a pressure cooker, put the beans in it with enough water to cover approximately one inch above the beans.  Add bay leaves, and some spices to your liking.  Today, I used about 1 tsp each cumin, annatto, chili powder, dried cilantro, and garlic powder because I was going for some of the Latin flavoring.  The measurements for these depend on how much beans you’re cooking (I only had about 2 cups).  Put the lid snugly on the pressure cooker as per the directions, and set the burner on high.  Your pressure cooker may vary in its directions, and it will also vary with your choice of beans.  I used black beans, so they only needed about 15 minutes of cooking after the pressure cooker reached the point of pressure.  Unless your pressure cooker has a specific way of identifying this status, you may just need to rely on what you see and hear happening.  With mine, I start to hear a rise in a hissing sound, until it’s making quite a fuss and blowing some steam through a hole in the lid.  Then suddenly it stops and I hear a quiet rumble and hiss.  That’s when I start the timer.  When time’s up, I wait for the pressure to drop and check the beans.  If the beans are soft, then they are done.  Don’t worry if there is extra water.  You can leave the beans in that water, because this water is OK to save or even use in another dish.

Meanwhile, the rice can be drained and rinsed, and then prepared in another pot.  With the exception of the presoaking part, I still make my rice as my sister-in-law showed me using sauteed onions in the pot first, then adding the rice and mixing it all together with water and a boullion cube.  A quick trick to quickly chopping an onion:  cut the onion in half down its vertical center (not its equator!), then make several slices perpendicular to it’s root, but not all the way through so that it does not come undone.  Then slice parallel to the root and the onion will magically appear chopped into little squares.

Since the rice has already been soaked, I just use a 2:1 ratio of water to rice, instead of the 2.5:1 recommended for dry brown rice.  Once the water is on the rice, it really shouldn’t be stirred because the starches break up and make the rice mushy.  Leave it to boil until you notice that enough water has evaporated and you see sputtering holes in the rice’s landscape.  At that point, lower the burner to a simmer, and keep a lid on it for 20 more minutes.

When finished, you can mix the rice and beans together in a bowl, if you don’t mind the color of the beans running into the rice (like a dirty rice), or keep them separate and plate the rice with the beans on top or on the side.

Now the plantains!  Peeling green plantains can be a challenge.  I try to cut lengthwise along the natural creases and peel them.  If you have a very hard time, it could help to cut them first into 1.5 – 2 inch chunks and cut the skins off by tilting them on their sides and cutting downward where the plantain meets its skin.  There’s actually a great step-by-step explanation with pictures here.

Once you have these chunks, you are ready to deep-fry.  Yes, I did say deep fry.  But don’t be alarmed!  If done correctly, deep-frying can result in less oil absorption than other forms of frying.  Some general tips:

  • Use an oil that can stand high temperatures, like safflower oil, and always monitor it with an oil/candy thermometer.  Oil that is too cold will be absorbed into the food.  If it is too hot, it will obviously burn the food and also release carcinogenic compounds.
  • Use tongs to both place and remove your food from the oil, so you do not splash hot oil on yourself or your stove (it’s hard to clean).
  • Do not put all your foods in at once — that will cause the oil temperature to drop.  Regulate the oil by monitoring your burner at all times.  370 degree is generally a good temperature (recipes vary), but it should never go above 400 for most oils — also, depending on your oil thermometer, watch that the temperature doesn’t go anywhere near the maximum number, because it will break!  If you see it rises high, just pull the thermometer out so it can cool in the air, but never put it into cold water.
  • After frying, rather than setting the foods on the paper towel (where they sit in their own oil), put them on a cookie cooling rack instead, with paper towels or a cookie sheet underneath to catch the dripping oil.

To make tostones, they must actually be fried twice.  The first time, they are fried in their chunk forms only until the outside is golden and you no longer hear crackling — just sizzling.  As you fry each batch, make sure they are on a cooling rack , and keep them in some kind of order so that when you are ready for the next step you start with your cool ones first and don’t burn yourself!

Next they will be squashed with a beautifully simple device called a tostonera.  Place the fried plantain chunk onto the circular indent and close the handle onto it.  You need not smash it completely to smithereens — just enough to make it into a patty.

Once your patties are ready, they go back in the deep fry oil (check the temperature!) and continue to fry until they have become a crispy golden patty.  Remove them from the oil and drain them once again on cooling racks.

Sprinkle the tostones with coarse salt and serve with the beans and rice.


Lazy Cheezy Sunday

7 Nov

A wonderful lazy Sunday watching movies can’t be interrupted for much more than some air-popped popcorn and hot tea.  But alas, we must eat too, and so I went about preparing my lazy grilled “cheeze” in between movies.

I only just found this neat little appliance buried in the back of one of my kitchen cabinets.  It is a Proctor Silex Mealmaker that my mother gave me ten years ago when I had my first apartment and (*blush*) still ate cheese.

I made many little sandwiches in it back when I had no idea how to cut an onion and could barely boil water.  Somehow, it survived three moves and ended up forgotten in the cabinet.  When I found it this summer, I eagerly cleaned it up and plugged it in, delighted to see it still worked.

Prior to finding my little sandwich maker, I made grilled cheeze using an All-Clad panini press pan, which is still a fantastic way to cook, especially when using artisan breads.  But today was a lazy Sunday and I had no artisan bread anyway.  All I had was some store-bought whole-wheat bread, Earth Balance, Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheddar “cheese,” and one organic tomato.

I like to make my own bread, but my husband still likes typical store bread, so I buy him Arnold’s because most of their breads are vegan and do not contain high fructose corn syrup or too much junk.  I love Earth Balance as my standard butter substitute because it has a rich flavor that is much better than margarine.  Follow Your Heart is a great brand for vegan products — especially their Vegenaise and Sour Cream — and this cheese is wonderful.  However, it is not as wonderful as Daiya Cheddar cheese, which is harder for me to find.  Nevertheless, it is not too difficult to shred the block of cheddar “cheese.”

After shredding the cheddar and slicing the tomatoes, I spread the Earth Balance on both slices of bread and made them into sandwiches.

After preheating it and spraying the surface of the sandwich maker with some oil, I placed the sandwiches in it and closed the lid.

There is a light on the sandwich maker that turns green when it is finished.  Surprisingly, it still worked accurately (I cannot say the same for the waffle iron I have), although I still recommend opening the lid just barely to peek and see if it’s done before opening it all the way.

Done!  This particular model sandwich maker presses a crease  into the sandwiches, which then could be a perfect place to cut them and have two triangular pockets of yumminess.  I cut mine in half again in this picture to demonstrate the wonderful cheeziness, but I recommend you do it as well.  Why?  Well, when I ate that second piece, I burned myself.  I didn’t think of this earlier, but apparently the tomato gets very hot while it’s sealed into the warm little bread pocket.  It then remains hot until you bite into it and get steam and hot tomato juice all over your tongue.  Trust me, it still hurts several hours later!

But even with my injured tongue, I still enjoyed this sandwich, and did not need more than ten minutes to prepare it and clean up after myself.  Perfect for a lazy Sunday!

World Vegan Day and the Scoop on Scoops

1 Nov

My first official blog post!  I chose to start today in honor of World Vegan Day as well as the first official day of VeganMoFo (Vegan Month of Food).  What better way to kick off my blog writing, than with a month-long challenge to write about food and cooking every day?  Perfect!

The Scoop on Scoops

Since all good activism is enhanced with food, I baked chocolate chip cookies (from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking)  to share at my friend Christine’s presentation tonight at the Millville Public Library.  Christine’s discussion was called “Compassion – Why Love Some Animals and Eat Others?” which she presented to a group that raises money and awareness for low-cost spaying/neutering of dogs and cats.

In preparing the cookies, I realized I only had enough organic sugar to make one batch.  Having no idea how many people would attend the presentation, I was hoping for at least four dozen cookies.  And so I thought to make my cookies smaller…

In making the cookies smaller, some questions came up.  Would the temperature and timing of the baking be the same? Would there be enough chips in each cookie or would there be a few lacking chips?  Would they be chewy or crunchy?

When making cookies, I love using scoops rather than spoons so that each of my  cookies are the same size, and I need not get my fingers messy while scooping them on cookie sheets.  Cookie scoops, along with parchment paper, are my two favorite tools for making fast, easy cookies.

My three cookie scoops

I have three scoops, as pictured.  The smallest is a Pamper Chef (bout 3/4 Tbsp.), the medium is a Chefmate (about 1 Tbsp.), and the largest has no distinguishable brand name (about 2 Tbsp.)   Have a scoop, but not sure it’s size?  Click here for instructions.  Some companies label them by inches, millimeters, ounces, or even just “small, medium, large.”  But if you have different brands, as I do, it may be good to get uniform measurements so you know to what to expect.

Out of these three, the Pampered Chef is the best one.  The metal is thicker, the mechanism is stronger and smoother in its motion, thus delivering a quick, well-formed cookie dough ball usually in one squeeze.  Unfortunately, the other two are not as great in quality and have actually fallen off track several times, requiring a pause in my baking, a dash to the tool closet, and the use of pliers to set them back.  I know that I might be squeezing too hard or too repetitively, and I have tried dipping the scoop in water between cookies to prevent sticking.  However, with a tool that is meant to speed up my baking, I expect to scoop, squeeze, drop, and move on, which is why the Pampered Chef Scoop is my favorite.  Oxo and Martha Stewart apparently also make cookie scoops that have received good reviews, but I have never tried them.

Three scoops; three cookies

I managed to stretch the limited amount of cookie batter to three cookie sheets — one with each scoop.  The pictures show the sizes of my cookies.  The largest scoop yielded a 3″ inch diameter cookie that was definitely the chewiest and tastiest, enjoyed in about three or four bites.  It require about 1 minute, 30 seconds more of baking time.  I followed the standard recipe time for the medium scoop tray, which produced a 2.5″ diameter cookie that was still chewy and tasty, eaten in about two bites.  For the last cookie tray bearing the small scoop dough, I subtracted 1 minute of time as I could see they were getting brown faster.  Interestingly enough, many of these cookies measured 2.25″ diameter, almost the same width as the medium cookies, but were much flatter, crispier around the edges, and not as chewy.  They could be eaten in one or two bites.

Yummy, no matter what size...

In conclusion, the best cookies were both the larger and medium scoop cookies.  The smallest scoop probably would require modification to the recipe since they had spread so fast on the parchment, thus resulting in a different texture.  In the future, I might just make the largest cookies and cut them into quarters for bite-sized portions at potlucks or community events, or leave them intact for gifts.

In the end, the cookies were a success at the presentation, receiving many compliments including the always-surprised, “These are vegan??” and “You mean there’s no butter or eggs in these?”  All in all, a great way to open up people’s hearts and ears to a message of compassion, with a little help from their taste buds.