Sunday, January 03, 2010

Favorite Things

In keeping with my habit of listing favorite things, here's what I love this year:

photo by Art Heffron

Vintage ovens. Whether you crave the sleek simplicity of vintage design or just want an inexpensive, well-made appliance, a vintage oven might be the perfect choice for your kitchen. They are superior in quality, relatively simple to maintain (and fix), and just plain gorgeous. I found my 1950's O'Keefe and Merritt on craigslist for a very reasonable price and partially restored it myself. Examining gas lines and cleaning gunk with the hood propped is like working on an old car (the thing weighs nearly as much!), and I feel knowledgeable and hardcore and connected to something timeless every time I so much as boil water.

Raw cacao nibs. It's always some kind of chocolate, isn't it? Raw chocolate can be found as whole beans, powder, handcrafted chocolates, and nibs, and I really appreciate the latter. When I want something to sprinkle on my Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard or tuck into raw granola, this is what I reach for. A little goes a long way, and at $10 per pound--which will last for months--these are an economical way to try raw chocolate.

Making your own salad dressings. Becoming a kitchen alchemist and adorning salads with your potions is fresher, less expensive, and usually tastier than buying the bottled stuff. Here's an easy and delicious one:

Agave Mustard Poppyseed Dressing
Serve this simple fat-free dressing over a giant salad of baby romaine, shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, avocado, red onion, sunflower seeds, raisins, and sprouts.

3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Whisk everything together in a small bowl. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Publishing a cookbook. I just had to include this one; writing a cookbook is a sure favorite. It was a complete delight to create, and Cook, Eat, Thrive: Vegan Recipes from Everyday to Exotic will be available very soon. Having the support and encouragement of fantastic readers is a close second.

Vegan road trips. Oh, they used to be so difficult. We were limited to subway sandwiches and truck stop coffee, and it was awful. But not anymore. I just returned from a 3,000 mile road trip on which I visited almost 20 vegan-friendly restaurants. And thanks to a well-stocked cooler, I enjoyed snacks like chevre encrusted in black pepper, raw cacao brownies, and an endless supply of fresh fruit. More on this soon--it was amazing.

Chia seeds. Also called salba, these tiny gems are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and amino acids, and swell when mixed with water, like tapioca. I keep them soaked in a jar in the refrigerator (mix about 1/3 cup seeds with 2 cups water and stir well), to quickly use in drinks. My favorite? A simple drink sparkling with orange and vanilla:

Chia Creamsicle Fizz

1 drink

2-3 tablespoons soaked chia seeds
1 packet stevia, or 2 teaspoons agave nectar
juice of 1 orange--I ream it directly into the glass
seeds scraped from 1" of vanilla bean, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
about 1 cup (sometimes more, sometimes less) sparkling water

In a tall glass, combine all ingredients except sparkling water, and stir well. Pour in water slowly to prevent it from flowing over, and give it another stir. Serve immediately.

These are a few of my favorite things. How about yours?


Anonymous said...

Speaking of vegan-friendly restaurants, we found a really cool cafe in Santa Barbara. It's called The Natural Cafe. I think you'd love it.

Mihl said...

One of my favourite things this year will be your recipes again. Can't wait for the book and happy new year!

Love Made Visible said...

I love your blog and visit it as often as possible - so it's definitely on my list of favorite things! I just started a tiny blog myself to document my progress as I attempt to open a small vegan baking company in my tiny town. I included a link to your site and hope a few people will happily make their way to it! I'm especially digging your raw food recipes as of late - since this is quickly becoming my newest obsession...
Can't wait for the cookbook to be released..
Wishing you warm thoughts and happy hopes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Joy said...

Lana, thanks for the recommendation. We'll definitely stop there on the Spring 2010 North-bound trek!

Thanks Mihl! I can't wait to see what your food adventures hold this year, too.

Love Made Visible, thanks for your sweet comment--and how wonderful to read about what you're doing. I wish you outrageous success in your new endeavor and look forward to seeing how it expands!

Rebecca Lemke said...

I've just happily stumbled upon your blog and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I also make all salad dressings from there anything better than that? Best wishes with your cookbook and abundance in 2010.

Joy said...

Rebecca, thank you for the kind words. So glad you're reading!

Vegan Valerie said...

I love the picture of you in front of your oven! You look beautiful... and so does the oven! :) I never thought I'd say that about a cooking appliance, but you've changed me today! Thank you!

Your blog is precious! You must be too! :)

Joy said...

Thanks Valerie--you're so sweet!

Cassandra said...

This agave mustard dressing is now one of my favorite things! It's in frequent rotation at my house -- so great that it only takes a few ingredients (and no blender). I've been using a combination of Dijon and the mustard that my aunt and her partner make in New Orleans (called Scratchmo's). Fantastic!

lou said...

Love the dressing! Thank you so much!