Veg*n Cooking and Other Random Musings: No Car and Vegan Gravy (the titles are really clever, eh?)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

No Car and Vegan Gravy (the titles are really clever, eh?)

It’s a blustery one here in Mid-Missouri. It was quite chilly waiting for the bus before work this morning it was hard to leave my warm apartment, Brett and kitties (who were being awfully spastic this morning by the way), but thanks to my trusty super warm coat, scarf and gloves, I held up just fine. And the bus was nice and toasty for my early morning reading pleasure. This brings me to my one of my favorite things about public transportation – I get to enjoy myself on my way to and from work while somebody else deals with the frustrations of driving. Driving was never something I enjoyed doing very much, so the bus or my own two feet (Brett and I really need to get bikes) are just fine with me.

Brett and I have now been living the “No Car Lifestyle” for a little over two years now, and we love it. We had an old crappy car, constantly threatening to break down, so when it looked like it was on its last leg, rather than going out and getting another car, we decided to try out using Columbia’s public transportation system and “people powered transportation” (walking) and see how it worked out. Well, obviously, two years later here I am, living proof that it can be done. Not only is it much better for the planet (one of the big motivating factors for our keeping this lifestyle up), it is better for us physically. We both walk all the time, I have lost weight (I think that this is a result of both the No Car Lifestyle and switching to a vegetarian diet), I have more energy, and I’m just all around happier.

I am a huge fan of public transportation (obviously, and I'm therefore biased) and think that all who can, should when possible or walk/bike at least every once in awhile. But it isn’t feasible in many areas of the country (unless you live in a really big city, you might find public transportation much more convenient and a lot less of a hassle). I am lucky to live in Columbia, Missouri, a progressive college town (home of the University of Missouri, aka Mizzou – also my employer), and as a result we have a bus line. Now it is marginal if you compare it with, say, the Metro in DC, but for a small town like Columbia, it works just fine, and we are truly lucky to have it. Our Mayor is wonderful, he promotes non-motorized transportation, and as a result we have lots of parks, sidewalks, bike trails, pedways, etc.

I also happen to live in a prime location. My apartment itself isn’t the greatest (I just recently graduated from college and am still in poor college student mode), but it is conveniently located. Just a 15 minute walk takes me to the grocery store, which has an excellent organic produce, health/alternative foods, and bulk section. 15 minutes in the other direction takes me to another grocery store (which we aren’t huge fans of) and (more importantly) it also takes me to the site where three times a week during the growing season, the Farmer’s Market sets up shop. I miss the Farmer’s Market dearly during the winter months.

Onto a food wrap-up. I was really lazy again last night and Brett and I ended up ordering in vegetable fried rice from a local Taiwanese place, I brought the leftovers as well as a bunch of clementines and an organic Braeburn apple with me to work for lunch and snacks today (if anyone reads this blog, they will learn I am a fruitaholic). I swear the Kung Pao Tofu is good, and we aren’t avoiding it, we will be having it tonight. In my own defense, the day off work was my excuse for laziness; don’t get many so I decided to enjoy it. There probably won’t be a post tomorrow wrapping up tonight’s food since I will be making up the belated Kung Pao.

I made some biscuits with vegan gravy for brunch yesterday, it was good and the recipe is so simple, which I really like. I usually make vegetarian gravy for Brett, using dairy milk, but he was out and decided to just have some of mine. I’m not sure if the biscuits I had were vegan or not, I know they didn’t have dairy in them as I avoid it since it makes me stuffy, and there was no obvious egg or other animal ingredients that popped out at me when I was reading the label, but animal products can show up in odd places and go by weird names.

A note about the gravy: you can use either plain soy or rice milk. I generally use rice milk as I like it better, but I do use soy milk from time to time, and had it on hand leftover from the soy buttermilk I made when making banana bread the other day, so used it, since it needed to be used up. Also, this is one of those “to taste” recipes, so I don’t have specific measurements; it depends on how salty, peppery, thick, etc. you like it.

Also, if anyone has a good recipe for homemade vegan biscuits, please send it my way. I hate using the ones you buy in a tube from the store, they generally have questionable ingredients (I hate all these weird fake ingredients that you can’t pronounce and don’t want to know what it really is, I have a consumer’s dictionary of food additives, but try, as a general rule, to stay away from foods with ingredients that I have to look up in the dictionary).

Vegan Gravy

plain rice or soy milk
cornstarch mixed with water
sometimes I toss in a bit of nutritional yeast in for good measure

Heat milk in pan on stove and add all remaining ingredients except cornstarch and water mixture.

Once milk is heated and spiced as desired, turn up heat and add corn starch once the milk begins to boil. Stir in cornstarch and let boil for a minute, stirring frequently. Add more cornstarch if needed.

Serve over warm biscuits.

Thats about it for today.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jennifer....welcome to blogville! Seems like we have some things in comment - both with food and living car-free! I ride my bike everywhere I go...or if its too snowy, I walk.

I hope you enjoy keeping this new blog. I really enjoy mine!


Anonymous said...

PS - a good replacement for honey is agave nectar. (it comes from cactus...has a slightly thinner consistency, but works well!)

urban vegan said...

I love your title!

We only have 1 car --I walk everyhwere in the city and love it.

I second Maegan's vote for agave nectar.

VeggieGirl said...

yep, agave nectar is the best replacement for honey - I recommend the Madhava brand of raw agave nectar.

it's fabulous getting around on foot as opposed to by car - you see far more, and can really take in the surroundings!!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the welcome everyone, as well as the advice about the agave nectar, I will have to try that the next time I make a recipe calling for honey.

It's also nice to know that we aren't the only veg*n's living without a car out there. In mainstream society, you are considered weird enough for being veg*n, then you throw the environmentalism and not owning a car in, and well, there aren't too many of us out there......

Hope you all enjoy my blog, and I plan on continuing to enjoy yours'.

Veggie said...

There's an excellent recipe for vegan biscuits in Vegan with a Vengeance.

I sometimes make gravy with un-chicken broth and cornstarch or flour, because it tastes so similar to the real thing.