Archive for October, 2008

homemade tofu and boring food

October 5, 2008

I’m a bit behind, so I might be forgetting something.

Friday: tofu scramble, chili with red beans, frozen and crumbled tofu, the rest of my jalapeno, the rest of the last zucchini, 1/8 of the new bell pepper.  I also made my own tofu using vinegar as a coagulant since my nigari has not arrived yet.  It was good, but more sour than I would like, unsurprsingly.  I ate it fried with brown rice.

Saturday: toast with earth balance, plain lentils (with nutritional yeast), mashed potatoes, okara polenta, and some fresh soy milk with hazelnut syrup and a bit of vodka.  The okara polenta was disgusting, and mostly got thrown out.  I will have to try making okara tempeh in the future.

Yesterday, I made fresh soy milk, and I will make more today (a double batch) which will hopefully last until wednesday night.

I still have a lot of beans, enough to last me another week, except soybeans.

I went shopping today, and spent more than I’d hoped ($24), but mostly because I bought some expensive kitchen towels ($4.99 for two!) to try for straining soy milk and making tofu (my cheesecloth already has a hole, and besides, having to use 8 layers is ridiculous).  I got soybeans, millet, two jars of tomato sauce, and produce (winter squash, zucchini, red potatoes, a sweet potato, brussels sprouts).  I got tomato sauce instead of canned tomatoes because I need the jars to store soy milk in (and besides, I want to support Kroger labeling its store brand stuff as vegan!  Yay Kroger.).  I got millet because it was 99 cents a pound for organic, which is cheaper than any other organic grain options (rice is 1.79).  Unfortunately, since last week soybean prices went up a lot, to 1.79/lb instead of 99 cents/lb.  This means that I will probably order soybeans on the internet next month (or maybe even later this month) instead of buying at the co-op.

Also, I will retro-actively post some pictures from this week in the appropriate posts when I get around to it.  Unfortunately, cheap food is rarely pretty.

So far, this budget seems very realistic, and not even too restrictive.  This past week was a bit restrictive on produce, but that’s because I was expecting it to be harder than it was.  And I did definitely eat produce this past week, so it wasn’t even that restrictive.


okara patties and red beans

October 3, 2008

Breakfast: tofu scramble with  1/2 lb tofu, 1/8 zucchini, 1/2 small onion, 1/8 red pepper, small potato, thyme, black pepper, jalapeno, nutritional yeast

Lunch:  2 okara patties with ketchup, soy latte

Dinner: 3 okara patties

Snack: freshly cooked red beans (for tomorrow, but they looked so tasty)

My okara patties were super-delicious.  I didn’t measure anything, but just threw a bunch of delicious stuff together, and it turned out.  I’ll figure out a recipe next time.

Soy milk!

October 2, 2008

I mentioned I was going to make soy milk. I did, this morning. I am very impressed with the results. It does taste soybean-y (I didn’t do very much to mitigate that–I wanted to try a simple recipe first), but honestly I don’t mind the taste of soybeans, and it’s also really rich and creamy.

My method is a combination of many different recipes online, so I will share what I did here. My recipe would have made about half a gallon (see first tip for why it actually didn’t…). Note that a cup of soy beans is about .4 lbs, which means using my 99 cent per pound organic soybeans, half a gallon of soy milk costs about 40 cents to make (instead of, you know, 4 dollars to buy).


wire mesh strainer
cheese cloth
large pot
large mixing bowl
food processor (blender would also work)


1 cup dry soybeans
7 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

What I did:

1. Soak soybeans in a ton of water for about 12 hours.
2. While soybeans are still covered in water (but not so much it splashes all over the place), rub soybeans between my hands to remove skins, and periodically remove skins that rise to the top. (There are recipes on the internet that say the skins float to the top of the water, but mine did not. They did rise to the top of the soy beans, though, so they were pretty easy to remove.) This step is supposed to get rid of some of the soybean-y flavor. I mostly did it because I was curious how well it worked, since I had read mixed reviews. It only took me about 3 minutes to get rid of all my skins.
3. Puree soy beans in 2 cups of the water, until smooth. (Do not over-fill food processor. A lot of air gets added during this step. Mine pretty much doubled in volume.)
4. Pour soy bean mixture into mixing bowl, and add remaining (5 cups) water. Stir.
5. Place strainer in pot, and 8 layers of cheesecloth over strainer. Pour a couple of cups of the soy bean mixture into the cheesecloth/strainer (enough to fill the strainer, but so that you can easily gather the cheesecloth to squeeze), then grab the four corners of the cheesecloth and twist to remove as much liquid as possible. My cheesecloth is not as fine as I’d like, so I got some fun squirting happening here, so I found that keeping my hand around the ball of soymilk mixture was prudent, in order to avoid cleaning soybean pulp off my walls. Once you are done squeezing out liquid, set aside the okara (soy bean pulp left in the cheesecloth), and repeat until you’re out of soybean mixture.
6. Rinse the mixing bowl, and repeat step 5, this time transferring from the pot to the mixing bowl.
7. Rinse the pot, pour the raw soy milk into the pot from the mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients (salt, sugar, and vanilla), and slowly bring the soy milk to a boil (I kept it at medium-high heat and stirred constantly). Boil for ~20 minutes.

–Do not mistake baking soda for corn starch, and think you’re going to thicken the soy milk a bit with it. (I saved most of my soy milk by pouring off and saving the top milk, and discarding the stuff on the bottom where the baking soda had sunk to.)
–Okara, the soybean pulp, is supposed to be good for lots of things, including baking (you have to cook/dry it first for most things), veggie burgers, etc. It has a ton of fiber and a good bit of protein. I am trying an okara-rice burger, we’ll see how that goes.
–If you have better cheesecloth than I have, you probably only need to strain the mixture once.

When I finally actually get to work, I am going to bring a soy latte made with my fresh soy milk. Mmm, delicious.

VeganMoFo and Cheap Food

October 1, 2008

So, there’s this thing called Vegan Month of Food (VeganMoFo) that’s happening this month, where, you know, lots of people blog about vegan food.  I kept thinking, man, I’m too poor for that, I’ll just end up spending a ton on food.  You know, I spent a ridiculous amount of money on vet bills a month or so ago, and our monthly income since then has been roughly halved (before then too, but it was less of an issue).

Then I realized… vegan food can be really cheap, and healthy, AT THE SAME TIME!!!  I could blog a ton about eating on my budget!  Been done before?  I’m sure it has (and not just the crazy guy who ate for a month on $30 either).  But I’m doing it again dammit.  And you can’t stop me.

So my plan is this… my budget for the month of October for food is $103, including any food, and any food preparation tools I might need to buy (which will not be much–I’m pretty stocked there).  That’s not super-low, I don’t think, so I will keep my usual goal of eating almost entirely organic, as well.  The other part of my plan…. is that I will keep a journal (here) of everything I eat.  Starting today.

But first!  In case you’re interested, here‘s a list of other participants in VeganMoFo, and here’s the cute logo.

Now, on to the first day of cheap food.

Breakfast: Pre-October purchased Amy’s burrito.

Lunch: toffuti cream cheese sandwich (all pre-October purchased; also not very healthy, but I was STARVING)

Dinner: Lentil soup with red pepper, onion, jalapeno, nutritional yeast (pre-october purchased ingredients, except nutritional yeast), with brown rice

Shopping: I spent $27 on food and cheese cloth (for making my own soy milk, since I certainly can’t afford to buy pre-packaged on this budget).  Food included pounds and pounds of several types of beans (including soy, for milk), brown rice, a zucchini, a green bell pepper, two little hot peppers, nutritional yeast, and tofu.  All organic, except not the nutritional yeast (I think?  I don’t know).  I plan to make my own tofu, but the genius that is Susan at fatfreevegan made me realize that I don’t need a fancy tofu making thingy, and I could just recycle a plastic tub of some sort.  I didn’t have any on-hand, so… buying tofu, it is.