Happy Herbivore Blog

Kitchen Confidential: Tips on how to be an awesome home cook.

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Yes, I know, I'm blatantly hijacking the title of Anthony Bourdain's book, which is kind of funny, considering how he feels about vegans... but it's quite applicable for today's post! 

Late last week, a Herbie posted a stunning pic of the "Cheater Pad Thai" from the cookbook on HH's Facebook page, and in the comments underneath it, asked if I had any tips for how to make frozen veggies taste fresh and crisp, not soggy.

Before I could respond, however, another Herbie left her secret... and that's what I love about the HH fan page -- we've really created a caring community where anyone can feel welcome and safe. Conversations are always going on the wall, and questions for the group pop up frequently.

In fact, it was this particular question that got me thinking about all the tricks and tips I've learned over the years, so I asked Herbies on Twitter and Facebook to send in their secrets so we could all be the best home cooks we can be! 

(p.s. I actually didn't even know all of the tips that were sent in, which was humbling and a reminder that we never stop learning!)

(Bradley Cooper is my fantasy boyfriend. Or was, until one day I was thumbing through a friend's pictures of Facebook and realized she knew him. Then my celebrity crust was just embarrassing.)

"I let my frozen veggies thaw on the counter. I then add them to a sauce at the last minute to keep them crisp." - Toni

"For beef flavor in my TVP or seitan, I fall back on mushroom sauce and yeast extract like Vitam-R (or marmite, or vegemite)." - Kerstin 

"For flax-eggs, you need to whip the ground flax seeds with the water, not just add them to the recipe. It's 'ready' when you pull your fork up and its stringy like an egg" - Kim

"Store cilantro upright in a glass of water and place a plastic bag over top and then put it in the fridge. It'll last for two weeks this way" - Sarah

"Cut new carrots so they'll fit in a tupperware and store in cold water - they stay fresh and crisp without drying out!" Megan

"For Moms: When you try something new out, load their plate with foods they also love so your child doesn't get overwhelmed thinking "there is nothing for me to eat!" - Jennifer

"Don't store bananas in a bunch or near other fruits. Separate them and store in different locations. Bananas release gases that cause other fruits (including other  bananas) to ripen quickly." - Wendy

"Pizza stones are perfect for pressing tofu." Jen H.

"Well-seasoned cast iron cookware functions like Teflon (non-stick) but without the nasty chemicals. I love my dutch oven." - Jodi

"Do bulk-prep on the weekend. If your veggies are already chopped, you'll be more likely to use them during the week. Some people say veggies loose their nutrients if you prep ahead, but if I don't, I may not get ANY of the nutrients." - Mairead

"When you burn yourself in the kitchen, spread mustard on the affected area and leave it for a while. The mustard will ease the pain and prevent blistering." - Wendy

Also, don't forget my Top 10 Tips in the cookbook -- which you can see now using Amazon's "look inside" feature. 

p.s. Check out this cool (and very detailed!) video review of my cookbook by Eco-Vegan Gal

P.S. -- NYC Herbies! Don't forget, tomorrow Pizza & Book Signing!

"Chicken" Alfredo? A tale of when bloopers go right

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

I'm usually the resident cook in our house. It's not that Scott doesn't want to cook, and for the first year we lived together, he actually did way more cooking than me, but I'm always wanting to try out new ideas (which is both a blessing and a curse). So I guess, there just really isn't an opportunity for him to get in on the action!

However, since I'm about to abandon him for three weeks to go on a mini-mini book tour and take part in other shenanigans back home in NYC, I've been having him chip in a little more than lately.

Call my crazy, I just want to make sure he can feed himself (and our pugs--they get home cooked meals) in my absence. Ridiculous, I know. He was obviously capable of feeding himself before we met...I think.

Anyway, last night Scott said he was "in the mood for HH's creamy Alfredo" so I handed him the cookbook (p. 163) and told him to have fun =)

[picture from the cookbook]

He made it with brown rice noodles, which were the biggest, fattest "fettuccine" noodles I've ever seen, but they actually worked really well here. However... he had a blooper. 

You see, earlier this week I'd made a fresh batch of my no-chicken brown powder (p. 281) to take with me to NYC and I'd mistakenly left it out on the counter. Scott thought it was our stash of (plain) nutritional yeast and used in instead of nutritional yeast in the recipe. 

[middle one, pictured with other homemade spices from the cookbook]

As we sat down, I noticed little green flecks in the pasta, and that my "Alfredo" was a nice gold color rather than white... so I inquired, "Did you, ugh, do anything *special* to the recipe?"

Scott, head bent down, pasta being shoveled into the mouth rapidly. "No, I followed the directions."

I leaned down to smell it (I'm sure I'd offended Scott by this point, but I was convinced he did something!) 

"It smells chicken-y. Are you sure you didn't put something in it?" 

Just then my gaze shifted towards the kitchen counter and noticed a big dent in my no-chicken broth powder... with a measuring cup sitting next to it.

"Did you use the nutritional yeast on the counter or in the bag?"

"Counter. mmm mmm mmm"

Aha! There was something different about it (I wanted to high five myself for my sleuth skills) but then, with this realization, I got hesitant to actually try my dinner. 

I mean, do I really want a chicken flavor in my Alfredo?

I tried it anyway and surprise! It was delicious! It didn't really taste like an "Alfredo" anymore, but the flavors were really complex and different. It was like a like a gooey, and rich cheese-cream sauce. 

Don't you just love it when mistakes go right?

Who me?!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

I've noticed my "about me" video has been getting more hits lately. Combine that with a few Amazon reviews where some very sweet reviewers said they enjoyed the blurbs in the cookbook that let them get to know me a little and I realize...

You're curious about me!

and why wouldn't you be? After all you're inviting me into your kitchen and trusting me with your taste buds (Thanks!)

So, I thought I'd do a quick post today so I'm less of a ghost. [BTW, I've always been really hesitant to blog about myself. On the one hand, it feels a little funny and the other, it never occurred to me you might wonder about me]

So without further ado: 

My mother calls me a vagabond. and I don't think that's entirely untrue. In the last 10 years I've lived in 15 apartments, 6 states and 2 counties. My head hurts.

When I was in High School in Florida I was not a popular cheerleader or the misunderstood outcast. I didn't fit into any one social circle but I had friends in all of them. and moved through them as I saw fit. I danced to the beat of my own drummer and I still do. p.s. I met my best friend Jim in high school. and yes, my best friend is a guy. (and single! hey hey ladies!)

Funny: one guy I dated in High School ended up on a Reality TV show (he's a Dr now, so let's not judge him too harshly) and my most serious High School boyfriend is gay, but we're the best of friends now, and I am crazy about his partner. I have dreams of living together in a big brownstone in NYC. I know this makes me crazy.

I'm also friends with my 8th grade boyfriend and it weirds me out how similar we turned out as adults. When I talk to him I realize, it's so nice to know someone who knew you when you were young, no matter how embarrassing that age was.

Moving along, at the tail end of college in South Carolina, I met Scott and somehow, within a few dates, knew I was going to marry him. Thankfully, when I got into law school in Boston, he agreed to come with me!

It was during the first year of our marriage, and the end of law school, that I went vegan. After law school we moved to LA and then my "hometown" of NYC and now we're on an island. Man, this sounds worse than a soap opera! 

On the upside, all this shifting means we (including the pugs) have seen the vast majority of the United States (41 states for me) and a whole lot of countries thanks to an extended backpacking trip as a honeymoon. 

In my old life I was a lawyer. I was pretty good at it. I was sexually harassed. and then fired. I never went back to the law again. Let's leave it at that.

In a lot of ways this blog, and my cookbook, saved me from the darkest hour of my life. I came home to heal, and I did. I also have you to thank. 

Other interesting tidbits: I am a nail biter. Can't help it. Add to that a whore for Red Vines. and a slight hypochondriac when it comes to the pugs. I'm also really sensitive, as in, I cry easily. Tell me my shoes are ugly and I'll be a blubbering mess. Let's see... I was almost an Army JAG and Special Agent for the FBI (this was before I accepted I was not a joiner. or a follower). I am allergic to broccoli, which I think is tragically funny, and I spent several years thinking I was allergic to latex when I'm actually sensitive to the adhesive glue.

I can't always tell the color purple from the color blue. I'm not "colorblind" but have a "blue-green deficiency" which continues to be the most amusing thing to Scott when I can't coordinate properly. After 7 years, I thought it might not be as funny, apparently it still is. 

and when I'm really stressed out, my only way to relax is to color. I totally suck at it. 

I hope I'm less a ghost now. Thank you for all your continued support!

I'd also like to close this post with a great statement by a sassy business woman I look up to:

"People love me or they hate me. Take me or leave me. I can't be someone else. I can only be me." - Rachel Ray