vegan sushi night (what what?!?)

When I told my Dad that we made sushi the other night, he became very puzzled. Most people associate raw fish with sushi, when indeed what really characterizes sushi is vinegar-flavored cold rice. In America, we tend to see this rolled up with sea creatures, and all sorts of other weird things (like cold french fries or products derived from cow  udders ). But we are here to define sushi afresh!

The Bear and The Blackberry does sushi! AKA we VEGAN-IZED sushi up, down, and all around, bending minds and wiping out prejudices everywhere!

We cooked some brown rice, added some mirin and brown rice vinegar to it, and let it chill for a couple of hours. We then moved on to marinating a couple of items. For the tempeh, we made a concoction of thinly sliced lemon, minced ginger, agave syrup, tamari, and toasted sesame oil. For the tofu, we made a marinade of orange peel, orange juice, minced garlic, tamari, agave syrup, and toasted sesame oil.

Sushi Party Time! Now for creating a bunch of fun rolls! We laid the cool and sticky brown rice down on the toasted nori sheets and came up with a few fun mixtures! Here are the combinations that we came up with for our sushi night feast:

  • Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Roll (asparagus and shiitake sauteed in olive oil with minced garlic)
  • Fresh Veggie Roll (cucumber, carrots, red bell pepper, fresh cilantro, and avocado)
  • Avocado and Cucumber Roll (a classic!)
  • Garlic-Orange Tofu Roll (the marinated tofu takes center stage)
  • Lemon Ginger Tempeh and Shiitake Mushroom Roll (the marinated tempeh and shiitakes team up for some super stardom!)

This was a first for The Bear and The Blackberry, so we jotted down some improvements we will be making for next time (like less rice in the rolls, perhaps switching the rice up with quinoa, and longer marinating times for the tofu and tempeh), but in conclusion, Vegan Sushi Night was pretty freaking radically tasty!

How about some fun nutritional facts about Nori? Nori is high in protein and vitamin A, and is also rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Using brown rice in place of white rice in sushi is an excellent way to add a high dosage of nutrients to your diet, like protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Now go have a sushi party of your own, and tell us all about it! : )

spice up your life sandwich

Today, I wanted a sandwich for lunch. But not just any sandwich, oh no. I wanted a kick in the pants, spicy-savory sandwich! I took a gander at what the fridge had to offer, brainstormed like a lightening bolt, got busy, and not too long after came up with this little beauty. BEHOLD! The Spice Up Your Life Sandwich! Also known as Curry Tempeh Sandwich with Spicy Hummus and Spinach.

Now for the story behind the photo:

I started off making some spicy hummus. I tossed some garbanzo beans, garlic cloves, toasted red hot chili peppers, lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil, and sea salt into the amazing food processor, and let it do it’s magic. After some minor adjustments (more salt, more lemon juice) the hummus was pretty freaking tasty.

Next was curry tempeh time! Curry tempeh time is fun because it’s quick and easy…and delicious! I sauteed some tempeh slices in curry powder, cracked black pepper, and grapeseed oil until they were nice and brown on both sides.

Now to assemble the sandwich. I toasted a couple slices of quality whole grain bread, slathered the spicy hummus on both sides, laid down the curry tempeh, and followed suit with sliced roma tomatoes, onions, and spinach leaves.

Great success! I got the kick in the pants I was looking for, but it wasn’t overpowering (thanks to the presence of the cool spinach and tomatoes).

Perhaps soon we will get in the habit of measuring when we cook, so that we can share recipes with you! : )

ginger soy tempeh sandwich with cucumber mint spread

I dreamed this up the other day: Tempeh marinated in a ginger, Braggs liquid aminos (similar to soy sauce), sesame oil, agave, grilled with sesame seeds, served on a sandwich with a homemade cucumber mint spread I whipped together in the blender. Add some more cucumber to the sammich (for crunch (don’t use grilled onions. dont do it. NO)), and some arugula.


grilled honey dijon tempeh sandwich

Jef came up with this delicious Honey Dijon marinade for tempeh. He whisked together some rice vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, sesame oil, garlic powder, and curry powder for the marinade. He then layered this in between some thinly sliced tempeh in a small tupperware container, where it marinated for a couple of hours while we were oot and aboot!

When we got back from our adventures, he threw this tempeh (along with some yummy flax bread) on our new flat cast iron grill for a few minutes, until it was nice and grilled. Then we spread some Veganaise on our freshly toasted bread, and topped our sandwiches with the grilled tempeh and some cucumber, red onion, roma tomato, arugula, and avocado.


sesame-ginger stir-fry

Sweet, tangy, salty.. its like KERPOW! to the taste buds. This tasty dish was fast, fun, and filling. Started with chard, tempeh, fresh minced ginger pressed, garlic and sesame oil. Let that fry for a bit on lower heat (sesame oil shouldn’t be heated very high), stirring occasionally. Add chopped almonds, red onion, sesame seeds; fry some more, stir some more.. stir-fry some more. Add tamari sauce (or soy sauce), agave syrup (or similar sweetener), serve with fresh cucumber. Voila!

curry tempeh with red onions

mmmMMMM I love me some curry tempeh!

To get started, cube tempeh into bite sized chunks. Git an ol’ skil’t yer partial to (i.e. get out your favorite skillet), heat it up and lay down some oil (olive works, I used grapeseed). Place tempeh in skillet and season with curry powder. garlic powder and maybe a dash of salt. Give it a minute. Cut up an onion. I used red onion, doesn’t really matter. I also like to cut onion into slivers. Again, doesn’t really matter. Flip the tempeh. When it has some color on both sides, add in the onion and give it a good stir. I like onions with a little crunch, so I make sure not to cook them too long, but everyone is different and you can caramelize them if you prefer. When it is done.. its done! And you can eat it!

Served in picture with Braised Garlic Kale.


Burrito? Not Mexican enough.. Wrap? No way, not cold enough..

Califorrito?? HELL YES.

Now introducing the Califorrito! A tasty, quick meal on the healthy side of the spectrum. This little baby has tempeh, rainbow chard, peas, onion, and garlic wrapped up in a sprouted whole wheat tortilla. Making this is a cinch! First, heat up your favorite skillet with some grapeseed oil, and then throw down the tempeh (cut into smallish cubes) and hear the sizzle! Oooh yeah! Next, add some chopped rainbow chard and cook for a few minutes, until it has significantly reduced in size. Then add in slivered onions and roughly chopped garlic, cooking for a few minutes to let them release their flavor magic into the dish. For the grand finale, add in some frozen peas, cooking for a minute or two. Then heat up the tortillas. I do this by putting the tortillas on top of the veggies in the skillet during their final minutes of cooking. Finally, to assemble the Califoritto, place a heaping mound of veggies in the middle of the tortilla, fold in the sides, and like a ninja, skillfully wrap and roll the bottom of the tortilla to the top. Congratulations! You did it! Give yourself a high five and enjoy!

We also highly recommend dipping this in tamari sauce. Mmmmmmm….

We recently switched to grapeseed oil for our high heat cookin’ because it has a very high smoke point (485°F), unlike our old favorite, olive oil. It’s important when cooking with hotter temperatures to have an oil with a high smoke point because burnt oil not only tastes bad, it is bad for you.

spaghetti a la BEST!

We were at the laundromat nearing closing time, and the guy that was running the show had his buddy bring him some food. My nose solved the mystery of what was awaiting him in the plastic thank-you bag… spaghetti! This answered the question that had been lingering on my mind…what will we make for dinner?

“Spaghetti sounds good…let’s make spaghetti when we get home!” I said to Jef as we were folding mountains of laundry. So spaghetti it was, and I do believe this was the best damn spaghetti I have ever consumed in my many spaghetti eating years!

It began with a huge can of diced tomatoes that we added to a big pot and brought to a boil. We lowered the heat to medium and added in some cubed tempeh, onion, garlic, dried thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne, sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil, and then covered. The next batch of ingredients to go into the pot  were cremini mushrooms and chopped kale. While that was cooking, the noodles were boiling and we made the faux-parm topping in our little spice grinder. Walnuts or almonds would have been ideal, but all we had on hand were sesame seeds, so we added that along with nutritional yeast and sea salt, grinding until it was a perfect consistency.

Once the noodles were perfect, we drained them and then added the noodles and the sauce (and all of it’s delicious contents) together, and covered, cooking for a couple of minutes. I do this because I like the noodles to soak up as much sauce as possible. We plated the pasta and then sprinkled on some of our sesame faux-parm topping. SO GOOD! Another menu-worthy item brought to you by the bear and the blackberry  ; )

This delicious combination of flavors also works well with quinoa. I made some tomato-y quinoa and separately sauteed kale, tempeh, cremini mushrooms, onion and garlic. A twist of lemon and the spaghetti is transformed! KERPOW!

curry quinoa with tempeh

I am a recent convert to the quinoa craze (pronounced keen-wah). This is my take on a southern-asian curry dish made with, you guessed it: quinoa!

This tasty superfood is rad; packed full of nutrients, including a full complement of essential amino acids, it is an excellent source of protein for vegans, and it is gluten-free. Though thought of as a grain and often used as such, it is actually the seed of a plant in the same family as chard, beet and spinach.

To start, I got my favorite cast-iron skillet (the gargantuan one), laid down some olive oil and turned up the heat. I added about a cup of quinoa (my stomach is a bottomless pit) and let that start to sizzle before adding yellow curry powder, fancy mustard (stoneground or dijon or a combination thereof), whole mustard seed, ginger, salt and garlic powder. Water: add some water. maybe twice the volume as the quinoa. Stir it up, little darlin, stir it up.. and bring to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer, and get out a chopping knife.

Veggie time, we had carrots and cucumber and onion available, so I went ahead and used those. For added texture, I also diced some tempeh (for those of you not familiar with tempeh, it is also rad. check it out). Vegetables have more nutrients if cooked less, so I waited until most of the water was absorbed into the quinoa before adding all the veggie goodness and letting it steam for a few minutes. Quinoa is done when translucent and the germ ring is detached or partially detached.

To top it off, I picked arugula. Feel free to pick your choice of leafy green, you can never have too much of the leafy greens..

california wrap-rrito

Being a Californian, I often subscribe to the rationale some have dubbed Californian Cuisine, i.e. a mishmash of cultures in one dish.

Here, we have an interesting specimen: Spanish-Quinoa Curry-Tempeh Habeñero-Hummus Wrap-rrito, with avocado and onion (mouthful? hell yeah! thats how i like to eat, mouthful by mouthful). How does an amalgamation of this magnitude come to be??  Read on..

Start with olive oil in the skillet, add quinoa, tomato paste, garlic and salt. Pour in water, about double the volume as the quinoa, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. In a separate skillet, I fried tempeh with olive oil, yellow curry powder, a dash of salt and a quarter red onion, sliced. When the quinoa was looking done (germ ring separated from the now translucent body and most of the water absorbed or boiled out), I heated up a tortilla on the stove with some of our excellent Homemade Habeñero Hummus.

Now, assemble and add avocado. Voilà! Wrap-rrito! Have fun being creative with your ingredients.