Dear Isa, I lurve you.

Okay, I would simply describe the recipe for the Skillet Stir Fry from Isa Does It. But, I feel that I have called out so many of her recipes, that this calls for something more... a love letter. Dear Isa, Where do I even start? Your recipes have convinced throngs of my friends and family that I'm an amazing wonder chef. You have taught me how to take a pile of mush with gluten flour and steam it to make f-ing sausages. Your Brooklyn Pad Thai is to die for. Because of Vegan Brunch, I am a master crepe chef. To say nothing of cupcakes that no one at any party believed were vegan. You gave us Appetite for Reduction- a calorie conscious book with the most amazing title ever. But then my life led me away from hour + long cooking endeavors and into 12+ hour days at work. Experimenting with recipes, weekend trips to the farmer's markets and veganism in general all fell by the wayside. I had nearly given up on cooking, my beliefs and this sad, old, neglected food blog. Until...Isa Does It came out- a massive tome dedicated to meals that could be prepared in about 30 minutes. I had become a firm believer in "good things take time" from my RFD book, but every thing I have tried from this book- the Summer Seitan Saute, Potato Leek Soup, Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry, etc- all are SO tasty and so flipping easy. I have had to revise my earlier stance on good food needing a long time to cook. And this- the wonders of the cast iron skillet and perfectly browned tofu. I mean, without you, Miss Isa, I could be out on the streets eating french fries from a fast food chain and pairing it with frozen pizza. You have elevated my cooking life. And for that, I am forever grateful and fatter. Yours truly, Nancy

Spinach Chickpea Curry

This dish is the end of my awful streak of trying new Indian recipes and being disappointed, this one is really very good! It's the Spinach and Chickpea Curry from p170-171 of Vegan With a Vengeance. I still think that the French book and Beckham are best, but this is really delicious. It was relatively quick and easy except for the part when you have to wilt 10 cups of spinach handful by handful. It ended up being very flavorful and the spinach had a creamy texture (keep in mind that I haven't eaten dairy in a year and a half- it's creamy to a vegan!). We both liked it a lot and will add it to our recipe roster.

Falafel Sammie

This is a sammie made using the falafel recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance p98-99. This is when I learned that a blender is really no substitute for a food processor. So, take my adventures with a grain of salt. If you have a food processor, this is probably totally different (by different, I mean better).

I tried to blend the chickpeas and ingredients- all of which are pretty dry. So, I got a paste on the bottom of the blender and untouched stuff on top. After trying to stir, blend, stir to get the right consistency, I gave up and threw it all in the kitchenaid stand mixer which probably got it close to the right consistency.

Other than that, it went well. A bit greasy because it's falafel and it's fried, but they held together well and were really very flavorful. To make the sammy, I used Trader Joe's Mediterranean Hummus, pita bread, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and really thinly sliced red onion. It was really good, but I shall never again attempt it without a food processor.

Basil Tofu Ricotta

This is the Basil Tofu Ricotta from p 133 of Vegan with a Vengeance. This picture pretty much looks like hell and does it no justice. Please don't take that out on the recipe, which is really very delicious. It calls for just the right amount of nutritional yeast which can make me sick when there's too much in a recipe. It tastes full and rich and flavorful, but has a fraction of the fat and calories of ricotta. I used it in a lasagna which was good for days (we made a separate real ricotta cheese one for days so I had an 8x8 tofu one all to meself). Davey tasted mine and said it was better than the cheese one. Also, I finished mine and his is still aging in the fridge, so I guess he was right.

Brooklyn Pad Thai

Aaaawwww man! This is the messiest, splatteriest, biggest production of a dish that will ruin both your kitchen and the shirt that you're wearing while cooking it, but damn, it's worth it. This is the "Brooklyn Pad Thai" from Vegan with a Vengeance, p. 180, and it is AMAZING! The sauce is so flavorful, it has a real kick to it, but isn't too hot to eat and doesn't seem to get hotter the next day like a lot of spicy foods. Slicing the tofu into triangles as she recommends seems to make it taste better (?). It is just such a great amalgam of flavors, the spice, some sweet, the savory tofu, a peanut here and there... it's amazing and a greatest hit and you MUST try it.

I have a few specifics that I do with it, mostly out of availability of ingredients and taste preference.

- I use srichacha for the "asian hot chile or hot sauce" ingredient
- the vinegar that I had was rice vinegar (as opposed to rice wine vinegar- unless they're the same (?)
- I use fresh lime juice in lieu of tamarind concentrate
- I use 1 fresh red chili pepper (since I misread the ingredients list the first time)
- I use 3/4 c peanuts because I love them so (versus 1/2)
- I skip the cilantro and lime garnish
- I use this tofu from T.J's that isn't waterpacked, it's really dry and firm and comes shrink wrapped with a green and red label. I like it in a lot of stir frys and things b/c it needs less cooking time to be cooked thoroughly.

Pretty please try this one- you will be soooooo happy that you did. It makes a ton too, so it's good for a large dinner party (provided you schedule in clean up time before seeing others) or a good dinner and leftover dish.

Veggie Burgers

This is the Veggie Burger from page 101 of Vegan With a Vengeance. It is beyond. I've tried a few veg burgers from scratch, and coagulation is the biggest issue that I've had with them. They tend to fall apart when you cook them and more so when you try to eat them. This one is a hint loose, but sticks into a patty far better than any other recipe that I've tried.

It has AMAZING flavor, and makes at least 6 burgers. I shredded the carrot, then chopped it a bit, and used white buns from Trader Joe's that were a perfect compliment (kind of a big, rustic bun). Toasted, natch.