Archive for Musings

2016: Top Posts

For probably about the last two weeks or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about 2016. The general consensus out there is that 2016 sucked. Hard. And if you look at the state of the world (the giant Cheeto who is about to take over the leadership of our neighbor to the north, all those celebrity deaths), you kinda gotta agree.

On a “world” level, I’m still pretty gutted by the loss of Leonard Cohen, one of my favorite singer/songwriters. And Carrie Fisher! She was one of my first feminist role models.

But on a personal level, you’d be hard pressed to find a better year than 2016. Financially, I probably had my best year of business yet. Plus, there was this little thing called a cookbook deal.

top posts 2016 cookingbylaptop

You guys! I wrote a cookbook!

Okay, let’s have a look at the year that was here on the blog. In 2016, Cooking by Laptop got:

  • nearly 50,000 page views (up 34% from 2015)
  • nearly 30,000 visitors (up 33% from 2015)
  • and I wrote 75 blog posts

This year I also traveled lots, and ate some fabulous meals in places like Summerland, Chicago, Portland, and all the way down to California when Michael and I took that epic road trip. Oh–and donuts. I ate lots and lots of donuts, so all is right with the world.

As for the blog, there is a very clear trend in this year’s top posts: Aquafaba!

Back to School Breakfast Cookies: I liked this recipe so much, it made it into the cookbook! These are tasty, healthy, vegan. I make big batches and freeze them for those crazy mornings.

Vegan Challah: as Chanukah approached, I was curious to see if I could do a vegan challah made with aquafaba. So, to sum up; there’s basically nothing magical bean water can’t do!

Vegan Bourbon Sour: basically my all-time favorite cocktail is a Bourbon Sour, but you need to make them with egg whites. I wondered if aquafaba could stand in for the egg whites, and, turns out, it really, really can.

Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream: I started using aquafaba in ice cream last year, and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. You can make a completely dairy-free ice cream that is fluffy and creamy, meaning, I challenge you to even know that there’s no dairy. One of my favorite times of the year is when the rhubarb lands in the Farmer’s Markets; it’s like the official beginning of summer. I made a vegan ice cream with aquafaba, and that classic sweet-tart strawberry-rhubarb combo.

Vegan S’mores: I was so excited to work with aquafaba, and to really see what it can do. This was early in the process, but it makes a really decent s’more. If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, this isn’t a big deal to you, but if you are, it’s kinda huge. Yeah, you can buy vegan marshmallows, but they cost–I kid you not–$8 a bag, whereas aquafaba? Cheap AF.

Portobello Wellington: an elegant recipe that you could serve for a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner, this bad boy is all vegan and super meaty (without the meat, natch).

So, out of those top 6 posts, 100% of them are vegan recipes, and 5 out of the 6 feature Aquafaba. I feel I may be on to something here.

And 2017–what can I say about a year where I know I’m going to have a book published? With my name on the cover??

Bring it!

Happy New Year, gentle reader. I wish you and yours all the happiness and good food the year can bring.

6 Tips to Help You Embrace Meatless Monday

In my house, we have a big challenge that we are faced with every day, and I’ll bet you struggle with something similar in yours.

There are two of us living here; and we have different diets. My son is a bacon-loving omnivore, and I am a vegetarian (though I do still sometimes eat sustainably harvested fish). How many of you have a similar dilemma? Maybe someone has allergies, or is gluten-free, or perhaps you, too are a carnivore living with a vegetarian.#MeatlessMonday

It’s a tough one. Because I’m the one that buys the groceries and cooks the dinners, we basically don’t have meat in the house. Michael gets his fill of burgers when we go out. But the challenge is coming up with dinners that are satisfying enough to someone who likes to eat meat, while still being vegetarian.

There are lots of reasons why people choose to be vegetarian, but for me, the most compelling one is the environment. Raising livestock puts a much heavier stress on the environment than growing vegetables or grains does. Additionally, livestock contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. 

I’m not suggesting everyone go vegetarian, those are just my reasons for doing so. BUT if everyone gave up meat just one day week, it would save “99.6 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. This would be the equivalent of removing 46 million round trip flights between Los Angeles and New York, or taking 19.2 million cars off the road for a full year,” says the Huffington Post.

The Meatless Monday movement was born out of this concept. You basically choose to not eat meat on Mondays. Great! Then what do you eat??

Here are some tips to help you embrace Meatless Monday.

  1. Find a good grocery store. This is key. I find that if I have to run all over town and go to 7 grocery stores to find what I like, that seriously puts a damper on things! I’ve been shopping at Save-On a lot lately, and have been really impressed by their variety of vegetarian-friendly products. They have tofu, as well as meat subs like veggie burgers, Tofurkey, Yves and Field Roast products. They also have the best selection I’ve found of Gardein products, which are our favorites. Michael happily eats them. We especially like the Porkless Bites, the Mandarin Orange “Chicken” and the Crabcakes. Bonus: you can order online and they will deliver to your house, or they’ll do the shopping for you and you can just pick up your groceries on the way home from work. So convenient!

    We eat this about once a week. So tasty!

  2. Eat a (Veggie) burger, man! My son, the carnivore, loves veggie burgers. Try a bunch of different ones until you find one you really like, or experiment with recipes online. We have them in our freezer at all times.
  3. Pasta! Pasta makes a hearty and filling meal, and is pretty darn healthy to boot. We have a vegetarian pasta with Caesar Salad at least once a week. I throw a bunch of vegetables in there, some pesto, maybe a tomato sauce? You could add in some veggie meatballs if you like. Try some of the newer gluten-free pastas for a bonus shot of protein: many of them are made with quinoa or beans.
  4. Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit: speaking of beans, those things are the bomb! They are cheap, tasty and filling, you can prepare them a million ways, and they are packed with protein.

    These tacos are made with lentils!

  5. Eat ethnic: many culture’s cuisines focus more heavily on vegetables than others. Indian cooking, for example, is very vegetarian friendly, as can be Asian cuisine, especially Thai or Vietnamese. Or just think a big ol’ stirfry with tofu, rice and a yummy sauce, served alongside vegetarian potstickers or egg rolls.
  6. Breakfast for dinner: who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? We love quiches, waffles or pancakes for dinner. I keep frozen pie crusts in my freezer all the time, making it a matter of minutes for me to cook up some veggies and whip those together with some eggs and cheese to make a delicious quiche. Makes a great leftover breakfast or lunch the next day, too!
  7. Comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup? Mac ‘n’ cheese? A big ol’ casserole? Ooooh yeah. Delicious, comforting, and very vegetarian friendly.

So there you have it! 6 tips to help you embrace Meatless Monday!

Do you participate in Meatless Monday? I’d love to hear what your families’ favorite dishes are. Please share in the comments below.

This post is sponsored by Save-On Foods, but the opinions are my own.



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