Misc Info: Baking Pan Area Equivalents (use this to swap pans, or to double or halve a recipe):
- 8″ round = 50 sq in (straight-sided cake pan)
- 9″ round = 63 sq in (straight-sided cake pan)
- 9 ” x 13″ = 117 sq in
- 8″ square = 64 sq in
- 9″ square = 81 sq in
- one muffin = 5 sq in
Agave Nectar: This is a vegan substitute for honey. It is very good, and I found it reasonably priced at a health food store. It keeps well at room temperature, and doesn’t get all granulated like honey does.
Beans: Dry beans are very economical, but they mystify some people. I hope this helps. Most beans need to be soaked. The package will tell you. Lentils are an exception. You can soak them in plenty of water overnight, but you can also do a quick soak: bring them to a boil in just enough water to cover, then turn off the heat and add plenty of water for them to expand, letting them sit one hour. For a 1 lb. bag of beans, I would have them in a 3 qt. pot and add water so the pot was about 2/3 full. Now your beans have soaked. You have to discard the soak water, which is full of ogliosaccharides, sugars which we cannot readily digest and which give us gas. Cover the beans with fresh water and you are ready to cook the beans, which will take about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours (check the package). If the cooking water foams up, you can add a little bit of oil. Sometimes your recipe will include cooking the beans with other stuff, and sometimes you will be expected to provide cooked beans. You can freeze these cooked beans, covered in water, in small quantities for use in later recipes. I have heard that you can freeze soaked beans and that they will take half as much time to cook later.
Here is some info about canned beans, and here are some bean equivalents I find handy:
- 1 c dry = 3 c cooked
- 1 lb. can = 2 c cooked
- 1 lb. can = 2/3 c dry
Chocolate Chips: I always mean semi-sweet. Most brands have dairy. Fortunately for me, Wegman’s brand does not; check your store brand. I have also found that bulk chocolate chips are often vegan. Note, “cocoa butter” is vegan.
Corn Meal: Look for whole grain corn meal.
Ener-G Egg Replacer: This powder mix comes in a box, and you find it in the health food section. It’s quite effective in baking.
Extract: This is just a note that you don’t have to pay McCormick prices. I get bulk vanilla at a local health food store. I bring in my McCormick bottle and they fill it for $1.65/oz, genuine, gluten-free, organic vanilla. Target has a good price, too, last time I looked. I get my other extracts at a local bulk food company, Tadco. Most of their prices are terrible considering the no-frills packaging, atmosphere and inconvenience, but their extracts are about $1/oz, and they are right near the natural food store I like.
Flax Seed: Flax seed is very healthy, a great source of Omega-3s. It is also a terrific egg substitute in baking (not scrambling!). You substitute 1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T water for each egg, up to 2-3 eggs. Flax seed can be bought cheaply at the supermarket if you know where to look. The pre-ground and pre-bagged stuff in the health food section is $$$. I have found them for much less in the bulk department (supermarket or health food store), usually as whole seeds which you grind yourself in a coffee grinder or blender (<$2/pound organic). I have also seen them ground and boxed (Hodgson Mills) for about $2.50 in the flour section. The whole seeds can be stored on the shelf, but once ground they must be refrigerated. I have read that to get the nutritional benefit, they must be ground up (whole seeds go right through you) and ground seeds must be stored in the freezer. I keep a bag of whole seeds in my pantry and a small jar of ground seeds in the freezer, and when it gets low I just grind up a bunch more.
Ginger: Fresh ginger from the produce department is not all that expensive and really makes things authentic. It will keep a month or two, maybe more. I store mine in a plastic container in the fridge. I never knew how to grate it until the clerk at the local little kitchen store told me. She said you don’t want to slice the ginger with a grater with holes in it. This cuts the stringy strands, which you then eat. You really want to mash the ginger onto a grater with just bumps. I really like the ceramic one she sold me for about $3. I just eyeball-measure how much ginger is falling into the pan, and then I usually have to trim the strings off the ginger with scissors. You don’t have to peel it. You can also mince ginger, but it it hard to get it small enough so you aren’t eating noticeable pieces of it in the meal.
Ice Cream: Different brands of non-dairy ice cream have very different flavors, so don’t give up. I don’t care for Rice Dream. My favorite is Purely Decadent. If you have an ice cream maker, you can make your own.
Lemon/Lime Juice: I prefer to avoid ready-made juice with its preservatives and weird flavor. I buy fresh lemons and limes. They keep in the fridge a very long time. When I need one for juice, I usually have some juice leftover, so I just freeze it in a little container and thaw it as needed. You could probably measure it out into ice cube trays and store the cubes in a container.
Maple Syrup: Life is too short to eat fake maple syrup. Save up and buy the good stuff. I shell out a painful amount for the largest size I can find. If you keep a huge container in the fridge once it’s been opened, it may eventually get moldy. I keep it in my upstairs freezer, which doesn’t get cold enough to solidify it. I transfer it to a syrup carafe and microwave it for 10-15 seconds, then keep leftovers in the fridge for weeks.
Margarine, Vegan: Do you use regular margarine? You poor thing. You’ve been missing out on the best margarine on the planet, Earth Balance. You can use it exactly like butter.
Milk: There is a wide variety of vegetable milks to choose from. Some of my favorites are the Wegman’s refrigerated Original Soymilk, Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond, and Vitasoy Original Unsweetened. Those last two are asceptically packaged, on the shelf. Different brands taste vastly different, so don’t give up after one.
Mirin: Mirin seems to be a Japanese rice wine condiment. I have found it in regular grocery stores as well as natural food stores and an Asian grocery.
Miso: I am new to miso, but it is Japanese and seems to be fermented stuff. Mine was fermented soybeans. I have found it in tubs in the refrigerator. Our local grocery has a pretty good Asian section but only three tubs of miso. The local Asian grocery had about 12 different kinds, and cheaper.
Nayonaise/Nayo: Vegan mayonaise. This is a brand name and I call it that out of habit, but I’ve heard Vegenaise is better. Unless you are super-picky about mayo, you would probably like the vegan stuff. It’s definitely healthier, and you don’t have to worry about it at picnics. Everyone I know who has tried it has liked it. UPDATE: Right after I bought a regular bottle of Vegenaise, the same people who recommended it clarified that they meant the grapeseed oil variety. Oh, well, the soy one is OK.
Nori: This is dried seaweed. It comes in strips in a bag and you can find it in the international aisle. I put pieces in a blender, grind it up and store it in a jar on the shelf. Use it for a fishy taste.
Nutritional Yeast: This is different from baker’s yeast – it is dead and will not raise bread or make beer. Nutritional yeast is flakes that you can buy at a natural food store in the bulk section. They have sort of a cheesy flavor, and are added either for that or for their nutrition. It is a complete protein and often has B-12, which is an issue for vegans. Many recipes call for large amounts, such as 1/2 c, and I think you either love or hate this intensity of flavor. I fall into the latter category and skip recipes and cookbooks that use it. Small amounts in baking I don’t mind.
Oil: I use canola mostly, because I heard it was good for the heart. I use extra virgin olive oil in Italian cooking. I have peanut oil for Asian cooking. I got sick of buying and disposing of cans of oil spray so I bought a refillable aluminum aerosol can, Misto. It was marketed for misting food with olive oil, but I use it for misting pans with canola, and it works great. One time the oil went rancid. Since then, I just occasionally pour the oil out for use and put fresh oil in. Subsequently I’ve seen that you can put oil in any trigger sprayer.
Quinoa: This is a seed that is cooked like a grain. Be sure to rinse it in a sieve to wash off the bitter-tasting saponin. Quinoa is a whole-grain complete protein which cooks faster than rice, about 10 min.
Rice: Use brown rice when possible, for nutrition. Brown basmati rice is available for Indian cooking. 2 c water + 1 c rice = 3-1/2 c cooked.
Soba Noodles: Japanese buckwheat noodles. I’m told they sometimes have egg in them. I see them in grocery stores and Asian groceries.
Spices: Now don’t start whining that you don’t have all these spices. You can pay a fortune in the spice aisle of your supermarket, but you don’t have to. You can look for these in the international section, though you will probably have to buy a BIG bag. They will still probably be cheaper. I just bought a big bag of coriander seeds there, probably 2-3 cups, for $1.75. Or you can find a natural foods store that sells spices in bulk, and just get a little. An Indian woman told me that if you find curry powder in your cupboard, throw it away. You have to keep curry powder in the freezer. I imagine that goes for many spices. I only freeze curry powder and ground-up stuff I have too much of. The rest I try to just buy small amounts and use it.
Sugar: Processed sugar is often not considered vegan because often it has been processed through bone char. I think not all of it is, but there’s no way to tell. Some vegans consider white sugar to be absolutely non-vegan, and they can feel free to interpret all my references to sugar as “vegan sugar.” At this point I purchase evaporated cane juice crystals, which is vegan, but I buy regular powdered sugar and I don’t worry about it when I eat out.
Tofu: Unless otherwise specified, use the refrigerated tofu in one pound tubs. It comes in firm and extra firm for most uses, and silken for beverages and smooth desserts. Wildwood makes a Super Firm tofu which is as described. You can also buy prebaked marinated tofu, which is good and convenient but expensive. Here’s more, including how I microwave tofu. Another way to get moisture out and make tofu chewier is to Press it. I just put it between two cutting boards and set a weight such as a big dictionary on top, for maybe 40 minutes. Some water will run off the board, so sometimes I tilt it and aim it into the sink, but it’s not a lot.
Tortillas: I love these. They take a ho-hum filling and make it a meal. I usually microwave them on a plate under a wet paper towel for 30 seconds. I buy a brand that has part whole wheat. Their 100% whole wheat has honey, so I skip that. Wegmans sells a 100% whole wheat tortilla, so I bought that, once. I noticed it advertised Omega-3 Fatty Acids. I have bought tortillas with flax seed in them before, so I didn’t think much of it. I salted and microwaved them dry to make crispy tortillas to dip in hummus for a snack. So I’m eating them, and they taste a little… fishy. At first I thought I must be imagining things, and then I finally go look at the package, and they put fish oil in them. For the Omega-3s, instead of flax seed. So their tortillas taste like fish. Mmmm!
TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) (R): Here’s Wikipedia. I don’t know a lot about this stuff. I used to buy it a long time ago before the frozen crumbles came along and it this dry stuff keeps forever so I have some left, but it seems pretty processed, and I got sick of the taste, so I’m just kind of using it up. Most people buy the frozen, but it’s more expensive and just as processed. Eat whole food.
Udon Noodles: These are a Japanese wheat noodle. I got mine in an Asian grocery, but I see them in many grocery stores.
Wheat Germ: Wheat germ is the healthiest part of wheat, the part (along with the bran) that is stripped off to make white flour. Due to its oil content, it must be refrigerated after opening or it will go rancid, which you can tell by a strong stale smell. I find the grocery store bottles to be pretty pricey, so I buy bulk from a natural food store. I expect it to be refrigerated, since it’s open in a bin, but a clerk told me that if it’s toasted it doesn’t have to be (I bought some and it tasted fine, but definitely smell it to check before buying). I mostly used it on oatmeal, because for some reason with the wheat germ the oatmeal doesn’t need sugar. It’s also surprisingly great on yogurt.
Whipped Cream: Soyatoo makes a very good soy whipped cream. Do follow the directions to clean the tip after each used. Otherwise it will mold.
Worcestershire Sauce: This usually has anchovies in it. There are several vegan brands. I bought Annie’s first and didn’t care for it. My second bottle was The Wizard and I like that a little better. It doesn’t taste as strong as the fishy French’s brand I used to buy, so if there is another brand out there I might give it a try. Or maybe I will make my own – I have seen recipes around.