Grandma’s recipe box

This month is crazy pants. I’m traveling every weekend except Halloween and somehow need to make a mind-blowing costume on the weeknights in between trips. ūüėŹ I haven’t been finding a ton of time to cook, but I did finally crack open my grandma’s recipe box after almost three years since I inherited it. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years. I am thinking of delving into the recipes (she was a parent starting in the 1950’s, so you BEST believe there are some amazing recipes in there) and sharing a few of them here. The entire “vegetable” section so far has been jell-o molds, so strap on your seatbelt. Here’s one I enjoyed last night:

A photo posted by izzy darby (@veganizzm) on

the big secret is, there’s nothing to it — if you don’t mind a good cry.

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Vegan Eggplant Involtini

vegan eggplant involtini
My earliest memory of eggplant is some time in the 90’s when my mom brought an eggplant home from the grocery story that had a large, protruding lump in the middle which made it resemble Bill Clinton (according to her). Something along these lines:


#childofthe90s. No disrespect to Bill Clinton, but I have never liked eggplant. Something about the texture always gets me ‚Äď it’s such a mush pile. In six years writing this blog I think I’ve only published one eggplant recipe.¬†I am trying to stop being a baby and learn to like it (file under: adult goals, along with remembering to wear deodorant every day and not laughing every time I see 69 written anywhere, in any context).¬†ūüĎÄ ¬†I figured that a good place to start conquering my eggplant aversion would be in some context where the flavor and texture is completely masked by other things. Baby steps.

vegan eggplant involtini

Eggplant Involtini is kind of like eggplant parmesan except rolled up and no breading. This version subs the standard ricotta for a vegan (tofu-based) ricotta and is literally all vegetables and tofu except for a bit of olive oil, so you can eat the whole thing and feel like a vegetable champion.

Inspired by The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/2″ thick slices
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 14 oz firm or extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 can peeled tomatoes OR 3-4 large fresh tomatoes*
  • extra fresh basil for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375*. Brush each side of the sliced eggplant with olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place the eggplant on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Rotate the sheet halfway through baking. Allow the eggplant to cool for 5 minutes, then flip each slice over using a spatula
  2. Meanwhile, place the tofu, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tablespoon olive oil and fresh basil in a food processor. Process until all combined and smooth, 15-20 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil and add the garlic. Cook, stirring for about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 15-2o minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep the sauce in a skillet (if oven-proof) or pour into an oven-proof casserole dish.
  4. Starting at the wider end of the eggplant, spoon about 3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture. Roll each eggplant up and place into the bed of sauce. Repeat with all eggplant slices, reserving a bit of the mixture for topping.
  5. Heat broiler to medium then place the skillet or casserole dish under for 5-10 minutes until browned. Remove and garnish with a dollop of ricotta and basil, or your favorite vegan sprinkle cheese. Serve hot.
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Cauliflower Chickpea Curry

I’m experimenting with video, so please pardon if this makes you motion sick

A video posted by izzy darby (@veganizzm) on

1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1/2 head cauliflower, cored and sliced into small florets
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
4 teaspoons curry powder
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed & chopped finely
3-4 small potatoes, unpeeled & diced
1 cup water
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen peas

Sauté onions and peppers in coconut oil over medium until soft and lightly browned. Add cauliflower florets, curry powder, cumin, and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add coconut milk, tomato paste, salt, potatoes, and water. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until all the vegetables are tender, 15 minutes or so. Add garlic, jalapeno, chickpeas, and peas. Stir and cook for a few more minutes, until everything is warm and adjust salt and spice to taste.

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Sun-dried Tomato & Braised Leek Farro (& Apartment tour)

So I’ve never done anything like this before, but given the amount that I a) complain about the weather and b) go on excessively about traveling I guess this is kind of¬†a ~lifestyle~ blog at this point. This is the SEVENTH apartment I’ve lived in since I started this blog (HOW MANY MILLION YEARS OLD AM I) but the first one I feel kind of proud of. Ben and I have lived here for two years and it’s still scrappy as hellllll, but there are some nice elements too. When we moved here in 2014 we had a weird mixture of my grandmother’s awesome 1950’s furniture and whatever we could crap together from yardsales/the curb/probably someone’s sewage-filled basement pit. We’ve made it our own (see: huge wall of photos and art we’re slowly collecting, plants, and Christmas lights strung up year-round). Almost no mold!*

I spend most of my time in the kitchen¬†(if that wasn’t obvious)¬†and photograph all of my food there. I try¬†to use soft, natural light in all of my shots, which can be challenging because the room only has one mothafuckin’ window #LeSuck. The next place we live will have at least 50 and the whole thing¬†will also be glass, both to let in light and so I can shatter the ceiling! #ImWithHer. I digress.

I also frequently like to walk around my whole apartment with no pants on, so I’ve been looking for good blinds for both my kitchen and living room for a while. I heard about from an Instagram post and decided to check them out. They have a good selection of wood, cloth, and plastic blinds in alllll different styles. I liked the soft light created by the fabric ones (Radiance Light Filtering Sheer Shade) so I decided on¬†those in the Seville Glacier color. With sheer shades¬†like these you get essentially as much light as having the windows open but nobody can see your butt. Win-win!

*There definitely is some mold.¬†was nice enough to send me some to try out.¬†Once the shades arrived I bribed Ben to put the shades up… It works really well when you ask someone to do things in 95 degree summer heat when you have no air conditioning #protip! I stayed on the ground and supervised and drank beer.

File 8-31-16, 8 58 36 PM

So here’s a before shot of the windows in our living room (imagine this room as a horrible, dark dungeon, which is basically what it was):

File 4-15-16, 5 05 28 PM

See how these drapes don’t fit the window at all? The room was always dark, which is hard because our bedroom and kitchen each only have one window. I wanted a room where I could sit and read or paint (or… scroll through Instagram, whatever). Here is the after of the living room with the new sheer blinds (with more of the room in view!):

Apartment tour See how sunny the little desk area is?Apartment tour

The pictures don’t do it justice, but the room really is a ton brighter and we still have privacy.Apartment tour

As I mentioned, the kitchen has but ONE MEAGER WINDOW so that light is important. We previously had nothing covering the window which let in the most light possible but gave our neighbors a view in at all hours of the day and night (remember my butt?). Here is the before (very sunny but zero privacy):

File 4-15-16, 5 05 44 PM

And after (lol look how much my plants grew/disappeared between these pictures!). Again, a little hard to see in this moody shadow picture, but I can pull the shade down about 80% of the way and still get tons of light filtering through:Apartment tourP.S. Here’s the rest of the kitchen from some semi-blurry iPhone pictures. The wall is my favorite part of the apartment. It’s got pictures from college, our cross-country road trip, art our family members have made, art I’ve made, and cool mementos from various¬†travels.

File 8-31-16, 8 33 17 PM

The rest of the kitchen. Don’t look at the dirty dishes on the counter :-0File 8-31-16, 8 33 28 PM

Because this is an iPhone picture it isn’t fabulous quality, but see how bright the room is? The horizontal sheer shades¬†are¬†actually down in this picture!

Last but not least here is a recipe I’ve been loving on lately.

Sun-dried Tomato & Braised Leek Farro

All summer I’ve¬†basically been making this dish using whichever¬†grain I have around (orzo, farro, rice, whatever). I braise up some leeks and sundried tomatoes then mix it all together. The trick is to get the leeks super soft and use a bit of the oil the sundried tomatoes are packed in to boost flavor.

  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large leek, outer leaves removed, halved lengthwise, rinsed (to remove dirt), and sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped (I find that the flavor varies from brand to brand, I like these)
  • 1.5¬†tablespoons olive oil reserved from sun-dried tomato jar

1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Stir in farro and 1 tablespoon salt. Return to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender (about 15-20 minutes). Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet. Add the leeks and cook until softened and light golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir and continue cooking for 2-3 more minutes, until they begin to brown. Add vegetable stock and fresh thyme. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer the leeks for about 15 minutes until the liquid is reduced and the leeks are very tender. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for a minute, stirring. Remove from heat and mix the leek and tomato mixture into the cooked farro. Add the sun-dried tomato olive oil and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

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