Monday, December 27, 2010

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday, Volume 8: The Staff of Life

This was a lovely year.  It was filled with new experiences.  It gave me simple pleasures and new skills.

I finally, learned to make bread.  Why bread?  It is simple.  It is good.  It can be used as an integral part of any meal.  It can be a meal.

The recipe I used is a variation of Jim Lahey’s revoultionary No Knead Bread.  It can be found over at Cooks Illustrated (they won’t spam you and you can get the recipe and poke around this site for a couple of weeks without charge—personally I think paying for an online subscription to this site is fantastic and that’s on top of my having a current paper subscription and a couple of their cookbooks).  Most weeks I make the olive variation without cheese and rosemary.  Recently, I’ve been gifting loaves of the plain, along with preserves, pickles, or a fancy cheese.  This has made a great gift.

This bread is great eaten from hand.  It's fantastic with softened sweet butter & coarse sea salt.  Or my husband’s preferred way, sliced extra thin.  Toasted until dark and then drizzled with a very herbaceous olive oil.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday: Volume 7, There's Nothing Here to Eat!

Bits and Pieces Can Make a Meal

So if you are even remotely like us, you do get into that rut of not wanting anything that appears to be in your fridge and pantry to eat. It's always weird because you know darn well that there's plenty to eat, but because you don't plan meals, you can't wrap your head around what to do when the offerings our sparse.

This one is from the waste-not-want-not collection of bits and pieces almost always available in your home. Especially now, when the holiday season has you out so frequently and you realize that you haven't done real grocery shopping since before Thanksgiving!

Vegetable Fried Rice (easily made vegan)

2 c of cold white rice (it should be at least a day old)

1 egg (yep, you leave this out and you have a vegan offering)
Soy sauce
Bits & Pieces (onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts, etc.)
Vegetable oil (preferably not olive oil)
1 T. Ginger root
2   cloves of Garlic

Dice vegetables, if appropriate.  Peel and chop ginger root.  Slice Garlic.

Add 2 T oil to a warm frying pan or wok, you may need more oil if you are using an unseasoned pan or one that isn't non-stick.  Add garlic to a medium heated pan and wait until it is lightly golden.  Add ginger and stir until it is fragrant.  Next add vegetables to pan, with those that take longer being added first, e.g. onion, bell pepper, carrot. Remove vegetables and aromatics from pan after a minute or two.  If using egg, crack and scramble one egg.  Add it to a heated pan over medium heat.  Cook until set just shy of your preferred level of doneness. Remove egg from pan and set aside.

Heat pan over medium heat with a bit of oil, if necessary.  Add rice and cook until it is warmed through.  Add vegetables and aromatics back into pan with the rice. Chop egg into bits and then add to rice and vegetables.  Finally, add 4-6 good dashes of soy to the pan, taste and add more soy if desired. Serve immediately.

Sorry, but if you happen to have Asian pickled vegetables, including kimchee, serve it with your rice.


The Pickles on the right have Asian Spices

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday, Volume 6: Picadillo, Ole!

Look at those gorgeous farm egg yolks, I don't even like egg yolks

I’m going to be more accepting in 2011. There’s only one thing that makes me crazy when it comes to being a vegetarian, it’s all of you animal eating folks who call yourselves vegetarian. You make my life, and the life of those who don’t ever eat animals, difficult. You’re the reason I get offered tuna sandwich box lunches at conferences because the person ordering knows a vegetarian who eats fish. Grrrr!

That’s largely why this series is not titled Meatless Mondays! I’ve found over the years that there’s always a vegetarian who loves bacon. Not soy bacon, but the kind that involves the massacre of Babe and Wilbur.

Here’s the catch, I like texture. So you won’t find me only looking at vegetarian cookbooks and magazines. I read many general recipe books and there I often find great ideas for dishes that happen to include animals. I read these books and think, "hmmm, that sounds really good, even though it has ground beef or ground turkey in it, how can I make it?"  TRUTH: Tofu is not the answer to everything! Its texture and flavor are more delicate and it fails, when used as a stand in for animals. Don’t get me wrong, I do like tofu and I think there are many fantastic applications for it (I just found them in the last few months so I will eventually get around to showing you what I do with it) but it won’t work, readily, if the dish calls for a ground crumble or even a steak, or roasted bird.

So far, my husband is the only omnivore I have served that loathes meat analogs.  He adores tofu, but he doesn’t want it to mimic any animal.  He gives a complete and utter pass to all other meat analogs, crumbles, bacons, ribs, deli meats, and sausages, with  exceptions only for Boca Burgers and Morningstar’s Buffalo Wings.

Seriously, if you only can one thing make it your own tomato paste, even if it is a pain in the neck

Picadillo, adapted from Eating Well

• 2 eggs, preferably farm eggs (they really do taste way better!)

• 1 pound Gimme Lean beef-style, or meatless-crumbles

• 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 1/2 cup chopped scallions, divided

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 4 teaspoons chili powder

• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

• 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

• 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1/2 cup golden raisins

• 1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives

• 2 tablespoons tomato paste

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. If you like boiled eggs, you can prepare at least 6 so that you have four on hand for eating later or chopping into salads.  Cover eggs with water and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, turn off the heat, move the pot away from the heat, and cover.  Let sit covered for ten minutes.  While the eggs are in the pot, prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice.  Once the time has elapsed on the eggs, remove them one at a time and submerge them into the ice bath you have prepared.  Let the eggs sit submerged in the ice bath for approximately 5 minutes.  Remove the eggs from the ice bath and dry them. Now you are ready to peel and slice two eggs for this recipe.  The remaining four, if you prepared extras, can be stored in your fridge for about three days.  NOTE: Fresh, eggs can be difficult to peel so start at the wide end of the egg being careful not to tear the egg white.

2. Cook meat substitute by following the manufacturer’s instructions. For Gimme Lean, heat 2 t. of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Once it is glistening, add the Gimmelean using a spoon to break it into pieces as it cooks, about 6-7 minutes.

3. Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet, again heat until glistening over medium heat. Add onion, 1/4 cup scallions and garlic; cook over medium heat, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add raisins, olives, tomato paste, ½ c. water and the browned crumbles; stir to blend. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Season with pepper.  Garnish with the remaining scallions and the hard-cooked eggs, if desired.

I served this with soft corn tortillas and a salad of jicama, grapefruit, and lettuces dressed with olive oil, a tablespoon of agave, and a splash of fresh squeezed orange juice.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Gift Guide

It's true. Every blog I read has a gift guide. I suspect going forward, when I'm trying to think of a gift I want to give or get I should really look at the gift guides that are already available.

I'm all in:

Perfect for curling up on a blustery day: A subscription to Garden and Gun: Soul of the South (I'm not kidding at all here, folks).

For the landlocked with a teeny, tiny sunny patch:
An Earthbox-- Just add seeds and potting mix.

Garden Kneeling cushions- They always sound ridiculous but I used it all of the time.

What I wish I had right now- Seed flats. This heated one looks perfect for my cold condo.

Free! Beautiful and Useful Heirloom/ Non-GMO Seed Catalog from Baker Creek

The one thing I wished I had when I actually had to harvest-- garden shears. (cutting the okra with scissors was difficult).

The new book, Growing Older: A Chronicle of Death, Life, and Vegetables and the old book, This Organic Gardener: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow

A long and indestructible hose

The one thing I wished I had when I was shutting down shop was a hand axe. This one looks beautiful.

A Gardening Apron. Sometimes you don't want to change clothes just to do a couple of little things in the garden. Look you can even be crafty here. Thanks Martha!

Some pretty canning jars, a lifter, and a funnel to get me started on the path to putting up some of the harvest.

More ideas can be found over at The Local Beet...

PS- The gifts I'm most pleased with giving this season are:

1) A Loaf of : Cooks Illustrated's Almost-No-Knead Bread that I made with "the-can't-keep-it-in-stock" Upland Dairy's Rush Creek Reserve, perfect for the bon vivant in your life

2) A gift box with non-alcoholic anisette (you still have time to make it and it doesn't require pressure canning), asian-spiced pickles, peach conserves with rosewater, and spicy tomato and peach conserves ( yep I made all of them).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Just Say No to Eating Animals Monday, Volume 5: Prosperity in 2011 means Quick Hoppin' Johns

Hoppin’ John is this southerner’s love.   It’s a perfect dish showcasing rice from my native South Carolina and one of the sweetest looking legumes there is, the black-eyed pea.
You can see why it’s called a black-eye immediately. This legume has a slightly nutty taste and this particular rice and bean dish has special powers.
Yep.  Everyone in my household has to have at least a spoonful, to insure prosperity in the New Year.  This particular dish should be eaten, dare I say it, weekly because who can’t use more prosperity.
The problem comes with all classic bean/legume dishes; you have to plan to have them.  Dried beans are inexpensive and keep for a pretty long time so they should be in your pantry.  Canned beans taste horrible, so while I do have them, I’m gravitating away from buying any more because I’ve also got a pressure cooker.  That let’s me decide in less than an hour before eating that legumes sound like a good idea and I can take even the longest cooking legume, garbanzo beans, and still have them cooked in about 45 minutes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We've Got Worms!

Yep!  We've got them alright.  They live in the house with us, can you believe it?

Lirio is fascinated by them.  All of her life, she's never ventured into, or been the least bit curious about,what we call the worm room.  At least a few times a week she opens the door to check out the new residents.  She's especially curious as to why they get so much more food than she does.  WTW!

Lirio checking out the Ritz-Carlton lodging for the worms