Lia got a "dragon bowl" described as: "grilled tomato, zucchini & tofu steaks with rich miso gravy, cilantro, green onions & sesame seeds", on brown basmati rice.. it was pretty generous and definately more fair. It was $11.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Thai Red Vegetable Curry! Everyone was raving about it--and everyone was omni, except for 1 vegetarian, so I guess I did good! Makes me happy that everyone loved it so much!
Oh, and yesterday I made my own kimchi.. let's see how it goes...
Sushi is pretty simple, and you can put whatever you like in it. All you need is a sushi mat, nori sheets, rice vinegar, some dry white wine, some soy sauce, some sugar, rice, and of course fillings.
3.5 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp soy sauce
Mix together and heat to melt, I just nuked it for 10 seconds and stirred.
For the amount I made: 1 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 cup rice, 2 tbsp dry white wine.
Boil the rice for about 15 minutes, a bit more if its brown rice. Do not stir. Uncover and turn to high heat for a short period of time, about 20 seconds. Recover and remove from heat, let cool for 15 minutes and then stir with a wet spatula to let any water leftover (should be very little) to evaporate. Mix in rice seasoning well.
Slice your carrots into small strips and boil for 5 minutes in a mixture of 1 cup water, 1 tbsp sugar, 1tbsp soy sauce to get rid of the worst of the crunch. This IS sushi.
If you have fresh beets you might want to pickle them a day or two ahead, just put them in a sealable container with water, vinegar, sugar and salt and leave them in a cool place at least overnight. The water in the container will turn a scarlet red, on the day of drain this and rinse, so that you don't have red sushi.
Lay your nori ontop of your mat shiny face down. For the big rolls with lots of stuff in it, use a full nori, for your smaller rolls cut the sheets in half (or just make them with a lot more rice wrapping them).
Lay a thin layer of rice (no more than two rice pieces thick) ontop of the nori, leaving 1-3cm of room on the top and bottom edge (parallel to the way you'll be lying your fillings, and to the way the bamboo is running on your mat.)
Place the fillings in, quite close to the bottom edge of rice. Make sure you dont overstuff, especially if making the smaller rolls. Roll tightly and firmly, using the mat, and making sure the fillings are firmly tucked in. Make sure you don't wrap your mat!
Use a little bit of water to wet the outermost edge of the nori, which has no rice on it, and pat it onto the wrap. Use the mat to roll the roll around a bit to make sure its nice and firm.
When you cut it, cut it with a wet knife. You'll want to wet the knife every cut, or at least every few.
Good luck! Often the first doesn't turn out perfect, but with a bit of practice you'll get the hang of it!
--THAI RED VEGETABLE CURRY--
1 pack (100g) red thai curry paste
3 cans coconut milk (i used 2 light cans and 1 premium.. since light is just watered down premium, this translates to about 2 premium or 4 light..)
1 cup vegetable broth (if you're using 4 light, add less broth. If you're using 2 premium, you might want to add more.)
1 cauliflower head
2 cups roughly chopped carrots
3 cups roughly chopped potatoes--already cooked till 'al dente'. I roasted mine.
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
5 spring onions, diced
juice of 6 key limes (about 1/2 a cup)
a hint of mint, chopped finely (about 1/2 tbsp)
a handful of basil
chopped roughly (about 1/2 cup)
1 inch piece of ginger, grated (or food processorized)
5 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tbsp raw sugar
about 1tbsp oil
Start by lining the pan with a bit of oil and sautee the garlic, ginger, and curry paste until fragrant, on medium-low. Add the onions and sweet peppers and let them cook together 2-5 minutes on medium.
Add all the other veggies, the coconut milk, the lime and mint. Let it cook together for about 20 minutes.
Add the basil, sugar, and vegetable broth and let it simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, and then for another hour at least covered.
At that point I turned mine off and let it sit till the next day (still warm) when I reboiled it (to get rid of any germs) and served. I'm sure if I had served instead of turning it off it would have been tasty, but obviously the longer the veggies sit in the curry, the more flavorful they get! This is like a stew: every time you cook it it gets better. :)
Oh, and I really want to get http://coned.georgebrown.ca/section/culi/vegecert.html Isn't it awesome?!?! Unfortunately, each course is about 300, except for the tofu one. I want to take the Culinary Arts one.. I'm going to let my new specialist settle down to make sure I have the time, but I'm pretty gung-ho. I'd also like to take the tofu course, vegetarian II (which has a lot less dairy than Veg I.. though I might still be interested in I as substitutes are far from impossible to come across) and Indian cuisine seems interesting. Chinese seems almost silly as my mom is Chinese, so its the only cuisine I grew up with.. but we shall see.
Excitement. Excitement. Happy. Gotta go cook and take photos! See you later!
Saturday, January 5, 2008
I actually have a DREAM for my future, can you believe it?! I actually have a focus again. I won't say all this research into vegan cooking and just vegan websites and books in general did not have a huge play in it. I was wandering aimlessly about, studying immunology just because it was the hardest program I felt I could do well in.. now I have a dream.. two rather. I am going to switch at the end of this year from an immunology specialist to another major.. most likely environmental biology or evolutionary biology.. I've wanted this for so long but I always thought it was a stupid dream, but now I figure, why not, why do other scientists get to do this and I'm working towards confining myself in a lab? I want to go to the amazons, discover new species--my university takes students every year to go do that, so why can't I? I want to make it my job, and it's a real job you know that? Finding new plants to be the next miracle drug, finding new, better ways to use the rainforest rather than the way its being torn down today for soy fields that quickly wear away. (The amazon jungle has very nutrient-bare soils that can only sustain soy fields for a very short amount of time--a period of years--before new ground must be cleared. Yay tofu. :-/ Unfortunate but true..)
That, or when I graduate with my bachelors, I might go to chef school. I think it'd be really cool to start up my own gourmet vegan restaurant that caters to really high rollers--you know, uber chique and uber pretentious. I don't really care that its not good ol homestyle, I want it to be high profile and I want it to really make vegan cooking a huge deal that will go in the papers and get everyone going, hay that's neat! Make my kitchen 100% cruelty free: the soaps in the restrooms vegan organic, the lightbulbs the most energy conserving on the market.. that sort of thing. I think it'd sell... But the only way to find out if a dream works is to give it a go right?
So yeah, now I have two dreams that both would make me blissfully happy, rather than. "Oh, I don't know.. med school I guess."
So yes, I am happy.
In other news I spent the day cooking, as tomorrow we're having guests over for dinner. I made thai vegetarian red curry, which I will take photos of tomorrow, and am probably going to make brussels sprouts as well as vegan pumpkin pie. Here goes!
Oh P.S. I found two food processors hidden away in my kitchen today--one is a nice small hand blender I saw Cat Cora use on Iron Chef America, and that's when it was like haaaay I've seen one of those before, which got me looking in the first place. And the other is a full sized blender. I also have two juicers. Who knew???? Makes me a happy happy camper.
Oh P.P.S. I found this on Isa's LJ http://isachandra.livejournal.com/ which she used before wordpress. It's amazing. I love it. I love that its vegan, I love that its hilarious, I love that now I know how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. I. Love. It. I wish there were more episodes but this is the only one. :( A true inspiration for me. (I haven't given up on my shows yet!)
Oh, P.P.P.S. I've added a bunch of links to vegan blogs as you might see. These are so much better than mine and are definately my inspiration. As it says there, they are WORKS IN PROGRESS! There are many I've forgotten, I just put it up. Oh, and this is another treasure I just found. http://everydaydish.tv/
I know this is old news to many, but not to me, and as this is my blog I MAKE THE RULES MUAHAHAHAHAH. *happy*
Thursday, January 3, 2008
How do you make it? Well you take a salad, with all its wonderful salad things (in my case it's got baby arugula and spring mixed greens topped with tomatoe, carrot, beet, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, green onion and parsley) and some Sundried Tomato, Caper, and Basil Pesto dressing.
How do you make this dressing? Easy. Take some sundried tomatoes and dice them up really fine (food process even), and a lot of basil and do that for the basil leaves too. Throw in some capers and some smashed garlic, about 3/4 cups of oil and 1/2 cup of vinegar (balsalmic probably tastes better, but I only had rice vinegar), give it a mix (or a shake in my case) and BAM! Serve it with a spoon rather than pouring to get some really nice basil/sundriedtomatoe/caper action going. Oh, and don't be too generous--this really is just oil with some flavors, and you really don't need more than a teaspoon of oil for even an oversized salad like mine. Mmm.. Food. Served with some chilled chammomile citrus herb tea this was the perfect lunch.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
So I was thinking--stevia hmmm? Is it any better/worse for me than splenda? Aspratame has been demonstrated over and over again to be hazardous to one's health, as has saccharine, but sucralose (splenda) has managed to keep a decent rep. Stevia is an all-natural sweetener coming straight from the Stevia plant, and I wanted to know: am I making a healthy choice by choosing it?
So I googled it, and here's what I found, in a nutshell: (all sources linked below so you can do your own reading too.)
- It helps with weight loss, especially in obese persons, as it seems to help 'turn off' hunger sensations when satiation has occured. (The tests in my opinion were performed with groups too small for the results to exceed standard deviation--i.e. it could've been a fluke.)
- It helps with insulin release, and thus glucose tolerance. (Again, I feel the tests were performed on groups that were too small for comfort.)
- It consistantly tests safe.
- It's calorie free.
Despite the fact that some of the findings were based on testing that had a little too much room for error in my opinion, I think that while not 100% reliable, those results definately are promising. I think further testing would be needed to make these possibilities 'facts' about stevia, but it's sure worth hoping, and definately not a bad thing!
So there you have it, it's stevia for me!http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia
So I woke up this morning and decided.. hmm.. I want oatmeal.
- just over 1/2 a cup of oats.
- just over 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 small fuji apple (i didn't want to use an apple that was very overpowering, empire or cortland should work nicely too)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 3 packets stevia (about 6 tsp sugar, if you want to use sugar, or to taste)
- small handful of raisins
I put the water on the element and brought it to a boil, and dumped everything in, letting it come to a boil again. I put the lid on and let it sit for 15-20 min.
Serve, sprinkle with some more cinnamon (i like it really cinnamon-y), add some soy milk and voila. Breakfast is served.
Nutritional Bit: Oats are full of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, they have beta-glucan which helps lower cholesterol levels and significantly reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as 'activating' white blood cells to 'charge up' the immune system. Some scientists believe they also boost the ability of the body to terminate cancerous cells and research is being done as we eat. Oatmeal has a low GI, has anti-inflammatory properties, protein, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, manganese, and a bit of iron. Make sure you pick steel cut or at most rolled oats (which mine were)--the more processed they are, the more useless they are to your body. Sorry instant oatmeal, but you're cut. (har har)
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
In this post I include some info on picking produce, some recipes, and some nutritional tidbits of information in red under the recipes that contain the veggie I'm talking about. Happy eating!
BEFORE YOU PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH: PICKING AND CLEANING YOUR PRODUCE
Pesticides: Buy Organic and Wash!
One thing I'd like to say before we start cooking is that almost everything I cook with is organic, and I strongly suggest you do the same. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) lists off the most and least contaminated foods, and I strongly suggest looking at their site and using the information they provide to make an informed decision about what you're buying. I understand organic is more expensive (though, vegetables are significantly cheaper than meat, so you're really saving anyway) but what could you possibly be saving those pennies for that is worth more than your health? I personally like to use veggie wash to get rid of any pesticides on my inorganic produce, and often will wash the organic in it as well: there is such a thing as organic pesticides and they are used, so don't bite into that apple before you wash it!
For your convenience, I've listed the top 12 most contaminated foods and the 12 least. It is good to read the way these were chosen etc. so I still suggest visiting the site.
12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Veggies (Pesticide load in parenthesis): "The Dirty Dozen"
Peaches (100), Apples (96), Sweet Bell Peppers (86), Celery (85), Nectarines (84), Strawberries (83), Cherries (75), Lettuce (69), Grapes--Imported (68), Pears (65), Spinach (60), Potatoes (58)
12 Least Contaminated Fruits and Veggies (Pesticide load in parenthesis): "Consistantly Clean"
Eggplant (19), Broccoli (18), Cabbage (17), Bananas (16), Kiwi (14), Asparagus (11), Sweet Peas--Frozen (11), Mango (9), Pineapples (7), Sweet Corn--Frozen (2), Avocado (1), Onions (1)
I wonder if the fact that most of the cleanest are also fruits that have thicker skins or veggies that have its outer layers removed before cooking usually?
Locally Grown Produce: Save the planet, delight your tastebuds
I know not everyone is lucky enough to have an organic farmers market just down the street. (It just so happens I do!) however I know for a fact that finding fresh local produce is far from impossible in most of North America and Western Europe--I've travelled quite a bit. So whenever possible, I strongly suggest getting locally grown produce. Why? Well, let me tell you a few of the great things about local fruits and veggies!
- It's more eco-friendly! Since the fruit has to travel less to get to you, the transportation emissions are much less: the last thing this planet needs is more pollution: believe you me!
- It's more fresh! The produce you're eating came off the vine sometime within the past few days, rather than the past few months! That's a HUGE difference and you'll really notice it when you taste it. Fruits and veggies that ripen on the plant taste so much better.
- It's more nutritious! Since the farmers who pick it know that it's not going to have to last months before its consumed, they pick it when its right at its peak. That means the produce has the maximum amount of time to absorb nutrients before it shows up on your plate.
THE GOOD STUFF: RECIPES
So here are some really basic, really fast, really easy recipes. I'll edit photos in as I make them again.
These Mushrooms are cooked up asian style, really quick to make!
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms (10ish)
- 1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms (8ish--if you buy them dehydrated remember to soak overnight)
- 1/4 lb oyster mushrooms12oz straw mushrooms (can come from a can)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil (or grapeseed, safflower--ones with mild tastes.)
- 1 tsp butter replacement, or just an extra tsp of oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (i like extra garlic usually so more like 4, but to each their own)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- pinch black pepper
1. Brush your mushrooms, or rinse them: personally I dont think the 0.5oz of water mushrooms will soak up is worth caring about. Just don't wash them with soap as that wont taste great. Trim stems of the mushrooms and drain the straw mushrooms and give them a quick rinse if they were canned.
2. Place stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Any skillet that's a little deep will do. Add oil and butter replacement and allow it to heat until the surface of the oil is dancing. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about 10 seconds. Add everything else. Cover and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 8 min.
Great to serve over some rice.
Nutrition Blurb: Mushrooms have been used medicinally for ages and have huge health benefits. They're great at absorbing toxins, they're antioxidants, they're suspected to be metabolic enchancers, and they're loaded with nutrients. Shiitake mushrooms have all eight essential amino acids (something us Vegans/Vegetarians have to pay extra attention to getting). They produce lentinan which is used to prolong survival of cancer patients (it actually fights the damage from anti-cancer drugs, rather than the cancer itself). Button mushrooms contain significant amounts (50% to around 10% of recommended Daily Values, in decreasing order) selenium, riboflavin, copper, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, zinc manganese and thiamin. [Information in this blurb relies heavily on The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden, a book I highly recommend reading, as well as other sources which have been linked.]
I made this up the other night and love it to bits. By made up I mean there was no recipe: of course this has been done time and time again.
- 1 medium/large turnip (or rutabaga)
- 1 garlic head
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- pinch of rosemary (1 tsp for those who need to measure)
- pinch of salt (to taste.)
- 2/3 cup soy milk
1. Peel the waxy skin off of the turnip and then chop up into even pieces. The smaller, the faster it will cook obviously. Boil in water until soft. For rough 1-inch pieces this should take about 20 min. Meanwhile, place the garlic on some aluminum foil or on a tray and in the oven at about 400F. Leave it for about 10 to 15 min, until the flesh is soft and golden: you'll have to actually check as the skin wont give it away.
2. Take the roasted garlic and pull out all the flesh, discard the skin. Put it in the oil with the rosemary and let the oil really soak up the flavor.
3. Once the turnip is soft, drain the water. Pour in the oil mixture and the milk and mash. I use a hand held blender but by hand works too of course. Add in salt as you like, and feel free to experiment with other spices like paprika, black pepper, tumeric...
Nutritional Blurb: Those of you who are trying to lose weight will be happy to know that turnips, like melons and summer squash, are "high volume" foods--that is, they fill you up for less calories. A cup of cooked turnips is about 35 calories and has lots of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and calcium.
Sweet Potato Chips
Here's another quick one I just made up. Again: By made up I mean there was no recipe: of course this has been done time and time again.
- sweet potatoes
- olive oil
1.Slice your sweet potatoes nice and thin: use a mandolin, cheese grater, or just a sharp knife. Try and make them even, as the thinner they are the higher the heat you want to cook them at to get the skin nice and crispy and the insides just soft enough. When the potato is thicker it needs longer for the insides to soften, and you don't want the skin to burn.
2. Drizzle some oil into the skillet and turn the element to somewhere between medium and near max. I like to slice mine thin so for me I keep it pretty near max. Once the oil is dancing on the surface it's hot enough. Make sure you dont let the oil smoke--that means your nice cis-unsaturated fats are turning into trans-fats. Yuck!
3. Lay the potato chips down individually, and just let them cook, once the edges are golden, flip them and let the other side cook. I like them done when I can bend them in half without breaking them with tongs, but if you want them more of a 'chip' let them fry a bit longer. Place them on a few paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Salt while still hot!
Nutritional Blurb: Sweet potato is definately a starchy treat, but what a treat at that. I absolutely love the taste of sweet potato in all its form, and it is high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, has vitamin A, potassium, a bit of calcium and they're thought to be anticarcinogenic.
Really easy, and I love it. My aunt has more zucchini in her backyard than she knows what to do with, so I've had zucchini in almost every way shape and form.
- Zucchini (1 large per serving, or 3 baby zucchini)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (About a teaspoon per serving)
1. Slice your zucchini evenly. Using a mandolin really is best for this. If you have baby zucchini, just slice them in half lengthwise--they're soft and tender enough that they can cook through even when thick.
2. Get your griddle (or the largest frying pan you have, if you dont have a griddle)really, really hot. If its not nonstick you'll have to quickly brush on some oil. Lay your zucchini down on the griddle and let it sit, about 10 minutes.
3. For the sliced zucchini you know its ready to be flipped when it "sweats"--beads of water will form on the side facing you. For the baby zucchini you want the skin to be soft and dark to about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up. When you flip your zucchini the side that has just been cooked should be a nice golden brown color--if you've got a lot of white or pale gold, quickly turn it back and let it cook for a bit longer (don't keep flipping back and forth, each side should just cook once).
4. Cook until both sides are golden brown and then put it in a dish you can cover to let it keep warm while you cook your next batch. Once you've cooked all your zucchini, drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste and serve.
Nutritional Blurb: Zucchini is a summer squash and is stuffed full of potassium, folate, vitamin A and manganese. They're thought to be good for your eyesight and are most definately high volume foods, weighing in at about 28 calories per cooked cup!
I'm working on getting some cooking shows up soon, I have a camera, camera crew, a guy who knows a bit about editing, and picked the kitchen I want to work in: Now i just need to get it all together. And convince the guy whose kitchen it is to let me use it to film. Shouldn't be a problem: he'll get to eat the food!
My origional plan was to launch a cooking website of my own, or at least a blog on a site owned by me. But I decided to give it a test drive on a free site before investing the 20 dollars needed to get my own .org/.com/.net.
So I hope you enjoy the site, I'll probably have a few recipes up even by later today: for now I'm going to explore my options with the blog. Happy New Years by the way!