I looked for guidance on the websites of a few governmental and agricultural extension offices, and they say that washing fruits and vegetables with cold potable water is sufficient, srubbing with a vegetable brush if appropriate. I am guessing that is how most people wash their produce. Where I live, at the natural foods store, they sell special soaps or disinfectants for produce. They aren't available at the big grocery stores. My sink (pictured) has two soap dispensers built into it. In one of them I put my dish soap and in the other I put produce soap. Next to the sink in the ceramic dispenser is hand soap. Maybe it is overkill for me to use produce soap. But where Pedro grew up (Mexico), disinfecting produce is always done, and it is a habit we continue. The produce feels cleaner after being washed using the produce soap. Anway, how do you wash your produce? Any comments are welcome (actually they are always welcome)!
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Here is a dish from page 86 of the April 2007 Vegetarian Times. It's called Mapo Tofu (Braised Tofu with Black Bean Sauce and Ground Soy). It is served on top of brown rice. I am torn with this dish. Pedro and I both found the flavors pleasing, but overall I was unhappy. It didn't end up having any sauciness at all, following the recipe the best I could. I was expecting at least a little sauce for some reason. But, my biggest complaint is that the dish was too meaty. There were no vegetables, only scallions. I know it wouldn't be Mapo Tofu if it had a bunch of veggies, and I did want to try the dish as intended. But, if I make it again, I will load it up with vegetables and skip the soy crumbles. I think shitakes and peppers and snow peas or green beans or really anything would be nice with the tofu and the really nice flavors of the black bean sauce with the sherry and chili oil, etc. I just didn't like the combo of tofu w/soy crumbes. Personal preference. Vegan.
Added 3/30: As I was eating the leftovers for lunch, I just couldn't help listening to Fats Waller, "All that meat and no potatoes, it just ain't right..."
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
This bean dish is featured in the cookbook Rick Bayless' Mexican Kitchen, under the name "Veracruz-Style Greens and Beans with Red Chile and Dumplings." Click on this link to see my photo album where I show the process I used in making this dish. It alters a bit from the original recipe, but it is essentially the same dish. The way I show making the beans is the process I use each time I cook beans. When I'm making a different version of beans, such as refried beans, I'll add different ingredients or alter my process at the stage where I show the addition of the chipotle chiles. Lacto-vegetarian with the cream, otherwise vegan.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
This recipe, Southeast Asian Peanut Noodles, appears on page 29 of the April 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times. It was easy and quick to prepare. I used sugar snap peas in place of snow peas, due to the availability at my farmer's market. And, I admit, I used cashews instead of peanuts, because that's what I already had at home. In any event, it was super delicious! Very reminiscent of Pad Thai. This is one of several recipes I want to try in the April issue that require special ingredients which made for a fun excuse to pay a visit to my local Hung Thin Supermarket. Vegan.
Here are the deals this week. I bought 13 ripe Florida tomatoes (5.5 pounds) for $3. Cauliflower $1. Strawberries $1. Pears 3 for a dollar. Two pineapples for a dollar. Bag of potatoes $1. In the photo are: pineapples, peppers, cilantro, cauliflower, cabbage, strawberries, bananas, sugar peas, mushrooms, green beans, tomatoes, carrots, multicolored chard, pears, limes, corn, onions, potatoes.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Growing up, my mother often made me vanilla birthday cakes with pudding in the middle and chocolate frosting, like a Boston Cream Pie. After I got married, Pedro made me my first birthday cake from scratch using this recipe in the April 1993 issue of Gourmet Magazine.
We were both craving cake today, and even though it is nobody's birthday, we decided to go ahead and make it! We made the frosting thicker than the traditional glaze to make it more similar to the cakes I ate growing up. Also, we had some strawberries on hand, so we decided to put them in the middle with the vanilla custard. It was a delicious twist, having the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors all together.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Here is a meal I improvised. In the oven, I roasted purple potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, and a poblano pepper with olive oil and fresh rosemary. While they were roasting, I pan fried some soy crumbles with garlic and some of my Jitomate Salsa to give it flavor. Then I stuffed the portobello mushrooms with the soy crumbles and topped them with more of my jitomate salsa. I added the stuffed mushrooms to my pan of roasting vegetables and let everything continue roasting until done. Then I melted cheese on top of the mushrooms. It was a delicious meal. The salsa gave a pleasant spiciness to the soy crumbles. Lacto-vegetarian (vegan if omit the cheese).
Friday, March 23, 2007
Here is a vegetarian version I adapted of Rick Bayless' Pato Doradito Para Taquear, Estilo MP. It is a dish he presents as Asian Fusion on series four of his PBS show Mexico One Plate At A Time. My vegetarian version is the dish the Pedro requested for his latest birthday dinner.
This is how I make it. I make and simmer the soy sauce mixture as directed. While it is simmering, I wash and cut the vegetables. When the sauce is ready, I heat up some oil in a wok or other pan and add my assorted vegetables. I normally use shredded carrots, onion, green beans, mushrooms, red bell pepper or other pepper, and whatever other vegetable I have on hand. After sauteing to my satisfaction, I will add a bag of Quorn and the soy sauce mixture and let the dish simmer on low until the Quorn is heated and has absorbed the flavors and the vegetables cooked to my liking. However, if you prefer your veggies crispy, toss them with a bit of the soy sauce mixture and remove them before you add the rest of the sauce and the Quorn.
One way I serve them is to just make simple tacos of the vegetable/quorn mixture and Tomatillo Salsa on fresh corn tortillas. Another way, is to make tacos using fresh corn tortillas, refried black beans, the vegetable/Quorn mixutre and Tomatillo Salsa with cubes of avocado. Note: I do not prepare the tomatillo salsa in the manner that Bayless describes in this recipe, because I find uncooked tomatillos to be very harsh. If you follow his recipe, I recommend you boil or roast the tomatillos before putting them in the blender. Ovo vegetarian.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Today I received the April issue of Vegetarian Times. So before I embark on trying any of the newest recipes, here is a summary of the recipes I have tried so far from the March 2007 issue:
p.29 Garlicky Grits Cakes with Red Pepper Tapenade
These were yummy. I liked the consistency better than February's Hummus Cakes. Probably because the corn grits gave the batter more substance. I didn't roast the garlic in the oven. I roasted it on top of the stove, in the manner as I did in my Salsas, as it's much quicker. Now, here's something I tried. For some of them, I did the following alteration and I call them Poblano Polenta Patties: I put part of a roasted poblano pepper in my food processor along with the garlic and some of the chick peas and some olive oil. Coarsely processed. Then I stirred into that mixture the rest of the chick peas and the cooked grits (cooked in water). Then i shaped the patties and cooked them as directed. This was a very nice variation, and they didn't need any tapenade.
p.34 Rise-and-Shine Cinnamon Rolls
I found these easier and quicker to make than I thought they would be. And they had a very nice lemony finish. But, they are not really rolls. The consistency is way more like scones or even biscuits than bread or cinnamon rolls.
p. 35 Cornmeal Waffles with Warm Peach Sauce
These have such a beautiful orange flavor. The first time I made these, I mistakenly used the wrong kind of cornmeal. The one I used was the more coarse grits or polenta meal. And that was way too coarse for these waffles, so they didn't turn out. Since I didn't have the cornmeal needed for this recipe, the second attempt I used Masa Harina corn flour. And that worked out fine! I didn't have buttermilk either, so I used soy milk and a generous squeeze of bitter orange juice to it. Bitter oranges are available to me in Florida, but maybe are not common in other parts of the country. So, you could use lemon or lime juice. I think these waffles would also be great with some dark chocolate chips in them. As for the peach sauce, I never made it. Instead, I topped my waffles with slices of fresh pears that I sauteed in a pat of butter with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar.
p.78 Cream of Lentil Soup
p.85 Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
p.86 Thai Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce
Nice spiciness! We really liked this. The marinade and the sauce would be great with many other vegetables too, in addition to the shitakes and tofu. The peanut sauce was even good as a dip for tortilla chips and as a spread on sandwiches.
p.86 PB&J Whole Grain French Toast
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
This Peanut Butter Banana Bread is some of the best banana bread we've ever had. It's super moist and the peanut butter flavor goes so well with the bananas and chocolate chips. It's a recipe from the March issue of Vegetarian Times, located on page 85. I find myself buying large bunches of clearance ripe bananas just to have the excuse to make this. One thing I do add to the recipe is a bit of unsweetened applesauce. So, I don't know if that contributes to the moistness, or if it would be just as moist without it. The Slashfood Blog posted the recipe for this dish. Lacto-ovo vegetarian.
[Added 4/20: If you try this recipe, note that in the instructions, it doesn't say when to add the sugar, so don't forget to add it. If you use a liquid sweetener, add it with the wet ingredients, and if you use a dry sweetener, add it with the dry ingredients. Also, be sure to use really ripe bananas for the best flavor.]
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
I love to make salsas using roasted ingredients. And it happens to be the way that many salsas are made in the Yucatan, where Pedro grew up. On the left I am using comales (cast iron griddles) to roast tomatillos, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, garlic and habanero as the basis for two different salsas. You can't see all of the ingredients in the picture.
Then I made a Tomatillo Salsa (the green salsa) by blending the roasted tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno (seeded), onion and salt to taste. Vegan.
The other sauce is Salsa de Jitomate also known as Chiltomate. It has the roasted tomatoes, garlic, habanero (seeded) and onion, plus fresh cilantro and salt to taste. I blend them in the blender. Then the Jitomate Salsa is then fried on the stove in a bit of vegetable oil until the flavors become even more developed. Vegan.
Usually I just make salsas without a recipe, adding whatever I have on hand. But, as far as cookbooks go, I recommend the salsa recipes in Rick Bayless' cookbooks.
Monday, March 19, 2007
I made a batch of pickled cabbage using a recipe in the Cafe Flora Cookbook. I added Mexican oregano to it as my own touch.
I used some of it in Tofu Reuben Sandwiches. They contain toasted multi grain bread, a slice of heated extra firm tofu (it comes in a package labeled grilled tofu), a slice of mozzarella, the cabbage, honey mustard and horseradish. Tasty! Lacto-vegetarian.
I was inspired by the Vegan Lunchbox to make Pupusas, something I love but can't get at any local restaurants. Pupusas are traditionally served with pickled cabbage (called curtido), so it was another great dish for my cabbage. It was delicious, even if the curtido was not exactly authentic. Inside my pupusas are refried black beans, cilantro and a touch of shredded asiagao cheese. If I were to make pickled cabbage/curtido with pupusas in mind before making the cabbage, I would next time try this recipe, as it is looks to be more like what I am used to eating with pupusas. Anyway, we salivated over them! Vegan.
Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of these dishes, as I had not even thought of doing a food blog until now. I received the subscription as a Christmas gift, and I am loving it! Here are the recipes I have tried so far from the February 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times:
pg 38: Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes (Thanks to Mausmi for posting the recipe on her hub page)
They were OK, but not as tasty as I would have liked. I was disappointed with the flavor. I might have overcooked them by a few minutes, so be careful about that. I think maybe a dash of vanilla would have helped bring out the flavor.
pg 41: Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Very easy and quick to make! I used veggie broth instead of the cup of water. Oh, and I didn't bother to put a sour cream heart on top.
pg 46 Indonesian Tofu-Peanut Fondue
Tasty. It's funny but we liked this dish a lot, until we tried the Thai Satay sauce featured in the March issue. Now we prefer the Satay on pg 86 of March issue.
pg 54: Caponata Stew and Hummus Cakes (pictured above)
Both are delicious! And they go well together. We've made them more than once already. Very comforting food. An addition I make to the caponata is to add bell pepper in addition to the jalapeno. I also add a bit of Spanish paprika. I use whatever mushrooms are on sale. Actually the version in my photo doesn't have mushrooms, but zucchini instead. Since this is good to eat at room temperature, I have brought it on picnics and it's great for that. (As I live in Florida, I have been on picnics recently). As for the hummus cakes: they are tricky to make. The batter tends to get very sticky. Mine end up looking more like cookies than bean cakes. The ones in the photo are unusually brown because I didn't have enough garbanzos, so I used some pintos! And, I also add some finely chopped cilantro to the batter, and that is a great touch. The bean cakes can tend to be a bit dry and crumbly, even when undercooked. I'm not sure how to prevent that.
p 79: Millet-stuffed portobello mushrooms
p 80: Quinoa Curry [For a beautiful photo of this dish and a description on how to make it, check out the Desert Culinary Blog.]
Very good and satisfying! I've made this twice already. You could also add other beans and onion. And I don't serve it w/mango chutney. Mango allergy.
p 80: Hearty Grain Soup with Beans and Greens Great! I used barley instead of kasha, as that's what I had on hand I also added red poblano pepper, carrots and celery. And, I used a 24oz can of tomatoes rather than 15oz, and I doubled the quantity of beans.
p82: Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini [Many thanks to the Kitchen Space Blog for posting the recipe with a great photo!]
Quite good! Although, my dough was too wet and sloppy so it was hard to form the balls. Next time, I will add one egg and a time, because one egg is probably enough, rather than two. I also think I will make the rice w/3 cups of water rather than 3.5. I ended up adding bread crumbs to my mixture to make it less wet. I also used cubed mozzarella instead of fresh balls. Also of note: Pedro got home late the eve I made these, and they got dried out in the oven on warm. I'm not sure if having the extra bread crumbs in the mixture contributed to them having a dry consistency, or if it was just being in the oven.
p87: Tortilla Lasagna With Swiss Chard (recipe was published by the magazine, click link to see)
Nice! Funny to call it lasagna, it's basically chilaquiles. I suppose the point was to make a Mexican dish Italian. But, I recommend using enchillada sauce instead of tomato sauce. You can substitue hot basil for regular basil. I also added a red poblano, mushrooms, zucchini and garlic.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I celebrate Florida's early spring strawberries. One thing I make with them is strawberry sauce. I just puree most of them in my food processor and then chop the rest. Then I simmer them on the stove w/a thickener, a bit of lemon juice, and then I sweeten to taste. I used cornstarch to thicken today and a bit of turbinado sugar. Vegan.
Here is the recipe I use as a guide, I actually tweak it quite a bit, but it's a good starting point:
- 2 cups berries, one cup of them sliced
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (I usually use less, start w/a teaspoon or two, because i don't add water)
- sugar to taste (the recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar but that's always been way too much for me- and I'll sometimes use a non-sugar sweetener)
- 1/2 cup water (optional in my opinion)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Wash berries and blend one cup in blender. Slice the other cup.
- Put the berries in a small saucepan. Sweeten to taste. Dissolve the cornstarch in couple of tablespoons of water. Stir into the berries.
- Heat the berry mixture over moderate heat, stirring constantly, to bring to a boil. Boil one minute. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice.
Pedro made the Whole Grain Waffles using a recipe listed on allrecipes. He altered it by using soy milk, adding a bit of cinnamon and chopped walnuts. As you can see, our waffle iron makes heart shaped waffles. We topped the waffle with a very generous serving of strawberry sauce. Ovo vegetarian, with my substitutions.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian. That means that I don't eat any type of meat or fish, but I do eat eggs and milk products. I normally do not drink milk, but if I am somewhere that only has milk, I will drink it. I prefer organic soy milk. When I buy eggs, I buy organic vegetarian. I also eat butter, yogurt and cheese. My husband Pedro eats the same diet as I do, as we decided together to became vegetarians.
Unfortunately, the egg and dairy industries are as bad as the meat industry as far as animal cruelty, etc. Free-range chickens are still sometimes treated cruelly, etc. I do try to educate myself on the reality of our food sources. But I still have a lot to learn. I can completely understand why people feel compelled to become vegan, rather than just vegetarian. Either way it is a personal choice that I respect.
I do not drink alcohol. I will cook with wine as an ingredient, as the alcohol content will simmer out. I am often asked why I don't drink. That always surprises me. There are dozens of reasons why someone would choose not to drink, but I can think of many that would be way too personal to share with a stranger or someone who is not a very close friend. Worse than getting asked that question is when people try to peer pressure me into drinking. So, anyway, I don't dignify the question with an answer and I don't find people who peer pressure very dignified.
Updated January 2008: Here is a more recent post that explains more about what I eat.
Posted by Kathleen at 11:37 AM
Friday, March 16, 2007
When I have a lot of vegetables from the farmer's market, I will sometimes make two soups in one day. We will eat the soups for lunches, and I freeze some for future lunches. On the left is simmering a lentil mushroom soup. On the right is a vegetable bean soup.
Lentil Soup (vegan) ingredients: olive oil, carrots, leeks, potatoes, baby bella mushrooms, lentils, thyme, bay leaf, chipotle pepper/adobo sauce, dash of balsamic vinegar. I later puree most of the mixture for a creamy textured soup, reserving quite a bit of the broth first, which I have saved to use in a different dish. This soup is loosely based on the recipe on page 78, Cream of Lentil Soup (lacto-vegetarian) found in the March 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times. Note: A few weeks ago I made that recipe following the magazine's directions, but using fresh shitake mushrooms (so I skipped the step of soaking the dried mushrooms). And it was fabulous. I recommend using the shitakes. I would have used them today, but they weren't on sale this week, the baby portobellos were.
Spicy Vegetable & Bean Soup (vegan) ingredients: olive oil, carrots, leeks, 1 small yellow onion, 1 orange and 1 red bell peppers, 2 zucchini, 2 chayote squash, 4 small red potatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, crushed tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, vegetable broth, fresh hot Thai basil leaves, chipotle pepper/adobo sauce, dash of soy sauce. I later pureed a bit of the soup to give the broth a thicker consistency, then stirred in freshly chopped cilantro. I didn't use a recipe for this soup.
My friend Tess makes this homemade pita type bread. When she does, I make a double batch of a dip, such as Ful Medames, hummus, or the such. Then I trade some of my dip for some of her bread. Today I used cannellini beans to make this White Bean Dip, using this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis posted on the Food Network website. Vegan.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
This is why i am vegetarian: I absolutely love fruits and vegetables. They are beautiful, colorful and flavorful. It is the simple answer, but it truly is the heart of my reason. Of course, there are are the environmental, humane, ecological, health, etc reasons. But the reason I stopped eating meat over ten years ago was because I was living with a very limited food budget, and I didn't really like meat enough to spend my money on it. I found that I didn't crave or miss eating meat at all. So I made a conscious decision not to eat meat anymore. Then I embraced all of the other valid reasons for being vegetarian.
I find that sometimes when people ask me why I am vegetarian, they are really hoping to start an argument with me or express their disapproval. I also find that when I eat in the presence of people who are uncomfortable with vegetarianism, they will very likely pay close attention to and comment critically upon what I am eating. I can understand the first time, especially if they are just surprised and curious because they don't know very many vegetarians. But, I find it to be a very unpleasant experience when people cannot resist the urge to talk smack about my food or diet. I never comment on what they are eating. And I have never tried to convince anyone to be a vegetarian, no matter how happy I am with my diet. Usually, when I can, I avoid eating in the presence of people who continually make dining an unpleasant experience.
Posted by Kathleen at 12:52 PM
Oatmeal pancakes with macadamia nuts in the batter, topped with pineapple and bananas. The recipe I used for these Oatmeal Pancakes is recipezaar's recipe #13372. I modified it by adding toasted macadamia nuts to the batter, using soy milk instead of milk, and adding a dash of vanilla. I have also made these pancakes with chocolate chips and other nuts mixed into the batter. Ovo-vegetarian, with my substitutions.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
This meal is refried black beans, guacamole and my own version of esquites. The beans have lime added to them for extra zing. The guacamole has avocado, roma tomato, cilantro, lime, salt and blanched red onion. These esquites have fresh corn, roasted poblano, roasted tomatoes, purple potatoes, red onion, roasted garlic, cilantro, lime, salt and olive oil. My esquites always have corn, lime and chile, but the other ingredients I add to them will depend on what I have on hand. Served with a side of broken tostadas. Vegan.
Today I spent a happy couple of hours at the farmer's market. I am lucky to live in a city with such a large farmer's market. It is open every day of the year (pictured above).
Pictured above is the bounty I purchased today. Corn, pineapple, grapes, tomatoes, tomatillos, bananas, poblanos, mint, apples (mostly hidden by the mint), purple cabbage, strawberries, chayote squash, avocados, lemons, red skinned potatoes, purple potatoes, yellow onions, eggplant, green beans, limes, roman tomatoes, tangerines, zucchini, red and orange bell peppers, purple onions. All for a fraction of what I would have spent at the grocery store.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
When we buy peanut butter, we buy natural. No trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no refined sugars. A brand that my local grocery carries that I really like is Smart Balance Omega, as it doesn't require refrigeration, the oils don't separate, it spreads well and tastes great.
As for jelly, we don't eat it unless we know it is vegetarian. Gelatin is not vegetarian. We eat jam, but again watch out for the high fructose corn syrup and sugar content.
Also of note, some sugar passes through cow bone char as part of the bleaching and refining process. We buy sugars that we know are not processed in that manner. My local grocery carries Florida Crystals. Backstrap molasses, and agave nectar are some nutritious sweeteners. Vegans will normally not use honey, but we are not vegan, and we do use honey. But, we don't eat artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes. There are other reasons why, but in the end, a big reason is that my taste buds object to the aftertaste.
Added April 19: At the Conscious Gourmet I learned a lot of new things that I wasn't aware of about sugars and sweeteners, including some natural sweeteners I had never tried before. I am rethinking my use of sugars and will be trying some alternatives that I have been exposed to. I'll keep you updated on this in newer posts.
This is a peanut butter & berry jam sandwich on whole wheat, dipped in french toast batter and cooked on a cast iron griddle. The idea for this sandwich was found on page 86 of the March 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times. Here's a recipe for this dish if needed. Served with a side dish of sauteed apples flavored with cinnamon. And to top if off, a soy cappuccino. This dish was a hit, and we've made it several times already. Ovo-vegetarian.