Monthly Archives: July 2008

A Little Bit of Heart

Our nation’s capitol holds a special place in my heart–mainly because it is only a stone’s throw from my favorite vegetarian restaurant.  Yuan Fu is located on Rockville Pike in Rockville,Maryland and is the only Buddhist vegetarian/vegan restaurant I know of which omits garlic and onion.

Because I grew up in a Jewish family, Chinese is a food yen I cannot shake. It doesn’t matter if you are a yarmulke wearing lesbian, spare rib eating Reformed Jew or a payot sporting Chasid, Chinese Food is a Semitic favorite–especially on Saturday nites.  Even though there are tons of vegetarian Chinese places out there (ok…only in the urban “out there”), we hold out for Yuan Fu, since its food is free of the stinky stuff.
My kids like it, too. Honestly speaking, who doesn’t like Chinese food? And yes, we know that everything we eat at Yuan Fu was invented for American diners like ourselves.  But lots of Chinese people eat at Yuan Fu, so they must be doing something right. Actually, they are doing a lot right. If you come at lunch time there is a long wait for a table.  They also have a take-out lunch box, which is a prixe-fix meal with a few different options–all of which look delish.

vegetarian won-ton soup

clockwise: steamed dumplings, spring rolls, vegan roast duck, dipping sauce

We ordered the won-ton soup, spring rolls, steamed dumplings and roast duck as appetizers. I kind of hate the meaty names, but “vegetarian delight” can only refer to one dish.  The appetizers are my favorite part of the meal.  I could live on finger food, especially when it is eaten with chop sticks.  I passed on the spring roll so I could fill up on sticky dumplings. My greatest food fantasy is to stumble upon a vegan dim sum bar.  There are endless kinds of dim sum (which translates into “a little bit of heart”–also the name of a good foreign language American film) but at vegetarian restaurants there seem to only be about five.

clockwise: brown rice, vegan sezuchan chicken, vegan chicken with cashews, vegan tuna steak

Tuna steak, chicken with cashews and sezuchan chicken rounded out our entrees.  It was a lot to eat.    The tuna steak is made from yucca and has a seaweed “skin.”  Sezuchan chicken is a fave of mine and my husband loves anything with cashews and broccoli. My mother-in-law found the sezuchan chicken spicy even though we never notice the heat.

madhumati and grandma betsy taking care of the check

My mother-in-law was a good sport and didn’t complain at all about the food–which I know she is not a fan of.  But it was our last hoorah in DC for a while and I guess she thought, “What the hell?”  since it’s the only restaurant we will go to.   I am not sure which my mother-in-law is less enthusiastic about: the food or the strip mall location and plastique table cloth. 

Us?  We don’t get out much.  To us, a strip mall restaurant with indoor/outdoor carpeting and a huge photo of vegetables on the wall (along with ceramic iridescent pink Siamese cats on the counter) qualifies as fine dining. Me, my husband and two kids all love the place. Without any hesitation, we give Yuan Fu four thumbs up.


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What This Blog Needs More Of: Cows!

Here is a picture of the protected cows at Gita Nagari Farm. These cows never have to worry about being slaughtered. They, along with about 15 other cows, will live out their natural life grazing on organic pasture while getting lots of love and kisses.

These cows, named Paurnamasi, Salauni and Kishori, were purchased from a Seven Stars Farm Dairy. You know, the organic yogurt company. Well, Salauni and Kishori were bought but Paurnamasi (along with Premanjana who is not pictured) were gestating, unbenounced to anyone, inside their mamas.

It was discovered that the girls were pregnant when their milk production started dropping. Now they give a lot of milk, rich and yellow–full of cream. At least Salauni does. Kishori is a little more stubborn.

And for anyone out there who thinks that calves naturally stop nursing and that grown mammals don’t need to drink milk…well these two former calves still like to suck, drinking as much milk as they can get in their tummies.

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Have You Heard? I Make Great Preservatives!

On the 20th of July we had an open house. Three couples came to check out our mansion. I took the kids to the Spruce Hill Lunch for a little ice cream but my husband stuck around to observe the goings-on.

He found the experience very educational, to say the least. First of all, he discovered that instead of pitching our house, our realtor took on more of the mood of house apologist. The custom, natural stone hearth we had built with rocks from the local creekbed was not described as such. Rather, “they had to build this to get the house up to code.”

Ummm. Okay.

The custom kitchen with everything totally awesome, from the hand shaped tile to the dove-tailed drawers? Instead of mentioning any of that (and the tons of other awesome stuff our kitchen is packed with, right down to the details), he goes right for the jugular. Right when they walked into the kitchen, our realtor pointed out that there is no dishwasher, “but if you remove one of the cabinets, you can easily install one where the old plumbing was.”

He also said the basement was flooded before we moved in. Which it wasn’t. The previous owners had the washer draining through the cellar to the street(don’t ask) and we had a real live plumber re-route the plumbing. But doesn’t the guy know you are never, ever supposed to say the words “flooded” and “cellar” in the same day if you are trying to sell a house?

At least there was a little comic relief for my very pitta husband who was trailing the realtor as the guy talked down our house to the potential buyers. When touring our property, showing off all our fruit trees and bushes, our realtor did a little bragging on my behalf.

“She makes great preservatives!”

That about says it all, folks.


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On the Move

So, we left our Pennsylvania house and are headed south. We will be in DC a few days, then on to Hillsborough, NC before we reach our final destination: Alachua, Florida.

This past weekend was a real scene at our house. We had eleven house guests, a huge trailer in our driveway and 2 very bored kids. Despite all this, we got everything packed and on the road ahead of time.

I had fun pictures from the weekend but, as it goes, I seem to have either lost or packed my camera. I vote for lost and my husband votes for misplaced. As you can see, we are of the glass half empty vs. the glass half full variety. Hopefully I will eventually find the Canon, which has photos of a late nite jam tasting party as well as a killer sabji for 250 by Puspavana Prabhu. In the meantime, I will charge up the Pentax and try to keep this blog alive while I am in transit.

That’s the update for now.

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(Almost) Vegan Lunchbox

Because my husband worked in Baltimore, which is 2 and a half hours away, he would be gone for a three day stretch at a time. Always the dutiful wife, I would pack him 3 days worth of home cooked vegetarian meals so that he wouldn’t have to buy crap at the hospital cafeteria. Thankfully when we move he will be working only 20 minutes from home and will be able to  take the previous day’s leftovers. 

I decided to photograph the last work meal I cooked for him for a blog homage to the entire ridiculousness of his work situation.  For his last meals, I packed him an almost vegan lunchbox–which wasn’t intentional; I just cooked what we had in the fridge.  The cookies were made with butter but everything else was dairy free.
The lunchbox included a green salad, a summer pasta salad (made with vegetables offered for free from a box with a sign “free vegetables” on the side of the road), chapatis, spinach with tofu, cauliflower pickle and peanut butter cookies.

The summer pasta salad was exceptionally good.   All of the vegetables in the dish (minus the tomato) were pan seared, including the baby beets which added not only a great color but subtle sweetness to the dish.  
This was our last real meal from our home.  Now we are eating yogurt and cheese sandwiches made from store bought bread.  I am ready to be settled and set up in a kitchen again!  But we don’t close on our house until the 4th…

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Hot Hungarians!

This past week I was busy making Bengali Chili Pickle. I was determined to get a few cases made before our move, even though the timing was absolutely terrible. But it was such a great seller last year, that I could not let the opportunity pass me by. Every nite I stayed up into the early morning to prep, pickle and can these babies. Because I had a difficult time getting a hold of mustard oil this year–they don’t exactly sell it at the local corner store around here–this year’s chili pickle does not have as strong a mustard oil taste as last year’s. Depending on the tastes of your tongue, this may or may not be welcomed news to you.

Here are some pictures from my fun with hot Hungarian wax peppers. Unfortunately, the picture of the final product is still on my camera, which is 2 miles away at my house. But as you can see from the pictures, these are good looking peppers. I am sure you can use your imagination to envision what a good looking pickle they make.

This is not a peck of pickled peppers…but a bushel of peppers awaiting pickling.

Gloves? Check!

Slightly dehydrating the peppers in the oven–instead of blanching them–before canning.

Chop Chop!

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A Peach of a Post

There is a lot of peachy yum fun at the Sabjimata Store. There are so many flavors and textures to choose from, all inspired by a singular summer fruit.

Saffron Cardamom Peach is Sabjimata’s calling card flavor, inspired by divine inspiration. And now it is available in a smooth textured conserve (my personal favorite…I am too lazy to chew), as well as a conserve with peachy pieces. Also, there is a full sugar variety, aka jam, which–I have to say–is quite good. There is a ton of saffron in these jams, making the color and taste a unique Sabjimata experience.

Also on the shelf is a Peach Vanilla Bean Conserve which is both peachy and vanilla-y.

Another favorite of mine is the Vanilla Bean Peach Butter–a dark and lovely treat. Sweetened with sucanat, this is a very whole foods kind of fruit spread. Sucanat is the most unrefined of sugar and has it’s own distinctive, deep flavor. And did I mention color? Vanilla Bean Peach Color is dark from the natural molasses coloring in the sucanat.

Saffron Cardamom Peach Jam

Saffron Cardamom Peach Conserve (with peachy pieces!)

Saffron Cardamom Peach Conserve (smmmmooth!)

Peach Vanilla Bean Conserve

My brown beauty–Vanilla Bean Peach Butter–with sucanat.

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