Monthly Archives: September 2010

Your Organic Food is Killing the Planet

Here is a short and sweet little pictorial (courtesy of Huff Post) touching on 8 organic food myths that also happen to coincide with many of my food pet peeves! Oh, joy.

Organic milk, such as Horizon brand, dumps its cows on massive feedlots and is an example of the lowpoints of agribusiness. How do you think Horizon sells its organic dairy so cheaply to Walmart? By carrying on in the same way that commercial dairies do–but with organic instead of conventionally grown grain.

Organic tv dinners–expensive crap wrapped in plastic packaging and then boxed. Waste.

Exotic, far-flung fruits and veggies make the list. I am definitely guilty of this one. Unfortunately, apples are an exotic fruit when you live in Florida. And the majority of organic apples that I’ve seen in the market come from New Zealand. Which, you know, is kind of on the other side of the world. One thing the Huffpo piece doesn’t touch on, but that I think is important to point out, is that the organic standards only apply to the growing process. Your organic bananas may be gassed with ethylene on the way to the market and nobody is going to say boo about it.

“Natural” advertised on the label. To paraphrase Michael Pollan, if it has a label, it probably isn’t natural.

Single Servings. Yes. This upsets me. I am not totally free of this. We do occasionally keep a stash some “natural” sugary granola bars for emergency situations, but in general, I am weary of snack packs and all the waste they generate.

Plastic water bottles. Cancer. Bad taste. Landfill. No thanks.

Soy junk is another item on the list that I must hang my guilty head in shame over. On road trips, it is our convenience food to fill up our kids. Tofu turkey. Smells like dog food to me. Vegan dog food I occasionally feed my children.

See, I am very judgmental when it comes to food, but am capable of admitting my wrongs. I feel more guilt over feeding my children lousy stuff or buying so called food with packaging than the average person.

Now, should I do a post about how there is truly no such thing as a “green remodel” (unless you salvage *everything*). How about you? Do you experience a direct correlation between your consumption and your accumulation of guilt?

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Dinner is Served

Well, it was served last night. Tonight it will be “every man for himself leftovers.”

I’ve been enjoying the high capacity burners of my FiveStar range and, inspired by the tiny eggplant that grew in our pathetic, unfertilized garden, last night’s dinner had a certain standout. The flame roasted nightshades were delicious and very Tuscan/Bengali rustic.

Wrapping the vegetables-particularly the eggplant-in foil and then flaming allows for a steamed flesh with a charred and wilted exterior. No oil required. To make sure everything was well done, I baked the sliced vegetables for about 15 minutes with some salt. After removing from the oven, I drizzled the dish with a light touch of olive oil. Complete heaven.

This made me feel so Bangla.

EMBERS!

21,000 BTU's at work

Okay. Does this make you sing a Violent Femmes song? Because it totally couldn't resist.

Okay. I was just going to include a link to this vid but when I saw the mullet, I had to embed the full hairstyle here. On my blog:

Off the flame, sliced and into a dish with a little salt, pepper and dried Italian herbs.

Baked for about 15 minutes, out of the oven and drizzled with olive oil. Perfetto.

Look! I am not afraid of mixing marble with tomato. Take that!

For anyone out there contemplating marble countertops. So do it! Acid schmacid. It’s stone. Who cares if it doesn’t look stay all shiny guido new like granite? Isn’t that why you like marble anyway?

Chinese cabbage pakoras, pizza rolls & broccoli cheddar soup

Broccoli cheddar soup is out of my family’s normal eating zone. Son wouldn’t try it. He got a bye on that one since I know he is not a cheese fan. Daughter ate half a bowl and then declared she didn’t like it. Husband has yet to taste it, although the leftovers are running out so surely it will be on his menu tonite.

The recipe is from one of Kurma’s cookbooks and is simple and straight forward. I didn’t have a lot of cheese so I used a dash of turmeric and nutritional yeast to amplify the effects of what was in my larder. Also, milk. Ooops. I was all out. Meant to get some, but the boy was home sick so that didn’t happen. I had vanilla scented whey (thankfully it didn’t add any vanilla scent to the finished soup) and blended that with a quarter of a block of tofu to act as my milk sub. I used way more salt, black pepper and hing than the recipe called for, but I do that with most recipes. And parsley. The only herb still growing in my garden is oregano.

My son ate three pizza rolls! The rolls were inspired by my friend Kalindi in NC, who’s version is less bready. I will try to approximate that tonite since I need to have a snack on hand for my soccer team tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a delicious evening!

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Ms. Kathleen’s Spicy Peach Jam

Ms. Kathleen's Spicy Peach Jam

Today is the 60th birthday of one of my daughter’s teachers, Ms. Kathleen. I really like Ms. Kathleen. She makes the kids eat their lunches, even if they don’t care for something. Not only has my daughter reported this, but these accounts have been confirmed by my son, who also had Ms. Kathleen as a teacher last year.

I like Ms. Kathleen, but what to get the woman who has everything? I mean, she already has the honor of spending 6 hours a day with my child! What more could she need?

Ms. Kathleen gives little hints through her wardrobe about the kind of woman she is. And that kind of woman is rock n’ roll. Boots. Pants that lace. Long hair. Blouses that billow in a peasant-top kind of way. Inside this kindergarten teacher is a real wild child. So I decided to make a spicy peach jam with nearby Georgia peaches to honor  both her sugar and her spice.

I flavored the jam with lots of chili and ginger with some garam masala, cinnamon, hing, cumin seed and turmeric thrown in. Oh, and of course, sugar. And salt.

I have no idea if Ms. Kathleen likes her jam on the hot side, but this spread would really compliment grilled tofu, lettuce and tomato on a crusty bread. As shown below, this jam even works with sweet cakes, although I wouldn’t surprise anyone with it. I had a sample with some buckwheat spice cake and, I promise, it wasn’t bad. The sandwich idea is better.

Hot & Sweet: Spicy Peach Jam on Buckwheat Cake

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Eggless Banana Cake Donut Recipe

You asked for it. Yes, you! From Moundsville, West Virginia. And here it is. Eggless Banana Cake Donut Recipe. If you are vegan, this is easily veganizeable.

Here are some preliminaries. Fry in ghee. Heat your ghee to 350 degrees. Seriously. Fry a few minutes on either side. Nice with a glaze of powder shoog and water.

Ingredients (mix it up like pasta primavera….okay, that’s a Beastie Boys reference. Nevermind):

3 flax eggs

2 mashed bananas (approx 3/4-1 cup)

5 cup AP flour

1 tablespoon bake pwdr

1 tspn bake soda

pinch o’ salt

1/2 tspn powdered ginger

1 tspn cinnamon

1/4 c soft butter

1 c shoogar

1/2 c milk

1.5 tspn vanilla extract

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour. Roll out dough with some flour on clean work surface and cut with round cutter. Stick your finger in the middle to make a hole! Fry. Cool. Dip in glaze.

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Buy Our House

Please buy our house.

It is for sale.

It is in Pennsylvania.

We live in Florida.

It is an old house.

It is a  nice house.

It is centrally located in the middle of nowhere.

There are fruit trees.

There are berry bushes.

There are ridiculous amounts of flowers.

Old growth pine floors.

Brandy-new kitchen.

Clean air.

Rich soil.

Please buy our house.

It is for sale.

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Vegetarian Kid’s Birthday Party

As you may have noticed, I am not feeling very bloggy right now. But, as part of my duty to enhancing your Google search for ideas on vegetarian kid’s birthday party ideas, here is this post.

A weekend or so back, we held a belated birthday party for my daughter, who thinks she has a lot of friends. So, despite trying to limit the guest list, we needed to plan an outdoor party to host all the little ones without requiring ridiculous amounts of planning and precaution involving my house. Because the party venue was a local park, it was important that the menu be full of stuff that fared well at room temp.

Despite there being no room and the thermometer climbing well into the 90’s. In retrospect, I probably could have put out watermelon and ice cream and everyone would have been happy and refreshed. But you know what? I find the task of procuring a delicious watermelon daunting.

So, a week before the party, I put on my apron and got prepping.

We are not a Boca Burger/Tofu Pup kind of family. Real food was required. And my daughter, the dictator in training, had ideas. Lots of ideas. And far be it for me to discourage a budding foodie.

And….everything was vegan except the cheese and sweets.

The Menu:

Barbecued Gluten Kebabs

Gyoza

Summer Rolls w/Spicy Peanut Tamarind Sauce

Rice Noodle Salad

Crudites

Popcorn

Bread Rolls (turned out horrible but thankfully it was too hot for anyone to want to eat)

Cheeses

Choco Chip Cookies

Cupcakes and Birthday Cake

Spring rolls were originally on the menu but got axed at around 5 am the day of the party when I thought I was going to die and had the realization that, “She is only five. She has plenty of years ahead of her to deal with the disappointment.”

The big challenge of the event was two-fold. This was not a drop off party, so nom noms were required for sweating, sweltering parents. Also, this was not a party where the guests in attendance were exclusively vegetarian. I would say it was a 50/50 split. Thankfully, the non-veg crowd was a pretty international bunch, so the  Asian-inspired menu would not be seen as, you know, weird.

While the foods listed above may not strike everyone as obvious kid friendly choices, I come from the eating school of thought that 1) it is good to expose kids to new tastes/dishes 2) we need not dumb down the menu to make kids happy 3) as long as there is cheese, grapes, baby carrots and popcorn the children will survive until the next meal.

I did, however, compromise big time by using disposable/compostable plates. We have a ton of stoneware dishes that we use for parties, but I didn’t want to schlep them all to the park and deal with people accidentally throwing out my stainless steel forks (we used plastic and I felt guilty about it).

Goodie Bags. My daughter wanted these. Badly. Filled with candy, dollar store plastic Chinese imports and party blowers. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Take-away garbage. Last year, with my son’s party, I started the Mirel family tradition of take-away baked goods. I thought, by this year, the idea would have surely caught on with my kids. Instead, my daughters exclamation, “Ugh, cookies!” complete with eye roll gave me insight into the joy she is going to be as a teenager. Nevertheless, I made giant butter cookies, covered in sprinkles, reminiscent of the ones I got as a kid at the Royal Bakery in my hometown of Sayreville, NJ. While my daughter debates whether or not I am the biggest killjoy to hit the five year old party circuit, the kids at the party seemed to be psyched about their parting gift.

Pinata. We had one. And I apologize to the parents for stocking it with the crappiest, sugariest, most artificial candy I could procure, courtesy of Dollar General. But I swear, everything else available at the party was organic/homemade/fresh/good/etc.

So there you have it. No magic macaroni and cheese recipe. No vegan s’mores. Just regular vegetarian food served to a regular crowd of veg and non-veg friends. Everyone was happy. No one was hungry. Although there were a few inquiries about when the ice cream was to be served….

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Labor Day Weekend

Cake donuts. I've given up on yeasted. This was a trial run for larger quantity happening this coming weekend. Must make moister dough.

Ginger cookies--a fave of my son.

My husband read a news article on Hawaiian pineapple farms use of slave labor. This inspired him to research how pineapples grow. And to buy a slave labored pineapple. One last time. So he could cut it back to the root stem and plant it in a pot. If everything goes according to the online article, he will have a pineapple to share in two years.

My desktop pic is khandvi, dhokla and chatni. So, it wasn't a mystery to my why I was craving khandvi. Haven't made it in a while but only had a 1/2 cup of yogurt in the fridge. Recipe calls for 1.5 cups. Often there is a limit to how much you can reduce a recipe. And then there is all that math involved. I just went on intuition and the result was good stuff!

Not enough yogurt and no mustard seeds! I added some curry leaves to my usual chaunce to get some more flavor. Khandvi without black mustard seed is not perfection, but still i was satisfied.

Our Labor Day lunch: brown rice, palak tofu, artichokes & khandvi. Unfortunately, all leftovers allocated for work and school lunches.

Khandvi Recipe

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