What's Hot in the Kitchen blog



Healthy Eating can also be thrifty eating.  As we make the converstion from a carnivore-eating lifestyle  to a vegeterian lifestyle, I'll get us started by exploring 'how to cook' recipes from the flavorful Asian,  Mediterranean,  and Indian cuisines.   And yes, scattered in I'll add what I call the more traditional Western vegetarian type foods.

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Growing Sprouts in the Kitchen

This crosses over to 'gardening' somewhat, but it is more in the kitchen, so I'll put it on this blog. Now I need to do a tad bit more research for the how to steps and start growing sprouts in my kitchen.

From a poster at a listserv I'm subscribed to - thanks shout out to Maven:

Sprouts anyone?

Alfalfa (not the best choice, but the best known), broccoli, mung bean, cabbage, radish, wheat, sunflower, and the ever-popular chai are all great as sprouts and very, very healthy. All you need is a mason jar, rubber band, seeds, coffee filter, and a sink. You get a crop every 3 or 4 days. In fact, they are considered enzyme and nutrient dense super-foods.

 


 March 4, 2007 

Recipes This Week; Still Eating Thai!

Chronicling my cooking adventures at my  Bundelz -putting it all together blog.  Converting us to vegetarian...my adventures in Thai cooking.  I am wanting us to have flavorful vegetarian meals as we shift into the vegetarian lifestyle.  We were already part way there, just needed to take the meat out of the diet. 


Catching up on the new recipes I made this week. See what happens when I miss one day of blogging the progression? It turns into two missed days, then three, then an entire week goes by and I find myself needing to write a 'super' sized blog entry. The order of the days we had the new eats isn't too relevant, but the grades and rating we gave the new recipes determines if we will have that one again ... or not.

So here goes.   And again, most of the recipes come from VegWeb.com - where I have my recipe box, and ability to plan meals and print out my grocery shopping list.


Sweet and Spicy Thai Stir Fry


2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
2 small jalepeno peppers
snow peas
Spanish red onion or shallots
1 pkg Lo-mein noodles (thin yellow spaghetti like chinese noodles)
1 jar sweet red pepper Thai ssauce
1/2 cup sweet plum sauce
soy sauce

Directions:

Slice the green peppers into 1/2 wide long strips. Dice all other peppers down to about 1/2 square. Slice ends from snow peas, otherwise leave them whole. Dice red onion or shallots smaller than the coloured peppers.

Run the lo-mein noodles under cold water in a collander for about 5 minutes to loosen.

In one stir-fry pan or wok add all peppers and snow peas (feel free to add any of your other favourite veggies to this wok as well). Add a bit of oil, about a tablespoon of soya sauce, and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the jar of Thai Sauce. Stir fry at med heat until the sauce has thickened slightly and the vegetables are well cooked.

In a second stir fry pan or wok add bean sprouts and lo-mein (can be substituted with a nice tri-color rotini pasta). Add a bit of oil, soya sauce, and just enough plum sauce to glaze the noodles and sprouts. Stir fry for about 5 - 7 minutes on med heat, until noodles are hot and sprouts have wilted.

Voila, serve veggies woks contents over the noodle contents. The veggies will spice up your mouth, the noodles will chill it out, and I guarantee you'll enjoy it (my roommates at university did when I first created this one)!



(We Loved This One! It is just as the contributor said - veggies spice up your mouth while the noodles coated in the plum sauce chill out your mouth. I was very surprised, since I'm not a big fan of green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers - but it was delicious! I didn't have Lo-Mein noodles, and instead used Angel Hair Spaghetti noodles. I also did not have snow peas, so did not use. We liked the results so well, that I would repeat again using the modified recipe as I made it. We will use the recipe as taste treat to ourselves and as special dish for company.)





Thai Cucumber Salad


2-3 whole cucumbers
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3-5 cloves garlic (to taste), minced
1 large shallot, minced
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Wash cucumbers well and peel (I like to leave some of the skin on for color, but it's of course optional). Slice in rounds as thinly as possible.

Place in bowl and cover with vinegar, sugar, and salt, stir to dissolve. Add garlic and shallot, mix well.

May be served immediately although I find the flavor improves if it's allowed to rest in the refrigerator for up to two hours. Add pepper flakes to taste when serving, if using.


(We enjoyed the salad like cucumbers with the spicy sweet taste - gets the taste buds going. Will make this one often, good use for cukes in the summer when cucumbers are garden plentiful)




Egg Rolls -
using recipe on the wrapper package. While I intended to make Spring rolls (not cooked - certainly not deep fried), I wound up having to go in a different direction. I had purchased the wrong type of wrappers which required cooking first. I will be sure to purchase the correct kind of wrappers next time as I wanted Spring Rolls, not Chinese type Egg Rolls. Anyway, I wound up following the recipe on the wrapper package, deep frying them or wok frying them - but nonetheless, this is not a 'healthy' kind of recipe.




Chop Suey


3 stalks celery, diced
half a small cabbage, diced
2 large onions, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
3 tablespoon oil
1 cup vegetable stock
half a teaspoon yeast extract
half a teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon corn flour
4 tablespoon water
salt & 125g bean sprouts

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pan, add all the vegetables except the bean sprouts and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, add the yeast extract and the soy sauce. Mix the cornflour and water, add to the vegetables, season and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and cook for a further 2 minutes. Serve with boiled rice.

(Well - the ol' Chop Suey which is not Thai and I think more a Chinese dish hybrided for Western palletes. This was filling and that makes it a good, thrifty type recipe for using those odds and ends veggies, and rice. I don't have corn flour, but I do have soy flour, so I used that instead. And I'm not sure what yeast extract is, but I do have nutritional yeast so I used that and perhaps it is the same thing. I think there are likely a number of Chop Suey recipes, so this one is probably not more or less outstanding than another Chop Suey recipe. It is after all Chop Suey.)




Chow Mein which is a recipe I already posted here (using chicken). I made this for us this week, using tofu instead of chicken and it was probably just as good. I would make it again because I love those crispy chow mein noodles!




Simple Thai Pizza


pizza crust (I use the easy, yummy, and Quick Pizza Crust recipe from this site or Rustic
Crust)
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
2 tablespoons peanut or sesame oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter, unsalted & all-natural
1/4 cup tamari
1 lime, juice only
1/2-1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (make sure to check label for fish sauce or shrimp
paste)
8 oz. of your choice of protein - Morningstar Farms Chicken Meal Starters, or Thai-Style
marinated baked tofu
1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup carrot, shredded or julienned
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450*F.

Mix the ginger in with the oil. Brush mixture (I use a silicone basting brush) across the pizza crust.

Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.

Mix together the peanut butter, tamari, lime juice and curry paste. Spread this on the crust and top with remaining ingredients. (TIP: If you are using MSF Meal Starters, put them on the pizza BEFORE the sauce and they will absorb lots of extra flavor.)

Bake for 10 additional minutes.

Makes a great appetizer for parties. Serves: 6-10 slices

Preparation time: 15 minutes prep + 10 minutes baking



(We appreciated this recipe as a replacement for our 'Friday Night' treat meal. We usually will have a store-bought DiGiorno's Pizza or I will make us Hoagies or Sweetie will bring home subway sandwhiches from Subways. Sometimes we would have a take out Chinese meal, but that was rare. So I made this Thai Pizza and it was Great! I used a refridgerator packaged prepared pizza crust. Followed the directions and ingredients list, using tofu (that I baked first) and it was a most interesting tasting pizza. I will make it again, but the sauce was a bit runny, not sure how to avoid that in future. Fun pizza for guests.)

 

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Three Soups, A big batch of Granola, and Eggplant Chips. What a day in the kitchen!

Three Soups Tonight!

New batch of Granola.  

 
 Eggplant Chips.



I got busy and made three different soups tonight to go with the big batch of rice I made yesterday. I also wanted to be sure that Sweetie would have 'leftovers' for the rest of the weekend and to take to work on Monday.

If we had a bigger refridgerator, I'd do the weekend making up meals ahead, but there is no way with the two of us we could get it all eaten. And I'm not real sure it's a good idea to be freezing the Thai food. While I'm sure it is entirely freezable, we are enjoying the taste of it cooked fresh with fresh ingredients. How does tofu freeze up after it's been cooked anyway? I suppose it does, but I'm not ready to find out yet.


And that is not all I made tonight. I made up another big batch of granola - the 5 cups of rolled oats recipe so we have our granola now for another week. For the granola, I combine two recipes, mixing and matching the ingredients as the mood strikes me and based on the ingredients we have on hand. Right now, we have a lot of ingredients for granola, so we are getting the 'deluxe' model.

Oh, remember the story of the Eggplant? Well, Sweetie can't say anything to me about another eggplant going to waste cause I cooked it up tonight - using a recipe called Eggplant Chips. They were quite tasty, not really chips, too soft but very tasty.

I talked to both my daughters this weekend. Daughter 1 - the Vegan Daughter has been doing some creative work with her blog, Veganville, and figured out how to have a 3 column blog, using Blogger. I want one too. She gave me the link for the tutorial and I made an 'experimental' blog to play around with and sure enough got it into 3 columns.

Daughter 2 - and she told me she has weekly cooking classes with some other women who are teaching each other how to cook 'ethnic' cuisines. Daughter 2 is learning how to cook Japanese and Phillipine foods. I was excited to learn that and asked her if she would blog her newly learned recipes. She said she would, so I am looking forward to seeing what she does with her newly learned skills. I figure with both daughters trying new foods and recipes and giving them ratings, then I can just borrow from their experience. And when they want to borrow from my experience, well, they can find recipes at this blog. Why do I keep saying that this is not a recipe/cooking blog when so far that is the majority of what I have put on this blog? Well, because right now I'm in the fever pitch of our project of converting to vegetarian, so that is where a lot of my attention is going right now.

Last night I made Suki Yaki (Japanese). I really enjoy suki yaki - it's one of my favorite Japanese meals. The recipe I used last night though left something to be desired. Either it was me, the chef, or the recipe, but that was not one of the better suki yaki meals I've had, either that I've prepared or on those rare occasions when we eat out. I'm not going to include the recipe here as I won't likely use it again. Maybe there wasn't enough sake in the liquid mixture - maybe too much daikon radish. I know I like to add extra ingredients like bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, mushrooms, bean sprouts, even if the recipe doesn't call for them.

Okay, so Sweetie tried all three soups tonight. How clever he is and you can see that in the photo. He found one of our old compartmentalized lunch containers, and it worked so handily for him to try one of each of the three soups. It looked so pretty, I made him wait while I took a photo. I sampled each of the soups and rather knew what I thought, so it was interesting to hear his ratings of the three soups.

Tofu/Pineapple Soup


2-1/4 cups soup base (1395 mg sodium)
1/2 cup (125 g) canned crushe'd pineapple, unsweetened
7/8 cups (212 g) canned diced tomatoes (385 mg sodium)
1 lb (454 g) tofu, bite sized pieces fried
1-1/8 cups (267 g) water
1-3/4 cups (210 g) diced Vietnamese celery (regular celery also works)
1-1/2 tablespoon (24 g) soy sauce (1140 mg sodium)

Directions:

1. Fry the tofu.
2. Place the: soup base, pineapple, tomatoes, tofu and water in a pot. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
3. Add the celery and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer. Turn off burner.
We usually eat this soup with rice. Serves: 6 Preparation time: 45 minutes


(We both really like this soup. It has a sweet but tangy taste to it. These are not ingredients I would have likely thought to mix. But now that I think of it, tomatoes and pineapple do go on pizza, so maybe they are compatible. I used a vegetable broth soup base. A thank you shout out to Kyo for providing the recipe at VegWeb.com)



Sweet Potato Curry with Sticky Rice


1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
2 small or 1 big sweet potato cubed
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
any other root vegetables, chopped
soy or vegan fish sauce (to taste)
cooking oil
2 cups uncooked sticky rice (also called sweet or glutinous rice)

Directions:

This is a super easy and super yummy recipe.

Curry:
Warm up some cooking oil in a pot, cook onion until softened. Add garlic and curry and stir for 2 minutes. Throw in the rest of the vegetables and stir until coated. Add the coconut milk and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked to your liking. I like my vegetables really soft so I cook them for a long time. Season with soy/vegan fish sauce.

Serve with rice.

Sticky Rice:
The rice should be rinsed and soaked for at least an hour before cooking. Boil a pot/wok with some water, just enough that it won't touch the bamboo steamer. Place the rice in a cheesecloth, or on top of some lettuce leaves so they don't fall through the steamer. Place the steamer in the wok/on the pot and steam for about 10 minutes. If you don't own a bamboo steamer, get one. Just for the rice, it's worth it!

Serves: 4 Preparation time: 30 minutes


(We gave this one a thumbs up. It's got that very Thai taste to it with using the red curry paste. Using the curry paste together with the sweet taste of the coconut milk was something new for us. And using in combination with sweet potato. I would make this recipe again. Although, I really prefer the taste of sweet potatoes cooked in more Western style, so while I would make this recipe again, I would more likely make another of the Thai with noodles recipes before I would this one. Only because I would use sweet potatoes in a different way. Sweetie liked the soup - gave it a thumbs up )



Curried Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Greens


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and sorted
2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 to 8 ounces Swiss chard or spinach
juice of 1 lemon or lime
salt to taste

Directions:

Both nourishing and sublimely satisfying, this thick soup incorporates fall's first sweet potatoes with seasonal greens. Red lentils, which cook to a warm golden color, are available in natural food stores and ethnic groceries. Serve with Chapatis or a store-bought flatbread.

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the water, followed by the lentils, sweet potatoes, and seasonings. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are mushy and the potatoes are done, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash the greens, remove stems and midribs, then slice into narrow shreds. Stir into the soup along with the lemon juice. If the soup is too thick, adjust the consistency with a small amount of water.

Continue to simmer gently until the greens are just done, about 5 minutes for spinach and 10 to 15 minutes for chard. Season with salt. Serve at once, or if time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two. Heat through before serving.

(We didn't care much for this one. It was not a Thai recipe. It was from a vegetarian recipe and while it was hardy enough, flavorful enough, it has the 'vegetarian' food quality to it. I'm just not ready to adjust my palette yet to what I consider to be somewhat bland tasting vegetarian recipes. It was a nice touch using sweet potato, and the lemon spiced up the flavor, but I'm not that fond of lentils, so it's hard to get around the fact that the soup has the taste of lentils. I would not likely use the recipe again, but I might in those early winter months. Sweetie didn't care much for the taste either).



Very Easy and Addictive Eggplant "Chips"


1 good eggplant, preferably organic
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (**less works fine too)
tamari to taste (about 1-2 tablespoons)
granulated garlic, to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Directions:

This recipe is ridiculously easy, but I practically make a meal out of it every week. Everyone else seems to love it, too.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pour the olive oil on the cookie sheet, along with the tamari and garlic. Swoosh the cookie sheet around to mix.
Slice eggplant into about 1/4" thick rounds. Place eggplant slices on cookie sheet. Turn each slice over to coat both sides. Bake for about 10 minutes on each side. (Turn over when browned on the bottom). They are done when they look caramelized on each side.

I pretty much eat this all to myself, along with a salad and maybe some bread or something. I am not sure why I love them so much, but I hope you will too!!

**For a lower fat version, you can just use a teaspoon or so of oil, and make up the rest of the liquid with a veggie broth. This works fine too. OR, you can use an oil spray and coat each side that way. (I have a reusable Misto sprayer that I refill with olive oil). Serves: 1 (if you are me) Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus bake time

( Have to give a thanks shout out to quintess for sharing this recipe. It wa good, very tasty and I will gladly make it again. Nifty use for eggplant and it baked up quickly. I don't know if I followed the recipe correctly in baking it, because what I got was not crunchy chips, but they were cooked and tasty. So woo hoo for this recipe, great snack and one I can eat all by myself whenever I want. Since I just love the shape and color of eggplant, I can pick one up at the grocery store any time now and know exactly what I want to do with it!)

 

 

Friday, February 23, 2007

Flexible Thai Soup and it is 'flexible' !

Last night it was Flexible Thai Soup. I am not sure how it is named 'flexible', likely because there is flexibility of vegetables used in the soup. We liked it, flavorful, great zing, good taste and I would make frequently. I didn't make the rice to go with the soup, so by itself, while filling, it was not a meal to hold us through the evening as we found ourselves in search of something to snack on late in the evening, even though I had added extra vegetables to the soup.

Today when I went to my recipe box at VegWeb to give a review to the recipe, I found many people already had given it a good review and added suggestions. I don't think I need to add another 'me too' review. One of the reviews points out that the list of ingredients are not 'hard to find' and yet the taste of the soup is authentic enough to be Thai. Hmm, yep, it was quite good.


Flexible Thai Soup



1 shallot, chopped
2 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
a few drops of chili sauce to taste
2 tablespoon soy sauce (the original called for Thai fish sauce)
flexible part - 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, or 1 cup sugar snap or snow peas, or 1 cup water chestnuts, or 1 cup black mushroom

Directions:

Serves 2 to 4.

Saute shallot, garlic and ginger in a small amount of vegetable oil. Add coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, Turn down to simmer. Add cilantro, lemon juice, chili sauce, fish sauce (or alternative ) and vegetables. Simmer until spinach is wilted and veggies are tender but not limp, approximately 5 minutes. Serve with rice.


Listing suggestions for additions/alternatives;

- alternative to using coconut milk = rice milk, low-fat milk, light coconut milk, coconut water, coconut powder, diluted coconut milk, one of the reviews explains how to make coconut milk using unsweetened coconut flakes. (I think I will consider cost comparison between using coconut flakes and the canned Thai coconut milk product)

- additional add ins = (I added green onions, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts), carrots, snap peas, tofu squares, asparagus, green beans, peanut butter, curry paste, lemongrass,basil, bamboo shoots.

- don't like too much lemon, use less in the recipe. Try using lime was another suggestion.

(Well, I guess that is why it is called 'flexible' Thai soup - grin)

 

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Oh - oops - Galangal is not ginger


Lesser Galangal (Alpinia officinarum)

Wikipedia says otherwise and describes it this way;

However, it tastes little like ginger; in its raw form, it has a soapy, earthy aroma and a pine-like flavor with a faint hint of citrus.

.......

A mixture of galangal and lime juice is used as a tonic in parts of Southeast Asia. Medicinally, it has the effect of an aphodisiac, and acts as a stimulant.


More at Wikipedia, and I can see that I will want to get this galangal for use in my Thai cooking project. I want to try to be close to the real thing, and not the hybrided Western versions of the recipes. So galangal it is then. I wonder if I can grow it in my herb garden? From the picture below it looks kinda pretty -- Hmmm.


Kaempferia galanga

 

 

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thai Peanut Linguine - Lemongrass, Galangal, Kafir Lime - what does it all mean?

Tonight it was Thai Peanut Linguine and I wasn't disappointed. I was eager to try one of the recipes using Thai Coconut Milk. However, it was too soon after the Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles that I made earlier this week. Now we have peanut noodle leftovers to last out the rest of the week. Good in as much as Sweetie has guaranteed lunches but more noodles than we are used to having in a weeks time. It's like having a spaghetti type meal twice a week (the flavor is nothing like spaghetti, I just used that for frame of reference), so a bit much then, with the noodles this week.


Oh, and the can of Thai coconut milk indicates 'over 200 recipes online at www.ATasteofThai.com. So I will be checking that site out. If I want to open pdf files (and I don't), this site has some categorized cookbook recipes you can download in pdf format. I'll just stick with the categorized recipes they offer.


The Thai Peanut Linguine recipe called for coconut milk, green curry sauce, peanut butter, tofu, vegetables and linguine, whereas the Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles recipe called for peanut sauce, vegetables, tofu and rice noodles. Different ingredients, but similar in taste. The linguine was not as spicy, and the coconut milk seems to have a slightly sweet flavor that smoothes out the spices. I didn't have 'rice flour' to coat the tofu, but had some 'soy flour' and used that - and I don't think there was probably a great deal of difference. But I added rice flour to my grocery list for future shopping.


Tofu, becoming a staple at our house. It becomes an acquired taste.

What I learned though, about green curry sauce, will help me quite a bit with the rest of the Thai recipes. Some of the recipes I plan to use call for ingredients I didn't find and don't yet have, so I was rather wondering how I was going to complete the set of recipes over the next two weeks.

Ingredients in Thai green curry sauce;

- green chili
-garlic
-lemongrass
-galangal = Thai ginger
-salt
-pepper
-coriander
-cumin
-kafir lime


Oh, what a nice surprise since many of the Thai recipes call for an assortment of these ingredients. I wonder then, if I can 'substitute' a bit of Thai green curry sauce in those recipes where I don't have lemongrass, galangal, kafir lime, green chili. I don't yet know what 'kafir lime' is and how it is different than regular lime (which is what I bought - regular limes). I had no idea what galangal is until I read the ingredients on the Thai green curry sauce bottle. So I'm guessing that galangal = Thai ginger since that is what it says on the bottle. I thought it was going to be some exotic grass ingredient that I wouldn't likely readily find. I have ginger - fresh ginger - and bought plenty of it. So I wonder how Thai ginger is different than ginger?

I found this place,Thai Table.com that lists Thai ingredients and the Thai pronounciation, but I'm not sure that will help me much.

I can quickly see that substitutions for some of the Asian noodles can be met by noodles more familiar to me, ie, angel hair pasta, linguine, thin spaghetti. I think I prefer the rice-noodles and now that I am starting to get a sense of how these Thai recipes translate to more familiar to us Westerner ingredients, I will be able to adapt the recipes when I cannot find the Thai specific ingredients.

If I want to open pdf files (and I don't), here are some pdf recipes.

Recipe below and a thank you shout out to EAM

Thai Peanut Linguine

1 brick extra firm tofu
1/2 pound frozen vegetables (peas, mushrooms, corn, etc)
2 carrots
1/2 bulb garlic (5-6 cloves)
1 bunch scallions
1-2 inch fresh ginger
green curry paste
2 to 4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 14.5 ounce coconut milk
1 pound linguine
sesame oil
rice flour

Directions:

For tofu: cube and coat with rice flour. Deep fry until outside is crispy.

For sauce: chop scallions, garlic and grate ginger. Fry in 2 tablespoons or so of sesame oil until cooked. Add in the coconut milk, then some curry paste. Add peanut butter and curry paste until it tastes good.

Shred the carrots, then add them and the frozen vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are done.

Toss the pasta with some sesame oil, then add the sauce and mix up.

(my note; the recipe doesn't say what to do with the tofu after you fried it, so I just mixed it in with the sauce and mixed the sauce into the noodles)

 

Monday, February 19, 2007

Our Beginning - Vegetarian Lifestyle - Recipe; Thai - Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles

We are converting to vegetarian lifestyle. And I've done this a couple of times before, so have a bit of an idea where we are headed. I am old enough to remember the health food of the Seventies and pleased to see that in 2000 there are more choices. I converted us strictly to Dr Ornish diet before, and that was great, and I will borrow again from those recipes. But to really kick us off I wanted to try some flavorful, spicy vegetarian recipes - Meditteranean, Indian, and Asian. I don't exactly know how to cook ethnically so I will need to follow recipes and instructions.

I went back to one of my bookmarked saved sites - VegWeb.com, got myself a membership and went off in search of Thai recipes. Pleasant and happy surprise, as there are many Thai recipes there, and I began saving several to my recipe box. Oh, and the site gives you the convenience of creating a grocery list for your recipes saved to your recipe box. And .... it lets you add the recipes to your weekly menu. I am pleased to have created a menu for two weeks, a comprehensive grocery list and you can print out the recipes there too. A nifty one stop shopping center online with others who are vegetarian, vegan sharing their tried and true recipes. What a great community!

After I compiled everything and knew where I wanted to get started, Sweetie and I went grocery shopping this weekend. Our choices require that we travel, an hour or more where-ever we decide to go - Washington or Oregon. I lined out choices for Natural and Organic Food Co-op in Astoria, Aberdeen or Olympia. Or Trader Joes in Vancouver or Tacoma. Or Fred Meyers for the bin foods and health food section. Fred Meyers in Astoria, Tacoma, Vancouver and I would imagine in Olympia. Not in Aberdeen. But Safeway too may have plentiful choices in health and natural food section - we haven't been to Safeway in a while, so not sure how much they've developed their health food section. Safeway in each of the cities that are within our range.

We discussed the advantages and disadvantages. I love Natural and Organic Food Co-op stores but find them a tad too spendy. I love Trader Joes but it carries more 'prepared' foods than pantry type items that I need for this first run. So it is good ol' Fred Meyers or Safeway. I know from experience that Fred Meyers offers a wide enough choice of what I need in produce, health food and bin food and I will have to check out Safeway sometime for comparison. I decided on Fred Meyer - Warrenton, Oregon (right across the bridge from Astoria, Oregon).

Sweetie was quite patient with the shopping and yes, I am surprised, since he is usually in a hurry to get in, get what we need and get out. But we don't know the layout or products I will be purchasing, so knew this shopping trip would take a lot longer than our 'usual'. He was patient right up until I put ten tofu packages in the shopping cart. He wasn't seeing how I could use that much tofu in two weeks time.

Well....I showed him my shopping list so he could see for himself, and he loaded the tofu without another word. We looked over the bin food and were pleased enough with the prices until we got to nuts and dried fruits (for the granola) -- uh, NOT - no way am I paying prices like that for dried fruit or nuts. Guess it's time to get out the dehydrator. Okay, so we have raisins, cranberries, bananas, blueberries and that will have to do for granola cause I'm just not paying those kinds of prices for dried fruit or nuts.

I see tons of prepared 'health foods' now, and I did a bit of cost comparison between pantry products needed to make and prepared, packaged health food products. I think, not unlike most grocery shopping I do whether healthy, vegetarian or otherwise, the same principle applies - less spendy to make your own than to buy prepared and packaged products. But I can see where it makes it easier for say single people, like my son, who is primarily vegetarian to have the prepared, packaged products which he can easily then cook up.



We got to the produce and I just love fresh produce....yes, it's more healthy at natural/organic food stores, I know, or better yet, farmers' market when in season ... but I still love the colors and sense of freshness, freshly preparing food for us to eat. It's good Sweetie was with me, cause I do tend to overdo the produce, and then we have to do a tetris game to fit it all into the refridgerator when we get home.

Sweetie is the refridgerator Testris guy - he fits it where it doesn't look like it could fit, so I'm glad for his spatial visual acuity in that regard. I have long said that I wish we could have a commercial size glass cooler instead of a refridgerator. Actually, we had to replace the refridgerator last year and I wanted an all refridgerator, no freezer. There was a model like that, but we quickly learned the measurements and dimensions were too large for the refridgerator space created among our cabinets. We aren't likely to be remodeling kitchen cabinets soon, so I have what I have. Option 2 is second refridgerator in the basement. But I digress.



Produce - and I love the color of Eggplant. I don't like the taste of Eggplant, but I like the color and think it's a great vegetable to look at even if it isn't tasty. I buy one from time to time, and they go bad quickly if not used promptly, I find, so I wind up tossing more often than using when I do buy Eggplant. Well, I knew that and didn't worry too much about it, since it costs 99 cents. It's rather like flowers to me - pretty to look out and won't last too long. I didn't know Sweetie was paying attention to my Eggplant quirk. He growled when I put one in the basket and didn't say much, but later he casually mentioned that I seem to throw out Eggplant when I purchase one, rather than cook and use.


He's right. On the ride home, though, since he brought it up, I wanted to revisit the Eggplant issue. Explaining to him all of the above - the color, the inexpensive cost, the visual, the boring taste and the privilege of a wife's little pleasure to enjoy - what the heck does it matter to him whether I cook it or keep it till it has to be tossed out and since when is he counting 99 cents as food waste? He saw where this was going and conceded quickly, but now between us we have a reference point - Eggplant - and we will joke about it into our future. In fact, I asked him to start buying me an Eggplant when he buys me flowers since I tend to see them in the same context.

Grocery shopping concluded, and I realized I hadn't made it clear to Sweetie that I was taking us vegetarian using mostly Thai recipes. What! He wasn't prepared for that and wasn't too keen on two-three weeks of Thai food. No, no, I said, not strictly Thai, but mostly Thai and here is why. It's spicy, flavorful, vegetarian, uses peanuts, peanut butter, chiles, cilandro, curry and seems like a good way for us to shift to vegetarian without going through the boing food recipes with seitan, tempeh, and Boca burgers - the usual range of vegatarian foods items trying to imitate something they are not. Besides, I'm just not ready to take myself there yet and learning to cook Thai is a challenge.

He still wasn't too happy with it and concerned that we had bought the pantry items, produce and that I wouldn't cook it. Well..... there isn't much other choice, now is there, cause that is what I bought and there is little to fall back on, so I rather have to teach myself to cook Thai. And I like a good challenge from time to time.

I was inspired to think Thai since we have in our little region some refugee families from Cambodia and Laos and there is a grocery store that stocks the kinds of ingredients that go into Thai and other Asian cooking. It advertised it had Thai food, and I was pleased that we had another restaraunt choice in the area, but as it turned out, when we went for a treat ourselves to Thai dinner for our anniversary, she said No Restaraunt - no Help - no cooked Thai food.
Oh, well there goes our anniversary dinner treat. (We still did go out to anniversary dinner - our favorite Mexican restaraunt in the area - not Thai, but still quite good and the owner gave us no-charge fried ice cream to celebrate our anniversary)

We looked around the store, and I was so impressed by the items, but knew little about what any of it was or how to combine or use. What's the difference between all these noodles, and the writing is not in English, so it's Japanese, or Chinese, or other Asianian languages and that isn't going to do me a lot of good. We talked to the shopkeeper, and told her I was impressed but didn't know how to cook Thai - did she have a cookbook for sale? No, she said, she didn't.

As we were leaving the store, though, she called us back over and told us she would order a Thai cookbook for us - from her country. Wait, I said, I need it to be in English. Yes, she said - English - will order it for you. We left her my husband's business card and she can phone him when (if) the how to cook Thai written in English from her native country comes in. He works in town, so can pick it after work and bring it home, save me a drive into town. As you can see, then, Thai cooking or learning to cook Thai has been on my mind. I'm anxious to return to her store armed with more practice and knowledge and be able to shop there knowing what I am looking for and how to use the ingredients.

I wrote all of this to get to this point and place. I cooked our first Thai meal tonight, using the recipe I found at VegWeb.com and it was Marvelous! I have to thank Leslie for posting the recipe there. You can try the recipe and I'll bet you thank her too! So I thought I would include in the blog those recipes that I am learning and trying over the next two weeks to rate them as good, and we will keep these to use again and again, or not so good and won't use again. The one below is an absolute keeper!


Vegan Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles


Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1 package of rice noodles
1 bottle of Trader Joes Thai sesame/peanut dipping sauce (it is vegan and has no preservatives) or you can use any vegan thai peanut sauce
1 package of baked tofu, Thai flavored by Nasoya
1 bag of frozen vegetables, I use broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
3 or 4 green onions sliced
2 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
soy sauce to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
fresh chopped cilantro to taste
chopped peanuts to garnish

Directions:

Boil your rice noodles till they are tender, drain and rinse with cold water, set aside. Steam or microwave the veggies, set aside. Combine sauce, pb, oil, soy sauce and pepper flakes in a small bowl, set aside. (The sauce is great by itself but I find it is not quite peanuty enough for me.) Cut the tofu into small cubes and set aside. Combine everything in a great big pot. stir well, heat through. Add cilantro at the last minute. serve with peanuts on top. eat with chopsticks... mmmmmmmm

p.s. This is a recipe that is even better the next day and is fabulous cold.

Serves: lots

Preparation time: 20 minutes

 

Starting here.


 

 

 

 

 

Pemanent Grocery List

Placing our permanent grocery list at this blog...according to RealAge
(which by no means is a final authority).
This is our personalized healthy lifestyle changes
for our food intake given our ages,
and lifestyle habits.

It's a good place to start,
good enough and common sense kind of thing,
so this is our starting place.

 

Dairy

  • 2% milk
  • egg whites
  • ricotta cheese
  • swiss cheese
  • tofu
  • yogurt
 

Fruits

  • 4 fruit servings daily
  • apricots
  • bananas
  • black currants
  • boysenberries
  • cantalope
  • cranberries
  • figs
  • mangos
  • oranges
  • peaches
  • strawberries
  • tangerines
 

Vegetables

  • 5 servings vegetables daily
  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • corn
  • green bell peppers
  • orange bell peppers
  • peas
  • potatoes
  • spinach
  • sweet potatoes
  • tomatoes
 

Meat = Fish 3 x wk; Chicken (red meat limited to 4 ounce serving a week)

  • cod
  • haddock
  • pike
  • salmon
  • sardines
  • scrod
  • shellfish
  • skinless chicken
  • tuna
  • white fish (not breaded)
 

Grains, Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Lentils

  • 1 ounce nuts daily
  • 6-11 daily servings whole grain intake
  • almonds
  • barley
  • beans
  • chick peas
  • flax seed
  • fortified breads
  • fortified cereal
  • fortified pastas
  • garbanzo beans
  • high fiber whole grain bread or cereal
  • lentils
  • nut oil
  • oatmeal
  • oats
  • rice
  • rye
  • small slice bread w/ olive oil before eating a meal
  • soy beans
  • soya noodles
  • walnuts
  • wheat
  • wheat germ
 

Miscellaneous food items

  • 1 glass wine daily
  • 10 minute walks - 4 x daily
  • 10 tablespoons a week of cooked tomato products /7 servings tomato based dishes a week
  • 64 ounces water daily
  • Daily Lietta - 400 IU Vitamin B, 1200 milligrams calcium in addition to daily vitamin/mineral intake
  • Daily vitamins for Arthur - 3000 milligrams = calcium, folic acit, Vitamins C, E, mineral supplements, potassium
  • eat tomatoes with healthy fat, ie avocados
  • Folate - 500 micro grams daily
  • juice - cranberry
  • juice - grapefruit
  • juice - tomato juice
  • juice - V-8 juice
  • no high fructose corn syrup - instead simple sugars
  • peanut butter
  • real chocolate - 70 % chocolate - not milk chocolate
  • vegetables instead of bread
  • Vitamin C = 1200 milligrams daily