Monday, January 19, 2009

for the foodies...and also for people who eat

i know not all 5 of you that read my blog (wishful thinking, i know) are foodies but i know that all of you eat. for those of you that aren't food-o-philes, the video posted below is a quick and easy way to make a decent meal that doesn't involve processed crap. for those of you that are a bit more culinarily inclined, it's one chef's take on a deconstructed eggplant parmesan. deconstructed dishes seem to be popular these days and this one is as simple as it gets.

mise en place aside, the cooking of this dish takes one minute and uses few and easy to assemble ingredients. any chef'll tell you that the key to a good dish is simple, fresh, thoughtfully assembled ingredients and though i haven't made this one yet (it ain't eggplant season), it looks pretty awesome.

*disclaimer: i don't condone the cream and cheese used in this recipe and i will certainly substitute the appropriate animal-free product when the time comes....but you can do whatever you want :-)*


Sunday, January 18, 2009

making new friends: a tutorial anecdote

the set-up
most dog-training texts will tell you that just before you leave a dog by itself, you should give it some kind of command. this command (stay, sit, lay down, etc.) allegedly puts the dog in an obedient frame of mind and discourages self-indulgent destructive behavior. as the experts recommend, upon parting, i try to leave my pups with a command in hopes that our stuff wont be destroyed while when i return. i use this technique in the car as well. when i'm running errands and the mutts are tagging along, i tell them to "stay" in the car just before i shut the door and walk away. i also usually glance back at the dogs as i'm walking away and put my hand up in a mime-like fashion as if i'm visually reaffirming the "stay" command. *this becomes important in a second*

the story
one day recently i went to a used bookstore not far from home and took the dogs along with me. as i've just explained, i commanded the dogs to "stay" and walked toward the door of the store. i mounted the step just in front of the bookstore's entryway and reached for the door handle. as i was reaching for the door, i turned my head momentarily back toward the dogs to issue the customary final silent command.

the clincher
unbeknownst to me, an older lady was coming out of the bookstore at the very same moment and by some serendipitous combination of the height of my reaching hand, her slight stature, and our mutual preoccupations, my outstretched appendage found not the cold aluminum of the door handle but landed squarely in the center of her....cleavage. it was not a glancing blow or anything that could have been ignored at all. in fact, i doubt i could have done better if i'd bought her dinner beforehand. we exchanged wordless blushing horrified half-smiles and both promptly put our heads down and continued on our respective ways never to mention it again...unless you have a blog.

so to all you socially inept folks out there who have been looking for a good way to meet new people, try the ol' reach-for-the-door-handle-and-look-the-other-way technique. works every time.



Monday, January 12, 2009

the cure for what ails ya

today we celebrate one year of colorado residency and only now are we truly adjusting to the temperamental and rapidly changing weather patterns here. we're starting to realize that when it's sunny and 65 degrees in january one day, we're sure to be battered by frigid winds and fluffy snow the very next. it is on these bone-biting days when nothing will do to warm and comfort but a bowl of steaming, savory, flavorful soup. our faithful standby to fight the chill is a veganized pho (pronounced "fuh") recipe that will beat back the heartiest cold or flu or just thaw your insides. without further ado:

4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1T soy sauce
2 star anise
2 clove
3" cinnamon stick
4 cloves of garlic (smashed)
1/2 inch chunk of peeled ginger (chunked)
1 lime
1/2 lb thin-to-medium rice noodles
3 scallions (finely sliced)
2 thai chiles or other spicy chile (chopped finely)
1/2 lb bean sprouts
handful of chopped cilantro
slightly smaller handful ripped thai basil leaves

simmer the vegetable broth, water, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and star anise in a medium sauce pan for about half an hour to create the rich flavorful broth. prepare the rice noodles according to package directions (usually involving a quick dunk in boiling water). when the noodles are just-tender (don't cook 'em to mush), rinse them with water until the water runs clear, then drain. pile into nice big bowls, squeeze half the lime into the broth, and pour the hot broth over the noodles. top generously with the scallions, chiles, bean sprouts, cilantro, and basil. garnish with hoisin sauce and the lime wedges for a final dash of brightness.

it's easy, it's cheap, it's aromatic, it's supremely comforting, and...well...just plain transcendent. don't be afraid. go to your local asian (preferably vietnamese) market, get your fixin's, and go pho yourself!



Tuesday, January 6, 2009

in a vegan pickle

DVR = digital video recorder. device which records pre-selected offerings from our Direct TV service and saves them for endless frittering away of time that i should spend doing something productive. the thing'll hold a lot but, as with any storage system, old stuff needs to be cleared to make way for new. it's this task that i've grown exceptionally good at of late (and she says i never clean...ha!) and when i have my "cleaning" sessions, it's usually a show about food.

as any foodie will tell you, there is the normal pedestrian cooking drivel (rachel ray, sandra lee, guy fieri, etc.) and there are the standouts who haven't sacrificed their culinary integrity for the machine. these culinarians, namely jamie oliver and gordon ramsay, whose shows i have been watching, exhibit simultaneously complementing and contrasting elements (like any successful dish) and have re-ignited my love of and quest for gastronomical knowledge. gordon's curt and abrasive language and demanding kitchen codeare the perfect foil for jamie's endearing common english brogue and laid-back rustic cooking style.

now comes the pickle (pun fully intended). i've long wanted to go to some kind of culinary school and am feeling that tug pretty strongly now. my problem is that i'll surely have to renounce my vegan ways to follow the curriculum at any traditional school and actualize my dream of having my own restaurant. **yes i know i could open a vegan restaurant (and would LOVE to) but to work my way up to that level, i'm certain i'll have to do my time in non-vegan kitchens** in the immortal words of pooh, "oh, bother."

i'm constantly reading cookbooks, poring over various media on gastronomy, and collecting ideas for a vegan SLOW food place (on-premise/locally grown produce, international menu selections, composting, all organic food, etc) but i can scarcely get around the fact that i'll have to walk a non-vegan path to get there.

what say you? please share your thoughts. send a link to this post to your foodie friends and ask them to weigh in. in the meantime, if you want to expand YOUR vegan cooking repertoire, check out a couple of my other favorite blogs, Vegan Dad and Everyday Dish.