My mom and I went to Ikea and Save-on-Foods yesterday, and I got some neat stuff.
Thai chiles: they're tiny and cute, but REAL spicy! I tried just a tiny little bit and I could still feel the burn 15 minutes later.
Rambutan! More on that later. ;)
Okra! More on those later in this post, too.
Shiitake mushrooms! (for miso soup... more on THAT later as well)
Two awesome spice blends- Moroccan and African. Mmm.
Yellow split peas: just because! Dino posted a split pea falafel recipe on the Vegan Freak Forums, plus World Vegetarian has plenty of exciting recipes with these bad boys.
And, from Ikea.... a MORTAR and PESTLE! Who needs a coffe grinder? I can grind up my quinoa into flour with this! Aha.
Girl vs. Rambutan
I couldn't help wantign to eat this strange fruit right away, so I grabbed a knife and got cracking!
The skin was kinda thick and tough, but peeled away easily once I got in there.
Eep, looks like an egg!
It was really yummy, though. The taste was a lot like a lychee, if you just happen to be familiar with those.
And all that was left was the seed....
I've never, ever, ever had okra before. As I had no idea as to how to prepare this odd vegetable, I turned to Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian (from the library) and the internet. Well, I came across dozens of recipes for fried okra (no thanks) and gumbos, but I wasn't in the mood for either. So I just thought, "DOWN WITH THE MAN! DOWN WITH THE SYSTEM! I'LL DO WHAT I WANT WITH MY OKRA!"
So, I started off by washing & drying completely, like it said to do in World Vegetarian.
I made a nice little stir-fried dish, and here's how it went:
Okra with tomato and pepper
serves one with a bit of leftovers for tomorrow
2 tsp canola oil
Fresh chopped Thai red chile to taste- I used maybe 4 little slices. It's hot stuff!
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
11 okra 'pods'
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
Place oil in a frying pan or wok over medium-high to high heat. When the oil is hot, add chile, garlic, and onion. Saute until onion is almost transculent. Turn heat down to medium
Stir in okra and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add tomato and bell pepper. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add 1/4 cup of water and cover. Check periodically in case something burns! The okra should be done after about 7 minutes, or when it's tender.
Exceptionally colourful and just as tasty! It's real easy, too. I love when the okra releases that weird, viscous goo. So cool!
And, of course, miso soup. I'm not going to post the recipe, because it was just too simple! 4 ingredients; that's all. This is one of those times when less really IS more!
Admittedly, it turned out more like a stew than a soup, but yummy nonetheless.
(I like how the sun had been painted onto the bowl in juuuust the right place! Sunrise soup :D )
I was really flattered when my mom told me that my miso 'stew' was good- she's been to Japan!
Ok, fine. I'll divulge the recipe. I warned you though- it's realllly basic and effortless!
Easy-peasy Miso Soup
3 cups water
100g/3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms- remove the stems and slice the caps.
3 leaves kale- remove tough inner stem and cut into strips
1 1/2 to 2 tbsp miso (to taste), made into a slurry by mixing it with a bit of water.
Bring water to an almost-boil, then stir in mushrooms and kale. Turn down the heat to medium-low. When kale is cooked, maybe 3 minutes, take the pot of the heat and stir in miso slurry. And serve!
Green onions would be a lovely addition.
The letter to the Edmonton Journal (see this post) has been written and sent! Here's what I said:
In Monday's Body & Health section, in the 'Ask an Expert' a reader sent in a question about whether it's hard to be a vegan of vegetarian these days because 'everything contains animal byproducts'.
Contrary to what one might think, NOT everything contains animal products. Sure, there are times when you have to watch out for whey in your margarine or gelatin in your sunflower seeds, of all things, but by living on whole plant foods it's not hard at all. This means whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds.
If that's not your thing, there are plenty of vegan prepared foods as well- some of which, like veggie burgers and frozen dinners, can be found at mainstream grocery stores as well as health food stores.
Also, Michael Gaenzle makes the point that vitamins B12, folate, and calcium can be difficult to obtain enough of on a vegan diet.
To begin with, vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and fungi in the soil. Meat-eaters and lacto-ovovegetarians get this nutrient from the animals that eat these micro-organisms in their feed. Unfortunately, vegans can't depend on the soil for their B12 because of pesticides, so must depend on fortified foods and supplements. This is a simple matter of consuming nutritional yeast, fortified soymilk or meat analogues, or taking an adequate supplement.
On the other hand, folate is a nutrient that is plentiful in vegan and vegetarian diets. In fact, those eating a plant-based diets can obtain 20% to 50% more folate than they need! (source: Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina). Good plant sources of folate include romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils.
Finally, calcium can be plentiful in the vegan diet in many forms- calcium-rich greens like kale and broccoli, calcium-set tofu, fortified non-dairy milks, super-grains like quinoa, figs, almonds, and supplemented forms, if necessary. Really, it's not difficult at all. These sources are generally much better choices than cow's milk, anyway- cow's milk is for baby cows!
As a side note, there are indeed gelatin-free, vegan marshmallows. They can be purchased online at Vegan Essentials or at other similar sites.
I hope that my letter will be published. Cross your fingers!