Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Vegan for Earth Day

I don't proselytize too much, but on this day, Earth Day, it's a good idea to think about how your diet affects our environment. Among environmentalists, some debates can get pretty heated between those who eat meat and consume animal products and those who don't. "You're not a real environmentalist if you're not a vegetarian" is a typical assertion and though I feel that any reduction in meat and animal product consumption is a good step, I do agree with that statement. It would take many years of riding your bike to work to make up for the environmental damage caused by the meat a typical American consumes in just a month. The damage comes from all the water they consume (including the water used to irrigate the crops of the food they eat), energy used to grow their food, emissions and waste from the farms, energy used from transportation and storage...the list is long. And really, it's kind of silly to feed tons (literally) of food to grow less food. The grains fed to farm animals could feed many more people.

So think about cutting back on your consumption of meat and animal products along with using CFLs and re-usable shopping bags. It's really not that hard. I'm not completely vegan myself, but in honor of Earth Day, I am eating vegan all day. Banana for breakfast, almonds for a snack, a salad of baby romaine with roasted walnut oil and fleur de sel for lunch, grapes for an afternoon snack, and Sesame Ginger Tofu Noodle Salad for dinner. With locally-made FarmSoy tofu! Which, I hope will make me feel less guilty about eating fruit from South America and lettuce from California.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Christmas Lima Beans Three Ways

Though I'm still working through a pile o' beans from the last time I ordered from Rancho Gordo, I ordered more earlier this week. I mean, who can resist an "Indian Yellow Woman Bean"? And I ordered more of a bean I cooked up over the weekend: the Christmas Lima Bean. Because it was that good.

I'm not sure why it's called a Christmas Lima because it doesn't seem to be all that festive-looking. Mayhaps it's because people associate chestnuts with Christmas and this bean is said to have a chestnut flavor. I choose my words carefully because I don't know what a chestnut tastes like. I'm sure I've had one--maybe even one that's been roasted on an open fire, but the taste memory didn't stick with me.

Anyhoo, these beans? They taste good. Mostly. Once in a while, a bean will taste a bit too "earthy" for my preference, but overall, they're yummy. Also, they're HUGE. I didn't realize that when I dumped the whole bag in a bowl to soak and within an hour they'd doubled in size. Oops. That's why the title of this post is "Christmas Lima Beans Three Ways"--three ways in five days for me but just three ways in three days for the SO.

Day #1: The beans spent all day in the crockpot with nothing but water and salt. By dinner time, they were ready for our first meal. I prepared some of the Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend in some vegetable broth, spooned a generous portion of beans on top and served it with some sauteed asparagus. The taste of the beans stands up pretty well on its own, so this was a good meal.

Day #2: I decided to get a little more adventurous. I wasn't ready to puree them into a hummus just yet, though. So I got out some goat cheese, fluffed it up with some hot water, added some herbs de Provence and toasted some small baguette wedges served with some bruschetta topping. The beans worked really well with the Italian-inspired flavors. With some of the toast, we spread the goat cheese and topped it with beans and with others, it was just the bruschetta topping with the beans. Delicious.

Day #3: For reasons no cares about, I'd still not gone to the grocery, so I had to make do with whatever I could find around the house. And, actually, this one was my favorite. I pan fried some polenta, set pieces of it on a bed of arugula, piled on some chunky tomato sauce (with a little more oil and balsamic vinegar so it could serve as a salad dressing) and then topped it all with some sauteed beans. And, okay, a little bit of parmigiano on top and a couple of pinches of fleur de sel. Very tasty!

After three dinners, I STILL had beans. So I had some beans with the leftover harvest grain mix for lunch one day this week and well, I just don't know exactly what I will do with that one last serving of beans in the fridge. They will be eaten somehow, some way, though. They're too good to compost. But next time? I'll just soak and cook a third of the package.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vegetarians merely tolerate food?

Last night, I tried to make a nice thai ginger stir-fry. Unfortunately, I thought I could do this from memory. All I wanted was the sauce! But, the heat was too high and I ended up with little, sticky ginger balls in my oil. Lesson learned: low heat, not medium heat. The stirfry was still pretty good. Saved by some pre-packaged Thai dumplings from Trader Joe's. Which, I might add, I cooked perfectly...according to the instructions. Anyhoo, no photos of the debacle. Instead, I give you "Do a pig a favour! Ban vegetarianism now!" for you to laugh.
Vegetarians never love food. They merely tolerate it.

Ha! I think we all know that is not true!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Books and books and more books

During the course of my work day, I come across the titles of a lot of books from the past, present and the future. Frankly, most of them don't particularly interest me (curse of working on the internet all day: my attention span is narrow and my desire to read after I leave work is low). But today, I came across news of a book, An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage and was intrigued.

One of my frequents quips about being a vegetarian is that it's no longer the Ice Age, so I don't have to eat what's dumber or slower than I'm curious to read about the history behind so much of what we eat. And I'm curious about how vegetarianism is addressed. Unfortunately, the book won't be released until next month! So my insider advantage is non-existent on this one. SOL. However, I'm thinking about another of the author's books, A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Hmm.

And it just so happens I got an email today about a book, Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen--The New Green Basics Way. Unfortunately (I've had a day of misfortune today), the email included a greeting and a few .jpgs and nothing else. I should probably reply to the sender. With hopes of being sent a review copy. That would be nice. Though they may be preaching to the choir.