Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When St. Louis Food Bloggers Gather (A Taste of Indian Street Food)

This was our first course--a "dosa" crepe made to perfection with a lentil and eggplant sauce. This had such wonderful flavor and texture--the dosa/crepe itself tasted like "air" with a touch of crunch and the eggplant sauce was the perfect match--flavored to perfection with the likes of coriander, coconut, curry leaves and funugreek seeds. This dosa did not get flipped over a second time--cooked only on one side. It is made from a fermented mixture of ground rice and lentils. We were all agog at this and asked "How were you able to grind to such a smooth consistency?" Lucky girl owns a contraption that is fairly common in India for just such work--grinding into fine powder lentils and rice. I imagine this sitting in her kitchen just awaiting it's next assignment. (*We all thought about using a Vita Mixer--of which I do not own yet--to make it accessible to our own kitchens. For now, I really think our best bet is to go to the global food store and purchase the pre-ground items separately and follow her instruction.)   
This is a mound of yukon gold potatoes (aka, potato cake)-- that were peeled and put through a ricer, then shaped and fried. That's it. A little salt was added. We had these with a chickpea curry!

This is Nupur, our wonderful instructor of all things Indian Street Food--cooking us up some amazing food!

Okay, I had to have four of these. I could have easily eaten six, maybe even eight. After all, it is only potato and chickpeas! But the amazing-tasting chickpea curry was topped with a tamarind chutney (she mashes up her own tamarind, but said it would be okay to use the jar kind--which would have been my only option since I've never seen tamarind in person). The chutney was made with "jaggery"--an unrefined sugar made right in Nupur's own home state in India. She extoled the sugar's fine quality and nutrient value given it's origin and lack of processing. (I must get my hands on some of this!) The dish is then topped off with noodles that were fried--made from chickpeas! Who knew?

First, last night's gathering with fellow St. Louis food bloggers was filled with some darn fine food coordinated by a wonderful host and wonderful instructor. It was so fun to see the faces of folks and learn what blogs they run and what their passions are. (Mostly food, or else why would we be there?)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vegan Thai Green Curry Tribute Dish for Jamie Oliver (Get off The Sofa!)

This Thai Green Curry dish with asparagus and sugar snap peas is topped off with a homemade lime curry sauce that Jamie offers in his cookbook, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. This incredible curry and veggie combo is then sauteed in lowfat coconut milk. I let my dish share the spotlight with Match Meats crab-ettes (just small Match crab cakes). In Jamie's version, he used shrimp. I added my own "seafood" jolt by crumbling nori seaweed into the Match mix--giving this a fishy flavor. In Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook, an entire chapter is dedicated to curry recipes. I love it! Making the green curry from scratch for this dish was the best part! 

I have a tribute post today in honor of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution show airing this evening at eight central time on ABC. I have a little idea about what to expect--town folk with resentment and resistance and hopefully capitulation. It is entertainment. But I have a deep respect for what Jamie is setting out to do in Huntington, West Virginia--a town ranked one of the unhealthiest in the nation. Now the question is, as it is with all "healthy" cooking shows--if you build it, will people come or will they "buy" it? I hope they buy it. I really do.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vegan Gooey Butter Cake (A St. Louis Tradition Adaptation!)

Vegan Thyme: Vegan Gooey Butter Cake (A St. Louis Tradition Adaptation!)
Let me introduce you to the most amazing thing to come out of St. Louis since The Arch: the Gooey Butter Cake. But this one here is vegan and not "as gooey" as they tend to be, but qualifies for me as one of the best cake recipe homages to the GBC I've tasted in a really long time!

You can almost taste the crispy cooked, golden chewy edges and then, the crumb sort of collapses in your mouth like you're eating a super-sized piece of butter cake heaven--soft and moist in the middle with a large crumb!

My favorite day of the week is Wednesday. This is when the Let's Eat section of our St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the second most left-leaning piece of journalism diatribe out there--next to the New York Times--a little balanced reporting once in awhile would be nice)--but nonetheless, the food section, on most weeks, prints something I feel worthy of "trying". My three-ring binder is filled with little scraps of black and white newsprint cut-out recipes dangling from my folder pockets. I am like one of those old women who will someday be able to submit "the long lost recipe" for Aunt Mable's pecan shortbread printed in the nineties by someone in the "food section" of the Post. I'll have that recipe cut out somewhere and will oblige by sending it in. My dream job is being the Food Editor of this paper someday (not likely to happen given my intro to this blog post, but oh well)--I'd love to give them a shot of "veggie" sense and other worthy food review commentary that I feel is often lacking.

So yesterday's food section carried a whole front page article on Asian Grocery Store Shopping. . . Okay. But then there was this quaint little cake photo in black and white tucked in the folds with a reader question requesting a "bakery" butter cake recipe "from years gone by". The bakery still exists up in the North part of the city--I'd never heard of them. (If you weren't aware--St. Louis is known for two very famous things in the dessert/confection world: Gooey Butter Cake and World's Fair Donuts.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ten Mile Tuesday (Running with Strangers. . . So You Want to Start Running?)

*This just in:
Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Premiers this Friday on ABC at 8:00 p.m. Central Time.
I am a huge fan of Jamie's latest cookbook: Jamie's Food Revolution.
The philosophy of improving yourself and your health always begins with what you put in the pie hole! Is this a vegan-based TV cooking show? No. And the day that happens on prime time television, well. . . it will be cause for great celebration--and pigs will surely be flying, too. This is, however, a step in the right direction--getting folks thinking about much healthier and pro-active food choices and eating styles (sans the meat for vegans of course). Next up: get the folks "moving!" How perfect this airs this week given our climate of "health lovers" and "health haters."

I ran my first ten miles in years yesterday! It was a perfect running day. Perfect. I set out the door with my water-bottle belt (yes, a bit geeked out in my running "gear-head" self, slathered in 100 SPF sun protection, because honestly, I like being pale)--but read on and you'll understand why the best runner is a "prepared" runner! I finished my run in 2:06. Now, was that super-speed? Good god, no. Would I have liked to finish this in under two hours? Yes! But I'll take it! Not making excuses here, but I had a diversion of "hiking/off street running" thrown in the mix (but totally by accident because of this freak of nature encounter, read on).

I feel fine today. I am barely sore. I am not a pre-running stretcher. I walk for a warm up. I do a lot of stretching after and mostly on my hamstrings and calves. I didn't kill myself doing this run, it was too important for me to keep a measured pace and not to injure myself. I am almost fifty and injuries spring up on women of a certain age much quicker at this stage in life than they once used to. *Thank you doctor for the wonderful job you did on my knees seven years ago! My endurance is what I am working on now--to prepare for my half marathon coming up (April 11th). Here is what I asked myself after this run: Could I have gone another three miles. Absolutely. So, with that, I feel very confident I am ready to run a half. To cap off the night--we had vegan meatballs and spaghetti--the perfect post run meal! I need to get in at least one more ten-miler, even trying a twelve miler--but do so within the next week. The week of the marathon is a really scaled back running week. Today I rest--really important for runners in training to NOT run every day. But that can be hard for some.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Forbidden Rice, Tempeh and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Cabbage (Slow Cooking, Fast Running And Veggie Gardening for The Obsessed)

This stuffed cabbage recipe is one of my all-time faves. Plus, who doesn't love a recipe that includes the word "forbidden" in the title? No forbidden rice on hand? No problem. Use wild rice. Or pick any other rice, it's all good. The parcels combine sweet, sour and bitter for an amazing and delish taste experience. You have your mashers on the side but eating a spoonful of both is mandatory in the consumption of this dish to get the full effect.

Yes, cooking the rice on the side is a bit of a task, but in the end, totally worth it. The FR adds a crunchy texture, too.

See how easily this all fits into the cabbage--tuck the ends in, place in the slow cooker, you're nearly done with the whole prep part of this dish.

Beautiful and so organized. The last thing is to add a mixture of sauerkraut and canned tomatoes over it with some dried herbs, vinegar and sugar blended in--poured over the top and cooked on low or high for about four hours and you have a pot of yum waiting for you!

Lasagna gardening in action! Place about 4-5 layers of newspaper over the spot you wish to garden in this spring. Next, pour some water over the newspaper. Layer with peat moss, then compost, then more peat, (throw in some fresh leaves from the millions that fell from my oaks), add more compost and finally, mulch it. In about two weeks this is going to be prime "planting real estate". I will probably need to add more compost and re-mulch. Every summer this "spot" turns into a brown-ish patch of ick. And best of all, this ick is in the shape of a perfect circle. Yes, like a "crop circle". Oh, Mr. Thyme and I have our theories, we watch plenty of Syfy. To combat the disgust I have with this spot (and have had for the past five years) I've decided to take matters into my own hands. It's getting the "lasagna" treatment--not sure what I'll plant. It's next to my roses (which are behind them--all pruned and ready for spring)--some herbs would be good companions. So would garlic.

When I was at the Missouri Botanical Gardens a few weeks back, I took note of some of the planting shapes. (Really easy to do with everything dormant.) I noticed a lot of soft edges incorporated: half circles and curves vs. right angle corners. I thought about ways to use this in my own garaden--I think it will make a huge difference.

This weekend was a wash out as far as getting any gardening work done. We lost the sixty degree weather and fell back into the forties both Saturday and Sunday. Thankfully, we'll be back in the sixties this week--but still have rain. Call me a sissy, but I deem weekends like this as "cold blasts" because that is exactly what it feels like when you've been spoiled with even a few days of sun and warmth. Cold and dreary weekends that fall out of nowhere on you in spring (grant it, I know this is only the first official weekend of spring) has a propensity to put you back into a winter mindset: stay inside, wear your jammies all day and have pancakes for breakfast, get the slow cooker out, do some knitting and just chill--but try to get a run in at least before Mr. Thyme wakes up!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why Vegan Blogs Matter (My Note to A Journalist Covering Slaughterhouse Practices)

I pause today to bring an issue to my blog that I rarely "go there" with: eating meat in our society. It goes without saying really, I suppose. I am about vegan food and eating "cruelty free" after all. I have in my "blogs I follow" section a link to Chews Wise. An intelligent, well-researched blog if ever there was one. I respect the approach he takes in covering organic food issues. After all, I worked nearly a year for an agriculture organization that is a giant in the realm of lobby powers in bringing a certain grain to your table in more and more ways than you could imagine--organic or not. I don't divulge much on my experience with the ag industry only to say that I have had a front row seat to what many others only read about in short columns in local papers or hear about when an urgent ag matter needs addressing. I still keep up on ag news and follow the "farmer" plight. If you are a vegan and you've not read "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer--you may want to do so. Not only are the statistics for how our country's meat industry is slowly eroding our ethical boundaries in what is and is not acceptable practices in animal husbandry, it is staggering to read the means by which we are falling further and further behind in our methods of bringing food to the table--we are, in essence, being more barbaric.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Life Happens: The Addiction Monster (Thank You for Waiting: My Vegan Brownie Breakthrough)

I am on my second pan of eating through my "vegan brownie breakthrough"--just to be sure. Had I made these under too much stress? Was my recipe share-worthy? Just what the heck did I use? So, in case you've been through the great "vegan brownie" hunt as I have, go ahead and give these a try. I'm not saying everyone will love them, but I do, and truthfully, that's all that matters at this point. 

This theraputic knit-for-a-cause handbag went so fast, I really don't remember how I made it! I just began knitting and grabbing whatever yarn I had. It went to the highest bidder on Sunday's silent auction. I loved it--hated to part with it. But someone else can love it now.
Mr.Thyme is the best photographer ever. Is that shot of the Botanical Garden lake not the best?
Even with the garden dormant, it was so worth walking through and enjoying the sparseness of it.
Uh, I am going to put this out there just because I feel I need to: Don't even think about copying my stuff off my site without my permission. It's all copyrighted to me--and I know people in high places. So ask first.
I've added this tidbit in my profile, too.

Again, the orchid show was spectacular and great therapy in the dead of winter.

Just a bunch of oohs and ahhs taking place here.

More oohs and ahhs. . .

Pretty in pink and yellow.

I can't stand to see a water fountain off--it makes me sad and sort of feels like armageddon. So I jumped in and Mr. Thyme grabbed a picture of me in the fish fountain. It was a good moment.

I haven't left yet. Thank you for sticking with me. If you've left, I totally understand. I have been, what can I say? Recovering. Little did I know that my setback in the hospital would have this lingering effect. Little did I know that within a week of my returning to somewhat normal activity--hives lifting, appetite returning, that I would have to face the emotional trauma of someone very dear to me (okay, let me be frank--my only living relative I have left on the planet) facing a long hospital stay. (The kind of stay that is sort of forced upon you when you've gone "too far" with really bad social habits--habits, in the plural here.) I am talking addiction. I could talk about the utter destruction addiction has on both the families it emotionally destroys, or about the cost of addiction to our society. Either way--dealing with the breaking down of someone I love dearly is what has kept me from my blog, from my cooking and from my life these past few weeks--that and my own post-traumatic recovery from "the incident" have all built up to a "hard stop".

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Return to Nature And Art Therapy

Here I am looking at the most amazing and largest owl I have ever seen. The gentleman holding the creature is a twenty-year volunteer of the Bird Sanctuary.

This is the shot Mr. Thyme got of the owl up close--is that not breathtaking?
I love eagles.
Then some birds with names I've forgotten. Oh well--still amazing.
Hello! This one I remember the volunteer telling us is one of three on the North American Continent. I believe it hails from Africa.
Mr. Thyme and I debated this little guy for a bit. I said it's a baby bison. He says elk. I said bison. He said elk. He just came walking along as we were driving through--the cute little baby bison.

Seriously. . . how incredible is that face?

Again. Peaceful, quiet and gigantic big wooly balls of fur. I love them!

My favorite places to be are either on a mountain, or in the middle of the woods. I grew up loving to explore nature. I'm no Annie Dillard, but studied her writings in school and those of other like-minded women who sought refuge from the world by connecting with all things "outside." I am someone who thrives in less populated areas of the planet. If I'm around concrete and pavement for say more than a few days in a row, I really begin to have a "reaction". Don't get me wrong, I want modern conveniences. . .within walking distance if I can. Right now, however, I am seeking to heal from the events of the past month by going outside. Putting it all behind me. Having some PTSD moments along the way, Mr. Thyme works with me as I gather strength for each day. This has been a roller coaster affair. This weekend being no exception. So nature it was.


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