Friday, March 1, 2013

Change is good

This morning I heard a golden cheek warbler in the back yard and Tu said he heard one on Bliss Haven yesterday -- the first of the season! The weather is lovely and I'm feeling anxious about getting my herbs transplanted there. 

We have a contract pending on a manufactured home and the timeline looks good for moving in, in a month or so. The details are slightly overwhelming, but welcomed.

There is much to do in preparation for the move with packing and storing, gargae sale, downsizing... but my thoughts are primarily about the oregano, thyme, and rosemary. If I put things out now, will the deer eat it? Will the peas in the back yard make before we move?

You are what you eat... and think, and do...

This will be a fresh start in many ways-- more activity outdoors and big steps toward self-sufficiency with food production. I ate a vegetarian diet for about six months a long time ago, and seems now is a good time to resume the practice. Because we don't eat much meat in the first place, it should be a fairly easy transition. Except for tuna salad. And bacon. 

Bacon. That's going to be tough. I see that some folks use liquid smoke to trick the taste buds... well, I might have to resort to that for leafy greens and stews.

This time we can broaden our menu and food selections. Ten years ago it was difficult to find much variety in our local grocery -- but people's tastes have changed, the demand is high and the supply is better, plus now we live in Austin. One thing I'd like to try is nutritional yeast. Also might give tahini another shot, but so far every dish I've tried tastes extremely bitter/acrid to me. 

Vegetarian Main Dish Ideas

In the beginning, vegetarian meals and meal planning can be difficult unless one has a good idea of what to prepare and has the ingredients close at hand.

Here are some main dish ideas for quick and easy vegetarian meals; some are already on our family menu, some are new. I provided a couple of links to sites with recipes and provided one of our own at the end. Don't worry about whether it's fried, has oil, or is low calorie, just enjoy it!

Tofu Crumbles -  for any dish that uses ground meat

  • Tacos and Chili
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Spicy fried rice
  • Spaghetti or lasagna

Tofu or Tempeh Dishes

  • Coconut curry- Thai or Indian style
  • Stir fry with vegetables - too many possibilities, with rice or noodles
  • Soup or stew (tempeh chunks are good substitute for chicken)
  • Tempura battered, with tempura vegetables and sauce
  • Balls or loaf (use everything same as meatballs or meatloaf)
  • Tofu hot dogs, bologna, burgers - readily available in frozen or dairy section

Cheese and/or Egg Dishes

  • Veggie & cheese pizza, anything goes
  • Veggie & cheese pasta, tomato or cream sauces
  • Fried rice with egg, soy sauce is principle seasoning
  • Risotto variations
  • Egg & cheese quiche, omelets, or frittata
  • Deviled eggs
  • Egg & cheese tacos
  • Sandwiches – egg salad, grilled cheese, etc

Vegetables, Grain, and Bean Dishes

  • Cauliflower: buffalo wings; "riced" for a paleo substitute for grains 
  • Eggplant dishes: parmesan or lasagna; sweet sour; grilled with cheese on top
  •  Hummus & other garbanzo bean dishes
  •  Kale - more vitamins and iron than any other vegetable, use as a meat
  •  Grain kugels: NY Times link for some crazy no-noodle kugels
  •  Lentil soup; other bean soups - every nationality and style possible
  •  Mushroom dishes: stroganoff, cream soup, portabella steaks, pasta, stir fry
  •  Polenta, grits, other ground corn or maize
  •  Quinoa (love this sauteed with savory onion, dried apricot, herbs, chopped almonds)
  •  Squash - can be stuffed, added to sweet potato, and many more uses
  •  Sweet potato - many choices from soups to pies         
  •  White bean, artichoke and kale soup (from the PETA Celebrity Cookbook)         

Spicey Tofu Fried Rice
this is a Do family favorite, pungent & green with herbs
serves 4 - 6
  • Put 2 cup jasmine rice into the steamer and cook it while preparing the following:
  • Sautee 1 pack Crumbles or crumbled firm tofu in 2 tablespoons of your choice of olive or peanut oil with:
    • 4 - 6 cloves fresh garlic
    • Minced chili peppers (you add to taste from 1 - 5 stars)
    • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh peppermint (be generous)
    • 1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • up to 2 tbsps additional chopped fresh herbs (dill, basil, oregano, thyme, and/or marjoram)
  • Fluff the jasmine rice and allow it to 'dry out' for about 5 minutes, releasing steam
  • Add it to the wok while hot with additional oil and toss all ingredients over medium-high heat until the rice is well separated and coated with a sheen of oil and herbs are well distributed
  • Increase the heat until the ingredients begin to stick to the pan and brown a little bit
  • Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and sprinkle fish sauce* (about 2 tbsps) over the ingredients, turn off the heat and allow the sauces to steam and soften the crisped rice at the bottom of the work, stirring all together and tossing it quickly
  • Serve with lemon wedges, thinly sliced fresh cucumber, toasted peanuts (chopped, optional), and extra nuoc cham sauce
  • Optional add-ins: 1/2 cup frozen peas; fresh green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces;