Thursday, January 28, 2010

Win a 32GB iPod Touch from Turtle Mountain

I was excited to learn that my favorite ice cream company is holding a Twitter contest for a brand new 32GB iPod Touch! I already own an iPod G2, so I had to find out just what makes a 32GB iPod Touch even better. I didn't know, but OMG, I need one of these! In addition to all the great music features, you can store tens of thousands of photos, record and playback voice memos, and with built-in Wi-Fi you can rent and play movies, browse the Internet, check your email, find the nearest vegan restaurant (you can even find yourself, if you're lost), and access over 100,000 apps. Sheesh, all my iPod does is play music! I'd love to win this baby!

Contests like this remind me of the joke my mother once told me about the old Jewish man, who, after years of never winning the lottery asked God why he never wins. God replied, "First you have to buy a ticket, Morty."

While winning a $300 toy might not be as good as winning the lottery, at least you don't have to buy a ticket to win. All you need to do is follow @So_Delicious on Twitter, and tweet the following message:

Follow @So_Delicious and you can win a 32GB iPod Touch! #So Delicious Coconut milk products are the best! #contest

A 1 in 5,000 shot at winning is not too shabby, either. There's nothing to lose, and you could win yourself a nifty little gadget.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Balsamic Bliss

It takes a lot to get me excited, even when it comes to food. But at this weekend's Good Earth Home, Garden, & Living Show at the Lane County Fairgrounds, along with everything having to do with sustainable living, there was an entire pavilion dedicated to food and beverages. I had no trouble grazing my way through the exhibit hall, stopping to indulge in Turtle Mountain's full line of coconut milk beverages, ice cream, yogurt, and kefir, Theo Chocolates' dark chocolate bars (the Ginger Rose bar is intoxicating), and Klickitat Canyon Organic Wines. But my favorite new find has to be Bistro Blends' line of barrel-aged balsamic vinegars. There are five flavors to choose from, one more sensational than the next: Heirloom, Very-Berry Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, and Black Mission Fig.

I couldn't resist coming away with one bottle each of the blackberry and fig flavors. Are they pricey? Well, yes, I'm not gonna lie. At $12 for a 6-oz bottle, (apparently, these smaller bottles are a show special), they're certainly not cheap. But they are worth every penny for such an extraordinary culinary indulgence. The blackberry flavor is deeply rich and fruity, and the black mission fig with just a hint of vanilla, tastes indescribably fragrant.

Even after sampling to my heart's content at Bistro Blends' show booth, I couldn't wait to get home and break into a bottle with Mark. He chose the blackberry, which we enjoyed with a fresh loaf of ciabatta I also picked up at the show.

How exciting to find something so tantalizingly delicious to enjoy as part of a low-fat vegan diet. Both of these vinegars will be amazing drizzled over fresh fruit, salad, and Purely Decadent vanilla ice cream. And I look forward to exploring all of the other ways I can come up with to enjoy them. I'm already imagining the amazing cole slaw the blackberry flavor will make! Stay tuned for the recipe ...

And here's some exciting news: Bistro Blends will be back in Eugene at the Lane County Home & Garden Show on March 11th through the 14th. Mention that you read about them in my blog, and they'll extend a discount to you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

I've never been a fan of canned chili. And since I never tasted chili that didn't come from a can (at least as far as I can remember), I thought I simply wasn't a fan of chili. So when my friend, Marr, emailed me this recipe the other day, I had to stop and think about it before hitting the ol' delete button. Rich with flavorful ingredients and without even a drop of added fat, this recipe sounded too delicious not to try. And with a couple of minor adjustments, like using chipotle chile powder and doubling the amount of black beans, this meal turned out to be hearty, warming, and satisfying: in short, a real winner!


2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small yam, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tbsp chipotle chile powder (if you use regular chile powder, you may wish to double this amount, as chipotle is very hot, so I use less)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper, a few twists


Saute onions in 2 tablespoons of water for 3-4 minutes, then add sweet potatoes, carrots, red bell pepper, and celery, and cook until onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low, and add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine well.
Simmer, partially covered and stir occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until flavors have mingled and vegetables are fully cooked. Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chow Down Chow Mein

Chow mein is typically made with fried noodles. Since I'm adhering to a McDougall-style, low-fat diet, fried noodles are not an option. Nevertheless, this soft-noodle Chow Mein was delicious, and it brought back memories of tasty take-out dinners from my favorite Chinese restaurant in New York City.


1/2 lb. Chow Mein noodles
1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained, cut into very small cubes, and marinated
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1 6-oz can bamboo shoots
1 6-oz can water chestnuts
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 large bok choy leaves, sliced into bite-size pieces
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tbs dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon evaporated cane crystals
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 cup mung bean sprouts
water for stir-frying, as needed


4 Tbs vegetarian oyster sauce
4 tsp soy sauce
Ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp cornstarch


To prepare the marinade, Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl with a tight-fitting lid, adding the cornstarch last. Marinate the cubed tofu for 20 to 25 minutes. Turning the container occasionally to coat all pieces.

Prepare noodles according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.

You may wish to rinse the bamboo shoots and water chestnuts under cool running water for several minutes to remove any tinny taste.

Heat the wok and add 1/4 cup water. When pan is hot, add the minced ginger and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until aromatic. Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. Stir-fry briefly, and add the other vegetables except for the mung bean sprouts. Stir-fry briefly, and add the marinated tofu and noodles.

Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar, and pour into wok. Stir to coat, and then add in the bean sprouts. Cook for another minute, and serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Moroccan Couscous with 8 Vegetables and Tfaya

Mark and I tried to see Avatar on Sunday, but of course, it was sold out by the time we got there. (No, we didn't think of buying our tickets ahead of time, as we rarely ever go out to the movies.) So when we got back home I started flipping through TV channels, when I came upon the Create TV cooking show Gourmet Adventures with Ruth. Described as a show in which viewers can "travel the globe alongside host and editor/food icon Ruth Reichl, her Gourmet colleagues, and celebrity guests as they visit exotic cooking schools and experience the local foods and traditions," it certainly looked interesting to me! In this episode, actress Lorraine Bracco was traveling with Ruth through Morocco and learning how to prepare some of the local cuisine. I landed on this channel just as she was learning the fine art of making couscous from scratch from a lovely old woman. It whetted my appetite for couscous.

Couscous is made from two different sizes of the husked, crushed, unground semolina. Creating this delicate little grain before it can even be cooked is a painstaking process still performed in the traditional handmade fashion, only in rural villages. First the couscous is formed by rubbing and rolling together large grains of hard wheat semolina with finer grains in a large earthenware platter sprayed with salted water to raise the humidity of the semolina. Then the couscous is dried in a midūna, a latticework basket made of palm or esparto grass. Next it is transferred to a finer weave basket for more drying. After a short time, the couscous is returned to the midūna for more rolling. Then it is sieved numerous times to form a uniform grain. The couscous is then left for four or five days to dry in the sun with occasional light sprays of water. It must be completely dry before storing or cooking.

During this episode, I was reminded of the spicy delicacy, tfaya, which I can only remember having eaten once many years ago. This delectable topping of caramelized onions and raisins pairs beautifully with couscous, and was easily made fat-free without the butter traditionally used, and without detriment to the flavor.

You can find a similar couscous recipe to this one all over the internet that is made with seven vegetables, instead of eight (if you include garbanzo beans in the vegetable group). But I love parsnips and couldn't resist adding them to mine. This dish is so rich and flavorful, you won't believe it doesn't contain a drop of added fat.

Couscous Ingredients:

1 medium red onion
2 Tbs. vegetable broth
4 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, peeled
2 parsnips, peeled
2 turnips, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. turmeric
pinch of saffron
pinch of curry
2 cups couscous grains


Cut all of the vegetables into large, bite-size chunks. In a large pot, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth until lightly browned. Add the rest of the broth, and bring to a boil. Add carrots, parsnips, turnips, and sweet potato. Simmer for 15 minutes. Lower heat, and add zucchini and pepper. (At this point, prepare tfaya, or it can be prepared in advance and reheated before serving.) Cook vegetables for 20 minutes more. Then add beans, tomato sauce, and spices. Stir to combine, and cook until heated through.

In a separate small pot, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5-7 minutes, fluff with a fork and serve with vegetables and tfaya on top.

Tfaya Ingredients:

2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled


Mix the sliced onions, raisins, agave, and spices in a medium saucepan. Add the water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering for a half hour or longer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden. Add more water only if the liquids evaporate before the onions are cooked. Once the onions are cooked and richly colored, reduce the liquids to a thick syrup. Turn off the heat, and set the caramelized onions aside. If prepared in advance, reheat the onions just prior to serving.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Book Review: The Indian Vegan Kitchen
by Madhu Gadia

I think I've said this before elsewhere in this blog: When I was in India, it was astounding to me how difficult it was for a predominantly vegetarian country to wrap it's collective brain around the idea of veganism. More than once I bit into a piece of paneer in a dish that was ordered without cheese. And I'm sure that many a curry was served in a cream sauce or cooked with ghee, even though it was requested that no dairy be used in the preparation of my meals. But that's history, and I'm told that things are slowly changing in India, and people are beginning to learn that the dairy they consume does not generally come from happy, well-treated cows.

Author Madhu Gadia, a registered dietitian living in Ames, Iowa, admits how difficult it was for her to think and cook outside the lacto-vegetarian box, not realizing how extensively and automatically she added dairy products to the dishes she prepared and enjoyed. It is our good fortune that she took the time to research vegan nutrition and create this beautiful book with more than 150 delicious and authentically Indian vegan recipes.

Newcomers to Indian cuisine will appreciate her glossary of spices and other unfamiliar ingredients, list of basic kitchen equipment, tips on cooking techniques, and perhaps most helpful, a list of online retailers for those difficult-to-find ingredients. As a long-time Indian-food lover and aficionado of curries, I appreciated the new world of dishes this book made available to me, like Stuffed Mung Been Pancakes (Bharva Cheele) and Dried Fruit Rice (Meva Chawal). For me, finding a vegan recipe for Badam Barfi (a sensuously sweet almond pastry made with edible foil) was like finding hidden treasure! The challenge for me was going to be preparing these delicious dishes without the oil used in most recipes, while maintaining the integrity and the full flavor of each.

One of my favorite Indian dishes ever is Vegetable Korma, which is typically made with heavy cream. Needless to say, I haven't tasted a decent korma in decades. Madhu's recipe for Creamy Vegetable Stew (Subji Korma) used cashews to give the dish its characteristic creamy taste and texture. To maintain my McDougall diet program, I omitted the three tablespoons of canola oil called for in making this dish, and still the result was incredible. Otherwise following Madhu's directions, the onions, green beans, cauliflower, carrot, peas, and peppers cooked to perfection, delicately, without risk of being overcooked. It was delightfully fragrant served on a bed of basmati rice.

Next, I tried making a dish I had never eaten before, Pav-Bhaji, which literally translates to "vegetables on a bun," but Madhu refers to as "Veggie Sloppy Joe Sandwiches." Made with potatoes, onions, cauliflower, green peppers, peas, carrots, and tomatoes, the dish is seasoned with pav-bhaji masala (one of many different masala spice blends) and lemon or lime juice. It's absolutely fascinating to me how very different each dish tastes depending on the type of spices used. And once again, I omitted the oil called for in this dish, replacing it with water, and still it tasted delicious. I didn't have the heart to eat my pav-bhaji on an American whole wheat bun, so I opted to scoop mine up by the "spoonful" with torn pieces of whole wheat chapati.

I hadn't realized that "dal" is the generic name for all dried beans, peas, lentils, legumes, and pulses, and is used interchangeably for both dry and cooked beans. Madhu has included recipes for more than a dozen dals, and because I had some pink lentils on hand, I chose to try her Ginger-Spinach Pink Lentils or Andrak-Palak Dal. It required the use of asefoetida which has a very strong and pungent odor, but imparts a very distinct yet pleasing flavor to dishes. Asefoetida powder smells so awful, it's also known as "stinking gum" and "devil's dung," so it's important to store it in a tightly-sealed container, or it will stink up your whole kitchen. I choose a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for this purpose. Of the three dishes I tried, I must say that I liked this dish the best of all. And that's pretty remarkable, because I never thought of myself as a huge fan of dal, when there are so many other tasty Indian dishes to be savored. But the combination of ginger, lentils, spinach, and tomatoes along with cumin seeds, coriander, cayenne, and yes, asafeotida, made this dish powerfully flavorful and satisfying. Again, I did without any of the cooking oil, and don't believe that I sacrificed any of the flavor. Served along with a plate of nutty-tasting brown basmati rice, I felt as though I was eating something sinfully rich, though it was deliciously hearty and vibrantly healthful.

I look forward to trying many of the delectable-sounding desserts and beverages in The Indian Vegan Kitchen as well as the flat breads, salads, chutneys, and more of the curries. This is a lovely book filled with exotically inspired recipes that will bring a great deal of eating pleasure to both vegans and non vegans alike.