Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Salmonella is Always in Eggs

Music: Sade on shuffle on iTunes

I was listening to the radio yesterday and heard a reporter talking about how shocked people are that there is salmonella in eggs and that consumers wanted to know why. It is my understanding that consumers can never really know if eggs are contaminated with salmonella or not so it's best to assume that all eggs have salmonella.

When Jim got food poisoning (campylobacter) a few years ago, I read the book, It Was Probably Something You Ate: A Practical Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Food-Borne Illness by Nichols Fox. Needless to say, I was disheartened to read about the common contamination of food. The author went on to say how the FDA has pretty much put all responsibility for food safety on the consumer such as making sure you thoroughly cook all meat and eggs at certain temperatures for certain lengths of time to make sure you "kill" all the contaminants. We didn't go vegan after reading this, but we were certainly headed in that direction after that frightening incident.

As a vegan, I do realize that some produce also gets contaminated and can cause food poisoning, however, this is most likely due to water contamination from runoff from farms that slaughter animals, so it's just as important to be careful whom you purchase food from or, even better, grow your own. And always make sure you thoroughly wash your produce, even soaking it in clean water.

Not long after Jim recovered from the food poisoning, my uncle was preparing his Caesar salad recipe and I noticed him making the dressing with raw eggs. I asked him, "how do you know those eggs don't have salmonella?" He told me, "we don't. We just take our chances." "No, thanks," I said. Now THAT'S scary.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quick Meals for the Dog Days of Summer

Music: The Beau Hunks, The Original Little Rascals Music

Fresh fruit bowl: pluots, green grapes

I don't know about you, but when these dog days of hot summer hit, I find that my appetite kind of vanishes. I crave more fruit and fruity drinks and ice cold water. When I feel like this, I really listen to my body and just eat when I am truly hungry. It's easy to fall into the trap of looking at the clock and thinking, "I should probably eat something" when you may or not be really hungry.

Also, when it gets warmer, I just don't want to be in a hot kitchen. So I'll usually make some salads early in the day if they involve cooking a grain or other vegetable, then chilling it in the fridge until my appetite calls for it.

I made some delicious Patty Pan squash one day which I then served with a side of some barley tabbouleh. I used the same recipe I've used for bulgur except I changed the grain. I didn't have tomatoes so I used some carrots instead. I also threw in some avocado slices on the side.

And this is a super easy Paella from Lorna Sass' Shortcut Vegan. With some very lightly sauteed Farmers' Market brussels sprouts and Jim's homemade bread, it felt like a special meal.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 C chopped onions
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 C water
1 vegan bouillon cube
1/2 tsp safflower
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 C white basmati rice
1 C diced carrots
1 6 oz. jar marinated artichokes OR 1 C frozen peas, defrosted
1 C frozen corn, defrosted
1/2 C diced roasted red pepper
1 15-oz. can of black or red beans, drained & rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in large pan and saute onions and garlic carefully watching that they don't burn. Cook for about 1-3 minutes (I like to wait until the onions are translucent but be very careful that the garlic does not brown). Add water, bouillon cube, safflower, and salt. Bring to a boil then add rice and carrots. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 18 minutes. The water should almost be absorbed.

Add peas (or artichokes), corn, beans, and red pepper. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for about 2-3 minutes. Add pepper and more sea salt if needed. Stir well. This dish makes a lot so it will last a few days and it reheats very well in a saucepan with a little water.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hearts of Palm, Tomato, & Green Bean Salad

Music: Bee Gees on shuffle on iTunes

This is a spin-off of a wonderfully simple salad I enjoyed from Whole Foods last month. Their recipe used asparagus but it's green bean (and purple beans, too!) time so I blanched some fresh green beans from the Farmers' Market and added an entire jar of chopped hearts of palm (from Trader Joe's) and a bunch of grape tomatoes, halved. The dressing is my favorite basic dressing: just the juice of an entire lemon (you could also use lime) and 1-2 tbsp olive oil (or really, any light oil; try grapeseed or almond or even flax). Season to taste with salt & pepper. Instant salad, perfect for when it's just too hot to cook.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quinoa and Red Bean Salad

Music: Smokey Robinson (sometimes with the Miracles) on shuffle on iTunes

No smoothies yet as I'm saving to buy a new blender! Jim wants to get a Vitamix but they're so expensive & I don't know if I can truly believe all the wonderful things people say about it. I am feeling some smoothie withdrawal symptoms, though, in slightly less energy and focus. Of course, that could also be due to this Michigan flatlander now living in a very hilly area.

I made this new salad the other day from my favorite cookbook, Nava Atlas' Vegan Express. I adapted it because I didn't have all her ingredients (daikon radish or turnip, fresh peppers, for example) and I used a different dressing. It still came out tasty which is the most important thing!

3/4 C quinoa, rinsed in fine sieve
1 C grape tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on how large they are
1/2 C radishes, sliced or choppd
1 roasted red pepper, drained & chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 15-16 oz can red beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2-3 tbsp fresh dill, minced (I used 1 tsp dried)
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Combine quinoa with 1 1/2 C water in saucepan and bring to boil. Lower to simmer and cover & let simmer 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Transfer to large bowl to cool.

Combine rest of ingredients in the bowl once quinoa has cooled.

I enjoyed this salad with a tofu sandwich and some slices of lemon cucumber that we found a farmer selling in the Strip District! They're the exact same ones that Jim used to grow in his garden.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Italian Orzo Salad

Music: Silent Violet, Sounds of a Dirty City

We're in the dog days of summer here in Pittsburgh with nary a raindrop in sight. In fact, since I arrived here on July 22, it has not rained except for a brief 20 minute shower. And it's hot and everything is wilting and turning brown. It's a great time for summer salads.

My new neighbor gave me an unopened bag of lemon basil orzo & that his wife couldn't eat; she's ill and cannot have citrus, I guess. I decided that this might make a good base for an Italian flavored pasta salad. So after cooking the orzo, in a large bowl I combined:

1 C grape tomatoes, chopped in half or in quarters if they were larger
1 large roasted red pepper, drained & chopped
1/2 C Spanish olives, chopped (I would have used black olives but I didn't have any)
1/2 12-oz. jar of marinated artichokes, drained & chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
Juice of half a lemon (or more to taste)
1 1/2- 2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & pepper to taste
A little garlic powder

When I served it, I added a little leftover soy chorizo but you could also use vegan bacon bits, such as Bacos. Easy as pie.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Simple Farmers' Market Dinner

Last Saturday we visited the Strip District for the Farmers@Firehouse Farmers' Market. It wasn't as big as our former farmers' market, but we were able to get everything we needed.

We also met a very friendly and helpful proprietor named Jessica at a table set up with organic skin and beauty products. It was called Una Biologicals and I will be looking here for local organic lip balm (which I find, for whatever reason, hard to make on my own). Jessica also lots of suggestions for vegan and organic shopping around Pittsburgh.

For dinner that night, we made some simple red quinoa, roasted beets, fresh tomato slices, and steamed kale. It was just right for a hot day as I kind of lose my appetite on hot days.

Simple Basic Quinoa from Short-cut Vegan by Lorna Sass

1 2/3 C water
2 tsp instant stock powder (optional, but I use 1/2 cube of vegan bouillon)
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 C quinoa your choice (red is pretty), rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring water, stock powder, and salt to a boil. Stir in the quinoa and garlic. Cover, reduce to simmer for about 12-15 minutes, until tender but still a little crunchy. Fluff before serving.

I will use the leftover quinoa to toss into salads later.