Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My-So-Called Vegetarian Life - Part One

Some of you may have remembered some sort of previous claim about trying to go vegetarian this week, due to the absence of a certain meat eater.

We're four days in, and I'm discovering certain things, some of them surprising, some of them less so.

1. Veggies make me miss friends
While I've perfected and honed many a meat-laden dish with my husband and family, most of the vegetarian meals that I make are permanently associated for me with a few friends---who I miss very much.

Grilled Cheese sandwich with sauteed zucchini and tomato, a la Erica. This meal makes me think of chatting in her kitchen, drinking wine, making food, and making plans for our husbandless honeymoon (Scotland/Venice/around the world extravaganza without sig. others).

Later this week, I'll be make a squash curry--which I've never been able to make as well as my friend Josie---which makes me think of cooking at our college apartment, where there was always someone to talk to, and probably someone doing something interesting in the kitchen with vegetables, exotic fruits, or brownies. 

2. There no substitute for a good blender.

Well, I suppose there would be, if I also had a food processor or an immersion blender--possibly the only kitchen appliances I lack. A few months ago, you see, our blender died---or perhaps attempted to destroy itself, I'm not sure. All I know is, there was smoke, and so it went in the garbage. Since then, I've been discovering that there are a few key recipes that are nearly impossible to make without it. Smoothies for one. Hummus for another.

I'm not even going to tell you how long it took me to make the hummus on this plate. Suffice to say, it was ridiculous, and it never really reached the consistency I prefer.  But still, it was better than anything store bought this side of the Atlantic. Seriously guys---make your own hummus. Here's a basic recipe I like:

Rebecca's Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, liquid reserved
1-2 cloves mashed garlic
3 tbs tahini paste
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp cumin
dash cayenne
approx. 2 tbs olive oil
 salt to taste
paprika to garnish

Mix it all up in a blender, using the garbanzo liquid to reach the right consistency you want, and the olive oil to add silkiness. This is basically what I do, although it always varies a little. Like when I am lacking a blender, and have to mash up the garbanzos with a pastry blender by hand.

3. Bacon does not fix all veggies

This was definitely a surprise to me, but bacon, as it turns out, did not do a lot for Brussels sprouts. I used this recipe from Senor Tyler Florence of the Food Network, for Bacon-Braised Brussels Sprouts, and was shockingly underwhelmed.

It was just unnecessarily busy, as if attempting to hide the sprouts and failing---because lets face it, Brussels Sprouts with always be Brussels Sprouts. It was a sad waste of bacon. Although, full disclosure, some of the failure of this dish may me due to the fact that I basically quartered it, based on the amount of sprouts I had, and I'm not sure how accurate I was (what is a fourth of a dash? A touch?). Next time, I'm just going to steam or roast these with some garlic and douse them in butter. Because that combination never went wrong, right?

Tomorrow, since I have the day off, I'll be working on my curry and possibly diving into a baking project. Any suggestions, fair readers? Note: I have to be able to either eat it myself, or pawn it off at work on Thursday. So I'm thinking not an English Trifle.


  1. Regarding the squash curry, the owner of an Asian food store gave me some tips on flavoring my curry that made a big difference.

    1) Put in some lemon grass. It really does taste good. And you just pull it out at the end, like a stick of cinnamon.

    2) Use Japanese eggplant (if you're using eggplant).

    3) Use full-fat coconut milk. The reason for that is pretty obvious. Fat seems to make a lot of things taste better.

    4)Add long beans at the end. I never find long beans anywhere except at Asian food stores. They really do add a certain something to curry.

    5) Add these fuzzy leaf thingies. I'm sorry, I don't know what they're called so this tip isn't very helpful. I know what they look like. They look a lot like fresh sage, only they're not sage.

    Have fun with your curry.

  2. How's your so-called vegetarian life going?