Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sustainability Contest! Win $5,000 for you plus $5,000 for charity and more!

I got the following e-mail to share with you.

"Hi –We want to let you and your readers know about an exciting contest we at Nature’s Path are hosting with Everyday with Rachael Ray called “My Path to Sustainable Living.” We are searching for people who understand the importance of giving back, sustainability and the value of good nutrition and its connection to the earth. We want to know where you are on the path to sustainability – how did you first get on the path, where you are now and where you want to go next?
The winner will receive $5,000 for themselves as well as $5,000 for a charity of their choice from a list of amazing organizations. The winner will also receive a year’s supply of Nature’s Path breakfast products and a block party hosted by Nature’s Path in the winner’s community where they will provide an organic breakfast for up to 100 attendees. Additionally they will appear in the February 2010 issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine."

How cool would it be for a vegan blogger to win this! The charity list is on the entry form. 500 words about our path to greener living? Jeez, we do that all the time. Best of luck!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Vegan Buddhist Japanese in NYC

Last week we went to dinner at Kajitsu in the East Village in NYC. Here's the info from their website:

"Kajitsu serves shojin cuisine, an ancient Japanese cuisine developed in Zen Buddhist monasteries. Following the Buddhist principle of not taking life, Shojin cuisine does not use meat or fish. Meals are prepared from fresh, in season vegetables, legumes, wild herbs, seeds and grains, chosen at the moment in the season that best reflects their flavor. At Kajitsu we make our delicious and wholesome dishes from high quality ingredients prepared with traditional Japanese culinary techniques."

Kajitsu has a prix fixe menu with 2 options that changes every month and is very dependent on the season. We sprung for the 8 course menu ($70) and they also have a 4 course ($50) option.

Nagaimo Dumpling with Blanched Kikuna and Sesame Sauce. (Website photo-I was hungry and forgot to bust out the camera, but it looked just like this.)

Arare Encrusted Nama-fu and Steamed Yuba in a Clear Broth. This was a broth with seitan cubes - but they were lighter then "normal" seitan. The yuba is the skin from soy milk and is quite delicious.

Komatsuna Greens Tossed with Fried Tofu, Couscous and Kabocha Squash Pate, Tomato Agar Agar. The red square was a whole cherry tomato encased in a tomato jello.

House-made Soba Noodles Served Tanuki Style. These were homemade soba (buckwheat) noodles.

This isn't a course, it's the special 7 spice blend for the soba noodles. I think it's cute with the little wood peg that looks like a nose.

Spaghetti Squash Served with Late Summer Vegetables in Kuzu Sauce.

This is the spaghetti squash as it's served from the gourd.

Ginger Mitsuba Rice with Roasted Eggplant and House-made Pickled Vegetables
The eggplant was smoky deliciousness. I was getting full, so I had trouble finishing the rice! It was topped with Japanese herbs.

Kuzu Mochi with Dates. Whew, this was the perfect size dessert.

Matcha and Ariheito Style Candies by Kyoto Shioyoshiken - I forgot to snap a photo, but this was 3 sugar candies shaped like this and a bowl of matcha tea.

I gotta say, I was stuffed, but very fulfilled with this meal. I think just 4 courses wouldn't have been as satisfying. The restaurant is practically silent and the service is impeccable. Each dish is meticulously served, and the waiter was gracious enough to explain all the interesting ingredients and techniques. Loved it. Worth the splurge and I will definitely go back soon. I can't wait to see the October menu. I think I'm going to have to talk someone into taking me there again for my birthday.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meatless Mondays - Creamy Pasta Fazool

I was reading Dan Brown's, The Lost Symbol *and I was struck by the fact that veganism seems to pass the prerequisites for an ideology to qualify as religion (disclaimer, I am not actually suggesting veganism is a religion, just bear with me...)

ABC. Assure, Believe, Convert.

Veganism assures good health, believes in compassion to animals, and seeks to convert non-vegans.

How do you convert the non-vegans, you ask? Be the example. But it's so hard, they say. Well, start small and try to pick one day a week to go meatless, or at least one meal a week. Meatless Mondays is a group seeking to get America to give up the meat for one day a week. Not strictly vegan, mind you (veg daily is on them about that,) but it's a good place to start.

So here's an EASY rainy Meatless Monday dinner of comfort food. Pasta! Ready in under 30 minutes. Beat that Rachel Ray!

I like my noodles pretty simple. This is a light and tomatoey sauce that whips up in a snap with canned tomatoes and chickpeas. Blended beans are a great way to sneak in some extra fiber and protein, and make the sauce extra rich and creamy. Serves 2-4.

Creamy Pasta Fazool
1/2 lb (half package) spaghetti
1 cup canned chickpeas (or cannellini, or navy, or anything similar)
1 15oz can (2 cups) diced tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
1 TBS olive oil
2 garlic cloves (smashed in a garlic press or grated on a micro plane-you want it really fine)
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)

Boil water in large pot.

While the pasta water is heating, blend chickpeas, tomatoes, and seasoning in blender. Since you're using canned ingredients, it may be salty enough already, if not, blend in a few pinches of salt and taste again.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or sauce pan and add garlic. Saute garlic a minute or so, then add the blended tomato mixture and heat thoroughly. Give it another taste for salt as it heats up (careful, don't burn your tongue.) Also, depending on your canned tomatoes, you may want to add a little sugar (1-2tsp.) Totally optional, but it sometimes helps if the sauce is a little bland.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and add to sauce to incorporate.

Buon appetito!

*I don't want to discuss The Lost Symbol since it just came out and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Recommended if you liked the DaVinci Code or enjoy a good thriller with a history lesson. I'm not going to call it quality literature.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cancer bites.

Cancer bites. A big part of the reason that keeps me vegan is fear of cancer, or rather a stubborn refusal to ever get it. As you may know, my father died of colon cancer a few years ago, my paternal grandmother died of brain cancer, and my aunt and grandfather had some skin cancer. So, I've already got the family history working against me. I just learned that yet another friend's mother has passed away after a battle with cancer.

These are the mom's of childhood friends who were a big part of my growing up as well.

Here's to Maggie's mom for always stopping for french fries at Tony's on the way home from nursery school and for having me over for countless dinners including my favorite, shake-n-bake. To Ginger's mom who used to write notes from the dog to tell us where she was while we raided the fridge after school. And to Kristie's mom who I think of every time I see Sally Field and who always seemed to catch us doing something silly. She would always just laugh at us about it. You are all missed very much.
Etching by Kristie Betts Letter

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Vegan sausage and cheese super muffin

Yup, it's yet another totally vegan, but totally meaty meal. I found some organic spelt vegan english muffins and I am still experimenting with the various vegan cheeses. I got some cheddar style teese with my last order from pangea so here's a sausage and teese breakfast sammich. It would probably be even better with a breakfast style sausage, but I had some field roast apple sage sausage that worked out just fine.

First off, the teese got really melty. It literally oozed out when I cut into the sammich. I lightly toasted the english muffin then put the teese on top and broiled for a few minutes while the sausage heated up in a pan. This was really good. If you're craving something meaty and cheesy for breakfast, this easy sammich will deliver.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Random stuff about menu engineering, Buffy, and vegan meet up

It's already halfway through the month and I haven't popped in a blog post yet? I'm not saving up ideas for this year's MoFo in October, though I should. I've been cooking much of the usual, which isn't very blog worthy and for some reason I'm on a rice and beans kick. So here's what I'm doing instead of blogging...well, besides working obviously. (Just got busted for writing this at work...)

One of my favorite random facebook finds is econ girl's website Economists Do It With Models. Here's a recent post about menu engineering. Apparently, taking the currency sign out of the price gets people to spend more. Also, putting in a high priced item few people are expected to order will make any other dishes look cheaper in comparison. If we're so easily manipulated, I think there has to be ways to sneak more vegan food onto the non-veg masses. Someone just needs some economic incentive.

The Guild. Felicia Day one of the potential slayers in Buffy and heroine of Dr. Horrible's sing along blog, has a web series called the Guild which is about a group of online gamers. Here's a link to episode 1 Wake Up Call. And check out the video for Do you wanna date my avatar?

And just in case you're missing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 8 is available in comic book form starting with The long way home. Book 5 comes out later this month. It's really good. Nice to see what can be achieved when you don't need an astronomical special effects budget.

And if I haven't proven my nerdiness, I've been watching Bleach on hulu in Japanese with English subtitles. It's also on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, but it's pretty far into the series.

So since, CLEARLY I need to get out more and get a life, I'm headed to a vegan eatup group dinner tonight at the Peacefood Cafe in NYC. That'll give me something vegan to blog about tomorrow.