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The Fat-Free Vegan on Valentine’s Day

Go see for yourself. The Fat-Free Vegan is one of my first sources for vegan recipies and ideas. Susan’s pumpkin pie went down fabulously in my house over Thanksgiving. My father, one of the biggest meat eaters I know and a pumpkin pie lover dujour, loved it. Since I’m not huge on soy, I used rice milk instead and it worked beautifully. I topped it with vegan whipped “cream” that you can purchase from Little Lad’s Basket locations (they also have a cook book available that gives you the recipe, maybe I’ll blog that in the future).

Susan is running a Valentine’s Recipe Competition (well not really a competition) for ideas on romantic low fat meals.

Here is our entry; a quick easy to make stir-fry and desert pairing… so you can spend more time with each other instead of at the stove.

DINNER

Ingredients

4 baby bok choi

hand full of oyster mushrooms, about 5 leaves

one large or two medium onions

three garlic cloves

chunk of ginger, about the size of your thumb

one large carrot, not going to attempt comparing this to anatomy, but use your judgement, use two if your’s is small…

four to five squirts of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (like soy sauce, got mine at Whole Foods)

Korean black bean paste, optional, use about a finger tip sized amount

Coconut Oil, optional, use about a finger nail sized amount (I used Nutiva since it’s organic and extra virgin, with the little fat you do use, might as well try to be as “healthy” as possible)

Rice (I use Basmati rice that I got in bulk, but feel free to use other varieties).

Directions

Start boiling the rice in a pot as per the directions on the particular rice you plan to use. By the time you are done chopping and washing all the veggies, your rice will be done. I add some coconut milk to it about part way through sometimes, but this is only optional and adds some nice aroma/flavour. Stir occasionally, I usually start stirring when I’m mid-way through crying over the onion. It’s a good break.

Slice your garlic cloves as small as you can get them. When I’m lazy, I leave them in chunks. I find in this recipe, that the garlic cooks to the point that the flavour does not cause any dreaded bad breath — yippee.

Cut the ends from the onion and then cut in half length-wise (opposite to how you might cut it to get rings). Peel the outer-layer off, place the flat side down and slice short-wise (you want half rings) into pieces that are about as wide as your pinky finger. Pull layers apart.

Now for the chunk of ginger. If you are lazy, just rinse and use a peeler to peel into small pieces. When it gets too small to handle, cut the rest into chunks with your knife. You may peel the ginger if you like, but I find that this is not always necessary.

Keep your peeler at hand and peel your carrot into long curly peels after washing/peeling off the outer layer. This is way easier than trying to cut into nice long strips.

In a non-stick wok, I use an anodized one from JCPenney that I got on sale for $12.00, place the above four ingredients with the coconut oil and turn your stove to simmer. While waiting for the onions to start getting soft add the optional Korean black bean paste (about a finger tip worth) and spritz the wok with your Braggs Liquid Aminos. Move the contents of your wok around every few minutes. If you find the wok getting smokey, add a few spritzes of water, some vegan low-sodium broth, more coconut oil, or a spritz of coconut milk, depending on how low-fat you want your meal.

Wash and clean your oyster mushrooms. Slice the oyster mushroom leaves into long strips (about a pinky finger wide) and add to the wok.

Wash and seperate the baby bok choi. Slice any large leaves in half length-wise. Turn up the heat just before adding these, although they cook fast, so add them to the pan when everything else is almost done (slightly clear onions is a good indicator). When the bok choi begins to wilt, you are done.

Place your rice onto plates and put your stir-fry over them.

Alterations to the ingredients that I like:

Different varieties of seaweed instead of bok choi or dried versions sprinkled on top.

Kale or Swiss chard (add sooner than the bok choi, they take longer to cook).

Peanut Butter (about the size of a lime) with Thai sweet chili sauce (about the size of a cherry tomato) mixed together makes a nice asian inspired sauce to add to stir-fry or even lentils.

Subsitute parsnip for the carrot.

DESSERT

Ingredients

2 or 3 Plantains, black on the outside so they are sweet

sugar, organic certified vegan varieties

Vegan whipped cream, optional

Directions

Peel and slice the Plantain lengthwise. Put onto a small non-stick oven cookie sheet (either with or without a small amount of coconut oil, depends how non-stick your pan is). Sprinkle with sugar and place into a 300 F oven (even a toaster oven works) until soft. Prick with a fork after about 15 minutes, then every few minutes after that to check if done. When done, arrange on plates with vegan whipped cream (like the one I got from Little Lads Basket) or eat straight. If you cannot find plaintain, a banana should work, although I’ve never tried this with a banana. Oh, if you don’t like using sugar, agave syrup and maple syrup are nice alternatives to drizzle on after baking.

Hope everyone has a lovely Valentine’s Day; we know we’re going to! 🙂

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February 11, 2007 at 3:43 am 5 comments

A Crisp Idea

shamsCrispina Fuschia Inc. was started by Crispina FFrench in 1987 while she was at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston when she began making ragamuffins (little critter stuffed animals) from old sweaters.

Today, Crispina Fuschia Inc. has expended their range to make a wide selection pillows, shams, coverlets, blankets, and rugs from recycled sweaters. This summer they have begun to move their new studio (well it is an old church) in Pittsfield, MA.

October 9, 2006 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Offseting Carbon Emissions

“Carbon offsets are an excellent way to manage emissions that we cannot easily or otherwise reduce ourselves”

Professor Diana Liverman
Director, Oxford University Environmental Change Institute

Offsetting your carbon emissions means paying someone to balance your production of CO2 by reducing CO2 in the atmosphere by an amount equivalent to your activities.

Climate Care (CC) is one company that offer offsets for such driving, flying, and homes. Their web-calculators will calculate CO2 Tonnes emitted by a given activity. All you have to do is enter a few parameters. A round-trip flight from London Heathrow to NY JFK emits 1.54 Tonnes of CO2 — a cost of only £11.55.   A petrol fueled car that gets 35 mpg emits 3.00 Tonnes of CO2 every 10,000 miles; the cost to offset is be £22.50.
How exactly do they offset your emmsions?

Where is this carbon sequestered?

Easy!  CC invests in projects across the world that reduce the amount of carbon that include renewable energy, energy efficiency, and forest restoration.  A third party does an assessment of the CO2 emissions pre- and post-project in order to calculate the reduction in CO2 acquired.

One such project is Lighting up Education in Kazakhstan, where CC provids the cost of compact fluorescent lamps that are being distributed to school children during workshops on climate change.  These lightbulbs are 5 x more efficient; the official report on the actual CO2 reduction is being done by The Climate Change Coordination Centre of Kazakhstan.  Other projects can be found here.

The company also offers services for Businesses — the Guardian Newspaper offsets some 700 tonnes of CO2 annually — and a range of gifts — £110.00 for offset emissions covering 150 guests and the couples honeymoon flights, equivalent to 14.5 tones of CO2.

October 9, 2006 at 1:02 am 1 comment

Vegetarian Options on the Interstate

You are on the run, pulling into a highway rest stop, and need to find some grub before you faint. Vegetarian-Restaurants.net is a site listing vegetarian restaurants, but most interestingly it has a section dedicated to fast food! They really do a good job of attempting to break down each “restaurant’s” menu; however, an overlying theme:

“As a rule they fry French fries and onion rings separately from the meats, but this is not strictly followed.”

If you have not already boycotted most of the larger chains because of their blatent disregard for the environment, health, and animal welfare, I suggest being creative with food from a supermarket, stock up on the trailmix or V8 from the quicky mart, or just pack food in your car for the whole trip. Fruit salads, nutritional bars, and most vegan sandwich fixings can last at room temperature for quite a few hours.

July 6, 2006 at 2:46 am 1 comment

CSA Update No. 1, Box #7.

Looking I think this week’s fruit & vegetable box from CSA could be one of the best ever. For $26.00, I received the following produce. It is all organic veggies and fruits, all fresh from the farm, and never frozen or treated for longer shelf life!

This Week’s Box:

  • Carrots – 1 bunch, with stems and leaves.
  • Red Beets – 1 bunch, with stems and leaves.
  • Cabbage – 1 head.
  • Fennel – 2 pieces.
  • Walla Walla Onions – 1 bunch, with scallion tops.
  • Zucchini Green – 1 lb.
  • Lettuce – 1 head.
  • Lettuce Mix – 1/2 lb.
  • Dill – 1 bunch.
  • Blueberries – 2 pints.

I have already made braised leeks and japanese white turnip (from last week’s box), cooked with garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, veggie broth, and white cooking wine for 15 to 20 minutes. It was VERY tasty and really hit the spot. Will have to take a shot at homemade coleslaw, let’s just hope mine will come close to those served up readily at tables across Poland… cabbage, dill, carrots…

July 6, 2006 at 2:29 am 1 comment

Lehman’s – Products for Simple, Self-sufficient Living

Cook Stove Lehman’s – Products for Simple, Self-sufficient Living – reminds us of our local Amish supply, and I have fallen completely for it. Might not be high-tech, new-fangle, eco-living, but there is something romantic and quaint about it. Heartland stoves, old fashioned oil lamps and hurricane lamps, reel lawn mowers, pine tar soap, wash boards, and hand ringers are just some of the items sold. A one stop household appliance shop! Well, one can only hope!

Among my favourites, the steel puzzles — like the unlucky horseshoe. Although classed as simple, my husband, boyfriend at the time, was impressed by my mastery of this toy.

July 2, 2006 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

Enviro Entrepreneur Summer School

Enviro Entrepreneur Summer SchoolEcoaesthete has just returned from the Enviro Entrepreneur Summer School run by QED Consulting (with help from various kind sponsors) at the University of Keele.

One can’t say much because of confidentially but all 30 or so attendees were passionate environmentalists with fascinating concepts or existing businesses.

We were treated to some delightfully inspirational talks from more established entrepreneurs:

  • Kelly Atkins from Carpet-Burns spoke about the last few years founding her business selling Heat-Treated Carpet, a wonderful material she accidentally discovered — as perhaps so many have — while thoughtlessly ironing some clothes on the carpet. In a patented process, after heat-treatment polypropylene carpet into a tough, water-proof, rigid material that retains the original carpet patternation. Cheaper than vinyl, it provides a funky, environmentally friendly alternative to other external and internal floor coverings.
  • Mark Shayler, a serial entrepreneur with seemingly endless energy, spoke about his motivation and experiences in business. His environmental product design consultancy Eco3 are making interesting strides into changing industry’s design culture (in light of new EU rules).

July 1, 2006 at 11:47 pm 4 comments

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