Site Meter

March 29, 2010

India, in photos

We started in Delhi..

..stopped off in Agra..

..dropped by Corbett National Park..

..and ended up in Darjeeling.

So what about the food, you ask? You will just have to wait and see.

March 6, 2010

A Shepherd's Pie and a Giveaway Winner

Thanks again to everyone who entered the Primal Strips giveaway! I used a random number generator to determine the winner, and the lucky number was 8. Congrats to Keri of I Eat Trees! Email me your mailing address and I will have your jerky winnings shipped right out.

I'll leave you this evening with a recipe worth checking out.

This Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe is brought to you by It Ain't Meat, Babe. This is a photo of my take on her recipe. I did not stray far from the original--just subbed red bell pepper for the corn. This pie is loaded with lentils and diced veggies, and flavored with miso, red wine vinegar, rosemary, and basil. Don't forget the generous helping of creamy mashed potatoes on top! This one is definitely a keeper. 

I have plans to squeeze in one more post before I leave on my trip to India on Wednesday. We will see how that goes though! There is still much to be done before I leave (such as packing). Have I mentioned that I am a terrible packer? I always overpack, and a trip like this one is the most challenging. Climate-wise I have to plan on a range of about 40 degrees difference (jungle vs. Himalayas). Of course I am doing carry-on only to complicate things, and I need to save lots of room in my luggage to bring all sorts of fun stuff back. I'm going to dive in head first on figuring out this packing situation tomorrow, wish me luck (and packing tips are welcome)! 

So anyway, just in case I do not have the chance to post again, I will catch up with you all when I return in a couple weeks. I may have occasional internet access via internet cafes, in which case I will be sure to post a blurb or two on twitter. I will be taking two different cooking classes during my stay, so I hope to come back with all sorts of fun stuff to share with you. I'll save all of the other details for later. Take care bloggy friends, and I'll talk with you soon!

March 3, 2010

Creamy Garbanzo-ball and Wild Rice Soup

I recently picked up some black short grain rice without any big plans on what I would use it for. The first thing that came to mind was coming up with a vegan friendly creamy chicken and wild rice soup. This sounded tasty and I was up to the challenge. 

I worked out all of the vegetables and also what the creamy dairy-free broth would be composed of, so the only thing left to figure was the chicken substitute. Chicken flavored bean balls would be fun, yes? Ah, yes, and I knew that garbanzo beans would be up to the task. 

The end result was creamy, hearty, and exactly what I was going for. My only complaint is that when I stirred the rice into the pot of gorgeous creamy white soup it discolored the broth a little bit. Of course this did not make the soup less delicious, it just made it a teeny bit less pretty for its closeup.

Creamy Garbanzo-ball and Wild Rice Soup
Serves 4

2 cups cooked short grain black rice (or wild rice, or blend of choice)
3 carrots, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of frozen peas
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tbsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
2-1/2 not chick'n bouillon cubes
1 cup rice milk
1 cup firm silken tofu (1/2 package)(or more for a thicker soup)
3 tbsp chickpea flour

1 15 oz. can chickpeas
1/2 not chick'n bouillon cube
1/2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tbsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp water
1/2 cup chickpea flour

Spray soup pot with olive oil cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if onions start to stick. Stir in garlic and saute for another minute before mixing in carrots, celery, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. Continue to saute, stirring often for 5 minutes. Add water and bouillon cubes and stir until bouillon dissolves completely. Turn up heat to bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Meanwhile start the garbanzo-balls.

Combine all ingredients except the chickpea flour in food processor and puree. Add in flour gradually and pulse until fully incorporated. The flour should dry out the mixture a little bit, but it should still be moist. The mixture should be easy to roll into balls, and shouldn't be overly sticky and moist. Spray a large non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat. Grab a heaping tablespoon of the bean mixture and roll into a ball and add into the skillet as you go. The mixture should make about 20 balls. Roll the garbanzo-balls around in the pan every 2 minutes or so, to brown all sides. You just want these to lightly brown and crisp up on the outside, but watch carefully to not darken them too much as this will dry them out. 

The garbanzo-balls should be done in 10-15 minutes, and by this time the veggies in the soup pot should be tender and ready to go. Remove the bay leaves and mix in the frozen peas. Puree rice milk, tofu, and chickpea flour in your blender and then stir into the soup pot. Lastly stir in your garbanzo-balls and rice and bring to temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I am submitting this soup to the March No Croutons Required blogging event, in which the theme is soups and salads featuring chickpeas. Vote for your favorite soup or salad starting March 20.

Don't forget to enter my Primal Strips giveaway, open until the end of the day this Friday, March 5!

March 1, 2010

Primal Strips Giveaway

From hot dogs to chicken nuggets, there seems to be vegetarian substitutes for just about any kind of meat out there. One thing that I never thought I would see is meatless jerky - until now. The good people at Primal Strips contacted me to see if I would be interested in trying their vegan jerky. Being unfamiliar with this company and their products I did a bit of research before responding. I was pleased to find that the jerky is all natural, preservative free, and has a very short list of recognizable ingredients. Additionally, I couldn't find a negative word out there about this company or the jerky.

I accepted the invitation to sample the jerky, but with one request. It's not as fun if only I get to try it, so I asked that I be able to offer one of you a shot at winning a package of jerky to try as well. They accepted my request, so I am happy to announce my very first giveaway featuring Primal Strips. More on how to enter after we talk jerky.

Primal Strips Vegan Jerky is available in six different flavors: Teriyaki, Thai Peanut, Hot and Spicy, Mesquite Lime, Texas BBQ, and Hickory Smoked. The first four flavors are wheat protein based (vital wheat gluten), and the last two are soy based and gluten free. On average these strips are 100 calories and have 10 grams of protein each, which makes for a light protein packed snack. 

Biting into my first strip I was immediately shocked by how flaky, moist, and tender it was. You will need a napkin, because the sauce will leave you with sticky fingers. The sauce on each variety has great flavor but is never overpowering. Great example, I am not a fan of smoky flavors, so I was not anxious to try the Hickory Smoked flavor. It did turn out to be my least favorite flavor, but the sauce was mild enough that I did not hate it. My absolute favorites are Thai Peanut, Teriyaki, and Texas BBQ.

The timing for me to encounter Primal Strips could not have been more perfect. I have been on the lookout for easy to pack, nutritious snack foods to bring with me on my trip to India (now just a week away!). These strips will be great tucked away in my pack during tiger sightseeing safaris, rafting in the Himalayan Mountains, or perhaps to enjoy with a cup of tea in Darjeeling. That is if they survive the 15 hour flight over!

So, you say you want to try vegan jerky too? Alright, giveaway time! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. I will accept entries until 11:59 pm on March 5. I will use a random number generator to determine the winner and announce it on Saturday, March 6.

You may enter up to 3 times by doing the following (leave a separate comment for each entry):
1. Leave a comment, any kind of comment will do
2. Tweet about the giveaway
3. Mention the giveaway on your blog and link back to me

Good luck!