Leader or Follower?

October 1, 2007 on 9:44 pm | By | In Food Musings | 2 Comments

So here it is, the first day of our Meatless For a Month (or MFaM for short) when I happen to pop by BlogHer. What do I see as the very first headline?

“Today’s World Vegetarian Day”

That’s right — October 1 is World Vegetarian Day, the kickoff to the North American Vegetarian Society’s Vegetarian Awareness Month. What a bizarre coincidence! I suspect I’ll be checking out the site frequently as we forge ahead on our quest.

But back to today’s meals.

Breakfast was typical — a bowl of Optimum Power cereal with black coffee — but temptation reared its ugly head the moment I hit Whole Foods. They’ve gone at LEAST a week without offering samples in the meat department (I never turn one down), but of course today they had a heaping platter of Polish sausage bites.

sigh

Must. Resist.

I also made the unfortunate decision to prepare roasted corn chowder for my client. Now you may think that would be allowed — it’s corn after all — but to make it extra tasty I fry up a quarter pound of diced bacon until crispy, then use some of the drippings to saute the onion and celery. Normally I’ll take a bite, or two, or, um, 10, of the bacon, but today it sat draining on a paper towel, taunting me with its salty, crispy baconny goodness. I finally had to throw it in the pot as the potatoes cooked for fear I’d lose my resolve (I didn’t even lick my fingers after throwing out the paper towel. Not that I’d EVER do that).

I had a quick cook date today so I waited until I got home to make a bean and cheese quesadilla. Boy, was it satisfying! So easy to make too — just spread some beans on half of a flour tortilla and sprinkle with some cheddar cheese. Fold over the top and “fry” in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until crispy and golden. (I say “fry” since I don’t even bother spraying the pan with oil. It doesn’t need it, and I’d rather use the calories for the cheese!). In fact, it’s so easy, I’m amazed these things even exist. Why on Earth would I waste my money on something that has only one purpose? According to the comments it helps “seal” in the filling, but really — once you bite into a piece isn’t the filling just going to come oozing out? Not only would it take up valuable space, I bet it’s a bitch to clean. Come on people! We don’t need another kitchen gadget!

(Okay, off my soapbox).

For dinner I tried Heidi’s recipe for Creamy Wild Rice Soup (p. 60). Fall has come with a vengeance to the Puget Sound, so a hearty, spicy soup sounded divine. Besides, I’m still trying to shake off the last vestiges of a cold. (By the way, I won’t be providing any of her recipes on the blog; I’d rather you support a fellow blogger and buy the book. Aside from the recipes, which are unique and easy to follow, she offers a wealth of information on various grains and whole & natural ingredients).

You cook the wild rice in a broth flavored with Thai red curry paste, shallots, onions and garlic, then add some coconut milk, turmeric, natural cane sugar, shoyu sauce and lime juice at the end. She has you top it with sweet potato “croutons,” but that’s where I deviated from the recipe. You’re supposed to pan fry the 1/4″ croutons until they’re brown and crispy all over, but I found they started burning before they were cooked through (perhaps I diced them too thickly). So just as they were starting to caramelize I threw the cubes into the broth with the wild rice. Dang, was it tasty! (I bet it would be good with butternut squash too. In fact, I make a Thai butternut squash soup, so I’ll share the recipe in a later post).

I used some wild rice from Trader Joes and found it needed much more than the 40 minutes to cook Heidi calls for (but as she says, a surefire way to know it’s tender is to taste it). The few grains I sampled seemed tender, but once I dug into a full bowl I realized I should have let it go for several more minutes. It certainly wasn’t bad, but a bit more crunchy than I would have liked.

A note about shoyu sauce, which is called for in many of Heidi’s recipes. Although I had heard of it, I had never tried it until today. I didn’t bother to look at how much it was (I couldn’t find it on the shelves so the checker had someone grab a bottle for me and bring it to the register). As I was going through my client receipt to deduct my purchases I saw that I had paid $6 for a 10-ounce bottle. Seems kinda spendy for a sauce that appears to be no different than soy sauce (shoyu is all-natural, organic and unpasteurized, while soy sauce is often chemically processed). So of course I had to do a taste test to see if it was worth it. I’m happy to say there is a world of difference. While the Kikkoman soy sauce was quite harsh and salty, the shoyu was light and fresh tasting, with just a hint of saltiness. For such a hearty soup as this you could get away with using regular soy sauce, but more delicate dishes would benefit from the shoyu.

I’d say Day 1 of MFaM was quite successful. It will be interesting to see if I lose any weight this month (I packed on a few pounds during our Paris trip. Who’d a thunk it — days and days of pâté, wine, cheese, wine, croissants, wine and cafe noir with sugar makes one a bit chunky!). But even if I do, it will be hard to know if it’s because of the vegetarian diet, or just me being more conscious of how much I eat (which I was planning on doing even if I maintained my carnivorous ways this month).

2 Comments

  1. You resisted bacon??? My, but you are a strong woman!

    Comment by Caffienated Cowgirl — October 2, 2007 #

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    Trackback by Patricia — October 18, 2007 #

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