Recipes This Week; Still Eating Thai

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Catching up on the new recipes I made this week. See what happens when I miss one day of blogging the progression? It turns into two missed days, then three, then an entire week goes by and I find myself needing to write a ‘super’ sized blog entry. The order of the days we had the new eats isn’t too relevant, but the grades and rating we gave the new recipes determines if we will have that one again … or not.

So here goes. And again, most of the recipes come from VegWeb.com – where I have my recipe box, and ability to plan meals and print out my grocery shopping list.

Sweet and Spicy Thai Stir Fry

2 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
2 small jalepeno peppers
snow peas
Spanish red onion or shallots
1 pkg Lo-mein noodles (thin yellow spaghetti like chinese noodles)
1 jar sweet red pepper Thai ssauce
1/2 cup sweet plum sauce
soy sauce

Directions:

Slice the green peppers into 1/2 wide long strips. Dice all other peppers down to about 1/2 square. Slice ends from snow peas, otherwise leave them whole. Dice red onion or shallots smaller than the coloured peppers.

Run the lo-mein noodles under cold water in a collander for about 5 minutes to loosen.

In one stir-fry pan or wok add all peppers and snow peas (feel free to add any of your other favourite veggies to this wok as well). Add a bit of oil, about a tablespoon of soya sauce, and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the jar of Thai Sauce. Stir fry at med heat until the sauce has thickened slightly and the vegetables are well cooked.

In a second stir fry pan or wok add bean sprouts and lo-mein (can be substituted with a nice tri-color rotini pasta). Add a bit of oil, soya sauce, and just enough plum sauce to glaze the noodles and sprouts. Stir fry for about 5 – 7 minutes on med heat, until noodles are hot and sprouts have wilted.

Voila, serve veggies woks contents over the noodle contents. The veggies will spice up your mouth, the noodles will chill it out, and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it (my roommates at university did when I first created this one)!

(We Loved This One! It is just as the contributor said – veggies spice up your mouth while the noodles coated in the plum sauce chill out your mouth. I was very surprised, since I’m not a big fan of green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers – but it was delicious! I didn’t have Lo-Mein noodles, and instead used Angel Hair Spaghetti noodles. I also did not have snow peas, so did not use. We liked the results so well, that I would repeat again using the modified recipe as I made it. We will use the recipe as taste treat to ourselves and as special dish for company.)

Thai Cucumber Salad

2-3 whole cucumbers
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3-5 cloves garlic (to taste), minced
1 large shallot, minced
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Wash cucumbers well and peel (I like to leave some of the skin on for color, but it’s of course optional). Slice in rounds as thinly as possible.

Place in bowl and cover with vinegar, sugar, and salt, stir to dissolve. Add garlic and shallot, mix well.

May be served immediately although I find the flavor improves if it’s allowed to rest in the refrigerator for up to two hours. Add pepper flakes to taste when serving, if using.

(We enjoyed the salad like cucumbers with the spicy sweet taste – gets the taste buds going. Will make this one often, good use for cukes in the summer when cucumbers are garden plentiful)
Egg Rolls – using recipe on the wrapper package. While I intended to make Spring rolls (not cooked – certainly not deep fried), I wound up having to go in a different direction. I had purchased the wrong type of wrappers which required cooking first. I will be sure to purchase the correct kind of wrappers next time as I wanted Spring Rolls, not Chinese type Egg Rolls. Anyway, I wound up following the recipe on the wrapper package, deep frying them or wok frying them – but nonetheless, this is not a ‘healthy’ kind of recipe.

Chop Suey

3 stalks celery, diced
half a small cabbage, diced
2 large onions, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
3 tablespoon oil
1 cup vegetable stock
half a teaspoon yeast extract
half a teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon corn flour
4 tablespoon water
salt & 125g bean sprouts

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pan, add all the vegetables except the bean sprouts and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, add the yeast extract and the soy sauce. Mix the cornflour and water, add to the vegetables, season and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and cook for a further 2 minutes. Serve with boiled rice.

(Well – the ol’ Chop Suey which is not Thai and I think more a Chinese dish hybrided for Western palletes. This was filling and that makes it a good, thrifty type recipe for using those odds and ends veggies, and rice. I don’t have corn flour, but I do have soy flour, so I used that instead. And I’m not sure what yeast extract is, but I do have nutritional yeast so I used that and perhaps it is the same thing. I think there are likely a number of Chop Suey recipes, so this one is probably not more or less outstanding than another Chop Suey recipe. It is after all Chop Suey.)
Chow Mein which is a recipe I already posted here (using chicken). I made this for us this week, using tofu instead of chicken and it was probably just as good. I would make it again because I love those crispy chow mein noodles!

Simple Thai Pizza

pizza crust (I use the easy, yummy, and Quick Pizza Crust recipe from this site or Rustic
Crust)
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
2 tablespoons peanut or sesame oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter, unsalted & all-natural
1/4 cup tamari
1 lime, juice only
1/2-1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (make sure to check label for fish sauce or shrimp
paste)
8 oz. of your choice of protein – Morningstar Farms Chicken Meal Starters, or Thai-Style
marinated baked tofu
1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
1/2 cup carrot, shredded or julienned
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450*F.

Mix the ginger in with the oil. Brush mixture (I use a silicone basting brush) across the pizza crust.

Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.

Mix together the peanut butter, tamari, lime juice and curry paste. Spread this on the crust and top with remaining ingredients. (TIP: If you are using MSF Meal Starters, put them on the pizza BEFORE the sauce and they will absorb lots of extra flavor.)

Bake for 10 additional minutes.

Makes a great appetizer for parties. Serves: 6-10 slices

Preparation time: 15 minutes prep + 10 minutes baking

(We appreciated this recipe as a replacement for our ‘Friday Night’ treat meal. We usually will have a store-bought DiGiorno’s Pizza or I will make us Hoagies or Sweetie will bring home subway sandwhiches from Subways. Sometimes we would have a take out Chinese meal, but that was rare. So I made this Thai Pizza and it was Great! I used a refridgerator packaged prepared pizza crust. Followed the directions and ingredients list, using tofu (that I baked first) and it was a most interesting tasting pizza. I will make it again, but the sauce was a bit runny, not sure how to avoid that in future. Fun pizza for guests.)

Deersong

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Cooking Thai – the Asian grocery store where I live.

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I know, I know – I’ve neglected my blog(s). Quick update to my little adventure of learning to cook Thai (vegan Thai) and yes we are still eating pretty much strictly Thai. I won’t add the latest recipes to this post, but I will be adding them to the blog shortly. It’s been a month now – my – a month has passed since I began converting us to vegetarian. I’ve been cooking vegan Thai recipes for a month now. Thai cooking is not meat free, and I have been using the vegan Thai recipes at Vegweb. No sense adjusting to Thai food with meat only to remove the meat later, so this is what we now know to be Thai cooking – the vegan way. (No, it wasn’t my plan to go vegan religiously; vegetarian yes, but not vegan, so this is more the convenience that Vegweb offers in providing recipes from people who are vegans!)

Update 1) I made Spring Rolls, which are NOT egg rolls, although I wound up also making egg rolls because initially I had purchased the wrong kind of wraps. So egg rolls are egg rolls and the wraps include a combination of flour and eggs and the recipes for the fillings vary, but essentially you wind up cooking the little dumplings in hot oil. I wondered as I was dipping them into the basket of cooking oil how this isn’t much different than french fries or fried chicken parts.
And yes they were good, tasty and I enjoyed the egg rolls, but I digress.

Spring rolls are not cooked. The wraps are actually tapioca based and flat like a tortilla. To make the spring rolls, the basic recipe is a use of a mix of vegetables (carrots, onions, bean threads, cooked tofu, mint or cilantro) wrapped in a lettuce leaf or two, then the whole thing is wrapped in the tapioca based shell. The shell is set into water for a few minutes to soften, then removed and kept softened between two clean, wet dish towels. Whle still soft, the vegetable combination of ingredients are wrapped into the shell in a kind of burrito fashion.

It’s quite ‘artsy’ when finished, the green lettuce shows through the transparent shell. The taste is fresh and the mint or cilantro add to that sense of ‘freshness’. The Spring Rolls can then be dipped into a peanut sauce and it’s a quite lovely eating experience. When I sent these along with Sweetie for his lunch, he came home and reported there was a lot of ooohh la la- ing from his work buddies and I think Sweetie was kind of impressed that his wife had sent along a ‘specialty’ for his lunch.

Update 2) The Asian grocery store where I shop. Obviously I have made many more vegan Thai dishes since I last blogged, and the Spring Rolls get special mention because they were a labor of love and ‘art’. So I have been back to the Asian grocery store for the second time now to replace some ingredients and get some new ingredients. It is still a bit of a time consuming experience as I continue to learn the various ingredients. I spend a lot of time reading what lables I can that are in English, and asking about labels that are in Asian languages with no English anywhere. It is a pleasant experience.

The Asian grocery store called Ping’s Market also has a ‘restaraunt’ area and a limited menu of items that the store owner cooks and serves. I had the Pad Thai noodles and Spring Rolls in my first shopping trip which inspired me to actually make Spring Rolls at home. In my second shopping trip, my granddaughter (15 yr old Emo kid – by her own description of herself) was with me. I shared the ‘lunch’ experience with her and she was Not impressed – more like ‘ugh’, but it’s okay, because someday when she is 35 or 48 she will remember this lunch experience with her grandmother.

The store owners are quite elderly and a younger woman, one of their daughters, was there the first time I went and again this second time. I asked her if they had the dvd that was playing on the tv the last time I was there – it was a series of Thai dancers and singers. I wanted my granddaughter to see the dancing. She went to see about the dvd, and came back with one (I don’t think it was the one I wanted to see, but that is okay) which she put in. I began asking some questions and that generated conversation with her. She shared with me that her parents were, in fact, refugees, having left Laos at the time of Vietnam war, to Thailand, where they remained in refugee camp for 5 yrs. Then they crossed over as one of the many ‘boat people’ to America on a sponsorship by the many churches that were sponsoring Asians at that time.

She relayed to me a tad bit of a story her mother tells her. Since she was already born, and her parents were escpaping with her when she was but a baby, her mother explained how desperate survival was for everyone. Mother explained that had baby made sounds or noise, the others accompanying them would have felt compelled to drown both mother and baby. I felt empathy for how terrifying that must have been for the mother. I am not a stranger to these kinds of stories, as in our little remote community several families that are refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have settled here. The region where we live has a sparse population of people and only a few communities among a county full of trees, wetlands, mudflats, rivers, sloughs which all feed into or out of the Willapa Bay, which meets up with the Pacific Ocean. A bit of a quiet life for war-torn refugees. I spent 16 years as a case manager with our State social services programs, so I have had my share of interviewing and helping refugee families over the years, including here where we now live.

What was intriguing to me about the story as the daughter told it is that the daughter relates more to her life in America than her life as an infant and child in the refugee camps. As Daughter shares the story with me, it seems to come across in a tone that implies the story seems a bit unreal to the Daughter. I am reminded again that now that I am into those mid-elderly years of 55, how important passing along the heritage stories are to not only my childrens’ generation but their childrens’ generation. I don’t know what my 15 yr old granddaughter will remember about the lunch, but I hope when she is herself an adult and past the ‘teen’ dramas, she will remember the Daughter’s story.

How fortunate I am that Ping’s Market exists in the small town communities that have so little in the way of choices to offer. It wouldn’t exist here in this remote location except that some of the refugee Asian families chose to move here and remain here. I live in a fishing village, population of a mere few hundred. Nearby towns have population of a few thousand, but nothing of the size that warrants the ‘shopping mall’, ‘strip mall’, ‘box stores’ type businesses. Nor would I like to see these communities catch up with ‘progress’ enough to desire or want to attract such businesses.

Deersong

Roasted Sweet Potato Sticks with Rosemary – a healthy ‘snack’ food

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I haven’t fixed this ‘snack’ yet, but I feel pretty confident having made roasted, seasoned potatos, and recently having made Eggplant Chips. So, putting the recipe here for reference and when I get more sweet potatoes, I’ll be sure to make this one. I bought sweet potatoes at our last grocery outing, but they were intended for the Thai and vegetarian recipes I collected. I can recommend the sweet potato Thai recipe, not the vegetarian sweet potato – lentil recipe. But, even so, I’m spoiled in wanting my sweet potatoes to taste like the recipe I use at Thanksgiving.

Found the recipe this morning at Apartment Therapy (interesting blog by the way).

Roasted Sweet Potato Sticks with Rosemary

1 pound sweet potatoes, washed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 425ºF. Cut the sweet potatoes into thick sticks. Toss with the rosemary, oil, salt and pepper and spread in one layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan and stirring occasionally.

They don’t get crispy, like fried fries, but instead they’re tender in the middle with some crunchy edges. Rosemary is just one seasoning idea – try tossing them with thyme, chili powder, or paprika.

Other suggestions from the comments;

Try split batches – half savoury; with chili pepper and cumin, and half sweet; with cinnamon and nutmeg and served with maple syrup.

Try using butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes.

(If you have a variation on the recipe, please post it in comments. I was wondering if you could make these ‘fries’ using pumpkin, squashes, yams?)

Deersong

Converting back to Vegetarian Lifestyle – can we do it?

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We have done the Ornish diet a few years back, which is primarily vegetarian. Not vegan, though – there is a dramatic difference as I learned from my daughter – see her blog Veganville. When we did the conversion to Ornish, I had to completely rework my kitchen pantry, learn to cook in a completely different way, and I came to have an appreciation for the amount of time it can take to prepare food the vegetarian way.

I’m still enamoured with the 1970’s ‘Earth Mother’ imagery; growing a garden, putting up food, drying herbs and produce, cooking vegetarian, long dresses, getting back and closer to nature. Times have changed since the 70’s, and now it is more about sustainable living; organic produce; vegan; intentional living; home-schooling; family values – but it still much resembles much of those efforts of the 1960’s into 1970’s. No, I never was into the drug culture at any decade of my 55 years, and no I am not a left over hippie by any means. I was a young military wife to a young husband, drafted and sent to Vietnam – I wasn’t sure then what to think of the 60’s hippies protests and lifestyles. I just knew drugs wasn’t part of what I wanted, so I was one who observed from the sidelines, rather then one who lived the lifestyle.

Somehow, I think I wanted to participate in the sanitized version – drug free and in possession of my mental faculties. I look back now at some of those 1970s era cookbooks with the few vegetarian recipes which seem pretty boring now. I’m not new to lifestyle changes. Not sure I can do what my daughter did and go completely vegan = no animal products at all; no dairy, (no eggs, no butter, no milk) and no meats whatsoever. But I took the self-test at RealAge.com (it has since become part of Sharecare) and had my husband take the self test too. It measures chronological age against life habits to come up with your ‘healthy’ age. My husband and I lost years and while our heads knew some of our unhealthy lifestyle habits, a wake up call is helpful. We are over the hill now and losing years is not a welcome concept.

Not without hope though, along with the test results, RealAge also provides a fairly comprehensive personalized regimen of lifestyle changes we can make now to influence having more, not less years. And interestingly, for both of us, our regimen indicated a reduction of red meat to 4 oz. a week. As we convert to that standard, it makes sense to begin overall reduction of meat in our diets(carnivore eating).

Hat’s off to my daughter then, for her dedicated effort to completely convert her family to vegan – not easily done when she has a husband who is a serious meat eater.
She took it steps further than I was able to take it and has taught me much about today’s standards for animal farming. I tend to think of that image of a farm with a couple of cows for milk, cutter, roasts, and steaks; some chickens for eggs; a pig to butcher for family’s winter supply of meat; a farm dog; a produce garden; kids running around; a keeping room; canning preserves and such like images. Nice safe images of yesteryear. My daughter’s wake up call is unsettling in that yesteryear is no more with animal farming and husbandry. Steroids, animal cruelty beyond inhumane, killer chickens, exhausted cows dying from producing milk 24/7, slaughterhouses which are far from humane, animal testing…. yes, it’s enough to make us flinch from contributing to the misuse of our animal friends.

Deersong