Meatless Monday is a movement to get Americans to eat less meat and more veggies through the simple expedient of not eating any animal products one day a week. It's a great way to segue into vegetarianism or even veganism, or just make a small but real difference in your health and the environment. To that end, on Meatless Mondays here at Soy Chai Bookshelf I will talk about anything related to food and vegetarianism, from cookbook reviews to to recipes I've created (don't hold your breath) to bragging about the delicious vegetarian feast I just whipped up to discussing in a (hopefully) not-too-judgemental way why vegetarianism is a great choice. I would also love to host guest posters on the topic, so if you're interested in being featured, send me an e-mail at jlmarck at gmail dot com.
SO MUCH FOOD STUFFS GOING ON! For me, that is. It's all very exciting.
This year the hubby and I signed up for a CSA at a local organic farm. For those not in the know, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, we bought a share in the farm and, in exchange, we get a weekly box of freshest produce, from around Memorial Day to rounds about Thanksgiving, which is about the same as the farmers' market season around here. The weekly yield depends on how the farm does during that time, so there's not guarantee on how much will be in the box each week. Just before the season started, there was a hail storm at one of their two farms, which destroyed tens of thousands of heads of lettuce but even still, the weekly portions have been more than generous (because of where we pick up, we had to get the family-sized package, which means a whole lotta salad. It's been really great though - the produce is so fresh and lasts so much longer than the stuff you get in the store (All that produce that's grown across the world and has been genetically modified to last longer? Just get it nearby, and you'll get the same result). Plus it's organic, so sometimes it comes with friends, like the cocooned caterpillar I found on one of my lettuce leaves. Sounds gross, but it was so cool! Everything's super dirty though, but processing it isn't so bad since I really feel like it's mine, since I have a stake in it. I took pictures of the first two weeks' yields - look at how green!
This influx in greens has also meant more green smoothies, which is a delicious and healthy way to get some more greens in your diet. Only problem is, I just broke my blender (third one in two years), and using an immersion blender to make a smoothie is rather awful. Soooooo.... I finally ordered a Vitamix! Vitamix and Blendtec are pretty much the blenders to have - super powerful and long-lasting, apparently they can make nut butters in seconds, so just imagine what they could do to tough kale leaves! I got a Vitamix because they have refurbished models available, which saves quite a bit of money (the Vitamix is not cheap) and still comes with a five-year warranty. Veggies, rejoice! If you're interested, I'll put my basic recipe for a green smoothie at the end of this post.
Finally, I got a new cookbook! Om nom nom! This was a total impulse buy, but I just couldn't resist. Apparently Doron Petersan, who owns a vegan bakery in Washington D.C., has won Food Network's Cupcake Wars twice, with vegan cupcakes! I'm telling you guys, vegan cupcakes are the way to go! The book is really fun, with recipes for basics, recreations of classic Hostess treats, and even the recipes for her winning cupcakes! There's also a bit of the science behind baking, which is given in a completely accessible manner. I really appreciate Doron's philosophy about vegan baking and eggs - the object isn't to replace the egg but to determine what you want (e.g. a delicate crumb, airiness, flakiness) and figure out how to get there. So when people ask, But what did you replace the egg with? you can confidently say, Nothing! And stop asking that damned question! So far, I've only made the chocolate cupcakes and vanilla frosting, but they were delicious! Which bodes well for the rest of the book. Happy baking!
My Green Smoothie Recipe
Don't be afraid to drink your greens! I put enough fruit in here that you can't even taste the green stuff, though you still get all the benefits. Oh, and on days when I drink green smoothies, I don't need my morning cup of tea. Slurp on that!
1 cup orange juice, plus more as needed
1 large handful greens (e.g. kale, chard, beet greens)
3/4 frozen banana (peel and freeze banana in quarters)
1/4 cup or so other frozen fruit (e.g. mango, pineapple)
If you're making this in a regular blender, I suggest you blend the juice and greens together first, to get them as smooth as possible, then add the frozen fruit. As for the frozen fruit, I suggest you avoid berries, unless you want to drink brown sludge. It'll taste good but it won't be as pretty. Likewise, using beet greens or rainbow chard won't affect the taste, but it probably will make the drink less appetizing.