Jan 24, 2012

Days 100 - 106/240: Sorry!

It has been far too long between posts. I have plenty of reasons for this hiatus, but nothing that excuses my slapdash performance. Let me simply say that it looks as though the problems have been resolved and I have no option but to post my make up work. I will have to try to work backwards, because I haven't been making notes.
  • Day 106/240: Big late lunch at Beth Israel Hospital (just visiting a relative). Vegetarian Chili with a hummus and cucumber slices salad. Tonight I'll have peanut butter sandwiches.
  • Day 105/240: Sunchokes, onions, and Brussels sprouts marinated in Gui-lin sauce and roasted.
  • Day 104/240: Tofu, pressed and marinated in ginger and sesame oil, coated with sesame seeds, then grilled and served over brown rice with a spicy hot peanut sauce.
  • Day 103/240: In an experimental frame of mind I made Vietnamese spring rolls but added a dollop of zkhuk yarok inside each of them. It turned out very nicely especially when dipped in a tahini garlic sauce.
  • Day 102/240: Whatever it was was forgettable since I have forgotted it.
  • Day 101/240: Vegetable tempura at a local pan-Asian joint.
  • Day 100/240: I fasted in support of the defeat of SOPA and PIPA ... not. I had I nice thick root vegetable stew.
Note: If anyone thinks that this is my only blog, you might want to visit A New Anatomy of Melancholy, and Jerry Lettvin 1920-2011. A fourth blog Henry and the Nipping Jig is lying fallow until I can get re-started on the project that it's meant to document.

Jan 17, 2012

More on SOPA and PIPA

The Day the LOLCats Died 
Sopa Strike
TuCows on SOPA
BoingBoing on SOPA
Reddit on SOPA
Alexis Ohanian on SOPA


Day 99/240: Hummus Rollups

I made my dinner of hummus with julienned broccoli and carrots, beansprouts and cabbage rolled up in a tomato flatbread with zkhuk for dipping into. It has been a long day and tomorrow is likely to be just as challenging. I'm going to be going flat out all day with car repairs, human repairs, etc.

The Blogger templates make it tricky to blackout this blog so I'm going to make do with a banner (see upper right) and a graphic. I will also post something on the subject.

Jan 16, 2012

A word of warning and invitation

I will be participating in the Stop SOPA strike on Wednesday. I'm not sure what form my protest will take yet but if you see a banner or something blacked out, that's why. It may just be a diatribe about freedom of speech and the problems with censorship.

You should consider participating too. Find out more from Tucows and BoingBoing and sign up at SOPAstrike.

Day 98/240: Not Hummus

I made up the hummus but decided at the last minute to stick it in the fridge and make a tomato chickpea curry for tonight with brown basmati rice. It was an excellent decision.

Jan 15, 2012

... or not!

I went out book shopping with my wife and ended up having a late lunch/early dinner at a local bistro. Veggie Burger and onion strings.

I think I'll let the chickpeas cook for a while longer and turn them into hummus tomorrow.

Day 97/240: Hummus tonight

I have a bunch of chickpeas in the crockpot. I'll cook them all afternoon and tonight I'll portion them out.

Some will get bagged and go into the freezer for another day, the rest will become hummus for dinner tonight and snacks tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to the hummus since I bought some sumac during my grocery run last week and I'm looking forward to finding out how it changes the taste of the chickpeas.

Day 96/240: Yak Wings

Okay, it's a stupid name for this recipe. I'll work on it.

This was just one component of a meal that also included roasted slices of sweet potato and rice.

  1. Freeze solid a 1 pound package of firm tofu. 
  2. Defrost it and drain it as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Slice it into about 6-8 thick slices.
  4. Marinate in Sriracha or some other hot sauce.
  5. Coat with oil.
  6. Roast for about 40 minutes at 350 (or until a good crust forms).
  7. Serve with mango chutney as a dipping sauce.

Very tasty. Next time I might make it hotter but YMMV.

Day 95/240: Quick and Hearty Potato Soup

Put about three pints of stock into a large saucepan and start heating it. Peel and dice two large potatoes, and a yellow onion. Chop up four stalks of celery. Put all the vegetables into the saucepan. Add any herbs and spices you prefer (I used about two teaspoons of Mrs. Dash Italian blend beacause I'm trying to use it up) and cook until everything is fairly soft.

Strain the solids and put them through a blender or food processor until smooth. Add them back to the liquid and cook down until the preferred consistency is reached.

Serve with a generous spoonful of pesto floating in the middle.

Day 94/103: Lamacun

I hydrate the TVP and some dried mushrooms with vegetable stock that has simmered with some jalapeno chilis to give it some bite. Then I mix in minced garlic, minced onion, freshly ground coriander and cumin, a glug or two of olive oil and a good dollop of red pepper or tomato paste.
I mix that thoroughly, and put it in the fridge for a few minutes, I pre-heat the oven to 350 with one rack on the second highest position and the other right in the middle. While it’s heating I split a half dozen or so pitas into single layer disks (smooth side down), and start spreading the TVP mixture on the upper surface so that it nearly reaches the edge.
When the oven’s ready, I have two cookie sheets, sprayed with olive oil, ready with two pita disks on each. The first tray goes on the middle rack for 4-5 minutes then I move it to the top rack and put the second tray in. After another 4-5 minutes I pull the first tray, move the second up, unload the first, then reload it and continue that process until all of the disks have been cooked.
It sounds far more complicated than it really is but, f you plan it right, the whole operation takes less than 20 minutes,
This is a very malleable recipe, nearly anything that you would use to top a pizza can be brought into the mix. I’m particularly fond of pitted oil-cured black olives, but mushrooms, capers, etc. are fine additions. If you're not as strict a vegetarian as me, you can also add cheese. 

Jan 11, 2012

Day 93/240: Tofu a l'Antarctique

As I said a few days ago, I heard that freezing tofu changed its texture significantly so I decided to try it. I put a pound block of tofu in the freezer a couple of days ago and froze it solid. Then I defrosted it, gently squeezed the liquid out of it, wrapped it in a clean dish towel and pressed it between two plates for a couple of hours (okay overnight).

I cut it into half inch slices and marinated it in lite soy sauce for a while then tossed in oil and crushed garlic and baked it at 350 for as long as it took to play a two-handed game of Qwirkle.

The result was a denser meatier texture, similar to a really dense polenta but more cohesive, that developed a crust better than tofu usually does. The marinade penetrated deeply so there weren't any of the usual bland gaps. I really liked the mouth feel and the look of it so I think I'd better work up a more formal recipe.

I'm tempted to try a spice blend that would make it sausage-like, but I think that, since I have some ingredients on hand, I'll try for a kind of Buffalo wing treatment. First I need another block of tofu.

Day 92/240: Freekeh Tuesday

Okay ... I'm in love.

One of the impulsive purchases I made yesterday was a box of freekeh. Damn but that stuff is good, and very filling a little goes a very long way.

I used a modified tabbouleh recipe.


  • 1 cup freekeh
  • 1 salt-free vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1¼ cups boiling water
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 chunk of daikon
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • Olive oil

(Yes, that's right, no chilis or garlic for this one!)


  1. Wash the freekeh.
  2. Let it drain through a strainer.
  3. Dissolve the bouillon in hot water.
  4. Pour the liquid into a rice cooker.
  5. Put the freekeh into the liquid and turn the cooker on.
  6. Chop the scallions and the celery into thin slices to get app ½ cup each.
  7. Grate the carrot and daikon to get app ½ cup each.
  8. Chop the cilantro or parsley (or a mixture, or some other greenery) to get app ½ cup.
  9. Mix all the vegetables together in a bowl with the olive oil and the juice of the lemon. (You might want to add some of that lemon zest in there too,)
  10. When the freekeh is cooked, let it cool.
  11. When it is cool, add it to the other ingredients and mix well.
  12. Put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Don't try to eat too much of this, it is very filling and you'll be overstuffed before you know it. I would suggest no more than a 1 cup serving even if it's the main dish, but YMMV.

The flavor of this stuff is great. It has more character than bulghur and different character than buckwheat.

I'm going to be getting more on my next trip to Watertown.

Day 91/240: One very long day

So we had to be at the hospital by 0715, which we were, then got shunted about from place to place by uninvolved administrative lackeys who remained blandly unaware of the Elderly Relative (ER)'s obvious mobility and pain problems. I finally stole a wheelchair for him and managed to get him to where he needed to go.

These people seemed a bit more competent so I felt a bit better about leaving him there. I retrieved my car and headed for Watertown and Sevan Bakery. They didn't have everything I needed, so the next time I think I might try Arax Market just down the street. I got most of what was on my list though. They didn't have the liquorice tea I wanted but they did have cardamom tea which I have decided is quite tasty.

I sat in the car and had za'atar spiced bread and a handful of olives for an early lunch, before heading down to Central Square and Shalimar Indian Grocery. I picked up some brown basmati rice, dried chickpeas and an assortment of dhals. I was very disappointed that they had no Bolst's Curry Powder which is my favorite, so I piled the new goodies into the trunk of the car and went back to the hospital to cool my heels for most of the afternoon.

The tests ran long and I didn't get home until nearly 2000. It was fortunate that I had picked up some vegetarian kibbeh and a half dozen felafels and I made my dinner from that, some more olives, and a couple of glasses of retsina.

In a couple of weeks the surgery will take place. It's going to take a while and there will be several of us there so I think I'll be able to sneak out and make another foray into Watertown.

Jan 8, 2012

Shopping trip

I'm going into Boston early tomorrow. I have to be at Beth Israel with the elderly relative by 0715. He is scheduled for a full day of testing including a heart catheterization. My laptop is currently out of commission so it looks like the stars have lined-up to force me to go shopping.

I'm planning to visit some of the middle-eastern groceries in Watertown to pick up spices and some staples like bulghur, olives, liquorice tea, and pomegranate molasses. Then I'll head to Central Square in Cambridge to Shalimar for some dhals, rice, and further spices.

If I have time, and I probably will, I might try to get to Super 88 in Brighton for some lunch at their food court (I want to see if they have a vegetarian banh mi and figure out what the ingredients are). I need some Lychee Nut Tea some Pu Erh Tea, some noodles and maybe some special vegetables and fresh tofu.

So, it'll be a lemonade day.

Speaking of tofu ... I heard about a trick recently. If you freeze it, when it thaws the texture has changed significantly letting you squeeze out much of the moisture so it will soak up more marinade. I have a pound of it in the freezer right now and I'll try working with it later in the week. I'll let you know how it works.

Day 90/240: Double dinner

I ate with my wife and an elderly relative. My wife cooked. They had roast chicken, peas, and baked potatoes. I had the same minus the chicken. It wasn't all that satisfying, but at least my wife acknowledges my choice.

When I got home I supplemented the meal with a large mug of soup which turned out rather well.

I put the kettle on, then unwrapped a Rapunzel salt-free vegetable bouillon cube (they're very good and I need to write a review of them) and popped it into a big mug. Then I added a heaping teaspoon of South River Garlic Red Pepper Miso and a squirt of Sriracha pepper sauce. When the kettle whistled I poured the water in and stirred it up. A very, very, tasty dish for something so simple.

Day 89/240: Tacos (sort of)

Onions, garlic, Serrano chilis, cumin, TVP, chili powder, tomato paste, and stock cooked until thick and poured over low salt tortilla chips.

It was nice and spicy hot but nothing spectacular.

Day 88/240: Playing catch-up again

This should have been posted on Friday.

It was a long day today. I drove into Boston taking a relative to Beth Israel for a consultation. On the way back we stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at a pan-Asian restaurant. He had sweet and sour chicken with fried rice and an eggroll (which couldn't have been good for his arteries) and I had a salad followed by a stir-fry of tofu and mixed veggies.

Later in the evening I rounded out the day with a slab of Russian black rye bread with peanut butter and hot sauce.

Jan 5, 2012

Day 87/240: Just plain nuts!

I have given myself permission to snack as much as I want between meals ... with a few stipulations.

  1. The snack has to be nuts or seeds.
  2. They have to be unsalted, raw, and in the shell.
  3. I have to try to crack each nut without the use of a mechanical device first. 

Obviously the last one won't work with Brazil nuts, almonds, and pecans (I consider a mallet to be a mechanical device). Walnuts are difficult but do-able. Pistachios, sunflower and melon seeds are easy. I am allergic to hazel nuts. Cashews would require too much in the way of protective gear. Peanuts aren't nuts (I just won't let me get away with anything).

By doing this I can be assured that I am getting exercise and slowing down my food intake.

I'm also finding a perverse pleasure in getting the walnuts to crack properly just using my hands.

Dinner tonight was a new (smaller) pot of lentil soup, this time using red lentils and spicing it with curry. Starch was in the form of quartered small potatoes.

Jan 4, 2012

Day 86/240: Vegetable Rolls

These were just a modification of the previous recipe. This time I filled them with carrot, celery, scallion, daikon, and marinated baked tofu. The dipping sauce was made of tahini, dark sesame oil, sriracha sauce, and with a little water to thin it.

Day 85/240: More Lentil Soup

I made a lot more than I thought I had and I'll be damned if I'm going to waste it.

Jan 2, 2012

Day 84/240: Quick and dirty lentil soup

Throw two cubes of no sodium vegetable bouillon into about two quarts of water with several handfuls of lentils, some dehydrated vegetable flakes, a two finger pinch of caraway seed. Cook on low on the back of the stove all day.

An hour before dinner find some celery, carrot and any other fresh veg that might be tasty, chop it up and add it to the soup along with some orzo.

For dinner, thick slice some sunflower seed bread and slather it with mushroom paté, Serve some soup with some fresh scallions dusted over the top.

Day 83/240: New Year's Day

I made up a slaw salad with carrot, broccoli and red cabbage shreds mixed with some of my tofu mayonnaise.

I should say something about the tofu mayonnaise. It's a really easy recipe and takes spicing and flavoring well, but a lot of the formulas for it call for the use of silken tofu. I don't agree.

Silken tofu does not press easily and because of its consistency it makes far too soupy a product. The consistency ends up closer to a "ranch" salad dressing. This is fine if that's what you want, but I like a thicker result. I'm also willing to put up with a slightly grainier mouth feel for it.

At some point, I'm going to try hanging the silken tofu (like you do when you make panir or Greek yogurt) and see if I can improve the texture and thickness simultaneously.

That, being said, I have a couple of tips:

  1. Making zkhuk yarok with basil instead of cilantro gives you a high octane pesto! I think that there are many ways these two sauces might intersect to my tongue's advantage.
  2. Making tofu mayonnaise with either zkhuk yarok or zkhuk pesto is a grand idea and works really well. Start with a small amount and scale up according to the flammability of your taste buds.
  3. Using serrano peppers in zkhuk significantly increases the SHU. Be forewarned and taste test before slathering it on.


Day 82/240: New Year's Eve

The rest of the family, including my wife's sister and her grandson (my grandnephew) had take-out Chinese (damn them!), I had the Spiced Melitza again, this time with some mushroom paté experimentally slathered on. It was good, but not as appreciated as it should have been since it had to compete with General Gau's Chicken, Chicken Pad Thai, Sweet and Sour Chicken, and Crab Rangoon.

Day 81/240: Mushroom Paté

This wasn't for dinner but it's worthy of a recipe.

Mushroom Paté


  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Up to 1/4 cup cold vegetable broth, or water


  1. Dice the onion (it should yield app 1 cup).
  2. Peel, smash, and mince the garlic.
  3. Chop the mushrooms (coarse dice).
  4. Toast the walnuts lightly in dry skillet.
  5. Put walnuts aside to cool.
  6. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in the skillet on medium. 
  7. Add onions.
  8. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent.
  9. Add garlic, thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper.
  10. Cook for a minute. 
  11. Add the mushrooms.
  12. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes (until mushrooms are very soft).
  13. Put walnuts into a food processor and pulse until very fine. 
  14. Add the cooked mushroom mixture to the food processor.
  15. Add the balsamic vinegar, whatever's left of the olive oil. 
  16. Process until smooth, drizzling in the stock until the pate is a smooth, thick paste. 
  17. Put pate into an airtight container. 
  18. Chill for at least an hour before serving.


I have to say that I was disappointed in the vegetables I picked up from a farm stand in Sudbury. The place was very Whole Foodsy for such a small place, but I suppose that's to be expected in such a ritzy suburb.

I picked up an English (seedless) cucumber, an eggplant, a bunch of parsley, a bunch of cilantro, some purple potatoes and some baby Yukon gold potatoes. The prices were what I would have expected at WF.

The vegetable quality, however, was not!

The next day, the cucumber was covered with soft moldy spots. I recovered what I could, but my frugality lost out to disgust and most of it ended up in the compost bin. I turned to the eggplant. It had no obvious faults but it was going soft far faster than I'd expected. I decided to cook that immediately to forestall any loss. That was the Melitza recipe on the 29th.

What had been a nice bunch of parsley the previous afternoon was now slimy with half-rotted dark green glop. Some of it was salvageable so I rinsed it really well and used it and what was left of the cuke to make a tabbouleh.

I had gone through the zkhuk yarok from mid-December faster than I'd expected, so, while I was in the kitchen I decided to replenish the jar. I pulled the bag of cilantro out of the veggie bin. This was completely unusable. I couldn't even discern any leaves in the dark green sludge. With some trepidation, I checked the potatoes. They looked okay.

But the next day, I decided to slice up some of the purple potatoes and roast them. I have to say that I was surprised and disappointed to find that they were not what they seemed. Rather than purple-fleshed potatoes they were merely purple-skinned.

On the whole, I have had better shopping experiences, and for less money.

Although tempted, I decided not to document the rotting veggies with photos.