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NCVeggie's Profile

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Best vegetarian cookbooks?

Hurray! The Vegetarian Epicure= My favorite cookbook (although more for nostalgia at this point than recipes). I'm glad some people are still enjoying it.
I honestly don't understand why Mark Bittman has become so popular among the veg crowd! I mean, I have to commend him for winning over people with his "flexitarian" approach (or whatever he calls it, "vegan before 6 pm?") but I am not at all impressed by his cookbook. It just seems like a poorly executed attempt at a vegetarian cookbook.
Deborah Madison's books are wonderful, and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is very comprehensive. However, unless you are new to cooking in general, I would strongly recommend checking out some books that are more specific to the type of cuisine you would like to make, or better yet, find some recipes online to see if there are certain chefs whose style you enjoy, then commit to buying the books. Although, if you are a novice cook, then by all means go with Madison's book.

Mar 27, 2012
NCVeggie in Home Cooking

Cincinnati chili has no kidney beans?

Yes, the beans are an add-on, as paulj & mama chef point out. Cincinnati chili is not always served with spaghetti (although many of us natives will eat it no other way!).
I have come to believe that "chili" is a broad term that can be applied to a wide variety of stew-like dishes, and that only absolutely necessary component is the source of its name- HOT CHILIES!

Feb 01, 2012
NCVeggie in General Topics

Need ideas for lunches-- no fridge, no microwave

Veggie wraps: Are you a fan of hummus? I make a big batch of it on the weekend (homemade is 100x better than store-bought) & make wraps with whole wheat tortillas to take to school during the week. They stay fresh for a long time, and have protein & complex carbs that keep me full.

Bean & rice burritos: Doesn't get much cheaper than this. The trick to not getting bored is to vary
the ingredients- use lots of different veggies, olives, condiments, seasonings, etc. Most cheeses would probably be fine too. I've heard that the French don't refrigerate their cheese.

Veggie burger on a bagel: A nice treat, although admittedly better when warm.

Pasta salad: Whole wheat will really keep you going, but again, it helps to switch up the ingredients & add some protein (beans, tofu, cheese, maybe cured meats).
As you mentioned, quinoa or other grains also work very well as room-temperature foods (quinoa with curry, spaghetti squash, almonds & dried cranberries is my most recent obsession)

Hard-boiled eggs: A good snack. Peel ahead of time, add salt & pepper, hot sauce, mustard, pickles, whatever you like. Or add them to a salad?

Anything in a thermos: If you have a few minutes to heat up your food in the morning. I bring soups/stews or leftover rice & pasta dishes in a small, wide-mouthed thermos, along with some little extras, like crackers & fruit. Heck, I have even thrown a hot baked potato in there. The best trick for keeping things hot in a thermos (besides investing in a good one) is filling it with boiling water for a few minutes before you add your food.

Note: I feel like this response may be kind of long and a bit too revealing of my weird taste in food, but I am going to post it anyway. Good luck & hopefully you will eventually find some things you really like!

Jan 10, 2012
NCVeggie in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's Yea/Nay Thread - 1st quarter 2012 [old]

I felt the same way about the lobster ravioli the first time I had it, but I cooked the 2nd half of the package by lightly frying it in a skillet with a little butter (instead of boiling) until they got a bit crispy, added some parmesan & cracked pepper, and I enjoyed them much more that way. I guess butter & cheese will make most things taste better, though.

I believe that many people were disappointed & I haven't seen it at my local TJs in over a month, so I wonder if they got rid of it?

Jan 09, 2012
NCVeggie in Chains

Trader Joe's Yea/Nay Thread - 1st quarter 2012 [old]

I can live on TJ's frozen naan bread (garlic, of course) and that tomato & pepper soup that everyone seems to love. Also their green juice- the kind in the big bottle.

I also enjoy most of the ravioli varieties in the refrigerated section, the sprouted tofu (which comes in 2 mini-sized packs for those cooking for one), the veggie soy chorizo is great for making tacos & chili, and most of their frozen veggies are somehow just way better than supermarket varieties- especially the broccoli & the "Soycuttash" (edamame, corn & red peppers).

The frozen soy meatballs are pretty good, and the "Indian Fare" (shelf-stable packaged foods) can be an acceptable alternative to takeout- Dal Makhani is my favorite. The Masala Simmer Sauce is a great shortcut if you have a little more time to actually cook something (don't forget the naan!)

I really like the flavor of their cornbread mix, but I always sift out the dried corn pieces- they don't cook properly & have always remained hard & chewy for me. The frozen pumpkin pie I got for Thanksgiving was very good, and a great deal at 5 bucks!

Finally, I want to share my favorite busy (or lazy) weekday "recipe"- one package each of the Regular & "Reduced Guilt" mac & cheese, plus half a bag of frozen broccoli- just pull everything out of the packages, throw it in a casserole dish & heat, COVERED, in the oven until things are thawed, then pull it out of the oven for a sec, mix it all up & continue to bake UNCOVERED it until the cheese starts to brown around the edges = its 's easy, fairly quick, tasty & it makes 2 or 3 meals worth of food. Sometimes I add crushed red pepper flakes if I think abut it.

Note: I suppose you could speed it up using a microwave, but I don't have one so that is another reason I love this combination so much!

Jan 09, 2012
NCVeggie in Chains

TRADER JOE'S and Whole Foods- BEST PRODUCTS

Yes, Grade B is definitely the way to go! Why don't more people realize that?

Jan 09, 2012
NCVeggie in Chains

Help -- moved to Scarsdale

Also, I would like to add that there is a great hole-on-the-wall Salvodorean place in Mt. Kisco (sorry, no ideas on Columbian food), called Rincon Santaneco's- on Main St, if you are willing to drive out that far. It is very tasty, fresh & cheap! There are some worthwhile foodie places nearby, including a smokehouse & a excellent fish market on Lexington, and a nice little Saturday farmers market in nearby Pleasantville.

Help -- moved to Scarsdale

The "Ardsley" Metro North station is actually in Irivington. 1 Ardsley Avenue, Irvington, NY 10533. http://as0.mta.info/mnr/stations/stat...

Zen Green Tea Liqueur

I am trying to find this stuff in the NYC/ Westchester/ North Jersey area. Anyone know where I can get Zen Green Tea Liqueur?

Dec 19, 2011
NCVeggie in Spirits

Kam Sen in White Plains for lunch

Valentina brand- it's pretty common in the southern & western US, but I haven't seen it anywhere in the NY area until now. It's tasty and really cheap, which is nice if you like to use a lot of hot sauce in your cooking! Only $1.29 for 12 oz at Kam Sen

http://www.amazon.com/Valentina-Salsa...

I Don't Like Cheese - Am I Alone?

Favorite quote : "Cheese is as noble as bread and as brilliant as wine and may the three remain always the greatest tradition in gastronomy" (Anna Thomas, The Vegetarian Epicure, 1972).

Dec 04, 2011
NCVeggie in Cheese

Kam Sen in White Plains for lunch

It really is a great value at lunch. I don't find it too salty, but then I only get the vegetable items. The green beans and the Japanese eggplant are very tasty options. I was wondering if they changed up the items for lunch- I have been 3 times and it seems like they were the same each time!

Kam Sen is the best place in Westchester to buy Asian groceries. Tons of noodles, tea, seasonings, frozen items, and even the knives and other kitchen stuff is a good deal! I also found my favorite Mexican hot sauce there (that I thought I would never see again). What a nice surprise.

Frozen Pizza

If you're up for a major calorie bomb, UNO's pizza- you have to cook it in a deep dish pie pan (spray it first for best results). They are delicious, and I think it's less bad for your than the kind you get in the restaurant because they have to print the nutritional information on the box!

Nov 17, 2011
NCVeggie in General Topics

Best pasta sauce in a jar?

Agreed- VICTORIA! Tastes better than some of the Italian restaurants where I live. Fra Diavolo is my favorite (spicy!) butI haven't had a flavor I didn't like

Nov 17, 2011
NCVeggie in General Topics

what do you prefer that most foodies would scoff at?

DItto on the Velveeta. I tried to make homemade broccoli and cheese soup about a dozen times with tremendous disappointment, until I finally admitted that the lack of processed cheese was dragging it down. Now I make it 90% homemade & natural... with a bit of the fake cheese thrown in at the end. Life is about compromises.

Apr 08, 2011
NCVeggie in General Topics

Why must all restaurant entrees have meat in them?

I agree that today the lack of vegetarian choices probably has more to do with mark-up and possibly a lack of creativity, as others have suggested. While the American diet is generally meat-centric, it seems that many chefs are moving in the opposite direction, using meat as a condiment or flavor enhancer, rather than the focus of a meal...
That being said, here in the South meat is still definitely king, macaroni & cheese, french fries and cornbread are considered vegetables and everything else is cooked in pork fat or slathered with mayonnaise.
My tip for frustrated vegetarians is to go for some type of ethnic food when dining out, and generally there will be a far greater selection of veg options.

Apr 08, 2011
NCVeggie in General Topics

Extra Leeks !

I use them in place of onions for just about anything (just the white and light green parts).
The thick, dark green parts aren't good for much of anything except making soup stocks- and in that capacity they can be really wonderful, because they don't make the stock really sweet the way onions do.
Make sure you wash them really well because lots of grit gets deep in between the layers as they grow.

Apr 01, 2011
NCVeggie in Home Cooking

Morningstar Corndogs are BACK!

I have always loved all the Quorn products, even though they can be pricey. I read something recently that shed a different light on their food. It seems that the "mushroom" based mycoprotein is actually derived from a fungus. Now I just find it weird.

http://www.biotopics.co.uk/edexcel/bi...

It's too bad, because their "beef" crumbles have a texture that is pretty dead-on. I have fooled many carnivores with my potluck chili.

Apr 01, 2011
NCVeggie in General Topics

Morningstar Corndogs are BACK!

Yes! I saw them at my local Bi-Lo today and nearly had a heart attack from joy! I scoured the freezer section for the plain hotdogs- no luck. They had they mini-corndogs too, though I don't remember ever having those.

And yes, they are absolutely delicious! They taste just as I remember. I have fooled meat eaters with these dogs before. I myself think most fake meat is mediocre at best (and obviously fake). Although these dogs are definitely still a processed food product, I imagine they are much better for you than the real meat kind.

Feb 16, 2011
NCVeggie in General Topics

Vegan cheese alternatives

I think I have officially tried all of the varieties of vegan "cheese" worth sampling at this point (save for the "Dr. Cow"- I couldn't find a way to get it without paying a ridiculous amount of money)

I ordered several varieties of "Sheese," "Teese," and "We can't say it's cheese" (these names just get better and better, don't they?) online and found both varieties of "Daiya" shreds at a health food store. I melted them all on tortilla chips, both by themselves and combining different flavors, including some of the leftover "Follow Your Heart" varieties just to be fair. Here are my results:

Follow Your Heart is still disgusting (surprise!)

I literally had to spit out all of the Sheese. Gouda was the worst, the medium cheddar and the smoked cheddar were almost as bad (those were the only ones I tried) People absolutely rave about the blue cheese variety, though. Go figure.

The Daiya is pretty good, though the cheddar definitely has a noticeable fake taste.

The mozzarella Teese is edible and melts well but the cheddar was just plain bad.

The biggest revelation was the Wayfare Foods products. They are really pretty tasty. They only come in dips and spreads, so I heated them separately in the microwave. The cheddar spread was good, but I could not stop eating the hickory smoked spread (with tortilla chips topped with pickled jalapenos- it really tasted like eating nachos!) I have to try the Mexican flavored dip. They are made from oatmeal, so I guess they are gluten free too, if you're into that.

All in all, if you want to sample vegan cheese, the "We can't say it's cheese" products by Wayfare Foods are your best bet, and you could always pick up some Daiya mozzarella shreds or a log of Teese for a pizza. Life without cheese gets easier after the first week or so, by the way.

Thanks for your help everyone!

Jan 21, 2011
NCVeggie in Cheese

food prep tragedies

I cut the tip of my thumb chopping vegetables once, and it was a significant chunk. I thought I was going to pass out and had to look to see if there was any bone sticking out. It grew back, but I don't think it is never going to be the same- there is no real sensation left there. It feels like my thumb is wearing a little hat.

Anyway, my point is: KEEP YOUR KNIVES SHARP, it may seem counterintuitive, but it means that you will not have to use so much force when chopping. I have also had some mandoline accidents as well- now I wear oven mitts if I am anywhere near it.

Jan 20, 2011
NCVeggie in Not About Food

Vegan cheese alternatives

Yeah, I actually used both in the first batch. I also made a second batch with some pimentos, roasted yellow pepper and hot sauce (left out the lemon juice and wine). It looks and tastes somewhat like nacho cheese, and is especially good warmed up. I will have to try the cheesecloth idea next- thanks!

Jan 18, 2011
NCVeggie in Cheese

Vegan cheese alternatives

Thanks, I am going to try this cashew cheese recipe. I mixed some macaroni with the FYOH nacho stuff and just started throwing things in (nutritional yeast, herbs, garlic, hot sauce) but it still had this plastic chemical taste.

Jan 14, 2011
NCVeggie in Cheese

Vegan cheese alternatives

So I am trying to go vegan after being a lacto-ovo vegetarian for over ten years. I have had no problem giving up milk, butter, eggs, etc., but have really wanted cheese the last couple of weeks (I know, everyone says that cheese is the hardest thing, that eventually I will not miss it). Whole Foods had the "Follow Your Heart" brand on sale today, so I bought one of each flavor. I tried the "Nacho" flavor and it was DISGUSTING, both raw and melted. Does anyone know if the other flavors are as bad? I would hate to open them just to throw them out- I would rather get my money back. I also bought the "Daiya" shreds and they are OK. Are there any other brands that are any good?

Jan 13, 2011
NCVeggie in Cheese

Advice for First Time Thanksgiving Cook

MY BEST SUGGESTION: Prep as much as you can the days before so that it all just comes together on Thanksgiving Day, and so you can spend more time enjoying your company and less time in the kitchen. Enlist as many helpers as you can.

SECOND BEST SUGGESTION: If you have a gas grill, use it to cook your turkey (as long as it is no larger than 16lbs or so). Prepare it and get it all ready to go, then give your husband or father-in-law the responsibility of cooking it. Yes, it seems to be a cliche' that men love to grill... but in my experience, they do. I did this last year and it not only freed up my oven, but also my time! Just give them some basic instructions and make sure someone is competent enough to make sure it doesn't go badly (but of course check on the bird yourself periodically). Also, be aware that you cannot cook the stuffing inside the bird, as the grill will never get it it hot enough to kill bacteria. I think it is always a safer bet to cook the stuffing separately anyway. Here is a link on how to grill. I have been told that it tastes better than roasted turkey and those who try it will never go back. (P.S. make sure your propane tank is AT LEAST half full, or better yet- have a spare on hand)
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

AS FOR OTHER SIDE DISHES:
It is good at least one simple vegetable dish that has light, clean flavors as a contrast to all of the richness of the meal. It sounds like you have some heavy sides going on there. Here are a few that may offer a lighter alternative:
http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe...
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ca...
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe...

Or make it really simple with a steamed or lightly sauteed green veggie with just garlic, salt, lemon juice, and a little olive oil or butter. (Think fresh green beans, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower, zucchini, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, etc).

Also, never underestimate the appeal of a simple green salad!

Good luck!

Nov 21, 2010
NCVeggie in Home Cooking

Etiquette for "adults only" invitation and host's child(ren)

It is understandable to some degree that people will want to bring their kids to a gathering, but it is important to note that not everyone has a home that is child-friendly. I myself have no children or pets, and not only do I have plenty of fragile items that could easily be disturbed, it is likely that at any time I will have also have numerous sharp objects/chemicals/medicines/ etc. around that a kid could easily get into. I have a friend who always just assumes it is fine to bring her ill-behaved toddler everywhere with her. It would be one thing if her daughter behaved or if she herself took responsibility for watching her, but alas this is not the case. It drives me crazy to watch this kid run wild and have everyone else trying to keep her out of trouble, until she inevitably hurts herself or breaks something, and starts wailing until (hopefully) said friend gives up and takes her home.

My point is that I do not think that it is necessarily rude to exclude children (especially small ones) from a gathering. Also, people who do insist on taking their kids to adult parties should 1. absolutely make sure this is OK with the host 2. take care to watch them closely and 3. if they can't behave then find a sitter or just stay home.

As for your own child, it is your party after all, so it is your call. If you think that they will be disruptive or unsafe at all then you might want to hire a sitter to watch them in another part of the house, away from the action at your party.

Nov 21, 2010
NCVeggie in Not About Food

Your favorite Le Creuset color

OCEAN! It is new- a pale greyish blue, available at Williams-Sonoma. It is gorgeous and very classy. The new Cassis line is also nice ( a modern eggplant-purple) but the Ocean is far more classic and would look great in any kitchen. I am in love with this line...
P.S. Definitely spring for the silver handle replacement- it looks SO much nicer than the standard black plastic and is more heat resistant. They are only like 10 bucks.

Nov 07, 2010
NCVeggie in Cookware

Best enameled cast iron cookware?

I LOVE my Cuisinart enameled cast iron pots- have a 3 qt, 5 qt and 7qt. The most I paid for any of them was $40 or so- look for them at TJ MAXX or similar stores (check to make sure the enamel is not flaking inside the pot). Lodge is good too, and I would imagine the Rachel Ray/ Mario Batali lines are fine. I had a no-name pot that pretty much exploded on my stove top once. Just make sure it is at least a company that you have heard of.

Nov 07, 2010
NCVeggie in Cookware

Vegetarian Sandwiches to Take to Work

I like making "pressed" sandwiches- it is best made the night before. You'll need a round loaf of dense, rustic bread that will hold up well. I like to bake my own small loaves but a good bakery or higher-end grocery store should have something that will work.

Cut the bread like you would carve a pumpkin: cut a medium sized slice off the top, hollow it out, leaving the sides fairly thick, as it will be compressed later.

Make sure the first thing you put on the bread is fat-based: that will create a lipid barrier that prevents moisture from soaking the bread. I like to use pesto, but plain olive oil or mayonnaise works. It doesn't matter how thin the layer is, as long as you cover the bread surfaces lightly.

Then just add whatever veggies you want- raw, sauteed, roasted, whatever. I like hummus, sprouts, pickled onions and cucumber, or sometimes goat cheese with roasted vegetables or olives. Build your perfect sandwich (Note: very tender lettuces may bruise or wilt- I like to use spinach or arugula, or have a small salad on the side).

Put the bread top back in place (remember to spread the bottom with your oil or whatever) and squish it down a bit if you need to. Then wrap very tightly with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for tomorrow.

Cut in quarters and enjoy! (Though if it is too big to eat all at once, it should keep for a couple of days, or you could always share)

The Vegetarian Times website has some great sandwich recipes. Here are couple of links:
http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe...
http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe...
http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe...

Oct 28, 2010
NCVeggie in Home Cooking