Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Burnt Beans & Ice Creams

Ha ha! That title pretty much sums my week in food. The week started off with my glorious ambitions for a big pot of homemade beans... I love the idea for making homemade beans, even though I rarely do it. So, I had some nice dried beans, and I had them soaked overnight.

In the morning I got them simmering... and simmering... and simmering... it seemed to take forever!! Off I went to yoga class, until 1 hour and 45 minutes into it, I remembered that my beans were still "simmering" on the stove top! Panic!! In the end I had to borrow my teacher's cell phone, and call home (no one home - double panic!), and then call a friend who went over to make sure everything was okay. Very luckily, Musty had come home, spotted (and smelled!) the burning beans and removed them from the heat. Not only did our house not burn down, but we didn't even lose the pot. I couldn't believe my good fortune. Here's a pic of my sad bean endeavor:

I would really love any bean-cooking advice. I feel like I just don't know how to do it. I even have a crock pot and a pressure cooker (it's an old one, but it works). Help me vegan bloggers, you're my only hope!

So, there went my dinner plans... and we resorted to the sad but ever-ready staple: pasta with store-bought red sauce. Ha! I spruced it up by mixing in some tofu ricotta that I had leftover - wow! It was actually quite tasty.

Following, are a couple of meals I made using some of my buys from the Asian market:

Steamed chard, Scallion pancake, and Mushroom-Vegetable Buns - with a fruit smoothie. A nice, easy, and yummy lunch.

This was a nice stir-fry with broccoli, fried tofu puffs (store-bought), re-hydrated lotus roots, and bok choy. For the sauce I used a pre-made chinese stir fry sauce that was pretty nice. The lovely yellow rice is just white rice that has been colored with saffron.

I also made a double batch of Dreena's 5-star "Maple Walnut Cookies" (from "Vive La Vegan"). I highly, highly recommend these delicious and amazing cookies. So yummy & fun to eat! They were all gobbled up!

I promise I won't turn this into a Yummers-the-cat blog! But, I've mentioned on several occassions Yummers' voracious appetite for green veggies... Earlier this week we made some steamed asparagus, and Sir Yum-a-lot was screaming at us when they were still steaming on the stove top! Asparagus is one of his all-time favorites. Here you see him, on the sofa, nose twitching like mad, meowing with a feverish urgency, begging for more asparagus. Of course, we don't mind, so he got quite a few nibbles. His other favorites include broccoli, kale, mangos, and corn-on-the cob. Imagine that!

Last month's issue of Vegetarian Times had a nice "Earth Day Dinner" feature with recipes by Ann Gentry (author and proprietor of "Real Food Daily"). This "Two Bean Salad with Tarragon Dressing" recipe caught my eye. It's got green beans, chick peas, kalamata olives, red onions, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and a fresh tarragon dressing. The dressing was a tad too tangy for me, but I just used about half of it & the meal came out perfectly. This is a really nice summery salad meal, and I defiintely recommend this recipe. I'll keep it for sure.

Just a colorful salad, full of tastiness & nutrients!

Last but NOT least! I busted out the ice cream maker! My mom recently gave me her old ice cream maker. It's not the kind we had when we were kids, where you have to pour in the rock salt and stir for 2 hours, but it's not the fancy automatic kind either. In fact, it's a very charming in-between model. You freeze the canister, then add your pre-mixed goo, and stir it a few times every 2-3 minutes for about 20 minutes. I can do that!

My first experiment was this lovely, sweet-but-tangy Plumcot Ice Cream!! (A plumcot is a plum-apricot hybrid, like a pluot or an aprium) OOOh, it's heavenly. I am already a total freak about it, and made peach ice cream the next day. For both batches, I used this recipe. It turned out wonderful - sweet, creamy, thick... I used fruit from the farmers' market for both, which made it feel even more exciting and special. I promise you, there will be more to come!

I'll leave you with this fun shot that the VegNews folks sent us of all the Roundtable Participants and all the Vegnews staff. I think it was Neva Vegan who asked me if Joseph Connely was there - here you can see him in the bright red shirt! That was really a wonderful experience and I am still enjoying the lingering vibrations left behind. It was so amazing to see what a small, dedicated group of people can do. Vegnews is such a beautiful, positive, inspiring and creative magazine - made by just a few passionate and talented vegetarians! Right on! I find that veg*nism has given my life so many more gifts and insights than I ever would have imagined, and I am so eager to do more to help spread my love & enthusiasm for the choice of veganism. I really admire these people for the work they do, and the spirit of friendship and camraderie they had amongst them.

This month, in my yoga classes, I am focusing on the theme of Ahimsa - nonharming, nonviolence. In talking my way through one class this week, I started thinking out loud about how even the tiniest acts of hostility and aggression lead to out ward actions of hostility. Every time we allow ourselves to justify or rationalize harsh thoughts, saracasm, gossip, insults, criticism, self-beratement, judgment... what we are really doing is rationalizing much bigger acts of harm. Isn't it amazing and humbling? It is such a practice to truly aim for a state of non-harming : to accept all people and beings with a spirit of love and empathy in one's heart.

Tonight Musty's brother is in town, so we went out to dinner. They both ordered steaks and the brother's was served up rare. Wow. That's not something I've ever really seen before. It was an interesting practice to be happy with him that he was enjoying his dinner, while also maintaining my compassion and awareness about their meals. This way at least, my heart isn't filled with anger and hatred and all the other things that one hopes a vegan lifestyle will slowly eradicate from the world.

Tomorrow is my birthday... I'm looking forward to a nice day. Love & Peace to you all.


  1. I was forever burning the beans when I tried to cook them on the stovetop. I tried my pressure cooker but couldn't get it right in there so have moved to my slow cooker and it's so easy!

    Basically I soak the beans overnight and then put them in the slow cooker covered with boiling water. If I'm in the house and it's daytime I put them in high, if I'm our or am putting them on overnight I put them on low. You will smell them when they start cooking, different size beans take different times to cook. The great thing is that even if you leave them on for an hour too long they won't turn to mush or burn to the bottom so it's a pretty foolproof way of cooking them, which is great for me!

    Best of luck!

  2. I'm sorry about your beans!

    If you're cooking them like that, I've found you have to be around to keep adding bits of water until they're done.

    However, I've gone with the pressure cooker and it's revolutionized my bean cooking! I took a tip from Bazu and added a touch of salt when pressure cooking my chickpeas, because first couple of times I obliterated them. That's the danger with the pressure cooker - it can turn your beans to mush.

    I'd say try the pressure cooker or the slow cooker.

  3. I agree with both of the other commenters about the beans. Also, make sure the beans you use are fresh; if they're very old, they can cook and cook and never get completely soft.

    I love that Yummers loves green veggies! I have a fruit-loving cat, but no veggie-loving ones.

  4. Wow! wonderful pictures...

    I love VegNews magazine, and it was a great to see the picture of vegnews magazine's office!

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. Amey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I'm sorry I missed yours... I've been traveling and only now got a chance to visit all my favorite blogs! I hope you had a great celebration.

    About the beans, all I can say is, the pressure cooker revolutionized my life. You only have to soak the beans for a few hours, not necessarily overnight, and then just make sure to put salt in them to keep their shape and flavor. If you're cooking beans on the stovetop, I've heard you're not supposed to add salt until the last few minutes, b/c salt impedes their cooking. Same with tomatoes and other acid. I agree with all the commenters above.

    That photo of your Chinese meal is my idea of the perfect meal- I have steamed greens, chinese buns, and scallion pancakes (or some combo) at least a few times a month. So simple and satisfying.

    I know what you mean about balancing compassion for humans and for animals. Basically as vegans it's always this balancing act of loving our fellow humans even while realizing the pain their actions may cause, huh? If it's worth anything, I think you handle the balancing act with unique compassion and dignity.

  6. Happy happy birthday! I just broke down and bought an ice cream maker on ebay. I just can't justify the cost of store-bought soy ice cream and it's really something I miss since becoming vegan. I can't wait to try new recipes. Those maple walnut cookies are scrumptious. They're one of my favorite for sure. Bailey is just like Yummers. She sits at the table on her own chair and screams at us quite loudly until we give her veggies from our plate (not that we mind - it's actually quite cute). She likes most veggies - as long as they're cooked. She also loves beans. She's a vegan cat (we feed her Evolution) and her healthy appetite is refreshing. (Although to be honest if we cracked open a can of tuna she'd probably do backflips.)

    I like your sentiments on compassion. I struggle with this thought all of the time. How to have compassion towards people who are not compassionate towards other beings. It sounds like you're at a really great place where you've found that balance.

  7. Happy birthday!!!! loved the post... take care and many hugs on YOUR DAY!!!!

  8. Happy happy birthday!

    well they already answer the bean question, i use the the pressure cooker amazing results and more fast!!!

  9. I really enjoyed hearing about your VegNews experience! And your comments about ahimsa - it's important as vegans to practice loving feelings toward meat-eaters without judgement.

  10. A belated but sincere happy birthday, Amey! I hope you had a fabulous day.

    Ditto on the crockpot beans. Your salads and treats look perfect for summer and that ice cream recipe looks great - I like that it's soyfree.

    The men in my family love bloody meat, so I witness that scene a lot. That's hard to take, esp. if you have concerns for their health. We talked about Ahimsa at my last yoga class. It's a vast and far reaching concept that truly takes thought and practice with every action.

  11. how cute that yummers likes veggies! my mom was telling me the other day about this woman whose cat lived to be thirty. when they asked her her "secret," apparently she said that her cat loved raw broccoli!

  12. Wow, your cat looks eerily like mine!
    BTW, have you ever thought of using a slow cooker for the beans? It works great with much less chance of burning them.
    Great post, lots of cool stuff!

  13. That's so cute about Yummers and the veggies (I laughed out loud when you called him "sir yum-a-lot"!). We've found that our cats have been asking for veggies and dried fruits a lot more lately. Maybe we're all just setting a good example for them as pet parents and they want to emulate us?

    All your food looks delicious from the pasta and Asian meal right down to the salads and cookies...and of course the ice cream! An ice cream maker is big on my list of kitchen "wants" but I'm not buying anything until we move in a couple months (the less stuff we have to pack, the better!). Using seasonal fruits makes one of my favorite treats sound even more amazing.

    It's clear to me as I read the latter part of your post the effect that yoga has had on your life. It's really inspiring to me to see you living your yoga - thank you!
    -Kati =)

  14. I'm sorry I missed this post - but I'll leave my bean advice anyway! :) I always do them in the crockpot... I love it because I can leave them all day and they're done by the time I'm ready for them. Just add plenty of water - more than you think you need. Your poor burned beans remind me of a pot of brown rice I "made" once...

  15. I'm a confirmed pressure cooker user too. The only beans I soak overnight, or soak & let sprout a bit, are chickpeas. I do a quick cook, about 5 -10 minutes in the pressure cooker, then cool the pan quickly under cold running water in order to release the pressure. Drain & rinse the beans then cook again, bringing up to correct pressure, for the desired length of time. When cooking time is up, let the pan cool naturally. Perfectly done bean. Takes about an hour all together. And yes, never put salt in till they are done cooking. The first time I tried cooking dried beans I did not know about this and they stayed hard, even after hours of cooking!

  16. My kitty loves to eat fresh peas but they make him puke. Any puke-proof kitty veggie suggestions?


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