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Food and Cooking Stuff

I went price shopping today and found that Berkeley Bowl is a lot less expensive than where we usually shop. I'd noticed before that their produce was a lot less expensive than Andronico's, but today I saw that their meat is a lot less expensive, too. Their chicken breasts were $2/lb cheaper (though still prohibitively expensive at $5.69/lb).

Berkeley Bowl also sells tofu, seitan, and tempeh. The tempeh costs almost exactly the same per pound as their chicken breasts, but the seitan is quite a bit more expensive. I guess those aren't good choices for replacing chicken in the Crock-Pot. The bulk tofu, on the other hand, was quite cheap (50¢/cake), so I'll have to look for some good tofu recipes. (wesleysgirl, I know you cook vegetarian ... any suggestions?) Too bad I don't have a regular-size wok. (I only have a tiny one, if it hasn't gotten lost over the years.) I have lots of pots and pans, but it seems I somehow never have the one appropriate to the task at hand.

It's very important to me that we start eating healthier, but it's more expensive than living on frozen dinners and canned soup. It's relatively easy if I can cook entirely vegetarian, but there are so many things that Shannon doesn't eat that it makes it difficult. I'm doing a bunch more online recipe research today, though I already know what I'm cooking this weekend: a simple red lentil and bulgar pilaf which I've made before and love. It's good with a side of veggies. I also like to mix corn into it.

Bulgar and Red Lentil Pilaf
(slightly adapted -- by my friend Janet -- from a recipe in World of East Vegetarian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey)

1/2 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
1 tablespoon olive oil or any vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic (or more, to taste), peeled and minced
1 cup bulgar wheat
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
freshly ground black pepper

Pick over the lentils and wash in several changes of water. (I did this in a strainer.) Put in a bowl, add 2 cups water, and soak for approximately 6 hours. Drain and rinse thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a heavy 2-quart pot over a medium flame. Saute the onions and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the bulgar wheat and lentils. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes, or until the wheat is lightly browned. Add the parsley, salt, and water and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to very low, and simmer for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit, covered, for 20 minutes, or as long as you can stand it. Add the black pepper and mix.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Anyway, back I go to the recipe hunt. Wish me luck finding good vegetarian recipes with no beans and no dairy.


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
I'll dig up a couple of tofu recipes for you some time in the next day or so. What kinds of things does Shannon *not* eat? I do have a handful of veggie recipes that a number of traditional-food-loving people have liked...
Jan. 25th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
Shannon doesn't eat beans or dairy. He doesn't like bell peppers, cooked carrots, zucchini, or eggplant, but he'll eat them if they aren't the main ingredient in the dish. I think that's all. Oh, and I don't like olives.

I'd love to see any recipes you come up with. If only I could watch you cook them so I could learn from your experience!
Jan. 26th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC)
Wow, those are some restrictions! The no-dairy isn't too difficult, at least. Hm. Will he eat split peas? Does he eat the lentils in your recipe here, or is that just for you?
Jan. 26th, 2007 02:24 am (UTC)
Yeah. The combination of no beans and no dairy makes vegetarian cooking difficult. He eats split peas, and he's going to try the lentils this weekend to see what he thinks. I'm not sure about lentils in the long run -- we'll have to see -- but I'm glad he's willing to try.
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 26th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 26th, 2007 05:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 26th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 25th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
One thing that makes home cooking more economical is that you make several meals worth of food at a time.
Jan. 25th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm cooking expensive meals, but the cost still comes out to be more per meal. At least if I cook with chicken that's true. Vegetarian meals seem to come out about the same as frozen dinner/canned soup meals. Healthier, but about as expensive.
Jan. 25th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)
I love tofu. I oftentimes fry it in a regular pan as a stir fry, either alone or with various meats as well as veggies. Mushrooms, tofu, a bit of ham, onions and garlic, whatever other veggies that Shannon will enjoy, sauteed with soy sauce and served over vermicelli noodles is awesome. High-grade frozen veggies makes it an even easier meal.
Jan. 26th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)
I'm not really comfortable enough with cooking to be able to wing it. I need a recipe that tells me how long to cook things and in what amounts. I've found some good recipes for stir-frying today.

How do you get the water out of the tofu? Some of the recipes say to get rid of the excess water, but they don't say how. I'm sure one of my cookbooks could probably tell me.
Jan. 26th, 2007 09:05 am (UTC)
I put it between two plates with paper towels on either side, and then put a heavy book on top of the top plate. I leave it like that for 15 mins or so. Luckily, I don't find the tofu I get to be very watery, so even when I forget to do that it still turns out well.
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 26th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 26th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 26th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 26th, 2007 07:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 26th, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wolflady26 - Jan. 26th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wolflady26 - Jan. 26th, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 26th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 26th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 26th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 26th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 27th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 27th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kimberly_a - Jan. 27th, 2007 12:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wesleysgirl - Jan. 27th, 2007 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 26th, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC)
Sesame Stir Fry

1/4 cup peanut butter
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp honey

1 pkg firm tofu, pressed and cubed
2 minced garlic cloves
1 bunch broccoli, cut up

(Optional - sesame oil, sesame seeds, chopped peanuts)

Mix first 4 ingredients into a sauce in a small bowl.

In skillet or wok, heat a little bit of oil (sesame oil if you have it) until very hot. Stiry fry tofu until golden brown and set aside.

Add a little more oil to pan -- add garlic and broccoli, stir, then pour in 1/4 cup water and cover the skillet so the broccoli can "steam." (I generally skip this whole part by steaming the broccoli in a special little tupperware microwave steamer thing we have.) Add tofu back to the pan once broccoli is reasonably softened, add sauce, stir fry for a minute or two until everything's hot and mixed up. Optionally, sprinkle with sesame seeds or chopped peanuts. Serve over rice.
Jan. 26th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for mentioning the broccoli steaming thing. I usually steam broccoli in the microwave and have never found anything wrong with it, so that's probably what I would do, too. But I would have been afraid to change the recipe if you hadn't mentioned it.
Jan. 26th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
I like doing it in the microwave because it's so quick! :-)
Jan. 28th, 2007 09:39 am (UTC)
You could make the rest of the crock pot recipe as listed, and only put in tofu for the final 10-15 minutes.
Jan. 28th, 2007 09:52 am (UTC)
I was wondering about that, but I wasn't sure if the tofu would accumulate any flavor that way.
Jan. 28th, 2007 10:05 am (UTC)
It won't be flavored through like the rest of the dish, but it will have a bit of flavor, especially if there is a broth or some Asian spice (cumin, ginger, soy sauce, etc.) content.
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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