Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Close to Callaloo...Close to Heaven!

I arrived home this evening amidst a rainstorm so furious that I couldn't see the road in front of me. The ferocity of the downpour was quite unbelieveable and I really feared I would get home to find My Beloved manning the mop and bucket, squeegee-ing the basement dry. Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth...although I had to do a 'double take' when I saw what he was up to......

...making Callaloo!

Always one for trying new and perhaps exotic dishes, My Beloved found a recipe called 'Close to Callaloo' in Robin Robertson's Vegan Fire and Spice. When he discovered that callaloo is not only the vegetable (of the green leafy variety) but also the name of the dish itself, he just had to try it. Widely used in Caribbean cuisine, callaloo sports multiple broad, darkish green leaves along a main stem and, when roughly chopped and set on simmer, it wilts like spinach, thickening and adding flavour to the dish. This is what it looks like:

The creaminess comes from the addition, right at the very end, of unsweetened coconut milk which really tempers the soup. It's thick and hearty and perfect when you really can't face another summer salad. Yes yes, vegans can get tired of salad too, right?

So we enjoyed it this evening with a fresh crusty sourdough bread and some homemade hummus and watched the rainstorm outside.

Here's the recipe - and if you like it, go out and buy the book!

You will need:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 hot chile, minced
1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes
1 bunch callaloo, roughly chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, roughly chopped
3 cups veg stock
1 can (13oz) unsweetened coconut milk
salt/pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

Heat the oil in a large pot and then add the onion, garlic, sweet potato, bell pepper and chile. Cook 10 mins until softened. Drain the tomatoes and add them to the pan along with the callaloo and swiss chard. Bring to gentle boil, and then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft (use the sweet potatoes as a guide - if they are done, everything is done!).

Add the coconut milk and salt/pepper and warm through. Serve with crusty bread to your sweetie.


Just one more way to enjoy your green leafies....

Stay Vegan, Friends! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lost: One Vegan Mojo....

...if found please return to owner. Reward.

Today was really messed up. I lost my vegan cool. My v-Wa was thoroughly disturbed. It could be said that my Zen-compassion was thrown out of whack.

And whack I wanted to....most people in sight.

OK, so today was a bad day and, in good faith, I cannot really link it in any way to Matters Vegan, so I'm just going to let off some steam and and ask you why, oh why, all the crazies come out on the same day??? Is it the heat? It was 97 degrees at one point this afternoon so it might be safe to assume that it had effects on people.

My Beloved and I went to the local shopping mall to purchase a garage door opener. The story of the garage door is hardly scintillating, I'll admit, but here it is anyhow. Having lived through 6 (can it really be 6????) freezing New England winters with a 'leaky' garage door (old-style wooden with huge cracks all over), we finally (FINALLY) decide to spring for a new one - vinyl, fully insulated, nicely fitted and secure. This is particularly important as the garage in question is an 'under-house garage' so - unlike in Vegas - what happens there does not stay there. It permeates into the rest of the abode.....

Anyway, the garage door is now installed and - what is more to the point - it comes with its own, pre-nibbled mouse exit in the bottom left corner. Who knew this could be possible???? Or, at least, this is what I asked myself when I came home on Day One and found a mouse-shaped hole in the seal edge....

Now OK, I know we all just have to 'get along' and I know that Micky (or Minnie) was probably here before I was and that I should respect his/her inviolate right to live his/her life just as I would have others respect that self-same right for me, but we just paid close to $1K for this door (sans opener) and already someone of a furry, four-footed persuasion has made their own entryway and let themselves back into the garage. I sighed a heavy sigh and, amidst none-too-vegan thoughts, dusted off the Have-A-Heart trap.....

That aside, today was the day for purchasing the opener. So My Beloved and I set off, parked up near to Sears and went in search of the recommended opener. Now, what happened next could be interpreted in two ways depending upon whether you are a 'glass half full' or a 'glass half empty' kind of person. Me myself, I am a 'well, that depends on whose glass we're talking about' kind of person....

Having located said opener in record short order, we realised it was rather heavy and, it being 97 degrees outside, we opted for 'Merchandise Pickup', whereby you simply bring your car up to the curb and someone with a dolly delivers heavy items directly to you. No schlepping across a baking parking lot; no sweating it out with a half-ton, half-horsepower chain-driven door GDO (as those in the know term it)...hurrah. So I sent My Beloved straight back out again into the heat to bring up the car while I made payment and then we were off to get some more bits and pieces. At least that was the plan....

A few minutes later, My Beloved reappeared looking flustered and the following conversation (approximately) ensued:

Me: What's up? (naively)

My Beloved: He had a pair of pliers.... (bewilderment)

Me: Who? (distractedly)

MB: The guy. The guy who was letting down our tires in the parking lot.

Me: WHAT?????? (now with full attention)

MB: There was a guy. I got to the car and I could hear a hissing noise. And he was crouched down besides the tire with a pair of pliers jammed in the valve. (glasses fogged with bewilderment and incredulity...or perhaps fierce in-store air conditioning...)

Me: WTF? Did you ask him just what the (bleepety bleep) he thought he was doing? (now red in the face and sweating profusely despite the AC)

MB: Er...yes, He said we'd almost hit him so he was letting the air out of out tires. (matter of factly)

Long story short....the guy was evidently crazed as we'd not been anywhere near him. My Beloved said as much (the last part, not the crazed part) to which the guy claimed mistaken identity, tried to shake My Beloved's hand and then sauntered off. Cool as a cucumber.

That was the big thing that happened today and now it's all in print it doesn't seem so terrible. But at the time it left us both - unaccustomed as we are to conflict and confrontation - like a schizoid martini: quite shaken AND stirred. So much so that we both just wanted to get the heck out of Dodge and retreat to the sanctuary we call home. Which we did, albeit not before seeking a medicinal pint or two at the local brewery - just to settle our nerves, you understand.

OK, so in no way is this story or this post at all really vegan-related. I guess I *could* claim that My Beloved's 'measured' reaction to this hostile act of vandalism was due entirely to the absence of animal-fat fogging his brain and clogging up his arteries. That his fundamentally placid and non-aggressive stance in the face of a certain level of provocation was due to his having opted out of the violence and sadism that permeates - indeed underpins - the meat and slaughter industries. That his effective and peaceable handling of The Crazy was a direct result of his peaceful and compassionate diet.

But that would be stretching a point.

Stretching it a long way in fact.

Especially so as My Beloved is not 100% vegan.

I am.

But if *I* had gone out there and found The Crazy at work....well, suffice to say, I would have had some decidely un-vegan things to say. And that is how I would have lost my Vegan Mojo.

That's it. That's all I've got.
Stay Vegan, friends, and well, welllllll away from The Crazies........