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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 - Part IV

"Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true."
- Homer Simpson

Hi everyone! May your weekend be full of hope, happiness and promises of a better tomorrow.

Let's wrap this event up today, okay? Today it's a new weekend and both Tiffany and I still have fresh fond memories of the Veg Fest weekend past. Yes ~ It was that nice.

Sitting in beer garden looking out towards information vendors.

Now that all is said and done, Tiffany and I have but only two complaints abet minor ones I suppose. Our first was one unnamed food vendor who simply was not prepared to handle crowds. Only two people tending to the entire booth! One person taking the money and a second line (after payment has been made) to order your food. Not only was this second person taking the order but they were the same person who was making what was ordered, fresh from scratch for every order.


Guess what? Tiffany spent about an hour simply to order and receive hummus! I kid you not... just hummus.  I'm certainly no Hollywood acting genius but even I know that if the order is simple, you momentarily put the fried falafel balls on hold to scoop out a bowl of previously prepared hummus?  I dunno... Perhaps I am missing something here and should simply stick to my potentially Academy Award winning movie roles?

It was indeed delicious and fresh hummus but it was nowhere worth the effort to purchase it. Next year we plan to visit the "established" food vendors such as The Loving Hut, Joe's Oat Patties, The Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar, Ethos, or Dandelion Cafe. A word to the wise... before simply choosing and ordering your lunch, take the extra second or two and observe how they are managing themselves. Chalk up another lesson learned.

Oh yeah... this explains why Chucky took so many pictures from the roped-off "Beer Garden" area (see Part I). Tiffany and I only had a single beer each but I spent lots and lots of time watching these beers ferment as she retrieved the hummus.

Oh? The second lesson learned? If you stay and watch the last of the food demonstrations, be prepared to leave and face food vendors exiting the festival. Dumb old Chucky figured we'd grab dinner after the final food demonstration.


Guess what? When we finished watching Chef Rama, we were met by all of the food vendors breaking down and packing away their booths. I suppose that everyone had an obligation to leave the park before sundown.

Crap! I almost forgot another lesson learned. We had a most pleasurable day but were dawg-tired as we trekked back to the parking garage a block away. Then Tiffany & I said to ourselves, "Wait a minute! Since we cannot grab dinner from the Veg Fest vendors, let's go to the Florida Hospital's vegan Lakeside Cafe we've been promising ourselves to visit!"  After all, it's just another 100 yards over yonder.

Guess what we learned after walking another distance away from the direct Veg Fest to parking garage direct path? Not only is Lakeside Cafe not open whatsoever on weekends, they also close early on weekdays at 4:30 PM. Anywho... not only did we run out of luck with the Veg Fest food vendors for dinner, looks like we've lost out on the Florida Hospital as well.

Where did we end up getting dinner on the way home? After stopping by Wrap Planet and just missing Olga's closing, we dropped by Chamberlins Market & Cafe. Guess what? Again, too late. The cafe had closed for the evening.

Nope. Not an issue. Their deli counter is opened until store closing. We picked up some vegan tofu "veal" cutlets and a couple of side dishes "to go". We arrived home to feed The Seed and enjoy a most delicious vegan take-home dinner. This after a most magnificent afternoon at Central Florida Veg Fest 2011.

Thank you to everyone who has anything to do with the event! Abet some minor and humorous inconveniences, both Tiffany & I had a superb time. I am savoring fond memories of my first Veg Fest as I look forward to the next one!

Hi-dee hi-dee why-not-Google-"vegetarian events"-in-your-home-town-ho my friend?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 - Part III

"Food is an important part of a balanced diet."

Hello everybody!  May you experience a lifetime first today.  An insect gracefully landing from mid flight with precision and awe, a family of cardinals visiting your feeder, a pet doing something silly but otherwise out of the norm, or a similar action/event.  Keep your eyes and mind open and enjoy everything that surrounds you!

Back to that most wonderful event, The Central Florida Veg Fest 2011.  Today I elaborate and share some of the food demonstration experiences with you.  To keep it both simple and fair, I shall simply report on the chef and their presentation in the order that I was fortunate to experience them.
Chef Velva Peterson, Vegetarians of Central Florida, "Dal Curry"

If you're a regular blog reader, you might remember her name.  Chef Velva shared the most delicious "Eggless Thousand Island Dressing" and "Pesto Sauce with Linguini" recipes at Central Florida's Earth Day 2011 back in April.

Not to be outdone, she once again shined at Veg Fest where she demonstrated the ease of making delicious "Dal Curry" which she served over basmati rice.  Tiffany and i were fortunate enough to walk into Loch Haven Park exactly where she was setting up for the first food demonstration of the day.

Chef Velva was kind and nice enough to take a few minutes while preparing for her demonstration to chat.  Tiffany immediately recognized her as she quickly recognized me from the Earth Day demonstration.  Our chat was friendly, educating and like talking to an old family friend.

Should you get the chance to see Chef Velva in action, do yourself a favor and don't miss the opportunity to do so!  I've linked her name above to her forthcoming website.  It's probably not up-and-running as this is posted so check back again at a later date.  Chef Velva promises to share lots of her knowledge, experiences, and recipes when her site becomes "live".


Dal Curry over basmati rice (recipe)
Chef Ellen Jaffe Jones, Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day, "Veggies in a Blanket and Chocolate Mousse"

Tiffany and I caught most of Chef Ellen's lecture, "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day - A Game Plan for the Budge Conscious" over at the Speaker's tent.  Afterwards, we hung around to purchase a copy of her cookbook and had it personally signed.  Not soon after we followed her to the Food Demonstration area.  Wait!  Tiffany and I are becoming Chef Ellen Groupies!  But... That's not a bad thing whatsoever.

Her demonstration showed the ease of preparing healthy vegan food without breaking the wallet.  Nothing extravagant.  Just plain healthy, delicious and nutritious food.

She demonstrated taking fresh veggies, shredding them, and adding them into a healthy tortilla using a health-minded condiment (hummus, for our sample selection).

The cookbook is affordable and provides deliciously simple ideals.  When I flipped through it quickly before deciding upon my purchase, I was amazed how delicious each and every page read.  I haven't had opportunity to make the recipes yet but have read the introductory chapters.  Extremely well written with smooth flow from one chapter to another.  Chef Ellen was destined to become a writer of a vegan book, trust me.
Chef Olive Mackey, Central Florida Raw Food Connection, "Taste the Benefits of Raw Food and Seasonal Eating"

First and foremost, I offer my apology to Chef Olive that I had but taken a single photograph and did not capture the warm smile that is constant upon her face.

Chef Olive had also demonstrated at Earth Day.  She is a highly educated and knowledgeable person who freely exchanges her experiences and skills.  A true pleasure to watch and listen.  The love of healthy raw food exudes from her words and mannerisms.

Chef Olive demonstrated some raw soup utilizing seasonal locally grown produce.  She also spoke of CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) and locally available vegetables.  Another neat little trick shared by Chef Olive this day and back at Earth Day was naturally flavored water.

She takes a good clean sourced water and includes healthy material to make flavored-infused sun teas.  She brought samples fresh rosemary-infused and cinnamon-infused waters for attendees to sample.  Tiffany and I immediately made some cinnamon-infused sun tea (water) the following day.  As a matter of fact, I've brought some to work with me today in a stainless steel environmentally conscious bottle, of course.
Chef Ashley Ripley, The Skinny Pig Baking Company, "Green Goddess Foods"

I found Chef Ashley's demonstration not only educational but quite humorous.  She has a subtle humor that appeared to fly above the heads of most attendees.  I, myself, was laughing out loud inside with her strategic references of underlying humor.

Chef Ashley gave us another two-in-one demonstration.  She did a raw smoothie ("Pura Vida Smoothie") and raw salad ("Very Veg Kale Salad") presentation.  Both simple, raw and delicious.

Tiffany and I have made the "Very Veg Kale Salad" several times for lunch since attending the demonstration.  Who knew raw food could be prepared so simply yet delicious and healthy?  Chef Ashley did!

I do have one regret however.  I truly regret that I did not purchase a copy of her new book, "Peaceful Eating" after watching her demonstration and asking her to sign it.  I see wonderful things happening to Chef Ashley in the future.  If you get the opportunity to meet her, please do.

Chef Katie Mosher, Raphsodic Bakery, "Flavor Pairing with Baked Goods"

With all apology to Chef Katie, Tiffany and I missed your demonstration.  We had to choose a time of day to visit the booths and this was the time.  Maybe next time?
Chef John Couch, Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar, "Wraps-n-Rolls"

Winner, winner, cabbage roll dinner!  Tiffany and I thoroughly enjoyed Chef John's presentation.  Funny!  I think that Chef John has more passion for food than all of the vegans & vegetarians at this event combined.

Chef John demonstrated and shared his secrets to making cabbage rolls but offered no hand-outs.  He eventually plans on writing a cookbook in which he shall detail the ingredients and steps in depth and in detail.  In the meantime, he shared the basics necessary for anyone attending to replicate his dishes.

I cannot wait to make the cabbage rolls that he has demonstrated.  Who knew it was so easy and delicious to do so?  So simple, so easy, so tasty.

I particularly liked some of the "trade secrets" shared by Chef John.  His love for cooking and sharing was so ever apparent.  Now I am looking forward to another Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar visit and sampling more of his concoctions.

Chef Rama Raghava, Chef Rama, "Mushroom Ceviche"

Last but certainly not least was Chef Rama sharing some authentic Peruvian cuisine.  Tiffany & I can safely say that until this past Saturday, neither had experienced Peruvian food.

When Chef Rama passed around the recipe sheet prior to beginning, I immediately recognized that I would be a ardent fan of Peruvian cooking.  He identifies Peruvian foods as having French, Chinese and Indian culinary influences.  How can this combination go wrong?  Trust me, it didn't!

Again, keeping with the day's theme it was simple, easy and delicious.  A combination of ingredients that I perhaps would not have dared experimented (mushroom, lime juice, Limo pepper, ginger, red onion, sweet potato, and roasted corn to name but a few ingredients).

Allow your eyes and imagination to enjoy the dish that he prepared below.  No, it wasn't as delicious and tasty as it appears.  It was tastier and more delicious than the eyes imagine!  I love the melding of a cornucopia of tastes upon my palate.  Chef Rama truly delivered with his presentation of "Mushroom Ceviche"!

Mushroom Ceviche as prepared by Chef Rama

Tiffany & I spent the better part of the afternoon watching, learning and tasting from the food demonstrations.  So much learned by us and so much shared by the chefs.  I cannot emphasize how much thanks and gratitude I have for everyone of them sharing their time, their love of food, and their knowledge of the culinary arts with us.  Chef Velva, Chef Ellen, Chef Olive, Chef Ashley, Chef Katie, Chef John and Chef Rama... "Thank you ever so much!"  Every single minute spent with each of you was time very well spent!


Hi-dee hi-dee what-a-truly-wonderful-gift-that-these-chefs-did-share-ho my friend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 - Part II

"Life is a festival only to the wise."

Hello once again my friend.  Funny finding you here on this most excellent day (to be).

Back to the Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 which was held this past Saturday at Loch Haven Park, Orlando, Florida.  When compared to the Central Florida Earth Day 2010, I believe this to be a much smaller event.  I don't quite understand why except perhaps its limited scope.  After all, Earth Day and environmental causes encompass so much.

No matter the comparison, it was certainly a "don't miss" event.  It will forever have permanent markings on Tiffany & Chucky's itinerary calendar of events.  An event designed to celebrate vegetarianism and to honor World Farm Animals Day.

Chef Ellen Jaffe Jones preparing Veggies in a Blanket

They could not have selected a more truly wonderful sunny Orlando afternoon to hold the event!  Plenty of sunshine, morning low 55-degree F, afternoon high 76-degree F, gentle breeze throughout the entire day, and a plethora of exuberant smiling & friendly eco- and animal- conscious people.

Whether you believe in Allah, Buddha, God, Krishna, Wicca, another entity, or absolutely nothing; it's the type of day which might help one understand the wonderment of our planet Earth.  You cannot ignore the gift which each of us is born onto.

There were events for people of all ages.  There were lectures, food demonstrations, food vendors, consumer expos, informational booths, animal rights booths, music, and almost everything in between.  It was quite easy for both Tiffany and I spending the 8+ hours entertained and educated.  We met nothing except wonderful people (and their pets) throughout the day.

Scheduled Food Demonstrations

My primary intent was to watch and learn from the seven planned cooking demonstrations.  At Earth Day I learned so much and my expectations were met at Veg Fest.  I was also fortunate enough to catch most of Ellen Jaffe Jones (The Veg Coach) presentation, "Eat Vegan on $4 a Day - A Game Plan for the Budget Conscious".  Tiffany and I were able to watch 6 of the 7 food demonstrations, sample a wee bit of healthy vegan grub, and visit quite allot of the booths.

To be continued...

Hi-dee hi-dee why-can't-there-be-a-Veg-Fest-everyday-ho my friend.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 - Part I

 "So, where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?"

Hello everyone!  May your day be filled with hope, health and happiness.  What more may one ask?

Yea!  Finally... a blog post.  Something besides a fat (er... "strategic weight challenged") dude putting his weight out there for everyone to see.  Not only is today's a new post but it's a multi-part entry.

Tiffany (the cute slender one) and I did something on Saturday that we've both been looking forward to all year long.  It was the annual Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 held in Loch Haven Park, Orlando, Florida.  This was our first time attending the wonderful event!

The yellow line?  I'm sitting in the "beer garden" area, of course.

Okay, for those of you who are historically savvy and have deducted the logical...  Yes, Tiffany and I became vegetarians before last year's annual event.  However, on that particular weekend we had the tough choice of either attending a MET Live in HD opera or Central Florida Veg Fest 2010.  The latter was passed aside as we were newly vegetarian and wished more experience under our belts before attending.  After all, we did not wish to come across as "newbies", do we?  (Note:  The event is targeted towards interested, new, experienced and just-thinking-about-it vegetarians alike.  Newbies most welcomed, of course.) 

Um.  Where do I start?  The beginning perhaps?  All week long I was soooo excited looking forward to our first attendance.  After all, the Vegetarians of Central Florida put on such a wonderful Central Florida Earth Day 2010 that this simply had to be great.  Every morning I would rise and remind Tiffany of the wonderful Saturday which we had planned.  The speakers, the vendors, the food demonstrations, the wonderful fellow vegans & vegetarians, the education, and everything in between were going to be awesome!

Yep.  Still inside the "beer garden".  More about that later.

We packed up (camera, fresh batteries, lots of cash, comfortable clothing, sunglasses, etc.) and headed out early to beat the crowds.  We are going to spend the entire day at the event, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM until they close shop. 

I drove downtown, found the same wonderful parking garage that we used for Earth Day, and we walked the block to Lake Eola Park, Orlando, Florida.  "What?"  "Huh?"  Did they move the event to the other side of Lake Eola this time?  "Oh... Yes."  "I can see hundreds of other people on the other side of the lake."  "Let's just walk around, okay?" 

What?  Did Chucky & Tiffany spend the entire day inside that "beer garden"?

Guess what I noticed my friends?  There were huge crowds walking around the lake and adjacent streets all wearing royal purple t-shirts.  And, the crowd I spotted across the lake?  Hmm... I was witnessing lots of royal purple color over there and kept hearing crowds cheering.

Even we vegans and vegetarians know that crowds don't cheer for carrots!  A bunch of broccoli certainly can't garnish that much attention.  An organic avocado, even on it's best day, simply cannot excite a crowd so.

Finally... We're outside the "beer garden".  Better watch out vendor booths!

Uh-oh!  Tiffany and I soon found ourselves surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people walking in royal purple "Walk to End Alzheimer's" t-shirts.  The cheering?  That, my friend, was obviously people cheering when walkers crossed the Finish line.

Guess what?  Chucky could not remember where the Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 was being held so he accidentally joined an Alzheimer's walk instead!  My motto... "I cannot remember whether I have Alzheimer's." certainly held true this day.

Hmm... Perhaps this is the veggie pathway of life which Chucky always refers to?

Know what's even worse?  I drove Tiffany right along side of Loch Haven Park just to get to Lake Eola Park!  We even noticed crowds building at Lake Eola Park and wondered to ourselves what event was taking place there.

So... we walked back the parking garage, paid our $2 parking feel, and drove back up to Lake Eola Park.  We only lost about 45-minutes of time and arrived to Central Florida Veg Fest 2011 about 20-minutes late.


Yes.  The Orlando Science Center is that close to Loch Haven Park!

The morale of this story?  Just because one event is held annually in one local park each year does not necessarily mean that a different event hosted by the same organization is held annually in the very same park!  "Duly noted."

The festival?  To be continued...

Hi-dee hi-dee I-am-getting-old-enough-to-excuse-myself-for-forgetting-ho my friend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hot Buffalo Quorn Lunch Pizza

There's a pizza place near where I live that sells only slices. In the back you can see a guy tossing a triangle in the air.
- Steven Wright

Hi everybody! May your windows of life freely allow the healthy sunshine into your day.


Another short, sweet, and simple post today my friends. Tiffany & I were evaluating an over-stocked freezer to ascertain what to have for lunch tomorrow (today). We found some
Quorn fillets that needed a meal home as well as some naan flatbreads.

Hot Buffalo Quorn Pizza ready to bake.

 Now, before you jump to conclusions let me assure you that these two "lunch pizzas" are 4 meals. Each flat bread pizza will be cut in half and shared by Tiffany and I. Both flat breads are making 4 servings, 2 days worth of lunches for the both of us. We're pairing each 1/2 naan pizza with a cup of low-calorie low-fat vegetable soup. We're talking kick-arse lunches here folks!

Why two of them?  Because two are better than one, of course!
 
SERVINGS: 4 (1/2 naan slice per meal)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 naan flat breads (or equivalent)
  • Pam non-stick cooking spray
  • Frank's brand hot sauce
  • Vegan Ranch dressing
  • 1 Quorn fillet, cooked and sliced
  • Cheese, shredded (preferably vegan)

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Spread Frank's hot sauce liberally over naan flat breads.
  2. Lay out Quorn fillet slices equally over both naan flat breads.
  3. Spray Pam over Quorn slices to inhibit drying out while baking.
  4. Dollop vegan Ranch dressing randomly over both naan flat breads.
  5. Scatter cheese(s) on top to taste.
  6. Bake, serve and enjoy!
Hi-dee hi-dee light-up-that-tongue-and-smile-with-lots-of-hot-sauce-ho my friend.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time for a Puzzle: Which Weighs More (and Why)

"The trouble with measurement is its seeming simplicity."
  - Author Unknown

Salutations and a tip of my hat to you my friend!  May you be blessed with a healthy and eco-friendly day.

What we've got here is gold, a balance scale, and feathers.  But, why???

I know that this blog post doesn't fall within the boundaries of the "Chucky norm" but please allow me the variance.  Call it filler material.  Call it something different and fun.  Call it a total waste of your time.  If the latter hold true for you, then I now offer my apologies.

I woke up this morning pondering what to write today.  I truly don't have much to share with you.  I don't know what made me think about it but I remembered a high school algebra teacher who always included one extra-credit question on her exams.  She was a toughie and rarely did a student achieve 100% or better on her exams.

This one particular extra credit question (puzzle) I clearly remember.  After carrying this puzzle in my memory repertoire for many years, I am going to present it to you in two ways.  One, the way that she presented it to us and the other the way that I like to embellish it.

"Which weighs more?  A pound of gold or a pound of feathers?"

or

"I walk into my local Walmart store to purchase a one pound bag of feathers.  I leave the Walmart and go down the road to my nearest precious metals exchange.  I purchase one pound of gold.  I take both home and set them onto a balance scale.  Which weighs more (tips the scale) and why?"

Hi-dee hi-dee everybody-likes-a-puzzle-ho my friend.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD 2011-2012: Anna Bolena

"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down.  It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."

Hello my fine friend.  A most marvelous Sunday greeting and wish to you!


O-M-G!  What a wonderful Saturday that Tiffany and I experienced.  Guess what?  It was opening day of the 2011-2012 MET Live in HD season!!!  Lucky Chucky...  The star of the season opener was one of his favorites, Anna Netrebko.  She brings talent, vocal range and enthusiasm beyond belief to each production that she partakes.

Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena

Where can one watch three world-class Russian opera performers (Anna Netrebko as Anna, Ekaterina Gubanova as Jane, and Ildar Abdrazakov as Henry), playing live in New York City, and singing in Italian all on the same day, on the same stage, in the same performance, and live at your local movie theater?  And... in Dolby surround sound high-definition.  The comfort of the local theater, air-conditioned and live.  Besides the actual performance, I get to see interviews with the performers before and during intermissions.  I also get to see exclusive behind-the-scenes set changes, costume switches, and feel like part of what is really going on to bring the production to me live.


The story?  It's Donizetti's take on the human heartbreak and agony when King Henry VIII decides that Anne Boleyn has to go.  After all, he has to make room for Jane Seymour to arrive into the royal limelight, does he not?  You know... You watched Showtime's "The Tudors" didn't you?  But, of course, Gaetano Donizetti wrote his historical synopsis back in the early 1800's.  Just a wee bit ahead of Showtime, I would venture to guess.

Synopsis

I don't know what to add other than, if you were not one of the lucky ones to watch the performance today, you should go to the MET's web site and see whether there is an encore presentation planned near you!  Trust your friend Chucky... It'll be worth the money.

I'm soooooo happy.  Opera season is back for we 4-foot bubble-headed people!  Check it out.  What is the worst that can happen?  Perhaps a little culture at your personal time's expense?

Hi-dee hi-dee gotta-love-The-Metropolitan-Opera-Live-in-HD-season-performances-ho my friend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Simply Lunch

"A pig used to dirt turns its nose up at rice."
 - Japanese Proverb

Sheesh... Is it yet another wonderful day already?  Hello my fine friend.  May you be blessed with an eco-friendly and healthy day.

I'm going to try to keep this short and simple.  It's nothing more than a plate of delicious vegetarian food that I enjoyed for lunch the other day.

Lunch?  A plate full of love as served up by Tiffany.

What's on this plate exactly?


When Chucky says, "I don't really find myself missing meat." does this help to explain why?  I may have to trek into the deep dark recesses of Hell to earn a living each day, but I can still eat well when my lunch half-hour rolls around!  Management (that big 'ol red dude) does at least allow me this one luxury.

Hi-dee hi-dee what-did-you-have-for-lunch-today-ho my friend?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Small Footstep at a Time

"Anywhere is walking distance, if you've got the time."

Hello everyone!  Let's make this a better day than we had intended and then we will have exceeded our expectations.


Yes.  This is a wallet.  (You're good.)

Today's post?  Do you like puzzles?  No fair peeking ahead of course.  What is the difference between this:


Pic A:  The "150x" might help on this picture.


And this:


Pic B:  Can you see me waving way back there?
Just kidding.
But what about Pic A versus Pic B?


Scratching your head, huh?  I won't keep you wondering.  Pic A are grains of sand magnified 150-times.  Pic B is a beach containing many particles of sand.  I was going to count the numbers of grains for you but not only would you doubt me but you'd probably challenge whether these particular grains came from this particular piece of real estate.  <LOL>

Okay?  What relevance do the pictures of dirt have to do with that wallet above?  It's all to provide an analogy.  I'm gonna betcha that this beach did not simply appear overnight.  It took eons for this beach to appear.  Exercising some literary license, probably one grain of sand at a time.

The wallet?  It's my simple move from a leather to a synthetic (nylon) wallet.  I hope that I never own another leather wallet during the remainder of my lifetime.  No, I loved my former leather wallets but that was then and now is now.  I've changed and want to commit myself to doing the right thing one simple step at a time.

Tiffany and I have moved towards glassware in our kitchen replacing plastics.  We've also migrated towards stainless steel water bottles and on rare occasion making a plastic water bottle purchase.

No.  I have an absolute LONG way to go.  And I will never free myself entirely of animal-based products.  Next?  I'm trying to locate a nice nylon belt for my tremendous wasteline.  Do they even have enough nylon to make such a thing?

But... The crux of my plan is to make one small footstep at a time.  I won't be leaving this World as nice as I found it but I can at least try to exit with people acknowledging that I tried.

That's it folks.  Just a momentary jump up onto the soap box.  I'm back down again.  So...  Get back to that plastic water bottle and finish that lunch in the styrofoam container!

Hi-dee hi-dee remember-that-every-little-bit-matters-ho my friend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tortellini a la Chucky

"Life is too short, and I'm Italian. I'd much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0."

Happy Tuesday my friend!  Smile because you are about to experience a wonderful day.  Believe it so, make it so.

This past weekend was one of those "hmm... what are we going to make and use up but still be healthy" dinners.  I had some tomatoes that were getting near their prime and there were also some mushrooms which needed immediate attention.  We had some tortellini in the cupboard, some fresh baby spinach on-hand, and basil flourishing (okay... struggling) in the yard.

Tortellini a la Chucky, toast, and freshly made unsweetened sun green tea.

The result was delicious and made for several meals.  Not absolutely healthy but much healthier than I would be able to find if dining out.  When Tiffany and I ate portions in moderation, we both felt great and had no regret or guilt.

INGREDIENTS:
  • Tortellini, one package
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp Johnny's Garlic Spread & Seasoning (or equivalent)
  • 4 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 5-6 button mushrooms
  • 1 handful fresh baby spinach (approx 1 cup)
  • 8-9 fresh basil leaves, torn & crushed
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat water to cook pasta but first blanch tomatoes.
  2. Remove tomatoes from water before cooking tortellini according to package directions.
  3. Cut a "X" into bottom of tomatoes to facilitate skin peel.  When peeled, cut tomatoes into quarters and remove seeds into your compost bowl. Dice remaining tomatoes into medium sized chunks.  Set aside.
  4. As pasta is cooking, add sliced garlic and onion to hot oil over medium heat.  Cook until translucent.
  5. Add diced tomatoes and tear mushroom stems and caps by hand into small pieces and continue to cook for approximately 2 to 3 additional minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and toss in spinach and basil until wilted.
  7. When done, add hot drained pasta into empty bowl.
  8. Toss in sauteed ingredients and Johnny's Garlic Spread & Seasoning.  Toss gently careful not to tear tortellini.
  9. Serve in bowl and top with shredded cheese, if desired.
Hi-dee hi-dee what-are-you-going-to-whip-up-for-dinner-tonight-ho my friend?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finally... A Post Worth Opening and Viewing!

"Let the humans and 4-foot plastic bubble-headed dolls eat MORE vegetables!  Leave the meat to us canines.  After all, we are genetically designed carnivores.  What's up with those humans consuming animal flesh anyway?  Wait just a minute!  Hey ~ I'm an animal!  <gasp>"
 - The Seed, October 7th 2011

Woof!  Woof! to everybody and every animal.  Okay, okay... the cats too.


Umm.  I just betcha that leg 'o Chucky would be a most tasty snack!


See, Chucky ~ It's pictures they're wanting.  Not words!  'Nuff said?

Hi-dee hi-dee now-this-IS-how-you-make-a-REAL-blog-posting-ho Chucky, my friend!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baked Green Tomatoes

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.
  - Lewis Grizzard

My sincere salutations spread far and wide!



Our InfraChef halogen oven is doing its thing.

It was time to get out the InfraChef again. I don't recall where but I bumped into a blog post detailing baked green tomatoes. Then I suddenly recalled how delicious and crunchy baked smoky potato wedges are. If the InfraChef can handle potato wedges, why not green tomatoes? And... Lucky for me, Eat More Produce had green tomatoes on sale this week.



What makes pierogies taste even better?

Having a side of baked green tomatoes with them, of course!

I can not recall whose blog site that I found the ideal so I did a quick Google to conclude that simply dredging green tomato slices in bread crumbs should work. No binding agent such as soy milk or potato starch is required.  Simply coat sliced green tomato slices in a bowl of bread crumbs and bake.



Any jealous carivores out there?

Not only were the sliced green tomatoes a delicious addition to dinner but a second batch made for a tasty lunch at the office the following day. Tiffany and I were raving to each other just how perfect the InfraChef fits into our healthy vegetarian lifestyle. Chucky, Tiffany, and the InfraChef halogen oven... We've only just begun.  "But wait!  If you act quickly we will toss in a set of Ginsu knives!..."



Just flipped and ready for another 10-minutes of a halogen tan.

Hi-dee hi-dee Fried-Green-Tomatoes-is-not-just-a-movie-ho my friend.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vegetarian (Soy) Reuben Sandwich

"The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
 - Author Unknown

Hi everybody!  I hope that you are experiencing a pleasant day and there are no reasons ahead for it not continuing to be so.

Yes my friend.  It's yet another sandwich post today.  Two of them back to back.  Sorry but I've been on a real sandwich kick these past few days.  These things happen.  Soup for a few days, pizza for a few, crock pot meals for a few, and so on and so on.


Rye bread, cheese, dressing, sliced & marinated soy fillet, and sauerkraut.

The good news?  Both sandwich postings represent some mighty fine vegetarian eats!  Today's presentation may have a single unfortunate caveat though.  I'm hoping that you're fortunate enough to have access to a health market nearby your home.  Why?  I suspect the dehydrated soy fillets might be hard for some of you to get your hands around.  For me, I'm lucky to have Hoover's Essential Health Market as my favorite weekly "go to" shopping spot.


What is this?  Simply put, it a bag 'o dehydrated soy fillets.

Dehydrated soy fillets?  I suppose that they are essentially colossal chunks of TVP (textured vegetable protein).   A by-product, perhaps, of the soybean oil manufacturing process?   TVP is what Chucky affectionately likes to call "extruded soy by-product".  Hmm... Maybe dehydrated soy fillet sounds a skosh bit more appetizing?

"Oh?"  How do I get faux meat from these soy fillets?  Basically, you place the fillets into a pan of plain old tap water.  Heat it up until it boils and them immediately remove the fillets into a strainer and drain all water.  Refill the pan and place it back onto the burner for boiling once again.  As the water boils, squeeze the soy fillets as dry as you are able.  Careful though... they're hot.  When the water comes to a boil, toss the fillets back into the pot and cook an additional 5 to 7-minutes.

Again, remove the fillets into a strainer and drain all water.  You're done with the pan now.  After the fillets have had a chance to cool, squeeze them as dry as you are able.

Blend some fresh garlic, some reduced sodium soy sauce, and oil into a marinate.  I used walnut oil and Lee Kum Kee light soy sauce.  Slice the soy fillets into sardine-like slices tossing them into a marinating container.  When all soy fillets have been sliced and placed into the container, pour over the marinate and toss well.

Place into the fridge for 2-hours minimum (or overnight), tossing occasionally.  After thoroughly marinated, cook over medium heat in skillet until slightly browned and excess moisture is cooked out.

There you have it!  You've got delicious faux meat good for sandwiches, wraps, tossed onto salads, pizza topping, and just about anything else you can think of.


No.  We cut this in half and shared it as two lunches.

SERVINGS:  2 (our sandwich was colossal so we cut it in half to share it as lunch)

INGREDIENTS:
DIRECTIONS:
  1. "Come on!  It's a grilled sandwich, okay?  Nothing special here folks."  You can cuss 'n swear at 'ol Chucky for not including directions if you want to do so.  "Ain't gonna do it."  "Ain't gonna do it."
CONFESSION:  I used real cheese on my sandwich but only because I'm using up my dairy product and then switching to vegan alternatives.

I don't wish to brag but...  Oh, what the hey...  I'm going to anyway.  Yes, my friend.  It tasted that good.  It might not have tasted like the pastrami of a traditional carnivorous Reuben sandwich, but it was certainly delicious in its own right.  Psst... much healthier too.

Hi-dee hi-dee take-those-animal-flesh-foods-and-try-to-make-them-anew-and-vegetarian-ho my friend.

Recipe

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Grilled Sauerkraut & 'Mater on Rye Sandwich

"Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak."

Greetings my friend!  I hope this blog posting finds you well and good.

What do you get when two slices of Polonia Polish Restaurant rye bread, some vegan cheese, some pesto sauce, some olive tapenade, some sauerkraut, and some sliced red ripe hydroponically grown tomatoes try to cross the cast iron skillet but make it only half way across?  An absolutely delicious Grilled Sauerkraut and Tomato on Rye Sandwich, of course!


"Yes, Virginia.  Vegetarian food does taste good."

No ladies and gentlemen, it's certainly not as delicious as it looks.  It's even better!  An incredible blend of complimentary tastes upon the palate.  A deliciously sloppy cornucopia of flavor greets you upon first bite.

SERVINGS:  2 (Tiffany and I find that splitting this sandwich works best as ours was a mouth-watering monster creation.)

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2  bread slices, sturdy bakery bread (I used rye).
  • 2 or 3 tomato slices, thickly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp pesto sauce, vegan preferred
  • 2 Tbsp olive tapenade
  • 2 cheese slices, vegan preferred
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut, drained
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat cast iron skillet to medium heat.
  2. Prepare slices by spreading pesto on one slice and tapenade on the other.
  3. Lay one cheese slice uniformly on one slice.
  4. Layer evenly with tomato slices and then top with drained sauerkraut.
  5. Top with other cheese slice uniformly and then with second bread slice.
  6. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Grill until golden brown.  Approximately three to four minutes.
  8. Flip but re-spray cast iron skillet before grilling other side.
  9. I remove from skillet, place onto microwaveable plate and microwave for another 90-seconds just to make certain that I've got that perfectly sloppy sandwich filling.
NOTES:
  • The ideal of the two cheese slices being to "glue" the sandwich together.  It might be advantageous to include a third slice between the tomato slices and drained sauerkraut but please be cognizant of the calories, okay?
Another one of those examples where delicious does not have to be complex or cumbersome.  This is one of those things you can make while "thinking outside that culinary box".  Hmm... I betcha avocado would do well on this concoction.  I can also envision slices of tempeh or grilled tofu inside a similarly constructed sandwich.  Whatever your mind conjures up, bon appétit my friend.  Create healthy, cook safely, always be vegetarian, and eat deliciously.

Hi-dee hi-dee who-does-not-love-the-simple-deliciousness-of-a-sandwich-ho my friend.

Recipe