Half A Salad with a Full Garden

Last summer I was getting all fancy with the gardening and the fresh stuff and piles and piles of lettuce to show for all my hard work. Thanks to my appaent inability to withold memories I went and planted flowers and herbs on top of where the end of last year’s crop went to seed. So what happened? Rogue lettuce. EVERYWHERE. It was growing out of the drainpipe hole at the end of the garden bed. It was springing up from between the cracks in the sidewalk. It was sort of grow up and through a rock?? And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that even with all that crazy ninja lettuce popping up everywhere and messing up my carefully planned out herb garden I’ve gotten about 10 good leaves from the lot of them.

On the bright side (in the back where we get more sun) I’ve had so many tomatoes that the only thing I could think of after a while was to cut them in hlf and throw them in the oven so I could at least have something that still tasted like tomato and would turn to black goo on the countertop. I really hate it when tomatoes go bad. It’s super gross.

But all those poor tomatoes I just didn’t rescue in time aside, I was left with only half a salad since I was strangely without any other ingredients to help make any salad I made be more than just chopped tomatoes with salt. It takes a special tomato to be delicious without some sort of additional lubricant with taste.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

Here is a picture of tomatoes.

But between work and more work and my entire fammily deserting me for the island homelands I have had very little to eat except vegetables for the last month. It all happened because my dear mother finished her radiation treatments (yay!) and it ended with a really really big last minute party where I tried to grill outside. Thinking I’d try something new for a big crowd I attempted making burgers. Like real burgers. The kind with meat cooked on an open flame. Well over charcoal.

For those of you who don’t know: I was raised vegetarian. At some point the family became pescatarian but even fish is a rare occurence at Chez Tobing. I have left behind those meatless way for almost a decade now but even today I don’t cook meat. So me deciding to try cooking burgers for a party was probably the worst idea. They didn’t turn out awful. Just not great. The black bean burgers I mixed up, however, turned out amazing and I’ve even made this receipe since. I usually make my own aioli with vegenaise, fresh crushed garlic, lime, and sriracha. I had also posted the burger recipe last year in “Keeping it Veggie“:

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

But alongside the semi-successful burger project I grilled about 5 billion pounds of fresh stuff: Eggplane, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, OKRA!, bell peppers, asparagus, baby bell peppers, portabello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, corn… You put the grilled veggies on a toasted bun with the aioli and a still cripsy-on-the-outside black bean burger (or a marinated and grilled portabellow mushroom if you prefer) and that makes for a good party! In the future, though, I think I’ll leave the regular burgers to a professional. The afterparty of this whole affair was me sitting on the sofa eating nothing but roasted vegetable sandwiches for the next week while watching “Chuck” and drinking the remains of my homemade “Make Your Own Juice Bar”. My favorite was the sparkling  Persian Lime with an extra shot of sweetness from the ginger simple syrup.

In honor of the vegetables (and “fruit”. That’s right, I’m looking at you tomatoes!) that kept me alive while living alone for the last month I’m dedicating the next series of posts with all the wonderful ways to eat them!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers (from SkinnyTaste)

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers

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GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

GatroPorn Menu: July.2013

It is getting far too hot outside for my tastes. Mid-90’s and the humidity is on the rise. I keep forgetting every spring that my hair does not do well in humidity and so I don’t preemptively get it cut in time for the great *poof* that becomes my hair in the DC summers. And in addition to that the temperature of one’s food can make a difference to the comfort levels in this god-awful heat.

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas because I often associate the two holidays with a large amount of cooking and eating and partying. I’m not the greatest fan on the patriotic holidays because the types of foods do not create insane food memories of intense bliss in my head. But there are still foods that can excite my palate during the summer holidays… Here is a menu with a few of them along with a couple new items I’m keen to try this month:

Boozy Sweet Tea

“Boozy Sweet Tea” from Dessert for Two
(Click HERE for “Peach-Infused Moonshine” Recipe)

Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad

“Parmesan Tuiles with Heirloom Tomato Salad” from Food & Wine

New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress

“New Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise and Cress” from JamieOliver.com

Mediterranean Sliders

“Mediterranean Sliders” from Athenos (there’s something to be said for good advertising!)

Vegetable Kebabs

“Vegetable Kebabs” from Epicurious

Berry & Fruit Popsicles

“Berry & Fruit Popsicles” from Call Me Cupcake!

Breaking Down and Grilling

Caprese Burgers

“Caprese Burgers” from Food & Wine

I know I’ve been on a really good vegetarian roll for a while but then I saw this and then I just broke down… Sometimes I really just crave a real burger. And this one has done it for me. I’m not craving it right now but knowing of the existence of such a thing and thoroughly undone me. I have never made my own burgers but I do know how it is done. There is nothing standing in my way from this awesomeness! Well perhaps still being rather unwell might but I will be better soon (I have determined!) and then I shall grill… Grill, baby! Grill!

Enjoy the lovely weather these days, Foodie Nation, for they will not last long and then will settle in the great DC heat full of muggy grossness that makes you want to sit in an ice bath and end it all.

What I Wish I Had For Lunch Today (Day Two)

 Red Lentil Cauliflower Burger with Chipotle Habanero Mayo, Onion Rings, Roasted peppers

” Red Lentil Cauliflower Burger with Chipotle Habanero Mayo, Onion Rings, Roasted peppers” from Vegan Richa

Look at that “burger”. Just look at it.Yes…. It does look a little funny. Why? It’s vegan. Oh don’t “Ew!” me! It looks amazing and I don’t care. It’s better than what I’ve got going on. If it weren’t for the loving care of my over worked mother and our crock pot I wouldn’t have the soup I have today and then it would be like yesterday all over again. Sigh… Yesterday. I’m so glad today isn’t yesterday. Confidentiality won’t allow me to reveal details but we’ll just leave it at: THESE STUDENTS ARE MAKING ME INSANE!!!!! I’m so ready for this year and these students to move on so we can get a new crop and try over again.

But this week is looking grim in the land of lunchtime overall. So behind on work after dealing with medical emergencies and trying to finalize my paperwork and trying to get *&^%$#@!#$%^&^%$#@#$%^&* reimbursed for buying supplies for my students. I’m out over $100 because of a miss-written note I’m pretty sure no auditor would have minded. I have a feeling… No I’m not going to say that. That’s just the hunger and lack of sleep talking.

I’m too tired to eat meat. I know that sounds silly but I was vegetarian long enough that eating meat sort of takes the energy out of me and makes feel sluggish and heavy. But I want a burger. So I’ll settle for a veggie burger and this one looks just fine.

I know the title of this post is “Day Two” even though it’s technically day one. We’ll just say that today is day two of my trails and the first day I feel like talking about it. I think it might be the day I take a nap before bed tonight. Look out for more posts on lunches all this week. Eat well, Foodie Nation. Eat well and slumber.

Keeping It “Veggie”

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

Black Bean Burgers with a Smoky Red Pepper Spread

So, like a good Asian daughter, I’m probably at church right now. That means I’ve selected this recipe before hand and schedule it’s presentation unto you, my Foodie Nationals. At some point I’m going to go all Steven Colbert and start all my blogs with “Welcome Foodie Nation!” Since being a Seventh-day Adventist is often synonymous with vegetarianism (if you’re doing it “right”) it could be a great selling point to those who are interested in either. I’m against organized religion and totally for making my mom not cry so I’ve stuck around long enough in this religion to know I’ll survive. And just to be clear, we’re not all vegetarians. Clearly. But that’s all theological crap that really should have no place here. This is about food. And food is what I’m probably not doing right now. But I’m probably thinking about food. And in the spirit of keeping it “Veggie” here’s what I’ve got. I really, really like, veggie burgers. No, they are not real burgers in the sense that they are made from a real cow, but they are so yummy. I’ve got these masala burgers… and the burgers featured in the post just look yummy. I’ve never actually tried making my own burgers (meat or vegetarian) but I really should try sometime. It would be great to try and then I could put in all the stuff I want like roasted red peppers (the only way I will ever eat red peppers is roasted or liquefied in some way), eggplant, cheeses, spices, the whole nine-yards. Then I can freeze them and take them to work and everyone will just wonder at my awesomeness!!

Oh wait… I forgot it’s still a weekday and that this will go out on Saturday and I really shouldn’t be talking about work on Saturday. The Sabbath is sacred and I will not desecrate it with that which is not worthy.

Vegetarian?

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

So the other day the above photograph showed up as a post from America’s Test Kitchen. The post read something like polenta is a vegetarian option blah blah blah being a vegetarian is no fun because then you have to eat polenta blah blah…

In case it isn’t apparent, I don’t like polenta. It makes this sort of dry hard lumpy mass of grits meets cream of wheat and I don’t like any of those above descriptors. Now, maybe you like polenta. That’s up to you and your taste buds. But I do not and I also do not like people bashing on vegetarianism. Yes, I do love goat curry and satay and yes, I do occasionally enjoy a good burger. But I was a vegetarian until I was 17 and my mom let my dad take me on a trip to Africa instead of attending my high school graduation and my dad was NOT raised a vegetarian and I was told I was old enough to try for myself and make a decision. So I tried lots of things and I decided I was no longer strictly a vegetarian. Still don’t like chicken much, however.

There seems to still be some sort of stigma attached to vegetarian cooking these days that just seems silly. While I eat meat occasionally I almost never (and I mean NEVER) cook meat at home. I’m sure I could if I had to in order to save my family from murderers but that’s about it.

My brain tends to run a mile (or two) a minute so between seeing that post yesterday and now I’ve been thinking a lot about goo resources for vegetarian cooking that makes it both appealing and non-disgusting looking. I’ve seen a lot of craptastic vegetarian food and I would never wish that on any of you.

In some of my musings and milling aboutness on the internet I saw a few cookbooks that I have previewed and which, I feel, seem somewhat promising. The first one is “Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes” by Martha Stewart. Say what you will about the woman but she’s got a decent set of gastroporn in her back pocket and I often approve of it.

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes

The biggest problem of eating vegetarian is that too many people try to REPLACE meat with something that isn’t meat and try to pass it off as meat. Stop. Don’t do that. Once you start trying to replace your meat with a “meat-like” mass, you’re doomed.

Check out this burger:

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

“Spicy Black Bean Burgers” from Skinnytaste.com

No meat, no problem.

Being vegetarian or vegan can sometimes come with religious or spiritual backgrounds but for a lot of people it’s a fad or a phase. Like “I’m so cool because I’m a… Vegetarian…” (insert some over the top facial expressions and maybe even a hair flip  in there somewhere). The problem with that is that you take it seriously for a while then you get these cravings and it’s all over. So better not to do that.

Of course their are health benefits to cutting out meat in the average diet. If you want any of these benefits it’s like using that exercise machine. Doing it all in a week then sitting on the sofa the rest of the month isn’t going to help your fat ass get any sexier. Although some people have a sexy fat ass… I think you all are much smarter than the majority of students I have to deal with and can figure out for yourself what you need to do.