Guest product review: SooFoo grains blend! »
Funny name, yummy blend. SooFoo, a San Francisco-based, U.S.-grown blend of grains and pulses, is the perfect mix of new-and-exciting with simple-and-nutritious. It’s a great substitute for bland white rice or, in my household, basic, tasteless brown rice. SooFoo is completely organic and it has nine ingredients. Seems like a lot for “rice” type of food until you read them: long grain brown rice, brown lentils, wheat berries, oats, barley, black lentils, rye berries, green lentils, and buckwheat. The folks at SooFoo must’ve been big proponents of Raffi’s “Oats and Beans and Barely.”
Certified organic, Kosher, and vegan, SooFoo is one of the most guiltless products on the market. Their packaging gives some super basic, alliteration-filled suggestions on what to do with the food, such as “sprinkle in a salad,” “stir into soups,” “chuck in chili,” and “toss with tofu” among others. My personal fave is “shower the bride and groom.” I’m totally going to do that next summer. “The vegan from California brought his own hippie rice”—I can hear the in-laws already.
I threw 3/4 cup of SooFoo, 2 cups of water, and 1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil into my rice-cooker. Forty-five aromatic minutes later, I had four to six servings of SooFoo, piping hot. My ladyfriend and I decided to serve it with a stir-fry of red onion, purple bell pepper, green beans, and chickpeas with a gluttony of spices. In my attempt to rid the world of all gluten products by digesting them myself, I threw my portions in a whole wheat tortilla.
I gotta say, as a faux-meat and potatoes guy, I didn’t have the highest hopes for SooFoo. But I was blown away. Seriously. Add that to the fact it also has 6 grams of protein per serving (BUT WHERE DO VEGANS GET THEIR PROTEIN?!) and 3 grams of fiber per serving, you can easily justify the chocolate-covered pretzels you also bought.
All in all, SooFoo is pretty freaking awesome. Before I throw the rest of the bag during friends and family nuptials, I think I’ll and “toss it with tofu" next. But I’m open to suggestions!
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to Rhode Island-based hip-hop website The Echo Chamber Blog under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.
This is Robin Robertson’s gnocchi in kabocha sauce over lentils and greens! It’s like all of my favorite things in one meal! Click through to Vegan Planet blog for the recipe! Have an autumnal flavors party on your plate!
Vegan lentil mushroom sliders with homemade buns from Chez Cayenne. WANT NOW.
I don’t know guys, what is it about mini-food? It’s just the best! Is it because you can eat only a little at a time so you don’t get tired of it? Or that it’s more delicate to eat and I’m such a lady? I don’t know why but mini-food is just my jam.
Product Review: East & West Gourmet Afghan Food and the Bolani! »
East & West Gourmet Afghan Food is a local company that makes these great bolanis. A bolani is a stuffed flatbread and it’s SUPER and VEGAN—yay! I happened upon this little meal when I was walking around Whole Foods one day and I walked by this guy who was set up with a little sampling table and whatnot. He was like, “want to try some blah blah blah?” And I was like “no.” He got all persistent so I was like, “No thanks, I’m vegan.” He’s like, “this is vegan!” That’s how they get you! But yes it was vegan so I had to try some and then the guy was totally all, “you should listen before you say no to something.” Megan Rascal: “I don’t know if that’s true.” What is true: I don’t like dudes I don’t know telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. Homeboy was lucky the bolani tasted good—otherwise, who knows (Pow! Right in the kisser!)!
They have four different kinds of bolani: spinach, potato, lentil and pumpkin. Thus far, I’ve only had the lentil because I was trying to be healthy-like. I would have gotten the spinach one but it’s never in stock! According to their website, spinach is the most popular bolani. However, the lentil one does have a bit of a spanakopita taste to it anyway which is great. I heat it up for 30 seconds in the microwave, but you could also toast it or whatever. It’s a free country.
The bolanis are a bit dry but have no fear! East and West Gourmet Afghan Food makes sauces too! How convenient! And seven of their eight sauces are vegan—more yay! I’ve been getting the bolanis at Whole Foods but they are also available at a bunch of farmers markets' throughout the area—
including Island Earth . (Island Earth has been shut down, unfortch)
[Picture from http://www.bolaniandsauce.com]
Megan Rascal’s Super-Fast, Super-Easy Lentils and Couscous »
Here ye, here ye! A delicious meal you can make in under 20 minutes! Under 10 if you practice. Yes! It is true! I eat this about once a week and I love it. You will too.
First I want to give mad props to couscous—I love you, man! I know people aren’t supposed to say stuff like this but I’m an excellent cook. I just am. Deal with it. But something is wrong with me! I am incapable of cooking rice. It’s actually pretty impressive, I fuck it up without fail. Not only do I consistently burn the rice on the bottom of the pan, it always boils over and gets weird rice goo all over the stove.
Like I said, impressive. But guess what? I do not care anymore! Why? Because couscous is here to save the day! That shit cooks in FIVE MINUTES. Even whole-grain couscous! Screw brown rice with its 40-minute simmer time! Whole-grain couscous is high in fiber and still takes just five minutes to cook (you know, after you boil the water).
Ok, let’s get started. Ingredients:
- Couscous (I recommend whole-grain)
- 1 can Amy’s lentil soup
- 2 cans beans (whatever kind you like, I use kidney ‘cause that’s my fav)
- Garlic and/or onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil your water and cook the couscous as described on the box. It’s easy.
Now, chop the garlic (and/or onion) and sauté it in a pan over medium heat with a splash of olive oil. After the garlic has cooked a little, add the can of lentil soup. Let some of the liquid simmer off a bit. Then rinse your beans and add them to the mixture. Add some pepper and let it simmer for a bit. After a few minutes, add some salt and ta da! It’s done! Like I said: super-fast, super-easy! Just like me! Yay! Enjoy.
That, my friends, is it! There are other things you can add, it’s basically whatever you happen to have in your kitchen. Fresh basil is always a good idea. Try adding corn—trust me, it’s good. Zucchini and tomatoes are also pretty good! But it’s damn good with the few ingredients I listed above.
RECIPE! Ms. Lonelyhearts’ lentil soup »
Sometimes you are on top of the world; life could not possibly be greater, everything is sunshine and lollipops, and those rose-colored glasses have become permanently affixed to your face, but in a pretty way (obviously, everything about you is pretty). The view is amazing from your shining city.
Then, one day, you open your eyes and you can’t see the view for the fog; someone has ousted you from your dream-house and you can’t keep those pretty glasses on, all the tears make them slide down your face too much. One day the sunshine leaves.
When you’ve eased back from the copious weeping, you may realize you’re starving to death. Possibly because you haven’t been able to drag yourself to the grocery store in two months, possibly because you haven’t had to cook for yourself since you were eligible for The Real World, regardless, there are zero nonperishables in your cupboard but you still need to eat. Before you gnaw off your own hand, or spend obscene amounts of money and dignity on takeout for one, try this quick and easy recipe for soup!
Because it’s a liquid, it expands to fill the gaping hole inside where your ability to feel (anything but wretched self-pity) used to be. Because it’s lentils, it’s full of nourishing protein, vitamins and minerals, all of which you’re missing at the bottom of this well of mope. Because it’s quick, you’ll barely have time to reflect on the fact that this really is a meal for sorry little you before you’ve devoured it and are much sleepier than pathetic.
lemon or lime
Rinse about 1 cup red lentils in a mesh strainer until they seem “clean”; pick out any tiny stones or other non-lentil materials. Transfer the lentils into a small-to-medium-sized pot. Should you feel compelled to shake the lentils while in the strainer, or perform any other fancy-type moves, refrain; wet red lentils, once spilled, are quite difficult to pick up, and your antics will only prolong your pre-meal suffering, as well as increase your anger with yourself—yes, it’s possible to feel even more upset than when all this started. Really.
Next, add about 4 cups of water to the lentils in the pot. Maybe add a little more, it’s not that important. Best to err on the wetter than drier side, anyway, lest you end up with burned lentil sludge instead of delicious lentil soup. Ms. Lonelyhearts does not recommend fucking up this recipe; it could be very detrimental to your already precariously low self-esteem, and besides you have really got to eat something. Put the pot on the stove, turn the heat to high, cover the pot and wait for it to boil. This won’t take more than five minutes, during which time you can return to your online crossword to fill in a couple more clues. Don’t cry if you don’t make any progress; a hungry brain is a slow and stupid brain.
Once your lentils in water are boiling, remove the pot lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Now, throw in anything in your cupboards for flavor, bearing in mind that lentils are, by themselves, on the blander side. Ms. Lonelyhearts’ recipe includes black pepper, basil, rosemary, a healthy pour of oil (olive? canola? whatever, just get some fat in there, your hair is a ball of split ends), and more salt than you think you should add. No, really. If you are an undersalter, close your eyes and pour. If you oversalt, go with your gut, shake in as much as you think best. If you are a perfect salter, then maybe you should be making something fancier than this sad recipe for sad people, Mr.-or-Mrs. Perfectpants. You and your perfectly salted food and your smooth skin and your happy face are in the wrong place, and are welcome to scoot on back to the sunshine any time. The rest of you should note that if you happen to burst into tears while seasoning your soup, try to cry directly over the pot, so as to better flavor your supper.
After you’ve seasoned, cover the soup and leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure the timer is set loud enough that you can hear it from underneath the heap of bedclothes. When the 10 minutes are up, go stir the soup, taste it, make whatever flavoring adjustments it needs. You will probably need to add more salt. That is not a lie; Ms. Lonelyhearts would never mislead you. If the lentils feel like they’ve been sticking a bit to the bottom of the pot, turn the heat down a little—of all the things you’ve ever wanted not to happen, your lentils sticking is now at the top of the list (handily, the top five already happened, so prioritizing the rest is a matter of momentary importance). Now, cover the pot again and let the lentils simmer for 15 minutes, while you do whatever you need to do to get through them. Try updating your Depressing Music For The Body-Wracking Sobs playlist; some of those songs do lose their meaning after so much repetition. No, don’t pretend you don’t have one.
Once those 15 minutes are up, give the soup one more good stir—see how thick it is? that means it’s soup now—and turn off the heat. All you need to do now is add a little acid for contrast. Fortunately you have been drowning your sorrows in liquor these past weeks, and consequently have at least one lemon or lime around. Cut it in quarters, and squeeze them in one at a time, stirring and tasting after each one. When everything tastes right—about one fruit’s worth, give or take—ladle your soup into a bowl, grab a spoon, and retreat to your sanctuary (bedroom) to eat your supper, all by yourself. There’ll be enough for seconds, unless you’re using an enormous soup bowl, which you certainly can; there’s no one around to see or judge you for behaving a little feral right now. When you inevitably go back for seconds, being hungry and depressed without anyone to share with or stop you from eating more than your share, which is all of it, anyway, you are alone.
But you are also full of nourishing soup! Congratulations, you have taken care of yourself today. Don’t forget to rinse out your dishes before you crawl back into bed with a stiff drink.
This recipe is easily doubled for those not convinced of their inevitable solitary death!
We love Carrie over at happymapping. This recipe is
stolen from her.
Braised Lentils Mark Bittman Style!
I’m pretty sure I have told you all about my deep love for Mark Bittman, but if not, here we go: his recipes, his blog, his Minimalist column, his attitude towards cooking and food, his sense of humor about himself, I just think he’s the awesomest. Alright, moving on! This delicious recipe comes from his How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook. Along with a little salad and bread, this made a most excellent meal. And, as always, the cookbook offers a bunch of easy variations on this dish which I plan to try.
Braised Lentils, Spanish Style
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp smoked Spanish paprika (I was unable to find true Spanish paprika—which is shocking, considering I was shopping at the international food emporium known as Lucky’s—but I was still able to find smoked paprika, and that’s what makes the difference*)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups vegetable stock (I needed quite a bit more than this, so I would say have 3 or 4 cups ready)
- 1 cup dried brown lentils, washed and picked over
- salt and pepper
- chopped parsley for garnish
Put the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally about 5 to 7 minutes. (Note, I find that onions taste the best and add more awesome flavor if you cook them a little longer. So if you have time, cook these babies for about 10-15 minutes.) Add the garlic and paprika and cook for another minute or 2.
Add the bay leaf, wine, stock, and lentils. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to med-low so that everything is bubbling gently. Cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding stock (or water if you run out) to keep the lentils from sticking or burning. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Lentils should be saucy but not soupy. Adjust the seasoning to your liking, and sprinkle with the fresh parsley before serving.
Final note: I doubled this recipe, which works very well and makes extra deliciousness for lunches later in the week. The only thing I would mention is that you will definitely need more than 4 cups of stock or liquid. It’s fine to use water too, but you should keep an eye on this to make sure nothing is drying out. Enjoy!
*smoked paprika does indeed make all the difference.
Review: Club Waziema! »
Club Waziema is my favorite Ethiopian restaurant in San Francisco. Not so much because it’s autentico (I stole that from Jonas, I believe it’s Mexican for “authentic”) but because it’s delicious food in a fun space (dive bar meets whorehouse. See: the ridiculously wonderful and sexy wallpaper) and it’s super-cheap and there is an excellent jukebox. Oh and IT’S ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT. AMAZING.
I strongly suggest ordering the Vegetarian Combo, a combination of all their vegan dishes. They don’t use the proper Ethiopian names on the menu because their customers are almost 100 percent Hipster McWhitey but basically you get two different lentil dishes (one spicy, one milder), a mushroom stew, collard greens and a potato/carrot/cabbage combo for $9, ALL YOU CAN EAT. When the food runs out, you just ask for more and they bring it out because as mentioned above it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT. Has there ever been four more beautiful words strung together in the English language? I’m being serious, can you think of any? Because I’m actually trying and I can’t.
Everything is served on injera, which is traditional Ethiopian flat bread made with teff flour. The injera at Waziema is fluffier and less tangy than I like it but it’s still delicious and I think easier on a palate that isn’t used to eating this type of food. Please see above about Hipster McWhitey. You use the injera to eat all of the food so please don’t humiliate yourself by asking for a fork or some shit. HOW EMBARRASSING.
Some things to keep in mind when dining in here. The service can be inattentive and slow (this is how they do in Ethiopia. I’m assuming.) so either be relaxed, baby, or prepare to go to bat for what you believe in. I’ve also had really excellent service so it’s a bit of a crap shoot. It’s good for groups (I had a big birthday dinner here a few years ago and it was the perfect location for a laid-back celebration—just make sure to call ahead and reserve some space. You can apparently even make reservations on their site. I would say not great for a romantical date because it can get really loud and there aren’t basic restaurant things like tablecloths and shit because you’re in a bar but on the other hand, I had the first date with my current boyfriend here and he’s ALL RIGHT. And oh yeah, they are closed Sundays and not open for lunch. The kitchen is open from 5 to 10 p.m. every night but the bar stays open later, until midnight on school nights and 2 a.m. on the weekend SO YOU CAN PARTY! ETHIOPIAN STYLE! WHAT?!
That is all.