Sunday, December 25, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Meyer Lemons

Pin It For Christmas, I made VB's grandma some chocolate-dipped Meyer lemons. It's something that she mentioned that she wanted to try and we couldn't find a vendor that sells this product. So what not make it? I made this two ways -- candied Meyer lemons and dehydrated Meyer lemons.

For candied lemon slices, I gently simmered lemon slices in water and sugar syrup for an hour. Then, I let them dry for 24 hours.

For dehydrated lemon slices, I roasted slices low and slow at 150 degrees for 5-6 hours. I lost count how many hours it took. Most recipes that I found online said they're done when they're... done. The most helpful piece of advice I found was when they sound like a poker chip when dropped into a pan, they're done. That's what I got here.

Then, I dipped them, twice!, in sweet dark chocolate. Turned out totally delicious -- tart, sweet and creamy at the same time. I hope Gi likes them!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pumpkin, Black Beans and Cheese Pupusas

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I got the idea for pumpkin pupusas from our local El Salvadorian restaurant. They often stuff a pumpkin mixture with cheese and meat into pupusas. And those are delicious! I decided to make something similar, but with a twist. Instead of stuffing pumpkin into the pupusa, I mixed pumpkin puree into the masa mix and stuffed it with a black bean cheese mixture. They turned out flavorful and moist -- a little different from the restaurant version, but tasty nevertheless.

You'll need:
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I use soy cheese to keep this vegan, but you can use easy to melt cheeses like cheddar or Monterey Jack)
  • canola oil for pan frying
  • salt to taste
  • 1 portion pumpkin masa mix, recipe below
For the pumpkin masa mix, you'll need:
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup (or half a 15-ounce can) pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • a pinch of salt
Begin by mixing all the ingredients for the pumpkin masa mix together in a large bowl. The masa mixture should be moist and can easily be manipulated. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat up 2 tablespoons of canola oil until shimmering. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add black beans. Allow beans to cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Gently mash the beans with the back of a spatula. Set aside.

To make pupusas, take a golf ball size masa mix and flatten into a cake with thinner center and thicker edges. Place about a tablespoon of black bean mix and some grated cheese in the center. Fold the edges over to cover the filling. Roll into a ball and flatten into a pancake by transferring it back and forth between two hands. Grease non-stick pan or hot griddle with canola oil. Place pupusa onto the hot griddle or non-stick pan. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat. This recipe should make about 10 to 12 pupusas. Serve immediately with some slaw, salsa, and/or guacamole.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mystery Produce of the Week: Kohlrabi

Pin It VB went to the farmers' market by himself this weekend. I had to sit out due to a bad headache from a stuffy nose. He came back excited about "sunchokes" which looked like this...

Not that I doubt our local farmers' ability to identify produce that they grow themselves, but these were clearly not sunchokes. So I spent a few minutes on google with search terms like "round green vegetable" and getting nowhere fast until I found a picture of kohlrabi, which is what we have here. Kohlrabi tastes like sweet, crunchy broccoli stem. It's mild and refreshing and probably awesome in a slaw with some apples. But instead, I made this delicious Indian dish called navalkola sukke, which includes some shredded coconuts and coriander, among other things.

I learned that kohlrabi needs to be peeled and cored. I did remove a part of the core, but it's not entirely clear which part is the core. VB ended up with some really fibrous inedible bits on his plate. Sorry.... Otherwise this was delicious. I'll be looking for these next time at the farmers' market.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kabocha Squash Pie

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I got a new kitchen tool. It's a food mill from VB's grandma for Christmas (thanks, Gi!). It's time to put it to good use. So. I have a brand new food mill, half a kabocha squash and a block of tofu. The only logical thing to do (in my odd twisted train of thought) is to roast the kabocha squash and pass it through the food mill, along with some tofu and make a pie out of it. Turned out pretty good! The food mill allowed the squash to be mashed but not pulverized, giving the pie a nice fluffy texture. My previous attempt in making a similar product, I didn't have the food mill and the pie was definitely more grainy. Next time, I'm going to make spaetzle with the food mill. I can't wait!

For this kabocha squash pie, you'll need:
  • 1/2 kabocha squash 
  • 1 16-ounce block of firm tofu
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons nutrional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 recipe of vegan pie crust, below
For the vegan pie crust, you will need:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter substitute (I use Earth Balance), cold and cubed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold and cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out and discard seeds from squash. Rub kabocha squash with olive oil. Stuff garlic cloves inside the cavity and place the squash cut side down into a baking dish. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour. The squash is done when the skin is browned and softened and you can easily insert a fork into the flesh. Remove and allow the squash to cool.

In the meantime, mix flour with a pinch of salt. Add cold butter substitute and vegetable shortening into the flour. With a whisk or by hand, break the fat into small pieces until the mixture has a wet sand consistency. If you want, you can use a food processor and pulse until similar consistency is achieved. Stir in ice water until the dough barely comes together. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and line the pie pan. Dock the dough with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes in 350 degree oven. Remove and set aside.

Peel the roasted garlic. Scoop out roasted squash flesh. Pass the squash and garlic through the food mill. Pass tofu through the food mill. For a finer texture, you may want to do it twice. Mix squash and tofu mixtures together, along with salt, nutritional yeast, ground ginger, granulated garlic, and orange zest. Make sure the mixture is well mixed. Fill the pie crust with the mixture and spread mixture out evenly with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven. Remove and let pie cool for 15 minutes before serving.

We also had some roasted radishes as a side dish. They're pink and festive!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kabocha Squash in Indian-Style Curry

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I've been contemplating what to do with this confection kabocha squash that we found in our local farmer's market. In most instances, I would roast it and have it as a side. But that's so BORING! A squash this beautiful with such unique sage/slate gray skin deserves special treatment. So I decided to make an Indian-style curry with this squash and it turned out great. The delicate sweet flavors of the squash mellowed out the spicy curry, making it a balanced and flavorful dinner.

You'll need:
  • 1/2 kabocha squash, seeded, peeled and diced (note: squash can be tough and hard to peel. I find that if you chop it to large wedges and microwave for 2 minutes, the squash will soften, making it easier to peel. Also, this will allow the squash to cook faster in the curry.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 Thai chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried mango powder (optional)
Begin by adding onion, garlic and ginger into a food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are well mixed and chopped. In a medium, heavy lidded pot, heat up canola oil until it shimmers. Add cumin seeds and brown mustard seeds. The seeds should start popping immediately. Stir in onion, ginger and garlic mixture. Gently stir and allow mixture to cook. In the meantime, pulse whole/diced tomatoes with juice in food processor until tomatoes are chopped. When the onion is softened and translucent, stir in ground cumin, ground coriander, ginger powder, garlic powder, tumeric, ground cardamon and garama masala. Stir until fragrant, about a minute or 2. Stir in tomatoes. Gently cook until most of the liquid evaporates and the mixture turns into a paste consistency. Season with salt. Stir in garbanzo beans and diced squash. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock. Bring stock to dimmer. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until squash is completely cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Stir in dried mango powder (optional). Serve over rice or with naan.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mystery Produce of the Week: Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato

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It's not a sweet potato! Originating (apparently) from Missouri, this squash looks like an elongated acorn squash that has an attractive canary yellow flesh and thin skin. It is less sweet and creamy than butternut squash, but it's nice, light and has a slightly crunchy texture. We found this oddly named squash at our local farmer's market last week. Just. Can't. Resist. Mystery. Produce! Of course we bought one, along with a gray skinned Kabocha squash. Still trying to figure out what to do with that.

So, for dinner, I diced up half of the squash and made a risotto along with some roasted chestnuts that we also bought at the farmer's market. I've never worked with chestnuts before and they were hard to peel and generally a big pain in the butt. But the chestnuts were creamy and sweet and paired very well with the light and slightly crunchy squash. I essentially duplicated my farro risotto recipe but switched out some ingredients.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Congee (粥)

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Congee, to me, is comfort food. My mom made it for me whenever I got sick. It seems like a very simple dish -- nothing but water and rice. But the tricky thing about congee is getting the right consistency. The rice must release its starch until it disintegrates but not so far along that congee turns into glue. The secret is the water to rice ratio, which should be 10:1. I used 1/2 cup of rice with 5 cups of water. The other secret is patience -- stir often for a long period of time, about 2+ hours. Place water and rice in a large lidded pot and bring water to boil. Stir often. Turn heat to low, just barely simmering. Keep the lid slightly ajar so it doesn't boil over. Cook until the mixture is thickened.

The best part to congee is the toppings! Here, we have pickled cucumbers, spicy pickled radish, seitan with peanuts, chopped green onions and thinly shredded ginger. But there are so many options, including shredded dried pork and thousand year old duck eggs. I thought about getting the thousand year old eggs, but they come in a package of 4 and I'm sure VB won't help me eat them. Maybe next time...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tofurky Roast

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We've had Tofurky Roast before but I never bothered with a review. So here is my belated review on a popular alternative to turkey on Thanksgiving.

I have to preface this review by saying that generally I'm a bit freaked out by Tofurky. I've had a lot of fake meat but I never had this reaction to any other fake meat product. Not sure why, but I guess the thought of building a butterball turkey breast out of powder and liquid weirds me out. I made fake turkey before and was mildly disturbed by the process of turning bags of random powder from Whole Foods into something that bore a fairly strong resemblance to meat. It's all mad science/magic that I don't quite understand.

We got only the Tofurky roast instead of the Tofurky Feast, which includes the butterball and other sides. Personally, I like the butterball only option. I didn't like the sides that the package came with last year. Besides, making the sides is half the fun of the Thanksgiving meal. In any event, we cooked our little butterball of magic according to its package instruction and got this beautiful Thanksgiving dinner out of it.

Obviously VB plated our pre-Thanksgiving meal. I wouldn't have bothered with cloth napkins.
When you slice cooked Tofurky open, you'll see that it's stuffed with a wild rice stuffing, which, in my opinion, is the best part of Tofurky. The wild rice adds a chewy texture and nutty flavor to the dense bread stuffing. As for the "meat" part of the Tofurky, I think it's a bit more dense and springy than real turkey, but the taste is pretty similar... especially after you've slathered on the gravy and cranberry relish. Of course, it helps that turkey is not the most distinctive tasting meat, especially the breast part.

Taste: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Texture: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

In a Nut Shell: Still the best meatless alternative for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chipotle Tamale Pie

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I patted myself on the back hard for this one. Tamale pie! So exotic! (Nevermind that there are probably hundreds of similar tamale pie recipes) It's a casserole! It's a pie! It's... it's... something that I've made before. It was not until after we had dinner and I downloaded pictures onto my computer that I realized this tamale pie looks suspiciously like Southwest Surprise, a recipe that I made back in April of 2009. Well, count me... surprised.

So I don't have the best recall on the stuff that I've made before, but this was delicious. I added some chipotle peppers in the beans so they're just a little smoky and spicy. The end result was delicious and hearty with contrasting textures and flavors like fluffy sweet cornbread and creamy spicy beans. Probably not the most original recipe, but a good one nonetheless.

You'll need:
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (cheddar would be great here too)
  • chopped cilantro (optional garnish)
  • 1 recipe of Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread (I used soy milk instead of buttermilk and Earth Balance instead of butter. Worked out great)
Begin by heating up canola oil in a heavy medium pot until the fat shimmers. Add red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onion and bell pepper. Stir and allow vegetables to cook until they are softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add green chilies, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, black beans, pinto/red kidney beans and water. Season. Stir and bring liquid to simmer. Allow mixture to simmer for another 15 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced and thickened.

In the meantime, combine all the ingredients for cornbread. You can also use boxed corn bread mix, just prepare up to the point prior to baking. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer the beans and vegetables into a baking dish. Spread out the mixture evenly to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Pour cornbread mix on top. Spread to create even surface. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove and allow tamale pie to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash

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I expect my next few food posts to feature orange colored food. Because it's that time of the year -- the time when we get orange produce like sweet potato, butternut squash, pumpkin and, well, orange. Today, we have a farro risotto with butternut squash. Farro has less starch (but more protein and fiber) than rice. So farro risotto doesn't have that creamy, viscous consistency that a rice risotto has. But it's slightly nutty and chewy. So, it's different and good for you. Of course, you can always replace the farro with rice if you want.

You'll need:
  • 2 cups of small diced butternut squash (1/3-inch cubes), about half of a medium butternut squash
  • 2 cups farro
  • 4 tablespoons butter or butter subsitute (I use Earth Balance), divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (toasted pine nuts would be good here too)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4-6 sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
In a sauce pan, bring vegetable stock to boil. Keep the stock hot and simmering. In a separate large skillet fitted with a lid, melt 3 tablespoons of butter or butter substitute over medium low heat. Add shallot and sweat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and sage leaves. Toss gently until fragrant, about a minute. Add diced butternut squash. Allow it to cook for just a couple of minutes. Season with salt. Add white wine. Bring liquid to simmer and reduce.

Gently mix in farro. Add a cup of hot vegetable stock. Cover and simmer undisturbed for 5-8 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Allow the liquid to reduce. Add another cup of hot vegetable stock. Cover and simmer undisturbed for 5-8 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Allow liquid to reduce a bit. Add the final cup of hot vegetable stock with lemon juice and chopped walnuts. Season with salt. Gently stir. Cover and simmer for another 5 to 8 minuets. Remove lid and stir. Allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate. Stir in a tablespoon of butter or butter substitute or grated Parmesan cheese (optional). Garnish with chopped parsley and/or grate Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

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I've had a love-hate relationship with gnocchi -- I love to eat them, but hate the ones that I make. There are a couple of times that they turned out alright, but most of the times, they're either mushy and weird or really dense. I was stubborn about making them with nothing but potatoes and flour. But I can never quite get the dough to stay together in boiling water. Or I end up overworking the dough and turning out little hockey pocks. Now, for the first time ever, I made gnocchi that I find acceptable. I dare call it... good! The key, as you probably guessed, is egg. A beaten egg added to the dough made a whole world of difference. I actually made fluffy gnocchi! For a change!

This sweet potato gnocchi is perfect for fall. Slightly sweet, it pairs so well with a sage and butter sauce. I'm not gonna lie -- this recipe takes some time, but most of it is spent baking sweet potatoes. Otherwise, it's actually fairly easy and has very few number of ingredients. I think you will like it.

For this sweet potato gnocchi, you'll need:
  • 3 small to medium garnet sweet potatoes
  • 1 medium Russet potato
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs of sage, leaves only (about 12-16 leaves)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • salt to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
Perforate potato and sweet potatoes on all sides with a fork. Bake in 400 degree oven until you can easily pierce them with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let cool until they can be safely handled but still warm. Peel and chop into large chunks. Pass chunks through a ricer and into a bowl. Add beaten egg, flour, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Mix together. Once the dough comes together, gently knead a few times. If the dough becomes sticky again, add a little bit more flour. Turn dough out to a floured work surface. Roll dough into a long thin roll about 1/2 inch in diameter. You may want to work in batches.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil. Season with salt.

Portion the dough so you'd get pieces of dough that are roughly the size of a Sour Ball. Roll each piece gently in your hands to form a ball. Press each ball down lightly with a fork. Remember to dust with flour liberally so dough doesn't stick to work surface. Drop gnocchi in boiling water. Boil for 3-5 minutes. They will float once cooked. Strain and set aside.

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan. Once butter has melted, add about 4 sage leaves. Let the butter brown slightly and sage leaves get crispy. Toss in about one quarter of the gnocchi that you've set aside. Quickly coat gnocchi with butter. Repeat. You should get 4 portions out of this recipe. Garnish with grated Parmesan and/or chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Healing Bowl

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It seems like everyone is sick. I am too. I hate mucus. When I'm sick, I want hot soup with noodles. This dish will make you feel better. I had this dish in Mendocino at the Mendocino Cafe. When I got sick, I craved the rich broth and soft noodles. So I made it at home. Yes, it did make me feel better.

You'll need:
  • 6 dry shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 stalk of green onion, chopped into long segments
  • 1 whole Thai chili pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 servings of soba noodles
  • 1 bunch kale, stem removed, thoroughly cleaned and sliced into strips
  • 1 block firm tofu or bean curd, diced
  • 6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons miso (I used white miso, which is less salty. If you use darker, saltier miso, you will need less)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Begin by soaking dry shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain. Bring 6 cups of water to boil. Add rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, fresh ginger slices, green onion, Thai chili pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, gently pan fry diced tofu in a non-stick frying pan until golden brown on 4 sides. Set aside.

Strain out and discard everything, leaving just the broth. Add miso, one tablespoon at a time. Make sure to taste the broth so it's not too salty. Whisk gently to dissolve the miso. Add rice wine vinegar. Just prior to serving, bring broth to boil. Add kale, fresh sliced shiitake mushroom and soba noodles. Boil until soba noodles are cooked. Add tofu prior to serving. Serve hot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Southwestern Pasta Salad with Roasted Pepper Chipotle Sauce

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First food post in a long time! I got tired of eating boxed frozen meals and takeout, so I decided to try cooking for a change. Imagine that. It's simple, healthy and fast. I think this makes a very good side dish (or main, if you've only got so much time on hand to cook like me).

You'll need:
  • 3 chipotles in adobe sauce, roughly chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 pound of pasta, cooked according to package instructions and cooled to room temp
  • 1 15-ounce can of corn, drained
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste
Begin by roasting red bell pepper whole over open flame until skin is completely charred on all sides. If you don't have a source of fire, you can broil on high for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Place bell pepper into a bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside for 15 minutes. Remove bell pepper and rub off charred skin. Remove stem and seeds. Rough chop. Blend together roasted pepper with chopped chipotles, lime juice, olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water. The resulting sauce should be relatively smooth. If not, add more water. Season with salt.

Toss pasta together with sauce, corn, chopped tomatoes, cilantro and green onion. Serve cold or at room temp.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mini-Moon in Mendocino

Pin It Every long absence from the blog deserves an equally long-winded excuse. This is a good one, so hear me out... VB and I got hitched! In the middle of our cross country wedding circuit, we took a break and drove up to Mendocino and Fort Bragg for a quick getaway. But don't call it a honeymoon, because we'd like to reserve that moniker for a bigger, badder vacation. I shall call it.... mini-moon (cue Dr. Evil).

We started off near Healdsburg and then drove up to Medocino and Fort Bragg. Nothing up there but sun, beach, wine and beer. And hippies. All good things in my book. Except the hippies. Well... they're alright too.

Dry Creek General Store. So charming.
Real pop. With sugar and everything.

Hazy Mendocino morning.

Wild blackberries -- lots of large seeds and not particularly palatable. Yes, I ate one.

Hiking in Russian Gulch.

Darwin's advice on eating things found in a forest: "Don't be stoopid." We weren't.
Same advice applies here, despite its resemblance to banana.

Sunset at Fort Bragg.
Beach full of glass washed ashore from years of trash being dumped into the ocean.
Last look at Mendocino

Obligatory cute animal picture. His name is Lou.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Shrimp

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Believe it or not, Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Shrimp is not the first vegetarian shrimp product that I've had. I think the tricky thing with fake shrimp products is the texture. Shrimp has that weird texture naturally that is difficult to imitate. I'm not sure that any fake shrimp product can ever come close to the real thing. But Sophie's Kitchen Breaded Vegan Shrimp is an interesting attempt at an dairy-free and soy-free imitation shrimp. This is made in Taiwan (yay!) with konjac. For those who are not familiar with konjac, it is a starchy root that solidifies into choking hazard jelly that ends up in various sweet tea and fruit drinks. It has a slightly crunchy texture that is just a bit firmer than jello. In Taiwan, konjac gets turned into various different kinds of fake seafood, including fake sashimi (of all the things that you think would be impossible to imitate...).

The jelly texture is really not similar to shrimp at all, but once the clever folks at Sophie's Kitchen breaded these crescent shaped konjac jelly, you don't notice the difference in texture as much. That said, no one can really confuse this with the real deal. But in the end, I didn't really mind them, especially after dipping them into cocktail sauce. As for the taste, you guessed it, it didn't taste like shrimp... or much of anything else for that matter.

Taste: 1 out of 5 stars
Texture: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Overall: 2 out of 5 stars

In A Nut Shell: It doesn't get high marks for similarity to real shrimp, but it didn't taste bad. I rather enjoyed it, actually. But I definitely wouldn't mistake it for real shrimp, which I'm sure is a good thing to some vegetarians out there.