Monday, March 30, 2009

Homemade Falafel Fest !

The recipe for these falafels is basically the recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook, circa 1977. The biggest difference is that I used uncooked chickpeas ( instead of canned or cooked ) that had been soaked for about 36 hours. 48 hours would not have been too long to soak, so long as the water is changed now and then, and kept cool, but not in the refrigerator. The last time we made falafels I treated the chickpeas as soaking and rinsing them for the first twentyfour hours then rinsing and keeping them in a colander ( above any water )covered and not too cool, and after 48 hours most of the seeds sported adorably tiny roots on one end. I have read that sprouted beans and seeds are more digestible...that seems to be the case for me. Even the long soak for the beans used in this recipe seemed to dramatically reduce the usual gasiness I get from canned chickpeas. These are very easy to make.... the hardest part about making falafels is remembering to start your chickpea soaking ahead of time ! We didnt plan things right, so we did not have any tzatziki sauce on hand, so after Jamie fried these babies ( perfectly...not greasy at all ! ) we just stuffed them in pitas with onions, lettuce, mustard and Vegannaise.
Falafels are fantastic party food with several dips to go with them... we need to make these more often !

4 cups soaked raw chickpeas, rinsed
3 large cloves garlic, minced or microplaned
juice of 2 large lemons
3 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Spike seasoning salt ( optional )
1 3" dried chili pepper pod, crumbled ( or equivalent )
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced flat-leafed Italian parsley, packed
3 Tablespoons flour
extra flour for dredging
oil for frying

Combine all the above in a large bowl, and then pulse in small batches in a food processor or blender until ground up like a coarse-ish meal...not too fine, or they may get tough when cooked. Too coarse and they'll fall apart...test a little as you go and see how it holds together. The flour will help bind it when cooked. Set aside for at least 2 hours, or cover and refrigerate for several days. When ready to cook...have all your sandwich makings ready ( don't forget the tzatziki sauce ! ) make walnut-sized, slightly flattened balls of the mixture, dredge in the extra flour and deep fat fry a few at a time till golden brown...just a few minutes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another Dairy Product

Milk selling at 2.49 a gallon in grocery stores two blocks away from this dry-lot dairy in Arizona seemed especially insulting to the lives of these animals. Especially this little guy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One Lucky Vegan

OK, so this isn't strictly vegan, but watch how it ties in.
I had the good fortune to go on a National Geographic/Lindblad's Among The Great Whales cruise in Baja California Sur with my intrepid 80 year old mother ( thanks, Ma ! ) from Feb. 28th thru March 7th. We shared the ship National Geographic Seabird with 60 other passengers, about half of whom we're either from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, or were big supporters of their work. My love for birds and birding grows every year, so to find myself amongst some serious ( and generous ! ) birders was an unexpected bonus. And wow...birds galore ! Pelicans, egrets, cormorants, ducks, geese, coots, shearwaters, boobies, sea gulls, frigate birds, verdin, grey thrasher, cara caras, cactus wrens.... and the elusive Belding's Yellowthroat thanks to the persistence and patience of several people from the Cornell group.
I had come aboard prepared to "make do", food-wise. Peanut butter, good bread, homemade date/nut/coconut balls, Primal Strip Jerky traveled in my suitcase all the way from Virginia...just in case. And even tho I had filled out and sent my 'special diet' inquiry weeks before, I wasn't sure how 'vegan' would be interpreted. Turns out that a vegan staff member, Erin Tenille, from Portland , Oregon had just been promoted to the kitchen that week. She made fantastic vegan sandwiches, pilafs, risotto, soups and desserts all week certainly made my trip a pleasure, knowing there was a vegan in the kitchen watching out for me. There were a few others that requested vegetarian, and the whole kitchen and dining room staff were very accommodating. Most of the vegetarian options offered were vegan- based and could have cheese added if wanted. Their salads were gorgeous. One salad even had fresh flower blossoms scattered over the tender young greens. There were vegan salad dressings at each lunch and dinner ( and not just oil and vinegar ). My only gripe is that things that could have ( should have :> ) been vegan, were not. Take mashed reason to introduce dairy to that...leave out the butter and heavy cream ! Use vegan margarine and soy creamer ! Also the morning's hash browns or fried potatoes...why butter ? Why not olive, sunflower, safflower, walnut, avocado, or any number of other wonderful oils ? Amazing how many dishes are ruined through mindless additions of cheap, plentiful animal products.

I was thrilled to see that the Lindblad Expedition company left cards in our rooms explaining why they don't serve shrimp on board ("... the shrimp industry is one of the most destructive processes of the industry." ). However, modern industrial dairy practices have got to be one of the most destructive "farming" methods of all time. Yet they get a pass. Hmmmm. Our society really is addicted to dairy, isn't it ?

We saw Blue Whales off Cabo San Lucas. Blue Whales ! The Grey Whales were inexplicably friendly, considering how close we came to wiping their whole population off the planet...rendering their bodies down for oil to burn. A mother Grey repeatedly presented her baby to us humans, who were reaching their hands out of the Zodiac boats, splashing the water...hoping to touch the sweet immense creatures. What an exhilarating and conflicting experience. Part of me shrank from bothering these animals at all, even tho they approached our boats,on their own, once we were in the area. I only wish that people would value the lives of cows, pigs, chickens and all the other animals that suffer at our hands as much as the whales of the oceans. A life is a life.