11 April 2013

Namaste Meals

Untitled I spent a third of the month of March at a Buddhist monastery in California, where I ate the most amazing vegan food of my life. Maybe the mindful eating meditation had something to do with it, but being a vegan suddenly seemed so easy and awesome and natural and why was I not already doing it anyway. (More on mindful eating here, with a quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh, founder of Deer Park Monastery.)

Untitled Our monastic meals were almost always soybean-based in one way or another, but with so much variety. I was amazed at how they can take so few ingredients and make so many different dishes. Marinated tofu, tofu bakes, soft homemade tofu in pho, veggie burgers, sheets of bean curd skin... And they made their tofu, like everything else, from scratch.

The monks inspired me to cook more, get by on less, and become 90% vegetarian. (Due to my undying love of cheese, veganism will never be an option. Sorry cows.) The 10% leaves enough room for the occasional guilt-free cheating at restaurants, and for the sometimes necessary lunchtime burger-and-brew special at The Cambie.

So keeping in mind animal-friendly-cooking-more-and-using-less, my meals the past week have looked something like the following:

Black beans & salsa
The old stand-by, easy, hot and filling lunch. The prep time for this meal is as long as it takes to heat up the beans. Relative to the easiness, the taste is surprisingly pretty good.

Lentils, onions, green olives and marinated tomatoes
The two latter ingredients procured from the Ashland Food Co-op, my favourite food stop on the Pacific coast.

Vermicelli with mixed 'exotic' mushrooms; olives; olive juice (ie. the liquid the olives came in); tomatoes; roasted red peppers; artichoke hearts
Seasoning: salt, pepper, nutritional yeast
Inspired by Memories of Salt Spring II.

The end. This thing.
I was trying to recreate a meal we ate at the monastery for lunch one day. It was some kind of tofu-based bake, that was threaded with rice noodles and had carrots, green onions and some kind of seaweed AND/OR extreme-flavoured mushroom thing. One of my roommates suggested that perhaps they used soft tofu, blended up, and then mixed in uncooked rice noodles, so that as the noodles cook, they soak up the liquid and transform it into the baked thing that it is.

Sorry So what we have here is two packages of soft tofu, mashed up with a fork; mixed 'exotic' mushrooms that were sautéed a bit first; one chopped carrot that was par-cooked in the mushroom sweat; green onions; flakes of dulse.

What I mixed in a handful of vermicelli noodles. The original uses noodles of the rice variety, but non-rice noodles also worked. Seasoning: salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes.

... I baked it at 350°F until it seemed mostly set, which took an hour. I let it sit for ten minutes or so to set a little more. And it worked! It woooorrrrrkedd! HOORAY

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