101 in 1001 #8: 2 recipes from VwaV

I made two recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance this week as planned: orange-glazed beets and sweet potatoes with five-spice and watercress.

Both are good. Beets I’m ambivalent about. Not to put too fine a point on it, they taste a bit like dirt to me. A nicer way of putting it would be to say they have an earthy flavor. But I wanted to give them a chance. The orange glaze is sweet but not too sweet, and mellows them out a bit. Not bad. If I wanted to eat beets regularly I’d probably include this recipe in my repertoire, and given the nutritional profile and cheapness of beets, I probably should. No B12 though — damn!

The sweet potatoes I can rave about unreservedly — the five-spice combines nicely with them, the garlic adds a bit of savoriness, and the watercress a topping of freshness. This is listed as a brunch dish but could really be any meal. You could substitute other light, fresh-flavored greens (arugula and similar), but spinach would be too, well, spinachy, in my opinion.

Both recipes are easy and quick, with most of the work devoted to peeeling and cutting the vegetables and stripping the stems from the watercress; a little more prep for the other ingredients and you stick them in a skillet and cook them 10-20 minutes, and you’re set.

By and large, a double success on this one.

101: revised

I did end up revising my 101 goals, and I’m feeling much better about them. Many of the biggest changes I made were to change “Do all of this” to “Do N of this”, and that had a bigger psychological effect than I realized it might. Knowing that instead of cooking all the rest of recipes from Vegan With a Vengeance I’ve now picked 25 that particularly appeal to me (I plan to do 20 of them) makes me a lot more excited about doing them, because I know they’re the ones I’m excited about. Likewise for Stairway Walks of San Francisco — I know all the stairway walks in that book are nifty, but knowing I can finish that one by just picking a small variety that particularly appeal to me makes things easier, more fun, and more concrete.

In fact, I’ve already got ingredients for two new recipes this week: orange-glazed beets and sweet potato hash with five-spice and watercress. And per Shari’s request I may post pictures, even if it isn’t very photogenic in the end.

101 in 1001 #8: VwaV Chickpea-Hijiki Salad Sandwiches

For probably only the second time ever (the first time was the chickpea broccoli casserole, coincidentally), I’m not really happy with a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance. The Chickpea-Hijiki Salad Sandwiches (and also, I must say, I am not amused by calling them sammiches — it’s not cute, it’s annoying) are … odd. The concept of the salad is that you add hijiki to chickpeas and standard cold protein salad ingredients (mayonnaise, vegetables) to get a taste and consistency approximating tuna salad. And I like tuna salad. So I bought some hijiki a while back and have been meaning to make this.

But. Although I think it’s probably about as similar as it can get, chickpeas and hijiki are not tuna. The hijiki is black strands of sea vegetable that look disturbingly like worms, and chickpeas are much firmer than tuna (especially homecooked ones rather than canned — I meant to food-process them instead of just mashing by hand, to make up for this, but I decided not to food-process at 11pm in order to not annoy my neighbors). The fishy taste is too much (for my fish-not-loving self anyway) when you get hijiki by itself, and not enough when it’s not in the bite. I also had to put in a bit of mustard to counter the Nayonnaise taste — again, I don’t think this is Isa’s fault since she actually recommends Vegannaise, which I’ve heard is better-tasting, and I could have used soy yogurt instead.

Also, the vegetables are minced onion and carrot, and I’m used to my tuna salad having celery, apples, and pickles. Maybe I should try this again with more resemblance to the tuna salad I actually like — and perhaps food process the combination of chickpeas and hijiki to reduce the worm factor.

At any rate, it’s one worth giving a try to see if you like the combo, and if you aren’t enthralled, see what happens if you change it up a bit. The recipe gets good reviews when I google for it, and a number of suggestions to try other sea vegetables like arame or nori. Though I have to suspect that a good number of these people are vegans who don’t really remember what tuna tastes like. I last ate it only about two years ago, so I’m pretty sure I remember and I’m pretty sure that while this is not far off, it’s Not Really Tuna.

More 101: progress & completions update

Doing my 101 post about MoAD, I realized that I’m quite behind on updating some of my goals, so I moved the original post over and updated it with my progress — which still isn’t as much as I was hoping.

I also think I need some way of telling which goals are in progress or partially completed, because it’s depressing looking at the fact that I’ve only completed 15% of the goals and 30% of the time has passed. I was quite surprised to find it’s nearly a year since I started my 101. I’m still finding it somewhat motivating to look at the list, but less so. I’m realizing now that only part of motivation comes from seeing good ideas in front of you. The rest seems to come from somewhere that’s a bit more intermittent for me! But I’m hoping to do a few more soon.

I’m also still enjoying things that I decide to do outside the 101, just because I feel like it. I bought a jigsaw puzzle last week and am more than half done with it. I’m really enjoying it; doing a puzzle like that is a kind of meditation for me, and I like the way you can take a methodical approach and things gradually fit together, yet there’s some randomness involved, too. I’ve also made a lot of new recipes that have nothing to do with the recipes I listed, or with Vegan with a Vengeance, yet have still been cool and exploratory, like Kasha Varnishkes and “Green-wa” from Yellow Rose Recipes. I’m working on becoming a volunteer at the Peninsula Humane Society, although it’s turning out to be a challenge to fit it with my schedule. Depending on how that works out, I think I might use it in place of tutoring as a general ‘become a volunteer and help out’ goal.

Anyway, a couple of major updates:

#4: Completed! I didn’t wimp out, I baked treats for work for every month that had a birthday. I’m not doing it again this year because it’s kind of stressful, though it was great for my baking skills and really rewarding to have things so well-received.
#48: Completed! I’ve gotten really involved with SVBC (PBPC re-aligned with SVBC and is now the Peninsula Committee thereof, which is still most of the meetings I go to), doing rides (I even organized my first group ride, another thing I was really happy about outside the 101), participating in meetings and events, and serving on bike-related committees. I like the people that I meet, and I love having cyclists to chat with about the common issues. And best of all I’m making Silicon Valley a better place for cycling.
#62: One good thing about getting a head injury is that it finally motivated me to go to the doctor, and I scheduled an appointment for a physical while I was there, so, this will be completed in a few weeks!
#69: Finally got a digital camera! It was a gift, but it was one I requested specifically. It’s nice to be able to just take a few snapshots whenever I want (as long as I remember the camera).
#77: I mentioned learning to knit, but failed to note that it is goal #77 on the list. I’m now working on a scarf.
#96: Save $100 every month this year. I did this! And I even saved more, though how I don’t know, since I rather fell off the budget wagon. That’s a goal that, while completed, doesn’t seem to have solved the fundamental problem. : ) The money is now happily baking in a high-interest savings account.

In recent, active progress:

#8 VwaV recipes: I made a couple more over the holidays and have plans to make White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup soon
#25 Recently visited Wunderlich County Park (San Mateo County) — delightful place!
#35 Museums (MoAD was #2)
#97 Watching Buffy (on S3 now)
#99 Read Someone Comes to Town, Somone Leaves Town
#100 European History (maxed out my two biographies by reading about Queen Victoria and Mary Queen of Scots)