Photo Credit: Google Image Search

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seeing Red...Hungarian Red

I've never really eaten Hungarian food before.  Not because I don't want to, but because I rarely come across anything that is Hungarian...or at least I'm not aware of it if I do.   So, when I came across the recipe in Appetite for Reduction for "Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas," I decided that it was time to expand my horizons.

That and I kept hearing Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal saying "Paprikash" in that strange accent while they were shopping in a Sharper Image-esque store during "When Harry Met Sally."

Anyone remember that scene?

It really doesn't take much to encourage me to try a new food, obviously.

Anyways, I set out on my Hungarian kitchen pilgrimage and decided to go all out and follow Isa's directions, because, let's all be real here, she knows what she's doing when it comes to Vegan food.  And she recommended pairing the Paprikas with "Scarlet Barley."

If you've been keeping track with my blog, I rarely endeavor to make more than one dish/meal.   Mostly because this stresses me out and ups the likelihood that I spill or overseason or burn or *insert anything that could go wrong in a kitchen*.

There were a few issues with the barley, mostly including the grating of beets.  For those of you who have never done this feat, be forewarned that if you are near the scene of a crime when you are grating said beets, you will need quite a significant and reliable alibi, because I honestly looked like I had slaughtered a cow afterwards.

And I stained my white shirt.

Why I chose to wear a white shirt whilst grating beets is a whole other issue, but don't do it.

Anyways, the Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas was pretty simple.  We used normal Paprika since I could not find smoked paprika and therefore threw in a little Liquid Smoke.  I also think we had a bad batch of mushrooms because the end result had a strange flavor.  

All in all, this was...interesting.  I'm not a huge dill person, so the superfluous usage of this herb may have been to blame, but I also felt like this dish needed something creamy.  Like sour cream?  Never EVER felt that way about anything before, so that was strange.  I think this may be an acquired taste, but it sure was colorful!

If any of you have a stellar Hungarian recipe that I need to try, please let me know, I'd love to dabble a bit more.

Here's the recipe for the "Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas" from Appetite for Reduction:

1 small onion, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
1 (16 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1. Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions in liquid until lightly browned, about 7 minutes (since we're on E2 still, we used broth or water). Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, pepper and salt, cook until lots of moisture has been released, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the wine, broth, smoked paprika, and thyme. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a low boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Lower the heat and add the beans. Cook to heat through, about 5 more minutes. Use a strong fork to lightly mash some of the beans, to thicken the sauce. Taste for salt and serve.

And here's the recipe for "Scarlet Barley" also from AFR:


2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 beet, grated
Juice of half of lemon
Fresh dill for garnish (optional)



1. Preheat a pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic in a liquid for about 1 minute (since we're on E2 still, we use broth or water). Add several pinches of pepper and the bay leaf. Add the barley and broth, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir and lower the heat to low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. When most of the broth has absorbed, mix in the grated beet. Cook for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you need to add a little more liquid, feel free to so the barley doesn’t stick to the pan. It will soak in while continuing to cook, don’t worry.
3. After about 45 minutes of cooking, turn off the heat and mix in the lemon juice. Taste for salt and season as desired. Cover and let sit for another 10 minutes.
4. Remove bay leave and serve. Garnish with fresh dill.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Love Letter to Veganism and this Blog

In sticking with my once a month blog posts...I figured I'd better get after my January post before it's too late.

I'm kidding.  Sort of.

These past few months have been crazy.   Crazy at work, crazy at home, crazy in general.  And if my sanity has any say in it...the craziness HAS TO STOP.

So, I'm going to blog more.   Because I love doing it.

What I don't love is feeling guilty when I've lapsed in posting...because then it starts to feel like an obligation.  And in a world filled with unending obligations, I just can't take one more.

But we're nearing the 1 year anniversary of this blog and my decision to eat a primarily vegan diet.   I'd like to give you a run down on some of the highlights of this year:

-I've cooked at least 90% of all the meals I've consumed over the past year. From scratch.
-As a general rule, I do not purchase any processed food, but cook and bake what I can, do without what I can't.
-I've cooked with things I've never heard of prior to this endeavor: quinoa, yuca, nutritional yeast, tomatillos, liquid smoke, whole wheat pastry flour, red lentils...the list goes on and on.
-I've tried different cuisines that I'd never been exposed to prior to this endeavor: ethiopian, hungarian, lebanese...etc. etc.
-My clothes are a little looser
-My skin is a little clearer
-I have had ZERO instances of acid reflux or indigestion.  This is HUGE because I used to take prescription medicine for this ailment.
-I sleep better AND have more energy
-I feel so connected and aware of the food I'm putting in my body because I am the one that purchases and prepares almost everything.
-My relationship with Matt has been strengthened because he was willing to put up with so many failures and to cook with me.  We look forward to cooking together and trying new things.  And we're also both confident that we are treating our bodies in a way that is healthy while also making our environmental impact on the earth a little smaller.

I just can't say enough good things about this experience.

It's true that I take a "break" from being a vegan around once a week, but even this has been impacted by the lifestyle change.  If I eat meat or dairy, I am aware of the impact this decision has on my body, on the earth, and on the animal.   I'm much less likely to overeat or mindlessly eat nowadays.

Life is good.  And it might be a little sappy to write this blog post, but I credit much of my good mood and happiness to choosing to live a primarily plant-strong life.

In order to fully re-enter into blogging regularly, I've got to let the dishes I made in the past go and start fresh.  So with that being said, here is a farewell photo montage to some of the dishes I made and did not blog about in 2011.

Pad Thai Salad from "Appetite for Reduction"

Sweet Potato Lasanga from "Engine 2"

Fruit Pie with Date Nut Crust "Engine 2"

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie "Veganomicon"

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa-Stir-Fry "Veganomicon"

As you can see, even with terrible photography skills, the food is delicious and so much more than salads. 

Maybe 2012 is the year YOU want to try eating vegan.

Maybe... ;)