Archive for April, 2009

I went to the Maine Vegetarian Food Festival last year and picked up a list of commonly-used Hidden Animal Ingredients.  I was reminded of it today because we bought a bottle of Sobe Lifewater, “yumberry pomegranate” flavor:

Sobe Lifewater

Apparently it’s supposed to “purify” me with these ingredients:


“Cochineal extract” is made from crushed scale insects that look like this:

Just goes to show– you can’t even trust the most innocuous-looking fluids not to have animal ingredients.


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My dad’s sisters (there are a few) used to make a big batch of this in a industrial-sized rice cooker for family get-togethers. It’s not quire the same on a stovetop and without chicken drumsticks but here’s my version.  Start at least 1 hour before you plan to eat; it takes a long time for the rice to absorb the coconut milk.

1.5 cups white rice
1 can coconut milk (I use the lite variety)
1.5 cups water
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup golden raisins
3/4 tsp and 3/4 tsp Better Than Bouillon, divided
3-4 tsp non-spicy curry powder
1 package firm or extra-firm tofu, well drained; or pieces of veg. chicken (not breaded)
2-3 bay leaves
salt if desired
Non-spicy curry powder:
Indra curry powder- not spicy
Slice the tofu about 1 cm thick and smear both sides of each piece with portion of the Better Than Bouillon (I get 8 slices from Nasoya). Sprinkle tops with about 1 tsp of curry power and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes until the pieces are nice and meaty/chewy.  If using veggie chicken, just sprinkle the cutlets with some curry powder and place on top of  your rice while it cooks (see below).
basted tofu before baking
In a large pot, throw in the rice, coconut milk, water, peas, raisins, 2-3 tsp curry powder, and 3/4 tsp Better Than Bouillon. Set the 2 bay leaves on top. Cook on low for about 1 hour (mine took 1.5 hours on very low). Usually opening the lid is a total faux pas but because of the coconut milk, you’ll have to lift the bay leaves and stir the rice 2-3 times while it’s cooking to make sure the rice on top doesn’t get dry while the rice on bottom overcooks.

After an hour, check to see if the rice is done. Once the rice thoroughly cooked, remove the bay leaves and mix the whole thing so the peas and raisins are evenly distributed. Then throw the tofu pieces into the pot and mix again. Add salt if desired. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then serve.
coconut curry rice

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Drunken noodles/pad kee mao is my favorite Thai dish… thai basil, sweet soy sauce, chilies… mmmm…. I always start with this easy recipe as a basis for experimentation.

You can find thai basil and rice noodles at Haknuman Meanchey up Forest Ave., along with lots of hard-to-find asian produce, dry goods, and prepared foods. I went in there for the first time recently and was pretty wowed by their variety.
Haknuman Meanchey

Onto the eating part…

Drunken Noodles Sauce:
2 tablespoons Golden Mountain sauce or Maggi sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup thai basil leaves
Sambal oelek to taste (start with 1/4 tsp)
for the sauce

5-6 oz. rice noodles/rice sticks/rice flakes (big flat square noodles)
1-2 thai peppers, diced small
1 tomato, cut into wedges
1/2 onion, sliced
oil for stir-frying
1/2 package of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into strips

snow peas
1 carrot cut into rings or matchsticks
1/2 red or green bell pepper, cut into strips
noodle ingredients
Soak the noodles in hot (just before boiling) water, making sure all the noodles are underwater. In a separate bowl combine just the sauce ingredients and muddle the basil leaves in with it, set aside. Stir-fry the onions and carrots on medium high and add the tofu strips in a ring around the outside. Spoon some of the sauce onto the tofu, just enough to that all of it is absorbed by the tofu. Once the onions are cooked, add snow peas/bell peppers/chili peppers (if using) and stir the whole mixture and keep stir-frying until the carrots are no longer raw.


Check on the rice noodles- drain them when they are just under al dente because they will absorb the sauce at the end to become al dente. It’s best to undershoot this because you can always add more fluid at the end but you can’t take water out once the noodles are soggy. When ready, drain the noodles and set aside. Clear a spot in the middle of your stir-fry and add the tomato. Stir-fry briefly- about one minute. Clear all veggies to the side, dump the noodles in the middle and the sauce on top. Stir-fry the whole thing together until the sauce is absorbed (you may have to separate clumps of basil leaves or clumps of rice noodles), then serve.

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

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Time to stop eating eggs?

My policy is to buy cage-free only, although “cage-free” is a loose term that apparently has been used to include hens that are let out of their cages for an hour a day.  Also, one could make the argument that a lifetime of egg-laying (or being milked) is worse than a quick death.  So… I guess ideally I would be vegan but I haven’t made the switch… yet.

I always hope that when Maine is in the national news it’s for positive reasons but that’s not the case today.  The animal welfare group Mercy for Animals had been investigating an egg farm in Turner, ME,  run by Maine Contract Farming LLC and distributed by Quality Egg, the largest egg supplier in the region.  Undercover workers shot footage  showing:

” workers killing hens by grabbing their necks and swinging them around in circles, workers throwing live hens into trash cans, and birds suffering from broken bones, open wounds and infections.

“The hens in the battery cages are oftentimes forced to produce eggs in cages with extremely rotting corpses of other birds who’ve died because they were unable to access food or water.”

The Press Herald states that “Quality Egg was known previously as DeCoster Egg Farm, which was accused of hiring undocumented workers and violating human rights.”  They’ve gone from violating human rights to animal rights, so I’d say it’s a small step up.

Here are the links:

Portland Press Herald (AP story; apparently PPH reporters can’t be bothered to drive an hour for a story )

the bostonchannel.com (much more thorough)

video (haven’t watched it, not going to)

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