On Friday, V and I were craving Chinese food and headed to a local restaurant called the Chinese Noodle Cafe. But this time, I remembered to grab a container from my kitchen as we headed out the door. When I was done eating my spicy Hunan vegetables and fried rice, I discreetly (and a little sheepishly) pulled out my own container and packed the remaining food in it. As luck would have it, the owner spotted me and instead of frowning or glaring at me as I half-expected, she surprised me by saying, "How nice that you got your own container; let me give you some more fried rice to take home", and proceeded to take my container away and fill it up with more food. How gracious of her. Now I feel bolder about taking my own containers to restaurants without feeling completely out of place.
Speaking of greener choices, nothing makes more sense than cutting down on food waste. Think about it. Not one of us would grab money from our wallets, tear it up and throw it in the garbage- that just sounds ridiculous. However, we (most of us, to some extent anyway) are quite happy to do it in an indirect way. We use our precious time to drive or walk to the store, spend hours shopping, spend the money, lug heavy bags to our kitchen, stock the food, wait weeks or months, then throw the food out. Well, this month is a challenge to use up some of the food that might be potentially wasted.
Inspired by this recipe for broccoli, asparagus and pea soup from Tara the Foodie, my soup contained the following:
- A partial bag of frozen peas (frozen peas are a pantry staple for me, and this one was left over from several batches of peas pulao, upma etc.)
- A partial bag of frozen asparagus spears (my downstairs neighbor moved, she was sighing and tossing it away and I offered to take it and use it)
- Frozen broccoli that I had divided and frozen in portions when I bought a large quantity one time, several months ago
- The last teaspoon of mushroom stock base at the bottom of the jar
- Some of the nutritional yeast that has been languishing in the fridge
- A hunk of stale bread
Here is my version of the soup:
Thick Chunky Very Green Soup
- Heat 1 tbsp. vegan Earth Balance butter substitute (or butter) and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot.
- Saute 1 medium onion, some celery and garlic until fragrant.
- Add 7-8 cups mixed vegetables- chopped broccoli, peas, chopped asparagus and saute for a minute.
- Add some milk, water, mushroom stock base, 2 slices stale bread (chopped) and simmer until vegetables are tender.
- Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and dried thyme. Add 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast for a cheesy umami flavor.
- Blend the soup.
Believe it or not, this "kitchen sink" soup was very tasty and nourishing. Because this recipe is inspired by another blogger, and because it uses up ingredients lurking in my kitchen, it goes to Blog Bites 4. Please join us if you wish and eat down your own kitchen clutter all this month.
On The BookshelfWhen a new movie is released, most people go to the movie theatre and watch it; not being a movie person, I go to the library and borrow the book that the movie was based on (and have you noticed that more and more movies are based on books these days?)- which is how I went to look for the novel Push by Sapphire that the award-winning movie Precious is based on. Several people had the same idea as me, so I only read the book last week. It is fair to say that it is the most brutal, harrowing book I have read in my life. I was utterly shocked and fearful as I read it and I am not easily shocked. It is a most difficult book to read, but completely worth reading.
I had a special interest in the next book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, because like almost everybody on this planet who has studied mammalian cell biology, I have worked with HeLa cells, which originated in the uterine tumor of Henrietta Lacks. Since I've grown thousands of petri dishes of these cells, and spent hours upon hours peering at them under the microscope, I had to read her story. And I am so glad I did.
This book is at the intersection of so many difficult themes- issues of class and race, the history of science, medical ethics, family politics- yet it flows effortlessly because the person who wrote it has mad journalistic skills and true compassion for the people she is writing about. Whether or not you have any interest or background in biology, it is a must read.
Come back in 2-3 days (if you dare) to read my first attempt at fiction! Have a wonderful week.