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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Name Game


When I was first in Israel about 23 years ago, I was living in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) with my aunt and I would look in the English language newspapers and see the word vegan (at the time I was ovo-lacto vegetarian). I used to get all excite until I realized these were apartment listings for Bayit Vegan (a section of Yerushalayim that literally means House and Garden).

I have been thinking about adding a blog about cooking and veganism, but I needed to come up with a name for it. I remembered that and was going to call it Bayit Vegan but I was worried people would think it was about stuff to do with the place Bayit Vegan. So I decided on Bayit and Garden even though "and Garden" isn't the same as vegan (as in one who eats no animal products).

So, I'll quickly tell you about my food odyssey -- I'll try to go into more detail as the blog progresses...

I grew up in a family that keeps Kosher, so my diet was already limited in the minds of some (when my best friend started keeping kosher, she told her class about it and they marveled at her self-control and wondered what she ate -- so she said to them , "if you think what I'm doing is bad, let me tell you about my friend [meaning me]!". When I was in my late teens, I read about high fiber and started eating higher fiber foods. A couple years later, I went veg, starting as an ovo-lacto vegetarian (meaning I ate eggs and dairy but not meat, poultry or fish).

A few years ago, my diabetes symptoms (which started when before I became vegetarian -- they went into "hiding" so to speak for about 25 years) reared their ugly head again and I had to cut out fruits, sugar, white flour and all processed carbohydrates. I also cut out all trans fats. This further limited my choices.

Recently, in an effort to lower my fasting blood sugar, I cut all grains (including rice and corn) from my diet. Basically, what I've been left with is beans, vegetables and tree nuts (I cut out peanuts also).

So, I have had to be very creative in my cooking.....

Lately, I've gotten into creating soups. They are never the same. You see, I don't generally use recipes. I may try a recipe (because of my limitations I rarely, if ever, follow it totally) but mostly I create.

To create a good soup, you need bean/nuts/lentils, spices and condiments and lots of vegetables (root vegetables are good, but also garlic, onions, summer squash, eggplant, peppers -- bell or hot, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, etc.). What I do is take some dried garbanzo beans (and/or sometimes black beans), almonds, lentils (I like black lentils), and sometimes wild rice (I can eat wild rice but not brown rice). I put them all in a pot with water and boil the water -- then turn it off, cover the pot and let it soak for an hour. I then saute some veggies in olive oil (onions, garlic, grated ginger, mushrooms (I like shiitake) scallions, peppers, diced zucchini, etc.) and add them (and spices -- my favorites are curry, paprika, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and I also like to add spicy brown mustard) to the beans etc. (after draining out the soaking water and adding new water). The trick is to put in ingredients that you like so that no matter what happens, you will like the soup.

There are times when I want a heavy filling soup and on those occasions I add more of the beans and wild rice and almonds. When I want a lighter soup, I add more vegetables and less of the beans, etc.

I also used to make puree soups -- these are good hot or cold. These work well when you have a lot of brightly colored vegetables, like sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale, broccoli, watercress, etc. What you do is make the soup from vegetables only (or with a small quantity of nuts) and spices, then when it's cooked through, puree the soup in batches until you have the consistency you want (whether that's all puree or part puree and part chopped veggies).

I also like to make something I call "green stuff". I use it as a spread on bread or rolls (made with sprouted grain). I saute up kale and spinach, shiitake mushrooms (I use frozen mushrooms and spinach) and any other green (like basil, cilantro, watercress, etc -- choose your own favorite) and other veggies (like peppers or a bit of squash -- choose your favorites here too). When everything is cooked through (greens should be wilted and other veggies cooked), I puree the whole business with a handful of walnuts, some curry powder, a squirt or two of brown mustard and 2 tablespoons flax seed oil (to add some omega-3s since you can't saute in flax oil I saute in olive or canola oil). I put this in a container in the refrigerator. It stays well and tastes great (in my not-so-humble opinion). Oh, BTW, if you're a saltoholic like my Mom (I hate salt) add salt.

Check out my squidoo lenses (articles):

Strong Biblical Women
Strong Biblical Women 2
Why Be Vegetarian
Vegetarianism: Getting Started 1
Vegetarianism: Getting Started 2
Rosh Hashana
Quick Vegan Cooking
Creating new recipes from old
Strong Biblical Women Part 3
About the Jewish Calendar
Witches and Morality
Presidential Trivia Quiz
Christmas and the Jewish Single
Math Hints 1 -- Adding Fractions
Presidents1: George Washington
Passover: Holiday of Freedom
Ruth and Naomi
John and John Quincy Adams
Television Trivia Quiz
Tamar -- Mother of Kings
Jewish Perspective of G-d

Check out my other blogs:

Jewish Sandwich
Jewish Singles
Strong Jewish Women
Everything Goes

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