Sunday, August 20, 2017

Howl To Be Vegan Part II & III

Last weekend I went home solely for eating purposes: my dad's herb and salad garden is overpopulated and my mom needed my sister and I to eat.

She first prepared for us banh hoi with tofu and herbs. The Country Crock and onion dressing is to die for (literally because it's so unhealthy). I also had banh xeo with a chayote, jicama, and cabbage filling served with herbs and soy sauce. Other typical vegetarian fillings include mushrooms, tofu, or carrots. My favorite part has always been the actual crepe (misleading name because there are no eggs in a banh xeo).

In addition to these special meals, I also ate a very simple dish of fermented bean curd, cucumber, and rice. My mom mixed the bean curd with a little bit of sugar to dilute the strong fermented taste. It was actually my first time eating it, but I loved it: I was afraid of its pungency before. 

Fruit (blueberries, strawberries, nectarines, mangos, plums, and bananas) was also a must have. 

Along with leftovers, she sent home with us canh chua made with Chinese water spinach, basil, and bean sprouts. You can also make it with pineapple, tomatoes, and colocasia gigantea (the plant kingdom is so diverse, yet people are satisfied with only eating beef, chicken, or pork all their lives). The canh chua was super sour because she used fresh lime instead of a prepackaged canh chua seasoning, which includes seafood. I ate the canh chua with ramen, and it was so much better. The second dish she made for us to take home was stir fry chives, bean sprouts, and tofu. She also gave us bitter melon, cherry tomatoes, and more water spinach, herbs, and fruit. You can get familiar with the herbs here: 

Today, I simply cooked the water spinach with garlic and cut the bitter melon and cooked it with soy sauce. My mom actually made us the water spinach and stuffed the bitter melon with tofu for us our first week in Charlottesville. I used the box of cherry tomatoes (you'll actually need need two, but I just made use with what I had), basil, and mint in addition to a box of unused whole wheat penne my sister had to make a pasta dish I've made before. The recipe (Bow Ties with Tomatoes, Herbs, and Lemon) is from Good Housekeeping Favorite Recipes: Vegetarian Meals. I made it with lime instead of lemon this time because that's what my mom gave me and took out the olive oil for health reasons (we also didn't have olive oil). The oil definitely would have dispersed the salt better, but I think it tastes fine without it. 

My sister contributed by baking tofu ($2 at Kroger) with a Sweet Citrus Marinade from Thug Kitchen. We didn't have ginger, so she excluded it, and she used regular vegetable oil instead of olive oil. I used the tofu as a savory component for summer rolls. I used whole wheat rice paper, the herbs, and added julienne carrots for the crunchy component. I learned from experience that all delicious summer rolls need a savory, crunchy, and herby component. Top it all off with a good dipping sauce. My go-to is peanut and hoisin. I added the chili sauce from Thug Kitchen last time for a spicy kick.

I will be eating the dishes we cooked today all week, which is why now would be a good time to mention that what I cooked in my last blog post did not last me all week (more thoughts on meal prepping here: I did have to supplement with tofu sausages my sister bought and hot dog buns. I cut the sausage into quarters because it was too "meaty" and ate each quarter with a bun. I had two buns per meal garnished with fresh carrot sticks for a less heavy meal.

In conclusion, the moral of this post is be creative with the food available to you. I also saw this Tweet (see below) in a Buzzfeed post, and it really speaks to how my mom has always taken care of me with food. I didn't realize how much work she put in for us to have something new to eat every other day until I started cooking for myself. My parents also don't make that much money, yet, we've always had good food to eat, which goes to show you how much creativity really does help.

Asian parents always ask their children if they've eaten yet because that's how they show love. I've always been annoyed by this question because I thought it was a stupid one: of course I've eaten, but this Tweet really puts their love in a new perspective: nobody will ever love me as much as my mom. She's literally been feeding me my whole life. 

Oh, I almost forgot about dessert! My mom made this delicious silken tofu and ginger soup with coconut milk and sugar. I was lowkey cheating by eating frosted blueberry donuts she bought for my sister before she made this. Vegan desserts are usually really complicated to make because you have to make a lot of substitutions for cakes, etc., so it's really easy to cheat, but the tofu and ginger dish is really simple and easy to make. God bless Vietnamese cuisine for broadening my palette and reminding me that I can be a vegan and have my cake too (okay not literally, but I had to make this joke). I guess another moral of this story is to learn other cuisines because poor countries know how to not eat meat lol. 

Fruit for this week: blueberries, avocados (courtesy of my grandma), bananas, and $0.99/lb grapes from Kroger! My grandma is retired, and she is still able to feed me. Food banks seriously need to step their game up. I can't believe the junk (hello, sheet cakes) I saw delivered to homes on A Place At The Table.