Saturday, March 18, 2017

Black-Eyed Peas with Vegetables (No Added Fat); postscript about our experiences dining in Vancouver and Vancouver Island (and Seattle)

We just returned from a lovely trip to British Columbia. We loved visiting places like Victoria and Vancouver. We spent the first and last nights of our vacation in Seattle and, last night, had a particularly memorable dinner at what I was told may be the best vegan restaurant in town, Harvest Beat. I'll include, as a postscript, some notes on vegan dining that we found on our trip.

I got to making dinner almost immediately after returning from the airport. I found a few vegetables (fennel, carrot, bok choy, as well as longer-lasting onion and garlic) in the refrigerator, as well as, alas, some kale that was no longer good enough to use. I had frozen black-eyed peas but, unfortunately, no frozen greens. But I had enough to put together a tasty and healthful meal.


Ingredients
  • 1 cup onion cut into thin (maybe 3/8" x 1 1/4") sticks (about 1/3 of a medium onion)
  • 1 clove garlic finely (1/8") diced
  • 3T fennel bulb cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups carrot cut into 3/8" lengths (I used two small-medium carrots)
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted bell pepper cut into strips approx. 1/2" x 1 1/2"
  • 2 cups prepared (freshly cooked or frozen) black-eyed peas
  • 1 medium bok choy cut into approx. 1/2" squares (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1T fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
Process
  1. I put, in this order, the onion, garlic, fennel, carrot, bell pepper, and black-eyed peas into a large Saladmaster stock pan.
  2. I cooked waterlessly - i.e., I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  3. I then mixed in the bok choy, spices, salt, and lemon juice, and served with brown rice (which I cooked simmered 45-50m stovetop with twice as much water as rice, as well as a pinch of salt and a no added salt vegan bouillon cube) and salad.
Results

My family enjoyed the meal. I liked it, but thought that it could have been more pronounced in flavor.

Ideas for the future

Greens would have been good in this dish. I could have used more garlic or even roasted garlic. Perhaps lemon pepper would have been good.



Postscript: Our Vegan Experiences in British Columbia (and, briefly, Seattle)

It was easy to find good vegan food on our trip. Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver have many vegan restaurants! We took the Clipper Ferry from Seattle to Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island is a huge almost 300-mile-long island on the westernmost part of Canada and dipping to the country's southernmost point. The big city of Vancouver is also part of coastal British Columbia, and separated by an hour and a half or so ferry from Vancouver Island.

  • We spent the first few days of our trip in Victoria. It's a beautiful and small town of under 100,000 people. It has a number of all-vegan restaurants and is fairly vegetarian and vegan friendly. There is a Whole Foods Market that opened just a few months ago in November 2016; we didn't have time to see if there are food coops or what their other grocery stores are like.
    • Green Cuisine Vegetarian Restaurant was our first dinner stop on Victoria. It's an all-vegan buffet with many choices of good food. We loved the environment, good food, and reasonable prices.
    • We had lunch with some local vegans at a new "vegan butcher" shop that opened less than a month ago, The Very Good Butchers. The food, featuring burgers, macaroni and "cheese", and other items, was all organic and vegan, and was good and filling.
    • We had a dinner at Be Love, an almost all-vegan restaurant with an inviting meditative ambiance and tasty food. I had a simple bowl of sides, reminding me of what I might serve at home - I think I had tempeh, greens, and brown rice. I missed the opportunity to try their veganized (with cashew "cheese") Canadian specialty of poutine, traditionally French fries and cheese with gravy.
    • I had also heard about quite a few other good restaurants, such as Bliss, Lotus Pond (vegan Buddhist with mock meats), and Rawthentic, and Jusu juice bar.  Vegan Hippie Chick Cafe is a new organic and vegan restaurant that is supposed to soon open. There is a branch of Power House Living Foods here; we enjoyed eating at Power House in Nanaimo, north of Victoria.
    • We stumbled on a great find, Pure Lovin' Chocolate. Operated by a mother and daughter team, it's an organic, fair-trade, vegan, soy- and gluten- free handcrafted chocolate boutique.
  • We then spent a few days about an hour and a half north at another town of under 100,000, Nanaimo. I believe it is the major port for bringing in materials to the island, and is a major ferry port for the mainland (we traveled the 1 1/2 hour ferry to Vancouver). It has a culinary claim to fame for the Nanaimo Bar; I bet that a vegan version is available, perhaps at Power House Living Foods, and wish that I had looked.
    • We loved having lunch at raw, vegan, organic Power House Living Foods. Their serving sizes (even their half portions) were large and the presentation was gorgeous, rivaling or possibly exceeding our own very nice local Living Kitchen.
    • Unfortunately, we didn't find the town otherwise very appealing from a food perspective. There was a wide variety of restaurants and, no doubt, most could probably serve a reasonable vegan meal. We did find a pizzeria we liked, Mambo Pizza. Rather nondescript and small with seating for maybe a dozen, it appears to be mainly a take-out restaurant. I find pizzerias that use good ingredients and have good dough often make satisfying pizzas without cheese. That was the case here; the crust was particularly good and reasonably crispy, the sauce was good, and the ingredients fresh. They are accommodating of vegans and offer gluten-free pizzas, as well - they offer, at no extra charge, vegan Daiya brand "cheese".
  • My wife found at Whole Foods, both in Victoria and later in Vancouver, a fabulous fig and anise bread from a company called Terra Breads. The sourdough was a great matrix for the fig and just strong enough anise; I sure wish that this were available in North Carolina. The bread had great flavor and needed no topping - it was great at room temperature or lightly toasted. The Victoria Whole Foods had choices of how thick to have the loaves sliced; I enjoyed a 5/8" thicker slice.
  • I hope soon to add more information about the many vegan choices in Vancouver and our final dinner on the trip, a unique five-course vegan meal in Seattle.

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