cheap veggie gourmet

A blog detailing ways to enjoy a gourmet vegetarian diet on the cheap. Check out recipes, food stories, tips and techniques.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


I went out to lunch with two friends, Monte and Shannyn, today at an asian restaurant. This place is so damn good... I got a green curry, with jasmine rice, so very good.

The had a bunch of shakes on the drink menu, including durian. Neither had heard of it before, so I explained a little... it's large and spiny, and has a sort of... controversial taste and smell.

I've still never had fresh durian, but I had had it in icecream once. The first bite was very odd tasting. The second, more fruity. There was definitely a musky note; not unpleasant, but definitely not expected, either.

People either love it or hate it. It's just one of those things.

We hit Hoa Lan, one of my favorite Asian markets, afterwards. I bought sesame oil, some wasabe peas, basmati rice, fresh tofu, agar, other stuff. We checked out produce, and found a few fresh durian there. And, in the little icecream case, there were a bunch of different asian popcicles, including mung bean, red bean, jack fruit... and, durian.

Thinking that it'd be much like the icecream I tried, I talked Monte into buying a durian popcicle.

He was a little hesitant at first, saying that maybe today wasn't the day. I asked why, and he said, "Well, you said... it's just one of those things."

Always one to push for an andventure, I asked him why trying it today would be different from any other day.

Ceding to that logic, Monte went ahead and bought the durian popcicle.

Man, Monte... I am so sorry.

We got into the car, and he took an experimental lick. He screwed his face up, then gamely tried another.

Thinking that Monte just didn't like it, I asked for a taste. Foregoing the quick lick, I took a good-sized bite.

Good. God.

There are no words to describe the horror of that taste. I have never put something so foul in my mouth in my life. And I'm a girl with a pretty checkered past.

I couldn't eat it. I had to spit it out the window. Compelled to engage in the "try this, this is gross!" phenomenon of human behavior, Shannyn took a lick.

"Why would someone eat this?" she said. "It's this big thing, it's covered with spines... that shit is definitely telling you keep out."

"These must be the popcicles parents give to kids when they've been bad," Monte said.

Safe in the knowledge that we'd all found it inedible, I told Monte that I'd read that some people consider it similar to the taste of a woman's nether regions.

When we were able to stop laughing, Shannyn said, "if you taste like that, there's something seriously wrong with your health."

What does it really taste like? The closest any of us could come was that they taste like dirty diapers smell.


I may still someday eat durian. I mean, there's got to be something to it, if it inspires adoration like this.

But, no more popcicles for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Southern Fried

Finally back! I'm just about settled into the new house and really enjoying it here.

I went help cook for St. Pete's Food Not Bombs picnic Friday night. While I was there, I got to talking with a real foodie. He fed me the best biscuits and gravy I'd ever had, vegetarian or no. He was also kind enough to lend me the book the recipe came from, Heart of the Home by Ann Jackson. It's a book of vegetarian, dairy free southern meals.

I tried my first recipe from it last night, "Fried Chicken Tofu." I've made a few changes to her recipe, starting with the name, and moving onto some of the details, such as pressing the tofu before cooking, and frying in about a half inch of canola oil, rather than a light coating of olive oil. Mine is:

Chicken Fried Tofu

Slice a pound of firm tofu into four equal pieces. Press for about an hour to remove excess liquid. Heat cooking oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. I like my No. 10 Griswold for this. Dredge the tofu in a mixture of nutritional yeast and sesame seeds. Drop in the frying pan and sprinkle lightly with soy sauce. Fry for about 15 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

I served it with mashed potatoes and

my favorite cheap and easy coleslaw:

Shred a couple of cups of cabbage and a carrot or two. Sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of sugar. Add a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt and a little bit of cider vinegar. Grind black pepper over all and stir.

In the unlikely event of leftovers, I suggest:


Cut leftover tofu into strips, and place on a slice of rye. Grate sharp cheese over the top & toast a bit. Spoon on some coleslaw, and top with another slice of rye slathered with some good deli-style mustard.