Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vegan Is Easy iPhone App

I admit that I'm fond of an ice cold beer in the summer. And though I'm not as fond of beer in the winter, I've never let that stand in my way. Some vegans and vegetarians, however, might be unaware that animal and animal by products such as Isinglass are used during beer and wine production. Here is a handy iPhone app from Matthew Feinberg that can tell you which ones might be vegan or vegetarian friendly. It does a search through the Barnivore Vegan Alcohol Directory. Very handy. Barnivore welcomes contributions from the vegan community as well. So, if you've done some checking on one of your favorite drinks, you can provide them with what you found. Drink up and enjoy!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Black Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of my all time favorites. The preparation tends to be a little messy and time-consuming, but if you can hang in there this an easy and elegant dish. You can soak dried beans over night, but I tend to use the canned variety.


2 cups black beans
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

6 tortillas
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup of onion

For the beans:
Drain the (canned or soaked) beans and place in a medium sauce pan. Cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the spices. Simmer the beans for about an hour, adding more water if necessary. You want the beans to be soft and a little soupy, so make sure you don't burn them. Once the beans are cooked, drain off about half of the water and mash them with a potato masher.

Heat one or two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Add the beans and fry, stirring whenever a crust forms. Taste every so often and adjust the seasonings. The beans should get nice and crusty but not dry. Add a little liquid if it looks like they're drying out. They should be nicely fried and aromatic after about 15 minutes. Set aside.

For the tortillas:
In another skillet heat a teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt, cumin and chili powder. Add the tomato sauce. Once it's warm and bubbly. Take the tortillas and heat them them through once on each side. Don't cook them too long or they'll fall apart. You just want them to be soft and pliable. Set them aside on paper towels. Add more cumin and/or sauce as necessary until all the tortillas are done.

For the enchiladas:
Spread a large spoonful of the black beans over each tortilla. Sprinkle with a thin layer of minced onion. Finally add the cheddar cheese. Roll up and place in an oiled baking dish.

When all the tortillas are filled pour the remaining beans, onion or cheeses over the top. I actually used some leftover Havarti in the picture above. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, garnish with cilantro and serve.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Marco Polo Didn't Go There

I picked up Rolf Potts' award winning collection of travel essays, Marco Polo Didn't Go There after reading an article by him in Afar magazine. Written over the course of the past decade for a variety of travel magazines, each carefully constructed story creates it's own little world and moment in time. Rolf's writing is humorous, wistful, thought provoking and informative. He comes across like a really smart and cool friend you hear from every so often who is off in places you wouldn't dream of going, and doing things you wouldn't do if someone paid you. Most of the stories take place in southeast Asia and the Middle East, which are very popular in vagabonding and backpacker circles. The 'characters' he meets reflect that mixture of past/present everywhereness we've become accustomed to in the Information Age where you might be a subsistence farmer with a cell phone or a rapper living in a rainforest. I liked his 'backpacker' perspective, as I'm not one, and enjoyed the artistic eye and literary sensibility he brought to his writing. Each story concludes with 'Endnotes' explaining what Rolf left in or took out and why: a sort of 'Behind the Music' for each story, which seemed oddly appropriate for the 21st century.