June 28, 2009

Lorna Sass' "Short-Cut Vegan: Great Taste in No Time" cookbook review


Quinoa-corn Salad With Basil


When Lorna Sass offered to send me a cookbook to review, I was delighted, because I've always been a fan of her work. When she started publishing her cookbooks, "vegan" was still considered an fairly odd cooking style, so all the book titles used the word "vegetarian." When I first discovered "Lorna Sass' Complete Vegetarian Kitchen" was totally vegan, I snapped up a copy, and it's become a tried and true reference at our house. We've learned through experience that her recipes always work. This has been especially helpful to my husband, as he learns to cook. He's not an intuitive cook (he describes himself as a developing cook), but he can follow a recipe, so when recipes are good, his cooking is good. I like that! We actually own four of Lorna Sass' books.


Asian slaw


The book she sent me is a revised version of "Short-cut Vegetarian," now more appropriately titled "Short-cut Vegan: Great Taste in No Time." This is really more than just a collection of quick recipes, it's a guide to setting up your kitchen with the supplies you need to create fast, healthy and delicious vegan meals. She gives detailed information on how to efficiently stock the pantry — shelves, freezer and refrigerator — with basic essentials. There is also helpful information on kitchen tools, food storage and food prep. She gives recipes for preparing flavor-enhancing condiments to have on hand, but also recommends store-bought equivalents if you prefer to take the easiest route. The recipes are an assortment of inviting combinations such as "Orange-Scented Lentil Ragout, "Cabbage and Potatoes in Mustard Sauce," "Pasta With Broccoli Rabe and Olives,"and "Pineapple-Ginger Ice." Each recipe is accompanied by personal commentary that expands and enriches it.


Moroccan carrot slaw


Because it's been so horribly hot here in the Midwest, we decided to try a few recipes that needed as little cooking as possible. All were colorful, delicious, healthy and easy to prepare. We sampled "Asian Slaw," "Quinoa-Corn Salad With Basil," "Moroccan Carrot Slaw" and "White Bean Gazpacho." Three of them are pictured in this review.

The book does not contain food photographs, so you will have to use your imagination as to what the final dish looks like, but if you are looking for a collection of tasty and interesting vegan dishes that can be prepared in short order, you might consider "Short-Cut Vegan" by Lorna Sass.

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

June 24, 2009

Nasoya Silken Style Creations / banana cream pie / FTC targets blogger freebies

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Several years ago I came across a recipe for vegan banana cream pie and was so excited I couldn't wait to try it. I didn't make a single change to the recipe - just followed the directions exactly. That pie was gorgeous, and it was with great anticipation that we waited until dessert to try it. Let me tell you, you could have bounced a ball off that pie. Couldn't crush it with a sledgehammer. Couldn't dent it with a crowbar. Couldn't eat it with a fork. That pie could have stopped a speeding bullet faster than Superman. And it didn't taste good, either. We stared at the pie in horror and disappointment for a brief moment, then collapsed in hysterical laughter. We laughed about it for days, and even now someone might occasionally say, "remember the banana cream pie?" Have you cooked something that brings back memories like this?

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

So, it was with some trepidation that I decided to try again. The Nasoya company sent me coupons for free samples of three different varieties of Nasoya Silken Style Creations, a new dairy-free, lactose-free, low-fat, gluten-free pudding-like soy product that can be used as a base for creamy desserts. I meant to use the vanilla for a banana cream pie but Whole Foods was out of vanilla, so I made a chocolate banana cream pie instead. I couldn't find a recipe for banana cream pie on the Nasoya Website, so I followed their directions for similar pies and hoped for the best. The filling right from the container has a taste and texture similar to very sweet chocolate pudding, and you could layer it as is with fruit and ice cream for an easy parfait dessert. It was a little too sweet for me, but I imagine a "normal" person would find it quite delicious. And it tastes like "real" chocolate pudding. I doubt that anyone would think it was vegan.

Fill the raw crust with sliced bananas  ©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

I made the pie with a pressed pastry crust, substituting agave syrup for the Sucanot and whole wheat pastry flour for the white whole wheat, but you could use a prepared crust or whatever crust you like to make. Oddly enough, once the pie was baked, it no longer tasted too sweet - it was really creamy and good. And it was unbelievably easy to prepare. The pie tasted richly of fresh banana with the chocolate taking a complimentary role. I definitely want to try this again with vanilla so I can compare the two. (fyi: I served it as a "birthday pie" for my husband's birthday and that's why it has a candle!)

Just out of the oven - still molten and bubbly  ©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

All right then. I present you with a chocolate banana cream pie. But first I have to insert a little disclaimer.
The June 22 edition of our local morning paper had a front page headline blaring, "Bloggers' Freebies are Under Scrutiny." Subhead: "The Federal Trade Commission is expected to issue guidelines for online consumer reviews, which can be tainted by perks." Gasp. The article goes on to describe how bloggers accept "free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post." Then it describes how a blogger from New Hartford, N.Y. who earns up to $800 per month as well as assorted gifts from her five blogs, now worries that even an innocent review of a product she purchased herself could bring an inquiry if the FTC gets involved in bloggers' lives. Does this free product thing sound familiar? I have to admit I didn't realize some bloggers were cashing in to this extent.

Anyway, in anticipation of the proposed FTC scrutiny for every little review we bloggers do, I just want to come clean and say that although Nasoya gave me thousands of dollars, a free laptop, a free trip to Hawaii, a Vitamix and a new car, in addition to three coupons for their product, my review is totally honest and above board. I'm stating only what I truly believe to be truly true. And that's the truth.

Birthday pie!  ©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Chocolate banana cream pie
  • Crust for an 8- or 9-inch pie
  • 4 bananas, sliced (You may need more or less to fill the crust, depending on the size of the bananas.)
  • 1 package of Nasoya Silken Creations chocolate flavor
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot (or cornstarch)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 banana for decorating (optional)
  • lemon juice (if using banana for decorating)
  1. Place the arrowroot in a bowl and add the water. Mix thoroughly until arrowroot is completely dissolved.
  2. Add the Silken Creations to the bowl and mix until completely combined.
  3. Slice the bananas and place in the crust.
  4. Pour the Chocolate mixture over the bananas, covering them completely.
  5. Bake in a preheated 325˚ oven for 45 minutes.
  6. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until completely cold.
  7. If desired, slice a banana just before serving, and toss with some lemon juice so it won't turn brown. Arrange the banana slices on the top of the pie.
Silken Creations Dark Chocolate ingredients: soymilk, dried cane juice, cocoa, rice starch, natural flavors, salt.
1/2 cup has 120 calories, 1.5g fat, 18g sugar, 1g fiber, 3g protein, 45mg salt.
The package contains approximately 5 servings. I used one container plus five bananas in the pie filling. The pie contains 6 to 8 servings, depending on the size of a serving.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

June 21, 2009

Cajun mac and cheese / splogging


Yesterday was our youngest son's birthday and we took him out to dinner to celebrate. On the way home we passed the fire station near our house and all the firefighters were sitting outside, as they often do on summer evenings, and one of them was playing the cello for his lucky co-workers! Playing the cello. Do all fire fighters enjoy this sort  thing on a summer night or is Madison special? Special. I thought so.

Fire stations, firefighters, fire, heat, spicy foods - you see the connection, right? While we don't want to burst into actual flames, we do want a little fiery food to perk up the summer. At least I do. Spicy food makes you sweat, which in theory, anyway, cools you off. In my last post I mentioned eating Cajun mac and cheese at Hillside Quickies in Seattle and said I was going to try to duplicate the flavor. That mac and cheese was HOT and delicious. My version is also hot and delicious, but not as delicious as I wanted. In fact, I wondered if I should even post a recipe since I didn't think it was as great as the restaurant version. But now I can't remember exactly what the restaurant stuff tasted like, and this tasted so good that I've decided to just go ahead and post it. (And my husband said it was at least as good, maybe better.) Remember that it's really spicy and adjust accordingly.


Cajun mac and cheese
  • 1 pound macaroni (I used Whole Foods whole wheat)
  • water for cooking
  • 1 large sweet red or yellow pepper, chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup yeast flakes
  • 3 level tablespoons chick pea flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water left from cooking macaroni
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 rounded teaspoon each: cayenne, crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, granulated garlic, oregano
  • 2 rounded teaspoons each: paprika, granulated onion
  1. Cook the macaroni al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving two cups of cooking water.
  2. Place the drained noodles in a bowl and toss with two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped sweet red pepper to the noodles and mix together.
  3. Mix together the cayenne, crushed red pepper, black pepper, garlic, oregano, onion, paprika and oregano. Add to the noodles and mix.
  4. In a blender, grind the cashews to a powder. Add the yeast, chick pea flour and salt, and blend together. Add the water and lemon juice and blend until creamy.
  5. Add the blender mix to the noodles and mix well.
  6. Place mixture in a large, oiled casserole dish (approx. 10 x 13 x 2). Mix together 3 tablespoons fine dry crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, and sprinkle over the top of casserole. Spray lightly with oil.
  7. Bake, covered, in a preheated 350˚ oven for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more to brown. Let sit for several minutes before serving.
BTW, this tasted amazing cold the next day.

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Splogging?
Recently a number of bloggers, including me, had their blog content posted without permission or acknowledgement on duckducksoup.com. I found out about it because an alert blogger spotted Eat'n Veg'n posts on the site, and left Diann a message. I did some Internet checking and found that this sort of thing is fairly common and is done to attract hits to a site filled with ads in order to generate income. (google "splog" "splogging" "splogger") Following fellow-blogger Alisa's advice, I contacted the blog's owner and asked that the stolen posts be removed. She quickly complied. This sort of theft can have negative effects, which I won't go into here, on legitimate bloggers. I'm very happy to share my posts as long as it's clear that they are mine and there's a link back to my blog. The duckducksoup blog still exits with different content about how to get around various restrictions for posting ads and what to do about getting "flagged" etc. Interesting.


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Click here to enter for a chance to win a copy of "Sweet Freedom," Ricki's great cookbook.
© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking

June 17, 2009

Kale, Hillside Quickie's Café, Seattle



Just got back from a quick four day visit to Seattle to see the house we will be living in next year. (Our kids had seen it but not us.) The whole way there and back the airline upgraded us to first class, and if I could always travel like this, I'd travel a lot more! There's a normal amount of space, so I didn't feel like I was pinned inside a high school locker, and they kept bringing things to eat and drink. It was great. But here's the catch to the "things to eat" part. We were flying on Northwest-Delta and were told we couldn't request special food on a domestic flight. So, we were offered a grilled chicken sandwich (an ENORMOUS grilled chicken sandwich) or a salad covered in ham and cheese. We got the fruit and the bread sticks that came with the salad — mealy apple wedges, good red grapes and a pineapple slice. We know enough to carry food, so on the way there we got Spa Salads from The French Meadow Bakery in the Minnesota airport, and on the way home we got sushi in Seattle's airport.

It was probably a good thing that we ate lightly on the way home anyway, because we ran into some turbulence that reminded me of the Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios, but without the fun part. For about an hour I had to close my eyes and sleep (after checking to be sure I had a barf-bag available). When I reopened my eyes, there was a horrible crash, and a spear of intense light shot in front of me, as the plane got hit by lightening. Exciting.

Are you wondering about the food in Seattle? The first evening, after traveling all day, we went to a potluck barbecue with our kids. There was plenty of good stuff for the vegan minority including bean salad, kale-wild rice salad and vegan brats. My daughter-in-law made the kale salad and it was really good. The next day after visiting the farmers market in Capitol Hill we had a late lunch at Hillside Quickie's Café in Capitol Hill, with our other son and his gf. They were serving Sunday brunch, all day. The table was sticky and the prices seemed high but they really give you a lot to eat. I knew I couldn't eat a whole meal, so my husband and I shared a plate, and it was plenty for two.


We had a plate containing Cajun mac and cheese, biscuits with berries, grits and gravy, chicken-fried steak and seitan. At least that's what I think we had! I've never had mac and cheese that tasted this good. It was spicy and fabulous — and I don't even like mac and cheese. This is something I'll try to recreate and post a recipe when I get it right. The biscuits were fluffy, the grits creamy — everything tasted great.


Our son and his gf had some kind of chipotlé yam-stuffed tortillas and fried okra. I think we liked our food more than they liked theirs but it was all pretty good.


The person at the table next to ours had a stack of waffles and seitan that looked so amazing, she let me take a picture. The person at the table next to her had a startlingly high stack of fluffy-looking pancakes and I took a picture of that, too, though without his permission and after he knocked the stack over. (You can see it at the top of the post. The orange drink is a mimosa ordered by the person at the table next to us.)


That afternoon and evening we attended another potluck barbecue at our son and daughter-in-law's house. As you can imagine, I wasn't too hungry, but still managed to eat some grilled potato, grilled tofu, grilled veggies and more kale salad. The recipe for the salad will be coming as soon as I have a chance to make it myself.


Monday afternoon I found myself alone with a sleeping baby and craving some simple, green food for lunch. I went into the garden and picked some tender, young Red Russian kale, swiss chard and lettuce. I cut them into small pieces, tossed them with a little olive oil and vinegar and topped them off with some leftover grilled veggies. This made a perfect, simple salad lunch.


On our last morning in Seattle, our d-i-l made us a yummy banana bread for breakfast.


The little munchkin of the house (my granddaughter) is an enthusiastic eater, and although she'd already had breakfast, she saw us eating, took a box of cereal from a cupboard she can reach and had a little snack.


http://cookeasyvegan.blogspot.com/2009/06/kale-hillside-quickies-cafe-seattle.html

June 11, 2009

What we've been eating...

Walnut-mushroom loaf with mustard greens and sweet potato friesAndrea's easy vegan cooking

Another week of dirt under the nails. At this time of year I become more obsessed with what to plant than what to eat. Quite a few times in recent posts I've described the mutant invasives that have in the past covered our house in vines, and our battles against them. The vines looked nice but were so aggressive I was afraid that one day I would wake up and have to hack my way out of the house. :) They peeled off the paint and shredded the window screens.

Tofu scramble from "Vegan Brunch" made by my sonAndrea's easy vegan cooking


In order to remove them, we also had to remove all the plants that were tangled with their roots, so we were left with a lot of bare ground around the perimeter of the house. The strips along both sides of the house are now more or less planted, and the area behind the house is more than half completed. My back hurts and I'm tired. Most of the plants came from my terrace gardens that are about to be bulldozed by the city so they can replace the sewer pipes. There's a bulldozer thingy parked on the terrace, and pipes scattered about. If they don't wreck the gardens, I'm not sure what I'll do, since I plundered them freely to harvest plants for other spaces, and they now look pretty bad. Oh well. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Samosa mashed potato pancakes from "Vegan Brunch"Andrea's easy vegan cooking


Cooking is still happening, and I will describe some of the foods we tried from "Vegan Brunch," and other stuff we've eaten lately. Tonight, with my husband in Chicago, my son at work and the dog not in the mood to cook, I took the leftover aloo gobi and rice from last night and added tamarind paste and red pepper flakes. The tamarind turned it a brownish color that didn't look especially photogenic, so I just ate it without taking a picture. It was ok but I probably won't do that again. The curry pictured below is from earlier in the week.

Both "Vegan Brunch" dishes were made by my son. He added tomato and zucchini to the basic scramble, but I believe he made the samosa cakes by the book. He can really eat a lot, but this recipe is meant to serve many people at a brunch, and although I told him to cut it at least in half, he made the whole thing. Let me tell you, it makes a lot! He had some difficulty with the mixture being too soft, even though he added extra flour. If anything, it seemed even softer and harder to fry the next day. But it sure tasted good.

Random potato and pea curryAndrea's easy vegan cooking


The loaf pictured at the top of the page was made with quinoa as suggested by Happy Herbivore in her post about "hippi loaf." It tasted really good but I like my loaves a little firmer so will probably go back to using rice or breadcrumbs. The next day we formed the leftovers into burgers, fried them in a little oil and put them on buns with lettuce and tomato.

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Here are a couple of shots from our veggie garden. First is the Thai basil looking all cozy in its mulch nest.

Andrea's easy vegan cooking

And here is a cherry tomato called "Tumbling Tom." It's supposed to be ready 45 days after setting out the plant! I have visions of it climbing up its trellis and cascading over the sides of the pot. We'll see. So far it doesn't seem to be doing much. Has anyone planted this tomato?

Andrea's easy vegan cooking

Note: Just googled this plant and the person I got it from must have been confused because all the information I found says it matures in 65–70 days. Darn.

June 07, 2009

I Scream Ice Cream: mango-banana-ginger-chocolate chips

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

I've been seeing lots of ice cream posts lately, so naturally, I wanted ice cream, too. The post that finally sent me over the edge was this one at eat'n veg'n. After I saw it all I could think about (other than gardening) was making ice cream. It's also been at the back of my mind that Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream is releasing an ice cream cookbook ("Vegan Scoop") in June and is going to do a virtual book tour on lots of blogs. The blog you are reading right now will be hosting Wheeler's virtual tour on July 7, and they've sent me an exclusive recipe to try out and share. But this isn't the recipe. I thought I'd wait until closer to the date of the tour before I posted that recipe. You're probably wondering how a virtual book tour works, and so am I. Guess we'll find out together.

The ice cream I saw on Diann's blog was made with cashews and fruit, and although I've made cashew ice cream before, I've never done it quite this way. She made hers with peaches and strawberries but mine is made with banana and mango. I used frozen mango so I could eliminate the "chill in the refrigerator for several hours" part because I am impatient that way. And I happened to have a bag of frozen mango from Trader Joe's that I've been adding to smoothies. And I wouldn't have to touch the mango skin.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

I used to love mangoes, especially the champagne mangoes I used to find three for $2 at Whole Foods. They were fabulous, and I ate them whenever I could. Then one day I must have gotten a little too enthusiastic and was kind of gnawing the inside of the mango skin to get every last drop of fruit. The next thing I knew my lips and the whole area around my mouth were red and swollen and covered in nasty, itchy, burning bumps and welts. I was horrified because for one thing it was ghastly looking and extremely painful, and for another, I did not want to be allergic to mangoes! I didn't eat mangoes for about two years.

My friend Lorraine said I was likely just allergic to the mango skin, but that I could probably still eat the fruit if I didn't touch the skin. She wears rubber gloves to peel the fruit and never touches the mango skin with her bare skin or she gets that horrible rash. I was too afraid to try until recently, when I was missing mangoes so much I bought the bag of frozen fruit. I added a few pieces to a smoothie and told my family that if I stopped breathing they should call 911. So far so good. I've consumed almost the entire bag without incident. However, from what I've learned about mango allergy, you can be allergic just to the skin, or to the whole fruit. So if this has happened to you, make sure you have access to medical help before you experiment with eating the fruit! Allergic reactions can be fatal.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup rice milk (or other non-dairy milk like coconut or soy)
  • 1 banana (at least 1 cup of slices)
  • 2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • 2 large strawberries
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional but highly recommended because the bitter chocolate contrasts beautifully with the sweet mango flavor)
  1. In a blender, grind the cashews to a powder. Scrape down the sides to make sure all is ground.
  2. Add the rice milk and blend on high speed until very creamy. Check to make sure all graininess is gone.
  3. Add banana, agave and ginger, and blend.
  4. Add mango and strawberries and blend until mango is puréed.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream freezer. When almost frozen, add the chocolate chips, if using.
This was the creamiest and best ice cream I've ever made. It was fabulous. In fact, it was better than any of the commercial non-dairy ice creams we've bought. For my taste, it was a little too sweet (my husband didn't think so) and I'll reduce the sweetener next time. I used 1 teaspoon of gingerroot and will probably use 2 next time because I love ginger.

Read more about ice cream makers here. There's also a recipe for chocolate ice cream.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

June 04, 2009

Rhubarb-banana tart

 

It's time for the annual "rhubarb ritual." This refers to the moment I realize there are still bags of rhubarb in the freezer that need to be used up. But then I think, "why would I want to use old, frozen rhubarb when there's new fresh rhubarb growing in the yard. Sigh. Another year's crop of carefully washed, cut and individually frozen on baking sheets before being packed into freezer bags for the winter rhubarb is destined for the compost. Why don't I use it? Why do I freeze it? Why do we eat rhubarb only once a year? (Twice if there are leftovers!) And what will this year's ritual rhubarb dish be?

Truthfully, I love rhubarb cobbler and I never get tired of it - how could I when I only make it once a year? But this year I wanted something a little different, so I decided to try combining the nicely tart rhubarb with very sweet bananas and raisins, just to see what would happen. I also wanted to use the very cool tart pan I was so excited to find at a garage sale a couple of years ago but have probably only used twice. It seemed appropriate to combine the once-a-year ingredient with the once-a-year pan.



Well, the rhubarb plant got a workout this year because I wasn't 100% satisfied with the first tart, and decided to try again. It's not that we didn't like it - we ate the whole thing - but it wasn't quite right. The crust was too hard and there wasn't enough banana. Looks like we'll be eating rhubarb more than once this year! I do want to warn you that I like things tart, and this tart is tart is tart is TART.




Rhubarb-banana tart (11" tart pan)
  • 4-5 heaping cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 level tablespoons coconut flour (this is for thickening the rhubarb juices. Coconut flour is very absorbent so measure carefully. You don't want to soak up all the juice.)
  • 1/2 cup sucanot (more if you like it sweeter) or other sweetener (I almost used agave syrup or maple syrup)
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, dried coconut (optional)
Pressed pastry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, raw or toasted
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sucanot
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water
  1. Pulse the oats and walnuts in a food processor until they look like cornmeal.
  2. Add the flour, salt and sugar, and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  3. Add the oil and pulse to incorporate. (I'm talking quick buzz buzz.)
  4. Add 4 tablespoons of water and pulse a few times. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is still crumbly but sticks together when you press it with a finger.
  5. Lightly spray the pan with oil and, with floured hands, start pressing the crust into the bottom of the pan. You want a thin but not too thin, even crust. When the pan bottom is covered, nudge the remaining mixture onto the sides with the backs of your fingers. At this point I start to worry that there won't be enough, but there always is! When the crust is complete, place the pan into the fridge (or freezer if you have space).
  6. Toss the rhubarb with the coconut flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  7. Mash the bananas. If you mush them up a bit with your fingers while still in the skin, they will mash right up when the skin is removed. Mix the bananas and raisins into the rhubarb, taking care to incorporate completely. Arrange the filling in the crust.
  8. Bake in a preheated 450˚F oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350˚F and remove the pan from the oven so you can sprinkle the top with coconut. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20 minutes or until rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape.
  9. Cool. Eat. I like my tart chilled.
The unbaked pie going into the oven

Okay, so you're probably wondering if making this tart was a lot of time-consuming trouble. If you do it like I did, the answer would have to be "yes, about four days worth." First I went to get the tart pan but it wasn't in the drawer under the oven, where I've always kept it. In fact, it was nowhere to be found, and no one in the house had a clue what could have happened to it. (The usual.) I searched everywhere with no luck. I finally decided that I really do need this pan and walked to the local kitchen store (Orange Tree Imports on Monroe St.) and found the exact pan on sale for only $12.99. Cool. The problem was it came in two sizes (9" and 11") and being a Libra, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to decide which size to get. By the time I finally had a pan, it was late and I didn't want to make the tart anymore so it was put off until the next day.

The next day I started gathering my equipment and ingredients and discovered my 1/2 cup measuring cup was missing from the baking cupboard. Are there gremlins living in the house? What is going on? I did a thorough search of the pull-out trays in the cupboard, and in the process knocked over the dog's full water dish, which is on the floor near the cupboard. I could go on and on about how I couldn't sprinkle coconut over the tart because my husband used the coconut up making burned granola and didn't add it to the shopping list blah blah blah. But why bother; you get the picture. At one point my son bopped into the kitchen and remarked, "It seems to be taking you an awfully long time to make that." . . . And then I made it again two days later. It probably won't take you long at all.

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Dangerous chemicals in "natural" productsI prefer as many of the products I use to be as safe as possible as well as cruelty free. I've been using Mrs. Meyer's dish liquid and other household cleaning products because I was assuming they were natural and safe, but the dish liquid tested out to have an alarmingly high level of 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap had the highest levels of the carcinogen at an alarming 204 ppm (parts per million), ten times higher than any other product’s current results in a recent study. Other products familiar to health-oriented shoppers were also found to have high levels of this dangerous chemical.

Two studies (the original, and a follow-up to determine improvements), "looked specifically at products that come in contact with the skin. The studies were commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group with over 500,000 members, and were overseen by environmental health consumer advocate David Steinman (author of The Safe Shopper’s Bible). The independent third-party laboratory, Bodycote Testing Group, known for rigorous testing and chain-of-custody protocols, performed all testing. The products selected for the study are available at popular retail outlets."

About 1,4-Dioxane
"1,4-dioxane is a petrochemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer" under Proposition 65. Due to its toxicity, many consumers would not expect to find it in "natural" or "organic" branded personal care products. The contaminant 1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of the ethoxylation process, which is a cheap shortcut companies often use to provide mildness to harsh cleaning ingredients. 1,4-dioxane is also a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and respiratory toxicant, according to the California EPA, and it is a significant groundwater contaminant. While previous studies have revealed the presence of 1,4-dioxane in baby, children's and adults products and those mislabeled as "organic" and "natural", this latest study shows the toxin is being significantly reduced as many brands reformulate."

You can find more information about the studies at the Organic Consumers Association Web site and also a link to a file listing specific products to choose or avoid as well as ingredients to avoid in products not on the list.

©Andrea's easy vegan cooking

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