August 18, 2010

Happy 101 Award | Tandoor Chef | watermelon smoothie

I recently received a Happy 101 award from Rose, the talented writer of the Dandelion Blog. If you haven't had a chance to read Rose's vegan cooking blog, you should definitely take a look. Anyway, the award asks me to post, in no particular order, 10 things that make me happy. I'm also supposed to pass the award along to 10 other blogs. Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am BAD at making choices. I'm a true Libra, and I tend to agonize over every decision no matter how small, but it really wasn't hard to quickly come up with a list of 10 things that make me happy. I just had to convince myself that it was OK to not worry about whether these were the things that made me most happy, or just happy. :D

1. Sunshine. I didn't realize how much I love sunshine until we moved someplace with a minimal amount. I especially love sunshine on a cold winter day, when the golden warmth makes the air feel fresh and vibrant, and the snow sparkle. I love it in the spring when it feels like hope, and in the fall when it lights up the changing leaves, and makes the transition to cooler days seem more pleasant. Sunshine and summer go together like hugs and kisses.

2. Rain during the night in summer. I love when it rains during the night (my apologies to night people) yet I wake up to a sunny day. Everything is clean and watered — the plants are no longer thirsty, and the new day always seems so full of potential.

3. Salt air at the ocean. When I was growing up, every summer my family went to the same place for a vacation — the New Jersey shore. ( I know. I know.) Down the shore, we called it. My favorite moment of the trip there, was just after we passed the (smelly) bay, and approached the beach town where we stayed, and the smell of salty sea air hit my nose and filled my lungs. I love that gorgeous smell.

4. Dogs. When I walk down the street and someone approaches with a dog, my eyes are on the dog. Often I speak to the dog, ignoring the human, and I've been wondering about this. Is it anti-social, or do I just really, really love dogs? If I remember to look up, the human usually seems happy that I like their dog, because I think they probably love dogs, too, and understand.

5. Family. I love my family, both immediate and extended, and all the people who are part of my family through marriage. What a great bunch! Why can't we just all live in the same place.

6. Friends and acquaintances. Moving away from the place I've lived for 30+ years has given me a new appreciation for my community of friends. I miss these people dearly when we are in our new surroundings. I miss purposely, and randomly, running into them during daily activities. I also appreciate new friends who have extended a welcome.

7. Good books. I love to read. My favorite reads are historical fiction and general fiction, but I read everything — biography, science, journalism, cookbooks, science fiction, etc. I'm currently reading two books by Sherman Alexie and a science fiction book called "The Sparrow." Just finished a young adult fantasy trilogy — "The Golden Compass," "The Subtle Knife" and "The Amber Spyglass." Before that the Nick Kristof book, "Half the Sky" and before that "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer.

8. Long walks. How great is it to walk in a beautiful place, breathing the fresh air, enjoying the scenery, and knowing that in addition to appreciating the experience, I'm getting exercise and benefiting my health. Woo hoo.

9. Making art.
Taking photographs. I love taking photographs, especially of food, and I LOVE when they turn out well. I keep it fun by not stressing too much over the photos that aren't as nice as I want, and instead, try to make the next ones better. I also love working in Photoshop.
Painting. By painting I mean creating a two-dimensional art work, not painting a house, though painting a house is fun, too.

10. Being vegan and knowing that my food choices are not taking the lives of animals.

If you are reading this and see your blog listed here, consider this award yours. Absolutely Green, Amanda's Domestic Adventures, Bitt of Raw, Bread Without Butter, Cooking for a Vegan Lover's Blog, Cooking in Color, Earthsip, Heathen Vegan, The Voracious Vegan, Vegan Awakening.


The last of my Tandoor Chef frozen entrees
I was recently sent several varieties of Tandoor Chef frozen vegan entrees to review, and here's the last of them. Dal Rajastani (exotic lentils and split peas) was, like the other varieties we tried, well-spiced and delicious. Once again, it tasted like a dish you might enjoy in an Indian restaurant, or had spent hours making at home. After heating in the oven (or microwave), it was ready to serve with rice and veggies that we prepared, for a convenient, fast meal. The two-serving size box says it is gluten-free and vegan, (made in a facility that processes tree nuts, milk, wheat and sesame). (Nutritional info per serving in two-serving box: 130 calories; 6 g fat (no saturated, no trans); 470 mg sodium; 14 g total carbs (2 g sugar, 1 g fiber); 5 g protein.) 

I was kind of surprised to find Vegetable Pad Thai (gluten-free, vegan, made in a facility that processes tree nuts, milk, wheat and sesame) among the Tandoor Chef selections because I was assuming all the foods were Indian, but I guess not. The second surprise was that the box was considered one serving, not two. With more fat and salt than I'd like, I used it instead as two servings, and prepared a vegetable dish to accompany it. It was enough for two of us as part of a meal, and we both enjoyed the flavors and textures of the various components. It was really good.
(Nutritional info per one-serving box: 490 calories; 19 g fat (2 g saturated, no trans); 740 mg sodium; 72 g total carbs (9 g sugar, 5 g fiber); 10 g protein.)

In my last review I said my husband had cooked Masala Burgers and they fell apart, so I cooked one to see what would happen. It didn't fall apart, but I could see why he had a problem.

The burgers consist of whole corn kernels, small cubes of potato and other small vegetable pieces rather than a uniform, mashed consistency, so when you break into them, they tend to pop apart. This was very appealing to me, but you do have to treat them carefully rather than attacking them with a spatula. (Not saying he "attacked" them ... but, maybe ...)

Full disclosure: The Tandoor Chef products were provided free to me, with a request for a review. No attempt was made to influence my opinion.

To go with the pad thai, I prepared a dish of Japanese eggplant, long beans, tomato, tofu, leftover sweet corn, red curry paste. I'm not providing a recipe because I didn't like it much. The texture of the eggplant was wrong — kind of mushy instead of velvety-soft. My husband liked it but not me.


Breaking out of my smoothie rut
Maybe the title is misleading since I'm still having smoothies every day, but at least I'm having different smoothies. This one was particularly delicious. It started with chunks of yellow baby watermelon which, when blended, provided the liquid needed to blend the other ingredients. The 40 ounce blender jar was about 3/4 full of chunks when I started. I added 4 ounces of coconut milk yogurt, several strawberries and about a cup of frozen mango chunks, and processed everything as smooth as my blender was able to do, meaning there were still some small pieces of mango left. The watermelon was a fabulous addition and the smoothie was great!


Vegan wedding cake directory

I recently received a note from Ashley Lane about a project she's working on. (If you're a vegan food blogger you may have received the same note.) Here's what Ashley had to say:
My cousin is a wedding cake vendor (in Utah) and I've convinced her that we need to create a (nationwide) directory of other bakers who can make vegan wedding cakes, on her website ... to help the vegan community with this problem (I'm vegan, btw). I would love to ask you for a big favor. Could you create a quick blog post asking your readers if any of them had a vegan wedding and if they could contact us here: to tell us where they were able to get their vegan wedding cake. (wherever they live)? I'd love to turn this into a complete resource ... but finding a vegan wedding cake baker in every state is more work than I thought ... so I'd really, really appreciate your help! :-)


You can win a dessert e-cookbook from Ricki!

Ricki, from Diet, Dessert and Dogs is hosting a giveaway for her fabulous new dessert e-cookbook. Visit her blog to read about it and enter the drawing.


  1. What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading your list of things that make you happy. And thanks for the Happy 101!

    Thanks also for posting the Tandoor Chef review. The entrees look yummy--I'll have to give one try at some point.

  2. Great list: I love your description of sunshine in all the different seasons, and I agree that rain in the night is lovely; the sound is so restful and makes you fell cozy.

    Those Masala Burgers look super good; I love the chunky aspect too.

  3. Great Happy 101 List and Congrats on your beautiful blog!

  4. Your smoothie looks and sounds fantastic! I cannot get enough watermelon in the summer, and I got one at the farmers market over the weekend...yum.

    The vegan wedding cake directory is such a good idea! I baked my sister's wedding cake since she couldn't find a vegan was not very impressive looking, lol! Oh well, all eyes were on the bride, not the cake, right?!?


  5. Great list, and beautifully written too. Sunshine on cool days really can't be beat! Your smoothie sounds fantastic. Coconut milk yogurt, how divine! I have to find some!

  6. Tiffany,
    Thank you. I was surprised by the high quality of the Tandoor Chef frozen foods. They were really good.

    The problem with rain at night in Seattle is it KEEPS raining the next day. This isn't exactly what I meant. :D But you're right about the sound.

    Why, thank you.

    You should try putting watermelon in a smoothie — so good.

    It was really generous of you to bake your sister's wedding cake, and I bet you're just being modest about the appearance. I think I'd be too nervous about doing something like that; my cake decorating skills are not highly developed. Are you going to list yourself in the directory? :D

    Thanks, Zoa. If it weren't for sunshine, most of winter in Wisconsin would be very unpleasant.

    The coconut milk yogurt is so delicate and unique. I really like the taste and texture.

  7. Great to read your Happy 101 list.

    Your smoothie sounds tasty. I have been having more and more smoothies lately as I find they are a great way to get a good variety of fruit and raw veggies into my diet with very little effort.

  8. Your happy list made me happy, and your photos made me hungry! The Pad Thai and the Watermelon Smoothie look SO delicious!!!

  9. Jackie,
    Thanks for commenting! I can get lots of fruit into my smoothies but veggies — not so much. I guess I'm the only vegan left not drinking green smoothies — yet... :( I eat lots of veggies, though.

    I wish I could claim I made the pad Thai instead of just heating it up, but the smoothie — yes, yes I can claim that. Thanks for your comment!

  10. Great love list. And the food on your blog always look so delicious with lots of variety (can't think of a better way of phrasing it- my brain's not working today :)).

  11. I love your list Andrea and I am with you on every single one of them. Although as much as I love dogs, I love cats more and Philip Pullman is fab. It is even better hearing him talk about his books and reading them aloud :)

  12. Sarah, Thanks for your comment. Sometimes it feels like I eat the same things over and over!

    I love cats, too, but cats on the street aren't always as friendly as dogs. :) Philip Pullman IS fab — I've never heard him speak, but the books were amazing!

  13. Thanks Andrea :)

  14. hey man I like it. I'm ready to write more posts and put your ideas to the test. After all, we always have something new to learn and being humble, I came here to learn. Bookmarked.

    - Josh

  15. Wow, this post had everything in it! I love how in your list you said IF you remembered to look up at the human. I can just picture you yakking with the dog and then moving on without acknowledging the attending person! I like reading your posts, Andrea, because they move along, are interesting, and are varied. :-)

  16. Just reading your list made me happy! The dog thing made me laugh because I do the same thing! :D

    Rain on a summer night really is a beautiful thing!

    Thanks for the heads up about the patties - I will try not to attack them with a spatula! ;)

  17. I share so many of your happy-making items on the list! And I do the exact same thing with dogs--it's not that I don't like people, it's just that I like dogs better ;) And I could totally relate to the Libran approach to this post!

  18. Kiersten,
    You're welcome!

    Thanks for your comment.

    Thanks so much for your support. It means a lot to me.

    We stayed in Miles City on our trip back to Seattle but I didn't see the horse. It was 101˚ there!

    I know we share that Libra thing but you seem to have yours under better control.

    I like to think that if I ran into you and your delightful girls on the street, that I'd say hello to you too. :D


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