August 14, 2010

So many entrees ... so little time | Refrigerator tea

Now, I'm not trying to make everyone jealous by describing the dinner we shared with the Madison Vegetarian Meet-up ... but I probably will. Thanks to fearless leader Dave, the meet-up group enjoys an amazing vegan meal at a different restaurant each month. This month, we were lucky enough to be in Madison for the July meet-up at Lee's Asian Bistro, a new restaurant on Monona Drive. When the dinner began, I was wondering if the modestly-sized plates of food would be enough, but by the end I was stunned that the waitstaff kept bring out more dishes. By the time it was over, I was waddling around like a beach ball on legs. I really liked everything, too, except maybe the sesame ball dessert, which may have been a little too authentic. (Had it been served without the syrup, as an appetizer, I may have felt differently. As a dessert, well, hmmm, not so sure.) The food was very fresh and tasty, and didn't seem overly salty or oily. My only complaint (not that a complaint is even warranted) was that the color palette was a bit brown, as the meal leaned more heavily on starch, and more lightly on vegetables.

We started with spring rolls (pictured at top of post) which were fresh, crunchy, delicious, and accompanied by a really good peanut sauce. This was followed by papaya salad, crunchy and interesting.

Next came vegetarian lo mein.

Followed by pad Thai.

And a cold Vietnamese rice noodle dish that I almost finished before I remembered to take a photo.

Vegetable fried rice came next.

And then a dish called vegetarian's delight, which was accompanied by a large plate of delicious sticky rice.

Dessert number 1 (yes, I'm not kidding, there were two desserts) was sesame balls in syrup. Two balls came floating in a tall glass of sweet liquid. They were interesting. The outside was kind of OK but the inside ...
was seasoned mung bean paste. This may have been a little too weird, or maybe I was a little too full to appreciate it. I've tried to eat — and make — aduki bean desserts in the past but I have to admit that they are not my favorite.

But then came dessert number 2. Seriously, I shouldn't even have eaten more than a bite of dessert number 2, but in fact, I ate the whole thing. Inside that egg roll wrapper was a gooey fried banana. Now you can understand why I felt like a beach ball on legs as I waddled out of the restaurant.


The day after


Hotter than ...
It's been breathtakingly hot and humid this past week, and although I enjoy the heat, for the last couple of days it's really not been comfortable to engage in activities more strenuous than reading ... and sipping iced tea. I've been keeping two pitchers full in the refrigerator at all times. Because my body can't handle caffeine very well, I use decaffeinated tea and herbal tea, and I've read that brewing herbal and decaf tea in the sun leads to bacterial growth in the liquid. (Caffeine somehow retards the growth of bacteria in the sun-brewing jar for about two hours.) It's hard to believe it's true after all the sun tea I've consumed without a problem, but I've decided to play it safe and brew in the fridge. I use one teabag for each cup of cold water. Most directions say to brew the tea for 12 to 24 hours but I find that the tea tastes good to me after about four hours in the refrigerator, though sometimes I forget about it and brew it much longer. Remove the teabags when the tea is strong enough to please your taste buds.


  1. Mmmm everything looks so tasty! I love veggies, but I'm such a sucker for starchy food that I probably wouldn't have been bothered by the meal's high starch-to-vegetable ratio haha.

  2. It looks great! And I'm LOL at the salad the next day!

  3. Wow, what a meal! I probably would have came waddling out of there too. I dunno about those sesame balls though...not my kind of dessert.

  4. I always wish I lived somewhere that had "meet-ups." Fun!

  5. I'm full just looking at all of that food. Looks mighty good.
    My mom always, always made sun tea and I do too and have never had a problem. Thanks for the info on that.

  6. That does look like an amazing feast! And your salad the next day looks refreshing.

    Iced-tea is sounding pretty good too; I think the weather gods must have heard our discussion about sending some the Midwest heat our way; it's meant to be in the 90's today...sipping tea and reading sounds like a perfect way to spend the day.

  7. Tiffany,
    Truthfully, I wasn't really bothered by it either since everything tasted so good, but I like dishes with lots of veggies, too.

    The salad was necessary for balance! :D

    The sesame balls were weird, no question. The filling was salty and savory while the outside was sweet.

    Maybe you could start one. :)

    I was kind of surprised to learn about the sun tea, too, but making in the refrigerator is easy, and when it's brewed, it's cold! I like that.

    It's about time you had a little heat in Seattle. Make some tea and enjoy! (And thanks for the award. I'll post next time.)

  8. Yep, totally jealous!!!!! Glad it was delicious.

  9. Very interesting dishes. I've never been a fan of mung beans either, so you're not alone in that. Still, the concept of those two balls floating in the syrup made me think of Halloween and candy "eyeballs." I could have fun with that! lol

  10. Starch-heavy, but looks delicious!

  11. OMG, Andrea, if it is as hot there as it is here...ugh. I feel for ya! Do you have AC? I don't, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that the heat and humidity breaks tomorrow like they are saying. Hopefully it will break for you too!

    I have been enjoying iced tea the pitcher full, lol. I really love iced peppermint tea and iced Red Zinger tea--both herbal. So refreshing!

    Hang in there

  12. Claire,
    Missed you and wish you had been there!

    I can see what you mean by eyeballs, definitely, but I thought they looked kind of like eggs.

    DJ Karma,
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, the food was so good that I wasn't too concerned about the starch.

    No AC in our house. We have a small unit in the bedroom but it doesn't work very well. We used it one night but I actually prefer the fans. Ceiling fans work great and that's what we have, but it wouldn't hurt to have a little less humidity tomorrow. :)

    I have lemon zinger brewing right now.

  13. You have made me hungry Andrea. I would like to go stright to the banana please, then I will dip into the other dishes :)

  14. Jacqueline, my thought exactly! The food does look good, though I've never worked up the courage to try sweet bean just looks so bean-pasty somehow.

    Nothing wrong with making iced tea in the fridge. It's actually smarter because then you're making the tea and cooling it at the same time and don't have to wait so long to enjoy it.

  15. Ooh, were the sesame balls made from glutinous rice flour? 'Cause they look a lot like mochi. You're saying the bean paste inside was salty? That really is strange! Haha no wonder it is drowning in syrup. Since you thought the outside white part wasn't bad, I'd recommend trying Japanese mochi next time :D If you haven't tried mochi balls, they're little balls like that, with sweet nutty, bean, or fruit fillings.

  16. Jacqueline,
    Looking at the photos makes me hungry, too. Especially since I can still remember how good the food tasted. But I'd go straight to the veg delight. I was also quite taken by the sticky rice, which I didn't photograph.

    Sweet bean paste tastes bean-pasty, too. This paste was salty which made it an even weirder dessert.

    My thoughts exactly about the tea. (I said pretty much the same thing in an earlier comment.) It's so much more direct to just chill it right from the start. (It does take a little longer, though, and there is a kind of esthetic around the idea of making "sun tea.")

    I don't know what they were made of — the menu said "sesame dough" but they didn't seem like mochi. I've eaten — and made — mochi, and I love it. I've never had my mochi filled with anything. These seemed more like doughy dumplings, but I suppose they could have been made from mochi dough.

  17. Thanks for the avocado idea for breakfast. I love them but is always a waiting game to catch them at just the right time...having corn tortillas on hand regularly would help too, i think. thanks again,

  18. Also, your tea ideas made me think of Goji berry tea. Just throw in a handful to a pitcher of water and drink it cold. Hot water can be added instead, of course, and then drink it that easy way to get tons of health in a glass!

  19. What a feast! I think I would have felt like a beach ball on legs too, but it looks like it would have been totally worth it! The dessert balls do look weird and not very appetizing though. I like your polar tea jar! :)

  20. Great looking meal, everything looks delicious! I'm not a fan of the bean paste types of desserts. But I would try that fried banana. :-)

  21. Gail,
    Avocados work for me any time of day, but I do love them on toast for breakfast! (After my smoothie, of course.)

    Thanks for the goji berry tip. I'll have to try that.

    Yes, it was worth it! (Except maybe for the balls.)

    Chow vegan,
    The banana was definitely interesting. I bet it would have been great with some chocolate tucked in there.:)

  22. Everything looks so fabulous--even the sesame balls! Never had mung bean paste, though, but I love lotus bean paste in desserts. Now I've got a hankering for rice paper spring rolls. Mmm!


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