Vegetarians’ Delight

Ingredients

8 (1-1/2-inch cap) Dried Chinese mushroom
1/3 cup Dried cloud ear fungus 雲耳
8 piecesDeep-fried tofu 豆腐卜
2 oz Carrot
20 oz Suey choy 紹菜
1 bundle (50 g) Bean thread vermicelli 粉絲
1/2 oz Dried black moss 發菜
8 pieces Dried oyster 蠔豉
2 cloves Garlic (sliced)
2 slices Ginger
12 pieces Sugar snap peas or peapod

Seasoning:

2 Tbsp Preserved red bean sauce 南乳
2 tsp Light soy sauce
2 tsp Dark soy sauce
2 tsp Oyster sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sesame oil
1 tsp Mushroom seasoning
1-1/2 cup Water

Method

  1. Rinse and soak Chinese mushroom in cold water in a covered bowl for about 1-1/2 hour or until softened depending on the thickness of the caps. Cut off stems. Rinse caps between gills to remove dirt and grit. Squeeze out water and cut each mushroom into 2 halves.
  2. Soak dried cloud ear fungus in cold water for about 30 minutes or until softened. Remove dried sandy tips. Break up big ones into smaller pieces. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
  3. Soak bean thread vermicelli in cold water for about 30 minutes. Rinse and drain. Cut into sections.
  4. Soak dried black moss in cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse several times using a strainer and squeeze out water. Mix in 1 tsp oil and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and squeeze dry.
  5. Soak dried oyster in cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with paper towel.
  6. Rinse deep-fried tofu and cut each piece into 2 halves.
  7. Separate stalks of suey choy. Rinse and drain. Cut each stalk crosswise into 1-inch wide long strips.
  8. Cut carrot into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  9. Mix red bean sauce with 1-1/2 Tbsp water. Mix remaining seasoning in a separate bowl.
  10. Heat wok and add 4 Tbsp oil. Sauté ginger and garlic until fragrant. Add Chinese mushroom, stir-fry for 1 minute. Add oyster, cloud ear fungus and deep-fried tofu, stir-fry for another minute. Add 1 Tbsp wine and toss for 30 seconds. Add red bean sauce and water mixture. Toss to combine. Add suey choy, toss and cover wok. Cook for 3 minutes. Add remaining seasoning. Toss and cover wok. Cook on medium heat for about 12 minutes or until suey choy is quite tender, stirring occasionally. Add carrot, black moss and bean thread vermicelli. Cook for about 5 minutes until most of the seasoning is absorbed. Remove. (If mixture looks dry after bean thread vermicelli is cooked, add some water accordingly.)
  11. Blanch sugar snap pea in boiling water with some oil and salt for about 2 minutes. Remove and garnish on top of vegetable mixture in (Step 10).

Source: My Recipes

Vegan Butter in Plastic-free Packaging

Anna Starostinetskaya wrote . . . . . . . . .

New Flora Plant Butter recently launched at select Kroger stores nationwide. The new vegan butter is available in 8.8-ounce packages for a suggested retail price of $3.49 and comes in salted and unsalted flavors. “Flora is a culinary-inspired premium brand that brings a rich heritage of chef experience from markets around the world, and it is a thrill to bring this new brand to American consumers,” Bernice Chao, brand lead for the Flora brand at parent company Upfield North America, said. “We are a product loved by chefs that can be used by home cooks and bakers who are looking to put a twist on traditional recipes with a dairy-free and great tasting ingredient.”

The new butter is made from a blend of responsibly sourced palm, sunflower, and canola oils and will be packaged in eco-friendly parchment paper. “We are deeply passionate about creating new foods that will change our world because they are better for you and better for our planet,” Chao said. “With Flora Plant Butter we have done just that. First, as a plant butter that is a vegan and non-dairy product that offers a suitable option to help consumers meet their dietary or lifestyle needs. Second, as an environmentally conscious brand that is leading the way with 100-percent plastic-free paper packaging.”

Source: VegNews

Cheesy Eggplant Parmigiana

Ingredients

3-4 large eggplants
2 cups chickpea flour (gram flour)
2 cups plain flour
2 cups bread crumbs or panko
3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
sea salt, for sprinkling

Béchamel Sauce

4 cups soy milk/cashew milk
pinch nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white ground pepper
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup grated vegan cheese

Simple Tomato Sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

To Serve

steamed veggie or salad
dairy-free Parmesan

Method

  1. First up prepare the eggplant, trim the stems off then cut them into 1/2-inch ‘sheets’ lengthwise. You should be able to get 6-8 pieces from each eggplant.
  2. To coat the eggplant, put the gram flour in a mixing bowl and whisk in enough water to make it a beaten egg like consistency.
  3. Put the flour in another bowl and the breadcrumbs in another. To coat the eggplant, dip a piece of eggplant first in the flour, then the gram flour mixture and finally the breadcrumbs. Repeat the process until all the eggplant are coated.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. (Alternately, you can always place the coated eggplant on a lined baking tray and bake them for 20 minutes.) Fry the eggplants in batches of 3, for 2 minutes on each side, use a spider to turn them over and to carefully take them out and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Continue to fry all the remaining eggplant. Season Fried eggplant with sea salt.
  5. To prepare the tomato sauce, place a large saucepan over low heat and add the olive oil followed by the onion and garlic. Sauté for around 4 minutes with the seasoning. Add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and stir well. Cover the pan and simmer the sauce for 12 minutes.
  6. To make the Béchamel Sauce, heat the margarine in a pot on the stove at medium heat. As the oil heats, add the flour and stir or whisk vigorously.
  7. Add the soy milk. Continue to stir and whisk to allow the sauce to thicken gradually.
  8. When the desired thickness is reached (keep in mind that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools), remove from the heat and mix in the other ingredients except the vegan cheese. Set aside.
  9. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  10. To assemble, in a large baking dish, ladle some tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish, then do a layer of eggplant, followed by béchamel and a sprinkling of vegan cheese, repeat the layers until you’ve filled your dish to the top. Make sure the last layer is béchamel and cheese.
  11. Place the dish into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 35 minutes. Once cooked it should be beautiful and golden on top. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve the dish with lots of vegetables or a big salad.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Plant Based News

Buddhist Food: How the Healthy, Vegetarian Dishes Full of Seasonal Ingredients Can Imitate Meat with Funguses and Plants

Jenny Wang wrote . . . . . . . . .

Visitors to the Chi Lin Nunnery in Hong Kong’s Diamond Hill neighbourhood find themselves surrounded by lush greenery, a quiet broken only by the chirps of birds, and winding paths that transport them to a Zen-like world. Life seems to slow down and unfold at a deliberate pace.

Chi Lin is modelled after the Jiangshouju Garden of the Tang dynasty (AD619-907), a traditional Chinese landscaped courtyard in Shanxi province that still exists today. The nunnery encompasses multiple architectural design techniques that extend the views and insulate the space from noise; it seems like there’s an invisible divider at the entrance, cutting it off from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

The nunnery’s restaurant, Chi Lin Vegetarian, observes the strictest of Buddhist diet principles – no killing of living things, and no use of animal products. That means no meat, eggs or dairy products.

Foods with an inherent pungency are also off-limits, including onions, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks, as the stimulating odours can interfere with the process of meditation and enlightenment. Alcohol is forbidden as it can cloud the mind and arouse lust, which may result in immoral behaviours or sexual misconduct.

The nunnery takes an organic approach to its food offerings, using only seasonal ingredients that are prepared in a way that emulates the flavour and texture of meats, a testament to the Buddhist belief in revering nature.

Bean curd sheet rolls marinated with soy sauce, a cold appetiser, resembles slices of marinated pork knuckle or beef tendon cuts. Even with close scrutiny, it resembles collagen, lean meat and fat. The bean curd sheet is marinated in home-made five-spice powder and soy sauce, before being thinly sliced. “The five-spice powder shouldn’t be used in excess, or it will be so powerful that the meat-flavoured bean curd will be masked,” says chef Yen Chun-ying.

Silver-ear mushroom and baby cucumber in spicy sauce, another cold appetiser, features morchella, a fungus that resembles lamb tripe. The baby cucumbers are actually cucumber flowers. “They’re plucked right before they’re ripe and fall onto the ground,” Yen says. “They have a very short shelf life, so we use them as soon as they arrive in the kitchen.”

Fungus and wheat gluten play an important role on Chi Lin’s menu. Funguses, imported from Yunnan province, comes in various shapes and textures, with different health benefits. The vegetarian stock used in many dishes is boiled with termite and straw mushrooms, which together magically replicate the unami richness of meat-based stock.

At Chi Lin, diners may come cross unfamiliar ingredients such as bulrush, a herbaceous perennial plant that grows on the edge of ponds, rivers and lakes in Zhejiang province. It is used in a stewed dish, simmered with bean curd and spicy bean sauce. You might mistake it for water bamboo, as they look similar, and both have a crunchy texture. But bulrush is juicier and has a sweeter flavour that balances the ingredients in the savoury dish.

Three Virtues Vegetarian Restaurant, which has shops in Jordan and North Point, is more of a family-friendly diner, with communal dining at its core.

“We’re seeking to offer a homely dining experience for customers, whether they’re Buddhists or they simply want to try a meatless dinner,” owner Hui Chin-mong says. “We’re aiming [to be] a sought-after place for family gatherings on special occasions, weddings, funerals or celebrations.”

A staunch Buddhist himself, Hui vouches for the human virtues of gratefulness, benevolence and respect for nature, which are entrenched mantras in Buddhism. These faiths inform his approach to cooking. “We source only in-season ingredients, use them when they’re the freshest, say no to all additives, and let the ingredients speak.”

Vegetarians who miss the taste of meat or fish will be happy with the dishes here, while dining guilt-free. The deep-fried bean curd-wrapped vegetarian fish looks and tastes like sweet and sour squirrel fish. It’s made with shredded mushrooms, wood ear fungus, carrots and green turnips wrapped in a layered sheet of bean curd and seaweed before being deep-fried. The roll is cut into pieces then covered with sweet tart sauce. It has a seafood taste thanks to the seaweed, which, when fried, resembles crunchy fish skin.

Another house speciality is vegetarian chicken gristle. It’s fashioned from konjac, a plant made into a jelly that has the crunch and chewiness of real gristle. It makes its way into various dishes, such as stir-fried vegetarian cartilage with yam and black fungus; stir-fried green peppers, preserved bean curd and cartilage; and deep-fried cartilage dusted with salt and pepper.

Unlike at Chi Lin, dairy products are used at Three Virtues. Cheese is used in fried crispy bean curd sheet with cheese and glutinous rice, a vegetarian version of the classic Cantonese dish of glutinous rice chicken in lotus leaf; and in Napoleon mango and vegetarian seafood pastry rolls filled with deep-fried turnip shreds, made with Philippine mango and cheese wrapped in bean curd sheets and noodles before being deep-fried.

In Chinese vegetarian cuisine, wheat gluten is an important source of protein. It appears on the Three Virtues menu in various shapes and forms, each with a different texture and therefore cooked using different methods. The porous gluten acts like a blank canvas, absorbing flavours from other ingredients and sauces.

“Gluten has the flair of sucking up and amplifying whatever flavour you give it,” Hui says. “The only limit is your imagination. Gluten gives vegetarian dishes twists and turns, and also provides important sustenance.”

The menu here has remained almost the same for years. “We do not go out of our way to innovate dishes or manipulate the recipes in order to entertain modern palates,” Hui says. “Seasonal cooking is the bottom line.”

Customers – most of them middle aged or seniors – come in early. “In Buddhism, we have a term called ‘chi wu’, mandating ‘no eating after lunch’,” Hui says.

He explains that after 17 to 19 hours of fasting from noon to the dawn of the next day, it’s believed the practitioner’s mind, as well as palate, gets cleansed and purified, which is deemed to be a crucial step in the path to achieving spiritual perfection. With benevolence and compassion at the heart of Buddhism, fasting is considered the only way to viscerally feel the pain and agony of the starved and poor.

While this was a strict rule that all Buddhists adhered to in the past, it is changing as peoples’ lifestyles evolve. Buddhism holds that nothing on Earth is fixed, and that nature should be allowed to take its course. While most Buddhist followers today eat dinner, they tend to have an early and light one, Hui says.

Dim sum, a long-established custom in Hong Kong also known as yum cha, is not usually friendly to vegetarians, as most dishes are meat-based. Seeking to fill the void, Deluxe Veggie opened in Mid-Levels at the start of the year. It might not have been the best time due to the pandemic, and it isn’t the easiest location to access, but it has managed to keep its head above water so far, with customers mostly Buddhist and Taoists, as well as some expats and tourists.

The beautiful crown daisy dumpling that shimmers with edible gold dust is certainly striking, but as chef-owner Dicky Yip says, it is difficult to make a dumpling made only of vegetables. “Chopped vegetables come loose, unlike meat fillings that easily clump together.”

Yip’s answer is a blended vegetable oil concoction, a vegetarian equivalent to lard. “The oil’s consistency [holds] the crown daisy together to stuff the dumpling,” he says.

Other specialities at Deluxe Veggie include vegetarian shrimp dumplings, made with bean curd and black truffle paste; a vegetarian replica of four treasures chicken using lion’s mane mushrooms, ear fungus and winter mushrooms; and a deceptively meaty vegetarian char siu bao (barbecue pork buns).

Yip, an award-winning dim sum chef who worked previously at Tsui Hang Village and The Hong Kong Jockey Club, started the business from scratch.

“I’ve been a deft hand at making traditional Cantonese dim sum, but I wanted to challenge myself to do something unusual, to upgrade my prowess,” he says. The area of vegetarian dim sum is almost untouched by chefs in Hong Kong, he adds, “so I wanted to venture out”.

Source: SCMP

Exercise Helps Ease Arthritis Pain and Stiffness

Mayo Clinic Staff wrote . . . . . . . . .

Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps might seem overwhelming.

But you don’t need to run a marathon or swim as fast as an Olympic competitor to help reduce arthritis symptoms. Even moderate exercise can ease your pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. When arthritis threatens to immobilize you, exercise keeps you moving. Not convinced? Read on.

Why exercise is vital

Exercise can help you improve your health and fitness without hurting your joints. With your current treatment program, exercise can:

  • Strengthen the muscles around your joints
  • Help you maintain bone strength
  • Give you more energy to get through the day
  • Make it easier to get a good night’s sleep
  • Help you control your weight
  • Enhance your quality of life
  • Improve your balance

Though you might think exercise will aggravate your joint pain and stiffness, that’s not the case. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff.

That’s because keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for your bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints.

Check with your doctor first

Talk to your doctor about fitting exercise into your treatment plan. What types of exercises are best for you depends on your type of arthritis and which joints are involved. Your doctor or a physical therapist can work with you to find the exercise plan that gives you the most benefit with the least aggravation of your joint pain.

Exercises for arthritis

Your doctor or physical therapist can recommend exercises for you, which might include range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises, aerobic exercise and other activities.

Range-of-motion exercises

These exercises relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion. These exercises might include movements such as raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward. In most cases, these exercises can be done daily.

Strengthening exercises

These exercises help you build strong muscles that help support and protect your joints. Weight training is an example of a strengthening exercise that can help you maintain or increase your muscle strength. Remember to avoid exercising the same muscle groups two days in a row. Rest a day between your workouts, and take an extra day or two if your joints are painful or swollen.

When starting a strength-training program, a three-day-a-week program can help you jump-start your improvement, but two days a week is all you need to maintain your gains.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic or endurance exercises help with your overall fitness. They can improve your cardiovascular health, help you control your weight and give you more stamina and energy.

Examples of low-impact aerobic exercises that are easier on your joints include walking, bicycling, swimming and using an elliptical machine. Try to work your way up to 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week. You can split that time into 10-minute blocks if that’s easier on your joints.

Moderate intensity aerobic exercise is the safest and most effective if it’s done most days of the week, but even a couple of days a week is better than no exercise. To determine if you are in the moderate intensity exercise zone, you should be able to carry on a conversation while exercising, though your breathing rate will be increased.

Other activities

Any movement, no matter how small, can help. Daily activities such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves and walking the dog count.

Body awareness exercises, such as gentle forms of yoga or tai chi, can help you improve balance, prevent falls, improve posture and coordination, and promote relaxation. Be sure to tell your instructor about your condition and avoid positions or movements that can cause pain.

Tips to protect your joints

Start slowly to ease your joints into exercise if you haven’t been active for a while. If you push yourself too hard, you can overwork your muscles and worsen your joint pain.

Consider these tips as you get started:

  • Keep the impact low. Low impact exercises like stationary or recumbent bicycles, elliptical trainers, or exercise in the water help keep joint stress low while you move.
  • Apply heat. Heat can relax your joints and muscles and relieve any pain you have before you begin. Heat treatments — warm towels, hot packs or a shower — should be warm, not painfully hot, and should be applied for about 20 minutes.
  • Move gently. Move your joints gently at first to warm up. You might begin with range-of-motion exercises for five to 10 minutes before you move on to strengthening or aerobic exercises.
  • Go slowly. Exercise with slow and easy movements. If you feel pain, take a break. Sharp pain and pain that is stronger than your usual joint pain might indicate something is wrong. Slow down if you notice swelling or redness in your joints.
  • Ice afterward. Apply ice to your joints for up to 20 minutes as needed after activity, especially after activity that causes joint swelling.

Trust your instincts and don’t exert more energy than you think your joints can handle. Take it easy and slowly increase your exercise length and intensity as you progress.

Don’t overdo

You might notice some pain after you exercise if you haven’t been active for a while. In general, if you’re sore for more than two hours after you exercise, you were probably exercising too strenuously. Talk to your doctor about what pain is normal and what pain is a sign of something more serious.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, ask your doctor if you should exercise during general or local flares. One option is to work through your joint flares by doing only range-of-motion exercises, just to keep your body moving, or exercising in water to cushion your joints.

Source: Mayo Clinic