Did You Know?

Did you know??
Although using avocados and bananas are all the buzz now to get soft and shiny hair, all it will get you is a messy kitchen and bathroom. These products are great to help your hair for one day, but the proteins in them are way too big for your hair to absorb. And unless you are going to use them each day (yikes!), then you should head to a beauty supply store and check out some Vegan products that use "hydrolyzed" proteins - proteins from avocados and bananas that actually are small enough to help your hair.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Barbunya: Stewed Roman (Cranberry) Beans

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So about a year ago I bought some dried Roman beans thinking, "if I buy them, I'll definitely come up with a reason to use them!"  Guess what?  I found them yesterday when we were cleaning out our pantry.  Unopened.  Ridiculous, right?  So, out of guilt, I got a bucket of hot water and tossed a few cups of the beans in and left them to soak.  I'm glad I did, because this turned out to be a delicious meal.  The beans are very soft and meaty, and this had a hint of a meaty chili, even though that wasn't what I expected.

When I was looking online to figure out what to do with them, I kept getting almost no information.  Having come from an ethnic family, I know a lot of beans and greens can get names that aren't from their culture, which means to find any good 'authentic' recipes, you have to figure out the real name for the ingredient.  Starting with Roman beans, I realized they were the same as Cranberry beans.  Cranberry beans, however, doesn't sound ethnic, so I knew my search wasn't over-- but I was getting more recipes than before.  Scrolling through the recipes, I came across the term 'barbunya', which you can see at the top of this post.  I found roughly 6 different recipes for a simple stewed barbunya bean, and this was the final creation!   The term 'barbunya' is of Turkish origin, which is an area of Europe that I never think of for having its own cuisine.  Also, the term barbunya not only refers to these beans, but this specific dish.  I'm not sure how it is identified separately from the bean, but my guess is from its context (but I could be wrong-- if you know, please leave a comment about it!). After trying this nom-licious dish, I may have to expand my Turkish horizons a bit further!

Note: This recipe has been recently modified (1/24).  Apparently, the recipe I came up with was close to what someone else had posted online (and they had a problem with that), so I went back to the drawing board, which was is fine because this batch was even better!

Now I've got to find other ways to use these beans-- suggestions?


2 cups of dried barbunya beans
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 medium-sized white onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 banana peppers, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, cut in rounds
1/2 cup kale, rinsed and chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp unrefined sugar
2 cups hot water
1/2 bunch parsley, leaves coarsely chopped.
salt to taste


Soak barbunyas in water over night.

Before cooking, boil until soft, approximately for an hour.  Depending on the age of the beans, this can take up to 3 hours, so be prepared!

Drain and rinse.

In another pot, add and heat oil. Add onions, garlic, and green peppers. Stir for 4-5 minutes.


Add carrots and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes turn dark red.

Add beans and kale and stir for 5 mins. Add salt, sugar, and water. Turn down the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend together.

Garnish with parsley and fresh lemon slices.
  
You can try it warm, but Barbunya, like all Turkish olive oil dishes, is served and best when it's cold.  My best suggestion is to leave it on the stove after you make it in the afternoon, and have it for an evening meal-- lukewarm.  Of course, it is winter, so keeping it warm isn't the worst idea!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bell Pepper & Tofu Garam Masala

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Now that Ashley has discovered her love of Indian food, life has been flavorful.  Possibly too flavorful.  Whenever I leave her to dinner, Indian food is on the menu.  And not just Indian food, but a variety of two different dishes-- Palak Aloo or Chana Masala.  I love both of these, but I am not a man who can eat the same meal day after day.  Ashley, on the other hand, can have the same thing for lunch every day for a month and be perfectly content.

So a week ago, after begging me to go for Indian food at an Indian restaurant down the street from us, I finally convinced her to try something new.  In fact, that was the deal; I'll pay for dinner, but she had to try a new dish.  It was too early for dinner but too late for lunch, so the restaurant was fairly quiet.  We sat down, ordered our drinks, and munched on samosas as Ashley tried to figure out what she wanted to try.  The restaurant, a North Indian styled place, has a menu that is roughly 12 pages long (as many Indian restaurant menu's tend to be) and filled with veg options.

Five minutes passes.  Ten minutes passes.  The waiter comes by, asks if we're ready.  Not yet.  Ashley thinks she knows what she wants-- stops, waits-- "should I just get the Masala?" she asks me, pleading for me to agree.  I smile and laugh; I don't need to say anymore to make my opinion clear.  Again she goes back to studying the menu as though it's a map, running her fingers across the descriptions of the meals, hoping to find something she may have missed before that she already has tried.

The waiter comes by for the second time.  I tell him we need a few more minutes and he promises to be within reach if we need him.  Ashley tells me she thinks she's ready: she's going for the Vegetable Biryani.  A good choice, I comment, but she's already too busy staring down the plates of palak headed to the only other table filled to notice.

I get the waiter's attention and he asks us if we're ready.  I tell him my order of Aloo Mutter, and he turns to Ashley, which she responds to with "Chana Masala" with an evil grin on her face.  So much for trying something new.

So, in revenge, I made this little dish; not 'authentic' Indian food by any means, but a delicious substitute for the lazy and hungry.

2 tbsp canola oil
1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1 carrot, diced into sticks
1 16 oz. block extra firm tofu, cubed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/4 cup cream alternative (unsweetened soy works best in my experience)
1 tsp cilantro, dried
salt and pepper to taste


Place large skillet over medium heat and add oil. When oil is warm, add sliced onions and saute until soft.

Add ginger, cumin, cilantro, and garam masala. Saute for another minute or two.

Add tofu and saute until lightly browned. Make sure to stir tofu around to get as close to an even browning as possible. Add bell pepper and saute for a few more minutes

Add the tomato sauce, water, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

Simmer until sauce is thickened to a loose paste, about 5 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice and naan. Enjoy!
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