Vinegar Variety (part I)

The other day, as I was observing my pantry shelf, I realized I had a semi-dusty almost full bottle of red wine vinegar. I hate buying something for one recipe then never using it again, so I searched online for “recipes with red wine vinegar” and almost every recipe was for salad dressing. Now I don’t mind a good red wine vinaigrette, but I was surprised with the lack of variety.

From that incident, I decided that vinegar seems to be a bit of an under appreciated pantry staple. Due to that, I’ve decided to dedicate two posts to writing about different types of vinegar and how to use them in your dishes (with no salad dressing recipes in sight).

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV is a very common vinegar. It’s made by crushing and releasing the liquid from apples, then putting the juice through the vinegar fermenting process. It’s a pretty mild type and has a light fruit undertone with a sharp tartness. The latest health craze seems to be drinking ACV plain (yuck) or washing your hair with it (I’ll just stick with my Jason’s shampoo, thanks), but this vinegar is still great for eating too, as is shown with the coleslaw below. The recipe was creamy with a hint of sour from the vinegar and relish in it. I served it with a barbecue Boca burger.

coleslaw

Balsamic Vinegar

Equally sweet and sour, this vinegar has the richest flavor of them all. It is commonly drizzled over salads with sweet accents, like fruit. Although the traditionally made BV from Italy is amazing (I’ve only bought a bottle once, but it was worth the money), the commercial made will make due for those who don’t want to splurge on it. But if you’re doing a dish with the vinegar as a main focal point, it might be worthwhile to get the traditional. I didn’t want to do a shameless plug and encourage you to cook my balsamic pasta and beans (recipe here), so I chose some salty and crunchy goodness with kale chips. These chips were super simple and delicious. You only need kale, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt. I ended up eating these while watching Supernatural in lieu of an unhealthy snack.

balsamic kale chips

Malt Vinegar

MV is made by malting barley, then brewing it into ale, which is finally converted into vinegar. It is commonly used in the UK for fish and chips, but it’s also known for being a good pickling vinegar. I’ve never actually pickled anything before, so I thought I’d give it a go! I chose to make pickled mushrooms since shrooms are one of my favorite foods. In the finished product the Malt vinegar has a distinct taste and the slice of onion and garlic in the jar add an extra depth of flavor. I’m going to serve these sprinkled on a salad with a sweet raspberry dressing to balance the vinegar taste.

pickled shrooms

Hashing It Out (Vegan MoFo #9)

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Our story today, Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo, is set in Bloor’s Academy, an eerie private school. To attend Bloor’s Academy you must either be gifted or rich. You can be gifted in the areas of art, music, drama, or be endowed with a special talent. Charlie Bone is one of these extra talented students because he can hear voices from photographs and (occasionally) paintings. After Charlie’s deranged aunts and grandmother (some of whom are also endowed) discover his gift, he is shipped to Bloor’s Academy.

While there, he meets other endowed children and learns that their powers come by being descendants of the Red King, an ancient enchanter. The other students have powers which allow them to feel emotions through clothes, talk to animals, lift items with their minds, and more. And while Charlie enjoys finding other Children of the Red King, he can’t help but feel like they are an equally split group, between good and evil.

Upon finding a mysterious photograph, and hearing the conversation inside, Charlie learns the story of a girl who has been missing for years. Determined to use his powers for good, Charlie sets on a quest to find the missing child. But there are many at Bloor’s, including the headmaster himself, who would love nothing more than for the girl’s disappearance to remain unsolved. Charlie must rally the other Children of the Red King to help him, and hope that the good outweighs the bad.

A plate containing something brown and green was shoved into Charlie’s hands, and he followed Fidelio to an empty table. After a few mouthfuls, Charlie noticed that Fidelio seemed to be enjoying the rather disgusting cabbage and leaving the brown stuff.

“Vegetarian,” explained Fidelio. “They never give us a meal we can eat. I expect you’d like my hash.”

“Is that what it is? I wouldn’t mind a bit. You can have my cabbage.” – Midnight for Charlie Bone (hardcover) pages 170-171

Imagine my delight when finding a vegetarian character! I can sympathize with poor Fidelio (cafeterias don’t get any better in college), so I decided to make a vegan meal of hash and cabbage in honor of him.

corned beef and cabbageI followed a recipe for corned bean hash, then sauteed some shredded cabbage in margarine and topped it with Lawry’s seasoning salt.  I’ve never had hash before, so I can’t attest to this being similar to the omnivore version, but it was darn tasty.

Local Lime: Review

Over Spring Break, my sister and I went to Arkansas to visit our mom. While there, we ate at a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Little Rock called Local Lime. We had heard it was vegan-friendly, so we decided to give it a try, and it turned out to be great!

To start off, our waitress was very knowledgeable about what items were and weren’t vegan. That was a great relief, because nothing is more frustrating than having a waiter who has no idea about the ingredients. Things on the menu were also clearly marked “vegan”, “vegetarian”, and “gluten-free”.

To drink, I got their Fresh Fruit Punch. It’s house-made with fresh pineapple, papaya, mango, strawberries and organic agave syrup. (It was also photo-bombed by my mom)

As an appetizer we got the Salsa Trio, and our three salsa choices were house tomato, tres chilies, and mango papaya, served with corn chips. When our waitress brought it out, the tres chilies salsa had cheese on top of it. After seeing the cook’s mistake, she immediately went into the back and brought me my own vegan salsa bowl! All the salsas were good, but the house tomato was definitely my favorite.
For the main course I ordered the Black Bean and Green Tacos, which come with black beans, guacamole, raw green cabbage, house-pickled onions,  and hot sauce, all served in a corn tortilla. For the two sides, I got jicama jalapeno slaw (with no sauce, since it contained dairy), and spicy house-pickled vegetables.

The tacos were fantastic. The beans were spiced just right, and the cool guacamole and cabbage counteracted the spicy onions and hot sauce. The jicama slaw was also really good. It was crunchy and fresh tasting with a hint of lime. The only disappointing thing was the house-pickled vegetables. The combo of spicy and pickled taste just didn’t sit right with my taste buds.
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So all in all, I would give Local Lime a 5 star rating. Their vegan-friendly service, and delicious menu is truly stellar.
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