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Reflecting on the Flavors of Ecstasy

Posted Dec 13 2009 5:19am

It’s amazing how one simple event can change your entire lifestyle, take away your time, and drain your wallet. I won’t deny the apprehensiveness in my stomach about purchasing this house because, well, I guess I was expecting a little more than I bargained for. Then again, I did bargain for it. Ever since we moved in, it was one thing or another. The most current issue that we face is the massive gap in the ceiling of our bathroom. Why is it there? Because the exhaust fan broke. Why did the exhaust fan broke? Because they never fixed it when it was broke in the first place. I know I should always follow my gut intuitions and my gut said not to trust the guy, but of course, my mother in law told me not to worry. What was I to do? I had a wedding, a honeymoon, and a cake to make. Not to mention it’s a month later and I still have seed hide nor tail of my photos or movie. Because, however, I want everyone to see, I’m posting up some pictures I stole off of Facebook that some of my friends took.



Since the honeymoon, it’s been getting organized in my new house and work. Work equals money, after all. I have to crack down too because the one company I was working for had to shut down, but, at least I have time now to focus on my school work and get my business in order. Also, that means I’ll try to work late at my other job to keep the income coming. Money isn’t essentially tight, since Phillip got full time, but, I need to keep up my end if I want to cook as much as I do. I would never give up my new part time job for the life of me. The people are like a second family to me; I love them all so much. So at least now I can focus on my end.

Aside from the working, I’ve been - you’ve guessed it - cooking. I can now cook the same meal for the two of us, with minor alterations as in adding meat for him. There was one recipe, however, that I created after a dish we ate in New Orleans that we both enjoyed. Well, to be honest, I enjoyed it more I think because he’s still not all that into beans, but, Phillip claimed that it tasted exactly like it did from the café. In NOLA, eating 100% vegetarian is a tough effort because, even in small amounts of sautéed greens, they add bacon or pork for flavoring. Then again, it’s not surprising because you’re still in the south. In fact, you’re so south, that the time changes (which I wasn’t aware of until we got there). Setting aside the shrimp remoulade, pan fried red fish with maque choux, shrimp crackers, oyster shooters, you get low down home cooking: red beans and rice. Period. That was it. We were lucky enough to be a block away from the solitary vegetarian mostly gluten free restaurant in the whole French quarter, I think. Well it isn’t 100% gluten free, but it dare say comes close. NOLA was the second considering they were a “big” restaurant, so, they knew about food allergies. I have to say, NOLA (Emeril’s) was fantastic in the hospitality genre, but, their food was subpar in my opinion. It was good and the celeriac remoulade over beets was to DIE for (I have to remake that at some point), but, the vegan red beans and rice did it for me. It did so much for me that I never forgot that recipe and I wanted to recreate it at home.

It is rare that anything could ever be as good as the original but, let me tell you with Phillip backing me up, that all the flavors were completely identical. Thus, I fell back to when we were huddled in our room, watching Monsters and eating red beans and rice. Deliciousness. This was the first time I’ve ever used a pressure cooker too and it is the best tool in the kitchen ever. I no longer have to waste electricity or soon to be gas on cooking the beans for an hour in the oven or on the stove. Nope. Don’t even have to worry, anymore, about cooking and freezing them. Pressure cooking is life. As are red beans and brown rice. I’d serve them with some steamed greens or a salad to complete the meal. It was absolutely fantastic. I need to make this in batches. Phillip gave the leftovers to our brother when he came over and I was secretly upset (well only a bit) because I wanted to eat the remainder with lots of bread. Just moppin’ away. Mm, mm, mmm!

After eating this dish it is totally comprehensible as to why New Orleanians consider this a comfort food. The hot bowl of beans over rice just inclines you to curl up on a couch in a blanket, watching movies. Sigh. Blissfullness. My recipes will, once again, adjust to serve two and then some as I tend to make more so Phillip can take some stuff to work. I’m also trying out new things in my BRAND NEW KITCHEN WITH A GAS STOVE. I’ll take pictures once I get all the handles on it..Heheh…

I also need to find time to crack down on that business and get back into my blogging flow.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

½ lb of tofu, sliced into approximately 12 ½ - ¼ inch thick pieces
1 tbsp braggs amino acids
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Original Emeril’s Essence (It’s gluten free!)

½ lb of red beans
½ green bell pepper, minced
½ onion, minced
1 large celery stalk, minced
1 tsp Crystals hot sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp nondairy margarine

In preparing this dish, I used one of my new toys, the pressure cooker. A pressure cooker is the cook’s dream. If you aren’t familiar upon how one functions, think of a crock pot in reverse. Yup. Instead of cooking things at a slow pace, it speeds up the cooking time via pressure. Beans cook in merely a few minutes, which saves money, time, electricity and gas. It is still wise to soak the beans beforehand to assure the quick cooking.

So when you soak the beans over night, marinate the tofu with the Braggs, liquid smoke, vinegar, and seasonings. The following day, add everything into the pot except the tomato sauce. According to my Fagor Rapid Express, the acidity in the tomatoes can break down the foot too swiftly. Therefore, add anything highly acidic last. So, according to the directions of my pressure cooker, I simply added everything except for the tomato sauce and margarine into the pot and let it cook for 7 to 8 minutes. I released the steam, then added the tomato sauce. I resealed everything and let it cook for an additional 3 minutes then, once again, released the steam.

When everything was ready, I piled the beans on a mountain of brown rice and indulged. The flavors were so reminiscent of New Orleans, I nearly cried.

I’ve also taken pictures (being the Ann Rice junkie I am) of me “frolicking” around Lafayette cemetery and drinking coffee in the café Ann Rice frequented during her novel writing days. New Orleans is just - wow. There’s another dish that I’m dying to recreate: Celeriac Beet Salad. A dish I indulged upon at NOLA. That blew the red fish maque choux out of the water. Seriously, I could have just eaten two dishes of that and I was fine.

Stay tuned for more recipes that I’ll, at some point, find time in posting especially Christmas Goodies!!

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