Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Shameless Plug, but Please Pay it Some Mind

My friend Brandon is the director of this organization called Amizade which is headquartered here in Pittsburgh.  They do so much good work around the world -- their web site doesn't actually spend the time it should tooting its own horn.  One of the big things they do is help people have access to clean water by building water tanks so that people -- in particular, women and children -- don't have to walk miles every day to get clean water.  They are a service-oriented group whose primary interest is in being a good global citizen.  I admire their work very much.  Also, you may remember Brandon from this entry!

That said, for the next 48 hours, you can donate $50 without paying anything or doing much.  The company that prints their t-shirts is giving $200k to whatever charity folks nominate.  PLEASE, if you're awesome, do this.  The money you manage to get donated to them makes a huge difference!  Also, it puts them in the runnning to win another $50K.  Money like that would absolutely change what this group could do in the world for the better (giving them the ability to do so much more).  I've heard Brandon fighting on the phone with corporations about air fares and so forth.  Please do this!

1.  Click this: http://apps.facebook.com/gildanisupportcontes/contests/91387/voteable_entries
2.  Click "Submit Your Own Entry to nominate Amizade, then you will have to allow the Gildan app to access your Facebook.  I promise they won't do anything evil and you can uninstall the app after the contest is over (in two days).
3.  Fill out the entry form, nominate (+submit your own entry) Amizade Global Service-Learning.  Here you can write about why you support this organization.  I did this, but I inderstand if you don't want to.  However, read their web site (linked above).  This is a group that only does good, and they really deserve recognition and support.  For some reason, they also want you to upload a picture of yourself.  I didn't do that, though.  What you write helps the judges decide to whom to give that extra $50k.
4.  Vote and leave comments!  You can vote for the other things Amizade are nominated for.
5.  Now -- and this is important!!!  A gift card will come in your email.  Mine was in the spam folder on gmail.  And it doesn't happen immediately!  You'll get it within a few hours.  It'll say something about a "Gildan Good Card" in the subject, I think.  Click the link in the email, search for Amizade, Ltd, and enter your promo code. 

Presto!  You've done your good deed for the day!  For real, you know I'm not really the "promote stuff" kind of a person, but I really feel that THIS is worth it.  It's only a little annoying, and you're giving $50 to a service organization that can really, really use it.  It ends at the end of this month, though.  Do it today, and pass it along to your friends.

And thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cornucopia or She Who Dies with the Most Extracts Wins

Dude, I did it again.  I almost went an entire month without posting.  I have no excuse, really, except that it's too hot to put the laptop on my lap in my living room.  Well, I guess I'm just gonna have another long-ass post. 

Cooking this summer has involved a lot more of trying to use up what I've got on hand than it did during summers without a CSA.  I also have a tomato and a basil plant for the first time in my life.  It's crazy.  You open my fridge and there's a damn cornucopia in there -- not to mention bright red home-brewed pomegranate iced tea.  Actually, right after my last shopping trip, I took a picture of SOME of my veggies (and fruits).
OK, most of that didn't come from the CSA.  But the zucchini, little carrot you can see on the left, peppers on the right, little red onion, and many other things which are not pictured all DID come from the CSA.  This picture is actually getting a little ahead of myself.  I haven't even taken pictures of that I made with these yet.  Let's go back, oh, say, two to three weeks, shall we?

So, remember I made that BBQ sauce for the BBQ seitan Cheater Mac?  Well, I still had a bunch leftover, and, of course, tons of zucchini.  So I grilled some pressed tofu and sliced zucchini and served it over rice.  I also had a CSA tomato that was starting to get past its due, so I made what I call "Lazy Bruschetta."  There's no proper recipe for this simple thing.  Toast some bread, wipe a clove of garlic over the top of it, chop up a tomato pretty lazily and put it on top.  Spray or drizzle a bit of olive oil, some salt, some pepper, grab a basil leaf from the porch and chop it and put it on top -- viola!  Lazy, lazy.  But delicious.

I was craving scrambled tofu so I bought some mushrooms, because I really enjoy mushrooms in it.  Also included: onions and peppers.  Ate it for breakfast along with -- guess what?  Zucchini!  Yep.  I just had them fried and reheated them in the microwave or ate 'em cold.

So, then, I had mushrooms leftover.  Not that I ever allow any part of a mushroom go to waste -- I save every stem, every unused bit in my freezer to make mushroom stock later.  But still, I had some leftover mushrooms, and the summer had decided to not be too hot a few weekends ago, so I thought I'd make pizza.  I made, almost exactly, Isa Pizza from Vegan with a Vengeance.  The only thing I didn't make was sauce because I had a jar of sauce I wanted to use.  And also, I had mushrooms and CSA tomatoes, so I put them on top.  But the crust, the pesto, the tofu ricotta -- all from the book.

I had an issue, though.  I never made her pesto before, and it calls for a teaspoon and a half of coarse salt.  It practically ruined the pizza.  I think it needs half as much -- of fine salt.  I ended up picking the pesto off most of it when I ate it.  It looks cool, though, don't you think?

Not sure if you guys have heard, but did you know that she who dies with the most extracts wins?  That's why I decided to purchase a variety of extracts off Amazon.com.  I was already a woman whose pantry you would look into and be like, "Wow, you have a lot of extracts."  But now I think I win!
What really motivated me to want all these extracts was ice cream.  Think of all the ice cream, people!  Oh em gee!!  Now, ever since I was a little kid, I have loooooved cherry.  I think all little kids like cherry.  It's red, and it's sweet.  And as a youngster living in Philly, we lived right by a water ice place.  A what place?, you ask.  I've learned since moving to Pittsburgh that only Philadelphians call water ice "water ice"(which they pronounce "wooder ice").  Everyone else calls it "Italian ice."  But it's NOT Italian ice!  That's actually something different -- less sweet, more icy, less juicy.  Water ice is what Rita's sells besides ice cream.  What does Rita's call it?  Someone find that out for me, will you?  It's vegan, it's really good, and as a kid, we'd walk over and get some, not from Rita's, but from a real Philly place.  Oh, I tried all the flavors.  But I always returned to cherry, because I love me some cherry.

Now, when I say that I love me some cherry, I mean ALL cherry.  I love bing cherries, I love cherries on the bottom of my soy yogurt, I love maraschino cherries even though for some reason people say that they're basically poison (don't know why).  So I was super-excited to get cherry extract so I could make vanilla bean cherry ice cream with both real cherries and extract.  I used a tablespoon for two batches of the Veganomicon-style ice cream (I always make two batches because what is the point of using half a box of silken tofu?), and it was a bit much.  The extract is really expensive, and the bottles very tiny, and I'd say that 1/2 a tablespoon in two batches would do the trick next time.  However, I am really not complaining.  It is sooooo good!  It tastes like what, in Philly, they call a "gelato" -- where you put cherry water ice in with vanilla ice cream and it's so good that you freak out.  Except the two flavors are already mixed.  And vegan.  I toasted some coconut to sprinkle on top along with chocolate chips (chocolate cherry, OMG).  And, I'm not gonna lie, I used some food coloring in the ice cream.

Unfortunately, you can't really see the chunks of cherry in there.  So good.  I'm gonna go eat some in a minute, but first I want to just put a question out there.  So Rita's, and Petrucci's, and all other water ice places, they all make (or, umm, get shipped) cherry water ice.  And it's not overly expensive, either.  And the flavoring is exactly like this extract.  So, what I want to know is, what are they using?  Is it an extract liquid?  Where can I get some?  This stuff is too expensive!
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