Archive for the ‘Chinese Five Spice’ category

Oprah, Slate and Five Spice

May 22nd, 2008

For the past few days there has been talk of Oprah Winfrey going vegan for 21 days on the advice of author and advisor Kathy Freston and her book Quantum Wellness which excludes sugar, gluten, alcohol, meat, chicken, fish, eggs and cheese for a “21 Day Cleanse”.     Oprah is very influential over people, especially 40-60 year old women.   This could be good or bad, Oprah could end this at 21 days and make this the new Oprah fad diet.  She will choose the book by Freston as her book club book.  This will kick of the phase of every 40-something housewife thinking veganism is cool without looking at the longterm benefits only to stop at the 21 day mark.   Maybe I am wrong and Oprah will come to the end point only to realize how good this is for her and continue.   Either way it is good that veganism is getting the attention it needs.   Tofu will start flying off the shelves once Oprah gets started.  I have seen more than once the past day or so someone stating “Oprah goes Vegan!”, if you take vegan to mean absolutely no animal products then they are not making a true statement.  Oprah is still wearing leather.  She is wearing silk.   Nowhere has she stated she has gone vegan, just a vegan diet.  So those people should say “Oprah Eats Vegan!”, not that she consumes a vegan but, well, you understand and I am being picky.  So, to put it the proper way, “Oprah has decided to eat vegan for three weeks.”  Does this mean vegan chefs will appear for the next three weeks on Oprah?  Vegan guests?

Oprah’s blog has a link to recipes for “The 21-day Cleanse”.  One recipe, Artichoke and Oyster Mushroom Rockefeller, has alcohol listed as an ingredient.  Oversight?

Hopefully, Oprah will be able to educate people about the advantages of a vegan diet.  And maybe she’ll be able to stick with it beyond 21 days.

Also making the rounds for the last week is an article at Slate written by a vegetarian .  The writer talks of going vegetarian at 18 and announcing it to the cringes of friends and family.   While the article can be entertaining he has one glaring point that I am in disagreement with.  When mentioning bacon and whether he craves bacon he says:

“We’re not insane. We know meat tastes good; it’s why there’s a freezer case at your supermarket full of woefully inadequate meat substitutes.”

No, I don’t think or know meat tastes good, and I am not insane.  Don’t speak for all of us.  That is the most asinine  statement I have heard in some time.   If he thinks the substitutes are inadequate then why is he bothering with them?  Also, he needs to look a little harder as there are some great items that he apparently hasn’t found.  There are some good points in the rest of his little essay but that one rubs me wrong.

On the cooking front I haven’t made anything groundbreaking.  I did make stir-fry last night using whole wheat spaghetti in place of udon noodles.  It works quite well.   Just cook the spaghetti until still tough and uncooked in the middle, not quite al dente, drain and fry along with your veggies in sesame oil and the seasoning you prefer.  I used Chinese Five Spice sauce of which I bought about five jars of on my last trip to Trader Joe’s.   Five spice is overall my favorite Chinese sauce and I have made it myself but the Trader Joe’s version works well.   If you do decide to make your own you will need star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves and fennel.  Some variations alternate fennel for ginger.  The basic recipe I use:

2 Star Anise

1 TSP Cinnamon

1 TSP Fennel

2 TSP Szechuan Peppercorns

1 TSP Cloves

Heat the Szechuan peppercorns in a dry pan for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat until you can smell the aroma.  Place all of the spices in a grinder and grind to a fine powder.  This makes enough for one use usually.   You can make in bulk and store tightly covered.  To make a sauce from the spice mixture add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari, 2 tablespoons orange juice and 1/2 cup of water in a pan along with the spice mixture and heat until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce thickens a bit.

Now off you go to Whole Foods for some Szechuan peppercorns and be sure to watch out for Oprah fans in the tofu aisle.