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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including:better health, animal welfare, food safety, public health, frugal living, food and water security and the immense contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change.

In order to mitigate and adapt to climate change we will all have to make some adjustments to our lifestyles. We can wait until the changes are forced upon us or make the adjustments on our own terms and become part of the solution. We now know that livestock production is one of the greatest contributors to climate change, land degradation and water pollution; by reducing or eliminating meat consumption we become one of those leading the way to a safer, healthier future.

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution-oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health. Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis. Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney (Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat. We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

Tonight join me on a virtual taste trip to Jamaica, just because we all need to get away to a beautiful warm beach sometime and there's no easier and greener way to get there than to prepare a lovely island feast and let your taste buds transport you.

JAMAICAN CALLALOO and BEAN SOUP
Fiery Jamaican soup guaranteed to warm you up. Serves 3-4 as entree with some crunchy bread.

3 cups vegetable broth
1 large can Bean Medley, rinsed (if can't find medley use kidney, white or favorite bean)
1 large onion diced
1 potato
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
8 cups Jamaican callaloo or use collards, mustard greens or even kale
1/4 cup parsley leaves with stems
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper or any fresh hot pepper
1 diced sweet potato
2 scallions (spring / green onions)
1 tablespoon thyme

Start by prepping the ingredients ... wash, chop and dice. The sweet potato is peeled and diced as you would any regular potato and try to cube them in the same sizes. Remember to wear gloves when handling the scotch bonnet pepper, wash your hands with soap and do not include any of the seeds. That’s where the real fire is when it comes to such lethal peppers.

Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot on medium heat, then add the diced onion, garlic, parsley, thyme and scotch bonnet pepper. Turn the heat down to low and let that gently cook for about 3-5 minutes. We’re creating a lovely base for the soup at this point.

Wash, drain and trim the callaloo (cut into smaller pieces) ... feel free to use any tender stems if you wish. Tough stems will not cook down and will give the soup a woody texture. Now add all the chopped callaloo to the pot and give it a good stir. It will wilt down as it cooks.

Add the cubed potatoes and all the other ingredients to the pot. Bring that up to a boil and reduce with the cover slightly ajar to a rolling boil for about 20-25 minutes.

Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. The vegetables will still have their shape; if you want to thicken it up a bit use a whisk to break things down a little so it will thicken up.

CARIBBEAN SQUASH and PLANTAIN CURRY with ROTI
You will definitely feel a soft, warm island breeze as you serve this sweet and savory curry. Serves 4

    3 tbsp vegetable oil
    2 lb. squash or pumpkin peeled, deseeded & chopped into 2 cm cubes
    1 plantain peeled & sliced into diagonal 1cm coins
    1 large onion chopped
    1 red pepper deseeded & chopped into rough squares
    1 large tomato chopped
    2 or 3 cloves garlic chopped
    1 scotch bonnet chilli chopped (You can use any fresh chilli)
    1 tbsp ginger paste or fresh grated ginger
    1/2 tbsp curry paste (whatever you have)
    1 tbsp tomato paste
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp dried oregano
    3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
    2 bay leaves
    a pinch of ground cloves
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp curry powder
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    the zest of 1/2 lime
    2 cups vegetable stock (you may want to use more)
    1/2 tin coconut milk about 1 cup ( You can use more if you like)
    lime juice to taste 1/2 to 1 whole lime
    a handful of fresh coriander chopped plus extra for garnish
    salt & black pepper

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan add the onion and saute for 2 minutes over a medium heat until softened then add the garlic, ginger and chili. Add the sliced plantain and fry for a minute. Add the curry paste, tomato paste and the rest of the herbs and spices, apart from the lime juice and fresh coriander, stirring constantly. Then add the squash, red pepper and fresh tomato and pour over the stock and coconut milk, Turn up the heat and bring to the boil seasoning generously with salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is soft, stirring occasionally.

By now your curry should be ready, the squash cooked and the plantain kind of melted into the sauce. Add the lime juice and fresh coriander and taste for seasoning. You may need more salt or you might want to add more veg stock if you like it more liquidy. Serve the curry garnished with fresh coriander, lime wedges and the warm, folded rotis on the side.

Roti Bread Recipe
Makes 8  

    5oo gr (about 1 lb.) plain flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    6 oz. butter diced or use vegan butter
    about 6 oz. water
    veg oil for frying

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and salt in to a large bowl. Add the diced butter and rub it into the flour mixture with you fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs (you can do this in a food processor on slow). Slowly add the water bit by bit and mix together with you hands to form a ball of dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 2 or 3 minutes then put it in a bowl covered with a clean tea towel and leave it for about 30 minutes.

While the curry is cooking, go back to you roti dough, knead it again and cut it into quarters, then into eighths and roll them into balls. Flour the work surface and the rolling pin and start rolling out your rotis as thinly as possible (really thin). They don’t have to be a perfect circle that’s part of the charm. Make a pile of rotis flouring well in between each one so they don’t stick together.

Brush a large frying pan with oil, heat it up until hot and cook the rotis for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. They should bubble up and brown slightly. Brush the pan with oil in between each one. Cover the cooked rotis with a tea towel while you cook the rest.

BLACK BEAN TOSTADAS with FRUIT SALSA
Quick and easy taste of the Caribbean. Marinating onions in lime juice for just 15 minutes develops the flavors of a quick-stir fruit salsa.

    ½ cup chopped white onion, plus ⅓ cup minced white onion, divided
    1 Tbs. lime juice
    ¼ tsp. salt
    3 medium kiwifruit, peeled and diced or use mango, pineapple, peach etc.
    ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
    1 Tbs. finely chopped jalapeno chile
    3 dried New Mexico chiles, seeded and cut into small pieces
    2 tsp. olive oil
    1 15-oz. can black beans, drained, liquid reserved
    4 tostada shells
    1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt or use vegan yogurt

1. Toss together chopped onion, lime juice and salt in bowl. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in kiwifruit, cilantro and jalapeño.

2. Grind dried chiles to fine particles (like sugar) in spice mill or coffee grinder; set aside.

3. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add minced onion, cover and cook 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add beans, ½ cup reserved bean liquid, and 2½ tsp. ground chiles. Mash beans, leaving some whole for texture. Cook 5 minutes, or until mixture is thickened, but moist, stirring often.

4. Place 1 tostada shell on each plate. Divide bean mixture among tostadas, leaving ½-inch border. Top each with 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/4 cup salsa; dust with ground chiles. Serve with remaining salsa.

JAMAICAN TEMPEH PATTIES
Hand pies are everywhere in Jamaica; whether savory or sweet they are a delicious portable meal to be carried around as you catch the sights. Thanks Vegetarian Times!
Try these savory turnovers filled with drained Callaloo

    Crust
    3 cups flour
    1 Tbs. curry powder
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    4 oz. vegan margarine, cut into pieces

    Filling
    1 Tbs. canola oil
    1 small onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
    3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
    1 8-oz. pkg. tempeh, crumbled
    2 tsp. curry powder
    2 tsp. chili powder
    1 tsp. dried oregano
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    1/2 tsp. ground allspice, optional
    1/4 cup dark rum, optional
    1/2 cup chopped green onions

To make crust: Combine flour, curry powder, salt and baking powder in food processor. Add margarine, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3/4 cup cold water; process until dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1 hour.

To make Filling: Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Add tempeh, curry powder, chili powder, oregano, thyme, allspice, if desired, and 1 1/2 cups water. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in rum, if desired, and cook until liquid has evaporated. Cool, then stir in green onions.

Preheat oven to 400°F, and coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 6-inch circles. Brush edges of circles with water, and place 1 1/2 Tbs. filling in centers. Fold circles in half, crimping edges with fork tines to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet, and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden.

JAMAICAN JERK SEASONING BLEND
Now you can always be prepared for a virtual island getaway by having your own homemade Jerk seasoning at hand.

    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
    2 teaspoons onion powder
    2 teaspoons dried thyme
    2 teaspoons dried parsley
    2 teaspoons sugar
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

CARIBBEAN JERK CHILI
Be transported to a sunny Caribbean beach with this flavorful chili using homemade Jerk seasoning.

    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 ribs celery, diced
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
    1 onion, diced
    2 rounded teaspoonfuls Jamaican Jerk Seasoning (recipe above)
    ¾ cup coconut milk
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    1-2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
    3 (14 oz.) cans beans, drained and rinsed (use your fave beans, I like small red here) or use mix
    Water, to cover
    1 mango, peeled and diced
    ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.

Saute garlic, celery, onion and bell pepper about 3 minutes until they begin to soften.

Add Jamaican Jerk seasoning, starting with a bit at a time.

Add coconut milk, tomato paste, rinsed beans and lime juice. Stir to combine well.

Taste for seasoning and add more Jerk if necessary. Remember: It’s easier to add heat than take it away!

Cover pot, reduce heat to minimum and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in half of the diced mango and half of the minced cilantro. Stir to combine. Replace cover and let simmer another 10 minutes.

Serve over rice with fresh mango and cilantro to garnish.

PINA COLADA BARS
I had to add these because I have no will power and Vegetarian Times does know how to do desserts ... yummy!

Crust

    2 cups vegan vanilla wafer cookies
    1 Tbs. canola oil
    1 Tbs. unsweetened almond milk

Coconut Layer

    1 12-oz pkg. extra-firm silken tofu, drained
    1 ripe medium banana
    ½ cup low-fat coconut milk
    ⅔ cup sugar
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    2 Tbs. coconut oil
    2 Tbs. cornstarch
    1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
    ½ tsp. sea salt
    1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Topping

    2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
    ¼ cup sugar
    2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
    1 Tbs. cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and coat 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

2. To prepare crust: Pulse cookies into crumbs in food processor. Transfer to bowl, and mix in canola oil and almond milk. Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 8 minutes, then cool.

3. To make coconut layer: Blend tofu, banana, coconut milk, sugar, lemon juice, coconut oil, cornstarch, vanilla and salt in blender until very smooth, occasionally scraping down sides with rubber spatula. Transfer to bowl, and fold in shredded coconut. Pour over crust in pan. Bake 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until top is lightly puffed and edges pull away from pan. Cool on wire rack.

4. To make topping: Bring pineapple, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Pour mixture over coconut layer.

5. Cool until topping is no longer steaming and baking pan is cool to touch. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 3 hours. Slice into 12 bars with thin metal spatula dipped in water.

"She's Leaving Home," The Beatles:

"Home (When Shadows Fall)," Paul McCartney:

What have you all been cooking? Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!

Originally posted to Meatless Advocates Meetup on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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