Ingredient 13 – Chinese red dates

(Bonus best before December 2009 date shot)

I have to confess straightaway that this one is cheating slightly on my theme. Actually, I don’t, because you’d never know, but I’m an honest soul. I have used these just once before, a very long time ago, but I felt like they still fitted in with my theme because I’ve had them cluttering up the cupboard and I had no idea what to do with them. Last time I made Lo Han Jai (Buddha’s Delight) but I didn’t enjoy it enough to make it again but never found another way to use them. There’ll be another cheat ingredient from that dish coming up later in the month too.

I had planned to make a vegan version of this dish using chicken flavoured seitan, but I wasn’t feeling very well and MoFo madness was taking its toll a bit. I searched the internet to see how else I might use them and found that like many other Chinese ingredients they are considered to have many health benefits and are often used as part of tea or soup. Perfect. I Poured a mug full of boiling water over 6 dried red dates, a couple of small chunks of ginger and a sprinkle of brown sugar. I let it steep for a while and prodded the dates a few times to get the flavour out.

This was a very nice simple drink and while I can’t say that my health improved dramatically it did seem to soothe my throat a touch. I still intend to make the chicken style dish too so I’ll update the blog with info when I do.

Have you used Chinese dates? What did you use them for?

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Cookbook Winner and VeganMoFo

Hi all. I just realised that although I did pick out the winner of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day and I sent the book off, I forgot to update you here. The book has gone to Nova in Ireland and I hope she’s loving it as much as I do.

Tomorrow marks the start of the annual VeganMoFo. I have taken part for the last four years. The first year I just posted something different everyday. Second year I reviewed a different cookbook everyday. Third year I focused on a different thing I like every day. Last year Tami and I shared out the load and made a different dish from the Horizons cookbooks everyday. We still update that blog every so often by the way, so if you have the books and want to see what we’ve made, have a look there.

This year I have a new theme and I’m really excited about it. I have a kitchen stuffed full of ingredients and some of them are well used and some of them are untouched. These untouched ingredients have arrived for a number of reasons. Firstly, I might buy something for a specific reason or dish but then never get round to making it – then I usually forget what it was. Secondly, I buy the ingredient because it looks interesting or intriguing and then forget all about it. Finally,  I ask for things in food parcel swaps from abroad and then don’t use them!

So my theme for MoFo this year is using up all these ingredients. A different one each day. It should have a joint purpose – clearing out some of my cupboards and hopefully finding new fun ingredients and ways to use them on the way. Some of them have been there years so if I don’t use them this month they’re going in the bin, because I never will! Some of the ingredients will be familiar to you, but new to me, and some of them are just plain weird. So I’ll be asking if you’ve used any of the ingredients and how on the way too. I hope we all have fun!