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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
 Vegetarian Cooking with Zel

This month I want to share two recipes for powering your way through the heat of those blazing hot summer days. Here you'll find tempting treats to keep up your spirits--a delicious plum salad and a refreshing hibiscus iced tea.

Nothing beats the sweet, juicy burst of flavor of a tasty plum when it's at its peak of ripeness! Sometimes, it's even a little messy as it drips splashes of burgundy juices onto my hand. Actually, that's when the plum makes me love it even more because I get to lick my fingers.

When plums are at the peak of their season, they can be found in almost every color and level of sweet, tart, or tangy flavors. July and August is that ideal time to scour the markets for some adventurous plum shopping. My goal was to create a simple plum salad consisting solely of plums, flavored with an infusion of exotic condiments.

For this recipe, I chose one or two plums of each of six varieties found at the local market. I specifically looked for a good variety of colors, focusing on the flesh colors as well as skins of the plums. The preparation will take no more than 10 minutes--maybe 15 if you're a slow chopper.

I hope you enjoy this tasty little fruit treat that even the kids will enjoy. It's so easy, maybe the kids would even have fun preparing it!

Plum Salad in Pomegranate-Infused Syrup


Yield: about 4 to 5 servings

    1 1/2 pounds (680 g) plums, chopped

    2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
    1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon rose water

Combine the plums in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the pomegranate molasses, balsamic vinegar, and rose water and mix well. Pour the syrup over the plums and mix well.

Note: For sweeter syrup, add 1 or 2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar.

Here's a pleasing beverage you can look forward to enjoying during these sizzling hot summer days and nights. My family likes this tangy chilled tea without any sweetener and claims it really does bring refreshing relief from the boiling heat. It's so easy to make I keep a pitcher chilling in the fridge regularly.

Jamaica (Hibiscus Flowers) Hibiscus Iced Tea


Yield: One 2-quart (2 liter) pitcher

    4 heaping tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
    1 large tea ball infuser
    2-quart (2 liter) saucepan
    4 cups (1 liter) of ice cubes
    Sweetener optional

  1. Fill the tea ball infuser with the dried hibiscus flowers, replace the cover, and put the tea ball in the saucepan. Add about 4 cups (1liter) of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Set aside to steep for about 15 minutes.
  2. Put the ice cubes in the pitcher and pour in the steeped hibiscus tea. Fill the pitcher with water and refrigerate until chilled.
  3. If serving immediately, fill the pitcher partly and add more ice cubes, stirring until chilled.
Note: Dried hibiscus flowers are readily available in 2-ounce (57g) packages labled Don Enrique Jamaica from www. Melissas.com and at Hispanic markets and Middle Eastern groceries. You can also order some from Amazon.com or Starwest Botanicals http://www.starwest-botanicals.com

A tea ball infuser is available in most stores that specialize in housewares.

If you're a thrifty kitchen elf, here's a helpful tip: The used hibiscus flowers will easily make a second pitcher of tea, though the tea will be much milder.

Click here for past cookingwithzel@home.comeonin recipes

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