I am a lacto-vegetarian with an appetite for life and travel.

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  • Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Last bite on earth: Anything with cheese - cheese pizza, mac & cheese, grill cheese sandwich, goat cheese toasts...

Freezing tofu before frying---

I have heard of it... but never tried it. I will now. Any kind of tofu works??? Or does it need to be firm/extra firm only???

Tea Recommendations

I also enjoy a lot rooibos tea, which when taken with milk, reminds me a lot of chai masala or chai latte, as starbucks calls it. The spicy notes are delicious and very dessert-like for me. I like to make my own chai mixture because I can't have caffeine.

Tea Recommendations

to me, the best dessert tea or after-dinner tea is spearmint infusion. Just add spearmint leaves to a pot of boiling water. It's a great digestif and delicious!!!

Surviving Vegas

I had a really good time at Mesa Grill in Ceasar's Palace. I went to several "celebrity" restaurants and this was the BEST by far!!!

Ideas for egglant puree other than baba ghanoush

you could try to use it in "meatballs". or even as part of a sauce for pasta!!!

What food would you miss most as a vegan?

dairy... cheese and yogurt mostly!!

Regular dinner in Spain

Where in Spain will she be living?

Tortilla, very much what people have described above, the potato/egg fritatta-type dish is ubiquitous to Spain. You find and eat those everywhere. But there are regional things that you see more in some place than others.

Pan con Tomate (bread with raw tomato rubbed into it) is something my friends in Barcelona have frequently, but you don't see it as much in the north.

need NYC foodstuffs to take back home & food recs

I love to do some grocery shopping every time I visit NYC. I love to visit the Union Square GreenMarket to buy raw honey, garlic/rosemary jelly and some other goodies I can't find back home.

My new obsession are the Trader Joe's dried/unsulfured mangoes!!!!!!!I am bringing a whole suitcase of those on my next visit. you can count on it.

Best Bottled Products not made by a Name Brand Co.?

I love going to the Union Square StreetMarket to buy stuff from small providers... i love these jams/jellies and raw honey.

New Ways to Prepare Oatmeal

I have made oatmeal with almond milk... also added carob powder and dried cranberries. I guess chocolate might work well too.

If you want to consumer oatmeal in other ways... you can just add it raw to your smoothies or use it as a breading element for eggplants or other breaded dishes.

Best Cardamom Substitute

where do you live??? I just bought a 7oz bag of cardamom pods for $5 at an Indian neighborhood in Queens, NYC. Not that expensive for a flavor that is not easily substituted by anything else.

Avocado's Can Be Heaven

Avocados just by themselves are considered a salad in our family. If an avocado is creamy and buttery, it will not need anything at all. Of course, Fuerte avocados are the avocados I am most familiar with.

I love avocados chopped really little, mixed in with tomatoes to make it into a sorta salad dressing/sauce. And they can be absolutely heavenly inside a sandwich with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

Substitute for dry white wine?

you could also use a dash of white balsamic vinegar...

Yam or Sweet Potato For You?

Vegetable side dish for Friendsgiving?

Pairing ingredients with fennel

I make a delicious vegetable pot pie that has fennel in it.

dishwasher vs. hand-washing dishes?

never had a dishwasher in my life... but sometimes I wish I had one, especially after having a dinner party. It would come in handy.

Thanksgiving Food Traditions

And always at our former traditional Thanksgiving lunch table, we would always have potato salad. I once made it for a Thanksgiving dinner I had when I was studying in the US and my friend told me that potato salads are only served in Summer. Well... in Puerto Rico, we serve them for any special occasion, especially Thanksgiving and Xmas.

Thanksgiving Food Traditions

Since I became a vegetarian, I've had to create new traditions of my own. Now I am the one cooking the Thanksgiving menu. I try to use fall flavors as much as I can. In year's past I have come up with a Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Pumpkin Risotto, Wild Mushroom Lasagna, a Phyllo Pie filled with pumpkin and Spinach and this year's star is Orzo with Roasted Pumpkins, Goat Cheese and Cranberries. Yum!!

Yes or No....Slow Cooker Mashies

no need to cook a potato on a slow cooker. If you don't use too much water, they par-boil/par-steam and they're ready in about 20 mins. Slow cooker will just make them potato soup possibly.

Sunday Supper: Crispy, Shredded Cuban Beef With Pan-Fried Onions and Plantains

sorry... but those plantains look like their still unripe. Those are not caramelized plantains. They may be fried, but at least they're "pintones", or not fully ripen. A ripe plantain will have a much softer texture.

Those look like they need to be smashed and re-fried for tostones.

butter vs vegetable oil

you could also use another oil... like grapeseed oil if you rather not use vegetable oil.

Cooking music

I usually play my iPod's 25 Most Popular Playlist and get lost in the cooking while singing!!!

Will raw garlic cook once pureed in a mash?

use it in any cooking preparation that calls for minced garlic...

When dining out: are you too quick to criticize?

I guess when you're paying, expectations come with the territory. It all depends on the expectation the diner and the restaurant made prior to that diner's visit. My expectations will never be the same of a dinner at Per Sé than a dinner at a pizza joint.

Vegetarian Lasagna Throwdown - Ideas to win over any meaty one?

I am planning my nephew's second birthday... and we're doing mostly a family get-together on Saturday. I am making a vegetable lasagna, a salad, baked plantains and garlic bread. Someone else will be making a meat/red sauce lasagna.

I want my vegetable lasagna to BLOW THE HEAD OUT of that other lasagna. I am the aunt plus I want to make a statement that a vegetable lasagna can certainly kick the butt of a meaty one.

I usually go with a spinach, almonds and white sauce lasagna, but somehow that seems too simple... what are your ideas?????

Best and Fave ways to have Yukon Golds??

Even though I had an almost new 5lb bag of red skinned potatoes, I bought another 5lb bag of Yukon Golds yesterday.

What are you favorite ways to prepare Yukon Golds that no other potato will ever do as well???? Remember vegetarian recipes are mostly appreciated...

Now that you're updating and fine-tuning the site...

Just a suggestion... It would be awesome if I could access via my profile page the messages where people address me specifically.

Say, when I comment on a topic if someone addresses a message to me by writing @karmafreecooking... that I would have a centralized place to find those and be able to address people's comments/questions. it's hard to keep track of the topics I've commented on and to a conversation going if I do not know the conversation is happening in the first place.

do any of you readers agree this would help???

Truffle Oil - Yeah or Neah????

I am borrowing a trusted format here to understand your feeling about truffle oil.

I have heard and read every gamut of opinions - from it being the most luscious and delectable thing ever created... to Scott Conan saying truffle oil has no business in any fine dining establishment because they're not made from real truffles.

All I know... the last few times I have eaten anything truffle, i tend to get acid attacks!!! So now, when people push on me truffle oil when in a restuarant, I am not impressed.

Is it that my tastebuds are not very refined?? Am i just not ready for such a delicacy?? Or are you on Scott Conant's side and think truffle oil is something that's does not belong on our food?


FYI to Serious Eats on Latin Cooking...

Lately I have been reading LOTS of reviews on tacos and Mexican cooking on the site. Just as an FYI... there's more to Latin cooking than just tacos. Just saying...

I know Mexicans account for approximately 70% of the Latin/Hispanic community in the US, but there is more to Latin America and its flavors than just tortillas in all their iterations.

Do you, fellow readers, agree???

Need some awesome Vegetarian Poutine STAT!!!!

In a serendipitous turn of events, I will be visiting Quebec City and Montreal very soon... and given this sudden switch in travel plans, I am realizing I do not have time to do my Canadian food research as I would normally do.

I know I want to try a great vegetarian poutine... what other Canadian VEGETARIAN delicacies should I also try during my upcoming trip???

My travel companions are not vegetarian, but any recommendations should have plenty vegeterian options for me. I get hungry when I travel. :)


Food Waste... who's really to blame???

I saw yesterday this FoodNetwork Special called The Big Waste. It was impactful to see all the waste that goes on in the food industry in the US. All the flour wasted from bakeries, the animals people don't want and the produce that is "not as perfect"people are not purchasing. It enraged me to see how much supermarkets throw out everyday because people are "not interested to buy" certain products if they have a small blemish.

At first I was upset at people for being so wasteful in farms and discarding perfectly good food. But then I thought... who's really creating the waste?? Is it the regular consumer who discard it or is it the butcher and the farmer who are not looking for ways to market us these "rejects", which according to them are perfectly fine??? Sure it takes a little bit more effort and time, but why discard good tomatoes into the compost heep instead of putting them all together and selling them cheaper to those who are willing to buy them?

Bobby Flay, Michael Symon, Anne Burrel and Alex Guarnaschelli did a meal made out of foods supposed to be waste the next day. But was this waste because people were wasting it... or was it waste because the businesses did not want to use it anymore??

Did u see the special??? Who's more at fault here - the consumer, the purveyors or both?? Any thoughts???

Coquito Too!!!

This my upgraded recipe for coquito, the Puerto Rican version of eggnog. It has 4 types of milks - evaporated, condensed, coconut milk and coconut cream. Its easy to make and the holidays in PR would not be the same without it...

Pizza and FlatBread... what's the difference??

A poll in SLICE today brought to the forefront a question I have had for a long time... What's the real difference between a Pizza and a FlatBread??

Most flatbread recipes I see around start with pizza dough... Most flatbreads I see do not include cheese necesarily, but then again there are cheese-less pizzas too... So is there really a difference??

What makes a pizza a pizza and a flatbread a flatbread?? Is this just semantics?? Or a way to bring more haute-ness and charge more for something we all know and love???

I tried to look for an answer among Kenji's 200+ question/answer article, but I couldn't find anything there. Share in your POV on this... Gracias.

Can I Freeze an Avocado???

We're in avocado season and we have all these avocados ripening all at the same time. I am eating avocados in every meal possible... but there's so much guacamole I can eat in one day.

Have you had any experience FREEZING avocados?? Does it work?? Should I mash them before freezing? Should I freeze the whole fruit? Is this a bad idea???

Please help me and my aunt who are drowning in avocados... and would like to save some for later use if possible.

Mushroom Catsup--

So, I made some mushroom catsup, and while it is fascinating and tasty, I really have no idea what to do with it. I've used it as steak/burger sauce, and in bloody marys (AMAZING), but I can't think of any... More

Where New Vegetarian Roy Choi Eats in Los Angeles

When Roy Choi recently announced that he's going vegetarian, the food world freaked out a little. Wait, the same dude who made Korean short rib sliders and pork belly tacos a thing? The Korean-American chef who started the Kogi truck back in 2008 (there's now a fleet of five trucks plus four brick-and-mortar restaurants, and he's working on a memoir, Spaghetti Junction) shared the news on his blog, Riding Shotgun. He wrote: "Animals be talking to me. They told me... stop. Stop, Roy. Please." Choi told us about his favorite spots for meatfree eating in Los Angeles. More

Latin American Cuisine: Patacónes con Hogao (Fried Plantains with Tomato-onion Sauce)

I can't get enough of plantains, which is a good thing because Colombians eat them by the mocilla-ful. Over the course of this series, they'll show up in multiple forms. Black-skinned and sweet, roasted with guava paste and cheese, green-skinned and starchy, boiled into a thick soup, or shaped into cups and filled with ceviche. This week, however, we're talking patacones, which, depending on exactly where you are, are also called tostones. More

Bread Baking: Corn and Cheddar Muffins

Ah, summer. The heat doesn't stop me from baking, but it does make me think about seasonal ingredients. The farmers' market is bursting with fresh produce but it's hard to translate some of them into bread. What about corn, you say? Throw some fresh corn along with the cornmeal into the muffin batter. More

The Serious Eats Guide to Food Photography

The thing is, food blog photography is completely different from professional food photography. Most of the time, we're working in low-light situations where we neither have the time nor the ability to set up lighting rigs or even an off-camera flash, for that matter. Over the years, we've figured out the best ways to get presentable photos out of just about every situation food blogging will put you in. We've compiled the most important tips here. More

Weekend Cook and Tell Round Up: Golden Gadgets

Last week for our Weekend Cook and Tell we asked all of you to tell us about the one item in your kitchen that you just can't live without for a challenge we called Golden Gadgets. Responses ranged from high tech and powerful (think Vitamix, the be-all, end-all of blenders) to the tried and true (a 50 year-old flat grater, passed down for generations). Here's a look at the gadgets that get the most play in your kitchens. More

Gluten-Free Tuesday: Lemon Bars

Before going gluten-free, it wasn't unusual for me to travel three hours for a good lemon bar. The siren call came from Rosie's Bakery in Boston. I loved these bars. Made with a tangy lemon topping on a thick, buttery shortbread, I picked them over her famous Chocolate Orgasm brownies every time. It was time to set out to make my own gluten-free version. More

Culinary Ambassadors: Grocery Shopping in Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico I have to shop around. I love Costco for some of my produce—tomatoes, lettuce, berries, and mushrooms for stuffing.... I go to a regular supermarket for basics (like cereal, milk, and produce) that I do not need 10 pounds of at one time. I visit a health-food place to get my vegetarian goodies, like eggless mayonnaise, tofu, brown rice pastas, quinoa, etc. MadelynRodriguez More

Weekend Cook and Tell Round Up: Squash Invasion!

Last week on our Weekend Cook and Tell challenge we asked all of you for your favorite squash recipes for a challenge that we called Squash Invasion! Since marrows are so plentiful this time of year the challenge ended up being quite well received, giving all of us lots of ideas for how to tackle mountains of squash. Let's take a look at some of our favorite squash creations. More

School Lunch in Puerto Rico

These days they serve them lots of "comida criolla," or local fare such as rice and beans, lasagnas, pepper steak, and even "pastelones," which are Puerto Rican casseroles made sometimes from sweet fried plantains or mashed potatoes. They also offer lighter fare, such as sandwiches, wraps, or even hot dogs, if that's considered light. There are some salads, but if the kids say they will not eat them, they will not give salad to them—as if kids really know what's best for them! More

Weekend Cook & Tell Round Up: What's In Your Pantry?

It's time for the Weekend Cook and Tell Round Up! Last week we asked you to make something using the contents of your fridge, freezer, and pantry, no shopping allowed. It was wonderful to hear what everyone had sitting around in their kitchens, everything from Oreos to elk. Here are some of our favorite clean out the pantry recipes: My good friend hkrall made an incredible fridge fusion noodle bowl with pickled leeks, frozen dumplings, and a panko crusted poached egg. Check it out over at Drawing for Food. MadelynRodriguez made some great looking Spinach Puffed Empanadas using leftovers from previous meals. The empanadas were accompanied by a salad made out of Madelyn's extraneous vegetables from her CSA box. I... More