Presents for the Almost Vegetarian (and a gorgeous Patricia Wells vegetarian recipe)

Want a little something nice for an Almost Vegetarian friend? Or a little something nice for yourself? Then I've found some lovely treats to make you smile. Which is my wish for you.
  • Fiestaware Jumbo Cups and Cappuccino Mugs and Perfect Balance tisane. The cups and mugs are huge - the cups are 18 ounces and the mugs are 20 ounces - which means they are big enough to give you a heart-warming size of tea, hot chocolate, or soup. One wonderful drink to fill them with is Susan Ciminelli's Perfect Balance. I planned a longer piece on it, but their staff was an enormous pain in the, ahem, anyway, despite the fact that this tea promises to do everything from help reduce blackheads and minimize pores (neither of which has happened to me, big surprise!), this ginger, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, and lemon blend is an ideal alternative to caffeine overload.
  • Acme Bags - Workhorse Style 1500. From holiday groceries to holiday gifts, the one constant everywhere is holiday bags which means tons and tons of holiday waste. The solution? This teeny tiny, featherweight bag which folds into a palm-size pouch you can bury at the bottom of your briefcase or purse, then unearth and unfold as needed.
  • Himalania pink salt with grater. It's a 4 ounce rock of flamingo-pink salt in a jar with a mini-grater. If you don't like to work for your dinner, you might not want to have to grate your own salt, but if you do, then this is too, too much fun. Besides, it is a great conversation starter!
  • Totally Bamboo crumb board and sushi gift set. We all know about the value of bamboo - it is renewable and ecologically-friendly - but what we might not realize is how pretty it can be in the hands of some creative visionaries such as the owners of Totally Bamboo. The crumb board is two pieces: A base and a vented top so crumbs from sliced bread falls into the base to be easily discarded without making a mess. As for the 7-piece sushi gift set, it is elegant enough to hold anything, not just sushi. Consisting of a sushi plate, two pairs of twist chopsticks, two bamboo chopstick holders, and two mini bowls, this would make a sweet appetizer set.
  • The Get Clean Starter Kit from Shaklee. The kit is crammed full of natural cleaning products from the Basic H2™ Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate to the Basic H2™ Organic Super Cleaning Wipes, 35 Wipes, Hand Wash Concentrate, Fresh Laundry Concentrate, Soft Fabric Dryer Sheets, and more (a ton more)! The products are great, but we especially liked the dish soap and the cleaning wipes (so handy).
  • PETA donation. Now, of course, there are a ton of excellent organizations that can use your time, resources, expertise, and anything else you can give. There are a plenty of resources to help you find these organizations, but I've included the link to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to get you started, if you like.
  • How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table. Published by Houghton Mifflin, this is an incredibly handy reference book for us Almost Vegetarians. Why? Because it talks about how to choose, store, and prepare everything from cucumbers to tomatoes.
  • The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without. The author, Mollie Katzen, has been pioneering vegetarian recipes since her first book, 25 years ago, and deserves plenty of applause for it. Certainly the recipes in this Hyperion book are not sophisticated, and not consistent hits, but any Katzen soup recipe I have ever tried has always been a delight. And her writings and drawings are fun.
  • Vegetable Harvest: Vegetables at the Center of the Plate. Patricia Wells, prolific cookbook author, does include meat recipes in her book, but the focus, throughout, is on vegetables. Yet another William Morrow book (we've look at a few this week), not only does this book have vegetable recipes, but it also has recipes for appetizers, breads, desserts, and so on. But don't believe me! Here, try one of the recipes for yourself:

Vegetarian recipe: Asparagus Braised with Fresh Rosemary and Bay Leaves

16 plump spears (about 2 pounds) fresh white or green asparagus
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Several sprigs fresh rosemary
Several bay leaves, preferably fresh

Rinse the asparagus and trim the tough ends. In a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer, combine the oil, asparagus, salt, rosemary, and bay leaves. Sprinkle with several tablespoons of cold water. Cover. Cook over high heat just until the oil and water mixture begins to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium and braise the asparagus, turning from time to time, just until the vegetable begins to brown in spots, 8 to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus). Serve immediately.

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Emeril Lagasse goes vegetarian!
And on Monday, I have a really special present for you: A vegetarian version of a great Emeril Lagasse recipe that is as delicious as it is easy. Yum yum!