Friday, December 4, 2009

Pumpkin & Sexy Pepper Curry is a good thing

I never expected Martha Stewart to be helpful to me twice in one season, but it happened. My wonderful friend and Naturopathic Doctor, Sandra Murphy alerted me to this recipe last month, and it was evident I needed to make it pronto (yes, this is how bad I am at updating my blog-- I made this--okay-- about three weeks ago). I made it the next night. It's a pretty simple recipe, although my version ended up looking as if it'd been stored in a plastic grocery bag and dragged through the city. Okay, so I'm no food photographer-- I guess that's no secret. That, and I added the tofu early because I wanted to, and it wasn't as firm as hers. But it was still wicked.

As I was cutting up the peppers, I noticed one piece naturally formed an "s," which I thought was pretty rad. I looked further and easily found an "e." And I think peppers are sexy anyway, thus me spelling the word "sexy" using the red peppers that I'd roughly chopped. Bruce took this photo for me. How sexy is that?

The curry (Martha calls it stew, and hers looked like stew, but mine didn't) was spicy as hell because I used a muchi curry powder (which is hotter) rather than the usual organic one I use. It was SO very DAMNED HOT (for me-- for curry powder, anyway). I'm sure some of y'all'd be all like "it's not hot at all!! You call THAT spicy?!" Everything is relative, and I'm just as adamant about showing off about certain things, so let's let it rest. But if you're looking for a hot powdered curry blend, muchi might be the one. Anyway, this stew/curry was extremely quick (like 40 minutes all told, probably) and simple and delicious and used very few ingredients. Peeling the li'l pumpkin was much less tedious than I'd remembered. As for the recipe, I varied it only slightly (for me, anyway). I used whole coconut milk because light coconut milk is for pussies and I used almond milk because rice milk is only for people who are allergic to absolutely everything. To me it's outdated and gross. I used it before almond milk became the new soy milk. Anyway, I also used a lime because a) limes are better than lemons in Indian cooking and b) that's what Martha pictured with her stew, even though she called for a lemon. ZING! Oh, I also omitted the jalapeno pepper (because I can't have too much heat) and the onion (because Bruce thinks they're evil, about which he's wrong, but I appease him). And finally, I omitted cilantro leaves. I may be in the minority here, but I'm just don't like them. I won't say cilantro's gross, I'm still working on liking it.

This was our curry and it was a good thing, or whatever.

All Hail Black Kale!

Okay, it's purple kale, but it's soooo dhark and gets even darker (and somewhat greenish) when cooked. Anyway, I've been neglecting my kale intake lately, so I thought I'd try preparing it an Ayurvedic (for all intents and purposes-- in a balanced Indian style) way in hopes I would tempt Bruce to eat it as well. He did smell it and agree to try it at a later date, but he was so into his fishsticks and fake chicken that he wouldn't stray. So..., I just ripped pieces of kale off the stalk, boiled it until tender (you could also steam it but I wanted the energetic effects of boiled kale, plus I'm gonna use the purply mineral-rich boiling water for soup!). In another little pot, I warmed about a teaspoon of coconut oil (this one, a new one was full-flavoured and therefore tasty!), added 1/2 tsp. of cumin seeds and when they started popping, added a tsp. of coriander powder. I then poured this oil mixture on the kale and added some Bragg's liquid aminos (saltiness) and a sheet of nori seaweed (the stuff of sushi) torn roughly into squares. I was shocked at how delicious this was-- the bitterness of the kale kind of vanished-- this is a highly recommended kale preparation method. Anyway, this bowl of kale was all I ate for supper. I baked apple blueberry oat muffins later. I ate tofu for breakfast and Indian cauliflower and potatoes for lunch. I've been eating so strangely lately. It's been fun, so I've been going with it.

KALE-- it's what your creakin' bones've been askin' you for.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fig Almond Butter Shortbread Hearts & Hummus Sushi

I subscribe to a few google alerts, so I can keep abreast of what's going on without hardly having to lift a finger. One awesome recipe that came through recently on my vegan google alert, was one for Fig & Almond Shortbread. It came from here and it was aparently her first attempt at making a recipe (at least for baking) vegan. Her adorable substitution of almond butter for butter impressed me. I'm not sure if she thought it would be the closest susbstiution, or she just couldn't bring herself to use magarine (good girl), but regardless-- I knew I had to bake them-- especially after several "what's for dessert?" cries from Bruce, and several near-demands that it have chocolate in it, and assertions from both him and Blake that they didn't like figs but would still try it. And I had to try out our new convection toaster oven.

Here's how I ended up making the recipe:

Fig Almond Butter Shortbread He

1/2 cup old fashioned oats + 1/8 cup
1/4 cup light spelt flour
a pinch of grey sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup finely chopped dried figs
0.5/3 cup almond butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. In a food processor, blender, coffee grinder or what have you, grind up the oats, keeping the extra eighth of a cup aside. Add the ground oats and reserved oats to a bowl, then add the flour, nutmeg and sea salt. Stir with a fork to mix. Then add the figs, mixing thoroughly to coat. In another bowl, cream together the almond butter and brown sugar. When mixed completely, add rum and vanilla and stir until homogenous. Add the flour n' fig mixture wet mixture and combine using a wooden spoon, or if necessary or desired, your hands (fun)! When this mixture makes a non-sticky ball (adding a tiny bit of flour if necessary), roll the ball out on a floured surface with a rolling pin (or wine bottle) until it's about a quarter of an inch thick. Here, you can choose to cut your dough in shapes or use a cookie cutter like I did. Don't bake these for too long. I baked mine for about 15 minutes in my convection oven and burned at least half of them somewhat. The original recipe (which was double the size), suggested 25-30 minutes. I'd guess at15-20 in a regular oven, but please watch them and make sure they're not burned. Sure I could perfect the cooking time before I post this, but what's the fun in that? I trust you. So basically I made this recipe wheat-free and full of rummy goodness and it yielded 12 little hearts. And I forgot the sliced almonds, so you could pound some into the top if you were so inclined. Anyway, they were dope and yes, the boys ate them.

Hummus Sushi

On the day in question, I was really about eating lightly. I've been into eating rice cakes with veganaise, ginger-carrot sauerkraut and cucumbers lately, and had eaten a bunch in the afternoon (my morning). For a light supper, I kind of wanted sushi, but was getting super-hungry. And I also wanted chickpeas. Ta-da! Hummus sushi was conceived. And while I figured it had already been thought of (a cursory internet search gave me 2960 hits for the term), I was pretty stoked. Anyway, here it is in all its delicious glory. I made the hummus from scratch (with my beloved hand-crank food processor which allows me to burn calories while I'm making hummus ;) to use as the bed for the toppings, and then laid down some sweet yellow pepper, grated carrots and fresh parsley (all local and in season) and rolled it all up in some nori sheets. The sushi was pretty good on its own, but the pickled ginger put it over the top! I made 12 pieces and pounded them down. The photos look kind of '80s to me-- the hummus looks like some sort of egg filling. Anyway, win.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two Canadian Thanksgiving Dinners

For some reason I didn't post this after Canadian Thanksgiving, so I'll post it in time for American Thanksgiving. I hope that everyone has a delightful day off (if you get one) and I hope that you enjoy the fruits of the autumn harvest in good company and with lots to be thankful for.

I was lucky enough to eat two Thanksgiving
dinners during Thanksgiving weekend. The first was at my friends, Kevin and Sophie's new home, joined by her sister and my brother. We had mashed root vegetables, roasted root vegetables, steamed brussels sprouts and swiss chard, green leafy salad and tofurkey slices. We also managed to fit in some pear ginger crisp and chocolate pumpkin cake, but we ate them without taking photos ;(

Here's the recipe for tofurkey slices. I've been making these since mom made them for me when I first became vegetarian in 1997.

Tofurkey Slices 1 pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry Marinade: 3/4 c. water 3 tbsp soy sauce 3 tbsp nutritional yeast ½ tsp poultry seasoning** ½ tsp coriander ½ tsp onion salt ½ tsp garlic powder Coating: 1/4 c. flour 1/8 c. cornmeal 1/8 c. nutritional yeast 1/4 tsp onion salt 1/4 tsp salt dash black pepper Cut tofu into 1/4 inch or appropriately sized slices and place them in a wide, shallow mixing bowl or shallow baking pan. Place all ingredients for marinade in a bowl and whisk them together. Pour marinade over tofu slices, ensuring all slices are covered. Cover and place marinated tofu in refrigerator. Let tofu set for several hours or overnight, turning slices a couple of times. When you are ready to cook the tofu, combine the ingredients for the coating mix in a bowl and stir well with a fork. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mist baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, set aside. Remove each tofu slice, shake lightly to allow extra marinade to drip off and dredge each piece in the coating mix, allowing for total coverage. Arrange tofu on baking sheet. Mist tops lightly with cooking spray. Bake tofu for 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Flip slices over and bake for another 9 or so minutes, until other side is golden brown. Makes 10 or more slices. (4 -5 servings) ** or rosemary, sage, summer savory. Eat plain hot or cold, with make it into a sandwich.

My second Thanksgiving dinner wa
s at home on Thanksgiving Monday with my lovely bedfellow, Bruce. I made mashed potatoes, a mixture of white and pink sweet potatoes-- they were sooo sweet and delicious-- Bruce's favourite part of the dinner--, ginger-glazed carrots, a recipe test from Jae Steele's upcoming cookbook "Ripe From Around Here," mushroom gravy that's been a standard in my kitchen during holidays for years, and a complicated-looking but actually really simple mounded tofu turkey courtesy of my friends Mat and Dave of the award-wining radio show Let's Get Baked.
Tofu Turkey & Fixin's Turkey: 5 pounds of firm tofu Stuffing: 2 tbsp oil 1 large onion 1 cup celery, diced 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp marjoram 2 tsp thyme 3 tsp Herb de Provence 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari 2 cups bread crumbs 1 cup wild cooked wild rice salt and pepper to taste Basting mixture: 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil 1/4 to 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari 2 tablespoons miso 2 tablespoons orange juice 1 teaspoon mustard 1/2 cup nutritional yeast Mash tofu together in a bowl. Line a Colander with cheese cloth and dump tofu in. Use a plate to press out the excess water from tofu. leave a heavy weight on the plate for an hour or two to drain as much water as possible (preferably in the fridge). take colander full of tofu and hollow out a place for stuffing. In a sauce pan fry up the garlic, onion, and celery. when they are sufficiently brown mix in the rest of the ingredients for the stuffing thoroughly and dump it into the hole that you have made in the tofu. pack it tigthly and flip onto a baking sheet. Cover the tofu turkey with the basting sauce and bake at 375 for an hour or so until it is golden brown. If you have the time you can cook it longer and a lower temperature and baste it a couple more times for extra amazing flavor experiences. Enjoy!


* 8tablespoon vegetable oil
* 3-6 cloves of garlic, squashed and minced
* 3 slices of yellow onion, chopped
* 8tablespoon all-purpose flour
* 2tablespoon nutritional yeast
* 4tablespoon low sodium soy sauce or tamari
* 2 1/2 cups water (to start)
* 1/2 teaspoon ground sage (dry)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 1/4 cup red wine (optional--but a huge help)
* 2 tablespoon
s balsamic vinegar
* 6 sliced mushrooms (optional)

I can't take all the credit for this great gravy. Unfortunately I cannot recall exactly where I came upon it. My apologies to the original source. I made some slight adjustments. I often opt for a plain ol' mushroom gravy, but this is the deluxe one I like to prepare.

In a medium saucepan heat oil on a medium or medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until slightly tender and translucent.

Add the flour, yeast and soy (or tamari) to make a paste or roux. Be careful not to let it burn. GRADUALLY add the water, stirring constantly. With frequent stirring, bring the gravy to a boil and allow it to thicken. Add pepper, mushrooms, vegan wine and balsamic vinegar. If you don't want to add vegan wine, you might try a bit more balsamic vinegar or a red vegan wine vinegar in its place.

If the gravy is too thin (unlikely) add a small amount of cornstarch which has been dissolved in some cold water. (Dissolving the cornstarch in water first will prevent lumps.)

Can you tell me how to get... how to get to Vegetable Street?

I admit I had forgotten about the marvelousness of Sesame Street's incredible plant-promoting superhero, Captain Vegetable, but as soon as I heard a verse of the song, memories came floating back and I was able to retrieve the lyrics from some hardly-used portion of my '80s childhood brain.

Here's the transcript of the song:

Out of his secret garden somewhere in New Jersey comes your newest favorite super hero!

It is I, Captain Vegetable
With my carrot, and my celery
Eating crunchy vegetables is good for me
And they're good for you, so eat them too
For teeth so strong, your whole life long
Eat celery and carrots by the bunch
Three cheers for me, Captain Vegetable
Crunch, crunch, crunch!

My name is Andy
I love candy
And I eat it whenever I can
If it's handy
Gimme some candy
It's so good and sweet
The perfect treat
It's such a thrill
To eat my fill
And gobble till there's nothing on the plate
Candy is great, but wait!

Who are you, some kind of bad dream?
Do I look like a bad dream?

It is I, Captain Vegetable
With my carrot, and my celery
Eating crunchy vegetables is good for me
And they're good for you, so eat them too
For teeth so strong, your whole life long
Eat celery and carrots by the bunch
Three cheers for me, Captain Vegetable
Crunch, crunch, crunch!

My name is Eddie
I love spaghetti
So I eat it whenever I can
If it's ready
Gimme spaghetti
It's a lovely thing
It looks like string
It's such a thrill
To eat my fill
And gobble till there's nothing on the plate
Spaghetti is great, but wait!

What are you? Are you some kind of weirdo?
Do I look like a weirdo?
It is I, your newest super hero

It is I, Captain Vegetable
With my carrot, and my celery
Eating crunchy vegetables is good for me
And they're good for you, so eat them too
For teeth so strong, your whole life long
Eat celery and carrots by the bunch
Three cheers for me, Captain Vegetable

Gee, Captain Vegetable this is the best thing to come around since meatballs!
Three cheers for Captain Vegetable!

Three cheers for me Captain Vegetable
Crunch crunch crunch!

and here, you lucky folks, is the video! It's so damn catchy, we've been singing it around the house a lot.

OMG! I found an updated version featuring John Leguizamo as Captain Vegetable wherein he refers to Elmo twice as "Playa."

Sesame Street has been trying in strange ways to get us to eat vegetables and learn to count and be kind to each other and whatnot for 40 years, and to celebrate Sesame Street's 40th birthday, they invited America's First Lady Michelle Obama to Sesame Street (again) to teach kids how to plant an organic vegetable garden and to promote eating healthy vegetables.

She rules. This rules. I'm a happy girl. Gonna go eat some vegetables.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Only 358 days until Hallowe'en!

Hallowe'en was a week ago. Luckily for me, there're still a lot of jack o'lanterns rotting around town to help me through my intense Hallowe'en withdrawal and the imminent onslaught of Christmas. I'm pretty sure Halifax was as Hallowe'eny this year as I've ever seen it, which is so awesome! I wonder if it was because the holiday fell on a Saturday, but more than that, I'm just so thrilled to have seen the immense participation this year! There were jack o'lanterns on almost every doorstep (and many times two or three-- sometimes many more!) and more Hallowe'en events than anyone could hope to haunt. For the first time ever, I tri-hosted a party with two friends of mine, and preparing for the party (and making mine and Bruce's costumes) was in many ways the best part of Hallowe'en. With four horror/monster music compilations by my new friend Adam up before Hallowe'en, I had an almost unending source of amazingly horrific tunes, and I was the happiest ghoul you've ever seen, dancing around the kitchen in a (fake) bloody apron with a ridiculous smile on my face for the weeks leading up to the spooky day. I finally completed my Hellboy costume, complete with a gigantic replica of his seven-barreled Big Baby gun. I used a helluvalotta duct tape, both black and red for this costume. It was invaluable. Bruce's Count Frightenstein costume came together wonderfully at the last minute. He was such a handsome silly vampire.

I made TREATS for the Hallowe'en party! It was superfun! I emptied out my newly acquired Crystal Head vodka bottle (SHAPED LIKE A SKULL and filtered thrice through diamonds made in Newfoundland according to Dan Akroyd's exacting specifactions!) and tra
nsferred my two batches of arugula vodka into it, so I'd be able to serve ghastly green vodka from a skull-shaped bottle. It was so awesome! And I made skull and crossbone- shaped green ice cubes made with chorophyll water that oozed green into everyone's drink! And bloodshot eyeballs from radishes and pimento olives! And wheat-free ladies' fingers with beet-stained, chipped almond fingernails! And a gory green hummus (with spirulina-- a blue-green algae), which, in all the mayhem, I forgot to photograph. Also, the arugula vodka in the Crystal Head vodka is yet to be photographed, but I will post it soon. The drink pictured is an eyeball martini made from Crystal Head vodka, vermouth, a green ice cube and an eyeball radish. Of course I used a skull-shaped martini shaker (also not pictured, sorry).
I must, at this time, send a shout-out to my good friend Tracy who's the only other human I know so excited about celebrating Hallowe'en in some way 365 days a year, and oddly, to Martha Stewart, who inspired us with two Hallowe'en featured magazines this season. And to the old lady who consulted with Tracy and I at our store about what to use for blood in the apple-bobbing bucket at her grandchildren's Hallowe'en party. And thanks for coming back after the party to tell us that concentrated cranberry juice with chunks of jam blood clots ("the gorier the better," said she) worked swimmingly. You give us hope that we'll always care about Hallowe'en and might not sell out and be crotchety and disinterested. Yes!

So, with another Hallowe'en season fading, I want to wish all y'all a belated Happy Hallowe'en. I hope it was as gruesome for you as it was for me and mine. And remember-- every day is Hallowe'en, so wear whatever you like and don't be afraid to be spooky now and again and growl and howl and moan when you need to. You know it feels good. RAWWWWL!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seemingly forced Saturday 8am grocery shopping

The Halifax Farmer's Market is many things, but yesterday morning, all I could think was the only time I can buy local groceries for a decent price and selection is at 8 am on a Saturday. Essentially, if I don't walk down with Bruce in the morning when he goes to work, a) I probably won't bother to go at all and b) it gets busier than it is at 8 am. Ugh. Forced 8 am Saturday groceries. I can't believe I ever get there at all and I often get comments about how early I'm up from people I meet there.To be perfectly honest, I only like the slowness of the market and the social aspect in theory. I almost never see any of my friends who go to the market, just the faces of the customers I've served at the last few jobs I've had since 2001. I want to get in, buy vegetables, and get out. I'm also often hungover and incredibly sleep-deprived, although thankfully I wasn't (the former) yesterday.

Anyway, yesterday I didn't go too crazy. I did buy a lot, but there were several things I left for someone else: more sweet potatoes (I already have some), turnip (I still have some in the fridge), pears (I really regret this one, although I didn't notice any unsprayed pears there anyway), broccoli (I've been meaning to start freezing vegetables, but it's a bit of a process and it's Hallowe'en week and I have a lot to do, so I decided to be realistic), Chinese Lanterns to go on my mini lights (I think I can find these cheaper elsewhere).

So, as you can see, I got: 2 lbs of carrots, 1 lb of parsnips, some brussels sprouts, a bag of arugula (I've already got arugulaka batch two begun), two pounds of tofu, three tiny red peppers (one of them was moldy :( ), four onions, a head of garlic, a huge bunch of kale, two tiny squash, and most adorable of all: two tiny pumpkins! If I can remember correctly, I think I paid $25, although it doesn't add up properly, but that's probably close to being accurate. Anyway, it was a deal. I'll let you know what I make with it all.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Killer Kale Muffins. No really.

I don't even know how the hell I came across kale muffins on YouTube, but somehow I did a while ago. An urban farmer named Bronwyn from B.C. dreamt up the ingenious idea of putting kale in muffins. OMG! Her recipe is very '80s homestyle health food muffin and isn't vegan, but I loved the concept a lot and have been playing with it a bit. Here's the recipe I used to make muffins last night:

Killer Kale Muffins

1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. agave syrup
1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax + 3 tbsp. water, mixed well)
1/2 c. almond milk
1 tsp. natural almond flavouring
1/2 c. shredded carrots

1 c. kale, steamed 'til tender then pureed with 2 tbsp. almond milk in food processor
1 1/2 c. light spelt flour
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 c. uncooked millet (this will make the muffin really crunchy!)
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Sift together dry ingredients except seeds, blueberries, chocolate chips. Beat oil, juice, agave, flax egg, milk and flavoring together. Stir in carrots, kale puree (mine didn't get super pureed because my minichopper is quite crappy), chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds. Stir in dry mixture. Fold in blueberries. Portion batter into 12 greased or lined muffins cups (may I suggest acquiring some silicon cupcake liners?!) filled 3/4 full. If you have batter leftover, bake it into something small like a mini loaf pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes. May I suggest enjoying one warm with almond milk? You're eating kale in a muffin and you're loving it! Can I get a hellz yeah?!

So, I baked these muffins to share with my brother, Blake and my lovely bf, Bruce. Blake's allergic to cinnamon (as well as other stuff), and Bruce said he'd try one if I replaced the raisins with blueberries, so I did it. The blueberries were a huge improvement over the raisins. I'm working on this recipe until it's the healthiest I can possibly make it with Bruce still wanting to eat them. He'll decide when I've gone too far. When I asked Blake if he wanted a muffin, he said "What kind of question is that?" as he extended his hand. As he was biting into one, he asked what was in them, and, as the word kale left my lips, he said "nice time to mention it has KALE! Next time don't tell me until after!" but he still devoured it and loved it. Bruce loved it too, and wanted more. Total success. Neither of the boys like kale (although I will hopefully help make it happen some day), so I think these muffins are a total win. As you can see in the photos, it's really difficult to detect the kale, even close up-- most of the green you see is from the pumpkin seeds--- so these would be ideal muffins to bake for li'l ones who won't eat anything green. You could substitute the pumpkin seeds for other less green seeds, too, but they're ideal to feed to men, as they're good for the ol' prostate, and are full of zinc which is good for immunity and sexual health (which is important for ladies too). But yeah, they're tasty muffins--and even though the list of ingredients may be lengthy, the muffins don't take that long to prepare. Please ask me about any substitutions you're not sure of. I hope you'll try 'em.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tumourick Tofu Triangles and Terrifying Curried Turnip Monster Mash

I'm still deciding what I want to be for Hallowe'en. I know! I know! I actually start thinking about it November 1 for the next year, but I always leave the ultimate decision for the week before the big day. Oh the pressure! Last year I'd prepared to be Marvel Comics supervillian Sabretooth and woke up Hallowe'en morning and needed to be a butcher based on the cool fake hacksaw I wouldn't let myself buy while out Hallowe'en shopping the day before. As it stands, I'm deciding between resurrecting last year's Sabretooth, Hellboy (but a girl), and Hilarious House of Frightenstein's Grizelda . Anyway, to fuel myself for going to the amazing Glow Parties store, which is such an awesome costume store in Halifax, I needed to make myself a warming, healthy meal, so I made Turmeric Tofu Triangles, a Jae Steele recipe test from her upcoming cookbook, Ripe From Around Here, and a version of Grandma's Turnip Curry from the Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook with a lovely local turnip. As I've been reading about Ayurvedic Medicine for several years, I've come to learn how to modify recipes so my body will better respond to them. So I made this one a little bit better for me, a Pitta-Vata dosha, especially to counteract the spiciness of the turmeric triangles. I'd LOVE to give you the recipe for the triangles, but it's a secret, so you'll have to wait 'til the book's published. I'd give you the turnip curry recipe, but I'm going to work on it to perfection first!

BOO! I've gotta go try and get some more pieces for my costume. I'll let the day itself inspire me.

P.S. I bought a garter belt with a holstered gun and a heart jello mold at the costume store. No closer to my Hallowe'en costume, but way cool nonetheless!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm up in yer desserts, bein' all fruity

I like baking....Backpedal.... I LOVE baki
ng. I love to bake in the middle of the night. I love to eat baked goods. I love to eat baked goods in the middle of the night. I love sharing baking with my friends. I love to eat baked goods. I hate feeling crappy after eating gross processed baked goods. I don't even like them. A solution: to bake with whole food ingredients, almost always incorporating fruits and vegetables. Here are a few examples of my past exploits to get this party started. 1) Strawberry rhubarb crisp 2) Pear Custard Pie 3) Black Forest Cake (admittedly, this was potentially the sweetest thing I've ever baked, and the cherry preserves just made it sweeter! 4) Pumpkin Brownies according to this recipe. So fudgy and rad with swirls of pumpkin! More examples to follow.

Arugula Spirits!

One day last year, I overindulged in chocolate
. I rarely actually overindulge in chocolate anymore, because it makes me feel like hell. I do eat chocolate, however, pretty much every day. So anyway, on this one particular day, I was feeling lousy and I asked one of my wise-beyond-his-years friends what the opposite of chocolate was because I wanted to eat whatever it was. He suggested arugula. That was pretty awesome. I always remember this when I eat too much sugar, and proceed to eat a handful or more of the wonderfully spicy and bitter green.

Hmmm, I thought... how amazing would arugula liquor be? A concentrated form of alcohol, kind of like a tincture (yet I'd drink more than I would of a tincture), that I could drink when I didn't have fresh arugula on hand! As with most things, it takes me forever to actually put my ideas into action. This summer I actually started going back to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings. My boy works at 8 in the morning, so I usually get up with him, often after staying up way too late out at a rock show, and get my ass to the market to buy a backpack full of vegetables.

I did a little research on the existence of arugula spirits, and discovered that there's an Italian spirit called rucolino made of arugula that's drunk in small quantities as a digestive. Wicked. I looked for recipes, found something kind of fancy (if you consider lemon peel and cloves fancy) and decided to just do it straight up for my first time. Initially, I was going to make a liqueur out of it, but upon tasting it after a 25 day maceration period (this amount of time is insignificant-- I just decided to try it yesterday), I decided it tasted awesome, and that the original point of my making it was to combat the ill-effects of too much sugar, so frig it. Unfortunately, the colour of the liquor changed with age. At about 8 days, the vodka (50%, Smirnoff- the only 50% vodka I can find in these parts) was so beiutiful-- a perfect Misfits greens. Of course, as time went on, the colour got a little less bright and little more dingy. So, based on the success of this batch, I'm going to make another, stopping the maceration (the process of steeping herbs in unflavoured alcohol) at the height of its brightness-- probably somewhere around 7 or 8 days. I just got greedy last time, and wanted a large arugula factor. I've decided the arugula vodka (arugulaka?) tastes like plain green peas. My boy said that it didn't, that it maybe tasted like arugula.. yet he admitted he doesn't really know what arugula tasted like. He said that it was nice and sweet and kind of minty, so he drank about an ounce of it, which made me happy. He was eating arugula-- even if it was a trace amount steeped in strong vodka! My wonderful friend Tracy also disagreed that it tasted like peas, she said the vodka was kind of overpowering, and that all she could taste was whichever component of arugula was strongest-- something cooling, anyway... which is interesting, because arugula's kind of peppery. As for its medicinal effects, I've been feeling a bit on the crappy side for a couple of days, and I felt like my belly had a hole in it this morning (ok, it does, but more on that later). After my cauliflower and potato curry, I had about an ounce of the arugulaka, and I feel a lot better. I even chewed the pale translucent ghostly arugula leaves-- hoping it'd be kinda like the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle (not that I've ever eaten that). They were ok. Limp, yet still a bit crunchy. So, I can't wait to try this again, and perfect arugulaka. With any luck, I'll make it to the market tomorrow, after my brother's birthday fiasco, and buy some more aruuuugulaaaa.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The moldy pumpkin and its humble beginnings

I thought that moving out of my batcave would prevent everything I own from growing mold on it. While everything I own isn't damp to the touch now, my beloved New Brunswick pumpkin rotted. I was overjoyed to bring my $2 pumpkin home from The Brunz, and devastated when I examined it the other day and its moldy stem pulled apart from its body when I touched it. It's only been five weeks since it'd been pulled from the vine.
If I can stand the smell, I'm totally carving (SLAYER) into it... and then I'll probably throw it off the balcony. It would've made an awesome pie, but there's heck all I can do about it now.

Now check out the pumpkin's adorable beginnings. I love this farm so much. It's on the way to my parents' cottage in Pointe de Bute, New Brunswick. One day a couple of years ago as we were almost to the cottage, I saw the sign announcing "Fresh Farm Vegetables" and totally had to stop. It's basically a family of farmers who harvest produce daily and sell it in a little shed to one side of their driveway. They set the vegetables up, mark them with really reasonable prices, and have a little notebook where you're to record what you bought, and the total. There's a cashbox where you leave the payment for your vegetables, and out of which you make yourself change. They use the good ol' honour system, and damn is that honourable! I love this farm so much and wish I could get all my produce from them, but it's two and a half hours from my house. Apparently they've only been robbed a couple of times. I can't think of a much sleasier thing to do than to steal a cash box from a family who's trying to make a living by selling really affordable farm-fresh vegetables using the honour system. Those thieves are pure pond scum.

Anyway, on this particular visit
, the farm was bursting with kittens and it was totally totally rad.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Vegetable List

I, like many of you, sometimes let vegetables and fruit rot in the fridge. There're a few reasons for this, but, near the top of the list, at least for me, is that I forget about them. (Forget. Ignore. Forget. Who's really to say?!) When I see a bag of blue corn chips and a can of refried beans and I'm sharvin', the vegetables in my fridge might as well be invisible to me. So I thought of a brilliant idea a couple of months ago and began using post-it notes to track all the vegetables I have in my fridge/in storage (aka on my floor or under my sink). It's been helping SO MUCH! I've only had a couple of things go to rot since I began, and my vegetable and fruit purchasing and consumption have risen greatly! Initially, this seemed like one of those dorky ideas that a) I wouldn't follow through with, b) wouldn't be that effective and c) would make me feel too stuffy and organized. I don't know what I was thinking, because it would pretty much take a complete personality transplant for me to be too stuffy and organized! Oh the needless fear! So, without further ado, I present to you the current version of the Emily Strange post-it notes (that I got as a birthday gift probably 7 years ago) that had me worried I'd sold out. As you can see, my handwriting and organization of said notes should alert you to the fact that any improvement in the areas of neatness and organization should only be seen as improvement. It being harvest season, it's almost impossible for me to leave the farmer's market without buying one of everything, hence, I have a helluvalot of vegetables and fruit, and I have to make use of them-- pretty much by myself. I live with my bf and brother, but still many of our meals are separate-- plus, I always make my lunch, whereas the boys don't.

This morning, I decided not to go to the farmer's market because I knew I'd buy too much p
roduce, and some of last week's bounty would rot. No good. So I'll use up what I have and go next week. For weeks, I've been planning to blanch and freeze a bunch of vegetables for the winter, but thus far, I've failed at actually doing so. Go team! Anyway, vegetable list, vegetable list, vegetable list! I am the vegetablist!

For those who can't read my scribblins or can't see through crossed-out words, here's a what was and is written on the lists: pears, apples, edamame, kale, broccoli, green beans, red pepper, mushrooms, parnips, turnip, zucchini, purple cauliflower, carrots, yellow beans, green beans, swiss chard, beach peas, beets, arugula, blueberries, lime, lemon, red cabbage, green cabbage, grapes, squash, pumpkin, tomato, orange pepper, potatoes. If you have any questions about what I made from any of these or what I plan to make, please ask away!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Vegetables for breakfast. Yup.

Today I ate breakfast at about 4:30 p.m. It's possible I'll make another meal around midnight, but unlikely. I'm still pretty full. As I was too distracted to conjure up a meal before what was my childhood suppertime, one would be correct if one were to guess I was pretty ravenous and that I wanted my meal to be ready already. So I opened a can of black beans, added fresh minced garlic, cumin, oregano, a bay leaf and some cayenne, mashed them with some olive oil and heated that shizz up. In another pot I sauteed some red pepper, mushrooms and zucchini. I spread some homemade vegan cheese that I used to make grilled cheese sandwiches a coupla days before on some Genesis bread and VOILA-- brunch in ten minutes. That was pretty quick. Pretty unglamourous, but also pretty quick. Vegetables for breakfast? Friggin' right.

One girl, two vegetable cups

So I found two little vegetable cups at Value Village last Thursday as I was looking for components for my Hallowe'en costume. I'm going as Hellgirl (Hellboy, but I'm a girl, hence, uh... Hellgirl). I excitedly came home and took a photo of one of my l'il cups filled with Barleans greens. It was tasty and rad and I'd subsequently drank out of these cups a lot in the last six days.

Last night, my lovely boy was fixing us some drinks, and he was trying to cram two standard sized ice cubes into this little cup. He was pushing and I heard cracking and I warned, "Please don't break that," and, not surprisingly, he broke it.

I say, "You're lucky I love you" pretty often around here ;)

One girl, one vegetable cup :(