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 :(