Monday, August 23, 2010

RATatouille, Nine Jewels and a Whore of a Meal

Yesterday we made a crazy brunch before we went to Beach Meadows beach in Liverpool with friends. We made some Indian homefries, Caesar salad, and Puttanesca Scramble (ok, Bruce made eggs!) that looked nothing like the one from Vegan Brunch for several reasons I could explain but I won't. I was full all day, but in a good way.

I'm about to pick up my fourth CSA box tomorrow and so far I've been doing a pretty killer job making sure nothing rots despite the fact that we pretty much get too many vegetables for us to consume. If we ate three meals, it'd be easier, but we don't really do that. Anyway, following this suggestion from Buy Local NB (New Brunswick) facebook group:

Ratatouille-a summer vegetable delight! Add olive oil to your favorite glass roasting dish, toss in quartered tomatoes, chunked onions, whole garlic cloves and chunked peppers. Roast for 10 min at 400 degrees. Now add in cubed zucchini, eggplant and fresh basil, oregano and a little thyme. Roast for an additional 10 min. Serve with pasta, rice or my personal favorite, new potatoes!

I made some Ratatouille for the first time. There is is, pictured above! It was pretty bomb and helped me use up a lot of vegetables before the next box arrives!

And lastly, here's a supper from a few days ago. It's an Indian meal from my favourite Indian cookbook called North Indian Navratan Shak. The Navratan parts means "nine jewels" which refers to the common number of vegetables in the dish. I actually had all the vegetables on hand that this recipe called for: potatoes, eggplant, broccoli, celery, carrots, string beans, tomato and onions-- but I used green onion instead of white onion as Bruce abhors onions. Anyway, this dish is pretty large and insane but we ate without rice or anything so we ended up eating about 3 cups of cooked vegetables each which means we each ate 6 servings in one meal!. Niiiice!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I grunt, you grunt we all grunt for Blueberry Grunt!

Hot damn! Why did it take me 31 years to bother making Blueberry Grunt?! OMG! It's so easy! So delicious! So perfect! A bit of biscuitty goodness in a hot, sweaty mess of sweet berries. It's almost too good to be true. It takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. Go pick some berries, buy some berries, steal some berries from the supermarket-- whatever you have to do to get berries and make this dish! When I made it, I felt like it was a right of passage for me... another Nova Scotian woman knows how to make a grunt.

If you're not from Nova Scotia or don't have relatives from there, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about right now. Blueberry Grunt is a traditional dish from my home province and was made all the time by early settlers here-- possibly the Acadians. The Aca
dians call this Blueberry Fungy which I'd never heard of until staying with my friend Randy's family in Clare. Apparently it's also called Slump although I've never heard anyone call it that. It used to be made from apples, rhubarb, strawberries as well, but blueberry's the one that stuck. It's was traditionally eaten as a main meal, and has more recently become dessert material. Lately I've been keen on the main meal position.

Here's the recipe I used, adapted from a recipe on the Select Nova Scotia website
which is, thankfully, a government website whose purpose is to promote local food; and the Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens cookbook compiled by Marie Nightingale.

Blueberry Grunt!

2 c. local blueberries

1/4-1/2 c. organic/unrefined sugar
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 c. light spelt flour (or whatever you have)
1/4 c. coconut flour (if you have this, I urge to to try it)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. organic/unrefined sugar
1 tbsp. shortening, margarine, or coconut oil
enough almond milk to make a soft biscuit dough-- probably 1/8-1/2 c.

Combine the grunt ingredients and boil in a large pot on medium heat until you've got some juice flowing-- about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together flours, baking powder, sugar, salt. Cut fat into the flour mixture. When it's all clumpy, add enough milk to make a soft biscuit dough (not too we
t! less is more!) Drop biscuit mixture into the barlin'* berries by the spoonful, put the lid on the pot and cook for 15 minutes with no peeking. Usually makes about 8-9 dumplings. Eat it warm. You don't even need a bowl. Get a potholder and eat it right of the pot if that suits yer fancy. Some folks eat this with ice cream or whipped cream. Coconut ice cream would be pretty incredible. Holy hell this dessert is fine!

Today I made some Blackberry Grunt (pictured above) with some berries I picked in the park with my friends the other night.

This grunt was equally mindblowing. Thanks, settlers, for settling in such a rad spot and being so handy with the berry recipes.

*barlin' is how some old folks from the area pronounce "boiling" as in "Honey, the kettle's

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A carby vehicle for garlic

I needed a vehicle for garlic as I have a little cold. I'd been incredibly hungry all day and I wanted an insane amount of carby foods which wasn't a supersmart idea nutritionally, but it's what I wanted. This meal looks a bit ugly, but here it is. I ate this whole plateful-- everything is local-- mixed yellow beans, corn, carrots and broccoli with a nutritional yeast sauce, roasted potato wedges with a tonne of garlic, and garlic bread with parsley. It was pretty dope. My cold feels less intense today which is amazing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pesto pasta is fantastic!

I love pasta. I could eat a lot, but I probably only eat it once a month. Today, wanting to make the basil from my CSA box into pesto before it rotted, I made some pesto according to this Jamie Oliver "recipe," substituting sunflower seeds for pine nuts and sesame seed/nutritional yeast cheese for the parmesan. I like his recipes because they're vague. Anyway, this pasta dish is simple. I used kamut penne, steamed some carrots and zucchini and chopped up some kalamata olives. I ate almost twice this amount because I couldn't help myself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chana Masala, advised by Manjula

I can eat tomatoes now! I remember realizing back in the year 2000, after eating pretty much nothing but pasta (albeit wheat-free), dairy-free "cheese" (I mention in quotes because it was so gross back then and nothing at all like cheese) and with tomato sauce and TVP for almost a year and being in pain every day, that tomatoes probably bothered my belly. I lived in painful denial for a while, continuing to eat tomato sauce and paying for it. Sadly, I eventually I cut tomatoes in all forms but ketchup out of my diet, and along with wheat, was my main food sensitivity.

Ten years later I have bowel surgery. Tomatoes and I are A-OK now.

Tomatoes are delicious! I'd never cut into a tomato and eaten its wonderful flesh. I'd never cooked with fresh tomatoes. Basically, I hadn't lived. My brot
her and I didn't like them growing up, so 2010 has been the summer of reclaiming the tomato. I've been getting a few tomatoes in my CSA box, so I've been eating them every day. In salads. On sandwiches. In Indian food. It's been so great.

We had a monstrous tomato from the CSA
box (organic, of course) and I decided to try my hand at homemade Chana Masala. Normally, we make it as a quick meal, using canned tomatoes, canned chickpeas and boxed Chana Masala spice from the Indian Grocery. Recently I was in a piss-poor mood and decided I needed real nourishment. Of course I didn't know how to make Chana Masala from scratch, so I turned to the obvious source for such advice: Manjula! Nobody does Indian vegetarian cooking more completely, more gently, authentically and honestly as her. She has a ton of recipes up. As I cook Indian meals a lot, I reference her YouTube channel a lot. Her voice is soothing. I'd love to hang out with her in the kitchen!

Watch Manjula make Chana Masala! You won't regret it.

So yeah, the Chana Masala with chickpeas cooked from dry, real tomatoes and a homemade spice mixture totally killed the canned version.
But even making this from canned food will give you a lovely quick meal. Watching Manjula make it, then making it myself gave me a sense of satisfaction and totally saved my dour mood. Indian food always does this for me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer meals of the unemployed

It's summer. I'm unemployed. You think it'd give me all the time in the world to conjure up all sorts of awesome blog posts-- and it does, but I'd rather be doing other stuff. I've still been eating well and everything. Here, I'll prove it:

Of course on one of the muggiest days of the year we decide to slow-cook chili. The smell wafting through the house all day was almost unbearable. We tasted it probably 10 times. In lieu of ultra-easy canned beans, us unemployed folks used chickpeas and black beans that we actually bothered to cook up from dry, plus a can of mixed beans. This is the first chili I've made at home in many years because I was so sensitive to spiciness and tomatoes pre-bowel surgery. It's so nice to sit down to a meal of salad, chili and corn bread like a regular person might. I feel so goddamned grateful.

Red lentil soup heavy on the vegetables: potatoes, zucchini, beets, green beans.

Bruce likes meals with three parts and we usually only have one part, so sometimes I try to make him proud by cooking three small parts. This time he cut the potatoes and I came up with some sort of cumin-seed and lemon-type thing for a side to the most ridiculous vegetarian chicken fingers you'll ever eat. They're pretty stupid.

The day after Bruce's birthday, we ate cake for breakfast after eating it pretty late the night before. Although he didn't really feel off, I sure did, so I made a "second breakfast" of miso soup heavy on turmeric. I bought a pound of organic turmeric recently, so I've been putting it in everything.

Shepherd's Pie is pretty good. This one was made with veggie ground round. The cheese sauce on the broccoli was an old recipe I'd copied down years ago called "Easy Cheesy" Sauce or something like that. Guaranteed to have the ingredients in your house if you stock nutritional yeast.

Ok, so we've been eating a lot of potatoes lately. How can you resist new potatoes?! This warm potato salad was made with my mom's veganized version of her homemade mayonnaise and peas from my Aunt Gloria's garden. I had some local tofu around, and made a quick marinade of hot-as Hades Korean red pepper flakes, Bragg's liquid aminos and grated garlic and ginger. Kablammo!

That is all. Hope you're eating well too.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The simple dish I wish everyone would eat

I wish every Nova Scotian-- perhaps every Canadian-- perhaps everyone in the world was eating this dish. Why? Because it's simple, delicious and local. All the vegetables in the photo are fresh summer Nova Scotian vegetables. The peas hail from my Aunt Gloria's garden in Cumberland County-- I brought them back with me when I visited her. And the nine beans in this dish are from my balcony garden! As I've said, I hardly get much sun, but I still managed to harvest a handful of beans and that is rad as hell.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Vegetables in the most unlikely of places

I took a 24-hour trip back to my homeland a couple of days ago. There are some serious cool things there. First off, we took a trip to Nashville Pussy's favourite Canadian restaurant, the Schnitzel Haus. As it's a German restaurant renowned for serving seafood and behemoth slabs of pounded meat, it makes sense that there's only one vegetarian entree on the menu. I've eaten there once before and was pumped to try to make a small dent in the insane "Vegetarian Platter." It would leave the most ferocious Viking feeling defeated. Check it:

For context, look how large the plate is compared to me. It's HUGE! And so full! And there's a serving of potato noodles that they just couldn't fit on the platter! The creamed peas, coleslaw and and salad dressing weren't vegan, but even without those, I still could hardly touch this meal. Other restaurants could learn from their valiant effort!

Next, on the way to my cottage, we stopped by one of my favourite places, the Tantramar Acres, a roadside vegetable stand in Point de Bute, New Brunswick. It's a run by a father and son and it works on the honour system. Check out the logbook you record your purchases in.

It was their first week being open this year, so it was a popular spot and they only had a bit left when we arrived. The cucumbers were all sold out. So was the Swiss Chard.

Here's the Scale of Honour and the cashbox, which, unsupervised, anyone could grab and take off with. But I hope they would feel pretty badly about themselves. I hope you have a roadside vegetable stand near you. I wish I knew where they all were.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

the Vegetable Diaries

I asked Bruce what he wanted for supper a couple of nights ago and he melted my heart by saying "vegetables." I honestly never thought I'd hear him say it. For those of you not keeping track, Bruce confessed to his roommate a couple of years ago that he "didn't get vegetables"--as in he didn't understand why anyone would actually eat them. I tried to explain why people do eat vegetables when we first met, and then made it my mission to be less preachy, and show him by never (or almost never) including the vegetables he hates (mushrooms and onions, unfortunately), and instead using vegetables I either knew he liked or delicious ones he'd never eaten. Here's a version of a Japanese tofu stew flavoured with half seasonal vegetables and half last year's crop. I served it over a Rice Pilaf. We both thought it was awesome.

The night we finished watching the first season of the Vampire Diaries, we enjoyed red lentil dahl with spinach and carrots and a ton of ginger and turmeric.

We quickly devoured the soup alongside some grilled asparagus with ponzu sauce. A nice Asian fusion meal, good enough for a vegetable vampire.

I'm writing this while the rain pours down, listening to "Twilight of the Thunder Gods" by Amon Amarth and drinking holy basil tea. Awesome day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Victorious Pumpkin Chocolate Spice Muffins!

Baking with vegetables totally rules. Although botanically pumpkin is a fruit, I'm still into baking with fruit. Anything without too much sugar-- muffin not a cupcake-- that includes fruit or vegetables can totally be eaten for breakfast. I wanted to bake some pumpkin chocolate spice muffins, but I didn't like any of the recipes I had. They all used too much sugar, not enough spice, too much oil or showed some other undesirable trait. I used three recipes as reference and really came up with a wicked brand new muffin. This is one of the most victorious recipes I've used, both taste-wise and All-Round Muffin Beauty-wise. I've had a lot of compliments on this recipe (including someone I'd just met eating three at a brunch with more people than muffins), so I'll share it with you. Note: do not dance in the kitchen or take the muffins out too early to test them (examine them through the oven window first) or they will fall.

Victorious Pumpkin Chocolate Spice Muffins

1 1/2 c. light spelt flour
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
a pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1 c. almond milk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
Flax egg (1 T. ground flax mixed with 3 T. water)
1 c. chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together ground flax and water in a small bowl and set aside. Sift together dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients until homogenous. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips. Portion batter into 12 greased or lined muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tester toothpick comes out clean.

Bruce tends to have an eating contest with himself whenever I make muffins, but I think this may have been a record. I think he ate 7 in 15 minutes. This was a muffin I got to enjoy by myself along with some delicious almond milk*, although had Bruce walked by, he'd have eaten it.

*I have a bit of a problem where I don't enjoy a baked good to its fullest potential unless I eat it alongside some milk. Used to be cows', then rice, then soy and now it's precious almond.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How's it growin'?

The speedy dwarf beans are really sprouting up! I tried to plan them so there'd be sun and a place to climb. Turns out they get the least sun of anything in the garden, but they're still doing pretty well. Bonus: the blossoms are beautiful.

I ACTUALLY HAVE BEANS GROWING! My proudest gardening accomplishment thus far.

I don't know if you can tell, but my herbs are growing. Most improved: chives and sage. I repotted them and they loved it.

I've already had a mega feast from this last week. It was so full of salad I could hardly get the scissors in to cut it back. I've got a couple of flowers coming. I'm not sure if I should leave them or not.

Look! I have a Swiss Chard plant! The birds have been eating almost all the little sprouts, but this big one and the tiny one under the leaf at the front have survived! To deter the birds, I snapped a couple of cds in half (makes prismy light that freaks out the birds) and staked them in the soil. No bird feasts since.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You wanna know how does my garden grow?

Three quarters of my mint: English mint, spearmint and ginger mint.

This kinda just happened. It's a pot left here by the old tenants. I just decided I had too many bats inside and put this one there.

This one also made itself. Cool moss growing. I put the frog in there and a tiny piece of an aloe plant.

One half of the herb garden.

The other half.

Speedy dwarf beans.


Mesclun mix. Salad drawer.

My herb garden at a glance. I'm growing rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender lady, lady's mantle, alpine strawberries, wormwood, a quince bush, lime mint, english mint, spearmint, ginger mint, lemon balm, chives and parsley. . This is my first time planting a reasonable-sized garden. I'm pretty impressed at how it's doing considering the balcony only gets morning light and a bit in the afternoon. It's sort of windy too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Breakfast Pasta and Compost Broth!

It's a dull, rainy day. I didn't sleep much. I got up before 7. What will remedy my awful situation? Vegetables for breakfast.Inspired by this recipe from Ripe From Around Here and the miso tahini sauce from yesterday's breakfast, I made this. Waiting for the water to boil was the longest part. I blanched the asparagus and spinach. I soaked the rice noodles in the same boiling water for 2 minutes. I added some grated garlic, ginger, lots of turmeric, a splash of sesame oil and Bragg's to yesterday's sauce and voila-- several servings of vegetables before I even (assuming I do) leave the house!

I also made some broth from my refrigerated compost trimmings. It's the first time I've bothered to do it although I've saved my compost probably six times and let it rot instead. I normally don't bother with broth other than the shitake-kombu stock I sometimes make, but I figure I might as well use some of my compost for stock. I added some peppercorns, a bay leaf, a kaffir lime leaf and some curry leaves as well as a bit of sea salt. I needed to add more at the end, but essentially, I have some broth now!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Quinoa Bloody Quinoa

Sorry to disappoint the vegetarian zombies out there, but the red is actually beets. I normally don't eat like this anymore. When I was single and didn't have a meaty bf to cook for, I'd eat simple meals of steamed vegetables, grains, beans and tofu. Maybe a little sauce. This morning I threw together a little throwback meal to my bachelorette days. Here's how I made my bloody breakfast:

Quinoa Bloody Quinoa

1/3 c. quinoa
2 baby beets
2/3 c. water or stock*
3 or so swiss chard leaves

Grate beets. Add quinoa to boiling water (I used my rice cooker which was awesome) and stir in the beets. Steam greens atop quinoa near the end of cooking.

Miso Tahini Sauce

1 T. miso
2 T. tahini
shake of sea salt
1 T. lemon juice
almost 1/3 c. water

Whisk together ingredients and decorate bloody quinoa lavishly.

Feed the zombies. They're hungry.

If you have some chives growing in your garden, they would be awesome here. I added some seeds (not pictured) for the crunch factor.

Thanks to Vegan Dance If You Want To for the inspiration for this recipe. She used amaranth greens. So lucky and grand!

Oh, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but it'd be a shame if you didn't view the photo in its large format, the bloody quinoa tails are so cute. I'm an absolute know-nuthin' novice at photography, so the detail excited me more than perhaps it should've.

*I used the shitake-kombu stock mentioned in my last post

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahhhh! A vegan omelette!

I miss eggs. There, I said it. They were the last animal food to go when I became vegan. I burned my arm on the pan as I fried my last egg ever and I still have the scar ten years later. At the time, I knew it meant something because I'm like that-- a good omen or a bad one. Clearly it was a good one, as I've enjoyed so much more vitality since the transition. I've said many times that there's no vegan egg susbtitute-- you know, for a damned pan-fried egg! We can scramble tofu, replace eggs with flax or whatever in baking, we can pretend soft tofu is eggy all we want--but pan-fried eggs are difficult to replace and a hard-boiled egg is pretty much totally out of the question. When I first heard about the possibility of a vegan omelette, I freaked out, but for some reason it took me a couple of years to bother to try it.

Today was the day! Lord T'underin' Jesus it was amazing! I'm the kind of girl to put ketchup on my mac n' cheese and scrambled eggs, and even though I probably never ate an omelette with ketchup, I did it today just for the thrill of the thing. It's been a while since I've devoured breakfast this excitedly. This omelette from the Vegan Brunch book was incredibly easy and fairly quick to make. As you can see here, I used roasted asparagus (with balamasic, olive oil, salt and pepper) as a filling. I've never actually had an omelette filled with anything in the past-- my dad always just put pieces of vegetables in the batter-- but I opted to do it the way the recipe suggested the first time. Oh, did I say I'd do it as per the recipe the first time? I'm totally full of crap! So, as I was laying the asparagus down in the omelette, I reached for the black salt* to sprinkle some more on for extra flavour, when I realized I didn't have the black salt out at all, and that I'd put slippery elm powder in my omelette! Perhaps I should've finished drinking my greens before making breakfast. *Le sigh* Anyway, this asparagine and sulphur-rich Atkins-friendly (Ha! I HATE the Atkins diet!) breakfast was delicious-- but we'll see how it smells on the other side.

*actually pink in colour, normally found in Indian Grocery stores. It has a really sulphury smell, super-eggy and great for egg salad sandwiches and whatnot.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not just another tofu stew with vegetables!

We were both sort of grumpy tonight and we hadn't eaten anything all day. Tonight was supposed to be the night where we learned how to make rice-on-the-outside sushi, but in this state, taking on such a project would've proven unwise. Instead, I turned to "Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional" because it's an amazing book and everything from it so far has been simple, quick and incredible.

Along with some mashed potatoes which turned out delightfully (not pictured), I opted to make the simply named Tofu and Vegetable Stew (Kenchin Jiru sounds awesomer though) which was basically some vegetables-- I used carrot, spinach, asparagus and peas-- simmered in a shitake-kombu stock* with soy sauce, grated ginger and sesame oil added; and a small amount of Cucumber Salad with Wa-Fu Dressing which was a simple cold marinated salad featuring rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, a sweetner, salt and sesame oil. When I was almost finished eating the stew (really a thin-brothed soup) and mashed potatoes separately, I added some mashed potato to my soup with pleasing results. For one, the potato thickened the stew, and the blandness of the potato was totally partied up by the stew. And although Bruce normally eats pretty quickly, he ate this meal with extreme speed and fervour. He even ate the asparagus and pinched one spear from me.

*when I suspect I might be making a Japanese soup, rice, inari pockets, stew, etc. later that day or the next day, I add a few shitake mushrooms and a 2-3 inch piece of kombu to about 3 cups of water in a jar and let it sit until I need it. This makes a nutritious deep stock which can be substituted for dashi stock which is normally fish-based and thusly undesirable to me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Four Green Soups

I made three green pureed soups in one week due to my dietary restrictions after surgery. Today I'm making some fiddlehead soup. That's four green pureed soups and they all look a bit different. How about I show you?

Here's some Asparagus Soup I made on my birthday to balance out all the cake and corn chips I'd have later. It's a thin soup featuring kelp powder, cayenne, Bernard Jensen's broth (not as gross as it sounds), garlic, Bragg's aminos (this potentially sounds grosser), nut milk (no big deal, right?) and that's about it. It didn't compare with the asparagus soup with coconut milk that Sophie made for me early in my recovery, but its purpose was to be healing and simple-- and it was really really good-- just not decadent.

Next is some spinach soup, shown here with me still looking spindly and weak. Into it, we have some green onions, almond milk, maple syrup (a tiny touch), broth, and some ginger powder. Bright green! It was delicious and allowed me to eat $6 worth of spinach in one day and fall all Popeyey.

Third up is some kale soup that I began making after I realized I didn't have much kale left. It's pretty potatoey. Do you think I could've taken a stupider photo? This is actually the best one I took. Perhaps we could chalk it up to having an off day? Anyway, this is a real homey-tasting one into which I put some kale, carrot, potato, onion and summer savoury .I really like homey-tasting soup like this.

The last one is Fiddlehead Soup. The fiddleheads were first spotted the day before I had my surgery, and although I love them a lot, I didn't want them as my "last meal." I was a little late on the draw. This was my second and last feed, as I believe this is the end of the fiddleheads in our region. They're a May crop. Ok, I just ate the soup and along with looking like pudding-- (perhaps photographing it in a pudding bowl doesn't help), it tasted like... fiddlehead glue! The potatoes are old and gummy (last year's Yukon Golds) and I waited quite a while to puree the soup, allowing the soup to... This is the first soup I've ever thrown out in my life. The fiddleheads deserved much better. They're a tasty fern. They were defiled by the old gluey potatoes. Off to Valhalla I send thee!

Which one do you think is the prettiest? I wish I'd had more kale-- it was getting old when I got around to the soup. I will make a prettier kale soup soon when there's lots of big kale for cheap! I'm glad you weren't here to try the fiddlehead soup. GAG!