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.