Monday, March 30, 2009

Chickpea Stew

vegan chickpea stew

On Friday night, for about half an hour, I felt like summer was around the corner. I drove my car, windows down, to the Man of Science's office to pick him up after work. I had The Undertones loud on the stereo singing, "Here comes the summer! Here comes the summer!" It seemed possible that the warm weather was coming.

By Sunday it was cold and rainy. The House of Science and the creatures inside it got pretty quiet. There was a lot of reading/sleeping near the fireplace and avoiding the early-spring reality check that was pouring down outside. The Man of Science was feeling a bit under the weather. He requested a warming stew for dinner. I got busy.


Chickpea Stew

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 cup red lentils
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 can diced tomatoes, slightly blended or mashed
2 cups veggie soup stock
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste

Heat olive oil over med-high heat in a large pot and add onion and garlic. Saute until onions are tender, then add celery, red pepper, lentils, and spices. Reduce heat to medium and let cook for three or four minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes, soup stock, and sugar cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer until lentils are cooked.

Add chickpeas and cilantro, stir and turn heat off. Let sit, covered, for a few minutes and then serve.

Some Notes:

-We ate this with a very fresh Zatar bread from the market near the House of Science, which made for a nice, filling dinner. Any kind of bread would be pretty good, I'm sure.

-I'd been lazily using canned chickpeas for months until last weekend. I can't believe how much better they taste/cheaper they are when I soak them and cook them myself. There were so many left from the 1/2 package I soaked, I ended up making a big batch of hummus, and also freezing two meal-sized portions for future dinners.

-Because Top Chef isn't on right now, I've been watching The Amazing Race. I have to say that I did not like this week's episode at all. The contestants had their photos taken with a chained up tiger at the Phuket Zoo and the tiger's trainer kept hitting it in the face with a big stick. Perhaps this was why the trainer only had one arm. It reminded me of the only Chris Rock joke that has ever stayed with me, "That tiger bit the man in the face and everyone is mad at the tiger. They keep saying, that tiger went crazy! That tiger didn't go crazy! That tiger went tiger!" You can see the joke for yourself in this clip if you skip ahead to about the 1:24 mark.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quinoa Salad


The food blogs all seem to be about quinoa these days! Quinoa! Quinoa! Quinoa! I admit to not being a big quinoa eater. I blame this on my years of healthfood store employment. The particular store where I worked served lunch to its employees every day, which was usually wonderful. We all took turns on lunch duty and there were just a few hardcore healthfoodists who put me off certain ingredients by making the kind of food that gives eating healthy a bad, bad name. Gigantic loaf of kasha covered in unseasoned, pasty mashed sweet potatoes? Sorry, not for me.

Quinoa was one of those things that I grew to dislike because of the way it was served to me. Dry, flavourless, and cold. Ugh. However, lately with all my blood sugar problems I have been on a quest for great foods to eat throughout the day to keep me feeling steady. And something inside me was calling for quinoa.

I made this salad based on the recipe that Post Punk Kitchen Isa made when she was being interviewed by a man who managed to act like everyone's clueless, meat-eating uncle.


Quinoa Salad

1 cup of dry quinoa
2 cups of water

1 cup edamame (shelled)
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa like you'd cook rice (boil two cups of water, add quinoa, turn down heat, cover and ignore) and then leave it to cool. If you are impatient (like me) put it in a mesh strainer and rinse it with cold water.

Mix all other ingredients with quinoa and mix everything well. The flavours will be nicer if this gets to sit in the fridge for a while and then served. Serve on lettuce leaves to be fancy.


Some Notes:

-We ate this with some grilled (until they turned to mush, oops!) tomatoes, and some herb and garlic scones from The Scone Witch. Everything was delicious. The Scone Witch could become a dangerous habit if I was in that neighbourhood more often.

-In the past few weeks I have been to two fairly fancy restaurants (with family) in Ottawa and both times the key vegetarian menu option was an open-faced roasted vegetable sandwich. I like roasted vegetables as much as the next person, but for restaurants (both!) who announce on their menus that they seek out local organic ingredients, you'd think there could be a bit more thinking outside the box. Our lunch today was nice, but that was because of the company and atmosphere, not really because of the creative food options. Other ottawegians? Any comments?

-I am still thinking about scones.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spinach Chickpea Triangles


Part of my job includes the analysis of daycare menus to make sure they are in keeping with the Canada Food Guide. You'd think this would be enjoyable, what with me being all into food and everything. Usually, though, it is a bit depressing. And then I try to talk people out of feeding children hotdogs.

One of the things that I was told by my nutritional contact at the Public Health department was that I should encourage daycare cooks to pack as many food groups as they can into each snack that is provided (they are required to provide a morning and afternoon snack as well as a lunch every day). I now require each snack to have at least two food groups represented and I tell them to ideally shoot for three.

This has, of course, seeped into my own life. I am especially delighted when I can concoct snacks that hit on three food groups. Like these awesome, awesome spinach pies. Legumes! Spinach! Grains! Woot!


Spinach Chickpea Triangles

First! Make this excellent pizza dough from Barbara Kingsolver's website. (or you can just use whatever pizza dough you usually buy/make)

Then! Make the filling:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium sized onion, chopped
four cups of spinach, chopped roughly
1 can's worth of chickpeas
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat, add onions and saute for a few minutes until they soften. Add all other ingredients and stir until the spinach has wilted. With a potato masher or a fork, smush it all up a few times so some of the chickpeas get crushed.

When the dough has risen, roll it out into thin, flat circles. I grabbed chunks that were bigger than golf balls, but smaller than my fist and those seemed to work out just fine.

And if you don't have a rolling pin, an empty vodka bottle makes a good one. It also makes it seem like your life is waaaay more debaucherous than it actually is.


Place a big spoonful of filling in the centre of each dough circle and fold the sides of the circle inwards so they overlap and turn the whole thing into a triangle.

spinach pies

Sprinkle some cornmeal or breadcrumbs on a baking sheet before you put the pies on it. Do it! Or your pies will stick and you will have to saw away at them with a spatula and all the joy of making such great snacks with be tainted by hardship. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.

Bake them at 350 until they start to brown. Probably ten minutes or so, depending on your oven.

Some notes:

-Can anyone tell me why my sidebar is suddenly waaaay down there? It used to be, well, on the side. Where a sidebar should be. (edited to add: What?! Now it's back in place. Maybe I should blog about some other problems and see if they magically correct themselves.)

-Welcome to everyone who came here from Yeah, That Vegan Shit because Lindy said my blog name was cute! Hooray! Vegan traffic!

-These pies are excellent dipped in hummus. Especially if you are stuck in day-long computer application training and the "lunch will be provided" lunch is turkey sandwiches. Yuck.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Soba Noodles In Tahini Sauce

soba and edamame

Hey check out my new header! Those are my shoes and some gigantic chard that was growing in Todd and Mary Claire's backyard. Chard! In the yard! It not only rhymes, it is amazing. 

I was trying to come up with a way to somehow metaphorically link this recipe to The Replacements (band, not football movie) but that proved to be a stretch, even for me. I didn't want to cheapen the band by putting it on par with a simple noodle dish. Plus, I didn't start eating soba noddles until 2006, but I heard my first Replacements album in 1991. I did not see this noodle dish drunkenly open for Elvis Costello at Canada's Wonderland. And I did not have the Replacements for dinner this evening. There's really no way to compare the two.

I'm tired. Can you tell?

It feels nice to get back to cooking after returning home from beautiful California. I decided to start simple with these noodles, and they did not disappoint. They may not be as classic as The Replacements, but they are much healthier.

evan dando

Soba Noodles in Tahini Sauce

Sauce part:

1 tbsp grated ginger
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped up small (use a tsp if you are using dried)
1/2 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of water
1 tbsp soy sauce

Mix all ingredients together. I mixed them by hand but only because I was too lazy to wash my blender. Blending them probably would have been easier.

Cook 1 package of soba noodles (my package was one of the round ones that is about big enough to wrap your thumb and index finger around.)

Chop up some vegetables, like the carrots and chard you just happen to have sitting in your nearly-empty fridge. Put chopped vegetables in a colander, and drain the boiling noodle water over them to cook them slightly.

Put vegetables and noodles in a bowl and add sauce. Toss to coat.

tahini sauce

Some Notes:

1. I ate this with a side of edamame for protein. It was a lovely combination.

2. The Man of Science taught me to keep my ginger in the freezer because frozen ginger is a dream to grate. This changed my life and saved my fingers from painful grater injuries.

3. My favourite Replacements album is Tim. But I also like Pleased To Meet Me and Don't Tell a Soul.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Vacation Food #3 - Orean Express

vegan fast food

Hooray! Orean Express! Vegan fast food! Delightful!

Todd and I had chicken burgers and Mary Claire had a burrito. We shared fries, and I had a vanilla carob shake. All vegan! All delicious! (except for Mary Claire's burrito which wasn't so great.) The chicken burgers were amazing, though. A big fakey chicken patty, with fresh lettuce and tomato on top, along with pickles and vegan mayo.

vegan chicken burger

And the shake was great. It took me a while to choose what flavour I wanted because they also offered chai, peanut butter, or strawberry. I would happily go back right now and get another chicken burger and a different milkshake to try, however it's the middle of the night and I need to go to bed.

Flying home tomorrow where there's cooking to be done. Stay tuned. When I get over my jet lag I'll make something delicious.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Vacation Food #2 - Vegan Breakfast

veggie breakfast

Just a quick post this time. Sean and I went for breakfast this morning before I left Ventura. We ate at a place called Pete's that I liked for its old timey diner type atmosphere. For some reason the vegetarian breakfast came with a vegan patty and two eggs. I ordered fruit instead of eggs and got this awesome plate of food. Also, there was unsweetened iced tea by the pitcher. God Bless America.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vacation Food #1 - Sushi with Felizon

My California hostess, Felizon, makes sushi that blows my own sushi right out of the water. She gave me some great tips tonight on how to make my own sushi even better. And, because I am nice, I will pass these tips on to you.

sushi ingredients

Felizon says that having a rice cooker makes for much better sushi rice than the conventional cook-on-stovetop method. And she swears by the large, flat bottomed wooden bowl that she put the rice in after it was cooked. I watched her do this and can attest to the fact that the rice cooled quickly. It was also pretty easy to mix in the sushi rice flavouring.


What? Pre-made sushi rice flavouring? Who knew such a thing existed? Not I. Felizon says she doesn't use it very often and urged me not to look at the ingredient list. "It has chemicals in it!" she exclaimed. Yes, it does. But you know, now and again, I can manage a few chemicals in the name of deliciousness.

There are probably a million instructional videos on the internet showing how to roll sushi, but this is ours. It is not very formal, in fact it is really more a record of us chatting than anything else, but you are able to get the basics on how sushi rolls are created. Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Vegan Crepes With Blueberries

blueberry crepes and tofu bacon

When I was making these crepes on Saturday morning, the Man of Science came into the kitchen and asked what all the sighing and muttering was about.

"Oh, you know," I said, feeling somewhat defeated, "My ongoing issues with flippable breakfast foods."

It's true, I have not once ever been able to make vegan french toast. Nor have I been able to properly execute the standard tofu omelets that a lot of my blogging brethren seem so skilled at preparing. Everything sticks and/or turns to mush. I've tried more oil, less oil, and a variety of pans and spatulas. Plain pancakes work out. Anything more complicated equals mess.

So you can imagine my sense of impending doom when I got down to the business of making pancakes for breakfast and discovered that the House of Science had no baking powder. I tried to stay calm. I'll just make some pancakes without baking powder, I thought. Do you know what they call pancakes without baking powder? Do you?

They call them "crepes".

Now, I had never attempted crepes before, but I was pretty sure that they sat firmly in the category of Breakfast Foods That Will End in Disaster. And I was right. The first crepe was a monumental shit show. The second one wasn't any better. They stuck to the pan, they wouldn't flip, half of each crepe was crusty and charred while the other half was raw and rubbery. I scraped each crepe's remains off the pan and grumbled. I reminded myself that Julia Child valued her failures in the kitchen as much as her successes. Think of Julia Child, I told myself, as I furiously knifed charred crepe batter from the edges of the cast iron frying pan. Julia! Child!

I tried several other crepes and discovered that if I kept the batter in the middle of the pan and didn't fuss with making it all nice and perfectly round, I could gently flip each crepe without it falling apart. And they cooked relatively evenly and were thin enough to roll.

So, in the interest of sharing what I have learned from this minor Saturday morning disaster, I will tell you this valuable piece of information: crepes don't actually have to look good. You can have a wonky-edged, unevenly poured crepe and no one will know. Because you are going to roll it up. And put delicious things inside it. A rolled up wonky crepe looks just as good as a rolled up regular crepe. And, fortunately for the Man of Science and I, they are also just as delicious.

form follows function :{

Vegan Crepes

1 cup of flour
egg replacer equal to 2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of soy milk
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
margarine for cooking

Place flour in a bowl and add wet ingredients. Whisk until well mixed.

Heat a pan on medium heat, add about a 1/2 tsp of margarine to the pan.

Pour batter, carefully tilt pan to spread the batter out. Cook until large bubbles appear in the centre of crepe, then flip and cook for a few minutes until brown.

Place finished crepes in warm oven until you're ready to eat them.

Roll and fill with whatever delicious stuff you want. I thawed out some frozen organic blueberries. Top with maple syrup.

batter batter batter

Some Notes:

- I will admit that I de-veganized my own plate of crepes by putting a bit of whipping cream in with the blueberries that I stuffed them with. It was delicious. The Man of Science ate his sans whipping cream and said they were also delicious.

- These were great with a side of tofu bacon.

- I am writing this in bed beside a snoozing Man of Science. He just yelped really loudly in his sleep and scared me so much I can't remember what my third note was going to be. He must be having a bad dream. That will teach us to watch movies about George Bush before bed.