Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Well, dear readers, it's been a bit mental around here lately. My move to the House of Science went off without any calamity, but since then things haven't exactly gone according to plan. I spent Thursday afternoon unpacking the kitchen boxes and hauling things around in general to allow us to actually live here, amongst the boxes. Then Friday morning I drove to Oakville to visit Kat and her lovely, albeit germy, young children.
Yes, the germs got me. Hardly a sniffle all winter only to be felled in the spring by the snot of youth. I stayed home from work today, lying in bed, feeling weak and useless. Unpacked boxes stayed unpacked while I listened to old episodes of This American Life and routinely missed the ends of stories as I fell into feverish sleep. Unpleasant.
However! Before I succumbed to sickness last night I made a batch of excellent soup and some equally excellent flatbread to go with it. This soup is one of those recipes that is simple to make but is greater than the sum of its parts when actually eaten. It ends up with a great roasty taste to it, and the red lentils make it hearty and filling.
The flatbread is a take on a recipe that I got from a Martha Stewart magazine about a decade ago. I used this "Nutriblend" flour to make it. I don't normally go for the name brand flours when no-name or bulk stuff will do just fine, but I picked this up because I was curious about its "fibre like whole wheat, taste like white" claims. It worked well, but I think next time I'll just mix whole wheat and white flour like I normally do.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter or vegan margarine
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne (more for a spicier soup)
1 cup dry red lentils
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups veg soup stock
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped small
In a medium sized soup pot, heat olive oil and butter or margarine over medium high heat and toss in garlic, bay leaves, and cayenne.
Rinse lentils and add them to the garlic mixture. Stir to combine.
Add tomatoes, soup stock, and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring frequently so lentils don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
When soup is boiling, cover and reduce the heat. Let it simmer until lentils are fully cooked. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary.
1 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
Combine yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Let sit for five minutes.
Add flour, oil, and salt. Mix until a blob of dough forms.
Dump blob of dough onto floured counter top, knead until it becomes nice and elasticy.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let sit in a warm place for half an hour.
Heat a frying pan to medium high.
Roll dough into four or six even, flat circles.
Brush each circle of dough lightly with a mixture of oil and salt.
Cook each flatbread for about a minutes on each side.
1. I used the House of Science grill pan to do this bread and it turned out so well. Normally I scoff at all but the most rudimentary of kitchen products, but I am in love with this grill pan. In love!
2. There are ants in my kitchen. And wow, do they ever not like the tasty mix of dish soap and cayenne powder that I spread around their hang out spots. Still, I am annoyed by them and want them to go away. The Man of Science says they will go away now that we've started keeping the lid tightly on the compost bin.
3. This soup was equally tasty when I had the leftovers for lunch today. This might be a make-double-and-freeze-half recipe in the future.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
So, for the five of your left in the world who haven't heard me complain about it yet: I am moving. Tonight is my last night in my apartment before I permanently relocate to the House of Science. If I weren't so tired and covered in muck and dust and random Sharpie smudges, I'd jump up and down and yell "Hooray!"
Of course, to combine my household with that of the Man of Science I've had to downsize significantly. I didn't mind, given that I am already pretty stuff-adverse. So far my desk, couch, kitchen table, and coffee table have all been re-homed. Not to mention the piles of books and clothes that I've weeded out.
One way I got rid of stuff was to invite a bunch of friends over last week for a little "say good bye and take my stuff" party. It worked out pretty well. Lots of friends and dogs showed up and people ate, drank, watched the dogs chase each other around the living room, and even actually took home some of my stuff.
The one problem I faced that night was how to deliver on the snacks I promised in the invitation I sent out. My food supplies were dwindling and my time was fairly limited. Somehow, in the two hours between the end of the work day and the beginning of the party, I needed to come up with some kind of delicious snack food. First I looked at what I had in the cupboards.
I stared at everything for a while. Then it came to me. Panzaratti. Snacky, easy, quick, and delicious. Apparently all this packing and complaining hasn't totally ruined my brain.
Improv Vegan Panzaratti
One recipe for pizza dough. My favourite, as always, is this one.
1/2 can tomatoes, blended until smooth
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup loosely packed spinach, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, minced
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, minced
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle of cornmeal
Prepare the dough and set it aside to let it rise.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat olive oil on medium high, then add onion and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until onion is transparent.
Add tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, and sugar. Reduce heat to medium.
When mixture begins to boil, add the rest of the ingredients. Let cook until spinach is wilted.
Let cool almost completely before filling panzaratti.
Roll pizza dough into small, flat circles. Place a spoonful of filling on one side of the circle. Fold other side over to form a half-circle and press the edges together with a fork.
On a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, place all the panzaratti relatively close together. Bake for approximately ten minutes, or until dough begins to brown.
-I only had whole wheat flour left in my kitchen, so I didn't end up doing the mix of flours that the recipe calls for. Next time I would absolutely mix the flours. The purely whole wheat version of these snacks was good, but a bit on the heavy side.
-I froze all of the leftovers and ate these as lunches and snacks all this week when I had no time or utensils to cook with. This worked out very well.
-I said good bye to my beloved formica and chrome kitchen table today, but our parting was not all sorrow. I donated the table to the Raw Sugar Cafe which stands in retro splendor at the end of my street. Nadia, the owner, shares my affinity for tables of yore, and she was delighted to have my table in her cafe. She loaded me up with free hummus, tabbouleh, pita and cookies to show her appreciation. And now I can visit my table whenever I want to.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
On Friday after work I stopped by the grocery store to see what looked good for dinner. Sometimes I think I would like to see a video of myself in the produce section. It would probably be very entertaining. I spent so much time on Friday afternoon circling displays, talking to myself, contemplating recipes, and comparing various vegetables, I'm sure the Loblaws employees thought I was nuts. On second thought maybe I don't want to see a movie of myself shopping. Eventually, the inspiration came to do a kind of tapas dinner. Lots of different plates of vegetables, cooked simply.
I don't often think about cheese, given that I eat and cook vegan most of the time. But I had just seen Jamie Oliver do lovely things with haloumi, basil, and strawberries on his "Jamie At Home" program, and I was set on giving that a try myself. It looked super easy. He pressed basil leaves onto slices of haloumi and then seared them in a hot pan. Then he covered the slices with strawberries and sprinkled the whole mess with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
As you can see from my own salad, I went with blackberries instead of strawberries. The strawberries at the grocery store were horrid looking, but the blackberries looked fresh and juicy. Other than that, I did exactly what I just described. Press, sear, cover in berries, pour on olive oil and balsamic vinegar. No need to fuss with a longer recipe. This was simple and delicious.
The other dishes came together in a shockingly short amount of time. There is something to be said for very simple food with classic ingredients. I used the same combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic on all the vegetables and everything ended up complimenting everything else.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I posted a variation of this a while ago on my other blog, but this new, tweaked version was so delicious, I felt the need to post it here as well.
I really love granola cereals and yet I never want to buy them at the store because they seem insanely expensive. Making my own granola has ruined me for store bought granola for the rest of my life. It's just oats! And some other stuff! Why does a tiny box of it cost five dollars?
Cashew Mango Granola
3 cups oatmeal
2/3 cup of raw cashews, chopped up a bit
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1/4 cup of sesame or flax seeds
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1/4 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of dried mango, chopped into small pieces
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix the oatmeal, cashews, coconut, and seeds.
Melt tahini, oil, and maple syrup.
Pour tahini mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir until it is fully mixed in.
Spread granola on a cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes then stir and return to oven for another 8 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes and then mix in the dried mango.
-Wow, is it ever hard to find natural, un-sulphered dried mango at the grocery store. I had to wander around forever until I found some. I don't even remember why sulphates are bad, though I've heard they cause headaches and I'm all about avoiding any headachey stuff.
-The last batch of this became my go-to after work snack. It reminded me of my high school days when I would finish school, walk home, and then eat huge bowls of Special K while watching MuchMusic.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Cooking is far more fun than raking leaves. To that I can mightily attest. I raked and bagged leaves in the backyard at the House of Science for a few hours yesterday and then couldn't wait to get back into the kitchen again. Yes, it's true, I prefer domestic tasks to yard work. Feminism, it's all about choice, ladies. Give me some laundry to do and a meal to make and I will happily putter through those tasks, but after an hour of raking I was walking around muttering obscenities with a little black cloud of grouch hovering over my head.
In fact, I have been so enthralled with new recipes lately, I woke up this morning thinking about fake eggs. Would it be possible, I wondered, to create something out of tofu that looked exactly like a fried egg?
No. No it would not.
I had this vision of how I could fry blobs of blended silken tofu into egg-like shapes, and then fry smaller blobs- turned yellow by turmeric- to look like yolks. Trust me, it made sense during the early hours of the morning.
What I was trying to create was a recipe from the book 200 Veggie Feasts by Louise Pickford. The Mother of Science sent it to me this past Christmas and I love it because each recipe has a really good photo accompanying it. The recipe in the book has a cooked egg on top of a bed of hashbrowns. It looked delicious. However, given that my original tofu-egg plan resulted in nothing more than a sputtering, hissing, greasy disaster, I knew I'd have to recreate it in a slightly less visually faithful manner.
Fake Eggs and Real Potatoes
4 medium potatoes, grated
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp each salt and pepper
sunflower oil for frying
After grating potatoes, dry them with a clean tea towel to get the moisture out. Then mix in the onions, rosemary, and salt and pepper.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Drop a handful of potato mixture into the oil and press it down with the back of your spatula so it all fuses together in a nice little puck. Flip it after a few minutes and cook until both sides are brown and crispy.
Now you can put them in the oven on a cookie sheet at 300 degrees to bake a bit more while you're cooking the "eggs".
1 package of firm silken tofu
1 tsp turmeric
1 glove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tbsp olive oil
Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until it becomes a smooth batter.
In the same greasy frying pan that you used for the potatoes, cook pancake sized blobs of batter, flipping after a few minutes.
Serve the "egg" layer over top of the potato layer and garnish with parsley and, if you like, hot sauce.
-The Man of Science wanted me to mention that he really liked this meal. We discussed having some kind of symbol that I can attach to these blog posts to indicate that they are extra delicious by his standards.
-I have no more notes tonight. It has been a long weird day due to electricity issues at the House of Science that led to me having to take all three dogs to my apartment which is fine, but not very interesting after I've watched one movie, one episode of the Amazing Race, packed up ten boxes of books for my impending move, and listened to two Dan Savage podcasts. I'm so ready to go to bed. And not in the sexy way.
Friday, April 10, 2009
It's Good Friday! And do you know what that means? It means that unless you planned ahead, you'll be driving to gas stations in Quebec to buy booze with a bunch of other disorganized Ontarians. And if you're lucky, your boyfriend will buy you a Lisa Simpson key chain while you're there.
So yeah. The Man of Science and I spent all of our driving-around energy on the aforementioned booze and key chain run, which left me with no ambition to truck around town trying to find dinner ingredients. Next year I'll remember about Easter, I swear. Luckily, the House of Science had enough in the pantry to make this delicious shepherd's pie.
I know a lot of vegan cooks like to make their shepherd's pie as traditionally as possible, but I for one am always disappointed when presented with a meal of TVP in tomato sauce topped with potatoes. I'm not a big TVP fan and besides, that meal needs more vegetables.
So, dear readers, I present you with this recipe for a more vegetabley version of the humble shepherd's pie. It was the perfect way to soak up the beer in our bellies.
Vegan Shepherd's Pie
5 large white potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup brown lentils
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
3 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup corn
1 heaping tbsp light miso
1 cup water
salt and pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Boil and mash your potatoes as you normally would. Remember the holy trinity of salt, oil, and unflavoured soy milk.
Cook the lentils with the bay leaf. I used three cups of water to the one cup of lentils.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet or frying pan, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add celery, rosemary, basil, and wine vinegar.
Dump in the lentils and whatever cooking liquid is left in their pot. Remove bay leaf.
Add corn and let mixture simmer for a minute.
Add miso and gradually add water. Mixture should now have some liquid in it, but not be overly soupy.
When celery is softened, add parsley and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Spread mashed potatoes over top of lentil mixture and bake in the oven until the filling gets bubbley, about ten minutes. I put some soy parmesan, pepper, and basil on top of my potato crust before putting it in the oven.
You can let it sit under the broiler for another three to five minutes if you want the potato crust to brown up nicely.
-One of the very practical tips I learned from watching Jamie Oliver on TV is this: when you are doing a mish mash dish like this with a lot of ingredients, cut everything up to be around the same size so it is more pleasant to eat. For this one I tried to cut up my onions and celery to be small like the corn and the lentils.
-For mashed potatoes, I always add a few cloves of garlic to the potatoes during the boiling period. When it is time to mash them, the garlic is soft and just gets mashed in too. It gives them a nice, subtle garlicy flavour.
-The Man of Science had three helpings of this, proclaiming its deliciousness multiple times.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Once, when I was in an all-girl rock band, we went down to New York City to play a show at a festival called Ladyfest East. A bunch of crazy stuff happened on that trip, most of which is itemized in handy list form in this old post from my other blog.
I mention in that post that some of us got sick on that trip. What I didn't say was that EVERYBODY got sick on that trip. We were all varying degrees of ill the entire time. And, being healthfoody types, we were all constantly trying to quash the sickness with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
I remember my friend Jessica, not a band mate but along for the ride, looking on in amazement while our drummer, Misse, and I washed down chunks of raw garlic with cup after cup of orange juice. Misse also caused a minor stir in a fruit market in Brooklyn when we were getting some lemons for lemon-ginger tea. When I tried to pay for the lemons, she pushed some money at the cashier. "I'm buying you lemons," she said. "Why are you buying me lemons?" I asked. "Because I LOOOOOOOOOOVE YOU!" she howled. Everyone looked at us like we were weirdos.
I am not really into the vast quantities of raw garlic anymore, but I do turn to certain foods when I feel like I'm fighting a cold. On Monday night I was feeling a bit under the weather (It was snowing! What horrid weather to be under!) and by the time I dragged myself through the door at the end of the day, all I wanted was soup.
Don't Get Sick! Squash Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, smushed and then chopped
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4-6 cups of veggie soup stock (depending on how thick you like your soup)
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Saute for a couple minutes, until onions have started to cook.
Add squash and ginger, stir, and cover for three to five minutes.
Add soup stock, herbs, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low, and cook until squash is very tender.
Blend soup until it is all smooth and there are no more squash lumps to be seen.
-I was going to call this recipe "Squash the Sickness Soup" but then that seemed a bit too Looney Spoons.
-This soup wasn't as thick as the soups I normally make, but I did that on purpose so I could drink it from a travel mug at lunch the next day. If you aren't sure about the consistency, I'd recommend starting out with less soup stock and adding more as needed.
-I ate this with some delicious Fat Free Vegan Kitchen mini crustless tofu quiches. Leftovers of both those and the soup made for a great and easy-to-eat-on-the-go lunch the next day. And yes, I think I've successfully fought off my cold.
Monday, April 6, 2009
The House of Science enjoyed a dinner guest this evening. Sonja, a long time friend of the MoS, is in Ottawa now, living with a coworker and getting affairs in order to allow for her husband and children to follow her here. Her visit made me feel the need to clean up (no fun, but useful) and to cook a lot (fun AND useful!) There was roasted garlic, French bread, two kinds of homemade pizza, and this lovely, vegan Cesar salad. Oh, and chocolate cake, strawberries, and whipped cream for dessert. Yes, I am a good hostess. Thanks for noticing.
The salad was the only thing on the menu that I'd never made before, and I figured that even if it was a huge flop the dinner would work out just fine. So I was especially delighted when it turned out to be remarkably tasty.
I have never been a big fan of Cesar salad in general. It always seemed to taste heavy and creamy and fishy and bacony. And also, if I'm going to the trouble of eating salad, I would like that salad to be good for me. I never got that healthy salady feeling from Cesar salad. However, this salad had all the lovely creamy taste of the original dish but none of the bad-for-you stuff. I am actually looking forward to eating it again. And the MoS who is quite indifferent to salads enjoyed this as well, which says something.
Cesarish Salad (adapted from Vegan Planet)
four slices of whole grain bread
four tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
Cut bread into crouton-sized chunks and toss with olive oil and herbs.
Set oven to 400 degrees and spread croutons out on a baking sheet.
Bake for five to seven minutes, turn over, and bake for five minutes more. Croutons should be toasted and crunchy.
Two or three hearts of romaine lettuce, ripped up into bite-sized pieces
1 heaping tbsp tahini
1 tbsp light miso
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients (except lettuce) and stir until smooth.
Toss lettuce in dressing, add croutons, toss some more.
An entirely unrelated note:
-Did anyone else read this "Cooking With Dexter" article in the New York Times today? I think I might write a letter about it. It was this part that annoyed me the most:
“Those farmers take good care of their pigs, and then when they’re big enough, they kill them to make meat for us.”
“But that’s sad,” Dexter said.
Sometimes he thinks just like a 4-year-old. It’s a great disappointment to me.
I don't think it's unsophisticated at all to acknowledge that it is sad to kill an animal. If I were a parent, I would hope that my child would indeed feel sad that animals are killed. I wonder if the author would be as disappointed with his son if the boy felt sad about the death of a family dog or cat?
I appreciate that the father in the article has taken his son to a farm sanctuary, but I certainly didn't see eye to eye with him when he spent most of the rest of the article talking about his own gleeful enjoyment of meat-eating. I know people eat meat, I am not going to fight with them about it, but I admit my heart did sink when I read that he felt his son was somehow simple minded because he was sad than a living animal was to be killed and eaten.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I had a bit of free time at the end of my day today, so I bought the Man of Science some pants. Because basically, if it weren't for me buying him pants and sweaters, the MoS would be walking around in a barrel with suspenders attached to it. I don't mind this facet of our relationship at all, given that I have a bit of thing for men's clothing. Nothing like a bit of tweed to get a girl's heart pumping.
Anyway, not only did I buy him pants, but I also called him at work to ask what he might like to have for dinner tonight. Because I am excellent and aim to please.
He felt like a bowl of noodle soup, which was perfect because I live in Chinatown and was able to procure my ingredients quickly once I got home from work and collected Shy Dog to be my grocery companion. She couldn't come into the Kowloon Market with me, but she seemed to enjoy the sunshine outside just fine while I shopped.
I based this soup on a dish that my friend Adam and I used to eat at the Temptation Tea Shop on Bank Street. We only ever referred to it as "Giant Soup". In fact, the Giant Soup label became so pervasive that it not only came to symbolize the restaurant itself, ("Where do you want to eat?" "I dunno. Giant Soup, maybe?") but also the act of going there ("What should we do tonight?" "Giant Soup?"). Then we found out that the recipe had changed and Giant Soup now had fish stock in it. Ew. No more Giant Soup. Except the home made kind. So this recipe is for Adam especially. He is high on my list of soup partners.
1 package of udon noodles
1 block of tofu, cut into one inch squares
3 tbsp sunflower or other oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
8 cups water
5 tbsp miso
2 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
1 cup carrots, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 cup edamame beans
4 green onions, chopped
handful cilantro leaves
Cook udon noodles according to package directions. Or if, say, the directions are in Japanese, boil them in water for a few minutes and then drain then in a colander and hope for the best.
Heat both oils over medium high heat, and pan fry tofu until it is golden. Set it aside for now.
Bring water to a boil, then add miso, ginger, rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and hot sauce. Add carrots and let them cook for a few minutes. Then add red pepper, edamame, and tofu.
Fill bowls 3/4 full with noodles, then pour soup over them. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.
-This is a very cheap meal to make, especially if you have an Asian market in your neighbourhood. One of those recession friendly dinners that the media is all over right now.
-My new favourite food show is Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home". It has the slightly slower pace of British television and basically just chronicles him trooping out into his garden, picking some vegetables, and making something delicious with them. The recipes, while not vegan by any stretch of the imagination, are uncomplicated enough for viewers to make in their own homes. I much prefer him in that venue than cooking for all the G20 leaders.
-The Man of Science seems confident that he will be able to build a fence to section off part of the yard this spring. This means I will be able to grow the vegetable garden which has been living in my imagination for quite some time. I am both excited and nervous about this. I will keep you posted.