Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good Morning, Starshine: Maple Pecan Granola

granola

Unlike the bagel-creamcheese-tomato devotee I married, I do not eat the same breakfast every day. It's not that I'm being particularly nutritionally responsible, I just wake up in the mood for different things on different days. I often think it would be easier to eat the same thing every day. I'm not a fan of actually having to think about things in the morning. This is why each night my running clothes get set out in the order that I'll put them on in the morning.

granola

Last week I fell prey to the lure of conveinience, and bought myself a box of maple pecan granola at the grocery store, and it was surprisingly delicious. I kept waking up in the mood to eat lots of it, which meant it was gone pretty quickly. Not feeling like I could afford to keep up this habit, I decided to make a batch of my own granola to replace the boxed stuff. Granola is so easy and cheap to make and so delicious I have no idea why I don't make it more often.

granola

Maple Pecan Granola

3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp safflower oil (or other light oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Over low heat, stir tahini, maple syrup, molasses, and oil in a small pot until everything has melted smoothly together.

Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring to coat the oat mixture. It's good to leave it a bit clumpy, so your granola has chunks instead of just a bunch of flakey oats.

In a 9 by 13 lasagna pan, spread out granola.

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until granola is crunchy and has darkened in colour.

granola

Eat To The Beat: Let's Go To The Beach - White Wires

J.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Can't Stop The Pie

pie

After I made quiche for the aforementioned vegan brunch, I had just enough pastry dough leftover to make a small apple pie for the Man of Science and me to share for dessert on Sunday evening. For the filling I sliced up two apples and tossed them with corn starch, agave, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit of whiskey, then baked the whole thing while we ate spaghetti. Easy as... well, easy as something.

pie

J.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Vegan Potluck Brunch Adventures (In Which I Am Uncharacteristically Social)

potluck brunch table

Although I usually spend Sunday afternoons at home reading the paper and getting caught up on important television watching, today I broke from that habit to attend a potluck vegan brunch hosted by Jill, creator of the excellent Vegan Backpacker blog. It was really fun to spend an afternoon talking about vegan and non-vegan-related things with a small group of Ottawa vegan ladies. It reminded me that maybe I should try being social with people I don't know very well more often.

my broccoli quiche

I made a broccoli tofu quiche from the recipe in Vegan Brunch, which is a fairly safe no-fail kind of recipe. And now that I've conquered crust, I was able to make a great flakey pastry crust for it. People who know that I write a cooking blog often tell me that they'd be too scared to cook for me. I feel like it's the other way around. If I'm cooking for people who know me from the blog I feel like I need to produce something impressive. Luckily this quiche looks and tastes great, so it is a winning potluck dish.

waffles, scones, cinnamon buns, and rice dish

The other dishes were mostly baked goods which was a-okay with me. Jill made waffles with chocolate in them (yum), Lisa, who cooks for a living at Market Organics, made some amazing spelt cinnamon buns, Laura, who bakes for a living at The Wild Oat, brought a vegan tortiere, Valerie made scones, and I can't remember who brought the great rice dish with dates and almonds. In case you can't tell from the photos, everything was delicious.

drinking chocolate

For an after-brunch treat, Krishna brought some drinking chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon to sprinkle onto it. We drank it out of tiny espresso cups and unanimously agreed it was awesome.

It was great, like I said, to be among my vegan people for an entire afternoon, especially when so many of them are also interested in cooking and trying new innovative techniques and recipes. Vegan whipped cream options were discussed extensively, which to me is the mark of any great dessert-related conversation.

Vegan Brunch Ladies

Thanks for such a great afternoon, ladies. Let's do it again some time.

J.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Cake and Coffee

table set

I've probably mentioned that our average sized house is heated entirely by one, kind of small, gas fireplace. Which means it gets a bit cold in here over the winter months. We get used to it, wear sweaters and slippers, know where the warmest spots in the house are, etc. However, we don't often have guests over. When we do they remark on how chilly their feet are.

table set

Now that it's warming up, we're starting to feel more able to have people over. So on Sunday we invited the Mother of Science, Aunt of Science and our friend Jamie over for coffee and cake. And tea for me, the non-coffee drinker. And cookies. And oranges. It was very nice. I made a version of this cake with raspberries and blackberries, and sprinkled the top with powdered sugar. The cookies were these ones from Veganomicon, but with some vegan white chocolate chips instead of regular chocolate chips. Delicious.

J.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Boom. Roasted.

breakfast vegetables

Way back in September, while waiting in line with our friend Hallie at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, my friend Joe reminded me of this bit from The Office in which Michael misses the point of a comedic roast. I believe the example Joe used for me was, "Jennifer. You're a Canadian and you wear a scarf even if it's 75 degrees outside. Boom. Roasted." So when I posted yesterday on Twitter that I was making a dish of roasted vegetables, he asked if in fact I didn't mean a dish of "Boom. Roasted." vegetables. Indeed. Score one for Joe.

breakfast vegetables

This dish came from me wanting to stray from our usual Saturday breakfast of scrambled tofu and oven-baked home fries. The Man of Science and I both had Friday off this week, so we'd already eaten that meal and by the time Saturday breakfast rolled around I was craving something a little bit different. And we'd been for a long walk with the dogs early in the morning, so something hearty was in order.

I modeled this dish on a vegan breakfast they had at our local Manx Pub for, oh, about ten seconds approximately eight years ago. I think it was the first vegan dish they put on their brunch menu and I loooooooved it. Really loved it. Apparently I was one of the few who felt this way because the dish was taken off the menu quickly and replaced with the more traditional tofu scramble burrito which is on offer to this day. I still miss the roasted vegetables, though.

breakfast vegetables

Boom Roasted Vegetable Breakfast

2 cups broccoli florets, cut small
1/2 pound tofu, diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 small yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp rosemary
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine all ingredients, except for salt and pepper, in a large bowl and toss to coat vegetables with oil and herbs.

In a large baking dish or cast iron skillet, bake mixture for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Season with salt and pepper.

Serves two very hungry people or four to six people if served as a side with other breakfast items.

I highly recommend serving this with miso gravy. I always use this recipe for mine and it never fails. In this case I think it completely made the dish.

breakfast vegetables

Some Notes:

-I just finished reading Portia De Rossi's book, Unbearable Lightness and I really enjoyed it. I have almost zero experience with eating disorders, having never (thankfully) been a dieter myself, so the book was kind of fascinating for me. It was depressing in parts, but I was really moved by the epilogue, where she describes how she got over her anorexia and changed her attitude about food completely. She also touches on her decision to become vegan, which was obviously interesting to me.

-The Man of Science, Mother of Science, and Aunt of Science and I went to Zen Kitchen for dinner last night. I hadn't been there since our ill-fated New Year's Eve dinner when I was thwarted by sudden-onset stomach flu (it was going around, no one escaped! )so I was looking forward to a do-over. The meal did not disappoint. We had the tasting menu which had a mexican/latin theme. The food was all delicious but the dessert was what really amazed us all. It was a vanilla "three milk" cake with coconut milk, coconut cream, and rice milk. There was a poached pear on top and some caramel sauce at the bottom, plus coconut whipped cream and blueberry sauce. They told us it's been so popular they're going to put it on their regular menu, so please eat it if you go. Totally worth it.

-Unrelated to food but completely related to Things I Love: The new Guild comic is out. I love The Guild and I love the extra glimpse into the characters' lives that the comics offer. The piece that I wrote for the These Are Not Movies anthology was inspired by watching The Guild, and I was naively surprised when no one who I spoke to about the piece seemed to know what The Guild was. I tend to think my enthusiasm for things is directly indicative of their wider popularity. Not the case. Anyway, if you've never seen The Guild I highly recommend it, especially if you like Doctor Horrible, The Big Bang Theory, and Things That Are Awesome.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: TLT (Tempeh Lettuce and Tomato)

tempeh lettuce tomato

I made this sandwich on Sunday at around 10 AM. We'd been out for breakfast (and newspaper reading) and as per usual I'd eaten potatoes, toast, fruit and tea. Not a horrible breakfast but one completely without protein. As a result I was really damn hungry by the time I got back home. Then that night I had a dream that I was begging the cafe where we eat breakfast to make me vegetarian sausages. Dear Ottawa, please some day have a restaurant that offers a proper vegan breakfast and opens early on Sundays. Thank you.

J.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Your Daily Ration of Oatmeal Bars

oatmeal bars

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog regularly knows that I travel a lot for work. I'm a daycare inspector, which means that I'm working in a different place every day, and spending a good portion of my work hours driving around town in my little Honda (the one with the "Reading is Sexy" bumper sticker on the back). Because of this weirdy weird job set up, I often don't stop formally for lunches or breaks, preferring instead to snack en route or while I'm working.

oatmeal

I started working on these oatmeal bars because I wanted something that would be easy to eat on the go, nice and filling, but not overly sweet. Blood sugar crashes don't help me analyze Anaphylaxis Emergency Plans, thank you very much. These bars fit the bill and, as a bonus, also include all the important food groups: nuts for protein, oats for grains, and dates for fruit. Balanced snacks for the win!

oatmeal bars

And they look great, don't they? Just be forewarned, they have no sugar in them, so while they kind of look like some kind of sweet, almondy treat you'd get at some grown up party, they are not like that at all. They are more like dense oatmeal muffins, in bar form. They taste nice, but more like a power snack than a sweet treat. Have one with your morning tea and you may not get the standard Imploding Stomach 11:45 Lunch Time Craving of Insanity. Or does that only happen to me?

mix

Almond, Oat and Date Snack Bars

3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooking dates
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 6 tbsp warm water
2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
sliced almonds for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix oats, walnuts, dates, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine flax mixture with almond milk.

Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until well combined.

Pour into a 9X13 pan (lasagna pan size). The pan should either be lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper. I recommend the parchment paper.

Bake at 350 for about an hour.


oatmeal bars

When my bars were finished, I thought the insides, while cooked, were a bit mushy for my liking. So I cut them up and put them back in the oven on a cookie sheet for ten additional minutes. Whether you do this is up to you, check the texture of your finished bars and then see how you feel.

Some Notes:

-Have you watched Downton Abbey? Have you? I first heard about it on one of the Jane Austen nerd blogs I read, and it looked intriguing. I told my mom about it because she has cable, and she reported back on it with great praise. I just started watching it this weekend and am now forcing myself to go slowly because there are only six episodes and I don't want it to end.

-I had the pleasure of actually meeting, in person, Mandi Loo from Auntie Loo's Treats this past Friday night. I'm actually surprised that we'd never met before, given that we know a lot of the same people and we're both vegany, punk rocky type girls. Anyway, she spotted me at The Manx Pub when I was drinking scotch with some friends and introduced herself. I was very pleased to hear that she likes this blog. Because boy, do I ever like her bakery.

-On a more serious note, just to spread the word, you can quickly donate $5 to the Red Cross relief efforts in Japan by texting the word REDCROSS to 330333 if you live here in Canada. It doesn't matter what cell phone network you're on and you can do it up to 6 times a month.

J.

Eat To The Beat: The Measure [SA] - Revisionist

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Non-Culinary Life

twin quilts

So, when I am not cooking, wrangling domestic animals, watching Big Bang Theory re-runs, working at my actual job, or embarrassing myself by telling the guys behind the desk at the library how happy it makes me to visit the library (true story), I sometimes make quilts. My friend Kat started a blog about quilting and she's letting me contribute to it. Maybe you'd like to check it out.

J.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pop Your Own Damn Popcorn (and other things that make me cranky)

cayenne popcorn

Did anyone else enjoy Mark Bittman's excellent hissy fit regarding MacDonald's breakfast oatmeal? The Man of Science sent the link to me as soon as he saw it, knowing that my own freak outs regarding "convenience" foods tend to take a similar tone.

See, I understand why people might want to buy instant versions of more complicated food. I know cooking certain kinds of foods takes time and effort and not everyone can spend half an hour in the kitchen at the end of a long day. What I don't get is "instant" versions of food that have fewer than three ingredients and take almost no time to prepare. Regular readers will know that I have a particular hatred for powdered iced tea. It's just tea! With ice! And lemon and sugar if you're fancy! Why does this need to be processed and powdered and loaded with chemicals? It makes me insane.

pop your own

Guess what else I feel this way about? You got it. Popcorn. When I was a kid, I'm pretty sure that popcorn was made on the stove top. Then suddenly there were large, clunky one-use kitchen appliances specifically for doing this job. Then came chemically saturated, oily, smelly little packets and microwaves with one-touch settings just to turn them into popcorn!

Okay, I'll admit that I have never, since moving out of the house I shared with friends in my second year of university, had a microwave in my kitchen. So I have not really left myself with the option of having microwave popcorn, even if I thought it was a good idea. But I don't think it is a good idea. At least not when you have an obliging stove top at your disposal.

I made a big bowl of popcorn for the Man of Science and I to share on Saturday afternoon and it took me less than five minutes, start to finish. The popcorn that I used was organic, bought cheaply from the bulk bins at a nearby health food store. I popped it with a bit of safflower oil and then sprinkled mine with salt and pepper and the Man of Science's with salt and cayenne pepper. It tastes better than microwaved popcorn. It is better for us. We get to choose our own seasonings. The clean up is fairly negligible. What's not to love?

cayenne popcorn

So, if you've never popped popcorn on the stove top here's how you do it:

Find a medium sized pot with a reasonably thick bottom, and some kind of lid.

Pour enough oil into the pot so that there is a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pot.

Toss in three or four popcorn kernels. These are your canary kernels. They'll pop to let you know that the oil is ready.

Heat the pot over medium heat with the lid on until you hear the kernels pop.

Dump in 1/2 cup kernels and put the lid back on.

Shake the pot a bit. Rest it on the heat for a few seconds. Shake the pot again. Rest it on the heat again.

Repeat until popping slows down to one pop every five seconds or so. Remove from heat.

Season as you see fit.

Enjoy while getting caught up on American Idol and thinking about how your mom must be in love with Paul MacDonald because he's all cute and bearded and charming and now he's gone and sang "Maggie Mae" to seal the deal.*

popcorn and American Idol

It snowed a lot last night. I try not to complain about such things, but I'm tired of winter. So please excuse my crankiness.

J.

*Optional

Eat To The Beat: P.J. Harvey - The Last Living Rose

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dosarama - Guru Lukshmi in Mississaugua, Ontario

"spicy" tofu dosa

The Man of Science and I had to take a somewhat unexpected trip to Toronto this week, so I don't have a regular recipe post for you all right now. All I cooked before we left were muffins, and since approximately 77% of the recipes I post are muffin recipes, there's no need to post yet another variation of that theme.

Instead, let me quickly tell you about the restaurant where the Parents of Science brought us last night for dinner. We are staying in Mississauga, an industrial-parky suburb of the city, so pardon me if my hopes for vegan food weren't super high. However, in the middle of strip mall, right alongside a pet store and a convenience mart, there was Guru Lukshmi.

thumbs up

The restaurant was jammed when we got there, all bright lights and crying babies. We were the only white people in the place, which I took to be a good sign. The menu is full of variations of dosa, all made on site and served with a variety of condiments. We started with some appetizers, which I forgot to photograph. My favourite were the vada(s?) deep fried lentil-based donuts. Really, what's not to like about something deep fried and donut-like which also manages to include lentils? The rest of the table also had samosas*, which looked very nice as well.

I was enthralled by the Indian cola pictured above. Thums Up! The waiter was a bit thrown when the Man of Science ordered some and wanted to know if he'd been to India and tried some. We said no, we were just curious. He brought two bottles of the drink which tasted just like Coke to me, as I am no cola connoisseur. The waiter explained that the bottles are reused over and over again to bottle the drink. And sure enough our bottles looked like they'd been around the block a few times.

masala dosa

I knew immediately that I wanted the Masala Dosa, just like I eat at my beloved Ceylonta in Ottawa. The Man of Science mocked me for ordering something I'd already eaten, but a) I wanted to compare it to Ceylonta's version, b) it was one of the few options without butter or cheese, and c) shut up, I just like it.

As it turned out, it tasted really similar to Ceylonta's version, only with slightly less filling inside. What really stood out for me were the condiments. I will not even try to identify what everything was, but I loved the heavy, fresh cilantro flavour in the green, coconuty dip the best. I totally cleaned my plate.

delicious

So, this was a pleasant surprise. I would highly recommend it if you find yourself in Mississauga. Much appreciation to my in-laws who did the research to find the place and who are always happy to go out for vegetarian food when we see them.

J.


* I have a bit of a samosa thing, similar to my vegetarian lasagna/chili thing. Basically, I overdosed on them in the years when they were one of the few ubiquitous vegetarian items available and now I have no desire to eat them when there are other options on offer.