the taste space

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on August 29, 2013

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

Simple.

That has been my mantra lately.

Quick and easy.

Especially when it comes to desserts.

This is one of those OMG, are you for real? desserts.

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

I didn’t believe it either, until I tried it. However, the success of your dessert lies within your banana. Not overripe bananas. Just ripe bananas, with just a few spots.

I mean, is there anything bananas CAN NOT DO? One frozen whipped banana makes a delicious ice cream. For this creme brulee, you could go all fancy, and add coconut milk, creamer, avocado, tofu perhaps, but this is for those without a big pantry.

Blend banana, thin with a bit of nondairy milk, and flavour with vanilla. Top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar. Broil for 3 minutes or until the top is melted.

That’s it!

If your banana is overripe, it will taste like pureed banana. But if you catch it right as it turns ripe, you’re in for a treat. :)

Enjoy!

Ridiculously Easy Banana Creme Brulee

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Favourites by Janet M on August 27, 2013

Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

As I shared earlier, slowly, Rob and I are exploring different ethnic grocers in Houston. Each weekend, we have been heading to a new place. Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, though.

We wanted to go to Little India but everything was closed when we were there early in the morning (yes, we are the early birds). Chinatown was our alternate choice. Since it is more of a big box store Chinatown that necessitates driving between stores, the dilemma was figuring out which grocer to hit up first. I had 3 stores starred. I picked the one that we knew was open early, the one that also happened to be the closest and the one that had great online reviews.

The parking lot was empty but we ventured in. Let’s just say it was a sad store. I picked up some snow peas and bean sprouts. We left a bit sad. I always gauge a store by the state of their produce. I was hoping for better quality produce and to be honest, much cheaper prices. Whole Foods was better priced, which doesn’t say much.

Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

Uncertain what the rest of Chinatown would hold, we figured we would check out another grocer. The next on the list was Welcome. This time, though, the parking lot was nearly already packed for an early Saturday morning. Definitely a better sign. Their produce section was busy with so many people, snapping up the best produce, clamouring for the cases of mangos or picking the best greens. Good prices and good quality. Now I was a happy camper! Chinatown had been vindicated.

I still had the snow peas and bean sprouts which Rob and I put to good use by making pad thai. I was the sous chef as Rob made pad thai for me, complete with kelp noodles and snow peas. He slipped the fresh pad thai onto my plate. It was so pretty, I had to take a photo.

Snow Pea & Tofu Pad Thai

I don’t photograph many dishes twice. Especially if it is a regular in our kitchen and Rob’s signature dish, at that. But these photos turned out much better than my first post. We tinkered with the recipe only slightly, mainly by adding more tamarind. However, that’s because we had a new brand (Swad) and it doesn’t seem as potent as what we were used to (Tamicon or the blue top one). This version turned out so well though, so if you prefer things less tart, try to find this brand of tamarind. Otherwise, 3 tbsp of concentrate may be tamarind overload! :)

And for anyone curious, we found the kelp noodles at H-Mart. Around $3 for a Korean brand, which is even cheaper than Vitacost and Sea Tangle directly.

swad tamarind concentrate

Do you re-photograph your pretty meals?

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Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 22, 2013

Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale

I have already mentioned some of the delicious flora (ok, the fruit) in Texas (local oranges, grapefruits and avocados! We’ve even seen a papaya tree here!) but what about the fauna?

1. Mosquitoes. I am well acquainted with mosquitoes, thankyouverymuch, but they are simply merciless here. Worse of all, they target me (not Rob), and they leave large welts. In Canada, I would rarely be targetted and it was a mild reaction.  I had a lot of bites in Colombia, but still none were as large and bothersome. Judging by my co-workers (n=6), all new females have been scourged with the same problem. Thankfully, they have abated somewhat but sometimes they still catch me in my front yard. I blame all my sweating in this Texan heat.

2. Ants. Talking about bug bites, you have to be careful around ants here. I don’t know if they were fire ants or crazy ants (I did not make that up), but they are vicious and will bite and leave pus-filled lesions. Not nice. They caught me once as I was sitting on a sidewalk, helping to fix Rob’s flat tire. Hopefully it will be the last.

3. Frogs.  I also know what frogs are.. although I haven’t really hung out with them too much. While we don’t live near a swamp, after a rain, frogs have been known to hang out ALL NIGHT LONG, CROAKING. I haven’t seen them, but that is who I am blaming for my sleepless nights.

4. Lizards. This is a new one for me (I had to ask what it was – someone thought it was a gecko but we don’t think so. salamander? small iguana?) It is a small guy and there is one right outside our home. I hear they eat bugs, so I am not worried. Eat those mosquitoes, yo!

5. Armadillos. Apparently armadillos can be found in Texas, but I have yet to see any. Judging by the presence of a Houston Armadillo Removal service, they must be found locally. ;)

6. Snails. OK, we have snails in Toronto, too, but I rarely see them in my garden. I used to see them squashed on the bicycle trails, actually. I haven’t seen wild snails here either, though. Although, what I found most amusing is that I had snails in my kale from Rawfully Organic. Organic kale, indeed. My homegrown organic kale gets massacred by aphids in Toronto, but here, there are snails!

And every time I say snails in the kale, I think of bananas in pyjamas! For the record, pajamas is the American spelling. My blog is my spelling refuge. I add extra u’s as I see fit. ;)

This was my long-winded interlude to tell you all about a super simple dish: cheezy chickpeas and kale. A cooked version of my Easy Cheezy Chickpea Salad, this is nearly as simple, although it does require dirtying a skillet. The combination of coconut oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic create a lovely nude sauce. The chickpeas soak it up but become nicely cheezy afterwards. I liked this warm, straight from the stovetop and they were very nice cold as leftovers the next day.

Do you have any fun local animals? I imagine raccoons could also be seen as weird creatures for the uninitiated. This fun video of a raccoon walking on a utility wire was shot very close to where I used to live in Toronto.

Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.


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Guaca-Chi (Guacamole with Kimchi)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Appetizers, Favourites by Janet M on August 20, 2013

Guaca-Chi (Guacamole with Kimchi)

Remember our warm avocado greeting? To be honest, comparatively, Texas does not grow very many avocados. In the US, avocadoes are mainly grown in California and Florida or imported from Mexico and Chile. True, we are much closer to all those places than when we lived in Canada.

One of Rob’s self-imposed goals this year was to perfect guacamole while we live in the land close to avocados. However, after making this, our plans have been put on hold. This is just too good. Better than guacamole and even simpler. A seemingly crazy concoction of avocado and kimchi with a bit of tang from citrus juice (we’ve used both lime and orange juice with good success). The spicy, tangy kimchi works well with the creamy avocado and sweet orange juice or tart lime juice.

Just like guacamole, it is a great dip and a flavourful topper paired with flavourful dishes like pupusas.

I wish I could take credit for this wonderful dip, but I stole it from Joe Yonan’s new cookbook Eat Your Vegetables. While it isn’t vegan, it is a vegetarian cookbook aimed to help the single cook. The recipes are geared for 1-2 people, with tips on how to use up odds and ends from cooking. Personally, I am a big fan of leftovers, but I can appreciate the value of fresh, flavourful cooking throughout the week. His recipes span super simple, such as this one, to more elaborate fare that I could not imagine cooking just for one. All look bold on flavours. I also enjoyed his laissez-faire recipes, teaching you to listen to your food on the stove, instead of the prescribed directions. He’ll direct you to saute your onions until brown instead of “for 10 minutes”.

Need other ideas for kimchi? Joe includes a recipe for homemade kimchi but also has you covered in case you get bored of guaca-chi: Sweet Potato, Kimchi and Greens Hash; Kimchi Deviled Eggs; Cold Spicy Ramen Noodles with Tofu and Kimchi and even Grilled Kimcheese. Of course, you could also try my Enoki, Broccoli and Tofu Bowl with Kimchi.

PS. A few people commented on my last kimchi post, but I wanted to highlight that yes, indeed, kimchi is usually not vegan nor vegetarian. There is usually shrimp or fish sauce in it. Making it at home is great (I should really do that again) but there are vegan versions out there.

Guaca-Chi (Guacamole with Kimchi)

This is my submission to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona and this week’s Raw Food Thursday.

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Enoki, Broccoli & Kimchi Tofu Rice Bowl (Vegan Bibimbap)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 17, 2013

Enoki, Broccoli & Kimchi Tofu Rice Bowl

In addition to cycling through Houston, Rob and I are also discovering Houston, one grocer at a time. After chowing through our organic produce, we started exploring my hitlist of ethnic grocers, one weekend at a time.

First of all, though, our Rawfully Organic broccoli lasted 3 weeks. WOAH! Gotta love that!

Second, because I love Asian produce, the first ethnic grocer we picked was H-Mart, a Korean market. It is a chain that has branches as far as California and New York, so you may be familiar with it. It reminded a lot of T&T, actually. A large, clean store with fresh produce, mostly Asian with a heavy Korean slant, with reasonable prices. They had a whole giant section just for kimchi. Rob picked out a house-made vegan kimchi for us to try. Turns out it wasn’t as blow-off-your-face hot as kimchi can be… score for me!

We also picked up a few different bags of brown rice. I am very particular about my brown rice and we both absolutely loved these finds. While both are short grain brown rice, the Sukoyaka Genmai Brown Rice produces the most fluffy and sticky rice (that doesn’t even taste like brown rice, imho). I can’t seem to find the other one online (it is made by Organic Farm and is a 50/50 blend of organic short grain brown rice and brown sweet rice). It requires a 2 hour soak, but it is very nice as well. Not sticky in the slightest, and less aromatic, but good rice. I was quite impressed by their wide selection of brown rice at H-Mart, which is usually hard to find. Now the dilemma will be whether to gamble and try a new brand or stick with these two we like a lot.

Lest you think we have gone all raw here, have no fear. A perfect rice bowl, akin to Korean bibimbap, complete with fresh rice waiting for me when I come home from work (thank you, Rob). A quick stir fry with tofu, broccoli and enoki mushrooms in a sweet maple infused sauce that is matched well with a side of not-so-fiery kimchi. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but we’ve made the quickie kimchi from Vegan Eats World, although it is really spicy if you use the full amount of Korean chili flakes. I am quite partial to the ginger-only version, actually.

So, have you ever been smitten by brown rice? What is your favourite brand?

Enoki, Broccoli & Kimchi Tofu Rice Bowl

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Raw Chili Dip

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by Janet M on August 15, 2013

Raw Chili Dip

Nothing like a delicious raw vegan potluck to reignite an interest in raw cuisine.

Lately my meals have been fairly simple, including my foray into raw foods. I have made more elaborate raw dishes in the past (like this nut-free raw lasagna), but currently enjoying the freedom of a simple kitchen.

This is a dish I had been meaning to try ever since Ellen recommended it to me: Matthew Kenney’s Raw Chili. I changed the ingredients slightly (no celery please! does that even go in chili?) and omitted the nuts entirely.  Cooked chilis are nice but raw chilis are great because the vegetables are fresh along with strong flavours from the spices. Some vegetables are chopped, others riced, creating a melange of textures. Because I omitted the nuts, this was a delicious veg-heavy dip instead of a meal per se. Unless you eat the whole thing in one go, which is what I ended up doing.

Yes, that was the sad part. I spent all this time and energy making a delicious dip. And then I ate it all in one go. It just seemed too time consuming….. moral of the story: make a big batch. Double or triple this if you want it for a few meals. Or if you are not particular about keeping things completely raw, add some cooked beans (or sprouted beans, if you like them).

Want another quickie no cook chili? I liked this one as well.

Raw Chili Dip

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

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Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

Posted in Favourites, Salads by Janet M on August 13, 2013

Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

After so many people recommended Meetup a few weeks ago, I have really been making an effort to get out and meet new people and experience new things. I like the Houston meetups so far because they don’t fill up so fast. I often tried to sign up for Toronto meetups but they would fill up before I knew whether I could commit to the event. Houston also has quite a variety of groups. Since there are so many groups, it has become interesting to see which of my “interests” has people with which I click the most.

My blog is mostly about healthy vegan food, so I picked a raw vegan potluck as my first foray into social gathering.

The meeting was tucked at the top of Central Market, with a pretty view of the colourful aisles of groceries. However, the most beautiful produce was upstairs, in our room. The spread of delicious food was incredible. Foodie heaven! Lots and lots of salads. Some were more simple and others more elaborate. A lot of classic raw dishes, too: raw zucchini spaghetti with marinara, raw walnut tacos, guacamole and lots of delicious raw crackers.  Zucchini pesto roll-ups were unique (and very good). I honestly thought there would be more desserts, but the two that were there were incredible: raw peach cobbler and superfood nut butter cups (I recognized Sarah’s recipe).

Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

I had master plans to bring Genevieve’s raw tropical jicama nachos but when I went to assemble the dish after work, my pineapple was not ripe enough and my peaches were screaming: eat me NOW!  So, at the last minute, I ended up making this salad. It passed the taste-test with flying colours, and off I ran.

As we each introduced the meal we brought, I felt a bit sheepish because I ended up picking a dressing with maple syrup, which is technically not raw. This is not a problem for me, and I think most people still tried it because there wasn’t much left by the end of the night. In any case, I thought it was delicious. I usually eat my kale salads with a citrus dressing, but the maple-miso dressing worked really well with the sweet peaches, earthy kale and crunchy hazelnuts. It would be perfect for picnics, too.

Have you ever been to Meetups in your city?

Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls (No Bake)

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on August 10, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

I have discovered the secret to living in Houston’s summer. You need to fall into one of these two groups of people:

1. The people who wake up early before the sun rises

2. The people who stay up late after the sun sets

Rob and I have been exploring Houston by bicycle on the weekends. At 7am, we’ll cycle the deserted streets, only to find the paths at the parks literally packed with joggers and walkers. We must be thinking along the same lines: if you are going to be outdoors, best to do it before the sweltering heat arrives.

We quickly learned that Houston is wonderful after sunset. Many public events start late in the day, again to beat the heat.

The problem is trying to fit into category 1 and 2, on the same day. Suffice it to say, after a long bike ride in the morning, I was almost asleep mid-way through a Shakespeare in the Park production later that evening. The comfortable, balmy weather was a bit too conducive to napping. We didn’t even last past the intermission, HA! It was a splendid day, though.

Speaking of cycling in the Houston heat, it is very, very important to keep hydrated and fuelled. Even short runs are more demanding. This is a portable snack recipe I promised a while back. I whipped them up with the odds and ends in my mom’s kitchen before we left for our cycle to Kingston. I must have had some forethought because I remember bringing the coconut flour with me. My master plan for a chocolate date and peanut butter combo was thwarted because the dough was just too runny. But the magic of coconut flour did the trick. It is a very thirsty flour, so it sopped up the batter into portable chewy balls. The peanut butter made them rich and decadent, balanced by the sweetness of the dates and cocoa flavour.

A treat like this is perfect for fuelling during long rides. While our weekend rides are more around 50km now; in this heat, we feel like it gets a conversion factor of 1.5x for intensity.  We are still a long way from the MS 150, but we’re hoping to improve our distance as the weather improves…. you know, in October, when it is supposed to cool down.

Are you a morning person, a night person, both or neither?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa for truffles. (more…)

Hempy Peach Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Salads by Janet M on August 9, 2013

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Going to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches… Millions of peaches, peaches for me. {sing along here}

I swear, I wasn’t planning to share so many salads.

But to combat salad ennuis, I kept mixing up new dressings. I didn’t think it would be so spectacular, but I loved it. And then snapped away some quickie photos for you to enjoy the sights of my salad, too.

Fresh, flavourful ingredients are important for a salad; but like pasta is to sauce, salad can be a vector for dressing.

A simple go-to dressing. With hummus on hand, this is so easy to put together. Hummus, balsamic and mustard. I always taste-test the dressing, but this one was hard to read. As I said, I didn’t really think I’d like it; it seemed too tart. Drizzled next to the sweet peaches, though, it all balanced out.

And to finish off my meal? Carrots with the hummus that didn’t make it into the dressing. ;)

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s No Croutons Required for seasonal.
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Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 8, 2013

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Give me leafy greens and I will make salad.

Give me fruit and I will eat it.

Give me a CSA share and I will become creative. Or lazy, your choice.

Same salad, different fruit and new herb. Still as delicious.

I added fresh basil as a unique flavour hidden amongst the greens.

And those hemp seeds? They are really growing on me. They are my new salad topping, including fruit salads. ;) I picked up a few of my pantry staples online, and decided to splurge on these hemp seeds since they were on sale.

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

I am used to a later peach season from Ontario (and they have finally arrived, too!), but local peaches were out in full force when we arrived in Texas. Sweet, juicy peaches. I have to remind myself that buying too many is often fool-hardy. Their peak ripeness has a short window. But once they are juicy: pounce. Peaches for breakfast, peaches as a snack and peaches for dinner. Peaches for a salad work so well because they make their own dressing, to boot. I still supplemented it with the nice citrus dressing from earlier in the week, though.

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s Cooking with Herbs. (more…)

Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 7, 2013

Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad

You don’t know how good you had it until you leave.

Except I already knew how great Toronto was… Sure, it had its quirks but it has been my favourite city to live in.

This weekend, Rob and I watched a movie that epitomized why I adore Toronto, and then some. Take This Waltz unashamedly showcases the beauty of Toronto. The colourful palate of Parkdale, the quirkiness of Kensington Market (although, to be fair, I have never seen a picnic bench outside Essence of Life) and the touristy rickety rickshaws. Despite living in Toronto for 5 years, both of us discovered more fun things about Toronto. There is an indoor scrambler at Centreville, complete with dance music and lights.  Even I think that sounds awesome!

Despite Hannah’s latest ode to Toronto, complete with Kensington jenga and mung bean ice cream, my heart tugs only gently.

In the meantime, while I am accumulating more ideas for things to see and do when I return, I am focusing on where I am now. Because, you know what – Houston is pretty awesome, too! My time here will be short, so I better capitalize on these evenings which are a balmy 25C. Perfect when relaxing/napping on a hilltop while next to an outdoor Shakespeare performance.

And that mung bean ice cream? I bet it can’t compare to Ripe’s (vegan, homemade) coconut-almond peanut butter ice cream with chocolate chips and date caramel. (SOOO good!)

Anyways, it is salad week. Here is a simple zucchini noodle salad with a bruschetta-like topping with tomatoes, basil and garlic. Late summer in a bowl. A salad in another form, without leafy greens, but with long zucchini noodles. The next time I made this, I added chopped almonds for a bit more crunch. Delicious!

Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 6, 2013

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

I was hoping Rawfully Organic was going to provide me with local produce. I know they try when it is possible. Rob and I had been pining a few local treats before we even arrived.  The first one: avocado. Avocados are quite expensive in Canada, but upon our first week here we were greeted with a warm welcome. Avocados: 4 for $1.

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

The nice thing about my Rawfully Organic share was that I wasn’t saddled with uncommon ingredients. With so many greens, I knew salads were in order, though. Luck would have it that I was tempted by Gena’s berry and avocado salad at the same time. Coincidentally, I had all the ingredients and then some. I tried it her way, with hemp seeds, then with almonds and when I finally got around to photographing it, I used pumpkin seeds. I used sweet strawberries, paired with creamy avocado and a sweet citrus dressing. Since the oranges we got in our share were “juicing oranges” (Valencia, aka sweet Texan oranges!!), I figured a dressing was a good way to capitalize on their sweet juiciness. Since, yes, I left my juicer at home. No homemade juice on the horizon yet.  It may seem fiddly to also add lemon juice, but it balanced the dressing nicely.

Any nut or seed would work for crunch – as I said, I have made this with almonds, hemp and the pumpkin seeds (a mix of almond and hemp was my favourite). Any berry would work well here. Pick your favourite.

With all these salads that I have been making, I am kind of sad I left my big plates and big bowls in Canada. I want more greens but don’t have a serving plate big enough!

Other fruity salads you may enjoy:

Strawberry, Avocado and Mint Salad with a Chocolate Vinaigrette

Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette

Strawberry, Asparagus and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto

Blackberry, Avocado and Walnut Salad with a Ginger Lime Vinaigrette

Blueberry, Lentil and Walnut Spinach Salad with a Blueberry Tarragon Dressing

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Rawfully Organic Review

Posted in Events/Round-Ups by Janet M on August 5, 2013

Rawfully Organic Review

I have been the butt of jokes even before I arrived in Texas. It is all meat in Texas, what will you eat? I survived Colombia for 2 weeks, so I doubted Texas could be that bad. And fear not, of course there are vegetables here. A friend also introduced me to a local organic food co-op: Rawfully Organic. Not only is it based in Houston, but it is largest non-profit local and organic food co-operative in the United States.

Its CEO, Kristina, also has adorable videos on youtube. It is hard not to be enthralled by her infectious and bubbly personality. While I have shunned CSAs in the past (not wanting to commit to multiple weeks of purchases, and antsy about buying a bunch of random vegetables), I was tempted by the flexibility offered by Rawfully Organic. Everything is organic (which I don’t buy nearly enough) and they try to purchase locally grown foods. The biggest plus was that I could sign up for a food share at my leisure, any random week, deciding almost at the last minute: by midnight, the night before. While I didn’t know exactly what was going to be in my share, I was tempted by the possibilities that were listed that week. Kristina recently made an intro video that explains how the process works after you order a share.

After I picked up my share, I was worried what I had gotten myself into. You might think I eat a lot of vegetables but this was a lot of food! A lot more greens than I was used to. I think this will be a good thing.

What I got (all organic, some local) in my half-share:

1 big bag of spring mix
2 (small) bundles of kale
1 head of Romaine
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
2 field cucumbers
1 baby watermelon
1 quart of strawberries
1 bunch bananas
4 Cripps Pink apples (from New Zealand, fyi – definitely not local)
3 nectarines (white and yellow)
2 limes
5 oranges

..and my bonus picks (you get the equivalent of 3 points):
4 broccolis
the largest bunch of green onions that I ever did see!
Other things you could pick from were small potatoes (6 were 1 point), baby carrots, cilantro (1 point), zucchini (1 point), oranges, beets (1 point), Romaine lettuce, grapefruit (1 point) and other stuff I forget. You can also buy other items on a per-piece basis.

rawfully organic review, half-share

For those interested specifically in Rawfully Organic, this is what I was told I could possibly get that same week. I was lured by the berries and sadly got strawberries instead of the other berries, but they are good, too. I have struck out the ones I did not get. Granted, the nature of groceries means it can be hard to make produce promises when choosing the freshest finds.

WATERMELON! Raspberries, Blueberries, or Blackberries! (Undecided!), White Peaches, White Nectarines, Cantaloupe (Only if available), Spring Mix, Local Lettuces, Red Plums (Possibly!), Cherry Tomatoes, Local Green Kale, Local Zucchini, Cucumber, Bartlett Pears or Bosc Pears, Beefsteak tomatoes (if no cherry tomatoes available), Fuji Apples/Gala Apples, Pink Lady Apples, Juicing Oranges, Bananas, Romaine Lettuce

All produce was fresh and very flavourful, except for the watermelon and tomatoes, boo. The zucchini were much bigger than I usually eat, which means they were seedy. Some was good to eat right away (strawberries) but many were at different degrees of ripeness. One of my apples was bruised, so I should have inspected everything more closely before I picked my box.

You might wonder why I decided to do the CSA. Fresh, cheap, organic produce is a bit harder to find where I live, although I could go from store-to-store. Did it save me money? If I usually bought organic, it was probably a good deal. Since I don’t, I definitely spent more than my regular grocery budget. I have seen bigger bunches of kale for 89c. Bananas for 49c/lb. But like I said, that’s navigating multiple stores. Long hours and being on call for the weekend meant that I wanted to save time. It was nice to pick up everything in one go and it will force me to be a bit more creative in the kitchen. I will definitely share my recipe successes, though, so stay tuned. Next week will be the week of salads. :)

Other reviews of Rawfully Organic can be found here, here, here and here.

Mango Curry Chickpea Salad Wraps

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on August 3, 2013

Mango Curry Chickpea Salad Wraps

My parents, truly awesome souls, helped us pack in Toronto before our move. Rob and I (mostly Rob) had tucked our possessions into three categories: 1) perma-storage destined for my brother’s basement; 2) Texas-bound or 3) with us on our roadtrip. Granted, the kitchen was the last thing to be packed, especially since I was still using it.  As our last weekend in Toronto continued, we had packed nearly everything from the kitchen. The cube was nearly full and we had successfully loaded all four of our bikes. (Initially, we were concerned they wouldn’t all fit)

I had one kitchen drawer left. We had to decide what to do with my spices. I have a fewlot. My master plan was to bring my little jars down with me and replenish as needed once I arrived. I had already imposed a no spice replenish ban while in Toronto so I was due for more. For my less used spices, I figured I would simply use what I had left in my jar.

Instead, my Mom suggested I go on a spice holiday. WHAT? No spices for a year?! Even I have my limits. Spices are what make my food taste good!  I was given one bag to fill. All my little jars came with me. Even the empty ones.

Now that the dust has settled, I pounced on these chickpea salad wraps. Sweetened with fresh mango, spiced with ginger and garam masala with a touch of cilantro. Sweet, spicy and tart – a great trio. Mash them up and then wrap it in a lettuce wrap for an easy meal. I was worried I would have needed to add citrus juice, but this wasn’t dry in the slightest. It probably depends on your mango, so your results may vary.

Can you tell I have become more simple in my kitchen? Something about the hot weather makes me more lazy at home. :P

Mango Curry Chickpea Salad Wraps

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s Random Recipes from saved cookbooks.

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Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 1, 2013

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

In our minimalism, we have made it difficult to host big parties. Unless it is standing room only or BYOC (bring your own chair). For now, we’re maxed out at 4. You see, we only have 2 kitchen chairs. When we move our table next to the couch, we can fit another 2 people. It actually worked pretty well for curry and games last weekend.

We have a large curry repertoire, but decided to play it safe and serve our favourite: Dal Bhat. Like most curries, this one tastes even better as leftovers, giving us the perfect excuse to make a big batch in advance and keep leftovers for the rest of the week.

I still haven’t figured out what makes our Dal Bhat a Nepalese specialty. When our friend travelled to Nepal and hiked up to Everest base camp, she told us our dal was superior to anything she ate there.  Dal bhat translates into lentils and rice, and it could be spiced in any matter. Random vegetables are also added.

Before I left Toronto, I spotted this curry: a Nepalese curry with toor dal. I wanted to use up the last of my toor dal before the move and it looked perfect. I really enjoy the creaminess of toor dal and this curry had many of my favourite spices also found in our version of dal bhat, including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and garlic. Is that what makes it Nepalese? No cumin or coriander, but this one includes tomatoes which I added to the tarka and cilantro as an (optional) garnish. How could this not taste good? Trust me, it was spot on delicious.

Have no toor dal? Red lentils or split peas would be good substitutes. Have toor dal and need more ideas? Here are other curries with toor dal:

Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango from 660 Curries

Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu) from 660 Curries

Butternut Squash, Coconut and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)

Mixed Lentil Stew from Flatbreads & Flavors

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Siri.

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