Houston played a cruel joke on us earlier this week.
If you thought it was hot outside, it was more hot inside our home. While not too hot outside (highs of 90F/32C), inside our home, it was 86F/29C. It was still 86F inside, after an overnight low of 80F/27C.
Yes, our air conditioner had stopped working.
Rob suffered the brunt of it, as he stayed at home (to work) and greet the 3 separate repairmen. The first 2 could not reach the roof with their ladders. Thankfully, the third team was a charm. By this time, it was closer to 9 pm at night but when the cool air began to circulate through the house, it felt like heaven.
Truthfully, I had a long day at work but I was not rushing back to a hot and humid home. When I finally arrived, all I wanted was a cool drink. We have almost finished the frozen fruit in our freezer and this certainly hit the spot. I would not have considered something so simple as pineapple and mint, but while we were in Toronto last week, we sampled a delicious pineapple-apple-mint juice from Yam Chops. Imagine my surprise after a quick spin in the blender, the froth had taken over. It was glorious! It settled a bit as I went looking for my camera, but I think you get the idea. Definitely the epitome of a frothy drink.
I am sharing this with Cooking with Herbs.
Time is a-ticking. Less than a week left in Houston. We have been balancing DO.ALL.THE.THINGS left to do in Houston and DO.ALL.THE.PACKING. Lots of pantry-friendly meals this month as we eat through our kitchen.
We stopped replenishing the red lentils months ago and begrudgingly started eating through the toor dal. Not that we don’t love it (WE LOVE TOOR DAL) but it just takes longer to cook and time is something we are lacking right now.
We left a few Houston must-dos until the end. I finally went to the NASA Space Center, lured by a private tour by an astronaut. An astronaut with a PhD in Cancer Biology, which was right up my alley, as she explained the medical complications of space travel. And let us touch and feel the space stuff. But not wear the space suits, sadly. Astronauts ARE a science experiment in themselves, did you know? They also do deadlifts and squats in space to maintain their bone density.
We also went to Chinatown to eat at one of the rival Malaysian restaurants, complete with the suggested one-hour foot massage for only $20-25 at the neighbouring reflexology spas. It is the thing to do, I swear.
That experience was also our first (and hopefully last) experience with Houston rush hour traffic.
Also, kudos to the American pharmacies. “Yellow Fever Vaccine Now Here”. I can easily obtain travel immunizations without an appointment or a puncture fee. Vaccines tend to be controversial but it is not controversial for me: I would rather not get infected. So I finally got my hepatitis A shots and re-immunized myself against typhoid for my upcoming vacation.
So, about this curry. It is simple, yet delicious. Lightly spices with all the great Indian spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala) and lightened with a splash of lemon juice, it is a nice hearty meal. An easy way to easily add more spinach, too.
I haven’t really gone into too much detail why I am pro-vaccine (the main reason is the ability to prevent serious diseases, some of which are uncurable, which I believe outweighs the potential side effects from receiving the vaccine). Do you have strong opinions either way?
Houston gets me every single time. You leave for a week or two and you forget how hot and humid it is. Or maybe it just became hotter.
I thought it was ice cream weather before but now it has become a dietary staple. Just like salsas, we will have to wean ourselves from the vegan ice creams at Trader Joe’s.
I have no ice cream maker, but this recipe promised to deliver.
Mint ice cream with chocolate chunks – what’s not to like? I added some spirulina to make it a vibrant green base.
Sadly, it didn’t work out. I actually wonder whether it could be done at all without an ice cream maker. I quickly realized the chocolate chunks would sink to the bottom if I didn’t stir. So, I stirred the ice cream as it become to freeze, almost every 30 minutes for a few hours. Until it was way too late to stay up. Of course, in the morning, it was solid as a brick and difficult to thaw. I had a hard time getting it into a scoopable form and ended up thawing it in the microwave! It was also a bit icy, I suspect because I didn’t remove the watery coconut water from the coconut milk.
I eventually refroze it into small quantities and ended up adding some soy milk to turn it into a smoothie. Next time, I may try Kari’s idea to put it back in the food processor to whip it back into a creamy state. Or fish out my ice cream maker from storage.
The recipe comes from The China Study All-Star Collection which is a collection of vegan recipes that focus on whole foods with limited refined oils, sugars and salt. Like my cookbook collaboration, the recipes hail from many authors. I was familiar with some of the authors (Dreena Burton, Ani Phyo, Christy Morgan, and Lindsay Nixon) but also new-to-me authors like Chef AJ and Del Sroufe among others.
A cookbook like this makes a great introductory cookbook. You are exposed to the styles of many chefs, hopefully finding a few that really resonate with you, or others that perhaps push you in new directions. Would you like to try Dreena’s Apple Lentil Dal? Or Christina’s Daikon Mushroom Fettuccine? Or Laura’s Cauliflower Steaks with Sweet Pepper Sauce? Or Heather’s Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Brownies? Yeah, me too. All four. In fact, you may notice a few repeats from the more prolific writers. Lindsay’s Quick Burgers have been shared earlier as well as Dreena’s Mellow Lentil “Sniffle Soup” and Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes (I shared that one in the fall and it was fabulous!). If nothing else, it may open you up to a whole new library from a new favourite author.
Of note, due to the multiple authors, the writing style of each author is apparent, along with the quality of their accompanying photographs.
Recipes from The China Study All-Star Collection shared elsewhere:
Peanut Butter Fudge Truffles (with another giveaway, too)
Dreamy Baked Bananas (with another giveaway, too)
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite ice cream flavours. I will randomly select a winner on June 30, 2014. Good luck!
I have been debating whether to go on a complete blog hiatus during the summer or work on some pre-written posts. I am leaning towards a blog vacation simply because my absence will be too long for me to mask or simply dwindle down to a post once a week.
When deciding what to share this week (while I was on vacation last week), I had to see what was lurking in my archives. (Note: I should have added one more tip for food bloggers: have draft posts and lots of them). As such, I have been hunting through my archives of not-yet-published posts. You know – the half-written posts, the posts without any photos uploaded and the worst – the ones without a recipe. As soon as I discovered these photos, I knew I wanted to share them.
The glowing strawberries are oh-so-ripe and the drizzle of balsamic layered nicely around the oats. I would love a bowl of this right now.
Truthfully, I don’t remember making this but my photo time stamp tells me it was 2011. Obviously around strawberry season. Perfect timing because Ontario strawberries are just starting to appear, as we found out this weekend.
This dish was from a time when I used to toast my steel cut oats as I waited for the water to boil. Now I don’t bother.
It was before I started adding protein powder to my oats. My current concoction is a murky green stew but I am not sure if that is any better than my previous (chocolate) brown variety with berries. I used to share a lot of my morning eats but with my morning monotony there is not as much day-to-day novelty. I already shared a Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats which was likely my inspiration 3 years ago.
Be it resolved to change my morning oats this week? Absolutely!
How about you? Do you have a similar breakfast every day?
Any preferences for my blog sabbatical? I am toying with the idea of a few summary posts (like the best vegan restaurants in Houston and Toronto).
I know I share a lot of great cookbooks with you, but I am beyond excited to share with you a cookbook I have been working on myself over the last year. You guys know that I am a physician but you may not know what Rob does all day. He is a software programmer with special expertise in mobile platforms, like Android, iPhones, etc. For years, I have asked him to make me a “Taste Space App”. He has refused because the wordpress website is rather mobile-friendly. You can find everything you need through the search (if you already know what you’re looking for). It would take him too much time to create an app that would be more useful than what I already offer. So that was that.
But then I was approached to contribute to a new e-cookbook focusing on vegan dinner parties. I was honoured to be included amongst my co-authors: Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan and Anya Kassoff of Golubka Kitchen, both with their own gorgeous cookbooks. As an e-cookbook, the focus is on recipes you can access through multiple devices as it can be accessed online, on Kindle, iBooks, and Amazon.
The cookbook includes 28 tried-and-true vegan recipes specifically for entertaining. Most are gluten-free and the benefit of 3 different authors give you a variety of recipes. I contributed some of my favourite recipes that are easy for entertaining, impressive and many of our guests have enjoyed eating. Some of the recipes have videos, too, showing you how to do some of the harder techniques.
The cookbook is part of a series of e-cookbooks called Culinary Quandaries. The other cookbook published so far is a Gluten-Free Dinner Party, if you are interested in that, as well. As one of my readers, you can save 30% if you buy it through these links: A Vegan Dinner Party and A Gluten-Free Dinner Party (the discount should show up automatically). Furthermore, I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader (anywhere in the world).
For the giveaway, leave me a comment about your experiences with e-cookbooks. I will randomly select a comment on June 20, 2014. Good luck!
This month has and will be a whirlwind.
In fact, this entire summer will be a crazy, wonderful adventure.
I have not leaked my summer adventures here yet. In brief: cycling, long vacation, moving back to Toronto, and yet more cycling. I am warning you now. There may not be much blogging.
For now, my early summer cycling triumphs have been conquered. A month ago, Rob and I rode the 165-km Shiner GASP and I finally got my riding mojo back a few weeks ago in time to ride the 2-day/334-km Rideau Lake Cycle Tour (RLCT) with my father last weekend. This was my third time on the course, but the second time I did the full “Classic Route”. I described the route the first time I did it in 2011, but each year feels different depending on your level of training, equipment and weather.
Despite reducing my weekly cycling from 250 km to 150 km over the last month, I felt reasonably fit for the ride. I knew there were big hills that I just could not train adequately while in Houston, but we found as many hills as we could.
One difference this year, though, was that I did not have my own bike. A friend of my father graciously lent me a road bike for the weekend, although in the end, it was a men’s bike that did not fit me properly. I took it for a ride the afternoon before the ride and was sore. Too sore, too fast. I frantically tracked down a women’s road bike I could rent for the weekend which is hard to find when over 2000 other people are expected to cycle to Kingston. In the end, I found a nice bike to rent from an unlikely of stores, and they even loaned me cycling shoes to boot. This is the first year I have tried clips for my bicycle. There are different systems for clipping your shoes into bicycle pedals and SPD clips have been the bane of my existence. This weekend, I may have found a new clipping system I prefer: KEO.
In any case, while my Dad and I had fun together riding over the hills, I fell victim to all my new things, with saddle sores. Instead of my legs being tired, it was mainly the soles of my feet and my saddle that were the most bothersome. While some of the hills were still challenging, I felt the best prepared of all years. Granted, my Dad did 80% of the pulling. ;) Thankfully, the wind was not too bad but I think it helped to shave 15 minutes off our return ride along with an hour less breaks.
I actually did not bring anything recipe-inspired with me during my ride. Instead, I ate lots of bananas, dates and almonds. The dates and almonds would have been pulverized into balls anyways, so it was basically deconstructed trail mix. ;) I will not deprive you of a delicious recipe, though. They are not too travel-friendly though. I soaked the cashews, as recommended by Sarah, but I found them too creamy to be portable. Still delicious, though. I added some ginger, as a nod to the Lovely Lemon Hemp Protein Bites. I actually think these would be better with a shredded coconut dusting on the outside, but I only had coconut chips which don’t lend as well to pretty exteriors.
I am on vacation for the rest of this week and very happy to not be riding for a few days. Our next goal is finding a place to live.
Please tell me about all your plans for the summer!
I am sharing this with Healthy Vegan Fridays.
Did you know that Trader Joe’s is not in Canada? The closest thing we have (well, those who live in Vancouver) is Pirate Joe’s. They temporarily renamed themselves Irate Joe’s as they were being sued by TJ’s. TJ’s lost but is continuing to appeal. In any case, we’re getting our fair use of TJ’s while still in Houston.
Sadly, though, it took me 10 months to locate their perfect salsa. Their chunky salsa is totally my favourite. Perfectly spiced with a robust tomato flavour, I love it. I also managed to go through a container in less than a week. I started adding it to everything.
In fact, this is such an easy recipe, it is almost non-recipe. I envision this as the perfect travelling meal – mix and eat. Until then, it will have a happy place in my kitchen.
Mix some salsa with chickpeas and chopped bell pepper. Throw it overtop some shredded broccoli and carrots for more crunch on a taco shell, and you’ve got a meal. I topped mine with a healthy dose of nutritional yeast which became creamy and gooey with the extra salsa. Totally not optional for those who love nooch.
I may go into salsa withdrawal. Can anyone recommend a good recipe? I cannot imagine it being hard to make. ;)
I told my friend in Houston that I had reached the height of my vegan eats here. There were no new restaurants I wanted to try. She assured me there were so.many.more to try and convinced me to try a nearby Thai restaurant. Oddly enough, Rob has spotted it earlier that week and was amused by its billboard that announced it was MANGO SEASON!
I was apprehensive but she assured me I would love it. She told me they had vegan ice cream. I was sold.
She did not lie. I loved it. So much so, that I quickly tried to figure out how to recreate the dishes.
This is a spin on Laotian larb. Of note, Rob tells me this is nothing like the original and in fact, if you pronounce the r in larb, that is wrong, too. Make no mistake about its simplicity, this salad wrap was GREAT!
A few fun points: This was the first time I have steamed tofu. I LOVED it. It made it nice and fluffy and once crumbled, it absorbed the flavours of the marinade incredibly well. Lime juice, cilantro, in a salty-hot-sweet background, it was nice, fresh and light. After an overnight soak, it was absolutely perfect and lasted for a few days of lovely leftovers for lunch.
I took inspiration from the restaurant to serve it next to a quarter of an iceberg. Its solid leaves make for excellent wraps, more sturdy than most lettuces and is rather mild on the green scale. Besides, it is always good to rotate your greens. :)
Do you have a favourite green wrap? I thought collards were my favourite but I was rather smitten by the iceberg lettuce. ;)
Spring cleaning isn’t just happening in our kitchen. Rob has decided it was time to clean up our hard-drives, over-drives and Monkey drives, too. Mostly spurred because, after trying to amalgamate his important files with my important files, it would not fit on our 1 terabyte of online back-up space.
Rob thought it was a bit nuts.
My files are mostly photos. Mostly food, but also from travel and of family/friends.
My shutter count on my six-year-old camera is 101,501. That’s only ~17k photos a year.
Apparently I take too many photos. And I keep them all. And then some.
I will let him tackle the computer while I tackle the kitchen, thank you.
We seem to have an excess of sesame seeds. Sadly, I bought a pack late in the year when I couldn’t find my original package…. I thought we were out. Instead, now we have twice as many sesame seeds. With our sesame seed surplus, I also made these fun crackers.
A simple cracker made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and maple syrup. I remain a bit apprehensive of black sesame seeds since I don’t find them as flavourful as their whole counterparts, but they certainly make for a pretty cracker. The maple syrup bound it all together after baking. Maybe I don’t need brown rice syrup afterall? ;)
Have you checked? What is your shutter count?
PS. In my defence, I take much less photos than I used to….. and my camera has travelled to many fun places over the years)
PPS. To find your shutter count with a DSLR, you can find it embedded within the Exif information of a photo, and it can be easily unearthed through Picasa.
Rob did some more investigating. He found a program that would figure out if I had any duplicate files irregardless of the name.
WOO! After three days, my program to find duplicate files on your external hard drive has completed. It has found at least 172 GB of duplicate files. We need to clean them up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
His emphasis, not mine.
So apparently, I come with baggage. Electronic baggage.
There used to be a time when I couldn’t fit everything on my hard drive, but once I had 1 Tb on my external hard drive, I haven’t thought much about my space usage.
Rob didn’t appreciate my old school way of culling my photos: copying them into a new folder. Sometimes I had 4-5 copies of the same photo with my disjointed backing up. Now we get to do some culling!
Rob is doing a great job tackling our leftover food stuffs. This was an absolutely, wonderfully delicious pea curry he made with the peas in the freezer and spices from the pantry. I am not saying that just because Rob made it and everything tastes better when someone else cooks for you, but honestly this was gourmet Indian and made me a pea-lover. I love beans but peas are not as high in my “love list” but this, guys, was incredible.
Creamy with a rich-tomato broth with bright green peas, this was a keeper. Sadly, this curry has a really long ingredient list, which seems almost disjointed and muddy, but have faith. This was delicious and completely worth the effort (and definitely Rob’s effort!).
Do you like peas?
PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
Before you start to think this will be a smoked paprika free household, have no fear. I am pretty sure Rob will let me replenish prior to moving back to Canada.
It is a bit of a race, now. Rob has made it his own personal goal to munch through our food stocks…. so, if I wait too long, my food may disappear. Use those roasted red peppers in the pantry! The roasted corn in the freezer! The last of the soy curls! (I actually had planned to use some small flageolet beans I had frozen but could not get them to thaw out of the container fast enough….)
Reminiscent of my Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder, I loved how this one was virtually bursting with vegetables. Coconut milk would make this a thick and luscious soup. This version was inspired by one of my favourite cookbooks this year, Soup’s On!, since it is packed with quick and healthy meals. Mark’s inspiration was New Orleans’ Maque Choux, a Cajun-inspired corn soup.
I loved it. Simply delicious. I worked with what we had lying around and it made a light, summery bowl of vegetable soup.
Do you like soups in the summer as well?
PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
Desserts and salads, that’s just the way we’re rolling here these days.
There is just something so pretty about colourful vegetables, I had to share this fun twist on salad. Vegetable noodles, either created with a spiralizer, a shredder, or careful knife skills, can totally change your view on salad.
Rob cheers every time we finish something. I actually apologized when I finished the balsamic vinegar but Rob gave me a high five. I am a bit antsy about the lack of smoked paprika in the house, too, but pretty confident we’ll replenish it before we return to Canada (because: PENZEY’S!).
The tahini may be dwindling but I have lots of sesame seeds. I haven’t resorted to making my own homemade tahini yet, but it could be fun to try. Until then, my sesame seeds are usually garnishes.
This salad dressing is a fun twist on a creamy sauce, since it is made with tahini with accents from the rice vinegar, mustard and lemon pepper seasoning. As I said, the salad was fun to create, too: spiralized zucchini is tossed with shredded carrots, thinly sliced red cabbage and instead of edamame (which would be good, too), I added sweet sugar snap peas. A bit different but fun for a change. And nice when you do not feel like cooking.
Note: I am pleading fifth amendment about the coconut flour. Some things were just meant to return to Canada. ;)
PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest, Souper Sundays, Extra Veg and Four Seasons Food.
I have been a bit quiet on the cycling front.
I kind of poured my everything into the Shiner GASP and let my body (and mind) recover as needed. Rob and I kept cycling, but nothing over 50 km. There is no point in cycling if you aren’t having fun. It pales to our upcoming distances, but I just didn’t have it inside me to resume our crazy adventures.
Three weeks later and I got my mojo back. I started swapping my morning gym with longer routes to work. Rob would join me. On his road bike, no less, which was a good motivator to keep pushing it on my commuter, while carrying all my stuff for work on my back. I managed to squeeze an extra 50 km, in addition to my regular commute, over the 2 days we tried this out. Sadly, the forecast is all rain this week, so I may return to the gym after all.
With the long weekend, Rob and I had time to both relax and fit in some longer cycling. A perfect balance, methinks. 50 km and 107 km, including an urban hilly ride. Thankfully we made it home yesterday before the torrential rain, which is merely a preview for the week.
In any case, I made these delicious snack bites to tote along for our longer ride. They were inspired by a reader, Jessica, who encouraged me to try adding ginger and turmeric to Gena’s Hemp Cocoa Energy Bites. I love it when you guys know me too well!
No stranger to sharp, fresh ginger in sweets (remember my Matcha Ginger Smoothie?), I didn’t add enough turmeric for it to be a strong taste. I will admit that I added the ginger because I like its taste but its anti-inflammatory properties are a bonus. However, I added the turmeric specifically because of its anti-inflammatory properties (I really don’t like its taste in strong amounts!). The dates sweet this nicely and the hemp protein powder gives it a grassy/earthy undertone which complements the sweetness perfectly.
What do you think of turmeric? Do you try to incorporate into more of your foods? Any recipes you recommend?
My lovely friends are true enablers.
I wanted to make cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes.
Even with my (somewhat) minimalist pantry and kitchen, I was mostly to my goal.
I had silicone muffin wrappers, but no muffin tin. I wasn’t sure whether I could simply bake the muffins without the tin, but my friend graciously lent me her muffin tray so I did not have to experiment. (Note: Please tell me if you have tried)
Next, I found the perfect recipe: a chocolate cupcake that only used chickpea flour as its base. No wheat flour, no funny grain flours, not even oat flour. Just chickpea flour. In fact, now I was rather intrigued. Chickpea flour cupcakes??
I was missing one ingredient, though: baking powder. I have baking soda (it also helps for cleaning), but no baking powder in my minimalist pantry. Oftentimes, especially if baking with chocolate, baking soda can be substitute with baking powder. So I tried that option first. Baking experiment fail #1: I forgot to look at the conversion and it isn’t a 1:1 substitution. My cupcakes rose beautifully but tasted kind of salty and somewhat metallic.
I vowed to try again with less baking soda but my friend spared me the trouble and slipped me a bag of white powder at work. Clearly labelled baking powder. The label may have been unnecessary because if she were smuggling cocaine, I would have inherited a fortune. ;)
In any case, I shared the cupcakes at work. I was up-front that I was sharing vegan, gluten-free and grain-free cupcakes. I told people that it was made with besan/chickpea flour because quite a few of my co-workers cook with it, too, and they were shocked it could be used in a sweet baking treat.
However, what I did not share (initially) was what I was hiding in my frosting. I ran with the bean-theme and used tofu as my base! It is similar but more firm than my chocolate mousse pie filling. I thought it was too sweet when I first tasted it but it mellowed out and firmed up considerably overnight in the fridge. Both the frosting and cupcakes were well received, so I consider it a success!
This recipe is courtesy of Vegan Beans From Around the World which shares 100 recipes of naturally vegan recipes from around the world. Kelsey simplified the recipes to keep the ingredients easy-to-find and did a marvelous job of curating a variety of vegan bean-centric dishes. Dutch Split Pea Soup to Nigerian Black Eyed Pea Stew to Argentine White Bean Salad, there are plenty of dishes I still want to try. Oh, and the Navy Bean Pie (aka Muslim bean pie) which is also in the dessert section. I have been spoiled by gorgeous cookbooks as of late, so I am missing the pretty photos. Although hopefully these photos will encourage you to try out this fun cupcakes.
Recipes from Vegan Beans From Around the World spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe made with beans. I will randomly select a winner on June 13, 2014. Good luck!
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
PS. Have no muffin tins? Try making this into a cake, as seen here.
PPS. Need other ideas for using chickpea flour? Look no further than Emma’s round-up post.
PPPS. I am sharing this to Credit Crunch Munch and We Should Cocoa for $2 cakes. I didn’t price out the cupcakes but without butter and eggs, vegan cakes are typically cheaper. Chickpea flour can be found at more economical prices at Indian grocers.
It is all about the greens, lately.
After a week or so of salads and wraps, I turn the rest of my fresh greens into a soup, stew, or in this case curry.
PS. And when I said I would be sharing another giveaway with you yesterday, I meant tomorrow. So stay tuned! ;)