I always thought it would be funny to have enough forethought to pre-plan my holiday meals months in advance. You know, Christmas food served at Thanksgiving; Valentine’s Day treats for Christmas; Cinco de Mayo eats on Easter.
OK, I made the last one up, but it totally happened anyways.
It turns out out Rob was a bit more lonely on Easter Sunday than me, and at the last minute, we decided to host Sunday for the ex-pats. Three Canadians and a Dutchman, all displaced in Houston temporarily.
Although, instead of stressing out about our meals, we shared our love for vegan Mexican food (with a South American twist). Our friends brought some Mexican bread pudding and other Mexican treats for dessert. Easter Houston-style.
Migas is a dish typically made with eggs, but we swapped it for crumbled tofu and added some spices and topped it with salsa and cilantro. The tortillas are usually scrambled into the mixture but I like to add them at the end to keep them crispy. Rob shared his Colombian delicacy of arepas.
There is something about the weekend that brings out the tofu scramble in us.
Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Fellow bloggers, have you ever pre-planned your meals that far in advance? ;)
We traded hills for wind this weekend.
Blustery wind. Gusty winds.
It was kind of humbling to cycle 100-km hilly routes outside Houston, and then find ourselves so pooped we could barely finish our rides.
Even though we’re aiming for 160 km, our odometers have been stuck at 100-km for a while. This weekend, we decided to shun the hills (and the 2-hour commute to get to them) and opt for distance. The wind was a pleasant (or unpleasant), unplanned surprise. A flat tire was also a surprise and likely cost us an hour of cycling time. We pushed through 127 km of city-riding on Saturday.
On Sunday, we aimed to add hills to our windy resistance. We did an “urban hill” loop where we tried to climb as many highway overpasses as possible. The wind was relentless. If we thought Saturday was windy, it was even windier on Sunday. Southeast winds of 30km/h with gusts over 50 km/h. Rob rerouted it to include a stopover at Mi Tienda #2, our favourite Mexican grocer. We weren’t going to skip out on our aguas fresca ritual! This week they had mamey, which was a hard choice over the guanabana.
Even though we were out and about on our bikes most of the weekend, we actually had more energy. I guess we’re better at tackling wind than hills.
We ended up (ok, just me) stockpiling veggies when we finally ended up at an Asian market for our weekly grocery run. We put them to great use in this vegan spin on bahn mi sandwiches. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, which I associate with the pickled vegetables and cilantro. Here, tofu and mushrooms are scrambled as the base. The veggies, with Terry’s spin of adding star anise, make this a nice and bright wrap.
Rob thought it was his best sandwich ever. I thought it nice, too, and opted to eat it in a collard wrap.
Maybe everything tastes better after biking 180 km?
After nearly 10 months in Houston, you’d think we have settled in.
I (only slightly) notice when people say “y’all”. The humidity is slowly building up past my Toronto summer thresholds. All in a regular Texan day.
And then, a few months ago, we spotted a new-to-us animal. Half-turkey, half-duck, we had no way to ask locals about it other than “Have you seen the turkey duck?”.
I have a feeling I am getting the same look from you right now. Turkey duck??
Rob snapped this photo. Tell me you do not agree:
The crazy Canadian Canucks following the ducks.
My googling suggests these are Muscovy Ducks and are rather invasive, almost pest-like. Probably similar to Canadian geese. I don’t get excited about them, either, but I am sure tourists love feeding them.
Rob and I are also starting our purging of the pantry/fridge/freezer.
Rob is better at experimenting but he ran with my crazy idea. He wanted a veggie-centric stir-fry and I helped him with the sauce.
He wanted tamarind, obviously.
And for some reason, it hit me. What better pair for sour than a sweet chili sauce for a spicy-sweet kick? YES! Rob added lemon pepper seasoning, too.
Even though this was a crazy-fun kitchen experiment, I obviously wouldn’t be telling you unless it was a crazy-good experiment. The sauce ingredients are a guesstimate of what Rob added so feel free to adjust it along with your own tastes. We always go heavy on the tamarind compared to most people. :)
Have you seen a Muscovy duck before? Do you have any exotic pests where you live?
Yet another travel-friendly, energy-boosting snack. But these are no ordinary granola bar. They are Angela’s Infamous Classic Glo Bars, packed with all good things.
Have you ever noticed how many different kinds of granola bars Angela has posted? Soft-and-chewy baked sugar-free granola bars, healthy banana cranberry oat bars, last-minute protein energy bars, banana bread protein bars, and more. She is the Queen of Granola Treats. Previously, I had difficulties with her almond butter rice crisp treats which was probably due to too many substitutions. Thus, I (mostly) followed her recipe exactly, scoping out brown rice syrup. And let me tell you, this ingredient is key. Its viscosity alone lends to enhanced stickiness which helps keep the bars together. Initially, I tried to replace it with maple syrup, which probably didn’t help the cause. In any case, I absolutely loved these bars. Not too sweet with a hint of peanut butter, still packed with an assortment of seeds. I used puffed kamut (instead of crisped rice) and I liked this more because it lended to a more chewy bar.
The cycling has been more intense (HILLS! OMG HILLS!), which explains why I have been sharing more treats. I have enough fore-thought and energy to make my snacks at the end of the week. Rob makes us tamarind lentils to go. In theory, this should give us more time so we can leave earlier Saturday morning. In theory, alas. We ended up sleeping in last weekend and having another later start in the hills. Our Saturdays have started to look like an entire treat day: fun snacks, tamarind lentils for lunch, tropical agua fresca from Mi Tienda #2 (this week it was papaya and pina colada on tap), followed out by a meal made by someone else… because we don’t have much energy to cook for ourselves once we get back.
By Sunday, I get my cooking mojo back and have been enjoying cooking out of Angela’s latest cookbook: The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I am behind the surge of posts highlighting its praises, but that is just because I have been smitten by trying all.the.recipes. All in the name of good review research for the blog.
With such a popular and prolific blog, long-time readers of her blog may wonder how many are new recipes. Angela mentions that there are 75 new recipes with a dozen new-and-improved reader favourites. Angela has grown as a recipe developer, as I have had some failures with her earlier recipes. Thankfully some of my favourite recipes from her blog made it to the cookbook: Creamy Lemon Basil Avocado Sauce, Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas, and her Lemon-Tahini Dressing. She is also a much better photographer than me, so this cookbook is eye-candy as well as delicious. A photograph of possibly every single recipe. How awesome is that? Her recipes are all vegan, all whole foods based, 85% gluten-free and mostly soy-free.
I cooked and baked my way through 10 recipes (so far) and then had the difficult decision of what to share. In truth, I already shared the Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake, but those photographs would not due justice to such a nice cookbook. My other favourites were the On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup and the Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole. Some meals were a bit lacklustre (Indian lentil-cauliflower soup) but just adjust the seasonings to your taste. You can see all of my recipe reviews here. There are still more recipes I want to try and will continue to enjoy cooking from this cookbook.
Other recipes from the Oh She Glows Cookbook shared elsewhere:
Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake (as christened by me, aka Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake)
Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters
Apple Pie Oatmeal
Glowing Mojo-ito Green Monster
Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip
Eat Your Greens Detox Soup
Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons
Empowered Noodle Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce
Walnut, Avocado & Pear Salad with Marinated Portobello Caps & Red Onion with Effortless Anytime Balsamic Vinaigrette
Chakra Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons
Super Power Chia Bread
Oil-Free Baked Falafel Bites
Crowd Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole
Grilled Portobello Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Kale-Hemp Pesto
Marinated Balsamic, Maple and Garlic Tempeh
Quick & Easy Chana Masala
15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites
Chilled Chocolate Espresso Torte
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Angela recipe or what you most want to make. I will randomly select a winner on May 4, 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.
I love when it is going to be a delicious week.
I am too lazy/tired to cook during the week, so I make everything on the weekend. A new batch of oatmeal. I create 3-4 different dishes, with possibly some fresh rice mid-week. Rob helps with the rice. His rice always seems to taste better even if we use the same rice cooker.
Anyways. I digress.
I love delicious surprises in the kitchen.
I was wooed by Tess’ creamy cauliflower soup in her latest cookbook. However, I knew cauliflower and leeks, alone, would not be a filling meal. Beans. I need some beans. Where are the beans? I could have easily blended white beans into the soup, but I don’t like pureed soups.
Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too.
I guess I get surprised by some of my successes. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully.
And somewhat off-topic. Not soup-related, but related by all things delicious. You know what else we recently discovered that was glorious? Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream. GAH! Annie clued me in early on that their coconut-based ice creams were delicious and they helped tame the Texan heat in the summer. Now that we’re cycling in the heat, this has become our new way to cool off.
What have you been enjoying lately?
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
They let it slip.
My claim to fame.
At my hospital, they get new trainees every year. Obviously, it can be hard to keep track of us all. One of my co-workers may be known for her love of dance, the other that became a new mama, or another that took off suddenly to get married.
I suppose I have a few quirks. Beyond being Canadian, I could be remembered as the bicycle commuter, or perhaps the vegan… But no. Even more memorable are my unique breakfasts. Or breakfast #2 as I call it, since I eat it at work, more than a few hours after I have woken up, eaten after breakfast #1, cycled to work and gone to the gym.
Breakfast #2 is my green goop and I have eating the same thing for the past year: cooked oatmeal, hemp protein powder with some flax and chia seeds. Everything is ready to go in the morning. Once I get to work, I add some hot water, stir it up and love it.
For the uninitiated, the green swamp goop is certainly not appealing. The hemp protein powder is the colouring agent. My breakfast is an acquired taste but all things green need not taste bad. And as I learned here (and my green kale pancakes), even a small amount of green ingredients can blend to a brilliant hue.
Even though I am lamenting leaving my juicer in storage, I have been drinking my way through the smoothies and açaí bowls in The Juice Generation.
While I cannot lay claim to be a Canadian açaí expert, at least I know how to pronounce it. It has become a new foodie fad. Although, I will not praise any non-scientifically proven claims of this “superfood” other than its anti-oxidant laden berry-licious taste.
Originating from Brazil and popularized in Hawaii, California and eventually New York City, The Juice Generation has been one restaurant to popularize the breakfast açaí bowl. Topped with a hemp seed granola, an açaí bowl has a lot more substance than the rest of their juicy menu. They have 5 flavours on their menu and 5 recipes in their cookbook. Four overlap, but there is a bonus hemp açaí bowl in their cookbook not on their menu.
I found a combination of the green açaí bowl and the hemp açaí bowl to be the perfect combination. When I made my first açaí bowl, I was surprised at how green it turned out. Certainly not a vibrant red from the frozen açaí and not even a murky burgundy, it was positively green. The handful of spinach worked its magic and even masked my subsequent addition of hemp protein powder. The protein powder is now part of my regular addition to the açaí bowl which helped thicken the shake, an important factor since I was eating it like a soup.
The second revelation from my experiments with açaí was that it is naturally not that sweet. Some frozen packets add sugar to compensate, so buyer beware. In this case, I opted to use frozen bananas to buffer the spinach, hemp and açaí. Topped it with Rob’s granola of the week and sprinkled with some additional hemp seeds, I think this is awfully pretty. Green goop and all.
In addition to the recipes for their açaí bowls, there are also over 100 different combinations for fresh juice and smoothies in their latest cookbook. 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 what you think of green breakfasts (smoothies, puddings, bowls, etc) Do you eat them, too? I will randomly select a winner on May 2, 2014. Good luck!
I am sharing this with this month’s Extra Veg.
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.
One reason Easter snuck up on me this year is because I do not get a statutory holiday this weekend. In Canada, I usually get Good Friday off. (In Quebec, I think they get the Monday off instead). Here in Texas, nothing. Although I think stores may be closed on Sunday.
The second reason, of course, is that we will not be celebrating it with family or friends.
I have even less knowledge of Passover but it passed my mind as I made this quintessential Arabic-Jewish dish: Shakshouka.
I first encountered shakshouka (also known as shakshuka or chakchoukah) in Morocco. At its roots, it is a mildly spiced tomato dish in which eggs are poached directly in the tomatoes. Like most dishes, every city had its own variation: more vegetables, less vegetables, more spice, less spice.
I was drawn to this version due to the overabundance of vegetables. Tomatoes, bell peppers and cabbage. Shakshouka’s country of origin may lie in Morocco’s neighbouring country of Tunisia, known for its hot and spicy harissa pepper paste. While I have made my own (not-too-spicy) harissa before, I opted for something quasi-similar I had in my kitchen: pat-chi. Aka, kale and collard kimchi spiced with Thai chiles. Aka, related to kimchi with a yaya-twist. A little bit goes a long way to flavour our vegetable ragout.
To keep this vegan, I swapped the eggs (perhaps totally losing the essence of shakshouka) for chickpeas. I loved it. But sadly, upon investigation found that with this swap, this would no longer be appropriate for passover. No chickpeas for Passover. Perhaps you could serve the ragout with some quinoa: now kosher approved for Passover.
Will you be celebrating Easter or Passover this weekend?
There is long-distance cycling and then there’s long-distance cycling over hills.
We’ve heard the cycling routes around Austin are hilly but not entirely sure how it compares to Ontario. Houston, is fairly flat, so I haven’t been doing many hills, unless it is an overpass over a highway. I stumbled upon Lori’s recap of last year’s Shiner GASP. She wrote:
This course was going to be challenging because of the sheer number of inclines and hills (Esmeralda said she stopped counting at 23 last year), and the wind that it was famous for. I had hoped that with the front it would be a tail wind, but at mile 30 the wind shifted and was either a head wind or cross wind. Oh well, it was nice to dream.
With a month away from our own hilly 100-mile adventure, it instilled a fear of hills. So, this weekend, we sought out something to climb.
Earlier this year, we were planning to do the “Bike Through the Forest and Hills” 80-km ride in Coldspring, Texas. We had already registered and picked up our packages (the first ones, at that, bib numbers 1 and 2). It was scheduled right after I sprained both knees, so understandably, we didn’t go. However, with such a descriptive name, we figured it would be a hilly ride. Rob saved the course maps, though. He ended up modifying the route so that we had a 50 km loop. The original ride had you return in the opposite direction, but we just repeated the same loop once we were familiar with the course.
The 100-km ride wasn’t the hard part. It was the hills! After 8 minutes, I wasn’t sure I was up for this many hills. Rob clocked an incline that lasted 3 km. The worst part, though, was the wind. Wind + hills = a definite challenge. A strong wind with a loopy course meant the wind was, sadly, only helping us 25% of the time. In any case, we were positively pooped after our “short” 100-km ride.
We ended up stopping off at our favourite Mexican grocer on the way home: Mi Tienda. It reminds us of our trip to Mexico City, with lots of fun food, loud music and random decor. We treated ourselves to fresh guanabana juice and a mix of celery-pineapple-cactus juices. If you have never tried guanabana, I highly recommend it. We fell in love with it in Colombia. We also had some fresh (and warm- this is KEY) churros. After our bellies were content, I scurried back in for our weekly grocery expedition.
I try am trying to balance emptying my pantry along with trying everything that I can while in Texas/America. This time, I bought some cactus (aka nopales). You can find it fresh as a giant paddle or pre-chopped with the spikes removed. I gather you can also find it brined in jars or cans. In any case, I first tried it while in Mexico City. Cooked simply, it was a vegetable side or topping. One of the dishes I had it with was as tlacoyo from a street vendor: a blue corn masa dough that she stuffed with refried beans and topped with a nopales salsa. was I really liked it: the texture of a bell pepper with the taste of a green bean.
In truth, Rob and I were too zonked to do any cooking when we returned post-ride and post-Mi Tienda. We went out for tacos. The following day, we did another cycling jaunt. Not too long, and all flat, we were still battling the wind and the possibility of rain. However, the shorter ride meant I had enough energy to tend to errands and do some cooking.
I simply ran with the idea of tlacoyo. It is more like a cheese-less quesadilla. We had fresh corn tortillas so I used that instead of the masa dough. I already have a favourite (unfried) refried bean recipe. The problem was the cactus. I wasn’t entirely sure how to cook it, but I eventually decided to boil it first, then saute it with some leftover roasted onions. It may not have been authentic at all, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
Have you ever tried nopales/cactus? What are your favourite recipes?
Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake.
Because all things with rolled oats are actually meant for breakfast. Add coffee to it, some chocolate for good measures, then there is no question: this is all good breakfast things. A perfect way to start your day.
Because that coffee at night, may keep you awake. Or maybe it was the chocolate.
This was how I rationalized eating this for breakfast.
Eaten fresh, this is basically a self-saucing cake. A chunky dense cake doused in a mocha-chocolate sauce. It was really good, although a bit gummy from the oat flour.
I apologize for the unappealing photographs, but the leftovers were what I had to work with… The leftovers firmed up a lot after the overnight rest, sopping up the sauce, leaving this with a texture more comparable to leftover oatmeal. I hope you still get the idea that this is saucy, though.
Just so you know, I debated remaking this to get a better photo, but decided to share it anyways. My motto is to keep things stress-free and I wanted to share this sooner rather than later.
Chocolate pudding cake has always been associated with the Good Friday Cooking Disaster of 2009, wherein I made a meatless feast with a black bean and pumpkin soup, penne alla vodka and finished it off with a brownie pudding cake. Of course, all were new recipes that I was dying to try out. If I recall correctly, everyone was mostly satisfied with my first two dishes (I remember the penne alla vodka turning out well but I had to simmer off a lot of liquid) but all heck broke loose when I shared dessert. My family did not like it and they told me very bluntly. (Too sweet! I can cook better than you!) That last part is true.
However, I think everyone would love this pudding cake, for dessert or breakfast. Or both. Rob highly approved. For both.
In addition of its association with the upcoming Easter holiday, I also wanted to share this because I received some lovely ingredients to try courtesy of Carrington Farms, ground flax seeds and coconut oil, both of which I used here. Because this is a pudding cake filled with all good things. Check out stores near you celebrating Carrington Farm’s All Good April campaign by passing deals to you, too. In Houston, you can find that at HEB and Fiesta Mart. They also have additional coupons on their website.
Disclosure: I wrote this review as part of the #CarringtonAllGoodApril campaign with Carrington Farms, through FitFluential LLC. I received the products described at no cost in order to complete the review. However, opinions are honest and my own.
Another bike ride and another treat!
Although this weekend was more about travelling to Austin for the Texas VegFest to meet the ever wonderful Tess Challis, instead of cycling. We had lofty plans for both, although the rainy weather foiled our plans.
We decided to play chicken with the weather. We wanted to cycle at least 100 km, if not more. Instead of going out for a long loop, we drove out to a more rural location and used it as our home base. I would have been very happy doing multiple laps along a straight and flat road but Rob thought that would be too boring. Instead, Rob drafted 30-35 km loops in a few directions. We pedalled through two loops before giving in to the wind and rain.
Us versus the weather? We lost. Our bikes? Super dirty. Our car won. It became clean.
The nice thing, though, was that I was able to take out these treats. I was really curious to try them out. Not only to see whether it would be better than my last puffed quinoa treat, but I was curious about using coconut sugar as a binder.
The good part? They tasted great. A chocolately goop to keep everything together. Not too sweet with a hint of almond. Since the quinoa was puffed and not crisp, they were easy to munch on. However, my intuition was correct about the coconut sugar: it did not hold up well as a binder. The only way I could keep these treats together was by chilling it in the freezer. Even then, perfectly cut squares were hard to craft. I resorted to breaking off nibbles when I wanted a treat. As such, these were not portable snacks but worked out well with our continuous looping back to the car. I wonder whether coconut nectar would work better as a binder, although I have never tried it.
The treats are from a fun new vegan cookbook called (wait for it) The Vegan Cookbook. It is a gorgeous cookbook with creative yet approachable recipes: breakfast tagine, kale & soba noodles with ginger-chilli sauce, curried chickpea patties with satay dipping sauce, chai-spiced banana muffins and chocolate banana wontons. Authored by Adele McConnell of Vegie Head, I must admit I had never heard of it before, but we have been enjoying many of her recipes, including the super fast chickpea curry and South African sweet potato stew (very similar to my previously shared recipe). The rasam soup was a bit too tart for me, but at least it wasn’t mind-blowing spicy. In any case, with a wide range of international whole food recipes, I have many more dishes I look forward to making.
Here’s to hoping the nice weather persists for this weekend. Not only for our cycling adventures but for all those partaking in the MS150 this weekend, too. :)
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on April 21, 2014. Good luck!
PS. Recipes from The Vegan Cookbook elsewhere:
Moroccan Quinoa Soup (with a giveaway, too)
Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.
The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.
However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.
This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.
This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.
She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.
She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:
Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte
Roasted Cauliflower and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl with Garlicky Spinach & A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party
One of the main things I will miss when I leave Houston will definitely be the people: my friends, my co-workers and the awfully friendly strangers. If it weren’t for connecting so well with my co-workers, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Houston as much. And you know how I know we met special people?
They were not only amused but also excited about our idea for a mustard tasting party.
This idea had been brewing for nearly as long as our idea for a tamale party. Somehow, I managed to convince Rob, that yes, I wanted the mustard variety pack at Trader Joe’s, and yes, I knew we only had 6 months left. Oh and yes, we already had another 3-4 other mustard varieties.
We proposed the idea: help us eat our mustards, let’s have a mustard tasting party. We figured we had enough mustard to sample, but everyone also brought their own favourite mustard as well. Collectively, we had 12 mustards. Everything from a Mango Diablo mustard, to a honey and whiskey mustard, to a creole mustard and nearly the entire gamut of Trader Joe’s mustards. ;)
The question, of course, was what to serve at a (vegan-friendly) mustard tasting party.
I loved the suggestion for small boiled potatoes for tasting the mustards individually. I also made plain roasted cauliflower and Rob cut up some pita bread to serve with fresh hummus. Our guests provided some chips, pretzels, sausages and beer [including ginger beer].
The small potatoes were a resounding success. I was impressed that they all looked different when sampling, too.
For those curious: I think we all really liked Trader Joe’s Basil Mustard. The El Diablo Hot & Spicy mustard also earned high praise, but I didn’t try it since I was warned it was uber spicy. I also highly recommend Stadium Mustard that our friend brought us from Cleveland, which sadly did not make an appearance because we ate it all before the party (you can see it pictured here with my vegan cheese-stuffed sausage and sauerkraut, though).
We had a bit of odds-and-ends leftovers after the party and they combined fabulously. So fabulously, I just had to share it. Knowing that hummus+mustard worked well in my vegan deviled eggs, I worked with a mummus sauce (mustard + hummus). Worried my rice bowl may be too beige, I added the leftover roasted cauliflower and hummus to freshly sauteed garlicky spinach. I was thinking Terry’s Sesame Wow Greens would have been great, but I went with something more simple: spinach and garlic finished with toasted sesame oil. It complemented the hummus really well. (Of note, I just made a single serving but increased the amount to serve 4 in the recipe below).
Leftovers need not be boring and I may never have had the forethought (or energy) to make such an involved recipe. But I highly encourage you to try it out. :)
Not that I need new mustards right now, but which one is your favourite? Have you ever made homemade mustard?
I feel kind of bad for all my buddies in Canada reading about my cycling adventures. Not much cycling is happening there, unless it is of the indoor variety. The weather here is glorious (not too humid yet and only a few mosquitoes have been spotted so far) but more importantly, we have to start cycling early. Our first cycling goal is less than a month away. 100 miles in early May. We need to get moving.
Last weekend, Rob and I finally started training together. My last few jaunts have been solo, so we weaned in carefully: 140 km over 2 days (split 90 km and 50 km). The advantage of splitting the distances is that you have a break for your legs but not your bum. ;)
The other reason we had to split our distance is because we had a late start on Saturday. With my recent string of flats, my 3-year-old tires were in need of replacement. We spent the first hour changing the tires only to realize that we also punctured one of the tubes. The fresh tires were a bit tight and I even managed to snap one of the plastic doodads trying to get the tire back on. By this time, we were too frustrated to remove it and try again and wanted to call in the pros. However, it seemed like all bicycle stores open at 10 am so had to wait it out.
As we waited it out, I made these delicious snacks.
Do you remember last year when I cycled 100 km and came home too tired to make my own smoothie? In retrospect, I wonder whether I had encountered the dreaded bonk. This year, I am ramping my snacks and calories. I am drinking my homemade sports drink. Even for these “short” beginner rides.
I really liked these treats. First of all, because they look like rice crispy treats but there are no marshmallows here at all. The goopy mess that keeps it all together is tahini and brown rice syrup with a touch of vanilla. I loved Gabby’s sesame overload with sesame seeds in addition to the tahini and the marvellous addition of chewy raisins. This is a grown-up version of rice crispy treats if I ever tasted one, assuming that adults grow up. Perfect as a cycling snack, especially for long rides, since it is mostly carbs with some fats important for longevity… but most importantly: it tolerated the Houston heat perfectly.
While I wish I could say this was a fairy tale ending, with Rob and I cycling away without any hiccups, as we peddled away together, I noticed I lost the clipping mechanism on my clippy pedal. I opted to ride this weekend with only one foot clipped in.. I suppose I am working my way in. When I completed my first 100 km ride of the year, I only had regular shoes. Hopefully next weekend, I will have both shoes clipped in. ;)
With my meals revolving around plant-based whole foods, my mom has referred to my choice as being a vegan on steroids. While I have relaxed slightly, I still try my hardest to cater to others who may have dietary restrictions, for whatever reason. I have a friend with a sulphite allergy, family members with celiac disease and a coconut-hating mom. I was honoured when Ricki approached me to guest post on her blog. I have been reading it for years and enjoyed many of her creations (hemp brownies, the best vegan cheesecake, warm chickpea and artichoke salad and cocoa mint nibbles). All the while knowing she follows an anti-candida diet but never really knowing what it entailed. Imagine my surprise when Ricki told me how simple it really was: vegan, gluten-free meals without mushrooms, peanuts, pistachios, yeast and only low glycemic sweeteners. Without fail, I only then notice how all my recent recipes I wanted to share weren’t suitable: a mushroom-walnut pate, veggie spring rolls with a peanut sauce, vegetable noodle salad with peanuts, the banana in my acai bowl or the maple syrup in my salad dressing. Then I started to second guess myself, is miso ok? What about almonds? Ricki’s upcoming cookbook will help delineate this, along with new mouth-watering recipes and I cannot wait to read it. Until then, I decided to share what I know best: a hearty salad. ACD-friendly. I crafted a fun twist with spring’s new bounty of asparagus. I paired it with edamame for some additional protein and toasted almonds for crunch and drizzled it with a miso-lime vinaigrette. Jump over to her blog to check out the recipe here.
It is the most wonderful time of the year….
Not because the spring weather in Houston is positively happiness (it is!) or it is the beginning of a cycling season (it is!)…. but it is the beginning of mango season and now we live closer to the mangoes!
Nearly every year, Rob will hunt down Alphonso mangoes. The fancy mangoes flown in from India. I am not sure whether they will be coming to Houston, but it does not matter. There are cheap and plentiful Mexican Ataulfos to be found. Last week, we picked up a whole case for $5. (We split it with a friend to keep our eating crop fresh. I know we’ll be replenishing a few times, no worries)
We tend to keep the mangoes plain and unadorned (at least I do, Rob adds it to his breakfast granola) but used some frozen mangoes for this fun twist on chana masala. It kind of a combination of my Mango BBQ Beans combined with Indian flavours. While I have used amchoor powder (raw mango powder) to make a nice chana masala, this was a fun twist since it was hot and sweet, too. The heat came from our newest infatuation: roasted hatch chiles. The flavours complemented each other nicely, especially with the tang from the tomatoes and the earthy tones from the cumin, mustard seeds and garam masala, too. Not too overly spiced.
Rob actually made a double batch of this and we shared it with friends. We told them to give an honest opinion of the dish. It was the first time we tried it, so we could handle their feedback. Like us, they loved it! And I hope you do, too.
Here’s to a prosperous mango season!