I have embraced being a (temporary) Texan.
Summer in November? Yes.
Biking year round? Definitely.
I have obviously already forgotten about the hot, humid summer..
One problem, though: my dates are all messed up. Time is literally flying by. I saw an event for the end of November and thought it was weeks away. It was warm and sunny at the time… my internal clock had not registered that yes, it is indeed almost winter. At home, they’ve received more snow and cold weather than I can recall seeing in November.
I would be hard to pity me, though.. That warm spell disappeared and it is cold again. It will be a low at freezing point tonight. And I forgot (or did not pack?) my winter cycling gloves in Canada. Either that, or they are lost. I hope it is the former.
The warm weather partially explains my penchant for raw eats despite the season. The other, is that raw is easy to make and this was a recipe I knew would be fabulous. When Rob and I visited Ellen and Andy on our road trip to Houston, we shared a veritable feast for breakfast and these were my favourite treat. I have made raw (chocolate) macaroons before, but these were simply delightful. Apple, cinnamon and caramel-like dates are pulsed together with almonds and coconut for an autumn/winter-inspired treat. A touch of maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt made the flavours veritably pop.
These are so simple to make, but absolutely delicious.
Are you building your holiday treat roster yet? What are you excited to make?
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.
Have you checked out some of the other blogs on the Great Vegan Bean Book Blog Tour yet? I keep bookmarking more recipes to try. I feel like the majority of the cookbook is earmarked, to be honest.
I thought it might be nice to cook up a bunch more of the recipes and let you know how they were.. but then I made my second dish and decided to not delay my post any longer. The beans were fabulous.
Everyone has their go-to baked bean recipe. I did not grow up with baked beans, so I keep trying out new versions. Mango BBQ Beans are one of my favourites, but I also enjoyed the robust Slow-Cooked Nova Scotian Baked Beans with blackstrap molasses and pumpkin seed butter.
Like the Mango BBQ beans, these apple baked beans are simply simmered on the stovetop. They are also sweetened with fruit and since I used pureed canned tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, the sauce was lighter. A dash of molasses, Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar make a complex sauce which is also flavoured with rosemary, thyme and smoked paprika. Weird, but it works. Very, very well. The beans probably do not need such a long simmer, but I decided to go a bit lazy with my food prep. Since I had Macintosh apples, which turn to mush when heated, I thinly sliced them. Thus, I had to wait for the slices to turn to mush. If you have an apple that keeps its shape, you will need to chop it up more finely.
Most bean-centric dishes make good leftovers, but I loved these beans cold, too. I served them on top of fresh baby spinach for a nice, light meal.
As you may have guessed, yes, I am still alive.
I survived my crazy Rideau Lakes cycle.
My focus this year was to pass my exam (which I did!) and then I quickly ramped up to cycle to Kingston. I cycled another 50 km during the week leading up to the weekend and took Thursday and Friday off as rest days. My final pre-event odometer reading was 560 km, 150km within the previous week.
That weekend, though, I cycled over 200 km. Not too shabby. This was my second time on the course, so I know that the hardest part is between Perth and Kingston. This is where most of the hills lie, including the dreaded Westport hill. The nice thing about repeating the course is that I did not feel compelled to conquer the entire course. Been there, done that. Enjoying the ride with a great group of friends was more important.
Our Cobra biker gang consisted of my Dad, Rob and Sue. While Sue and I had already decided we wanted the shorter route from Perth, the boys wanted the full route. However, due to an early rain shower, we all ended up starting from Perth on Saturday. A later start meant the roads would be dry, but more importantly so would our shoes and clothes. I was positively soaked during my training ride, and I simply hate cold, wet shoes.
Turns out we had my ideal cycling weather: overcast and not too hot. We were having a great time and I was positively giddy once we smoked down Westport’s hill. Sue pummelled it at 69 km/h. I had my brakes on and my max was 59 km/h. As we lounged at the gas station at the bottom, other cyclists reminded me that the hardest part would be the next day, tackling that hill in the opposite direction.
The only wrinkle in our day was my slow-leaking flat at around the 80 km mark. My Dad pumped it up and we crossed our fingers, hoping I could make it to Kingston without changing the tube. Lucky me, we made it and found an on-site technician to change my tube for me.
As we stood in line at the maintenance tent, I chatted with the guy in front of me. He did the whole cycle from Ottawa. And yes, do the math, he lapped me. He arrived before me, covering an extra 77km in the 2 hours it took us to start in Perth. His average speed put ours to shame: 35 km/h. Ours was more like 23 km/h, and we probably took way more breaks, HA!
We arrived early enough that we beat the late afternoon sudden rainfall, and with enough time to relax and clean up before having an early dinner. While none of the heated mains were vegan, I picked up cooked carrots, corns and a marinara sauce and then loaded up at the salad bar where I made my own salad with greens, carrots, cabbage, kidney beans and chickpeas with a balsamic dressing. Strawberries for dessert.
The next morning, we met bright and early over my peanut butter oatmeal with fruit. Both my Dad and I snagged a bunch of bananas for the road.
This time, the weather was a beautiful sunny day. The wind was barely moving and any breeze was from us, or when the pentalon would pass us. HA! And the dreaded Westport hill? I was quickly reminded how difficult it was – I remembered it being not that hard. The steep incline comes early but it is short-lived. The hill continues at less steep incline afterwards, for around another 1 km. A quick break at the top had us re-energized to tackle the next set of rolling hills.
We made it to Perth by lunch time when Rob and my Dad waved us goodbye as they cycled the rest of the way home. Sure enough, they covered the last 77 km in 2.5 hours. Their 28 km/h average was impressive at the end of such a weekend. Sue and I were perfectly content to call it a day at Perth. Thankfully, I wasn’t as tired as I feared (judging by my fatigue after my training ride) and even had the gusto collect our luggage and then bake cookies for Rob before he came home. My Mom made her lovely quinoa pilaf again along with roasted asparagus and peppers.
However, now Rob calls me a monkey. I think I ate 5 bananas on Sunday, in addition to my homemade chocolate peanut butter balls. And while I would love to share the delicious chocolate peanut butter balls I brought with me, the photos are still in Ottawa. So, I am sharing these treats that I brought with me on my training run.
After really enjoying the Nut-free Raw Carrot Cake made with coconut flour, I wanted to try something similar but with zucchini and chocolate, instead. So I experimented. Instead of grated carrots, I used grated zucchini. Instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg, I used cocoa powder. Instead of the apple-cashew frosting, I used cacao nibs for easier transport. And I really liked them. Asterisk, though. I would add more cocoa powder next time. I used up the end of my supply so I worked with what I had. Furthermore, while I ate these as cycling treats, they do not travel well at all. They worked for me with a short ride, since I popped them out frozen. Within 2 hours, they are at their perfect consistency: chilled and firm. Once they became warm, they were mushy and messy. Still delicious but not ideal. Definitely not portable to/from Ottawa and Kingston. Thus, I made new snacks that were uber portable. And once I get the photos from my parents, I will share that delightful recipe with you, too.
The carrot craze continues…
I am a proponent of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and raw cuisine intrigues me. Dining at a raw resto can leave me beguiled: how did they do that? This goes beyond salads. Silky smooth lasagnas, luscious chocolate hazelnut cakes and brownies. This does not taste remotely like raw foods. Then I immediately want to try to make it myself. New techniques to bring you different flavours…
If you need any introduction to raw foods, raw desserts are definitely the way to go. No stranger to decadent raw desserts (Raw Key Lime Pie, Better Than Nutella Cheesecake, Raspberry Cashew Dreamcake), sometimes they go thump with the richness from nuts and coconut. It hasn’t stopped me from wanting to explore more desserts, though. Even better when they are lighter.
Last summer, I was a recipe tester for Amber’s cookbook Practically Raw Desserts and while the recipes are very flexible (I love her multiple variations!), one ingredient she was adamant about not substituting was coconut flour. It is unlike any other flour or shredded coconut.
I was dying to try was her Enlightened Carrot Cake. Nut-free, the base is made from carrots, apples and dates. Oh, and coconut flour. However, by the time I tracked down coconut flour and had the gusto to make this recipe, the book had already been shipped to the publisher (oops!). Thank goodness, this was one of the first recipes she shared online because it finally prompted me to try it.
Amber made this as a cute double-decker cake with a small springform pan. Since I don’t have one, I looked for an easier option. Cupcakes worked well with my last raw carrot cake (very good, too), and even though I had no muffin wrappers, I decided to try it out. After a bit of warm water pouring over the back of the muffin tray, the frozen cupcakes popped right out. It worked!
And yes, they were delicious. Because they are made with coconut flour, they are light. Coconut flour is defatted coconut meat, so it is a lower-fat coconut-based option for desserts. Most importantly, it is an ingredient creating a fluffier texture. As such, these cupcakes are so different than any other raw dessert I have made. The sweetness is not over-pronounced and it was a delicious dessert with a hint of coconut and cinnamon. Satisfying and surprisingly filling for a low-fat dessert.
Amber has two recipes as suggested frostings. I chose neither, although her fermented cashew frosting is still on my hit-list. My last cashew-date frosting was a bit dense and definitely not white, so I wanted to substitute the dates. Instead, I made an apple-cashew frosting. It was simple: apple + soaked cashews + ume plum vinegar (another acid and salt could work) + water. I liked how the fresh apple added bulk and sweetness. The consistency was just perfect after a chill in the refrigerator. Smooth and creamy.
Of course, now I am excited to make more recipes with coconut flour. Have you tried it yet?
Many of the recipes in Practically Raw Desserts use coconut flour, so I am excited to try more of Amber’s creations. I promise to do a better review of the cookbook when I finally get my copy. Here are other recipes that use coconut flour:
Maple Streusel Coffee Cake Squares in Practically Raw Desserts
Pecan Chai Spice Bars in Practically Raw Desserts (I made these as a tester but found the flavours a bit muted and the frosting too soft)
Pecan Shortbread in Practically Raw Desserts
Cake Batter Protein Balls from Chef Amber Shea (I have made these already. They are very good for something so simple)
Raw Apricot Jam Bars with Flakey Crust by Bonzai Aphrodite
Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies from Purely Twins
Peppermint Protein Bars from Purely Twins
Coconut Lemon Meltaways from The Hearty Herbivore
Raw Avocado Brownie from Bite-Sized Thoughts
Chocolate Avocado Cookies from Sprint 2 The Table
Wow, once you start, it can be hard to stop.
I may have unrawified the quinoa wraps, but I have been noshing on lots of great raw eats all week. I also ventured away from my standard chocolate oats, and re-entered overnight oats territory. For some odd reason, I usually only eat overnight oats when I have an empty container of nut butter. The overnight soaking allows you to absorb all the rest of the nut butter on the sides of the jar.
(and yes, I think that’s some carrot that snuck in from my grater, hehe)
I like how simple changes can truly transform my breakfast. I routinely add fresh fruit to my oats (especially apples), but I usually just chop them up. However, this time I made a spin on Swiss muesli. Nowadays, muesli is more akin to uncooked granola, heavy on rolled oats, nuts and seeds, although Dr. Bircher-Benner’s original recipe called for far more fruit than grains.
When I think of Bircher muesli, I associate it with the grated apple. Not chopped, grated. Grated apple was a fun twist. I ran with Gena’s recipe, which updated the classic recipe by including chia seeds, dried fruits and chopped almonds. The textural contrast from the soaked chia seeds, creamy oats, grated sweet apple and chopped almonds was a delicious treat. Trying to clear out my pantry, I tossed in some dried goji berries and my homemade unsweetened dried cranberries. I don’t normally like goji berries (I think I’ve had the same package for over 2 years), but found they were fantastic in here. So much so that I am sad I cleaned out the last of them… and trying very hard not to run back to Chinatown to buy some more. Must. Resist. Buying. New. Ingredients.
Do you do the nut butter jar trick? Have you tried goji berries? What are your favourite recipes?
And last, but not least, the winner for my cookbook giveaway is Ellen! I will contact you to get your shipping address.
My first WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday). Which was actually a Thursday, and posted on a Saturday.
I have never been one to want to document everything I eat in a day, but by the end of Valentine’s Day, Rob had managed to do most of it on my behalf. HA! Not the best photos (thank you to fluorescent lights), but that’s all in the spirit of WIAW. (I have supplemented with some other photos).
Since I knew Rob had plans for dinner, I started off by baking breakfast for Rob: Peanut butter cookie baked oatmeal. Rob gasped at how much it tasted like a peanut butter cookie (without any flour!). Pictured with Rob’s card.
I usually wake up and immediately eat half a grapefruit. Lately I have been drinking some green juice (I make enough to last 3 days or so). This cucumber-beet-ginger juice was delicious. (See recipe below)
A few hours later, when I arrive at work, I eat my steel-cut oats with protein powder. Lately, I have been adding spirulina to it and it makes it an electric green.
For lunch, I had the last of my curry-miso squash and chickpea soup.
Late afternoon, I snacked on an apple.
For dinner, Rob made my African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew. I like how he scoured my blog for a recipe he knew I would like (I am very predictable that way!). It was one of my favourite dishes in 2010 (such high praise!) and it had obviously been a long time since I’ve had it. He substituted white beans for the kidney beans and served it with red quinoa. He planned for a red-themed meal and solidified it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Still as delicious as I remember. Even better (I could taste the love).
For dessert, he surprised me with heart-shaped chocolate hazelnut truffles. Rob thought my recent post was a hint for Valentine’s Day (hahaha, I swear it wasn’t). He spiced things up by using hazelnut butter and made 3 versions: au naturel, some with a whole macadamia nut inside and some with shredded coconut. We obviously had to sample all three (each, of course). I think my favourite was the one with the whole nut. (PS. Yes, this recipe is so easy, Rob made them in under 20 minutes!)
What a keeper, eh?
Do you “celebrate” Valentine’s Day? If so, what did you do?
Earlier this year, my cousin’s wife was trying to track down kamut, an ancient wheat. She explained to me that kamut contained less gluten, perfect for her gluten-free adventures. She searched high and low and could not find whole grain kamut. Kamut flakes and puffed kamut, yes, but not regular old kamut. Since she was hoping to get rid of gluten, I suggested not trying to track down such a hard-to-find ingredient, especially since it still contains gluten, even if it is a smaller amount.
A few days later, when I decided to reorganize my whole grains, I discovered I had kamut. Turns out I had forgotten all about it. I bought a small amount while in Calgary, since I had never seen it before. Unfortunately, while Community Natural Foods has an online store, I don’t see kamut for sale. With my curiosity piqued, I decided it was time to try out the kamut.
Nothing fancy, I opted to add it to a bowlful of roasted fall vegetables. More veggies, less grain, please.
First, the kamut. I will admit that it was nice. Similar to wheat berries, they were pleasantly plump yet their shape made it more akin to orzo. A plumpy, chewy orzo. Milder than wheat berries, I rather enjoyed them. If I had easy access to kamut, I would likely choose it over wheat berries, but since I don’t know where to replenish it in Toronto, I will just have to finish my spelt berries first. Although, I am already on a whittling of the pantry plan, where nothing is being replenished except for my easy-to-find favourites: quinoa, red lentils and chickpeas.
Next, the veggies. Delicious right from the oven, I had a hard time holding back from gobbling everything down. I loved combining the different roasted vegetables for different complementary flavours. The Brussels sprouts were earthy and crispy, contrasting the soft and sweet squash, next to the tart and juicy cranberries. The balsamic-curry dressing was not overpowering, and allowed the natural flavours to shine.
Don’t have kamut? No worries. Simply omit it or add your favourite whole grain or bean. I am thinking chickpeas or white beans would be great here.
If you do have kamut, and live in the GTA, please tell me where you found it.
You know you are a food blogger if…
According to this list, I am not a very good blogger. I can only relate to:
3. You’ve made kale chips. And there is a recipe for it on your blog.
I’ve made kale chips but it is not on my blog. Or does my kale chip pizza count?
6. You take the same photos of the produce at the farmer’s market that you did last year, but you can’t help it. The rainbow chard is so pretty!
I don’t recall actually doing this but I could see myself doing and saying this.
7. You really are confused as to why granola is so expensive at the grocery store.
Uh yeah, especially when it is so easy to make at home.
8. You go shopping with your significant other, and at some point, while looking for a specific item on your grocery list, you turn to him/her and say “We need to shop at a white person grocery store.”
Sounds like something I could say but I don’t think I have. In my defense, ethnic grocery stores don’t carry nutritional yeast!
9. When dining out, no one is allowed to eat the food until you have whipped out your camera/iPhone/Android and taken a shot of it first.
Rob and I both do this!
11. You scope out restaurant tables at lunch with proximity to windows to provide natural lighting for
your Rob’s photographs.
If the light isn’t right, I don’t even try taking a photo.
19. You have run out of room for your cookbooks. Yet you still buy more.
Guilty, as charged.
21. You think Pinterest is a godsend as well as the devil’s work.
27. You start to get nervous when you are down to only
one pound of butter, one bag of flour, one head of garlic, or one onion.
But is that really because I am a food blogger or just a meticulous cook that likes garlic and onions?
9/40. I fail.
I have others suggestions: You know are a food blogger when you can’t NOT make a new recipe, when you make meals during the day to help take photographs in natural light, or you have a special spot dedicated for food photography.
I never really thought much about blogging and my life, 3 years – has it really been that long?, until I tried to stop blogging.
I recently went to a party and planned to keep things low stress. I would make a repeater recipe: My Crunchy Cabbage Salad with an Orange-Tahini Dressing. However, I knew I could eat half of it, so I decided to double the recipe. After I cut all that cabbage, it seemed like a heck of a lot. Even if there would be 12 people at the party. So I reverted back to my die-hard blogger instincts and made a second salad instead of doubling the original salad.
This is the second salad. Which I photographed before the party and repackaged. Because who would share a cake with a piece missing at a party? (#24) Only if it is my own party! And really, I just claim the first piece.
While cabbage haters would likely not be pleased with 2 salads, both featuring cabbage, I was glad that I brought both (just like kale salads, cabbage salads keep well as leftovers). The Orange-Tahini Cilantro Cabbage Salad is bright and flavourful but this second salad was warm and earthy. Onions and garlic are pan-fried along with cabbage that is gently cooked to remove some of its bite. Granny Smith apples add tartness and sweetness along with raisins. Tossed with rosemary and balsamic vinegar, you have a simple salad that is more than the sum of its parts. I used green cabbage which became a bit muddled from the balsamic vinegar. My suggestion would be to use white balsamic if you have it or use purple cabbage instead.
The salads had mixed reviews. Personally, I preferred the new salad but the guests seemed to prefer my old stand-by.
How do you know that you are a food blogger?
This is my submission to this month’s No Croutons Required for special salads for guests, to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne, to this month‘s Herbs on Saturdays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays
I am a bad vegan.
I’ll change that right now. What better way to share vegan cheer than by spreading some vegan desserts?
I went a bit dessert happy last week and made not one, but two desserts. Both with secret ingredients.
First, we have these blondies. Fudgy and moist like brownies but without any cocoa. Speckled with chocolate chips and sweetened with dates, you have a delicious dessert. Nut-free, to boot, these treats are made with chickpeas!
I first tried baking with beans when I made chocolate black bean cookies last year. Deliciously moist, creating a cake-like consistency. Without a hint of beans, the beany cookies were definitely a hit over Christmas. This time, the chickpeas contribute to a moist filling along with the dates. Chocolate chips speckled throughout made it a nice treat.
A momentary lapse caused me to inadvertently double the wet ingredients, so I ended up doubling the recipe and making 2 pies. After chowing down one pie in 2 days, I knew I had to share the second pie. I had to say goodbye.
Rob ended up bringing it work and had some fun at the same time. His email to the masses:
I put some leftover cake and brownies in the kitchen on 5. There’s not much there. Get it while you can!!!
After it was devoured in 10 minutes, Rob sent out a second email:
I can see that all y’all devoured the goodies in mere minutes. Little did you know that they were both VEGAN cake and brownies. *evil laugh*
Rob shared with me his co-workers responses:
lol well played sir!
still tastes good =D
LOL! Touche, my friend!
Little you knew I sprinkled bacon bits over both… muhahahaha. Actually being evil!
For some reason, he didn’t disclose there were chickpeas in the blondies and whole wheat flour in the cake. I think that would scare off more people than telling them it was vegan, right? Healthy does not have to mean taste-less.
If a group of twenty-something men devoured them, I bet you would enjoy them, too! Did you celebrate World Vegan Day?
Eating two heads of lettuce may seem trivial to some. In fact, for me, it probably isn’t much of a stretch to munch through…. of course, I never really have an empty fridge, so in addition to the new lettuce, I also had some spinach and beet greens to munch through first, and a bit of mixed greens, too. I also asked Rob to pick up some sunflower sprouts to spruce up some of my salads. Instead of coming home with a small packet of sprouts, he opted for the massive 1 lb bag of sprouts. Sprouts are light, trust me, it is a lot of sprouts! Why so many sprouts? They were 75% off! Priced to sell and for me to eat quickly!
While cooking greens is an easy way to eat lots of them and to extend their shelf life, I wanted to savour the glory of the sprouts. Unlike most bloggers, I have yet to succumb to the Green Monster breakfast smoothies. I have gobbled down breakfast smoothies in the past, and have thrown in some greens for good measure, but I keep returning to my easy chocolate protein power oats and berries instead.
What to do? Eat it for dinner! Make soup! Raw soup! A blended salad!
With 2 new raw cookbooks from the library, I have become very curious about some of the simpler raw dishes. Raw soups are among them, which seem like a glorious medley of vegetables and flavours. While I am no virgin to raw soups (remember that mango gazpacho?), the difference between juice, smoothie and soup always runs through my head. Plus, raw soups can easily be done wrong if your vegetables are not fresh, if you add too much or too little water or if your blender is not up to snuff. (This is definitely where the Vitamix excels because who wants a lumpy soup?)
Even though I drank it in a glass, this wasn’t a juice. It was a creamy pureed soup. The soup was only warmed by the blender, a welcome change during the recent heat wave and the biggest difference from traditional soups.
The sprouts are whizzed to make a lovely sweet green backdrop, sweetened by an apple, with depth added from lemon juice and dulse granules. The nuts and avocado add the protein and fat to make this a satisfying and filling soup and make it quite luscious. Not one to always like pureed soups, I really appreciated the fresh nature of this brew. With a side salad, it was a great meal.
Raw soups have also been dubbed as blended salads, so for those that don’t have a high-speed blender, instead of making a lumpy soup, consider eating this as a salad instead! Eating all the sprouts can feel like you’ve turned into an animal (does anyone else feel like that with lots of sprouts?), so maybe try substituting some of the sprouts for mixed greens.
Guess who biked to work yesterday? With highs of 18C, a nice rain on Monday to get rid of the salt, I was almost feverish in excitement to finally start biking to work!
I know it is only a teaser, though… Warmer weather alone does not make spring. Especially if it only lasts a week.
There are many ingredients I associate with spring: Baby greens. Arugula. Asparagus. Carrots. And peas.
Since the fresh, local produce hasn’t made its way to the forefront just yet, you can approximate springtime with this hybrid of a stew adapted from Love Soup: Finnish Double Pea Soup with Apples (original recipe here). It is a wonderful merriment of a hearty stick-in-your-ribs winter split pea stew combined with a sprinkling of spring with fresh (or in my case, frozen) peas (I used the sweeter petit pois from President’s Choice). Apples also add a hit of sweetness without being too discernible. The vinegar and mustard temper and balance the soup extremely well along with a whiff of nutmeg and coriander. The flavours are not over-the-top but they marry very well.
This is my submission to this month’s My Kitchen, My World featuring dishes from Finland, to This Week’s Cravings (Green), to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Gimme Green event and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
They are a very healthy way to wrap around a sandwich filling, while having the benefit of not getting soggy like rice paper rolls, etc.
I am still working on the best technique on how to keep them together, though.
Attempt #1: A little lop-sided but still very tasty!
Attempt #2: I think I could use smaller apple slices, but this was a better success!
But like most things, it is what is inside that counts.
This is such an unusual pairing of ingredients but they work wonderfully together. Just as Gena suggested, I used the Zesty Cashew Orange Spread with an apple in a Swiss chard wrap. That dip, divine as it is solo, it is even better in this wrap. There is something about the crisp, sweet apple, paired with the sweet green, along with the tangy citrus spread that knocks my socks off. This is a lovely snack, and once I get some toothpicks, a lovely snack to take on my long cycling trips!
In a few months, I will be moving from my tiny (but cozy! I love it! I will miss it. Anyone want to rent it?) apartment to a house. Not any house, though. A house with a garden: which I plan on filling with vegetables.
While I had a mini container garden on my balcony last year, there will be a lot more space in the new place. Thus, the question is what should we be planting as beginner gardeners for our first garden?
My first list was to pick the things I like to eat: tomatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, cilantro, garlic, and lots of herbs. I have visions of lots of kale, swiss chard and snow peas. However, after reading a bit more, I definitely had to revisit these plans. Butternut squash need a lot of room. Broccoli and cabbage scream “eat me!” by attracting a lot of bugs. Bok choy is hard to grow. Cilantro likes to bolt when the weather gets hot. Garlic needed to be planted in the fall. Hmmpht, this is not as easy as I was hoping.
In an effort to find easy plants to grow that we will want to eat, we’ve been investigating new vegetables. Eat them now to see if we want to grow them later.
The first vegetable we were intrigued by was kohlrabi, one of the oddest looking vegetables (?alien baby in vegetable form). Truth be told, I had never even heard of kohlrabi until Dawn started posting a bunch of recipes as she got them through her CSA. I had not seen them in the grocery stores, either. Until I started to look, of course. Bestwin for the win, sells 4 of them for $1.
Rob took a few and made a light, yet earthy Indian-Spiced Kohlrabi and Quinoa Salad and I used the last kohlrabi to make this delicious wheat berry salad, inspired by Enlightened Cooking. It has been a while since I’ve cooked up some wheat berries. Since wheat berries take an hour or so to cook, I was tempted to bring out quinoa instead for the salad. After seeing wheat berries appear in a few recent recipes, I reconsidered. It has been too long.. and I should be cleaning out my pantry, right? It was the right decision, too: wheat berries were fabulous here.
Reminiscent of two of my favourite wheat berry salads, a bright citrus dressing pairs incredibly well with plump, nutty wheat berries. The salad is flavoured with a tart-sweet crisp apple, chopped sweet red pepper, dried cranberries as well as crunchy carrots and sunflower seeds. I added lots of cilantro and mixed in slivered baby spinach (pea shoots were great, too!) for more body. While it may seem counter-intuitive, a tip I’ve picked up for wheat berry salads is to dress it right before serving. Otherwise, the wheat berries sop up the dressing and it becomes dry when eating them as leftovers.
Oh yes, and the fresh kohlrabi. Hard to describe, but it tastes like broccoli and cabbage with the texture of an Asian pear in a broccoli stem form. Maybe that makes sense to some of you. The conclusion, though, is that I like it! This was a fabulous salad, kohlrabi and all. Hopefully it makes it into our new garden.
Have any suggestions for planting a garden in Toronto? I am all ears!
Other kohlrabi recipes that have interested me:
Kale and Kohlrabi Salad with Miso-Tahini Dressing by Florida Coastal Cooking
Kohlrabi Slivers and Pea Shoots with Sesame Dressing by Gourmet
Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad by The Wednesday Chef
Coconut Curried Tofu, Eggplant, and Kohlrabi with Green Jasmine Rice by Eats Well With Others
Turnip-and-Kohlrabi Slaw with Ginger-Vinaigrette Dressing from The Bitten Word
Asian Slaw with Kohlrabi, Daikon and Turnips by Eggs on Sunday
Savoy Cabbage, Kohlrabi and Grapefruit Salad by Food & Wine
Kohlrabi and Cabbage Salad in Plenty by Ottolenghi
A big round of applause for Rob for posting some awesome recipes over the past week!
Gosh, sometimes life just becomes incredibly hectic. At times, it can be hard to juggle work, research, social commitments, and all of a sudden there is crunch time! Rob saw I was stressed and offered to help with the blog (what a sweetie, eh?).
No worries about food, because I was still cooking up a storm. In fact, I feel almost guilty about taking so long to tell you about this lovely kale salad. I have shared the recipe countless times since I made it, but have yet to blog about it. Trust me, it is fabulous.
This is a kale salad. A salad made with raw kale. I know you are raising your eyebrow, thinking that kale is so bitter and tough, why would you eat it raw? Well, it is more of a wilted kale salad because you massage it into silky oblivion, kneading in the flavours.
I was (loosely) inspired by the raw kale salad in Lucid Food, and kept it as a creamy salad with the addition of avocado. It is combined with a splash of olive oil and garlic for a luscious dressing. I chose to top the salad with a tart Granny Smith apple as well with grated raw beet (yes, you can eat it raw) instead of carrot which made the apple turn a brilliant shade of magenta. Toasted almonds add another layer of nutty crunch.
A perfect salad for potlucks, and even for leftovers (gasp!) because you actually want this to be a wilted salad.
If you ever want to try to make your own recipes, soups and salads are a great place to start. I don’t think you could muck it up too badly.
I was inspired by Chocolate & Zucchini’s Apple and Cumin Lentil Salad. I knew I wanted to keep the base flavours the same with the apple, lentils and cumin, but change things around as well.
To keep this a filling hearty meal, I added wild rice which had a nutty flavour that complemented the rest of the salad ingredients. The tofu was removed. I added in chopped carrot for crunch and kept the dressing ingredients fresh (Clotilde cooked hers a tad). The dressing was increased because of the larger volume of the salad, but it is not heavy at all. It was fresh, yet hearty at the same time. Sweet and savoury with the apple and cumin. Play around with this theme and see what you can create!