When I am stressed, I like to cook. Most of my meals are winners thanks to a great recipe base and a dash of creativity and experience. So, for me, heading into the kitchen is a way for me to turn off my brain and do something that gives me something positively tangible in the end.
The same with blogging. I use it as a creative outlet and a way to share said awesome recipes.
This will explain why I am blogging right now.
kind of want to vent.
Toronto was hit with a bit of snow over the past few days. 30 cm of snow. I’ve experienced worse (60 cm overnight) and it could have been much worse. Toronto just has a hard time dealing with snow. My car is currently snowed in my parking spot. A day after the snowfall, the laneway still has a foot of snow for me to drive through if I want out.
Rob warned me last night, so I knew I wasn’t heading to the gym for my 8am weights.
Turns out that was the least of my worries.
This morning, my fridge broke.
And I can’t get into my garage. Both locks are jammed.
Of course, we planned for storm success by grocery shopping before the blizzard.
One plus for it being winter is that I have stored all the freezer stuff in my car. Friends have offered fridge-space in the meantime for our non-freezable stuff. Although we are still working out how to move it over since our car is snow-bound.
I know, things could be worse.
So, as I wait for Rob to return home, I am blogging.
To share with you this delicious soup I made last week and is now chilling in my car. This is a great soup to soothe the soul, be it from unforeseen craziness or the howling winter winds. Definitely better than chicken soup.
I rechristened it with a more descriptive name: miso curry squash and chickpea soup. A broth spiced with black mustard seeds, turmeric, garlic and ginger, along with miso and kombu. Chunks of winter squash (golden nugget was my choice this time), shiitake mushrooms and chickpeas fill your bowl with goodness. Chickpeas were my addition, as well as baby bok choy. The baby bok choy was such a last minute thought that I photographed the soup before I added it. However, I ended up really liking the crunchy stems and leafs, so I included them in the recipe below.
I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. In fact, I thought I did not like black mustard seeds, but this was fabulous. If you like this soup, I also recommend these similar stews: Butternut squash, coconut and lentil stew and Plantains and cabbage with split peas. Miso-curry squash elsewhere: Red Curry Miso Roasted Veggie Bowl, Miso-Curry Squash, Tofu and Kale Salad, Miso Sesame Winter Squash and Tofu and Coconut Curry Miso Soup.
So, tell me: how is your weekend going? How do you like to deal with stress?
If you compare meat and vegetables, which are more expensive? Meat, right?
I hear people complaining how costly fresh vegetables are, but really it isn’t that bad. The problem is that they are perishable and don’t necessarily keep that long. I suppose the same is true with meat, but it can easily be frozen without adverse effects.
Now tell me what the cheapest vegetable is….
Courtesy of Sunny-rrific sales:
Carrots: $1 for 4 lb is pretty good. 25c/lb.
I’ve bought a head of cabbage for 50c. That’s like 20c/lb.
Kohlrabi is cheap, too. I’ve bought it on sale for 19c/lb at Sunny’s. Probably because no one has a clue what to do with it.
When I see butternut squash on sale for 19c/lb, I stock up!
But no, I’ve seen fresh veggies even cheaper than 19c/lb.
Daikon! For 9c/lb!
Daikon is also known as a white radish and is relatively mild but still has a peppery punch. While I have cooked with daikon in my Japanese Winter Stew, I don’t have that many daikon recipes. I couldn’t help myself, though, and grabbed a handful of daikon for the road. As a root vegetable, they keep extremely well in the refrigerator.
A quick search led me to Miss Figgy’s daikon braised in mirin and tamari, which she adapted from The Kind Diet (original recipe posted here). The long braise was supposed to turn the normally pungent white radish into sea scallops. Not that I really know what sea scallops taste like, but I can imagine the texture.
Let me tell you, I would not have even guessed this was daikon. After the long braise in mirin, tamari and kombu, you create a subtly sweet and salty treat. There was no trace of spicy radish here. The radish was just a vehicle for the sauce. These are great warm, fresh from their long braise, but also chilled as leftovers.
Now please tell me how you prepare daikon. I think I have one left.
Last week was a bit of a tease.I was lamenting how it would be months before I could take my bike out. I was shocked when the weather turned around completely, with a few gorgeous spring days with highs around 15C. I quickly brought my bike into the shop to get its annual tune up, and was commuting to work earlier this week. Only to have snow come again the following day. It was such a slap in the face to have spring yanked out from under my bicycle tires!
No use sulking, as there are still lots of great things winter provides, like hearty soups and stews. There are many dishes to warm up the soul when outside is so cold.
Like this Japanese Stew. While I am usually leery of making Japanese recipes from a non-Japanese cookbook, I still ventured to make a Japanese Winter Stew I found in Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. I swapped the veggies around, though, for a more authentic feel (power to random purchases from Chinatown!), but really, you could throw in any seasonal vegetable. I kept the sweet potato and tofu, but I substituted daikon for the turnip, added in 100g of chopped enoki mushrooms and used 4 oz baby spinach instead of mustard greens. I then topped each serving with chopped green onions and drizzled with a touch of toasted sesame oil. This is a powerhouse of a winter stew, overflowing with vegetables, yet with the comforting miso taste but zippy from the chili flakes and ginger. It balances out so nicely, which is what Japanese cuisine is all about.
The worst part of vacationing is returning back to the real world. Especially when you go from 30°C in Texas to -10°C in Toronto: it hurts that much more; that slap in the face that I am still living in winter. No, I can’t take out my bike just yet… maybe in another couple of months, once the salt has been washed away.
When I came back, I had a fridge nearly devoid of produce and was looking for an all-pantry meal. I picked up Urban Vegan while down south, so I perused it looking for something hearty and filling. Just as advertised (recipe also posted here), this was a hearty adzuki bean soup. It was also quick to make since adzuki beans do not need any pre-soaking.
This hit the spot! This is a thick, filling soup with sea-like flavours from the kombu. I usually remove kombu after cooking beans, but this time I actually pureed it right into the soup. It was really thick as written with 6 cups of broth (it could be a nice bean dip at that stage), so thin it out afterward to your desired consistency. Do not skip the toasted almonds, as I really think it made the dish.