Whups, I was hoping to get back to sharing three recipes a week but plans changed. At the last minute, Rob abandoned his plan to bike to Niagara Falls (I was planning to stay at home and relax) but instead, we both headed out to a friend’s cottage for the weekend. It was a doozy of a stressful week and it was wonderful to relax amongst the water, forest and a touch of biking the hills.
Unseasoned cottage goers, we were stuck in Sunday traffic and forgot that grocery stores close early (at least our favourites close to home) so we had to make do with limited produce and a lonely mango. Soba noodles to the rescue! Tossed with a pleasantly sweet lime dressing, this is a summer pasta salad sure to please the masses.
I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Rob put it on hold at the library in December and we finally made it to the front of the list. Just in the knick of time, too, as we start to pack our house again for our (hopefully) last move ever. Have any of you read it and started tidying? I have seen a few reviews around the blogosphere (example), so I knew the premise to declutter was to only keep things that brought you joy. I am waiting for Rob to finish reading it (at least the first part on purging) prior to beginning to tidy. It will be easier if we are on the same page (said the one that has been slow to adopt the minimalism).
Rob has already packed my cookbooks, and I wouldn’t want to undo his efforts, so we’ll keep them all for now (HA!). Honestly though, one of my favourite cookbooks (definitely one I would keep) is Isa Does It (see my review here). Quick and simple, creative recipes that deliver loads on flavour. This is one such example. This was definitely more than the sum of its parts. Mushrooms and corn are pan-fried with soy curls and then spiced with chilies, lime and cilantro. Isa uses seitan but I think chickpeas could work well, too. She also recommends black beans which would fit with the Mexican theme.
So, please tell me, which cookbook brings you the most joy?
I must admit that I was drawn to making this because it had the word “summer” in its title. With frozen corn, canned tomatoes and fresh produce available even now (zucchini, spinach, red bell peppers and cilantro), you could almost imagine was made in the summer. This is probably one of most colourful curries, due in part, to all the rainbow of colours from the vegetables.
Rob and I (very briefly) considered taking our bikes out this weekend (we skipped right over snowshoeing) but while the temperatures are nice, the roads are littered with salt, sand and even some small snowbanks.
I am kind of hoping that once we return from our trip, spring will be here for real. Especially since I am already planning/imaging what I want to plant in my garden pots for the summer. I have missed my forest of fresh herbs.
Oddly enough, these last few months have been the hardest for me to blog. My new normal is scrambling the night before to cobble together a post. The recipes and photos are ready to go but I just don’t know what to say.
It isn’t that I am getting bored with my eats (I am most certainly not) but they are certainly fitting a similar theme each week. What can I say? I know what I like and I like to eat it.
Here, I took Gabby’s recipe which took an Indian-spiced tomato sauce with some (leftover, in my case) roasted spaghetti squash and cooked chickpeas. It did not disappoint in the slightest. Something a bit different than my bean-centric curries, loaded with strands of spaghetti squash. Totally a winner.
What are your oft-repeated meals?
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
As I told you earlier, this weekend Rob and I completed the pool portion of our PADI scuba certification. Amidst Toronto’s cold, donning bathing suits in an 86F pool (and all the scuba gear) was a pleasant adventure, as we each described our plans for wanting to learn how to scuba dive. Some of the participants were going to head to Grenada for an ecological mission, others to Indonesia and Thailand but the majority, like us, were preparing for Caribbean destinations in a few short weeks.
The interesting thing about PADI certification, is that while yes, you learn how to scuba dive, the majority of the training is how to work your way through different challenges and how not to inflict harm on yourself. Lung overexpansion injuries, decompression syndrome, and contaminated air, it was actually kind of neat and definitely not anything we learned in medical school. If anything, Rob and I will probably be very happy spending more time in shallow waters than using more air in deeper depths. But we’ll see what it is like when we get there.
If you are at all interested in water ecology and environments, I highly recommend this excellent article all about jellyfish. Fascinating look at how they are taking over the waters.
However, I am willing to bet you are here for some good food. This is a basically a noodle topped with stir-fried veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, and even some edamame) and fried tofu then doused in a miso-ginger sauce. I used kelp noodles here but soba would work equally well. I also think this would work great with a quinoa or brown rice base, too, but it is nice to mix things up. Enjoy!
How are you keeping warm during this blast of cold? My thoughts are still with those digging out in Atlantic Canada (see the impressive photos here).
This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
This weekend was a doozy of a cold fest. With the long weekend, I briefly contemplated using the snow in my favour by breaking out the snowshoes… until I realized just how cold it was. With temperatures near -40C with the wind, Rob and I opted to stay inside most the weekend.
We actually had a plan. We needed to study.
We are working to becoming PADI scuba certified. Since our wedding in one of the best places to go scuba diving, we decided to capitalize on the uniqueness of the location. 5 hours of videos, 300 pages of a manual and multiple questions, we spent the majority of the weekend tucked away reading. Next weekend, we will attempt our pool portion of the training. Sadly, outdoor dives here will not resume until June, so we won’t be certified before we go, but it will make it much easier to go scuba diving.
Around this time of year, it is probably a good idea for us to go through our pantries and cold rooms. Please tell me I am not the only one with winter squashes that always seem to linger throughout the winter. No better time to use the winter squash along with a new variety of bean. Especially in curry form.
Susan gifted me these black chickpeas awhile back and I will admit, I prefer regular chickpeas. However, this curry was spectacular. There were a multitude of spices, added at different times to the curry, which created a rather optimally spiced dish. The fennel and panch phoran make this Bengali-inspired and a bit different from our typical curries. The black chickpeas made for a beautiful visual contrast but regular chickpeas could work, too.
How did you stay warm this weekend? Any scuba divers with beginner tips? :)
(Continuing with making a curry each week, although not necessarily blogging about them each week, ha!)
If you are looking for recipes with a pressure cooker, other than JL’s new book, I recommend checking out Indian cookbooks. Or more specifically, I knew there were plenty of bean-centric pressure cooker recipes in one of my Indian cookbooks, 1000 Indian Recipes. I ventured forth with a dish that required no pre-soaking and cooked reasonably fast.
Thank you, chana dal, which are split black chickpeas. They are more crunchy than most beans I cook although that may because I didn’t cook them with too much water (2:1 water to bean ratio, weird). This dish could also be made without a pressure cooker, it would just take longer and I would add the greens later.
While dill might seem like an unusual ingredient for curry, I know it works really well (see this fabulous chickpea dill curry). The tomato is familiar to both Indian and European foods although this is purely Indian with the ginger, cumin, garlic and cilantro. The spinach almost melted by the weight of the pressure cooker, so I may try something different next time (like using baby spinach added at the end) or use a heartier green like kale.
Rob gave me a high five for finishing up the last of our chana dal. I say high five for the chana dal for still being awesome after all these years on my bean shelf!! Yeah! :)
I have been blogging for over 5 years and one thing I have learned to keep this a sustainable hobby is: don’t sweat the small stuff. This recipe has been sitting in my draft folder for a while and I keep on hesitating to share it with its lackluster photos. However, the recipe is stellar and for some reason, once the snow hits, I am all about the tropical eats.
I used canned beans here. One can of red kidney beans (they never seem to get too much love in my kitchen) along with mixed beans (who remembers my Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad? With Mr Goudas’ 9th Symphony Bean Mix? YAH!). It still cracks me up: Eat and music will follow. Get ready to listen. I swear, it is written on the label. it almost sounds like Trader Joe’s would love.
In any case, the beans are mixed with a lime infused tomato broth spiked with pineapple and spiced with oregano and a hint of chile flakes. Serve with your favourite grainy side to sop of the juices.
I promise to return with some prettier photos (along with a giveaway) next week. :)
I planned on making this with grits.
Cajun beans and greens with grits. Obviously.
I even smuggled some grits home from Trader Joe’s when we left Houston.
As I prepped the ingredients for this quick and easy bean skillet, I nonchalantly brought out the grits. Another 30 minutes? No way the sun would last for them, so I photographed the beans as the sun quickly faded away and then waited for quinoa. I was worried I would have to tend to the grits continuous, like polenta, so I chickened out in the end.
Next time, there will be grits.
There is a special kind of familiarity to the Indian curries Rob and I cook up each week. Certainly, we have our favourites on a constant rotation, but most of our curries involve simmering some beans with garlic, ginger and turmeric with some tomatoes, perhaps some greens with a finishing tarka with cumin and a spritz from lemon or lime juice and a cilantro garnish.
This curry hits on nearly all those points. It did not disappoint.
As the weather remains cold, I am honestly considering making a curry each week. Definitely comfort food. My how things have changed. There was a time I would not have touched Indian food but over the years, Rob has shown me the way.
Other lentil-like curries spotted here:
I had all the best intentions of sharing a chocolate-based recipe this week. Sadly, not one but two recipes were a flop. How could that possibly be? One we had to throw out it was that bad but the other will still be happily eaten.
This will be a quick post to share another of my favourite repeater recipes from this year: Isa’s Coconut Chana Saag. I am still not sure why it looks like most of the curries I share, but this one is flippin fantastic. Perhaps the touch of fennel brought it to the next level? In any case, it is delicious and highly recommended.
While most people might be on holidays already (Rob is!!), I get 2 out of 3 statutory holidays off and otherwise working through the remainder of the days. Rob thinks I am working too much but I try to reassure him that this way I save my vacation for our honeymoon.
I may pop back in with a few quickie posts but if not, best wishes for the new year and happy holidays. :)
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
Feel like you missed autumn? Summer went straight into winter? Time flies, and sometimes I feel like I missed the peak season for certain fruits and vegetables. I keep missing peach season although we had a few this year. I also missed prime tomato time, perhaps because I was distracted by summer exams. In any case, have no fear. Canned tomatoes are possibly the best way to make sure you have flavourful tomatoes.
Oddly enough, I first encountered Arrabiata sauce while travelling in South Africa. It was a premade sauce that I added to a can of lentils with delicious results. A bit spicy, a lot tomatoey, it worked well with the hearty lentils. However, by the time I returned to Canada, I figured a pasta sauce deserved some pasta.
I made a huge batch of Ricki’s Arrabiata sauce and used it in two non-traditional ways: paired with soba noodles and also paired with zucchini noodles with chickpeas and nutritional yeast. I liked both versions although the zucchini noodles remind me more of the summer than soba noodles.
Next time, I think I will puree the sauce and add a bunch of lentils. Topped with nutritional yeast, it was a great meal, too.
Despite what you make believe, I haven’t eaten any winter squash recently. I bought a colourful carnival squash but haven’t made anything with it yet. I have this recipe I made while in Houston. The giveaway? The frozen roasted corn. I can’t say I have seen that since returning to Toronto.
This is a perfect end-of-summer, beginning of fall soup, as the last of the local corn arrives and the first winter squashes arrive. Or perfect for the dead of winter, too, using frozen corn kernels.
The Three Sisters, referring to the dietary staples of the Mesoamerican diet: corn, beans and squash. They often grow together, each plant benefitted from the others. The lankly corn husks provided a structure for the beans to latch onto. The squash covers the ground, preventing pesky weeds from appearing. And like all beans, they return nitrogen to the soil to help nearby plants. It makes sense that meals would also center around such foods, equally creating a balanced meal. This meal is simple but elevated by choice herbs and spices (cilantro, chiles, smoked paprika, garlic) with a heavy hand of lime juice. I used the full amount in the recipe and even I, the lover of all things tart, found it off-putting. Please start with less and taste as you go.
The recipe comes from a cookbook I have been meaning to write about for a while, Extraordinary Vegan. I can see Allan is a partial kindred spirit in the kitchen as he realizes a few choice ingredients can elevate meals to become extraordinary. Like I have said, some of my favourite, albeit unusual ingredients, are Aleppo chile flakes, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and miso. These are a few of the ingredients Allan uses to create his meals. I had a few of these in my Houston kitchen, but still piecing together my larger pantry here, and now looking forward to trying other recipes. Many recipes are simple but a few use a few hard to find ingredients. Here are a few other recipes I have spotted around the web from Extraordinary Vegan.
Are the squashes out in full force in your kitchen yet?
WOAH! Stop the presses. Where have you been all my life?
I always thought barbecue sauces were tomato-based. This barbecue sauce has no tomato in sight. Instead, the base is from mustard and vinegar. It is amazing what a little blackstrap molasses can do to herald a sauce into the barbecue family.
The ultimate barbecue sauce is probably a very touchy/personal topic for many, especially in the US, with each region having their own spin on their special sauce for grilling. While in Texas, I didn’t go for barbecue, but I seem to be homesick for my time in Houston and bringing the barbecue back to Toronto.
However, this is not Texas-style barbecue sauce, it hails from South Carolina. Mustard-loving Germans added a barbecue twist to their local sauce and it is wonderful. Not too sweet, a heavy hand with the vinegar and a perfect punch from the savoury spices. A perfect mix for me and my love of all things mustard.
I haven’t quite decided what to do with this sauce yet. I was originally going to toss it with some tofu and veggies and then bake it, but now all I want to do is keep it. Why use that all in one go?
What is your favourite barbecue sauce and what do you like to do with it?
I spoke too soon.
You know when you plan for something, know you won’t be having internet for a while and schedule a post about what life will be like (because you planned for it to be as so)?
Well, let’s just say I planned to have a semi-functioning household. En route to our new home in Toronto, packed to the brim with loaner things (you know, all the necessities: an inflatable bed, sheets, cutlery, pot, frypan, containers and all that food you made for the following week so you wouldn’t actually have to cook..), an hour and half into our trip from Ottawa, my car breaks down. We pulled off to the side of the 401 as my dashboard went bonkers and the engine stopped working.
I pulled out my cell phone. Three days earlier I had finally signed up for service. Although, looking down, my phone told me I had no service. (Bad WIND!) Not good.
Thank goodness Rob’s phone still worked, despite roaming and despite me previously draining the battery surfing the internet.
Frantic phone calls eventually got my brother and pregnant sister-in-law to my side who had the rational idea to tow the car back to Ottawa and they would drive Rob and I along with a few essentials.
We called CAA/AAA with my brother’s charged phone, despite being on hold and having dropped calls, only to find out our membership expired last month (GAH!). Membership offices are closed because it is a holiday.
We contact my Mom, who has a CAA membership and she offered to come down and help out. We knew it would be at least 90 minutes for her to arrive.
We start rearranging luggage on the side of the highway. Non-essentials in the dead car. Essentials in my brother’s. I had to make quick decisions: clothes and underwear keep, inflatable bed keep (but forgot the pump and sheets!) and also realized there was no room for all of the packed food and the container with all the helpful bits (pot, pan, knives, etc).
An OPP police officer pulls over and asks us what was going on. It must be such a sight with all of us scurrying around, including a pregnant woman and someone with crutches. He calls a tow truck to remove us from harm’s way and told us to be careful (turns out someone had died earlier that day after exiting their car).
Not too long afterwards, the tow truck arrives. The car is loaded onto the flatbed truck and brought to the closest safe location as we patiently wait for my mother to arrive.
Eventually, my Mom is able to call CAA for us and she returns with the car back to Ottawa. My brother drops us off in our new empty home. (Kind soul, he actually waited with us for 30 minutes as we waited for our landlord to give us the keys). We forgot we have no microwave.
Once we’re somewhat settled, Rob runs off to the grocery store since we have zero food. And no tokens for the bus to get to work tomorrow. He comes back loaded with groceries. We quickly eat the ready-made salads and hummus.
I ask for his can opener for the beans. (Because salsa+beans=meal). It is in the bag that went back to Ottawa. GAH.
I subsequently call up a friend and we cobble together some kitchen necessities to borrow: cutlery, can opener, bowls and plates. And a pot!
We collapse on the inflatable bed. Exhausted but at the same time basking in the love and support from family and friends. Ready for me to start my first day at work.*
*With my vacation clothes I packed for Africa.
If you are here for the lovely recipe instead of the dramatic life of Janet (I can’t make this up!), this was made while I still lived in Houston. This was our go-to roasted cauliflower recipe. A tomato base with a savoury spice blend. The original recipe was for a raw version, using the dehydrator, but we have been using tomato paste and the oven since it is both delicious and simple. A great side with lots of flavour.
Perhaps in a week or so I will be back to normal. Have you ever felt like the universe was pushing against you?