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.
Howdy! I don’t have much to say today… other than to highly suggest making this soup. Bonus points if you make it and you don’t have snow outside. It will still taste delicious.
The coconut-infused broth is silky smooth with spicy hints of sriracha and ginger, balanced by the lime juice and cilantro and packed with good-for-you veggies like sweet potato and cabbage. Oh, and there are red lentils in there to make this a complete meal. The cabbage was fun because they were inadvertently like noodles with their long strands.
Curious here, guys: Do you listen to podcasts?
I ask because I couldn’t fathom any time to actually have the time to listen to anything with pure intent. I don’t drive, and even if I did, I would be focusing on the road. I certainly don’t listen to anything when cycling (and definitely not cycling right now). And at work, well, I work, and pretty happy I can play any music I want in my office.
But this weekend, I figured out the perfect time to listen to podcasts: when you are sick.
Sick in bed, possibly from influenza, or whatever virus/bacteria/etc has me bedridden, with itchy eyes that I don’t even want to open and pretty darn sleepy from the sleepless nights and possibly the nyquil side effects.
This is how I listened to the much hyped Serial podcast season one in one day. Somehow I lost my weekend.. but I gained a podcast.
Rob was great trying to keep me full of tea and soup (making my favourite Lemon Ginger Miso Soup with some added parsnips which he associates with healing soups) and eventually the flu subsided. But guys, it was a doozy. Tis a shame the vaccine didn’t work this year. I get the vaccine every year but it reminded exactly what I was trying to avoid each and every year.
If you listen to podcasts, which do you like? Did you like Serial, too?
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
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:
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?
One of my more popular salads is my spin on Whole Foods’ Detox Salad. I used lime and cilantro to complement the riced vegetables. I named mine “Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Lime and Cilantro” because I cringe when I hear the name “Detox Salad”.
In general, I always assumed that the enzyme myth was in fact, just a myth….. until I saw this video. (That long pause is Dr Gregor’s hallmark, at least in my mind).
In this other video, De Gregor highlights the presence of sulforaphane in broccoli which enhances liver enzymes, as the most potent natural phase 2 enzyme-inducer. However, since sulforaphane is only created when two components interact, until you crush the raw cells (ie, with chewing or chopping), you miss out on sulforaphane. He later mentions that this needs to be done prior to cooking broccoli. Yes, the “enzyme myth” is true. Cooking is not as good for the broccoli’s sulforaphane levels.
But who likes raw broccoli?
To get the best of both worlds, a fun solution would be to chop your broccoli, wait a bit for the enzymes to work and then cook it.
And yes, this was my round-about introduction to this lemon-cilantro chickpea salad with almost riced broccoli, which I actually steamed for a gentler taste. Although, you are completely free to try this with raw broccoli rice, too. The lemon juice would make it tender, too, with time.
Poll time. Raw or cooked broccoli: which do you prefer? :)
You know Rob is a keeper when he doesn’t kill you when it is time to pack. And a) you have essentially doubled your cookbook collection while in Houston (although I limited myself to 10 books for my move) and Rob is now packing your heavy books; b) while you should be packing, instead you are cooking the last of the bits in the refrigerator, so I am still net loss worth for packing. And then there’s c) please don’t pack my cookbooks I still want to review! Eventually I had to give in…. and help pack. And thankful that most books I receive to review come in electronic form.
Especially after making my own e-cookbook, I have grown to appreciate digital books. They have their pros and cons. They are easier to search, but not as fun to read. I miss the ability to curl the pages and find new random recipes. Although they are definitely easier to move. They also allow me to write posts in the airport.
Afro Vegan is Terry Bryant’s new cookbook. A lover of good food, he has managed to fuse soul comfort food with gourmet twists. His muses vary from Caribbean soul cuisine, Southern US down home cooking and African menus. Pecan cornbread with dukkah? Sweet plantain and Fresh Corn Cakes? Peanut Pumpkin Fritters? Jamaican Patties Stuffed with Maque Choux? Spinach Peanut Sauce? Trust me, it all sounded good to me, I was sad I haven’t had enough time to explore it.
While a bit more complex than my weeknight meals, there are more simple and more elaborate dishes. Delicious and innovative all-round. I loved, loved, loved my version of his Southern black eyed peas, I shared it before the book was even released to the masses. Now I am sharing another great soup, which I simplified by skipping the dumplings. This black bean stew, inspired by the Brazilian feijoada, is more tomato-heavy than my previous versions, but still nice and hearty and simple enough for an easy meal.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere (except maybe the moon). To be entered, please leave a comment here, any comment. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Recipes from Afro-Vegan shared elsewhere:
I told my friend in Houston that I had reached the height of my vegan eats here. There were no new restaurants I wanted to try. She assured me there were so.many.more to try and convinced me to try a nearby Thai restaurant. Oddly enough, Rob has spotted it earlier that week and was amused by its billboard that announced it was MANGO SEASON!
I was apprehensive but she assured me I would love it. She told me they had vegan ice cream. I was sold.
She did not lie. I loved it. So much so, that I quickly tried to figure out how to recreate the dishes.
This is a spin on Laotian larb. Of note, Rob tells me this is nothing like the original and in fact, if you pronounce the r in larb, that is wrong, too. Make no mistake about its simplicity, this salad wrap was GREAT!
A few fun points: This was the first time I have steamed tofu. I LOVED it. It made it nice and fluffy and once crumbled, it absorbed the flavours of the marinade incredibly well. Lime juice, cilantro, in a salty-hot-sweet background, it was nice, fresh and light. After an overnight soak, it was absolutely perfect and lasted for a few days of lovely leftovers for lunch.
I took inspiration from the restaurant to serve it next to a quarter of an iceberg. Its solid leaves make for excellent wraps, more sturdy than most lettuces and is rather mild on the green scale. Besides, it is always good to rotate your greens. :)
Do you have a favourite green wrap? I thought collards were my favourite but I was rather smitten by the iceberg lettuce. ;)
Rob did some more investigating. He found a program that would figure out if I had any duplicate files irregardless of the name.
WOO! After three days, my program to find duplicate files on your external hard drive has completed. It has found at least 172 GB of duplicate files. We need to clean them up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
His emphasis, not mine.
So apparently, I come with baggage. Electronic baggage.
There used to be a time when I couldn’t fit everything on my hard drive, but once I had 1 Tb on my external hard drive, I haven’t thought much about my space usage.
Rob didn’t appreciate my old school way of culling my photos: copying them into a new folder. Sometimes I had 4-5 copies of the same photo with my disjointed backing up. Now we get to do some culling!
Rob is doing a great job tackling our leftover food stuffs. This was an absolutely, wonderfully delicious pea curry he made with the peas in the freezer and spices from the pantry. I am not saying that just because Rob made it and everything tastes better when someone else cooks for you, but honestly this was gourmet Indian and made me a pea-lover. I love beans but peas are not as high in my “love list” but this, guys, was incredible.
Creamy with a rich-tomato broth with bright green peas, this was a keeper. Sadly, this curry has a really long ingredient list, which seems almost disjointed and muddy, but have faith. This was delicious and completely worth the effort (and definitely Rob’s effort!).
Do you like peas?
PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
Before you start to think this will be a smoked paprika free household, have no fear. I am pretty sure Rob will let me replenish prior to moving back to Canada.
It is a bit of a race, now. Rob has made it his own personal goal to munch through our food stocks…. so, if I wait too long, my food may disappear. Use those roasted red peppers in the pantry! The roasted corn in the freezer! The last of the soy curls! (I actually had planned to use some small flageolet beans I had frozen but could not get them to thaw out of the container fast enough….)
Reminiscent of my Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder, I loved how this one was virtually bursting with vegetables. Coconut milk would make this a thick and luscious soup. This version was inspired by one of my favourite cookbooks this year, Soup’s On!, since it is packed with quick and healthy meals. Mark’s inspiration was New Orleans’ Maque Choux, a Cajun-inspired corn soup.
I loved it. Simply delicious. I worked with what we had lying around and it made a light, summery bowl of vegetable soup.
Do you like soups in the summer as well?
PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
Desserts and salads, that’s just the way we’re rolling here these days.
There is just something so pretty about colourful vegetables, I had to share this fun twist on salad. Vegetable noodles, either created with a spiralizer, a shredder, or careful knife skills, can totally change your view on salad.
Rob cheers every time we finish something. I actually apologized when I finished the balsamic vinegar but Rob gave me a high five. I am a bit antsy about the lack of smoked paprika in the house, too, but pretty confident we’ll replenish it before we return to Canada (because: PENZEY’S!).
The tahini may be dwindling but I have lots of sesame seeds. I haven’t resorted to making my own homemade tahini yet, but it could be fun to try. Until then, my sesame seeds are usually garnishes.
This salad dressing is a fun twist on a creamy sauce, since it is made with tahini with accents from the rice vinegar, mustard and lemon pepper seasoning. As I said, the salad was fun to create, too: spiralized zucchini is tossed with shredded carrots, thinly sliced red cabbage and instead of edamame (which would be good, too), I added sweet sugar snap peas. A bit different but fun for a change. And nice when you do not feel like cooking.
Note: I am pleading fifth amendment about the coconut flour. Some things were just meant to return to Canada. ;)
PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest, Souper Sundays, Extra Veg and Four Seasons Food.
We reached critical mass last weekend.
I am not joking.
We ran out of room in the refrigerator.
Who knew greens could take up so much space?
I loaded up at our favourite market. $7 got us heaps of produce along with our $5 case of mangoes. The mangoes and bananas didn’t go into the fridge, but it was hard enough to get my bag of 9 leeks ($1!) and 3 heads of Boston lettuce ($1!) in there.
But then, I went to the potluck. How could I not support buying some freshly picked organic kale grown by school children from a nearby elementary school? And that is how I also ended up with a good 3-4 bunches worth of kale and could barely close my fridge.
Thank goodness Rob hasn’t strangled me just yet.
With prices so low, we don’t feel as guilty if I don’t eat through everything. But I try!!
Instead of tackling all the leeks and my new produce, I decided to dig through my vegetable bins to find the older vegetables. Finish off the snap peas, carrots and bell peppers, and the last of the scraggly cilantro and scallions. For protein, I quick-thawed some edamame.
This combination reminded me of my vegetable buddha salad bowl but since we’re low on miso, I went with a dressing more reminiscent of my (other) raw Asian kale salad with edamame. With so many colourful vegetables and an Asian dressing, how could you go wrong?
Please share with me your favourite kale and leek recipes! Also, for fresh chickpeas since I scored those too! :)
PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest and this week’s Souper Sundays.
I have another great cookbook to share with you.
Quick, healthy, vegan meals. What’s not to like?
She promises simple, delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Provided you have cooked brown rice (which takes 45 minutes to cook), she’s right! Delicious vegan cuisine need not be elaborate nor time consuming.
Take this exotic-sounding vegetable bowl: Manchurian chickpea bowl.
Manchurian cuisine is a subtype of Chinese cooking that heralds from the North-East region of China. While I am not sure how authentic it is, Gobi Manchurian may be a well-known dish. A spicy tomato sauce infused with ginger and garlic typically smother deep-fried cauliflower. In this inspired dish, cauliflower (roasted, not fried, in my case) is joined by potatoes, peas and chickpeas. I was worried the chickpeas would seem out-of-place, but they were actually very good. It seems more Indo-Chinese (or Hakka-inspired) rather than Manchurian. In any case, I can whole heartedly recommend it. Delicious. Even without choice leftovers (hello leftover roasted cauliflower), this could be pulled together within a half-hour.
I have been slowly cooking my way through the cookbook and again, had the same difficult: which recipe to share. My full reviews can be seen here, but I also highly recommend the uncanningly simple “Roasted brussels sprouts and chickpeas” which reminds me of my Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale. The cookbook includes many one-dish meals including soups/stews. bowls, stir-fries, pasta, sandwiches, pantry-friendly, oven-cooked meals and even quickie desserts. I appreciate that most meals are based on whole foods and not vegan substitutes (mostly. dessert section exempted). Robin does supply recipes for some of the convenience foods including a cashew-based vegan cream cheese and tofu-based vegan mayonnaise. Having these staples pre-made expedite getting dinner to the table. Of note, Robin calls for ketchup a few times (like in this recipe), although I substituted my own convenience food: mild Turkish red pepper paste. Booyah!
Recipes from More Quick Fix Vegan shared elsewhere:
Chipotle-Sweet Potato Bisque
Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits
Three-Bean Pantry Chili
Sweet Potato Barbecue Bowls
Banh Mi Inspired Noodles
Banh Mi Bowls
Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Mango Fried Rice Pudding
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark
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 quickest and/or easiest vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on May 16, 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.
PPS. Do you like my purple slippers in the last photo? They were so colourful I had to keep them in. Can you tell I just blindly lift my camera to take shots from overhead? Sometimes I am way off-target. ;)
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?