Long time no write!
My longest blog hiatus is definitely worthy of a wedding and honeymoon. I know a few were interested in photos and here are a few teasers from our fabulous photographer, Gabe McClintock.
After a partial whirlwind through Honduras and Guatemala following our wedding, we returned to Toronto earlier this week. I was hoping to bring a bit of spring and summer back with me, but Toronto is still fairly cold with (freezing) rain this week. Channeling my continuance of all things avocado (albeit of the Mexican variety), I could not resist them at the grocer. I still managed to stock up with lots of vegetables and then threw together this quick and easy salad.
Consider it a chunky avocado dressing, or an avocado scramble salad, the flavours are bright and flexible. The different veggies conferred different textures while enveloped by the creamy lime avocado mash with a hint of cheeziness from the nooch. The black beans help to make this a filling complete meal salad. It was excellent and I recommend eating it at once as the leftovers were not as vibrant. Alternatively, sprinkle with a touch more lime juice when reserving. While not necessary, I added the salad on top of leafy greens. I have a bad habit of being leafy greens and then not eating them. Here’s to eating more greens. And warmer weather.
What are you wishing for lately?
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.
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. :)
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.
Woosh! Can you see the steam? One perk of the black background, although it also picks up the dust, too! HA!
Hope you are keeping yourself warm during this recent freeze. It was -30C/-22F overnight with wind chill. It is times like this that you can remind yourself: only a few short months until our wedding/honeymoon in the Caribbean. And then you remind yourself: WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO DO???? Thankfully my Mom keeps reminding me of all things I don’t know: making the veil, finding something borrowed, etc. While Rob and I take care of the very hard decisions: garifuna dancers vs firedancer (we chose both!!) and where to go for photos (beach vs jungle… vs where are cliffs.. we want cliffs).
In any case, here is another bowl of a warm, vibrant soup/stew. Jamaican jerk inspired with allspice and thyme (and also cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) with colourful red bell peppers, yellow plantains and chickpeas with a sprinkle of green onions swimming in a fragrant coconut broth. This is not a hot and spicy soup (like most things jerk), so add as much heat as you like.
Are you already longing for the summer?
I told you it was a good time for vegan cookbooks. Here is the latest cute offering, The Lusty Vegan. It is a cookbook focusing on relationships. Being vegan in a relationship can be a little tricky at times and there are approachable tips and delicious recipes to satisfy the most un-vegan. Trust me, there is almost nothing as sexy than a man that can cook and these recipes span the gamut of simple to complex, such that you might actually want to work together in the kitchen.
Heart of Palm Lobster Rolls, anyone? Tempeh Fries with Dill Avocado Dip? Miso-Vermouth Braised Drunken Bok Choy? Habanero Jackfruit Fajitas? Cherry Cobbler with Cocoa Nibs? These recipes are unique but I will admit, mostly on the elaborate side. They are matched by the stage of the relationship – trying to impress your partner, trying to impress the parents, classic vegan dishes and even desserts if you ever break up.
They make me want to try new dishes but let’s be honest, right now I try to keep things stress-free in the kitchen and I think that helps both Rob and I. Of course, it is natural to want to impress your partner, but it isn’t sustainable. Does that mean we’ve become a boring couple? I certainly hope not. Life just doesn’t always revolve around food. :)
So now, a little about these tostadas. Instead of pinto beans, mung beans substitute in the refried beans. I was curious to try them in something new, although they were a bit mealy for my liking. Although after I covered it with toppings, I barely noticed. I added cooked quinoa, cabbage and carrots, as an ode to my Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap. Feel free to add whatever you have lurking in your fridge.
Recipes from The Lusty Vegan spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you have found your food preferences have caused difficulties in your relationships. The winner will be selected at random on December 17, 2014. Good luck!
I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair.
Thug Kitchen is probably the most controversial vegan cookbook. Penned by the authors of the similarly named blog, I never followed it because I did not find their language amusing. OK, sometimes it made me smile and I like how it tries to show how simple and easy homemade food can be, and yes, it is all vegan. I will admit that I was curious about their cookbook, but instead of tracking it down, I hunted for online recipes. This was the first I made and really liked it.
I am no stranger to pumpkin chili (previous version here). I don’t know why but pumpkin puree works seamlessly in chili to create a silky broth. Both version were great but I found this one lighter in flavour since it used canned tomatoes instead of tomato paste and this one had the perfect amount of heat. Furthermore, this one was a bean-centric chili and I cooked up some of Rancho Gordo’s bayo chocolate beans. I was really enticed to use them with a name like that! Turns out it is called chocolate based on their colour, not their flavour. When Rob bought them, he was told they had the consistency of fudge. Not so true, but they have a lovely firmness that lended well to this chili. Small red kidney beans would also work well here.
While I made the chili, Rob made the arepas. What a wonderful weekend meal. Enjoy!
PS. If you are interested in being way more amused with a recipe than when I write them, definitely check out the original version here. Possibly the funniest disclaimer ever: If you try to make this chili with pumpkin pie filling, don’t complain about how f*cked up it tastes. You did that dumb sh*t yourself.
See below for the giveaway but I am super excited to tell you about Camilla’s latest cookbook, The Complete Coconut Cookbook. Do not let the title mislead you. Yes, this is a cookbook which includes recipes for all things coconut – coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut sugar, dried coconut and coconut flour. However, it is also entirely plant-based vegan, gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free. Because there are easy substitutes for the oil and sugar, this is a rather comprehensive vegan cookbook.
The recipes span breakfast (Banana Flapjacks, Coconut Yogurt), Beverages (Mango Carrot Coconut Smoothie, Coconut Nog), Breads and Muffins (Coconut Flax Tortillas, Vanilla Coconut Baked Doughnuts), Salads (Coconut Waldorf Salad, Shredded Beet, Coconut and Sesame Salad), Soups/Stews/Chilis (Cantaloupe Coconut Soup with Basil Syrup, Persian Coconut Soup with Split Peas, Chickpeas and Herbs), Main Dishes (Coconut Squash Pizza, Coconut Za’atar Kale, Tempeh and “Rice”), Side Dishes (Quick Sauteed Kale, Coconut Cauliflower Puree), Cookies/Cakes (Chocolate Avocado Cookies, No-Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies) and Pies/Puddings/Other Desserts (Coconut Cream Pie, Caribbean Sweet Potato Pie).
Woah, that is only a portion of the 200 recipes.
Although I am not entirely sure why someone would make a cookbook that was vegan, GF and nut-free, it certainly required Camilla to be quite innovative in the kitchen. For her baking recipes, a combination of coconut flour, psyllium, chickpea flour and potato starch are used. I tried the apple coconut cookies, although they tasted more like muffins but were delicious (soft and moist). I was hoping the chocolate cherry biscotti might be a bit more crispy, although unfortunately it softened in my air-tight container overnight. I see these as interesting starting points for those who are seeking non-traditional baked goods.
However, as I showcased here, there are plenty of delicious savoury options, too. I loved, loved, loved the cabbage soup with cilantro.
This was also a fun spin on a vegetable salad: cauliflower is riced and tossed with Moroccan spices, dates and cilantro. The savoury spices (cumin and cardamom – although I think cinnamon would have been better) worked well with the sweet dates. My only complaint was that I picked a big head of cauliflower, so I needed more dressing. No fault of the author, as I guess there are truly puny cauliflowers out there.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me your favourite way to eat coconut. The winner will be selected at random on November 23, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes spotted elsewhere:
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?
Last year, I was all over the strawberry cucumber smoothie. I drank it for weeks straight. Banana-less, the strawberries provided enough sweetness and contrasted against the cooling cucumber.
This year, I went more simple: frozen watermelon and mint. Lime juice is optional, mainly because I think it would be fabulous, but right now our limes are very sad so I didn’t get very much juice at all.
By using watermelon that has been pre-frozen, this is a quick and cooling drink. The hint of mint is a nice contrast without overpowering the drink.
Depending on the sweetness of your watermelon (and your tastes), will depends how much sweetener you would like to add.
What are your favourite summer drinks?
PS. Another nice version is this pineapple-mint frothy!
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. ;)
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.
We have been all over the coconut rice lately. With mango season comes Mango Sticky Rice. Twice, so far, within the past few weeks. Rob’s latest batch was shared with a friend who proclaimed it the best ever. She had been pining over Mango Sticky Rice since her childhood and was always disappointed with resto versions. Not ours. It quenched her thirst. We split our case of mangos (20/$5!) and she subsequently made her own. Rob’s latest version substituted agave for the sugar and he used the last of our full-fat coconut milk.
While Mango Sticky Rice is good for dessert (or breakfast, in my mind), it probably would not do dinner justice. Try this coconut-infused Jamaican rice and pea dish instead.
Rice and peas is a classic side dish from Jamaica. “Peas” may be a bit misleading because it refers to a type of pigeon pea, which is similar to cowpeas that includes Southern favourites such as purple hull peas, lady cream peas, black eyed peas and crowder peas. If you are lucky enough to snag fresh peas, you will figure out that they in fact, do taste like peas. Kidney beans are often substituted in this dish, as well.
In any case, with whichever bean you choose, I do encourage you to try this dish. It is a very simple one-pot dish wherein everything cooks together and the nuances of the allspice, thyme, lime and ginger really bring out a fun flavour profile. Use full-fat coconut milk for a decadent creamy base, but the reduced fat was great too (which is what is pictured here).
Have you tried coconut rice? I am thinking that adding black beans to our Mango Sticky Rice might be a marvelous dinner, no? Who’s in to try it? :)
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?