Good things to eat

Archive for the ‘Vegan’ Category

What do you think of Wheat Grass?

Firstly, I need to apologise for being so absent.

The truth of the matter is I’ve been quite caught up in getting used to my new life.

Earlier this Summer The Chef was offered one of those “too good to pass up” kind of jobs and so with only a few weeks notice, we packed up our whole lives and left our beautiful Victoria, British Columbia and moved to Edmonton, Alberta.

Not that there is anything particularly wrong with that, in fact, Edmonton is a lovely city and I hope to share some of it with you when I get back on a writing track, it’s just that we went from the warmest in Winter Canadian city, to arguably one of the coldest in Winter Canadian cities, which admittedly, I’m not doing too well with.

Anyone who knew me back when I lived in “Winter cities” knew just how miserable I was and how escape from Winter was the number one reason I moved to Victoria some ten years ago.

You see, I went from THIS

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And This

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To THIS

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And This

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So what to do in Winter in Edmonton?

Well……grow some Wheat Grass of course!

Probably like you, I’ve read SO much stuff about just how wonderful wheat grass juice is for you!  92 different minerals alone and filled with chlorophyll.  A wonder food touted with discouraging and perhaps even curing all kinds of diseases and aliments.  But what does it really taste like?

I can’t tell you how many times I have bought a flat of it at the health food or grocery store and brought it home with the intension of juicing it!  But instead I just let it over grow and then watch it turn brown and dies and make me feel sad.  And it isn’t cheap either which is an added annoyance.

So I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  I thought I’d try to grow my own!  Chances are if I grow it myself, I’ll be more inclined to use it?  And at worst, if I don’t, I can just compost it and recycle the dirt and try again.

And, it’s something fun to do in Winter!

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Growing it is surprisingly easy.

You will need:

  • something to grow it in ( I’ve been using left over lettuce boxes)
  • some quality dirt ( preferably organic cause you are growing food)
  • some “wheat berries” – I got them in the bulk section of the grocery store or Bulk Barn

Prepare your dirt in your box or whatever you are using.  Then soak about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup ( depending on how big your box is) of wheat berries in water for about six hours or overnight.  Drain off the water and sprinkle speeds evenly over the dirt and lightly cover them with more dirt.

Keep the dirt moist but not wet.

In a couple of days you will see the grass sprouting up!  Easy as that.

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Let the grass blades get to about 3 -4 inches tall before you use them.

Obviously by the picture here, you’ll see I let them go just a little too long but they were still good.

I then went online and watched a bunch of videos of various Hippies juicing their wheat grass to try to get an idea of just how much I need to actually get a yield of any kind.

There are a lot of variables there, like what kind of juicer or blender or whatever.

Also, some people seemed to drink it straight in shots, while others added water or added the juice to other juices or smoothies………

I think the real point is to try it first….see what you think.

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So when you are ready, hack off some of the grass.  Even though it is in my kitchen, I still washed it, cause it can still be dusty or whatever.

Then I shoved it in the juicer.  As the pulp squished out, I put it back through the juicer a couple of times because I saw one of the hippies doing that.  It still seemed to squeeze out more juice, so I guess that’s good.

I yielded a couple of ounces.  But honestly…..that is about all you need for a shot.

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So?  How did it taste?

Well……..the smell is a bit much.  Literally smells like squished grass.  Don’t know if you ever ate any grass as a kid, cause you saw your dog doing it?  Well….it’s all a similar experience.

I gulped it down in one shot. As it went across my tongue it was very intense and so I was expecting a horrible aftertaste, but surprisingly, it wasn’t offensive at ALL.  In fact, it was almost a bit sweet!  I know!  Who would have thought??

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Many have reported extreme reactions to it.  Like having to run to the bathroom because something was going to happen from one end or the other.  I experienced neither of these.  In fact, it made me feel quite invigorated, like I had just done something terribly good for myself!  Power of suggestion?  Perhaps, but you might want to give it a try for yourself…..to at least to be able to say you’ve done it.

If you don’t want to go to all of the trouble of growing it and juicing it……..go to your local juice bar and give it a try……especially in Winter…..can’t hurt!!

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A Warm Lunch at the Office

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I am NO fan of microwaves and have not (knowingly, although I realize it must happen to me some places!) eaten microwaved food in at least 10 plus years!

But when the weather starts to turn this can pose a problem for a girl who is looking for a little warmth at lunch time at the office and there is no way to heat anything up except the you know what!

So imagine my delight when I saw THIS idea!!

Please forgive me, I do like to give credit where credit is due but I do subscribe to a lot of food blogs and can’t always remember where I see what I see and regrettably I couldn’t find this again when I went back to look for the instructions.  So thank you idea giver.

So let’s call them Homemade Noodle Pots.

We’ve all had them.  Some are better than others.  But even the “organic” “healthy” versions are still pretty much weird dried stuff in a cup.

You know what I’m talking about.  Those instant lunch things that come in a cardboard, or worse, cup.  You peel back the lid, pour boiling water over it, cover it up again, let sit for a bit and voila.  A cup full of some kind of warm, usually desperately salty, noodle type stuff.

And they aren’t even that cheap, especially the higher end ones!

So why not just make your own DIY noodle pots?

You can put just about anything you’d like but best of all, you know exactly what’s in them!

And what’s great, on a Sunday afternoon, you can make up all of your ingredients, pack up your jars and have one for every day of the following week!  Imagine?  A whole week of not having to worry about what to bring for lunch??  Fantastic!

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Here is what you will need:

Heat safe jars, like Mason Jars 500 ml size x days of your week

Flavour base: I tried different combos for each day to change it up a little.

1 to 3 teaspoons of organic or quality soup stock base, miso paste or curry paste

More Flavour:

1 to 3 teaspoons of:  coconut milk, sesame oil, hot sauce or Sriracha, tamari or Bragg sauce etc

 

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Fillers:

Chicken, tofu, frozen vegetables, shredded cabbage, cooked lentils or beans, thinly sliced mushroom, kimchi, hardy greens, boiled egg, or whatever else you might find in the fridge!

Noodles:

Cooked Soba noodles, spaghetti, rice noodles, ramen.   I haven’t tried this yet, but maybe dried couscous?

Toppings:

Green onion, Cilantro, shredded carrot, a slice of lemon?

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Start with the flavour bases on the bottom of the jar, spread them around so they will dissolve evenly.

Then add in your filler items.

Then the noodles and pack it down nicely.

Then finally what ever fresh toppers you might be using. ( if you want these really fresh, perhaps store separately and top the noodles just before eating)

Put the lids on tight and refrigerate!

Each morning, grab one to go!

 

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When it’s time to eat, simply add some boiling water and replace the lid.

Let sit for a few minutes to let everything warm up.  Then maybe give the jar a little shake or a twirl before you open it or give them a good stir with your chopsticks to let the flavours mingle.

 

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You can enjoy it right out of the jar or dump it into an awaiting bowl and eat right away while it is warm.

 

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And there you have a nice warm, weird stuff free, bowl of niceness to get you through your afternoon!

 

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Can any ol body make Kimchi?

I’ll admit, the thought of it was very intimidating.

I was picturing something very exotic, or spending all day in the kitchen over large vats of something or other.  Requiring group of friends working feverishly to complete it in one day.

Or the need for hard to find equipment or ingredients.

Trouble was, I guess I didn’t really even know what Kimchi was.

What it comes down to is pretty much Korean style sauerkraut.

Something people have been making for years with little more than a bucket or crock, some salt and a big rock!

So why was I getting myself in a tizzy over it?  Why not just give it a try? Cabbage is pretty cheap, if it doesn’t work out…..oh well.

I’m almost embarrassed at just how easy it really is!

Then again, fermenting of food has been around a LONG time.  That’s how many cultures have survived by being able to preserve the bounty of the Summer for the long Winter ahead.

And then don’t even get me started with just how very good for you it is!  Talk about probiotic!!  This stuff is where it’s at!!

So not even knowing where to start, I did what any smart person would do, I looked up some recipes on the internet!   Admittedly, there were several and true, some did sound a little exotic and involved but I managed to find one that made sense.

Many of the recipes also called for “fish sauce” or “shrimp paste”, two things I actively avoid due to my shell-fish allergy but found no trouble working around that.

There were many many recipes, but I finally decided on this one:  Homemade Vegan Kimchi

I did not have, nor had the time to look for, the Kochukaru ( Korean chili powder) so I improvised on that.

I also didn’t make as huge of a batch as this recipe appears to make, in case it was disgusting and then I would have went to all the trouble and then would have to toss it!!

Here is what I used:

  • 1/2 large napa cabbage
  • 1/2 (maybe less) daikon radish
  • 1/2 red onion
  • Salt  ( Kosher or sea)

For paste:

  • 4 green onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 birdseye Thai chilis ( small red ones)
  • 1 tbsp smokie paprika
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar

I peeled the leaves off the cabbage one at a time until I had taken off about half of them.  Use your judgement depending on how big your cabbage is.   After washing them, chop them into about 2 inch chunks,

I used only 1/2 of the daikon because it was quite large.   Peel it and then cut it into strips.  Smaller than French fries but bigger than match sticks.

Slice the red onion into full circle rounds about 1/4 inch thick.

Place all of these ingredients in a large bowl and then sprinkle generously with salt and toss to make sure everything is getting some salt on it.

 

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Then let it sit for a few hours until it gets quite whilty and releases some liquid.

 

When the cabbage mixture is ready to go, it is time to make the paste.

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Add all of the other ingredients ( except the green part of the green onions, just chop and mix those in   with the cabbage, but do it now, not during the wilting part) to the food processor and combine till it makes a nice paste.  ( Add a bit of the cabbage water if it is too thick)

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Then add the paste to the wilted cabbage and toss well until everything is nicely coated.

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Then carefully shove it all into a super clean Mason jar ( or more).  The other recipe suggests poking it down with a chop stick.  Really pack it in there, making sure there aren’t any air pockets.  And then pour in any remaining liquid from the bowl that will fit.

Seal it up tight and let it sit on the counter for 24 hours, then into the fridge for at least a week before testing it!

 

ONE WEEK LATER:

Time to check out the magic!!

A huge word of caution here that no one seems to mention in any of the recipes I saw…….

Kimchi is ALIVE!!  Fermenting is done by live ( but very friendly) bacteria and so after they have done their work on your cabbage, they are eager to show you!!

So when you open your new Kimchi for the first time, DO IT OVER THE SINK!  It is almost like a bottle of soda that has been shook! And it WILL spew everywhere!!

I had NO idea!!

Once that nonsense was over and I safely got the lid off…….I gave it a sniff.  It had a strong odor and it wasn’t particularly appealing, but the time of truth had come.  Time to taste it.

 

I was fully ready to dislike it, but instead I was surprised, amazed and delighted by the taste of something that I quite honestly can’t say as I have tasted before!   I was expecting something tangy, vinegary or pickley.   But it was none of these.

Instead, it was the most delightful mixture of salty, sour and a little bit spicy.

I was absolutely delighted with my experiment!

Since then, I have become obsessed with my Kimchi!!  As the lady in the commercial says “I put that @#%$@* on EVERYTHING!”

It is particularly wonderful for livening up any old boring sandwich!!  Fabulous as a burger topping, adds zing to any rice bowl type dish.  Add it to salads or as a condiment with eggs or omelets.  I could go on and on and keep trying it with everything!

Just DON’T heat it!  It is a live food, heating it will destroy all of its goodness!!

So don’t be afraid, give it a try yourself.

I would be very interested to hear just you make out!

 

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Dodgy Beet

It’s hard to say if there is actually anything wrong with this beet.

We have become so accustomed to “cute” vegetables.   “Baby Greens” and mini this and mini that.

The truth is, these quick grown, quickly harvested vegetables don’t have nearly the same amount of nutrients as their older, possibly tougher, longer grown counter parts.

I mean it would it makes sense.  The longer you grow, the more good stuff you have in you.

So I was VERY surprised when someone gave me this beet!

A beet the size of a rutabega!  I’ve never seen such a thing!

But now I’ve been so conditioned by the “small stuff” that I am frightened of the big beet!

Was it grown under a power line?  Near a nuclear reactor?  What’s the deal with it?

Perhaps it just hid from the picking machine on a few harvests?

I don’t know.

I mean you could do great things with such a big beet.   Like slice it super thin and make raw beet ravioli out of it.

Or the biggest pot of borscht?

I don’t know.  I’m afraid of it.

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Rice Crackers

How does that saying go?  “Something or other is the mother of invention”?

Well with me, it is “expensive”.  I often come up with some of my best creations after trips to the health food store.  I walk the isles offended that they want to charge WHAT for THAT??

So then I get mad and come home and make my own version.

Today it is rice crackers.  Now with everyone on the gluten-free band wagon, rice crackers are abundant and varied and increasingly expensive.

So I googled “how to make rice crackers” and there were a few variations, but this is what I ended up doing and it was so simple.

You will need:

  • 1 cup cooked rice ( I used brown basmati)
  • 1 cooked potato or yam ( see note)

If you like you could just chop and boil the potato or yam, but I decided to roast the yam with a small diced onion like I do in my side dish ROASTED YAM to add a whole new depth of flavour to the cracker.

Then add rice and yams to the food processor.   Whiz them up until coarsely blended.

Then it is up to you what you might want to jazz them up with.  I added:

  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • splash of olive oil

Whiz that up in the food processor till well blended.

Then dump the mixture out onto a piece of parchment paper that is directly on the counter or other flat surface.  Cover with another piece of parchment paper and with a rolling pin, roll the dough out nice and thin.

You may need to do this in two half batches.  With my first attempt it kept squishing out of the sides of the paper because there was too much in there.  You don’t want that.

Then when you have your dough rolled out to a nice size, remove top parchment and then carefully slip the bottom parchment with dough on top on to an awaiting baking sheet.

Use a knife to gently score shapes into the dough so that the crackers come apart easily when baked.

Then put into a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until they are crisp but not browned.

Can it get easier than that??  And for a FRACTION of the price AND they are gluten-free!

BAM!

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And they turned out delicious, probably my best attempt at home-made crackers yet!

World Vegan Month

If you’ve been following along, you might remember that earlier in the year I did a VEGAN CHALLENGE where I adopted the Vegan diet for one month.

I just did it to see IF I could do it and to see if it made me feel different or not.

Well it certainly did.   CLICK HERE if you’d like to read how it turned out.  And read some back posts for some of the Vegan recipes I tried along the way.

So when I found out that it is WORLD VEGAN MONTH, I just wanted to honour all those Vegans for their hard work and dedication!   Good on ya!

And Happy World Vegan month!

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Why read food blogs anyway?

Let’s face it, there are thousands of blogs out there now, pretty much about anything anyone can come up with.

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I am always seeing ads or getting emails about ways to “get more traffic to your blog” and some of them have some good ideas but at the end of the day, I just like writing them and sharing stuff I like or have tried or an idea I got some where.  So when other people actually read what I have to say, I am very honoured that they have taken the time out of their day to do so.

And what’s better, is if I can give them some little bit of information that they can enjoy, or that sparks an idea for them to use in their lives, then my work is done.

That’s why I have so many blogs that I have signed up for and read on a regular basis.  Because the best part is, it gives you ideas to do your own thing.

I will see recipes and either think about how I might do it differently, or I might actually intend to follow the recipe verbatim, only to find that I am missing one or more ingredient and then have to improvise and then it can inadvertently become a whole new dish.

But especially with daily cooking and eating, which most of us have to spend a lot of time doing, it is hard to come up with new things.  Or worse, even remember stuff that you like to make!

Sometimes I will look back over the archives of my blog and honestly be surprised by dishes I have made but forgot about and so am happy to make again.

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So the other day I was reading a few blogs and got a hankering for something I wanted to make.

First,I got this idea from my blog friend at EMILY BITES.   I didn’t have all the ingredients that she called for so I had to wing it from what I did have.  But that’s part of the fun, putting your own twist on new ideas.

Click HERE for the original recipe.  She called it “Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken”

I still have the same “slow cooker” that I grew up with that my mother gave me one day years ago because they didn’t use it anymore.   Still works just fine and will probably work for years to come, cause it only gets used a few times a year, so why shouldn’t it.

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So into the slow cooker went:

  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 inch chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup, maple syrup or brown sugar ( whatever sweetener works for you)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy or Bragg sauce
  • 2 heaping tbsps of peanut butter ( I use natural, the other ones will make the dish sweeter and saltier)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice ( vegetable stock would work too)

Stir all that up at the bottom of the cooker till it is nice and saucy.

Then add boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I used four, so if making more than that, just up all of the other ingredients. Basically the rule of thumb is to have enough sauce to cover the chicken, however much it is.

Turn the cooker on high and leave it for a few hours!   Nice!

After a few hours of cooking, poke one of the chicken breasts with a fork, if it falls apart easily, it’s ready!

So then get in there with two forks and pull them all apart till everything is shredded and then stir back into the sauce.  It is actually easier to pull out each breast onto a cutting board and shred it up and then add it back in,, but I was too lazy so I just fought with it still in the cooker!

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But then, what to serve it with?

Well, I saw another blog with an idea for some kind of pancake or patty type thing that I thought might work.   When I went back to see where I had found the idea, I couldn’t find it again, a hazard of reading too many blogs.

So as usual I just “winged it” with what I had.  The one I read had grated zucchini and corn, both things I didn’t happen to have, but no fear, I found other stuff.

In a large mixing bowl, mix:

  • 1 grated carrot or small zucchini
  • half a large red or yellow bell pepper in small cubes
  • 1 cup chopped cooked potato ( left over mash would do too)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Mix all that together then add:

  • 1 cup milk ( of your choice)
  • 1 cup flour ( also of your choice)

Stir in to the vegetables to make a nice gloopy batter.  You might have to add a little more or less of the milk and flour till you get the right consistency.  It shouldn’t be too runny.

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Then when you are ready, heat a skillet to fairly hot, and add a little oil of your choice then ladle out about a 1/2 cup worth of batter into the pan, until you can get as many as fits.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side.   Repeat.

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Keep the cooked cakes warm in the oven until you are ready to eat them.

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Lay a cake or two on the plate and then top with your pulled spicy chicken. There you have a delicious super easy meal!!

And if the truth be known, I had it again for lunch the next day and it tasted even BETTER after having sat together awhile!  Yum-eee.

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Vegan note:

You could easily substitute the chicken for tofu in that recipe.  Only I would cook only the sauce for a while till it was all cooked down and THEN add cubes of tofu only about a half hour before eating so it doesn’t get all mushed.

And then for the patties, just omit the egg and use a non dairy milk and you are still in business!

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