Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Vegetables’

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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Zucchini Fritters

Here is a surprisingly tasty snack for you.

Over the last few weeks there seems to have been so many “Snack Worthy” things on TV.  All of the award shows and of course the Super Bowl…….

So I was looking for something a little more interesting to serve than all the usual suspects.

I happened to find something similar to this on a Vegan website – no need to tell anyone they were Vegan and spoil the decadent impression that they made!

In the original recipe they were served with a cashew cream, so they were truly Vegan.

I served them with sour cream laced with Chipolte Tabasco sauce, which is still a Vegetarian item!

Start by grating:

  • 3 medium zucchini

Put the grated zucchini into a clean tea towel and squeeze it over the sink as hard as you can to get as much of the liquid out as possible!

Then add to a mixing bowl with:

  • 1 medium grated carrot
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion

Meanwhile grind in a coffee grinder or mini food processor:

  • 1 Tbsp flax seeds

And then add that to:

  • 3 Tbsp water

And let those sit together for about 5 – 10 minutes till they form a thick goop.

This is what we are going to use instead of the traditional egg.

However, if you don’t have any flax, or a grinder and don’t care about egg, by all means use egg!

Then toss together the flax with the zucchini, carrot, onion with:

  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Mix these all together till you get a nice thick batter.

Heat a skillet and add enough oil to coat the bottom, but I don’t like too much so they are swimming, but enough that the bottom is covered.  I even brush the oil around with a pastry brush so the pan is well coated.

Then start adding batches of about a 1/4 cup of mixture, as many as comfortably fits, and flatten them down.

Cook until golden and crispy on both sides.   Keep them warm in a low oven till they are all ready.

And then serve immediately!   With the topping of your choice.

These were really good considering there was no egg or real flour and really kept their shape.

 

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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!

World Vegan Month

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!

Corn Chower

I know that I have posted versions of this recipe before, but it is just such a favorite of mine.

Especially this time of year when fresh produce is bountiful and in some parts of the land the days are still sunny and hot.

This “raw” corn chower works for me every time!

Click HERE for the original recipe.

My only additon these days is about 1 tsp of smokie paprika in the soup and then another sprinkle for garnish.

Great for a summer lunch or part of a cooling evening meal.

Enjoy

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My visit to Earthbound Farms

I’m sure I’ve told this story before.

About the time just after I was in nutrition school and found myself visiting family in California and begged my cousin to take a little detour as we headed out to the coast? I wanted so badly to visit Earthbound Farms and had checked the website, but alas, had a very wrong address and ended up at the processing plant and was chased off the property by security!!

I did write them an email and they were very apologetic ( without calling me a dumb ass directly) and invited me to come and visit the REAL Earthbound Farms where the public goes!!

Nestled in the Carmel Valley is a delightful little place.

There is a cafe and a farm stand and then wonderful gardens all around it, that you can explore.

They also do all sorts of talks and seminars right there on the grounds. (see schedule on their website for details)

If you find yourself in Carmel, it is worth the stop and especially cool for kids because there are all sorts of things to see and learn!

 

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At the Market

One of my favorite things about visiting California is getting to go to the markets.

The Saturday Market in Merced, California is SO much more than just a farmer’s market.  Because not only do they have wonderful produce of every kind, but quite honestly pretty much anything you can think of that you might need!

Clothing, housewares, car parts, budgies birds, hair products, I could go on and on, the selection is endless!

But of course my favorite part is all the incredible food.

We love to just go from stand to stand and ask what things are.  I mean I KNOW they are a vegetable or fruit of some kind, but as someone as well-educated in produce as myself, or even the Chef for that matter, they always manage to stump us!

So once we figure out what “family” the thing is from, we are always sure to ask the vendor what THEY like to do with it!  And then we like to take some home and see what we can do with it.

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Vegan Challenge – Complete!

I did it!!

I here by solemnly swear that not one drop of animal product has passed my lips in exactly one month!!!

Was it hard?   Not really.

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PLEASE NOTE:  IF YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THE 50/50 BLOG, THIS POST IS MOSTLY THE SAME

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Luckily I know how to cook,  have a degree in nutrition and have studied a lot about alternative food preparation.  Because you could be a “Vegan” and eat nothing but French Fries and corn puffs, but I don’t think that would really be the best route!

So what do I have to report from this exercise?

  • I lost 10 pounds.   5 in the first week alone, then nothing till the last week when I dropped another 5.
  • My blood pressure which was formerly in the “elevated” range is down to normal
  • During the first two weeks I found that I slept much better, but that seemed to wear off by week 3.

BUT the question is, did these improvements occur because I was eating Vegan?   Or could it have anything to do with the fact that during this same period I:

  • Never set foot in my favorite coffee and breakfast sandwich place?
  • Wasn’t drinking alcohol?
  • Had barely any caffeine?
  • Didn’t eat chocolate, ice cream or any traditional dessert?
  • Didn’t eat in restaurants?

Hard to say.

Do I feel any different?

Well I hate to say it, but I have felt very low on energy.  But again, was that the result of the Vegan experiment, or just because  I am busy and stressed in general?

I was never hungry or starving or anything like that and in fact, other than just a damn good cup of tea with cow milk, I have had no cravings.

I think that for the most part,  the food I ate was more or less delicious with a couple of experimental exceptions, but by no means did I find myself choking down weird fare while longing for animal products.

There were a couple of times that certain dishes may very well have been enhanced by a sprinkle of cheese but…..

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I did resent that going to Starbucks to get a soy latte cost and extra .60 cents just for the soy milk, and in general I felt dirty going there because I equate people who drink soy lattes from Starbucks with………well never mind……..this isn’t meant to be a Starbucks rant.   But it would be nice if “regular” people coffee places like say Tim Hortons, could start offering alternatives.

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So will I be running out to eat a big steak tonight?

No.

Will I ever eat meat again?

There is a good chance.

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I am here by declaring myself a “flexitarian” ( a trendy term I saw on one of the Chef’s lists of new popular food trends).

Quoted as:  Someone who is predominantly Vegan/Vegetarian but who will eat animal products from time to time.

Which I think I could live with quite nicely.

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I think what it comes back to, is the same philosophy that I have tried to follow for the past few years now.

  • Try to eat foods that are as close to their original state as possible.
  • Try to eat the best quality of food that you can find and afford.
  • Try to eat as many vegetables of all colours as you can.
  • Eat for maximum nutrition and pleasure.
  • Don’t over eat.

I also think that it is very important for you to keep trying new foods and new styles of eating until you find a balance of what works for you and what makes YOUR body feel the healthiest, strongest and BEST!   Because everyone is different and reacts very differently to the same food.

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So what’s next for me?   Not sure.

But I KNOW I’m having a cup of tea…….with some cow milk!!

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A great little thing

Here is something I found that can make a Vegan’s ( or anyone really) life just a little easier!

I’m not sure what they are officially called…… a julienne peeler perhaps?

It is a little gadget that looks like a regular peeler, only when you look hard at it, you will see it has all these little teeth instead of the regular blade.

Then you run it along the raw vegetable of your choice and it produces wonderful match stick width , or “juliennes” of stuff.

And they are ready to add to your salad or other decorative dish!

SO much easier than trying to cut them all small and neatly the same……..cause I know that not everyone lives with a CHEF!!

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The Vegan Challenge

I know, I know, we’ve been through this together before, where I decide I am going to eat a certain way to “try it out” and insist on dragging you along with me!

We did the “Raw Food Challenge”  and then I went on a gluten-free kick for a while.   All in the name of trying to find the right eating style for my needs.  I need to be able to walk the walk if I’m gonna talk the talk.

So I have decided to challenge myself to “one month of being a Vegan”.

In general, I don’t think it will be that hard.  We already eat several Vegan or Vegetarian meals a week…..but that’s in a week…..not even necessarily for a whole day.

My biggest challenge will be the lack of cow milk in my morning tea.  I have tried all of the vegan alternatives and I’m sorry but none of them quite cut it.  So I fear I will have to go without the tea, until I get desperate anyway.

There really is more and more research that sustains the idea that eating a plant-based diet WILL improve your health.

Do I think YOU should be a Vegan?   Don’t know.

Do I think you should TRY being a Vegan?  Couldn’t hurt.

Do I think that if there were more Vegans it would benefit our planet.  Definately!

I have long been an advocate of the notion that you need to eat what is best for YOU.  What makes YOU feel your best.  Because everyone is different and has different constitutions.  But I DO think that you need to keep trying until you find it.

You also need to educate yourself on WHY you are choosing to do something, not just do it willy nilly because it seems trendy.

If you are interested in taking a walk on the “Veg Side” there are some great documentaries out there that can get you started in the right direction.

Vegucated

Hungry for Change

Food Matters

Just to name a few and currently available on Netflix.

 

 

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I had a friend in town and would normally go out for breakfast on a Saturday morning, but I thought it best not to tempt myself on my first day of Vegan, because going out for bacon and eggs is simply one of my favorite things!

So instead he came over and I made Raw porridge and had some green tea.

Later, the Chef and I went to Starbucks and I had my very first EVER “soy latte”.   It wasn’t awful, but I REALLY don’t want to turn into one of THOSE people…..you know….the “soy latte” people.  But I was desperate, nobody needs to start their first day of Vegan with a caffeine withdrawal headache!!

One thing at a time.

So please follow along if you like and even try a challenge of some kind  of your own and we can do it together!

 

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Pantata?

Or perhaps we might call it a Fritcake perhaps? What we have here is a cross between a Frittata and a Pancake!

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Quite by chance of course. It started off innocently enough.  I was going to clean out my fridge and whip up a nice little week night supper of Frittata and salad but realized after it was too late, that I simply didn’t have enough egg.

I had already sautéed up all of the other ingredients and was ready to go.  What to do?  Instead of the “several” eggs that I needed, I found that I only had two!

So instead I used those two eggs to whip up a batch of pancake batter, unsweetened, so a “savory” pancake, if you will.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by going through the fridge and taking out all the little containers of stuff and you didn’t want to waste but didn’t get around to using.  For instance, we had:

  • cooked sausage
  • cooked cauliflower
  • roasted peppers

Then I added some fresh:

  • sliced mushrooms
  • chopped onions
  • chopped green onions
  • fresh parsley

And get those all sautéed up together.

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Meanwhile whip up a batch of your favorite pancake batter ( or try this one).

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Once the left overs and veg are all cooked up, pour the batter all over them.  Then give the pan a good swirl and a jiggle to make sure that the batter has gotten down into every nook and cranny.

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Cook on the stove top on medium heat until the whole thing stops looking jiggley  or look for those tell-tale pancake “bubbles”.   Now if you are highly skilled and want to attempt to turn it over.  Go for it!  But I was not that ambitious and so I popped it into the oven for a few minutes till it looked properly cooked.

Then I took it out, put the oven on broil, topped the cake with a good sprinkle of grated cheese and a some smokie paprika and shoved in under the broiler till the cheese got nice and melty!

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Serve with a nice side salad of veggies and you are in business!!

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Spicy Meatball Soup

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I can’t help it. This time of year I just like eating warm comforting things. And now that the holiday season is behind us, there seems to be even less time than usual.  You come in after a busy day and you just want something fast and satisfying. But before you call the pizza guy…..maybe give something like this a try first. On this particular week night I had the idea that I was just going to whip up a batch of my tried and true “Favorite Soup“. Which is usually made with chicken or tofu as the base, but I didn’t have either of those on hand. But what I DID have was some some left over ground meat from making Kofte two nights before. And if you have been following this blog for any time now, you know I am a great believer of making “clean up the fridge” food!

Start by getting your broth going.

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2-3 cloves chopped garlic
  • aprox 1 inch knob of ginger chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped ( optional)
  • 1 celery stock finely chopped ( optional)

In your dutch oven or large pot, get these things going with a bit of olive oil.  Cook them till they are wilty and sweaty looking.

Then add some spices in no particular order and PLEASE feel free to add, omit and change amounts…it is YOUR easy soup!

But rule of thumb about 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of each

  • cumin
  • ground coriander
  • chili flakes
  • curry powder or turmeric
  • garam masala

And then

  • 1 -2 tbsp natural peanut butter ( or other nut butters)

Work these all into the cooking vegetables.

Then add a generous splash of

  • rice wine vinegar
  • soy sauce/tamari/Bragg

Stir those in, let them get acquainted then add

  • aprox 4 cups water or stock of your choice

Bring it all to  boil then turn it down to low, put the lid on it and let it simmer.

Meanwhile

You want to get your meatballs done.   And again, use what YOU have available but try keeping in the flavour range of what you have used in your broth.

I basically used all the same spices in both things.  So a shot in the pot and a shot in the meatball bowl!

So you will need

  • ground meat ( whatever you like)
  • 1-2 cloves finely (super fine) chopped garlic
  • 1 -2 chopped green onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup binder like bread crumbs, panko etc
  • handful of fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • assortment of spices from above

Squeeze that all up together and then roll into nice, slightly smaller than golf ball, size balls.

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Then you want to pan fry them first and add to the soup after, other wise, there is a good chance they will get soggy and break up…..which is fine too…..but I like to keep them in tack.

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So while those are cooking, you can now add some other stuff to your soup.  And here is where the “clean out the fridge” element comes into it.   More or less chop up and add whatever say greens you might want.  I used spinach and some savoy cabbage,  but kale would do nicely or chard.

And then I added some nice sliced up cremini mushrooms.  But you want to add these fairly close to the end so they retain a little bit of texture.

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Then for convenience sake, I like to use the old college favorite ramen noodles!  But I always toss out the package of weird who knows what that come with them and just use the noodles.  But feel free to use something else, or nothing at all.

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I really don’t like trying to fight with getting the noodles back out of the soup pot once I’ve put them in so instead I add one packet per person to the soup bowl first.

Top with the boiling hot soup and then cover with an upside down plate or something like that and let sit for about 10 minutes until the noodles absorb the liquid.

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Then make sure the noodles are done by giving a bit of a stir with a chop stick to loosen them up.   Then add the cooked meat balls to the top and any sort of  additional topping you might want, like chopped green onion or cilantro and some chopped peanut or a sprinkle of sesame seeds…..whatever you like to jazz it up.

And then just before eating, squeeze a shot of fresh lemon juice on top to help brighten the flavours AND give you a little shot of vitamin C!!

Enjoy!

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Retro New Years

For those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time well know, that my philosophy towards food is “Do the best you can with what you’ve got!”  And that if you can eat properly 90% of the time, then that 10% when you indulge , shouldn’t really do that much harm.

So, that being said, if you are one of my uber-healthy, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, etc type blog friends, then, I suggest you just move on from this particular post……..nothing to see here.

I gave the Chef a cheese fondu set for Christmas.  We live in the sort of climate that welcomes bread dipped in molten cheese type dishes, and New Years Eve is a perfect time to indulge!

I was probably about twelve the first time I ever tasted cheese fondu and it was made by ACTUAL Swiss people, new neighbours who had moved in and invited our family over for dinner.

Coming from the “boil it or fry it” cuisine that I grew up with, this “Swiss Fondu” had to be the most exotic and delightful thing my young palette had EVER had!!

And all the ritual around it, with having to kiss the person next to you if you should inadvertently lose your bread in the pot!!

( The Chef pointed out that perhaps this played a part in the 70’s when both fondu parties and swingers were at their peak of popularity!!)

My love of fondu continued in the 90’s, back in Montreal, when my friends and I often frequented a restaurant called Alpenhaus which specialized in fondu.  There was not a better place to be on a cold Montreal night, than tucked into the dark wood laden walls of this Swiss Chalet stuffing your face with warm cheese on bread, to warm the cockles!

So to say good-bye to 2012 we fired up the fondu pot!

Now as the holiday season winds down ( although mine doesn’t finish for another week because January 7th is my birthday so all resolutions in my world start on the 8th!) you really start to feel as though if you NEVER had another meal it would be TOO SOON!!

So we tried to add just a little healthiness to the meal by adding a salad and instead of just bread as dippers, we also had blanched cauliflower, lightly sauted mushrooms……so yes and some (pre-cooked) spicy Italian sausage!

Here’s to 2013!!!

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Galette

Or sometimes known as “pastry with stuff in it”.

Now I know that I have been on a gluten-free kick lately and by no means have I abandon it.  But I haven’t actually been diagnosed with any sort of condition that prevents me from partaking in gluten, I just notice that I feel a lot better when I don’t eat it.

But once in a while, there are some things that I think just might taste better when using wheat flour.

And as a friend pointed out to me, the more you DON’T eat gluten ( assuming you don’t have a real condition that forbids it) the less trouble it will give you when you only eat it once in a while.

So I just felt like making something a little rich.   The weather hasn’t been so nice lately so eating something comforting always help.

I’m calling it “Leek and blue cheese galette”.

Start with a batch of your favorite pastry recipe.   Now IF you can make it gluten-free and taste good….then all the power to you!!  But my pastry was made with whole wheat flour.   Make a batch and put it in the fridge to chill for at least half hour.

Meanwhile, get your filling going.

Mine was super simple, cause that’s what I had.   And that is the beauty of a galette, you can fill it with just about anything, savory or sweet.

So I sautéed up:

  • 1/2 super thinly sliced leek ( I would have used more but that’s all I had)
  • 2 -3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • salt & pepper

But then I realized there really wasn’t quite enough there so I chopped up a couple of brocoli florets and tossed them in too.

Set aside and wait for pastry to be cooled.

Chop up some blue cheese or whatever cheese you have and would like to use.

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When the pastry is chilled, divide into as many portions as galettes you will make, and then on a floured surface, roll out a nice round disk, maybe 8″ diameter.

Place it on a parchment covered tray (easier to fill on tray than try and move it later) and then put a generous mound of filling in the center, then top with cheese and then squash it all down a bit.   I also added a bit of Asiago cheese at the last minute.

Then just start turning the pastry in towards the middle, sort of folding it over itself.  It is okay to have some of the filling under the pastry, but most of it will be exposed.

Continue until the whole round is folded in.

Repeat with as many as you will be making.

Now I just forgot, but it is a good idea to brush the pastry with something, like a beaten egg or milk, just to help give it that nice shiny pastry look.  But no big deal it you forget.

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Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and pastry looks baked.

Serve as desired.

You could also make smaller ones as party snacks or appetizers.

I paired them with a nice little arugula salad with shaved Asiago and oil and lemon  dressing.

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My crazy arugula is still growing away out on the deck!!  I keep hacking it down and it just grows back!!  Let’s see if it lasts through the winter!!

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Earthbound Pumpkins

I’ve always been a big fan of Earthbound Farms.

When I first graduated from Nutrition School, I often fantasized about working there.

On their website they often spoke of their “Farm Store” so while visiting my California relatives one year we were going on a day trip to the coast and so I talked them in to going to the Earthbound Farms.

Trouble is, I didn’t have the right address and we ended up at their processing plant that is pretty much in the middle of no where.  Which really seemed strange because, on line, the “Farm Store” really looked like somewhere a lot of people would go.

We pull up to the gate of what looks like some sort of military installation, but sure enough, there is a big beautiful sign  stating that it is in fact Earthbound Farms.  But there was NO sign of any farm store or anything that could even be mistaken as one.

But we’d come all this way, so the least I could do was get my picture taken at the sign.

I was barely out of the car when suddenly security came running out from the gate house and ran us off the property!!

Luckily I managed to get a quick picture before we jumped in the car and sped off!

Earthbound Farms

When I got home to Canada I got on their website and gave them a piece of my mind!   How I had come all that way and was a big fan yada yada yada and how we were so rudely chased away!

I received a very nice email back from the nice director of marketing lady apologizing for the rude treatment but explaining that we were at the damn processing plant and not the lovely farm and farm store in the Carmel Valley.  And how next time I was coming down to please let her know and they would be happy to give me a full tour!!

So the next year I was visiting again and so this time a friend and I actually made it to the right place!   And it was in fact lovely.

The REAL Earthbound Farm

And just in time for pumpkin season!!!

A new twist on “Pork n Beans”

The weather finally took a turn.

Hasn’t rained since June and now it hasn’t stopped raining for three days!

Time to get back to some more “stick to the ribs” kinda food to help with the beginning of the hibernation process!

This dish is certainly NOT your gramma’s Pork & Beans by any means.

I started with the basic concept of my old favorite go to dish Nelson’s Beans but then added a few twists and turns.

Pork n Beans

Heat a  heavy skillet, add a little olive oil and then:

Sear off one pork tenderloin, quickly cooking on all sides.

Once it is done on all sides ( don’t forget the ends) add:

  • 1 large onion sliced in full rounds
  • 2 – 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 bell pepper of your choice
  • 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper

Keep stirring till the vegetable are well sweated then add some favorite spices:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp smokie paprika

Mix those in well to your cooking veg, working around the pork.

Then add 1 tin of crushed or diced tomato AND 1 tin of tomato paste.

And then add a little water if there wasn’t enough juice in the tomatoes.

Stir that all well and then put a lid on it for about 10 minutes till it is all well heated and the pork cooked.

Then the last thing you will add is one or two ( depending on how much you are making) tins of beans.  Nelson’s beans call for Pinto but for this I just used navy.

Stir them in well to everything else and heat for another 5 minutes.

When you are ready to go to the plate, remove the pork loin from the beans.

Slice the pork into nice attractive disks.

Spoon out a few spoonfuls of beans on to the plate of your choice and then top with a few rounds  of pork and then sprinkle with fresh cilantro and a good squeeze of lime juice!!

Now THAT is a stick to your ribs kind of dinner!!

Kinda lasagna sorta

The worst part about moving of course, is trying to find anything!

All the best and most organized packing in the world can still result in a lot of things being “misplaced”.  That is what is so disruptive about moving and makes you feel so unsafe.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but they say moving is up there with the top 10 most stressful happenings in life……up there with divorce or deaths!!

And when you are packing, you tend to do crazy things that must seem a good idea at the time and perhaps even logical.  But on the unpacking end you often find your self asking “WHAT was I thinking there??”

So this past weekend was the first time the Chef and I have both had the whole weekend off together and been able really get a handle on the new place.  Most of the stuff has been unpacked for a bit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is in the right place.

I kid you not, we spent almost four hours arranging and rearranging the living room.        We purchased some new furniture that will be arriving in “two to four weeks” so it is even harder when you don’t even really know what things will look like.

We had already had a number of configurations that we had tried for a week or a few days at a time, but nothing felt right.   But I think we finally found one we can work with……until the furniture comes and then we have to start all over of course!

But we did manage to finally arrange the pantry.

It’s been hard to cook or eat because we didn’t know where anything was….or if you thought of a dish you might only have half the ingredients, but then only to discover in a different cupboard the other stuff you would need.  It’s been chaos!

So after a long day of “arranging” neither of us felt like going out to a store, nor did we really feel like cooking but…….you gotta eat right?

So this is what I came up with.

Baked cabbage with cheese and veg

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I present this as only a guideline of what you can do with a bunch of random stuff.  Please feel free to substitute or omit  as needed.

First I cooked up a pot of green lentils.  At first I thought I would make some sort of lentil dish fried up with onions and veg on rice etc.

But then I found a cabbage in the fridge.  When I say “found” you know what I mean, a recently purchased one, not one that came with the fridge!

And so I thought I’d really like to use that too.

There were also some nice Portobello mushrooms and some red peppers.

Hmmm….what next?

Okay.

So in a large skillet with a little oil add:

  • 1 -2 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cups sliced mushroom
  • 1 red, green, yellow or combo sliced pepper

Cook those down until nice and soft, feel free to add any herb or spice flavours that inspire you.

When these are cooked, toss them into a flat baking or lasagna style dish and spread them around.

Then add in the cooked lentils and mix them in well.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add a little more oil then add finely sliced cabbage.  Sliced very thin like you are making coleslaw but don’t stuff the pan too much.

I used a whole small cabbage.  But cook it in batches so that it cooks down nicely and it is okay if it gets brown bits on it.  Adds flavour!!

As you finish each batch of cabbage, add it to the baking dish and continue to mix it in with the other vegetables.

Once you have done about half the cabbage, sprinkle with a layer of good melting cheese like mozzarella or other cheese you might use in a lasagna or pizza.

Once all the cabbage is added then add a tin of tomato  or prepared spaghetti sauce and thoroughly mix through everything.  I only had half of a tin on hand, but it really needed a whole one!

Once it is well mixed, layer with another layer of the melting cheese and then a bit of what ever other cheese you might have just as an accent.  I used some orange cheddar and some blue cheese.

Then bung it in the oven at 350 for about half hour ( it’s mostly all cooked just need to heat and melt cheese) and then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes till the cheese on top starts to brown a little.

There you have it!

Kinda lasagna sorta

Now I will admit, if I had to do it again, there would be a few things I would do differently.  Like make sure I had enough sauce.   And I would probably put some extra fried onions on top.  Or even better, those old school crispy onions that Grandmothers seem to like to put on green bean casseroles at the holidays!!

It would make a fine Vegetarian supper with a salad and some nice bread.  Or actually it would do fine as a side dish.

The point is, you can usually make something out of nothing when you have to!  Be creative!

We did end up getting to have some Thanksgiving Turkey dinner after all and it went very well, just missing a couple things…..like the gravy ladle.

It will show up….with the damn blue lampshade I can’t seem to find.

To the new garden

I’ll admit that I haven’t been to the blog too much lately.

But I have a very good reason. ( Other than the fact that my WordPress was broken!!)

The Chef and I have moved to a new place and it has been one thing after another stopping us from getting on with it.

So I haven’t been doing much cooking and I haven’t been doing much gardening and I certainly haven’t been doing much blogging!

But I am looking forward to this being a full weekend of no outside responsibilities, so I can concentrate on getting things in order, so we can start “living our life”!

There!

But have a LOOK at the new kitchen! Coarse this is before we moved all our stuff into it!! I will update you when it is settled!

The New Kitchen

And this is the new patio, again, before we moved in!

But how are the plants in my garden doing you ask?

Chick HERE if you want to catch up on the trials and tribulations of my balcony garden!

Well, when we got back from the Oregon trip, the birds had really had their way with things!

They apparently got a taste for beet greens and so they didn’t make it.

beaten beets

And then they went for the cabbage!

Tormented cabbage

But since we’ve moved, the new deck is pest free so any of those who made the move are faring quite well.

The crazy arugula just keeps on growing! We cut it and eat it and it just grows back! Marvelous!

Active arugula

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Do you remember my ONE tomato? Well this is him!! All grown up and red. I must eat him soon!

Original tomato

And look, now he has all kinds of friends! Didn’t I predict that? That come October I’d have all kinds of tomato!!

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And these are the cabbage now, since being bird free and able to grow in peace. They still don’t seem to be turning into a nice cabbage ball that I am accustom to at the market, but they are at least decorative!!

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And last but not least, the most pleasant surprise!

BEANS!

It took forever for them to even sprout! And now the little plants are growing all kinds of beans!!

Fantastic!

But it is October now and even though it has been sometimes warmer than in the dead of summer lately, I think it might be time to wind things down for this season.

Foraging – The series

Historical moment here folks!

This is the very first  official “GUEST BLOG” from What Have We Got Here!

And what’s even MORE exciting is that it isn’t just one little ol blog but a series!

My good friend Jacquie who lives in Montreal, Quebec recently had a VERY note worthy food adventure and really wanted to share it with us!

Please enjoy Foraging – Part I

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FORAGING   

Photo: Joe O’Leary, author of the Wilderness Survival Guide. Used with permission

 

Forage /ˈfôrij/

Function: verb

Inflected Form(s): -ed/-ing/-s

Etymology: Middle English foragen, from Middle French fourager, from fourage

intransitive verb

1 : wander in search of food

2 : the latest development in the “eat local” movement

Early humans were hunters/gatherers, in other words, foragers finding their food in the local countryside. Using trial and error, our ancestors were able to identify plants that were useful to them and weed out those that weren’t. Some plants could remove the sting of poison ivy, some fruits could prevent scurvy

Lemons and limes were carried on early sailing voyages to supplement the sailors’ poor diet and help prevent scurvy. Photo: André Karwath

and some leaves made an excellent poultice to help heal wounds. Some trees produced seeds that were edible (and nutritious), some roots could be made into delicious drinks and some bark and seedpodswere found to boost the flavour of other foods.  This lore was passed down through the generations and may still linger as a spark in our collective unconscience.

People have always used vegetation for food and medicinal purposes. While early humans started cultivating some plants, such as wheat and rice, through the ages other  plants dropped off our radar. They became “weeds,” even though they had once been used regularly to cure our ills or provide sustenance.

 Food is now an international industry. Our grocery stores are filled with produce from all over the world, all through the year. Popular products are genetically modified to survive early picking, natural pests and longer transportation times. But the pendulum is swinging back and foraging is once again gaining popularity as a way of providing food for our tables.  

As a logical extension of the eating locally philosophy, foraging brings “local” right to your doorstep. And you don’t need to be living in the wild to take advantage of natures abundance.  Edible plants abound in parks and along the sides of roads. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.

An abundance of useful and edible plants can be found growing naturally all over. Photo: J. Dinsmore

It became popular in the seventies to use “natural” ingredients in skin- and hair-care products and to revive homemade recipes for everything from soap to lipstick. We started growing our own sprouts and making our own bread with new old grains such as spelt and flaxseed. This movement levelled off for a while, but with the newfound interest in eating locally, people are re-discovering, and delighting in, the edible world around them. Local now means the park across the street, the bushes surrounding your cottage and the side of the road you take to work.*

But you don’t need to go out and pull edible roots out of the ground yourself. A new type of restaurant that cooks up  dishes based on foraged ingredients  is popping up like dandelions in the lawn to satisfy the curiosity of foodies and the need of some to go “back to their roots.” I recently had the luck to dine at one of these restaurants, in the Laurentian mountains outside of Montreal, and will be writing a review of the restaurant and the meal.

* Please be aware that most vegetation in public spaces is sprayed for pests and disease and is therefore not suitable for eating. Many municipalities also have by-laws concerning the harvesting of plants on public property (including roadsides), so make sure you research and do your homework before setting out to forage.

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Check back tomorrow for Part II of Jacquie’s adventures in Foraging!

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A turn in the weather

It’s disappointing  that I feel the need to write a blog like this in July, but it really has been a weird weather summer  all around.   Scorching heat and drought some places while others are cold, raining and flooding!

I remember that when I lived back east in Montreal or Toronto I would cherish a summer day like this.  We would usually have suffered weeks of blistering heat, so a cold rainy day would be very welcome.   We never get “blistering” heat here in Victoria but summer is usually a good solid “nice”.

But why not make the best of it??   Actually I couldn’t be happier with this kind of activity!

First I popped a batch of  BREAD IN A POT into the oven that had been “festering” over night and will take it out in a few minutes.

And then why not have a nice bowl of soup to cheer you up!

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I had some left over spicy Italian sausage from my STUFFED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS the other day so I started with that.

Heat up your Dutch oven or sturdy pot and then add in the sausage ( loose sausage not in casing) and stir it around until it is well browned.   Then add:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 1 stock of celery finely diced
  • 1/8 – 1/4 green CABBAGE shredded

Add those to the sausage and stir them up until well wilted.

Once they are all well acquainted I tossed in a handful or two ( 1/2 cup) of my favorite legumey soup mixture.    It comes from the bulk section of my grocery store and is a combo of  green and yellow split pea, barley, lentil and maybe a bit of rice for good measure.  I really enjoy this combo because some of the items cook down while others keep their shape.

So toss that in and then stir making sure the legumes are well covered with all the juices etc of the sausage and veg.   Let that go for a few minutes and then add enough stock or water to just cover everything.

Bring it up to a boil, then turn it down to a nice simmer.  It will need at least 45 minutes to cook but that’s why it’s a good “go about your business” kind of dish.   But do check on it and stir it from time to time.

Then about 10 minutes before you are actually ready to eat it, toss in a very large handful of chopped kale.   This step IS optional, but you know me……..KALE is our friend!!

Let that cook in and then you are ready to enjoy!!

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