Monday, October 25, 2010

Garbanzo bean salad

I've been talking about trying to make a bean salad for ages now. I've never tried making one. Then I saw a recipe for one on (never home) maker.

Try as I could, I could not get my hands on all of the ingredients. Who knew that you can't get fresh basil in Ottawa in late October? Unfortunately, I think that the basil would've packed a lot of punch into this bowl of deliciousness.

It's Monday, spinning night, where we did hill climbs. I was sweating from my shoulders and arrived home with giant eyes that were like magnets to the kitchen. This is how my salad started:

- 1 can of chick peas
- 2 chopped carrots (carrots are one thing that I buy organic as they flavour is so amazing)
- shredded coconut
- ground pepper

onto which I added the following sauce:

1T tahini
1T almond milk
1T maple syrup

I tasted, and it need something else, so I added some raisins. This is what it looked like:

At second taste, it needed something else. My trusty avocadoes were conveniently sitting on my table, perfectly ripened. Half of one went into my bowl, and I added some pita bread to go along with it. This is what I consumed, post hill-climbs, pre-5k walk with Oslo:

It was tasty, but definitely needs work. My mission is to find fresh basil. I think that I would add something else to the sauce as well, it just kind of hung out there as if to say: I'm a sauce, that's where my description ends. The left overs will be tomorrow lunch, possibly with some additions made.


A couple of weeks ago some friends and I were talking about tomato soup. Remember when you were little and on snow days you would come in for lunch from sledding, and have delicious Campbell's tomato soup? I would break half of a sleeve of Premium Plus crackers into my bowl and crunch away. We were talking about how it's impossible to make a homemade version of that goodness.

On Sunday, I met up with a study buddy to practice our Inuktitut. We went to Planet Coffee in the market, where there were two things on the lunch menu: 7-grain salad, and tomato and roasted garlic soup. I had the soup. Oh. Em. Gee. Amazing! It was a light coloured soup, it clearly had other veggies in it, as it wasn't a totally pureed soup. I thought to myself, I have to try and make this at home.

So I prepared the following:

- 5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 zucchini, peeled and chopped
- a bunch of fresh sage, leaves torn off of their sprigs
- a couple of carrots, I used the leftovers from the massive amount that came in the veggie tray that I had for dinner (sometimes I get an irresitable craving for a veggie tray, the smaller size, I can eat the whole thing, except for the carrots, there are always so many carrots!)
- 5 or six cloves of garlic
- 1 onion

I roasted the three last items listed in the oven at 350 for about half an hour with some olive oil drizzled on them:

After 30 minutes, I put them in the soup pot, with the rest of the veggies, minus the tomatoes. I added 5 sundried tomatoes to get an extra-tomato-y flavour, a litre of water and a bouillion cube. All of that stewed for about half an hour, until everything was soft. I then used the hand blender and zapped the developing deliciousness into a puree. THEN in went the chopped tomatoes and 2 cups of almond milk.

Almond milk you say? No, it doesn't taste at all like cow's milk, nor does it have the same texture. I've never compared the nutritional information, so other than the two of them being good sources of calcium, I don't know how they compare nutritionally. I don't mind milk, but I don't mind milk alternatives either. If you're a tried and true cow's milk fan, please use it in this soup, otherwise you'll be disappointed with the distinct almond milk flavour and likely throw out the whole pot.

Let the soup stew a little more, then zap it a second time, not zapping the tomatoes entirely. Add salt and pepper, and serve. My version of delicious tomato soup came out like this:

It was delicious. So delicious that I had a small bowl before going to bed. Then I sat down at the table in the kitchen at work and ate it today, instead of letting it splatter while I absent-mindedly consumed it over a forecast. It was slightly spicy thanks to the pepper, and had a rich flavour thanks to the variety of vegetables. Definitely post-sledding worthy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Savoury Schnacks!

Meet Clyde:

You can see his friend, Wicked Witch of the [insert your preference here] being carved in the background.

B and M came over this evening to partake in a practice run for a pumpkin carving competition that is happening at the Big House this Saturday. Text messages indicated that treats were going to be involved, which is how the pumpkin beer came in. This beer is pretty delicious, as I'm sure you were wondering. It's got a rich flavour to it, a bit sweet but still a beer, not cider-like, and it's nice and light. You can definitely have a few, it's not one of these "nice to have a glass of" brews. It's by Great Lakes Brewery and only available at this time of year.

Ok, enough about the beer, let's get back to the pumpkin. I picked up a "pie" pumpkin quickly somewhere between work, walking Oslo and spinning. B and M showed up with proper carving pumpkins. With pumpkin carving tools and patterns present at the table, and away we went. First gutting the pumpkins, then carving, for those of you who have never done this before.

Three pumpkins = a lot of pumpkin seeds. M is a serious team player and quickly finished her carving to start separating the seeds for roasting, she's amazing! Suddenly we had a colander full of seeds.

The only time I've roasted pumpkin seeds it's been straight up salt on a pan in the oven. This time, I decided to make them savoury instead of just salty. The colander of pumpkin seeds went into the pan with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, rosemary, salt and olive oil. 30 minutes later, flipping every ten minutes, my apartment smelled amazing, and we had a giant batch of savoury snacks to compliment the seasonal decor:

This is about half the batch, the other half was eaten/sent home with M and B.

A close up of the schnacks:

It was the first time for all of us using a pumpkin carving kit. The saws are pretty dull, you don't have to worry about cutting yourself, but it does take quite a bit of effort. I think I might be investing in the pumpkin saw for Saturday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin

Just when I thought that I couldn't do anything more with pumpkin, Peas and Thank You showed me this:

Pumpkin scones! A couple of weeks ago B called me into the catering kitchen at the office. She introduced me to a tray of delicious Starbucks treats, before she could finish her sentence, my paws were all over the half a pumpkin scone like it was going to run away. That's how I feel about pumpkin scones. Unfortunately the calorie count is equivalent to a Big Mac. Fortunately, someone before me knew this and took just half of the pumpkin scone available.

So I made 6 pumpkin scones. My friend M came over and we shared one, she loved it. It was absolutely the perfect way to spend a chilly Friday night. Thanks for the visit M, and thanks for the easy peasy recipe S!

Apartment pie

I hesitate to use the term shepherd's pie for this, since there is no meat. I've been thinking about shepherd's pie for a week or so since a co-worker mentioned it. Not being too keen on beef at the moment, I decided that mung beans would be a good alternative. That's right, mung beans. It was the first time they were used in my kitchen, and I took a guess that they would cook like lentils.

The mung beans went into a pot of water and salt to boil until soft, but not too soft as I decided to leave them whole in the apartment pie.

While the beans were cooking, potatoes were peeled and also boiled. For flavour, I finely chopped an onion and some garlic and browned them in a pan with olive oil, then added the beans once they were quite soft, and some oregano, salt and pepper.

Then, like a shepherd's or cottage pie, the three layers went into a dish, mung beans, corn, and mashed potatoes (mashed with almond milk and butter).

After 25 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees, this was the result:

I admit, I was nervous. That it would be dry. Or flavourless. It was delicious! Lighter than other pies, but equally as nice on the taste buds.


Breakfast in my kitchen normally includes a smoothie. They always have a banana, some sort of liquid, and something frozen in common, but that's where the similarities end. Berries, avocadoes, chia seeds, peanut butter, avocado, mangoes and spinach are common participants. But this week I found the perfect combination:

1 banana
1 avocado
1 generous spoonful of peanut butter
a handful of frozen strawberries
approx. 1 cup almond milk


Amazing. Rarely will I make the same smoothie more than a couple of days in a row. This was repeated 5 times. I'd like to thank the bag of 5 avocadoes that ripened slowly and perfectly, stretching over 5 days of delicious breakfasts!

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's back

The soup that is. The pot has come out of retirement as the temperatures have dropped and the stores and streets filled with pumpkins.

A butternut squash was the the star of this premiere soup. It was cut in half and roasted with 4 cloves of garlic for half an hour, enough to soften it up.

A smallish onion was chopped and fried in the pot with some olive oil until soft. Then went in a roughly chopped sweet potato, followed the butternut squash cut into squares with the skin removed, and a red pepper. After a few minutes of all of that cooking together, a litre of chicken stock and a chopped up pear were added, and it all simmered for about half an hour.

*Zap!* it all with the immersion blender, and here's what you get:

A smooth and savoury soup with a hint of sweetness, a perfect way to start off the season!