Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Changes in Foodsies

In my last post about a month ago I wrote about the deliciousness that is chili, and one of my favourite subjects - man vegetables. What I didn't mention was that I was a week into a hypoallergenic diet. Making that chili and having no more than a taste to make sure that it was good was kind of tough, serving 8 different types of chili the next day was a little more so. My chili came in third place if you were wondering :)

I started the hypoallergenic diet as I started to see a naturopathic doctor about why my low iron stores. Her approach was to take out all of the foods that people are typical sensitive to, and then reintroduce them to see how my body responds. I also had tests done for gluten intolerance before I cut everything out, the results were negative.

If you've ever done something like this, you know it's hard. If you had to cut out soya products, you know that soya is in everything. It's tough to eat out because of sauces, marinades, certain veggies, breaded products, etc. and you sound like Meg Ryan ordering her coffee in You've Got Mail - but with everything.

My diet for 4 weeks mainly consisted of:

- kale - in curries, as chips, as salads
- garbanzo beans - soaked and cooked by yours truly to avoid tinned foods (garbanzo beans smelllll!) - good for curries, in salads, as hummus
- black beans - I only did this once, as a dip
- coconut milk - good for curries, good for smoothies, good to make brown rice pudding for breakfast
- brown rice and quinoa
- apples
- veggie plates (I love veggie plates, but I learned that there is a limit)
- almonds - as a snack, as a butter, as a topping on salads or your breakfast quinoa
- frozen peaches and the new Power Fruit Blend
- salmon

I also gave up coffee and alcohol. I was a grouch for 2.5 weeks solid. If I offended you during this period I apologize. I heard a good analogy about this: When a hockey team loses 4 games in a row, they think to themselves, we're just having a bad stretch. When they lose 20 games in a row, it becomes clear that they just plain suck. This came from a colleague, I think his message to me was clear.

Now you're probably thinking, you didn't actually follow this for a month, did you? And if you did, is your iron amazing now? Other than the tasting of the chili, and a bowl of soup from Bridgehead, I was totally disciplined. I started reintroducing things over the weekend, and I have to keep a journal about how I feel as I go. I'll have to get my iron tested again in a few months to confirm if it's gone up, but since the gluten test came back negative, we can rule that out. Other things that I've noticed since I started:

- my skin looks really, really good.
- I'm not bloated, it looks like I've lost weight, but I've lost 2lbs.
- I had moments where I really hated everything. I'm going to say this was caffeine withdrawal.
- I had spacey moments. I couldn't think of the word that was on the tip of my tongue. I'll say that was also lack of caffeine.
- I like chocolate. You'll know from previous posts that I was not a fan of chocolate before. My naturopath says this is probably because we don't have a whole lot of bitter flavours, and since I gave up coffee I want that and chocolate is a good source. I've been eating 85% raw, organic, sugar/dairy/soya/gluten free chocolate. It's good, I swear!
- I'm not as thirsty as I was.

So was it worth it? Yes, I would say it was. The worst part for me was the caffeine. If you're as addicted as I was, remember to be patient. Really patient. It may take a few weeks to really get over it. The rest is peanuts compared to this.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chili Cook-Off

Tomorrow is the chili cook-off at the office. This is the first time that I have been invited to participate, and I simply couldn't turn it down!

I love referencing man vegetables. And there is really no time like a chili cook-off to reference man vegetables. Onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, maybe some others if you're feeling adventurous. I was sharing my theory of man vegetables with O while I prepared my chili. At the mention of kale as a non-man vegetable that I eat, his response was: That's not food! I'm pretty sure that response supports my theory. Another supporting fact: Manwich Sloppy Joes boasts a full serving of vegetables in every sandwich. If there's anything in that sauce besides tomatoes and perhaps a hint of onion and carrot, I'd be surprised.

Man vegetables really do make a delicious chili. What's in my chili cook-off chili?

1 onion
1 1/2 stalks of celery
2 cloves garlic
1 green pepper
1 package mushrooms
half a hot red pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 small can yellow tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can red kidney beans (wait a second...beans must be a vegetable since legume is french for vegetable! maybe I'll add beans to the man vegetable category)
half a can of black beans
splash Worcestershire sauce
some red wine
dried chilies
chili poweder
cumin powder

The result is a full bodied chili that my coworkers will enjoy for $5 a bowl with proceeds going towards the United Way.

While I love a man vegetable, I do love me a side of kale...

Sunday, October 16, 2011


A couple of months ago, my friend S brought ribs to a cottage. She had marinated them in a smoked hickoey sauce blended with sriracha. Yes, that red sauce that you'll always find on the table when you go for pho. nom nom nom. In my attempts to eat more red meat, ribs got in the way. It's still meat, it's got to have iron in it, right? Check out this saucy goodness:

There was some cheesy bread to go along with it, good for soaking up that sauce.

Monday, October 10, 2011


This year, for the first time, Thanksgiving dinner was at my place. I invited a few people, and that number turned to 10. If you've been to my apartment, I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, Where did you fit all of those bodies?! Did you have enough dishes?!

The bodies fit fine, I opened my front door to get some air circulation seeing as it was 26 degrees outside, resulting in a possible oven in my apartment. I did not have enough dishes, I borrowed some bowls from The Girl Next Door J, and had some paper plates.

Now, on to the fun part...The food!

My mum did that turkey at hers, and I did a pork roast as I was concerned we wouldn't have enough meat.

I included a Soupita basic, butternut squash soup, here are the main ingredients, ready to be roasted:

After that photo was taken, it was a whirlwind three hours of cooking where no photos were taken, and resulted in this:

Family and friends digging in to goodness! I quickly grabbed my camera to document the dishes before it was devoured. First up, stuffing. I love how every holiday has a discussion about what kind of stuffing you do. I do bread stuffing. Sliced bread stuffing. That's right. Delicious! You can see the edge of the mashed potatoes that didn't get it's own shot:

Here is my momma carving up the bird:

My pork roast in the background. It was my first time doing a pork roast, thank you Canadian Living for your guidance! I sliced up some cortland apples, and fried them in butter and maple syrup to go with the pork, nom nom nom:

There was a suggestion for glazed carrots as a side, I sliced a few carrots up, put them in a cup of water with 2 tbsps of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar and cooked until the sauce reduced. Yum!:

For me, this was the star of the show, sweet potatoes with a pecan topping, also from Canadian Living. The sweet potatoes were so light and fluffy, and the topping was crunchy and delicious:

The butternut squash soup in bowls, ready to be eaten, despite the heat:

And finally, all of the lovlies that came over to share Thanksgiving, my irngutaqs, D and B:

Cousin MR, don't worry Tulugaq and L, she's being fed!

My mum and Ajakuluk:

Little M, so cute, as she was leaving later on she said "Bye Oslo!", he's clearly her favourite!

Another irngutaq who is now my TA at Inuktitut, and friends Sarah and Beth. If they were to have a baby, I would be it.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm off for round two of food coma weekend!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday, 7:30pm

You just got home from teaching yoga after a day at the office. As your mum was driving you home through the cold and rainy streets, you remembered that you have frozen ravioli that you could make for a quick dinner. *woo hoo* When you get in, you put on some water to boil, and then realize: *snap* you don't have any sauce. While it could be handy to turn off the water and make a quick sandwich, you text someone and they remind you that you can probably whip something up. That would be much more satisfying.

So you take out a pan and put it on medium heat. While it's heating up, you chop up two cloves of garlic and two tomatoes. Then, after putting some olive oil into the heated pan, you add the garlic and let it get all beautiful and aromatic like garlic does. Garlic is so talented. Then you add the chopped tomatoes and some salt. Wait a second, there are some mini peppers in the freezer. You grab a mini yellow pepper and slice half, dice the other half. After tossing in the diced pepper, you feed the slices to your dog so that he's not staring at you longingly while you cook. Dang those puppy dog eyes.

While your sauce is simmering, you add some oregano. Then remember you have an open can of crushed tomatoes in the fridge, not to mention ricotta cheese and fresh basil. These sound like they could go splendidly together and you add a couple of spoonfuls of each. Finally, you let it all simmer together while you drain your ravioli:

*simmer* * simmer* *simmer*


Probably one of the better sauces that you've put together in less than 20 minutes. Rich, flavourful, and perfect on that frozen ravioli that called to your tummy on the way home. Not bad for a Monday evening.

Ingredient summary:

2 cloves garlic

2 tomatoes

olive oil

salt to taste

oregano to taste (in this kitchen that's quite a bit)

2 tbsps canned crushed tomatoes

2 tbsps ricotta

some fresh chopped basil

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

mm harvest

Over the weekend I went to visit some cousins in Toronto, and on the way stopped in Bowmanville where I paid my first visit to Watson Farms. They had all of the deliciousness that one can expect to find at this time of year in Canada. Luckily, O provided an extra pair of arms and entertained my "Oh, look at this!" and "Maybe I'll get some of these too." Two butternut squash formed part of my loot, and as I thought about what I could do with these, I kept coming back to the Ravioli Off that F had mentioned a couple of weeks ago. What is a Ravioli Off, you ask? I haven't actually been to one, but considering that my entire adopted family gets together and "competes" to see who can produce the best homemade stuffed pasta, I would consider it heaven. An excerpt from F's email the day after:

We had:
Cauliflower w creamed fennel sauce.
Arugla w fresh tomatoes and pancetta
Eggplant w scallop pesto sauce
Artichoke w tomato sauce - note this came with home made ricotta and butter
Pear and Walnut with a gorganzola cream sauce.

She's often talked about pumpkin ravioli, so I decided to take a shot at it. Keep in mind, I had never made homemade pasta before. After consulting with C, a local Italian friend and amazing cook, and with F while I made my way through a suburban grocery store, I was ready to go.

The inspirational cucurbita:

I peeled and chopped one of these up, then threw it into a pot with some onions that had been softening in olive oil. When the squash was soft, I pureed the contents of the pot with a hand blender, then stirred in some fresh, chopped Italian parsley, spices including thyme, sage, nutmeg and salt, and then added some ricotta. This is what all of that looks like together:

I dub this: Goodness. This was to be the stuffing.

F had said if I could find pre-made pasta sheets, that would be ideal. I could not find any in the giant suburban grocery store, so I stuck with the idea of making some, despite never having seen anyone do it before. I'll spare you of the aches and pains, though I now think that all those size 0 girls in Italy must be that size because they make their own pasta. The pre-cooked result of my efforts:

Yup, 24 pieces of ravioli. They're not the big ones either.

I cooked them up and dressed them up:

I used the delicious pumpkin on top, after all that work there wasn't much more room for creativity. Sprinkled with pepper and parmesan. They flavours were really nice, I'd do it again, after I get a live tutorial in pasta dough from one of my favourite Bs in Bermuda.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A summary of summer

A couple of months ago I announced that I would be doing a summer series on beer. The problem with Canadian summer is that it is so short. A Canadian tries to fit in as many activities during the months where we can count on good weather: soccer, softball, ultimate, camping, sailing, oh yes, and beer drinking. When you're enjoying the delicious beer that this country has to offer, it slips your mind to update your blog with the photos afterwards.

Since I've uploaded these photos from various sources, they are in no particular order:

Beau's. An Eastern Ontario brewery located in Vankleek Hill. B and I stopped there on our way back from Montreal, and I picked up one of these 1.89litre jugs of Lugtread. Delish! You can return this bad boy to the brewery to get a $4 deposit back. Beau's puts on an Oktoberfest at the end of September, it's gold. If you plan on going, make sure to get your tickets early as they sell like hot cakes.

Each summer I make my way east to visit the paternal side of my family. My daddy (yes, I call him daddy) always makes sure that the fridge is stocked with Clancy's, an amber ale produced by Moosehead. This variety is only available in the east as far as I know, and goes really well with lobster:

Summer is a good time to catch up with old friends, and make new ones. My cousin recently married this guy:

Since moving from France, he's picked up on great Canadian things, like watching hockey (he cheers for the Canadiens) and has developed a solid knowledge of biere Quebecoise. This is the belle that he married, we're clearly related:

A summer is never complete without a visit to see your Becksie, mine is always ready for a brewskie on the beachskie:

The typically Canadian way to end an adventure is with a beer. J and I took advantage of a groupon and went ziplining at Camp Fortune. Ziplining is one of the best activities that the Ottawa area has to offer in my opinion. On the way back, you can stop at the Chelsea Pub for a delicious lunch (they have poutine of course, but all sorts of variety beyond that), and they've got one of the best microbrew beer menus out there. J, post-ziplining:

You never know when you're going to make new friends over beer, or what you'll learn from them, like beer terms such as "suds":

Like two peas in a pod, beer with friends is the way to go, especially at 9,6% (in French, because it is ;))

Awesome friends lead to more awesome friends that bring you delicious lunch while on vacation. Like a backatown sandwich. There are no words to fully describe the experience of this sandwich. I won't even try to recreate this wonder. If you want to try it, you will have to go to Bermuda, and ask someone really nicely if they will pick some up on their lunch hour and eat it with you while watching Geordie Shore. Or Jersey Shore. Any ridiculously entertaining tv show really.

Many enjoyable beers end up being photographed with your smartphone. Obviously, it was tasty enough to be photo-worthy. Mr. Huff, a Hop City beer. This is the same company that does Barking Squirrel. While the Barking Squirrel is delicious, there is something about it that will give you a brutal hangover. Mr. Huff is lighter than Barking Squirrel, and no hangover was experienced the following day as a result.

Last, but not least, I will share a food experience with you. This recipe is brought to you by MTV Cribs, where I saw this in someone's fridge. Watermelon slices sprinkled with cinnamon. It's surprisingly satisfying! So if you just got back from a weekend bachelorette party and brought half a watermelon with you, I'd cut it up and sprinkle some cinnamon on it, and eat 'til your eyes feel like they're going to pop out:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Crazy in love

One tends to do crazy things for the people that they love. Maybe you'll travel far and wide to see them, give birth to them (and you don't even know them yet!), hold the core of a fruit or vegetable while they gnaw on it (obviously I'm talking about Oslo here), we could go on.

I've spent a lot of hours with a group of people over the last 6 months. Most of us started off as strangers, but after sweating profusely on each other, pretending to be acrobats together, discussing bodily functions, and ooh-ing and aah-ing over each other's arts and crafts project, just to brush the surface of what we've done, you suddenly have a group of people who you love and call your friends.

To celebrate the end of our time together as power yoga teachers-in-training, we had a potluck. The last few weeks, the only things that's come out of my kitchen has been served in a coffee or Magic Bullet mug. My Magic Bullet came with 4 mugs, so I had to come up with something else. I decided to consult my own blog, and settled on one of my favourites, pesto quiche.

This is where the crazy starts. I decided to make mini-quiches for ease of serving at the potluck, I had never made mini-quiche before. Then, I decided to attempt gluten-free, as I knew some of my new loves enjoy this kind of diet. I know very little about gluten-free, except that if you're celiac or sensitive to gluten, it sucks. But I have almond flour, and I knew that's cool, and oats. Oats are tricky, as you have to make sure that they were not processed in the same plant as wheat, because there is cross-contamination. That dang wheat dust is sneaky and will cling onto oats. So my mini-quiche wasn't entirely gluten free, but it was a decent first attempt.

How I did this:


3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup almond flour
4 tbsps earth balance
3 tbsps almond milk


4 eggs
1 onion, chopped and slightly fried in olive oil
2 tbsps almond milk
3 tbsps pesto
1 tbsp grainy mustard
some ground pepper
(I just realized that I forgot the parmesan cheese, but I was going for non-dairy. if you're ok with dairy, parmesan makes it even more tasty)

The beginning of my gluten-free experience: The crust was really crumbly, and I had a feeling it would remain that way while baking. I had a few strategies in making the quiche in the mini muffins tins, all well greased with earth balance:

- Go traditional, put the crust at the bottom of the tin and bake before filling. There was no way my almond crust was going up the sides of the tins, picture stubborn like a terrier. I don't recommend this way, the stubborn remains and it's impossible to get the crust off once cooked in one piece.

- Put some of the egg filling in the bottom, put a layer of the crust, flattened in between your fingers, then add some more filling, followed by more flattened crust on top. This is a pain and silly, don't do this.

- Fill the tins with the softened onions and eggs mixture, then roll little balls of the crust and drop on top. This was the best strategy, there was no crust stuck to the pan, so you can maximize the yummy crust experience.

I reached 36 mini-quiches. It was exhausting, I did it in two batches, and made another normal sized quiche. I slept in between the two batches. Crazy. Here is the result:

I only took the minis to the potluck. Everyone enjoyed them, or at least the love me enough to tell me that they did. I loved all of their food, and not just because I love them. I've never seen so many creative quinoa salads in one spot. We filled a table with many savouries and sweets, and left with satisfied tummies.

Thank you lovies, for the food, for the good times, and for being part of this journey. You'll always have a special place in my heart, and I hope we do more crazy stuff together.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kuniks and Kakivaks: Pangnirtung Youth Council Book Club

This is not a food post.

Ok, if you insist, we'll start it off as a food post. I'm open to trying new foods, at least once. I thank my mum for this. She encouraged me to try everything at least once, so I do. This is a valuable lesson when you decide that you want to travel internationally. You never know what you're going to encounter:

Jambon persil (ham and parsley in a gelatin loaf): not really my cup of tea
Escargots: Yes!!!!
Callos (cows stomach with garbanzo beans): a little too salty for my taste
Gazpacho (a cold, tomato-based soup): Give me more, give me more!

Just to name a few, I could go further.

The way I see food is the way I see education: limitless. You don't know where you can actually get to, what you can actually achieve, unless you reach for something, because that something that you achieve will lead you to something else. Which is why I'm posting this (almost) non-food post.

My friend Tommy lives in Pangnirtung (Pang). I lived here on and off while growing up, when I was 2, 7, 9, 12, 14, 21 and 22, for a total of about 4.5 years. Confused? If you really care to become unconfused, you can buy me coffee, and I'll draw my life for you in map-form and you'll understand. But on to the point of this post:

Tommy has a blog called Kuniks and Kakivaks, and he blogs his perspective on all things Inuit/youth/north related. I read his blog regularly, and today's post got me wanting to share.

When I was 12, I spent half of my summer in the Pang library. This library hasn't changed much since then, it's a room about the size of your bedroom, with shelves lining the perimeter, and tables in the middle, you can imagine the extent of the content. Pretty limited. Tommy wants to help the youth of Pang develop a book club, which I think is pretty cool, and I want to help him. You can check out his idea here:

Kuniks and Kakivaks: Pangnirtung Youth Council Book Club

If you are in Ottawa, and want to donate a book, contact me. I'll figure out how to get the goods to Tommy and his crew.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Summer of Beers

Since making the first gazpacho of the season, my creativity has not been at it's height. My days have started off with a carrot cake smoothie, lunch is a sandwich or salad, and dinner is broken into two parts with something before walking the dog, and then something after yoga. If you take anything from this blog, it should be: don't eat too much before yoga.

The weather has been delicious, on-and-off of course in typical Canadian style. This has made for a busier social life, often involving a patio. In celebration of the arrival of patio, I will focus on the microbrews that Ontario and Quebec have to offer our palates. I am in no way a beer expert, I just like the stuff. I love to try new ones, especially microbrews. I will share with you the beers that I enjoy with friends, and my interpretation of the flavours.

For May long-weekend, I headed to a cottage with some friends, located in Ontario's Cottage Country. This of course was the perfect opportunity to take the first shots of frothy goodness. We picked up a case of a proud "cottage brewery". It would appear that they are really relaxed up there, or we just got there too early and they were trying to get rid of last year's stock:

See the irony? A past expiry date (purchased May 22), right next to their declaration of Committed to Freshness.

We'll move on. Creemore Springs has become a pretty well known beer over the last few years, it's got a rich, creamy texture and flavour. It's now widely available on patios throughout Ottawa, or if you're heading to a BBQ, you can pick up an eight pack of cans. While browsing the selection on the way to the cottage, my eyes fell upon this:

Kellerbier. The can does not lie, it IS generously hopped. It really went well with that afternoon on the dock, with the occasional jump in the water (don't worry, the beer chose to stay on the dock, not a drop was sacrificed). It has almost a coffee flavour to it, not overwhelming; you could have two of these and not be complaining that it's too heavy.

Overall, the Kellerbier by Creemore Springs is a must try for this summer. Invite yourself to a friend's place for a BBQ and bring some, you'll be allowed to invite yourself back!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The first gazpacho of the season

The weather here in Canada's capital this week was glorious. Temperatures hovered around 20, it was sunny with a light breeze. My neighbour J and I recently bought bikes, I call mine Jean Bean the Flying Machine:

Isn't she glorious? Neighbour J and I coincidently work together. On the Dark Side. Monday morning she texted me at 7:00am asking if I wanted to bike to work. Ok, let's do it. Her bike is the same 7-speed cruiser as Jean Bean, only in PINK. It's a 20-minute ride across the river to our cubicles. On day three, after making a previous-night's trip to the supermarket, it was time for the first gazpacho of the season.

Gazpacho, you say. It's a cold, tomato based soup from the south of Spain. It is an essential at lunch during summer in Andalusia, often served in a glass. If it is served in a bowl, you sometimes have the option of toppings, like chopped up veggies, to sprinkle on top. Not to mention piquitos, which are small breadsticks. I learned a lot during my time in Spain; Spanish should probably be listed as the most significant. How to make a mean gazpacho is a close second. Spanish J and I spent many hours, tomatoes and assorted vegetables in our attempts to get the perfect blend of flavour and texture. For BBQs we would make 3+ litres of the stuff, and it would be gone with our friends asking for more. I am now attempting that amazingness in the Magic Bullet. Single serving fresh gazpacho? Yes, please!

You can see the morning light coming through the kitchen window in this prep shot:

A list of what you see in that mug:

2 tomatoes, quartered
1/4 red pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 carrot, cut into chunks
a hearty dose of olive oil
a healthy splash of red wine vinegar
a dash of salt
cold water, to the top of the glass

Put the blade on, and zap until smooth. Result:

For the first time, I employed the Magic Bullet cover. This is where the bike comes in. I then put the gazpacho into that cute wicker basket you see on the front of Jean Bean, and rode to work. It all sounds so romantic, right? Much nicer than something like: "I packed my lunch in some Tupperware and ate it on the Dark Side."

Gazpacho makes the world a brighter place. Or maybe it's the sunshine that allows for the maturing of rich, flavourful tomatoes that can be made into yummy lunches. Add some tinto de verano in there, and you may as well have yourself a day at the beach!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Carrot Cake Smoothie? Yes, please!

A few weeks ago, my birthday and Christmas came early. I went to the post office and picked up a package that I could smell from a few metres away.

I'm sure you've all heard of Living Social Deals at this point. They had one for tea a while back, as I went to check out the website for tea, I realized that the company offering the deal is actually focused on the Nectar of the Gods. "Freshly Roasted Whole Bean Coffees & Loose Leaf Teas Delivered to you door" they promised. Sold. I called Be'ato and asked for some recommendations before ordering. My selection:

That's right, I ordered 3kg of coffee and three assorted teas. I'm making my way through the dixie voodoo. I do not have a fancy coffee maker, I use my Magic Bullet grinder, and I drink the stuff black. It's got a fantastic, rich flavour, and half a litre insists on making it's way into my system before leaving in the morning. If you're thinking about ordering coffee online, definitely try Be'ato. They're from Calgary and have a $13.95 shipping fee if you're outside of Alberta.

For Oslo lovers out there, he would like you to know that he loves carrots. Here he is enjoying one this morning:

Ears back, chops out, paws spread. That's love. I know what you're asking: Why was he eating a carrot at 7a.m.? Isn't that peanut butter time?

It normally is, my friends. But yesterday, I was inspired to come up with a new smoothie. The Carrot Cake Smoothie. At this point you may be reminiscent of the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. Back in the pre-Magic Bullet days.

Carrot Cake Smoothie ingredients:
1 carrot, peeled, top given to the dog
1 banana
vanilla almond milk
2 spoonfuls of tofutti cream cheese spread (or Philly if that's your style)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (I put about a tsp and 1/4tsp respectively)
a little bit of maple syrup

Drum roll please....

This turned out to be a blissful marriage of carrot cake and smoothie. It'll give you the energy you need to ride public transit in the morning, or whatever else you might be doing. It'll satisfy that sweet tooth that's been aching. It'll be even better than that cake that you bought just cos it had cut little icing carrots on top. I may have to send this recipe to the NDP as a suggestion for their official drink. With a promise for coffee subsidies of some sort of course.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lunch prep

I've been crap about preparing my lunch to take to work lately. This morning I grabbed an avocado from the table and left. Yes, just an avocado. Of course I ended up getting a sandwich from the food court and adding my avocado to it. It was delicious, but not ideal. Today I stumbled upon a listing of America's Top 10 New Sandwiches - then the veganized version of them. It inspired me to start producing some mean sandwiches in my kitchen. Like anyone, I love a good sandwich. Yet somehow I rarely have bread on hand (ok, I don't keep bread in my kitchen because I'll eat it all within 12 hours of buying it.) and never have cold cuts (if you've been reminded of your family's history of heart issues but love cold cuts, don't go to the Sodium 101 website). Maybe there is something in the air, but I've been trying out new ingredients lately, so when I saw that Your Vegan Mom made her own mortadella, I decided to try it out. This required a trip to the grocery store, with a list and the balls to ask the bitchy girls who work there for their assistance. You know which grocery store I'm talking about. Things that were on my list: Firm Silken Tofu Bragg's Liquid Aminos Nutritional Yeast Mace Vital Wheat Gluten After asking questions, getting half-assed answers and doing some soul searching, I had everything on the list except for Bragg's Liquid Aminos. I substituted this with less soy sauce, as I Googled what it was and that's what liquid aminos are a substitute for. Ok, maybe liquid aminos has more protein, so I added a bit more tofu. If my mortadella ends up tasting like a maki gone wrong, I'll let you know. The recipe: 1 14-ounce package firm silken tofu 1/4 cup olive oil a little less than 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup red wine 2 tbsps white wine vinegar 2 tbsps maple syrup 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp white pepper 1 tsp ground mace 1 tsp ground coriander 2 cups vital wheat gluten The original recipe also called for olives. I forgot olives though, so this "meat" loaf should probably be called processed non-ham opposed to mortadella. Mix everything into a food processor except for the vital wheat gluten. Blend until almost smooth with little chunks of tofu to mimic the fat in mortadella. Realize that you have no aluminum foil, put on your Nikes and dash to the Quickie mart to get some. Jest with the guy working there when he asks if you're a new employee at the Italian restaurant next door. When you get home, mix the vital wheat gluten into your tofu mixture until you have a soft dough. Mold it into an oblong shape, and wrap in aluminum foil. Place in a dish and bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. The result: I am quite satisifed that it came out looking like a processed loaf of meat, very similar to what you would see in the deli at the supermarket! You may as well make use of the 2 hours that your mortadella is cooking. I chose to do laundry, and make foccacia:

I haven't tasted any of this yet, so expect a lunch sandwich post soon. Time to enjoy the freshly laundered sheets that are also a result of this evening, ahhhh...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Water. I don't even know where to start.

I really like water. I think that it stems from drinking water from the kuuk (river) in Pang when I was little. The water from the kuuk is the perfect temperature, so cold, but not freezing so that it gives you an ice cream headache. My grandfather had enamel mugs that we would take on picnics, and the water tasted amazing out of them, fresh out of the river.

I average around 3 litres per day right now. Depending on where I am and what I'm doing that amount goes up or down. I get comments like:

"How do you not spend the whole day in the bathroom?"
"I'd be floating."
"I'd be bloated."
"I need something with flavour."
"You know you can drink too much water, right?"

The recommended daily intake is 2 litres a day. This is consumed through foods and beverages besides drinking water. Some people need more, some people need less. If you know me in real life and ever have any sort of complaint, headache, sore back, tired, sore throat, sore or tired anything really, you probably know that my response will be: Drink more water. I'm not saying you should drink 3 litres of water a day, but at least get enough in there to keep your muscles hydrated and your eyes open.

On a daily basis in terms of liquid, I will start off with 2-3 cups of coffee, a smoothie, and then move on to water. If you knew me before a year and a half ago, you know that orange juice was an essential for me. Then I started to read "Squeezed". I say started as I was really busy at the time and had to return it to the library before I got to finish it. The beginning of that book was enough to get me to give up orange juice. I used to buy the cartons of orange juice, knowing that the flavour was completely different from freshly squeezed, though never thinking about why that was. I'll still have some freshly squeezed when it's available, but don't expect to find a carton of OJ in my fridge anymore.

Back to the water. I love water bottles. I've had every style of Nalgene available, both pre- and post-BPA, Kleen Kanteens, and who knows what else. Then I found these:

They're For Cold Beverages Only bottles by Thermos. They're the God of water bottles. They're insulated, so they don't sweat. They've got a wide mouth so they're easy to clean with a brush. The cap has a pop top that locks, so you can toss it in your bag and not worry about it opening, and it's easy to pop open while you're working out. And they keep your water cool in hot yoga. Gold.

So, you drink lots of water, coffee, and the only other (non-alcoholic) flavoured beverage you consume is a smoothie? Don't you ever want any other (non-alcoholic) flavour?

Good question. I don't drink pop, juice, or milk. Too much added sugar, and sweetener makes me want to gag. But you're right, sometimes I want something a little more interesting, going beyond adding lemon or lime to my water. In thinking of what I could drink that didn't have all sorts of artificial colours, flavours, added sugar, sweetener, and didn't cost me $3 for 398ml (the price of coconut water in Canada), I realized: I like iced tea. Iced tea comes from real tea. I can make that. So I did:

I've tried a couple of different herbal teas, this is my favourite so far, wild berries by tetley. How to make:

Make some tea
Let it cool a bit
Pour into pitched filled with ice
Put in fridge and have it ready to drink
Pour yourself a glass or bottle
Squeeze juice of a key lime into your iced tea

Enjoy. Smack your lips. Share with friends. It's got a zesty, fruity flavour, it's refreshing. Delicious. I'll keep trying more flavours, stay tuned, I may even make it hockey inspired:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Innovative Sunday

This weekend I decided to try out M-F's recipe for Vegan Pate. I know what you're thinking, VEGAN pate? Are you allowed to use those two words together in a sentence? Yes, my friend, you are. And they go together quite nicely.

I changed up the original recipe a little bit, accommodating for what I had or had not on hand.

4 cups cooked green lentils (original recipe called for 3, I just made the whole bag as it was smaller than normal. Ok, I'll admit, maybe my original intention was to save some to make lentil burgers, but all 4 cups went into the mixture in the fury that appears in my 1.5sq/ft of counter space when I'm cooking)
2 medium-large sized onions
4-5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup basil
8-10 sundried tomatoes
1 cup TVP (original recipe called for 2 boxes of mushrooms. I had no mushrooms, and I figured that their main purpose was for texture, so I threw in some TVP, it was my first time using this. Note my main reason for using it as a substitute was that the T stands for texture and that's what I felt I needed in this recipe)
2 tbsp hemp seed (original recipe called for 1 cup sunflower seeds, which I did not have. Hemp seed is tasty and rich in essential fatty acids, like the omegas. I only used 2 tbsp as that's all I had left)
Olive oil to taste
Salt to taste

Longest ingredient list yet, even though there are only 8 items. In a pan, soften the chopped onions and garlic in the coconut oil. This was my first time cooking with coconut oil. I had used it in cookies or something before, I was excited to see how the flavour worked with savoury! While that's cooking, rehydrate your TVP. As I said, this was my first time using TVP. They're little granuals, I bought Bob's Red Mill brand from the hippy section of my regular supermarket. You rehydrate it by adding 7/8 cup boiling water to 1 cup of the TVP. 7/8ths?! My thoughts exactly.

Add all of your ingredients together, if you have a regular sized food processor, you could use that here. If you have a mini one, as I do, use a hand blender. Blend until you have an even texture throughout. Taste, adding salt as needed. Spread into a baking dish, and place in a 300F pre-heated oven for 1 hour. The result:

It really does have the texture of pate. I might cook it for a little less than 1 hour next time so as not to get such a crunchy outer texture. It's yummy. It's light. It's easy. It's flavourful. The coconut works in this, it's not overpowering, so for those of you thinking that you won't make this recipe because you fear it will taste like tanning oil, drop the argument. It's just a hint of sweetness that makes the savouries go *pop*.

I had brunch at Murray Street Kitchen with a couple of girlfriends today. This is my favourite place for brunch in Ottawa. You have to make reservations as it's always busy. With good reason. They serve up innovative Canadian food, and every dish on the menu is $13. Today I had the smoked fish:

"In house hot smoked Whalesbone fish, vegetable & cheese scramble, in-house herb biscuit"

The featured fish was smoked trout. Yum. Their coffee is also delicious, and it's a bottomless cup. That's my idea of heaven right there. To top it all off, the service is good. Tip those good people!

So my friend A was telling us about how she's been having an awful lot of difficulty getting up in the morning. For those of you who know me, you realize one of the things that A and I bond over. One thing she said stood out to me:

"I'm thinking about setting up a timed coffee maker on my bedside table to see if that helps."

This one's for you, A:

Yes, that's my bedside table. I'll let you decide if this was for a photo-op only, or if that timer is on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Seconds? Yes, please!

My cousin R was in town today and my mum brought him over for a visit. I decided to feed them, and my friend B. On Sunday I had decided to buy things for a few different dishes, in other words, a ton of food. One of the planned dishes was something called pasta-less lasagna. Say what you like about it, it's delicious. Really delicious. I was excited to share this with other people.

There are three parts to this dish: zucchini strips, they're your pasta "replacement", quinoa yumminess, the "meat", and tomato sauce.

Start with your quinoa:
1 cup rinsed quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup-ish minced onion

put these ingredients into a pot, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the quinoa has fluffed.

Meanwhile, slice your zucchini into long slices to make "noodles". Chop 1/4 cup each of fresh basil and parsley.

By now your quinoa is probably ready. Check it, then mix in your basil, parsley, and a couple of tablespoons of Tofutti cream cheese. Or regular cream cheese, whatever tickles your fancy. Taste this and see if you need anymore seasoning. Ok, stop, you need to leave some for your lasagna.

Start layering in your pan! First layer: tomato sauce, (I used Classico, what? I haven't infiltrated one of these families that makes their own for the year every September!). Second layer: zucchini noodles. Third layer: quinoa yumminess. Repeat until you're out of ingredients. Top with shredded cheese. Or soy cheese. :D Place in a 400 degree pre-heated over for 30 minutes.

About 10 minutes into cooking time I realized that I had no bread. I live close to a couple of bakeries and considered running to one of them, but then remember that I had some pizza dough in the fridge. I decided to make focaccia. Maybe it's not focaccia by definition, but that's what I called it. I rubbed some olive oil on the stretched out pizza dough, then seasoned it with salt, oregano, onion powder and then I crushed some garlic on top as I realized that there was no garlic in my dinner. What?! I stuck this in the oven with the lasagna with 10 minutes to go. It came out crunchy and light, delicious!

This was a hit with the friend and fam. Seconds were eaten and my focaccia gobbled. I didn't offer anyone the leftovers to go. No way, Tupperware Life is the destination for those leftovers!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is for my people

Sunday night was a bit of a cooking extravaganza. After rearranging and cleaning out my kitchen, it felt like time to celebrate by using every pot and pan, and all 1.5 sq feet of counter space that I have. Ok, maybe I nearly achieve that second part with my Magic Bullet each morning.

I had caribou in my freezer that my mum gave me. I had beer. And I had carrots. It was time to make the semi-annual meat dish! By coincidence, I made the same recipe that I did almost exactly a year ago: Beef in Beer. I switched up a couple of things, like a can of Guinness for a can of some other tall boy that I had in the fridge, and I used caribou instead of beef.

Last year, it appears that I did not blog about the dumpling part of this recipe. This is likely because dumplings are not my forte. The recipe that I followed called for suet as a fat base. Suet, according to Wikipedia, is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys. Right. Well, there was a decent amount of fat on the caribou that I had, so that was going to be used. In Inuktitut we call this tunnuq, the texture is amazing when it's raw and frozen.

What when into my dumplings:

about 3/4 cup flour
a pinch of baking powder
2 tbsp chopped parsley
about 2 tbsp chopped tunnuq

Last time I did these dumplings I used vegetable oil. Both times the dumplings were mediocre, I know that I'm doing something wrong, I just don't understand The Dumpling. With this recipe, you should add the dumplings to the pot after 1 3/4 hours of cooking, and let it cook for another half hour.

Here is the dish, unfortunately I didn't take a picture when it looked steamy and delicious in the baking dish, but when it was cold, and already in Tupperware life:

It was yummy, it smelled amazing, the caribou was perfect. Things that I would change that I did this time:

Definitely use Guinness. You cannot substitute this. I'm sure there are many people out there who would agree with this on so many levels.

I'd learn how to make a proper dumpling, fluffy and flavourful.

Other than that, it was A+ as my semi-annual meat dish!