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!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Now that's an ugly vegetable

Before I get to the ugly vegetable, I have an update on the beloved organic veggie box. I had gotten an email about three weeks ago saying that the company was making some changes, and they hoped to be back in 2 weeks. Last week I called to get an update, and unfortunately the company has gone out of business. This is a disappointment as we all know how much I loved the organic veggie box. I'm thinking about looking into a community supported agriculture program, once they're available for the season, if you have any suggestions, let me know!

Onto the ugly vegetable...

I've seen a few recipes calling for an ingredient called a Jerusalem artichoke. I had never seen this in the grocery store, so never had the chance to try it. A few months ago I noticed that they're available at the hippy grocery store in my neighbourhood. No wonder regular grocery stores don't carry these things, look at them:

They kind of look like ginger, but with more knobs. And they were stored in water, so their skin is kind of translucent. It's really not visually appealing whatsoever. Even as I cut into them and watched the knobs fall off, I was kind of shuddered. But true to the word of one of my recipe books, the texture is just like any other root vegetable:

A knob fell onto the floor as I was cutting these up, and Oslo gobbled it up. Of course he was right by my feet waiting for something to drop.

I made a soup out of these Jerusalem artichokes, to start:

1 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery

Chop and put these into a pot with some olive oil, let them soften for 5 minutes or so. Add your chopped Jerusalem artichokes and let it all soften for another 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of stock (I used veggie), some pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Add a cup of milk (I used almond milk), and zap with a hand blender until smooth:

It was 11pm by the time this was done, so I only had a taste so far. The flavour was sharper than you would expect for a pureed soup of this colour, it almost has a refreshing hint to it. I'm really excited to try this tomorrow at lunch, especially since I won't have to look at it's original form. This is a perfect example of why one should not judge a book by it's cover.