Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Empty Month

Due to medical reasons too boring to get into on this blog (don't worry, I'm not dying or anything) I have been put on a very... interesting diet for the month of January. I have become a walking caricature: no dairy, no soy, no gluten, no corn (might as well start crossfit while I'm at it). Also, a whole host of other non-trendy things to avoid - of particular interest to regular blog readers, no red kidney beans or lentils.

Needless to say, this is a bit of a shock. Any one of the above would be a big change, but all combined just seem a bit ridiculous. Basically all my conventional protein sources are gone, along with essentially all fake meats (But what about Daiya you say. It has pea powder in it. Peas are also on the verboten list because why not). Beer and scotch, my alcohol favourites, are offline.

Most restaurants are no-go, as there's corn syrup, butter or soy sauce (depending on the restaurant) in so many things. Even at home, there are going to be big changes in what I eat. Of the six meals on this blog's front page, all are vegan yet all would run afoul of the new regulations.

However, things aren't that bad (and not just because this is a very trivial problem in the grand scheme of things). I'm not completely vegan because I can eat eggs, so that's a protein source right there. Same with nuts. Chickpeas are still in the green list and there are all sorts of other high-protein beans I can try. Like Mung Beans! That's a thing.

And even though all the recipes on the front page were offside, they can be reigned in. In some cases, it's as simple as not adding soy sauce.

Moreover, it's a good opportunity to try new things and really think about what I'm eating. Like this noodle soup that I whipped up.


I'm not going to blog the recipe because it was very spur of the moment, but the broth was veggie stock with mushrooms, red wine and cayenne pepper. It tasted good and fit all the new criteria.

I was going to blog about recipes under the label "The Empty Month". But after thinking about it, "The Experimental Month" is much more apt (and optimistic).

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Dinner

Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Especially this year, as Hanukkah was at the same time (so it's very ecumenical). To celebrate, we had an traditional Christmas feast - or as traditional as one can do when one is vegetarian.

The main protein was a Tofurky - slathered in a generous amount of coconut oil and slow-roasted. Not being stingy with the coconut oil is key, as this was the tenderest Tofurky ever (in our experiences - your results may vary).

My partner made delicious puff pastry tarts stuffed with vegan brie and cranberry sauce (you can see the leftover cranberry sauce on the table).

I made a salad with a sriracha vinaigrette, but what I was most proud of was the vegan mashed potatoes.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes



Oil
3 pounds Potatoes (a starchy type like Idaho or Russet)
1.5 cups white wine
Dash of hot mustard
Salt and pepper

Dump the potatoes (unpeeled!) into a pot and fill with water. Bring to a boil and add some salt. Cook for 15-30 minutes. Periodically stab the potatoes and when there's no resistance they're done. Drain in a colander.

If you want you can let dry for a bit and then wrap in tinfoil and store in the fridge. Or, you can start on part 2 right away.

Put some oil in the pot over medium-low heat for about a minute. Then, add the potatoes and start mashing away with a suitable instrument (something that looks like this). Add the wine, salt, pepper and mustard and keep on mashing until you get the right consistency.


Serves 6

The potatoes were really nice and fluffy and I didn't miss the milk/butter at all. Because there were plenty of leftovers, we got to have mashed potatoes in the days to come. I even tried some unsuccessful food experiments with them which will not be blogged (because unsuccessful).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Kimchi Fried Rice

Fried rice. It sounds unhealthy. And yet unlike other fried foods which evoke some seedy diner, fried rice is quick and wholesome. It's not particularly fried.

One of the nice things about fried rice is that it's a great use for leftover rice, rice that's had a chance to sit is an even better ingredient. While you can often just throw veggies that were in your fridge the below recipe relies on a hit of kimchi for a hit of extra flavour.

Kimchi Fried Rice
















1 cup rice
1 head broccoli or cauliflower
1 block tofu
1 small bell pepper, diced
2 eggs

1.5 cups wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
pepper
4 cloves garlic
2 cups kimchi
Drizzle of sriracha

Put the rice on in the rice cooker or stove (despite what I said above about using leftover rice, I've given the amount for the dry rice). As the rice is on, cook the broccoli/cauliflower and pepper on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the tofu a little afterwards.

During this time, you can make the sauce (just whisk the wine, soy sauce, pressed garlic and pepper together). Once the rice is done, add a little oil to another pan and sautee the rice in it on medium-high. After a minute or so, create a little "pocket" in the middle of the rice and crack the eggs into it. Then stir the eggs and rice together.

Next, add the tofu/veggies and the sauce to the rice and stir together. Finally, add the kimchi and cook together until the kimchi's warmed up.

Drizzle sriracha over it and serve.

Serves 5

The kimchi is Daebak brand Kimchi, which is vegan and - I assume - fair trade.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Try It Again: Non-chilly chili

Six years. Yeah, it's been a while since my last post. While the world's changed a lot in that time, people still have to eat. So I thought I'd restart this blog with - hopefully - better photography. We'll see.

2342 days ago I launched a feature called "Try It Again", where I'd redo one of my older recipes. So today, I'll refresh one of my classic recipes: non-chilly chili. The problem with my original recipe was unnecessary complexity: there were multiple steps. If any recipe cried out for just dumping all the ingredients in a pot it's this one.

Chili con tofu


Oil
1 Onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Chili pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1-2 tablespoon(s) assorted chili powders
3 cans assorted assorted beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole tomatoes with juice (28-ounce)
1/2 block frozen firm tofu, frozen for a few hours, thawed (takes about a day), pressed and crumbled

Sauté the onion in the oil for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add all other ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serves 6

I like to have some black beans and chickpeas in the chili. The beauty of chili is its endless customizability. I put a half a cup of edamame this time and it worked out great. When I'm serving this at a dinner party I like to top it with some diced avocado.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bonus Birthday Bean Blog Bonanza

As you have probably ascertained, this blog has fallen into a long sleep. More like a coma actually. There are several reasons for this, most of them boring and job-related, but the fact remains that this blog has basically shuffled off this mortal coil. However, it’s a reader and friend’s birthday today so I decided to post as a birthday present (a not particularly great present, granted).

So here’s a two-in-one blog post about the garden and a recipe. And what better way to harken back to days of yore than some absorption pasta with an ugly brown mess of beans on top of it?

Pasta with Fava Beans

  • 1 cup pasta
  • 2 cups water
  • shot of hot sauce
  • oil
  • 1 cup fava beans
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fermented black bean sauce
  • 1 chili pepper, diced.
  • glass of nice Chianti (optional)

    Cook the pasta using the absorption style method and add some hot sauce. Put the oil in a skillet on medium heat and add the beans, soy sauce, fermented black bean sauce. Mash the beans together with the flat end of a spatula. Cook for a few minutes and then add the diced chili. When the pasta has absorbed almost all the water, add the bean mixture and stir until it has a healthy consistency.

    Serves 1.

    The chili plant has grown even more robustly than it had in the last entry, even as my other plants have withered and died (the mother-in-law’s tongues are doing alright, natch).

    Until very recently though, no chilies were produced. Then I did some research and found out that in order to produce chilies, chili plants need to pollinated by insects. To reproduce this effect (no pun intended) – I used a q-tip to move pollen from one flower to another. It knocked several of them off, but within a week I had several chilies – one of which has turned a beautiful orange.

    And now, gentle reader(s?), I return the blog to its slumber.
  • Sunday, July 18, 2010

    My Garden

    The observant reader may have noticed that the last three entries on this blog contained copious amounts of basil. Have I won some form of basil lottery that provided me with such bounty? In a way, yes. I have recreated my garden, this time in rooftop form.

    This displays half of the garden: my chives, chili plants and parsley. The chili plants are, so far, the most robust. Yet, they have not produced even the smallest chili. I was ready to give up on them, until a few days ago when I spied a flower opening up. I've only used the chives and parsley as garnish. And I only use garnish when entertaining, which I have only done once so far in my new apartment. Still, even that means that they are pulling their weight more than the chilies so far, though hopefully that will change.

    As mentioned, the basil is separately potted. One of the basil plants has done quite well; the other species shriveled and died. I blame society. Still, the basil has been the workhorse of the plants, in that it provides actual value add for stuff I'm cooking.

    The garden is rounded out by some houseplants which have the rather evocative name of Mother-in-Law's Tongue or Snake Plant. They stand tall and apparently remove formaldehyde from the air. We'll see how they all work together to build a better tomorrow.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    Salsa Cruda Pasta

    Perhaps my favourite line from Mark Bittman's book was from his recipe for linguine with raw tomato sauce (and basil). You could use good-quality canned tomatoes, he said, "it won't be the same, but it won't be bad (do not, however, use dried basil, here or anywhere else). And since I have some basil plants and my parents gave me a thing of cherry tomatoes from the market, I knew I should use his recipe as a base for a meal.

    Pasta With Raw Tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp basil leaves, tightly packed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup pasta
  • 2.25 cups water
    Cook the pasta – I used my absorption style method. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, basil, oil, salt and pepper and mash with a fork. With a few minutes to go on the pasta toss in the garlic. When the pasta is done, top with the sauce and serve.

    Serves 1.

    I should probably give a note on the water/pasta ratio. Because I was using fusilli instead of a more tightly packed together pasta my cup overfloweth, as they say. As is I wont, I measure out pasta by filling a plate with the dried stuff. The ratio does not scale up, 2 cups of pasta for 4.5 cups of water would leave excess water (though again, that's not necessarily a problem).
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