What’s cooking

I just realized I have completed forgotten to take any photos of recent meals so this post is not going to be too visually-exciting.

But I have been cooking my way through three new cookbooks. I took all of these out from the library to start to see if I need my own copy. “My New Roots” has been added to my own collection – not only is the food elegant and tasty but the photography is show stopping! 

From “But I Could Never Go Vegan” from the blogger behind Keeping It Kind I made:

  • Carrot Cumin Pate – I brought this to work for a Halloween snack get-together and everyone was digging in and it received many compliments.
  • Balsamic Maple Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato – just ok
  • Potato and Pea Samosa Cakes – these were excellent and really easy
  • Sesame-sriracha tofu sandwiches – Brent (the spicy fan) really enjoyed these. Very versatile too, not just for sandwiches
  • Chickpea omelets – another one that Brent enjoyed a bit more than I did
  • Lentil, chard and sweet potato curry – even I found this one a bit bland, but that can be fixed with some added spices
  • Savoury overnight quinoa oatmeal – neither of us were a bit fan of this

A bit of a mixed review for the first book – so I’ve jotted down a few of the other recipes I want to try and will come back to again in the future. Book #2 is Whole Grain Mornings. Lots of cute sweet stories to go along with breakfast recipes. Every since my trip to 26 Grains I’ve been stuck in a moment with porridge and oatmeal so this book was a great find. Less great is the rut that happens when the time changes so mornings have not been super productive for me so I’ve only ventured to “The Very Best Oatmeal” which definitely lives up to its name as does the suggestion to make a double batch and then re-heat throughout the week.

Can you tell I’ve been making a lot of vegan recipes lately?

“My New Roots” is a beautiful book from the blog of the same name. I’ve made a few of her blog recipes over the years so I was excited for this to come out. Most of the recipes do require a bit of time or pre-planning so it’s not quite as easy to make on a whim, but when you do make it I think it’s worth it. I hosted a small dinner party last week and made Roasted Butternut Squash with Grilled Halloumi and Dukkah on Kale. It was so good – I made it again last weekend! Dukkah is an egyptian spice seasoning that did take quite a bit of time to prepare (and I should have done ahead of time), but it was well worth it and now I have lots more for other toppings. I’m looking forward to making many more of these recipes soon.

And a few others from a variety of other sources:

  • Hot for Food’s strawberry cheesecake bites – I also made these for my dinner party. Really quick and easy to make and then able to serve whenever you are ready.
  • Tofu and Black Bean Burger from Chatelaine. I’m a texture person, and the texture here didn’t really work for me.
  • Roasted Red Pepper mac and cheese – one of those nights where the darkness so early was getting to me and I wanted some good old mac and cheese, but decided to see if I could jazz it up with some ingredients I had in the house – and this worked really well!
  • A staple these fall days has been lentils. This Zucchini Red-Lentil Curry from Dishing up The Dirt was tasty as was the Crockpot Red Lentil Curry from Pinch of Yum. The last one I cut the recipe in half and still had it for days – but it was good even on toast for lunch!

Well that has made me pretty hungry – off to find a snack!

#VeggieTravels to London, England

The second stop on our recent vacation was to London, England. It was a return visit for both of us so we were more than happy to spend a bit of time doing some more “local” type activities (apart from the London Eye which neither of us had done before so we were happy to ride in Rugby World Cup themed pod at sunset!)

Our second day in London was completely curated by Deliciously Ella and her Guide to London’s Best Health Spots. Who better to take advice from then a local vegetarian blogger turned cookbook author and soon to be restauranteur!

  For breakfast we ventured to 26 Grains. I was eager to go, but also a bit skeptical – this place only serves porridge! But the combinations and options (sweet, savoury, warm, cold) were fantastic and I was completely sold. Maybe it was the adorable little courtyard (Neal’s Yard) near Covent Garden, maybe it was the beautiful sunny morning, but there was something special happening.
  Also the decor was A+ – loved the rustic wood, chalkboards, flowers and communal seating. It felt like a place where you were instantly at home. I enjoyed the Hazelnut and Butter porridge (I think I was so overwhelmed I went back to the first option!) which was so yummy. Brent went the savoury route and had the Egg & Kale and was equally happy. I have had many thoughts since about the need for Ottawa to have a porridge-only place – I mean it is winter here for most of the year right….

26 Grains #VeggieTravels Report Card

Décor and Atmosphere: A+

Variety of Options: A

Quality of Food: A+

FINAL REVIEW: A+

And these bowls kept us filled up well into the early afternoon as we made our way across the city (and through the Tower of London) to the Borough Market.
 I love farmer’s markets – and what a great way to experience a city. There was a ton to see! And just on the perimeter was Ella’s suggested lunch option – Wok It.

  We eat a lot of stir frys at home (a great way to use up things in your fridge) so I start to crave them pretty quickly when on vacation. And this spot did not disappoint. The portions were enormous! Lots of great options and yummy sauces (and funky wallpaper!)
  We both had a variation on the Veg Pot but with different sauces (B got the black bean bbq and I had the coconut curry). His sauce selection was better than mine but these cool cups of noodles were both gobbled down quickly. 

WokIt #VeggieTravels Report Card

Décor and Atmosphere: A

Variety of Options: A

Quality of Food: A

FINAL REVIEW: A

We weren’t planning to make a special dinner trip out on this same day, but when we started to get hungry and figured out what part of the city we were in we realized that we were just around the corner from Mildred’s – the dinner suggestion from Ella – and how could that not mean it was meant to be?

We almost missed it with some exterior construction underway, but inside they had their recipe book (which we flipped through and I’ve made note of some I want to go back to in the future) and I snapped a shot of the sketch of their normal entry.
  This place was popular! Very very minimal decor, but you could tell it was much-beloved by many of our surrounding diners.We started with a small plate of the rose harrisa hoummus, smokey babaganoush and chargrilled flatbread (Yes, just yes). For our mains we shared both the halloumi burger with chargrilled aubergine, harissa and tahini in flatbread and the black bean and tomatillo rice buritto with ranchero sauce and grilled cheese, smashed avocado, sour cream and pico de gallo. The food was all good and there was variety, but nothing too unique or special – I would describe it as a very good vegetarian restaurant, but not somewhere to go out of your way towards.

Mildred’s #VeggieTravels Report Card

Décor and Atmosphere: B

Variety of Options: A-

Quality of Food: A

FINAL REVIEW: B+

Playing Catch-up

Coming back from vacation is always a challenge – especially when you catch a bug on the return trip as I did last week. Jet lag, a weakened system and many many emails at work has left me just trying to keep up, but I do want to make sure I get in at least one post each week!

My future #VeggieTravels will be coming soon, but first what’s cooking this week?

After being on the road I was craving some good home-cooking!

For breakfasts this week it’s been Coconut almond flaxseed muffins from Hip Foodie Mom. I had greek yogurt in the fridge and used that in place of yogurt which left these muffins very hearty and dense (probably too much actually). The taste is good though – I’ll be making them again sometime with more fluid or regular yogurt.

Our lunches have been a mix of Chickpea Salad sandwiches/wraps from Oh She Glows (one of my all time lunch favourites) and Sweet Potato Minestrone with Chickpeas and Pesto from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes. So yum. I had never thought of adding pesto to soup and it gives so much flavour and smells fantastic. The chickpeas and noodles make this really hearty as well.

For Sunday dinner I made this Lentil and Mushroom Loaf with Savoury Potato Filling found on Buzzfeed from Heathen Vegan. The site and formatting is pretty rudimentary (and hasn’t been updated since early 2012), but the results were great. Just because there isn’t a pretty picture doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not worth trying. Sometimes when you’re craving home-cooking you want something familiar and a Sunday night loaf like this is just the key. I believe I called it “Fall on a Plate” Here’s my photo to give you a bit of an idea.

fallonaplate

 

Open shelves – before

I’m about to depart on a vacation so not exactly the time to start a new creativity project, but I know what will be on my list to tackle when I return….

One of my hesitations with our new home and new kitchen was the open shelving. It’s not something I am used to, but I know it is on trend right now and I’m willing to try it out. Our kitchen does not have any above counter closed shelving, just the two open shelves pictured below.

I have attempted to use some basic design ideas to set them up for the time being, but am faced with a few challenges:

  1. Without having any above counter closed shelving we do have a lot of dishes, supplies to keep close at hand
  2. We need to decide on “places” for everything so things always end up back in the same place
  3. It’s hard to explain why I want three bowls on two different shelves instead of all six in one spot. I know it’s not fully logical, but it looks so much better

I am looking forward to reading up a bit more about styling tips and suggestions and learning how to maximize AND stylize this space.

And while we’re at an update… what have I made since my last update? Well I’m not quite sure – I sorted my document and now I’m at a loss. Luckily I can tell a lot of the ones from my Pinterest updates. There may be a few missed hardcopies, but this is still a good list:

Enjoy the rest of your early fall – ciao!

        Summer Food

The Farmer’s Market is just the best at this time of year. Everything looks big, colourful, fresh and delicious. It can be hard to choose what to limit yourself to each week. This was my limit yesterday:

This afternoon I made zucchini bread from the trust Betty Crocker cookbook and yesterday this Veggie Lover’s Lasagna from “cinnamon spice and everything nice” to make use of the patty pan squash portion of my CSA basket. I always pin spring and summer lasagnas on Pinterest but then never make them given the baking time in the summer but the weather took a bit of a break from our heat wave and I’m happy I gave it a try. The summer veggies worked perfectly!

I’ve also been making a lot of veggie bowls lately – this one is based off of the BBQ Tahini Power Bowl from “Veggies Don’t Bite” . That BBQ Tahini was delicious and enjoyed on many other things over the next few days!

What else have I made since my last update?

And that brings me up to 112 recipes tried this year. Powering through!

My Recipe Book

I’ve mentioned that I have a recipe collecting problem before and that the result is a crazy spreadsheet I call My Recipe Book (although I won’t take credit for creating a single one of these recipes!). I’m about to share some more…

I’m somewhat ashamed of my obsessive tendencies, but I’m also kind of proud – as anyone who has heard me yammer about this document will already know. It’s a beast with 2082 recipes and growing! Maybe it’s best that my screen capture is small, but to give you an idea I have a few columns where I track:Recipe Book

  • Recipe Name
  • Where I can find the recipe to make it (which book/page, my pinterest page, etc)
  • Where I found it (especially helpful for some of my handwritten copies!)
  • If I’ve made it yet or not
  • What season it is best for (or when in doubt – all!)
  • What type of meal it is (breakfast, lunch, appetizer, etc)
  • My comments (sometimes I’ll add in a certain event I took it too for a bit of memories :))
  • And one of my favourites – if there are any ingredients in it which I wouldn’t normally have on hand or use all of. This is great when you have something like fresh dill or a certain kind of nut for a recipe and want to find something to use up the rest of your product.

Oh and it’s all sortable. April Pie ChartSo you want a main course for the spring time… how about “Forbidden rice spring veggie bowls w tahini lemon dressing” (yes, actually. I think I will add to the list for next week!) I also have a pie chart (I love pie charts. Oh and pie!) so I can keep track of how obsessive I am and make sure I don’t get too many more recipes than I am making. Today I’m at 25.9% which is actually an improvement. I’ve already made 63 recipes in 2015 (to at least keep pace with how many I’ve added!!)

So for today’s post I’ve dug back into my recipe archives and made some sweet potato patties from Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean cookbook (most cookbook recipes can also be found online if you’re interested – give it a google). I’m pretty sure I read through this one while visiting my parents because I don’t know anything about Tosca Reno and would never have guessed she would have vegetarian options.

These patties looked very promising, but upon first flip they started to fall apart. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that the sunflower seeds I replaced with more ground almond was the difference maker. Either way the taste was pretty good and I love that they contained a ton of veggies (sweet potatoes, zucchini, and carrots).

The kitchen was a bit slow this week because I caught a energy-zapping cold going around, but there were a few more to include:

  • Banana Date Muffins from It’s All Good by Gwenyth Paltrow. Gwenyth (aka. Goop) has some recipes that are amongst by faves, but this was nothing special. I didn’t notice the dates in the muffins at all and that should have been the best part!
  • This marshmallow popcorn from Oh Sweet Basil was incredible! Because I wasn’t feeling well I spent a lot of time watching Netflix this weekend and two days of regular old salt and butter popcorn didn’t feel right. This sure did. P.S. If you click that link I cannot be held accountable – especially if you scroll to see the other popcorn recipes she shares. It won’t be the last one I make that’s for sure.

Me + Food

Before I get to this past week in food I should go back to the beginning…


The year was 1995, I was ten years old and the movie industry loved pigs. You probably remember “Babe” – it was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. I remember Gordy. IMDB describes it as “A talking pig named Gordy becomes involved in a quest to save his family from the slaughterhouse. An impressionable young girl like me realized exactly what that meant the moment a pig in the film turned into a sausage and I have not had the same relationship with food since.

gordy

I would divide those past twenty years as follows:

  • 8 years of eating meatless meals and being annoyed at having to help my mother try to make healthy alternatives for the only non-meat eater in the family. I can still remember trying (failing!) to make my own TVP meatballs.
  • 3 years of eating terribly in University. My doctor was impressed I could still function given how bad my diet was.
  • 6 years of eating slightly better and learning about food and cooking for real.
  • 3 years of obsessively saving and seeking out amazing vegetarian/vegan recipes on Pinterest and an assortment of blogs.

In those three years I have amassed a spreadsheet with more than 2000 different recipes I have tried or want to try in the future (did I mention obsessive?). I’m sure I’ll get back to this again in the future!

So which of those recipes did I make this past week?

  • Catherine from Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth’s Fluffy Oats and Two Ingredient Coconut Macaroons which was brilliant. I don’t know if I will be able to eat a bowl of oatmeal without a coconut macaroon again
  • Clementine Daily’s Spicy Tamari Tofu. This was the first recipe I’ve made from their site and I was impressed. Also it wasn’t too spicy for me which is sometimes a concern. B was able to up the spice to his level too.
  • Andrea from Dishing Up the Dirt shared this Carrot & Broccoli Salad with Miso Ginger Dressing and warned that it could become part of your everyday rotation. I definitely had every drip of the dressing over the past week and need to buy more miso to make it again!Huevos by B
  • Last night B made the most delicious Huevos Rancheros. I still need a recipe to cook, but my man likes to take whatever is in the fridge and make and plate something fantastic. It is a pretty sweet combination.