Dec 24, 2008

Hot Chana and Puri

I'm playing around with blog formatting, especially since I'm turning emails into blogs. If you have any comments on preferred formats, please let me know

(originally emailed April 30, 2008)

Photo: Hot Chana with Moghlai Spinach, basmati rice, and storebought 'naan'

I thought that I might not send out a recipe this week because I haven't been particularly inspired lately. But then I ate dinner tonight, and it was delicious, so you're hearing about it.

Kyle and I bought a vegetarian indian cookbook a while ago but we've been intimidated by it because the recipes are written in a funny format. Once we started cooking from it, however, we found out that it's actually quite easy and the food is good. We picked a meal called "hot chana" (Chickpeas with very hot spices), because we both love ordering chana masala from indian food restaurants. However, we were supposed to make it last week and I just kept putting it off because we also decided to make a flatbread and for some reason I thought it would be a lot of effort. Well we had to make it today because it's the last meal on our "weekly schedule" of meals, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did it take less than 1hr to prepare (including 1/2 hour sit time for the flatbread), but it was also delicious and tasted like actual Indian food (always exciting). And because I made use of one of my 2 new cilantro tricks, I'm going to share those with you too. I find that one bunch of cilantro is too much to use up before it goes rotten, so I've tried to find things to do with it to avoid wasting. (tricks to follow in a different post)

We had this meal with a Puri (fried, puffed whole wheat flat bread), which was a new one for us. I started cooking chickpea flour pancakes with our Indian meals, but chickpeas with chickpea flour pancakes? It's a bit much.

The hot chana meal + flatbreads was a good amount for 2 people, but we've already figured we're going to be hungry in a couple hours. It would have been nice to round it off with some sort of green veggie, and maybe a potato dish if we were feeling particularly ambitious. In the future I will probably share a spinach recipe (David showed us this one - it's GOOD), and a potato recipe from this veg indian cookbook.

Photo: Hot Channa with the lazy version of naan (recipe to be posted at a later date)

Hot Chana (chickpeas with spices)
Effort: easy
Ingredients: semi-easy. It calls for black mustard seeds which I can't find anywhere. And hing, which I also can't find. But I just use normal mustard seeds (bulk barn), and omit hing.
Cookbook: Indian vegetarian cooking in your home
1 Tbsp veg oil
1 tsp cumin seed/mustard seed/sesame see mix
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 Indian bay leaves (I used regular bay leaves)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (or 2 cilantro cubes, as I used)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 cup veg broth
1. Put onion, bay leaves, cilantro and garlic in a bowl.
2. Put cumin, coriander, salt, red pepper, tumeric and garam masala in another bowl
3. Rinse chickpeas
4. Heat oil, cumin/mustard/sesamee seed mixture in a pan until seeds pop.
5. Add onion bowl and cook until onions transparent.
6. Add spice bowl, followed by chickpeas and veg broth.
7. Mix (simmer if desired), and serve.

The chana recipe recommended serving with puri (below), although rice and/or other breads could work. I tend to eat this along dish with another Indian meal, such as Shahi Paneer, Moghlai Spinach, or Potatoes.

Puri (whole wheat flat bread)
Effort: easy
Ingredients: easy if you're willing to substitute
cookbook: Indian Vegetarian Cooking at your house
1 cup (Indian) whole wheat flour (I used regular whole wheat flour and it was OK)
1/4 TBSP veg oil
dash salt
optional: dashes of cumin powder, coriander powder, hot pepper, tumeric
1/4 + a little bit extra warm water
1. Mix flour, oil and salt into a bowl. Slowly add water, just enough to form a firm dough, and knead until smooth. Cover and let rest at least 1/2 hour.
2. Knead dough briefly. Divide into small golf-ball sized balls. Roll out into 6" rounds on an oiled board. Heat veg oil in wok or frying pan. Add a little salt to oil to keep it from smoking.
3. Fry one puri at a time, holding them under oil on first side until they puff. Turn and fry until light brown, and drain on paper towels.

Dec 11, 2008

Picante Pasta

This is my first email that I also post to the blog simultaneously. Go me!

I think eventually I'll phase out of emails and just go to blogs... However there are ways of getting notified of new blog posts so you don't have to remember to check it all the time. Either way, there will be dual posts for now. The blog will be the only place I post photos, though. Although I'd like to point out yet again that taking photos of food is REALLY REALLY HARD.

I can't remember if I've told this story but I'll tell it now anyways, at the risk of repeating myself. I'm a big fan of Freecycling ( - where you give away stuff you don't want anymore and you get stuff for free), both to get rid of stuff I don't want and to get stuff that I do want. A few months ago, I grabbed hundreds of recipe cards off some woman who must have been collecting them for years (literally... there were some very 50's style recipes going on there). I sorted through them and grabbed anything that sounded remotely interesting (weeding out all of the meat recipes), and I still ended up with well over 100 recipes. A lot of them are dessert recipes (which means I'll probably never make them), but some of them were salads and a few were pastas or other veggie-based entrees. Today's recipe is one of those. It's from a series of recipes called Grandma's Kitchen, and it's actually called "Linguine with Picante Sauce" but I've just been calling it Picante Pasta and there's no reason that it has to be linguine, so whatever. The recipe sounds a bit weird because it involves black beans + pasta, but I was very happy with the end result. Topping it with mozza cheese made it extra yum, too. I've modified the directions slightly because I don't agree with the order they were written in.
As always, I suggest chopping all of the veggies up first so that the actually cooking part isn't stressful.

Picante Pasta
Effort: very easy
Ingredients: very easy
Source: Grandma's kitchen card (modified from)

  • 8 oz linguine (I broke my linguine noodles in half because I"m a slob and can't handle full-length linguine without making a mess of myself)
  • 1 med onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 1/2 cups canned stewed tomatoes (we used diced)
  • 1/4 cup picante sauce (we used plain ol' salsa)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 oz finely shredded Colby Jack cheese blend (we used mozzarella because that's what we had on hand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

  1. Heat veg oil in large skillet over med-hi heat until hot. Add onion and garlic and mix well. Saute until onion is tender.
  2. Add undrained tomatoes, picante sauce (salsa), black beans, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and mix well. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and cover.
  3. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes; remove cover. Increase heat to med-high. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is the desired consistency, about 5 min.
  4. Meanwhile (around step 2 or 3), cook pasta using package directions; drain. Rinse quickly and cover to keep warm.
  5. Serve sauce over pasta (either one large platter or individual plates/bowls), sprinkle with cheese and cilantro.

Dec 8, 2008

How to Peel Tomatoes

I learned this technique from David Bradley.

  • Score tomatoes crosswise on both ends (ie: the stem side and the opposite from stem side) so that you have two "X" marks
  • place tomatoes in a heat proof dish (not plastic!) so that all your tomatoes fit in one layer but there isn't much extra space around them (I usually use a pot)
  • Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and let sit for a minute or two while you do something else
  • If they're big tomatoes, flip them over so both sides get exposed to the hot water
  • Come back and scoop one tomato out at a time - simply grab the skin and pull it off. If all goes well, the skin should just slip off. If it's being difficult, give it some more time or just use a small paring knife to help it out

Dec 7, 2008

A Delicious Mix of Pureed Vegetables

(originally emailed on 2008-12-28)
Happy holidays everyone!

I kid you not about the name of this recipe. It sounds odd, and it ends up looking pretty weird too. But I found it really tasty (once I added a few extra things) when served with pita bread. It takes a long time to make, but it's mostly chopping and then let everything simmer for an hour, so it's not bad. I've even had success with for crockpot cooking, too (I'll add directions at the end). I'll point out the extra ingredients that I added.

Also, the previous post contains a lot of information on Iron. Apparently it is somewhat easier to become anemic if you are vegetarian, because the iron in plants is more difficult to absorb than that in meat. I did some research to find out some facts about iron, as well as some of the foods that are rich in iron. Some of them were really surprising.

A delicious puree of mixed vegetables
Effort: easy
Ingredients: very common (fresh dill is the most difficult, but it's essential so don't omit it! and garam masala can be picked up at any bulk barn)
Cookbook: World vegetarian (Madhur jaffrey)

  • 1/4 cup peanut or olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, pealed and chopped
  • 1 fresh hot green chili (use more or less as desired)
  • 1 med. onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed, well washed and chopped (note: a bag in the produce section is about 8oz. we used that amount and it worked out well)
  • 10 green beans, cut crosswise into fine rounds
  • 1 med. carrot, peeled, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into fine slices
  • 1 med. potato, peeled and cut into small dice (Note: if you cut the chunks small enough, you can leave the peel on for extra nutritiousness - including iron)
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (instructions on how to peel tomatoes here)
  • 1 med zucchini, cut into small dice
  • 1 very well-packed cup of chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas (we couldn't find any so we substituted lentils which we boiled for 10min before adding)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • margarine / butter (Nic's addition)
  • garam masala (Nic's addition)
  • baguette and/or pita or other flatbread (to eat the puree with)

  1. put oil, garlic and chili into a very large pan (we used a wok) over med-high heat.
  2. when garlic is golden, add onion, spinach, green beans, carrot, potato, tomatoes, zucchini, dill, split peas/lentils, and 3 cups of water. Stir and bring to a simmer
  3. cover, turn heat down to low, and simmer gently for 30min.
  4. -turn heat up slightly to med-low, uncover partially, and continue to cook for another 30min.
  5. add salt and mix.
  6. mash vegetables together until you have a coarse puree (I used one of those hand-blenders that you can use to make milkshakes with. i didn't blend it to homogenization, though)
  7. serve in bowls. add some margarine to each bowl to help make the flavour "deeper" or "more savoury". sprinkle with a little bit of garam masala, until you like the taste. eat with bread, pitas, flatbread, etc.

Crockpot Directions
  1. put oil, garlic and chili into a medium pan over med-high heat.
  2. when garlic is golden, add onion, green beans, carrot, potato, tomatoes, and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Put spinach, dill, and split peas/lentils into the crockpot. Add the other veggies from the pan, and 3 cups of water. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  4. Cover, turn heat down to low, and simmer gently for 30min.
  5. turn heat up slightly to med-low (or the higher crockpot setting), uncover partially, and continue to cook for another 30min.
  6. add salt and mix.
  7. mash vegetables together until you have a coarse puree (I used one of those hand-blenders that you can use to make milkshakes with. i didn't blend it to homogenization, though)
  8. serve in bowls. add some margarine to each bowl to help make the flavour "deeper" or "more savoury". sprinkle with a little bit of garam masala, until you like the taste. eat with bread, pitas, flatbread, etc.

Please let me know if you try any of these recipes and what you think of it. I'm curious if these are useful at all!


One of the difficulties with a vegetarian diet is that it can sometimes take a bit more work to make sure you're including all of the nutrients you need in your diet. The one I have the most difficulty with is iron, although I had difficulty with this even when I ate meat so that's not too surprising. I scoured the internet for information on iron, and this is what I found (note: I apologize in advance for the table formatting. Try visiting the original webpage if my table is difficult to read):

How much iron do you need?
Recommended dietary allowance for iron is:
  • 10 mg a day for men age 19 and older and women age 51 and older who are not menstruating
  • 15 mg a day for women 19-50 who are menstruating
  • 30 mg a day for pregnant women
  • 15mg a day for breastfeeding women

Iron - What Foods Can It Be Found In?
There are two kinds of iron: heme iron is found in red meats, fish and poultry, and is better-absorbed than non-heme iron, which is found in enriched cereals, leafy veggies and raisins.

Unlike calcium, which is already found in your body, iron can only be obtained from food. It's found in everything from raisins to red meat, such as liver. Other good sources of iron are fish, eggs, beans and leafy green vegetables, like spinach and lettuce. Eating breakfast is a great way to fill up on iron - try an iron-enriched cereal, such as bran flakes, and add raisins for sweetness and flavor. And top your meal off with a glass of prune juice - it may not taste great, but it'll definitely fuel your bod with energy. Generally, only about five to 10 percent of the iron in food is absorbed, unless there are low levels of iron in the body, such as after menstrual bleeding.

How can I get the most out of my iron foods?
McKinley Health Center
The following factors will increase the iron absorption from non-heme foods:
  • A good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) - i.e., oranges, grapefruits, tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries, eaten with a NON-HEME food
  • A HEME and NON-HEME food eaten together
  • A NON-HEME food cooked in an iron pot, such as a cast iron skillet

The following factors will decrease non-heme iron absorption:
  • Large amounts of tea or coffee consumed with a meal (the polyphenols bind the iron).
  • Excess consumption of high fiber foods or bran supplements (the phytates in such foods inhibit absorption).
  • High intake of calcium - take your calcium supplement at a different time from your iron supplement.

UGeorgia Health Center
  • Choose lean meats, fish and poultry - the iron in these foods is absorbed better than the iron in plant sources.
  • Eat vegetables and grains with lean meat - the average absorption of iron from plant sources is low, but increases when these are eaten with meat, poultry and fish.
  • Eat iron-rich legumes - dried beans and peas are the most iron-rich plant products in our diets.
  • Combine iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C - a glass of orange juice with your breakfast can more than double the amount of iron your body absorbs.
  • Avoid drinking tea or coffee with your meals - a cup of tea with breakfast can block 3/4 of the iron you would have absorbed.
  • Cook foods in an iron pot whenever practical - spaghetti sauce simmered in an iron pot for about 20 minutes increases its iron content nine fold. This would work as well for other acidic foods.
  • Eat iron-fortified foods - iron-fortified or enriched breakfast cereals and other foods can help boost your iron intake. Be sure to combine them with high vitamin C foods like citrus fruit, broccoli, cantaloupe, strawberries or kiwi to increase absorption.

Iron in Low-Fat Foods
Clams 3 oz 14
Oysters 3 oz. 6.6
Shrimp 3 oz. 2.5
Tuna 3 oz. 1.3
Chicken (breast roasted) 3 oz. 1
Duck (flesh only, roasted) 3 oz. 2
Sirloin (lean, broiled) 3 oz. 2
Turkey (breast, roasted) 3 oz. 1.2
Turkey (drumstick) 3 oz. 2
Lentils (cooked) 1/2 cup 3.3
Lima beans (cooked) 1/2 cup 2.25
Dried beans (cooked) 1/2 cup 2.3
Split Peas (cooked) 1/2 cup 1.25
Tofu (raw) 1/2 cup 6.65
Cream of Wheat (reg, cooked) 1/2 cup 6
Fortified breakfast cereal (Total, e.g.) 1/2 cup 18
Pasta (cooked) 1/2 cup 1
Wheat germ, toasted 2 Tbsp. 1.3
Apricots (dried) 1/4 cup 1.5
Broccoli (cooked) 1/2 cup 0.6
Brussels Sprouts (cooked) 1/2 cup 1
Peaches (dried) 1/4 cup 1.6
Peas (cooked) 1/2 cup 1.26
Potato (cooked, with skin) 1 medium 2.35
Prunes 1/4 cup 1
Raisins 1/4 cup 1
Spinach (raw) 1 cup 1
Spinach (boiled) 1/2 cup 2
Squash (winter, acorn, cooked) 1 cup 1.37
Good Sources of Iron

* Animal liver, kidney and heart
* Oysters
* Iron-fortified bread and cereal
* Lean red meat
* Nuts
* Egg yolks
* Dried beans and legumes
* Blackstrap molasses
* Dried fruit
* Dark leafy green vegetables
* Foods cooked in an iron skillet
Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron. Vegetarians do not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than do meat eaters.

Food Amount Iron (mg)

Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 8.8
Blackstrap molasses 2 Tbsp 7.2
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 6.6
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 6.4
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 6.3
Tofu 4 ounces 6
Bagel, enriched 3 ounces 5.2
Tempeh 1 cup 4.8
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 4.4
Swiss chard, cooked 1 cup 4
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 3.6
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 3.5
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup 3.2
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 3.2
Potato 1 large 3.2
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 3
Prune juice 8 ounces 3
Beet greens, cooked 1 cup 2.7
Tahini 2 Tbsp 2.7
Veggie hot dog 1 hot dog 2.7
Peas, cooked 1 cup 2.5
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 2.3
Cashews 1/4 cup 2.1
Brussels sprouts, cooked 1 cup 1.9
Bok choy, cooked 1 cup 1.8
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 1.7
Raisins 1/2 cup 1.6
Almonds 1/4 cup 1.5
Apricots, dried 15 halves 1.4
Veggie burger, commercial 1 patty 1.4
Watermelon 1/8 medium 1.4
Soy yogurt 6 ounces 1.1
Tomato juice 8 ounces 1
Green beans, cooked 1 cup 1.2
Kale, cooked 1 cup 1.2
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 1.2
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 1.1
Millet, cooked 1 cup 1.1
Sesame seeds 2 Tbsp 1


Total® cereal 1 cup 18
Grape Nuts® cereal 1/2 cup 8.2
Instant plain oatmeal 1 packet 6.7
Wheat germ 1 ounce (1/4 cup) 2.6
Broccoli 1 medium stalk 2.1
Baked potato 1 medium 2.7
Spinach 1 cup raw 0.8
Dried peach 5 halves 2.6
Raw tofu 1/2 cup 4
Lentils 1/2 cup 3.3
Kidney beans 1/2 cup 2.6
Chickpeas 1/2 cup 2.4
Beef chuck 3 ounces 3.2
Dark meat turkey 3 ounces 2
Blackstrap molasses 1 tablespoon 5

Nov 30, 2008

Pad Thai

I lurve this recipe. It's so easy and so tasty. It's also one of the "gateway" recipes I used to make Kyle kind-of-sort-of like cilantro. In reply to my email I was asked a few questions (is there something you can substitute for the ketchup? can you omit the cilantro? what other veggies would you add?), and I have since modified the recipe to include some of the suggestions. The original recipe did not have tofu or red pepper. Here are my answers, based on the original email:
"Don't omit the ketchup. The sauce doesn't end up tasting like ketchup, so don't worry. Cilantro is not necessary if you hate it. However, Kyle hates hates cilantro and I added about 1/8 of a cup really finely chopped and he was OK with it. I think it makes it better because the cilantro is cooked a bit. But if you hate cilantro, then no point in buying it, right. I wouldn't add other veggies... pad thai is usually pretty simple. Maybe some chopped red pepper. And I"d probably add protein next time by frying up some tofu, chopped into small cubes... right now it's pretty protein poor. If you're not into tofu yet, this is an OK way to cook it to start getting used to it: Chop it up until small cubes - about 1-2cm on each side. Marinate it in a little bit of soy sauce, garlic, ginger and veg broth for as many hours as you can. Then dump the tofu (sans soy sauce) into a frying pan with sesame oil.. Fry the tofu until it's brown and crispy (this might take a while). Then add it to the pad thai in the last step when you're adding everything else. Even people who don't really like tofu tend to like it when it's prepared that way."

Pad Thai
Effort: med-easy
Ingredients: pretty common (rice vinegar and rice noodles would be the only difficulty)
Cookbook: I can't remember where I found this recipe, and I've made modifications anyhoo

8 oz rice noodles, uncooked (I just used one package of rice noodles)
1 block tofu, cubed (1/2 " cubes work well)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp each reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp + tsp sesame oil, divided (+ extra for sprinkling)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced red onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bean sprouts (i usually omit these and it still tastes good)
1/2 cup grated carrots (i usually add more than this)
1 red pepper, chopped into med-small dice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

- If you are can plan ahead, chop tofu and then marinate it in a bit if soy sauce, garlic, and lime juice for several hours (or overnight).
- Cook noodles according to package directions (usually this involves pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for 3 minutes). Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Sprinkle with sesame oil to help prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Saute tofu over med-high heat in 1 tbsp sesame (or chili) oil until it starts to take on some brown colour. Set aside.
- To makes sauce, combine ketchup, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, and crushed red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat veg oil in a large, non-stick wok or skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook and stir until onions are tender, about 3 minutes. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tofu plus all of the vegetables (bean spouts, carrots, green onions, red pepper and cilantro). Mix well. Add noodles, mix, and cook until noodles are heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle individual servings with chopped peanuts.

Pizza Pasta

I'm a big fan of "slop-in-a-pot" type recipes, where the ratios and amounts of different ingredients are suggested, rather than fixed. This is one of those recipes, which explains why I don't give measurements. I make it veggie-based but it can easily be made to simulate meat (use fake pepperoni/ham on top, or put Yves veggie ground round in the sauce) or fully meaty. I'll take suggestions for pizza toppings, because I'm getting pretty bored with my usual.

Some example combinations:
- Mediterranean: Prepare as below. Top with black olives, feta, oregano flakes, red and green peppers
- Spicy: Mix fresh minced garlic and chopped up hot peppers with the sauce before adding to the pasta. Top with chili flakes, red and green peppers, green olives, and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.


Pizza Pasta
Effort: super easy
Ingredients: super duper easy
Cookbook: an ex-boyfriend's mother + a recipe card

Pasta (I like rigatoni, but medium-sized shells, penne, or macaroni would also work. Use as much or as little as you like - leftovers make good lunch)
1 large can/jar of Pasta/tomato sauce (add lots of oregano and basil to make it zippy)
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Possible toppings:
Green/red peppers
Hot peppers/jalapenos
garlic/roasted garlic
fresh basil leaves, chopped
extra cheese (feta, parmesan, cheddar, goat)
chili flakes
oregano flakes
shredded spinach
small broccoli florets

- Cook the pasta and drain.
- Mix the pasta with the sauce - make it nice and saucy because baking it will dry it out (if you're adding fresh crushed garlic, it might be good to add it in with the pasta and sauce or else you'll end up with concentrated bites of garlic once it's all cooked).
- Pour the pasta&sauce into a baking pan (you want the pasta to make a layer about 2 inches deep)
- Top with mozza cheese (variation: add half of the cheese to the pasta and sauce in the stage when you're mixing together, and then top with the other half)
- Top with your favourite pizza toppings (mushrooms should go under the cheese to avoid drying out too much)
- Bake at 350 until cheese is melty and veggies seem cooked (around 20 min is good, but more is probably better. You can also broil in the last 2 minutes to brown up the cheese a bit).
- Serve with garlic bread, because garlic bread is delicious.

Protein tip:
Both pasta and cheese cheese have quite a bit of protein. You could also add some veggie ground round to the sauce (found in the produce section of a grocery store). it makes a pretty good substitute for ground beef and adds loads of protein. I recently tried veggie sausage and it was really bad, so I'd stay away from that. There is also veggie pepperoni but if you're still eating meat, you'll probably want to avoid any simulated deli slices since they only start tasting good once you haven't eaten meat for a year or so.

curried vegetables

My attention was drawn to this one because it looked so simple - it uses frozen vegetables! Most of the meals I cook take a long time to make because of all the chopping, so it was nice to have a shortcut. And I think frozen vegetables are healthier than canned ones. I don't normally like raisins, but they provide a nice sweet complement to the other flavours, so I'm actually quite pleased with how it turned out. Enjoy!

Curried Vegetables
Effort: very easy
Ingredients: common
Cookbook: favorite brand name Vegetarian cooking 1997

1 package of Rice a Roni herb & butter (I couldn't find this variety, so I used Uncle Ben's fast and fancy wild rice and herbs - it was good too.)
1/3 cup raisins (i might reduce this amount in the future)
2 tbsp margarine or butter
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp curry powder
1 package frozen carrot, broccoli and red pepper veg medley (I used "california mix" with broc. cauliflower and carrots, while adding fresh red pepper and a few sliced mushroom. I'm sure most variations and combinations would be OK)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (optional)

1. prepare rice-a-roni as package directs, adding raisins with contents of seasoning packet (or with Uncle Bens, I waited until the water was boiling before adding raisins)
2. Meanwhile, in 3-quart saucepan, melt margarine over med. heat. add onion and garlic; saute 3-4 min. add flour and curry powder; cook 30 sec, stirring frequently.
3. add frozen vegetables, water and salt (If using fresh veggies, consider adding them slightly before the frozen ones). cover; bring to a boil over high heat. reduce heat and continue cooking 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Serve rice topped with vegetable mixture; sprinkle with almonds. (note: I bought slivered almonds from bulk barn and then toasted them in a frying pan on medium heat for a few minutes. yum)

You could serve this with some yogurt, if you were so inclined.
Also, it says it makes 4 servings, but I think that might be child-sized servings. If I made this again and wanted actual 4 servings, I might make an extra 1/2 cup of rice, plus add a few more veggies, to bulk it up.

taco salad

Taco Salad
Effort: med-easy
Ingredients: common
Cookbook: Student's vegetarian cookbook, Carole Raymond 1997, 2003

1 tsp veg oil
1 cup frozen corn
1 tbsp water
1 tsp ground cumin
1 med avocado, fairly ripe
1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
1/2 med. tomato, chopped
2 tbsp chopped green onion (including green part) (Nic: I prefer more onion)
2 cups salad greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
Baked tortilla chips, crumbled (I like those yellow corn ones, rather than Tostidos, for this recipe)
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (this can be omitted, but it makes it taste extra good)
tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

- in small pan, combine oil, corn, water and cumin. cover and cook on med. heat for 3 min. uncover and cook for 1-2min until water evaporates. set aside.
- slice avocado lengthwise and remove seed. cut lengthwise and crosswise slices in the flesh, making a grid pattern. scoop avocado cubes out of shells and into med. sized bowl. stir in lemon juice. add corn mixture, tomato, and scallion.
- spoon salad onto handful of greens. crumble a handful of baked tortilla chips and sprinkle them on top. toss on cilantro and a shake (or more) of Tabasco if desired.

fiesta burrito bake

On November 5th, 2007, I sent out an email to some friends and family stating that I was starting a recipe mailing list. The first two recipes I sent out were Fiesta Burrito Bake and Taco Salad.

Fiesta Burrito Bake
Effort: easy
Ingredients: common
Cookbook: favorite brand name Vegetarian cooking 1997

1/2 envelope Club House Marinades seasoning - Tex Mex flavour
1 can refried beans
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup water
10 (6") flour tortillas (get whole wheat and it's healthier)
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped (I usually omit the tomato)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

- Preheat oven to 375 F
- in small bowl, combine seasoning powder, beans, sour cream and water. Spoon bean mixture onto tortillas, then roll.
- In a 13 x 9in. baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, arrange rolled tortillas; top with tomato then cheese.
- Bake covered for 15minutes. Remove cover and continue baking until cheese is melted and tortillas are heated through.
- serve, if desired, with shredded lettuce, sour cream and guacamole

Nic's comment: goes really well with "taco salad".

what is this blog about?


For a few months now, I have been emailing recipes to my friends and family. I've had it in the back of my mind that a blog would work better, especially for cross-referencing the different recipes, so I finally got around to creating one. So #1: this is a place for me to post recipes that I've sampled and decided are worth sharing.
Also, as most people who know me have already realized, I'm a bit of an eco-nut. This blog will #2: give me a place to comment, rant, and rave about various environmental topics. Furthermore, I've recently become very concerned over my consumption and how much waste people produce. I'm on a personal conquest to reduce waste in various ways, such as reusing and mending items that would otherwise be thrown out. So I will #3: post stories, comments, and how-to's on my quest to reduce waste.

May 13, 2008

recipe: mexican night

(Originally emailed May. 13, 2008)

[If you're reading this on Facebook, you can read the original, non-imported, correctly-formatted version on my blog]

I don't have time to type up a recipe this week either, so I'm stealing one that Jess typed up for me when we were putting together the Base Cero recipe book. This meal was a weekly occurrence in Costa Rica, and probably our favourite too (well, at least it was my favourite). It's very easy to prepare, seeing as it just involves a lot of chopping and a little bit of heating, and it's customizable so anyone can enjoy it. One of the neat things about Costa Rican food is that they have so many different brands of hot sauces, which all taste slightly different. So for our first few Mexican Nights, we put a different hot sauce on each tortilla as a taste test, to determine our favourite sauce. I unfortunately became slightly addicted to my favourite hot sauce (Chillerito!) and since then I've been bugging people to bring me back some from Costa Rica. Fortunately, one of the girls who just came back was able to find a bottle for me, so my supply of Chillerito will last until August 2009. Phew. I don't know what I will do when I don't know anyone in Dan's lab anymore! Anyways, this meal is clearly up to the individual, but it's fun to have tons of toppings on the table so that it's colourful and chaotic. Thanks to Jess for typing it up for me :) (note: Jess was the Mexican Night chef for most of last summer in Costa Rica).

Jess adds: Mexican night is a fairly low-stress meal that requires a lot of chopping, but it's delicious and filling. You can make the tortillas however you want to, so adjust recipe according to your tastes. This meal works best if you chop veggies into very small pieces rather than large chunks.

Some comments from now me, as opposed to 2008 me: I managed to convince a couple more people to bring me back some Chillerito, so my supply will last me at least a few more months. I will cry when it is gone. In the meantime, I'm trying to find substitutes. Frank's hot is delicious, but not a good substitute for Chillerito :(

mexican night
mexican night, by David Bradley

Mexican Night
Effort: 1 very easy
Speed: 4 not very fast
Ingredients: easy to get
Source: Stéphanie Doucet

  • flour tortillas (as small as you can get. like the little ones in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store)
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • refried beans (black work best)
  • cumin
  • hot sauce
  • rice
  • hot sauce (chillerito or Tio Pelon)
  • diced cucumber
  • diced tomatoes mixed with minced cilantro
  • diced red pepper
  • onions
  • sour cream
  • guacamole (avocado + lime juice + garlic + sour cream)
  • eggs

cheese lakes
when heated, these'll become "cheese lakes"

  1. Start rice.
  2. Make guacamole and keep in fridge. (Jess' instructions: smush up an avocado, add the juice from a freshly picked limon (half lime, half lemon, grows out back), add a minced clove of garlic, and a spoonful or two of sour cream)...oh how I miss the limon tree.
  3. Start heating the refried beans... throw them in a pot, add a pinch or two of cumin, and a few shakes of hot sauce.
  4. Chop up all the vegetables, and put them in their own bowls.
  5. Put tortillas on a baking sheet spaced apart. Add some grated cheddar to them so that the cheese will melt and coat one side.
  6. Stick tortillas in the oven at a low temperature, and pull them out as soon as the cheese is melted (if you leave them in too long, tortillas will crisp up too much)
  7. Scramble some eggs (this only takes a few minutes, which is why I leave it until the end).
  8. Put the last few things in bowls (rice, scrambled eggs), put the hot pot of bubbling beans on the table (with a trivet underneath), and stick the sour cream and your hot sauces of choice on the table.
  9. Assemble tortillas as desired and CHOW DOWN!
  10. Optimal tortilla-assembling order: Beans, hot sauce (spread with spoon), rice, guacamole, veggies, + anything else.

What other toppings would you put on tortillas like this?

Apr 9, 2008

recipe: green peas and mushroom green curry

(Originally emailed Apr. 9, 2008)

Kyle introduced me to Thai food within the first few months of me being in Windsor, by cooking a large curry for our lab group (I'll be sending that recipe out shortly). Since then, we've bought several cookbooks (one vegetarian thai) and have visited several Thai restaurants. After going to a few restaurants, Kyle decided that green curry is his favourite curry, so we had to try making it ourselves. We found a "green curry" recipe in the World vegetarian cookbook, but it turns out it was Indian curry... so we took out the spices, threw in Thai green curry paste, and now it's pseudo-Indian/Thai green curry. We've made it 3 times probably, and every time we make it we're surprised at how quick it is and at how tasty it is. The last time we made it, we added tofu to make it more filling. I'm going to give you our recipe rather than the one from the cookbook, seeing as they're pretty much different recipes. It's best with jasmine rice but I bet basmati would work well too.

nightscape, a completely un-recipe-related photo by me

Green Peas and Mushroom (Thai/Indian) Green Curry
Effort: 1 very easy
Speed: 1 very fast
Ingredients: relatively easy to get (Bulk Barn and International sections of grocery stores are your friends); or super-easy if live in Windsor
Source: modified substantially from World Vegetarian (Madhur Jaffrey)

3 cups shelled or frozen peas (we use frozen)
4 tbsp water + 1/4 cup water
1 to 1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste (in Windsor, we bought ours from the International Food Market in those little tins. We stocked up before we moved to Québec.)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp canola oil
1 brick firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (easiest found in Bulk Barn)
about 10 medium mushrooms, sliced or cut into quarters

A note about the steps. Kyle and I share the cooking duties, meaning that we cook together for almost every meal. We usually split up the duties so that I chop and do a lot of the prep work, while Kyle tends to make sauces/spice mixes and handle the actual cooking/stir-frying/stirring duties. I don't know if I've said this explicitly before, but I find it very important to make sure everything is prepped before turning the stove on. So that means cutting all veggies, getting the spices out into small containers, mixing the sauce ingredients, etc. With Kyle and I cooking together, sometimes we can relax that, but if I am cooking on my own I always try to abide by the "prep rule" because otherwise I end up overcooking/burning things. If I was making this meal alone, I would chop the mushrooms and get out 2 cups of peas. Then cut the tofu and start frying it (and then the mushrooms) while I made the sauce.

  1. Start (jasmine) rice.

  2. Cut tofu.

  3. Make sauce: Put 1 cup of (frozen) peas into a blender/food processer/Magic Bullet and blend a bit. Add 4 tbsp of water and blend to a puree. Add curry paste, salt, and cream. Blend again.

  4. Fry tofu: Put most of the oil in large nonstick frying pan over med-high heat. Add half of the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for about 10 sec. Add tofu and saute until starting to brown. Remove tofu from pan.

  5. Cook mushrooms: Add some more oil if necessary, and the remaining cumin seeds to the frying pan. Let sizzle and then add mushrooms. Saute for 3-4 minutes.

  6. Add the sauce mixture that you blended in step 3. Rinse out the blender with some (~1/4 cup) water and pour that into the pan as well. Stir gently and cook for 1 minutes.

  7. Add tofu and remaining peas.

  8. Turn heat to medium, stir gently, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes.

  9. Serve hot, over jasmine rice.

Do you have any comments on the style this recipe is written in? Do you like the steps to be numbered? Is it OK that the posts get really long when I skip lines between steps, or is it annoying because you have to scroll down more?