Vegan



This past weekend I was in the lovely Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  A good friend is back from literally a trip around the world: 14 months in Nepal and then they traveled to Maui, the Philippines, Iceland, France, Germany, Amsterdam etc…so off we went for a visit with her at her parents.  They live on an very tranquil piece of property just outside of Courtney, BC.

Good times, wine, food and friends makes for a wonderful weekend.  After a morning at the spa: walking a hydro path, a fantastic lunch at Atlas and a snooze on the lawn in the afternoon sun, we decided to round out the weekend with a chilled west coast tradition. So, Sunday evening just us ladies packed a picnic for the beach, made a campfire in the wind, ate some good food, chatted and drank Babyduck.  One of the goodies in the cooler that we packed was a delicious curried quinoa salad.

This salad is packed full of protein.  And gets better as the flavours meld in the fridge, so a great meal to make and have in the fridge for lunches or a light summer dinner.  I love the savoury coupled with the sweet, the crunchy and the chewy.  Mmmm.

curried quinoa salad

Ingredients
1 lime
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 pkg extra firm tofu cut into 1 inch cups
1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded carrots
3 green onions sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup dried apricots sliced
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 tbsp canola oil

Dressing
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup canola oil

Directions:

  1. Squeeze juice from lime into a medium bowl.  Stir in soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger. Add tofu and marinate for 30-40 minutes.
  2. Place quinoa in a sieve and rinse thoroughly.  Drain and place in a medium sauce pan along with the broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff with fork, set aside.
  3. While quinoa is simmering, preheat oven to 350F. Place walnut pieces on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine carrots, green onion, parsley, cilantro, apricots, toasted walnut pieces, cranberries (if using) and cooked quinoa.
  5. For dressing mix curry powder, lime juice, honey, and canola oil in a seal-able container, shake well to mix and pour over quinoa mixture and mix.
  6. Refrigerate salad for at least one hour.  Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat: remove tofu from marinade and cook for 2 or 3 minutes per side until browned.  Add cooked tofu to quinoa salad mixture, mix and serve.

Glow, May 2010 pg. 92

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Ages ago I had seen recipe after recipe in the blogosphere for kale chips. I was a skeptic. I mean, really?  You take a delicious and relatively sturdy green and it becomes a tasty, crispy savoury snack?  Well finally last weekend, I grabbed a bunch of Kale and decided to try my hand at it.  There were tons of recipes that offered bits of cheese melted onto the kale as it dried, or basic salt/pepper combos etc.  I am on a bit of an Asian fusion kick right now, so I decided to mix rice wine vinegar and sesame oil with a tiny bit of olive oil.  The key to this whole process is moderation – moderation of flavours as they intensify as the leaf dehydrates.

I made the mistake in my first batch to add some salt before they came out of the oven.  They were just a little too salty for me. I waited the second time and found they didn’t need salt at all.  If this intrigues you, try googling a variety of recipes. You can make these in your oven (like me) or if you happen to have one, a dehydrator.

sesame kale chips

Ingredients:

4 cups kale chopped into 2 inch pieces, stem removed from leaf
2-3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if you have it, I found I didn’t need it, but my sheet was in pristine shape)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, and salt, and toss with kale leaves. Place in a single layer on cookie sheet and place into oven.
  3. Bake 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through until crispy. A hint on a few sites was to not overcook or allow them to become completely brown as they will taste bitter.
  4. Taste one, and lightly salt – I used a seasoned wasabi salt which was a nice touch.  Enjoy!

I am one of those impatient people who has a hard time waiting for an avocado to reach the perfect ripeness for guacamole.  I pick up the avocado from the store, usually knowing that it will need another 3 days or so to become that almost butter like consistency.  But then I get home and I see it sitting on the counter…eying me.  Tempting me to give it a try.  I mean, if you through it in the food processor for long enough it should get smooth like peanut butter right?  Wrong.  It just gets lumpy and is nowhere near the right flavour or of course, right texture.

The other day I was in the store and looked at the avocados and they called to me.  They were sinfully soft without being overripe.  They begged to be whipped into a smooth and tasty guacamole.  I mixed and matched what we had in the fridge to come up with this and I loved it.  I think it was the extra kick of the Mexican Chili powder and the smokeyness of the cumin.  When an avocado calls to you…whip this up, you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados
1/2 sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic
handful of cilantro or parsley
3 Tbsp spicy salsa
juice from one lime
1 tsp Mexican chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to flavour

Directions

Through it all into a food processor and blend.  Then let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours mingle.  To prevent browning keep the avocado pits in the guac and then remove.  Enjoy!


At work we talk about effort in, in relation to, results out.  In terms of a recipe, this is short and simple.  But the results are spectacular.  I never tire of the recipes you can make with a deliciously slooow roasted, sweet and intense tomato.  The key is long and low in the oven.  It’s 5 minutes before bed, and then a quick pasta for dinner the next day.  Or a deep rich tomato soup.  It’s totally up to you.

roasted-tomatoes

Ingredients:

2 lbs on the vine campari tomatoes, ripe
1 head (yes head) garlic, cloves peeled
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 150-160 F
  2. Wash and halve tomatoes
  3. Arrange halves, face up in a Pyrex casserole dish
  4. Spread garlic cloves amongst tomatoes
  5. Drizzle olive oil over
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7. Place tomatoes in oven and roast for 10-12 hours, checking every few hours.

Toss with freshly cooked pasta, fresh basil and feta.  A meal in minutes….errr…hours?


Everyone has comfort foods.  Some are better for us than others.  Borscht was one of my favourites as a kid.  My mom would make it in the BIG soup pot, it would simmer for hours on end.  Once she took it off the stove, the pot was way too big to put in the fridge, so it would sit out on the kitchen balcony or in the garage waiting for it to come down in temperature so that Tupperware containers could be filled and frozen for easy-to-grab family winter weekend lunches.

The debate I have gotten into as an adult is, is this really borscht?  When you Google “borscht” you often get a recipe that has beets in it, or beef…this has neither.  Mom tells me she learned how to make this from “the Russian Immigrants in Greenwood”  – almost like that is what their name tags said… When looking at all the various European versions on Wikipedia I think that this is kind of borscht, an adaption of many versions.

Alas, whatever you call it: Tomato/Cabbage soup, or winter borscht, or just ‘yum’, this soup is easy, tasty and full of good for you ingredients.  If you like tomatoes and simple soup, you may like this.  Serve it up with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and crust bread and it is delsih!

I know it isn’t much to look at – but really, what do you expect from cabbage?  This soup is best served the next day once all the flavours intensify and settle together.  I’ve also scaled it down and made it a little more manageable…enough to serve 6, or provide lunch throughout the week for TB and I.

borscht
Ingredients:

2 tbsp margarine
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 celery ribs, sliced
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 green cabbage, shredded
1 L canned tomatoes – used my last jar from the summer!
1 L beef or veggie stock
1 russet baker potato, grated
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
(salt and pepper to taste as needed)

Directions

  1. In a dutch oven, melt margarine and saute onions for 3-4 minutes on medium-high.
  2. Add shredded cabbage, carrots, and celery to pot.  Allow to saute for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add canned tomatoes, break up with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add stock – should cover veggies – allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add grated potatoes, salt and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for 2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Watch the heat, if you simmer too high you will burn your veggies.
  6. Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Allow to come to room temperature before putting in fridge.
  7. Reheat and serve the day after.  As mentioned, you could add a dollop of sour cream when you serve it.

Serves 6.
WW3


I planted squash in our garden plot this spring. For most of the summer I was convinced we would not get any. The plant was growing like crazy, but we had no flowers on it. Finally near the end of July they started to bloom. In the end we walked away with at least 7-8 little squashes, ranging from 1 1/2 lb to about 3lbs each.

I picked most of them in late September/early October. The joy of squash is that it keeps so well. So finally this weekend I looked at the last solitary squash and figured I would whip it into a soup for lunches this week.

The best thing about this soup is how amazing it smelled as the squash, onions and garlic were roasting away in the oven.

soup5

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (2lbs)
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic
olive oil
2 tbsp hot curry powder
3 cups veggie/chicken or turkey broth
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel, half and scoop out seeds from squash.
  3. Chop squash into one inch cubes.
  4. Chop onions into big pieces.
  5. Peel garlic cloves.
  6. In a baking dish, combine the squash, onions and garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Place dish in oven, roast for 45-50 minutes. Stirring once half way through.
  8. With 5 minutes left go when roasting veggies, heat up a skillet/pot. Add curry powder, allow to heat up for about 2 minutes, this will bring out more flavour. Do not let burn!
  9. Add stock to pot, allow to come to a simmer.
  10. Once vegetables are done, remove from oven and add to stock. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Puree squash, onions and garlic in soup.
  12. Add water until the soup reaches the consistency you would like. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. You can also top with a scoop of low/no fat sour cream and chives, since this was for lunch at work, I didn’t bother.

Makes 5, one cup servings.


Back in August, the bounty of the summer season was upon us. There is nothing like the farmer’s markets overflowing with such fresh and wonderful looking produce. In the middle of August we were in the Okanagan and picked up 15 lbs of Roma tomatoes, amongst other things. I thought I would take a stab at making some salsa to store away for those fall and winter months that need livening up with summer’s freshness.

Our friends who got married this summer gave home made salsa and raspberry jam that we made as favours for the wedding. I didn’t have that recipe so I started scouring the internet. I will admit that the concern over the acidity of the salsa (to make sure it was high enough) was a little nerve racking. I was planning on using a hot water bath (HWB) instead of a pressure cooker. Afterall, I didn’t want to kill anyone with botulism.

I finally came across this recipe from several years ago, on the iVillage Garden Web. I made some slight modifications based on notes from many of the reviews. The biggest change was that I did not de-seed the tomatoes. I had read that roma tomatoes are a paste tomato thickening sauces, so I wanted to keep the liquid from the seeds, we prefer our salsa to be on the thinner consistency, not super thick. We also made it a little spicier than the original recipe.

I was really happy with the result. It is a medium hot salsa – we like it that way, however all you have to do is reduce the hot peppers if you want something a little milder. I will be making this for years to come, and will make more than just the one batch… next summer! (A big thank you to Annie for sharing this great recipe!) I didn’t take any pictures of the salsa back when I made it. Today was a gorgeous day, with lots of natural light, so I finally dug it out to add to the blog.

salsa

Ingredients:
8 cups roma tomatoes, peeled, chopped
2 ½ cups chopped onion
1 ½ cups chopped green pepper
8 chopped jalapeños
2 chopped Serrano peppers
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup pickling salt
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar (or you could use lemon and lime juice as well)
16 oz. can tomato sauce
4 oz tomato paste

Directions

  1. When chopping vegetables, be careful with the hot peppers. I didn’t wear gloves a few months back and seeded and chopped about 20 jalapeños. I experienced some pretty intense burns on my hands…I don’t wish that on anyone! I used my little food processor this time for the peppers and garlic. Super fast work of a tedious job!
  2. Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes.
  3. Heat rubber rimmed tops in hot water, not boiling.
  4. Pour salsa into hot sterlized jars, wipe rims with a damp paper cloth. Place rubber rimmed tops on and tighten ring.
  5. Process for 15 minutes for pints.

Makes 9 pints.

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