Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic Mayhem!

Braved the crowds weekend before last and went downtown to check out all the Olympic action. Well, no actual sporting events in person...but it's practically like Expo in the city, there is so much to see and do.

I must admit, having no children along, it was more or less "house" to "house" (aka very fancy beer tent to very fancy beer tent). Street party atmosphere at every turn. I saw some great looking food, as you probable guessed, not all that much vegan outside of all things deep fried. I found out later that Saskatchewan House had a fantastic lentil burger on offer - well hooray my Sask friends, as your logo says, you are the "pulse of the nation". Wish I had tried it!

I did have a half dozen samosas over the few days from various Indian food vendors...meal of champions. And I found a new spice vendor from North Van who had a table set up at the night market - I've got 3 new spice blends to try out.

Here's the torch being passed runner to runner in Chilliwack...

View from the north side of the Art Gallery - Fur Protesters...

View from the other side of the Art Gallery - packed! Zip line overhead, skating at Robson Square (under dome), people everywhere.

First Nations House (outside QE Theatre)...looks amazing at night.

Sochi House (at Science World) and Athlete's Village around the bend on south side of False Creek.

One of the many vendors at the Night Market...found a few tasty vegan nibbles..

Cauliflower Dal

I know the term curry means a lot of things, and different things to different people...but pretty much anytime that label is attached to a dish, I'm going to like it!

Tonight I tried something called Cauliflower Dal Panch Phoron. Panch Phoron, or Indian 5-Spice as I have seen it called, is made up of Fenugreek, Nigella seed, black Mustard seed, whole cumin seed and Fennel seed, and they are left whole.

The recipe originated on Susan V's fatfreevegan blog...
Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran | Recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Her pics of the dish are really appetizing. Check out the nutritional info, it's a power packed one dish meal. I served it with a carrot & cumin paratha on the side. I changed some minor things (a little more oil for one), and I found it a little more watery than I would normally like, so I would cut the water down a bit next time. It makes a huge batch, I'll be having it for many lunches to come.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chocolate Chip Bars - becomes cake

Here it is, the final remnant of a fabulous batch of Chocolate Chip Bars from How it all Vegan (HIAV).

HIAV recipes always work out well for me, even after playing around with them. This one called for 1 full cup of oil - knowing I would likely be eating at least 1/3 of the batch and still trying to trim my waistline, I swapped out half of that oil with soy yogurt. The recipe said to "pour" the batter into the pan...well, it wasn't anywhere near pourable so I added nearly 1/2 a cup more liquid.

And who can remember what flours I used! A bit of this, a bit of that! (Barley, unbleached all purpose and some spelt I think).

The end result was a slightly healthier chocolate chip cake that was extremely moist and delicious and didn't last long.

Ginger Peanut Noodles and little men

Ahhh...nothing warms your heart more than watching your 3 year old enjoy a meal you've prepared, especially one that wouldn't be considered a normal kid-pleaser.

It was just my little guy and I tonight, pickier older sister wasn't around to point out all things, mushy, spicy or chewy.

I know spicy peanut noodles and stir-fries are nothing new, but here's my latest take on it...using vinegar instead of lime juice and cutting down on the amount of oil and calories, without losing flavour. These things are always on hand, I think you could make quite a fridge clearing meal out of it!

Tonight I used the sauce with buckwheat noodles and lots of green veg. Garnished with fresh cilantro and gomashio.

Ginger Peanut Stir-Fry Sauce
Makes 1/2 cup - enough for 2

1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1 tbsp soy or braggs
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (any vinegar should work)
1 tsp chili oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1" cube fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dry mustard (powder)
1 tsp honey
water (about 2 tbsp)
2 tsp cornstarch

Use a glass measuring cup and mix everything together, adding enough water to get you to 1/2 cup (should be 2 tbsp).

Add to stir-fried noodles, veg, tofu etc. Add extra soy/braggs and/or water if things get too sticky.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Soup Muffins - what's not to like?

What better to go with some hearty lentil & tomato soup today but a batch of Spicy Soup Muffins from HIAV. I love these muffins - you can get away with using nearly any flour and they seem to always work out. You can trrrry to eat just one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Simple Leek & Potato Soup

That's simple in a good way...! Made this soup last night, turned out to be quite a child pleaser, they licked their bowls clean. Nothing fancy here but sometimes, that's better (not to mention, well, simpler).

It's based on a Jamie Oliver recipe, which was posted on recipezaar, from the latest edition of Cooking Light.

2 leeks (about 1 lb)
6 cups veggie broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups onions, chopped (about 1 lb)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Trim leeks, revove outer leaves and tops. Cut each in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 1/2" slices. Immerse in cold water to clean thoroughly, swirl & drain.

In a saucepan bring the broth to a boil and then keep at medium-low heat while you saute the veg.

Heat oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven on medium high heat. Add leek, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Partially cover, and cook 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the hot broth and potato to the veg and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until potato is tender. Stir in pepper and salt.

Serve chunky as-is or puree with an immersion blender.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Veganized Palak Paneer (tofu)

What did I say, curry on the brain. I love spinach curry and wanted to veganize using tofu of course instead of paneer. My picture isn't so great unfortunately.

This is the result of combining the best of two great recipes - the tried and trusted version from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking...and a version I came across on another vegan blog (the blog is no longer around otherwise I'd point you there). I thought the end result was pretty amazing. It's simple but there are lots of steps and unfortunately a fair whack of dishes to wash up afterwards.


350 g firm tofu (one package, firm or extra)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice (sub lime if need be)
1 teaspoon canola oil (any light oil or coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
sea salt, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder (note there is some chili powder again in the spinach, so all depending, you might want to omit it here)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 bunches fresh spinach (I use a 284 gram pre-washed "tub" of baby spinach)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 medium onion
2 fresh garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or 1 fresh green chili)
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
sea salt, to taste
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or sub corn starch)
1/4 cup plain soymilk (or sub almond or rice milk, etc)


Prepare the tofu beforehand by pressing out some of the moisture. The easiest way to do this is to place the block of tofu in a colander, placing a plate on top and then weighing it down with a tin of soup or a heavy skillet. It takes about 1/2 an hour, but you could leave this for however long you need to in the fridge.

Cut the pressed tofu into one inch cubes.

Combine the next 7 ingredients, (grated ginger, lemon juice, oil, turmeric, garam masala, sea salt and chili powder if using). Toss in the tofu and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes, or longer if need be. Try to turn a couple of times so that the marinade gets evenly distributed.

Final step with the tofu is to saute it in about 1 tbsp of the oil. Try to get each side lightly golden. You can use more oil if you want to -- I'm just trying to keep the calories as low as possible. Set aside once done or do ahead of time.

Moving on - the spinach. In a dutch oven or large saute pan, heat up about an inch of water. While that's boiling, chop the spinach roughly and then add to the boiling water, steaming until tender (a matter of a few minutes). Once done, turn off the heat and then drain out about 1/4 cup of the liquid into a measuring cup. Once you've taken that 1/4 cup out, there shouldn't be a whole lot left. Set the 1/4 cup of spinach water aside and then puree what's left in the pot together with the steamed spinach. I like to just use an immersion blender right there in the pot -- or you could move to a blender or something similar. Set the spinach aside.

Putting it together - using a mini-blender or food processor, combine the onion, ginger, garlic, fresh chili if using, and the 1/4 cup spinach water - puree into a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in the paste (watch out, it will splatter) and fry it for about 30 seconds. Then add your other spices and diced tomatoes. Lower the heat and let that cook gently for about 5 minutes, watching it doesn't burn.

Add in your pureed spinach and season to taste with salt.

Combine the arrowroot powder with the soy milk in a small dish. Once you've removed the lumps, gently stir it in and let the sauce thicken up for a few more minutes. Lastly, add in the tofu and let it warm through, about 10 more minutes.

Done! Serve with rice or naan etc -- garnish with fresh cilantro if you like, or some more diced fresh tomato.

Soup was on....

This soup was so crazy easy, I'm really craving another batch of it...came via recipezaar and originally from Veg Times' Jan09 issue. Made it too spicy for my children, (oh oops), ah well more for me. I have curry flavours on the brain at the mo.


I made this back in the fall and it's still on my mind to make it again. I remember that I didn't have any plain "milk" in the house, so ended up using some vanilla - which sounds terrible but it didn't really matter. I think it's time to make this again. Found on The Vegan Mouse's blog, which I really enjoy.

The Vegan Mouse: Kidney Bean Mushroom Curry

Where I'm at....

This vegan thing is pretty new to me. I've racked up a whole 4 or 5 months under my belt.

I have been the solo vegetarian in my family for 15+ years. Toyed with the idea of a vegan diet for years(?), maybe seriously in the last year, and finally it felt like the right time about 4 months ago. I wish I had done it sooner because I know it's right for me.

I've come to realize that with changes like this, it's ok to go in small steps. So I feel OK about taking so long to get to this point.

There is always room for improvement....I'm trying to avoid packaged food as much as I possibly can. Finding quick and easy things that will please young children is always on my radar screen. Got to plan ahead or it's cereal for dinner (and hey, that's OK now and again).