Monday, April 2, 2012

kitchen sink wisdom

I'm really happy to share my newest blog - Kitchen Sink Wisdom. It's a blog about home, and food, and living. I like to think of it as an online version of the simplest lifestyle magazine you can imagine - only without the annoying banner ads. Or recipes for cupcakes, next to stern articles about fitness and diet.

And with more soul. For the times when you need it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

where do you go from here?

Hello beautiful person! Thank you for finding this blog. I'm so glad you came.

I am slowly moving all of the original content from this blog to my new blog, here. I hope you'll check it out. It's all about eco-friendly cleaning, organizing, healthy living, art, design and my life.

Peace out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

how i cook soup every morning for my bag lunch

Okay, so technically this "two-minutes-or-less" video is slightly more than two minutes. My bad. But in my defense, the recorded part is about two minutes. It's just the credits that make it longer.

Anyhow. In slightly more than two minutes I show you how I cook soup every weekday morning for my bag lunch.

When people find out how restricted my diet is (I'm vegetarian and don't eat refined sugar, gluten, eggs or most dairy), they want to know what I *do* eat. And a lot of people are intrigued by the fact that I eat (homemade) soup every day for lunch. So here goes...

I make most of the ingredients ahead of time (in other words, they're basically leftovers), and assemble everything right before I leave for work.

For this recipe you'll need :

two cups of a hearty, potato-based soup
one cup of cooked brown rice
some cooked beans (in this video I'm using chick peas and navy beans)
some fresh ginger
some dried herbs and spices
and some salt

You'll also need:

a kettle
a French coffee press
a skillet or sauce pan
a large liquid measuring cup
and some thermoses or other food storage containers

Fill your kettle with water and boil the water.

While the water's boiling, peel the skin off the fresh ginger with a paring knife and grate the fresh ginger with a grater or kitchen rasp. I love lots of ginger, so I usually grate a big chunk.

Put the grated ginger and the boiled water in the French coffee press, and let the ginger tea steep.

Meanwhile, in the measuring cup put the cooked brown rice, the cooked beans, and the soup. Stir everything together.

I vary the seasonings from day to day, but in this video I've added half a teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning, half a teaspoon of whole, dried rosemary, a large pinch of mustard powder and a pinch of garam masala, which is Indian cooking spice mix.

Add enough ginger tea to make three cups of soup. The rice will absorb a lot of the extra liquid throughout the morning, so the soup won't be too watery by the time you eat it for lunch.

Oh, and add a few shakes of salt.

Put the soup in a skillet (which is faster) or a sauce pan (which takes longer) and heat the soup until it starts to simmer.

Put the heated soup in your thermoses, add a spoon, and you're good to go.

What do you do with the extra ginger tea? Drink it like I do, or save it in a jar in the fridge for soup stock. Yes, really.

The End.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

how to cook rapini

Hello beautiful person! Thank you for finding this blog post. Unfortunately I have moved all of this post's scintillating original content to my new blog, here.

Peace out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

what's on my plate - today for lunch

The Meal: Pretend ratatouille with some extras added. Read: Leftovers PLUS.

A friend of mine once told me she loved leftovers because it meant one less meal she had to cook. I love leftovers. Not because I hate cooking, but because the economy of using up food that has not outlived its purpose really appeals to me. Or I'm just cheap. Yeah, probably that.

Above is today's lunch: Some leftover pretend ratatouille, with chopped raw cucumber added. And a bit of sea salt, dried oregano and garam masala on top.

The Verdict: Thumbs down. The cucumber was a bit much. Now my stomach is roiling a bit. The pictures look pretty, though.

Monday, September 7, 2009

pretend ratatouille

Level of difficulty: I'm guessing most people wouldn't find this hard, except that it takes a long time to cook the eggplant. And you have to roast the peppers ahead of time. If it's any consolation, I use raw tomatoes in this recipe. So THAT'S one less thing to cook. But yeah - possibly not for the ADD among us.

So this isn't even real ratatouille. And man, is that hard to spell. Even with eight years of French classes.

Classic ratatouille is a stew-like dish with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and stuff. Which is all more-or-less in this recipe. But I wasn't really thinking I was making ratatouille when I was cooking it. More like I'd just bought some eggplants from the farmer's market, and wanted a good way to eat them.

I got two eggplants for $1 at the farmer's market. Here's my cat Tear with the eggplants. He and his brother, Guy, have recently learned how to jump up on my kitchen counter. I am so delighted.

After taking the boys off the counter several times, I kind of gave up. Cat hair is bound to become a new favorite seasoning of mine. Fair warning, if you ever come over for dinner.

The cats seem to prefer my food on the floor, too. I was a little too busy taking pictures of roasting peppers to prevent this.

Lying in wait on the other side of the sink for their next opportunity.

So anyhow... slice the eggplant into 3/4 inch rounds, then dice it. Some people do fancy things to their eggplant after cutting it and before cooking it. I don't even want to know about that. I don't do fancy things to my eggplant, and it always tastes fine.

Yes, this is the same zucchini that was on the floor moments ago. Look - I washed it. Also: It was the only zucchini I had. Sue me.

The chopped vegetables.

I made this recipe all out of order. You should really chop the onions first. Here are some nice Spanish onions that I also got from the farmer's market - six for $4. (The zucchini was from my parents' garden, BTW. It cost me zero monies.)

Chop the onion.

Meanwhile, still trying to thwart the cats, I tried putting a frying pan on the their only access to the kitchen counter. As you can see from the kitty butt in the lower right-hand corner, the pan wasn't much of a deterrent.

Baby Guy watching for another "really piss Michelle off" opportunity.

Fry the onion in olive oil. Here's my favorite brand of olive oil. It used to be the cheapest, which was awesome because I also thought it was the best-tasting. It's gone up in price since then. Not so awesome.

Saute the onions until they look kind of like this.

Add the chopped eggplant and zucchini. I chopped way too much eggplant and zucchini. Had to saute it in two batches. This is the part that takes the longest time. Like, much longer than it should. I'm betting it took more than 20 minutes for each batch of eggplant to cook. You know it's cooked when it's all soft and brown. I neglected to take a photo of that part. My bad. When you're done cooking the eggplant, BTW, if you're feeling really frugal, you could deglaze the pan and use the yummy eggplant and onion flavouring in other dishes. If you wanted.

Take the eggplant off the heat and add some roasted peppers. ADD Tip: Roast the peppers before even thinking of starting the eggplant. Just saying.

Add salt to taste.

Here's what the cooked eggplant and peppers look like.

Add some chopped, raw tomatoes, and you too can eat something this festive-looking.

Cost per serving: Let's see... $0.67 for the onion, $1 for the eggplant, $0 for the zucchini, $0 for the tomatoes (also from Mom and Dad's garden)... This recipe makes a lot - it would probably feed at least four people. So that makes... $0.42/serving. Holy crap! That's, like, hardly anything! You could SO pay 10 bucks for this stuff (minus the cat hairs, admittedly) in a French restaurant...

The End.

how to deglaze a pan

Level of difficulty: Not very hard, but definitely high on the gross factor. Quick gag reflexes may want to step out of the room.

So being really frugal, yet really loving to eat good food, means finding ways to use nearly everything. Like those little brown bits left over in the frying pan when you're done cooking something messy, like eggplant.

One complaint many meat eaters have about vegetarian food is that it doesn't have enough flavour. When you're used to dead, cooked animal flesh flavouring everything you eat, I guess I can understand the complaint. Because who wouldn't want to bite into something that tasted like dead, cooked animal flesh, right?

But anyhow... the way for vegetarian cooks to give their food a richer, more complex flavour is to use a few tricks like the one described in this deglazing technique.

(Obligatory definition of deglazing: Umm... from the prefix "de-," meaning to undo, and the word "glaze," meaning glass? BTW, I really don't recommend trying to take broken glass out of food. Ever. And this post isn't about eating broken glass, okay?)

[Later insertion for clarification: What I mean is, if you break glass in food - which I have done many times, and it's not pretty - do not try to salvage the food. The broken-glass infused food is garbage. Just so we're clear.]

For this technique I started out by cooking some eggplant and onions for a really great pretend ratatouille. After the vegetables were done cooking, there was this disgusting mess left in the pan. Now, I'm not averse to washing dishes, but I have a latent lazy streak that manifests at odd moments, so if I can figure out a way to get rid of a brown mess AND come up with a practical way of utilizing the brown mess in a future recipe...

(Plus, if the truth be told, I'm always trying to capture more iron in my food - and cooking liquids in cast iron pans has to be the iron jackpot, I'm sure.)

Add some liquid to the pan. In this case, I had some homemade vegetable stock (aka the cooking water from some potatoes that I'd put in a jar and frozen) on hand. You could also use water, or leftover wine if you're feeling especially frisky.

Use a spatula to scrape all the little brown bits off the pan, and stir them into the liquid.

Let the liquid simmer on high heat for a few minutes, until it reduces (some of it evaporates a bit). Stir frequently.

Pour the resulting liquid into a glass jar. I tend to favour doing this in my sink because, you know. Spills. That cool-looking speckled black thing is a canning funnel. It fits into the mouths of canning jars - which I always use to store food - and helps me not spill everything all over the place. Helps.

The brown liquid in the canning jar.

Now, I do realize this looks totally gross. But trust me - use just a little bit of this stuff in a recipe like French onion soup, and nobody will miss the dead animal flesh. You can also use this liquid to make vegetarian gravy, which is awesome over mashed potatoes. I personally avoid gluten, so you probably won't be finding a vegetarian gravy recipe anywhere on this blog, but go for it.

Cost per serving: I'm gonna say $0. Because really, the brown stuff is free. And so is the cooking water.

The End.