Sunday, 29 April 2012

Another "Homemade" Sunday: Growing Kitchen Greens

Bok Choy + Celery goodness!
Getting tired of running out of celery for your lunches? Love the taste and health benefits of bok choy, but constantly buying big bunches only to see them go to waste? Well look no further . . your solution is here!

Maybe I should've gone into advertising instead . . or maybe not. ANYWAY, the idea I'm suggesting in this post still accomplishes all of the above, plus it's a great conversation piece on your kitchen counters.

This is basically an experiment of which I know very little at this point, but one that I trust will work - since it already is after a couple of short days! My partner and I go through celery pretty damn quickly and are starting to fill up freezer 'broth-bags' quicker than we expected to. So, he came up with a pretty neat idea (after doing some research on which veggies this actually works with): growing your own bok choy and celery indoors. What you need for this is rather simple:

- shallow reusable container
- water
- ends of bok choy and/or celery (or maybe even other veggies - let me know what works for you :)

Essentially, all you need to do is place the ends of the veggie stalks into the water, move them around your kitchen to find the sun, and watch them grow! We've been doing this for about 3 days and the sprouts are really popping. The bok choy especially . . very cool to watch! This experiment costs nothing to do and the results will be rather tasty. 

Let me know how it goes. Good luck :)  

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Rant Against the Machine

So, my post today will be a short one - albeit one with lots of opinions as opposed to food sharing. An occurrence in my life in the past week has resonated with me and I'm hoping something similar hasn't happened to anyone else making the effort to alter their own lifestyle...if it has, then this one's for you!

Whichever city you're in, give 'em a whirl!
My general qualm is with people who don't appreciate others' efforts to reduce waste and to live differently than what they may deem to be "normal" (a word that I truly DESPISE!) The long and the short of it is, on one of my weekly visits to the London Farmer's Market I was treated rather rudely by my usual apple farmer. Now, let me first be VERY clear that I still believe this market to be a fabulous one and all the farmers and vendors that partake in it to be friendly, good-minded people. 

It just so happened that on this one particular Saturday morning, when I asked to please dump my purchased apples into my own basket rather than take them in the bag within which they were lying in the farmer's basket, I felt rather annoyed. The woman at the stall obviously remembered my similar request from previous weeks, rolled her eyes, said, "oh ya..right" and then walked away leaving me to struggle with the large baskets on my own. Usually friendly, yes. Accepting of my desire to not accept fresh apples in a useless plastic bag, no.

Now, this will certainly not deter me from purchasing produce at this farmer's stall, but I ask: why the unnecessary judgement for something that causes no inconvenience to the stall and actually saves them money by leaving an extra bag? Search me. I found it even more odd to have this interaction at a market where customers are encouraged to return used egg cartons for refilling and where cheese counters applaud cheese-cloth vs. paper. 

Available in most home stores.
So, instead of saying "Ah well" and moving on with my life, I've decided to put out a big "Piffle on them!" (as my Brit Mum + Dad would say) to encourage all of you eco-lifestyle-striving people to keep up with what you're doing. By not accepting bags or presenting my own travel mug to coffee counters, I've encountered varied reactions - all of which I take with a grain of salt. I mean, who are you doing this for anyway, right? But when those negative, unwilling individuals step into your path, it can be offsetting. 

With this "short rant" already being significantly longer than expected, I'll end simply. Continue bringing your laundry bags to the store or farmer's market, refuse others' refuse, and smile while doing it. Other interested people may be watching ;)

P.S. Please check out Wild Craft Permaculture: a website for a company we discovered at a convention today - incredible garden ideas, workshops, and solutions. Permaculture is the new green! 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Homemade Sundays - Spicy Style

Pound out your stresses in the best way ever!
After our 2-yr stint in South Korea, we traveled through SE Asia exploring incredible cities and villages, renting some sketchy scooters, and tasting the best food in the world (don't take my word for it!)

While in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we decided to take a break from Muay Thai fighting matches and night markets and actually learn to make some of the delicious food we were eating. So, sign up for a day-long cooking class at Baan Thai Cookery School we did; complete with market trip to buy our ingredients and a full day of tasting everything (no movement that night). Best culinary experience ever. 

Beyond the eating, the people, and the location, the cookbook we were given at the end of our day made the stove-filled hours VERY worthwhile. One of the 'dishes', so to speak, that is a must-make for curry lovers and natural spice enthusiasts is the Green Curry Paste. Packed with enough punch to make any eyes water and enough flavor to leave you in a delighted haze, this recipe will make enough paste to fit the above tupperware, and will last for ages (only 1 tbsp for a 4-serving curry!)   

Thai ppl know their Mortars.
You'll never buy a jar of curry sauce again!

Thai Green Curry Paste

15 green fresh chilies
3 tbsp shallot
1 tbsp garlic
50 g chopped galangal (Thai ginger - easy to find in most Asian grocery stores)
1/2 tbsp chopped lemongrass
1 tsp ginger (the 'regular' stuff)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chopped lime peel
1 tsp chopped coriander root (using the stems from fresh coriander works very well)
1 tsp turmeric powder

1. Put garlic, green chilies, and turmeric into the mortar and pound well.

2. Add lemongrass, galangal, coriander root, lime peel, and pound well.

3. Add shallot, ginger, and pound well. (See a pattern yet??)

4. Add salt and pound until smooth and fine.

** A full 9 hrs of market-ing, mortar pounding, frying, and tasting brings out the biggest smiles in the dirtiest of backpackers <3
Baan Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai 

Friday, 13 April 2012

Skip the Sodium . . Stew your Scraps!

A little bit of this . . a little bit of that!

When my husband first suggested we start collecting our veggie and fruit scraps in bags in the freezer, I thought he was nuts. Isn't that what a compost is for?! Living in Ontario, Canada, however, doesn't make composting through the winter months so easy. Thus spawned the idea for the tastiest Veggie Broth we've ever had.

The process is probably the easiest you'll ever read: 

- Place plastic shopping bags/large freeze-able tupperwares in your freezer.
- Throw in ANY scraps from veggies and fruit. That includes seeds and onion skin. Just be careful with how many fruit cores you add. Too many apples and pears = a bitter broth. Egg shells work too, just not every time you have one.
- When your bags/tupperwares are pleasantly full, dump them in a large pot, cover them with water, add your preferred spices (we tried oregano, basil, and thyme) and a few garlic cloves (skin on), and boil it up!
- Boil it down for a good hour or more and then sieve out the veggie scraps.

I'm very proud to say that the only credit necessary in this post is my very own partner. His desire to make use of every part of the food we eat is inspiring. Not only that, but I can officially say that he's the best Veggie Broth maker I know.  

So save those bits (no garbages required here!) and boil them down. The sodium detectors in your body will love you and the taste of your rice/soup/whatever you cook will ramp up your tastebuds.


** Storage Tip **
A great way to store your broth is in an ice cube tray. That way you have easy-to-pop-out morsels awaiting your next culinary creation :)
Ready and Willing ;)


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Enjoying Vegan & Gluten Free. Yes . . . enjoying.

Happy Egg-Chick-Chocolate Day everyone :)
This long weekend has been a time for relaxation, cold beers with family, and delicious homemade treats. 

However, the challenge with that has become pleasing the palette of my Mum -  who has recently been diagnosed as Celiac. Therefore, "catch ya later cheaper 10kg bags of flour", and "howdy gluten free flour blends and experimentation!"

On my normal Saturday morning journey to London, Ontario's Western Fair Farmer's Market, I was on a special mission to find yummy, locally made Easter treats for the entire family. That's when I fell upon Sweet Lemon, a vegan, gluten, dairy, and additive free bakery booth run by the friendliest pair around. Making my choice was a tricky one, but once I found out that even the yellow coconut flakes were dyed naturally with sweet spices, I couldn't resist.

So, although this post comes sans recipe, it comes with a message that eating naturally and with restrictions in mind can still be fun and freeing. Plus it tastes DELISH <3

Friday, 6 April 2012

Whole Wheat Holiday Waffles

MUCH better than sugar-coated cereal!
Waking up on a Friday holiday off work is awesome for a number of reasons:

- there's no alarm involved.
- a cold 6:30am shower can be seriously  delayed.
- breakfast can be more than the usual rushed piece of toast...

...and so brings me to today's post: a healthy, whole-wheat take on a classic breakfast treat. Yes, there's butter and oil in them, and sure, adding even more butter and maple syrup is the fun part . . but the smell of them cooking and their homemade benefits far outweigh any anti-fat arguments out there. And besides - who cares!? Waffles are meant to be enjoyed. And on a stat holiday, that's likely to happen at no time earlier than at least 11:30am.

Whole Wheat Holiday Waffles

1 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup milk (soy worked GREAT this morning - much lighter)
2 large eggs - separated
4 tbsp shortening melted (or 2 tbsp softened butter, 2 tbsp oil - preferred for me)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

1. Beat the egg yolks well. Add the milk and shortening/butter + oil mix.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add to the first bowl and beat them together until smooth.

3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter. Sift the baking powder lightly over the mixture and fold in quickly. 

4. Bake it all up into a hot waffle iron. Get syrupy and enjoy :)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Homemade Sundays: Granola Bar Revival!

Delicious and Healthy - you can't go wrong!
Sundays are typically a day for sleeping in, relaxing, and (if you're that way inclined), working out in prep for the week ahead.

Another fabulous way to start the week is to spend a bit of Sunday turning your kitchen into a "Haven of Homemade-ness". That's right - instead of dashing to the store to buy a box of bars for the work week, you can spend 20 mins making your own! 
              *pause for reaction*

These bars aren't specifically Veggie, although they're most definitely meat-free and extremely tasty. Keep them in an air-tight container on your counter and they'll last as long as your willpower will allow. Enjoy!

Chunky, Chewy Granola Bars

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (extract is fine, but pure is the best!)
2/3 cup butter (softened so that it's easy to play with)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    + whatever your heart desires! 
         --> I add coconut, raisins, and sunflower seeds. I'd love to get your take on it!

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9x13" pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, honey, and brown sugar. Stir in everything else you want :)
3. Press the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 18-22 mins. (I stopped at 20 so they'd be extra chewy). Let them cool for 10 mins or so before cutting and moving the bars.

Credit: Recipe base taken from Canada