Archive for November, 2009

My struggle with(out) meat

November 30, 2009

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m vegetarian. Or, “fake vegetarian”, as I often call myself, as I’ve always eaten fish. Technically I guess I’m a lacto-ovo-pescetarian (dairy, egg, and fish). And while fish has remained a part of my diet, it was only recently that I started eating it fairly regularly. I  kept fish partially because then I’d always at least have *one* option when going out to eat with friends, who often picked steakhouses or other places where veggie options were hard to come by. I kept fish in when I later became obsessed with sushi.

I’ve been veggie since I started at Purdue in 2000 – so we’re nearing the 10 year mark. It’s still a bit hard to process that it’s been nearly 10 years since I first moved away to school, but that’s another topic… (more…)

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Sweet Sesame Meringue

November 29, 2009

For dinner tonight, Adam and I used Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for inspiration, and decided on pasta. Not having any store bought pasta on hand, I decided to go ahead and make fresh – really not so hard with the Kitchenaid attachment we’ve blogged about before. I used the Bittman recipe this time, and it calls for 2 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks… leaving me 3 egg whites. I then turned to the meringue section and found many recipes calling for 4 egg whites – so in the end I only wasted 1 yolk.

These turned out lovely – crisp on the outside and chewy inside, and the toasted sesame orange combo  worked really well. Definitely something I’ll do again in similar circumstances.

Sweet Sesame Meringue:

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Organic Milk Taste Test

November 28, 2009

 

Organic vs. Regular milk

In reading up a bit about what is “worth it” with organic and what isn’t, and one thing that keeps showing up on lists is dairy in general. We recently decided that we want to at least try to go with organic milk, preferably a local brand. I’ve also heard that organic milk tastes better than “regular” – is this true?

We just came home with our first batch of organic milk from a local supplier – Organic Meadow brand skim milk, from Guelph, Ontario. We compared it with the last of our old batch of milk, a non-organic certified skim from Beatrice.

Could we tell a difference? Eh… sort of. Not a huge difference by any means, but I would say that the organic tasted a bit fresher and well, milkier. As in, unless I had them side by side I don’t think I could say which was better – but when comparing immediately next to each other the organic is certainly what I would pick.

 

This Week’s Haul

November 28, 2009

Between our first Green Earth Organics veggie delivery in a while and our first visit to the Green Barn Market in months, we ended up with quite the haul. Having just perused Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, we’re inspired to try a bunch of new things using some ingredients familiar to us, and some not so much. What we have to work with this week:

This week's haul

From the left (sort of): Local farm eggs, chestnuts, mustard greens, sourdough bread, broccoli, celery, israeli couscous, bulgar, molasses, red leaf lettuce,beets, mango, pomegranates, zucchini, cucumber, butternut squash, apples, potatoes. Woo! I’m excited to eat/cook this week!

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

November 27, 2009

Adam just brought home Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian from the library and we just spent about 20 minutes flipping through it. I think we’ve already found at least 100 recipes we want to make. Right away. We may never be leaving the kitchen again!

…. and it’s already officially been added to my Chrismukkah wishlist.

California Vacation, Part 2: San Diego

November 27, 2009

After spending 3 wonderful days in Santa Barbara for my brother’s wedding, Adam and I decided to extend our trip a bit and spend some time in San Diego. I’d been to San Diego before, but Adam never had – so we were looking forward to exploring it together.

Off to San Diego..

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Baby It’s Cold Outside: Ideal Warm Cocktail

November 27, 2009

 

Hot Nuts

Ok, so it’s really not that cold out there yet. In fact, this may be the first November in years that Toronto has gone snow-free. But we are getting into the time of year when it’s dark by the time we’re home from work, and just cold enough that the dark walk home makes you want something to warm up with when you get through the door.

 

Enter the world’s best (and simplest!) warm cocktail: Hot Nuts.

This was introduced to us by my mom, and while I’ve seen other fancier recipes out there, this version is too simple to mess up and too yummy to bother changing. We decided to bring out this winter cocktail early this year partially because Adam happened to be bringing home a small container of whipping cream for a bread pudding recipe I was making (which includes a yummy and decadent bourbon sauce, which has a few tablespoons whipping cream…mmmmm, can’t wait to eat that tonight!). With whipping cream being the only ingredient we wouldn’t usually have on hand, I thought this the perfect chance to make up one of these yummy desserty warm cocktails. Here’s the deal:

  • Get a kettle going with boiling water.
  • Fill up a lowball glass about halfway with Amaretto
  • Fill up the rest of the glass with boiling water, leaving a bit of room on the top.
  • Put a dollup of fresh whipped cream on top . (No, it doesn’t *need* to be fresh whipped. Use the stuff out of the can if that’s what you have on hand.)

Enjoy!

California Vacation, Part I: Santa Barbara

November 25, 2009

On November 14, Cari and I had a very special event to attend: her brother Dan’s wedding to the wonderful Liana in Santa Barbara, California.

We decided early on that we wanted to turn this weekend trip to California into a proper vacation and before we knew it we were in the car, headed down to Buffalo.  We have frequently sung the praises of flights out of Buffalo since they are a mere fraction of the cost of those out of Toronto.  We usually make the most of it, driving down the night before our flight for a relaxed dinner and hotel stay to kick-off our vacation.

Our flight was extremely early in the morning, but this had us arriving in Los Angeles before lunchtime so it was well worth it.  An otherwise longish flight was made even easier thanks to in-seat DirectTV, which cost $6 but was well worth it as it gave us the opportunity to watch the delightful Julie & Julia.

Day 1 – Los Angeles to Santa Barbara (more…)

US Thanksgiving Dinner 2009, Part 2: Roasting and Eating the Monster Turkey

November 24, 2009

(…or how Adam and I cooked a meal for 16 people -including a 21lb turkey- and survived)

Following up on yesterday’s post, the turkey has now been brining for about 16 hours, and it’s time to do the final preparations and get that thing in the oven. So after a morning of getting other things prepped, we got the turkey out of the fridge. This part was pretty easy, really. We rinsed it off, and stuck the aromatics from Alton Brown’s recipe inside. Then I just tied up the legs with some kitchen twine and tucked the wings under to prevent burning.

Just about ready to go in the oven.

Now, I was a bit wary of one part of that recipe – the only thing it coated the skin with was canola oil with no other flavourings. I was worried it wouldn’t make for a flavourful enough skin – and so I poked around a bit more. I ended up sort of combining two recipes – I skipped the canola oil and did a butter rub as per Food Wishes blog post. He just made it seem so easy!

I made the herbed butter (a bit of my own combo of spices) and rubbed it up inside the turkey skin. His video gives a great tutorial on how to do that – it really wasn’t too bad. I tried rubbing it on the outside as well, but it didn’t really spread out so evenly – so I rubbed it as best I could and then melted the rest and kind of poured it over the top. I got it as coated as I could, an stuck it in the oven. The only other thing I did was chop up some carrot, celery, and onion and stick it in the bottom of the roasting pan along with about an inch of water as per Food Wishes’ blog. This is probably the one part I wish I’d just skipped.

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US Thanksgiving Dinner 2009, Part I: Prepping the Monster Turkey

November 23, 2009

(…or how Adam and I cooked a meal for 16 people -including a 21lb turkey- and survived)

As an American living in Canada, I have taken it upon myself to bring Thanksgiving to November for my Canadian friends. Even after being here for 6 Canadian Thanksgivings, I’ve never really gotten used to the idea of Thanksgiving being in October… and on a Monday. It just doesn’t seem right.

So 5 years ago, when Adam and I first had our apartment together, I decided to invite a few friends over for a US Thanksgiving dinner. That year was quite small – 6 people total. As big of a gathering as our 700 sq ft apartment could handle. We also kept it a bit non-traditional and skipped the turkey. It instead became a Vegetarian US Thanksgiving – with the main course being my now famous mac & cheese along with some roasted veggies in a puff pastry cornucopia (I was so proud of those!), a recipe found in an issue of Vegetarian Times (they keep their recipes locked or I’d include the link).

 

Table set: Dinner for 16 (plus 2 babies)

It has since become an annual tradition among our friends, and now the group has ballooned up to a whopping 16 people. I really love this tradition – it means that we get to spend Canadian Thanksgiving with Adam’s family, and then US Thanksgiving with our friends.  Bit of a best of both worlds sort of situation (except for how I wish we could spend it with *my* family sometime, but I guess that’s what happens when I move to another country). Anyway, I’ve started offering the traditional turkey, and this year I finally stopped wimping out… no more cook-from-frozen-pre-stuffed turkey! I’ve always kind of gone with a fingers-in-ears approach when preparing meat: I’m not eating it, so I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT IS NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH. Clearly, not the most sensible thing. If my money is going to be used to buy it, and my kitchen used to prepare it, I want to know that the meat I am buying is coming from a responsible source and that I’m not supporting factory farming. I ended up going with Fresh From The Farm – a sort of co-op of local Amish and Mennonite farmers – not organic like the widely-known The Healthy Butcher in Toronto, but also nearly 40% less cost. And as much as I want to support local/organic/humane, I also don’t want to go totally broke. And when purchasing a turkey for dinner for 16, you need a big turkey!

 

So… 21.4lb turkey. It’s big! Really really big! And I had to cook it! Eeeeek! Herein lies the rest of my comedy of errors in preparing our Thanksgiving meal (beware vegetarians… lots of details of turkey preparing below): (more…)