Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why am I up at 3am?

Well, for one, I spent like the last 4 hours or so talking to my mom about the incredible amazing awesomesauce healing effects of a plant-based diet.

We like to debate and talk loud. For long periods of time. Late into the night.

Her arguments were very quickly muted when I pulled out a DVD featuring Dr's Campbell and Esselstyn (that I got for free at Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House) talking about the incredible amazing awesomesauce stuff they talk about in Forks Over Knives (which I am taking her and my sister to see this weekend).

I think I've convinced her to go Plant-Strong for the summer to see how it affects her high cholesterol. This could be very, very exciting.

I ended up on my blog at this hour because my awesomesauce buddy thisismidget was bored and made me an awesomesauce banner for my blog, so I just had to figure out how to put it up, and miraculously, I did.

I also wanted to set a personal record for most uses of the adjective "awesomesauce" in a blog post. And I believe I have succeeded.

Awesomesauce indeed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Very Vegan Dinner Party

Ah long weekends...the perfect opportunity have lovely friends over and shove vegan food down their throats.

Such was the case on Sunday 17.0, when we were privileged to enjoy the delightful company of Susan and Andrew :)

This evening of epic eating started around 4pm. The plan was to cook and drink and eat the appies as they came out before sitting down for dinner at a respectable time. And everything went swimmingly, with the exception of sitting down for dinner at a respectable time.

Unless you consider 9:30 a respectable time. In which case everything did indeed go swimmingly.

I'm not big on experimenting with recipes when entertaining guests. Maybe some people are all confident in their cooking skills and stuff so they can wing it with guests, but I need to stick with tried, tested and true. So I pulled out my vegan bible (aka The Kind Diet) and got to work on dishes that had received a rating of at least 4 Happy Tongues from Rob the Husband in the past.

We started with Artichoke, Mushroom, and Leek Crostini with Pesto (p. 204). Turned out brilliant.

To be honest, I'd like to find a pesto recipe with a pine nut replacement, as the flavour of the pine nuts doesn't really do it for me in this pesto...but you only need a little bit for the crostini and it goes well with the other layers of this appy. This one definitely went down easy.

While I was preparing the next appy, Rob went ahead and fried up some soy chorizo to slice up. He was out to prove that processed meat substitutes can indeed be delicious meat alternative for those who think they just needzz their meat! In most cases it really does come down to the seasoning, and Trader Joe's brand soy chorizo sausage delivers.

Every time I talk about faux-meat substitutes (mmm...Tofurkey Polish sausage at Easter) I start to twitch and feel a bit defensive and find myself curbing a rant directed at those who question vegans eating processed faux-meat. Must...curb....bitching...and twitching. I got a tad bitchy in my last post on Forks Over, not bitchy...opinionated.  So this post shall be all sunshine and kittens, and I shall store away the opinions for another day.

So back to the soy chorizo. Both of our guests were thoroughly impressed, the sausage quickly disappeared, and we proceeded to the next course...Waffle, Sausage, and Cheese Panini (p. 153).

While the reviews around the table were good, this one didn't turn out as insanely delicious as it was the first time I made it. I blame Rob, who finished off the apricot jam in the fridge without telling me (how dare he eat in his home without consulting me first?), so I had to use plum jam instead for the sauce. Yah, it wasn't as good. And because I tried to make the dish appy-sized, it made a normally messy dish even more messy. The waffles kind of fell apart, but fortunately I was


Real time update there. Hells yes.

Now, where was I? Oh yah, complaining about my fortunately I was able to salvage a couple of reasonably pretty ones for our guests.

Come to think of it, these don't look reasonably pretty. Oh well. The others looked pre-chewed, so I served them to Rob. He doesn't do hilarious accents like Andrew or have gorgeous, flowing locks like Susan (whom he doesn't even bother to compliment when she spends a fortune getting her hair done...shame shame Robert), so he was fine getting the waffle that looked pre-chewed.

I will definitely make sure I have the right jam next time.

At this point we were getting pretty full, but still had a whole dinner ahead of us. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to digest while preparing the main course:

Caesar Salad (p. 175)
Cornbread (p. 163)
- Vegan Mac n' Cheese (not an Alicia recipe, but one that Rob found online and tried earlier in the week and it's from a Vancouver vegan chef and you make it with Daiya cheese and it kinda tastes like an Indian dish because it includes turmeric and curry...omg sooo good...for serious).

And of course, dessert.

Chocolate dipped strawberries courtesy of Susan (we have a telepathic connection, because I was totally going to make chocolate covered strawberries, no kidding), and Wild Blueberry Cheesecake also courtesy of Susan (with a little help from Sweets From the Earth). This cheesecake was seriously delicious. The texture reminded me more of thick whipping cream, which I loved, because I've never been a fan of dense, overly-rich cheesecake. Which reminds me, I still have have some in the fridge...I'm totally gonna score a piece. There's another real-time update...almost as exciting as the Canucks winning Game 5 in OT  and going to the Stanley Cup.

Yum. That is good cheesecake.

The more observant among you might also notice in the dessert pic some insane vegan marshmallows courtesy of Sweet and bite of these and you will find yourself asking why oh why do we need gelatin (aka bone and skin extract) to enjoy marshmallows? Here's a don't. These are RIDICULOUS.

And thus concluded our epic night of vegan around midnight. As I was walking our guests out it dawned on me that we pretty much spent the equivalent of a work day eating. But it was good eating.

I do a little happy dance whenever I can demonstrate that vegan food does not equal deprivation...that it is fun and delicious and nourishing and naughty. I know that us herbivores are in the minority, and that most people aren't ready to sell their soul to The Plant. But if I can have a kickass evening with kickass friends and kickass food and know at the end of the night that no animals had to suffer for that evening to be successful, then I'm floating.

And tonight I'm floating twice as high because the Canucks are going to the Stanley Cup HELLS YES!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The One Where I Talk About Forks Over Knives and Get All Fanatical and Stuff

Holy shit.

I am so inspired and frustrated and excited and hungry right now. And fanatical. Yup, definitely fanatical.

I saw a screening of Forks Over Knives last night at Fifth Avenue Cinemas. The movie opens in Vancouver on Friday (May 20). I was super excited to score a couple of passes from Karmavore over the weekend because I have been dying to see this film since I first watched the trailer a few weeks ago.

Let me be clear...I was totally biased going into this screening. I'm on the seventeenth week of a kind,  plant-based diet and loving it. This for me is no longer a vegan experiment, but my life. But this movie goes SO MUCH FURTHER than just validating some of my dietary changes (turns out I still have a ways to go...vegan isn't necessarily going to cut it). Its message is colossal in its implications. It's going to piss a lot of people off, but it's also going to save lives.

Everyone on the planet needs to see this movie.

Here's the bare bones summary for us mere non-science-y mortals:

Animal product intake goes up, cancer & heart disease go up.

How do we virtually eliminate heart disease and cancer? By eliminating meat and dairy and processed foods from our diets, and instead nourish and heal our bodies with nutrient rich, plant based whole foods.

That's it. No pills, no injections, no potions, no funky dances (although funky dancing certainly never hurt anybody).

As they say in the film, it's so simple it's criminal.

I'm totally reminded of that Mad TV sketch...Eat Less, Move More. While the message isn't presented in the most sensitive or politically correct way, it's funny because it's true when it comes to our general attitude towards fixing something that's wrong.

We want an easy fix. We want a pill. At least with surgery we'd be asleep.

That same attitude is evident in our reluctance to accept a plant-based diet and dump the meat and dairy.

We like meat. We like cheese and ice cream and eggs. The data show a considerable connection between these things and cancer and heart disease. I cannot fathom how a reasonable person can watch this movie, see the facts (some of which are presented in cartoon form, including a sex & food-obsessed animated shark...score), and still disregard the connection.

Roger Ebert gets it. Unfortunately, there are lots of people who don't.

I read an unfavourable review of Forks Over Knives from the New York Observer. Aside from completely misunderstanding the meaning of the title (which, incidentally, refers to eating food -forks- over surgery -knives- to prevent and treat our health problems), this critic goes on to spend about half of his review sarcastically regurgitating info from the movie (all of which is true, by the way), and offering no real counter-argument against this info.

Granted, his credibility comes into question when he insinuates that the movie suggests eating cottage cheese and tofu as part of the solution...apparantly he doesn't recognize cottage cheese as a dairy product.

Anyhoo, he also questions what the movie has to do with real life. Dude. Seriously? You are presented with clear info about HOW we are killing (yes, killing) ourselves and given a clear solution (yes, solution) to the much more relevant can something get?

An unfortunate reality is that even if the truth is right in front of us, we will do anything to get around it if we don't like it. Use sarcasm, shoot the messenger, convince ourselves the logic is flawed, try a staring at Wentworth Miller...

...ok, enough distraction.

The two main doctors featured in this movie (Campbell and Esselstyn) both grew up on farms. Dr. Campbell grew up believing, as have most of us, that milk is good for, nay, essential to a healthy, balanced diet. After all, where else would we get our calcium?

100 grams whole milk = 118 mg calcium.
100 grams almonds = 234 mg calcium.
100 grams sesame seeds = 1,160 mg calcium.
 - p. 39 of Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet.

Just sayin'.

The point is, like all of us, he grew up believing one thing. As life went on, he learned new stuff and now believes something else. Isn't this the way humans progress?

Oops...did I just compare meat and dairy to cigarettes? I wouldn't do something like that...Rob the Husband doesn't think I should (it might be going a bit too far, and some might call it a completely unsubstantiated comparison and get all huffy and want to slap me, because there is no way we would be looking back on our beloved Got Milk campaign 50 years from now and ridiculing it like we do cigarette ads from back in the day), so I totally won't. I'm a Virgo after all, and we're non-confrontational. Good thing the Forks Over Knives fb page did it first.

Yah, this movie makes some very bold claims. After the screening, we had the privilege of participating in a Q&A with Rip Esselstyn, one of the people featured in the movie and the son of Dr. Esselstyn. I noticed that the word "vegan" was rarely used in the movie, and he clarified that "Vegan" doesn't really encompass what the movie promotes. Technically, you can exist primarily on fries and coke and call yourself vegan. What we should aim for is a diet of "Plant-Based Nutrient-Rich Whole Foods".

That right there definitely gave me something to think about. This is definitely an ongoing journey. And it makes sense.

So what's stopping us? Why isn't every single one of us waking up to the shocking and rather unpleasent reality that we have created for ourselves, taking control of our health, and doing what we can to drastically reduce our risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes? If not for us, don't we owe it to our kids, who may be on their way to having the distinction of being the first generation that lives less than its parents?

Is our Western diet that sacred? Dr. Phil (who I still love and respect in spite of his milk mustache) always asks his guests, "How's that working for you?" When it comes to the Western diet, umm,'s not working for why are we so defensive of it?  Is it for the same reason that a smoker won't give up the cigarettes? Is it because we genuinely have a legitimate reason to doubt the facts? Or is it just easier for us to shrug and say that it's too hard? I like meat too much. A plant based diet is too extreme.

(As Dr. Esselstyn would remind us, having our chest split open is pretty extreme too.)

I was there. I love (yes, present tense) ice cream and steak and brie cheese and Greek yogurt and mac n' cheese balls and Moxies banana-caramel xango and the chili chicken from my favourite Ethiopian restaurant. When I first cracked open The Kind Diet months ago, I was very doubtful that a plant-based diet was something I could do long term. My original motivation for going this route was ethical, and the health benefits were secondary. Until I saw Forks Over Knives, I didn't really appreciate how monumental diet is when it comes to whether we live or die.

This is hands-down the most important film I have ever seen. The claims are bold. But the evidence to back them up is solid, and while I'm sure it's not flawless, it cannot be ignored.

But we will try to ignore it, for the same reason we ignore the brutal reality that billions of animals must face annually because we like how they taste. We will ignore it because we'd rather not imagine a picnic without deviled eggs, or Thanksgiving without a turkey. We will ignore it because it's easier this way.

That's why I ignored it for so many was easier this way. I was trying to stay content in my bubble of self-induced ignorance, because the reality of what I was supporting was ugly, but it was so normal to me that I really couldn't fathom challenging it. Habits are hard to break, and we are so used to expecting extreme remedies for our extreme problems that the healing power of a plant-based diet comes across as some sort of scam you do to an old person.

But there comes a point where we just have to stop deceiving ourselves and let the truth in.

Or not. Whatever.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Unfortunate Cali-Roll Auto-Pilot Oversight

You know that whole phenomenon when you're driving, and you just mentally check out, and end up arriving at your destination with no memory of how you got there?

That sort of happened to me, except instead of driving I was eating...and I totally remember I guess it's not a perfect analogy.

Whatever. The point of the comparison is AUTO-PILOT.

I'm not really sure how the whole auto-pilot phenomenon works. I assume it's like when the conscious part of your brain checks out for a bit and your habits take over. In my case, my habits led me to eat a California Roll. And I didn't even figure out what I had done until the next day.

Week the Sixteenth was a doozy. My Acting class was presenting their class play, which made for a hectic week and later evenings. On Wednesday 16.0, opening night, I placed a sushi order for myself after school...2 California rolls and an avocado roll. Since adopting a plant-based diet, the only sushi I've ordered have been avocado and yam tempura rolls, so I'm really not sure how I ended up ordering a Cali roll, but I did.

I guess that could be would have been easy enough to find a hungry teenager to take it off my hands that evening upon realizing my mistake. The only problem is, I didn't realize my mistake.

You'd think after picking up the sushi, bringing it back to school, opening the take-out container and seeing what was in front of me I would have tuned in to the fact that there was fish in that sushi roll. Yah, I didn't. I suppose that could be forgiven too. I mean, it was a crazy, hectic day. I was surrounded by nervous and excited students getting ready to go on stage in 3 hours. I still had programs to make and other last minute details to take care of before doors opened. It was understandable that I was functioning on auto-pilot when it came to my dinner and that I would overlook the contents of the take-out I had ordered.

Surely after taking the first bite I would realize my error.

Surely after taking the first bite the taste of pollock would register, and my brain would snap out of auto-pilot mode and make me realize I AM EATING FISH.



Well, I took the first bite. And no warning bells went off, nor did any red flags begin waving.

Again, perhaps this could also be understood. I mean, I wasn't really focussing on eating. I was dealing with last minute questions about costumes and set details, and trying to keep 22 kids on task, and trying to make sure that the music they were playing didn't have any naughty words or naughty innuendo (apparently 17 year olds don't think songs about sweat dripping down someone's balls are inappropriate to play at a school event). The whole eating thing was kind of an afterthought.

Yes, I was busy, and yes, I began eating my sushi without realizing that I was eating FISH, WHICH HAS PARENTS AND A FACE. But surely I wouldn't get through the entire meal without figuring this out.

I got through the entire meal without figuring it out.

I even ran out of soy sauce and had to take my sushi down to the staff room to get more. The change of location didn't trigger the reality that I was EATING A CALIFORNIA ROLL AND CALIFORNIA ROLLS AREN'T VEGAN.



Yah. Nothing.

I consumed my two cali rolls and my avocado roll.

I didn't realize what I had eaten after I was finished.

I didn't realize what I had eaten after the play ended with its rousing Bollywood dance number to cheers galore.

I didn't realize what I had eaten when I went to bed that night.

I didn't realize what I had eaten when I woke up the next morning, or went to work, or came home from work, or warmed up some soup upon arriving home from work.

It wasn't until later that afternoon (Thursday 16.0), watching Dr. Oz, getting ready to leave for the second night of the play and getting ready to phone in another sushi order that it hit me.

I had eaten a California roll the day before.


Holy crap. How did that happen?

Why was I just figuring this out now...24 hours later?

WTF? Seriously.

I called Rob the Husband to confess my unintentional fall from grace. You see, while I won't label myself a vegan until the day that I have no animal products in my house, until I know I will never cheat with dairy, and until I figure out if it's "vegan" or "a vegan", I have become perfectly comfortable with the Vegetarian label.

And yah, I sort of effed that up big time.

Rob just laughed and said that his record is officially better than mine now. Ass. 

I'll just have to mush up some foie gras or horse meat or veal or baby dolphin into his veggie pate. Then I'll definitely be back on top.

I suppose it could have been worse. Some people still consider themselves veggies even though they eat fish. I don't really agree with that, but everyone defines the labels as they see fit, and in my case I guess there are worse things I could have screwed up with accidentally eating (like foie gras or horse meat or veal or baby dolphin).

Can I even call it an accident? Not really. I knew I was eating a Cali-roll. Auto-pilot oversight would be more appropriate.


Anyhoo, for Week the Sixteenth we didn't try any new Kind Diet recipes, but made a couple of cool discoveries.

On Tuesday 16.0 I made an awesome salad with Little Creek dressing, as per the recommendation of my friend Heather.

This dressing and Rob's croutons (the same ones he makes from Alicia's cookbook for Caesar salad) made this salad spectacular. The falafels were Veggie Patch...pretty good, but Rob liked them better than I did.

On Sunday 16.0 Rob made lunch! He has an app called 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, and he tried a recipe called Missing Egg Sandwich. It's an "egg" salad sandwich made with silken tofu, and it's tangy and creamy and delicious!

And unlike his last cooking attempt, the house didn't end up smelling like it had been doused with cumin scented Febreeze.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Onions n' a Bake Sale Miracle

I am a lifelong hater of onions. I cannot remember a time when I actually liked them. My mom tells me that I used to like onions just fine, until the day, twenty-some-odd years ago, when I sat down at the dinner table and overheard my cousin (who isn't really my cousin but might as well be) say, "Ewwww....onions!"

This, apparently, was the origin of my profound dislike for this layered, bulbous plant. I don't think I believe my mom on this one. Onions are just nasty, and I doubt that one person saying, "Ewwwwwww...onions!" could influence me so much.

Or maybe she could...this onion-hating cousin adores mushrooms, as do I. Hmmmm...

And she came up with the ultimate solution for wardrobe malfunctions, which I also adore. Hmmmm again...

She also has bangs. I have bangs. And our middle names both end in "a"...perhaps there is more to this than I originally thought...

Anyhoo, a lot of Kind Diet recipes involve onions. I should probably admit that I've been subbing in shallots for onions in most of my recipe attempts, which is just dandy because I think I remember Gordon Ramsay including shallots among the top 5 things one must have in ones kitchen. The flavour isn't as intense and they don't make me cry as easily when I peel or fry them.

I have noticed that since I've embraced the Kind Diet and the cooking it involves, my palette seems to be less averse to onions (except when they are paired with something sweet...that's still just beyond nasty to me, though Rob the Husband likes it just fine).

On Tuesday 15.0 I figured I'd tackle this onion thing head-on, and try out a couple of recipes I'd been avoiding because of the prominence of the onions in them...Rice Pilaf with Carmelized Onions (p. 235) and Squash n' Onions (p. 275), both of which happen to be in the superhero section of the book.

To be honest, the rice pilaf didn't sound particularly interesting, but as it turned out, the ginger in it was delicious and made it something special. I didn't have a parsnip so I subbed in an extra carrot, and chopped nuts gave it a swell crunch and kept it interesting. I don't think I'm superhero enough yet to do rice as my main course, but this proved itself a very worthy would definitely work great as part of a dinner party menu as Alicia suggests.

The carmelized onions on top were tolerable...probably because they were easy to pick around. I tried to eat them...honest. But carmelized onions especially SOOOO don't do it for me. That was fine because Rob the husband loved them and was pleased to eat mine.

This dish was good, but for me, when it comes to The Kind Diet rice recipes, Alicia's Hot Rice with Cold Lemon, Basil and Tomato (p. 151) reigns supreme. That one I could definitely do as a main...and there are no onions to pick around.

I chose the Squash n' Onions because I had some butternut squash to use and Alicia claims that of all her squash recipes, this one is her favourite. I had to try it. It's ridiculously simple to make (you don't even have to peel the squash) and very simply seasoned with sea salt and oregano.

I really enjoyed the flavour of the oregano with the squash, but I still found myself picking around the onions, which I also tried to eat and enjoy...unsuccessfully. In small doses they were fine, but a significant forkfull just wasn't happening. The sweetness of the squash especially didn't work for me with the onions, and I wasn't super thrilled about the skin on the squash, but Rob loved it all.

This is why I'm glad to have Rob around....not only can he cook vegan Indian food and rock a tattered yellow hoodie, he also provides a very useful second opinion when sampling these Kind Diet recipes so that my personal anti-onion biases don't sully the reputation of potentially delicious recipes.

I served it all up with Baby Bok Choy Drizzled with Ume Vinaigrette (p. 265), which I have become a big fan of (Rob's impartial), and we had a completely superhero meal.

I will definitely be making both of these again...the Squash n' Onions for sure, as that one was Rob's preference of the two. I'm such a selfless wife.

Rob's rating:
Rice Pilaf - 3 Happy Tongues
Squash n' Onions - 4 Happy Tongues
Baby Bok Choy - 3 Happy Tongues (he likes the greens, not the dressing)

And now the Bake Sale. Even though our cheerleading team had already gone to their Anaheim competition, a teeny tiny oversight on my part (namely baggage check in fees...oops) resulted in needing to pay back our school for covering this cost. So Wednesday 15.0 Bake Sale it was!

Because the reason for needing the bake sale was kinda sorta totally my fault, I decided to chip in and make the infamous Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (p. 183).

This time around I took the suggestion of one of my cheerleaders (who had gone vegan for a week a while ago) and added brown rice crisps cereal to the peanut butter to give it a crunch, and the pb cups were even more delicious. Is that even possible? This is totally how ima make 'em from now on.

I brought in a couple of batches to see how (and if) they would sell...pretty icing-laden cupcakes make pretty stiff competition for vegan pb cups.

But we did sell them all, thanks in large part to my awesome co-worker, Bad Cop, who took it upon herself to sell a batch for me to the teachers in the staff room at lunch. Why didn't I consider selling to the teachers? Because I'm a short-sighted fool...this batch didn't even make it out to the bake sale table. Score!

And the reviews were awesome...

Double score!

Our previous bake sales this year all had something in common...I caved. I exercised the Paris exemption and ate delicious dairy-laden cupcakes because I wanted to. But this time around, something was different.

Miraculously, I didn't cave. Sure, some of the treats looked AMAYYYYZING, but I was totally fine eating my leftover Rice Pilaf (carmelized onions picked off, of course) while the cheerleaders peddled their edible wares.

Don't get me wrong. If I wanted to cave, I would have caved. I caved the week before on Friday 14.0 when a co-worker brought in cupcakes to work for an afternoon tea to celebrate the Royal wedding (and holy crap Mrs. B, was that cupcake ever worth caving for). But for this bake sale, I didn't cave. A small victory? Perhaps. It could have just been an isolated incident. Or was it? Is this an indication of fewer future caves? Stronger will power? My buddy Motivation getting a bit more balsy? Less appealing bake sale items? A glitch in the Matrix?

Whatever, enough analyzing. That's such a girl thing to do. Or maybe it's just such a me thing to do.

This is probably why my husband tries to avoid eye contact.

Yah, probably.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bhajis a la Rob the Husband

On Monday 15.0, Rob the Husband decided to cook.

Rob is pretty adorable on the rare occasion when he tries to cook. He's so incredibly meticulous (I'd even venture so far as to label him anal) about it all, and he likes to keep his meals a surprise. He takes pride in plating his culinary creations to make them look super nice (because he's metro like that), and he is constantly apologetic while we are eating, needing reassurance that his meals are indeed edible, and in some cases, pretty spectacular.

The majority of stuff he prepares, to be honest, is processed food that he tries to fancy up or put his own spin on, because in his own words, he is "hopeless in the kitchen." One dish he has mastered, from scratch, is Portobello Mushroom Burgers. He makes some pretty awesome Deviled Eggs too, but not anymore, of course...those have officially fallen off our menu.

Rob hasn't made his Portobello Mushroom Burgers since we embarked on this vegan journey, as I think he needs to figure out a way to vegan-ize the secret sauce, and I am definitely looking forward to them when he does. Hope it's sooner than later...hint hint.

**We text while in the same house, communicate via facebook, and now I'm making dinner requests via my blog while he sits on the couch 12 feet in front of me. Talking is totally obsolete.**

But last night he took a big risk and tried a recipe from Taste magazine (yay BC Liquor Stores!)...bhajis, which are basically pakoras, which are basically lentil fritters.

At first, he didn't want my help. He wouldn't tell me anything about the recipe, other than it was an Indian dish. I had an idea of where it was headed, as he had called me earlier in the day asking if we had lentils and cilantro and ginger. But the cloak of secrecy remained intact, and he was determined to go it alone for this meal...except for asking me to chop up some cilantro and green chillies (which ended up burning my eyes later that night when I took out my contacts...holy crap does the essence of chili pepper stay on your skin for a stupid long period of time!).

As Rob proceeded with his cooking endeavor, the smell of cumin quickly began to permeate the house. And not just a pleasant, fragrant scent indicating that some excellent food is being prepared...I'm talking like a cumin plant grow-op house inhabited by teenage boys whose Axe bottles were filled with cumin powder as a prank by their clueless sisters who also accidentally mistook cumin powder for detergent and did the family laundry with the stuff.

It was after a few minutes of listening to me complain about the smell that Rob abandoned his hope of surprising me with dinner and asked for help. I smiled and sighed and shook my head (because I can be kinda bitchy and condescending like that), and prepared to save the day. As it turned out, however, the Taste recipe was confusing and not very clear, and I ended up being pretty useless.

Rob then did something dangerous, and totally abandoned the recipe. He found similar dishes online and added a bunch of other spices and stuff, playing around with the taste and texture, determined to salvage his meal.

Check out that intensity. That is definitely one determined cook.

The tension was mounting as he fried up his first batch of bhajis...this was entirely too much effort not to taste good.  

He despaired, fearing that all his time and effort would amount to naught. He didn't even bother channeling his metro side to plate them all pretty (and he ain't looking all too metro in that swanky yellow sweatshirt). But the true test was in how these things tasted. 

And you know what?

They sucked so bad that I filed for divorce.

Just kidding. They were actually pretty good. Rob wasn't too thrilled with the taste at first, but I was. They tasted exactly like one would expect an Indian pakora to taste, and the tamarind dipping sauce was seriously quite delicious. The first batch was soggy on the inside, so he made the next batch smaller so they would cook through more thoroughly, and they were great.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting them to turn out as well as they did. I pretty much wrote the meal off after Rob announced that he wasn't following the recipe anymore and that he altered it so much that he could call it his own creation at this point. But it was good. It was really good.

Rob the Husband genuinely surprised me and proved that he could in fact improvise in the kitchen.

In the words of the illustrious Wil Wheaton, I'm so proud I could fart a rainbow :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week the Fourteenth...Neverending Stew, Pizza Flambe, & Winning Weekend

I always thought that part in the movies when something in the kitchen catches on fire was just there for dramatic effect, and in the real world only a complete idiot would let something catch fire while cooking.

Yah, it would appear that I'm a complete idiot.

But more on that in a bit. Week the Fourteenth consisted of no new recipe attempts. I went with stuff I knew and loved for Easter Monday dinner... Sweet Potato-Lentil Stew (p. 166) / Cornbread (p. 163) / Caesar Salad...of course (p. 175).

I reeeeeally enjoyed this meal the first time I made it and reeeeeeeally enjoyed it again this time around. The stew is subtly sweet (alliteration intended...some of my English students are bugging me about reading my blog so I figure I'll throw in a lesson any chance I get) thanks to the sweet potatoes, and the recipe yields a ton. We were eating this on and off for lunch and dinner all week. Rob the Husband finally finished it off on Friday 14.0...a bit of a stretch, but if it smells good and hasn't gone fuzzy, I say eat it. 

Rob's rating
Sweet Potato Lentil Stew - 3.5 Happy Tongues
Cornbread - 4.5 Happy Tongues
Caesar Salad - 5 Happy Tongues (of course)

And now my little pyro faux-pas...

I was making Thin Mushroom "Pizzas" (p. 220) on Thursday 14.0, and had a couple of tortillas broiling in the oven to crisp them up (as per recipe). When I checked on them they were almost completely black (oops), and in the 2.8 seconds it took me to grab my oven mitts, they had already caught fire (bigger oops).

So I pulled them out of the oven, freaking out just a bit as the flame seemed to spread further along the top of the baking sheet, and tried to decide in about 2 milliseconds if I should run them outside or throw them in the sink. The sink was closer.

Good thing we had 4 more in the package, and could proceed with our planned meal, which was no longer that appealing being prepared in a kitchen that stunk like smoke and charred burn-y stuff. Whatever, we ate it anyway.

This was my second time making this pizza, and considering one of my favourite pre-vegan conversion pizzas was Amy's Mushroom & Olive, this one (and its tofu-cream sauce) works just fine for me.

Rob's Rating:
Thin Mushroom "Pizzas" - 3.5 Happy Tongues

Weekend the Fourteenth was spent visiting family in Nanaimo, and it was a weekend that consisted of watching hockey, chilling, trampolining, and of course, eating. I got the heads up that ribs were going to make an appearance at dinner, so I made Risotto with Oyster Mushrooms, Leeks and Peas (p. 228) to compliment the meal...

I doubled the recipe, and I learned that when cooking risotto, don't double the recipe....make two separate batches. This turned out a bit mushy and not as flavourful as it was the last time I made it, but it was still pretty delicious. At dinner, Rob and I only avoided the ribs, and were free to pile on potatoes, broccolini, and Tofurkey Spicy Italian Sausage (hello faux-meat item...nice to eat you).

The risotto also made a decent breakfast in the morning when we reluctantly passed on pancakes. Go figure.

I'm watching the election results as I write this and Rob is cooking dinner from scratch (which deserves a blog post all its own). The smell of cumin permeating the kitchen is making it difficult to type, so ima end off with some weekend Nanaimo pics, because they include a cute baby and a cute puppy and tongue tattoos and a trampoline, all of which are winning (one day the Charlie Sheen phrases will loose their appeal, but not yet).

And finally, for a double dose of winning, puppy ON trampoline.

I suppose puppy WITH tongue tattoo on trampoline would have been tri-winning, but that might be just a bit too much winning for us to handle. 

You know who's not winning tonight? 

The Liberal Party of Canada. 

Oh snap.