Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daring Bakers December: Gingerbread House

Snowman guard

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

When I took on the December challenge, I knew I wouldn’t be eating the final product. I mean really: rock-hard icing covered with cheap, gelatin-laden candies atop rigid, bland cookies? Not my idea of a delicious dessert. Having said that, it was mostly really fun to assemble the house and decorate it with our ridiculous candy artwork. But if Brian hadn’t been there with me, I might have given up. After sitting in the fridge for a day, the dough was rock hard and yet so dry that it was crumbling. Brian hammered it into submission, glued it together with some water, and rolled it out for me. In the meantime, I made a template based on this one.

Stupidest dough  ever

The recipe was cheap to make, so I would consider making it again next year, but with more water! The recipe that was given for royal icing was suspicious to me. I made two batches: the first we used the posted icing recipe and used it for decorating, for the second I followed the Joy of Cooking and we used that one to glue the walls and roof.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Make some Butterscotch in 7 minutes

"Caramel is simply sugar cooked to the point where it melts and then beings to burn. Old cookbooks refer to it, appropriately enough, as burnt sugar. Butterscotch is similar, except that butter is added to the sugar as it caramelizes, resulting in the characteristic deep, nutty taste." - The Joy of Cooking 'About caramel and butterscotch sauces'

I am not a frosting kind of a girl. Nor am I a girl who slathers sugar-saturated peanut(ish) spread on toast in the mornings. I am, however, willing to experiment, and to trust those who ply me with delicious photos of amazing sauces that I eat less than once a year. So when I read the Smitten Kitchen recipe for Butterscotch sauce, I was so on it.

Bread you should make if you've never made bread

If you follow me on Twitter you may have been taunted a month or two back when I was baking loaf after loaf of bread. Well, I'm finally ready to do a bread post!

English Muffin Toasting Bread
In this photo is a delicious loaf of English Muffin toasting bread (recipe from King Arthur Flour). It's really easy, really quick and ridiculous delicious. Now, mine didn't turn out esthetically great because I used the wrong size loaf pan, but it was a hell of a lot better than when I tried to make the Joy of Cooking's White Bread...
How not to bake bread
That was the second, slightly better loaf after an utter failure the first time. The problem was that I was short a whole cup of water. At that time I was using a copy of Joy from the library, and it was an earlier version of the 2006 edition, where they misprinted the recipe for White Bread.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Daring Cooks December: Stuff en croute

Yes! I'm still here, still cooking, still eating. I promise to get back on the update wagon immediately. No more 20 days hiatuses. 

Well, December's challenge came at a time when I was feeling very frugal and very busy. Adding to that, my first read-through of the challenge made me think that us vegetarians got to make an inferior version of the challenge recipe that was, in my opinion, neither challenging nor exciting. So, I made the recipe within a week of it being revealed, and didn't think about it again until now.

I wish I'd looked back at it, because then I would have realized that I could have done so much more with this recipe, and cranked it up, Vegedible style! In fact, maybe I will do that once I get brave enough to go outside again in this -30 C weather...

Anyhow, here's my results:

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

I used biscuit dough from the biscuits that I was making earlier in the evening. I realize now that one of the main parts of this recipe was to use pastry of some sort...but I also knew that the challenge hostess said we could just buy some puff pastry, so I thought it would be alright to use biscuit dough.

I was following this recipe, which was provided as a vegetarian alternative, sans chicken. But, as I said earlier, I was feeling frugal (AKA I was broke!) and decided to just use what we already had in the fridge. This means that we were short on spinach, and short on mushrooms, and had no cheese of any kind. I also didn't use the eggwash on top because Bri doesn't do eggs. I know, I really should have taken another stab at it (maybe today!) when I had a bigger budget. Oh well!
So, as could be expected, the spinach cooked down and the dough baked upwards, so we were left with a big gaping hole in the middle. On the bright side, this meant lots of room to pour in the fantastic gravy we made!
Then I ate it like a taco.
I'm open to taking another stab at it with proper pastry and more stuffing, because I do love pastry and stuffing.
I haven't decided what to make for the vegetarian entrée at Christmas dinner so maybe that will come to me through future experiments. Suggestions are welcome!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Daring Bakers November: Cannoli

In preparation for this month's challenge, I went to Lina's Italian Market and tried one of their Sicilian Cannolo.

Mmm, it was scrumptious! The pastry shell was dense, slightly sweet and flaky all at once, and the sweet ricotta filling had a kick (brandy?) that offset the richness. Somehow I was able to eat the whole thing. Then, I embarked on my own cannoli journey...

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Running dough through a pasta maker
I made the dough with cheap red wine instead of sweet marsala cooking wine, which I couldn't find. The dough is pinkish thanks to the wine, and I think that is part of the reason they were far more tender than they're supposed to be.

I used a cup to cut out circles, and then ran them through the pasta maker again to make them into ovals.

Ready to fry
The dough, wrapped around metal cannoli forms. The recipe said to use egg white to seal, but I used soy milk and it worked perfectly.

Frying the cannoli
The first cannolo frying...

Not well-sealed
This one popped off the cannoli form, I think because I only sealed it with water.

Fresh from the fryer
Cooling the forms so I can remove them from the shells.

Stacked cannoli
Finished cookin'!

Check out that bubbly skin!
Lovely blistering of the pastry.

Making the filling
A beater from the filling-making process. I thought I took photos of the ricotta that I made from scratch but I guess not. It was wonderful, though! I combined ricotta with sugar, cinnamon, amaretto, and chocolate chips.

Cannoli With Ricotta Filling
I meant to make a nice little finale photo out of the finished product. But I got so frustrated using my piping bag that I just took a shot and ate one of 'em. The chocolate chips I used were too big to fit through the tip of the bag and a huge mess ensued. Sigh...

Dough scraps with confectioners' sugar
I also fried up all the dough scraps and dusted them with icing sugar, mmm.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sushi Rice: Fail!

The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.
Happy dragon roll

Well, I was not happy with how this challenge turned out for me. The problem was the rice: it was too dry, and did have enough seasoning.

I believe I did everything correctly, but the rice is SO important and it turned out poorly. I don't do the rice soak when I usually make sushi because everytime I've tried, it's too dry and just not good. I'm guessing it's due to Calgary's dry climate, but there was nothing in the challenge about that so too bad for me!

Spiral Rolls & Nigiri

The challenge included making the rice, rolling a dragon roll, spiral/decorative rolls and nigiri. Most of them look pretty good, but yuck. Bri liked them though, and it's not as if they were inedible, just a pain in the ass because it took about 3 hours to make it.

Spiral rolls - details

These ones were a bit ridiculous. Before I cut the roll into pieces, the whole thing was the size of a sub sandwich. And not one on squishy bread either, the kind on a big baguette that you can't even fit in your mouth. Not my kind of sushi unfortunately.
Dragon roll

Oh well, I will feed my sushi craving properly another time!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hashing it out, loafing around

Seriously, you should make this. Try it!
 Monday's Supper
Veggie Loaf takes over the world! With her sidekick corn & edamame salad!
This recipe is made easier with a food processor and a shredding attachment, but it can be done with a regular box grater as well. The ingredients are pretty versatile, so use what you have on hand for seasonings. While I recommend that you pick up some nutritional yeast, I can understand if you're hesitant, or if you just can't find it where you live (Calgarians may not complain, I found nooch at Superstore last week! Although it doesn't have B12 in it, strangely). You can leave it out and substitute a bit of vegetable bouillon powder, or maybe some dry soup mix, or a tablespoon of miso, just be aware of how much sodium you add. Enjoy!
Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven.

The Thrifty Vegan's Mouthwatering Hash Brown Loaf
  • 1 largish onion (should be about 2 cups once shredded)
  • 3-4 medium russet potatoes (should be about 4 cups once shredded)
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour (can substitute with regular, whole wheat or rice flour)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • black pepper to your tastes
Fresh from the oven
  1. Shred onion in food processor or with box grater (be careful!). Transfer to large bowl. You will cry, be prepared.
  2. Shred potatoes, squeeze dry in cheesecloth or do the best you can with a colander. Transfer to same big bowl of onions. (NB: Don't let the potatoes sit too long or they will turn black. That won't affect the taste, but it won't look very nice. If you have to leave them for awhile–more than a couple minutes–cover the potatoes with water).
  3. Add rest of ingredients, plus anything else you might like to spice things up with. In fact, after you’ve added the vinegar, you can be pretty creative with the spices.
  4. Mix thoroughly with a spoon, or your clean, flu-free hands, until the potato shreds are clearly covered with delicious flavour.
  5. Transfer mixture to lightly oiled or non-stick loaf pan. (NB: If you don’t have one, try baking it in a pie dish, or individual lunch-sized ones in muffin tins. Just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly–that means don’t cook it as long if it’s in a smaller container).
  6. Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.
  7. Serve with steamed veggies and nutritional yeast gravy or miso gravy.
Ahh pretty mould
Lovely ridges from the bottom of the ungreased pan.

A Week of Chow in Review

The past week’s been a little bit crazy. Friday before last was Journal production. Although it went more smoothly than the October edition, I still stuck around for about 11 hours straight. The new issue looks great, but there’s still learning to be done.

The next day I got a call from my mum inviting me on a grocery trip to Superstore. She actually called me while I was working on my Menu for the Week! Yes, you heard right, I made a menu last week! I made one this week too… My greatest tip is to look through your cookbooks, or your favourite blogs for recipes that you can try. This makes it easy to know what ingredients you will need, plus takes the pressure off of needing to invent anything. I already feel more enlightened thanks to the new recipes from this week.

Another strategy I tried out was preparing ahead for more prep-heavy meals. I baked potatoes for soup ahead of time, and soaked chickpeas overnight to get a better bang for my buck than canned beans.

So I tagged along to ol’ Superstore and, staying within my $30/person food budget, picked up the necessary ingredients for the week’s meals. Here’s what we ate last week, and a bit more of what I learned.

Vegan Hash Brown Loaf (delicious, I promise to share the recipe) with Nutritional Yeast Cheezy Sauce (from the Veganomicon) and steamed bok choy with lemon-olive oil dressing.
 Veggie Loaf!
This loaf was a result of my third try at recreating Kootenay Kitchen’s “Végé Pâté.” The real thing is a delicious spread made from potatoes, onions, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast and plenty of delicious spices. It’s great on sandwiches, crackers or straight up, but at $5+ for a little 130-gram package, it’s not budget friendly. I looked at the “how it’s made” photos on their website to get some clue as to how to recreate the little loaf. The only thing I really gleaned is that I should shred the potatoes and onions. I used the shredding disk on my food processor, and I got lots of long strings of raw potato (I’ve tried using boiled potato and ended up with a disappointing loaf of mashed potato).

It’s the long, crispy strings that make this dish reminiscent of hash browns. I think I might further process the shredded potato next time to get closer to the texture of the Pâté that I’m looking for, but the results this time were delicious anyway.

Oh! Also, I bought a silicon loaf pan at Superstore for $6. It worked great for this dish, highly recommended!

(PS: I made this again this Monday, but pretty much stuck to the same recipe: awesome again. Recipe to follow…)

Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
Phases of Risotto
Chef Ramsey would not approve, but really, does he ever?

Now, you may be thinking that this is a weird dish to make on a budget. Asparagus risotto in November? But the asparagus was the same price as broccoli (Only $1.88/lb!) when I was at Superstore, so I couldn’t help it. I was going to use crimini mushrooms, but they were not available bulk so I just grabbed the ol’ white button mushrooms. I was sorely tempted by the cello-packs of mixed wild mushrooms, but then I saw a little bug crawling around inside the package. Ick…

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just a Tease

I'm going out of town this weekend so I thought I'd leave you with a reason to come back to me after these weeks without posts...

Budget stuff! Hallelujah, right? Last weekend I wrote up a week-long menu, shopped for it, and then Bri and I cooked it together. Here are some things you can expect to hear about on Sunday or Monday...

Vegan Hash Brown Loaf (delicious, I promise to share the recipe) with Nutritional Yeast Cheezy Sauce (from the Veganomicon) and steamed bok choy with lemon-olive oil dressing.

Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto

Twice-baked Potatoes with feta & broccoli, chickpea & roasted red pepper “pâté,” and steamed asparagus

Baked Potato & Kale Soup (Recipe from the Veganomicon)

Popeye Pasta (recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan)

Chickpea patties and miso gravy (both amazing and both from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan), with roasted yam fries and steamed bok choy

Stay tuned...

What've I missed?

Well this past week has been a doozy. Projects, applications, newspaper production, job hunting. Even though I pushed blogging to the side, I certainly didn't push cooking or baking to the side.

Actually the past few weeks I haven't been very bloggy, have I? I apologize. To help fill in the gaps between posts, follow me on Twitter! On Twitter I've posted snippets of my baking adventures that I don't have the energy to write in detail here yet.

Here's a bit of what's been going on:
Recipe here. Not super delicious, a bit bland, but the crumb was right I think. I'll try again with a sourdough started at some point.

Tomato Soup
My first tomato soup! Recipe here. Pretty good, although I used the whole roma tomatoes that we canned a few months ago and I think they were a bit overripe, because the soup was a little too tart.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daring Bakers October: French Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
 Sandwiched with chocolate ganache
Yum! Almost-pink macarons with almost-cinnamon plum-flavoured chocolate ganache

When this recipe was revealed a month ago, I had no idea what a macaron really was, other than a fancy cookie that seemed to be pervading the blogs I usually browse. I can't think of anything else I've cooked or baked in the past where I had no idea what the outcome was supposed to taste or feel like.

That being said, it was a pretty successful cookie-making after all! The almond-meringue base was chewy, sweet and nutty, and the chocolate ganache was smooth and not overly sweet.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Snacking on the cheap

I really do like potato chips: salty and crispy Lays, crunchy and vinegary Miss Vickies, home-baked and toothsome sweet potato chips. Satisfying and indulgent for my savoury tastebuds – and they tend to bully the sweet-loving ‘buds into submission.

White Gold
Popcorn as modeled by Bri.

However, as you’re probably aware, chips are just not particularly nutritional, nor particularly cheap. And homemade ones take a lot of effort, even if you have a fancy mandolin to slice ‘em them tantalizingly thin.

Homemade popcorn, on the other hand, is cheap. Compare a $3.50 bag of chips, or a $6 box of microwavable, chemical-laden corn to a simple $2-$3 bag of unadulterated, whole-grain popping corn! Plus, some places (Superstore) sell it in bulk, which is sometimes even cheaper. It shows up on Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating because it’s high in fibre and iron, low in calories and there’s no sodium or sugar at all…until you spice it up!

Here’s my take on stove-top popcorn.

Hot and Tasty Popcorn
Makes 2 perfectly generous servings

  • Generous 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ¼ - ½ tsp lemon pepper seasoning
  • ¼ - ½ tsp paprika, or cayenne if you like it hot

  1. Set a 2-quart (1.89 L) lidded pot on stove. Add oil and turn heat to med-high. Immediately add popcorn and shake to distribute the kernels across the bottom of pan. Cover lid and gently shake back and forth to roll the kernels in the oil. Don’t lift the lid of the pot as you will let the heat out which could result in your popcorn burning before it can pop, or never getting hot enough to pop. Don't let the pan or oil heat up before adding the popcorn, or you will just burn stuff. I've been there. Repeatedly.
  2. Stop shaking the pot for a couple of minutes, until the popping starts. Then, continue to gently shake the pot, with your hand on the lid if necessary. If you were a bit generous with the popcorn, or if you used a smaller pot, then you may need to dump some of the popcorn into the serving bowl so it doesn’t topple all over the stove.
  3. Dump about half of the popped popcorn into your large bowl. Sprinkle half of the nutritional yeast on top, and repeat with the lemon pepper and paprika or cayenne. Shake your bowl or use a spoon to distribute the seasonings further. Pour the rest of the popped popcorn to fill bowl, and repeat the seasoning process.

Of course, you can skip the nooch if you don’t have any, and just use whatever seasonings you’ve got. Other options from the spice cabinet include: curry powder, mustard powder, dill weed, pepper, sea salt, Tabasco sauce (makes it a bit soggy though).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Grocery Bill

I meant to post this nearly a week ago, but like the saying goes, time makes fools of us all. So this is all about what I bought for groceries a week ago at Superstore.

Today (Wednesday October 14) I did the week’s shopping. While I meant to be responsible about what I bought, I hadn’t taken the time to organize things as well as I should have. Ideally, I would have planned at least a general menu for the week instead of planning my meals as I walked down the aisles.

This resulted in a somewhat surprising bill at checkout. However, I took the following into consideration after lifting my jaw off the dirty grocery store floor:
  1. Some of the purchases were toiletries, etc which should have a separate budget
  2. Some of the purchases were kitchen tools (like parchment paper etc)
  3. Plenty of the larger expenses were things that will last at least 4-6 weeks, and won’t need to be replenished on my next few trips
  4. Brian’s back today! So most of the food cost will be split in half.
(click the read more link below to read on!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Day 7, eating on...well, less than $30/week

Whoops! Left this one hanging for a while. My apologies to anyone who was following my progress, and thank you if you came back to check up on it!

Okay, so I don't actually remember what I ate on day 7... but I know I stayed on budget! I did indulge in a London Fog from the Starbucks at school, as it was a snowy day, which kicked my total food expenditures to a mere $14!

I think my success was based on having a good pantry, making and freezing the soup and chili, and of course those treats from my mum. Also, changing my point of view on leftovers was important. I have a bad habit of throwing the leftovers in the fridge and forgetting about, or ignoring them until they're rotten enough for me not to feel bad about throwing them out. It's honestly quite bizarre and I'm not sure where it started. There's less wasted food around here thanks to Brian, who almost compulsively eats all the leftovers as soon as possible (yet won't take a lunch to work with him unless I'm staring him down in the morning).

But now I've begun to get into the groove and I'm comfortable making soup, preparing at least part of my lunch the night before and using those leftovers for somethin'. My next goal is to plan the week's menu before doing the weekly grocery trip. We'll see when that comes to fruition...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recipes for Day 6, eating on $30/week

Delicious square foodI was going to use Day 6’s post to share the contents of my pantry with you, in the hopes that you’d get something out of it, or at least find it interesting.

But seeing as I have an exam tomorrow, I feel like I need to put the effort into studying instead.

However I will share two recipes from today to attempt to make up for my poor time-management.

Today was mostly a day of leftovers, supplemented in part by ingenuity. I had my dad over for a Thanksgiving lunch and an hour beforehand I decided that I’d like to make some dressing, seeing as it’s completely delicious.

Thankful for Day 5, eating on $30/week

lovely toast for breakfast
Over time, my family’s Thanksgiving meals have evolved from the old standby equation of turkey + stuffing + potatoes + gravy + something green.

There have been many years where can-shaped cranberry sauce trumped a homemade sauce (the catch with that is that once you make your own cranberry sauce you seriously can’t go backwards). And I remember one exciting year when mum barbecued a couple of turkey breasts – in what was probably pretty chilly October weather. My little brother has almost always been tasked with mashing the potatoes. One year – it may not have been a holiday – I remember making a big deal out of putting together the mashed potatoes, saying I didn’t know how to do it since Steele "always gets to do it."

Of course, the “Great Canadian Chowdown*” is a little different when one or more of your dinner guests doesn’t eat meat. I went vegetarian sometime in November 2007, and I was only going to try it out for a month, but, as you know, I stuck with it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 4, eating on $30/week

It's damn cold in Calgary right now. Here is a list of things I am interested in doing tomorrow:
  1. making pie
  2. roasting sweet potatoes
  3. eating bread
  4. drinking tea
  5. eating stuffing
  6. drinking wine
Perhaps in that order, but any other order would do as well. Here is a list of things I ought to do tomorrow:
  1. the dishes
  2. the "take-home" portion of my "theory" "midterm" (note the sarcasm-laden quotation marks)
  3. study for another theory midterm
  4. my laundry
  5. sweep the kitchen (I'll probably actually do that one)
We shall see how it all goes. I would probably be less concerned with the weather if I were wearing my slippers

Challah Risingchallah all poofyfresh challah

Friday, October 9, 2009

Day 3, eating on $30/week

Today was an early rise [insert bread joke here] due to an early class. The temptations were staring me in the face, but luckily, I’ve already been staring them down for two days, so what’s one more, really?

After a coffee at home, I knew I’d be in need of a bit more caffeine in our 3-hour long news meeting so I brought a really quite big mug (actually it’s a stein…) and a few bags of jasmine green tea to school with me to stash in the locker. While not as satisfying as a freshly whipped up mocha, it was still nice.

Lunch wasn’t too special, but I was glad to have the leftovers, which were easy to grab in the morning.

The real difference between today and previous days was that I did groceries for the first time of the challenge! I thought I would probably spend almost all of my budget at Safeway, but miraculously, I didn’t!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Day 2, eating on $30/week

Okay, well this post was meant to be another somewhat informative piece so that you could get something out of my semi-struggles. However, it's been a long day, so it will be a little short, again without photos.

The good news: I didn't spend anything on food today.
The bad news: the point isn't not to spend, it's to stay within a budget. I guess technically my week should start on whatever day I do groceries, but whatever, as long as we learn something, right?

First, a couple of links:
An article I wrote on nutrition on a budget. It also mentions that according to a study, the price of food in Calgary is rather inflated.

“Read the food flyers and plan your meals around what is on sale that week,” said nutritionist Elizabeth Christianson. “Make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t shop for groceries on an empty stomach, and if possible, leave the kids at home. Buying in bulk saves packaging costs and can cost less.”

Things you should not eat on a budget (or ever).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 1, eating on $30/week

I was buying boots last winter with my mum and we stopped for a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks stand in the mall. The coffee was mum’s treat, and I think she offered because I was getting so visibly stressed out by the impending expenditure. It was time for me to step into a pair of well-made, totally-not-vegetarian, totally-not-Payless boots.

As I sat fretting and sipping, mum recalled a similar shopping trip years ago, when I was very small, four maybe. I had just spent all of my money – probably $12 – on a new purse, and after paying the cashier I burst out crying.

Since then, I have changed my shopping etiquette slightly.

Financial Times

Around this time every year, when the leaves are yellowing and the flurries are arriving, I realize that it would be really quite wise for me to make a budget.

Financial Crisis

I work at a bar where shifts are cut down by half around Thanksgiving when we shut down our patio. And since I already have a fairly scant availability due to a demanding school schedule, we end up with weeks like this one, when I have a single (lucrative but not sustaining) shift.

I came across a post on one of my new favourite food blogs where the writer was planning her menu for the next week in order to eat on $30 as a way to empathize with Americans who have a tight budget. At first I thought that that didn't sound so hard, but then I took a moment to think about it and do the calculations.

That's about $4.25 a day to spend on food. Of course that would completely negate eating out, or buying a coffee (even a teeny little Timmies one!) It makes me wonder if I could conquer that challenge. It does help that I have an (almost) fully stocked pantry and a slew of condiments and spices at my beck and call already.


Okay, let's do it!

I will report everything that I eat for the next week, and all of my expenditures, and hopefully a few handy tips along the way (take note, fellow students, good cheap food on the way!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Snapadoo! A Cracker Recipe

I'm sitting in my apartment alone, reading the Joy of Cooking (which was a birthday gift from Brian, who is on the east coast until next week) and drinking leftover Grasshopper from my birthday keg. And then it occurred to me that I had planned to include a couple of recipes from my birthday spread on my humble blog here! The time is riper than $3 pumpkins at Superstore!

I made crackers a couple of weeks ago based on this lavash cracker recipe which was a Daring Bakers  challenge in September of last year.
(My recipe after the jump)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A basic sushi how-to

Well folks, here we are again, many weeks removed from my last post. The truth is, I've been cooking and experimenting all over the place, I just haven't made the time to write.

My birthday just passed so I'll be posting a couple recipes from that delicious spread. In the meantime, I am going to write a little sushi how-to here and I hope you'll be inspired to give it a try sometime based on my experience. This is as much to give me practice of writing good directions as it is to be informative for you so feel free to leave tip if you thought something was confusing, inadequate or if you liked it!

The photos were also a bit experimental and some of them aren't particularly good but I think they get the point across.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Biscuits of Love

This recipe is adapted from The Joy of Cooking's Buttermilk Biscuits & Rolled Biscuits recipes.

The Biscuits of Love

Biscuits of Love

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-3 tbsp fresh dill
  • about 5 tbsp chilled butter or shortening, cut into 2 cm x 2 cm blocks
  • 3/4 soy milk
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, dill and salt.
  3. Cut in butter or shortening with 2 knives (crossed like scissors) until they become small pea-sized balls.
  4. Mix vinegar into soy milk. It will curdle - this is your vegan buttermilk.
  5. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and pour in milk mixture.
  6. Stir with a big wooden spoon just until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough onto lightly floured cutting board or counter (if your counter tops aren't as old and decrepit as mine). Knead gently 8-10 times.
  7. Roll out dough with floured rolling pin to about 1/2 an inch thick.
  8. Cut with a floured cookie cutter (obviously I used a heart-shaped one), and place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.
  9. Re-roll dough scraps as necessary and repeat #8.
  10. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
These turned out really well although I slightly over baked the first pan. Awesome with a dot of butter and hot pepper jelly or any kind of jam...or plain...or with a fried egg on top. Just so good!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Our hot pepper jelly.

Cooking the relish.

Oh dear am I ever getting behind!
I've spent the past week or so canning with my mum, which has taken most of my experimental cooking energy. We canned peaches, tomatoes, pickles and peppers and made blueberry & peach jam, hot pepper relish, pepper jelly and ketchup. My kitchen smells faintly of vinegar still.

This morning I made some heart-shaped dill buttermilk biscuits. I overcooked them a bit so they're not as soft as they could be, but still delightful! I used the recipe from the Joy of Cooking (75th Anniversary edition). My mum has had the original cookbook as long as I've been around and it's something I've sort of always considered a standard in our kitchen. I just have it out from the library right now, but I think I will have to put it on my birthday list.

Other projects... Last night I tried to make that potato-veggie pâté again, but this time was almost total failure. The texture was all wrong, as I boiled the potatoes to mashable softness before shredding them so it ended up baking like mashed potatoes. And the peppers I added were sweeter than they were hot so that further skewed the flavour. I'm not too happy with it. Next time I will shred the potatoes while raw and see what I can do from there.

I'm off to work now, here's hoping I can put together a few blog postings before school gets back in.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lentil Nachos

We made nachos when we got home last night, for some reason we both had a craving on. No photos for you but you've seen nachos before anyway, and the more useful part of this is the recipe anyway!

Lentil Nachos

For the lentils...
  • one can lentils, drained and rinsed (rinsing gets rid a lot of the salt used in the canning)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • few drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in saucepan. Add rinsed lentils to pan.
  2. Add your spices NB this is totally versatile as far as spices, so don't fret if you have none of this. I really like the cinnamon and a bit of salt is good. Just don't use salty seasonings and taste as you go.
  3. Mix 'er up and warm til heated through.
For the nachos...
  • multigrain Old Dutch tortilla chips (great texture, less sodium than Tostitos; we used about half a 280 gram bag for the two of us)
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/3 cup pickled banana peppers
  • 1/3 cup shredded old cheddar
  • fresh diced tomato (we didn't have this but it would be a good replacement for salsa)
  • 1 recipe nacho lentils (above, obviously. Best if still warm because your nachos may cook before the lentils can heat up again)
  • salsa for dipsies (watch the sodium in store-bought stuff. It may be 8% of DRV but that's for a small serving size of 2 tbsp)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange chips on a foiled baking sheet.
  2. Spread olives, peppers, tomatoes evenly with your hands. Use a spoon to get your warm lentils all over the place. You may have some leftover, which makes a lovely snack later or lunch side. Top with cheddar.
  3. Bake in oven for ~10 minutes or until cheese is melted and before all your chips burrrn.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Oh dear! I didn't realize just how long it has been since I updated my blog. I am citing a number of reasons: vacation out of town, so many news articles to write, and the end of my work term as well as nearing school.

But that doesn't mean we haven't been cooking! And we have certainly been eating: we basically gorged ourselves in Vancouver on sushi, Thai, Indian, and the most amazing cupcakes.

This week we made ramen from scratch, Brian baked bread two days in a row, I started building adorable bento box lunches with knickknacks I bought in Vancouver. Busy busy busy!

I will try to get back to it very soon, once I have got my work life organized so that I don't have to worry about anything.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Badlands and Bean Dip

[scroll down if you're just interested in the bean dip!]

Bri & I spent yesterday driving around our lovely province. Our intent was to visit Drumheller and maybe hit the Royal Tyrrell Museum. After driving through green and yellow prairie landscapes for an hour and a half, we finally began to descend into the dusty and pale Badlands. The temperature was hovering around 30 C, with zero humidity, so I would liken it to being inside an oven. After trying and failing to find somewhere to eat in Drumheller, we decided to see if there was a cafe at the museum. As it turned out, a couple thousand other people (and their hyper, screaming broods) had a similar idea to us; the museum was crawling with sweaty families out for Heritage Day.

Defeated, we tromped off to find somewhere else to eat. We tried a giant pub (kinda like Kilkenny, but with a family restaurant attached) called O'Shea's, where we sat in a booth for 10 minutes without a waitress talking to us (or cleaning the remains of the previous occupants). We decided they did not deserve our money and walked across the parking lot to Boston Pizza, where we had a very underwhelming and overpriced m
eal of bad cheesey pizza bread and sad little yam fries. It was not good.

But things looked up once we headed to the little ghost town of Dorothy. We had a fab afternoon exploring and taking photos. My photo collection from the day is pretty limited, as I was feeling a bit ill all day from this cold and I was happy to be Brian's model instead.

After Dorothy we hit East Coulee/Rosedale, wher
e we crossed their famous suspension bridge and took a little hike up some hills (not sure if they have a fancy name or something like the hoodoos).

It was a really nice way to spend Brian's almost-birthday. Definitely worth renting a car for the day!

On to snacks!

Vegedible's New Favourite Black Bean Dip

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce Original
  • 2 tsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dashes smoke flavour
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
  1. Combine all ingredients in your food processor and whizz until all are combined and consistency is fairly smooth and thick. Eati right away with fresh veggies and pita chips or store in the fridge a couple hours to let flavours mature.
We had our dip right away with broccoli, carrots and ryvita crackers, as well as some pickles and Queen olives. Deeelightful!

Tonight's menu is homemade birthday pizza!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ill Blogging

Still here folks!

I've been busy this past week and now I've gone and caught a cold. It's not terribly debilitating, but it is very inconvenient because this weekend we're celebrating Brian's birthday, and next week we're going to Vancouver. Oh, and of course working two jobs. Geez!

Anyhow, here's a snapshot from last week's BBQ night. Oiled up some potatoes and carrots with dill and slivered almonds to throw on the grill.
They were quite tasty but I'm not used to the timing of grilling things yet, so we had to wait around for the potatoes to finish and they still could have use another 10 minutes. We also threw a couple of tempeh (fermented soybeans) patties on the BBQ. I wouldn't bother doing that again as they really didn't taste like much.
I wish I'd had some big onions to grill as well, but alas, I only had yellow zucchini. Bri liked it, but I still have an aversion to that fickle squash after last winter's cleanse.

I'm off to get ready for work. It's forecast to be over 30 degrees C today. I'm not looking forward to it.