Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Crock Pot Cooking

Tonight's main dish is from this book (with a few subtle changes)
I won this a while ago on E-Bay and looked through it, but never did much cooking from it. I dug it out again, and there are so many things I want to try. Tonight, we're having stew.
Since I'll be adding some wine to the stew, I figured I'd better taste it first to make sure it was OK. A glass of wine did wonders when I made "fish sticks" so why not again?
I started with some rutabaga (or yellow turnip - what ever you want to call it), cut into chunks.
Then added some carrots.
Can't have a stew without lots of spuds! (remember, I'm of Irish descent). Add a couple of bay leaves.

Meanwhile, season and saute some seitan chunks until lightly browned. I had a few pieces in the freezer leftover from a batch I made using the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance.

Dump that on top of the potatoes.

Saute some chopped onions, then when soft & transulcent and just slightly browned, add some minced garlic. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Sprinkle that on top of the seitan. Pour on some vegetable broth, tamari, red wine, spices, salt & pepper. Put on the lid and let cook on high for about 4-6 hours.

Perfect timing!

Then I added some fresh green beans and stirred those in so they would get into the cooking broth. Cover and let cook for about an hour.

Next up, some frozen peas. I also stirred those in and let cook for 1/2 an hour. While that was doing it's thing, I made biscuits.

This is a tried & true recipe that I got out of my Betty Crocker cookbook. (I have the 1978 edition) I've had this cookbook for 20+ years and I use it A LOT. It's not veg*n by any means, but many of the recipes are easily adapted.

Here I've cut the shortening into the flour mixture with my wonderful, handy-dandy Pampered Chef pasty blender. Add some "milk", stir it all up and roll out the dough.

Cut out the biscuits. You can use a fancy cutter if you like, but I just used a regular drinking glass and made round ones.

Here they are all cut out and ready to go into the oven. I like baking with my wonderful, handy-dandy Pampered Chef baking stone.

Here they are just out of the oven. Biscuits are best when they are fresh, hot & slathered with margarine.

They went extremely well with the stew - which turned out delicious.

The slow cooking gives it such a wonderful flavour.

A nice hearty stew calls for a rather robust wine. One good thing about working at the LCBO is being able to grab wines you want as soon as they come in & before they're sold out. When I saw that this baby was coming in, I knew I had to try it.

Not only are Frey Wines organic, they are also vegan. We don't get these in often and they go pretty quick. This Petite Sirah was very dark, with an intense jammy quality and a bit of spice. It was very delicious and I was wishing I'd bought 2 bottles.

Dessert is brought to you by The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Jim bought me this book when I first switched my diet. I've made a few things out of it and while I was looking for this particular recipe, I found myself wondering why I don't use this book more often. Sure, it gets a bad rap for using eggs, cheese & too much fat, but it's easy to play around with that stuff and cut back on the bad things. Anyhow, I've made this before and I love it!
I present Apple Pie With Oatmeal Cookie Crust. This pie is so good. If you want the recipe, it can be found here.

Here's an inside shot. I served this plain, but it is scrumptious with vanilla ice cream.

Is that not a great winter meal?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blue Man Group

I forgot to post about this!

Jim & I went to Toronto on January 1 and what a fantastic day. Our main reason for going was to see Blue Man Group. The show was at the Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street. Since we were only about a 10 minute walk away, we had to go reminisce at

Ah yes. The Grand Old Lady.

Building was completed in 1931. Maple Leaf Gardens was the baby of Conn Smythe who had it constructed for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their first year in the new building saw them win the Stanley Cup.

Sadly, I never got to see the Leafs play here. They moved to their new arena The Air Canada Centre in 1999.

We walked back towards the theatre on Church street cutting through Church and Wellesley village. This is such a colourful neighbourhood! Where else would you spot this -

Want a closer look?






An Elvis bust on someone's doorstep! It's even got Christmas decorations around it's neck. I love it!

The highlight of the day of course was The Blue Man Group. OMG!! If you ever get a chance to see them, don't walk - RUN! This was the most fantastic live show I've seen. I wasn't sure what to expect but was totally blown away. It was lively, funny, thought provoking, full of music and more! I want to go again; it was that good.

A couple of the Blue Men were in the lobby after the show for photo ops. I had to get in there.

There is no talking during the show and even after while meeting the audience they don't speak. It's all about body language, and they were very open and friendly. I told the one above that I thought the show was awesome and I wished they were continuing their run in Toronto because I would love to see them again and he patted me on the back. That was better than a "thank you."

After the show, we went for dinner at
The Old Spaghetti Factory. This is such a cool restaurant and very reasonably priced. I didn't take any photos of my dinner though. Sorry! We were busy talking about the show and I was halfway finished before I even thought about taking a picture. Next time!

I'm adding a video below of Blue Man Group when they appeared on The Tonight Show. This is a very small bit of what is included in their show. It is no where near as good as it is live, but ENJOY!


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Snowy Days & Comfort Food

Finally, we got some snow that stayed. Simon and I went for a walk/run/play yesterday.

Doesn't he look soooo handsome in his coat?

Simon just loves to play in the snow.

We stayed out for quite a while, then he'd had enough and was ready to come in. I guess he was hungry because he went straight for his bowl. While Simon chowed down on Solid Gold I was trying to think of something warming & satisfying to make for dinner.

It was sunny out, but still chilly - I was in the mood for a comfort meal.

Enter the Shepherd's Pie.

I used one package of Yves Veggie Ground Round and stretched it by adding some handfuls of TVP. I also added onions, garlic, some all-vegetable "beef style" bouillon cubes - dissolved in hot water - which helped to re-hydrate the TVP, some choice spices and then I dumped in a pile of frozen mixed veggies, added a few shakes of veggie Worcestershire sauce and let simmer for a bit. Sometimes if it seems too watery, I'll sprinkle some flour in to help thicken it up, but today it seemed just fine. I made a big dish of this so I would have leftovers for my lunch.

For dessert I made gingerbread. I haven't had this in years. This cake reminds me of home.

I used my mom's recipe, but substituted soft tofu for the eggs. It was so moist and delicious! To add to the yum factor, I spooned some Cool Whip on top. I'm not a fan of whipped cream but I love this Cool Whip stuff. It's all sugar, oil & chemicals, but it tastes so cool & creamy. Everything in moderation right? So once and a while it won't hurt. It goes great with gingerbread.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tomato Lentil Dill Soup

I was honoured to be able to test another recipe for Dreena's upcoming cookbook Eat, Drink And BeVegan! I present to you Tomato Lentil Dill Soup. This is another hit!

Since we finally have snow - yea! - I figured this was the perfect time to make this soup. Again, as with a lot of Dreena's recipes, what a breeze to make! I had everything into the pot in about 20 minutes. I let it simmer and do it's thing and that was pretty much it. This recipe makes a VERY LARGE pot of soup which I like. I froze leftovers for future meals. Now on days when I come home cold and tired, it's good to warm my bones with Tomato Lentil Dill Soup. (got Pink Floyd stuck in my head. Sorry.) What a hearty, nutritious soup! We had it with some fresh crusty bread and it was so filling. And the taste? Very nice. Different from most tomato soups. The dill was a good choice. Jim loves dill and said this soup was a nice balance of flavours and with just the right amount of dill so it wasn't overpowering. Another bonus with this soup - it's extremely economical.

I took some leftovers to work for lunch the next day and I think it might have been even better. When Dreena's cookbook is released, this is another must try.

Thank you again Dreena!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Assortment Of Things

Last week, I went into the hospital for a colonoscopy. My mother survived colon cancer over 6 years ago, so as a precaution, my family doctor booked me in with a specialist to have this done. It has become so routine now, that a lot of people I know have had it done. Of course, they proceed to tell me awful horror stories of what happened to their mother's cousin's friend's aunt and how the prep is unbelieveably awful and the procedure is embarrassing and painful. I already knew Dr. Kancherla from working at the hospital and after visiting her as a patient in her office for my consultation appointment, I felt quite at ease and wasn't worried about the procedure at all. My concern was the preparation.

I was booked in for 12:30pm on a Wednesday, so Monday night before I went to bed, I had to take 2 laxative pills. They did their thing Tuesday morning and I was only allowed to have a breakfast, then clear fluids until after the procedure. I went to work and drank lots & lots of water and juice. Even pop was allowed, so I downed a couple of Sprites and a Root Beer just to keep my day interesting. At 6pm Tuesday night, I mixed up the first package of sodium picosulfate (called Pico Salax) that was supposed to have a refreshing orange flavour, but just tasted like really weak Tang gone bad. After choking this down, I was supposed to wash it through with 8 large glasses of water or clear fluid. I didn't know what to expect at this point. I was envisioning a horrible night in the bathroom for hours with painful, body-wracking cramping, and me wishing I was dead. You know what? It wasn't bad at all. We're all friends here, so I will say, I wore track pants for quick removal & wish I'd had some baby wipes instead of regular toilet paper. That area got a bit tender after a while. Most of what passed was liquid because that's all I'd put in my system all day. Oh, another thing - if you're going to pass the evening watching TV while you wait - get a TiVo. I did't miss one second of the program I was watching! I love our TiVo.

I got up early on Wednesday and had the second package of Tang-From-Hell then off I go to the hospital for my procedure. One disadvantage to working there is everyone knows you and are curious as to why you're there, but also, very concerned that you're OK. I knew the nurse and the anesthetist, so there was a lot of chatter going on which helped to keep my mind off what was coming. Dr. Kancherla said that rather than just a sedative that keeps patients awake, but a bit loopy, she prefers to use general anesthetic so there is no anxiety at all on the part of the patient. I've never in my life had a general anesthetic so I was a teeny-tiny bit nervous about that part. Once I was hooked up to an IV and had monitors stuck all over me, I told John that I had never had this done before and it was a bit of an adventure. He said "No problem. I'll give you a play by play as we move along." Dr. Kancherla came in and asked how I was, etc. etc. the usual banter, then she said "OK, we're going to get started." She got me to turn on my side and I saw John putting a syringe into the IV line. He said "Just rest your hand here on the bed rail." and that's the last thing I remember. No drifting off, no feeling groggy, just BAM! and I was gone. I came to as he was wheeling me back to my little room asking me "How are you doing?" I felt like I weighed a million pounds and most of that weight was in my tongue. I think I slurred out a "Fine" and drifted off again.

The procedure went well. One polyp was found and removed and everything else was great so I don't have to do this again for 3 years. Jim picked me up and when we got home, I was starved, so Jim Can Cook - part deux! This installment isn't nearly as impressive as the first one, but to me, it was just as good and was just what I wanted.

I asked for soup and grilled cheese. The soup is from a can, and it's pretty good. It's Primo Roasted Vegetable. Does the bread look overdone to you? Not to me. It's almost perfect. (a little darker than I like, but still good) I like my toast good and toasted. Jim prefers his very lightly toasted. That's not toast; that's warm bread.

When I was out yesterday morning, I saw the sun coming up over Lake Ontario. I just happened to take my camera with me in case I saw anything interesting. The picture is not nearly as pretty as it was live.

When I got back home, I wanted muffins. So I made some. These are As-You-Like Muffins from Dreena's book The Everyday Vegan.

Today I felt like dried cranberries and toasted pecans, so that's what I added. These muffins turned out great!

I was also craving some chocolate macaroons, so I made those too. These are cookies of my childhood. I remember being very young and going to visit my mom and she always made these for me. Of course I had them a lot at home growing up too.

These are so unbelievable easy to make and there is no baking! (Leslie would like that!) These are not vegan cookies but I think you could veganize them easily enough. They contain milk which is mixed with sugar and shortening and has to boil for 1 minute. Can you boil non-dairy milks? I'd be happy to supply the recipe if someone is interested.

I also wanted to include this - Orange Lacquered Tofu.

I got the recipe over at Cafe Cyan. Crystal had blogged about it a couple of months ago and it sounded so yummy, I printed off the recipe. This is quick and easy like she says. And it is very tasty. I took the leftovers to work the next day and even though the outside wasn't crispy anymore, the sauce had really soaked into the tofu and it was still delicious. I will definitely make this again. If you'd like to give it a try, the recipe is here.

Did you see the Golden Globes? Bryan Adams was nominated for Best Original Song - Motion Picture for the song he co-wrote for the movie Bobby. He lost out to Prince for Happy Feet. I guess if you're going to lose to someone, there's not many bigger than Prince. But did you see Bryan on TV? He was wearing a suit and no tie. Bry, Bry, I going to have to come over and dress you? It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. *sigh*