Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Will you take me seriously if i eat meat?

So i am not really a vegetarian. i mean, what kind of vegetarian willingly eats prosciutto, openly loves lamb, and proclaims after a great inhale, the amazing smell of the butcher/deli when entering? What kind of vegetarian enters a butcher/deli? The kind of vegetarian who works at the fish shop across the parking lot and has to enter the butcher/deli to freezer- vac fillets of fish that she regularly eats (veg-aquarian??); the kind of vegetarian who is not a vegetarian by principle or in association to the stigmatic assumptions surrounding such a lable, but by sheer dislike, or rather, other preference.

If i sound as though i am trying to be diplomatic and as precisely definitive as i would be in some sort of academic debate, it is because i am. i was reprimended, offended, and now am defensive.

lunch time at work:
Chef: whats that?
Me: my lunch.
C:what exactly are you making?
M: scrambled eggs.
C: jesus girl, you gotta eat something, if you are going to be biking and working and all that shit you gotta eat something-- i mean cmon let me cook you up a nice, thick big steak.
M: (GAG) im a vegetarian. (shit, did i just say that, i take it back i take it back...too late)

Chefs instant reaction, and i am talking no pause to think of the assault he was about to perform was to insist that "you people" should not even be allowed in the kitchen. to summarize his rant: i should choose a different career if i wasnt a meat-eater because i could never possibly know or understand the workings of cooking and flavouring animals and would therefore fail miserably at pleasing any "normal" omnivourous customer.

Slightly taken aback, i tried to explain what i meant, what i believe, what i am not about to repeat now, because really, i never needed to say it in the first place. And though now i realize it was him who should have felt as embarrassed as I did, at that moment i felt like i lost what little respect and trust as a talented cook he had for me--and that is as important to me as my moral choices regarding animal consumption. And though he apologized just moments later, and did actually listen to my reasons for eating eggs not steak for lunch, i know that me as a vegetarian is slated iin his mind and it will come up again.

Just another way i have to prove myself, i guess...

ps. i bought lamb at the farmers market in protest. i love lamb. i bought kale and mustard greens too...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back to reality

We are back in action at the Grapevine--if action means three tables and taking my time doing hardly anything. And as i run out of hardly anything it can only get worse, if by worse i mean actually, unfathomly busy as it will but a month or so from now. So i will enjoy the days of cookbook perusing and playing in the bakeshop--my list of accomplishments thus far includes three types of cookies, the macaroons a work in progress and repeated on tomorrows agenda--of laughing and having time for something that resembles a lunch.

"Real life" again also means less time for bike rides and more time in the car, and a fear that the calm contentedness i have achieved lately might simply evaporate once that kitchen hits full force. Still, even though i spent the winter thinking i wouldnt be, i am glad to be back; home.

Friday, March 19, 2010

so long winter

as i right this i am drinking a stout float. That's right, not a root beer float, but a beer beer float. My last Granville Island Winter Ale, vanilla gelato, and blackberries from my freezer. Its a cocktail--well, dessert actually--to say goodbye to the awful season that is winter. And what a great way for it to go.

I said goodbye with dinner too, making a pasta of both my stored leeks and ones bought fresh at the market last saturday. The latter, falls crop, were left through the frost of winter, and when the ground was finally warm enough to harvest them, they had gone and sprouted new shoots. They were then, ironically and quite suitingly, both spring and winter leeks. Goodbye and hello...I'll make it again this spring.

Leek Linguine with Walnut Pesto and Purple Dwarf Basil

Last summer I made walnut, hazlenut, and classic basil pesto and froze them in icecube trays to pop into pastas such as this all winter long. The walnut is simply walnuts, parsley, and garlic--i dont season them when freezing, so that i am free to do so with the final product. If you dont have purple dwarf basil, substitute regular, thought he delicate sweet flavour of this pretty little leaf is hard to replace. This pasta would also be good with the addition of other spring veg such as peas and favas, or zuchinni in the summer. Would haev been great with ricotta salata, but i was craving a schwonkety-schwonk of parm, and thats what i got!

To boiling water, add your linguine. In a large pan, gently soften:
leeks,sliced in half lengthwise (and widthwise if particularly long) and immersed in water to rinse away dirt
garlic, smashed and chopped

When pasta is finished, add to pan with leeks, walnut pesto, and basil. Season with salt and pepper and top with a schwonkety schwonk of parm. So simple, so satistfying, so springtime... so long winter

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


St. Paddy's Day is my second favorite holiday after Thanksgiving. What is not to love about a holiday that went from a Catholic saintly celebration to one simply of Irish culture--and its genuine love of ale. Wear green, drink Guiness, feel lucky for the Irish.

And so I was. Starting with the green (yes I wore a pinch-preventing outfit), but I also ate alot of green things today, even more than usual. All green things. Pears and frozen green grapes on my mueslix; green lentil hummus; mache with walnut oil; trout with roast potatos, celeriac, leeks, and artichokes...ok, so the trout wasnt green, thank goodness, but you get the idea. I even bought a granny smith apple to stand in for my usual pink ladies.

I drew the line at green beer though, just Guinness.

The best thing I ate though, was not green. It was brown. No, it was not beer, but a fantastic Irish Soda bread (the most successful bread--successful anything-- to come out of my oven lately...). The smell alone made me want to do nothing but eat bread all day: a soury earthiness that was there in taste too. Moist and just slightly crumbly around the crust, i nearly did eat bread all day. When I wasnt drinking it...

Irish Soda Bread
The recipe I adapted this from was in Fresh by John Bishop. I subbed honey for brown sugar, and used half millet and half flaxseeds in my bread, whereas Bishop uses toasted pepitas; I have simply listed "seeds" here, so feel free to improvise with your own favorite. The original recipe also calls for half buttermilk and half whole milk, but I absolutely love the tang of buttermilk so I went full out on it. Do your best to let the bread cool at least half an hour before cutting in, otherwise its crumb will, well, crumb all over your counter. Whatever you dont eat fresh out of the oven will keep for three days in an airtight container, excellent with marmalade in the mornings.

Preheat oven to 425F
Mix together:
1 c AP flour
1 c WW flour
3/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c seeds
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

In a seperate bowl, stirring to dissolve, combine:
2 T hot melted butter
1 T honey

In a slow, steady stream, pour in:
1 c buttermoo

Combine the wet with the dry ingredients, then turn out onto a clean, well floured work surface, and form into a domed round, roughly six inches in diameter. Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F and continue baking 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when rapped. Have a beer, or do an Irish jig, while the bread cools to sliceability.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

one part hippy

In my overanalytical fasion, I proposed to my sister once upon a time, that we should list our most definitive characters--basically, our "personalities" narrowed down to three. No, I was not searching for or offering a schizophrenic diagnosis, but basically, as women, the different sides that are strongest in ourselves (times when we are complete hormonal messes aside). Here's mine:

--one part feminine, lover of all things womanly, inspired by Sex in the City fasion and friends and lovers

--one part stress junkie, cant sit still or ever overdose on intensity and doings of somethings, even if this means simply walking while reading and trying to eat a sandwich, or balancing three jobs

--one part hippy, longing for simplicity, dirty hands, sunshine and green things

And when the latter is the strongest of the three strong mes, i feel like eating what honey and bread deems hippy chow. This includes things like whole grains, veggie meals, soy products, basically anything not from an animal or mere molecules away from plastic. If you opened my fridge, I may look like a bit of a health nut, and I cant deny a diverse collection of grains and rices and the like, in the same cupboard as all those dried up legumes. Prosciutto and various dairy products in varying degrees of high fat content are about all that reflect the other two sides of me--oh, and the frozen, just-in-case chocolate bar, albiet organic and containing dried fruit...oh boy, even my chocolate is grassy...

Last weekend I went to Vancouver and it took my love of hippy chow to a whole new level. My vegan girlfriend and I went to the Naam for dinner the night that I got there. It was nearly eleven by the time we got there, but the 24/7 vegetarian restaurant was still bustling--and for good reason. The atmosphere is chill, but the smells and incredible food warming. It is huge portions of deep flavours and textures that you just want to curl up with. Both of us had the special: a green bean and potato curry cooked long enough so that it mushed (in a good, good way) together into an unexpectedly spicy dish, a bowl of chickpea dal with plenty of oily more richly warm than spicy sauce perfect for soaking a warm from the oven peice of naan bread that, i kid you not, was the size of a steering wheel. There was so much food, and I was so full, yet I could not stop dipping and folding up beans into that bread. I dream of it...

That weekend I also expanded my vegetarian horizons, sharing Tempeh at the Naam and cooking and eating for the first time, Tofu. That was an experience in itself, perhaps to be relayed at another time. But now I am hooked. I cooked some last night (in a much more skilled and practiced manner), with my own attempt at red lentil dal, and homemade naan bread--the dreams had turned into a heavy craving. And fed my hippy self.

Red Lentil Dal with Kale
I fried up some tofu in sesame oil with this, but i imagine it would be good with feta cheese, or roasted tomatos. Curl up, tuck in, feel healthy, make love not war.

In a small saucepan, heat some oil and slowly soften:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced

Using a mortar and pestle, blend together and add to the pan:
sm. pc each ginger and turmeric, peeled and finely grated
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp cumin seeds

Raise the heat and add in, stirring to coat with oil:
1/4 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup red lentils
2 fresh bay leaves

When the rice has become slightly translucent, cover with stock or water, and simmer gently for 30-40 mins. Season with s&p to taste. When its ready, braise chopped kale in a shallow pan with a bit of diced garlic and chili flakes. Mix together with the dal, squeeze a bit of lemon over and grab a steering wheel size flatbread for scooping.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I turned twenty-three in Vancouver on Sunday. I pretended the Olympic fireworks and chaos were for me.
Better yet, I had two fantastic breakfasts:
1. After a much longer than usual, cant-stop-even-though-my-legs-are-dead-and-my-lungs-not-far-behind-but-i-love-this run by the sea wall, i showered and refueled with a much bigger than usual bowl of mueslix...downed with nearly a litre of almond milk. Didnt quite lose that nauseous feeling from the run...


2. Little Nest cafe. I had looked this up while meal planning for this random Vancouver visit. I fell in love with it on the website, but for not wanting to rush the day and unsure if theyd have vegan options for my girlfriend i was staying with, we decided to just visit for coffee. Impossible. Not with a menu as beautifully simplistic, yet detailed with care and seasonality, written in chalk on floor to ceiling boards. So despite being still uncomfortably full from breakfast, i ordered their homemade organic baguette (four options to choose from) with fresh ricotta and honey and housemade lemon curd. The table number was a block "E" (its a child friendly cafe), the americano strong, the baguette smothered in butter with the sides in dainty ramekins, the whole place perfect. It was exactly the type of spot I would love to call my own someday. I ate every last bite, feeling surprisingly more comfortable. And inspired.

oh, and there was a vegan cookie for Torr

keeping it short but sweet, just like my birthday