Tuesday, 20 January 2009

sprouts and mangoes and kale, oh my!

As promised... here's a fast sprout salad, ready to come to work with me. It's hardly a recipe at all, but it is one of my favorite way to eat sprouted chickpeas. Any orange fruit (or even grated carrots, or apples if you want) can stand in for the mango. The idea is to get something that's sweet in there to offset all the other crunchy, slightly bitter ingredients.

Kale and sprouts, blanched and cooled (you can blanch it the night before and put it in the fridge, or just run it under cold water if you're making this in the morning. 1 small mango, chopped and half an endive (uh, I just had half an endive lying around and it had to be used), I scallion, also chopped. Lime juice, roasted and ground cumin, sweet chili sauce, salt.

note: you don't have to blanch the sprouts and kale, but I sometimes prefer them this way. Sometimes not.

Must get to work on time music: Manic Monday, by the Bangles. Yes. I listen to the Bangles. I keep hoping someone will remake/remix walk like an egyptian (keeping the lovely grindy chords).

Monday, 19 January 2009


I has a green thumb.

Look!!!! GREEN CHICKPEAS! How extremely super-exciting! I found them (dried) while I was out on an epic search for black beluga lentils (which is a long and somewhat boring story, which I will spare you).

Now I will tell you the top secret method of "How to sprout things without having a sprouter", because sprouters are stupid devices that stand as a testament to people's ability to sell (and willingness to buy) useless crap. Remember when you were 7 and you grew a bean at school, probably starting it off between layers of moist paper towel? Well? See? You know how to sprout. This is merely revision, in case you can't read your notes from grade 2, or have misplaced them sometime in the past few decades:

1) Find some beautiful dried legumes that you want to sprout. Buy them. Find a nice big bowl. Deposit legumes into bowl. The dried legumes should only cover the bottom of the bowl (when they double in size, they shouldn't take up more than 1/4 of volume of the bowl). This is because you will need some air circulation or things will get gross. A large plastic flat bottomed bowl is best.
2) rinse them, and soak them for 24 hours (big legumes, like chickpeas) or overnight (small legumes, like lentils). If you're unsure of how long to soak, because your legumes are annoying intermediate-sized but so adorable-looking that you just love them to bits (aduki beans), arbitrarily assign them to the "large" category.
3) after the soaking period is up, drain the water.
4) rinse the legumes thoroughly a few times with cool water and drain completely. cover the bowl with a clean cloth and put it somewhere dark. I just wrap my bowl in a dark tea towel and leave it near the couch in the kitchen. You may not want to follow this example of a "good place to sprout things" if you have pets or children or are prone to kicking things over. The important thing is that it be dark and cool.
5) repeat step 4 every 24 hours for 2-5 days, depending on the size of your legume and the temperature of your sprouting environment. You don't have to change the cloth unless it gets wet or dirty. When the tails are more than twice as long (go for thrice as long) as the legume (see photo), they're done (you can pop one in your mouth and check). Give 'em one last rinse and refrigerate in a loosely covered container. Eat them however you want. Feel smug that you just made a whack of sprouts for about 1/100th of the cost of buying them already sprouted, PLUS you got to watch them sprout, which is very grade-2-science-project-satisfying, and fun, and very, very cool. Trust me, in 2009, all the cool kids will be sprouting green chickpeas. Start now so that you can say you were doing it before it was trendy.

Note: if your sprouted legumes smell or look funny DON'T EAT THEM. I've never had legumes go "off" while I was sprouting them, but it's probably not impossible.

Now, go get started. I'll post a sprouted chickpea recipe soon.

inspirational green music: It's not easy being green, sung (but not composed) by Kermit the frog.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

parsnip pirate soup

Okay, this has nothing to do with pirates, but I have a thing for pirates and alliteration. A friend left me some hand picked and dried sage, and it inspired this: Quick soup: chop up 1 small onion, 1 medium spud, 1 large or 2 medium parsnips. Add water to cover, and set on the stove to simmer. Add a clove or two of garlic. Simmer away! When everything is done, puree, return it to the pot and add a sprinkle of sage, a spoonful of nutritional yeast (the size of the spoon should correspond to your love or hate of nutritional yeast) a dash of liquid smoke (or some smoked paprika), and salt + black pepper to taste. Top with lots of chopped parsley. Drizzle with olive or truffle oil if you want to bring out the muskyness of the parsnips. Easy peasy good, and it doesn't take much time away from other pressing things (like piracy on the high seas, or population genetics). If you want to use this as a starter for a fancy dinner instead of for a quick lunch all in itself, roast the potatoes, parsnips and onion first, instead of boiling them, and then puree them with veg broth or even soy milk, adding the garlic at that point, then continue on adding spices.

Monday, 12 January 2009

highly addictive bitter green mini yet curiously round not-so-italian farinata/bastard love children of pakoras and felafel

...huh. Turns out radish leaves are edible. Who knew? I had a few bunches of radishes, and it seemed a horrible waste to throw out all those lovely greens, but I had never heard of them being eaten. So, using the awesome power of teh Googles, I checked if I would regret cooking them up and/or poison myself (which would be a shame, and isn't on my list of things to do). Several sources confirmed that people actually eat these, and that you can just treat them like any other bitter green. I nibbled on one. They were too bitter to eat raw or in a salad (at least these ones were, maybe the summer ones are more delicate?), so I made these. I love bitter greens with chickpea flour pancakes, or farinata, which is a pretty standard Italian combination that a friend made for me a few times, which started a mild obsession with farininata that I have yet to totally overcome. This seemed like a natural extension of the idea. These are ridiculously versatile and a little too addictive. The sweet potato adds depth and sweetness. These are somewhere between a pakora and a felafel, but they're not fried, and they're pretty dense (so don't make them too big).

-1 medium sweet potato, mashed
-about 1c chickpeas, also mashed
-2 large cloves garlic and a good-sized piece of ginger, grated/mushed/or finely chopped
-generous pinch asafoetida, 2tbs toasted ground cumin, 1 tbs toasted ground garam masala, 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds (just dry toast everything together in a pan) 1 tbs curry powder, 3-4 tbs dried coriander leaves (Jake, just use parsley), sprinkle of salt, 1 lemon of lemon juice (all to taste, amounts given are wild guesses of what I added)
-radish leaves, chopped, blanched and drained. I had leaves from 2 big bunches of radishes, which when cooked and chopped, yielded about 3/4 cup. Any bitter green will do (arugula, dandelion, fenugreek leaves...have fun!)
-chickpea flour (the amount will depend on how wet the rest of your ingredients are, I used about a cup)

Combine everything but the chickpea flour. Add chickpea flour a little at a time until you have something that you can form into patties. Form small (I used a tablespoon) patties, roll in cornmeal, squish to little mini-burger like shapes, and bake at 180C for about 20 mins. Flip halfway through if you're so inclined, but I didn't, and nothing bad seemed to happen. Eat them like felafel. Or like pakora. Or just dip them in eggplant pickle. Throw them on top of spaghetti with marinara sauce and you have italian-indian delight! ... they really do go frightfully well with spaghetti and tomato sauce. Above, you see them fresh out of the oven, with eggplant pickle, a baked potato, and a giant salad. These are great if you pack a lunch, btw. They travel really well, and taste good cold, I was going to check if they reheated well in the microwave, but the microwave at work is gross, and I refuse to use it, even for you, my dear readers. You'll have to check on the reheatability of these yourselves and report back to me.

bitter green love music: John's book of alleged dances. John Adams and the Kronos Quartet. I seem to be falling in looooove with the Kronos Quartet. Yummy music.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


I love beets. I love the way they taste, and I love how beautifully red-purple they make whatever you add them to. So, I give you: Beet-ish dahl-ish soup. About half a cup of red lentils, 3 grated beets, a chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic, turmeric, a few little chopped up spuds. Boil that up. Then add a whack of grated ginger, some grated garlic, salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

This is easy to make so long as you can keep yourself from accidentally dying the entire kitchen bright purple. I set it a-simmering after my run, and it was pretty much done by the time I had finished showering and getting into my jammies. I wanted something just simple tonight. I've been in London for the week at a conference, and have been fed really oily, rich food. Note: there is such a thing as too many dishes that have been "drizzled with olive oil", no matter how good that olive oil is.

And now, a rant from Ms.Manners to all the omnivores out there who eat lunch (or dinner, or whatever) with a vegan: your snide comments are not clever, nor are they new. I've heard pretty much all of them before. Also, I don't want to hear about your friend/coworker/second cousin who used to be vegan but now isn't. And shockingly, I don't want you to explain in gory detail to me how you butcher your own chickens, or catch and kill fish, especially while I'm eating. Basically, me being vegan does not give you permission to be rude to me. Get that through your brain. If I sat down to lunch with you and launched into mocking your food, followed by a diatribe about how I know omnis who are malnourished (and I do) or who have such horrible eating habits that they are heading straight for a lifetime of diabetes (yup, I see some of my friends doing that as well), and pointed out how this was connected to *your* food, it would be unthinkably rude. It would also be rude of me to detail how slaughterhouses and dairys get that food to your plate. So please, do me the same favour as I'm doing you: Shut up and eat your lunch.

One more thing. Please don't tell me that this will all change *when* I get pregnant, since "my body will tell me it needs meat". That statement is beyond offensive on so many levels. One, you assume that just because I am in possession of a working uterus that I intend to have children. WRONG. Sexist and wrong(and even the assumption that i'm in possession of a working uterus is a bit presumptuous). Second, you assume that vegan pregnancy is impossible. WRONG. Uninformed and wrong. Third, you assume that people eating whatever they want means that they're eating what their body needs. Uh, probably WRONG given the obesity epidemic in most countries where people are rich enough to eat whatever they want. So, on that one, we'll give you blatant denial of available evidence ad wrong.

Sheesh people. Fucking be a bit considerate.

dancing off the anger to: Joan Jett, bad reputation.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

I *heart* salad.

Eat your vegetables, and you'll grow up big and strong and be recruited for such prestigious secret international organizations as SSOV, like me.

Salads are so misunderstood. I blame the limp lettuce leaves and cardboard-tasting hothouse tomatoes swimming in tasteless oil that pass for "salad" in most people's lives. It's tragic, really. Here are some downright untragic ideas that are simple and yummy and probably just the ticket after you've finished off the last of the decadent holiday leftovers. Ideally, salads should be fresh, flavourful, exciting, crunchy goodness. Make them nice and big...they can constitute the main dish of a meal... just add soup or some bread and hummous or peanut butter or whatever and you have a lovely lovely dinner, after which you'll feel good. The key is to go to the grocery store or farmer's market, see what looks good and THEN decide what to make. Do as little as possible to the nicest in-season produce, and it will be delicious. Another key is to go easy on the dressing. If you actually need to smother your salad in dressing in order to make it yummy, you've bought bad produce. Don't do that. Keep in mind that in-season produce is usually the cheapest, and it's often worth (both taste and money wise) to go with what's in season rather than making that simple tomato salad in mid-January. Savour the tomatoes in the summer when they taste like heaven. Right now, enjoy citrus, cabbage, beets... mmmmmmmmm.....

The salads:

Fennel, sliced really thin, with sections of grapefruit. Add salt, pepper, a mild vinegar (I used bramble, but apple cider would also work) and depending on the tartness of your grapefruit, a little bit of maple syrup or agave nectar.

Mixed greens (substantial ones...rocket/arugula, radicchio, dark green lettuce, spinach or finely chopped kale) with as many fresh herbs as you can muster (any or all off basil, mint, oregano, parsley, coriander). Cherry tomatoes if you can find them, roasted red peppers if you can't (ie- if it's winter) Dress with your best vinegar and some really good olive oil, easy on the oil, okay? For an oil-free option, dress with vinegar, pomegranite molasses, garlic, salt and pepper. I prefer the oil-free version.

Chopped cabbage and lettuce with thinly sliced apples or pears, grated or thinly sliced carrots, grilled fennel (optional) and pomegranite seeds or grapes or even raisins. If you want to make a full meal of this, add some cooked or baked chickpeas. Dressing: a decent dollop of mustard (dijon is fun here, but keep in mind it will be clear-your-sinuses hot), maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, pepper.

Grated beets (baked if you want, raw if you want), cooked puy lentils, chopped walnuts. Dress with balsamic vinegar, lots of black pepper and a tiny bit of grated garlic, and some fresh dill if you can get it. If the beets aren't very sweet, you may want to add some maple syrup, but taste it first, because beets can be surprisingly sweet. If you have truffle oil, feel free to mix a few drops in. Alternately, drizzle some tahini on top. Or add some chopped capers. This is especially good with a few olives on the side. It also makes a kickass stuffing for baked onions or big mushrooms.

Raw kale (rub with salt, rinse, chop) or cooked chopped kale, finely chopped raw onions, a little bit of chopped garlic and/or ginger, cilantro, underripe chopped mango or any other sweet orange fruit that you fancy (I've used persimmons, oranges, guava...whatever/ Basically kale with mango salsa. This is a great way to use the mangoes that are taunting all of us from the shelves right now, if you want to pretend like it's summer....Just add some dry-roasted cumin and salt (if you've cooked rather than salted the kale). In the summer, add chopped tomatoes as well. This is lovely with grilled tofu, by the way.

Finally, something really light. Cucumbers, a whack of chopped fresh mint, lemon juice and either strawberries (in the summer) or ridiculously thin slices of asian pear (in the winter). You can also blend everything together and add vodka or gin for a slightly less healthy approach to this one. Be sure to seed the cucumber first if you do that. I highly recommend using Hendriks and just a tiny dash of rosewater if you go for the gin slush. The slush version can also take advantage of frozen strawberries, even in the dead of winter.

Music for chop-chop-chopping away to: The Gorey End, by the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies.