19 November 2013

Soup's On

It's that time of year, when the world falls in love with SOUP! Here are some soups that I made this month.

Pumpkin Homecoming Stew
Made with Ridley's homemade pumpkin purée. Throw the following things into a large pot, in this order, and whatever amount of each seems reasonable: olive oil; onion, chopped; garlic, minced; carrots, chopped; potatoes, chopped; pearl barley; mushrooms, quartered; ginger, grated; pumpkin purée; vegetable broth; a few pinches nutmeg and allspice; bay leaves.

Curried Potato Soup
I was cat sitting for a friend who asked me to eat the bag of potatoes she'd left. So I made a potato soup! From Pam Reiss's Soup: A Kosher Collection, one of my favourite Whitecap soup books.

Ginger-Miso-Basil Pea Soup
My cat friend also owns a NutriBullet, which anyone is welcome to buy me for Christmas, and I found the recipe for this soup in the NutriBullet cookbook. It's more of a purée that you eat over rice, which consists of: frozen peas, veggie stock, green onions, miso, ginger and basil. (From my office basil plant!)

Roasted Eggplant Soup
Part of my coping-with-having-spent-all-my-money-on-a-5-week-US-tour strategy is cooking dinners based on those $1.00 grab bags of vegetables you can get at independent grocers that must be cooked immediately or they will be rotten by midnight. You can almost always find a bag of overripe eggplants, so I consulted Pam's book again for eggplant recipes. This soup is amazing. So rich! So many subtle flavours! It has a couple secret ingredients you wouldn't expect. One of them is tahini.

P.S. If you are making soup DON'T FORGET THE BANNOCK!

30 September 2013

Dream Bannock

Maybe it's because the weather is turning colder; maybe because I've been putting in more hours on my stock photography website, but lately I've been having more and more food- and specifically cooking-related dreams. Last week I had a very scientific dream about making cinnamon hearts out of common household pantry items, which made complete sense in the dream, but upon waking... did not.

Bannock in bed

But this weekend I took a long nap in the afternoon during which I very methodically made some dough for bannock. Later when I wanted something to accompany the soup I made for dinner, I decided to go ahead and follow the recipe from my dream (with a little help from an actual recipe from the internet), and this was the tasty result.

Dream Bannock
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
a few pinches of salt
about 1 Tbsp ground-up flax and chia seeds
1 cup water
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
a pinch of fleur de sel

Mix together dry ingredients. Incorporate water until just mixed, and shape into a ball. Heat 1 Tbsp Earth Balance in skillet and flatten ball into a circle covering the entire surface. Cook about 8 minutes on medium heat (or until you just start to smell it maybe burning!); spread top with 1 Tbsp Earth Balance and sprinkle with fleur de sel, then flip and cook a few minutes more, covered. It’s ready when you stick a knife in it and it comes out clean.

02 September 2013


FYI: I pretty much only eat soup now. Originally this blog was to make me a better cook, but my long silences don’t mean I’ve been busy in the kitchen; rather I’ve been busy forgetting how to cook.

But at least I am mastering the art of adding ingredients to cans of soup. Yesterday’s concoction was Mushroom Barley soup, to which I added red lentils, quinoa flakes, corn and tofu. Today’s Lentil soup features barley pearls, corn, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, tomato and tofu.

I can't quite tell if I'm being healthy, but surely it beats a frozen pizza (which I still eat on non-soup days). (HOW CAN YOU NOT WITH THESE $3 NO FRILLS SALES)

16 June 2013

Potluck Café

Old news, but news from my world of food nonetheless. It's been a busy year! Less time for internetting.

14 April 2013

Mushroom Kale Tempeh Thing

What to do: Combine one sautéed onion, a can of cream of mushroom soup, some chopped up tempeh and half a bunch of kale. Season with black pepper, red pepper flakes and mushroom spice. Serve on a bed of noodles.

What not to do: Add raw green lentils to the boiling spaghetti water, thinking they will cook in the same amount of time as the pasta. They will not. You will end up with soft bloated noodles and crunchy, cardboardy lentils. Just ignore the lentils. Pretend I never mentioned lentils, ok.

11 April 2013

Namaste Meals

Untitled I spent a third of the month of March at a Buddhist monastery in California, where I ate the most amazing vegan food of my life. Maybe the mindful eating meditation had something to do with it, but being a vegan suddenly seemed so easy and awesome and natural and why was I not already doing it anyway. (More on mindful eating here, with a quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh, founder of Deer Park Monastery.)

Untitled Our monastic meals were almost always soybean-based in one way or another, but with so much variety. I was amazed at how they can take so few ingredients and make so many different dishes. Marinated tofu, tofu bakes, soft homemade tofu in pho, veggie burgers, sheets of bean curd skin... And they made their tofu, like everything else, from scratch.

The monks inspired me to cook more, get by on less, and become 90% vegetarian. (Due to my undying love of cheese, veganism will never be an option. Sorry cows.) The 10% leaves enough room for the occasional guilt-free cheating at restaurants, and for the sometimes necessary lunchtime burger-and-brew special at The Cambie.

So keeping in mind animal-friendly-cooking-more-and-using-less, my meals the past week have looked something like the following:

Black beans & salsa
The old stand-by, easy, hot and filling lunch. The prep time for this meal is as long as it takes to heat up the beans. Relative to the easiness, the taste is surprisingly pretty good.

Lentils, onions, green olives and marinated tomatoes
The two latter ingredients procured from the Ashland Food Co-op, my favourite food stop on the Pacific coast.

Vermicelli with mixed 'exotic' mushrooms; olives; olive juice (ie. the liquid the olives came in); tomatoes; roasted red peppers; artichoke hearts
Seasoning: salt, pepper, nutritional yeast
Inspired by Memories of Salt Spring II.

The end. This thing.
I was trying to recreate a meal we ate at the monastery for lunch one day. It was some kind of tofu-based bake, that was threaded with rice noodles and had carrots, green onions and some kind of seaweed AND/OR extreme-flavoured mushroom thing. One of my roommates suggested that perhaps they used soft tofu, blended up, and then mixed in uncooked rice noodles, so that as the noodles cook, they soak up the liquid and transform it into the baked thing that it is.

Sorry So what we have here is two packages of soft tofu, mashed up with a fork; mixed 'exotic' mushrooms that were sautéed a bit first; one chopped carrot that was par-cooked in the mushroom sweat; green onions; flakes of dulse.

What I mixed in a handful of vermicelli noodles. The original uses noodles of the rice variety, but non-rice noodles also worked. Seasoning: salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes.

... I baked it at 350°F until it seemed mostly set, which took an hour. I let it sit for ten minutes or so to set a little more. And it worked! It woooorrrrrkedd! HOORAY

08 November 2012

Indonesian Lentils

It's some food Ok I cooked a thing. Actually I have been combining these things semi-regularly lately: onions, broccoli, tomatoes and lentils with kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce).

Tonight though there was no onion so instead I used half a packet of Lipton French Onion soup mix. Other additions: marinated artichokes, the oil that the artichokes were marinated in, and a pinch of saffron. This is to confirm that all of these ingredients together are acceptable.

15 October 2012


A good percentage of me has been made of this shelf since May.
I wasn't lying about eating all those cans of soup. For some time this has been what I have been made of. But lately Pizza Pops have been on sale at No Frills and things have taken a turn for the worse.

So it is time to start cooking again. These things don't just happen overnight, so this evening I am using, well, a can of soup. However, the more things you add to it, the more it feels like you are cooking. Once you've mastered that feeling, then perhaps you can ease back into making real food. Until then, try adding the following to your Campbell's Tomato Soup:

• red lentils
• frozen corn
• red pepper flakes
• nutritional yeast
• salt + pepper

It's all about forming healthy habits so don't be shy, just throw a bunch of stuff into the pot already. There, you're doing it! YOU'RE COOKING. You're coooookiiiinngnnnggggg

14 September 2012

Death of a Plant

Sorry plant After Sonya took attentive care of my peppermint plant while I was away, I went and forgot to water it for two weeks. I have not yet figured out how to keep the kind of plants that you eat alive, but in the meantime I figured I'd take advantage of the death of Mr Peppermint by making him into a salad.

Plant afterlife The original recipe is over here; it is basically a grapefruit, an avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, pepper and a handful of mint leaves. Glad to get one meal out of the little guy. And glad to not eat a frozen pizza or a can of soup, because hey, all these nights I have not been posting, that's what has been going into my belly. Back to basics.

05 September 2012

Oh hey guys

Oops, August came and went without a single post from yours truly. I have a reasonable excuse -- I was away for half the month on tour with my band. (More on that later.)

Untitled I hadn't cooked in so long, it appears that I had even forgotten how to make popcorn. Here is my first attempt. Apparently you're not supposed to heat the oil on max for five minutes prior to popping.

Untitled I tried again at a more temperate setting, and: success! Welcome back to my life, popcorn. Bring on the Buffy.

31 July 2012

Red Lentil, Tomato & Rice Soup

This week's meals are brought to you by a lost wallet. Having no money until I receive my replacement bank or credit card or whatever comes first, I had to rely on the contents of my kitchen cupboard.

Affordable dinner for people with lost wallets
Tonight's Ingredients
• 6 Tbsp No Name brand skim milk powder
• 2 cans Campbell's Tomato Soup
• 2 soup-cans-full of water
• 1/4 cup President's Choice long grain rice
• 1/4 cup No Name brand red lentils
• salt & pepper

Affordable lunch for people with lost wallets.
Other meals this week: Crackers & cheese for dinner; crown of broccoli for lunch; half a bag o' Doritos for dinner; half a bag of Doritos plus half a crown of broccoli for lunch.

23 July 2012

Rose Melberg Mushroom Gravy

Untitled I came back from our island tour with a deeper love in my heart for my band mates and a recipe in my head for vegan mushroom gravy from our bass player Rose. Then I got stood up for dinner by my lady friends, so I went home and did something I haven't done in almost three months: I COOKED.

Well, I cooked gravy, anyway. Like this:

Mushroom Gravy
Chop up a few mushrooms and a handful of walnuts, and sauté in some oil (actually I used butter). Add 1 Tbsp flour to make a roux. Gradually stir in 4 cups water with 2 mushroom stock cubes. Simmer until it reaches desired thickness, and season with black pepper and Braggs.

Nanaimo I smothered a pile of cheese tortellini with it and sprinkled on some Parmesan cheese, and it was amazing. Rose would be proud. Except for the fact that I obliterated its vegan-ness in every way possible. But I think she would understand.

28 June 2012

Meat Island

Palomino While I missed the majority of the bands that I intended to see at Sled Island, I also made a couple musical discoveries, and just as importantly a few fffoooodddddiscoveries!

Peanut-shirted guy But before I get to all that: a stop at McDonalds for a good ole cheeseburger. We rolled into town pretty late and had to play a show immediately and then see our friend's show, so by the time we were ready to eat dinner it was almost midnight and this was the only thing open downtown. The lineup was endless, but it featured this guy wearing a Peanut T-shirt.

Whatsa matter with a pizza pie Late-night eating would soon be replaced by visits to CPU (Canadian Pizza Unlimited), at 11th and 5th.

CPU The best worst pizza: it wouldn't be that good, except that it's so fresh because it's the only non-McDonalds place to eat after midnight.

Scotch Caesars for breakfast at the Area We began the next morning with free samples of Scotch Caesars for breakfast at The Area, which sounds like a nifty idea, but the thick rim of steak salt was conducive to an afternoon of severe garlic breath, and the scotch really overpowered everything in an unfortunate way.

Untitled However, we found out we could get samples of the scotch alone, at which point I discovered that it tastes amazing. Here it is. I love it. It was very tempting to sneak off with one of these boxes.

The Area scotch & dogs There were also breakfast hot dogs, served by B.A. Johnston. The Area is probably the most interesting venue in town (that I saw), complete with campfires, tented areas with tree stump seats, a maze of a garden and beekeeping nests. Oh and also some bands (most notably Cousins), playing in an old abandoned school house.

Ship & Anchor Bulleit Bourbon Another drink discovery: I asked for a 'whiskey' at the Ship & Anchor and the bartender said 'what kind' and I said 'the best kind' (I had a free drink ticket), and he brought me Bulleit Bourbon. Which brought up questions of whether or not bourbon is whiskey and what about rye and for that matter the scotch I had yesterday. This is a conversation I've had several times in the midst of whiskey-drinking, but without ever reaching a satisfying conclusion (probably due to the whiskey-drinking). I'm sure that ten minutes on Wikipedia would clear the whole thing up.

Broken City Steak Salad Our artist packages included a ticket for one free menu item at Broken City. I ate a flat iron steak salad. It had field greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and some kind of blueberry balsamic dressing. It is one of my fondest food memories of Calgary. I started eating this and didn't really look up until it was all gone.

Palomino pulled pork mac n cheese; a Watermelon recommendation. The Palomino, which came recommended by both locals and touring bands, was also pretty exciting. A fragrant cloud of BBQ smell hangs in the air around it for an entire city block. I ate the mac and cheese with pulled pork for brunch, then carried the leftovers around the city with me and ate it for dinner as well. A solid, tasty investment.

Twin River Hangover Breakfast A hangover breakfast at Local 510 with Twin River playing in the background. Who doesn't love free breakfast tacos. Not me. Also their coffee was GREAT.

Untitled This was my second year in a row hanging out at Tubby Dog and not eating anything on the menu. It's not that I don't find it intriguing -- particularly the Cap'ns dog smothered in peanut butter, jam and Cap'n Crunch -- it's just that I was saving myself for my beloved Burger Inn.

BURGER INN 2012 Our last stop of the festival, to chase last year's burger dragon. Five of us were present; four burger patties were eaten; three kinds of animals (bison, elk and wild boar) were consumed; only two of us ate burgers.

The Triple Mix: wild boar, elk and bison. Deliciousness was achieved.

14 June 2012

Off The Pizza Track

Untitled Last weekend I attended the launch for Off The Eaten Track's culinary walking tours -- a couple of ladies who lead tours through Vancouver's culinary landscape of food carts, coffees, cocktails and more.

Untitled The launch took place at Pop-Up Pizza, next door to the Toast Collective at Kingsway and Fraser, which features a solid menu of rustic thin-crust pizzas.

Untitled This one was a seafoody special dubbed the 'Game Changer'.

Untitled But the Misfit was my favourite: wild boar rosemary salami, pecorino Toscano, prociutto, chopped basil, Romano and Roma tomatoes.

Untitled Between slices I snuck into the back for a little Pizza-Making-101.

Untitled Restaurants of the pop-up variety are by definition only a short-lived affair, so pizzaholics DON'T DELAY. If you go out for pizza just one night this month, make a trip to Pop-Up Pizza and eat a Misfit for me!

And read more about Off The Eaten Track here.

30 May 2012

Richmond Food Blogger: It Isn't Me

On June 5 they will be announcing the Richmond Food Blogger, one lucky individual who will eat in Richmond every day and night for a whole year, and get paid $50,000 to blog about the ordeal. Here are a couple reasons to be glad that it won't be me:

I went to a Taiwanese restaurant in Richmond with Max last week; it was good but I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT'S CALLED.

I went to Chen's Shanghai Restaurant with some friends this past Sunday but I was so hungry that I didn't take pictures. This was immediately followed by me being extremely full. In any case I will try to remember the dishes because I intend to return: Soup dumplings, dan dan noodles, beef roll, other kinds of dumplingy things...

Anyway I DID take photos at the mystery Taiwanese restaurant, so here they are with descriptions to the best of my memory:

Untitled Pork dish with brown sauce and cilantro.

Untitled A soupy crab dish with tofu and a mushroom-like thing.

Untitled Three-(I think)-spice chicken wings.

Untitled My favourite: rice cakes with some pork I think.

Untitled Mayonnaisey dish feat. deep-fried prawns and pineapple.

Richmond you are tasty and I love you, but someone else can blog about you now.
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