Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's okay to be corny, I like corny.

I know, I know - a recipe well before Friday. Sometimes it just can't wait, even if it means messing with convention.

Double Corn Muffins

We seem to always have a tonne of cornmeal in our pantry, which is fine by me because I really enjoy the texture it adds to baked goods and it's a nice warming grain to use at this time of year. These muffins are sweet, but the sweetness is subtle enough that they can go either way - serve them with a soup or stew, or a nice smear of jam at breakfast or tea time. (For the record, I'm working out the recipe so there's enough batter for an even dozen muffins, but you get the 2 bonus ones for now!)

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 cup organic/non-GM cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 1/3 cups "sour" milk (1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice + non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup olive oil or sunflower oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup applesauce or "flax eggs"
2/3 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen - if you don't want kernels, substitute with raisins or dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350oF. Prepare 14 muffin cups with liners or a light coating of oil (alternately you could do a tray of 12 muffin cups and a mini loaf pan) and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon (if using) in a large bowl. Add the milk, oil, maple syrup and applesauce. Gently mix together just until all the flour has been absorbed. The batter will seem pretty thin, but the cornmeal will absorb a decent amount of liquid as it bakes. Pour into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about a 1/4 inch from the top.
Slide them into the oven and bake for 25 minutes (35-40 minutes for the mini loaf), until the tops are domed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Store in an airtight container for 3 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes 14 muffins.

* * *

In other news, I'm getting back into a blanket project that I started last year and will be thrilled if I can get it done before I'm 35 (that means I'm giving myself another 6.5 years if I need it). It's the Circle Blanket pattern from The Knit Cafe, only I've adapted it in a few key ways. (If you are a knitter and want my version of the pattern, I'd be happy to post it.)

I thought it would be a good way to get rid of all this old lopi I've had since I first learned to knit eight years ago (and before I learned that there are nicer textures of wool out there), but I've now depleted my stash of all the yarn in colours I'd like to include in this blanket, so I'm left to kicking myself for having not taken advantage of the boxing day yarn sales, and maybe deciding to hold out for Romni's sale in July.

It's both a good and a treacherous project for a goal-oriented knitter like me (it's true, I don't knit for the calming pleasure of the activity, I knit to get it done) because it's not so long between the time I cast on and the time I can stay "I'm done another circle!", however it is not a particularly speedy project, so I won't get do holler the most satisfying "I'm done!" for quite some time. Maybe yearly updates would be most appropriate for this project.

Ryan blurrily captured the moment I realized I'd need to make another 4 times the amount of circles I have now.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sweetie pie (and cakes and cookies and tarts and... and....)

The Book: My Sweet Vegan: passionate about dessert by Hannah Kaminsky (Fleming Ink, 2007)

Overall feeling: If I lived with or near Hannah, I expect I'd be rather fat and have a raging case of candida. But would my sweet tooth be happy and satisfied? Oh yes, it would. I'm not going to talk about how Hannah put this book together - creating the recipes and taking all of the 80 gorgeous photographs - at the young age of 18 because quite frankly I expect she is sick of everyone cooing over how young she is, and it sure doesn't do much for my self-esteem, having not had my first cookbook published until the age of 27. I had the opportunity to meet Hannah last November at the Boston Veg Fest where we were both doing cooking demos. Despite her active nerves (as this was her first live demo), she had this matter-of-fact confidence with her ingredients (cakes, frostings) that I really dug.

Best bits: If you are looking to make straight-up vegan sweets, to be inspired by mouth-watering images (really, it's some of the best photography I've seen in a vegan cookbook), and to impress the pants off conventional eaters - making them say "I can't believe it's vegan!", then this is no doubt the book for you. And if you are like me - a bit more whole-foods oriented and enjoy a good challenge to "healthify" a recipe - then dig right in and get testing. Hannah's writing is clear, confident and inviting; her recipes a perfect blend of veganized classics and creative new ideas. I am hard-pressed to find recipes that I wouldn't want to sample, though the ones at the top of my to-try list include: Caramel Macchiato "Cheese" Cake, Chai "Cheese" Cake, Mocha Devastation Cake, Peach Melba Layer Cake, Root Beer Cupcakes, Silken Chocolate Mousse Cake, Cashew Creme Pear Tart, Pink Lemonade Tartlets, Pumpkin Pecan Pie, Green Tea Tiramisu and Pumpkin Toffee Trifle. (And then after enjoying thoroughly, I'd take some probiotics to finish.)

Less-wonderful bits: Of course you know, as a holistic nutritionist, that I am wary about all the refined foods going on in this book. I think we could all do to reduce our consumption of all-purpose flour and white sugar, if not eliminate it completely. I am more about the whole grain flours, maple and agave syrups, coconut and sunflower oils before canola and vegetable oils, and coconut milk over soy creamer. I am also surprised when vegan books don't push for fairly traded products like sugar and chocolate/cocoa, because if we're all so big on animal rights, shouldn't we be advocating for human rights in food production industries, too? Anyhow, I won't go any further on that point, because it's really my agenda, and in all fairness, Hannah never claimed it was hers.

Whole foods focus?: Nope.
Vegan-friendly?: 100 percent!
Eco-conscious?: No (except that it is vegan).
Web presence?: yup.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Five minutes in the tropics

Freshly Juiced Pina Colada

It went down to -21oC this Wednesday here in Toronto (that's -6oF for you all in the States), then at 10pm last night there was a major power outage in my part of town and we woke up to a bitterly cold house this morning (I've since opted for evacuation to my parent's place). While we should all be aware of the virtues of local foods, and make sure our produce that winters over well came from neighbouring farmers, sometimes a brief visit to the tropics, if only in your mouth, can do wonders to lift the chilly January spirits. Leave the pineapple core in tact for juicing, as they say that part has anti-tumor properties!

1 medium pineapple, peeled (you know what I mean, yes?) and cut length-wise in quarters
3 frozen bananas (I guess this makes it less conventional, and more of a smoothie)
1/3 cup coconut milk
a splash rum (maybe 1/4 cup?), to taste (optional)

Pass the pineapple through the slower setting on your juicer.
Pour the juice into a blender or food processor along with the bananas, coconut milk and rum, if using. Give it a good whirl for about a minute, until very smooth. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 3 servings.

Ryan enjoying some liquid sunshine.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Workshop to get you going in the right direction

For those of you in and near Toronto, I'm offering a workshop: Realistic Resolutions: developing a New Year's wellness plan you can actually stick to at my place next Sunday.

Want more info about the workshop (and can't access the facebook link)?

Date & Time: Sunday January 18, 2-5pm
Place: my place, Roncesvalles Village, Toronto
Description: Oftentimes the best projects are DIY projects. And taking charge of your own health and well-being can be excitingly rewarding!

With the nutrition and health information provided in this workshop, as well as some recognition of the law of attraction, you can design your own path to wellness.
I'll also be busting out my bag of tricks to help you get on your way with the greatest amount of ease, and offer tips to make your plan stick day after day, week after week, month after month.

The plan you will begin to develop during the workshop will be individualized for your needs, tastes and lifestyle. It can be valuable to sign up with a friend to help keep each other motivated, though it's certainly not necessary.

This workshop is limited to 9 participants and will be held at my place. To register, you need to e-mail, with "Resolution Workshop, please!" in the subject line. (The fbook RSVP doesn't count as registration.)

Cost: It's $45 for most ($30 for my nutritional clients or $35 for previous workshop attendees)... and you can pay for it right here!

You'll have to type in the amount, which is $45 (unless you're a client, or have attended a previous workshop of mine).


Friday, January 09, 2009

As in a delicious dinner, not the cartoon rat.

... as much as I did enjoy the movie.

Roasted Ratatouille

(I find that tomato dishes don't like to be photographed at night - even with fancy new cameras.) I've slightly adapted this recipe from the one in Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers, and I just can't get enough of it - even for breakfast!

1 medium or 2 smaller zucchini
2 medium-large onions
1 large eggplant
2 medium-large tomatoes (or 1 14 oz can whole tomatoes, drained* and halved)
2 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green)
6 large (or 8 medium) cloves garlic make 12-14 cups in all
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. dried basil or 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves,chopped
1 sprig of thyme or a pinch of dried thyme
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450oF.
Cut all vegetables into 1-inch chunks (chop the garlic roughly). Place in a large bowl and toss with the oil, basil (only if using dried), thyme, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet or two and slide in the oven for 15 minutes.
Pull the vegetables out to stir and then return to the oven for another 25-30 minutes (stirring once more), until fork-tender and juicy.

When vegetables are done, toss with the basil (if using fresh).
Serve hot, with steamed quinoa, millet, brown rice or polenta, and steamed greens or a fresh green salad.

Makes at least 6 to 8 servings.

* You might choose to pour some of the tomato juice into the dish before roasting, but all of it would be too soupy. Save it to flavour another dish.

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"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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