Friday, October 30, 2009

Get saucy!

This past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday was a busy time for me - shopping (including convincing my food co-op to stay open 40 minutes late just for me on a Sunday night, and a 9pm trip to Whole Foods with Lisa on Monday night!), prepping (with kind help from Lisa and my housemate Lesley), cooking, prop-finding, plating, and shooting the food photographs for Ripe from Around Here. John Cullen, the photographer, was super to work with, and the picture of easy-going. Marika styled the shots with a level of patience and attention to detail that I simply couldn't have mustered. If you're on facebook, you can see them here.

Now, there's no doubt about it that it's fall here in the northern hemisphere, and fall means apple season. Why not fire up the oven and get saucy?

Roasted Applesauce

While applesauce is a staple for vegan baking, it’s also a simple and delicious addition to many breakfasts: with yogurt and/or granola, on pancakes or waffles, or warm in a bowl on its own. Roasting the apple amps up the flavour – and gives your house an incredible smell in the making!
If you use just the peeled apples and water, the sauce will be simple and neutral enough to do anything with. Adding the lemon juice will brighten the flavour, make the sauce a little smoother, and likely help it keep longer in the fridge (ascorbic acid from the lemons being a preservative and all). Keeping the peels on makes the sauce more nutritious, but they won’t dissolve completely – it will be a tad bittier, though likely to blend in just fine if used in baking.

2 lb. apples (preferably 2 or more varieties, like pink lady, granny smith, spy)
juice of one lemon (¼ cup) (optional, see note above)
up to 1 tbsp cinnamon (optional)
½ cup warm filtered water

Preheat the oven to 350oF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Peel the apples if they’re conventionally grown, or if they’re organic you can choose to leave the skins on or not (see note above). Core them, and chop them into even-sized pieces (1/4-inch slices or 1-inch bits).
Toss them with the lemon juice and cinnamon (if using) in a large bowl.
*The photo above shows the various options: skin on (bottom), skin off (top 2), with lemon juice (top right), without (top left), with cinnamon (bottom again)*
Scatter them across the prepared baking sheet in an even layer.

Slide them in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes in all, rotating them and giving them a bit of a stir with a silicone spatula about halfway through.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so before scraping all the apples in your blender or food processor, and giving it a whirl just until no apple chunks remain. Alternately you could use a food mill if you have one. Store in a sealed container or glass jar in the fridge for about a week (maybe 2 weeks if you used lemon juice), or can them for up to a year of shelf stability.

Makes 2 2/3 cups.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The morning after a houseparty

I feel at this moment like someone who indulged a little too much last night and is having a hard time getting her brain going after only 4 hours of sleep. I totally am this someone. My two housemates and I threw a housewarming bash last night that went past 3am, and then we decided it'd be best to clean up then and wake up to a sparkly kitchen and living room in the morning.

Here's what was great:
Lesley and I made caramel corn. An adaptation of the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking, but without the corn syrup (bleh, that stuff ain't good - this article doesn't say much, but it's clear that that sugary liquid isn't health-supporting in anyway), and with more nuts. And people went nuts for it. Including me, right from the time it came out of the oven, say maybe 8:30pm, until almost 3am.

Dominika set up a killer music playlist using Groove Shark, which I know nothing about myself, but she highly recommends it.

I made some delicious mulled apple cider, which people had the option to spike with rum or not. I only spiked one of my many mugfuls with hooch as I'm on call for a birth right now. (It is weird watching people around you get slightly plastered when you're totally unintoxicated.)

Here's what I know about myself and night-time parties though: I have been middle-aged ever since I stopped being a teenager. If I go to bed past midnight I am most likely a bit of a basket case the next day.

I did my best to get to a yoga class this morning, but the gods seemed to be working against me. I got up, agonized over whether to go to the class on so little sleep, finally decided to and got my stuff together in 10 minutes, only to find that I didn't have the keys to drive the car to the class that is 20-30 minutes away, plus a stop I'd need to make to pick up my yoga shorts and mat at my mum's place. Ryan had borrowed my car yesterday and forgot to return the keys to me (my only one - he's lost the other 3). He kindly biked up to my place with the keys as quick as he could but I just didn't have the time needed to wait for him to spare. So getting to the class didn't happen.
I drove to the beach instead, and stood on the sand looking at the grey and cold-looking water, the waves powerfully rolling up onto shore, and then remembered my day of school work ahead of me. I reflected, as I watched the sun shining through the clouds, on how much I've been complaining about everything that's on my plate right now, and how much that goes against my belief that we should be constantly seeking out joy and letting go of the things that pull us away from joy.
And then I had what might generally be understood as an "ah-ha moment". I realized that it's not that I'm unwilling to work hard, it's that I'm unwilling to sacrifice my feelings of mental stability, and my interest in being with and helping others. I'm not sure how this search for balance will work out, but I think it's a new and better start.

Maybe you can relate this feeling of resistance shifting to willingness in your life? I'm interested to hear about it.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Mange tout

First off, thanks for all your encouraging comments after Wednesday's post. I will indeed write more regularly, and with more enthusiasm now that I know you're into it. So now, on to food:

In French, snow peas are called pois mange-tout, which roughly means "peas eat all". I think it's cute, and fitting for this dish which is tasty enough that you'll likely want seconds.

Sesame Baked Tofu with Cashews and Snow Peas

This dish is great served on a bed of fresh or steamed bok choy and brown rice. If you like, broccoli florets (which are more seasonal right now anyway) can replace the snow peas, and almonds can stand in for cashews.

1 1-lb. cake non-GM firm tofu, cut into 1-inch square cubes
2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp. olive, grapeseed or raw (not toasted) sesame oil
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups trimmed snow peas, blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds and drained

The Dressing:
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. flaxseed oil or olive oil
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp. brown rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener like agave nectar or maple syrup)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp. dulse powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. tamari soy sauce

2-3 thinly sliced scallions (as garnish)
2 tbsp. unhulled sesame seeds (as garnish)

Preheat oven to 350oF.
Place the tofu in a baking pan large enough to have just a single layer.
Pour in the oil and tamari, and toss to coat tofu evenly.
Slide pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until the edges of the tofu cubes are slightly browned and crispy.
Toast the cashews in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they become golden and fragrant. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Turn the tofu with a silicone spatula (to prevent breaking the cubes) so that all the surfaces can get browned and crispy. Do this twice more before baking is completed. Set tofu aside and let cool.
Combine all the dressing ingredients and toss gently with the tofu, snow peas and cashews.
Garnish with the sliced scallions and sesame seeds, and serve at once. The snow peas will retain the brightest green colour if the dish is served soon after the dressing goes on.

Makes about 4 servings.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My internet life before facebook

If you went back in the Domestic Affair archives to, say, 2005 or 2006, you'd find that I used to write quite a bit about the daily going-ons in my life.

I so don't do that anymore.

I manage to get up a recipe on a Foodie Friday here or there. I might post a Tuesday Review from time to time, but it's not the hugest surprise if I forget about the blog altogether for a month or more. I'm a girl who's excited by the idea of consistency, but I'm just about the opposite of a German train.

It's recently occurred to me that the time I used to spend on the internet blogging has all been directed to witty (or attempting to be witty) facebook and twitter status updates. But I think it was the regular blogging that made me a better writer.
This week, despite all the school work and book work on my plate (that I've gotten pretty good at whining about regularly), I've been drawn back to the blog. Who knows why exactly, or how long it'll last, but I'll go with it for now. (It's funny to think that 4 years ago there were times when it was hard to limit myself to one blog post a day.)

Anyhow, you know who else is exciting me with their blogging of late?:
* Alicia Silverstone (yes, the one and only blond vegan bombshell)
* Melissa (who has been torturing my jealous streak with tales of her travels in Italy)
* the always lovely and prolific Lisa
* Marika (my food stylist soon-to-be)
* local foods chef Deborah Madison

Now, here's what's going on, off the top of my head:
* I've got 50 days until my last school assignment for the semester is due, and next semester (thank heavens! as my mum would say) I have only 2 classes instead of 4.

* I am knowing that I've got to embrace a life of studies (and remember that the life of a midwife will eventually follow) for now if I'm gonna bust out of this feeling like I'm being forced to care about Vancouver Style referencing, and randomized control trials and the integumentary system (which, for you non-anatomy types, is skin and other layers of yer bod).

* I'm dancing with the idea of offering cooking classes out of my home in the new year.

* I'm more excited at the moment about coming up with ideas for book #3 than I am interested in okaying the edits for book #2 (I must apologize to Susan, my editor).

* I am constantly fantasizing about running away to Vermont to drive through the beautiful fall colours there.

So, what do you think - should I go back to writing more often?
If I did would you read it?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Green Guide for Baby Care

With the tiniest bit of breathing room in my life, I'm bringing back The Tuesday Review! Please welcome a new reviewer to Domestic Affair: Laurie, who is a colleague who lives in my neighbourhood and specializes in pediatric nutrition. She's also a mom.

The Book: Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care by Alan Greene, MD (Jossey-Bass, 2007)
Review by Laurie K. Meher

Preamble/Overall Feeling: This is an easy-to-read book that covers environmental issues and their impact on children's health. Dr. Greene covers every ‘room’ in your child’s life; the womb, the labour and delivery room, the nursery, the kitchen, etc. You can pick this book up at anytime and read just a chapter. It is very positive and encouraging for eco-holistic parents. He discusses everything from home-birthing to organic pet care!

Best Bits: This book is surprisingly in-depth for the amount of topics he discusses. Throughout the book there are "Green Parent Alerts & Reports" that quickly answers questions pertaining to the what is discussed in the chapter - for example "VOC Paint Facts" or "Are Wild-Caught Fish always healthier? (answer: sometimes)". He also has "Going Green" and "Buying Green" boxes that give you extra ideas on how to have a Green baby shower or buying baby-safe bottles. The food advice is more in-depth in the pregnancy section than in the baby section, but the advice regarding organics, farmers' markets and water bottles is relevant for both expectant moms and babies. He is positive towards vegetarian and vegan parents, doesn’t recommend juice and encourages whole foods – which is good in my eyes!

Less-Wonderful Bits: While informative, this book can be a little overwhelming. Dr. Greene does say right up front that you can take what you want and ignore the information that you don’t want. However it’s difficult for a new parent to not feel a little anxious about the potential dangers of conventional crib mattresses. Parents need to read this book and remember to be sensible. It may be healthier to get an organic wool mattress; however getting a used one handed down is good for the environment as well. It would be an expensive endeavor to follow all of his advice.

Whole foods focus?: Sure. (It isn’t a cookbook, but he does encourage whole food cereals, etc.)
Vegan-Friendly?: Yes.
Eco-Conscious?: Definitely.
Web Presence?: Yes (it provides sensible advice for expectant & new parents).

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Sweet birthday treats

I had a birthday since I last blogged. Turned 29 with just a little bit of fanfare - because with manuscript-finishing and midwifery schooling and house renovations there wasn't too much time. Lisa, angel that she is, truly made me feel like a princess on the day-of with an entire raw tiramisu!

I dunno what was in it, but Lisa mentioned almonds, Irish moss and cold-pressed espresso... I also tasted coconut, cacao and dates. Oh my, it was decadent enough to make about 24 slices!(The recipe's from Sweet Gratitude, a book I am now desperate to possess. (Maybe for Christmas?)

The first slice of something always seems to come out a bit of a mess.

And, more on birthday fronts, this past Monday I had the pleasure of attending a birthday breakfast for one of my favourite little people who was turning five. I wasn't sure if I was at the top of the guest list because I probably spent more time with her than anyone else aside from her moms and sister in her first year on earth, or if it was because she knows I bake. Just in case it was the latter, I sure didn't want to disappoint.

Lora's Chocolate Birthday Breakfast Muffins

When a 5 year-old invites you to her pyjama birthday breakfast, how can you not arrive with a treat that features her favourite flavour?

2 cups whole spelt flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup chocolate chips
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup buttahmilk (1 tbsp cider vinegar + non-dairy milk)
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375oF. Prepare 12 muffin cups with liners or a light coating of oil and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips and banana. Pour in the buttahmilk, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Mix together just until all the flour has been absorbed. Portion evenly into the prepared muffin cups (they'll fill pretty much to the top). Slide them into the oven and bake for 24 minutes, until the tops are domed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Stores in an airtight container for 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes 12 muffins.

She put spray whipped cream on it - who was I to protest?

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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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