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Archive for November, 2011

This week was very stressful for me and I had a long day yesterday.  So, when I got home and Mike handed me a package from Canada Post it not only put me in a good mood but it also brightened my week!  Thanks to Eri @ It all tastes Greek to me I received a dozen delicious cookies.  As soon as I opened the box, my kitchen smelled amazing – I can’t tell you too much about the cookies because all the Cookie Exchangers will be blogging their recipes on December 12 (so check back then and I’ll link to Eri’s recipe).  But, I just wanted to send out a big thank you for kicking off the holiday season with a great start!

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Links I like (November)

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Menu (week of 20/11/11)

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Food at the movies

When the Globe and Mail recommends a movie by saying “Foodies will love this” you know that it will go on my to watch list.  Luckily for Ottawa, the Mayfair is showing this documentary this weekend:

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Brew beering (aka brewing beer)

My friend, Dave, has been home brewing his own beer for many years now.  Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend one of his home-brew sessions, where we made a Cascadian Dark Ale.  In truth, I mostly watched, took photos and drank his tasty home-brew.  I only know slightly more about brewing beer:

  • You start by grinding the grains (various types of barley) like coffee
  • You make a porridge/oatmeal out of the grains
  • Let that heat up for a while
  • You filter the grains out of the “stock”
  • Heat the “stock” up again (have a sing-along at this point to pass some time)
  • Add your hops
  • Cool rapidly
  • Pour into sterilized containers
  • Add yeast
  • Let sit for a long time

Please do not follow these instructions – there are plenty of more informative sources out there if you want to brew your own beer! 

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A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to host my first book club, well specifically, my first cookbook book club!

Intrigued?

Palmiers with olives cooked by me.

Well, the idea is that a group of people who love cooking will get together and choose a cookbook for the ¨book club.¨ Then everyone chooses a recipe for a potluck where the group discusses the cookbook, the recipes, their likes and dislikes about the cookbook and general food related topics. I actually first read about this type of club on the Tea and Cookies blog and luckily, they have a great post on how to start one). So, I put the idea out there on facebook a few months ago and was overwhelmed at the interest!  We organized our first meeting and picked our first cookbook.

For our first selection we wanted to pick something that could be easily obtained at the Public Library so the group chose Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.   Moosewood cookbooks are pretty famous in the vegetarian community and most of us had a least one of their cookbooks but no one owned this one.  This would give us all a chance to try something new.

Pad Thai cooked by Carli

The day of the potluck I spent my time making the palmiers pictured here, cooking a Portuguese white bean soup, and figuring out how to fit all the food and people arriving into my apartment.  It was a wonderful afternoon – people brought some amazing dishes and we all agreed one of the highlights of a club like this is trying recipes that you wouldn’t normally make.  For me this was the risotto – I always have good intentions when it comes to risotto recipes but never seem to make them in my daily cooking.  We all had lots to say about the cookbook but we also talked about up-coming food related events in Ottawa, good tv, and craft shows.

How did the cookbook fare in our conversation?  Well, like Rebar, this cookbook was released many years ago in 1994 but unfortunately, unlike Rebar, it has not held up over time in my opinion.  For a cookbook that is based on a restaurant’s menu (especially one so well known in the vegetarian community), I felt this cookbook just did not live up to my expectations.  Below I break down some of our likes and dislikes:

What I liked about this cookbook:

  • Great quick meals for after work — most of the recipes I tried out were quick to make and did not require a lot of ingredients which is exactly what you want on a night that you are rushing around.
  • Most of recipes called for simple ingredients – no rushing out to a specialty store to track down tempeh bacon or a particular dried lentil.  So, not only are the recipes quick to prepare they are quick to shop for.
  • The cookbook would be easy to use for someone new to cooking in a vegetarian manner.

    Eggplant Mykonos by Carolyn

  •  It has great menu suggestions.  Nothing bugs me more than a vegetarian cookbook filled with side dishes (what are they supposed to go beside?) — This cookbook has a lot of side dishes but it actually tells you how to build a healthy meal out of them.

What I disliked:

  • The dishes tended to be bland, this could be because of the simple ingredient list and the easy prep but the soup I made for the potluck could have benefited from another clove of garlic or two.
  • The dishes reminded me of those vegetarian-cafeteria style restaurants and while this made for great potluck food I would not want to cook out of this cookbook if company was coming over.
  • The recipes made smaller portions of food — I’m used to cooking a big pot of soup and having leftovers in my freezer for a week – if you want that with this cookbook you will need to double or even triple the recipes.
Cake

Chocolate Cake by Angela

Recommended to borrow from your library or to purchase for new vegetarian cooks.

Title: Moosewood Restaurant cooks at home : fast and easy recipes for any day

Authors: The Moosewood Collective

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

ISBN: 0671879545; 0671679929 (pbk.)

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Menu (week of 13/11/11)

So, I am a little late posting this menu since Mike and I have already made most of these dishes.  And, thankfully, every recipe has been a success so far.  The menu this week included 3 Anna Thomas recipes.  I discovered Anna’s cookbooks through the library a few years back and have found most of her other books in used bookstores (except for the Vegetarian Epicure Book 2).  Anna wrote her first cookbook while she was in grad school in 1972.  And, although almost 40 years has gone by this cookbook still holds up!  Not only is Anna a talented cookbook author but she is also a screenwriter, film director and a professor at the American Film Institute.   If you do not own any of her cookbooks you should – I return to them over and over:

  • Quinoa stew with potatoes, spinach and chard (tonight’s dinner and it was super healthy — it was like a rainbow in the soup bowl)
  • Corn and cheddar cheese chowder  (not healthy but perfect for a cold winter night)
  • Curry with eggplant and potatoes (served with basmati rice and naan bread)
  • ¨Chicken¨ wellington with mushroom sauce

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