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Grapefruit 2

Photo by Isox4 on flickr

It seems like everyone in my office is sick this week.  While many of my co-workers seem to be suffering from flu-like symptoms I have a nasty cold.  I hate being sick.  Yes, it gives me an opportunity to re-watch Veronica Mars and sleep an extraordinary amount, but it also comes with a constant dripping nose, aches, and tiredness that are not pleasant.  So, when I am sick I make this juice, which has become my go-to natural remedy that I pair with lots of dark leafy greens.  I love this recipe because it makes me feel better every time but I have to warn you that it is not a recipe that you make friends with – it contains one clove of raw pressed garlic.  For some reason, Mike is never sick when I am sick and he groans whenever I make this juice.  I guess when your nose is not plugged up the smell of raw garlic is pretty strong.

This recipe is adapted from Rebar’s liver quiver juice recipe.  And as a super plus, it is easy to make when you have no energy.

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 lemon
  • 1-3 oranges (or orange juice) *to taste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

Juice the grapefruit, lemon and oranges.  Strain out the pulp (or leave it in) and combine the juices in a glass.  Crush one clove of garlic in a garlic press and then combine with the juice.  Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

It is best to drink this fast in big gulps then get back to the couch.  That first season of Veronica Mars is not going to re-watch itself.

Sunday musings

Today I’m going to bake this delicious looking Peanut butter banana bread from Joy the baker.

Then I am going to make one of my favourite soups with a twist – Green soup with ginger!  This is a recipe from Love Soup.  A go-to cookbook in January especially after the week we have experienced here in Ottawa. Today, it is -10 and it feels warm!   Anna Thomas explains her process for making the soup here.

Also, if you are looking for something to do tomorrow night this looks interesting. The Ottawa Public Library (Main branch) is hosting the authors of All the Dirt: Reflections on Organic Farming. They are talking about the book and their experiences farming organically in BC.  Check out their company website and if you have time check them out at OPL.

Here is my vegan version of my shepherd’s pie.

A couple of notes if you decide to try this recipe. The recipe calls for black beluga lentils because that’s what I had on hand to make this but you could easily substitute du puy lentils (french green).  The mushroom gravy is not necessary – I often make this dish without but sometimes you just want some extra fat to up the comfort factor.  You need a large rectangle glass baking dish to make this in.

Veggie Shepherd’s pie (Vegan version)

1/2 c wild rice

1 1/2 c black beluga lentils

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaves

1 carrot

3 lbs. potatoes (about 6-7 large potatoes)

1 lbs. mushrooms (button, cremini)

1/4 c dried porcini mushrooms (about 6 or 7 dried)

1 tbsp. of olive oil

fresh or dried thyme to taste

1/2 c frozen peas

½ c soy milk* optional — you can also use the cooking water

1 tbsp. vegan margarine (I use Earth balance brand)

1/2 package of mushroom gravy (vegan)

Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

  1. Make your wild rice.  Rinse the rice and then stir it into a cup and a half of boiling water.  Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let soak in the same water, covered for 1 hour.  Drain.  Stir rice into 1 1/2 c of fresh boiling water.  Let simmer for 25-35 minutes.  Drain.  While making the rice – prepare the other parts of the shepherd’s pie.
  2. Check your lentils for stones and rinse the dust off them.
  3. Put them in pot with 3.5 cups of cold fresh water.  Cover and bring the water to a boil.
  4. While waiting for the water to boil prepare your aromatics.  Quarter the onion.  Finely chop the carrots and peel the garlic cloves.  Once the water has boiled, add these to the lentils, plus the bay leaves and turn the heat to simmer.  Cook for around 25 minutes.  You want your lentils to be firm and not mushy.
  5. As the lentils cook prepare the potatoes.  Basically if you already know how to mash potatoes this step will be very easy for you. Peel the potatoes.  (Note:  if you have organic potatoes no need to peel them – I love the rustic look of the potato skins in a mash.)  Chop the potatoes into small pieces roughly the same size.   In a large pot add enough cold water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil (turn down to a simmer once they have reached a boiling point).
  6. As this point your lentils should be finished.  Drain, and if you want you can reserve the liquid to use for stock at some future date.  Remove the onion, garlic and bay leaves.  Don’t worry if you can’t remove all the onion – some small pieces in the lentils won’t hurt.  Season with some freshly ground pepper.
  7. If your potatoes are ready drain the boiling water and leave them in their cooking pot until you are ready to mash them.
  8. Prepare your mushrooms.  Soak your dried mushrooms in warm water as directed.  Slice the button mushrooms and leave some pieces in quarters.  Once the dried mushrooms are soaked – slice into bite sized pieces.  Warm the oil in a frying pan and add all the mushrooms – you want to cook them just until they lose some of their juices.
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. Now prep your base.   Add the lentils, mushrooms, frozen peas and wild rice.  Mix together.
  11. Drain the water from your potatoes if you have not already done so.  Mash them with the soy milk and margarine.
  12. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the base mixture.
  13. Cook for 20 minutes in your pre-heated oven. While it is cooking prepare your mushroom gravy if using.
  14. Remove from oven and spread mushroom gravy over the top.

Serve with: rapini with garlic and chili peppers.

January looks like a great month to be a foodie in Ottawa — look at all these great events coming up:

Ottawa magazine has put together a mini food-festival called “WinterBites!”  A number of Ottawa area restaurants are offering set dinner menus for $40 or try a luch menu for $20!  Check out menus here.  Runs until the 28th of January.

Winterlude does not officially start until February but there are some food and drink related events near the end of this month.

Mill Street Pub should be opening at the end of this month.  According to their Facebook page – they just finished brewing their first batch of beer here in Ottawa!

Festibière d’hiver/Winter beerfest — Mike and I rarely cross the river into Quebec but for a festival like this I think we should make an exception.  I heard great things about the summer festival.  More information on Facebook.

Also — January is a good time to buy your tickets to the Celebrity chef cook-off in March.

Raspberry cream cheese muffins

This past weekend, we held our second potluck for our book club.  For these potlucks a group of us get together and cook various recipes out of a pre-selected cookbook.  This time we selected, Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.

Stuffed mushrooms prepared by Carli

This book seemed to be everywhere this past year. Costco was selling it, random co-workers recommended it to me and tonnes of blogs reviewed it.  As we discussed at the potluck, these authors published this book at the right time and place – it seems they tapped into something that was brewing under the surface for a while now.  The book was so popular at the library I was afraid that we wouldn’t all have a chance to look at the cookbook before the potluck (luckily the library ordered an extra 30 copies or so).  At the potluck we tried to decide why this would be so popular – because many recipes are gluten-free?  Because eating whole grains has suddenly becoming trendy?  Or maybe it’s the idea that cooking healthy is as simple as including one more ingredient in your regular food?  We  settled on this last idea – many of the recipes ask you to add a couple of tablespoons of quinoa instead of building a whole meal around it.  Which actually worked for our potluck.  Beforehand I worried we would be eating quinoa in every dish and maybe that would get a bit boring.  But actually, this potluck was more a meal than an all-you can eat buffet – there were appetizers, a soup, entrees and then desserts.  And, all of the dishes were delicious.  So if you are looking to add more quinoa to your diet, pick up this book.

Quinoa tabbouleh by Sarah

Vegan "Cheeseball" cooked by Brigitte

What I liked about this cookbook:

  • This is the type of book that I could give to my mom with confidence that she would use it. Besides the occasional recipe that asks for quinoa flour, most of the recipes call for readily available ingredients and the recipes are easy to cook for people who are used to “meat and potato” meals.
  • The recipes worked. They did not require a lot tweaking to get the tastes right – the testers did a great job with this cookbook!

What I disliked:

  • As a vegetarian I already tend to eat a lot of quinoa so I was hoping for inventive ways to incorporate more of this food into my diet.  There are some great recipes in this book but nothing earth shattering in terms of innovation.
  • A lot of the dishes called for low-fat products (sour cream, cheese, etc.) — great if you are trying to be healthy but most of time I would rather eat full fat to get a better flavour.

Stuffed shells prepared by Julie

Tasty tuna casserole prepared by Angela

Recommended to borrow from your library or to purchase if you are looking to incorporate more quinoa into your diet.

Title: Quinoa 365 : the everyday superfood

Authors: Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming

Publisher: Whitecap, c2010.

ISBN: 9781552859940

Carmel Apple Cheesecake prepared by Chris

Mike and I celebrated the holidays in BC this year. Spending time with Mike’s family is always a lot of fun – we eat lots of chocolate, Mike’s mom makes us eggnog and we open our presents Christmas eve!  Mike’s hometown, Creston, is in the interior of the province and is a bit isolated.  So, while resting and relaxing we took full advantage of the local craft brewing scene.  We tried a few breweries and a couple of wineries

  1. Nelson brewing company – we tried the After dark and the Blackheart Oatmeal stout.  Usually I am not a fan of dark beers but these were pretty sweet.  Plus they were made with organic ingredients!
  2. Fernie brewing company – we tried their Sap Sucker – maple porter and their What the huck – huckleberry wheat.  The huckleberry wheat was too sweet for my taste but the maple porter hit all the right notes.
  3. Dead frog brewery – from Vancouver but we couldn’t resist the name Christmas Beeracle – it was pretty tasty.

We also tried some wine from two local wineries:  Skimmerhorn winery and Ballie-Grohman winery –both were amazing.