Archive for asian

Catchin’ up

Wow, it’s really been over a month since my last post. I kinda decided to stop blogging for awhile there, but subconciously kept photographing my food. I guess deep down I must have known that I’d come crawling back! Blogging is like crack to me, and I’ve been jonesing for another fix. Thanks Aly for keeping Mad About Udon updated!

Oh, and I do have a little annoucement! Aly and I both signed up for our first 5K race! And then, I promptly dropped out… and signed up for the 10K! I started training and realized that 5K wouldn’t be a terribly difficult goal to achieve, and since I have so much time till the race (it’s in late May), I decided to go to town. So team Mad About Udon has been training a lot lately (together and independently) and hopefully we’ll kick the race’s ass come May 23. What’s the ideal time to finish at 5K? A 10K? I heard that 25 mins is a respectable time for a 5K so is it thus 50 mins for a 10K?

Hm, well first of all I’ve been eating a ton of oatmeal—thanks to Kath and Shelby, whose near-daily oatmeal concoctions inspired me to try some of my own. I’ve been including any combination of rolled oats, oat bran, soy milk, rice or hemp protein powder, peanut butter, bananas, berries, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, raisins, carob chips, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc. It’s usually the following recipe:

  • 1/6 cup oats
  • 1/6 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp protein powder
  • dash salt, and a tsp each of fair-trade vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin

The pumpkin really steals this recipe, and at 35 cal / half cup (and 200% of Vit A intake), it’s my favourite addition!

This one has all of the above plus a half cup of frozen berries (which melted in the pot).

I used this Rice Protein powder from Whole Foods:

I don't really love the rice protein powder, it's kinda chalky. I'm partial to my Manitoba Harvest Hemp Powder

My friend Barb and I went to Whole Foods in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood and I was in heaven! I didn’t even realize we had a WF in Canada, so I was pretty psyched to go. I only got a few things, as it’s pretty pricey there, but it`s good to know I can find obscure vegan products nearby if I need to.

Also featuring pumpkin is my amazing Pumpkin Cream Cheese. Someone else probably invented this already since there is only two ingredients: Pumpkin and Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese (1:1 by volume).

Good on toast, sandwiches, and anywhere else you would put cream cheese.

I also frequently make Fitnessista’s Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie which I’m kicking myself for not making earlier. It’s so validating, in a strange way, to wolf down a giant cookie for breakfast.

This one has mixed-in a delicious Spiced Plum jam that my friend Barb gave me, along with raisins and PB.

When I left off last time, I was experimenting with juicing using my friend Taras’ juicer. While I concede that juicing provides supremely healthy, tasty, and wholesome juices, I have reservations with wasting all the pulp. Plus, it’s fun to eat fruit, more fun than it is to drink it. Anyway, the last day I had it, I juiced a ton of carrots, zucchini, and apples, and saved the fibrous pulp to bake into a bread:

Fibrous pulp: carrots, zucchini, and apples

I used my banana bread recipe and subbed the pulp for the bananas:

The pulp and the bread didn't really taste like anything! So I guess this proves that all the flavour does indeed come out during juicing.

My witty, candid friend Nick (check out his blog to see just how witty and candid) and I had a very frank and productive lunch a few weeks ago at The Manx. This bar has few menu items, although one is identified as vegan and I ordered that. I don’t post every vegan meal I eat out, but this was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

It was a HUGE burrito with veggies, jalepeno peppers, and TVP (I think) inside with guac on top and a side salad. Tasty, tasty :-)

I got really enthused at the idea of roasting veggies, so I threw a TON of veggies into a pan, sprayed with PAM, and sprinkled with tons of herbs and spices. Then I baked that for about an hour, turning the contents two or three times throughout.

Roasted veggies: carrots, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, peppers, garlic, etc.

I enjoyed these best reheated and topped over a generous bed of spinach/cilantro/dill

Oh, and on the subject of “why-didn’t-I-make-this-incredibly-easy-dish-sooner” meals, voila:

Sweet Potato Fries

I sprayed these with PAM and sprinkled with sea salt, and baked at 350 for an hour, turning twice.

Samosa-stuffed baked potatoes, from Veganomicon:

These were just sort of okay, not amazing and not really worth the effort.

Kath’s amazing Nutty Vanilla  Sweet Potato + Kale Soup:

ROLL CALL: WHO'S MADE THIS ALREADY??

Recipe (from Kath):

  • 2 pounds of sweet potato, cut into 1” pieces and microwaved in a bowl on high for 6.5 minutes to start the cooking process
  • 3 cloves garlic,  pressed
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups kale, trimmed, washed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts, for garnish
  • Shredded coconut, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Prepare sweet potatoes in microwave.
  2. Heat a large pot on medium high. Spray with cooking spray and add potatoes, cooking until they begin to brown. Stir in garlic.
  3. Add coconut milk, soy milk, masala, salt, pepper and flakes.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Mash potatoes with potato masher or puree with immersion blender.
  6. Add raisins, kale and vanilla and cover. Allow to cook for 8-10 more minutes, until kale is bright green.
  7. Portion into bowls and garnish with 1 tbsp each peanuts and coconut.

Mmmm… I love the website MediterrAsian.com —I get sooo many recipe ideas from there! Omnivore Boyfriend doesn’t like weird vegan “voodoo” stuff, like tofu, tempeh, TVP, etc, so I’m always on the lookout for recipes that are simple and tasty and not soy-centric. Then I split the dish in half and add soy protein to my half. Here are two favourites:

Lentil, pea, and potato curry:

That's a double batch in a mixing bowl, I forgot to snap a pic when I had it portioned out

Dhal with Carrot & Cauliflower:

Dhal with Carrot & Cauliflower

Served with a mixture of jasmine and orzo rices

I made a double batch of Vegan Dad’s Veggie Lunch Meat. This is one recipe that significantly changed by dietary and shopping regimen. Try it!

I should have enough to last me till the summer!

Um, due to a serious of strange and unfortunate events which I won’t go into right now, I procured this piece of chocolate tofu-cheese cake from Green Earth, a new veggie restaurant in Ottawa.

It was mighty tasty!

O.B. and I have been travelling all over Southern Ontario for interviews, birthdays, and such, and our travels have landed us in Toronto more than once. I looooove everything from Toronto’s Chinatown, from the dim sum to the cheap produce. Last weekend I picked up 11 bananas, 5 oranges, 6 large apples, a huge bag of grapes, 3 trays of blackberries, 3 melons, and a dragonfruit—all for $16!

Dragonfruit

Dragonfruit

Also purchased in Chinatown were as many red-bean pastries as I could fit in the car :-):

Red-bean pastries

Red-bean pastries

Red-bean pastries

*drool* I love anything with red bean paste in it.

Those Korean red bean balls especially made me happier than a hot koala in a bucket of water AND...

... a seagull eating a starfish!!

I also picked up some cheap tofu (2 pkg/$1) and those weird Shirataki noodles which aren't really noodles (they are actually made with tofu and yam flour and are only 20 cal/serving).

So I’ll have to find something fun to do with those ingredients.

Oh! I also picked up bok choy so I’m envisioning a bok choy/shirataki/tofu/hoisin stir fry coming up.

I'm not sure if you would call this a wrap or a burrito, but I made this puppy on my George Foreman grill!

I packed this full of jasmine rice, refried beans, black olives, and guacamole made with PC Guacamole Mix, and grilled it with a little bit of PAM.

I was struck with the sudden inspiration to make vegan Shepherd`s Pie, which is weird since I`ve never had the real thing. Anyway, here`s what I came up with:

Sorry for the fluorescent photo, I needed to use my flash.

For this dish I mixed Yves Veggie Ground Round and a can of mushroom (i.e. vegetarian) gravy for the bottom layer. Next was a layer of peas and carrots, and finally the top layer was mashed sweet potatoes with some cornmeal mixed it. The cornmeal was gritty and kind of pointless but other than that this was so amazingly savoury. I’m definitely going to make this again, and when I do I’ll leave out the cornmeal and possible mixed some mashed cauliflower into the mix.

Yum!

I sent some of my famous Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Carob Chip cookies with O.B. to work one day for a meeting, and they were a hit, as usual. Even the finicky lab supervisor had a few:

Everywhere I bring these, people just silently wolf down as many as possible until the tray is empty.

The story behind these is that I just grabbed a random “oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie” recipe off the ‘net and subbed in a few bananas for the eggs. Et voila—a moist, chewy, decadent chocolate chip cookie with a rich banana flavour and an oatmealy texture.

Recipe:

  • 1 c Earth Balance margarine
  • 1.5 c brown sugar
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1.75 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2.5 c rolled oats
  • 2.5 c vegan choc chips (or carob chips)

Directions:

Beat margarine and sugars. Add bananas and mix. Add vanilla and water, and mix. Add the rest, and mix. Cook for 9-10 mins at 350 C

Procrastinating through exams/theses?  Check out my cousin Lindsay’s scintillating travel blog as she  weaves her way through Europe. Will she ever return? Stay tuned. Also, check out The Bystander, a new Ottawa-centric arts and culture blog written by my friends Tina and Peter.

**CONTEST ALERT!!**
Zesty Clothing is celebrating the launch of its new clothing line by giving away two t-shirts and two aprons, so head on over to the contest website to enter!
-Megan over at Megan’s Munchies is doing a cookbook giveaway–check it out!!
-Sarah over at Tales of Expansion is giving away a very nutty prize pack over at her blog—check it out here!!

Whoo. Dunzo. Happy Wednesday!

-Maureen

Comments (27) »

Extended absences = more food

Sorry for the epic absence from Mad About Udon. I’ve been flitting around the province again, though I’ve got a lot of food porn to post. I’ve been fueled by VEGEMITE, thanks to a kind gift from my friend Jon’s mother. She brought me back half a kilo of this wonderful, tasty, nutritious product from Australia. Thanks, Jon’s mom! Now I can resume finding the answer to my sorrows at the bottom of a jar of this black, gooey marvel. *drool*

Onto the food! First up, junk food!

Cinnamon-heart vanilla cupcakes. I just took the Golden Vanilla Cupcake recipe from VCTOTW and added smashed-up cinnamon hearts. This was a practice recipe for Valentine's Day, and they really kicked ass.

Carrot Cake cupcakes with Maple Icing from the Happy Herbivore.

Carrot Cake cupcakes with Maple Icing

O.B.‘s mother sent over this recipe for Date Cookies, which I easily veganized. Unfortch, I don’t have the recipe handy, but I’ll add it in the next post. I brought a batch of these to the campus newspaper I used to work at, and everyone loved them! I used Iranian dates.

Date Cookies

I’m constantly modifying my favourite banana bread to make it lower-cal, since it’s a constant staple in my house.

Banana Bread

Here’s the newest version of Maureen’s Low Cal Banana Bread:

Ingredients:

1 cup soy milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.25 cup whole wheat
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each of baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Earth Balance (margarine), softened
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Sucralose
2 tsp vanilla
5 mashed ripe bananas

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 C. Grease a 9X5 inch pan. Whisk soy milk + lemon juice, and set aside. In a bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat butter, applesauce, and sugars with an electric mixer until light. Beat in vanilla and bananas. Stir in flour mixture alternatively with soy milk mixture. Mix and pour into pan. Bake for 40-60 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Apple crumble... soooooo good!

Apple crumble recipe from here.

Okay, okay, now onto the non-junk food.

I got this jar of pumpkin curry sauce from William-Sonoma. It was on sale from $16 down to $6! It was so delicious, too.

We simmered the pumpkin cury with mixed veggies and TVP slices, and served it over brown rice. It was excellent! (But I definitely wouldn't pay $16 for another jar).

Mango curry dressing

Another batch of mango curry dressing.


Ingredients:

1 medium (or 2 small) mangoes, pitted
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil from a dark bottle (I used half oil half water)

Directions:

Blend until smooth.

Oriental Green Beans

Oriental Green Beans

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oriental sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced (I use 1 teaspoon chopped garlic from jar

Directions:

1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook green beans until just tender, 4-5 minutes.
2. While beans are cooking, in a small bowel combine soy sauce, oil and sugar; stir and set aside.
3. Drain beans, set aside.
4.
Spray wok or skilled with nonstick cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until softened, 20-30 seconds. Add green beans; cook, stirring and turning constantly, until well coated, about 2 minutes.
5.
Add soy sauce mixture; continue to stir and turn until most of the liquid is absorbed, 1-2 minutes.

The Happy Herbivore’s awesome Chana Palak Masala:

Rural Vegan’s Happy-Chicken Noodle Soup:

This was super yummy, perfect for winter and for sick days!

Quinoa tabbouleh

Quinoa tabbouleh!!  I love this recipe so much. This makes a great potluck dish. I brought this tabbouleh, along with a bag of whole-wheat mini pitas, to a ski hut in Gatineau Park for a potluck dinner after cross-country skiing, and everyone liked it! Recipe from here.

Super-quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta from VeganYumYum:

One word: amazing.

A batch of pancakes from Gwenyth Paltrow’s recipe off her website, GOOP:

Pancakes

Peanut “chicken” noodles, off of Mediterrasian.com:

(chicken = pan-seared tofu cubes)

This recipe didn’t come out so great because I stupidly subbed natural peanut butter with regular peanut butter. The PB overpowered the WHOLE recipe, and it wasn’t peanutty, it’s was peanut buttery… big difference! Because of the salt and sugar in PB, it kinda compromised the recipe. I’d make this again but using natural PB and less of it.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Happy Friday!

-Maureen

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My belated Christmas-dinner post… and some other fun stuff

Thanks to everyone who suggested recipes in response to my plea for ideas. We hosted dinner for the extended family on Christmas day, and I was pretty pumped to try out some new experiments on a group of unsuspecting victims. Er, guests. I ended up making three vegan dishes (two of which were gluten-free).

Of all the recipes submitted, I picked Ricki’s Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites. I liked how they are both gluten-free and vegan, and as well were low in sodium. Plus I knew I could serve them with my West-Indian Mango Chutney in a communal fashion, which is important for group dinners, I think. Just like Ricki, I omitted the caraway seeds and used fresh cilantro. I used toasted, smashed rice bread for the bread crumbs, and used a cookie cutter to get disc-shaped servings:

Ricki's Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites

I really liked these little bites and I think they went fantastically with my Jamaican souvenir (the jar of mango chutney).

I sort of guessed at the baking time, but 350 deg C for 15-20 mins seemed to do the trick. It might have been a bit too new-agey for a traditional family dinner, but everyone seemed like it… or at least they seemed to appreciate the effort I put in!

Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites

1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 a baked sweet potato, flesh scooped out
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (that is, take 1/2 a cup dry quinoa, and cook it)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in non-stick skillet.
2. Add beans to pan and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring now and then.
3. Turn off heat. Mash beans in pan till they’re about half crushed. Put in big bowl with all the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. If too moist, add more bread crumbs.
4. Form into patties. Grill or bake.

We also made glazed carrots, corn, and braised brussel sprouts (all of which are also gluten-free):

glazed carrots

corn

braised brussel sprouts

Braised Brussels Sprouts:

4 cups brussels sprouts
1/2 cup diced shallots
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 tsp Braggs soy sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Steam brussels sprouts for 10 minutes in boiling water. Set aside. Spray a little olive oil in a large non-stick and heat on medium heat. Saute the shallots and garic for 2 minutes. Add the steamed brussels sprouts and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes, covered, on high heat. Add balsamic vinegar, black pepper, nutmeg, soy sauce. Cook or 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. Add the parsley and broth. Cook for 5 minutes more, uncovered. (per serving, 112 calories, 22 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 8.6 g fibre).

I also made The Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping, but I forgot to take a picture! Which is too bad, because this recipe was all kinds of bitchin’, and it’s gluten-free to boot. It was really sweet and desserty but also a bit tangy because of the citrus juice.

You can see it in the picture below, above the corn but below the quinoa bites. In the top right corner is my aunt's delicious beet salad.

I also made, for dessert, a double batch of my favourite lemon-cranberry bread:

lemon-cranberry bread

Which accompanied another dessert item, fruit salad:

fruit salad & lemon-cranberry bread

So Christmas dinner was a huge success and it was great seeing friends and family again.

A couple of times in Jamaica last week, I ate a dish of sauteed spinach with raisins. I successfully recreated this simple recipe yesterday by sauteeing about 8 cups of spinach in broth with a handful of sultana raisins and one chopped red pepper. WIN.

sauteed spinach with raisins

With a couple extraneous mangoes burning a hole in my fruit basket, I made Indian Mango Curry Dressing, a recipe from a Raw cookbook I bought my sister for Christmas:

Indian Mango Curry Dressing

Indian Mango Curry Dressing:

1 medium (or 2 small) mangoes, pitted
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil from a dark bottle (I used half oil half water)

Blend until smooth. This dressing is a major WIN because it’s delicious and creamy! It’s nice to have a vegan dressing that’s not a vinaigrette.

Next, I wanted to make a big veggie-tofu-noodle dish to last me a couple days. I used this product that I found in my fridge. My mother bought it at a huge chinese grocery in north Toronto

The label reads: Tofu Shirataki. Spaghetti Shaped Noodle Substitute. No cholesterol, no sugar. Gluten-free. Vegan. Guilt-free. 20 calories , 3 g carbs, and 2g fibre per serving. 2 servings per bag.

Has anyone else heard of this product? I’m super skeptical about it. When I read “20 calories per serving”, I became pretty wary, especially since it came from Chinatown. But then I read on the label that it’s shipped from House Foods in California. California = legit? I don’t know. Help?

I cooked the "noodles" up and they looked and tasted exactly like ramen noodles! (seen here tossed with jerk seasoning). So what's the deal with these things? Anyone?

I had also been marinating some tofu in a ziplock bag with jerk seasoning paste (from jamaica) mixed with ketchup, so I fried those up. I also sauted some carrots, peppers, zucchini, celery, black beans, cilantro, and green onion with another dose of jerk paste + ketchup.

I wasn't really sure how to pull of this whole "jerk" thing, so I just added it to everything.

Et voila! Lunch for the week. Can anyone tell me if I cooked with jerk properly? I have never tried the flavour before, since it’s always used with meat dishes, but I think it’s a very tantalizing mixture of spices and I definitely want to cook jerk again.
-Maureen

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Cool runnings, mon!

Well, I just returned from a deliciously decadent week in Montego Bay, Jamaica with Omnivore Boyfriend (O.B.). We had a ridiculously good and relaxing time! We stayed in an all-inclusive resort on the beach, so of course we had unrestricted food, drinks, and sports. It was paradise. We tried to get off the resort as often as possible to see the real country and meet some real Jamaicans. Our excursions included renting our own little boat to motor up and down the coastline, snorkelling on a coral reef, ziplining through a jungle canopy, and visiting the tropical splendour of nearby Negril.

It was soooo harding flying back into Toronto. From the airplane, it looked like someone had shaken a snowglobe and all the snow in existence had landed on this fair city. I can’t quite describe the physical shock of emerging from the airport into the minus 15 deg C weather (from +30 deg C in Jamaica). Blech! Is it summer yet??

I wasn’t sure if how the resort’s buffet-style menu would accomodate my meat/dairy/eggs aversion, but everything was “cool runnings” (all good)! There were tons of options for me at each meal and I had some really excellent dishes. I normally abstain from most fresh produce in the winter when it gets too expensive, so I took the opportunity to pile each plate high with salad and veggies. One small complaint I had is that the dishes weren’t often labelled. However, it was pretty easy to differentiate the vegan from non-vegan dishes, and the chefs were really helpful when I had any questions.

So without further ado, here is the food!

I ate this same concoction for breakast almost every morning. I took a couple tbsp of dry oats, added some hot water, added a layer of corn flakes, and covered it with carmelized fruits (melon, cantaloupe, banana) and fresh fruit.

Lunch and dinner were always some variation of salad. Which sound really boring, but as I mentioned before, there were tons and tons of options, including lots of new stuff I’d never eaten or envisioned.

From top left, going clockwise: steamed calaloo, apple & cucumber salad, grilled veggies. Centre: olives.

From top left: stewed lentils, garlic potatoes, grilled veggies (zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes), grilled tomatoes, sauteed spinach with raisins, steamed green beans, apple/cucumber salad, saffron rice, glazed carrots. Centre: olives.

On the left is a big salad topped with sliceed tomatoes, green beans, shredded carrots, chickpeas, celery, cauliflower, and corn. There's also a bit of steamed spinach with onions and peppers.

From top: sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, corn, romaine lettuce, green beans, steamed spinach. Centre: lima beans.

From left: steamed calaloo, hearts of palm, big salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, shredded pumpkin (!!!!), and corn, bowtie pasta salad in a vinaigrette sauce, grilled tomatoes.

From left: vegetable dumpling, grilled peppers/tomatoes/onions, mashed pumpkin, steamed calaloo, shredded pumpkin. Centre: glazed carrots.

A big salad with romaine lettuce tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, celery, and a couple sliced of baked potato.

I took this picture from a different angle to flaunt the lovely view of tropical paradise from our favourite lunch perch. Nothing like the azure blue Caribbean sea to accompany a good meal :-) From left: glazed carrots, grilled peppers, salad with sprouts, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, lima beans, and corn, green beans, steamed spinach, and olives.

From left: grilled sliced tomatoes, olives, grilled baby tomatoes, salad with romaine lettuce, shredded pumpkin, cucumber, green beans, lima beans, sliced tomatoes, steamed spinach, and a slice of fried banana.

There were three speciality restaurants at the resort: Asian, Italian, and a steakhouse. We had dinner at the first two and I wasn’t really impressed with either. The Asian food, which was also delivered buffet-style, was good but not very, um, authentic:

From left: Teppenyaki vegetable stir-fry, sesame vegetables, spring rolls, herbed tomatoes, curry (???) vegetables.

The Italian restaurant was awful. They had no vegetarian entrees, and when I asked the waiter if I could just have plain noodles, I got a really strange look. Is that really so hard?

Instead, I just resigned to making a salad from the restaurant appetizer buffet, but it was pretty pathetic. I found a little olive roll but it was stale.

Other than that experience, I had 20 great meals! I am so supremely stuffed from last week, I don’t know how I’ll endure the whole Christmas overeating tradition. We also had a lot of delicious drinks as all 5 bars on the resort were open bars, and as well we had rum, brandy, vodka, and gin on tap in our hotel room. Yum!

We also bought some Jamaican exports home with us:

Jamaican exports

I didn't get to try any jerk because it was all meat, so I bought the seasonings to make it at home!

Additionally, I ate a few dishes that I want to replicate, such as the steamed spinach with raisins, shredded pumpkin, and sauteed fruit. So definitely you’ll be seeing some Jamaican influence in future posts.

Well, I guess I’ve got a week’s worth of blog posts to catch up on, which I’m quite looking forward to. Looks like everyone is abuzz with pre-Christmas hysteria. Let the holidays begin!

-Maureen

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Gifts from Afar … Part Deux

Ahhh, okay. It’s been unacceptably long since my last post. All I can say is that I am suffering from a major lack of inspiration in the kitchen. The pre-winter greyness outside is giving me a sense of gloomy listlessness and my repetetive daily menu pretty much reflects that. I’m not really thrilled with my living situation at the moment, but my contract out here in the ‘burbs of Toronto ends shortly, and I’m sure I will be moving onto greater things involving many reckless and indulgent cuisinary experiments.

In the meantime I’ve been reading all your blogs and enjoying the anticipatory preludes to American Thanksgiving.

For now, I’ve only got one thing to post. A friend of mine brought me back a gift from Japan–my favourite noodle and this blog’s namesake: UDON!! Except this is authentic stuff, handrolled by Japanese artisans and not purchased from a basement grocery in Chinatown (next to the pirated DVDs). I was told that it is a tradition in Japan to show up at a host’s house with a gift, and so these boxes of udon can frequently be found at train stations. They are not cheap, either!

The silver packet contains the traditional dressing for the udon noodles, which are eaten cold and wet immediately after cooking.

Unfortunately, we had the dressing ingredients translated and it contained a product made from crustacean shells. Instead, I used regular soy sauce.

To Japanesify the experience, I served the udon alongside some steamed salted edamame, and enjoyed a cup of Japanese green tea. It was all deeeeelicious!!

I also watched some HUMAN TETRIS during the meal and pondered how the Japanese can be soooo batshit crazy and awesome at the same time. What’s the secret??

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

-Maureen

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4 lazy ways to eat sweet potatoes in 5 minutes

Microwaved and:

Number 4:

Drenched in mushroom gravy

Number 3:

smothered in dairy-free margarine and mixed with a couple teaspoons of Montreal Steak Spice

Number 2:

dairy-free margarine and brown sugar

Number 1:

Stirred into instant soup! This is Moroccan Vegetable soup from my local grocery's hot-food counter.

Why yes, I HAVE been eating a lot of sweet potatoes lately. I have also been eating a lot of instant soup cups, apples, and broccoli soup, which explains my lack of creative posting lately. On the other hand, good vegan food finds a way into my life one way or the other, so I have a few pics.

On the subject of my grocery store’s food counter, I’ve lately been at a loss to maintain my energy levels for my post-work workout (9 frenzied hours in a frigid, windowless chemistry lab will do that). My gym is conveniently located in a grocery store, so a couple times I have relied on the hot- or cold-food counters for some sustenance. I’m happy to report that the food is quite good and the vegan options are startlingly plentiful. Here are two that I snapped pictures of:

Crunchy wheatberry salad

Wild rice, apple, and cranberry salad


Does anyone have any good tips to spike my energy levels for a nice, long workout? I find a cup of coffee and a banana does the trick for about half an hour, but then I get soooo tired again and just want to sit down.

In other news, I’ve been eating baked-tofu sandwiches a lot lately.

I've never hid my love for the President's Choice brand, and their Soy and Ginger salad dressing makes a FINE marinade (and salad dressing!). After 2 days of marinading, I bake these puppies at 400F for 30 mins, rotating once.

What else have I got? Oooh, Kath’s (from Kath Eats Real Food) love of oatmeal is contagious, and recently I used some of her ideas to make a perfect bowl of Peanut Butter Pumpkin Oatmeal:

Thanks for the idea, Kath! I'll be eating a lot more of this.

I recently visited one of my favourite places in the world, the Royal Ontario Museum, with my friends Kara and Michael. We ate an early dinner before the ROM at another one of my favourite places in the world, Noodle Bowl in the Annex.

I had the green vegetable curry for $7. It was delicious! Too bad I had just lost my mitten (my fourth left mitten this season!).

I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got to post at the moment, but I’m headed up to Ottawa for the weekend to experiment in O.B.‘s kitchen visit O.B. and cook some delicious meals :-) Happy weekend and don’t forget to set your clocks back and enjoy the extra hour!

-Maureen

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Confessions of a busy, lazy eater

So… eek, it’s been a little long since my last post, and I have a couple solid excuses to put forth. Shortly after my last post, I had a job interview for an environmental chemist, got the job, started the job, realized that the commute from Toronto was INSANE, and moved out to upper-middle-class suburbia. Yeah, moved. To one of Toronto’s annoyingly domestic fringe suburbs. So I’ve got Life Jet Lag, in addition to being super busy at my new job and uncomfortably out of my element in a new kitchen and with new grocery stores–all of which translate into lazy eating habits.

I’ve become pretty dependant on these puppies for noontime nourishment:

I love everything (vegan) in the President's Choice Blue Menu line, but these soup cups are little wonders. They have 160-220 calories, 5-13 gms of fibre, and 200-800 mgs of sodium (hardly a steal as far as sodium goes, but many soup cans are 1000+ mgs). At $1.79 each, it's barely a chip in the pocketbook to keep a few on hand for uninspired mealtimes.

I've been snacking on green beans a lot too... I steam them in advance and eat them cold with PC Blue Menu Soy & Ginger Salad dressing:

A plethora of pears is also on my snack menu since my grandma's pear trees are shedding their fruit like it's the end of the world.

Some other things:

Tomato and Red/Yellow Pepper Salad

Tofu and Sweet Potato Kebabs

Tofu and Sweet Potato Kebabs Recipe (thanks mom):

  • 2 Red, yellow or orange peppers cut into bite size pcs.
  • 3 yams or sweet potatoes sliced in 1 inch thick pcs.
  • Firm tofu cubed
  • Your favourite BBQ sauce
  • Peel yams and slice to 1 inch thick.  Precook yams/potatoes
  • (put in pyrex dish with a bit of water and microwave until almost cooked)
  • Cube the firm tofu,
  • Cube the potato and or yams
  • Skewer the potatoes, yams, peppers.
  • Baste with your favourite BBQ sauce.

BBQ, turning and basting until brown


My friend Adrienne and my mother share the same birthday, September 15. I made them each a Pumpkin Cake with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting. It was totally delicious and I can’t wait to make more pumpkin-flavoured delights.

Pumpkin Cake with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting


I had the pleasure of dining out with a regular cast member on Mad About Udon, The Veggie-Happy Omnivore, at Fresh in Toronto (Spadina Ave at Queen St) last week. WordPress won’t let me embed the link, so go here for more info: http://www.freshrestaurants.ca/ . I really cannot overstate how impressed and satisfied I was with this restaurant the meal. I truly can’t believe it took me so long to try Fresh out. The food was criminally delicious, or so it seemed since most dishes are less than $8 and I felt like we were robbing the place.

The V.H.O. had the Energy Bowl...

... and I had the Buddha Bowl (thai peanut sauce w/ marinated tofu cubes, tomato, cilantro, cucumber, bean sprouts, chopped raw peanuts, herbs & spices:

Unfortunately, that’s all I’ve got to show for the last three weeks, but I’m headed up to Ottawa for the weekend to visit O.B. and I’ve got a full menu of autumn-themed recipes planned! Stay tuned!
-Maureen

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