Please Standby

March 11, 2009

I’m going to be dashing around town for the next couple of days, doing cooking classes (short notice, but if you’re in the Toronto area, I’ll be at the Bayview/Sheppard Loblaws tonight at 7:00–would love to meet you!), and then my friend Babe is coming to town tomorrow, so I won’t have much time for cooking (except for other people, that is). 

When we were undergraduates, my friend Babe had a roster of what she called “permadates.”  These were straight guys who were no more than friends, but were willing to stand in whenever a male presence was required–at a work function, say, a family wedding or bar mitzvah, a school reunion, etc.  She’d call up the permadate and he was always happy to receive a free meal, free booze, and maybe some dancing in exchange for allowing Babe hang on to his rippled bicep and elbow for the evening.  A win-win!

I think the same concept extends to foods as well.  Don’t we all have our own favored dishes, the go-to recipes that we whip up when we need something that will impress, will look good and taste good–and which won’t expect any “favors” at the end of the evening?  These are the “permadishes,” the old standbys that never disappoint.

I’ve been relying a lot on “candida standbys”–simple foods that are compatible with the ACD–this week.  A lettuce wrap here, some baked tofu (without soy sauce, of course) there, here a roasted veggie, there a baked sweet potato, raw almonds and pumpkin seeds everywhere. 

Then I realized I’ve already got quite a few candida-friendly dishes right here on this blog–dishes that are already in my repertoire, but happen to be suitable for the ACD.  These are great for anyone who’s battling candida, but even more, for anyone who’s seeking a cleaner, less toxic, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting diet as well. 

Until I cook again, I’ll leave you with some of these reliable favorites.  Nothing like a good permadish to get you through a busy week!

ecleancpaw1

Mum, how about considering us permadogs?  You know you can count on us.  And of course I always rely on my big sister to take good care of me, too.” 

“Aw, zip it, Chaser–you’re making me blush.”

chaserkisselsie

[Okay, so the post title is a bit obscure (I was alluding to Four Weddings and a Funeral)--but with the Oscars coming up in a couple of days, and with my having seen, hmmn, let's see--a total of "zero" of the movies, I wanted to make reference to that grand little Golden Guy in some way or other in this post. ]

bdaycakeslice

[Slice of birthday cake: chocolate layers filled with chocolate buttercream frosting, all topped with Sweet Potato Frosting]

It’s almost time for midterms at the college where I teach, so I’m afraid I’ll  be MIA from the blog for a little while (not to be confused with the recently balloon-bellied, singing-at-the-Grammys, went-into-labor-and-gave-birth-the-next-day MIA).  But before I bid you all adieu, I thought I’d mention three festivities leading up to said exams. 

Shindig One: The most recent celebration we enjoyed here in the DDD household was an intimate birthday dinner for my friend Eternal Optimist (consisting of just the EO, the HH, and me).We three enjoyed a spectacular, yet simple meal of Potato-Miso Soup (Alisa’s uniquely delicious recipe: satiny smooth, rich and slightly yeasty from the hint of miso–in fact, this was the second time I’ve made this in a week!); trusty Tagine of Quinoa with Chickpeas, Olives and Prunes (always a hit around here); garlic sautéed rapini and collards; and a special b-day cake  (chocolate layers with sugar-free chocolate buttercream frosting (both from Sweet Freedom) and the Sweet Potato Frosting I wrote about a while back.  

potmisosoup

[Alisa's Creamy Potato Miso Soup]

It was grand to spend a leisurely evening together fêting a dear friend. The EO also brought along her own pooch, another border collie cross, and The Girls were in heaven.  (“We love having our friends over, too, Mum!  Except next time, there should be a cake that we can eat as well.”) 

Shindig Two: In addition to the birthday, the dinner was also occasion for a spontaneous mini-celebration in honor of the cookbook finally reaching the publisher.  After numerous delays in formatting and glitches with the cover, it’s finally on its way!  My publishing rep called yesterday to confirm that she received the files and their part of the book’s production will begin next week.  YIPPPPPPEEEEEE!!  (Of course, this means it will still take about three months before the book is in print, but it is out of my hands at this point).  I can’t even begin to express what a relief that is!  So we had a little toast in honor of Sweet Freedom last evening as well.

Shindig Three: Despite mountains of marking, I’ll be peeking in periodically at the Academy Awards, that shindig to beat all shindigs, that tribute to all things silicone and Juvéderm and Botox, that massive glitterati ego-massage that will take place on Sunday evening.  From the Barbara Walters interviews to the Joan Rivers gaffes to the melodramatic and slurred acceptance speeches, I love it all.  And even if I haven’t actually seen any of the movies, who cares?  That’s not what the Oscars are all about, anyway!

Before I depart on break, I thought it might be fun to leave you with a little midterm quiz of your own to ponder while I’m away (and the best part–it doesn’t matter whether you know the answers or not!).  I’ll reveal the “correct” responses when I get back (though with a bit of sleuthing, it should be fairly easy to find them before then).  

bdaycakewhole2

[Chocolate birthday cake in all its uncut glory]

A Diet, Dessert and Dogs Mid-Term Quiz

Instructions: Please answer each of the following questions.  Note that this is an open-blog test; answers can be found in previous entries.  Please double space your answers. 

1)  DDD stands for:

a) The 2009, eco-friendly version of the pesticide “DDT”

b) Pamela Anderson’s bra size (now that she’s had a breast reduction)

c) a cutsie way to refer to “3-D” movies

d) the name of this blog.

2) “NAG” refers to

a) the HH’s endearing nickname for me;

b) the ol’ grey girl who ain’t what she used to be;

c) a healthy way of eating that includes whole, unprocessed, organic foods.

3) Ricki’s favorite food is:

a) chocolate

b) chocolate

c) chocolate

d) all of the above

4) “LC” stands for

a) Lon Chaney

b) Lewis Carroll

c) Love Chocolate!

d) Life Companion

5) Complete this phrase:  “Rocker Guy (He of the —)”

a) broken guitar

b) off his rocker 

c) rock collection

d) black leather pants

6) Ricki loves blogging because:

a) of all the amazing people she’s “met” in the blog world

b) it’s always fun to read other blogs and learn about new foods

c) reading your comments on her blog is the high point of her day (truly)

d) YOU GUYS ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!

I’m sure you all got an “A”!  Have a great time at the Oscars, all, and see you in a week or so! ;)

Last Year at this TimeMy Favorite Mistake:  Savory Filled Breakfast Crepes

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs by clicking here.

As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing from you at the new site.

(“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we?  Because (and we hate to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”)

 

cabbagesoup5

Now is the discontent of our winter.

The dozen or so of you who were reading my blog last year at this time probably remember how much I hate the snowy season.  (How much, you ask?  As much as Gepetto hates dishonesty.  As much as Ellen loves Portia.  As much as the calories in a deep-fried Mars Bar (with whipped cream on top).  As much as union disagrees with management.  As much as my eternal incredulity at the popularity of Julia Roberts.)   This morning, when I emitted a plaintive little lament about the fact that we’ve already surpassed last year’s (record-breaking) snowfall for this date, the HH helpfully piped up, “Yeah, and we’ve still got over a month more of this to go!”  Gee, thanks, sweetheart.

So, what to do about a wall of pelting snow every time you leave the house,  ice crystals forming on your eyebrows, the grey rime that coats your glasses like vaseline on a camera lens? 

Make soup, that’s what. 

When I was a carefree singleton* back in the early 90s, I developed a Friday evening cooking ritual.   After arriving home from work, I’d change into sweats and a T-shirt, then spend most of the evening cooking food for the following week.  By the end of the week, I was usually too pooped to socialize anyway, and I found cooking to be incredibly meditative.  (Besides, if anything better male intellectually stimulating came up instead, I wasn’t irrevocably tied to my plan; I’d just cook the following day).  I’d pack the prepared dishes into plastic containers, then freeze them for consumption later on.  A relaxing evening plus seven days of healthy, homemade food–a pretty good arrangement, I thought.

In those days, I tended to cook a lot of soups.  Perhaps I was subconsciously emulating my mom, whose chicken soup graced our stovetop every Friday evening as far back as I can remember. In fact, the very first recipe I cooked in my very first apartment was soup–split pea and ham, as I recall (which is odd, since even then I didn’t really like meat, and I’d never tasted ham at all before that–or since).  In the interim, I’ve expanded my repertoire a bit, enjoying a variety of traditional or exotic or unusual soups over the years.  With its ability to embrace any and all stray vegetables, then bathe them in a warm, soothing broth, vitamin and mineral-rich soup is an ideal meal-in-a-bowl. 

Strangely, once the HH and I began seeing each other, I all but stopped making soups on Friday nights (he seemed to think our courtship should take place alongside a wine bottle rather than a stockpot).  Then, a couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of Nava Atlas’s newly released Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons  (this is a 4th edition of her earlier Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons) as part of the book’s virtual tour.   Suddenly, soup was back on my radar.  And I must tell you, I think this book has singlehandedly renewed my zeal for soup making. 

The book is divided by season, so it made sense that the fall and winter offerings would appeal most right now, with innovative and interesting combinations like Broccoli, Apple and Peanut Soup or Almond-Brussels Sprouts Soup (which I just enjoyed for lunch today–splendid!), and classics like Hearty Barley-Bean Soup or Minestrone.  But the spring and summer were equally tantalizing, with recipes for Creole Eggplant Soup and Gingery Miso-Spinach Soup and Strawberry Colada Soup.  (Now I have yet another reason to wish winter would end soon.)

With our seemingly irrepressible mountains of snow (now taller than the HH, who is over 6 feet/1.8 meters) outside, a hearty winter stew seemed just the right antidote. This Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Bread Stew is a perfectly warming, filling, tasty combination, with a substantial broth, in which you simmer a variety of winter veggies, all imbued with a subtle sweet and piquant tang. Initially, the HH was a bit reluctant to try it (paradoxically, the guy will eat anything and everything if it’s derived from an animal, but is entirely unadventurous when it comes to vegetable dishes).  After the first few spoonfuls, however, he pronounced it “a keeper” and was content to have nothing more than this for dinner. 

I’m happy to say that I’m even looking forward to getting back in the swing of Friday evening soup-a-thons. And these days, I won’t be cooking alone  (hear that, HH?).

Mum, you know that we’d love to help you cook, too, if we could. There’s just this little matter of the ‘no opposable thumbs’ thing. But we’re still more than happy to help clean up the leftovers.” 

* Okay, I was never “carefree,” but more like “unattached, at loose ends, having no weekend plans.”  The closest I’ve ever gotten to “carefree” was probably during that time before I embraced all the responsibilities and anxieties of adulthood–like, maybe, when I was three.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage and Bread Stew

from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons

by Nava Atlas

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW SITE, BY CLICKING HERE.

cabbagestew2

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD BY CLICKING HERE.

curriedsoupspoon

Years ago (oops, make that a decade), during the tumultuous year after my starter marriage dissolved, I lived with my friend Gemini I.  As two single thirty-somethings interested in social events or activities that might bring us into contact with eligible men, we decided to try out some cooking classes (what were we thinking?  We might as well have looked for guys in the pantyhose department at Macy’s.  .  . oh, wait a sec: apparently, in Australia, that’s exactly where you might meet some guys these days). 

In any case, we signed up for one series run by a well-heeled Toronto chatelaine who’d attended Le Cordon Bleu (it was only a weekend seminar, but she never told us that) and decided to teach classes out of her home.  It took just one evening, and I was hooked; after that, Gemini I and I attended about half a dozen more classes as well.  It’s not that I actually learned very much; and the food, while fine, wasn’t the most spectacular I’d had, either. But oh, what a house!

Oh my, how I envied her house.  Situated beside a thickly forested ravine on a cul-de-sac in the tony Rosedale area, Ms. Culinati’s residence was a massive, ivy-covered, stone-and-brick Tudor style mansion of at least 5,000 square feet, almost more like a museum than a home.  At over 100 years old, the building’s interior had been completely renovated and rendered ultra-modern inside.  The setup was perfect for cooking classes: after passing beneath the towering entryway, we participants filed across the open-concept first floor (tiled in marble), toward a state-of-the-art kitchen just off the entrance.  There were six cushy stools lined up against one side of a wide, grey and black granite peninsula, which also divided the room and separated us from the cooking area. 

Ms. Cordon Bleu held forth on the opposite side of the counter behind the built-in stainless steel stovetop, prepping ingredients and chattering about the best shop in Paris to buy Le Creuset, the plumpest, most perfect berries at All the Best on Summerhill (even back then, I recall that a pint–about  500 ml.–of strawberries cost over $4.00 at that store), or how she flew to New York last weekend to pick up the very best fleur de sel (because really, you simply couldn’t use anything less).  

Despite the fact that our personal orbits existed in completely different universes, I still enjoyed the recipes, the skillfully selected wines that accompanied them, and the stolen glances around the rest of the house as I ostensibly attended to our cooking.  And, of course, it was always rewarding to have an evening out with Gemini I.

curriedsoupclose1

Most of the dishes I encountered in those classes, I will never make again, either because they contain ingredients I no longer eat, or because they contain ingredients far too extravagant for everyday consumption (last I heard, her courses had morphed into all-out travel tours, wherein participants flew to Tuscany for a week to cook and live together in a villa.  Who are these people, and how can I be written into the will? Just asking).

Still, almost despite herself, in one class Ms. C.B. provided us with this recipe for Curried Root Vegetable Chowder with Dumplings.  And while the original soup contained chicken broth, butter and wheat flour, it was a cinch to convert.

I’ve loved this chowder since the first time I slurped it back in the 1990s.  It’s one of the easiest soups you’ll ever make (and while the dumplings are marvelous and do elevate the broth an echelon, you can just as easily forego the sophistication, toss in some elbow pasta, and happily spoon this up for a quick weekday dinner). Once the veggies are chopped, it’s a matter of a quick sauté, a splash of prepared broth, and a sprinkling of ONE spice: mild curry powder. It also makes use of an underused, but very tasty, root veggie: celery root.

It sounds almost too simple, I know; but believe me, the result will astonish you. The varying levels of sweetness from the different roots, along with the whisper of curry, combine for a soothing, warming and entirely captivating dish. This is one soup you’ll want to stay at home for. In fact, it’s the perfect soup to charm those eligible guys–that is, once you find them. 

This month’s No Croutons Required is asking for soups or salads with pasta.  I’m hoping these dumplings count. The event was started by Lisa and Holler and is this month being hosted by Holler.

Curried Root Vegetable Chowder with Dumplings

(adapted from a very old recipe from The Art of Food Cooking School)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

curriedsouptop

This is the perfect soup to serve to guests; the dumplings elevate this to a fancier level, yet the soup is down to earth and very appealing.  For a gluten-free option, omit the dumplings or use your favorite dumpling recipe with GF flour.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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chiliside

The three of you who were reading my blog last year at this time may recall that I am not a fan of winter.  “What?” the rest of you ask, “and you from Montreal?” 

Well, I’m here to tell you that being born in a certain place doesn’t automatically predispose one kindly toward the weather of said location (nor does it predispose one to winter sports; in other words, no, that’s not a tatoo on my rear, but a lingering bruise from a skating accident back in 1981).  To me, the ideal climate would be temperate, neither too hot nor too cool (I’m thinking between 68 and 80 Fahrenheit, or 20 and 22 Celsius), with sun about 95% of the time (just enough rain to ensure there’s no drought) and terrain surrounded by lush, grassy, fragrant forests with treetops that sway and quietly rustle in the breeze, like Hawaiians doing the hula. Oh, and no bugs.  And no snakes.  Or spiders.  And, what the heck, may as well throw in a yellow brick road, while you’re at it.*

But here we are, too far into November to deny the imminent crystalline entombment, and I must face the fact: it will be winter soon.  And what is there to do?  Generally, when I’m feeling down, my options fall into two categories:  1) food-related; and 2) dog-related.  As I write this, The Girls are sleeping off their early walk with the HH; and so, it seems, the next step is alimentary, my dear.

While baking is always my first instinct in the kitchen, I do enjoy cooking as well.  These days, it’s rare for me to spend any more time than necessary making dinner (read: 20 minutes, tops), but yesterday, I felt the need for the extended, meditative experience of slow cooking. In the morning, I loaded the dutch oven with dried beans and water; and by 7:00 PM, we were feasting on my age-old, many-times-refined, much-tweaked recipe for chili with mixed beans and “ground turkey.” 

chilitop

[Seems I still haven't quite mastered the focus on my dandy new camera, but you can still make out the meaty-looking crumbles in there, can't you?]

When I was a kid, I used to think chili acquired its name because it was meant to be eaten in cold weather.  While it’s true that this soup-cum-stew is best served in cool weather, it wasn’t until I began to read up on Indian cuisine that I discovered the name actually referred to a spice blend often used in the mix. Trusty Wikipedia tells me that Chili con Carne is the official dish of Texas; and that particular bowlful, it turns out, is the version made without beans.  Most of us, I’d wager, still think of beans when we think of chili, however. 

I also think of chili as the chameleon of stews: years ago, a friend who’d just returned to Canada from three years in Mexico served me mole, another form of chili; the notion of sharp spices with just an undertone of bitterness seemed immensely appealing (don’t be alarmed at the coffee and chocolate in this version!).  And a recipe once given to me by a former student from India featured simmered, pulled beef and a variety of curry spices with lentils. 

I first cooked chili when I was an impoverished graduate student living in Windsor, Ontario.  The recipe developed over the years, and what was once a fairly basic vegetarian chili has morphed over the years into my own version of the dish.  I include frozen tofu that’s been defrosted and crumbled to resemble ground meat (in fact, the first time I made this for the HH, he assumed the tofu was ground chicken. Perfect for skeptics!). The HH and I also both agree that chili should be more of a stew than a soup, so I simmer mine until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the beans are suspended in a kind of spicy tomato sauce.  If you prefer yours thinner, simply cook a bit less or add a bit more water. 

Eventually, my own additions became so numerous that even my enormous dutch oven was barely adequate to hold the stew, and I had to stop adding ingredients.  As a result, this makes a huge batch, and enough to freeze in single-serve containers that will sustain you through the winter.  While you slurp it up, just imagine that you’re somewhere warm, and green.

Oh, and with all these legumes in here, I thought this would be the perfect submission to My Legume Love Affair, the monthly event started by Susan at The Well Seasoned Cook and this month hosted by Simona at Briciole. 

Chili to Last Through the Winter

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

chilitop2

This chili provides a thick, spicy, filling and very substantial meal. Don’t let the long ingredient list deter you—this recipe makes a big batch that you can freeze for later, and it’s definitely worth the effort!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Pear and Parsnip Soup

September 19, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

It seems like another lifetime now, but the year after my starter marriage

ended, I lived in a townhouse with my dear friend Gemini I.  Shortly after the furniture was placed and the boxes unpacked, we began to negotiate the rules of housework, grocery shopping, and TV usage when we got to chatting about food.  I remember asking, “Do you like cous cous?” (In those days, I ate it all the time, though it’s pretty much verboten now since I don’t eat wheat).  I was taken aback by her answer, which, at the time, I found a little odd.

“Well, I suppose I do,” she responded.  “There are times when I’ll cook it every day for two weeks, but then I might not touch it or even think of it for 8 or 9 months.”  I couldn’t imagine ignoring a food I actually enjoyed for that long (and chocolate? Well, that one would be calculated in hours–nay, minutes–rather than days or weeks). 

These days, though, I understand exactly what she meant.  When one maintains a food blog, the quest for the novel and atypical dish never ends.  This pursuit sometimes leaves old favorites languishing in the dust–or at the back of the cupboard (or both, in the case of our cupboard).  On the other hand, I might whip up something new from a recipe I found on another blog, and enjoy it so much that the HH and I will feast on said dish several times during the next week.  And the following week.  In fact, we might just consume that comestible every second or third day for two to three weeks (which does provide several useful photo-ops, after all)–and then dump it unceremoniously, just as Chaser dumps her squeaky ball (ad nauseum, I might add) at my feet.  Once I’ve gotten my fill, I move on, seeking the next culinary encounter.

Well, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I often find myself with a surplus of overripe pears in the house, as I did a couple of evenings ago. Since the HH refuses to share in the burden of eating fruit (hey!  That could be the title of Michael Pollan’s next tome:  The Burden of Eating Fruit: An Exposition on Overripe Organic Produce), I’m always on the lookout for tasty recipes with pears, before they become too soft and squishy, too oozy, too yellow-flecked-with-brown.  Our freezer is already bursting with chopped, frozen pears, so I needed to cook up these babies–and fast.

It was then I remembered an erstwhile favorite, one that we consumed for a spell and then promptly forgot. It’s from one of my favorite cookbooks, Green by Flip Shelton. From what I understand, Shelton is kind of like an Aussie Rachael Ray, and isn’t taken very seriously as a chef (what’s that bogan doing cooking biscuits on the barbie? What a dag!  Well, she’s still ace to me.  G’day!).  The recipe sounds like an incongruous combination of ingredients (though not as incongruous as radishes, olives and grapefruit), mixing pear and parsnip with sautéed leeks, but the final result is incredibly tasty.  Fragrant, slightly sweet from the pears and slightly peppery from the parsnip, with a velvety smooth, light texture.  Yum-O!

And since this soup features both fruit and, well, soup, I’m submitting it to this months’ No Croutons Required, a monthly event hosted alternately by Holler (this month) and Lisa, which asks us to cook up either a salad or soup with fruit as a main ingredient. 

Oh, and before I sign off, I really must thank all of you for being so understanding and so polite.  I mean, it’s painfully evident that I was a total bust at the ACD this time round (okay, maybe not a TOTAL bust–I did last almost 2 weeks). And yet you’ve all had the diplomacy and tact not to mention it!  For that, I am grateful. 

And while I’ve decided this may not have been the best time to embark on an even more restrictive diet (school starting up, cold weather coming, cookbook calling), I do still try to eat foods that would fit within the parameters of the diet as often as possible, perhaps minus one or two ingredients. Well, turns out this fantastic soup could easily qualify as an anti-candida meal, even without trying (if you’re following the version that permits non-tropical fruits, that is).  It’s also a very simple, very nourishing concoction that offers fabulous fiber from the pears, a hit of extra calcium from the parsnips and a satisfying early autumn tummy-warming. You may even decide to make it again and again–at least, for a couple of weeks or so.   

Pear and Parsnip Soup

from Flip Shelton’s Green

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

It may not be entirely photogenic, but this easy, quick recipe produces a satisfying soup.  The combination of slightly sweet, slightly peppery, and slightly creamy works beautifully here.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! TO VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

Who could have ever guessed that our summer would FINALLY arrive on Labor Day Weekend?  The weather this past weekend was glorious: brilliant sunshine, sky entirely unsullied by even a speck of cloud, so blue even the dogs seemed able to perceive its piercing azure, colorblind or no.  The temperature’s been hovering at around 28C (that’s high 80s, my American compadres!), and–best of all–no humidity!  What a perfect way to usher out the summer as students prepare to get back to school tomorrow and parents prepare to shout obscenities at all the extra drivers on the newly traffic-clogged roadways. 

It does seem strange to be bidding summer adieu when it feels as if we never actually had a real summer this year to begin with.  Let’s see: before this weekend, I can recall a total of three sunny days.  And it’s official:  this summer, we surpassed every known record for rainfall in Ontario between June 1 and August 31st. 

And so, to celebrate the late arrival of warmth and to send off the season that never was, I thought I’d present this heavenly soup.  It’s one I mentioned waaaaay back when I ran the last Lucky Comestible series on avocados.  As the warm weather dissipates and the stealthy chill of autumn returns with its crisp sheets in the evenings and dewy sprays of frost on car windows each morning, this is a soup you can make to remind you that, before you know it–a mere 293 days from now–the warm weather will finally return.  That is, if there’s actually a summer next year.

The soup is creamy, rich, and very refreshing after an afternoon in the sun.  It’s also great as a quick dinner if you’ve been taking advantage of one of the rare balmy afternoons left in which you can go outside in just a T-shirt and shorts. 

So long, Oh Blazing Sol of the summer. So long, lush, humective grasses and tomato blossoms, amazonian mint, purple clover and sundry weeds in a multicolored tangle like some crazy knitting basket in my vegetable garden. So long, little Chaser slurping at the hose.  So long, G & Ts on the patio, tan lines on my shoulders, shoes slipped on casually with no socks. So long, coveted, much cherished, far too short and ever appreciated summer weather.

Summer, we hardly knew ya.  Sniff.  Boo hoo.  But now, there’s soup. . .

Oh, and for those of you returning to school tomorrow (or those who’ve just returned this past week)–welcome back!

Chilled Avocado Soup

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE AT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

This is a simple, quick and delicious soup for a summer’s evening.  Avocado offers healthy monounsaturated fats, and cucumber is cooling and alkalizing.

 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE AT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!  And you’ll find lots more anti-candida recipes on the new site as well. :)

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

* * *

These days, I can’t think of a single person I know who isn’t stressed.  I mean, with all our modern amenities, our time-saving devices, our plugged-in technology, most of us are still plagued with a constant sense “never enough” or “not up to snuff.”  And I’m not too proud to admit that I myself am probably preternaturally sensitive to stressors in my life.  In fact, it’s possible that I react just a wee bit more forcefully to stress than the average person. Truth be told, I find it downright impossible to cope some days.  Oh, all right, fine; I admit it:  I’m basically a slobbering mass of quivering kanten who’s totally incapable of coping with excess pressure.  (I mean, do you know anyone else who had to quit meditation because it was too stressful?)

It’s not as if most of us can just take off for a few weeks to our  spectacular retreat in New Zealand when we feel overwhelmed by life’s little curve balls (how lovely for you that you could, though, Shania).  Some, like the HH, play records (as opposed to CDs) to de-stress; others play with their home décor, wardrobe or hairstyle. Some play the clarinet.  And then there are those who simply play around

Me, I like to play in the kitchen.

Throughout my recent hiatus from the blog, I kept encountering interesting recipes or ideas for baked goods and my hands would itch to get back to cooking.  There’s something immensely soothing about swishing a wooden spoon over and over through a clear, fragrant broth, or chopping mindlessly as carrots are transformed into mounds of tiny, uniform cubes on the cutting board.

But what to cook? As I mentioned last time, I’ve embarked once again on an anti-candida diet for a few weeks, which means my diversions in the kitchen will have to comply with the guidelines of that eating plan. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the anti-candida diet is basically a nutritional means to reduce the candida albicans yeast that’s present in and around us all the time, but which occasionally multiplies out of control in certain people (those with compromised immune systems, those with blood sugar issues, those with hormonal imbalances, etc.)   My personal weakness is an addiction to sweets; sugar is the number one preferred vittle for those microscopic opportunists.  

In order to reduce the number of candida organisms down to a “normal” level, the anti-candida program (I’ll just call it ACD from now on) commonly recommends cutting out any foods that could potentially feed the yeast or encourage it to grow.  In its most stringent form, the diet would eliminate:

  • anything containing any kind of sugar (cane, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, etc.–plus fruits, fresh and dried);
  • simple carbohydrates, which convert to glucose very quickly (flours, pasta, bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, biscuits, crackers, cornstarch and similar starches, and any other baked goods of any kind; candies, chocolate, ice cream, pudding, anything candy-like; white potatoes, white rice and any other white grains)
  • foods that contain mold or fungus or encourage it to grow (yeast is a fungus, after all): mushrooms, peanuts, cashews, melons, cheeses;
  • the most common allergens or foods that could cause allergic responses (which trigger the yeast): dairy, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy foods;
  • foods that are fermented or might encourage fermentation (on which yeast feeds): alcohol, vinegars, all condiments (no ketchup, sorry); soy sauce, etc.
  • anything artificial, processed, containing chemicals or additives, imitation or artificial seasonings and flavorings and colorings;
  • pop, fruit juice, presweetened drinks, coffee, tea.

Right about now, you may be wondering, “what the heck CAN you eat??”  Good question.  The basic list of “permitted” foods is actually shorter than those that are prohibited.  Still, there’s quite a bit left that’s both tasty and nourishing:

  • all vegetables except very high-glycemic ones (such as white potatoes, corn, etc.)
  • whole, gluten-free grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, etc.)
  • beans and legumes
  • some nuts and most seeds
  • water
  • natural, cold-pressed oils (especially olive oil)
  • a bit of lemon juice
  • stevia (a natural herbal sweetener that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels)

I was leafing through the book that became my ACD Bible when I was first on the diet about 10 years ago (called The Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook), and I have to admit I began to despair a little.  Life without pancakes on Sunday mornings?  Life devoid of fresh, juicy fruits? Life sans a little tipple on occasion?  How would I cope?  What could I eat when the HH and I went out to dinner?  What would I do when my friends invited me to Starbucks to catch up?  It was starting to feel mighty stressful around here.  So I exhibited my usual reaction when I’m feeling stessed:  I got into the kitchen when I couldn’t stand the yeast. 

After consulting with a few classmates currently practising as holistic nutritionists, I was reassured that the ACD diet had been revised in recent years.  Considered unduly restrictive (you think??) it’s since been amended to better reflect current trends in the fields of nutrition and scientific research.  Apparently, some sweet foods can now be included as long as they’re low on the glycemic index or GI (which means they don’t raise blood sugar levels very quickly). A low GI denies the yeast its main source of nutrition–glucose. In other words, this time round, I can include most nontropical fruits (such as apples, some pears, berries, or peaches) in my menus, as well as minute amounts of agave nectar, a natural sweetener that’s also low-glycemic. 

Scanning the ingredients of my refrigerator for inspiration, the first thought that occurred to me was to cook up some kitchari.  This Ayurvedic cleansing stew is a flexible recipe that always features rice, mung beans, and certain spices; beyond that, anything goes. It seemed perfect for that little flock of cauliflower florets waiting patiently to make themselves useful. There was also a lone sweet potato perched on the counter (the only survivor of the Sweet Potato and Ginger salad I made the other day), so those were my veggie choices, but you can use whatever you like or have on hand. The HH thinks this dish bears an unfortunate resemblance to Klingon gach, but I love its mushy, nubby base and nourishing, comforting broth.

The stew simmers gently for almost an hour, infusing your entire home with the fragrant, soothing aromas of Indian spices as it bubbles.  It may have been intended as a cleansing stew, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of flavor.  One serving of this, and your stress will evaporate, right into the swirling plumes of steam emanating from your bowl. 

Since the mung beans feature so prominently in this dish, I’m submitting it to Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook for her second My Legume Love Affair event.

Kitchen Sink Kitchari (loosely adapted from this recipe)

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

I soaked the rice and beans overnight before cooking, but that step is optional.  If you don’t soak your beans overnight, use the quick-soak method:  cover with boiling water, bring to the boil, and let sit, covered, for an hour.  Then drain and cook as you would pre-soaked beans.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Prufrock Special*

June 6, 2008

*Or, Do I Dare To Eat a Chilled Peach Soup?

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS has moved! 

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.” 

Well, I’ve just completed my second day on my Total Health cleanse, also known as the Grain Drain.  

(I must interject here just to say thank you to everyone for your great comments, suggestions and encouragement–I am truly blown away by all the positive wishes and love hearing from you all. And it makes a huge difference to know that the support is out there!)

After two days of eating this way, I’m feeling a tad self-reproaching.  You see, so far, I’ve found the diet nowhere near as difficult as I’d anticipated.  In fact, it’s been downright easy–one might go so far as to call it enjoyable, even. (I know–I was shocked, too!)

I mean, what could be wrong with a fresh and juicy Earth Bowl for breakfast?  Or a classic Three-Bean Salad for lunch?  In order to keep my blood sugar levels steady, I’ve been munching on nuts and seeds, baby carrots, prunes (or, as they’re now called, dried plums) and wee bits of Cocoa Nibbles. I feel lighter and my allergies seem to be diminishing.  Whoo hoo!

And then, most unlike Eliot’s eponymous poltroon, I most certainly did dare to eat a peach.  Several, actually, all blended into a smashing soup. That, followed by a serving of Red Pepper stuffed with Raw Asian Pâté, (recipe in a future post), and dinner was rather spectacular.  So, let us go then, you and I, and I’ll fill you in on all the details of Chilled Peach Soup with Cashew Coconut Cream.

Last week, on one of those grey days when the fog rubs its back upon the window-panes, we received a true harbinger of summer: four plump, downy, rosy peaches in our organic produce box. I was so thrilled that I devoured one immediately before I realized there will be time, there will be time to eat more of them throughout the summer. 

As it happened, I’ve been on a bit of a library kick lately.  Maybe it’s the ever-increasing tower of unread magazines that waits patiently in the corner of my office; maybe it’s my newfound frugality; maybe it’s the fact that I had to go get this month’s book (About Alice by Calvin Trillin) for my book club; whatever the reason, I found myself at the local library and decided to drop by the cookbook section.  And there, after reading a variety of recipes (the dishes measured out in coffee spoons), I happened upon The Artful Vegan by Eric Tucker et al.

Tucker is executive chef at the famed Millenium restaurant in San Francisco, one of the very first vegan restaurants to introduce elegant, exciting and innovative cuisine for vegans (and one of the places on my list of “must-visit”s).  I did have the enormous pleasure of sitting in the audience while Tucker demonstrated several recipes a few years ago at the inaugural Vegetarian Awakening conference; it was a revelation to watch him tame a tomatillo, pipe aïoli, or wrangle a fennel bulb. Everything he made was visually stunning and entirely delectable.  (And even after the sampling, the cups, the marmalade, the tea–it would have been worthwhile. Oh. . . perhaps it’s the perfume from his Five Spice Watercress that makes me so digress? ). 

Many of Tucker’s recipes are multi-faceted, multi-tiered, multi-stage affairs that require three days of preparation and innumerable specialty utensils to accomplish; the true appeal of his cookbook is that it allows you to gaze in awe at the culinary gymnastics his creations represent.  And yet, as luck would have it, about midway through the book was a recipe for a chilled peach soup with a rosewater cashew cream.  And best of all–it was perfectly accessible to a home cook! I bit off the matter with a smile, thinking this soup would definitely be worthwhile. 

Preparing the soup couldn’t be easier–if not for the cashew cream accompaniment, I would certainly designate this a Flash in the Pan recipe–and it is entirely transporting when you taste it.  

I made quite a few changes to the original recipe, so I’ll print my own version here.  The soup is intensely fruity, with a slight sour note balanced by the hint of sweetness in the cashew cream topping.  It is entirely refreshing on a smoldering summer day.  This soup fairly hums “summer.”  And even though there’s nothing in it that The Girls must avoid, this soup was too good to share. 

(“Yes, Mum, I did hear the peach soup singing.  But I do not think that it will sing to me. . . it did look good, though.”)

Okay, enough with the Prufrock. . . just don’t get me started on Nabokov’s peach reference!

Since this recipe hails from a truly “gourmet” cookbook and is also extremely low-cal (only 53 calories per serving, according to The Artful Vegan), I thought it would be the perfect submission to the  Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets event, hosted by Ben of What’s Cooking and Ivy of Kopiaste’.  They’ll be posting a roundup at the end of the month.

 Chilled Peach Soup with Cashew Coconut Cream

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

With an irresistible deep coral color and light, refreshing flavor, this soup is the perfect first course to a cool summer meal.  It would also be great as a breakfast soup.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE

No food today, my love has gone away. . .

No, not really (well, unless you count chocolate going away). 

However, today’s blog title is a bit of a double entendre: first, since today was Day One of my detox regimen (no wheat, animal products, sugar; and NO GRAINS), I do somehow feel as if I’ve had no “real” food yet (though I must admit, I actually ingested a fair amount); second,  as a result of today’s overcast, dreary, and very glum weather, I have no food to share with you all on the blog.  Oh, I prepared something, all right; I was just unable to produce a photograph in which you could actually make out anything recognizable as food (or anything else) beneath the obscuring veil of gray (a pox on that inadequate, gratis camera, I say!). 

For now all I can share is this: I prepared a soup; and the HH and I practically licked our bowls clean when we ate it.  I promise to try again tomorrow (no hardship having to eat it again, believe me), since the weather is supposed to be sunny and more conducive to taking photos.

In the meantime, it seemed as if even The Girls were having a hard time finding food today.

["Oh, Mum, you embarrass us.  And really, if you gave us more food, we wouldn't have to eat this crappy green ball.  (Oh, wait a sec, we're color blind. . . that was just a lucky guess.)"]

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