THIS SITE HAS MOVED!

crimsonsaladoldblog1

A vibrant and refreshing salad to help usher in the spring season. . .

To read the blog post and see the recipe, please come on over to my new blog home, Diet, Dessert and Dogs!  Just click here. 

There’s also a great giveaway over there you might like to find out about. . .  :)

© 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 on the new site.

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

 

remoulade2

[Dig that romantic lighting in this photo!]

I have a new love, and it’s not the HH.

(“What?  Mum, you’re not getting a divorce, are you?  Because who’s going to walk us in the morning if Dad is gone??“).  Now, before I go and scare The Girls, I should specify that I’m not referring to a human object of my affection. I’m talking about a new food-related amore: celeri rémoulade.  (“Phew! Mum, you really shouldn’t scare us that way. We’re very sensitive, you know.”)

Let me backtrack a bit and explain.  Even though the HH and I do celebrate Valentine’s Day, for the past few years we’ve done so a day or two after the fact, in order to avoid the  too-crowded-too-expensive-too-mushy restaurant crowds who seem to roll out like fog off a San Francisco pier all on that one day. Last year (the first V-day to occur after I started writing this blog), I broke all previous records and assembled a multi-course, ultra-extravagant, über-romantic and oh-so-dirty dinner (no, no, no, that would have scared the dogs even more than a breakup! We’d never offend their delicate sensibilities that way. I meant “dirty” as in, “generating a lot of dirty dishes,” silly!).  I vowed that this year, we’d move to the other end of the spectrum, with a simple,  quick, yet equally delectable meal. (“Thanks, Mum.  That divorce scare was more than enough for one day.”)

I’d actually chosen the appetizer over a month ago, after reading about celeri rémoulade on Molly’s blog.  Her description was so alluring–rapturous, almost–citing the “clean, fragrant crunch of celery root, and the alchemy of mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. . . . somewhat rich [with a] flavor [that's] light, bright, even hungry-making, a perfect start to a meal,” that I knew I had to try it out. The only glitch, of course, is that traditionally, the dish contains copious amounts of both mayonnaise and yogurt (the vegan versions of which are a tad too processed for my liking). Never mind; I decided to deal with that later. 

For the main course, I considered a recipe for Tempeh Stroganoff I’d found in an old (October 2007!) issue of Vegetarian Times

[11:32 AM.  Ricki and the HH sit at the kitchen table, sipping tea and nibbling on muffins.  The Girls lie on the carpet in front of the fireplace, Chaser sprawled with her belly facing the fire, while Else lies curled in a ball.]

Ricki:  How about this tempeh stroganoff from Vegetarian Times?

HH:  No.

Ricki: But it sounds delicious! And it’s even gluten-fr–

HH: Uh-uh.  No.  Nada. No way.  Nein. [As if to remind Ricki of a forgotten promise]: No tofu.

Ricki: But it’s not tofu.  It’s tempeh. 

HH: Tempeh, tofu–same difference.  No soy products.

Ricki:  [pouting] Well, but, this is what I want for dinner!

HH: Okay, fine. I’ll make a steak and have the stroganoff as a side dish. 

Ricki: That’s why I love you, sweetheart.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug. . .

Okay, I didn’t really say that.  But I did think it.  Here’s what I did say:

Ricki: Well, in that case, I think I’ll make it with these fabulous tempeh meatless balls that I read about on Happyveganface.

HH: Still not eating it.

Me:  That’s fine, HH.  But just because you’re cooking your own steak doesn’t mean you don’t have to help me make the stroganoff.

HH:  Okay. 

Ricki:  That’s why I love you, sweetheart.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug. . .

We figured we could whip up the stroganoff in under an hour (bake the meatballs while I made the sauce; julienne the celery root while the stroganoff simmered), having time to leisurely prepare the meal ensemble while listening to some Rodrigo, exchange good-natured banter, toss cashews to The Girls and sip our favorite bargain basement champagne, sort of like we used to do in the early days of our relationship. We’d have the early part of the day to relax in our jammies, peruse the newspaper, play with The Girls, check favorite blogs, and so on.  Perfect!

After a chillaxing day (browsing the paper, taking The Girls for a trail-walk, visiting the workout club–how ya doin’, burly guy with the black knee socks?  Nice to see you again, septuagenarian couple with the matching T-shirts!  Nice day, isn’t it, bleached blonde with the flirty giggle!), we finally turned to dinner. 

Perhaps I should have planned this “easy peasy” meal just a tad more carefully.  (Of course, by the time I got round to cooking, I was semi sloshed on Segura Viudas, which may have contributed to my somewhat inefficient kitchen artistry–but still).  

First, I discovered that the cashews (the main ingredient in the homemade sour cream) required an hour’s soaking, which set our prep time back by an hour.  No problem: I’d whir together some homemade vegan mayonnaise (I used the recipe in Cozy Inside, but this one sounds just as good) and whip up the meatballs while the nuts soaked. Then, I’d quickly prep the sour cream and throw together the stroganoff while the HH grilled his steak.  We’d be done and ready to dig in by 7:00 PM at the latest.

[7:00 PM. Having forgotten about the initial chopping and sautéing involved, Ricki is still mixing ingredients for the meatballs.  Sounds of rumbling tummies can be heard in the background.]

HH:  So, um, what’s our ETA for dinner?

Ricki: Well, I’ll just pop these meatballs in the oven–I couldn’t bear to fry them–and then make the mayo and sour cream, and then I can whip up the stroganoff, and then the celeri rémoulade, oh, and then I guess we should think about dessert–

HH:  I thought this was going to be a quick and easy dinner.

Ricki [pouting]:  Well, now, I suppose it HAS been easy for YOU, hasn’t it, Mr. Lazypants?  I mean, I’VE done all the work so far, I’m standing here covered in onion juice and flour and cashew crumbs, and YOU’VE been sittng there all day reading the paper and playing with the dogs, sipping your champagne, now, haven’t you??  Well, I wouldn’t be complaining right about now if I were you, mister, you’d better watch yourself, or else—

HH:  Um, well, I’m actually happy to help.  Just tell me what to chop.  Oh, and here’s your Valentine’s Day present [brandishing chocolate].

Me:  Oh, that’s why I love you, sweetheart!  Happy Valentine’s Day! Kiss kiss squeeze squeeze hug hug. . .

Ultimately, we didn’t sit down at the table until well after 8:00 PM (have you ever julienned a celery root by hand??? Insanity, I tell you–sheer insanity).  But the results were well worth it.  The celeri rémoulade was, as Molly promised, fresh, crisp, light, and entirely irresistible.  I really did fall in love, and ate two servings before even thinking about my stroganoff.

The main course, too, offered a winning combination of succulent, filling meatless balls atop a plate of velvety, herbaceous sauce. It practically hummed its smooth melody of rich, sour cream and savory, toothsome mushrooms.

It may have been more complex than anticipated, and it may have taken six times as long as anticipated, and it may have been cobbled together from seven different recipes intended for seven other purposes. . . but this meal was remarkable all the same. 

After all, who ever said the road to true love was an easy one?

In case you’d like to reproduce the meal yourself (if you happen to have three and a half hours to spare some weekend), here’s how I assembled it.

And since celery root is available in Ontario in February, this post is my submission to Maninas’s event, Eating with the Seasons, for February. 

Vegan Celeri Rémoulade

adapted from Orangette

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

remoulade1

Meatball Stroganoff (GF option)

based on a recipe in Vegetarian Times, October 2007

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

 stroganoff2

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

 

 Last Year at this Time

: Juicy Cuisine and Crunchy Granola

© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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

* Or, “Nothing Like Fried Rice, Really, But Still One Darned Tasty Cauliflower Salad”

rawfriedrice

[Sorry about the blur.  I may need to return to my old point-and-shoot until I finally read that new camera manual!]

For those of us fascinated by the topic of food, December is more or less highjacked by baking projects.  Cookies for the cookie exchange.  Bars and squares for the gift tins.  Cakes for the pot lucks.  Croquembouche for the neighbourhood party.  

Taken to its syllogistic conclusion,  the state of affairs in which many of us find ourselves this month would go something like this:

Major Premise: December is filled with many types of baking. 

Minor Premise: All types of baking require taste-testing. 

Conclusion: Therefore, December is filled with all types of  taste-testing  sampling quality control eating–something like 4,287 different sweets, types of chocolate, candy, cookies, fudge, frosting, glazed nuts, trifles, truffles, cakes and pies–thereby creating a massive spike in caloric intake for the month, which will lead to outright neglect of all other food groups and the overindulgence of rich, alcoholic and chocolate-based comestibles during the next four weeks or so, to the inevitable result of chocolate overload and the proverbial 7 pound weight gain over the holiday period. *

Well, given my own propensity to binge on sweets and carbs over the holidays, I thought I’d take some advice I heard dispensed by a dietician on a local CBC radio show the other day about “How Not to Gain Weight Over the Holidays.”

Get a load of this:  the dietician (who shall remain nameless–she probaby wouldn’t want you to know her name after this advice, anyway, but mostly because I can’t actually remember her name) said something to the effect of, “Well, I know that people are always told to eat a meal before going to a party to avoid overindulging, but I find that people will overindulge anyway.  And then they’ve basically eaten two meals, which is really not so good.  So what I suggest is, if you do eat a bit too much at a party, then–and I’d never suggest that you do this on a regular basis–but then you can just skip a meal or two the next day to compensate.  If you follow this plan over the holidays, you shouldn’t really gain any weight.”

Hallellujah!  In a nutshell, here’s December: Pig out.  Fast.  Pig out.  Fast.  Pig out. Fast. Pig Out. Cut back a wee bit.  Pig out. Fast. Drink champagne and kiss a bunch of strangers.

Truly, I don’t think this plan is very wise, but I’m going to adapt it to my own needs, anyway.  During this festive period when I’m more likely to succumb to the siren call of chocolate, I’ve decided to deliberately make the rest of my meals as clean, simple, and vegetable-based as possible.  To wit, Raw Imitation Fried Rice.

I came across this recipe a while ago and then, a few days later, happened upon this version by Veggie Delight.  Since the dish is raw, it’s much easier to digest than a cooked meal, and won’t tax the digestive system the way heavier, fatter meals can. It’s also mostly vegetables with a hint of dressing, which provided me with yet another novel way to incorporate cauliflower, a vegetable I’m otherwise indifferent about, into my diet.

The salad is crunchy and even a bit juicy, with a hint of toasted sesame and just enough saltiness from the tamari to provide a satisfying contrast to the neutral cauliflower. It’s incredibly easy to make and comes together very quickly courtesy of the processor. I thoroughly enjoyed it and could even feel virtuous as I chomped away. 

And it’s the perfect light meal to help you detox between all those tastings of baked goods and treats.

*Okay, so it’s not technically a syllogism.  And the conclusion is drawn from the predicate of the premise rather than the subject (totally illogical).  And (well, according to Giz, anyway) the average weight gain is only 1.5 pounds over the holidays.  As if.

Raw Imitation Fried Rice (aka Cauliflower Salad)

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

rawfriedricetop

Asian-inspired flavors meet light and refreshing salad in this mock fried rice dish.  Makes a great side salad or raw main.  And a sneaky way to include cauliflower!

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

elsieconeheadbed

Yes, it really is the pits, Mum.  It’s also very difficult to lick all the crumbs off the floor with this thing on my head.”

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

Last year at this time:  Dog Day: How Elsie Got Named

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! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE 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!

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.” 

There are certain food combinations that strike one as just so naturally compatible, you couldn’t imagine them any other way. Consider the seminal chocolate and peanut butter, for instance: could there be a happier marriage of sweet, salty, creamy, smooth, and enticing? Or what about vodka and orange juice, or pancakes and maple syrup, or french fries and gravy, or macaroni and cheese, or apple and cinnamon or–I could go on.  On the other hand, it’s always gratifying to discover alternate matches that may seem bizarre at first glance, yet actually work once you give them a try (funny, why did the HH suddenly come to mind?)

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Windsor, my wacky room mate had a friend who ate her pizza with peanut butter where the tomato sauce should have been.  She swore it tasted great (I declined to sample a slice). During my childhood in Montreal, my friend Gemini II used to eat liver sandwiches with cream cheese (again, I believe I passed on that one).  The well-known duo of french fries and mayo always struck me as odd until I was served sweet potato fries with mayo at one of my favorite vegan restaurants  (which, of course, prompted me to head straight home and prepare spicy sweet potato fries with avocado mayonnaise, and now I’m hooked).  I’m sure you’ve got your own personal favorite fixings that, any disparaging comments aside, you adore nonetheless (and please feel free to ‘fess up in the comments section!).

Well, as some of you may recall, the HH and I have just a smidge of surplus mint around here this summer.  Yes, indeed, I’d venture to say that my garden is in mint condition!  I’ve been concocting as many beverages, appetizers, dips, entrées or desserts containing the stuff as my little hands can muster, and even thought I was doing pretty well until the other day when I stepped round the corner of our house and saw that those darned wanton herbs had been propagating over night–it appeared as if I’d used nary a leaf!

And so, by dint of mint, I was forced to come up with yet another recipe showcasing the stuff.  Which actually worked out perfectly, since Holler and Lisa’s No Croutons Required event this month requests a salad focusing on a favorite herb.  Well, if by “favorite,” they meant “so much that I could rip bagfuls from the yard and still have enough left to freshen the breath of the entire town of Gilroy, CA on July 25, 26 & 27th in the month of July”; or “so much that I will have to start using it as packing filler when I mail trunks of fine china or glassware across the Atlantic” or “so much that even the thought of mint makes me feel a bit queasy, which, as it turns out,  is actually okay, since mint helps to aid in proper digestion” or “so much that I will have to cook at least one dish with mint in it every single day for the forthcoming 11 months, until it sprouts up again next summer, just to use it up”–well, if that’s what they meant by “favorite herb,” then yes, mint is indeed my favorite, and definitely deserves to be featured in my submission to the event.  

I do enjoy a good fresh peach, but when I saw three of the fuzzy spheres nestled in our organic produce box a couple of weeks ago, I almost despaired.  A properly ripened peach is a wonderful thing, but there seems to be a terribly small window of maturity wherein peaches are at their apex of flavor and texture–firm, juicy and sweet-tart–before they quickly decline into dry, powdery mush. If not eaten precisely on the right day (sometimes the right hour), the peach becomes unappetizing at best, perhaps suitable for a sauce or baked good; at worst, it’s both tasteless and unpleasant, and destined for the compost bin.

Given the capricious nature of the downy stone fruits, I decided a salad would be the perfect context in which to combine it with other ingredients that could overshadow their potentially less-than-stellar consistency.  Mint was a given, of course, and for some reason, I felt that cucumbers would also suit the flavor palette.  The final addition was sweet corn kernels–partly because they just called, “pick me!” and partly because I thought the color would work well with all the other summer hues, which always elicit a desire in me for fresh fruits and veggies.

In the end, we both adored this random combination of ingredients and have now consumed it four times in the last 2 weeks.  The peaches are tart and luscious (and even the sub-par slices soak up the dressing and seem more juicy); the cucumber is cold, watery and mild; the corn is crisp and sweet; and the mint is pungent and peppery, all culminating in a perfect pastiche of color, flavor and texture.

It’s true, peaches, corn and mint may not have been born for each other; but their arranged marriage in this dish makes for one very harmonious union.  

Minted Peach and Corn Salad

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

This salad comes together quickly, resulting in a fresh, crisp, juicy, altogether irresistible side dish for almost any warm weather meal.  It’s best eaten right away, but will keep for a day in the refrigerator.

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! 

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.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I'm focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible.  Today's avocado-based recipe also happens to be quick and incredibly easy, the criteria for my Flash in the Pan recipes--so it straddles both categories!] 

 

Think smooth and creamy.  Think easy and delicious. Think sandwich spread, base for sandwich fillings, foundation for dips or savory pâtés.  Think avocado mayonnaise!

This incredibly quick and equally irresistible recipe comes from the wondrous Dr. Ben Kim’s Natural Health website.  A chiropractor and acupuncturist based in Barrie, Ontario, Dr. Kim is also a fount of information on all things holistic, and he offers incredible material about healthy eating–all for free through his newsletter, of which I am an avid fan (and no, I’ve never actually met the man, just in case you think there’s a little nepotism going on here–I just really think his info is great!).

I whipped up this mayo and enjoyed a daub on some steamed artichokes, but by the time I’d finished eating them, I knew I was hooked.  I plopped some over ripe, juicy slices of beefsteak tomato for a lunch appetizer and was enthralled.  After the first taste, I wanted to scoop this out of the bowl with a spoon (come to think of it, I did scoop this out of the bowl with a spoon).

You can use this as you would any other mayo, in sandwiches, wraps, salads (it would be heavenly thinned out just a little over field greens–turns out the recipe is very much like the avocado pesto salad dressing I posted about last March).

Avocado and Basil Mayonnaise

from Dr. Ben Kim

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

This creamy, heavenly spread can be used anywhere you’d use regular mayo.  I agree with Dr. Kim:  this is the best vegan mayo I’ve ever tried.

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! 

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.” 

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this third entry, I'm focusing on Avocados. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. ]

[Sorry about the poor focus. . . that free point-and-shoot camera of mine has been rather uncooperative lately. Maybe time to bite the bullet and finally buy a real camera?]

Well, last Wednesday evening was our final Total Health class.  As it’s been all along, the meeting was terrific, though this final gathering wasn’t about education so much as eating.  We were split into groups of three or four people and asked to cook up a couple of recipes each; then we all sat down together and devoured the feast we’d made.  It was a great way to end the course in a social, relaxed fashion.  When the end of session arrived, no one wanted to leave!  We lingered and chatted for an extra 45 minutes before finally filing out of the house (sorry about that, Caroline).  And so, the question remains: what now?  Do I continue to consume my fruit-and-vegetable, raw-leaning diet?  Or do I slide like a 300 ZX on black ice, right back to my chocolate and high-grain days? 

That, my friends, is the 64,000 Calorie question.  Only time will tell, dear readers, only time will tell. . .

But in the meantime, I sure am going to give it my best shot.  And with salads like this one, veggies and fruits never tasted so good.

This is my own adaptation of a Thai-inspired salad the HH and I had many years ago at a cooking class we attended.  The class was a birthday present for my friends Gemini I and Gemini II (whose birthday, as it turns out, is on the same day!) about ten years ago.  Six of us cooked together and then shared our meal (sort of like Wednesday’s class, come to think of it, except the Thai meal wasn’t nearly as healthy).  I’m not sure why, but I still have a crystal clear vision of the HH that long-ago night, as he chopped onions, sliced mango and juiced limes. . . hmm, perhaps because that was the last time he voluntarily chopped onions, sliced mango, or juiced limes?  Oh, no, silly me–he juices limes all the time; you need those for gin and tonics. 

Anyway, the original salad didn’t contain avocado, of course, but one day I just threw it in, and it made such a perfectly compatible addition to the mix that the mangos and avocados have been keeping company ever since (they’re practically engaged by now).  I’ve also tinkered a little with the seasonings over the years to create what I think is the perfect dressing for this salad.  In fact, the combination of tastes is so summery, so refreshing and so tantalizing that I’ve even been known to eat this salad for breakfast (What? Fruit for breakfast is good for you!).  I use a combination of mint and cilantro, but if you’re not a fan of either, you can leave it out.  (And if you’re short on mint, feel free to drop by my place and grab some from the massive waves of green beside the house–see right). 

Besides tasting great, this dish offers a sweet treat for the eyes as well.

As I mentioned earlier, avocados are a fantastic source of heart-healthy monounsaturates.  But mangos are no slouch in the hale-and-hearty department, either; they’re rich in antioxidant vitamins C and beta carotene, fiber, and potassium.  With all these cardiac benefits, I’ve decided to submit this recipe to Ilva of Lucullian Delights, who is hosting her monthly Heart of the Matter event featuring heart-healthy salads this month. 

Mango Avocado Salad

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

This refreshing salad combines all five flavors common in Thai cooking: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy, in perfect proportions.  Great as an appetizer or side salad, this dish is best eaten fresh–though we’ve never had leftovers to worry about in our house, anyway!

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“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.” 

I can hardly believe that my Grain Drain detox week is already at an end (that, and the fact I’ve posted a measly TWO food-related blog entries about it!). 

The dearth of recipes this past week was due, in part, to an incredibly hectic schedule–there was a multitude of student assignments to mark (strange how the mountain of marking on my desk seemed to keep growing of its own accord, like a bizarre form of paper parthenogenesis or something); an unexpected, last-minute baking order to fill (birthday cakes are fun, but they do take time); and my regular monthly book club a couple of nights ago (lovely, as always–such a pleasure to chat with the gals–but turns out we were all a bit disappointed with Trillin’s tribute to his wife, tender as it was.)  

Another reason for the paltry recipe output has been my own shift in appetite during the past week.  Even though I consumed three squares and several snacks a day, I was drawn to old, familiar dishes for the most part, and felt no impetus to experiment in the kitchen.  Whether this change in attitude is connected to the cleanse or not, I have no idea.  I did, however, cook up one or two worthwhile grain-free dishes, so I will definitely share those in drops and dollops over the next while.

Some of you have asked how I felt during the cleanse.  Overall, it was a success.  There were some expected–and some highly unexpected–results.

As with any cleanse, I went through a bit of a detox reaction for the first couple of days, though nothing as dramatic as my first healing crisis a decade ago.  I felt fatigued, a bit lethargic, and experienced a few mild cravings for the first day.  Then, somehow, the toggle switch governing consumption was flicked and I was able to spend the rest of the week happily ingesting only those healthy foods I’d selected for the cleanse:  fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans/legumes (or pulses, depending on your geographical location). 

In general, my diet consisted of the following types of foods: for breakfast, I might have fresh fruit and nut butter (or nuts and seeds), alternating with freshly squeezed vegetable juice or a smoothie (and the occasional Earth Bowl).  Lunches consisted of salad with more nuts/seeds if I felt hungry; snacks were fruits and vegetables or some kind of raw bar or nibble; and dinner was typically a cooked dish with vegetables and/or nuts or legumes.  I kept the meals relatively simple–perhaps my body was telling me I needed simplicity in at least one area of my life this week!

By day three, I was feeling lighter and more energetic.  Congested sinuses–a constant companion for as long as I can remember–cleared considerably, and I was able to breathe clearly for the first time in months.  (That outcome alone has got me wondering whether I’m harboring undiagnosed allergies to grains.)

Now, for the unexpected.  I must admit I was entirely amazed at how easy the process felt (and if you’ve read my blog before, you know that avoiding chocolate and sweets is generally anything but easy for me).  After the first few cravings, I was able to virtually forget about chocolate and simply eat good, hearty, nourishing foods.  At the same time, my portion size seemed to shrink all on its own volition, almost without help from me.  I feel certain I’ve lost some weight, if only a milligram (will report on the Progress Tracker at the end of the course). 

I did experience a couple of odd detox reactions, however.  According to Paul Pritchard (as well as many other holistic practitioners) in Healing with Whole Foods, the liver is the seat of anger in the body.  In other words, mess with the liver and you might just stir up some pretty unattractive emotions.  Well, I’m here to report that yes, the theory happens to be true!  As my liver was flushed of toxins, my emotional fuse shrank along with the portion sizes and I’m afraid I snapped at the poor HH on more than one occasion (The Girls, of course, were left unscathed).  Now I understand why people run off to spas to detox–at least they won’t take out their burbling anger on their families that way!

It appears that another odd effect of eating healthfully–and I’m loathe to admit this–is that my sense of humor has temporarily gone MIA.  (I know, I know; that sounds too much like the stereotypcal “grunchy granola,” dour and pasty-faced, terribly gaunt and proselytizing vegetarian that carnivores envision when they hear the word, “vegan.” Well, lucky for me, I’ll never be accused of that transgression–no one in their right mind would ever call me “gaunt”!).  I’m not quite sure where it’s hiding, but the rapier wit seems to have departed with the chocolate this past week (oh, please, please do NOT tell me there’s a correlation between the two, that one relies on the other to exist.  A choice between humor, or chocolate?  That would be a choice as agonizing as Sophie’s.)

In any case, to acknowledge my “graduation” from the cleanse, I prepared one very special raw dessert: Raw Milky Way Bars.  I first spied these on Terilyn’s The Daily Raw Café about a month ago and immediately knew I’d have to try them. They seemed the perfect finale to a great week of healthy eating–a little decadent, but still rife with wholesome raw nuts, dates, and natural sweeteners. 

And they were, indeed, thoroughly enjoyable, though I’d add a little caveat if you plan to try them.  While the flavors were astonishingly good (and very close to what I recall as the original mix of flavors in the candy bar), the chocolate coating firms up only when fully frozen–and begins to thaw immediately upon removal from the freezer (or, perhaps, this was simply a function of our humid, 31C–about 88F–temperature here today).  No problem there, as long as you eat the bars straight from the freezer. 

However, if you (as I do) prefer the nougat and caramel at room temperature, you’re out of luck; you’ll end up with a cube of yummy nougat dripping with slick, sticky chocolately coating.  In fact, I found the nougat filling, a mix of powdered nuts and agave nectar, to be so enticing on its own that I plan to use it as a filling in regular chocolates, made with a bittersweet chocolate coating.  But that’s for another day.

In the meantime, I thought I’d close with a play on the “graduation” theme and join in the fun prom meme introduced by Alicia at Grumpy Chair Dieter.  She suggests that we all pull out our prom photos and post them. 

 Well, unfortunately, I couldn’t find my prom photo (aww, gee, and I so wanted to share it!). Instead, I managed to suss out this ancient photo (taken before the advent of digital cameras–gasp!) from my “Sweet 16″ party (hmm, now I wish I had found the prom photo. . . ). 

Yes, that is I, braces and all.  Dig that dress! Dig that hair!  Perhaps most shocking of all–I considered myself “obese” at the time.  These days, I’d be thrilled if my thighs were as small as my waist was then.  Thanks, Grumpy Chair, for prompting me to browse through those old photos and get some perspective!

Have a good weekend, all. And now, I’m off to go eat some grains!

Raw Milky Way Bars (from The Daily Raw Café)

 Reminiscent of the chocolate candy bar of the same name, these are actually pretty good for you.  I made 1/3 recipe (I was afraid I’d eat them all otherwise), and it worked out just fine. 

Nougat Filling:

1 cup (250 ml.) raw almonds, unsoaked (dry)

1 cup (250 ml.) raw cashews, unsoaked (dry)

3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) agave nectar

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) water, or more if needed

Caramel Topping:

1 cup (250 ml.) dry unsweetened dates

1/4 cup (60 ml.) pure maple syrup

juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) coconut oil

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 cup (250 ml.) water (I used much less–it would have been watery otherwise)

“Milk” Chocolate Coating

1 cup (250 ml.) pure cocoa powder

1 cup (250 ml.) pure maple syrup

1/2 cup (125 ml.) coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup (60 ml.) water

Soak the dates in the water and lemon juice for an hour.  Drain and reserve soaking liquid. Meanwhile, make the nougat.

Nougat: In a coffee grinder, grind the cashews in small batches into a fine powder. Remove. Process the almonds the same way.

Place the nut powders in a large bowl. Add the agave and water, and mix with your (clean) hands until the mixture is thick and paste-like.  (Fun to lick it off your fingers, too!)

Place a piece of plastic wrap on a cutting board.  Form the nougat into a long rectangular bar on top of the plastic wrap.  Place the board in the freezer for an hour.

Caramel: To make the caramel, process the soaked dates, coconut oil and sea salt in a blender. Use the soaking liquid, one tablespoon at a time, to soften the mixture as you blend.  Blend until you achieve a thick creamy mixture.

Spread the caramel in a long strip on top of the nougat (use a knife or offset spatula to spread it evenly across the top of the rectangle). Return to the freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

Chocolate: In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, maple syrup, and coconut oil together until smooth and creamy.  

Pour the chocolate over the candy pieces and freeze an additional hour or until the chocolate sets.  Use any extra chocolate to drizzle patterns over the tops of the bars.  Yields 15-20 small bars.

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“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.” 

Years ago, I visited a career counsellor to determine the profession best suited to my personality (turns out I should have been a Human Resources professional or a researcher). Part of the assessment was a test in which you enumerate your ten most prominent personality traits.  To help me decide, the counsellor suggested I ask friends or family members who knew me well for their ideas, as they’d be better able than I to assess my personality objectively. 

The trait that surfaced most often for me was “reliable.”  It took a while to get over being slightly offended by the label; I’ve since come to understand that “reliable” doesn’t necessarily equate with “stodgy, boring, predictable.”  Besides, as my HH is fond of saying, it’s just one of my “dog-like qualities.”  (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that, right, Mum?”)

Well, so far this week, “reliable” seems to characterize the foods I’ve been drawn to as well.  For the first few days of the cleanse, I found myself experiencing odd cravings (which might have been alarming if I weren’t past child-bearing age) for raw veggies and other simple, unadorned foods. Curious, since I’m not particularly enamored of salad as a rule (sort of how I feel about Dancing with the Stars: if it’s there in front of me, I can watch it and even enjoy it; but I’d never actively seek it out.)

Of course, if I stopped to think about it, I’d likely discover that a good portion of my typical dinner entrées lack grains, and I generally cook them up without another thought.  So why, now that I’m actually trying to prepare interesting dishes for the Grain Drain, do I seem to be stumped?

Enter old reliables.  You know the type: like that gay pal you had as an undergrad, your perma-date who accompanied you to every important family function or work-related event; like that pair of respectable pumps you store in pristine condition in their original shoebox, just in case you’re summoned unexpectedly to a job interview; or like your most cherished friend, the one you could call without hesitation at 11:38 PM on a weeknight after you learned that Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants) was returning to his old girlfriend, and you needed a shoulder to cry on (thanks, Gemini I).  In the realm of food, these are my go-to salads. 

These are the salads we consume time and again, making minor adjustments depending on availability of local ingredients, what’s on hand in the kitchen, or shifting tastes as the seasons drift from one to the next. And since they are so familiar to so many of us, I thought I’d collect them here–a trio of fruits, roots and leaves (isn’t that what a panda eats?  Or is it some weird grammatical construction?).

Most of our salads in the DDD household are fairly rudimentary, tried-and-true affairs that probably appear on many of your own tables in slightly varied formats.  Tossed greens, coleslaw, three bean–they’re comfort foods you turn to when cooking feels like an onerous task, the dishes you could whip up without a recipe, the ones that over time, perhaps, become your signature dishes.  Even if they’re tweaked a bit over the years, they still retain their original essence and appeal.  These recipes are as reliable as that newspaper rolled in its heavy, scuffed elastic band, delivered to your front porch each morning; as basic as your little black dress; as comfortable as the warm sand between your toes on a sunny beach. 

First up is a standard greens-and-veggies combo.  This Greens with Hearts of Palm and Pine Nuts is the same salad that accompanied my Sweet Potato and Kasha Burgers a while back, about which some of you expressed an interest.  The colors are remarkably vivid, and for a salad that’s this easy to make, the taste is astonishing.  This is one of my all-time favorite green salads.

I also enjoyed a coleslaw that I’ve been preparing since my twenties.  Originally the recipe of my room mate’s older sister, it was the first in which I’d tasted fruit (raisins) in coleslaw, and I was instantly smitten.  In those days, I made the dressing with a combination of plain yogurt and mayonnaise, but I find that any vegan mayonnaise works just as well.  It provides a lovely tang along with the soft sweetness of chewy raisins and juicy crunch of fresh cabbage. Both refreshing and satisfying!

Finally, I mixed up a three bean salad–you know the one, the centerpiece at all those family Bar B Q’s from your childhood, the same one that occupies a huge bowl on almost every restaurant buffet.  I adapted this one from Chuck and Gurney’s 125 Best Vegan Recipes, as I couldn’t find my original (cadged from another graduate student way back during my PhD). I imagine you could substitute almost any beans you like, but for me, it wouldn’t be “classic” without kidney beans and chick peas.

These are the multiple-encore salads in our house–and you can count on a great performance from all three.

And since Salad Number 3 in the lineup is a perfect choice for Lisa and Holler’s No Croutons Required event (this month, the focus is on soups or salads with beans or legumes/pulses), I’m sending it along there as well. You can check out the roundup after the 20th of the month.

Greens with Hearts of Palm and Pine Nuts

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 Because the vegetables here are so radiant on their own, I snapped the photo before dressing the salad.  With so many flavors coexisting in harmony here, the dressing is actually very light. And you can vary virtually every part of the salad: use your favored greens instead of the organic mixed greens; use walnuts or almonds instead of pine nuts; or artichoke hearts for hearts of palm–it all works!

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Dilly Coleslaw with Raisins and Walnuts

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This is a perfect side dish for a Bar B Q or light lunch on a really hot day.  It makes a great partner to classic potato salad.  The fresh dill adds some zest to this classic salad.

 

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Classic Three Bean Salad

adapted from 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney

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I love the sharp pungency of the dressing in this salad.  Added fresh mint and tarragon elevates it beyond the buffet table.

 

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Prufrock Special*

June 6, 2008

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

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“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

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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

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