January 12, 2009
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! Please visit the shiny new home of DDD by clicking here.
[Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.” (For other FitP recipes, see “Categories” at right).]
[With Collards, Chard and Red Onion]
It’s been a truly crazy past week, what with our new semester starting up today at the college and my cookbook deadline being perilously close.* (And let’s not forget the Golden Globes from last evening–didn’t B & A look marvelous amidst the hubub and Moet & Chandon? And did you hear that Tracy Morgan is the new face of the US? But Mamma Mia, that Ms. Streep is timeless! ) With all that, there’s been no time for handiwork in the kitchen.
Instead, here’s what I’ve been eating lately–and by “lately,” I mean pretty much every day. I’ve made this three times in the past six days: it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s delicious and it contains nature’s most nutritious vegetables, leafy greens. And with all the deep browns, ochres, ambers and ecrus I’ve been consuming over the past few weeks, I figured it was time for some green.
[With Collards and Yellow Onion]
Besides, I adore leafy greens and have been trying to include them in my diet more often. Jagged, zippy dandelion greens are like the tough kid in the schoolyard, the punk who wears his black leather jacket like a trophy and loiters in the corner of the schoolyard chain-smoking. With a hard and bitter exterior, he’s really a sweetheart once you get to know him. Collards, with their elegant, frond-like shape, are the modern jazz dancers of the group, deftly swaying side to side as they harmoniously meld the delicate and the cacophonous. And kale, my very favorite, is the ditzy neighbour, the plucky, perky best friend, the Mary Richards of leafy greens; she fidgets and bobs and sighs histrionically, clad in her ruffly collar and matching cuffs–she’s a little wacky, maybe, but always honest and reliable. How could you not love greens?
This dish was created when I had intended to try out a recipe for brussels sprouts and apples I read about on Vegalicious a while back. When I discovered I had no sprouts, I opted for the greens instead (heck, they’re all brassicas, right?). Using the other recipe for inspiration, I threw this together. It was ready in ten minutes, and I was left to marvel that something so simple could taste so good.
The barely-wilted greens are chewy and toothsome, while the apples and onions, having softened and caramelized slightly, provide a balancing sweetness to the slightly bitter leaves. The addition of lemon juice here, besides imparting an appealing tang, renders the minerals in the vegetables more bio-available (and thereby more easily absorbed) so you can best benefit from their high mineral content.
* As to the cookbook, right now, it looks as if the publication date will be mid-April; I’ll report back as soon as I’m given a “firm” date from the publisher. What this means, however, is that my blogging may become slightly more sporadic over the next few weeks, as will my commenting on other blogs. But know that I’ll keep reading and enjoying all of your blogs even if I don’t make my presence known. And I do hope that you will still comment here–I always look forward to, and read, every single comment on this site–it is truly a high point in my day!
Sautéed Greens with Onions and Apples
inspired by this recipe
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
January 3, 2009
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! Please visit us at the shiny new home of DDD, by clicking here.
First, and most importantly: Happy 2009, everyone! Thank you all so much for your wonderful comments and good wishes for the new year. I can’t even begin to express how much I appreciate them all and how much blogging has brought into my life. But by far, the best part is you–readers and other bloggers. Thank you for sharing 2008 with me, and I look forward to 2009!
The HH and I (sans The Girls, unfortunately, as our Elsie Girl refuses to play nice with the other five dogs who live there) spent another lovely, bucolic New Year’s Eve with my friends Gemini I and II and their broods up at Gemini I’s palatial country “cottage.” We ate, we drank, and Gemini II’s hubby lit fireworks just before midnight, when we toasted in 2009. The rest of the time, we chillaxed to the max, reading in front of the fireplace, watching ice fishers huddled by their hut atop the lake, taking photos of indigenous birds perched at the feeder outside the window, or working as a group on the massive, 2-page annual crossword puzzle that’s printed in The Globe and Mail. I didn’t even mind the snow and ice (a New Year’s Eve miracle!).
And now, back to reality. . . and back to business.
Although I more or less threw resolutions out the window many years ago (really, don’t I already know I’ll want to lose weight after the holidays?), I do update a list I call my “Five Year Plan.” In it, I write down goals for the following six months, the following year, two years, and five years. I try to arrange them so that the earlier goals might naturally precede the later goals (eg., six months: take a course in html; one year: design own web page).
Okay, so maybe it’s just another version of resolutions after all. . .but this long-term view has worked well for me in the past: one of the most unusual “goals” that came to fruition was “work with a business coach–for free”; and so far, the best one (way back before I met the HH) was “own my own home,” something I’m adding back to the list this year, now that we’ve been renting for. . . well, far too long.
I’ve decided that this list works best when it’s kept private, as last year’s list, while not that different from the ones I wrote before it, was a total bust. Instead of losing 50 pounds over the past 50 weeks or so, I’ve gained about four (definitely more than the “1.5 pound” holiday average. My parents always encouraged me to try to be above average, so I guess I can say I’ve accomplished that now).
Still, I believe the concept is a great one and one that most people should try at least once. As the famous Harvard study demonstrated, those who write down their goals (as opposed to simply thinking of them) tend to concretize them, and the goals are more apt to come true. For whatever reason, putting something down on paper triggers a mechanism in the brain that impels you to action. I will share the easiest goal on my list, though: remain part of the blogging world, and keep blogging regularly. That one, at least, I know will be pure pleasure to enact!
Before I bid 2008 adieu permanently, however, I wanted to share the amazing Indian feast we had when the CFO visited at Christmas time. Although our meal on December 25th was relatively traditional, it was this one (the following night) that became the high point of holiday meals for us.
[Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce]
I first discovered Indian cuisine about 10 years ago, after having to change my diet dramatically and seek out foods that met my dietary challenges. At the time, being both a meat eater and a wheat eater, those challenges were plentiful.
Then I began to frequent Indian restaurants. Most dishes were not only wheat-free, but gluten-free as well! And the vegetarian/vegan options seemed endless. Here in Toronto, many Indian restaurants operate as all-you-can-eat buffets. These ostensibly boundless displays of vegetable- and legume-based dishes were dazzling and even a bit overwhelming at first, as I was determined to try every dish in my new culinary repertoire. (Eventually, I realized, many of those dishes had been sitting out under warming lights for hours, or were thrown together from leftovers of two or more of the previous day’s dishes; I began to opt for sit-down restaurants instead).
It seemed natural to attempt to re-create those spicy, saucy, succulent meals at home. I bought a couple of Indian cookbooks and went to work. In those days, I cooked a lot of chicken and meat dishes, some of which I’ve converted over the years. Perhaps it was curry overload; perhaps I assumed I’d never achieve a comparable result without the meat. For whatever reason, I hadn’t cooked a full Indian meal in some time.
Then I remembered that the CFO was also a fan of the cuisine and had an idea to whip up our own little Indian buffet as a post-Christmas dinner. The results were stellar, and made me wonder why I’ve neglected those recipes for so long.
Our meal included a fabulous multi-lentil dal based on Lisa’s recipe (my only change to the original recipe was using three types of lentil instead of lentils and moong beans); peas in a creamy sauce; curried potatoes and kale; and cheela (chickpea pancakes) along with basmati rice. While the potato dish was pretty much a haphazard combination of leftover tomato sauce, chopped kale, and chunks of spud, I did take note of the other recipes and can share them here.
Each of these dishes on its own would make a warming, satisfying light meal; put them together, and you’ve got a memorable finale to an eventful year.
One definite item in my next 5-Year Plan: Cook Indian more often.
Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce
Super quick and easy, this side dish provides a lovely visual contrast to the mostly dull colors of long-simmered curries. The vibrant green and sweet flavor of the peas is perfect as an accompaniment to the intense spice of the other dishes. From an unidentified cookbook–sorry!
Cheela* (Chickpea Pancakes)
adapted from Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends
*From what I can tell, these are also sometimes called pudla. Whatever you call them, they were so remarkably good that we consumed them all before I realized I’d not taken a photo. But other versions abound on the net; for photos, check out the blog posts by Johanna, Lisa, Pikelet and Pie (with zucchini) or (for an Italian twist) Kalyn.
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs
November 26, 2008
I had intended a lovely post today, in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend to the south of us. But time constraints (read: massive, unwieldly pile of essays and assignments to mark) have prevented me from following through. So I’ll just have to wait till the next batch of holidays in December to post about some new, frost-and-snow inspired, treats.
Instead, I thought I’d pull together a few recipes from previous posts that are suitably festive for a holiday table, or the breakfast table the following day (I’ve also got a few detox recipes on the blog–I’ll let you seek those out yourselves, as required). Most of these are fairly quick to make as well, as long as you’ve got the ingredients on hand.
Hope everyone enjoys some togetherness with friends and family, great food, and a bit of time to relax and play.
See you after the holiday!
“Mum, will Elsie be able to play again after the holiday? I mean, it’s just so boring with her out of commission. . . ”
Main Meal Dishes:
- Cranberry Preserves
- Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Bites
- Brussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat
- Sweet Potato and Ginger Salad
- Cauliflower, Parsnip and Bean Mash
- Quinoa, Roasted Beet and Walnut Salad
- Sweet Potato and Carrot Casserole
- Sweet Potato-Cranberry Hash
- Chocolate Pecan Pie
- Holiday Bundt Apple Cake
- Butter Tarts
- Butterscotch Mousse Pie
- Decadent Chocolate Pâté
November 7, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW HOME OF DDD BY CLICKING HERE.
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.”
[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
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!
October 30, 2008
I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here’s today’s “Flash in the Pan.”]
[Oh, and before I continue: notice the photo? Notice anything different? Um, like, actual detail on the food? Well, this here is my very first shot with my new, stunningly beautiful, too-complex-for-my-current-level-of-knowledge, can’t-believe-how-heavy-this-thing-is, smashing and awesome and really, you shouldn’t have but I LOVE IT camera! It was my birthday gift from The HH last week, and I am thrilled to bits with it! (I can’t wait to actually learn how to use it.) 😉 For now, I’m still learning, so please excuse the awkward and unretouched photos that may appear here for a while. . . but wow, just look at those beans!!]
My friend The Architect married his highschool sweetheart this past weekend. Well, not literally. You see, they didn’t actually know each other in high school. However, she teaches high school, and she’s also his sweetheart; so, close enough. As both of them are extremely involved in environmental issues and preserving the local habitat, the wedding was an elegant event in a bucolic setting just north of where we live. And, true to form, the ceremony was outdoors, amid the towering maples and the burbling streams and the chattering squirrels. Oh, and the pelting rain and the occasional snowflake and the sodden leaves being torn from the trees and whipping across our faces path. Because, you see, it was late October. In CANADA. (Let’s just say, I wore earmuffs to the ceremony).*
Still, it was a joyful, enjoyable affair and the HH and I ate, drank, and danced like it was 1999. After so much weekend revelry, I decided I wanted something simple for dinner yesterday.
Now, it’s possible I’ve mentioned before that I am basically a lazy cook. Extremely lazy. And, as I (now) do with chickpeas for the occasional mock tuna salad, I also tend to keep cans of baked beans on hand for those occasional evenings when I crave their sweet, soft, quick and filling nourishment.
I didn’t even realize there existed specifically vegan baked beans until I was an undergrad in university, when I first lived (and cooked) on my own. Because my mother was an unacknowledged vegetarian herself, the only kind of baked beans she ever used were the “in tomato sauce” flavor (naturally vegan). In university, however, my room mate was the grocery shopper. One week, I requested canned baked beans, and she brought home the bacon beans. I opened the can in anticipation of my usual leguminous fulfillment. What I encountered, instead, was a single cube of pasty, greyish-white, gelatinous pork fat. At first, I couldn’t imagine what it was, but then I read the label and. . . wow, you wouldn’t believe how those saucy beans stick to the inside of the garbage can.
I love to eat baked beans just as they are, with a plump spelt bagel torn into pieces that I use to sop up the sauce. The Nurse doctors hers up with kethcup, mustard, maple syrup, corn kernels (!) and hot dogs (blech); the CFO makes hers from scratch (also vegan, but that’s just a coincidence). Lately, I’ve been trying to eat greens every day, so I thought about combining the beans with something dark and leafy. As it happened, my mind was already on steamed greens since I read about kale boiled in stock on Orangette (but 30 minutes? Molly, is that really necessary?) and Sally’s latest post on Beans and Greens. I figured, why not use up some chard I had in the house? Molly served her kale with eggs; and don’t those beans have a naturally ovoid shape? It was meant to be(an).
You won’t believe how easy this dish is. I loved the textural contrast of the beans’ exterior firmness and slightly creamy interior, set against the soft yet springy chard; the sweet-smoky bean sauce and the astringent bitterness of the greens, in every bite. Of course, you could also simply toss the two ingredients together, but those beans look so much more jewel-like when nestled sweetly inside the wreath of chard, don’t you think? A perfect way to follow up that weekend of celebrations.
I’ll be away visiting the CFO this weekend, so I’m going to miss all the Halloween fun! However, thanks to the magic of WordPress, I do have a Halloween-inspired post for y’all over the weekend.
Have fun Trick or Treating, everyone!
Baked Beans Nested on Greens
1 large bunch of your favorite leafy greens, washed, trimmed, sliced thin (chop and use stems if possible)
about 1/2 cup vegetable stock, any type
1 can of your favorite baked beans (or homemade if you have them), heated through
Heat the broth in a nonstick frypan or dutch oven over medium heat. Place the stips of greens over the liquid, press down to cover as much as possible, and cover the pan or pot. Reduce heat to low, and cook the greens until just wilted, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the beans according to the directions on the can. Arrange the greens in a wreath on a plate, and gently spoon the hot beans in the center for a nested effect. Eat. Makes 2 servings. (Quick. Easy. Tasty. So simple, a little birdy could almost make it.)
“Mum, the beans look okay, but if that little birdy isn’t doing anything else, you know we’d be happy to, um, dispose of it for you. . . ”
* Let’s also just say, I want to move to California. Or New South Wales. Or the Bahamas. But no, I’m stuck here, where I wore earmuffs, on October 26th. The older I get, the more I realize: comfort trumps fashion, every time. And–why, yes, I do believe this marks the official launch of my “the weather is too cold I hate it I have to move away from here somebody save me” winter weather whingeing. And–lucky you!–it continues unabated, for the next 6 months!
October 27, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE SHINY NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
[No, not “date” as in “dried fruit with pit and high sugar content.” I mean “date” as in the classic Saturday night event, “evening out with someone you like and with whom you might like to be, um, romantic.” ]
It’s been a whirlwind weekend, first, with a birthday dinner (THANKS for all those amazing well-wishes, everyone!) followed immediately by a wedding (the birthday dinner featured the HH and me; the wedding did not). More on both next time, once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath. Today, I’m just as excited to tell you about Date Pasta instead.
When we were undergrads in our 20s, one of the things that welded the friendship between my buddy Sterlin and me was our singleton status. No matter how many relationships and breakups the rest of our friends experienced, and no matter how many blind dates, dating services, personal ads, university parties or fix-ups we two endured, Sterlin and I somehow managed to remain perpertually alone (well, I guess technically we weren’t “alone,” since we spent most Saturday nights with each other–but you know what I mean).
Being permanently unattached until our mid-twenties (okay, fine, late twenties) didn’t mean we ever stopped trying, however. This pasta dish was Sterlin’s go-to recipe pretty much every time she wished to impress a potential boyfriend, or every time she scored a second date. It was quick, it was easy, it was foolproof, guys seemed to like it, and–most important–it was the only dish she knew how to make.
The guys in question, upon being served the pasta, would inevitably utter an appropriately impressed response, then spend an engaging evening drinking wine, gobbling up the pasta, and raving about how good it was, before leaving and never calling again. (What’s up with that, anyway? Was it something we said? Was it our nerdy demeanor? Were they just not that into us? Or were they perhaps paralyzed by our incomparable wit, intelligence and (reasonably) good looks? I guess we’ll never know. ) Despite its inability to produce a lasting relationship, Date Pasta was so good that Sterlin kept making it throughout our university career.
In fact, I was also so impressed with the dish (and ever hopeful about the fact that guys seemed to like it) that I asked for the recipe, and proceeded to cook it up dozens of times myself over the years. It wasn’t until the HH and I were happily ensconced in our current long-term relationship and sharing the same abode that I dared to cook it for him.
And then–magically–when the HH ate it, the curse was broken; he was able to love Date Pasta, and still love me, too.
I hadn’t eaten Date Pasta in years, though. First of all, the HH and I no longer go on “dates” (well, I suppose you could say our weekly sushi lunch together might qualify, but still). More importantly, however, the ingredient list of the original recipe contained spicy capicola salami, cut into cubes and flash-fried along with the other ingredients. These days, I feel about salami sort of the same way I feel about steak. When I altered my diet ten years ago, I placed the recipe in a file folder, and forgot about it.
This past week, the HH’s friend the Engineering Guru came over for dinner. Could it be that he resembled a guy I fancied in high school? Or maybe it was that he’s tall and strapping and I know he, like the HH, is an avid meat eater? Whatever the reason, Date Pasta came to mind. The HH even remembered it from our early days and enthusiastically coerced browbeat badgered encouraged me to whip it up again. So I did what I often do when cooking for the HH and me: I made a huge batch of the recipe in a meatless format I could enjoy, then let the guys add their own meat to their portions.
Why did I never think of this before? All these years, I’ve been avoiding Date Pasta, and missing out on this remarkably easy and delicious dinner! It’s so chock full of pungent, toothsome, salty and briny add-ins that it almost doesn’t need the pasta, and certainly doesn’t require the meat. Who knows? Maybe if I’d made it this way from the start, I’d have had more success in those early dateless years. (Then again, I would never have enjoyed all those Saturday nights with Sterlin). And so, Date Pasta, welcome back (can’t say that I miss the singleton status, though).
Oh, and now that I’ve finally made another pasta dish, I’m happy to submit this to Melissa at The Cooking Diva, who’s hosting Presto Pasta Nights, the weekly event originated by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.
Date (or any other occasion) Pasta
While this is great as is, if you’re craving a meat stand-in, I think this pasta would be phenomenal with some cubed, smoked tofu as well.
October 22, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED! PLEASE VISIT THE NEW SITE BY CLICKING HERE.
*Or, Raising the Steaks. Or, A Steak in My History.
[No, that is NOT a real steak in the photo! Seriously, it’s a mushroom. No, really.]
Before the days of the Great War, and yet after the infestation of the Rats (Pack), and the invasion of the Insects; when the great pioneers left this land and sought out Greene-er pastures, there was a young girl-child, and she went by the name of Ricki. And she and her sisters were raised to obey and respect their elders; and they were raised to eat with their family; and so they did.
And during that time, The Father, a Butcher, commanded his brood: “You must eat meat, for it is good.” And so they ate meat, and they ate it every night. And on weekends, they ate “mixed grill,” for which they sacrificed the lamb chops, and the beef liver, and the hamburger, and the pig of cloven hoof, and the steak. And they were thankful for the bounty. And it was good.
But then came one day, the child called Ricki was tempted by the graven image of the Golden Arches. And she yearned to enjoy the pleasures of this calf (meat); and she asked, “Father, may I taste a McDonald’s burger?”
And the answer came, “NO!” And the Father said, “All restaurants are crap. You must eat only the meat prepared by your Mother, and only that of the Home Kitchen.”
But the girl-child was rebellious, and so when she visited the wilderness country with her friends Gemini I and Gemini II, she did eat from the Golden Arches. And yes, she thought it was good. And suddenly, with the flash of a thunderbolt, she was stricken down; she felt pain in the abdomen, and pain in the gut, and the burger sought revenge on her. And then, she barfed.
“It was not meant to be,” The Father admonished. “You must listen to me, my child, and never again partake of the tainted meats of the Golden Arches.”
And so the years passed. And yet once again, Ricki rebelled. When she was three and twenty, she determined to partake once more of the fobidden meat. And so she went, of her own volition, and sought out the great king, Harvey. And there she found the freedom of choice, and the selection of the multitude of burgers. And she took pleasure in the ability to have it her own way. And once again, she thought it was good.
And lo, once again, the burger sought retribution. And once again, she barfed.
And then, without warning, Ricki was again struck down. And the shaman proclaimed, “We will draw your blood.” And so they drew her blood; and then they examined it. And the shaman pronounced, “Your albumen levels are too low.” And the trusted healer commanded, “You must eat meat.” And yea, once again, Ricki was swayed. And she and her HH sought out the vast storehouse of the cattle, and they heartily accepted the steak. And so she ate.
And no, this time, she did not barf; but lo, nevertheless the steak tumbled and growled and gurgled in her belly for days, like heavy sand under the turbulent waves.
“No more!” she cried. “I shall eat the meat no more!” And she pounded her fist, and she gazed up to the sky, and she shed a heavy tear.
And Ricki then began her quest in earnest.
She fought mightily, and she sought out a new source of strength and inspiration. She befriended the warrior, Kale, and she was blessed with the tint of the beet juice and the flower flour of the spelt. And she found her salvation in the NAG, and the young bean, and the heavenly nectar of the cactus. And she learned her lesson: while The Father’s intentions were good, Ricki could not trust the meat. And then, she found her peace (and piece–of mushroom). And she and her HH continued to live thus.
* * * * * * * * * *
And so (if you haven’t taken off in a huff yet), what is all this talk of steak and burgers doing on a self-proclaimed vegan blog??
Well, I’ve mentioned before that the HH and I tend to visit our favorite restaurant once or twice a year for very special occasions. One of my favorite dishes is the portobello “steak.” The first time I tasted it, I fairly swooned, but was quickly overtaken by anxiety. I waved madly, summoning the waiter, to ask (in what I’m sure must have been an accusatory tone): “Are you absolutely sure this has no meat in it?” Because, really, it so closely brought to mind my recollection of the taste of steak (not to mention the Parable of the Steak).
“No,” he assured me, “this is our vegan entrée. It’s made without any animal products at all.” Hmm!
“Definitely no animal products?” I persisted. At that, I think he got a bit worried. (It’s like when the HH and I are leaving to do errands on the weekend, and just as I slide my leg into the car, he asks, “Did you lock the front door?” Well, it might be two seconds since I withdrew the key from the lock, but the very question itself has me doubting my own memory, so I get up, go back to the doorknob, and test it again.) “Let me go check,” he said, and trotted off to the kitchen.
A few moments later, he returned to assure me that no, there were no animal products in the dish. Obviously, the chef had spent some time and skill perfecting this recipe, because the flavor and texture were glorious. Intensely juicy, not in the least unyielding as some mushrooms tend to be; it was toothsome and savory, a mushroom to drool over, to rip apart with gusto, to smack your lips about. And yes, it was good.
Well, I knew I had to reproduce that mushroom.
So yesterday, I decided to cook up my own portobello steaks for my birthday dinner (I know, I shouldn’t have been cooking at all on my own birthday. But I’d met my friend Gemini I for breakfast, and then met the HH for lunch, and I basically OD’d on restaurant food. Besides, we’ve got the “real” celebration planned for Saturday evening, and I won’t cook for that). I recalled an inspiring portobello dish on Happy Herbivore’s blog, and thought I could begin with that recipe, then tweak it according to my memory of the “steak.”
I added some oil to the mix (sorry, Lindsay!), more wine and some steak spice to evoke a really robust, hearty and meaty taste. I also marinated the mushrooms for most of the day in the refrigerator before cooking, to infuse them fully with the various flavors.
We both fell in love with this dish. We had the steaks with spanish rice and garlicky kale, and it was a perfect meal. “Keep this one on the repeat list,” the HH directed as mushroom juice trickled down his chin.
The moral of the story? Do not mess with the animal kingdom; but the vegetable kingdom is bountiful, and welcoming, and will bring you much happiness.
And it will be good!
[Thanks, everyone, for all your amazingly supportive comments about my recent weight loss! Slight as it was, it does help to see the little line on the scale move in the “right” direction (that’s correct, I have a spring-loaded, not a digital, scale–call me a luddite). Anyway, it was also my birthday yesterday, so it felt like a pretty good day all around (and wow, that Facebook is quite amazing when it comes to letting people know about significant dates–thanks for all the good wishes!) 🙂 ]
Portobello Steaks (adapted from Happy Herbivore)
A perfect main dish for a cold winter day when you need something robust and filling. As long as you remember to marinate them ahead of time, these come together very quickly.