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
March 19, 2008
DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
Well, it snowed AGAIN yesterday (is this grating on your nerves as much as it’s grating on mine?* I mean, it is now March 19th. Like, what’s up with that? Snow is just. . . so. . . wrong at this time of year. In either hemisphere).
I am yearning for spring like the Tin Man yearns for a heart, like the artist formerly known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” (now known just as “Prince”) yearns for purple, like Hillary yearns for the nomination–but it’s all for naught. It’s still miserable outside. I’m still miserable inside. Oh, woe, oh boo hoo, oh woe is me (shouldn’t that actually be “woe is I”? Ach, whatever.)
Well, if I can’t have a dip in a pool, I’ve decided to just have a dip.
Dips evoke warm weather in my mind. I love me a good hummus, smoothed languidly over falafels on outdoor patios, or lolling atop baby carrots as the HH and I enjoy a relaxed preprandial interlude, watching The Girls fight wrestle frolic on the lawn during summer evenings. Traditional spinach and onion dips, bean dips, veggie dips, even sweet fruit-and-nut dips–they’re all served at outdoor Bar-B-Qs, weekend picnics, or summer wedding buffets.
(“We love dips too, Mum. Especially skinny-dips. How long till we can play in that wading pool again, Mum?”)
As soon as I began to search for dips on other food blogs, I was rewarded with a treasure trove of recipes. A few that intrigued me included Kalyn’s Slow Roasted Tomato Hummus ; Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen’s Shiny Happy Hummus; Farmgirl Fare’s Hot Artichoke-Chard Dip (how can you go wrong with chard?); Green Gourmet Giraffe’s Spiced Carrot Dip; and The Good Eatah’s Super-Simple Magic Bullet Bean Dip (partly because I’ve been fascinated by that Magic Bullet ever since I first saw that cheesy infomercial starring Mimi and Mick, at home with their annoying, hung-over friends).
Still, the dip that beguiled me the most was the Creamy Aspara-Dip from Chocolate Covered Vegan. Brilliantly green and smooth; glossy, even–how could I resist that emerald harbinger of springtime after all these months of desolate winter wasteland?
“The Ugliest Food You’ll Ever Love,” trumpeted the blog entry, and “If you aren’t a vegan, this dip will most assuredly NOT convince you to become one.” I remained undeterred, and not just a little entranced by the radiant, grassy hue. Katie promised to share the recipe with those who asked, so I asked away.
I should pause at this juncture to explain something. I feel extremely fortunate to have begun cooking and baking quite early on, and equally fortunate to have developed a concomitant ability to virtually “taste” a recipe just by reading the ingredients. This sense comes in handy when I want to decide whether or not to try something I’ve never eaten before (pears and balsamic vinegar? Yes. Smoked tofu? Yes. Kale and seaweed salad? Okay. Goji berries and mint? Not so much.)
The HH, on the other hand, was not blessed with this particular brand of sensory imagination. On Sunday mornings (okay, more like afternoons), we’ll sit across from each other at the brunch table, leisurely perusing the National Post, Globe and Mail and Toronto Star as we sip on our respective hot beverages (his: hazelnut-flavored coffee with 10% real cream; mine: Krakus coffee substitute with chocolate flavored almond milk–like a mochaccino!). We’ll occasionally pause to read something of interest to the other across the plates and mugs.
Mostly, the HH reads me stories from the Business section, about how an economic disaster (the likes of which we’ve not seen since 1929) looms, say, or where to find the latest ultra-exclusive audio gadgets (did you know you can buy stereo speakers that cost over $100,000, for instance?). I read to him from stories in the Arts and Life section, about how workplace bullying is more harmful to employees than sexual harrassment, say, or how women who rate their relationships as happiest are the ones whose spouses share at least 50% of the household chores.
Every once in a while, though, I’ll forget that he lacks an ability for conceptual cooking and may emit a remark such as, “Oooh, listen to this: watermelon and basil salad. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?” To which he’ll counter with a response such as, “Bwwwffffzztttt!” (that’s a spontaneous spraying of hazelnut-flavored coffee and 10% real cream over the Business section of the newspaper). Of course, he simply can’t imagine it.
Well, as soon as I read the list of ingredients in Katie’s dip, I knew I’d enjoy it, despite her dip-deprecating comments. And it was, indeed, lip-smackingly, lick-the-spoon delicious: creamy, with a citrusy tang and sweet, green undertones. Though he couldn’t imagine it beforehand, the HH was happy to consume a hearty portion. And it provided us both with a little dip into virtual springtime.
Because this recipe contains not one, but two veggies, it’s the perfect dish to submit to Cate’s weekly ARF/5-A-Day event, over at Sweetnicks. She posts the roundup every Tuesday evening, so feel free to check it out then!
Katie’s Creamy Aspara-Dip
This dip is quick, easy, and, as Katie wrote, “this stuff tastes terrific.” While it’s great on crackers or crudités, I bet it would make an excellent pesto-like dressing for a summer pasta salad as well. If summer ever arrives, that is.