A spoonful of sprouts

March 31, 2008 at 6:39 pm (garden, growing, photos, recipes, salad, sides, vegan, vegetables) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It’s a wet, grey day outside, and rather cool and dark inside. It might seem bleak if it weren’t harvest day. Yep, today my wee little sprouts became food, and their crisp greenness offered a nice reminder that spring’s lying just beneath that melting snow out there.

Cilantro tabouleh with sprouts A spoonful of sprouts

The mung beans went into cilantro tabbouleh. Even though I’ve been nibbling those for days and throwing some in everything I’ve cooked, I still had a good two loose cups for the salad. Not bad considering I started with just two tablespoons of seed! They turned out a little bitter, apparently because I didn’t hide them away in the dark while they were sprouting. That’s okay, though — I still found them tasty, and the flavour went well with the salad, so it all worked out well.

The broccoli sprouts I used as a garnish. They’re light and fluffy compared to the mung sprouts, and taste like, well, little fiery broccoli bursts. Go figure. I didn’t touch them until today, and what you see in the photos is the entire ‘crop’ — a single spoonful! From an entire seed pack! (I’m not sure how much the packet contained, but definitely less than 2 T.) Must see if I can find a bulk source of seed so that I can sprout more, because otherwise I just won’t be able to grow enough.

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March 30, 2008 at 5:59 pm (baking, bread, events, links, photos, vegan) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Sorry, vegan zombie joke. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, last night was Earth Hour, and so at 8pm we shut off all the lights and non-essential electronics. Most of our complex went dark — there was only a single light on outside one house. My housemate flaked on the couch and read an ebook on his palm pilot. I lit a half dozen candles (mmmmm, beeswax) and spent some time looking through cookbooks. Paper cookbooks. (gasp!) Ultimately I found a bread recipe close to what I’ve been wanting, and started bread by candlelight.

Baking by candlelight 12-grain bread

Many hours later, after Earth Hour ended and we’d (eventually) put some lights back on, a very tired me pulled these out of the oven. The original recipe was for Mollie Katzen’s sunflower-millet bread from Enchanted Broccoli Forest (a Moosewood cookbook), but I veganized the recipe and converted it to a 12-grain loaf by the very simple expedient of substituting a multigrain cereal mixture for the millet. It’s hands-down the healthiest bread I’ve ever made, and also the best ‘sandwich bread’ — it slices perfectly, and has a good, non-crumbly texture. Probably won’t last long. Half a loaf is on its way to a sick friend, and the other half is almost gone too. Good thing I made two loaves. πŸ˜‰

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March 29, 2008 at 10:25 pm (desserts, events, ideas, links, local, photos, raw, salad, sweet things, treats, vegan, vegetables) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Today was a blast. I got up too early (any morning hour is too early on a weekend), grabbed a quick shower, and headed downtown to the Kitchener market to meet K. We found each other, and then spent a pleasant hour or so wandering around, restocking on fruits and veggies. Eventually we headed to her place to drop off our things and say hi to their adorable dog Sammy, and then it was off around the corner for our raw food workshop.

The workshop was two hours of numminess, with a side helping of good company. We were joined by around eight others, plus our instructor. She started us off with edamame hummous dip, which was quite fresh tasting. Then we each received a plate of several samples:

Raw food samples

Clockwise from the bottom, you’re looking at bean-free refried beans, mango salsa, dairy-free sour cream, corn tortillas, and guacamole.

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March 28, 2008 at 6:07 pm (garden, growing, random, reviews, vegetables) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

My sprouts are sprouting, hurray!

The mung beans have actually been very sprouty for a while — I’ve been nibbling them already, and threw a good half cup into last night’s vegan Kung Pao Chik’n. The broccoli sprouts were proving more reticent, but today they seemed to hit critical mass and I can really see them bursting out of their seeds. Very cool.

Mung bean sprouts

On the sprouters themselves, I can see why stacked multi-tiered sprouters are popular. They let you sprout different kinds of seeds simultaneously, and/or stagger your sprouting to get a more regular ‘crop.’ With my two sprouters I can’t start any new seeds until the current ones are ready. Or until I get more mason jars. πŸ™‚

The one specially-made sprouter I’m using is a “Tony Hornick’s sprouter.” It’s basically a metal sieve that sits on top of a plastic dish, with a plastic dome to go overtop. You put your seeds into the sieve, and put water in the dish below. Rinse the seeds/sprouts twice daily, and in a few days you get sprouts. This works well for big seeds like my mungs, but the sieve would never work for the broccoli — the seeds are too small and would fall through. Also, a couple spots on the sieve are already starting to rust from the constant moisture! So while I was originally impressed by its ease of use, I don’t think it’ll be an ideal solution in the long run.

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Earth Hour

March 28, 2008 at 5:54 pm (events, random) (, , , , , , , )

Tomorrow is Earth Hour! If you haven’t heard about it already, it’s an event organized by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) to encourage awareness of climate change. It’s easy to participate too — just turn off your lights between 8pm and 9pm. Really, that’s it! You can turn off more if you like, of course.Β  πŸ™‚Β  I don’t know about other countries, but I know that here in Canada a lot of cities are officially getting in on the act too, and turning off or reducing the lighting in many public buildings and landmarks — places like Niagara Falls and the CN Tower.

What can turning the lights off for a mere hour do? Well here’s a quote from the event’s Facebook page:

“Last year, on 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney (Australia) businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,616 cars off the road for a year.”

Just a bit more proof that small things can make a difference. So why not turn your lights off for an hour tomorrow evening and have a late dinner by candlelight, or go for a walk and see if the stars are any clearer?

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March 27, 2008 at 7:34 pm (links, photos, raw, recipes, sides, vegan) (, , , , , , , , , )

Today I found myself craving pasta and so, inspired by the Raw Food Wednesday posts on one of my favourite blogs, I tried my hand at making raw zucchini fettucine with a basil-kale pesto.

Raw fettucine with basil-kale pesto

It was surprisingly tasty. I wasn’t sure I’d like the raw zucchini ‘noodles,’ but they had a nice texture and added flavour to the whole. To make them I just peeled and trimmed a zucchini, then used my vegetable peeler to whittle off noodles until I reached the core.

Basil-kale pesto

  • 1 1/2 cups kale, destemmed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn up
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 T dried sundried tomatoes, minced (mine come that way, which makes life easier)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used my rosemary-thyme oil, which made the results extra tasty)

How to:

  1. Pulse the kale, basil, and nutritional yeast in a food processor until gooey.
  2. Add the pine nuts, walnuts, and garlic, processing until fully ground and blended with the kale.
  3. Add the sundried tomatoes then, while the processor is running, drizzle the oil in gradually.
  4. Taste, add salt if and as needed.

This tastes very good with tomatoes. πŸ™‚

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The prettiest salsa

March 26, 2008 at 11:49 pm (photos, random, recipes, sides, vegan, vegetables) (, , , , , , , , , , )

At long last, I took a shot at making a beet-mango salsa. It’s pretty tasty for a first try. My only regret is that I used half my mango to make apple-mango crisp last night, so I only made about half as much salsa as I’d actually like to eat. πŸ™‚

Beet-mango salsa

Regarding the beets — I roasted those rather than boiling or steaming them, in order to bring out their sweetness and preserve their colour. Their skins proved thin and tender enough that I didn’t even bother peeling them.

Beet-mango salsa

  • 1/2 mango, chopped smallish (~3/4 cup)
  • 2 small roasted beets, cooled to room temperature and chopped similarly smallish (~1 cup)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 small lime, juiced
  • 2 T fresh coriander, minced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar [optional; you may not need this if your beets and/or mango are particularly sweet]

How to:

  1. Chop up the mango, beets, and green onions, then toss together in a glass bowl.
  2. Add the coriander and lime juice, toss again.
  3. Taste. Add sugar if necessary.
  4. Let sit for a little while to let flavours blend, then eat!

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Lentil lurv

March 25, 2008 at 7:08 pm (baking, cookies, desserts, dinner, photos, recipes, soup, sweet things, treats, vegan) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

For some strange reason there’s a conspiracy of lentils this week. I certainly didn’t set out to make an all-lentil dinner, but that’s what I ended up with. How can you go wrong with lentils, though?

First there was lentil soup. Lemony lentil soup. I had a small heap of lemons in the crisper, and a shiny new bag of beluga lentils (which at 24% apparently boast the highest amount of protein of all the lentils). I figured these had to go together. The results? Zingy! Fabulously zingy. I won’t be getting scurvy anytime soon. Served with sweet potato fries, it was very hearty. This might be my new favourite soup; the recipe’s below.

Lemony lentil soup Lentil cookies

And after dinner? Lentil cookies. As soon as I knew such a thing existed, I had to make them. And omg, yum! Fresh from the oven they were light and crispy on the outside, and full of cranberry-cherry tastiness. Instant love. The original recipe is easily veganized (sub Earth Balance for butter, egg replacer for the egg). For extra flavour I simmered my lentils in light coconut milk with a goodly pinch of nutmeg and maybe a half teaspoon of mace. (Vanilla rice milk would probably be equally good.) I also toasted my oats in the toaster oven while doing other things. (325F, stirred twice, maybe 6 minutes?) For some reason my cookies took an extra couple minutes to bake, but that might just be an oven variation. Regardless, these are fabulous, particularly when toasted for a few minutes to crisp them up. I suspect they’ll make my top-3 list of cookies long before I finish eating them all. Besides, they have protein and fruit in them, so they’re healthy, right?

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Spring sprouts

March 25, 2008 at 7:35 am (amusements, garden, growing, random, vegetables) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Growing up, one of the first signs of spring was always the arrival of our seed catalogs. We’d have snow on the ground, but summer in our daydreams as we covered our fingers in newsprint, thumbing the pages, planning the garden. I didn’t realize how much I missed that until today, when I wandered through the cozy little garden section of our local hardware store. It’s an old-fashioned kinda place, as much a seed store as a hardware store. Wandering the aisles of seed packets made me miss the old excitement of garden planning.

Of course, the whole reason I was there was because I was garden planning. Sort of. Kinda. This winter a lot of factors came together and my housemate and I found ourselves trying to eat more vegetables, more local vegetables, and more organic vegetables. But winter being winter, our options were a bit limited. By some miracle our little indoor cherry tomato plant kept producing all season, but one or two wee tomatoes a week didn’t sate us, and a steadier supply meant buying tomatoes from Mexico or California. Ditto for peppers, and even organic spinach. I think we’ve done pretty well, making some compromises, some dietary changes. But still…I got to dreaming. What if we could have a small, steady supply of fresh greens next winter? Tomatoes might be too much to hope for…but spinach? Basil? Salad greens?

Yeah, I started dreaming of gardening without a garden. Condo gardening. Hydroponics.

I think I’m crazy. It’s probably just a bad case of spring fever. And yet…

The “and yet” was what lured me into the garden area earlier today. I figured I’d try a very small scale experiment, the absolute easiest and cheapest way of dipping my toes in the water — sprouting. So I picked up some mung beans and broccoli seeds (and learned from the helpful Garden Guy to look for “untreated” seeds when sprouting). These promptly went into one premade sprouter (I’ll take a picture later) and one homemade sprouter (like this, but using cheesecloth and an elastic band instead of a premade mesh strainer). In three days I should have sprouts, a veritable garden in a bottle. πŸ™‚

I know I have at least 72 hours to wait, but I’ve turned into a five year old. I swear I’ve poked at the sprouts every hour. Sprouted yet? Now? Now? Now? Now?…

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Say ‘Sheese!’

March 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm (dinner, photos, recipes, vegan) (, , , , , , , , )

Some days call for comfort food, and for that it’s hard to beat macaroni and cheese. I found myself in the mood last week, had a block of Sheese in the fridge, and so took a stab at ‘veganizing’ my old macaroni and cheese recipe. It turned out better than the original dairy version.

Macaroni and Sheese Macaroni and Sheese

And just because I’m clearing the camera of photos, here’s a pic of my slow cooker from last week, all set to make lentil and wild rice stew…

Slow cooker lentil wild rice stew

And now if you’ll ‘scuse me, I’m off to make lentil cookies. Yes, you read that right.Β  =)


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