We’re going to try taking the brown rice bowl of deliciousness on a picnic supper this evening. I’ve already made the dressing, and will bake the rice later this afternoon. Since I’ll have the kids at swim lessons after school, Kevin’s going to pop home and prep the other toppings. This was our final meal at the cottage a few weeks ago, introduced to us by our awesome host Janis. It hits the spot. And it’s crammed with nutrition. And because you can top your bowl however you choose, it works well for a family of differing tastebuds.
Brown rice “Buddha” bowl
Prepare dressing by whirling the following ingredients together in a blender: 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes; 1/3 cup water; 1/3 cup tamari; 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (or a bit more, to taste); 2-4 cloves garlic; 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable oil (or up to 1/2 cup less); 2 tbsp tahini. (Makes enough dressing for leftovers).
Prepare brown rice for your family or guests, in whatever amount works for you. (I cook approximately two cups of dry rice, which turns into a whole lot more).
Now here’s where it gets fun. Feel free to add, subtract, and improvise with your choice of toppings. I’ll list what that we’ve tried.
Cube and saute one block of tofu, which you can marinate in advance in 2 tbsp vegetable oil plus 1-2 tbsp tamari.
Toast 1/2 cup sliced almonds (or other nuts) in a dry pan.
Grate a couple of carrots.
Grate a beet (raw), if you have it.
Snap some raw asparagus into two-inch pieces.
Wash and tear a couple of cups of spinach leaves.
Saute some shrimp, if you want to undo the glorious veganism of this recipe (and if you have shrimp-lovers/tofu-haters coming to your table).
To eat: fill bowl with cooked rice, add toppings of choice, drizzle on a good dose of dressing, and devour.
Ginger Beef with Tofu and Broccoli (crockpot)
This recipe could be easily adapted for the stovetop. If you’re doing it on the stove, you might want to add 1 tbsp of cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp of water to thicken the sauce at the end.
To start, brown 2 pounds of beef in a bit of canola oil. You can add about 1 tsp of sesame oil here, too. I used a combination of steak and stewing beef. When the beef is browned, transfer to the crockpot. On top of the beef, if desired, arrange one block of sliced firm or semi-firm tofu (no need to saute first).
In the same frying pan, saute 1 chopped onion and 4 chopped cloves of garlic until translucent or lightly browned.
Remove from heat, and add 1 cup of water to the pan, along with 1/4 cup of tamari sauce, and 1 tbsp of cider vinegar, and scrape everything into the crockpot.
Now you’re done frying things (and I do always fry onions and spices, and brown meat before putting them into the crockpot, though it does take more time. But it also tastes much better in the end. Think of it as doing your labour-intensive prep first thing in the morning instead of all in a rush right before supper’s due to be served).
Add 2 tbsp of freshly grated ginger to crockpot (more, or less, to taste). I keep washed whole ginger root in the freezer, where it stays fresh; it’s easy to scrape off the amount you’ll need with a knife. No need to thaw.
Cook on low all day. Steam broccoli on the stove and add just before serving. I made the mistake of adding the broccoli to the crockpot with about two hours to go, and was displeased with the result. Let’s just say it’s hard to crisp-cook veggies in a crockpot. Serve over steamed or bake rice, with extra tamari sauce and hot sauce on the side.
Kevin and AppleApple made this for supper tonight. Kevin said it was very easy to make. And it’s delicious. We used canned chickpeas because I’ve never been able to cook a chickpea to satisfaction. If you have tips, let me know.
Reserve the liquid from 1 can of chickpeas. In a food processor, combine the rinsed chickpeas with 3 tbsp of tahini (sesame paste), 1 clove of garlic, the juice of 2 lemons, and 1/2 tsp of salt. Blend together. Only add a bit of the reserved liquid if your hummus seems too thick. Kevin says he added too much, and in future would start by adding none at all.
That’s it! Serve with pita bread, tortilla chips, or veggie slices.
Lentil soup in a crockpot. It’s easy to throw together in the morning, fills the house with delicious smells all day, and makes a satisfying meal over rice or with pitas. Top individual bowls with yogurt or sour cream or crema la vaquita, or crumbled feta or queso duro blando. Either soup could just as easily be made in a pot on the stove, with a much-reduced cooking time–about an hour from beginning to end, or until the lentils soften. (You’ll note, too, that both soups can be prepared not only as vegetarian, but as vegan).
Here are two recipes for the price of one. My kids love both, although AppleApple is not a curry fan, thus making the curried soup a more difficult sell.
Curried Lentil Soup
In a small amount of olive oil, saute 2 chopped onions, 2-4 cloves garlic, and 1 tbsp minced ginger (subsitute 1/2 to 1 tsp ground ginger), and approximately 1 tsp salt. Toward the end, add 2 tbsp mild curry powder and cook off the raw flavour. Scrape into slow-cooker, adding water to the pan to get every last bit out. Black pepper may be added to the mixture, too.
Rinse 2 cups of red lentils and 1 cup of green lentils, and add to the slow-cooker. Now here’s the ad hoc portion of the recipe. If you like your soup thicker, add about 8 cups of water or broth. If you like it soupier, use more liquid. I use a 3kg container of frozen homemade chicken stock, and add water, following the whims of the day.
Cook on low, covered, all day (8 hours or so).
Finally, just before the soup is ready to go to the table, stir in the juice of one lemon (or a couple tbsp of cider vinegar). Don’t skip this step! It’s what finishes the flavour sensation. If you have fresh cilantro, chop and add a bunch at this stage, too. If not, it’s still going to taste really good.
In a small amount of olive oil, saute 2 onions. When softened, add 1 tsp each: powdered ginger, cumin, turmeric, and ground black pepper. A bit of extra cumin won’t hurt, either. Fry for about a minute, then scrape into slow-cooker, adding water to loosen every last yummy bit.
Rinse 2 cups of green or brown lentils. Add to slow-cooker.
Toss in 1 whole cinnamon stick. And one can of tomatoes–diced or pureed or whole (I use a quart or half-pint jar canned last summer; size doesn’t matter). If you happen to have a bunch of fresh cilantro on hand, toss it in, stalks and all (and fish out before serving).
Again, the amount and type of liquid added is up to you. I use chicken stock if it’s handy, but water is a-okay. Add between 6-10 cups. If you’re using water, you’ll need to add approximately 1 tsp salt; with chicken stock, you may not need any. Taste before serving and re-season, if needed.
Cook on low, covered, all day (8 hours or so).
Finally, just before serving, stir in the juice of one lemon. Really, it’s the secret to many good recipes. Cider vinegar makes an excellent substitute.
Note: You are most welcome to add diced carrots or shredded zucchini or other veg to either recipe! I refrain, because that level of mixing and mushing of ingredients does not please my children. I find the most popular slow cooker recipes are those with a short ingredient list. Raw or other cooked veg can be served on the side.
This recipe makes about 32 small toaster-sized breakfast pitas. The dough is like butter. Well, it’s made with butter, maybe that’s why. Soft and pliable and dreamy to work with. My only reservation is that it requires a lot more yeast than conventional bread. [Note: since originally posting this recipe, I’ve experimented with less yeast, and have adjusted the yeast measurement accordingly].
Homemade Breakfast Pitas
Combine in a mixing bowl: 6 cups bread flour (whole wheat or some combo of white/whole wheat works well), 4-5 tablespoons honey, 3 teaspoons salt, and 6 teaspoons yeast. Add 4 tablespoons melted butter and 2 1/2 cups room-temp water. Stir well until blended. Knead for 5-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic (add flour or water as needed to reach desired consistency). The dough should be moist-ish, but not sticky.
Let rise, covered, in an oiled bowl, for an hour or two.
Preheat oven to 450.
Punch down the dough, divide in half, then divide each half into 8 pieces. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Then, flour a clean surface, divide each dough lump in two, and, using a rolling pin, roll each small lump into a flat circular shape, about 1/8-inch thick, or thicker, if you like a thicker pita. (It’s a lot of dividing, so note that each half makes approximately 16 small pitas).
If you have a baking stone, use it. If not, flip over a cookie sheet (or two), sprinkle with water, then place as many pitas as you can on the back of the cookie sheet–I fit six on each tray. Bake until the dough puffs up, about 4 minutes. Remove and cool on rack. Apparently, if you leave the pitas in the oven too long, they won’t unpuff.
Note: If you want to replicate the store-bought breakfast pitas, try adding, in small amounts, dried fruit, seeds, and/or spices at the combining or kneading stage of the recipe. My kids can’t agree on which fruits/seeds/spices would be acceptable, so I’m sticking with the plain recipe for now. Plain also works well as a flat hamburger or sandwich bun.
Keep the pitas fresh by freezing them. They thaw out quickly in the toaster. Slather on honey and peanut butter, and in our house, at least, the day has a happy beginning.
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
I’ve been using this recipe for many years, and it’s a keeper. The cookies above are not gingerbread, but roll-out sugar cookies. I doubled the recipe below, and it was easy to separate the dough and keep it wrapped in waxed paper in the fridge: rolling out and baking a fresh batch takes about twenty minutes, which made after-school snacks really easy last week.
Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
Cream together 2/3 cup softened butter and 3/4 cup white sugar. When light and fluffy, beat in 1 egg, 4 tsp milk (or cream), and 1 tsp vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Optionally, add 1 tsp cinnamon. Combine wet and dry, mixing until the dough comes together. Divide dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and chill in the fridge for at least half and hour. When ready to bake, roll out dough on a floured surface, cut out cookies, and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 375 for 8 minutes. Cool on rack. Decorate as desired. We like smarties.
Also from last week: Albus’s first ever piano recital, and the photographs: before and after.
Do you have favourite Christmas/holiday cookie recipes? If so, please tell me! This year, I want to move beyond my usual roll-out sugar cookie recipe. Thank you. I will post photos if they turn out.