30 March 2008

Steve

I know that Steve loves me, because he doesn't mind picking up my snotty tissues (when I have a cold, of course) with his bare hands.

29 March 2008

Vegan365: Melissa, Steve and Dino

Vegan365: Melissa, Steve and Dino


Me being vulgar at Puppy.

Vegan365: Dino and Steve

Vegan365: Dino and Steve


Puppy and me at a club, after we'd hung out for a bit with friends.

27 March 2008

Decided to give the Audio thing a crack


First episode of my audio show. I'm hoping to get this whole thing podcasted, get a decent USB mic, and clean up the format of the show/audio that you're hearing. For now though, this'll get things going.

23 March 2008

An email exchange with a fan:

A friend of mine who bought the book emailed me about a soup recipe that I have in there. Here's how it went down:

Dino,

Just got your cookbook yesterday, FINALLY!!!!

So, today I went to the store and am planning to make the aforementioned soup, but I noticed in the recipe you said something about it being "condensed." But I don't see anything about adding water to it or something when you serve it... so what exactly does that mean?

I hope I don't sound really stupid and ignorant.. I'm not much of a cook (yet) so I'm kind of nervous, I just hope this comes out ok! (Well no, I hope it comes out spectacular, but yeah). So if you could clarify that for me it'd be really helpful
Thanks!!!!!!!!!!
-S


So here I am, thinking "Wait, what does she mean?" Then I flipped to the recipe in question, and it looks like she's right! I never did mention how much to dilute it. For the record, it's "how much ever you want."

My response:

Nope, not stupid at all! I sometimes add extra water to thin it out to my liking, and sometimes I'll leave it alone. The point of it was that you're supposed to adjust to your own liking. I also left tonnes of wiggle room, so that you can pitch in some of your own favourite vegetables and flavourings when the soup is done cooking.

So if you're in the mood for a more thick rich stew, leave it as is. If you're in a pinch, and have last minute dinner guests show up on you, add an equal amount of water to the pot, and thin it out that way.

Come to think of it, most of the recipes work that way. You start with your basics, and adjust up or down, depending on your needs.

Thanks for asking!

Dino


So then she responded back:

Thanks for responding so quickly!!! I can't wait to make it (and probably the banana nut bread) for Easter (well, we're not exactly "celebrating" Easter, but I have the day off, so yeah )

I made the basic broccoli this evening, but with lemon instead of lime (cuz i had no lime), and it came out sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo spicy ... So now I see what you mean about preferring stuff spicier than most!!! I'll probably make them again but a little milder, b/c other than the spiciness it was quite yummy.

Anyways... I'm still so excited to try making all these things-- I've always just sort of subsisted on basic things like PB+banana on rye, brown rice with salt and curry powder, or plain edamame... But today at the store, I brought your book in with my while I shopped (and hopefully other customers saw it!!) and I bought all this produce I'd NEVER had before.. Yay!!!

K enough rambling.. thanks again


O_O! My cookbook is being used in celebratory fashion! This is too many kinds of cool. And yes, in the intro, I do mention that all the recipes, although they've been adjusted to suit most people, will tend to have a much higher level of heat than most people are used to. If you're not used to spicy foods, sub out a mild paprika for cayenne or chilly peppers. There's absolutely nothing wrong with adjusting flavourings to your liking.

OK. So she went ahead and made said soup. Here's what happened:

All right, so I made the soup and it was absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!! I've never made something that seemed so "professional" before (I know to you, it's really basic and all... but just humor me!) My mom loved it too! (For the first half, before adding the water, she was convinced I was going to burn our kitchen down-- but everything turned out fine )

I also made the banana bread which was also amazing! And so ridiculously simple to make, I love it! As a variation, instead of 2 cups of flour, I did 1.5 cups, and then 1/2 cup of oat bran, to make it more "healthy" (or at least to make myself feel like I would be eating something more healthy). I also added a little maple syrup to the mix because I love sugar

Anyways..... my mom said she's really impressed w/ the cookbook.. so.. yeah.. Thanks again


Wicked cool! I'm so glad that someone enjoyed it this much. Hopefully, she'll be able to add this to her regular repertoire, and adjust the stuff to her own liking. :D

21 March 2008

19 March 2008

Rainy and cold and UCK

I didn't have work today, so I slept in really late. Like. REALLY late. I woke up around 2 PM, meaning that I had missed the window to call in my grocery order. Crap.

So, I walked over to the Q102 bus stop, which is like 2 feet away from my first floor door, and waited under a shelter. The bus got there, did its rounds of the Island, and we were in Queens in like a minute or so. I got out, and walked the (4? 5?) blocks or so to Trade Fair. What a difference it is to pick out your own stuff! I was able to get the exact quality I wanted, and managed to even pick up a few specials that weren't advertised ($2 for Rice milk!), and in the amount that I wanted.

The bonus part was that I was able to hit up a couple of pretty snazzy second hand stores on the way there (and the way back!), and pick up some really cool bargains. I got some excellent button down shirts that I can have tailored down to the proper size, a really neat sweater, and yards and yards of wicked cool looking fabric. The fabric was like $2 or so, and the shirts were like a dollar or so each.

Mind you though, it was raining the whole time, and I got caught in the thick of it the muck. I had to wait about ten minutes or so for the bus to come around, and the whole, drippy ordeal was miserable. By the time I walked into the apartment, I was a sodden mess, and fairly sniffly (AGAIN). The whole process of getting in and out of the house and back in was like an hour and a half or so, because I got diverted. They were darned good diversions though, because I also got some nice, warm fluffy blankets. I saw those bloody things at the Macy's for like $80 a pop. Forget that!

Finally, by the time I blustered in, five minutes later, the groceries came! Trade Fair offers free delivery on orders over $30, so I definitely took advantage of that offer, and stocked up on stuff that I've been putting off on buying, because lugging them up to my place would have been a right proper pain in the behind. So here I am, sodden, and dripping on my nice floor rug (someone was going to throw it out, and I took it. It just needs a shampooing), and I realised that while I managed to pick up vinegar to make Vegan Soda Bread, I utterly forgot to snag the baking soda. Ring ring, call Steve, ask him to snag some on the way.

I curled up with a steaming hot cup of rasam, and felt the body heat reach my toes, as it always does when I drink rasam. Mmm.

14 March 2008

100 Posts!

To celebrate my 100th post, I figured I'd share a recipe (something I haven't done in a while) for you lot to give a try when you're at home. I recently got a LOAD of green beans from my grocery store on sale. I also had a bunch of boiled potatoes lying around, so I decided on a twisted version of a South Indian beans curry. Traditionally, you'd add shaved cocoanut to the dish, but I ran out of cocoanut. Instead, I decided to use a tin of cocoanut milk instead. Also, potatoes aren't strictly traditional, but they're certainly welcome in my house! Eat these with flatbread or rice. You can omit the cocoanut completely if you're watching your fat intake, of course. The reason that we cut the green beans so small is so that it's easier to eat with rice.

1 lb green beans, chopped into 1/4 pieces
1 lb potatoes, boiled and cubed (optional)
1 large onion, diced finely (optional)
14 oz cocoanut milk (tinned or fresh; optional)
14 oz water (to wash out the tin of cocoanut milk; optional)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black or white mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

In a wok, or large pot, heat the teaspoon of oil over high heat until very hot. When the oil gets hot (you'll notice it go from thick and viscous to a lot more liquidy, and it'll easily coat the bottom of the pot), swirl the oil around a bit to coat the bottom of your pot. Add the mustard seeds, and cover the lid of the pot. When you hear the seeds begin to pop, remove the pot from the heat, and wait until the popping subsides a bit. Open the lid, and add the cumin seeds. Put the pot back on the heat. When the cumin seeds turn a darker brown colour, add the onions. Sprinkle in a dash of salt.

Drop down the heat to medium high, and cook the onions until they're a light brown colour. Don't worry if you find the onions sticking to the bottom of the pot. The rest of the stuff you're adding is going to help scrape it all up. If you feel like the pan is too dry, feel free to add a bit more oil, and stir it all around. The salt should help draw out enough water from the onions, so that you don't get a dry pan.

If you don't want to use onions, simply skip this step, and add the chopped green beans immediately after the cumin turns darker.

Once your onions get to the colour of lightly cooked toast, add the chopped green beans. Stir the beans around in the pan vigourously, so that the seeds and onions combine completely with the beans. Sprinkle in the turmeric powder, and stir everything around in your pot, so that the turmeric is evenly distributed. Don't worry if you see little pockets of turmeric forming. They'll dissolve once you add the water or cocoanut milk.

Let the beans cook for about five minutes or so, over medium heat. Increase the flame to as high as it'll go once the beans have cooked for five minutes. Add the cocoanut milk, water, and the cubed potatoes. You'll want to get the liquid to come up to a full, rolling boil, so that the potatoes release some of their starch to make the gravy more thick and creamy. Let the cocoanut milk and water boil for about five minutes. Stir as the water comes up to a boil, so that you can scrape up any yummies that have stuck to the bottom, and completely integrate all the spices thoroughly.

Turn off the heat once the liquid has boiled for five minutes, and cover your pot. Let it sit for about ten minutes (if you can wait!), so that everything has a chance to settle. If it's still to liquid for your liking, feel free to take a potato masher, and smash up the potatoes some more. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish if you'd like.

Optional garnish:
Try any one of these (or combinations thereof) to jazz up the final dish.
- minced roasted red pepper
- curry leaves
- minced chili peppers
- cilantro or parsley, minced
- touch of paprika
- shaved toasted almonds
- toasted cashews
- finely grated ginger
- few cloves of roasted garlic
- before serving, some fresh chopped tomato
- toasted pumpkin seeds

Variations:

- instead of potatoes, use sweet potatoes for a boost in vitamins and minerals
- use peas instead of green beans
- add in three or four cloves of garlic along with the onions
- instead of cocoanut milk, grind 1/2 cup of roasted nuts (your choice) with 2 cups of water in a blender.
- If you don't like onions and garlic, omit them, and add a dash of asafoetida when you add the mustard seeds to the hot fat (about 1/8 tsp)
- If you're using frozen green beans, thaw them, and chop the pieces into half, if you have the patience. Avoid tinned green beans for this recipe. They'll taste ... odd.
- Instead of cooking it all on the stove, do it in the oven. To do this, pop the spices on the stove, and add the onions. When the onions are translucent, add the cocoanut milk, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Turn off the heat, and stir in the uncooked green beans and boiled potatoes. Stir in five or six cups of cooked rice. Transfer to a casserole dish or other oven safe dish, and bake in the oven at 350 for about 35 - 45 minutes. Sprinkle on a generous heap of bread crumbs, and bake for another ten minutes or so. Yummy!

09 March 2008

The house is a complete and utter disaster area, and I have people coming over to crash for a couple of days tomorrow morning! And, I've barely got two or three things in the fridge to tide us over. I need to get some more stuff to bulk it all out, so I'm going to have to make a call to the store to make a delivery tomorrow, but I won't be there to pick through the flyer. Boo, what a disaster! I guess I'll have to turn to my pantry, and scrape together a few dishes. I'll hopefully not be too ashamed to let you know how it all goes. Wish me luck!

05 March 2008

My pictures

Photobucket Album