Saturday, March 29, 2008

turn off your lights!

Tonight from 8-9pm is Earth Hour. Help take action against climate change by turning out your lights for the hour. Light some candles, go for a walk, or engage in some heat creating "activity" in the dark.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

green quinoa

I came in to work this morning to find a big note written on the fridge which read, "One month of university to go. We can ALL do this."

It was uplifting. Last week I was contemplating cutting my losses and withdrawing from my classes, and quite frankly, the only thing stopping me was knowing I'd have to go back and do these classes all over again. So I keep plugging.

Anyways, I have an awesome recipe to share with y'all. Green Quinoa. Paul and I frequently make Green Rice, which is a tasty dish of brown rice cooked with sauteed onions and garlic, and then simmered in a veg broth with roasted seeded jalapenos, and finished with fresh cut cilantro stirred in. Mmmmmm. Back in the fall I snagged a couple of big bags of jalapenos from my favourite organic farmer on the Sunshine Coast, processed them en mass, and froze them in ice cube trays. Now when I get a hankering for the green rice dish, it's as easy as pulling a jalapeno cube out of the freezer and I'm ready to go. Paul loves cilantro, and so buys a bunch a week - more than we can possibly go through - I've decided I need to find a good cilantro pesto recipe (Liminal?) which I can freeze to deal with the excess. Last week as a part of the sustainability fair at UBC, they were selling some produce from the UBC farm, and among other things (purple broccoli, purple flowering broccoli, cabbage) I snagged a bag of organic spinach. Which meant I had 2 bags of spinach at home, again more than we could eat in salads until it started to wilt. What to do with all of that spinach? I contemplated soup, but couldn't find a recipe I liked, and then ultimately stumbled upon another, and somewhat different, green rice recipe. Being the meddler I am I gave it the old switcharoo and made it my own. I subbed in quinoa for the rice, added cubed tofu, and used one of my jalapeno cubes (yes, there was a point to all of those side snippets). So here it is - a protein and amino acid rich, chlorophyll heavy green dinner for everyone.

Green Quinoa:

1 med onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, washed and stemmed
1 bunch cilantro, washed
2 1/2 cups veg broth
2 jalapenos, 1 seeded*
1 1/2 cups quinoa, washed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 brick tofu, cubed

*I used one cube of my previously roasted, seeded, and pureed jalapenos, which is roughly equivalent to 2 peppers.

Put spinach, cilantro, jalapenos, and one cup of broth in a blender, and puree to liquefy. I found I had to add the greenery in several installments and needed to add a little more broth to keep things going, but it did become a wonderful bright green liquid in the end. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and quinoa, and saute for a couple of minutes. Add green liquid, and remaining broth. At this point I also tossed in a half a brick of tofu, cubed. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Once mixture is boiling, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 min. After 15 min turn off the heat, but leave covered and let stand for 10 min. Fluff with fork, and season if desired. Mine needed a tiny touch of salt, but that was it.

So nutritious, so delicious, and so green. I've got green quinoa for lunch today. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

for those of you who don't know

Getting up at 4:30am sucks. Five days a week, for five and a half years. S. U. C. K. S. Ugh.

I probably wouldn't be so cranky about it, except I'm coming off a glorious four day weekend where not only did I stuff my face with food and wine, but I also got to sleep in until blissful 9am in a wonderful dark and quiet place.

Now back to reality. And three more weeks of classes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hijacked Future

The following is a blurb about a documentary which will be aired on Saturday March 22nd on Global TV. If you're in Vancouver, that's channel 11 at 7pm. If not, check your local listings and find out where/when it's playing. Everyone should watch this. I've included the trailer down below.

It’s 7 am: Do you know where your toast came from?

Eating breakfast toast: a simple ritual to start the day. The bread probably came from a bakery or grocery store, but beyond that who knows where the wheat came from – never mind the seeds that grew the wheat. Do we need to know? A new documentary, “Hijacked Future” says yes, because those seeds that became the toast you ate this morning are being hijacked - right into a looming world food security catastrophe.

Catastrophe? Wait a minute. We see plenty of food on our supermarket shelves. Is our food security really at risk – or is this just scare mongering from the fringe?

While our industrial system of agriculture is providing abundance and variety today, this Global Currents documentary warns us that it’s an unsustainable system that will not be able to nourish and provide for us and our grandchildren in the future. It’s a system that literally runs on oil, from fertilizers and pesticides, to the trucks and planes that transport food. And the source of our food – seeds – is being hijacked by a handful of corporations from the farmers who have for millennia, grown and saved them.

But why should we care about a farmer’s seeds? Aren’t companies developing new seeds all the time? They are -- and that’s part of the problem -- because who controls the seeds, controls our food. More and more, that control is in the hands of a few multinational corporations whose bottom line is profit for their shareholders not necessarily an abundance of healthy food. Should anybody, the film asks, own seeds?

“Hijacked Future” takes us from the grain fields of Saskatchewan, to farmers and seed banks in Ethiopia, to north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, where the “Doomsday” vault is being built to stockpile seeds in the event of a global crisis.

The documentary looks at the increasingly fragile base of our North American industrial food system in order to bring all of us consumers of food to a better understanding of just what’s at stake with our daily bread. It asks us to question the wisdom of a system precariously based on oil and corporate seeds while we’re at the same time witnessing the impact of climate change.

As the film says, “It all starts with the seed, and the stakes are high… because who controls the seed, controls the food… Who will control the seeds we plant, and the food we put on our tables?” Will our future be…Hijacked?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy 98th Birthday

Or 14th, if you're going in people years. Yup, Mr. Bubbaroo is having a birthday today. He's a good two years beyond the long end of the average life expectancy for his breed, seems to have selective deafness (can't hear you telling him to do something, but can hear the food bin opening), barks at things that aren't there, "forgets" the rules, and poops all over the place. He's always got a smile on his face and a wagging tail, and is always ready to give his favourite people awesome hugs and snuggles. When he gets really excited, he sneezes continuously. He'll eat anything except celery and raw onions, and is an expert at peeling bananas. He'll do anything to chase a squirrel, including jumping out of the back window of a moving car. He is the best dog of all time. Happy birthday Buddy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

two things

Two things to tell y'all.

First, I'll draw your attention to this post from May 2006, which I poached from Anne's blog:

"I’ve added a couple of new links to my blog. Just wanted to do some introductions.

The first, Liminal Me, is one of my sisters and a groovy gal.

The second, Katie the Mermaid Girl, is a friend and great knitting instructor.

Just for the sake of drawing some random and unnecessary connections, they are both vegetarians. Liminal Me recently did her first triathlon and Mermaid Girl is a swimmer and a runner. Both love to cook, both spend a lot of time on the same campus, and they live within four blocks of one another. And yet…. they’ve never met. They move in parallel universes. Dramatic, but true."

Well now we have! Liminal Me and I crossed paths yesterday afternoon in our neighbourhood wine shop. I saw who I thought she was, and took a chance sounding like a complete weirdo if she wasn't by asking if she was Liminal Me. After a couple of seconds of her looking blankly at me (and me feeling like a bit of a weirdo), she said, you're Katie! and gave me a big hug. We gabbed in the shop for the better part of half an hour or so, before going on with our days.

It was great to finally meet you in the flesh, Liminal, and I hope you enjoyed your wine!

Second, I had the BEST Saturday night last night. One apartment all to myself, one bottle of one of my favourite standby wines (Elderton Friends Cabernet Sauvignon), one small take out pizza, and five, yes five back to back episodes of Grey's Anatomy. Mmmmmm. Guilty pleasures.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

mayonnaise dilemma

I've been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma, both for personal interest and for school, and the book is blowing my mind. It's really well written and thoughtful, and is examining all aspects of the food industry.

As a result of the part of the book about corn and how it is broken down and reconstructed into everything from oils and sweeteners to adhesives and building materials, I've decided to try my best to stay away from processed foods. I never considered myself to be someone who consumed a lot of processed foods, and I guess I figured that as a vegetarian I was probably eating more or less good food most of the time. I definitely have an Yves addiction that needs to be dealt with, and the list of ingredients on my favourite vegetarian chick'n nuggets is making me cry. Corn, corn, corn.

Don't get me wrong, I love corn, corn is not the enemy. USDA polices forcing so called commodity crop (corn and soy mainly) farmers to grow more and more for less and less money, and at an increasing cost to our eco system (turning crude oil into fertilizers and pesticides isn't a good idea?) are the bad fellas. Corn grown sustainably for eating (rather than being processed) is awesome.

So I've been replacing my more processed than I had ever imagined sandwich slices with organic smoked tofu, making edamame salads with organic non GMO soy beans, eating nuts, beans, and organic free range eggs for protein. I'm trying to eat my food as whole as possible as often as possible. On Sunday, which in our house is dessert night, I made an angel food cake from scratch. This was previously the only cake I'd ever make from a mix, and now with a little help from Martha Stewart, I've learned that it is only marginally more time consuming to make one from scratch, and way more tasty. I'm not saying I'll never eat processed foods, hello, a veggie pepperoni pizza on a treat night, and I'm not going to throw away the ground round and nuggets in my deep freeze, but I'm doing my best.

So mayonnaise. I don't eat a lot of it, but sometimes I like a thin scraping in my sandwich or in my egg salad sandwich. It's also a dang tasty fry dip, and you know it. Yesterday I was telling this lady in one of my classes that I had to get home to attend to my yoghurt culture - I've been making my own yoghurt for over a year now. It has 2 ingredients; milk and some starter from the last batch of yoghurt. It's sooooo much better than commercial yoghurt with their yucky thickeners and shiz. Anyway, she says to me that she's never made yoghurt, but she makes her own mayo. I told her that I'd be open to making my own mayo except for my phobia of raw eggs, and she pointed out that there was raw eggs in the store bought stuff, plus a gazillion other processed ingredients. Somehow coming from a jar made me feel better about the rawness of the eggs, and I figured they must have been heat processed in some way to make them safe to eat. I don't know. Making it myself using local organic free range eggs is obviously going to be better for both my body and the planet than buying it in a jar. But there will be raw eggs. Yuck. I guess if I want to eat mayo occasionally I had better get my head around this thing.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

deconstructing the muffin myth

Muffins are, I think, an unfortunately misunderstood food. Misunderstood in that many people will grab a muffin from a coffee shop, bakery, grocery store, whathaveyou, honestly believing they are making a healthy choice. Sadly, most of the time they are not. The majority of these manufactured muffins are deceptively loaded with fats and sugars and are lacking in fibre. When spending some daily calories on the muffin, we may as well be eating a nice piece of cake. Really, we pretty much are.

I want to deconstruct the muffin myth, and reconstruct the identity of the muffin into what it should be - nourishing, filling, low fat, high fibre, healthy. My goal: reconstruct 100 muffin recipes. Or perhaps 99, since my bran muffin recipe will definitely get tossed in the mix. I'm going to need muffin testers, recipe testers, and recipes. If you have a muffin recipe (or just a type of muffin)you love and wish it was something healthier, but just as tasty or tastier than it already is, fire it in my direction and I'll tinker with it. If you love to bake and you want to help me test out the new recipes, let me know and I'll fire them in your direction and welcome feedback. If you love to eat muffins (hehe) let me know and if you're local, I'll give you some muffin samples for you to scrutinize.

Let the muffin revolution begin!