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Spring Will Soon Be Sprung

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Snow Formations on the Hike

Snow Formations on the Hike

As a super rainy day winds down I am feeling pretty good! I got a bunch of school stuff done today and got a new umbrella. Pretty productive day. I can feel the weather changing though, day light savings is the first step! We also were able to get out for our first hike of the year, at least until the snow forced us to turn back. I’m looking forward to finishing that hike in a month or two when the white stuff has completely melted. The mountain air felt so good, my brain was slightly loose for the rest of the day! In a good way.

Deep in the Woods!

Deep in the Woods!

I’ve been thinking about making a hearty version of miso soup for awhile now and today seemed as good a day as any. It also borrows a bit from the Japanese dish Agedashi Tofu which I am a huge fan of. If you haven’t tried it/heard of it, check it out here. It’s delicious addition to a night out with  veggie sushi! I am a big fan of Japanese food and flavours. I especially love their food presentation.

I’ve had a half pack of soba (buckwheat) noodles in the cupboard for awhile now and I’ve been meaning to use them up. I had miso paste and tofu in the fridge so I decided to start cooking! Here’s the result:

Hearty Miso Mushroom Soup with Soba Noodles and 5 Spice Tofu

The Soup

The Soup

Yield: 4 big servings or six smaller

Ingredients

For the Soup

4 garlic cloves minced

10 button mushrooms, diced

1 med. onion diced

4-6 handfuls fresh spinach leaves

1 t sesame oil

5 c. water

100 g soba noodle (dried)

hot sauce (optional, to taste)

1/4 c. miso paste

1 t soy sauce

For the tofu

1 lb firm tofu cut into 25-30 cubes

1/4 fine bread crumbs

1 t  ground cumin

1 t chili flakes

1 t 5 spice powder

salt and papper to taste

1/3 c. canola oil

-saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic for 5-10 minutes in the sesame oil

-add water, miso paste and soy (hot sauce)

-bring to a boil and add noodles , cook 6-7 minutes (you could cook the noodles first as they do get a bit gluey, the soup will reduce quickly if you let it boil too long)

-meanwhile heat the canola in heavy bottomed wide pan

-combine the spices and bread crumbs and toss with the tofu until they are coated

-shallow fry the tofu 6-8 cubes at a time (you can keep them hot in a low oven on a tray if needed)

=get out 4-6 bowls and place a handful of spinach in each, add 2-3 ladles of soup over the spinach and top with 5-6 crispy tofu cubes!

-top with sesame seeds if desired

Close Up with the Kitchen  in the Background! Here's Where the Magic Happens! Well, Sometimes.

Close Up with the Kitchen in the Background! Here’s Where the Magic Happens! Well, Sometimes.

This soup is very quick so you get the fun of a homemade soup with out being glued to the stove for 2-3 hours. Soba noodles are not only tasty, they are also good for you and are full of amino acids, antioxidants and some protein too, of course the tofu int his recipe also contains protein! You could also add the spinach directly to the soup 2-3 minutes before serving. This recipe is vegan also! Enjoy.

Rain Rain Every Day!

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It’s definitely almost Spring in Raincouver. It’s been raining pretty much nonstop for the last three or four days but at least February is over. I spotted cherry blossoms near my house and there are crocuses and snow drops dotting local lawns. I won’t really know change is coming until I see a robin; that  is the true sign of Spring for me.

Soon...

Soon…

I used to be the kitchen manager at a popular bar/hostel downtown and there was a little cafe attached as well. I used to do a sort of tortilla pie there as a lunch special sometimes and I suddenly remembered it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember quite how I used to  do it so this recipe is a variation there of. It’s an easy recipe but some assembly is required. Don’t be intimidated by the steps, once the fillings are prepared it is quite simple.

Me and the man have been on a real hot sauce/spice kick lately so this is one spicy meatball (say with bad Italian accent)(except it’s not a meatball or Italian). But I digress. Feel free to eliminate or use only a quarter or half of the habenaro in the filling to tone down the heat a little. We can’t get enough of different hot sauces lately and are starting quite a collection. If anyone has good hot sauce suggestions please let me know in the comments!

This recipe will become vegan very easily as there is only a little bit of cheese and that could be switched for non dairy or left out all together.

Spicy Tex-Mex Tortilla Pie

The Results

The Results

Yield 8 Servings

Equipment: 8″ or 9″ spring form pan, parchment paper

Ingredients

3 clove garlic minced

1 red pepper julienned

1 med onion julienned

1 habenaro*  minced (can be optional or use less than a whole habenaro)

1 lb firm tofu crumbled

2 t cumin

1/2 t tandoori masala spice

1 t chile powder

1/4 t chili flakes

1/2 can black beans (19 oz can)

3/4 can diced tomato (24 oz can)

1/2 bunch cilantro

4 oz shredded mozzarella (optional or substitute non-dairy shredded cheese)

4 large flour tortillas

 

Preheat oven to 375

*do not touch your face or skin after handling habenaros, wash hands after handling!!!

-saute the onion, pepper, garlic, habenaro and 1 t cumin. Make sure you put the fan on when sauteing with the habenaro! Don’t forget like I did and spend the next forty minutes choking and coughing on the the hot pepper fumes!

-set aside sauteed veg

-combine tofu with remaining spices, 1/4 can of the tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper in a bowl, set aside

-combine  1/2 can tomato, beans and cilantro with a bit of salt and pepper (you can make the leftover canned stuff  and cilantro into a salsa by giving it a little buzz in a processor and adding some lime juice and hot sauce!) set aside

-spray the springform with cooking spray and line with parchment

-press a tortilla into the bottom of the pan, it should be big enough to come up the sides of the pan a little

-place 3/4 of the tofu mixture and the cheese on the tortilla

-top with another tortilla, get your hands in there and press it down and tuck it in a little

-add the bean, tomato and cilantro mix

-add another tortilla, press and tuck

-top with the sauteed veg and remaining tofu

-finish with the last tortilla and cover with foil

-bake for 45 minutes

-rest for 10 minutes and invert onto a plate, gently release the springform

-cut into pieces with a serrated knife. Top with sour cream or greek style yogurt and salsa if you like. Add a salad and there’s dinner!

All you need is a pinata, margaritas and cha cha music and it’s easy to pretend it’s not raining and miserable outside! Ole!

 

Earth Hour 2012 Bar-B-Que

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I’ve been doing the Earthhour thing for a couple of years and I thought it would make a perfect occasion to have a great meal and get the barbie fired up for friends. Earthhour is a global movement to save energy by turning out your lights for an hour to save energy, it’s very cool and has spread to over 130 countries. Check out the link here if you haven’t heard about it.

I love candle light so any excuse to hang out in their lovely glow is good for me. Since it is now Spring (all temperature to the contrary) I wanted to do a bit of a picnic theme for the dinner. So potato salad and deviled eggs were a must, shish-ka-bobs are perfect for the grill and a pear crumble with ice cream for dessert. I like to do a red skin potato salad with creamy honey mustard dressing, minced red onions and lots of fresh dill, the eggs were super basic,just mayo, salt and pepper and paprika. I marinated some tofu, zucchini, mushrooms and orange peppers in a jerk style marinade (don’t forget to soak the wooden skewers in water so they don’t catch fire immediately on the grill. I tossed some peeled Bosc pears with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and brown sugar and topped it with oats, margarine, brown sugar, more cinnamon and a bit of flour, 375 for 1 hour, add ice cream and lie back! our friends brought the frogurt and some potato chips! Yum, baked so they were semi healthy.

So how to amuse yourself when you can’t use technology for a few hours? Something that needed minimal light and wouldn’t interfere with the wine consumption (we kept the lights off after the hour was up, although we did turn the music back on). Boardgames are the perfect answer. After a rousing round of Spongebob Squarepants themed Game of Life, we made the mistake of starting my ancient (1982) quiz game. Let me tell you, Issac Asimov presents Super Quiz 2 is not for the faint of heart or possibly anyone under 60. There’s nothing like pop culture questions about pop culture you’ve never heard of to get those points rolling in. It was pretty funny that TV was the hardest category (and music was no slouch either). Do you know the actor who played the governor on The Governor and JJ? Yes that classic TV favourite that no one has heard of, well thanks to the internet I know a little bit more. Here’s the intro, it looks like quite a thrill ride. I figure JJ is the governor’s illegitimate daughter slash animal trainer and gardener.

The ka-bobs turned out awesome and I can’t wait to barbeque again! Unfortunately I didn’t take any pics of the food and now it’s pretty much gone but in honour of Spring, I took a couple of some blossoms I picked for the table. My post about Iranian food is still coming, but will probably have to wait until after finals! Happy Spring and April Fool’s Day!

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the annotated zoetrope

The Zoetrope, or "Wheel of Life," is an instructive Scientific Toy, illustrating in an attractive manner the persistence of an image on the retina of the eye; by revolving the cylinder by the hand, and looking through the openings, the images passing rapidly before the eye are blended, so as to give the figures the motions of life in the most natural manner.

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