Conscientious cooking (I)

In the past few months, I have been Conscientious Cooking and Post-Partum Prepping. It’s been a ride and not over yet. In between it all, I’m still making our favourite staples with meat (and post-partum recipes are not vegetarian/vegan), including: steamed egg and pork patty, mapo tofu, braised fuzzy melon with pork, egg salads, etc.

Steamed egg turkey patty (adapted from Nom Nom Paleo recipe)  & steamed chicken with black fungus (Souper Diary recipe) These non-vegetarian recipes are already or probably easily made paleo which isn’t at all a goal for me. It’s funny how I happen upon these recipes. Nom Nom, of course, I had heard of already but for the steamed chicken recipe, I knew I wanted to make it and then set out looking for a recipe that has ingredients and instructions that I don’t balk at, and arrive at this Souper Diaries site I’ve never before heard of. They are both on heavy rotation (the steamed patty more than steamed chicken) from Meal Plan days so I’m quite good at the recipes now.

Soy chorizo hash (with Trader Joe’s soy chorizo) I like making a hearty breakfast hash and have made it a couple of times for breakfast-as-dinner.  It’s for effort than NPY probably realizes and the convenient part is that I can make the non-spicy version for kiddo, pull out his portion, and then add in the spicy chorizo that you just can’t attenuate its spiciness! (27 January)

Buddha’s Delight (Omnivore’s Cookbook recipe) Mung bean vermicelli is now a pantry staple for me and I thought it might be gluten-free or a better carb or something given it is clear but a keto-practicing co-worker was horrified at the mention of it so it’s bad somehow – which accounts for how tasty it is. It made it into my pantry because it only requires being soaked while you’re cooking and then cooked for five minutes. And kiddo loves it. I started making Buddha’s Delight with a $2.99 can of starter ingredients and then made it once from scratch and it’s not too hard either way since to the canned version, I added my own ingredients too. (5 February)

Butter chickpeas & tofu (Foodess recipe) I’m still making the butter chicken recipe I learned of so long ago from LJC FYI blog and recently “dug up” again. I’m so glad I could identify it still after all these years. I made it vegetarian by swapping out tofu (to emulate chicken – NPY was not pleased) and chickpeas for the “chick” ingredient (and to use up the dried chickpeas in my pantry, there for ages) back in March. It’s all about the sauce really so I don’t see why “Mr. Sauce Man” NPY should be so displeased. More recently, I was making portions to freeze so I didn’t use tofu that might not freeze well and made butter chicken & chickpeas. (23 March)

World’s best Greek potatoes (It’s To Die For recipe) I  do love Greek potatoes. The only Greek place we eat at (rather, order from) these days is Stephos – when NPY looked a closer restaurant and looked at prices, he reverted to the original idea of Stephos! And there isn’t enough potato for my liking – tender, tart, savoury. Erin Ireland is pregnant and craving even more sour tastes and seems to make Greek potatoes often and without much effort and posted her recipe on her site.

I was trying to determine if it was too much effort, particularly since I was the only one who ended up eating it. It involved pulling out and dusting off my 9″ x 13″ pan and using up quite a bit of real estate in my fridge for the day it marinated. It seemed like there were oh-so-much lemony sauce to go down the drain but in fact there wasn’t. It’s not an overly vegan dish but actually it was. Could be my bad technique (and my mini oven) but it was more chewy than fork-tender. Maybe the potatoes were overcooked and/or wedges were cut too thin. Further, it just wasn’t as comforting as Stepho’s where the marinade permeates the entire potato. (16 April)

Turkey-lentil Bolognese sauce (Chatelaine recipe) I was pleased to see this recipe at the site that delivers to me weekly a newsletter. What a great sounding way to sneak lentils into a delicious sauce. I followed the instructions which including buying a jar of sauce but can’t say I was fooled, i.e., the lentils stood out too much for my liking. I think I needed to make a tastier sauce. I ran out of spaghetti and my portion was enjoyed (or not enjoyed you could say) sloppy Joe style on toast. (26 April)

Tomato & fake chickpea egg (used RasaMalaysia recipe as base) Into my usual recipe for tomato & eggs, I tried to make chickpea egg. Erin Ireland started raving about it as I guess it’s a new discovery and I looked at her proportions as stated in an IG story and other recipes and couldn’t figure out what ratios to use and how much Shani’seasoning to use. (Compared to real eggs), it was so much work, haha! While Erin Ireland demonstrated making egg patties and even an omelette, my egg decidedly did not look the same. Chickpea flour + water is a bit runny but once I added it to the pan, it became gooey/goopy and it did not separate from the pan nicely as eggs do when you add enough oil. So there I was scraping chickpea flour off the bottom of the pan and creating clumps. Chickpea flour + water is essentially dough (duh) and so it looks like dough. Sometimes when using real egg, I don’t cook it very well either, leaving it on the stove too long and dries out. That is how I characterize that evening’s tomato & chickpea “egg” – a bit like the evenings when I screw it up. The “egg” wasn’t horrible at all – a little chewy in texture, slightly eggy in taste.

I’m eager to make a chickpea egg breakfast sandwich or something, but only after I get a good set of instructions for fashioning an egg patty and how much Shani to use. (30 April)

A clean-out-the-fridge I-bought-too-many-veggies clean-out-the-pantry dinner It came together with three pots on the stove and not too much effort once the vegetables were chopped. Broccoli was blanched and tossed in butter and garlic seasoning. Assorted vegetables including shimeji mushrooms, chopped king oyster mushrooms, zucchini and carrots were sauteed in soy-butter. And I rediscovered that quinoa (the rainbow kind) is delicious if cooked in some Better than Bouillon Vegetable! (2 May)

Blueberry vanilla chia jam (Oh She Glows recipe) It was somewhat impromptu the day I made the jam but at the same time, I was prepared having washed and frozen recently the required three cups of blueberries from a bulk-size Costco container. I previously bought strawberry chia jam from Whole Foods and NPY did not balk at the chia so I knew it was something that could be well-received because jam. My, but do we use maple syrup these days with fairly regular pancake or French toast breakfasts on the weekends, and then using maple syrup (or honey) because now I always have it on hand, as a sweetener. So I was able to reused the store-bought jam jar and then another 180 mL (3/4 cup) mason jar. At first, I wondered about the vanilla flavour – in part because my vanilla is so very old – but I think something would be missing if it was entirely absent. I felt good about serving up my own jam! (5 May)

Orzo risotto My own concoction after the life-changing (haha) knowledge I received that it’s possible to prepare pasta risotto style and how lovely and creamy it is due to starches coming out of the pasta instead of using cream. Since I still have to be at the stove for about and hour stirring and adding in broth, I prepped the sauteed vegetables (kale, crimini mushrooms, carrot, shallot, Roma tomato) the night before. All at once those bulky vegetables shrunk down how much space it occupied in the fridge and there was enough to go into the risotto and a tofu scramble the next day. I’ve learned that for the sauteed vegetables to add to risotto/tofu scramble/hash, the more variety, the better tasting it will be! (5 May)

Tofu scramble When the recipe calls for firm tofu and what you have is extra firm and medium firm and the extra firm expires tomorrow and you want something tasty that is not carb-based for lunch (god-damn gestational diabetes)! I can’t remember which of several tofu scramble recipes I ended up following where basically it’s the seasoning that is different slightly from one to the other. Further, I have a tin of Shani’seasoning which isn’t addressed by any recipe so I just wing the amount of seasoning (1 tsp). It wasn’t so eggy in look or taste – I am being quite conservative with my 48-g tin that cost over $10! (6 May)

Tofu ricotta in manicotti/cannelloni Tofu ricotta first came onto my radar when I saw how Planted Meals was selling it for $9.99 a jar – and I wondered in passing how that compares to artisanal cow’s milk ricotta at the market. Then it came back on my radar when someone bought a jar at Veg Expo (that I couldn’t attend, boo) and made cannelloni/manicotti. I knew the tofu ricotta was easy to make and I could swing the pasta dish on a Tuesday/Thursday evening when I have more time, right?? Little did I know at first it’s a baked pasta dish but thank goodness my only choice for that pasta shape at my local Urban Fare was a oven-ready manicotti. I couldn’t try the ricotta because of being afraid of messing with my blood sugar (god-damn gestational diabetes testing that day) and then I had added raw eggs and mozzarella cheese to the entire portion of ricotta so I couldn’t test it. I felt good to have substituted out milk-based ricotta and Parmesan with tofu ricotta and nutritional yeast, respectively. It’s vegetarian, but super-satisfying to have made “cheese” for the first time. (7 May)

Vegan cheese sauce (Oh She Glows recipe) When I realized that the potato and carrot I had was twice what the recipe called for, I had to soak another portion of cashews – no problem. To blend it all up, I used my immersion blender (such a workhorse) and the yield was more like 1.5 what was stated in the recipe (3 cups total instead of 2 cups). On the first evening, the sauce was great but it kind of dried quickly. It’s still great to have something creamy and vegetable-based – not overly cheesy but it’s the visual that it is cheesy can trick your brain to accept it. (15 May)

Miracle Healing Broth (Oh She Glows) When I started thinking of post-partum preparation and before I ran into Heng Ou’s post-partum recipe book, Oh She Glows’ Miracle Healing Broth – based on its name – was one thing I was going to make. I had made it once before and knew that the yield was so low it was a “labour of love” and I would make more next time around. For all the effort, the original recipe yield is two servings, a mere 1-1/2 cups! So I doubled up my ingredients list and made this liquid gold (wait, isn’t that what they said of colostrum, not this soup). Funny enough, I barely tasted tested this batch, saving it all for post-partum time. (24 May)

Nut meal cookie (Almost Magical Cookies recipe) I only made one quarter of a nut milk recipe with a yield of 1 cup of fresh cashew milk and was left with 1 cup of nut meal. The recipe notes said I could use the nut meal in baking or compost or freeze for later. To the last one – hah! I don’t have freezer room. I know what I will or won’t address later in my freezer so I went in search for a baking recipe to use up the nut meal sooner rather than later. I think my nut meal was more wet than the recipe expected so after I added a couple of ingredients, I decided to make mini muffins instead of cookies. The “batter” filled exactly 12 mini muffins and while I upped the baking time for muffin-vs-cookie and the wet meal, it came out only a bit crumbly. NPY is such a stick in the mud and prefers stuff made with flour. Instead of flour, each muffin is almost wholly nuts and chia! These muffins are paleo and gluten-free and if I had used coconut oil instead of butter, vegan too. (25 May)

Tomato egg drop soup with ginger (Chinese Soul Food recipe) This recipe came together surprisingly super fast… but then I didn’t find it tasty because of it. It had too much ginger for our liking and was only better the next day after – oh – enough time for the yummy flavours to mix. (27 May)

Chocolate dreams protein smoothie (Oh She Glows) After only making Oh She Glows’ chocolate hemp smoothie for the longest time, I bought protein powder (vanilla flavour) from Bulk Barn to try some of her other smoothie recipes. This delightful sounding “Chocolate dreams” recipe includes mostly pantry ingredients, cf her other smoothies with protein, so it was up next. Instead of almond milk + cocoa powder, I used a dark chocolate almond milk in my fridge – is that why it wasn’t particularly thick? Topping the smoothie bowl with defrosted strawberries was not a good idea as they were mushy. And I used Harvest Crunch granola I had on hand and hemp hearts and sprinkled in a line so it looks artistic. It was tasty but not much like ice cream.

Mushroom Bolognese (Somerset’s Mushroom Bolognese) When I went to link this recipe, I was remind of the superior origin of the recipe and that is in stark contrast to my results! Given I felt it was hard work the first time I made it, and I’m on preparation bender, I wanted to make twice the recipe and such a volume (and current schedule) necessitated spreading out the effort over a few days. One evening, I was wiping three pounds of mushrooms, and pulsing them the next day. I cooked the sauce the third day and was mildly shocked when removing the cover, how the top layer of my mushy mushrooms turned black which I guess is the effect of some oxidation/bruising. It tasted fine, however. I had probably pulsed it too much because I could not intrepret just how fine to grind them. Gosh, it took plenty of time to get rid of the water! I only used half the amount of broth as the recipe stated but at the least, I got a good amount of leftover sauce. The kid wasn’t super thrilled with the sauce but it was in long noodles so he ate it – it looks so appetizing huh? The best part is how light tasting it is. (4 June)

Marcella Hazan’s San Marzano tomato sauce (Lifehacker article) The linked Lifehacker article “The Best Pasta Sauce Has Three Ingredients” is what finally got San Marzano tomatoes onto my radar and shopping list. Quite a while back, I got two cans from TJ’s when a more recent article extolled yet again this simple sauce. It is stupidly simple, I just had to make time to go out for that one onion! NPY who was “busy” wait until the sauce was cold and said it was greasy, on account of the butter, but he ate half the onion! Which is nice because there’s no real reason not to eat it and after 45 minutes, it’s delightfully tender. (16 June)

Sundried tomato cashew cream sauce (Sneaky Mommies recipe, adapted from Oh She Glows) This reciped sounded so delicious that I was so remiss when I accidentally deleted it at first. When I was making it, liked that I basically made the sauce without using the stove. However, it felt costly at first, with over $3 of cashews and $2.75 of sun-dried tomatoes but I’m just being pretty cheap. Using cashews to make milk is even more premium haha. It turned out to be a more dry sauce than NPY would like and kiddo wanted just naked “noo-noo” but I refuse to let that happen! It’s not the kind of vegan sauce (cf vegan cheese sauce) where I feel comfort that he’s getting vegetables with this sauce but still it’s so neat it’s creamy from nuts super savoury. (26 June)

Cozy gravy (Oh She Glows recipe) At first, I overlooked the Cozy Gravy recipe but then did a double take. Doesn’t gravy just go with everything, especially with the Sauce Man and Sauce Boy in my family? Kiddo has taken to asking for “rice with sauce” to which I respond, “Uhhhhh….” Fine, I’ll give this recipe a try and make a veggie bowl of it with a variety of vegetables that happened to be in my fridge. It worked out fairly well except I thought the sauce was salty – none of the ingredients I had on hand were the no-salt version so I’ll keep that in mind for the next time. (28 June)

Banana-coconut toast (Chatelaine recipe) Limping a bit to the end of this post, I made this pseudo-conscientious toast which was loaded with protein fiber. It was tasty to have the nut butter-banana-coconut mixture but not jaw-dropping awesome and now I have too much coconut. (29 June)


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