Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Case of Maple-roasted Beet Soup

In a previous post, I said I hadn't yet "discovered" my vegan alternative to dairy. Light coconut milk just may be it! According to product labels, 60 ml light coconut milk has 40 calories, compared to 60 calories in 2% evaporated milk, which I've already substituted for cream. Regrettably, light coconut milk does have more fat – 3.5 g compared to 1.2 g. But if animal products aren't part of your diet, that's not such a big deal, is it? And when I dilute light coconut milk (1 part light coconut milk to 1 part water) to make "milk" for cereal, the resulting 250 ml beverage again has more fat than 2% milk – 7.5 g compared to 5 g – but its calorie count at 84 is much better than 2% milk's at 130.

Unfortunately, coconut palms don't grow in Black Currant Bay, Northern Ontario, Canada. So light coconut milk doesn't score points in the "buy local" arena. Shall I be kind to the environment and buy local, or be kind to the environment and eat vegan? Often the two acts are simultaneous. In this case, they're not. Buy local...eat vegan? And here's another dilemma – I photographed my vegan Maple-roasted Beet Soup accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich. Life is complicated.

Maple-roasted Beet Soup

6 red beets, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsps olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 cups water
4 rounded tsps (for 4 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup light coconut milk
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place the beets and onion in a 9" X 13" pan. Sprinkle with the garlic and cumin seed, and drizzle with the olive oil and maple syrup. Toss to coat the vegetables. Roast for 30 min. Scrape the roasted vegetables and juices into a saucepan with the water and vegetable bouillon powder, and simmer, covered, until the beets are tender. Blend, and return to the pot. Stir in the light coconut milk, season with salt and pepper to taste, and heat to serving temperature. Serves 4.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Case of Tomato Cucumber Salad

I photographed this salad outside in the sun, and you can tell autumn is here, because there's an amber quality to the light – lovely, warm, and...disturbing at the same time. Why? Because it heralds the imminent succession of the hard blue light of winter.

Tomato Cucumber Salad

1-1/2 cups seeded, chopped cucumber
1-1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomato
1/2 cup Greek olives, pitted
1/8 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps olive oil
vegetable seasoning

Toss together all the ingredients, including vegetable seasoning to taste – I use plenty as you can see in the picture – then chill. The salt in the vegetable seasoning coaxes out the juices in the vegetables so they bathe in their own "vinaigrette". Serves 2.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Case of a Variety of Blessings

One autumn evening, when the air outside was tinted the dusty rose of a Northern Ontario sunset, hubby Karl looked up from his copy of the Black Currant Bay Beacon Star and said, "Sounds like Tom's having trouble with his Jeep."

What? I could barely hear what he was talking about, would never have identified it as a Jeep, certainly not a Jeep in trouble, let alone Tom's Jeep in trouble. Not wanting to believe perceptiveness like this was strictly a Chief of Police thing, or heaven forbid a man thing, I decided to come up with an equally impressive example of insightfullness from my own experience.

How about that time I pointed out a problem in a high-priced Toronto antique store? I remember Karl beseeched me at the time to leave it alone, but the owner had mistakenly labelled an occasional chair Louis XV, when I knew for sure it was Louis XVI. Karl claimed both Louis' were way too dead to care. I realised we are all blessed...differently. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Case of Rice and Peas

Confession. I LOVE rice. Rice pudding, Butternut Squash Risotto, plain, steamed Long-grain Rice... Yes...nutritionally corrupt, North American dieter reviled white rice. And I'm betting you won't be able to resist the following white rice recipe either – my ode to the sunny, carefree Caribbean.

Rice and Peas

2 cups water
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp thyme
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
2 rounded tsps (for 2 cups) vegetable bouillon powder
1 tsp allspice
1-1/2 cups rice
19-oz-can kidney beans, rinsed
2 green onions
salt

Bring the water, light coconut milk, pepper, onion, thyme, Scotch bonnet pepper, vegetable bouillon powder and allspice to a boil. Remove the Scotch bonnet pepper. Add the rice, cover, return to a boil, and simmer for 14 min. Stir in the kidney beans, 1 chopped green onion, and salt to taste. Turn off the burner and let the pot sit, covered, for another 3 min. Plate, and snip the remaining green onion over the top to garnish. Serves 4.