Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: Pie

I purchased this beautiful zine a few months ago. It was a little pricey for a zine but 100% of the proceeds go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank so it was worth it. This is a full color zine with two very interesting pie recipes (Chocolate Chess Pie and Cranberry-Pecan Crumble Pie) and a plethora of quotes, stories and beautiful photos about pie. There is even a pie chart! 

Order here.

A photo posted by Sarah (@wingedsnail99) on

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ethiopian: Injera Recipe Review

Since I received Teff Love in the mail at the beginning of the month, I've been cooking all things Ethiopian. I've basically eaten nothing but Ethiopian food since this book arrived and it's been a deliciously good time! 

There are two recipes for injera in Teff Love and one in Vegan Eats World. I decided to try them all and give you the run down. 

Vegan Eats World, Ethiopian Savoury Crepes (206) 
Method: 1 hour ferment
Ingredients: common pantry items 
Difficulty: very simple
Taste: decent

While not an 'authentic' injera this recipe is easy, fast and reliable. It's perfect for the weekday injera fix. 

A photo posted by Sarah (@wingedsnail99) on




Teff Love, long ferment (Ye'tef Injera, page 30)
Method: 6 day ferment (if you have to make the Ersho starter, 3 if you don't)
Ingredients: common pantry items
Difficulty: moderate, as it takes a few minutes of upkeep each day)
Taste: good

While this recipe does take a few days to develop the flavor is there and it isn't really that hard to do - it just takes a little planning. 

Teff Love, short ferment (Quick Teff Crepes, page 33)
Method: instant
Ingredients: speciality items (vegan yogurt, carbonated water)
Difficulty: easy
Taste: After days and days of easy cooking injera, I was surprised to find that I couldn't make this recipe cook properly. It was failed crepe after failed crepe. After 1/2 the batter I simply gave up! 

Overall, I would make the Vegan Eats World recipe for week-day Ethiopian feasts and go with the long fermented version offered in Teff Love for dinner parties, special occasions, and weekend meals because it does taste better. 

Note: There is yet another recipe for injera in 'Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food' but I haven't tried it yet because it calls for urad dal which I haven't been able to source in Brandon yet.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Getting Over a Cooking Rut

I have been in a pretty serious food rut since I moved to Brandon from Toronto over the summer. I am not sure why this cooking rut has occurred but I was in the thick of it for many months. I had no desire to explore new recipes and as a consequent new vegan cookbooks arrived in my mail and were simply placed on the shelf and my food blog was all but dormant over the fall. I think the worst of my cooking rut is behind me now but here are a few ideas in case you are experiencing a cooking rut as well!

Acceptance:
Some cooking ruts are so deep that the best thing for them is simple acceptance: Take a break from the kitchen. Buy a few frozen pizzas or plow through that pile of freezer meals. Return to your tried-and-true family favourites. Give the kitchen to your significant other for a few nights.

Inspiration:
I think the surest way to get over a cooking rut is to get inspired. There are few ways to fight a cooking rut with inspiration: Buy (or loan) a new cookbook. Try a new restaurant. Cook with a friend. Host a potluck or a dinner party. Browse food recipes on sites like Tastespotting. 

Re-vitalize. 
Sometimes you just need a new approach: Start a new blog series. Tired of making Italian food? Start a blog series that focuses on Ethiopian or Mexican food. Make a few simple meals and spend the extra time deep-cleaning or organizing your kitchen. Browse restaurant menus online and try to replicate the meal you would have if you actually ate there. Try meal planning. Try not meal planning.  

Future:
As your cooking rut won’t last forever, plan for when the rut is over: Order a food or cooking magazine subscription. Join a CSA. Ferment something - starting a vegetable ferment only takes a few minutes but the waiting time provides plenty of opportunity to discover recipes that use the fermented vegetable. Plan a five course meal in excruciating detail.  

Here are interesting articles that loosely relate to cooking ruts. Link Link

What are your tried and true methods of getting over a cooking rut?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ethiopian Food

I moved to Brandon, Manitoba from the great cosmopolitan that is T dot and it has been quite the adjustment. For some reason my desire to cook and create in the kitchen was really affected by the move. However the forthcoming (and ordered) Kittee Berns cookbook, Teff Love, inspired me to create a huge Ethiopian meal. I followed the "Ethiopian Mesob Not be Missed" suggested meal plan from Vegan Eats World but included the Keysir Allecha (Beets) from Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food.

I really like how Kittee Berns uses traditional names for dishes and helps you learn a least a little about the language. Terry Hope Romero uses bland English names for all the dishes which is quite the disappointment. 

A photo posted by Sarah (@wingedsnail99) on



The menu:
Cauliflower and Green Beans in Berbere Sauce (Vegan Eats World, 288) - really made potatoes and kale in Berbere Sauce.
Seitan Tibs Simmered in Berbere (Vegan Eats World, 168) - I used pressed tofu. I liked this dish.
Fluffly Scrambled Chickpea 'Eggs' with Shallots (Vegan Eats World, 269) - Decent but the recipe in Papa Tofu is much better.
Saucy Berber Lentils (Vegan Eats World, 165) - decent
Ethiopian Savoury Crepes (Vegan Eats World, 206)
Keysir Allecha (Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food, 50) 

The injera recipe from Vegan Eats World was the best part of this meal. I couldn't find injera ready-made for purchase in Brandon and the last time that I purchased them (in Toronto) I got a stale batch. This recipe makes decent injera (better than stale ones) and is only a 2 hour wait! They are easy to cook up as well. They may not be 'authentic' but they will definitely do in a pinch! I still want to try the recipe in Papa Tofu but I like that this recipe can be cooked up easily and they do taste decent.

I purchased the berbere spice blend and it wasn't very vibrant. I think a combination of the spice blend and the non-authentic nature of the Vegan Eats World recipes made the entire meal seem sort of... bland. I am glad that I tried the recipes from Vegan Eats World but I will be returning to the recipes in Papa Tofu and in the forthcoming Teff Love. 

The intention of the meal was to get me back into the kitchen as I had hoped that cooking a huge meal would get my culinary creative juices flowing and it has. I've been dreaming of a chocolate coconut carrot cake...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Wildflower Cafe

Brandon doesn't abound with choice when it comes to cafes but the Wildflower Cafe in downtown Brandon manages to be cute, tasty, and comfortable. They have a few vegan options and a few gluten free options which means that everyone can find something to eat. The staff is friendly and courteous. Sometimes the service is weird as the certain staff members aren't aware of what other staff members did but this is easily forgiven because the staff always have a smile on their face. 
(From UrbanSpoon)


They seem to do a brisk service all day but are especially busy on during the weekday lunch rush and Saturday morning brunch. I usually get a coffee and a sandwich during their down time and have never felt rushed out as I sit and enjoy my morning coffee with a book. I wish their weekday hours were longer as they close at 4pm and are not open on Sunday at all. 

While it doesn't seem like it when you walk in there is actually a lot of tables - as there is a second floor mezzaine and an outdoor patio so there are plenty of cute places to sit. They are pretty active on social media which is convenient for discovering the daily specials.

Overall this is the best cafe I've been to in Brandon and the service and food stands up to that served in larger communities. 

Wildflower Café on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review: Teecchino

I have removed caffeine from my diet in an effort to get my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) under control without the use of medications. However, I really enjoy iced coffee drinks so I picked up some Teeccino which markets itself as a 'herbal coffee alternative'. My local store only has the Hazelnut and Vanilla Nut Flavors. I found the ingredient list intriguing which is why I first picked this product up. The ingredients on the Hazelnut product are 'organic roasted carob, organic barley, organic chicory, dates, almonds, hazelnut flavour, organic figs'. There seems to be a lot of intriguing flavours available on the website. 

The product presents surprisingly like 'real' coffee. I use a French press and have only had this product over ice as I drank 99% of my coffee that way. This product has eased my transition into a coffee-free lifestyle and has been a tasty substitute for 'real' coffee. I will be purchasing more flavours in the future! 
  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: The Country Grind and Kombucha

I've been in love with The Country Grind since the first issue and even funded their kickstarter. I love the concept behind this quarterly paper and the content is usually superb. (In fact I'll soon be writing a complete review for my other-other blog Farm Dreams.)  


However, Issue #3 has a full page article on kombucha entitled "Kombucha A What, Why and How-To" that includes some information that is contrary to my personal kombucha brewing experience. (Browse the kombucha tag for more of my experiences) 

For example, the author states that one should "be sure not to use brown sugar or honey." However, it is my understanding that a jun is a kombucha that is fed entirely and solely on honey and green tea. All of my reading on kombucha states that you can use any type of sweetener including brown sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup ect. 

Additionally, the author states that one should "never leave your mother out in the air. You want it to always be hydrated as it will die if it's dried out." Later on in the article she writes "Never allow your mother to sit dry; it can be in the air for short periods of time but leave it too long and the mother will die and you will have to get a new one." However, my experience with drying and then resuscitating a SCOBY opposes this viewpoint.

The actual brewing steps are presented in a clean, concise and easy to follow manner so I'm positive that a newbie brewer would have no problems brewing a basic batch of kombucha by following the directions presented. 

I really don't like the advice about mold as the author states "I have never experienced mold on my mother but it is known to happen. Just dunk the mother in some vinegar and rinse with water. Some molds can be dangerous, so using your judgement, decide if you should go get a new one or not." I always tell others to throw away a SCOBY if it presents with mold as I feel this is the safest and most responsible choice of action, especially given that SCOBY's are usually cheap/free.

Overall this is a good basic primer for a newbie kombucha brewer but I would suggest taking her points regarding drying and mold with a grain of salt.