Cabbage Steak and 'Tatoes

Cabbage steak might seem boring, but it’s actually holds rich flavour and a great texture. I knew as soon as I read the Cabbage Steak and ‘Tatoes recipe from The Vegan Stoner that it was exactly what I like in a recipe. A few ingredients and simple prep always make for a better experience preparing a meal, and usually in actually eating it. The results were just what I hoped for. I made some minor changes, including topping with garlic chili sauce, but I highly recommend looking at the original if only for the great design.

Ingredients:

  • 1 red cabbage, cut into large wedges
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into pieces
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat an oven to 420° F.
  2. Oil casserole dishes or cooking sheets.
  3. Place potatoes and cabbage on the sheets.
  4. Sprinkle olive oil, garlic powder and pepper to taste.
  5.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Flip cabbage and potatoes.
  7. Add the minced garlic on top of the cabbage.
  8. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Mid-Run Blackberries

Along the running path I use most often there are blackberry bushes.  I’ve noticed them ripening and yesterday I picked a handful as I dashed past.  Today I paused in the middle of my 10km run and gathered a small bag of berries to share with Tonet.

Halifax Seaport Market Adventures

This weekend I went to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market for the first time in over a month. It’s not just a great spot for a vegan because of the fresh fruits and vegetables, but also has some explicitly vegan vendors, such as FruitionRawthentic Chocolate and Crowbar Real Foods (try the avocado fudge!).

Another vegan in the area, +Ashley Leslie, has shared “Vegan Halifax– A Guide“. In the piece Ashley detailed a lot of great options for vegans in this city and wrote the following about the market:

“The market offers of course fresh local produce but there are also a few vegan companies that are set up there too. Rawthetic chocolates offers raw dairy and gluten-free chocolates and almost all are vegan, The Main Squeeze is a juice bar offering healthy juices, and they also carry Crowbar Real Foods, which also has its own stand. Crowbar is a local all vegan energy bar company. You can also find them at places like Planet Organic and Pete’s. Osha Mae Soaps is an artisan soaperie who’s product line is almost entirely vegan, The Kind Cookie is an all vegan baking company that makes cookies, bars, donuts, muffins and more. Fruition is always on site, they are an all vegan and raw restaurant that makes snacks, almond milk, dips, desserts and more. Jitterbug Sodas makes real vegan sodas with fruit juice and nothing artificial.Gali’s Healthy Kitchen makes raw chocolates. She marks all vegan but most have honey so read ingredients. She is a very sweet lady and I discussed the honey issue with her. Little Red Kitsch’n offers a different menu each time, always has a vegan option.”

Check out the full article if you live in the area or plan to visit Halifax because it covers a lot of the best this city has to offer.

My meal at the market was a departure from my usual market experience. I got a veggie combo from a Caribbean food stand that was delicious.

Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho

Last weekend a friend had a birthday gathering in our house and I decided to make gazpacho for the first time for the celebration. I found it to be very refreshing and delicious. It was well received and I’m sure it will become a summer staple for me because it was so easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (about 1 kg or 2 lbs) watermelon, cut into chunks (chilled)
  • 5 medium tomatoes (about 0.7 kg or 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 cup chopped red onion (1/2 separated for garnish)
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber (1/2 of one medium cucumber) for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree about half of the watermelon and transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining watermelon and other ingredients (except for the cucumber and second half cup of onion) to the blender or food processor and blend.
  3. Stir with the reserved watermelon puree and serve cold, topped with the diced cucumber and onion.

The recipe I used, modified only slightly, can be found at “Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho” on the Vegan Cuts Blog. There, it was suggested that leftovers can be used in exciting ways.

Although it’s best eaten just a few hours after preparation, it can be kept for several days if you insist. You can even use the leftover soup to make ice cubes, and later use the soup cubes as the foundation of a frozen Bloody Mary. Sounds like summer, right?

I recommend Vegan Cuts highly for great vegan food and other items. I subscribe to their monthly snack box and have been impressed.

French Milk (and Stop Paying Attention)

I started reading Lucy Knisley‘s Stop Paying Attention webcomic several years ago. It could be insightful and the art was always very well done. A favourite strip of mine is “Being Awkward vs Awkward Situations“.

I hadn’t read any of Lucy’s collected work until last week when I picked up French Milk. It’s an autobiographical account of a visit to Paris, relationships with parents and eating food. Travel and food comics are two of my favourite genres, so I was excited to dive in.

The art didn’t disappoint me. Lucy’s drawings are clear, charming and are superb vehicles for revealing both Paris and the emotional world Lucy inhabited. There was a lot to admire in visual aspects of the work and it was a joy to look at the art throughout the book.

The book is a travel and food memoir, but it is also very clearly concerned with anxieties of growing up and familial relationships. There are many poignant moments and the account seems very honest. As a snapshot of a 22-year-old artist, I think it’s excellent.

A problem I did notice was Lucy’s apparent ignorance of privilege. This may be a reflection of a young artist’s self-absorption, but it was jarring at points to read complaints, celebrations and self-pity over things that would be trivial or extravagant for many, if not most, of us. Reviewers also picked up on this flaw, and I think it’s a valid reason to be hesitant in wholeheartedly recommending the book. I see evidence of growth beyond this in Stop Paying Attention, so I believe Lucy’s incredible talent won’t be dulled by that distraction in the same way again, and I can look past the contracted character to see excellent storytelling.

Lucy’s latest book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen was released in April to a lot of praise. Lucy’s website and Tumblr are both full of excellent content.

a Bite of Buenos Aires

Two of my favourite comic genres are food comics and travel comics, and a Bite of Buenos Aires excited me because it was both. +Linus Nyström has created a webcomic that brings the experience of being in a foreign city vividly to life.

The comic details Linus’ time wintering in Argentina with a focus on local food and culture. I was pleased to see a couple pages about Yerba Mate, a drink I enjoy a lot. The comic is filled with other small, revealing moments about life in what seems to be a thrilling city.

Linus has translated the webcomic from its original Swedish and it is mostly very clear.

My name is Linus Nyström and I’m an illustrator. At the moment, I live in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and this is my travel diary.

Linus also has a portfolio full of great pieces.

Cooking Up Comics

Comics about food have been coming onto my reading lists a lot recently and that has been delightful. Alisa Harris‘ charming Cooking Up Comics features recipes delivered in comic form every Wednesday. The recipes are all vegetarian or vegan and the vegetarian ones often either include alterations for making the dishes vegan or have obvious substitutions. A nice touch is that the recipes are seasonal, so the ingredients are usually easy to find when the comic is posted.

Some recipes I liked:

This site combines two of my favorite things: drawing comics and vegetarian cooking. Even if you’re not a strict vegetarian, we can all benefit from eating more vegetables. Cooking Up Comics will give you some delicious new recipes to try out. Get ready to impress that vegetarian friend, family member, or significant other with some great main courses, sides and desserts!

Each week you’ll find a new recipe for the current growing season. Although you can find most of the ingredients in a regular grocery store year round, I encourage you to seek out locally grown vegetables. This is getting easier in cities thanks to Farmers’ Markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs).

I am by no means a professional chef. While in high school, I once ruined a batch of instant pudding. From a box. So if I learned how to cook, that means you can too! I hope this site encourages you to try your own recipe variations and to be creative in the kitchen.

Dirt Candy

Comics and food are two of my favourite things, and Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant blends the two in an exciting way. It’s part autobiography of a restaurant owner and chef, part learning resource for kitchen skills, part history book and part cookbook. It’s entirely rewarding.

Dirt Candy includes explanations of complex cooking terminology and clearly explains, through comics, how to do many of the steps called for in advanced recipes. There are cooking methods explained within that I hadn’t attempted in part because of intimidation, but after reading I feel I have a good grasp of concepts such as blanching and shocking foods. The comics format is perfect for this kind of instructional material.

The book is full of great surprises, such as a section on why hiring illegal immigrants is valuable to everyone involved. It included the heartbreaking story of a family who had immigrated illegally. The book is about food broadly; it covers a lot of what it takes to operate a restaurant, food history, how meals are priced and reveals some of the challenges faced before the doors opened.

I usually gravitate to simple recipes and there are not many of those in this book. It has actually been nice to explore some food ideas outside my normal comfort zone. The dishes tend to be complex and have suggestions for presentation; the cookbook is decidedly coming from restaurant culture, and that has been an interesting shift to make when working with them. The recipes are vegetarian but usually have suggested modifications for making them vegan, which I appreciated.

Dirt Candy is packed with content and the comic format makes it very easy to digest. It has joined the ranks of both my favourite cookbooks and my favourite comics.

The Dirt Candy cookbook is 224 pages of pure comic book madness: the entire Dirt Candy experience wrapped up between two covers. Part graphic novel, part cookbook, it’s written by the chef and owner of Dirt Candy, Amanda Cohen, drawn by Ryan Dunlavey, the award-winning comic book criminal behind Action Philosophers, and ably assisted by the writer Grady Hendrix (who is also Amanda’s husband). This book answers all your burning questions.

Why is your salad $14? What are the tawdry, over-sexed roots of vegetarian food? How hard is it to open a restaurant? What’s the secret to cooking awesome vegetables? Does Martha Stewart like Dirt Candy? Who is the panda? What is the monkey? How do you make deep fried cheese curds? Why is corn not on the menu? Is cooking magic? What are the three myths of vegetables? All of these questions and more, plus dozens of recipes (both vegan and non-), can be found between the covers of the Dirt Candy cookbook.

Dirt Candy can be ordered in paper and ebook formats. All Things Considered did a feature on the book, “‘Dirt Candy’: A Visual Veggie Cookbook With A Memoir Mixed In” that included a sample recipe, “Roasted Cauliflower With White Wine Pappardelle And Pine Nut Parmesan”.