Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mango and Chili Salsa and My Thoughts on Cuisinart's Smart Stick

I have mentioned, a few times now, the new Cuisinart Smart Stick which my mom gave me when I was home in April. I used it to puree the fruit for my ice cream, and to whip up a hummus last Sunday. Last night I used it to make an AMAZING Mango and Chili Salsa, and was really impressed with the chopping capability of this hand held appliance. I admit to some trepidation and foresaw a Mango and Chili smoothie rather then the consistency that I needed for my salsa. But, Cuisinart pulled threw and true to the adverts word, I ended up with some nicely chopped veg for my recipe - which, if I were writing a cookbook, would feature FOR SURE.

We had the salsa with tofu sandwiches, which I think was inspired from my recent readings of PinkHairedGirl . Our sandwiches were super basic - grilled tofu, avocado slices and the salsa on a multi-grain baguette. K also broiled some sweet potatoes and made a nice tomato salad with some mint and olive oil.

Here is the salsa recipe - enjoy!

Mango and Chili Salsa
1/2 ripe mango - peeled
1/2 green chili - seeds removed
1 - 2 cloves of garlic
5 spring onions
1/2 cucumber

1 handful of cilantro
lemon juice to taste
pepper to taste

Into the SmartStick I added the mango, chili and garlic and cucumber first. I transferred this batch to a bowl and then chopped the rest of the ingredients. When I combined both batches of chopped goodness I gave it a quick stir. Dead simple and super yummy. It would have also been tasty in burritos or all by itself. Ours was a little spicy - we like it hot - so if you wanted to go for a smaller chunk of chili I don't think it would augment the flavour too much.

But all recipe writing aside - if you are looking for a kitchen appliance that is versatile, smart and easily stored then I would strongly recommend picking up your own SmartStick. It is like have a food processor without a commitment to counterspace! (and cuisinart didn't even pay me to say this!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Quick (com) Post

I just wanted to share a couple of little eco-goodies that have been happening at our house for the last little while. Having seen so much success, I thought I might toss these ideas into blogland...though I am sure they are already happening in so many of your houses already.

1. Soapy Nuts!
A while back, while researching which diapers were going to cover the bum of the Littlest Vegan, I came across this new/ancient method of washing clothes (and just about everything else). The Green Parent recommended the product via a Reader's test drive type article, and I would give them a try - as I had seen them about in a few of the Brussels' health food shops.

K was skeptical - of course, being staunch about things like laundry and what makes a 'meal' (aka not cereal at dinner time). But, this Mamma Vegan was not about to be duped by the him and his doubting-ways, and saw to it that I loaded our eco-washer properly and popped in enough nuts. Sure enough, the clothes came out smelling like roses and Kevin was impressed - he currently raves about them at every opportunity.

Taking the sustainability one step further - I get to reuse the hell out of these nuts. I do three loads with about 4 full nuts in their little cloth sack and then dump them into a little bowl that when full with about 10 nuts I pour boiling water into and use the soap froth as the water to wash my floors, sinks and tub!!! Love it. You can also make soap nut shampoo and bathing soap...but since I heart my Body Shop products so much, this hasn't quite happened yet.

Coolest thing - two moms who I shared my nut-success with went out and bought a bag o'nuts themselves and have been washing up with nut juice ever since. If you are interested in this magical nut power (derived from the ancient wisdom of Indian and Chinese folks and their soap nut trees) read this SoapNuts Canada website - loads of info - haha, 'loads'of info!

2. Apartment Composting!
My last house in Toronto would have been perfect for the uber-huge composter of Kevin and mine's dreams. Kevin, who is an A1 gardener and loves nothing more than coming home and going right outside to hang out with his Rosemary, Chives and lettuce, would love to make our own soil. But alas, this isn't Toronto, and there is nothing uber-huge about our back we had accepted the sad reality of probably not being able to compost. Being vegan (and mostly vegan K) I felt that not composting was INSANE - as most of our garbage is raw/fresh veg and grain foodstuff we found a solution - and it has worked really well for about 3 months now. The place where we both work has a HUGE compost pile, where they toss all cafeteria scraps (mega-cool, I think) and it is really conveniently located by the parking lot. So....during the week, K and I collect, in a plastic bucket, all the bits and pieces of our foodstuff that needs a' tossin' and every Friday we lug it to the communal compost heap and throw it in! How wicked is that? I love love love that we do it. Granted - we don't get the soil, but we do feel good knowing that our rubish is making soil for the school and not rotting away on some already overpacked landfill.
(I thought a picture of the exterior of the bucket might be better...since this IS a food blog and I don't want to make you LOSE your lunch)

Enough eco-pats on the back.
Here is what I got up to today -

Hearty Vegetable and Dill Soup

6 carrots
6 potatoes
1 red pepper
10 spring onions
6 cups of water
1 tin of beans (your choice)
1 bunch of dill

I wanted to clear the fridge, so I thought I would whip up a protein rich soup and have something to show for my efforts. This soup is what I got! Here's hoping that Kevin is in a soupy mood when he gets home from work....but to quote my mom "this isn't a damn restaurant" so if he doesn't like it...he knows where the falafel hut is down the street!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Healthy Market Goodness

Mmmmm lots of tasty treats to share!

Let's start with our post-market Sunday lunch.
We had a wonderful Asparagus and Snap pea Salad with Homemade Dill Hummus. Fantastic combos with fresh market bread; I just adored the fresh snap peas, wow, so refreshing. The Hummus has featured in our lunches this week, along with a Eggplant Spread.

I also wanted to share the desert I made for K, which was super quick and totally tasty and cute. I made a Couscous Cake using whole wheat couscous, apricots, maple syrup and a little single serving pie dish I had bought a while back from Dhile and Cammile (great kitchen/house shop here in North West Europe). This would work really well covered naughtily with maple syrup or some other type of decadent sauce.

For Sunday night supper I had made, earlier in the afternoon, a Tofu Sausage and Barlotti Bean Casserole. This simple dish was divine by the end of the day, having sat with the Rosemary sprigs from our garden all afternoon.

Tonight for dinner I wanted to change up our usual bean burritos a little bit, and the result was a recipe I will for sure put together again. I added spinach, parsley, nutritional yeast and green onion to our usual recipe (I know, I know...nothing radical but it was super tasty).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coconut-Cardamon-Mango Icecream

Mmmmm....the weather in Brussels has actually allowed me to have the back door open all weekend (all LONG weekend that is....had Thursday AND Friday off....). Right now Kevin is fast asleep, and the kittens have abandoned my snuggles for their first love: back garden time!!! So, I am sitting in the kitchen, door wide open, bowl of mango and banana slices all finished up and I am writing REPORT CARDS! I am not one of those teaching-folk who (understandably) loath report card writing (like my husband for example). I actually really enjoy writing about the kids and having the time to process how far we have all come as a class. I have about 17 math comments left and then I am done. No, really - I am done - that's it. I have FOUR little days of work left (I had to take Thursday off for one of my last few midwife appointments). It is going to be really hard to let some of my kids go - the ones who I have taught for two years now, and who have gone the longest in making my wacky year a little more manageable. But - not to fear, I will find ways to stay in touch - they aren't getting rid of me that easily.

I have loads of food updates. I have just been busy nesting and buying the last few things for our scheduled (please keep your vegan fingers crossed) home birth (goggles, a tarp....just kidding about the goggles). But, yesterday, Kevin MADE me buy an ice cream maker that I have mumbling about for about a year. It is one of the models with the built in freezer, so you don't have to try and get the little freezing unit into your European sized freezer (never would have worked). So, yeah. After much deliberation, we decided on making Vanilla-Cardamon-Mango Icecream as our first batch. And OH MY GOSH. Yum Yum. Pretty easy too. I imagine this new kitchen appliance will be getting lots of use this about Breast Milk Icecream? Anyone ever try that recipe???

Coconut-Cardamon-Mango Icecream

2 tsp of arrowroot
1/4 cup of soymilk
2 cups of coconut milk
1 additional cup of soymilk
1 mango (sliced and then pureed)
5 or less cardomon pods
1 tsp of vanilla
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1 kick ass ice cream maker

I mixed the arrowroot and 1/4 cup of s.m together - and let it thicken up. I added the coconut milk and 1 cup of s.m to a pot and warmed it up, letting it thicken on its own time (about 3 minutes), I then added the arrowroot and watched the cool chemistry project moment of the two bits combining to make a much thicker consistency. I added the rest of the goodies, including the mango puree (which I whipped up in my super wicked awesome new Cuisine Art Smart Stick - Thanks Mom!). I then stuck the whole concoction in the fridge, gave it some time to rest and then threw it in the icecream maker and let it do its thing. I am so excited to keep playing with this thing! Yummmmy. Chocolate is next.

But of course, this was our desert - dinner was super yummy too - and mostly the work of Kevin who found a great zucchini salad recipe in Green Parent. We topped the grilled and dilled zuch with our marinated tofu steaks and served this salad with a totally amazing Parsley and Eggplant Puree. Seriously fantastic stuff. Way to go Kevin.

All is well in baby-baking land - 37 weeks this coming Wednesday. The time is just flying by. One of these days you are all going to find yourself with an introduction to The Littlest Vegan. He is excited to meet all of you out there in BlogLand!

Be well!!!