Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Naan bread mission complete


Recipe here:

I subbed 1/4 whole wheat flour (1/2 out of 2 cups), and let the individual balls rise about 30 mins after dividing.

On hobbies and addiction

After my promise last time, I've spent the past couple weeks thinking about what to post on. Sure, I've cooked. I've continued with my clean eating habits, meaning that my meals (especially those I pack for work) have consisted of grains. Wheatberries with greek salad toppings. Quinoa - topped with julienned root vegetables and herbs, with a bright lemony dressing (a la My New Roots again)

which became this:

Someday perhaps I will really commit to this and get a real camera.

I also made a few soba noodle salads, again with julienne vegetables. For some reason I love the look of these types of noodle/grain dishes, with the different coloured vegetables all organized into neat little sections (perhaps I'm just showing off my knife skills to our chef, hoping to get a back of house job - She did ask me "did you cut that by hand" "yes" "do you want a job?" !!!!). I used Heidi (as usual) for inspiration, but my dressing was recipe-free: some miso, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and homemade roasted chili oil. Last week I was craving dumplings so I thought "dumplings from scratch! So much better" - and I made this dumpling filling...then never got around to the dough, so I just ate it straight up the other day. Topped with scallions, garlic chili sauce, sesame oil and a touch of soy. Delicious!

So, I cooked. And I spent a lot of my free time discovering new food blogs (shocking!) A particular favourite right now is Damaris @
Kitchen Corners

I swear this is all bringing me to a point. Hopefully. The other day I read this post from Food blogga and had to laugh, while also feeling better that there are others out there like me! People who buy way too much produce and then spend their free hours trying to "deal with it". I was reminded of this today when my friend Stephen invited me over for dinner, and I had to say - "sorry I have to eat the leftover Indian food I slaved over last night." Oh! And "I have to actually make homemade naan to go with it this time! Also, I should probably make some kind of wrap with that naan to use some of the black beans I cooked the other day...maybe with some carmelized onions and sauteed kale???
And how about I make some quinoa so I can try this salad for lunch on my Friday double??" (Yes I read through all 31 salads). "I did buy too many avocadoes and too many grape tomatoes for one person yesterday!"

And thus a post topic was born.

Ok. My name is Sarah and I'm an addict. A food addict.

That sounds a little wrong. Sure I have my issues with food. But I don't have a food addiction necessarily, where I use food for the wrong reasons and have a compulsion to eat. My hobby has just become all consuming. Well, really it has been this way for awhile - perhaps since studying Food Politics for my Masters. But back then, I loved cooking, yet I saw food more as a forum and a universal theme for social change. I certainly still believe that to be the case, yet my daily life revolves around what new recipes I want to research and try, what ingredients and techniques have I not yet explored, and what is in my fridge that needs to be used. In some ways I have lost touch with the change I used to want to create. In some ways, perhaps, my hands are in it deeper than ever. I am inspired by something I recently read from Umami Girl

"I love the way it feels to live a daily life full of small, edible victories"

[I could expound on this greatly, to make this post even more lengthy - I'll keep it at this: the basic point of my thesis was that in order to create true lasting
changes, it is important to build viable alternatives, while also opposing the dominant systems. To me, this alternative building is the essence of Umami girl's quote. As Gandhi said "we must build the shell of the new inside of the shell of the old."]

One thing all this food blog reading does is inspire and motivate me. How much would I love to be one of these women, who have made their food obsessions into income-generating careers. However, it also reminds me of my graduate thesis, and the doubts I had about continuing to a phd - what is the point, of writing MORE articles to sit in a library (or an online database now) that .00001% of the population will ever read, and may or most likely will not have any impact on the world. Navel gazing? What is the point of me writing this blog?? For now, I'll say the point is for myself, to keep a record of things I have cooked, in one place, instead of multiple recipe journals scattered around.

At the same time, I admire these women who have turned their food "obsessions" (passions???) into viable careers. I mentioned this to my friend Dan the other day:

"Hey Dan, I've been reading a lot (read - perhaps even more than usual) of food blogs lately. I wonder if there's any way I can turn my hobby/love (read - obsession) for food into something financially rewarding""
Dan: "Oh REALLY?!?! I've only been telling you this for HOW LONG?!!!! Make a business plan for fucks sake already!!!"

Oh ya, this is what I made last night:

Bhindi Masala with Paneer and Gobi Mutter. With mint, cucumber, cilantro raita.
And the naan bread balls are on their second proof.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day: aka single appreciation day

So, its been over a month and no new posts from me. Still haven't posted the blood orange marmalade recipe! I rock ;) Oddly, that brings me to the topic of this post - how much I am happy and at peace with myself lately.

I had a mini-staycation last week (for me that means two days off in a row - weekdays so I'm not necessarily out and about the whole time), and I discovered this awesome food blog My New Roots. Sarah (B!) is from Ontario, went to a holistic nutrition school in Toronto (a school I myself have looked into), and now is a cook at some vegetarian restaurants in Copenhagen. Her blog is filled with nutritional information, delicious vegetarian recipes, and beautiful photography. I found a link there from Heidi at 101 cookbooks, another of my favourites. Prompted by my 48+ hours of uninterrupted ME time, and my readings on My New Roots, I cooked up a storm of healthy things! I also started doing yoga on a MUCH more regular basis again.

I made roasted spicy chickpeas (to eat when my salty/crunchy cravings hit), cooked some lentils and quinoa to turn into salads to bring to work, started some broccoli sprouts and got my juicer out of its 6 year cupboard hibernation. For dinner I had garlicky roasted mushrooms, sauteed red chard (also with garlic!), and french lentils. From the basic lentils I also made this curried lentil salad.

After these lovely few days, I had to go back to work every night this past weekend. But I had so much positive energy! I've also been reading another amazing blog lately - Waiter Rant - and I'm working my way through the archives. Slowly. It is beautifully written. Steve now has a couple of books, and is obviously an accomplished writer. He also went to seminary school for theology earlier in life, and while he (thankfully) doesn't ooze religious views into his writing, there is certainly a philosophical slant to things. And despite the title (I'd heard of his book, and was skeptical at first) he illuminates both the funny/cynical side of serving, while integrating many heartwarming and also sad stories. It has made me even more conscious and passionate about what I do. Steve has a post at one point about serving being an outlet for shy people - something we can do that allows us to connect (for short periods of determined time) with others. On a related note, I was talking with some friends (during our post-work drinks-decompression) about how our society is so isolated - how awkward it is on the subway sometimes with everyone trying to stay within their own cell phone/book/newspaper/ipod bubble and avoid eye contact. I remarked that one thing that makes serving so wonderful is the fact that each and every day I have the opportunity to connect and impact dozens of people. Dozens of strangers.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty blissed out. All of which is a very long and drawn out explanation for the topic at hand (gee, maybe I should update more often!) Today is Valentines Day. Some of my friends (and I'm sure many, many people) are moping about, sad and/or bitter to be single. Me: I'm at peace. More than at peace, I'm thankful, and happy. I love my life, my job, my friends, my family. I'm excited for my future. I'm enjoying living each day, giving to myself, expending my energy on ME (along with all those guests!) I'm genuinely happy for all those people who are in truly loving relationships, but I know that is not what I want right now. Or, at least, it is not something I feel lacking of. That said, I'm happy I had the night off (class in the morning!) to give back to myself. I made a nice meal:

No recipe. Its just roasted golden and regular beets, VERY thinly sliced chioggia (or candy cane) beets, some baby greens, tarragon and mint. With blood orange, buffalo mozzarella and some olive oil, ramp pickling liquid and fleur de sel. Very pretty, very tasty. Now some wine, a salt bath, and a wine book.

I hope everyone out there had a wonderful day as well.