Monday, September 11, 2017

Meal Preps & shout out to Moon @Things2Eat



Hey Folks,

I know it has been a long hiatus and those on Instagram can vouch that I have in fact been eating however I have not been cooking. Some may know I got a new job working for Via Rail, which means most of my days are spent on a long haul train, the rest in a hotel in montreal and occasionally a few days back home in bed. As such, since my move to Dartmouth cooking has fallen by the wayside and honestly that bums me and my stomach out.

Sure we've had some tasty food here and there but for the most part, it has been sparse. I still follow all kinds of you lovely folks online with your cooking adventures from the side lines but as fortune has it I have a whopping 4 days home; I've been following alone the lovely Moon's @Things2Eat blog project where she crafts menu plans from blogs around the vegan-sphere. So please, please, please check out her mailing list and meal plans.
@Things2Eat
**Menu Plan Sept 3-9 Original post+recipes**

So yesterdays big adventure was getting groceries which I haven't done in months, I mean MONTHS. With my schedule more often then not things when bad, and there just wasn't time which also meant there wasn't fresh food and so you can see why some of my recent grams were a bit bland.

Meal Preps in action, carnage from multiple recipes on going.
One thing I think I would like to start doing is keeping a better photo record of receipts and food prices here, because it seems they can be somewhat steep or maybe I can work harder on spending less. Let me know if you folks would be interested in seeing more grocery hauls & cost stuff, or if I should leave it to Instagram posts.


As you can see yesterday's adventure amounted to around 100$ but this included non-meal plan items, snacks for board games and a few non-vegan things Adam got. 100$ a week is steep for my usual costs but seems on par with what folks are spending for families (What do you roughly spend on groceries a week?). Some of this will also last longer then a week and many items needed for the menu plan Moon set up I already had so I spent 39.49$ CAD on this meal plan (few things were on sale, plus I subbed red onions/leeks for white onions, used jarred lime juice I already had, skipped all fresh herbs because they are 2-3$ a pop here).


For me the most expensive ingredients were Vegan Ranch @5.49$, 1.79$ avocado, and red peppers 4.06$. I also realized during cooking I didn't buy good bread for the cassoulet so I am gonna go back out and I imagine it will be around 5$. But enough about food costs & my frugal cost cutting.




I didn't follow Moon's directions exactly and I have left a few meals to make later, part way through prepping the bowls, the cassoulet, the lentils, the salad and soaking the chickpeas I realized I might be going on the train Wed and to make a full pot of soup in addition to all these things was potentially Too much food even if I pack leftovers for MTRL & on Board. Since my freezer is still busting, I can't do my usual freeze half for later tactic. But since the corn was on sale, I would like to use it before it goes bad and the coconut milk can is open so I believe I will prep the corn and freeze it in the coconut milk with the red pepper. As the onions/garlic/potatoes are both cheap to buy and should keep until I am home.
Sheet pan full of vegetables for Minimalist Bakers Buddah Bowls. #mealprep
 I also realized I had forgotten to get bread, so what I wound up doing was prepping the cassoulet sans bread and my plan will be to get some after the meeting tomorrow take the dutch oven out of the fridge and bake it for dinner tomorrow so it all works out. I also think maybe the original author of the recipe used a much larger dutch oven or a more shallow one as my tomatoes/beans were incredibly liquid so I kept cooking to reduce it a bit more and thicken the sauce.
Anna Jone's Tomato Coconut Cassoulet (a bit bastardized by me & being cheap). I am going to chill it like this and resume the baking when I have bread
  Not sure why coconut is in the title with only 4tbs that don't seem to add a whole lot but I imagine it increases the richness. I also added dried basil to simmer a bit, not the same as fresh by any means but it will hopefully get me closer to the authors initial creation. I have also learned I need to take some time when I am laid off to inventory my pantry because many of the staples I sore I had in spades are low or exhausted but that is a project for another day.
The Garden Grazer's Lentil Black Bean Cumin and Lime Salad. This will be great train/lunch food and keeps super well. I imagine I will be coming back to this & maybe spending the extra $ for parsley

There is just something satisfying about beans soaking in the fridge over night and prep/chopping a ton of veggies as you stew/roast and mix various things. I miss the kitchen juggling act, with timers beeping at different times when you need to toss the sweet potatoes or reduce the lentils or simmer the sauces. I hope this long winded post finds you all happy and still cooking.

xoxoxox

B.A.D.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Vegamofo: Fusion food!

Yet another awesome home run for Joni w/ Vegan Fusion Kitchen this might be one of my new favourite books so what better way to christen it then with today's (yesterdays?) Veganmofo fusion challenge.

I made the fantastic sweet chili grilled tofu and bok choy sandwich with has a variety of tasty compotents included marinated sweet chili grilled tofu with it's super simple sweet chili sauce. It's not as thick as the store bought thai sweet chili sauce but the flavours are fantastic and you likely already have everything you need.

This sandwich features the grilled tofu (which I will be eating all week! yum!), with some grilled bok choy and a fantastic siracha mayo recipe (which I kinda cheated on and made with veganases like Joni mentions in the intro).
Since my tofu was frozen, I defrosted and marinated it over night then at lunch I just grilled the whole batch at once.


I had a freezer full of brown bread, but this sandwich really deserves baking sour dough rolls.

Joni provides a kick ass recipe to make this from scratch but since I had a near empty bottle of Veganase I took her lazy suggestion and added siracha chili sauce and sesame oil.


I am also going to prep a bunch of my produce to freeze today and hopefully get the dumpling filling ready for tomorrow's post. I am unsure if a preserving vegetable post is that interesting to folks, so let me know otherwise I might just snap a picture for instagram to keep folks updated on what I am Mofoing!

 I feel so behind with the themes! But I love seeing everyone's posts so keep it up.

<3 p="">

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vegan mofo: Day 8 across the globe

Super fast easy dinner tonight a chow mein low mein combo as I was flipping through Chinese Vegetarian Cookery a thrift store gem from a few years ago.
 

I had lofty plans for dumplings but I want to get some decent photos and it is now far to dark so stay tuned!

This book is super dense with easy recipes and basic techniques a real joy to read. I read through a few different recipes before throwing together dinner.
 
Chopped 1 carrot 2 baby bokchoy minced ginger and garlic with bean sprouts and tofu + boiled rice noodles and all spice
 
Key is to chop all your vegetables first heat oil with garlic ginger and seasoning then toss in your hardest vegetables first and quickly move them around the pan. Adjust seasoning and toss in water as you cook once your firm veggies are done add your drained noodles and hit everything with soy sauce before adding your lighter greens and bean sprouts

 

Veganmofo: Day 8: Bonus post! Turn it around

Ok, so as some of you already know from my FB post etc I am going to make dumplings for today's @Veganmofo theme however my wrappers are still defrosting. So I decided to find something to do with the carrot soup my mom made me from her garden.

See here is the thing, she made the soup and pureed it then frozen it to give to me. Sounds fine right? Except the pureed carrots went really weird when I defrosted it in the fridge.
So weird.


It's like baby food mixed with juicer pulp, basically a carrot slushy with lots of stringy carrot fiber. I tried re-heating and stiring it but it is safe to say this soup will not be going back together any time soon. I didn't want to waste food, let alone home grown produce! So I checked the PPK forums for things to do with weirdly pureed vegetables to find something that could save this from the compost and as usual the ppk didn't disapoint. I found this awesome thread where folks made suggestions on what to do with the leftover pulp from making an Indian Tomato soup. Using their scraps in Appetite for Reductions Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits.

So I had a game plan and used the recipe from the book, I used an immersion blender to blend the carrot soup pulp (I strained away the liquid then added just enough liquid back to make up a full 1 cup) and a few tablespoons of apple sauce just to make sure it held together. I also added some thyme and Rosemary with the nutmeg as this was going to be a savory style bread.

Glorious results!
The dough was really, really wet likely because the carrot pulp is not as thick as mashed sweet potato so I wound up adding a bit more flour but the biscuits were still really wet more like muffin batter. I decided to try it out anyway, so I dropped half on the baking sheet and spooned the rest into muffin molds. The results were pretty great!

They turned out slightly bitter which might be from the lack of sweetness mixed with the ACV but still very tasty with vegan butter.

It just goes to show that even when things don't turn out there is usually a way to make something new.



Monday, November 7, 2016

Veganmofo: Day 7: Homtown food/ Grocery Haul Halifax

Since I cheated and already posted a #VeganDonair and the Donair is what Halifax, NS is likely most famoous for in terms of dishes I figured I would use this post to show you folks my recent food hauls and talk a bit about food prices in Nova Scotia.

Halifax and Nova Scotia have some of our countries worst food prices, which makes eating and eating well in this province a struggle for many families. I am fortune enough to get by most weeks and longer at under 100$ or more by shopping of flyers and spending time doing my homework on what's on sale where.

The biggest budget tip would be to check your flyers, stick with whole foods, try and keep a stock of staples and check the discount produce rack. Through getting cheap frozen vegetables when they are on sale and buying produce stores are trying to clean then freezing it myself I get by.

As you can see this is a pretty decent haul that will last me over 1 week. Total cost: 59.28$
So anyway here is my grocery haul! I lucked out hitting super store on barrington street because they had all kinds of Asian Vegetables marked way down.

Everything pictured here came out to a total of 59.28$ including a few splurge purchases like Vegan Cheese (4.99$ it was 1$ off the usual 5.99$) and both Vegan Pepperoni( 4.49 which was reduced from 5$) and Vegan Ground Round, again reduced to 3.79$ where the more expensive purchase followed by the giant cereal bag which was 9.49$. I know cereal is crazy expensive.
 

Because I found baby bok choy on sale for 1.99$ each plus one bag was reduced by another 50% off , Daikon raddish for 1.38$ and Nappa Cabage for  1.75$ I figured I would load up on ingredients for noodle bowls and dumplings. As I have some dumpling wrappers in the freezer I added some hot peppers, thick rice noodles, cucumber, ginger, and green onions to the cart along with some soft tofu (1.99$ each) which is the best price I've seen on tofu in ages.
 
I was also able to score some broccoli, cauliflower, orange, bag of apples, and yellow peppers all on the reduce rack taking typically 5$ range veggies down to under 2$ each. I splurged on the cereal because it's one of the few foods A will eat and having a quick breakfast option for a week never hurts.

Because I had company over on the weekend I splurged on both Mock Meats to make a giant pot of spaghetti sauce, a tradition with my guest and the ingredients to make a vegan pepperoni pizza because it's cheaper then ordering out. I also got hotdog buns 50% off for A, as he has leftover hot dogs from his grocery run and I think I have some veggie dogs in the freezer. If not I'll have to try out the carrot dog recipe as I have 2 kl of carrots in the fridge.


The sales on vegetables and the 50% rack really paid off this trip because I was able to get fruit that wasn't bananas (apples 1.49$) and fresh vegetables including a selection of heartier greens that will do well in the freezer or cold room.

I also got mushrooms on special for 2.50$ and loaded up on self stable vegan milk as we'd been running out. I got more bananas, green ones as I had 3-4 from last shopping trip. I also got some vegan instant ramen that can be bulked up with the vegetables and tofu + broad rice noodles for hot pot.

This food will likely last me over a week and I'll show some bulk preps for freezing things before they go bad and hopefully have some further posts coming up on how I used everything pictured below plus a super fun haul form the Asian Grocery Store too.

This shop could have been done for a bit less without the splurge items, but considering how many luxury items I purchased and the volume of food gotten for under 60$ I think I did ok. This will easily last 2+ weeks combined with foods I have at home in my pantry and freezer.

In fact, I could have gotten away with just the fresh produce order as I do have some rice noodles and other pastas at home. But given our house guests I wanted to be a bit fancier. Making your own seitan mock meats or using the TVP I have stored up would give you an equally tasty meal with less $$ and just a bit of prep work. Same with making your own cheese.

It is also possible I could have further reduced this cost by getting some vegetables at Giant Tiger or No Thrills through shopping around, but for a one stop shop I am pretty happy with the totals.


Full breakdown of cost in the photos above! Hot Dog Buns and a Can of Campbells soup were for A as he won't eat homemade food and hadn't gone shopping in a while.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Veganmofo: Day 4: Where do you like to eat out?

There is really no contest at all for best place to eat in Dartmouth, heck even before I moved Liu's Formosas
was one of my favourite places to go.

Curry rice! Carrot, potato , rice and mock meat

Formosas offer's amazing variety of tea and vegetarian food from china (with a few Japanese dishes), but the thing that brings me back and back again DUMPLINGS!!!! and the prices. You can get 20-30 handmade dumplins for 9.99$. The portions are huge, the prices are some of the cheapest in the city, and the food is down right tasty.

They offer a variety of mock meat dishes that are vegan (some things like the mock drumsticks contain egg but thankfully the menu lists a lot of the ingredients): Red curry Mutton, sweet and sour vegan ribs, soup with vegan ham n vegetables, steam buns (only a few are vegan like red bean and bbq), to sushi which can be made vegan without mayo.

The owners are amazing and they also offer a giant menu of tea with free refills. It is one of those charming down home shops that I will be eating at forever. The have a great mix of herbal, green, oolong, and black teas. Ranging from traditional teas to flavored teas and everything in between. I usually get the caramel rooibos because it taste like those caramel bars but vegan. This time though we opted for a Kyoto Cherry Blossom green tea which was lovely. If you have never been I recommend getting the green tea to experience the traditional preparation and practice your tea inversions!
Not picture is the large glass pot with the tea light to keep it warm.
My friend Taylor is down for Halcon so of course dumplings were our first stop and for once I managed to restrain from order 10 different plates of snacks and sides and stuck with the classic and economical Curry Rice and split an order of dumplins and tea!
Portions are generous!
I may have forgotten to photograph the mountain of dumplings because we were too busy eating this is maybe 1/4 of the full order.
 Taylor went with the amazing sushi order (I forgot to photograph T.T) and cold noodles plus half the dumplings and tea.

Cold noodles: Noodles, carrot, cucumber, mock ground pork, with sesame oil sauce

 So if you are ever in HRM let me know and I will come have dumplings with you!