peanut stew

Giving the peanut stew recipe from the Vegan Stoner a whirl:

1. chop half an onion & cook in pot

2. add a can of stewed tomatoes, a half cup of crunchy peanut butter, & a half can of garbanzo beans [chickpeas]

3. chop a potato & add to pot* with a sprinkling of thyme

4. cover pot and cook on low heat for 20 minutes

5. serve on rice

6. munch

* may want to parboil the potato first, or ensure you cut very small pieces so they cook through

I’ve never bought or cooked with stewed tomatoes before and at first I wasn’t so sure about the peanut butter. I like peanut butter, but I am not much in the habit of cooking with it; my mum is very allergic to nuts, so I never ate them growing up. You can’t miss what you’ve never had, but, oh! I tell you: when I moved out and discovered I could buy and eat all the Nutella I wanted … that was a wonderful and a dangerous day.

I digress.

why this recipe is cool

Like many Vegan Stoner recipes, it calls for a bunch of non-perishable and inexpensive food items. (Dried thyme is an exception to “inexpensive”, and I’m using posh all-natural peanut butter because I got it on the cheap at an army surplus store in Kamloops. I’m not even kidding.)

Food waste is something I’m pretty concerned about, so I try to be mindful of how much fresh stuff I buy, but cooking for one presents some challenges: fresh stuff often comes in rather massive bundles. It’s always a song and dance trying to make sure things get used up before they rot or trying to work out clever things to do with food items that are fast approaching the end of their fridge-lives.

Trying to buy less but shop more often is something I’m working on, but sometimes time is tight because I planned poorly and I just can’t swing a shopping trip. In such cases, how marvelous to be able to put together a whole meal from things in the cupboard.*

making stew!

I prepared all the ingredients and added some extras, seeing the excellent opportunity provided by a stew to deal with some fridgy** items. Some beet greens, some red pepper, an already-opened can of chickpeas. I also added a spoonful of tomato paste because I like tomato-y things.

Easy peasy: set the rice on in one pot, throw the ingredients in the other pot.

the result

A delicious, nutritious, hearty dinner. I’d not hesitate to make this again for myself, or for nut-eating friends 🙂

–x–

*Now that I’ve written this, I see the irony of and the privilege in my enthusiasm over tinned food. I’ve little to complain about in life if I’ve always enjoyed meals made from fresh ingredients, and making things from cans is a novel experience…

**My mother uses this word to describe the way things smell when they’ve been in the fridge too long. Highly accurate, worth bringing into the general lexicon.

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Another kind of cake

So, where is the follow-up to the red velvet cake recipe?

To be honest, I got a little ahead of myself with that one. Instead of looking forward to making a red velvet cake, I began to stress out about it: I don’t know enough people in town yet with whom to share a cake, and I was getting a bit worried about (a) most of the cake going to waste for lack of eaters, or, in order to guarantee more eaters, (b) trying to transport a cake on my bicycle to my workplace to share it with my co-workers. (Nothing doing.)

Stressing out about cake doesn’t really seem in keeping with the spirit of this blog, so I intend to leave red velvet cake aside until a proper cake-eating occasion arises.

In the meantime, I was deciding what to have for dinner this evening: I’ve done a lot of the savoury, veggie-&-greens meals this week and Sunday night seems to call for something different, some comfort food, something more indulgent. What better thing is there for such a desire than pancakes?!

I love making pancakes: they are easy, they are versatile, they are substantial enough to eat for any meal, you can make fun shapes out of them (my father introduced me to the wonders of making hearts and first initials out of pancake batter)…

heart-shaped pancakes for valentine’s day

…they are an incredibly social food (many of my friends can attest to at least one occasion where I insisted they come over for a pancake dinner), but also are an easy thing to whip up for one. It is hard to find a more basic kind of cake than a pan-cake.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the genius behind my favourite cookbook: Starting Out.

Kate thinks Julie Van Rosendaal’s ‘Starting Out’ is the best cookbook anywhere.

While the title suggests this cookbook is appropriate for folks just starting out cooking on their own (indeed, I bought it seven years ago when I was moving out to attend university and had little experience in the kitchen), I continue to use and love it. This plain paper, simple, glossy-photo-free cookbook features basic recipes, shows you how to alter them, subtract, substitute, or add ingredients to suit your taste, and ultimately helped me to develop confidence and competence in the kitchen.

But I digress.

Forget the pancake mix. Making pancakes from scratch is simple and quick, plus from-scratch pancakes taste so much better than those made from pancake mix! The best part is that you might already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen, or maybe you’ve got the dregs of a carton of buttermilk or some spare eggs that you’re wondering what to do with.

–x–

Pancakes

from Julie Van Rosendaal’s Starting Out

Ingredients

2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk or 2 cups (250 mL) milk plus 1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice or vinegar

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour (or hald whole-wheat, half all-purpose)

2 Tbsp (30 mL) sugar

2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking soda

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1 large egg

2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter or oil

Any additions you like: fresh or frozen (unthawed) berries, sliced banana, chopped or ground nuts

[I’m a big fan of banana pancakes with chocolate chips.]

Directions

(1) If you are using regular milk, pour it into a small bowl or measuring cup and stir in the lemon juice or vinegar; set the mixture aside for a few minutes.

(2) In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the egg and melted butter or oil into the buttermilk or milk mixture with a fork or a whisk.

(3) Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture; stir just until the two are combined. Don’t worry about getting all the lumps out– overmixing may result in tough pancakes.

(4) Set a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the skillet it hot (test it by flicking some drops of water on it – they should bounce) spray it with non-stick spray or drizzle it with oil and swirl to coat it. Ladle the batter onto the skillet, making the pancakes any size [or shape!] you like. If you want to add berries, slices of banana, or anything else, scatter them directly onto the pancakes as they cook.

(5) Turn the heat down and cook the pancakes for a few minutes, until the bottoms are golden and bubbles begin to appear in the surface. When the surface appears almost dry with lots of bubbles breaking through, use a thin, flat spatula to flip the pancakes over and cook them for another minute, until they’re golden on the other side.

(6) Repeat with the remaining batter. If you need to keep the finished pancakes warm, keem them uncovered on a plate in a 200˚F (110˚C) oven. [Or, a more energy friendly alternative: just stack them on a plate in the microwave. You don’t need to run the microwave: just popping them in and closing the door is enough insulation.] If you don’t want to cook them all at once, the beftover batter can be covered and kept in the fridge for several days.

(7) Serve the pancakes with maple syrup [or Saskatoon berry syrup], or thaw a package of frozen berries in syrup to top them with.

–x–

One batch is enough for three hungry ladies. This recipe splits in half easily (I half everything, but still use one egg). A half-batch is enough for one hungry lady with leftovers for a couple breakfasts/snacks/lunches/dinners.

pancakes with saskatoon berry syrup

Happy eating!

–x–

More Jule Van Rosendaal

Julie talks about Blueberry/Saskatoon Berry Perogies on the CBC Calgary Eyeopener and she writes wonderful articles like this one about delicious, healthy alternative foods for Swerve Magazine on a fairly regular basis. She’s also on Twitter, and she writes about ‘real meals’ on her ‘reality cookbook’ website, Dinner with Julie.