11 May, 2013

Vegetarian Summer

There is no photo of the recipe I cooked in this post. I can't do it all, and besides this dish tastes a thousand fold better than I could make it look last night. Don't let my visual omission deter you.

I've been focusing on vegetables - rightly so - so should you,  and am coveting a new book from the River Cottage series.  It's been getting phenomenal reviews across the interweb.  Renowned carnivore spends his entire summer as a vegetarian. And he looks like he's a goofball while doing it.
Photo by KEO Films
Again, don't let that photo deter you from trying this high boost, flavourful vegetarian comfort food.  This recipe serves two with leftovers or four people, or one person with lots of leftovers...you get the idea.

The tangy feta offsets any bitterness of the greens, the dried fruit and nuts give a pleasing sweetness and crunch.  Then there is the pilaf.  Cooked with fennel and onion, using a good organic broth, a simple grain is made genius flavourful. The roasted squash is a beautiful color that melts in your mouth.

Acorn Squash with Quinoa Pilaf, Swiss Chard, Raisins & Feta
(this recipe is not Hugh's but inspired by another book entirely. I am placing my veg delight onto a book I haven't even cooked from yet!)

1 acorn squash
allspice, cinnamon, ground ginger
salt and pepper
olive oil

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups organic chicken broth
1 medium fennel, diced
1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cups chopped organic swiss chard or kale
a large handful of dried raisins or cranberries
a large handful of pepitas or sliced almonds (optional)
1 large garlic clove, minced
olive oil
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Create a tasty olive oil mixture for the squash.  Combine cinnamon, allspice, and ginger with salt and pepper and the oil, brush it over the squash (after you've sliced it in half).  Place the two halves down on parchment paper (this saves clean up). Roast for 20-25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. You know it's cooked well when a bit of pressure on the hard rind gives way.

2. Cook the pilaf. Sautee the onion and fennel until translucent. Add the quinoa and broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until the water is absorbed - about 20 minutes.

3. Cook the greens.  Heat the garlic in oil for a minute or two, add the dried fuit and toss in the pan for another minute or two.  Add the greens and cook, stirring, for three minutes (longer if you have stems).

4. Assemble the dish.  Quinoa on the plate first, topped with squash (removed from rind), sprinkle the feta over the squash before placing the greens on top. Sprinkle the nuts on if using.

So, put down the chop, tenderloin and ribs, and pick up the veg! It's worth it in the end.

03 May, 2013

I heart The List

See what else I do on Instagram (@jnnzmm)
I believe I have good taste - for example, it's easy for me to pick out things that are expensive or well made. I also cherish elegant DIY crafts, shocking paint colours from the mistint bin, and a funny book from the library.

Once I wanted to be a book designer. I interned at MoMA's publications department and had a great conversation over lunch with the book designer. She told me I would need to go back to school. Shame. Writers: do they need school?

I'm in love with my current city (Toronto) and miss my original city (Halifax). I take bike rides in the sun to large urban parks and fantasize about buying organic produce at the weekly farmer's market. Bring on the loose leaf lettuce - I'm sorry, but that's a sexy phrase. Cucumber and carrots are on my list for a container vegetable garden for my partially shaded back yard. I will find (free?) little plants and move them around to find the sun for as long as possible each day.

I dream about things. Places to go and things to try. A constant array of things to do is always with me. They are my biggest comfort. I get giddy when I think about them. Unlike my husband, I love The List. Things to do around the house, people to send a card to, plans for vacation, all the pretty details of my life.

Also, I try to not get obsessed with looking at real estate listings, imagining a future landscaping project to enhance the privacy of a front yard. Does it have room for a small vegetable garden in the back? Does it have a mint condition extra long claw foot tub that I can place a little yellow plant next to and a window above the kitchen sink? Who will my neighbours be?

Thursday we wandered through a community garden that was inspiring in its state of affairs.  It was carefully unattended, if there is such a thing. A couple plots recently had the dirt turned over. Some were without borders and overgrown but you could identify a plant here and there that could be salvaged (see: strawberries and brussel sprouts).  One day a short kid will walk the same path I did as a dare by his short friends, one of which will be holding a basketball like a weapon. The others will be pointing take it!, standing arms crossed and laughing. Stupid! Get the strawberries! Ha ha ha.

I aspire to be a good neighbour and non procrastinating writer.  I like to write. I'm reading Steve King's psuedo memoir On Writing.  He says art should support life not the other way around. Leave your desk in the corner and put your family front and centre. (What does he know? His he really learned anything from writing over fifty world #bestsellingnnovels? That's #success folks!)

As a snapshot of my brain today I present The List - it's not complete of course, I am constantly adding and subtracting, but it's verified nonetheless.  (I stole this idea for a list of links that are so intriguing you must click them from Clotilde D. - a non procrastinating writer with fantastic cooking abilities on display here - to get her monthly lists you need to subscribe to an e-newsletter, it's worth typing in your email)
Photo of Sheila Heti & friends from The Paris Review
Toronto author (and world influencer) Sheila Heti's latest book, How Should a Person Be?

An app that let's you stream songs all day with a concierge to assist you

My sister's store which I adore

World class photographs on display all month at this amazing festival

This online food community

A lovely smelling, natural skin care line made in my neighbourhood - the lemon deodorant cream is a minor revelation for me

This song and performance video - watch out it's sweaty

A Nova Scotia real estate site with a fun, map based search system

Alec Baldwin's podcast

Giving back to the animals

A great place to see what is happening to other people who live in this world