Curried cauliflower butternut squash and lentil soup

IMG_5233I’ve never been terribly inclined to use the slow cooker. 1 part fear of burning down the building, 1 part I don’t want to clean the stoneware, 1 part fear of 7qts of wastage.

Recently though the lack of time and motivation to cook has motivated me to try out some new recipes. I’ve made cholent (not a hit), soup, and apple sauce. The soup was fantastic and wish I had written down what I put in it. I also made a delightful little curry….

IMG_5234I was inspired after a rather uninspiring bowl of red lentil curried soup at a usually pretty good hospital auxiliary cafeteria. I had spent the better part of my day getting documents from archives, attending appointments and blood tests. Soup seemed like a great relaxing comfort food. It was …. Exactly what one thinks of when you say “hospital food”. The disappointing soup got me thinking I could most certainly create a much better red lentil soup and in the mean time use up some of the veggies lingering around. I always overbuy veggies. But I get rewarded by these lovely kitchen sink creations after.

IMG_5230While making this I also had feeding baby in mind. I wanted it simple and to be just as good no matter if blended, mashed or as is. Also, I feel a bit like my 4yr olds have been wanting simple comfort foods lately. No cutting, chunks, or fancy. And since it’s holiday season and they will be served lots of fancy food why not make them some down to earth simple foods.

Curried Red Lentil, Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Soup

(Slow cooker recipe)
Serves: 8                       prep time: 30 min                            cook time: 6hrs

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash (medium sized) cut into small cubes
1 onion diced or julienned
1 head cauliflower (medium sized), cut into small florets.
2 cups dry red lentils, rinsed
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground corriander
6 cups broth or enough to cover the above in stoneware
Coconut milk to taste (optional)

Method:

Put all ingredients (except coconut milk) in crockpot on low for 6hrs.

Stir in some coconut milk if desired before serving.

Fantastic served with warm flat bread or Naan.

 

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Wibbly Wobbly Life

image credit: from linkedin post.
image credit: from linkedin post.

Change loss and inspiration from the blogs around us.

Life hands us a lot of opportunity to deal with change. in many forms. In welcoming new into our lives as well as saying goodbyes. Sometimes at the same time, sometime the same event is both, regardless we enduring a lot of it. The birth of a child and becoming a parent, the loss of our own parents,  new jobs, lost jobs, health conditions, marriage, divorce, a new pet, a new iPhone 6 or blackberry passport. Our lives fail to follow a linear path but rather amble along and sometimes in loops. we stumble at times. sometimes we fall flat on our face, but life is not the destination, it is the journey.

This Mommy blogger put the experience of becoming a parent so eloquently and succinctly. The message I left with is one I try to apply widely to my life: it is hard, it is work, but it isn’t hard and it isn’t work, it is what it is and that is OK. When I think of change, I often associate it with loss, even positive changes feel like they come at a price. It is hard finding the balance between these two at times.

This year as I have mentioned I experienced a loss, a major loss, the breakup of a future marriage. 4 years ago I experienced another major life change, the birth of twins.  In the in-between I have lost 2 grandparents, have seen my own health suffer, have gained new skills, promotions at work and moved, just to name a few. Lots of change! Add to that, the simple truth that having children means living constant change.

When thinking about the post on parenting and my interpretation of change as loss, I thought of the post I read recently on the crossroads which brought the concept of loss and the emotions we go through home for me this week. Religiously, it s a time of renewal (rosh hashanna) and repentance (yom kippur). It is also the hebrew calendar anniversary of his proposal. Loss, I am feeling it. It is making this a very difficult holiday because I want to be happy.  But maybe, like other things in life, it is what it is and that’s ok. for now.

 

In the meantime, in honour of the change of fall, check out this fall themed meal we had for dinner!

 

pumpkin dinner

The recipe for the salads

The others coming soon!

Rosh Hashanna with food restrictions.

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Holidays in Judaism are heavy on the symbolism. Those symbols are usually foods. At Rosh Hashanna this is all things sweet, new harvest foods. Great sounds easy. Then you learn that it is almost all heavy in either dairy or eggs. Thankfully nothing traditional features nuts, (there are some who say they should be avoided by everyone at this meal) so we are safe from repeating the haroset at Passover that I was terrified my unwitting child would get into when I wasn’t looking.

Continue reading Rosh Hashanna with food restrictions.

Birthday Cake!

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I’ve been making vegan banana bread since before vegan was cool. I am that old.

But a vegan birthday cake? This was my challenge for my daughter bananabread4on her 4th birthday this year. A cake she can and will actually eat. All the typical parve cakes are gross and usually call for eggs anyway. So I decided to start with 2 things I know she likes. Banana bread and cupcakes. The next hurdle was an icing that didn’t have the texture of grainy margarine. My cake loving child has handed back parve birthday cakes because she didnt like them. Chocolate is a big hit naturally, so I found a date based, fat free version that I have continued to perfect.

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In this version I made an iced banana bread loaf. The banana bread this time does not have dates which although delicious suck a bit of moisture from the bread and I wanted that soft texture since this is a birthday cake. I also used white flour (shocking I know) and white sugar (gasp) but hey it’s a birthday cake! And really sugar is sugar and well the dates provide plenty of fibre. And with 6 bananas I think the health balance is achieved here.   Whole wheat in this recipe gives a denser texture, I really wanted a moist airy (as airy as banana bread gets) cake, which is precisely what I got here.  Normally I make it with half and half and this blend is perfect for a simple bread.

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The icing turned out wonderful with the addition of a healthy fat in the form of creamy avocado.   It is now officially my go-to chocolate icing.  Since this cake is for my mom’s birthday and she loves both chocolate and avocado, I am hoping the marriage of these two here satisfy her sweet tooth! Happy Birthday Mom!!!!!

Vegan Banana Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

Icing:
2 cups of dates
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 ripe avocado
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp iodized sea salt

Cake:
6 very ripe bananas (large ones)
1/2 cup sugar (both white and brown work fine here.)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (whole wheat or white or half and half)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped dates, raisins, or nuts (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350

For icing:
Put dates and boiling water in blender. Cover and let sit while you prepare cake (at least 15min)
Blend until smooth, add avocado vanilla and salt and blend until mixed. Add cocoa and pulse scrapping down sides periodically.
Chill in fridge 3 hrs min (generally the time it takes to bake and cool cake!) before icing.
Store leftovers in fridge if you have any.

For cake:
Mash bananas until smooth. (chunks tend to settle)     Add vanilla and sugar mixing well.
In another bowl mix all dry ingredients well and then add to the banana mixture mixing until fully moistened, it makes a sticky thick batter.

Fold in the dried fruit if using (see tip) and pour into greased or lined pan.

Bake times
For a loaf cake: 1 hr
Any sized baking dish: 45-50min
Regular sized muffins: 45-50min
Mini muffins: 35-40 min

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Tips:
If you are using dates or raisins I suggest soaking them first and add a bit of applesauce or water to the mix as these items suck moisture from the cake when baking.

Mini muffin tins are great for making toddler and young child sized muffins. Filled all the way this batter makes a little more than 24 mini muffins.

Nutrition nugget: Each serving (serves 12) with the icing has a full serving of fruit! IMG_3987

Roasted eggplant, vegetables, versatility and “picky” eaters

Red_onionsOnions make you cry chemical reaction tears when you cut them but eaten after a trip under high heat they make you cry from how good they are. Unfortunately I haven’t convinced the more opinionated eater in my house that this is so and she usually picks around them but since she loves the rest of this dish who am I to judge. I can eat the whole roasting pan of this stuff, so it just means more onions for me. Continue reading Roasted eggplant, vegetables, versatility and “picky” eaters

Maple Apple Breakfast Sandwich

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bagel4Deliciously sweet and savoury this apple horned sandwich was a hit with the kids and on Twitter. So, I have decided to share it with you. Yes its full of store-bought stuff but hey, we all need to save time and still eat delightful foods!

The story, last Sunday I was somewhat (very) sleep deprived after being up with a child with a disgustingly runny nose all night. I was irritable and for some reason I was annoyed that yet again they wanted cereal from a box for breakfast. Seriously, I am wide awake in the morning and that is when I have the most energy to cater to them, please at least make it interesting. So I tried to sell them on brunch…. I won when I said Tofurky and cream cheese!

bagel3 Continue reading Maple Apple Breakfast Sandwich