Monday, March 31, 2008

Barack's music video

I think this video really speaks to Barack's charisma, and the buzzword of the US campaign right now: "change." This election is giving Americans, and many other people in many other nations, a hope they have not allowed themselves to feel in a long time. It is meaningful, and it's hard not to be a bit inspired by it. The millenium has come, and we survived, so we'd better do our best to make it better.

Just as a caveat: I still don't know if I prefer Barack over Hilary, but I think they'd both give the good thing: real, solid, steaming, fleshy change. At least I really really hope so, and for now, hope is enough.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Incidental Glutenarian: Bad Thai

This is one of my classics. It's easy, delicious, a crowd-pleaser, and you can improvise quite a bit until you find the version you like best. It can be vegan if you omit the Cock Sauce (which, come on, who wants to do that?). You can also add in chunks of meat if you want to up the carnivorous quotient. It's not like the pad thai you find at restaurants, but it's a good deal healthier and you can vary the ratio of noodles to vegetables.

Thick Thai rice noodles
sesame oil
olive oil
fresh ginger
firm tofu
bell pepper
broccoli (or whatever other veggies you have lying around)
green onions
an egg

chopped, toasted peanuts or crunchy peanut butter
3-4 tbsp ketchup/tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
tbsp Cock Sauce aka Fish Sauce
sambal oelek/chili garlic sauce/chili peppers
fresh lime to squeeze on top

Soak the noodles until they are al dente. It's important they be not too done, because they'll cook more with the rest of the ingredients and you don't want them to get too soggy. Watch this, because it only takes about 10 minutes for them to loosen up.

Chop onion and garlic, and grate or chop fresh ginger. Heat sesame oil with olive oil--about 1-2 tbsp--and throw in chopped veggies. Saute for a couple of minutes until onions get translucent.

Cut tofu into cubes. Salt it a bit and throw it in the wok/large pan. (I'm actually crap with woks, so I just use a large pan). Let these cook together for a bit so the tofu absorbs the flavour.

Stir together cider vinegar, peanut butter, tomato sauce/ketchup, sambal oelek, Cock sauce, and some of the cilantro. Pour some of this on the tofu mixture so it gets all tasty. Save most of it though.

Cut bell peppers and other veggies into strips or cubes, depending on your preference, and add them in. Add more of the sauce mixture. When veggies are cooked almost to your liking, add the noodles and the rest of the sauce. Mix them together quickly so the noodles don't get soggy.

If you are using an egg, scramble it with a fork. Push aside the noodles and veggies, and scramble cook it in the pan. When it's solid, mix it in with the rest of the food. If you are making a lot, 2 eggs might work better.

Put in on plates and, on the table, have cute little dishes with chopped fresh cilantro, fresh limes, and toasted chopped peanuts. Voila! Bad Thai that tastes great.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ice Queen AKA Frigid Bitch

Montreal and I have been together for a long time. 6 years ago, when we first came together, I was feeling all the blush of first love. She was all I could talk about, and I hated to leave her, even for a weekend trip to Toronto or Ottawa to see friends.

Now, 6 years later, all those little things about her that I used to find cute are starting to drive me crazy. The constant construction. The knee-deep snow. The summer nights so humid you can't sleep. The constant drinking and smoking. The maddening insistence of Montrealers to look good even when it's -25 and snowing. She's so hot and cold, I just can't take it anymore. Talk about a brooding poet: she's beautiful but hopeless.

We've come to the end of the road. I'm leaving Montreal for Vancouver, a warmer, more welcoming, less schizophrenic place. I can understand why people settled in Vancouver. Montreal must have had some kinda voodoo to make people think they could actually survive here. Walking to school is fraught with dangers: slipping on ice, drowning in a snow drift, inciting murderous rage on slow walkers you can't overtake in the snow...

The problem is, I think Montreal can tell we're about to break up, that I'm leaving her for another city. Suddenly, she is venting her jealous rage on me by pouring out snowstorms and remaining frigid until well into the summer.

All this is to say, I'm sorry, citizens of montreal, this hellish weather must be all my fault.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Th Incidental Glutenarian: Omelette

Mmmmm of the best I've made yet!

Step 1: Cook up
1 clove garlic
red bell pepper
green beans
grape tomatoes
pinch of basil
salt and pepper

with a bit of olive oil. Make sure they are nice and cooked.

In the meantime, stir up
2 eggs
a spash of milk/cream
1 tbsp or so of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the eggs on medium in a large, flat, nonstick pan. Lift up the edges after the eggs solidify for a while and let liquid slide underneath the cooked eggs. When the eggs are almost cooked, put the veggies onto one side. Cover with some grated cheddar cheese. Fold eggs over top.

Let this chill for a bit on med-low, and Voila! Delicious omelette. Have it with wine, as always.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Incidental Glutenarian: Part 2 in a Series

This meal has two parts. There is a gluten-free alternative in one of them, but gluten-free soy sauce/tamari is easy to get and actually MORE delicious than regular soy sauce (at least in my opinion).

Roasted Veggies and Delicious Tomatoed Chicken


1.5 kg chicken pieces (I used two breasts, which was more like 1.2 kg)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves (or more if you're like me and like it stinky)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tsps dry mustard
2 tsps curry poweder
4 tsps vinegar
2 tsps GF soy sauce
olive oil

I know the ingredients don't sound like they go together. Trust me.

Cook chicken pieces in some oil. Set aside. Cook onions and garlic in a bit more oil, and add in the rest of the stuff. Give it a minute or two and throw in the chicken. Let it simmer for, let's say, 10 minutes, until it thickens up or you get hungry enough to eat it.

This chicken would go well on rice, but we had it with

Roasted Veggies

Your choice among:
sweet potatoes
red/new potatoes
portobello mushrooms
green beans
cherry tomatoes
bell peppers

olive oil
fresh tarragon
salt and pepper

Cut up veggies small enough that they'll cook at the same rate. Potatoes should be especially thin. Douse with a bit of oil and seasonings, and cook at 350 degrees for a while...maybe 1/2 hour? You want them nice and cooked.

Go for it! I'm eating leftovers right now.

I'm going to start takign pictures so you can get a sense of the yumminess with visuals.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Incidental Glutenarian (Part 1 in a Series)

I am gluten-intolerant, as are many people in the world, and it's not nearly as hard to cut out wheat, rye, barley and triticale (whatever that is) as most people think. Yes, eating out can be hard because gluten is a sneaky little sucker, but cooking at home is easy, and you don't need to go out and buy all kinds of crap like xanthan gum (whatever that is) to cook gluten-free.

By the way, even if you are not intolerant, it tends to be a healthier diet that's easier on the ol' g-i system if you want to give it a go. A hint: corn, rice, and potatoes are all gluten friendly. Or rather, gluten-unfriendly. Gluten free. You know what I mean.

For these reasons, I've decided to post recipes of the easy and delicious stuff I sometimes make that doesn't require gluten or xanthan gum.

First recipe: Tofu and Quinoa Mash

1 cup quinoa (red or white)
1 pkg firm tofu
1-2 cloves garlic
1 small red or white onion
1/2 large green pepper
1/2 large red pepper
1/2 pkg spinach
sour cream
cheddar cheese

Put quinoa on: 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 mins depending on the kind you got (red quinoa takes longer and is damn pretty)

Chop tofu into cubes. Salt the crap out of them (well, maybe 1/2-1 teaspoon) and add a pinch of turmeric and cayenne. Throw a pat of butter in a saucepan, and when it melts, throw in the tofu. Here's the tricky part: periodically press the water out of the tofu with your spatula, and let one side get nice and crispy before you turn the tofu over and do it again. This makes for an interesting and delicious texture (an example of tofu made right!)

Chop garlic and other veggies. Throw them into a buttered or oiled saucepan, leaving quick-cooking spinach for last.

When all has cooked properly (veggies should be crunchy), put some quinoa in a bowl, layer the tofu on and then the veggies. Cover with a couple of teaspoons of salsa and a nice dollop of sour cream on top. Sprinkle grated cheese around the dollop for a very pretty and elaborate looking but extremely simple meal.

Leave the salsa, sour cream, and cheese on the table so you and/or your guests can add to taste at will. Serves about four.

Seduction on the West Coast

I am coming to the end now of a very fast and very wonderful week in British Columbia, surely now my future home.

The first couple of days we were here, my brother, his girlfriend Elspeth and I drove/ferried out to Vancouver Island to spend a couple of days in Tofino, BC's paradise of beaches, rainforests, and giant cedars. We stayed at this great little guest house called the Lost Sailor: they had a kitchen, TV, a bunch of movies (including Aladdin), a bunch of games (including Scrabble!), a hot tub and a pool table. My mom graciously packed us two bottles of her wine, which was great with dinner, and the next night out in the hot tub.

We got an incredibly rare day of sunshine for walking in the woods, and we did something like seven walks under my brother's iron fist. As soon as I get back to Montreal and my camera cable, I'll upload some pictures of the Bog walk, the rainforest walk, and Amphitrite Point, where my grandfather served as a lookout in the war. Family lore has it there's a memorial there which is a statue of Grampa with a machine gun and a rifle with a pile of Japanese bodies at his feet. We couldn't find that particular statue, but the walk was lovely.

May I also point out that I DROVE the entire way there and back? I only took a break after dinner the second night at the lovely and expensive Raincoast Cafe, after a couple of glasses of wine, when my teetotaller brother took over for me. Sure, I got stuck in an intersection and stalled at a left turn in Vancouver, but nobody's perfect. I'm getting better at this I swear. You should have seen me on those winding roads on the coast. Elspeth didn't even get sick this time!