Chana Masala

I think it’s pretty funny how I never really enjoyed eating or making Indian food when I lived in BC.  Now, since I can get any decent ‘ethnic’ meal in a restaurant out here, I crave it, and absolutely enjoy creating dishes for my friends and family.  One of my favourite things to make is Chana Masala, or curried chickpeas. 1) because they’re so easy to make and 2) they taste amazing >|with practically anything!

You can use canned chickpeas if you don’t have dried ones, just omit the step where you boil them until tender

Chana Masala

For the dried chickpeas

3 cups dried chickpeas.  Soak in 6 cups of water with 2 tea bags over night

When you’re ready to make them the next day:

Pour the soaked chickpeas into a saucepan, leave in the tea bags for now.  Add in some extra water to just cover the top of the chickpeas.  Boil over medium-high heat, adding more water as desired.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small green chili, or ½ tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
5 Tbsp Garam Masala (don’t be afraid to make some of these heaping)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tbsp Tumeric
1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
3 Tbsp oil or butter
1tsp black pepper
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a frying pan over med-high heat and add the onions, cook down for about two minutes and then add the garlic; cook until onions are translucent.

Add in everything else listed except for the chopped tomato.  Cook the onion and spice mixture for another three minutes, and then add in the tomatoes.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes on medium-low heat

Add the masala mixture to the chickpeas and give it a stir, keep cooking until the chickpeas are done.

**If you are using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain them and wait until the masala mix is cooked before you pour everthing in a pot and add as much water as you’d like, add in two tea bags and cook for approximately ten minutes.  Adjust the salt and heat as needed.

Serve over rice, with samosas, with roti or eat on their own.

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Farm to Plate to Heart

Sunset in Paradise

Few of us are lucky to enough to know exactly where our food comes from. I’m not talking about saying “Oh yah, this carrot was grown in Vancouver somewhere…” I’m talking, pulling it out of the ground, pulling it off a vine, picking it off a tree, washing it and making something spectacular out of it….

Today, I was the luckiest person on earth. I finally got to visit Abundant Acres Farm out here in Nova Scotia. It’s the place I’ve mentioned in this post, the amazing farm that supplies the fantastic produce packs I had the pleasure of receiving this Summer. I’m not going to lie, I’m very sad that the packs have come to an end for the season…where am I going to get my fresh produce from?! NOTHING will ever taste the same…ever. I guess I’ll survive somehow, but to put it simply: it’s going to suck. SUCK!
I am in awe at how welcoming, kind, and warm Jen, Dave, Bruce and Dylan are; I can’t put into words how happy today made me, so hopefully these photos(in slideshow format, oooh!) taken by my lovely twin, Kim (found here) can sort of show how fulfilling and soul-soothing connecting with your food, and the people who grow it, truly is.

Dave, Jen, Bruce and Dylan; thank you SO much for opening your home, your hearts, and my eyes to what is possible when amazing people do amazing things.

Cheers.

*Recipe for Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) will be posted tomorrow*

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Fall into Fall

I’ve mentioned the vintage shop that I used to work at a few times in previous posts, and the amazingly rad bosslady that runs the place, I loved her then, but I think I love her more now. She recently hosted a Fall into Fall Harvest potluck fest at her place and DAMN, it was really the best night that I have had since moving out here. Absolutely Spectacular. Food, Friends, Fog, Live bands and just an all around great vibe; the photos cannot do it justice, but it’s the best I can do!

Wish you were here!

*this recipe is really sort of a non-recipe. Make as much couscous as you’d like, sauté up whatever veggies you like; combine the couscous and veggies, and then top with the vinaigrette. Eat!

Couscous with Veggies and a Lemony Vinaigrette

Cook Couscous (check this post for the best liquid to couscous ratio) and set aside
in a frying pan, sauté any veggie you’d like; I use what I get in my weekly produce pack:
Kale
Carrots
Beets
Corn (from the supermarket, or from a can (GASP!))
Spinach
Brocolli
Etc. Etc.

Lemon Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Lemon Zest (I rarely have actual lemons on hand, so each time I’ve made this recipe the zest has been omitted)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Honey
**I add some black pepper and red chili flakes.

using a blender or a Bullet (love that thing) stick all the ingredients and mix until you cannot mix it anymore…haha. good times.
Pour over the salad. Eat. This is my go-to potluck submission and the salad I’ll make for a large crowd at my own place. I swear, it really is the best salad ever, you’ll make it again and again. YAH!

Table of Goodness

Image

The AMAZING Lindsay Ferguson, her voice haunts me. LOVE
http://www.lindsayferguson.com

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Saving the best for last. Ceti Alpha. Seriously, check them out NOW
http://cetialpha.bandcamp.com/

I didn’t get to snap a shot of the first act of the night, but you definitely need to check him out as well.

Ostrea Lake http://ostrealake.bandcamp.com/
Lindsay Ferguson http://www.lindsayferguson.com/
Ceti Alpha http://cetialpha.bandcamp.com/


Chocolate Coconut Mug Cake

Ever have those cravings for a good chocolate cake…you know the ones ladies, the ones that strike at around 9pm, after dinner, after you’ve already changed into your PJ’s and taken off your bra, the ones that strike a couple of days before your monthly ‘gift’ (screw you tampax) arrives, the ones that strike when you don’t feel like going to the store to get a cake, but you must have cake…I get those ones a lot.  I don’t normally cave in, but when I am allowed to have a cheat ‘meal’ I can’t help but use it on one of these.

You are basically three minutes away from a moist (if done right) chocolatey cake

Chocolate Coconut Mug Cake

4 Tbsp flour
4 Tbsp sugar or Splenda
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking power
A couple of drops of vanilla extract
2 Tbsp coconut flakes (optional)

*you can take out the oil, use only one Tbsp of sweetener and use just 1 Tbsp of milk (I use coconut or almond – whatever is on hand at the time, or take out both and use apple sauce)

  1. Grab a large mug, with a fork beat the egg, add in the oil, milk and vanilla, mix until combined.
  2. Add in the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and coconut flakes, mix it all together until combined
  3. Pop it in your microwave and start with 50 seconds, if it needs more (which it may) nuke it for ten seconds a time, take it out when the top is just set
  4. Now, this is the part that most people mess up on…you need to get the cake OUT OF THE MUG as soon as it’s done cooking, otherwise it will continue to cook inside of the mug and you’ll be left with a disgusting spongy sponge-tasting cake. Blarg.
  5. Top it with some buttercream, some whipped cream, a berry compote, caramel, nutella, or have it plain; up to you.

*I needed a chocolate fix so bad when I made this the other day that I didn’t have a chance to snap a photo, on my next cheat, I’ll be sure to take one 🙂


Tandoori Chicken & Curried Couscous

So, like I predicted yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to update everything I wanted, I was tempted with chicken wings (Deep fried! AHHH) and mussels…how could a girl resist?  Well…resist is exactly what I should have done;  Me and deep-fried food have never gotten along, ever, so I woke up this morning with the most excruciating stomach ache I’ve ever had, I couldn’t even stand up straight! WHAT!?  I had to cancel my farm plans (boo!) and stayed in bed until I could breathe normally and my gut wasn’t all angry and knotted up.  I feel better now, but damn, what an intense pain!  No more fried food, ever.  I should have listened to myself; lesson learned.

Onwards! Life goes on, and yadda yadda.  Back to the food; recently I got a really great deal on chicken legs and thighs at the grocery store, so I stocked up and shoved a lot of the packs in the freezer.  One thing I love, is getting mail, especially care packages from back home.  Recently we received one from the in-laws, so great! Curtains (yay!  There are no Indian fabric stores out here, or none that I’ve found yet, so buying fabric for simple things around the house is a pain in the wallet), chocolate, and tandoori masala…mmmm.
Obviously I decided to make tandoori chicken since I haven’t had any since I got married last October! It’s best to let the chicken marinate overnight, but if you must have it right away, a couple of hours will do.  I paired this with masala couscous and some steamed green beans sautéed in some butter and garlic.

Tandoori Marinade

2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tsp tandoori powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
1 small onion diced finely
1” piece of ginger grated
1-2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
*I used about 8 skinless, bone-in chicken legs

Mix all ingredients together and add chicken, store in airtight container or in a freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.  When you’re ready to eat, just grill on the BBQ or stick it in the oven at 350 until no longer pink on the inside. (*Note, tandoori chicken tastes BEST when it’s done on the grill*)

Masala Couscous

The best couscous to water/liquid ratio that I’ve found is one cup of couscous to 1 ¼ cups of liquid.
I always make extra couscous because I like having it the next day as a small snack or I add it to a salad.

2 cups couscous
2 ½ cups low sodium chicken/beef stock or water
2 Tbsp coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 small onion chopped
1 clove of garlic
2-3 heaping teaspoons of garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
1 tomato chopped small
¼ tsp red chili powder
½ green chili
Salt to taste

  1. In a medium saucepan bring chicken stock to a boil, add couscous, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, cook until onions are translucent, approx. 4 minutes
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add in the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes
  4. Add in the turmeric, salt, and garam masala and cook for approx. 8-10 minutes until you can ‘smush’ the tomatoes and the whole mix is paste-like
  5. Fluff the couscous and add to the masala mix, taste and adjust the seasonings, serve with the tandoori chicken and a side of garlic green beans.


Summer Reading, Beautiful Art, and Why I’ll Never buy Produce from the Supermarket Again

There are a lot of things that make me happy

Dogs
Rainbows
Sleeping in past noon (hah!)
Waking up to the rain

Blah blah blah

I also love a great mug, a good book (or two, or three…) and fresh produce.

Is it just me, or does coffee (or tea, for all of you that aren’t bound by the crippling clutches of a caffeine addiction) just taste better in a gorgeous piece of pottery?  I used to work up at MacDonald House out in Lawrencetown; at a great little spot called Fancy Lucky Vintage you can find the wonderful shop here and here.  FLV was up on the top floor of this amazing house, and on the main floor is a wonderful art gallery owned by FLV’s mom, she carries some of the most beautiful pieces of pottery (amongst other things) that I have ever seen; my favourite pieces are by Seastar Pottery, you can find them here.  I hope to add to my collection soon, but for the time being I’ll just enjoy the two I have.

Jellyfish mug from Seastar Pottery

Sea Urchin mug from Seastar Pottery

In addition to my coffee addiction that I can’t seem to shake, I have an addiction to cookbooks, and the evil that is Amazon and Chapters. EVIL!  I feel that I pay off my credit card *yay!* only just to rack it up again with book purchases.

Sigh

My latest book buying spree has left me a giddy mess, I picked up ‘Garde Manger’ by my main man Chuck Hughes http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Garde-Manger-Chuck-Hughes/9781443413268-item.html?ikwid=garde+manger&ikwsec=Home

And the amazing ‘The Foodie Handbook. The (almost) Definitive Guide to Gastronomy’ by Pim Techamuanvivit of www.ChezPim.com
http://www.amazon.ca/Foodie-Handbook-Almost-Definitive-Gastronomy/dp/0811868532/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347041204&sr=8-1

Both of these books are slowly changing my life.  I haven’t had the chance to try any recipes yes (damn you show prep!) but, I have tried Pim’s recipe for Pad Thai, ages ago, and it’s true, it really IS the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. EVER.
If you ever have a chance, head out and grab these two books, you won’t be sorry; I promise.

Excerpt from ‘The Foodie Handbook.’

I eat a lot.  6 times a day, to be precise.  Every meal that I eat has a vegetable portion…EVERY MEAL. So you can understand why I insist that my produce be fresh, organic when I can afford it, and delicious.  Show prep is hard enough, I don’t need crappy, and unnecessarily overpriced food to make it any harder.  I have checked out the farmer’s market out here in Halifax, and it’s nice, but I wasn’t too thrilled with paying almost 7 dollars for a bunch of carrots (WHAT THE F*C*!).  Which is why I was so happy to have discovered that I can eat fresh produce every week through a local CSA produce pack.
When I say that things changed my life, I usually really mean it.  I like to feel that I have gained something while spending my hard earned money, or my time, really, on whatever it is that I’m doing.  The two abovementioned books really are changing my life, my eating life; I love to create with food, and I love to create with food for the people that I care about.  So, that being said, my recent investment in a CSA produce pack is right up where with one of the smartest, healthiest things I’ve done to date.  It has helped me stay on track with my show prep ‘diet’ (I hate that word) and it has allowed me to try out things I normally wouldn’t have purchased at the grocery store; case and point: fresh fennel.  I love that stuff, I can’t get enough of it!  If you’re in Nova Scotia, I highly encourage you to check out Abundant Acres you can find them here and here.  I pay about the same as I did at my local produce place, but the quality of the food far surpasses what I find at the store.  When I say ‘fresh produce’ I mean, picked that morning; not picked last week and driven to the store only to have it rot in my fridge after a day or so.  I’ll be heading over to Jen and Dave’s farm this weekend, so I’ll post about the amazingness that I’m sure to find there.  If you are not in the Nova Scotia area, find out how to benefit from CSA in your area. Seriously, do it.

We ate most of the blueberries on the ride home!


If I had a Hall Pass…..

I never know why it takes me so long to update this blog, I’d like to say that I’m so super busy doing amazing things all day long, but in reality, I really have no idea what takes all my time away!  The days seems to whiz by and I’m left at the end of the day, wishing for more hours to get things done.  Most of the time is spent at the gym, training, and the rest seems to be at the beach…I know, sucks to be me!

As I type this, I have every intention to update everything that hasn’t been updated, that’s at least three posts with one recipe included; but I know something will distract me *ooh sunshine* and I’ll stop, and then realize as I’m about to crawl into bed that I left it unfinished.  Oi.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that I get through this now…I have a massive mug of coffee to fuel me, and I have an hour before I have to get in another cardio session, here goes nothing!

The week of July 19th (I told you I was behind!) brought the magnificent Tall Ships Festival to Halifax; stunning!  I headed downtown with some friends and ooh’d and aah’d with the rest of them, there were some pretty spectacular vessels there on the particular day we attended, but there was even something BETTER and more spectacular to ogle as we wandered further along the boardwalk.  Now, I’ve managed to meet some pretty great people in Nova Scotia since I’ve moved here, but I had no idea I’d find me, in another person’s body….as dirty as that just came out, I didn’t mean it like that.  Get your mind outta the gutter!!  Her name is Kim and you can find her here.
It’s quite comical actually, we like all of the same things, we’re giant massive foodies and we both can’t get enough of the food network…I actually think we’ve finished eachother’s sentences a couple of times…it’s really quite sick.  Anyway! We were walking along and we stumbled upon the “Taste of Nova Scotia” tent, *Squee! Food!*  There was a section with a bunch of tables and chairs, and there was this man on stage, walking back and fourth, explaining a dish of someso- WAIT!  Could it be?  I clutched Kim’s arm in excitement…

KIM!  Is that…..is that…

CHUCK HUGHES!

Commence dying happy.

I’m telling you ladies and gentlemen..this man is magic. Pure effing magic.  We had the chance to get an autograph as well…there I am, meeting one of my all time favourite Food Network Stars and I can’t even form a damn sentence.  It came out in disgusting girlish giggles, blushes, and a whole hell of a lot of gibberish.  Sigh.

Mr. Chuck, if you ever see this…I’m sorry.