Thursday, April 10, 2014
Before I launch into this post, let me preface it by saying this: this is a story about Natural Delights Medjool Dates (which are deliciously awesome, by the way, and also full of antioxidants and fibre and ENERGY and eating them straight with almonds is my new favourite snack ever) and my friend Anna's ridiculously good pancakes, but it's also a story about eggs and camping, and the magic my dad created using a tiny camp stove and a tiny pot, and also my mother's 90s mix tape.
My family went camping a lot when I was a kid. Both my parents were teachers, so each summer usually involved a family road trip, be it to Hell Drummer, Alberta or my grandpa's camp or all the way to Colorado. Whatever our destination, there were always long car drives (because we lived in the middle of nowhere at the end of the highway). Sometimes, on these long drives, my mom punished all of us with her Il Divo CD, while I mourned the loss of her mix-tape that was the soundtrack to the majority of our road trips in the 90s, when tape-decks were still a thing and CDs were things that only really fancy people could play in their cars. (That mix-tape was the best god damn mix tape ever; it introduced my 6-year-old self to Boogie Woogie Dancing Shoes, which became my personal anthem and also led me to believe that there were actually magical shoes out there in the world that women could simply wear and thus become The BEST DANCERS EVER. I yearn for those shoes still.)
So we did a lot of camping on these road trips, and we ate a lot of instant oatmeal on said trips, but sometimes my dad would make us a magical breakfast of Camp Eggs. These eggs were the most luscious, rich-tasting, delicious god damn eggs of my entire life, but I could only eat them when we went camping. They were literally just scrambled eggs, cooked very slowly in a tiny pot on our Coleman's camping stove. My dad once made them at home, or so he claimed, and served me a plate of something he said were camp eggs, but he couldn't fool me. They were not camp eggs. Camp eggs did not exist outside of camping, without that little pot on the propane stove. Camp eggs were creamy and soft and tasted like eggy butter, and they could never be re-created at home on our regular stove despite all its modern conveniences.
But then, many years after the last time I had eaten Camp Eggs, I read this, and my entire perspective on the matter changed. It was all in the technique, and that little pot and camp stove had forced my dad to unwittingly cook scrambled eggs to perfection. With the pot's minimal surface area and the low heat of that gas stove, the eggs were never over-cooked, thus creating the creamy, buttery, insanely delicious eggs of my memories.
All that preamble is to say that, after years of camp eggs deprivation, I realized its amazing secret: cooking the eggs slowly over low heat. GENIUS. That knowledge, combined with a breakfast experience at Takht-e Tavoos several weeks ago, involving eggs served over a bed of cooked dates and toasted walnuts, led to this dish.
It wasn't, however, until I teamed up with my amazing awesome friend Anna on a project for Natural Delights Medjool Dates that I was able to perfect it.
On a bright Saturday morning, I walked over to Anna's with my camera bag and tripod slung over my shoulders and a packaged of cheese in my purse (I should make a habit of carrying cheese around in my purse), for a delicious breakfast date, where we ate ALL THE THINGS. (Actually, I did not eat all the things. I snacked on all the things and then could not eat breakfast. WOE.)
Anna, who is the queen mother of pancakes, made a batch of banana medjool date pancakes that were later drizzled in date syrup (if I'd had my way, I would have also slathered them in peanut butter, because peanut butter), and I made these sweet & salty scrambled eggs. And let me tell you, both were pretty damn tasty. We have taste testers to back it up, I swear.
So if you find yourself with a little extra time in the morning, I highly recommend taking the time to cook your eggs slowly, with a handful of toasted walnuts and sliced medjool dates, and if you're feeling like being extra good to yourself, throw in some old cheddar cheese. Also, make yourself some of Anna's pancakes (find her recipe here). They're the best. You wont' regret it, I swear.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Miso paste. It's a game changer.
It's a fermented soy bean paste that comes in several varieties, most commonly white or red. Either variety is DELICIOUS, and has the power to elevate salad dressings, soups, and also roasted veggies and tofu. Holy god, roasting vegetables and tofu with miso paste is genius. After trying this, I had to wonder why I had never done it.
Coating the vegetables and tofu in a miso marinade doesn't just provide extra flavour that's salty, sweet, and slightly smoky, it also bakes into a crispy coating that creates textural diversity, and hello, who doesn't love diversity? Especially if it's happening in your mouth. (Just go with this, don't question the weird metaphor.)
This dish is kind of like health comfort food, which may sound like a contradiction, but let me tell you from experience, when you comfort yourself with foods that don't leave you feeling bloated and heavy and somewhat regretful about your life choices, it's better. Trust me.
So, in closing: get thee to an Asian mart and purchase thyself some miso paste (ALL THE VARIETIES. DO IT.) and roast thee some vegetables and tofu! It's for the best, really.
Friday, March 21, 2014
I first made this salad in the depths of the cold misery that was February, and it was a godsend, like it had been lightning-beamed into my brain from a better place, a place with warmth and sunshine and people with glowing skin. (Like California, basically, is what I guess I'm saying.)
But listen, this salad, it will do wonders for you. Back in February I was in that kind of winter slump where you start to feel like your body is turning into a snowsuit, as if you and the million layers you've been wearing for the past four months have started to become one, to the point that you're not even sure what your body really looks like anymore but aren't prepared to find that out because you are only prepared to strip off all your layers in the event that you are presented with a hot tub, and that's not going to become a reality, so SADNESS and resignation to being your sweater-suit self ensue.
Enter this salad. It has quinoa (everyone's favourite "super food" that used to fuel the Inca civilization, but hey - did you know that after the Spanish conquest, they banned the cultivation of quinoa because it was "peasant food" and enforced the cultivation of wheat (which was oh so de rigueur)? Oh how the tables has turned. Quinoa's made a Leonardo DiCaprio comeback and wheat has been fucked sideways by over-cultivation and the media. I'm totally picturing a dialogue between quinoa and wheat in which quinoa's all, "LOOK AT ME NOW, BITCH." So yeah, this parenthetical note has gone on way to long and yes, sometimes I anthropomorphize plants.), chickpeas, fresh herbs (the herbs are essential, because with them, every bite is like WOWFLAVOUROHMYGODMYTASTEBUDSFEELSOALIVE), veggies and all other good things that you could want in a salad that not only give it nutrition but kapow-esque punches of flavour.
This salad was like a glimpse of summer during a time that I was wearing snow pants full-time, and even now that winter is almost over (spring is official, DAMN IT), its bold, fresh flavours are as welcome as ever.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
This post isn't really about the salad. It's about the dressing, because you could pour it over shoe leather and it would still taste so god damn delicious you would eat the entire thing and ask for more without even realizing you'd just eaten a shoe (hypothetically speaking). Because holy shit, this peanut dressing puts all other peanut dressings to shame. If you eat this peanut dressing and then try eating a different kind of peanut dressing or sauce, you'll feel like you're committing peanut sauce adultery, because once you eat this peanut dressing you will realize that it's THE ONLY PEANUT DRESSING you will ever need, want, or desire.
Let me explain.
This dressing, which has all the usual elements of a good peanut sauce (peanut butter, acid, heat, a touch of sweetness), has a generous addition of fresh herbs that turns it into something altogether more moving and awe-inspiring. So don't be surprised if you find yourself eating it out of the jar or suddenly realize you just ate two entire heads of broccoli because you couldn't stop dipping broccoli in this dressing in order to eat more of it.
I don't know what else to tell you, except that one roommate of mine, who has relatively neutral feelings about peanut butter (we try not to speak of it because it hurts me), declared this dressing so good that she would "eat it on anything." ANYTHING, people. I once ate a bowl of cold noodles drenched in this sauce (partly because there was nothing else in the fridge) but it was STILL AMAZING. It's so peanut buttery but also fragrant and tangy and just a bit spicy and would this taste good on tofu, soba noodles, or raw spinach, or drizzled over steamed broccoli and cauliflower? YES. TO ALL AND ANY OF THE THINGS, YES.
So, if you respect yourself you will make this dressing and enjoy it on many things, perhaps this salad included.
Monday, February 24, 2014
The moment I saw this recipe I knew I needed it in my life. I mean, it's eggy fried herb-bread. I love all of those things. It has all things that are good!
And then I decided that I wanted to add cheese, because...well, because cheese. It kind of speaks for itself.
For me, French toast has generally meant kind-of-soggy egg bread that's been drowned in syrup and, generally speaking, totally underwhelming. I will eat it, but never in my life has it been a favoured or even sought-after breakfast food. Except for this one time I had baked French toast that tasted like custardy bread pudding with a hint of cinnamon and divinity, the dish has never done anything for me.
But this...this toast. Oh my god. Hearty, whole-grain bread dipped in egg and grated cheese (EGG AND CHEESE, PEOPLE, THIS PAIRING IS GOD'S FAVOURITE COUPLE) with a bit of fresh parsley, then fried in butter (because this is what you do when you love yourself), and finally dipped in Sriracha (and we all know that I have FEELINGS about Sriracha). It is glorious. Like cheesy eggs on toast only the two have fused to become one - a glorious fusion that is at once salty, crispy, eggy, and has BITS OF CRISPY FRIED CHEESE ON IT that is cut perfectly by the parsley and YOU'RE WELCOME.
Savoury French toast. Fry it in butter. Grate extra cheese on it. Embrace it.
Friday, February 7, 2014
I've had a very intense affair with peanut butter over the years. It began in earnest when I was in university, during my first year out of residence, living in a house and buying my own groceries (LIKE AN ADULT). It felt so glorious for all of the first few hours of my independence, until I found myself standing outside a Sobeys holding eighty pounds of groceries (WHY DID I BUY A CARTON OF MILK. THESE YAMS ARE SO HEAVY OH GOD.) and a thirty minute walk away from my house. Motherfucker. Independence, it turned out, was no longer having access to my parents' car and realizing the joys of cab fare in a town with no transit or of sucking it up and trudging home like the most miserable of the seven dwarves.
But wait, I was talking about my intense love affair with peanut butter. It all started so innocently - just a little spoonful straight from the jar, just a little something in times of snacking. But it tasted so good. I'd stand there in the middle of the kitchen eating peanut butter straight from the jar thinking, "Who needs toast? Peanut butter doesn't need toast - fuck toast. This is stand-alone deliciousness. I'll just have one more spoonful - nope, screw spoons, I'll just use my finger like an adult, no, a sexy adult - no, that would be messy. ...Why is so much of my peanut butter gone?"
It got so bad that I actually started to ration my peanut butter purchasing. It was not always successful. I would go through peanut butter fasts and they were UNPLEASANT. My peanut butter addiction was so bad in my last years of university that I would sometimes go through one jar in a week.
In the end, I didn't go through rehab, my desire to constantly consume peanut butter just waned. It no longer burns with the fire of a thousand suns. My love of peanut butter is like the slow burn of warm embers. If stoked, it will light a fire.
But then there is this breakfast crisp, which came about because my brain had the thought: "What if I made a fruit crisp that was fruit topped with PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DOUGH."
Sometimes I'm a god damn genius. This breakfast crisp is a layer of jammy, naturally sweet, slightly tart raspberries topped with crunchy, peanut-buttery crispness that TASTES LIKE COOKIE. It's like a peanut butter cookie jam thumbprint but GIANT and the jam filling is a pound of raspberries cooked until they become gooey and jam and practically like jam but with all the awesomeness of fruit, real fruit, so you can feel good about eating what tastes like a jam explosion beneath a layer of peanut butter cookie but with fibre.
Damn, I'm good.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
The internet is a wonderful thing.
For example, the other week I was googling for recipes and the title "Sriracha Caramel Corn" popped up in my search results. As my brain processed the words I was seeing before me I went very still. In that brief moment, my whole world was that magical sequence of three words and all that they implied. Sriracha caramel corn. SRIRACHA CARAMEL CORN.
I almost fell of my chair. Holy shit amazeballs. Sriracha caramel corn? Oh my god. What fabulous wizard genius did I have to thank for not only having the vision to put Sriracha in caramel corn, but for then putting it on the internet for me to find and hence make FOREVER.
Because just think of about it. Caramel corn is already awesome - it's two amazing things: popcorn covered in fucking caramel. Covered in caramel, people. You wouldn't think this could be more delicious, BUT WAIT, let's add some tasty firestorm sauce from the heavens to it, because just imagine the sweet and crunchy goodness of caramel corn laced with smoky, sweet, spicy Rooster Sauce, as if you're receiving a gentle hug from a jalapeño on your tongue while eating pure decadence and WHY ARE WE ALL NOT MAKING THIS RIGHT NOW?
Don't you dare accuse me of overreacting. My feelings about this caramel corn are WARRANTED. It's a damn miracle this entire post isn't in caps-lock. I exercised more self-restraint here than I did when I shovelled all of this caramel corn into my face with the speed and grace of a baleen whale encountering a swarm of krill.
Please do yourself the service of making this caramel corn. If you're feeling extra nice, give it to people as gifts, or serve it at parties. Or, lock yourself in your room, hug the entire bowl of it to your chest and eat all of it because NO REGRETS, just tasty sweet firestorm forever.