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I have to say… I’m naive.

My car broke down and I got it towed to my ex’s work.  I trust him still… dumb dumb that I am.  Well… it went BAD.

I wrote that email that never should’ve left my fingers – offering an apology for wrecking his day because that never was my intention.  I’m an idiot because since then, we’ve been having a little dialogue.    I think I’m on a path to destruction.

Anyway!!!  FOOOOOD!!

I was cooking from the Chef at Home cookbook.  He’s a fantastic Canadian food network star / author.  I think he’s great because he teaches you methods and ideas… and you can fly on your own later.  Seriously – if you see Chef at Home on TV, it’s worth your 30 minutes.

So, what’d you make out of a book filled with meat?

Moroccan Couscous and Chickpeas

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced  (to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 can 540 mL (19 oz) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup couscous (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I used sultanas, would try golden next)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • sprinkle or two of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup of sliced/slivered almonds
  • handful of chopped cilantro

Splash the olive oil into a small saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and spices.  Saute for a few minutes until everything is heated through and your kitchen smells fragrant.

Add the chickpeas, couscous, raisins, apricots, orange juice, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.  Bring everything to a simmer and reduce the heat to low, just enough to maintain the simmer.  Cover with a tight-fitting lid and continue cooking until the couscous is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the couscous rest for another 5 minutes or so before serving.  Using a fork to help fluff up the couscous, transfer it to a serving bowl and sprinkle it with the almonds and cilantro.

My Two Cents:  I used a big pot with a heavy bottom – I’ve never let my couscous cook 15 minutes – so I wanted the residual heat.  I left it on the heat about 5-7 minutes and then stirred it.  Then I removed from the heat and let it sit for the remainder of the 15 minutes.  I’m a lemon hater, so I omitted the lemon.  Same goes for the cilantro.

Good recipe… I took it to work and shared the leftovers around a bit to the “oh, I couldn’t eat vegan foods” crowd.

I love my risotto.  The rice used, arborio, is what makes these dishes have such a “creamy” texture.  (So don’t substitute other rices!)  I miss the butter and real parmesan a bit, but this is still a really tasty recipe.

There is a lot of garlic, but don’t be frightened!!  When you roast garlic, it gets sweet tasting.  You could eat it plain!!  The garlic is not overpowering, it’s extremely subtle and delicate combination.  I’m not sure who to credit… a friend at work from years gone by.

Roasted Sweet Garlic and Thyme Risotto with Toasted Almonds and Breadcrumbs

  • 2 large heads garlic, whole and unpeeled
  • approximately 1 quart (1.1 litres) vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 shallots or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 head celery, finely chopped
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) Arborio rice
  • 2 wine glasses dry white vermouth or dry white wine (beware – many will have animal products in them, so ask!)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 good handful fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 ounces (70 grams) vegan margarine
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) freshly grated vegan Parmesan cheese
  • 5 1/2 ounces (155 grams) shelled and peeled almonds, lightly crushed, cracked or chopped
  • 2 handfuls Panko bread crumbs
  • Olive oil

To start, roast the garlic:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Roast the whole garlic heads on a dish in the oven until soft, about 30 minutes.  Cool.

Stage 1:  Heat the stock in a saucepan.  In a separate, deep fry pan, over medium heat,  heat the olive oil before adding the shallots/onions, garlic, and celery, and saute slowly for about 4 minutes.  When the vegetables have softened, add the rice.

Stage 2:  The rice will now begin to saute, so keep stirring it.  After a minute or two, it will look slightly translucent.  Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring, it will smell fantastic.  Any harsh alcohol taste and smell will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.

Stage 3:  Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Separate the roasted garlic cloves and squeeze out the sweet insides into the risotto.  Stir nearly constantly to develop the starch from the rice – that is how the “creaminess” happens!  Add the thyme and black pepper to the risotto.  Turn down the heat to a highish simmer, so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.  Keep adding ladles of stock – add one as the last absorbs into the rice.

Stage 4:  Remove from the heat after the last stock addition and add the margarine and Parmesan.  Stir gently.  Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 to 3 minutes.  Eat as soon as possible while the risotto retains its perfect texture.

To serve:  In a frying pan, toast the almonds and bread crumbs in a little olive oil until crisp and golden.  Season with a little salt.  Set to one side.  Serve the risotto with the toasted almonds and bread crumbs sprinkled over the top.

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

My two cents:  I love local wineries.  One of my favourites is Jackson & Triggs in the Niagara Region.  This is what I got off of VeganFM:

Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate wines Vegan Friendly
Jackson Triggs Unity wines – unconfirmed status Not Vegan Friendly

Company Email:
“From the receiving of the grapes all what we add on the product is: Tannins (they are extracted by the juice from the Oak) – natural Enzymes present on the skins of the grapes as well as yeasts for the fermentation.
As the juice is done fermenting we add some sulfur to protect by oxidations.
The wines age in tank or barrels with no further additions.
Just before bottling White wines are added with Bentonite (it’s a mineral from the “clay” family) to remove some proteins for stability – we don’t add this adjuvat to red wines as they do not have (generally speaking) this kind of instability.
The filter we use to clean up the wines is called CrossFlow Filter and uses Nitrile/Vinyl based polymers as physical screen for it’s cut-off.”

Second Company email:
Thank you for your inquiry. Our winemaker has just responded saying that we do not use any animal products/by-products in the production of our wines.

Yay!!!  I love it.

Here’s a more widespread website about beer, wine and other spirits.

http://www.barnivore.com/wine

Tonight, it was all about dysfuctional relationships on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.  Some relationships coming apart at the seams and others becoming stronger.

I have a love for Kate Walsh, who stars on Private Practice.  I don’t know that I’d watch it if she ever left.  She’s hot.  Hot like Angelina Jolie used to be.  Laurie trivia:  I’m not straight.  Right now, I could live without men indefinitely.  :)

I found myself looking at Meredith and Derek / Addison and Sam… My relationship with Rob was like these relationships.  Demented.  There was this need to be together, but for all the damn wrong reasons.  You get something out of the relationship, but what?  What makes you stay?  What makes you keep pretending, playing that this relationship is worth your time that is spend making up lies.  Spoiler – Addison and Sam break up at the end and I felt such empathy that I continued to cry.  :)  It’s so right to end these flaky, meaningless relationships – but it still doesn’t feel so good.

A good cry does you wonders – don’t you think?  I bawled through much of both of my shows tonight.  I feel better.  A good end to my day.

Today, I cleansed myself.  I dyed my hair, just brown… but I did it.  Partly to ditch my grey hair, but partly to do something different.  Break the holding pattern I’ve been in for four years.  Then I went and cut off half a foot of my hair, which is something Rob kept telling me that I shouldn’t do.  I felt so in touch with my destiny… if  hair plays into that.

Hmm.  New pic of me on Facebook and I’m feeling good.  But hey, just to say… I’m not ready to move on.

This is the recipe I mentioned in my Embarrassed post.  It’s from Vegan with a Vengeance.

It’s a little sad because it only makes 2 dozen!!!  :)  They go fast.   Don’t blink.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Use a cookie scoop (mine’s a tbsp one)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I omitted, but salt does bring out flavours… yeah Food Network)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 canola oil
  • 1/3 cup soy milk (I used vanilla once, it was okay, but plain is better)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almost extract (I substituted in vanilla extract, the almond was gross)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (I used 1/2 white, 1/2 brown)
  • 6 tsp jam (approximate – raspberry is great,  also tried pieces of maraschino cherries, cherry jam)

Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.  In another large bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients (except the jam) plus the sugar.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  With damp hands, roll 1 tbsp of dough into a ball and press between your palms into a disk.  Then place on cookie sheet.  It’s important to the cookie’s texture that your hands are damp – otherwise they will crack around the edges.  Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven.  Press your thumb into the centre of a cookie to make an indent.  (I use the big side of my melon baller – no burn!!)  Place 1/4 tsp of jam into each indentation.  Bake another 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and sit for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

My two cents…  I got requests for these from my ex’s coworkers.  They scrubbed their hands clean (tire shop) so they could feast when I used to show up.  :)  They really are good – I especially like the raspberry/chocolate combination.  My aunt also wanted the recipe after I left some for my grandma.  (Sad… she went into a nursing home just before Christmas.  If nothing else, I hope she never forgets what she likes to eat.  She already doesn’t know my name… but knows I bring cookies.)

Sometimes, I find my life and things that happen embarrassing.  Do you ever wish you could have a redo?  I have two things in my life like that.  Going back to school and allowing “R” to charm me.  Redoing isn’t always necessary… I get used to embarrassing myself all the time…

Like disappearing again.

Like when I totally lose my temper in public.  Over little things.  (Likely because I skipped my meds that morning…)

Like when I forget things (ie. this blog was a draft for over a week….)  I feel like I’m constantly forgetting and having to write things down, leave myself a sticky note or ask someone point blank to remind me of whatever it is.

Like thinking that I was a strong woman who didn’t need a man to make her life worth living but allowing a man to make her feel small.

Like thinking I was too strong to enter into a relationship that was abusive.

I’ve done the worst thing now, I think.  But, I’ve proven to myself that I am that strong woman.   I am!!  On Christmas Eve, I dropped off my presents to my partner’s house and walked away.  (I was chicken – he wasn’t home.  Maybe I was wise because he’s argued his way out of breakups since MARCH!!)  I walked away from an abusive person who controlled my life for four years (FOUR YEARS!!!) and began to refocus my life on the people who really matter.  My family.  My beautiful almost three year old niece.  My best friend Gillian.  Two of my male friends that I was too afraid to see because of my partner.  And last, but not least, Jimmy and Oreo… the critters who’ve found their way into my life.

I’m blessed.  All of these people and animals are not only supportive but forgiving.  I feel sometimes like I don’t deserve it.  What an ass I’ve been…. but he’s been making sure I was an ass.

Men, women… abuse can be subtle.  Abuse can seem like love.  Abuse doesn’t have to be physical.  Abuse for me was verbal.  Abuse for me was psychological.  Looking at my psych textbooks made me want to cry.  I should have KNOWN!!!  It’s harder than you think to walk away.

I guess the only positive thing I should add is that I did a ton of vegan baking and tested it all on him and his work buddies.  Most of the time, the baking was good.  I don’t know why people find baking so difficult – regular or vegan.

Next post… I will give you my favourite vegan cookie recipe.  Not going to write a lot… my fingers are full of psoriasis from my lithium.  I’m sore.  :(

I’m looking forward to sharing more.  My little brother gave me a kick ass vegan cookbook for Christmas.  I love him.  He even told me I had to cook for HIM!  Smart boy.  I just wish my picky niece would share in the fun.

New Meds…

For those of you bipolar folk… or people who are just curious….  :)

I take a pretty wild cocktail every night and some in the morning.  It’s a rainbow!!  Kind of embarrassing when you find yourself comparing yourself to your 81 year old grandmother who has dementia/alzheimer’s.

Anyway.  My cocktail doesn’t work so well.

Finally, I broke and I made up my mind to book off work and JUST DO IT!  Thrilling it was, my drug plan finally decided to cover Abilify!!  :)  I was very excited because I thought I’d have to try an old-school anti-convulsant.  Boo!!!

It sucks right now.  Bipolar rapid cycling, social anxiety disorder and OCD.  My moods are cycling so hard and so fast that I don’t feel safe going out.  Work.  Shopping.  Library.  Movie.  Tim Horton’s.  I have been staying home most of the time unless my mom or dad go out with me.  Holy cow.

Soooo… add Abilify to the lithium and the Seroquel.  It makes me stupid drowsy.  It makes me nauseous.  I don’t even want to eat until about noon after I ate the pill around 9 pm.  Other than that…. it’s okay.  Just a word to the wise – don’t drink alcohol.  I tried that out.  I thought I would throw up my amazing Christmas dinner.  My sister-in-law found me laying on the floor in my bathroom.   The feeling passed… and I finshed the night out by getting my ass kicked at Catch Phrase.

Anyway…. remember how I was bitching about heartburn awhile back?  I’m bitching again tonight.  Exhausted, but feeling so sick.  I wonder if I could get rid of my lithium someday….

I’m back…

One of the hallmarks of having manic depression, for me, is that I start a million projects and then I give up on them.  Then I come back… and then I start s’more.   It’s been particularly bad lately – I’ve even been blowing off my psychiatrist.

To make it up to you, I’m going to share one of my favourite recipes.  Ironically, it’s my Nan’s and it’s vegan with just one minor change.  I PROMISE YOU THIS:  IF YOU “HATE” TURNIPS, THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND.

Nan’s Scalloped Turnip and Apple Casserole

 Casserole Ingredients

  • 1 large turnip
  • 1-2 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and sliced cooking apples (ie. golden delicious)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar, divided (or you can use brown sugar splenda – see note below)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, divided

 Topping Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees!

Peel turnip and cut into small pieces.  Cook to turnip to fork tender and drain.     (Turnips can take a LONG time to cook… keep the pot at a simmer… don’t let it go dry.)    Add 1/4 cup margarine  to turnip and mash.  Stir in 1 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside.

Mix together 1/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon and apples.  Set aside.

Grease a two quart casserole dish.  Margarine or a spray of canola oil.  Arrange in alternate layers (beginning with the turnip & ending with turnip), the  mashed turnip and apple mixture.  Set aside.

After assembling the casserole, mix all topping ingredients until crumbly.   Sprinkle crumble mix over top of casserole and bake for one hour.

By the way – I recently learned that not all sugar (white or brown) is necessarily vegan.  Did you know that white sugar is whitened using animal bones?!?  AHH!  Do some research – there are companies that are animal friendly.

Another point – Splenda seems to be vegetarian, BUT (big but) if you’re against animal testing, I read on a website that Splenda products were tested on animals.  I’m nearly ready to cry – I use Splenda in my coffee and in my baking.  (My dad’s a diabetic.)

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