Damn It, Why Did I Have Cereal This Morning? or…

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How I Learned To Love Coconut Milk Even More.

Before the events of this post, I already loved coconut milk and keep several cans in the house at all times. Big cans, for when I’m making rice (it’s soooo good) or little cans, to toss into a smoothie. By the way, the little cans are Cool Runnings brand, because apparently my kitchen needs a bobsled team.

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“Meat”ball sandwiches

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I love a good meatball sandwich. I really, really do. Especially when it is just COVERED in cheese. Mmmm. 

But meat is expensive and I’m cheap, so if I can find a vegan/vegetarian version (that doesn’t involve pricey soy meats) of a much-loved dish, I’m going to try it. A half can of chickpeas vs a pound of beef? It’s a no brainer. Plus, then I get to use the other half of the can for hummus, so I’m getting two meals for a dollar. Awesome. 

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Butter Cauliflower…it’s not what it sounds like.

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It’s a vegan version of Butter Chicken, though when I excitedly told my wife I was planning to make it, she was less than enthused. “Butter…cauliflower?” It took me a minute, but then I realized she thought I meant just plain ol’ cauliflower with butter on it. Oops. She agreed to try the cauliflower with the proviso that I realize she doesn’t usually like cauliflower. That’s fine, it’s cooked separately and then added to the rice and the sauce, so if she didn’t like it, it was no trouble to make it without. I’m a cauliflower fan, so that just meant more for me! I love me some butter chicken, but mixing heavy cream with Indian spices doesn’t do my digestive system any favors, so it’s a very, very rare treat for me. So when I found a vegan version, I nearly jumped for joy. When I read over the recipe and realized I wouldn’t have to make any changes, I did do a little happy dance in the middle of my kitchen. I am going to repost the recipe here, but only so I can find it easier and so I can hold on to it in case something happens to the other site. But I found the recipe over at Food Doodles, you should totally check them out. I did not make the coconut brown rice, De doesn’t like brown rice, so I made my own version with a can of coconut milk and Jessie’s Tea from DavidsTea, a blend of coconut, rooibos, and lavender.

Author: Heidi @ Food Doodles
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
For the cauliflower:
3-4 C cauliflower, 1 small head
1 tbsp oil
1 – 1½ tbsp tandoori seasoning
juice of half a lemon, about 2 tbsp
½ tsp salt
For the sauce:
2 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
¾ tsp cumin
½ tsp cinnamon
1 quart (or a 32 oz can) jar tomatoes, pureed
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 can full fat coconut milk
¼ tsp salt + more to taste
Instructions
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium low heat. When hot add the onion and saute until completely softened and some pieces are starting to caramelize and turn dark, 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, coriander, cumin and cinnamon and stir again. Pour in the tomatoes and stir well. Bring up to a boil and then turn down and simmer while preparing the cauliflower.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
To prepare the cauliflower chop into bite sized pieces and lay out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with tandoori seasoning, fresh lemon juice and salt. Toss well to combine. When the oven is hot, place cauliflower in the oven and roast until the edges of the cauliflower are beginning to caramelize and turn dark but the cauliflower is still firm, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir the sauce occasionally until it thickens, about 20 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of sugar, ¼ tsp of salt and the can of full fat coconut milk(*see note). Stir well.
Once the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and stir into the sauce. Stir well and serve hot over rice.
 
She also notes that if you want a thicker sauce, don’t shake your can of coconut milk and instead just use the thicker cream on top and use the thinner liquid for something else (maybe your rice!)
 
I have a few notes of my own for what I would do next time. Oddly enough, De loved the cauliflower and I didn’t like the texture of it at all. I’m big on texture, so I ended up boxing up my leftovers with no cauliflower. More for De!  Also, I’ve never worked with tandoori before, so I had no idea it was spicy and used 1.5 heaping tablespoons on the cauliflower. De loved it, but I was chugging water and sweating. I did use an immersion blender on my finished sauce and it was a dark red-orange, not the bright color you see in her pictures, but it tastes delicious. I will definitely use this recipe again, it was delicious and tasted just like the butter chicken sauce I know and love. And let’s face, we only eat it for the sauce, the chicken is just a sideshow for this yummy dish. Oh! And I had the grate idea (you’ll get it in a minute) to grate the onion, ginger, and garlic in our salad shooter. 1/10, would not do again. So messy!!!

I’m back!

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So last night, as we finished off our dinner, my wonderful wife, De, states that one year for Christmas, I should compile a book of my recipes to give as gifts. I scoffed and asked her who would want copies of my weird recipes and she began naming people. I still think she’s nuts, but I was also looking for a way to preserve my tried and true recipes with notes about what I did differently, so I wandered back to this blog. I decided to make it public and share it on facebook and google+ in case any of you crazy people really do want my recipes, but overall this is primarily to record what I’ve made and how we’ve liked it. Other posts may pop up now and then, but I’m going to try to be laid back about it and not make myself stick to a schedule, which is what killed this blog the first time around.

A note: Most of my recipes are not my own, I just find a recipe similar to what I’m looking for and then tweak it a little. I have a whole list of food issues, so it’s rare for me to find a recipe I can use verbatim. For instance, I can’t have dairy. Let me rephrase that. I shouldn’t have dairy, but cheese is the love of my life. Not to mention that “real” cheese is cheaper than the vegan stuff I prefer to use in my cooking.

We are also on a tight, tight budget so we can afford to go see my family for Christmas, YAY. So you’ll see a lot of financial corners being cut as well. I’ve become one of those crunchy granola lesbians. I make my own dishwasher soap and laundry soap and kombucha and I firmly believe in the healing powers of homoeopathic remedies over pills. I am off all of my medication and I feel better than ever, but that’s another post for another day.

A little about me, since things have changed since I started this blog. I have been married for five years now to the best wife a gal could ask for. Seriously, De is amazing and supportive and wonderful. We have three cats, Bella, Pekoe, and Earlie…Pekoe is orange and Earlie is grey and I seriously love tea, y’all. We also have a little red foot tortoise named Da Hong Pao (another type of tea), but we just call her Pao. She’s nuts.

I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or CFS for short. I’m working on getting an official diagnosis, but doctors either can’t figure out what’s wrong with me or they want to stuff me with a bunch of pills to see which ones take. After my last set of meds screwed me up worse than the disease, I’m taking a break for now and trying out more natural remedies, like the kombucha and apple cider vinegar for my heartburn, instead of Prevacid. But what CFS essentially means is that some days I’m able to get out of bed and go about my normal routine just fine, but other days I literally cannot get out of bed. We live near the Toronto Zoo and while I love the Zoo with all my heart, we have to plan carefully because after a day at the Zoo, I have to spend the next 2-3 days in bed, recovering. I am absurdly lucky in that my wife is able to support both of us so I don’t have to work and can take care of myself at home and conserve my energy for the things that truly matter.

So that’s a little bit about me and this blog and my life. It’s not just about tea any more.

Jessie’s Ro-Tea

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This is more so I can make this dish again in the future, but I figured why not publish it here? We recently returned from a cruise to the Caribbean with my in-laws and in St. Maarten we tried the beauty that is Roti (despite there being 2 roti joint around the corner from our house). It tasted very similar to a curry I used to make in college, so I was sure that with the right spices, I could do it again. It’s stewing away in the crockpot right now because, let’s face it, these type of dishes are best done slow over a low heat.

I started with this recipe here, but immediately tossed the idea of green beans in my roti because, well, I just didn’t like the idea. The roti we had in St. Maarten had peas, so my wife suggest that, but I laughed her off. Chicken and potatoes would be good enough for us, thank you very much!

…until I got the chicken out of the freezer and discovered it had gone bad. Crap. And there’s some kind of chicken something in there, but my wife put it in and I don’t know if it’s for stock or if it’s boneless chicken thighs, so I’m not gonna chance it. Veggie potato roti it is!

And I don’t have a fresh red chili pepper…and all of my garlic is dead…and I don’t have sunflower oil…and is Indian masala the same as curry masala? Cause that’s all I got! Hokay. So after I chopped up a million and a half potatoes, I couldn’t bring myself to chop up any more. I gave in and dumped in a cup and a half of peas. It actually looks really good! And y’all know me, I can’t bring myself to add just water to a recipe, I used Jessie’s tea for the sauce in this because of the coconut realness. (No more RuPaul for Rita).

So here’s the updated list of ingredients:

1.5 pounds of potatoes cut into bite size chunks. Peel if you like, I’m too damn lazy.

1.5 cups of frozen peas

1 onion chopped as small as you can get it until you start crying and make your wife panic

.5 teaspoon of dried chili peppers

2 teaspoons granulated garlic

1.5 Tablespoons Indian masala

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

2 low-sodium chicken bouillon sachets (because of course I didn’t have cubes)

.25 teaspoon cumin

2 cups Jessie’s Tea (I let 2 heaping teaspoons steep for about 5-7 minutes)

3 tbsp olive oil

That’s…similar to the original ingredient list, right? So this is how it panned out: Pour oil into a pan on the stove, but don’t turn it on yet. Look for chicken. Get freezer burn digging for it. Find it and break all of your fingers trying to get the damn meat out of the package only to have the most ungodly smell hit you in the face. Promptly throw it away and try not to gag. Decide to be vegetarian for the night, possibly for life.

Chop onions, cry as soon as first chop is made. Try to convince cat to chop them for you. Call cat dirty names when she wrinkles her nose and runs from the room like a coward. Power through like a boss. Remember old adage about sunglasses helping when chopping onions. Find sunglasses. Still crying, but now look cool.

Mix onions with chili peppers and granulated garlic and set aside. Mix masala, cumin, tomato paste, and bouillon and set aside.  Add oil to pan on the stove. Remember you already added oil to the stove, curse, and try to add oil back to bottle of olive oil. Make huge mess all over stove. Try to wipe up oil with damp wash cloth. Remember basic science as to why that isn’t working. Curse more. Find paper towels. Finally clean up mess.

Heat up oil. Remember the drop of oil on the burner just in time to see the puff of flame on the underside of the pan. Shriek, run away, and then come back with a bucket of water to find it already out.

Oh.

Okay then.

Shrug and keep water nearby just in case. Add onion mix to the hot oil and cook carefully until onions are tender. Dump in frozen peas and curse a lot as the ice sizzles and pops in the hot oil because you forgot another basic science lesson involving water and oil. Quickly add potatoes, stir to coat, and then add to the crock pot. Add the tea and let it go.

I only have four hours, so I’m going to keep it on high until 6, when the mother in law is coming over for dinner. The original recipe says 5-7 hours on low, but you probably know your crockpot better than I do. Do what you think is best. What I think is best is that I not cook for a while until I’ve got my head back in the game!