Monthly Archives

July 2011

appetizers, recipes

Savory Zucchini Cakes

So last time, I promised I would share some fast and easy recipes.  These zucchini cakes are all that – no more complicated than making regular pancakes – but they’re healthy and filling and yummy.  They even seem all fancy and elaborate, at least to me, since they aren’t A) a sandwich/wrap, B) a rice bowl, or C) soup.

Zucchini Cakes

Served alongside a simple soup, this lunch tasted fancy.  The ingredient list is minuscule, and it takes around 20-30 minutes to cook all 16 pancakes up, depending on the size of your pan.  If you’re not going to eat them all at once, you can cook some of the batter up, and save the rest of the batter in the fridge for later.  I like doing that because then the pancakes are fresh – so much more awesome than pancakes that have been sitting on the counter for several hours.

Zucchini Cakes

Zucchini Cakes
Makes 16 small pancakes

Ingredients:

-3 generous cups of grated zucchini
-2 large, grated potatoes, about 2 cups
-1 c. chickpea flour
-1 tsp Madras curry powder (or other curry powder)
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne powder
Oil, for frying

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir.

2. Heat a large frying pan to medium-low heat, and add a little dollop of oil.  If your pan is super awesome and non-stick, you’ll only need a dab.  More oil is necessary for those not-so-great frying pans!

3.  Scoop scant 1/4 c. sized helpings of the zucchini mixture onto the frying pan, and flatten with a fork or your fingers.  This, like making pancakes, is not rocket science.  I like making cute little cakes because they’re easy to flip, and because they’re cute.

4.  Fry 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

This recipe yields enough pancakes for 4 people as a side.  Have it with soup, salad, sammiches, or just by itself as a snack or appetizer!

Zucchini Cakes

These taste super yum with salsa, but I’ve also eaten them with Vegenaise which was grood.  A chutney would be great on here and will be the next topping I attempt!  Or a homemade fresh salsa with diced tomatoes and cilantro and onions and a squeeze of lime…nom.

Well my band The Criminal Kid is off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz.  And by that I mean, we’re cruising down to Saskatoon to play the Taste of Saskatchewan festival this weekend.  I’m pretty eager to play on a big stage in the great outdoors for the first time ever (on both fronts), and it looks like the weather will be good, if not a little chilly.

Have a lovely weekend – it’s hard not to when it’s summatime.  🙂  I’ll be back with pictures!

books and reviews

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

John Robbins was the guy who got me into veganism. His previous book, Diet for a New America, convinced me that I had to ditch the animal products, with his graphic and shocking depictions of factory farm life, not only for the animals some of us call meat, but also for the animals we use for milk and eggs. That book moved me to tears, to anger, to despair, and after reading it I was changed forever.

So when I accidentally found The Food Revolution hanging out in the grocery store, I knew I had to have it. I didn’t pick it up with the expectation of it changing my life in the same way Diet For a New America did, but I was certainly excited, and had some fairly high expectations.
To say the very least, I was not disappointed. John Robbins is an engaging writer and you can feel his compassion through the pages. He has the ability to discuss sensitive topics with eloquence, and he tells the truth like it is without coming across as judgemental. Perhaps this is because, as he says himself in the book, his problem isn’t with individual people – his problem is with the big institutions, corporations that just care about the bottom line and trample on our health and our planet in the process. He writes about these difficult topics in a language that anyone can understand, which is always a bonus – yet it isn’t a simple book, and I learned a whole bunch from it, despite how fairly well-versed I consider myself on the subjects of animal rights and environmentalism.
The Food Revolution is very well-rounded, discussing not only ethics, which is one of the main focuses of Diet for a New America, but also health and disease, and a bunch of fascinating stuff on the environment and genetic engineering, threading animal product consumption into these crucial topics.
Despite this book being happily free of jargon, it’s very well-researched, with 50 pages of references in the back. When you’re discussing topics that tend to be controversial, it’s important to back yourself up with as much good science and study as you can, lest people pass you off as just another crazy person. Plus, I’m a footnote nerd and I love checking out references more in-depth.
One of the coolest things about this book were the “what we know” interjections, where he’d pace the body of text with a box of quick facts. Another box he frequently inserts, titled “is that so?” contains a claim from the industry, such as from the CEO of Monsanto, and another (typically opposite) claim from an institution dedicated to public health and knowledge, such as the Nobel Laureate in Medicine. Here’s an exerpt as an example:
“Those of us in industry can take comfort…After all, we’re the technical experts. We know we’re right. The ‘antis’ obviously don’t understand the science, and are just as obviously pushing a hidden agenda – probably to destroy capitalism.”
-Bob Shapiro, Monsanto’s CEO
“(Genetic Engineering) faces our society with problems unprecedented, not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. It places in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of some three billion years of evolution…Up to now, living organisms have evolved very slowly, and new forms have had plenty of time to settle in. Now whole proteins will be transposed overnight into wholly new associations, with consequences no one can fortell…Going ahead in this direction may not only be unwise, but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, and novel epidemics.”
-Geoge Wald, M.D., Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Professor of Biology, Harvard University
So the final verdict: I loved The Food Revolution. It moved me, it fired me up, and it gave me a push to do what I can to help. It took me out of my own day-to-day bubble into a much larger context, where action and activism is ever-important if we don’t want to leave our kids with a gigantic mess. And this book is a constant reminder that it’s not just about us, either – it’s also about the creatures we share this planet with, going extinct faster than you can say “hamburger”, and about the planet itself – you know, that beautiful sphere in space who gives us nourishment and a place to stay, while asking little in return.

It’s easy to forget how fragile the web of life is, and how much we depend on microorganisms, clean water, good soil, trees, bees, ants, and oxygen. It’s easy to forget, since they’ve always been there for us. It’s easy to forget, but we can’t afford to forget.
Above all, this book reminds me to be grateful for everything I have, and for all of the beauty, everywhere, for free.
recipes, Soups and Stews

Hot and Sour Soup

I would eat pretty much any food. Vegan, of course. But I’m not a picky eater, and I don’t hate on the plant kingdom. Maybe it’s because I’m so into equality and stuff, but I just love all food. Even the stuff I used to hate, like cilantro, we’re all tight now. And I’ll probably never seek out previous enemies like cantaloupe, but I could now accept them without making a face.

Hot and Sour Soup

Logan is an intermediate picky eater. He loves pretty much all vegetables, but he’s super picky with fruit, and makes funny faces when I use fresh herbs that aren’t parsley or basil. Even parsley’s pushing it sometimes. He hates mushrooms and celery with a venomous passion that I will never understand. He doesn’t care for lentils, and brothy soups just aren’t his thing.
My parents are advanced-level picky eaters. They look at the food I make with scowly, skeptical faces, and try just a teensy-tiny bite of those weird things I cook, in fear of epically horrible flavors. My mom seems to hate anything she hasn’t heard of, determinedly set in her ways, and has an irrational hatred of chickpeas.
My dad, on the other hand, surprised me. After getting all up in my hot and sour soup’s face, scowling at it with some severity, he tried a bowl. “Smells good,” he said. “Is that cabbage? Because I like cabbage.”

My dad, the anti-vegetable warrior, likes cabbage, the vegetable everyone hates? Had I stepped into an alternate universe?

And then he slurped the brothy soup and said, “this is good,” sounding just about as surprised as I was. And then he took seconds. I almost fell off my chair.

This hot and sour soup can be made in a grand total of 15 minutes, uses cheap ingredients, and can be given to (some) advanced-level picky eaters. That’s a win in my books.
hot-and-sour-soup-1

Hot and Sour Soup
Ingredients:
5 c. vegetable broth
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce (or more, depending on the saltiness of your broth)
1 tbsp hot chili oil
5 c. Chinese cabbage, ends removed, sliced in thin strips (about 6 leaves)
1 c. mushrooms, chopped thick
1/2 c. carrots, cut in matchsticks
2 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
1 lb. tofu, cut in matchsticks
1 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan, combine the vegetable broth, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and hot chili oil. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to simmer.
2. Once boiling, add the cabbage, mushrooms and carrots and cook for five minutes, until softened. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with water, stirring well, and pour into the soup pot. Add the tofu and cook for a couple more minutes.
3. Remove from heat and drizzle in the sesame oil. Garnish with the green onion and enjoy with other yummy Asian food that picky eaters love, like spring rolls and fried rice!