30 November 2009

This Week in My Kitchen: Barbeque Chipotle Weiners n' Beans, Veggie Pot Pie, Vegan French Onion Soup, Tom Yum Soup Broth

The past ten days have been ridiculously busy with work, socializing ('tis the season), chores, and various other stuff. But I have had time to do some cooking. I'm certainly not the best cook, but I do love to create new dishes in the kitchen. I'm one of those cooks who just can't follow a recipe verbatim - I'm always experimenting, with generally good, but sometimes mixed results! My goals are always to create yummy, healthy vegan food that's going to satisfy me as well as my omni hubby and friends. Here's a selection of the food I've made this past week (Barbeque Chipotle Weiners n' Beans, Veggie Pot Pie, French Onion Soup).

Barbeque Chipotle Weiners n' Beans
One of my favourite things to eat is baked beans, and last week I decided to make a vegan version of weiners n' beans (or beaners n' weins as my mom calls them). I used the sausage recipe from Vegan Brunch to make the weiners, chopped them up, and added them to cooked pinto beans and a sauce made from barbeque sauce, chipotle hot sauce, vegan worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's) and a bit of vegetable stock to thin it out. I baked it, covered, for about 45 minutes. Yum!

sausages steaming

sausages ready for chopping

weiners n' beans fresh from the oven

hearty dinner for a cold night

Veggie Pot Pie
On Tuesday my friend Stephanie came over for dinner. She made salad and I made veggie pot pie. I always use the hot water pie pastry recipe from How it All Vegan. For the filling I just chopped up and par-cooked yams, a russet potato, a parsnip, some carrots, broccoli (florets and stems), mushrooms and finely chopped spinach. With the leftover filling and pastry I made a cute little single-serving galette.

pie, made with love

the galette made a good lunch the next day

French Onion Soup
My husband Kirk's birthday was yesterday, and instead of going out for a fancy dinner, he wanted to stay home and have home made french onion soup with me and our friend Hugues. It's one of Kirk's favourite meals, and I used to love it too (before I found out it's made with beef broth). I've never made french onion soup before, so I looked at a bunch of recipes online and watched Alton Brown make it on Good Eats, season 1 episode 9 (I have all the seasons - it's my favourite cooking show). Then I just went for it.
I chopped up three large sweet onions, one medium red onion, and one medium white onion. There were many tears. I melted a couple of tablespoons of margarine in my non-stick high-sided frying pan, added the onions and carmelized them over medium-low heat. I made the broth from organic vegetable broth with a bit of apple cider vinegar, simmered with a bouquet garni of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary and a halved garlic clove and two bay leaves. I added the onions and simmered it for another half hour, then spooned it into two ramekins (for the guys) and a bowl (for me). I toasted french bread and rubbed a fresh clove of garlic on both sides and added one each to the top of the ramekins, then grated some cheese on top and melted the cheese under the broiler. Paired with some nice red wine and good company, it was a great dinner.

a lot of sliced onions

carmelized onion smells fantastic

my bowl of soup with garlic toast on the side

Kirk's cheesy soup

Yum is right! Right now, as I write this, I'm making some lemongrass broth for my favourite soup - tom yum, or Thai hot & sour soup. I eat tom yum soup for lunch three or four times a week, but I've never truly made it from scratch. My methods are by no means traditional, and I'm making it up as I go along. To make the broth I'm boiling three lemongrass stalks, two garlic cloves, an inch of ginger and a dried red chile in a few cups of water. I removed the chile after half an hour so it didn't take over the flavour. The house seriously smells amazing!! I'll make soup in the next couple of days and post the results.


Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For--From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes  How It All Vegan! 10th Anniversary Edition: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet  GOOD EATS 9-Pack Alton Brown DVD's Food Network, 9 DVD SET, 27 FULL EPISODES! Vol. 5-7 Super Sweets, Breakfast Eats 2 & 3

19 November 2009

More artsy-fartsiness

Over the past couple of days I've been slowly tackling The Giant Guestroom Painting (catchy name, huh?). The background is complete: splotchy subtle shades of aqua and teal. Then I stenciled on the sketch and quickly blocked in the base colour of the main shapes. It doesn't sound like a lot, but it took me two days (only after my paying work was complete, of course). Again, pardon my crappy photography. It's not likely to get any better, especially in my house in this weather.


And here's a bonus shot of my fancy-schmancy paper plate palette and my brushes:

17 November 2009

There's someone on my roof and it's not Santa Claus

It's an unexpected not-rainy day here in Vancouver, and I'm wasting it indoors while some guy named Greg crawls around on my roof. He's investigating the source of our leak, and I hope he fixes it soon - the sound of dripping water makes me have to pee a lot!

We've collected about 3 or 4 litres of water over the past two days, but thankfully we've got a reprieve (however short) from the rain, and in Greg's capable hands the dripping should stop.

My cats are making the most of the sun today. Here's Chaos (right) and Jerry checking out the neighbourhood from our front window:

15 November 2009

I need new winter boots!

With all this record-breaking rain (resulting in a leaky roof in our dining room this evening - boo), I've realised that I'm in need of some decent waterproof boots. I don't care for those cutesy printed rain boots, and they seem to be going out of style again anyway. Besides, my feet get chilly. Here are the ones I really want from Zappos:

I love the black patent and the little flower on the heels! But I'm kinda poor right now. Maybe the swell and inexpensive boots at Go Jane (which I found because of my friend Melanie) will do for the time being.

14 November 2009

Inaugural Post

In preparing to write this, my first blog post, I downloaded the photos from my camera. Apparently a large memory card is both a blessing and a curse, as I've got hundreds of photos to sort through. Remember when people used to print photos? I decided the best course of action was to ignore all the photo files except the ones I want to post...

Today I spent the day working on my most ambitious painting to date. For those of you who don't know, I've just started painting this year, and most of the projects I've completed have been quite small (5" x7" to 9" x12"). This one is 36" x 24" and I'm feeling a little nervous about that. But necessity breeds invention (is that the phrase?), and the bare walls of my guest room are crying out for some dramatic art. I started prepping the canvas and painting the background, and quickly ran out of white paint. So I worked on the sketches - it's a woman with her hand outstretched and a chickadee about to land. Here's what I've got so far...

Excuse my crappy photography. Tomorrow I'll go get some more paint and acrylic medium and finish the background, then stencil on the sketch and get started. I think I'll have to really make sure the maple branch is nice and soft and doesn't overpower the rest of the imagery. I hope it doesn't suck!!