Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Tuesday Review

Foodie Fridays has been such a hit over the past three years, that I thought I'd introduce a new weekly theme day: The Tuesday Review.

I often get asked what my favourite cookbooks are, and as an author myself, and with a collection of something close to 100 cookbooks, I've sure got a lot of opinions to share! But as I don't spend my life reading cookbooks, the reviews won't just be for vegan cookbooks - I plan to give a nod to interesting websites, blogs, films, restaurants, products and zines too! (Feel free to make suggestions - better yet, send something my way! Just e-mail me for my mailing address.)
And I promise to post a review at least every-other Tuesday if you promise to show up, read, and comment.

And the first book (...drum roll please...): The Balanced Plate by Renee Loux (Rodale, 2006)

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Overall feeling: I first sought out Renee after watching the doc Go Further, where she joins Woody Harrelson and some friends for a bike tour down the west coast of the US. In the film she enthusiastically explains the composition of her decadent raw Chocolate Avocado Pie. From that quick clip you can tell Renee's energy is contagious. Renee is a celebrity chef, perhaps most known for her interest in living/raw foods. For many, her second book may seem more approachable than her first. Not because this one's better (they're both great), but because it offers an assortment of both raw and cooked recipes - proving that the best approach is a balanced one.

Best bits: An impressive resource for information on whole foods ingredients, organic and local produce choices, water filtration and other home projects, not to mention nutrition from a number of different angles, including Ayurveda and Macrobiotics. There are easy-to-follow charts on things like seasonal produce and roasting veggies. I trust Renee's recipes because they're clearly written, and she introduces them with an enthusiasm that makes my mouth water every time.
Some of the ones that make the top of my "To Try" list: Endive Cups with Pine Nut Creme Fraiche, Fresh Figs, and Olives; Roasted Corn and Tomato Soup; Raspberry Lavender Lemonade; Roasted Beet Carpaccio; Pear and Pecan Torte with Lemon Ginger Cream.

Less-wonderful bits: There are a number of recipes that the average cook won't be able to whip up from the ingredients that we generally have in our pantries. It's time to get to know umeboshi plums and lotus root. Save recipes like Andalusian Gazpacho with Avocado Sorbet for some time other than a lazy weeknight.

Whole foods focus?: indeed!
Vegan-friendly?: 100 percent! (even though it's not advertised as such)
Eco-conscious?: yes!
Web presence?: yup.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Comfort soup

Despite the complete melting of the snow around these parts, and the move from winter coat and boots to the vest-over-fleece-hoody combo with sneakers (as you can tell, I always like to be at the height of fashion, even if it's just for a trip to the health food store down the street), I've really been looking for coziness in the past week. I've been using the fire place at my parents' house (my apartment doesn't have one, sadly), and making comfort foods. Like this one:

Leek and Potato Soup

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A classic from my mum – now dairy-free!
Leeks can be sandy, so the trick is to slice 'em length-wise and rinse 'em well between each layer before putting them on the cutting board.
I like to ladle this soup over a big bowl of steamed kale.


3 tbsp. olive oil + 2 tbsp. filtered water
3 large or 6 small leeks, chopped with green tops and hairy rooty bits removed (about 5 cups)
4-5 good fist-sized potatoes (about 1 kg.), peeled and sliced to about 1/4-inch thick
2 1/2 cups filtered water or vegetable stock
1 tsp. sea salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
a few good twists of pepper (black or white pepper)
2 cups organic non-dairy milk (something creamier, like unsweetened almond milk or soymilk, would be better than something thin like rice milk)
1/4 cup finely chopped chives (optional)

Heat the oil and the 2 tbsp. of water in a soup pot. Add the leeks and sauté until soft, being careful not to let them brown (about 10 minutes).
Add the potatoes, water, salt, nutmeg and pepper, cover and simmer until the potatoes are soft (about 20-25 minutes).
Mash everything, or pour it into a blender for a quick whirl (I don’t like it to be completely puréed, a bit of texture is nice).
Add the milk and heat gently for 5 more minutes. Adjust seasonings to desired taste. Serve garnished with the chives if you so desire.

Makes 6 servings.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Slice after slice

First thing: from here on out, be sure to put domesticaffairDOTcom out of your mind (as I decided not to renew the URL this year), and always visit domesticaffairDOTca from now on.

Also, please keep submitting votes and suggestions for cookbook-related slogans (two posts down)and please join the Facebook groups for Domestic Affair (link on the right) and Get It Ripe.

In the end though, it always comes back to baking... doesn't it?

Cranberry Almond Loaf

Cranberry Almond Loaf
The tartness of the cranberries and the sweetness of the almonds make for a nice blend of flavours here. These loaves are pretty enough that I like to wrap them up nice and give them as gifts.

2 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup organic sugar or Sucanat
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup softened unrefined coconut oil or sunflower oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh cranberries (about 6 oz)
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1 tbsp. cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350oF.
Prepare two 8.5 by 4.5-inch loaf pans or 4 mini-loaf pans with a light coating of oil and a dusting of flour. Line with parchment paper if desired for greatest ease of removal at the end.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, applesauce, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and stir just until all of the flour is absorbed. Fold in the cranberries and almonds (truth be told, the loaf pictured here doesn't actually contain almonds, I ran out) and then quickly stir in the vinegar just until it's evenly distributed.
Portion batter evenly into the loaf pans and bake for about 35 minutes (minis) or 45 minutes (medium), until the tops are domed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Makes 2 medium loaves (as seen here) or 4 mini-loaves.
Stores in an airtight container for 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New beginnings

I like books on writing - anything by Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead by Ariel Gore.... All of these books suggest that a writer should write daily to keep their skills sharp, or develop skills that weren't always there. I never really took this to heart though, because I always thought they were directing this suggestion to writers of fiction or memoirs, not authors of conversationally-toned resource zines and books like me.
However, for the past two days I have been engrossed in the process of running through the final edit of one of the greatest (if not the greatest) projects I've ever undertaken in my life, the bulk of text that in a month's time (gawd willing) will be a book that you can hold in your hot li'l hands, and I'm noticing that the words that I'm searching for jump onto the page faster and sentence structures are clearer and more succinct on the first try. Maybe this means that the this very time-consuming suggestion, does apply to me too, and is worth a try. Heck, there was a time when I first started this blog three years ago (hey, that's an anniversary we never celebrated here!) that I posted daily, or close to it (sometimes I even itched to post more than once a day), and I'm pretty sure people even read it because they left me comments.
I don't know what happened to that - there were times between living spaces where internet wasn't always so easily accessible, or times when my supply of photographs to accompany recipe posts had dried up, I thought I needed to post something educational but nothing came to mind, or I was simply uninspired... really, I don't think putting my mind to what didn't work is all that helpful.
Here I am now, chattier than I've been in a long while, and we'll see how long it lasts. Maybe just for today. Maybe a decent while.

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"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.

hello?

about the blog:
domesticaffairATgmail.com

about the cookbooks:
getitripeATgmail.com

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!

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