Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Resolutions for a New Year

Ahh, the magical time of the New Year is nearly upon us. Although the date of the new year has changed many times throughout history, the tradition of New Year's resolutions has been around for nearly 4,000 years, thanks to the Babylonians. I read one article that claimed "a customary resolution was returning something borrowed from a friend in the previous year." I think they were onto something!

Did you know that January is named after the Roman god Janus, the god of gates and doors, beginnings and endings? It is said Janus could see into the future and the past,and was often depicted with two faces, one looking ahead and one looking behind.

My resolutions are often the same, such as improving my Spanish vocabulary, travel more, start a new hobby...but this year I'm changing it up a bit and also adding some new goals.

  • I've taken up running and I'd like to continue it and run my first half-marathon in September 2010
  • get more active in the vegan community - check out my new facebook page!
  • more blog posts!
I must admit, I love reading about ancient civilizations, it was my favorite subject in school as long as i can remember and I also studied it in college. So what started out as a whim to find out when New Year's resolutions came about, led to some amazing culinary discoveries that I can't possibly fit into one blog post. I'm really excited about sharing what I've learned with you all, so stay tuned!

In the meanwhile, don't forget to join my facebook page and share your new year's reso's in the comments.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sometimes the perfect serving dish isn't a dish at all

Call me crazy, but I love spending hours in the kitchen, preparing big family dinners.  Although I cook every day for my little Gordita, it's not all that often that we host a big family gathering for dinner at our place.

One of the dilemmas I found myself in when preparing breakfast on Christmas morning was finding the perfect dish to serve the fruit salad in.  I wanted to use something pretty, and decorative, not just any old plastic tub.

And although unconventional, I found the perfect vessel.  In fact, it worked so well, I may never use it for flowers again.

Monday, December 28, 2009

White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas full of joy and laughter.  For those who don't celebrate this holiday, I still hope you had a chance to enjoy the best the season has to offer - whether it was amazing deals while shopping, or some really good food.

This year I hosted some of my out of town relatives for Christmas.  And being the good hostess that I am, I wanted to bake them a festive treat.  I chose white chocolate Craisin cookies because I like how the color reflects the holiday season.  They turned out crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside.

White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan margerine)
2/3 cup brown sugar
Egg replacer equivilant to 1 egg (ie 1 1/2 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp water)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup Craisins
1/4 cup vegan white chocolate chips

Combine flour, sea salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  In a seperate mixing bowl, cream together Earth Balance/margerine and brown sugar. Add "egg" and vanilla, and beat until smooth.  Add dry ingredients to the wet, and mix well.  Fold in Craisins and white chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough on a slightly greased baking pan.  If you don't have a cookie scoop, you can use a regular spoon to scoop the dough out, and then roll the dough in the palm of your hands to form a ball.  Flatten each dough ball slightly before placing them in the oven.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing from pan. Makes about 24 cookies, depending on size.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Corn Chowder for a Cold Day

There's more than a crisp chill in the air here in Vancouver...the first snow of the season will be upon us any day now.  And cold weather definitely calls for a nice hot cup of soup!  After spending Sunday afternoon at the Santa Claus parade, some corn chowder was calling my name. 

Corn Chowder

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion
8 nugget potatoes, washed and diced
1 can creamed corn
1 cup peaches & cream corn
2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 red bell pepper, washed and diced
1/8 tsp cumin
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

In a large saucepan, saute onion and potatoes on medium heat until onions are transluscent - about 6 minutes.  Add both kinds of corn, almond milk and spices.  Bring to low boil on medium heat.  Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Using a ladle, scoop 1/2 of the soup mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Carefully pour back into the saucepan, add bell pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

* * *

One of my favourite parts of the Santa Claus parade was from the City of Vancouver's garbage collection, which was encouraging people to think about how much garbage we will create this holiday season.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Morning breakfast

On Sunday mornings I try to make a breakfast that involves more than my usual weekday fare of cold cereal and soy milk.  Sometimes it's pancakes or waffles, but today I felt like hash browns.  I love hash browns in any shape or size, especially when they're smothered in salsa.

There's more to making shredded hash browns than meets the eye.  If you don't get enough of the moisture out before you cook them, they'll end up a big soggy mess.  Some people swear by potato ricers to make shredded hash browns, others prefer patting them with paper towels to draw out the moisture. I don't have a ricer so I went the paper towel route today, and I also sauteed a small yellow onion with the potatoes to add some extra flavour. 

I think I might ask Santa for a ricer for Christmas ;)