Saturday, October 31, 2009

From the Yum Files: Veggie Spaghetti

Riddle me this gentle reader: I have never been a vegetarian, but the best main courses I make are ALL veggie dishes! Strange, but true. Give me a bag of TVP and I'm on my way, but I really have no idea how to cook meat or even fish (bad Newfoundlander! bad!). Mister Man is the master of beef and pork and salmon, so luckily, we've got all our bases covered over here at camp omnivore.

Here's how I make vegetarian spaghetti. There are a couple of secret ingredients, and I know it's Halloween and everything, but you non-believers, don't be scared!

Secret ingredient #1: TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein (which is where you'll get your protein and a nice texture). It's sometimes called TSP - Texturized Soy Protein, or Texturized Soy Grits. You can buy it in bulk, or you can pick it up pre-packaged. It looks like this.

....until you add water, when it looks like this.

Mister Man kindly put some of the bulk stuff in a zip lock baggy for me. And he was even nice enough to label the bag. (The cryptic comment is a reference to the sci-fi film "Soylent Green". Oh that Mister Man. He's a real joker!)

Secret ingredient #2: Nutritional Yeast (which is where you'll get a big boost of Vitamin B, and a nice cheesy flavour.) It's sometimes called Good Tasting Yeast, or Flaked Yeast, or Nutritional Yeast. You can sometimes buy it in bulk, or you can also pick it up pre-packaged. It looks like this.

Or like this:

I can also tell you that it's DELICIOUS on popcorn, and it's also nice sprinkled on top of buttered toast, or on top of pasta. I also use it to make a killer gravy (and I promise to share THAT one with you in the coming months).

Teri's Veggie Spaghetti:

1 large sweet onion
a schwack of fresh white mushrooms (about half a brown paper mushroom bag full)
3 large carrots
1 yellow or orange pepper
6 cloves of garlic
2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups TVP
dried basil (maybe about 1 tablespoon)
a shot of hot sauce
a teaspoon of sugar
3 bay leaves
pepper and salt to taste
about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
a splash of red wine (if you've got it)

Catelli's Smart Pasta (the high fibre stuff)

Dice the onions, and slice the mushrooms, carrot and pepper. Heat a frying pan, and when it's warm, add olive oil and a titch of butter. Toss in your diced onion and cook oh-so-slowly until the onion is golden brown and full of caramelized goodness. Add your sliced carrot and continue to cook slowly until the carrots soften. Add your sliced pepper and continue to cook slowly. When your vegetables are verging on cooked, toss in your diced garlic and cook for just a minute or so before pulling the pan off the heat.

In a medium sized to large pot, add 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and toss in your cooked vegetables.

In a small bowl, add some boiling water to your TVP until it starts to puff up. Stir this into your sauce and add the basil, salt and pepper, bay leaves, sugar, shot of hot sauce and nutritional yeast. You can also add a splash of red wine if you're so inclined. On very low heat, let the sauce simmer, stirring from time to time. The sauce is best if it simmers for a couple of hours, and then chills overnight. So I suggest you make it the day before!

Serve it over pasta (I really like the high fibre stuff that Catelli makes. It actually has more fibre than your average whole wheat pasta and it's delicious to boot). Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan cheese, and nutritional yeast.

Yum. Comfort food that's actually good for you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

On getting old(er) together

Last night we had a belated birthday celebration for one of the women with whom I shared a truly great life adventure. When I went back to film school (too many years ago to mention), I went back as a "mature student" (meaning I wasn't particularly "mature", just "old(er)" than the average 20-something student in our class.) Much to my delight, I discovered that a small posse of other "mature" women had ALSO been accepted to the film program. (though I was the "most mature" of the lot in terms of birth date.)

And so we began a very intense 3 year period of learning, working, drinking gallons of coffee, and shooting in the rain/cold/day/night, and sobbing rising to the challenge when it was hard, and cramming studying together, and sometimes being shit disturbers in class when we knew that SOMEONE had to carry the feminist torch and everyone else sat silent. I'm telling you, despite our winning smiles and charm, you really wouldn't have wanted to mess with any of us when the chips were down. But if you were a member of our amazing class, you knew that we had your back.

Four of us made a really great connection and have managed to maintain that connection since graduating 11 years ago (albeit sometimes sporadically). We are; Meebs, Doodie (or KD), AJ and moi. So last night, with 3 of us in tow, we celebrated our Meebs. (Her real name is Denise. I can't QUITE recall why Meebs seemed so appropriate at the time. It must have been the lack of sleep and air in the studio.) She'd be the one in the foreground of the above image.

One of us (AJ) was missing because she had to work, but we still managed to solve the problems of the world. So, if you were wondering how that happened last night while some of you lay sleeping.... well - yup - it was us. We managed to cram in about 6 months worth of heady and important stuff: love, work, family, food, and fun.

Oh! And Meebs shared her brush with death when she broke her arm a month ago.

Which prompted Doodie to recall a similar life and death experience.

There was lovely food, (like Doodie's most fabulous salad) and veggie spaghetti (I'll share the secret recipe tomorrow)....

And what kind of birthday would it be without cake? (Or mocha chocolate chip cupcakes with a chocolate sour cream icing, to be exact - recipe coming soon to a Sugarlove blog near you).

And most of all, there were some really great belly laughs. The kind of laughs that come from sharing history.

And THAT, in a gorgeous nutshell, would be the beauty of growing old(er) together.

Happy birthday Meebs....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Favourite Photos (Part 4 of a gazillion: Colombia)

Sometimes, life hands you a glorious and rare opportunity on a platter - right out of the blue. I love it when life does that.

In 2008, I had such an experience - the absolute privilege of traveling to Cali, Colombia with my brilliant friend and colleague Tasha. Here she is, about three months pregnant at the time. She is as beautiful in spirit as she is in this photograph. She glows.

I went as part of a creative support team to help with a workshop production of an interdisciplinary performance piece. (If I've lost anyone here, let me say that we were working on a theatre/dance piece with slides and video). The piece tells two parallel tales about missing women from 2 different parts of the world.

In BC, a young woman travels from the suburbs to the infamous Downtown East Side in search of her sister who has dissapeared. If you don't know a lot about what's happened in BC regarding dozens of women who've gone "missing", you can read up here. Be warned that it's not a pretty story.

In Colombia, another young woman waits by the Magdalena River for her sister to come so that together they can escape the voilence that was marked by the struggle between FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas and the Colombian Military.

Much of the voilence that happened in both places was towards indigenous people. First Nations women. In any event, my brilliant and talented friend was collaborating with a dancer from Colombia on a piece about the violence, the lives, the collilding stories of these two women from different Americas....

In between the time we spent in the theatre and working at our hotel, we were able to stroll the streets by day. When darkness falls, people tend to roll up the sidewalks and shut themselves inside. But by daylight, Cali is a beautiful city. I wanted to share some of the photos I took with you. The colours are beautiful, and people take such pride putting unique touches on their homes.

I have more photos, but I think I'll save them for another rainy day. I'll leave you with the one night time shot I have. This one was taken from the roof of our hotel.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Behind the Scenes

Last week I was consumed with organizing a film shoot. This is something I LOVE. There is nothing quite like getting all your ducks in a row, and prepping a shoot. And the pay-off of being cocooned in a studio, and working one's way through a shot list is great. When everything is going right it is almost as satisfying as making a baked good that actually LOOKS LIKE THE PICTURE IN THE BOOK!!! (When everything is going WRONG - well - that's another story best left for another day. If I were to cough up a baking analogy here, it would start with the word FRANKEN and end with the word PIE.)

Friday was a great day in which almost everything went our way (except for the part where I left to pick up a last minute prop, only to discover that half of east Vancouver had been closed due to a police incident and traffic was being re-routed all over hell's high acre.) This presented an arm- gnawing moment of anxiety, which dissipated once I was once again ensconced in the walls of the studio (arm still in tact).

Here's the thing about being on set: there are SO many darn photo ops. Really, it's enough to fill a girl's memory card to the point of overflowing. But I was all with "the working" so there wasn't a lot of time to simply enjoy all the niftiness surrounding me, but I did sneak a couple of moments to steal these:

Gel. It makes images look great, and it looks great in images!

Never come between a gaffer and his gel kit.... (but check out how organized he is! When the DP called for "a quarter blue", Tony was able to reach out and put his hand right) on it!

If I were a REAL girl, I'd know how to apply stuff like this. And in fact, it's so darn nifty looking, that I'm almost tempted to buy it just to look at all the purdy colours!

I loved our crew. There is NUTHIN' like a great film crew. And ours was BEYOND great.

Monday, October 26, 2009

At the end of a really long week...

I just wanted to say right here, in front of god, the goddess and everyone reading this humble post, that Mister Man is beyond wonderful.

Last week was brutally busy for me. I was working day and I was working night (and I'm SO not complainin' - just sayin'.) And when the film shoot I was working on wrapped on Friday night, I crawled home to the best person in the world and I fell into a deep sleep that lasted until Saturday morning when I awoke up to this: (or a version of this - because this photo was actually taken last Christmas when Mister Man was cooking for the big new year's day brunch...)

When Mister Man puts the above ingredients together, he ends up making these: his world famous crustless quiches. They are made with eggs, and ham, and cheese and love (and sometimes cream).

And when I opened my puffy li'l peepers on Saturday morning, this is what awaited me. Real men may not EAT quiche, but they sure know how to make 'em!

The way I figure it, I must've done something really wonderful in a previous life, because ending a week from hell with a couple of slices of heaven makes for the start of a rejuvenating weekend.

And I would share the recipe with you, but the thing is that he makes them off the top of his head. So there IS no recipe per say... just a genius who is lurking behind a veil of light and culinary inspiration. So thank-you Mister Man. I sure appreciate it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Evil Genius Cookies (AKA Peanut Butter Cup Cookie-Cakes)

I have been wanting to make these for awhile,

and when Lisa showed up with a box of THESE from Trader Joe's in Seattle:

I knew the time had come to take this idea out for a spin. (These are peanut butter cups of the miniature variety. They're a little larger than miniature Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.)

The evil genius part comes when you make up a batch of peanut butter cookie dough, press balls of the dough into a cupcake pan (or miniature cupcake pan), bake them for 6-8 minutes and then, while the dough is still soft, press miniature peanut butter cups into the centre and continue baking. And then you end up with this:

Which, when cut open, look like this:

Need I say more?

13 oz (2 34/ cups + 1 Tbsp) all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup very firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 lb (1 3/4 cups smooth peanut butter)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and heat to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour and baking soda. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment . Beat the butter and sugars on medium until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Beat in the eggs until thoroughly combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the peanut butter and vanilla until blended about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated.

Press the dough into the bottom third of a cupcake/muffin tin (I used a regular sized tin because these miniature peanut butter cups are larger than the Reese's variety. I think a miniature cupcake pan could work with smaller peanut butter cups)

Bake for 6-8 minutes and pull from oven. Gently press the peanut butter cups into the centre of the partially baked peanut butter cookies. Cook for another 6-8 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown, but still soft.

Let these cool in the pan, and then use a couple of knives to gently "lift" them from the cupcake pan. (Um. If you turn them over on a rack to cool, the peanut butter cups will drip, drizzle or drop out. It's not a pretty sight. I learned this the hard way and lost a couple o' soldiers during the de-panning.)

If you enjoy peanut butter, you will LOVE these. They are totally decadent and bridge the gap between candy and cookie. And THAT, gentle reader, can NEVER be a bad thing! I took them to the first meeting of my new reading group, and everyone seemed to approve.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Few More Photos

Allow me to take you to the last Steveston Farmer's Market of the season which was held on the Thanksgiving weekend.

There were lots of lovely photo ops: gorgeous textures and such:

And great colours of fall:

And lovely nieces selling their wares (Andie's Artefacts):

And unexpected encounters with good friends like Doodie:

Who had a run-in with a teeny tiny dog who appeared to be quite cute on first appearance:

But turned out to have the soul of a vicious killer:

Where provincial flags dip gently into the photo frame:

Ocean treasures are offered up:

Mister Man IS a fisherman standing on a wharf

And laughter is shared with Poot:

But then we had to make this, in order to get to dinner on time!

(Oh and to give credit where credit is due, I must let you know that Mister Man took the pix of Poot and me... Not to tell tales out of school or anything, but *someone* gets a bit testy if they don't get their photo credit...)