I never thought I would have a vegetable garden in my backyard this year. It seemed like this silly thing that I would finally, finally get to when the deck and kitchen were both finished, the shed was built and the porch was stained. My dad grows enough vegetables to feed 75 or more people, so I figured I could just glom onto that and be satisfied. And hilariously (!!), right at this second I have a thriving vegetable garden, no shed or deck to really speak of, a kitchen that STILL isn’t totally finished, and we have the most unintentionally distressed-looking porch floor (oh, and my dad still brings me stuff from his garden anyway). Priorities are a funny thing that creep in when you’re not looking.
So now, even when there’s “nothing to eat” we have a hundred square feet of total edibles just getting bigger and riper by the day. It’s true that at any given moment there’s some urgent thing that needs to be fixed, tidied, cleaned, shopped for, photographed, edited etc., but we almost always make time to eat well–even if the loosest translation of that means tossing a couple kale leaves into a daily smoothie because uuuuum, vitamins? Yeah, let’s go with that. If you have some good and honest food at hand, even just a little bit, you can inspire yourself to make the time.
I think Erin from Yummy Supper understands these ideas of nourishment all too well. Just a quickie flip through her beautiful new cookbook will give you inspiration for a week’s worth of meals that glow with abundance, yes, but also with the more immediate appeal of accessibility. It’s a gluten free book, but not in a way that you would notice right away. I tend to gravitate towards the variety and colours of natural foods, and Erin’s book really celebrates this. Instead of focusing on what’s off limits, there’s page after page of gorgeous naturally gluten free foods combined with a knack for seasonal consideration. There’s pears poached in Lillet, popped amaranth with cumin and coriander, a crispy kale salad with curried chickpeas, millet crepes, parsnip chips, and black rice pudding with coconut–among so many other thoughtful dishes. Whatever your dietary inclinations, you’ll find something in this book that speaks to you.
And this stew! It’s a good one–nice and spicy with tons of vegetable goodness. I was scanning through the ingredients thinking that I had most of what was called for (fresh beans, corn, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, chilies), knowing that I would substitute a couple things based on what I had in the garden. Swiss chard instead of napa cabbage and bok choy, eggplant for the mushrooms, maybe some extra carrots and some sliced up chard stems too. I was a only a little bit worried that I would change the intended flavours slightly. But Erin condones the switch ups! It’s an all season-approachable dish that mostly relies on the flavour base of fragrant coconut oil, chilies, onions, garlic and tamari. The sharp edge of heat and little bit of bite from the vegetables makes this stew glow with vitality. It’s hard to stop eating it–just feel good food through and through. Some coconut oil-browned cashews and shallots get sprinkled on top and that textural/flavour contrast is so bang on. It’s all just right for the slowly cooling nights ’round here.
And a little add-on bonus! Lindsey, Claire, and I are working with the fine folks at Pure Green Magazine for a hashtag challenge called #PGMinseason. They have all the details on their site here, but on the PGM blog we’re sharing some recipes and our more personal ideological/health-related aspects of choosing local food. You guys know I’m all-in for anything that celebrates the seasonal eats, so it’s exciting to be a part of something that aims to bring even more inspiration and conversation around that movement. Earlier this week they posted my recipe for harissa grilled eggplant with burst tomatoes, quinoa and herb salad, which you can check out here!
vegan bali garden stew recipe
from Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper
notes: Erin’s recipe calls for chicken as well. I just went with the goodness of the veggies, but you could easily add diced tofu or chickpeas if you’d like a little extra protein in this stew. She notes a little tip in the book that I completely agree with: have all of your ingredients chopped and ready to go once you have the stove turned on. The whole thing goes pretty quick. Also, serve this with some cooked rice if you’re feelin’ it.
1/4 cup + 2 tsp coconut oil
1-2 cayenne chilies (or something similar), seeded + minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tsp tamari soy sauce
4 cups water
3 medium carrots, peeled + thinly sliced
2 medium (or 4 small!) tomatoes, diced
1 small eggplant, chopped
kernels from 2 cobs of corn (1 1/3 cups)
1 1/3 cups sliced green beans
1 cup raw cashews
4 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cups chopped swiss chard (including stems)
salt + pepper
Heat a 1/4 cup of the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chili, onion and garlic. Cook until very fragrant and onion has softened slightly, about 2 minutes.
Add the tamari and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then add the carrots. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and eggplant and cook for a minute. Add the corn and green beans and cook for another couple minutes. At this point you can turn the heat off until you’re ready to serve it because you’ll just need to bring the pot to a boil for the greens.
In a small sauté pan, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil over medium low heat. Add the raw cashews to the pan and toast them in the oil until they brown a bit on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Empty the cashews onto a small plate and give them a little sprinkle of salt if you like.
Return the small sauté pan to the heat and add the remaining teaspoon of coconut oil. Add the thinly sliced shallots to the pan and stir them around here and there until they turn deep brown and a bit crisp in some areas, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Bring the pot of stew to a boil again and add the chopped swiss chard. Cook until the greens wilt a little bot, about 1 minute. Serve the stew hot with the toasty cashews and shallots on top.
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I will say this with comfort and clarity because I know I’m not alone: it’s surprisingly easy to get overwhelmed by life on a regular basis–the wonderful parts, but also (womp womp) the more stress-inducing bits. We’re away for a bit on the east coast of Canada this week with my man’s family and all I could think about leading up to our departure was A) How much stuff I have to take care of before I get in the car with my duffel bag, snacks and camera, B) How much stuff I could be accomplishing if we weren’t going, and C)How realistic/possible it would be to get some work done while we’re ON vacation. I swear I can’t be the only person who thinks this way. In the same moment, there is a pull of necessity from the natural world calling for release, but also the thoughts of deadlines, career, and the “How will we ever get ahead of it all?” questions that shore up in the weaker moments.
Some of my plans got all messed up last week, my schedule was thrown off, there was a very scary thunderstorm, I didn’t see Mark for a few days because of the “passing ships in the night” quality of our conflicting work schedules sometimes, my dining table was a mess of recipes to be shot, food props, fibreglass door brochures, and just stuff that needed my attention. I think I ate too much sugar and drank mostly coffee. There’s still messes around every corner of our yard as we try to get it ALL together this summer (but it’s August already!). Then I dropped my phone so good that it was un-readable/jagged edged. And on and on. In the middle of one of my daily marathon list-making sessions, I texted this to Mark: “I feel like I’m paddling really hard and not getting anywhere.”
My tendency, when there’s probably too much going on and I’m asking the big life questions, is to go inward a bit and figure out why it’s all happening. I get stuck in my own head is another way to put it. It takes a while for inspiration, in the form of human interaction, something I’ve read/seen, or a moment of intentional quietude, to pull me up back into life and living. I’m a worrier and an over-thinker to the end–just how I operate. But I had a very relaxed contractor/landscaping/handyperson-type at my old house the one morning, just as the sky was darkening something fierce for another round of rain. He was giving me an estimate on a new deck and shelter structure, and we were talking about what a mess the yard had been before we lived here. The drops were puttering around and he calmly said something about being able to see past the the frustrating/messy/uncontrollable aspects of less desirable situations because he had the work/life experience to know that it all works out in the end. Pretty much exactly what I needed to hear, even if he was just talking about some outdoor livin’.
As we continue to get our bearings on this life and some of the seemingly fresh things it’s been throwing at/graciously handing to us, I think we get a bit more confident leaning into the “Everything’s going to be alright” mentality. And not in a way that leaves it all to the fates. We’re learning and grasping and nodding our heads YES because we have a clearer sightline on human capability. I still make decisions on a whim and overcommit myself 98 percent of the time, but I feel stronger in putting my head down and getting to the work in a more intelligent way than ever before. If this is maturity/getting old/full-tilt-boogie-level adulthood, sign me up.
In addition to seeing ahead and finally realizing some human potential, I’ve been coming up with cooler recipe ideas and just making better things in general. It’s amazing when thoughts from certain sometimes stress-filled life moments stream colour and inspiration into your everyday needs. Of course I didn’t invent collard wraps, but dang if I didn’t just try them for the first time recently and absolutely love them. My first exposure to the collard-as-wrap was in Sara’s book actually, and I was immediately pulled in by her emphasis on avoiding the “hippie mush” problem when fixing them up. Actually, just the expression “hippie mush” was enough to catch my interest. Anyway, this version has some highly varied textures and lots of delicious and summery bits from the tomatoes and basil. Marinated and charred tempeh, chickpea mash, a little sundried tomato flecked quinoa, maybe a balsamic drizzle here and there. It’s lots of plant-powered protein in a little leafy package. A good travelling snack for when you need a big boost if I do say so myself.
So I’m off to re-charge the batteries on that eastern shore. Catch ya next week or perhaps on Instagram in the meantime? :) Big love, all.
super powered tomato + basil collard wraps
notes: Like any decent burrito or wrap-type thing, overstuffing these will lead to failure/messes everywhere. If you’re transporting them, I would recommend securing with toothpicks before you go anywhere, just so there aren’t any surprises at your destination.
1 block of tempeh, cut into half inch strips
1 chili, sliced
4-5 sprigs of basil, divided
splash of red wine vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
salt + pepper
1/2 cup quinoa
handful of sundried tomatoes (not the oil-packed ones), small dice
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2-3 tbsp tomato sauce
8 large collard leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced (or 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes halved)
balsamic glaze/reduction (optional!)
In a shallow dish, place the tempeh pieces, sliced chili, 2-3 tablespoons of chopped basil, the red wine vinegar, sliced shallot and a good glug of olive oil. Season the mix with salt and pepper and toss to coat the tempeh. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
Combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water and a fat pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the quinoa to a boil and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Scrape quinoa into a medium mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Once cool, to the quinoa add a glug of olive oil, 2-3 tbsp chopped basil, the diced sundried tomatoes, and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
In a shallow dish, mash the chickpeas with the tomato sauce, salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. You want a mixture that kind of holds together but also a few whole chickpeas too. Set aside.
Heat a grill to high and place the marinated tempeh slices on the grates. Grill both sides until char marks appear, about 4 minutes per side.
To make the collard wraps, start by laying one collard leaf down on a cutting board so that it’s on a horizontal orientation. Lay another collard leaf on top, overlapping the stem ends considerably. You should have an almost solid rectangular-ish sheet of collard green now. It almost looks like a very chunky figure 8. Spoon some of the chickpea mash into the middle, pressing it down. Lay two tempeh slices on top of the chickpea mash. Then place some sliced tomato on top of the tempeh. Place a few slices of tomato and whole leaves of basil on top. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze if you like. Pull up the long side of the collard wrap and fold it over the filling. Bring in the short sides as if you were making a burrito. Then roll the whole thing until you’ve sealed the wrap.
Repeat this process with remaining ingredients. Secure wraps with toothpicks if necessary. Slice wraps in half to serve.
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Today’s post is another episode of “things we actually eat all the time.” I was stumped last week on what to share here and was about thisclose to throwing my hands up again when I remembered that whole overarching ethos thing about cooking seasonally with accessible ingredients/methods so that we can all be a bit healthier and happier. That’s the thing that I love and this bowl is something that we eat weekly, in one form or another. When a dish repeats and cravings/excitement are detectable, it’s time to share, no matter how simple it is. I even started a new category here for this sorta dish called “everyday eats.” I’m excited to share more of those meals that are thrown together with pantry stock and seasonal bits, but still have an overall vibe of wellness and vibrance too. Hope you can feel me on this.
We’ve been spending most of the hours outdoors, sometimes for fun and most often times working on something or other. There have been going away parties, roller coasters, funnel cakes (oy), birthdays, hangry pizza lunches after visits to the “natural regeneration” portion of the dump, big and half-dead cedar hedges ripped out with my badass mum, deck planning, smoke alarms in the middle of the night (to choruses of “FUCK, COME OOOON”), talks on creating, long walks after dinner, chats about a lot of upcoming projects (one of which will have me getting my bake on in a serious way–yesssss), tons of iced coffee, thunderstorms, and a decent handful of major career-shifting questions. Just lots of sweat, laughs and growth I guess. And we still haven’t been to the drive-in, a baseball game, Algonquin or the beach yet. Maaaan, summer though.
So when the season is full and the meals are needed in a more relaxed sort of way (but still have to be mega-nourishing), this burrito bowl works out pretty nicely. If you’re even a little bit like me, this is all pantry stuff for you: sweet potatoes, canned black beans, herbs, brown rice, spices, chilies, citrus… It’s just a little blend, boil and grill away from yummy supper on the porch/balcony/kitchen counter with a cold beer (or iced tea!) in your favourite cut-offs. Hope you’re all eating well, loving each other, and adventuring often out there. Big hugs and some fist bumps for everyday good eatin’. xoxo
simple grilled sweet potato + black bean burrito bowls with spicy cumin garlic drizzle
additional gear: 4-5 pre soaked wooden skewers
notes: The cumin garlic drizzle serves as a protective coating for the sweet potatoes and peppers as they grill, but also as a light sauce too, so just make sure you reserve enough for serving at the end. You could make these up with any and all types of of salsa, various cheeses, extra lime wedges, sour cream (dairy or non-dairy based), some fresh corn etc etc. Burritos are personal preference driven (duh that’s why they’re so awesome), so this bowl is no different.
spicy cumin garlic drizzle:
1 small jalapeño, seeded
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 2 limes + a little bit of zest
1 tbsp agave nectar/other liquid sweetener
salt + pepper
1/4 cup neutral tasting oil (I used avocado)
big splash of water
1 medium-large sweet potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup small diced red onion
big handful fresh cilantro leaves, divided
2 red bell peppers, stems/seeds removed
cooked brown rice
1 ripe avocado
In an upright blender, combine all of the ingredients for the spicy cumin garlic drizzle. Blend on high until you have a smooth, liquid-y mixture. Check for seasoning, adjust, and set aside.
Put your pot of rice on if you haven’t got any on hand. Place the cut sweet potatoes in another medium saucepan and cover them with water. Bring the sweet potatoes to a boil over medium heat and simmer until a knife just goes through when you try to prick one, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, toss the black beans with a hearty pour of the spicy cumin garlic drizzle, the diced red onions and almost all of the cilantro. Season them with salt and pepper, toss once more, and set aside.
Preheat your grill to high. Skewer the sweet potatoes onto the bamboo sticks, making sure you don’t weigh them down too heavily. Place skewers on a dinner plate along with the pieces of red bell pepper. Pour some of the spicy cumin garlic drizzle on top and lightly toss everything to coat. Grill sweet potatoes and red peppers until char marks appear and vegetables have softened slightly, about 10-12 minutes total. Remove from the grill and cut peppers into bite-sized pieces if you like.
Portion the rice into 4 bowls. Divide the black beans among the bowls. Top rice and beans with grilled sweet potatoes, red peppers and extra cilantro leaves. Pit and peel the avocado, and then dice into chunks on top of the bowls. Finish all of the bowls with extra spicy cumin garlic drizzle and some more salt and pepper. Serve warm.
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