“Just go with it!” has never been an expression that I’ve enjoyed hearing. It’s most definitely in my top 10-phrases-I-don’t-wanna-be-told-right-now list. I had a very specific plan for this pre-Valentine’s day post. The recipe was going to be delicious + wholesome (duh), but also adorably quaint in a not-too-try-hard sort of way. I ordered a crucial ingredient from Amazon. To avoid shipping costs I had the item sent to my man’s American postal box just a short drive away. Then there was a snow storm, which I’m sure a lot of you became very familiar with. I couldn’t get to there, that place with the thing that I needed (actually!). I had to toss my 110% laid out plan and… go with it. Bleh.
I had the loose idea for this winter vegetable stack thingy in my mind, so I went to work on it instead. And by “went to work on it” I mean: I raged. Like hard. I still hadn’t accepted that my tiny plans for my tiny website on the huge internet on this gigantic earth had gone awry. I slapped it all together, made a huge mess, enjoyed eating it in a hurried way, but then started wondering if this was the kind of thing that only I could enjoy (just adding to my ridiculous rage-pile, you know). Sometimes when Mark and I are thinking about going out to eat somewhere and he asks me what I feel like, I put my hands up and huff out “I just want a plate of vegetables!” (likely cranky from way too much sugar at that point). He’s usually good at sorting a tangible plan out of my ambiguous wishes for fibre and vitamins, making me realize that I’m being a huge pain, and eventually forging a way ahead. It takes two to make the meal-time satiation thing go right sometimes.
So if you’re like me and you enjoy just a bunch of vegetables for dinner/any meal, this could definitely be your thing. It’s pretty easy in a make-ahead sense too. Roast the veggie slices, make the lentils, blend the dressing, keep everything warm until you’re ready to serve, build, drizzle, garnish, voila! Fancy healthy-happy dinner time for you and the total babe in your life. To go along with your amorous or perhaps self-love motivated cooking adventures (the second one is more important), my friend Michelle made TWO music mixes for you to enjoy, one highlighting the glow-y, lightbulb-level-warm heart fullness of love, the other speaking more to some straight-up heartbreak. Click the picture at the bottom of the post for the two separate downloads!
All my kisses, hugs, songs + plates of vegetables,
lemon rosemary winter vegetable stacks w/ lentils + creamy horseradish vinaigrette
notes: Do remember to cover the beets for two thirds of the cooking process. I’ve had beets shrivel up so horribly because I forgot to cover them while roasting. You can also make all of these components ahead of time and just re-warm them for serving, making meal time a little quicker and less harried.
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed + chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 small celery root, peeled
1 fat sweet potato, peeled
1 large beet, peeled
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed
2 tsp grapeseed oil
1 shallot, diced fine
1/2 cup lentils (I used a mix of French + brown), rinsed
1 cup filtered water + extra
salt to taste
horseradish + maple vinaigrette:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
splash of filtered water
1 tsp dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp maple syrup
horseradish to taste (I used 2 heaped tsp of fresh grated horseradish root)
salt + pepper
heavy 1/3 cup grapeseed or olive oil
very roughly chopped parsley (I keep it rough because I like it as a separate, leafy kind of component-not just a garnish kinda thing)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 medium-large baking sheets with parchment + 1 extra, smaller baking sheet. Set aside.
Combine the rosemary, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Slice the celery root + sweet potato about an inch thick across. You want to cut them so that you get a large cross section for stacking. Cut one little portion off of the bottom of each vegetable so that you have a flat and steady surface for the vegetable to rest on the cutting board. Proceed to make slices from there. Lay the celery root + sweet potato slices on one of the medium-large baking sheets. Brush both sides of all vegetables with the rosemary and lemon oil, season with salt and pepper, and slide baking sheet into the oven. These should take about 35-40 minutes to brown up and soften. Remove and set aside.
Slice the beets about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices on the smaller sheet. Brush with the lemon, rosemary and oil mixture, season with salt and pepper. Cover baking sheet with foil and place in the oven. Slide baking sheet into the oven. Roast for 20 minutes covered. Remove the foil and roast for another 10-15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Slice the cauliflower into 1 inch thick cross sections with the core intact. Lay the slices on the last baking sheet and brush with the rosemary + lemon oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper and slide into the oven. The cauliflower should take about 20-25 minutes, so make sure you prep this one last. Remove and set aside.
While the vegetables are roasting, start the lentils. Heat the 2 tsp grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the diced shallots. Stir them around until they become translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rinsed lentils to the pan and stir them around in the oil and shallots. Add the water to the pan. bring lentils to a very faint simmer, like just a couple bubbles coming to the surface here and there. Cook until the lentils are soft with a tiny bit of bite intact, topping up the pot with more water as necessary, about 25-30 minutes. Season lentils with salt and stir in a glug of olive oil to keep the lentils individual.
Make the vinaigrette: Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and blend on medium-high until mixture is creamy and incorporated. Check for seasoning, adjust to your liking and set aside. I tend to like vinaigrettes on the more acidic side, so you may wish to add more oil.
To serve, divide the warm lentils among 2 dinner plates, pressing down on them with the back of a spoon to make a flat surface. Stack the roasted vegetables on top of the flattened lentils. Drizzle the whole thing with horseradish vinaigrette. Garnish with olives and chopped parsley. Serve warm.
Click the picture below for mixes!
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Before I tell you about these cozy vegan scones (based on my favourite spelt scone recipe), all flecked with ground espresso and shards of dark chocolate, I want to talk about small changes. Oh, and big, unexpected outcomes. Simple and serious pleasures that result from small and mindful movements.
Up until a month ago, this was a typical morning for me: dog busts through the door, jumps on the bed, starts relentlessly licking my face and whimpering excitedly. It’s cute, but I scrunch my face up and tell her to seriously quit it. Feeling super groggy and on the edge of barely-rested, I reluctantly get out of my warm bed. The floor is harshly cold. The super regimented movements of coffee production come next. A firm “nah” to a tall glass of water to hydrate my probably parched body–clambering for a giant cup of caffeine is at the top of my list. IT IS the list. And I live and die by the list. Once a piping hot sixteen ounces of dark roast are at my fingertips, I’ll watch the news or putter about on the computer, doing absolutely nothing in particular for way too long. Non-productivity reigns, still groggy/miserable, bound by caffeine’s chains, no breakfast to speak of quite yet… Ready to face the day? Ah, I guess I could rig something up…
I took coffee out of the equation and my world basically turned upside down.
Pup still comes crashing in all excited (and I couldn’t be happier about that), but now I feel seriously rested, like to the core. I remember to put on wooly socks. I have a bit of an early-morning-super-glow-y stride into the kitchen and get the tea kettle working. The first cup is always herbal, something with lavender or chamomile to keep the blissed-out-calm-upon-waking thing going. I get to look at the winter scenes out the kitchen window while I wait for the bubbles. Then I read a book (this one currently) and, for lack of a better descriptive phrase, I chill the most. Next, I move to some earl or lady grey, all filled out with some warm, vanilla scented almond or cashew milk, I start to get ready for the day ahead, actually eat a balanced breakfast, think about the many other delicious cups of tea I’ll probably consume… you get the idea. Different beverage = better life.
I still try to have one really good coffee on a day off–it’s one of my favourite things to do with my man, actually. And I’m not saying that cutting down coffee consumption is for everyone or that it will just solve your life’s problems. It very simply worked for me within the context that I needed it to. I knew that my morning routine wasn’t contributing anything actually good to my existence overall. Initially, I just hated feeling weakened by one, small habit; that I needed coffee to be somewhat agreeable towards other beings in the am. It was an issue of control, no doubt. I changed that one small thing and life kind of spilled and tumbled forward to a more abundant daily disposition. Stillness is more easily arrived at and I’m not a completely terrible person in the early hours anymore. Many wins.
Since tea is more my pace these days, I thought I’d make you something wholesome, but indulgent, to go with a calming brew. I’ve made this spelt scone recipe many times, always changing up the add-ins and aromatics based on the season and my own cravings. I used to love one in particular from a local bakery with ground espresso and big, dark chocolate pieces. I decided that a homemade version was needed, a coffee flecked indulgence that plays nice with tea. I had a dark bar of chocolate infused with espresso in my pantry that had to be used in this one glorious purpose. I thinned out my basic coconut cream recipe for a nice, fatty and sweet dollop of goodness to compliment the hearty structure and strong flavour of the scone. A dab of sour-sweet raspberry jam finishes this out nicely. Luxe breakfast or sweet snack, this part is up to you.
vegan dark chocolate + espresso spelt scones
Lightly adapted from the Babycakes NYC Cookbook
serves: makes 6-8
notes: I use a combination of whole and light spelt flour, but I’ve also made it with 100% of one or the other and it worked out great.
1 cup whole spelt flour
1 cup light spelt flour
1/2 tbsp ground espresso or coffee
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup melted coconut oil + extra for brushing
1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup, brown rice syrup etc)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup hot water
50 grams of dark chocolate (this was 1/2 a standard bar for me), roughly chopped
slightly thinned out coconut cream (recipe here)
jam of choice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the whole and light spelt flour, ground espresso, sea salt, and baking powder. Stir to combine. To the flour mixture, add the melted coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract. Stir until a very crumbly/dry batter forms. Add the hot water to the mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped dark chocolate until evenly mixed throughout the batter.
Grease a 1/3 cup measuring cup and fill it with portions of the dough. Drop the portions onto the parchment lined sheet, giving each an inch or so of space. Brush the tops with melted coconut oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-14 minutes, flipping the sheet around at the halfway mark. Allow scones to cool slightly before serving with coconut cream and jam.
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I decided that I wanted this year to be challenging and adventurous. Those are the only concepts/freeform goals that I’m taping up in the most visible spot of my mind for the time. Nothing quantifiable. Just things to work on and places to go–these goals can be rather expansive once you lay into them, which could explain why I’m telling you about my year two thousand and thirteen (wowzer, I know) goals on January 30th. Late to the party again, but totally fine with it this time. The extra consideration and space offered substance to those airy ideals.
Mark and I planned our first adventure of the year two days ago (just a little road trip–comin’ for you, America) and I started a bit of a challenge exactly yesterday. It’s a small and big undertaking at the same time. Up until a couple years ago, I ate strictly vegan foods. I gave up that way of living rather slowly when I moved away from the city, still maintaining a mostly plant-based diet, sure, but allowing for a bit more flexibility. Towards the end, I had qualms about the lifestyle, wondering if it was strictly a choice for the privileged. Why shouldn’t I be grateful for any form of wholesome food that came my way, animal-sourced or not? How a vegan diet, or any way of eating, aligns with or directly contradicts the ways of accessibility is varied across time, place and the community of people that surround.
I will say that eschewing animal-based products did bring an overall lightness in everyday being to my own life. My energy was even and good, perfect stillness in sleep, a freed mind in certain heady ways, lots of vegetables–undeniably good living on the whole. Slipping into some decidedly omni ways has more often than not felt like a denial of a truer nature to me. Rules and labels are not a part of my world and I certainly don’t conceive of anything spanning eternity, but a certain recognition has welled up within. I always do what feels right, based in thought or bodily intuition. In this particular moment, going back to that lightness is what I want most. There is that twinge of fear–of deprivation and judgment, but fear becomes a nonentity when you decide to take on exactly what you want with purpose.
And in the vein of intention and purpose, I made you these pot pies. I wanted to offer up something of this nature for a while, trying them with biscuit-y toppings and the like. This one is easily the best version so far. I basically filled out the mushrooms with all of the dark and more potent ingredients I had that would work together. There’s the mushrooms, all cooked down to a messy and unctuous jumble, leeks, shallots, garlic, thyme, stout, tamari, balsamic vinegar and bits of olives for a fruity-salty hit. The sweet potatoes get just the right amount of crispness from a visit in the oven and help to sop up the goodness below. It’s very hearty, peak-winter fare to see us through it all.
mushroom + stout pot pies with sweet potato crusts
serves: 4-6 (depending on how hearty you want the serving to be, what else you’re eating etc.)
notes: I think it’s important to use a stout that you would normally drink on its own for this. If you don’t like it in the glass, the taste of it reduced down will not appeal to you either. Feel free to use a mix of red wine and vegetable stock in place of the stout if you like (like 1/2 cup red wine + 3/4 cup vegetable stock). I would skip the balsamic vinegar or drastically reduce the amount to a tiny splash if you go the red wine route though. There should be enough acidity from the reduction of the wine.
3 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil + extra for greasing, divided
2 shallots, fine dice
1 leek (white part only), chopped
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed + extra for garnish
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 lbs mixed mushrooms (I used cremini, portobello + shiitake), trimmed and sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 tbsp spelt OR wholewheat flour (or GF flour/flour blend of choice–I’ve read that sorghum flour is great for thickening sauces)
1 cup stout or other dark, heavy beer
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
5 sprigs of parsley, leaves removed + chopped
1-2 small sweet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 4-6 ramekins with grapeseed oil and set on a baking sheet.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the shallots. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until translucent. Add the leeks and all but a 1/2 tsp of the thyme to the pot and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste to the pot. Saute until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pot all at once. Cook mushrooms until tender and glistening, about 8-10 minutes, stirring often and adding a bit of liquid or extra oil if necessary. Sprinkle the flour over top of the mushrooms. Stir and cook out the raw flavour of the flour for about a minute.
Pour the stout into the pot, scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until liquid is reduced slightly. Remove from the heat. Stir in the olives and chopped parsley. Season the mixture to taste.
Divide the mushroom mixture among 4-6 ramekins. Layer the sweet potato slices on top, overlapping the circles as you go. There should be 2 solid layers of sweet potatoes on top of the mushrooms. Brush the top of the sweet potato slices with the remaining oil, season the slices with salt, pepper and remaining chopped thyme. Bake pot pies for 30-35 minutes, or until mushroom mixture is bubbling and the sweet potatoes are browned and lightly crispy on the edges. Serve hot.
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