mmmMMMmmm…bagel melts. Pretty sure no better breakfast exists in the world. Someone once asked me what my favourite sandwich is and I couldn’t answer but come to think of it the bagel melt must be it. So it’s not really a really real sandwich. All good by me. It’s close enough in my books and consists of three loves of mine; breads, fresh vegies and, of course, cheese. This one’s made with an everything bagel, roma tomatoes, dill, black pepper and mild but wonderfully melty marble cheese but they can be made with just about every flavour combination. Try cinnamon raisin bagels with apple slices and mozzarella or provolone. Or sesame bagels with roasted eggplant, red pepper slices and goat cheese. One would have to try very hard to do any wrong with these…you can even nuke ‘em! That said, I strongly suggest the oven method – just slip them onto a broiling pan (I slipped mine onto the pizza stone currently occupying the oven) then into a 450 degree oven. Once in turn on the broiler and leave the oven door open a smidge, not to keep the broiler for turning off (the bagels aren’t likely to be in there for that long) but because the cheese will go golden brown (which is when you want to take it out) very quickly and having the door open tends to make one acutely aware of the fact that there’s stuff going on in there they need to not forget.
black bean & tomato soup May 13, 2008
This is probably the easiest meal we put together in our kitchen on a fairly regular basis. Its roots are found in the CPHA‘s publication, The Basic Shelf Cookbook, which is something I feel every household should have a copy of. I don’t actually own the book right now (and before you call me a hypocrite you should know that I’ve owned the book and given it away at least 7 times.) The contents are brilliant on a fundamental level: simple meals comprised largely of ingredients with long shelf lives which focus on maintaining nutritional integrity. It can be ordered here for CDN $7.50.
My recipe differs from the original by a couple of steps and ingredients but still maintains the inherent simplicity while stepping up the flavour quotient a couple of notches. Oh, and it’s entirely vegan if you omit the cheese or replace it with a soy based cheese.
What you need:
1tbsp olive oil
1 tsp. coriander, ground
1 tsp. cumin, ground
1 medium sized cooking onion, finely chopped (vidalias and reds are my favourites for this soup)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cans of diced tomatoes (or jars if you do your own)
1 can of black beans (or soak the dried kind if you want to)
1 can of sweet or baby corn (or use leftovers if you’ve got ‘em)
2 cups of vegetable broth (or dissolve 2 cubes/packets of bouillon-esque stuff in your 2 cups of boiling water)
1 tbsp dried or 1/4 cup fresh oregano
1 tbsp dried or 1/4 cup fresh basil
A pretty, fresh herb and some cheese for garnish (I’ve got cilantro and cheddar in the pic above but parsley &/or basil are great alternatives to the cilantro if you don’t have any on hand.
Toast the spices in a large pot over medium-high heat until fragrant. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, sweat the onions and garlic in it for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add the tomatoes, corn, beans & stock. Up the heat again to medium-high and keep it there, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a low boil. Stir in the herbs. Move to large bowls and garnish.
umamification of the utility bird May 6, 2008
I know – ‘umamification’ is totally a made up word but, as always, I feel I’ve a firm enough grasp on the English language to indulge myself in bastardizing it here and there. Plus I figure if you can get past that, dear readers, you’re probably at least a little masochistic and look forward to being inflicted with the soap-boxing to come.
The second and third sections of The Omnivore’s Dilemma have done very little to quell the fears about the organic food industry I cited in my first post about the book, though I’m not left with the feeling that all hope is lost, either. Like Pollan, I want my organic food dollars to go to the pastoral ideal of the fertile, self-sufficient, organic farm I hold in my imagination, one like the farm my maternal grandparents have worked for an eternity with chickens running amongst the raspberry bushes, happy pigs slumbering in shade of a shed, cows blocking highway traffic so they can make their trek from one grassy range to another. A farm which, for all intents and purposes, would not qualify for the ‘organic’ label, but follows a small-scale, animal-lead production methodology which allows pigs to be pigs and chickens to be chickens and beef to be beef…and that’s probably the message which resonates most profoundly about this section of the book; recognizing the term ‘organic’ as part of the industrial food chain’s rhetoric, contradictory outside of that context and then being called to either re-appropriate it or drop it altogether…which certainly appeals to my quasi-Marxist sensibilities and my desire for passive resistance through stepping around the industrial food machine, but gives me butterflies in practice as it promises to be a fairly large commitment. I’ll actually have to talk to people, question their practices, let them know when they don’t meet my expectations, let them know what my expectations are…become part of the negotiation and actually seek out chickenier chickens and beefier bovines.
Alright, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic. I already do a lot of that stuff; I’m hardly a label-dependent consumer, and I’ve never really fully developed an apathy bone, but remember my corn-fed cow freak-out from my first post? There’s obviously some room for improvement. It’s understood this section of the book is very much about gaining a more intimate understanding of our food’s life cycle, an appreciation for the alchemy of pastoral farming and setting standards for a food chain which emphasises quality over quantity. This really set the little businessy portion of my brain to ticking; it’s not enough for me to rest on the laurels of ‘buying right.’ If I want that ideal pastoral farm to be the producer of my food stuffs then I need to take a vested interest in its health and welfare, go out of my way to invest in it and promote it, and ultimately to make it part of the business that is me because the cost-benefit analysis of the alternative already looks grim and is terrifying when plugged into a spreadsheet. Now I’m wondering about all of the ways one might adopt a farm and am committed to stretching my political muscles a little further.
All that said, I’m really excited for the next section. It’s all about foods from the forest which is a topic near and dear to my little hunter’s daughter heart.