Rhubarb Juice

rhubarb juice

I was reading a cookbook recently that had a recipe in it for rhubarb juice. The first ingredient called for? Rhubarb juice. I remember thinking “This isn’t fair! You can’t tell me how to make rhubarb juice without telling me how to make rhubarb juice!”

But I figured it out, and now I am telling you. To clear up the confusion between rhubarb juice, and the rhubarb-juice-that-you-use-to-make-rhubarb-juice, I think I will call one “rhubarb cocktail”.

So here we go. First we make our rhubarb juice, which is going to be the main ingredient in our rhubarb cocktail:

Rhubarb Juice

Cut several stocks of rhubarb into 1-inch pieces, and put in a pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and then lower to a gentle simmer for about half an hour. Strain through a sieve or a jelly bag to separate the rhubarb pulp from the juice. Discard the pulp.

Rhubarb Cocktail

Measure the rhubarb juice and add it back to the pot. For every two cups of rhubarb juice, add:

1/2 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one orange

Bring back to the boil, then remove from heat and let cool. To serve, mix to taste with ginger ale.

If you want to make this into a true cocktail, I am pretty sure that this would taste good with a shot of booze in it. Try vodka or light rum.

Garlicky Purple Potato Salad

I have always wanted to try cooking with purple potatoes. I finally got my chance!

Yesterday I stopped at a market here in Surrey called Two Ees Farm, and was amazed by the variety of local produce, organic products, and imported foods. I loaded up on everything from Canadian-grown quinoa to jars of apple stroop and rosehip jam.

But for me, the really exciting thing was finding a bin of purple potatoes with navy blue skin. I bought a bag of them and I already knew what I wanted to make with them; a multi-coloured potato salad with a creamy garlicky dressing.

purple potato salad

Garlicky Purple Potato Salad

3 purple potatoes
3 red-skin potatoes

Boil the potatoes whole in salted water until fork-tender, about 20 – 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into bite-sized pieces.

Make the dressing. Mix together:

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp of vegenaise “mayo”
1 – 2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced (I used a microplane grater which grates the garlic almost to a puree. Note: Only use the second clove of garlic if you really, really, REALLY love garlic)
1/4 tsp dried dill
1 green onion, green and white parts sliced finely
Salt and pepper to taste

Gently toss the potatoes and dressing together.

Next time I make this I plan to add more lemon juice or some olive oil to thin the dressing out more for easier mixing. However, even as thick as the dressing was, this salad was still delicious.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

A few months ago, I was looking at an old cookbook published by a church in Ontario, Canada, back in the early 1900′s. Like many books from the time, it came with a list of cooking times for assorted fruits and vegetables, including some advice that would be shocking for today’s palates (like cook spinach at a hard boil for 45 minutes).

One entry on the list struck me as particularly strange, though. It was for a food I had never heard of before: Pie plant. What an adorable name for a plant! Pie plant! Did it look like a pie? Did it grow pies? Do you make pies out of it? What kind of pies would you make from a pie plant? (Well, pie plant flavoured pies, of course).

Before having Internet, I probably would have filed the knowledge of “pie plant” somewhere in the back of my brain, and gone through life always wondering what it was, content in the knowledge that somewhere out there existed the perfect plant for making pies. But without the Internet, would I have ever found out what pie plant was? It’s hard to say, and I suspect the answer would have depended entirely on finding an elderly enough farmer at the farmer’s market…in Ontario…which is currently thousands of miles away from me.

Thank God for the Internet. Pie plant is rhubarb.

To be honest, I have never been a big rhubarb eater. I have had strawberry rhubarb pie maybe three times in my life. I think I ate raw rhubarb once years ago, and it would mostly likely have been with my friend Ashley who is a fiend for tart flavours (She would happily take that hard-boiled spinach and eat it with vinegar. I have seen her do this.) Given my sweet tooth and rhubarb’s propensity towards tartness, it’s no wonder I hadn’t become better acquainted with rhubarb. Until this weekend.

I had gone to the market in search of some green vegetables, but what caught my eye were these vibrant pink stalks of the biggest stalks of rhubarb I have ever seen. I ended up buying several which were as long as my arm.

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With these and a pint of strawberries in hand, it was time to make pie.

I should insert a quick safety note in here before I continue on to the recipe: The stalks of rhubarb are edible. The leaves are not. Don’t eat the leaves. They are so high in oxalic acid that you’d get kidney stones and be in so much pain that you’d end up cursing me for letting you know that pie plant existed in the first place. So don’t eat rhubarb leaves.

But anyways. On to the recipe.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit

Filling:

1 pint of strawberries, washed and chopped
3 stalks of rhubarb, washed and chopped (about 4 cups worth)
1 yellow apple, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

Mix the strawberries, rhubarb, apple, vanilla, and sugars in a bowl. Let this sit while you prepare the dough. The juices will start to come out of the strawberries. Before using the filling, stir in the half cup of flour.

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Dough:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup of hard vegan margarine, chilled
1/4 cup of shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut the margarine and shortening into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.

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Add in the ice water and mix only until you have a smooth, pliable dough.

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Pie:

On a floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is large enough to overlap your pie plate. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and use a sharp knife to trim away the overhang.

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Take the dough trimmings, knead them back into a single ball, and roll this into a rectangle slightly longer than the width of the pie plate. Using a ruler or the side of a cutting board as a guide, cut this dough into long narrow strips.

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Pour the filling onto the pie crust and use the back of your spoon to flatten and smooth out the filling as much as you can.

Now to make the lattice top:

Place strips of pastry on the pie in one direction, so that it looks like you have a striped crust.

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Now, fold back every other strip. Take another pastry strip and lay it across the pie, so that it is resting across the pastry strips that you haven’t folded back. Now unfold the folded pastry strips back across the pie. See how pretty and easy that is? Now keep doing this all across the pie. You have just made a beautiful lattice top.

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If you have any more dough scraps remaining, you can re-roll them and cut out decorative shapes to decorate the edges of the pie with. Use water or melted apricot jam to adhere the shapes to the pie.

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You can leave the pie unglazed or brush it with soymilk or melted apricot jam before baking. Mine is brushed with melted apricot jam.

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Place a foil-lined baking sheet in the lower rack of the oven to catch any drips, and place the pie in the middle of the oven to bake until done. Tent the pie with foil if it starts to brown on the top too much before it is cooked on the bottom. It should take 50 – 60 minutes to bake.

Allow to cool before slicing. I served mine with vanilla flavoured almond ice cream.

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Dumplings

I recently found this vintage gem of a cookbook at a thrift store:

Recipes for Young Adults published by Friesen Printers in Canada in 1977 and distributed by the B.C. Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. Incidentally, this week my mother thrifted a “Recipes for Young Homemakers” published by the Manitoba Beet Growers’ Association, and the inside of the cookbook is identical save for the introductions, and the fact that Young Homemakers has a recipe for French Dressing where Young Adults has a recipe for Coleslaw Dressing. Otherwise, I can’t find any discernible difference. Very sneaky!

My mother beat me to being the first to try a recipe from these books. I was going to veganise those weird hot dog sandwiches pictured on the lower left corner of the cover. They are called Wiener Winks, listed as an “after the game” snack. Okay, I partly just wanted to make them so that I could make a million crude jokes about WIENER WINKS. But the wiener winking will have to wait for another time, because today we had DUMPLINGS.

Dumplings – Veganised

Yield: 4 servings

1 c. all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp vegan margarine

1/3 to 1/2 cup soymilk or water

Cut fat into the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt. Add soymilk slowly and mix.Drop from a tablespoon on top of the stew. Cover closely, and cook for 10 min, without lifting the cover. Arrange with ALL THINGS SOY on a platter.

Mmmmmhm. Mom cleaned out the fridge and made a flavourful spicy vegetable stew with potato, sweet potato, carrot, celery, pepper, cumin, curry, cinnamon, and I’m not even sure what all else. It was such a delicious meal that I went back for a second bowl. The dumplings on top were excellent.

I want to make these next time by dropping them into a pot of soup made with “chicken” broth; chicken dumpling soup was a favourite of mine when I was a kid and I will be very pleased if this recipe helps me re-create it! Let me know if any of you try it.

Canupcakes

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It’s hockey night in Canada! My friend Heather came over to watch the game so I thought I would surprise her with these vegan chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They are delicious! Heather says I’m a dork for making them, but I didn’t hear any complaints when she stuffed one in her face.

Chocolate Pudding Pie

When I showed up to work the other day, my co worker whispered to me that we were having a surprise potluck the following day for our supervisor who has accepted a position at another location. She asked if I would sign the greeting card, and could I please bring something to the potluck?

Of course I could! With this recipe tucked up my sleeve I can always whip up a pie at a moment’s notice.

Chocolate pie

Chocolate Pudding Pie

From VegWeb.com, where it is known as Silken Chocolate Tofu Pie. But I like this name better. I toasted a handful of sliced almonds to use as the topping.

1 (12 ounce) bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1 (12 ounce) block silken firm tofu
1/4 cup strongly brewed black coffee
1-2 tablespoons vanilla flavoring
1 graham cracker pie crust
fresh raspberries, to garnish, optional

Directions:

1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or on stovetop. Blend together tofu, chocolate chips, coffee, and vanilla.

2. Pour into graham cracker crust and chill 1-2 hours in the freezer, or 4 or more hours in the refrigerator.

3. Garnish with fresh raspberries when serving.

Serves: 8, Preparation time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling

Chocolatey Puffed Wheat Squares

I think many people are probably familiar with rice crispy squares, but I don’t know how many people are familiar with it’s chewy and indulgent cousin, the puffed wheat square.

Puffed wheat squares are a very Canadian treat. They are most popular in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, although they occasionally appear in other parts of Canada as well. I’m not sure when they became part of Canadian cuisine; they don’t appear in my tattered old Five Roses cookbook from the 1930s, but by 1981 they appear in 150 Delicious Squares by Jean Pare of the Company’s Coming books. If anyone has found an earlier reference to them in a cookbook, can you please tell me which book it is in?

To make these, you’ll need puffed wheat.

Just look at how wholesome puffed wheat is. This might be the healthiest cereal on the market. And like all healthy things, they are simply crying to be drenched in chocolate, so let’s get on that, eh?

To make my squares, I referred to the blog Mennonite Girls Can Cook. They tripled the recipe to serve to a bunch of kids. Meanwhile, I halved the recipe for just my partner and I. It’s a very easy recipe to do that to. Here is my halved version:

Puffed Wheat Squares

1/4 cup of hard vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup of dark corn syrup
1/2 cup of white sugar
2 tbsp of brown sugar
3 heaping tsp of cocoa powder
1 tsp of vanilla
5 cups of puffed wheat

Prepare an 8 x 8 inch pan by greasing it. For easy removal, you can line the pan with parchment or waxed paper before greasing.

Combine the margarine, corn syrup, sugars, and cocoa in a large heavy pot. Stir occasionally. Bring to a full boil. This is important! It will start to bubble a bit as it approaches the boiling point, but don’t make the mistake of taking it off too soon. You want a full rolling boil. Let it boil for a few seconds, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour over the puffed wheat, mix well, and press into the pan. The Mennonite Girls blog suggests using wet hands to press the cereal in; I used greased hands with no problem. Just be sure to press firmly so that the bars are as condensed as you can get them, that way they won’t fall apart when you go to slice them.

Allow to harden at room temperature before slicing into squares. They’ll be easiest to cut the next day, but if you simply can’t help yourself and cut them before they’re set, you can use your hands to smoosh them back into a square shape. Don’t ask me how I know this ;)

Enjoy!

Oliver’s Roasted Butternut Curry

Several of my friends and I have this game we sometimes play called “What should I make for dinner?”

Actually, it’s less of a game and more of a desperate plea for help, but regardless. Today I found myself coming to my friend Oliver with that question when I discovered that I was out of the ingredients I wanted to use to make soup, and was otherwise at a loss as to what to do with a butternut squash. “Why don’t you roast it with some potatos and make a coconut curry sauce with lots of cumin?” was Oliver’s brilliant reply. In just over an hour I was ladelling up a bowl of a deliciously fragrant curry with tender juicy vegetables nestled up to creamy chunks of roasted squash. I was in heaven.

And so, Oliver, I name this recipe for you. I was going to call it Oliver’s Sexy Squash but I wasn’t sure if that would affect my blog’s family-friendly status :)

Oliver's squash curry

Oliver’s Roasted Butternut Curry

1 butternut squash
2 red skin potatos
Peanut oil
4 cloves garlic
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
1/4 cup onion
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 dash of turmeric
1 small can (160 ml) coconut milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/3 cup broccoli
1/3 cup mushrooms

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle some peanut oil onto the tinfoil.

Peel the butternut squash, cut it in half, and scoop out the seeds and guts. Discard them, or rinse and save the seeds for another use. Chop the squash into pieces about an inch or two square. Peel the potatos and chop those into pieces about the same size as the squash.

Place the squash and potatos on the baking sheet and stir gently, drizzling more peanut oil on top if necessary. Sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper.

Put the pan in the oven and let the squash and potatos roast until tender and lightly browned. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir them every 15 – 20 minutes so as not to burn them.

While the squash and potatos are roasting, mince the garlic and ginger and put into a frying pan or wok with another drizzle of peanut oil. Slice the onion and add this to the pan as well. While the aromatics are heating up, start adding spices; mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric. Fry gently until the aromatics are starting to soften and the seeds are starting to pop. Add the coconut milk and about 50 ml of water. Turn the heat up and add the broccoli, chopped, and the mushrooms (whole if small or halved if a little larger).

When the coconut milk starts to bubble, add the curry powder, a dash each of salt, pepper, and cumin powder, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. You can turn the heat down if it starts to thicken too quickly.

When the roasted vegetables are tender, remove them from the oven and add them to the curry. Cook the curry until the sauce has thickened and the broccoli is tender/firm.

Enjoy with rice or flatbread.

Compost Cookies

I’m not sure if this happens to anyone else, but every once in awhile I will come across a recipe that seems so unusual that I just have to try it. This occasional urge has been the impetus for some very different foods occasionally showing up in my kitchen; a “turkey” made out of carefully moulded tofu, a cake with tomato soup as the secret ingredient. So when I saw these cookies, I knew I had to try them.

They look normal enough, right?

Compost cookies

The secret ingredients: Potato chips, pretzels, and coffee.

I know, right?

These are Compost Cookies, an unusual cookie which first appeared at the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City, and which was adapted and veganised by the author of the Runner’s Kitchen blog.

Incidently, and hilariously, I just noticed that I photographed my cookies on the exact same type of plate as the Runner’s Kitchen did. I photographed mine while I was staying at my brother’s home in Ontario and I’m not entirely sure if he inherited those plates from our grandmother or from our neighbour, but I have a theory that everyone in North America gets assigned a set of those plates once they reach a certain age.

Compost cookies

I’ve adapted the recipe from RK’s adaptation, so I have no idea if it’s anything at all like the Momofuku cookie at this point. But it is delicious. I’ve made it twice, once in a thin crunchy style and once in a soft chewy style. Here’s how it’s done.

Vegan Compost Cookies

1/2 cup hard margarine, such as Earth Balance (for chewy cookies)

OR 1/4 cup shortening and 1/4 cup soft spreadable margarine, such as Becel Vegan (for crunchy cookies)

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 Tbs ground flax seeds
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 BIG handful of chips, roughly crushed
2 oz. pretzels, roughly crushed
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Can double this amount if desired)

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

With a mixer, cream together the margarine, sugar, and instant coffee powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and the water until smooth, and add the vanilla extract. Fold the flax mixture into the margarine & sugar.

In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (oats through chocolate chips). Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. If the batter isn’t holding together well, try chilling the batter for about 20 minutes

Scoop rounded Tablespoons of batter on to the cookie sheet and bake for about 10-13 minutes or until golden brown. (Note: I moulded my cookies by hand, using wet hands to keep the dough from sticking).

The cookies made with becel and shortening will spread so make sure they have plenty of spreading room or they will all join together. The cookies made with earth balance will more or less hold their shape, so make sure they are flat enough before you put them in the oven.

Cool on the baking sheet for a minute or so and then transfer to a wire cooling rack

My brother’s dog Katie was checking out the cookies as I tried to take photos:

K-dawg checking out the cookies

She’s really a pretty dog but it’s hard to tell from the photo! Here she is playing with a Halloween gourd she swiped off the front porch.

Katie and her gourd

Croatian Potato Salad for Food Not Bombs

Yep, this is another “Kay goes to Food Not Bombs at Occupy Vancouver” post. After all, it takes more than a pile of sandwiches to feed a crowd of hungry protestors.

I’ve been down to the V.A.G. three times now to take photographs and to help feed people. One of the volunteers I spoke to on the food committee estimated that about 2000 meals a day are being served out of the food tent. That’s amazing! Some of the food is made on site, but much of the food is also being made in private kitchens as well as spaces lent to us by local businesses and churches. The on-site kitchen, meanwhile, continues to grow and improve; when I went this morning, it had mysteriously sprouted a kitchen sink, a counter top, and what appears to be an ice box. This in addition to the pantry and kitchen equipment. And when I inquired about whether one person oversaw the construction of the community kitchen, the answer I received was amazing; everything just came together. Many individuals saw ways they could help and brought or built what they could.

And of course, speaking of people bringing what they can, there have been many amazing food donations; people dropping off pots of soup and chili, platters of noodles, trays of cornbread, muffins, plates of brownies, bags of cookies, and so much fresh produce! I estimate that as of this morning they had at least my weight in broccoli – by now though it has probably mostly been made into stir fries and consumed.

Here is the potato salad that I brought the other day:

potato salad

I call it Croatian-style potato salad because my family is Croatian and we’ve always made our potato salad with herbs and a vinaigrette instead of mayo. I don’t typically measure anything when I make it; I tend to just eyeball the amounts and taste it to see if it’s good (and of course it’s always better the next day). So for this Food Not Bombs post, I’ll give you the recipe as a general guideline (which I think fits nicely with the anarchic sort of structure of Food Not Bombs). In the future I will try to quantify amounts for you so I can give a proper recipe!

Croatian-style Potato Salad for Food Not Bombs

Potatos. Lots and lots of potatos.
Vinegar (apple cider vinegar is tastiest but red wine vinegar and ordinary white vinegar also work. If you use balsamic, use less vinegar!)
Onion
Dill
Parsley
Salt
Pepper
Paprika

Wash the potatos and peel them if they have ruddy skin. If they have smooth skin, you can peel them or not depending on your preference.

Cut the potatos into pieces about 1 inch square, and boil them in salted water until tender. Drain thoroughly.

In a bowl or measuring cup, mix one part vinegar to 2 parts oil. Whisk until emulsified. Pour over the potatos.

Take either a bunch (5 or 6) of green onions and chop them, or one slice of sweet onion and mince it. Scatter the onions over the potatos. Take a handful each of parsley and dill, mince those, and scatter those on the potatos as well. Finally, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika. Give it a stir, give it a taste, add more seasoning if it needs it, and there ya go! Easy and delicious potato salad. You can also add boiled green beans to this if you want.

Try not to stir it too much or the potatos will break down a lot! You can sprinkle a little sugar on it if you like your vinaigrette a little sweet, but with the apple cider vinegar I don’t think it needs it. Enjoy!

Here is another photo from the demonstration. There are a lot of people camping out!

If you have an Occupy demonstration happening near you and want to help out somehow, this is a message that is circulating on facebook:

THE TEMPERATURE IS DROPPING! SPUDS FOR BUDS: LOVE APPEAL. Please stick 20 baked potatoes wrapped in foil in the oven for an hour and a half at 350F before you leave. Drop them off at the food tent. THEY MAKE EXCELLENT HAND AND POCKET WARMERS as well as providing much needed nourishment – If you don’t have time to cook them, drop them off raw. If you live locally come pick up the raw ones and bake them. WE ARE FEEDING THE HOMELESS TOO!!!! PLEASE SHARE THIS MESSAGE WITH OTHER OCCUPY PAGES!..