Sunday, November 26, 2006

Three Sister Casserole

I made this dish tonight for the family. It is a delicious, hearty casserole that I intend on making at Christmas time for the extended family gathering. (Note: I used corn grits which are grainier than the usual grocery store cornmeal. Next time I make this recipe I plan to use cornmeal and will add a post-script to this to let you know how the two results differed.)

Polenta Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 lb squash (butternut) peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with chillies
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed.
1. To make polenta topping: Whisk together cornmeal, chili powder, salt and 4 1/2 cups water. In double boiler, over barely simmering water, cook for 40 minutes or until polenta is thick and stiff, stirring 3 or 4 times. Remove from heat.
2. To make filling: Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Heat 2 T oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 7 minutes, or until softened, stirring often. Add bell pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often.
3. Stir in squash, tomatoes, garlic, coriander and cumin. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup water and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, 10 to 15 minutes, or until squash is tender. Stir in beans and corn and cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
4. Coat 8x11 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 2 cups polenta over bottom of prepared dish. Spoon squash mixture over polenta. Smooth remaining polenta (about 2 1/2 cups) over top.
5. Score casserole into 6 squares with knife. Brush top with remaining 1 T oil. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through and top is lightly browned.

Source: Vegetarian Times, Nov/Dec 2006 issue

Maple Syrup Salad Dressing

Susan's Maple Syrup Dressing:

Whisk together 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 T Dijon mustard and 2/3 cup olive oil.

Source: Susan Lind (co-worker @ Rotalec Inc.)

Tofu Broccoli Quiche


  • 1 9in unbaked pie crust
  • 1 lb broccoli, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb firm tofu, drained
  • 1/2 c soy milk
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 2 T grated Parmesan or vegan cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake pie crust in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.
  • Place broccoli in a steamers over 1 inch of boiling water and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2-6 minutes. Drain.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until golden. Stir in the cooked broccoli and heat through.
  • In a blender combine tofu, soy milk, mustard, salt, nutmeg, ground red pepper, black pepper, parsley and cheese; process until smooth. In a large bowl combine tofu mixture and broccoli mixture. Pour into pie crust.
  • Bake in preheated over for 35 to 40 minutes or until quiche is set. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting.
Source: Thich nu Tinh Quang / BLUE HERON ZEN CENTRE

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Journey so far...

This past summer, my husband and I bought a share in a local organic farm for the purpose of buying fresh produce. The owners were also raising chickens and beef for those who wished to buy organic meat.
For approximately 18 weeks I would stop by after work and pick up our share. Each Tuesday around 5 o'clock, I would pull into the lane way of their farm, and slowly make my way up toward the barnyard at the back of this lovely old homestead. I enjoyed driving slowly watching the chickens flutter out of my way and then pull into my parking space. Often there were children about, with their ponies, or retrieving young animals who had escaped their pens. It seemed idyllic to me, a really healthy place to raise a family. These children would know where their food came from, both vegetables and meat. And for this reason, I respected these people as farmers and parents.
While I choose to try to follow as best I can, a vegan diet, I am quite conscious that this is my choice only.
For a while after I had made the transition from vegetarian to vegan, my attitude and mind were very judgemental and closed. I was angry about the cruelty inherent in factory-farming practice and was angry with the people around me who continued to eat meat, all the while listening to me rant and rave about the injustices in our meat-eating culture and yet not feeling the least bit compelled to make the same changes I was making. How could they be so insensitive? Why couldn't they see what I was seeing?
Well, as it was pointed out to me very gently by some friends, being close-minded and judgemental really just locked me in to my own little world. Of course, I did not want to be in that constant state of hopeless, depression, feeling that the problem was overwhelming and what could I, one little person, possibly do to change things.
Fortunately, my mood and attitude continued to evolve. I am still committed strongly to my decision to choose a vegan diet and at the same time, I accept that people around me, even my own family (shockingly!!) still want to eat meat!
This summer, when I watched the chickens, wondering about just "being" chickens, I thought "they don't know what awaits them; they are going to end up on some one's plate".
But then it dawned on me: come to think of it, I don't know what awaits me either!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Apple Spice Ring

From "The New Laurel's Kitchen" cookbook:
A moist, dense, spice cake. Excellent at this time of the year!

  • 2.1/2 cups grated apple (peeled & cored first)
  • 2 cups raisins (I used golden and sultana)
  • 1.1/2 cups boiling water
  • 3 T oil
  • 1 cup + 2 T honey
  • 1.1.2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1.1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups whole what pastry flour
  • 1.1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Preheat over to 350 deg F. Pour boiling water over apples and raisins. Top with oil and let stand for 10 minutes. Add honey & spices (including salt), then allow to cool.
Sift together the dry ingredients and add nuts. Combine with other ingredients. Pour into well-greased tube pan (or 8"x8" pan or two 4"x8" loaf pans). Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Stores well in refrigerator up to one week.

Vegan Food Guide - Daily Plan for Healthy Eating

  • GRAINS 6-11 servings
  • FRUIT 2 or more servings
  • VEGETABLES 3 or more servings
  • BEANS & BEAN ALTERNATIVES 2-3 servings
  • OTHER ESSENTIALS Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D

Friday, November 17, 2006


"With every passing day, it seems to be more obvious: the mentality that underlies our culture's socio-economic system is destroying the biodiversity, climatic stability, and ecological integrity of our earth, poisoning human health and damaging communities and relationships. This underlying mentality is mandated and continually reinforced by our culture's daily meals, in which we're taught as children to disconnect from animals and the suffering we cause them, and see them as mere commodities."

Will Tuttle, PhD
VegNews, December 2006: pg 80 "Ancient Vegan Wisdom"

Easy Festive Bake

  • 1 large block tofu (300 g) OR 1 (10.1/2 oz) pkg. firm silken tofu
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, cashews)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 4 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 packet dried onion soup mix (1.5 oz) **
  • 1.1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms or 2 cans mushrooms drained
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp each oregano, ground cumin, sage, black pepper
  • 1.1/2 cups bread crumbs

In a blender (or food processor) blend until smooth tofu, nuts, cornstarch, soy sauce and onion soup mix (**I substitute McCormick's all vegetable bouillon cubes).
In a frying pan saute vegetables until onions are transparent. Stir in herbs and spices.
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix blender ingredients, cooked vegetables and bread crumbs together.
Press into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 deg F for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Turn loaf out and slice. Serve with vegetarian gravy. Also delicious cold with salad or as a sandwich filling.

(Source: Toronto Vegetarian Association,, 416-544-9800)

Recommended Reading

Here is a list of books and magazine that I refer to for inspiration and education.

  1. The Food Evolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World by John Robbins.
  2. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  3. The Everyday Vegan, Recipes & Lessons for Living the Vegan Life by Dreena Burton.
  4. Vegan Vittles, Recipes Inspired by the Critters of Farm Sanctuary by Joanne Stepaniak.
  5. 125 Best Vegan Recipes by Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney
  6. Becoming Vegan, The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant Based Diet by Brenda Davis, R.D. & Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D.
  7. The New Laurel's Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, Brian Ruppenthal (vegetarian & vegan)
  8. VegNews Magazine (Vegetarian/News/Politics/Food/Travel/Buzz) published by Vegan News Network (monthly publication)