Eucalyptus-Rosemary Body Butter….or Why Do My Lotions Always Turn Out Green??!

Paul and Bid were up at Hornby for the May long weekend, and in addition to joining us for one of James’s amazing Friday Feasts, we met them on Hornby on Sunday for a lovely early dinner at The Seabreeze Lodge, where Bid and Paul honeymooned more than forty years ago!

It was lovely to see my sister and brother-in-law looking so relaxed and happy, which is their usual state when they’re on Hornby, notwithstanding the fact that they spent every minute whipping their cabin into shape for the coming summer season.

One of Paul’s tasks was trimming the various trees and shrubs around their lovely cabin, and he brought the product of some of his labour: a huge bounty of eucalyptus leaves.

Since I’m running low on my lotion bars, I figured I’d use the leaves–along with some of my fresh rosemary–to create a refreshing-smelling body butter.

The bonus is that eucalyptus has insect-repelling qualities–good news for my ankles, which are already exhibiting little red bug bites from no-see-ums (at least that’s what I THINK has been biting me).

I also decided to add tea-tree oil and vitamin E because they’re both good for skin.

I used a combination of oils and butters: olive oil, coconut oil, and cacao butter. I also added a bit of beeswax simply to give the lotion some structure.

Anyway, after doing a bit of research, I came up with this recipe…

Eucalyptus-Rosemary Body Butter

  • 2 ounces (by weight) crushed eucalyptus leaves (this is a LOT of leaves)
  • a handful of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 2 cups refined coconut oil (I used refined because it doesn’t smell like coconut)
  • 1 cup cacao butter nibs
  • 4 ounces (by weight) beeswax

Combine above ingredients in the Instant Pot and set to “Slow Cook” for four hours.

Strain into two pint-sized mason jars.

Add to each jar:

  • 30 drops tea-tree oil
  • 10 vitamin E capsules

Stir well and refrigerate until set.

I was hoping the result would smell more strongly of eucalyptus, but, if anything, it smells very slightly of chocolate because of the cacao butter and of tea-tree oil for obvious reasons.

And, like most of my infused body lotions/bars/butters, this stuff turned out light green. On the plus size, the colour doesn’t actually transfer to your skin.

Anyway, it’s a lovely rich body butter that contains only things that are super good for your skin…and the two jars should get me through the summer!

 

 

Delicious Cashew-Dill Dressing

Throw this in the Vitamix and blend until smooooooooth:

1 cup cashews
2 Medjool dates
1 TBS capers with brine
3 garlic cloves
1 TBS yellow mustard
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vegetable broth powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBP dill (or 1/4 cup fresh dill)
2 cups water

This makes an amazing dip/sandwich spread as well! Just reduce the water to ONE cup if you plan to use it that way.

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A Variation on Thug Kitchen’s Tofu Scramble Tacos…

Yeah, so…it’s been quite a while, eh?

I do have a good excuse: we’ve been super busy over the last month because we sold our little loft and had to go into town and sign all the paperwork and pack up, etc. What we thought was going to be a small move turned out to NOT be all that small, and now we’re packed to the rafters with STUFF at Sideways Cottage. It looks like we’ll be making a few trips to the Free Store to get rid of some of this extraneous stuff.

A big worry for me, of course, was my garden because I’d just finished all my planting the day before we left, and I was going to have to leave all my little seedlings alone for two whole weeks. All fared well, however–some better than others.

Before we left, I hardened off and transplanted half of my Sweet One Million tomatoes outside and kept half inside under the grow lights. The difference was rather profound: the ones under the grow lights have fared much better…

…and even in the three days we’ve been home seem to have grown quite a bit more!

I was also delighted to find a wonderful smelling batch of fresh cilantro under the grow lights! The cilantro seeds I started outside have barely emerged from the soil, but it is awfully cold this year. Indeed, we’ve been having fires in the wood stove every evening since we arrived back at the cabin.

With all that fresh cilantro, I’ve been craving Mexican food, so last night I made tacos with Thug Kitchen quinoa-black-bean taco “meat” and this morning, I decided to try a variation of Thug Kitchen’s Tofu Scramble Tacos. It’s an adaptation for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn’t have fresh jalapeno peppers (only pickled) or bell peppers, and 2) I didn’t like the order of cooking suggested by the recipe. I like adding tofu at the beginning of either a scramble or a stir-fry, so the tofu absorbs more flavours. I also like browning my onions, garlic, and jalapenos at the same time.

Oh, and I made my version burritos, rather than tacos!

Tofu Scramble Burritos

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 TBS pickled jalapenos
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1 tsp Knorr powdered vegetable broth
  • 1 small broccoli head
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 8 small flour tortillas

Throw the onion, garlic, and picked jalepenos in the food processor and blend until finely chopped.

Brown in a wok for a couple of minutes, then add the crumbled tofu and continue browning until the onion is translucent.

Sprinkle on the powdered vegetable broth, add the broccoli and stir fry for a minute.

Add the rest of the ingredients, and continue to stir fry until the broccoli is at the appropriate texture–remember to leave it a bit al dente because no one likes mooshy broccoli :(.

Toss in the chopped cilantro and stir it through. Warm up some tortillas and serve the scramble rolled up in warmed tortillas with a side of avocado and salsa!

THESE BREAKFAST BURRITOS ARE DELICIOUS!!!!

Because I’m doing intermittent fasting these days (where I don’t eat between 8PM and noon the next day), I made these for noon. James, who said he’d just eaten breakfast and didn’t want any, ended up eating FOUR of these suckers.

Pan de Agua(ish) and a Vegan Banh Mi Samitch

A few days ago, I came across a reference to Puerto Rican pan de agua and was intrigued enough to fall down an internet rabbit hole until I learned everything there is to know about this Latin “water bread.” The bread is similar to a French baguette, but ideally has a thin, crisp crust.

In fact, the ingredients of pan de agua are identical to the ingredients of my no-knead white bread, which has a hard crust. The difference is in the baking method.

To achieve the soft, crispy pan de agua, which is ideal for sandwiches or veggie-burger buns, you simply have to follow this baking method:

Pan de Agua

  • Pull off a grapefruit-sized boule of no-knead white dough, roll into a baguette, and place on a sheet of parchment paper.
  • Let the dough achieve room temperature(ish).
  • Brush the dough lightly with water and make a slice lengthwise along the top of the baguette.
  • Slide the baguette onto a baking stone in a cold oven.
  • Pour 1 and 1/4 cups of boiling water into a pan beneath the baguette.
  • Immediately close the oven and wait ten minutes.
  • After ten minutes, turn the oven to 400 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes (or until the bread achieves an internal temperature of 207.

Real pan de agua should achieve an internal temperature of about 195 degrees, but that temperature results in a bread too gummy for our liking, so I kept the loaf in the oven until the internal temperature was 207.

The real stuff is also brushed with a mixture of water and egg whites, but, hey, we’re being vegan here, so I used only water.

The recipe also suggests placing the dough on corn meal, but I don’t think I’ll do that in future because the cornmeal becomes embedded in the baked loaf. Oh, and DO NOT place the loaves directly onto the cold baking stone or they will bake to the stone (believe me: I speak from experience). You need to use parchment paper.

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If you want a more authentic pan de agua, here’s a short video that shows the entire method from scratch. As you’ll see from the video, the real stuff relies on a less shaggy dough than my no-knead stuff, but the ingredients are the same. I did get a kick out of the video guy suggesting a twenty-minute wait to let the yeast bloom (yeesh!).

I was not holding out much hope for this baking method, but the loaves are brilliant with a soft, crispy crust that’s PERFECT for a….

Vegan Banh Mi Samitch

This version of the banh mi is based on one from Slate’s You’re-Doing-it-Wrong feature.

First, cook a block of tofu and a sliced onion using this method from The Minimalist in The New York Times!

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Next, grate

  • one large carrot

…and mix it with…

  • 2 TBS rice vinegar
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Slice into very thin slices….

  • 1/2 an English cucumber

Mix together…

  • 1/4 cup vegan mayo
  • 1/4 cup siraraccha

Chop….

  • 1 jalepeno pepper, seeded
  • a handful of cilantro

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Now slice open that pan de agua, dig out a little of the bready guts (to make more room for filling) and throw everything into the baguette (in nice layers, of course!).

It is SO freaking good…and, strangely, like eating a stir fry enclosed in a soft baguette.

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If you’re wondering about the potatoes, I was trying a method I read about on the CFDG site that involves rubbing cubed potatoes with tahini. I had high hopes for this method since everyone on the CFDG Facebook group was raving about them, buuuuut they were just okay.

In fact, they look much better than they tasted.

So it’s thumbs up for the pan de agua and the banh mi sandwich; thumbs down for the tahini-roasted potatoes.

And the song of the day is Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.” He’s not someone I’d normally listen to, but he sang this on SNL last night, and I was struck by the 1970s Bowie-ish vibe…

And here’s something to exemplify my point….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chickpea Coconut Curry

The coconut-curry soup I made a couple of days ago was SO delicious, but a bit rich for a soup, so I decided to pimp it up a bit and turn it into a full-on curry to serve over rice.

The result is super lush and SO delicious–it’s definitely company food! Even omnis will enjoy this one!

Chickpea Coconut Curry

Blend in the Vitamix (set on “soup” function so it preheats):

  • 28 ounces fresh, chopped tomatoes (or 1 28-ounce can)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 TBS red curry paste
  • 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 2 TBS sambal oelek
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 TBS coriander
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Meanwhile, saute in the Instant Pot:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, chopped (keep the seeds in for some extra heat)
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped

Once, the onion is translucent, add the contents of the blender and…

  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 2 zucchinis, chopped

Close the Instant Pot and set for 0 minutes. Yes, you read that right: ZERO minutes. By the time the pot is up to pressure, the zucchini, peppers, and grape tomatoes will be cooked and the soup will be heated through.

While you’re waiting for the Instant Pot to achieve pressure, throw the following into the Vitamix and blend until smooth:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp miso
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Do a controlled quick release and open the Instant Pot. Pour the contents of the Vitamix into the Instant Pot and add…

  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen peas

…and hit “saute” until it re-heats. Next, stir in…

  • 2 TBS lime juice
  • freshly ground pepper

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Serve over brown basmati rice with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and a dollop of mango chutney.  Don’t forget to bake a fresh pita or naan!

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The other cool thing I discovered today is a quick way to make fresh pita. Because I don’t like to heat the oven up to 500 degrees for one or two measly pitas, I often just slap some dough on my sandwich grill and make flatbread. Up to this point, I haven’t really worried about rolling the dough out thin and perfectly round as I would for a pita.

Well, today, I was trying a new technique and rolled out a small round of my no-knead whole-wheat dough into a thin round, and slapped it on the sandwich grill.

Lo and behold–that sucker puffed up into the most perfect pita I have ever produced!

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Just look at that nice thin pita!

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I did attempt it also with the no-knead white dough, but it was a bust because that white dough is just too tenaciously elastic to roll out. It just keeps rolling back into a little snowball of dough.

And the song of the day is an old song from a new album: “Gentle on my Mind” from Alison Kraus’s new album, Windy City. It’s kind of a cheesy song and not to my usual taste, but I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for old Alison because James likes her so much.

Also, the song reminds me of watching Glen Campbell’s show–almost FIFTY years ago–with Biddy. His show was a summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers in 1968 and, for some bizarre reason, Bid and I were completely obsessed with the show.

The Problem with Vegan Recipes…and a Bomb-Diggity Coconut Curry Bisque

A couple of weeks ago, James and I were out for a hike with the pups and stopped to talk to our friend, Jane, who sometimes lives across the street from us on Denman Island and other times lives in Calgary.  She mentioned that she’d been reading through this blog for vegan meal ideas, but sometimes found the list of ingredients in my recipes a little, ahem, daunting.

The moment she said this, I realized it was completely true (though it had not even occurred to me before).

I also realized that the problem is that almost all my recipes are adaptations of a meat/cheese/egg-based recipe OR are my attempt to reproduce something I’ve tasted somewhere. Thus, I keep adding things until I achieve the taste I’m after.

On top of that, I think vegan recipes in general tend to have way more ingredients than omni recipes. In fact, when I first made Rebar’s twelve-ingredient Kung Pao sauce, I was so impressed that I sent the recipe to my brother-in-law, Paul, who is a master chef.

He took one look at the recipe and said, “Not a chance, dude–WAAAY too many ingredients.”

Well….hang onto your hats, my darlings, because today I created a recipe that has a record-breaking number of ingredients. It’s REALLY freakin’ delicious though…and it took me most of the afternoon to figure out. At a certain point, I even went out for a hike: I wasn’t quite happy with the soup when I left, but realized what was missing as I was walking.

Of course, this all started because Annie texted me a link to Happy Planet’s Thai Coconut Soup, with which she is currently obsessed. I had a look at the ingredient list and decided to take a whack at reproducing it. I soon realized, however, that unless I wanted to add a ton of salt, I’d need to add more spices….and more vegetables…and at some point, it shifted from a soup to a bisque.

It now bears no resemblance to the soup Annie wanted me to reproduce, but it is absolutely delicious. I will make this one again in a heartbeat (though I’ll definitely try to streamline it a bit in future).

So here we go!

Vegan Coconut Curry Bisque

8 servings

Blend in the Vitamix (set on “soup” function so it preheats):

  • 1 TBS coriander
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 TBS red curry paste
  • 1 TBS Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 2 TBS sambal oelek
  • 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger
  • 28 ounces fresh, chopped tomatoes (or 1 28-ounce can)
  • 1 can coconut milk

Meanwhile, saute in the Instant Pot:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, chopped (keep the seeds in for some extra heat)
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped

Once, the onion is translucent, add the contents of the blender and…

  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini, chopped

Close the Instant Pot and set for 0 minutes. Yes, you read that right: ZERO minutes. By the time the pot is up to pressure, the zucchini, peppers, and grape tomatoes will be cooked and the soup will be heated through.

While you’re waiting for the Instant Pot to achieve pressure, throw the following into the Vitamix and blend until smooth:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp miso
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Do a controlled quick release and open the Instant Pot. Pour the contents of the Vitamix into the Instant Pot, and hit “saute” until it re-heats. Next, stir in…

  • 2 TBS lime juice
  • freshly ground pepper

Top with chopped fresh cilantro.

Oh man, this is SO good, and SO rich. It’s definitely company soup, and because it contains both coconut milk and cashews, a little goes a long way! The recipe makes 12 cups, so about 8 cup-and-a-half servings.

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Instant Pot Hot and Sour Soup

We currently have a surfeit of mushrooms, so I made a mushroom risotto for future consumption, but this barely put a dent in our supply, so I decided to convert my mushroom hot and sour soup to an Instant Pot recipe.

Funnily enough, my first hot and sour soup recipe was a slow-cooker recipe that took four hours. This one takes two minutes in the IP and it’s just as good!!

So here goes!

Instant Pot Vegan Hot and Sour Soup

Blend the following in the Vitamix until smooooooooooth.

  • 6 cups water
  • 3 TBS Better Than Bouillon, No Chicken Base, Vegetarian
  • 1 TBS corn starch
  • 4 garlic cloves. minced or crushed
  • 2 Tb fresh ginger, minced or grated (do not use ginger powder!)
  • 3 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 TBS sambal oelek
  • 6 TBS rice wine vinegar

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Next, turn the IP onto “saute” and saute the following for a few minutes:

  • 1 package firm tofu, cubed
  • 4 cups mixed mushrooms (I used a combo of oyster, cremini, and portobello), chopped
  • 6 ounces cabbage, chopped

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Pour the mixture from the Vitamix into the Instant Pot and set for 2 minutes on high.

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Do a controlled quick release and quickly stir in…

  • 1½ cups frozen (or fresh) peas
  •  fresh bean sprouts (if you have them)

The frozen peas will cook quickly in the hot broth.

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Top with:

  • cilantro, chopped
  • green onions, chopped

And there you go–super quick and delicious!

All you have to do is quickly cook up some soba noodles…

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Pour the soup over the noodles….

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And turn on The Forensic Files!!!!

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