Tag Archives: food

Celebrating Small Achievements

Today I wanted to write. I wanted to create and inspire and indulge in that feeling that comes with it – that feeling I used to have all the time when I’d create all the time. That feeling that I’ve somehow lost along the way.

I wanted to clean the house. I wanted to leave the house.

But all I got was pie.

True – not such a bad accomplishment! Afterall… I have pie! It is just that it’s been one of those days, built with good intentions of entirely realistic tasks of which I’ve done none. I started cooking tonight’s meal at 10:30 am. I’ve just finished and it’s now 4:01 pm. Interruptions, lunch, lost implements, meeting the needs of Little Star, battling the glorious tension headache which threatens to overwhelm owing entirely to not enough yoga… and there you go. All I have is pie.

So I am celebrating that – an achievement. Go me!

I made Sweet Potato, Kale and Broccoli Pie with Caramelised Onions from Vegie Head. What I love about this recipe, apart from the abundance of nourishment and whole food goodness, is the wonderful celebration of vegetables. I often get so caught up in creating flavours with herbs, spices, garlic, chilli (not that there’s anything wrong with those lovely ingredients) that I overlook the flavours of the vegetables themselves. This pie does just the opposite, simply and gloriously.

Packed full of nutrients and antioxidants!

Packed full of nutrients and antioxidants!

In the world of food it is easy to get caught up in set ideas. This is how you make a meal: pick your meat, pick your vegies and cook. Vegetarianism pushed me to expand my mind and my creativity. Now, thanks to this pie, I am pushed to see vegetables themselves in a new light too.

Nahmaste.

Butternut Pumpkin and Kale Med-Veg Stack

For me food is a dance. It is a beautiful balance, an exquisite, sensory tango expressed in flavours, textures, temperatures, aromas and other tantilising sensations. I love the creativity of food. But mostly I love having people to enjoy it with.

My partner is away for the week. Usually such an event is accompanied with some rather uninspired kitchening. Who can be bothered with the effort when I don’t have the pleasure of observing another’s enjoyment (Little Star is currently enjoying raw food to the near exclusion of anything else – not that I’m complaining)?

Though this week I find myself heeding my own advice. After all, isn’t my own enjoyment just as important as that of the people in my life? So why not cook just for me?

Being on my own with Little Star I decided my week needed to be easy. I wanted a big batch of something I wouldn’t get sick of that would still deliver a wide variety of nutrients to fuel and nourish my week. Hence I decided to action and idea I’ve been toying with – Butternut Pumpkin and Kale Med-Veg Stack.

Ooops! First piece already gone!

Ooops! First piece already gone!

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 large butternut pumpkin, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 small red chillies (I like things hot! – use fewer chillies, de-seed them, or omit all together if you prefer), finely diced
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans of brown lentils, drained and thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 can of canellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
  • small handful of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
  • small handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of tuscan kale, finely chopped
  • 1 tub of Tofutti cream “cheese” (omit for gluten free – it’s still yummy!)
  • sprinkling of savoury yeast (nutritional yeast)
  • extra virgin olive oil

Here’s what I did:

I started by preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Whilst that’s warming I sliced the eggplant, zucchini and butternut pumpkin reasonably thinly. They do shrink a little whilst they cook so you don’t want them too thin, but they do need to cover at least a whole layer of your baking dish. I baked wayyy extra veggies – this way I can throw them on a pizza base at the end of the week – yum!

I spread them out on baking trays, drizzled with a little of the extra virgin olive oil, and put them in the oven. It doesn’t matter too much if they overlap a little – if anything they should be just under cooked. The eggplant only needed about 5 mins, the other veggies just a little longer. Alternatively you could grill them on a griddle pan or barbecue.

Okay, so it’s true – I do have a Thermomix. But you do not need one to use this recipe! A food processor can help you chop and the sauce can be cooked on the stove. I put the onion, garlic and chilies in the Thermy bowl Speed 4/3sec so they were finely chopped. I then sauteed them varoma/speed 1/3.5 mins in some olive oil.

Next the tomatoes go in and I simmered this at 100/reverse speed 1/15mins with the simmering basket in place of the MC. Basically this allows the sauce to thicken and the flavours to combine before I add the lentils (I have a terrible track record of lentils in the Thermomix – they turn to mush).

I then added the lentils, beans, herbs and nutmeg, with a little salt and pepper. I continued to cook for another 10 mins and let the flavours do their work!

Once everything’s done it is time to layer everything into a large baking dish. I started with a little of the lentil sauce on the bottom, then layered the vegetables in. I laid the eggplant in diagonally, then the zucchini on the reverse diagonal, and finally the butternut pumpkin more or less straight. This should help everything hold together on the plate later.

I topped the veggies off with sauce, kale, then a final layer of sauce covered with dolops of Tofutti and a sprinkling of savoury yeast flakes. It looks like a lot of kale, but it reduces significantly in the oven.

This is a great one to prepare ahead of time and placed in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) when ready. Cook until bubbling up at the sides and serve with mash or a lovely garden salad.

Nahmaste.

An Ethical Choice

Hot tears scorched my face as they rolled down my cheeks. I sat there, staring, mouth agape, as the credits rolled – some sort of distant reminder that the world was still spinning, still moving, that people were still doing their thing. I could not bring myself to wipe them away. I needed to feel them. I deserved them. To not would be to do some further great injustice.

My partner had left the room, busying himself in preparing a drink in the kitchen – his way of dealing with what we had both just witnessed. All the arguments I’d heard before, all the logical deductions and trains of thoughts I’d had throughout my life came swimming into my consciousness. They’d been so uncomfortably set aside in my mind. For so long there had been this discourse between what I’d logically surmised to be right and ethical and how I’d actually behaved and the attitudes I’d projected into the world.

And for what? To fit in? It all seemed so ridiculous now. Un-real. Inauthentic. Incongruous. To hold a truth yet to ignore it. To compartmentalise in such a way.

It was in that usually festive time between Christmas and New Year of 2012. As a childless and committed couple we’d been using this time to kick back and watch film. We’d had a huge year of celebrations, graduations, weddings, birthdays and travel – lots of travel. This was meant to be our unwind. We’ll indulge in film and a few good docos. We’d seen The Cove. That was difficult enough. We’d just finished Earthlings.

Our choice to become vegetarian was easily made. No longer could we turn a willful blindness to the treatment of animals in our culture, nor deny that inner impulse towards compassion that we, as fellow animals on the Earth, seem to possess.

I recall how liberating it was – to choose to live a lifestyle in line with my inner fundamental beliefs. I’d begun living a life that was more real, less manufactured. It involved a strange kind of “coming out”, where we had to go around telling everyone we were veggo now.

I remember thinking I’d have to give up being a “foodie”. But I love food, and the food we eat, so much more than I ever did before. I have a respect for it, and I am continuing to grow and understand it more.

Two years on and I have not looked back. Not once. I’ve never missed animal flesh from our diets. The food we eat is tasty, nutritious and satiating. And once meat is removed from the menu a whole new world of flavours opens up as one seeks to focus on what else goes into a meal. I get really excited about food!

Nahmaste