No fuss, no muss, and a whole lot of fibre…

Last night I made a batch of one of my easiest homemade breads. It’s more of a method than a recipe, although the proportions have been worked out after much experimentation. (In the EAT section of my site, you’ll find other recipes, including other breads).

There’s nothing like homemade bread for breakfast, or a sandwich, or just as a snack – but I’m always trying to sneak in some more healthy goodness. One of my tricks is always to add some chickpea flour, for extra protein. This one also benefits from whole wheat flour, and whole grain rolled oats. It is a bit time-consuming (you’ll want to start a day ahead, or first thing in the morning to bake for dinnertime), but it’s worth the wait, and doesn’t require any kneading at all.


Veggie Mushroom Chili, Step-by-Step

I love a traditional, spicy chili, slow-simmered. This is a vegan-friendly version, designed to simmer in the oven while you watch a movie, chase your kids around, or finish that report you need to get written. I hope you enjoy it. Since I get requests for recipes, I’ll walk you through it. You can most definitely adjust the proportions – this makes a large Dutch oven full, which is dinner, plus lunch, for two, and several more meals’ worth for the freezer, or just enough for a big crowd for dinner.

You’ll need:

Olive or canola oil (I am using canola these days because it is produced in Canada)

2 onions

2 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery

2 large carrots

1 green and 1 red bell pepper

1 jalapeno

2 cans or l large bowl of cooked beans, as you like (kidney are traditional, but we had chickpeas and black-eyed peas on hand)

2 cans diced tomatoes stewed without salt (large cans, 28oz.)

1 T/15ml each of chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika

1 chopped chipotle in adobo (or another jalapeno and a bit more smoky paprika)

1/4c/60ml red lentils (split peas will also work, but take longer to cook)

If you’re working alone, chop everything, then start. If you are working as a duo, chop the onions and garlic, and the other can stir and manage the cooking while one chops.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Turn the oven on to 350F

Add the onions and garlic:

Stir and sweat these until they start to get shiny, then add the celery:






You can use a machine to chop, but honestly, the time to chop each vegetable gives just about the right gap for the prior one to cook a little. Now for the carrots – these aren’t a traditional chili vegetable, perhaps, but they have the tremendous effect of adding a little sweetness to the chili, as do the onions as they sweat down more and more.


After the carrots, the peppers, the most tender of the vegetables, come last. Use any colour, but red and green give a great combination. Continue to cook until this mixture of vegetables (the “holy trinity plus” or a mirrepoix) have begun to soften nicely. Now you’re ready for the rest of the ingredients.

Tomatoes come first, then the beans. Stir everything well so you get a good mixture.

Canned beans are easy and fast, but they often have a lot of added salt, which most of us don’t need any more of in our modern diets. We get enough naturally. In the EAT section of this blog you can find a recipe to cook your own; they can also be prepared very nicely in a pressure cooker.

Adding a few red lentils will help it thicken and contribute to the meatier texture some people prefer. 








Bring this to a simmer over medium heat, then put it all in the oven uncovered for at least an hour. 


It will cook down and thicken considerably; you can let it carry on for as long as it takes until you are ready to serve. Sometimes we will make a batch of cornbread on the side, but it really didn’t need anything else. Enjoy!

I’m always grateful for the opportunity to cook together with friends or family and to have a warm, low-maintenance dinner at the ready. Freeze whatever you don’t need, and remember it’s always better on the second day.









Whole Wheat Sourdough LoavesI don’t buy store bread, typically, except the occasional pitas or wraps. I make bread once a week and that’s more than enough for the two of us, even if we have dinner guests. Lately, I’ve really been on a sourdough kick – inspired by Michael Pollan’s Cooked.

The idea of bread that rises without the use of commercial yeast appeals to a person like me, who loves inventing things, and wanted to grow up to be an astronaut.  Combine that with my search for the perfect technique that combines my commitment to using as much whole-grain flour as possible, with getting great crust, a moist interior, and that elusive “spring” where the interior forces itself through the slash as it bakes in the oven, and you can imagine lots of sourdough-baking in my future.

Unlike the precision of, say, cake baking, sourdough isn’t so much a recipe as a science experiment (albeit a tasty one). I don’t typically use a recipe so much as check out other bakers’ successful tips and then work at adapting it until it feels right. I’ve used different versions, but for starters I would suggest you check out Anne Marie’s (the Zero Waste Chef). Check out her other incredible, helpful, and sometimes edible posts, also.

You might also like the post specially-designed for beginners from The Perfect Loaf. He has many, many versions of sourdough – which makes me slightly fearful of my eventual fate, having embarked on this journey.

The most interesting thing I’ve noted is that both the examples provided by these excellent bakers seemed lately to be unduly wet. Sourdough afficionados will tell you the dough should be wet, but I’m talking ridiculously wet, almost like soup. Yet it didn’t start out that way at the autolyse stage, nor during the folding. It seemed to happen during the bulk fermentation. What I’ve realized is that, being a typical Toronto summer, it is much more humid than it was in the spring, and definitely more than the winter. So I think the dough is absorbing more moisture from the air. The other day it was 60% humidity inside, with the air conditioning turned on. So I’m learning to adjust for that.

Anyway, each loaf has turned out very well, some better than others. This pair of loaves have been a real treat, as you can see! I hope you’ll share your favourite way to use sourdough bread.

PB Toast Scrambled Egg Sandwich
















Chicken Parm…ish

When you’ve had a long day and just want to decompress, take a few minutes to get this going, and have a glass of wine while you wait! 

For two:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (not the frozen ones with added salt!)

1 egg

1/4 c 1% milk

1 c whole wheat bread crumbs

1/2 c no salt marinara 

4 T Parmesan, fresh grated

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet or lasagne pan with parchment.

Mix egg and milk together in a pie plate.
Put crumbs in another pie plate.

Dip each piece of chicken in egg wash, then in crumbs, patting to coat. Place in pan and put in the oven. 

After 30 minutes, turn chicken over. In 15 more minutes, spread  marinara on top of each chicken breast and grate on Parmesan.

Bake 3-5 minutes until cheese melts.

Not the Same Old Soup

Turkey soup…again?

Our quest to find as many ways as possible to use our roast turkey had to include soup, of course. But this week’s version took a turn for the tasty! In addition to onion, garlic, carrot and mushrooms, we added in a thumb-sized chunk of ginger, julienned. Just the thing for fighting off the bug that has been going around (and finally caught us). We finished it off with the stock we made from our turkey carcass, some leftover turkey, and tipped in a good handful each of short grain brown rice and red lentils.

It simmered into a thick, hearty consistency that doesn’t taste like the same old turkey soup at all – and warmed us for our excursion out into the rainy world.


Turkey for a Chili Day

We roasted a turkey on Wednesday, and set a challenge for ourselves – use it as many ways as possible, given that there are only two of us now, without getting that, “oh, no, turkey again?” feeling.

Of course we started with the roast dinner, and then the possibly predictable hot turkey sandwich. Next, a lunch salad of mixed greens, turkey, dried cranberries, dressed with a spicy Dijon vinaigrette. Having been felled by the crazy cold/flu that is going around, something spicy and comforting was in order, and this turkey chili was just the ticket. It also had the advantage of using up some of the beans and veg we had put up in the freezer.

At 88 cents a pound, this little bird is working wonders for our grocery budget.


What to Eat for Winter's Last Hurrah

The calendar SAYS it’s spring, but the wild weather we’ve been having here on the east coast sure doesn’t seem like it. Somewhere between “the best defense is a good offense” and “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, we came up with last night’s dinner idea.


On the table in a couple of hours, while we watched the freezing rain coating the trees outside: Apple braised veal shank with roasted winter vegetables. We started with some delicious veal shank from Halifax’s Seaport Market. Four servings meant we would have leftovers for today’s lunch.

After browning the shanks in olive oil, we put them aside on a plate and added a sliced onion, a sliced clove of garlic, and a stalk of celery to the pan, stirring until translucent. At the same time, we reconstituted a package of wild dried mushrooms in 1-3/4c boiling water and 1/4c or 60ml apple brandy in a heatproof measuring cup. 2c/500ml of apple slices went in next, along with 1c/250ml of sliced fresh mushrooms, and the reconstituted fungi and their broth. A sprinkle of tarragon and nutmeg rounded out the flavour.

We nestled the shanks in the vegetable mix, and covered it in preparation for the next step.

Meanwhile, in a separate casserole dish, we put a carrot, a small turnip, and some sweet potato, roughly chunked. This was tossed with dried rosemary, and 2T/30ml each of olive oil and maple syrup.

Everything went into a 350F oven for the remainder of the 2 hours. The meat was strictly “do not disturb”, but we stirred the veg about 3 times.

Our conclusion? Winter WILL go away eventually, but until then, we will stave off the chill with one last go at some of our favourite winter recipes.

Warm and Filling

20121210-210907.jpg The first winter storm threatened with its presence today. Hard, driving rain and wind, mixed with a little snow. The kind of howling night that makes you want comfort food. But after a day of work, how can slow food be not so slow?

We had some delicious white beans, pre-cooked, in the freezer. A couple of pork chops. And some San Marzano tomatoes. We put the chops in a casserole, topped with the beans and chopped rosemary. Over that, a couple of tomatoes each, and a little juice. More rosemary and pepper.

After 45 minutes in a 400F oven, covered, a delicious tender dinner was waiting. We finished the plates with a handful of greens. Pure comfort.

Hail Caesar!


This morning we were just getting back from our walk when our neighbour, Nick, came around the corner. Nick is a lovely Italian man who likes to garden. His little city plot is a veritable Garden of Eden, and even those of us with urban farms of our own look forward to his gifts throughout the season.

On today’s menu, three or four heads of delicious Romaine. So what else but Caesar salad? For our lighter version we dressed a whole head with this recipe:

Whisk together a tablespoon each of wine vinegar and olive oil, a teaspoon of anchovy paste, and a crushed clove of garlic. On top, a sprinkling of Grana Padano and some oven-baked pumpernickel and multigrain croutons.




Earlier this week we were at Royal, picking up a chicken. But they also had these tremendous veal cheeks. So today as the heat returned, we made…cold day food. Go figure! Start some veg; in our case, orange pepper, shallot, and garlic. Then brown the cheeks and deglaze with whatever’s handy. Red wine, in our case. Add some pepper and chopped rosemary, dried chanterelles and a jar of stewed tomatoes. Pop in a 350 oven for an hour or so covered, then boil some potatoes while the pan is percolating along uncovered.