At my workplace, I participate in a Lunch Club. At the beginning of the school year, anyone who is interested signs up, with a partner, and commits to providing lunch for the rest of the participants. This year we have fourteen members and this works out to each partnership making lunch about 5 or 6 times a year. If it’s not your day to make lunch, then you are eating lunch someone else has provided. I really look forward to Thursdays (our Lunch Club day) because I don’t have to make lunch! I’m the only vegan in the club, but we also have a vegetarian and someone who doesn’t eat pork. This year’s crew have been really kind and conscientious and have always made sure that there are vegan options for me! This makes me really happy! Usually, when I attend something where lunch is provided, I have to find out ahead of time what the menu is. If a vegan option can’t be added, then I just bring my own. As I always say, “I don’t mind bringing my own lunch, I just need to know.” At my Lunch Club, I don’t even have to ask anymore. I canrely on my colleagues to consider all dietary wants and needs!
My Lunch Club partner and I don’t have to make lunch for another month, but we started talking about it this week. We decided to make Thai Noodle Soup. Now, I’ve never actually had this soup before, let alone made it, but my partner raved about it! Into a big bowl and onto a bed of rice noodles, a spicy broth infused with Thai flavours is ladled, then topped with a variety of tasty and textured toppings. Sounds great! Well, I decided I’d better give this soup a trial run before serving it up for a crowd of people, so I did some Pinterest research and made this Thai Noodle Soup last night for supper. Traditionally, this soup has lots of non-vegan things in it like fish sauce and chicken and meat broth, but I delved deeper into the offerings on Pinterest and found some vegan versions that I was able to combine and adapt until I came up with a recipe that satisfied me. Here it is:
Thai Noodle Soup
1/2 package rice noodles
2 tsps. coconut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. of grated ginger
3 tsps. of minced garlic
2 tbsps. red curry paste *
2 tsps. curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 can organic light coconut milk
4 cups vegetable broth
about 6 heads of baby bok choy, chopped
2 tbsps. tamari
2 tbsps. coconut sugar
1 lime, 1/2 of it juiced, 1/2 of it cut into little wedges
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Cashews (if you can get them!)
Put the rice noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Set aside for a few minutes, then toss and untangle with a fork or spaghetti scoop. Let sit until soft, then drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions. Stir and cook for a few minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the ginger and the garlic and continue to stir and cook for a few more minutes. If the onion mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a tablespoon or two of water. Now add the red curry paste, the curry powder and the turmeric. Stir until mixed and coated. Pour in the coconut milk and the vegetable broth. Stir everything together. Bring the broth to a simmer, then add in the baby bok choy and lightly simmer for a couple of minutes. Lower the heat. Stir in the tamari and the coconut sugar and the lime juice. Heat through.
Divide the noodles among 4 big bowls (or two bowls and reserve the other two servings for tomorrow night’s supper). Ladle the broth into the bowls. Top each bowl with a handful of bean sprouts, a generous sprinkling of cilantro, a couple of lime wedges and a few cashews.
Serve with a knife, fork and spoon – “Tom” ate his noodles like spaghetti, rolling the noodles into a ball with a fork onto his spoon, and ate the soup with a spoon; I cut my noodles up with a knife and fork in the bowl, then ate noodles and broth with a spoon.
* check the ingredients on the package of red curry paste. Some have fish sauce and/or shrimp in the ingredients. Vegan paste is available and should be easy to find in a major grocery store.
Other toppings you could use: chopped green onion, small cubes of tofu, finely sliced green cabbage …
Today is very cold! The temperature dropped 10 degrees from last weekend to this weekend! We’ve even had snow! This kind of quick change in weather and temperature is hard to get used to. Even dressed for the cold, I found myself walking around outside with a tense and hunched up body, daydreaming about beaches in Hawaii!
I mean, look at it! The trees and bushes are still green (under that snow)! It’s not right! I’m not ready! Brrrr!
Well, when it comes to food and cold weather, what do you think of?
I think of soup!
For lunch today, I had a delicious Tomato Fennel Soup at Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods (http://tractorfoods.com/). Warmed me right up, it did! Later, when I got home and saw that I had parsnips and leeks in my CSA box, I immediately decided to make my own soup.
I’d just read the latest post on Dishing Up the Dirt and there was a Parsnip and Apple Soup featured so I decided to use that recipe as my guide. I think you’re going to like it!
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped in small pieces
3/4 tsp coriander
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken flavoured vegetable stock
1/4 cup cashew cream
Melt and heat the butter and the oil together over medium heat in a medium to large sized pot. Add the leek, parsnips and apple and combine, increasing the heat a little bit. Add in the coriander and salt and pepper (I used several grindings of fresh black pepper and about 1/4 tsp salt). Stir together and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft and releasing their juices. If you like, you can add a splash of water to keep the vegetables from sticking. Pour in the stock, cover and simmer over medium to low heat for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup to your desired consistency. (In our household, “Tom” prefers a bit of texture in his soups, so I left a few bits of vegetables in the soup. I think the soup would be quite lovely if you thoroughly puree it too). Stir in the cashew cream, warm through and serve. Yum!
I am so proud of myself! I made vegan cream cheese today and it’s delicious!
You know, sometimes I lack confidence in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and creating delicious and creative vegan dishes and meals, but, most of the time, I follow a recipe. I get a bit anxious about launching off on my own without a recipe to anchor my creativity. Oh yes, there are several dishes I can make off by heart or have invented (humous, various salads and salad dressings, chili, bowls …), but most cooking days find me consulting a recipe. Now, this cream cheese recipe … I based it on Kaylie Johnson’s Dairy Free Paleo Cream Cheese Recipe on the blog Paleo Gluten Free Eats. I followed her recipe, but I wasn’t pleased with the flavour. So, you know what I did? I added a bit of this, a bit of that until I was satisfied. While I was adjusting, I realized that I was feeling confident and sure, that I have enough experience to just go for it. Although I used someone else’s recipe to start, I made this recipe my own. I can truly call it my own because I used what I know, what I like, and made something that worked for me. Yay me! So here it is:
1 cup cashews, soaked
1 1/2 tbsps water
1/8 cup + freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/16 tsp finely minced garlic
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth. If you are using a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you shouldn’t have to blend for too long to get everything blended and the right consistency. If you have an ordinary blender, like I do, you will have to blend for at least 5 minutes, probably more, scraping down the sides as you go. I was able to keep the blender going while using a spatula to push the mixture from the sides into the middle. This way, the blender didn’t get stuck and I got everything really well blended together.
This cream cheese is a savoury type, due to the salt and garlic, so use it in that way – on crackers, on bagels, on toast, with tomatoes … whatever your cream cheese thing is! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you could use this cream cheese in things like a layered mexican dip or in a salad dressing. Try it and let me know what you think and how you used it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a snack!