I’ve just returned from a trip to the old country, my birthplace and the home of most of my relatives. Although I absolutely love, and am grateful for, any opportunity to visit the folks overseas, I am always happy to return home. I miss my Canadian family when I’m away and I miss my own food! Every time I go to England, I have to begin every re-meeting with a reminder about my drinking and eating habits:
“Okay, let’s just get this out of the way, upfront, here it goes … I don’t drink coffee or tea, I don’t drink alcohol and I only eat plants! Got it? Okay, let’s move on!”
In the United Kingdom, you see, everything is about beverages! All transitions, all arrivals, all social engagements involve a drink, usually tea, but often alcohol. You can imagine how my drinking habits are received!
Julia, what can I get you?
Nothing thanks, I’m good.
What? Nothing? Surely a cup of tea?
Okay, how about a cup of hot water?
Julia, what will you have?
Nothing right now.
What? Nothing? Not even half a pint?
Okay, how about some ginger beer?
And food … cheese, savoury pies, fried food, Branston Pickle, salad cream, more cheese … not really a welcoming place for vegans. I admit that when I travel and when I am given room and board by my relatives, I become more of a flexitarian. I like to experience the food of the culture I am visiting and I’ll eat most anything put in front of me by someone who is kind enough to prepare and cook food for me. Having said that, I was craving nothing but salad and greens when I got home! Yes, I love chips and pub food when I’m in situ, but once I hit my home turf, I headed straight for the produce section of the grocery store and loaded up on vegetables and fruit. Here’s what I made for my first meal home:
Light Green Dip or White Bean-Edamame Hummus
1 cup cooked navy beans
3/4 cup edamame beans
2 tbsps. tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsps. minced garlic
1/4 + tsp salt
bunch fresh dill, chopped
Pub beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth – about 3 to 5 minutes depending on your appliance. Add in a tbsp. of water if needed to make a smooth dip. Add in the dill and blend until the dill is well mixed in. Serve with crackers and vegetable sticks.
Green Spring Soup
1 tsp butter
1 tsp veg oil
heart of one leek, about 1/4 cup, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped (or one thick slice of white onion, chopped, if you don’t have green onions)
1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped
3/4 cup green peas
2 large handfuls spinach, chopped
1 potato, peeled, cubed, cooked in 1 cup of cooking water
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 cups chicken flavoured veg broth and 2 cups veg broth)
3 tsps. fresh lemon juice
Heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leek and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the onions, asparagus and peas and saute for 3 or more minutes until everything begins to soften. Stir in the spinach. Then add the potatoes with their cooking water along with the veg broth. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for a few minutes. Blend everything together with an immersion blender to make a smooth green pureed soup. Add a few grinds of black pepper, a bit of salt to taste and the fresh lemon juice. Stir, heat through and serve. Deeelicious!
Springtime Pasta Salad
(recipe from The Fed Up Foodie)
3 cups dry rotini
2 cups broccoli flowers
1/2 English cucumber, cut into half coins
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup red onion, chopped in small pieces
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus spears, chopped
handful or more of pea pods, cut in 1/2’s or 1/3’s
handful of green olives, sliced lengthwise twice
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped finely
1/2 tsp salt
Cook the rotini until al dente. Drain the pasta over the broccoli so the broccoli gets blanched. Pour cold water over both the pasta and the broccoli to cool then add to a big bowl. Add all the chopped vegetables to the bowl. Make the dressing by whisking together the ingredients. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and pasta and toss to combine.
Note: The amounts for the vegetables are a guideline. Please adjust as you prefer, including changing up the vegetables.