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Tag Archives: Holiday

Feast of Leftovers: Thanksgiving Vegan Vegetable Soup!

The Feast of Leftovers is back! A few years back I wrote about making soup with my leftover Prime Rib dinner. and well I have never had so many Google hits on my site on one day. The search terms: Prime Rib leftovers

While my annual Prime Rib problem has been solved, after any holiday feast my fridge requires some serious attention. Earlier in October it was Canadian Thanksgiving day – and since my daughter is now a vegetarian there were fewer meat options and many more vegetable options. And still way too much food!

To create any soup from leftovers, I make things up as I go along! Soup from leftovers is improvisational cooking and experimentation. This is about making something new from a pile of random items in my fridge and creating a whole new flavour experience. The beauty of soup is it takes time to simmer – and you can do other things.

(I have a very non-vegan Sour Cream Biscuit recipe here if you want something to go with the soup. Easy to make while the stock is simmering!)

Step One: Getting a Base

Soup is liquid and so it is mostly water. You need a few strong flavours things to make your tongue happy! Now in this case I did get to cheat slightly – I had bought some vegetable broth to add to the mashed sweet potatoes I had made for Thanksgiving. So into the pot goes the broth (one opened and one unopened). With the broth goes a medium onion (whole), a few sprigs of fresh parsley, a piece of ginger about the size of my thumb, and some peppercorns in a tea ball so I can fish them out later! And then I explore the fridge. What do we find? A half-can of garlic minced tomatoes. A cup of pureed pumpkin. Some crushed garlic I had saved from something else! All into the stock pot. Oh a half-head of cauliflower – it gets chopped and into the pot! Two sad apples that are on their way to be being dried apple heads. They get peeled, cored and cut and half.

Again, make sure you have enough liquid to cover the contents of the pot. Set on stove-top and bring to full boil, turn down and let simmer for about 2-3 hours. Or even longer! Remember when making soup we want to extract the flavour. Letting the stock slowly simmer will intensify the flavours – just don’t let your stock boil away!

And as I have noted before a large slow-cooker is perfect for this first step in the process. If you use a slow cooker set on HIGH until hot (1-2 hours) and then LOW for 4-6 or more hours. Go skiing and sledding. Or sit back and catch up on Netflix while drinking wine. You may need extra bottles of wine.

Before you walk away you will have to hang around and skim! During the early boiling process a thick foam will appear. Skim this off as best you can to keep the soup stock clear.

While your stock is slow simmering you can prepare any additional vegetables you want to add to the final soup. I explored and found a pepper squash, sweet potatoes and carrots. All needed to cook – and pepper squash is best oven roasted. So I prepped the squash by splitting and scooping out the seeds then seasoning with olive oil and a spicy seasoned salt I have to give it some zip.
I then peeled the sweet potatoes and the carrots for about three cups of chopped vegetables. These also are seasoned with olive oil and the spicy seasoned salt. All into a roasting pan and roasted in the oven at 350 F for 1 hour to make sure it is all nice and soft.

When you think the stock is done, I take it off the heat and let it sit 15 minutes to cool and settle. Once the stock has settled you can skim off some anything I don’t like – and then pick out what I don’t want left in the soup (whole onion, ginger root, peppercorns in tea ball)

Step 2: Season the Stock

Take a new pot and place a fine sieve  over the new pot, then gently and slowly pour your stock into the new pot. Sometimes when making soup from random ingredients The last little bit in the pot may be quite thick with sediment so you may decide to not use that part of the stock. In this case I had added the diced tomatoes and while I wanted the flavour in the broth, I didn’t want the tomatoes in my next step!

Now for the taste test! Get a small spoon and sample the stock. What does it need? Salt? Spices? More flavour? Does it need a little more water? Or maybe some pre-made stock to add both volume and flavour. This is the part where you use the magic of your senses to make the soup your own! While tasting is an important part of making soup do remember to use a new and clean spoon for each taste test! I added some curry for a bit more zesty zing!

Always add any other seasoning or flavouring before adding more salt. If you feel you need more salt add it slowly! Once something is too salty there is no saving it. It is better to let people add their own salt to the finished product.

Step 3: Add our roasted vegetables

Once you have adjusted the seasoning (and the volume of liquid) – we will add the oven roasted vegetables to the prepared stock.

I scooped out the pepper squash, and squished the sweet potatoes and carrots with a fork. I even added back the cauliflower and apple halves that cooked with the broth.

Place the soup on the stove and bring to boil. Turn down to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so to allow the vegetables and broth to marry. Once they have consummated their new relationship we get out the hand blender!

Step 4: Finish the soup and eat!

Let the soup cool and then blend until smooth! Optional: Add some creamy coconut milk to add some smooth happiness for your tongue!

Enjoy!

Remember this is not an exact recipe so you can experiment and find what works best for you.

Basic Random Ingredient Summary
In Stock Pot (I was emptying my fridge so I just grabbed what I had before it went bad!)
2 litres of vegetable broth
1 medium onion (left whole)
2 cups cauliflower
1 cup pumpkin puree (plain)
1 cup pureed whole tomato (canned or fresh)
1 cup carrots (I had shredded carrots I needed to get use up)
2 apples (peeled/cored and cut in half)
1 peeled chunk of ginger (I used a piece the size of my thumb)
handful of parsley sprigs
couple of garlic cloves
tea ball with black peppercorns (and other spices) (tea ball makes removing spice bits easier!)
Add more water if needed to cover vegetables
Optional: Salt to taste if you are using “no salt-added broth”.

Dump everything into your stock pot and bring to boil, skim off any foam. Place on simmer and let slowly simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Key word is slow. Option: use a slow cooker if you have a large one and leave it for 6-8 hours on low. The idea is to simmer out the flavours in a long slow boil. These vegetables will be removed and composted after we make the stock!

Oven Roasted Vegetables for Soup
I had a pepper squash that I needed to use – and I like the oven roasted flavour.
1 medium pepper squash (or your favourite squash!)
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1 large carrot
1 medium parsnip root

Pre-heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Cut pepper squash in half and remove seeds. Brush halves with olive oil and season as desired (I use a spicy seasoned salt and black pepper)
Peel and chop the root vegetables (sweet potato/carrot/parsnip) into chunks. Don’t worry about size as the intent is to puree the vegetables with the stock we are making. Place the root vegetable bowl and toss with olive oil and some seasoning (I used curry/salt/pinch of nutmeg).
In a large enough roasting pan place the pepper squash cut side up, and spread the root vegetables around evenly. Place in oven and let cook about 60 minutes. The squash may take longer. You want the vegetables soft with a bit of browning (caramelization) to capture a lovely autumn roasted vegetable essence.
When finished roasting, remove from oven. Let cool slightly, then scoop the squash and squish the root vegetables with a fork. Don’t worry if it is chunky – we’ll fix that shortly!

Putting it all Together
After the stock is ready let it sit to cool for 20 minutes or so. We only want the liquid, so take a soup pot and using a fine sieve, pour the stock into the soup pot. The sieve will remove the chunks. I choose to take out some of the cooked cauliflower and some of the apple to add to the final soup.

Taste the stock in the soup pot and add salt/spices as desired. I wanted a bit more bite so added a teaspoon of Jamaican Curry. Now add the over roasted vegetables (and any vegetables you want to re-use from the stock pot) to the soup pot. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to marry.
Optional: I added 1/4 of orange lentils to the soup to add some protein. Orange lentils take about 20 minutes to cook.

After 20 minutes remove soup from heat and set aside for 20 minutes so we can safely puree the soup! You can use a standard blender if you wish, I have a super-duper immersion (hand) blender that I can stick and the pot and complete the consummation of the soup!
Blend until smooth.

Optional: Add some coconut milk (about 1 cup) with at least a medium fat content to add a creamy mouth feel to your soup.

 

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Ramble: I was Never a White Child

I wasn’t white until I grew up.

This is on my mind today after reading that, according to the USA census categories, “Arabs are white”. Yet Muslims are seen as “people of colour”. Somehow there is a disconnect in those two nuggets of information. But then bigotry was never big on logic. Or even thinking.

My background is a mix of Eastern European. A melange of Croatian, Hungarian, Roma(Gypsies) and no doubt a few other stray stands of genetic material. My parents fled the retribution that followed the failed Hungarian Revolution in 1956. They lived through a winter as refugees in what was then Yugoslavia. Eventually though a series of random events they ended up on a refugee ship bound for Quebec City, Canada.

A whole series of other random events led them to find work as ‘sharecroppers’ on the tobacco farms north of Toronto.

My mother made it clear to me that – while we were European – we were never considered “white” by the local measure of the 1960s. Even today in the Barrie area whiteness is bestowed by having Anglo-Saxon Protestant roots.

As a child I clearly remember being told I was a foreigner – even if my birth certificate said “Born in Canada”. I did not belong in the Great White North. My skin was permanently tanned – we might today call my skin-tone “olive”. In the summer I would turn a lovely shade of leather. My family has an almond shape to our eyes, and a very slight extra fold. Not quite Asian – yet in the brilliant white of 1960s British Ontario that is what I was called. Except not in the polite way. I was told I couldn’t be in certain groups because of my ‘heritage”.

One mom said to her blonde daughter, “You don’t play with that little china-boy do you?”
Being “not quite white” no doubt implied my hearing wasn’t quite in the normal range to hear past the white-noise all around me.

By the time the 1970s rolled around, I was apparently more white and less odd. It likely helped that a family with some indigenous blood now sent their children to school. They were a degree darker in shade, and clearly that meant they should now be shunned. Oh bigotry – you astound where you abound. Still, it wasn’t that I was now included in the circle of white. Rather I was less visible. Not better, but certainly less bitter.

In high school, the skin-tone separation returned to my reality. I again became, somehow, Asian. Until the Wong family came to school. Then it was clear I couldn’t be a “china-boy”. Nor was I Japanese (in spite of my obsession with Japanese culture and animation at the time!). I suddenly became a ‘native.’ And what was I doing off the reserve and pretending I was white?

The ultimate marker of my non-belonging was when the Asian crew thought they should beat me up. Grade 10 was hell. I became the daily target of attacks from the few Asian students in my grade. Punched in the head. Kicked when in line. Spat on. They knew no-one white would come to my aid. And there were no other “native” kids to come watch my back. I was Rezlad; and RezReject. And that made me a target.
Mostly I ignored it for the usual 20-seconds of discomfort it caused.
Still what I do remember most vividly about Grade 10 is the morning ‘nausea of fear’ and throwing-up in the bathroom before walking out to catch my bus.

The one thing about coming from Eastern European peasant stock is my genetic material is rather robust. And we lived on a farm. By the end of Grade 10, I was filling out from carrying 100 lb sacks of grain to the barn through the snow. That spring one of the tougher members of the Asian crew put me in a headlock as the others egged him on. I remember letting him bend my downwards and then my grabbing his nuts and squeezing. He screamed and fell to the ground rolling in pain. I walked away and never looked back. Grade 11 was a better year for me.

The only odd thing about Grade 11 (and the rest of my high school years) was I became an Eskimo. That became my nickname and my category. In the 1970s being Eskimo(Inuit) was better than being an Indian(First Nations). Why? I have no clue – maybe it was exotic in the worse sense of that words meaning? It still wasn’t white. Yet somehow it also inspired me. I read everything I could about the north and the people’s that lived there. I even taught myself how to carve soapstone, shaping small animals in my alone time. It was comforting. It was my (false) niche of contentment. I didn’t belong and I liked it.

It was only when I went to University and lived in a more ethnically diverse community that I became (mostly)white.
It only took 19 years before I was bestowed with that privilege. And let me tell you – in he end it really wasn’t all that great!
There is privilege in whiteness; and there is a burden of stereotype for what and who I must have been – and that has erased my lived experience.

The only thing I learned from that portion of my life is we humans are arbitrary in how we divide ourselves. Our pride is false. And our tribes are simply illusions that help us hide from reality.

The wee bit of Roma(Gypsy) in me knows that I still don’t belong, and never will.

And you know what? That is actually just fine!

 

Ramble: Stench

Ewww

whatever is that smell?

poetry gone rancid
in the summer swelter
old moldering musty reek
of words in decay…

ah such grand ideals,
and look at it fade
away

like Detroit

All things human are born to die
C’est ça.

Ramble: Let In; Let Be; Let Out.

Down we forgot as up we grew.

But babies know. They really do.

Babies have it all figured out. Life is simple.

Life at its most basic life is this:
Eat; Rest; Excrete.
Take in; Ponder; Release.
Let in; Let be; Let go.

It is just that simple.
Now breathe! Inhale; Hold; Exhale

Of course the more we grow, the more able we become.
And the more we are distracted by the wonders of living and being alive. Squirrel. And in our distracted mix of emotional turmoil we forget the essence of being:

Let in;
Let be;
Let go.

Ramble: Canada Day 2018 (Dominion Day)

Here in the Great White North it is the celebration of creating a nation. The official launch of the experiment called Canada was launched: July 1st, 1867.

Now the reality is nations don’t just arise from spontaneous birth. One day nothing – and the next day BOOM – “look honey it’s a baby country. She will be awesome when she grows up!”

No. Political unions arise out of planned negotiations and random choices. This land was here before it was called the “Dominion of Canada’. This land was here before human’s even existed. This land has a history that begins before those of us who are living ever breathed the air of planet earth; before humans battled each other to lay down a set of values, laws, and government.

This land does not belong to any human, first and foremost it belongs to itself as part of Mother Earth.

I ended up here by accident. My parents fleeing the turmoil of 1956 Hungary, where refugees seeking shelter. Refugees looking for a place where they could top looking over their shoulders. A new home where they could stop worrying that the wrong sentence would get them arrested, imprisoned. Killed.

They had no idea where they were headed when they bundled up their two young children – a daughter about to have her 5th birthday, and their son not even 6-months old. They packed one small suitcase and walked across a frozen river into what was Yugoslavia (now Croatia). They became homeless.

The next 6 months they lived in refugee camps, while other governments made offers for a permanent home. My parents had talked about Belgium, and then the Canadian government offered them a home in Canada. They arrived by ship, landing in Quebec City, Canada in July 1957.

They became sharecroppers on tobacco farms near Barrie, Ontario. Investing in the planting, working the fields, maintaining the buildings and equipment. Learning English from the other immigrants and refugees around them. The promise of an autumn reward making them work hard in the summer heat. Eventually my parents realized there was no pot of gold at the end of the tobacco crop rainbow.

Somewhere in there another son was born. Then I was born on Canadian soil.

My father had always been handy with tools  and fixing things. He began working as a handyman, and then as a carpenter. Eventually, in 1964, my parents saved enough to buy a small run-down farm from a local farmer and landowner – Mr. Smalley. He held the mortgage because no bank would give my parents a mortgage back in those days.

My father had a love for the land and tried to be a farmer – raising pigs, chickens, and geese. And it never really worked out. There would a good few years, followed by a horrible year. He had to keep working as a carpenter. He was a good carpenter, and so he became a site foreman for a small construction company. He earned a good wage, but ne was never wealthy.  He never had a new car, and our clothes were mostly bought from thrift shops.

My mother stayed home with her 5 children, running the household. Keeping the livestock thriving. Planting massive vegetable gardens that feed us well through the summer, and throughout the winter. She canned the bounty, so that the pantry was always filled with pickles, relish, and canned fruit.  I loved her pickled beets, and I have never been able to duplicate the flavour of the ones she made from the beets she grew.

So what is my point? Nothing really. Just a reflection on what it means for me to be here in Canada. This is a nation built on compromise and acceptance. It is a vast and complex thriving community of distinct cultures. This is a country based on a ideal of “peace, order, and good government.”

Mostly that basic vision has been maintained. Yet nothing is ever made; and no lives are ever lived without making some stupid choices. Along the way there were some horrible choices made. There is nothing that can remove the past; it is our choice to be bound by that past. We are here now and we must do better. And we will do better. It just takes time.

This nation is an experiment that is always being refined. What we value today may not be valued tomorrow.

My father taught me that you always do your best with what you have on hand to make things better. My mother taught me that you can only make choices based on what you know today. If you didn’t know something yesterday that you now know today – then admit it. You cannot change yesterday. You cannot guarantee tomorrow. All you can do is be the best you for today.

Happy Dominion Day Canada. You are not a perfect country by any measure.  Yet the only truth I know is the world could use more Canada in it.  Today was good. Tomorrow can be even better.