It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Somewhat belatedly, here’s the ratatouille recipe someone asked for!! Mine comes from one of The Green Door cookbooks, The Green Door being a local (and excellent) vegetarian restaurant.

1 large eggplant
4 – 5 zucchini
Cut the eggplant into cubes, slice the zucchini, toss with about a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of oil, and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes. (The eggplant may need an extra 15 minutes.) While these are roasting, prepare the rest of the vegetables:

3 cups sliced onions (I just cut mine in eighths)
1 clove garlic, minced (I usually put in about three cloves. I like garlic.)
1 large can (798 mL; about 3 cups) diced tomatoes
1 sweet red pepper, large dice
1 green pepper, large dice
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (I often skip this. It’s a pain to clean and it gets stuck between my teeth…)
1/4 cup fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried) — I never skip this. Nom, basil!
1 Tablespoon soya sauce

Heat about 2 Tablespoons oil in a large sautee pan or wok.

Add onions. Cook 5 – 7 minutes on medium-high
Add garlic and tomatoes, another 5 minutes
Add eggplant, zucchini, basil and parsley, 5 minutes.
Toss in the peppers and soy sauce to heat through.

Serve hot.

This keeps well, and reheats well. I’ll make a batch for myself on the weekend, and have it for lunches throughout the week. (Yes, I eat with the children, but sometimes what I really want is a big bowl of ratatouille, so I take a token amount of their lunch, and the bulk of it is this. Mmmmm. I will even share. It’s terrific served with shredded cheese over top, too.)

But really, ratatouille is one of those great empty-the-fridge dishes. I always put in the roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and onions, because, to me, those are foundational to the taste I so enjoy. Even the garlic and basil, which I love, are optional to me, though I rarely skip them. But pretty much everything can be played with, depending on your taste. Skip the peppers if you don’t have any, and add leftover steamed cauliflower. Put in the parsley or don’t. Use oregano instead of basil if you prefer. Search out your wilty vegetables and toss them in. It’s very forgiving, and very flexible.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Menu Monday

First course: broccoli-cheese soup
Main course: Roast chicken, rice
Dessert: muffins

First course: carrot salad
Main course: lentil soup, naan
Dessert: almond-chocolate macaroons


First course: Indian-style vegetables
Main course: tofu fingers with peanut sauce
Dessert: bananas


First course: stewed zucchini and tomatoes
Main course: stuffed green peppers
Dessert: applesauce

First course: cucumber raita
Main course: Jamabalaya
Dessert: mixed berries

As always, if you want a recipe, just ask!

April 8, 2013 Posted by | food | , , , | Leave a comment

Moroccan Chicken

I tweaked this recipe quite a bit to make it suit my family’s tastes and preferences. I’ll give you the instructions as written in the cookbook (Michael Smith‘s Fast Flavours), and then note my changes at the end. Italicized ingredients will be altered somehow in my version.

1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 can chickpeas
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup marmalade
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds
leaves and stems from 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Michael’s Method:
Dump everything except almonds, cilantro, and lemon wedges into a large pot with a snug lid. Bring to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, then adjust the heat much lower, just enough to maintain a steady simmer. Tightly over and let simmer for 20 minutes.

For even more tenderness, let everything enjoy 60 full minutes of slow simmering. Then ladle into bowls, top with almonds, cilantro and lemon wedges, and share.

Mary’s Method:
I find slicing a chicken into pieces too daunting. There’s a butcher nearby who would do this for me, but I opted to use chicken thighs from Loblaws, one per adult. Easy!

I made two pots, one large, one tiny, so that Jazz’s portion could be made without chicken. That was just a matter of divvying up the ingredients. The only extra work was one small pot to wash. Plenty of protein in the chickpeas and almonds.

And then, because Wonderful Husband does not like cilantro floating on the surface, I chopped the rinsed cilantro roughly, then dumped it into the blender with a quarter cup of the orange juice. Pureed it. It was an experiment: is it the flavour of the cilantro he objects to, or just green leafy bits on the surface of his stew? If it’s the flavour, I’ve just spoiled the stew for him, of course, but enquiring minds need to know!

Answer: It’s just the green leafy bits. Yay! So all the flavour, none of the bits. A win-win. Though in fact I did keep some fresh cilantro aside for me, because I like the texture, and, I discovered, pureed cilantro doesn’t give you that yummy back-of-the-mouth smokey-earthy smell-taste when it’s pureed. (We don’t have enough words to describe taste and scent in our language, have you ever noticed that?)

Powdered spices tend to float on the surface of a liquid, so instead of just dumping them as is into the pot, I put all spices in a small cup and drizzled in some water, a bit at a time, whisking with a fork, until I got a smooth paste, then dumped them in the blender with the pureed cilantro and gave it another quick whirl. THEN I dumped it in the pot. (But you don’t have to do any of this! If you want simple, just bung it in the pot and cook it.)

And finally. I’ve made a few of Chef Michael’s sweetened dinner dishes and have discovered the man has way, way, waaaaaaaaay more of a sweet tooth than I do. I knew without even tasting that I was going to find the recipe as written cloyingly sweet, so I skipped the marmalade altogether and reduced the orange juice by half, replacing the remainder of the liquid with water. (For more flavour depth, you could use chicken broth … if you weren’t feeding a vegetarian, that is!) In fact, I added water at a couple of points to get the consistency of the broth right, so there may be even less than half the suggested amount of juice in mine.

The result? Soooo yummy! The orange juice and dates made it sweet, yes, and the spices made it rich and earthy. The almonds gave a nice crunch at the end.

Just a lovely, lovely dish. Exotic (though in the preamble, Michael says the flavours of Morocco “inspire dinner, not authenticity”) and delicious.

We ate ours served over rice.

March 6, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

You’ll recall that I’ve tweaked our eating patterns at Mary’s house. No more morning snack! Instead, snack is tacked on to the end of lunch, and called ‘dessert’. Our lunches now have three courses: vegetable, main, and dessert.

Vegetable: garden salad
Main: black bean soup and cornbread
Dessert: carrot-pineapple muffins

Vegetable: Kale cups
Main: Pasta with veggie meatballs and tomato sauce
Dessert: home-made applesauce

Vegetable: cucumber raita
Main: Falafels (in pita with vegetables and yogurt sauce)
Dessert: apple and pear slices

Vegetable: Lentil-beet salad
Main: Black bean enchilada bake
Dessert: banana with dark chocolate chips

Vegetable: carrot salad
Main: butter chicken, ginger-baked tofu, rice
Dessert: almond-chocolate macaroons

As always, if you want any recipe, just ask!

February 4, 2013 Posted by | food | , , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday: Black bean soup, cooked carrots, cornmeal muffin

Tuesday: Lentil curry

Wednesday: Macaroni and Cheese (homemade! no KD in this house) green beans

Thursday: Soy loaf, apple relish, zucchini skillet

Friday: Black bean enchilada bake

As always, if you see a recipe you’d like, just ask!

November 26, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | 3 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday: Vegetable chili, baking-powder biscuits

Tuesday: Vegetable muffins

Wednesday: Lentil soup over rice

Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs (meat-free meatballs)

Friday: Chickpea-spinach soup

As ever, if you’d like a recipe, just ask!

October 29, 2012 Posted by | food | , , , | 2 Comments

Menu Monday

Monday: Pasta with veggie meatballs and tomato sauce

Tuesday: ginger-baked tofu, veggie on rice vermicelli with peanut sauce

Wednesday: lentil-rice cakes, salad

Thursday: fish-spinach curry

Friday: butter chicken, salad, naan

October 1, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | Leave a comment

Black bean falafels

2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
500 g ground beef*
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
3 teaspoons lime juice

* When making them vegetarian, I add a quarter cup tahini instead; failing that, a quarter cup shredded zucchini, squeezed once to remove some of the moisture, also works

Preheat oven to 425F.

Mash beans till smooth but chunky. (“Smooth but chunky”? Mysterious, no? What it means is you’ll see a greyish paste, but there will be lots of black bits in it.)

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with your hands, then form into about 24 balls

Place on foil-lined sheet and bake 15 minutes.

You can put two or three in a half-pita with various shredded veggies on top and drizzled with a yogurt-cilantro sauce, or, if your kids’ coordination is not up to that, you can just give them their falafels on a plate with the sauce on the side and let them dip. Toddlers looooove to dip their food.

September 10, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | 4 Comments

Tahini Dressing

I use this to dress a salad made of equal parts raw, grated beets and carrots, and shredded fresh spinach. I toss in some cubes of fried tofu and a couple handfuls of slivered almonds and dried cranberries. Sooooo good.

I’ve tweaked the original recipe quite a bit, so I’ll give you both versions, and you can pick the one you like!


1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/3 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable oil

Puree all ingredients except oil in a blender. Add oil in slow, steady stream.

My version:

First, I found it made a LOT of dressing. I never used that much, so I divided it in half. It’s very tasty, though, so if you use be before it goes bad (or, like me, you forget it in the back of the fridge), make the full batch!

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (optional. If I don’t have them, I don’t use them. It effects the nutritional value, but not the taste, at least not to my tastebuds’ awareness!)
1/6 cup soy sauce (I’ll use tamari if I have it, but I often don’t.)
1/6 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup water (I played with oil, oil and water, and finally landed on plain water. It doesn’t affect the taste, and you get a creamy texture by keeping the tahini at 2 tablespoons. And NO CALORIES IN WATER! Also, much more heart-friendly for my wonderful husband, who has to watch that stuff.)

Plop it all in a blender, and whirl till smooth.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | food | , , | 3 Comments

Recipe: Lentil-Rice Cakes


1 cup green lentils
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked rice
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning


1. Put lentils, garlic, onions and oregano in pot, cover with 2 cups of water and boil for 4 minutes. Cover and simmer till lentils are soft, 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary.

Drain. Let cool ~10 minutes.

2. Put rice and all but 1 cup of the lentil mixture into a food processor, and pulse 5 – 8 times, till sticky. Glop into a bowl and add the remainder of the lentil mixture. Fold together thoroughly.

3. Beat eggs, and add, along with flour, and seasoning. It will be sticky, but if it’s too goopy to form into patties, add bread crumbs or oatmeal until you get something more malleable.

4. Form into patties and refrigerate a couple of hours. (Chilling the batter is necessary if you’re going to fry them, but not if you’re going to bake them.)

5. Cook, either by
a) Fry at medium-high in a few millimetres of oil, at least three minutes on the first side. Be patient here, otherwise it will fall apart when you try to flip it. Fry the second side for a minute, then carefully transfer to a plate.

b) Bake on well-oiled cookie sheet at 350 for 15 minutes on the first side, five on the second.

The children love to eat these at room temperature, with their fingers, and dipped in ketchup. I find them a bit bland, and so will eat mine in a half-pita with a dollop of hot salsa and Dijon mustard on top.

June 26, 2012 Posted by | food | , | 9 Comments