Winter settles on the Comox Valley like a damp muslin fog. At the used bookstore, the smell of heating metal and dust rise from the tap tap tapping of expanding galvanized steel and aluminum, electric heat waking up after a mild October. As a busy RMT and clinic owner, I cherish these Saturday afternoons when I can treat myself to a delicious novel and take time to make my kitchen smell like heaven.
I’ve been thinking of a couple of things today quite a lot. Not necessarily constructive, but that’s how it goes:
- “How does Netflix get away with making claims with shitty evidence, if you can even call it that in the documentary, Game Changers?
- “When did vegetarian, vegan, etc., become a word that separates people from each other instead of one that describes a meal?”
- “What delicious thing can I make tonight for supper that will make me happy?”
They’re kind of related right? Not entirely crazy town up there.
The first question is too big for this rainy evening. But I will say that a plant based diet, or even just meatless meals can be interesting even for meat eaters. It forces you to try new things in the kitchen, get out of a rut. You know, kind of like trying your hand at Indian curry, figuring out the spices, roasting them, that amazing aroma invading your kitchen making the walls lean in and say, “Holy crap! What is this new wonderful thing you’re infusing us with?!”
I dated a lovely man for a while who is a serious meat eater. My spirit animal very well may be a lemming. I tend to adopt the eating style of the people I’m around, so for those 10 months I ate a lot of red meat. Also, I was training for a bike race and I somehow felt like eating meat. Cooking more vegetarian these days feels really good in my body. I feel like I’ve come home to myself, although I will eat meat again. But less meat, for me, is better. I sleep better, think better, have more energy on the bike. And back to Game Changers, it’s cool to see high performance athletes thrive without meat. Mind you, it really makes a difference what kind of athlete you are. Primary energy sources for a power lifter are different than a marathon runner. Anyway, I said I wouldn’t get into it. Sheesh.
About the second question, I will say this: To me, food is about bringing people together. So can we just not be so weird to others about our food choices? I don’t care if you are paleo, vegetarian, fruitarian. I would love to share a meal with you, check out what your grazing on these days, put all our dishes on the table to enjoy. I want to hear why you arrived at your choice, understand your world. Every time we sit down to a meal, we make a significant statement about our values.
Oh, and the third thought. I am pretty darn impressed with myself. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to create a fun meal. Often when cooking for myself, I just make sure I get the basics. But this day, I chose to make it special. Bees wax candles lit, nice music, no Netflix. I had a really nice time, and something about this gesture for myself warmed my heart and lifted the ennui from my mind.
Today’s menu: Wild Rice, Chanterelle Mushroom and Apple Sage Sausage (vegan) Stuffed Peppers . I made a yummy kabocha & miso soup too.
It was really good, kids! If you are a meat eater, simply add chorizo or some other meat to your stuffed pepper. But do try the veg version. I think you’ll be surprised at how satisfied your belly will feel. If you are vegan, you can add walnuts and/or hazelnuts plus nutritional yeast, perhaps some oil to the rice mix. Actually, add nuts anyway!
For me, when I cook vegetarian I have these general scrumptiousness guidelines:
- Make a delicious sauce you can pour on just about everything.
- Don’t be shy with the oil or butter.
- Herbs and more herbs please!
- How about some nuts?
- Add colour and texture.
I apologize for not having a proper recipe. I’ll guess at quantities. If you think of these recipes as a spring board for your own version, that would be great!
Wild Rice Stuffed Peppers
This recipe makes 2-3 stuffed peppers
- Red, Yellow or Orange Peppers of similar size. If they are tippy, carefully slice a little of the bottom so they are level. Make sure you don’t make a hole in the pepper.
- ¾ cup uncooked wild rice (I was going to use quinoa but didn’t have enough. If using quinoa, you may want more than ¾ cup).
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock or water
- A few chanterelle mushrooms, chopped finely. (You can use other mushrooms, but I’d avoid shitake. Too strong of a flavour for this recipe, white button mushrooms too blah).
- ½ medium onion, diced pretty fine
- 1 Field Roast brand Apple Sage Sausage, chopped (or meat sausage, or black beans)
- 1-2 Tablespoons butter to saute
- sea salt
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1/4 cup nutty cheese like gruyere, shredded (Or walnuts, hazelnuts, oil)
- one carrot shredded
- one stalk celery, chopped quite fine
- fresh parsley, minced (save some for garnish)
- less than ¼ cup dried currants
- parmesan cheese
Cook the wild rice or quinoa. You’ll easily find directions on the interweb or on the package. I like to cook either in a vegetable broth with an inch piece of kombu and a bay leaf or two.Cut the top of the pepper off. This is your lid. Take out the seeds.Sauté the mushrooms and onions in butter. Add dry spices here. If fresh, wait until later.Fry up the sliced sausage.
Mix the cooked rice, onion, mushroom, carrots, celery, (nuts), currants and cheese as well as the fresh minced parsley and other herbs if using fresh. Add salt and pepper. Taste, see what else you may want to add. Add more olive oil for moisture and texture.
Stuff your peppers with the rice mix. Press the filling in so there are no gaps.
Place stuffed peppers on a cookie sheet, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees. Don’t put their hats on quite yet. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and peppers feel cooked but still firm.
Turn up the heat to 425 degrees, top the peppers with parmesan cheese, bake until peppers start to turn a little brown.
Take them out of the oven, and put their hats on.
You have yourself a delicious main dish! Enjoy!
This one doesn’t require a sauce in my opinion.
Cooking vegetarian requires a bit more time to create a meal that is satisfying and balanced. Get yourself a good knife as you’ll be doing a lot of chopping. I’d add a food processor and high powered mixer to your kitchen tools. See you in the kitchen!