Weeknight vegetarian crockpot or freezer meals

Hi everyone, I just finished my last day of work today and am preparing for my new job which starts March 1. What better way to start a new job than to have easy dinners on the table all week?

Quorn light korma

For my crew that means using meat analogue veg dishes to entice them to eat. Most of the recipes on the Quorn UK site are freezer-to-slow-cooker friendly, such as this light Indian korma recipe. I’ve seen people advise preparing the entire recipe into a Ziploc freezer bag, shaking to mix, then freezing it flat. However my freezer is still a bit overloaded so instead I will keep the tomato passata UHT boxes on the cupboard shelf *but* will label them so they will not be pinched for another recipe before I cook the korma. Same thing for keeping the lowfat yogurt (I’ll use fromage frais which we have on hand) in the fridge. It’s still a “throw and go” slow cooker recipe, donc รงa marche ๐Ÿ™‚

March also has St Patrick’s Day on the 17th, so we will have a green dinner that night. Do you have special St Paddy’s day plans? Check out the for breakfast. I made this several times with tofu instead of soy milk: higher protein and less sugar-y taste. It’s a perfect way to start the day.

Ideas for March work nights so far:
Friday 1 March (first day!): , brown rice and salad

Monday 4 March: 10 Minute TVP Tacos plus taco fixin’s for a taco bar dinner this is not a slow cooker night. Perfect for Monday since I will prepare all of the veg on Sunday.

Tuesday 5 March: here it advises precooking the asparagus etc. but I will just put the raw ingredients in the slow cooker–and BTW plan to use trimmed broccoli stalks in place of โ‚ฌโ‚ฌโ‚ฌ asparagus + brown rice

Wednesday 6 March: = chick peas in a tomato-based curry sauce–nice easy recipe! For sure I am not going to freeze a bunch of dried beans though, that’s another ingredient to add in the morning. Call me crazy but I like soaking beans and will soak these Tuesday night to drain, rinse, and put the soaked beans in the slow cooker Wednesday morning. More of that brown rice unless the natives rebel ๐Ÿ˜‰
Thursday 7 March: not a slow cooker night again, two minutes in the microwave and it’s done!

Friday 8 March: although I might Americanize it and use mozzerella cheese which is also cheaper here than cheddar. This is not a slow cooker recipe, it’s for my little freezer tins that can be placed in the oven. I love Friday night lasagne! It says “weekend”.

What are your meal plans?


Merry Christmas 2012!

Back! ๐Ÿ™‚

Both of my toddlers have the chicken pox so our pictures this year are spotty. DS has had 2 days straight of 40C fever, and then the spots showed up for Christmas morning. His ‘big’ sister had no fever two weeks ago, just spots. It took the whole 14 days to incubate in DS.

I celebrated Christmas by trying out the shampoo-free (aka ‘no poo’) method which was surprising! My hair is perfectly clean today, and silky to boot. This was my first time so I used a bit more than a tablespoon of baking soda with a little water to massage into the scalp, rinsed, then applied 1/2 of an 8oz spray bottle filled with water + 1T of apple cider vinegar and rinsed that off too. Some no poo users say they use 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water but my scalp isn’t ready for that. This would be great if it does what users say it does: you can wash your hair less. Less styling time! Yes! Less heat damage, and much cheaper hair products too.

Am also dabbling in once a month cooking (OAMC), which should be more accurately called once a week (OAWC) or freezer cooking in my case since I still cook most days, but I do it now in bulk and I cook whenever I have time rather than counting down before a mealtime. Tips on cooking once a month

Hitch 1: I still miss more freshly cooked foods
Hitch 2: I really miss East Asian cuisine, which in general is cooked and served immediately

My LO is crying, poor little guy.

New recipe

Miso soup is very easy, perfect for a (pregnant) mother of a toddler! Boil water ‘lightly’ so it’s steaming but not bubbling hot, which would kill the live friendly bacteria in the miso. Put some miso in a bowl, and here my lazy way is to add a splash of the hot water to blend the mixture with the back of a spoon till smooth. Then add the rest of the water till it’s the taste and concentration you like. Traditional miso is made with water boiled with flaked bonito fish and/or kombu sea(weed/vegetable), which give it a lovely depth of flavour but are too much effort with my baby tugging at my trouser leg.
I was happy because this involved 1) cracking open a cookbook and trying a new recipe–this one called for udon noodles, which I’ve never had in miso soup; and 2) opening a package of organic whole wheat udon noodles which had been in Deep Storage for an undetermined period. Needless to say, they were in real risk of never being used. Ha!

From Dol Sot Bibimbap Tutorial

Chic Vegetarian Cuisine’s mushroom kinpira
inspired this recipe too. I boiled the noodles seperately, rinsed off excess starch, then prepared the veg ร  la kinpira, finally adding the veg and noodles to the miso. Good stuff.

Vegan month of food #1: pumpkin porridge + roasted pumpkin seeds

Just for inspiration, I signed up for the Vegan Month of food (Vegan ‘MoFo’) event this month. The official guidelines suggest food blogging every weekday, but that is much too ambitious for a full-time working mother of a baby like I am. Que sera, sera!

First up: Aeri’s Kitchen Hobak juk / pumpkin porridge with rice balls, her Halloween special recipe. Don’t those rice balls lend themselves perfectly to becoming spooky floating eyeballs? The dish was meant to be made yesterday, but Madeline is sick so she kept us busy. Nevertheless, it’s just in time to start out Vegan Month of Food.

It would be even faster to microwave pumpkin quarters, but I baked a pumpkin cut in fours (not halves like Aeri did) with pumpkin seeds on the lower cookie sheet level. No aluminum foil, but a generous drizzle of olive oil over the cut pieces and, of course, over the seeds (plus salt sprinkled on the seeds). I’m cooking Maangchi’s soybean side dish / Kongjang using black soybeans and the slow cooker with just a little bit of water, to transfer later to a saucepan on the stove with the rest of the ingredients. Slower cooking methods are perfect for distracted parents. Speaking of that, Madeline got into something!

Vegan month of food logo

Internet cooking

I’ve been cooking up a storm lately thanks to internet recipes, such as shiitake mushroom kinpira (mmmmm) and Korean spinach salad (Recipes–>Vegetables–>Spinach salad) this morning. My crock pot is currently cooking Japanese sweet stewed navy beans. Lunch? Korean tofu and Korean soymilk noodle soup. I hardly ever refer to my cookbooks anymore. What about you?

Homemade kimchi

You might not know this, but I’m a ‘kitchen Korean’: I just eat Korean food, minus some Scottish oats in the morning. I just made up that expression but it’s succinct, isn’t it?

Korean cuisine is all the more delicious because thanks to it, and in no small part the breastfeeding efforts of my little 6 month-old, I’m back to wearing my size 38 RTW trousers ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought it would take months longer (9 months up, 9 months down) . Phew!

My first batch of napa cabbage kimchi turned out okay, but it needs work. Maangchi’s pictorial and YouTube recipe I took liberties with the recipe: cutting the cabbage to actually make Mak Kimchi (cut kimchi), stirring in the radish cubes since I made a half recipe for this first foray, and using 2 grated carrots instead of julienned radish because that’s what I had in the kitchen. The big problem though, in my opinion, is substituting soy sauce for fish saice to make it vegetarian. The sauce looks like ketchup colour instead of a proper bright red kimchi. Back to the cutting board when this batch is finished (2 litres or so from now!)

and I made Maangchi’s kimchi jeon for lunch, and it was respectable! My flipping skills need work though. It’s probably the consistency of the batter since I eyeballed the measurements–Madeline was interrupting constantly and I had to improvise. The jeon pancake was the shade of raw steak blood from the soy sauce experiment.

Any ideas on vegetarian substitutions for fish sauce in kimchi?

Two-piece dress all gone awry

Oh no. I’d been hoarding this cotton-lycra deep jade green fabric a long time. The OOP Simplicity 4020 kimono-style wrap top looked like a perfect go for it, in jade for extra Asian-ness. Out of the bazillion reviews on PR for this top I started thinking it was too high-cut on the neckline for a good breastfeeding top, but then I thought it might just have been sewists who made it more prim than I’d made it. Mistake #1: they didn’t cut the neckline or binding any differently than I did! Mistale #2 is that I sewed in clear elastic on the outer edge of the neckline, which, when pressed (groan) ever so lightly and quickly but then the baby distracted me for just one second, and that left melt marks which look like a stubborn make-up smear. Mistake #3 is a pre-mistake ๐Ÿ™‚ I had planned to try a muslin in leftover yellow, but didn’t had nearly enough, so I went for the green as I’m pressed for time anyway with a baby.
My matching skirt has jet to be hemmed so you’ll see the edges sticking out, but together with the top it looks more green than Kermit ๐Ÿ˜› so I’m just leaving it. On its own? Now I’m sure that solid-colour knit skirts really don’t do anything for me, period. They must be prints, in a dark colour like two previous brown prints I made from the same pattern.
I’ll add photos when my photographer returns home.

Thanks everyone!

So many nice people chimed in on post-partum depression, and even more sent me private emails to cheer me on. A friend IRL read it and said that just reading it helped her reflect on her life stress lately, as she is taking high-stakes exams for promotion. Thank you! Your words mean a lot ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m feeling better. I got a new nursing top, a new haircut, and I finished my skirt. Nothing like a feeling of accomplishment and doing something out of the ordinary to boost your spirits. The skirt is a little longer than its predecessor because I left the edges unfinished, like Cidell did recently on a tee shirt destined for weekends (sorry I can’t find the exact post) Cidell’s blog. Do you know how nice it is to wear normal, non-maternity, non-nursing clothes? Niiiice. Plus it’s been ages since I wore a skirt because I was a bike commuter and, well, they don’t mix well together, LOL.

Do you know that my favourite cuisine is Korean? I found Maangchi. Eureka! This is one of my most favourite dishes in the world, which I haven’t eaten for years since I moved out of Korea. Just last night I made the first of the two tofu dishes here, and my gfs like it so much they asked for the recipe. My husband will eat the whole plate if I’m not quick. WHOA, hey? It’s incredibly good. How did I live without it! No wonder I got depressed ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL Maangchi’s cookbooks are available as free downloads and she has an iPad app. Check her out. Also Aeri’s Kitchen for more Korean food-YouTube goodness. If you know of any more, please tell us! I just love Korean food to bits. Mmmm!

And I’ve lost 5lbs of pregnancy weight this month. A nifty little side effect of having the blues that can perk you up.

Korean Screens at BOZAR last night

My friend Magali and I had a wonderful dinner out at a little neighborhood cafรฉ, then walked to the BOZAR performance theater to see ‘Korean Screens’ which must have been named for it featuring 4 Korean contemporary dancers who performed quite a breadth of compostions. Wonderful. The last piece, an industrial-modern piece, had music that was too loud.