Friday, June 4, 2010

pacific northwest: musings

Here are the top ten reasons why we should all move to Portland:

1. The farmer's market is the best I've ever seen. I nearly died.
2. The world's largest independent bookstore. It's real and it's amazing.
3. Washington Park has over 15 miles of trails in one of the biggest urban green spaces in North America.
4. Food carts. Portland has over 450. Enough said.
5. Drivers are courteous towards cyclists and pedestrians. no need to cheat death all the time!
6. a mere one hour drive to Cannon Beach.
7. Pine state biscuits. In retrospect actually, this maybe should have been listed as number 1.
8. everything is more magical there.
9. people of portland love burritos and food in large bowls. i do too.
10. the willamette river, bike lanes across the bridge, pizza made with squash sauce...... GLORY AWAITS!

i haven't posted any recipes in awhile but spring is upon us out west. look out for upcoming portland-inspired recipes:
- pickled beets with pomegranate and chai spice
- my homemade granola
- rhubarb jam

well, what are you waiting for??!

dreaming of portland,


Saturday, March 27, 2010


here is the best recipe for baked beans on the planet. it makes me feel like i'm 8 years old again because it tastes just like these beans from a deli in toronto that i would order with a side of tiny hot dogs. (in this case, side serving of hot dogs optional).

you need:
1 pound dried great northern beans
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2 slices of thick cut bacon, sliced into chunks
1/2 dried chipotle pepper (optional)

this takes pretty much all day, so best to do it when you are sitting at home. for instance, i am spending this entire day learning property law / the most boring things in the universe. but i take comfort in knowing that a tasty treat is baking in my oven for later.

first things first. rinse the beans. put them in a large pot (one that is oven-safe, for later. either a dutch oven or cast iron pot or something all metal) and add enough water to cover them. bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook until they are softened (about an hour).

then, mix up all the ingredients except the bacon in a bowl. add to the beans. it is okay to have leftover water in the pot, since you will be adding water anyway. then, add the bacon, stir it all up, and add enough water to cover everything. cover the top of the pot with aluminum foil and place the lid on top.

bake in the oven at 300F. check on the beans every hour and a half or so to make sure that the beans haven't dried out. if they are dry but not done, add more water as you go. it will take 6 hours for these to cook down into the most perfect, sauciest, tastiest beans in the world.


in conclusion, after you have made these beans, if someone says to you - 'how you livin???', you will now be able to respond with.....'LARGE!'


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oxtail Stew

Okay Folks,

This is a serious one. This is ideal if you are unemployed, underemployed, self-employed, or if you spend a lot of time at home for some other reason. It is also good if you are low on cash and have a desire to eat delicious that falls off the bone. This is a good one for getting in touch with the animal spirits. The ingredients are quite flexible, but the proportions and fundamentals are important.

Cooking Time: 2 Days, ideally.
Portions: a small hungry army


  • You can buy this from an "ethnic" butcher of some sort, search it out, not always in stock. Make this stew when you find it being sold somehwere. You can freeze it and thaw it for later use. Seize the day. It is usually relatively inexpensive, as far a meat goes.
  • It is also possible to substitute the meat with another kind, and keep the same idea, but . . . . alas you can not tell people you are making "ox-tail." A good substitution would be stew beef with the bone in or lamb shoulder cut up into chunks. If you are using beef or lamb of a stewing nature, reduce the simmering time to something more like 1.5 or 2 hours. You want the meat to fall off the bone, but you do not want to destroy the meat itself. There is such thing as too much of a good thing, even when that thing is slow cooking.
  • You'll find ox-tail either whole (about 1.5 feet long) or cut in half. Ask the butcher to cut your ox-tail up into chunks of a biggish size. If you want to feed more people, buy a big one or two small ones, if you want to feed less buy a small one.
carrots - a bunch
onions - a bunch
fresh thyme - a lot
garlic - a bunch of cloves
tomatoes - a bunch of fresh ones or a big can or two of whole ones)
red lentils - a cup
butter or oil - just a little
light green long peppers (or something similar very mild spice) - three or so
jalapano - one or two, depending on your preference
potatoes - totally optional (I don't really like then myself, but to each their own)
habanero pepper or some kind of intense hot sauce - if it suits you and you want to feel the burn
salt, pepper - not too much salt, be careful, you can't put it back in the jar!
water - various quantities
spices - ideally Jamaican curry powder sold in large quantities (such as Cool Runnings brand)
  1. You can also make your own if you know what you are doing: tumeric, cumin, allspice, etc, but I'd trust the Jamaicans to work their magic.

Heat up a BIG HEAVY BOTTOM pot to medium. Cut up a whole bunch of onions, very coarsely. Fry them in some heated but not burning olive oil or butter (not too much). Fry on medium for a bit. While the pot is hot add the ox to the onions. Cook the outside of the meat, stirring on occasion. Add carrots and potatoes (in largeish chunks). Make sure not to burn anything, but you want to be getting the heat up and into the ingredients. This whole thing should take a little while (10-15 min.) You can cover it, and it may start to get liquid in the bottom, depending on how it works out. If that happens, cool, great, reduce heat for a while and let simmer. Add peppers. If it is looking dry on the bottom of the pan, avoid burning by adding water, red wine and/or canned tomatoes slowly. Slowly add liquid until you have a saucy thing going on. Take about 20 little sprigs of thyme and strip the leaves off into the pot one at a time, toss the twig bits. Add garlic, crushed or cut up reasonably small. Add A couple of table spoons of spices as we discussed, depending on your preferences. Salt, pepper. Wash your red lentils in cold water, drain, and add. Add more water as needed (the lentils will take water).

The order of the actions is not highly important. Onions and meat first for sure. Don't let anything burn. Get the heat up, but do not settle into a rolling boil. Bring down heat once you have everything in the pot. Stir it up. Enjoy the process.

Now, clean up your cooking station, and let the puppy cook for a LONG TIME on VERY LOW. We are talking like 4 hours or more if you like. Add water as needed. Do not burn anything on the bottom. Usually 4 hours will do it good. You can also mess around with getting it up to a boil, and leaving it to cool on the stove for a hour or three while you go out and do something else, and then re-heating it and simmer it again. If you are using lamb on the bone instead, cook for much less time, like one hour of simmering or until the meat falls of the bone. Stew beef with the bone in - maybe 1.5 or two hours of simmering, it depends.

At this point the meat, of whatever sort, should fall of the bone more or less with the use of a fork. You may have somewhat over shot if you can no longer distinguish the meat chunks, but that is not the end of the world. When you are satisfied, stop cooking and let it cool completely. Leave it out on the stove for a while to cool off, then store in the pot, in the fridge, while time passes. When it has cooled completely, skim as much of the of fat off the surface as you can with a spoon or a ladle.

Reheat thoroughly (probably the next day) and enjoy this carnivorous feast. You can serve it with hot sauce and sour cream or yogurt, and definitely something bread-ish like pita or white bread or ROTI in large quantities.


The long slow cooking brings out the flavour and turns a very tough hard-assed cut of meat into a soft and tender delicacy. It also semi-liquefies the nutrient-rich bone marrow and some of the cartilage-type stuff (good for those of you with joint problems!) The key here is to cook it on low, essentially for ever. This is an all-day thing, or a least an afternoon thing. It is also good to eat a sandwich while or before cooking, so you don't get hungry and try to eat the ingredients.

Proportionally, you will want it to be heavy on the meat and onions, with lots of taste and sauce. Most of the other vegetable ingredients will become broken down by all the cooking. It can be thick or thin, re water and lentil quantity, as desired. It works well as a thick sludge or as a brothy kind of soup. It works very well to be cooked in large quantity and reheated as needed over the week. Because of the large quantity and all the cooking, this stew will take quite a lot of spicing and not become deadly hot, so . . . hold the course. You can always cool it down with yogurt or sour cream.

Invite a large group of people over. Eat as a soup with a spoon. Encourage the use use of fingers to eat the meat and get at the good stuff. Add hot sauce as needed. Bring your appetite and leave your meat-on-the-bone prejudices at the door.

Dr. Rocker

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

this is for the professor

dear friends but especially, prof. tata:

long awaited - the recipe for what is commonly referred to as the lentil/rice/onion delight. however, a few people (including my mother and mostly all other lebanese people) called it mujadra.

here is what you need:
2 cups brown lentils (or those small black ones which are really good. i have been using those lately)
1/2 cup rice (i use brown but you can use white)
4 cups water
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp allspice
salt and pepper to taste
about 6 onions (or more if you are feeling really funky)
lotsa olive oil

this is the easiest thing on earth to prepare.

washing the lentils and rice are essential. wash first, cook later.

boil the water. add the lentils and rice at the same time if you are using brown rice. cover and lower the heat. (if you are using white, add it to the pot after 15 minutes). let cook for 15 minutes. add the cumin and allspice and salt. stir and cover, cooking on low heat until the lentils and rice are cooked and there is no water left. (if you find that the lentils/rice arent cooked but there is no water left - do not fear. add a bit more as you go).

here is the trick - IMMEDIATELY AFTER you start cooking, cut all of the onions into thin strips. in a large pan with a bunch of oil, cook the onions on low heat until they are brown and basically caramelized. they should be super soft. this will take awhile (at least 40 minutes). you may even want to start on this first, depending on how proactive you are feeling or how hungry you are.

serve with the succulent onions over top of the lentils.

for the "true experience", serve this with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, mint springs, pita (for scooping - no forks allowed for this dish) and labne. you could also make a yogurt sauce with chopped cucumber, mint, and black pepper.

there you have it, folks.

this makes a lot of lentils and is good for leftovers. if you want less food (weird?), cut it in half.

Monday, March 8, 2010

curry coconut soup with chickpeas and veggies

hey fools,
i made this yesterday whilst in a post-drunk, pre-drunk daze and it was amazing. warm, comforting, interesting -- all that you could want out of a homemade hangover dish.

die zulaten:
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces), chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
das kochrezept:

Heat the oil over medium heat.
Add the onion, bell pepper, and chili; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. [Note: I think if you wanted to "veg it up" you could also totally add more veggies.]
Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. [Note 2: I had no garlic and substituted ginger, which I thought was really good.]
Add the broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, curry powder, salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

spelt + kale stew = a spicy delight

dear internet friends,

today was a day of delicious eating. if you are in the mood for something hearty yet not heavy, spicy but flavourful... here is what you should do. acquire the following:

1 large-ish onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 small red thai chili peppers (or substitute with dried red pepper flakes)
1 tsp chili powder
a couple of fingerling potatoes (the most delicious kind)
1 carrot
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup spelt berries (farro)
4 cups broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes
half bunch of kale
1 cup ish savoy cabbage

sautee the onion, garlic and hot peppers in olive oil. when soft, add the chili powder, chopped potatoes and carrot. keep cooking on medium for another 5 minutes or so. add the can of tomatoes, spelt and the broth and a bit of salt. cover and bring to a boil, then cook on low heat until the spelt is soft (45 minutes ish if you get unhulled, which is healthier). add the chickpeas near the end of that time. Then once everything is pretty well cooked, add the chopped cabbage and kale and keep cooking on low until they wilt.


i ate this with crumbled sheep's feta on top and am immensely satisfied.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Casey's Red Lentils

Dear citchenites,
I am back in Marxist town and, fear not, the hilarious leftist styles are still ablaze. Yesterday, I decided to join them in their style-abyss by wearing my giant hippie/Canuck mountain boots with my skinny black jeans. It was, if I do say so myself, pretty swell. I also saw the super interesting Robert McRuer speak about Bad Education and the intersections between crip theory and queer theory. He is hella cool; you should check him out.

Anyways, now I am cleaning out my email box and thought I would post the following, which the Doctor gracefully sent to me a couple months ago.

In the words of the Dr., 'nuff love,
Prof. Tata

Casey's Red lentils

Here are the basic ingredients

- red lentils
- leeks or onions - a bunch
- lots of peppers, not too important, I like the narrow light green ones that are slightly spicy
- canned chopped tomatoes, or the real thing one or two cans
- garlic
- butter
- some curry powder OR in lieu of that a mix of lots of tumeric, some ground corriander seed, a bit of cumin, a touch of allspice, a some of something hot but not too much of the hot. Some chipotle pepper sauce or a little bit of some dried chipotle peppers could do well as a nice mild smokey hot ingredient. A little salt (careful!) And a healthly amount of fresh pepper.
- maybe a jalipenio or a few little red chillies
- fresh corriander and yogurt at the end
- water or veg or chicken stock

The key with this soup is, as with all soups and foods, is to get the balance of ingredients right.

It all depends on how much you are making in total

Start off with butter (hot but not burning) - a good liberal amount. You don't want to give everyone heart attacks, but this is what is going to make the soup good. Imagine you are me when making this an use my slightly exuberant sense of proportions, all the while keeping one foot in the door of balance and proportion. Fry up those leeks (lots of em and well-washed). This is the essence of the soup.

Good them well, and enjoy the smell.

Add a bunch of peppers and garlic. Then add lentils (a normal amount not too too much you are not making cement here!) and spice. Quickly, before anything starts sticking or burning add the can or two of tomatoes with the juice. Add more spices as required. Be liberal with the tumeric.

Add some water or ideally some great fresh chicken stock or veggie stock (not necessary though), until you get to a consistency where the lentils do not make it way too thick. At the same time, you are not not making water soup here.

Cook for about twenty minutes or until the lentils are well cooked. Bring on lots of chopped coriander leaves and yogurt to put on top to cool it down and green it out. Serve with very good fresh bread heated in the oven with more butter, and red wine in good proportion.

If you are in a meat mood, add a few sausages to this at the frying stage, and depending on the grease factor reduce the amount of butter.

And that's it!

Nuff love,