Curried apple and Cheddar soup.

Every so often circumstances force us to face unpleasant truths about ourselves. I am fortunate in that I am quite delusional, but over the course of the past week I have come to the stunning realization that I might be just as annoying as anyone else when faced with even the suggestion of illness, and that my dramatics are lost on everyone I’m married to.

As the weight in my sinuses drags me down, I’ve realized that I must feed us real food if we are to survive this thing, even if the idea of cooking in that kitchen that is piled with an unnavigable stack of dirty dishes is so repellent that all I can do is fall into the couch to marathon Glee and slurp kimchi ramen out of a Styrofoam bowl and whine about how no one really loves me or he’d throw out everything we own and go to the store to buy new, clean stuff so we could start over and maybe also give the floor a wash and fold that pile of laundry that’s lived a week on the sofa that gets wrinklier and covered in more and more cat hair every day. Also it would be good if someone would make me a pot of tea and find me my lip balm.

Cheese soup might not be the healthiest thing we could do for ourselves at this tissue-littered time, but it’s restorative in that it contains all of the calories I have not been getting by only consuming bowls of cereal, instant ramen, and juice since my face decided to protest health. It’s an easy meatless meal, and despite its half-pound of delicious aged Cheddar and its scandalous amount of cream, there are good things in it. The carrots aren’t just for colour.

Curried apple and Cheddar soup

(Serves four to six.)

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups diced carrot (about four)
  • 2 cups diced apple (such as Granny Smith, about two large)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Madras curry powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups water or vegetable stock, or a combination
  • 1/2 lb. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup cream

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, melt butter. Sauté onion, carrot, apples, and garlic until golden, three to five minutes. Add curry powder, salt, turmeric, and black and cayenne peppers. Stir to coat.

Add water or stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until carrots have softened, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and purée using a blender or immersion blender. Return to heat and stir in cheese and lemon juice. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in cream, and serve hot, with a sprinkling of additional cayenne pepper, as desired.

Also because it’s been awhile here’s a photo of the cat in the laundry basket that we emptied onto the sofa and then just left in the middle of the living room.



Avocado waffles.

Breakfast is a challenge around here. We have never been very good at morning meals, or at getting up on time, or at being nice to each other before 10:00 a.m. It’s no longer possible to just skip breakfast in favour of a latte on the way to work or whatever we’re doing, because Nick needs to eat right after his morning insulin shot. I’m not a morning person, and most mornings it’s a challenge to come up with something more interesting than oatmeal, and if I have to eat another bowl of mush I am going to ugly-cry until someone else volunteers to do the morning feeding around here.

The weekends offer a bit of relief, because he can eat at any point within about a 90-minute period and no one has to leave for work at 8:00 a.m. A weekend breakfast must make up for the previous five days’ worth of hot glop. Since I’m the one making breakfast, that means waffles, which everyone knows are the greatest of all the breakfast foods. These ones have avocado in them – the taste of avocado in the finished product is very light, with a buttery sweetness, and goes magnificently with maple syrup.

This recipe is based on one I like for plain old buttermilk waffles from the Saveur Cooks Authentic American cookbook (which is completely worth its purchase price if you only make the fried chicken).

Avocado waffles

(Serves four)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado (about one small avocado)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. honey

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine egg yolks, avocado, buttermilk, and honey in a blender, and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Combine avocado mixture with dry ingredients, mixing until just combined, then add one-quarter of the egg whites to the mix. Fold batter into remaining egg whites until what results is a fluffy pale green batter cloud.

Cook in waffle maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.

Peanutty soba noodles with kale.

This past week, I have been inexplicably drawn to purple vegetables. I’ve bought turnips rimmed with a violet blush, potatoes dark as over-dyed denim, two kinds of purple yams, and that jewel-hued bunch of kale. Maybe it’s that purple suggests nutrients I’ve been lacking – it’s been a long winter of dark leafy greens and sweet potatoes and chickpeas – or maybe it’s that I am so very tired of winter and am ready to just get on with spring already. Maybe it’s that everything seems so grey and cold and apocalyptic right now, and purple suggests whimsy, a decadence we couldn’t afford if it came in any other form. Whatever the reason, if it’s purple it’s getting stuffed into my shopping bag.

You don’t have to use purple kale here; green would be perfectly lovely and probably more aesthetically pleasing – the purple with the soba and the peanut butter got a little lost. Purple desire aside, I was willing to overlook a sub-par presentation because this came together in under 15 minutes; the longest part was waiting for the water to boil. Perfect for this Meatless Monday, or anytime it feels like March or the end of the world.

Peanutty soba noodles with kale

(Serves four)

  • 2 tbsp. peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 block medium-firm tofu
  • 1/2 lb. soba noodles
  • 1/2 lb. chopped fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (natural peanut butter is best because it’s runnier)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts

In a large pan, over medium-high heat, heat oil and add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about two minutes.

Pat tofu dry with a kitchen towel and cut into cubes. Add to the pan, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add soba noodles, and cook for three minutes.

Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey in a bowl. Mix well, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

After three minutes, add kale to the pot. Cook an additional three minutes, then drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Add noodles and kale to onion mixture, and pour sauce over top. Toss with 1/2 cup of the fresh cilantro. Divide between four plates, and garnish with remaining cilantro and chopped peanuts.

This would also be good with chopped scallions and fresh bean sprouts. We might have had those things if I wasn’t only buying purple stuff.

Rapini and sausage with white beans and orecchiette

When we found out that Nick has diabetes, we were  lucky in that we were already eating mostly pretty well, most of the time, cheese and butter and cream aside, and that we didn’t have to make significant dietary changes. I threw out one stale half-bag of poor-quality elbow macaroni that I might have bought at Walmart that dark year I was an intern and had to have three roommates in a basement suite where the front door only kind of locked and where when it rained the water ran into the suite right over the electrical panel. We weren’t going to eat it anyway.

The only thing I really miss now that Nick is restricted is having pasta as a default – not being able to serve up a big plate of refined white carbs when I don’t feel like putting in a real effort, which can happen a couple of times a week, means adapting to a new kind of laziness. And the difference between pasta and something like, say risotto or sushi, which is also white and low on the glycemic index, is that pasta tends to last a couple of meals so you get that good blood-sugar spike a couple of days in a row. Fine for me, shakes and comas for him.

He can still have a small amount of pasta, of course. What he can have is likely what would be considered a normal portion size. And when you get down to comparing labels and noting the varying levels of carbohydrates, the rice pastas and whole-wheat pastas and gluten-free pastas are all similarly bad news carbohydrate-wise; a plate of the whole-wheat stuff is going to affect Captain Diabetes the same way that a plate of the delicious semolina stuff will.

So we adapted. Instead of a big plate of pasta, we have a big plate of stuff with pasta in it if there isn’t enough time to devise a huge and clever feast, or if the idea of opening a cupboard is too daunting to even consider. Here is one of those meals. It calls for blanching, which may qualify as a step that’s too daunting, but it’s really nothing. I promise.

Rapini and sausage with white beans and orecchiette

(Serves four.)

  • 1 lb. rapini, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked orecchiette pasta
  • 1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 19 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop chopped rapini in, and boil for two to three minutes until wilted and brightened in colour. Remove rapini from water, reserving liquid, and plunge into a large bowl of icy water. Set aside.

Return the pot to the heat and bring water back up to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook onions until translucent. Add garlic, then crumble sausage into the pan. Stir with a wooden spoon, breaking the meat up as you go. Add red pepper flakes and tomato paste and continue moving the meat around the pan.

When the water has come to a boil, add pasta and boil until al denté, about eight minutes.

Drain and then add rapini to the pan, stirring to coat in pan juices. As pasta finishes cooking, add beans and lemon zest and juice, then add pasta. Reserve some of the pasta water in case the pan becomes too dry.

Add parsley and cheese. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve with additional cheese.

Guest post from South America: Maracuya Sour

This post comes from Ayngelina of Bacon is Magic, which is a blog we absolutely need right now. Look her up, and live vicariously through her as she has adventures in warmer climates while the rest of us toil up here in the cold. Here. Have a cocktail.

I’ve been traveling through Latin America for ten months, but while saving for the trip back in Canada I was glued to this site as I vowed not to eat out but still to eat well. Well fed, flat broke was a savior as I share the love for sriracha and found one of my favourite recipes, the bulgur risotto.

So when I landed in South America, I wanted to give something back, to contribute a recipe to show you can both eat AND drink well at home and on the road.

Mojitos are so popular now that they’re almost banal and while cairpirinhas will likely be this summer’s big drink,  you can stay one step ahead of the hipster crowd with the hottest drink in South America – the pisco sour, specifically the maracuya (passion fruit) pisco sour.

I  fell in love with this drink when I landed in Peru,  but it’s price hurt my heart like a scorned lover. At $6 a glass, it really cut into my budget of $30 a day. But when I arrived in Cusco I landed a job working at a hostel and there learned how to make this drink on my own which turns out to be so cheap and easy that I asked my co-worker, Miguel, to make one for me so I could share it with you.

Maracuya Pisco Sour

1. In a blender, place 8 ice cubes and 2 oz. of frozen maracuya (the size of two ice cubes).

2. Add 6 oz. pisco alcohol and 2 oz. simple sugar syrup.

3. Add one egg white.

Note: In South America they only use very fresh eggs for pisco sours, if you are uncomfortable with raw egg white you can make it without, it will simply be a little less frothy so blend it a bit longer

4. Blend for a full minute and pour into two glasses. At this point you can top the traditional way with bitters, which don’t add much flavour – it’s more common for it to be topped with cinnamon.

5. Enjoy with someone special!




Ayngelina left a great job, boyfriend, apartment and friends to find inspiration in Latin America. Follow her adventures on her blog Bacon is Magic, on Facebook or Twitter.