Shepherding those pesky lentils into a line – er, I mean pie.

music to read by :: Shepherd (Genesis)

One of our favourite cold weather foods, here at casa vassal, is my veggie shepherd’s pie. Why? Because it is limitless in it’s versatility, and can be customized for a variety of dietary needs.

Except for meat eaters, of course. Then it just becomes regular ol’ shepherd’s pie. And that’s not what it’s all about today.

I’m pretty sure I started out, eons ago, with a recipe. Something tells me it might have been from a magazine, but I’m not sure anymore. I work this shepherd’s pie like most my meals, doing a little something I like to call “cooking”; using what I have on hand, and flavouring to taste.

So go, now! and grab yourself some brown lentils. Do they *have* to be brown? No. Go wild! Use the green ones! Mix them up, if you’re feeling crazy! Continue reading


Sometimes, simple is best :: rice and falafel

music to read by :: Piya Re (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)

Many moons ago, we found our way to Egypt and spent some time hanging in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, with a sail up the Nile, sleeping on a felucca, not to mention swimming. Yes, we swam in the Nile. Yes, it was February. Yes, it was cold. And yes, it was clean, as we were not swimming anywhere near a large urban center. And frankly, we stank.

Giza Plateau, photo par moi

We ate in fancy restaurants, hotel restaurants, were cooked for by the captain of the felucca, ate on a barge, and even ventured into a Kentucky Fried Chicken run by the blind. For the record, it was the best chicken I ever ate.

But my favourite meal was some type of  ‘peasant’ food consisting of rice, lentils, beans (?), sauce, hot sauce, and who knows what else. We ate it most days in Cairo, tho getting it meant running across 8 lanes of Egyptian traffic, waiting in line with locals, and then pointing, as the workers didn’t speak english. Our hotel staff laughed at us as they could not believe we north americans would rather eat ‘peasant’ food instead of in one of the more trendy restaurants.

Sometimes, simple food is just better food. Continue reading


Vegetarian with bacon, please

music to read by :: True Vegetarian (Clint Eastwood and General Saint)

Now, before some people get all up my business about this, I was a vegetarian for many, many years. And for a brief moment in time, also vegan.

Then I was pregnant and all bets were off.

And yes, I know, it is possible to be vegetarian, pregnant, and healthy. But not if you were me.

Because, you see, from about 4 weeks to the very morning I went into labour, I had morning sickness.

Except let’s call it … oh, I don’t know … hey! I’m awake sickness! Seriously, I weighed less at full term that I did prior to becoming pregnant.

But because I made the decision to eat meat and consume dairy I managed to stay somewhat healthy and consume enough of what my daughter needed to pop out at close to 9lbs, and grow to be almost as tall as I am  – at 9yo.

One of my favourite vertical moments from the pregnancy, was eating out with friends. The hubby ordered a vegetarian burger – with bacon. The cook came to our table before preparing our food to verify the order and to check to see if my husband was sane. His response to the cook was, “hey, you make a damn good veggie burger and I like bacon.”

Vegetarian Pizza with Bacon

This is a quick and easy dough that requires no rising. So yay! Pizza can be an anytime meal! Also, I have no counter space, so I make this (and all my bread products, frankly) in one bowl, with no turning out for kneading. You’ll need …. Continue reading


Some days you just have to yell, “it’s tomato soup makin’ time!”

…and when you wake up on an April Monday morning to a snow covered magnolia, that’s the day.

Making tomato soup is the best simply because anything goes; simple or chunky, rice, pasta, or not, spicey, or plain. It’s all good. Tomato soup – like most soups – requires no measuring so I am all over that. Play around with what you have on hand and as long as you keep to a few constants, you will always have amazing tomato soup in as little as one hour.

Holy Crap It Snowed Tomato Soup

Start with a few veggies, but always onion. Chop, Chop, Chop. I’ve done this with white potatoes and with sweet potatoes in the past, but last night’s soup used a carrot and celery base.

Melt about a tablespoon of unsalted homemade butter (or that store bought stuff) in your soup makin’ pot, and toss in a dash of flour if you are feeling a thickened soup.

Stir, stir, stir, over medium heat, until the veggies are good and coated with the butter, and then let them settle for a few minutes, or as long as it takes you to roughly chop your tomatoes.

I always use roma tomatoes. If you have other types on hand, mix them up – plum tomatoes are great to add.


How much? It depends on how much soup you are making. I think I put in 6 chopped tomatoes. Three of us ate and there is enough left over for me to have a yummy lunch today.

Stir, stir, stir, for a few minutes, the add some broth. This part is pretty flexible depending on what type of soup you are going for. I mostly use a veggie broth or an onion broth, rarely a meat based on. Once, all I had was homemade chicken broth, so I just used water and upped the seasonings.

So, add the broth ensuring the veggies are completely covered, but be warned if you add too much liquid you will have a more liquid-y soup.

Add onion greens and garlic greens. (do it! yum!)

Cover and let simmer until all your veggies are cooked.

Use an immersion blender (if ya got one) and blend up all that goodness right in the pot, then grind in some pepper.

Add chopped fresh basil. You can add other fresh herbs at this point, but definitely the basil.

Now add a dollop of balsamic vinegar. Do it.

(Or, if you are going for a different style of tomato soup, skip the herbs and such and add some chile peppers.)

Let the soup simmer for 5-10 minutes to absorb your seasonings, but not too long.

Serve. Garnish if desired.