Sunday, January 13, 2008

Adventures and Leftovers

As per Sarah's last post, I made sushi for our recent family gathering. I needed to pick up a few Asian specialty items, especially the inari "bags" for Sarah's favourite sushi. However, going to our usual Asian market, Kowloon, is a trip downtown and isn't too easy on the stomach. It is smelly, dirty and can be crowded. The last time we went, it contained a very strong odour of, well, to put it bluntly, feces, which doesn't really inspire any sort of culinary adventure in me. Pete and I had heard rumours of a new Asian market in the East end through a woman at work*, but she has since moved to California and we were left only with our sketchy memories of her vague directions.

I wanted to stop in at Lush's St Laurent location and pick up some vegan deals, and afterwards Pete drove through the progressively worsening snowstorm and found the mythical clean and tidy Asian grocery mecca we once could have only dreamed about - Uni Mart. It was bright, spotless, well-stocked and relatively odourless. I picked out a basket of items and we made our way to the cash. After ringing us through, we were told to go to Cash #1 for our "free gift". How exciting! I'm not sure what we did to deserve one, but free stuff is always fun. The woman at Cash #1 took our receipt, and reached down and lifted a HUGE can of oysters onto the counter. Oh no. How did I explain that I didn't want her free gift? I told her that we didn't eat animals, so she reached down again and brought up a bag of frozen shrimp. Uh, no thank you, really. I saw a stack of hundreds of packages of little bundles of yam noodles in the corner and pointed at it. She shook her head at me, said "Just for fondue!" like I was a crazy woman and handed me a package. I thanked her many times, smiling. Anyway, if you're in the Ottawa area and want great deals on anything for your Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese cooking, check out Uni Mart. Just be warned about their generous gifts.

I made a soup with my newly acquired udon noodles, lotus root, tofu and enoki mushrooms.

Later in the week, I made more dishes from the Great Tome** of Vegan Cooking - Veganomicon. Here is Penne Vodka. I like the sauce so much more that a run-of-the-mill marinara.

There were leftover mashed potatoes wallowing in the fridge, so I tried Home-style Potato Rolls. They were chewy dough-y goodness. The recipe made so many rolls that I should have stashed some in the freezer, but didn't think of it at the time.

I had cooked a batch of chickpeas and wanted to use them up, so I tried Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas, over the suggested Poppy-Seed Polenta. This was so amazing, I would suggest it for any eggplant-haters in your life - they will realize the errors of their ways. The eggplant melted in your mouth and the flavours were amazing.

* This woman at work, who came to Canada from China about eight to ten years ago, saw me making tea at work in a stainless steel teapot and found it ABSOLUTELY imperative that I understood to NEVER cook snake in metal. Glass or ceramic only. Ya, snake. I made sure that she was talking about the reptile. Yep. I assured her that I never would.

** The definition of tome is "often one volume of a multi-volume scholarly work". I hope that I eventually have a whole bookshelf of Isa and Terry's works.


Jan Scholl said...

I have never had lotus root before. Can you describe the taste and texture. And with an allergy to mushrooms-what would you consider a good substitute particularly for the texture? I pass on so many recipes because I have never know a good think to replace them with.

BTW-when I was in hospital recently and told them I was vegetarian-they brought me beef broth and boiled eggs.

Anonymous said...

I'm continually astounded by people's lack of understanding when a person says they don't eat animals, or things that come from animals. Sometimes I wonder if people have any idea what they're eating!

I want to devour that Penne Vodka on my screen! It's flagged on my V-con to be made very soon.

Vegan_Noodle said...

That lotus root looks so cool. Did you like the taste of it? Never experimented with it myself.

And how can you go wrong with vodka in sauce? I will have to try that one.

Sarah said...

I laughed so hard at this and am jealous that you got the wit in our family :(

Tracy said...

Hi everyone! Jan, the texture of lotus root is a lot like raw potato. I stir-fried these before placing them on the soup. They are really good stir-fried with a little oil, soy sauce, sugar and paprika or chili powder.
And hospital food is definitely one reason that I avoid hospitals :)

Tracy said...

Oh and mushrooms - I'm not sure there is a substitute. You could try dried Chinese black fungus, but I'm not sure if you would be allergic to that too.

Carrie™ said...

I'm one of the non-lovers of eggplant. Oh, I've tried. Numerous times over the years and it's just not my thing. I'm dying to get V-Con and you may have just convinced me to try eggplant yet again. The penne with vodka sauce will take no persuasion whatsoever!