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Posts Tagged ‘Vegan’

A few years ago now, I spent some time studying in several communities in Belize. It was a lovely experience, and it set off an insatiable desire to live and work in diverse and distinct communities both outside and inside of Canada.

One of the my favourite aspects about travelling is all the different foods I taste, the flavours of each country, and learning to cook the food in different communities. While this recipe is not identical to any I learned in Belize, it is inspired by the sunny, fresh, and wholesome food cooked in a hard-working Maya community in the Southernmost part of Belize in the Toldeo District. The women there taught me simple ways to cook beans which I use to this day. The ingredients are simple, and the result is ever delicious.

I like to make this with many different types of beans, but black-eyed peas are a favourite with the delicate flavour of cilantro and garlic cooked they are cooked in from the start.

Beans

Ingredients – 8 servings

1 1/2 cup black-eyed peas, soaked for 8 hours at least after a boil

1 onion, dinced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pounded in a mortar and pestle

1 jalapeño pepper, minced (remove seeds if you want less spice)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup shredded cilantro leaves

1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 tsp chilli spice

5 cups water

Directions

To soak the beans, place 1 1/2 cups of the beans in 2L of water. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat for 6-8 hours or overnight (if doing overnight, you don’t need to boil them if you don’t want to). Once ready to cook drain and rinse beans.

Dice the onions, garlic, and jalapeño. If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and jalapeño together with the bouillon cube and the chilli spice.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until it is slightly browned. Add the garlic and jalapeño (and the whole mixture if you did it in the mortar and pestle). Stir and cook for a few more minutes. Add the jalapeño, chilli and the bouillon cube.

When the mixture smells fragrant, add the beans. Stir to coat, and then add the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Keep boiling for two minutes and then transfer mixture over to a slow cooker if you have one. Add the cilantro. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

If you do not have a slow cooker, continue to simmer for an hour or two or until the beans are tender.

You can continue cooking this as long as you wish, and the dish will change accordingly. At first it is somewhat stew-like, and then it will begin to appear like refried beans, with the beans breaking down more and more. You can eat the beans alone, with rice, or in tacos for example! There are really a lot of options! I hope you enjoy these.

-Sitelle

 

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I apologize for the number of sweet recipes I’ve posted of late. I’ll admit I’ve got a fairly good excuse: I’ve just moved to a new place, so my kitchen is totally barren, I did not bring any cookbooks except one, I don’t have easy access to the internet, and perhaps most importantly I’ve moved somewhere where the grocery store carries only half of the things I would normally use (let’s face it, I am actually totally blown away by what I can find in the grocery store in Hay River, although I hear it gets pretty dreary in a few months after the fall vegetables start going bad).

I simply don’t have many of the ingredients necessary to cook interesting savoury dishes, whereas I can bake many, many things simply with flour, butter, and sugar, and the odd other exciting thing such as apples although that’s not necessary, just a perk.

This time, though, we decided to invest in a few more spices, one of them being chili seasoning. With the cold weather approaching, everyone’s cravings have gone towards stews and soups. I’ve had beans done countless ways since I arrived, many times accompanied with bannock. Yesterday, we sat down and made enough chili to last us for a few weeks. What I love about chili is that it’s easy to make and is flexible depending on whatever you might have laying around. What always challenges me, though, is that my pots, no matter how big, are never big enough.

Ingredients – one large pot of chili

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp canola oil

2 carrots, diced
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2-3 Tbsp chili powder

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans (well rinced)
1 can chick peas (well rinced)
1 cup dry lima beans (soaked overnight and skins removed)
1/2 can crushed tomatoes

2 stalks celeri, diced
1 zucchini, diced
4 mushrooms, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup pickle juice (Catherine’s trick)
2 tsp brown sugar

Directions

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot with a lid. When the oil is hot, cook the onions until they are soft and then add the garlic and spices. Stir, and once fragrant add in the carrots and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, add the beans, and finally, add the tomatoes. Increase heat a bit, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 20 or so minutes while you chop the remaining veggies. Add in the pickle juice, soy sauce, and the remaining veggies, as well as the sugar if you want to include it. Simmer for a minimum of 2 hours with the lid almost fully on, and serve alone, with bannock, toasted bread, or on a bed of rice. My favourite is to top it with shredded cheddar!

-Sitelle

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As this post suggests, I am back! I must admit the fast pace of life throws me off a but here, as do all the choices availe in the super-market, and the orderly queues. Oh yeah, and Toronto feels so cold… apparently it is possible to acclimatize to new environments quite easily.

First of all I want to thank Catherine for all her wonderful contributions to Gourm(eh) while I was out of regular internet range. Catherine is alive and well in Kenya now (we traded continents, and spoke today!), and I am back in Canada. Now, it is my turn to share my west African adventures with you.

Actually, for the next little while I have many, many recipes I want to share: both Central America-inspired and Senegambia-inspired, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. I find it exciting to try new styles of cooking, and each of these recipes has so many stories and memories attached I cannot help but be excited to post them!

Akara, or bean fritters, are very common throughout West Africa. I typically purchased them from women frying them on charcoal stoves along the streets who packaged them up in ripped brown paper from flour bags and doused them in spicy sauce. Resisting the urge to eat them right away, I would carry them home and eat them from the comfort of my mat while sharing them with my friends.

Ingredients

Akara

1.5 cups black-eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 large red onion
1 jalapeno or scotch bonnet hot pepper
6 black peppercorns
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Dipping sauce

50g tomato paste
1 red onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tsp black pepper corns
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Directions

Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. The following day, squeeze or rub the skins off the beans (if a few remain, don’t worry), remove them by dumping the water out of the beans. Keep the beans in a large bowl and pass the water through a strainer to catch the skins. Add more water and continue to remove the skins and wash the beans.

Clean the onions and half the hot peppers in a food processor or blender with the beans and pulse. Pound the pepper corns and add to the mixture, and add the parsley if you want to add a bit of a unique taste. Pulse well, until a you have a thick bean paste. Add salt to taste and the remaining hot pepper if you want the fritters to be spicy (warning: scotch bonnet peppers are very, very spicy).

Heat up about a centimeter of oil in a pan with a lid over high heat. Once heat-waves show up on the oil reduce heat to medium high. Carefully add spoonfulls of the bean mixture into the hot oil. Test it with one first, and make sure to add more only when the oil is bubbling around the bean paste. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Make Akara dipping sauce (spicy):

Dice the onions and garlic. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and pounded black pepper. When the onions begin to become transparent, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the chopped hot peppers and 1 cup water. Increase heat to medium-high until mixture boils, after which reduce the heat and simmer until at least half of the water has evaporated, and the sauce thickens. Add lemon juice and season with salt.

Pour sauce over fritters, and serve as an appetiser or main course with a salad.

Hope you enjoy them!

-Sitelle (Alias: Ya Ndey)

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