Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Milk Soup

I’m really starting to get into this whole ‘living in a house’ thing – being able to walk two paces without tripping over or bumping into something or someone is a refreshing change. Previous to living in the RV I’d been a condo and apartment dweller for the better part of two decades, since I moved away from the parental nest at age 18. This span of time gave me plenty of experience in the art of making do with limited closet space (which always proved to be the ultimate first world problem for this clothes hoarder), living in close proximity to others (including cats and their littery, feathery, toy-mousey paraphernalia), and of course, cooking in very small kitchens – which I waxed on about ad naseum during those 7 sanity-testing months at the trailer park!
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So yeah – I grew more than accustomed to confined interior living spaces. Those years of living in high rises also inured me to life without access to immediate outdoor space. Yes, there were public parks around where I lived at various points, and a couple places had a small patio (one of which accompanied a 26th-floor suite and was so high off the ground it caused vertigo if you dared look over the edge). But living above ground level as I did meant that having access to an actual yard just wasn’t on the menu. I didn’t mind too much at that point – convenient access to a million coffee shops, restaurants and places to shop was more of a priority. In my mind, yards were the mein of suburbanites – and goodness knows I wasn’t one of those!
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It was only when we moved into the house – in the suburbs, the horror! – that I realized how out of touch I was with the notion of having a yard – an actual plot of grass that only we (and assorted neighbourhood wildlife and possibly the odd eccentric searching for cans) have access to. The first couple of weeks we were here I only went into the backyard for practical reasons – i.e. to pick up dog poop. Partially it was the rain, but the real issue was that I didn’t know what to do with all that space! I’m not making this up – it had been such a long time since I’d been privy to a backyard that at first all I could do was shuffle around uncertainly back there, ineffectually contemplating the dilapidated shed.
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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve impressed myself. Determined to overcome my silly yard trepidation, I suited up in a pair of garden gloves and rubber boots, and armed with a spade and rake undertook the process of weeding the garden beds. Fifteen minute backyard sessions have gradually lengthened into one and two hour weed-pulling fests. Despite various squirrels giving me the stink eye, at moments I’ve even felt quite peaceful and meditative back there, ankle deep in dirt!
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Earlier in the week as I gazed into the produce drawer in the fridge, I got to thinking, ‘I should grow some of these vegetable things myself’. For a time I was really into playing Farmville – it can’t be that much different, right? Who knows, maybe this time next year this blog will have done a 180 and feature dishes that use produce grown in my own backyard – more improbable things have happened (did I mention I have a baby and live in the suburbs?)! In the meantime, why not try this easy, vegan and super flavourful soup on for size? Yes, it’s STILL  soup weather here on the West Coast, where Spring showers continue unabated. This recipe features caramelized roasted carrots, spices, fresh ginger and smooth coconut milk was the ideal reward after all my labours out back, tilling the soil 🙂
Recipe: Roasted Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Milk Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 green onions, chopped (optional for garnish)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place carrots in an oven-proof dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 20-30 minutes – turning carrots over half way through – or until carrots are tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots and saute until soft and translucent.

3. Add garlic and ginger and saute just until golden brown.

4. Add red pepper flakes, cinnamon, paprika and coriander and stir until spices coat other ingredients.

5. Add vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce to a simmer.

6. Once carrots are cool enough to handle, chop into smallish pieces, discarding of ends. Add to saucepan.

7. Let soup simmer partially covered for 15-20 minutes.

8. Using an immersion blender, puree until soup is smooth. Alternately you can transfer soup to a conventional blender to puree, then return soup to saucepan.

9. Add coconut milk and stir to warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

10. Serve, topping each portion with chopped green onions. Eat!

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Springtime French Green Lentil and Pearl Barley Soup

In my last post I detailed a few of the nefarious finds we’ve made at our new house: the elaborate spider’s nest in the wall, the sketchy crow bar marks on the front door, the kitschy linoleum underlying the lurid teal carpet in the bedroom, both of which are now on their way to the municipal waste station. The weirdness of this flooring situation didn’t hit me until last night. Why was there linoleum in the bedroom to begin with – was that a thing in the late 1960s? And was covering it with teal carpet really the best solution? Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste. That being said, the creative mind responsible for said carpet would likely be equally offended by my design sense .

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It’s not my intention to sound like a big old squeaky wheel about the house – believe me, I am more than relieved to be out of the RV even if it means dodging the odd Black Widow and seeing various shades of teal wherever I look. But there’s one last undesirable feature of the house I’d like to mention. The toilet. Yes, I bring up toilets way too often on this blog. But it’s worth mention that, in a cruel twist of fate – after 7 1/2 months of persevering with the clog-prone septic system in the RV – the toilet in the house is… well, I’ll be nice and say it has personality. Indeed, it makes disturbing gurgling sounds, its water surges threatening toward the rim, it flushes ‘normally’ only if you hold the lever down just so. I’m starting to think I must have been an incompetent plumber in a previous life, and am paying my due now via a series of faulty toilets.

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The house has also coughed up some pretty cool booty (as in stuff, not the other kind). My SO has actually owned this house for several years, but was renting it to his sister until we moved in last month. Evidently he’d used the cupboards in the laundry room as a dumping ground for miscellaneous junk before he moved out years ago, because when I went to clean out said cupboards I unearthed – amongst several pieces of ancient Tupperware – an ice cream maker straight from the 1980s (remember when these were all the rage?), an unused wok (score) and bafflingly, a single leather glove – which made me wonder if I had a piece of forensic evidence on my hands.

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Over the weekend we had a very welcome spate of warm, dry weather here in the Lower Mainland ,which prompted everyone to simultaneously shed their fleece and Gore-Tex and flee into the out-of-doors. This week, however, the Spring showers returned, putting me back in the mood for warm food. The seasonal ingredients that are beginning to make an appearance in grocery stores inspired me to whip up this easy springtime soup featuring French green lentils, pearl barley, sweet carrots, shallots, leeks, white mushrooms, spring onions, lemon and fresh basil! Apart from asparagus (which I’ve yet to come across unfortunately), nothing heralds the arrival of Spring like lemon and fresh herbs 🙂

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Recipe: Springtime French Green Lentil and Pearl Barley Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup french green lentils, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley, uncooked (omit or substitute lentils if you’re GF)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek, finely chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 small carrots, diced into 1/4″ thick medallions
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 5 cups vegetable stock (I used low sodium)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (dark and light green parts only), plus a bit more for garnish
  • 4-5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Place dried lentils and barley in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 20-30 minutes or until lentils and barley are tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside until needed.

2. In a large saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add shallots, leeks and carrots and saute until tender.

3. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika and stir just until garlic is golden brown.

3. Add in cooked lentils, barley and zucchini and stir until everything is combined.

4. Add vegetable stock and bring to a gentle boil.

5. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook until zucchini is tender (or preferably longer to let flavours develop). Taste and season with salt and pepper.

6. Just before serving, stir in lemon juice, green onions, and basil.

7. Serve, topping each portions with chopped green onions and lemon zest. Eat!

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‘Pretty in Pink’ Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad | With Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing

We’ve settled in nicely at the trailer park here in the Lower Mainland. After a few long months of being cooped up inside the trailer in the Okanagan, where it was too cold to spend much time outdoors, Hunter (now a bona fide toddler) is enjoying getting outside on a daily basis and practicing his walking skills in his new gumboots. I’m not a huge fan of the location of the park as we’re right off the highway and have to listen to traffic noise all day and night, but apart from that it’s a decent place to stay until we can ditch the Gypsy Roller (sorry, girl) and move into an honest to goodness house in a few weeks time.

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In a sense our impending move into a house makes me feel like we’re defecting from a sort of secret society. While the last 6 or so months have given me some interesting insights into the trailer park subculture, I have felt a touch cut off from the ‘real’ world living in such a tiny space, behind gated entranceways and amongst folks several decades our senior. The house we’ll be moving into isn’t big, but it will surely feel like a mansion by comparison!

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Full-timers (those who use their RV as a permanent home) have a name for people who, like us, live in a house and use their RV as temporary accommodations or to travel in a few months of the year: slabbers – as in, the concrete slab houses are built on. I can’t help but feel this term carries with it a tone of condescension or disapproval, as though we don’t have what it takes to make a full-fledged commitment to the so-called ‘RV-lifestyle’. But in a way I can understand why the full-timers might set themselves apart from us slabbers, as it does take a good deal of mettle to make a home out of an RV!

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We’ve already marked several occasions in the Gypsy Roller (Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s and each of our birthdays) and as of tomorrow we’ll be able to add Valentine’s Day to the list. Truth be told, I had zero intention of pitching this recipe as a Valentine’s dish – until, that is, I tossed the ingredients together and the juices of the grated cabbage and carrot combined and turned the whole thing a festive pink – Pretty in Pink, in fact, because you know I can’t resist a reference to my favourite decade, the 1980s! At any rate, this rice noodle salad has more going for it than just looks. It’s crunchy, refreshing, sweet and zesty – and more filling that you’d expect of a rice noodle salad (the toasted cashews give it some added bulk). If you don’t serve it on Valentine’s Day then try it another time for lunch or as a light dinner. And oh ya, it’s vegan and gluten free 🙂

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Recipe: ‘Pretty in Pink’ Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad | With Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Sweet and Tangy Sesame Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons pure sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s All Purpose Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sambal olek

Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad

  • Approx. 100g vermicelli rice noodles (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup purple cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small carrot, finely shredded
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely sliced
  • 5 green onions, minced (dark and light green parts only)
  • 1/3 cup cashews (plus a few more for garnish)

Method:

Prepare toasted cashews: Place cashews in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. When cashews are cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces. Set aside until needed.

Prepare vermicelli rice noodles: Cook noodles according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside until needed.

Prepare Sweet and Tangy Sesame Dressing: In a medium salad bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Finish salad: Place cooked rice noodles, cabbage and carrots, celery, green onions and cashews in salad bowl and toss gently to combine with dressing.

Serve, topping each portion with more chopped cashews. Eat!

Tip: If you intend to store this salad in the fridge, keep the toasted cashews separate and add them immediately before serving. This way they won’t turn soft.

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{Lazy} Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

The way we keep track of and catalogue recipes has changed remarkably over the last twenty odd years. When I was younger – and for generations preceding mine – recipe boxes were the standard system of organization. I distinctly remember the one in our household, made of a vintage plastic and stuffed to the gills with well worn index cards and recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines. The recipe box method offered a tangible, phsyical artifact – but this artifact was at the mercy of being lost, destroyed or stolen. When a recipe box disappears, a lot of history and tradition necessarily disappear with it.

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These days things are different – with more people going online to source recipes, the recipe box has become somewhat obsolete. Larger sites like Epicurious and Martha Stewart allow you to save favourite recipes to a digital recipe box, which is handy (unless you’re like me and can never remember the password for your account). But what if you visit a number of different sites and blogs to access recipes? What’s the best way to stay organized then?

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Pinterest offers a decent solution – whenever I come across a recipe I like I automatically pin it to one of my boards. But seeing as all it takes is a click of a button to pin a recipe, I tend to go overboard – meaning I have hundreds (possibly thousands) of recipes pinned, and the ones I’ve tried and liked tend to get lost in the morass. And what to do with the recipes my mum emails to me – the ones I intend to try at some point in the future? With so much of our recipe-sourcing happening online, how do our favourites – the tried and true recipes we go back to time and time again – get passed along to subsequent generations now that handwritten recipe cards are mostly a thing of the past?

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I suppose we could print our favourite recipes and store them somewhere for posterity – a nice idea, but one that smacks of something I’d probably never get around to doing. I’m not particularly technologically inclined, so maybe a solution already exists to these questions and I’m just not aware of it. Regardless, in the coming years it will be interesting to see how recipes get passed down through generations, and whether this happens as regularly as it once did.

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I bring all this up because a variation of this shepherd’s pie recipe once existed in handwritten form – likely copied from a newspaper or magazine and mailed to me by my mum 10 or so years ago. This is probably the last time I recall receiving a hard copy of a recipe from anyone – after that the Internet took over and we began emailing recipes back and forth. It’s for this reason that this recipe is a favourite of mine – that and the fact that it’s relatively quick and easy to prepare, and a consistent crowd pleaser for vegetarians and omnivores alike. I’ve made several changes to the original recipe over the years – specifically, adding veggies where there once were none – but the secret ingredient has remained unchanged: a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup – fancy, I know – but it does a winning job of moistening up and adding flavour to the veggie ground round base. With a smashed potato topping this shepherd’s pie is the ideal mid-Winter dish. Serve with a side salad and/or sourdough rolls and you’re good to go 🙂

Recipe: {Lazy} Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

For smashed potato topping:

  • 18-20 white and/or red mini potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the ground round base:

  • 340g package of vegetarian ground round
  • 284ml can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used the low fat variety)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Prepare smashed potato topping: Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender all the way through, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until broken into small pieces. Put saucepan over low heat and add butter/margarine and milk. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare ground round base: In a casserole dish (the one I used is about 9″ in diameter and 5″ deep), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, carrot, celery and green pepper and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute just until garlic is golden brown. Add paprika, cumin, coriander and cayenne and stir until spices coat other ingredients. Add crumbled ground round and fresh parsley and fold to combine. Add water and stir until everything is thoroughly combined.

Finish shepherd’s pie: Preheat oven to 350F. Spoon smashed potato topping on top of ground round base and spread out evenly. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of potatoes. Place casserole in oven until warmed through and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Set oven to broil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until cheese on top has browned. Remove from oven.

Serve, topping each portion with fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

Warm Rapini and Carrot Salad | With Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing and Toasted Chickpeas

I feel like it’s taken me an eternity to get around to writing this post! Typically my modus operandi with this blog is to cook and photograph a dish one day, then write a blurb about the dish and publish the post the next – although sometimes I get on a roll and manage to accomplish these steps in single day. Not that it’s all that involved, but sometimes it feels involved when there’s a nearly-ambulatory one year old in the mix. While I’m absolutely certain none of you maintain statistics on the intervals between my posts, I’ve been itching to get this one out of my drafts folder. It’s nice publishing a post; it makes me feel like I’ve met my creative quota for the week and provides a crafty counterpoint to changing diapers, wiping drool and folding tiny clothes… although naturally (perversely?) I enjoy all of that, too! 

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This post is slightly delayed because the last few days have been action packed – and when I say action packed, I mean it in the least fun way possible. On Saturday we finally got around to rearranging our storage locker to make room for the last of the furniture (from our condo in Vancouver) that’s been sitting in a cargo trailer for the past month and a half. The mere act of moving stuff into storage is crappy enough; having to take almost everything out, determine the most efficient way to configure boxes and other more cumbersome items (bikes, a BBQ, a snowmobile) in order to free up space, and then put it all back together made us want to turn our backs on the entire operation and get belligerently drunk. But as responsible parents, no such option existed. Rather, we persevered until everything was back in its place. Naturally this beast of a job took several hours longer than anticipated and we were tired and craving junk food by the time we got back to the trailer park.

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With that gargantuan task behind us, we decided to reward ourselves with a sojourn to Vancouver, where I’m writing this from now. Unfortunately yesterday didn’t feel like much of a reward as Hunter had no interest in being strapped in his car seat during the drive and made his dissatisfaction known via seemingly endless wailing, despite numerous attempts to entertain him with music, cartoons and sound-making toys. Sketchy road conditions, and the fact we were towing a cargo trailer didn’t do much to improve the driving experience. All that aside, I’m enjoying staying in a hotel and being able to take a real showers with limitless hot water! And just getting away from the trailer park for a few days is a pleasant switch for all of us, too.

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With all that box-shuffling and the crappy car ride out of the way, I’m free at last to write a few words about this rapini salad! I can concede that rapini – even more so than other leafy greens – is a bit of an acquired taste. Really, there’s no way around it: the stuff is bitter. This doesn’t offend my palate much; but then again I also love dark chocolate, black coffee, black liquorice and other flavours many people find too intense. I’ve read that boiling rapini in heavily salted water can help reduce its bitterness, but I’m not a fan of boiling vegetables and the heavily salted water thing doesn’t sit well with me either. So I simply sauteed it until tender crisp along with a few handfuls of ribboned carrots, the natural sweetness of which I find offsets the bitterness of the rapini nicely. The creaminess of the yogurt dressing (I used Mediterranean yogurt which has a pretty high (10%) milk fat content) also takes the edge off the rapini somewhat, and is delicious in its own right! But if you simply don’t enjoy eating rapini, I think kale or Swiss chard would be perfect substitutions here.

I assume that most of you love to eat your veggies. But are there any vegetables you just won’t go near? I think I like everything except raw onions; they’re just too pungent (which goes against what I said above about liking strong flavours, but there you have it). I love onions cooked, but unless we’re talking about the super mild kind available in Mexico, I do my best to avoid them!

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In other news, this past week I’ve been the recipient of THREE blog awards (yowza!), so I’ll be posting about those in the near future, too! Many thanks to my fellow bloggers Crew CuisineLove & Green Juice and GiRRL_Earth for the nominations 🙂

We’ll be in Vancouver until the latter part of the week, but I’ll be back as soon as possible with a new recipe to share with all of you! I’m heading to Whole Paycheque Foods tomorrow, and hope to find some new ingredients to experiment with there 🙂

Recipe: Warm Rapini and Carrot Salad | With Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing and Toasted Chickpeas

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Mediterranean yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toasted Chickpeas

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rapini and Carrot Salad

  • 1 bunch rapini, ends removed
  • 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons (using a vegetable peeler or mandolin)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Make Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing: Place mustard seeds, cumin and coriander in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Toast until spices are fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Be careful of mustard seeds; they may pop so you may want to place a lid on your saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.

Toast chickpeas: Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chickpeas and season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute just until browned. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Prepare rapini and carrotsHeat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add rapini and saute just until bright emerald green and tender crisp. Add carrots and saute for another minute or two, just until they begin to soften. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

To serve, divide rapini and carrots into portions and top with toasted chickpeas. Dollop yogurt dressing on top of each serving, or serve on the side. Eat!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Ribboned Fall Veggies and Parmesan

Over the last few days we’ve been given a little insight into what’s in store for us this Winter living in the Gypsy Roller, and all I gotta say is ZOINKS. The temperature during the day has remained reasonably warm, but at night it plummets to zero and even makes its way below zero by the time I get out of bed at 6am. I should reiterate that we’re new to the Okanagan by way of Vancouver, where Winter by most people’s standards – drifts of snow, punishing wind chill, think any stereotype of Canada – doesn’t really happen; it just rains interminably and the sun doesn’t come out for about 5 months. And it rarely gets all that cold, at least compared to pretty much everywhere else in the country. So when the temperature goes into the negative numbers I start freaking out a little, as I have been this week. Luckily the propane furnace does a decent job of keeping the trailer warm, but the floor – where Hunter spends a great deal of time (we’ve learned the hard way that he’s not yet trustable on any raised surface) – feels pretty cold in spots, making me wish we had wall-to-wall shag carpet (wouldn’t that be a sight to behold). Apparently the trailer is ‘winterized’ but I’m assuming this refers more to its capacity to keep the cold out than its inhabitants sane and entertained inside its walls during the Winter months! That we’ll have to figure out for ourselves, I suppose.

With the arrival of colder weather, things have changed dramatically around the trailer park. The two outdoor pools have been drained, and flowers pulled from the beds. The tourists have left, leaving behind only longterm and permanent residents, or ‘full-timers’ as they call themselves. Grimly, the little store at the entrance to the park has stopped serving ice cream. And the voluminous caftans worn by many in the Summer have been exchanged for polar fleece jackets, the kind depicting howling wolves and dream catchers. I’ve even spotted a covetous animal print number yesterday. Our neighbours have been keen to offer advice about wintering in an RV, and many a horror story too: weeks straight of borderline subarctic temperatures, FEET of snow, snow on the ground until April, frozen ‘poo hoses’ (don’t ask), frozen water pipes, FIRES resulting from attempts to thaw said hoses and pipes with blowtorches. So thanks to my neighbours, and augmented by my imagination, I think I have a pretty good idea of what the worst case scenario looks like.

All this talk of fridgid temperatures has made me seek solace in food, and more specifically CARBS. With the evenings so chilly, you’re probably not going to find me sitting down to eat a spinach salad for dinner. It’s the time of year for pastas, stews and soups, which I inaugurated last week with my Molasses Baked Beans and Yams with Sharp Cheddar. This week I was more in the mood for pasta, plus I wanted to put to use some of the gorgeous vegetables that come into season this time of year in the Okanagan. I’ve ranted here and here about how much I love squash, but have only ever used acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash in my cooking.

Faced with legions of less common Winter squash varieties at the grocer earlier in the week week, I decided to stray into foreign territory and try on a delicata for size, which according to my research tastes like a cross between butternut squash and a sweet potato. I was initially tempted to roast the thing, as is my compulsion with all vegetables, but decided to refrain and saute it instead, so as to experience its ‘true’ flavour alongside the other Fall vegetables I selected: carrots, zucchini and parsnips. Now I realize parsnips are sort of a dorky wallflower type of vegetable, and despite being a bit of a dork and wallflower myself, I can’t say I particularly enjoy them when prepared the usual way (i.e. mashed). But sauteed with leek and garlic, they’re super tasty, and add a nice subtle sweetness to the dish.

I ended up loving the delicata squash. It’s sweet, smooth and buttery, and works perfectly in this olive oil based pasta. If you want the savoury flavours of Fall in the Okanagan (minus the meaty ones!) distilled into one dish, this – in my humble opinion – is it!

Tip: You can use a mandolin and/or vegetable peeler to slice your vegetables into thin ribbons. I used the mandolin for the zuccini and delicata squash, and the peeler for the carrots and turnips.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Ribboned Fall Veggies and Parmesan

Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller ones

Ingredients:

  • 125g whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, finely sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and ribboned
  • 1/2 small turnip, peeled and ribboned
  • 1/2 small zucchini, ribboned (I kept the skin on but you can remove it if that’s you’re preference)
  • 1/4 small Delicata squash, peeled and ribboned (any other Winter squash would also work)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Prepare spaghetti according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute leeks until tender in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add garlic and continue to saute until just golden brown. Gently fold in ribboned carrot, turnip, zucchini and squash and saute until tender but still firm. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add spaghetti to skillet and toss gently until combined with other ingredients. Fold in grated parmesan. Serve and eat!