I led a workshop last week with a new friend here in town. We talked about the importance of eating local and came up with some innovative ways to do it that were easy on the budget. I was even on the radio – no big deal, you guys. We sprouted a bunch of local grains, we made cheese (yup!), I discovered the miracle that is verdurette and we highlighted some great canadian superfoods. It was inspiring to say the least. During the week leading up to the workshop, we decided to follow our guidelines and do our best to eat mostly local ingredients. I will tell you that this kitchen saw more eggs and cheese in one week than it has in a few months. Matt was grinning ear to ear. It was an interesting switch for me as I primarily eat a plant based diet. But I have discovered so many small producers in the area selling organic eggs and delicious local goat cheese that it felt nice to be able to support them. Meals were simple but I felt so connected to what was on my plate. A loaf of fresh bread, salad from the garden, local grains and an herby vinaigrette. It felt good to simplify. I keep coming back to this idea of being connected, as I think the problem with our food system these days is that we are so far removed from the origins of our meals. So it was a discovery for me and it’s still everything in moderation. And while we are not running out to set up backyard chickens and I am still gripping onto my olive oil with both hands, there is a little more awareness now and for me every little step counts. Food is nourishment, it should make us feel alive and inspired. Nature requires patience, but it can also offer the best rewards. Tasting summer’s first sun ripened tomato is well worth the wait.
“Eating home-cooked meals from whole, in-season ingredients obtained from the most local source available is eating well, in every sense. Good for the habitat, good for the body.” – Barbara Kingsolver; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Out of all the things I have made in the kitchen, bread would have to be the most challenging. But I’m on the sourdough train now you guys and I have never been so proud of anything. Flour, water, salt, and time. Every loaf has been different from the last and I’m learning, slowly. I’ve started leaving loaves on the doorsteps of friends houses because we’ve got more bread than we can handle. I’ve even been offered bread in exchange for vegetables and I think I like the sounds of that deal. It always comes back to food, it is what connects us. And then there is french toast, or ‘pain perdu‘ as the French would call it -‘lost bread.’ Which if you ask me is anything but lost. There are many variations on the recipe below, I’ve noted a few options to suit different diets so adjust as needed. The mix of summer berries and cardamom is one that I’ll love forever. Eating well, in every sense. Yes indeed.
VEGAN FRENCH TOAST WITH ALMOND, VANILLA + CARDAMOM
The recipe below can be adapted as needed. If you have access to good quality, organic eggs and they are a part of your diet you can use those here too. Simply replace the flour, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup of milk with one or two eggs. Whisk in a bowl. French toast is pretty forgiving. The vegan french toast version below is also ultra delicious as the nutritional yeast and flour will create that egg-y taste and texture. Use your milk of choice but I opted for unsweetened almond milk here. For more almond flavor a drop or two of almond extract would be nice as well. And then add maple syrup and everyone will be grinning ear to ear.
Vegan french toast batter adapted from Love and Lemons.
4-6 slices day old bread
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour (millet, spelt, whole wheat, etc.)
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch sea salt
Coconut oil, for the pan
Fresh blueberries and blackberries
Place almond milk, cardamom, vanilla, flour, nutritional yeast and maple syrup in a blender and blender until smooth. (You can also whisk together in small bowl.) Place bread in a shallow baking dish and pour the almond milk mixture over top. Let the bread soak for a minute or two then flip it over so all sides are well coated.
Heat a drizzle of coconut oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat. When hot, add bread and cook for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Serve with fresh berries, lemon zest and ground almonds. Lots of maple syrup on the side!
Let me in on your kitchen creations – tag your photos #happyheartedkitchen and share the love!