Friday, May 25, 2018

Orzo Salad with Sundried Tomatoes

I've been trying meal prepping and it's working quite well. It's time consuming the first day (because not only am I meal-prepping for me, but also for Mr. Boyfriend) but in the end you're saving a lot of time. And it forces me to only eat what's in my pot rather than having multiple servings... Ah, self-control!

Through Google researches, I found a recipe for pasta salad that was different from the usual mayonnaise-based tomato salad. I adapted it (because I can't follow instructions) and that's what I came up with.

Edit: Apparently, the recipe I saw was also adapted from Ina Garten. I just found out!


15 sun dried tomatoes in oil
4 table spoons of red wine vinegar
10-ish table spoons of olive oil (I mostly used the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
2 cloves of garlic
2 table spoons of capers
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
500 g of orzo, dried
1 package of cherry tomatoes
Half a package of vegan shredded cheese
4 tablespoons (or more) of vegan parmesan cheese
20 fresh basil leaves
1 average size jar of sliced black olives


1) Cooking the orzo in boiling water. Drain and reserve.
2) Meanwhile, make the "vinaigrette" by putting 10 of the sundried tomatoes in a blender along with vinegar, oil, garlic, half of the capers, salt and pepper. Whizz until relatively smooth.
3) Halve the cherry tomatoes and slice basil in chiffonade
4) To help the orzo to cool off, rince it off under cold water. Transfer to a bowl and poor in vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, basil, drained black olives, cheese and parmesan.
5) Mix until well combined and verify seasoning.


P.S. I am terrible at remembering to take pictures. I'll update this next time I make the recipe.

Schnitzel, pizza and ribollita

Again, long time no see.

My dad came to visit me in Germany for two weeks. Then I went to Italy with my cousin.

Culinary-wise, I've tried mushroom schnitzels from a Schnizelerei near from the Airbnb room in Berlin. Schnizels are typical for meat-loving (and asparagus-loving) Germany--I just didn't get the chance to try it yet because...well... you know... meat.

The mushroom schnizels were delicious, and served with lemon wedges and a warm potato salad, and beer (which is also normally vegan-friendly here).

By the way, my dad says Germany has the best beer he's ever tasted!

Now, for Italy, my cousin and I went to Florence first. I fell in love with the ribollita and kept ordering it in every restaurants we were. A soup thick enough to be eaten with a fork (although they still serve it with a spoon).

My cousin didn't enjoy the food there, though. Saying that she's had better carbonara in Canada.

We also tried pizza and that was all very disappointing. In Brazil, I've had much better pizza than in Italy. They are quite skimpy topping-wise. And that's even worst for me because I was also asking without cheese.

The best pizza I ate was in Rome. In a pizza kebab. They had these squares of pizza with only tomato sauce on it. Then, I asked them to add eggplants from their salad bar on it. The eggplant had been marinating in a oil and spices mixture, so it gave the pizza some kick. Delicious!

We also tried gelatto, but I was again disappointed. Only two vegan options in a store that found pride in having vegan options. Hazelnut and chocolate. It was good, but I was hoping for something fruity.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tomato in Rice Cooker Hack (from Strictly Dumpling/repopularized by Cheap Lazy Vegan)

This might go against the idea of the blog. I wanted to test out recipe books. But who does watch recipes on YouTube nowadays? Also, tons of vegan food vlogers have recipe books (Hot for Food or The Edgy Veg, for example).

I was learning Chinese last year (I stopped learning since then... unfortunately) and developped a vivid interest in anything asian. I was watching a lot of YouTube videos, including Strictly dumpling. I find Mike has a magnetic personality... although he is normally not really open about veganism as a whole... sigh...

Anyway, I had seen his video about cooking a tomato in a rice cooker, and I've also wanted to try it out. In a way, it is similar to a variant of fried tomato rice and cheese recipe I used to make all the time; but my version was--obviously--cooked in a pan, in a little bit of oil, and rich in cheese.

When I switched to veganism, and since vegan cheese was not yet available in Brazil (it is slightly more popular now that Superbom launched a vegan cheese substitute two years ago), I stopped making it. With all the cheese, it wasn't good for me.

Imagine: I had a blood test, something that was required of me before I could start a Krav Maga course I had just registered to, and...

Doctor: "You have high cholesterol. You should cut down on red meat..."
Me: "But doctor, I don't eat meat since I am 13..."

That left the doctor perplex. I was just as shocked because I had always heard that cholesterol was for people who were overweight, or who were older. I was skinny and in my early 20s.

I was eating TOO MUCH cheese.

Anyway. I digress. Back to the tomato in a rice cooker recipe.

So, I saw Mike Chen do it a while ago. Probably last year. And last week, the Cheap Lazy Vegan tried it too. She forgot to take out the core though, so I swore I wouldn't make the same mistake :)

I never have white rice at home (but thinking about it now, I do have sushi rice; I could have used that, damn it!). I have basmati or brown. I felt that basmati was better. Otherwise, the ingredient list is rather short and simple: rice, water, ripe tomato, oil, salt and pepper.

This is what it looked like in the cooker:

And on my plate (I added a little bit of grated vegan cheese, and basil leaves):

My opinion? A little dry. I added some vegan sour cream I had on hand (I know processed...sigh...) and it made it taste better. I don't feel it's a full meal, contrary to what Mike said. I think it could be ok as a side dish if you have a meal that is potentially more juicy.

It's an alternative to white rice.

NOTE: Something I noted uploading the pictures. Is it me or was a few of the basil leaves I have a little too "dark". Were they rotten? Well, too late. I ate it...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Potato and Pumpkin Curry with Basmati Rice (From Skinny Bitch in the Kitch)

Day Two. Lunch time. I am a big fan of Indian or Indian-inspired food, so today I tried the curry recipe from the book Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.

Do they really mean pumpkin? I've only seen people eating pumkin for pumpkin pies. Maybe they mean squash? Like the red kuri squash?

In any case, I had no pumpkin or kuri squash. The recipe said I could substitute the pumpkin with butternut squash. That's what I did. Butternut squash from my freezer, y'all!

First, I prepared the onion and garlic and added it to a pan. The recipe said to use coconut oil, but I rarely use oil when cooking onions and garlic--I just add a little bit of water.

I cooked it a little but because my squash was frozen, I decided to add it there instead of later and specified in the recipe. Turns out, maybe I should have added it later because my squash became very (understand "too") mushy.

Then, I added the stock, can of diced tomatoes, diced potatoes (not of the red variety as asked in the recipe but rather a more common kind), and spices.

Adding the spices so late surprised me. Normally, in Indian cooking, they cook the spices at the beginning in a little bit of oil to release the aroma...

Talking about spices, I had pretty much all the spices on hand apart from the cloves. I used powdered anis instead.

I tasted the sauce a little and it tasted quite good. It was not spicy at all --I suspect the book was written for palates not accustomed to Indian dishes--but it was not bland either.

At that point, I realized I forgot to prepare the rice. Dang! Well, it's basmati rice and it doesn't take super long to cook anyhow. Especially in my rice cooker.

The recipe talks about brown basmati rice. Does that even exist? I know brown rice, and basmati rice... but I never saw brown basmati!


It took much longer than 15 min for my potatoes to cook. Probably because my stove was on low heat (I was trying to avoid splashes!)

In any case, I think my potatoes absorbed some of the flavor while cooking because when I tasted the mixture again, it was bland. I had to double the spices.

Finally, the recipe said to garnish with parsley or cilantro. Well I had none of that so I used arugula.

Here is the final result:

What did I think of it? Definitely for people not used to cooking for themselves and who are still shy about using spices.

Would I do this again? Maybe a variant with more spices and where my squash wouldn't be so mushy.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Farfalle with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (From Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook)

Although I've had the idea of testing out recipes from cookbooks for a while, I didn't plan on starting today. It was a little bit of a challenge to decide what to cook based on what I have in my fridge/pantry.

Still, checking only my newest aquisition, Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook, I managed to find something I was willing to try. I had already had soup for lunch, with vegan grilled cheese, so I decided to have something a little more consistent. For vegans, that usually means either a rice dish or pasta.

I flipped the pages to the pasta section. Ignored the few tomato based pasta, in fear of yet another tomato dish (my lunch soup was tomato soup).

Note that the exact measurements of the recipes will be omitted here because of copyrights. If you're interested, please get the book. Another thing you have to note is that I mess up recipes all the time. I suffer from a self-diagnosed attention deficit disorder, and that often comes in the way of many things I do.

I put a pot of water to boil, for my pasta. The recipe called for penne, but I didn't have any. I used farfalle instead. Whole wheat. Then, I realized the recipe was for four people so I'll have to size it down by half. I am alone but I eat a lot, so... I used half an onion, and a few broccoli florets. The book probably meant for me to use fresh broccoli, but I only had frozen ones on hand. My florets were big so, when they were done cooking in the little bit of water I kept to cook the onions and broccoli, I cut them in half. Then two cloves of garlic. The recipe asked for three but I am supposed to down size it, remember? Well, I had forgotten. I remembered just in time, before cutting my third clove.

My veggies were done before everything else. Even before my water started boiling because I forgot to turn on the stove high enough. I put them aside and made my sauce while my pasta was finally cooking.

The sauce is from another recipe the book is sending us to. It says to use two roasted red bell pepper. It also refers us to another recipe that tells us how to roast peppers but I wonder if that works on a ceramic stove top. In Brazil, I was doing it on my gas stove, because it had real flames. I used to love doing it. It might not be the same here... 

Anyway. I used jarred roasted bell pepper because I had some on hand. I was quite shocked that my brand new jar only contained two roasted peppers. Seemed like too little.

The recipe also called for soft tofu. I didn't have any so I used half a firm tofu instead. And a little bit of non-sweeted soy milk. I also used salt and a little lemon juice rather than lemon zest because I had no fresh lemon. And three more cloves of garlic.

I am surprised it's supposed to be raw. But I'll cook the pasta, veggies and the sauce together, so that should be fine... At least, that's what I thought.

No dill like specified in the book, but I have frozen herbs. I used that instead. 

A little bit of a whizz in the blender. Until my sauce became very liquid. Kept my sauce aside in my blender until later.

While my pasta were still cooking, I had a quick chat with my dad on Skype. It's his birthday next Tuesday and he's coming to visit in Germany. My "new sister" and her wife bought him a plane ticket to come and see me. Really happy about that.

OK. Pasta cooked and drained. I mixed everything together, and let the sauce reduce a little. Sweet Baby Jesus (I can say that, I am not religious)! So much garlic. It's definitely not a meal for a vampire. Or human. Good thing I am spending the night alone with my cats, and they don't care if I have a nasty smelling breath.

I added stuff that was not part of the recipe to try and correct the taste. First, soy cream. Almost all a little packet. The bell pepper sauce was also too sweet, because of the peppers. I added some salt, and pepper, and curry powder, and a little bit of powder bouillon to give it some extra taste.

I didn't have any basil to make a chiffonade. I used to have a basil plant up to a few weeks ago, but my cats were showing it too much love. So to keep the plant away from them, I forgot it outside in the cold. My basil plant didn't survive.

I didn't add any herbs to the final plate because I was remembering Gordon Ramsay's nervousness in front of a plate covered with parsley.

Overall, the dish was eatable, but still too much garlic. I still taste the garlic in my mouth while typing this.

I will probably not make the same recipe again. I have already a red pepper sauce made with cashew nuts and tofu that is much richer and savoury. I'd use that instead. 

Also, it was visually not worth to take a picture of the meal. Just a big mess in a bowl. Instead, here's a picture of my cat Astor.

Ah screw it...

My last blog post was from years ago. We can't say I am a dedicated blogger...

The need to reach out to strangers, to put one's voice out there, is still there, though. So will this time be different? Will I write more?

Maybe my error before was that I was writing for others rather than for me. I was writing with the hope of being read. Turns out, if I write for others, I find myself paralyzed. I am scared. Of trolls, of people not liking me, of misexpressing myself, of writing badly...

Talking about writing badly, I wrote a new books two years ago. I finished it and sent it to five editors. Why five? Because I am a little excessive and thought this was going to waranty my success... So far, no success. It's more, I was rejected by all literary agents I submitted my manuscript to. That is, despite all editors telling me my book was great.

So, right now, my moral is on the low. The only thing that makes me feel better is eating good food.
Which brings me here. I have so many barely used cooking books; it seems a waste not to try their recipes out.

I will test out the recipes and comment on them. I am not a professional chef, just someone who believes eating healthy doesn't mean the food has to be bland.

So there you have it. I'll try that. Once in a while. No pressure. And if no one reads, that's ok. I'm doing this for me.

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's been a while

It's been a while, but I plan on starting to post more regularly again. These days, I think I need to. For my own peace of mind.

I wrote a book, spent a lot of money with editors to help me with both the manuscript, synopsis and query letter. But I have yet to find someone interested in the manuscript. So far, only refusal. Which breaks my heart, because I love my story.

I am not giving up on it yet, and even started working on two new projects. One is the continuation of that book, another is a memoir.

But that worries me, too, you see. Because, although I have lived a great deal of things in my life, I don't think what I have lived is so amazing. So is it worth writing about it or will I get a lot of rejections, again?

I am writing about how, in my 20s, I searched for love. And instead, came face to face with questions about rape, my sexual orientation, my sexual preferences, open relationships, 'closed' relationships, porn, prostitution, etc. Those are all questions I think many people are asking themselves.

I am poorly discussing this, but that's because I don't want to give too much details just yet. This was just a bridge to the thing that bothers me most right now: my sister.

My sister doesn't bother me. That's not it. It's what she's been saying lately.

My sister has been having a hard time with dating lately. I understand that. I have, too. That's what I'm talking about in my book.

She meets guys online on dating website, and meets them. And well, most of the times it's a total disaster. Lately, she met with a guy and the guy was insisting a lot to have sex with her. He started touching her in an inappropriate manner.

So she went to the police (it's not the first time something like this happens, and in the past I had told her to go to the police). The police registered her complaint and that was it. But she is very distraught by it.

So she told me about it. And having gone through sexual abuse myself, I didn't want her to go through the spiral of dark thoughts I went through. The first time I was raped, I didn't know what had happened to me. I wasn't sure it was raped, because the guy said he loved me, and so I wasn't sure how someone who said loved me could do me wrong -- it was all very confusing. I cried all the time, and stopped eating.

It took me a year before I finally managed to talk about it to someone, my aunt, and then I told my mom (although I waited until she was drunk and wouldn't remember it, just because it was easier for me). I even told my sister, but she told me: "a rape, but you wanted it", which hurt me a lot. She was referring to me starting to wear different kind of clothing when I started to hang out with that guy. Even my mom had told me then: "Don't tempt the devil," meaning that if I dressed in a provocative manner, I was tempting guys to do things with me, things I didn't want.

So basically, it was my fault. And for a long time, I thought it was. So obviously, I didn't want my sister to go through the same feelings of guilt. I told her, "yes, you're a victim, but don't let it affect you -- don't let it bring you down."

I was saying that because she started having very dark thoughts, about men and life in general, and I found it dangerous that she was generalising. I said it extensively and never meant to say that she wasn't a victim and that she shouldn't talk about it....which apparently she understood as such.

That hurts me. How can she think I would tell her she is not a victim? All I wanted to say is that I wanted her to stay positive, to stay strong.

It's really hard to talk to her, because lately she seems to think everybody is against her. She wants to talk to people about what happened to her, and I understand that. If she can talk about it, it can only do her good. But she feels the family shuts her down when she talks about it.

I tell her it's not because the family is against her; it's because sexual aggression in general is a difficult topic and it leaves people uncomfortable, so they might not want to talk about it. I suggested she finds someone to talk to, a shrink maybe, or if she needs to talk to the family about it, then tell the family that this is important for her to talk about it as it makes her feel better.

She understood it as me telling her not to talk about it, and resents me for that. What???

I know she is emotionally unstable now. Because of the shock she went through. And she has some sort of paranoia that makes her twists my words around.

I really don't know how to deal with her anyway. How to help her. Suggestions?