Eating well vs eating green: Stuffed lamb meatballs with garlic aioli

May 20, 2013

IMG_9267Recently at Whole Foods, I saw some beautiful local lamb chops and mince at the meat counter. Needless to say I bought them. I had plans. One of them was making lamb meatballs stuffed with rosemary and garlic cream cheese. And so I made this last night for my Sunday dinner along with a side of garlic mash potatoes. Once the stuffed lamb meatballs were ready I would bath them in a simple tomato sauce (I always have it handy) with a spoonful of homemade garlic aioli on the side. Pleased and full, I remembered an article my husband showed me a couple of months back. Basically, lamb emits the highest carbon emission and we’re not even talking post-production. So, it doesn’t matter if your lamb comes from New Zealand or Iceland or from Happy Farms down the road. The CO2 from bringing the meat to your table makes up for a small percentage of the entire lamb production’s carbon emission, which is as high as than beef and cheese combined.

I do feel a tad guilty, ashamed even, but I am conflicted. In this day and age, knowing what we know, it’s a challenge because eating well and eating green are sometimes mutually exclusive. Lamb is the world’s oldest domesticated animal used for its meat and dairy. And there is only one way to raise them, and that way hasn’t changed since time in memorial. Sheep must be allowed to graze and run around freely, preferably in green pastures, in order to strive. They cannot be locked up in a farm and herded like cows in cages; or be given hormones to grow because they don’t do so well outside of their natural environment. These animals must live a free-range lifestyle in the truest sense, or very close to, and it’s not a choice if the sheep farmers want to stay profitable. So, this eliminates most of the animals’ need for vaccines, antibiotics and/or hormones, which technically makes lamb the healthiest meat you can eat.

Personally, I think that globalization of foods makes us better and healthier. If we only ate what is 100 miles away, I can’t imagine us being very healthy. Avocados, coconut, mango, goji berries, quinoa, pineapples, nuts, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, oranges, lemons, limes, coffee, cocoa are examples of powerhouse foods with big carbon footprints. Do we just stop eating them? I feel the issue remains in production and management of food, too many irresponsible people in the food industry. I know that sounds like a pretty sweeping statement but doesn’t it all boil down to greed? As a consumer, the best I can do is knowing where my food comes from, how it is treated and weighing the pros and cons before making my purchasing choice. Eating more of what is in season locally, that is also organic, is the most ideal and it’s an idea we can all strive towards. What do you guys think?

I still feel guilty about the carbon emissions from my plate of delicious stuffed lamb meatballs but they were really, really good and simple to make.

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Out of this World Crispy Fig, Nut and Oatmeal Cookies

May 15, 2013

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I have a cookie recipe that I’ve been unconsciously making a lot of. I am crazy about it. It is a recipe I had found from Ree Drummond, femme fatale of the Pioneer Woman blog and FN show fame. I had too much oatmeal in my pantry and was wondering what I could do with them besides making them into porridge or throw them into muffins. Her recipe for oatmeal cookies changed my life because now I don’t have large bags of oatmeal lying around in my kitchen anymore. And speaking of kitchens, P and I had  just recently moved to Vancouver. Say what?! Yep, west coast, baby!

I love my new kitchen but it’s far from done as we’re still settling in but I can’t help but make these lovely cookies to baptise the workspace . These oatmeal cookies are not just great for energy, they are delicious and crispy too! Originally, Ree’s recipe called for two cups of sugar but I cut a lot of the sugar out and replaced it with other sweeteners; in this case, I used figs and dark chocolate chips. You can add anything you want in this recipe as long as you follow the base but here’s my version. Do enjoy! read more …


Ridiculously good onion bhaji recipe

March 18, 2013


I’m a big fan of South Asian cuisine. There was a momentous time when I was growing up in Malaysia where I ate proper Indian food for the very first time. I was captivated by the plate-less experience as a large and green banana leaf takes the place of a plate. All of a sudden, five different vegetable side dishes were generously spooned around the leaf by an Indian guy carrying a large metal container with 5 compartments. Did I tell you that these vegetables were refillable, free of charge too? Another Indian man then swoops in to deliver scoops of steamy hot rice until you say ‘when’ and then with a large ladle delivers your choice of curried gravy: fish, chicken, dhal/sambhar and then he tops it all off with some papadum. Still in awe, a small unpretentious plastic plate arrives and on it, nuggets of crispy, caramelized onion fritters. It was a side of onion bhaji and it came with a sweet and spicy tamarind dipping sauce. It wasn’t an essential component to banana leaf rice, it sure was a decadent addition. I took a bite and it was crispy, sweet and spicy on top of a strong caramelized onion flavour. It was delicious!

I don’t get to eat banana leaf rice in North America. The closest I’ve gotten was a thali meal  served on a metal plate, sometimes with a small square of banana leaf, and you don’t get to refill your vegetable side dishes. But I have eaten my fair share of onion bhajis around town in Montreal. And I have to say, I wasn’t very impressed with them. Most of them were just okay, all of them were over-floured. And so were my quests to make them at home. Then I found an onion bhaji recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Nation. The episode explored Gujerati cuisine in the UK. The method the Gujeratis use to make their onion bhaji floored me, it was simple and it made sense. The result was a crispy, delicious onion bhaji from my childhood and I have an alternative flour you can use if you cannot find chickpea flour.

This recipe makes approximately 30 ping-pong ball sized onion bhaji. read more …


An evening with Nora Gray

March 16, 2013

nora gray
Getting same day reservations for Nora Gray on a Friday feels triumphant. Noted as one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2012, it has been on my list of go-to restaurants in Montreal. I was super excited when my husband and I got ourselves two spots at the bar yesterday. We always prefer to sit at the bar when it’s just the two of us because you get to see all the action.

At a glance, it’s a very humble looking space made of wooden wall panels and glass molding. It’s essentially a square box with a bar. I don’t think it sits more than 30 people at a time in the restaurant, and in all honesty, it feels like you’re dining at your friend’s decked out basement. The wait staffs are friendly and ever attentive, and they were all young and hip(ster-ish).

We ordered two cocktails, the Adriatique (sp?) and the Drunk Monk. It was delicious and an excellent aperitivo to start our dinner. We had wanted to order some kind of tasting menu but they didn’t have any so we decided to order an item each (more on this later) from each course: antipasto, primi and secondi. We didn’t get to dolci and the reason for that is because we were just too stuffed! read more …

The Christmas Seafood Smorgasbord in Lettuce Cups

December 27, 2012

20121224-IMG_8655Happy holidays folks! Has it been that long since my last recipe? I actually update my Facebook page more with little tidbits of recipes and tips here and there. All that to say, you should Like my page if you’re around the block. :)

This Christmas has been a very joyful one and I hope that you, gentle readers, have had the same. I spent a wonderful Christmas eve with my husband’s family and boy, did we eat well. And laughed. And cried tears of joy. A contributing factor to this joyful occasion for me was the fact that I was given the opportunity to bring something for dinner to help my mother-in-law for a group of 15 people! I rarely have time to make something extravagant from scratch these days so I leaped at the chance to make a 3-tiered seafood platter. Everything was served cold, so there was not mucking around except assembling the platter once we got to my in-laws’ place. Yes, it was a logistical nightmare and no, we ate it. Why yes, it’s a great idea for New Year’s too!

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