Cookbook Musings – Vegetarian India

This book is essential for your library if you are a fan of Indian food.   Madhur Jaffrey is a prolific author of several cookbooks, many of which have won James Beard Awards.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the plethora of images – 117 photographs of tantalizing food, interspersed with photos from India.  As a photographer, I appreciate good photography and I am drawn to cookbooks with beautiful food.  It’s rare that I will purchase a cookbook without photos – how would you be inspired to cook a recipe without the image?

The recipes are diverse ranging from appetizers, snacks, mains, desserts and drinks.  The recipes are well laid out so that you can easily see ingredients and follow the directions.

One of my favourite recipes is Masaledar Mumura – Spicy, Crisp Puffed Rice Nibbles.  This is a delicious Indian snack, often served in paper cones as a street food.  Another go-to recipe is for the Parathas Stuffed with Spiced Cauliflower – great for lunches or travelling.  I’m salivating as I’m typing; they are so yummy.

If you are already experienced in the kitchen with Indian food, grab this book, and if not, grab this book.  It is a good resource for every level of home chef.


See her in action here using an Instant Pot

Madhur Jaffrey – A Conversation in Food


Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Sauce

Ok this one a real winner…what to do with all the Rhubarb that’s not a crisp, crumble or muffin?! I made a sauce to go with more savoury items, then someone put it on their yogurt this am and it was still a hit!

Sweet and Sour Rhubarb Sauce
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  • 1 cup rhubarb, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fish or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (sub vegan type)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. honey (sub maple syrup)
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
recipe by STIR Cooking School


Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until well mixed.

Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5-8 min. stirring occasionally.

Serve as a condiment with salmon, chicken, crispy tofu or chill and use as a sweet and spicy condiment on almost anything!

Cookbook Musings – Rebar

REBAR: a classic vegetarian Cookbook and go-to Victoria restaurant!

The Rebar cookbook is a staple recipe collection in our household.  So many of our friends already have it on their cookbook shelves.

I have never cooked a recipe from the Rebar cookbook that an Omnivore, Vegetarian Vegan or Flexitarian guest didn’t ask for the recipe…

We often make the Botanical burgers and serve them along with our spinach turkey burgers for a mixed group of guests. Another favourite on curry night is the curried chickpea soup with cilantro, peanuts and greek yogurt as toppings.

One of our weeknight go-to recipes is the Chiang Mai tofu grill. It is an over the top exotic treat, combining the flavours of a well-simmered kaffir peanut lime sauce served over a delicious stir fry. It is a really handy recipe on day 7 when you have leftover veggies to use up! Serve it over jasmine rice or soba noodles topped with mint leaves and fresh lime.

When in Victoria the Rebar restaurant in downtown Bastion square is a bright sub-terrarium favourite which I have been visiting for 20 years!

Some of the recipes in the cookbook can be found online or get your own copy at Munro books, Victoria.

Cookbook Musings – Thug Kitchen

Warning, if you are easily offended by profanity, then this book is not for you!

I heard about Thug Kitchen years ago from my cousin, Nic, who showed me the trailer for the soon-to-be released cookbook.  See trailer here.  It came across like a spoof or a Viagra/Cialis commercial.  It was hilarious.   I grabbed the cookbook as soon as it came out and was pleased by the plant-based content.  Everyone, including non-vegans can enjoy these recipes. There is a lot of swearing – that is their thing.  If you don’t appreciate the humour of this then there are many other plant-based cookbooks out there to enjoy.  The Thug Kitchen books aim to push your buttons with the language.

They have since come out with two other versions:  Thug Kitchen Party Grub and Thug Kitchen 101.

One of my favourite recipes from the Party Grub book is the Butternut Squash Queso; It is easy, delicious and makes a great healthy option for entertaining.


Here is their recipe – profanity all theirs.



Servings: Makes 2 ½ cups total, enough for 6 hungry motherfuckers

  • 1 ½ cups butternut squash puree*
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes with their juices**
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 jalapeños, minced2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Throw the butternut squash puree and onion in a blender and run until that fucker looks smooth. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika and set it aside.

Grab a medium-sized soup pot and warm the olive oil over a medium heat. Throw in the flour and spice mixture and keep stirring until it starts to thicken up and smell kinda toasty. Yeah, that’s right, we’re making a roux bitches. Grab a small whisk and slowly add the vegetable broth while you whisk. It will start to look like little lumps of playdough. You aren’t fucking up. Trust the system. Add the diced tomatoes and all their juices and keep stirring, it should be a lot smoother looking now with the only chunks being those tasty as hell tomatoes.

Now pour in the butternut squash mix, the nutritional yeast, garlic, jalapeños, lime juice, and salt. Stir well so there aren’t any chunks, and turn down the heat to low. Let everything simmer together for 3-5 minutes so that it the flavors get all mixed up and the sauce thickens. Serve that fucker up warm and right away.

* Yeah you can use a can but it’s easy as fuck to make. Skin and chop up a butternut squash into chunks about the size of a dime until you get about 3 cups. Throw it in a pot with a steamer basket and some water, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the squash is tender. Throw it in a blender or food processor and boom, fucking puree.

** Canned is cool here.

There are other great recipes on the blog, so have a look.

Have fun,


Pickled Red Onion

These colourful and flavourful onions are great on top of tacos, falafel wraps, in sandwiches, and more.  Pickling them reducing the strong raw onion taste.


Pickled Red Onion
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  • • 1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
  • • 2 small jalapenos, chopped (reduce or increase # for desired heat)
  • • 2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • • 1 tsp. sea salt
recipe by STIR Cooking School


Place jalapeno and onion in a medium heat proof bowl.

In a small sauce pan combine vinegar, lime juice, salt and bring to a boil

over high heat, stirring until salt dissolves. Pour over the onion and jalapeno.

Allow to stand at room temp for at least 1 hour before serving.

Keep left overs in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Cookbook Musings-Keep it “SIMPLE” by Ottolenghi

There comes a time when you really get into your cookbooks, like cooking more than 1 recipe from 1 cookbook?!

I have been really enjoying the Ottolenghi cookbook “Simple” for more than one dinner lately. The recipes are really simple, not too gourmet and basic well-stocked pantries will have most of the ingredients.

At the end of our 7 days of groceries last week, we had cauliflower and some frozen fish as the centerpieces of a dinner. I turned to Simple for inspiration.

I found the Chile fish with Tahini( pg 250) fit the bill.

Other than subbing canned tomatoes for the fresh called for in the recipe, the fish dish was simple and delicious and certainly jazzed up boring white pacific cod fillets.

We also made the Whole Roasted Cauliflower found on page 94. The basting is necessary to brown the cauliflower over its 1 ½ hour roasting time. The result is unbelievably tasty…dipped in green tahini sauce with lemon and salt it’s a total winner!

We added a green salad with a few leftover greens and lemon vinaigrette for a very satisfying middle eastern style dinner.

You an find the cookbook on the Indigo site or on Amazon books. Also, both these recipes are available on the internet if you search Ottolenghi and the recipe name.



Okonomiyaki-Cabbage Pancakes


Okonomiyaki-Cabbage Pancakes
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  • 2 lg eggs
  • ½ -3/4 cup water or dashi (Japanese broth mix)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1Tbsp.toasted sesame oil
  • ¾ - 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4-5 cups shredded green cabbage (*napa is fine too)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. oil for frying
  • * make sure you squeeze all the water out of Napa cabbage before mixing it into batter using a tea towel to wring out moisture
recipe by STIR Cooking School


In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, water or dashi, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth. Whisk in flour ¼ cup at a time until you have a thick smooth batter.

Add the cabbage, carrots, and green onion and mix well.

Heat oil in cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium.

Once hot, add ¾ cup of the batter per pancake. Press down to form a circle and place lid on to steam. Once golden brown(3-5min) flip the pancake and cook on the other side. Place on plate and cover until all pancakes are done.

These tasty hearty pancakes make a delicious snack or as a main course pancake bar and let everyone customize their pancake with protein and toppings

Makes 4-6 large pancakes

Protein Options
-any protein works for going in or on the pancake (shrimp, tuna, salmon, shredded chicken)
-the traditional recipe calls for pork hock which is cooked on one side of the pancake in strips.

Sriracha Mayo
Mix ¼ cup Japanese or regular mayo with 1-2 sriracha sauce

Okonomiyaki sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
4 tbsp tomato sauce or ketchup
3 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Mix together in a small bowl

You can pile toppings of your choice on the pancakes and pass the sauces:
i.e. Sesame seeds, green onions, stir fry veggies, seaweed strips, beansprouts, corn, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, kimchi, pickled ginger, crispy tofu, seafood or cooked fish or chicken of your choice.


Planning a Pandemic Pantry

The way we shop, cook, and eat has changed quite a bit in the last month for most of us.  Infrequent shopping trips mean we have to make lists wisely and often we find certain ingredients unavailable and shelves empty once we arrive at stores.  Many people have a smaller food budget right now which necessitates shopping carefully and ensuring we use the food we buy and not let it go to waste.  Some people are unable to shop for themselves and are relying on others to shop for them. Many are beginning to plant gardens or expand their existing gardens as the reality of the long-term effects of this situation sets in.

However, despite all the challenges, I am heartened and optimistic when I see so many people cooking again.  With more time, people are exploring food!  Yeast and flour are extremely hard to come by since so many people have been experimenting with artisan breads.  Social media is filled with images of food made from scratch by proud home chefs.  This is encouraging and I hope we never go back to relying on others to feed us!

Having a stocked pantry is always important, but now it seems imperative.  Keeping your pantry well-stocked doesn’t mean hoarding though.  There will be enough food for everyone if everyone purchases just what they need!  I find people have been incredibly supportive and willing to share what they have.  I hope this caring for one another continues in the future long after the pandemic has passed.

Here are some tips on how to prep your pantry:

Dry goods

Keep a variety of dry beans and lentils on hand.  They are non-perishable, cheap and very nourishing.  They are a good source of protein as well.    Lentils are a big Canadian crop so it’s a great way to support our country’s farmers.

Legumes can also be sprouted – a fun way to enjoy them fresh and uncooked!

Chickpeas can become hummus, or roast them for a crunchy snack or salad topper instead of croutons.

Check out for some more recipes and ideas.



Breakfast can easily be inspired by pantry items.  Chia puddings with chia seeds and coconut milk, oatmeal or overnight oats, or homemade granola. Grains other than oats can make great porridges – try millet or quinoa for a fun change.  Savory breakfasts can also start in the pantry.  Shakshuka is a flavourful and spicy tomato and egg breakfast.


Grains, Nuts, and Seeds

In my dry pantry, I have an assortment of grains:  millet, various types of rice, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, flour, etc. I tend to buy these in larger bulk quantities so that I always have them on hand.  Don’t buy more than you can use up in a reasonable amount of time.  Whole grains will keep well for quite a while, but the more processed grains, such as flours, will go stale more quickly, so it’s best to buy those in smaller quantities.  Many of these grains can be used in sweet or savory applications, giving you lots of options!  Quinoa is also a complete protein, so is great to keep on hand for easy vegetarian meals.

Nuts are seeds should be kept in the fridge or freezer unless you intend to eat them right away.  They have a high oil content and will go rancid quite quickly with heat and light.  Nuts are seeds are good sources of healthy fat and protein and can easily get incorporating into existing meals.



This is one of the most versatile pantry items.  Stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce can become a salsa, a pasta sauce, a tomato soup, a base for chili or a curry.   Sundried tomatoes can add deep flavour to a pasta dish or become a quick topping for crostini.


Keep your freezer full of items like frozen fruit, soups and stews, chili, etc.  You can prepare smoothie jars/bags in advance with everything you need for your smoothie (except the liquid) for a quick breakfast or snack. I always cook big batches of beans then freeze extra in containers or bags so I have them on hand.  Beans like garbanzo beans can be frozen on cookie sheets first, then bagged, to ensure they don’t stick together.  This way you can scoop out just what you need when you need it.


While fresh food and vegetables should always play the starring role in your diet, it is important to have a diverse pantry from which you can pull in items to play a supporting role in a meal. 

If you have any pantry challenges, let us know and we can make some suggestions.  If you have fun panty ideas and inspirations, please share with us!



High Protein Loaf

This healthy high protein, gluten-free, high fiber loaf is a real winner for breakfast lunch or dinner!

High Protein Loaf
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  • ¼ oz yeast
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • ¾ cup ground almonds
  • ¼ cup flaxseeds
  • 3 ½ ounces mixed seeds, (chia, poppy, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 4 large eggs or *egg substitute
recipe by STIR Cooking School


Place yeast and oil in 1½ cups lukewarm water and mix with fork.

Preheat oven to 375.Line a 6-cup loaf pan with parchment paper.

Place the flour, almonds and seeds in a large bowl and create a well. Pick and chop rosemary leaves. Crack the eggs in the middle of the well and beat together. Add the yeast mixture. Whisk until flour on the sides is incorporated. Pour batter into the loaf pan.

Bake in middle of the oven for 45 minutes or place the pan in the fridge and bake the next day. Loaf is ready when the toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

*Egg substitute:1 tbsp. flaxseed and 3 Tbsp. water=1 egg

The Great CARB Debate

With a new year well on its way, we often hear from people making food resolutions…eat healthier, lose weight and maybe cook a few more meals at home (yeah!)

One of the most persistent topics is the push to eliminate carbs in our diets. Surely we will lose all that extra weight and finally get that trim lean body we have dreamed about if we avoid carbs?

Newsflash… it’s the type of carbs that people routinely eat that are the issue. White sugar, white flour, highly processed foods and other “simple sugar” carbs should be avoided as much as possible.

Complex carbohydrates (did you know that veggies and fruit are often mostly carbs?) are necessary to provide us with energy, macro, micronutrients and the fiber we so desperately need.

Not only are carbohydrates the body’s first go-to source of energy, they are chock full of goodness.  Here are some suggested healthy carbs to give you some guidelines:

Complex carbohydrates

  • Vegetables – all!
  • Whole grains-oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole fruit
  • Beans and Legumes
  • Tubers – sweet and regular potatoes

Simple Carbohydrates

  • Sugary drinks-soda, sports drinks
  • Juices
  • White bread and other industrial baking
  • Processed Food – if you can’t recognize the ingredients it’s probably not food
  • Ice cream, candy, high-sugar chocolate

Keep complex carbohydrates on the menu for your healthy eating resolution in 2020!