Monday, 29 April 2013

Sesame Ginger Coleslaw

I just got the key to my new apartment. This is for real. I am moving. I'm moving in two days, and I've packed one box. And a suitcase and a backpack. How do I have so many clothes? Why do I feel like I wear the same three outfits and yet I have so few clothes to get rid of? Why did I decide that leaving my apartment was a good idea? Can I just take a nap instead? Too bad, I did. Don't I have an exam that I should be studying for? Yes, yes I do.

My current strategy (naptime aside) is to alternate studying with bike trips to move my things. This seems to be working semi-effectively, though I'm having some balancing issues cycling with my enormous backpack.. and my neighbour just gave me a puzzled look and curiously asked if I was going on some really long trip. Nope, just transporting a lot of clothing and a crock pot.

All complaints aside, I am really excited to move. I'm excited for a new apartment and for summer time and to be living with new people and the most adorable little kitten. I'm excited to live in an apartment with roof access, and though it may be a little tricky - it's only accessible by a ladder - I am hoping that I will be able to grow a few things on the roof. Somehow. I'll figure out the moving thing, and THEN I'll figure out the planting thing.

One side effect of moving is that my fridge is pretty empty right now, except for a few dishes I concocted to use up as much of my remaining food as possible. My fridge certainly does not contain this cole slaw, which I actually made a few weeks ago, but I really wish that it did. This salad is exactly what I'm craving with this warm, sunny weather. It is crunchy and sweet and tangy, fresh and bright and light with a hint of spice from the cinnamon and ginger to mix things up. It is also pretty cheap and very easy to make, lasts well in the fridge, and produces enough cole slaw to eat for days (and feed your friends, as well). When I move, the first thing I put in my fridge might just be a cabbage so that I can make this again.

  • 1/2 of a large head of cabbage
  • 1 apple
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cups of fennel
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp mustard
  • 3 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon


1. Thinly slice cabbage and fennel. I hear that mandoline slicers are quite useful if you have them, but I just used a big knife. Dice the apple and onion, grate the carrots, and combine all of these ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Combine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and ginger in a jar. Shake it up, and pour over salad.
3. Add sesame seeds and cinnamon, mix everything up, and leave it for a few hours.

Note: This is oil-free and sugar free, but if you would prefer to add a bit of olive oil or sweetener to the dressing, go for it. Alternately, use orange juice instead of lemon juice for a sweeter cole slaw.

Side note: Does anyone else have difficulties replying to comments on blogger? For some reason I have not been able to reply directly to comments lately, so I have just been posting new comments. I am not sure why, since I have replied to comments in the past using that super handy reply button, but it now does nothing when I click it.
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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Arugula, Beet and Lentil Salad

I'm currently in a bit of a tab-closing frenzy. So long, 50 tabs about hydropower in the Ganges basin. Farewell, every lecture and reading on religion and human rights. Auf Wiedersehen, formula sheets and practice problems for stats. Adieu, plethora of Indian recipes I tried to make last night.. while watching the Sound of Music. Can you tell?

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Pasta

Remember that time when I thought it would be a great idea to start a blog right before the end of the semester? While I was looking for a job? Posting about three times a week would be no big deal, right?

Then remember that time when I spent all day every day in the geography library on the computers waiting for my project to (hopefully) work, except for my few escapes to the gym or to work? And all the food I made was when I got home well after dark and I was too hungry to save any of it to photograph during daylight? Except for that time I made eggplant curry and didn't wash the cilantro enough and didn't have enough coconut milk so it turned out horribly and I got really upset because I was really tired and threw out the little bit that was left. I did eat most of it though. Promise. Food waste is one of my big pet peeves. I wish that I could say lesson learned, but the cilantro gets me every single time.

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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Blood Orange, Fennel and Avocado Salad

Exciting news: I have a job! Yesterday was my first day, though I was training and only there for a few hours. But so far, I'm pretty excited about it. I work in a little teahouse which has a huge assortment of looseleaf tea - and I LOVE tea. I have been stressing about not being able to get a job here for the summer, but I feel like I really lucked out with this place. So far, so good - I didn't break anything and didn't get fired, and people are quite friendly.

Though, now I might have too much to do - I am also taking two classes this summer and was offered a part-time job coaching. On top of that, I finally have my MRI appointment on Wednesday and am desperately hoping that I might be able to row, or at least train, this summer. If I had 36 hours in a day or never needed to sleep, that would be great. I have some figuring out to do, but this is vastly better than a week ago when I thought that I would be jobless and injured for the summer.

What's more, right now I have not only these two jobs, but also finals and an impending move hanging over my head. I am currently spending a lot of time in the library daydreaming about food while waiting for my GIS commands to execute (If you are curious, GIS = Geographic Information Science. If you aren't, I'm just waiting for my computer to do stuff). Last night I was here until the library closed, but my fantasies were finally rewarded when I came home to this truly dream-worthy salad.

I have to be honest, I only made this salad because of the breathtaking assortment of blood orange and fennel salads I have been seeing on the internet. I have never used fennel before in my life, and really had no idea what to do with the strange mandrake-like bulb which I picked up at the market. I looked at it in confusion for a few minutes, wondering why I had bought such a strange thing. Then I nibbled one end to see what it tasted like. And then I tried to figure out how to cut it. Did I cut it properly? Is there a proper way to cut fennel? I really couldn't tell you, but I can tell you that this salad is amazing. Seriously. It's kind of like a dessert. But it's a salad. Magic!

I don't know what it is about this salad - the combination of creamy avocado, crunchy fennel with its tantalizing hint of licorice, and sweet orange slices and dressing somehow creates the most amazing mix of flavours. I seriously want to eat this salad every single day. Which is good, because I don't really know what else to do with the rest of my fennel.

  • Slices of fennel
  • Blood orange, peeled and sliced
  • Sunflower sprouts
  • Baby kale (arugula would work as well)
  • Thinly sliced avocado
  • Dressing (see below)

Really, that's all there is to it. Chop up a few things, put them in a bowl, and pour some dressing overtop.

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mustard
Shake it all up in a jar, and pour however much you want over your salad! You can omit the agave nectar if you want your dressing less sweet, since there is already plenty of sweetness from the orange juice. This is a pretty low-oil dressing, so you may want to play with the amount of olive oil if you want a more traditional consistency.

The Mermaid Cafe is now on twitter! Follow me @themermaidcafe_ for recipes and random thoughts.

If you want to check out another blood orange and fennel salad, Kiran Tarun has an absolutely gorgeous one here.

I am submitting this to Deb's Souper Sundays roundup... yes, it is a salad, but I'm sure it will make some friends there. :)

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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Orange-Topped Chai Rice Pudding

So, I finally told someone that I had created a blog. And then she mentioned it to my mom, who sent me a guilt-inducing "what blog?" message... Oops. Bad daughter moment? Anyways, the moral of the story is that I am no longer the only person reading this blog (hi mom! hi auntie cath!) and suddenly I've stopped posting anything. I guess it's strange to know that someone will actually read this.

In the last few days I got a cold, decided to give up on ever rowing again, mourned the end of my rowing career, panicked about being jobless and not rowing all summer, decided that I couldn't quit rowing, finally quit rowing, accepted that I quit rowing, refused to accept my acceptance that I quit rowing, applied for some jobs, got hired (I think?), got excited about getting hired until I was stranded in a cold metro station for so long that I could no longer feel my feet, passed 400 pageviews (rookie moment, I know), and got an appointment for an MRI which made me determine once and for all that I would not, in fact, give up on rowing just yet. For now.

On top of being somewhat sick and really confused, the little food that I made was largely experimental and either did not turn out or photographed horribly and left me with little to post here. I had wanted my first I-have-at-least-two-readers-now post to play it a little on the safe side, but instead I have a post full of run-on sentences and culinary experimentation. Forgive me.

Before all of this I did come up with a really strange but surprisingly tasty recipe. I quite frequently throw things in a pot and see what happens, but it's hard to explain what I end up with. This is, I guess, coconut-chai rice pudding which I decided to cover with an orange ginger glaze purely because I had orange juice in my fridge and I thought it looked cute. But somehow, it worked out that the creamy and warmly spiced pudding was actually accented nicely by the sweet and tangy orange glaze.

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