Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cabbage Bean Soup


Here's yet another fusion of scavenged recipes coupled with my own personal tastes. After the excesses of the holiday season a simple soup like this is both much welcome and much needed :-), and a good way to get back on the fast for those of you who are still in Advent, but didn't escape the American Christmas festivities unscathed. (Or unfed rather ;-).)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Roasted Carrot Soup

This is a nice, flavorful soup and great on a cold winter night with a piece of baguette. If I make this in the future I want to try adding some dill to the seasoning mix, and perhaps also some peas or cubed carrots. As usual, if you dislike something or think the recipe needs more of something else, then go for it!

Fe'asting Bread

We're officially well into December, which means it's almost time to celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra (6/19 December), under whose protection I placed my family not long after my conversion to Orthodoxy. Having a patron saint for an entire extended family is primarily a Serbian Orthodox custom, but when I first came across it the whole idea struck me as extremely practical. I try to pray, but I don't do anywhere near as much praying as I ought to, and so asking someone whose whole life was and is permeated by prayer and who always went out of his way to help others to pray for my family just made sense.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dill Pasties

I both love and hate to travel, but I have to do a fair amount of it irregardless of how I feel because of how spread out my family and friends are. (That's what happens when you're born of generations of immigrants to missionary parents in Africa - there was just no chance of a settled life from the get go.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Split Pea Stew

This was meant to be a crockpot recipe, but then my day got away from me and it became a stove top stew instead :-). A couple of modifications were made along the way, but if you want the original crockpot recipe, then click here. Among other things it's hotter than the version I made, which was still rather hearty and warming despite its dearth of the chili powder called for in the original recipe :-).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Lentil Carrot Soup

So, what do you do when you're so on edge doing the grocery shopping 'cause of all the crowds of crazy people in the store that you take twice as long as you'd thought you'd take to get in 'n out and find yourself with only 45 minutes to make supper for six instead of a couple of hours? Will the pot pie you had planned with its twenty million things to chop and pre-cook - before you can even think of baking the whole thing - work? Of course not! So what is the answer to this problem? Lentil soup!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Russian Fish Soup

This - уха ("ukha") in Russian - is one of those dishes that every grandmother makes her own special way, so if you're Russian and reading this, please stop now! This is my blend of several recipes, whereas you have your own tradition to keep! (Plus you'd probably read this and go, 'He thinks you should put WHAT in ukha!?')

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ginger Cookies

It's funny how the change of seasons can bring about a change in tastes and desires. Fall comes and I crave all things pumpkin, and then American Thanksgiving comes and goes and suddenly all I can think about are these ginger cookies :-). And since the Advent Fast gets going shortly after Thanksgiving, having a vegan recipe is a must! This is a tweaked version of a recipe that can be found here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thai-style Shrimp Soup

So, full disclosure: This was supposed to be a Thai crab soup. Then I pitched the crab for shrimp. Then I realized I had coconut milk, not coconut juice, so that happened. Green onions replaced shallots. Fish sauce replaced shrimp paste. Then I tasted the finished product and remembered how much I dislike Thai soups. Absolutely can't stand them - I have yet to taste one I've liked. So a couple more things were added and voila, this suitably off-bland, just a step down from being sour soup was born :-).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fasting Cabbage Rolls

This was an interesting recipe to try, one that's left me thinking it's high time for a cabbage roll makeover. (I'm thinking 'Cabbage Rolls Go to Bollywood,' but that'll have to wait for another day.) It's also left me thinking that if I think a new recipe might take 2 hours to make, then I'd better add an extra hour to that just in case. (But I'm crazy slow - it shouldn't take you fasties too long!)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Grilled Wasabi Shrimp

This recipe is epic - epically delicious, epically easy, and epically and shamelessly stolen from a friend of mine, who originally came across it here. It is also an epic fasting recipe, albeit not vegan per se. Pescetarian, yes. Vegan, no. (Unless you're Orthodox, in which case seafood often takes on a vegetablesque, humdrum aura as the years go by.) I must confess though, I like this recipe so much I dream of it even when I'm not in the middle of a fast!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

What can I say, 'tis the season! I've been wanting to try my hand at sweet potato pie for a while, but now that it's November and I've already been to three Thanksgiving dinners (with two more on their way) I feel that the time is finally come! This particular recipe is a blend of three or four recipes I found online, and is purposefully dairy-free due to the dietary needs of a couple of friends of mine.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Infirfir Shiro

Disclaimer: This is not my favorite Ethiopian dish. (Far and away!) It is, however, a nice, spicy, healthy, and - most importantly of all - easy vegan dish to pull out on fast days, especially during winter when the spiciness of this will give your system the kick it needs to keep going!

Crock-pot Jamaican Red Bean Soup

Birhane Silase Marley, Rastafarianism, and Ethiopian Orthodoxy have come up a couple of times in the last week, so I thought it would be appropriate to make something from Jamaica for dinner this week! I found this recipe intriguing as it combined a few things I'm not sure I would've mixed on my own, and I'm quite pleased by how it turned out! What follows is my modification of this recipe, which didn't require much tweaking to make it crockpoty awesomeness.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

This is a variation on a theme - Sophia's cheesecake - that grew out of my extreme disappointment in a pumpkin dessert recipe I tried out a bit ago. (Trust me, this is way better than that was - I'm still surprised anyone I served them to ate them!) I've since done two or three experimental batches, and I think this is the final version of this recipe. If it's not, however, I'll be sure to post any future adjustments I make!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Crockpot Butter Chicken à la Jean-Marc

This was fantastic. I absolutely hate handling raw meat - despise and detest it really - but how this turned out made it totally worth it. A must make! Although if you don't like cayenne you might want to pull back on that just a tad. This is an adaptation of a couple of recipes, easily serves a group of six or more. (I'm still delighting in the leftovers, and I gave half of them away!)

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This may well be a recipe someone else has already come up with, in which case I declare myself the Finder-Keeper and you, the original inventor, the Loser-Weeper! So ha! The joke's on you!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Masala Pie

When I originally planned my menu for this year's Canadian Thanksgiving dinner I had thought to just make straight up pumpkin pie for dessert. As I was making the first pie, however, I realized that a lot of the spices for the regular pie were the same as what's in the tea masala I brought with me from eastern Africa when I moved to the States after high school. That led to my second pie, the pumpkin masala one! I may be modifying the recipe later depending on how the pie actually tastes tomorrow night, but my sampling of the batter makes me think that this will be a keeper! (And perhaps something to pull out in the future for St. Thomas' main feast day since it falls in mid-October!)

Thanksgiving, Indian Style

Each fall I celebrate two Thanksgivings, one in early October when the Canadian side of my family celebrates it and the other in late November when my family in the United States celebrates it. Since I've lived in the United States for the better part of the last decade it's American Thanksgiving that generally gets the big celebration, whilst I generally observe Canadian Thanksgiving with a little cranberry sauce, a bottle of Canadian beer, or even both if I'm feeling really festive!

This time around, however, I'm staying with friends who won't be able to eat a full American Thanksgiving dinner since they're on the reformed calendar and start fasting mid-November, and I'm feeling inspired both by that and my parents' long tradition of making Indian food (and possibly a recent episode of Steven and Chris, lol) to make an Indian-style Thanksgiving dinner. Depending on how things turn out I will be posting the recipes here, with the exception of the recipe for the masala pumpkin pie I just made, which I tasted before baking and which was absolutely divine! (THAT recipe will be posted shortly!)

This has all come together rather last minute and I'm not aiming to simply transform traditional staples by adding some curry, so don't get excited for 'curried roast turkey' or 'turmeric mashed potatoes' - they're just not happening! (Well, okay, turkey was supposed to happen, but have you seen how expenses just plain turkey breasts are these days?! Pass the chicken, please and thank you!) On the menu for tomorrow night's Thanksgiving dinner is butter chicken, spiced mashed sweet potatoes, pumpkin saag (from the Veganomicon, a must read!), and masala pumpkin pie. And, of course, jellied cranberry sauce from a can, the way God intended! (I just can't give that stuff up!)

I'm about halfway through my cooking and calling it for the night since I have church in the morning. (A joyous feast to everyone celebrating the Protection of the Mother of God tomorrow!) I shall, however, post an update sometime tomorrow after dinner if all goes well, and then the recipes shortly thereafter. Happy Thanksgiving!

Update (16/10/2013): Most of what I made turned out okay, but the pumpkin saag was AWFUL. Absolutely awful. For some reason some of my friends liked it, but I thought it was utterly foul. Never again! If you're desperate for something awful involving pumpkin and spinach go buy a copy of the Veganomicon (linked above) and try it for yourself - it's on page 184.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Michiganian Peanut Stew

Once upon a time I thought peanut butter was for spreading on toast and peanuts the only snack legally allowed to be served on airplanes. Now thanks to my lovely Ghanaian and Bolivian friends from university I know that you can throw them together with a few greens and seasonings and make an awesome stew too!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kielbasa Chili

I would never in a million years have thought that I would eat a chili worth dying for, but this is definitely it! It seems so greasy and wrong - and it is, oh so very wrong! - but it's entirely irresistible. Any sausage lovers out there are going to love this. (You just can't go wrong with kielbasa!)

Sophia's Cheesecake

This became my favorite go-to dessert almost instantaneously - it was that good! Making it for a get-together or event is always a gamble as you can never be entirely sure how much of the resulting yummy goodness will actually make it out of the kitchen! (If only that were just a joke!) Disclaimer: Don't expect to bring any leftovers home if you do take it to a function. (You've been warned!) Unless, of course, you are friends with people who don't like food, in which case you shouldn't be wasting this on them in the first place!
Sts. Sophia, Faith, Hope, and Love

Sophia's "cheesecake" (cheesecake bars really) is excellent for fattening up those loved ones in your life needing a bit of meat on their bones and can be highly useful in bartering and/or hostage situations. I have also found it to be an excellent thank you gift for overworked clergy and a good treat for the little people in my life. As well as an excellent treat for myself. Have I mentioned that I really like this recipe?

The original recipe was for sopapilla cheesecake, but I've rechristened my adaptation in honor of the many, many, many Sophias I know - you seriously would not believe how many Sophias, Sonyas, Sophies, Sofiyas, and Sofichkas have been in my life over the years! (Plus if you say "sopapilla cheesecake" as fast as you can it basically comes out sounding like "Sophia's cheesecake" anyways.) A life of the original Sophia - St. Sophia - and her daughters can be found here.

Greek-Style Kollyva

Kollyva is a basic part of Orthodox Christian life in much of Eastern Europe and parts of the Middle East. Although predating Orthodox Christianity, kollyva today is made in memory of the dead and blessed during memorial services in line with the Lord's saying that "unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24). Although kollyva can be made with rice or other grains, wheat is traditionally used in making it because of the Gospel passage.
Kollyva for the Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide

In most Orthodox countries kollyva is offered on certain days - St. Demetrius' Saturday, the Soul Saturdays during Lent, and the Day of Rejoicing among them - as well as for funerals and memorials. There are many ways to make kollyva, but the recipe here follows Greek practice in a general way, albeit with modifications I've made over the years since I started making kollyva.

Feel free to follow the recipe or to modify it to suit your tastes - there's no right way to make kollyva, as long as it tastes good ;-)! Over the years I've had everything from kollyva with Jordan almonds to kollyva with candy corn, so be as adventurous as you like. (There may well be as many ways to make kollyva as there are people making it!) If you are making kollyva in memory of a dead loved one or dead loved ones, then while you are preparing it pray as much as you are able for the people you want remembered later in church. God grant them (and all of us) to partake in His heavenly kingdom!

Oxen and Elephants

Welcome to my blog! I've taken its name from an Ethiopian proverb: "A fool will pair an ox with an elephant." While I am generally a cautious cook, I do occasionally find myself combining crazy things or fusing elements from different cuisines that don't often come together. These culinary adventures are sometimes great, but at other times they remind me of the proverb, much to my chagrin!

I plan on posting the more interesting of the recipes I try, mostly because I tend to modify most of the recipes I take from cookbooks or online and I'd like a record somewhere so that I don't forget what I've done. Selfishness aside, I do enjoy my cooking and I like to share it, so this blog will be another way of doing that! (Albeit a somewhat more involved one for you since I won't just be giving you the fruit of my labors!)

I'm an Orthodox Christian and and a wannabe vegetarian/pescetarian who loves bacon, so there are seasons in my life I'm vegan or vegetarian, and others when I'm a full-on carnivore. Hopefully this will result in there being a bit of something for everyone posted here sooner or later! Whatever may come, I hope it's as enjoyable for you as it is for me! Good appetite!