Monday, October 25, 2010

The travelling vegetarian goes to Texas, Florida and then cruises the Caribbean

It's been pretty quiet around here, unusual since September and October are the months where I rekindle my love of cooking and my kitchen. But, this has not been the usual months either. I've been away on business in the state of Texas and then vacation in Florida and cruising the Caribbean .... As a vegetarian!

In this post, I'll cover Texas and later this week, I'll be talking about travelling the seas on a cruise ship as a vegetarian and my review of the excellent Sublime Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale where I got to try for the first time in my life fried green tomatoes.

So... Texas. Where do I begin? I initially though I was going to Dallas, which is a nice urban area, boasting the Spiral Diner as one of the must try vegetarian restaurants. But turns out that I was in Grapevine, a much smaller community near the airport. Now, I wasn't in a position to travel very far, being without a car, and having to cab or walk around. There might be gems in that town but I certainly didn't find them.

I found what I thought was a vegetarian friendly place called Cozymels. Now it does have vegetarian options, but don't risk it, say you are vegan. Apparently vegetarian includes chicken stock. So I accidentally ate chicken stock. Blerch. Every other place, I had to make do with baked potatoes or deep fried stuff. Not very healthy. Oh well, if you are vegetarian and are in the smaller communities, get a hotel with a kitchenette so you can prepare your own food. Thank goodness for Starbucks and their delicious soy lattes.

However, Fort Lauderdale and the Caribbean rocked and I'll tell you all about that over the next week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My squash obsession: my famous vegetarian squash soup

I'm hosting a belated Canadian thanksgiving at my place and my brother demanded I make this soup. I had forgotten just how wonderful it was. Here's the recipe. The secret ingredients that take it from good to mind blowingly delicious is the red lentils, turmeric and hot curry powder.
  • 1 small buttercup squash cubed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large sweet potato sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2 pieces
  • 2 onions, diced finely
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon hot curry powder
  • 1 pinch crushed rosemary
  • enough vegetable stock to cover
  • 3 bay leaves

In a large dutch oven, cook in onions in olive oil until translucent. Add in the carrots and cook 2 minutes to coat with oil. Add in potatoes and squash and cook for about 5 minutes. Add in a bit of stock if things start to burn. Sprinkle spices over the vegetables and cover in stock. Bring to a boil. Add in the lentils and bay leaves. Cook on a slow simmer for about 2 hours until the vegetables smoosh up against the side of the dutch oven. Then take out the bay leaves - count all three! and then with a hand blender, blend until smooth. Add in vegetable stock as needed to thin it to the desired thickness. At this point, you can taste to see if it needs additional salt and pepper, and season to taste.