I haven’t been posting a lot on my blog lately, because I feel it is just all too simple. Yet still, people will see or taste what I eat, and have no clue how to prepare it, or wouldn’t have been able to think of it – so I feel it is important to share, even if it is simple.
Simple is what is satiating for me. Like the purity of a bowl of cereal from your childhood (or as a young adult.. or maybe you still dive into the occasional bowl of cereal with the same enthusiasm that I am describing from my youth). It’s the grilled cheese sandwich, mom’s potato soup, spaghetti and meat balls – it’s the simplicity.
One of my favourite movies, “Ratatouille”, features a scene where the very best food critic in Paris comes to a restaurant to taste the food from a new and highly acclaimed chef. The chew knew of the critic’s past, and so decided to make him ‘peasant food’ – which was the ratatouille dish which titled the movie. The memory of the simple farm dish touched him so deeply, the emotions from eating the food overwhelmed him, making the dish a great success. If familiarity were a flavour, it would be our favourite. We yearn for what we know, and often resist new flavours, at least initially. Similarly for simple dishes, we often turn to these because they are comforting and uncomplicated – perfect for our stressed out and chaotic lives. This may be the reason so many people like ‘macaroni and cheese’ right out of the box, or in my case – right out of grandma’s oven.
This dish may look complicated, but it was so incredible easy to make. I don’t even think I could come up with a recipe to include in this post if I could. Underneath, sadly not captured by the camera, was a bed of brown rice. Nothing added, just water and rice cooked in my favourite little ceramic pot.
Next, I steamed some red cabbage in a little water with black pepper and a bit of chopped up garlic. At the last minute I included some chopped kale. Kale typically only needs a moment of steaming to cook. The water level was just about an inch, enough to somewhat boil the cabbage, but steam the kale.
In a cast-iron enamel fry-pan, I heated up some butter and added chopped leeks, cumin seeds and garlic. Once the onions got a bit clear, I added chopped tempeh and a bit of mushroom.
While these items cooked, a dressing was made to pour overtop of the tempeh. This was made up of brown rice vinegar, miso paste, sesame seeds, garlic and flax oil. It was poured on just as it was finished so as to avoid heating the oil.
Everything was piled into a bowl, and then a dollop of my favourite vegan mayonnaise was plunked on top to give the cabbage a bit of moisture – et voila! Simple.
The thing is, the ingredients of this dish were chosen based on what was in my fridge, and it could have been any combination of vegetables. Chopped squash, zucchini, carrot, etc would work. I could have easily scrambled in an egg to the fried leeks, and added that to the bowl instead of tempeh as well.
This is why I hesitate to use recipes. Cooking should be conceptual and very flexible, which you’ll see from more of my other blog posts. Sometimes though, a good recipe just can’t be beat. But otherwise, simple cooked foods can make preparing food so easy, and comforting to the soul.
Let me know if you try to make something like this and post it in the comments! Would love to hear!