Recently I saw a disturbing photo of an extremely emaciated polar bear. I seriously re-evaluated some of the things I do and don’t do.
One of the things I’ve done with spell it with PEAS from the beginning is to reuse and recycle as much as I can. I turn box lids into shipping boxes; reuse boxes that come into my home for outgoing shipping; save bubble wrap, linings and plastic bags; I stuff some of the pillows I make with yarn ends; I reuse fabric scraps; I ride my bike to the post office and even the yarn I use and sell the most of is recycled from the textile industry.
So, I found it difficult (yet, enlightening) to reply to an email from the ONLY customer who has ever mentioned my shipping practices. She felt that I should further enhance my image with better packaging. She meant well. When asked she said, I should consider using coloured tissue paper, stickers and boxes (all brand new) instead of the recycled items I’ve used. She was happy with the care I took to make sure her items weren’t damaged on their long journey, happy with the items and even left positive feedback. But I think of that polar bear and imagine how much more damage could be done to our planet if I actually followed through on such a request.
There is a part of me that would love to have green tissue paper, trinkets and specially-made boxes with my beautiful, bright logo on it —I am a sucker for good marketing materials, but I can’t resign myself to accepting that sort of (un)focused use of the world’s resources.
I asked her: What did you do with the packaging once you retrieved your items from the swaths of newsprint and re-used bubble wrap? You know the answer…one word: Landfill. Perhaps our encounter has also enlightened her too.
So, here at spell it with PEAS —inspired by nature— I promise to continue recycling and reusing as much as I possibly can. If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them!
My mouth is watering just writing about making this spinachy goodness!
600g clean spinach
60ml peanut butter (I prefer natural PB, but just use what you have (smooth, chunky))
30-45ml rice vinegar (or mirin) (depending on how vinegary you like things)
30ml soy sauce or tamari (tamari for gluten-free)
15-20ml sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, honey, etc., but no artificial sugar)
15-45ml warm water
45g toasted sesame seeds for topping
Wilt the spinach in a steamer or add a couple of centimetres of water to a pot. Stuff that spinach in. It will wilt in only a couple of minutes, so watch it carefully so it doesn't get mushy. (No one likes mushy vegetables.)
Tip into a colander and let it cool.
In a blender, hand-held blender or food processor, blend together the peanut butter, tahini, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and a bit of the water (add more if needed for a pourable, but thick consistency). Taste. Adjust.
Keep at room temperature until your spinach is ready to wear the glorious sauce.
Drain. Drain. Squish and drain. Use a colander, time and your hands. Get squishy with it. Trust me…you'll want this to be as un-watery as possible.
Then form it into balls about the size of an orange and set them in little bowls. I love little bowls!
Pop them into the fridge to set for about 30-60 minutes.
Pour over the sauce and top with the toasted sesame seeds.
Devour. You can most certainly try to eat this with chopsticks, but I bet you can't get it in your mouth fast enough…just fork it!
*I forgot to take a photo the last time...I was too busy inhaling the gomae. I'll add one some other time.
Nutrition information - click on image to enlarge.
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch ((if necessary, to thicken the gravy))
1 1/2 tablespoon hot water ((with the cornstarch, if necessary, to thicken the gravy))
This recipe was inspired by my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Calgary (I think it's probably the ONLY vegetarian restaurant), The Coup. I've been telling friends for quite some time that I'd post my version of the miso gravy that we have all so hastily devoured when I lived in Calgary. So, enjoy…
Melt butter on low to medium heat.
Chop onion. Later, we'll blend everything, so it doesn't matter the size here unless you don't have an immersion blender. If you do not have one, then mince the onions.
Add to butter, let cook for about three minutes or less, then add the garlic (also minced, if you're not using an immersion blender).
Cook until the onion is translucent. Do not let the onion and garlic brown.
Add flour, whisk or stir. Cook for another minute.
Add veg stock, miso and soy sauce. Bring to low boil. Turn heat to simmer.
Add nutritional yeast flakes, (salt) + pepper and taste. Stir and adjust as necessary.
If the gravy is not thick enough for you, whisk together the cornstarch and hot water in separate bowl: add a bit at a time to the gravy and stir until desired consistency.
If you have an immersion blender, whir up the gravy. Taste again and adjust flavour.
Nutrition information. Click on the image and it will be easier to read. Magic.
Split butternut squash in half —lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and squash guts. Lay cut side down in baking dish.
Place whole head of garlic or break into cloves —leaving the skin on. Put that in the baking dish.
Seed the pepper and cut in half or into quarters. Pop that in the same pan.
Cut onion into quarters and it goes in the pan too.
Add water (optional) to the pan or line with baking paper. I find adding the water speeds up the baking time and helps steam the squash. Some people don't like adding water and prefer baking paper or covering the bottom of the baking dish with olive oil.
Bake at 225°C for about 35-40 minutes. Poke the squash with a fork, if it's done, the fork will glide into the flesh easily.
Skin the squash and garlic. Add all ingredients to a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Add enough broth according to how thin/thick you want the soup —you can add a bit at a time and check consistency after the next step and add more if needed.
Let your soup come to a low boil, then put heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
Get your immersion blender* out and whir up your soup. I don't make a complete puree, I usually leave a few chunky bits.
*You can use a countertop blender, but be very careful. Using this method you should allow the soup to cool down considerably before blending as the heat under the lid produces steam which could pop the lid off, make a mess and possibly scald you. Not pretty or fun. Then you have to heat the soup up again if you make it past this stage successfully.
Taste. Alter flavour and/or alter consistency.
Serve with a red pepper coulis and Greek yoghurt swirl, homemade chunky croutons, zest of lime and swirl of Greek yoghurt, pumpkin seeds or a combination of any or all of these suggestions or none at all.