Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

berries.jpg
Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

jam
This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.

 

 

Sick Day Soup: An Accidental Recipe

Guys, I feel awful today. And not gonna lie, this soup started out as mashed potatoes because that’s all I ever want to eat when I’m ill. But then I added too much milk. So…soup. Which is also why I don’t have any pictures of the process.

DSC_0020

As you might have guessed, it’s a potato based soup. I’m not feeling up to writing out a long and clever narrative about it, so here’s the recipe. Tweak as needed.


Potato and Scallion Soup

3 redskin potatoes

1/3 cup cold milk

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon chopped scallions/green onions

3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt to taste

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, and pop in the potatoes. Let them cook thoroughly. Once they’re done, take them out of the water and cube them, leaving the skins on.
  2. Warm the olive oil and lightly saute the garlic and half the scallions.
  3. Once those are toasted, turn off the heat and add the milk, and then the potatoes, so the potatoes don’t start to fry.
  4. Use an immersion blender, and basically liquefy everything, adding water until it’s the consistency you’d like.
  5. Add the rest of the scallions and blend them in.
  6. Add salt to taste. When I’m sick I tend to add more salt, because I can’t really taste much.

That’s basically it. It’s great for when my throat hurts too much to eat, I have no appetite, and just need to get something down so I can take my DayQuil and be done with it. Enjoy! I’m crawling back under my blankets and calling it a day.

Almost Cooking: Stuffed Peppers

Since my brother’s away doing his senior project somewhere out of town, tonight I just had to cook for my dad and myself, so I figured I could get a little more adventurous with cooking. I scoured the internet for a few minutes and after a cursory glance at a recipe I knew I wasn’t going to follow, I decided to make stuffed peppers. Now, I’ve made stuffed peppers before. But they involved using rice and ended up bland. So I kind of knew what generally needed to happen. You cook filling and put it inside of peppers. Done.

I dug out of my fridge ground turkey, two tomatoes, two red bell peppers, a red onion (everything is red!), and some minced garlic (okay, garlic’s not red…).

Okay. So I set my olive oil to heat in the pan. Nothing exciting yet.

This is not an exciting picture.
This is not an exciting picture.

Then I chopped up the onion. See how smart I am, chopping the onion under the exhaust fan? No teary eyes here, bitches.

stuffed peppers 3

This time I remembered to saute the onions before I cooked the turkey. I’m on a roll today, man.

stuffed peppers 4

 

And then I added garlic.

stuffed peppers 7

When the onions seemed reasonably cooked, I added the turkey.

 

While that was cooking, I chopped up a tomato. Now, I don’t know about you lot, but I fucking hate chopping tomatoes. It’s the worst. They get all mushy and drippy and generally messy. I always end up with tomato innards running down to my elbow, and it looks awful on the cutting board.

stuffed peppers 2

I added the tomatoes to the pan, added whatever spices sounded good from my cabinet, and let everything simmer while I dismembered the peppers. For that, I cut the stem-y bits off and scraped out the insides, making sure that the edges stayed reasonably intact enough to make a little bowl. At this point I turned my oven on to preheat to 350F. I don’t remember if that’s what the recipe said, but whatever.

stuffed peppers 5

 

Once my peppers were all ready, I lined a casserole dish with foil. The foil is optional, but let’s be real, it means I don’t have to put very much effort into washing out the dish. Then I put the filling into the peppers and laid them out on the dish, and baked them for 25 minutes. I pulled them out at 20 minutes and put mozzarella cheese on top, but I forgot to take a picture of that.

stuffed peppers 8

 

That’s basically it. It’s super easy, but the catch is that there is no dainty way to eat these. I kept dropping things with every bite.

 

 

 

 

Almost cooking: pasta sauce from a jar.

Guys, I suck at cooking. Well, no, I don’t. I’m great at cooking. For myself. For people who CAN eat gluten, all veggies, all meat, y’know, normal food, it’s more of a crap shoot. Emphasis on crap. If a recipe is gluten free, my brother hates it. No questions asked. It’s a mental thing, I’m sure. Because I’ve slipped him cookies that were definitely gluten free and he liked them, asked for more, and upon being told they were gluten free, declared they were awful. So when I have to cook for my dad and brother, I either make something that would be normally gluten free (like rice based dishes), or make a separate gluten free portion for myself. Doing the latter is easiest when I’m making pasta, because then I can just make the sauce, and boil past for my dad and brother, and a smaller pot for myself. I don’t like just opening a jar of sauce and being done with it. While some sauces come with meat and mushrooms and all that added, I like buying jars of plain sauce and adding to them. Especially since I can’t have beef, and that’s the meat that’s usually added.

Here’s a quick, dramatized rundown of how I cook. I’ve omitted all the cussing. Well. Most of the cussing. This is what it’s supposed to look like when it’s done. Surprise! It’s sauce.

photo 1 (2)

I start with cooking ground turkey in olive oil. I let the oil heat up a little first, because I forget to open the turkey before I turn on the stove so that’s just the natural progression of things.

Then I chop up one red onion, and toss that fucker into the pot.

Note how I’m chopping onions on the stovetop under the fume hood so the evil onion fumes get sucked up and away. Yeah. I’m smart. I went to college.

Then I realize I should have cooked the onions first. Like I realize every single time I make this.

It would have been smarter to cook the onion first. Oh well. My degree is in Criminology, not cooking. I doubt my super Indian parents would have let me go to culinary school. “You want to pay to learn to cook? Your grandma will teach you to cook for free!”

I add copious amounts of minced garlic.

photo 4
I just buy pre-minced jars of garlic. Ain’t nobody got time to be mincing garlic. How do you even mince things?

And then sauce from a jar.

photo 5

Spices because I’m Indian.

photo 2 (2)
Does it bother anyone else that the cayenne is a different brand?

 

Serve over pasta. Or over anything you want, because it’s your sauce, dammit, and nobody can tell you what to do with it.