Homemade Poutine (Fries + Plant-Based Gravy + Vegan Cheese): Recipe #224

When I was pregnant in Canada (close to 20 years ago now!) the two things I incredibly enjoyed eating were poutine and veal sandwiches. Poutine is a French-Canadian dish of french fries with cheese curds on top and covered in gravy, so the cheese gets all gooey. It’s hard to imagine until you actually taste it. The plant-based gravy for this homemade poutine is inspired by Sam, and the french fries are from our recipe here.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($7 for 4 good servings)

8 Yukon Gold potatoes – $1.44
Water – free
1/4 cup olive oil – $0.40
Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup margarine or vegan butter – $0.62
1 onion, chopped – $0.50
2 tbsp flour – $0.02
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth – $0.75
Soy sauce to taste

Your favorite dairy-free cheese (feel free to try different ones!) – $2.99
Basil garnish (optional)

Directions for Homemade Poutine

1. Make the fries according to this recipe, or prepare frozen french fries according to the package if you don’t have 2 hours to spare.

2. Make the gravy: In a large pan over medium high heat, melt the margarine, then stirfry the onion for about 10 minutes until it starts to get nice and golden. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then slowly pour in the broth while you whisk constantly, so it doesn’t get lumpy. Keep whisking and cooking until it’s nice and thick, then turn off the heat. Add soy sauce to taste, which also gives it a nice rich color.

3. Assemble your homemade poutine: Put your fries in a bowl first, then sprinkle a generous helping of dairy-free cheese, then smother the whole thing in gravy. Add a basil leaf on top for flair if you like, then dig into your comforting bowl of Canadian goodness.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 14/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Maple Apple Butter: Recipe #223

This is a sweet apple topping for your favorite ice cream that comes from the Canadian Museum of Nature in honor of Canada Day, and summer, and apples. Maple apple butter is also great to eat on its own, like a thick applesauce. Next time you have some extra apples lying around, give it a try!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($3.50 for 4 good servings)

4 apples, chopped up – $1.20
3 tbsp margarine – $0.47
1/2 cup water – free
1/2 cup maple syrup – $1.90
1/4 tsp cinnamon – $0.07

Non-dairy vanilla ice cream to serve (optional)

Directions for Maple Apple Butter

1. Put the chopped apples, margarine, and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then cook for 5 minutes on medium high after it starts to boil, stirring occasionally. Then drop the heat to medium low and add the maple syrup and cinnamon. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the apples are very tender. Give it a good stir every couple of minutes.

2. When the apples are very nice and soft, pour everything from the pot into a glass blender and puree it until it’s really nice and smooth. Serve warm or cold over your favorite ice cream, or eat it as is for a lovely thick applesauce treat.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 2 = 4-6 servings
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Mappleberry Muffins: Recipe #221

Apples, blueberries, maple syrup, oats – these mappleberry muffins have all the wholesome goodness of Canada. And no animals were harmed in making them! We polished these off for breakfast over a couple of days. Hope you enjoy them too.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($5.50 for 12 muffins)

1 1/4 cup flour – $0.20
2/3 cup whole wheat flour – $0.12
2 1/2 tsp baking powder – $0.04
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
1 cup rolled oats – $0.12
3/4 cup brown sugar – $0.39
1 tsp vanilla – $0.20
1/3 cup maple syrup – $1.43
3/4 cup soy milk – $0.28
1/2 cup almond milk yogurt – $0.67
1/3 cup canola oil – $0.22
1 1/4 cup frozen blueberries – $1.25
1 apple, grated, with skin – $0.29

Directions for Mappleberry Muffins

1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, salt, oats, and brown sugar. In a separate small bowl, mix the vanilla, maple syrup, soy milk, yogurt, and canola oil. Add the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and mix just until combined. Then fold in the grated apple and frozen blueberries until they’re evenly distributed. Do not overmix. The batter will turn purple, and that’s ok!

2. Pour the batter into 12 lined muffin cups. Sprinkle a few extra oats on top of each muffin if you like. Bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes until golden on top and a chopstick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, then enjoy with your morning coffee, tea, or soy milk.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 18/18

If any of you lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Paqa’s Scottish Scones: Recipe #211

My mom used to make these for breakfast on weekends, but you could whip a batch up for a British tea time too. They’re delicate little Scottish scones that you break in half and load up with berries and whipped cream. Definitely best eaten when they’re warm. Each bite is like a dream.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($2 for about 18 scones)

2 cups flour – $0.32
1 tbsp baking powder – $0.03
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
1/2 cup cold margarine – $1.24
2/3 cup soy milk – $0.25

Directions for Scottish Scones

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Quickly cut the cold margarine in with a knife until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then stir in the soy milk quickly with a fork and mix until the dough follows the fork around the bowl.

2. On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and knead it quickly about 8-10 times, handling it gently. Pat the dough out to 1/2″ thickness and cut circles out with a 2″ round cutter or glass, using a straight-down-then-twist motion. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, setting them apart for crusty biscuits or close together with the sides touching for softer ones.

3. Bake at 450F for 12-15 minutes until they start to separate in the middle and are lightly golden. Serve hot from the oven with dairy-free whipped cream, your favorite berries, or just some jam or honey.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Canadian Hodgepodge Stew: Recipe #210

Hodgepodge is a bit like taking whatever vegetables you have left from your garden and tossing them into a big, nourishing stew. I learned about it from the East Coast of Canada, but no doubt there are similar recipes wherever people grow food. It’s very rewarding to turn leftover things into delicious things, like this Canadian hodgepodge!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($9 for a large pot of stew)

2 tbsp coconut oil – $0.31
1 cup chopped onion – $0.50
1 tsp each oregano, garlic powder, and sage – $0.42
2 cups halved baby potatoes – $0.90
2 cups cooked pinto beans – $0.79
2 cups chopped snap peas – $2.29
2 cups chopped beet greens -$1.99
1 cup frozen corn – $1.00
1 cup unsweetened soy milk – $0.37
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar – $0.27

Directions for Canadian Hodgepodge Stew

1. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over medium high heat, then add the onion, oregano, garlic powder and sage. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the potatoes and enough water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, then turn it down to a medium low simmer. Stir in the beans and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender to be easily poked with a fork.

2. Add the chopped up snap peas and beet greens, then the frozen corn and soy milk. Mix thoroughly.

3. Cook for a few more minutes to combine all the flavors, then serve your Canadian hodgepodge stew warm in individual bowls. Enjoy!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 2 = decent meal
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 3 = optimal nutrition
  • TOTAL: 17/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Fluffy Twister Bagels: Recipe #205

We’ve tried a number of bagel and soft pretzel recipes now, and this one is by far the best! The flavor that comes through with the overnight rising is unbelievable, and boiling them in honey water instead of baking soda makes it taste legit – just like a bakery in Toronto I used to go to. As soon as we finish eating one batch of twister bagels we start making another one! Thanks to Sally for some key refinements to our previous recipes.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($4 total for 8 twister bagels)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tbsp brown sugar – $0.37
1+1/2 cups hottest tap water – free
3 cups white + 1 cup whole wheat flour – $0.64
1 tbsp salt – $0.12
1 tbsp olive oil to coat the rising bowl – $0.10
1/4 cup honey – $0.56
8 cups water – free
Bagel toppings (1 tbsp each sesame seeds and poppy seeds) – $1.40
1 egg, beaten – $0.29

Directions

1. In a small plastic (non-metal) bowl, mix the yeast and brown sugar, then add the hottest tap water. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to form a foam over the surface. In a separate, larger bowl, mix the flours and salt.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together. Use your hands to knead it for about 7-10 minutes. Rub the olive oil around the larger bowl, then add the dough ball to it. Cover and let rise in the fridge overnight. It will about double in size.

2. In the morning, take the dough out from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 45 minutes before working with it.

Punch the dough down and cut it into 16 equal parts, then roll out each part into a thin rope about 6″ long. Pinch two ropes together at one end and then twist them around each other. After twisting the whole length of the ropes, pinch to join the two ends together in a circle to make a twisted bagel shape. See the pictures below to help you out.

Repeat for all the pieces of dough until you get 8 twisted bagels. Let the bagels rest while you prepare the water bath.

3. Heat the 8 cups water and honey in a large pot until it boils. Turn the heat down to simmering (medium or medium-high) and gently place a few bagels in at a time. They will float to the top. If they don’t, gently loosen them from the bottom of the pot with a spatula. Cook for 1 minute, then flip them over and cook for 1 minute more. 

Brush the boiled twister bagels with the beaten egg, then dip them in a bowl of mixed sesame and poppy seeds if desired. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. They will be a nice deep golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy fresh with a salad or with your favorite sandwich fillings, or store in the freezer for eating later!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 1 = >3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 15/18

If any of you amazing home chefs tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Easter Paska Buns with Apricot Glaze: #161 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

In Mennonite communities, a special Easter treat is a sweet iced bread from Oma’s oven. One of our readers Marilyn submitted this recipe for us to experiment with: “A special Easter bread at our house. Have fun trying it out!” It came out as a sumptuous cross between a brioche and a donut. We enjoyed it as a post-hike dessert following our weekend climbs around neighborhood hills.

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($6.50 total for 4 large, sharable rounds)

Buns:
1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tsp brown sugar – $0.03
1/2 cup hottest tap water – free
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tbsp soy milk (or milk) – $0.24
3/4 cup brown sugar (or sugar) – $0.39
1/3 cup coconut oil (or butter) – $3.30
2 eggs – $0.58
1/2 tsp vanilla – $0.10
3 3/4 cup flour plus a little for the board – $0.60
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03

Glaze:
2 tbsp apricot jam – $0.32
2 tbsp honey – $0.28
1/4 cup icing sugar to thicken – $0.22

Directions

1. In a small, non-metal bowl, mix the yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar, and hottest tap water. Mix gently and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom the yeast. In a separate bowl, mix the soy milk, 3/4 cup brown sugar, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. When the yeast has bloomed nicely, add it to the rest of the wet ingredients and stir to combine.

2. In a large metal bowl, mix the flour and salt together, then make a well in the flour and add the wet ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring it together into a nice soft dough. It should be fairly sticky. Knead it for 5 minutes, only adding flour if it’s really sticking to your fingers. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a slightly pre-warmed oven to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

Once it’s doubled, shape it into 4 equal rounds. Cover again and leave to rise in a warm place for 1/2 hour, until doubled.

3. Bake the risen rounds: preheat the oven to 300F. When you put the paska buns in, turn the heat down to 275F. Bake for 25 minutes or until very slightly golden, then remove from the oven. Marilyn says, “I bake them low and slow because it’s a sweet dough.”

Mix all the glaze ingredients together, and when the paska buns are cooled, cover the rounds with the glaze. The glaze recipe above makes enough for 1 round generously covered. If you’re not going to eat all the buns right away, freeze the remaining ones without glaze, then defrost and glaze them when you’re ready to eat. Enjoy the baked brioche-donut paska deliciousness!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 2 = 1-3 hours
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 1 = eat rarely
  • TOTAL: 15/18

Thanks for the recipe, Marilyn! If any of you other lovely readers tried it, or have other recipes you’d like us to experiment with, please let me know. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Mom’s Branberry Muffins: #146 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Crunchy on top, soft and warm inside, packed with fruit and fiber and goodness, these just might be the best muffins to start your day. We use frozen blueberries and raisins, so they can be made any time of year. A big hit with the whole family!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($4 total for 12 muffins)

3/4 cup flour (white or whole wheat) – $0.12
3/4 cup bran – $0.44
1/2 cup wheat germ – $0.29
3/4 cup brown sugar – $0.39
1 tsp baking soda – $0.01
1/2 tsp salt – $0.03
1 tsp orange rind, grated or finely chopped – $0.20
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen – $1.25
1/2 cup raisins – $0.50
1 egg – $0.29
3/4 cup soymilk with 3/4 tbsp apple cider vinegar – $0.38
1/4 cup canola oil – $0.19

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, bran, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl, mix the orange rind, blueberries, raisins, egg, soymilk (pre-mixed with the vinegar) and canola oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

2. Spoon the batter evenly into about 12 muffin cups. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top and a chopstick inserted into the middle of the tallest muffin comes out clean.

3. Serve warm and enjoy straight up or topped with your favorite spreads: butter, jam, peanut butter, honey, coconut butter, agave, etc.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17

Experiment Outcome: This recipe gets added to our Family Favorites! 🙂

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Blueberry Buns from a Toronto Jewish Bakery: #143 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Every time I visit my parents in Toronto, it’s a must to stop by their local Jewish bakery and pick up some fresh blueberry buns. They’re packed with a thick blueberry sauce and not ridiculously sweet. We decided to try making them at home, with good results!

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($5.50 total for 9 buns)

1 tbsp active dry yeast – $0.50
1 tsp sugar – $0.02
1/2 cup hottest tap water – free
3 cups flour – $0.48
1/4 cup sugar – $0.22
1 tsp salt – $0.05
3 tbsp coconut oil – $1.65
2 eggs – $0.58
1/2 tsp vanilla – $0.10
2 cups frozen blueberries – $1.25
1/2 cup brown sugar – $0.13
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water – $0.10
1/4 tsp salt – $0.02
1 egg, beaten, to brush over buns – $0.28
Sugar to sprinkle on top (optional)

Directions

1. Make the dough: in a small non-metal bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp sugar in the hot tap water. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom and form a thick foam on top. In a large metal bowl, mix the flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt, then add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture along with the coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix together well until it forms a ball of dough. Knead briefly and set aside.

2. Make the blueberry filling: in a medium pot, heat the blueberries, brown sugar, dissolved cornstarch, and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat down once it boils and stir continuously until it’s nice and thick. Pour onto a plate to cool it off before filling the buns.

3. Assemble and bake: on a floured board, roll out the dough to about 18×18″ square. Cut out squares roughly 5 or 6 inches wide, and put about a tablespoon of blueberry filling in the middle of each square. Pick up the top and bottom sides and pinch them together, then pinch all the way along each edge until the sides are sealed too. For an extra secure seal and a nice pattern, fold the pinched edge over on itself to make a little lip as in the photo. Brush each filled bun with the beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar if you like, and bake at 375F for 16-20 minutes until golden brown on top. Enjoy! Leftovers freeze well too.

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness:  3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 3 = minimal damage
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 17

Experiment Outcome: This recipe gets added to our Family Favorites! 🙂

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!

Dark Chocolate Almond Bark: #132 of 1000 Sustainable Food Experiments

Chocolate bark is a winter holiday treat in our family, but we figured why not make it all year round? It’s a wonderful mid-morning pick-me-up. We mixed two kinds of dark chocolate here, and we left the almonds raw to preserve some nutrients, but you could roast them if you prefer a toastier flavor. 

This is part of our 1,000 Food Experiments to create sustainable meals for our family and hopefully yours.

Ingredients ($13 total)

2 cups good dark chocolate disks – $4.99
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips – $2.00
3 cups almonds (raw or roasted) – $6.00

Directions

1. Place a medium or large metal bowl over a pot of boiling water to create a double boiler. Pour the chocolate into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until it melts in the hot bowl (heated by the boiling water beneath). 

2. When the chocolate has melted and is silky smooth, remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds. Stir to mix well, then pour it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread out the chocolate-coated almonds evenly to cover the whole sheet.

3. Place in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes, then remove the bark as one piece from the baking sheet. Chop it up with a sharp knife on a chopping board, and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy a piece as a morning or afternoon pick-me-up!

Sustainability Score (explained here)

  • Time to make: 3 = <1 hour
  • Servings: 3 = lots of leftovers 
  • Cost per serving: 3 = <$5
  • Deliciousness: 3 = when are we having this again?
  • Environmental impact: 2 = moderate impact
  • Nutritional value: 2 = healthy-ish
  • TOTAL: 16/18

If you tried it, please let me know how it came out for you. Wishing you and your family a healthy, happy day!