Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's Good to Be a Bitch

I heart my Kind Diet cookbook. It was what started me on this plant-strong journey, and thanks to the amazingly delicious food it has yielded and Alicia's sweet yet persuasive voice, it motivated me early on to stay on this journey. It will always be my number one staple.

After realizing that this was not just a wave I was riding temporarily, I figured I'd better add more cookbooks to my arsenal. And along came Skinny Bitch.

Who wouldn't want to cook out of a book with a badass title like that?

So this summer I went on a bit of a Skinny Bitch cooking streak, trying out a whole crapload of bitch-tastic recipes.

Watermelon and Heirloom Tomato Salad (Skinny Bitch p. 114)

Disclaimer...I just used regular tomatoes (even though I love heirloom) for this salad, just because I wasn't sure how it would turn out and heirlooms are expensive. This was super easy to just have to simmer and reduce the dressing a bit, chop up and throw everything together, and you're good to go. Though this salad was really refreshing, I wasn't a fan of balsamic with watermelon. Those two flavours co-mingling tasted off to me. Rob the Husband, however, really liked it, and claimed it was his favourite of all the Skinny Bitch dishes we tried that day, and my mom got on board with the salad even though it took her a few bites. The tofu garnish added an extra dimension to the texture, which I did like a lot.

For summer refreshment, it really doesn't get any better than watermelon, and even though the flavour combo here weirded me out a bit, I'm sure it's something most people would enjoy.

Creamy Potato Salad (Skinny Bitch p. 119)

This is a fantastic summer BBQ staple. You just cannot go wrong with potato salad, and this version is no different from the potato salads I'm used to. Vegenaise makes vegan eatin' so easy. I added chopped pickles because pickles are awesome, but you can add anything. My mom made it for a BBQ this summer and added carrots, peas, corn...lots of possibilities.

Curried Rice Salad (Skinny Bitch p. 125)

LOVED THIS ONE! Sweet, exotic, and really unique. This is definitely one of my favourite recipes of the bunch, and the one I'm most likely to repeat most frequently. I made it a couple of times this summer. It's a super delicious, guaranteed crowd pleaser. Love love love.

Sweet Potato Leek Casserole (Skinny Bitch p. 232)

Before going plant-strong, I never cooked with leeks. I always associated them too closely with onions, and therefore avoided them. Since pledging my allegience to The Plant, not only have I been cooking with leeks, but I've actually been enjoying them. I've also been building up a tolerance for onions, but I'm still not a fan of them when they mingle with sweet flavours. It would appear that this same aversion crosses over to leeks.

I didn't hate the casserole. I finished what was on my plate, but I didn't go back for seconds or partake in the leftovers. That was ok though, because Rob is a big fan of sweet potatoes and sweet onion-y flavours, so this dish was right up his alley. He loved it. So because of his enthusiasm for it and because it's really easy to make, I would definitely repeat this dish.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower (Skinny Bitch p. 175)

This was another super easy dish. It tastes just like it surprises in this one. Though I love curry (like half of the recipes I'm talking about here are made with curry), I think I prefer cauliflower in its more natural form, like Christopher's Cauliflower Steaks in The Kind Diet. But if I'm on a cauliflower streak one week and I want some variety in how I prepare it, I would totally go with this recipe again. Just needs a pinch more salt for sodium-obsessed me.

One mid-weekday in July (Wednesday 25.0, to be precise), I went on a bit of a bitchy cooking spree, and cranked out four recipes that evening, just for shits and giggles.

I'm a huge fan of Indian food, and a lot of it is vegan by default. There were a couple of recipes side by side in Skinny Bitch that I was eager to try, and I couldn't decide which to try first, so I made them both that day.

Cholay and Aaloo (Chickpeas and Potatoes) (Skinny Bitch p. 168)

Baigan Aaloo (Eggplant and Potatoes) (Skinny Bitch p. 169)

These seemingly similar dishes each had very different, distinct flavours, which I was not expecting. Because I was comparing them directly (they are actually neighbours in the cookbook), I had a definite preference for the chickpeas recipe. I like eggplant a lot, but the way the spices worked in the chickpea dish was more up my was more flavourful and seemed to have a hint of sweetness, maybe because of the ginger. I definitely liked the chickpea dish enough to repeat it, but I won't be repeating the eggplant.

Don't listen to me though, because my mom preferred the eggplant dish, and moms are always right.

Coconut Saffron Rice (Skinny Bitch p. 189)

OMG. This is not particularly interesting to look at, but holy crap is this rice nice. Cooking it with coconut milk makes it incredibly delicate and fluffy, and the hint of saffron just makes it beautifully elegant...or elegantly beautiful. I can't decide. Seriously, since my first experience cooking with saffron, I have been in awe of this stuff. It's so stupid expensive, but I find myself actually thinking it may be worth it. It is just exquisite, both in scent and flavour.

This rice was classy. It's like the food equivalent of Rachel Weisz.

In fact, I think it should be re-named Rachel Weisz Classy Rice. Internal rhyming is awesome.

Wow. That is seriously a spectacularly gorgeous woman. Lucky James Bond.

Coconut and Almond Crusted Tofu (Skinny Bitch p. 203)

This tofu dish was pretty exciting too. It's a bit labour intensive, what with the dredging and the coating and the frying, but it's fun and yummy. It's good to eat it warm and crispy, so this isn't the type of thing I'd put out with the appies at a large dinner party, but for a more intimate gathering where it would be consumed quickly, I'd be all over it. It's a stellar finger food, and you can go nuts with dipping options. The book recommends serving it with Spicy Mango Chutney, but the mangoes we had were not ripe enough to make chutney with (Rob bought the mangoes....he is to blame for the lack of chutney that night) , so we ended up eating the tofu sticks with a sweet chili sauce. Thumbs up.

All in all, Skinny Bitch made for some entertaining readin' and some good eatin'. I must confess that when I bought the cookbook I didn't know there was another Skinny Bitch book that started it all (the "no-nonsense tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous"), and that there's actually a whole Skinny Bitch series.

I ended up reading the original Skinny Bitch book this summer, and it really does read like a bitch slap in the face...but in the best possible way. It's a very colloquial, accessible read, and it gets you thinking. The authors are in your face throughout, so people who aren't open to the information will write the book off as mean and snarky (and then go comfort themselves with some bacon and cow titty-milk), but I was marvelously entertained. It made sense. It's not for everyone, but it definitely is one strategy to get the message across that once we stop putting garbage in our bodies we will stop feeling and looking like garbage. And we can start by eliminating the cruel garbage (my Lord, the chapter where slaughterhouse workers share their stories...horrible...just horrible. I will never go back to supporting that industry).

There are still a ton of recipes I want to try, and I look forward to tackling them like I tackled The Kind Diet.

So if The Kind Diet is the Captain Kirk of my vegan voyage, that would make Skinny Bitch my First Officer Spock.

Lead on, gentlemen.

(Any excuse to get a pic of Chris Pine in my blog. I'm shameless.)