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Category Archives: Musings

Thoughts on cooking, eating, shopping or life in general

Bonus post: What I Eat (Vegetarian Lunch)

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I recently bought an Indian tiffin box to carry my lunch to the office, because I wanted to get away from plastic containers. One problem is that you can’t choose to only bring part of the box, you have to bring it all. This is what I had for lunch one day in mid-October:

Aside from the salad, all of those things were leftovers. I overpacked a bit, but I just couldn’t leave the apples because they were too delicious.

Chermoula and Zhoug

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This summer, while travelling, I had lunch at a restaurant owned by an Armenian and a Syrian. The food was delicious and drew on the culinary customs of a wide region. One thing I found especially appealing was a green sauce which was served not just with grilled food, but also with bread.

Naturally I tried to work it out when I got home. I thought it might be chermoula, but I wasn’t sure. I’ve only had that with grilled food. So I whipped up a batch. Sadly it wasn’t what I was looking for. As nice as it is on the grill, chermoula isn’t so good with just bread.

So I tried another guess and made zhoug. It was just what I was looking for: nice with bread, as well as grilled foods.

The two sauces use similar ingredients, but there are important differences between them. Both require a 2:1 proportion of coriander leaves to parsley. Both use garlic, salt, lemon juice, cumin and olive oil. It’s the small differences that make all the difference when it comes to making a dip that’s nice with bread. While chermoula contains paprika, a pinch of cayenne and a little saffron, zhoug uses coriander, cardamom and a good quantity of chiles. I used 3 whole green chiles and topped it with dried chili flakes for a good measure.

Both chermoula and zhoug are great with the grill, but zhoug is also great with bread.

How I post so frequently

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I have been asked a few times how I post every two days. It is a combination of a few factors.

First, I don’t always feel like cooking, but when I do like cooking, I can easily add 3-6 blog posts a week. This lets me build up a backlog. Normally I have 20 posts (40 days) prepared, which means that if I go on vacation, fall ill, or don’t feel like cooking, the posting isn’t affected. As I post this at the end of July, I’m creating posts for October. (I do sometimes reshuffle to let seasonal recipes be posted earlier.)

Second, I do genuinely like to try new recipes. Cooking is a hobby for me, so I don’t tend to fall back on familiar dishes. When I bought aubergines with the plan of making a dip, I might have made baba ghanoush or mutabal, but while the aubergines were roasting I looked to see if there was a similar dip I hadn’t tried, and found melitzanosalata. When I have guests I usually stick with a familiar dinner, but often take the opportunity to try a new cake recipe.

Third, I engage in batch cooking. For instance when I made a green sauce, then tried it with asparagus, lettuce, and roasted vegetables. It was three similar dishes, eaten in three sequential days.

Fourth, I don’t spend much time on the blog. I don’t develop many recipes but try recipes others have posted, with my own modifications. When I do make my own recipes, I often post them casually, lest I lose my enjoyment of blogging. I don’t write a long story about the food. It doesn’t feel like an obligation.

Yet despite my appreciation for trying new things, I do repeat my favourite dishes. Because I usually don’t cook for many people, I usually reduce recipes, and also eat the same thing multiple times. However, I often dress it up with a side dish for the second or third time. Or I might mix things up a little, like dip celery in leftover peanut sauce from spring rolls. And that is the fifth point, which is that posts like oi moochim are dishes that I can make while I’m heating up leftovers, or which I can toss together in the morning and enjoy in the evening.

In fact, my diet is rather simple. In the summer, I enjoy eating lentils with rice for breakfast. Lunch might be a salad or a stir-fry or pasta dish or soup. Dinner might be meze or a salad, or something like noodles if lunch consisted of a salad. During the day I eat fruit – in the summer I keep either berries or chopped melon on hand. Or I might eat frozen grapes. I mostly drink tea (without sweetener or milk), water, or sparkling water.

I work full-time, and my cooking reflects that. My more leisurely cooking is done on the weekend, when I often prepare what I plan to eat early in the week, sometimes cooking for the entire week on Sunday. But I do work from home sometimes, and on those days I’m more likely to cook lunch. Then when I go to the office, I can pack a salad or leftovers, and some fruit.

I usually make one big shopping trip a week, and one or two small ones to pick up fruit or vegetables I may have run out of, like melon or cucumber.


I thought I’d give a description of what I ate for a few days, to demonstrate how easy it is to cook with as much variety as I do, even for one. The blog doesn’t really give a good impression of my diet, because I don’t include all the times that I eat the same dish, or the times I make something I’ve made before. This post was drafted in June and so this is what I describe.


On a Wednesday in June, I had a guest for dinner. I made lettuce wraps to start with, which doesn’t require much more than a bit of chopping. For the main dish we had bread with dips, as it was quite warm. I had some bread dough from Sunday in the fridge, so I made pita with it. I had made yoğurtlu havuç a couple of days previously, so I served that as one of the dips. I made Greek fava for a protein dip. For dessert I served mustikkakeitto which I’d made a few days previously.

I’d begun the morning with Caribbean yellow dal and rice.  Lunch was cucumber with olives and feta. Of all the food I ate Wednesday, only the fava was fully prepared that day, since I don’t consider making a quick salad to be cooking. I drank an oolong that day.

Food posts generated (2): lettuce wraps, fava
Dishes prepared (3): lettuce wraps, fava, salad


The next day I also had yellow dal for breakfast. Lunch was fatoosh, made with the pita left over from the previous evening. For dinner I had a bit of pasta with some leftover tomato-based sauce. The only things I cooked were pasta noodles and fatoosh, and neither took me more than 15 minutes (if you count the minutes waiting for the pasta to boil – I spent them putting away laundry). I’d made both things before so I only posted the fatoosh as an extra post.

No regular food posts were generated.
Dishes prepared (2): fatoosh, pasta


On Friday I stopped by the greengrocer on my way home from the gym, because I needed a cabbage. While I was there I was entranced with strawberries, figs, chanterelles, and new season peas, and bought some. I also stopped by the bakery for a bread roll. I ate the fruit while I was preparing the chanterelles and peas, which formed the rest of my breakfast. I had it with a nice lapsang souchong.

For lunch, I made mung bean and glass noodle soup. This was a new recipe, so I posted it. For dinner made some tzatziki to add to my meze. I had bread with the three types of dip and a side of olives, light green Hungarian sweet pepper and red sweet pepper (pimento).

Of course I am not perfect when it comes to eating healthy food, and on Friday I went out for ice cream.

Food posts generated (2): chanterelles with peas, mung bean and glass noodle soup
Dishes prepared (4): chanterelles with peas, mung bean and glass noodle soup, tzatziki, salad


I had meze for breakfast, along with the three types of dip I had. For lunch I had leftover mung bean and glass noodle soup. I also spotted a recipe for strawberry dressing (an upcoming post) and was reminded of how I had enjoyed berry salad, so I decided to try this simpler version, as I still had strawberries left from the previous day.

I finished the  yoğurtlu havuç, so I made some mushrooms in wine to go with my meze for dinner which was dinner. I also had some chocolates on Saturday.

Food posts generated (2): mushrooms in wine, strawberry vinaigrette
Dishes prepared (2): mushrooms in wine, salad with strawberry vinaigrette


I made tomato coconut dal for breakfast, which I ate with rice. It will last through Tuesday, and on Wednesday I’ll need to make something new for breakfast. I finished my breakfast by finishing up the leftover mustikkakeitto. I had it with silver-tip tea.

After breakfast, I made chickpea tomato cabbage soup. I tasted it and photographed it, then put it away for another day. I also made a large pot of mint tea to drink throughout the day.

For lunch I had corn on the cob. For dinner, I finished up the meze I’d started the previous Sunday and kept going all week by gradually adding new alternatives. I finished up the fava, tzatziki and mushrooms in wine.

Food posts generated (2): tomato coconut dal, chickpea tomato cabbage soup
Dishes prepared (3): tomato coconut dal, chickpea tomato cabbage soup, corn on the cob

Monday and Tuesday

I had leftovers (coconut dal, chickpea soup, mung bean soup) and salad. I snacked on celery which was left over from the soup, dipped in the remaining peanut sauce from the lettuce wraps.

I didn’t cook, and I didn’t generate any blog posts. I still had leftover chickpea soup for later in the week.

Dishes prepared (2): salads


I hope this gives an example of how I cook and eat. As you can see, it is not very difficult to prepare healthy meals with sufficient novelty, without taking hours in the kitchen daily.

I prepared 16 dishes for 21 meals over one week, but so many of those were very simple: salads, tzatziki, corn on the cob. In all, I averaged about one dish which actually required cooking per day, but I didn’t cook every day. During the same time, I created 8 blog posts.

Spectacular Pictures from 500 Posts

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This is my final 500-post retrospective post. The dishes I’ve selected here were chosen simply because I liked the photos. Many of my favourite photos, like my favourite foods, have rich colours.






Repeated Recipes from 500 Posts

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Continuing my retrospective of the last 500 posts, these are some recipes that are among my favourites. Because I like to try new dishes, a recipe has to be special for me to remember to make it more than once.







Recipes to Try Again from 500 Posts

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Now that I’ve reached 500 posts and about three years of blogging, I thought it would be a good time to look back through my pictures to to remind myself of dishes I enjoyed but haven’t made for some time. This is the first of three retrospective posts on 500 posts/3 years.


vegetableIMAG0863chilligreenssoupstewrosetamaleindian platterpastatagineblitvamushroom1


pasta2soup2tartgnocchi1tart2plum0bun1fungusIMAG4823piepastaapples3chickpeasCarrot kheer



Many Meals from a Repeating Selection of Vegetables

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If you cook for one or two people, it can be difficult to incorporate sufficient vegetables and retain variety. Sometimes I like to buy several different types of vegetables and try to make multiple meals out of the same ingredients while still providing variety. This is what I did with the last few posts. I purchased 5 tomatoes, a Savoy cabbage, a bag of carrots and a box of chestnut mushrooms. From these ingredients I made cabbage soup, cabbage rolls, and cabbage stirfry, although I did not include the tomatoes – which I had already used up – in the stirfry. Of course I incorporated other ingredients, such as onions, ginger, garlic and seasoning, but these are all ingredients I keep on hand. As you can see, the three dishes were visually distinct, and the flavours were distinctive as well.


I enjoy presenting myself with this sort of challenge, instead of my usual approach of making a few different curries, each featuring one vegetable, and eating them in different proportions for a few days.


Batch Cooking: Quinoa and Beans, Four Meals

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When I got back from a trip I was too tired to put a lot of effort into making meals. I just set some beans and chickpeas to soak, and the next day I pressure-cooked them and also cooked a bit of quinoa, then put both in the fridge for later. With these ingredients I made four different meals:

Together with berrry salad (lunch) and cucumber with feta (lunch), this gave me three days of variation and enough food for the rest of the week. Of course I used other ingredients: kale, tomatoes, tortilla chips, lettuce, sweet peppers, feta, blueberries…but it all fit in one over-the-shoulder shopping bag. Just start with some versatile ingredients and it’s easy to come up with half a dozen different dishes with minimal effort if you have a few things in the pantry, fridge and garden (pasta, corn kernels, olives, spices, cheese) as well. Aside from the taco salad and nachos, there weren’t similarities in flavour, either.


Rhubarb Cobbler

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I know I’m posting a lot of desserts! I didn’t abandon my healthy diet, but this summer I brought desserts to a number of gatherings. Since I enjoy baking it’s always fun for me to make desserts without the need to eat much myself. I generally have quite a few posts queued so although summer is now winding down, most of these desserts were made during my busy summer baking season (which is why the fruits featured are now out of season).


To make the cobbler I simmered the rhubarb in a little water with sugar and vanilla extract until it was soft, then thickened it with tapioca pearls. The topping is a sweet baking powder biscuit dough using unbleached flour. I rolled it out and cut it with cookie cutters, then layered the shapes and sprinkled it with sugar before baking until the dough was cooked.


Pan-fried Apples with Pudding

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When I find a recipe that looks interesting, I make a copy of it and add the URL or other source, and then file it away.  I distinguish between recipes I’ve tried and recipes I haven’t tried because sometimes I’m in the mood to cook something new and other times I feel like browsing familiar recipes.

This weekend I tried a recipe which has been waiting a long, long time for me to try it.  How long?  Well, it was posted by someone with an AOL address.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to try these spiced apples, which I served with a bit of vanilla vla (Dutch pudding).