Hi guys! Long time no talk, I know. But life, it happens. I wanted to get back to this space with something fresh and bursting with flavour, because this time of year is frankly one of the least inspiring times to ‘get back to the kitchen’. I started with some beautiful local carrots, and cabbage, and then I went a little “off season” with some peppers, and cucumbers because sometimes you just need to eat some colourful food from our buddies in Mexico. I’m not seasonally perfect, and I’ll bet, neither are you.

I was going to pair this salad with a long rant about restricted eating as dieting, but I’ll save that for another time. Instead, I thought I’d share one of my favourite things- podcasts! I listen to them constantly, when I’m cooking, cleaning, commuting, exercising. I’ve listed my current favourites below, by category (minus those that everyone seems to know -ie This American Life) but would love if you could share your current favourites in the comments, because we can always use more podcasts in our lives.

PS: the first photo happens to feature some of my favourite cookbooks right now, including The First Mess cookbook, the brilliant book by my dear friend Laura. I cannot recommend it enough, along with the others pictured.

Politics/Current Events/Media criticism:

On the Media – this is by far my favourite NPR show right now. No one can grill a media personality, PR person, or politician like Bob and Brooke, and they cover every issue with sophistication and nuance.

Pod Save America – this is a new one to me. It’s hosted by some former Obama staffers, and they basically talk through what the Trump administration has done that week. I find it strangely comforting.

CANADALAND – This is a Canadian media criticism podcast. I don’t always agree with Jesse, but I do like that there is a podcast focused on the Canadian media and issues specifically relevant to Canadians.

Interviews/Conversations:

How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black – Comedian Michael Ian Black interviews awesome people, anyone from Ira Glass, to Tim Gunn, to David Sedaris.

Fresh Air with Terry Gross – Terry is the queen of the radio interview. She reigns above all others.

Sooo Many White Guys – Phoebe Robinson (of 2 Dope Queens, below) hosts an amazing interview show where she speaks to amazing women, and people of colour – anyone who isn’t a white guy! The exception is the end of the season, which closes with a “token white guy” (last year was Mike Bribiglia).

Call Your Girlfriend – This is one of my favs, but it’s not for everyone. It’s like listening in to a convo with two long distance besties. Topics range from intersectional feminism in the age of Trump, to Kanye and Kim, to “this week in menstruation”.

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin – Alec Baldwin, no matter your issues with him, is an amazing interviewer. Listen to him interview everyone from Debbie Reynolds (RIP) to Questlove, Michael Pollan, and Julie Andrews.

Food:

Good Food – Evan Kleiman hosts this amazing podcast through LA based NPR station KCRW. You will learn a lot about LA’s amazing restaurant scene, and what’s fresh at the Santa Monica Farmer’s market, but I listen for the sophisticated coverage of food issues.

The Splendid Table – Another public radio food podcast, this one focuses on a range of food topics. I used to love America’s Test Kitchen Radio, which has shut down since Chris Kimball departed BUT, many of my fav segments previously on ATK radio have moved over to Splendid Table.

Generally Awesome:

Dear Sugar Radio – A powerful advice podcast hosted by Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) and Steve Almond, with each episode focusing on a ‘theme’ (ie stepmothers, ghosting..). If you know anything about Strayed, you know her incredible capacity for empathy, and this podcast is no different.

Judge John Hodgman – Do you want something light and entertaining? Listen to Judge John Hodgman preside over cases such as, daughter embarrassed by her dad when meeting Eugene Mirman, or husband will not get rid of old bathrobe.

2 Dope Queens – Another lighter one, Jessica Williams (former correspondent on The Daily Show) and Phoebe Robinson (Tooo Many White Guys) host amazing live comedy events, which they broadcast as a podcast. Listen as much for their hilarious banter as you do for the up-and-coming talent.

Reply All – I love this podcast about the internet. It’s equal parts funny and entertaining as it is insightful and moving.

Heavyweight –  This podcast already finished it’s first “season” so you can go binge listen. Jonathan Goldstein makes it his mission to make wrongs right again, and resolve the unresolved. I recommend starting with the episode about Moby.

Startup – Every season of this show has been a different structure, but it started as a radio doc about Alex Bloomberg trying to start a Podcast startup (spoiler, he did, it’s called Gimlet, and its responsible for the 2 podcasts above and a lot more). But since then seasons have covered other startups, including the last one which focused on extremely sketchy former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney trying to start a new business.

Vietnamese inspired noodle salad with crispy tofu
Serves 2 very hungry adults as a full meal, or 4 adults along with sides. 
Note: this salad works great as leftovers the next day. Ideally, leave the nuts on the side, so they don’t get soggy, but even mixed in, it still tastes fine (just less crunchy)
Note 2: this is not vegan only because of the fish sauce. You can always try Cook’s Illustrated’s version, or try with tamari/soy sauce instead. If you do, let me know how it is! 

Cooking Soundtrack: Podcasts, duh! But also, Tourist in this town – Allison Crutchfield

Dressing:

  • 2.5 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (roughly 2 limes)
  • 1.5 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated on a micro plane or minced with a knife
  • 1 garlic clove, grated on a micro plane or minced
  • 1 fresh Thai (bird’s eye) chili pepper, seeds removed, minced
  • 5-7 tablespoons water, to taste

Salad:

  • 8 oz/226 grams thick rice noodles (linguine thickness), this is usually half a package.
  • 2 cups packed thinly sliced cabbage (I use a mandolin, but a food processor or knife both work well)
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • ½ english cucumber, julienned
  • ½ cup roughly chopped mint, cilantro and basil (but you can use any combo of those)
  • 3 green onions, the greens and light greens thinly sliced.
  • ½ cup chopped roasted unsalted cashews and peanuts (but you can use just one)

Tofu:

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or soy sauce
  1. Press tofu: cut the block of tofu into 1 inch thick rectangles, lie on a cutting board so they do not overlap, cover in paper towel and/or a dishtowel. Stack lots of cookbooks/cutting boards to create a weight (see first picture). Let press for as long as you can (ideally an hour, but do what you can)
  2. Make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients minus the water in a jar with a lid. Shake until combined. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have the intensity you like (5-7 tablespoons works for me) Adjust flavours to your liking (more lime, fish sauce, agave). Store in fridge until ready to use
  3. Make the noodles: bring a big pot of water to an aggressive boil. Add noodles and cook for approximately 4 minutes, until nicely cooked (I like them a bit al dente). Drain in a colander and immediately run under cold water until chilled, and the excess starch is removed. Once noodles are totally drained, lie on a dish towel to dry.
  4. Prepare the vegetables: shred the cabbage, julienne the carrots, cabbage, and peppers. Combine with the noodles. Top with the chopped herbs and green onions.  Add dressing and toss. It can sit like this for a while, and will simply soften the veggies a bit more.
  5. Cook the tofu: Remove the cookbooks, and slice the rectangles into 1 inch cubs. Combine the maple syrup and soy sauce or tamari in a small bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut or vegetable oil in a pan (ideally non stick) over medium high heat. Once hot, add the tofu, sauté for a few minutes, until golden brown. Add the maple/soy mix (it’ll sizzle a lot) and continue cooking until tofu is nicely caramelized (dark brown) on the outside. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Assemble: top tossed salad with chopped nuts and tofu right before serving

Salad adapted from Molly  Wizenberg’s Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad, and tofu recipe from Sara and Hugh Forte’s Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon cookbook.