The Durian Experience

The Durian

An H-mart opened up nearby, so we took a trip yesterday and ended up picking up a Durian fruit. We’d never had it before and were up for an adventure! The Durian came frozen – we let it thaw overnight so that its shell was a bit more pliable, and opened it up.

I have to say – the smell was not like dead bodies or stinky gym socks like some folks have written online. To me, it had a very heavy sulfuric / rotten eggs smell. It tasted good to me, but only if I held my nose. If I let the smell penetrate my noise, I simply could not enjoy it in my mouth at all. When I ate it, it felt like it stunk up my whole mouth – I had to drink something to rinse it out with every mouthful. It’s a savory kind of fruity taste. It was mild so I’m guessing it wasn’t super ripe.

The smell doesn’t let loose as soon as you open it – it took a few minutes for us to fully absorb it. Note that Ray enjoyed the durian a whole lot more than me – the smell didn’t really bother him at all!

The Durian

We made some videos of the opening of the durian and the aftermath:

The Durian Experience, Part I

The Durian Experience, Part II


Butternut & mushroom soup and yummy crusty bread

So we attempted the ‘Butternut Squash and Duxelles Casserole’ in the latest Vegetarian Times print magazine but it came out a bit of a disaster. The problem? We used butternut squash we had chopped and frozen from our bi-weekly share and didn’t bother to defrost it first. Whoops, look at those frost crystals:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

So, hopefully we won’t make that mistake again. I mean it came out *looking* pretty great:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

But the butternut was lukewarm-to-cold. We kept it in the oven double the time Vegetarian Times recommended, still not much improvement. So we decided to make it into a soup! With crusty bread on the side to go with it!

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup


  • 8 oz mushrooms with stems
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Parsley (we used dried flakes, 2 tsp)
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 oz munster cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped – and DEFROSTED
  • 10 oz frozen spinach (a little over a cup)
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 dried chilis


Pull the stems from the caps of your mushrooms, and stick them in a food processor in batches until you’ve got mushroom paste. Put the mushroom paste in a large bowl.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Peel the shallots, chop them roughly (no need to be precise or pretty), and food process them into a paste as well. Add that to the bowl with the mushroomy paste.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Shallot Paste

Warm up a skillet (we use cast-iron) and melt the butter. Add the bowl of mushroom and shallot paste, and cook it for 5-10 minutes. It’ll get really fragrant and delicious smelling. 🙂 Towards the end add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Grate 3/4 of the munster cheese into a bowl and keep it next to the stove. Whisk the milk, flour, and garlic together in a small saucepan on low, simmering. Whisk until it gets thick – it’ll happen fairly quickly – and then add in the grated cheese. Add the nutmeg now too, and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

Layer 1/3 of your squash chunks in a casserole dish. Glop 1/3 of your cheesy sauce on top with half the mushroom-shallot mix. Add another layer of squash. Layer another 1/3 of the cheesy sauce and the rest of the mushroom-shallot mix. Add one final layer of squash, the rest of the cheese sauce, and shred the rest of the cheese on top of it all.

Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes:

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Casserole

At this point you should have a delicious casserole. We goofed, so ours was not quite delicious. In either case, you may have a couple of servings of this 8-serving casserole and be at a loss as to what to do with the leftovers. Fear not! You can make a yummy soup.

Butternut Squash, Mushroom, and Spinach Soup

We used 6 servings of the casserole above, and put them in a cast iron pot. We added 8 cups of our homemade veggie broth, and a 10 oz package of frozen spinach. We seasoned it with 3 dried whole chilis, 1 tsp dried minced onion, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Bring this all to a boil, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until you’re ready to eat!

Crusty Bread

Homemade Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 packet of dry active yeast (or 2 packets of old dry active yeast as in our case 😉 )
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Butter (we used Earth Balance vegan butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp minced rosemary
  • Sesame seeds (~1-2 tsp)

We used a stand mixer, but you can mix by hand as well, it’s just more work! Add the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and butter in a large bowl and mix well. Add the two eggs. Mix well. Add the milk and mix at least 30 seconds more with the mixer.

At this point the flour may be quite sticky – if so add some more wheat flour until it’s reasonable to handle. Toss the 1 Tbsp of rosemary in and work it into the dough using your hands. Then, pull the dough out of the bowl and pat it (it should not be sticky! If so, flour as needed) into a nice round ball, then place it back in the bowl and cover it with cling wrap.

Let the dough rise. We gave it three hours, and it doubled in size. It may take less if you’ve got more active yeast than we did. You could also leave it to rise in the fridge over night or while you’re out at work.

Once the bread has risen sufficiently, preheat the oven to 350 F and lightly flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan – we used a silicon one. Pat the dough into a rectangle a bit bigger than the loaf pan. Lengthwise, fold the left and right sides of the rectangle to meet in the center, then pinch them together. Fold the short sides under so that the loaf is the right length to fit into the loaf pan. Set the loaf into the loaf pan and pat it down, and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. We made diagonal cuts along the top of the dough as well for decoration.

Bake the bread for 40 minutes. The smell of the bread and the rosemary is going to make it hard to wait the full 40 minutes. But once the 40 minutes are up and the top of the bread is nice and golden, you’re in for more torture – you’ve got to let the bread cool. 🙂 Pull the loaf pan out of the oven, place a cutting board on top and flip it over. The loaf should come out without much trouble. Now let it cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes and try not to eat it whole. 🙂

Homemade Bread

Homemade Bread

Stretch Your Veggies!

Homemade Veggie Stock

Tonight was the first time we made homemade veggie stock!

It’s so convenient to buy stock at the store, isn’t it? We love the little single-serve tetra packs… just grab one and you’re done, it’s about a cup of broth per pack which is what recipes typically call for so you don’t even have to worry about using up a half-used open veggie broth later in the week before it goes bad.

I have always felt a little bad though, using the pre-packaged veggie broths. Tetrapacks are made of composite materials making them trickier to recycle. Plus, it’s extra money.

What we’ve done over the past couple month is to save our food scraps – that last little bit from the end of a carrot or onion, or the dark green ends of leeks and scallions – and dump them in containers in the freezer. This week I noticed we had five containers full of scraps so I decided to try my hand at making some broth with them.

We started out with scraps from some of the following:

  • Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Scallions
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Kale Stalks

We stuck them in a stock pot, filled it almost to the very top with water, added some salt & pepper and a tablespoon of oil, and brought it to a boil. (It took a while in such a big stock pot!) Then, after it boiled, we simmered it for a good hour or so.

Homemade Veggie Stock

Next, I strained all the veggies out using my silicon strainer, and dumped them into a bowl.

In the spirit of using what you’ve got to its full extent, sustainability, and just plain hippy-ness, Ray took the strained scraps a stuck them in our bokashi to help make nutrient-rich soil for our garden. 🙂

Homemade Veggie Stock

I’m now letting the broth cool down. Once it’s cool, I’m going to pour some into ice cube trays so we’ll have convenient little cubes we can melt down as needed. Any excess that doesn’t fit in the trays I will pour into glass jars to also stick in the freezer.

This was so easy. I will probably not have to buy broth ever again. All it takes is a little discipline to wash your veggies really well and to save the scraps!