Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hiatus, or "How I learned to miss the vegan universe"

It's been forever, huh.

I have to admit that I was testing my reaction to not blogging for a while.  After losing the camera of course my zest/zingawow kinda faded, one can only do so much with a webcam when every casserole looks about the same as your sock pile.  And you do never know how much you love something until you lose it, right?  So I intentionally lost it (the blog), or intentionally got lost.  Whichever way... but it's not right, something's been missing and I miss all of you.  Where else can I get so irretrievably excited over how a zucchini curl twists like it's come from a painting, and where else can I gnash and skip over what everyone's been deep frying or dipping in chocolate or turning from trash to ten-star cuisine?  

I've even been questioning my muffin skills.  For shame.  They're as fabulous as ever, and a number of cakes have gone by, like a towering raspberry maple ice sculpture and a straight up "vanilla with gobs of chocolate frosting and sprinkles" that made me sooooo happy to floof together I can't even tell you.  I even put a cookzine together last week (in the space of a week), for a zine fair last weekend, and it's got most of my best recipes in there.  A lot of mostly cute things, but also the rosewater cheesecake and my sister's opium test-failing Quinoa Poppyseed Salad of unexpected addictiveness.  As soon as I get a camera I'll have it on my Etsy...

Which brings me to the camera issue, and the reason for a hiatus and not an immediate return.  It's pretty simple, it's been officially deemed life-affirming enough for me to drop 150$ on a new one, but I'll have to wait til I go home for christmas to use some fortunately stashed gift certificates to a mall in Ottawa.  So until then, I miss you, I miss this, I'm glad I got to at least go crazy for the Veganmofo, I'm SO disappointed that I won't be able to take a picture of my next cake which is a carrot cake actually shaped like the birthday boy with a little 3d head poking out, hahaha.

So I leave you with this video, which is amusing anyway for having plenty of Data in it, but also 2:27 seconds in you'll see the kinda cake I'll be going for.  Yes it's creepy!  But that's why it's worth doing. ^_^b

Thursday, October 29, 2009

VeMoFo#29: Picking Pecks of Pink Papples

There's a texture and a difference to an apple who's home you've seen.  Who's home you've even twisted it off from, that is to say - an apple plucked and fallen into your own basket!  I worked at an orchard out in Ormstown (about an hour out of montreal) at the end of August this summer, just for a few days, but enough time to sufficiently drink in enough of the heavy silence and dusky richness in the air, completely devoid of cell phone crackle, car exhaust, cable hum and well... the city in general.

double stem

I took a certain liking to these pink ones especially.  They're not even eating apples, normally, but used for wine, and they grew all clustered like burnished billiard balls exactly even in size and ridiculously easy to pick, plus fuschia seeds.  The other main kinds we picked were Jersey Macintosh and Jona Golds (crisp as ice!!)

I only just ate the last of these a few days ago... yay for hardy fruit

We also stayed in a trailer!!  So exciting, I love small spaces, and living as MacGuyver-y as possible.  We rotated every precious dish, washed with a teensy cloth (no soap or running water), ate out of tahini jars, and everything was sumptuous to eat because A: we were exhausted, B: communal food obviously tastes best, C: half of it came wild from the land!

Dinner on our last night was a chickpea & wakame & brown rice pilaf, curried coconut vegetable stew, green beans & wild dandelion greens picked just outside, and a stovetop apple pie made with our own apples, on a strawberry granola crust!  Oh, and topped with wild blackberries, and sweetened with dates luckily left over from snacking, of course.

Can I even tell you how overjoyed I was to "bake" in the wilderness?

Zoop's Zon!

I also saw the most amazing tree, curled in and over itself like a snake or a spirit!  I have 4 or 5 pictures of this creature, and in each one it looks entirely different, and exquisite.  

It was in a very long and flat expanse of shale (weak sedimentary river rock) that ran with a shallow crystal brook for kilometres and kilometres up, full of tiny fishes, some fossils, seaweed that looked like mermaid hair, and when you jumped up and down on certain parts of the rock it kind of shattered just a little bit, like jumping on ice in November.  And everything was copper-coloured.

yeah, you can pay me to do this...

Monday, October 26, 2009

VeMoFo#26: Happy black&white camper

Guess what came in the mail todaaaaayyyyy!

Thusly, a half hour later, my very own, first ever NYC black and whites, with extra lime zest, making me feel better about having no vegan bakery in this city.  Something to remedy someday, but for to-day... I couldn't be happier!  I'd seriously run out of cookie recipes in the books I had already, which you might believe at the rate that I make them, and that was stumping me all over the place.  

I'm thinking PB blondies and Irish Whiskey Cremes next.  Somebody hide the sugar from me!

Super Closeup Time ::: one of my favourite buttons, it says Fruit Spirit, kawaii kawaii.  :O

Friday, October 16, 2009

VeMoFo#16: Pixie scones

These are the best scones in existence.  Or they were, at least, while they still existed.  Seriously, mega delicate fairy eats, full of spices and almond, not sweet but buttery.  I used strawberries and plums and lemon juice instead of blackberries and orange and it was perfection, Emilie is a total genius with this kind of stuff, which I hardly need to say, but it's true.

I curled up with them listening to Joanna Newsom on vinyl.  My roommate is so smart, she set up her record player behind the fridge, so we can listen to crackling guitars and also 80's everything while we work!  I like nestling myself against the oven waiting for the timer to go off, and now it's even better cause I can sing along to Bowie.

That's her making pizza.  I love this photo. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

VeMoFo#15: Plate painting

I cook to plate you know.  It can't be that surprising or secret.  If I didn't have a blog I would still plate, but I certainly wouldn't be grating up beets for no reason other than to burst crimson next to my jalapeno corn gravy and thus discover yet one more thing that tastes surprising and experimental next to eachother, expanding my culinary horizons in just one more left field direction, hurray!

Anyway, it's fairly easy.... and I'm no expert or teacher, but some things I've noticed are...

* Put the most attractive food in the front, or the most substantial food in the middle.  Spiral outwards from that in any direction that makes sense to your eye.  Or build a fort.  Or write your name.

* Big White Plates!  Or at least keep an eye on complimentary colours.  Blue is usually an unappetizing no-no for dishes.  

* Heavy sauces are best on top of food, while thin sauces are better underneath.  Then again, break that rule, too.

* Garnish sparingly, and only with stuff that tastes good, of course.  Of course.

* Get inspired by your favourite abstract art, or any art at all.

* Mix up the textures, too!   And keep things clean - if things spill, wipe it up with a damp cloth all pro-like.  Oh, and nuking things in the microwave tends to bubble over like a cauldron of mess-messy-mess, so you might want to transfer your reheated black bean soup to a new posh bowl after it's long-awaited (6 minutes?!) warmup.

* If you're serving lots of people, I'm not really one for plating in that case, BUT it's definitely nice, and I'll go as far as to say mandatory to have multiple bowls of kaleidoscopic garnishes and sprinklins for the adding at the table.  [toasted seeds, pomegranate arils, fresh herbs, salsas, extra sauces, ground up nuts, fake parm, sliced fruit, sprouts, chutneys, plastic figurines, rainbow sprinkles, avocado, olives, fancy salts, etc, etc.... ].  Guests will be flabbergasted and amused, and later if you break out the fingerpaints they won't be side-winded by the progression. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

VeMoFo#14: Maple > Vegetables

Moving along, and making banana nut waffles a la Vcon, with no berries, but no one's ever complained about excess banana around here, nor a waffle method that involves a nicely greased grill pan and some patience (and low standards for crispiness).  This is pre-waffle iron era, which HAS been christened with Apple-waffs + raspberries + maple soy cream since, but that's a topic to be addressed under the next photo.

No, not an Applewaff here, but the mango-pear pandowdy which is all KINDS of amazing.  I'm going out on a limb here and saying it might be the best pie I've ever made, or at the very least it's in the top 5.  Which wouldn't be complete at all without a big swodge of maple Natur-a Soy Glace Dessert -- my new obsession.  I've been swirling it into coffee for an occasional treat, eating it on raisin-toast, waffles, certainly on pie, where it melts into that lovely fruity cinnamon cornstarch goo we all make pie for, or at least I know I do.

<------ this stuff!  Probably only available in Canada, but if you find it, grab it.  The strawberry flavour of the same brand is passable, but this stuff is brilliant!  It's not a super decadent thing, and the soy flavour is there, but I'm kinda old-school like that, I guess, and it's cheap and not crazy fattening, which are admittedly minor priorities if I'm being honest and everything.  A+ to my taste!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

VeMoFo#13: Muffin ESP

Do you see the riotous waft of steam 'ploding off of the succulence?

Veganomicon: Mediterranean Style Lima Beans

Ahhhh, finally!  I'd had a container of giant limas in my pantry that my sister gave me for christmas from - oh, I dunno - years ago, waiting for this recipe specifically, so at last and hurray to myself for making it.  Perfectly delicious!  Like grandma never made, but I always wanted my kitchen to smell like she did it just like this.  

Shyly not mentioned is soft braised carrots and tofu... I've been a braising queen this fall

Also, before I forget, there was some crazy synchronicity happening in the blog-air when I made these muffins!  I mentally bookmarked and triple-underlined these miso pumpkin muffins when I saw them on the Just Bento site (another of my favourite internet places) and only just got around to making them - BUT - what did I discover but that another Mofo-er Cuny Queen had the exact same idea on that exact night.  Amazing!  

Verdict?  Texture is a bit gummy but the flavour makes me want to dance like this kid.

Monday, October 12, 2009

VeMoFo#12: How to Improve your Chocolate Skillz

My single origin Republica del Cacao bars (freaking buttery-floral-complex and fantastic, btw), came with a little slip of paper detailing how to taste chocolate like a pro, all tips that I immediately sat down with a zen-like determination to follow through to the exact letter*

(as written).....

Appearance: Observe its colour, remember that colour is not equal to dark chocolate flavor.  Observe its glow, bloom, an ashy coating on the surface, is due to changes in the crystal structure of fat.  This coating is easily removed by wiping it.

Aroma: Break a small piece of chocolate with one hand [eds note: whaaat?  that's hard!], rub the sample with your fingertip and with your other hand cup the sample over your mouth and nose, then smell the surrounding air space.  Take a few short breaths to allow sufficient residence time of the volatiles in the nasal cavity where sensory receptors are located.  To clear residuals or fatigue, take in neutral air.

Taste: Break a small piece of chocolate with your front teeth (feel its texture).  Allow the sample to sit on your tongue and let it melt as flavours develop and merge.  You will taste the flavours as the chocolate sample melts down.  Note the evolution of flavour upon impact, notice flavours that increase or diminish.  "End of mouth": a lingering flavour in your mouth after swallowing indicating wether the chocolate has a long or short ending.

Touch: Does it cool or warm your mouth as it melts?  Rub the melting sample against your palate to feels its smoothness.  Does the melted sample have body; Does it leave an oily feeling?

Listen: A clear and dry "snap" sound means the chocolate has been through a correct and careful process.

- Notes on Tasting, Adapted from "The Chocolatier" Chloe Doutre-Roussel

* instructions that I followed to the exact letter up until the point came to type them all out - at which time I added a whole bunch of letter U's to all the misspelled occurrences of "color".  (grin grin)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

VeMoFo#11: Gold Nuggets

This is one of those I can't beLIEVE I didn't write down what was inside these, mostly because I want to share it, not because I can't probably make them again because I can, but they won't be exactly the same and gosh knows I can't recall the exact spices but I think there was cloves in there kind of dishes.  Yummy little nubbins!

+ leftover rice
+ tahini
+ tamari
+ chopped apricots
+ ground almonds
+ ras el hanout
+ tomato paste
+ bread crumbs to roll in

but beyond that I haven't a clue, oh well.  The sauce they're sitting in is required, too, in this imaginary recipe, but thankfully is probably just your favourite blended roasted yellow pepper sauce with a lot of cracked toasted coriander added into it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

VeMoFo#10: Selling Out

I had a bake sale a few weeks back, for no charity other than myself, which is good, because I made what I spent on flour back, plus a little bit and not more.  But if I do feel so inclined to do it again, I might, because things sold, and it was kind of fun to sit out there reading bad science fiction and selling chocolate chip cookies on a sunday montreal morn, gettin' friendly with the neighbours and some raving repeat customers, even. ^.^

I mades.... (real simple menu)
* chocolate chip cookies
* banana bread
* brownies
* crunchy PB cookies
* sparkled ginger cookies

I also sold all of my movies to a dental hygienist for $10 dollars, which made us both pretty happy. 
(I am the queen of aimless career plans right now, can you tell?  *grin*)

Friday, October 9, 2009

VeMoFo#9: Winter pie + sauerkrautrock

Veganomicon entry # who knows!

Astonishing pie, you guys!  It needed twice the sauerkraut maybe, but earthy-licious concoction, all told.  Which one?  The Kasha Phyllo pie!  Aside which I braised some rapini in a thin version of the mustard sauce, which was strong, but good.

And for practically no reason other than it's insanely amusing, a deep fried maple leaf, as per Japanese fall custom, from one of my favourite blogs.  Oh Canada and all that fried jazz. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

VeMoFo#8: I'm not cheating! I'm eating! Soba!

146 recipes down, only 104 left to go...

Yes I'm still on this Veganomicon quest, why do you ask?
Of course I started before that Julie & Julia movie.  Way before!
(psst, the Curried Udon Stir Fry is mouth-crack, couldn't believe it took me that long to make it)
(pssssst, of course this post was posted on the 8th.  Why... do you ask?  ^_^;)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

VeMoFo#7: Jujubes

Really really really short post today.  (One can only ignore essays for so long).

I bought some fresh jujube dates yesterday.  Not like the little shrivelly things that come in the medicinal chinese soup packets (which are awesome, but different), no... more like crisp quince/apple-texture and date-flavour.  With a little olive-stone inside.  PLUS, resemblance to dinosaur eggs!  Neat.

That's all.

Oh, except that I bought more nut butter.  mmmmmmmmmmmmm nuttery buttery.  It's gonna be spice cake icing for this weekend, Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

VeMoFo#6: Pirateships with grease inside! Vancouver nostalgia massive.

It's funny how cardboard folded to look like a pirate ship can make an ordinary grilled sandwich turn into a crazy adventure of proportions large enough to convince any red-blooded child that a bit of cajoling to go the White Spot restaurant is a good idea.

This place is not vegan.  We're in memory lane right now.

See, they had this ship, right?  It had little holes for a drink and an ice cream, and your burger and fries came in the hold.  Perhaps most importantly - your straw was the freaking masthead!  Shiver me timbers, that's amazing.  When you're a kid.

They called it a Pirate Pak and I obviously took it home a few times to play with, the same way I kept those little plastic swords that came with the fruit salad when we went out to chinese buffet restaurants with the odd jello desserts and the deep-fried everything.  They changed up the design of this thing a few times.  I remember running across it a few years ago with a sheet of stickers included so you could add characters and windows on top. !

See the bliss?  The feeling of specialhood?  I'm completely serious here, those fries were absolutely epicly delicious, because they came in a boat.

So here's my thought... I know some of you are in B.C., and have a White Spot nearby.  I'm not advocating you buy anything there, but if anyone wants to go on a Mischievous Mission™ to obtain just the ship itself and then send it to me, I will fill it with my own, painstakingly authentic vegan version of the classic Pirate Pak meal.  

New Vegan Menu:
~ Burger with secret O Sauce and cheese
~ Deep-fried french fries
~ a soft drink (organic root beer!)
~ soft serve vanilla ice cream
and I almost forgot --

~ a chocolate gold dubloon !

(I will also obviously send back your way a special east coast/montreal specialty, if you can think of something specific, or I'll just send something cool ;)

Monday, October 5, 2009

VeMoFo#5: An ode to picnics

I like to watch the old men slow motion martial art with eachother.  

I like big hunks of juicy hacked-at tropical fruit packed in a dish.
I like lemonade with a twist of lime.
A blanket that was once my curtain that was once my door, origins: a mystery!
2 new library books on esoteric art, published at the turn of the century, full of poetry.
Fall leaves clicking down, yellow and brown.
Lima beans!  Cooked in silky mediterranean sauce, and parsley-pesto stuffed heirloom tomatoes, with couscous inside and olives.
Kids splashing in fountains, parents in varying degrees of patience and exasperation, couples on benches, Hasidic Jewish families, hipsters, dogs, bikers, more leaves, breezes on warm-tingle-just-now-needing-gloves temperature settings.
Soundtrack to supper!
So much better than my own kitchen. ;)

(don't mind the first 15 seconds of ads - afterwards it's quite funny!)

Also, also!  I bought my first Maranatha peanut butter.... it's just like Skippy!  Nobody told me that, haha.  Well, it's like Skippy if it was organic and luscious and silky, which it isn't, but this stuff is.  Aaaaaaand a Mexican hot chocolate snickerdoodle, which I burnt, but will still probably eat because I love the taste of char (really) and with a 1/2 tsp of cayenne in these, HOOOO they were designed to be my favourites.  They're not wimpy!  Go go go make them!   Pretty faboo.

Also, I got my first bike since I was fifteen years old!  This is actually related, because it means I can have way more picnics, and way way further out in the city than ever before.  

I call her Moony because there's a little moon-shaped tear in the seat.  !
Her soundtrack goes to this, but with "moony" instead of "money"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

VeMoFo#4: The entire contents of my candy box in silent presentation