Tuesday, December 25, 2007

happy festivus all y'all

I had the most relaxing christmas, at least in terms of cooking. It was pretty blissful, and that's not to say I didn't make anything (oh, I did), but I didn't have to make my own holiday dinner and that was the best present. The best present excluding all my new cooking supplies, that is. I got a spurdle!!!! (to be blogged about later -- my oatmeal's so fluffy now!)

These were my favourite - Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Chips and Peppermint Icing. They went over so well at my dad's house, even with his entourage of pretty timid (and omnivorous) palates. Such a good combination, and just the perfect bite size for ending a meal of quesadillas - inside of which I had tofurkey slices! They bought me fake turkey and sausage besides for the morning after - I felt so lucky.

Then later back to mom's house, where I find her beaming ear to ear and brandishing these beauties -- aren't they the coolest things ever? They're not vegan, but I just had to post them. I'm also thinking the fiddly-funwork approach to food may be genetic... yep. :D

These thin mints are straight from 101 Cookbooks and I'm urging you, go make them right now! They're like biting into a tender cocoa explosion, super easy to make, gorgeous on a plate, and my sister can fit 4 in her mouth at one time. (by the way, can you tell I'm a nut for chocolate and mint? I am!)

For christmas dinner itself I only had two things to do myself, and here's my five minutes of work to make vegan stuffing. My mom had even baked bread with onions, sage, walnuts and cranberries in it to cut down on time/up the flavour quotient.

The spread! mashers, stuffing, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, yams, squash, sprouts, broccoli, and home-canned pickled beets from the pantry, all covered in portobello & red wine gravy that was already made for me when I got home! It was simple but exactly what I wanted, and I ate to bursting anyway. Who needs a turkey-like element, really? I had sausage for breakfast! :)

I was also in charge of pumpkin pie (lest there be none at the table at all!). No ginger due to allergies, but a hazelnut crust to make up for it, and though the filling was less good than the one I made for thanksgiving that hasn't stopped me from eating the leftovers with a spoon right off the plate. Tee! And the tofu cream I threw together to go with it put all my previous soy-whip attempts to shame, it was damntastic.

Aaaaaaand a shot of cutie Thelma-cat, hiding in a bag full of donation clothes and sterile bandages (we're real linear in our organization around here). Go cat pictures! Happy It's-Cold-So-Let's-Eat Day! I hope everyone felt connected to those they love and at peace with themselves and got funky socks and all that jazz. :PP

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Old-Fashioned Comfort Food (no blizzards inside!)

Good old spinach 'sagna... it could have used a bunch more sauce, but I like my 'sagna juicy enough to squish. Marinara lack is all part and parcel of making vegan food from a communal larder - my mom lives with 3 other people so I have to be aware of supplies - but it went over well with the roommates and I'm so using almesan as a topper again! No more lame-o breadcrumbs. Also, I came home today to hear that the german meat-lover had finished up the leftovers, so huzzah and score-point for tofu ricotta!!

Chipotle butternut chili. I'd been craving chili forevers, so I made a ton and I was really happy I did. There was cornbread to go with it, but got snarfed up before a picture was taken (oh, I loves me cornbread... so simple and grainy and sweetly good... mmm)

And tonight some simple dhal, after a looooooooong day of shopping for christmas candies. Okay, so it's fun to buy sweets for sweethearts, but after eating a food court so-called "Veggie Delite" sub sandwich** of Incredible Blandness I needed immediate protein-ified spicy remedying after getting home. Serves me for even entering a mall. ¬_¬ (the dhal was good medicine)

**no relation whatsoever to Veggie Delight!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Truffles for Stuffled Bellies (ie; more balled food, oops haha)

there's good news and bad news.

the bad news is, I am hungover and drinking black-as-night-coffee with sweetener in it because that's my remedy for feeling like my organs have turned to metal. but the good news is that I had the BEST DINNER ever last night. EVER.

See, my sister works at the neat-o Wheat Berry (where I used to work, actually), and they had their christmas party yesterday at the also neat-o Green Door restaurant - complete with free food! No more paying by weight for some seriously delectable foodstuffs. I had a plate full of sesame-oiled-kale-squash, and greek rice cabbage rolls, vegan fig bars, all sorts of beans, peanut satay whatnot, crispy-tender sourdough with little seeds in it, these awesome chewy noodle thingers with seaweed in them, more fig bars. Tapenade. Salsa. Punch with organic berries in it (and alcohol besides)! I missed the apple pie, but there was apple pie there, too. Lordy, it was fabulous.

I made some truffles. They're on the ooey-gooey side, but they taste really good. And not bad for about 10 minutes of work. There's kind of a recipe? But also kind of not, so here's a list of ingredients I was throwing around ---

150 grams of dark chocolate (chopped really finely)
2/3 cup almond milk (or less)
2 tbsp soy milk powder
2 tbsp margarine
3 tbsp canadian whiskey
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp icing sugar (maybe)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (sort of)
pinch of salt

* heat the milk, milk powder and margarine almost to boiling, then add the chocolate, remove from heat and let it sit for a minute.
* stir to melt the chocolate, add the rest of the ingredients (probably add more icing sugar or cocoa powder than I did at this point, to make the truffles firmer.)
* move to a container, let it cool to room temp, cover with plastic and chill overnight
* when it's cold, dish out little truffle-balls and roll them in............

cocoa powder, roasted chopped nuts, icing sugar, more melted chocolate, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, matcha powder, cookie crumbs, sprinkles probably, crushed candies, other stuff. I used hazelnuts (mmmmmmm).

oh yeah! and don't bother buying paper candy cups if you don't want to -- little rounds cut out of wrapping paper are pretty cute. just squash the paper circles on the top of a bottle of soda - presto custom paper-cup!

(the egg carton is less posh. but hey, it was just for my friends, they don't care. ^_^)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Popcorn Balls & Bloooooo Pancakes

I never ate these as a kid. I'm vaguely aware that versions of these (toxic pink, brittle and oily) exist and probably still roam bake sales and birthday parties to the delight of sweet-toothed urchins everywhere. But I like popcorn, and I like sugar, so I figured they would probably taste good if I took matters into my own hands. I modified the Shmooed Food recipe slightly, and left them plain because I didn't have any dried fruit/nuts around that didn't scream "health food alert!!!", and they were super just the way they were, tossed in a mandarin box and brought to Ze Ladies Crafting Day (and munched happily by all there). Very caramel-y!

Popcorn Balls

12 cups air-popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup unpopped)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup syrup of your choice (brown rice, corn... I used corn b-cause I'm poor)
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
oil (for forming the balls)

1. Pop the corns. Eat some corns to get in the mood. Put 12 cups of the corns into a metal pot/bowl and stick them in a warm oven.

2. Bring the syrup, sugar, water and salt to boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Once it boils, turn down the heat and maintain that boil until the temperature reaches 250-270 degrees (lower for chewy/higher for crispy). A candy thermometre is nice for this, but you can also drop a bit of the sugar into a glass of ice-cold water - if it turns into a firm or hard ball, you're good to go. (this took me about 20 minutes, but I'm a weeny with magmic pots of sugar and I kept the heat low).

3. Once the sugar is at the right temperature, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Take the corns out of the oven, drizzle the syrup over top and STIR STIR STIR with a wooden spoon to coat every kernel.

4. Oil your hands and form the sticky goodness into as many balls as you like. I got 22.

5. Scrape the extra syrupy popcorn out of the bowl and eat it! mmmm.

.... I also made my mum an impromptu breakfast -- blue pancakes and homefries. They were so blue!! Like, not purple -- BLUE. :O

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1, 2, 3, Soy Nog!

( oh what do I spy? )

( yes, I do spy! )

( nicely labelled for later consumption - thank you mom!! )

I've never tried soy nog! Or any nog, for that matter. This should be good, I even have a little bit of whiskey with me - people do that, right? Mix whiskey with nog? Anyway, I bet it'll taste good.

I haven't been cooking so much, at least nothing that exciting. Mostly bean dips and soups for the family (really wishing I had my gluten flour around so I could show them something cool), but I'm looking forward to more creative opportunities over the vacation. Even if we're kinda low on supplies, I'm sure I can whip up at least a few batches of cupcakes, and maybe Dreena's chickpea tart for christmas. I was going to make a tofurkey, but it depends how many vegetarians come for dinner (and seriously, I'll be happy with stuffing and a little pumpkin pie - the 2 parts of holiday feasting I can't get any other time).

Also, with access to cable I've been watching the Food network a lot, and getting slowly disenchanted with it all. It's not so much that it's a bad little network, but damn that's a lot of olive oil being thrown around, not to mention the TOTAL celebritification of all their non-chefs - like today I saw that both Paula and Rayray have their own holiday magazines!! Holy overkill.

(I still love Good Eats though, and Bobby Flay, and okay so I have a kind of sick fascination with Paula Deen. She drinks butter! :D )

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holiday Baking Madness!

Cookies galore, man. Today was my first day home, and it's a good thing too, since my mum designated it Cookie Day (can I complain about that? .... no. no I can't. *grin*). My sister and I baked all morning and only botched one recipe (btw, don't use leftover oatmeal in cookies... it just makes them taste gummy-weird). But the rest were great! Clockwise from the top left, there's V-con Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies, except with homemade sour cherry preserves instead of raspberry; Chocolate PB cuppin cakes; Rumnog pecan cookies with walnuts instead, Dreena's homestyle cookies with mint chocolate chips (TRY THIS COMBO!), and um, the aforementioned botchers. They might try and convince you that they're actually orange-cranberry oatmeal, but really they're shite. teehee, don't eat them.

Sexy shot of Dreena's cause they're probably my favourite cookie ever, with the mint, oooooh... *drools a little on the keyboard*

And my sister being a cupcake monster. :DDD

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Blueberry White Tea Cupcake (semi) Tragedy

Okay, so never ever tell omnis something is vegan before they have a chance to taste the powerful blueberry magic. Pout pout pout. I made a whole wack of these gorgeous gems for my painting critique and took 95% of them home with me. Maybe it's a blue food thing?

Anyway, bad reception notwithstanding, they taste incredible. I used the Shmooed Food fluffy white cupcake recipe as a base, and steeped the milk in berryblossom white tea (I hate supporting megasaurs like Starbucks but the roommate already had the tea around. And white tea with blueberry/cranberry essence? Too tempting to bake with, I tells ya.). Then when the little aromatic puffies came out of the oven, I let them cool and used the cone method to fill them with organic wild blueberry jam. And I didn't have a piping bag, so I cut a hole in the empty icing sugar bag and went all noodly with the icing, twas fun.

The sexy sexy shot you've been waiting for. God, these were good. The fresh blueberry on top completely makes the whole package, it pops with all this fresh berry flavour that makes all the sugar underneath somehow classy. I could eat the whole box, and I do have a whole box to eat. I so wish I didn't care about my hips. *sigh*

Oh yeah, this isn't my brilliant creation, it's someone else's brilliant creation, upon which I heaped my highest praise by imitating.

ALSO, before I forget - you know what the most popular food was at the critique? Homemade meaty meaterson probably-made-of-duck
pâté. GROSS. My painting didn't go over well either. Argh bad days.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Broccoli Lentil Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Well, now I know what a coulis is (a veg/fruit pureed sauce), and eating a soup with multiple layers and swirling options is always a good thing in my book. It's from VeganYumYum so there's no going wrong, really, and this a definite make-again recipe. 40 minutes from grocery bag to dinner table, I think? And shmancy/not-too-shmancy enough to make for a drop-in guest (all you need is roasted red pepper and broccoli). I feel nourished like a queen. :D

I also found out you can roast chestnuts in the microwave! I was all transfixed by the shells steaming open and the steamy/nutty/sweet meats that came out of the nuker-box. Even the burnt one tasted good!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Spelt Breakfast Bars + Tofu Patties and Apple Success!

So I woke up and the windows looked like this: ^

In an ideal world I would have had the gumption to make it to my painting theory class. But it's a record blizzard and I'm well, a flake. Plus it's my last class before vacation, so nertz to walking in the snow for an hour!!!

I went shopping for dried papaya instead. :DDDD

The happy-surprise portion of the morning was discovering that the old-school apple drying worked! I can't believe it only took 1 night! They're a little on the thin and fragile side though, so I'm trying again with thicker slices this time, and I'm leaving the peels on because A: they taste good and B: skins are punk, haha.

Due to apple-having and papaya-buying I finally got to try Cassie's amaranth bars, which I should probably call Spelt Bars because I couldn't find amaranth flour at all, but whatever now I have a bag of spelt flour to play with! I haven't tried one yet cause they're all wrapped with plastic and ready for throwing in my bag on the way out the door, but they smell great, and I lovelovelove that there's no added sugar or oil in them. It's basically like my usual bag of trail mix except they're chewy and oaty and if you put foil on them they would sell for $1.49 each.
(my version is made with dates, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, apples and papaya, yum!)

Also, last night I tried the awesome tofu patties from Tofu For Two, and I had to stop myself from eating all the mash from out of the bowl, seriously! There were some structural problems, but I drained the 'fu without being told to and I halved the recipe, so it's definitely my fault and sprinkling some extra water and soy sauce in there fixed it pretty well. And once they were cooked the texture was good and chewy with sun-dried tomato tahini goodness all over, which nicely masked my lack of sauce-making ability for another night. hee.

PS: my oven got fixed !! ^____________^

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Winter Persimmon Salad + Blueberry Corn Pancakes + Apple Pseudoscience

Fancy shmancy lunch time! My first foray into persimmon-eating and I am a full-on convert from first incredible bite. In the salad we got arugula and dates and toasted walnuts (I would have candied them but it was just me and that might have been too sweet actually - the persimmon was like honey), and a vinaigrette of balsamic, orange zest, cinnamon and hazelnut oil. I could jump around for tastiness! I actually made a salad I could serve to people while wearing posh clothes! I thought I was a lost-cause salad maker (or maybe just wasn't interested in the whole phenomenon), but man, has my interest been piqued. This was too good!

Continuing my obsession with the Veganomicon (I really need to get another decent vegan cookbook, n'est pas?), I made the Blueberry Corn Pancakes yesterday and they were really wonderful. I think the batter tasted even better than the cakes though - it started foaming up immediately and was kind of milkshake-ish! Also, they're good straight-up, but they're LOADS better out of the toaster later on - the cornmeal gets all crusty and the blueberries juice up. It's like a pop tart except nothing like a pop tart, and way better for you.

And lastly, I really want to try the Amaranth Breakfast Bars from the Veggie Meal Plan blog, but I didn't wanna just throw raisins and cranberries in it like I do for everything else, so I got all creative with some twine and duct tape and am now attempting to dry some apples in a super-old-school-might-not-even-work sort of way. I remember my mom hanging apple slices in the pantry when I was a kid, so in theory this should work! And if not, I'll brave the weather outside and go *buy* some dried apples, but here's hoping the DIY deities shine down on my little experiment.

Friday, November 30, 2007

VeganMoFo Pr0n Bonanza

I started hardcore veganing in august, and yes I have a computer full of pron so I'm leaking it out!! Happy Mofo everybody!!!

an overly crispy attempt to recreate Garibaldi Biscuits (british, delicious, very discontinued ;_;). When I was little my mom called them "squashed fly cookies", and apparently that wasn't just her twisted and humorous mind -- that's actually what they go by in britain! awesome.

creamy cauliflower soup, with turnip, white beans, potatoes, onions... pretty much anything white I could find. *excellent* with toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

eggless egg salad (from the ppk), with homemade crusty rolls.

The aforementioned crusty rolls (and crusty breads)! My first time using a poolish/starter, and soooooo worth it. Depthful, crunchy chewy yeasty best-bread-ever kinda worth it (I changed the recipe to be mostly whole wheat, and I can only imagine that made it even more flavourful).

Banana oatmeal chocolate chip bars from The Garden of Vegan. These are a throwback to the LAST time my oven died, as it's a microwave recipe, and actually I think nuking them makes them chewier and more brownie-like (a billion thumbs up on this recipe).

White bean and escarole soup with rye-garlic croutons. Kinda bland, but that's my fault for getting the recipe off of the internet, from among about 7 or 8 nearly identical versions. The croutons helped a lot.

Graham (gwam) crackers! Very very very good. I used raw coarse sugar instead of regular white and it made the texture really interesting and gave them a burnt caramel flavour. I love how they're not very sweet, these are probably actually my favourite cookies ever.

Broccoli-almond-tofu stir fry. Okay, super basic, but extremely nommish. (and it's a pretty picture!)

Black-eyed pea patties with sunflower sprouts and limeade. And barbecue sauce, cause that stuff is liquid yum, and have you ever tried sprouts with bbq sauce? Made for eachother, I swears.

And, as recently as last night - banana-chocolate pudding! I am so loving this pudding-for-dinner business I started doing recently. It's really no worse than a plate of creamy noodles in terms of nutrition (actually probably better), and there's something so fabulous about throwing a huge bowl of pudding in the fridge, going out for a night of what-have-you, and knowing you have velvety chocolate spoonlove to savour when you get home. (although last night it was so cold by the time I got back I nuked tomato soup with beanballs + broccoli in it instead - I could easily live off of tom-soup with a rotating roster of guest vegetables/grains).

more bonanza laterz! I still have a lot of pictures. :D

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Beanball Pita

If there had been anyone else around me 5 minutes ago, they'd be picking flecks of tomato sauce off their shirts and wondering what snarfing demon had momentarily possessed my sammich-hoover face. And it's all cause of these bean balls, which are like fluffy-beany-savoury-mushy balls smothered in my favouritest of all multitasking sauces - marinara - and piled on a chewy pita with a bit of nayonnaise, nooch, extra sauce, peppers and toms - YUM. V-con has done it again! I actually made a full recipe of something for once and I am SO glad I did, I just have to figure out how to pack something like this for lunch tomorrow without it turning to soup before I get to it (delicious, delicious soup...... *droooools*). I also added worcestershire and black pepper, cause I like those things. :)

(right now they're being extra cooperative and frying in a pretty pattern, but in reality they take a bit of time to brown and it's nice to have a movie playing on a computer next to you while you roll them around with your hand cause it's a much better tool for the job than any utensil)

(I'll also concede that my balls (ahahaha!!) may have had a different texture than intended cause I used homemade beans and then I didn't even measure them. I am lazy queen. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

La Cucina Povera

So this is my kitchen, taking advantage of the wee bit of sunlight it gets in the afternoon hours. It's teeny tiny, the oven is about a foot wide and breaks constantly (it's currently broken. *weep*), the overhead light only works when the hall light is on, it faces a lovely adjacent apartment building and I'm running out of storage so badly I had to move my canned goods to a shelf in the living room. BUT, I love it!

Maybe because it's mine, and I've really stocked up a pantry of wonders over the past year (I was raised in house that bought ketchup by the crate and froze everything rather than throwing it out. Hording tendencies? Not surprising). And I really do like my tiny stove with the volcanic hotspot that turns cookies to char in mere minutes - once you know where the spot is, you can broil stuff right quick! Yay getting to know your appliances!

I don't have a picture of my beloved spice rack (made of two bricks and a piece of wood I found on Mont-Royal street = McGuyveriffic!), but I'll snap one tomorrow if I wake up before the sun sets. :)

Oh yeah - here's my dinner from last night: Italian breaded tofu, braised leeks & zucchini, marinara and almesan sprinkle). Not too fancy or difficult to make, (and my homemade
breadcrumbs were too gigantic to stick to the 'fu very well), but yummers. I just learned how to braise the other day, and, ummm.... I had a giant bowl of leeks for dinner tonight and that was it. So good.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Low-Cal & Luscious Banana Pudding + General Banana <33333

( Horrible picture, but bear with me... )

YUM! Best dinner ever! I think I can get away with calling this dinner due to the amount of protein, yes? It kind of reminds me of yogurt.

Low-Cal & Luscious Banana Pudding

1/3 cup non-dairy milk

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 1/2 cups of silken tofu

1 banana (3/4 of it mashed, 1/4 sliced for garnish)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

stevia to taste

pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

1. Whisk together the milk and cornstarch until it's smooth, then heat in a saucepan over med-low until it thickens into a gel-ish paste.

2. Stick-blend the milk with the remaining ingredients (except the banana slices and spices), adjusting the amount of stevia to a sweetness you like. Transfer to serving dishes, garnish with banana, and chill for an hour or two before serving. Top with spices if you want them; eat, smile.

PS: I LOVE BANANAS!!! mmmmmmm... that's yesterday's lunch down there.
PPS: I'M INDIFFERENT TO SILKEN TOFU!!! ... but I have to eat it up. XD

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lentils a la Pantry

This is great non-food! Every so often I get busy with art projects or just life distracts me from going shopping and all of a sudden it's 12:30 at night and not only do I need protein, but an actual protein-ish meal (and preferably one that I can whip together faster than you can say "just make peanut butter toast, girl!"). At least, that happened one time, and I happened to have a can of lentils around (which I don't even usually have, lucky night!), and I realized I had NO fresh produce, except an onion and some garlic, if you count that as fresh produce which I don't... ANYWAY, this tastes really really really good! Cheap as a button, ready in 5 minutes, savory and filling, good to eat while watching the Colbert Report and making mental grocery lists filled with green leafy vegetables. I'm sure you could all whip up something similar in your sleep, but hey, here it is.

Lentils a la Pantry

1 can of lentils, drained and rinsed

4-5 large roasted cashews (almonds would be good too, I bet)
2-3 tbsp tamari
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried red chile flakes
1 tsp maple syrup
a drizzle of sesame oil
1/4 cup onion, diced fine
1 tbsp dried wakame seaweed
1-2 tbsp dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in a bit of hot water with a splash of tamari, then diced)

1. grind the cashews into a rough paste in a mortar and pestle or food processor (or, just chop them really really fine), and whisk in a bowl with the tamari, ginger, garlic, syrup, and oil.
2. toss together with the onion, wakame, shitake, and lentils, let it marinate in the fridge for an hour (optional, for non-starving people) and serve.

(I like raw onion and garlic, but you could definitely saute them a bit for a warmer kind of salad)

(this recipe would also benefit from sprouts, shredded carrots, some radish, snow pea, etc, if you've got it. But then it wouldn't be a la Pantry. ;)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Frost Moon Potluck

(Star's phenomenal baked veggie pâté, guacamole, v-con caesar salad)

(wakey-wakey muffins (recipe pending), v-con cornbread, more pretty pâté, sesame-spelt bread, and somewhere around here were these delicious dill pickles, cut like ruffle-chips)

The second of our moon-based potlucks, this one was a small but cozy and fairly jumping affair. Despite over-garlicking the caesar by a LOT, the omnis were devouring it down, as well as raving about the wakey muffins and okay, everything else! In fact, it kinda went like -

omnis: "Ooh, potluck!"
veggies: "Yep, vegan potluck."
omnis: "OOH, POTLUCK!"

Nice to see that kind of reaction, like the vegan revolution is actually gaining headway!