Thursday, August 28, 2008

august in ottawa, pt. 1 (the parade of yellow food)

I lost my camera cord! And I lost the internet due to crazy summer storms and their ease at destroying routers! So I'm sitting on a lot of pictures... will you bear with me? I have forgotten which are worthy of blogation, but I assure you, most 94% of it was delicious. Highly chewable. Well... I guess you can't chew jam. But doesn't it look pretty? Lame peaches became perfect ice cream topping, even though I pouted and danced all the while my mom made this, because I wanted to eat them raw. But I'm an annoying daughter like that. Yep. :D

And I invented a pizza! Which I would bet anything has actually been done before, but if you get the chance, you MUST try making a batch of samosa potatoes and laying it over pizza on a bed of pureed pineapple. It's my new absolute favourite.

Oh, and speaking of pizza, I've been introduced to Ottawa's gourmet pizzeria, Pavarazzi's. It sounds so much like paparazzi!! Paparpizza? They have good taste in vegetarian toppings, though. No lame soggy mushrooms/green pepper combos. Sesames and roasted red peppers, artichokes and olives are the standard. Good show!

**note: I avoided the cheese bits encroaching on my nice side like the absolute plague, and am I the only vegan who takes pleasure in an increasing dislike for the smell/accidental taste of animal products? Cause cheese kind of tastes like fermented fluuuuuuuid to me now. *cough*
Appetizing! You can keep your squishy olives, sis!

Speaking of good taste (haha) and vegetarian accommodations, mum and me broke out this cast-iron grill pan that magically appeared in the pantry sometime between this visit and my last to grill up everything in sight, and some fennel besides. I also get to take the pan home! (vcon grilled tempeh tacos, here we come!). Simple dinner, yes, but I was raised on the good art of arranging a sandwich spread, and forgive me for my stereotypical tastes, but I SO do love a grilled vegetable. I think I ate 3 dinners worth of food here. It was worth it for the rosemary bread. The rosemary bread that was made of olive oil. Droolular.

Bit o' baking. Ever tried a flapjack? I um.... hadn't. But I was mad curious, I mean - golden syrup, margarine and oats, plus major associations to my UK heritage, I had to at least try. I succeeded at making floppy oat chews? The fat content alone is scaring me away from attempting this again... but if anyone else wants to try, I CAN highly recommend adding some lemon or lime juice to the mix, cause it makes it all lip-smacking more-ish. Too bad about the melty texture, though...

Banana bread is friendly. It shall redeem me. (yum)

As will peach right side-up cupcakes with toasted candied almond slivers on top (I should think). Which are perfect from the fridge, cold... teeth sinking through the cold fruity layer to moist almond-y crumbs.... acklejackarggggg.... s'good. I got the coveted "vegan baked goods are soooo much better than normal baked goods" comment from not one, but three separate eaters of cake. Suke-sess!

To make thine own, take one pineapple rightside-up cupcakes recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, replace fruit with appropriate fruit, add almond extract, and enjoooyyyyy. With joy! Man, I love that book, it should be renamed the Little Vegan Cake-Creation Sourcebook.

More to come in part 2!

Friday, August 15, 2008

homecoming (or, "Spot the Tomato!")

So I'm writing this from the comfy green rocking recliner in my mother's living room, covered in flour and crossing recipes off of the veganomicon index faster than I can decide on the next thing I want to make, and that is to say - life (or at least my pseudo-vacation before school starts full throttle again in september) is good.

I even got to make a pie - a birthday peach and blueberry pie at my mother's request, using the vcon pastry instead of my usual. It's definitely easier to use, like those pie crusts you see on television that people just sort of toss into the pan... but I think next time I'll stick with my madness-inducing-yet-extraordinarily-tender crust I usually use. Because personally I'd rather my pie disintegrate into buttery flakes at the touch of a fork than look pretty and pert, but that's just me.... and I'm just a pie-obsesso who so rarely gets to make them... :p

Mmm... and I'm mentioning here that in an awesome and unplanned way, there is a tomato in just about everything in this post. Which makes sense! It being the season and all. But I'm mentioning it so you can play along and find them. Like in the vcon midsummer corn chowder, which is SOOO good, you have to make it! With rosemary focaccia it was perfect, and there was a big paprika'd mountain of hummus on the table, too.

My old old old old cats say hi! They're still doing their thing where they act like mirrors or parallels of eachother. Haha, cute.

Went out for dinner at Corners on Bank. Not much to say... I mean, it was crazy delicious, but it was just a Boca burger. I guess to people who never ever eat those things it's a special treat, though. And they very happily let me pick my own toppings off of the menu options, so I got chipotle salsa, caramelized onions and guacamole, and the calabrese bun was teeth-sinking yeasty and notably fresh, so really, who's complaining at all?

Okay me, for forgetting to ask for my salad sans dressing. :p

I'm in love with hoecakes now, too. So easy to make and really surprisingly good. I made mine like...

1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 cup sauteed onions
pinch of sugar

Fry them up, eat with salsa, say yum yum yum and think why didn't I make DOUBLE that amount because now I have to give my lunch to my sister who just came in the door with hoecake longing in her eyes. Alas, alas..... least I got the vcon mexican millet all to myself! It wasn't gonna happen like that - I was making it for everybody, but everybody went to bed, and then a forkful of it went in my mouth and any plans to eat anything else went ~poof~ and I had half the pot all for me, and it was so good. I love millet! Especially when it's buttery and nutty and crisp/creamy, and eaten out of a dainty little rice bowl.

And then vcon blintzes, with dill-tahini sauce, applesauce and pickled red cabbage. A lot of work for something that tasted pretty perogi-like, but delicious nonetheless. Especially when all the toppings glooped together to form SUPER GLOOP of the potato-y sauce-y goodness.

Slice of Pie! Look at that structural integrity! ^.^

And lunch today - vcon creamy tomato soup (+ broccoli) with celine's cheezy crackers (YUM!) and vcon mushroom-walnut pate with more lentils and less walnuts because that's what I had.

(in conclusion: I love tomatoes! <------- ze obvious) :D

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

turnips and cabbage ARE sexy! no, really.

Anyone who knew me in my omni days knows that I practically lived off of chicken shawarmas. Being from Ottawa, that's not too surprising -- we have a billion shawarma shops and most of them are mind-blowingly good. There's even a (sadly defunct) blog devoted to reviewing them all! Basically, it's a middle eastern wrap sandwich on chewy, paper thin flatbread layers, with slow grilled chicken, hummous, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, yogurt sauce, garlic mayonnaise, and most importantly - pickled pink turnips.

I wouldn't be surprised if I've waxed poetic about those turnips before. Actually I'm almost positive I have. So holy cow was I over the moon to find out how EASY they are to make!! It goes like so:

Pickled Pink Turnips for Pitas (or Torshi Left)

- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp salt
- 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 2 lb. of turnip (I used one a little bigger than a softball)
- 1 small beet
- celery leaves (optional)

What You Do:

1. Cut the ends off of the beet and turnips and boil for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the water and peel.

2. Slice the beet and cut the turnip into french fry sticks, and put those in a big clean jar with the garlic and celery leaves.

3. Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil to dissolve, then pour it over the vegetables. Seal and leave it on the counter for ten days, then refridgerate. (*ahem* - I tore through half of them in the first night, soooooo...... :D)

4. Load up a big fat sandwich with garlic mayo, falafel, vegetables fixins' and some of those beautiful pickles and enjoy! I swear it's worth the three minutes of effort - it takes falafel to the moon and back, they're so awesome.

And look at that! Cabbage rolls, but would you believe that they were probably the most delicate and refreshing thing I've had all summer? I went from this recipe, made a few minor adjustments, and was sooooo happy with the results, it was worth every bit of wrestling with a boiling hot cabbage and more than a few dirty pots and pans.

Orphaned Greek Cabbage Rolls with Fresh Herbs (or Lahanodolmathes Orphana)

- 30 cabbage leaves (one huge head cabbage)
- 3 cups of cooked rice
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used 1 tomato and 2 tbsps of tomato paste)
- 2/3 cup finely chopped zucchini
- 1 rounded tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
- 1 rounded tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1-2 tbsp Earth Balance
- juice of one lemon

What To Do:

1. Combine onion, rice, tomatoes, zucchini, dill, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, and olive oil in a bowl.

2. Remove the core of the cabbage, and stick a large fork into the center. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and immerse the cabbage, leaving the fork in. When the outer leaves turn bright green, remove using the fork and remove softened leaves. Return to pot and repeat until all cabbage leaves have been removed.

3. Use a sharp knife to trim the thick part of the stem off of the leaves (this will make it easier to roll). For large rolls, place a 3-4 tablespoons of filling 1 inch from the thick end of the cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom over the filling, fold the sides in, and roll up. Place in a large baking dish. Repeat with all the leaves and filling.

4. Dot with margarine, and bake covered at 375 for 1 hour. Pour the lemon juice over the rolls 20 minutes before they're done baking. Serve warm, room temperature, or - best of all - cold from the fridge.

Monday, August 11, 2008

pastanoodles, cakex2

It's been a while, it's been a while... ooooooh, I'm doing the It's Been A While Dance. All of this food is like, over a week old (oh no!)

But that's okay. I'll just go through it real fast and label it. And pretend I'm gushing over everything, because it was all real worthy of gush. Onwards! --->

Soba All'Arrabiata! Or, "angry soba" if your Italian is good. Spicy marinara with sundried tomatoes and roasted vegetables just seems all that much more delicious when it's on elegant and super-slippy noodles.

Vcon basil-cilantro pesto on corkscrewy pastas, with Eat Drink & Be Vegan tamari chickpeas, AND garlic bread. Because I am woman, hear me roar, I deserve carbs when I want 'em. And olive-oily lips!

A sugarless carrot cake, adapted from the Vwav recipe. Note all the changes to accomodate a sugar/soy-free diet:

- halved the recipe
- used w.w. pastry flour instead of white
- replaced sugar with date paste
- used walnuts instead of macadamias
- pureed pineapple instead of orange juice
- no coconut (not my decision, but mehn)
- no candied ginger ('cause there's sugar on it. MEHN.)
- used cultured cashew cream instead of coconut icing was good, I kind of loved it (especially the cashew cream), but it was dense, and I would never serve it to omnis. I'm definitely noticing that cakes are especially tricky to adapt to special diets, as opposed to cookies/pies/things that don't require fluffiness. But I'll keep at it...

And when Pomme left town for a few days / I found a lb. of cherries for $1.59, I couldn't resist diving into a modest flurry of sugar and flour to make (duh duh duh) a clafoutis! For the unhealthiness, but also for the vague french associations and a chance to use my mysterious chia seeds. I went from Hannah's awesome strawberry clafoutis recipe, and it worked perfectly -- gelled up into a pretty summer pudding that would be perfect with ice cream. Oh, I do love white sugar...

Oh, and leave the pits in the cherries! It's traditional, and it infuses the cake with this haunting almond flavour. Plus, so much lazier. :D

Thursday, August 7, 2008

100 flakes and counting

So I've posted a hundred times since the inception of this wee blog! Looking back... there's been some very proud moments, some not-so proud moments, an epic battle or two, my first batch of cupcakes ever, a heckuva lot of sushi, even more things made with blueberries, and for the record, since acquiring the veganomicon last november, I'm officially over halfway through! (150 recipes finished, I think?).

And I do post almost everything I make that is beautiful/interesting/weird, or at least a good basis for a joke, but just for today I think I'll pull back the curtain on what really gets eaten around here, pretty much every day. Basically, If I haven't posted about it, it's certain to be one of these things:


Oh oatmeal, oh lovely, oh OATY and predictable. How much do I love thee? Enough to adapt my schedule around your warm and nutty scent? Enough to know the subtle bouquets of every bulk bin oatflake within a 4 block radius? Enough to wistfully ALMOST NEVER make pancakes (at least not before 5 pm)? To have a designated oatmeal-spice section of the cupboard (with the special dates that I buy just for the porridge)? To own specialty equipment designed for your fluffiness?

Oh yes. Most certainly. And did you know that mango is fabulous in it? As are blueberries, but you probably knew I was going to say that. ;P

Natto Bowl / Miso Soup!

I got converted, most definitely hooked on natto since I first tried it. With a little squodge of perfectly cooked brown rice and loads of veggie on top, it's no-effort and nourishing and really really yummy.

And as a bonus you can freak people out with the stringiness of it all. And as another bonus ---- the cutest girl in the entire world eating natto!

(as for miso soup... everything I've said about the above applies, + floating bits of hot jiggly salty tofu, - stringiness. YUM)

Tomato Soup!

As for dinner, I've decided to not be ashamed of this anymore. After all - it's an icon, it's a cultural equalizer, and it tastes REALLY GOOD with cheezy crackers. It has a full serving of vegetables, enough salt to kill you, some white sugar 'cause we love that stuff, and oh my gaaaad is it comforting. I love you tom soup. Love love love. With cashews and cilantro and mexican veggies. With olives and balsamic and onion. With readymade curry paste, or stir fry sauce, or over rice, and especially with frozen peas floating in it. It's soaked up many a night of drinking, been a cheap meal when I couldn't afford more, and goddamnit... it just tastes good. LOVE! :DDD


Soooooo yeah. That's my secret diet. My non-postable eatables. Regular schmanciness with resume, oh, probably at the crack of dawn tomorrow. I've been making cakes. Multiple cakes! And thanks to everyone for your support and comments and love and ideas and basically just making this whole blog-thing worthwhile. I couldn't have grown so much or tried so many new things without you! <3

Saturday, August 2, 2008

beans beans beans beans beans, etc

Small surprise to see corn up there in the first photo again, huh? I have this thing about blogging about food in true chronological order, though. And this week of legume-happy kicked off with the Vcon Creole Stuffed Peppers which were really nice, by the way. We had them with the Messy Rice and some steamed kale with liquid smoke slashed on for fun, and it was nom nom nom.

See, we've been eating like this because P is taking a break from soy and sugar, so it's been a lot of soaking beans from the pretty little jars that line the counter. And about time! It's been bugging me lately that we haven't been eating beans, cause they're pretty much my favourite food ever - like, "what's for dinner?" .... duh duh duh..... "Beans!"

So we made the Vcon Jamaican Yuca Shepherd's Pie. ZOMG. You need to try this! It's so so good, familiar and yet not, really wonderful.

And we had it with a pureed mango-lime dressing, cause I've been experimenting with "pureed-stuff-on-salad" (it's been going well). Note the gimpy radish rosette, as I was apparently channelling some fifties housewife during the 10 free minutes that the casserole needed to cook.

Oh yeah, and I take back everything I said about posting in order, because mentioning pureed dressings reminded me of what I had for *lunch* that day - SusanV's tofu omelette, which was spooky spot-on, and possibly even better than an egg omelette since it had that beautiful savoury-mousse kind of thing going on. And I got to use tabasco and tarragon in an omelette, which takes me back a few years, I can say that. Anyway... it was full of onions, mushrooms, zucchini and tomato and it was the lunchiest lunch I'd lunched on in forever - HIGHLY recommended.

And it came with salad. Weird salad! But weird-good. There were all these carrot tops in the crisper, so I pureed up a carrot with some ginger and soy sauce as per this recipe (minus the mustard), because why not, right? It didn't make a dressing so much as a piquante veggie condiment, but it did the job, I liked it.

Then the next day for dinner I headed to the kitchen with the intention of opening myself a tin of tomato soup - tres gourmet, je sais - mais! Somehow between thawing out peas and shuffling through jars of cumin seeds I skipped right over the soup idea and made a freestyle aloo gobi that was so spot on, I am seriously proud of this one. Especially cos I don't think I've even had aloo gobi before, but I double checked on a few recipes, and mine was virtually identical to the authentic-looking ones. Wee! Also served with that plum chutney I made a while ago, which mellowed and turned pretty wonderful in the fridge. I could get to like this curry + chutney business! It's like an excuse to eat spicy jam with dinner.

Leftover kidney beans? Meet new life as kidney cutlets with oats and worcestershire and a heckuva lot of green peppercorns. I had these on a chapati wrap with mango and lettuce and red pepper and chipotle mayo and it was SO good, reminded me of childhood/meatloaf. Except better.

Drunken baking.................... upside down black sesame plum cake, and oat/banana/chocolate loaf. Both made without refined sugar. And to my tongue...... the less said about them the better, eek. :p

And bean-week ends with the easiest most bestest use for beans ever - load up a humungous salad on top of leftover legumes and munch away on pure goodness. Topping it with fresh mint, dates, toasted almonds and avocado doesn't hurt a salad either. I had this again today for lunch, actually, could be my new favourite food. Anyway...

That's the week! We're making pasta tonight, I have no idea what kind, but that's kind of cool since we don't make it very often. Oh yeah, and I opened the abalone-flavoured wheat gluten - it tastes like cat food and comes dripping in oil - YUCKKKKKK. So yeah, experiment fail, but still interesting. Til next post! (my 100th, actually)

Oh, and I almost forgot! I tried a chinese saucer peach last week, too! I was like "oh, it's a gimmick, it must be - a peach that won't roll off the counter, of course." But you know what? It tastes like honey and flowers and is very very nice and completely different from a regular peach. Experiment success!

a round of applause for the vegans!

Thank you so much Poopiebitch, Dark Faerie, Cyn of Pink-Haired Girl and Katy of Legally Vegan for nominating me for the Brillante web award! I figure it's already gone around a lot, but in the interest of complimenting people I'll nominate seven other bloggers who I think deserve such a cute little graphic on their site --

1. A-K / Swell Vegan, for not only having truly droolworthy photography and so many creative and sometimes raw meals, but also for sending me so many delicious (and repeatable) recipes over the past few months!

2. Theresa / Tropical Vegan, for her creative twists on tropical bounty, and her dedication to living sustainably and being an informed and responsible human being in every way. And also Nacho is adorable!

3. Sarah / Vegetalion, for that quirky sense of humour and always entertaining posts on adventurous foodstuffs! Eating by spectrum, dealing with zombie yams, or inventing vegan gulab jamun, it's never boring over there. :P

4. Kittee @ Cake Maker to the Stars, which has inspired me since Vegan Day:01 to forget rules and get colourful, experimental, and most importantly irreverent with my cooking (and other parts of life, too!)

5. Jes @ Cupcake Punk, mostly because I just like her style, but also for the gorgeous photography, and for putting pistachios in everything (and for having a gray cat called Dorian Gray ;)

6. Sarchan @ Emo Potato, for the most hugest and deliciousest looking meals/foods ever, you seriously have to cook for me at some point! (also: smiths references + best blog name ever = awesome)

7. Michelle @ My Zoetrope for having such beautiful and jewel-toned artwork (it is seriously attractive), throwing in some great-looking vegan yumminess, and also for being such a strong supporter of the Vegan Etsy team, hurray!

Thanks to all of you, and to so many other blog authors who make my morning oatmeal+coffee time so much more fun and funny and inspiring! We're doing the good work, yo. :)