Thursday, December 25, 2008

cauliflower-pear wasabi soup

So the other day I went on a date to The Red Tea Box. While that cafe/restaurant/tea house was much more expensive than promised (supposedly an under $40/couple restaurant... unlikely story.) it was absolutely charming. There not only were there various vegan options on the menu, but all three soups they had on were vegan. So obviously we got the soup sampler.

The trio of mushroom soup was much much too salty for me, though my date didn't mind awfully, and even I agreed that it was good for drenching the provided bread in for flavor. The pumpkin-carrot-ginger soup was good, though I'd had that combination of flavors so many times it didn't take my anywhere new. The cauliflower-pear wasabi soup though. Wow. Wow. Wow. Right then and there my date and I agreed we would have to make that soup sometime soon--we even considered making it for dinner that night, but he'd already had a mushroom pasta sauce on the simmer. (Which, with chickpeas--my favorite way to eat pasta sauce, if not plain, was amazing.) Unfortunately the relationship didn't last the night (but we made it past dinner.)

Now, if something as little as a breakup would deter me from making this soup... well I wouldn't really be me now would I?

This soup is amazing, I love it to bits. First and foremost I love. Love. Love! the flavor combination. No soup I've had before has played with me quite so much. The creaminess of the cauliflower, the hint of sweetness from the pear, and the lovely little nip of the wasabi... just beautiful. I don't even want to mention that its virtually fat-free and low calorie yet super filling: yes it happens to be but please please forget this fact. Please. It also happens to be one of the easiest soups of my life. And easy on the wallet.

So here it is, my rendition of Cauliflower-Pear Wasabi Soup



Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, washed and chopped up. (Use the stem too, there's no reason not to.)
2 large ripe pears, washed and chopped up.
2-3 tbsp wasabi paste
1L vegetable broth

Pour the broth, pears, and cauliflower into a pressure cooker and cook for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower and pear are really quite soft and already falling apart. Add the wasabi and blend with an immersion blender. Voila.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, never fear--just boil until soft in a large pot. If you have no immersion blender--blend in parts in your regular blender but a word of warning; either let it cool or remove the center part of the lid if you can, else it will splatter like nothing else.

This soup simply dissapeared. My mother and I would have enjoyed more wasabi, my brother would have enjoyed less--so adjust that to taste. It's quite nice as a hint though, coming through the sweetness of the pear and just nipping gently without actually biting. But if you're into the kinky stuff... ;)

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! (And whatever else you may be celebrating. At my house we celebrate nothing, so I'm a little out of the loop as to what I should be wishing you. But well wishes nontheless!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Excitement Excitement!

My days certainly have turned around.

Food chair for recruitment has been insane. I've been shopping and cooking like no tomorrow. I've whirred out litres upon litres of hummus (which I've quite perfected into a silky smooth whipped art), chopped pounds of celery and carrots, steamed barrels of corn, and who knows what else. (Including decorating two 12" by 18" cakes into slates.)


So yesterday I felt like crap and popped a few cups of popcorn, slathered with ketchup and nooch, and put on the season 1 disk of Greek and munched away while seeing what people seem to be falling heads over for (and I too have taken to after 6 episodes of popcorn munching goodness.) That cheered me up a good bit and then my SO called and that made me super happy. We both admitted that we really couldn't wait a full month until we saw each other and made plans for me to go on October 3rd to Montreal. I'm so excited--him and I are going to check out a vegan restaurant (or two); some terrace bars, see if we can't go to the Contemporary Art Museum (which happens to have an open night the first Friday of every month--which we'll be there fore) and of course, most importantly, see each other.

Then, today, to add to my high, I get an e-mail from Ruth Toth; founder of Fresh. At first I got super excited thinking maybe, just maybe I'd somehow gotten an interview despite my lack of serving experience. Unfortunately not so, but instead I'd won a $100 gift certificate from a draw I was entered in for my feedback. When I went in today to get it I got the opportunity to talk to both the owners of the branch just 2 doors down and they were both amazing people. One of them went on a search for my resume, so fingers crossed she finds it--I left her my name and phone number and asked if she could let me know if she couldn't find it, so I'd resubmit it. I spoke to the other owner about Agave Nectar and Teese; he seemed really interested in trying out Teese so who knows, maybe I too will be exposed to this seventh vegan wonder of the world.

So yeah, there's my update of excitement!

More soon, with photos hopefully! Keep your fingers crossed for me--hopefully I get an interview!!! Oh, and wish me luck for recruitment--we've got a lot of quality girls coming to our final round, so here's hoping they accept our bids! (Tomorrow night!!!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vegan This, Vegan That

So what is of the up you may ask? With the sorority's fall recruitment prep in full swing (I've taken on the position of Food Chair, so needless to say I'm doing a LOT of cooking. My hummus makes my sisters go wild; hopefully the potential new members will be as impressed!)

The open date for my latest exchange came and went and so far seems to have gone well. The US postal service took their liberties with the package of one of our recipients; who happens to be a mod over at the veggieboards... Within hours I'd managed to round up a group of other participants each willing to pitch in 5 bucks (or in the case of the origional sender, 45! She's working on getting the insurance to pan out the cash by the way; i'd feel horrible if she had to pay for TWO packages..) and sent out this gift. (Photo taken by the user, Froggy, when he got it..)



I'm happy with how it came out--I hope he really truly enjoys it all!

I can't wait to start sending the SO packages. He phones me and writes to me whenever he can (<3) anad says that soon enough he will be able to recieve small packages--the indoctrination period ends this weekend. I'm still hoping to go see him at the end of October. mmmmm Montreal!!! Je l'aime! <3

Also, I've decided I would be an awesome vegan server--I'm really friendly and have a great memory and attention to detail.. I know a ton about vegan food, food allergies, and special diets and have cooked for all of them, so I can really help people with the menu... and I think I'd just love a job where I get to share the joy of (vegan) food with people!! I've started handing out resumes.. it started with just one and now I'm slowly expanding the circle of applications, mostly because I realized with no waitressing experience I'm going to have to throw a lot more darts to get a bullseye. Fingers crossed!!! Wish me luck!! (And if I get hired, come eat at the restaurant!! There are so many of you Ontarionian vegans!!)

Lifeguarding and instructing is awesome, but downtown Toronto has no city pools!

Well, that's my update for now. I got a new camera, though photo-quality wise its actually not better than my last, its just (a) slimmer and (b) mine. My dad didn't want me to take his when I moved (reasonably).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hmm.. lately.


What have I been up to? Work. A lot of work. What do I eat you ask?

Breakfast: A protein smoothie... frozen fruit, almond milk, and vegetarian protein powder (soy, pea, hemp, and rice mix.. I can handle the soy in that pretty well)

Lunch: Plain beans and nori, made into a wrap as I run out the door for work.

Snack/Dinner: Salad and a LUNA bar. Fruit.. sometimes more beans when I get back from work though I get back quite late.

Pretty much, I mean there's fruits and nuts here and there, but for the most part its kind of dull.

The certain someone I mentioned once or twice before has become my SO, for those who were wondering. And he left about a week ago for basic training--he's to be an airforce officer in the Canadian Military. (Which, for those who might have noticed, explains the ribbon on my banner.) Am I pro war? Heavens no, and neither is he--he wants to do search and rescue and peacekeeping, and I want him to be safe. So I support our troops, who protect us.

I've been taking lots of photos for him, and I put together the most awesome asian themed care package--wasabi peas, wasabi cashews, aloe vera juice, pocky, cock sauce (Its actually chilli sauce--we just call it cock sauce because of the rooster on the label..)... I was going to add some more perishable stuff last minute, but I had the forsight to e-mail an administrator first to ask what is allowed in care packages. My answer? NO FOOD OR CANDY.

Well then. They never said beverages, but I'm going to take a safe bet...

So photos is all that's allowed, photos and letters, so I've been doing just that.

As for my blog? I'm sure you've noticed its been tapering, and I dont know if the food part will resurrect any time soon--I really am swamped and might not have a chance to make anything really post-worthy for a while. Sure I'm eating and cooking and even catering for my sorority's recruitment, but is it super awesome cool? Not really I feel.

So, my blog will now officially become more of a "what's going on in my life" sort of deal--so that when my SO manages to get on the net and misses me, he can check here--as he said he would (and he seemed so crestfallen when I mentioned my blog was all but dead that that is what inspired me to simply convert its main focus.)

I really don't mind if you stop reading it; I totally understand that my life as a vegan lifeguard/student/sorority girl isn't quite what was promised at start, but if you want to follow along; you're more than welcome to come for the ride!

Vegan Hundred

As made by Hannah over at BitterSweet

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1) Copy this list into your own blog, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Post a comment here once you’ve finished and link your post back to this one.
5) Pass it on!

1. Natto
2. Green Smoothie
3. Tofu Scramble
4. Haggis
5. Mangosteen
6. Creme brulee
7. Fondue
8. Marmite/Vegemite
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Nachos
12. Authentic soba noodles
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Taco from a street cart
16. Boba Tea
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Gyoza
20. Vanilla ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Ceviche
24. Rice and beans
25. Knish
26. Raw scotch bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Caviar
29. Baklava
30. Pate
31. Wasabi peas

32. Chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Mango lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Mulled cider
37. Scones with buttery spread and jam

38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Fast food french fries
41. Raw Brownies

42. Fresh Garbanzo Beans (I haven't but seeing garbanzo beans in the pod, via the link Hannah provided, made me really happy--I'd always wondered..)
43. Dahl
44. Homemade Soymilk
45. Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Stroopwafle
47. Samosas
48. Vegetable Sushi
49. Glazed doughnut
50. Seaweed

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Tofurkey
54. Sheese
55. Cotton candy
56. Gnocchi
57. Piña colada

58. Birch beer
59. Scrapple
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Soy curls
63. Chickpea cutlets
64. Curry
65. Durian
66. Homemade Sausages
67. Churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Smoked tofu

69. Fried plantain
70. Mochi
71. Gazpacho
72. Warm chocolate chip cookies

73. Absinthe
74. Corn on the cob
75. Whipped cream, straight from the can
76. Pomegranate

77. Fauxstess Cupcake
78. Mashed potatoes with gravy
79. Jerky
80. Croissants
81. French onion soup
82. Savory crepes

83. Tings
84. A meal at Candle 79
85. Moussaka
86. Sprouted grains or seeds

87. Macaroni and “cheese”
88. Flowers
89. Matzoh ball soup
90. White chocolate
91. Seitan
92. Kimchi

93. Butterscotch chips
94. Yellow watermelon

95. Chili with chocolate
96. Bagel and Tofutti
97. Potato milk
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Raw cookie dough

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm not dead

I know it seems like I've been dead, but I've not. I spent the past week saying goodbye to my sweetheart who is, as we speak, boarding a plane to go to St. Jean, Quebec for his basic training for the Canadian Armed Forces. I wish him all my love and blessings.

What did we do this week? Oh some really fun stuff--we went to his brother's wedding. Gasp how did I manage to eat you may ask? Well, I brought my own food and simply told the caterers I was special diet but didn't want to give them a hassel, so if I could just come to the back between dishes to make myself my food I'd love it. They were more than pleased to accomodate, so that was that. I got to use the cute little bento box I picked up in Spain (I put almonds in the cutlery holder, and I left in the divider so the pits could go somewhere. Tricksy aren't I?)

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I hope some good photos come of me and the SO ripping up the dance floor--we're pretty amazing if I do say so myself! I'll be sure to post a good one here if I can!

Oh, I wish I'd taken a photo but I made two really gorgeous things last night; an awesome salad and some really great bread. The SO's family devoured both, so I'd say it was a hit. I'll give the recipe's here and when I make it again, some photos!


Cranberry Almond Salad

Salad:

454g baby spinach (pre-washed)
3/4 cups sliced almonds
2/3 cups dried cranberries
1-2 tsp flax seed oil

Warm the flax seed oil very gently over low heat, add the almonds and toss well, toast the almonds. Allow to cool and then throw together with spinach and cranberries.

Dressing:
1/2 cup sweetener
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T flax seed oil
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp minced onion
1 T poppyseeds
1 T seasame seeds


Toast the poppyseeds and seasame seeds gently until fragrant. Allow to cool and then either whisk all ingredients together, or as I do; put in a jar and shake shake shake! :) Allow to sit at least 1hr. To serve mix with salad; I used about 3/4 of the dressing I made.

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Jamies-Cranberry-Spinach-Salad/Detail.aspx -- which you can see has over a thousand good reviews!!! This salad is simple but good.



Whole Wheat Olive-Oil Pine Nut Bread

For a bread machine--I was just playing around. The SO's family loved it, even ventured to say it was the best bread they'd ever had. I think that was an exageration, but it definately was good.

Wet: 1 c. Water* & 1/3 c. Olive Oil*

*(I watched the knead and felt it was too dry, so I added a little bit more of each, next time I make this I'll see if I can't adjust the recipe so that's not needed.)

Dry: 3 c. whole wheat flour, 1 T organic sucanat, 1 T gluten, 1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2/3 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (give or take..)
1/3 c/ pine nuts, roughly chopped

1 tsp to 1 T olive oil for glaze; I used some flavored olive oil I keep around, but plain is fine.

Put all but pine nuts and glaze oil in the bread machine, as per your bread machine's instructions, on medium crust, 2lb white bread. Watch to make sure, as mentioned, that there is enough liquid to avoid flour on the corners. 5 min into knead 2 toss in pine nuts. 20 minutes from the end of baking brush with olive oil, and again at the end. Allow to sit inside the bread machine once done for an hour before removing.

That's what I did, I'm sure there's a better way--but this works!

Now I've got formal recruitment to work on--I move in two weeks and the week after tht the sorority will start to open our doors to new girls. I'm in charge of the food, among other things, so perhaps I'll get some good photos.

The cookbook reviews might have to be further postponed. Again, my apologies!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Water Fasting--Is it Healthy?

I've been water fasting for approximately 20 hrs now, and while I feel fine I started to wonder--is it really that healthy?

I mean over and over we're told to never starve our bodies, that less than 900kcal a day is super bad, that no protein will result in severe muscle loss--so is it ok? On the other hand, I really wish I could cleanse my intestines, I feel like I would really benefit to get rid of all of that.

Liquid fasts sound more sound to me, but even then? I'm going to call off my fast and maybe do it in a few weeks once I've gathered more information. I've been reading around and all the medical opinions seem strongly against it, and only homeopathic sites are for water fasting. While I prefer naturopathy/homeopathy... I'm not sure how quick I want to be about discarding medical opinions? I'm at quite a crossroads..

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Spain is almost done


My grandparents are much better, for those who are curious--I'm still spending the majority of my days and nights sitting with my grandparents. I have looked at all the cookbooks I promised to review and my issue is all the recipes either require an ingredient (be it ingredient or spice) that I can't easily get in Spain, include soy, or use the oven. While I could find a way around any of the above issues, it would be a hassel that likely would also make the food come out badly--or me just not like it. (As much as I adore what soy does to me... I even avoided all of the soy yogurt while I was here. Honest.)

One thing I'd really like to do is a fast--so I decided I might as well fast till I get back to Toronto: it sure would make my flight easier (since I didn't ask for a vegan option). So here we go: A 3 day water fast (Monday to Wednesday) and I will spend Thursday and Friday incorporating juices and some fresh fruits and vegetables back into my diet. I will try and update daily as that might help me keep to it... We shall see. Why do I want to fast? Lets say I read up on all of the ailments a fast should cure you from and I feel I could benefit.

Has anyone done a fast before? How was it for you? Any tips? I'm especially concerned coming off of the fast: any tips for how I should do that, especially to avoid binging? (While I'm not doing this to lose weight, I'd rather not gain because of it...)

In other news; the second veggie board snack exchange is officially underway! I did not include myself this round because I simply don't have the money or energy to put a package together, but I'm really excited to see what other people get! :)

Cheers! -ED

Monday, July 21, 2008

Update


Quinoa milk is not aweful. But it sure isn't my preferred choice. The taste of quinoa is noticable, but that should be fine, I don't know why I don't like it though.. its watery and not at the same time, its sweet and not in a good way...

The oat pudding wasn't so amazing either, too sickly sweet...

Hazelnut milk however.

Wow. Soooo wonderfully good, the taste of hazelnuts is just awesome to have in your milk. Oh yum yum yum!

As for the egg front. Someone on the veggieboards pointed out to me that no matter how humane the chickens are raised, the male chicks are still killed because they're simply not needed. I know I know--I knew this, but until they mentioned it to me I'd sort of forgotten? That was the same day I made that last post, so since then I have avoided egg once again. A two day hiatus, in which only one of them I consumed egg... haha... well I gave it a chance, and went back to the better option, what can I say? ;)

As for the grandparent front--they're doing better, they're not perfect, but better.. they still need quite a bit of care so I haven't even thought of cooking yet, but soon!! I'm SO sorry I really am... these reviews might be a month or two late, but I promise they will come...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Spanish "Dairy"


No-name or supermarket brand soy yogurt from Caprabo and.. um.. another I can't remember? As well as brands from Danone etc. Soy yogurt drinks as well!

Oat yogurt (Bought one to try)

Almond and Hazelnut puddings

Hazelnut, Tigernut (not chufi though), Oat and QUINOA milk! (I bought some Quinoa milk--it only comes as a powder but thats cool; means I can bring it home)

Why is Canada so behind?!

So, if you can't tell--I'm back in Spain. I went to NYC first but ended up here. I know I know I promised cookbook reviews; to both the readers and the writers of those books I apologize profusely. Both my grandparents are really rather unwell but are slowly getting better. My second cousin of three months is also in town so between the three everyone's running around with our hair on fire. The moment this calms down I'll start cooking again--for now I'm living off of veggies and beans and whatever people feed me.

I have taken a bit of a 'hiatus' from veganism--I will eat the eggs here. I feel they are actually free range. (Most of my neighbors keep their chickens in very large fenced areas in the backyard and go and collect eggs from their little wooden houses once a day--and sell whatever extra.) I wont cook with eggs myself--its just too wierd for me, but if someone makes me something with egg, I don't mind, knowing where it came from and being scared crapless of the chickens myself; knowing they're taken care of well. Dairy I am still uncomfortable with, despite the fact we let them pasture in the mountains and all that--I feel milk is meant for babies. My standards for the goods I use and clothes I wear have not changed. But I am now ovo-vegetarian. Once I return to Canada I will likely return to veganism, but of course I will keep this blog completely vegan either way. I hope this doesn't deeply upset anyone...

Photos of these 'dairy' products to come, and reviews hopefully--the soy I might end up trying even though it doesnt agree with me; we'll see. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cooking!

So me and two of my sorority sisters who are veg*n decided to get together to experiment a bit with vegan cooking. Since I didn't know what they had and didn't want to run back to my house (which we ended up doing ANYWAY cus I forgot the nooch. D'OH!) I packed everything I could think of that maybe she wouldn't have.

CIMG2299

(In the cardboard box are my knives and a few things from the fridge like tahini, apple sauce, miso, etc.) As you'll see a lot of this is just spices and dried beans. Not exactly stuff you wont find in a 'regular' household, just never know what the recipe calls for--since we hadn't picked our recipes yet. (Notice the ton of books I had ready to choose from) In the end we just made seitan and tempeh. They were both good, and while the tempeh did disagree with me a bit--it definately wasn't half as hard on me as most soy products!

My friends helped me make chocolate covered banana lollies for a street-party potluck that was that evening, which we froze cus I feel like banana tastes like ice cream when frozen. They were a hit. Yummmmm. (I bought the chocolate from wal-mart, it was just a dark belgian chocolate which happened to be vegan. :D)

CIMG2305

OH! And my package from the vegan snack exchange I set up on the veggieboards arrived. WOW did my sender outdo herself! Thanks again missj5! For those interested join veggieboards.com. My blog there is 100% dedicated to the exchange so it will give you any info you might need to know about joining in in the future. I hope to make this something that happens once every 2 to 3 months.

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Oh, and here are some brownies I baked the other morning for a certain someone I was going to the zoo with. Me being all embarassed and shy I told him I baked them for my brother and just stole some for us. Lies. They came out kind of bad though, because I sort of winged it. I chopped up a bar of endangered species dark chocolate, added all of the cocoa powder I had left, sifted my regular whole wheat flour to get rid of the bran (but even so, it was obvious it wasn't a dessert flour. Oh well..) I liked it because while they were really chocolatey (and they were my first time using agave ever, which I found soo wonderfully sweet) they didn't HIT me, you know?

Brownies

From the exchange I brought the same certain someone a brownie and a cookie, and it got me a kiss, so thanks again missj5. Those brownies are sinfully fudgey though--nothing like mine. Lol, he thought I'd baked it at first and was saying how much better it was. He was probably a bit embarassed when I let him know that I didn't bake those, just the worse ones. ;) Its ok, I'm no baker.

Anyway, a lot of my energy and attention right now is on my assignment that I had 6 weeks to do and am just starting--due next Friday.

Upcoming is volunteering with the Toronto Vegetarian Association (veg.ca) at the Pride Parade on Sunday. Also, I have recieved permission from all the cookbooks but Very Vegetarian to publish some recipes for you all in my reviews--so look for that!

Wow.. I'm sorry! Here's how my trip went!

First of all I really really want to apologize for my lack of posting. I keep meaning to do it and managing not to. So here I am, DOING IT.

My trip went well, I met one of my best friends' Aunts and explored Kitchener/Waterloo. I bought some frames and a plate for plating at liquidation world, and a vegan cookbook for 99c at the Salvation Army! It's by The Big Carrot--a store I believe I mentioned in my blog before.

Anyway, I also went to this wonderful little spice shop one morning. It had EVERYTHING. Here's what I got (with the little cash I had on me..)

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Wasabi Peanuts!! These things were sooo addictive!!!

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So many recipes I want to try called for Keffir Lime Leaves so now I have them, and I'd remembered reading about zaatar. Zaatar definately had a GORGEOUS smell to it and I just had to have it. I later read its usually just mixed with oil as a dip... I decided to sprinkle some on some tomatoes, and eat it with some pumpernickel (which is my love affair, by the way.. luckily finding vegan loaves is doable even at my "No Frills" (a lower-end grocery store chain in Canada; better prices but usually less selection/quality)

CIMG2318

So yummy! I loved it.

We also went to a chinese market and tried some wierd fruit we couldn't find the name of. I believe it starts with an A. It had a texture like a mix between a kiwi and a pear, and it tased like raspberries and bananas and a LOT of Agave nectar!! (SO SWEET)

Unknown name of fruit

I also found some jackfruit in water, actually a few brands had them but this had the lowest sodium of them. I'm sure its available in TO (what isn't?) but I hadn't seen it yet, so I picked up a can. I would've gotten more but I had forgotten my wallet, and my friend's aunt treated me to it--but I didn't want to push it!

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I also stopped in on a nice little farmers market in Kitchener

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but most of the produce etc was too expensive for me--they did have some jewelry for a steal though, and I got some nice earrings and a bracelet.

When I was there I tried the choc-cherry bar I mentioned in my movie

Choc-Cherry Bar

It was pretty yummy!

Choc-Cherry Bar

It was moist and sweet--very chocolatey and dessert-like.


All in all a good trip! :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

LASTMINUTEROADTRIPWHOA!!!



Guys don't hate me. Its amateur and its unedited and it was done with my camera because my camcorder requires more than 10 minutes for me to figure out how it works. (I DO have a digital camcorder on that note, I just don't ever use it. ever.)

So yeah, if you hated how amateur this was.. HINT HINT help me edit the actual shows.

Thanks and wish me fun!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Money CAN Buy Me Love. (and why being friendly and talkative really DOES pay.)

Growing up I never really visited The Junction; an area of Dundas St. W quite near my home. Part of it was because I lived closer to Bloor West Village, and part of it was because it simply came off as run down. Since my childhood however it has slowly but surely been improving. Recently, the most noticable of these improvements has been quite relevant to me as three vegan friendly establishments opened; The Beet, The Sweet Potato, and Rawlicious.

In any case today my sister and I decided to go for a walk through there--part job-hunting part jus spending time together (which we do all too little nowaday.)

First we stopped into a used bookstore and of course I dart for the cooking section. To my surprise at least 20% of the cookbooks were vegetarian! I picked up a few of the vegan ones and wondered "hmm.. should I get these? They're so much cheaper than in store.. some of them you can't even find in Canada easily.." but my student wallet screamed with indignation and I sighed and left.

After we came across the showroom store for Lavishy--I was so excited; they had jewelry of all sorts--from shiney to shimmery to funky to cute; novelty items and tasteful items and quirky items all at a really good price. I got some watermelon earrings for $10 and a beaded ring and bracelet each for $5! They had some really gorgeous pleather wallets and I know once I get more money I'll be running back!

Anyway, once I got home all I could think about were those cookbooks. And then I thought--well, ok. So yes I'll end up spending maybe $50.00 to $60.00, but I usually would be spending $80 or $90 for the same books, and frankly--I'm going to be vegan for the rest of my life, so I can consider this my older, established self making an investment. Yes, that's right. I pretended I was a time traveller. How else do you reason with your wallet? It bought the argument well enough and I jettied off back to the store!

When I was there I decided to only get the ones with vegan advertised explicitly on the cover--there were raw "uncookbooks" and several vegetarian cookbooks that I believed were in fact vegan, but even so I could only afford so much. I put the three, mint-condition books I had quickly picked out on the desk of the store owners, which was an antique wooden desk littered with books, and as he started to write up my purchase in his little notebook we chatted. He asked if I was vegan and I said yes, and told him a little bit about the monetary dilemma I had in order to explain why I hadn't just bought these earlier. I also explained that I was a time traveller. Only without those exact words, perhaps. We spoke of some restaurants in the area and just this and that as I flipped through the other cookbooks available to me to see if any really stood out--but my wallet, time traveller or not, was beginning to moan so I decided it was time to pay.

The owner looked at my purchase and said "You know what? I want to cut you some slack--you're a student and I get that. I'm going to give you a small discount." I was so happy--I figured he'd take maybe two or three dollars off the total... in fact? He took a couple dollars off each book!

untitled

The Voluptuous Vegan, priced $27.50CAD on the spine he was selling in store for 12.99--he gave it to me for 10.99. Fresh & Fast Vegan Pleasures, priced $24.00CAD he was selling in store for 10.99, and sold it to me for 9.99! Finally, Very Vegetarian, priced $27.99CAD he had up for 16.99 and sold it to me for 14.99! Altogether, after tax, my bill was $37.77CAD--for three huge mint condition vegan cookbooks that would have been $90.61 at regular price--not to mention possible shipping!! (Foods that don't bite back I actually got for five bucks at Chapters in the clearance bin. Chapters is like the Canadian version of Borders.)

I have already flipped through them and am so impressed by these books--they're truly gems!! My plan is to give a review of each of them, after cooking a few of their dishes and reading through them more carefully--so look for that!

Other things that are upcoming: I have recieved some encouragement to work on that show now that its the summer and have decided I will most definately do so. I'm practicing these days making salads and stuff on camera to just get used to speaking to a camcorder. I have no video editing skills AT ALL and if anyone wants to jump up and say "I CAN DO THAT" then we really *can* get this show on the road. If not.. well.. I'll try and get at least one up by the end of the summer...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Episode: Mint

Quinoa and Pea Salad

Buying fresh mint + thunderstorm = recipes. And food porn. And goodness. (Although the thunderstorm does get in the way of proper lighting, so apologies for any slight decrease in photo quality. I think I managed to get a few good ones despite.)

I believe all the essentials have been said, so let the food post begin!

Quinoa and Pea Salad with Mint and Lemon

This salad has enough substance that you can eat it as a main dish, but is cool and refreshing to help you stay feeling light in the summer heat. This recipe makes 4-6 main servings, or 8-10 as a side.

Quinoa and Pea Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
water (enough to cook quinoa, at least 2 cups)
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper

Preparation:

Cook the quinoa by boiling it in the water until they look like miniature Saturns (little balls with rings around them)--drain well and put back in the pot, stirring with a fork to help fluff it up as it dries out.

Take the frozen peas and add it in to the quinoa once the quinoa is dry (but still warm)--this will defrost the peas and gently soften them without actually cooking them. Add in the mint and squeeze the lemon half till you feel you've gotten 1/2 to 2/3 of the juice in it. (So the juice of 1/4 to 1/3 of a lemon) This is, obviously, to taste. Sprinkle in a little bit of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix and allow to completely cool before serving. (If you leave out the salt to make this low sodium, the recipe won't suffer much. :))


Summer Strawberries

What's more refreshing than strawberies, mint, and lemon on a hot summers day? Makes for four generous servings (or 8 smaller servings).

Summer Strawberries

Ingredients:

1.5 lb strawberries
1.5 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 to 3 tbsp dried blueberries
1/2 a lemon
1 tsp sweetener

Preparation:
Wash and slice the strawberries in half. (If they are really huge you can further cut them, but they really don't have to be even in size. What is optimal is to have them all of a size that can gracefully be put into the mouth and eaten.) Mix the mint, blueberries and sweetener with the juice of 1/3 to 1/2 of the lemon half and the zest of the lemon half. (So the juice of 1/6 to 1/4 of a lemon.) Mix well and allow to sit for the flavors to combine for at least 1/2 hour, preferably saran wrapped and refridgerated.

Summer Strawberries


Mint Milk


In the winter, as snow blizzards outside and the wind whistles at your windows you cuddle up with a warm cup of chocolate milk. Well now you can have that comfort year long--in the summer, as the rain pours outside and the thunder cracks in the distance you can cuddle up with a warm cup of mint milk.

This tea is warm and comforting. The almond milk thickens as it is heated and is infused with the soothing taste of mint. The mint is not overpowering but can be tasted clearly in the milk, and leaves you with a refreshing yet cozy aftertaste. The recipe makes for one serving.


Mint Milk

Ingredients:

Mint tea bag.
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp sweetener
a hint of nutmeg.*

Preparation:

Put everything into a pot and put the heat onto medium-low. Gently stir constantly to avoid scalding the milk. Stir for approximately 5 minutes; the milk sould be hot and a light matcha green color (like that of green tea ice cream). Serve hot.

*(No more than a scrape or two with your knife--on that note: always freshly grate nutmeg. I hated nutmeg until I started grating my own; now its the spice I will put in almost anything.)


Mint Tea


Mint tea aids in digestion, helps clear colds, and is just darn right comforting. How could I make a post on mint and leave out my go-to tea when my tummy is hurting or I'm feeling sick? No recipe, just get a mint teabag, boil the water, and steep. Alternatively; put the mint teabag into lukewarm water and allow it to sit for an hour before drinking, or even put it in cool water and allow it to sit overnight. I have been told that the cold/overnight method results in the best tea (plus it is then considered raw, I believe.)

Mint Tea


BONUS: Freezing Mint

Frozen Mint

If you're anything like me, an entire bunch of herbs bought at the grocery store is more than you could ever use in one recipe. So here's how I freeze the extra. I wash it and allow it to dry, or pat it dry. I take all the good leaves off the stem and spread them on a plate; make sure you don't have clumps of leaves and also try to avoid piling them too high. 2-3 high should be the maximum (you could even freeze them in a single layer, should you have enough freezer space). Once they're frozen you can put them in a ziplock bag; ready to be used. They will be defrosted enough to chop within minutes when you want to use them, assuming your freezer isn't deathly cold.

This method works well for any herb that is generally used raw, with only a rough chop. It works for cooking herbs too, however an easier method exists for those; wash them, pick what you would use of them, chop/dice/grind, and freeze them in an ice cube tray; half tablespoon per cube (or less, depending how many people you generally cook for. I usually cook for four.) Once frozen you can put these cubes into a ziplock bag, and when your recipe calls for a tablespoon of said herb, just grab two cubes (or the appropriate amount) and dump them in like that; no need to defrost.

After sleeping on it

I only slept a few hours last night, but after breakfast and properly waking up I felt so much better. I have come to one conclusion;

I am so thankful for my job. I am so thankful that I am trained and given the opportunity to help people like Simone who need me.

I really want to say thanks to hoodedclawjen from the VB (who, by the way, I will hopefully meet up with soon enough to have a vegan shindig)--she really helped me feel better.

What a day...

I'm a lifeguard and today a little four year old girl slipped and fell and hit her head. Her mom took her to me and I was first guard for the whole incident, as well as guard in charge (i.e. I took care of her first aid, and ordered the other two around.)... in the end everything was okay. She came back after going with EMS to the hospital and getting her head "glued" together (I'm thinking it must be like a fancy version of liquid skin--because they use "staples" for stitches, so glue must be for bandaids? Oh those emerg. doctors..) to talk to me and thank me and let me know she was ok and we had a good giggle about how wierd it is to get glued together. Her mom wrote me/my boss a two page letter thanking the staff, and me in particular as I was the only guard she really dealt with, for how we handled it all.

She left her address so I wanted to thank her for letting me know she was ok (definately made me feel a good bit better)

A pink giraffe

I wrote a thank you on the back to Simone (i.e. in language a four year old will get) and added: "I think this giraffe had one too many strawberry ice creams!"

((She was too young to know what day it was, or even her address. Some of my questions to assess her LOC included favourite animal (giraffe), favourite color (pink) and favourite ice cream flavor (strawberry)...))

As if the day wasn't crazy enough, when we finally re-opened the pool later on in the day I was first guard for another incident, but it was a minor and no real treatment was required other than some calming down and some speaking, and filling out yet another report.

So all is good right?

So why am I unable to eat, and I just keep thinking about it.. the amount of blood.. the smell.. talking to her.. the things I did wrong, the things I did right. I don't feel guilty--I got enough compliments from her mother, my coworkers, the patrons and even EMS that I know I did well. (And besides, she came back beaming and giggling--what more could I ask for?)

I'm tired but I can't sleep. My stomach is aching but I can't bring myself to eat... I want to talk to someone but I can't pick up the phone, I dont know what I'd say or how it would help. So I guess I posted here. The joy of the internet.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

SoyAge, by GranoVita

When I was in the Big Carrot (a store which I love, by the way..) I was glancing at the soy yogurt, as is habit (yogurt and eggs were the two things I had to give up going vegan, as you might have read previously.) and I saw these:

SoyAge

Despite my slight soy intolerance, I HAD to try them, thinking it might just be a brand of soy yogurt in Toronto that could begin to rival european soygurt (look ma I coined a term.) They had several flavors but eagerly I grabbed the two that seemed the most appealing and added them to my cart.

This morning I took one out for breakfast; hoping to have a creamy yogurt treat with its beautiful tang and tart flavor help me start my day. I was, unfortunately, dissapointed. That's not to say it wasn't good--it just wasn't yogurt at all. Once I got past my initial dissapointment I allowed myself to enjoy it; I don't know what to compare it to, other than it was a little creamy, very fruity, and had an interesting texture that was like a mixture between custard and jello. A very set pudding perhaps, or jam, but not as sweet. On the label as I read more closely, the main ingredients were fruit and soy was only 2% of the whole shebang. Well, even though it wasn't what I'd hoped for--at least my body wasn't going to suffer for it. (I doubt 3g of soy will cause me serious discomfort, but we'll see.)

SoyAge: Inside

SIDE STORY: I also saw vegan "chef-grade" puff pastry, vegan frozen pie crusts of all sorts (whole wheat, spelt, etc.), lots of vegan instant dinners/hors d'ouvres/etc, Kelp Caviar--all of which I'd be happy to review if someone is interested in knowing about them. I myself reasoned; I didn't buy these things as an omni, why would I buy them now?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Marg's Chickpea Salad

Oh Marg. How we all loved you, and yet how much you upset/annoyed us with your funny "one piece only" rules and incessant lectures. I personally appreciated it--well the rationing maybe not (you know we ended up eating a sandwich at the end of every meal to make up for the small portions... we're growing kids doing a lot of work, we need food..) but definately the "no cross-contamination" nazi-like strictness was almost essential to me. (Imagine if they took the meat spoon and used it to toss out peas..) And frankly, I liked your cooking so everyone else can complain all they like.

One thing though Marg, that was simply divine, was your chickpea salad. Everyone loved it. (Well, except for Brent, but he's got this wierd anti-chickpea thing going on. I blame it on the combination of his height and his [red] hair.) So Marg, this one's for you... (Marg actually sent me her recipe)

Marg's Chickpea salad

Chickpea Salad

1, 19 oz can chick peas
2 Tb chopped red onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced tomato
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 Tb oil*
2 Tb red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 Tb lemon juice
salt and pepper

Mix and let sit half hour to an hour before serving.


*I used this much oil, but doubled the chickpeas and most everything else. I also added a good handful of kalamata olives, chopped up and pitted of course.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Photos

Some photos I've found on my dads camera, when I was uploading them. (Thus the delay of June 3rds post..)

Seitan four ways

We sat down at the table for dim-sum at the chinese restaurant and lo and behold, first thing they offer us--seitan four ways! I was so happy yum yum yum. ^__^ We now are back to going to dimsum almost weekly--something I thought would never happen once I went vegan.


All ready for camp...

This didn't even last me the first week

Packing for camp! The "milk" only lasted me just over a week! Luckily we went into town and I bought some more! (I got the president's choice organics brand and its soo good!)


Lunch! Seitan and Salad

My lunch today. Salad with Sundried Tomato-Lemon-Basil Dressing. Seitan came out a bit funny this time, but still good. And of course, some trusty blueberry tea.


This meme I stole from Hannah over at BitterSweet

My creation

The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker).

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day... 7?

Whoa.. a full week already? I was convinced I was on day 4 at the most!

Friday... I can't remember. Saturday I worked all day. Sunday we had a bunch of people over for a barbeque, and I made a chickpea salad, a sprout salad, and the salad I made last time once more. That raspberry dressing really is killer. I also noticed my toilet water is bright fuchsia. Maybe not something you want to hear about on a food blog, but I think its kind of funny. I refrained from buying beets today on that note.

Here are my beet/raspberry salad, and my sprout salad:

Beet Salad with Raspberry Dressing, take two

Sprouted Lentil Salad

Here's my chickpea salad; it wasn't amazing--I'd loosely followed a recipe I'd gotten from the camp I was at, cus that one was pretty awesome--and this one could've been better. I'll tweak it and post once I'm satisfied.

Chickpea Salad

And this salad was brought by the guests:

Mandarin and almond salad

I didn't try it though, as the dressing had honey--but this is definately an inspiring combo for another day!

I also made a pear-cranberry tart from VwaV but forgot to cover it with tinfoil for the first bit, so it was way too dry. :( I was bad and tried Natura maple soy ice cream (my first non-dairy soy ice cream ever)--it was so creamy and good. My stomach was like AHH STUPID afterwards.

Pear-Cranberry Tart

On Monday I went and did a bit of a photoshoot at the crack of dawn, so by 7am all we could think was cofffeeeeeeee. I wasn't even thinking and put a ton of soy milk in mine (though really there wasn't a good way around it unless I were to drink my coffee black. Dairy is not an option.) and my stomach was later on not so happy again.

Today has been blissfully soy-free, and I made a broccoli and black eyed pea salad:

Broccoli and Black Eyed Peas Salad

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 2

So while my sniffles and cough are much worse, my GI issues are much, much MUCH better. This makes me very very sad--soy is something that I adore, and it seems that my body does not agree. Perhaps in small quantities I'd be fine though, since I ate it through my childhood?

Moving on..
I had a really great salad at dinner today! A title? A title... Um... I'll leave that for you to decide.

My salad! yumm!

-Organic baby lettuces (red & green romaine, red & green oak leaf, lollo rosa, tango), organic red & green chard, organic mizuna, organic arugula, organic frisée, organic radicchio. ((From Earthbound Farms--but of course you can sub how you like.))
-A mix of tomatoes, or just cherry tomatoes
-carrots, chopped roughly
-baby potatoes, cooked through and allowed to cool
-beets, chopped roughly, tossed in oil and salt and roasted for 50min to an hour, allowed to cool.
-corn on the cob, steamed and then the corn sliced off the cob.

assemble and top with raspberry balsamic vinegar and garlic and rosemary oil

Garlic and Rosemary Oil: simply take some good quality olive oil (extra virgin preferred) and several cloves of garlic and a generous amount of dried rosemary and allow the rosemary and garlic to sit in the oil to flavor it--this can last as long as you like, and you can fill up the oil to the top whenever its getting low.

Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar: allow 1 cup of frozen raspberries to thaw, pour in 1/3 to 1/2 a cup of balsamic vinegar and the juice of 1/2 a large lemon, as well as some lemon zest. Mix well.

The dressing and the salad!

The sweetness of the raspberries played off of the sweetness of the beets and corn nicely, and brought out the sweetness in the carrots and tomatoes--I used the word sweet too many times: it really wasn't overpowering, the oil, rosemary and garlic brought it back down to earth if you know what I mean. (I'm obviously not a food critic..) This was a hit with my family!!

We also had the rest of the corn on the cob, and lentils with ginger. We enjoyed this dinner with some blueberry tea, cooled (though not chilled) and with a few slices of lemon--very refreshing and yet warming (especially nice for sick little me!)

blueberry tea

Funny how everyone enjoyed this dinner, and yet my mom makes comments like "I would lose so much weight if I were vegan--there's nothing to eat!"

Oh! And my mother has taken onto the sprouting craze! She bought some lentils and "sandwich saver mix" that are meant for sprouting, we're on day.. 2? 3?.. they should be ready to eat any time now!

sandwich sprouts.. sprouting lentils

She's so taken to it that she's also trying to sprout soy beans, mung beans, and who knows what else--though these she just bought as dried beans that are meant for cooking. Does that work? We'll find out...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 1

There is soy in EVERYTHING. Ok maybe not everything, but like--I'm eating away at my cereal this morning because I didn't feel like oatmeal. Oops.

Then I was offered some gum and it was vegan--except for the soy lecithin. Well poo. (I chewed it anyway--honestly, I doubt trace amounts of soy are my issue...) I definately was much better today than I have been since I got back.

I am sick though, with a cough--I've had a cough the past few days and last night I went and played Ultimate Frisbee. Of course it was the coldest day in the past like, three weeks--my fingers couldnt even bend by the end of it! So now I'm feeling relatively sick--I made tomato lentil soup today, no recipe; just got a whole lot of garlic and the onion I had left (which my newly sharpened knife cut through like EB! And here I always thought my knife skills were bad because it didn't ever look as easy as the people on TV--well now my knife sure is flying!) Added in some veggies I'd roasted back when and frozen, as well as some frozen peas and corn and potatoes (just emptied out whatever was left in the baggies) put in some lentils I'd cooked earlier and some tomato soup concentrate that had been in my cupboard for some time. Add some herbs and salt and presto--such an awesome soup. Mmm.. I overate. Oops...

I also bought some Hemp milk--only 4g protein/cup (soy milk has 8) so I guess I'll have to stop counting on my 'milk' as a good source of protein (almond milk, which my family has stocked up, only has 1g!) Oh well, it's not the end of the world.

On to day 2--hopefully with some photos and maybe even a recipe or two!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

SHE LIVES

Sorry I've been MIA for so long! I was gone for two weeks up north measuring Thalictrum dioicum with my hands while scaling cliffs and getting most of my protein from oatmeal, peanutbutter, and the occasional bean. :P But seriously, it was fun! (I also went 'frogging' while drunk--ok so maybe its not vegan to go and catch frogs, but if it makes you think any higher of me--I couldn't catch a single one! :P Besides, it was catch and release, the herpatology students just wanted to learn about them--all in the name of ecology (and often conservation!))

Since then I've done some cooking--I made my first seitan sauges ever using this recipe by Vegan Dad Here they are: P5250019

I also made a really pretty oriental salad with goji berries, seasame seeds, snow peas, carrots, and okra. P5200005

I bought those ingredients, plus taro root and jicama at a chinese market for cheap cheap cheap! Taro root tastes like coconut flesh when raw--but apparently I shouldnt eat it raw because its toxic? Can't make me more sick than i already am!!

That note brings me to the real point of this post: I am not ok. Not long after I went vegan I started to get severe gastrointestinal problems... mostly embodied by a really foul odor... *cough* Anyway... I always thought my intestines would get used to it and all, but when I was up north it went away and when I came back to TO it's worse than EVER... I don't think its gluten, cus I lived off of bread those two weeks.. so I'm going to try and cut out soy for the next two weeks. Considering the fact I'm working out every day (I even got myself a personal trainer to teach me how to use free weights--so far its going great) and I'm training for a marathon (and I'm doing the Run for the Cure (for Breast Cancer)--anyone who wants to sponsor me can just follow this link and donate anything from 1 dollar to your hearts desire--every penny helps!!) protein is going to be a major concern for me--I'm already looking into alternatives to soy milk that are better in protein than my almond milk (which is only 1g per cup!!)--I've got lots of beans and stuff too, and might get a protein powder that is soy-free. I would eat seitan, especially since I loved vegan dad's so much--but I sort of noticed it made me sicker after I ate it... wierd? The only soy in it was the tablespoon of soy sauce really, and since I'm half asian I basically grew up on soy sauce and tofu, so this is all confusing me.

If you have any suggestions as to what it could be, if not soy, please do share. Until then, I'm gonna try soy-free...