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It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?  The “ice cream” is not the central player here, it is just frozen creamed banana with some almond butter.  No, no, the best part is the homemade waffle cone bowl.  Yes!  Homemade and still warm and about as thick as a crepe and snapping off into big crunchy pieces I could dip in the cold banana, dripping with bits of chocolate cherry sauce and toasted flaky almonds…. I love dinners like this (dinner indeed) and whatever inspires me to make them.  

I’m trying to remember what inspired me to make this….
Oh right!  It was watching Hubert Keller make a waffle cone something-or-other on Top Chef Masters (I think it was Keller, don’t quote me on that).  And the fact that every time I pass an ice cream shop I basically just stop and drool at the buttery cone smell.  Thankfully Gale Gand had a recipe that’s essentially vegan, so I whipped it up with a kind of MacGuyver-esque method of squishing the batter between a liberally lubed-up saucepan and a frypan.  ‘Cause I don’t have a waffle iron (yet).
Check it out!  Method of champions!  Ha ha, well, its an interesting progression nonetheless.  The first one was floppy-doppy, not hard or thin enough at all.  The second was after I broke out the second pan for squishing, and it was much better, much more crisp.  Things just improved down the line… none of them were quite as thin as I’d like (I might make a slightly thinner batter next time), and they were lacking the little waffle pattern that I bet contributes to a high shatter-factor, but they were otherwise the real deal!

Leading ultimately to this glorious bowl of sweet sweet goo………… gone in 5 minutes, probably. :)
I’d like to try the others with a real ice cream, though, and I have a few cups of slightly-sweetened coconut milk in my freezer waiting for just a purpose such as this… does anyone have a favourite recipe?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be coconut flavoured, but coconut-rum would be pretty cool.  

Vegan Vanilla Waffle Cones
(adapted from Gale Gand)
1 cup heavy soy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp cornstarch
oil for the iron
In a bowl, briskly whip together the cream with the vanilla.  Sift together the dry ingredients, then add them to the wet and stir just to mix smooth the biggest lumps.  Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.
Heat up a waffle cone iron (I don’t know!  Maybe waffle irons come with attachments!) and brush with a little oil.  Pour in some batter and close to lid to bake and brown.  Open the iron and remove the browned batter and shape it while it’s still warm.  You can wrap it around a cone shape to make a classic cone, fold it over a ramekin to make a deep bowl, turn it into a taco – whatever possibility you like, as long as you’re fast and use oven mitts to protect your hands from burning!  
Let them cool, devour with ice cream.
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Mmm… it’s one of those mornings I grab a sweater and a coffee and just start working on stuff, in this case blogging.  To me that’s so evocative of autumn, which has begun to be noticed in the air.  I’m supposed to be selling postcards at an outdoor craft show/sidewalk sale today and the sky is a dark dark grey, with a snappy chill and a risk of rain… So I’m enjoying the indoor lamplight while I can, and getting the most out of every second I can hang out in my plushy pajama pants.  (pajama pants being the best invention ever, probably).
It seems appropriate to blog about the last of the summer meals, in this case.  Cold refreshing food I might not be as interested in in just a few days… zarusoba being an iconic example.  Despite owning a package of soba noodles the size of my head, I only just recently made up the appropriate dipping sauce to go with it so I could eat it summer style, cold with nori shavings on top.  If it’s still warm where you are, I recommend it so much!  And I insist that you slurp it, sucking up air in a perfect satisfying hoover as you eat, because it really does improve the flavour about 50% – I think it has to do with almost smelling it as you eat.
Perfect technique, so demure, and yet loads of delicious delicious air in every bite!  Now I kinda want fat soft udon, yumm……

This is a vegetable curry Pomme and I made using a lot of inspiration from this book, a seafood curry to be exact.  So it was a mix of turmeric, basil, mint, cayenne, paprika, pepper and lemon, which I thought was really novel (and very delicious).  Eaten with wheat berries for carbohydrates (defrosted from the freezer because you can do that), and a cucumber salad I made with chunks of ruby red cactus pear.  The seeds of cactus pears are hard like little BBs, but the melon taste and beautiful colour is worth it, like a poor man’s watermelon maybe.
Of those occasional small-batch cookies I make sometimes after meal, these mint chocolate brownie bites were knee-meltingly good!!  I wish I’d written things down, but there’s ground almonds in there, plus vanilla, mint, pockets of chocolate chips, and the texture was like 2-bite brownies, amazing.  Biting into them was a world-stopping experience, which probably means I added enough cocoa powder to the mix. ;P
Sometimes hash, just straight up hash is perfect.  Smoky sausages, in season tomatoes, little baby basil leaves, and enough salt and pepper to tie it together = wish I had more sausages so I could make this for lunch right now!
Finally, I’d had a tomato tart on the brain all summer.  Every week went by and I wondered when I would do it, if I would remember, if all the ambrosial blushing tomatoes would disappear from the markets en masse before I got the chance to make that pie.  But I did remember!  Luck would have it that I came upon a huge package of gorgeous organic tomatoes for a steal, and I hopped on the chance to bake them oh-so briefly in hardly more than their own juices.

I used a cornmeal pizza crust recipe from here, replaced most of the cornmeal with masa harina, spread the bottom with grainy mustard, thyme leaves, and drizzled it with olive oil before baking.  
And while I folded up the edges to make it more like a tart, I quickly found out that hand-to-mouth was the ideal method of eating this – it was a pizza at heart, and a robust and juicy one, too.  I still can’t think of any way I’d rather eat tomatoes right now!

Oh right!  That wasn’t the last thing, this is ^  Celine’s peanut butter granola!  oooooooooooh!
I replaced the PB with a Peanut-hazelnut blend, used hazelnut oil instead of canola, and left out the chocolate and it’s absolutely fantastic.  I hardly need to rave about how it melts away on the tongue and is just kissed with sweet and is full of toasty flax and is easy to make… because most of you have made this I’m sure, or at least if you haven’t you should and you can have a batch of oven-fresh granola in less time than it takes to run out and buy some.  
Kind of makes me wish I had some milk or yogurt around ever, but a jar of this in the fridge will disappear from nibbling fingers soon enough anyway, I assure you. ;)
Next post: an adventure in ninja-vegan waffle cones!

I found a growing kernel of corn peeking up from the moldy dishcloth that holds my drying rack in place.  A perfectly healthy and strong shoot hiding out just behind the glasses and bowls… I seriously thought I’d just dropped a scallion back there and for a few days I didn’t look twice at it.  A scallion!  Even though last time I checked scallions didn’t grow straight up and greener every day, 8, 9, 10 inches higher………  I hope it transplants to a real planter okay.  
Why is mold so awesome to me?  It’s so unpredictable and almost never makes me sick.  In the beginning stages it can just indicate pretty accurately how your produce is doing, or your planting soil, or your pita bread, or your… dishcloth.  So alive, and a little bit fuzzy, much like tarantulas!

Maybe it’s because looking at a patch of rot makes it easy to imagine the micro universe in a real way.  It’s like a magnifying glass on what’s really no worse for being visible, all these microbes and cultures and things.  Something vital… something just a little bit gross.  And real!  Pineapples taste best of all when they’re starting to ferment and the flesh tickles the tongue with a bit of carbonation…. there wouldn’t be mushrooms without fungi.  Kimchee and kombucha and natto and beer!
I’m allergic to penicillin.  
Maybe… the ability to placidly accept the appearance of white fuzz on your food supply will be a deciding factor in determining who survives longest when the world changes forever.  :O

My room-mate’s birthday came up unexpectedly!  I had to innovate… it helped that I could peek into her side of the pantry and note the favoured ingredients… and remember that she has a yen for spicy food and japanese (similar taste much!)

I essentially made her the cake I secretly hoped someone would make for me someday (but shh, it works here, too).

I made a half recipe of a cake I found online here, sliced it into 4 rectangles and sandwiched them with a full recipe of the Vegan Cupcakes take over the World chocolate mousse recipe, but with a bunch of wasabi and ginger added, yes!

Top it with some pretty kiwis and champagne grapes and white pearls and call it an ideal job.  Just about exactly what I was aiming for – it’s elegant and spicy and rich.  If I did it again I might add some cashew cream layers, or some strawberry jam, but really it’s perfect just the way it is right here.  Roomie even professed to get a wasabi high off the mousse!  Ha ha, couldn’t ask for more.

Black Sesame Cake

(from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert (veganized), via Dessert First)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup soy yogurt

3 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil*

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup soymilk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup toasted black sesame seeds

– Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a cake tin and dust flour inside it.  Set aside.

– Add the vinegar to the soymilk and set aside to curdle.

– Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  

– In a large bowl, beat together the soygurt, sesame oil, vanilla, canola oil, and sugar until it’s smooth and caramell-y, about 2-3 minutes with a whisk.

– Add 1/3 of the flour to the liquid ingredients and stir to combine.  Add half the curdled soymilk and stir.  Add another 1/3 of the flour (stir), then the rest of the milk (stir), then the last of the flour (stir).  Make sure not to overwork the batter, but it should be smooth and pourable.

– Pour into the greased cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is glossy, firm and golden, and a toothpick/knife inserted comes out clean.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack, then let it cool completely before frosting.

* the original recipe called for butter, and you would probably get spectacular results with Earth Balance, I just didn’t have enough this time.  Follow the recipe the same, but cream the margarine with the sugar with an electric mixer until it’s really white and fluffy, before adding the other liquid ingredients.


Wasabi Ginger Chocolate Mousse

(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World)

12 oz. package of medium firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup soy milk

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

1 tbsp wasabi paste (or more ;)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ginger powder

8 oz. chocolate chips (or higher quality chocolate if you’d like)

pinch of salt

– Bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently add your tofu, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes.  Drain carefully and let it cool.

– Once cooled, put the tofu, syrup, wasabi, vanilla and ginger in a blender and blend it until it’s completely smooth.

– Melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave then add it to the blender and whip everything together.  Add salt if you like salt (I do), then stash it in the fridge for at least an hour to become firm enough to work with.  Ice your cake!

Well, Liz has broken out the nerdy google-searched JPEGS of sci-fi references again – and that means of course that it’s time to go back in time!   Woooo-eeeee-oooooooooh.

Back to a time way yonder… the wee beginning of August when I was just as likely to accidentally eat a blob of quinacridone pink as I was to absent-mindedly get soy sauce on my paintings.  Ie; (in simple terms) I was busy!  Meals had to be almost cute in their ease of preparation, with the notable exception of some bento experiments, but I’ll get to those later on….
Avocado kinda saved my life, the patron saint of summer classes, I think.  And while these look humble, and I’m a pure sucker for anything wrapped in a warm corn tortilla (and I mean just about anything) – this was a good and special combo.  Guacamole, corn, & chicken-baked white beans, with big chunks of onion ’cause I roll like that but you could leave them off I’m sure.  Addictive but satisfying.

And then avocado with fritterFAIL (it’s now hash!)

Even better than the tacos?  It has sweet potato this time.

I got a huge bag of white pitas for free because there was a big nasty fly paper stuck to the side and the store couldn’t sell it, so I tasted white flatbread for the first time in forever.  Can I confess that it’s kind of particularly delicious?  At least if you haven’t had it in a while.  Way sweeter than whole wheat, and makes excellent sausage, pepper and onion pizzas.  With big chunks of onion.  Because I roll like that!

Believe it or not, dorayaki are a quick lunch, too!  You just have to really cheat with the anko paste.  And cheater anko paste can be way healthier, too, because you can pull the sugar WAY back.  Basically just mash up some hot cooked adzukis with just enough sugar to make them lip-smacking, and just enough salt to make them more-ish, then make two fairly rich pancakes to sandwich it with.  And put loads of vegetables on the side so you can pretend it’s a sort of balanced meal.  (which okay it probably is, just sucrose heavy.   MMMMMM sucrose.  MMMM dorayaki).

MMMMM CHOCOLATE PANCAKES DORAYAKI   

I am feeling the Japanese, can you tell?  This lunch took forever.  Like, all morning to make, no joke.  Worth it in every way, though!  My first onigiri, everybody, and let nobody tell you that it’s just rice in a ball shape, it is so much more than that.  Even if you’ve made them yourself, they still taste all full of the love it took to construct them (the reddened burned hands, the totally occupied stovetop, the swearing at nori seaweed as it refuses to cover them completely). 
The first day I made 3 –
1 triangle filled with avocado (yes again!), tiny cubed cucumber, wasabi, green onion and salt.
The 2nd triangle was filled with tiny cubes of braised sweet potato and shitake mushrooms done in kombu no tsukudani style except without sugar ’cause they’re sweet already.  (SO umami)
And the 3rd piece was mixed up with red beans, sesame seeds and umeboshi vinegar.   yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum !

(rounding out my oh-so stylish tupperware is some lightly steamed broccoli sprinkled with shoyu, an Nin Jiom herbal candy, a strawberry lollipop, and some yellow baby carrot pickles I made myself and have been eating like candy from the back of the fridge.).  
It was a terrible blustery sweater-weather day when I took this downtown to eat it before putting in a long night at the studio, but after I got my green tea and an interesting seat to watch people from, and I took the first bite of my first pointy rice-ball…. I couldn’t help but smile like a tyke.  Really!  It’s all worth the effort for that first nori-wrapped bite.

oh yeah, Mr. Wasp thinks rice balls are delicious too.  I have mixed feelings about this one.  Shooo off my meticulous lunch there, little guy, sheesh!

Back on the fast track – the quickest cookies to make are shortbreads, of course.  And an herbal-loving friend had a recent crisis requiring me to spend at least a bit of time baking.  Basic basic shortbread, but with rose oil and black tea leaves.  The tea didn’t impart any flavour I don’t think, but it added a really pleasant crispy texture!

And finally, my favourite – muffins!  Featuring (do you see this coming?)…. avocado!  Yep, avocado replacing almost all the oil, date syrup replacing all the sugar, 50/50 whole wheat & oat flour, with orange juice, cloves, and a scattering of chocolate chips to seal up the deal.  100% eyeballed recipe, but it’s really hard to screw up a muffin, which is why I secretly adore them more than cake maybe.   These ones were surprisingly decadent with their buttery nuggets of green dotted throughout.  Totally a win.

And then I finished my last studio class ever!  Hurray!  
No more turpentine, no more (mounting) hooks, no more security guards’ dirty looks, la la la la la  :)
(the laboratory mid-zebrification)
Step 1:  Get enthralled by this and this and this and this and this and this!  
I *had* to make it.  Not only was it zoologically named but it meant I could hide a secret surprise under the frosting (always good).  And given that I had an mocha-loving friend who very very kindly drove these paintings home from the studio for me through notoriously terrible montreal traffic, I knew it was the ripe time to start dolloping.  CHerry ripe time!  haha, okay I shut up now.
I started from the recipe at Caffeine Heartbeats, but added instant coffee to the mocha side and almond to the vanilla for extra je ne sais quoi, and a bit less vinegar for less risk of crumbling.  (Oh, and no orange, just vanilla this time).  And I had to tweak the viscosity on both ends with a bit of flour and water respectively, but not too much and then I could dollop away.  3 tbsps of each batter, thin little lines, up and up and up until….

Step 2: Bake it up in the oven for about 45-50 minutes and go ooooooooooooh zeh-braw…
Step 3: Flip it over to cool and notice another heart-shaped thing in your food, like they’re conspiring to surround you or something.  My word!

Step 4: Acknowledge the fact that it’s a sweltering August evening but ignore good reasoning and ice it super-generously in mounding swirls of fluffiffffy cherry frosting buttercream anyway.  (be so very happy you did that as you’re eating the veritable angel crack later on, a little bit melty regardless.)

Step 5: Keep it in the fridge as best as possible in this heat, then break it out and serve in big cool stylish overly delicious wedges.  One of the best I’ve ever made, and I mean that flavour-wise, too!  I was pretty glad to come by said friend’s house later the next day to help her eat it for breakfast, like that was such a painful thing to do (it wasn’t). 

Meanwhile, I’ve spent a few days picking apples at an orchard, so I’ll have some posting about that pretty soon, I think!

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