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I imagine most people out there have a ever-growing mental list of recipes to try someday.  I used to bookmark every delicious thing that crossed my path while I read blogs, the collection getting to the hundreds and only barely did I look at it when it came time to actually satisfy hunger.  After a recent browser crash and wipe of everything I’d saved, I decided to keep the ideas in my head, with the reasoning that it’s those things that I really wanted to eat anyway!  So right now, that list involves things like homemade bagels, tibetan yak dumplings, mole sauce, and anything ethiopian… and until very recently – anything with phyllo pastry!  I finally tried using it, not without trepidation, in a recipe I’ve been itching to make since the moment I saw it (and did not forget it) – Jenny Wren’s fennel corn phyllo pockets of awesome!  (name-change mine)  

It took me a couple tries to get the hang of it, I will not lie.  But by the end I was folding up neat little dignified triangles with the best of them!  I ate the wonky first ones for lunch today with a tomato compote from the Artful Vegan, and felt pretty durn special, I can say that.  I’m pretty much on vacation for one whole week (wow) before I start summer classes again, so I’m up for any opportunity to get all indulgent in simple things, like tuesday’s mid-day meal.  Not that I wouldn’t anyway, but I broke out the giant white restaurant plate for this one. 

Hmm… and could not possibly resist making an apple-blackberry tart with local yellow delicious apples and BC golden syrup, nooooo…. not while the phyllo is just sitting there all defrosted and feathery and waiting for my apple-craving fingers to mash it into a crispy sugared square of fantastic with toasted walnuts on the bottom even !  It had to happen.  You know it did.  I’m glad it did.  I would have given my eye-teeth for ice cream or even soy milk alongside of this, but regardless it was light and perfect.  

Oh yeah – does anyone have experience with either/both of The Artful Vegan and Millenium cookbooks?  I’d like to get one, I think, but I’m not sure which!  
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In honour of all the genetically designed dogs out there, and mostly because I wanted to bake with cranberries, I present my entry for Urban Vegan’s designer muffin challenge — Chocolate Cranberry Kamutflake Muffins! With a hint of orange and cinnamon for the season, and a bit of delicate crunch from the flakes, I do think I’ve done okay here… I draw the line at encouraging vanity pets – but I couldn’t resist throwing some of my own namesake kamut into a baked good for the fun of it. So good!

Kamut’s Chocolate Cranberry Kamutflake Muffins (makes 6)

1/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup rolled kamutflakes
2 tbsp margarine
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar (I might use 1/4 cup next time)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange extract or 1 tsp orange zest (optional)
2 tbsp silken tofu
2 tbsp soymilk
1 cup cranberries
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate bar pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 6-hole muffin pan (and I actually recommend using liners for these guys, which I didn’t do this time, but will next time).
2. Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the kamutflakes and give it a stir.
3. Cream together the margarine, applesauce and sugar until smooth. Add the extracts, tofu and soymilk, then pour all the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or so (I’m actually not 100% on the time, and my oven is weird), or until the middles are firm when pressed and the tops are golden brown. Pop out when they’re cool and enjoy!

I kinda wanna dive in that cranberry right there. :D

So it’s been 10 days, and I was all going to post this picture and be like, “well, dinners like this are pretty much the reason I haven’t had anything blogworthy to mention all week. Simple and summery and involving a lot of corn, nothing terribly new.” But then I realized I was sitting on a whole bunch of pretty photos! (It’s funny, I also swear I’ve been living off of miso soup, but it’s so perfect for end-of-term eating – quick and cheap and energy-giving for late-night drawing sessions).

Okay, okay… so at the beginning of last week I thought I’d recreate that magically fermenting sesame slaw I made before, to much success. And I managed to get a photo of it before all the colours bled and muted out, too! (and like my new bowls? I so do!)

They also came with an awesome rectangle plate that I fell in LURVE with and had to buy (so frivolous, and SO matching my grey spiral plate, it had to be done! :P)

And Pomme surprised me with freaking spring rolls! It was in thanks for her birthday dinner, and they’re pretty much my favourite food ever, I ated so many of these it’s a wonder I didn’t roll around myself afterwards, but they were sooooo good, with mango and red pepper inside and peanut dipping sauce, egads. I even bought a thing of brown rice vermicelli to make them even healthier the next time I make them (and thus even more like a perfect food).

I love summer and farmers’ markets! A big basket of random sumptuous berry-things! Plus ground cherries, teeny grapes, figs, flowers and tart little red dots-on-the-vine, all for $5. I made the oatmeal of kings from this basket.

I also made pretty awesome vanilla-vanilla cupcakes for my drawing group, ’cause waking up early on saturday to go downtown and muck around with pencils is just that much more enjoyable with frosting. :)

I love how R on the left spontaneously drew a garden, with a mole in it and everything, and a Mr. Potato head! He couldn’t remember what radish leaves looked like, and I so knew exactly, having just eaten a salad of them the night before… so houray for the new kids knowing about their foodstuffs (there were discussions on the relative frumpiness of potato leaves and how appropriate that is to their taste, hehe).

And uh… I ran out of li hing mui yesterday, so I went to chinatown and picked some up for 85 cents….. and then totally couldn’t resist buying a wack more goodies, cause that place is pretty much like my idea of culinary disneyland. This was all under $20, too! Clockwise from the left is some wakame, black rice, abalone flavoured wheat gluten in a can (can’t wait to try that one!), yuba/dried tofu skin, cornstarch, brown rice vermicelli, regular rice vermicelli, mangoes, a mysterious package of some sort of pickled vegetable for 10 cents, wonton wrappers, assorted sesame/peanut/cashew brittles, sweet pickled radish, really cheap tofu, bean sprouts, and (of course!) the li hing mui that started this whole debacle.

I had to HAD TO experiment with that yuba, so stir fry it was, and WOW is all I can say – I love this stuff! It’s so chewy and soaks up sauce like a chewy soyfood of long-pantry life and pure awesome! And for the record… pickled turnips are delicious but pretty much 92% salt, so serve with caution (or at least a lot of water).

And is this related? Oh, I dunno. Girls and bugs living in symbiotic vegan harmony sounds okay to mention! And plus one-shot zines are super cute and everyone should try their hand at making one, be it full of manifestos, sketches, goth poetry, bread recipes, or like… everything in your apartment listed alphabetically.

That, plus walking around across the city and back all day today made me totally and completely go into SANDWICH MODE. Gallery-hopping is fun but hunger-inducing, and I even took some extra detours to get the perfect soft baguette-bread to make the Vcon cornmeal-crusted tofu Po’boy and it was SO worth it. What a perfect damn sandwich, I mean seriously. Dude. DUUUUUUDE. Anything involving chipotle mayo has to be good, but this was a major synthesis of happy components making perfect lunch science in my mouth. Making this again! With even more mayo! Bwahahahahaha. So evil, yet so delicious…

I also hope next week is similarly uneventful so I’ll have nothing to post about again.
/sarcasm.

I’m thinking of making bread with sprouted wheat berries soon!

Just a quick update, a couple photos that have been on the computer for a few days…

In retrospect I think this was turnip, but the mashed rutabaga recipe from Vcon was nonetheless amazing, especially with corn (lime, coconut + corn? yes!)

And I’m really not exaggerating when I say this is my favourite tofu marinade yet – it’s a Swell Vegan tester recipe for maple-mustard-chili tofu, and it’s awesome. The salad paled in comparison, and the second half of the batch got eaten straight up, with glee, much like a plate of chicken nuggets of yore or something. Total make-again recipe!

And more pizza! I’m pizza-obsessed! J says I’m also crust-bubble obsessed, but he’s quite allowed to say that because… I am. This is only my favourite crust-bubble, and there were many, each with a photo… I am a nerd. :D

And J is still staying with us, and my new roommate is a kitchen-goddess in her own right and works at the best vegan restaurant in the city, so we’ve been collaborating on dinners! Her own component of a brown rice macro bowl was so delicious there wasn’t a speck of leftovers to take a photo of the next day (imagine perfectly cooked rice, confetti-bright vegetables and toasted sesames everywhere), but there was a little bit of my curry around for lunch the next day, so here it is. Aloo paratha, gajar salad, lentil sprouts and a really nice katirikka rasavangi (south indian eggplant curry). I think I might explore this south indian thing a bit more, I’m adoring the heat and the coconut.

And woo! Blackberry-lemon verbena sorbet success! I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I had to nurse this stuff over the course of a few days, stirring it constantly and waiting for my wonky freezer to make it scoopable (I also had to add a bunch of water to help with the freezing, but I was really happy to do that, it was a little sweet in the beginning). Anyway, I’m totally hooked on this sorbet thing! It’s so refreshing, and the herbal bit was transcendant. I’m thinking of trying vegan addict’s Black Hole Sorbet next – it looks sooo decadent. yum!

The good news is, the cherries dried perfectly, and they’re ready to turn into cake flowers and scone fillings and oatmeal mix-ins, yum!

There’s bad news, though. See… I think I have two enemies in the kitchen. Or at least, two things are making themselves apparent as factors I need to watch out for. The first of these is vegetable stock cubes/overly salty broth, which just seems to stomp all over any delicate flavour in it’s path (I sincerely don’t know why I even have that box in my cupboard!!). And the second is impatience.

Two cases in point: I come home last night to see my innocent little crock of very recently born sourdough starter just LAVA-ing all over the top of the coffee maker. How very exciting, I figured – it was ready! At the very least it was about 3 times the size it used to be and smelling really nice and making a respectable yeasty mess of my kitchen, so I threw together a sponge for rye bread and went to bed. Then this morning I made the rye bread, which rose not at all and came out of the oven as dense as a log (despite smelling great). Completely inedible. I had a piece and I felt like I ate a rock! I hate wasting food so I’m going to have a supply of caraway breadcrumbs pretty soon, but I’ve never had bread turn out so badly! *sniff*

(note to self: sourdough starter is ready when a white foam shows up. no sooner, silly girl!)

My other enemy, salty broth, reared it’s ugly head for what I thought would be a lovely counterpart to fresh caraway-rye bread – the Tomato Dill Lentil soup from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. First off I threw in more broth than the recipe called for, to use it up. Then I had to substitute a bunch of stuff – dried dill for the dill seeds, brown sugar for molasses, dijon mustard for mustard powder, etc – and maybe after all that I was silly to expect perfection, but it came out really heavy. I had to water it down a TON, and the flavour was good, it just didn’t have a fresh tomato and dill kind of thing going on, so that was sad.

On the plus side, I made fajita-y type things the other night with refrieds, peppers, onions and sour tofu cream that were really excellent, and I’m closing with that so I don’t feel like a total complain-y susan. Yay mexican! At least I know there’s no such thing as too much hot sauce. :D

So I haven’t been cooking a lot this week, which is definitely a good thing. Sometimes I buy so much food it’s ridiculous, and my freezer is about the size of a shoebox – fills up fast! So I’ve been eating leftovers and tomato soup, mostly (btw, adding dried onion/garlic, vegetables and leftover beans to tinned tomato soup has got to be the best most easiest cold-weather supper ever). Didn’t stop me from making cookies, though! Officially my first batch of cookies from Vegan With a Vengeance, it’s the chocolate thumbprints! SO incredibly good, like little brownie fudgebombs, zomg. The batter was insane gooey so I had to add more flour, but it’s pretty wet around here and the end result turned out great anyway. I didn’t have raspberry or apricot jam, but I did have sour cherry preserves that my mom canned while she lived in Kelowna and the combination is wonderful – a little tart button of juiciness in the centre, so perfect. I gave most of them away, but now I kind of want to make another batch for ME, haha.

And I’ve been waiting – just waiting – for the second I had french bread in the house to make the fronch toast. (okay, so it was actually panini-bread, but vutever, it works!). It was a little chewy the first time, I definitely overtoasted the bread, but it was still a total revolution to taste my FAVOURITE breakfast ever, after years of not having it. Whenever I went out for breakfast as a kid I would always get french toast – big fat icing-sugared slabs (usually more than I could handle), covered in strawberry sauce and whipped cream… so eating this is like being an eight-year-old in a hotel breakfast nook alllll over again. tres nostalgique!

It was so good in fact, that I had to make it again (this time without toasting the bread and letting it soak more in the milky batter). Beautifully crispy-tendersoft toast! I could eat this forever and ever and ever….. and can you believe I found pretty much a bucket of cherries for a dollar? So not in season or anything, but tasty nonetheless.

I also added a splash of vanilla and a dash of salt and cinnamon to the batter, and I’m already thinking of wackier versions (chocolate? herb & garlic? curried? hee hee). I mean, it’s just battered toast, right? What more could you ask for in a meal-base? Mousse on top! :OOOO

Yeah, I’ll have the weirdest hotel in the world someday. :D

(coming up: experiments with drying cherries in incredibly humid weather, ooh!)

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