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It was an unexpected surprise, to hear my mom suggest driving up for the weekend along with my sister, carrying pantry reinforcements of cocoa powder, vanilla extract, organic beer, sprinkles, and BC golden syrup!  Easter obviously isn’t an epic day on my calendar, but it is gorgeous to celebrate anything with family, and so I made a ton of fresh summer rolls with two kinds of dipping sauce to remedy whatever fast food travesty they’d had to eat on the drive to my place.  Which totally worked!  And I made lime & poppyseed cupcakes, filled and topped with mango compote and swirled with vanilla frosting, and star sprinkles on top, because hey, it’s the time of year for excess sugar and pastel colours, I think.  So yummy!  I think they’re actually improving with age, too, flavours melding… I had one for breakfast today, shhhh! :D
We also hit that store with the crazy sales, whereupon we filled our recyclable plastic bags full of fresh udon packets and coconut cream powder and nori seaweed AND these beautiful little herbal tangerine candies I found.  All for a dollar!  I like the tin especially.
Brunch at Aux Vivres, which makes maybe only my third time there, ever.  The hot spot vegan spot of hot vegan dining, and I’ve barely gone —  I know!  Anyway, I got to see their take on a vegan brunch plate, which my sister ordered, piled high with melt-in-your-mouth tofu scramble (they use medium firm and load it with nooch), maple-y tempeh bacon strips, sweet potato fries, an excellent salad with dressing I forgot to identify, and cornbread with jalapeno in it.  Yum!  Not to mention pretty as a painting if anyone ever wanted their breakfast to cheer them up with sheer resemblance to flowers alone.

Mom ordered the chickpea masala on fresh chapati with apple chutney inside – this one I’ve had before and it is sweet slurpy savoury delicious, as well as MORE than enough food for two people, with a salad alongside.  If you’re ever so devoid of protein that only a total refuel will do, order this thing and you’ll be set like superman!

And I?  I was the lucky one.  At the bottom of the menu I spotted a new item, something special… a Montreal smoked meat seitan sandwich, piled all high up with mustard, mayo, pickles and creamy coleslaw on the side… OMG.  It was *crazily* like the roast beef sandwiches I used to eat sometimes, *utterly* delicious, *such* a treat.  The bread was soft and awesome, too.  I think the neatest thing was pulling the second half out of the fridge the next day and almost feeling like I was in my teens again, just eating any old thing I found around. :p

Witness the lovvvvve!!!  They done seitan right, they did…. really soft and spiced perfectly.

cake!  only slightly dented after a trip in a to-go tray 
And!  Should I mention some huge news?  If anyone remembers my old roommate and vegan chef extraordinaire P, well… she’s moved back to the city and become… the primary baker at Aux Vivres!  The whole pastry counter – that’s her!  So I had to sample a massive decadent slice of chocolate apple cake.  Don’t let the apple thing steer you wrong on this cake, either, it is dense and rich and iced with an epic ganache, studded with just enough apple to make the flavour nuanced, with a raspberry sauce served on the side… you should go for this.  Or for any of the desserts!  I am certainly going back to sample other things, I consider it my duty as a friend.   To eat… sugar and chocolate.  My duty!!  As a friend!!  WEll, it is.  :D

I’m a huge advocate of switching around protein in any given recipe. As (I believe) most Canadians can tell you, tempeh is a little bit dear up here in the north, so I almost always substitute tofu and that usually works just fine. A little less… fermenty, but more sproingy*. In this case of the VwaV Sausage Crumbles I think it may have needed that extra bit of tempeh pungency, but anyway it was nice in a pita for lunch. Fennel is win, all the time.

(*look up “sproingy” in the dictionary and I guarantee there will be a nice block of tofu pictured there!)

Second favorite is for sure chickpeas, and I’ve even started to eat them out of cans, I love them so much. I should probably start soaking some now, actually… anyway, I was sick and in dire need of vegetables and honest food, and Dreena’s Sweet Potato, Tomato & Chickpea Curry (real name?) was soooo tailor-made for the job. I added a dried chili for heat, replaced the zucchini with loads of kale, and sopped it up with some only slightly burnt brown rice. (my nose wasn’t working very well and anyway, I like it crunchy! :P). I actually felt at least 63% healthier after eating this.

Leftover rice became little baked rice balls, from Extraveganza. They have tahini, ground almonds and dill, and I messed up by stirring the almonds right in instead of coating the balls, but fixed that with bread crumbs. Mmmm delicious breadcrumbs…

I had a hard time keeping these shaped – the mixture was very very sticky and err… ricey, but the flavour was really nice, and went super well with Tangerine Chipotle-Basil Hummus (my own special favorite concoction these days, and inspired by Mel, for sure).

I promised sweet, aaaand —- here’s the white flour I bought! Say “Hi,” White Flour! (“Hi White Flour”). SO YUMMY. Dreena is cookie queen, they always come out with that great chewy bakery texture, and Anise Almond 5-Spice really *was* a nice break from chocolate, which was her selling point in the book. I think she needs to write a cookie book, because they’re not giant fussy affairs to make, usually healthier than most, and always taste like something a bit more special than a mound of sugary dough. Mmm, I wish I had another one right now…

There is nothing quite like chili fries. I wish I’d had some sort of cheese-like stuff to melt all over this and really do up the indulgence (not that this is really that indulgent, actually semi-healthy), but an extra splash of olive oil while making the fries pushed this to another level anyway. Plus lots of nooch and peppers for a perfect after school nosh.
(is this the reincarnation of a half-filled tin of tomato sauce sitting in my fridge? I say nothing.

Okay yes, it is. :D)

I *heart* V-con sooo much. I’ve made the saffron garlic rice before, it’s my favourite (especially when you brown the bottom just a bit to get the most tantalizing crispy garlic-y crust… *droooools*), and the chickpeas romesco might be the best pantry-staple thing I’ve ever made. SO good. And even better about both these Spanish-y dishes is that they’re free of lemon and sherry vinegar so I can go to town on the side vegetables and the whole plate tastes amazing.

Now I kinda want creamy tomato soup. Go figure. :P

A post-holiday fridge is usually a riot of leftovers, and this thanksgiving was no exception, and yet — what do I have left here? Hmm… chickpeas, loads of peppers that are going wrinkly, red wine, a bag full of cut onions, mushrooms, and 1/2 eggplant. Shazam, that means ratatouille! Regardless of the amount of wild rice stuffing there is still left to eat. I’m firing up the oven now!

So I roasted the whole deal with a head of garlic and added a whole bunch of thyme, rosemary, basil and tarragon, some tomatoes, stirred stirred and THEN – oh my, like magic, it was wine-y and oven-roasted sweet and slurpily good. Go french stews. I’ll be having these leftovers over hoecakes for lunch today!

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