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Guess what came in the mail todaaaaayyyyy!

Thusly, a half hour later, my very own, first ever NYC black and whites, with extra lime zest, making me feel better about having no vegan bakery in this city.  Something to remedy someday, but for to-day… I couldn’t be happier!  I’d seriously run out of cookie recipes in the books I had already, which you might believe at the rate that I make them, and that was stumping me all over the place.  
I’m thinking PB blondies and Irish Whiskey Cremes next.  Somebody hide the sugar from me!
Super Closeup Time ::: one of my favourite buttons, it says Fruit Spirit, kawaii kawaii.  :O

Oh, I am so procrastinating right now.  And isn’t that *totally* the best time to blog, when it feels like a sneaky indulgent privilege to be able to write about all this stuff?  Hurray!  Southeast asian art, Foucault, and russian neoromantics be damned, all of them (at least for the time it takes me to write this, and then it’s back to dandelion tea and the books.  which isn’t so bad, nah….)
I didn’t plan the colour scheme at all, but there it is.  Orange is a lovely colour to eat, cheery and usually sweet.  I may have mentioned the acquisition of my very first copy of Vegetarian Times in a past post – well, I made more than donuts.  The edamame and sweet potato collard wraps jumped WAY out at me when I saw them, basically ’cause I don’t think I’d ever put those ingredients together in quite that way before.  There’s even firm-soft tofu in here, and the only spice is cayenne.  In the end… they were good.  I enjoyed them a lot.  There was something odd about the texture I wondered about, but I think I was just getting used to edamame, which are way richer than frozen peas.  (I was an edamame virgin before this recipe you see – another reason to try them out!).  Ultimately I recommend it, although I liked the filling best of all over crunchy romaine leaves for added texture.  It froze really well, too.
Then I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recent cornbread salad and deeply swooned over the concept of it all.  I think I saw it early in the afternoon and was eating it a few hours later for dinner, I was so jazzed about the thought.  So amazing this was!!  The tangy dressing soaks into some of the cornbread bites to make UbertasterBomsOfWow, and the rest stay crunchy and toasty and awesomely contrasty.  
Can we pause a moment to lament the atrocious photograph that I took of this salad?  
** moment of silence , snicker snicker **
delicious though.

I am a bit of urban harvester.  Just a bit, just here and there.  Kind of like Benjamin Bunny, and I spotted a green tomato peaking out from a trendy bar’s front garden one Friday night while I was walking home and slightly drunk and I didn’t figure it so bad to pop it off and dream of frying it up for dinner.  I see it as being a natural part of the city’s ecology, you know.  And I plant things around.  Anyway, I fried it southern style and it was delicious!  Tangy and juicy and zestier than a red one.  Really good with egg salad beside it, too (ppk recipe, of course.  probably with extra mustard, if I was being myself that day).

Also from the Isa salad files, a very loose translation of the Prospect Park potato salad from the Vcon.  Loose, as in I had about 10 baby red potatoes and no desire to do any specific divisions of a recipe, so I just looked at the ingredients list and threw all of those things into the same bowl until it tasted good.  It tasted good!

These tasted okay.  I mean, the chocolate filling was the most intensely luscious sticky fudge sauce in the whole world and I was scraping it out of the pot like crazy to get the last smidge – THAT was amazing.  The cookies were only mehn, though.  Not so surprisingly, since they’re just really fatty shortbreads that I didn’t veganize well enough I guess, but anyway – Gale Gand’s Orange Sandwich Cookies from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs if anyone’s curious.  (Make that filling sauce, omg.).  And they sure are pretty looking.

And I tried to recreate one of the super hippy chunky crunchy veggie restaurant style cookie recipes.  You know the ones that are full of flax oil and/or spelt chunks and/or seeds and yet somehow are just incredible?  I kind of succeeded, kind of… okay, not really.  But I learned a lot about baking soda versus powder, and I have the beginnings of a fantastic sesame seed crust in my freezer right now… ha.   If anyone knows of a recipe that makes a big crunchy, browned around the edges cookie that tastes like a cross between a sesame snap and and oatmeal chocolate chip, do DO let me know.  I’ll send Peppermint Ritter Sports, I promise.  :P

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.

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  :)


I’m almost done my raw week.  It’s been easy in a lot of ways (the food is just as delicious as any “normal” food), and in other ways a bit of a challenge (detox symptoms, having to throw out lots of food that spoiled unexpectedly fast, the whole nut soaking thing, the whole raw food extremism thing)…

It’s actually going to be bittersweet easing back into regular food, I think.  I don’t feel any huge inclination towards it at the moment, even though I know that someone as flighty and spacey as me really does flourish better on the standard vegan fare.  But that said… I should get onto the food of this week, more or less a meal by meal replay of all the lego-bright dishes I got to have the time of my life constructing.

Okay, so this is technically a pre-raw warm-up (haha, warm up, is that a pun?).  I made a carrot/tomato/miso soup to see how I’d feel about it all, thick with pumpkin seeds and bowl-licking good, and so….
I jumped in headfirst.  Would you look at that?  It looks like a deep-sea fish it’s so pretty.  A lot of green, but worth it.  The sprouted chickpea hummous in those wraps kept me going for snack times for the first few days, and the minty cucumber dressing from Vegan World Fusion doubled as a salad topper and a soup, before spoiling way too fast as these enzymic dishes are wont to do.  Alas, alas!
Avocado was also a life-saver, as I never felt warmer or more satisfied than after a meal that incorporated it.  I mashed this one up with rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger, and made showy crunchy (astoundingly good) sushi rolls.  And a fruit salad with loquat and date syrup beside it.
Breakfast of day 2: the incarnation of my oatmeal habit!
Raw oats ground up in a spice grinder, with a heavy pinch of ground flaxseed, half a mashed banana, berries and lots of salt and cinnamon, left to soak overnight.  I’m keeping this one!  I’d been getting tired of regular oatmeal and this is perfect for summer and very laid back.  You have to choose fairly soft fruit for best results, but again – peaches, berries, tropical things – all available right now!  It’s very nutty and satisfying to have for breakfast.
Lunch day 2: Zucchini bites with spicy hummous, a salad of shredded carrot, red pepper, soaked walnuts and red wine vinegar (yum!!), and broccoli tossed with cucumber dressing.
Dinner that night was my first green smoothie.  I will admit I thought it the concept very strange at first, at least before I took my first sip.  Is it totally an unabashedly weird that I love the taste of green things in my smoothie now?  It adds a neat texture and a resonant kind of garden note that makes it more of a meal to me.  Especially wonderful with banana and pomegranate juice, I might add.
I’m skipping breakfast reports because they’re all variations on the raw oat groat thing, but…
Lunch day 3: A curried miso carrot dressing on spinach with avocado chunks and dried pineapple pieces – ZOMG.  Genius.  And some cucumber dressing in a bowl trying to be soup as I attempt to slurp it all up before it goes bad.  
Dinner 3: My attempt at flatbread without a dehydrator resulted in (of course) a lot of prematurely fuzzy food, but there was a small grace period where it was semi-firm enough to eat as bread and I made little sandwiches with homemade sumac tahini cheese, and some green beans tossed with organic stone-ground mustard and lemon.
Dinner day 4: pizza!
(lunch seems to be missing from the record)
The pizza is topped with sage-y sundried tomato marinara, green pepper, onions, pineapple, almond cheese, and artichoke hearts.
Lunch day 5: Possibly in the top 5 sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, is this Haiku Wrap from Juliano’s contribution to The Complete Book of Raw Food.  It has avocado mashed with garlic, ginger and lemon topped with wakame, mustard, pickle, burdock, bell pepper, onion, corn and shoyu – and it’s a magical, magical combination.  (carrot slaw with sprouted peanuts keeping the sammiches upright on either side).
Dinner 5: Another one of those raw standbys I never understood (like the green smoothie), was the zucchini pasta thing, but you know what?  It’s pasta-like, and not salad-like as I thought it would be!  Really good, actually, enough to repeat it later.  And the things that look like eggs are crunchy turnip slices topped with nut cheese.
Lunch 6: Cabbage burrito-wraps with cumin and chili sunflower pate inside (along with corn and tomatoes and green onions and things).  With a side of Pringle lookalikes (but really it’s delicious turnip) and nut cheese again for my new favourite take on nachos.  Soaking the slices in cold water gives them the perfect chip shape and makes them sweeter, too!
And that’s not to say there were no sweets!  I made some tahini-geranium cookies, that I could upload but they look pretty much like little brown discs.  The brownies are gorgeous, though!  I ground up some sprouted and dried buckwheat into flour and combined it with dates, ground almonds, walnuts, carob powder, salt and vanilla and proceeded to nom NOM NOM them up because they were so amazing!!  I highly recommend the buckwheat flour thing, I have a container of the sprouts in my freezer right now and it gives things a more cake-like texture than the usual wodgy raw dessert texture.
And here’s a plate full of desserts I took to a raw potluck last night.  Clockwise from the top left are salty sunflower seed cookies, then those buckwheat brownies with a banana-fudge frosting, then coconut-cashew-agave crusted pear tarts with gojis on top, and finally like orange & clove oatmeal raisin cookies!  So much fun, and so easy to just make a few servings of anything, and experiment all over the place!  I definitely got into the habit of whizzing up just a single cookie for after lunch sometimes when I needed something for my sweet tooth.
Potluck food itself was possibly the BEST vegan thing any non-vegan has ever made for when I came to dinner.  It was a sundried tomato-cashew romesco sauce over marinated eggplant and it was mindblowingly good.  I think it was from a book by the same people who did Raw Food/Real World, if you wanted to try it, and you might want to add extra orange juice like my friend did and eat every indulgence-soaked aubergine triangle with additional gusto for having done so.  :)
Day 7….
….   it’s day 7?  It’s the end of the week?
Do you realize I didn’t realize that until about halfway through writing this post and counting up the dates?  Oh my goodness, I suppose that means I’m done and I should ground myself now.  Part of me wants to keep going, and in fact… *goes off to buy bananas for a few minutes*
* a few minutes later *
Well… on the way down the stairs to the market, oh what do I smell but buttery wafts of rice and faint hints of curry? and whoa-p, there goes MY 100% raw convinction!  That, and charred hot dogs on the street as I walked… and I’d like to feel like myself again, I think. :D
A few things I noticed, though, to sum up the week…
* it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive at all to eat raw.  I stuck mostly to almonds and sunflower seeds for nut protein, which can be relatively cheap.  And I didn’t indulge in the condiments like nama shoyu and special apple cider vinegar or anything.  If anything it might have been cheaper due to me not buying coffee all the time.  OH YEAH I QUIT COFFEE FOR A WEEK.  !  Craziness.
* nut soaking liquid is super mucilagous and gross, and I’ll probably soak most things now if I think of it beforehand.
* white wine was okay to drink, as was whiskey (although I’m pretty used to whiskey).  Red wine on the other hand, made me terribly achey for a whole day after drinking it, and then the ache turned into a kinda “detox ache” that I’ve still got in my calves when I bend over too far.  
* a couple drying racks set in front of a sunny window was my dehydrator, and it worked pretty well for cookies and buckwheat sprouts.  Terrible for bread though, and I wouldn’t even try crackers.  Oh yeah, and sun tea!  Tasty stuff!  And not even that long to make, maybe a few hours in the sun for amber-steeped liquid.
* I caved once, for a bunch of artichokes I got for free, but wouldn’t you?  All succulent and dipped in lime & olive oil???  I’d never tried artichokes before and it was my chance right there, so I don’t feel bad.  And they are, by the way, not nearly as hard to make and eat as advertised and mysteriously sweet and I ate the stems too, YUM.
* Guess that’s it!  And I’m so making pizza, man, like, soon.

I’ve been raw for 5 days now!!  I’ll save writing about that for the next post, but in the meantime here’s a whole bunch of photos from the past few weeks I never got around to posting but are kinda making me hungry right now…

Allright, we’ve got up there… chili cashew dosas (my favourite recipe so far from Vegan Brunch), with a notably amazing chutney I made from the back of Indian Cookery, ie: this book ——>
Which is basically my favourite indian cookbook ever, even for the chutney chapter alone, which covers pretty much anything you’d want to stew and preserve in a super authentic, full of interesting tidbits kind of way.  Like, that peach chutney I ate with the dosas had paprika, poppy seeds, cloves, green chiles and cashews, oh my!  Totally easy to make, too.

Another perk of making chutney is that you get to re-use little jars and give them away after they’ve sat for a month on the shelf looking very pretty.  On the right is the peach, and in the middle is a pineapple chutney with about a ton of ginger and garlic in it, yay!
Okay, what else – this was astoundingly good.  It looks kind of grey, I’ll admit, but so so so good.  Velvety corn creamy chinese wedding soup, or something like that, with bits of savoury tofu floating in it and fresh peas.  It’s Bryanna’s recipe, and incidentally my introduction to creamed corn (I’m a fan, it turns out).
Oh, and Singapore green beans from Tropical Vegan Kitchen in the background.  Once that stuff marinates it’s addictive!
East Coast Coffeecake for an omni BBQ!  Plus adorable sign. :)
I loved how I could even make this in my dad’s kitchen – it’s the sign of a perfectly adaptable baked good.  (flour, sugar, oil, check!)
My favourite PB cookies ever, are the Crispy PB Cookies from Extraveganza with the cereal flakes inside.  They crackle like pop rocks and have that perfect dense chew, and are so easy to make.  I usually quarter the recipe and make them into the size of quarters, and have them as little pick me ups throughout the day.
Polenta Rancheros from V.Brunch, with noticeable flecks of toasted coriander that perfume the whole thing, it’s really nice, especially when made with fresh tomatoes cause that’s all I had.  Surprisingly light for a bean dish!
White bean, mango and rosemary tacos!!!  My surprising invention that worked, plus some leftover Tempeh Wingz made with tofu, cold and chewy out of the fridge.  (That red sauce is illegally finger-licking…. wow.)
Fresh organic vegetable pasta spirals with a sauce made from tomatoes, raisin-sage sausages, capers, zucchini & basil, NOM.
 

Banana Rabanada!!!  Not only is this delicious but no refined sugar, either, so it’s perfectly viable to eat for lunch!  Isa was spot on about the syrup & cinnamon-mopping, too.

(Heart-shaped) Fudge-pops from How It All Vegan, since I found my ancient copy in my mom’s garage a few months ago and figured I’d give it a whirl again.  These were sooooo good, and almost exactly like fudgesicles, which is no mean feat!

Sausage and eggplant quiche from V.Brunch with a homemade crust I put too much EB in but was still okay.   And I think that’s about it for cooked stuff!  Phew, sorry for the cursory writing about it all, too.  Somehow I think the pictures speak loud enough that it’s okay I don’t remember the details, plus this raw food thing is making me spacey… zomg.  It’s great, but I’ll be glad to bring it down to maybe 60% raw after the next few days.  Can’t wait to show you what that’s been like, though! 

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…

Happy Chinese new year everyone! For once I actually got to celebrate it, in a way – and on the correct day as well! At least, this was my lunch on the 26th. What tickles me more than anything is that I was able to make vegan tofu potstickers with an empty fridge boasting only carrots, cabbage and tofu. Because that’s all you really need! Admittedly they were wanting for some sprightly green onion inside, but otherwise they were purrrrrrfect. Chewy gyoza can be for lunch anytime it wants at my house. Oh, and the star of the meal was actually the Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce from Vegan Fire & Spice. Two minutes to make and so flavourful!

As for the year of the Ox:

“This year will no doubt bear fruit, but the motto is: “No work, no pay!” Time waits for no man; if we are too lazy to sow then we can blame no one if we have nothing to reap. We will find a great many things requiring our attention, and the list of what needs to be done will seem endless. The Spartan influence of the Ox will be a constantly cracking whip over our heads. Better to apply oneself diligently than waste time arguing with the authorities. They will prevail, as the year of the Ox favors discipline.”
Feng Shui index

You know what? I can get behind that. I’ve been drawing temples and mandalas lately and I will be completely honest – it is tedious as all get-out. But I really do feel it will pay off later on. And I don’t mind working hard in other areas of life too right now, perhaps with no evident reward. It’s almost… liberating. I forget myself a bit.

But that’s enough about life! Onto the good stuff, the foodstuff! ———–>

Okay, so I couldn’t even believe I was eating this soup while I was eating it. It was lavender, and it tasted cheesy. I mean, it was magical princess soup or something. I’d made the cauliflower bisque from Vegan World Fusion before (it is SO good and easy, it’s in my permanent repertoire), but never with a purple cauliflower. I also added delicious chunkies to it this time, like corn niblets and extra bits of cauliflower and ate it with a tiny little henge of caraway & raisin whole wheat soda bread.


And would you believe I didn’t plan the symmetrical photo-op? Or even the symmetrical dinner? I guess it’s not surprising that I was going for blended soups and little toasted starchy things though, it’s been a flurried-snow january and I’ve been nursing a flu for a while. This one is the mellow lentil sniffle soup from Eat Drink & Be Vegan and I think it’s actually my favourite lentil soup ever so far. There’s something just so… right about it. It doesn’t try to be anything but nicely balanced and nutritious and slurpy, and with some squash biscuits alongside I couldn’t ask for a better snowy day dinner.

Oh, do you remember when I asked if anyone had any advice for non-sugary cranberry recipes? I think someone mentioned a cranberry dhal, which totally piqued my interest and that inspiration led to this creamy sweet potato & romano bean concoction, served with lemon rice cooked with a whole lemon. I was really wanting sour that day, and this was perfection.

Just the other day I made vegan*core’s snickerdoodles because I’d never had one before and it was on the mental list of cookies to try someday (and also I had a tarot party to go to and cinnamon-sugar just seemed like a good idea to bring with me). The photo is terrible, but the cookies are fantastic. They’re a white flour and sugar-fest (I only bake like this when I know I can give them away!), with a perfect slight-chew texture and crispy edges, and oh, they’re gorgeous too. Like shimmery brown stars…. mmmm.

Another bad photo of something very yummy – I made essentially a flatbread pizza the other day on a homemade chapati with basil chipotle hummous on the bottom and tomatoes and peppers on top. But the real special part was what I managed to make out of leftover pureed squash. I only added nutritional yeast, lemon, olive oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper, but once it was baked up it tasted so much like a cheezy thing. Something gooey to sink the teeth into! I was pleasantly surprised!

Finally – possibly my favourite chinatown find of late – Hopia Baboy. It’s a Filipino wintermelon pastry flavoured with green onion!! Astoundingly good. You just pop it into a very hot oven for 5 minutes or so to get toasty and flaky and then oh my goodness, it’s like an instant sugar pie with sesames and a haunting bit of onion that totally works. I think some of the time they’re flavoured with pork fat, which is slightly horrifying, but these ones were clean and clear. And they last forever. I bought a little blue package of them months ago and I just pull one out of the fridge and bake it whenever I want something aromatic and sticky to nosh. Sooooo good!

I don’t remember what prompted the lasagna. Something prompted it… oh yeah! Friends came over eating giant gloppy plates of cheesy tvp-veggie lasagna last saturday and it stuck in my mind. Then I woke up on sunday slightly hungover and thinking that making lasagna would be a kind of ideal and relaxing way to spend the afternoon. I was right, too… so laid back this was. I made some tofu ricotto with fresh basil and a roasted red pepper sauce with nutmeg, then layered with whole wheat noodles, sliced mushrooms, zucchini, loads of swiss chard, and some ground up almonds, sesames and lemon zest on top. It turned out so exactly like I wanted – fresh and vegetabley and clean, and hearty too! I ended up eating most of it cold, too, like the risotto.

Later on… I haven’t actually been baking all that much lately, but I figured maybe trying to make a single cookie might amuse me and get some chocolate into my system, so last night I tried. Here’s the measurements, in case you’re curious…

dry ingredients:
1 tbsp ground up oats (I used my fingers to grind)
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of baking soda
pinch of chinese 5-spice powder
wet ingredients:
2″ of banana, mushed to a pulp
1/2 tsp canola oil
splash of vanilla soymilk (if needed)

12 chocolate chips

** Add wet to dry, bake @ 350 for 12-15 minutes, until it’s glossy and browned. Would be mad good with tea and apple juice methinks.

It’s more like a chewy muffin top than a cookie per se (doubling the sugar might get you a cookier cookie), but I loved it as a near-guiltless snack. My next single cookie experiment will probably run along the lines of lemon-cranberry-almond. Come to think of it, does anyone have any delicious recipes for cranberries that aren’t too indulgent dessert-like? For some amazing reason they’re on for $1 a bag at my favourite grocery store and I can’t think of a darned thing I want to do with them besides eat them out of the freezer and add them to oatmeal. Maybe cranberry bars? I just don’t want to make them into something too sugary…

Oh yeah, speaking of good deals… I found 72% organic non-animal tested moisturizer and actual Scharffen Berger chocolate at the dollar store! The labels are ever-so-slightly off center and the bars are maybe 1 degree convex, like they’d been warm for a second, and I am a happy girl to take the misfit chocolate under my wing. Er, teeth. Yummy. (actually, verdict is I like Lindt better, but it’s nice and fruity with a bit of pepper and I’d like to make a sauce with it maybe)

Yesterday I made some of Melanie’s wonderful hummus, quinoa and broccoli soup. That particular combination got stuck in my head the moment I saw it, and I thought adding 2 cups of hummus to a soup pot was pretty novel. I added tomatoes to it today and loved it even more, but I could probably add tomatoes to ice cream and I would think it improved. :P
I also feel like mentioning that after finishing this bowl I felt just inexplicably amazing. Really, really good and energized, like my belly was a rotating rose. Wish I’d made more!

(pumpkin oatmeal cookies, molasses snaps, sugar cookie sticks, meltaway shortbread, sugar-plum stars, chocolate thumbprints with cranberry or chestnut, PB and chocolate bonbons, PB-fruit-coconut-almond bonbons, and 12th century nutmeg spice cookies)

Merry season everyone! Those cookies up there are the symbols of festivity I decided to make lest there be no christmas cheer in my heart at all. Not to say I didn’t have a wonderful and family-filled trip home, but somehow… I’m feeling distanced from the traditions. No big surprise really… age and a certain mistrust of buying shit will take their toll, making it a very good thing that my heart will always ring with passion for cooking at least. And so, there was the night of a million cookies. Or rather, maybe six or seven batches. It was AWESOME. Just me and a table full of flours and extracts and whisks, neatly and precisely churning out dough after dough, and pulling perfectly browned trays out of my mom’s oven (that actually WORKS). I was so surprised it only took me a couple of hours – with the notable exception of the shortbread, which had me up to wee hours with the hand-whipping and chilling and 45 minute baking times but it was worth it in every way a mind can conceive. Move over butter – baking for so long turns EB into something intensely delicious, toasty and redolent and I’m glad I left it unadorned in it’s proud “cadillac-of-margarines” glory.

Then I made a cake, inspired in large part by these lilliputian mandarins my mom picked up. It’s the mandarin-orange-spice cake that has it’s own full colour glamour shot in extraveganza, and it’s glossy photo is more than deserved. The cake itself isn’t over sweet, instead it’s spicy and moist (and very christmas-y!), and a perfect vehicle for rich almond butter citrus icing that tasted a lot like magic. Should have been cashew, but you use what you have. Almonds have more personality anyway!

Giant slice for me? Oh, you shouldn’t have! No really, you take this slice, I’ll have the rest of the cake…… :D

It’s a christmas day tradition at my dad’s to have non-vegan belgian waffles with berries and cream, and every year previous I’ve made myself happy with (actually pretty good) fruit salad and maybe a tofurkey brat fried up with ketchup. But this year I was offered a spot in the waffle maker and I figured why not? I made the ppk apple waffles that were so good my step-mom jumped on the leftovers and I started to seriously consider spending my mall money certificates on a novelty waffle iron. They even picked up a bottle of whippy edible oil topping that in very very small doses (ie: once a year) I actually enjoy.

Later christmas dinner, the photo of which I considered not posting even at all. It’s a little smooshy! But yummy. So much so! I made red wine and maple baked tempeh, roasted potatoes with mushroom gravy, sesame broccoli, butternut squash with fresh thyme and garlic oil, rye stuffing, roast parsnip, turnip and carrot, dill and avocado salad, and lime-glazed beets. Just excellent, I was moaning all over the tempeh, which is always a treat to me, and even managed to save room for dessert – an apple cherry crumble with almonds and pecans that I will NOT post because it looks a little like something undergoing surgery but I can assure you was almost addictive with some Vitasoy Holly Nog splashed on top. (Said Nog also made my oatmeal xmasserrific my whole week home, I love that stuff.)

Here’s to a new year and to Xmas being through and to all a goodnight (I can’t wait to get back to school!!!)

EDIT: At Joanna‘s request, and because it’s available online anyway, I’m posting the Mandarin cake recipe.

Mandarin Orange Spice Cake

1 3/4 cups spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each nutmeg, cloves, and allspice
2/3 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp canola or other natural oil
3 tbsp mandarin orange juice, freshly squeezed (about 3 mandarins)
1 tbsp mandarin orange zest
1 tsp fresh gingerroot, grated
3/4 cup rice milk or soy milk
1 recipe Creamy Mandarin Icing

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. In a smaller bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, orange juice and zest, ginger and soy milk and whisk together to emulsify the wet ingredients. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix with a fork gently; do not beat. Pour into a lightly oiled and floured 8×8-inch cake pan, a Bundt pan, or an 8-inch springform pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Check to see if cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the centre of cake; it should come out clean. Let cool on a rack before removing from the pan. Decorate the cake with Creamy Mandarin Orange Icing and garnish with edible flowers such as tangerine gems or calendula.

Creamy Mandarin Icing

1/2 cup soy margarine
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cashew butter
1 tbsp mandarin orange zest

Blend all ingredients in a food processor on high for several minutes until very creamy and thoroughly combined. Chill icing for 1-2 hours. Spread onto thoroughly cooled cake and decorate with grated orange rind and calendula flowers. Keep cake chilled until serving. Variation: Add 1/2-1 tsp each of beet powder and turmeric to dye the icing an orange colour. Add a small portion of each at a time as you blend the icing, until you reach a desired colour.