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apple sprout!
Every so often (in fact, very often), on those days I have left my apartment with a slog in my step or even just no specific inspiration for the day to come except possibly another coffee and another ride on the bus… I will check my little metal mailbox and see personal mail inside.  And instantly I’m five and it’s my birthday and I’m grinning cheekily and cracking open a pretty envelope and the day is, so to speak, saved.  Needless to say I was happy to see my copy of Swell Vegan’s cookzine last week!  It’s beautiful, first of all – the covers are home-silkscreened in a burnished gold on creamy green card – and inside are 15 absolutely enticing recipes.  I’ve already tested a spare few (the Maple Mustard Chili Tofu, Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers, and OH the Sweet Potato-Cranberry Scones with that gooey maple glaze!) and been really impressed each time.  The recipes are easy and vibrant, definitely on the healthy side and did I mention delicious?  The only thing I’ve made since getting my copy is Sarah’s Savory Baked Tofu, but of course that was perfect too, even when I just eyeballed the measurements to make a 1/3 recipe.  I actually really like the way A-K’s food tastes, there’s something really great about it.  
some past swell food…

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Scones – as WannabeVegan mentioned, these are worth the price of admission, I’m 100% serious about this.  Consider the price of a huge batch of the best scones you’ve ever eaten, then factor in being able to make them again and again each fall (or anytime), plus a few tempeh recipes and that just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Maple-Mustard-Chili Tofu – this recipe keeps wanting to be made and then I remember I don’t have maple syrup and then I am sad, because the maple flavour is vital and really delicious.  The salad underneath it was weird (artichokes and grapes, huh past self?  WEIRD!!) but that tofu was addictive.

And the first thing I tested were the Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers, which are a combination of some of my favourite things ever (almond butter, leeks, millet and sweet patats), in a more-ish kind of spicy burger.  You gotta eat these fresh, they crumble in the freezer (unless the recipe has changed, and A-K you can correct me if I’m steering anyone wrong here?), but they then turn into taco salad crumbles.  So not bad!

The latest dish!  Sarah’s Baked Tofu on some rice & millet, steamed vegetables, and a lemon-y sesame-thai dressing from the Millenium Cookbook that livened up broccoli like crazy. (It’s the dressing from the Chilled Soba Salad if anyone’s wondering).  Straightforward looking, but take a bite from this and it’s got zingy depth.  Serve it to omnis.  Mention whole grains and steamed veg and lean protein and then let them try it and giggle when they go all “ohhhh.  Wait, this is good!”  At least, that’s my secret plan.  Swell will be my secret recipe weapon, I’ve got the Mole Roasted Cauliflower on the mind to make next. 

Oh, and I made the Lemon Zucchini Bread and the batter was great and then the most disastrous thing happened ever.  My oven had the audacity that afternoon to turn into a dehydrator, resulting in the most depressing baked thing I’ve ever had the misfortune of creating.  It turned this beautiful lemony-sweet cake batter into a block of chewy (albeit tasty) crust with raw lukewarm uncooked battergoo inside.  I weep tears.  No, actually, I threw it out.  And I NEVER do that.  So um… word to the wise, before risking a lemon zucchini bread make sure your oven works, or else microwave yourself an end piece and put enough Earth Balance on it so you don’t notice you’re eating liquid cake… errr. yeah.
That’s a horrible way to end a supportive post!  But it happened.  It’s my funny story.  :)
PS: A-K you rock!

I’m inspired again!! It happened very suddenly, I think a warm breeze passed through my kitchen and the walls turned sunny-orange in a way I hadn’t seen in months, prompting a small whirlwind of culinary tinkering, and I haven’t stopped since. I made raviolis, even, which I’ve always wanted to do! They’re roasted beet with rosemary and toasted walnuts, made with wonton skins, so they’re not pasta exactly, but I prefer the chewy dumplingness of the skins, actually. Because that way I’m allowed to eat them with my hands. They also coincided with a small disaster that resulted in something wonderful …….

— my fridge has sucked for years. It’s been replaced 3 or 4 times since I’ve lived here, and each one has been more small, old, fragile and smelly than the last. Have you ever seen a fridge where the freezer was INSIDE the box, and there was only one door? That was mine, until last week when it started to leak freon and smell rather horrifyingly chemical. I tried eating an apple from the crisper and my mouth started to tingle… I didn’t repeat that. O_o

The building quickly replaced it, as usual, except that this time – it’s a real fridge, white and sizeable, with a real freezer door! It makes a very satisfying sound, and my smoothies taste like ice cream now because the ice is so cold. Amazing! Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because while I rescuing things from the old icebox I pulled out a huge bag of peas and was like, “uh… I should eat these somehow”, which led to a most delicious puree to go with my raviolis. I just threw the peas in a blender with some garlic, basil, mint, balsamic, oil, tamari and pepper and it was shmancy-perfect-face-stuffingly-delicious. woo!

I also made some sandwich bread last week, to celebrate the white flour purchase. I’d never made sandwich bread before! It’s so useful, and tasty. This one was whole wheat rye, made with a bit of molasses and caraway and I had no trouble eating it up, especially shmeared with spicy homemade apple butter, yum! It inspired me to make a real salad. And it inspired me to have reubens for lunch all last week – holy batman that’s a good sammich!

For the ‘meat’ part I made lentil patties with pickle juice and gluten flour, breaded them in breadcrumbs and baked for 30 minutes, flipping once. Then loaded on the sauerkraut and homemade 1000-island and munched happily away!

These are testers for Terry’s new Vegan Latina book: black bean and plantain pupusas with a latin tomato sauce and a Salvadorean slaw, all delicioso.

And a great chard recipe with capers and raisins that’s a new favourite around here. Sweet and salty and complex!

Finally – to celebrate the spring equinox, and in anticipation of finding good things in life, I baked a lemon poppy seed bread yesterday, studded with little treasures. Rings, crystals, little coins, it was so much fun to bring this to a potluck, cover it with fresh berries, and slice off little hunks with surprises inside! The bread itself is moist and more-ish, too – super citrusy, with a sparkly sugary crust, and soaked in a lemon syrup = win!

Springtime Lemon Poppyseed Bread

1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water (could use milk)
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

3 tablespoons raw sugar (for sprinkling on top)

optional: little metal trinkets

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a loaf pan.
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl, lemon zest through water.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients, then add that to the wet and stir just until combined.
4. Pour half the batter in the pan, dot the batter with metal trinkets (if using), then add the rest of the batter, sprinkle the top with raw sugar and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Don’t take it out of the pan yet though! While it’s still warm, make….

Lemon Syrup

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

1. Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl, microwave on high for about 45 seconds, stir to dissolve into a syrup.
2. Poke a bunch of holes in your lemon bread with a skewer or a toothpick, then pour the syrup over top and let it soak in for about 20 minutes. Then take it out of the pan and let it cool. Slice, warn people not to break their teeth on anything, and bask in the party game + dessert combined. :)

(psst the hottie ain’t me, it’s my sis)

(I am kicked out of veganism for this decorating job. of pure awesome.)

I’m still alive, I swear! I blame a flu for holding me hostage and making me kind of hate my own kitchen – a flu that has lasted for a month and is STILL CAUSING WHEEZY DEPTHFUL COUGHINGS IN THE NIGHT. Argh I say. I’m only sort of (maybe) remembering what an appetite feels like.

Chocolate PB banana smoothies + popcorn for dinner much? Anyway.

I turned 25 recently! And this year I insisted that a cake be made for me, because ha ha I was hating the sight of baking tins. Me mum made an amazing spice cake that I really want the recipe for – it was like eating a ginger cookie, except in cake form, and with plum frosting (and the best decoration job this side of my sister’s taste level). Amazing, and I polished a good chunk of it off with actual soy ice cream, which I haven’t had since high school. Happy birthday to me!

Later at home in montreal I had a wee shindig on my actual birthday, and flexed my rusty pastry muscles to pull off… the mushiest cake EVAH. Haha, it was good, but completely not cooked in the middle. (my oven is also teh sux, but we take responsibility for our disasters, yes?). I used the banana split cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and probably trying to make a full cake out of it accounted for the mush (also I only had whole wheat pastry flour, which is good, but not THAT good, you know what I mean? Forgive me but I like 50% white flour in cakestuffs).

At any rate the company was the greatest in the world, and I got a japanese unicorn mug, a pineapple, a decoupage candle-glass, a drawing of fish, some chamomile and ylang-ylang oils, and uhhh… my own tupperware back! Huzzah.

I also treated myself to a 10 kg bag of good old emptily nutritive white flour this afternoon. Aw yeah. :)

(^ psst that hottie is me)

I lost my camera last night! *sob* *wail* *gnashing of teeth* ….. *more sob*
There were a couple tears… but I definitely learned a lesson in there somewhere about scatterbrains, expensive toys, and wild nights on the town not mixing so well. Sigh… this is the last batch of beautiful food pictures, and then it’s back to macbook camera for a while….

*okay, one more sob* ;_______________;

Now on with the food:

I’m trying to press and marinate my tofu more, cause I squish it up into mash a LOT, and eating it like this is probably a good exercise in patience and, uh…. planning. Plus chewy chunks of ‘fu are the building blocks of life, or at least a dinner that resembles something you might want to throw some candlelight over. Or something. Anyway, it was yummy, and completely encrusted with sesames, totally worth the trouble. (with roasted eggplant and zuke on bass, lemon quinoa doing drums and glockenspiel)

Little mini enchilada casserole, with refried pintos, avocado chunks, salsa all over, diy-pitted black olives, and lots of Vcon cheezy sauce with green chiles in it for kicks. Also some tabasco was thrown around and appropriately enough there were corn tortillas involved. SO. FORKING. GOOD. msnarf and such.

I loves coleslaw so much… I’ll probably make my way through every major variety before the summer’s out. This one is kind of curry-based, with toasted mustard seeds, red chiles, cumin, wonderful long green raisins, thin-sliced green beans (to use up 4 green beans I had) that look PRECISELY like long green raisins (ha!) and almonds and stuff. I think I hit that sweet spot of coleslaw where all of a sudden it starts tasting like piquant juiciness and you want morrrre, which is okay, cause it’s good for you.

EDIT: I found out the raisins are an Iranian thing, and they’re called Keshmesh in Farsi. They’re dried in the shade and aren’t treated with sulphur so they’re much more fruity and less sweet than the regular kind. This page describes them SO much better, though —

Highly concentrated, like all dried fruits, keshmesh strike the palate with a trinity of flavors; pineapple, lemon and a nutmeg-tinged green apple to be precise. Even the sound they make when poured into a dish draws the attention as they delicately ping against the bowl like small hollow stones…” – Glass Petal Smoke

Neat!

And finally, I can’t recommend the Vcon tomato rice soup enough – I like, never (hardly ever) remake recipes in the interest of trying new things, but this soup has officially entered Rotation. I’m such a tomato-soup head, and this is basically what my belly wants when I start craving the red stuff (plus it’s way more healthier than tinned goop <– bonus!). And the moon biscuits? Well… I tried to quarter a biscuit recipe and only halved the amount of margarine, sooooo…. they didn't need extra EB slathering, I can tell you that. Good, though! I eated up every melt-in-your-mouth crumb with gusto. Now I go make myself chocolatey chocoblock chewy-choc cookies to make up for being such a stupid last night, or at the very least watch Nigella do the same thing, which is almost as good, and just eat a brick of Lindt. yay.

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

Okay, so never ever tell omnis something is vegan before they have a chance to taste the powerful blueberry magic. Pout pout pout. I made a whole wack of these gorgeous gems for my painting critique and took 95% of them home with me. Maybe it’s a blue food thing?

Anyway, bad reception notwithstanding, they taste incredible. I used the Shmooed Food fluffy white cupcake recipe as a base, and steeped the milk in berryblossom white tea (I hate supporting megasaurs like Starbucks but the roommate already had the tea around. And white tea with blueberry/cranberry essence? Too tempting to bake with, I tells ya.). Then when the little aromatic puffies came out of the oven, I let them cool and used the cone method to fill them with organic wild blueberry jam. And I didn’t have a piping bag, so I cut a hole in the empty icing sugar bag and went all noodly with the icing, twas fun.

The sexy sexy shot you’ve been waiting for. God, these were good. The fresh blueberry on top completely makes the whole package, it pops with all this fresh berry flavour that makes all the sugar underneath somehow classy. I could eat the whole box, and I do have a whole box to eat. I so wish I didn’t care about my hips. *sigh*

Oh yeah, this isn’t my brilliant creation, it’s someone else’s brilliant creation, upon which I heaped my highest praise by imitating.

ALSO, before I forget – you know what the most popular food was at the critique? Homemade meaty meaterson probably-made-of-duck pâté. GROSS. My painting didn’t go over well either. Argh bad days.