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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 came home to this sight the other day. It was kind of funny, actually – I’d just trudged home through a blizzard with visions of hot stew in my head and what do I find but the storm decided to join me in my kitchen!

Ha, it was okay. I managed not to step in any of the puddles and was very very thankful for the crockpot stew I had put on the night before. Yeah, I actually used my crockpot! *shock* my mom would be proud. I had actually been so busy that I acted the great cliche and took it down off the highest shelf I have to put some veganomicon cholent-style ingredients together the night before.

I’m actually not sure if I’m sold on the tarragon + caraway thing… but it was warm and hearty and perfect at the time. (ie: full of potatoes). I added tabasco and corn, too.

Earlier than that (or later? oh I don’t remember. sometime!) I made vcon lemon & pea risotto with roasted red peppers.

I don’t know why people complain about leftover risotto! I actually thought this was tastiest cold out of the fridge, slurped up like cold lemony pudding. I’m weird, yes. I tried Risotto al Salto too, to try it (basically fried up like a fritter), which was fine. But nothing on the ice-cold stuff!

I posted about hoecakes before, so there isn’t much to say about the big yellow thing on the plate – except maybe to amend my recipe to stress than fine cornmeal should be used in a hoecake. This one was coarse which did NOT work anywhere near as well, but ah you learn. The interesting bit, at least to me, is that grayish dip-like blob in the corner. It was very tasty! It’s black bean & orange dip from ED&BV, and it’s a little sweeter than a regular b.bean dip and really great on wraps and things.

In the midst of being busy I made some muffins to take to school. I wonder why I decided to make jammy muffins to put in my bag? Ha ha, anyway, they’re hearty jam-dot muffins from Fran Costigan’s second book. They’re okay… I like that there’s lots of toasted oats and sesame in them, and my mom’s homemade plum jelly. A wee bit heavy, but I subbed some stuff so it could have been my bad.

Over christmas my dad bought me some veggie burgers for christmas eve Burger Night (woohoo!), which happened to be Amy’s California Burgers. They’re soooooo good! They don’t taste a blessed thing like fakey meatstuff, but they DO taste like toasted bulger and mushrooms and loads of other great all-natural things. I had some on buns, and some on salad with tahini dressing and both ways were awesome. I had the last one today though, and I don’t know what to do because I never buy pre-packaged food for myself but I think I’ve fallen in love!

And finally… we call this an economic birthday, or a belated one, or whatever. It’s a full moon tonight and though it’s neither of these boys’ birthdays (although it’s close), it’s definitely always a good time for a chocolate jalapeno cake with ganache topping and strawberries inside. Yeah, I know!! It’s another Extraveganza cake recipe and holy schlamoli, it’s SO tender and delicious and soft peppery perfect, I tried a whole bunch of it that stuck to the cake tin. ^_^;

Word to the wise: the recipe mentions nothing about de-panning this cake, and in fact implies that it shouldn‘t be, I think, at least when you read the icing recipe along with it. I did anyway and it was a total headache cause it was so fluffy and sticky (and criminally delicious. did I mention that?), but I think it came through the operation 97% intact. Minus the chunks I ate. (I’m starting to think that being able to fix cake disasters is as useful as baking one that tastes good… :P)

Anyone else notice how the stuff on top kinda looks like a crab? Not planned! But I like it.

Sometimes I do use dinner knives. It’s true! Maybe I should do it more often, actually, ’cause this was REALLY tasty. I made blackened tofu from Eat Drink and be Vegan, with Exraveganza-inspired lemon cardamom rice and tartar sauce, and I probably should have doubled the amount of sauce I made, because I’m out of leftover tofu right now and I still want to douse everything in tartar-y goodness.

Tartar Sauce (or the best use for mayo ever)

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp each finely diced pickle, capers, red onion
a few drops of caper juice
1/8 tsp garlic powder
sprinkle of each of salt and sugar
lots of black pepper

1. Stir, let it sit, consume.

And I’ve been tagged with a survey or two. I don’t remember who tagged me for the Seven Things survey, but I’ll get around to that one in a day or so with a tour of my kitchen instead of random boring stuff about me. Of course I say that and then subject you to the Four Things survey, because I remember who tagged me (hi Rural Vegan! :), and I haven’t done one like it before. K…

Four Places I Go Over and Over:
1. School (it’s true!). For loads of things. (quietude, classes, anti-capitalist food, studio space, free political screenings, cheap books, art supplies)
2. the stretch of grocery stores in my neighbourhood with the fresh produce that lines the streets and the funny umbrellas that keep the rain off. Sometimes when it gets snappy-cold all of a sudden you can thunk frozen oranges together. :)))))
3. Ottawa
4. la-la land/my sketchpad

Four People Who E-mail Me Regularly
1. My mom. I am super cool. :D
2. Amazon. Even cooler.
3. School, telling me about gallery submissions and performance art yada
4. I don’t ‘get’ regular emailing, actually. If I like conversing with someone enough to send multiple emails I’ll usually take the dialogue to a better format.

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. On a rooftop, swathed in plushy new winter-wear, nursing a hot cider and watching the city at night.
2. A heady, smoky night in Morocco or Malaysia or some such
3. Tibetan monastery
4. a little boat with an owl, a wizard, a lamp and a map

Four of My Favorite Places to Eat
1. The cafe at the arts building has the perfect view of dilapidated downtown Montreal, is never crowded, has vegan wraps and you can even grill your own sandwiches and look at funny textile art. Oh, and a microwave for bagged lunches, perhaps most important of all.
2. Anywhere outside in the forest.
3. Anywhere with friends, while travelling.
4. I hardly eat out!!! But I like a good burrito/wrap more than anything, except maybe The Table restaurant in Ottawa.

Four TV Shows I Watch Over and Over
1. Good Eats!!!! It’s total comfort watching.
2. Project Runway/Top Chef
3. Venture Bros.
4. Farscape
*5. Does a long-running anime obsession count? it should. :P

It’s been a while, it’s been a while… ooooooh, I’m doing the It’s Been A While Dance. All of this food is like, over a week old (oh no!)

But that’s okay. I’ll just go through it real fast and label it. And pretend I’m gushing over everything, because it was all real worthy of gush. Onwards! —>

Soba All’Arrabiata! Or, “angry soba” if your Italian is good. Spicy marinara with sundried tomatoes and roasted vegetables just seems all that much more delicious when it’s on elegant and super-slippy noodles.

Vcon basil-cilantro pesto on corkscrewy pastas, with Eat Drink & Be Vegan tamari chickpeas, AND garlic bread. Because I am woman, hear me roar, I deserve carbs when I want ’em. And olive-oily lips!

A sugarless carrot cake, adapted from the Vwav recipe. Note all the changes to accomodate a sugar/soy-free diet:

– halved the recipe
– used w.w. pastry flour instead of white
– replaced sugar with date paste
– used walnuts instead of macadamias
– pureed pineapple instead of orange juice
– no coconut (not my decision, but mehn)
– no candied ginger (’cause there’s sugar on it. MEHN.)
– used cultured cashew cream instead of coconut icing

……….it was good, I kind of loved it (especially the cashew cream), but it was dense, and I would never serve it to omnis. I’m definitely noticing that cakes are especially tricky to adapt to special diets, as opposed to cookies/pies/things that don’t require fluffiness. But I’ll keep at it…

And when Pomme left town for a few days / I found a lb. of cherries for $1.59, I couldn’t resist diving into a modest flurry of sugar and flour to make (duh duh duh) a clafoutis! For the unhealthiness, but also for the vague french associations and a chance to use my mysterious chia seeds. I went from Hannah’s awesome strawberry clafoutis recipe, and it worked perfectly — gelled up into a pretty summer pudding that would be perfect with ice cream. Oh, I do love white sugar…

Oh, and leave the pits in the cherries! It’s traditional, and it infuses the cake with this haunting almond flavour. Plus, so much lazier. :D

Pomme’s birthday, precious Pomme deserves a precious cake! A cake that faeries might design if they were into that sort of thing. Something deviously healthy and yet richer than sin, delicate like tea-time but exotic, too. Something refreshing that can still be cut into a nice solid “wodge” of nutty pink cream… something like a pistachio rosewater cheesecake!

I think I’ve outdone myself this time.

I’m saving this recipe for the zine, but I *can* tell you that there’s cardamom in the cream, cocoa and orange in the crust, and it’s really really impossibly easy to make (and makes a cake like no other!). Amazing straight from the freezer, like ice cream except completely unlike ice cream…

There was birthday dinner, too, which was almost equally as special as the cake, at least if you like guacamole as much as we do (which is with undue passion). A spicy papaya salsa on red leaf lettuce with a nice tender-browned brick of cumin-lime tofu, with guac on the side… heaven! (and credit where credit is due, totally inspired by susanv’s recent post).

Hurray! As of July 10th I have officially been vegan for a year! It actually feels like forever (and do I count the year I was vegan in high school?), and what a full year of crazy amazing cooking it’s been. I’ve learned so much I can hardly believe it, when all I could really make back then was paratha bread, some lasagna, and maybe a rudimentary curry or two. I wish I had pictures of the weird stuff I managed to come up with — iced guava puddings, lemon carrots, raw onion dip… haha. Oh, the long way I’ve come…

Notably – check out that tempeh bowl up there. Much improved, culinarily, and also – I got to try tempeh for the first time! I LIKE it. Pomme marinated it in some maple syrup, tamari, liquid smoke, and maybe something else drop dead yummy, and we ate it over rice with all the fixings, including nori strips, peppers, daikon, sprouts, and loads of miso-tahini dressing. Magnifique!

And it seems to be becoming a dangerous yet wildly entertaining habit for us to finish dinner and then go make dessert. Mostly for entertainment value, but also for the sugar, you know… these were an adaptation of Dreena’s oatmeal raisin cookie, with chocolate chips instead of raisins, and also cashews. Chewy, perfect… maybe even perfecter with coconut, but still – perfect.

I tried to make plum chutney! It didn’t work at all (note to self: 1 teaspoon of asafoetida is a heck of a lot for one recipe to call for), but boy were the plums pretty.

Plum carnage! So pretty. :D

And then, and then – my actual veganversarry dinner! I actually forgot what day it was, so I was just using up leftovers when I made it, but it’s definitely a testament to my year of vegan-ness that I was able to turn the odds and bobs into well executed dishes. I faked a brown rice crust with toasted sesames and coconut oil, and put into that some blended turnip, carrot, sauteed onion, garlic, kale, coconut cream, maple syrup, garam masala and a bit of lemon and it was pretty damn good!

And marinated broccoli stems (of course). Which are great because they look like flowers, feature fresh basil this time, and get even better the longer they sit in the fridge.

We had it all together with a cold vichyssoise for a nice light summer dinner.

…… and then made cookies. :D

Pomme made little chilled hermit-balls with flax and cocoa and coconut – 100% healthy and chewy and good. And they were a nice foil for….

Crispy, almond-y white sugar city! It’s Terry’s favourite almond cookie from the Veganomicon! The touch of sesame oil in these is inspired, truly. And maybe the chinese-style cookies predicted the future, because Pomme and I ended up wandering to chinatown many hours later to see if a restaurant was open at 11 (it was), if they served vegetarian (they did), and we ordered up a bit of mapo tofu.

Why oh why does mapo tofu come with floating bits of flesh in it???? :(
It was our mistake for assuming that a tofu dish from the normal side of the menu would be safe… but our server was incredibly kind and he didn’t even charge us for the won ton soup that I stupidly ordered thinking “well, it’s just dumplings, right?”.

Yeah, dumplings filled with meat. I’m obviously very good at this eating out business (d’oh!). Anyway, it was an eventful veganversarry, and when the tofu did come, oh was it jiggly and delicious! I do love a good med-firm bean curd. Maybe next veganversarry I’ll think ahead and go to a place that serves up a good hunk of tempeh. Oh, that IS a good idea! :D

Okay, first off — I LOVE going home and I LOVE finally being in a house that practically inhales food faster than I can make it! It’s so gratifying, and I can cook up a storm like I could never do for just myself. And there’s a big ‘ol feast I’m making tonight, so I have to throw up all the other pictures first so I can post about the dinner later. Anyway…

Peanut butter banana ice cream (based on ED&BV’s Cashew Banana Ice Cream). This was the last meal I had before I got on the bus. Nice meal, eh? Ooh, I want to let *every* banana in the world go overripe and then freeze them all and make creamy nutty soft serve. ALL the TIME.

And this is the leftovers I brought with me on the bus — the cauliflower curry and saffron garlic rice (both from the Veganomicon). The rice would be better with the chickpeas romesco I think, but it’s still the best rice I’ve ever made, so I shovelled it all up anyway. Does anyone else feel like they’re totally indulging by using white rice instead of brown?

I also brought a big container of tofu salad with me, because I make a really mean tofu salad, and I feel better travelling with a huge amount of no-brainer protein. It basically incorporates half my fridge door — braggs, lemon juice, nayonnaise, dijon, bbq sauce, garlic, paprika, turmeric, thyme, oregano, pepper, nooch, diced pickles and red onion. Oh, and a niiiiiice loooooooong squirt of sriracha, ’cause I roll like that. It’s so good. I had to fight my mom away from this sandwich.

So then my sister says “I’m hungry…. lizbeth, go make me something.” and I’m like “YES. This is called the V-con. What does your heart desire?” and she goes “Chocolate Chip Brownie Waffles” and I’m like “You rule so hard I can’t fathom your rulingness. Where’s the cocoa?”. These are basically the best thing to ever come off of a panini press, which we had to use instead of a waffle iron but that hardly matters because you could fry this on the sidewalk and it would still be good. They’re all fudgey… but not too fudgey. Pleasantly mid-fudgey. *drool*

I can’t believe I’m closing with vegetables. But I’m really proud of myself! I made a squash soup worthy of rivalling those little expensive pseudo-gourmet boxed soups. Nothing out of the ordinary, regular squash soup stuff like apple vinegar, almond milk, nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, salt. A *tiny* bit of soup powder (but this kind was organic and actually tasted really nice). And a bit of maple syrup, and a bit of coconut milk. I didn’t even warm it up, I just blended the roasted squash with everything and put it in the fridge to reheat when I need it, and it’s, dare I say it, lovely.

So that’s the spread, but there’s a whole wack of goodies happening tonight, I spent all yesterday blending spices and prep-cooking pastes and making chutne—- oh, I shouldn’t say anything else. (I made a cake!)

Okay, I’m done. :)

(oh, and my sister actually DOES rule the universe, and keeps bringing me home treats from her job at the health food store — Belsoy puddings (chocolate and vanilla), asafoetida, gluten flour, thai ginger kettle chips, organic sesame-spelt bread, organic millet and red quinoa, vitasoy soynog (which is amazing, btw), carob chips, a jar of raw cashews about as big as a cat, lots of produce. Most of it free/about to expire. Quelle yay! I wuv her.)

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

Well, Liz is a happy vegan – I finally picked up Vegan with a Vengeance yesterday (it was between that and Refresh, or maybe Heaven’s Banquet, but hey, it’s Isa ramblings we’re talking about here, and I needed that recipe for the raspberry blondies). And the muffin recipes! There’s so many! Very happy vegan. :D

I thought I’d try the Hijiki-Salad Sammiches first, since I didn’t have hijiki, but I had nori….. thus the chickpea maki-wraps above. Muy tasty! It’s beyond simple, I just mashed the chicks with nayonnaise, salt, pepper, cider vinegar, tabasco and celery seed, then I spread it on toasted nori and rolled it up with carrots, cucumber, lettuce, red onion and sunflower seeds. Oh, and Braggs to dip, of course.

Hey, look, it’s thematically relevent! Peanut-Sesame Hummus from ED&BV. It’s good, especially with lots of crushed peanuts swirled in.

Also….. Chickpea Cutlets?
I am so sorry for having doubted you! You taste delicious the next day, as does that addictive Mustard Sauce, I just have to remember not to form you into the shape of meat lest I get weirded out by it. (my very good vegetarian friend Ben-sen just about busted a gut laughing when I told him I’d made a shmancy fancy dinner with roasted potatoes and cutlets and everything. He also polished off the leftovers and declared them “creepy yet delicious”)