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Ah, remember the hearts? (now why can I never seem to keep from smiling at the thought of little cookie cutters?)

I made them to adorn a roasted eggplant & chestnut bisque (with blood orange and mint), but the trick is that I made them spicy!  It’s pretty simple to do, and I learned a new method for making polenta thanks to Mark Bittman – instead of boiling the water and then adding the cornmeal, you first whisk the cold water with the grain so there’s no lumps at all.  Granted, I’ve never had huge lump problems with polenta, but I do think this was easier.  It even accommodated my using a hand mixer attachment instead of a real whisk because, uh…. it was closer!  It’s SO almost the same thing.
Spicy Ras-el-Hanout Polenta Croutons

1 cup coarse cornmeal
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Ras el Hanout spice
1 tbsp olive oil
– In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, spices and water completely.  Then, jack up the heat to boil and as soon as it does boil, reduce the heat to a very low bubble and stir every minute or so until the grain is completely cooked through and the porridge is thick.  It’ll be about 12-15 minutes.  
– Then, whisk in the oil and spread the polenta on a baking sheet lined with greased plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours to firm everything up.
– When it’s firm – cut it up!  Cookie cutterized, or into little crouton-cubes, either way.  
– Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat and coat the bottom in olive oil.  Fry them up, about 5 minutes a side, until they’re nicely browned and slightly firm when you poke them.  Top onto salads or soups or just snack on them, they’re really nice.
Mmmm, speaking of cornmeal and how utterly delicious it is, I made some mini fluffy cornbreads from the Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas.  I’ve had this book since I was a little girl, or at least my mother always kept it’s dry-bound oft-used pages up on the bookshelf for as long as I can remember.  Granted it’s chock full of dairy and eggs, but what is viable for a vegan is really lovely, and the cornbread is no exception.

I replaced the egg with some flaxseed and added chopped thai chili and diced red onions, and they came out just barely sweet and nutty tasting!  This isn’t a big-ol sopping up chili with a hunk of hefty corncake kinda cornbread, but light and refined kind of puff of mais-muffin that’ got a crisp crust and is pretty low fat too.  Almost alarmingly charming.  ^.^

So we’re finally in the present, now!  That was so weird, being back in time for so long… well, status quo and time re-adjustment has been achieved (thank you Doc!) and I’m the proud owner of not only Vegan Brunch but the Tropical Vegan Kitchen, now, too!  More on those at the end of the post, because I’m such a stickler for temporal integrity… although you’d never never never know it.  So I have to begin with rice.  Oh, but not just any rice…
It was sumptuous, luscious purple rice (yeah, I’m a fan), which I made with a big heaping spoonful of souvlaki spice blend that’s been sitting on my spice rack since last summer going “oh oh, make me with tofu, you LOVE greek food, get around to it, with those Vcon lemony potatoes, yeah!”
Which of course I did not do.  
Nah, no, I made this rice instead and actually swished it around in my salad, turning it all warm and tomatoe-y and olive-y, it was really awesome.  I never (never never?) mix my plate up, or at least not that often, so bear with my enthusiasm, haha.

Enthusiasm wanes for this, though!  Too bad… it’s from Vegan Fire & Spice and it was only okay… cold soba something or other.  I could have just messed up rinsing it properly, because it was mostly a case of the the noodle liquid rinsing all the nice dressing off.  And I put way too many veggie in, who needs veggies man, not me (at least not when “slurpy bowl of noodle” is the simplicity required at the moment).  Does anyone have any cold noodle tricks?  I bought a pack of soba the size of my head and I was pretty up for doing it cold, japanese-style over the rest of the summer.

Also good cold:  eggplant!  Amazing cold!  I faked up this most excellent wheat berry salad with morrocan spices, creamy eggplant, fresh mint… so good.  Especially in crisp summer lettuce wraps with black bean hummous dolloped on, which needless to say, was my consumption method of choice here.  (I’m especially enamoured of the strange little ears on the hummous blob in the picture there, too :P)

Oooh, and unfortunately there’s no slice picture, but I made a red velvet cake!!  It was a bit of a talent exchange and I got a professional (shi-shi, layered and subtle!) haircut from a friend of mine who adores southern stuff.  I even put mint on it, a la Paula Deen.  Oh, and the recipe was of course from Vegan Cupcakes and OMG this frosting if you haven’t made it yet MAKE IT it’s all whippy like creamy and dangerously low-sweet and HIDE THE SPOONS.  O_O!

*cough*
Right.  Well.  Grounding… let’s be sensible here.  There is nothing more sensible than rice salad, not one thing, nope.  (the New Zealand Rice Salad on page 70, to be really specific.  tee hee kiwis).  What else can be eaten right out of the fridge like a miniature complete meal at the end of your snacking fork?  (And that can be hard to remember to eat sometimes!)  Also, what else can incorporate fruit into dinner without seeming weird?  Well, I guess I’m going to find out what else, because the Tropical Vegan Kitchen is full of fruit, it’s everywhere.  Which is why I bought it!  That and to figure out how to use up a crate of kiwis I got… I’m looking to adapt the toasted coconut mango muffin recipe in Vegan Brunch too maybe… which finally brings me to —–

Omelet!
La la la, nothing can be said about this I’m sure that hasn’t been said before, it is perfect and you want to eat this and your omni uncle wants to eat this (well, maybe), and I ate it with the V.Brunch sesame scrambled tofu with greens and yams ( – tofu, + dandelion greens).  I don’t know how she actually managed to do this, but not only does it actually taste like something good (as opposed to Vegan-Omelet-As-Novelty), but the structural integrity is a wonder to behold.  The thing spread perfectly, browned perfectly, held together like a champ… you can even stack them.  Now try that with an egg omelet!
(also, I offically think these taste way better than those egg things.  viva la revolution!)

I don’t particularly feel like sorting my pictures right now, there is just TOO MANY of them.  So, yes, here is the first, what a delight of puffy strawberry muffs in a basket!  Hannah’s recipe is perfect for basic muffins, in fact I memorized it and freestyled a batch of chocolate-raspberry versions later while I was groggy and in my dad’s kitchen at some ungodly hour of the night after breaking in un-announced and he didn’t even know I was in town!  I raided the cupboards (after cleaning the place spotless, of course) and managed to at least find enough basic baking supplies to make them, lurvly brunette muffins, which will have a photo later in this post, because (of course) as I said – completely out of order.  Why not, right?

This is a banana-date scone from Veganomicon.  Somehow I thought it would be more decadent, being from the Vcon, but granted the whole introduction does mention it’s healthy qualities explicitly, so I should have been duly warned.  Don’t you love the background?  This was to fuel some tarot play time with a teatime friend who lets me bake for her (very nice of her).
I love Nigella, it’s no secret to anyone who’s met me (or at least heard her show playing from my bedroom whenever I need some serious calming and indulgence for the soul).  But strangely I’ve made .. well, none of her recipes so far.  That needed to be remedied, which I did with her moroccan-ish eggplant rolls with cinnamon, capers and bulgur … YUM!!  Like what I imagine most of her food to taste like, it is soft, nuanced, silky and doesn’t hit you over the head with electric or sour notes, so ultimately delicious, but I added more lemon. ;)
Pretty grill marks. :)
Ancient photo !!!!!
I made nachos with no nooch in the house.  I canvased the city (briefly) looking for a single serving of nacho chips just so I could have this to satisfy an immediate post-school craving.  It was everything awesome and more.  I made the cheese with cashews, oats, miso and hot chiles and it served the purpose mightily.

This is a pancake I made at my sister’s house, using her mystery bag of mystery organic flour (we believe it was likely spelt), as well as some honey-like natural sugar, lots of coconut, some cashews wedged in there… maple syrup.  Other things.  It was so very very punk, as their larder was BARE and we still managed to have a sizzling merry breakfast on the hob in time for a decent 11 am-ish kind of hour.  I’d just read this book — 

Which was a very anarchic ancient kind of (NON vegetarian) underground poetry/cookbook/highly vague anti-establishment montage of stuff, with many chapters waxing poetic about misty green mornings cooking rashers of bacon and potatoes and I was inspired at least to follow that part of the sentiment.  Much of this book was a little too dated and silly for me, but I liked the non-political jumbo.
As promised, a chocolate-raspberry mini-muff in a cup with Hagan-Daaz raspberry sherbert I found like a special present in my dad’s deep freeze.  Hurray!  Went together like a dream, and though that iced stuff is sweeet, it is definitely top quality and I was definitely proud to call this lunch.


Like cocoa soldiers.  Did you know it took me about 27 minutes and the help of a disgruntled 13-year old to help me find where they had counter-intuitively stashed all their muffin cups?  (for the record: in the highest right invisible spot in the kitchen, behind the curry powder, above the plastic bags).  

There’s more photo backlog, but this is probably browser-crashing enough with all the stuff in this post already, plus this random plate is a nice thematic end to a r-r-r-r-r-andom post.  This was my favourite dinner by SO much last week.  Probably the large luscious chunks of drippy tropical fruit had something to do with it, plus the arcade-style cacaphony of flavours all sharing one oddly harmonious restaurant-square plate.  There’s papaya salsa, asian-dressed cabbage, an eggplant roll that didn’t fit in the container I put in the freezer, and the BEST ASPECT OF ALL — peanut butter and jam on rusks.  Perfection.
ps. I swear I’m not on drugs or even feeling all that strange.  I just rode a mechanical bull, though, (seriously!) and I’m mighty jazzed about that!

Happy new year everyone! Did you get kissed last night? I got a hug! :)

Maybe it was due to eating those lucky black eyed peas everyone goes on about. I’ve got no problem with an excuse to them, though, being all mushy and sweet and darned adorable with that little black spot. I found out later that the collards they’re traditionally eaten with in the south symbolize paper money, so I missed out on that part, but do you see those basil leaves? Looks leafy and green to me! I even ate this all on lettuce, I’m probably set on the symbolic moolah front. Oh, and the beans themselves were a vegan version of Jukut Murab – a Balinese salad with coconut, tamarind, chile and lime and very very delicious – it’s going into bean salad rotation and will definitely be gracing the table of a potluck sometime in the future. It’s exotic and wonderful on the tongue and easy and healthy and cheap = win!

And speaking of inconceivably delicious food being actually very healthy – stuffed zucchini globes, Isa-style definitely qualify. How had I not made these yet? The millet here is basically a delivery device for tomato-y, olive-y, caper-y superflavour, which doesn’t get any further up my alley. I ate the leftover millet rolled up in steamed red cabbage with a squish of lemon, which forgive me, may have been even tastier than the squash, and um… I even put this stuff on crackers. Recommended!

Oh Extraveganza, shall you be in all my posts and will I never mind? Yes. :)
Especially when you offer recipes like pear and cardamom pudding, zomg. I doubled the cardamom and I shouldn’t have done that, because it became somewhat impossible to NOT have perfumed vanilla sweetness for dinner two night in a row. I am considering making more…

Finally, eek, I made saucy asian takeout style food! I can see why people do this now… It’s kind of a Gyudon (japanese beef and rice bowl) made with eggplant, as per Vegan Ronin‘s excellent adaptation, and somewhere between adding a splash of requisite sriracha and licking my bowl clean this was dreamy good eating. Even the rice happened to be purple in aubergine agreement! Goodness, I think now I’m gonna have to make General Tao’s tofu and cross that dish off my lifetime list now that I’m all hooked on sweet thickened sauces. YUM!

Bonus picture >>>>>>>>>>>>>
My favourite salad these days involves green apple and crushed up organic Wheat Thins, which was inspired by fatoush, if you can believe it. The crackers are sweeter than the apples, and with a noochy citrus dressing it’s a perfect snack.

(can you believe I got organic crackers at the dollar store? madness! I’m not complaining though)

This was the result of a hankering for an old-fashioned face-stuffy burger, and did it ever deliver on that. I made some crusty kaiser rolls, some straightforward black bean burgers (with rye flour and tortilla chips instead of white flour and breadcrumbs), put a bit of mayo and pepper on it and it was absolute perfection.

Oh yeah, and pomegranate salsa is like salsa with pink jewels in among the spiciness, and it really really works.

I also tried soygurt for the first time last week (in order to make that harissa yogurt swirl for the fava soup) and I loooooooove it. I didn’t eat cheese as an omni, I ate YOGURT, and loads of it, so I don’t know why it took me this long to grab the blue tub and add it to everything. This almond butter-lime dressing was so easy and yummy!

And speaking of soy… the other day a half block of firm tofu practically jumped into my blender and went “eeeeeeh! add sugar and lemon to meeeee!”. And who was I to argue? I baked this one, and added a pinch of nutritional yeast which sounds weird but gives it depth (just a pinch). The texture was perfect too… it sliced off into tart little “wodges” which in my odd mind is the exact word for an ideal slice of cheesecake. I wish I could live off of this stuff!
(oh and it was about 4″ across. I love mini tins!)

Finally I made Juineve’s creamy eggplant and roasted pepper soup with zaatar crackers. I doctored it a bit, roasting the vegetables and added tomatoes and a splash of sherry, and wished I had made more, it was so luscious. Thumbs up!

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!

It is so officially fall around here — I’m wearing my deedly-bop Value Village hoodie sweater with the studious vibe and the cool knit pattern; I’ve got visions of stuffed squash and apple votive candles everywhere; perhaps there might be a day-trip to the Laurentians to enjoy the leaves even (ha! like a grown-up or something).

But the end of summer was great! I managed to get a good day in at the Jean Talon market right here in the city on the most gorgeous of Labour Days ever. Had a monkey of a time trying to find anything resembling a decent vegan lunch, however… so I had to make do with a matcha and banana popsicle, and that was actually hella good, and surprisingly filling, so that was okay. (behind it is my mum’s strawberry pop)

Buying produce there is mad incredible. I got the most gigantic and bi-coloured cabbage ever for $1. Which is soooo okay by me! I’m still working on it, actually… mmmmm I love cabbage. And all cruciferous vegetables, actually. Like those amazing brussels sprouts up there.

The next sunny day that was milked for every joyous drop of heat-strokey lazy time was a looong stroll down to the Bouchee de Pain for a cookie. I’d heard there was a vegan bakery in the city, so I figured I’d check it out, and it’s soooooooo cute. I mean, anything with a creaky barn door, brazilian knick knacks for sale, gluten free stuff, about 6 feet of floor space and a wide selection of vegan cookiescones is great by me! I chose a watermelon knick knack and an almond & lemon cookie – the cookie being as big as my head, but worth every crumb. You wouldn’t want it smaller, they’re that good! Generously almondy, not too sweet, a good chew, and brilliant with coffee, I am SO going back when the leaves turn flamey to try their mexican chili chocolate kind with some apple cider to dunk in… miammmmm.

Geeyap watermelon! There’s gonna be a clearer picture of this plastic guy I found behind my bed later in the post – perhaps someone knows who he is? He’s been getting into the cupboards. ~.~

Somewhere in the temperateness that was between the seasons, P made the most tenderest, most nuttiest good chocolate chip scones with like, a bunch of different flours in them (w.w. pastry, oat, and amaranth). It’s a beautiful mixture for this kind of thing, the amaranth being especially interesting in it’s ability to make things very melt-in-your-mouth, and I ate way more than was necessary, and would do it again, I would!

Whatever, whatever… yellow zucchini fritters, but the interesting bit is my first balsamic reduction (tee hee), that looks way more like carnage at the pen factory than a beautifully plated dish, but it was delicious, so inksplottedness is forgiven, I think.

Some marinated eggplant with capers and mint, as per the smitten kitchen. (I think her recipes must turn out photogenically by law!)

And my amazon order came!!!!!!

There’s Vegan Fire & Spice, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, Extraveganza, and More Great Good Dairy Free Desserts, I am soooo excited! I’ve been in a cooking rut, but no more!

And that Culinaria Southeast Asia, I actually got at Costco for $10 and it’s like, the best book on southeast asian cuisine ever. It has recipes, but also culture, geography, history, festivals, art, ecology, everything else that’s interesting about people! Separated into Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, it’s really compulsive reading… I NEVER thought I would know so much about the manufacturing of soy, hehe.

Although one can’t really ever discount the old faithfuls of the cookbook shelf – after waking up a teeny tad hungover and NOT able to stomach the thought of oatmeal sitting heavy in my gut, I decided to make a protein-y breakfast of champions in the hour I had before school. Breakfast chorizo from Vwav, and tofu scramble, and tortillas… perfect. (not pictured: coffee, black. and plenty of it).

And later that evening I brought out the bevy of treasurebooks (and by that I mean cookbooks, of course) to show to P and J and that immediately brought out the “kid with a christmas catalogue” instinct in the lot of us. We could NOT decide what to make for dinner. We almost ordered out for vegan pizza. But lo – finally P made a salad of purple peppers and baby greens, J made his oh-so famous guac, and I made 3 of the simplest concoctions I could find out of Extraveganza – the Quick Noodles with Miso Lemon Tahini Sauce + Lemon Sesame Kale + Red Cabbage with Basil and Balsamic Vinegar. Amazing. I realized halfway through dinner that the way to do it was to toss everything together in one very fun-to-eat pasta dish, with all the components bursting with flavour in their own distinct way.

I mean, wow, I made a dinner with components and I didn’t even realize it. Gorsh.

(I like this book, I like this book, I SO like this book… I was even saying to P it might be my new love affair after the V-con. Seriously.)

And I mentioned fall, I know I did… this pie must close the post because it’s just so seasonally crisp-cool in the air right now, and I’m feeling in that sort of mood. But I must admit that I actually made this pie a few days ago with a pumpkin I bought at the market, and I might have to make another one soon, because we’re almost out and the thought of not having pumpkin pie in the fridge for one moment makes me sad.

Even Nameless Plastic Guy the Boy Wonder Hero seems to like the sticky roasted maple cayenne seeds I made out of the pumpkin’s innards. It must be done again! :)

I have no idea if I got the Isles in me. Me mum says I do, but that could be wishful thinking and a tendency to believe that a british heritage means ALLLL that area had a hand in the genetic making. But yeah… doesn’t mean I can’t pretend. Although this shamrock charm cookie thing is a one time deal – bloody blasted darned canapé-sized sugar cookies take FOREVER, plus icing time. I had ghostly premonitions of my life as an unappreciated mother-of-two slaving over bakesale wares to limited applause. Never again! (but adorable. very very adorable.) I used NoWheyKatie’s recipe from the ppk (I can’t find the link, though! ;_;), and added lime juice and zest to make them, um… more green.

Lunch today – I ran out of pita and a little light went off in my head, ’cause I have a few kilos of whole wheat flour sitting in my kitchen and I ought to be making chapati way more often. Not to mention that the flavour and texture are loads better than most storebought pitas. I dumped leftover potsticker dipping sauce all over this and the chapati stayed watertight! Go fresh bread, eh? There’s also a leftover kidney bean burger in there, plus sriracha and other trimmings. Oh, and green beans (I added them later). Call me weird, but they absolutely sing on sandwiches. Maybe not the best *shape* for it, but they’re all like, “woah, what’s that crunchy niceness?”

Veganomicon roasted eggplant and tomato stew with chickpeas, with soft poppyseed polenta – this fulfilled a craving I’ve had stored away since the last time I made polenta (and kinda botched it). At 17. So I’ve been craving polenta and roasted vegetables for a long time. The whole thing was awesome, probably so especially good because I roasted the tomatoes along with everything else. I want to make this again, actually. Maybe right now. :P
(Oh, and when you microwave the leftovers for just a bit too long, everything melts together and becomes absolutely LUSCIOUS.)

And this recipe has been at the top of my list since I first got the V-con – the greek-style tomato-zucchini fritters and cashew cucumber sauce! Holy cremini, they are exactly as wonderful as I wanted them to be. They are rich little fritters of awesome, and they have mint in them! (also, the tofu-paste itself is an experience not to be missed — don’t let me put you off the whole idea, but man, did it look/feel like grey cookie dough!) I’m gonna par-bake a bunch and have them in the freezer, I get this feeling they’d sub in for falafal really nicely. Oh, and the cucumber sauce got licked off of every implement that came into contact with it (spatula, spoon…. yes, stickblender. …. unplugged, though! :D)

Yum, yum, croquettes! K, I think I’m seriously obsessed with any food that comes with a dip and can be eaten with the fingers.

(Broccoli-millet croquettes with white bean aioli from the Veganomicon)


Then I had to try my hand at making some fake meatstuffs, ’cause there’s something just so empowering about that, ne? And having seitan in the freezer is just a nice feeling.

The spices are so pretty I could never have planned or expected them to be as incredibly universally exquisite as they are right there. And yeah, I added fennel ’cause these are Italian sausages, not no sissy lame-boy regular saussices.

Finished sausage! There was another one but I ated it real quick, since the foil broke on it and it was all misshapen and puffy and ummm… smelling really good. Thank you Julie Hasson!

And finally, the least sexiest of all the photos and yet so the tastiest — I made my first baba ganouj yesterday and it was to DIE FOR. I squeezed out all the stringy bits with my hand and squished it and squished (with my clean hand) until it was perfectly whippedy smooth, and then I mixed in the lemon/tahini/salt&pepper/garlic/parsley and then I toasted up some garlicky pita chips and then I had a dinner of awesome simplicity.
(moral: I love eggplant. lots!)

My new gotten-for-giftmas copy of Eat, Drink & Be Vegan is finally a little warped and cook-stained! I got home from used-book shopping* very VERY starving, but for some reason instead of being sensible and making a sandwich I decided to go Moroccan, because I’m on a severe Morocco kick, I think. I almost bought a jar of pickled lemons. Haha.

So yeah… after about an hour I had a gigantic pot of incredible stew, a quick salad with her Cumin-Cinnamon vinaigrette, a somewhat-okay attempt at a Batinjaan Zalud (maybe deficient due to lack of garnish?), moroccan olives, and the cutest portion of whole wheat couscous you ever did see, prepared in a tiny metal measuring spoon. The flavours were all very good friends on the plate (yet each distinctive), and the stew itself was pure comfort (though it could use more heat and didn’t seem to suffer from lack of celery). It was also suprisingly clean-tasting for something I expected to be heavy, and I’m having a hard time running back to the kitchen to grab another mouthful… mmm. I love Dreena’s food! I can’t wait to make more stuff from this book! Anyone have any recommendations?

*if anyone cares, I got the Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, The Transposed Heads, and a Kafka collection, woo!

~~ ALSO: in an interesting twist of internet-fate, I stumbled across Envirowoman’s Amazing Blog shortly after eating my plastic-wrapped noodles the other day and went, “woah, hey – I really can’t be eating this for reasons of the earth, as well!”. I got inspired. I have a hideous compost container right on the counter now (even though I live in an apartment and don’t actually HAVE a place to put all the rotten-food when it gets fulled up). I started a paper bin. I have no idea what to do with my tin cans. Maybe I’ll just sneak my stuff into other people’s recycling bins in the dead of night, with a ninja mask on, and pretend I’m some kind of bizarro-universe version of Robin Hood…