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Well, I’m back! I’ve scrubbed the dirt out of all my crevices, uploaded a billion gorgeous pictures of natural beauty and human wackiness, rubbed my belly after meal upon meal of delicious vegan forest food, and now I’m finally ready to get back to city life… and update my blog!

So this is the humble kitchen, rather unassuming by day (though inviting), and positively radiant by tiki torch at night. There was always fresh fruit and whole grain breads around, and a steaming gigantic decanter of yerba mate for the lacking-in-energy camper to drink copious amounts of (4 mugs a day, anyone?)

One afternoon Star and I even discovered sushi being made! Forest sushi! It took all of 3 seconds for her to jump into the kitch and start showing off her fantastic rolling skills. There was even apparently onigiri with pickled plum being made later, which I unfortunately missed, but still… that’s damn cool.

Here’s me (on the right), grabbing some killer miso soup from The Great-Smelling Pot of Giganticness. I always had to stand on tiptoes to see what was inside!

And here’s the bounty of fresh herbs and vegetation at the right of the kitchen, which gave the food this wonderful vitality. (note to self: donate something that is green and growing in a pot next year)

The tea tent! It was this dear little spot, glowing white and smelling of herbs/the always-lit iron stove that kept the kettle boiling outside. There were teas for everything — lung cleansing, ephedra-energizing if you wanted it, lucid dreaming, even getting in a sexy mood! With agave nectar, fresh citrus to cut, ginger, books on herbs, and just a great atmosphere all around.

The fact that I could stumble down to the kitchen area, grab my colourful breakfast and realize I was munching in front of killer art like this was all part of the fun.

And E-balls! E for energy, of course. Yum, yum, yum, and I have a new appreciation for hempseeds now. Especially the crunchy black unhulled ones, they’re SO much fun to eat!

Okay, onto the plates. (every attempt I made to take night photos got thwarted, so none of the dinners got photographed, but rest assured they were pretty involved and distinctive and delicious, even moreso than the first two meals of the day. ah well.)

This was my first breakfast – note the conservative portions, before I realized I could totally take my fill from the table – morning quinoa with hempseeds, soaked/raw whole wheat granola, and spicy applesauce.

First lunch – creamy coleslaw with fresh herbs, split pea dhal, bannock, and fruit salad.

Yay, oatmeal! I loved the announcement of breakfast that morning – the whole kitchen in unison shouting “Gruuuuuuuuel!!!!!”

Oops – this is the one standout meal that sucked for me. 1 out of 21 ain’t too shabby at all, though! Another split pea dhal with much much less flavour, and saltless dry millet. Still – totally healthy.

This was way (way!) better! Quinoa with fresh oregano, vegan caesar salad, and a beautiful hearty bean and vegetable stew, with beets, wakame, squash and barley.

Most colourfullest breakfast EVER, and it tasted even better than it looked! Tahini-dressed salad, quinoa with star anise and clove, apple chutney, pickled carrots, fruit salad with papaya, pineapple, watermelon, pear, orange and honeydew, and one of those awesome E-Balls.

Maybe my favourite lunch, too – miso soup with gorgeous huge pieces of seaweed, whole juicy shitake mushrooms, roasted squash seeds and my new cracker obsession, rye Wasa.

And the last brekky – creamy rice pudding with apricots and sunflower seeds, sugarless (yet sweet) cocoa apple crumble/granola, a citrus-y salad, and a slice of dense rye with apple butter. Plus a view to totally die for…

More often than not, I skipped the smoky campfire scene and hiked a few minutes away to a secluded sunny rock with my meal to listen to mild ripples and rustling trees instead. You could have given me a half-eaten Boca burger in that setting and I would have been in foodie bliss anyway… but really, in conclusion, I got totally inspired by the spices and innovation that I saw at Om, and the dedication that the kitchen organizers had to keeping 500+ people fed and nourished all day, every day, for a whole week! For one – I’m gonna start respecting the “mere” salad a heck of a lot more, play with grains and seeds more, put tahini in more stuff (because tahini = AWESOME), and basically just focus on health and colour instead of rigidly following silly things like recipes all the time. I’ve even put it into practice at home, but that’ll have to wait for the next post. ;)

( Oh, and I wish I could have taken a picture of the meal that I helped prepare, it was my favourite of all the dinners (maybe I’m biased, but it WAS amazing). Just imagine saffron-coconut apple soup, fried bananas, truly spicy aloo gobi, and cardamom-almond rice. OMG. I weep for the lack of picture! :O )

Moving day this weekend. And moving day again, and again and again… my two best guy friends J and W moving to different apartments and a new roommate for me. It’s been change! And a lot of fun, actually, even though I’m pretty sure my arms have doubled in size due to a constant and unending parade of boxes and audio equipment.

There’s my man J, taking a well deserved break (silly man was so excited to move that he didn’t sleep the night before and became Zombie J of the Wobbly Muscles). Note the wrought iron and the heavy-ass keyboard cases that evidently weigh about as much as 13 me’s. (what, 1.3 tonnes?? okay….!)

You know what eases all this pain though? Vegan ice creamables. Well, not ice cream, and I admit I gazed longingly at the green tea gelato, but opted for the best of the options available to me, which was a nice mix of mango and strawberry sorbert. I’ve had better sorbet (namely, stuff that has flavour beyond “sweet and vaguely fruity”, but still, the treat was super nice.

And then when all was finally done (okay, when the guys were done moving at least) we felt this huge empanada craving, so we headed to La Chilenita on St. Laurent ave, which does this otherworldy good Chilean food. I got the burrito grande, which I (eloquently) described later as “melt-in-your-mouth-face-stuffy”. Everything I was craving and more.

I don’t remember precisely what was in here, but I think this bad picture might refresh my memory… okay, Chilean black beans, slurpy sweet onions, rice, avocado, spicy red sauce, and YES YES TOFU! Not to mention multiple hot sauces on the side for slathering, which was particularly awesome because on the way to this place I specifically wished for rice in a burrito with multiple hot sauces on the side. There must have been restaurant fairies in the air.

Not vegan, but pretty funny — J couldn’t decide which nacho was the most ultimate of nachos worthy of becoming his last bite, and the competition between the two chips got a little out of hand, becoming what I can only describe as Mount Nachos (or alternatively, they kinda look like boobs).

(the one on the left-hand side was declared the unequivocal winner, by the way)

After the dust settled J stayed with me for a few nights before his own plans got worked out, and I took the opportunity to get some real food into his system. Can I mention here that getting food on the table is a whole ‘nother world compared to all-day creative culinary noodling? I thought I did okay here, though. I made Vwav braised cauliflower with 3-seed sauce, chickpea cutlets curry-style (cumin, cayenne, turmeric, lime juice and cilantro), and some peas, for the green factor.

And then a mess of vcon brooklyn macaroni salad, which disappeared over the course of today, amidst a lot of slurping and crunching and digging into tupperware containers. No radish to be had, but I think I prefer it this way with red pepper and scallion instead!

Finally, my new roommate P showed up and we helped her with her own load of boxes, and an offhand suggestion of brownies to commemorate the occasion got followed by the fastest baked good I think I’ve ever thrown together – a nice half-batch of Vcon blueberry brownies. And I think you can tell that patience was none of our virtues and warm gooey blue choco-cakeness was needed in our mouths, and who needs tidy edges anyway? For some crazy reason blueberries and chocolate marry like epic lovers here. I’d ask “who knew?”, but obviously a lot of people did. I’m just super glad I’m in on it now.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeee! Okay, now I sleep forever, and ever and ever and always. Except not, because I’m up tomorrow at 6 for school. But shhh! There’s brownies for breakfast. And that makes everything very OK. :)

There’s this elusive flavour I can never seem to get from recipes. Simple and rustic – maybe old-school hippy if you want to call it that – but utterly delicious in it’s own way, the food of the flaky potlucks I went to in my formative food years. (with roasted veg and homemade bread and vinaigrettes and lasagnas and OMG a trampoline in the backyard???)

Anyway, this pie is so it. Maybe all I had to do was not use a recipe and just try to make lunch, ha! It has millet and leeks and swiss chard and tomato and next time I’ll put walnuts in the crust for nuttiness, but it was really light-yet-satisfying anyway.

And yes, those are garlic-stuffed olives. I am also a fan.

Pictured here are probably the worst (looking) cookies I’ve ever made, but for future reference it’s good to know I can whip up a batch in less than 20 minutes. I halved the sparkled ginger cookies from VwaV, didn’t have molasses, didn’t wait for them to cool, and ran to a picnic, but they were awesome anyway (3 of us wolfed these down in an hour, which should be telling). I think it was the cloves that really wooed me.

Oh, and I lucked out the other day and picked up a whole bunch of super cheap cookbooks at chapters, including Moby’s Teany book, which is impossibly cute and has recipes like matcha-chocolate pudding and plum french toast I really want to try (hurray for cleverly disguised vegan pseudo-cookbooks – it doesn’t say vegan anywhere on it, but I knew. Oh, I knew). The first thing I made was the tvp chicken salad, cause like… sandwich-y crumbly fillings are the best. It needed a lot more mayo and I added basil and bell peppers, but it’s a pretty good base and tasted great on the last of my homemade bread (yay freezers).

And Indira has done it again – I think what I adore most of all about her recipes (besides how easy and downright delicious they always are) is how clean they taste. I didn’t even realize this was her take on Hoppin’ John until I was halfway through making this, but it’s oh-so south indian and SO ADDICTIVE. Like, “please hide the spoon from me” addictive. I love how all of the heat is from black pepper, too, it’s neat. (and it has bok choy instead of mustard greens, so um… that’s three points of the globe coming together for a pottage of homey happy rice? excellent)

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