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I have to mention this specially. I can’t not mention it. It’s a service to tongues everywhere to spread the word that Jamaican Stew is where it’s at!! I didn’t really plan it but it came together so magically, and I’m really happy at how my first “giant pot of something that should ideally feed me through the week” turned out. I even did up the last handful of my jasmine rice in celebration.

Incidentally I’m running out of pantry supplies like there’s no tomorrow and I’m only replacing the basics because I want to buy paintbrushes and hang out with a certain valentine. And that’s okay! I’m still cooking, it’s just adding a different spin on it.

Anyway, seriously seriously make this, it is really comforting yet sprightly (and delicious!)

Pseudo-Jamaican Stew

1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 turnip (baseball-sized), peeled and diced
1 large carrot, sliced
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 bell pepper, diced (I used yellow)
2 whole red dried chiles (or fresh scotch bonnet if you have it!)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp ground allspice
loads of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (check and add more if needed)
2 cups water (or broth)
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 16 oz. can red kidney beans
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
a few generous shots of tabasco

jasmine rice (for under!)
green onions (for over!)

1. Soften the onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat (with the oil of course), until they’re translucent and aromatic.
2. Add the turnip, carrot and cauliflower and cook until things look slightly tanned.
3. Add the bell pepper, all the spices, and cook another minute.
4. Add the water and canned things. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer, partially covered for at least half an hour, or until the turnip basically is cooked through and the liquid looks broth-like.
5. Stir in the vinegar, tabasco. Check for salt and pepper. Serve over rice with lots of finely chopped green onion on top.

(I’ll be licking the tupperware when that moment comes!)

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. :)

I had the best time in Ottawa with the fam, having free reign of flours and sugars, and access to an oven that’s probably 4 times the size of my own. Not to mention plenty of eaters of baked goods! I have a hard time justifying sweet recipes at home, as all I really need is a cookie here and there. But near the end of my stay I was just churning out sugar-soaked excellence everywhere and it was actually getting eaten (and quickly!). Kinda heavenly. I’m also considering taking a pastry course after uni or something… I’d like to take some culinary classes too but I don’t know how the veganism will factor into that… are there vegetarian culinary schools (with prestige) at least? Anyway, the cookies up there are the oatmeal raisin cookies from the Veganomicon. They smelled like skinned knees and school lunches, and even replace Larabars nicely as travelling rations! (half regular thompson raisins and half organic flame raisins).

I like to think of this as clash of the transitory seasons – spring and fall duking it out! It’s the 101 Cookbooks roasted butternut and farro salad making time with those strawberries. But it worked!

And then I made Vcon red and white bean seitanic jambalaya with Old Bay-spiced Julie Hasson sausages, sauteed collards and french bread — ooooooh, if only I could eat like this every night! It’s funny, cause I loathed sausages as on omni (they tasted like grease and salt and ACK, parts), but I’m a nut for the gluten kind. Everyone got sick the day I made this so I was a little aghast at the mass amount of food left over, but it made killer leftovers all week, and people kept pulling it out of the fridge as if seeing it for the first time with renewed interest in the smoky goodness.

Another perk to cooking at home – there are always random things around that need using up that I can be happily surprised by. Like a half tin of peaches! I had to make the Fatfree Vegan peach upside-down cake of course, which CAN be quartered, it can be done! I admittedly put a splash of canola in this, but that was a teaspoon maybe, and it came out like almost like a peach donut, if that makes sense. Really really good! I’d want to experiment with cornmeal I think, when I try again with real peaches.

Yummmm, Vcon curried carrot dip made my crackers sing! It should be called pâté, really, it’s that good. Especially with parsley on Ryvita.

And a barbecue came up, I wanted to make margarita cupcakes, but I’m SO glad I made mini jalapeno-onion corn muffins instead. Portability-wise, much better, and much more casual. I think I described the heat of the peppers as “haunting” and I stand by that. I wasn’t sure if they would work out, since I used rinsed pickled jalapenos instead of fresh (+ sugar / – salt to make up for that), but they DID work and the end result was pretty addictive.

We had zombie day dinner very late this year so here’s the holiday plate! Steamed fresh asparagus, black bean and mango salad, rosemary roasted potatoes, salad with lots of fruits and toasted hazelnuts, and leftover tofu scramble, yum!

Aaaaand…. I did in fact make the cupcakes! The orange and redcurrant ones! OMG SO MOIST AND DELISH. wee! (ha ha, as my memory fades so does my ability to articulate). They were springy, poppable, juicy and tender-good, ya.

Phew, backlog of photos done, hurray! It was a bit of a week!

I love end of term. I love the delirium, and the not-sleeping, and the out-and-out stress of it all. No, actually I hate all those things, but I DO love how productive I get in all other areas that aren’t school. I made a bunny! It’s for my sister, and I’m seriously considering starting an Etsy shop (even though that would mean getting a – *shudder* – credit card). I could see myself sewing on summer afternoons on a regular basis, plus I’d get to make adorable things all the time. Also, supplemental income – always nice. (she’s wearing an apron which makes her OK for a food blog, btw ;)

Onto the white beans! What better than Vcon pasta fazooool to throw together in less than 15 minutes so I can pretend my priorities lie with paper-writing and not in the kitchen? Nothing, it’s totally the best thing! I liked this a lot, though the inclusion of beans in anything pretty much guarantees I’ll be nuts for it. And I totally stand by eating this on spaghetti, it ups the challenge factor, and you can’t slurp tiny pastas as far as I know. (at least, not with the modicum of neanderthal grace I allow myself when I’m snarfing noodles alone, ha!)

And yummy lunch today was Vcon hot-sauce glazed tofu, baked sweet potato and really really cheater baked beans (white beans + bbq sauce). More than enough fuel to proofread. And not get distracted by Harvest Moon. With any luck! Course, I am stuffed and groggy now and could use some time attempting to woo the bartender’s daughter, hee hee. I’m so responsible. :)

(as for the tofu, it was spooky – I could almost sense the tempeh in the store calling out for this marinade, insisting that tofu was way better suited to more delicate things. I only vaguely recall what tempeh even tastes/feels like, but I’m pretty sure it would rock so much more than the ‘fu here. That said I was practically sipping the leftover glaze!)

Thank you so much to Veggie from the So What Do Vegetarians Eat Anyway blog for giving me a blogging award of excellence! Her blog is quite excellent as well and she’s a fellow Ontarian, too! I’ll do my best to not post when I’m tired and cranky and hopefully live up the that pretty little Jpeg of awesome. ;) As for passing this along, I’ll send it to Vegetalion, Dabbles with Apples, Tofu For Two, The Metal Femme’s Vegan Living, and Don’t Lose Your Lunch!, even though there are SO many others that deserve it, these are the first 5 that come to mind.

And sweetie Lori of Pleasantly Plump Vegan has tagged me to reveal 5 facts about myself, which I hope I can manage without going off of a bunch of tangents! Ha ha, anyway, here goes:

1. As much as I seem pretty slothful (and I am), I used to teach snowboarding and yeah, I was pretty darn good at it, too.

2. I’m a super geek – comics, anime, sci-fi, fantasy rpgs, video games, you name it, I probably have some history of obsession with it. Especially Final Fantasy and the Chrono series, and wacky shows like FLCL and Haibane Renmai. I also have a black/blue Magic card deck that could probably smoke your artifact-deck to little pieces. :D

3. Both my parents are from B.C., and I think I have a bit of a west coast accent, at least I drawl out my short A’s sometimes, especially if I’m feeling lazy.

4. My favourite colour is red.

(Incidentally I’m addicted to hot sauce. I went through half a tube of harissa yesterday, just by squirting it on pickles as a snack! :P)

5. I hate sleep. I’m constantly sleep-deprived because I think staying in bed is SOOOOO boring. Eek, right?

(BONUS FACT, because it’s the most important thing about me and I forgot to mention it — I live and breathe food, it’s true, you know that. But to give some sort of perspective, my mind is actually divided 44%/60%/6% – Food, Art, and Not Tripping Over Stuff. For the record. :D)

So that’s five (or more) random things about me. And now I’m passing this on to….. , Vegan Soul Power, Adventures in Vegan Cooking, Bitchin’ Vegan Kitchen, Epicurvegan, and Half Baked Vegan. Yay for getting to know everyone better!

And just so this post isn’t entirely devoid of food, here’s the best video on Youtube, ever —-

It’s official. I’m obsessed, and seriously considering trying every single recipe in the Veganomicon. (maybe I’ve just got a thing for crossing off titles in the front of the book with a little pencil, haha).

I made the enchiladas!

Worst photo ever. I don’t care, it’s the most delicious photo, taken by me already slightly tipsy on whiskey-coke and just about mouth-gasming all over the place for the Sour-Cilantro Cream as it mingled with the firey enchilada sauce and by some miracle of chemistry the two together tasted like something quite like but much much better than cheese. This will haunt my dreams for a while, I just know it…

I made the filling with sweet potatoes and black beans, because Ben-sen and Co. are irresponsible vegetarians and they need more protein in their lives, and also, potato? why stop there? Sweet potatoes are sweet, and mexican food without beans seems sacriligious somehow. I really couldn’t imagine this dish without the creamy sweetness and earthy tones that were there. Like, I know it would be awesome, but I’m glad I made it this way.

Also, I used firm (not silken) tofu in the cilantro cream and I left out the oil and just whipped the bejeezus out of it for a long time with a stick blender – the result being a perfect smooth dolloping consistency and I hardly feel bad at all for inhaling the leftovers. Would it be wrong to make a batch, swirl in some salsa, crumble some chips over top and call it soup? I see that in my future, I really do… some summer night for sure.

And here’s the centrefold ——

Kick. Ass. I cut off the tip of my left index finger while making this and I really really didn’t care. The roasting green chiles were punching through the air and I was Kitchen Warrior, holding my hand at a funny angle to rip apart kale and trying not to bleed all over the place too badly. I didn’t even realize there was part of my nail missing until I closed the oven door and started the timer. What a rush! (this is what happens when you say you can pull off dinner for five in 1.5 hours, oy!)

And dessert? Oh, there’s dessert! I made the Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding from VwaV, since I wanted something low-key to finish with, and I’d never tried rice pudding before, and I am sooooo glad that peoples were too stuffed from dinner to even think about the pudding in the fridge, ’cause now I have bowls upon bowls of luscious, spicy chocolate ricelove to eat all by myself. Chocolate ricelove with cayenne in it, even. Leftovers have never been a more tempting prospect… :o

A: These are the bombest thing I ever did taste. SO GOOD THEY ARE. All crispy and indian-y and fresh from the chutney. And super easy. I added more cumin and mustard seed, and dolloped with cilantro paste and red chile sauce and I was in total carb heaven. Mmmmmmm.

B: I finally finally finally have a real camera!!!!!!!! I love you, CanonA560, you rule. I love how you capture the freezerburntness of my peas with exquisite detail, and are about 374 million times easier to use than a macbook camera, and a squillion times prettier. I’m certain that eventually I’ll actually be able to use you all proper-like, but for now I’m revelling in the freedom to shoot from any angle I want! Oooooh.