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Well, Liz has broken out the nerdy google-searched JPEGS of sci-fi references again – and that means of course that it’s time to go back in time!   Woooo-eeeee-oooooooooh.

Back to a time way yonder… the wee beginning of August when I was just as likely to accidentally eat a blob of quinacridone pink as I was to absent-mindedly get soy sauce on my paintings.  Ie; (in simple terms) I was busy!  Meals had to be almost cute in their ease of preparation, with the notable exception of some bento experiments, but I’ll get to those later on….
Avocado kinda saved my life, the patron saint of summer classes, I think.  And while these look humble, and I’m a pure sucker for anything wrapped in a warm corn tortilla (and I mean just about anything) – this was a good and special combo.  Guacamole, corn, & chicken-baked white beans, with big chunks of onion ’cause I roll like that but you could leave them off I’m sure.  Addictive but satisfying.

And then avocado with fritterFAIL (it’s now hash!)

Even better than the tacos?  It has sweet potato this time.

I got a huge bag of white pitas for free because there was a big nasty fly paper stuck to the side and the store couldn’t sell it, so I tasted white flatbread for the first time in forever.  Can I confess that it’s kind of particularly delicious?  At least if you haven’t had it in a while.  Way sweeter than whole wheat, and makes excellent sausage, pepper and onion pizzas.  With big chunks of onion.  Because I roll like that!

Believe it or not, dorayaki are a quick lunch, too!  You just have to really cheat with the anko paste.  And cheater anko paste can be way healthier, too, because you can pull the sugar WAY back.  Basically just mash up some hot cooked adzukis with just enough sugar to make them lip-smacking, and just enough salt to make them more-ish, then make two fairly rich pancakes to sandwich it with.  And put loads of vegetables on the side so you can pretend it’s a sort of balanced meal.  (which okay it probably is, just sucrose heavy.   MMMMMM sucrose.  MMMM dorayaki).

MMMMM CHOCOLATE PANCAKES DORAYAKI   

I am feeling the Japanese, can you tell?  This lunch took forever.  Like, all morning to make, no joke.  Worth it in every way, though!  My first onigiri, everybody, and let nobody tell you that it’s just rice in a ball shape, it is so much more than that.  Even if you’ve made them yourself, they still taste all full of the love it took to construct them (the reddened burned hands, the totally occupied stovetop, the swearing at nori seaweed as it refuses to cover them completely). 
The first day I made 3 –
1 triangle filled with avocado (yes again!), tiny cubed cucumber, wasabi, green onion and salt.
The 2nd triangle was filled with tiny cubes of braised sweet potato and shitake mushrooms done in kombu no tsukudani style except without sugar ’cause they’re sweet already.  (SO umami)
And the 3rd piece was mixed up with red beans, sesame seeds and umeboshi vinegar.   yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum yum !

(rounding out my oh-so stylish tupperware is some lightly steamed broccoli sprinkled with shoyu, an Nin Jiom herbal candy, a strawberry lollipop, and some yellow baby carrot pickles I made myself and have been eating like candy from the back of the fridge.).  
It was a terrible blustery sweater-weather day when I took this downtown to eat it before putting in a long night at the studio, but after I got my green tea and an interesting seat to watch people from, and I took the first bite of my first pointy rice-ball…. I couldn’t help but smile like a tyke.  Really!  It’s all worth the effort for that first nori-wrapped bite.

oh yeah, Mr. Wasp thinks rice balls are delicious too.  I have mixed feelings about this one.  Shooo off my meticulous lunch there, little guy, sheesh!

Back on the fast track – the quickest cookies to make are shortbreads, of course.  And an herbal-loving friend had a recent crisis requiring me to spend at least a bit of time baking.  Basic basic shortbread, but with rose oil and black tea leaves.  The tea didn’t impart any flavour I don’t think, but it added a really pleasant crispy texture!

And finally, my favourite – muffins!  Featuring (do you see this coming?)…. avocado!  Yep, avocado replacing almost all the oil, date syrup replacing all the sugar, 50/50 whole wheat & oat flour, with orange juice, cloves, and a scattering of chocolate chips to seal up the deal.  100% eyeballed recipe, but it’s really hard to screw up a muffin, which is why I secretly adore them more than cake maybe.   These ones were surprisingly decadent with their buttery nuggets of green dotted throughout.  Totally a win.

And then I finished my last studio class ever!  Hurray!  
No more turpentine, no more (mounting) hooks, no more security guards’ dirty looks, la la la la la  :)
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I’m going camping in a few days. Camping at the Sumkidz Om festival for a week of community-building discussions, burlesque workshops, art jams, fire spinning, gigantic Ontarian skeeters, the smell of fresh woods, and hopefully spending a good chunk of my time in the free open-air volunteer kitchen that they have every year. Open-air and vegan, even. There’s a special meal planned for the full moon on wednesday, and the annual 1000-garlic clove firey Shanger Sauce for friday! Not to mention the actual solstice night meal… I’m pretty excited. The food runs entirely on donations by festival goers, so amidst mountains of oranges and potatoes there are always some crazy treasures like chia seeds and galangal and ume vinegar that get used in the most tasty of ways. The salads alone are a touch of exquisite!

I even made some homemade larabars to take with me for tent-munching, aren’t they adorable? :D

I can’t wait to get out of this city and get rid of a few of my less-useful ideas about the world to make a fresh clean start in the second half of the year. And I’ll for certain have copious feast photos and a few more culinary tricks up my sleeve when I get back around the 24th!

One last thing I have to post about is this beautiful burrito picnic we had a few nights ago to say goodbye to the city. Except for the chips, everything was homemade, even the whole wheat flax tortillas. The salsa was piquant and freshilicious, there was creamy cheesy cashew dip, the best guacamole I’ve ever had, refried black beans I would give my eye-teeth to get the recipe for, rice, lettuce, cilantro, lime, and little purple plums for dessert. Like kings we ate, and played guitar, and watched the park get soft and dusky to the sound of a raining fountain, bellies full of cumin and feeling no lack for anything, at least on that night.

Back in ten days!

Yep, those are jackfruit carnitas taco-deliverers of spicy delish! This is all part of my grand master plan to celebrate all and every holiday that means I get to eat party food on a monday night. And thank you Melisser for the recipe!

Oh, and it really is cause for celebration, since I got these wonderful things in the mail a few days ago – JCD’s More Than Twigs & Berries zine, which is full of recipes I can’t wait to try out, like soup with homemade noodles, nanaimo bars and peanut butter banana muffins! And my first postcard in the ppk mail-art swap came! (thanks Pixel!)

I love getting things in the mail… in fact so much that my local postage-guy (who curiously works every single day, all day) seems more than a little amused every time I walk up to the counter with yet more mysterious and brightly-stickered/doodled packages and letters… postage is like a treasure system, really.

(oh, and the zine is crinkled like that cause I’ve already cooked with it :)

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.

Eek, I have a bunch of photos and the memories are fading by the second, I should get right into my ovening activities for my last few days in Ottawa —

I was actually sick of baking when I threw this together, but can you possibly guess why one would make a batch of ppk graham crackers if not for something spectacular in the future? Those with an eye for pie will like the final destination of these cookies! (also these ARE in my top ten favourite cookies ever and might have made them anyway, even if I did have zero luck finding honey-less graham crackers in the store).

And a dinner at my dad’s is not complete without a tray of mysterious cupcakes carefully towered on a pretty tray and ready for omni appraisal (usually, “oooh, something frosted!!”). I wanted to make the orange pudding cupcakes from VCtotW, but I didn’t have orange juice, so I decided to be intrigued by the apparent roll of the dice that is the V-con Jelly Donut Cupcakes.

Turned out well! Only 2 craters and I kinda thought they were cute. Tastewise they were nutmeg-y and very sweet, maybe heavier than I like normally, but definitely donut-esque. Sis liked them enough to eat 3 and tell me to make ones with frosting next time. :P

Oh yeah, she also requested a cake. In the middle of a jigsaw puzzling session, I offer (as I do) to make her something to eat, and she says cake. SUCH A GOOD REQUEST. And I refuse to use a recipe, and throw flour and oft-used ingredients around in such a way as to come out with…. a damned good teeny tiny cake thing. That I eyeballed. So cool. (that’s peanut butter swirl on top and a tasty carob-chip dome in the middle. We all agreed it would rock the universe with a fudge layer, too bad I can’t recreate it, haha)

My last morning we hit the Wild Oat bakery for breakfast and I shoot this terrible photo of the mmmnummy El Oxuaca sandwich. Yes, I pronounced the X when I ordered it. No, I haven’t been to Me-hee-co. For absolute certain I melted for the combination of sundried tomato tapenade + black bean spread + avocado, tomato, cilantro and greens on nutty multigrain bread that had travelled about five or six metres from the oven to hit my table. Good stuff.

Having filled our bellies with sound food and zinging with health, it stood to reason that a trip to Sugar Mountain might be just the thing to ruin all that sprout-eating. Yay! I got aniseed balls (my favourite) and salted licorice. But I couldn’t eat the licorice! Yes, I checked at home and there’s our old friend beeswax stuck on the outside of that lovely salty sweet like a microscopic force-field of candy denial. It’s a very good thing I discovered that the chinese salted licorice-y plums I bought the other day (called Li Hing Mui apparently) are infinitely superior to regular salted licorice, so I don’t mind so much now and I just suck on dried fruit. :)

Also, I made the Smlove. (graham cracker speculation can be laid to rest now).

I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would… It was kinda like chewing on a big wad of baking chocolate… but I AM weird and have been known to dislike fantastic things. Am I kicked out of veganism now? :D

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

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