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I’m almost done my raw week.  It’s been easy in a lot of ways (the food is just as delicious as any “normal” food), and in other ways a bit of a challenge (detox symptoms, having to throw out lots of food that spoiled unexpectedly fast, the whole nut soaking thing, the whole raw food extremism thing)…

It’s actually going to be bittersweet easing back into regular food, I think.  I don’t feel any huge inclination towards it at the moment, even though I know that someone as flighty and spacey as me really does flourish better on the standard vegan fare.  But that said… I should get onto the food of this week, more or less a meal by meal replay of all the lego-bright dishes I got to have the time of my life constructing.

Okay, so this is technically a pre-raw warm-up (haha, warm up, is that a pun?).  I made a carrot/tomato/miso soup to see how I’d feel about it all, thick with pumpkin seeds and bowl-licking good, and so….
I jumped in headfirst.  Would you look at that?  It looks like a deep-sea fish it’s so pretty.  A lot of green, but worth it.  The sprouted chickpea hummous in those wraps kept me going for snack times for the first few days, and the minty cucumber dressing from Vegan World Fusion doubled as a salad topper and a soup, before spoiling way too fast as these enzymic dishes are wont to do.  Alas, alas!
Avocado was also a life-saver, as I never felt warmer or more satisfied than after a meal that incorporated it.  I mashed this one up with rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger, and made showy crunchy (astoundingly good) sushi rolls.  And a fruit salad with loquat and date syrup beside it.
Breakfast of day 2: the incarnation of my oatmeal habit!
Raw oats ground up in a spice grinder, with a heavy pinch of ground flaxseed, half a mashed banana, berries and lots of salt and cinnamon, left to soak overnight.  I’m keeping this one!  I’d been getting tired of regular oatmeal and this is perfect for summer and very laid back.  You have to choose fairly soft fruit for best results, but again – peaches, berries, tropical things – all available right now!  It’s very nutty and satisfying to have for breakfast.
Lunch day 2: Zucchini bites with spicy hummous, a salad of shredded carrot, red pepper, soaked walnuts and red wine vinegar (yum!!), and broccoli tossed with cucumber dressing.
Dinner that night was my first green smoothie.  I will admit I thought it the concept very strange at first, at least before I took my first sip.  Is it totally an unabashedly weird that I love the taste of green things in my smoothie now?  It adds a neat texture and a resonant kind of garden note that makes it more of a meal to me.  Especially wonderful with banana and pomegranate juice, I might add.
I’m skipping breakfast reports because they’re all variations on the raw oat groat thing, but…
Lunch day 3: A curried miso carrot dressing on spinach with avocado chunks and dried pineapple pieces – ZOMG.  Genius.  And some cucumber dressing in a bowl trying to be soup as I attempt to slurp it all up before it goes bad.  
Dinner 3: My attempt at flatbread without a dehydrator resulted in (of course) a lot of prematurely fuzzy food, but there was a small grace period where it was semi-firm enough to eat as bread and I made little sandwiches with homemade sumac tahini cheese, and some green beans tossed with organic stone-ground mustard and lemon.
Dinner day 4: pizza!
(lunch seems to be missing from the record)
The pizza is topped with sage-y sundried tomato marinara, green pepper, onions, pineapple, almond cheese, and artichoke hearts.
Lunch day 5: Possibly in the top 5 sandwiches I’ve ever eaten, is this Haiku Wrap from Juliano’s contribution to The Complete Book of Raw Food.  It has avocado mashed with garlic, ginger and lemon topped with wakame, mustard, pickle, burdock, bell pepper, onion, corn and shoyu – and it’s a magical, magical combination.  (carrot slaw with sprouted peanuts keeping the sammiches upright on either side).
Dinner 5: Another one of those raw standbys I never understood (like the green smoothie), was the zucchini pasta thing, but you know what?  It’s pasta-like, and not salad-like as I thought it would be!  Really good, actually, enough to repeat it later.  And the things that look like eggs are crunchy turnip slices topped with nut cheese.
Lunch 6: Cabbage burrito-wraps with cumin and chili sunflower pate inside (along with corn and tomatoes and green onions and things).  With a side of Pringle lookalikes (but really it’s delicious turnip) and nut cheese again for my new favourite take on nachos.  Soaking the slices in cold water gives them the perfect chip shape and makes them sweeter, too!
And that’s not to say there were no sweets!  I made some tahini-geranium cookies, that I could upload but they look pretty much like little brown discs.  The brownies are gorgeous, though!  I ground up some sprouted and dried buckwheat into flour and combined it with dates, ground almonds, walnuts, carob powder, salt and vanilla and proceeded to nom NOM NOM them up because they were so amazing!!  I highly recommend the buckwheat flour thing, I have a container of the sprouts in my freezer right now and it gives things a more cake-like texture than the usual wodgy raw dessert texture.
And here’s a plate full of desserts I took to a raw potluck last night.  Clockwise from the top left are salty sunflower seed cookies, then those buckwheat brownies with a banana-fudge frosting, then coconut-cashew-agave crusted pear tarts with gojis on top, and finally like orange & clove oatmeal raisin cookies!  So much fun, and so easy to just make a few servings of anything, and experiment all over the place!  I definitely got into the habit of whizzing up just a single cookie for after lunch sometimes when I needed something for my sweet tooth.
Potluck food itself was possibly the BEST vegan thing any non-vegan has ever made for when I came to dinner.  It was a sundried tomato-cashew romesco sauce over marinated eggplant and it was mindblowingly good.  I think it was from a book by the same people who did Raw Food/Real World, if you wanted to try it, and you might want to add extra orange juice like my friend did and eat every indulgence-soaked aubergine triangle with additional gusto for having done so.  :)
Day 7….
….   it’s day 7?  It’s the end of the week?
Do you realize I didn’t realize that until about halfway through writing this post and counting up the dates?  Oh my goodness, I suppose that means I’m done and I should ground myself now.  Part of me wants to keep going, and in fact… *goes off to buy bananas for a few minutes*
* a few minutes later *
Well… on the way down the stairs to the market, oh what do I smell but buttery wafts of rice and faint hints of curry? and whoa-p, there goes MY 100% raw convinction!  That, and charred hot dogs on the street as I walked… and I’d like to feel like myself again, I think. :D
A few things I noticed, though, to sum up the week…
* it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive at all to eat raw.  I stuck mostly to almonds and sunflower seeds for nut protein, which can be relatively cheap.  And I didn’t indulge in the condiments like nama shoyu and special apple cider vinegar or anything.  If anything it might have been cheaper due to me not buying coffee all the time.  OH YEAH I QUIT COFFEE FOR A WEEK.  !  Craziness.
* nut soaking liquid is super mucilagous and gross, and I’ll probably soak most things now if I think of it beforehand.
* white wine was okay to drink, as was whiskey (although I’m pretty used to whiskey).  Red wine on the other hand, made me terribly achey for a whole day after drinking it, and then the ache turned into a kinda “detox ache” that I’ve still got in my calves when I bend over too far.  
* a couple drying racks set in front of a sunny window was my dehydrator, and it worked pretty well for cookies and buckwheat sprouts.  Terrible for bread though, and I wouldn’t even try crackers.  Oh yeah, and sun tea!  Tasty stuff!  And not even that long to make, maybe a few hours in the sun for amber-steeped liquid.
* I caved once, for a bunch of artichokes I got for free, but wouldn’t you?  All succulent and dipped in lime & olive oil???  I’d never tried artichokes before and it was my chance right there, so I don’t feel bad.  And they are, by the way, not nearly as hard to make and eat as advertised and mysteriously sweet and I ate the stems too, YUM.
* Guess that’s it!  And I’m so making pizza, man, like, soon.
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So I’ve posted a hundred times since the inception of this wee blog! Looking back… there’s been some very proud moments, some not-so proud moments, an epic battle or two, my first batch of cupcakes ever, a heckuva lot of sushi, even more things made with blueberries, and for the record, since acquiring the veganomicon last november, I’m officially over halfway through! (150 recipes finished, I think?).

And I do post almost everything I make that is beautiful/interesting/weird, or at least a good basis for a joke, but just for today I think I’ll pull back the curtain on what really gets eaten around here, pretty much every day. Basically, If I haven’t posted about it, it’s certain to be one of these things:

Oatmeal!

Oh oatmeal, oh lovely, oh OATY and predictable. How much do I love thee? Enough to adapt my schedule around your warm and nutty scent? Enough to know the subtle bouquets of every bulk bin oatflake within a 4 block radius? Enough to wistfully ALMOST NEVER make pancakes (at least not before 5 pm)? To have a designated oatmeal-spice section of the cupboard (with the special dates that I buy just for the porridge)? To own specialty equipment designed for your fluffiness?

Oh yes. Most certainly. And did you know that mango is fabulous in it? As are blueberries, but you probably knew I was going to say that. ;P

Natto Bowl / Miso Soup!

I got converted, most definitely hooked on natto since I first tried it. With a little squodge of perfectly cooked brown rice and loads of veggie on top, it’s no-effort and nourishing and really really yummy.

And as a bonus you can freak people out with the stringiness of it all. And as another bonus —- the cutest girl in the entire world eating natto!

(as for miso soup… everything I’ve said about the above applies, + floating bits of hot jiggly salty tofu, – stringiness. YUM)

Tomato Soup!

As for dinner, I’ve decided to not be ashamed of this anymore. After all – it’s an icon, it’s a cultural equalizer, and it tastes REALLY GOOD with cheezy crackers. It has a full serving of vegetables, enough salt to kill you, some white sugar ’cause we love that stuff, and oh my gaaaad is it comforting. I love you tom soup. Love love love. With cashews and cilantro and mexican veggies. With olives and balsamic and onion. With readymade curry paste, or stir fry sauce, or over rice, and especially with frozen peas floating in it. It’s soaked up many a night of drinking, been a cheap meal when I couldn’t afford more, and goddamnit… it just tastes good. LOVE! :DDD

*cough*

Soooooo yeah. That’s my secret diet. My non-postable eatables. Regular schmanciness with resume, oh, probably at the crack of dawn tomorrow. I’ve been making cakes. Multiple cakes! And thanks to everyone for your support and comments and love and ideas and basically just making this whole blog-thing worthwhile. I couldn’t have grown so much or tried so many new things without you! <3

Well… like a lot of bloggers it seems I have to bear the news that I may not be able to keep up with commenting or even posting quite so often as before (still often – blogging gets my sillies out, and is thus very vital!). I think it’s a summer thing. Also, much MUCH drawing to be finished, books to read, hanging out to do… the usual.

Anyway, that craziness up there is natto! Weird food, but strangely delicious. It’s a fermented soybean that they eat a lot in japan, with brown rice, chopped scallion and soy sauce, and I’ve gotten kinda hooked on it. It’s full of B12, too (the absorption of which is still in debate, but I’ll take my nutrients as I get ’em).

And I tried, oh I did, to give up the oatmeal thing in the morning, but I was crazy hungry by 11 am and went screaming for banana oatmeal bread – go figure. So I’m back, but I’m switching up the flavours and it’s so much more fun this way! So far I’ve tried it with gomasio, kelp and toasted sesames (very good, savoury… completely unphotogenic though), and this morning was amazing – ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, candied ginger, dates, flax seeds and lots of perfect fresh blueberries.

Dinner number 2! Clockwise from the left, it’s leftover paratha; sliced mango and avocado; steamed kale; smoky red bean and quinoa croquettes; Vcon gazborscht; big green salad; and get this —- Aux Vivres chana masala!! P brought it from work and it’s the exact stuff they put in my favourite menu item there, the chickpea chapati wrap. It’s fatty and addictive and hee hee! We have secret restaurant food! :DD

*sexy shot of the oh-so refreshing gazborscht with homegrown cilantro*

*sexy shot of the quinoa croquettes* (recipe follows, ooh!)

Smoky Red Bean & Quinoa Croquettes (makes about 15, maybe… I’m guessing)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cooked red quinoa
2 cups cooked red beans (or blackeyed peas)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced and steamed
1/2 red pepper, diced small
1 cup spinach, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp gluten flour
2 tbsp flax meal
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp Braggs or tamari
3/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
juice of 1/2 lime
1/8 tsp Liquid Smoke
2 tsps olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Mush half of the beans and leave the rest whole. In a large bowl, combine everything together along with the beans and mush with your hands until it forms a very thick paste.

2. Scoop out about a 1/3 of a cup and form it into a patty. Repeat, repeat.

3. Heat a bit of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat and cook for about 4 minutes each side, or until nicely browned and slightly firm. Serve with guacamole and chips, or fresh corn, or mango.

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!

So, a spurdle (or spurtle, or spirtle, or – of all things – theevil) is a Scottish porridge-stirring stick. I’d known about their existence for a while, but had never seen one in stores, and really wasn’t sure how much of a difference it would make versus a wooden spoon. It’s supposed to keep the oats from breaking up too much, and by golly it actually works like that! I felt like I was wielding a fairy wand when I used it for the first time. It makes really fluffy oats. yay! I also got a gigantinormous glass jar of my favourite brand of porridge, and an bowl-cozy with moo-cow pattern on it, cos my mum knows me sooooo well and knows I would squee like a wee kid for all the oatmeal bling. I wonder how many times I can say oatmeal? :o

I’m also pretty keen on stirring deosil – clockwise, instead of widdershins – counter-clockwise, lest the faeries come and steal my first born or turn me to ice or at any rate have their evil fun with me. You can’t be too careful!

The Banana Wheat Germ Muffins from the Veganomicon are really nice, too. Slightly crispy as advertised, verrrrry light, almost cupcake-y in texture. I wish I had remembered to stir the walnuts inside, but they’re pretty on top. I also might add another banana to the recipe, or use bananas that were more ripe and flavorful, but anyway they were tasty. (use the whole tbsp of cinnamon! It’s not too much)

Mmmm! This is my breakfast, every single day of every single week and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a huuuuge bowl of toasty oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg and chopped dates (and a pretty generous amount of salt). I sit down with this like an old friend every morning and proceed to eat it i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y slowly, reading a good book, for about 2 hours. hee!


I do have to mention how involved something this simple can be, though. Every bag of oats is different, and I gotta taste and smell and taste again to get everything JUST right. Timing for texture is everything! Anyway, here’s the super simple recipe :

Date-Jewelled Oatmeal
(makes enough for 2, or if you’re me, 1)

2/3 cup of regular rolled oats
1 1/3 cups cold water
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
a couple grates of fresh ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground ginger or allspice (optional)
1/4 cup chopped dates
salt to taste

– put the water and almond milk on to boil, covered
– once it’s boiling, toss in the oats and give it a good stir, reduce heat to med-low and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes
– I like it when the liquid has turned creamy and smooth, but not too gummy, which is a pretty narrow window, so watch carefully!
– stir in the spices, salt and fruit, then pour it into your friendliest bowl, sit down with a piping mug of coffee and go eat breakfast like a champ!

This is the best mug EVER, by the way. ^_^

PS: Tips For Keeping Your Oatmeal Warm For Crazy Amounts Of Time —

Put a saucer-plate on top of the bowl and nestle the whole thing in the folds of a tea-towel (or if you’re like me, a bedspread). Warm for hours!

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