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Mmm… it’s one of those mornings I grab a sweater and a coffee and just start working on stuff, in this case blogging.  To me that’s so evocative of autumn, which has begun to be noticed in the air.  I’m supposed to be selling postcards at an outdoor craft show/sidewalk sale today and the sky is a dark dark grey, with a snappy chill and a risk of rain… So I’m enjoying the indoor lamplight while I can, and getting the most out of every second I can hang out in my plushy pajama pants.  (pajama pants being the best invention ever, probably).
It seems appropriate to blog about the last of the summer meals, in this case.  Cold refreshing food I might not be as interested in in just a few days… zarusoba being an iconic example.  Despite owning a package of soba noodles the size of my head, I only just recently made up the appropriate dipping sauce to go with it so I could eat it summer style, cold with nori shavings on top.  If it’s still warm where you are, I recommend it so much!  And I insist that you slurp it, sucking up air in a perfect satisfying hoover as you eat, because it really does improve the flavour about 50% – I think it has to do with almost smelling it as you eat.
Perfect technique, so demure, and yet loads of delicious delicious air in every bite!  Now I kinda want fat soft udon, yumm……

This is a vegetable curry Pomme and I made using a lot of inspiration from this book, a seafood curry to be exact.  So it was a mix of turmeric, basil, mint, cayenne, paprika, pepper and lemon, which I thought was really novel (and very delicious).  Eaten with wheat berries for carbohydrates (defrosted from the freezer because you can do that), and a cucumber salad I made with chunks of ruby red cactus pear.  The seeds of cactus pears are hard like little BBs, but the melon taste and beautiful colour is worth it, like a poor man’s watermelon maybe.
Of those occasional small-batch cookies I make sometimes after meal, these mint chocolate brownie bites were knee-meltingly good!!  I wish I’d written things down, but there’s ground almonds in there, plus vanilla, mint, pockets of chocolate chips, and the texture was like 2-bite brownies, amazing.  Biting into them was a world-stopping experience, which probably means I added enough cocoa powder to the mix. ;P
Sometimes hash, just straight up hash is perfect.  Smoky sausages, in season tomatoes, little baby basil leaves, and enough salt and pepper to tie it together = wish I had more sausages so I could make this for lunch right now!
Finally, I’d had a tomato tart on the brain all summer.  Every week went by and I wondered when I would do it, if I would remember, if all the ambrosial blushing tomatoes would disappear from the markets en masse before I got the chance to make that pie.  But I did remember!  Luck would have it that I came upon a huge package of gorgeous organic tomatoes for a steal, and I hopped on the chance to bake them oh-so briefly in hardly more than their own juices.

I used a cornmeal pizza crust recipe from here, replaced most of the cornmeal with masa harina, spread the bottom with grainy mustard, thyme leaves, and drizzled it with olive oil before baking.  
And while I folded up the edges to make it more like a tart, I quickly found out that hand-to-mouth was the ideal method of eating this – it was a pizza at heart, and a robust and juicy one, too.  I still can’t think of any way I’d rather eat tomatoes right now!

Oh right!  That wasn’t the last thing, this is ^  Celine’s peanut butter granola!  oooooooooooh!
I replaced the PB with a Peanut-hazelnut blend, used hazelnut oil instead of canola, and left out the chocolate and it’s absolutely fantastic.  I hardly need to rave about how it melts away on the tongue and is just kissed with sweet and is full of toasty flax and is easy to make… because most of you have made this I’m sure, or at least if you haven’t you should and you can have a batch of oven-fresh granola in less time than it takes to run out and buy some.  
Kind of makes me wish I had some milk or yogurt around ever, but a jar of this in the fridge will disappear from nibbling fingers soon enough anyway, I assure you. ;)
Next post: an adventure in ninja-vegan waffle cones!


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.

Happy Chinese new year everyone! For once I actually got to celebrate it, in a way – and on the correct day as well! At least, this was my lunch on the 26th. What tickles me more than anything is that I was able to make vegan tofu potstickers with an empty fridge boasting only carrots, cabbage and tofu. Because that’s all you really need! Admittedly they were wanting for some sprightly green onion inside, but otherwise they were purrrrrrfect. Chewy gyoza can be for lunch anytime it wants at my house. Oh, and the star of the meal was actually the Hot Mustard Dipping Sauce from Vegan Fire & Spice. Two minutes to make and so flavourful!

As for the year of the Ox:

“This year will no doubt bear fruit, but the motto is: “No work, no pay!” Time waits for no man; if we are too lazy to sow then we can blame no one if we have nothing to reap. We will find a great many things requiring our attention, and the list of what needs to be done will seem endless. The Spartan influence of the Ox will be a constantly cracking whip over our heads. Better to apply oneself diligently than waste time arguing with the authorities. They will prevail, as the year of the Ox favors discipline.”
Feng Shui index

You know what? I can get behind that. I’ve been drawing temples and mandalas lately and I will be completely honest – it is tedious as all get-out. But I really do feel it will pay off later on. And I don’t mind working hard in other areas of life too right now, perhaps with no evident reward. It’s almost… liberating. I forget myself a bit.

But that’s enough about life! Onto the good stuff, the foodstuff! ———–>

Okay, so I couldn’t even believe I was eating this soup while I was eating it. It was lavender, and it tasted cheesy. I mean, it was magical princess soup or something. I’d made the cauliflower bisque from Vegan World Fusion before (it is SO good and easy, it’s in my permanent repertoire), but never with a purple cauliflower. I also added delicious chunkies to it this time, like corn niblets and extra bits of cauliflower and ate it with a tiny little henge of caraway & raisin whole wheat soda bread.


And would you believe I didn’t plan the symmetrical photo-op? Or even the symmetrical dinner? I guess it’s not surprising that I was going for blended soups and little toasted starchy things though, it’s been a flurried-snow january and I’ve been nursing a flu for a while. This one is the mellow lentil sniffle soup from Eat Drink & Be Vegan and I think it’s actually my favourite lentil soup ever so far. There’s something just so… right about it. It doesn’t try to be anything but nicely balanced and nutritious and slurpy, and with some squash biscuits alongside I couldn’t ask for a better snowy day dinner.

Oh, do you remember when I asked if anyone had any advice for non-sugary cranberry recipes? I think someone mentioned a cranberry dhal, which totally piqued my interest and that inspiration led to this creamy sweet potato & romano bean concoction, served with lemon rice cooked with a whole lemon. I was really wanting sour that day, and this was perfection.

Just the other day I made vegan*core’s snickerdoodles because I’d never had one before and it was on the mental list of cookies to try someday (and also I had a tarot party to go to and cinnamon-sugar just seemed like a good idea to bring with me). The photo is terrible, but the cookies are fantastic. They’re a white flour and sugar-fest (I only bake like this when I know I can give them away!), with a perfect slight-chew texture and crispy edges, and oh, they’re gorgeous too. Like shimmery brown stars…. mmmm.

Another bad photo of something very yummy – I made essentially a flatbread pizza the other day on a homemade chapati with basil chipotle hummous on the bottom and tomatoes and peppers on top. But the real special part was what I managed to make out of leftover pureed squash. I only added nutritional yeast, lemon, olive oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper, but once it was baked up it tasted so much like a cheezy thing. Something gooey to sink the teeth into! I was pleasantly surprised!

Finally – possibly my favourite chinatown find of late – Hopia Baboy. It’s a Filipino wintermelon pastry flavoured with green onion!! Astoundingly good. You just pop it into a very hot oven for 5 minutes or so to get toasty and flaky and then oh my goodness, it’s like an instant sugar pie with sesames and a haunting bit of onion that totally works. I think some of the time they’re flavoured with pork fat, which is slightly horrifying, but these ones were clean and clear. And they last forever. I bought a little blue package of them months ago and I just pull one out of the fridge and bake it whenever I want something aromatic and sticky to nosh. Sooooo good!

Yep, it’s happened here before, and t’will happen here again. Pretty much any time I get an incredulous gasp when I mention samosa pizza, I just have to change some minds, hehe.

Oh, and I was dared to make crust. I’m a Daring Baker now!

It involves making some yummy spicy curry potatoes. I used red and fingerlings, which are adorable, I just have to mention. Lots of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander, turmeric, red chile, lime juice and garam masala and coconut oil. More spices. Oh, make it spicier.

And then puree up some fresh pineapple and reduce it a little bit over heat with a splash of red wine vinegar.

Layer!

Oh, and I had to get a shot of myself flipping the dough… this is the best one. My camera is wack.

But my pizza? It’s pretty magically delicious. The dough is a little sweeter than I usually like, but hands down the stretchiest blob of dough I’ve ever had the pleasure of spinning on my knuckles. I like the part about letting it rest on the counter! Anyway, you’ll want to serve this one with beer, or a big salad to make up for the lack of vegetation. And chutney couldn’t hurt.
I swear it’s not even close to as weird as it sounds. :)

I lost my camera cord! And I lost the internet due to crazy summer storms and their ease at destroying routers! So I’m sitting on a lot of pictures… will you bear with me? I have forgotten which are worthy of blogation, but I assure you, most 94% of it was delicious. Highly chewable. Well… I guess you can’t chew jam. But doesn’t it look pretty? Lame peaches became perfect ice cream topping, even though I pouted and danced all the while my mom made this, because I wanted to eat them raw. But I’m an annoying daughter like that. Yep. :D

And I invented a pizza! Which I would bet anything has actually been done before, but if you get the chance, you MUST try making a batch of samosa potatoes and laying it over pizza on a bed of pureed pineapple. It’s my new absolute favourite.

Oh, and speaking of pizza, I’ve been introduced to Ottawa’s gourmet pizzeria, Pavarazzi’s. It sounds so much like paparazzi!! Paparpizza? They have good taste in vegetarian toppings, though. No lame soggy mushrooms/green pepper combos. Sesames and roasted red peppers, artichokes and olives are the standard. Good show!

**note: I avoided the cheese bits encroaching on my nice side like the absolute plague, and am I the only vegan who takes pleasure in an increasing dislike for the smell/accidental taste of animal products? Cause cheese kind of tastes like fermented fluuuuuuuid to me now. *cough*
Appetizing! You can keep your squishy olives, sis!

Speaking of good taste (haha) and vegetarian accommodations, mum and me broke out this cast-iron grill pan that magically appeared in the pantry sometime between this visit and my last to grill up everything in sight, and some fennel besides. I also get to take the pan home! (vcon grilled tempeh tacos, here we come!). Simple dinner, yes, but I was raised on the good art of arranging a sandwich spread, and forgive me for my stereotypical tastes, but I SO do love a grilled vegetable. I think I ate 3 dinners worth of food here. It was worth it for the rosemary bread. The rosemary bread that was made of olive oil. Droolular.

Bit o’ baking. Ever tried a flapjack? I um…. hadn’t. But I was mad curious, I mean – golden syrup, margarine and oats, plus major associations to my UK heritage, I had to at least try. I succeeded at making floppy oat chews? The fat content alone is scaring me away from attempting this again… but if anyone else wants to try, I CAN highly recommend adding some lemon or lime juice to the mix, cause it makes it all lip-smacking more-ish. Too bad about the melty texture, though…

Banana bread is friendly. It shall redeem me. (yum)

As will peach right side-up cupcakes with toasted candied almond slivers on top (I should think). Which are perfect from the fridge, cold… teeth sinking through the cold fruity layer to moist almond-y crumbs…. acklejackarggggg…. s’good. I got the coveted “vegan baked goods are soooo much better than normal baked goods” comment from not one, but three separate eaters of cake. Suke-sess!

To make thine own, take one pineapple rightside-up cupcakes recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, replace fruit with appropriate fruit, add almond extract, and enjoooyyyyy. With joy! Man, I love that book, it should be renamed the Little Vegan Cake-Creation Sourcebook.

More to come in part 2!

Just a quick update, a couple photos that have been on the computer for a few days…

In retrospect I think this was turnip, but the mashed rutabaga recipe from Vcon was nonetheless amazing, especially with corn (lime, coconut + corn? yes!)

And I’m really not exaggerating when I say this is my favourite tofu marinade yet – it’s a Swell Vegan tester recipe for maple-mustard-chili tofu, and it’s awesome. The salad paled in comparison, and the second half of the batch got eaten straight up, with glee, much like a plate of chicken nuggets of yore or something. Total make-again recipe!

And more pizza! I’m pizza-obsessed! J says I’m also crust-bubble obsessed, but he’s quite allowed to say that because… I am. This is only my favourite crust-bubble, and there were many, each with a photo… I am a nerd. :D

And J is still staying with us, and my new roommate is a kitchen-goddess in her own right and works at the best vegan restaurant in the city, so we’ve been collaborating on dinners! Her own component of a brown rice macro bowl was so delicious there wasn’t a speck of leftovers to take a photo of the next day (imagine perfectly cooked rice, confetti-bright vegetables and toasted sesames everywhere), but there was a little bit of my curry around for lunch the next day, so here it is. Aloo paratha, gajar salad, lentil sprouts and a really nice katirikka rasavangi (south indian eggplant curry). I think I might explore this south indian thing a bit more, I’m adoring the heat and the coconut.

And woo! Blackberry-lemon verbena sorbet success! I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I had to nurse this stuff over the course of a few days, stirring it constantly and waiting for my wonky freezer to make it scoopable (I also had to add a bunch of water to help with the freezing, but I was really happy to do that, it was a little sweet in the beginning). Anyway, I’m totally hooked on this sorbet thing! It’s so refreshing, and the herbal bit was transcendant. I’m thinking of trying vegan addict’s Black Hole Sorbet next – it looks sooo decadent. yum!

Aaaah! I guess I have too much free time or something. Actually I’ve been in this mood where I don’t really know what I want to eat for lunch at all, so only the most elaborate thing has been satisfying. So that begat sushi, which was the magical result of actually having avocado and cucumber in the fridge at the same time. The rolls were at the whim of whatever I had on hand, so I ended up with…

+ california (of course)
+ bunny rolls (apple, carrot and thin-sliced ginger)
+ vegetable with hot chili sesame oil
+ broccoli mashed with tahini and ume plum vinegar, with red pepper and red onion
+ and avocado-cashew!

I’ve also been harboring this serious craving for pizza, for like, ever. And I’d never made it before! (these days it hardly seems worth cooking if it’s not an experiment. *shrug*)

I cracked open my Vegan with a Vengeance and started on the pizza dough, and it was great – I’m so used to making bread with a poolish that I have to set up the night before that a straight-ahead dough recipe seemed positively lightning fast to make! Plus ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

This is my second attempt and I think I’m getting the hang of it. I was even flipping the dough in the air to get that paper-thin middle crust going! I could make pizza all the time, it’s totally playing with food, and anyway… this is my second creation, a grand mess of red onion, tofurkey sausage, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, broccoli, olives, tofu ricotta and red chile flakes with homemade pizza sauce, YUM!

And check it out! CRUST BUBBLE ACTION!!

The bubble means it’s extra delicious. :D

I’m experimenting with a bigger font size, because I agree with you guys – I found my blog hard to read, too!

My first attempt at vegan pizza (actually from a week or so ago, but I forgot to post about it). 2/3 of it was italian-styled, with garlic marinara, Tofurkey sausage, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, eggplant and herbs; the other 1/3 was mexican, with homemade salsa, onions, more sausage, jalapeno, cubanelle pepper and hot sauce. Oh, and a half recipe of Bryanna’s Melty Pizza Cheese courtesy of Kittee’s pizza page that I wish wish wish I hadn’t halved because of how severely delicious it was. What’s particularly amazing about this is that it was made on New Year’s Day with hardly any veggie in the fridge and no grocery stores open, and yet it was still veggieful and fantastic!

Back home, yesterday’s breakfast (ha ha). I think I’m starting to get good at this stir fry business, which is one of those skills I would call “invaluable”. Note the Yellow Pepper of Greatness making it’s last yummy appearance.

And cause I’m really not a rice person but for some reason I make some for the stir fry, I had a bunch left over and I made my favourite rice vehicle ever – salad! I’m gonna post the fake recipe because I also consider this one of those invaluable kitchen throw-together methods…

………………………………………..
Meal-In-A-Bowl

2 cups of cooked grains (rice, millet, quinoa, etc)
2 cups crunchy vegetables, diced small
any leftover legumes you have around
1/4 – 1/3 cup of leftover salad dressing (in this case, Cumin-Cinnamon Vinaigrette)
salt and pepper

1. Mix, let it sit for at least an hour (many hours would be better), eat with chopsticks because everything tastes better with chopsticks. :D
………………………………………..

In other news, I tossed the compost in the rubbish because there really wasn’t a responsible place to put it, but I’m going to research into worm composting and see if I can’t get one set up. It WAS kind of interesting to confirm my suspicions that a full half of the garbage I put out is food waste. Makes me feel a little better (sort of) about my footprint, even if it’s still going to a landfill for the time being…