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It’s taken me enough time, but I think I might pursue some serious explorations into raw food this summer.  It’s probably because of this festival in the woods that my friends organize each year… this year I’m a part of the kitchen crew, and that means providing raw options on top of the fully vegan menu.  Which I’m actually pretty excited about!  The way it’s set up we each get about one full day of leading the kitchen, and I have no clue what I’m going to make… but I am collecting ideas, and I figure I should start practicing my skills now.
I took out a book from the library – Nettie Cronish’s New Vegetarian Basics – and figured I would actually cook something from it instead of just flip pages.  Well… it’s a mint and tahini sauce up there and it seems like it would be great on paper (and I’m not exactly sure how one messes up tahini sauce!) but there was like, no flavour in it whatsoever, so I had to double the tahini and add some ume vinegar and then it was pretty good.  (I should mention that I like how she uses a lot of pumpkin seeds and seaweeds in creative ways in her book, though!)
To ease into Rawville I approached my blender with a lot of vigor and an open mind (and about 3 open recipe books!).  I think I did okay for a try… I would never ever EVER call those thin bits of celery “pasta”, but the tomato sauce was a sort of marinara and actually quite delicious!  I used both red wine and balsamic vinegar with some fresh basil and it definitely wasn’t salad-y, in fact surprisingly sweet and piquant and actually went pretty well with crispy celery.  The soup was hella fun!!  It involved…. (I wrote this down)….. 

a full stalk of broccoli

3″ of zucchini

1/2 cup of corn

1 kale leaf —- THE CULPRIT!!

knob of ginger

3 cloves garlic

lemon juice

apple c vinegar

olive oil

flax oil

juice of 2 grapes

tamari

regular soy sauce

sunflower seeds

1/2 a green apple

cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper

whole corn niblets

Good and good for you… but I read only afterwards that adding leafy greens to raw soups make them characteristically bitter, and this definitely needed those two grapes to balance things out.  I felt really energized afterwards, but next time I think I’ll keep my kale on the side.  I do love making food like this, though – I feel like a scientist, cutting off bits and bobs of things to create a harmonious liquid whole. 

Last and the sweetest!  Mocha chia pudding, as per Swell Vegan’s recipe, made with some probably unraw ingredients (cocoa, instant coffee certainly isn’t), but in principle sure.  Really quite good!  Like tapioca pudding with the texture of strawberry seeds and the flavour of chocolate, and intriguingly… gloopy.  In a good way!  Like you can stir it up and much as you like and it will reconstitute back together immediately, which I think is a huge bonus, not liking runny pudding all that much.  Plus this fills you up, so I hear, being hydroscopic and thus able to soak up all your drinking water… so it’s the dessert that could save your life in a desert, aha!  

OR: “Long Ago Foods I Happened to Push Around in a Bowl For a Few Minutes In A Manner That Kind Of Resembles Cooking But Is Lacking Any Real Inspiration” :)

Hee, these blondies kind of look like those tile puzzles where you push around the little flat plastic squares to make a picture of… a tiger. Or a monarch. Or a guy with a lasso. I wasn’t really caring about putting the pieces back in order after the food-porn was taken, and delicious things can be all rearrangey, sure.

I took the basic standard (awesome) blondie recipe from the ppk and made it all fiesta with lime juice and coconut. This was the first damned thing I’d baked in weeks!! No joke! And then they came out of the oven and I remembered why vegans have to bake – that is, to eat baked goods with melty buttery qualities. I distinctly recall deciding to gain a pound or two in honour of these things.

But really no cooking was I doing. Don’t believe me, here’s the proooooooof:::::

RICE FOR BREAKFAST! I ran out of oatmeal (and a small island in the pacific winked out of existence due to the illogical tanglement surrounding THAT). So I had to make do, and given I have patience in the morning to stir things and not do much else, I made some brown rice pud, with raisins, whole cloves, and cinnamon and it was… actually pretty great. Not oats, but every few years I’ll shake up the morning routine a little. Oh, and I put brown sugar in it! Speshul.

Next evidence of no cooking: SLAW. Wooo! Blog-worthy mostly because it’s a gorgeous shade of crimson and I happened to grate up a pear inside of it. I recommend the pear thing. (look close and you’ll spot the fourth time I’ve made the World Fusion cauliflower soup. Fourth time!)

Last, last… I give thanks to the wonders that is the VwaV fronch toast *guideline* and how it enables me to eyeball the various flours involved. And it still results in this, which is way more carby-sugary than I usually like for lunch, but I had to use up old bread and um… Caramel Sauce. Kisses Everything! With Gold. squee.

In better news, the weather has gotten downright inspiring the past few days and my eyes are lighting up at the sight of spring markets and my poor little brain is starting to tinker with foods that make moods and involve wonderful, premeditated things like capers. I believe I’ll be making seitan tomorrow. (!!!!) I see reubens and latin food…..

Happy new year everyone! Did you get kissed last night? I got a hug! :)

Maybe it was due to eating those lucky black eyed peas everyone goes on about. I’ve got no problem with an excuse to them, though, being all mushy and sweet and darned adorable with that little black spot. I found out later that the collards they’re traditionally eaten with in the south symbolize paper money, so I missed out on that part, but do you see those basil leaves? Looks leafy and green to me! I even ate this all on lettuce, I’m probably set on the symbolic moolah front. Oh, and the beans themselves were a vegan version of Jukut Murab – a Balinese salad with coconut, tamarind, chile and lime and very very delicious – it’s going into bean salad rotation and will definitely be gracing the table of a potluck sometime in the future. It’s exotic and wonderful on the tongue and easy and healthy and cheap = win!

And speaking of inconceivably delicious food being actually very healthy – stuffed zucchini globes, Isa-style definitely qualify. How had I not made these yet? The millet here is basically a delivery device for tomato-y, olive-y, caper-y superflavour, which doesn’t get any further up my alley. I ate the leftover millet rolled up in steamed red cabbage with a squish of lemon, which forgive me, may have been even tastier than the squash, and um… I even put this stuff on crackers. Recommended!

Oh Extraveganza, shall you be in all my posts and will I never mind? Yes. :)
Especially when you offer recipes like pear and cardamom pudding, zomg. I doubled the cardamom and I shouldn’t have done that, because it became somewhat impossible to NOT have perfumed vanilla sweetness for dinner two night in a row. I am considering making more…

Finally, eek, I made saucy asian takeout style food! I can see why people do this now… It’s kind of a Gyudon (japanese beef and rice bowl) made with eggplant, as per Vegan Ronin‘s excellent adaptation, and somewhere between adding a splash of requisite sriracha and licking my bowl clean this was dreamy good eating. Even the rice happened to be purple in aubergine agreement! Goodness, I think now I’m gonna have to make General Tao’s tofu and cross that dish off my lifetime list now that I’m all hooked on sweet thickened sauces. YUM!

Bonus picture >>>>>>>>>>>>>
My favourite salad these days involves green apple and crushed up organic Wheat Thins, which was inspired by fatoush, if you can believe it. The crackers are sweeter than the apples, and with a noochy citrus dressing it’s a perfect snack.

(can you believe I got organic crackers at the dollar store? madness! I’m not complaining though)

Once upon a time there was an more innocent time in my life where I had no ethical qualms about eating as much Habitant pea soup as my little tummy desired. It was creamy, and dreamy, and came in gigantic tins and sometimes I ate it cold right out of the fridge, sometimes heated up to make it extra silky, and usually with loads of black pepper. It was pretty good stuff, even though it didn’t take me long to scan the ingredients list once becoming vegan and there the shocking news was that even the “vegetarian” version had a whole bunch of lard in it! Super gross!! But I love that stuff, so I’ve been trying here and there to recreate it. The trick is to think simple and this is the closest I’ve come so far, this may have even been better! :O

(Oh, and it’s certainly that time of the season. I’m not the only one to sing the peas praises!)

On the soup front we’ve still been raring to go this week. After split pea came that rich, gravy-like black bean soup from the Veganomicon that I love so much. Pretty much made identically as before, but with a bit of red pepper added this time. That veg gets itself invited to anything that needs some ruby sparkle and a bite of sweet! Definitely a welcome addition here, and it’s cheap and healthy yet luxurious soups like this that make me feel like a queen that should have made a double batch because aaaaaaaaaah it’s soooooo goooooooooooooood.

For Hallowe’en this year I could not sleep on the eve of the Hallow’s Eve, so I made pudding at three in the morning. Have I mentioned that I adore the excuse to cook at all hours of the night when I have the place to myself? Lovely fun to make a big recipe of extra almondy pudding with a layer of toasted oats and almond crust surprise hiding at the bottom! I don’t think I’ll go the “crust” route with my pudding again, somehow gritty isn’t something I enjoyed on the tongue, but if you eat the creamy first and then the almost macaroon-like cookie bottom, well, that was pretty nice. We conveniently forgot to mention to the guys that there were seven of these in the fridge, and have been diving into pud at our leisure.

I’m not totally greedy, though, and ended up releasing 11 of 12 of these VwaV perfect pumpkin muffins out into the wild to get devoured by costumed friends. It was almost funny how the conversation went every time, though:

Me: here, do want a pumpkin muffin?
Them: ehhhh. nah, is okay.
Me: they are like cake!
Them: all right then (*pause for chewing*) WOW THESE ARE GOOD.

hahaha. fools that they do not know the wonder of gourd cake! Oh, yeah, and actually I made them with a Calabaza squash, which was remarkably smooth and sweet, and just a bit floral – worked beautifully here.

Finally, I am back onto my mission to finish the Vcon. One needs a past-time challenge, right? Eased back into the crusade with a quicky little baby bok shoy with crispy shallots recipe (read: onions, we is poor), enjoyed with my new obsession, black forbidden sticky rice, pineapple pieces and some goji berries for that painterly touch on the dinner plate. Delicious!

It’s interesting these sayings one hears and doesn’t think about, like “cheap as dirt”. Yes, apparently dirt is very very cheap! Shows me. I picked up a ginormous bag yesterday and lovingly transferred my slightly cramped tomato plants to their rightful places in separate pots. They’re so beautiful, and not even so stunted for a few mishaps along the way (icy cold nights with the window accidentally open, and Satchmo deciding to munch on a few of them, ack). I’ve never grown things before, but I hope I get tomatoes by the end of the season. At the very least they make the apartment look great!

So that was the living part. The LEARNING part is hoboy, I should listen when a cookbook author describes something as a warming defense against winter weather, and possibly not make that on a gorgeous sunny evening. I mean, it used up all these mysterious odds and ends of things I had, and I tallied the total cost of this meal to be pennies (so really nothing lost), but I just wasn’t in the mood for braised seitan with chicory and brussel sprouts. The broccoli polenta was awesome, though. Thank goodness for freezers, maybe there’ll be a cold night later on.

And this isn’t living nor learning, but actually the exciting lead-up to what has immediately become my new obsessively favourite dessert thing ever —

Banana chocolate chip bread pudding! Oh yes, oh yes yes yes. Feel the mapley cinnamony soft deliciousness through the computer screen? I hope so, I would devise a device to do so if I could, forget wonka bars through the television, I wanna make bread pudding for everybody.

Seriously, I’m completely gah gah for this, I’ve had it for lunch for the past three days (with, you know, some bean salad so I don’t drop dead of malnutrition). Thumbs up again, Vcon!

So it’s been a while… I feel a little overwhelmed by food photos and at least 300 unread entries on my blogroll… but hey, I’m back at school on Thursday and with school comes avoidant tendencies, boredom, and a need to gaze at other people’s food successes/experiments/disasters/what-have-you with rapt attention. I think that’s why I’m opening the first of my re-cap posts with that excellent tangle of stir fry up there. It’s not like, blog-worthy in any classic sense of the word, it involved a lot of green thai curry paste and normal normal stuff… but it was the best stir fry I’ve made so far! And I got to use my mung bean flat noodles (which looked shockingly like glass and tasted like hyper-jello in a very good way). And I threw the whole thai theme in a blender by using lentil sprouts, but anyway, this was excellent. And all a-tangle, which is how I feel right now. (also, for the record I got my fall/winter marks back and I got straight As!!!). A-tangle I say! So on with the foods before my mind ties me in noodley-knots, tee hee…

I should probably just label the simple stuff — here’s some VwaV chocolate pudding with vastly reduced sugar and added pureed strawberries and banana. I err… don’t recommend these adjustments so much. Still hit the chocolate craving, but it wasn’t really pudding in any decadent sense, ah well.

French lentil soup from the Vcon, with a kale & maple-mustard salad. VERY good, all of it. I could eat sweetly dressed kale every day of the week and tarragon-y lentils = Win.

Sopa de Chayote! Alas, my second chayote (or Mirliton) wasn’t quite enough to justify using it in a full-on cool recipe like Kittee’s stuffed squash, I did manage to find a recipe for this easy soup that might beat out gazpacho as my favourite chilled hot-weather repast. Go make this! It actually showcases the oh-so subtle flavour of the chayote, which also lends it this quirky green colour. Mexican dinner party starter soup? Uhhhh…. yes.

Vcon strawberry-plum crisp — amazingly more than the sum of it’s parts. The fruit turns into what I imagine vegetarian vampires would want to nosh – gloopy, crimson, sweet and tart, and also the aniseseed in the crust made me extra happy. I always forget how much I like baked strawberries what with all my raw eating, but this reminded me of the whole “strawberry-bomb” phenomena. Like how they get all warm and explodey when they’re cooked. Hee, anyway…

*drumrollllllll*

Best cookies ever. (okay, best CHOCOLATE cookies ever). Thank you Vcon, the chocolate chocolate chip walnut cookies have pretty much been renamed Supernova Desirious Nexi-Yums in my mind, which is a silly name to be sure, but almost manages to convey what a job they did on my knees when I bit one warm from the oven (those knees wobbled. a lot). I made them for my painting class, then thought better of it, and saved them for my friends and I to gush over at leisure. (oh, and I made the chocolate-orange version… mmmmmmmorange!).

More food to come! Swell Vegan tester scones and redcurrant cupcakes and lots of things in mini-form and egads, well, a lot. Next post soon!

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

I started hardcore veganing in august, and yes I have a computer full of pron so I’m leaking it out!! Happy Mofo everybody!!!

an overly crispy attempt to recreate Garibaldi Biscuits (british, delicious, very discontinued ;_;). When I was little my mom called them “squashed fly cookies”, and apparently that wasn’t just her twisted and humorous mind — that’s actually what they go by in britain! awesome.

creamy cauliflower soup, with turnip, white beans, potatoes, onions… pretty much anything white I could find. *excellent* with toasted pumpkin seeds on top.

eggless egg salad (from the ppk), with homemade crusty rolls.

The aforementioned crusty rolls (and crusty breads)! My first time using a poolish/starter, and soooooo worth it. Depthful, crunchy chewy yeasty best-bread-ever kinda worth it (I changed the recipe to be mostly whole wheat, and I can only imagine that made it even more flavourful).

Banana oatmeal chocolate chip bars from The Garden of Vegan. These are a throwback to the LAST time my oven died, as it’s a microwave recipe, and actually I think nuking them makes them chewier and more brownie-like (a billion thumbs up on this recipe).

White bean and escarole soup with rye-garlic croutons. Kinda bland, but that’s my fault for getting the recipe off of the internet, from among about 7 or 8 nearly identical versions. The croutons helped a lot.

Graham (gwam) crackers! Very very very good. I used raw coarse sugar instead of regular white and it made the texture really interesting and gave them a burnt caramel flavour. I love how they’re not very sweet, these are probably actually my favourite cookies ever.

Broccoli-almond-tofu stir fry. Okay, super basic, but extremely nommish. (and it’s a pretty picture!)

Black-eyed pea patties with sunflower sprouts and limeade. And barbecue sauce, cause that stuff is liquid yum, and have you ever tried sprouts with bbq sauce? Made for eachother, I swears.

And, as recently as last night – banana-chocolate pudding! I am so loving this pudding-for-dinner business I started doing recently. It’s really no worse than a plate of creamy noodles in terms of nutrition (actually probably better), and there’s something so fabulous about throwing a huge bowl of pudding in the fridge, going out for a night of what-have-you, and knowing you have velvety chocolate spoonlove to savour when you get home. (although last night it was so cold by the time I got back I nuked tomato soup with beanballs + broccoli in it instead – I could easily live off of tom-soup with a rotating roster of guest vegetables/grains).

more bonanza laterz! I still have a lot of pictures. :D

( Horrible picture, but bear with me… )

YUM! Best dinner ever! I think I can get away with calling this dinner due to the amount of protein, yes? It kind of reminds me of yogurt.

Low-Cal & Luscious Banana Pudding

1/3 cup non-dairy milk
3 tbsp cornstarch

1 1/2 cups of silken tofu

1 banana (3/4 of it mashed, 1/4 sliced for garnish)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

stevia to taste

pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

1. Whisk together the milk and cornstarch until it’s smooth, then heat in a saucepan over med-low until it thickens into a gel-ish paste.
2. Stick-blend the milk with the remaining ingredients (except the banana slices and spices), adjusting the amount of stevia to a sweetness you like. Transfer to serving dishes, garnish with banana, and chill for an hour or two before serving. Top with spices if you want them; eat, smile.

PS: I LOVE BANANAS!!! mmmmmmm… that’s yesterday’s lunch down there.
PPS: I’M INDIFFERENT TO SILKEN TOFU!!! … but I have to eat it up. XD