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It’s funny how cardboard folded to look like a pirate ship can make an ordinary grilled sandwich turn into a crazy adventure of proportions large enough to convince any red-blooded child that a bit of cajoling to go the White Spot restaurant is a good idea.
This place is not vegan.  We’re in memory lane right now.

See, they had this ship, right?  It had little holes for a drink and an ice cream, and your burger and fries came in the hold.  Perhaps most importantly – your straw was the freaking masthead!  Shiver me timbers, that’s amazing.  When you’re a kid.

They called it a Pirate Pak and I obviously took it home a few times to play with, the same way I kept those little plastic swords that came with the fruit salad when we went out to chinese buffet restaurants with the odd jello desserts and the deep-fried everything.  They changed up the design of this thing a few times.  I remember running across it a few years ago with a sheet of stickers included so you could add characters and windows on top. !

See the bliss?  The feeling of specialhood?  I’m completely serious here, those fries were absolutely epicly delicious, because they came in a boat.

So here’s my thought… I know some of you are in B.C., and have a White Spot nearby.  I’m not advocating you buy anything there, but if anyone wants to go on a Mischievous Mission™ to obtain just the ship itself and then send it to me, I will fill it with my own, painstakingly authentic vegan version of the classic Pirate Pak meal.  
New Vegan Menu:
~ Burger with secret O Sauce and cheese
~ Deep-fried french fries
~ a soft drink (organic root beer!)
~ soft serve vanilla ice cream
and I almost forgot —
~ a chocolate gold dubloon !
(I will also obviously send back your way a special east coast/montreal specialty, if you can think of something specific, or I’ll just send something cool ;)
It was an unexpected surprise, to hear my mom suggest driving up for the weekend along with my sister, carrying pantry reinforcements of cocoa powder, vanilla extract, organic beer, sprinkles, and BC golden syrup!  Easter obviously isn’t an epic day on my calendar, but it is gorgeous to celebrate anything with family, and so I made a ton of fresh summer rolls with two kinds of dipping sauce to remedy whatever fast food travesty they’d had to eat on the drive to my place.  Which totally worked!  And I made lime & poppyseed cupcakes, filled and topped with mango compote and swirled with vanilla frosting, and star sprinkles on top, because hey, it’s the time of year for excess sugar and pastel colours, I think.  So yummy!  I think they’re actually improving with age, too, flavours melding… I had one for breakfast today, shhhh! :D
We also hit that store with the crazy sales, whereupon we filled our recyclable plastic bags full of fresh udon packets and coconut cream powder and nori seaweed AND these beautiful little herbal tangerine candies I found.  All for a dollar!  I like the tin especially.
Brunch at Aux Vivres, which makes maybe only my third time there, ever.  The hot spot vegan spot of hot vegan dining, and I’ve barely gone —  I know!  Anyway, I got to see their take on a vegan brunch plate, which my sister ordered, piled high with melt-in-your-mouth tofu scramble (they use medium firm and load it with nooch), maple-y tempeh bacon strips, sweet potato fries, an excellent salad with dressing I forgot to identify, and cornbread with jalapeno in it.  Yum!  Not to mention pretty as a painting if anyone ever wanted their breakfast to cheer them up with sheer resemblance to flowers alone.

Mom ordered the chickpea masala on fresh chapati with apple chutney inside – this one I’ve had before and it is sweet slurpy savoury delicious, as well as MORE than enough food for two people, with a salad alongside.  If you’re ever so devoid of protein that only a total refuel will do, order this thing and you’ll be set like superman!

And I?  I was the lucky one.  At the bottom of the menu I spotted a new item, something special… a Montreal smoked meat seitan sandwich, piled all high up with mustard, mayo, pickles and creamy coleslaw on the side… OMG.  It was *crazily* like the roast beef sandwiches I used to eat sometimes, *utterly* delicious, *such* a treat.  The bread was soft and awesome, too.  I think the neatest thing was pulling the second half out of the fridge the next day and almost feeling like I was in my teens again, just eating any old thing I found around. :p

Witness the lovvvvve!!!  They done seitan right, they did…. really soft and spiced perfectly.

cake!  only slightly dented after a trip in a to-go tray 
And!  Should I mention some huge news?  If anyone remembers my old roommate and vegan chef extraordinaire P, well… she’s moved back to the city and become… the primary baker at Aux Vivres!  The whole pastry counter – that’s her!  So I had to sample a massive decadent slice of chocolate apple cake.  Don’t let the apple thing steer you wrong on this cake, either, it is dense and rich and iced with an epic ganache, studded with just enough apple to make the flavour nuanced, with a raspberry sauce served on the side… you should go for this.  Or for any of the desserts!  I am certainly going back to sample other things, I consider it my duty as a friend.   To eat… sugar and chocolate.  My duty!!  As a friend!!  WEll, it is.  :D

So when Isa says smother, smother I do. There’s not much else I wanted to eat after making the VwaV punkrock chickpea gravy, except anything with loads of this on top. Potatoes are totally good for you, right? Like, they’re vegetable matter! I ate so much potato last week.

Yes, and cabbage. If you think this is stereotypically peasant-fare so far, just wait until you see my third primary vegetable of late. But anyway, cabbage in everything, and when a lunch needs to be made in the time it takes for coffee to brew, a nice apple & clove braised cabbage isn’t bad at all, and can be slurped like noodles actually.

Third in the poor food trinity? Carrots! Good thing I almost consider them dessert. My favorite way to eat them these days is shredded with daikon radish, peppers and sprouts on top, with toasted sesames, tamari and rice vinegar. Sometimes sriracha, and sometimes… wakame seaweed! No, not hydrated, just crunchy and awesome right out of the bag. Better than chips sometimes.

One can see why I took the opportunity to hop home this weekend and eat out of someone else’s fridge for a while? Too bad Ottawa produce is expensive and wilty, ah well. Increases appreciation for the bounty of home, definitely (I complain but it’s really not that bad in Montreal). And at least there are fair trade vegan chocolates everywhere. This Zazubean bar was sweetened with cane juice and had damiana leaf, maca root and horny goat weed, whatever that is. Had to try it. Flirtacious, no? The cherries were the best part and there were tons.

The real reason I went to Ottawa was to hit the annual Fall Fair Flea Market at the First Unitarian church, which is basically a place to find vintage treasures and loads of fabulous high-quality literature for utter pennies. I found Godel, Escher, Bach for $1, and at that I rest my case. No wait! I also found The Man Who Ate Everything for $1, which is a fairly entertaining read. Almost precisely like reading a top notch food blog in book form. Plus I got a zillion classics, artbooks, and philosophy for a smile & a song and a twenty dollar bill, y’all, Liz is in happy book land!!!!!

Perhaps more importantly, I discovered that the church offers sanctuary to a number of people. Most recently a Nepali human rights activist (Shree Kumar Rai on the right), and for ten years a Bangladeshi family who were abused years ago here in Ottawa, and threatened back at home for speaking out about it. So now they both have apartments in the building, and cook amazing amazing food (mostly vegan!!) to pay for expenses and things. And they need people to watch for government officials all the time, which is crazy, but I’m proud of my old church for having the balls to be this immensely awesome. That’s the mediterranean plate they put together for me up there, with a requested cauliflower pakora in the middle, yum.

(More information about UU sanctuary here).

Not to mention I was lucky enough to try Mr. Samsa’s vegetarian wrap and holy crap, it was actually the best deep-fried falafal-ish thing I’ve EVER had. No kidding. The bread was yielding like butter (absolutely homemade), and the innards were spiced like the chorus of your favourite song. I wish I could get these all the time!

They even had sushi! Basic veggie style, but it was real and fresh and delicious as sushi usually is. Go International Cafe! I just wish I could have tried some of the onion bhaji or samosa, which were flying out of the kitchen and looking phenomenal, but next year I guess.

So that was the trip and now I am home, and since I couldn’t for life of me decide what I wanted for dinner tonight I mixed it all together with some kind of gluten-free pasta (rice, I think), fresh basil, chard, garlic, sundried tomatoes and chickpeas I made this morning with balsamic grilled fennel and that was pretty good for a girl who makes noodles maybe ten times a year. Pretty good delicious, that is!

Oh yeah. And 100% potato/cabbage/carrot free, and for that we sing a wee song of yay and happy-chew. :)

I realized there are really only three things I haven’t mentioned yet from my trip that are worth any sort of song and dance / notable mention – and all are highly deserving of the attention.

# 1 —
My sister’s adorable cats! That sit in windows and watch tea gettin’ made, scurrying into peach boxes and pretending to cut potatoes for our massive potato-wedge lunch whilst watching the new Project Runway episodes. Cuteness overload of the “kitties plus weapons” variety.


# 2 —
Going to lunch at The Table restaurant (a pay-by-weight buffet that’s largely gluten-free and probably 96% vegan). I wrote down the details of every minute morsel shortly after enjoying this, but it seems I lost the notepad file on my computer… alas. To the best of my memory, there was tofu & nut terrine, corn fritters with sweet onion chutney, black bean & quinoa salad, sesame snap peas, dandelion greens, smoky tempeh chunks, ginger with shiso, sprouts, salsa and dehydrated crackers, mashed root veg, fried tofu balls, cinnamon-y couscous, mexican lentils, german red cabbage, chickpea nibbles, slaw, eggplant curry, zucchinis, and beets, and onions….. not to even mention pumpkin pie for dessert (as well as two kinds of chocolate cake – beet and raspberry – and apple cake, and date squares, chocolate pudding, and gingersnaps with gray salt, cayenne and olive oil). Best. Dinner. Out. Ever.

# 3 —
My sister’s birthday cake, mango with avocado icing, as per her craaaaazy request. It was actually pretty good, especially the icing!

Adding chocolate chips to disguise it as a watermelon cake was highly necessary to my sense of humour, I assure you.
(also, they tasted good!)

So I’m writing this from the comfy green rocking recliner in my mother’s living room, covered in flour and crossing recipes off of the veganomicon index faster than I can decide on the next thing I want to make, and that is to say – life (or at least my pseudo-vacation before school starts full throttle again in september) is good.

I even got to make a pie – a birthday peach and blueberry pie at my mother’s request, using the vcon pastry instead of my usual. It’s definitely easier to use, like those pie crusts you see on television that people just sort of toss into the pan… but I think next time I’ll stick with my madness-inducing-yet-extraordinarily-tender crust I usually use. Because personally I’d rather my pie disintegrate into buttery flakes at the touch of a fork than look pretty and pert, but that’s just me…. and I’m just a pie-obsesso who so rarely gets to make them… :p

Mmm… and I’m mentioning here that in an awesome and unplanned way, there is a tomato in just about everything in this post. Which makes sense! It being the season and all. But I’m mentioning it so you can play along and find them. Like in the vcon midsummer corn chowder, which is SOOO good, you have to make it! With rosemary focaccia it was perfect, and there was a big paprika’d mountain of hummus on the table, too.

My old old old old cats say hi! They’re still doing their thing where they act like mirrors or parallels of eachother. Haha, cute.

Went out for dinner at Corners on Bank. Not much to say… I mean, it was crazy delicious, but it was just a Boca burger. I guess to people who never ever eat those things it’s a special treat, though. And they very happily let me pick my own toppings off of the menu options, so I got chipotle salsa, caramelized onions and guacamole, and the calabrese bun was teeth-sinking yeasty and notably fresh, so really, who’s complaining at all?

Okay me, for forgetting to ask for my salad sans dressing. :p

I’m in love with hoecakes now, too. So easy to make and really surprisingly good. I made mine like…

1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos
1/4 cup sauteed onions
pinch of sugar
pepper

Fry them up, eat with salsa, say yum yum yum and think why didn’t I make DOUBLE that amount because now I have to give my lunch to my sister who just came in the door with hoecake longing in her eyes. Alas, alas…..

….at least I got the vcon mexican millet all to myself! It wasn’t gonna happen like that – I was making it for everybody, but everybody went to bed, and then a forkful of it went in my mouth and any plans to eat anything else went ~poof~ and I had half the pot all for me, and it was so good. I love millet! Especially when it’s buttery and nutty and crisp/creamy, and eaten out of a dainty little rice bowl.

And then vcon blintzes, with dill-tahini sauce, applesauce and pickled red cabbage. A lot of work for something that tasted pretty perogi-like, but delicious nonetheless. Especially when all the toppings glooped together to form SUPER GLOOP of the potato-y sauce-y goodness.

Slice of Pie! Look at that structural integrity! ^.^

And lunch today – vcon creamy tomato soup (+ broccoli) with celine’s cheezy crackers (YUM!) and vcon mushroom-walnut pate with more lentils and less walnuts because that’s what I had.

(in conclusion: I love tomatoes! <——- ze obvious) :D

Hurray! As of July 10th I have officially been vegan for a year! It actually feels like forever (and do I count the year I was vegan in high school?), and what a full year of crazy amazing cooking it’s been. I’ve learned so much I can hardly believe it, when all I could really make back then was paratha bread, some lasagna, and maybe a rudimentary curry or two. I wish I had pictures of the weird stuff I managed to come up with — iced guava puddings, lemon carrots, raw onion dip… haha. Oh, the long way I’ve come…

Notably – check out that tempeh bowl up there. Much improved, culinarily, and also – I got to try tempeh for the first time! I LIKE it. Pomme marinated it in some maple syrup, tamari, liquid smoke, and maybe something else drop dead yummy, and we ate it over rice with all the fixings, including nori strips, peppers, daikon, sprouts, and loads of miso-tahini dressing. Magnifique!

And it seems to be becoming a dangerous yet wildly entertaining habit for us to finish dinner and then go make dessert. Mostly for entertainment value, but also for the sugar, you know… these were an adaptation of Dreena’s oatmeal raisin cookie, with chocolate chips instead of raisins, and also cashews. Chewy, perfect… maybe even perfecter with coconut, but still – perfect.

I tried to make plum chutney! It didn’t work at all (note to self: 1 teaspoon of asafoetida is a heck of a lot for one recipe to call for), but boy were the plums pretty.

Plum carnage! So pretty. :D

And then, and then – my actual veganversarry dinner! I actually forgot what day it was, so I was just using up leftovers when I made it, but it’s definitely a testament to my year of vegan-ness that I was able to turn the odds and bobs into well executed dishes. I faked a brown rice crust with toasted sesames and coconut oil, and put into that some blended turnip, carrot, sauteed onion, garlic, kale, coconut cream, maple syrup, garam masala and a bit of lemon and it was pretty damn good!

And marinated broccoli stems (of course). Which are great because they look like flowers, feature fresh basil this time, and get even better the longer they sit in the fridge.

We had it all together with a cold vichyssoise for a nice light summer dinner.

…… and then made cookies. :D

Pomme made little chilled hermit-balls with flax and cocoa and coconut – 100% healthy and chewy and good. And they were a nice foil for….

Crispy, almond-y white sugar city! It’s Terry’s favourite almond cookie from the Veganomicon! The touch of sesame oil in these is inspired, truly. And maybe the chinese-style cookies predicted the future, because Pomme and I ended up wandering to chinatown many hours later to see if a restaurant was open at 11 (it was), if they served vegetarian (they did), and we ordered up a bit of mapo tofu.

Why oh why does mapo tofu come with floating bits of flesh in it???? :(
It was our mistake for assuming that a tofu dish from the normal side of the menu would be safe… but our server was incredibly kind and he didn’t even charge us for the won ton soup that I stupidly ordered thinking “well, it’s just dumplings, right?”.

Yeah, dumplings filled with meat. I’m obviously very good at this eating out business (d’oh!). Anyway, it was an eventful veganversarry, and when the tofu did come, oh was it jiggly and delicious! I do love a good med-firm bean curd. Maybe next veganversarry I’ll think ahead and go to a place that serves up a good hunk of tempeh. Oh, that IS a good idea! :D

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. :)

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

there’s good news and bad news.

the bad news is, I am hungover and drinking black-as-night-coffee with sweetener in it because that’s my remedy for feeling like my organs have turned to metal. but the good news is that I had the BEST DINNER ever last night. EVER.

See, my sister works at the neat-o Wheat Berry (where I used to work, actually), and they had their christmas party yesterday at the also neat-o Green Door restaurant – complete with free food! No more paying by weight for some seriously delectable foodstuffs. I had a plate full of sesame-oiled-kale-squash, and greek rice cabbage rolls, vegan fig bars, all sorts of beans, peanut satay whatnot, crispy-tender sourdough with little seeds in it, these awesome chewy noodle thingers with seaweed in them, more fig bars. Tapenade. Salsa. Punch with organic berries in it (and alcohol besides)! I missed the apple pie, but there was apple pie there, too. Lordy, it was fabulous.


I made some truffles. They’re on the ooey-gooey side, but they taste really good. And not bad for about 10 minutes of work. There’s kind of a recipe? But also kind of not, so here’s a list of ingredients I was throwing around —

150 grams of dark chocolate (chopped really finely)
2/3 cup almond milk (or less)
2 tbsp soy milk powder
2 tbsp margarine
3 tbsp canadian whiskey
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp icing sugar (maybe)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (sort of)
pinch of salt

* heat the milk, milk powder and margarine almost to boiling, then add the chocolate, remove from heat and let it sit for a minute.
* stir to melt the chocolate, add the rest of the ingredients (probably add more icing sugar or cocoa powder than I did at this point, to make the truffles firmer.)
* move to a container, let it cool to room temp, cover with plastic and chill overnight
* when it’s cold, dish out little truffle-balls and roll them in…………

cocoa powder, roasted chopped nuts, icing sugar, more melted chocolate, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, matcha powder, cookie crumbs, sprinkles probably, crushed candies, other stuff. I used hazelnuts (mmmmmmm).

oh yeah! and don’t bother buying paper candy cups if you don’t want to — little rounds cut out of wrapping paper are pretty cute. just squash the paper circles on the top of a bottle of soda – presto custom paper-cup!

(the egg carton is less posh. but hey, it was just for my friends, they don’t care. ^_^)