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I came home to this sight the other day. It was kind of funny, actually – I’d just trudged home through a blizzard with visions of hot stew in my head and what do I find but the storm decided to join me in my kitchen!

Ha, it was okay. I managed not to step in any of the puddles and was very very thankful for the crockpot stew I had put on the night before. Yeah, I actually used my crockpot! *shock* my mom would be proud. I had actually been so busy that I acted the great cliche and took it down off the highest shelf I have to put some veganomicon cholent-style ingredients together the night before.

I’m actually not sure if I’m sold on the tarragon + caraway thing… but it was warm and hearty and perfect at the time. (ie: full of potatoes). I added tabasco and corn, too.

Earlier than that (or later? oh I don’t remember. sometime!) I made vcon lemon & pea risotto with roasted red peppers.

I don’t know why people complain about leftover risotto! I actually thought this was tastiest cold out of the fridge, slurped up like cold lemony pudding. I’m weird, yes. I tried Risotto al Salto too, to try it (basically fried up like a fritter), which was fine. But nothing on the ice-cold stuff!

I posted about hoecakes before, so there isn’t much to say about the big yellow thing on the plate – except maybe to amend my recipe to stress than fine cornmeal should be used in a hoecake. This one was coarse which did NOT work anywhere near as well, but ah you learn. The interesting bit, at least to me, is that grayish dip-like blob in the corner. It was very tasty! It’s black bean & orange dip from ED&BV, and it’s a little sweeter than a regular b.bean dip and really great on wraps and things.

In the midst of being busy I made some muffins to take to school. I wonder why I decided to make jammy muffins to put in my bag? Ha ha, anyway, they’re hearty jam-dot muffins from Fran Costigan’s second book. They’re okay… I like that there’s lots of toasted oats and sesame in them, and my mom’s homemade plum jelly. A wee bit heavy, but I subbed some stuff so it could have been my bad.

Over christmas my dad bought me some veggie burgers for christmas eve Burger Night (woohoo!), which happened to be Amy’s California Burgers. They’re soooooo good! They don’t taste a blessed thing like fakey meatstuff, but they DO taste like toasted bulger and mushrooms and loads of other great all-natural things. I had some on buns, and some on salad with tahini dressing and both ways were awesome. I had the last one today though, and I don’t know what to do because I never buy pre-packaged food for myself but I think I’ve fallen in love!

And finally… we call this an economic birthday, or a belated one, or whatever. It’s a full moon tonight and though it’s neither of these boys’ birthdays (although it’s close), it’s definitely always a good time for a chocolate jalapeno cake with ganache topping and strawberries inside. Yeah, I know!! It’s another Extraveganza cake recipe and holy schlamoli, it’s SO tender and delicious and soft peppery perfect, I tried a whole bunch of it that stuck to the cake tin. ^_^;

Word to the wise: the recipe mentions nothing about de-panning this cake, and in fact implies that it shouldn‘t be, I think, at least when you read the icing recipe along with it. I did anyway and it was a total headache cause it was so fluffy and sticky (and criminally delicious. did I mention that?), but I think it came through the operation 97% intact. Minus the chunks I ate. (I’m starting to think that being able to fix cake disasters is as useful as baking one that tastes good… :P)

Anyone else notice how the stuff on top kinda looks like a crab? Not planned! But I like it.

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Wowee, I actually splurged and got myself a new repository of recipeeeez, hurray. I decided on Jae Steele‘s book, Get It Ripe, mostly because of how healthy and easy it all looked, and it seemed perfect now that school’s started to keep my time in the kitchen to a relaxed minimum.
(also, she’s a local gal who runs between montreal and toronto a lot, and also – Aux Vivres restaurant recipes, like the Millet & Mushroom Tortiere? Yes, please!)

First up, and so far my fave – Baked Barbecue Tofu with mushrooms and green peppers. SO more-ish (spicy, tomato-y, nutty!), and it takes all of 3 minutes to throw together. And excellent cold the next day.

The lentil dhal was also a winner! It should be with red lentils, for the record – I only had brown. But still very very delicious. (I added a bit of EB, for that ghee kinda taste, and slathered it on rice cakes for the next few days – amazing!)

I had slightly less luck with the baked goods… the gingerbread had a wonderful flavour, but was so delicate, I had to handle it with surgeon’s care to get every pillow-soft crumb into my mouth!

And the infamous flax-maple cookies were less like shortbread and more like biscuits, but once I wrapped my head around their less-sweet character, I realized they really were a lovely after-school teatime snack. And SO simple to throw together, I probably stood in front of a bowl for a minute and half, threw the pretty coins in the oven for another few minutes and cookie-baking time was over. So really, perfect for september! And also – very healthy! Win-win.

There’s also a million awesome pages of baking tips, health information, cooking charts and personable advice, so there’s that going for it, too. Oh, and beautiful pictures. It’s a really cute book! And I definitely know where I’ll be going for dinner ideas when I’m in a rush. :)

Yum! Amazing! Could I gush more? I should! I was fortunate enough to be a tester for the very talented A-K of the Swell Vegan blog, and I’ve just fallen in love with her Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burgers with Millet and Leeks! They’re so delicious, with a sweet note of almond butter, some spicy mexi-kick, a nice meaty bite and very easy to make. I usually douse my burgers in nayo and ketchup, but not this time! Condiments like that t’would be sacrilege in this case, as they’re plenty flavourful enough on their own (though her suggestion of guacamole would be verrrrry nice, I’m thinking). They firm up nice, too!

Aren’t they pretty? There was much (much) finger licking going on during forming of these things. I can’t wait to get on the scone recipe….

And yesterday I wanted lentil soup but also not to work very hard, so I made the vcon Ancho Lentil Soup. Which was good, but I kinda wish it were spicier, or the ancho flavour more pronounced (and I used a huge one). Or even had vegetables in it of any kind? The pineapples were a fun touch, though.

Aaaaand, I promised myself a bar of Terra Nostra Rice Milk Chocolate on Zombie Jesus Day but got sidetracked by florentine’d tofu and other foods that AREN’T CHOCOLATE (insane, I know). So I fixed that and bought a bar, and woah! This is some special milky-mouth-melt action! I think dark is still my absolute favourite, but it’s an utter treat to reach into the chocolate drawer (yes, I have one of those – usually 2 or 3 bars open at any given time… for emergencies!) and pull out milk chocolate. *grin*

Oh my gosh! I got an email yesterday from someone who had read a review of my zine in Broken Pencil and wanted a copy! Eeeeeeeeeh! I didn’t know I was in there! (Broken Pencil is pretty the voice of canadian underground press)

“Underwater Cigarettes is what a little zine should be. Lovingly crafted and photocopied, it’s a smorgasbord of drawings, photos, vegan manifestos, stories and a dash of random musings on life. The entire zine is handwritten, and mercifully, Elizabeth’s writing is neat and legible. I sometimes found the vegan bits a tad preachy, but the random life reflections and artwork make up for it. There’s a wintery/hibernation/holiday theme and even a “bonus recipe” for pork cake! She probably found in it an old recipe book back in the day when they didn’t know better. Ingredients call for a pound of fresh ground pork, molasses, cinnamon, dates and raisins.” –Michelle Kay

I found the pork cake recipe in an ooooold soul food cookbook and it just about knocked my funny bone clear to tuesday, I just had to include it. But there’s real recipes in there too! Holiday stuffing, wine-marinated tofu, soy whipped topping, pumpkin pie and how to make a pie crust (and a happy NOT-eaten pig presiding over the food pages). So yeah, if anyone wants a copy for $2 canadian plus postage, email me at underwatercigarettes@gmail.com and I’ll send one right your way! :D

(oh yeah, and the vegan bits? NOT PREACHY. Sometimes I think all you have to do is mention the V-word and people go all buggy and defensive. I was just talking about why *I* eat the way I do, and briefly at that.)

There’s more good news, too! To nurture the sourdough starter in the beginning, you have to toss out 1/2 cup of it and replace it with fresh flour each day. But today it looked really ready, with a white foam and a delicious smooth sourness. So I figured why waste the 1/2 cup and why not attempt to make pancakes?

*ahem*

I have not eaten pancakes before this day.

Gorgeous, fluffy, tangy and sweet, slight crisp outside, the texture is to DIE for and they cooked up like an absolute dream – I am never ever making soggy old regular pancakes again (at least, not unless they have cool things like chocolate or figs in them, because I’m pretty bad at making the regular ones). Seriously, this is the stuff pancake dreams are made of. Yay sourdough!

And I rarely eat pasta, but I do love a good pesto. So I threw together some whole wheat spaghetti, tomatoes, marinated broccoli, greek olives, and spinach & sunflower seed pesto for an A+ awesome lunch. Gotta celebrate, right? :D

This, my friends, is a $2 yellow pepper. I didn’t plan it like that – I was just doing my usual fridge restocking after getting home (lazy stuff, baba ganouj, pita, carrots, etc) when I saw it looking all taut and beautiful next to some green ones on sale. I figured, “hey, why not?”, but they tricked me with their misleading sale arrangements – it was so expensive! Not that I wasn’t going to appreciate it…

And in light of a grocery faux pas, I made another one! I pass this at the dollar store ALL the TIME and it’s always tempted me with it’s non-food prepackaged glory (yes, it’s vegan!). So I finally bought it for some reason, for $1.

First result, an absolute scrumpfest of a roasted veggie sandwich – eggplant, red onion, baba ganouj, garlic, lemon, regular roasted onion and loads of kalamata olives – sooooo goood. And the yellow pepper was 100% the star here, and I had enough for 2 sammies and a half-pepper left over besides! Lovely.

Result #2: After 3 minutes in the microwave and some ingenious plastic draining action, I had myself a little tray of insta-food. I wish I could say it sucked, guys, I really do. But oh my god, I never eat food like this cause it’s completely nutritionally awful, but this was some tasty MSG-ed tvp. Generously spicy, the noodles were chewy, the oil/flavour packet combo was zesty in a kind of Doritos way. Anyway… I probably won’t buy this again. But that’s only because I could feel my body going “nooooo!” while my tastebuds went “yesssss!!!”, and that’s not a good habit to get into.

Oh, and I found a video that pretty neatly explains all the hard work involved in making this noodle-crack —-

Okay, seeing as people are getting into the nitty-gritty of their vegan ways, I guess I should follow suit. Plus, it’s excuse to post a sketch instead of my dinner. :p

I grew up in a very british-styled household, at least concerning food. My mother was the master of scalloped potatoes, pork chops, beef stews, rich cakes, yorkshire puddings, casseroles of every flavour, you name it. I don’t think I ever really took to it (except maybe the potatoes), so when we eventually started living in a communal household with some hippies and midwives and professors and nerds, all of a sudden food came alive. Every night all 11+ of us (plus a rotating roster of semi-permanent and always welcome houseguests) would sit down at this HUGE round oak table they’d gotten in the Phillipines to a spread that just filled the senses with it’s love and variety and interest. I don’t think we could do a meal without having at least 7 or 8 various optional dishes; tapenades, marinated seasonal vegetables, dips and spreads, homemade breads, always a soup, and always a gigantic salad bowl with greens from the garden and a homemade vinaigrette or two on the side.

So I kind of fell in love with food there, and was vegetarian pretty much the moment I stepped in the door. That was at twelve or so, and then at sixteen I decided to climb the horse and go all the way vegan! I made it a year, and I’ll be honest – I couldn’t let go of Sour Skittles completely, and my nutrition was probably lacking around the edges. But it felt really really right.

After that year passed I got busy. School got hard, I think I accidentally ate a slice of pizza, and veganism was shelved for a long long time. And it always kind of tickled the back of my mind, like I was really only eating yogurt and eggs because they were cheap and healthy and not because I really enjoyed them. So I was thrilled when I realized this summer that YES I have time to soak beans again and YES I have a few extra bucks to spend on supplements, and I CAN BE VEGAN AGAIN (thank all that is soaked in tamari!).

So yeah, it really comes down to, this is who I am, this is how I like to eat. I love animals and I’m vehemently against the farm industry, but I haven’t seen Earthlings or any of those movies and don’t really care to. I’m just happy (and my soul rests a lot easier) knowing that my footprint is smaller for the way I choose to eat, and plus, food like this just tastes better, you know? :)

Edit: I saw Earthlings and it disturbed the bejeezus out of me, which is pretty much why I didn’t want to see it. hmm. Still glad it exists, though.

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