Which most closely describes you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Veganize Me!

I'm very excited to tell you that I'm giving the vegan biz a try! Check out my new website!

I will still continue to post on Vegan Etc., although I won't be giving away as many recipes since it would defeat the purpose of my new project :) but will continue to share lots of pics and food ideas and news!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quick lunch

Tamari tofu. Yum! It's the simplest - and one of my favourite ways - to flavour tofu.

Here is a super quick and fulfilling lunch.

Before you leave for work in the morning, marinate cubes of firm tofu in tamari and rice wine vinegar (add some fresh grated ginger root if you want).

When you get home for lunch or dinner, you can choose to either eat it cold as is, or quickly pan fry it in a touch of peanut and sesame oil with onions, bok choy, almonds, more tamari and garnish with sriracha sauce.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vegan in the T Dot

My chum and I went to Toronto a few weekends ago for our anniversary. He's a nerd (a very cute one) over ancient history, so, for him, the trip highlight was the King Tut exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. For me, the trip was a big, fat food fest. A big, fat, vegan food fest! Whenever I visit Toronto, I consume more calories in a single weekend than I do in a full week at home.

Friday we went to Spring Rolls on Dundas for dinner which, when I was a poor and starving journalism student, is where I used to scarf down pad thai and basil noodles between Greyhound buses on my painfully long and stinky rides from North Bay to London! They have a vegetarian section on their menu which assures us that "all of the above dishes are free of dairy, eggs, meat and seafood". Always appreciated. I ordered salad rolls with hoisin dipping sauce as an app and Ho Fun noodles with deep fried tofu for my main. (pic above)

For lunch the next day, Lebanese! A veggie pita loaded with deep fried cauliflower and eggplant, pickled turnip, lettuce, tomatoes, tabouleh, hummus and tahini. I challenge all meat eaters to forego the chicken shawarma next time they eat middle eastern food and try this veggie alternative. It is to die for.
For dinner Saturday night, I brought my VERY good sport of a non-vegetarian boyfriend to Fresh on Bloor street. To start, we shared sweet potato fries and quinoa-battered onion rings with vegan garlic mayo to dip! These onion rings are thick! For dinner, he had a curried chickpea wrap (he didn't love it...I would have eaten it but he ordered it with cheese). I had the Beach bowl, which has really nicely marinated tofu steaks with avocado, sun dried tomatoes, roasted zuch and micro greens on soba noodles (pic above).

I am reluctant to admit this but....for dessert....I ordered a slice of soy chocolate cake, a cream-stuffed cupcake and a choco-lavender cupcake too. Don't worry, I only ate two of them that night. I saved the third for lunch the next day.

On Sunday, I FINALLY hit Panacea - Toronto's first and only all-vegan grocery store. My friends, I have been to heaven. Everything, and I mean everything a vegan wants to eat is there. All the best things that I can't get in North Bay were there - they even had DAIYA cheese! Normally they only allow one container per customer, but when I lamented my long drive from North Bay, they sold me two. I think they are the only place in Ontario selling Daiya in-store. Oh, and they carry some stuff from Sweets from the Earth Vegan Bakery. Best. Vegan. Sweets. Ever.

On the way home, we stopped in Muskoka and hit the Farmer's Daughter, where I always buy awesome egg-free pasta imported from Italy.
What a trip! Ancient history lesson, check. New dress, check. Romantic dinner for two, check. 2 per cent more body fat, check!
(Pic above - Chocolate Pecan Caramel by Sweets from the Earth)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A soup with no season

Spring has been playing peek-a-boo. We've had a few really warm days this month. Not today though. I went running outside and I had a bit of a chill a little while after, so I knew soup was definitely on the menu for dinner. I looked in my fridge and saw a little bit of 4 different kinds of mushrooms leftover from last week's groceries. I improvised a cream of mushroom soup and tossed in some baby spinach to make it a bit more healthy.

Here's tonight's dinner. (Makes one huge or two small bowls)

You need:

1 cup soy milk
1 cup veg broth
1 cup of roughly chopped mushrooms (I used a mix of white, cremini, shitake, enoki)
1 cup of baby spinach
1 shallot, finely chopped (if you dont have shallots, just use 1/4 cup regular onion!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsb vegan margarine
1 tsp Braggs (liquid soy)
1/2 tsp thyme (I find dry works better than fresh in cream soups)
splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt, pepper
1 tbsp soy sour cream (optional)

In a medium pot, sautee shallots in olive oil on medium high for a minute. Add garlic and margarine and cook for another minute. Add mushrooms, season with salt, pepper and thyme and cook for 5 minutes or until mushrooms take on a bit of colour. Add flour and stir quickly for 30 seconds. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and Braggs and stir a bit more. Add broth and soy milk, stir and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes. Add spinach and, if you want it extra creamy, stir in a tbsp of soy sour cream right before serving.Garnish with more enoki shrooms!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teese, please

I recently visited Panacea on Bloor Street in Toronto (which merits its own post so stay tuned, this place is vegan heaven) and picked up a few vareties of Teese cheese by Chicago SoyDairy, including Nacho Sauce. I wouldn't recommend eating this stuff cold, but I give it an 8 out of 10 when melted. It's the closest thing a vegan can get to amusement park nacho cheese! I fully enjoyed it. It even gets that plasticky top layer if it sits too long after melting! Ahh yes, it brought me back to my university days of eating B-and lower-grade food. I don't think Teese is half as damaging to my body as "real" fake stuff, so I went ahead and ate half a pack in one sitting. I melted some for Taco night. I spread some on a few open-face tacos and, you'll see below, blobbed it on another few. My tacos are topped with Yves ground soy (quickly pan fried), salsa, Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, lettuce, onions and tomatoes.,

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fancy Friday Finger Food

Do you ever get that urge to wrap your food? And each time, you try to be a little more clever about it? Well, this is hardly clever, but it tought it looked pretty darn cute. I was craving Tofurkey deli slices, but minus the bread (trying to shed my *ahem* winter coat). So instead, I wrapped them around something. I blanched then pan- fried some asparagus spears in olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and loads of rainbow cracked pepper, then wrapped them in deli slices and pan-fried again. Still hungry! Then I thought of my friend Meg - who once told me she loved to wrap kale around vege pate (she also gave me that cute little dish the food is on). I didn't have kale, so I used the last of my collard greens and rolled them with the pate and loads of fresh dill. Who knew un-fried-low-carb finger food could be this good.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Deep fried tofu for me, deep fried tofu for you

Deep fried tofu. It is my favourite thing on the planet. The best and biggest selection of deep fried tofu dishes drenched in perfectly balanced asian sauces that I have tried are in Chinatown Ottawa at what will forever be my favourite place to eat in the entire universe: So Good. I am not worthy, Peter So (manager, chef, and sauce maker extraordinaire), but here is one of many So Good tributes from my kitchen.

For one serving, start by deep frying about 6-8 cubes of medium tofu until really crispy on the outside (make sure you strain it and pat it dry before you fry). Set aside. Deep fry a handful of blanched almonds until golden, about 20 seconds. Set aside.

Now the sauce. In a bowl, whisk together a little more than half a cup of water with 2 tbsps of soy sauce, 1 heaping tbsp of hoisin sauce, 1 tsp of sugar or sweetner, sriracha sauce (I used a little less than a tsp), 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, half a tsp of tapioca starch (you can use potato or corn starch too), and 1 clove of garlic, minced.

Now in a wok, heat 2 tbsps of veg oil with a splash of sesame oil. Flavour your oil by tossing in a few chunks of peeled fresh ginger root and sizzle them for a few minutes and remove. Now on medium-high (closer to high) heat, stir fry your veggies for about 3 minutes alone then toss in your tofu and the sauce and stir fry for another 3 minutes.
That's it! Top with almonds!

(my veggies were broccoli, cauliflower, onions, bok choy, water chesnuts, bamboo shoots, carrots, celery)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chickpeas and Wilted Lettuce on Rice

Chickpeas remind me of my childhood. I remember the kids at school thinking it was funny when I'd eat them one by one out of a little container at recess.

Here is a dish that makes me feel good all over. Chickpeas on my favourite blend of rice - wild, brown, red and sweet - it has great nutty flavour. I bought it pre-mixed. You can find these blends at your local bulk store.

Cook the rice as directed but to the water add a veg broth cube, a bay leaf, 1tsp dried sage, pepper and a big splash of olive oil.

In a pan, sautee finely minced onion, garlic and chopped celery in olive oil with rosemary, salt and pepper on medium heat. When softened, add chickpeas (drained if you're using canned) and cook for another 5 minutes. Add a big handful of julienned romaine lettuce and cook until wilted - about 3 minutes. Deglaze your pan with your favourite liquid (I just used water because I had nothing fancy on hand). Spoon over rice!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Veggies Make the Water Cooler

I'm back!

Never dreamed I'd say this, but veganism and vegetarianism have been the stars of water cooler talk in North Bay lately. A Facebook group was created recently where a local vegetarian revealed that our city's most beloved, 40-year-old pizza place has been using lard (pig fat) in the dough of all of its pizzas, including, you guessed it, vegetarian pizzas. Around this time, I discovered that another local restaurant has been flavouring its tofu dishes (which are listed under a menu section labelled "vegetarian") with chicken stock. It generated some really interesting (and heated) debates....have a look here. Since then, the pizza joint has promised to offer an alternative: a whole wheat pizza dough that is 100% vegetarian. Thumbs up!

Here is tonight's dinner in my own vegan kitchen. Oat-crusted chickn fingers with roasted potato salad and veggies with garlicky curry dip.

Chickn fingers were made with Gardein chicken, sliced into strips and coated with a mixture of rolled oats, creole powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and pan fried until golden brown.

Potato salad was made by oven roasting 4 medium diced potatoes which were coated in olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, and, once done and cooled to room temperature, tossed with chopped celery, fresh dill, fresh chives, half a tsp of dijon, tbsp vegenaise (vegan mayo), tbsp soy sour cream, 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, 1 clove garlic (mashed into a paste).

The dip for the veggies is a secret for now, sorrry ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Daiya shipment numero deux!

I mentioned in a previous post that upon trying Daiya for the first time, I became an instant Daiya devotee. No other vegan cheese melts or tastes this good. I ordered more Daiya, in both mozza and cheddar flavours, from www.vivagranola.com for the holidays. For North Bay readers, I've recommended it to Bins and Bins and was asked to bring my next Daiya order in to show them, so here's hoping the best vegan cheese becomes available in North Bay in 2010!

Here is a blend of Daiya cheddar and mozza used in creamy tomato mac n cheez. If I can offer a tip, add most of your Daiya quantity near the end of making a dish like this one. It melts very fast and has a tendency to dissolve when cooked too long.

Below is the mozza or "Italian style" Daiya - it's quite good cold on salads and reminds me of fresh grated parmesan.

I caved and ordered another Sweet & Sara product. I will hug and kiss Sara if and when I meet her. Their "Smores" really hit the spot. And I love that all of their stuff if handmade too - with lots of love I'm sure. But I don't find it tastes like a Smore as much as a....(and my boyfriend is the one who hit the nail on the head on this one)....Wagon Wheel. Remember those things? Well either way, this S&S one is better tasting - and better for you. Everything in it is natural, organic and none of the oils are hydrogenated. Bonus.

Ooooh yes!

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Years Eve Buffet

I bought a house last summer and still hadn’t gotten around to doing the housewarming thing so I decided to host a NYE party, starring, of course, an obscene amount of food. My guests were not vegan so I tried to keep things safe and simple. Here are a few of the dishes that were on my buffet:

Fruit n Nut Couscous:
Couscous was cooked with a blend of juices and water, and tossed with chopped nuts and dried fruit, and spices. Sorry, secret recipe for now :)

Dilly Waldorf Salad on Red Endive:
Salad was made with finely chopped apple, fennel, celery, toasted walnuts, vegan mayo, lemon juice, loads of fresh dill, salt and pepper.

Guacamole with Toasted Tortilla:
Easy guacamole: avocado, chopped tomato, minced (seeded) jalapeno pepper, fresh lime juice, chopped fresh cilantro, garlic, hot sauce, olive oil, salt, pepper. Tortilla was cut into wedges and tossed in olive oil, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili power, salt and pepper and baked in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Potato Wedges with Garlic Dip: Sorry friends, this one is a secret recipe for now.

Sober Upper Toasters! Curried Cauliflower Soup with Red Pepper Drizzle:
See recipe below. If you’re wondering why these look a bit messy, it was after midnight, and I have terrible fine motor skills to begin with, so my hands weren't so steady at this point, wink.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Curried Cauliflower Soup with Red Pepper Drizzle

There was a little Martha in me this Christmas. I wanted to share a little taste of my vegan holidays with the ladies at work, so I made them all this boootiful, colourful Michael Smith-inspired curried cauliflower soup with red pepper drizzle.

I am a huge, HUGE fan of Chef Michael Smith (Food Network Canada - Chef at Home, Chef Abroad). He's not vegan, not even vegetarian, but he consistently shines a big, bright spotlight on his veggie dishes. He's a big nerd over food, just like moi hehe. I totally dig his passion for flavour combinations. Did I just say "totally dig"??

Michael, je t'adore, but I've made a few adjustments to this recipe ;)

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion, diced
1 1/2 cups veg stock
1 1/2 cups orange juice
Olive oil, about a 1/4 cup
1/2 cup (loose) chopped fresh cilantro
A big slpash of Braggs
1 tbsp curry powder
Pinch more of turmeric, mainly to enhance the colour
Salt, pepper

1 large red pepper
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 tbps olive oil
Salt, pepper

In a big baking pan, toss cauliflower and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in a 350 degree oven for at least 30 minutes or until a bit golden. When finished, combine cauliflower and onions with the rest of the soup ingredients (except the cilantro) in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes. After about 15 minutes, puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a blender) until smooth. Add cilantro at the very end.

In another pot, simmer all the red pepper drizzle ingredients together until peppers are very soft then puree until mixture is perfectly smooth. Pour soup in bowls and drizzle red pepper puree on top and garnish with more cilantro.
(pic above is from Food Network...i forgot to snap a shot of my own garnished soup :) )

Monday, December 14, 2009

On the fly post

Not a whole lot of down time lately so I'm not able to blog as often :( I hope to get back into more frequent posting in the new year. For now, here are a few quick ones.

Pan fried polenta discs stacked with marinara, Teese cheeze medalions, sauteed mushrooms, zuch and spinach.

"I only have 10 minutes to cook and eat" salad: chick peas, lots of fresh dill, kale, cauliflower, hearts of palm, celery, green onion, vegan mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, braggs, salt, pepper.

20 Minute Lentil Soup: red lentils, veggie broth, splash of coconut milk and braggs, celery, onion, zuch, curry blend, more turmeric, spinach, cilantro, soy sour cream or soygurt garnish.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Viva vivagranola.com!

Vegan shopping in North Bay is improving but it is by no means Toronto. We have some of everything but the problem is we don't have the best of everything. For example, we have vegan cheese, but not Daiya. Reading my copy of VegNews was always a big tease - flipping through pages showing amazing vegan products I couldn't get my hands on. That is until last month when I discovered www.vivagranola.com, an online vegan store which ships all the best vegan products from Quebec. Won't Daiya go bad in the mail? Nope! They toss in a freezer pack for a couple of bucks!

Here is what I ordered (each of the item headings below should link to vivagranola's product description webpages):

For so long I've been drooling over pics of Daiya recipes and couldn't quite believe how well it appeared to melt. I bought it, melted it, ate it and............it's true! It really does melt just like cheese! I couldn't get over it. Stings of cheese! Other vegan cheese brands say 'it melts', but lets be honest here, they melt into liquid, not into ooey gooey goodness! I'm guessing arrowroot was the key to Daiya's success. I don't really care actually. It tastes amazing. I'm declaring myself a Daiya Devotee. For life.

I tried Daiya in a bunch of dishes but here are pics of vegan mexi macaroni casserole made with Yves mexican ground soy and scalloped potatoes:


This stuff is quite nice. No aftertaste. Very smooth texture. It doesn't melt very well but it tastes great cold in salads, on sandwhiches or crackers.

These are very close to the real thing - mind you, it's been over 5 years since I've had a marshmellow. The Sweet and Sara ones are very sweet, and less chalky than the non vegan ones, which is good. I made crispy rice squares with them and my only tip would be to break the S&S mashmellows into small pieces before trying to melt them into the recipe. They don't break down or melt as easily as non vegan marshmellows. I will definitely buy these again and again.

Jokerz candy bar (mimics Snickers):

It was love at first bite. But I can't believe that I, a chocolate bar-deprived vegan, am about to say this.... this bar was almost too sweet. Maybe it's because my tastebuds have been on candy bar vacation for five years, but I could barely finish this. I took a break and then polished it off. And it was great. I hope Crispy Cat bars expand their variety soon too...hey who's to say, in 10 years, we could see vegan sections at Macs corner stores. Maybe not.

Primal Stips - Key Lime and Teriyaki flavours:More, please. That's all I have to say about that.

PS - I am mad at Blogger! Does anyone else have a problem with photos? My pics remain thumbnails and arent clickable for some reason. Why?????

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barley on the side

I think I will name my next pet Barley. Wouldn’t that be a great name for a dog? Ok, back to food. I find barley is so underrated. It’s fantasterrific swimming in soups, but I thoroughly enjoy spoonfuls of “big-bite-barley”as I call it, so I often swap it for rice in side and main dishes.
Here is an easy barley side dish:

You need:
1 cup pearl or pot barley
3 cups vegetable broth
1 zucchini, halved then chopped
1 cooking onion, halved then thinly sliced
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil
Vegan margarine
Bay leaf
Herbes de Provence
Fresh thyme
Salt, pepper

Cook your barley in 2 ½ cups of the vegetable broth and toss in a bay leaf and a tsp of dried Herbes de Provence (or whatever herbs you have).

In the meantime, heat a tbsp of olive oil and a tsp of vegan margarine in a skillet. Cook your onions until almost caramelized. Toss in the garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, a sprig of thyme, a pinch of herbs, salt, pepper.

When barley is cooked, toss it in the skillet with the vegetables and add the remaining ½ cup of veggie broth. Toss in the spinach, a big slash of olive oil and cook until broth is fully absorbed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pan-fried Tofurky Deli Slices on a Sandwich. C'est Bon!

Toasted sprouted grain bread
Faux cheddar cheese
Pan-fried Tofurky Deli Slices & red onions

With sweet potato medallions, heart of palm, dill pickle,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fatty Fat Fat Fried Her Food

Cajun deep fried pickles and onions. How could I resist? This is a veganized Emeril Lagasse recipe...my apologies. Man is he annoying.

I served these goodies atop a bed of coleslaw (chopped cabbage, vegenaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, chopped pickles, paprika).

You need:

About a dozen dill pickles, some whole, some halved, some quartered, for fun
1 large onion, sliced, rings pulled apart individually (you could also do onion wedges)

Part A of batter:
2 cups soy creamer
2 tsps hot sauce
Egg replacer equivalent to two eggs
(mix together in bowl A)

Part B of batter:
1 cup AP flour
1 cup corn flour
2 tbsps creole spice mix
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
As much cayenne as you want
salt, pepper
(mix together in bowl B)

Oil for frying

Heat about 3 inches of oil in a tall pot (or deep fryer...I purposely don't have one because I'm a big pig and I'd use it all the time) to 350 degrees. Dunk pickles and onion rings in bowl A, then bowl B, let them sit for a few minutes, then dunk again in bowl B. Deep fry in small batches until golden and crispy and delicious and fattening.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Big Brunch

Most days, breakfast is coffee, a handful of almonds and a fruit or two. But lately there is something about Sundays that puts me in a big brunching mood. A la table ce matin - rosti and banana pancakes - ouf! My belly hurts. Rosti is a traditional Swiss potato dish that is similar to hashbrowns but the potato is always grated and often cooked with different ingredients like bacon (ick), onions or cheese. Since an enormous serving of fried potatoes wasn't enough for this pig, I stuffed my face with banana pancakes too.

Rosti - you need:

Two large, waxy type potatoes, peeled and grated (for best results, use day old par boiled potatoes. but uncooked will work just fine.)
1/4 cup very thinly sliced onion (optional)
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used taragon, chives and dill)
Vegetable oil
1 tsp vegan margarine
Salt, pepper

Grate your potatoes with the largest holes on your cheese grater. Strain excess liquid. Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil and margarine in a non stick pan to medium high heat. Add potatoes, onions and herbs, pack them firmly together into a "pancake". Season with salt and pepper. Cover with lid and cook for ten minutes. Now the fun part. Flip the rosti onto a plate, add a touch more margarine to the pan then return rosti to the pan to cook the other side for another ten minutes. Garnish with sour cream (I used Yoso today), herbs and fresh veggies or fruit.

A couple of vegan banana pancakes - you need:

1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Half of one very ripe banana, smashed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar or sweetner
Small splash of vanilla

In a bowl, combine banana with the soy milk, vanilla and sweetner (if it's liquid sweetner). In another bowl, sift together flour and baking power (and sugar or sweetner if it's dry sweetner). Combine dry and wet ingredients together and stir lightly. If you mix too rigorously, the pancake will be too tough. Cook them (recipe makes two medium pancakes) in a bit of oil or margarine (I find latter works better) in a non stick pan until golden on each side. I was feeling particularly piggy today so I garnished mine with icing sugar, maple syrup, margarine, walnuts and sliced bananas.