Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stupendously Easy White Bean Sandwich Spread

White Bean Spread

So, apparently, there's some kind of large, international sporting competition happening right now in the Western portion of my home country. It's so important that somehow our Prime Minister has been allowed to shut down parliament for a few months. And also, 30 Rock hasn't been on for two weeks, which leaves me quite short on TV-related hilarity. My arms-crossed-cranky-assed teenage self was right: sports does ruin everything.

Just kidding. Kind of. It's true I'm not interested in the Olympics. Or sports. But I don't begrudge people who enjoy them, especially those who participate in sports or exercise. I, myself, enjoy running. Not that I've been running since winter showed us what its made of. However, just as we can all feel the sun getting stronger, I can feel my desire to run coming back to me.

What does this have to do with sandwich spread? Well, almost nothing. Except this is the kind of healthly, proteiny, delicious type of food I start to crave as I think about coming out of winter hibernation. The Man of Science and I had this on some sandwiches last night alongside bowls of black bean soup. Extra beans! And this spread works as a dip as well, as you can see up there with the carrots. So the leftovers go a long way. Enjoy!


White Bean Sandwich Spread

2 cups cooked or canned white beans
1 cup artichoke hearts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
4 sun dried tomatoes (I used the kind that are packed in oil)
3 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse to combine. I left mine a bit chunky so the nice red and green of the tomatoes and cilantro could come through.

Some Notes:

-I just noticed this week that the bean aisle at Bulk Barn is labelled with a big sign reading "Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit!" Really. I applaud whatever corporate smartass came up with that idea for the sign.

-This is one of those dishes that, minus the fresh cilantro, could be made entirely from non-perishables that you have in your pantry. I wouldn't omit the fresh herbs, though. They make a huge difference.

-Last year, the Man of Science and I were at a favourite tapas place and the bartender asked us when our anniversary was. We don't really celebrate any anniversary, but I did know the day of our first meeting (because I'm a soft-touch and I kept the page from that year's agenda book with its tiny note about a "dog walk" on Sunday, February 11th) so I piped up with that date. And then promptly forgot the whole thing in favour of more wine. This year, a card arrived in the mail from the restaurant congratulating us on our anniversary and offering a discount on a meal to celebrate. Hooray! So tonight we are going out for our discounted anniversary dinner. Which is waaaay more romantic than it sounds.


Monday, February 22, 2010

And the winner is....



Mary posted two different (and quite awesome) kitchen disasters. One on the Facebook Group:

And one right here on the blog:

The Man of Science closed his eyes and drew her name from the bowl this morning. Congratulations, Mary! Send me an e-mail (address on the About Me page) or a FB message with your address and the cookbook will be on its way to you by the end of the week.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I loved, loved, loved hearing all those great disaster stories!


Sunday, February 21, 2010


brother monkeys

These sock monkeys would like to remind you that today is your last chance to potentially win a copy of the excellent, excellent Veganomicon cookbook. All you need to do is go to Friday's post and leave me a comment about your favourite kitchen disaster. It doesn't have to be long, it just has to be disastrous. We'll draw the winner tomorrow and post the lucky person's name for all to see.

Good luck!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Bake Sale Fail and CONTEST!

bake sale

We all know what they say about the best laid plans.

When some people in my office announced that they were planning a bake sale to raise money for Haiti relief I was really excited. I'd been reading about lots of super successful bake sales that had raised a ton of money and also moved some excellent baked goods into the mouths of the eager public. I wanted to be a part of it all.

I worked hard. I made big batches of blueberry lemon cupcakes and double chocolate cookies. I packed them away carefully and wrote up the ingredient lists. I put them in places that our pets have no access to. And then I went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning my throat was raw and my nose was running like a tap. I was achey, tired, and cranky. In a word, sick.

Maybe I got it from some diseased New Yorkers. Maybe from some kids in one of the daycares I was visiting. It's likely, though, that I got it from other people in my office. They've been dropping like flies all week. I didn't think I should add to the trouble by dragging my sniffley self in to work with three tubs of my homemade baked goods. Who wants to accept a cookie from someone whose nose is running?

Alas, my baked goods sit in the fridge and freezer, waiting to be eaten, given away, or (eep!) thrown out. It is a big bummer. I am trying to be cool about it. And I am still sick. In bed for the second day in a row. Ugh.

However! I have exciting news for you all. This Bake Sale Fail is the perfect set up for my very first blog giveaway. I've been wanting to do this since Christmas. Why Christmas, you ask? Well, because for Christmas I got TWO copies of this:

And while the cupcakes pictured at the beginning of this post are a modified version of one of my own recipes, those chocolate cookies are straight out of Veganomicon. And they are fantastic! So of course, if you don't have it already, you want to win my extra copy of this cookbook.

To enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me about one of your food-related fails. Runny cookie dough? Flat muffins? Epic food poisoning? Soggy spring rolls? Let us all know about it.

2. You can enter A SECOND TIME if you are a member of the It Ain't Meat, Babe Facebook group. To enter over there, post your food fail on the group's wall.

3. I will write down the names of all the entrants from the blog and the Facebook group and have The Unbiased and Extremely Careful Man of Science draw the winner's name.

4. You have until Sunday at midnight to enter. The winner's name will be announced on Monday. Then I'll need you to e-mail me your address and I'll send you the book.

Only people in Canada and the USA can enter. Sorry internationalites. It's a hardcover book and I don't want to break the bank sending it to far off places.

Good luck!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New York Vegan: Babycakes Bakery


So, most of my trip to New York this past weekend involved eating on the run. For instance, on Saturday I had a veggie burger for lunch and another veggie burger for dinner. Although it was out of character for me, I spent most of the trip thinking about things other than food. I chalk this up to the fact that my New York friends are amazing and I don't get to see them often enough.

However! My trip to New York wouldn't have been complete without at least one special vegan field trip. In this case, my friend and lovely hostess, Hallie, took me to Babycakes vegan bakery where we joined the Valentine's Day throngs and came away with some exciting cupcakes.


But I'm getting ahead of myself. First of all, let me say that the bakery itself is adorable! All pink and retro and bright and lovely. It made me have fleeting fantasies of being young again so I could run away to New York City and bake vegan cupcakes all day and go see pop-punk shows every night. Even though in reality the 34 year old me is exhausted just thinking about it.

option paralysis

And you know what the best thing was? In a word: Agave. Yes, my old friend agave, the sweetener that allows me to eat baked goods without totally messing with my wonky blood sugar. Babycakes had a whole bunch of cupcakes that were sweetened only with agave and boy, did that ever make me a happy girl. I selected a pumpkin spice gluten-free cupcake and a chocolate cupcake made with spelt flour. Both were agave-sweetened. No sugar at all. And they packed them up in the cutest box ever.

easy bake

Hallie and I took the cupcakes and some cute heart-shaped sugar cookies over to her friend Joanna's lovely, East Village, exposed-brick, studio apartment and ate them while reclining on pillows, drinking hot beverages, and talking about boys. It made for an excellent afternoon.


Though I have to say, Hallie and I agreed that the spelt chocolate cupcakes were a bit dry. I loved the icing though, seeing as it had all of the creamy-ness of regular icing without the face-melting sweetness. My pumpkin cupcake was delicious, though a bit too muffiny to really be called a cupcake. I wish I'd had the time and money to sample the rest of their baked goods. The brownies and donuts both looked great. And our heart shaped sugar cookie was really tasty.

So that's the only truly exciting vegan news I have from my trip. Perhaps a more food-oriented New York trip is in my future but this one was really more about great friends and fun musical events than it was about eating. I hope this bakery fun is satisfying enough for all of you out there!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vegan Valentine: Raw Cashew "Cheesecake" Bites

vegan raw cashew cheesecake bites

Nothing says I love you like cheesecake. That sounds like innuendo, but I’m being literal. Me, I was never a cheesecake kind of girl. Even when I consumed dairy products I did so in relative moderation (Except for whipped cream. Lovely, lovely whipped cream…) so something about heavy, milky cheesecakes always put me off. Once I tried to make a cheesecake for the Man of Science for Valentines Day. He liked it, but just looking at the pile of dairy products on the counter made us both a little queasy. Cream cheese! Sour cream! Whipping cream! Butter for the crust! Yikes!

However, a few weeks ago I was working in the west end of the city and I stopped at Rainbow Foods. For those of you who don’t live in Ottawa, Rainbow Foods is a fairly large independent health food store with an amazing selection of products, edible and otherwise. It’s the only place in the city I’ve been able to find large containers of natural dish soap that actually cleans my dishes.

So, I was on my way to the soap section when I spotted a single-serving raw cheesecake in the prepared foods aisle. It had no sugar, dairy, soy, gluten, or anything else problematic in it. As soon as I was back in my car, I dug in immediately. Verdict? Delicious! And not even in a “this is delicious for something with no sugar, dairy, soy or gluten” kind of way. Just plain delicious. All on its own. I e-mailed Megan and rhapsodized about it, pledging to make my own version at home as soon as possible.

Poking around the internet, I found this recipe from Vegetarian Times seemed to be the big winner in the raw cheesecake department. I use it as the basis for mine with a few tweaks. I can’t wait to do some more experimenting with flavours. Chocolate would be pretty nice. But we begin here with lovely vanilla. Enjoy! I hope this recipe gets you some action, if that’s what you’re in the market for this February! At least the object of your affection won’t be weighed down by all kinds of dairy products. Hmmm, maybe there’s something to this whole “vegans make better lovers" thing after all!

nuts to you

Raw Cashew Cheesecake Bites
(adapted from Vegetarian Times)

1 ½ cups raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
1 ½ cups raw, unsalted cashews or cashew pieces
½ cup pitted, chopped dates
¼ cup dried, unsweetened grated coconut
6 tbsp coconut oil (heated until liquid)
¼ cup agave nectar
Juice of one lime or one lemon
½ vanilla bean, insides scraped out

-Soak macadamia nuts and cashew nuts in separate bowls of cold water, over night in the fridge.

-Drain water from nuts. Place macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until they are small crumbs.

-Remove nuts and then pulse dates in processor until they are a mashed, sticky blob.

-Combine macadamia crumbs, date mush, and grated coconut into a uniform mixture.

-Press this mixture into the bottom of a square (8 inch or so) cake pan. You can line the pan with tin foil for easy removal if you’d like.

-Clean out food processor and put your drained cashews into it.

-Add coconut oil, agave, lime, vanilla and process until completely smooth.

-Spoon cashew mixture on top of macadamia mixture and spread it out as evenly as possible.

-Place pan in freezer for at least an hour. Then remove, cut into small, cute squares, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.


Some Notes:

-Megan ate one of my testers for this recipe when we were out drinking beer and knitting one night. She was quite delighted by it, and I was glad it lived up to my enthusiastic description of its prototype. “I will make these!” she promised.

-I am off to New York City tomorrow! I will, as usual, try to report on what vegan delights I get to eat when I’m there. It will be a whirlwind trip and I’ll be home on Monday. There are two different kinds of soup in the freezer so the Man of Science doesn’t starve in my absence (black bean tomato that I made and potato leek that he made).

-Once again, I don’t recommend presenting this to a conventional omnivore and calling it “cheesecake”. I would just say it’s a frozen treat and leave it at that. Because the chances are too high that someone will give you a hard time about it not being “real” cheesecake and I like to keep the aggravation in my life to a minimum.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Vegan Valentine: Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

love muffin

"Oh!! They're hearts!" said the Man of Science when he saw the photo above.

"You ate one of these last night," I said, "Didn't you notice it was shaped like a heart?"

"Well, no. I just thought it was a square with one corner missing. I thought, great, she gave me a broken one."

Yes folks, it's all romance all the time around here. So much so, I will actually be away on a solo trip to New York City this Valentine's Day, unable to resist an event featuring a bunch of cover bands performing songs from the heyday of Riot Grrrl. Ah well. The Man of Science is not into Valentine's Day anyway, so a mis-identified heart-shaped muffin should satisfy his minimal need for romantic gestures.

The cranberries add a Valentine-appropriate splash of red, but you could use anything in here: strawberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, whatever. These cranberries, though, were a special treat I've been saving in my freezer since I bought them in December at a local farmer's Christmas market. That's right! Local berries in Ontario in February. I really do need to freeze more stuff next year.

And, since we're talking about love, sweet love, here's something for you to watch before you get baking. Sam the cat is in love with my dog. Or at least in love with her high body temperature and relative patience.

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup quick cook oatmeal
1 cup of unsweetened almond or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup frozen or fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Add vanilla to almond or soy milk and let stand for one minute. Then, add milk/vanilla mixture to the oatmeal and set it aside.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt together.

Add oil, sugar, and applesauce to the oatmeal mixture.

Stir in dry ingredients, don't over mix.

Fold in cranberries.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops of muffins have browned slightly.

Makes 12 muffins.

Some Notes:

-Our plumbing problem that kept me from posting last week has now been cleared up, thanks to the Man of Science and his friend, Heroic Jamie. The MoS took apart cupboards and walls until he found the pipe that burst and then Jamie came over and the two of them spent an evening doing plumby things while I sat happily upstairs watching American Idol on my laptop. Then, Voila! It was fixed. Happy ending. Except now, our cupboards, which were already in very bad shape, are in worse shape. So we had to go to Ikea and get two new tall pantry things to put in the corner of our kitchen so we can store food and cooking implements somewhere that isn't full of crumbling drywall and exposed insulation.

-The heart shaped pan I used for these is a silicone one that my mom gave to me. This is my first shot with it and I think the end result is totally adorable.

-This was also the first recipe I made with the KitchenAid stand mixer that Kat loaned me so I could decide if I wanted one of my very own. I have to say, it was a pretty fun kitchen gadget to use. I can't wait to try it with cookies.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Re-run Recipe: Giant Soup

oh yum

Hello friends. You'll have to excuse my sparse posting this week. I returned from a weekend of visiting/house cleaning in Oakville with Kat to find that a series of mild catastrophes had befallen the House of Science in my absence. The Man of Science's car was dead and there was no hot water due to a frozen pipe. Eek.

As Sunday evening wore on, the situation got worse. Our frozen pipe split and started leaking. The Man of Science had to turn off the hot water until he was able to find the busted pipe. I had a pioneer style bath which involved boiling lots of pots of water and carrying them up the stairs to the tub. It required a tremendous effort to maintain my calm and cheerful demeanor.

The following day I went off to work and left the MoS to crawl around in our home's moldy crawl spaces and tear apart kitchen walls in a effort to find the broken pipe. It was, of course, in the last place he was able to look. But he found it! Hooray Man of Plumbing! He needs to replace the section of pipe which will be a two person job, the other person being his friend Jamie who has the appropriate home plumbing experience.

In need of hot water and a workable kitchen, I've fled to my parents' house. Without my camera. So, though I made some lovely black bean soup last night, I have nothing new to post for the next couple days. Hopefully the pipe will be fixed soon and I'll be happy and cooking at home again for the very deserving Man of Science.

In the meantime, please enjoy this re-run recipe for Giant Soup. I just got a nice e-mail this week from a fellow named Russell (hello, Russell!) who said he has made this soup a number of times and always enjoyed it. Lovely! A great e-mail to have sitting in my in box when I log on in the morning.