Monday, June 21, 2010

You down with O(ther) P(eople's) P(astries)? Yeah, you know me.

vegan croissants from Auntie Loo's Bakery

You know what I love? Croissants. I really do. Even the kind of crappy ones from the bakery bins at the grocery store. In fact, those croissants were one of the two inanimate culprits responsible for my Great Weight Gain of 2005. The other one was whipped cream from a can. At the time I wasn't feeling too happy on a day to day basis, so I gave myself permission to regularly eat a bunch of stuff that, really, unless you're a magical Parisian lady, should be consumed on special occasions only. It didn't take long to convince my slightly sad self that it was perfectly fine to eat supermarket croissants for breakfast every morning and that it was okay to go through several mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream on it every night while I watched TV on the couch with the dogs. Blargh. By the time I realized that these were not good ideas, I'd gained 15 pounds. I started exercising and took a break from eating sugar. I gave up on both the whipped cream and croissants.

But you know what? Now that I'm eating vegan I miss both of those things a whole lot. Cashew whipped cream has filled the void left by regular whipped cream. But nothing, until this weekend, had replaced the croissants.

vegan croissants from Auntie Loo's Bakery

On Saturday, I put a sweatshirt on over my pajamas (yeah, that's what I said) and went down to Auntie Loo's Treats because I heard a rumour that they'd be debuting their vegan croissants. Indeed they were! I bought three (two regular and one almond) croissants and two scones to take home with me. The Man of Science dove in right away and devoured one of the plain croissants. I put the other two on a plate, photographed them and then got distracted.

Guess who else likes croissants?

Catie

Catie does.

When I came back to eat my pastries, there was only an empty plate* to greet me. And I was late for a garden volunteer meeting and had no time to go get some more. I said some unkind words to the dog and raced out the door.

Luckily, I live with an excellent gentleman. The Man of Science went back to the bakery and got me two replacement croissants. On the way he may have accidently driven the wrong way down a one way street. Now that's dedication. When I got home from my garden meeting I sat in the hammock and ate both croissants in rapid succession. Catie watched me the whole time. Needless to say, I did not feel like sharing.

The verdict on the croissants is: delicious! Especially the almond one. They were so fresh and, while not flakey like regular croissants, they had a nice, soft texture. A perfect treat. I'm not surprised, given that everything else I've tried from Auntie Loo's has been really great. I'm so happy that my city has a vegan bakery in it. What could be better?

coconut lemon bundt cake

I did a little baking of my own last weekend and the result was so tasty, I felt the need to share. This is the Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake from Veganomicon. I made it for the party I went to with all my coworkers that I mentioned in my last post. I won't lie, the only reason I made this cake was because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. But wow! Was I ever impressed with the end result. So was Joe, husband of admin. assistant Diane, who loves coconut and finished off at least half of the cake by himself. This recipe is highly recommended for those of you with Veganomicon on your shelves. I will make it again as soon as the need for cake arises.

I'll be back later in the week with an an actual recipe post. These baked goods were just too great not to spread the word!

J.

*It was a lovely empty plate, though. Megan brought me two of these plates from Winnipeg. The stamp on the bottom says they are handpainted in France. I love them. And actually, Megan also gave me the pretty glass plate that is under the bundt cake. So, all plates in this post are brought to you (well, to me really) by Megan.

This Time Last Year: Ain't No Cure For The Summertime Booze

Monday, June 14, 2010

Come With Me and Eat Scapes

garlic scape pesto

This past Friday night, Megan and I had plans to go to dinner and then go do some rocking and rolling. Unfortunately, she got a cold and wasn't feeling up to the rocking and rolling portion of the evening, so I went on to see some bands play all by myself. They were local bands and the show was the part of a well-attended local punk music weekend, so I wasn't too worried about finding someone else with whom I could chat between bands. And, indeed, as soon as I walked in I saw a group of people I knew hanging out on some benches back by the bar. It's easy to find the 35+ year olds at a rock show. Look for the people who've found a spot to sit down and rest their aching feet/backs/hips.

At one point in the night I was introduced to Christine. I knew of her, because she sings in a very fun local band called The Secret Loves. Any band that has a song about making out while watching TV Ontario is all right by me. Christine said she was happy to meet me, having heard from mutual friends about the novel I wrote. It turned into a bit of a mutual admiration society because I'd heard great stuff about her as well. And, just in case I didn't already want to be her friend, she told me what she does for a living.

She teaches horticulture.

Score! A friends who knows about plants! Who REALLY knows about plants. Whose job it is know about plants. I couldn't be more delighted. Especially because she said if I had any gardening questions I was welcome to ask. It is so reassuring to have someone with that kind of knowledge in my corner.

So it was with renewed gumption that I ventured into the garden this weekend. I got the rest of my seedlings planted, weeded until I could weed no more, and even did a little bit of harvesting. Yes, friends. My first harvested garden food of the season.

Scapes!

harvest!

I only have five garlic plants in my garden, so I had only five scapes to work with. I decided to make some pesto. I liked that I could add my other harvestable foodstuffs: herbs from the window box on the porch. It also gave me a chance to try out the vegan parmesan, called Parma!, that I got at Panacea when I was in Toronto. And what pesto it turned out to be! Garlicy and delicious and so fresh. A garden success! It almost makes up for the fact that some creature has eaten all my kale.

pesto prep

Garlic Scape Pesto

5 garlic scapes, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley)
3 heaping tablespoons of Parma!
(or you could try this vegan parm recipe from Oh She Glows)
1/2 cup pinenuts
3/4 cup spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients except for the olive oil and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.

When everything is evenly processed, turn food processor on and drizzle olive oil into the mixture slowly.

Season with salt.

This makes approximately 2 cups of pesto. We dumped it all on a big bowl of fresh, whole wheat pasta and added some olives and basil leaves to be fancy.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Some Notes:

-The title of this post is a nod to one of the most annoying songs ever. Does anyone know what it is? It was so annoying it made it on to the "Annoying Songs" mix tape that my friend Adrianne and I made when we were in high school. We used to torture ourselves by listening to terrible songs. This would inevitably lead to uncontrollable laughter which would make us feel better about our sad, teenage lives.

-Hey, did you know that Top Chef starts this week? Top Chef! My favourite! I wonder if they'll have another wacky vegetarian challenge this season.

-You may remember my post about my administrative assistant, Diane, rescuing a dachshund named Anikin from our local S.P.C.A. Well, this weekend the Man of Science and I went out to Diane's house for a barbecue with the rest of my office mates and we got a chance to see Anikin, who is now called "Bud", living happily in his great new home. When we met him at the shelter, he was fresh from a puppy mill and had never been outside. He was skinny, his fur was worn away in places, and he was timid and sad looking. Now, he looks like this:

Bud

What a handsome guy! It was amazing to see him running around Diane's yard with his sister Maggie and our three dogs. Totally heart warming.

J.

This Time Last Year: Roasted Potatoes with Chives (from the garden!)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I Choo Choo Choose Chickpeas

I know you've all been on the edge of your seats waiting to hear what I was fed for my vegan meal on the train on the way home from Toronto. Aren't you? Of course you are.

I will say, first of all, that this meal was much less of a mystery than the made-with-something-other-than-eggs french toast that I was given on my other trip. First, there was salad:

train lunch

You can see that it came with a similar fruit plate to the breakfast I had previously, which was tasty once again. Still the issue with the non-vegan margarine, but that didn't really bother me much I just ate my bread without it. The salad was fresh and, while not exciting, nice to eat. Fresh greens while traveling are always appreciated.

The main course was curried chickpeas and rice:

train lunch

It amounted to a very satisfying lunch. I was less uncertain about the ingredients in this one, since it seemed like a fairly conventional curry. The train attendant even endorsed the meal as she handed it to me. "I like this one myself!" she said, "It's very good." It was a nice touch.

Again I forewent the offered booze, due to feeling a bit headachey and not wanting to make it worse. I'll have to wait until next time to get train-tipsy.

The rest of my time in Toronto was excellent too, thanks for asking. I got to hang out with my friend Fiona for two days (food highlights include her homemade hummus and some Tofurky sausages cooked in beer and onions) and then I went to visit my friends Nicole and Alex. Oh, and this guy:

happy Jake

That's Jake. Nicole and I took him for a walk to see some of the animals in High Park. Jake slept through it, but I got super excited about the llamas.

me and my llama

Then I had the song from Sesame Street about the girl who takes her llama to the dentist stuck in my head for days. That was my favourite Sesame Street video when I was a kid. I don't think I could think of anything better than being a kid in New York City walking around with my own llama. It still sounds pretty cool, actually.

Ahem, where was I? Right, Toronto.

Other food highlights that I forgot to photograph:

-Sandwiches from the very pretty Urban Herbivore. I picked up two sandwiches (barbecue tofu and a mix of seitan and roasted vegetables) for Nicole and me. We pronounced them both delicious. I was a bit taken aback when I was waiting for the sandwiches to be made because one of the staff had a young child with her and she picked him up and let him sit on the counter where the sandwiches were being prepared. I like kids a lot, but I'd rather not have their bums touching the same surface as my sandwiches. Is that uptight?

-I did get to Panacea, which was very fun to poke around in. I got myself some Italian Daiya cheese, some vegan Parmesan-type stuff, some marshmallows for Fiona (okay, and I ate some too), and an ice cream treat to eat on my way back to the hot, hot streetcar.

-Nicole took me out for breakfast at a cute neighbourhood restaurant called Mitzi's. I was gearing up for my usual potatoes and toast breakfast, but when I ordered that and Nicole asked about butter on the toast, the waitress said, "Oh, we have a vegan plate if that's where you're going." Score! The vegan plate ended up being some great potatoes, a quinoa salad, a green salad, and some toast. Not bad at all. I wish they'd had it on the menu, so I would have known to order it without having to be let in on the secret! Jake slept through most of the meal, but when he woke up he tried some toast and some potato and seemed to enjoy them both.

All in all, an excellent and relaxing vacation. The Man of Science and the pets all survived their week home alone, though judging from my survey of the kitchen upon my return, they primarily lived on diet gingerale and veggie dogs.

J.

This Time Last Year: Lovely Vegan Eggplant Stew