Sunday, July 25, 2010

Daiya Pizza Roseannadana

daiya pizza

I'm sorry, but I just don't like unconventional pizza. You know, those pizzas where the toppings are like, sweet potatoes! And kale! And avocado! With bechamel sauce! It would actually be much easier, as someone who follows a vegan diet, to like those kinds of unconventional pizzas. But me, I'm a bit of a pizza purist. Give me dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and some mushrooms and I'm delighted.

So, this makes it difficult to make a vegan pizza. What with the desire for cheese and all.

daiya pizza

But now we Ottawgians have access to Daiya vegan cheese-like-substance. Which melts. And tastes pretty good. So it was only a matter of time before pizza got made. A nice, traditional pizza. Dough, tomato sauce, Daiya "Italian", mushrooms. And some fried onions and artichoke hearts and olives added on as perfectly acceptable other toppings. Yum.

daiya pizza

I'd made pizza with Daiya once before, when I was in Toronto staying with my friends Nicole and Alex. I put waaaaay too much Daiya on it. It ended up being really heavy and kind of unappetizing. And it made me feel a bit sick after I ate it. Not so great. I figured that Daiya was best used sparingly, as a cheesy glue between toppings and sauce. I was right. Last week's pizza was a smashing success. This is what it looked like after it was cooked:

daiya pizza

You can see that Daiya melts better than most vegan cheeses, which is kind of like being the prettiest person at the ugly convention. The bar is set pretty low. I've read a lot of enthusiastic reviews of Daiya that praise its ability to "stretch" which is indeed a good thing. My previous vegan cheeses just kind of turned to liquid and slid off the pizza unless you held your piece perfectly horizontal at all times. As with most non-cheese cheeses, it takes very high heat for Daiya to melt, so I cooked the Man of Science's real cheese pizza first and then upped the heat for mine. As usual, this pizza dough recipe did not let us down. I have never had that pizza dough recipe go wrong. Thank you, Barbara Kingsolver!

This was also good as leftovers the next day, but it really does need to be heated up, or the Daiya takes on a texture that I find unpleasant.

Other than making pizza, this weekend included the following activities: going to see The A Team at the drive in with the Man of Science, lots of laundry, gardening, making a gift for my friend Meghan who was celebrating her birthday, coming down with a head cold, wishing I was at Comic Con, and listening to lots of old records. I'm not super looking forward to going to back to work tomorrow, but the bright side is that I have a four day week and then as of Friday I am on holiday for a whole week! And Monday is my BIRTHDAY! It doesn't get too much better than that.

J.

This Time Last Year: Broccoli Rice Casserole

Thursday, July 15, 2010

yeah, I'm gonna marry a carrot

roasty

Okay, so it isn't a carrot, but wouldn't you marry this roasted garlic?. Especially if you'd grown it yourself in your very own garden and then harvested it triumphantly? Like this?

first garlic

And for the honeymoon wouldn't you want to spread it on french bread and eat it with soup?

There hasn't been a whole lot of recipe-heavy cooking around here lately. Ingredients are fresh and need minimal messing with. And the heat wave took what little cooking desire I had and punched it in the face. Quick meals have been the order of the day, the less heat involved, the better.

But I did want to put up a post about how exciting it is to be eating out of the garden again. For example, my lonely little strawberry plant yielded exactly six strawberries, but boy, were they ever delicious. I ate three of them, some unknown human or animal ate one, and I gave the remaining two to the Man of Science, because I am nice like that.

look at that!

Besides the strawberries and the garlic, we have been enjoying fresh herbs with almost every meal. Earlier in the season I got some very weak looking mint seedlings from the Hope Garden, and I stuck them in a pot on the front steps and asked them nicely not to die. As usual, good manners led to success and they survived and thrived. I spent a lot of evenings during the heat wave drinking glasses of ice water with mint sprigs jammed into them, which is perhaps the most refreshing drink ever.

And tonight! Tonight I harvested a ton of mint, cilantro, and basil to make the filling for some spring rolls along with some fried tofu and shredded carrots. Which was delicious, in case you couldn't have guessed.

The best way I've found to get the garden grit out of herbs (and other greens) is to drop them into a bowl of cool water and just leave them there for a few minutes. Then gently lift them out and let them dry in a strainer or on a tea towel. A bit of a pain, but way better than sand in your spring rolls.

home grown herbs for spring rolls

And afterwards there may be enough mint left for a cup of tea.

front porch to tea cup

Some Notes:

-The Man of Science and I went to a local restaurant called Atelier for his (slightly belated) birthday dinner and I was so impressed. Past experience with "fine dining" restaurants has made me a bit cynical about their willingness to make a vegan meal. Some places have staff who will just sigh heavily and bring you some pasta covered in olive oil and overloaded with salt. But Atelier's website said they were willing to accomodate vegetarian and gluten free diets, so I forged ahead and asked them to make a vegan meal. No one batted an eye. I guess because they specialize in non-traditional cooking (their whole thing is molecular gastronomy) they are very willing to experiment. We were served amazingly delicious dishes that weren't just meat dishes with the meat removed. There was tofu and chickpea cakes for protein as well as amazing vegetables (some from the restaurant's own on-site garden). The complicated dishes were extraordinary, but so were the simple ones (I can't wait to try to recreate their fresh green pea soup with mint. ) So Ottawa vegans looking to splurge, this place is worth your money.

-Some non-food experiences that I've enjoyed in the last week included: seeing Joan Jett and the Blackhearts play an incredible show at Bluesfest. When the first two songs she played were Bad Reputation and Cherry Bomb, I knew it was going to be a good time. And on Monday night Megan and I went to see an amazing band from Chicago called Hollows. They were so good we stayed awake and upright for the whole show, even though we both hadn't had enough sleep the night before and the band didn't finish until after midnight.

-Blog Out Loud went very well. I wasn't too nervous and people laughed at my crazy story about trying to teach my first boyfriend how to make rice. Megan and I got lots of compliments on our non-intentionally similar outfits.

J.

This Time Last Year: Ginger Chocolate Cookies FTW

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Thirty-Second, Three Ingredient, Sugar-Free Dessert (For Real)

strawberry soft serve

It's getting hot in here. So take off all your clothes. But, you know, only if you're reading this in the comfort of your own home. Or the home of someone who doesn't mind if you walk around naked.

It's boiling here in Ottawa. And in many other cities, Twitter tells me. I spent most of Sunday in our backyard hammock in the shade, eating vegan ice cream, finishing Mary Tyler Moore's biography (mediocre), and starting The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (excellent). While lying there I was thinking about how finding a good non-dairy ice cream is kind of like being on one of those dating reality shows like The Bachelorette. All options seem very attractive initially. But with prolonged exposure, some of them turn out to just not be right for you. Some may even make you physically queasy (I'm sorry Organic Rice Divine, can we still be friends?) Eventually, you'll know which one is right for you. My two-hour long finale (set in Tahiti, please) would feature me making the agonizing decision between So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean and this home-made banana-strawberry soft serve. It would be the classic battle between the well-turned-out, conventionally attractive, classy option, and the rough-around-the-edges, wholesome, sincere type. And, as we all know, wholesome and sincere usually wins. This case is no exception.

in season

Recipes for banana soft serve are a bit ubiquitous in the vegan blogging world. So much so that I wasn't initially even going to bother with this post (but then everyone would have missed that wonderful Bachelorette analogy!) However, I know that I have lots of readers who aren't vegan and probably don't spend their free time trolling vegan blogs. So, if you're tired of banana soft serve recipes you can just skip to the end of this post for more potentially off-topic rambling.

Still with me? Good. Because this is a ridiculously easy dessert that doesn't need any sugar added and doesn't require a fancy ice cream maker, just a basic food processor. It is remarkably versatile. And, as my post title suggests, it takes approximately 30 seconds to make.

Strawberry Banana Soft Serve

2 large, ripe (but not brown), frozen bananas
1/2 cup strawberries
3 tbsp almond milk or soy milk

Place frozen bananas in food processor and process until they are smooth.

Add strawberries and pulse until they are combined with the bananas.

Add the milk one tablespoon at a time, processing while you add. You may need slightly more or slightly less than the 3 tablespoons. It depends on how frozen your other ingredients are and just how soft you'd like your soft serve to be.

When the mixture is your desired consistency, spoon it into a bowl, top with coconut (if you are so inclined) and eat it up.

Makes two servings.

strawberry soft serve

Some Notes:

-Some people make this without the strawberries and almond milk, which seems to work just as well. Me, I don't like the overly banana-y taste of it without the extras. Any flavourings would work just as well, I imagine. Like raspberries, or blueberries. Or chocolate.

-Speaking of reality television, does anyone have anything to say about Top Chef yet? I liked the school lunch episode best so far, but otherwise I'm finding it too early to love or hate anyone or anything in particular.

-I'm reading this Wednesday at Irene's Pub as part of an event called Blog Out Loud. Lots of local bloggers will be on hand to read short posts from their blogs. If you are a local reader and are able to make it, please come and introduce yourself. Just a word of warning, though, I am a bit awkward and spazzy in read life. Not that you could tell that from my writings here or anything...

J.

p.s. Happy Fourth of July, lovely Americans.

This Time Last Year: Birthday Burritos for The Man of Science (surprisingly the same dinner he requested THIS YEAR for his birthday.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day, etc.

Sam on the back deck

For those of us in Canada today is Canada Day, which is exciting for some people, somewhat interesting for others, and a pretty big pain in the butt for me. See, we live downtown in the capital city of the country, close enough to where the Canada Day action is to have people park in front of our driveway, set off fireworks in the park across the street, and, for the grand finale, barf on our lawn. Because of all that, Sacha (who is afraid of fireworks) and I are going off to my folks' house for a one night retreat.

I have no new recipes to post this week, I apologize. Things in the non-internet world have been demanding my attention. I'll get back on it next week. In the meantime, please go over to Sew Green and check out my latest post. It's about packing garbage-less lunches to take to work. I review some different glass storage containers and show off my awesome cutlery holder. You might dig it.

Tomorrow is a much grander holiday, that being The Birthday of The Man of Science. Woo hoo! No better reason to celebrate than him being born, I say. There will be presents, and burritos, and a trip to the drive-in theatre. I can't wait!

J.