Friday, August 27, 2010

Vegan in Toronto: Everything Else (with footnotes)

tofu wrap at C'est What

I just wanted to wrap up these Toronto posts so we can move on into the future next week. Because why dwell on the past, really? This post is just a mish mash of the other noteable vegan adventures that were had.

Above, you'll see a tofu veggie wrap from C'est What on Front Street. C'est What has been there for about a million years. As soon as we sat down my mom said the last time she'd been there was taking me and and friend to see another friend play music when I was too young to go to bars unchaperoned. I remember it well. Because of that particular night, I spent a lot of my teenage years dreaming about hanging out in bars like C'est What with my Perfect Musician Boyfriend*. C'est What is also featured as a setting in the novel that I wrote, though I don't think I mention it by name. So really, that place occupies more space in my imagination than almost anywhere else in Toronto.

C'est What has a surprisingly excellent vegetarian section on its menu. My mom had quesedillas and I had a vegan tofu veggie wrap. The last time I was there, when the Man of Science and I came to Toronto for his cousin's wedding, I had the lentil stew, which was so delicious it lives on in my memory to this day. My sandwich this time was surprisingly good, and I say surprisingly because generally I do not enjoy a) wraps, and b) roasted vegetable sandwiches. The tofu in this sandwich was immensely flavourful and the vegetables were cooked perfectly**.

I should have taken a few more photos of the interior of the restaurant because it is supremely cosy. There is a fireplace with a circle of cushioned benches around it that would be the perfect place to drink pints in the winter. Thumbs up for that. I would happily return the next time I'm in Toronto and in search of a hearty, health lunch.

Fresh

On Saturday night we went to a play starring Lois Lane, Paige Michaelchuk, and the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel (Margo Kidder, Lauren Collins and Linda Kash, respectively), which was excellent. Because the play was at the Panasonic Theatre on Yonge Street, I thought Fresh on Bloor would be a good choice for dinner.

Does anyone else still refer to Fresh as "Juice For Life"? I don't know when they changed the name, but I always call it Juice For Life and everyone seems to know what I'm talking about.*** But my mom was confused when we walked into a restaurant called Fresh when I had been talking about going somewhere called Juice For Life.

Whatever you call it, what I like about Fresh is how consistent it is. The food is never mind blowingly creative, but it is always good. The menu is large enough to not be boring, but it's also comforting that it never really changes. I usually try to pick something different each time I go. This time I got "The Powerhouse" (pictured above) which was tasty and full of protein, which is nice when you're traveling and not sure where your next tofu is coming from.

Mom had chicpea dosas from the appetizer menu and the portion was generous enough to be a light meal. She liked it very much. It's also worth mentioning that the restaurant was really packed and crazy, but the service was still prompt and attentive. And they had more than one dessert to choose from. I got a chocolate lavender cupcake, which you may recognize from my new blog header. It was a really good cupcake. Not dry or flavourless like so many cupcakes out there in the world. It was actually the perfect dessert because it was sweet enough to be a treat, but not too sweet and not too big. So it didn't cancel out the good feelings related to the healthy dinner.

chocolate lavender

One other Toronto item to report, not food related but quite exciting. While poking around The Bay with my mom on Friday, I accidentally found a pair of vegan boots!

non-leather boots

My problem with a lot of non-leather shoes and boots is that it can be hard to find ones that are comfortable and well-made. Anyone can get their unbreathable vinyl boots from Payless, but please. I am a person who was dumb enough to spend the first half of my life wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers every day and as a result I can no longer wear cheap shoes without wrecking my neck and back. Fun! Anyway, these boots are made my Browns, and they are comfortable and well-made and they don't make my feet feel terrible. And no cows were harmed in the making of them, so that's good too. Win win!

J.

*Who never really materialized. Imperfect Musician Boyfriends, well, they were readily available.

**Anyone else unable to hear that phrase without it being in Gordon Ramsey's voice?

***In a similar vein, last night Adam and his cousin Andrea and I were discussing a vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa that is now called "Perfection, Satisfaction, Promise" (gag) but used to be "The Painted Potato". As a result of this, people who've lived in Ottawa for a long time usually refer to the place with some kind of mash up of those two names, my favourite being my friend Fiona's version: "Peace, Love, and Potato".

This Time Last Year: Vegan Polenta and Green Tomato Salsa

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegan in Toronto: Fressen

fressen dessert

I haven't been to Fressen in a while, but I'd really enjoyed it in the past. I've had three great brunches and one delicious dinner there over the past four years so, despite reading a few things online that indicated it was going downhill, I loyally made dinner reservations for Mom and me for Friday night.

I needn't have bothered with the reservations, since the place was nearly empty when we arrived. Granted it was 6 PM, which is sort of early, but not dinner-in-the-seniors'-home early or anything. A few more tables of people arrived while we were eating, but not the crowds that I'd seen during other visits.

The menu was a bit different, too. Though I have only been for dinner once and I may not be remembering 100% correctly. It's supposed to be a tapas place, but it's really only the first portion of the menu that has small, well-priced dishes on it. These were all fairly common appetizer type foods, mostly salads and dips. These were priced three for fifteen dollars which is reasonable, but the selection was kind of uninspiring so I had to struggle a bit with what to order.

salads and babaganoush

We ended up with two small salads and a plate of babghanoush. One of the salads was a combination of mango, jicama, and arugula which was amazingly delicious. Does anyone know where I can get jicama in Ottawa? Because I would like to recreate that salad ASAP. The other salad was a fairly standard chickpea, spinach, tomato thing, which had a few tiny pieces of avocado in it as well. It was fine, but really nothing special at all. Standard first-year-university-vegetarian-potluck fare.

The babaghanoush was nice and the bread that came with it was soft and tasty, but again, it did not make me super excited.

The bulk of the menu featured larger, more expensive dishes which weren't really tapas style. From that part of the menu we ordered one dish to share, a combination of spinach and tofu wrapped in phyllo pastry with a spinach puree.

spinach tofu filo

It was very pretty. Weirdly though, some bites of it were delicious while others were merely okay. There was something really flavourful in there, but whatever that was didn't spread itself through the entire dish. This was also a tough dish to share, proving, I guess, that most of the menu is not meant for tapas at all. I think if I went again I'd just order one dish as an appetizer and one as a main and forget about sharing.

What I most look forward to in vegan restaurants is being able to have dessert. When I asked our server about it, she said they didn't have a dessert menu but they did have one dessert available if I wanted to order it.

Hold the phone. One dessert? One? I could see this being okay if it was some kind of prix-fixe menu where you get what you get, but this is an actual restaurant. With a full menu. Why do they only have one dessert? I didn't ask. I was too stunned. So I ordered the one dessert and said I'd share it with my mom.

fressen dessert

The dessert was very pretty and quite delicious. It was slices of chocolate tort with nuts in the centre, leaning up against chocolate mousse, surrounded by tons of fresh fruit. It was a good dessert for sharing and nicely balanced between the rich torte and the fresh fruit.

We decided we'd have some mint tea to finish the meal off, but before we could order it, our server arrived with our bill. Up until that point the service had been kind of aloof, but I was a bit shocked by the arrival of bill so quickly, being used to servers asking if there's anything else we might want. We let her know that we actually wanted tea and she seemed nonplussed. She took the bill away and brought us our tea. Then another server brought us our bill immediately. We ignored it and drank our tea. Then our original server returned, looked at the bill, figured out that it was the pre-tea bill and then took it away again. We finished our tea and waited for a bit but now that we wanted it, there was no bill in sight.

Eventually we paid and left. It was a good meal but not a great meal. My loyalty to Fressen has been shaken considerably. I think maybe their time has past and next time I'm in the city I'll try somewhere new.

One other thing that has nothing to do with the actual restaurant or food. While we were in there we overheard a completely perplexing exchange between two guys and a girl at the next table. I can't make much sense of it, but here are some facts.

-They were only there for drinks, not to eat, seemingly because it was next door to their eventual destination, some kind of bar.
-The girl was an actress. She'd brought several outfits with her because she wasn't sure how they'd want her to dress.
-The guy she was going to be talking to was 23, so the two guys with her at the table urged her to wear something sexy.
-They were going to be filming this guy talking to her about a drink he was making and they were going to try to get him to call the drink an "Absolut Amber".
-This had something to do with the Toronto International Film Festival but they weren't allowed to call it "TIFF" because that is copyrighted.

I like to think of myself as a reasonably intelligent and intuitive person, but I had no idea what was happening. Did the bartender know he was going to be filmed? Was this some kind of commercial? Was it for the film festival or were they just hoping to have it air during the festival?

Clearly, I just don't get show biz.

J.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vegan in Toronto: Sadie's Diner

Sadie's

When I lived in Peterborough my roommates and I had a standing joke that we rolled out every time a vacancy in some commercial building appeared.

"I wonder what's going in there?" one of us would ask.

"Vegan diner," another one would answer, sounding absolutely confident. Then we'd all crack up.

It was funny because it wasn't true.

Peterborough had many nice places to eat, places with dishes that were vegan or veganize-able. But what we daydreamed about was a place we could go where we could order anything off the menu we wanted without having to settle or customize. We didn't need it to be fancy, on the contrary, the vegan diner of our dreams was pretty much just a greasy spoon with a plant-based menu. However, in a small town in the mid nineties we might as well have been wishing for visiting aliens to write our essays on Paradise Lost for us. There was no way it was ever going to happen.

Sadie's Diner

So, when I saw the menu for Sadie's Diner on line, I knew I'd pretty much freak out if I didn't get to go there when my mom and I were in Toronto this past weekend. The menu contains all the classic breakfasty stuff, with everything vegetarian and most of it vegan or able to be made vegan. The food isn't complicated or expensive. In short, it's the vegan diner of my 23 year old self's dreams.

My mom is not vegan, but she is a vegetarian, so she was quite happy to be dragged all over the city on what I joked was "Jennifer's Vegetarian Tour of Toronto". Sadie's was our planned destination for Saturday morning breakfast. It didn't open until nine, so we strolled slowly from our hotel through Toronto's very quiet morning streets to get there. When we arrived they still weren't quite ready to open, so we sat outside on a bench and read the Globe and Mail until they were ready to feed us.

As always, the first item of business was Earl Grey tea with soy milk (me) and coffee (mom). And the next order of business? Smoothies.

mango banana smoothie

Mine was mango/banana and my mom's was, uh, banana and something else. Maybe she'll let us know in the comments since I can't seem to remember. It's worth noting as well that my tea was perfect and Mom said that her coffee was excellent. I think I saw a sign saying it was Fair Trade, too. The smoothies were also great, and I am picky about such things. I can't stand overly sweetened drinks. These were perfect.

We were both sad that they weren't serving waffles that morning (waffle iron glitch, perhaps?) but we were still happy with the abundance of other choices. I was waffling (heh) between the sweet-ish stuff and the savory stuff. Mom decided on pancakes with blueberries and veggie sausages. That helped me decide on something savory because I didn't want us both to have the same thing. I went for the vegan Huevos Rancheros. And I was not sorry.

huevos rancheros (vegan)

Corn tortillas, refried beans, salsa, soy cheese, scrambled tofu, and guacamole. It looked like a mess, but it tasted fantastic. The perfect breakfast to have before a day of walking around the city. I didn't end up feeling hungry again until well into the afternoon.

Another point worth mentioning is that the service at Sadie's was excellent. Our server was totally adorable (I'm a sucker for heavily tattooed vegetarians who smile a lot) and she was cheerful and attentive the whole time we were there. Our food came quickly and when we finished we didn't feel like they were in a rush for us to leave. The whole experience put me in an excellent mood. It helped that the music they were playing was a mix of fifties songs and pop punk, with a few pop punk covers of fifties songs thrown in for good measure.

blueberry pancakes and sausages (vegan)

I did try some of Mom's pancakes and sausages. Both were great. The pancakes had a good texture and flavour and the sausages were tasty as well, much better than any pre-made sausages I've ever bought from a store. I'd be curious to know if they make them themselves or if they come from some other mysterious vegan sausage supplier.

All in all, a giant thumbs up for Sadie's. If we'd had time I would have gone back for breakfast on Sunday, too. Now maybe they'd like to open up a location in Ottawa. A girl can dream.

J.

This Time Last Year: DIY Larabars

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How To Make Three Wedding Cakes Without Totally Losing Your Ever-Loving Mind

three cakes

So, I had this fantasy. No, not the one about John Cusack asking me to be his date for the Academy Awards Ceremony where I happen to be nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category for the movie that I skillfully adapted from my best-selling novel. And I win. And my hair is awesome.

Not that fantasy.

In this particular fantasy, I get to make a wedding cake. For, you know, someone who happened to be having a small wedding. And needed a vegan cake. And agreed to let me take a crack at it, just to see if making a wedding cake (or cakes) was something I could do. I actually thought about this quite often, usually while walking the aisles at Bulk Barn and looking at all the fancy cake decorating stuff they have for sale.

abstinent fondant

A few months ago I mentioned this particular fantasy to my friends Spencer and Isabel who, it turned out, were in the midst of their own wedding plans. They weren't going to have a big wedding, they were trying to work within a reasonable budget, and Isabel needed the cake to be dairy-free.

We were a match made in heaven. I told them I'd make three cakes for their wedding. Then I promptly forgot about the whole thing. Because the wedding was In The Future and I had more important things to tend to in the present. Things like work, and gardening, and Top Chef, and then, eventually, my own (cakeless) wedding.

Suddenly, it was The Future. And I needed to get baking.

The first thing I did was ask my hairdresser, the incomparable Meghan Dailey, for tips on making the a gluten-free chocolate cake. She has been eating gluten-free for years and I knew she had a sweet tooth, so I was pretty sure she'd have some guidance for me.

"Bob's Red Mill chocolate cake mix," she told me, instantly. "It makes the best gluten-free cake I've ever had."

I can't remember the last time I used a store-bought cake mix. But when it came to wading into the uncharted (for me, anyway) territory of gluten-free baking, I was more than happy to surrender to the professionals. I made the two gluten-free layers out of the mix, and I couldn't believe how well they turned out. Good call, Meghan.

first of three wedding cakes DONE!

I made those layers on Wednesday and froze them, leaving Thursday night for the chocolate dairy-free cake layers and Friday night for the dairy-free lemon cake layers. I left myself all day Saturday to decorate the cakes, figuring that was where there was the most potential for disaster.

Thursday night's chocolate cakes were actually the trickiest part of the whole adventure. The recipe, which I've made a million times, was not the problem. The issue was that this cake was to be the largest, so the two layers I needed to make involved a whole lot of batter and a very large pan. The first cake ended up as kind of a triangle, really high in the middle and really low on the sides. I knew that I'd have to carve off the tops to flatten out the cakes, but this one would have been about a centimetre high if I'd done that. Cake fail. Please pack your whisks and go.

whisk me away

I made a double batch of batter and tried again. This one ended up high in the middle too, but with all that extra batter I had no problem chopping the peaked top off of and I still ended up with a reasonably sized cake. And then it was time for bed. Which meant that I was one layer short of my Thursday night baking goal. Eeg.

On Friday, I made a second trip to the Bulk Barn for additional pans and another bag of sugar. While there I found something called Bake Even Strips. These are strips that you soak in water and wrap around the outside of your cake pan before you put it in the oven. The strips keep the sides of a pan cooler, so the cake all bakes at the same rate, eliminating the high, cracked middle problem. Science!

That night I mixed up another batch of chocolate cake batter (not a double batch this time, but rather a one-and-a-half batch), wrapped the pan in the Bake Even Strips and hoped for the best. Success! One well-formed, pretty damn flat cake.

I used the strips for the lemon cake layers as well. For those, I used a recipe from the Bake and Destroy blog which can be traced back to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. These cakes were nice and moist, but didn't rise up very high, so I ended up getting up early on Saturday to bake one more layer so the lemon cake would have the same height as the other two cakes. Isabel had been excited about the lemon cake, so I figured she'd be pretty happy with a triple layer cake. Way more icing involved that way.

seven cakes!

So, for those of you playing along at home, we're up to seven cakes now. Two double layer cakes and one triple layer cake. And one slightly-sleep-deprived amateur baker.

I didn't have to deliver the cakes until four PM on Saturday, which gave me a good amount of time to decorate them. I took the frozen cakes out of the freezer and let them thaw for about half an hour. Then, starting with the gluten-free chocolate cake, I methodically decorated each one.

"buttercream"

Yes, that's store-bought icing you see there. It's "Buttercream" AND it's vegan, which isn't something I'd want to think too deeply about because... yuck. I didn't trust my own icing making skills enough to do all that icing from scratch, and besides, the icing in this case is really just the glue between fondant and cake. Good old Duncan Hines "Buttercream" served me very well. All three tubs of it.

After I iced each cake, I rolled out a big circle of white fondant on my kitchen counter which I'd vigorously cleaned and then sprinkled with a layer of icing sugar. When the fondant was thin enough, I very carefully flipped it up and over the iced cake, then slowly smoothed it down and cut off the excess. This was the hardest part. Sometimes the fondant would crack, sometimes it would just pull a bit and get unattractive little fondant stretch marks at the corners of the cake. Also, this fondant, being white and sugary, picks up traces of anything that touches it. Like the chocolate crumbs on the counter. Or the dog hair that floats though the air in our home at all times. So it requires a lot of care and vigilance to get one cake looking pretty. Especially if you also sit down and roll a bunch of tiny little fondant balls to go around the base of the cake, and then spend a while fussing with a ribbon to make it look awesome/hide any messy bits around the cake's circumference.

cake the last

But you know? My system worked. And by "my system" I mean work hard and be careful. The cakes actually ended up looking pretty much like I pictured them. Exhale. After spending that much time together, however, the cakes and I needed a bit of a break. So they had a rest period in the cool of the refrigerator while I had a nap in the hammock.

one wedding, three cakes

I packed the smallest cake in liquor store box and fit the middle one in my plastic cake carrier. The wonderful Man of Science McGuyvered a box for the largest cake (while I annoyingly hovered over him and shrieked whenever I thought he was going to accidentally jab the icing) and then drove me to the wedding venue to drop these babies off . I was highly pleased when the venue coordinator asked me if I had many more cakes to deliver that day. When I told him I was just a friend of the bride and groom's and I had never actually baked any wedding cakes before, he made a fantastic surprised face. I was already proud of myself, but extra validation never hurts.

We were actually supposed to go to the reception, but I was felled by a migraine and the MoS was equally beat, so we stayed home. Which means that no, I did not get to sample any of the cakes. From the brief note Spencer sent me it seems like the cakes were a hit and the wedding itself was great. I am excited that everything went so well, and also happy that any baking I do this week can be as frightfully unprofessional as I want it to be. Yum.

J.







Sunday, August 8, 2010

I Can't Help Falling In Love With These Muffins

peanut butter and banana muffins

Darling, so it goes. Some things are meant to be.

Like, for instance, these muffins.

What? You didn't think I was talking about my wedding again, did you? Well, in a way I am. The inspiration for these lovely peanut butter and banana muffins came from none other than Mr. Elvis Presley. I figured, the man officiated at my wedding, the least I can do is bake some muffins in his honour.

We all know that The King had a fondness for the combination of peanut butter and bananas, namely in the form of a fried sandwich. Sorry, Elvis, I am not a banana sandwich kind of girl*.

As regular readers know, I am an enemy of bananas in their natural form. I make an unattractive face just thinking about them. I am, however, super into bananas that have been messed with. I love frozen bananas blended into my morning smoothie, for instance. And I like all forms of banana bread and banana muffins. Adding peanut butter just made these babies even better.

Peanut butter and banana muffins

Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

1/2 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup light spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons water
2 large bananas MASHED!
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly grease muffin tins or fill with paper liners (this makes one dozen regular sized muffins).

Heat the oil over med-low heat and stir in peanut butter until it is all smoothly combined. Pour into a mixing bowl and let cool.

Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in another bowl.

Mix ground flax seeds with water until they are very well combined. Set aside.

Add sugar to cooled peanut butter mixture.

Add flax and water, mashed bananas, and vanilla to peanut mixture.

Combine dry and wet ingredients, stirring a few times with a wooden spoon.

Fill muffins tins 3/4 full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are browned.

Let them cool then love them tender.

our officiant

Some Notes:

-Thanks again to all you wonderful people who commented to say congratulations regarding our wedding. I have to admit the most amusing comments were the ones from the staff and chef at Zen Kitchen, who were in on the whole surprise engagement thing and knew I was getting married while I was still naively digging into my seitan sausages and gnocchi. Which were delicious, by the way.

-Do you make your own soup stock? This has nothing to do with muffins, I just want to know. I always save my veggie odds and ends with the intent of doing this, but they often stay forgotten in the freezer for months because buying stock cubes is easier and I am, in some strange ways, lazy. However, this weekend I made a giant pot of vegetable stock and it took almost no time or effort. I will try to do this more often.

-Oh! And! Ha ha, did I mention that I'm making three cakes for my friends' Spencer and Isabel's wedding this coming weekend? One dairy-free lemon, one dairy-free chocolate, and one gluten-free chocolate. Am I crazy? Maybe! Will it make for an entertaining blog post? Indeed!

J.

This Time Last Year: Blueberry Bundt Cake

*That's what she said.



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

love, love, love

Warning: This post is not about food.

Do you want to know about my first date with The Man of Science?

I remember it well, because he teases me about it constantly. It was a blind date, and we'd arranged to take our dogs for a walk in a park near my apartment. I was weirdly nervous. My hair wouldn't do what I wanted it to do. When he knocked on the door I rushed to answer it.

"Jennifer?" He asked. He was wearing boots with no laces in them and full-length, torn wool coat covered in dog hair. He had a toque pulled over his head at a strange angle.

My first thought, "Well, this isn't going anywhere."

When he bugs me about that now, I try to defend myself. "You looked like a crazy person," I tell him.

The thing was, we had a really great time. It only took us about 20 minutes to get past the awkward, small-talk portion of the date. After the walk we dropped the dogs off at our respective homes and went out for beer and french fries. On his way to pay the bill he walked past me and put his hand on my shoulder. It was nice. After that he drove me home and walked me to the door of my apartment.

"So, uh, I wasn't sure I really wanted to be dating anyone, but you know, I really like you and I'd like to see you again, Susan."

Susan?

Luckily he corrected himself quickly.

When I went inside, my roommate Pam asked me how the date had gone.

"I think I'm going to marry this guy," I said. She looked surprised. I felt a bit shocked myself.

"Really? Why?" she asked.

"He's just so... reasonable."

It sounds like an underwhelming thing to say, and I meant it to be so much more than that. I meant that he was responsible and respectful. That he was smart and interesting. That he paid attention to what I was saying when I talked and that he had his shit together. Not to mention, under the dog hair and the crooked hat, he was damn cute.

So, three years and a few months later, just this past Saturday, we went out to celebrate my birthday at Zen Kitchen. We chatted and laughed through dinner, just like we usually do. And then, with dessert, came something else.

A sapphire ring on a plate in front of me. The next five minutes are a bit of a blur. You know that laugh-cry thing? Does that happen to you? I think it's from the same neighbourhood as hyperventilating. And for once in my life I had no handkerchief with me.

The Man of Science put the ring on my finger and asked if I'd marry him. I stopped laugh-crying long enough to say yes.

"Good," he said, "Because we're leaving for Las Vegas tomorrow."

I've been pretty clear all along that if we were to get married I wanted to elope. The thought of planning a wedding gave me hives, and I'd seen too many friends get stressed out and watched it take some of the joy out of a day meant to be so fun and amazing. Since having a big wedding didn't matter to me I wanted to avoid all of that stress. And the craziness of planning it all. But even an elopement takes planning, doesn't it?

Not for me. The Man of Science planned it ALL. Keeping in mind my love of 1950's and 60's culture he found a chapel with a room decorated to look like an old style diner. He bought three different retro dresses for me to choose from. And shoes. And a little veil. And gloves. He booked an appointment for me to get my hair all done up like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. And he rented a 1959 cherry red Cadillac convertible and drove us to the chapel in it. A very kind Elvis impersonator sang "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" while we walked down the aisle and then led us in our vows.

It was way more touching that I'd imagined. I don't even know how to explain it except to say that big wedding or small, what is supposed to matter is the two people who are getting married. And looking at him while we said those vows was not goofy, or tacky, or funny. It was just wonderful. I've never felt so right about anything in my life.

Our favourite photo

Our friends and families were able to watch the whole thing on the internet while it was happening, which made them very happy. The congratulations came pouring in. It all made me feel so loved.

And so, I'm married. Ring on my finger and everything. We have two more days to "honeymoon" in Vegas before coming home.

I am a happy, happy girl.

Next post will be about food again, I promise.

J.