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Vegan Mofo Comfort Food: Vegan Oatmeal Muffins

Vegan Mofo Comfort Food: Vegan Oatmeal Muffins

Not quite as exciting as the aforementioned cookies, but much more breakfast-appropriate, these oatmeal muffins were the other baked goods that I brought to my Montreal hosts. Bringing vegan muffins when you’re going to stay somewhere allows you to not only gift your hosts with good food, but also ensures that they don’t have to worry about what to feed you for breakfast. It’s a win-win.

This is my standard vegan muffin recipe. You can tart it up with fruit or nuts or chocolate chips if you want, but I like them plain. Especially when spread with a bit of margarine and jam. Or some smooth peanut butter. But not butter AND peanut butter because only a crazy person would do that.

Vegan Oatmeal Muffins

  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 cup of soy milk “soured” with 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease 12 regular sized muffin cups (or fill them with paper liners.)

Combine oats and soured soymilk and leave it alone for a minute.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into another bowl.

Add the oil, sugar, flax mixture, and vanilla extract to the oatmeal mixture.

Stir wet ingredients into dry, using a wooden spoon. Don’t over-mix it.

(Here’s where you’d fold in whatever extras you want to add.)

Fill your muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.

Enjoy as the sun comes up over pretty downtown Montreal. Or pretty wherever you are.

Here’s a quote from Jesse, one of my hosts: “I left three muffins out for us to have for breakfast tomorrow. But no cookies. Because cookies are not for breakfast. Unless neither of you are looking.”


Vegan Mofo Comfort Food Recipe Number One: Whiskey Apple Crisp

Vegan Mofo Comfort Food Recipe Number One: Whiskey Apple Crisp

On Sunday afternoon my friend Amy from Toronto posted on Twitter that she was going to make and eat whiskey apple crisp that evening. I’d never heard of such a thing, but it sounded awesome. I’d had apples in the fridge for a week, and they were the kind of apples that I buy just for baking because they are very tart and I hate eating fruit that causes me to make funny faces involuntarily. Whiskey was also not a problem, since the Man of Science is a Friend of Whiskey and we had several different kinds in the liquor cabinet for me to choose from.

I improvised the recipe and it turned out shockingly well. I couldn’t stop eating it and was super happy that there was enough left for dessert the next night, too.

The cream beside the crisp is the “Almond Buttercream” recipe from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson. It is my go-to desserty cream accompaniment when I haven’t planned ahead and soaked cashews for cashew whipped cream or, even more exciting, stocked up on storebought vegan ice cream. The almond cream recipe is great because it only had three ingredients (dates, blanched almonds, and hot water) and it doesn’t require any soaking time. It’s not as silky as cashew cream, but it pairs well with “rustic” comforting desserts like this one.

Vegan Whiskey Apple Crisp

For the topping:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 6 tablespoons of vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
  • 7 dates
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 chopped pecans

For the apple part:

  • 3 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 4 cups apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 3 tbsp whiskey (as you can see, I chose Jack Daniels, but any whiskey should do)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the topping, combine all ingredients except the pecans in your food processor and pulse them until they are crumbly. (If you don’t have a food processor you can use two knives and your nimble fingers to accomplish this same result)

Add the pecans and pulse only to combine.

Then, the apples. Melt the 3 tablespoons of margarine in a pan over medium heat and toss in your chopped apples. Saute them for five minutes or until they get slightly soft.

Take them off the heat and let them cool for a couple minutes, then mix them with all other ingredients in a casserole dish or pie plate.

Sprinkle topping over apple mixture and bake for half an hour, until the topping has browned and the apples are soft.

Enjoy! Be comforted!


love, love, love

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 acrazy 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.”


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 rightabout anything in my life.

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.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

When I graduated from university in 2011, I had plans. Big, fat, dumb plans. My plans consisted of the following:

  1. Get menial job at random hip establishment.
  2. Make just enough money for rent, food, and record albums.
  3. Write a book and get it published.
  4. Repeat 1-3 indefinitely.

I’m happy (?) to tell you, dear reader, that I followed through on almost every one of those plans. I got a job at a health food store that afforded me precisely enough money for rent, food, and records. I wrote a book and got it published.

But when it was time to do the “Repeat” part of the plan, I was pretty much done with the whole menial job thing. I decided to go back to school to get my Early Childhood Education diploma. I figured that since I didn’t seem to be on my way to Professional Novelist Land, I might as well have a day job that didn’t involve selling organic chickpeas to yuppies and germ freaks. Unfortunately, to get that diploma meant spending two years at my local community college. Which was kind of like going back to high school. Which sucked.

Everyday, as I set off for the fluorescent lit hallways of Algonquin College, I would pack a gigantic amount of food in my bag. Bags of almonds and apricots, granola bars, thermoses of soup or tea, rice noodles with tofu, and more. I needed a lot of food to get me through the day, and healthy, vegetarian options on campus were scarce. Every once in a while, though, I would miscalculate or get lazy and end up not having enough food to sustain me. And I would panic. And buy a muffin.

The campus cafes were sponsored by the Tim Hortons donut chain, and so the muffins they sold were of the gigantic, sugar-filled variety. Basically, cupcakes without the icing. Totally bad for me and certainly not vegan. Delicious, though. Freakin’ delicious. I considered them a treat that would make me feel better about my stressed out existence, much like the hours I wasted watching “Trading Spaces” on the couch with my dog.

So, once again I have drawn you in with my nonsensical tales and I will reward you with this recipe. These are the chocolate chip muffins that I made this week to eat during stressful moments during my packed work days. They make a nice mid morning snack with a cup of tea and because they are sweetened with agave, they don’t give me crazy blood sugar crashes after I eat them. The only sugar in these babies comes from the chocolate chips, and you could do away with that too by making them with blueberries (like the little ones on the left in the photo). But I liked the chocolate chip ones better so that’s the recipe you get. And you will like it! Because I say so.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cook oats (none of that instant garbage!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup soy or almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a regular sized (12 muffins) muffin tin.

In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Measure out the milk and then “sour” it by adding the vanilla extract and letting it sit for a minute.

Add agave nectar and oil.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir only long enough to combine.

Add chocolate chips and stir only until they are spread evenly through the batter.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way and bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops of muffins are beginning to brown.

Makes one dozen non-gigantic muffins.

Some Notes:

  • These muffins do not get all puffy and soft like the Tim Hortons muffins, but they are not university-women’s-studies-potluck dense either. They sit happily in the middle of the two extremes.
  • I used small chocolate chips in mine because this gives you more widely distributed chocolate. Yum.
  • When I was in grade three I was in a class with a boy named Tim Horton. He sat beside me and every day at lunch he would open his thermos really slowly saying, “Is it milk? Is it milk? Is it milk?” in this very agitated way. When he saw that it was, in fact, milk, he would heave an exaggerated sigh and say, “It’s milk.” Many years later, when I was fifteen, his family came to a Christmas party my parents had. I was very socially awkward and was just learning how to dress like a weirdo. Despite my black clothes, hanging down suspenders, and mounds of eyeliner, Tim Horton told me that I was pretty and it made me happy for an entire week after the party. Thank you, milk-loving Tim Horton, for increasing my chronically low teenage self confidence.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

It’s Good Friday! And do you know what that means? It means that unless you planned ahead, you’ll be driving to gas stations in Quebec to buy booze with a bunch of other disorganized Ontarians. And if you’re lucky, your boyfriend will buy you a Lisa Simpson key chain while you’re there.

So yeah. The Man of Science and I spent all of our driving-around energy on the aforementioned booze and key chain run, which left me with no ambition to truck around town trying to find dinner ingredients. Next year I’ll remember about Easter, I swear. Luckily, the House of Science had enough in the pantry to make this delicious shepherd’s pie.

I know a lot of vegan cooks like to make their shepherd’s pie as traditionally as possible, but I for one am always disappointed when presented with a meal of TVP in tomato sauce topped with potatoes. I’m not a big TVP fan and besides, that meal needs more vegetables.

So, dear readers, I present you with this recipe for a more vegetabley version of the humble shepherd’s pie. It was the perfect way to soak up the beer in our bellies.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  • 5 large white potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp basil3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 heaping tbsp light miso
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Boil and mash your potatoes as you normally would. Remember the holy trinity of salt, oil, and unflavoured soy milk.

Cook the lentils with the bay leaf. I used three cups of water to the one cup of lentils.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet or frying pan, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add celery, rosemary, basil, and wine vinegar.

Dump in the lentils and whatever cooking liquid is left in their pot. Remove bay leaf.

Add corn and let mixture simmer for a minute.

Add miso and gradually add water. Mixture should now have some liquid in it, but not be overly soupy.

When celery is softened, add parsley and salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Spread mashed potatoes over top of lentil mixture and bake in the oven until the filling gets bubbley, about ten minutes. I put some soy parmesan, pepper, and basil on top of my potato crust before putting it in the oven.

You can let it sit under the broiler for another three to five minutes if you want the potato crust to brown up nicely.

Some Notes:

  • One of the very practical tips I learned from watching Jamie Oliver on TV is this: when you are doing a mish mash dish like this with a lot of ingredients, cut everything up to be around the same size so it is more pleasant to eat. For this one I tried to cut up my onions and celery to be small like the corn and the lentils.
  • For mashed potatoes, I always add a few cloves of garlic to the potatoes during the boiling period. When it is time to mash them, the garlic is soft and just gets mashed in too. It gives them a nice, subtle garlicy flavour.
  • The Man of Science had three helpings of this, proclaiming its deliciousness multiple times.
Vegan Spanish Omelet

Vegan Spanish Omelet

The last vacation I took with my parents before enthusiastically fleeing the coop at age 19, was a trip to Spain in the summer. My parents, who had last been to Spain as young, hippie backpackers, were perhaps hit rather hard by the fact that they had somehow become middle aged suburbanites with two eye-rolling children in tow. No more dancing to Rod Stewart in the discos of Torremolinos. No more whatever else they got up to that I’d rather not think about. The only thing that seemed to be the same was the tortillas (a.k.a. Spanish Omelets) that they ate at almost every restaurant we visited. Never an egg enthusiast, I avoided the tortillas and instead developed an intense affection for gazpacho which remains with me to this day.

Recently, after drooling over a photo that accompanied a Spanish tortilla recipe in a British home magazine, I started thinking about how to veganize it. So I made an experimental tofu tortilla one night for dinner. I was worried that with all that tofu and all those potatoes, it might end up being, well, bland. Instead, it ended up being wildly delicious. The Man of Science, when digging in for seconds, asked, “This is going to be added to your repertoire, right?” I’ll call that a success.

To make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I made it again for breakfast on Boxing Day, trying desperately to remember what I’d done the first time. And again, delicious. Some of the ingredients were changed slightly, given that I’d run out of both roasted red peppers and tomatoes and had no desire to brave the icy outdoors to procure some more. I subbed in spinach and chopped sundried tomatoes and it was just as tasty.

Vegan Spanish Omelet

  • 7 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup roasted red peppers
  • ½ cup pitted black olives
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • more salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until mostly tender

Fry onion in olive oil until tender, add boiled potatoes and fry for another minute or two.

With a blender or food processor, mix tofu, turmeric, garlic, salt and pepper.

Place potato and onion mixture in a baking pan and pour tofu mixture over top.

Mix in olives and roasted red peppers.

Top with tomatoes, sprinkle basil and some salt and pepper over top.

Bake at 400 degrees for about one hour.

Some notes:

  • This recipe is not low-cal by any stretch of the imagination. Dishes featuring oil, salt, and potatoes seldom are. This means I recommend eating it for breakfast and maybe going to a brisk walk afterwards to avoid feeling bogged down.
  • A cast iron pan is really the way to go if you have one that is large enough. It means you can fry your onions, dump in your other ingredients, and slide the whole thing into the oven without a second thought.
  • The finished product does not come out in nice, firm slices like a more eggy version might. In this case, though, form is happily sacrificed in the name of taste.