Archive for September, 2009

This is just a quick little note about Toronto’s 2nd Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. It’s happening in one. more. week. Next Saturday from 4-7PM at Harbourfront Centre, you can sample the wonderful entries of all the contestants for a very small donation. Jae Steele will be there judging! More importantly, VEGAN BAKED GOODS!!

I missed it last year because of work and I was really disappointed because I heard it truly was fabulous; so, this year, I am not going to miss it. I chickened out on entering, though. I want to get a feel for the calibre of baked good that will be entered and the types of things people enter. Next year, though…boy, I tell ya, I’ll be whipping up something fierce! Plus, I’ll be shooting photos at this year’s bake-off and wanted to concentrate on photography this time around. And eating. I’ll be very focussed on eating.

If you’re in Toronto next Saturday, October 3, head to Harbourfront Centre at 4PM and eat your way into pure bliss! You can find out more information about it here.


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On Sunday afternoon, I finally convinced Husband to come to see Julie & Julia with me after weeks of pleading. on my knees. with my hands clasped in front of me. and pouting. and giving him puppy-dog eyes. My Mom and Dad had been telling me for a while that I needed to see it and that I would love it and that I just HAD to go and see that movie and finally, Husband agreed. And you know what? He freakin’ loved it. He hated that he loved it; but, he couldn’t help falling in love with it.

I have had a torrid love affair with Julia Child since I was too young to know what a torrid love affair was. For one, no one was or ever will be as adorable as Julia Child. The gargantuan woman was an absolute delight to watch/listen to. Secondly, and probably most importantly, she just loved food so passionately. She loved to be around it, she loved to get her hands dirty in the kitchen, she loved to feed mouth-watering dishes to friends and family, she  was enveloped by her sense reactions to food and most of all, she loved to eat. I find that kind of passion (for anything) inspiring and striking.

Granted, she was nowhere near vegan-friendly in her diet but that isn’t important to me. I could care less how many ducks she boned, how many pounds of butter she used a day (okay. that’s not true. i do find it a little nightmarish. i could not even fathom the hellish aroma of a calf’s foot boiling down in a pot. *puke*) or whatever else she did with various animal carcasses. I ignore that because her passion speaks volumes, and it speaks  universally. I have the same passion in the kitchen. I understand how she could get so excited about her soufflé coming out of the oven perfectly-puffed. I squeal a little when my vegan brownies come out of the oven just as I’d imagined…dense and chewy and fudgy and…*sigh*….perfect.

Going vegan was a personal choice for me. I don’t judge people who are dirty omnivores because I don’t want them to judge me. I don’t want people to assume I eat nothing but leaves and twigs because what else is there when you take out the cow. I am hurt every time someone rolls their eyes at me because I’ve asked whether the rice that comes with my meal is cooked with animal stock or butter and I wouldn’t want to make someone else feel bad about their life decisions.

The easiest way I’ve found to get people to understand my food choices is to show them my passion. Tell them about the wonderful meals I make. Offer them a perfect brownie. Show them photos of the mouth-watering plate I put on my table the night before. When people see how excited I am about what I’m eating/cooking/baking, they tend to react in a more positive way. I guess what I’m trying to say is, people respond to passion. Show someone why you do what you do, and they want to know more.

For example, earlier this summer, a friend invited Husband and I to her family’s annual potluck and bonfire. I decided it would be the perfect time to try out Isa’s lemon squares. I lovingly made a big batch and showed them off on the dessert table. I was the only vegan present at the potluck, and Husband was the only vegetarian. I was telling a few guests about the lemon squares and how delicious and lemon-y they were and when they tried them, they were all over me for information. How did you make the curd without eggs? What do you mean there’s no gelatin to help it set? What do you use instead of butter in your crust?  I showed them how much I loved them and they, in turn, showed me their interest in learning to bake using vegan alternatives.

When you show passion for food, it doesn’t matter what you put on the plate, it will be delicious and those you share it with will keep coming back for more.

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coconut stir-fryI love eating veggie stir-fry for dinner especially when I’ve had a particularly protein-y lunch. There’s no real recipe, it’s just a super-quick stir fry over jasmine rice and topped with toasted cashews. More often than not when I work late, this is what Husband and I eat for dinner. You can use whatever veggies are left in the fridge, in this case broccoli, bok choy, celery, carrots, green pepper, and mushrooms. It’s healthy and chock-full of veggies. This one was topped with a simple sauce of coconut milk simmered with some herbs. What could be better after a long day on your feet than crisp-tender veggies over fragrant rice with a slurpy coconut-based sauce? Seriously, what?!

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risottoI came up with this a couple weeks ago and we loved it. We had company for dinner (both omnis) and they thought it was delicious as well…they didn’t even miss the cheese or cream that usually lurks around in risottos. It has a great chew to it and a really fresh flavour thanks to the lemon. Sprinkled with some toasted pine nuts and served with a nice glass of wine and a simple salad, this risotto deserves a spot in regular rotation, even if it does require a lot of attention.

Lemon and Sun-dried Tomato Risotto:

-3 T. olive oil

-1 T. Earth Balance

-2 stalks celery, diced

-1/2 medium onion, diced

-1 clove garlic, minced

-2 cups arborio rice

-7 cups vegetable stock, brought to a boil and then reduced to a simmer

-1/2 to 3/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, blotted of excess oil and chopped

-1 roasted red pepper, diced

-1 T. capers, drained and rinsed

-1 bay leaf

-1/4 cup nutritional yeast

-1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest plus the juice of 1 lemon

-salt and pepper, to taste

-1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish

Heat oil and Earth Balance in heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Sauté the celery and onion till onion is clear. Add the garlic and rice and stir 2 minutes, coating rice well.

Add a cup of stock and stir till absorbed. Add another cup of stock, the tomatoes, roasted red pepper, capers and bay leaf. Stir till absorbed again. Keep adding stock, a cup at a time, and stirring until the rice is tender and the risotto has a thick, creamy texture. Stir in the nutritional yeast, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.

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