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Archive for April, 2010

This may seem like it has nothing to do with veganism; but, veganism to me is so much more than just the food you eat. Veganism is about making informed decisions, and about voting with every dollar you spend. This post is about Unilever…the company behind such products as Dove, Axe, Knorr….the list goes on.

My main “beef” with Unilever is their marketing campaigns for two of their brands, namely Dove and Axe. Dove has been really focusing on their “Campaign for Real Beauty” for the past little while. They have these inspiring commercials and advertisements about teaching young girls to respect and love themselves at an early age, about loving how you look regardless of age, weight, race, etc…

That’s all very empowering and sounds wonderful. However, this company also markets Axe. Their commercials are all about objectifying women and making it seem as though women can be completely controlled by a man who smells like “Phoenix” or “Shock” or whatever else.

Now, I’m no feminist…believe me, I’m SO not…but I saw an Axe ad yesterday that legitimately pissed me off! The ad was a full-page spread in a popular men’s magazine and the last line of the ad reads: “Scrub away the skank with Snake Peel” SKANK?!?! REALLY?!?! Some marketing genius thought that was appropriate?

I get who the company’s target market is. I get that the ad wasn’t marketed at me…a married woman in her late 20s. I get that Axe thinks that men love the idea of women being drawn to them, that they’ll get fondled and licked and whatnot. I get that there are men in the world who do think that way.

What I don’t get is how the same company that claims to be trying to empower women and teach them to respect and love their bodies and themselves could also be sending the message that women are skanks who should be scrubbed off as soon as a man is done with them. Unacceptable! That sort of contradiction is appalling.

The point of my little rant here is to be informed. Do your research. Know what you’re buying into when you hand your money over to any company. Do you really want to support a company that sends such demeaning messages out into the world? Do you really want to support a company whose corporate philosophy is contradiction?

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Vegan Ham!!

It’s here, ladies and gentlemen! The moment you’ve all been waiting for…never again will you have a sleepless night, tossing and turning… pondering why, oh why, isn’t there a perfect vegan ham out there?! It’s here.

It took some experimenting and probing questioning of the Husband; but, I think I nailed it with this one. I combined my memory of what ham tasted like with some creative ingredients and used Bryanna Clark Grogan’s vegan turkey recipe as a jumping off point, altering ingredients and cooking method to end up with a version of ham that I think is just stellar. Husband said it was the closest thing to real ham he’s ever tried.

Labour intensive? Yes. Worth it? Totally! You can slice up hearty slabs and serve it as your “protein” at a big holiday dinner, slathered with mustard sauce. You can slice it in paper-thin slices and stack it a mile high between two crusty baguette pieces with horseradish and pickles. You can even fry up cubes of it and serve with hash browns for a diner breakfast to die for!

Without further ado, I give you:

Vegan Ham

-2 cups gluten flour

-1/2 cup chickpea flour

-1/2 cup nutritional yeast

-2 tsp. onion powder

-1 tsp. garlic powder

-1/2 tsp. salt

-1/8 tsp. allspice

-1/4 tsp. smoky paprika

-3/4 pkg. firm tofu, drained but not pressed

-3 T. tamari

-2 T. liquid smoke

-3 T. maple syrup

-1 cup pickled beet juice

-1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Stir together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Crumble the tofu into your blender. Blend the tofu with the wet ingredients until very smooth.

Add the wet to the dry and mix together until well incorporated. You should have one large, doughy mass. Knead it for 5 minutes, until it is smooth and holds together well.

Wrap the ham very tightly in foil, twisting the ends to seal. Lay it gently in a rectangular casserole dish and add enough water to the casserole dish to come at least 1″ up the ham.

Bake for 50 minutes, turn the ham over gently and bake an additional 50 minutes. Remove from oven and unwrap the ham to cool until serving time.

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Zucchini Soup

It’s been a little dreary the past couple days…not cold, just cloudy and damp and very blah, in general. This is the part of Spring I don’t like…and when the weather is like this, I combat it with soup! Vibrant-coloured, thick and creamy soup. This one was inspired by one I saw prepared on Laura Calder’s French cooking show. I essentially used the same method as hers; but, I used vegan substitutes and swapped/added a couple of ingredients.

The end result was delicious! It was velvet-textured, had the loveliest flecks of darker green from the zucchini skins, and was rich beyond belief. Both warm and cold, it tasted superb; especially with a crusty, golden-brown baguette for dunking.

Zucchini Soup (adapted from a Laura Calder recipe)

-6 small zucchini, unpeeled and chopped

-2 large shallots, peeled and chopped

-4 cups vegetable stock

-salt and pepper, to taste

-1 large avocado

-1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

-3 T. vegan cream cheese (I used Yoso’s garlic and onion flavour)

-paprika, optional, for garnish

Place the chopped zucchini and shallots in a medium-sized pot. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in stock; there should be just enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 10 minutes, or till veggies are very soft. Add the flesh of the avocado, the parsley and the cream cheese. Use an immersion blender to blend everything together until incorporated and smooth. You can leave it a little chunky if you’d prefer. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of paprika.

Alternately, after blending the soup you could chill it and serve it cold.

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In honour of my birth season finally reaching its full stride, Husband and I had a light, refreshing dinner before taking our very first bike ride of the year. It felt so good to get back on my beautiful blue vintage cruiser! Husband received a brand-spanking new bicycle as an early birthday gift from his parents and he’s been itching to get out and give it a spin. We had a lovely, light 3 km ride after our lovely, light dinner and I must say, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer evening! So content…*sigh*

Our dinner consisted of mushroom quinoa with fresh parsley and a wonderful salad with kalamata olives, orange slices and chewy sun-dried tomatoes.

For the quinoa, I simmered the grains in mushroom stock while I sautéed some sliced cremini mushrooms in a little olive oil with some diced shallot. Once the quinoa was finished cooking, I tossed in the mushrooms and shallots, as well as a handful of chopped fresh parsley and some fresh ground black pepper.

While our quinoa simmered and our mushrooms browned, I whipped up a colourful salad to serve alongside. Sliced navel oranges, juicy kalamata olives, crisp red pepper pieces, sharp red onion rings, chewy sun-dried tomato slivers, and firm zucchini rounds were tossed with organic field greens and a light red wine vinaigrette to create a very flavourful accompaniment to our protein-packed quinoa main dish.

The platter just screamed “Spring!” so loudly that I had to photograph it on a sunny yellow backdrop. I smile just looking at it with its bright colours and the flavours to match.

Welcome, Spring! I missed you while you were away…

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A good tomato is simply enough to live for. There is something about that beautiful red “fruit” that just does it for me! A perfect, ripe tomato makes every problem I have seem to just disappear…a little creepy? Maybe; but, you try to resist a vine-ripened, firm and juicy bright red jewel when it’s offered to you.

I know that it is absolutely not tomato season yet and I’ll be hard-pressed to find decent tomatoes anywhere for months to come; but, I just could not resist those beauties I found a few days ago…and by “I found”, I mean my in-laws bought and I saw on the counter and proceeded to make short work of…

They were so swollen with juice that just touching them caused them to fall from their stem and that fresh, summery aroma of tomato was exactly what you’d expect of an August-picked garden tomato. I knew they were destined to become one of my all-time favourite things…a humble tomato sandwich.

Way back when I first went veg, I ate literally a bazillion tomato sandwiches. I didn’t know how to cook, had no desire to learn, and had a very crazy carb obsession; where else could those factors lead but to tomato sandwiches for 2 meals each and every day?!?! I have no regrets.

Sometimes, I long for the simplicity of a tomato sandwich…usually in the dead of winter when there isn’t a ripe, juicy tomato anywhere to be found…and those mealy, light pink-ish “tomatoes” you find in the grocery stores and restaurants during the winter months will NOT do for my sandwich, thank you very much. Alas, I am usually forced to wait until the hazy days of summer before I can enjoy one.

Well, when I saw those tomatoes up there, I just knew they would be perfect for a sandwich…and I was not wrong. Sliced and simply layered over a blanket of vegan mayo and sprinkled only with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, the tomatoes were absolute heaven when paired with toasted bakery rye. I look forward to many more tomato sandwiches as the summer months inch closer.

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Husband and I went over to my sister’s house for Easter dinner on Sunday. She was making a “traditional” ham meal for her, the nephews, and my grandparents and I brought along some vegan dishes. We roasted up some wonderful white and green asparagus really simply with oil, salt, and pepper; I baked some creamy, rich scalloped potatoes; and, I tried my hand at making a vegan ham from scratch.

I know, I know, you’re all very intrigued and want to know details about the ham; but, this is just a little teaser; I wasn’t super-thrilled with how it turned out…it’s close…just not “blog” ready yet. Stay tuned, though…a few more tweaks and I think it’ll be a winner!

Since I decided not to post about my ham experiment, I figured I’d share that little gem of a pie with you. It was very well received and I will definitely make it again. My grandmother adored it and she would never ever willingly eat tofu or anything made with oat or barley flour…what she doesn’t know, right???

I used the recipe I found here.

A few notes: The filling was just perfect; but it made a lot…I could easily have made two pies with the amount of filling the recipe made. It set up wonderfully though, with a velvety texture. The coconut flavour was very pronounced, too.

The crust was good; but, I found it a little on the heavy side.  I thought it made the pie more filling than it needed to be…the filling is so rich that I felt the crust should have been a little lighter…maybe just cutting the crust recipe down by 1/3 would help. The flavour of the crust was really nice, though…you could really taste the oat and the hint of maple syrup was lovely. And the aroma while it baked…*swoon*…to die for! It was just like an old-fashioned oatmeal sugar cookie…so great….that scent should be bottled!

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