Archive for the ‘rambling’ Category

Husband and I moved into our own place this past weekend. Words cannot express how wonderful that makes us feel…we have alone time again, we’re using our stuff again, we can walk naked to the bedroom from the shower (!!!), and best of all, I have my own kitchen. (Please insert sigh of relief and elation here)

We had been moved in for a grand total of perhaps 40 minutes before I started to cook. Now, to be fair, I spent most of last week carting over all my kitchen stuff to the new place and getting it all organized. Come move day, the kitchen was completely ready to start using….can you see where my priorities lie?!

The very first thing I whipped up in my kitchen: one giant vat of potato salad for a BBQ we were attending that evening. As a main for Husband and I, I marinated some slabs of tempeh in my favourite store-bought BBQ sauce, tweaked with a light drizzle of maple syrup. Cooked over the grill and eaten al fresco with good company, it was a perfect dish. But, on to the salad! I have to brag a little here, I make the greatest potato salad ever. I know everyone says that about their potato salad; but, mine really is the best *wink*.

I won’t include an actual recipe because I change it up a little bit each time; but some things are always the same…I leave the skin on the potatoes. I can’t eat potato salad without the skins. I always stir in way more fresh herbs than is necessary…this time around it was flat-leaf parsley and dill. The way I see it, the more fresh herbs you add, the more you taste them and that can’t be a bad thing, right?! Besides, have you ever eaten anything so perfect as potato salad heavy with fresh dill….mmmmm….

It was very well-received at the BBQ. In fact, a friend who had already eaten dinner with her family stopped by to hang out and she had two helpings! I gorged myself on it…just let loose on that bowl without thinking about etiquette or calories.

I guess the point of my little anecdote is that I’m back in the kitchen! It was nice to see my cast iron pan, my great-grandmother’s wooden spoon, my coffee grinder, my vintage Juice King, you know…all the things I love so much and have missed like crazy these past seven months. Oh, did I mention that I have room to expand! I can start shopping for more dishes…EEK!

This week, I’ve made every one of our meals from scratch. It’s been just perfect. Husband says I stand around the kitchen with a dopey lovesick grin on my face. I sip strong coffee from my favourite mug while I brainstorm dinner ideas (lentil bake and seared rapini this evening, if you must know) and I know that I’m consumed in the honeymoon phase. I hope it never passes.

I must apologize for the lack of photos to accompany this long-overdue post. I’m in the process of trying to tackle the office. Right now it’s in a state of chaos, boxes and piles everywhere. I don’t even have a desk or computer…I’m upgrading this week and didn’t bother bringing the old ones along with me. So, sadly, I have not taken a single picture of what I’ve been making…I promise to make it up to you as soon as I have my shiny new 27″ iMac!

If you’ll excuse me, I must go check on the tofu jerky I’ve been dehydrating since 7AM…*dopey grin and lovesick sigh*


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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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…is such a funny thing, isn’t it? I’m always so amazed by what inspires me and how different things will spark inspiration in different ways. Being a trained “photographer” (I put that in quotations because, although it is my passion, it is sadly not my livelihood right now), I was taught to find inspiration in everything I saw. Generally speaking, I can see inspiration everywhere I go. I’m thankful for that.

Being a person who spends a good portion of their waking hours in the kitchen, I can also smell, feel, and taste inspiration. For example, just yesterday, I was walking down Yonge Street and got a whiff of something that smelled like whipped cream and heaven…in reality it was just the waffle/crepe shop with their front window open…and I was hit so hard with an idea for a flavour of vegan ice cream I really want to create. And hit hard! I could taste the exact flavour I want, I could see it and I could almost feel the cool spoonfuls melting on my tongue. I was so preoccupied with the idea of it that I rambled to my Mom about it hours later on the phone.

That leaves sound, doesn’t it? I’ve convinced myself all my life that if I had to pick hearing or sight, I would definitely pick sight because hearing doesn’t affect me quite so much. I’m basically tone deaf and have no natural rhythm whatsoever. I didn’t start paying attention to music until I was about 15. I just listened to whatever anyone put on and essentially forgot music was on. Then, my parents bought me an acoustic guitar and I started taking lessons. After a few months of practicing and developing calluses on my fingers, I noticed something incredible…music started to become more audible to me. And I found myself able to understand it: the notes, the melody, the lyrics. That’s what started me listening to music and researching music and, especially, enjoying music. I started to soak it all up. I even wrote a few things of my own along the way.

When Husband and I started dating, I was introduced to different types of music: rockabilly, punk, and hardcore namely. I devoured them. Okay, not so much with the hardcore but the rockabilly and punk for sure. I love the catchiness and twanginess of the rockabilly and I love very political, somewhat melodic punk.

Recently, I’ve been finding so much inspiration in left-wing political, acoustic punk. So much I wanna cry sometimes. Or scream. I get so much inspiration coming at me that I don’t know how to catch it and hold onto it, nurture it and then release it. I’m left with a big pile of half-ideas and fragments-of-thought at my feet and not a clue how to pick up the pieces. Funny, isn’t it? It’s the inspiration itself that has given me artist’s block.

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The Hierarchy

One of life’s little annoyances often comes to me in the form of the following comment: “You’re vegan? But you’re wearing a leather belt…” This prompted me to explain my hierarchy.

The way I see it, I chose to become vegan for moral and environmental reasons. I have always been very concerned about the environment and have always tried my best to keep my carbon footprint in check, even before I knew what a carbon footprint was. My concern for the environment led me vegetarianism as a kid and further led me to veganism in January of last year.

Things I purchased before going vegan, like my 8 year old leather belt or the feather duvet I purchased when Husband and I first moved in together, are still functional, regardless of whether or not they make me a “good” vegan. It’s more damaging to the planet to just toss those things into a garbage bin to find something more vegan-friendly so, yes, I do wear a leather belt, and I sleep under a feather duvet….until they are no longer usable and I don’t feel like any less of a vegan for doing so. I haven’t purchased anything containing animal products since going vegan; but, I certainly won’t be wasteful. I’m not comfortable accommodating one part of my belief system to compromise another.

That sort-of ties in to another interesting battle…organic vs. local. I try my best to purchase organic when I can; but, I do tend to believe that local trumps organic. For one, a lot of local producers have organic practises without having the certification and I feel just as comfortable supporting a non-organic family farm located just outside Toronto as I do supporting an organic farm in California. Plus, purchasing local increases the demand for local products in your area. If the demand is increased, the farms might just be able to afford getting the organic certification or other small farms might be able to step in with their own products, thus increasing the type of products available for me to purchase local.

I’ve always been a fierce supporter of the little guy, a defender of the under-dog and I believe firmly in doing what you can for your community by starting in your own backyard, and branching out from there. For those reasons, I tend to support the independent markets in my area, compare manufacturing locations on labels just as much as I compare ingredients, and support local charities first and foremost. To me, that’s all part of veganism.

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Get a Move On!

So, I dropped off the face of the earth for a little while again. Many apologies; moving is always much more time-consuming than I remember. The move itself went really well, though. Do you ever have one of those life experiences where everything just keeps lining up and working out and solidifying in your mind that you made the absolute best decision? That’s what this move was.

Hubby and I got our U-Haul with no problems (which is a shock…we’ve had nothing but bad luck with U-Haul in the past). The man at the U-Haul office was one of the most interesting people I’ve met this year; his girlfriend is a world-renowned sculptress and we were talking about some of her work and the people he’s met through her….fascinating!

Then, we had only managed to recruit my best friend (such a trooper, she is!) to help us move. We figured it would take the 3 of us a few hours to get all our stuff out of the truck and into our new place in a low-rise walk-up. However, when we pulled the truck up to the new building, the most amazingly beautiful thing happened. I mean it; it completely reinstated a little faith in humanity for me. There was another couple finishing up their move into the building. There’s only the one stairwell to use and we knew we’d be all over each other all night if we tried to move around each other so the couple, their 4 friends, and Husband came up with this wonderful plan: we’d help them finish up their move if they helped us for an equal amount of time! We helped them finish up….it took maybe 45 minutes to move them into their place. They started helping us…and they were superheroes! They didn’t shy away from heavy or fragile things, we chatted and joked around with each other and before I knew it…they had helped us clear out our entire truck! Seriously, these total strangers donated about 2 hours of their time to help us…even after they’d spent their day moving, just as we had. I really wanted to cry…I was so grateful. We kept thanking them and thanking them and the response was always “no worries, it’s just the neighbourly thing to do”! Mind-blowing, I tell ya! Once my kitchen is finally in order, I’m bringing them some vegan cupcakes because that’s the neighbourly thing to do!

The next morning, Husband and I went to grab a bite at this little all-day breakfast place across the street from us and it just happens to have a “rich vegan menu”. As we’re eating our delicious meal, a man who is very clearly a regular at the restaurant sits down beside us and sparks up a conversation with us. We learn that the three of us are all from the same area in Northern Ontario; he even worked in mine and Husband’s home-town for awhile. He starts talking about the outdoors because our home-town is very outdoorsy (I grew up with a lake as a backyard, there are beaches and hiking trails all over, I have friends that grew up cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in their yards as kids) and that leads us to the environment and animal rights. This man starts talking about the energy that animals have and what happens to it when they are slaughtered and he mentions that he’s starting to become more conscious of the environmental and moral ramifications of his diet and he has no idea that he’s talking to a vegan and a vegetarian! When we tell him, he starts asking me all these questions about why I became vegan and what my favourite foods are and how easy the transition was and he’s so interested and soaking up information like a sponge! I’m thinking we must have slipped into a coma sometime during our move and that I must be creating all this in my mind somehow because all these wonderful things just keep lining up and I pinch myself and realize it’s real and am just so grateful for how this has worked out…how for the first time in a long time, something has worked out and gone right and-as cheesy as it sounds-filled me up with warm, happy energy.

Oh, and did I mention we adore our new place?! It’s absolutely perfect! It has charm and character and creaky floors and imperfections in the walls and stained glass in the windows and a really deep bathtub and…well, you get the idea! We’re still settling in; but, the first thing I do every morning when I wake up is look around and smile. My fingers are crossed that this is just the start of a more agreeable chapter in our lives.

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So, I was sipping my coffee this morning and half paying attention to the news when the Sunday morning health segment started and I snapped my head up to listen. Brendan Brazier was the guest this morning and I LOVE him. I was just telling my husband about him a couple days ago and how much I respect and admire him. For those who don’t know, Brendan Brazier is a Canadian Iron Man triathlete who also happens to be a long-time vegan. He is a picture perfect example of a competitive athlete…lean and strong and oozing health.

The entire segment today was about improving your health through a plant-based diet and Brendan was answering questions about veganism, supplements and, of course, how he gets his protein (grr!). I listened attentively to him speak and give tips about how to increase your iron levels, describe some important super-foods and he even stuck to his guns when asked if poultry or red meat was healthier….his answer: “I honestly wouldn’t eat either”.

It was inspiring. I’ve been dreaming of beginning training for a marathon or biathalon for a while now and listening to Brendan speak is cementing the idea in my brain. Now if only I could convince Brendan to give up competing and touring to be my personal trainer/coach for free…

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Making Changes

I’ve been MIA for a little while now…real life getting in the way of down-time. Husband and I have been wrapped up in all the changes we’ve been making…mainly getting ready for our move in just over three weeks. We found the perfect apartment and I am so excited to get in there and make it mine! You know when you walk into a place and you just feel so at home you almost sigh with relief? Well, that was how it felt to find our new place. It was just magically perfect for us….*sigh*.

The moving process is bringing about some positive things in me, I’ve noticed. I’ve been purging our possessions while packing things up, taking the time to review and reminisce on things I’d all but forgotten, I’ve been excited to plan for our future together in our wonderful new home, and am so thrilled at the prospect of riding my bike to work again (bicycle commuting to work is the only way I’ve found to guarantee regular exercise in my life and I’ve missed it over these past six months while I’ve been working so close to home).

The most important change I’ve noticed is how hopeful I’ve become again. I’ve been so stressed and down the past little while and this move is renewing me, restoring my hope and making me think positively about the future again. It’s a great feeling, I must say. I’m hopeful this feeling will last, too.

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