Thursday, March 25, 2010

I swear I'm still cooking!

Hey there!

Between working full-time at the job I'm about to leave, writing for the Examiner, finishing the Sookie Stackhouse series (I've read the entire series, books one through nine, in two and a half months), planning a vacation, and going through the motions of getting a job in my field, I haven't had a chance to write here. My apologies!

If you'd like to see what I've been up to at the Examiner, you can check out my list of articles here and, more specifically, some recipes for some truly decadent dishes. As usual, I bake better than I cook, so you'll notice a theme in my recipes. Since I'm the Montreal Vegan Food Examiner, I have to stay local, of course, so I've had some fun veganizing Québecois recipes, recipes which are notorious for being heavy in cream and meat, for example. Of course, I still haven't overcome my indifference towards good presentation with food: to me, if it tastes good, it doesn't even matter how it looks, so I ask that you excuse the messy contents of the photographs.

More news: last week, I accepted a position as a Quality Assurance Editor (oh, dude, I have a title!). I start on Monday, so tomorrow is my last day at a job I've held for four years. I'm bummed because this job got me through my degree at Concordia, and it's at the company my father founded many years ago. Since my father's passing, my sister's graduation, and my finding a new job, no more members of our clan are taking part in this company's day-to-day affairs, so it's kinda sad. But life goes on, and we must continue to evolve, and I am absolutely thrilled to be doing what I like best: working with language, and I'll be getting paid to correct English! That's totally my thing, as friends and family know; I read books armed with a pen--that's how much I am a stickler for good grammar and spelling. So, yay! :)

Anyway, I should take my own advice and stay on topic. So I thank you for reading about my life's updates, and I'll try to update with food and after-work meals (I'll be spending three hours on public transit each day) as often as I can, between working full-time (in downtown Montreal! Zing!) and writing for the Examiner. Below are photos of what I've been up to lately, in the kitchen and out of it.

I wish you all a very pleasant rest of the week and a splendid weekend.

Lots of love,

Vegan in Suburbia

 
I forgot to post this photo last time, but these are Happy Herbivore's quesadillas with cheesy sauce. These were absolutely delicious and comfortingly spicy. Oh, and speaking of which: Lindsay's cookbook is now available for pre-order in Canada and the U.S. Click here to pre-order your copy.
This quesadilla defies gravity. (Not really--I just didn't feel like rotating the photo because I'm working on a very slow netbook.)
 
My friend Susi bought me this neat brownie maker/cutter for me, and she asked that the first batch I made go to her. So, naturally, I decided to make the most ambitious recipe I could think of (why do I always do that when I don't have time to do a re-do if I mess up?). Anyway, this is the result of Florida Crystals' Cheesecake Streusel Brownies. They were marvelous when frozen, but they were unacceptably oily at room temperature--and of course that means they were deliciously unhealthy. I tried making them again with a low-fat state of mind (applesauce became my close friend) but I ended up having to throw out the brownies, I mean, brownie batter.
 
As you can see, I became overzealous with my Daiya. My Nonna made orecchiette pasta, probably the greatest type ever, provided it's made by a Nonna's hands and, therefore, with love. I ate this with my Momma's green beans.
 
 
Home-made vegan meatloaf: did you know I'd never had meatloaf in my life, vegan or otherwise, before this one? I found the recipe here and poured Shiitake Mushroom Gravy by Road's End over it.
It was delightful.
 
This month was a month of firsts: seven years vegan, and yet I'd never made a tofu tuno sandwich before. Vegan Dad introduced me to it here, and man, did it taste good! I don't know if it tasted that much like tuna, but what mattered was that it was delicious. Matt enjoyed it and even made a face when he tasted it, because he had to dissociate the taste from the idea of tuna, and then he devoured the sandwich. Success!
 
Not food-related, I know, but I saw this while walking on St. Denis street after a meal and an interview with Patrick Michaud of ChuChai, and I needed to take a picture. Creepy babies! 
... and chairs with no seats :)
 
I'm in love. I've been going to Pushap on des Sources Blvd. for as long as I've been vegan, but I've never actually taken any photos of their food. This is their famous samosa-pakora plate, and it provides a warm prelude to a thali plate.
 
Welcome to the $6 thali (meal of the day)! You can't get a better deal than this: palak alu, chana masala, mixed veggies, fragrant basmati rice, coleslaw, and a vegan naan. This is pure love, but only about half of it makes it inside my tummy (the rest comes home in a doggy bag). C'mon: I need room for dessert!
 
Here is my love digging into his very own thali.
 
I used to work every weekend and thus missed excellent opportunities to have or make brunch. Now that I have been working full-time, Saturday and Sundays mornings are alllll miiiiiine! So I gathered up some friends and headed to Aux Vivres in the Plateau and enjoyed a delicious vegan brunch. Pictured here are tempeh bacon strips, scrambled tofu, fresh salad, sweet-potato slices, and corn bread with veggies baked in. My friends thought I was odd for requesting maple syrup to pour over my scrambled tofu, but I used to eat scrambled eggs like that, so it makes sense in my head.
 
Tarte au sirop d'érable (maple syrup pie): this is one of the Québecois recipes I veganized for Examiner.com. It had been years since I'd had maple syrup pie, and this was a, er, welcome welcome to my favourite dessert ever.
 
About a month ago, I purchased The Blissful Chef's spring cookbook, Cooking with the Seasons. She specializes in vegan macrobiotic cooking, and I was eager to try out her recipes. Here we have Mustard Arame Sauté (I didn't have arame so I used nori) and below, in the foreground, we have Red Quinoa Salad. Both were delicious, filling, and healthful. 
Every couple of weeks, I make two dozen wholesome muffins that I freeze and grab for a mid-morning snack at work. These are date-almond-banana muffins and easily the best muffins I've ever made, simply because they contain dates. I pretty much just improvised, starting with a banana-bread recipe that I've been using for years. I'll post a recipe the next chance I get, because I want to share the love of dates, my new favourite food.
 
 
Last but certainly not least, we have the meal that Mlle. Deleilan introduced me and her blog-readers to: coconut chickpea curry. She humbly calls it a humble recipe, but really, I think it's grand and fancy. I added tempeh to this one and used frozen spinach instead of raw. This is easily my new favourite meal. Thank you, Deleilan!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Happy, Herbivorous Collage: a Tribute to One Happy Herbivore

Greetings!

I hope you're all doing well. I've been pretty busy this last week, racing to job interviews, working full-time, working out, going to yoga, and watching True Blood with my sister (once you get to know me, you'll learn that time must always be made for vampires). On top of all that, I've got something new to make me busy, and even a bit of money: for those who may not know already, I have been selected to be Montreal's Vegan Food Examiner. I'd been looking around for jobs in my field (hence the job interviews this week), which would include really anything having to do with writing, translating, editing, proofreading, and so on. Potential employers have been asking me, "What is it that you want to do?" and it always struck me as a funny question to ask in a job interview, but it makes sense: why should they go through the trouble of hiring me if their job offers nothing of interest to me? So I answered this question twice this week in a formal setting, and again when I was recounting the stories to loved ones. What do you want? What a loaded question!

Anyway, I haven't come here to bombard you with existential issues; this is a vegan food blog and I have just introduced myself as the Montreal Vegan Food Examiner, so clearly this is not the time nor the place to discuss what I want out of my professional life (other than to eat and talk about food, because clearly that is what Examiner wants me to do. Zing!). But I would truly appreciate if, before I get to the true point of this post, you would skip on over to my page on Examiner.com and subscribe to my articles and mark me as a favourite Examiner. I have some exciting articles in the works, one of which will be an interview with a Montreal restauranteur, coming next week! So please stay tuned, and I am thanking you in advance for your enthusiasm, loyalty, and support. You guys are awesome.

Now, onto this post. Just a few days ago, I finished my recipe testing for Lindsay Nixon, the Happy Herbivore many of us have come to know--even at a vast or not-so-vast geographical distance--and love. (Holy smokes, did you see that she has a recipe for raw vegan ice cream? Yessir!) It was a process that started at the end of 2009 when she invited about a dozen of friends and people with whom she had collaborated on past projects to become her wild chickpeas, that is, her recipe testers. In the month of February, we all completed the last testing phase, submitting lengthy, detailed reviews to Lindsay every Friday like clockwork. We were glad, grateful, and eager to spend the shortest month of the year having our meals and snacks planned by her ingenious culinary mastery. I particularly enjoyed the last week of February, when a handful of recipes turned into set dinner plans for every evening that week. Thanks, Lindsay! We can't wait for your cookbook, and this post is dedicated to you!

Here come the photos :-) (not pictured here are the Smokey Black-Bean Enchiladas that provided the most welcome introduction to Mexican cooking ever.)


Cheezy Broccoli Casserole


Serving of Cheezy Broccoli Casserole: the dark crispy part's the best. This dish was one of a kind. I was sad to share it with my sister, because it was that good.


Comforting and delicately sweet Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins (well, this guy's by his lonesome)


Chana Palak Masala with half a piece of naan: one of the best meals for a cold winter's day


Oil-free Pesto, which I very affectionately call Pesto dell'erbivora felice


Pesto gets a little dressed up with some of Nonna's tomato sauce


Let me pause here: you would think that, "It looks like bacon, smells like bacon, and tastes like bacon" would make this bacon, right? Wrong! This baconized TVP blew this vegan away. The best part about this bacon, though, aside from its taste, is that it fools omnivores! My mum could not believe that this wasn't ground bacon or something like it. It's so tasty that I kept eating it straight out of the pan, even though its final use was for the meal pictured below. Speaking of which...


Lindsay, you're a freakin' genius, thinking to put bacon bits on fettucine alfredo. Freakin' genius!


Yemisir W'et, a delicious, nutritious, and absolutely scrumptious Ethiopian dish, is pictured here served on Markouk bread since injera is pretty hard to find and a little too time-consuming to make.


Pleasant and fun Cheeze Pizza (on chapati)


Cheeze Pizza gets all dressed up. Might I add that these are delicious eaten as sandwich wraps?


Maple Cornmeal Biscuits


These Fruity Granola Bars do not last long in my house: they are the perfect handheld snack and are very healthy, too. But their health qualities go without saying, since Lindsay's specialty is healthy, fat-free cooking.


Lower-calorie Pad Thai: I heart you. You'll figure out to which dish it is compared with regards to its being "lower in calories" when you buy her cookbook. :)


Lower-calorie Pad Thai with baked asparagus and grilled red peppers (veggies made by Momma)

And that's it for now. Lindsay, it was a pleasure testing these recipes for you, and I look forward to collaborating with you again in the future! Congratulations on the cookbook and I wish you all the success you deserve.

And to you, my dear readers, thanks for stopping by. Do check out Lindsay's cookbook when it is released. Check http://www.happyherbivore.com/ for updates.

Have a great weekend,

Vegan in Suburbia