Monday, September 6, 2010

L'été n'est pas encore fini !

Maybe I'm in a bit of denial over the progression of the seasons, but, technically, summer doesn't end until the 21st of September. Despite the abrupt cooling of the weather in the span of two days--in Montreal, it was 30 degrees Celsius or more until two days ago, when the temperature dipped as low as 12 degrees Celsius--, summer remains with us for another two weeks. And if you hear someone yelling, "Come baaack!" to the geese flying south for Winter, know that it's your friendly neighbourhood vegan.

So, hello! How are you? This was my first summer working full-time, and without an inkling of thought of the impending doom of school in September, for the first time in my life; nevertheless, I was out and about more than I ever have been in my life as well. People close to me know that I am more likely to be found at home reading a book on any night, weekday or otherwise, than out on the town. I've never been much of a partier, but this summer, there was a sociable beast in me that needed to be unleashed. The only phenomenon to which I can attribute it is that all of my days spent as a hermit during my years in university piled up alongside unconscious desires to let loose and/or socialize with fellow humans instead of fictional or historical personae in Italian literature. So, my bank account dipped slightly, but my satisfaction with the summer mounted to unprecedented levels. As my best friend quite accurately expressed: "My goal for this summer is to go to work tired every day." And that we did, and it was well worth it. I have to admit that, one no fewer than three occasions, I went to work at nine a.m. after going to bed no earlier than 4 a.m. And yes, I am proud of it!

This summer was the best of my life. And I have my friends and family to thank. So, with a curtsy and a humble bow, I thank you all.

Now, all of this going out and celebrating the beauty of life (*sniff*. Yes. I am a hippie and I smile through the days because life truly is beautiful, and I am grateful for every day I have to discover this funny Earth of ours with my loved ones) had to go hand-in-hand with one of my favourite things ever: food. I didn't bake or cook as much as I dined out--sometimes even at delicatessens at 3 a.m., in the heart of Montreal suburbia; the italics are not for the foreign nature of the word but, rather, they are for emphasis: how on Earth does a vegan eat at a delicatessen? Well, by going with a companion who points out the obvious: potato latkes are vegan, right?

See, I've been going to this one deli called Chenoy's, on St. Jean boulevard in Montreal's West Island, for years, mostly with friends who are craving poutine (see my article on late-night vegan eats for an idea of what Montrealers tend to eat after a night out on the town), and I'd end up ordering fried mushrooms, or nachos sans cheese, bacon, or sour cream (essentially, tortilla chips with salsa). But when I went there after a movie with my date after a failed attempt to grab some falafel pitas at a local Lebanese restaurant, we opted for Chenoy's. I was about to settle on fried mushrooms when he said, "what about latkes?" Gasp! Seriously? I'd always skimmed over that part of menu; it never even occurred to me to inquire about what usually consists of an inherently vegan dish. Potato latkes! Obviously!

So I asked. And we ordered a plate of three. They were humongous, about the size of large burger patty. They were soaked in oil (vegetable oil: I specifically asked about what kind of oil they use), and I promise that my heart and stomach hurt after eating just one (and a few bites of another one); my date confessed that the potato gods were not on his side that night, either. But, alas, delicious food was had at the delicatessen.

Summer heartburn and heartache aside, here are some photos of other delicious summer eats. On a side note, how was your summer? Did you bake or cook anything special? How did you fare at summer BBQs? I'm ever so curious :-)

Thanks again for the visit, enjoy these last precious days of Summer, and don't be alarmed if you hear me yelling "come baaack!"

 Banana Foster Cake, by Hannah Kaminsky, in My Sweet Vegan, by my mum's request for her birthday. It was absolutely scrumptious, and it blew my family away. 
Vegan guacamole at Mesa 14 restaurant with home-made tortilla chips
Part one of DIY fajitas at Mesa 14
So... I made Hannah Kaminsky's Raspberry Carrot Cake with epic sour-cream frosting, but I was way too impatient to wait for the cake to cool down. So frosting soup it was!
I have to admit that I should have let the icing cool and harden in the fridge, but I seriously couldn't wait. This cake blew me away. Maritsa, my best friend, said that it was one of the best cakes I've ever made. Hannah... dude. You are a goddess. My aforementioned date enjoyed it as well, and his favourite dessert is carrot cake. This was an all-around win. And if you are wary of combining raspberries with carrots, do yourself a favour and move past it: it is as divine a combination as chocolate and peanut butter. Mmm...
Strawberry muffins, once again à la Hannah Kaminsky ;-) Hers, in her book My Sweet Vegan, are heart-shaped for Valentine's Day, but I'm not that fancy--yet. On several occasions, I've made a whole bunch of these and frozen half, for grab-and-go snacks for work.
Chickpeas Quinoa Pilaf by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero in Veganomicon. It was really tasty.
This sandwich I came up with on the spot after work, and though I usually don't think my sandwiches merit a photo, I really impressed myself with this one: whole-grain multigrain toast with avocado, fresh tomato slices, Tofurky slices, lettuce, and mayo. Mmm.
As you can see, I was cooking a lot with quinoa as of late. I have a huge bag from Costco and want to try different dishes. Any suggestions are welcome, because I'm not the biggest fan of it, though I know it's really good for you. I despise corn, but for some reason, at the supermarket, I saw the corn on the cob and craved it... and lost the craving not even a day later. But I needed to use the corn, so I tried this Quinoa and Corn Medley from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table. It was decent with gravy poured over it. :-)
Vegan scramble from The Vegan Table
  Chocolate Devastation Cake by Hannah Kaminsky from My Sweet Vegan, made by my mom and aunt by my request demand for my 24th birthday. It was... I... it rendered me speechless. The only way I could express myself, my intense emotions, my euphoria, was by having a second piece.
Mmmm... Coffee custard...
Cappuccino Cupcake filled with Espresso Creme, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I made these for someone dear, and of course I kept myself classy and had two. Yeah, okay, I'm gross. But they were that good.
Vegan shrimp in green curry sauce at Chu Chai
Vegan duck with basil eggplant at Chu Chai. This is my new favourite dish--yes, I actually order this instead of something with peanut butter sauce.
I'd recently invested in crumpet rings when I saw a recipe for crumpets (which I'd never previously had in my life) in Vegan Yumyum by Lauren Ulm. I was craving warm biscuits, ripped open with steam rising from the fluffy insides, with butter melting on the dough. Crumpets seemed to fit the bill, but they're apparently a whole bunch of work to make. But make them I did. Does anyone know, though, how they should be served? I've heard of the clichéed "tea and crumpets", but are crumpets eaten just like that, or with jam and butter? Maybe I broke some rules, but that's how I ate them.
Whole-wheat pizza with eggplant slices, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and Daiya. I love pizza.
One of the best meals I've had in a while: pizza and sweet potato fries.
I recently purchased Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller, and I was delighted to receive it in the mail with a personalized autograph (thank you, Ricki!). These are her Dalmatian Cheesecake Brownies. I modified the recipe slightly because I had two containers of vegan sour cream that were on the verge of expiration, so I made the cheesecake topping with sour cream. It changed the flavour quite a bit, I imagine, but it was delicious, sweet, and luscious. And, true to the nature of the recipes in this book, these brownies were actually mostly healthy. Check out the book here and Ricki's blog here.
Finally, for Labour Day, I wanted to make pancakes, so I made these from Sweet Freedom. They were thick, moist, fluffy, and I filled them with bananas, but they can be filled with berries or other fruits chopped small. They are the healthiest pancakes I've ever made, and they were also among the tastiest. A true vegan win.
Pancake with creme de marron in the foreground, covered in blueberries, pancake with vegan butter and maple syrup, and sweet potatoes pan fried with onions (made by Momma)

And I end with that. :-)

Until next time, yours truly,

Vegan in Suburbia