Sunday, September 27, 2009

Welcoming myself back with a timbale

Check out my hip pyjama pants! This is kitchen attire at its best: work on the top, relaxation at the bottom.


Hello, hello...

Yes, I have been absent for a year. No, I have not been missed by a soul.

After my last post, just over two weeks after my return from Italy, I simply got caught up in the whirlwind that is life, and the only time allotted for me to write was when I had to compose essays. So, Vegan in Suburbia fell to the wayside, even while this Vegan in Suburbia kept as busy as ever.

Last night, my sister, Jess, and my fiancĂ©, Matt, devoured one of my latest kitchen creations. Before doing so, we snapped a bunch of photos as we are wont to do when I cook something new—even if it doesn’t look the least bit appetizing (never judge a book by its cover, right?).
Once we sat down to eat, they suggested that I start up my blog again, uploading my photos there instead of on Facebook (there’s this fear—please tell me if there is reason to be fearful—that “once you post your photos on Facebook, ‘they’ own them”).

Anyway, who knows how long this will last, but even if I find myself without the time to update this blog in words, I’d like to regale you at least with photographic evidence of the products of time spent cooking or baking instead of studying; I plan on posting photos of the culinary masterpieces of others, whether they be in a friend’s or family member’s kitchen or served up in a restaurant. This also can be a new place to document my successes (and failures—why hide them?), and rant every so often about veganism. Sound good? All right. Here goes nothing.

Enjoy, and I thank you, in advance, for visiting. (Pictures and explanations of them follow.)

Wishing you peace, love, and good vegan food,

Vegan in Suburbia


A couple of months ago, my mum left The Food Network on the television while I sat in the kitchen doing who-knows-what; for those of you who know me and the Vani family, most of anything that's worth doing happens in the kitchen: baking, studying, cooking, yelling, socializing, sleeping (I’ve been known to fall asleep on school books on the kitchen table). Anyway, Giada De Laurentiis was cooking away on TV. I tend to block out much of what’s on cooking shows because the meals on display usually involve obscene amounts of animal flesh, not to mention cream and butter—yep, all kinds of mammary secretions from our farm friends. This time, however, what she was making really caught my attention, not for what it contained but simply for the originality of it: Giada was making an Italian dish called a timbale.

Despite my Italian heritage, I had never heard of such a dish, nor had I ever seen anything remotely like it. Timbale, from the French word timbale, meaning “kettledrum,” gets its name from its shape. It can be stuffed with, well, anything you want, really, but Giada used a recipe that used two types of meat, two types of cheese, and peas, which I abhor. The reason I am inclined to call this a pie is because the eggplant would compose the outer layer, but it is by no means a pie (I make sense, eh?). You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Visit or just scroll down to see my photos.

After months of keeping this at the back of my head for a special occasion, I decided to give it a whirl yesterday evening, as my mum was already planning on grilling the three eggplants we had in the fridge (as much as I love to cook, I have a strong dislike toward grilling eggplant, simply because it takes long and, dare I say, everything my mum makes tastes better—it’s the Mom Touch, right?). My grandparents were coming over for dinner, Matt was on his way, and my sister will basically eat anything I serve, provided it’s not pumpkin pie.

So I went to the source on the Food Network website. I swapped the meats for herbed tofu and two Yves veggie patties; mozzarella and parmesan cheese became Galaxy Vegan cheese and some generous shakes of Galaxy Vegan parmesan; peas were omitted altogether because I can’t stand them; a bunch of spinach was added, along with sun-dried tomatoes, because, if I had my way, sun-dried tomatoes would be in everything. That's basically it.

On the recipe's web site, it says that the level of difficulty for this recipe is "difficult," but that is complete nonsense. It takes patience and care, but it is a quick and fun recipe. And you know what the best part is other than its glorious mixture of tastes and textures? Knowing that you can eat it with a clear conscience, for health and ethical reasons: after all, it's not oozing with dairy cheeses and or spilling over with cholesterol- and hormone-laden meat. Success! (Oh, and I used rice pasta for this dish. More success!) Finally, my Italian grandparents, who accept my veganism and make me vegan dishes all the time yet who still might be skeptical of vegan food, loved this. That is ultimate success.


Vegan in Suburbia

This thing was heavy! Flipping it was a family affair, suggestions coming from left and right as I attempted this. Oh, and I was impatient, so I tried manipulating this thing with oven mitts. Not a smart idea, by the way, but I managed.

The aerial view allows you to see how the timbale is not centred on the plate. This made it a lot of fun to cut.

The ooey gooey insides of my pretty! (above and below)

On a serving plate. It's kinda messy to serve, but it still looks great.


g44r4 said...

nom nom nom nom nom

Sara said...

Mmmmm, Christina, this looks awesome... I already have variations in my head that i want to try, involving Portobellos...

njosnavelin said...

That looks very yummy :)
I had no idea you hated peas (not that I ever intended to inflict peas upon you) :P
Did you use the Tinkyada rice pasta (tis a tasty one)?