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


graemeghiskhan said...

I find it fitting that I'm sitting here eating my vegan left-overs for lunch while I read this post. Though now I want dessert.

I can attest to saying that everything I ate that was mentioned here, was awesome. (Favorite being the coffee cupcakes.)

Oh, and for the record, crumpets are typically an English food, while the scone are more North England and Scotland. And if you ever told a Scotsman or Englishman that you've made scones or crumpets without butter, you might just find your head being kicked around at the next Manchester United game. That said, I'm sure vegan-style crumpets were great, too. Most North Americans eat them with butter or jam, but hardcore scone and crumpets eaters know there's only one condiment for the job: marmalade.

Thanks for the lunch-time reading :)

Ricki said...

Talk about amazing FOOD!! You certainly have been eating well. ;)

Everything looks so delicious! I think I would actually have preferred the frosting as a glaze on that carrot cake! And so glad you like the brownies and pancakes from Sweet Freedom. Yay!

Your description of Montreal also made me so nostalgic (I was born there and stayed until I was 17). I had completely forgotten about Chenoy's--can't believe it's still there!

Hope the summer goes on indefinitely. . . and welcome back to school in the meantime. :)

Dominic said...

It's absolutely incredible how you have made every dish so appealing and mouth watering. Even a non vegan as myself could see enjoying any of these dishes. And by the way that cake for your birthday was great. Good job. Zio

njosnavelin said...

jeezy creezy lady :O that is a lot of food (it all looks amazing).
That banana cake looks particularly epic @_@

Babette said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your summer beside the fact you were working fll-time. And all that food looks absolutely terrific! I like the Mesa 14 concept where you get to build your own tortilla.

I am a big fan of quinoa, I like it much better than rice. I particularly like it in salads, so maybe you could start there. The chickpea quinoa pilaf is very tasty too.

I bet you if you eat it a couple of times more, you are going to love it. I just love the texture of the grains, and the fact it is so rich in protein.

I missed your blog posts! All those cakes don't look vegan, hehe! Perhaps I should get that Sweet Vegan book!

Hannah said...

I can't believe I missed this post for so long! I'm just thrilled that you enjoyed the cakes and muffin recipes- Your comments totally made my day. Love to get any feedback you have. :)

Kris said...

Oh boy... It's frightening that I have taken exactly two months to respond, and this is without even writing a new post. That's not to say, however, that I didn't smile, laugh, and get warmed by these wonderful, kind, and informative comments of yours. Thank you to each of you!

@graemeghiskahn, I've read and reread your crumpets vs scones information in an attempt to never forget the distinction and how to eat them. I haven't had marmalade in years, either because I decided--gasp!--I didn't like it, or because raspberry jam is too good to abandon. But the next time I make crumpets, I'll be sure not to be sacrilegious. And thank you for your kind words :)

@Ricki, thanks so much for visiting and for your comment! I had no idea you were a native Montrealer. And yes, the Chenoy's is still there and still the cause of both smiles and stomachaches. Sweet Freedom is such a treasure trove of delicious, healthful desserts. I can't wait to discover more of its jewels. Thank you!

@Zio Dominic, it's comments like these that really make my day. It's a gift that I get share what I bake with you and the rest of the family, and I am so grateful that you guys try it out with such an open mind. I always welcome your comments. I love you guys!

@njosnavelin, thank you :) This just reminds me of the overdue nature of our cook-off. When you reach the light at the end of your tunnel, Mel and I will be waiting, with our elastic pants, to bake, bake, and eat! :D

@Babette, I always look forward to your comments, and I admit that I blushed when I read that you missed my posts. I'm disappointed that so much time passes between my posts, and that in that meantime, I haven't even got to visit your beautiful blog. I'm going to have to set aside some time to see what *you've* been up to :) I'm sure it's only great things. As for the quinoa, thanks for giving me some direction. I have tried a bunch of recipes but they always leave me desiring more. Do you have some recipes to recommend? And speaking of Sweet Vegans, there's the author herself who wrote just below you ;) Thanks again for the visit :)

@Hannah, no worries! I can't believe it's taken *me* so long to get back here to respond to all you beautiful people. I'm always happy to make your recipes and share them with the masses :) At this point, feedback comes in the form of your desserts no longer being in existence because they've been consumed--read: inhaled--so quickly. And to think that I am armed with your book and Ricki's while Christmas is just around the corner... Oh boy... ;)