Sunday, January 31, 2010

My first month as a university grad resulted in...

... lots of reading, cooking, and job-searching, but apparently I haven't been blogging enough. My conclusion is the following: I need to either blog more or cook less, because I am left with an impressive amount of photographs of food, yet I fear leaving you all with an onslaught of pictures. I hope you'll bear with me and enjoy the food porn, as well as the requisite silly photos of myself and loved ones accompanying said food porn.

So what has happened in the past month? Well, I attempted a recovery from holiday overindulgence, first. I did not bake for a good two weeks, not because I didn't want to but because I actually couldn't bring myself to: I had no desire to eat sweets (sacrilege!). Also, just before the holidays began, I started a 30-day ReNew Life Digestive Cleanse to help keep me somewhat on track, physically, during the holidays, and I finished it mid-January. That's around when I got my desire to bake back. (Did you notice the absence, aside from the cinnamon rolls, of baked goods in my previous blog post?)

Mid-January--the 15th, to be exact--is when Matt and I started dating three years ago. To celebrate our anniversary, we went to our favourite vegan restaurant in Montreal, Aux Vivres, and ordered all of our favourites, including one dessert each; no, no, we are by no means one of those cutesy couples who shares a single dessert. We are vegan beasts who have the primal urge to devour entire pieces of cake that we encounter along our path, sharing with no one. Want proof?

This is my angry beast face. You'll notice that in the bottom left corner there is Matt's piece of cake that I didn't want. (It's nowhere near me.) Meanwhile, below is the source of my rage:

That's mine! And he's eating it! Growwwwllll... But it's very easy to appease the beast:

Give her her friggin chipotle brownie!

Yes, Matt did take a few more bites (I do have one or two generous bones in me when it comes to dessert), but the rest was mine, all mine! Other notable dishes from Aux Vivres are below, but you'll have to excuse my bad habit of taking photos of food only when they're half or two-thirds eaten. 

Here's a pretty big mess on Matt's plate, with chili cheese fries in the foregound and the last chapati with veggie butter in the wooden bowl.

My glorious Mekong in a chapati. This bugger is so big that I eat only half for my meal and the other half gets to come home with me to face its fate later. That's a big slab of grilled tofu in the middle, with lettuce (sometimes a bit too much), daikon, carrots, and beautiful sauce, though they skimped on it a little this time.

I know, I know: tea with meals is naughty because it reduces absorption of minerals, but I couldn't resist trying the yerba maté. In the background, you can behold half of Matt's sandwich, which is veggie pâté with sprouts, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and veggie mayo (I believe--I've never had it).

Matt's dessert, which I admit is absolutely delicious, but I prefer the chipotle brownie to it, so that's why I leave this gooey, creamy chocolate decadence to him. This is banana-chocolate pie, by the way.

The vegan attacks!!!!!!!!!!!

A vegan in her natural habitat before pouncing...


So that was it for our anniversary dinner. We spent the rest of the evening watching True Blood episodes because I just recently got into it after a fabulous friend of ours, one Marc, gave us the Sookie Stackhouse series, upon which True Blood is based, by Charlaine Harris for Christmas. I have only 100 pages left in book four!

Other than our anniversary dinner, I've been living the life of a, how should I say it politely--let's say I've been working only on weekends, and cooking, working out, hanging out with friends, and reading at home in my pyjamas during the week. Yes, this is what has become of my life as a non-student. I've been applying for writing, proofreading, and translation jobs left and right but I have yet to hear a response. But I'll spare you all the whining and just show you the rest of my culinary adventures. I will be posting again soon because I have ten recipes or so to test for the lovely and talented Happy Herbivore, so please stay tuned, and thanks for sticking around.


Bryanna Clark Grogan's recipe for pizza dough (for which I upped the whole-wheat content just a tad) from Nonna's Italian Kitchen, with my own toppings: arugula, broccoli, orange bell peppers, a bit of tomato sauce, olive oil, and my best friend, Daiya.

I can't tell whether he's posing for the photo or guarding the pizza....

This is a dish that will be in Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook. It's for something based on a meal called chicken and dumplings that I'd never heard of before. Frankly, I don't care what the original tastes like, because this is one of the greatest and creative meals I've ever had. Thank you, Lindsay!

Here's a nice close-up, but I apologize for the ominous shadows that lurk in the bottom left corners of some of my photos. I clearly am not a photographer (but will accept any advice I can get).

A pakora from Pushap and Happy Herbivore's Moong Dal, for her upcoming cookbook. When you make this, don't be surprised when family members, friends, and neighbours appear in your kitchen: this meal offers an enticing aroma.

The salad that accompanied the moong dal and the pakora, drizzled with vegan butter from Aux Vivres (every time we go, we stock up and put it on, well, pretty much everything)

Another genius recipe by Happy Herbivore for the cookbook: Egg-Nog French Toast. This is serious stuff.

Kale replaces spinach effortlessly in spanakopita. This recipe by Robin Roberston is really easy to make, and it's delicious. I added some Cheezly that was in my fridge to the tofu mix, and it offered just a touch of melty goodness. This is great for making on a Sunday afternoon so that it stands in as a quick meal for the rest of the week.

This recipe from Vegetarian Times arrived in my inbox serendipitously the day I was wondering what to do with the Brussel sprouts in my fridge, which were slowly floating towards the light. Like the spanakopita above, this is another easy dish to prepare at the beginning of the week for later meals.

And might I say that they go very well together?

Vegan Dad seems to like Brussel sprouts, too, so I used the rest of the my excess Brussel sprouts in his fabulous, hearty, comforting, and warm Roasted Vegetable Ragout. I served it atop whole-wheat penne.

My first-ever batch of snickerdoodles :) (How can you not smile when you say that word?) This recipe is by Lauren Ulm, the lovely lady behind Vegan YumYum. I was delighted by the taste of these cookies and I absolutely will make them again. 

Vegetable Ragout served atop whole-wheat penne. But watch out! A Wonky Tonk lurks!

Ok, stop what you're doing. No, no, I'm serious. Take your hand off the mouse--wait, no. Click here. Then, go to your kitchen and get out all of the ingredients. Preheat your oven, and please, just make yourself this batch of brownies. Fran Costigan is the mage behind this recipe, and I think I have to say that this is the best brownie recipe I have ever tried. It's exactly as I would have my brownie: moist and fudgy. I'm not a fan of brownies that taste more like cake than what I just described. Feel free to send more recipes my way to challenge this one--who am I to refuse brownies?! Plus, you don't even have to feel guilty when you eat this. Just take a gander at the ingredient list and you'll see exactly why. Heck, just behold the photo below and guilt might not even cross your mind.

See? Pure decadence. Also, these refrigerate wonderfully, as she indicates in the recipe. I always confuse prunes with dates, so I made date purée for this even though it called for prunes, and I wouldn't have it any other way. One last thing: the ganache can absolutely be omitted since these are very rich... but I wouldn't recommend it ;)

And because I can't leave well enough alone, I insisted that my sister take a photo of me smothering chocolate on my lips. For the record, I totally had one brownie a day for four days straight. No joke.

And in an attempt to finish somewhat elegantly, here is the sunrise at my bedroom window one morning. Perhaps it is symbolic to end this post that relates a bit about my confusion and fright at starting the year and my life as a university graduate with a clean slate. Let us see what the new year brings. For now, I will enjoy the present.

Lots of love, and thanks for reading,

Vegan in Suburbia

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Holiday Aftermath: A (Mostly-Photographic) Story of Survival through Good Times

Greetings, and Happy Sunday to all.

I'm literally and figuratively chilling at work (this is what I do at work when I am not reading, studying, checking out food blogs, or wasting time on Facebook or Twitter... or working! How could I forget about work?), freezing off my behind--make that my hands, because my behind is pretty comfy and warm on this office chair. But it's freaking cold! It seems the landlord of the building turns off or lowers the heat on the weekend in order to save cash electricity (and rightly so!), but what this person might forget is that there are still some people who use the office building on the weekend, and they freeze. Currently I am wearing... a thin, long-sleeved t-shirt on which the words I (heart) Vegans are inscribed, a thick, long-sleeved sweater, a red American Apparel sweater, pants (I hope) and two pairs of socks. Brrrrrr...

But complaining is probably not the best way to welcome you to delve into my blog.

So how about a grand ol' HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! to you all? (Is that big and bold enough?) I hope you all had a safe, joyous, healthy, and painless holiday season. It's been "back to reality" for over a week now, and it looks like we made it, no? We go back to work or school and we look around to see countless others who probably don't want to be exactly where they are, but we take comfort in knowing that we are not alone. Blessed are we, that we support each other in such a way! But "back to reality" has been a strange, somewhat disconcerting, and confusing exercise for me, as I didn't have any job to go back to (I'm a part-time, mostly weekend worker), no classes to attend, and no assignments to submit. Hmm. I've been done school for three weeks now, and I must say it feels pretty good, but it's also... daunting. What happens next? It's a confusing time for me, but while I sort through options, start networking for job opportunities, read books I've been meaning to read, I'll spare you all the details until I come to a definitive conclusion. Instead, in the aftermath of the holidays, in the beginning of this new year which I deem to be a fantastic one (I can taste it!), here are some photos of the baking and cooking I have done over the past little while. I warn that I have not baked a single dessert since New Year's because, after all the holiday decadence, I have nary a desire to eat sweets (it's true!). But my sweet tooth will return.

Enjoy :)

Vegan YumYum's Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce on rice fettucine: it came out a little yellower than what the photo attests, but it is absolutely delicious. (Scroll to the end of the blog to see just how delicious it was: I made it again last night!) I served this to my dinner guests on New Year's Eve. Since it was too yellow, though, I added some vegan creme that I had on hand. When I replicated the recipe last night, I put creme again and reduced the amount of butter to one tablespoon. Dee-LISH!

This is what happens when you are naughty little vegan and don't remove your utensils from your plate prior to being served (the naughty vegan in question is my fiancé).

My fabulous dinner guests (my plate is in the foregound)

Me and my best bud

Vegan Dad's Cheesy Polenta Cups with Shredded Zucchini, topped with Italian-style Daiya cheese and a sprig of parsley, for a touch of class. These were the appetizers to our meal.

Bijou the Dog, sleeping like a person on her couch

Breaded Chicky Seitan, part of a recipe tested for Happy Herbivore's upcoming cookbook

Happy Herbivore's Marinara Sauce (with zucchini added by me) atop chicky seitan form vegan chicken parmesan. Mmm...

My meal of chicky vegan parmesan, whole-grain baguette, and Momma's rapini (with hot peppers, added by me because I like things spicy!)

Creamy Creole Eggplant Casserole, ridiculously (and deliciously) modified by me, for lack of ingredients: I replaced the chickpeas with leftover potatoes, tofu with vegan mayo, and green pepper with red pepper. And I made half the recipe because I had only one eggplant on hand.

Okay, okay! I know it's not food, but... These are my new shoes! Aren't they hideously beautiful?! I have to wait until Winter is over to wear them but, holy moly, they are plaid!

Last night's glorious dinner: Vegan YumYum's alfredo on rotini served atop steamed broccoli, and Momma made the breaded artichoke, her classic recipe. She used the Italian-style bread crumbs I prepared for Happy Herbivore's chicky parmesan recipe.

Artichoke heaven. Really.

And finally (I almost forgot!)...
VEGAN POUTINE!!!!!!!!! All credit goes to Brigit Gaia from for this recipe, and to Cheezly (buy it now! It's reduced in price by almost three dollars!) for existing and making vegan cheese curds possible. And I do venture to give some credit to evil St. Hubert restaurants: they make a naturally vegan powdered gravy ("brown sauce" or "sauce brune," in French) sold in Quebec grocery stores. But Brigit made me and Matt some of the happiest vegans around. Who knew that vegan poutine was not an oxymoron: it exists.

No words... just... no words.

Okay, so it's definitely not the most appetizing thing to behold, especially when you think of the artery-clogging animal-fat-laden original, but this is darn good.

An ecstatic vegan. If you look closely, you will see that there is cauliflower in my plate. I put it there so I would feel less guilty about eating poutine (which I have not eaten since I went vegan more than six years ago). I will have you note that I did not in fact touch the cauliflower; in fact, I dumped it back into the container from which I took it. Poutine WINS!

Oh, and I made cinnamon rolls :) The recipe can be found in Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I made these babies whole-wheat, because that's just how I roll (pun not intended but celebrated).

That's it for now :) I will blog soon because I have a whole stack of Happy Herbivore recipes to test out, and I assume that I'll be wanting to bake sometime in the next week or so.

Have a great week, and all the best to you all in 2010.

Vegan in Suburbia