Thursday, October 20, 2011

Floating between Summer and Autumn; floating between two homes

1:25 a.m., Thursday morning

Well, if I'm up this late and I'm not even remotely close to doing any schoolwork, I might as well be productive in some capacity, right?

Greetings, dear friends. I hope you're all adapting well to the transition from Summer to Autumn. As I sit at my desk listening to Our Lady Peace and the howling wind trying to steal the attention from the comforting murmur of the falling rain, I'm strangely at peace. I am fully aware of the workload that awaits me tomorrow, a workload I'd intended on tackling with gentle but effective strikes of a tiny pick-ax this very evening. My plans were side-tracked, I admit, by a simple desire: brownies. After biking home in the pouring rain, dousing myself in steaming shower water, telephoning my grandparents in Ottawa, making dinner, chatting with my roomie (who questioned my sanity when, as I flipped through a cookbook, I uttered the nonsensical, "I want to make cupcakes.... I want everything"), eating said dinner, taking part in a discussion on Facebook, checking e-mail--after all of that, all I could think about was how pleasing it would be to bite into a gooey, rich, decadent brownie.

So, I got to work--rather, I got to baking. A domani, schoolwork; buongiorno running in the rain tomorrow morning. Oy. I came up with a strange, admittedly flawed philosophy: in order to defeat brownie-induced guilt (who am I kidding? Do I feel guilt when indulging in sweets? Do leopards have stripes?), I opted to bake the brownies in a circular cake pan. Thus, when cutting the brownies into their quintessential squares, I'd need to, ahem, discard the remaining crescent moon shapes around the edges of the circle, right? And by discard, I do mean eat. Order is restored in brownie utopia; guilt is nonexistent. Hooray!

Procrastinating shenanigans aside, a short update is in order (I promise it'll be short). Since my last post and before school became really intense, I did my very best to take in the activities that this splendid city had to offer in the waning summer. I went to see The Shins at their sold-out show; I attended a vegan bonfire with members of the Toronto Vegetarian Association; I saw two poetry slams hosted by the Toronto Poetry Slam; I went to a pub with fellow Italian Studies classmates; I ate vegan poutine at Poutini; I got lost on several occasions trying to bike around Queen's Park instead of across it; I connected with a dear cousin over fabulous Indian food at Curry Twist; I ate an obscene amount of vegan sweets at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival and saw the world premiere of the film Vegucated (go see it!).

I also went to class and read several books amongst all of these activities, and I even made it back to Montreal for Thanksgiving.

For Canadian Thanksgiving, I returned to Montreal for the first time since my move to Toronto. It was absolutely lovely to be amongst family. I took the 12:30 a.m. Megabus back home so that I could have the entire day to hang out with my mum and best friend and even get some reading done. Instead, what does this genius do? Sleep. I slept from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Really? Six hours? Way to go, Christina. I don't ever sleep during the day. My best friend was so baffled that she contemplated calling my mum in order to ask her to check up on me (which my mum did do, several times, since both of my grandmothers called, as well as my aunt and cousin. Woops!).

It truly was a special weekend. It was a new, interesting experience to return to Montreal as a visitor and not as a resident. It was touching to receive such warm and welcoming greetings from loved ones. I was spoiled by more hugs than I can count; precious time catching up over cups of tea; a vegan dessert made by my dear cousin; a gourmet vegan meal in wonderful company at ChuChai preceded by drinks and followed by a long, silly, beautiful walk in downtown Montreal; laughter and memories shared over Thanksgiving dinner after arriving home at four a.m. and baking Thanksgiving dishes 'til 7:30 a.m. Never for a second do I forget how blessed I am to be surrounded by the beauty and shining light of the extraordinary souls in my life. Even when I am miles away in the urban wilderness that I now call home, I am constantly enveloped by the love and warmth of the dear ones in my life.

I'm done gushing for now. Here's some food and here are some friends, in no particular order.

Hemp-apple cappuccino muffins. I replaced all of the liquid in this recipe with cappuccino soymilk. I strongly recommend that you try this; you will not be disappointed.

Fabulous cast, crew, and vegan NHL player Mike Zigomanis answering questions from the audience following the premiere screening of the brilliant, informative, moving, and funny documentary Vegucated

Me and dear fellow veggie @alxhybridus at the Vegetarian Food Festival

Che bella città... <3

Veggie snacks, and this is after I'd already consumed a cookie and a date square

And a cupcake

And a Mile-High Brownie (consisting of a brownie topped with icing topped with marshmallow topped with a piece of brownie topped with fudge. It's the Matryoshka doll of brownies, made by KindFood)

Eager to attack my Thanksgiving plate

Evidence of my (failed) brownie theory of this evening

A fabulous and visually appealing meal prepared by my roomie/brother

In case you haven't noticed, I know no limit when it comes to dessert. This is berry crumble, apple crumble, and vanilla soy ice cream.

Nonna's layered baked zucchini delight

My mum's famous vegan stuffing. Omnomnom (if attacking fingers could talk)!

My Thanksgiving plate, with the requisite mashed-potato-and-gravy volcano (I'm eight years old)

To the left is my veggie soulmate; to the right is her soulmate, my cousin, who visited in September. Here we're dining at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown.

Pad thai, I love you (even though this didn't even come close in terms of delight to the pad thai I've had in Montreal). Toronto, show me delicious pad thai!

Carrot-cake pancakes. Dude. Dude.

Home-made pad thai, accompanied by a bit of wine and a bit of textbook

Dandelion greens <3

This is probably one of the tastiest meals I've made for myself in Toronto, and it was one of the simplest: baked sweet potato fries and a veggie burger in fresh-baked ciabatta bread from Fresh Farms down the street. The bread was so fresh that, in a classy manner, I ripped off the butt of the bread and chowed down while walking home from the store.

Mommy baked me a maple cake! It was ridiculously tasty. Thank you, Mommacakes!

To the left: sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Marshmallows! These are Sweet and Sara beauties. Inspiration for the dish comes from the show Chuck, specifically from the Thanksgiving episode in which Ellie makes the dish for Morgan and, as a result, makes his then-girlfriend, Anna, jealous.

That's 6:36 a.m., my friends. I was so tired by the end of my cooking spree that I felt intoxicated. Haha. In case you're wondering, the reason why I baked when I arrived home at 4 a.m. was to have the kitchen liberated for my mum to cook on Thanksgiving day. You know the adage: there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

Tofurky <3

Until next time,

Vegan in Suburbia