Friday, October 31, 2008

While I was shopping...

I found a crumpled list in my grocery basket.

When someone finds out I'm vegan I'm still often asked (yes, it's true in this day and age) "what do you eat?" I think I'll save my shopping lists for when someone asks me this. Then I can hand over a list to whoever asks.

This list I found in a Stupidstore basket (Superstore. I go there because Earth Balance is almost 2 dollars cheaper! Also, away from the bustling city there are fewer store options). I think it's a glimpse into a non-vegan world.

What does a non-vegan shop for anyway?

( it is written in blue pen on lined paper and I will try to re-create it as it is listed)

Cheese Block
2 doz eggs
Ivory Soap Bars
Stir fry mix/frozen veggies
4 kleenex
4 K.D.
1 H2O Flat
1 Pancake mix
ice cream
taco kit
3 Bread
Chicken fingers/hotdogs
1 milk
1 mayo
1% milk

I think my favorite part of the list is the 4 kleenex (oh the poor Boreal forest). If you can read the one word I couldn't make out, then let me know. I thought it said Gummy as in gummy bears, but I know that's not right.

Farewell VeganMofo, sushi and Happy Halloween

It's the last day for VeganMofo! It flew by. The last day and I have no dinner plans. db will be out for dinner so what's a vegan girl to do? I'll come up with something. We have a fridge full of leafy greens and all the ingredients to pretty much make anything so I think I'll be fine in coming up with something tasty.

Last night was the end of a day that was a crazy day for both db and I. We had very chaotic work days and needed some chill time.

We took a walk to the pet supply store and on the way there I got to vent about work which was very cathartic. On the way home we took a look at a new sushi place that opened up. db suggested take-out. And that's what we did. We needed an easy night to just sit and watch the Blues.

We also just happened to have some premium sake on hand that we've been wanting to try so it was a good opportunity to have a taste or two or three of that.

These were the yammy rolls with wakame seaweed on top. This was my favorite.

For dessert we finished off the pumpkin pie I had made earlier this week. After having such success with my veggie pot pie, I wanted to make another pastry crust.
I wanted to save the picture for the last VeganMofo day since it is Halloween as well.

Thanks for following the VeganMofo posts. I'll probably do more foodie posts now as a result.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Simple Squash Soup

A few years ago I was at a favorite restaurant in T.O. and picked up their lunch menu to browse. On the back of the brochure was a recipe for one of their soups, Creamy Sweet Potato.
Here is my re-creation of it.
Saute garlic, hot pepper, carrots, celery
Add squash (I used delicata, sugar pumpkin and a little butternut -- this is what I had on hand). Cover with water and cook until soft. Then add coconut milk, and a little salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth and creamy.
Simple and delicious.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Iron Chef Challenge #4

This is really only my second Iron Chef Challenge, but it's the 4th in the VeganMofo series.

The challenge was "stuffing." Stuffing could be interpreted as we wished. When I read the challenge I knew what I had planned for dinner would fit into the "stuffing" category.

What did I stuff?

Corn tortillas couldn't be simpler to make. Just mix masa harina (corn flour), salt and water, then roll, press and cook. Cook them 30 secs on one side, flip and cook for 1 minute on the other side, then flip again and cook for another 30 secs or until they puff up.

I have a tortilla press that makes the pressing process much easier and it's fun to use as well. There are some presses on the market that are...well...flimsy. If you're in the market for a tortilla press make sure it has some weight to it, as in some cast iron weight to it. This also makes the pressing much easier.

db made the red mesa sauce from our new cookbook, rebar modernfood cookbook.
And what did we stuff the tortillas with?

I made my own version of refried beans that consisted of pinto beans, veggie stock, garlic and jalapeno. We added Tofutti sour supreme, guacamole, chopped lettuce, and garden tomato salsa.

I also made some Mexican Millet from Veganomicon to have on the side. Meximillet is one of my favorites from the book. Topped with a little cilantro (there was a little cilantro in just about everything) and it's ready to eat.

There's one stuffed tortilla with all of the ingredients listed above. I later followed it with two more until I was stuffed. The meal turned out to be very delicious. The end result: two stuffed vegans.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Pie?

Yup. Friday we had Shepherdess' Pie. Veganomicon has a Tempeh Shepherdess Pie, but I didn't have tempeh so I combined the Vegan Planet and Veganomicon recipes to make my Shepherdess' Pie. The key ingredient...

Better than Bouillon! This is my plug for the Better than Bouillon. I haven't made my own stock in a while so the Better than Bouillon is great to have on hand. It made a great sauce base for the pie.
db suggested we try it since I was a bit disappointed in the veggie bouillon cubes and powders.

Here's how it looks with my veggie base (carrots & broccoli) for the Shepherdess' Pie. Once in the casserole I added crumbled up Sol veggie burger and ground hazelnuts (hey something locally grown! Actually so are the broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes and garlic).

End result...yummy. Our salad had tomatoes from our garden which was nice.


Today we went to the Gourmet Warehouse. Everyone at work kept telling me I had to go. Since I'm not originally from this part of Canada I don't know about such places and whether they're worth going to. Plus I was a little suspicious of such recommendations from co-workers who think that Wendy's is a good lunch. To each her or his own, right?

I intended to take my camera, but I had no batteries charged so you'll have to use your imagination.

From the outside the storefront is very unassuming. I've gone past that stretch of Hastings St. and never even noticed it (probably because the big white Crappy Tire building looms into view). There's no big showy windows or shiny displays, however, the entrance is marked by a sign and once you enter all the treasures are there.

It has good quality pots, pans, baking dishes, wine glasses, dishes and coffee machines. There are short rows jam packed with spices, hot sauces, rices, pastas, salts, mustards, tea, coffee and everything else. There's a little baking corner with baking chocolates, sugars, extracts, molds, decorating supplies. There is every kind of kitchen utensil invented. I draw the line at onion goggles and asparagus tongs (aren't tongs just tongs?). You get the idea; the selection is very good.

db and I had a good time. I picked up some supplies that I know I can't get near home. We even found organic brown sushi rice.

After picking up the rest of our supplies for tonight's dinner (you'll have to wait and see what it is) at drive Organics we headed home.

Back at home db made us tomato sandwiches (more garden tomatoes) while I made a batch of wheat-free chocolate chip cookies from Veganomicon.

They're chewy and crumbly goodness. The picture doesn't really show the chocolate chips, but they're in there. They kind of melted down in the baking since this is a fairly thin cookie.

I think these cookies might be good with a little soy delicious in between or maybe a little of my own homemade sorbet. I'll have to wait and see.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pot Pie

Who doesn't love pot pie? It could be the ultimate comfort food for me.

After reading Heathen Vegan's magical recipe for Cottage Pie I was inspired to duplicate the recipe. The idea of a layer of potatoes on top seemed like a good idea to avoid having to make a pastry crust. However, once I was in the kitchen and had the Candle Cafe cookbook open I decided to go for it.

Of course I didn't have all of the ingredients listed in the recipe, but just as the Heathen Vegan did I stuck with root veggies and added some tofu since I did have that ingredient.

I was worried about making a gluten free crust and did consult the web only to realize that I'm just subbing one flour for another; there's no secret ingredient needed to make a successful rice flour crust. In food processor I added brown rice flour, grapeseed oil, salt and some rosemary, oregano and basil. I also had to add a little water until I had the right consistency. It rolled out very nicely.

And when I placed it in my 2 qt pot (because I don't have a 1 qt pot as suggested in the recipe) it looked like it might turn out okay.

This was taken before I put it in the oven. The filling was more than the crust could hold, but I just crimped down the edges of the top crust as best I could.

You can see the filling overflowing here, but it turned out delicious. The crust was excellent. The photo seems a little out of focus (that's how my photos often turn out), but that's okay.

I served it with a roast chioggia beet and spinach salad. The idea for this salad came from my latest Canadian Running magazine.

This recipe will be added to the sp what's for dinner roster.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Based on my photos, you might think that all we eat around here is pasta. We do consume a lot of pasta.

The last three nights it has been pasta. Sunday is always pasta night. It's a tradition in db's family and so it is here. He made a tomato sauce from our garden tomatoes and it was simple and delicious. The photo here shows the sauce on my spinach rice pasta.

Last night I made my favorite stir-fry sesame sauce. I don't seem to take too many photos of my own cooking. I don't know why.'s a creamy sauce made with tahini, garlic, sesame oil, tamari and water. I always add a bit of hot sauce to give it a bit of fire. Usually I serve it over rice, but last night I tried soba noodles made from 100% buckwheat. It would seem that the art of cooking 100% buckwheat noodles is something I need to work on. They were fine, but did remain as one clump after I drained the water from the pot.

The veggies were lightly cooked (I like them crunchy). The stir-fry was a mixture of tofu, green peppers, broccoli (locally grown) and dino kale (also locally grown). The colours were all greens, but different shades of green so it was quite beautiful. Next time I'll try to remember to take a photo.

Tonight it was Mushroom Stroganoff from Celebration of Wellness. Yes it was pasta again (corn fusilli pasta). db threw in a little more of that dino kale on top. Very tastey.

Tomorrow I promise not to make pasta. Usually I'm running a lot more, but since the half marathon I've been taking it easy so I think I can go lighter on the carbs.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pina Colada Sushi

Iron Chef Challenge #3

Ingredients: sushi (rice and seaweed).

Dinner and brunch have been the subjects for my VeganMofo. I have yet to post a dessert until now. I don't do a lot of baking or dessert making.

Sushi seemed like it might turn into another meal, but I wanted to do something sweet. I thought about shaping rice pudding to take the form of sushi, tying it off with seaweed, but it didn't click with me.

I consulted my Vegetarian Sushi cookbook to see if there was a dessert sushi. Of course there is dessert sushi.

I happened to have fresh pineapple on hand so I knew it would go well with the rice cooked in coconut milk. Sounds like a Pina Colada to me! I forgot the rum so I guess it's virgin Pina Colada Sushi.

I added chopped crystallized ginger to the rice along with a little lime juice and sugar.

Rum could have been the dipping sauce, but I chose a pomegranate syrup that was left over from another dessert (really, I rarely make desserts). The combination of syrup with the sushi was quite sweet, like a sweet and sour. db and I both preferred the sushi on its own without dipping sauce. The taste was clean, fresh and lightly sweet. Quite nice really.

VeganMofo & Run Vegan Run

Saturday night was pizza night.

I tried a new gluten free all purpose flour blend. It turned out really well. db made the sauce and as you can see I topped it with mushrooms, red and green peppers, some hottish pepper from the garden and an heirloom tomato that I don't know the name of. The end result was very good. This photo was taken before it went in the oven. I don't have an after photo because it didn't turn out so well.


I made my first gluten free loaf of bread! I just discovered Living Without magazine. I noticed the cover because it had beautiful looking loaves of bread. Now that I've tried all vegan varieties of rice bread made I decided I needed to try and make my own to get that homemade crust and rustic feel and taste to bread.

Look at this loaf!

I'm so excited (yes, I'm excited about bread). It was very easy to make and the crust is beautiful. Looks like I'll be making my own bread.

Running Results

The Trail River Run results finally came in and I made top ten! I was tenth amongst the women runners (10 out of 41 of us, but still I'm thrilled). I was 27th overall out of 73 runners total. Even after the disappointment of not being able to run the marathon, this has been a good running year. It's been personal bests all along.

Iron Chef Challenge #3

I'm working on it.

Meanwhile here's a picture of Gigi taken earlier today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is the 160.93 km Vegan Diet Possible?

from Diet for a Small Planet "Lentils Monastery Style"

Something I've been struggling with is my vegan lifestyle and the importance of the environment. Where do these two meet?

Certainly I know, and this has come into the media light recently, that a plant based diet has a less damaging environmental impact than the industrial production of meat (it even sounds less invasive doesn't it?).

"Roughly one-fifth of the world's land is used for grazing. That's twice the area used for growing crops."

"Feedlots cause water pollution. Nearly 21 per cent of the average Canadian's contribution to common water pollution is caused by meat consumption from high-density farms."

My concern for both animals and the planet does come out of an emotional response to seeing animals suffering and seeing the beauty of a town (namely the one I grew up in) destroyed by one company's pulp mill and oil refinery. While my choice to become vegan wasn't for environmental reasons, it does fit with how I try to live my life day to day.

The popularity of the 100 mile diet did make me more aware of where my food was coming from. This had both a positive and negative effect on me. I thought about how far my food was travelling (mostly in kilometers though since I tend to think in kms). Shopping at farmers' markets, as I had been doing, indicated that I was part of a change in our society to be aware of where our food comes from. My receipt for the delivery box of fresh produce charts the kms my food has travelled to reach me. But what about my tofu? My rice? My uh-oh indulgence in avocadoes? What about quinoa? Decaf organic tea? There's nothing local about these. Oh wait, my almond milk?! My daily foods come from all over North America. Who knows how much production and travel went into getting those products to my kitchen cupboards?

Last winter I made a concerted effort to stick with the seaonable foods. Apples, apples, apples and more apples. Lots of apple cider, juice and every variety of apple grown within 200 kms probably went through my kitchen. When the season changed and new fruits became available, the apples were no longer on my list and I've been holding off as long as possible because I know it will be weeks and weeks of apples (I promise to get more creative with them this winter).

100 mile dieters are omnivores and for me I don't see me getting enough in my diet by eating within 160.93 kms from my house.

I guess the questions for me are am I being conscious enough every time I shop and could I make more of an effort to find local sources of foods that will offer a healthy and varied vegan diet?

The pears are finishing and apple season is upon us. This weekend is the apple festival at UBC.
I don't think I'll be going (mainly because it's a long bus and skytrain hike from whoville to UBC.) but I will hopefully make another trip to the farmers' market to find out what's in season.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I've discovered that there's an Iron Chef challenge going on during VeganMofo. Although I've missed two challenges, I'm hoping to try the next one.

Coincidentally, the last challenge used pears and nuts as the ingredients. On the weekend (Thanksgiving Monday) I made jasmine tea poached pears with a pomegranate sauce. If I'd known about the challenge I would have added some local toasted hazelnuts.

Monday, October 13, 2008

More Victoria and More Food

Victoria is a beautiful city. With the sunny weather, all those runners in town and what seemed to be a cruise ship docked it was also a busy city on the long weekend.

After the run and after we packed up and checked out of our hotel, db, my step-dad and I stepped into rebar for lunch. During the running expo db and I had stopped at the Russell books stand to flip through the many books on running. While I didn't find a running book, db did find a cookbook. The woman working the stall informed us of the popularity of the book and that it is a restaurant in town. We bought the book and decided we needed to eat there. It's not entirely vegan, but it is vegetarian.
Once I saw it I remembered being there when I lived in Victoria, I just didn't frequent it so it wasn't too familiar. The restaurant steps down just below street level and is set up for both dining and sipping juice at the bar.

Healthy food and runners will find each other so it was no surprise to me that there was a line-up at the door. We didn't have to wait too long though and once we were seated we were waited on promptly. Drinks came (I ordered an apple, pear, banana soy smoothie) and we ordered lunch.

Here's my lunch

Beneath the veggies and cashews lay a bed of buckwheat soba noodles in a tamari/sesame sauce.

Here's what my step-dad ordered

We'd already dug into our lunches before I remembered pictures and that's why there's a bite out of his burger. It's an almond burger (if I remember correctly). It looked very good and that was the verdict by my step-dad as well.

db orderedHmm...looks a lot like the brunch I make on the weekends. He knows what he likes. His scrambled tofu did have more of a greek theme to it so I may want to try duplicating this. I did notice a recipe for it in their cookbook so I'll have to try it.

After lunch/brunch we wandered around stopping in at shops that interested us.

It was a pretty relaxing day.

db and I said good-bye to my step-dad and we headed our separate ways. We had a ferry to catch.

While waiting for our ferry, I could see one of the new faster ferries docked and wondered why they weren't running that one? Maybe this is part of the service cuts they announced earlier this month? Or maybe it's because they've decided to use smaller ferries during the slower periods and since it was a long weekend they deemed the ferry to be too big for a busy long weekend (I'm being sarcastic in case you didn't know).

Anyway, we took a smaller ferry. It was full, but not overcrowded. There were lots of runners, but I'm not a very social runner so I didn't talk to any about their experience of the run. Plus I felt a little guilty in my marathon shirt when in the end I didn't even run it.

Back at home the girls were happy to see us. The cat sitter left some photos she'd taken of Gigi and Prima and a nice note about her visit with them. The two cats ran up and down the hallway clearly excited to see us. It was a nice welcome home.

Comfort food and Run Vegans Run

The VeganMofo continues...

Friday was a busy day. I worked a half-day, did some blog visiting and writing, cleaned the apartment (cat sitter would be coming in and it really needed it anyway), packed, made copies of all the receipts (hotel, race registration, cat sitter invoice etc etc), and google mapped our destinations.

I had to whip up something quick and tasty. I went for the comfort food that would take little time and have me sitting down to watch the Blues as soon as possible.

Here we have garlic mashed potatoes, steamed kale, and glazed tofu. Not seen in the photograph is the mushroom gravy.

Someone at work asked me if I was having a Tofurky on Monday (Monday being Thanksgiving). I was surprised that they knew a Tofurky existed. Alas no I won't be having Tofurky since it's made with wheat gluten. My Tofurky days are over. We do have a yummy meal planned though, but I'll save that for another day of blogging.

What do two vegans do on a long October weekend (remember that one of them is Italian)? They buy grapes of course!

Before going to catch our ferry we picked up 6 cases of Zinfandel grapes. We'll be crushing them today. No doubt there will be photos that probably resemble photos I took last year.

Pre-race day!

We arrived in Victoria, picked up our race kits and booked into the hotel. I was a little sad when I had to trade in my marathon race number for a half marathon race number. I got a little teary and then let it go. I knew I couldn't do the full distance.

food for thought

Being in Victoria felt a bit like going home since I really loved living there. For me going home often feels familiar and yet somehow different. I felt connected and yet still apart from it. I can't quite reach the same comfort zone that I once had. Once I leave a place for a long time it's never quite the same when I go back. It's as if I've betrayed that place. This is where the nostalgia comes in because even when I'm back in that place, I still feel nostalgic for the place it once was.

food for us

We needed a few supplies for our dinner: some lettuce, a pepper and some dressing. Lifestyle markets was a dream come true when I moved to Victoria in the 90s. For a veg and then vegan I thought I'd hit the jackpot and I had.

db and I had a great time there picking up our supplies and then of course found all sorts of other foods to try out.

Back at the hotel, db made our corn pasta and bolognese. I tossed the salad together and we had a delicious pre-race meal.

Sunday and Race Day!

Too early in the morning I made my rice bread toast and had some decaf tea. We dressed and drove downtown in the dark to find a parking spot.

It was light out by the time the gun went for our 7:30 start-time. We were off and running. The weather was perfect: cool, partly cloudy and no wind. db and I ran together for a bit. There were over 5,000 half marathon runners (10, 400 runners total for a marathon, half marathon and 8 k). It was packed! I loved it. db and I split around the four or five k mark and went our separate paces.

What I love about the busy, almost elbow-to-elbow run is that you're swept along with everyone. I find I think about my running less since I'm so aware of so many people and needed to move around or past them.

At the turnaround point I wondered if I'd see db and I did. We high-fived as we passed each other and I knew by my watch if I kept my pace I'd be running in around 1:50 or so.

The marathoners started an hour after us and just before I hit the last 4 k I saw the first elite marathoners fly by me. It was pretty exciting. I cheered them on.

I had no calf pain and pushed aside any negative thoughts my mind tried to send my way. After the last hill I knew if I kept my pace I'd be fine. I started to see those people who flew past me earlier; they were fading. And then there were others who found that extra push and kicked it into gear, passed me.

The last km always feels like 3 k for some reason (the fatigue, the excitement of reaching the finish line) but I pushed that thought out of my mind as well. I could see the finish and I was in the chute. I tried to go in between two other people, but ended up getting wedge between them and couldn't pass through. I heard the announcer call my name and where I was from. I saw the clock at 1:52. I crossed the line wedge in between the other two (more or less). I stopped my watch at 1:51 and that was my official chip time! A personal best! I took 3 minutes off my time from just two weeks ago which was a pb. I am thrilled!

The race director shook my hand and thanked me for "coming over" (from the mainland) which I thought was cool that he was able to hear and remember what the announcer said. I was funnelled through the chip removal area, the space blanket area and into the food area where I waited a bit for db. I missed him crossing the line in 2:04! A p.b. for him as well! We love Victoria!


My step-dad drove down from Nanaimo and we met up with him after the race.

Later I'll post more on our day in Victoria and the food we ate there. Plus, maybe some grape crushing photos and possibly some cooking photos.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This came to me via Wandering Coyote. I'm not going to tag anyone either, but let me know if you do this and I'll check it out.

A) Answer the questions below, do a Google Image search with your answer, take a picture from the first page of results, and do it with minimal words of explanation.

B) Tag 5 other people to do the same once you’ve finished answering every question.

1. Age you’ll be on your next birthday

2. A place you want to travel to
3. Your favorite place
4. Your favorite food
5. Your favorite pet (okay I put both of their names in and both of my own photos came up on the first page. Whew! That means one wasn't singled out)

6. Your favorite color combination

7. Your favorite piece of clothing

8. Your favorite TV show

9. First name of your Significant Other

10. The town in which you live

11. Your first job

12. Your dream job
13. A bad habit you have

14. Your worst fear

15. What you’d like to do before you die