Thursday, August 30, 2007

....Written on Thursday and posted on Thursday....a week to prioritize....

Great days and wonderful nights

Tonight capped off the seventh night in a row that I ordered red wine through osmosis...but I think eventually I am going to have to do it for myself.

Despite the warmth of the wine in my mouth I was inclined, for the sake of self-respect and other such limiting emotions to leave 2/3 of the glass on the table, opting to stumble across the street in order to respectfully fill my empty belly on Lebanese delights.

I have to say that Chatelaine du Liban was one of the most wonderful meals I have had since arriving in Brussels. I am not sure if it was the flavour of nostalgia floating around in my falafelled and hummosed mouth, or if it was the amazing company, or if it was the really tight t-shirt of the waitress, but I had an amazing time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

When I was a kid mom and Rick would pile us into the light blue Taurus and wheel us off to visit Anne and Steve - a rather interesting, no-longer-together, couple of "I love 1975" cats. They had this really neat shack of a place on the grounds of a Southern Ontario "no man's land" flea market: Circle M. I remember talk of the big and fancy Aberfoyle Market that was up the hill and around the bend, rumours told tales that you had more choice in the chest of drawers department, but there was no old man handing out suckers with your parking tickets. So, I always thought, why bother? Circle M is good enough for me.
Through visits such as these (and her endless collection of Cottage Life) my mom fostered in me an appreciation for older things. I learned early on that a true Victorian styled house would have a butler's pantry, and that a Harvest Table was a much cooler kitchen addition than any of those marble-top islands people were installing. I think, much to my mom's horror, this aesthetic appreciation for aged elements of culture, transferred itself into my wardrobe. As a 16 year old girl I was pulling apart bins at Value Village and finding total puppy love in a discarded hand bag. Many dollars have been spent on wrap skirts left over from a dead woman's estate sale. I was nervous that taking this hop into Brussels would make my retro needs more difficult to satisfy. But, no, yesterday...oh, yesterday, with your sunshine and dog poop filled streets - was the mother-load.

I started the day, exhausted from a too late night on Friday, with a metro ride to Porte de Hal, where I met Tori, Megan and Chelsey (and a really bulbous woman who had four dogs - one, who I didn't know was Russells' double, came over in pure russ-diddy styles and leaned on me with total shake-leg.) and we walked right into the most expansive, eclectic and interesting Flea Market I have ever seen. Granted, there was a sharply felt absence of old Stevie Wonder albums, and no one seemed to be trying to sell off any piles of Cabbage Patch kids, but, wow, there was everything else you could ever imagine.

The most interesting aspect of this market, with its bikes, jewels, jackets, bags of garbage, and suitcases full of matches, was the bizarre 'horned animal' theme that we detected quite early in the walk through. No kidding. We found voluminous demonstrations of hoofed animals - some recast in the role of room light, some (with 6 legs) mounted and waiting for a fireplace to call home, some etched into necklaces, others as the heads of lighters and still more in almost 'whole' form looking for the dioramas they escaped from.

I left with some glass clip on earrings, a pair of mary janes and the smell of my grandmother all around me.

From here we went to the LatinoFestival. It was amazing. In addition, to watching the parade of smiling and occasionally salsa-walking folks, endless varieties of food, some really good tea and some of the best 'girl time' I have had in ages - we also found a really amazing street that offers up two fantastic vintage clothing shops - one more on the posh (but still super cheap) side, and the other in the more 'dig through these bins and see what you find' side. I was satisfied!

I also found the BEST stationary shop I have ever seen in my life - MOSAIK - they make their own cards and colouring books. IT rocks.

I have major plans to check out this area when there aren't half naked latino women dancing to rasta bands jamming up the sidewalks. It was an amazing afternoon. I think I will have to move to this area of the city next year.

The day wrapped up with a nice little get together at La Maison. All new folks joined together and had some drinks. It was fantastic.

This morning I pulled myself out of my comfy king-sized futon to explore the amazing food-and-stuff 'Midi-Market' that, open only on Sundays, offers patrons an array of food, spices, tapas items, clothes, and the most beautiful selection of plants I have ever laid eyes on. I came away with groceries and one ivy plant that I have stuck at the top of my loft - its tendrils are looking lovely hanging over the edge. I have major plans for that place next weekend. Plants galore.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sandy and his S.Hs to The Rescue!!!

I think that yesterday might have been the day of my true induction into Brussels. Somehow I must have misplaced the notice, because I was no where near ready for the crazy, and yet, miraculously hilarious events that transpired.

The day started out as normal as a bank of clouds sitting above the horizon here in the sunny capital of Belgium. Actually, I should have known there was something in the air - as I headed for my 'tech integration' meeting the sun was bright and I made it all the way to the bus stop without stepping in dog poop. And so my morning passed rather uneventful - a good couscous salad and a trip to the science cabin - that's about it.

But than.....1, 2, 3....where is Cheryl....4...and Sarah...and Tammy and Steph. Whoah. All these folks and a set of keys to a Toyota van without any seats in the back?? Amazing. And who is driving they ask??? "Lyndsay" they say!!!

From 3 pm, until the last drop off at 8 35 pm, I managed to embark with some good friends on the adventure of a lifetime.

Why not have your first European driving lesson on the highway? Why not pile dining room tables, wardrobe, various examples of tropical plant life, some beer (yes, one euro and you are drinking in the IKEA front lobby), chairs, bookshelves, hangers, loads of little things and...oh, 7 grown ups into the van.

It was hilarious to watch the men look as a big white van pulled up to our respective houses, being driven by a stunning, if not sweaty, woman who was accompanied by her super hot, super strong furniture wheeling friends. We got some say the least. Hence the title of this post. Speaking of posts...despite it all - I only hit 2.

On the tram ride to our long awaited respite we stopped for take away drinks at a DVD shop (!) and the journey was interrupted by a troop of regularly scheduled (friday nights) roller bladders - about 300 of them! It was quite spectacular to see.

Throughout the later part of our evening, where we enjoyed a patio, I felt like a foreigner in China as I was thanked and gumbaied. I tasted some fantastic beer, "TRIPLE", which, apparently earns its name from the 3X alcohol it incorporates into its receipe. I also had the chance to rush over to a poor teenage boy (who was not expecting to be accosted by the crazy, and now smelly, Canadian girl) to meet the CUTEST puppy jack russell. Not only that - I had some amazing rice 'ice cream' at a nice little cafe, while everyone else was scarfing some double fried (yes, double fried) frites.

It wasn't a usual way for super-nerd (oh, sorry, kevin: "mini-nerd") to spend her Friday nights - but, it was so worth it. Something I will never forget - even if my f'in IKEA alarm clock doesn't bloody well work!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Who Loves M.Ward? I Love M.Ward. Everyone needs to listen to M.Ward. Check out his amazing website - with the audio off to the right side.

What do you do when you are at a faculty barbecue and you get caught by your supervisor taking a photo of a stray cat?

Smile a little larger.

I had a wonderful day yesterday, and I am still trying to sort out whether it was the amazing feeling of knowing that things in Brussels are beautiful and exciting, if it was my meeting with a young boy (about 12) in the morning who introduced me to his dog: Binkey, or was it almost being able to talk a group of new friends into taking shifts as my new life coaches, or the great professional and personal chats I had with my awesome team members and extended-colleagues, or the dynamite conversation at the 'cat stalking' bbque...or the excellent later-evening I had? Whatever the reason there are little bubbles of happiness all around this sunshining city of Brussels this morning.

What could top this off?

Oh, maybe finding out that the location of my new school translates from Dutch - English as:

I suppose that days like yesterday make the bum-hole vulture like waiters all worth it. Yes, I think so.

Well, all of this wonder-world feeling can only be made more delightful by sharing a delightful Carrot-Ginger Soup that I stirred up on Wednesday night.

I found a way to incorporate my new tetra pak of Quinoa milk!!! Whoopee.

Okay - get down on this:

Ingredients (can I make the suggestion that if you live anywhere with a market? GO THERE)

1. a load of carrots (I suggest about 6 - 10 massive ones) - wash and than cube
2. 1 'thumb' of ginger (or more if you are feeling slightly more thailandish) - peel and than grate
3. 1 medium sized onion - diced
4. 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk (I used quinoa, but unless you are wicked cool and live or work on Cat Hill I have NO clue how you are going to get your hands on it)
5. Herbs - I used thyme, rosemary, oregano
6. Tomatoes (about 6, roughly sliced up)
7. Soy sauce

And than.....

Start with some soy sauce in your medium to large sized pot, which is sitting on a medium-warm burner. Add to this a touch of water and the diced onions. Let these sweat for a tiny bit and than add your ginger, herbs and tomatoes.

You can go ahead and add your carrots (and if you had a sweet potato or squash NOW would be the time to pitch that in as well). It is also at this point in the party that you want to add about 4 cups of water.

Let this simmer for about 30 - 45 minutes, until your veg are nice and squishy - poke them with a fork to make sure they are cooperating or that the gas light hasn't gone out on your stove.

My suggestion for how you might want to spend your time while this is cooking up is to do some really great online shopping. Check out: Buy some comfy yoga clothes. Do it.

When your concoction is all nice and wobbly, turn down the heat, add your hand mixer and crank it up (warning - use a towel around the edge of your pot, or you will look like a spotted owl after getting a splash bath of your nice and lump-free carrot soup).

Add your quinoa milk and let the soup sit on low for about 7 minutes.
And than...enjoy! This was great on a rainy evening.

Yum yum!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NOTE: Way too dramatic of an entry

Yesterday was one of those days where you feel like you are sitting at the kitchen table with your mom, or in a guidance office, and a really well meaning woman is looking at you and saying, (read it with an Irish accent, it sounds more authentic)

"well, yes, yes, it was a terrible breakup, but its worth it because you learned something"

And than of course there you are, 16 (or late 20s) experiencing 'the worst' break up of your life, or something equally as destabilizing and you think to yourself,

LESSON? WORTH IT? What the hell are you talking about? I just want to die!

And than of course 6 months go by and you realize that all women with Irish accents are really the oracle at Delphi. Yes, I learned something, but what the hell is with the bother?

Okay, now that I have recorded that little dramatic monologue, perhaps yesterday wasn't really in accordance with that....but we'll see.

Here are two small 'lessons' that made yesterday WORTH it:

1. It is worth it that when one has been without hot water since arriving in a new city and is breaking new speed records in their hop in and out of freezing showers, to THAN have a really handsome young man and his grandpoppy of an assistant trudge up your stairs and fix everything, thereby affording your eco-friendly mind a guilt free opportunity to stand under the oh-so-hot water for upwards of 45 minutes. That's worth the cold water. That's a good lesson.

2. It is worth having the worst-all-time vegan food experience YET if one is with their friends while engaging in a heated battle with a dick of a waiter, and is than (again - guilt free) able to, in lieu of eating at an appropriate time, come home and gorge oneself on popcorn cooked up in some olive oil.

If you are dying to make some popcorn right it! Is it breakfast time? Do It! Popcorn is a whole grainey bit of goodness, that one only makes a million times better by adding the heart healthy olive oil.

Here's momma Claud's tried and tested method for making the BEST popcorn. Even Keith, who is a "p-corn" connoisseur, could find no way to make this recipe any better.


Popcorn Kernels
High Quality Olive (or safflower, sunflower, veg) Oil
A shitty old pot (medium to large in size - we are making big bowls here)
NOT Anne Daniel's glass top stove
Salt for garnish if you are feeling particularly naughty...and after spending a day moving around books and checking out my new gym...was I ever feeling naughty!

How Tos:

Coat the bottom of the 'shitty old' pot with oil and let her get nice and hot atop a glowing element of some sort (note: the gas kind...not so good).

When the oil is just at the point when you think it might smoke (remember you don't want olive oil to smoke), about 2 minutes, you add your kernels. Keith's advice was always to just coat the bottom. Good idea.

Cover with a tight lid, grab a tea towel or those funky mits and about every 30 seconds you want to give your pot a really good shake. Yeah....put on some Justin Timberlake (who, by the way, is Britt's favourite artist, and it is his "SexyBack" that she and her cat have designed a dance routine around, and it is called: The Shake) and shake the hell out of that popcorn. This little technique, ensures that your bowl will be free of those unpopped kernels. So much potential....such a disappointment.

Your popcorn should pop for about 45 - 55 seconds, and than you can feel free to take it off the element and throw it in a big fat bowl. If you dig hot sauce you might want to add some here...or soysauce. But, personally, I prefer my p-corn straight up with a dash of salt and a really long Allan Rickman movie.

On another veganny note: I found Quinoa milk! Yes...quinoa milk. Who would have imagined? Well, apparently the man who does the ordering for the health food shop by my school DOES imagine. It is delicious. It feels like I have poured a little bowl of tasty cereal into my chai tea (minus the lumpy bits of course). I am imagining it in cookies, cakes and other such goodies that would only welcome its warm and nutty taste. Will have to try it out and get back to you on that one!

NOTE: NEVER, EVER go to Le Petite Bruxelles off to the side of Grand Place. Leif was right: That street is a bit tourist trap full of more disappointment than all the unpopped kernels in the world.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Had a wonderful day, full of yummy homemade food, friend's flat explorations, and a view of the rubber boots I have to have.

The cool kids headed over to Kristen's place for brunch, which was no small affair. Fresh fruit, fried potatoes, quiche, french toast, bacon, a fruit and rice dish, and tortes rounded out the list of goodies.

I have to share my recipe for the brown rice and fruit - it turned out "tres bon" according to the fans who, in some cases, went back for more.

What You Will Need:

1 cup of brown rice, washed and cooked (anywhere from 25 - 40 mins depending on type)
1 cup of vanilla soy milk (you might want a bit more)
6 dried apricots (sliced/or diced)
1/2 an apple (diced)
1 peach (cubed if possible)
cinnamon (your discretion)

*This dish is incredibly versatile and calls out to your creative souls to be as wacky as you want with any/all of the components. I have made banana/blueberry versions, strawberry and chocolate soya milk versions - Be insane.

The Way To Do It:

Before the party started, Kristen brewed up a batch of brown rice, infusing the boiling water with a fair amount of cinnamon.

When I arrived, after inspecting her flat, which is kickass and includes a bathroom that I am considering buying a swimming membership for, I set to work slamming myself around the kitchen, taking advantage of Kristen's hippie-kitchen-free-love approach with her utensils and various kitchen aids (no kitchen nazis in this house).

I diced the apricots, cubed the apple and peaches.
I poured half of the rice into a non-stick pot with the apricots and 1/2 cup of soya milk which I set on the stove to simmer, adding cinnamon whenever I was feeling saucy.

After about 15 minutes I threw in the remaining rice, peaches and apple, tossed in the soya milk - giving the pot about another 10 minutes of heat. At this point, if available, I would have added some crushed walnuts and/or pecans, but on Sundays in Brussels: (hungry) beggars, can't be choosers.

The dish was a success and could easily be saved for a lunch/dinner side (would be great with soy/garlic infused tofu steaks and salad), it would also do wonders in the fridge for another breakfast (But thanks to Cheryl we won't be saving our rice for more than 3 days anymore).

While the rice was busy boiling down and reaching its beautifully yummy consistency I set to work on two fondues - one vegan (with dark peppermint chocolate and soymilk) and the other non-vegan (with milk chocolate and heavy cream).

To accompany the chocolate party I crafted a plate of sliced apple, sliced peach, banana squares, some whole dried apricots and whole strawberries. For effect, I nabbed some of the fresh blueberries and raspberries brought by Bethany (who has become my Tofu/Meat Wilson sandwich buddy).

A great way to spend a Sunday!

We capped the afternoon off with a stop in Place Flagey, amassing on a cute and tres trendy cafe where I went totally out of acceptable cool territory by pulling a Benjamin (circa 2003) when adding my own soya milk to an earl grey tea...well, when you are carrying around a tetra pack of soya milk and you have a cup of tea in front of you...what the hell?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I needed a bigger bag. I always need a bigger bag. Or new pants.

But, I don't need just any bag. I need a vegan bag. I need a vegan bag that can go on my back and look really cute. Needless to say my journey is a daunting one. Despite the aches and pains known to any vegan bag hunter, I had an amazing social moment yesterday during my search and her name is Sanjamaas.

Place Jourdan is filled with a variety of little shops and conveniences, one of which I was making use of yesterday afternoon following a tea in my new favourite (and wicked close) tea room. The service of my non-english speaking tailor was pre-paid and I only ran in to pick up my pants (hoping and praying that my dodgy French had managed to convey that I only needed a hem and not a new pair of coollots). As the door closed behind me, I looked up from the fantastic sewing job I found myself peeking at, and noticed a sign: "Natural Bags". This could mean one of two things in the world of textiles: All Leather or All Plant/Earth based. Sadly, for the most part, minus a great straw bag from Laos, the contents of the store fell under the later category. BUT - the mistress of the shop and her amazing offerings of scarves, handmade earrings and insider Brussels information kept me in the shop.

We had a great conversation - mostly in English ...she shared some info with me about a flea market, where to find bikes, the conversion of Etterbeek post-EU move in, the trendy/still hidden vintage scene in Brussels and the directions to a really cool market close to the Grand Place. She shared all of this information with an amazing amount of energy and passion. She loves her city, and loves its diversity - of which she is an excellent example being able to speak English, French and Flemish and sharing her ancestry of Yugoslavian and Belgian. She had me so excited that I wanted to skip my plans for a pre-planned get together and ride out this little piece of social serendipity for as long as I could.

As I was promising to come back tomorrow, when rain didn't threaten, to buy the bag, she told me that she was a musician. I have had a chance to have a listen, and if you dig indie-techy-jazz-euro sounds than this little ensemble is totally for you. The band, Saymasound, has a myspace with downloads and a good selection of information. They are currently working on a new album, and are set to travel to Singapore for a show in the coming months. I am impressed and plan to do more than just buy the bag!

Following my mid-afternoon musical interlude I headed off to a friend's house party, where I was the first to arrive. I had a great conversation with Kara and Nick, which made me feel better about this potentially disastourous choice to pick up from Toronto and move to Brussels - they did something similar, leaving behind jobs as attorneys to take on the expat life.

We were soon joined by loads of others, including Torri, who I had an amazing conversation with about Technology and children. Torri has an amazing capacity for conversation. I also managed to hook up a critical theory (read: nerd) book club with Micheal and Nick - who seemed as pumped about literature as me. We than made plans for a book-club tattoo outing and I headed back home, where a phone call I had come home for didn't arrive. But, there will be other nights for dancing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cut the Kra (ft) p

I don't know if there are any of you out there with a serious Kraft Singles addiction (russell put your hand down - I know that you are off the cheese)? But, I can bet that a couple of you are still holding the hand of your Kraft Peanut Butter Bear? Do you remember the nostalgic glass jars that Kraft put out in the 80s? Perhaps they were trying to, through such cute marketing approaches, convince us innocent consumers of the fact that they weren't part of a megacompany with lobbying power worth over 101 million dollars?

Well, Kraft is full of some not-so-sweet treats. The evils of Kraft are oh so evident, despite the recent release of good looking pseudo health products like "100% peanut" peanut butter, and some sinfully delicious looking spreads that combine the best of the nuttella and PB worlds.

The parent company of Kraft is none other than Altira, which has a large monopoly on tobacco sales in the USA, producing many of the seemingly competitive brands of smokes.

Now, there is no judgment here - if you want your Kraft Bear, than go for your Kraft Bear. (And for that matter, if you want your smokes, than puff away). But, if you are looking for something to boycott, if you are looking for a little bit of 'wow, I am so great, I did something really political' than get that tub out of your pantry, throw the singles in the garbage, and pull the KD off the menu (EMILY!). There is something about food (which, should, on principal, be about nourishment and health) and tobacco (which, in reality, is all about: death, evil marketing programs and massive health care expenditures) that just don't seem to fit together.

Don't know...just a thought.

There are some really great and inexpensive peanut butter products out there, and of course, there are a million options for cheese (if you are of that persuasion) and President Choice makes a kick ass 'mac and cheese' that I would have killed for in my pre-vegan days - beats the hell out of KD.

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Spent a wonderful day bumming around in Bruges yesterday.
Learned a whole load of insider information. Here is the breakdown:

1. There is this wild 'new' (or I am out of the loop maybe?) media tool, where people can SLING their media from one part of the world to another. For example, my mom and dad could 'sling' their cable right on over to my computer. Interesting. Check it out: Sling Media

2. Lepers had a wet and damp place to sleep during the 11th century if brought to the canals of Bruges. If you have to have a terrible skin disease might as well have access to guided horse drawn tours, tea shops and chocolate right at your

3. When Belgians give you a second class train ticket - they aren't fucking around. Get to the next car (Kristen and I were booted from the first class car to the back of the train) C'est la vie.

4. A MANDAL is a sandal that is being worn by a man. This apparently commonly used term on the east coast of the US caused a great 'Lyndsay Laugh' to errupt in the second class train car. "he's cute, but he is wearing mandals"

5. Tammi managed to find the answer to all of the woes known to women looking for 'the perfect guy', which she managed to articulate in this amazing sentence:

"All I need is a rich guy on life support"

This is a shot of me throwing a penny into the Lake of Love. Rumor has it that when a sad girl does this a boy on life support pops right out of the water.

The brewery where we had lunch accomodated me in the most wonderful way. While others were enjoying a beef stock base soup, I was treated to an amazing salad, complete with sprouts and fresh tomatoes. My main (potatoes and mushrooms) was a little on the boring side, but that's alright.

I capped the trip off with my first session of Lyndsay + Belgian chocolate = I love the world.

Check out CBC Radio 3! Best way to discover some really kicking indie music, and some excellent ways to embed music (including your own play lists into your online world)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday Sun

Starbucks better get it together!

I decided to avoid a group sightseeing tour today and headed out on my own. I had the intent of hunting out a vegan restaurant, but in the end, I opted for a book shop, a tea house and a stop at Place Jourdan.

I started the day with a walk to the Royal Palace and a stroll through Parc De Bruxelles. Both of these stops were amazing. The palace's walls and ceilings were gilded with gold and dripping with chandeliers. The Parc was originally the hunting grounds for the Royal family and is now house to a number of fountains, sculptures and a couple of magpies. I wound my way towards the Grand Place, finally managing to get some pictures.

I have been looking high and low for some Chai Tea in the grocery stores with no luck. Today, after finding an English bookshop and purchasing a new book mere minutes before finishing Heather O'Neil's Lullabies for Little Criminals, I ran into a lovely tea shop. The shop, called Le Palais des Thes was full of tourists and locals alike. I escaped with spending a mere 5 euros, which purchased a HUGE sack of chai tea and a nice little cotton, reuseable and petite tea bag. Excellent.

After my purchase I headed to Rue Ixelles where I found loads of familiar shops, including The Body Shop, H&M, Mango, Zara and a tonne of new finds. I purchased a new phone for my LAN line, but, for some reason, despite having BELGCOM stop by to hook up my phone line, I can NOT find a plug...argh. I also found a hair straightener!!! Excellent. I will no longer be roaming the roads looking like I stuck my finger in one of these incompatible electro-plugs!

On the way home I stopped at Place Jourdan for a cup of tea, and was blown away by what I got for 2euro. Not only did I get a nice little cup of tea, the cost included: a little bowl of ice cream and a sliver of coffee cake. I enjoyed this cup of love on the patio, under an umbrella with a book in hand. I watched a variety of customers be delivered some delicious looking milkshakes, waffles and ice cream sundaes. I admit that it is only being a vegan that is keeping me from the potential of gaining a million pounds - the dairy all looks so luscious!

Yesterday I had a great run through Parc Du Cinquatenaire which, by far, is my favourite park. The two museums at the top of this park, joined by a large arch, from where the Belgian flag was draped, are just beautiful - can't wait to check them out.

The problem with being in Brussels is that there is so much to see, and so much to do that you feel almost overwhelmed for a lack of time.

I have to get over the idea that I don't have to pack up and go home next month. I can take my time, buy some rubber boots and enjoy a slower pace.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Curry Catch Up


I have a recipe to share that I made before leaving Toronto and it was so yummy that I needed to post it. Enjoy!

But wait a second...there is a wicked show on BBC 2 (Animal Park), and I couldn't start this post without suggesting that everyone quite their job and watch this program 24/7.

The Wednesday before I left I wanted to make a meal for my family and I decided on a curry. I made this decision mostly because I thought, if they weren't jiving on the curry, they could (HOLY CRAP, the joey on Animal Park is about the cutest thing I have ever seen!) have the veg and/or rice separate from the coconut milk combination that I whipped up.

I started with my mom's well used wok, and a little bit of olive oil. I diced the extra firm tofu into one-inch cubes, searing them until crispy, and than removing them from the wok, placing them in a covered glass bowl.

I also started about 1 cup of basmati and 2.5 cups of water to boil. Making sure to check it constantly to avoid burning....Turn the heat down after about 20 minutes, cover tightly.

I added 2 tbsp of seaseme oil, curry powder, cumin, pepper and coriander to the wok, which was sitting between med and high, and threw in the chopped sweet potato, which I allowed to cook on their own for about 15 minutes - just to soften them up. I than added the green onions, cooking until translucent. I than added some mushrooms, 2 tomatoes, red pepper, garlic and ginger.
At this point I also added some soya sauce. I cooked the veg for about 15 minutes, let the oil burn off and crisped up the veggies.

Then comes the yummy - the coconut milk. I actually added 3/4 of the can, rather than the whole can, only for the sake of it not being a 'lite' can, I added a wee bit of water to the now thick and chunky sauce.

I added the tofu and let the curry simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

With Matt not making it home from work, Rick at work and Em having fallen asleep with a headache my plans for a family feeding turned out to be a lovely intimate meal hour with Anne Marie, my mom and myself. The only thing that was missing was a bottle of wine. I added crushed peanuts and raw cashews to the top of the dish, serving the curry (in totality, rather than separate, now not having to worry about keeping the dish's elements separate for Em's sake) atop a bed of fragrant rice.

Monday, August 06, 2007

forests and fruits

Spent Sunday exploring some of the aspects of Brussels that Lonely Planet had threatened would be in short supply - fruit and forests.

I had a wonderful day traipsing around the south east corners of Brussels. AND! a very vegan dinner was had by all.

Fruit Salad:

2 oranges (I learned a new trick yesterday - peel the oranges, rip them into slices and than use SCISSORS to cut them into small pieces)
1 bunch of grapes (ie: as many as you would like)
2 banana
1/2 honey melon
1 quart of strawberries

Wash all fruit. Slice fruit into tiny tiny peices and toss in a large glass bowl. Allow the fruit to sit for about 3 hours in the fridge. Enjoy!

We enjoyed our salad atop a lovely little terrace.
The walk through the forest was amazingly wonderful. It made me feel as though I was at home. What it reminded me of was the walk that Keith and I took through Cathedral Grove on BC's Vancouver Island. Granted the trees weren't quite so old, nor quite so wide, they were quite massive and the canopy so high.

There were loads of families enjoying the unusually hot and dry weather. Lots of little kids streaking through the path ways, trailing screams behind them. Lots of old couples holding hands and betraying to my eye the love they still have for each other.

I took a taxi home at 11 pm, and saw Brussels in a very different way. It appeared much more......european??? Does that make sense? Something about the structures and the backlighting? Not sure what it was.

Ahhh...well. Really enjoying it here - and not having a problem being vegan at all!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A line from Lonely Planet's view of Brussels had me terrified:
"vegans will starve" - such a lie, such a lie:

The veggies are a' plenty and the service has been fantastic!

Perhaps this is due to the excellent translation services I have had over the course of the last 24 hours (thanks to Leif), but whatever the reasons, and despite the looks of "what the fuck is a vegan" erupting from the faces of the waiters, the attempts to appease my picky palette have been much appreciated.

After a walk through the weaving streets and through Eteerbeek's French Fry square...where the restaurants and pubs allow the frites of other proprietors to be enjoyed on their patios (I love it), I found myself in Grand Place, where we ended up dining at La Rose Blanche, which is a restaurant that is encased (and the girth of these buildings can be described as doing little more than encasing the shops and restaurants that call them home) by a historic guild house. The restaurant is inside Grand Place, which, is, well, grand. It is unreal actually. I caught myself staring at these big blocks of stone for many minutes with my mouth gapping open (nice...looking ever so the tourist I was).

I suppose I would relate the way I was awed by these buildings is to remember the way I had felt last summer when Keith and I were driving through Northern Ontario. He had always talked about its beauty and his desire to return here - but, I wasn't prepared for my own response to the majesty of Lake Superior. In a simlar way, I have been reading about the Grand Place and the square itself, but it wasn't until I was standing, gazing, that I found myself feeling the buildings make their own (and my own) 'beauty mark' on me.

I was avoiding the camera for the most part of last night, so I admit to not having any photos of the buildings or the great salad I had. The waiter went out of his way to understand what he most certainly viewed as 'my malade' and managed to rearrange some menu options to be able to serve me a great salad. The fresh mixed greens were tossed with a simple house dressing. The simplicity was refreshing after the plane ride and exhausting day of travel.

I did however manage to get in a photo which I took while walking directly behind the square. Some children were milling around a window, and when I caught a glimpse of the carefully laid out and sumptuously tempting display of belgian waffles I had no choice but to snap a photo - even if only for asesthetic purposes (we all know these aren't vegan - but I will give them a whirl of my own designs once settled in).

I am also happy to report that my first trip to the grocery shop proved yet another travel warning wrong. I had heard that veggies were expensive - and perhaps in other areas of the city they are (yet, my new friend sarah, found veg quite cheap as well).
I managed to procure a beautiful head of lettuce, two tomatoes, 6 carrots, soya milk, 6 apples, a cucumber, mushrooms, a toothbrush (yes mom, that purple one on the counter is MINE) and chickpeas for only 8 Euros -not bad. That also bought me a reusable bag for my next shopping installment.

I wanted to include some other not-so-food related images, including one of a great church behind my place, a photo of my new and not as of yet gentrified street and the SHITTY air-meal I wrestled my way through somewhere over the bloody ocean. Damn US Airways - though, Sarah and I were entertained by the character of my new book - this man, had on these amazing pink glasses, a head band and was killing us with tales of how horrid US Airways is to its customers - but this was only hilarious because he was our steward for the night.