Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Ode (or Shell??) To My Mom

When I was a little girl, growing up in the big city, my mom always used to wistfully talk about Italy and escaping for a good holiday. (In fact she used to say the same things about Greece....probably just a symptom of winters in Canada). This year, it was my turn to head to Italy, while she and my family back home went to Cape Cod for their summer break (and were super sweet, celebrating my birthday with a cake and fun in my absence, but making a video of it so that I could join in the family birthday fun!).

Needless to say, it has been 8 months since my last trip home, and my feet won't land on Canadian soil for another 2 months (yes, I am painfully aware of the huge carbon footprint made by my trips home, something I try to atone for with biking and tramming to work), so, I thought that while being in one of her favourite spots, that a way to cure my case of "I miss my mom" I would make one of her best recipes that she always does vegan for me when I come home: Baked Shells.

Now, with the absence of tofu ANYWHERE that I have looked so far, and with me lacking in any real urge to munch on the soy product, I substituted some of her ingredients and made a dish that was just as wickedly delicious as hers - but soya free. .

I cooked the shells, the stuffing and the sauce separately from each other and then baked the shells for about 20 minutes at the end. All of the ingredients are local, and all but the tomatoes and pasta shells came from the market in the next town over.

Claudia's Soul Soothing Baked Shells
(way to have an Italian name mom!)

2 tiny eggplants - diced
2 tomatoes - diced
1/2 of a white onion - diced
4 of the biggest white mushrooms you have ever seen - diced
1 red pepper diced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 red chili pepper
4 cloves of garlic
Pasta shells

Shells pre-saucing

I cooked down all of the stuffing ingredients in a pan, while cooking the shells, and K tackled the sauce (he had actually offered to make dinner, but I felt like I had to tackle this one). When the shells were ready, I gave them a good stuffing and lined them up in a baking dish. I covered them all with the yummy sauce and popped them in the oven.

So that helped get rid of the 'I miss home' blues, but I am still missing my mom - probably will until I get home in October. This stretch will mark the longest time I have been away from home. I am so thankful for everything that moving to Europe has given me (espeacially the proximity to the love of my life), and I do love being here, it is a great continent, filled with amazingly unique countries, languages and cultures. But, I do miss Canada - with all of its lovely rules and driving expectations. I miss the friendly people and the social services. I miss the country's (attempted) commitment to the environment and the communities of people who work together to fight oppression, poverty and to uphold the rights of women and refugees. I am sure that a lot of this stuff is happening in Belgium, in fact, I know it is. But, being an expat all of those things are a little further away from me.

I did more than miss my mom yesterday, we also made it down to the beach (though we didn't hit the sand or the water, just wandered around looking for a vegetarian restaurant that was closed) and found a really yummy pizza for was HUGE. The plate that they served it on wasn't even capable of holding the whole thing. They had two vegan options (cool!) and it was the thinnest crust ever, which left room for other treats later on.

We also made another batch of baked fruit....found some peaches at the market in Montalto and couldn't resist pairing some fresh walnuts with them. Another great day in the Italian sunshine.

This little vegancowgirl is going to crank up her CBC and read the Globe and Mail online! Thank heavens for the internet. I love you mom!


Anonymous said...

Its hard to be away from home like that. I lived away from my Mom for an entire year in San Francisco while she lived in Florida. We saw each other twice and it was just too hard to be away from my family. I moved back8 years ago and I am so glad!

It was a great experience though but now being home with my family is even better.

VeganCowGirl said...

Thanks so much for your words and personal experience.
I find that reading vegan blogs from home (N.A) helps me stay connected to that world away from here. I appreciate your comments so much!

Be well.

Lily said...

Yay a vegan in Europe and not so far from my place !

The pizza looks yummy :-P

Bianca said...

Aw! You are an awesome daughter. I only live one hour from my mom and I can't imagine being more than a day's drive from her!

Those shells look fantastic. I love stuffed shells, but I typically cram them full of tofu...the veggie alternative sounds even more delish!

Anonymous said...

Hey congratulations, you received an award.

eatme_delicious said...

Mmm I need to try making shells like that. How sweet of your family to send you that video. :)

Alice (in Veganland) said...

I miss my mom too! I understand your expat feeling very well, I wonder if they ever disappear...
The shells were a nice way to bring you near to your family!

VeganCowGirl said...

Thank you so much for all the kind comments!

aTxVegn said...

This post is so lovely. Your mom would love your recipe, I'm sure.