Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sore Tummy?

I think it might be the heat....or the nervous mice that are collecting in the pit of my gut - either way, I woke up this morning with a sore tummy. I managed to get through a work-out, but, upon return from a busy day of document photocopying and Apple Adapter searching I was left feeling like the inside of my green bin on a day as hot as this - not so great.

Maybe it is all psychosomatic, not sure, but the little dinner I whipped up seems to be helping with the sore tummy:

1 cup of ginger/peppermint tea (I sliced the fresh ginger and threw it in my tea pot while I steeped some "CHOICE" organic Peppermint tea)

1 bowl of veggie broth, a handful of edamames and 4 sliced mushrooms. I added a little bit of cayenne to the broth. It was actually delicious. I am feeling a bit better and I am convinced that the food was the major factor in my recovery.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Bullfrog Power

Check this out -
I took this picture out front of a house on my street....and I looked into the website and it seems pretty interesting and, what's even better, HOPEFUL! The company has a wonderfully designed website - check it out -

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ethiopian Vegan Style: A lesson in many things

Yummy at Yummy's:

As noted in my previous post....I was having a bummer of a day. However, with the exception of some deaths in my family, my tummy has always saved me from the 'depths of despair'.

So yesterday afternoon while I was sobbing my way through a packing party I was asked:

Hand on chin: "Where would you like to go for dinner tonight?"

"sob, sob...Ethiopian?"

Perhaps it was my tears, or perhaps it was the idea of doing Ethiopian vegan-style, but all of the 'yeses' were on my side of the kleenex box.

I wasn't expecting too much. To be honest, the reviews haven't been that grand; I have heard both good and bad, hot and cold about this tiny little trinket of a restaurant that is on the SOUTH side of Queen Street, just west of Brock St. (which is just west of Dufferin).

After walking around for a bit, trying to find the food-hut and while swimming through a troupe of wedding guests headed for a privately booked ceremony/reception at the Gladstone Hotel (horse out front, crowds adorned with clothes that suggested that this could have been the wedding of George Stroumboulopoulis, or the lead singer of Radio Head), we made it to the mecca that I had been dreaming about since coming back to Toronto M and B Yummy's Ethiopian Restaurant.

The restaurant has a bizarre feel to it. The neon green walls and the plastic bakery boxes that line them aren't the most welcoming. Nor, are the thin wicker chairs that sit around the functional, yet wobbly tables. But, hey, good enough for me. I couldn't care less. I am a vegan for god's sake and you are telling me that there is a restaurant that wants to cater to my bizarre life style? Take me anywhere and give me your most neon green and most wobbly table! Onward!

The menu was so interesting - full of words and dishes that I had never really seen before. There was a mention of chickpeas and a couple of chinese-esque faux meat dishes to help me, but for the most part I was stumped (a suggestion would be to have a fully developed legend and glossary at the back of the menu)* I left the ordering up to the dynamite woman who served us (when I say serve, I mean that in the vaguest of manners - it was that 'sort-of' service, where you want more attention and you are constantly feeling like the super nerd who has put their hand up too many times in class and no longer gets called upon).

Our waitress brought me number 15 on the menu, otherwise known as the Vegetarian Combo (this is a little funny because I usually only see 'vegetarian combo platter' at pubs and restaurants that present their v-combos complete with a couple of pieces of cheese, a hunk of bread and maybe some deep-fried something - but here, everything was the vegetarian combo-platter and it was all so interesting.)

There were also orders made for the chickpea shiro wot and the red lentil missir wot, but I was sold on my vegetarian platter the second the HUGE ufo-style plate was plunked down in front of my eyes. Upon a massive bed of injera bread (leavened bread made from TEFF flour) lay the heads of five smallish splashes of different 'goops', while a large, red, burning sun-like goop was constructed in the centre of my injera. The goops were an assortment of beans, spinach and lentils. The flavours were all so earthy and dark that the bright green heat of the diced, and liberally sprinkled, chillies evoked a bi-polar response from my taste buds. (but, like all mental illness, departing from the bland reality of the same old chickpea and cucumber salad is a delight!).

I completed the meal with a vegan ice cream cone (at this point in the meal I actually became emotional - when was the last time someone held out an ice 'cream' cone for me? I felt like a member of a winning relay team who was about to run the last 200 metres with the tastiest baton EVER).

Nathan passed on taking home his chickpea wot, so I enjoyed it this morning (cold) for breakfast. Excellent.

Although I have less than three weeks left in the city, I plan on hitting this place at least two more times - they have a great brunch and breakfast menu that is well worth the neon walls.
Overall, the restaurant, and its host left me curious and wanting more.

The vittles were cheap and the atmosphere was way more interesting than the sterile nature too-often being offered by other vegan establishments in the city (Sorry, Fresh, I love your salads, but it is a bit too austere). My favourite part of the evening has to be a photo finish between: the food, the crazy downstairs bathroom that had no toilet paper, and included a trudge through a child's play area before finding the toilet, and the hilarious manner in which the hostess had to look at the menus twice: once when we were ordering to see what exactly was on her menus and a second time when we were paying and she had to check the prices. Excellent.

*Don't read this unless you feel like joining in some cynicism against the nouveau-chic style in Vegetarian/Vegan dinning:

So, okay - this establishment is lacking in any real sign posts to tell you how to figure out what it is that you might be ordering, sure. But, this lack of pandering to the whitey in the room evoked some interesting and important experiences for myself and my fellow dinners:

1. We broke through the 'do not look' at each other barrier that usually exists between tables of people at restaurants. This great couple sitting behind me gave us a whole bunch of suggestions and advice about what to order, and than looked admiringly over my shoulder when my platter found its way home. They also proceeded to share their vast amount of inside knowledge about TEFF flour and where one might procure it in Toronto.

2. We had the chance to be educated by the owner of the shop - she shared her suggestions in an off-the-cuff kind of manner - "10 and 15". She went out of her way to try and find some literature about TEFF for those of us with a curiosity at the table. I was gushing with an inappropriate amount of thanks by the time we left. I feel in love with this woman; her kindness and her smile was so heartwarming and I think that much of this would have been lost if there was a little "lonely planet" guide attached to the menu.

3. Vegetarian Haven has a little "this is Seitan" guide at the back of its menu and Keith and I had the crappiest meal of our Vegan-hunting experience at this location.

In my opinion, anything that is going to get people talking and questioning their surroundings (especially when it is four well-off white people in the middle of parkdale) is worth it. Long live signs in a different tongue!

Let me Introduce CLAIRE

Despite the brown dog, and the brown drink I was having a rather blackish of a day. I have been having a blackish of a month (see previous 'boy in cushion-chair' post).

This pain is mine and I own it. I know it well and have been waiting (if not begging, inviting, praying) for it to come. I have been waiting for this month for a long time, because it is a signal, it is the proverbial white flag, the last U2 album, the hand in knuckled-fist wrapping on the chinese table - "It is done". The scorching pain and the rotten fruit of this whole experience is tough and ugly, but more simple than a Japanese aesthetic. The beauty is here - it is in the end - the end doesn't belong to a love or a life. It belongs to something, to a way, to a road, to a path that could have been a forever-over-life-over kind of route. So here it is: wrapped up tightly like a bound foot, or the inside mechanism of a Christmas Cracker - it is tight, it is ready, it is popping like a mother fucker all over my ear drum.

No matter how much a Cancer patient wants to die, no matter how sweet that sleep is, do not attempt to sell me some idea that with this long desired death there isn't that feeling of sheer horror and desperate pain. Don't lie to me and try to tell me that they don't want to hold onto the side of the gapping water slide's entry point. No matter how hot the plastic feeder tunnel-tube-waiting-area is, and no matter how cold, refreshing and long-awaited that rush-you-through-the-fear-of-the-fall is, don't tell me that they want to let go. Don't tell me.

So it hurts (add a million synonymous for this emotive marker right here) and it leaves you feeling scorched inside.

BUT, than you have moments inside this pain that are really brilliant. They are usually moments of self-reflection and deep understanding. These "oh, I get it!" moments being the most logically useful kind of lightness underneath your heavy Undertaker's coat of sorrow, but that doesn' t mean that they are the only (or even the most healthy) kind of moments available to us pilgrims whose emotional feet are dripping with blood and cut to pieces that one could almost imagine were once soft, pink skin.

I had a moment such as this tonight. Having to leave a long-time desired evening of vegan Ethiopian vittles (see the post to follow tomorrow), where I was trying so hard to enjoy the company of great people and brilliant conversation I wove my way up the street that connects to Lindsey Street and upon which I currently live. This particular section of the street includes the shop of a man who has been so loving towards me and my sadness the last few weeks, and the garden plot that sold me on the neighbourhood so many years ago. I took the photo that you will see below:

The sunflowers, that represented so much meaning to me on the way between Rocco's Pit and Gudrun's Grotto, were in full bloom - as are all Ontario sunflowers right now. I let the camera look past the sunflower, including it in the view, but capturing the bring new purple flower in all its glory. A garden can be so much more than what you originally planted - thanks to bees and seeds and children with burrs attached to their fleecy jackets.

Through the park and into the next cross section of my journey I found Claire. I knew her name right away. She looked abandoned and alone, just dying to meet me. So I met her. Now: I love kitties, I love doggies, I love one legged froggies. But this girl was special. She climbed up onto my squatted legs (aka my lap) and rubbed her little skinny face all over mine. She kissed me and loved me and made me remember one of the most magical spots in China. This little cat was all that I needed to see through my pain and move to a place where I was calm enough to finish my walk to my home, to my back door, to my living room, and soon - to my bed. But of course I spent a very long time with this little girl and I took all the love I could from her. I let this little cat make me feel better and I think I scratched her up pretty good as well. A dear friend captured the picture below. Originally, Claire was looking into the camera, but we locked eyes (as she was making muffins in my arms) and shared a moment as the sun dipped down behind the houses and my tummy stopped aching.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another Brown....

A really good morning....

So I have been going on, and on about these lattes. The Silk Road Tea Company is being well represented by Edward the gentleman owner of The Common.

I can't even say anything that expresses the goodies found in these photos.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lost Boy = Found Me

Sitting on Bloor drinking tea = me. (so I wasn't sitting 'right' on Bloor, but inside a corporate monster drinking tea - not because I wanted to, but because I was dying from the heat)

A comfy over stuffed wish-I-owned-you kind of chair was my throne, and at first the only view I had when I looked up from my New Yorker journal (thanks for that) was a unreadable kind of 'dude' guy who was unbuttoned (and I am SURE it was unintentional). Keeping my eyes cast down to avoid package/eye contact I failed to notice his departure and the capturing of the coveted overstuffed toadstool by a frail young man who was clutching a book and wearing all dark morose looking garb. It wasn't "I am a goth on Bloor and Bathurst-teen" wear, so much as it was "I might work at a bookstore, be a student or plow through my boss's travel itineraries as a personal assistance" kind of wear.

But, it wasn't all of this speculation that has forced me to pull over on my walk home and write this down....it was that he started crying.

Have you ever felt that you were looking at your insides? Well, I sure did today. Not to sound totally navel-gazing-self-reflective-bordering on being related to our anti-hero Narcissus, but holy(tofu)cow! There I was, right there, crying unashamed in the middle of this (horror) Starbucks.

I asked. After a mile worth of contemplation. I asked:

Are you okay?

Yes, it is fine.

And than he rose, I watched him walk away from the chair, out the door and into the street. He leaned against the building across the road. I guess I am doing that right now.


recipe for my heart's desire.

Sitting in my favourite cafe on College (most decadent of Chai/Cocoa Lattes EVER) I overheard a British woman talking with her blue-haired oldish woman friend....and she was telling a story about "the last time Allan was in town, and he was in between the two potter films - he had his haired dyed all of these fantastic colours......" I had to interrupt and ask for clarification:

In my school girl shy voice (wait, I was never a shy school girl)

"You aren't talking about Allan Rickman 'the actor' are you?" I had dropped down to a whisper by the time I reached the end of the sentence.

"Why, yes, yes we are"

"I have the world's biggest crush on Mr. Rickman"

The woman giggles and tells me that they are good friends and went to school together.
Of course I am doing all that I can NOT to fall apart in an orgasmic goop all over the floor.

And she asks,
"would you like to hear his voice message?"

I stare - dumb. Just - dumb.

My response (so stupid, so fucking stupid)

"no....no, really I couldn't impose, and plus I would look like a total goofie girl-child"

"Suit yourself" (apparently this healthy looking woman is used to people losing their minds over her acquaintances and has no time to twist my arm into doing what I totally want to do)

So, my chance to hear his voice on someone else's cell phone (which I could have gleaned for inflections of love/lust for his real girl-hero-love (read: ME). But, alas, I did get to talk to someone who more than likely has glanced upon the naked legs of Allan, has seen the drunken smile of Mr. R, has heard a sneeze explode from that handsome handsome nose. Yes, I sat beside someone who has sat beside the love of my love.

I am ready to face the day - what ever that includes (no matter how free it is of Rickman sightings). Fantastic.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Yah for Emily!!!

Emily and Andrew before the ceremony

I just wanted to make a non-food entry about my kick ass sister! She is superb and always amazing. One week ago, I had the insanely emotional chance to watch this firecracker of a woman graduate from Barton high school. Yesterday matt and I were sitting in his focus discussing how bizarre it was to finally get to this place where Emily has taken this right of passage. We both remember thinking to ourselves sentences like this: "When Emily graduates from high school I will be......" Because of the age difference between Matthew, myself and little miss Emily, the older of us have had the opportunity to watch the evolution of this super star, and Thursday night of last week really accentuated this passage of time, and highlighted what a dedicated pair of parents we have.

Emily graduated with a truck full of awards, a jaw dropping average, a spot at the University of Toronto's Trinity College and a great group of friends. But, I have to say, that it is Emily's ubiquitous goodness of personality, a total pervasiveness in her whole approach to be great, an overarching stitch to her narrative so far that is full of good deeds and moments of kindness - it is this collection of her attributes that causes me to stop and gawk in amazement at this little ball of energy and altruism. She is pretty wonderful. I just can't wait to see what else she is going to get up to.Rick, Emily and Mom

Ontario - my Strawberries to Discover....

This post should have come down the pipe line a long while ago, but there have been other things in the oven besides good food and summer fun. Packing, organizing and trying to tame my wild cat (Biggums) have taken up some of my usual blogging time.

This isn't so much a recipe as it is a saucy celebration of Ontario strawberries. Yummy.
Obviously you are going to want to snap up the organic variety, but, to be honest, I would take the conventional form of strawberries FOR SURE.

Speaking of strawberries - this saturday will be all about the Organic Strawberry Festival at Dufferin Grove Park. It is being put on by the new health food store in the neighbourhood (Sunshine Natural Foods, which is on the corner of Dovercourt and College). There is going to be some yummy lemonaid, crepes and of course loads of reasonably priced organic strawberries. I think everyone should check it out (after checking out my garage sale first).

The Ontario Strawberries that I picked up last week lasted quite some time and they were tiny, fresh little red globes of love love love. I used them in a couple of shakes, used them in a couple of breakfast yummies (see photo) and of course I ate a whack of them RAW. They would have been great coated with some cocoa, (but that just might be where I am at in the moon cycle of things).There wasn't much to this bowl of goodness (which, if my camera wasn't being a jerk you could see is supporting the program from my most brilliant sister's graduation).

12 ontario strawberries - washed, cuddled and sliced.
1 banana - sliced
2 tablespoon of flax seed
2 tablespoons of oats
if you are feeling super sexy - add some soy milk and cinnamon

I am reading a most brilliant book - It is: Don't Get Too Comfortable, and is written by David Rakoff - the most hilarious gay man I have ever had the opportunity to read (he loves telling his reader that he is Gay (capital G). It is amazingly well written. It makes me laugh out loud and it picks my brain in a delightful way.
Pick pick. (strawberries).

Monday, July 02, 2007

Angry 'Coon Curry

I had a weekend guest who concocted the most beautiful vegan meal I have ever had the pure joy of putting to my lips. The entire dish, from consistency and flavour, to presentation and texture, was perfectly perfect.

Having only been left in charge of the odd wok stirring, and the consistent replenishing of our wine cups, my rendition of the recipe will be flawed, but I couldn't deny the world the posting of this world-altering union of taste.

Angry 'Coon Curry
(the 'Coon who I speak of was hiding in the roof of my porch during the preparation of the dish. He became so incensed with being unable to partake in the goodness of the vittles that he proceeded to literally RIP down the ceiling and throw the SLATES of wood to the ground)

4 portobello mushrooms (heads snapped off and gently washed)
2 large cooking onions (cut into chunks of approx. 2cm squared)
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 can of chick peas
1 can of black peas

yellow curry powder
pepper (in a dead puppy pepper grinder)
some funny little black seed (THAT I THOUGHT WAS MUSTARD)
chili and garlic curry paste
1 can of coconut milk
garlic (diced)
fresh ginger (peeled, pounded and diced)

The spices (pepper, cumin, salt, curry powder,coriander) were toasted in the large un-oiled skillet with the intent or roasting and releasing the flavour.
The portobellos were dry roasted.
A touch of oil was added (I really dropped the ball by not having peanut or sunflower oil)
and the onions, peppers and a touch of water were added to the mix.
Following this garlic and ginger were added at this point, along with the pepper duo.
Following a quick smoke/wine drinking break chickpeas, black beans and curry paste were added.
Coconut Milk came next, with the dish being than allowed to sit and stew for about 20 minutes.
While the curry was getting more delicious by the milllisecond Nappa Cabbage (Chinese Cabbage) was diced and laid out in the shape of a circle in the middle of two glasses plates.

Finally the olfactory-pleasing and taste bud-party of a dish was ready. I almost had a seizure due to the explosions detonating in all nerve sensors - but I would rather choke on my tongue than have gone my whole life without tasting this beautiful plate of food.

I admit to enjoying another large portion today at lunch - which may have signed my death warrant - I am certain I saw the raccoon looking in the window. Oh well.