Saturday, September 29, 2007

Totally Personal Post - lacking almost any vegangoodness...

How can I even start this post? I have been writing it in my head since last night, standing in a crowd of ex-pat Canadians and (RIGHT) in front of our cultural caretaker: Gord Downie. They haven't figured in my play list, with the odd exception of some rockin' running tunes, in years. I outgrew The Hip in the same way I outgrew many of the things that were with me in university - slowly and organically. Other stuff started to creep in; the likes of Andrew Bird, Spoon and Elliott Smith started to make beds in my music sofas, and I had less time to spend on musical glimpses of Northern Ontario and Hockey myths. But, none the less, when you hear Gord you can't help yourself. You just can't. Perhaps if you were anything other than Canadian, you could. But otherwise, you are helpless.

The whole night started with me feeling listless and almost losing it on the tram - thinking about my dead Chinese Water Dragon and having to spend at least 10 minutes buried in the front of a nice gentleman's sweater where I was half sniffling. He was riding the tram and didn't seem to mind. People living in Brussels are really kind. We hit a really nice shorbet place before finding the coolest new shop in Brussels - just opened a couple of days ago actually. They took a really wonderful campy image of some chicks and vampires and put it down the side of a sexy black t-shirt for me. Thanks! After the accustom pre-show DIY session we met up at FANNY THAI (which we only really went to for the name, there were some other tofu tossing locations in the neighbourhood), where I had a GREAT meal - best so far in Brussels I think. A nice tofu sattae, followed by a tofu curry rouge. My only complaint was that the rice was a little lame. OH, and they didn't have parking for my elephant.

The show itself was in an amazing venue - right down town, in a building with brilliant sound. And there I was. Not totally sure I was going to dig the was the hip....but ready to go and connect with my country.

The first few lines of Grace, Too and the crowd last night was sold. They were there; the band had the Brussels crowd eating out of their hands. Perhaps it was the linguistic ingratiation (being smart and doing things dutch style), or maybe it was his dancing, which for Canadians, equalled: "I am home," for everyone else, I suspect, it was mesmerizing and evocative of thoughts such as "oh my, is this gentleman having a seizure on stage?". Michael Stipe, I mean Gord Downie, was on fire. It was evident that he wasn't exhausted from tireless nights of throwing fights at the end of some transatlantic tour - he was as fresh as a new bunch of cilantro.

But, with my newly designed graphic-t, a belly not uncomfortably full of thai food from FANNY THAI, and surrounded by the likes of Kevin, Sarah, Britt, Tammy, Tori, Geoff, Mel and with Danielle and Chris holding up the back it was all good. I became a bit overwhelmed when I started to think about how wacky it was to be holding a Krick beer in my hand, standing in the middle of Brussels, and listening to the best HIP show they have ever graced me with. Now that is Globalization. I have to say, I felt amazing. It was nice to reconnect with the music, all of the memories embedded in the music, and to share it all with a new group of really great people. I must have felt pretty comfortable with the whole thing, because I danced all night long and let my guns fly. It was guns all night long.

Bob Caygeon is all new for me. All new and nice.

Next show is one of the dudes from BSS, followed by Arcade Fire and than a little bit of The National and then - FIEST! Can't wait...oh, then New Pornographers, if I don't end up in Madrid.
After the show we came back to The Handsome Family and a bottle of really good Spanish wine.

With ringing in my ears I exclaimed all of my elation with the eruption of emotions that were a direct result of the intermingling of the old and the new. I have someone I can say those things to and I couldn't be happier. I think my toes are even smiling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Check out this link if you dig music. And if you don't dig music, maybe you should start a garden?

Great site.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I can't decide what to feel about the middle school teacher who was fired this past week. I have read a bunch of conflicting reports about the actual reason for his dismissal: he was disseminating graphic vegan literature (not cool), he was trying to make a change in the school cafeteria (cool), he was ardently moaning and complaining about milk in the cafeteria (not cool - some parents want their kids to drink milk...some kids have soy allergies and most cafeterias aren't about to bring in hemp milk). The teacher, known semi-anonymously as 'dave', has been vegan since January. Maybe he is still in the teenager stage of being a vegan? You feel radical and wild with the roots and shoots you are downing with every meal? Who knows. My gut tells me the guy is a bit of a loose canon, and his dismissal had little to do with his diet.

In happier news: I had some wickedly wicked chocolate last night.

This Belgian chocolatiers practices "the art of Blending". The technique is well worth the effort because the piece I had last night (following a companion meal of chickpea, tomato, and spinach - that I almost burned) was amazingly well done.

Dolfin is a company that has been in action for over 20 years and brings home the tofu, despite the over-saturated Belgian chocolate market, by offering up a diverse variety of blended flavours and dynamic tastes. I indulged in the Dark Poivre Blanc and Cardamome du Guatemala. Holy. So good (god).

In their array of kingly goodness they also offer the likes of: Dark Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns, Dark Chocolate with Petals of Flowers, Dark with Fresh Ginger and (get ready) Dark Chocolate with Earl Grey Tea.

They are definitely gourmet and could be used as a delicate after-dinner treat that you could do some really cute things with for a dinner party crowd or...just unwrap it and stuff it in your face if you are all alone (or...scarf at said dinner party if you have no concerns about messy chocolate face and questions about your eating habits).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rice Paper Wraps - Enjoy!

Okay - I have decided that it is time for The Vegan Cowgirl to come to the big screen. This was a totally impromptu idea that was inspired after realizing how much you could capture with a 1GB memory card (thanks annemarie!)

I was in the middle of making Rice Paper Wraps when we started this little adventure. I plan on making them much more exciting and stylish....we'll see how it goes! Excuse the hair and jogging pants.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Best Veg Artist Award....Goes to -

Her art work is sensational - sublime (if I can write that without sounding like any of my professors in grad school. Or a dick). Despite having taught at Sheridan for a number of years, and having managed to make some great friends there, I still have very little clue about art work. art history or how to make art.

But I know what I like, and I really love Heather's paintings. And not just because I knew her when I was 16 and than again when I was standing in her doorway delivering a package of vegan baked goods to a customer who I though had a vaguely familiar name.

Her work is amazing and introduces me to characters in the same way a really good book does - sharp and foggy at the same time, real and unreal.

So - check her work out before I destroy any more art-based discourse with my attempt to tell you how amazing it is.

The work above is heather's.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lessons in Dutch Squatting...

Those of you who have been regaled (read: bored) by my story about learning yoga while in China, will be happy to know that there is a Part II to my Exercises in (Language) Exercises.

I am the proud member of the Ladies Only Passage Fitness on Avenue Louise, which, wants to be an Oakville YMCA, but falls short in a couple of areas: the weight machines are terrible (but they have a pretty good cable machine and a number of free weights), there is a TOTAL lack of water fountains (quite unsafe really), and the weird Aveda-style aroma therapy that spits out of secret wall sockets is less enjoyable than one would think. This being said, it is quite nice. More importantly - it is away from school and gives me a "Lyndsay space" - and they have 'the wave', which I only barely started to get a hang of when my train pulled out of the Oakville station.

Anyhow, after my time with Uriya (my new little Jewish friend) I headed down the apparently mondo-exciting tram line number 94, where men make sandwiches en route and one can receive free Italian lessons. I was expecting to take on a spin class and show how to cycle Canadian-style, but the class was called off. I wasn't to be detoured. BodyAttack was being offered in the next room - and I was spandexed-up and ready to do it.

The class was in dutch. Wicked.

I totally enjoyed myself and took my brain of linguistic acrobatic jumbles (that comes from living in Brussels and listening to kids who speak about 45 different languages) to a whole new level.

The pretty and super fit girl who took me through a wicked routine was, for sure, the lead singer of The Cardigans. For sure. But really, her tattoos were really cute and I busted a move like I was at Kingdom in 1996 with my fake id (ahhhh...remember Iva Zupansic? I can't believe I can remember that...only turned down once).

I earned my tofu and popcorn tonight.
Did I ever.

I have a couple of new friends that you have to meet.
They aren't named yet, though, the options are up on the white board for discussion tomorrow morning. They are actually really cute, and have forced me to move beyond an unknown nervousness that I had about little green things to become a den mother of these two little darlings. The kids are pretty hilarious around them.
There's only ONE person who knows how Kevin likes his peaches ----
and I know its you Bernie!!!

See you at the show

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Worth the Wait Root Veggie and Chick Pea Pot

I love themes.
Had one tonight.
All about the wait; all about the anticipation.

Hard and snappy root vegetables, which start to make themselves prominent in both Brussels and Toronto right about now (and anywhere else that is being cajoled into the sweater-huddled season of autumn) offer a starving post-gym ten-year-old ring tamer more of a challenge than I had expected.

I had the chance to play "Ready-Steady-Cook" tonight and this is what my shopping sac included:
a celery root, a bottle of tomato sauce, 6 green tomatos, cashews, dates, aubergine, and a can of chick peas.

Looking at the bag's contents, I thought - deeply - there is a meal in there. THERE IS A MEAL IN HERE.

This is what I came up with (I admit to having used a couple of ingredients that were nuzzled into the fridge).

Aubergine-Chickpea Party

1 medium aubergine (cubed)
3 green tomatoes (diced)
1 can of chick peas (drained)
1 red pepper - seeded, cored and diced
1 teaspoon of peanut oil
dash of salt if you are feeling naughty.

This simple dish came together with little effort. It was as easy as warming up the wok, adding my oil, spices and green tomatoes. After about 2 minutes I added the aubergine, which, to be honest, could have used more than the 25 minutes of cooking I gave it, half way through I added the delightfully sharp tasting red peppers. Next was the yummy chick peas; I drained and washed them - if you don't you are asking for trouble of the tummy variety.

In the last 5 minutes I threw in some pine nuts - good decision, I was happy with the depth it added. I was only sad to have left my new basil plant on my new Ikea bookshelf....damn. Basil would have been perfecto.

To accompany the eggplant and chick peas I roasted up some really great celery root. CELERY ROOT......who thinks to use celery root? great idea. I just hope that my rather rustic and mundane approach to the root did justice to the firecracker of an idea.

In a roasting pan I mixed 1/2 of a celery root that I had peeled (if you can call chopping and hacking peeling) and 2 diced carrots. I also added to this a little bit of pepper, salt and rosemary, and the essential olive oil. In the last few minutes I included some really soft and yummy dates. They totally added to the crispy and savory roots - my favourite dish of the two tonight. I think I might add some ringed black olives on the next cook through. I have a feeling that like the curry of last week, I might have to do this one up twice. Maybe I can grab some photos on the next round.

This food was well deserved after a kicking run and a great day with the kids.
Is it wrong to love your job so much that you want to pay them for the days' work?

There is a great little doc on about Defoe's England and how he used the country of England in his mental 'mapping' of Curusoe's lost land. Who loves BBC? Me!

Monday, September 17, 2007

This is Lyndsay Daniel for BBC-Squirrel

The price of nuts is fallling. We suggest you leave your savings in, and get your peanut butter out.
Just wanted to share this great link:

get out the tissues. okay, maybe that's just me.


A weekend of impulse. One after another. And all great choices.

After class on Friday I was high and low all at the same time. Ready for anything, even a flight on a Boitsfort hot airballon. The night almost drifted into the totally wonderful land of night in and movie time....but, with the injection of some hot tea at the scene of the first crime it was onward and upward towards the pee soaked streets of almost-north Brussels.

It was decided: saw the movie Control . Amazing film, great cinematography (thanks Anton a la U2-cover-glory). The acting was superb and the music was amazing. David Bowie cracks the story open and you are treated to a well done array of live and studio versions of some long-missed (at least for me) Joy Division tracks. I was taken by the black and white decision - it was fetching from a visual standpoint. Only 23. And dead.

I indulged in some popcorn and a peanut butter sandwich - one of the best meals I have had in a while. Funny, that. But so true. The night rounded off with the wheezing creaking of an old vinyl sleeve and the smell of paper from the 1980s. Breath it in. I don't know if it was the pear for lunch and the petite sandwich and popcorn combo, but the wine hit me like Ian Curtis in a spasm. I was knocked out and half way to the floor when it became apparent that I needed to hit the hay.

Saturday was Newt day, but I had to cure my fuzzy head with a pedicure from Angela, my slow-speaking-french-friend. It was quite wonderful. I met Kevin at the Coffee Club on Balli and ripped into The Guardian's Books and Literature section. Ondaatjee, Atwood and a few other Canadians were featured in these pages. It made me miss Hamilton for some reason - a totally undiscovered and under appreciated city. I miss Stanley Street so much.

The rest of the day included a purchase of two, still unnamed lizards, another trip to IKEA (with Stephanie) and the ordering (and unrepentant gorging) of pizza.

The pizza came from a shop around the corner and was mega simple - like, really, super simple: crust, tomato sauce, and mushrooms. I figured that no amount of gorging would be a problem.

I am adding some photos from a second and much smaller beer fest, and a totally spontaneous trip to Oostende's shore, which, for a variety of reasons, was a most memorable trip of massive proportions.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I can't wait. I just can't wait.

I have always been good at a saddist level of self-denial, but sometimes, espeacially in the areas of chocolate, cute graphic t-shirts and hand bags - I just can't wait.

Last evening was wonderful. A great night, and I want to share. But, ít will be without photos, at least until I get email treats from Cheryl and Kristen.

After work we trammed it up the soon to be beer-soaked route of the 94 (for ISBers....don't forget about the Cheryl-organized-Tram-94-Flat-Crawl taking place this Friday night) with the intention of making it to both the Chatlaine market (Wednesday afternoons from about 2pm until the wine stops flowing) and Retro Paradise. Kristen was in mad search of a pair of Megan-inspired boots and I was in search of some ingredients for the midweek-dinner party I suddenly found myself throwing at someone else's house....sorry Kevin.

Although we failed to make it to the boot shop before the door of opportunity shut on us (at least until tomorrow), the market was unrelenting in the plentiful bounty it offered up to evening shoppers. There was a great atmosphere in the often quiet (though super trendy/expatty/funky) square. Stalls were set up all around the interior of Chatlaine, including: wine stands (where old men were making much of the 2 euro glasses of wine), olive vendors, bio distributors and some super yummy looking prepared food. I even found a really nice French man who was selling chocolate pudding that was VEGAN.....

So, armed with red flame raisins, tabolli salad, olives, fresh veg, red wine, bread, walnuts and a pear for the walk, we made our way home.

While Kevin made the best out of having two women invade his place, I set to work on making up some food for the ever increasing guest list.

I ended up with a menu of stuffed mushrooms, stuffed zucchinnii (or croquettes) and a wicked ratatuille/rice dish. We also had some bread and olives for the grazers.

The stuffed mushrooms are well worth a try if you have a few free minutes and a hungry belly.

For Ernesto:

8 large cap mushrooms (you could do this with portebello, but, I would suggest changing the ingredients a wee bit - to something more earthy)
150 grams of tabolli salad
1 onion (I used a red organic)
garlic (chopped)
cliantro (or corriander, depending on whose house you are cooking in)
1/2 cup of large red flame raisins
1/2 cup of well crushed walnuts

olive oil

The How To:
Pat mushrooms with a damp paper towel and rip (or cut) the stems off - put off to the side.
Run your finger around the inside of the shroom, pulling out any of the 'gilly' bits. Make sure you have a nice little pot on the inside of your mushroom. Set mushrooms aside (At this point you could plop them into a nice marinade of olive oil, basil and soy saunce).

Chop the mushroom stems, onions and garlic. Heat a bit of oil on medium heat (watch out - don't use blue ikea oven mits while making this dish - you will be forever in debt to Mr. Healey).
Stir this often, avoid having the yummy bits burn and stick to the bottom of the pot.
At this point I added the tabolli salad and some spice (basil, rosemary and cilantro). I let this warm itself up and than threw in the raisins and walnuts. Let this cook with constant vigilance (forget that idom or Arcade Fire line about blah, blah a watched pot will never boil...lies).

When the stuffing is all warm and happy - oil the bottom of a roasting pan and plunk your little white puffer bellies (whoops...sorry mom) into their new home, stuff them like crazy and dust them with a light snowfall of basil and cilantro.

I baked these bad boys for about 30 minutes on medium, pulled them back out, added some bread crumbs to half of them, and than cranked up the broiler for about 3 minutes. They were quite good.

Enjoy Ernesto!!!

Thanks so much to Cheryl, Kristen, Sarah, Sandy, Ernesto and Kevin - it feels like a million years since I have had a chance to cook my little heart out......

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I had a little visit yesterday afternoon from one of my life coaches. The meeting went quite well, she was there to check up on Little Miss Never Blog 'no more'. I admit, I have been absent from my page, and there is really no excuse. But wait....let me try one out for you...

(Life Coach Coming to 5DA for a Visit)

Do you have any idea how much reflection one needs to experience after two ten year old girls tell you that you have cool earrings? It takes a while to come back down to planet earth, blogging is the last thing on my mind.

To be honest, my composition energies have been taken up by other pools of diversion. Including: the above mentioned 10-year old fashion advice column I am now in charge of, hunting for newts, begging for paper clips (which is actually way more difficult to do than begging for one believes my dog is near death due to a lack of paper clips), checking out new music sites, such as Tusruradio, and trying to decide whose window I would sit in if I was one of these really good looking Belgian kitty cats. I think I have decided, but the flat has a couple of terraces and I might be inclined to jump, so I think I will just sit on the green sofa that has recently been uncovered during an archeology dig.

So all of, I found a flock of peacocks living in the cockles of my heart. One can hardly believe it.

But, since my last post (which was written loads before I posted it), I made it to the Belgian Beer Fest, which had organic beers and some really yummy fruit concoctions. Although it was hardly the place to go if you wanted to get away from ISB for awhile (who ever said teachers were big drinkers....) it was a really interesting gig. The centre of the Grand Place looked as though it had been invaded by a dozen wedding planners who were wrestling over the best spot to host a wedding...tents everywhere, drunk Brits everywhere and really good energy. No glass smashing, no fighting, just some good natured beer swilling and song singing.

A small group of us took off quite early to embark on a dinner in the Sablon (or close to it). It was quite good actually - I had a really expensive Thai salad, which , despite the price and maybe only because of the combination of wine and beer, I quite enjoyed.

On Sunday we made our way to one of the English bookshops and bought some great books - did the whole, "I will buy you this one, and you buy me that one" thing. I scored for sure. I am in the midst of reading The Book Thief, which, by the way, is totally amazing. Wonderfully written, sorry, wonderfully crafted.

I got the chance to whip up my raw avocado chocolate pie again - and man! it was even better this time. And, unlike the last experience, I managed not to make my gallbladder unhappy with a gorging of mass proportions. I was prevented from eating the whole thing myself on the basis that it was a birthday cake, which was enjoyed by the ISB physics department and a couple of lucky members in the ES. I was in contention for the Emily Post award the night of the pie incarnation, as I managed to throw together a kicking curry as well - which, I am still harboring covetous thoughts about. Is it a sin to covet your OWN curry? Who cares. I want to share pictures, but you will have to wait until I wrestle the camera from Kevin, who can be found below giving a snippet of his dissertation on Trappist Beer.

Happy Days!