Monday, September 29, 2008

Perfect Pot Pie!

I had a great weekend that started with my very first sleepover at school! I volunteered to be the female chaperon for the high school's 24 Hour Theatre weekend, where the 2nd year IB students take the 1st year IB students through a whole production that they wrote, crafted and casted. Although I didn't relish sleeping on the theatre floor, I did enjoy being a part of something from a different division.

Kevin was amazingly wonderful and brought me a great vegan Chinese take out meal from one of our favourite restaurants. It was great, and hugely appreciated. Saturday, under the cloud of Ms. Cranky-pants (lack of sleep & hard floor = super crank fest), we went scouring the city for a new dining room table. We found a perfect specimen in an antique shop, but decided to wait a couple of days before putting the money down (I don't recommend making big purchases when sleepy), and hope to pick it up this week sometime.

We hit my favourite house shop afterward, where I cheered up while picking out new tea canisters, magnets and cookie cutters. I even kept my mood up long enough to pick up the world's cutest bunny rabbit socks! We capped the night off with one of my guilty pleasures (a new episode of House), and some hummus and rice cakes. Perfect pre-bed combo. Kevin was a great guy and took all the grumping with a grain of salt..thanks Kev!

Sunday, with sun in the skies, and the sleep no longer in my eyes, we hung around the house, went to the Flagey market and made some of the best treats I have yet to concoct. I am so very proud of my Vegan Blog Inspired Vegan Pot Pie! It was amazingly glorious and I am so excited to make it over, and over again. I was also really happy with the stewed Plum/Apple gloop that made for the greatest breakie this morning.
And the Pearl Barley and Leek Soup that I made with the leeks we had left over after our pot pie production looks and smells delish! Can't wait for my post-work out lunch!

I also had some time to putter around in the much neglected garden. I moved the sage that was growing, growing and growing in our window box to a pot that would allow it to spread its roots a little more. I also checked on our bulbs, and cut back some of the rosemary (the sprigs were a part of the pot pie).

I almost forgot to share the wicked Parsnips Mash I made on Thursday night of last week! It was amazing, amazing, amazing! I had a pumpkin burger and some market corn with it. Look at the fresh herbs I mixed with some market garlic - I threw this in with the parsnips mash right at the end.

We have a three day week of school, with accreditation work on the Thursday and a retreat on the Friday. The one frustrating part of this job is that I feel that between holidays, my conferences, P.D. days and any of the other various reasons for not being at school, that I see too little of these great kids I get to work with.....hmmmm.

Please Eat This Pot Pie

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup of cold water
2/3 cup of olive oil
dried or fresh herbs as you wish

4 leeks - white bottoms cut into coins and then diced up
2 cups of brown mushrooms - sliced
1 block Extra Firm Tofu - pressed and sliced/slivered
2 tablespoons of olive oil
sage, rosemary, pepper, yellow mustard, black mustard

2 tablespoons of vegan
1/3 cup of chickpea flour
1 1/2 cup of soy milk
water as needed

I prepared my pastry first. I decided before hand, on the advice of K, that the best way to make a lighter version of the pot pie (not that I don't dig the full on version) was to just make a cap for the pie, rather than a bottom as well.

This pastry was super insanely easier. I just put my flour in my bowl, added the water and then added the oil. I mixed it all up with my hands (any excuse to get dirty), and eventually broke it into two chunks, throwing one in the freezer for future creations. I rolled it out with my rolling pin and set it aside.

I will admit that I was stressed while making the filling and the saucy running bit. I was trying to make this, using the basic concept from a V-con recipe, while skyping with the nurse-mom and the uni-sister. They got to watch their own little version of the VeganCowGirl Cooking Show!!!

I made the innards of the pie by browning the fu first, and setting it aside. I used a smidgen of oil to heat up the dual mustard seed party, before adding the leeks and shrooms. The shrooms gave off quite a bit of liquid, which was great for keeping the contents from sticking (without the need of any additional oil). I added some more spices and let her simmer, while I prepped the sauce.

The sauce was a newbie for me. The whole pot pie idea was new, but in their own parts, the pastry and filling wasn't all that new - but a creamy was a part v-con and part guessing, but in the end I like what I ended up with. I started with melting the marg, added the soy milk, slowly added the flour and kept my eye on it while whisking away. I eventually added some more water, as I wasn't initially pleased with the consistency. In the end, I added the whole thing to the tofu/leek and mushroom madness, allowing that to simmer for about 10 minutes.

I used an oval shaped casserole dish, and added the inside, filling it almost to the top, before capping it off with the pastry. I was cheesy and added two cut out hearts to the top.

Kevin, on my orders, whipped up a pretty kicking Mushroom & Onion Gravy. He pulled the whole notion out of that brilliant bearded head of his and created something that totally topped off the pie leaving it in a state of perfection. I can not express enough how much I want you to get in that kitchen and give this one a try. It was amazing!!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vegan Bonding

Just wanted to give you an update on the student lunch I had yesterday!

It was great! Not only did my student willingly try the Chocolate Avocado Pudding I made for her, she gobbled it up! And...what she didn't finish, she took home as 'Homework' - how cute? We laid out our goodies on one of the blankets I brought back from my travels in China and got straight to work at the yummy food.

Her mom is super cool and actually made the Banana Bread Muffins from V-con!! The fact that, here in Brussels, this mom actually owns V-con is totally wicked. But making the muffins and sending them with her daughter for our lunch was fantastic. To be honest, and I think I have written about this issue here, and in comments on other veg blogs - I can NOT for the life of me, bake vegan banana bread. It was the forte of my momma, who used cream cheese and sour cream to moisten them up....and I have failed horribly with every attempt. But this mom tackled these bad boys in a most fantastic way. I am going to have to try the V-con recipe for myself!!!

It was a really nice lunch, and I feel that it will help that student feel more connected to this new environment. Thanks to everyone who said such nice things yesterday!

In other school-vegan related news: yesterday was picture day, and I bucked the system with my "Vegan Cheese" screams to the photographer who was encouraging us to utter dairy embedded obscenities!!! One school photo at a time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cinnamon and Spice and Everything Nice......

Last night, while K was kept busy with a meeting at school, and after I hit the gym, I came home to cook up some of the tasty & organic veg we found at the St. Gilles market Monday night.

I made a big batch of apple sauce, which I actually decided to leave a little chunkier than the last time I made it. I threw in two big sticks of Cinnamon and added the juice of half a lemon. I piled fresh strawberries on top of about 1 cup of the apple sauce for a quick breakie this morning.

Apple Sauce

I also gave it my best in recreating a couple of K's signature dishes. They, of course, didn't end up tasting much like his, but their flavours were just what I wanted after a bland-ish stirfry on Monday night. The Aubergine Dip was deep and smoky, while the Chickpea/Spinach dish was hot and spicy.

Tabbouleh Salad

I have invited one of my new students to have lunch with me today. She is new to our school environment, so I thought a little bonding session over vegan food might be fun for her. In addition to some hummus, apples and rice cakes, I made a tabbouleh salad with couscous avocado chocolate pudding! I can't wait to see if she likes the treats.

Thanks everyone for their comments about my future wedding dress....I promise to post photos and let you have a say in what looks best on this vegancowgirl.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Assortment

I adore Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and it was spectactulalry worth the wait for Amazon France to get me my little copy (I do love how very little it is.....super cute format).

Kevin and I hiked over to our friend Jimmy's house yesterday to share in the sunshiney goodness of Sunday brunch. The weather couldn't have been better for Car Free Day in Brussels. This yearly abandoning of all things auto is a dynamite, if under-executed, plan. There were little and big people everywhere! Bikes, feet, blades, horses (!) and public transit. A lovely way to see Brussels, which is usually a car soaked parking nightmare.

The weekend, despite the busybeeness, gave me the much desired time to play in the kitchen. Although nothing worth of a Domesetic Goddess award, I did make....

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble for Kevin
Vegan Sausages
VCTOTW Rosewater Cupcakes (minus the pistachios)
my very first ever Buttercream Frosting
A big pot of Root Veg Soup

I am getting really excited about my upcoming trip home to Canada, where, amoungst otherthings, I will be trying on wedding dresses with my mom!!! I can't wait. We are anxious to get our invites in the mail....these fabulous little things are recyclable, and come embedded with their own seed packets for easy backyard planting!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paris When It Sizzles

Paris was fantastic! The weather, despite threatening reports, was amazing and the company couldn't have been better.

Some of the vegan highlights included:

1. finding a great bio shop, Bio Coop Lemo, where I bought a selection of dried goods to keep me going throughout the three days. They are attempting to start a chain of bio-shops in Paris, and I say go for it! The selection was great in both the veg/fruit aisle and they had some wonderful looking sundries that I unfortunately had no room for. The three locations can be found here - if you are in Paris for holiday I recommend checking it out! The only down side of this little grocery stop was buying a package of quince spread and keeping it in my purse all day to only discover (after wondering why on earth my leg was so sticky) that it had exploded.

2. a great veg*n dinner on Saturday night with the Ladies and Kevin. We ate at a little vegetarian (with loads of vegan options) place close to Notre Dame. It was heaving! Totally packed. Although I had a spectacular time with my friends (who were horrible to me and kept topping up a wine glass that seemed to be drinking itself), the food really wasn't that great. My avocado appetizer was tasteless, and the main was just a whack of couscous and a seitan log. They also disappointed me by promising vegan sorbet and not being able to deliver...they did manage to cut up a mango, pour some raspberries on it and deliver it to my table..... But, no worries, that is what exploring is all about. :) Please note the Sad Vegan Face ("Sorry Madame, but there is no vegan sorbet tonight") and then Happy Vegan Face ("Here is a mango")

3. sushi!!! I think I have mentioned my pension for vegan Japanese treats before. When I lived in Toronto it was a weekly treat to head down to college street and devour a plate of maki. But, here in the rainy land of Belgium, it is hard hard hard to find maki that isn't under 8 euros for a cucumber roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't mind paying big bucks if it makes sense...but COME ON. So, it has become tradition for K and I to head straight for any/all sushi options when ever on holiday. This trip didn't disappoint me - lots of avocado rolls and some great miso soup. And K is just about the coolest guy to sit down quietly with for lunch in the middle of a busy city.

I admit to having zero new recipes of at-home recipes to share.....due to this unrelenting tummy ache that seems to come and go. But - I have a whole weekend ahead of me and I have plans to use my newest cookbook......VEGAN CUPCAKES TAKE OVER THE WORLD! Can't wait.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Baby's Babbaganoush

I have had one of those weeks that was filled with productive and interesting moments. I felt exhuasted on Friday night as I climbed into bed, but I felt fuzzy and good about all the energy that came out of my classroom this week. Just one week with them reminds me of what a good decision it was (for me) to leave behind post secondary teaching to work with kids. They are amazing.

Vegan Kid Moment -
One of my kidlets, who was with me last year, had his birthday yesterday. His mom made this totally decadent chocolate cake, which the entire class wolfed down in about two seconds. Great. But! The little dude came up to me and said "hey ms. Kirkham, since you can't have the cake, I brought you this vegan chocolate bar". It was HIS birthday and he is bring ME vegan treats??? Crazy.

So, back to the title of this post. Last weekend, while shopping for a new hand mixer, I found a silly little treat that I just had to pick up. It went against all of my Feminist fortitude to pick up a PINK movie from the 'chick flick' section of Media Markt (come ON! - the jacket was actually pink as were all the others in that section), but it was...get ready....Dirty Dancing. I hope I am not the only vegan blogger out there who spent many an evening way back in the eighties lusting over 'Johnny' and feeling 'Baby''s pain as she struggled with the eternal daddy-daughter delima??

I decided to take advantage of K's two day trip to the coast as a chance to have a whole bunch of women over on Thursday night to help me enjoy the dramatic stylings of Patrick and Jennifer. It was quite hilarious - one of my friends showed up in cutoffs and tennis shoes, carrying a watermelon (which, if you saw the movie, makes sense).

I concocted a little dip for the get together, which I served with crisp bread, wasabi peas and some whole wheat pita. The dip was just so delicious I have been snacking on it ever since the ladies went home. So sorry for the dark photo.

Baby's Babbaganoush Dip
-2 eggplants
-1 can of chickpeas
-4 tbsp of tahini
-2 tsp of olive oil
-cumin seeds to taste
Assembling this little dip was super easy. I baked the eggplant the evening before, and put it all in a mixing bowl and hour before everyone arrived, turned on my new super duper mixer and tahhhh dahhhh....a great dip.

Friday afternoon, for lunch, I had a simple little salad with some great avocado and OF course, the dirty dancing watermelon, covered with fig infused balsamic vinegar made a super desert.

Tonight, for dinner, we just had something quick and simple, and fridge emptying - resulting in a couple of different flavours that wouldn't make it on any Top Chef's table, but, for us, worked just fine. The polenta covered butterfly tofu 'chops' had a smokey paprika flavour to them, while the mini-stir fry had a nice mushroom and sesame flavour....we know, we know - not the first combo of flavours that you would find paired together. But, never mind the flavours - don't you just LOVE using cookie cuters to make your tofu fun and cute shapes???

We are just in the throws of planning our next weekend trip to thing for sure - MAKI!!! I love Maki in Paris. Any recommendations for a vegan weekend in Paris?

Wishing everyone a wonderful week at school, work, holiday.....may whatever you do be happy and fun.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Look at the Elephant in the Room!

First my new lunch box!!! Isn't he fantastic???!!!

Had a busy Sunday!

While I was planning up a storm at my local cafe, K was cool enough to hit our organic/local market stands all on his own. Not only did he manage to snag everything that was on our market list, but he got me a little treat - a whole bunch of wild blueberries! I could hardly let them stain my fridge, so I got to work as soon as I could strap myself into my apron and whipped up a batch of Wild Blueberry & Whole Wheat Muffins. A couple of my team members might become vegan by the end of tomorrow's meeting when I unveil these tasty (and very colourful) lovelies. Are you loving the elephant tray I picked up on Saturday morning? I am!

I also managed to boil down about 6 cups of black beans with the hope of them keeping me well supplied in quick and tasty protein sources for the week to follow.

I was craving some root veggies last night and I had a pumpkin burger and a hazelnut burger in the fridge that needed eating so I threw together some organic carrots, an organic sweet potato and garlic cloves before closing them up in the 400 degree oven for about 2 hours. To this I added some farm fresh/local corn cobs (the rest I enjoyed with some black beans for lunch today). I have to say, even with my childhood exposure to the succulence of Ontario peaches and cream corn, - this was amazingly tasty corn! Yummmy!

I also put together a dish for tomorrow night's dinner - eggplant, sesame paste and chickpeas. Ready for a tomorrow night reheat.

Wishing everyone a great day full of veggies and sunshine!