Monday, October 13, 2008

Three Canadian Tofurkies.....

That was the small number of Canucks that were representing at our triple-hosted get-together yesterday. Despite the small number of Canadians (with Australia and the United States being well represented), we had a typical Canadian Thanksgiving Feast (Mostly) Vegan Style!

The kitchen fun started on Saturday night, when, after a long day of hunting around Brussels looking for canned pumpkin (and then paying a painful 3 euros per 250gram can) I got to work on a couple of the recipes that I knew could handle the overnight wait for visitors. I am so glad I started on Saturday night because the wrestling match I had with Vegan Planet's homemade raw setian recipe was both hilarious and messy - I covered my kitchen in flour - it was off to clear instructions. Not until I was elbow deep in a sloppy 9lb mess of soaking wet flour did I realize how essential clarity in cook books really is. In the end, I ended up with more of a baked bread roll (stuffed with uber delicious stuffing), but was pretty disappointed with the non-seitan results....even after the third attempt :)

I went with pretty classic fare, honouring my Canadian mom, who was enjoying her Thanksgiving with my brother, his partner, my sister and my dad in Ottawa. I went with my mom's delicious Carrots, Garlic and Rosemary dish, Green Beans and Tomatoes sauteed in garlic, Roasted and Mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The three dishes I am most proud of though are: Chestnut, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing, Vegan Mushroom Gravy & the Pumpkin Pie.

Kim, K and I went to Flagey Market uber early on Sunday morning and then we all rushed back to attack the rest of the cooking and cleaning. A fellow Canuck came over around three and de-veganized my oven, but he redeemed himself by getting the Gravy started.

It was an amazing night that made me realize how much work it must be for parents (especially single ones) who go all out for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Between the shopping, house cleaning, cooking/baking and hosting it is exhausting. I can not imagine adding three kids to the total! Mom - you are my hero for yet another reason.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I Heart Foodie Bloggers

I had the great pleasure of making dinner, not for two yesterday, but for three. My amazing and wonderful teacher-partner, turned, wicked, cool friend - Kim, came round for dinner last night. Of course we got in some good old fashioned rubric making, but, the best part was being able to feed a non-veg*n a meal that she was happy with!

I was in a heartfilled mood, still carried by the love I have for my foodie bloggers, so I decided to make a dish that I could metaphorically give to everyone of you wonderful readers out there. My Chickpea Heart Patties weren't just for Kim, they were for all of you too!!!

These were dead simple, and the whole meal was quick, easy and very satisfying.

Chickpea Heart Patties
(they don't have to be done in the shape of hearts....but......)

1 can of chickpeas (I used the really good ones from Spain)
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tsp of olive oil
any herbies or spicies that you want to put in your hearts
some elbow greese (take OFF your engagement rings) to mush it all together by hand.
1 super duper cute heart shaped cookie cuter

I mushed all of the ingredients together (after Sylvia did her typical trick of stealing at least five chickpeas) and formed little patties on the cutting board, which I then cut out with the heart shape. I added the little hearts to the cookie sheet and placed the pan to a nicely pre-heated 350 oven. I let each side cook for about 10 minutes. They were amazingly crispy on the outside, and the perfect texture on the inside. Yum Yum!

Kim and I got a lot of work done, helped Kevin finish a bottle of wine, and made plans for our upcoming Canadian Thanksgiving dinner (which we are hosting at my place this coming Sunday!!!)

With last week's tragedy, I didn't get a chance to post my 'new' tasty treat: Seaseme Spread on Rice Cakes with cute little cranberries. Delicious.

Really looking forward to catching up on everyone's wonderful blogs!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Pure Pet Post

Since Thursday morning, when my mom's sad voice shared the loss of Riley, I have been bounced back and forth between sadness in the knowledge of knowing that I will never snuggle Riggles again, silliness in recalling the mountains of Riley-memoires that I have saved up over the last six years, and sheer thankfulness for all the love, support and kind words that have come, literally, from all over the globe.

As a tech-loving teacher, you are often treated to tales of how technology is de-humanizing the world, and how youth will never learn emotions and know human realities from their constant interactions on the internet. It has been through this sad loss of a member of my family, that I have had proven right my convinctions about the internet's positive potentional. While I was sitting at my desk, drenched in tears and unable to make a conherent thought, I blogged a simple post to tell all of the veganfoodie world, who I admire, read, love and feel inspired by every day, that something horrible had happened. And quicker than the baking time for Vcon's Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, so many of you responded - with kind words, with virtual hugs, with beautiful cultural traditions, and with stories of connections and understanding. I can't thank you enough. You helped me get through that tough few hours and over the weekend. I also feel that the little bits of Riley that I share with you will be transmitted and remembered by people other than me and my family. I will always be impacted by the support of this blogging world when I think of this very sad loss. Thank you - all of you.

Let me tell you just a little bit about Riley. After four years of university, the end was in sight and the end happened to coincide with my sister's 13th birthday. Her present was a furry, show dog parented, papers filled-out and filed, Golden Retriever. I was lucky enough to have given myself a repreive from working that summer - as I readied myself for my Master's year in English. I did nothing more that summer than play with Riley and hang out with my mom and sister.

Riley was a perfect puppy right from the start. I can't think of one moment, or one story where he was naughty or snarled or bit or snapped. He was a perfect companion to all of us - each of us getting the love and treatment from Riley that he thought was the best for us. Even when I moved away from my parent's animal loving home, Riley always treated me the same, always came and cuddled, always let me chase him around the living room, always rested his little (ok, big) head on my knee while I was eating ANYTHING. He was a wonderfully fluffy and funny dog who always, always said 'yes' to ice cream, and no matter how much he hated tofu, he would always taste a little before returning it back to the floor from where he had picked it up from.
It is my parents and my little sister who I feel most keenly for right now, as I know that Riley isn't suffering and likely carrying around all the shoes he can find in doggie heaven. He was such a massive physical and spiritual presence in their now too-big house. And, the sad fact is that Riley isn't the only pet they have lost this year - three months ago, their long time kitty friend Jake also died. The seven hour flight home has never felt so long, and the prospect of three more weeks here in Belgium has never felt quite so frustrating - all I want is to be home with my family and give them a big fat hug.

Kevin was busy all day Saturday trying to keep a smile on my face - something which he did quite well. We FINALLY bought a dining room table (upon which we ate a great meal last night), we also picked up a desk, a laundry room organizer that we couldn't put together, and bookshelf doors. The other two little creatures who were big and wonderful helpers this weekend in making me smile were Sylvia and Eliot - my own little precious packages of fuzzy love. They did lots of silly things this weekend to make me laugh and remember all the reasons why having pets in your life is well worth the sadness we feel when it is time to say goodbye.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Broken Heart

I have nothing to post. I know it is VEGANMOFO, but my family dog died unexpectedly last night and I am a mess with nothing but sadness for my family and that dear dog in my heart.


I actually have to go to a damn work retreat right now. I really just want to be home with Kevin. Hopefully, by the weekend I will feel more in the frame of mind to get back to VEGANMOFO. Until then, please send little doggie love thoughts to my family.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I can't not participate in something with such a fantastic name. But, since every month is a Vegan Month of Food, I decided that I would add my own little spin to this month of Daily Vegan Food Blogging. My plan is to centre my posts, and therefore my cooking, around new experiences, tastes, products and recipes.

To start this off I have two new tastes that I wanted to share. One with a recipe and one without.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Doesn't that sound delicious? At school, I run the regular old Literature Circle in a bit of a different way. Rather than having kids take on the usually boring-by-November roles of Literary Luminary, Word Finder, Illustrator etc, I try to treat their conversations/activities about literature in a more adult way - hence the grown up name of Book Club. Like most adult book clubs these kidlets also have snacks when they meet - with each group responsible for sharing the load and breaking up the responsibility. This year, some of my high flyers are reading Wuthering Heights, and I decided that rather than let the two of them teach themselves first year university English, I would jump in and share in their literary discussions. Last week, I brought in some vegan ginger snaps for us to share....but to be honest - they were out of a box....shame, shame. One of the girls was responsible for snack this week and her and her mom actually made VEGAN CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CAKE! It was decadent and well worth the extra 20 minutes I spent spinning on the bike at lunch time. My first time indulging in that combo of flavours. Yum Yum!

Celery Root Mash

Kevin's action shot which he insisted I use for this post

This idea came from the brain of my British boy, who spent his early years knee deep in root vegetables and other northern England comfort foods. We picked up a massive celery root from the market on Sunday, and I got around to playing with it last night. After peeling the big dirty sucker, I found the intense aroma of celery not all that appealing. So, I nixed my first idea of making celery root fries, and grabbed some carrots from the fridge. I boiled the carrots and celery root in about 3 cups of water. After the boil down, I added a clove of roasted garlic, a little bit of almond milk and a whole lot of pepper; I started the mass up with my electric mixer and finally moved to the old school potato masher. It was actually really good! I would be happy to turn it into something a little more stewish - with perhaps a mushroom gravy or something of the kind atop.

In vegan wedding news - I finally placed the order for my invites last night. We decided to go with InviteSite, and selected the Seedling Design. We are trying hard to keep this wedding as Eco as possible and went with this company for their commitment to recycling and for being cool and allowing us to say NO to RSVP cards (since it will save paper by having people reply by email) and by having cards that are not only made out of recycled paper, but having cards that can be planted in our guests gardens. Cool stuff.

Ok - I am off to my early morning Environmental Committee meeting - my first one since taking on this new role at the school. Should be interesting.

Oh - and to Becks et al - I promise to include a Rabbit Sock Shot as soon as they come out of the wash. :)