Archive for October, 2009

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A Tale of Three Dinners (and one lunch!)

October 19, 2009

Dear Caitlin and all others,

Sorry that I haven’t posted for a few days; I think I was still tired out from my last, long post about New York. Fortunately, though, this means that I’m going to squeeze a plethora of awesome food adventures from this week into one yum-filled post! So let’s go!

Wednesday Dinner

Wednesday Dinner

So it is (nominally) autumn here in Toronto, and while you wouldn’t know by the daily lows (which have already dipped below 0 Celsius), at least the available produce is of the season. Such being the case, I decided on Wednesday to make the best of the fall harvest and make myself some Pumpkin Soup! The recipe (or rather, guideline) I followed came courtesy of Vegan Dad, a nearby Canadian blogger who knows his stuff (and how to make a mean pumpkin soup). This recipe is really easy (the most time consuming part is peeling and scooping out the pumpkin) and you basically make it to your tastes. I thought that this was an excellent autumn soup, although mine did suffer some from not having a hand mixer to mash the pumpkin (notice how the liquid remained separated from the pumpkin flesh in the picture). Still, this did not get in the way of the taste, which was superb.

And let me tell you about these scones. Their recipe also comes from Vegan Dad, and they really make the perfect complement to this soup (although they’re absolutely delectable on their own as well). The only downside to both of these recipes is that they call for lots of vegan margarine/butter (especially the scones), which to me is disappointing strictly from an economical perspective. Still, the payoff is definitely worth it.

Thursday Dinner

Thursday Sandwich Closed

What’s that funky looking sammy? It’s what happens when I need to fix up a quick dinner after my late evening seminar Thursday nights. This “Bird Beak” Sandwich was made with a multigrain ciabatta roll I got at My Market Bakery. (This was my second time there, and I definitely like the shop a lot; however, I learned the hard way this time that you really need to get there early in the day–by the time I arrived late Thursday afternoon, most of the shelves were already empty!) Of course, a sandwich is not all about what’s happening on the outside; the inside counts too! So let’s look inside…

Thursday Sandwich Open

Okay, so it’s perhaps not as exciting as it could’ve been. This is just your basic sauteed mushroom and onion sandwich with mustard and (artistically placed) tonkatsu sauce. This was simple but satisfying, plus it gave me an exciting and wacky new idea that I’m eager to try out sometime soon (check back to see how it goes!).

Saturday Lunch

Saturday Spread

I spent most of the Saturday holed out inside trying to write a philosophy essay. But any long day of writing requires a nice big lunch break, and that’s exactly what I gave myself Saturday afternoon. Let me introduce my lunch one dish at a time…

Saturday Soup

First, White Bean Rosemary Soup! This recipe came from Dreena Burton‘s wonderful book Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, one my personal faves. The soup basically involves exactly what its name suggests: lots of cannellini beans and rosemary, with a little bit of veggies and some liquids thrown in there to even things out. This soup was a very good lunchtime meal, although I did have two small issues with it. The first was my own fault: I decided not to use fresh herbs, and I definitely should’ve. So I’ve learned my lesson. The second issue was that what you see above was the entire yield of my batch. Now granted, I did cut the recipe in third, but even doing so the soup still called for two whole cups of beans! I think I could’ve split the soup I made into two small servings, but I was really hoping that this recipe would’ve made more soup. Alas. At least this gives me an excuse to make more soup.

Saturday Bread

Along with my soup, I also enjoyed some slices of another purchase of mine from My Market Bakery: a Multigrain Muesli Loaf! There’s a lot going on in this bread, and I love every part of it. This did not make the best complement to the soup (it’s a very hearty bread), but it is excellent all the same!

Saturday Hummus

Finally, I made myself some Peanut Sesame Hummus, another recipe from Dreena Burton’s book. This is by far my favorite hummus recipe in her book, although all of hers are stellar. I switched things up a bit this time by using my Peanut Hazelnut Butter and some hemp oil in lieu of sesame oil, and the results were fantastic (although not significantly different than what they would be had I followed the recipe exactly). I enjoyed this hummus with some celery sticks and pole beans.

Sunday Night

Sunday Dinner

And that brings us to tonight, where dinner was roasted vegetables served over amaranth with Shoshana’s Spectacular All-Purpose Tahini Sauce. The vegetables were carrots, green zucchini, and yellow zucchini, and the sauce recipe came from Sarah Kramer‘s book La Dolce Vegan. This was a solid dinner, though nothing out of this world. I did end up with some leftover sauce, though, and I’m excited to try it out with some other veggies throughout the week!

And those were my last few days in food! Hopefully I’ll have some more fun things to report in the upcoming week. Stay tuned!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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How Bout Dem Apples?

October 18, 2009

Today, I celebrated apples in the Lower East Side! There were vendors along Orchard Street and BabyCakes had some apple-themed items for the day.

I bought a bunch of apples from the Red Jacket Orchards table:

jablki

There are three different varieties here, but, unfortunately, I can only remember that the smallest are honeycrisp… The largest of these apples is gigantic. I took a picture of it with Brodie in order to give some sense of how large it really is.

sense of scale

Yeah, it’s bigger than his head. I also bought some plum jam from Red Jacket. The vendor told me this was the most popular flavor:

jam

I’m pretty excited about it. Maybe I’ll try some tonight…

Next, I headed over to BabyCakes! I ordered three things, but have only eaten two so far:

brownie bite

A brownie bite!

apple cinnamon toastie

And Apple Cornbread! (Amazing.)

I had some work to do, so I looked for a coffee shop to work in and enjoy some of my sweet treats! Luckily, I found a pretty crazy one. The Roasting Plant is like Willy Wonka’s Coffee Factory in miniature. My latte looks pretty tame:

coffee

But check out the view from my seat:

crazy coffee contraption

When coffee is ordered, the beans get shot up through these tubes across the ceiling to the machinery at the back of the store operated by hipsters behind very large macs. The coffee was pretty good, but the atmosphere was more interesting…

Now I think I better go try some of that jam… Have a happy Monday!

Until We Eat Again,

Caitlin

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Perfect for a work-filled Saturday morning!

October 17, 2009
Dearest et al.,

Since Willie’s departure for cooler climes, my life has been relatively uneventful. I have spent my days working and winnowing down the amount of Canadian Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge. I think I will have just enough time to recoup from the Canadian food coma to prepare myself for the American food coma next month…

Yesterday, I felt ready to bake and decided to veganize an old coffee cake recipe!

It's a bundt!

This is an old recipe I found from Mama Gorzelnik, an old family friend. The recipe in this post has both the vegan and non-vegan ingredients and should fit neatly into a standard nine-inch loaf pan. In order to make a gigantic bundt like I did, you should double the amounts I have in the recipe below. The full recipe definitely makes a lot of coffee cake, but as Mama Gorzelnik notes; this loaf freezes really well.

Mama Gorzelnik’s Veganizable Coffee Cake

Cake Ingredients

  • 1+3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour (or 2 cups All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 “egg” (I used flax eggs, but I think applesauce or mashed banana would work great!)
  • 1/4 cup Oil (I used EVOO since I had it on hand, but the I’m sure Mama G intended vegetable oil to be used)
  • 1 cup “buttermilk” (I used sour soy milk [soymilk+a little cider vinegar])
  • Cinnamon Sugar (I mixed 1/4 cup +2 tablespoons sugar and 1 heaping tablespoon of cinnamon)
  • Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
      2. Grease pan or line with parchment paper.
      3. Mix all dry ingredients (including sugar).
      4. Add oil, “eggs” and “buttermilk”
      5. Pour about a third of the batter into your pan and sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar on the layer.
      6. Continue to layer batter and cinnamon sugar until you’ve used all the batter and top with remaining cinnamon sugar.
      7. If you want to add a few bits of butter/margarine to the top feel free (I didn’t)
      8. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (if you go for the doubled bundt recipe it will take somewhere between and hour to an hour and fifteen minutes)
      9. Enjoy! It tastes especially delicious with a little tofutti cream cheese and, if you wanted to eat this more like a cake, cream cheese icing would be a great topper!

    Well, I hope you will enjoy this cake! In case you are not in a baking mood, maybe you will enjoy seeing some cute pictures?

    Brodie's New Coat

    The bird that woke me up this morning

    Until We Eat Again,
    Caitlin
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    Weekend Recap

    October 14, 2009

    Dear Internet,

    As all you regular readers already know, this weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting Caitlin in NYC! I have so many amazing food experiences to share with you all from our few days together, so let me start right in!

    Friday

    My bus left Toronto at 8:00 a.m. and didn’t arrive in NYC until 8:00 p.m. (two hours later than scheduled). I was very disappointed to have to wait an extra two hours to reunite with Caitlin, but the ride itself wasn’t that bad. I got a lot of reading done and listened to a couple podcasts. (Also, if any of you remember my last post and are curious about how my bus food packing turned out, it worked very well! The two Larabars I bought (pistachio and coconut creme pie) were super delicious and my two peanut hazelnut butter sandwiches made for a wonderful lunch!)

    When I finally did arrive, though, I was ready for a real meal, and Caitlin already had everything prepared for me (isn’t she a sweetheart?)! The dish for the night was 16 (or was it 18?) bean stew ratatouille served over polenta (cooked double-boiler method). It looked like this:

    Friday Polenta

    And it tasted wonderful! It was the perfect meal for the end of a long day of travel. Alongside this, I also got to have my first taste of Trader Joe’s wine!

    TJ's Wine

    Friday night we enjoyed the Savignon Blanc, and we had the Chardonnay on Saturday. I definitely preferred the Chardonnay, but since both bottles for only $3 each, I can’t really complain about either one. I wish I could find such cheap wine up here!

    Caitlin also had a special dessert prepared: Vegan Magic Cookie Bars!

    Friday Dessert

    These were so so so good. Caitlin used Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies as the base, which provided a nice little spicy cayenne kick along with the sweetness on top. So so so good!

    Saturday

    The next day we decided to spend the afternoon and early evening in the Upper West Side, having all sorts of fun. It started off with a small picnic lunch in Central Park, featuring open face tofu sandwiches!

    Saturday Sandwich

    A few notes: That’s Dave’s Killer Bread on the bottom there, which was absolutely killer in every way! You West Coasters are so lucky to have Dave’s Killer Bread (more) readily available. On top of that there’s some of this awesome mustard Caitlin had (sorry that I can’t remember the exact name / description). The tofu was fried in nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper beforehand. And on top of that is a Jersey tomato, with some alfalfa sprouts on top! We both had two of these delicious little guys, which made for a wonderful lunch date.

    After that, we did a lot of walking, with some sightseeing along the way. First, I found out that Canada has now invaded the streets of NYC!

    Tim Horton's

    We didn’t go inside, but it was nice to see a little piece of TO in NY. Next, we got to see this famous street corner:

    Restaurant

    I trust that everyone will recognize this.

    After this, we went to an awesome book store in the area, Book Culture. This store has, hands down, the best philosophy section I’ve ever seen (both sides of an entire aisle PLUS two bookshelves of new releases downstairs AND a corner of marked down remainders). It’s partly new, partly used, and I think it gets a lot of traffic for Columbia students and professors. I was able to pick up Bob Brandom’s new book (“Reason in Philosophy”) and a super cheap collection of Davidson essays.

    During our travels in the UWS, we also picked up ingredients for the night’s dinner, which was a wonderful quinoa-and-vegetable-and-dried-fruit-and-seed-stuffed acorn squash!

    Saturday Squash

    Along with this, we both enjoyed BIG salads, the perfect complement to any meal:

    Saturday Salad

    We were also able to pick up two bottles of Red Jacket Orchards apple juice, both flavors we’ve never tried before. First, Rhubarb Apple Juice…

    RJO Rhubarb

    This was good; the rhubarb gave the juice a nice little “green” flavor. Our second bottle was Cranberry Apple Cider…

    RJO Cranberry

    Also good, although I’m not the biggest fan of cranberries. We (mostly me) also had more of Caitlin’s delicious Vegan Magic Cookie Bars for dessert, and after that (and catching up on the new episodes of The Office we had missed) we called it a night.

    Sunday

    My third day in New York started off like any proper Sunday in the City should: sitting in a coffee shop doing the New York Times Sunday crossword with my favorite person in the world. The coffee shop in question is The Bean, a scrumptious little cafe in the Lower East Side.

    The Bean

    Caitlin got a Soy Latte while I got a Chai Latte, and those cute little dessert squares are a Toffee Almond and a Chocolate Hazelnut bar. As for the crossword, we nearly completed it, everything except for part of the upper left and the lower middle sections if I remember correctly. Overall, it was an enjoyable puzzle!

    Next we headed off to Tompkins Square Park. We were originally planning to go there for the New York Vegetarian Festival (or some such similarly titled event), but in the end the festival turned out to be sort of a non-event, but fortunately we did stumble upon a wonderful farmers’ market that was happening at the same time and place! We picked up several of the ingredients for that night’s dinner there and the rest at the nearby Whole Foods, and then proceeded to our final destination for the day: Babycakes!

    Babycakes is a wonderful little sweet-ery that specializes in 100% vegan desserts. We decided to have a little sampler of their offerings. First up, your standard chocolate cupcake:

    Babycakes Chocolate

    Good, but not great. Kind of tasted vegan-y, which is never a good sign. Next, a carrot cake cupcake:

    Babycakes Carrot

    Better, but more or less the same deal as the chocolate cupcake. Finally, a slice of Jalapeno Cornbread (sorry for the blurry photo!):

    Babycakes Cornbread

    A-MA-ZING! This little slice of bread was absolutely mouth-watering! It was incredibly soft and melty, and had the perfect amount of jalapeno spice in there to excite your palate. I would go back to Babycakes in a heartbeat just for this cornbread, but I would also like to try some of their other breads and perhaps some of their more special cupcakes and cookies.

    Our afternoon adventures complete, we headed back to Brooklyn to prepare Sunday’s sort-of-like-(Canadian)-Thanksgiving feast. The menu was an irresistible combination of corn, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, and mushroom gravy, and it looked something like this:

    Sunday Plate

    Major major props to Vegan Dad for providing the Roasted Mushroom Gravy recipe. This is perhaps one of the best vegan gravy recipes I’ve ever tasted, and it provided the perfect complement to our other dishes. The sweet potatoes were Caitlin’s signature coconut sweet potatoes recipe, the corn came straight from the farmers’ market, and the veggies came from all over—just take a look:

    Sunday Veggies

    We had another new Red Jacket Orchard’s juice along with this dinner, as well—their Spiced Apple Cider:

    RJO Cider

    Caitlin loved this, but it just too spicy for me! I guess I just prefer my apple cider more mild.

    But wait—that’s not all!

    Dessert for the night was a strawberry rhubarb pie that we bought at the farmers’ market.

    Sunday Pie

    Sunday Pie Slice

    This was Caitlin’s first ever rhubarb pie, and I think she liked it. I enjoyed it quite a bit as well. All in all, it was a very enjoyable, if somewhat untraditional, Thanksgiving dinner!

    Monday

    This was my last day in the city… but we didn’t let that get in the way of great food! My bus didn’t leave until 7:20 p.m., so we were able to squeeze in lots of good eats before I had to go.

    First came lunch, which we shared with Caitlin’s friend Germaine at JivamukTea Cafe! This is a wonderful cafe run in conjunction with a yoga studio that is 100% vegan and also 100% delicious. Caitlin and I started our lunch off with a bowl of Maharini Dahl:

    JivamukTea Dahl

    This was very tasty, and the perfect thing for that rather nippy day Monday turned out to be. For our main course, both Caitliln and I decided to get salads, which we split. I got the Seitan Salad (which, since they were out of seitan, became a Tempeh Salad) and Caitlin got the Montaña Salad (which, since they were out of avocados, didn’t come with its promised avocados). Here’re the pics:

    JivamukTea Salad 1

    JivamukTea Salad 2

    Both of these salads were really good (and appropriately huge), and their respective dressings (mustard vinaigrette and carrot ginger) were both excellent. However, I was a little disappointed with how similar they were. Both salads used exactly the same base of greens, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes; the only difference was the special topping. So although both bowls were very satisfying, I would’ve liked to see some more variety.

    Oh, and did I mentioned that we also had dessert?

    JivamukTea Desserts

    From left to right: Chocolate Rose Tea, Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookie, Coconut Green Tea, Red Velvet Cupcake, Chocolate Cupcake. All were super tasty, especially the teas.

    In the afternoon, Caitlin had a class to attend, and after she got out, we ran off to grab some dinner before I had to catch my bus. Our destination of choice: Max Brenner. You can tell that we were at Max Brenner because his face is on the napkins:

    MB Napkin

    For those that don’t know (like myself before Monday), Max Brenner is a popular establishment near Union Square, famous for its chocolate and desserts. But it also has a dinner menu, and a surprisingly vegetarian friendly one at that, which is what we first availed ourselves of. Unfortunately, the restaurant decided to majorly dim the lights while we were there, making picture-taking a difficult task. But I was able to salvage decent enough photos of our main courses, an Avocado Salad and an Asparagus Crepe.

    MB Salad

    MB Crepe

    Both dishes were good, but nothing out of this world. On the side, we also had a small plate of Black and Tan Battered Vidalia Onion Rings served with Dark Chocolate Ranch Dressing. The onion rings were very good, and so was the sauce, although the dark chocolate flavor was no as apparent as I had hoped.

    Finally, we split one of the desserts, Max’s famous Chocolate Pizza! My picture of this was nowhere near save-able, so you’ll have to content yourselves with this photo I found on the internet:

    Our pizza looked like the one on the bottom: melted chocolate with peanut butter and hazelnut crunchies on top. This was incredibly tasty! I really want to go back to Max Brenner to sample more of the desserts, as they have tons of them, which I’m sure are all equally as good.

    And that brings us to the end of this long, long post. As I hope you can tell, I had a wonderful time in NYC and can’t wait to go back (which won’t actually be in too long!). Thank you to Caitlin for picking out all our restaurant spots and preparing such wonderful food at home!

    We’ll be back with regular posts soon, so be sure to check back. In fact, I have some exciting dinner concoctions to report from tonight, but they will have to wait for another post and another day.

    Until we eat again,

    Willie

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    Kluski z Makiem!

    October 8, 2009

    Dzień Dobry!

    Don’t worry, this post won’t be in the polski! I thought I would post a small fun recipe today.

    This dish, Kluski z Makiem (egg noodles with poppy seeds), is a Polish classic, sort of… It was a common dish among the lower classes when there was rationing, but it is quite a delightful dish. Okay, I’ll be honest, not everyone is a fan of this dish, but it’s simple, quick and worth trying, because if you do like it, it’s a great go to dish when you are in a hurry and want something filling.

    IMG_4208

    Traditionally, this dish is made with egg pasta, poppy seeds, butter and sugar/honey. When I make it, I try to use egg-free pasta and, if I have a little time, I make my own pasta. This recipe is particularly tasty and simple: Fresh Vegan Pasta. The following recipe is my updated or “Nowy Świat” version.

    The proportions are really  to your taste, but I’ll give the basic guidelines:

    “Nowy Świat” Kluski z Makiem (for one serving)

    Ingredients:

    • about 1 cup “egg” noodles
    • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds (or more, a lot of traditional recipes call for A LOT of poppy seeds)
    • 1 + 1/2 – 2 tablespoons olive oil/earth balance
    • 2 tablespoons chopped crystalized ginger (or a tablespoon of agave)

    Instructions:

    1. cook pasta according to package (or recipe) instructions.
    2. heat oil/earth balance in a medium saucepan. Add poppy seeds and heat for a minute or two.
    3. mix in ginger (if using agave, save until later) then add pasta.
    4. Heat it all through and mix well.
    5. If using agave, pour it on top after you put it in the bowl.
    6. Smacznego!

    IMG_4209

    As Willie mentioned in his last post, he arrives in NYC tomorrow! This will probably mean lots of fun adventures to share within the next few days, so make sure to check in same bat time, same bat channel later!

    Until We Eat Again,

    Caitlin

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    Getting Ready!

    October 7, 2009

    Dear Caitlin,

    Yesterday I went to Kensington Market to buy some things for my rapidly approaching trip to NYC on Friday! I have a (hopefully no longer than) 10 hour bus ride to prepare for, and that’s a little too long to go without noms. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to bring fruits and other produce across the border, and although I could probably get by without being noticed, I’d rather not cause any problems. This means no fruit, no salad, and (just to be safe) no smoothie for the ride. There go all my mainstays. What’s a boy to do?

    Since I’m going to be sitting in a bus all day, I figure that eating a lot of crackers or cookies is not the best idea, so I’ve decided to pack light and only bring a few energy bars and a couple nut butter sandwiches. I’m hoping that this will be enough to stave off whatever hunger arises on my trip while not filling me up with a load of empty calories. We’ll just have to wait to see how this experiment turns out, but for now I can share with you the exciting things I’ll be bringing!

    First, I needed to get some new bread for my nut butter sandwiches. I went to My Market Bakery for the first time to find an appropriate loaf, and I was very pleased with the selection and the prices. The store was also right down the street from all the other stores I needed to go to, so it gets bonus points for location. Anyway, in the end I chose to go with their Flaxseed Loaf:

    P1020544

    I cut off a piece last night to try and was not disappointed. I think this will make a great sandwich bread!

    Side note: I also bought myself a cute little Portuguese loaf as a side for my dinner last night. It was light and fluffy and delicious and looked like this:

    P1020541

    Next up, I needed to get some new nut butter for my nut butter sandwiches. I’ve been very keen on the locals Nuts To You Nut Butter brand of nut butter. I’ve been very pleased by their organic peanut and tahini varieties, but yesterday I was in the mood for something new. Thankfully, Nuts To You offers many options, including combination nut butters! Once I saw this jar, I couldn’t resist:

    P1020550

    First off, I love peanuts and hazelnuts. Second, I love any product with the word “Mystery” in the title. It was an easy sell, especially for just $5. I tasted out a bit of this last night (you know, as “testing” before my trip) and I was very pleased. It basically tastes like Nutella without the chocolate and all the preservatives that are probably in Nutella. Anyway, it tastes amazing.

    By the way, I’m thinking of making (at least) two nut butter sandwiches: one with sultana raisins and one with agave nectar. Do those sound like good ideas? Do you have any others?

    Finally, here are the energy bars that will be accompanying me to New York:

    P1020566

    I’m excited to see how these taste! I’ve never tried any of them before!

    And that’s all I got. I don’t think I’ll get to post again before I get to NYC, and I’m not exactly sure what the blogging situation will be once I get there. But one thing’s for sure: there will be lots of awesome cooking and eating and photographing going on this weekend (that’s what happens when Caitlin and I get together), and it’ll all appear here sooner or later. Stay tuned.

    Until we eat again,

    Willie

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    I forgot something!

    October 4, 2009

    Sorry for the influx of posts tonight, but I wanted to share something I found at my parent’s house this weekend when I was looking for pjs. Now, I will warn you that the audience for this t-shirt is very small, but I do know that one member of this audience reads this blog, so she might get a kick out of it…

    IMG_4184

    🙂

    Until We Eat Again,

    Caitlin

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