Saturday

Busy enough today, for a Saturday.  I've got a load of towels washed, they are waiting to be hung.  Dozen number 10 of the chocolate chip cookies are just about ready to come out of the oven.  And I've gotten some computer work done.  And Colin's birthday party is all planned, just a small family party nothing crazy -at least it's being held at his parent's house so Grandma and I won't get stuck doing all the dishes afterward. 

What a difference a week makes.  I took this picture of Ella playing at the school that Grandma and Great Grandma attended.  Needless to say the cool play yard wasn't there then.  The school still has a boy's and girl's entrance, not that they are used that way anymore.  The school and in fact many of the buildings in Bowmanville were used for a tv show called 'Wind at My Back'.  It was neat to watch and try and pick out the buildings we knew.  Thursday and Friday we had snow, we've got about a foot of fresh stuff, though it's 5C out so it's very soggy snow today.

Steamed Brussels sprouts, mashed russet spuds and a hearty portion of steak and kidney pud for my birthday boy! Pass the Worcester sauce and Colman's mustard, please. I followed Delia's recipe to the letter. Next time I'm going to get more adventurous and add some thyme and maybe a use a can of beef broth instead of the water called for in the classic recipe. Birthday Boy was very pleased to have such an authentic British taste thrill on his special day!


Paul and I have decided to up our workout game. Before you congratulate us too much, all this means is that we are moving from a total sloth-like state to one in which we break a sweat on the treadmill every now and again (as an aside, winter needs to be over because I really and truly despise staring at a wall while I run).

I really know nothing at all about fitness. It's kind of embarrassing, actually. And I hate being sweaty (although I'm slowly learning to love the feeling that follows an extra long run).

I like eating though. I really, really like eating. And I hear a lot about the importance of protein post-workout. So while I am in plank position and spitting out every curse word that I have ever heard in my life (English or otherwise) I like to think about all the protein-rich food I get to eat at dinner.

My favourite in-YO-face-lovehandles-and-diabetes protein source is quinoa. We've been eating a lot of it lately. So, Thursday night was a Vegan Express night, with this quinoa-corn-scallions dish and an amazing, amazing, amazing combo of tempeh, veggies and miso mushroom gravy.

For the record, it's supposed to be a shiitake-miso and not a cremini-miso but I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the price of shiitakes last week and decided to improvise.

Kate & Sidney Pud


Check here for the recipe I'm making today! Really it's Steak & Kidney Pud, but Kate and Sidney Pud would be the Cockney Rhyming Slang name for this quintessentially British dish! But that colorful slang is a whole 'nother post, I think.

I've assembled all the ingredients and have fished out my huge steamer and if it all turns out well, there will be images of the final outcome tomorrow!

I was delighted to find an assortment of sizes of pudding bowls in my cupboards, but the one I'll be using is the 1.5 liter capacity size called for in Delia Smith's recipe. You say litre and I say liter ... Now don't get me going about American spelling. I'm used to centER and theatER after so many years! HonOR and ColOR still catch me short. I will confess that I still get annoyed at Christmastime when many of my favorite (yes, that's right, favORite) carols are sung to a different melody than the ones imprinted in my memory banks! I wonder if anyone knows how that spelling difference happened between US AND British written English. ( TomAYto, TomAHto, let's call the whole thing off...)

The bottle of rum in the picture has nothing to do with this recipe.






I never realized how talented the members of my church congregation were until last year when the  Activities Committee held a talent night.  There were a few of the expected performances of piano playing, singing etc from those that we knew to possess these talents.  It was the unexpected that made the evening so entertaining.
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  We follow a health code that includes not drinking alcohol and not smoking among other things.  With that in mind, you can imagine the horrified looks on the faces of the audience when a young woman brought her boyfriend to the festivities, guitar in hand, to perform "Whiskey Lullaby" (a song about a couple committing suicide by drinking themselves to death). She had not informed the organizer that she was even performing and was not on the program but he fit her in so as not to offend her.   I might add that this was a family event and there were a number of young children in the audience. There was some polite applause at the end of her song and then she announced they had another song to perform.  I heard my son mutter "I didn't hear anyone asking for an encore". I had to leave the room I was laughing so hard. 
The other highlight of the evening for me came when the emcee announced that "little Sarah(6) is going to show us her paintings".  I was sitting next to a little six year old girl and she turned to me, eyes wide, took a sharp intake of breath and exclaimed "oh!!!!!".  I thought at first she was surprised because she didn't realize that a talent could be showing your artwork.  Little Sarah held her paintings up for all to see and was thrilled with the applause that ensued.  The little girl sitting next to me let out a huge sigh of relief and revealed to me " I thought he said Sarah was going to show us her panties."  Again, I had to leave the room.

Next month, we will be holding a Talent Night again...  I can hardly wait.

Socks and more socks

I love knitting socks.  And I certainly love knitting them 2 at a time.  Sure beats having to start over after finishing the first one.  I use 2 circular needles, not the magic loop method.  It's a little awkward at first, but it's just because it's new.  Persevere and you have a great method for anything circular and in pairs.  I make sleeves this way and Ella's tights.  Tights are a great way to use up my bits and pieces left from other socks.  I think there are 4 different kinds in this pair.  They are great for skating and cool days.   I've even given in and started a pair of socks for Daddy.  It's out of fairly thick wool (for me anyway) and since they are two at a time, his size 11's aren't taking too long to make.  I have a pattern for a beautiful pair of stocking for me to make next (I hope).  I picked up some gorgeous blue/black alpaca when we were in Bowmanville.  Tina has so much wool it's hard to pick.  I love all the patterned sock wool Tina carries, but decided a solid wool would show off the pattern in the stockings.

Did I mention how much I love to knit socks  :)  Do you feel like I'm trying to convert you too  :)

As you can see, my chickens continue to lay well.  These are from the last few days.  All washed and ready to carton.  The larger, white eggs are likely double yolks.  We get quite a few of those.  The little tiny ones are from the Banty hens.  Ella loves to have those ones, they are perfect kid size.  My girlfriends from Knit Night like to buy them for hard boiled for their kids too.  I'm likely not going to Knit Night tonight.  We have been getting a fairly good snow fall all day.  If I do go it will be with Daddy's truck and not Grandma's cavalier.  You've seen this view before so you may remember that pipe is attached to our old water heater that's now buried  :)
Yes!!!! A bit of sleuthing on my part has turned up a supermarket that does have beef kidneys AND they sell beef suet! My brain has unfrozen, it seems, but the kidneys will be frozen, so I need to get a move on! Now if I could only remember where I stored my pudding basin...
I've been sidewiped by a dreaded 'lergy! Such a headcold! All I've done is lump about, waiting to feel better. Which I do today. Haven't felt like reading or crocheting or sewing or just about anything. Although I have been reading blogs and I have been watching Olympic competition on the telly, which I am now a bit sick of. I am looking forward to the Ladies Figure Skating contest tonight.

My husband has a very significant birthday tomorrow, so I need to hustle about figuring out something special to do. I've been trying to locate beef kidneys which nobody seems to have around here. His favorite English supper is steak and kidney pudding. He'll have to give me some new orders in that department. Or maybe I'll just have to whip up a steak and something-else pudding instead. Best nip over to Delia Smith's website to get some ideas!
We have plenty of fresh fish for today's market.  
Hope the weather is a bit better in the city.  Here it is snowing and a brisk north wind.  Winter is making another appearance.

The "But I Thought I Hated Salad" Salad



Veteran readers of this blog are probably well aware of my fussiness with regard to salads. I try not to hate things, but man have I hated some salads. I always found them quite boring and something you ate because it was good for you and not because you could ever possibly like something so monotonous.

Nowadays I am aware that just because something classifies as a salad it does not mean that it is good for you - take a look at what some fast food restaurants call salad. I have also learned that there are salad options other than simply drenching lettuce and cucumber in prepackaged Italian dressing. Yes, I have learned that even I, the former anti-salad advocate of the Great White North, can get excited about salad. Even in the dead of winter, when the last thing most of us up here want to do is eat cold vegetables.

I couldn't think of a decent name for this salad because of its somewhat diverse characteristics. It came to be after trying several similar recipes, but not being completely satisfied with the results. It's kind Waldorf-y in nature because of the fruit and vegetable combo, but there is no mayo (vegan or otherwise) present and so it's not a true Waldorf salad.

I'll just let you name it for yourselves. But really, I love this damn salad and I've never really felt this way about raw produce before, so I really think you should try it. It made a great companion to shepherd's pie at dinner the other night, but it's got so much flavour that it would even be great with nothing more than a couple slices of garlic bread.



The "But I Thought I Hated Salad" Salad

*Makes 4 large servings and 6-8 small servings

INGREDIENTS:

Salad:
4 cups baby spinach
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 orange (peeled and as much of the white skin as possible removed), chopped into bite size pieces
1 red delicious apple with peel, cored and chopped into bite size pieces
1/4 cup pecan or walnut pieces (go with pecan, if you can!)

* I wish I had discovered this gem for the holidays, because dried cranberries would go wonderfully. Raisins would, too!

Dressing:
1/8 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp raw cane sugar (agave nectar would also work, but decrease to 1 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp dried mustard
Hot sauce to taste (we used Frank's, and we used a lot)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Assemble the salad items.

2) Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Taste and see if you want to increase the hot sauce or the sugar.

3) Pour dressing over the salad mixture and toss thoroughly.


This is barely a recipe, it's so easy.

ioftheneedle at The Epcor Window Gallery



Check out the link for publicity about this exhibition and my part in it.
I hope to put up some images of the installations themselves shortly. The abstract image, shown above, is the end product of the works and a piece that is displayed in the exhibition space alongside installations of shibori stitched textile works.

This canvas is available for purchase - feel free to contact me if you are interested.
What a busy weekend!  That's my only complaint with going to Bowmanville, we seem to have so much to squeeze into such a short time.  We tried out Grandma's new GPS and headed to Auntie B's office (my old office).  Everyone was surprised and glad to see Ella.  We haven't been to the office since Ella was in the stroller.  I can't believe how everyone has aged!!  I guess it's not been good times in the stock market the last 7 years.  It was really nice to see my friends again, there sure are a lot of new faces.  My good friend was off Thursday, which was disappointing.  It cost us $20 to park downtown (just over an hour).  We stayed at Belinda and Stefan's house.  Uncle Stefan works for Elections Ontario and had to be away -Ella was very unhappy about that.  I don't know where Ella has come up with this face from, but it's appearing in more and more pictures lately  :)

Friday we just sort of hung around Belinda's house, after running a couple of errands.  We headed to Great Grandma's in the afternoon.  We had a small family party for Belinda and Ella.  It's hard to believe Belinda is 36.  I don't feel old -how can my little sister be that old? 

A couple Aunts and Uncles came by.  The one family was sick so thankfully stayed home.  Ella was very happy, she got a new pair of ballet slippers -her old ones were getting tight, but they are so expensive.   A special surprise for Ella, Uncle Stefan was able to get back from Ottawa/Brockville in time to catch the last half hour of the party.  Ella was so happy to see Uncle Stefan.  Momma was happy because she didn't have to drive Auntie Belinda back to Scarborough at night (I'm not comfortable driving in Scarborough/Toronto).

Saturday we met up with my girlfriend Charlynne, we've been friends since before kindergarten.  Unfortuately Corry (my friend since Brownies) was working and couldn't come, it was her b-day today too.  We met up at East Side Mario's and had a great time.  Charlynne brought her husband Andrew and her parents (Gregory too of course).  Grandma came with us and so we all had a really nice visit.  Ella likes seeing her friend 'Geggy'.  Gregory will be 7 in the fall, but gets along well with Ella.  I think it's because he's in Montessori school, not public school.

After lunch we headed over to the museum's family centre (the old library).  They have a great display up for Girl Guide's 100th Anniversary I remember going to the 75th anniversary celebration, how did we get to 100 already.  Charlynne was largely responsible for most of the displays.  Needless to say I'm in a lot of the pictures too  :)  Not too many pictures from the 'old days' didn't have the two of us in them.  We were both rather shy and so did everything together.  The kids had fun playing in the old tents.  These are almost like the tents we started camping in, except that ours had canvas floors not wooden ones.  They still had that canvas tent smell -lol.
The kids (and Andrew) built a tower of Girl Guide cookies, well the boxes anyway.  They did a good job, I didn't think they would get it as high as they did.  We spent a good couple hours at the library.  Then we said our goodbyes and we headed over to the big Chapter's -Momma can't pass up the opportunity to rummage around a big book store.  Ella doesn't mind either because they have Thomas the Train set to play with in the kid's section (and a chair for Grandma).

Sunday we headed home, but first we stopped by Grandpa Jim and Grandma Linda's house.  Unfortunately, we couldn't go until 3 because Linda was working.  But it was Grandpa Jim's 65th birthday on Tuesday so we went for a visit.  Ella has such fun playing with their two King Charles spaniels -they exhaust each other  :)  We ended up going out for supper so we had a very late drive home.  It's 3 hours from Peterborough to home.  We got home just about 11pm. 


All in all a really good weekend.  And after today's board meeting, that should be the end of the craziness.  I'll be able to stay home and get some work/sewing done.
Better late than never.  Check out this week's menu.

THE TALENTED MR. IAN




I fear that if I continue to blog about my dear husband, I will not  remain married for long but tonight I just cannot help myself.  Here is the gist of a conversation we had last night.

Me (coming into the bedroom, finding him with remote in hand).  "Whatcha watching?"

Ian: "The Talented Mr. Ripley."

Me: "Really???"

"Yes,  why have you seen it?'

"No, but you have."

"No I haven't."

"Ah yes you have, a long time ago, you didn't like it and you told me not to bother watching it, that I wouldn't like it either."

"I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it."

I will interject at this point and tell you that this is the same man whom in the space of a year rented the same movie four times telling me it must be a good one because it had both Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson in it.  It wasn't.  The fourth time he brought it home, I thought  he was joking.  He wasn't.   Back to our conversation.

"Trust me Ian, you've seen it and anyway I thought you'd be watching the hockey game. (Canada vs US Olympic game)

"It's not on"

"Yes it is.  It started at seven forty"

"Well we don't get it then"

"What do you mean?"

"I've been through the channels and I'm telling you we don't get it."

"We've been getting the other olympic events so I'm pretty sure we get it." I take the remote from his hands, scroll through the guide, click on a channel and voila! the hockey game appears on the screen.  He is suitably impressed with my channel finding skills.


Fast forward to tonight.

Ian: " I watched the rest of that movie last night in between watching the game. "(Such a man thing.)

"Did you remember having seen it?"

"No, but I didn't like it... you wouldn't either."


I'm not really "up" on veg*n literature and media. I still have yet to get through all of Earthlings. While I can say that I was a herbivore in-the-making for years, believe it or not watching and then reading Fast Food Nation was what finally pushed me to go vegetarian. And that is as moderate as it gets, as Eric Schlosser isn't even vegetarian. It was only after I was vegetarian that I had more direct contact with literature on the horrors of the factory farm and its implications for human rights and the environment. (For the record, what finally turned me vegan was a plate of 3-cheese nachos at the beach that made me violently, violently ill).

I know I should be more aware of the research and I try to be. I was far more active in this regard when I very first embarked on veg*sm, as I needed to learn and I needed to stay motivated. Watching a chicken get her beak ripped off makes one a lot less likely to stop at KFC for dinner (at least I hope it does?).

I just have a very strong emotional and physiological reaction when interacting with the information. It makes me distressed and depressed (like it should, really). It garners within me not only a sense of helplessness but also puts me in a state of hostility toward the way our world works. Neither of which I believe are healthy or productive to promoting something I am so passionate about. I know this is not an appropriate excuse. If an omnivore told me that learning about factory farming makes them uncomfortable I would tell them to suck it up buttercup - if they wanted to continue supporting the industry by eating meat and dairy or, alternatively, stop eating meat and dairy.

If you're vegan, is it okay if you're not up-to-date on all the animal cruelty information that exists? If it makes you hostile and disenchanted, like it does me?

While I like to think of myself as having a right to not suffer psychological discomfort because I already AM vegan, I am aware that this logic is flawed and there is always more we can be doing for the causes we believe in. And I am flawed. But know that I am trying, even if it is just a matter of keeping this silly little blog to show people that we vegans love to eat and have fun and carry on like everyone else...my mission here is nothing more than showing people that going vegan is not an impossibility, nor is it difficult. And in the meantime I am so thankful for the men and women out there that are much stronger than I, that are either more psychologically stable or are more willing to sacrifice that sense of comfort in order to get our message out there. I am inspired, everyday.

I had been meaning to read this particular contribution to veg*n research since it came out a few months ago and have finally gotten around to it. I wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't sure how extreme or moderate it would be. I was scared it was going to be really graphic (which at times it is, although not as much as other vegan literary works). But Jonathan Safran Foer is one of my favourite fiction authors (Everything is Illuminated is so, so, so incredible) and when I learned he was writing a book called Eating Animals I knew it was something I couldn't miss.

The book details much of which most of us vegans already know (but the general public may not) - the horrific conditions of factory farms, the shit that's in the meat people consume on a daily basis (what I say shit I am not being crass, I literally mean shit), the resulting environmental degradation and the devastating impact on human health and wellbeing. He also touches on the outright ridiculousness of such terms as "free range" and "family farm" (which more often than not actually stand for the direct opposite of that which you think they stand for).

What I particularly appreciate about this book is Foer's control and his attempts at respect for those he is working with, regardless of their particular stances. This is by no means an easy task, especially for someone who, by virtue of embarking on this research, comes to them with a particular stance on a certain issue. Personally, I'm not sure how I would react confronting a rancher as he is hauling cattle off to a slaughterhouse. While (to my knowledge) Foer is vegetarian (and not vegan), I still think this book raises very important questions yet is not hostile in the slightest and is subsequently more easily accessible to mainstream (read: non-vegan) audiences. A characteristic I find very important, as we vegans often build walls around ourselves, rendering us difficult to approach at times.

His moderate stance may be a source of criticism among other vegans, but I find it to be a strength in this case. Foer is inquisitive but respectful and does his best to represent the vegan - vegetarian - animal welfare advocate - omnivore (and whatever else) spectrum. As opposed to the black-or-white notion that vegans and omnivores always have been and always will be polar opposites, Foer talks with a vegetarian rancher and a vegan slaughterhouse builder (which I admit I scoffed at when reading the chapter headings but closed the book with a far less extreme response) and a host of folks in between that are omnivores but fight diligently for legitimately humane treatment for the animals our society demands to eat.

There has been some criticism regarding Foer's focus on his own thoughts and feelings as he engaged in this research as opposted to strict statistics, facts and discussions on ethics. Maybe it's because I'm a blogger and spend my time here discussing my own experiences and thoughts (as opposed to any kind of scientific research), but I like this aspect of his book. I find it personable. It shows personal struggle: a new father grappling with the issues we all encounter three times a day when we sit down to eat. I don't think it's fair to fault him for this.

I really appreciated the struggles he faced regarding dietary choices as a result of becoming a father. I don't have children, but I would imagine when you have a baby you take nothing for granted. You take no one's word for it. You want to provide the best possible life for that child and you begin thinking about things you didn't think about before. Foer, like pretty much every other parent, is asking these questions because he wants to provide for his son, not necessarily because he wants to start a revolution. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to survive and be good. No matter how often you were told how special you were as a kid, the god honest truth is that the vast majority of us are just average. Ordinary. Most of us aren't going to change the world. But we have the capacity to change OUR worlds and the worlds of those around us, those we love, our children. There is no fault in trying to genuinely take care of your family and admit that that is your purpose for taking part in what you take part in, as Foer does within this book.

Questioning giving meat and dairy to children is a very recent phenomenon and still far from the norm, so while we vegans think of Foer as a moderate, I'd imagine the majority of the public would consider him an extremist liberal for not feeding his child meat. I can't count how many newspaper articles I've read equating veganism with neglect - yet no one questions the hormone and antibiotic-laden food-esque substances we attain at the drive thru and supermarket freezer aisle that we willingly allow our children to consume on a weekly, often daily, basis. Foer serves as a voice for all of us trying to make the best decisions for our families, even though the best decision is not always the one we like the most or the one that is easiest to achieve.

What I find to be a particular strength of this book is Foer's acknowledgement of eating as a profoundly social act. All of our stories, the ones signifying who we are and where we came from, in some way or another pay hommage to the act of breaking bread. Because eating is so definitive of our history, our culture and our identity, deciding to refrain from eating those things that once were a part of the very fiber that makes you YOU means breaking tradition. And often grieving the loss of that tradition.

Changing the way you eat means changing who you are. It means calling attention to yourself as someone who has changed; it means potentially offending the people who you love and who love you and are showing you their love by giving you a plate of food that you ate your whole life but now have decided not to. Being vegan means I'll never get to have my grandma's schnitzel again, or my sister-in-law's Christmas turkey, or my mom's rolo cheesecake, things that came to define certain times and events in my life. While we vegans often keep our guard up regarding how we feel about sacrifice (in an effort to keep the "veganism is so hard" claims at bay) and instead focus on how awesome veganism is (and it is), I think it is fair for us to grieve the loss of certain aspects of ourselves while celebrating our new life paths.

I developed an interest in going vegetarian (and later vegan) as an extension of my stance on human rights, only to later develop an awareness of animal issues. As such, I am deeply offended when someone asks me how I can care more about animals than I do about people. It surprises me that people fail to see the connections between our overly indulgent western factory-farmed-meat-based diet and the plight of millions of humans in the developing world. And the abuses of the poor right here at home in the name of providing cheap meat. And the abuses of those not-so-poor who are now test subjects in the "how much crap can we put in this and still call it food" corporate experiment. I thoroughly appreciate Foer's focus on not only animal rights, but the profound connection between animal rights and human rights.

The time of ignorance is over. There is enough literature out there now (if Foer is too moderate for you, try Slaughterhouse). We have now moved into a time of indifference - or have we all? Foer reminds us that history is not destiny, and we vote for the treatment of animals (and the treatment of our environment and the treatment of ourselves and other humans) with our forks.

Although he is not vegan (and I hope he'll consider it in the future), I give this book the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval. I recommend books to people all the time, and if you only take one of my suggestions, please let it be this one. If you live in the area I'll happily lend you my copy so that you can read it (just ignore the rainbow of highlighted sentences and my sloppy writing in the margins). Also check out Everything is Illuminated, because it is just so cool.

D'S ADVENTURE


Ian has told me that if I continue to blog about my friends, I soon won't have any left. Oh please, does he not  know how many friends I have? ... and anyway, I do try to keep their identity hidden although some of my friends are rather unique characters so those that know them can easily guess who I am talking about.  I did however get permission to share this story and I hope I can do it justice.

My friend D had not been feeling very well of late.  She had been experiencing bouts of dizziness and decided that she would go and get it seen to.  It's here that I have to mention that the city we live in has two hospitals.  They are both pretty old and outdated and we are all anxious for the brand new, state of the art hospital to open early next year.

D decided to walk (she doesn't drive) to the hospital to be seen at the emergency department.  Upon arrival at the hospital she discovered that the one she was at didn't have an emergency department.  The hospital with the emergency department was only a few blocks away but D was exhausted from all the walking she had done and didn't relish the thought of walking that little bit more and sitting in the emergency department for a few hours.

 "I think I'm having a stroke" she announced to the person at the front desk.  Seeing her limp arm and awkward gait, the person immediately called for an ambulance and D was driven the few blocks to the other hospital  where she bypassed all the other patients sitting in the waiting room and was tended to right away.  The dizziness she had been experiencing was caused by fluid in the inner ear, and apparently the jostling and bumping from the ride in the ambulance while lying prone fixed the problem. She was perfectly fine.

You are probably at this point wondering 'when does this story get funny?'   D suffered a stroke when she was just ten years old that left her paralyzed on one side of her body. (Okay, I know that's not funny) The fact that she used this to her advantage, creating panic all around her, to me was brilliant.  Well done D, well done.



Ready for Wychwood's Market

The fish are all ready for market tomorrow.  We have plenty of smoked and some fresh fish. 
We are off to bed and up soon to start our trip down to the city. 
See you all soon.
Two very easy ways to clean out your refrigerator crisper:



Ever since I began making soups fresh, I have found myself repulsed by canned soups (with the exception of Amy's Organic, especially the Minestrone and the Lentil!). Why do canned soups all taste the same, regardless of the flavour? And why the hell is Campbell's "vegetable soup" made with beef broth?! Not to mention my particular peeved-ness regarding the leniency with which "health checks" are handed out to products.

I like to make fancier soups (like roasted garlic and miso butternut squash) but sometimes you just want something hearty on a cold day. And sometimes you have several veggies with highly questionable freshness left over from last week's grocery run and you need to use them up immediately. That is what happened here.

Carrots, celery, a tomato, kidney beans, onion, mushrooms, leftover roasted butternut squash from the night before. And barley, because nothing says "Hey it's winter let's put some hair on that chest!" quite like barley. In an organic veggie stock, with some dried dill and fresh cracked black pepper thrown in for good measure at the end. This is very loosely based on a recipe found in Vegan Soups & Hearty Stews for All Seasons, but I had to improvise because it was Day 8 without a trip to the supermarket and our fridge and pantry were looking pretty pitiful.



This rice dish is from How it All Vegan and it is referred to as "Kieran's Favorite Rice", after a child the authors know. I don't know Kieran, and so I thought it would be a tad creepy for me to refer to this as "Kieran's Favorite Rice". So I'm instead going to call it "Everything But the Kitchen Sink" rice. It's another fridge-cleaner, as you can put pretty much any vegetable you're looking to get rid of into the mix and it will be fine. Except maybe rutabaga. That would be weird.

This is a very plain dish, involving minimal spice and ingredients and I think that is the best part about it. I can see why Kieran likes it so much, as it is a great way to get children and other notoriously picky eaters to consume some veggies while not freaking out because "omggzzz vegans eat SUCH weird things!". It is absolutely perfect for someone who is transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and has no idea what nutritional yeast, miso paste, wheat gluten and tempeh are (ah, wasn't it just yesterday that I didn't know you needed to COOK dried lentils before using them?). I really like How It All Vegan for its simplicity with regard to ingredients and I think it makes a perfect transition or vegan family cookbook.

LOVE NOTES

I am not allowed to put things on my fridge.  Wait, let me rephrase that.  Ian prefers that I not put things on the fridge.  I get no sympathy when I bemoan the fact that all my friends have photos of their kids and grandkids slathered all over theirs.  I felt like I scored a small victory a couple of years ago when he relented a little and made the compromise to allow small souvenir magnets from places we have visited to be placed on the side of the fridge(the side no one can see).


 A year ago I was feeling particularly daring and I purchased a set of valentine phrase magnets from the dollar store and placed them right on the front of the fridge.  Ian was not impressed but said he could put up with them but just until Valentine's Day was over.  I left him little notes.  The kids came home for the family day weekend and we all left little notes on the fridge.  The day after Valentine's Day Ian asked if he could throw them out.  I protested saying I would take them down but they were not to be thrown out,  I would save them for the next year.  It was at this point that he gave me his little smirk.  Most would read this expression as "as soon as you're not paying attention, I'm turfing them out".  I knew otherwise.  What he really meant was " I know you, you won't have a clue where you put them a year from now."  It was all good, we were both happy.
I put them in a safe place and miracle of miracles, I remembered where that spot was...

and miracle of miracles he left me a message.


Fresh Fish for Dufferin Tomorrow....

I just finished getting ready for market.  We have fresh fish.  Andrew made it out today and was able to lift his nets.  It was pretty rough out on the bay today but from the shore it looked fine.  Forget how just a few hundred yards out on to the water can make such a difference in wave height. 
We don't have a large amount of fresh but some anyways.  This time of year it is hard to get out and we are just happy to fish when nature allows. 
Andrew says it looks like the weather may hold and then he can get out fishing again on Friday.  Saturday morning at Wychwoods market he hopes to have more fresh.  I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed. 


Today is Ash Wednesday. Meaning yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, better known as Fat Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday. And I completely forgot about it until I saw "PancakeDay" trending on Twitter.

(It appears that social networking is beginning to infultrate all levels of my awareness. It's like something doesn't exist until someone has tweeted about it. I feel very sorry for myself.)

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the official start of Lent. It's dubbed Fat Tuesday because it allows for one last day of gluttony before fasting for the forty days preceding Easter. Pancake Tuesday came about because (apparently) back in the day people used Fat Tuesday to get rid of all the items that would spoil over Lent (things like eggs, milk, lard - yes, I said LARD - which can be conducive to pancake-making, and heart attacks, but are not our concern here).

While I am a self-declared agnostic these days, I was raised in the Catholic Church AND the Catholic school system here in southern Ontario (both elementary school and high school) and so I didn't even have to look that information up. Every year, Lent and Easter were the big show for us Catholics.

I'm not sure if anyone out there does a full-on Lenten fast anymore. I'm sure some people do. When I was growing up it wasn't really a fast at all, you just weren't supposed to eat mammals or birds on Fridays. God apparently doesn't care about fish though, because you could eat all the sea creatures you wanted. Not that any of this is about God caring; it's about people sacrificing to acknowledge and mimic the struggles Jesus had while wandering the desert. Which is kind of weird, actually, because how many fish are there in the desert? And what about all the animals that are forced to sacrifice the other 325 days of the year? And why don't fish get a 40-day break too? These questions plagued me even when I was little, and long before I was a vegan.

(Tracy Jordan said it best, I think, when asked why Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays: "I'll tell you why. Because the Pope owns Long John Silvers.")

If I sound a wee bit hostile about this it's because I am. I partially blame this mentality of "You can have all the fish you want on Fridays and God will still love you, just no chickens/cows/pigs/etc." for encouraging people to be ambivalent toward the slaughter of fish AND for making people think that vegetarians eat fish, complicating our already complicated restaurant experiences (the actual term for one who eats fish but abstains from other types of meat is pescetarian). Plus, out of all of the auto-responses people contribute to vegan debates, "God gave us animals so that we could eat them" is my least favourite.

And to be silly for a mere moment, according to these rules we vegans are "fasting" all the time (not just during Lent and not just during FRIDAYS of Lent or whatever the rules of today may be). So, I'm going to to take this opportunity to equate veganism with a higher level of Catholic godliness. A small reward for having to repeatedly say, "No, I don't eat fish" throughout the course of our lives. Fair, yes?

As an aside I do know of practicing Christian/Catholic veg*ns who are similarly disturbed by this disregard for sea creatures among their religious counterparts and so I hope this will not be taken as me hating on religion. Check out the Christian Vegetarian Association for more on veg*n Christianity (they have done some amazing work). Like I said I identify as an agnostic and that in and of itself is a religious standpoint of some sort so I can't get too down on religion. I just like the opportunity to rant under the guise of sweets.

And so, back to growing up Catholic/eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. You still with me?

In elementary school we were encouraged to "give something up" for Lent, in lieu of the fast that no one really does anymore. So, on Shrove Tuesday we would not only have pancakes, but also contemplate what it was we were going to abstain from for the following 40 days. Candy was a popular choice among the kids. In the third grade I distinctly remember writing "I will abstain from watching Beverly Hills, 90210 for Lent" on the little pieces of perferated construction paper they handed out to us. That lasted all of two days. I'm fairly certain that I was destined to be irreligious from a very young age, as I also remember declaring one Shrove Tuesday that I was going to give up going to church for Lent. I got told, very curtly, that it "doesn't work that way".

While I can be a harsh critic of Catholicism more often than not, I do have some fond memories of growing up in the Catholic school system and I suppose I picked up on some religiously-based life lessons that I still carry with me today. But these days, the only Catholic thing about me is my excitement over pancakes on the Tuesday before Lent. And even that couldn't get me going this year, as I was feeling very lazy when I saw Pancake Day trending and decided I was going to skip out on it this year.

Paul, however, never misses a beat when it comes to breakfast food and took it upon himself to make some whole wheat and flax mixed berry pancakes.

And so your reward for listening to my religiously-oriented (and somewhat off topic) ranting is a recipe for the best pancakes EVER!

Whole Wheat-Flax-Mixed Berry-Banana-Pancake Batter

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
2 tbsp raw cane sugar
2 heaping tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups rice milk (or vanilla rice milk, or other non-dairy milk, or a combination)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mixed frozen berries (we used blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries)
1 ripe banana (mashed)

Canola oil (for greasing the frying pan)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Combine all dry ingredients (EXCEPT the flaxseeds) and set aside.

2) In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vanilla and flax seeds and whip until somewhat smooth (you can do this in a blender or food processor if you want, but it's not necessary and just creates extra dirty dishes. We didn't and it turned out fine).

3) Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once combined, gently fold in the fruit.

4) Lightly oil a frying pan over medium-high heat. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake and place in the pan. Allow each side to brown (each stove/pan combo works differently - be sure to keep an eye on these buggers!).

5) Serve hot, topped with agave nectar or maple syrup.


(I am of the agave school. Paul prefers maple syrup. It's a good thing we don't have children, how on earth would we raise them?)
I've been sucked into the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games for the past few days. It's all going on a couple of hundred miles from here. The broadcasts at night are going so late that I'm falling asleep before the end of the programming. I'm intrigued by some of the newer sports, like snowboarding; I am particularly fond of the figure skating; I was saddened by the death of the young Georgian luge athlete; I am admiring the camaraderie between the athletes.

I'm crocheting away on my granny squares as I listen to the overloaded commentary. The sports journalists have outdone themselves with tons of back stories about the athletes. All quite fascinating fill material but I say 'On with the sports action!' I'm getting pretty fed up with all the medal counting that's going on. I think some of these commentators just don't get the concept of the Olympic spirit. I know, someone's got to win the shiny medal, but ...

... I think Winston Churchill said it best: 'Play the game for more than you can afford to lose ... only then will you learn the game.'

Grantland Rice, the great sportswriter once said, 'It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.'

Andrew went fishing today

Andrew was out first thing this morning to go fishing.  So today was the first day since we put down the tile that we did fresh fish.  The tiles cleaned up lovely and easily.  I was able to pinbone the fish and freeze it up.  I hope to have fresh for Wednesday but if not we have a bit of frozen.
We have fish ready to put on the smoker tomorrow so we will be at Dufferin Market this week.  We had one salmon to put into the brines.  Hopefully the weather will hold so we hopefully have fresh.  Hoping for good weather on Wednesday.
Hope everyone had a good Family Day.  We had a quiet one and had fun doing some fresh fish.  The bay, Andrew told me was beautiful and quiet. 


I have always had a strange relationship with Valentine's Day. As a teenager without a boyfriend I lamented the day away, harping at its commercialism and propensity to make us feel like crap about ourselves...stemming from the fact that that lousy Nick Carter simply refused to realize how great we would be together.

As a teenager with a boyfriend, candy grams sent to my homeroom gave me an heir of importance that I assure you I did not deserve and in turn lead me to believe that all those who hated V-Day were simply Bitter Bettys trying to bring us all down.

As a university student I had my first interaction with feminist literature and was thus vehemently opposed to and appalled by Valentine's Day as an extension of my Damning the Man (my senior year Sociology of Women seminar nicknamed February 14 'Heterosexist Monogamist Day', an alternative title for Cupid's Day that I'm still quite fond of and have been known to throw around, years later).

As a married woman teetering on the verge of her late 20s (gulp) I have scrapped all these extremes and am quite indifferent with regard to Saint Valentine.

I do tend to think of V-Day as a time for the new love bugs. And those who have and like to spend money. Neither of which are we. We're an old (and extremely cheap) married couple who spend their time complaining about how much it costs to see movies "these days" ($10 a person?! For real?! We wait until they come out on DVD, and then we will ONLY rent them from the corner store where they charge $2 per night).

We haven't done major gifts for Valentine's Day in years. Although, once upon a time (during the 'Heterosexist Monogamist Day' era, I believe) I commented on the cliche of buying red roses on Valentine's Day. I believe I referred to them as "uncreative", an "easy way out", and "so common that they even sell them at gas stations in February". And it never fails, every year since those words came out of my mouth, Paul comes home on Valentine's Day with a dozen red roses that he swears he bought at the gas station down the road.

I'll let you in on a little secret though....I sorta have a thing for long stem red roses. I always have. Even during the Heterosexist Monogamist Day era. I love them because they are as cliche as hotel rooms on prom night. They were the first flowers ever given to me by a boy and receiving them makes me feel like I'm a teenager again. But shhhhh...don't tell Paul.

I had planned to make a fairly uneventful dinner at home but Paul demanded that we go out and try Classic Indian in Waterloo, a restaurant we have been dying to try since Paul sold a house in the neighbourhood (and came home after every open house raving about how good it smells when you drive by).



Unfortunately, the pictures aren't very great and the ones of our main meals didn't come out at all. The restaurant was very dimly lit and there were a few couples around us having nice romantic dinners. Paul and I were already causing a bit of a scene freaking out about how great the food was, so I didn't want to also be the girl who ruined everyone's night by using the flash on her camera.

Our basic plan of attack when trying a new restaurant is this: get as much food as possible and make our own little buffet line on the table between the two of us. It's usually a few appetizers and then a couple entrees, which we then share, so that neither of us is sad if the other one picks the more delicious item.

They actually had to bring us a second table to fit everything we ordered. So when I say that we were causing a bit of a scene, I really do mean that we were causing a bit of a scene.



Masala Vada - South Indian falafel made with lentils



Onion Bhajias [Paul and I ate this so fast. I think we were both concerned that the other one was going to get to have more]



Vegetable Samosas [I've never been the biggest fan of samosas, and I think it's because the ones I have tried in the past have come from the freezer aisle...I am officially a convert]



For our mains, I got the Chenna Masala and Paul got the Veggie Madras. We loved them both but there's a special place in our hearts for the chenna masala. All of this amazing food (three appetizers and two entrees), plus a side order of naan and basmati rice came to only $40, so our frugal hearts were satisfied.

All of their food is made fresh. You can see them cooking it from behind the counter. The wait staff not only helped us pick out vegan options (of which there were an insane amount to choose from), but they also let us know that because everything is made fresh, meat and dairy items could always be left out if there was something that wasn't on the vegetarian menu that we wanted to try.

Much vegan love to Classic Indian. It goes without saying that this restaurant gets the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval.

Classic Indian
150 Wissler Road
Waterloo, ON N2K 3C6
(519) 746-1976


After dinner we headed home to a bottle of sparkling wine and a rousing round of Scattegories (I love board games. Paul hates them. He appeased me because it was Valentine's Day). I wasn't exaggerating when I said that we are an old married couple.



Dear Jackson Triggs: thank you for not using gelatin to
filter your wines.


And while I'm not much for extravagance on V-Day, I do like any excuse to bake. And buy insanely overpriced strawberries in the dead of winter just because they are red and they go with the theme of things. I love themes!



(Heart-Shaped) Strawberry Shortcake Scones with a Macadamia Creme, from Vegan with a Vengeance.


So, Heterosexist Monogamist Day '10 was pretty awesome. And I totally schooled Paul at Scattegories even though I had way more wine, so that makes it even more awesome.
Monday is here again.  Our new menu is up, but since we are heading to Bowmanville it's a fairly brief menu.

A couple pictures and a mini-update!

Hello friends!

I'm just at a little coffee shop and I thought I'd give a short update.  :-)  This past week was our home group study project week, and we all did study projects on various minor prophets and then presented them to our small home groups, and for our party after all our projects were presented, we dressed up 80s-ish and played games.  SO FUN!  Here we are...


And we got to go visit a school and have fun with a bunch of kids, so here is me with a very sweet little girl that I spent the day with.  :-)


Adorable and awesome stuff.  :-)  Last night a few of us girls got invited over to one of the single staff ladies' houses, and we all chatted and watched the newer Pride and Prejudice, and just had a lovely time.  God is amazing to provide all these neat relationships with people around me.  I am so happy.  There are still daily challenges I deal with, yet God is gracious in helping me to work through them. 

Lots of hugs to everyone,
Sheila

Potato & Tempeh Sausage Pizza



Superbowl Sunday, aka Gorge-Yourself-With-Pizza-Day has come and gone for another year. We, like the rest of North America, had a Superbowl party that we attended and I didn't think ahead and order myself a cheeseless pizza. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I did think ahead, but I figured pizza wasn't what I wanted and Paul and I opted for veggie burgers and fries instead.

I immediately regreted my decision once the cardboard boxes started opening up. Not that the veggie burgers weren't good too. But there is something about pizza and Superbowl Sunday (I talk like I actually know something about football, when in actuality this is only the second time I have watched a Superbowl game in my entire life).

So, it was decided on Sunday night that Monday's dinner would have to be pizza of some sort, to subside the cravings that coincided with watching a game I know nothing at all about, except that it provides an excuse to take a minute and worship the greatness that is the pizza pie.

While it was undeniably a pizza craving I was experiencing (you know, the one where everything else you attempt to eat tastes like absolute piss just because it's not pizza), I was interested in something a little different than a standard issue veggie pizza. A frequenter of the foodie blogosphere, I have noticed a trend in unconventional pizza toppings in recent years. Because we vegans tend to march to the beat of our own drum, I like to think of us as forerunners in pizza-loving reform. A favourite vegan pizza topping? Potato!

I consulted my trusty copy of Vegan with a Vengeance, because Isa provides a stellar recipe for perfectly executed potato pizza, topped off with a spicy tempeh sausage medley that will make you wonder why you ever missed pepperoni. I don't know if anyone sells prepackaged tempeh sausage, but you really don't need it, as there is a recipe that is as easy as it is incredible available right within Vegan with a Vengeance (and it involves little more than a package of tempeh and some herbs/spices). Make a little extra and use the leftovers as a sandwich filler!



Admittedly I was a little nervous about this recipe, as the pizza only bakes for about 8 minutes. Having failed miserably at many a potato-baking extravaganza, I have learned that it takes a heck of a lot longer than 8 minutes to appropriately cook the little buggers. But, I put my trust in Isa, as she knows far more than I do.

Turns out the potatoes do stay a smidge harder than they would were you cooking a standard potato dish. BUT that is what gives the pizza that unique, what-could-that-possibly-be? element, while avoiding the mushy mess that potato dishes often turn into.

Other than making the dough, this pizza comes together very quickly. I barely had time to toss together a caesar salad and wipe down the countertops (you should see what a mess of the kitchen I make when tossing pizza dough). It may have been a day too late for Superbowl madness, but I think it was worth the wait.

Luckily we missed out on all that snow that our neighbours to the south have gotten recently.   I must say, the pictures I have seen certainly have been beautiful.  But I do feel sorry for all those folks who aren't used to all that shovelling.  We don't need any snow right now, in fact we could still melt a bit more.   Colin is running out of corn in the bins and they need to head out to the field with the combine.  Unfortunately, the corn is really good at holding the snow.  What we could use right now is some warmer weather.  As much as I have been enjoying the sunshine -great for the February blues -I am tired of the cold.  Today isn't too bad, it's only 12F with a windchill of -1F.  It was rather cold at the arena today.  I should have worn my scarf.

Working on Dufferin's Market

Finally the tiling in the main processing area and bathroom is done.....    I have done some difficult things in this renovaton job but tiling almost took the cake...  It is right up there with drywalling.  But the inspector paid us a visit today and he seemed happy with it.  I had hoped so for between the truck repairs and the time it took us to do the tiling we almost gave up.  But almost is the key word for we are fighting on. 
We are right now trying to prepare for Dufferin's Market this Thursday.  It looks like we should be there.
The house is quiet right now and just trying to relax after a busy day.  I was just looking in our fridge and saw some mushrooms of some sort (they are quite large) that need to be used tomorrow.  Wonder if I could figure out how to do homemade mushroom soup?  (Yum) I am not that great or even good as a cook but I have to figure it out or something else to do with the mushrooms.  I think there is also a celery root.  Hummm...   I guess I need to get somewhat creative for dinner tomorrow.  Or even a better idea is to let Andrew figure it out for he actually can cook.  I think that is the way I will go and then I can go to ski practice with the boys.  On that note I should let our puppy out one more time and then go to bed. 
It was Titus who did a post about Greta Garbo, NOT Willow! Sorry for my confusion ladies!
New menu is up and ready for this week.  Luckily most of the craziness is done.
On her blog the other day, Willow posted some great photographs of the legendary Greta Garbo. She even showed a unique old photo of Garbo before Hollywood had worked its magic on her. In the early photograph, Ms. Garbo appears with very bushy eyebrows. Other photos on Willow's blog features wonderful studio portraits which had been retouched to perfection by the photographer.

In the early 1960s I worked as a Publicity Assistant at Pinewood Studios in England. The Time/Life photographer, the late Denis Cameron, came to do a photo story on Sophia Loren who was one of the stars of a movie I was working on. I persuaded Denis to shoot some headshots of me. Here is the best one. I remember having not very nice skin, and certainly a tweezer had never been applied to my eyebrows. I don't think I ever quite got the hang of the liquid eyeliner business, either. So, thanks to the nice retouching department at Pinewood, this portrait ends up showing the young me with porcelain skin, beautiful eye makeup and elegant arched eyebrows!

Cream Cheeze Chocolate Chip Brownies



It's kind of ridiculous that the post I choose to follow my rant on how healthy being vegan is is about brownies. Ridiculous and AWESOME!

One of my Christmas gifts from Paul this year was Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and I've been dying to try it since I ripped off the wrapping paper. We were on a bit of a sugar high for the first few weeks after Christmas so that was not a good time, and then all of my baking time revolved around cupcakes for Project: Cupcakes Care to the point where the last thing in the WORLD I wanted to do when all was said and done was bake another gosh darn thing.

Finally, yesterday presented an excuse to give the cookbook a good old fashioned workout, as some friends of ours moved into a new loft and invited us over for a housewarming party.

I have a rule about baking. As much as I love it, I only permit myself to bake for special occasions/holidays OR at a time when the fruits of my labour will be consumed by someone other than myself. I have no willpower. And so, if left to my own devices, it would be me and a platter of brownies writhing about on the floor.

I made a double batch of the brownies, half of which were plain chocolate and the other half cream cheeze chocolate chip.



I've read a lot of criticisms about Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar floating about teh interwebz and I don't think this recipe in particular warrants harsh criticisms. I think Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a genious in her baking apron, and I expect more of these recipes to be successes.

I'm kind of a brownie snob. I don't think that brownies should taste like chocolate cake, but I also don't like them to be too rich and dense. I think this recipe achieved that delicate balance well. And honestly, how can anything smothered in Tofutti and sugar taste bad?

I'm sure there was something further I wanted to say but it appears my brain has departed after getting home at 4am and getting up at 8am. My voice also appears to have left me high and dry, as we spent a good chunk of the night playing Catch Phrase and because my Croatian heritage prevents me from having any sort of volume control I spent the majority of the night screaming answers (that were usually very, very incorrect).

Oh! I did want to give the This is Vegan Seal of Approval to a crazy card game about planting and harvesting beans!



By the time everyone was playing this I was two glasses of red in and so I'm not going to pretend like I knew what the hell was going on, but it seemed super intense and because it is about beans I think it is vegan appropriate. I definitely looked it up online today and I am definitely going to buy it!



[KP figured out how to play said bean game; I am very jealous]
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