Last week I said that the fried portion of my Vegan Mofo adventure was over. I lied. But only because I found a recipe that I bookmarked nearly three years ago - with a "Try this in October" note. Two Octobers came and went without me trying it. Forgive me this last fried indulgence!

Until I made this meal, I had never bought a sugar pumpkin for food purposes. Every fall, since I first moved out on my own when I was 19 years old, I haven't been able to resist the urge to buy one of the cute round pumpkins that hang around the squash aisle of the market every October. And every year they have been given Table Decoration Status until they've rotted out. It never fails. Every November we end up wandering around the house asking each other, "Do you smell that?" and "Why does it always smell like garbage in this house?" and then a few days later we notice the soggy culprit in the middle of our kitchen table.

Honestly, I don't know where the intimidation came from because I work with squash all the time. Pumpkin is no different from the butternut and acorn and delicata squashes I have become so fond of roasting this time of year.

This year I still couldn't resist the urge to buy a sugar pumpkin. But unlike previous years, I mustered up the courage to actually cook it!

The recipe that I bookmarked years ago is in Vegan with a Vengeance. I can't find a copy of it online, but since it's the archetypal vegan cookbook I'm confident that most of you have it. If you don't, you probably should!

The one noticeable difference between something like a butternut squash and a pumpkin is the exceptionally tough exterior. My chef's knife didn't really do much. I had to grab a knife that was serrated on both sides and then use it to hack the crap out of the pumpkin, much like carving a jack-o-lantern!

The prize for throwing out your shoulder while carving out a pumpkin is the opportunity to roast the seeds! Is there anything more glorious than the smell of roasting pumpkin seeds?

When they get golden brown you pull them out of the oven and let them cool down for a bit. Then into the food processor they go.

Meanwhile, you slice the pumpkin, brush on some oil and toss it into the oven.

I had it in the oven for about an hour before I was dying of starvation and took it out, even though it wasn't as tender as it should have been. The recipe suggests roasting it at 350F but I normally roast my squash at at least 375F, which is what I will do next time.

I think the cranberry relish is considered an option for this recipe but it is not. It is a must. Besides, you have nothing but time while waiting for that pumpkin to roast. It's quite tart, and when I tasted it on its own I wasn't sure if I was feeling it all that much. But combined with the pumpkin and the fried tofu I'm about to show you - amazing!

After you've drained the tofu of as much liquid as possible, you cut it into 2" slabs and prepare your breading station - flour, water and the ground pumpkin seeds mixed with corn starch and oregano, dipping each piece of tofu in each bowl until totally covered in the pumpkin seeds.

They look like this when they are finished frying but the real story is how they smell. Technology has come a long way but sadly it is still something I can't share that via the blog. You'll just have to make them yourself!

This is a pretty labour-intensive and time consuming recipe. It is definitely not a weeknight dinner. But the best meals usually take the most time, don't they? I first saw this recipe three years ago and was too intimidated to try it, especially considering my history of injury-via-frying (for the record, Paul did the frying this time), and I'm disappointed that I didn't take the time out to make it sooner. In fact, I think it's going to become an October tradition in our house.
Andrew, Chris and myself went for the afternoon to Foodstock.  What a great turn out.  We enjoyed the food, atmosphere and people at this event. 
Glad we stayed home Saturday.  The boat was surging quite a bit with the water and we decided to tie it to a tree just incase our dock decided to leave us.  Our internet antenna was blown over and hydro flickered a few times.  Didn't loose it completely but we were ready with the generator just incase.  The weather is never boring. 
This week we are not to sure if we will be getting out on the water.  This wind is going to continue to late Friday.  The wind will also be switching to the north and the temperature will begin to drop.  We just ordered our first load of firewood.  Not looking forward to stacking it but it is good exercise. 
I have been busy trying to finalize the CSF.  We hope next year to start a Community Supported Fisheries.  Lots of details to work out but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  We hope to do it for 8 weeks in the spring and then 12 weeks in the fall.  The weeks inbetween we hope to just sell whatever fish we have but those weeks have more complications like algae, wind, ice and anglers.  Those 20 weeks we set aside for the CSF are normally the best or better weeks for fishing.  More details soon. If this wind continues I should be able to finish it by mid-week. 
Almost forgot.  Some pictures we took from Saturday.
Look how wide the opening to our little harbour is

Water is way up.  Almost touching the bottom of our dock.

Good thing we put an extra rope on the boat

Our internet antenna. 

 Could it be that too many of us circles and triangles are trying very hard to fit into square holes?  I've tried so hard, so many times, and I'm rather exhausted by the effort, which produces very limited results.  I have found that when I do manage to fit into the wrong shape, I end up rather distorted and confused.  This can't be what God has for us.

A childlike attitude seems to be the only answer.  Willing to live day by day, trusting in the sovereignty of God, sure that in His eternal supremacy all the answers lie, though I may not fathom them.  Perhaps I never shall, but if I seek Him, daily, and learn from Him, surely I shall know enough to step forward into the day that that the Lord sets before me.  Trusting, waiting, and listening.

"O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!" (Psalm 84:12)."

Oh how blessed in this way I desire to be.

So I shall keep dancing in the raining, swinging like my life depended on it, and running oblivious into the great unknown of the life that the Lord has prepared for me.  :-)

In Him,

Soupy Sunday: Barley Soup for the Sick

I had said I was taking a break this weekend because I haven't been feeling well. But, then I wanted some soup and I figured if I was going to make some I might as well blog it. This is the kind of thing I like to eat when I'm all stuffy and headachy - hot, gingery, hearty yet fresh.

Barley Soup for the Sick
Makes 6 Servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp ginger
2 tbsp Italian spice blend*
2 cloves garlic, finely diced or pressed
8 cups vegetable broth
1 cup barley
3 medium carrots, chopped into 1/4'' disks
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 package Yves Chicken Veggie Strips

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until soft, roughly 10 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and Italian spices and sauté 1 minute more. Add broth, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add barley and simmer for 20 minutes, until barley is al dente. Add celery and carrots and simmer 10 minutes more. Serve hot with toast and tea.

* My go to Italian spice blend is basil, oregano, marjoram and thyme. You can buy it pre-mixed or, mix up your own and store it in a nice looking glass jar. I really like storing things in pretty glass jars.

Last week, I posted a recipe for seitan schnitzel on a bun in honour of the opening weekend of the 2011 edition of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. Yesterday, we marked the last day of the festival with one final trip to a festhall - after having homemade vegan bratwurst for dinner!

Tofurky makes a pretty solid beer brat, especially when topped with Oktoberfest mustard. It was a lifesaver in 2007 when I experienced my first meatless Oktoberfest and to this day we still buy them to mark the season. I dream that someday the festhalls will carry them!

The only downside is that they can sometimes be difficult to find here in KW. Which is why I'm so excited to have found a homemade vegan bratwurst recipe!

I'm honestly surprised that I only found this recipe now. I am an avid follower of Vegan Dad and I've made so many of his dishes, including his homemade pinto bean sausages, which have since become a summer/camping staple for us. The recipe for the bratwurst is similar, so I knew that they would be just as good.

You start by mashing white beans

And then you're supposed to toss in 1/4 cup of dried shiitake powder. Of which I totally forgot about when getting groceries this week and didn't realize until an hour before we needed to be out the door and in the festhall. So I improvised a bit and chopped a plain old white button mushroom into tiny bits.

Once you've got all your ingredients mixed in and you've kneaded the dough for a good few minutes (until it's nice and stretchy), you chop it into six pieces and then form it into sausage-like shapes. You then place them on foil and roll them as tight as possible, twisting the ends. They don't need to be perfect when you roll them up. The steaming process will snap them into shape.

The bratwurst is then steamed for a half hour to forty minutes or so. When they are firm, they're ready to go!

I'm a cabbage-phobe, so while Paul topped his with sauerkraut, I went without. Which admittedly is a little bit sacrilegious around these parts, but what can you do. I did load up on Oktoberfest mustard though, and it was the last of what was left in the jar. Which means that Oktoberfest is over. Sigh!

After we finished off our brats, we finished off the festival at Karlsberghaus.

Oktoberfest is by far my most favourite event of the whole entire year. Festhalls are such a joyful place - everyone is so happy and generous and you spend a week clinking cups with old friends that you never seem to see the other 51 weeks of the year. I'm always so sad to see it go. October 2012 just seems so far away! But at the same time, this year I'm also a little bit relieved. When I was 19 I could handle a weeklong party. Sadly, at 28 I am a shell of my former self and just can't keep up like I used to. The good news is that I have a whole year to rest up before we do it all over again. Prost!

Broccoli, Apple and Peanut Stew

Happy Saturday! After an exceptionally beautiful first half to the month, we've recently had ourselves a pretty dreary stretch of days here in our neighbourhood. I kind of like the gloomy weather, though. It makes me feel less guilty about spending the entire day in blankets. With soup!

This here is a perfect fall soup, courtesy of Vegan Soups & Hearty Stews for All Seasons. It combines my three fave elements: broccoli, apples and peanut butter!

Can I please just put peanut butter in everything I make, for the rest of my life?

There is no digital copy of this recipe, but this is a slightly modified version of what is found in Vegan Soups & Hearty Stews for All Seasons.

Niagara-on-the-Lake 2011: The Prince of Wales Hotel

My partner's mother said she wanted to stay in the nicest place in town... and so we did. The Prince of Wales Hotel sits on Main Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake's historic district. A few years ago it was completely renovated, to the tune of something outrageous like $30million, or so I heard a bellboy tell another guest.

If you ever have the chance to stay at The Prince of Wales, don't pass it up, it's ten notches above what you expect or hope it to be. Everything was made of polished marble, hardwood and brass. The swimming pool was filled with salt water, which was great because I have sensitive eyes and they weren't bothered at all. At the spa we all had fantastic massages and my masseuse was a particularly hilarious lady.

We had water and oranges in our room every morning and a long stem rose left on our pillow every night at turn-down. We extra loved the portrait that hung on the wall opposite the bed so that the Prince and his dog could always keep an eye on us. Oh, and, we had to deal with a king sized bed with a huge pillow top spread over the mattress. 

So what does this have to do with anything vegan? Well, I ate breakfast at the hotel twice, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day... or something like that. I'm actually not really a big breakfast person, probably because I'm not really into the idea of waking up during breakfast hours. I had a lot of hash browns and a HUGE bowl of oatmeal each morning. The oatmeal was the real stuff, too, not a quick cook grain in sight. It came with fresh fruit both times, and I stirred in various jams that came in the cutest little jars. My server seemed confused when I asked if anyone could make me a London Fog, so I made one myself with concentrated earl grey, hot soy milk and sugar.

We had dinner at Escabèche, the uber-fancy restaurant at The Prince of Wales but, that post will come tomorrow when it faces DeLuca's Wine Country Restaurant in an epic vegan dinner battle. And you know you want to check back to read that.