Sunday, September 16, 2012
It's not like me to take an extended amount of time away from the blog (let alone an entire summer), but you can see from the above picture that I have had a very good reason.
I'm very happy to announce to all those who have not yet heard that Paul and I are expecting our very first little Soybean in February!
The hiatus began because I spent most of the first trimester completely unadventurous in the food department. I'm very fortunate that the Morning Sickness Fairy never showed up, but all the same I was sticking to more plain comfort foods that I've been making for years. Not exactly the stuff of great blog entries.
Now that I'm in the second trimester I've got some of my mojo back and am happy to be experimenting with new recipes once again.
The little soybean and I are both happily and healthily plant-strong and my midwives are very supportive and encouraging of my vegan diet. There have been absolutely no concerns with anything, in fact, after my first set of bloodwork came in with exceptional iron levels, I was told to not even think about changing a single thing. I'm also pleased to say that I have experienced very minimal mainstream backlash over my choice to have a vegan pregnancy. Truthfully, this is what I was most nervous about - not whether or not having a vegan pregnancy was safe and healthy (because I knew this to be true), but more so having to constantly defend myself and my choices to a society that has very little understanding of what it means to be plant-based. I'm hyper-emotional these days and I take everything personally, including attacks on veganism and attacks within veganism that used to not even phase me.
Another reason for the hiatus.
I hope to return to my pre-pregnancy sanity someday soon, but until then I have a very important decision to make.
At this point, I have to decide if I continue on blogging throughout my pregnancy and into the new realm of motherhood, or if I decide to keep this a more private time for my growing family.
At this point, I've decided to take the private route.
But never fear!
ThisIsVegan.com archives will always be available to you. I will also always be accessible via email email@example.com should you have any questions about the posts, questions about veganism/animal activism or if you just want to chat!
I will also continue posting all of the delicious foods I try, but on a much smaller scale, as well as any articles and other information I think it's important for me to know about. Rather than blog posts, you'll get a picture, a blurb and always a reference regarding where you can try this food too! Pick your source:
Twitter - HelloMaryCakes
Facebook - ThisIsVegan.com
Instagram - HelloMaryCakes
I hope to come back to traditional blogging someday (soon!) but for now I think it's best to just sit back and enjoy the incredible process of pregnancy that I'm so fortunate to have been given the privilege to participate in.
Thank you all so much for your support and understanding, and I hope to continue to interact with you via the sources I've posted above.
All the best in health and happiness!
Posted by Mary at 2:25 PM
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
|Happy Birthday, PK! One more year til the Big 3-0!|
Friday, May 11, 2012
My love affair with Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen continues. Especially now that grilling season is once again upon us. Bryant has great recipes for all seasons, but in my opinion, his work really shines in the spring and summer months, when cookouts are aplenty. Here in Canada, next weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season with the May Two-Four (Victoria Day) weekend and our friends to the south celebrate their unofficial summer kick-off in two weeks time, with Memorial Day. It's time to start stockpiling some backyard grill recipes! And I've got a really great one to tell you about today.
We grill a lot in the spring and summer. We grill a bit in the fall, too. Lots of Canadians do it all year long, but we tend to skip the winter months since neither of us particularly enjoys being outside more than we have to in those months. Plus, abstaining from the backyard grill November thru February makes the return of spring all that more exciting.
We grill pretty much everything. Veggie burgers or giant portobellos in lieu of veggie burgers. Tofu and tempeh. Beans. Polenta. Quesadillas. And all the fruit and veggies you can imagine, to be served on their own or tossed with pastas, in salads or in wraps.
These veggies are good enough to eat on their own, so they are. You're technically supposed to peel the blackened parts off but for me, that is the best part! Bryant's recipe calls for summer squash, but we're a couple months off from having fresh local zucchini and yellow squash. Not the case for asparagus though, which is being pulled out of the ground by hard working farmers not too far from you as we speak. I couldn't resist using it instead.
I'm a Bryant Terry rice recipe fanatic, his Not-Too-Dirty Rice rice particularly blowing my mind whenever I have it. This New World Red Rice was a similar hit with me and I think it's all in the preparation. Bryant has you soak your rice before using it, and what results is a more sticky rice that reminds me of the way my mom's red rice tasted when I was growing up. Love it!
He doesn't call for beans in the rice, but I was pressure cooking my beans for the week the night I made this meal and made a little too much of the red kidney variety. So not to be wasteful, into the rice they went. Adding that extra protein made it okay for me to skip the tofu on the grill. Don't get me wrong, I love me some grilled tofu, but we had been eating a little too much tofu and tempeh in the days leading up to this grill night and our guts desperately needed a break.
Unfortunately, I can't seem to track down any legitimate digital copies of either of these recipes, so give Bryant Terry some support and pick up your very own copy of Vegan Soul Kitchen. I'm telling you right now, the Jamaican Patties alone are worth the price of the book.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
|Ready to go!|
|Me and the bride-to-be and bellinis!|
|Me and Tracy, on the big yellow party bus!|
|Lisa and Kathy on the big yellow party bus!|
|Kathy, Shauna and me at the club|
|Sam and Kathy at the club|
Thursday, May 3, 2012
You may recall that one of my new year's resolutions this year was to set aside one weekend morning a month to go out of my way and make a delicious breakfast. Something other than my usual bowl of goji berries + Ezekiel cereal, or green smoothie, or overnight oats. I grew up despising breakfast food but it turns out that it wasn't breakfast food that I didn't like as much as it was non-vegan breakfast food. Just thinking about bacon makes me gag uncontrollably and that is based on the tiniest bite I had once, about fifteen years ago, that I promptly spit back out into a paper towel. And I wasn't even vegetarian then!
And then April rolled around and I was so busy that I completely forgot about my resolution! Luckily, I remembered on the very last day of the month. So instead of a leisurely weekend breakfast experiment, it was a quick Monday morning breakfast experiment. And this proved to be the perfect weekday breakfast because I was able to do the prep work the night before.
We have a little Saturday morning tradition that we follow through with every week that we can. A stack of traditional pancakes with maple syrup and four episodes of The Littlest Hobo, a really corny tv show about a stray German Shepherd that wanders around saving the day. He saves kidnapped children from their captors and farm animals from wildfire. He ruins mafia plans to steal precious jewels and stops bank robberies. It's 1980s Canadian television at its finest. We spend all week looking forward to Saturday morning Hobo and pancakes because we are nerds like that.
The concept of raw pancakes caused a bit of a moral dilemma in our household, because we love the traditional fluffy, gluteny pancake oh so much. But the clock was running out on my April breakfast-of-the-month and I already had all the ingredients on hand to make them so it was a real no-brainer. I'm so glad that I did! The recipe comes from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo.
These pancakes are mostly made out of flax, meaning they are an excellent way to get your omega-3 fatty acids on.
The topping I used is a raw coconut-cashew pudding, also from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. I've used it in the past, when making raw fruit parfaits. I'm addicted to Ani's puddings, this one being my favourite. Her carob pudding, which I made as a dip for a fruit platter for a ladies' brunch potluck a couple months ago, would also be delicious with these pancakes.
And then the final touch is freshly sliced fruit of your choice. I can't wait until summer, when I can make this with fresh Ontario blueberries (my most favourite of all the fruits!)
Obviously, these are not the same as traditional pancakes. While traditional pancakes are fluffy and quite bland (in a good way, don't get me wrong), raw flax pancakes are dense and chewy. Calling them pancakes may offend pancake purists out there, which might be why Ani refers to them as "breakfast cakes" instead. I don't care though, I love 'em, and I'm calling 'em raw vegan pancakes - further proof that there is a perfectly adequate raw answer to just about everything under the sun!
Monday, April 30, 2012
This past Saturday, Paul and I made the pilgrimage to The Hogtown Vegan in Toronto. The restaurant is just a little over an hour away from our front door, so it shouldn't have taken us as long as it did to make the trek out and try some of their famous diner-style vegan grub. But, we do have a special needs dog at home and leaving her for extended periods of time is something we don't like to do. As such, our visit kept getting postponed.
All of our Toronto dining is done in the company of my vegan cousins, one of which is moving overseas next month, so we wanted to make sure our first Hogtown visit happened while she was still here. We made sure the pup was okay for a couple hours and headed to Toronto on the only free weekend we've had in months.
Located at 834 Bloor Street West, The Hogtown Vegan is Toronto's answer to the traditional "down home" comfort food diner, with the added twist of completely animal-free food. We visited a similar establishment called Doomie's in Los Angeles last year and have been dying for something like it closer to home.
I love how many vegan-friendly restaurants have been popping up in southwestern Ontario in the last few years. I get so giddy every time I hear about a new one. The more the merrier, I say. They're serving up their wheatgrass shots and collard wraps and tempeh sandwiches and we love them so very much. But what's missing from the landscape is an army of greasy spoon-esque establishments that cater to those of us vegans who love a little junk food now and again.
Hogtown is one such place. A place to stay vegan but indulge in a bit of that brown, fried, homestyle cooking that you grew up on.
Driving from Kitchener to Toronto takes about an hour, which means that we had about an hour to establish a game plan for Hogtown. What we were going to do. What ordering mistakes we didn't want to make. We don't get out to the city much, people. This is serious business. When we were planning our Montreal and L.A. trips in years past we would literally spend hours pouring over menus weeks before our trips were even set to begin. We like to eat and we take vegan dining very, very seriously.
Luckily, our party was down for sampling a couple appetizers as a group, so even though I scrapped appetizers so I could "save room" for the main course, I got to try a couple anyway!
We started with the Mac'N'Cheese.
From the menu: Best vegan mac'n'cheese ever, baked and topped with breadcrumbs.
You can't go wrong with mac'n'cheese. Ever. The blogosphere has had mixed reviews about Hogtown's take on it, but I am happy to announce that we loved it and would definitely order it again. It even leaves some of that gooey orangey residue on your plate - just like when you were a kid!
We also got a basket of Chili "Cheese" Fries.
From the menu: Fresh-cut fries with black beans, nacho "cheese" sauce, guacamole, scallions and sunflower sour cream.
For his entree, Paul got the Pulled Unpork Sandwich.
From the menu: Pulled TVP unpork cooked in our house-made BBQ sauce, topped with creamy coleslaw on a sesame seed bun.
This is a terrible picture that does the sandwich no justice! I hate messing around with a camera in restaurants so I always end up with the worst photos. My apologies!
My original game plan involved ordering something totally different than what I ended up with. But then I saw the Phish and Chips option and I proceeded to freak out a little bit/a lot of bit. There's not much I miss as a vegan, because it's fairly easy to find vegan versions of just about everything. Not restaurant-style fish and chips, though. Before Saturday, I had yet to come across any. It was once my favourite menu option, and I hadn't had anything like it in well over five years.
From the menu: Beer-battered tempeh "fish" sticks served with house-made tartar sauce and fresh cut fries.
First of all, I can't believe they even have vegan fish and chips and second of all I can't believe how freaking authentic they are! Complete with tartar sauce, they remind me of many a beer-battered fish on many a pub night.
And finally, Paul and I shared an order of the Unchicken and Waffles because they are what Hogtown is most famous for and I've drooled over way too many blog posts about them to not try them. Even though the buttons on my jean skirt were already dangerously close to popping off when I was but halfway through the Phish and Chips, I eagerly packed away my half!
From the menu: Breaded, deep-fried soy chicken on fluffy waffles, smothered in maple butter, served with collard greens and sweet potato mash.
It was absolutely amazing. Worth the wait and deserving of all the blog praise it has received. It will make a believer out of your favourite omni!
Our visit to Toronto was very brief because we needed to get home to our little Dora, but it was well worth the drive. I'm simultaneously excited and relieved that Hogtown is an hour away from us - I'm excited because, unlike Doomie's, some of the best vegan food I've had is only an hour away from me and I'm relieved because it is not any closer than that. I have control issues when it comes to food. In that I have none.
The Hogtown Vegan
834 Bloor Street West
** CASH ONLY **
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
I finally got around to making that Easter feast that didn't happen. And now I'm finally getting around to blogging about it! Believe me, I've attempted to write this post about ten times between last Monday and today and got interrupted or side-tracked each time. Life has not been this busy in a very long time, so bear with me as I blog (poorly) very sporadically until things settle down for me.
I may be really busy, but this meal was so super yum that I don't want to delay posting about it any longer! I'm disappointed that, in my extreme hungover-ness, I couldn't handle putting it together on Easter proper. But there is always next year! And I officially can't wait!
The glue that holds this entire meal together is the seitan ham. At the very least, it's what makes it an Easter feast. It is very, very easy to make and is done in a similar fashion to the seitan roast I make every Thanksgiving. Wheat gluten steamed in a cheesecloth until it reaches the right springy texture! Easy peasy!
What the hell is going on in that second picture, you ask? Well, I'm a consummate idiot and burnt the element off of my double steamer, because a couple weeks ago I was too busy to notice that I placed a basket of broccoli in the steamer and set it over high heat, without bothering to put any water in the pot. I'm searching for a new one that satisfies all of my obscene criteria with regard to what a double steamer should look and act like. In the meantime, my mom has since kindly given me her double steamer so that we can stop playing Macgyver with a metal colander and aluminum foil until I find a new one.
The recipe for this ham comes from Caribbean Vegan. I don't have the cookbook, but the author has graciously provided the recipe online, here and now that I've tried it, Caribbean Vegan has skyrocketed to the top half of my "Cookbooks to Buy" List. Instead of the glaze she has provided, I whisked together a teaspoon of mustard with a 1/4 cup of maple syrup to make it a little more Easter-traditional.
We loved it! I've never had real maple-glazed ham before so I liked it just because it was delicious and not because I've particularly missed the taste of ham. The husband has ingested a fair bit of ham in his life and also gives it the seal of approval. The liquid smoke is what makes the magic happen, I think! We've bought premade vegan hams before and it's what we used in the TIV Breakfast Special. Unfortunately, they can be quite hard to come by. Further, while visually they look more like ham than the recipe I tried here (very pink and smooth), it's usually at the cost of added chemicals and processing. And for me, it's always about taste and quality over appearance (especially since fake meats often freak me out!) For these and many other reasons, I'm especially excited to have found myself a recipe for homemade vegan ham, and I'm looking forward feeling out some other glazes and then trying it in our breakfast special. I will let you know how it goes!
We are gluttons though, so one ham wasn't big enough for us. I think I'll double it next time. If you're a normal person who doesn't need three servings of everything, this size will be perfect for you.
Scalloped potatoes are another Easter favourite. There are many, many, many recipes for vegan scalloped potatoes to choose from. This one comes from Veganomicon and we quite liked it. I do need to work on my potato slicing skills if I'm going to keep making it. Or perhaps invest in a mandolin! Gently roasted baby carrots round out this springtime feast, courtesy of Everyday Happy Herbivore!
Easter may be over, but spring sure isn't, and this would make a lovely Sunday night dinner. In the meantime, I'm going to try and stay up on my blogging. And my cooking, actually - another reason I haven't been blogging much is because we've been relying on old (quick) favourites to get us through this busy patch! What delicious vegan things have you been cooking while I've been MIA?