Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hello!


Anyone still out there?

I can't believe it has been a year since I've posted here on TIV. 

The two lines on the pregnancy test pictured in the entry below turned into a beautiful, strong, vibrant little girl who is now eight months old. 

And I've decided to mark this new phase of my life with a brand new blog.


Have no fear - it will still feature everything that would have been posted here at TIV, with some added bonuses, like what it is like to be a vegan mom, raising a tiny little vegetarian. But mostly just the same old vegan food porn, at a brand new location!

Please visit me at Stories of Suburbia! I look forward to interacting with you there. TIV will remain open as an archive - feel free to click around and see what I was up to from 2008 to 2012!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Surprise!


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 mary@thisisvegan.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!



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

S'mores Cupcakes (& Paul's 29th Birthday)


Our amazing friends got married this past weekend, and I was the proud of maid of honour. Meaning last week was SO. SUPER. BUSY. So busy that I can't believe I'm only getting to this post now. But I figured that if I didn't do it now, there would be a good chance that Paul would turn 30 before I got a chance to tell you about the S'mores cupcakes I made when he turned 29.

Paul was born on May 20th. Meaning that he always celebrates his birthday on the May TwoFour, which is notorious here in Canada for cottages, camping, beaches and other types of summertime debauchery. Technically, we're celebrating Queen Victoria. But really, we're celebrating the end of parka season. It's the unofficial start to summer here in Canada and the weather is usually absolute crap.

Because it's always so cold, or rainy (on Paul's 19th birthday, in 2002, it actually snowed!) we don't usually bother trying to head to the beach. Plus, we're kind of old now and it feels weird making the trek to Grand Bend with all the high school and college kids. Instead, we make ourselves cozy on the patios of various local establishments as well as the one attached to our own house. Since it's his birthday, we're always sure to invite some friends, too!




I thought the S'mores cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World were fitting for a May TwoFour birthday boy, since so many people were spending the night around bonfires (not us though - we have yet to add one of those to our backyard but I can see it in the near future!) and they were super yummy. The recipe is available on Google Books, and you can find it here (just scroll down a little bit). The white bit is just the standard buttercream that I frost all my cupcakes with, but once you pair it with some graham cracker and melted chocolate it is so marshmallow-like!

Summer 2012 has just kicked off and this would be a great recipe for upcoming long weekends, cookouts and camping trips. Anywhere where there are shorts, campfires and sparklers, there should also be S'mores cupcakes.

Happy Birthday, PK! One more year til the Big 3-0!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Herb-Marinated Grilled Vegetables + New World Red Rice


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

Banana Everything Cookies (and a Bachelorette Party)


Later this month, I will have the privilege of standing up for my longtime friend Kathy on her wedding day, as her Maid of Honour. You may recall that I don't like being referred to as "Matron" of Honour, even though that is technically what I am, because I'm dangerously close to 29 these days and that in itself is enough age-related trauma for right now. Kathy is letting me have this one.

This weekend we celebrated her soon-to-be walk down the aisle with a bachelorette adventure in Toronto. The bride and 20 of her friends boarded a yellow schoolbus (seriously, if you're looking for an inexpensive alternative to a limo, try a charter from your local school bus line - less than half the price!) and danced the night away at Rockwood + Grass in Toronto after a delicious dinner here in Kitchener.

It was a bachelorette, so obviously there was alcohol involved. And what's the one thing that goes hand-in-hand with drinking? The need for food immediately afterward. Since our bus turned into a pumpkin at 2am, which is exactly when the clubs close up, we knew we wouldn't have time for Toronto post-club food. Instead, we put together a little care package for the bus ride home. Chips, pretzels, water and sports drinks - just enough to soothe the stomach during that bumpy ride back to Kitchener. And schoolbuses are seriously bumpy. Especially in the backseat spots that we used to fight over as kids! Sure, it's been fifteen years since I took one to grade school everyday, but all the same I really and truly don't remember them being that uncomfortable. So much so that I needed a chiropractic adjustment this morning.  There's old age, rearing its ugly head again!

I wanted to bake some sweets for the care package too, but decided against my usual sugary cupcake varieties and decided to go with something a little more dense. These Banana Everything cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar fit the bill perfectly! You can also find the recipe on google books by clicking here. I used whole wheat flour instead of white all-purpose and raw cane sugar instead of white refined. A perfectly hearty cookie for a bunch of party girls and oh so easy to make. I especially love that I have all those ingredients on hand pretty much always.

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
 
Dance party!
And that's about it that can be posted here on the blog without much repercussion. Don't worry though, it was good clean fun. Mostly.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

(Raw) Flax Pancakes with Coconut Cashew Pudding + Banana

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!

Anyway, our special January breakfast was blueberry waffles. February was Strawberry Cream Cheeze French Toast and March was an old favourite of ours, Tofu Rancheros.

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

The Hogtown Vegan, Toronto

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.

So good!

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
Toronto, ON
416-901-9799
** CASH ONLY **

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