Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Lunch at Cafe Pyrus, Kitchener

I know it hasn't been that long since I blogged about Cafe Pyrus, downtown Kitchener's newest vegetarian eatery, but Paul and I found ourselves near their location on Charles Street while running errands this past Saturday. That place is like a magnet, I swear. We hadn't intended on having lunch downtown, but when we realized how close we were, it's like we had no choice but to go in.

Because we had no intention of grabbing lunch I forgot to bring my camera. Fortunately, the iPhone camera is pretty gosh darn decent, so you get to take a peek at what we ate anyway.

I had the open-faced mango sandwich pictured above. Me and The Mango embarked on quite the love affair this past summer. Like any summer love, I'm having a hard time letting go. The sandwich also had some fresh veggies, this amazing creamy garlic sauce and melted mozzarella Daiya on the fluffiest of breads.

This sandwich is too good for this world.

Now, before I continue, there is something you should understand about my husband.

My Paul is what I like to call an Ethical Foodie.

This guy loves food in all its varied forms and I have never seen him refuse to try any item that adheres to his ethical diet, regardless of how weird or off-the-beaten-path it is.

As such, he refuses to waste any veg-friendly food opportunity brought to his attention.

It's a good thing that he is, in fact, a bottomless pit. I've seen him consume several people's worth of food in one sitting and still not be full.

The infuriating part of all this is that the guy doesn't really ever gain weight. As long as it's vegan, he can eat whatever he wants in whatever ridiculous quantity and his waist size stays the same. This was not the case when he was a meat-eater.

Not that I endorse this behaviour, nor is it a reality for the most of us, myself included. If Paul's metabolism is the gazelle, mine is the three-toed sloth.

For years, there's something we have affectionately referred to as the "Paul Special" and it is the only thing that comes close to appeasing his appetite. Named after the "Joey Tribbiani Special" (which is two pizzas), the Paul Special is two restaurant meals. Here are the two meals he selected on Saturday:

Pad Thai


a build-your-own sandwich of the tempeh variety!

We actually kicked the Paul Special up a notch on Saturday and even got dessert - some of those famous Pyrus weekend pancakes I blogged about last time - they are entirely too difficult to pass up.

I'd like to thank the Cafe Pyrus staff for not only feeding us, but also for not making a big deal over the fact that we ordered enough food to feed a football team. Thanks guys!

Cafe Pyrus
14 Charles St W
Kitchener, ON
(519) 954-7705

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tex Mex Quesadillas

What is not to love about the almighty quesadilla. It's easy to make. It's versatile. It gives you an excuse to eat an entire jar of extra hot salsa all by your lonesome.

And it is the reason that after my meat eating days were over, I decided to keep my Foreman grill. I know you're supposed to pan fry quesadillas, but I have never been able to master the "flip" technique (especially when there is no cheese to hold the quesadilla together). Attempting to flip them in a pan usually results in the dog getting more of the filling than the quesadilla itself, and also guarantees that the floor needs to be washed immediately after dinner.

On the Foreman you just lay them out and close the lid - both sides get done simultaneously, meaning you can eat your dinner in a sweet five minutes and get back to what really matters - your recliner and the Big Bang Theory.

Alright, I have another slightly plagiarized recipe for you BUT only because when I copied and pasted it into my email a year ago I forgot to include the source and similarly, I forgot what it was I changed about it. I want to say it comes from helloveggie.org, but I cannot for the life of me find the link to the recipe on there. Either I am mistaken, or it has been removed - either way, here it is for you until I can find a way to direct you to the author of it. If I get sued I expect all of you to chip in for lawyer fees.

Tex Mex Quesadillas

1 can black beans
1 cup brown rice, cooked in 2 cups vegetable stock
4 tortillas (I used Ezekiel)
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
1/4 cup water
1 bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Cayenne and black pepper, to taste
Salsa - for serving

1) In a large saucepan, steam onions in a little bit of water. Add the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes, so that the pepper is soft but still has a crunch to it.

2) Drain black beans and add them and the corn to the pan. Add rice, water and all the seasonings. Cook for 5-10 minutes at medium low.

3) Preheat Foreman grill to 425F. Spread 1/4 of the mixture onto half of each tortilla. Fold the remaining side over. Lightly spray cooking oil on the grill and place quesadillas on it. Cook for five minutes, or until the tortilla takes on a golden colour. (Or you can lightly spray a frying pan with a bit of cooking oil and carefully grill each side of the quesadilla for about five minutes). Serve with salsa. Or vegan sour cream. Or guacamole. Or all of the above.

P.S. These quesadillas would go great with some shredded Daiya tossed in prior to grilling. However, I have proven time and again that I cannot be responsible regarding the amount of Daiya I consume on any given day. Until I am able to get my addiction under control (or come across enough money to buy an entire wardrobe two sizes up), I have forbidden myself to have easily accessible Daiya in my refrigerator. Have no fear - I do promise you I will return with more Daiya-inspired recipes soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This is 27

I'm not great with birthdays.

Okay, that is an understatement. I am actually really, really horrible with birthdays. I have never liked them. Not now. Not as a child. I actually cried when I turned 13 because I thought life was going by too quickly.

So you can see why making the official leap into the god forsaken "late twenties" territory is quite traumatizing for me.

When I was in high school Kevin Richardson from the Backstreet Boys was 25 and I was convinced that he was pretty much the oldest person on the planet. I am that plus TWO now! How did this HAPPEN!

I typically tend to compensate for this (and any other) psychological instability by over indulging in food and alcohol. It's grossly counterproductive, really. I turn a year older and behave in such a way that when all is said and done I actually look and feel TEN years older.

This is the story of what I did in order to forget that I am three years away from 30.

I had to work on my actual birthday, but went out for a sushi lunch with my darling husband:

We go to Sushi Star at lunch because all-you-can-eat is only $12 - at dinner it's $20! I cannot justify the extra $16, especially since the vegan items are the same at lunch and at dinner.

Quite possibly my favourite thing on the menu - mango rolls!

The cutest little tofu hats you ever did see

Avocado and cucumber hand roll

Spicy udon bowl

Avocado and pineapple roll

Fried tofu cubes

I had a long day at work and all I wanted to do with my evening was vegetate in front of the TV (watching Lost, which Paul got me on blu-ray! Hurray!). Paul surprised me with a carrot cake, which he adapted from the carrot cupcake recipe found in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Paul also arranged a little Saturday night gathering of our friends to further ease the birthday blow:

The girls!

The boys!

The cookies and cream cupcakes!

The awesome t-shirt I got from my friend Samcha!

After cake we headed to the local watering hole for a little dancing and romancing.

Much thanks to my beautiful friends for celebrating with me. And now, back to trying to live a somewhat healthy existence.....................

Sushi Stars
450 King St E
Kitchener, ON N2G 2L6
(519) 584-2341

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair 2010

Admittedly, I have been a terrible little blogger lately. September is always such a hectic time, although this is the first year that I am not a student so I can't precisely explain why I am so busy and rushed this year, but I am all the same. All the wallowing in self pity with regards to my upcoming birthday takes time, you know.

But, you will forgive me, because I bring vegan food porn of the finest capacity today - a documentation of my day at the 2010 Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair!

Although this is the fourth year that the fair has come around that I myself have been a veg*n, this is the first time I've been able to make it out to the city to attend. Strange, because I generally have no life.

As such, in my mind the fair was transformed into this ridiculous Christmas-like entity that I was certain it could never possibly live up to.

I assure you now that I was wrong and I am seriously considered getting a hotel next year so that I can spend two days at the fair rather than one.

I got there and it was essentially sensory overload. My system began shutting down and I may have panicked a bit over food selections and the possibility that I wasn't going to be able to try absolutely everything.

Sadly, my fears were realized and I could not try everything. We did not have a wheelbarrow to carry me back to the subway so it was too great a risk to indulge my gluttony entirely. However, I was armed with my stretchy pants and loose fitting tank top and I was ready to put up a good fight against the forces of digestion (and the wheelbarrow is a serious consideration for next year).

So now, I present to you, The 2010 Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair.

My selection for lunch - an Indian feast - basmati rice with a black eyed pea dahl, samosa, lentilball, and a whole host of other stuff that I don't know the names and spellings of that tasted really, really good.

Paul's selection for lunch - a Mexican feast - smokey chipotle tofu, quinoa and rice and a cool little cilantro salad

Also from the Mexican place, tofu and mushroom tacos, which we shared.

Alright, I'm not exactly sure who from Sweets from the Earth had to sell their soul to the devil to attain that carrot cake icing recipe but I'm fairly confident that it was worth it. I actually dreamt about eating this cake last night. Seriously. The pecan chocolate bar Paul is also holding is nothing to turn your nose up at either.

My favourite plate of goodies. Take particular note of those soy nuggets on the kebab, as well as the curried seitan kebab (love!). There was also something shrimp-like that Paul devoured because as an omni seafood was one of his favourites and it's quite difficult to locate vegan seafood-esque substances these days. And special shoutouts to the pan fried dumplings and BBQ bun, a couple of our favourites when we hit up the Cambridge location of Zen Garden restaurant.

The drumsticks featured on that plate up there deserve their own close-up. They are made on a bamboo skewer so it actually feels like you are eating a drumstick (although that part of eating meat used to really, really sketch me out, so I would have been fine without the skewer).

Paul thought it was pretty fun though.

And finally, BBQ'd seitan kebabs that were alarmingly chicken-like but delicious nonetheless.

I also picked up some goodies - because when is the next time I'm going to be able to ethically shop all in one place? I picked up a SSOV hoodie from the lovely folks at LAVA and was peer pressured into buying three boxes of New Moon cookies because I was told it was a steal to get three for $10. Paul was pretty devastated that they were sold out of the Love Bites by the time we returned to the booth at the end of the day, but we are pretty happy with our Oatmeal Goldies, Momints and Mackies selections. My scale, not so much.

Before you judge me too much, please be advised that all this food was consumed over the course of an entire day (i.e. lunch AND dinner). So you can judge me a little, but not as much as you were planning to.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Baja-Style Tempeh Tacos

Today is September 2, 2010. Or 09/02/10. 090210.

A day set aside to commemorate one of the greatest guilty pleasure television programs of all time.

Today is International 90210 Day!

I'm commemorating this momentous occasion with a 90210 DVD marathon and a dinner dedicated to my most favourite 90210 character and one of my first true loves:

Oh, Dylan. Your dark and twisty brooding is still so dreamy.

Back in the day, you were either a Brandon Girl or a Dylan Girl. I was a Dylan Girl from Day One. Which is kind of alarming, actually, because I was in the fourth grade and he was a disillusioned drug addict for a large portion of the show.

You might be wondering what Baja-style tacos have to do with a show about Beverly Hills and if you are, you probably didn't spend the early 1990s counting down the minutes until 9pm on Thursday nights like I did. That's okay though, I'm happy to explain.

You see, Dylan McKay was a surfer and often made his way to Mexico "for the waves". In one deliciously epic episode cliffhanger, he and Brenda snuck off for a weekend alone in Baja, without Brenda's parents' permission. So scandy!

They got caught and were forbidden to associate with one another ever again. Star-crossed lovers stories never get old, do they?

As you can see, it is only fitting that I made Baja tacos for dinner on 9/02/10 day. Because their little trip across the border was the beginning of the end of Brenda and Dylan. And oh, how I hated that prissy Brenda Walsh.

The recipe for these tacos is found in Veganomicon and it involves several recipes that actually come together quite quickly.

First comes the taco slaw, marinated in cider vinegar for a few hours:

Next, the "sour cream". The recipe suggests making a Lime Crema with soy yogurt, but believe it or not, no one around here sells plain soy yogurt. So I made a mild cilantro sour cream with silken tofu:

Next comes the tempeh, marinated in an chile-beer marinade and then pan-fried (would have been much better grilled, but it was pouring rain out tonight):

Topped off with some freshly diced onion and tomato, this made for quite the hearty taco:

It's probably fairly evident by now that I have never been to Baja and everything I know about the west coast has come 90210 episodes (and maybe a little bit from The O.C., but let's be honest, Marissa Cooper is no Kelly Taylor). As such, I sadly cannot comment on the authenticity of these Baja-style tacos, but I can let you know that they were delicious and fairly easy to make. Another Veganomicon win!

I'm still trying to convince Paul to name our first born Dylan McKay. He is very unreceptive.

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