Filed under: Good Days, Veganism | Tags: Baking, Edmonton, Golden Gate Bridge Cake, Gratitude, Moving, Potluck
As you may be aware, I’m leaving my hometown of Edmonton, Alberta (look it up on google maps) and moving to San Francisco, California to be with my husband. While I’m greatly looking forward to the move, I’m going to miss the friends and family I’ll be leaving behind… well, most of them, anyway.
I tend to like to fly under the radar a lot. Especially lately when I’ve been trying to scrimp and save my pennies, I haven’t gone out much, and I’m sad to say I’ve neglected a lot of my friends, so I’ve been surprised the last couple weeks at all the people who have said they will actually notice and even miss my presence in Edmonton. Thanks, guys, and I’ll miss you too.
One of the people who really drove it home for me was my friend, Jennifer, who baked the most amazing cake I’ve ever seen for the PPK Edmonton Potluck this past Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever had my eyes well up at the sight of food before, but I did this Sunday, and this is why:
It’s easy to forget that food can have that kind of impact. Though nowadays most people in my family can and do cook, from a young age, I was really the only one who would do things like make fancy dinners for my friends and family as a way of expressing affection. It’s not something conscious, but I guess I’ve just grown up feeling like there’s nothing that makes a person feel loved and cared for like a thoughtful, special meal. In fact, I would even go so far as to say the people who cook for you are the ones you keep.
Okay, that probably sounds mean, but looking back on the past 5 or 6 years of my life, the people who I remain close to are those I’ve made and shared food with. Not that the cake was a clincher or anything, but I’m pretty sure that whenever I think of this cake in the future (which is likely to be fairly often, since I’ll be seeing the Golden Gate Bridge fairly regularly in the coming months/years/lifetime), I’ll also think about sitting down to write Jennifer a note or postcard. When I have my wedding anniversaries, I’ll think of melisser, who baked my (belated) wedding cake and also the group of fine ladies who all chipped in to buy my new husband and I a fancy dinner. I didn’t literally share that meal with my girls, but I will think of them whenever I’m back at Millenium.
I suppose what I’m trying to get at is that while I love food and cook and eat a lot by myself, I look back at my life, and particularly my past 5-and-a-half years as a vegan, and I see special food connected to special people and special times (god, I’ve used the word “special” too many times in this entry, but if I were to get all thesaurus-y, it would be even worse, I know it), and I feel incredibly lucky to have met and broken bread with all of them.
I have to get up at 4:00 am tomorrow so I can get on a plane for San Francisco. Don’t get excited – it’s not for good. I was originally going to do job interviews/be there for my husband’s birthday, but now the focus is on the birthday and on the appointment I made to (at long last) speak to an immigration lawyer (well, a legal aid immigration lawyer – read: read a lawyer who isn’t trying to convince me to retain them).
Oh, and I’m going to eat while I’m there, too. Lots, I hope. I’ll keep you posted!
Happy Mother’s Day!
My own mother recently moved away from my town, so I’m spending this mother’s day with three surrogate mothers. First up, I made the stuffed french toast recipe from the current edition of VegNews for my vegan stepmom.
First off, the stuffed french toast concept is genius! The filling in this version is a citrus-y tofu ricotta. The original recipe uses both lemon and orange zest and the juices of both fruits as well. I was a little weary about the lemon, worrying that the flavour might overwhelm the sweeter orange flavour. I was kind of right – next time I make this, I’ll omit the lemon and add a bit more orange – but the result wasn’t too sour and didn’t taste bad. I just would have liked a sweeter citrus flavour as opposed to the lemon. The texture of the “ricotta,” however was perfect – firm tofu and cashew butter created a nice texture that got just the tiniest bit melty when the toast was cooked.
The batter was a simple soymilk and banana mixture with some ground flaxseed thrown in for good measure. I was surprised at how “eggy” the result was when cooked up on french toast. The bread didn’t fry up like grilled cheese but like old-school french toast. Plus, the banana flavour wasn’t overpowering but acted as a nice compliment to the citrus and would, I imagine, be even better with just straight up orange flavour in the ricotta filling.
Anyway, if you have the current edition of VegNews, check out this recipe. It was quick (ish – it took about 45 minutes start to finish), tasty, and actually pretty healthy (the only oil was that that I used to fry the toast in, and there was less than a 1/4 cup of sugar in the whole recipe), and delicious. I’ll certainly be experimenting with the stuffed french toast concept more and will post my findings here
Soon, my grandma will be coming over for tea with the family. I would have liked to have made some kind of tea-related thing, but I didn’t end up having time, so fruit, tea, and leftover french toast with jam will have to do.
Finally, tonight, my brother, sister, and I will be taking our maternal aunt out for dinner at Padmanadi Vegan Restaurant, and then, with any luck, skyping with our actual mother.
Vegans tend to make a lot of substitutions in their cooking. Whether it’s subbing flax goop for eggs or soy for cow, vegans who cook tend to get pretty good at swapping out undesirable elements in exchange for shiny happy good ones. Though I would eventually like to write more in depth on these kinds of subs, today, I’m writing about subbing food/cooking for something else: my husband.
Everyone who reads this likely already knows, but I don’t live with my husband. I’m in the process of immigrating so we can be together, but for now, it’s just me and my basement. Some days are shittier than others, but I’ve found that the worst is when I have time to actually notice that I’m alone. When I’m working or teaching or running off getting accidentally drunk, I’m distracted enough not to get totally depressed and mopey. When I have days off (like I had yesterday – my first real, full day off in months, actually), it’s harder to keep it together. So what do I do? Well, yesterday I watched Veronica Mars, practised, went for a run, and cooked like a crazy person.
Since my last visit to San Francisco to be with the DH, I find I can’t sleep through the night, and exacerbating matters, I can’t sleep in. Yesterday started off at 7:00 am, and first thing I did was get up and make granola. Granola is one of those things that I think people forget how easy and how good it is. It takes well to all kinds of customization and keeps well to boot. My granola tends to be simple, but the recipe I use can be supplemented without really any call for monkeying around with the base mixture. Here it is, Jordan’s Simple Stupid Hippie Granola:
1 1/2 cup oats (NOT quick cooking!)
1/3 cup walnuts, pecans, or almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 – 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 – 3 tbsp oil
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, and coconut. Put the mixture on a cookie sheet, spreading it out so it sits evenly on the sheet. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes and then take it out to mix it around (the danger with this part of the process is that the stuff on top can cook faster than the stuff underneath, and you end up with burnt nuts or oats – gross!). Put the oat mixture back in the oven and bake (making sure nothing on the top layer is getting too toasted) for 15 – 20 minutes, or until you start to smell the nuts toasting and the aroma of the oats. Remove from oven.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil, flax, and dried apricots. Add the hot oat mixture, and stir well to combine. If you like your granola warm, eat it now. Otherwise, wait a bit, and it will start to get all clumpy, just like store bought. Store in an airtight container, but not for too long. Granola is easy and quick and best when fresh, so make it often!
Stay tuned for Seitanfest later today!
A couple of days ago, I decided to skip my corporations law class and make pancakes instead. I made the banana pecan pancakes from Vegan With A Vengeance, but I halved the recipe and omitted the pecans, adding blueberries instead. I made myself three ‘cakes, stacked them up like they do at the vegetarian restaurant with vegan pancakes that I frequent, and put a big ol’ pat of Earth Balance on top, letting it melt and drip down and mingle with the maple syrup. Goddamn but it was delicious.
Yesterday, I had lunch with the boy I dated for more than 5 years, starting when I was 15 and in 10th grade and ending when I was 21 and in my second year of university. We went to local cajun haven, DaDeOs, which isn’t all that vegan friendly, but has a cool atmosphere and plays good music and has lots of interesting stuff to look at on the walls. I had the Appocado salad, which is basically big chunks of apple and avocado in a dijon dressing with roasted almonds on top. Not bad at all, but not the most filling either, plus, I would make the dressing a bit more tart, to counter the sweetness of the apples. We also shared the famous sweet potato fries, which never disappoint, and which always make me wish I had a good go-to recipe for cajun spice, which I don’t.
Finally, I went to a show last night and had a couple of beers from cans. I hate drinking beer from a can. I have to put my tongue up against the underside of the drinking hole in order to get any kind of decent flow going, and once the can is half empty, I have to tip my head back uncomfortably to get any beer into my mouth. I feel like it’s anti social and unattractive, and that sucks. Also, beer in a can is too cold when you first get it and warms up to body temperature too quickly. Yuck. It also makes me feel bloated. The moral: Beer in bottles, beer in glasses, NOT beer in cans. Thank you.