Hope Sinks

VeganMoFo: Cop Out Survey!
October 27, 2008, 10:02 am
Filed under: Cooking, VeganMoFo | Tags: , , , , ,

Since I’ve slacked so hard, I’m trying to make up, and what better way to 1) dredge up ideas and 2) kind of bullshit an entry than with a survey! This one comes courtesy of Jess at Get Sconed via B.A.D. at Unhealthy Vegan. Thanks, ladies

1. What was the most recent tea you drank?

Fresh ginger, for my creeping-up illness. Cut up an inch or two of fresh ginger into chunks. Pour boiling water over it. Steep 5 minutes.

2. What vegan forms do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!

Oh, you all know this already: The PPK Forum. My name is, surprisingly, jordanpattern.

3. You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?

Isa’s Italian Marinated tofu with roasted veggies over polenta with a balsamic vinegar reduction. Shit, now I’m hungry.

4. How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?

I don’t really have an average day, but if you average out all my non-average days, probably around 4? I have some favorites, but I will never tell!

5. Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?

Katie‘s post on her famous Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Yeow!

6. If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do?

I would be pretty darn stoked to hang out with kittee of Cake Maker To The Stars and Jess of Get Sconed, oh, and Pamela of Pamela Cooks. I mean, really, I’d be down with hanging out with all the vegan bloggers out there, really, but it’s much easier to deal with the logistics of just four people, you know? Plus, I’ve met a lot of vegan bloggers! I think Kittee and Jess and Pamela and I could have a pretty great tea party, though.

7. If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be?

Well, in real life, I would say tofu, because I don’t have to make it before I cook with it, but in an ideal world, I would say seitan. Seitan sandwiches, cutlets, chili, maybe even breaded and fried!

8. If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?

Tempeh for sure – that stuff is like a brick when frozen.

9. Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!

Katie’s tempeh wingz, Spicy tempeh roll sushi a la Post Punk Kitchen Show Ep. 2, and, uh, some kind of marinated tempeh, possibly on skewers and grilled with veggies and served over rice.

10. What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?

Julie Hasson’s sausages! I have had these made by other people, but I want to make them myself so bad! Why am I so damned lazy! I need to re-read all that crap I talked about the virtues of delayed pleasure one more time I think…

11. Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?

Yeah, but I don’t wear it a whole lot these days. I own 5 or 6 Herbivore shirts and also the “I ❤ Hunting Accidents” shirt from Food Fight.

12. Have you made your pilgrimage to the ‘vegan mecca’ yet? (Portland, duh)

Yes, though I didn’t have as much time there as I would like, and it wasn’t really a pilgrimage so much as a show my old band played, the morning after which I accidentally ditched a whole cadre of PDX PPKers. I’m still sorry, guys!

13. What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?

I was 22, and yes, it stuck. I’m coming up on 6 years vegan next March.

14. What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?

Yucky summer camp french fries that were lukewarm and soggy. This was at the camp where I often teach french horn, but it was before I knew to bring my own lunch. Seriously – is a veggie burger so hard???

15. What made you decide to blog?

I have honestly no idea. Vanity? I fancy myself an okay cook and a fairly decent baker, but I am too busy/cheap/lazy to cook/write as much as I’d like. I’m working on it. I may soon have a super ultra mega cheap blog, since my money might be becoming real tight real soon…

16. What are three of your favorite meals to make?

Isa Pizza – I never get tired of that stuff. I could eat it morning, noon, and night forever.

Marinated tofu with roasted veggies – roast everything together. This is so flavourful and so good and reasonably healthy to boot!

Soup – I can’t pick a type, but I fucking love making soup. Uh. Literally.

17. What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?

I’m totally going to bite on B.A.D.’s answer and say stuffed squash… with my own special stuffing recipe that I’m developing that involves cornbread and apple-sage sausage crumbles.

18. Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant? How many times have you ordered it?

I feel like I should say Millenium, both meals I’ve at at which have been amazing, but I’m going to go with the Kung Pao fake chicken from Jasmine Tea House in San Francisco.

19. What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?

I’m going to cheat a little here and say El Toro taquerias in the Bay Area. I think there are 3 of them, so they count, right? I love me some tacos.

20. My kitchen needs a……

kitchen! I don’t have my own right now. When I finally (and I mean finally) move in with my husband, our kitchen will need a tonne of stuff, including a huge clean, twice as many shelves, and, well, kitchenware that isn’t irreplaceable collector beer glasses from Belgium. Ugh.

21. This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen…

Eggplant. Fuck eggplant.

22. What’s for dinner tonight?

The above-mentioned stuffing, I think. I’m going to create it for the Iron Chef challenge.

23. What’s your favourite cookie cutter?

I don’t own any! The shame!

Okay, that about wraps it up! Thanks again to Jess and B.A.D. for the inspiration!


VeganMoFo: Baking with Grandma
October 2, 2008, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Veganism, VeganMoFo | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I got some really crappy news today: my grandma fell and broke her hip this afternoon. Luckily, she happened to have her cell phone (which my dad bought for her and made her learn to use) on her and was able to call 911 from the spot near the back of her yard where she fell. She got to the hospital, and my dad tells me that while she was looking a little grey when he saw her, she’s doing okay and will be having surgery late tonight or sometime tomorrow morning. Anti-serendipitously, I had planned to write about my grandma today (without having known about the accident), following a conversation I had had with my sister, but now it feels like a bigger deal. I’m going to write anyway, but watch this spot, because I’ll very likely revise this entry to do proper justice to the subject. Anyway.

My grandma was born in England in 1922. She was a nurse aide during the second world war and bicycled through the English countryside during the blackouts delivering supplies to various hospitals and medical centres, one time pitching headfirst into a ditch and knocking out some teeth. She became interested in communism following the war and has remained a principled leftist and keen political observer. During the brief time between leases one summer that I lived with her, I was more up on current events (especially local and provincial politics) than I have ever been in my life. Long story short: my grandma is awesome, and I am unmitigated scum for not calling her as often as I should.

Bringing it back to VeganMoFo, though, my grandma was also the person who taught me to bake. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of standing on a footstool at her kitchen counter making jam tarts – tiny, simple tarts made of basic pastry and homemade raspberry jam. Baking jam tarts with my grandma was my absolute, bar-none favorite thing when I was five years old. It’s hard to remember now how much I was actually able to do, but at the time, it seemed like my grandma hardly did any of the work, which meant that I was, at five, a totally awesome baker. Of course, grandma must have done most of the work (I live with a five-year-old now, and she is balls in the kitchen), but she did it in such a way that I felt like I was in charge. I guess the really awesome thing she did was give me confidence, and I am thankful that that confidence in my ability to make food has carried through to today.

I’m not an amazing cook. I’m a pretty good baker and definitely serviceable in the kitchen, but I know when I’m out of my league. I make the odd crappy dish (like the first thing I ever made for my husband and didn’t have any time at all and only had shitty knives and pots and pans, and the kitchen was a mess, and I was so nervous, and my dish sucked so bad, and I was so embarassed oh my god), and I still sometimes have to throw things away and start from scratch, but I’ve never had to deal with the hand-wringing, anxiety-inducing crises of confidence that so many people have when it comes to cooking. Cooking and baking have never been scary to me, and for that, I think I largely have my grandma to thank.

I had meant to post the recipe for those little jam tarts before I found out about the accident, but now I can’t call my grandma to get the pastry recipe she used. Instead, I’ll just have to leave you with a promise to make them tomorrow and admonitions to all call your grandmas, you unappreciative jerks.

VeganMoFo: Cultural Soup Hegemony!
October 1, 2008, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Veganism, VeganMoFo | Tags: , , ,

For this, the first day of VeganMoFo, I decided to try some cultural appropriation in the form of my friend Mel C‘s Vietnamese-style Soup.

As a Canadian, I live in a multicultural society, but as a vegan, I sometimes find my ability to try truly authentic foods from different cultures and ethnic groups hampered. I couldn’t tell you what prosciutto tastes like, where to get a good plate (I think it’s served on a plate, anyway) of ceviche, or even how to properly pronounce “pho” (well, until I read Mel’s blog entry on that particular dish). In short, while I am eager to try new things, I am, at least in my town, sometimes unable. So, in the spirit of actually trying something new (and in the spirit of cheering up my recently-single sister, whose lust for Vietnamese soups is impressive and insatiable), I set out to make Mel’s Vietnamese-style soup.

Mel’s recipe calls for some ingredients not available in “regular” supermarkets, so I made a run over to Lucky 97 “Oriental Market” for some provisions. I visit Lucky 97 pretty regularly (I am lucky to live a 15 or 20-minute walk away from both an Italian supermarket and Lucky 97), but some of the ingredients in this soup had me wandering the aisles, looking, I’m sure, very much like the clueless white girl I am. Tamarind paste had me particularly mystified, and I never did find Ngo Om, a supposedly common herb in Vietnamese cooking. In this recipe, I ended up adding some thai basil in lieu of the Ngo Om, which is probably sacrilege, but I’m a basil freak, so I decided to go with it and put my own distinctive Western stamp on this otherwise traditional dish.

I did end up scoring tamarind paste (which, I learned, comes in seeded and unseeded varieties; I bought seeded but should have bought unseeded for this soup), lemongrass stalks, vegetarian “fish” sauce (well, called “dipping sauce” in English but “Poisson” in French), and, unrelated to the soup, steamed pumpkin buns, and some of the most amazing coconut ice cream (ingredients: coconut milk, sugar, coconut meat) I’ve ever had.

Mel’s recipe is amazingly straightforward: essentially, put all the ingredients in a pot (except whatever you use for protein and some fresh garnishes) and simmer for 35 – 45 minutes. Preparation was done while the pot bubbled, which made for amazing ease of cooking – I set up my cutting board next to the stove and just tossed stuff in as I chopped it, saving the fresher ingredients like the fresh tomato and garnishes and tofu for last.

Honestly, the hardest thing about this recipe was carting the groceries home, followed closely by getting the rather unorthodox packaging of the veggie fish sauce open. Otherwise, while I was a little hesitant to put the pineapple in for the full cooking time (I shouldn’t have been because it really added to the flavour), this was one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made.

The finished product was, by far, the best Vietnamese-style soup I’ve ever had. The broth took on a bit of the tang from the pineapple, but tempered it with a bit of heat from the chili sauce I added (not too much – I’m a wuss) and the saltiness of the broth. The soup was just spicy enough to make my nose run a bit (which means it will be perfect for cold winter nights), but with enough big chunks of pineapple and tomato and with enough herbs to make it interesting.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

And We’re Back!
March 10, 2008, 11:46 am
Filed under: Veganism | Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, it’s been an inexcusably long time since my last post. Sorry about that. Lots has been happening.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple things to blog about today, and thanks to my new(ish) camera, I hope to blog about more stuff soon. First up: Whoopie Pies.

I had never had a whoopie pie before visiting New York City in October of 2007. My friend, Amy, who graciously let me stay with her and was a great guide, showing me around the city, taking me all over the place to meet people, generally being rad, suggested them to me my first night in town when we stopped to grab pizza. The pizza joint had vegan whoopie pies from Vegan Treats, and we each picked one up. Holy shit am I glad I did.

Since that trip, I hadn’t really had much time or inclination to think about baking or cooking, evidenced, I suppose by the lack of posts on this blog. However, now that things are looking up, I’ve started thinking about food again, so, I made whoopie pies. For the cookie part, I used Kittee’s Recipe, which yielded about 24 large, delicious cookies with a soft, cakey texture. After making these, I read Melisser‘s account of making her own version using melted chocolate and adding some espresso powder, so next time, I’ll try that as well.

For the filling, I used a slightly modified version of Mel’s Cooked Buttercream, using coconut milk in place of soy. I meant to add coconut extract as well, but I forgot. The result was a miraculously fluffy, delicious filling that I struggled not to eat out of the bowl with a spoon. It was seriously the best frosting I’ve ever made, and it was much easier than I thought! I don’t know what it is about cooking things involving sugar that tends to freak me out, but recipes like Mel’s are helping me get over it.

Anyway, the result was amazing little bundles of joy that I’m having a hard time not eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!