Saturday, July 29, 2006

I'm Still Around

Things have been crazy this week! I've really been working overtime and haven't been cooking much. I haven't been doing anything really except working and getting a tiny bit of sleep. Meals have been either eaten at work or have been quick convenience dinners, but I felt I should post something. So here is dinner from Thursday. Nothing fancy for sure. I zipped into Longo's to see if I could get something quick. They didn't have a very large vegetarian section. I ended up getting Zoglo's "Chicken" Patties.

Not the best I've ever had, but good enough. I just heated them in the toaster oven and served them on buns with lettuce and mayo.

We also had some Tasti Taters and cole slaw. Not gourmet, but it sure hit the spot. I really like food like this anyway.

I should have some time over the weekend to visit everyone and see what you've all been up to this past week. I've posted comments on some blogs already and will continue to do so over the next day or so.

I think we're all getting hot, sticky temperatures from the sounds of things. Keep cool everybody!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Prelude to Christmas

Blogger has been giving me trouble today, so I wasn't able to put this all in one post.

I've been dying to try Isa's cupcakes since I've heard nothing but raves about them. And now I had the perfect opportunity. It was once again time for Christmas in July. (There is more about this event below).

I guess we all have our mishaps in the kitchen and I'm certainly no exception. I was making Lemon Gem Cupcakes from
Vegan With a Vengeance, but something was amiss. Do these look right to you?

They were all sunken in the middle. Oh No! I'm supposed to be taking these for a potluck. So I started again. This time I mixed everything up according to the recipe again, but let the batter sit in the bowl for about 10 minutes before I poured it into the pans. And, I filled them almost to the top. This time, much better results.

To see the completed cupcakes and to learn more about Christmas in July...the rest of this post follows below.

Christmas In July

Since we're so busy at the wine store during December, it's almost impossible to have a staff Christmas party, so we have Christmas in July. My boss, Bill, manages two stores and we always do joint functions. Jackie, who works at my store, and her husband, Paul offered their backyard and their services at hosts. It's always a potluck with the store supplying the wine and some of the food. I prefer potlucks because then I can always be sure I'll have at least one thing to eat. Last year there was a roasted pig which was the most disgusting thing I've ever seen. I don't even want to get into that one again. Even the omnis didn't like it that much. This year was just cold cuts, buns and lots & lots of fruit. Everyone did a great job with their dishes and I was able to fill up pretty good. I made Black Beans and Rice Salad from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home. This is a great summer salad with a nicely spiced orange dressing.

I didn't come home with much left. Probably just enough to have as a side for part of another meal. Everyone was saying how different it was and how tasty. I was about to win everyone over in a big way with the cupcakes.

This is the tray I took. I wasn't sure how many people were going to be there from the Stoney Creek store, but when I figured all the Burlington store staff with their spouses I thought 2 dozen should be enough. Then I threw on 2 more for good measure.

These are Coconut Heaven Cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance and let me tell you, they are like heaven. I ate two of them while I was still at home getting ready. I would love these for my birthday 'cake'. They are to die for!

Here are the Lemon Gem cupcakes all finished. More people ooooed and ahhhhed over these ones than the coconut ones. A lot of the women asked for the recipe and when I said they were vegan, stunned faces looked back at me. "But they're so good!" one person said. Ahh, yea. I don't like eating crap, so I try to make tasty food. After all the trouble I initially had with these babies, it was nice to see they were such a hit. I came home with about 5 coconut cupcakes and 1 lemon.

We played a really fun game too. Bill had downloaded a bunch of theme songs from 80's TV shows and we had to guess what they were. For prizes of course. Jim & I did pretty good and ended up winning 3 times. I won a ladies Colio golf shirt and a GIANT bottle of BBQ sauce. Jim won 2 bottles of wine. One of the great things about working at the wine store - all functions include wine and wine is always a prize of some sort. Here I am looking all goofy drawing the next winner.

And Melinda won! Yea Mel! She was the one who trained me when I started working there. And guess what she won?

A 3 litre bottle of Cabernet Franc Reserve! It sells for $70 at the store. Way to go Melinda!

I'll finish off with a picture of some of the staff parading around the pool in ridiculous hats. (I think pretty much everyone was tipsy by this point). The craziest hat was worn by Lorin but you can't really see it too well. It was getting dark by this point. It looked like a Christmas tree, complete with tinsel, silver balls and a star on top. She made it herself and that earned her top prize.


We had a really great time; stayed until midnight, then packed it in. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Vegan With A Vengeance

A few weeks ago, I got a puffy envelope in the mail from my Mom. Oooo, she was sending me a present. I like presents. Even more so when it's not my birthday or Christmas. Inside were these. Chopsticks she brought back from her trip to Japan. They even came with a little stand to rest them on between bites.

There was a pinky-red pair for me and a blue pair for Jim. Aren't they cool? Also in the envelope were these little green packages. Sometimes Carrie's not to swift on the uptake and I said "What are these? Wet-Naps? Why is Mom sending us Wet-Naps from Japan?" DUH!! I then clued in. It's tea! Didn't I feel a little stupid. Cut me some slack - there was no English whatsoever on the packages.

I decided it was high time we put these babies to work. And I've been dying to try a particular recipe and with the heat we've been having, a coolish dinner seemed just right. Here we have Cold Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan from Vegan with a Vengeance!

I used up the rest of the seitan I had made and this dish was really good. I didn't have scallions, so I used green onions.

Jim really liked the peanut sauce that goes with it. It made A LOT for just the 2 of us, so we now have dinner for tonight.

Earlier in the day I made Cherry-Almond Muffins also from
Vegan With a Vengeance.

Isa has come up with a really good muffin here. What a fantastic flavour combination! The only thing I did different for this was cut the amount of almond extract in half. I love almonds, but not a big fan of the extract flavour. One teaspoon gave just a hint which was perfect.

If you haven't made these yet.....what are you waiting for!? Cherry season is almost over. GO! Make them now! You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What A Deal

I've been very lucky scoring food related deals this week.

A few days ago, Dreena has posted a comment on
her blog saying that someone had told her Muir Glen was pulling out of Canada because of the expense of bilingual labelling. I was a tad upset over this because I adore Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes. Now I'm on a mission to stock up while I can. A couple of nights ago, I was at Ultra Mart and was very excited to see 28oz. cans on sale for $2.77. There were 4 left, so I bought them all. I'm seriously thinking of going to the other Ultra Mart that is way across town to get more. Am I crazy? Probably, but I just love these tomoatoes and panic sets in when I think that they won't be available to me except when we go to the States.


Before my shift at the wine store yesterday, I had some time to kill so I browsed around Fortino's. Good thing I did. I scored three excellent deals. First off, they had Kettle Chips on sale - 3 for $5. Needless to say, I bought 3.


Then I happened upon Natur-a Rice Milk for $1.50 per container! I've never tried it, but at this price, how could I not?


Then....yes there's more. I told you I've been lucky.

They had Santa Cruz Organic lemonade on sale for 99 cents. The regular price is $3.29!! I got 3 of them.

With that, I think I've probably exhausted my luck for finding food deals until 2007. That's OK. I'm very happy with my goodies.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Look what the delivery man brought.


And inside was this.


Way back in October, Jim and I went to our second Buyer's Club Weekend at Hillebrand Estates Winery. It's a special annual event held for wine club members. We got to taste (and purchase if so desired) some of the goodies from their library, but the highlight was the pre-release sampling day. At this special event, we got to taste a selection of the new stuff. Some of the wines we tasted were straight from the tank or barrel and were not ready to be even bottled. It gave us a sneak preview of what to expect and a chance to buy bottles at a bit of a discount. We really liked this one so we pre-ordered a half case. It was recently released and came right to my door! We also got a half case of the 2004 Trius Cabernet Sauvignon.
So now I have the daunting task of picking which one to try first and what dishes to make to serve with it. My goodness, my life is full of such tough decisions.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Ethiopian Seitan and Peppers

On Friday, before dinner, I dug this out and Jim and I had a glass. Are you wondering how we ended up with a bottle (I have 2 actually) of Chardonnay with Legislative Assembly of Ontario on the label?

On one of our many trips up to Niagara-on-the-Lake and on one of our many stops at Hillebrand Estates Winery we spent the afternoon with our friend, Archie, who poured for us in the winery's wine club members room. He happened to point out this unique back vintage that was sitting on the shelf. Hillebrand had been selected to supply the wine for Queen's Park that year, hence the label. Archie opened one for shits & giggles and we really liked it. It was soft and buttery, with just enough oak. I seem to remember it being a reasonable price so we bought 2 bottles. The next time we were up, I asked Archie if there were anymore available. He sort of laughed and said that those bottles weren't supposed to be for sale. They were for the winery's library. Ooops!

Onto dinner! While I was home from work on Friday, I made seitan from Vegan with a Vengeance. It turned out spectacularly well. I then used that to make, also from VwaV, Ethiopian Seitan and Peppers. OMG!! Was it ever yummy! And it was soooo easy.

We had it with some brown rice and Quick Roast Green Beans and Peppers from The Everyday Vegan. I know I'm nuts for cooking in the heat, but I wanted hot FOOD! It was a delicious dinner that made enough that we can have the leftovers for another meal.

I also wanted to show you what Jim brought home for me.

Aren't they absolutely beautiful? I've been staring at them all night.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Did You Notice?

No one has commented on this and I think it's a riot. Photo #2 below has an enormous drool factor, no doubt about that. But look what's in the background. An overturned vehicle and a rescue crew. Why isn't hunky helping? He's just standing there all babelicious with a giant smile.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Just for the record, the RCMP or as they are more commonly called, Mounties look like this on a daily basis.

Not this.

These are ceremonial uniforms reserved for parades, special occaisions/events or for the Musical Ride.

OK, I'm glad we've cleared that up.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I don't usually blog about my weekday breakfasts, because they tend to be rather boring. Cereal, bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter, oatmeal or if I have some decent bread I'll make toast. Add some portable fruit, because I'm usually running out the door to work. Not a great way to start the day, so I try to make that meal, if possible, with a decent amount of nutrients. I fill my belly with whole grain breads or cereals and as fresh as I can get my fruit. (Peach time will soon be here!) That sort of meal will usually hold me over until morning break time.

Today I was home and got to have treats for breakfast. Most of you have probably picked up on the fact that I'm a big Dreena Burton fan. This morning I got out my copy of The Everyday Vegan and made Apple Swirl Loaf. Apple and cinnamon is one of the best flavour combinations going (along with chocolate and peanut butter). This loaf is scrumptious!! The scents that filled the kitchen were so enticing and homey.


I had a couple of warm slices with this - another spectacular combo. Raspberries and Blueberries!

The blueberries are a product of Somewhere USA, but the raspberries are organic local. I love berries and never get my fill. I just had these plain with a teeny sprinkle of sugar because they really don't need anything. They are perfect as is.

I added a small tub of
So Nice vanilla yogurt and a steamy cup of coffee made from fresh ground beans. With the sweetness of the loaf, the berries and the yogurt I opted for the coffee black. I don't very often have it this way, but I had some good organic beans and fresh ground makes such a huge difference.

This might not pack a giant nutritional punch, but it was still a pretty good breakfast. My tastebuds were very happy and so was my tummy.

Hey, it's my day off!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Aunt Nellie


I had a call last week from my Aunt Nellie. She was going to be in the area and wanted to come see me. The last time we had a visit was when I went home for vacation 3 years ago, so I was really looking forward to seeing her. She was in Ontario with her friend Sheila. They both work at Albert Street school in Fredericton. They stopped by to pick me up and meet Simon and we went for lunch. What a great afternoon I had. We talked and talked and talked. She and Sheila are leaving in a few days for BC and lucky them - they're going to do some travelling in the Okanagan Valley! That's big wine country.
I'm so glad she made time to squeeze me in on her busy visit.

I'm Such A Dip

More recipe testing for Dreena! This time I made a couple of dips for a potluck birthday party we had at work for Trish. It was supposed to be a surprise so there was lots of back-room planning and sneaking around, but we pulled it off. I think she was really happy with what we did.

I wanted to test out these two recipes because they sounded so darn good. Again, Dreena didn't disappoint. First we have Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus.



The flecks of colour made it very attractive and appealing.


The other dip/spread is White Bean with Fresh Thyme and Basil.

It was also very attractive looking with the green bits all through it.

Jim and I taste tested first at home. He said they were both good, but liked the flavour of the White Bean better. I also thought they were both delicious, but I prefered the Hummus. I'm a lover of sun-dried tomatoes, so that may have helped to sway my opinion.

I made these the night before the party and they took no time at all. I refrigerated them over night and we didn't have the party until the afternoon and they still kept their vibrant colours and wonderful flavours. When I told everyone there that I was recipe testing, they were very keen to try these. I served the dips with some white and whole wheat pita bread I had cut into triangles and a couple of different kinds of crackers. Preferences were split about 50/50 with everyone liking what they tasted and taking more. Trish even asked to take some home for Alain because he "loves that kind of stuff."

So I guess when the book comes out, you'll just have to make both and decide for yourself!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Peanut Better Cookies

Yesterday I had a craving for peanut butter cookies. I remembered the ones my Mom used to make and wanted something similar, but not as fatty and sweet. I immediately reached for Vive Le Vegan because I find Dreena's cookies just sweet enough, but not sicky sweet. I also didn't want a recipe that made dozens of cookies. Low and behold - Peanut Better Cookies.

I chose to make the wheat-free version that used spelt flour instead of wheat flour. These suckers came out huge! They were perfect. Not too sweet, just peanut buttery enough, chewy enough and the spelt flour gave them a great texture.

Dreena now has a new fan in Simon. He was going crazy sniffing the air when I took these out of the oven. Then, later in the evening, this took place.

Hmmm...what's this? Sure smells good. Peanut butter cookies! Oh yea!

If I stare at them long enough, I'll know they'll levitate. They just have to!

That didn't seem to work. Maybe a different angle will do the trick.

Come on cookies! Come on cookies! I'm using the power of my Jack Russell mind. Come on cookies!

Why is this not working?

Mom. Please. Give. Me. A. Cookie.

Aren't I cute? Don't you just want to give me a cookie? I'm begging you! Please may I have a cookie?!


I kid you not, he was crying! CRYING!! He wanted one of those so bad. I did give him a couple of small pieces and he gobbled them right up. He loved them. He was then, a happy boy.