Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dinner With Kleo

I was really excited to try this restaurant. Vegetarian Haven is actually a vegan restaurant. Kleo and I were happy to be able to pick ANYTHING off the menu and not have to ask if it had "bad" ingredients.

Jim, who is usually OK with eating vegan and rather adventurous when it comes to food was being a bit of a stick-in-the-mud and was going to choose a boring spaghetti dish. He later confessed he just wanted to sit and have a beer more than anything, but the restaurant doesn't serve alcohol. He eventually loosened up and decided to try something different. You'll see his dinner below.

As a "side" option, I saw "salmon". Oooo, how exciting! When I ate meat, salmon was one of my favorites and I sometimes still miss the taste so I had to try it. It tasted like a very lightly smoked salmon (I always preferred mine poached. My grandmother made it kick-ass) and was good enough but not like the real thing. Of course the texture was off. All in all, it was worth a try and I would eat it again, but it wasn't "salmon-like" enough to fool anyone.

The menu at this place is packed full of so many dishes we had a hard time choosing. It was a case of "I think I'll have this. Oh! Wait! Maybe I'll get this instead. Didn't see that. That sounds good. Maybe I'll try that." Needless to say it took a while to decide what we wanted.

I was hungry and after my salmon taster I was ready to eat. I started with a salad that had a nice vinaigrette dressing. Kleo and I shared that. Jim was outside with my phone checking the web for a hockey score. He's not much of a salad eater anyway. (Just now, I was checking out the restaurant's website and I see they have a salad called Cleopatra salad! I wish I'd seen that when we were there because I would have so ordered it!)

Then came our main courses.

This is Kleo's plate. She opted for Shanghai Chow Mein. It came with tofu "ham", shitake mushrooms, peppers and lots of other tasty stuff. On the side, cauliflower, broccoli and some baby bok choy. Mmmm! She let me have a taste and it was really, really good.

Jim chose "Seafood" Shanghai Chow Mein. It came with some of the "salmon" and "King Prawn". I was very interested to see what he thought of mock seafood because we've never tried it before. He didn't like the "salmon" (so I ate it!) but said the "prawns" were very close. He ate almost his whole meal except for his broccoli. Bad boy!

I got the special of the day which was Zesty Cutlets made from seitan. The sauce was like a sweet & sour with little pineapple chunks. It even had "skin" on it to make it seem more chicken like I guess. On the side were some delicious skinny little noodles that I just love, and some cauliflower and broccoli. This was so incredibly good and the sauce was so delicious I wanted to pick up my plate and lick it clean. But I held back. Wouldn't want to embarrass Kleo.

We were all pretty full, but the dessert showcase was calling us. We thought we'd just get one dessert and share it. The waitress brought over a dessert menu and it didn't take long for us to decide what we wanted. All of us agreed in about 30 seconds - Chocolate Fudge Cake!

Holy doodle! This was chocolate heaven. The cake was so dark and dense and every once and a while, I'd get a nice chunk of chocolate on my fork. The icing was creamy and chocolatey and not too sweet. It was utterly perfect.

The staff were wonderful. Very friendly and chatty and one of the waitresses said this was her favorite restaurant and she was so glad to be able to work there. I got that impression with all of the staff.

On our way out I spotted some cookies for sale for take-out. I got one for me and one for Kleo.

These are spelt chocolate chunk cookies and they were awesome. Nice and chewy with very good quality chocolate in large chunks throughout the cookie. I liked mine so much I went to the website to see if I could order some or if they had cookies for sale somewhere close to me. No such luck! I guess I'll just have to go back to Vegetarian Haven.

We left the restaurant and headed back to the subway. Along the way we passed a bread factory and the smells coming from that place were sumptuous, I just wanted to stand there and breathe it all in.

We grabbed the subway and went back to Union Station and as we pulled in the platform was crowded with people in their hockey jerseys. Game was over and the Leafs lost in a shoot-out. Crap!

While Jim grabbed a pretzel, Kleo and I hit the ladies room. Since I'm usually on the lookout for post-worthy bathrooms for
Alex I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take some photos. Now Kleopatra is even more famous!

It was getting late and Kleo had to catch a plane in the morning, so we started heading back. Along the way, we stopped at
Dominion so she could grab some Canadian maple syrup to take back to California. She also got a couple of packages of Maple Leaf creme cookies.

I didn't want my evening with Kleo to end. I had such a great time with her. It felt like we were old friends. We exchanged addresses, had some hugs and said goodnight. Luckily, with the internet, she's still pretty close. Thanks Kleo for your wonderful company!

The verdict on the Primal Strips - DELICIOUS!!

This Is Disgusting

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters Life!) - A new fast food is making its debut at U.S. fairs this fall -- fried Coke.

Abel Gonzales, 36, a computer analyst from Dallas, tried about 15 different varieties before coming up with his perfect recipe -- a batter mix made with Coca-Cola syrup, a drizzle of strawberry syrup, and some strawberries.
Balls of the batter are then deep-fried, ending up like ping-pong ball sized doughnuts which are then served in a cup, topped with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry on the top.
"It tastes great," said Sue Gooding, a spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas where Gonzales' fried Coke made its debut this fall. "It was a huge success."
Gonzales ran two stands at the State Fair of Texas and sold up to 35,000 fried Cokes over 24 days for $4.50 each -- and won a prize for coming up with "most creative" new fair food.
Now other fairs in North Carolina and Arizona are following the trend, and other people are trying to emulate Gonzales' recipe.
Gonzales gave no indication of the calories in his creation and said he would not patent it.
"The best I can hope for is that it's the original and hopefully the best fried Coke out there," he said.
But Gonzales said the success of his fried Coke had inspired him. Next year's fair-goers can look forward to fried Sprite or -- for those watching their weight -- fried diet Coke.
"We are trying to cut a lot of the sugar out of it. It has less calories but it's still very, very sweet," he said.
Ray Crockett, a spokesman for Coca-Cola Co., said: "We're constantly amazed at the creative ways folks find to enjoy their Coke and make it part of celebrations like fairs and festivals. This is one is definitely different!"

This one is definitely gross!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fun on Saturday

Yea!! Look who I hung out with on Saturday.

It's KleoPatra! On Saturday afternoon, Jim and I drove into Toronto and picked up Kleo who was in town for her nephew's wedding. OMG! She is sooooo nice and such fun. We had a great time bopping around the city.

When we first hooked up, she had a bag of goodies for me. In it was:

OK. How thoughtful is she? I friggin' love Hershey bars from the USA. Along with the regular plain Hershey's, Kleo brough some Cookies n' Chocolate and Fudge Creme Hershey bars.

She also brought me some Primal Strips. I've heard about these before, but have never seen them in Canada, so this was also a big treat. Kleopatra says these are one of her favorite snacks. I think I'm going to tuck one into my lunch for tomorrow and give it a try.

We drove to downtown Toronto and parked in our usual spot near the ACC. It's a pretty good location because we were within walking distance to the things Kleo had mentioned that she wanted to check out.

First stop was the Air Canada Centre. There was a hockey game on Saturday night. Leafs vs. NY Rangers. We SHOULD have had tickets because Jim's partner has had a long time customer, Michael Nylander. Jim had asked Ron earlier in the year to ask if the Rangers were in town, could Michael get us some tickets. Michael said "Sure! No problem! Just remind me the day before." Well, Ron isn't a hockey fan in the least so he forgot and we never got tickets. I wish we could have taken Kleo to a game. Anyway, we got to go in and check out the lobby area and get a bit of a feel of what the place is like on game night.

Then we walked down by the CN Tower so she could have a look at it and Kleo also wanted to check out Rogers Centre AKA Skydome, although that is not it's official name any longer. It was all locked up, so we couldn't get in. But we were able to go into the hotel that's attached to it and sit in the little bar area which has a huge window that looks out onto the field.

You can't see it in this photo, but they were set up for football. The Toronto Argonauts play here. That's CFL.

We then walked down to Yonge Street and past The Hockey Hall of Fame. They don't have very good hours and close at 6pm on Saturday, but at least we got to look at the building. :o) From there, we walked down Yonge Street to have a look at Lake Ontario. Sorry, no pictures. It was dark by this time.

Kleopatra also said she wanted to go on the subway. By this point we were getting kind of hungry and decided to go for something to eat.

Here is Kleo and Jim waiting for the train at Union Station.


Here's Kleopatra Riding The Rocket. The blanket she's holding was a promo from the Air Canada Centre. She's going to take it home to her nephew, a hockey fan, who was babysitting Mattie.

We got off the subway, walked a few blocks and ended up at our restaurant destination.

Stay tuned for "Dinner With Kleo"!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Meet My New Employer

I got the job! I applied, went on a brutal interview and was successful. I now work for The Liquor Control Board of Ontario. I am so stoked you have no idea! Unfortunately, I'll have to give up my job at the wine store. Conflict of interest. This position is part-time to start, so I have to keep my icky job, but the potential is there for full-time and I want it so I'm going to work my ass off. I am now an employee of the provincial government. The FUN part of the provincial government. Sweet.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Quorn & Campbell's

First I want to just say how amazing my father is. A few weeks ago, I had one of the worst days at work that I've had in a long time. Just "one of those days". I was so glad when it hit quitting time. All I wanted to do was come home. I stopped to check my mail and there was a puffy envelope in the box from my dad. Hmmm....what could this be? Maybe another CD of my brother's band? A game? A cool program he'd found? Lo and behold! He sent me DVD copies of

Bryan Adams Live at Slane Castle & Bryan Adams Live at Budokan

along with a note saying "Thought you might like to have these." AWESOME! I heart my dad! XO


Onto food.

Years ago, there used to be little recipe cards at the grocery stores put out by Campbell's Soup. A lot of the recipes involved meat, but I was a meat eater then, so it wasn't an issue. I tried quite a few of these recipes and found them to be quite tasty, quick and easy. Somewhere along the line I also acquired a few Campbell's soup recipe booklets. I've been able to adapt a lot of them to vegetarian very easily and this one is a dish I really like. I used Quorn Naked Cutlets and Imagine No-Chicken Broth in place of chicken and chicken broth.


Heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil at medium-high in a large skillet.

Add 4 Quorn Naked Cutlets and cook until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Stir in 1 1/4 cups
Imgaine No-Chicken Broth or vegetable broth of your choice, 3/4 cup orange juice and 1 medium onion, chopped. Heat to boil.

Stir in 1 cup uncooked long grain rice, 1 1/2 cups fresh (cut up) green beans and 1 tsp. grated orange peel.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook about 10 minutes.

Return Quorn cutlets to skillet. Simmer covered until rice has absorbed most of the liquid - about another 10 minutes. Remove Quorn and keep warm.

Stir 3 tbsp. chopped parsley into the rice mixture. I then put some rice on a plate and nestle a Quorn piece into it.

Voila! Dinner is served in 30 minutes. And it's quite tasty.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My Friend Chris & Niagara Falls.

When I was starting out exploring a vegetarian diet, I turned to the internet for a lot of information. I found some great sites and dropped in on chat rooms and joined some Yahoo groups to be able to talk with like-minded people and to gain knowledge from their experiences. One person I met early on and connected with was my friend, Chris. He lives in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. We've been internet friends for about 6 years now. We exchange e-mails, photos, Christmas cards, etc. In the late summer, he e-mailed to inform me that he had finalized plans for a 4 month multi-continent trip and Ontario was included in his plans and he wanted to meet up. He was staying in Toronto for a few days and wanted to go to Niagara Falls so I quickly volunteered to be his tour guide for the falls. He took the train from Toronto and Jim and I picked him up at the Burlington station. He booked a nice bed and breakfast nearby and stayed overnight.

This is Chris. (in mid-sentence. Love to get "action shots". HA!) He's 67 and was raised vegetarian and has been vegan since his 30's. He even eats raw about 60%. He said he tried a raw diet to help alleviate some joint pain and muscle stress and he felt so good after such a short time, that he tries to stick to it as much as he can.

Here's another "action shot". This time I'm in mid-sentence. This was actually taken at Niagara Falls. Since Blogger is being difficult lately, I don't seem to be able to upload a lot of photos on one post, so here's just a couple of the falls.

This one shows the Niagara River just as it's pouring over the edge. See the bridge in the background? That's United States. At one point, the two sides of the countries are so close, if it wasn't for the roar of the water, you could actually yell across and be heard.

We had talked on the phone and were making plans of things we could do. When you live somewhere, you forget what a tourist might like to see. One thing Jim suggested was going on Maid of the Mist and Chris seemed really keen on it. Maid of the Mist is the name of the boat that will take you right up as close to the falls as possible. Jim was born in Toronto and has spent all of his life in Southern Ontario and I've lived here for 21 years and neither one of us has ever done this boat ride. Jade was the only one who had been on before. She was the seasoned veteran of our group that day.


This is my favorite shot. You can really see how huge Niagara Falls is. This is the Canadian side called Horseshoe Falls. If you click on this link you can see a cool satellite image.

Niagara Falls isn't just for honeymooners. Dogs love to take in the sites too. This little guy was with his owner admiring the view. By his accented bark, I think he might have been from some borough of New York City. Brooklyn, the Bronx? I can't tell, but he seemed to be enjoying his vacation time.

Now is Chris comtemplating the wonder of Mother Nature and how some things in this world are so amazing they just make us feel so utterly small? Or was he having second thoughts about this boat trip?

Here we are suited up in our provided rain gear and ready to go!

My Friend Chris & Niagara Falls, part deux

This photo was taken from the boat. It's a great shot of the American side of Niagara Falls.

We're getting closer.......YIKES!

Remember, we're on this boat.

We got to a point where we were very close and there was nothing but mist. It was like being in a rain shower. I snapped this one quick and then put my camera away. I didn't want it to get wet and ruined.


Jade got wet.

Chris couldn't see through his glasses. See how he's got his camera rigged up. He put his camera in a plastic bag, cut a very small hole where the lens goes and bought a special filter which he screwed on the outside of the bag. He kept his camera watertight and was still able to get photos close-up. When he sends me his shots, I'll have to post them.


Here's my honey. He got wet too, but had a blast.


This is a shot from the boat up to where I was standing when I took pictures of the boat in the water. Hellloooo up there!

Here we are back at the dock safe and sound and a little damp. After, we cruised around Niagara Falls for a while, then headed to St. Catherine's to find a restaurant. We were all famished. Nothing seemed to open until 5pm on a Sunday. How odd. So we ended up back in Burlington and went to a great Indian restaurant called The Bombay Grill. Lots of veg*n selections. We were so hungry, I forgot to take a picture of my food. I got a sampler plate that was to die for. The waiter was so nice and we all left stuffed. I forgot to take pictures of the food, but remembered the bathroom.

So Chris has continued on his journey. He's been to Nova Scotia, Montreal, and is going to Vancouver, Chicago, Fort Worth, San Fransisco, Yukon, Oklahoma, Argentina, Austrailia, New Zealand and I can't remember where else. Have a safe trip Chris! Talk to you when you get back to England.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Shopping In The USA

We hadn't been to the States in quite a while and were out of all our veggie stuff from the last trip, so it was time we hightailed it to the border.

We decided to go on a Thursday figuring that the stores wouldn't be too busy or the border crossing either.

We like to cross over at Queenston and head into Lewiston, NY. From there we hit Niagara Falls, NY, Buffalo and points in between.

It looks sort of busy in this picture, but our actual wait was maybe 10 minutes. The highways weren't busy either and we made excellent time.

Good Lord! I took this in Tonawanda, NY.

Tim Horton's is taking over North America. We went to Dunkin Donuts. I like their coffee and donuts. Maybe because it's different. Maybe because it tastes better.


This time we did some kick-ass shopping. I was able to get a jump start on my Christmas shopping - yahoo!! I can't tell you anything about that because if the people who I got presents for read this then it will spoil the surprise. Besides, wouldn't we rather just get right to the food?

Along with our usual stock up of Quorn products, Veat and Morningstar favorites, I got some Tofurky selections that I haven't seen in Canada yet. We're slowly getting more and more here, but we still don't have everything.

Below I've added some photos of items I got excited about. First off - Newman-O's!

I've heard nothing but good things about these cookies. While we have some Paul Newman products available in Canada, I haven't seen the cookies. I got 3 different kinds to try. Now one of two things will happen. Next week they will be at the grocery store here, available to be had anytime OR these will be the best store-bought cookies I've ever had in my life and if I want more, I'll have to go to NY. I haven't tried them yet, but will give my verdict when I do.

This was the deal of the century. We were in Target and on an end display I saw tubes of Tom's of Maine toothpaste on sale for $1.54. Around here, they're about $5-$6 a tube! So I got 3, and thought of Vicki and her toothpaste buying extravaganza.

Up next....oh yea.


I hit the motherlode. Not only were there cans upon cans of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, THEY WERE ON SALE! Oh, I was dancing in the aisle. Jim ran and hid somewhere else so no one knew he was with me. Well, OK. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I got these babies for $2.29 a can, which is awesome because I'm usually paying $3.59 - if I can find them.


The barley is quick cooking which I've seen mentioned in recipes, but can never seem to find around here. Quinoa pasta is something new as are the Kamut puffed cakes. I thought they all sounded interesting so I'll give them a try. Bush's Beans I've had before and really like them. They remind me of canned beans I had as a kid but without the chunk of pork fat in it. The only vegetarian canned baked beans I've been able to find here are with tomato sauce which I don't like, or with maple, which is good, but not the same. I stocked up on beans this time.


I liked the Santa Cruz Lemonade that I got on sale a while ago, that I wanted to try their Limeade. Also, go the sugar cheap, cheap, cheap. Just over $2. The cereal was another product that looked interesting, so I'll give it a go. Also picked up an assortment of Newman organic chocolate bars and our usual stockpile of Hershey bars. Yes, we have Hershey bars in Canada, but they are not the same. The American ones are much, much better.

We can't go shopping and not bring anything home for Simon.

Better Than Ears were on sale! Simon goes crazy for those things. They contain no chicken products so there are no worries about his allergies. Same as Blue Dog Bakery. He's had peanut butter and molasses cookies before, but these are soft ones. Simon gets to try something new too!