Sunday, April 29, 2007

Otters holding hands

Click above and watch this video! It's adorable. CBC did a story on this. To watch that segment, click HERE.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rockin' Tofu

This is my favorite tofu. I like it because it's extra-firm and low in fat.

For some reason, there has been none to be had around here for over a month. I don't know what was going on, but I was getting desperate. Then a few days ago I stopped into Fortino's and there was a whole pile of them! I bought 6 packages. While Jim was helping put the food away, he said " a tofu issue?" Maybe I have & maybe I have. :o)

I used the first package in this dish from The Garden of Vegan. I've made this before and it's perfect for weeknights because it takes practically no time at all. The cookbook even says this tofu recipe rocks.

It's "Zoe and Andy's Sesame Tofu". This recipe is soooo easy. It has 6 ingredients and that's including the tofu and the oil used to fry it in. I mixed up the sauce stuff and let the tofu sit in it for a few hours (the recipe says 5 minutes). It really soaked up some of the flavour. It's a teeny bit spicy & very delicious!

I had a package of honey garlic noodles in the cupboard, so I cooked those up and used some frozen veggies that I tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted in the oven. When they were done, I drizzled them with a splash of sesame oil.

It all went magnificently with this bottle of Trius Dry Riesling. This isn't one of the bottles we got recently. This one is a 2004 vintage and is still widely available if you'd like to try it.

How simple was that for a weeknight meal?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Kids For Sale, Summer Coolers & More Seitan

On our way to take Simon to the dog park, we passed this sign. I couldn't pass it up.
We had such a spectacular weekend. The weather was gorgeous! Friday, Saturday and Sunday were around 24C (approx. 75F), the sun was shining, blue skies, a gentle breeze - perfect! I did have to work Friday & Saturday nights and I had a lot of pink customers. Remember your sunscreen people! We've been covered up for months and our skin isn't used to getting any sun exposure.

Since it was summer-like weather, I decided to try 2 coolers that I've never had before. I thought they sounded very yummy.

I wasn't really impressed. Much too sweet. I wouldn't buy them again.

Now Black Fly Coolers on the other hand are delicious & refreshing, not icky sweet. And they're really nice people. We met them at the Toronto Wine & Cheese show. It's a husband and wife team and they had their parents there helping them out. Very friendly and just nice. (And they're Canadian!)

My seitan adventure continues. I found this recipe on Beverly Lynn Bennett's website and decided to give it a try. It sounded very neutral so I figured I could use it in pretty much anything. When I mixed it up, it seemed a little weird, but I continued on.

I kneaded it for a bit and cut it into two chunks. It looked OK at this point.

After it simmered, I let it cool off in the pot still in the liquid. Once it was cool enough to handle, I transferred it to a plate. I thought it felt kind of odd, so I sliced one of the pieces open.

It was very fluffy and spongey. I don't know what went wrong. I think I measured correctly, but I could have made a boo-boo. I didn't need this right away, so I put the pieces in plastic containers, covered with the simmering liquid and put them in the freezer. I don't think seitan changes it's texture when frozen like tofu does, but I was hoping something would happen with this.

Once thawed, it was the same. It seemed to have absorbed extra liquid because it was really spongey. I squeezed as much out as I could, sliced this up into strips and seasoned with some garlic powder & cumin which was called for in the recipe I was using. I spread the strips out on a baking sheet and put it in the oven hoping it would help them to firm up a bit. It didn't work. I wasn't going to waste this and throw it out. It tasted fine, it just had a weird texture.

This was what I ended up making. I found the recipe here and substituted seitan for the chicken and used vegetarian chicken-flavoured broth. You can see in the picture how the seitan looks spongey.

It wasn't as bad as I'd feared. The dish ended up being very good and Jim & I both cleaned our plates. I even had enough left over for my lunch.
I am going to try the seitan recipe again because it would make an excellent sub for chicken. I must have must have measured wrong or something. The Vegan Chef wouldn't post a wonky recipe like that.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Only In Canada, eh?

I got this in an e-mail from my sister. I'm not sure how old it is, but it's from a Toronto newspaper. Click the image to see larger.

--->I know the blurb under the photo says "mounted" but these police officers aren't "Mounties". That's a slang term for RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). These are Toronto city cops on horseback. Like they have in NYC. Mounties (RCMP) nowadays drive cars and only use horses for parades & ceremonial events. These are on-duty policemen and working horses.

I just imagine the girl working the drive thru. "Your order totals $2.95, please drive up." HA! Wouldn't that be a surprise when she opened the window to get their money?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Seitan O'Greatness

My husband is so silly sometimes.
This year my birthday fell on Easter Sunday. You'll never believe what was included in my birthday present.

I never even thought something like this existed.

It even has poseable arms and gliding action!!

I have been having a lot of fun with this around the house. Simon is very interested in the Jesus action figure, but I've put him up high so he doesn't end up like the leprechaun.

My entire present wasn't based on silliness. Jim did also include this DVD.

I haven't even had time to watch it yet and I'm dying to. I wonder if there's a Freddie action figure? Hmmm?

I've been trying different seitan recipes to find the one that I really like. There has been a trend with bloggers lately with baked seitan. The first time I read about this was on Jess's blog. From what I understand, the original recipe appeared on the PPK forums. Several other bloggers have made this, adapting the recipe to suit their tastes and have raved about it. Look at what Crystal did with hers. Bazu, Laura, Kris and Mary, just to name a few, have all given their take on this new recipe. I was intrigued and had to try it. I wasn't sure what I would use it for in the end, so I decided to keep the spices fairly simple.

I did add paprika so it would get that nice reddish colour that everyone had with theirs.

With the wet ingredients I pretty much followed the original recipe.

Mix them together.


Knead and make a log shape. Wrap in foil and bake. Easy enough and minimal clean-up - even better.

Voila! Seitan O'Greatness.

I cut it in half and wrapped each piece well and threw it in the freezer because I didn't have any immediate plans for it. I did cut off a slice to try it and it was rather good. Flavour was nice and quite neutral and the texture was very different from any other seitan I had made.

So the seitan o'greatness sat in my freezer for about 2 weeks. We'd had a fairly hectic week, so one night I decided on a simple dinner of spaghetti. First I sauted some onions and red peppers until just barely tender. In another pan, I sauted chunks of the seitan that had been sprinkled with an Italian seasoning blend. I mixed both of those with a jarred sauce that I like and let it simmer away while the pasta cooked.

This dish turned out really well! The seitan had a nice "sausage-like" texture and tasted quite authentic. Even my omnivores (Jim & Jade) ate this up like there was no tomorrow.


The wine I picked is a real steal. This is a medium to full-bodied red wine from the Puglia region of Italy. It goes extremely well with pizza, pasta, burgers on the BBQ. It sells at the LCBO for $8.45. Can't beat that. It's one of the best wine deals out there.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I've Been Nominated!

Thank you to Vincent at Vegan Improv for nominating me for the Blogger's Choice Awards! I'm blushing. Compared to a lot of blogs I visit, I don't think mine is really that good. Maybe I thought wrong. So a big shout out to VINCENT! He is also nominated in a couple of categories, so visit his blog and click his links to vote for him. Some of the other blogs I visit also have been nominated, so vote for them too. While you're at it, don't forget me. Either click the link to the side, or click here. Thanks!

Coming To My Store?

In the back of the store, we have a shelf area set aside for customer requested holds. As I was walking by today, this hold that Tyler took caught my eye. Could it be...??

It's not "my" Bryan. We've had holds for this gentleman before. His wife was in to pick up the last one and she had absolutely no sense of humour. Come on. If you were married to someone named, say...Richard Simmons, I can see not really having fun with it. But married to someone named Brian Adams, you know something is going to be said to you. Just go with it. I would!!

Janesse that I work with had a customer named James Bond. She told him he had the coolest name and he seemed annoyed. These people have to lighten up. I'd milk it. When I was in high school I dated a guy with the last name Grant. All my friends said it would be so fun if we got married. I could be Carrie Grant. What if I married Jim Carrey. Then I'd be Carrie Carrey.

What if I married Jim Carrey, got divorced then married Drew Carey. I'd be Carrie Carrey-Carey. Or to my friends - "Carrie cubed". Got a funny name story to share? Please do!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What A Winey Week

I'm pretty sure that readers of this blog know that I'm a wine lover and also that I work for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Sometimes the combination of the two can be a bit of a curse, because I see all the delicious wines that are available, but, alas, this fair maiden can't afford them all. I have been very fortunate in the fact that I live close to wine country and through many trips to favorite wineries, being wine club members, attending tasting events, pouring at tasting events, working where I do, etc. I've been able to taste some outstanding wines. At times I even indulge and purchase my own bottles to tuck away until they are perfect and enjoy with a delicious meal.

A couple of weekends ago, I got to indulge my wine geekiness at the Toronto Wine & Cheese show. We got to taste some good wines from all over the world and I was very impressed with some of the offerings from Long Island, New Zealand and old favorites here in Ontario - Lailey, Fielding and NCTW.

The highlight for me was the LCBO's Vintages Classics Collection Tasting Area. When we first entered and started looking around, I could barely take it all in. Wonderful bottles everywhere! I cruised the tables and looked and then I came upon this.

This is one of the wines I chose when I ordered my Bordeaux Futures last year. At the time, there was a problem and it was unavailable. Then I got a call from Sarah at Vintages to say that there were some bottles that had become available and was I still interested. Hell ya! Here was my chance to taste. Mind you, this bottle was a 1995 and the one I have coming is a 2004. I quite liked it. The style, the flavour, mouthfeel, all were right up my alley. Jim liked it too.

The Consultant at that table was Gord from store #10, the Summerhill LCBO store in Toronto. This store is AMAZING! It's in an old train station. Just click here to see some photos of it. Anyhow, while chatting with him, (and letting him know I was also an LCBO employee) he poured us some tastes of some rather expensive wines.

This baby caught my eye and I just HAD to try it. This is one of the 5 Premiers Crus of Bordeaux. Retail on this particular vintage - $330. Ouch! But taste? Quite amazing.

This was a delicious Burgundy. I've had lower end wines from Louis Jadot and thought they were quite good and this producer tends to be very consistent. This one did not disappoint either.

While Jim was indulging in his love for scotch (he really liked this one) Michelle & I were chatting with another product consultant and tried a Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

This one was my favorite of the day. It was magically delicious! Compared to the Bordeauxs, it was a steal at a whopping $239. These wines are certainly out of my price range, but it sure was fun to try them. Most times, the price is driven up because of the limited amounts available. I've had some excellent wines at $30 & $40, but I sure could get used to the lavish lifestyle! :o)

There were a lot of other vendors at this event and we spent the day strolling around and trying all kinds of foodstuffs & drinks. Here we are at the Blackfly Coolers booth. We all had a lot of fun and can't wait for next year's show.

That week continued on with the wine theme. Monday morning I was home and the doorbell went. It was a delivery of some of the wine we'd ordered at the Buyer's Weekend event at Hillebrand Winery in October. This is one of our favorite things about being a wine club member with Hillebrand. They organize all kinds of activities over the weekend, but the highlight is on Saturday afternoon when they set up a big tent and inside they have old and new vintages that you can sample and buy. We'd picked out 3 favorites and ordered them pre-release.

The two whites that we liked were ready and arrived safe & sound at our door. A bonus with ordering them early is getting them at a discounted price. The Trius Riesling is one of my favorite Rieslings. The Chardonnay got 4-6 months in French oak on it's lees, so it's character flavour still shines through and makes it quite refreshing.

Then - yes, there's more! The first wave of Bordeaux futures arrived at the LCBO. Thursday night, I picked up my first shipment.

There were 2 varieties I chose that came with the first wave. I got 3 bottles of each.





From Pomerol, Chateau La Croix de Gay. It is made mostly from Merlot which makes a nice soft, flavourful wine and it got a fairly decent review.





I'm hoping this one will be a sleeper. It's from Fronsac, which until the 19th century was a very popular wine region. It is now a less prestigious region in Bordeaux than say St. Emilion or Haut-Medoc. It's a Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend and quite often these "off the beaten path" areas can offer really good wines at an excellent value.


The rest of our wines are to be released around June and I'm looking forward to getting them. Until then, we've got a wine tasting event on Saturday that I'm geared up for. Ahhh, so much wine, so little time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So Long Chick'N Strips

This is a photo of my very last package of Lightlife Chick'N Strips. I had this one in the freezer and I have no more. *sniff*

I think I put it to good use. I had some veggies in the fridge that were going to be past their prime very soon, so what better way than to use some up than in a stir-fry.

Once everything was tender-crisp, I poured on some spicy Szechwan sauce, tossed it all together and served it over skinny Chinese noodles. It turned out very well and seemed like a fitting farewell to the Chick'N Strips.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

April 8, 2007

Today is a great day! I have 3 terrific things to include in this post.

First off -
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!! I am such a bad girl - I didn't go to church today when I should have.

Also happening today -
That's me!

I got to start my birthday celebrations off right last night.

My Leafs won! They beat their old rivals, Montreal.
They haven't secured a playoff spot yet. The Islanders have to lose today against New Jersey. The Devils should win, but we'll wait and see how it goes. At least the Leafs knocked the Habs out of playoff contention.
Hey Kleo, Tucker got an assist on one of the goals.
If you're interested in seeing the recap of a roller-coaster ride of a game, click here. You get a quick glimpse of Darcy around the 2:07-2:09 mark. He wears #16 and I believe he still has all of his teeth.

Friday, April 06, 2007

More Slow Cooker Cooking

I'm so glad I resurrected my slow cooker and bought Fresh From The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. I've been having a fun time playing around with the two. This time I made Barbecued Seitan and Layered Vegetables.

Although this wasn't my absolute favorite recipe from the book so far, it was still very good and very flavourful. I will make this again, but tweak it to my tastes. I found the vegetables to be a bit overdone, so next time I will add them in later so they don't cook so long.

The slow cooking sauce was delicious and it smothered, among other things, seitan slices, potatoes, carrots, zucchini, peppers - a real 'cowboy cookout' kind of meal. But I'm no cowboy, so I had this with my dinner.

This wine is from Fontanafredda in the Piedmont region of Italy. A delicious blend of barbera and nebbiolo varieties, this medium bodied wine was a great match for the slow cooked BBQ dinner.


On a different note....countdown to the playoffs! This one is going to be a real nail-biter. My beloved Leafs are in a neck and neck race with 4 other teams for the last playoff spot. After an exciting overtime win against Philadelphia the other night, there are only two regular season games left for Toronto. Tonight they play the Islanders which is one of the teams they're battling with. Then, the mother of all season finales - with only 1 point separating them in the standings, on Saturday night, playing the last regular season game of the year, my Leafs play the ultimate rival.
Sacrebleu!! I'm praying hard. Go Leafs Go!

This is just a gratuitous photo for Kleopatra. It's (as she called him) stone cold gorgeous, Alberta-born, fellow Pisces, Darcy Tucker.

Just a bit of trivia for ya - Darcy was drafted by the dreaded Montreal Canadiens in 1993 and played for a couple of years with their farm team, affectionately called the Baby Habs, which was located in my hometown of Fredericton. I wasn't living there at the time though, dammit! Also, Darcy is a wine lover & avid collector.