Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Muffins - Past & Present

Muffins are the perfect "grab & go" snack. I try to always have some made and since they are also perfect for freezing, I can keep the extras frozen and just thaw as needed.
I was going through some photos, and realized I didn't post this. Remember the lovely peaches I got in the summer?

I used some of them to make some of the best muffins I have ever had. Where did I get the recipe for these you ask?

These muffins have a topping that is so delicious. It's crumbly & nutty & sweet. Just like me! Except for the crumbly part.

The muffin itself is wonderfully moist. I've only ever made these with fresh peaches even though the recipe calls for frozen. These are not a healthy muffin by any means, but for a nice sweet treat, they are perfect with a steaming cup of fresh coffee.

That's the past, now to the present, but before we move onto more muffins....look what I got yesterday. First, my new shoelaces.

Aren't they far-out, cool, man? Yea! I saw these and had to have them. So I bought 2 pairs. I threw on Meddle, lit some incense and threaded these into my shoes. It felt so '70's. Groovy. Can you dig it?

Then Jim came home with these.

For no reason.

I never think of roses as one of my favorite flowers, but really they are. The scent is so distinctive and perfect for the flower. The blooms seem so complex, yet very delicate. And whatever your mood, there's a colour for it! The sad part is their beauty doesn't last nearly long enough. I guess Jim will have to keep bringing me fresh ones. ;o)

OK, back to muffins. I had all of the ingredients on hand for these and they sounded interesting, so I decided to give them a go. I'm glad I did!

From Vegan With a Vengeance, Sunny Blueberry-Corn Muffins. These are delightful! The cornmeal gives them such a pretty colour.

And we all know that lemon & blueberry were practically made for each other. I did use frozen blueberries in these but would love to try them with fresh. These will definitely be made again.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Boeuf" Bourguignon

This photo isn't very clear because it's a picture I took of a picture. (My scanner isn't hooked up - it's on the list of "things to do"). Anyway, this is Simon the day we brought him home. He's about 10 weeks old here. The little handkercheif around his neck was a going away present from his old home.

We got him in Hamilton and he cried in the truck all the way back to Burlington. Jim & I knew that when we got home, he might be a little timid and unsure of his new surroundings, so we were just going to let him explore, but keep an eye on him from a distance. Well, he charged in like gangbusters and took right over. There was no settling in period - just BANG! I'm here!!
It's been like that ever since. That's why we're known as the House of Simon. HRH is kind enough to let us live here.

Look at him now. So cheeky!

Winter seems to have settled upon us again. We've been getting the strangest weather this year. It was going along normally - snow, cold, a little more snow, then BAM! it was +16C in January. We broke records that day. It stayed warm for a couple of days then BAM! we were in the death grips of freezing temps. I mean freeeeezing! The kind where your cheeks feel frozen after a minute or so outside and you're afraid to smile in case your skin cracks. The other day I woke up and it's snowed again, but we've had a much more agreeable temperature of -6C.

When it's cold outside, I want good, hearty, comforting meals. I love being all warm and snug inside, cozied up with a steaming plate of delicious food while the wind howls outside. I used to love boeuf bourguignon and haven't had it since I went veg. I decided it was high time I vegetized it & I'm happy to report - the results were excellent! (I've posted the recipe below)

Normally this dish is served with boiled potatoes, but I had some little potatoes that I roasted and some yellow beans that I just did simply with red pepper.

Jim liked this as well and said it tasted pretty close to the real thing. We had leftovers that were just as delicious, if not more so, the next day. This doesn't take long to make, nor is it very difficult. If you try this, I'd be interested in your feedback.

“Boeuf “ Bourguignon

2 pounds seitan, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 bottle of dry red wine, preferably a young Burgundy, but a Merlot will also work fine
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
olive oil
6-8 slices veggie bacon, chopped (I used 6 slices of Yves Canadian bacon)
3 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups vegetarian “beef” broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs thyme
8 oz. Shallots (can use pearl onions)
sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tbsp. margarine
¼ lb. mushrooms, cut into chunks

Place the seitan chunks into a large dish. Pour entire bottle of wine over seitan and add 2-3 sprigs of thyme. Stir to make sure thyme is into the wine and chunks are covered. Marinate in refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pot. Add bacon and sauté until lightly browned. Remove from pot and set aside.

Drain the seitan, reserving wine marinade, but discarding the thyme sprigs. In the same pot that was used for the bacon, brown the seitan in olive oil, working in batches if necessary. Remove and set aside.

Still using the same pot, add carrots, celery and onion (and more oil if necessary). Cook and stir 3-4 minutes until vegetables start to soften slightly.

Add the seitan back to the pot and sprinkle with flour, 1 tbsp. at a time, stirring after each addition. Add reserved bacon and stir through.

Slowly add reserved wine stirring constantly. Pour in enough broth to cover. Add in garlic, bay leaves and thyme sprigs.

Keep on med-low heat, cover and bring to a boil. While waiting for boil, peel shallots (or pearl onions), cutting larger shallots in half. Once pot is boiling, add shallots, sea salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to very low and simmer for 3 hours.

When bourguignon is ready, melt margarine in frying pan. Add mushroom chunks and fry to brown. Add to pot and stir through. Serve hot.

Make approx. 6 servings

© 2008 by Carrie Horsburgh

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

Here is my first offering from Dreena's latest book, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. I made Gimme Chimis!

This was soooo simple to make. There weren't a whole lot of ingredients and no fussy prep work. I made the filling earlier in the day and then assembled & cooked the chimis later.

The filling was delicious! I like how they were fried, then baked. That made the tortilla crispy.

I served them along with some packaged Spanish rice and Lemon-Broiled Green Beans, also from ED&BV. Because the chimis & the beans were baked on a parchment lined pans, clean-up was a breeze.

Here we have 5-Spice Almond Cookies. These are very tasty and nicely spiced , but Dreena came up with an idea to make them even better.

Add ice cream and make 5-Star Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches! The ice cream really sent these over the top. Simple, yet utterly delicious.
Now, what shall I make next?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy New Year - Two Weeks Later

I'm playing catch-up with holiday posts, but as I travel around to other blogs, I see that quite a few of us are a bit behind.

New Year's Eve has never been very exciting to me. A lot of hype and quite often a big letdown. In my younger days, I'd go to clubs & bars to party it up, but it was too crowded, too expensive & the night never lived up to the expectation. Now, I like to either go to a house party with some friends, or stay at home. This year, we did the latter.

Mama Rita had hernia surgery the day of the 31rst, so Jim & his sister spent most of the day at the the hospital. The surgery was a success & Mama Rita is doing just fine. I had to work. It's fun being in the booze business, but the down-side is working mega-hours during holidays. We were both a bit tired and just planned on staying home to either throw in a movie or just watch Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve.

I decided to make "The Joint's Cheeseburger Pizza" from La Dolce Vegan. I started with the dough and what better way to knead it than with my new mixer!

Here it is in action as everything started coming together into a nice ball. After it was left to rise, punched down and made into a pizza crust, I added the toppings.

I think I piled on too much for the toppings, but hey, it was the last day of the year. Go out with a bang I say!

While the pizza was baking, we opened is Richard Hamilton wine. I bought 3 bottles last year around Christmas time. We had one then and saved the other 2. I thought it would go great with "cheeseburger", so we dug this baby out and cracked it open. It has improved greatly over the past year. It's smoothed right out. I think I'll save the last bottle until the end of the year and it should be amazing by that point.

Ding! Pizza's done! It looked and smelled so good. I couldn't wait to eat. I hadn't made this for a long time & we both thought it was a perfect dish for New Year's Eve.

See, I did load it up! I think I went a little overboard on this one. I'll restrain myself on the next one.

We had comfortably full bellies and were awaiting the countdown. At midnight we had some bubbly. I was in a pink mood, so I bought this one.

It's a decent, affordable, easy to drink cava. I served it up in these funky glasses I found a few months ago. Reidel makes wonderful glasses. They came out with a stemless wine glass line a few years back called O. I wasn't really taken with them but I love the sparkling wine glasses. It makes bubbly even more fun!

Someone just couldn't hang on until midnight.

I hope you all had a happy new year and all the best for 2008!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Christmas Catch-Up

So....I trust you all had a Merry Christmas, or if you don't celebrate, at least enjoyed a break of routine. We celebrate Christmas & this year was especially nice. I was incredibly busy with work. Any of you who work in retail know that the "holiday season" can try your patience. Luckily, I didn't have to serve many grumpy customers. Most were very cheery, appreciative of help & suggestions and generally pleasant.
My favorite part of Christmas Day is spending time with family and having a delicious meal with them. This year, we were all invited to Jim's cousin Karen's for dinner. She & her husband Mike were great hosts. Mike did the cooking and put out a fantastic spread. His sister is vegan, so he was "in the know" about what I would and would not eat. He had called a few weeks beforehand to see if I had any ideas of what I would like for my dinner (such a sweetheart). Jim & I had been cross-border shopping in November and I found this that I bought specifically for Christmas dinner.

So I packed up this along with some "chick'n" gravy. I was really excited to try these.

What a fun, relaxing day we had. Here's Jim's uncle John. He immigrated to Canada from Scotland years ago, shortly after Jim's dad did. He is a very, very nice man.

Uncle John's wife, Aunt Esther, also from Glasgow, helped to set the table. Jade's boyfriend, Mike, joined our family for dinner this year.

It looks like he's enjoying himself. He brought his guitar & amp and jammed with Ryan, Karen & Mike's son, who plays the drums. They were great entertainment! Jade is hidden behind Mike, beside her is Karen & Mike's daughter, Kelsey, who also entertained us with some flute, and beside her, Jim's cousin, Derek. Derek likes taking pics as much as I do.

On the other side of the table we have Derek - again taking pictures. Told you so. His partner, Josh, is being shy and hiding. Then, Ryan, the drummer and Jim. (These photos look like ads for Pepsi! I didn't realize that everyone was having pop with dinner. Yikes! I still find that an odd beverage choice unless I'm out & having a veggie burger)

Our hosts! Mike - chef extraordinaire and Karen.

Here's a blurry picture of my plate. Starting at 12:00 I have my Smart Stuffer, which was actually pretty good, green beans, stuffing cooked seperate from the turkey (thanks Mike!), potatoes with "chick'n" gravy, turnip (or rutabaga depending on where you're from, pickles, a bun and carrots in the middle that were cooked in brown sugar. Yummy!! I was starved and ate all of this. Then we had coffee with Bailey's & some Christmas goodies for dessert.

Mama Rita made a new friend. Here she is with the family dog, Coda. He was named by Ryan who is a huge Led Zepplin fan. That was a bulk of our entertainment - Led Zepplin songs - which was great! Mike was kind enough to throw in a few Pink Floyd numbers just for me.

My big present from Jim still has me excited. Lookie! Lookie!

I've wanted one of these for years. I still wander into the kitchen just to look at it. It's amazing! So, what does one do when one gets a gift like this? Mix things! I started cooking - on Boxing Day.

First, I tried it out for mixing muffin batter. I chose VWAV Carrot-Raisin Muffins.

They turned out lovely, don't you think?

These are light for a muffin and very moist. Of course they taste delicious. Would we expect anything less from Isa? Lots of raisins too. I hate getting a muffin that has 3 raisins it. Be generous! Raisins are high in potassium & antioxidants. They're tasty and good for you.

The mixer comes with a dough hook, so if I can get the machine to do the kneading, all the better for me. Working in a bakery has made me privy to some tips which I put to use and voila!

Herb Pull-Apart Rolls that came out perfect and golden. I got the recipe from the instruction & recipe booklet that came with the mixer. These were soooo delicious! Definitely a keeper.

For dinner, I made a "meat"loaf using a recipe from
Robin Robertson's Meat & Potatoes Cookbook. I threw all of the ingredients into the bowl, added a few extras to suit our tastes, flipped the switch and watched as everything was mixed up nicely in a matter of seconds.

Here's a shot of the finished product. This was a big hit with Jim & with me. It's by far one of the best loaf recipes I've tried.

I even put the potatoes into the mixer and mashed them that way. Everything is such a breeze now. My potato masher might just end up pushed to the back of the drawer. Sorry masher, there's a new kid in town. Notice I've also got brussels sprouts on the plate. I tried these a couple of times years ago, and didn't like them at all. But, tastes change and Jennifer McCann developed a recipe that she posted on Vegan Lunch Box called Best Brussels Sprouts. Well, I was bored for a new side veg, so decided to try it. They were really good! I think I like brussels sprouts now. Well, at least I like these brussels sprouts.

Now, I'm trying to decide what to make next in my new KitchenAid Stand Mixer. The possibilities seem endless!

Simon was also very excited about his Christmas gifts and wanted me to tell you about them. First off, he got these fun treats.

Pegetables! It's a chewy treat made with vegetables and they come in fun shapes. Low-fat, full of nutrients and good for the teeth. I wasn't sure if he'd go for the celery one because he doesn't like real celery, but he loved it. The corn and carrot were also big hits.

He also got another gift from "Santa" - his own Dog Companion DVD's!

These "movies" are made for pets to watch when they are left alone. Simon doesn't usually go more than 4 or 5 hours home by himself because most days, Jim and I have a only short overlap of our schedules. Some days were both gone for the day and so Simon doesn't get bored by himself, these seemed perfect. I stumbled onto them purely by accident on the internet, ordered them and they were here within a week. He seems to enjoy them - at least he shows some interest anyway, especially when I put on Dog Farm Adventure. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these DVD's go to the Ontario SPCA, and that makes everyone happy!