Veganity 101: The joys of Purse Food

by Jen Lahey

One of the greatest things about being a vegan is exploring all the delicious food available to you. Increasingly, there are options available in restaurants, at corner shops, and at farmers’ markets. But what about those days when you’re on the run, or you’re out for a pint at a less than vegan-friendly pub and you find yourself with a roaring case of the hungries?

Being a healthy, happy vegan, I am a high energy sort of person, the kind who has trouble sitting still for long periods of time. But as my partner and friends and family will attest, if I don’t get in enough foodies my energy and mood flatline and I turn into a non-reactive zombie woman (vegan zombie: “Graaaains, graaains!”).

This, my friends, is where Purse Food comes in (Murse Food for those gentlemen who carry a man bag). It’s become a running gag amongst my friends that I have a constant stash of snacks hidden away in the folds of my roomy Mat and Nat bag, always ready to go for when I find myself peckish in a situation with few vegan options. A tidy stock of Purse Food is one of the greatest tools in a vegan ninja’s arsenal of tricks.

Dried fruit and pre-wrapped vegan snacks (a.k.a. Purse or Murse Food) should always be kept nearby in case of a hunger emergency. This tiny purse is holding dried apples, Late July cookies, a PC Organics crispy brown rice bar, and a peanut butter Cocoa Camino snack bar.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an advocate of going out with friends to places where the “vegan option” on the menu is an iceburg lettuce salad, and part the fun of strengthening your vegan values and lifestyle is choosing to support places that support us. And I am lucky to hang out with nice people who take into account my veganity and more often than not like to go to places where we can all find something good to eat. But it’s good to be armed for situations that are less than perfect, and being an easy-going, always-prepared person gets you far in the battle to show the world how relaxed and non-complicated being a vegan really is.

Stocking your bag with a selection of goodies means you never have to worry about what to do when you feel your energy dropping in the middle of a busy day at work, when you’re stuck in a meeting, or when you’re out running errands. It also means you can choose to have healthy things stashed, so you don’t have to settle for processed crap from the 7-11 or stale, questionable baked goods at conferences and meetings.

A good place to start your harvest of Purse Food is the local health food store. A few suggestions to get you going: Raid the bulk food section for goodies, such as tamari almonds, sesame sticks, and dried fruit (mango is my current fixation). There’s lots of other items to suit the cause; these are just a few of my stand-bys. Then meander over to the snack shelves and snag some Lara bars and vegan jerky. I also found my new favourite stash at the Hartman’s Your Independent grocery store on Somerset: wasabi cashews (WASABI CASHEWS! So. Good.)

Cut up veggies and fresh fruit can work, too, though they’re better for times when you know you’ll be eating them within a few hours (finding annihilated fruit in the bottom of your bag days later = fail). Then head on home, divvy your finds into small containers or resealable bags, and venture forth confidently to rock your own vegan world.

Christmas Eve dinner at ZenKitchen

By Pamela

I was feeling in the mood to be a bit fancy, so on Christmas Eve day I made a last-minute reservation online to go to ZenKitchen that evening with my partner.

As soon as we went in we were greeted by Dave, who exclaimed, “How nice to see you! I didn’t realize you were coming in tonight!” There’s nothing quite like a warm welcome to set a good tone for the evening. Later Chef Caroline came out and said almost the exact same thing, so that must make it true!

Tapas Plate appetizer.
We ordered our favorite appetizer, a tapas plate with Zen salad rolls with Thai peanut sauce, dengaku tofu skewers, house pickles, kale and handcut potato chips. I love love love the tofu skewers, and saved mine for last. It was, as usual, wonderful. Personally, if there were an entree of appetizer that consisted entirely of the apple tofu skewers I would order it in a heartbeat. (Caroline?) The Zen salad rolls are also tasty, but since I really hate mushrooms I end up pulling them out (as discretely as possible of course!) and making a bit of a mess. I also opted to have warm apple cider to drink, which was a nice toasty treat on a cold night. We were treated to two amuse bouche items, some locally baked bread with white bean and butternut squash dip, and a second one, the description of which I can’t recall (but see the bottom for a photo!)

Vegan ravioli-- but you'd never know it.
As is the norm at ZenKitchen, the server explained and offered the Four Course Chef’s Tasting Menu, but as someone who’s filled with a bit of anxiety over blind meal options I stuck to the menu. For my main course, I ordered the ravioli filled with pesto-cheese, with smoky tomato sauce and roasted vegetables. I’ve had it a few times now and it’s always delicious. It’s warm comfort food, and fairly filling. Yves had the Panko-crusted seitan medallions with a cranberry-teriyaki sauce, ancient grain pilaf, and Asian slaw. He was actually too full to finish it entirely, so I helped him out a bit.

Truly a chocolate lover's fantasy.
Because he was full Yves passed on dessert, but I had been salivating over the mere thought of the Spicy Mexican chocolate cake with warm chocolate sauce, creme anglaise, and berry coulis all afternoon, so I would not be deterred. I have to be honest, I can’t really tell you if the cake was extraordinary or not; it was so very smothered in the divine warm chocolate fudge sauce that it didn’t really matter. I’m inclined to say it was good, but frankly that sauce is so decadent it could make cardboard appealing. Suddenly and irrationally Yves became very hungry and I had to share some, but I still got my fill. It was, as always, phenomenal. Every time I have it I am inspired to create my own spicy chocolate desserts at home, and true to form within 48 hours I was baking Mexican chocolate cupcakes. But they don’t compare, and I anxiously await the next time I can partake in Chef Caroline’s unreasonably delicious concoction.

After playing with the really cool sink fixture in ZenKitchen’s bathroom I returned to the table to find more chocolate; ZenKitchen’s homemade chocolate truffles. A perfect end to a delightful meal.

A couple more photos of dinner:

The mystery amuse bouche.
Seitan: An excellent gateway food to give omnivores.

Did you miss Veg Fest guest speakers? Here’s your second chance.

We have been very fortunate to be able to anchor our two Veg Fests with top notch speakers on what we consider to be the key reasons to live a veg lifestyle: Health, Environment, and Animal Rights.

Unfortunately some of our volunteers were among those who were not able to see the speakers make their presentations (that includes Corrie and I, the event organizers). There were also many others who either couldn’t make it to the event, or couldn’t tear themselves away from the excitement happening upstairs.

But there’s good news: The NCVA now has each of the speaker’s presentations online! You can download or stream them here.

Just to recap…

In year one, 2009, we had the good fortune of welcoming Brenda Davis R.D., who is an author of seven books and one of the most well-known experts wordwide on vegan and vegetarian health. She gave two informative and compelling talks. Our presentations that year were rounded out by Montreal’s Yasmin Fudakowska Gow, a yogi and environmental activist who participated in a 2008 Climate Change awareness tour of 21 university campuses across Canada sponsored by the David Suzuki Foundation, and Jason Halvorson, an animal right activist whose activism has made waves from coast to coast.

In year two we had some real heavy heavy hitters: Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary, Dr. Michael Greger M.D., a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues including veganism, and Jae Steele, a Toronto-based registered holistic nutritionist living in Toronto and cookbook authour.

So be sure to listen to them, and share them with your friends and family! And stay tuned for news on Veg Fest ’11, which is being held May 1 at the Glebe Community Centre.

The non-vegan’s guide to vegans at the holidays (and all year!)

By Pamela

A few weeks ago, the Dear Abby column in the newspaper addressed the issue of vegans at the Thanksgiving table. The letter, and Abby’s response, has bothered me ever since. Here’s the original letter and response:

Click here

My first response was to feel stung: Essentially, Abby says that if the vegans don’t like the traditional thanksgiving fare, they can bring their own food or stay at home. That’s an incredibly un-modern, ungracious, and dare I say, ignorant response on her part.

Dear Abby
It’s likely that Abby’s negative response was spurred by the apparent bossiness of the vegans in question. Evidently, these two vegan teenagers demanded that the entire meal be vegan. The host didn’t agree with this, and the demands sapped any willingness to accommodate their preferences. According to Dear Abby’s column today, most of the letters she received in response to that column were vitriolic against vegans and vegetarians.

My guess is, it’s borne out of the defensiveness that arises from the mere presence or mention of a vegan. I’ve found that on occasion I don’t even have to say a word and just my being vegan raises people’s defences because it brings the ethics of what we eat to the forefront. Food allergies are considered more acceptable. But why should it matter? Consequently, the unwillingness of vegans to partake in a feast centred around a dead animal centrepiece is framed as a demanding inconvenience to the host and other guests, while under any other circumstances society would not expect someone to act in a way that violates their personal ethical compass.

What rubs me the wrong way about this, and Abby’s response, is that I know literally hundreds of vegetarians and vegans. If you count the ones I’ve met only online it may be more than 1,000. And I cannot think of a single one who has ever demanded that the entire holiday meal be made vegan. I can’t think of a single one who WOULD ever demand that. Secretly wish? Absolutely. But demand? No way. There are some who simply (and quietly) won’t attend a holiday meal with a dead animal as the centrepiece, and that is their prerogative. By putting up the “straw man” of the overly demanding vegan the Dear Abby column has done a disservice to fostering understanding and accommodation between vegans and their non-vegan families. It’s created a war, rather than peace talks.

I’m not going to lie to you. I would prefer if every holiday meal was vegan. It always weighs heavily on my heart and mind that the clump of meat on the table that everyone’s eating was once an animal who lived and breathed, and likely died in a traumatic fashion. It requires significant cognitive dissonance on my part– and I imagine the part of many vegans, at least those who are ethically motivated— not to focus on that. I say this not because I’m trying to make anyone feel bad; it’s simply how I see it. Almost everything in life is seen differently through the vegan lens.

A few thanksgivings ago, with some of my own contributions, I was treated to an entirely vegan thanksgiving at my dad’s house. I didn’t demand it; he just wanted me to be comfortable and knew I’d appreciate it. And I did. It was probably the best holiday meal of my life. Yes, the food was good, but it wasn’t even about the food. It was that my dad and stepmother were open-minded and accommodating enough to understand why it would mean the world to me. They didn’t suffer one iota by eating vegan food that one day, and neither will anyone else.

This year the gatherings I’ve attended were not vegan, however both families made a (much appreciated) effort to ensure that some of the food offered was vegan, and invited me to bring food that was then shared with everyone. I personally am not a fan of just bringing enough food for myself, because that singles me out, and it misses an opportunity to show people how delicious vegan food can be. My mother-in-law even made a delicious vegan chocolate cake, as well as her “accidentally-vegan” war cake. The double batch of vegan Indian “butter chicken” that I brought was gone at the end of the meal. My own extended family marvelled at and happily indulged in the array of vegan food that I brought to share with them.

Some advice for people who are sharing their holiday meals with vegans or vegetarians.

1. This is not the time to accentuate the sense that we’re outsiders

Even if the whole meal isn’t vegan, a vegan will be grateful for accommodation when offered. It makes it a bit easier to deal with the proverbial “elephant in the room” if we are not ostracized, sidelined, or have unnecessary attention drawn to us or our diet.

It’s highly unlikely that a vegan will question or berate an omnivore’s diet at the holiday celebration, so consider extending the same courtesy. Most vegans are happy to talk about veganism or vegan food if you’re interested in hearing about it, but NOT if it feels like an inquisition or cross examination. Consider that vegans are routinely singled out and viewed as the “odd” one, which is endlessly frustrating because even if you don’t understand why we have made the decision to be vegan, for us it’s something that makes perfect sense and has come out of a great deal of research and soul searching. Contributing to the sense that we are alien-like outsiders, especially during the holidays, will only ensure an uncomfortable time for all.

2. Consider normalizing vegan fare at the table

We realize that many people have no idea how to make vegan food, and are shaky on what is and isn’t vegan. When we offer suggestions and advice it’s not to be bossy and demanding. It’s because we don’t expect you to have to do all the research yourself.

Often things can be made vegan very simply, such as melting some Earth Balance on the veggies, rather than butter, or whipping the mashed potatoes with some soy milk and Earth Balance. We’re usually even willing to supply it! Be willing to try new and different things too, and welcome the vegan’s contributions to the dinner table. I can assure you from personal experience that they’ve probably put a great deal of thought and time into preparing it.

3. Consider making new traditions

One of the most difficult things about becoming vegan for me was that it called into question all kinds of traditions and things I was familiar with. The warm feelings I had towards certain restaurants, name brands, companies etc. were replaced by a feeling of betrayal as I learned about their dark underbelly, the stuff the marketers don’t want you to think about. Suddenly the McDonald’s play room—which was a huge treat for me as a child—took on a sinister meaning.

But I’ve created new traditions for myself where food is concerned, as well as activities and lifestyle. My life is completely different than it was ten years ago… but I like it so much better because I feel like I’ve done a huge amount of soul searching and that I’m now living in accordance with my core values. None of my favorite foods were vegan ten years ago, not a single one. But I have new favorite foods now, and I have never enjoyed eating more!

It wasn’t always an easy process to let go of the things I was comfortable with, and it’s human nature to resist change and cling to tradition. But tradition isn’t a strong enough reason to keep doing something. There are many cultural and societal traditions that most of us can agree are abhorrent, and which are no longer permitted.

I’m not saying everyone has to create new vegan traditions, just to consider whether it’d really be so bad. And if you’re not willing to outright exchange a tradition, consider adding a new one. Traditions are things we can create, or abandon. They’re a human construct, and we have the power to change them if they’re no longer suitable.

If creating a new tradition can make the life of someone you love better, and it doesn’t harm anything, then why not consider it?

Happy holidays everyone!

Vegan food takes over the family holiday meal

By Pamela

Last week my uncle facebooked me to say he was planning an impromptu family gathering at his home in Napanee. This is a rare occurrence for my family. We’re close in some ways (we’re mostly all connected by facebook, and stay in touch) and we all look pretty much the same, but large family events are not common. So my partner and I decided to make the trip to Napanee and back to participate.

My uncle is a lover of kale, smoothies and carrot juice, but is otherwise mostly uninitiated in the ways of vegan cuisine. He and the rest of my family, however, are very open to trying new things, and were enthused when I told them I would bring along a few dishes to share with everyone. Of course, then the pressure’s on. My food had to be not just passable, but fabulous. There was no margin for error. And how would I decide what to bring, from my extensive repertoire of vegan wonderfulness?

The apple crisp BEFORE part of the crisp was stolen by squirrels.
The choice of dessert was made easy with the purchase of a 10 pound bag of apples. Apple crisp it would be! My partner says I make the best apple crisp ever, so it’s usually a good bet. So I prepared that first, and set it outside to cool. Next, I prepared miso gravy, which is super yummy and light, and also excellent on poutine. Imagine my amusement when I went out to put the miso gravy in the cooling zone, and discovered that about 1/4 of the “crisp” on the apple crisp was missing! It’s a good thing that I think squirrels are adorable.

I rectified the situation by patching it up with some “crisp” remaining from a leftover piece of apple crisp made for a Sunday event with the in-laws. My family’s pretty “salt of the earth” so I don’t think they minded too much that they’d shared dessert with a hungry squirrel. Then, I spoke on the phone to my uncle’s girlfriend, who was organizing the party. She told me she was disappointed that she missed out on trying my mac & cheez the last time I’d visited. So, I made an executive decision to make mac & cheez as well. If a non-vegan wants to try vegan mac & cheez, then try it they shall!

Neil's Ham & Cheez biscuits. Nom!
Next, I set upon making Neil’s ham and cheez biscuits which I had delighted in at a potluck past. I started small, making one batch first just to ensure I had the magic touch. They. Were. Amazing. So, I made a second batch. Forty-eight little ham and cheez biscuits! Although there were much fewer than that by the time we arrived at my uncle’s house. I blame the squirrels.

The last frontier of the day was preparing cheez kale mashed potatoes. First, I had to peel five pounds of potatoes. My uncle had expressed a great deal of concern about having enough potatoes, so I figured no less than that would do. The cheez-ness was attained through nutritional yeast, unsweetened almond milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and earth balance. There is no recipe, I just made it up as I went along. Boil the potatoes (and blanche the kale), mash them up until your muscles are sore, and throw in random amounts of the aforementioned ingredients.

A couple of recipes:

APPLE CRISP

Peel and slice (1/8 to 1/4 inch slices) about seven MacIntosh apples. Put them in an 8 x 8 glass baking thing. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

In a medium sized bowl, cream half a cup of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance or Becel Vegan) with 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup of flour (I use spelt). Add 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix in 1 cup of oats.

Sprinkle the crisp on top and cook at 350F for about 30-40 minutes.

MISO GRAVY

Melt about 1/4 cup vegan margarine in a saucepan. Whisk in about the same amount of flour. Add about two cups of veggie broth, and 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Whisk in about 2 TB miso (or to taste). Whisk pretty constantly until it has thickened. Add pepper and paprika to taste.

The family in a post-meal food coma.
We came home with some leftovers but all in all my contributions went over very well. My uncle facebooked me this morning to say, “thankx for the food Pam. Everyone loved your food.”

Mama Africa

By Erin

I don’t know exactly why I decided to name this post Mama Africa. It just seemed right somehow.

Perhaps it’s because the food at Sunday’s East Africa Meetup was so fabulous that I want to cast off my Pol-Irish-Canadian identity and reconnect with my African roots, distant though they may be. 

Perhaps it’s because I associate “Mama” with family and our record turnout of veg-minded folk game me a warm familial, “Yes, we can change the world through unbridled eating” kind of vibe.

Or perhaps it’s because I ate so much that I subsequently appeared to be several months pregnant.  

Whatever the case, Sunday’s meetup was a roaring success. There were about 30 people, and local Ethiopian food expert Shaun confirmed that the food that day was particularly fine. Being an idiot, I forgot my camera, so I can’t provide any shots of it. That’s OK, though, because, frankly, Ethiopian food tastes a hell of a lot better than it looks. 

Luckily, Shaun had his iphone handy and was able to take this shot of the group:

Note Neil and I with our contraband spoons. We bad! (Just kidding, they offered spoons to the injera-impaired)

In addition to the amazing food, the company was awesome and the conversation lively. I refused to break JJ out of prison, learned about Sudbury loons, shamelessly plugged the radio show Animal Voices (animalvoices.ca!) and scoffed at the folly that is flavoured beer.

I did make a bit of a faux pas when I told a pair of Sudburians that their city looks like the moon. But in my defense, I thought it was a compliment. Like getting to live in space but without having to spend a lot of money or learn math.

Anyway, not much else to say except thanks to all attendees for continuing to make the NCVA meetups a success. They just keep getting bigger and better!  I guess this will be the last one of the year, but Green Earth’s monthly Sunday brunch is not far off…

Tried and true tofu turkey

By Edelweiss

Although I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 25 years, my mom and dad have still not ventured into cooking veg*an holiday food. So every year, I take a tofu ‘turkey’ to Montreal, frozen, and heat it up when they’re cooking their meal. It travels well, and it’s nutritious, tasty and festive.

You’ll probably have to spend some time at the store getting all the spices and other ingredients, but assembling the ‘turkey’ doesn’t take long. It needs to be made over three days, and takes about 15 minutes each day.

Enjoy! Serves about four people. Double the recipe to serve eight.

Homemade tofu ‘turkey’

Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon savory
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/12 cups vegan herb stuffing (or use bread crumbs: crumble half a baguette that’s a few days old and dry)

Saute the onion, celery and mushrooms. When soft, add the garlic and spices. Cook for five minutes. Add herb stuffing or breadcrumbs, and mix well. When cool, roll into a ball, compress, cover with plastic film, and put in freezer until frozen.

The “turkey”

  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 1 pound silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon savory
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary

Crumble firm tofu and add silken tofu: mix with hands. Add spices. Put a couple of 20-inch pieces of plastic film in a cross on a plate, and put half of tofu mix on the plastic.

Take stuffing from freezer, remove plastic film, and put on top of tofu mix on plastic. Pour rest of tofu mix over the stuffing ball, so it covers the stuffing completely. Make into a ball, press down on the ball so there’s a base (so it doesn’t roll around), wrap it in the plastic and put back in the freezer until frozen.

Basting Mixture

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable base
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice or syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix, and put into a little glass container for traveling.

Cooking: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Thaw and put tofu turkey into baking pan, and pour half of basting mixture over it. Cook for 30 minutes. Add rest of basting mixture and cook for another 15 minutes.

Gravy: I use a packaged vegan mix. You can also try a gravy recipe like this one: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/saucesdipsspreads/r/misogracy.htm

Cranberry sauce: I make my own, but you can (of course!) buy it ready-made.

Happy holidays!

Edelweiss

 

Being veg over the holidays

Just say No!Politely declining a slice of Auntie Bertha’s fruitcake over the holiday season is to be expected. But how do you “politely” justify turning down your mother-in-law’s pot roast or her home-made butter cookies?

Let’s be honest, it’s all about food for the holidays. It’s that time of year more than any that you find being veg is not so easy. And I’m not talking about cravings for the unsavoury foodstuffs. I am addressing the bewildered faces and sighs of incomprehension when you make clear that you will not be eating any animals or animal products for the season (much in line with your eating habits every other day of the year). Some people believe that just because it is the holidays, you should try to at least fit in and relax your anti-social eating tendencies just to make others happy. The question is, do we relax any of our other ethics during the holiday season? Why should you consume animal products only to appease a group of people whom–though you probably love–don’t understand you fully? You need not be a militant activist vegan to just say no to the bombardment of animal food options. We’re all pressured either by others or our own traditional upbringing or tastes to indulge on something we normally wouldn’t, but perhaps from experience you’ll learn that you don’t ever feel better after doing it. The problem is how to not come across as the weird one who has joined some hippie cult and is only at the party to make others feel bad about themselves. So what do you do?

My advice? Just say no, thank you. Be polite, but firm when you are presented with food you don’t eat. If you were allergic, it might be easier to say no, but as it stands, allergies generally are treated with more respect and understanding than not eating certain food items for the sake of veganism. I can’t recommend whether or not you should elaborate on your reasons behind saying no. You may be prompted or questioned in some way which gives you no choice, but nothing is stopping you from putting a smile on your face and saying, “Let’s just leave it there. I’m happy that I am able to eat what I want without feeling scrutinised by others”. People need to learn to let you live your life without feeling threatened. If you are comfortable enough going to a holiday dinner where they serve meat and where many people will be eating it in front of you, then you should be confident that others should also feel comfortable with you declining those options at the dinner table.

For those of you who are surrounded by vegans and vegetarians for the holidays, count yourselves among the lucky few. But if you’re like me and find it hard to resist the disapproval of your family and friends during this time of the year just because you won’t eat their food, keep in mind that you’re not alone. Stick to your morals, avoid confrontation and debate, and remind your family/friends that in the spirit of the season, you are thankful that you can be together, sharing this moment, and respecting everyone’s personal wishes wholly.

Happy Holidays!

saladinasteakhouse.wordpress.com (for more posts by joe vegan)

Mock meats of Ottawa’s Chinatown, Part 1

From Yves Veggie Cuisine to Tofurky to Gardein to Sol to the offerings in the President’s Choice Blue Menu line, the variety of mock meats in supermarkets has exploded in recent years. Ottawa’s Chinatown is a fantastic resource for lovers of mock meats. This is the first in a series of posts to introduce readers to the treasures they can find in Chinatown and meals that can be made with them.

Our first stop: Phuoc Loi on the northeast corner of Somerset and Booth. If you’re driving, you’ll need to find street parking or use the pay parking lot at the southeast corner of Somerset and Lebreton. Head to the freezer section in the back right corner of the store.

You’re looking for this: 

It may look “grim”, in the words of my big sister, but this is the best mock ham I have tried.  A caution to vegans: I have seen similarly shaped mock ham that includes whey or egg — be sure to read the ingredients.

What can you do with it?  A few ideas…

Slice it thinly, sear each side briefly in a hot frying pan, and put it in sandwiches.

Slice it thickly, glaze it with a mixture of maple syrup and mustard, and bake in the oven.

Cube it and add it to a tofu scramble, as suggested in this previous post.

Or, try this recipe for Ham & Cheese Biscuits.  These biscuits proved very popular at a potluck.  They will also cause any dogs who happen to be nearby to cluster around your legs and stare at you hopefully.

  • Mix 2 cups of flour, 3 tsp. of baking powder, and ¾ tsp. of salt.
  • Cut ¾ of a stick of Earth Balance margarine into small pieces and blend it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or with your fingers.  (A stick is equivalent to ½ cup.)
  • Mix in ¼ cup of diced mock ham and ¼ cup of Daiya cheddar style shreds.
  • Add a splash of vinegar to ¾ cup of soy milk, and mix with the dry ingredients to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough briefly, folding it over no more than 5 times.  This will give the finished biscuits nice flaky layers inside.
  • Flatten the dough to about ½ inch thick. Use a sharp knife to slice it into squares.
  • Bake at 450°F for 13 minutes.

The photo of the biscuits has one pulled apart to show the flaky texture (and delicious bits of mock ham and cheese) inside.

I have also found the mock ham at New 168 Market on the southwest corner of Somerset and Breezehill (just west of the O-Train tracks).  They’re closed for renovations right now, but when they reopen they might be more convenient for those doing errands by car, as they have a small parking lot just west of the store.

Next instalment: vegan “wings” that are way better than the real thing.

Cinnamon bun madness

I’ve had a mild obsession with sticky buns (or cinnamon buns) for as long as I can remember. I recall being a tween at the shopping mall and lining up for what felt like hours to order one at Saint Cinnamon. I don’t think that franchise exists anymore, and even if it did, its products are not vegan.

So of course, that gives people the impression that cinnamon buns can’t be vegan, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most delicious cinnamon buns I’ve ever had are ones I’ve made myself. But they’re a fair bit of effort, and frankly, it’s dangerous to have a dozen cinnamon buns in the house, so these days for an occasional treat I buy one at Auntie Loo’s. (507 Bronson Avenue, Ph# 613-238-ALOO)

Auntie Loo knows that people love cinnamon buns, which is why she’s concocted a tempting Christmas treat. It’s almost unfair, really. 😉 She’s offering Auntie Loo’s Christmas Morning Gift Pack. For $20, you get 10 pieces- six of her signature gooey cinnamon buns and four of her scones. You buy one, keep the treats in your freezer until the day before, thaw in the fridge for at least 12 hours and then bake for 10 to 15 minutes for your own special warm and fresh Christmas morning treats.

Call the bakery to order one soon, and they can be picked up until Dec. 24 at noon. To find out about all of Auntie Loo’s specials and treats, visit http://www.auntieloostreats.ca .

And if you’re feeling super enterprising, or miss Auntie Loo’s deadline, here is the cinnamon bun recipe that I use.

ZOMG Cinnamon Buns

Rolls:
3/4 C unsweetened soy milk
1/4 C vegan margarine, softened
3 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
1/4 C white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C plus 2 TBS water

Filling:
1 C brown sugar, packed
1 TBS ground cinnamon
1/2 C margarine, softened

Glaze:
2 tsp syrup (corn or maple)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C icing sugar
4 TBS unsweetened soy milk

Heat the soy milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in margarine; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water and the soy milk/margarine mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about five minutes

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, softened margarine.

Roll out dough into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with margarine/sugar mixture. Roll it up into a 12 inch long log.

Cut into 12 equal sized rolls and place cut side up in two lightly greased round pans. There will probably be extra marg/sugar mixture so apply it to tops and bottoms of buns.

Turn on oven to about 200 F. Put buns in, and then in five minutes turn it off. Let them continue to rise for another 15 to 20 minutes or so, until bigger and poofier.

Switch oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned. Undercooking is better than overcooking, so be vigilant.

Combine all the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Let rolls cool a few minutes then drizzle with glaze.