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Sometimes I wish someone had warned me that artists (can I just interject here and say that I feel like a fraud writing that, but I couldn’t think of a better term) should not be inclined to be sentimental about holidays, after all it is when the majority of people are off work that they want to be entertained-enter aforementioned artists. So with Nutcracker performances taking advantage of the calendar holidays, my ‘Christmas holiday’ got bumped back and is just finishing up now so please excuse the rather late holiday wrap up, but I’m still working on getting back to real life just now.

My holiday travels took me to two fairly different climates, so I got a white christmas (hooray!!) but also a wet, watery one.               

     

I figured I owed you a picture of THE tree as well. Here it is all decked out on Christmas morning. This one was about average height-wise but we often end up with a wider one than this. I went through a phase of being displeased with the non- Martha Stewart ness of our trees, but I have come to accept the fact that our trees are beautiful and festive in their own, natural way (although that still doesn’t stop me from trying to come up with ways that I could cultivate my own or something so it could be huge and perfect! :D).

Here are the trees that decked out our apartment as well. Our little living room was nice and festive for the holidays- the best way to have it!

                                                                                                                                                

In addition to general family time, there was much baking (saving that for another post!), visiting friends, engaging in wintery activities, bunny sitting, sewing and a bit of holiday crafting. All in all it was a lovely and restful vacation and now it’s back at it!

I started working on these ornaments a few years ago, and have been veeery slowly getting them finished. There will be, eventually, four large (finished this go around!), eight medium (finished last year), and eight small (still to be completed). A classic example of a project that sounds great in my head but ends up being way more work than I anticipated.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful holiday and getting back into the real world wasn’t too harsh!

-Kathleen

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So I have a secret. You know all the blog posts that are cropping up about cutting back on sugar/fat/unhealthy foods and increasing exercise/productivity/personal awesomeness and so on? They’re stressing me out! I don’t think I’m ready to give up the relaxed days and delicious food that comes with the holidays, quite yet. I’m sure I’ll get back into the swing of things this week, but it sure seems like a lot of bloggers got ‘back on track’ right after christmas – not really my cup of tea hot chocolate! A few things I’ve been enjoying:

Rumballs! Made gluten free with Nature’s Gate Vanilla cookies, and so delicious.

Eggnog lattes, made with So Nice’s Noel Nog. You’d better believe that I’m stockpiling this stuff. 🙂

Eggnog lattes + Carcasonne = definitely a good time.

Insanely rich Strawberry Almond Coconut bars, adapted from Karina’s Kitchen. These aren’t something I would have picked out myself (hello, no chocolate!!), but Kathleen made a batch to take to a party and gave me a sample, upon which I determined I should really make my own batch.  I made fruit-only jam with frozen strawberries, which cut back on the sugar at least a tiny bit. The good news is that I froze most of them right away, but the bad news is that they are probably even better straight out of the freezer! 🙂

It hasn’t been all sweets around here, though! I’ve been using my cookbooks way more than I was just a few months ago (hooray!), so I’m hoping to continue to feature successful recipes on the blog. We enjoyed Appetite for Reduction‘s 40 Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli tonight. It was good, but I didn’t think it was anything special. I’m not sure this would be worth making unless you’re as much of a garlic fiend as I am.

I really liked the Chickpea Zucchini Curry from Eat, Drink, and be Vegan. It was a milder curry, and called for sweet potatoes, which worked really well.

In other news, my boyfriend and I purchased a new camera on an amazing boxing day sale, and I’ve been having so much fun with it! I have so much to learn, but the difference between it and my outdated point and shoot camera is astonishing. Even when I suck….

….it’s still kind of good! 🙂

-Eve

I quite enjoy blog posts that are simply about recent meals a blogger may have eaten. I find I often see recipes that I would have sworn up and down weren’t in a certain cookbook, but that definitely sound delicious. So, a few meals I’ve enjoyed recently:
Vegan YumYum’s Broccoli Daal:

Appetite for Reduction’s Butternut Apple Soup

The Uncheese Cookbook’s Broccoli Rice Casserole:

Appetite for Reduction’s Sundried Tomato-Walnut Dressing over salad, quinoa, roasted potatoes, zucchini, and tempeh, and glazed beets. And finally, I made the fortunate (unfortunate?) discovery that it is possible to find mainstream Christmas candy that happens to be vegan. If I eat half my body weight in liquor filled chocolates over the next few days, I can’t be held accountable!

Um, yum. 🙂

-Eve

Without further ado, the winners of our tea giveaway are……..

Congratulations to Elly, aaaand….


Nicole! I hope you both enjoy the tea!

Thanks to everyone who entered! 🙂

(If anyone’s wondering, I only counted ‘real people’ comments on the contest post- ie, no ping backs!)

***Contest closed! Winners announced here!***

It’s no secret that I love tea – right now I have upwards of 18 (!) varieties sitting in my pantry, but I drink so much tea that I don’t even feel a little bit silly about my humongous stash. When Tetley Tea contacted us to ask if we would be interested in doing a giveaway on our blog for two amazing prize baskets, we jumped at the chance! Tetley has recently released their full Colour Therapy line of teas, which base different moods (and flavours) upon different colours. Prior to being contacted by Tetley, I’d already tried several flavours myself, including Refresh (pure peppermint), Summerberries (fruity and yum!), and Warmth (an orange spice flavour), so I can vouch for their deliciousness! Tetley is offering two of our readers the chance to win an epic gift basket that includes a teapot, 50 colour coordinated cards, and two canisters of multiple flavours of Tetley Colour Therapy teas.

(Images from Tetley)

To enter, leave a comment here that answers: What’s your colour today?

Extra entry: Mention this contest on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc., and then leave another comment on this post!

This contest will run until December 15th (just in time for Christmas!), and is open to all Canadians except for residents of Quebec (due to shipping, sorry!)

I suspect this blog post might not make it under the deadline for an extra entry in Ricki’s stevia giveaway, but that’s ok! I wanted to blog about the brownie recipe she posted, because a) it is super yummy and b) it is super unusual.

I knew I wanted to make the brownies as soon as I saw the post, but didn’t get to it until a few days later. I felt like I was making a science experiment (and I had the messy kitchen to prove it!). Here’s the wet part of the recipe pre-blending:

I was curious to see how all the ingredients would end up once blended, so here’s photo evidence of  the totally passable brownie batter results. I couldn’t stop licking the spoon!

Ok, in hindsight that is a really unappetizing picture. But you get the idea, right? Dark brown, almost billowly, intensely chocolatey? Good. Carrying on!

I tried the brownies before they were completely cool, and here’s where it gets strange. When I bit into a chunk, it seemed quite bitter, but while chewing they were definitely sweet seeming. However, they left a VERY bitter aftertaste. The recipe instructs you to leave them in the fridge to cool completely, so I popped them in overnight. Today, they are totally different! Maybe it’s because they’re cold, or maybe it’s because they sat overnight, but for whatever reason, there is no bitterness at all today! Obviously, what I should take away from this is that people that know what they’re doing know what they’re doing, and I should probably follow their instructions. Since, y’know, they know what they’re doing. 🙂

Anyways, stevia in general seems to hit the ‘sweet’ spot on my tongue quite far back – way further back than sugary sweet things.  I was speculating that maybe since the bitterness of the brownie was registering on my tongue in a different spot than the stevia sweetness, that might be why the uncooled brownie seemed so bitter when I wasn’t actively chewing a bite. I ran my theory by K, and she claimed she hadn’t noticed that aspect of stevia (she did mention that she gets a licorice-like aftertaste, which I’ve never noticed), so maybe I’m just nuts? Has anyone else noticed where they seem to pick up on the sweetness of stevia?

In any case, my verdict?


Yum. Totally moist and dense/chewy, and you’d never guess that they were made with beans and vegetables. Healthy desserts are amazing! 🙂

Notes:

-blended everything but flour/carob/leaving agents/salts all at once, demonstrating yet again my inability to follow instructions (but it seemed to work out ok?)
-used pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato
-my milk wasn’t unsweetened
-used a mixture of almond butter/tahini
-used a mixture of agave/yacon syrup (how delicious is yacon?? Mmm….)
-35 stevia drops

-Eve

I’m in a food rut. I haven’t made a new cookbook recipe for weeks and weeks, and I certainly haven’t been creating exciting new recipes of my own. That being said, my food rut is full of tasty foods, so I’m really not complaining (much). In no particular order, here are some things that have been making repeat appearances in my eats over the last couple of weeks.

1) Ants of a log.

Justin Timberlake can handle sexy, and I’ll bring back ants on a log. This snack is pretty much a daily occurrence.

2) Avocados. Last week I scored four perfectly ripe, enormous and delicious organic avocados for 69 cents apiece, so I’ve been chowing down on them pretty regularly! I can’t believe that only a couple years ago, I despised them, because now they’re definitely one of my favourite things to eat! The little grocery store I live close to has SUCH good prices on organic produce – I’m really going to miss it once I move out west in…..5 weeks. Eeek!)

Here they make an appearance as guacomole in raw tacos, with a walnut/red pepper pate-ish filling, and carrot stick on the side (because I’m vegan, and I eat carrot sticks):
And on top of snobby joes (V’con) and brown rice fusili. Tasty, but then  I went back for seconds and subsequently felt like I had eaten a brick. Portion control is not my strong suit.
3) Steel cut oats. I’m pretty sure pictures of oatmeal don’t make for scintillating blog content, so I’ll spare you. But seriously, steel cut oats are amazing! I always have a smoothie for breakfast, so lunch and supper oats have been occurring regularly.

4) Apples. See above for reasoning on lack of pictures. For the longest time, I hated apples,  and then I had braces and avoided eating them because by the time I managed to shave off a complete circle around the apple with my brace-festooned teeth, the first of my awkward nibbles were already turning brown. Thankfully, I am now brace-free and making up for lost time from my apple-hating days. SO juicy and good!

5) Almond butter, specifically:
https://i0.wp.com/www.worldpantry.com/nspired/maranatha/img/thumb/nsp-mnb092500.jpg

Raw almond butter is a bit of a splurge, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to return to roasted. Roasted almond butter is definitely good, but raw almond butter is so mild and sweet that it nearly rivals peanut butter in sheer tastiness. I’m totally enamored.

So, my goal for this week is to make at least one new recipe from a cookbook. Totally do-able, right? With my recent track record, we can only hope! I’ll keep you posted! 🙂
-Eve

Amazing Grass was once a product
that poor old me, I’d not heard of!

But Oh She Glows, good blogger she
once offered us a code for free
that took full 40 percent off
a big ol’ tub of grassy stuff.

I ordered once, and was most smitten –
my smoothie consumption had risen!
I plowed right through that big container
and bought some more, not four months later.

And now I must confess, at last
my rhyming skills are rather flat.
(My english grades of years gone by
were not particularly high.)

But Amazing Grass has stirred in me
(with talent worthy of a fee)
a strong desire to express
my emotions quite like the best.

Shel Silverstein? Dr. Suess?
Now lucky you, there’s me, to boot!

Anyways, enough of this,
it’s time to get right to business:
Amazing Grass’ reward programme
is making me how thrilled I am.

After shipments two and four
a t-shirt and a product more!
Free shipping and a discount off
every three months of product cost.

But look at this! All this loot!
Hardly expected, it made me hoot.
My first shipment, and just my luck
I’ve received a sipping cup!

And all those bars and samples too!?
Amazing Grass, I think I love you!
But wait, what’s this, I must insist
what is THIS doing in the ingredient list??

Egads!, now you’ve made me cringe
you went and put some DAIRY in!?
Amazing Grass, I thought you’d know
that dairy really, really blows?

Come, now really, you must agree
that excluding vegans is downright silly.
Of all things, you ought to know
I like vegan bars near as much as I like poems!

So anyways, to conclude
these products cause me to exude
enthusiasm and good health!
(for a small portion of my wealth.)

And no, dear readers, in case you’re wondering,
(though I doubt questions are rumbling)
I’m merely speaking my opinion –
most certainly not a company minion.

Though AG, if you’re reading,
Co-blogger K’s curiousity is seething.
I suspect she’d write a review quite pleasing
quite without any of this literary seizing.

-Eve

Do you like tasty muffins? Yeah, me neither. Fortunately, I’ve devised a fool-proof system that will ensure that you can produce batch after batch of ridiculously foul muffins. Follow these simple steps, and you too, can produce baked goods of incomparable grossness!

1. Don’t settle for a single type of muffin. Lemon poppyseed? Booooring. Orange Cranberry? Snore. Lemon Orange Cranberry Poppyseed? Now we’re talking!

2. If you’re gluten free, make sure to use ALL buckwheat flour. After all, the strong taste of buckwheat goes really well with everything.

3. Omit all the fat in the recipe. They probably don’t need it, anyways.

4. Omit all the sugar in the recipe. Throw in a few tablespoons of agave and hope for the best.

5. When swapping ingredients in and out, ignore all dry:wet ingredient issues. Even if the resulting batter is too stiff, it’ll probably be fine once it bakes. Usually. Sometimes. Not at all.

There, see? Five easy steps! For best effect, eat while still warm, so the freshly baked no-fat texture can be fully appreciated.

Ha.

P.S.: Has anyone heard of the SarcMark? I’m torn between thinking it’s silly and brilliant, but am definitely confused by their entirely un-sarcastic commercial. Seriously.

Have a good weekend! Hopefully, with no bad muffins! 🙂

Eve

Well we’re definitely down to the wire here , only a few days left! Here is one final cookie recipe for you. Maybe you need something to put out for Santa on the evening of the 24th, a little something to snack on while visiting with friends and relatives? Regardless, hopefully this minty cookie will be just the thing for your last minute holiday baking needs (well until the gearing up for New Years…) 

If you aren’t in the midst of preparing for the culmination of the years biggest display of rampant consumerism festive cheer, these cookies don’t scream Christmas so they are a perfect way to treat yourself for dealing with all those crazy shoppers every time you leave the house.

These cookies are kind of delicate, not falling apart when you go to scoop ’em off the cookie sheet, but kind of crumbly when you bite into them. Possibly not the best choice for travelling cookies (thats a good thing in my books-more for me! :))

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (Adapted from this recipe)

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds or ground chia seeds

3 tablespoons water

1/2 cup Earth Balance

1/4 cup applesauce

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon mint extract

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups spelt flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheet.

Combine flaxseed/chia and water in a small bowl, whisk slighty and set aside. Mix Earth balance, applesauce and sugar until fully combined in a medium sized bowl. Add flax/chia and water mixture and extracts. In a separate small bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder, combine. Add to wet mixture and stir together. If dough is too wet, add more flour. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll into tablespoon sized balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten (cookies don’t spread while baking) Bake for 8-10 minutes.

-K