Friday, July 13, 2012

How to get drunk on dinner: Gigantic spiked fruit salad in a whale.

Ah, this is my favorite day of the month! Vegan potluck day with the Kingston Vegetarian Network! The second Wednesday of every month means tons of food, a chance to show off cooking skills to an adoring crowd and hanging out with my people. Plus our great location is in a gorgeous historic townhome with an eclectic community feel.

On the wall, new quotes! Today's selections:
"Life is easier than you think: All you have to do is accept the iimpossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable."
"Life is like a party. You join in after it's started and leave before it's finished."
"If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."

If you haven't made major life decisions based on advise you get off a wall, then you haven't lived.

This time we ate penne pasta with roasted red peppers, olives, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes, cous cous salad, zucchini chocolate chip muffins and the booziest fruit salad whale you've ever seen.  I've been craving strawberry shortcake like a mother for the past couple weeks. It's just at the end of strawberry season here, but my favorite creme for it (Mimi creme, made with cashews and rainbows) is only available in the States. Waaa. But then this happend! When I asked Sharon what she was bringing, she said "something cute and naughty". WTF? We're talking about food? My best guess was a kitten in lingerie."Close" I'm told. After waiting all day to find out what on earth it could be, this is what turns up: A WHALE. Cut out of a WATERMELON! Soaked in booze!!! Topped with MIMI CREME imported for just this occassion. OMG *love*! When asked for the recipe for this whale, here is what I was given:

Sharon's Boozy Fruit Salad Whale
-Cut watermelon into whale shape.
-Add a container of blueberries, cut strawberries and chopped watermelon innards.
-Pour on raspberry vodka. Lots. And then some more.
-Let sit in the fridge all day, serve with whipped Mimi creme.
Now you get to get drunk and call it dinner. Thanks Sharon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pesto potato salad and baguette sandwiches on a beach

Oh man, one of my favorite things about summer is fresh basil. I frequently fight the urge to pick it off the plant and rub it all over my body. I'd smell like a combo of summer and Italian food. It doesn't get any better than that. Today for a beach picnic,

I used up the pesto from this dinner to make a fab potato salad that reeked of basil and awesome.

Potato Salad on the Beach
2 pounds potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces and boiled until done.
1 pound green beans, lightly steamed in bite sized pieces
1 cup small tomatoes,quartered
1/2 cucumber, dices
1/2 cup leftover pesto
1/2 cup vegan mayo

Combine all ingredients except pesto and mayo in a large bowl. Add pesto and mayo in a separate bowl, and then toss to coat your salad. Cool until ready to eat.

I was also inspired by another friend's "best picnic ever", which involved baguettes in France. While I don't have the exotic locale, I do have a baguette and a competitive spirit that makes me want to win every "best ever" contest ever held. So I also made these sandwiches with fried tofu.

Bad Ass Beach Baguettes
1/2 whole wheat baguette
Hummus for spreading
1/2 cucumber, sliced as thin as you can
1/2 avocado, sliced thin
Fried Tofu
Handful of greens
2 tbs of whatever dressing you have in your fridge. I had miso cashew.

Cut baguette in half, spread both sides with hummus, and add your remaining ingredients. Wrap it up all pretty to impress your friends with your skillz.

Most enjoyable when eaten on a sunny day with friends overlooking an embarrassingly polluted great lake.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kingston Food Fest=Disappointment fest. Good thing I can cook!

I knew it was going to suck before it did.
The weird cow you can milk. A sign of things to come.
 Any time there is any kind of "fest" though, in particular when it promises food, I just can't stay away. What if there was some lovely little booth full of vegan options? What if no one went there and they didn't come back next year? I had to go just in case. Turns out the reality was much worse than I could have imagined. Not only were there abysmal vegan options, for a city who claims to be "a foodie's heaven on earth" the choices were pretty poor in general. Perhaps I missed the great local flavours by arriving within two hours of closing, but for the most part, the choices were all national/international chain restaurants. Laaaaame. Way to showcase our local flavour with restaurants you can get in any city in Canada *slow golf clap*. I bought ten dollars worth of tickets, which I had a stupid hard time spending. I had salsa and a fruit cup, and a gigantic water bottle filled with painfully sweet lemonade.

Good thing I wasn't counting on satisfaction. Or a meal.
 Sigh. And then, the heavens opened up and out came Tandoori Sizzle. This is the Indian take out place by my house that I *love*. I went there once after the world's most expensive grocery trip and had $9 to feed three people. While I maintain you get enough food to share, the owner would *not* let that happen and gave us a feast for $9. It was so kindhearted and thoughtful.

Anyways, here they were to save me again! With Samosas! The line up was unreal, probably because this was the only local/different thing there. From Tandoori Sizzle, my day just went uphill. Next up- I bought myself A NEW FOOD PROCESSOR. My other one got smashed and I needed an upgrade. A food processor is essential for raw food deserts, nut cheeses, hummus, pesto and many other delicious things. I love kitchen gadgets like nothing else, so any time I bring home a new major player it's like having a new baby.
Say hello to your new baby sister, Vitamix. I love you the same, but different.
Since I didn't have exactly $400 to buy the Kitchen Aid of my dreams, this fine Hamilton Beach will be the processor of my now until the dreams come true. But wait! Have a look at the french description. Robot Culinaire.

This beast is not just a food processor, it is now officially my Culinary Robot. OUI!
I also got a trip to the farmer's market as a consolation prize for being downtown on a Saturday, so I had the freshest produce in town to play with.
Basil, carrots and a free(and awesome) restaurant guide to Kingston. Score!
It was time for me and my new Culinary Robot to make some magic. Pesto! My dinner guest for this evening was Deb(one of the funniest girls I know) who, thanks to a big promotion, is no longer my boss. Woo hoo, lets ditch the professionalism! With booze!
So close to becoming a rap video.
 After an embarrassing muscle fail,
If you don't open soon, shit's gonna get real.
it was time for picking dinner. Green beans from my garden....look at us all homesteady and shit.
For our luscious dinner tonight we had Roast vegetable pasta with basil-cilantro pesto,, , garlic bread, and these green beans that are out of control delicious. OUT OF CONTROL!!!

And because carb on carb on carb isn't quite enough, chocolate chip pecan cookies for dessert.
Not even kidding, I had 27 of these.
At this point, it's time for cards. This is my nerdy secret. I love cards. I love shuffling, I love  trash talking (clearly) and more than anything I like winning. So when you dine at my house, the unofficial initiation is beating me at cards. I won't tell you this at the time, but if you can't beat me at Speed at least once without me letting you, you won't be invited back. Turns out Deb is a shark, because bitch smoked me right from the start. I let her have her sitting ovation for awesomeness.
Next time I won't let you win.
 Just this once.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vegan picnic in paradise (Who would have thought Wolfe Island?)

New adventures abound! My English friend Sally invited me to spend the day with her family at their cabin/mansion on Wolfe Island. If you're anywhere near Kingston, Ontario-Wolfe Island is a perfect day trip on a free ferry!

When travelling with children, you should consider hiring a sherpa to carry all the junk you need to get them happy throughout the day.
Unintentional product placement.
I was unable to locate one for this trip and instead looked like I was on a backpacking trip through Europe. Totally worth it for the good times about to unfold. Their beautiful house is right on the water, and is the perfect place for both epic fun and random yoga bombs.
This is what triangle post on Wolfe Island looks like.
Sal doing the prerequisite "what will you do to be on my blog" shot.

Sucker. Taking pictures and doing yoga is hard work. This meant it was time to refuel. Though it's almost always time for me to refuel. Feed me! Today was no ordinary lunch. We had a vegan(though they aren't) FEAST on their private island! I got to prepare it in the kitchen of my dreams overlooking the water. It even has my dream gas stove. In their cabin. I like to stand over it and weep. Despite the fact that I don't get to keep the kitchen, I still feel fortunate to even get to use it. My contribution to this potluck was portobello mushroom fajitas with cilantro sour creme (just sub the chipotle for 2 tbs of minced cilantro that you'll add after everything is blended) and avocado (the weird looking thing in plastic wrap.)
Christina's F-Bomb Fajitas
4 portobello mushrooms
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs meat rub (I like Costco's sweet mesquite)
2 tbs coconut oil
1/8-1/4 cup dry white wine (red also works, just with a bit different flavour.)
Juice of one lemon
1 tbs mesquite seasoning (failing that, a mix of salt, cumin, chili powder and cayenne works well)

Drizzle washed mushrooms with olive oil, and use your hands to get into the nooks and crannies. Sprinkle first portion of rub, and massage into your shrooms. Set aside for about 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients and heat your BBQ. Cook until tender and not charred to death. Set aside. Once cool, slice. In the meantime, heat your pan and melt coconut oil. Cook onions until they're about halfway done (not quite translucent)and then add your minced garlic. Saute for another minute, and add the peppers. Once your veggies are about 5 minutes from tender-add the portobellos back to the pan, in addition with the remaining ingredients. Cook until everything is tender, taste and adjust seasonings.

Also featured were artisan PB and J sandwiches, homemade pickles, tomato salad, and garden salad. Oh baby!

From there we watched huge cargo ships pass by and tried not to get epically sunburned. Mini practiced her skills on the water, which clearly involved being fancy. For those getting picky about the irony of  fishing during vegan lunch, you'll be happy to know that vegans don't fish-we weed :D

The only thing about Wolfe Island is that the ferry fills up quickly in the summer, so catching it back is always 30 panicked minutes rounding up your junk and hauling ass to get in line. Our hustle paid off, because it gave me time to enjoy the view and take random pictures.

Yuhuh. And then look who I got to make friends with!

Awesome. If your day doesn't end with a turtle, then it can't really can't be "the best day ever". So thanks to Sal for the good times and to Wolfe Island for being a pretty fabulous place to spend a gorgeous summer day. Go check it out for yourself, and remember that Kingston is waiting right where you left it.
Thanks for the gorgeous photo Shannon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shit hippies like: D.I.Y. Haircuts

My hair is currently one of my most prized possessions. I get to wear on my head a reminder that out of one of the worst things that ever happened, came one of the best things that ever happened. So it went down like this. The day after this picture was taken,
I kiss my sweet slumbering son awake only to be two inches from the biggest infestation of lice the world has ever known. On my pillow. In my bed. After we had just spent two hours cuddling head to head.*Insert a word so bad I won't even post it*. So I call the Dr. It isn't something they treat. I call a hairdresser. Like hell will they come within 20 feet of my house. This calls for the mother of all D.I.Y jobs. We all had glorious long hair, and since I'm a hippie and won't put chemical death on myself or my family-we were going to have to do this the long way. This meant torturous hours of wearing a cap of vegan mayo on a hot day, tea tree oil shampoo and the agonizing process of painstaking combing that would go on for weeks. Cut that shit off! So thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I got a basic tutorial on how to cut off the long hair that I've had all my life. And went from this

to this.

And they went from this,

to this.....
And this...
I realize this isn't a shining example of awesome. It was almost physically painful getting near hair with so much lice, so it was a hack job. I've since improved.
Booya, I just saved $130! So it turns out I'm actually awesome at cutting hair! 90% of the time I like it more than any hairdresser has ever done and I get exactly what I want! Plus I can change it whenever I like. Though the back is often a group effort(there've been a few hot messes to date), as I can't see what the hell I'm doing. Hippies like saving money. Hippies like doing things themselves. Hippies love a chance to say "screw you man, I'm going off the grid". So that's what I've done with my hair. I get compliments on it all the time, even from hairdressers. Yeah, I did that shit myself!

Monday, July 2, 2012

More adventures feeding Omnivores

Tonight my dinner guest was my fabulous German friend, Sunny. I met her at the gym I work at and loved that she's always wearing yellow! Matching your clothes to your name=winning. Sunny is a music therapist and was in charge of the tunes while I supplied the culinary magic. Sometimes Germans have amazing taste (hello electronic music) and sometimes questionable taste (David Hasselhoff anyone?). This was displayed beautifully by the Macarena and Chicken Dance sandwiched in between other amazing music that didn't make your ears bleed :D. Germans also have a reputation for a serious love afair with meat, so I was a bit nervous about the response to vegan food. For our culinary delight, we had Chickpea and Spinich curry from Vegan with a vengance.
I realize this doesn't look that awesome. Lighting was poor and curry is hard to make look pretty.
 For the second round, I made avocado chocolate mousse on fresh local strawberries.
Here's a little secret-if you dessert looks like turds, shredded coconut hides a multitude of sins.
I picked these bitches myself (in a mini skirt no less) so was extra proud of them! Dessert and dinner were enthusiastically recieved! Woo hoo. Winning over German Omnivores-check mark!
Sunny may never talk to me again. We laughed at this picture for two hours and I promised not to post it on the internet. I lied.