Saturday, November 21, 2009

What We Caterin'

Kreck here.  For the last few weeks I've been spending a ton o' time preparing for my final planning studio presentation at school on farm innovation and land use planning in Ontario.  Exciting!  Because my studio group is looking at food, we offered to do the catering for our presentations.

We went to St. Lawrence Market and picked up a ton of local vegetables, cheeses and ingredients to make this spread.  After hours (and hours) of washing, chopping, blending and displaying we came up with this:

Here are the veggie platters we made up with local produce, including white and purple carrots and orange and purple cauliflower...

And the dips...

Cilantro Dip

Spicy Sundried Tomato Dip

Hummus (with a lovely garnish)...

Local food: It's what we caterin' with!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where We Goin': Soup-A-Licious

Kreck here. Yesterday some friends and I did a road trip up to Holland Marsh to check out the Soup-A-Licious festival that's taking place this weekend.  We took part in the self-guided farm tours and saw some neat things...

Bajar Greenhouse

Carron Farm Ltd.

(Red, purple, white, yellow and orange carrots, oh my!)

The festivities continue tomorrow, so check it out if you have a chance!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What We Makin': Roasted Vegetables

Kreck here.  A few weeks ago I bought these PURPLE (!) potatoes from the farmer's market without knowing what I'd do with them.  Today it was their time to shine, because I decided to try my hand at roasting vegetables.  And believe me readers: if I can do it, so can all of y'all.

I started off by cutting up potatoes, carrots, celery, onions and a couple of garlic cloves, as well as a couple of apples, just to be adventurous.  I tossed them in a large bowl with olive oil, cayenne pepper, paprika and oregano.  Then I put everything in a large casserole dish, covered it with aluminum foil and put it in the oven (at 375 degree Fahrenheit) and let it cook for 75 minutes.  It may take more or less time depending on your oven, so just keep checking to see if the harder vegetables are cooked.

Behold the result:

This was so good, especially the apples!  (And all of the produce was local!)  The next time I make this, I will definitely add more apples, onions, garlic and herbs.
Give it a try!

Vegetables:  It's what we roastin'.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What We Linkin' To: The Best Bulk Food Stores in Toronto

Kreck here.  My apologies for being a deadbeat blogger lately.  I'm still a deadbeat blogger, but maybe this link to an awesome post on another blog will make you forget about that...

(Be sure to read the comments part for a debate on whether the Bulk Barn deserves a place on this list.
I vote yes.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What We Eatin': Jen's Famous Carob Peanut Butter Cups

Kreck here.  Jen made a vegan, gluten-free version of Reese chocolate peanut butter cups this evening, and lordy they were good!   The cups have a layer of peanut butter, icing sugar and shredded cocunut between two layers of melted carob chips -- that's all there is to it!

Warning:  These are really delicious, but they are super sugar and filling -- one bite is probably all you need.  I decided to save half of one for tomorrow (which I never, ever do!).

Jen's Famous Carob Peanut Butter Cups:  It's what's givin' us a sugar high!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What We Eatin': Pickled Green Beans

Today I paid my bro a visit, and left with a jar of pickled green beans!  They were pickled with two cloves of garlic, pepper corns and a small chili pepper, so they definitely had a kick.  Mmm!

What We Makin': Eggplant Parmesan

I absolutely love making warm hearty meals when the weather gets cooler, and this eggplant parmesan is perfect for cooler days.

First, slice your eggplant into 1/2 inch slices.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and let sit for 15 minutes or so.  While that is working, you can get to work making a sauce.  Canned pasta sauce is great for when you're in a rush.  This time, I opened a jar of pasta sauce and added some onions, garlic, grated zucchini and red peppers.

For the "parmesan," I made up a simple substitute that I really like.  I added 1 cup of sesame seeds, 1/2 a cup of almonds, 1/2 a cup of nutritional yeast and 1 tsp of sea salt into a food processor and blended until it became a fine crumb mixture.

After the eggplant is ready, rinse it off in a colander and pat dry.  Next up, you'll need to bread and fry the eggplant.  I mixed egg replacer with hemp milk and some water together and put it into a wide bowl.  For the breading, I mixed spelt flour with some corn meal and some Italian seasonings.  First dip the eggplant into the milk mixture, then the breading.  Shake off any excess breading and drop into a frying pan heated with a layer of oil.  After the slices brown, transfer them to a paper towel to blot excess oil.

Once all of the slices have been fried, you can move onto layering the eggplant with cheese and sauce.  I also used some grated soy mozzarella along with my parmesan mixture.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven covered with foil for maybe half an hour or so.  Then take the foil off and broil it until it starts to brown.


Where We Shoppin': The Farmers' Market

Have I mentioned that I love going to the market?

This trip I picked up some Empire apples, raspberries, eggplants, broccoli, a butternut squash and a huge bunch of lettuce!

My sprouts for the week are micro-greens and buckwheat sprouts.  Yum!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getting My Festival On!

I too attended the Vegetarian Food Fair with Kreck.  It was my first year going there wheat-free and I was afraid there wouldn't be much to choose from.  Surprisingly, there were many different things.  Here's my photograph rundown of what I sampled.

I hit up the food tent.  There were tons of gluten-free and wheat-free options.  There was a lot of the usual curries and rice, but this year I decided to hit up the Magic Oven.  I got this slice of pizza with a spelt crust, some zucchini chickpea soup and some tofu bites for 8 dollars.  Things are usually a little pricey at the food fair, but this was really filling so I didn't find it to be too outrageous.
tofu bites!
They also had some gluten-free chocolate cake, although I was too full to consider that as an option.
There was a lot of prepackaged food, bars and imitation meats and I wished there were more exciting things sometimes.  However, I did pick up a few things:
These macaroons were pretty good! They were gluten-free and made with rice flour.  Let's just say that they didn't last too long...

I can't figure out how to rotate this picture, but you get the idea.  

I also picked up some of this flat bread, which I haven't tried yet, but it seems promising.
Overall, I really enjoyed hitting up the Vegetarian Food Fair.  I can't wait for next year!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kreck's Vegetarian Food Fair Diary

Dear diary,

Today Jen, Greg and I went to the Vegetarian Food Fair down at Harbourfront.  I ate some awesome food and scored some sweet deals...

First I'll tell you about the deals:

The New Moon Kitchen, a bakery specializing in all-natural, vegan baked goods made with spelt flour was in full force today with samples of their super wicked awesome cookies and treats.  Their booth was offering 3 items (cookies or granola) for $10 (!).  Usually one bag of cookies alone is $5 or $6 in the store, so I jumped on this one.  It was a hard choice, but I settled on the gluten-free, vegan macaroons, the vegan mint chocolate cookies (made with spelt flour), and a huge container of granola.

Then I ran into Ella from Ella's Botanicals, with her all-natural, handmade soaps and lotions.  You've probably seen them at Whole Foods and other health food stores around the city.  I've been lovin' these soaps for the last year, since meeting Ella on the craft show circuit.  My mum and dad are also fans!  I took full advantage of her 5 bars of soap for $20 deal (I had a request from my dad to hook him up with a couple of bars, so this saved me a trip to Noah's!).  The soaps I bought were the Almond Scrub, Lemon Eucalyptus, and Lavender Rose, but I'd also recommend the Chai Latte and Anoint Me soaps.  
Now, on to the eats!

I'll briefly mention an awesome (non-gluten-free) Jamaican Patty I had with collard greens and hemp seeds from a booth whose name escapes me.... it was super tasty.

Oh diary, I think I'm in love... with a plate of salads.  Okay, I'm exaggerating, but yeeesh, this was good.  Hearty Catering was offering samples of their different organic, vegan dishes for $2 a pop, or full plates of their salads for $10.  It was well worth it.  I had the cold plate which consisted of beet salad, pecan and apple salad, a green salad, quinoa salad and a roasted tomato slice slathered with tapanade (!) -- there was also a hot plate option with rice and stew.  Holy lord, this was good and super filling.  

Finally, what better way to finish off a visit to the food fair than with a sample of vegan ice cream?  This scoop of green tea ice cream was only $1!  Mmm mmm.

Well diary, thanks for listening.  

Until next time....


Friday, September 11, 2009

Where We Eatin': Vegetarian Haven

Vegetarian Haven
17 Baldwin Street, Toronto, ON

Kreck here.  My mum made the trip to Toronto to visit me today, and we went for lunch at Vegetarian Haven in Baldwin Village.  It boasts a wide selection of vegan appetizers, entrees and desserts, and has several wheat-free and wheat-optional items.  There is also a daily lunch and dinner special, which the staff will bring to the table and describe.  The wait staff were incredibly nice and friendly.  Veg-Haven offers a roomy front patio (for taking in the bustle of Baldwin St.) and a cozy interior.

Let's just say, Mary (my mum) has a new favourite restaurant in Toronto...
I ordered the avocado salad ($12) with maple syrup dijon mustard dressing on the side.  The presentation itself was beautiful -- it was hard to take the first bite of this salad!  It wasn't hard to keep eatin' it though, because the salad was so tasty.  It was an interesting mix of avocado, corn, cucumbers, apple, sprouts, lettuce, shaved carrot, apple, nuts and raisins.  The salad was a smidge bland, but with the dressing it was a-mazing.  I'd love to try this salad with all of the other dressings on the menu (ginger sesame vinaigrette, creamy miso tahini, olive oil rosemary balsamic vinaigrette...).  Yum.
My mum opted for the lunch special ($10) -- a salad with oil and herbs, lo mein noodles (with tamari?) and three baked sweet potato and taro root pieces with a savory sesame sauce.  The noodles could definitely be switched for rice noodles or rice to make this gluten-free. 
In Mary's words:
  • it was good "comfort food"
  • there was a "good assortment" and "nice arrangement" of flavours
  • it was "pleasant" to eat
  • it was "good to the last morsel"
  • she "would recommend"
  • (she could have kept going, but I stopped her)
The verdict:  Vegetarian Haven is quite possibly my fave vegetarian restaurant in Toronto.  Added points for the vast menu, amazing service and switchin' it up with the daily specials.

Vegetarian Haven:  It where my mum's eatin'!
(We also went to High Park!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What We Makin': Salsa

Jen's luck was really out,
Her spirit and her fortune low
Alone she sat, alone she thought
Of happy salsas she used to know 

Go, go, go Jen you know what they say
Hang on now Jen you'll make it some day
Sha la la Jen you're doing fine
You and your salsa ahead of your time
Go, go, go Jen you know what they say
Hang on now Jen you'll make it some day
Sha la la Jen you're doing fine
You and your salsa ahead of your time 

Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go
Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go

Where We Shoppin': The Farmers' Market

Although these cooler temperatures are making me fear the cold days ahead, I still love this time of year for the awesome food that is available.  Check out this load o' stuff I got at the farmers' market the other day:

Red veined spinach, pattypan squash, baby zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, purple Russian potatoes, sprouts and peaches.

You know you wanna piece.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What We Makin': Rice, Bean & Corn Salad

Kreck here.  This is a recipe for all of you Level I cooks out there.  This salad is super cheap, hearty and healthy!  I found it in the Toronto Star a couple of weeks ago and finally tried it out today.
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp hot sauce
1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup olive oil
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup rice
1 cup water
2 540mL cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 cups fresh or frozen thawed corn kernels
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 small green pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Whisk dressing ingredients together in a bowl, set aside.  
  • Cook and cool rice, fluff with fork.  
  • Combine beans, corn, onion, pepper and parsley in large bowl, and add rice once it has cooled to room temperature.
  • Add desired amount of dressing
  • Makes a lot... 8 cups!

You could definitely substitute ingredients and modify the quantities used based on your own preferences and what you happen to have on hand.  The original recipe called for red pepper and green onions, but I only had green pepper and white onion, and it is still delicious.  You may want to reduce the amount of olive oil a smidge, and add more chili pepper and hot sauce for more heat.

I may not be able to turn an avocado into a pie, but apparently I can turn rice, beans and corn into a tasty salad!