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Dear kiddos,

I am excited to report that last week I attend my first-ever vegan potluck!
After hearing about all these great vegan meet-ups that fellow bloggers always report about, I was incredibly excited for the Kingston Vegetarian Network‘s first event: a vegan potluck.

Unfortunately, my camera died right before I went, so I couldn’t take any pictures of all the good food. But trust me, there was plenty! It was so great to have all this food available and not having to ask or worry about whether it was vegetarian or vegan. There were some great rice dishes, home-grown kale salads, and even vegan chocolate chip and double chocolate chip cookies!

One of the people who organized it brought along Sophie’s Kitchen Shrimp & Calamaris. Sophie’s Kitchen is a company that specializes in producing vegan “seafood” imitates. Their most popular products afaik are the vegan shrimp:

and also the vegan calamaris:

I have been eyeing these for a while; in fact when I still lived in the UK I remember sending and email to them, asking when the products would be available in Europe. Unfortunately, their answer was:

No, we are not selling in EU. We have done our home work. The yeast extract we used, beta glucan, is not approved to be used in EU yet. We are working on new formulation to go to EU market. Hope that will happen soon.

Me too!

Either way, I was really excited to actually try the finally. I completely forgot that they existed, but remembered when I saw the package.

So, they were good. Good, and tasty. I especially thought that the Calamaris came really close to the real thing. The texture was just as chewy and rubber-y, but in a good way. I loved the batter of course, but more just for their yummy crispi- and fattyness.

Conclusion: it was great to try these finally, but not sure if I would bother spend the $8 on it. Not while I’m on a student budget anyway. However, there are definitely a treat for special occasions.

I brought along the Chocolate Cupcakes I made the night before(or, rather, what was left of them after my house mates got their hands on them). They were a great success! I think this was the first time I presented my vegan baking to complete strangers, so I was a bit nervous. Everyone loved them though! One of the younger kids that were present kept, the whole time during dinner, pointing at the cupcakes and clearly expressing its desire to take one. Score!

I also brought along a barley salad I made. Again, I couldn’t take a picture since my camera just died, but it looked somewhat like this:

It was yum! I love barley salads, I just prefer its texture to many other grains. The recipe is somewhat similar to the Israeli Couscous with Pistacchios and Apricots from Veganomicon. I came up with the idea after getting my aunt’s care package last week and actually having dried apricots and pistacchios on hand (which never happens otherwise).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups barley
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • Dried apricots
  • spring onion
  • 1 apple
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3-4 tbs soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • cinnamon

To make:

  1. Heat up some oil in a pan. Gently sautee the barley for 4-5min.
  2. Pour in the vegetable broth. (I actually used Miso, because I didn’t have any veggie broth at hand. Works just fine.)
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30min. Check if the barley is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the dried apricots and spring onions, dice the apple, and rise the chickpeas.
  5. Mix the spices together.
  6. Rinse the cooked barley, put it into a salad bowl. Drizzle some oil over it.
  7. Stir in all your chopped ingredients.
  8. Mix in the spices, add soy sauce.
  9. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  10. (Add more olive oil before serving if it seems to dry.)

Now personally I thought this was really yummy, but some people commented it was a bit too sweet. I suppose it is the apple-cinnamon-combination that creates this effect. To change that, maybe add some onion? Or a bit balsamico? Or even lemon juice? Not sure.

Have you ever been to a potluck and met fellows, or are you the only vegan/vegetarian you know?

Have a great week everyone!

Dear readers,

Exciting news: It’s time for Vegan MoFo!

Throughout the month of October, over 700 vegan food bloggers will display their art and get knee-deep into some vegan cooking, baking and writing. I am excited to participate this year. It’ll be a great motivation to try out more new recipes. This is the perfect time of the year to this as well- the leaves are turning yellow and it’s becoming cold outside…

Next thing: picture of my lunch!
I live in a coop, so part of the deal to live here is to do 3 hours of kitchen work a week. And I love it! In the short time I’ve lived here, I’ve already learned so much about cooking, using the right kitchen utensils, which flavours work well together etc. And I get to make awesome vegan things – and eat them 🙂 Here is my lunch from yesterday:

What’s in it?

  1. Eggless “Egg”-Salad
  2. Barley-Chickpea Salad
  3. Spicy Hummous: Tabasco & Pepper
  4. Classic Hummous: Tahini
  5. Carrot sticks!

The Barley-chickpea salad was my favourite. I don’t remember the exact recipe, but I’ll try and remember as best as I can:

  1. Cook 1.5 cups of barley
  2. In a bowl, throw together a can of chickpeas, some cut up spring onion, some fresh parsley, juice of a lemon.
  3. Add some extras. These could be: dried raisins, cranberries, pistachios*, dried apricots. I also used sun-dried tomatos because I love them, worked out well.
  4. When the barley is tender, spread it out on a flat pan. Drizzle some olive oil over it and let it sit for a little bit.
  5. Put together a spice mix of black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, nutmeg, turmeric. This is where my memory gets fuzzy. There may have been more spices. I also left out the turmeric because we didn’t have any, and it worked out well!
  6. Mix the barley with the rest of salad.
  7. Throw the spice mix in and stir.
  8. Let it sit for about an hour before serving. Maybe drizzle more olive oil on if it seems dry.
  9. Enjoy!

(*The recipe is originally a barley-pistaccio salad, but we always leave nuts out of all recipes in the coop kitchen for those who are allergic.)
The best thing was that I made all of the above and then knew they were being diminished by fellow coop-ers at lunch. Yay – vegan food for everyone!

Lastly, I tried out the raw pumpkin butter recipe from Raw Is Sexy last night. I used this baby:

I still had it sitting on my counter from the visit to the Farmer’s Market the other day. I knew it was time to try this…

This is what it turned out as: Yummy raw, cinnamon-y pumpkin goodness! I spread some on a sandwich and digged in right away. The rest is sitting in the fridge now.

Any ideas on what I could with it? Mix in some muffins? Make pumpkin bread out of it?

Lastly, I want to point you guys to some awesome vegan blogs I’ve discovered through vegan mofo already. For the complete list, check here:

To the above and all the other mofo-ers: What is your goal for Vegan MoFo 2011?
I am mainly hoping to have fun, explore some new vegan recipes (particularly soup! I haven’t made much soup yet at all but the season is calling for it), and find more vegan bloggers I like 🙂

Have a nice Sunday everyone!