Monday, September 27, 2010

Mindful Knitting

While I was sitting in a coffee shop yesterday, alone, and working on the baby blanket that I'm knitting for a friend...I thought about the idea that our emotions and thoughts might be passed into the knitting and passed on to the recipient. What do you think?

Usually when working on this project, I'm chatting with friends at work, or watching TV, but every once in a while I think about the baby girl that will be (hopefully) wrapped in this blanket, and I wish good things for her and her mama and their future together.

My emotions at the coffee place yesterday were not so peaceful. They were...let's say turbulent. I was a half hour into being stood up by some friends that said they would meet me there, and I was alone in a busy shop. I was kind of seething about it, as it was a meeting for the book club I've been requested to run...and the last few meetings have been less than populated. I was ready to cancel book club. I stopped and reflected on the fact that I'd just knit three angry rows into the blanket, and wondered if that vibe could be passed on. I know it might be crazy, but I then resolved to not think about the issue anymore, at least not while I was knitting the blanket.

There is a book called Mindful Knitting by Tara Jon Manning which "aims to help knitters become more meditative in their knitting practice by making them mindful of forming each stitch and passing positive emotions into the work as they knit."

I don't need to read this book to know that knitting can be a form of meditation, but I will definitely try to be more mindful in my knitting...just in case!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why, camera, why?

Well, dear readers....I think it's my camera's time to pass on. It takes one picture then freezes up and won't load them on to the computer. I have a backup camera but it takes horrid pictures. This blog is the only thing that keeps me cooking right now, because I love that I'm back to regular updates. A new camera is on my Christmas list but that's a long way away... Well, hopefully it will fix itself!

Anyways, I went shopping at Value Village the other day to see what I would find. Answer: A lot of cute clothes for teaching, an ice cream maker, and a few paintings!

Turns out the ice cream maker is missing the handle/blade but I'm going to test it out. If it doesn't work with my makeshift blade/handle, I will try to return it. If not, I will donate it back. It was only 7 dollars! I've got some mint chocolate chip ice cream mix cooling, waiting to be put into the frozen chamber...Can't wait!

I've been working 10-12 hour days the last couple of days, so not much cooking is going on!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fashion Show

No new food just yet. I'm still eating leftovers. My pistachio rosewater cupcakes went over very well at work, so I think they're a go for the baby shower next month. Tonight is the start of our girls' fall/winter cooking and knitting night, so I should have some pics soon from that.

In other news, I have finally finished (wow, its really hard to type while a dog is licking your fingers!), Dill's dog sweater. I bought this yarn because I loved the colour combo of brown and blue, but realized I wouldn't really want to wear it a doggy sweater made sense, especially since dog clothes in pet stores don't really fit dachshunds properly, and cold weather is upon us. I should've made the end of the turtleneck looser, but I think it will stretch and look more natural with wear.

The pattern is from the Stitch n' Bitch book. There's a matching human sweater, but I'm not going there!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Fillets with Tartar Sauce - The Vegan Table
(and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes)
These fillets fried up beautifully, but as I dredged and prepped, I thought to myself...this tofu isn't marinaded or anything, it's just dredged in coating and dijon , will it be flavourful enough? The answer, my friends, is no. However, it is crispy, and topped with the vegenaise tartar sauce it's quite nice. Next time I will marinate my tofu using instructions from this blog post at "Meet the Shannons", which calls for marinading with miso soup and Worcestershire. I'm disappointed that you can't really taste much of the flavour in the coating which has lots of herbs and spices, and salt....

The potatoes are derived from an online recipe which I had to veganize, and they are quite nice. I've long wanted to try them, as I love horseradish.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

2.5 lbs (half a bag) Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (I don't peel, but feel free)
3/4 cup (175 mL) hot oat milk
1/4 cup (50 mL) Earth Balance margarine
4 tsp (18 mL) prepared horseradish
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 pinch nutmeg

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cover and cook the potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender; drain and return to the pot. I originally did 20 minutes and my potatoes were mildly overcooked.

With a potato masher, mash together the hot milk, margarine, horseradish, salt, pepper and nutmeg with the potatoes.

Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes- VCTOTW

I've had a bottle of rosewater in my pantry for some time now, and I've finally gotten to use it. I wanted to test these out for a baby shower I'm throwing next month, as they sound so delicate and fancy. These cupcakes are super light, so I feel that the icing is a bit heavy. In fact, after I peeled my wrapper off, it was top heavy and kept tipping. A light glaze might be in order here. Just pretty. Anyways, the smell of the rosewater brought back a childhood memory. When we lived in Quebec, we had wild roses or something like that in our yard. And I "made" rosewater by putting a bunch of petals in a bucket with water. I thought I'd be making perfume....didn't turn out that way, but it smelled nice! So that was my random childhood fact of the day!

I had to shell pistachios to make these, and as it turns out, Dill loves pistachios! She was staring at me the entire time, tucked under my elbow hoping I'd drop one for her. Here she is doing "shake" to get a pistachio... (p.s. it took 3 months of casual daily training for her to pick up shake...sigh)


The quest continues to finish Dill's dog sweater, which meant I had to learn how to knit with double pointed needles.

Much swearing and muttering to myself later, I finally was working it out. I was presented with a cup of tea by my hubby....which I think was done to try and get me to stop sounding like a crazy person. Billy said he didn't think knitters were generally the type to swear. Au contraire, love, au contraire. :)

Here it is so far, in all it's blurred fabulousness, all that's left now is for me to knit on the cowl neck.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baking ups and downs, and more knitting!

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie- The Uncheese Cookbook

This is from one of my neglected cookbooks. The filling is delicious, the crust is not so good. Undercooked, yet I cooked it longer than the recipe called for. So we're just scraping the mousse filling off the crust. Next time I'll make it crustless, or on a graham cracker kind of crust. It's kind of like pudding.

Chocolate Chip Cookies- VCTOTCJ

Again...Billy wanted more of these cookies. I told him he's hampering my blogging style by wanting the same cookies all the time, but who am I to say no to a husband who loves my cookies? Incidentally, I got called a harlot for licking some cookie dough off my fingers and the bowl when I could've, and I quote, "Gotten out the spatula and scraped together enough for another cookie". This was followed by me eating more dough in front of him and laughing.

I've finished knitting and sewing together the top and bottom parts of the dog sweater for Dill. I hate having to sew pieces together, but if you want to knit more than scarves, it's a package deal. I still have to knit in the leg bands and the cowl neck, but I did a test fitting to make sure it actually fit.

To add in the leg bands and the neck, I have to pick up stitches, and knit in the round on 3 double pointed needles. This is a new and scary technique for me so I did a test run with some old yarn I have in my stash. I love trying out new things!

This is the finished test run. I made some mistakes, but I've watched some youtube videos and I think I'm good to go. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An Awesome Breakfast

Tofu No-Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce- The Vegan Table

My first recipe attempt from The Vegan Table. This was actually easier to coordinate than I thought between all the layers and the sauce making. And it's delicious!! It would be easier to make if it was a slab of tofu, since the scrambled tofu falls off....but nevertheless it's perfectly seasoned. I would eat just the scrambled tofu from this recipe too. I had some difficulty with the sauce and it's thickening, and then there was too much lemon juice, but I managed to tweak it a bit to make it good.

I feel like I've been neglecting most of my cookbooks in favour of a select few books. I can't let them feel that way so I've decided to make my way through all of my books and make a few things from each.

Spinach Artichoke Dip- How It All Vegan

This is pretty good served with tortilla chips. I'd like it to be a bit creamier and more of a dip consistency, but it's a start.

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup- How It All Vegan

I wanted to make a fall-ey soup, and felt daring, thus the apple....but it just didn't float my boat. Maybe because I used Granny Smiths and it made the soup a bit sour...I don't know. Plus it was the consistency of baby food. The picture doesn't show it well but the colour was beautiful. Also, too much pepper. When will I learn to do it to taste and not blindly follow the recipe?!?

I was going to have a baking day in the kitchen but I feel a killer headache coming on...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Life's Like an Hourglass, Glued to the Table

Chocolate Chip Cookies- VCIYCJ

Billy requested chocolate chip cookies and lots of them so I made the cookies from this book since they make almost two dozen. And it helps that they're yummy. I had one after dinner last night and they are soft and chewy. Perfect!

We went out to dinner last night. We tried a new place called The Hourglass. They are mostly gluten-free, and when I looked up their menu online before making a reservation I was pleased to see a pasta dish called Very Vegan. It's gluten free penne with olive oil or marinara sauce, spinach, roasted red pepper, roasted garlic, red onion & mushrooms. I had mine with marinara. It was good. Nothing superb, but once I added some s&p it was pretty tasty. It was just nice to order straight off the menu without having to make substitutions. No pictures, it was too fancy to whip out the camera!

Knitting: Finished Objects (FO's)

As promised, here are some pictures of some of the projects I've completed so far.

Technicolor Cell Phone Cozy (Pattern from Stitch n' Bitch)

This was my first attempt at knitting stripes, and I'm quite pleased with the end result. The button is a little worse for wear but that's only because I use it so much! This is knit in Bernat Cotton.

Garter and Lace Wrap ( Coats & Clark #J27-0001, Red Heart Knitting Made Easy)

I completed this a couple of months back and it has served me well at camp and at bonfires on chilly nights. I knit it in Red Heart Supersaver Black Acrylic. It was mostly done for me to practice purling and yarn overs.

On our way to the Hourglass...

It's Grocery Day, so I should have some new and exciting recipes to share with you soon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just another lazy Sunday...

Just the way I like it!

For a while, we were on a green smoothie kick....why not? Delicious fruit and veggie smoothies that gave us almost our whole day's servings of fruits and veggies in one glass. But then I slacked on the groceries and we stopped for a bit. But Billy requested them again and bought the necessary supplies. You really do notice the difference from drinking these.

Raspberry Mango Green Smoothie

Makes 2 servings

3-4 handfuls of baby spinach
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen raspberries
2 cups pear nectar
drizzle of agave (check smoothie without it first, it's probably sweet enough already)

Blend for a couple of minutes and enjoy!

I don't think I'll have any food pics til tomorrow or later, we're going out for dinner tonight!

The sun is out, I'm off for a walk with the hubby and the puppy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Weiner in a blanket....and pizza

When Dill's trying to sleep and the camera comes out, she deliberately makes it hard to take a good picture! Such disdain from a ten pound being.

I'm half way done my "Big Bad Baby Blanket", I just need to finish by October 23rd in time for the shower. I should be done much sooner, because I'm itching to start new projects!! This is knit in Vanna's Choice Acrylic Yarn (Linen). Sudbury does not have a specialized shop for knitters that I can find, so that limits me to what Michael's, Zeller's or Wal Mart is selling.

Cheeseburger Pizza: La Dolce Vegan

I've made this before. It may sound bizarre, but it's delicious. Pizza with tomato sauce, pickles and onion, ground round, cheese and mustard (yep!). Don't knock it til you try it! I used soy ground round rather than TVP as a treat.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden.

Damn...I just missed a few days of supply work next week by two hours :(...just had to go shopping.

I'm loving these leisurely mornings where I actually have time to cook in the morning if I want. I wanted to make something for breakfast, but ran into a few problems:
1) my cupboards are pretty bare
2) it was already 8 and I didn't want to have to bake something that would take an hour or so, plus cooling time
3) I didn't want pancakes or waffles

Picky or what? So I went on vegweb for some ideas, and found a recipe for biscuits and sausage gravy. But I didn't have the ingredients. However, it was enough inspiration.

Easy Breakfast Biscuits- Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food

Biscuits and gravy! How have I never made this before? I had these straight out of the oven with a bit of margarine and topped with this simple gravy (since I had no mushrooms or miso to make any of the fancy gravies in my cookbooks). The only change I made to the gravy was to use broth instead of water.
Yumsters! Note the gravy boat in the background...I had never used it and wanted to :P

So, we live in an apartment with no yard, but we are blessed with a rather large balcony, which I have turned into my urban garden. My budget was pretty low this year, so I tried growing my flowers from seeds. Not all of them were a success. I planted my cosmos and morning glories and ended up buying pre-grown flowers for the rest. But I did use empty cat litter boxes as planters to save some money, so it all worked out.

Except, my cosmos took until September to bloom...and only one has flowered so far. So I will start earlier next year.

Cosmo (singular)

Morning Glory (I trellised my plants too late, so they did not thrive as well as they should have)

I forget the name of this one and I lost the slip with the info on it, please leave a comment if you know what it's called!

I love fall, but it saddens me that soon my flowers will come to an end...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


School is back in session, and since I don't have a teaching contract for the year as of yet, I am back on the supply teacher list. Which means I won't be teaching for a while! None the less, I am getting my fall/regular working adult schedule back on track now that summer is over. That means waking up early, getting dressed and putting on my face before noon, tidying up around the house, knitting while watching my Food Network shows, walking the dog, etc...and let's not forget cooking! Plus, I work evenings at the restaurant.

Lunch yesterday was from Vegan Pandamonium here, rosemary-butter gnocchi. Simple and delicious, and it's always good times when I get to use the mortar and pestle my sister bought me a few years back.

I've been wanting to make a lasagna that both Billy and I will eat. I'm not too fussy, although when I think lasagna, I think mom's lasagna, meat and cheese and ricotta, etc. However, I do like veggie lasagnas too. As an aside,when I first stopped eating red meat but hadn't given up poultry yet, my wonderful mom would make me a mini turkey lasagna whenever she cooked lasagna for dinner. That's love!

Billy is a different story. He loves his mom's lasagna too, and that's where it ends. His ideal lasagna his meat, sauce and cheese. Done. No veggies, no ricotta, no cottage cheese, no tofu ricotta, etc. So, I made him one...that is also love :P

Except, I made the "Sneaky Mom's Tomato Sauce" from Vegan Lunch Box as the sauce. I guess I can call it the Sneaky Wifey's sauce too! It's a tomato sauce with loads of kale, carrots, onion, etc, but you blend it up so no one's the wiser.

This lasagna consists of lasagna noodles layered with the tomato sauce, smokey TVP, and Daiya cheese. And it is fantabulous! The only change I shall make will be to cut down the liquid smoke next time, as it's a bit overwhelming in this dish. Mmmmmmm, I was taking bites out of the pan!

Gotta run to work!

Monday, September 06, 2010


OK, I took a little break...but I'm back! I haven't been cooking as much, but now that it's cooling down a bit, I'll be more in the mood... Mmmmm, fall soups and oven baked deliciousness!

So, I've been flying through my supply of daiya cheese rather quickly, and on not-so-fancy meals, but that's why I don't usually keep a supply of vegan cheese on hand. Because if I have it, I will cook it :P

Here's a simple and yummy cheese pizza using cheddar and mozzarella daiya cheese. I find it doesn't melt as much as I'd heard, but it still becomes stringy like real cheese. Very satisfying pizza.

My dad's 50th was in August, and I thought I'd make some cupcakes for his out-of-town party. Except I forgot that I'd be driving three hours in a hot car with no AC...and it was a hot day! I now have a new rule when it comes to cupcakes and travel: FOA (Frost On Arrival).

Brooklyn vs. Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes: Vegan Cupcakes Takes Over the World

I will definitely have to give these ones another try sometime. I didn't fill them with nearly enough pastry creme, but I couldn't really make the holes any bigger without breaking the cupcake either. BUT, they were still good. This picture is horrendous, as its of a cupcake that traveled to the party in the sun, and then returned the next day in the car, in the sun. But it was pretty at one point, I swear.

The Elvis Cupcake: VCTOTW

Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Aren't they gorgeous?!?! Well they didn't look like this when I got to the party. By the time I got there, it looked more like a glazed cupcake. But my fabulous daddy still tried one and said he loved the pb. :D

Ultimate Nachos: Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Foods

OMG YUM! First you pour a cheese sauce on the nachos, then you sprinkle more cheese on, then top with black beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc....and bake. These were topped with generous amounts of sour cream and salsa. I did not look very ladylike eating these, good thing I already snagged my man!

So, this blog is obviously usually about vegan food and cooking. But the line under my blog title does say "Vegan Food and Life", so I thought I'd include some other things here every once in a while. I've been knitting now for several months, and I think I will share some of my completed projects here and discuss the issues around vegan knitting a bit too. I've just started a dog coat for my dachshund, since they don't have typical dog bodies and nothing from the stores fit her properly.