Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Vegan Eggnog & Spice Pancakes

It's National Pancake Day!

The Toronto weather was surprisingly pleasant. Sure, it rained twice. It wasn't a chilly rain. There wasn't any snow or Jack Frost nipping at ears, asking the head for a hat and muffs. I was beside myself for not having gloves. I hadn't expected this spring enjoyment, especially seeing as packed sweaters and cardigans couldn't be worn.
Still, nothing can stop the weekend's favorite breakfast.
Saturday morning pancakes seemed to be the perfect opener. At first, these were going to made with rice milk until I was told that So Delicious Coconut Milk Eggnog was on hand. Eggnog isn't just for the holidays. My friends also keep a beautifully arranged spice assortment. It definitely inspires me to be more organized and caring with my own. Plenty of markets and groceries sell dried ingredients in satchels and packets and they have reused glass jars to carry them. I usually recycle. Now I realize the benefit in retaining. After all, spices can cost an upwards of ten or eleven dollars.
I found a great recipe for Vegan Eggnog Pancakes by My Darling Vegan and amended with added brown sugar and cardamom (which is perfect in sweet, spicy recipes) and the baking soda and vinegar method-- useful if baking powder isn't available. It is best to include eggnog's natural spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg to bring out the flavor profile in the pancakes.
Thus, after saving the leftovers of pliant, crispy edged pancakes with the right amount of sweet and spice, one of her roommates complimented them, saying they were the right balance in texture and taste. It is a humbling experience to share plant based recipes to non-vegan friends, an absolute plus when they find enjoyment.

Vegan Eggnog & Spice Pancakes Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda + 1 teaspoon vinegar)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vinegar
3 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
2 1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog
1/4-1/2 cup water (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder, brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. If using the baking soda and vinegar method, add that in for the substitution of baking powder.
Add vinegar, melted coconut oil, and any vegan nog. Mix well. If batter is too thick, add water.
Oil a pan set on medium to low heat.
Pour desired amount of batter and wait for bubbles to form. Flip. And repeat for each pancake.
This batch makes 6-8 large pancakes and 10-12 silver dollar pancakes.

Heavy stack. 
Pancake toppings range from traditional maple syrup to agave nectar, warm cherries and berries compote, diced apples, Earth Balance butter, and peanut butter. 
Warm berries and maple syrup it is.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Back In Toronto Part I: The Usual Spots

Back in my second home of Toronto, Ontario, which is almost triple the population size of Philadelphia, my first meal was this giant bowl of coconut curry with black rice, black sesame tofu, lettuce, and breadsticks from Urban Herbivore, a few blocks away from the Greyhound Station at the mall.

My friend, who cordially allowed me to stay over at her beautiful space with the most wonderful roommates (including a precocious ten-year-old), ordered a burger and fries wrap. The potatoes are inside the burger-- how amazing is that??? I'll have to try that someday. 

On a surprisingly beautiful Friday afternoon, I walked down to Bloomer's for mac n cheese with broccoli, an elderberry donut, and endless water. 

The mac n cheese has a thick, creamy richness that makes me unsure if they're using a housemade creation from nuts or a dairy free alternative cheese-- either way it is amazing, especially with the generous amounts of firm broccoli florets.

My friend and I walked down to Apiecollapse. She ordered a scrumptious looking big mac pizza slice and a blueberry donut. Their donuts are huge, bright colored desserts that remind anyone of cartoons, which isn't astonishing information that the Homer remains a favorite. 

The Homer, Peanut Butter, and Blueberry flavors. 

For old time's sake, I had their top notch mozzarella sticks.

Crispy, crunchy, hot, with mouthwatering ooze of cheesy goodness in the middle. 

We walked off our vegan fast food deliciousness, browsing the goods of the neighborhood, stopping inside a bookstore with a large comic book selection. I had looked through those many splendid Marvel graphic novels, searching for Black Panther in this impressive needle-in-the-haystack. Lo and behold, my friend found an issue, well hidden (which kind of makes me feel a little guilty for taking this person's comic). The cashier didn't even know it existed. 

A new kitchen store opened up and these gorgeously wrapped chocolates caught my eye. Plus, they're on the Food Empowerment Project Approved List. 

Kensington Bakery apparently has the best baked goods around. Owned and operated by Quang Dieu, a chef from originally from Vietnam, this bakery is also offers communal support to those who seek it. So it's definitely worth a visit. 

I also watched Black Panther for the third time-- here I am with the found comic book (written by The Boondocks creator Reginald Hudlin) and a Cineplex magazine with Chadwick Boseman on the cover. 

You can't hit Toronto up for a visit without Hogtown Vegan. It's a definite must. We split barbecue tofu wings with carrots, celery, and honeyless dip and the chili cheese fries with scallions, guacamole, "cheese," and sunflower sour cream. 

An incredible end to a Friday night.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Brown Rice With Lentils, Mushrooms, and Spinach Stir Fry

Enough stir fry to feed a small hungry unit.
Mushrooms are a running trend-- only because I wanted to eat them before travels. They're no good after a certain period of time passes by. They were perfect in this amazing stir fry that leaves the body satiated thanks to fibrous brown lentils and brown rice, seasoned with garlic, and loaded with spinach.

Brown Rice With Lentils, Mushrooms, and Spinach Stir Fry Ingredients and Preparation

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cup mushrooms (Portobello, white button, shitake, any one you want)
2 cup brown rice (I used Tasty Bite's 90 Second Pouch)
1 15oz can brown lentils (drained and rinsed)
2 1/2 cup spinach
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a hot skillet combine garlic and mushrooms, cooking this for three to five minutes.
Add cooked brown rice and lentils, evenly stirring together to prevent sticking.
Turn off heat and fold in spinach. Once the spinach has wilted add onion powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and black pepper.
Serve hot and steaming.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Latest Events and the Rising Moon Vegan Butternut Squash Stuffed Ravioli Review

I tested out Rising Moon's Vegan Butternut Squash Ravioli with a side of asparagus and mushrooms. 
It's been a rather busy week.
I am back to working the museum on weekends. Yet I have managed to see Black Panther twice (a regular, albeit complimentary ticket on Friday night and then in IMAX 3D on a late Sunday night), attended both a Black Panther themed afterparty (which raised funds for the Black Lives Matter Philadelphia Chapter) and an Audre Lorde birthday party, and added in the darks on my litho stone-- all this whilst performing laundry duties and packing up for Toronto.

Black Panther posters that really had my heart soaring. I have always wanted to see Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira in a film together-- dream come true. Read my film review here.
At the Black Panther afterparty, during a round of difficult Quizzno, I used my offered ink pen for drawing and a the same time, engorged on this amazing vegan Wakandan cupcake. 
At Audre Lorde's birthday party held at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, Phila Prints' brought a silkscreen (not actual silk-- polyester) station. They printed "Praise the Lorde" in white ink on BYOT's (t-shirt, tank top, tote, whatever). 
Class number 5 out of the twelve week lithography class and still working hard on my Augusta Savage montage. 
As one can see, exhaustion and excess activities have kept me awake as of late. I have barely made the time to create a decent meal. Thankfully, I was happy to find Rising Moon's Organic Butternut Squash Ravioli at Mom's Organic Market on a recent shopping excursion.

I found Rising Moon for $4.99 in the frozen foods section. They have a wide variety of pant based varieties and the ingredients are pure and simple. 
The Butternut Squash filling is light and creamy, not too heavy with a hint of sweetness (maple syrup is an ingredient and that always works well with squashes). I coated them in a mirrored "butter sauce" comprised of almond milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, garlic, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. The side component is boiled and pan fried asparagus with chopped mushrooms and garlic as a side dish component.
This is a good ravioli if you're too tired to make your own. I am looking forward to trying the other flavors.

A simple, fulfilling dinner. 
Still good.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Single Awareness Day: Mushroom Stroganoff With Charred Brussels Sprouts

I made a pleasant Galentine's Day dinner last night sans the originally planned dreamy chocolate cake. Yes. Yes, I had planned to make a fabulous moist chocolate cake with sliced cinnamon bananas and mountains of heaping So Delicious Coco Whipped Cream to go alongside my Buffy and Cold Case marathons. In fact, my mouth still waters at the sumptuous concoction still swirling around in my Willy Wonka-n imagination, especially on this day where chocolate should rule the day. Alas the energy dwindled from a long day of library books and drawing on my litho stone for my CE printmaking class.

Rough layout sketch of Augusta Savage's life with No. 4 litho crayon on the heavy 14" x 17" stone.

Not quite finished. I'm filling in the whole measured rectangle and adding darks and razor bladed highlights. Augusta Savage will be part of a printmaking series on Black Herstory Month women.
After I returned home from hours spent in the print shop, I stood in the kitchen, reflecting on cooking memories.
Traditional stroganoff at my childhood home was a rarity. It was one of those Hamburger Helper box type situations where Mom just added the meat and extra sour cream. We didn't eat it often. I must say, however, it was a favorite pasta dish of mine next to the Fettuccine Alfredo and mac and cheese. There was something deliciously appealing about the combination of al deinte ribbon noodles coated in a light creamy sauce.

I liked the addition of Brussels Sprouts to give the fork a bit of flair to sink into. The preparation of mushroom sauce and reusing that same gas burner gets things started nice and hot, quickening pace for the sizzling flicker on the little green cabbages of joy.

Also, I didn't have vegan sour cream for my rotini styled in a stroganoff fashion. I don't think it is absolutely necessary, but for one who wants to mimic tradition as much as possible perhaps it would be beneficial to have that on hand. In the meantime, the dish turned out splendidly well with a lovely savory sauce and charred crispy edged Brussels Sprouts.
As for dessert, there is always tomorrow for chocolate cake.

Mushroom Stroganoff With Charred Brussels Sprouts Ingredients and Preparation

2 cup rotini (or noodles)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cup portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other nondairy alternative)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

olive oil
2 cup frozen petite Brussels Sprouts
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare rotini according to package directions.
In a skillet combine olive oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Let cook for 5-7 minutes.
Add nutritional yeast. turmeric, onion powder, almond milk, salt, and pepper to seared mushrooms. Stir and simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and blend with rotini pasta.

For Brussels Sprouts, bring them to a boil and drain.
Let skillet heat up with olive oil for a few seconds before adding the sprouts.
Add cumin, sea salt, and black pepper, turning them around every few minutes, watching for various sides to blacken.