UnReFiNeD

June 1, 2013

Welcome to UnReFiNeD!

Welcome to UnReFiNeD, a blog dedicated to wholesome food. More specifically, it’s a great place to learn what steps to take to make healthy, delicious diet choices without breaking the bank, as well as ways to “recycle” and share the joy of food.

After opening my eyes to the way I was feeding myself and the things that are being sold as food these days, it shocked me that I’d never even gave it a thought before. After changing my eating habits, not only did I lose weight, but my chronic migraines disappeared, I felt physically and mentally better, and I discovered a great love for cooking. Health is so important yet it’s barely paid attention to. My goal here is to help anyone who wants to change, but not just their diet; This is a lifestyle change. The recipes on this blog are all vegetarian, all whole-grain/flour, mostly vegan, some gluten-free and some raw. Comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated to keep this blog growing and going!

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March 17, 2014

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cake Ever!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Kate @ 4:33 pm

I came across The best vegan chocolate cake ever at a Christmas potluck I went to and I’d love to share it with you! Judging from the link I got the recipe from after inquiry, the person who posted it is a baking noob so I altered it to make a better cake and also turn it whole wheat. It’s a little denser than the original all-purpose flour of course, but it still works great. You can do 1/2 1/2 to compromise. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Best Vegan Chocolate Cake Ever (no picture since it never lasted long enough!)

Dry Ingredients: 1 1/4 cups flour (white or whole or mixed, your choice), 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt. Wet Ingredients: 1 cup warm water, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/3 melted cup coconut oil (best!) or vegetable oil, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar.

Directions: Sift the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together, then combine all ingredients and pour into a greased baking dish. Bake at 350F for half an hour, then let cool at least half an hour.

Chocolate glaze ingredients: 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tbsp margarine/butter, 2 tbsp coconut oil, 1-2 tbsp milk of choice, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract.

Directions: Put all ingredients except for the vanilla extract into a pot and heat, stirring regularly until it starts to simmer. At this point, stir constantly for no more than a minute, then stir in the vanilla extract and quickly pour the glaze onto the cake. Quickly sprinkle on chopped walnuts or whatnot and enjoy!

March 10, 2014

Fell off the bandwagon!

I feel bad for not eating well these days, for barely cooking compared to how I used to. I’ve been going through a lot lately which has really inhibited my healthy eating, but I can only hope that my regular goes at getting back to the good ol’ days will stick eventually. For now, here are a handful of photos from the past couple of months that I haven’t updated. Sorry about that!

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Dumpster diving goodies. Greek yogurt and croissants became the usual during the winter months.

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Montreal is blessed with some really lovely bakeries who, besides making amazing fresh breads, go out of their way to help out dumpster divers, and they’re just so nice! Once they blessed us with over half a dozen giant pies – both savory and sweet. What a treat!

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I learned how to make Icelandic lauðabrauð this winter with Siggi and his Icelandic friends. They are non-sweet crispy flat cakes (??) that are decorated with a special cutter (or a knife, like we had to do with) and deep fried. Who knew decorating dough was so much fun!

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I just can’t help myself when it comes to sweets! I made these for a game night I hosted and they were a hit. Rolling chocolate-coated peanut butter puffs in nuts brings everything up a notch.

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I also made vanilla chai cupcakes! While the recipe I followed was made with all things bad, the idea is marvelous and so I hope to share with you a healthier cupcake and icing recipe full of delicious spices soon.

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Thanks to Siggi I also learned how to make bollur. Well actually Siggi didn’t have any useful information about bollur except for that it’s the star for a special yearly event that happens in Iceland, where kids wake up yelling “bollur!” and spanking their parents’ asses until they get up to get lots of “buns” for all their effort. From what I can tell from the poorly-Google-translated recipes, they are basically an Icelandic style of cream puffs. They have jam in the bottom and are loaded with whipped cream. There should be WAY more whipped cream in the above pictured. They say, if you’re eating it and you’re not making a mess, you’re doing it wrong.

Making choux pastries is SO much fun. Please do yourself a favor and make some. And if you can’t eat it because it’s made with white flour and eggs and butter, make them for friends and family; They are beautiful and, again, SO much fun to make!

November 27, 2013

From Beautiful Chocolate Cakes to Zombified Muffins

Here are a few random new additions to the recipe list; hope you enjoy!

BERRY MILKSHAKE

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 1 cup frozen berry mix (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries), 1/2 frozen banana, ~1 tbsp berry jam

Directions: Blend in blender and enjoy!

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WHOLE WHEAT BISCUITS   Makes 1-2 dozen

Fabulous little biscuits to be enjoyed lathered in butter/ margarine or simply dipped in soup. I don’t want to eat soups without these fantastic little biscuits anymore, especially now that winter’s coming! These are super easy and quick to make.

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Ingredients: 2 cups whole wheat flour, 4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 cup room-temperature butter/ margarine, 3/4 cup whole milk.

Directions: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and fork the butter/ margarine into the mixture until it is all in little chunks. Add the milk and carefully mix and knead the dough – Make sure not to overmix it! Roll out on a floured surface to about 3/4inch thickness and cut using the rim of a small drinking glass or of a small jar – don’t twist it. Place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450F for 8-10 minutes, until they start turning golden. Careful not to burn them.

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ZOMBIFIED MUFFINS   Most. awesome. idea. ever.

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This was done on a whim and they turned out so well! I look forward to making these again and perfecting them. Inspiration is due to the overload of zombies in my life these days. I made tasty whole wheat muffins and made them funky by adding frozen wild blueberries, poppy seeds and just enough blue food dye for a creepy factor, and made pink icing to imitate a brain on the muffin top, drizzling it with red liquid for extra creepiness. I had to rush to pipe the icing so I didn’t do that great a job, but next time they will be perfect! And thanks to my roommate’s super  awesome camera, I’ll be able to take a fantastic picture of these funky muffins. Look forward to it.

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Raspberry Truffle Cupcakes gone huge!

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I turned my famous cupcakes into a cake and topped it with chocolate icing that I made using vegan margarine and milk, cocoa powder and powdered sugar. That’s what I had on hand, otherwise I would have liked to make a healthy icing using avocados and maple syrup or honey. Coffee and vanilla accentuate chocolate flavor so well, as does tiny red sprinkles on a chocolate cake!

Some of you might not be familiar with piping kits – they’re basically a triangular bag with a hole at the bottom that fits various-sized tips for various icing effects. They can be very pricey but you can get them at dollar stores sometimes and they are So much fun! Piping icing onto muffins and cakes can turn a bland dessert into something super fancy without too much effort.

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In all honesty, I haven’t been cooking much these days. I’ve been busy feeding my new passion for making zines, and getting ready for the month of craft fairs. I am hoping to make a huge, intricate Christmas cake though. No idea what it’s going to look like but I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. I use the word “awesome” way too much, don’t I?

October 6, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Kitchen

So I had my remaining three wisdom teeth taken out a couple of weeks ago and it’s been a pain, to say the least. I have had my fill of soft foods and, though I’m still having difficulty with my jaw, I’m excited to get back into the kitchen and bake texture-full foods. Thing is, I started my *second* zine recently but it’s all about chocolate and, well, chocolate isn’t that crunchy or healthy… I’m having fun with it though and I have a bunch of recipes to share with you as I try out some new stuff. Before that though, I just wanted to mention my first zine (which is text and image complete, just needs to be scanned and printed); It’s all about dumpster diving and eating cheap but well. I am excited about printing it out! You’ll see it on here soon.

Alright. On to the chocolate!

I have tried making healthy chocolate souffles several times and it just ain’t workin’! So I give up… At least I have the 5-minute chocolate microwave cake which is very similar to souffles and easier to make. That and all of these fantastic new recipes I got!

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I got inspired by someone’s non-healthy homemade Twix bars online and decided to have my own go at it; a healthy, vegan, no-bake version full of tastiness. The 6 bars were fun to make and the end result surprisingly good! They don’t taste anything like Twix bars but that wasn’t ever my plan to begin with. Without further ado, here’s the recipe for these Almond Twixy Bars:

Crispy Bar Ingredients: 3/4 cup rice krispies, 2 ½ tbsp almond butter, 2 tbsp almond flour, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp maple syrup, 2 drops of vanilla extract

Caramel Ingredients: 1/2 cup dates, not packed, 1 tbsp almond butter, ½ tbsp cocoa powder, 1 pinch salt

Chocolate Coating Ingredients: 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/4 tsp coconut oil

The directions may seem long but it’s really not that complicated.

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Directions: For the crispy bar, pour rice krispies into a food processor and pulse until the crisps get broken up (but not turned to dust). Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until all ingredients are well mixed in. The mixture will be a bit crumbly but it’ll hold itself well enough for you to mold it into 6 long mounds (think of the Twix bar).

For the caramel, stick all the ingredients in the food processor and process until well mixed, then split the date dough into 6 balls and roll out into 6 strands. Push 1 on to each crispy bar, then place the cookies in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler until smooth. Spread a thin sheet of chocolate on parchment paper on a cookie sheet about 1 foot in length and a little wider than the length of your bars. Let it chill in the freezer for a couple of minutes, then carefully place the cookie/date mixture bars on to the chocolate sheet with about half a centimeter spacing between each. Spread the rest of your chocolate on each bar, being careful not to put it on too thick and to not pick up any cookie crumbles. Place the cookie sheet back in the freezer for half an hour or so, then chop the bars apart carefully, rounding off the edges for a neater look. Can be kept in the freezer or fridge. Stays crispy for a couple of days.

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And then there was chocolate frosting. Holy thick chocolate frosting. I could probably kill someone with this stuff it’s so thick. You gotta be a coconut fan to enjoy it, but even me who’s not crazy for coconut went crazy for this stuff. I crave it all the time. It’s fatty and delicious and… Just make it now!

Chcolate Coconut Mousse / Frosting

Ingredients: 1 14oz can full-fat coconut milk, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 3 tbsp maple syrup, ½ tsp vanilla extract

Directions: Put the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. Open it with care, without shaking the can. Scoop out the thick coconut milk (You don’t want the coconut water or the milk that’s very liquid. I end up with about ¼ cup of water and liquid coconut milk that I don’t end up using. If it’s not thick it might be a dud can and it won’t work) and put into a mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir until well mixed (add a bit more maple syrup if you like it sweeter, but the more liquid gets added, the less thick it will be). Eat as is or use as frosting on cakes and muffins; It’s great for piping on desserts. Putting it back in the fridge for a while will thicken it even more.

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I’d been meaning to create chocolate coconut balls and decided to hit the challenge when I came across the existence of coconut cream. It’s basically like coconut butter but a lot cheaper and often found in the cold section of Asian and African grocery stores. Unlike coconut oil, it has a strong coconut flavor and a nice creamy texture when melted and I find it makes a great ingredient in coconut balls. Try it! I bought a box of it for just 1$. This recipe here I call Muddy Snowballs and it makes 12 balls – They are darker than pictured in the photo above. They are very dark and very rich. Here’s the recipe, doubled from what I originally made:

Ingredients: ¼ cup cocoa powder, ¼ cup melted coconut cream, 1/3 cup raisins, 1/3 cup dates, 2 tbsp almond flour

Garnish: 3 tbsp shredded coconut

Directions: Mix all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor. Separate the dough into 12 pieces and shape into balls. Roll in shredded coconut. Do not store these in the fridge; they harden well on their own.

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I suddenly got inspired out of the blue to make these and they are AMAZING! Slightly salty, thin, crispy bars than melt in your mouth like fudge. Yum! Still, I’m thinking about doubling the recipe and getting a concrete quantity of salt written up, and maybe a thicker fudge bar at the bottom to see what that would do…

~Salty Fudge Crisp Squares~  (vegan, gluten-free)

Fudge Ingredients: 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips, ½ tbsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 big pinch of salt

Chocolate Ingredients: 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips, 1 tsp coconut oil, ¼ cup rice krispies

Directions: Melt the chocolate chips with the coconut oil in a double boiler, then stir in the peanut butter and maple syrup. Add the cocoa powder and salt until well combined (feel free to use your hands at this point) and form into a thin bar (about half a cm) by either pressing down into shape or using a rolling pin with the fudge bar between pieces of parchment paper or a plastic bag.

Melt the 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips with the 1 tsp coconut oil until melted and, using a spatula, spread a thin layer of chocolate on the fudge bar. Sprinkle the rice krispies on top and drizzle the remaining melted chocolate ontop. Place the bar into the fridge and, once chilled, chop into desired pieces. Keep chilled.

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It was inevitable that anyone who came into the kitchen while I was in my chocolate frenzy would get inflicted by my chocolate-coated hands. Thing is, Siggi looks Mighty dandy here with his chocolate ‘stache! I’m kinda diggin’ it.

September 18, 2013

I forgot to post this as I left Iceland, but here it is!

Here’s one last small post on some of my Icelandic adventures before I came back home.

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Free pizza at Siggi’s best friend’s pizza joint! We had the choice to put anything on our pizzas, and by anything, I mean ANYTHING. Bjarki was so tired of eating pizza at his work everyday that he started to eat it with sliced bananas; Anything to change it up.

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On one of our dumpster diving excursions we found some chocolate coconut cakes and they were SO GOOOOD! I set aside my eating-healthy-guidelines to take part in some of the fun.

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At some point Siggi and I went hitchhiking and then hiking in Snæfellsnes with a local named Kalli and a girl from Spain named Anna. It was an extremely difficult hike for us, but Kalli and Anna went along as if on a walk in a park.

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It was totally worth all the pain to enjoy the fresh mountain air and to get to enjoy this sunrise at 2:40 in the morning, after seeing the sun set at 12:45am. Go to my travel blog Bohemian Vagabonds to read up on this mighty adventure and gaze away at the gorgeous pictures that do the place no justice.

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I mostly ate homemade granola during the hiking trip, but also supplemented myself with dried fish and butter, a common snack in Iceland that is incredibly high in protein and not *That* fishy. I made loads of flatbread sandwhiches for Siggi, which are also a very common snack; made with half-moon flatbread, slices of meat and cheese, and lots of butter.

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I have a great love for garlicy alfredo sauce and would love to come up with a healthier version of the common recipe used for pasta. I wonder if coconut milk could be used and have the flavor masked with cheese, garlic and herbs? Maybe I should try out that experiment one day! Maybe agar agar could take the place of flour and/or cream too… Hmm, so many possibilities!

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I made lots of desserts for Siggi’s family, including these AMAZING cinnamon swirls! They are basically cinnamon buns, but prettier. I made them with white flour, white and brown sugar, butter, yeast and a buttermilk substitute called súrmjólk, and added poppyseeds to add some color (also because I have a giant bag of poppyseeds that I’ve slowly been using up by sticking some into almost everything I make – they are wonderful in salad dressings!). Definitely not healthy and not easy or quick to make, but they are a fantastic and fun pastry to make!

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Twisting the bun into shape so that the swirls are evenly distributed is one of the hardest thing to do – that and making sure your dough doesn’t end up too sticky – but other that that it’s not bad. I made the recipe about 4 times, trying to prefect it every time, yet they never rose as best as they did the first time I made them. Still, gorgeous, gorgeous desserts that never lasted long in the house.

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The glaze makes them particularly beautiful. Once I get my hands on my recipe I’ll post it here for you to make. Until then, just drool over these pictures =)

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I made a flourless chocolate cake (made with eggs) and people went bonkers over it, but the texture Completely changed the next day! It became a dense brownie. Anyone know of a good healthy flourless chocolate cake recipe?

I know I’ve barely been writing on my blogs these days, but I’ve been greatly busy with all kinds of projects! I barely cooked during the first couple of weeks that I was back. And now that Siggi’s back in Montreal (A month of my arrival) in hopes to study at Univertisy here, I’ve been even more preoccupied. I’m working on restarting my jewlery business as well as finally starting my food zines. I already have one almost complete! More on that soon =)

June 11, 2013

The Raisin at the End of the Hot-dog

It’s already been a month and a half since I left Montreal! Here’s an all-over-the-place post of random bits of info that cross my mind as I’m writing this, about my food-related experiences in Reykjavik, Iceland. For non-food Iceland related info, I suggest you hop to my travel blog Bohemian Vagabonds.

Food in Iceland so far has been a nice little adventure. Icelanders seem to be best known for their singed sheep heads, rotten shark meat and skyr, a deliciously thick Greek yogurt type of cheese that Icelanders refuse to call yogurt despite it’s grand similarities. Let me tell ya, Icelanders Loooove their dairy! Especially Siggi. He can drink 5 cups of milk during a meal without a problem and put 2 tbsp of butter on a piece of bread like it’s nothing. The fridge where I’m staying mostly consists of dairy products and then meat. As for greens, spinach is the most common. Flat demi-moon shaped bread and rye bread are common too. And they really like orange carbonated soft drinks.

Peanut butter is not something they eat here. Hot dogs (with the forever debate on whether they should be called pylsa or pulsa) are a common food to grab while out or after coming out of their many swimming pools, but they aren’t like our hotdogs. They have the weirdest “mustard” they add to them, along with awesome fried onions. Lamb is the nation’s favorite meat and with good reason – It’s always delicious and wonderfully cooked no matter what way it is prepared. Fish is another common food, considering they’re an island stuck in the middle of the Atlantic ocean… They enjoy dried fish with big dollups of butter on it.

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Icecream! How could I forget the icecream. Whether it’s a beautiful (by Icelandic standards) day or a shitty cold one where rain comes at your face from below, Icelanders will go out for icecream. There are icecream shops everywhere, but by no means is icecream here cheap. It’s actually quite expensive. But then again, everything is. My personal favorite is soft icecream dipped in chocolate sauce and Then dipped in whatever sugary condiment possible – oreo crumbs, chocolate, smarties, gummy bears, etc etc. I’ve yet to master the art of eating it.

Siggi made pönnukökur for me the other day, which is basically crepes that are sprinkled with sugar and then rolled up. There is a special kind of frying pan that is used for making these and pretty much every household owns one. Siggi’s mom cooks delicious traditional meals which is a nice insight for me since I don’t really go eat at restaurants here. There are a lot of traditions that are accompanied by certain kinds of food and drinks that I look forward to elaborating on in future posts.

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The prices are WOAH expensive. I’m really lucky to be staying somewhere where the food is shared with me. It’s also a good thing I can get some freebies where Siggi works, a sandwhich/smoothie/yogurt restaurant called Lemon, because a large juice there (which is a small-medium for us in America) is almost 1000 kronars, which equals to over 8$. His work has got nice ambience though, and Siggi gets to juggle with fruits and knives when he feels like it =). A simple hotdog, depending on where you get it, can cost you 5$. Ground beef costs double the price. A 750ml bottle of Jack Daniels will cost ya 65$ instead of 40$ in Canada or 30-35$ in the States. You get the picture.

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OH! How could I forget to mention the other way I’m surviving… The dumspters are quite nice here. My first run was the best, with, you guessed it, loads and loads of dairy products, and protein drinks, meat products, party mix, organic granola cereal, icecream mars bars, cakes, bread, fruits and vegetables… lots. Too much to carry among four people on bikes with bags. Dumpster diving is easily done here (and with nice cold weather to keep the food cool) but it’s not done by many. All of Siggi’s friends make grimaces when they’re first explained the pleasures of dumpster diving, but some of them do come along to experience it.

So, while living under this roof that is occupied by Siggi and his mom, his sister who lives in the garage with her boyfriend, and sometimes his older cousin, I’ve been elected to cook supper once in a while, which proves to be difficult. Not only are ingredients expensive and limited, but this particular house doesn’t have any real frying pans, any muffin mold pans and no blender. Yo can imagine how creative I gotta be when I realize these things in the middle of food-making. All my desserts are in the shape of a round cake. Here’s a couple of pictures of stuff I’ve made here so far.

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Orange almond cake with lots of orange zest =)

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Vegetarian stuffed bell peppers with quinoa (brought from home ’cause I like to think ahead!)

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Whole wheat nut ‘n’ chocolate banana cake

Allavega! (anyway), I will cut this post here and write up another when I have more interesting news to share with you. By the way, the  title is a ridiculous saying in Iceland which means “the best part for last”. Enjoy your food!

April 27, 2013

When I Was at my Best

I leave for Iceland in less than two days – How exciting! I had a blast during the past 1 1/2 months of being back home and biking through the city and cooking ridiculous amounts of food for loads of people. And seeing stuff start to sprout! Spring is finally in full bloom.

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And speaking of sprouts and whatnot – Did you know you can regrow your greens? Check it out! Various lettuces and celery and a whole bunch more. For the lettuces and celery, we just used what we needed, chopped off and kept the bottom part and stuck it in a bit of water by a window for a few days, watching it grow each day. Eventually you’ll want to plant it in soil so it can do better and actually have nutrients when you eat it. Radical Montreal actually has an AWESOME post about various urban greenery, and the author also posted about regrowing your produce. Check it out! Very neat and inspiring.

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I like learning cooking techniques and flavor mixes from my roommate, and I have to say I am quite impressed with Zbynek’s cooking. He can take any abandoned, rotting, forgotten, random produce he finds in the fridge, mix it more rotting produce in a stir fry and mix in whatever sauces he can find, whether it be BBQ sauce, soy sauce, worchestire sauce, mayonnaise, chutneys, various spices – whatever! – and mix that all up together with a huge dollup of peanut butter and some funky vegan “meat”, and it’s frikking amazing. Delicious food made with stuff that would have otherwise be thrown out because no one else wanted to deal with it. I decided to have a go at Zbynek-style food and cooked myself a stir fry with whatever vegetables I could find in the fridge (that weren’t in THAT horrible of shape), vegan “chicken”, BBQ sauce, spices and a whole lot of peanut butter and added a ladle-full of that schtuff on some rice and, indeed, it was delicious! And filling.

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I never thought I’d put this picture online but I thought it’d make a good addition to my blog right now. Like my shorts tan? Haha. This is infact me, about 3.5 years ago while on a trip in Mexico. It saddens me to see I’ve gained back almost all the weight that I started with right before I changed my eating habits (mostly due to living through lots of stress and being an emotional eater with personal issues), but I’m hopeful because I know I can get back to being this slim. I cannot believe that some of my relatives recently informed me that they thought I was Too thin when I came back from that trip and I just scoffed in disbelief. Me, thin? Or even better, TOO thin? Never. During this trip I felt like I needed to continue losing more weight, but I admit I was indeed at my best and I desperately want to get back to that.

I am going to take this jump to Iceland as a “starting fresh” determination to get back into shape, but this time to eat a broader variety of food and to exercise a lot more. Thankfully Siggi will be there with me so we can kick each other in the @$$ to keep in gear. I look forward to hiking through the land of fire and ice, and of course as well as the culinary adventure! Rotting shark, singed sheep heads and cow eyeballs, Mmm!

April 20, 2013

Sorted Food at the Table

Upon my return to Quebec I dove back into the world of learning to cook. I got a chance to watch a lot of Zeste, which is a neat Quebec channel focused solely on food, and got all foodie excited all over again. Once back home and while searching for a particular cooking technique video, I stumbled upon an awesome YouTube channel called Sorted, which follows a few European friends and their interest in cooking. There’s one major cook in the gang who takes one of his friends as an assistant afor each meal, and after cooking they discuss it ’round the table. These guys really are hilarious and I enjoy their different take at videotaping the cooking and eating process of food. I recommend checking out their under-5-minute videos HERE and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Sure, people are spending way too much time on their gadgets and screens these days, but it’s hard to say no to such an accessible resource of EVERYTHING at our fingertips, wherever we are. I think it’s neat to come across all these random people pursuing their dreams (food-related or not!) and sharing it with the world to inspire. While I don’t spend all my time on YouTube and *other* websites people have become horribly addicted to, I like to check in for inspiration and ideas.

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Like, getting the idea to videotape our own food-madness at the Laurier house – dumpster style! It’d be so much fun to do, but I doubt it’ll happen. Then again, we might one day decide to take the challenge to have something fun like that on tape. I don’t have table manners or people skills and I eat out of the trash so I don’t don’t know how that would go but Hey, who cares anyway =P

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Some of you may have noticed recipes for microwave cakes in a mug popping up here and there, and I gotta say, they’re pretty awesome! I’ve never been one to use a microwave, but this is one of the few reasons I use one. It’s easy to make quick, simple, 1-serving desserts, vegan or not. I first started experimenting with microwave cakes late last year and made several different attempts, mostly chocolate, all with mixed results. Upon my return I’ve finally perfected a chocolate version. Okay, *almost* perfected… The texture is unbelievably great (with the bottom being partially under-cooked to create a nice fudge-bottomed dessert), the flavor rich and chocolatey with a nice hint of coffee, but the saltiness of the baking soda likes to make surprise appearances here and there, especially at the bottom. I just tweaked the recipe so it should be fine.

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Without further ado, here’s my recipe for a Vegan Chocolate Microwave Cake in a mug!

Ingredients: 3 tbsp sifted whole wheat flour (or 2 tbsp ap flour, 1 tbsp ww flour for better texture), 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp mini dark chocolate chips, 1/4 tsp instant coffee granules, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 pinch of salt, 3 tbsp plain almond milk, 2 tsp vegetable oil, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.

Directions: Thoroughly mix all ingredients together and pour into a greased mug. Microwave for 1 minute, then let chill for a few minutes.  Pour chocolate sauce (highly recommended) ontop for an extra-moist, extra-chocolatey dessert.

Chocolate sauce: Just mix some dark chocolate chips (about 2 tbsp) with a bit of non-dairy milk (about 1 tbsp) and microwave until melted. Stir until well combined and pour on cake. Enjoy!

For those who care to have an idea of how caloric this dessert is, it comes out to just over 400 calories. You can use all-purpose flour if you don’t have any whole wheat flour (2 tbsp ap flour and 1 tbsp ww flour is a very nice mix). You can also use oat flour but that will give different results. I’m hoping to make a raspberry orange lemon mug cake next; That should be delicious!

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And on one random note, I love bundt pans and tube pans for baking cakes – Not only do they make a very pretty and unusual cake, they make it easier to properly bake a cake right through – You know, for those funky recipes that are pretty tasty but just don’t seem to want to set.

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Here’s a Moroccan orange cake I made at my first communal dumpster super. While it’s simple – and made with a dented tube pan! – it still makes for a pretty cake =).

I’ve got a vegan carrot cake to share with you all as it’s been very popular at our events lately. I just want to tweak it a bit before posting the recipe. I’m still working on a vegan molasses cookie recipe but Damn those are hard! My last batch was actually really delicious, but the texture was that of a muffin and not a molasses cookie. One day I’ll figure it out!

Oh and I realized that I hadn’t updated the “about me” page in quite a long time so I cleaned it up =)

April 14, 2013

Back Home for April

It felt sooooo good to be back in Montreal!  You have no idea. It didn’t take long for me to settle back into the kitchen. I was so excited to be back to my lovely home with fantastic roommates to cook for, overflowing dumpsters to raid, new recipes to experiment with, and visitors to keep fed during our various events.

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Shortly after my arrival we hosted a house show for some very talented musicians. I made a two-layered cake but drama ensued as I tried to create an icing with funky ingredients that didn’t want to set. It was like a volcano of Pepto Bismol. (Note to self – Don’t mix strange ingredients together to create icing on the fly,and don’t make two individual cakes but rather one big one cut in half for an even side). I was embarrassed and slightly freaking out as I tried to scoop off the excess pink slur as it tried to leak off the plate. Thankfully the addition of cherries and almond slivers saved its image, and while the cake was very, VERY sweet, people enjoyed it. Whew. What a comeback.

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While this may look like a failed attempt at a dessert, this upsidedown pear crisp was inspired by a recipe I saw on the French food channel Zeste (which I spent half a day watching upon return to Quebec, a pit-stop at my mom’s in Laval). Bosc pears  embedded with a syrup of butter, brown sugar and maple syrup with cloves and maple alcohol, with a butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, oat crisp bottom. It was supposed to be made with a pie-crust-but-not-really-type-bottom but I had none of that so I made a crisp bottom instead. Absolutely devine, caramelized edges included and everything. My second attempt with small sliced apples was much prettier than this odd-shaped pear star, and just as good.

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I just love my home =). Everyone here loves to cook and is great at it, not to mention fun to work with, so we make a heck of a team. Here’s one of my roommates Michael with his girlfriend and my room subletter enoying homemade pakoras (fried veggie explosions of crispy flavor) with steak sauce and plum sauce, tabouleh, prosciutto cream cheese rolls and home-brewed beer. Epic super.

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The best dumpster run I’ve had so far is the first one I had when I got back home, with one of my roommates John and his friend Franky at a neighboring grocery store. This looks like a lot of food but there’s actually more behind Franky on a shelf, as well as more on the floor. Seriously, this was insane. We had to keep each other from yelling out our excitement at the dumpster. Expensive cereal, fruit juice, soy milk, tuna cans, yogurt, protein bars, sliced meat and sausages, various fruits and veggies, quality chocolates, whole grain breads, ramen packages, salad dressings, fancy condiments, sauces, and lots lots more including deodorant and food colorant. It goes without needing to say that we had a feast that evening.

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Here’s another haul! Lots of Greek yogurt, fruits and veggies and pita bread. My plans to eat moderately were thrown out the window when I got back home, overflowing with dumpstered goods. How could I say no to all these delicious dumpstered goods?? And yes, I am now back to being an omnivore! A freegan, really. I eat what I scavenge. I don’t cook with meat, but I’ll eat it on occasion if someone offers me some or we dumpster some.

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One of the things that are rare but a wonderful find in dumpsters is cheese. It just so happens that my roommates hit the cheese motherload a week earlier, so we had a plethora of cheese squeezed in all crannies of the fridge and freezer. With some lovely pizza breads I dumpstered, I got in the habit of making daily pizzas for a while, including this masterpiece. A-mazing pizza.

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I also had my first try at making a chutney with a bunch of mangos we got. Made with -duh- mangoes, onions, raisins, sugar, vinegar, salt and a variety of spices, simmered for an hour with regular stirring. The result was a surprising success, gaining “best-chutney-ever” feedback which highly pleased me. I’m looking forward to perfecting this recipe and sharing it here with you all.

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It wasn’t long before I asked for permission to host weekly communal suppers. No need for them to be potlucks as we had so much food, I got in the habit of spending a whole day in the kitchen cooking up various goods with dumpstered ingredients, gaining some aid from others to chop, clean, or create their own dish (such as John’s awesome 50′s pineapple moraschino cheery ham haha), and sharing our feast with friends and strangers.

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I’ve hosted three suppers so far, creating dishes to feed a dozen to two dozen people, such as cream of potato soup, cream of carrot soup, various salads, vegan whole wheat chocolate cupcakes, carrot cake, vegetable gratin, vegan rice pudding, orange cake, smoothies, baked potatoes, french onion soup with home-brewed beer, fruit yogurt salad and, and, a lot more. I love it. It makes me happy to put my patched-up apron on and cook all day, see people gather together for no better reason than to eat homemade recycled food and chat in a welcoming atmosphere, creating friendships and being food-inspired and just having a good time. I appreciate whatever thanks people throw my way but I find myself very humble about it. I just want to share, to get people together, to create opportunities. I’m surprised to realize that I haven’t been worrying over if my food is good enough or not – I know I have lots of experience in the kitchen and, I mean, it’s free food! =P

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I jumped on the chance to work with Food Not Bombs again, this time with a crew at the co-op sur Genreux. We set up our tables on Mont-Royal street and got a surprising amount of interest, even more surprising – a great amount of people picking up panflets but not taking any food. They were genuinely interested in our cause. Of course the cops eventually came and gave us a visit, after getting a call from someone who thought we were starting a great manifestation and about to create a road block. What an idiot! What a ridiculous… Ugh! Couldn’t they take a moment to actually find out what it was they were complaining about first? Geez. I could atleast kinda understand the angry manager of the coffee shop infront of us who thought we were selling food and stealing his customers; More assumptions made without a moment’s thought or investigation. The cops were understanding to say the least, and let us continue our cause. It was a lovely warm grey day despite the slush and some rain drops. People enjoyed the food, learned something new. Volunteers laughed and shouted out their cause; Others stuffed their face with delicious food as they hung around on the wide sidewalk.

Noooo! I don’t want to say goodbye to this in 2 1/2 weeks time – I just got back! Yet I’m heading to Iceland at the end of the month to go to Iceland for 3 months. While that’s exciting, I’m sad to be temporarily leaving this wonderful community behind. I’ll try to bring some of it along with me to Iceland. I really do plan on settling down more when I get back… I swear!

March 9, 2013

5 Months Later

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Kate @ 10:48 pm

I haven’t made a post the entire time I’ve been South in the States, but I haven’t forgotten this blog! My living and eating habits had gotten poor so I’ve completely taken it around since the end of February, cleaning up my diet and getting active again. I learned how to make hallaca during my stay in Florida, amoung other things, which I’ll share with you at some point.

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So what HAVE I been up to? I hitchhiked South with Siggi. Once he went back home to Iceland, I volunteered at an awesome hostel in Florida City for two months. I’m currently house/dog-sitting in Sanford Florida and I’ll be back in Quebec on the 19th! Then I gotta start preparing for my three-month trip to Iceland!

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Before I head off again, let me at least share this tasty breakfast with you: Fluffy quinoa with coconut oil, soaked raisins, chopped pecans, and a bit of salt and cinnamon. Delicious! Give it a try.

October 28, 2012

Canned Goods!

My roommate Michael and his best bud Shane put together a canning workshop last week and it was frikkin great. I’ve been meaning to learn how to can goods, especially after trying some of Michael’s to-die-for pickled vegetables (such as beets!) so this was a great opportunity for me to learn, have fun, and meet some cool people. At the People’s Potato at the Concordia university! I hadn’t been there since last year!

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After some funny introductions we started peeling and chopping apples – We were going to make apple butter! By boiling the peel and core of apples you get pectin, which is often used in jams as a thickener -  Very cool if you ask me.

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And after the apples we started chopping carrots. Lots and lots of carrots. I enjoyed quickly cutting matchstick carrots and piling them into a mountain more than I should have. During so I also learned about a cool organization called For Peace and Freedom, who invited us to join their caravan South. Very interesting! We’ll have to see.

So with all of these carrots, daikon and ginger (which I learned can be peeled with the back of a blade!!) we were to make Vietnamese pickles!

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We learned about sterilizing jars and their lids in boiling water for 5-10 minutes and making sure not to get any food touching the lip, hence why using a funnel is a great idea.

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Here’s Shane cookin’ up an apple storm. He’s in a cage ’cause he’s crazy, duh.

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And here’s me with Michael and my canned goods! I’m so excited about these! I can open up the jar of Vietnamese pickles in a week’s time for semi-pickled vegetables if I’m impatient. (Update: We were impatient and opened one of each can almost a week afterwards and it was delicious!! The daikon had a wonderful gingery taste to them, and the apple butter was thicker than thick and went great with cheese in my crepes). These guys can stay canned for a couple of months. The apple butter will last ’til next Spring. I will share the recipes with you once I get them so stay tuned!

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