Foodista – Best of Food Blogs Cookbook


When I got home today, I found a lovely surprise in my mailbox!

It’s the Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook, and I’m on pages 32 & 33!
Just from my quick flip through, the book looks like a best seller. There are pages of scrumptious photos, winning recipes and personalized stories of bloggers from around the world.

I found it amazing watching this come to be. I had first heard of the idea during a food blogging conference over a year ago. I was later approached by Sheri Wetherell, the founder of Foodista, regarding their call for submissions and took her up on the offer!
Having seen the end result, I’m very glad that I did as they did a quality job bringing together great blogger’s recipes and their stories.

Please go out and have a look yourself. In fact, the lovely Foodista people are hosting a contest for those who buy the book on Noevember 3rd!

… And for those of my readers who haven’t seen Vegan Visitor’s new look and location, reset your RSS readers to veganvisitor.com!

New Season, New Post.


Hello. Hello?

Is anyone still here? I didn’t abandon you, I swear!
& I wouldn’t blame you if you’d abandoned me.

Between illnesses, traveling, working and life, Visitors have been neglected.

We’ve explored Amsterdam, tiptoed through tulips and back again.
I’ve been getting back into a groove though. The sun is shining, warming our skin and seeds are sprouting. This year’s pending bounty is creating an itch to eat fresh from the Earth and the sap has been running again:

Just before March Break, we were prompted by our bathroom demo and perfect weather to flee our house and go to the cottage. My Grandparents are still up there enjoying the Great White outdoors and thankfully they are more than willing to have us freeload for a few warm meals, which I am more than happy to accommodate for!

My Grandfather, who taught my kids the in’s and outs of winter tree identification and the love of maple syrup, encouraged us to get at it again, tapping the trees for their yearly elixir.

Being up their is just what we all needed. Relaxed, we’ve returned to a dusty house and ready for renewal.

Cooking is what makes me happy, and I’m so ready to start sharing again.

Whole Garden Gnocchi


Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

Raw For Dessert


For the longest time, I think I’ve misunderstood raw eating. The desire for it or the satisfaction from it was a bit of a mystery as most of my comfort foods (mashed potatoes and gravy, minestrone soup or ooey gooey, fresh out of the oven oatmeal chocolate chip cookies) are all well cooked items. Now, I could understand the desire to be vegetarian, but it wasn’t until tasting a brownie, of all things, did I get the raw idea.

It’s fresh. It’s alive an you can taste the foods! It just feels healthy.
…And this was all from a brownie! The hard day satisfaction wrapped in chocolaty goodness.

How wonderful (and intrigued I was) to be invited to flip through Jennifer Cornbleet’s newest creation: Raw For Dessert.
Her recipes are well thought out and all use fresh ingredients, which I love…. And a food processor, which I LOVE, LOVE!

I had to try her 10 minute, one bowl brownies. The recipe was clear, simple and of course, fast.

Everything into the food processor as directed and I still think I had a minute to spare.

With the cocoa and walnuts the flavour was extremely chocolaty but a touch bitter. I found the that the finished brownies stayed together, but were still crumbly when I tried to cut or most importantly, eat them. I’m not sure I ended up adding enough dates to sweeten and stick everything together. Perhaps if the recipe went by weight for the dates, rather than in numbers, I may have been more precise. Either way,  I was yearning for a perfectly placed dried cherry in each bite as that’s what seemed to help balance and sweeten my untrained for raw palate. Not for the kids, but   a m a z i n g   with an afternoon cup of coffee and practically guilt free!!!

Always wooed by photos, I wish there were more. Either way this is a book I’m holding on to. I’m itching to try at least another half dozen recipes! That being said, Jennifer has let me know that I can keep my copy and still share!

Leave a comment, tell me about your raw food adventures. If you’ve tried it, if you want to… Let me know your comfort food.
I’ll be randomly drawing to choose someone to have a copy of Raw For Dessert for your very own.
Tell your friends, let them enter and I’ll enter you twice!

I’ll give you a week.

Until then, here’s the recipe to indulge without indulging:


REALLY! ONE BOWL BROWNIES

Recipe courtesy of Raw For Dessert
By Jennifer Cornbleet

3 Cups Raw Walnuts, unsoaked
1/8 teaspoon Salt
16 Pitted Medjool Dates
2/3 Cup Cocoa powder, or raw cacao powder
1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped
1/4 Cup Raw Cacao Nibs, optional ( I didn’t include these)
2 teaspoons Filtered Water

Place the walnuts in a food processor fitted with the S blade and process until coarsely chopped.
Remove 1/2 Cup of the walnuts and set aside in a small mixing bowl.
Add the salt to the food processor and process until the walnuts are finely ground.
Add the dates and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
Add the cocoa powder and process to incorporate. Add the chopped walnuts, dried cherries, optional cacao nibs, and water and process briefly, just until mixed.
Pour the mixture evenly into an 8-inch glass baking dish and press down with your hand to compact. Cut into squares.
Covered with plastic wrap, Really! One Bowl Brownies will keep for 5 days stored n the refrigerator or for 2 weeks stored in the freezer.

Yield: 16 small brownies (8 servings)

Mihl over at Seitan Is My Motor also reviewed this book. Check out her awesome blog and what she had to say…

Thanks for commenting and for waiting. After getting a number at random, we have a winner!
Congratulations Kelly! We’ll be in touch via email so I can get this great book out for you to enjoy too!

Maple Syrup


When I was a kid I used to spend every school holiday up with my grandparents. They lived at the “cottage”, but to a kid it was paradise, specially for a city kid. They had killer tobogganing hills, skating, snowmobiles and nature as far as the eye could see. I was allowed to play with fire, build stuff and wander in the woods but best of all, every March Break, my Grampa would tap his maple trees and start collecting sap.

Ever since I’ve been about 10, I’ve wanted to learn the process from start to finish however the call back to school usually had other plans taking me away from the best part, the final product.

Now with years gone by, Grampa had put the maple gear into storage.
I have my own kids, flexibility and a food blog. It may have taken a few years of urging, but Greatest Grampa, how he’s now referred, dusted off the sap buckets and handed down one of the most awesomest candy thermometers I’ve ever seen.

In playing the role of Mom, I was able to take the kids out of school a few days before the break to head up north. The weather was ideal, so after packing too many clothes and boots for the changing of the seasons, we were off for our my long awaited visit with Greatest Nana and Greatest Grampa.

We were eagerly greeted by my Grandparents with scrubbed buckets and boots on. The weather had been cold the night before but was warming up nicely in the soon to be spring sunshine; ideal weather to get the sap running…

Since there aren’t any leaves, we were amazed at the knowledge and accuracy my grandfather, whom I’ve always thought was a genius anyway, was able to identify the Sugar Maples from the at least twenty varieties of trees he has growing in his quite diverse forest. With a drill and a spiel, we tapped the trees and hung the buckets, which were quickly chiming off a delicate symphony of drips into the galvanized pails below.

Next, we had to wait. Greatest Grampa had only brought down ten buckets, but after listening to the rapid drips of sap filling our buckets, we had caught the bug. We found water jugs and ice cream pails, you name it. If we could drill a hole into the side of it, it was soon hanging from a tree. All in all we doubled our collection and headed off to the local Maple Syrup Festival to pass the time. The kids saw, and tasted what was about to come their way.

By the end of the second day we’d collected enough sap to begin our first boil.

Sap is mostly water, so it takes about 40 times the sap to make one part syrup.
Thinking it had to by much more complicated than it was, I was sure that there had to be more to it when we were told that we “Just cook it.” I will cook just about anything and so we continued onward this adventure in syrup making. We were given a large soldered pan, which I’m sure my Grampa must have manufactured himself all those years ago.

When we started the cooking process, we realized we were soon referring to the boiling sap as, “Our Baby”. How precious it became as we watched our heavy sap just evaporate into the air. Slowly but surly it cooked down, only to be replenished by more sap until the last liter of the batch had been added. Shadowed through the bright sunshine we watched as the nearly clear liquid gave way to a light mapley shade of amber. The smell of cooking sap is amazing. The sweet steam warming our chilled cheeks, faintly reminded me of Shrove Tuesdays past. Finally we tasted, pondered and, of course, tasted some more.
Once we had deemed it worthy, we packed a sips worth into a cup and trotted up from the cottage, through the bush to Greatest Grampa’s house in the forest.

Anxious. “Maybe a little underdone.” We were told. But better under than over, as we learned. Apparently syrup is quite forgiving… phew.

Of course, pancakes were made to celebrate. Certainly a sweet success.

Detox



I’ve finally found a time of year where I can’t find an excuse not to eat a little better.

Honestly, doing a detox for the next 21 days has more to do with January than New Year’s and all it’s resolutions.
It’s something I’ve been meaning to do and put it off again and again. I’ve finally found that this month and the next couldn’t the be better. I’ve had every food excuse. Last spring with all it’s new produce, the summer with it’s berries, cobblers and bbq’s the fall harvest… you get the picture.

Based on the Dr. Joshi Diet, the next three weeks will have:
No Coffee
No Alcohol
No Sugar (Maple syrup is ok)
No Wheat or Yeast (ack)
No Nightshades; potatoes, peppers, eggplants or tomatoes.
No Fruit (double ack)

It’s long overdue. I need a balance and this is what this type of elimination diet is trying to achieve. A balanced PH, making my body more alkaline rather than acidic. I just never realized how much I liked acidic once I tried to figure out what to eat when you’re not allowed to eat anything.

Seriously, I made the trip to the grocery store to stock up and in trying to keep in interesting I wanted to eat more than brown rice with broccoli every night, not that I won’t enjoy that. Especially with a little maple glazed tofu… but for all of you with allergies I feel for you. Even after eliminating all of these things, my bill had never seen such heights!
Goes to prove, cheap is NOT healthy.

Wish me luck.

I’ll be sure to post once I figure out what to eat beyond today’s roasted butternut and edamame;)