W.I.P. Round-Up

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I do hope you had a lovely Valentine’s Day! We had a special day with a pancake breakfast (Peanut butter pancakes, a test recipe for Joni & Celine for 500 Vegan Recipes, yummers!), hanging around in our p.j.’s and eating left-over queso-free queso dip and nachos – while still in aforementioned pajamas – for lunch (also à la 500 Vegan Recipes), and some vegan sushi take-out. We also watched a fun movie to round out heart day – I’m not a big romantic comedy fan in general, but if you get a chance to see Prête moi ta main (the English title is I do) you should, because it was cute, funny and the kind of movie you could easily pause the four or five times it was necessary to re-tuck Guppy in after two false-alarm potty visits, a night-light check, a tissue emergency and a “one last kiss” visit. That’s what you get for feeding your 3 year-old too many starches and letting her hang out in her jammies all day. But who knows?

Enough about my domestic bliss (ahem), let’s take a peek at what the Wipsters have been up to!

I consider myself so lucky to be (virtually) surrounded by such talent and craftiness! Just take a look at these great projects :

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Carmen made a cute little red softie doll for her daughter. I’m thinking she likes it :

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Krys made two adorable stuffies for her “two vegan boys”

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Aren’t they cute? (I mean the boys!)

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Amanda’s pillow is just gorgeous (that back fabric is so cheerful!).

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This patchwork-style pillow Natalia made for her daughter is precious! I love the buttons on the back , too :

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Beth made a mini-softie (you can see it here)

and here are my final creations :
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This is Guppy’s Valentine’s Day pillow, which was indeed an eleventh hour project. I embroidered her name (the yellow splotches…because no, her name isn’t really Guppy!) and there is also purple ribbon on the back. She really liked it, and we all had to “test it”, which was fun.

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This smaller version was part of a Valentine’s Day-themed package for my sister’s birthday. I definitely think the ribbon was a good idea when I see how plain-Jane this first one is.

This Stitch-Along has been fun, and I’ve already had a few suggestions for March. If you have an idea for a Stitch-Along project, you can email me at fishbowlmusings (at) gmail (dot) com – there is so much out there, any and all ideas are appreciated!

Don’t forget about our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool if you didn’t get your pictures to me in time, or if you’d just like to share what you’ve been up to on Wednesdays!

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Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? : Chow Baby, Divine Lemon Scones & an Award!

I am once again swooning but for the deliciousness of Ms. Joni’s “food courtesque” Chinese-style recipes! Be still my beating heart (and growling stomach) we have Chow Mein, or Mein Chow if you prefer, action happening here :

chow-mein

The most effortless and versatile vegan chow mein ever! Here we have carrots, onion, green beans, mushrooms, mung bean shoots…but baby corn, broccoli, and faux duck (aka seitan) would also be excellent choices. This was a perfect one-wok meal, and as always, I love you both Celine and Joni, as weekly meal planning is a no-brainer for me, and you all are going to love 500 Vegan Recipes! There are some fabulous photos at the 500 Vegan Recipes Cookbook Flickr group, too. But warning : don’t go on an empty stomach!

But let’s get onto the scones, shall we? As many of you know, since my little accident in November, my Sunday routine has been drastically altered. I loved Sunday mornings because they meant me sneaking out of the apartment before Guppy and Monsieur Fish were awake, greedily soaking up the warm smells of baking croissants and baguettes wafting from the boulangeries as I made my way through the streets of my still-sleeping French city… then on to the forest trails, where the morning mist was still hanging heavy, and save the occasional company of a fox, rabbit or (yikes!) wild boar, I was free to spend one and a half to two glorious hours of me time : the long run.

There was nothing like coming home after my long run, feeling both spent and refreshed at the same time (though not smelling so fresh, gotta admit!). After some stretching and showering, it was time for a decadent Sunday brunch with my little family. While I’m sad (and frustrated) to say my foot/ankle is still not letting me do much other than dream about running, I woke up Sunday morning with that basta! feeling we get when enough really is enough and damn it if I can’t go run at least I’m going to make a fun Sunday brunch treat!

And the Divine Lemon Scones were born. Out of necessity. Because I wanted something citrus, something sweetish (as opposed to Swedish, though, that would have been a good idea, too) and I have a sac of lemons that Monsieur Fish bought last week because they were 1E and he just knew I could use them for something.

divine-lemon-sconeI might have gotten a little carried away with the glaze on this one…what do you think?

These scones have a lovely lemon cakesque groove going on which is perfect for the lemon-lover in me. If, however, you are not as lemon crazy as I am, you may want to use less lemon juice or extract for the glaze, or just skip the glaze all together, though I would think you mad because it’s so good!

Divine Lemon Scones

Because I didn’t feel like washing a million cups, this is a metric measure recipe. Sorry Imperialists Imperial-measure folks. This makes about 12 scones.

  • 300 ml non-dairy milk (I use soy)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 350g AP flour plus 100g AP flour
  • 60g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • pinch salt (but not hard)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • zest from 3 lemons

Preheat your oven to about 200c.

Mix the vinegar and “milk” and set aside. Sift together the 350g flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Now add the oil, zest and curdled soy milk mixture. Stir until just combined, adding flour from the 100g as needed to achieve a powdery, not-even-a-little-bit-sticky dough.

At this point I usually divide the dough into two or three as it’s easier to work with. Knead a piece a few times and flatten it into a bit of a disc-shape. Now cut wedges, about six if you divided the dough in two, and get those babies on a parchment or silplat-lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 10-15 minutes (my oven is psycho, so sometimes it’s more like 10, sometimes 14ish).

While they are on the cooling rack, make your Divine Glaze:

  • about 180g powdered/icing sugar (give or take, depending on the consistency you like)
  • the juice of three lemons (you know, the ones you just scalped for the zest)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional, this really gets things lemony)

All you need to do is mix this up until the powdered sugar dissolves. When the scones are mostly-cool just drizzle this all over them. Setting them on parchment paper is a good idea to help with easy clean-up since this glaze could also double as tasty super glue I think. If these don’t float your sconey-boat, you could also try the Rose & Almond Scones I made for BBD last May – delicate rose flavoured almond scones – yum!

Speaking of lemons, look what I got!

lemonade-award2One of my favourite blogger buddies, Jumbleberry Jam, passed along the Lemonade Award which goes to bloggers who show great Attitude and/or Gratitude. My wise and witty Jumblefriend loves gourmet vegan food, wine, dark chocolate…wait a minute, I think that this describes the majority of my readers! Anyway, thank you so much for this much-appreciated distinction. While I’m to pass this on to 10 other bloggers, I am incapable of choosing because there are so many of you that I just LOVE, so consider yourself awarded if you meet at least one of the following criteria :

1. You can’t wait to read your favourite blogs, and are incapable of keeping up with your “Reader” which makes you crazy!

2. You feel a genuine connection to your favourite bloggers and refer to them as “friends you met on the Internet” when talking about them to non-blogging people (as opposed to just calling them “bloggers”).

3. You’re eternally grateful for the fabulous recipes and food ideas you find in blogland and have no idea how you’d plan your weekly meals without them.

There you go! Do let me know if you’ve been tagged!

I love crêpes & la fête de la Chandeleur! Oh, and Whatever happened to Sunday dinners? Sweet & Sour Tofu and Asian-Style Veg

Happy fête de la Chandeleur! Let’s get crazy and eat crêpes!

While some of you are “celebrating” Groundhog Day, here in France it’s one of my favourite little holidays of all – la fête de la Chandeleur, and we get to eat crêpes! I wrote a lovely explination of this holdiay last year, and let me tell you, it is the most popular post on this blog. I can’t begin to tell you how many English language “Chandeleur” searches lead folks to me. There is also my tried & true vegan crêpe recipe on that post, which is also quite popular this time of year. So go read up on Catholic propaganda and crêpes – what fun!

But what about Sunday dinner?

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Sweet & Sour Tofu

One of my favourite “treats” as a child was going out for Chinese food. Now grant you, there was only one Chinese restaurant near-by (and near-by being a rather subjective distance), and it was only on very special occasions that my parents piled us all into the mini-van for some Chinese cuisine. Now a mum myself, I can only discern virtual Congressional Medals of Honor for the courage and heroism (and insanity?) my parents displayed bringing us all out to eat in public, in a restaurant. All six of us.

My absolute favourite thing as a kid was the Sweet & Sour Chicken balls. The sticky-sweet red sauce clinging to the deep-fried, breaded balls – which really should have been called Sweet & Sour breading balls with a tiny piece of chicken in them, seriously – and the sticky white rice painted pink after a proper slathering in the sweet & sour sauce…it was like dessert, but for dinner.

I haven’t had the sweet & sour goodness in so long it is crazy, since at least 1990 when I went veg, but probably before. This is a test recipe for 500 Vegan Recipes, and I feel like I need to have a second child and name her Joni in order to properly thank her for this recipe it is so damn good. If you ever enjoyed food-court-style take out in your pre-vegan days and miss that wonderful, terrible sticky red sauce, you are going to love this recipe.

ss-tofu-vegAsian-Style Veg and Sweet & Sour Tofu

I’m a little embarrassed, but I’ll admit it. I made this twice in three days I love it so much. There. I said it. Please don’t totally lose respect for me.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when Joni & Celine are done testing their recipes for their upcoming cookbook 500 Vegan Recipes. What will I make? Seriously, I love this because I just consult what needs to be tested and I have my menu for the week! Don’t forget the Flickr group for more food p*orn love.

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? Twice-Baked Potatoes, how I love thee!

This was one of those dinners that made me feel all down-home and comfort-foody. Love that!

The closest I had ever come to making twice-baked potatoes are the Samosa-Stuffed Potatoes from VCON. Monsieur Fish and Guppy both really like them, they’re quick and easy and they are always a big hit with omnis, so they work well as appies when we have a little soirée. However real, honest-to-goodness born in Betty Crockeresque kitchen in the 1960′s twice-baked taters had never been on my list of things to make. Maybe because I’d never had them before? I have had potato skins – those were considered “party food” when I was little and my mum wanted to make us a special finger-food type meal. But twice-baked potatoes? Nope. Never.

Oh how wrong I was to have neglected such an easy and delightful dish!

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Sunday Dinner: Twice-Baked Potatoes, Basic Seitan Crumbles, Roasted Green Beans with sautéed Mushrooms & Onions, and Orange(r) Carrot Coins

These Twice-Baked Potatoes were dangerously good. I mean, hide the left-overs so there will be some left for tomorrow good. Don’t get me wrong, they are not to be considered low-fat or something I will make every week, but they are now in the canon of “comfort foods”. And those Basic Seitan Crumbles? Outta sight! So versatile, they could be used in a myriad many ways – on pizza, over a salad…we ended up sprinkling them on our potatoes like bacon bits. Heaven. The Carrot Coins also scored high on their “not tasting like health food carrots” according to Monsieur F. We were having trouble not having thirds, and fourths…

With the exception of the roasted beanies, this meal was built by Celine and Joni, the goddesses of vegan recipe creations. You’ll have no choice but to pick up a copy of their 500 Vegan Recipes. Ok, you’ll have a choice, but really, you won’t be able to help yourself from wanting all this goodness! Want to see more? Go check out the 500 Vegan Recipes Flickr Group.

While preparing the potatoes for this dinner, I couldn’t help but thinking about my friend Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs, but I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, this wasn’t one of her recipes – though I do use her recieps often! Then it hit me: last year Ricki wrote a very moving post, one of my favourites, and she therein mentions potato boats. This post touched me for many different personal reasons, and so deeply that well over 6 months later I was brought back to her childhood memories as I prepared my meal. As most of you know, Ricki was recently nominated for a blogging award grâce à her beautiful prose. I just wanted to say that award or not, Ricki’s talent, culinary and literary, is undeniable!

The unbearable deliciousness of Marmite Biscuits (Crackers)

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Like many of you, my first Marmite experience was rather brutal : I’d heard Marmite and Vegemite mentioned before here and there, but I had no idea what it tasted like. I was 16, and visiting England for the very first time.

Gullible, trusting and rather naive, I allowed myself to be seduced by the groans of pleasure coming from the 6 and 9-year-old children who were seated near me at the kitchen table, as the bit into their Marmite and cucumber topped slices of bread.

“So what does it taste like?” I asked, sniffing the open jar. The colour reminded me of the pints of Guinness I’d had the night before with the children’s uncle and cousin at the local pub. I was still marveling over the staying power of the foamy brew, the way the “S” the barkeep traced in frothy white top of my glass remained intact until I managed to finish it down. My head hurt too, but I was 16, who cares about that?

“Here, have some,” the elder of the two beamed, slathering a gigantic dollop of Marmite onto a slice of bread. “It’s kind of like peanut butter, only different,” he offered reassuringly.

I couldn’t help but notice the 6 year-old giggling, but she seemed to giggle all the time, so I wasn’t really sure what that was all about.

Blek.

Of course I obligingly took a big bite of the tartine offered me, only to realize that I was about to be sick and needed to get to a toilet fast. Embarrassment. I was teased it was the Guinness from the night before. It wasn’t. It was that damned Marmite. Bugger.

I’m a peace and love kind of gal, and I’m always trying to make amends with my enemies. Like the yeasty-spreads. Thrilled I am to say that during Grad school one of my sweethearts had a real thing for the “mite” sandwiches, and I was all about people making me lunch, so I became a fan.

These crackers, however, take the love to a whole new level:

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These biscuits are rich, buttery and have an almost eyebrow-raising bacony taste to them. The yeast spread gives them a depth of flavour that is satisfying and surprising. These are perfect for snacking, and would also be lovely dunked in a steamy bowl of soup. I served them with cocktails and billed them as crackers because here, biscuits are sweet and that would have been weird.

This recipe and 499 others will be available for your vegan pleasure in Celine & Joni’s 500 Vegan Recipes. You can check out the Flickr photos if you want more food p*rn, too. It’s a real treat to be working on such a comprehensive book. I’m not trying to be a tease, really! Come on over and I’ll make you some so you can have some, too. Promise.

*Another grand merci to Libby who sent me these super-cute cookie cutters. She was turned away at the polls during the 2001 election in Florida when that phoney election when down. She was there, man. Yet another moment in my day where I am thankful for Obama!

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? : I *Heart* Indian Cuisine!

Nothing like a little spice to warm up your insides when the weather outside is frightful! It is frightful here – every day it gets colder and colder…

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Clockwise from top : Chickpea Masala, Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce, and Spicy Chick-Wheat Savory Muffins

Nothing like getting all curry & cumin! This was one of those meals where you’re really, really glad there are left-overs. My big strategy of making a big Sunday luncheon and being a big lazyfish and leaving the left-overs on the stove until dinner…yeah, I like it. Now I just hope there’s enough left for tonight!

The “Chickpea Masala” is a test recipe for Celine & Joni’s 500 Vegan Recipes, and I am so going to make this like, a million more times. This was as scrumptious as it was easy and inexpensive (or cheap, but that sounded so dirty!).

I recently noticed that Guppy really likes peas, so I jumped at the chance to milk this for all it’s worth and made Ricki’s delectable “Peas in a Creamy Curry Sauce” and just went light on the spice. These were really delicious and it was nice to have some green on our plates! Guppy of course snubbed the peas, because she has gone through the hideous transformation of “no, I don’t like that!” (no matter what it is). Oh how I miss the days of her liking everything. Well, if she’s hungry, she’ll eat*.

And to round out the meal, some tasty “Chick-Wheat Savory Muffins”. I loved these. They are perfect for helping soak up all the masala and curry goodness you see on the plate!

*Rest assured, I do try to see that the kidlet eats properly. As long as we have bananas and soy yogurt, she won’t starve. Oh, and when she eats elsewhere she eats everything…just like most other toddlers. The joys of parenthood are without number…

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? Celine’s Amazing Quiches

Before the fantastical deliciousness, just a reminder :

woyopracmoIt’s never too late to join in the yoga fun!

One does need sustenance in order to properly practice yoga, n’est-ce pas? Good thing there is so much deliciousness to chose from amongst the test recipes for Celine and Joni’s 500 Vegan Recipes! Honestly, the most difficult thing about being a tester (oh, woe is me) is deciding what to make.

I took advantage of our last lazy holiday Sunday to fix a lovely Sunday dinner. The crazy unusually cold temps seemed to suggest we make a big ole late lunch and stay in our jammies : -5c was the high!?! What the heck is up with that? I know, that doesn’t sound like much for some of you, but we are just not equipped for that kind of cold!

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I made some cheater green rice (thawed frozen spinach tossed in with rice), and a green salad to round out the meal. I hardly was able to snap a photo as the Fish School was starving!

These quiches are the easiest I’ve ever made – and the most convincing, too. This isn’t the first time I’ve made these. Monsieur Fish, not terribly loquacious, has requested them 3 times over the past month!

The first time I made these he didn’t get in until well after the dinner hour. I’d just left everything out so he could help himself, and he actually had to wake me up to ask me if I’d decided to start eating eggs! He thought they were that authentic tasting! Let me reassure you, no eggs were cracked in the making of these babies!

Food : Then & Now

Then:

Since so many of you kids out there in blogland are foodies – vegan & omni alike – I thought you may enjoy this. (I think it’s freaking fascinating and can’t stop wasting spending time reading it) . Check out this Food Timeline that Kelly of Eat Make Read posted. I don’t want anyone getting their vegan organic cotton panties in a bunch over the accuracy of the site – for me it’s purely for entertainment purposes, or perhaps a good starting off point for further research. I just think it’s terribly interesting to connect the dots of our genetic histories and food choices. I also think it would be wonderfully interesting to run a timeline of the apparition of “affluenza-esque” diseases parallel to this one. The introduction (and government-produced propaganda for the marketing) of sugar really marks some interesting changes in the ways we lived and died. Now excuse me while I eat another sugar cookie. Ahem.

Oh, and I’m also thinkin’ that I should be eating whole rice and millet more often, since they are just some of the most ancient grains regularly consumed meaning our bods have the technology to utilise them proficiently. And they rock.

Just sayin’.

Now :

Speaking of some great grains…

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Curry Couscous Stuffed Mushrooms served with Red Wine Carrots.

I know, another washed-out photo on a food blog! How original! But get over it, because this meal goes down in the history books of deliciousness. (For a vegan I am awfully cheesy, don’t you think?). These carrots disappeared so quickly that I think for the first time ever in the history of the world I was reprimanded for not having made enough veg for dinner. Yeah, that good. Oh, and they have red wine in them. We all know how I feel about red wine.

And the schrooms? Out of this beloved galaxy my friends. I wish I could tell you what kind I used, but I can’t. Not because it’s top secret, but because Monsieur F has been negotiating the shopping since “My Left Foot” so, I told him to get big mushrooms. He asked how big. I said, as big as the palm of my hand, por favor.

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I think he did a pretty darn good job. Don’t you?

Anyway, I hate to be a tease, but these are two snazzy recipes which will be featured in 500 Vegan Recipes by our super sistahs Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel and Joni of Just The Food.

Oh, are you beginning to hyper-ventilate in a freaking panic because you still have a billion things to do before the 24th at midnight and are out of ideas? Take a deep breath. Joni has recently posted some great holiday recipes that would make delicious gifts, and so has Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs – so you’ve no excuses! Inspiration is everywhere! (I think the chocolate will travel just fine to France, don’t hold back!).


Traditions : Holiday Breakfast

I love holidays. In fact, I love them all. I’ll celebrate just about any holiday, religious (I’m agnostic) or secular, provided they involve the following : joy, laughter, family, friends, food & fun.

My childhood was idyllic in so many ways : loving, caring parents, a slew of noisy, energetic sibs and a host of family traditions, especially around the holidays.

The holidays meant spending time with my grandparents and my extended family, and our celebrations were built on sharing stories (like the time my 5 year-old mum could hear Santa putting presents under the tree at the same time as she could hear our grandfather snoring! So it obviously wasn’t him…), singing holiday songs (very musical family), playing games (is it wrong to teach a 5 year-old poker?) and feasting on all the goodies that come with the season.

Now before you go barfing on your vegan shoes over the Hallmark Hall of Fameness of my memories, let me reassure you, my family was (is) as crazy and dysfunctional as the next one, but my childhood eyes were all but blind to the ills plaguing members of my immediate family. Nothing was hidden from us, but we focused on other things, more important things, like taking evening walks through the snow to look at the Christmas lights decorating the houses, making decorations out of construction paper and popsicle sticks. The good stuff.

One of my fondest holiday memories is of Christmas Day breakfast. After we’d gotten up far to early to open gifts and loot stockings, it was time for a feast of breakfast foods, and to add to the exceptional nature of the meal, we’d even drink orange juice from wine glasses! Wow. One of my favourite things were the pancakes. We didn’t eat them often as kids, so they were a real treat.

no-fail-buttermilk-pancakes

These are the pancakes I’ll be making this year to honor the tradition, Joni’s “No-Fail Buttermilk Pancakes”. These were the fluffiest, lightest pancakes I’ve ever made – hands down. This test recipe is for the “500 Vegan Recipes” book she and Celine are publishing. We’ve all got a “favourite” pancake recipe, right? Well, this one’s mine.

And here’s a little vegan cheese for the holidays. I’m a huge Bowie fan. I also love to listen to Bing belt out the holiday classics. I love this piece of nostalgia – that almost never happened – and the bittersweet memories that come with it.

Decisions, Decisions…

It would seem we are inundated with a host of decisions from dawn to dusk. While I embrace free will (or the illusion of it? hummm…), there are moments when it’s just not possible, nor desirable, really, to have to chose between the lady or the tiger.

If you know what I mean.

Our conundrum? Cookies or brownies.

I know. Earth-shattering stuff.

Luckily, I have a friend. Her name is Celine. She’s working on a cookbook.

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Thanks to Celine, we were liberated from the bondage inseparable from freedom.

The only real decision to be made, was how many to eat.

Monsieur Fish helped make this decision for me by eating nearly all of them.

Problem solved.

Stay tuned for some breakfast love tomorrow…