Mashed Potato Christmas Trees

Personally, I love playing with my food, don’t you?

Take mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, chickpeas and mushroom gravy and have some fun!

Mama Fish’s Tree

Papa Fish’s Tree

Guppy’s Tree

The pictures with the mushroom gravy were just too reminiscent of mud slides and natural catastrophes devastating forests, so I’m censuring those.

This is one of our favourite ways to eat mashed potatoes around the holiday season.  To be honest, the humble spud doesn’t make it to our dinner table too often, finding itself relegated to “special requests” by Guppy.  Other choice veggies/decorations are of course cherry tomatoes, peas, olives, corn, diced red or green pepper, red onion, etc.  Steamed broccoli makes lovely surrounding shrubbery, and there have been steamed cauliflower clouds in the skies as well.  Hot sauce (for the big kids) or ketchup could be used for garlands, too. I set out the “ornaments” in little bowls and everyone decorates their own.

Very fun stuff, kids.  Tasty, too.

Rosemary Potato Bread or Potato Rosemary Bread or Really Delicious Bread

I often have a difficult time following directions.

There, I said it.

The official BBA (Bread Baker’s Apprentice) group is to work through Reinhart’s bread bible in order. Whatever.

First off, I’m not an official member. And Secondly, “I’d prefer not to.”*

Potato Rosemary Bread (Vegan)

I grew up just loving my mum’s potato rolls. I have the most vivid memories of coming home from school when perhaps 8 or 9 years old, and being greeted by the heavenly aroma of fresh potato rolls just out of the oven. My mother didn’t really bake all that much; she’s a great cook, and when she did bake it was always delicious, but I don’t have memories of her baking up a storm. That’s probably why when she did make bread or homemade rolls it was indeed a memorable treat.

Potato Rosemary Bread (Vegan)

My family eat mashed potatoes very often, but when planning dinner recently it occurred to me that I really wanted to give the Potato Rosemary Bread in BBA a try. As with most of the breads in BBA, this one is naturally vegan (and the non-vegan versions have been a “piece of brioche” to veganize).

This was also my first time baking using a biga, or pre-ferment starter. Didn’t I feel all pioneer womanesque? Oh, yes I did.

The bread was just a delight to make, and baked up just beautifully. It had a lovely, buttery taste and was disappearing so fast I decided to freeze the second loaf (which froze very well, and has also since disappeared). I’ll be submitting these lovely loaves to Susan’s Yeast Spotting, your weekly dose of beautiful breads and more.

I know many of you, my sweet and lovely readers, are Gluten-Free or try to bake GF as often as possible. I’m sorry I’m not much help, but I’d love to refer you to Natalie’s blog, Gluten A Go Go. She’s been running a series baking recipes from the Culinary Institute of America’s Baking & Pastry book Gluten-Free and the results have been extraordinary.

*While not a real fan of Melville (to the gasps and horror of the director of the English department at the University I taught at here in France) “Bartleby the Scriviner : A Story of Wall Street” is one of my preferred short stories.

Taters & Wingz : Friday Fun Food !

Sometimes there are blogger food favourites that circulate tirelessly, popping up again, seemingly just taunting you with their deliciousness.

Enter “Katie’s Wingz” and “Crash Hot Potatoes“, two tasty items that I had yet to meet, culinaraily speaking.

Two very snappy women with unquestionable taste, Jessy and Guava, have been talking up (and eating up!) the crash hot potatoes for so long that I finally decided to stop fighting and make some myself. I am such a fan of the humble potato, being as it’s full of vitamin C and super-affordable and all. A food of the people. Let the proletariat eat their pomme de terre, apple of the earth, damn it.

But what to serve with my crashed spuds? I had about 220g firm tofu in the fridge (two soy yaourts, jar of tahini, mustard, apple juice…huh, better get shopping…). Katie’s Internationally-famous wingz are usually made with tempeh…ha! Forget convention, who says I need to use tempeh? No one, that’s who!

I pressed and fried the tofu crispy in some oil, and then just pretty much stuck to the recipe. I admit to playing with the spices, but that’s just normal after all.


We were a very thrilled Fish Family, though I must claim ignorance as to the authenticity of the wingz. I have of course had chicken, but I’ve never ever had those ity bitty baby wing things people eat in bars or order in with their pizza. My first memory of seeing the marketing coup of wingz in play in my rural hometown was after I’d stopped eating animals, and this was a looong time ago. A Bush was in the Oval Office, and hey, there was also a war on Iraq…humm…funny how things change, yet stay the same.

Monsieur Fish, however, has had the wingyness, and he was smitten with the re-capturing of the saucy-spiciness and gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

I’ll have a 60-Day Project up-date for you next time, kids. You rule, and Mammafish is one happy chica.

What did you eat over the holiday weekend?


No, not flowers! These were actually my little wild flower “feel better soon” bouquet Guppy picked with Monsieur Fish on Sunday. They did make me feel better.

I hope you had a lovely weekend (long weekend for some of us) whether you were celebrating with friends and family or simply celebrating friends and family (as we were). I have some Lenten Confessions (yes, that means baking!) coming for you in my next post, but for now, I’d like to share the vegan goodness this weekend had to offer!

As a child, our traditional Easter weekend meant a visit from the Spring Fertility Rabbit (aka Easter Bunny), and a gigantic family dinner comprised of ham, potatoes and cabbage salad (and other random things that no one could eat for the glut of chocolate but a few hours before…).

We were almost always with my grandparents, divorced since before my birth, but somehow always together for the holidays – a forced reconciliation benefiting everyone involved. In fact, I was at least 5 years old before I really understood that my grandparents had witnessed a mammoth shift in their marital status, that they had been married, but no longer were. I had no idea how much bending-over-backwards was happening, the adults accommodating their very real and still fresh wounds. Somehow their living apart, but being together for the key moments of the year, when we made the journey North to spend the holidays tas a family, just seemed normal. Only now as an adult can I really appreciate just how much my grandparents loved my parents and my sibs and I. It was by no means a masquerade, but they put aside their differences and were able to enjoy the moments which became some of the most important memories of my lifetime. Way to go, Rita and Joe!

My Papa Joe was in charge of the cabbage salad. He would sit at the dining room table and carve the thinnest of slices before adding vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. I have some of the most beautiful memories of him at that table, the sunshine coming in from behind him, giving his tall frame an even more impressive aura. He always wore a suit and a bow tie, without exception, and he smelled like tobacco and peppermint.

I loved the family gathering, the sugar high, the gifts… but as for the dinner…I liked the cabbage salad, and that was about it.


Enough reminiscing, what did you eat for Easter dinner? What do you mean you didn’t have veggie burgers? Well, you should have, because they were darn tasty! These just happen to be the Black Bean Grillers from the much-anticipated 500 Vegan Recipes Cookbook by Joni & Celine. I know, I’m driving you crazy, but the testing is almost done, and they are just so good and easy to throw together at the last minute… I feel morally obliged to tell you about their awesomeness.

And what could possibly go better with burgers? More comfort food of course!


Here we have some steamed broccoli (which I think is Guppy’s very favourite non-fruit food) and rosemary mashed potatoes smothered in “Soppy Gravy”, a delicious mushroom-gravy with a kick, also soon to be featured in 500 Vegan Recipes. Considering that mashed potatoes have been one of my favourite foods since my introduction to solids, I fancy myself a bit of a gravy-expert. Not gravy making expert, mind you, but official gravy tester would be lovely on my CV next to my diplomas and work experience. I have made many a mushroom gravy in my day, but this one had a little somethin’ somethin’ that made me say wow!*

My modest little point-and-shoot doesn’t do the test recipes of 500 Vegan Recipes justice, so do scoot over to visit the 500 Vegan Recipes Flickr group and see what real photographers can do. For now, I’ll stick to eating taters and gravy.

Thanks for all the sweetness and advice on my respiratory woes. I’m still on a cortisone-high, but should feeling better soon. I will try to get past my loath for doctor visits and get to the bottom of this, and need to track down one of those nettie-nettle potty deals. It’s a little crazy how many women seem to have this random surge of sinus infections entering into their 30s…humm…Internet research calling my name…

*I did indeed say “Wow”.

60-Day Project Update & Carmelized Onion and Potato Tart on Focaccia Crust


I am just blown away by your amazing response to the 60-Day Project! Bianca said it well – we are a bit of a (blogging) family, and I am sincerely moved by your outpouring of interest and enthusiasm! I never dreamed this little idea would grow into such an adventure (Ricki – how did you know!). I don’t want to get overly sentimental here, but I am so energized by all this rockin’ Female Solidarity! Women from all over the globe (literally) getting together and getting it done! Right on, my Sisters! Where will we go from here? We could become the Undercover Global Birthday Squad – bringing birthday cheer to women everywhere! (I’m having a Roise the Riveter moment here…Sorry).


This is going to be one of the best birthdays ever for my mother and I am so excited about getting things underway! I had no idea how many of you would be interested in participating, and I must admit I’m a little overwhelmed by your response! I’m not sure how I’m going to manage to make and send off little gifts to everyone – there are so many of you! I’ll be getting an email off to all the participants this weekend with the important details so we can get started – I don’t want to talk too much more about this here lest the secret be spoiled! Weeeee!

And now, a little food, because we can’t make birthday history with our tummies empty now can we?


Hummm… here we have Caramelized Onion and Potato Tart on Focaccia. I wish I had a better picture, but both times I made this delectable dish it disappeared so fast I had a tough time snapping a picture! This is indeed a pre-Lent dinner, my baking fast is holding true, JFTR (just for the record).

I feel a little guilty tempting you with these succulent test recipes from the upcoming 500 Vegan Recipes, the stellar cookbook collaboration between Celine and Joni. The frustration you must feel not being able to make such yummies must be terrible! However, if you’re a sucker for punishment, do check out the 500 Vegan Recipes Flickr Group for more tempting deliciousness. You can marvel at the amazing food photography of the muy talented Celine! And hey! 500 Vegan Recipes is now available for pre-order, which may help you feel pro-active in appeasing your outrageous cravings!