sabotabby: (sabokitty)
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.



photodump )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
fiddleheads and southwestern saladTonight's dinner. The salad was technically part of lunch as well.

I almost never make anything super-fancy just for myself these days—seriously, half my meals come out of a can—but fiddlehead season comes but once a year, and my mom brought me some, so I got to make some of these tasty-but-dangerous delights.

Here is a recipe for how to make fiddleheads.

It came out excellently, holy shit.

The Southwestern salad is my own recipe, more or less. Sauteéd jalapenos, avocados, grape tomatoes, cilantro, and walnuts. The dressing is olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and lime juice. 

Other delicious things I have made or participated in making this weekend: Homemade falafel balls, pear-walnut pie, and more of that avocado pasta that I am obsessed with at the moment.

falafelpie

















In other, related news, my apple tree is blossoming!

apple tree 

And Cocoa is looking extra-cute:

cocoacocoa
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
avocado pasta

AVOCADO PASTA

 

INGREDIENTS:

• 12 ounces spaghetti

• 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded and peeled

• 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

• 2 cloves garlic

• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

• 1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained and rinsed


DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.

2. To make the avocado sauce, combine avocados, basil, garlic and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor;

season with salt and pepper, to taste. With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until emulsified;

set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine pasta, avocado sauce, cherry tomatoes and corn.

4. Serve immediately.


This is delicious and dead easy. A++ would cook again, especially if I were using my own awesome blender and not the school's shitty one.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (raccoons of the resistance)
 1. Charoset that looks like vomit but tastes roughly correct:

charoset

It's a bit boozier than I remember it being. Probably because all the recipes call for Manischewitz, which has been banned in my household ever since I became a grown-up who lives on her own and drinks actual wine.

2. This logo for my new baseball league:

christie pits hardball league
For those of you who aren't Canadians, it's a reference to this. I want to make baseball jerseys or hoodies or something. After I've cleaned up the design, anyway.

3. A difference in the lives of children. :)

In other news, I still have massive feels about the Black Sails finale so anyone who wants to talk about it with me, please please please. Also, I'm wondering if I should end my paid account on LJ and get a paid account on DW to get more icons.

Cake!

Feb. 12th, 2017 05:05 pm
sabotabby: (books!)
 I am up to my eyeballs in work and stress, and also probably have the flu (oh joy) but I just thought I'd share a picture of the truly magnificent cake that I made for a friend's Tacky Valentine's Day party:

tacky red cake

Just look at this majesty! It's a mint cashew cheesecake with chocolate cookie crust, topped with vegan peppermint marshmallows that look like wee teeth. It was very tasty and I'm really pleased with how it came out.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Tanzanian braised coconut cabbage:

yum

Recipe here.


Verdict: It looks rather a lot like coleslaw, which can be unnerving as it tastes absolutely nothing like coleslaw. However, once you get over that, it is far more delicious than coleslaw. Easy to make, 100% would make again.

I added a bit of tofu for protein. It could also probably do with some other spices.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
I made vegan Jaffa cakes! Now, this was a challenge as:

1) I have never eaten a regular Jaffa cake and only know about them because of British telly shows;
2) I'm not sure I would even like them, as orange + chocolate is not my favourite flavour combination; and
3) All of the recipe measurements were in British.

This said, I think they turned out well, though I reserve the right to test them on an actual British person tomorrow. At least, they are composed of bits that are individually tasty, they are structurally sound, and they look like the picture on the recipe.

IMG_7603

Here is the recipe. It is pretty easy, actually, but here are some PROTIPS:

1) Buy yourself an actual orange to do the orange zest. Do not assume that the peels of the last two satsumas that you ate for lunch are an adequate substitute. I mean, yes, the zest smells and presumably tastes the same, but did you know that it's really easy to grate off your fingertips because the peel is thinner? Well, it is!

2) I did not use self-rising flour as I don't think that's a thing that exists here. So here is how to make your own. Also I don't know what fine-cut marmalade is; they only had thick-cut and not-at-all-specific-about-the-cut marmalade in the store, so I bought the non-specific one.

3) Here is a site to convert British to North American measurements.

4) The cakes rise towards the centre so you have to saw off the top of it to make them flat. Also, I wasn't sure how much batter to put in each cakehole, so I just evenly divided it amongst the 12. You should probably use multiple bun trays and use less batter than I did to get more, and flatter, cakes. Also spread it around a bit to make it smoother on top, that way you end up with less excess cake.

5) If you put something like wax paper or a tray under the wire rack when you put the marmalade and chocolate on, you can save yourself a lot of really irritating and messy clean-up. Both are drippy things that you don't want to be wiping off your counter all day.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
Last night, [livejournal.com profile] the_axel and I went to the Kensington Market Festival of Lights. Inexplicably, he'd never been before, and I hadn't been in about eight or nine years, so it was Necessary. It's a Solstice celebration and one of those weird, beloved Toronto traditions where you sort of wonder how this became a thing in the first place.

I was going to bring my camera, but at the last minute I was le tired, so all I have are crappy cell pictures. Still, you can see a little of what goes on there and why I adore it so:

warning: clowns )

Today was my last teaching day of the year. Then I rushed home to finish up the Christmas baking to distribute to neighbours, co-workers, and friends tomorrow and this weekend.

all the cookies )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
You guys you guys I did it!

I made the chocolate caramel shortbreads vegan. I usually make chocolate caramel shortbread as one of my Christmas cookies but that was Before. Now I had to re-learn how to do them.

This was a massive triumph of baking engineering given that my first attempt to find a recipe was a total clusterfuck that ended in literal tears. This is some advanced shit and it took two recipes + substitutions to create something that worked. But it worked! And it tastes like joy.

15356478_10157815144980612_7024561327518647573_n15400315_10157815145095612_5435651702777621297_n15401051_10157815144850612_8551762346843936547_n

How'd that last picture get in there? Cocoa, you are not a foods even if you are the same colour and named after a foods.

Anyway I am really proud of myself so here's what I did under the cut.

om nom nom )

Thin Mints!

Dec. 4th, 2016 05:12 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
I'm multitasking: updating my CV whilst doing more baking. Neither are things I particularly want to do right now, but at least today's experiment was awesome:

tumblr_ohol0o3aF31r2vmy7o1_1280 15349774_10157777476685612_561930224317437356_n

Okay, so Thin Mints are already vegan*, which is nice, so you should buy them and support the Girl Guides. Which I do. However, if you want to make homemade ones (maybe because you want to work with a better quality of chocolate or whatever, here is the recipe:

Vegan Thin Mints

I followed the recipe more or less exactly, and they turned out awesome. The only thing I changed was that two cups of chocolate for the topping seemed excessive. I ended up only dipping them on one side, as there's already a lot of chocolate in this. I watered it down with a bit of cashew milk, as the baking chocolate I use is never runny enough to dip things in, and you want it pretty runny or they won't look very nice.

* By a cool coincidence, the shitty cookies I like tend to be vegan. I don't eat shitty cookies often, but that's one thing that I was pleased to not have to give up.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
tumblr_ohmhh4MKMN1r2vmy7o2_500tumblr_ohmhh4MKMN1r2vmy7o1_500

Tikel gomen and more misir wot; hopefully enough to last the next two weeks or so because cooking, baking, and keeping up with work's demands are increasingly impossible combinations and something has to give.

Recipe here. I doubled the spices, as usual, and it turned out perfectly.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
Today in "my co-workers and neighbours don't even deserve me," I baked these guys:

IMG_7403

Here's the recipe. It's dead easy. I keep saying this about everything I've baked since June, but they're more delicious than the non-vegan method.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
I made some delicious cheesecakes for people and it came out yum. One was for a retiring co-worker (*sniff*); the other for personal reasons.

15094991_10157704743775612_4598676915309135935_n15055817_10157704743375612_2359811820074400033_n

I basically use the same structure for most of my cheesecakes now and vary the flavouring depending on my whims.
Recipe )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
More Ethiopian cooking!

tumblr_oewozsVotU1r2vmy7o2_500tumblr_oewozsVotU1r2vmy7o1_500

I made some misir wot. Here's the recipe. I basically followed it except I added more garlic (obvs.) and berbere. Also I doubled all the ingredients, because I have an aversion to leaving half a can of tomato paste around.

Verdict: Tasty! Not as mindblowing as the d'ba zigni I made the other day or as good as Hirut's misir wot, but solid yum, and the more you eat, the more you want to eat. Also the most cost-effective, healthiest thing I've made—I think the whole thing cost about $10 in ingredients, and there's enough for 2 weeks to a month, and it's basically pure protein with nothing unhealthy in it. It's quite easy as well.

So this will definitely go in the repertoire.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
I did warn you.

This is an easy one. Like, surprisingly easy, assuming you live in the right kind of neighbourhood, which I do. Otherwise I imagine it's a pain in the ass.

Ethiopian is pretty much my favourite overall cuisine but, unlike my other favourite foods, it tends to be one I'm afraid of making, largely because the one time I tried it came out gross. This avoidance is enabled by the fact that there is a really excellent Ethiopian place across the street from me and several others within stumbling distance, so why bother doing it myself?

Because I can, that's why. And also because no one at work will go out for Ethiopian food for lunch with me and while this is a stupid thing to bring to lunch when you tend to eat at your desk and not always have access to a sink, I'm clearly going to do it anyway.

So I was walking home, past one of the many little convenience stores along my route, when I thought, "wait a sec, I wonder if I can get berbere here?" It looked like the kind of convenience store where they don't sell anything other than $5 deodorant and energy drinks, but inside, lo and behold, there before me was a whole rack of unlabelled spices, facing another rack of exciting obscure flours and lentils. Shyly, I asked, "do you have berbere?"

The two women working there looked at me like I was a particularly entertaining cat video. "You know what berbere is?" one asked. "You like berbere?"

I nodded. She handed me a massive fucking container of berbere. "Be careful with it," she advised me. "It's spicy. Start with two teaspoons."

I promised I'd be careful. I was not planning to be careful. Deciding that this was a magical convenience store, I asked if they also had injera. She handed me a massive fucking package of injera. The two women then proceeded to question me on my experience with making Ethiopian food (none) and what I liked (all of it) and both of them gave me tips. Which amounted to fry onions, put in spices, fill with delicious things, and nuke the injera for about a minute.

Anyway I made d'ba zigni and it came out amazingly:

IMG_7151

The recipe is here. I followed it pretty exactly except that I used canned pumpkin (I know) and tomato sauce rather than puréeing tomatoes because I was lazy and didn't want to go out again. I also tasted it about halfway through and decided that it needed more berbere, because I am not a careful person.

Verdict: Do it my way and it takes far less time than it says in the recipe (we're talking like 10-15 minutes), and basically tastes like the d'ba zigni I've had at restaurants.

I meant to take a taste and I ended up shovelling massive amounts of it into my mouth. Oops. This was not supposed to be for dinner tonight. Fortunately it makes a not-miniscule quantity—I guess to go along with the ridiculous amount of injera I now have in my fridge. I might make some misir wat to go along with it this weekend because apparently that is pretty easy too.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
OKAY KIDS LET'S TALK ABOUT PUMPKIN PIE. Canned pumpkin (shut up) was on sale at the Valu-Mart, so I bought like four cans and made two pies and still have lots of pumpkin left over. Pumpkin all the things! I fuckin' love pumpkin pie and all things pumpkin, excepting the pumpkin spice latte I had at Timothy's the other day that tasted weird, and not at all like pumpkin.

But I digress. This is the first time I've attempted a vegan pumpkin pie, and it went pretty well. I used a combination of two recipes: this one had a crust recipe that made sense, but used unnecessary silken tofu* in the filling and had insufficient spices. This one had a better sounding filling but committed an abomination by requiring a pre-baked shell. I mean really.

The combined recipe )
Results:

Oh yeah I topped it with this whipped coconut cream that is fantastic but I can no longer seem to find. Anyone have any leads?

tumblr_oemvg35GH31r2vmy7o1_1280

+ It totally held together. There are bits off of it because I did a shitty job of rolling out the dough (I made it into a ball when I froze it, not a disc, and so it took forever to defrost and I got impatient) which is my fault, not the recipe's. Following the recipe will result in a structurally sound pie.

+ It tastes great! I might add a bit more maple syrup or some brown sugar to the filling next time.

- It looked kind of...green? I don't know whether that was because of anything vegan that I did to it. I think it's a clove-meets-pumpkin issue but anyway if anyone knows how to make pumpkin pie come out a more appealing colour, do let me know.

- I used up the last of the aforementioned coconut cream. Need moar and I am worried the grocery store has stopped stocking it.

- It takes fucking forever. I was baking until 8pm last night. Again, if anyone knows of a way to make pie that is faster on schoolnights, it is relevant to my interests.

Overall a win; it got devoured at the school barbecue, unlike the storebought and prettier apple pies. No one knew it was vegan until I told them, which is my hobby atm.

* I love silken tofu, but why does it need to go in pumpkin pie? Pumpkin is already a binding agent and I couldn't figure out what it was supposed to replace. Condensed milk? Anyway.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (death is coming)
Hey, you know what I love? Korma. You know what I can't eat anymore? Korma, unless I make it myself. So I did.

I also had a ghost pepper ripen in my garden—the first one I've ever managed to get to ripening stage!—so I figured, hey, why not make ghost pepper korma? I know korma is supposed to be mild, but this is me, and if I can add ghost pepper to a thing, I will.

The result is fucking deliciousness.

pictures and recipe )

In other news, I dyed my hair green again. It looks rad.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fridge)
One of my favourite all-time dishes is the Bristol's Phall of the Empire, which is so spicy that they used to look at you funny if you actually ordered it. It has been known to induce hallucinations, and no, I am not exaggerating. Sadly, it is both not vegan and not as spicy as it used to be (that, or my tolerance has shot way up), so it became necessarily to learn how to make it myself.

I am committed enough to this that I've been growing my own ghost peppers, although they only started ripening today, so this is made using ghost peppers that [livejournal.com profile] sphinctourist brought me. I'm also attempting to save the seeds so that I can have fresh ghost peppers throughout the winter, so we'll see how that goes. Anyone have any advice for me, I'd welcome it.

There are a number of phall recipes floating around on the intertubes, most involving meat, and none of them quite satisfactory. I used this to do the cauliflower part, and adapted this to do the curry itself.

It came out pretty well:

IMG_6852IMG_6854

Anyway, the recipe needs considerable adaptation; I'm wondering if it was perhaps translated from another language. Not to mention that looking at multiple phall recipes did not give me an indication of how many peppers to actually use. So here, for future reference (mainly mine, though I'd be super-interested in hearing about anyone else's attempts!), is what I ended up doing.

PHALL! )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fridge)
This one is even better than the last one. This is probably the best cheesecake. It involves lavender from my yard.

lavendercheesecake2

Recipe )
Other things I made: Two more jars of pickles and lavender soap. The soap doesn't appear to be setting, which is worrisome. I may have put too much liquid in it.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fridge)
OKAY KIDS GATHER 'ROUND I'm gonna tell you all how to make a vegan cheesecake.

So, now it's out that I've gone all strident irritating vegan, etc., but cheesecake is my favourite thing in the world and I'm quite good at it. I've eaten vegan cheesecake before and it was very good, and I've searched high and low for a recipe that would work for me. There are a lot, but I'm picky as fuck and none were perfect, so I've invented my own based on a composite of multiple recipes that contained bits that I liked.

Sabs' requirements for a cheesecake:

1) Crust is not optional and should be made of some sort of cookie or biscuit crumbs. No pre-made crusts ever.
2) Innards must be light and fluffy.
3) It has to involve actual baking. I'm sure all the no-bake recipes I see around are tasty, but for fuck's sake, human civilization did not evolve for 200,000 years to have us eat our food raw.
4) Ingredients must be readily available at a normal grocery store, not some hippie health food bollocks. That means no "vegan cream cheese"; that is cheating, and also expensive. Most importantly, vegan cheese is an Abomination Unto the Lord.
5) I should be able to afford to make this thing. This rules out cashew as a filling, much as it sounds very tasty and I know I'd like it.
6) Must be easy to modify. I made chocolate mint because that's my favourite, but you should be able to make it whatever flavour you want without much in the way of extra work. For example, I found an excellent-sounding pumpkin one, but pumpkin is for fall, not July, and it seemed to heavily rely on pumpkin as a filling/binding agent.

With this said, I believe I now have the answer, which I will share with you.

IMG_6560
LOOK AT THIS THING IT IS A MASTERPIECE

Instructions and more photos )

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