Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Better Than Chicken Nuggets" Nuggets

I have made that recipe twice for meat lovers, and they absolutely loved it. Plus, they are much healthier, and cruelty-free (obviously)!



"BETTER THAN CHICKEN NUGGETS" NUGGETS

Ingredients

Olive oil (just enough to cook the mushrooms and onions)
1 onion, diced
3 artichoke hearts, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups of mushrooms, minced (it can be white mushrooms or a mixture of white and shimeji or others)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/4 cup of oats (not the fast cooking kind!)
Water
White flour
Vegetable oil to fry

Directions

Cook the onions in a little bit of olive oil until they are translucent. Add the mushrooms, artichokes and then the garlic. Salt. Cook the mushroom until they shrink in size and lose a lot of their water. Add the oats to the mushroom mixture. The oat will cook with the liquid from the mushroom first. Once the liquid as completely absorbed, add water to cover the mushroom and oat mixture completely and let it cook again until the water is all evaporated/absorbed. You will have a mushy mixture.

Let it cool down a little before making the balls, otherwise you will burn yourself!

Prepare a bowl with with flour in it. Once the mixture is cool enough for you to touch it, form nuggets with the dough and coat them with white flour with the flour bowl. Put aside. Repeat until you have no more dough left.

Fry the nuggets in hot vegetable oil until brown on all sides. Place on a plate with paper towel to get rid of the excess oil.

Enjoy!

Side Dish: Deluxe Green Salad with Pears, Tomatoes, Artichokes and Pesto Dressing

How about a Deluxe Green Salad to serve with your main course?


DELUXE GREEN SALAD WITH PEARS, TOMATOES, ARTICHOKES AND PESTO DRESSING

Ingredients

2 pears, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 can of artichoke hearts
Pesto sauce 
Flax seeds
Salad leaves

If you don't have pesto at hand, you can make it using the recipe found at the end of that post.

Directions

It's simple. Mix all the ingredients until the flax seeds and serve it on a bed of salad leaves.



Side Dish: Zucchini with a Cashew and Pesto Sauce

You don't know what to make as a side dish? Try these: Zucchini served with a cashew and pesto sauce. Super simple, yet so tasty!



ZUCCHINI IN A CASHEW CREAM AND PESTO SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 sliced zucchini
Pesto sauce (vegan please)
Cashew cream
Olive oil to fry the zucchini
Salt to taste

Directions:

Cook the zucchini in a frying pan in a little bit of olive oil. Add salt when they start to be translucent. The salt with help the water to come out and leave them soft (that's how I like my zucchini). Once they are well cooked, you can make the sauce by mixing the cashew cream and pesto together. Poor the sauce over the zucchini.

If you don't know how to make cashew cream, it's quite easy:

CASHEW CREAM

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw cashew nuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup of filtered water (depending on the thickness you want)
A pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. You can soak the cashew nuts in water for 2 hours before if you feel your blender would work too hard, but it's optional.

PESTO

Ingredients:

2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/2 of nuts (of your choice, it can be pine nuts, cashew nuts or walnuts)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

Add a little bit of water if you find the mixture too thick and your blender can't blend the mixture well.

Super Easy Tofu Eggless Salad Sandwich

I used to love egg salad sandwiches! Whenever there was a cold buffet, that was the only sandwiches I would eat. I always had an aversion for tuna or chicken sandwiches, bleh. Now I am also grossed out by eggs.

So this recipe is much better, for the environment, the health, and your taste buds!

The sandwiches are not soggy either so you can put them in a Tupperware and eat them at work for lunch, like I did.


SUPER EASY TOFU EGGLESS SALAD SANDWICH

Ingredients

1 pack of firm tofu
1/3 cup of vegan mayo
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado
Salad leaves
1 tomato, sliced
8 slices of 12 grain bread

Directions

To make the salad: Blot the tofu so that it loses most of its liquid. Put it in a mixing bowl along with the mayo, mustard and salt and pepper. Mash and mix it well until you get a mixture that looks a little like an egg salad. Put aside.

To make the sandwich: Mash the avocado and spread it on one slice of bread. Add two thin slices of tomatoes on top. Spoon the tofu mixture on the tomatoes and top with a little bit of salad. Close the sandwich with another slice of bread. Repeat the process three other times. You will  have a total of four sandwiches.

Testing Recipes: Raw Vegan Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

I was craving for chocolate at decided to try out Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl's recipe for a raw vegan chocolate molten lava cake. Please visit her page for the recipe!

First of all, her picture is amazing and looks incredibly delicious. As a vegetarian, one of my favourite treats was chocolate lava cakes. I even sinned a few times when I first became vegan with those. It was so hard to control myself around those! So when I found her recipe, I decided to try it out.

I changed her recipe a little, to fit with what I had on hand. And I was not as happy as I thought I would be. I guess her cake didn't taste quite like I expected. You know, the deception you get when you are craving for something, and you get something similar, but it's not quite what you wanted in the first place. That's how I felt. Certainly her recipe is delicious, and a lot more healthy than the usual cake.

I needed to add some sugar though. It was not sweet enough for my liking (but obviously that's just my preference).

I also think I used the wrong kind of nuts for the crust. I used walnuts. I thought it was going to be the best option, because my raw vegan brownies recipe asks for walnuts and the taste is simply out of this world! But it was not good for this recipe, maybe I should have tried nuts with a softer taste.

I was not found of the peanut butter taste in the sauce either. I would have done without. But again, that's just me.

Still, look at the end result. Mine is not as pretty as hers, but it's not bad. :)



I will definitely do this recipe again, and post the new results. Any advice as to what to use to make it better?

I want to clarify: Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl's recipe is delicious. I just screwed it up by choosing the wrong ingredients!

Chocolate Rocher Bars

When I was a kid, my parents took us (my brother, sister and I) to the North of Quebec.

Back then, my family was really religious, and we were part of a cult. The cult was fairly small. There were I think a total of 5 churches all over Quebec (and it only exists in Quebec). Now, I know at least two of those churches became independent. And in the North, there was only a family. Not sure how they came to know of the existence of our church, but the church members regularly went to visit them during their summer vacation. I don't know if they are still part of the church or not.

Anyway, although I think that cult messed up my mind for a long time, there was at least one good thing I got out of it (because you always have too look at the bright side of things, right?) And I got it from that trip. That lady in the North of Quebec, she made awesome chocolate rocher cookies!

Seeing we liked the cookies so much, my mom asked for the recipe, and we have been making them at home regularly.

I decided to shape them into chocolate bars instead of cookies. They are super easy to make, and delicious. Ah, and I veganized the recipe too, obviously.


CHOCOLATE ROCHER BARS

Ingredients

1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of vegan margarine
2 cups of vegan sugar
6 table spoons of cacao powder
3/4 cup of peanut butter
1 tea spoon of vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups of oats (not quick cooking oats)

Instead of the peanut butter, you can also use chopped walnuts.


Directions

Mix the first three ingredients in a pot and heat it over medium heat until the margarine is melted. Bring to a boil and stir well until smooth. Lower the heat and add the cacao powder. Remove from the heat and pour in the rest of the ingredients (peanut butter, vanilla, and oats). Pour the mixture in a rectangular Pyrex plate. Flatten the mixture out with a spoon and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

It should be kept cold in the fridge after that. If you keep it at room temperature, it will become too gooey and sticky.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vegan General Tao Tofu

Today is a beautiful day: nor cold, nor hot, nor too sunny nor too cloudy. I even get to spend some alone time at home, relaxing (writing). It's really the perfect day, so I decided to treat myself to my favourite tofu recipe: Vegan General Tao Tofu!



GENERAL TAO TOFU

Ingredients

1 block of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup flour (or cornstarch if you prefer)
Vegetable oil to fry
1 table spoon of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 table spoon of freshly grated ginger (or in powder, like me, since I didn't have any fresh one on hand)
1/4 cup of water
Half a cube of low-sodium vegetable broth
4 table spoons of sugar
2 table spoons of vinegar
2 table spoons of low sodium soy sauce
Green onions to garnish

Preparation

Cut the tofu into bit size cubes, place in a bowl and coat them generously with flour. In a sauce pan, heat the frying oil and fry the tofu cubes once the oil is hot enough. Fry them on all sides until they are golden brown. Set the tofu aside on a plate cover with paper towels to get rid of the excess oil. In another sauce pan (or the same if you get rid of the frying oil), cook the garlic and ginger in a little bit of oil. Add the water, the vegetable broth, the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Mix until the sauce thickens. Place the tofu again in the sauce and mix to cover it with sauce.

Serve the tofu with rice and sprinkle with green onions.

P.S. It's one of my boyfriend's favourite food too! But I was naughty and ate everything all by myself. No worries, I will probably make it again this weekend for him to eat too.

One More Story About Victim Blaming...When Will It End?

This post is not about food. Although maybe food would comfort me in such times. Something happened recently, to someone I know, and it has been quite shocking to me. I thought the people around me were different. I thought they were not the bad guys. Or at least, not the ones to perpetuate victim blaming... I needed to share the story.



I will use false names, and since I have no imagination right now, I will be using a name generator!

A friend of mine, Sandra, came to me recently for advice. She told me her brother, Matthew, recently started dating this girl, Karen. Sandra liked Karen at first. She was saying she was open-minded. She could tell her anything. She would not judge. So far so good.

Karen has a baby from some other guy, let's call him Bobby. And Bobby's job in life is to fix computers. Karen and Bobby are still in good terms, for the baby's sake it seems. So, when Sandra had a problem with her computer, she brought it over to Bobby's house for him to fix it.

Now, Karen and Matthew were at Bobby's house and saw that Bobby downloaded dirty pictures of Sandra from her computer. She had them there for her boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, since she now is single. Doesn't matter.

So Karen and Matthew deleted the pictures from Bobby's computer and told Sandra about it. Sandra feels awful. She is embarrassed. She feels violated. She is scared of what Bobby could do with those pictures. What does he plan to do with them? Put them on the Internet? Keep them for his own pleasure? Even this makes Sandra feel uncomfortable, she does not want him to have her pictures, she does not want him to do anything with them either.

She told Karen she wants to talk to Bobby, to tell him how she felt. Karen told her not to, that she would handle it. Bobby comes at Sandra's house (she lives with Karen, Matthew, her Father and another brother...oh and the baby, Bobby's daughter) to babysit the baby. Sandra says she does not feel comfortable to be around Bobby any more, and that she wishes he was not babysitting the baby in the house.

Karen told Sandra to tell it go already, to move on, to stop talking about it. But Sandra still doesn't feel comfortable. She started asking herself if she should go to the police. I adviced her to. For me, this kind of thing is not to be taken slightly. She talked with other people. Her father. But he only agree that what Bobby did was wrong. He didn't seem to want to tell Bobby not to come back. He doesn't seem to understand how Sandra does not feel comfortable with him around. She talked to her mom. Her mom told her: "What were you doing with those kind of pictures anyway?"

People seem not to understand how she really feels. And it seems like an opinion shared by many people.


(I don't really think Ricky Gervais is saying it's the celebrities' fault here. Although I am sure some people could understand it that way.)

I asked Sandra if she wanted me to try to talk with her dad about it. I did. He told me he would see what Sandra wants to do.

Finally, she went to the police with one of her aunts. Because she needed the moral support to go there. To go to the police is a scary thing. The police listened to her story, and they took her side (At least one good thing! Some victims are also blamed or not taken seriously when they go to the police...I am glad this story is not one of those!). They wanted to meet with Bobby. They went to Sandra's house, because this was where Bobby was, again. With the baby.

The police got Bobby into their car. They interrogated him, and recorded the conversation. They then went to ask Matthew and Karen about their version of the story.

"Sandra exaggerates a lot," Matthew said. "Bobby didn't do anything with the pictures, he just saved them."

"It's her fault anyway", said Karen. "She is the one who told us there were dirty pictures of her in her computer. So it's her fault."

The police went back to talk to Sandra and made her listen to a part of what Bobby said. He basically said that he downloaded the pictures, yes, but he did not do anything with them. He wasn't going to either. He wasn't going to post them online!

So basically, in his head, he was innocent. He confessed to doing something illegal (downloading the pictures) without thinking it was really bad. For him the real crime was uploading them. Certainly, it would have been much worst if he did in fact upload the pictures to the Internet.

But just saving the pictures without her permission is illegal. And immoral. I know morals are not universal and all, but to me, using somebody's body, or the images of it, without the person's content, for your own pleasure, it is at least objectification. And that's just wrong. It should be like a basic human right.

Anyway, the police asked Sandra if she wanted to press charges. And I guess she felt scared, like so many people do. The burden of bringing someone in court, of getting a lawyer, of fighting... She decided not to press charges and thought that maybe now Bobby would understand what he did was wrong and wouldn't do it again. Because, imagine, if his job is to fix computers, and many people have dirty pictures of themselves, of their partners or exes on there...how many computers or sexy pictures could come into his hands?

So the police let him go, and Sandra's father told him not to come back in the house.

I thought the story would end there, but there are other consequences. Karen and Matthew are very angry against Sandra. They say she is just a liar or she seriously misunderstood what they said.

I asked Sandra, because it seemed weird to me, why is it she thinks Karen told her about that story in the first place? She thinks Karen told her to vent about Bobby. Because when they were together, Bobby and her used to fight about him having a collection of dirty pictures (now, I am supposing that those were acquired legally). So she was just complaining how much a bad guy Bobby actually is. But then I asked again, if she wants him to pass off as a bad guy, what is she trying to protect him now, and says Sandra is lying? According to Sandra, it's because she needs a babysitter for her daughter; and Bobby is always available. So she is choosing convenience over what is right.

These are just assumptions, but I cannot think of why else Karen would do that... Or maybe it's the idea of having a sexual offender as an ex that is not fun for her. Maybe. I remember when my mother's ex-boyfriend (she was still dating him at the time) was arrested for sexually abusing 5 under-aged girls, my mom took it hard too. She didn't want to believe it. Instead, she bailed him out to give him the chance to hire a better lawyer, something that got her the disapproval of many of her co-workers. So maybe it's just hard to admit. Maybe Karen just wants to convince herself that what Bobby did is nothing serious, and that Sandra really is exaggerating. But if that is the case, that is also problematic. This is just wrong.

I talked with Matthew on Facebook, and he told me again that Sandra is exaggerating.

"He was fixing her computer and saw her pictures. To get revenge because Karen left him for me, he saved them. But he never intimidated her," he said.

"But you understand that just saving the pictures is illegal?" I asked him.

Here is the original conversation in French, for those of you who can understand.



Then he changed his story.

"He didn't saved the pictures. He just looked at them. I asked him and when he lies, his lip trembles."

"But how is "just" looking at the pictures a revenge?" I asked again.

He stopped answering.


(Why is this screen shot grey? Hum...Never mind.)

It's also weird that in Sandra's version (or the version they supposedly told Sandra first), Karen and Matthew were the ones erasing the pictures from the computer. Now, they did not delete anything but they were there when Bobby looked at the pictures? Or how would they know? 

A few days later, Sandra came back to talk to me and told me that her father has allowed Bobby back in the house. What?

Bobby swore he won't do it again, and to her dad, that was enough. I guess her father just feels that he does not want to fight over all of this. Sandra tells him how uncomfortable she feels with him around. But she is being told (by Matthew and Sandra, the father keeps quiet) to stop being so dramatic about it.

Now Sandra is thinking about moving out from her father's house. She feels everybody is against her there.

End of the story.

So what do you think? Have you ever experienced something similar? I have to say I am quite shocked about all of this. I knew victim blaming existed. I knew they blame the victims of rape for being raped because of what they wear, because of where they were, with who they were, etc. I knew some families turn a blind eye because the aggressor is a family member. What I don't understand is how can her own family turn on her like this? I am shocked. It really proves just how much rape culture is present in our society. Horrible. Just horrible.

Vegan Poutine

I haven't had a lot of time to cook lately. I have been running after some papers for the wedding, and facing the chaotic Brazilian bureaucracy. I am getting married next month actually. It happened all quite fast. In my last post, I was saying how I thought my boyfriend's family did not approve of me because I am not Jewish. Well, his parents seemed to have gotten used to the idea now, and they approve of it, although they'd wish I were Jewish. His other relatives (like his paternal grandmother and uncle) say I look like a nice girl, but that it is too bad I am not Jewish. So this is where it stands. But we are getting married anyway.

I thought it would happen later during the year, but my boyfriend wants it to happen as soon as possible. Hurry much? Well, I think he is more worried about my status in Brazil and wants to regularize everything. It's true that it would be better for me. I would be more independent, financially and all.

Anyway.

I have been incredibly busy and have not had the time to cook, as I said. Still, on Wednesday night, I got home early and was able to cook a little. I made this vegan poutine.



For those of you who don't know what poutine is, it's a French Canadian speciality, fast food. It typically consists of French fries, curd cheese and beef gravy. My version was slightly healthier: roasted fries, home-made vegan cheese and home-made vegan gravy.

CHEESE

Ingredients

1/2 cup of raw cashews soaked over night
1 cup of hot water
1/4 cup of agar-agar powder
3 table spoons of tapioca powder
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Half a bell pepper (I chose a yellow one for the colour)
A pinch of sea salt
Juice from half a lemon

I wish I had nutritional yeast powder to add to the recipe, to give it a slightly cheesier flavour, but it's been impossible to find in Brazil. Also, instead of water, you could use some vegan milk of your choice (preferably unsweetened), but I ran out.

Preparation

Mix everything into the blender until smooth and transfer to a sauce pan. Heat everything on high heat until it simmers and lower the heat to medium low. Keep stirring. The mixture will get very thing, very fast. Keep mixing until it can form a ball. Transfer the mixture into a pot and let it cool to use later. 

I let mine sit in the fridge for about 2 hours before using it. I cut it into bite size pieces and added them to the fries.

General comment: It doesn't quite taste like cheese, so don't be fooled. I love cheese and it has been what is the most difficult for me to stay away from as a vegan, but this cashew cheese goes a long way. It's versatile. I can mix in more herbs, and truffle oil, or maybe a jalapeƱo pepper for some Mexican flavour The possibilities are endless.

FRIES

Ingredients

3 average size potatoes
Oil to coat the potatoes
Sea salt
Thyme

Preparation

Wash the potatoes well and leave the skin on for extra vitamins. Cut them into French fries size strips. Let them soak in water for about an hour, that is to lose some of their starch and get them crunchier. Drain their soaking water and rinse them. Put them in a dish and coat them with oil, season with salt and thyme. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until crispy.

GRAVY

Ingredients

1 table spoon of olive oil
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour (whole wheat could have worked too)
1 table spoon tomato paste
3 cups of vegetable broth
1 clove garlic
1/2 tea spoon of each, paprika, oregano, black pepper, hot sauce

Preparation

Over medium heat, make a roux with the olive oil and the flour. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Once well combined, add a little of the vegetable broth. Enough to dilute the roux a little. Whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the broth. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Add the spices.

Pour the gravy over the fries and the cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley.


Gosh, I have been craving for poutine for so long. It totally satisfied my need!