Monday, March 29, 2010

A Food Court Lunch (Tandori) - Conestoga Mall, Waterloo

Remember back in the day when mall food courts consisted of nothing more than a pizza place, a hamburger joint, a Chinese-style place, a french fry shack, a fried chicken stand and maybe (if you were lucky) a sandwich maker? Your choices were essentially deep-fried something or deep-fried something. I'm no young bird or anything, but the 1980s weren't that long ago and it's nice to see that progress is being made in the food-on-the-run arena.

You know by now that I obviously don't condone an overindulgence in fast food and as much as I would like to say I am highly adept at managing my time so that I don't ever need to rely on it, the truth is that life often gets in the way of making healthy, at-home meals with fresh ingredients every single night. Sometimes, the convenience (and your sanity) on particularly crazy days is worth more than avoiding fast food. Although relying on certain chain restaurants does call into question the ethics of supporting companies that employ seriously questionable methods of running their businesses and so regardless of the veggie options available to you, you may elect to not partake in them. This is something that is up to each individual vegan, of course.

The good news is that these days there are a lot more options for vegans in the mall food court than a veggie burger and fries from the fast food standards many of us have come to know (and loathe). You may even be able to get something on your plate that resembles an actual vegetable.

While doing some shopping with my mom today I sat down to this meal, from Tandori. It's a mixed vegetable curry, masala potatoes, basmati rice and a garden salad. The staff at this particular Tandori are great for recognizing what vegans choose to not eat and know exactly what is in all of their selections. Sure, it's still fast food, so the nutritional breakdown and caloric content may be a bit hazy. And at $10.00, this meal is admittedly more than the food-court favourite slice of pizza, but at least you're eating real food.

I do wish, however, they (and all the other food court franchises) used more sustainable and easily-biodegradable packaging and utensils.

I'm sure this isn't news to all you big-city folk, but I honestly never thought I'd see the day when my lil hometown would have an Indian-style option and fresh vegetables available in its mall food court...I just had to share!

550 King Street North (Conestoga Mall)
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 5W6
(519) 884-4509

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Falafel

I've declared my love for falafel many times here at This is Vegan, so naturally I have been very excited about trying this sweet potato version, recipe from Fat Free Vegan. The base is potatoes, not chickpeas, so obviously they taste nothing like traditional falafels. I mention this in case anyone who wants to try them is expecting the deep-fried variety made famous at street vendors in big cities and not because I think their lack of traditionalism is a flaw. I already have a wonderful authentic falafel recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and so I was excited to find a unique take on the little chickpea'd wonder that could. Variety is the spice of (vegan) life, after all.

I think potatoes have gotten a bum rap in our carb-and-calorie obsessed society. For those who only eat the deep-fried variety, this bad reputation is probably warranted. When you pull a potato out of the deep fryer it practically ceases to be a vegetable, especially if it is the freezer aisle or fast food restaurant variety. These "fries" are usually just a little bit of potato and a whole lot of preservatives, sodium and attempts at flavour enhancement. Which seems kind of strange, because potatoes are so naturally flavourful, but when you pump them full of all sorts of chemicals so that they can have a longer shelf life it's no surprise that flavour is often lacking.

So yes, in that case I would agree that there is something wrong with the potato. But it's not the potato's fault. What's harmful are our attempts at playing scientist and testing just how much junk we can cram into something and still have it be edible. I believe the potato itself, especially the nutrient-rich sweet potato in all its vitamin A glory, is a suitable staple for most diets. That being said, eating an excess of potatoes (or anything, really), even the way that nature intended them to be eaten, becomes problematic if it is all you eat. The potato should never be the only vegetable that makes an appearance on your plate day in and day out (a concept all but lost in our 'meat and potatoes' society).

So, here is a way to eat your potato for the sake of eating your potato and not at the expense of other vegetables. A falafel platter is the perfect way to enjoy a variety of raw vegetables, and that is exactly what we did. I chopped up some bell pepper, red onion, cucumber (a falafel MUST!) and tomato. Susan V suggests serving this unique spin on falafel with a yogurt-tahini sauce, but since I am not crazy about the taste of soy yogurt I made a roasted red pepper and almond hummus instead (recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan).

These little guys make for a great lunch or dinner, but they also heat up wonderfully and so would make a great appetizer or finger food for your next cocktail party. Just whip up a bowl of hummus and arrange these little balls around it - your guests, vegan or otherwise, will love them. We enjoyed them on their own in this manner, but also stuffed some in whole grain pitas.

The recipe is found here for those of you who want to try these out. Let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grilled Curried Tofu with Tamarind Lentils

I couldn't resist trying one more recipe out of Veganomicon before putting it into regular cookbook rotation. Okay, so this is technically two recipes. But it's all part of one meal, so it's not really cheating.

This is a pretty self-explanatory Indian-themed meal so I don't even know how to blog about it; I just wanted to share that it was awesome. If you happen to own Veganomicon, you should give it a try.

I did have a bugger of a time finding tamarind paste. I've heard that it is difficult to find a vegan tamarind paste, as they apparently often contain fish oils. I couldn't find any at all, vegan or otherwise. And of course the week I decide to make these lentils the Asian grocer two doors down from the clinic where I work decides to close its doors.

I did find it eventually, although it says right on it that after it's been opened it expires after 7 days. I'm about to test this theory, however, since I don't plan on using it all up during that tiny window of time and I refuse to throw out a $6.00 jar of spicy paste after only using it once. I wonder if I can freeze it?

Anyway, these are the best lentils I've ever had, and I have loved me some lentils in my day. Small but mighty, their nutritional value cannot be understated - they are full of dietary fiber, have iron levels that are fun to throw in vegan naysayer's faces and just one cup of them contains 90% of your suggested daily folate intake (and believe me, you'll eat more than one cup of these tamarind lentils). Whatever you do though, buy dried lentils and cook them up. It only takes about 20 minutes and they are so much more flavourful than the canned variety.

The tofu that I made alongside the lentils highlights one of my favourite things about Veganomicon. It's not just a book of recipes, but also serves as a vegan cooking textbook, offering advice and guidance as you move about your kitchen. This can be very useful for folks who aren't accustomed to working with certain vegan staples, like tofu.

Tofu is versatile, which is why we love it, but its flexibility is precisely what makes it a bit overwhelming sometimes. A lot of newbie veg*ns are intimidated by tofu (pressing, marinating, grilling, baking, stir frying, broiling, poaching - who's not going to be a smidge intimidated?) and the authors of this cookbook do what they can to present you with very thorough options for preparing your tofu.

My personal favourite way to cook tofu is via the grill. The BBQ is great, but I lived in an apartment for a few years before moving into a house and thus have learned to love the Foreman grill too. Sometimes I love it even more than the BBQ because it's a lot less work to warm a Foreman and clean it afterwards.

If you're grilling tofu I highly recommend freezing it first, letting it thaw completely, pressing it (very important - you want as much water out of the tofu so the marinade can seep in) and then marinating it for at least an hour, flipping often. I don't understand the science behind it, but freezing tofu gives it a much spongier/chewier texture, which I prefer, especially when grilling. It is also a bit firmer and less likely to crumble, which is perfect for grilling whole pieces of tofu like those pictured above.

And don't you dare throw out that marinade (or any marinade) when you're done. You can always spoon a little extra onto your tofu at the very end for an extra boost of flavour, or save it for the next time you do a stir fry. The curry marinade used for this dish made the perfect sauce for the steamed broccoli I paired with kidney beans and garlic at lunchtime today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Salad O'Greens (with Creamy Avocado-Cumin Dressing)

I wore shorts outside yesterday. Shorts! This is all but unheard of for the month of March in my neck of the woods. And at 17C it may have been a smidge premature but the second the majority of the snow on our front lawns has melted us Canadians put on shorts and flipflops. And fire up the BBQ. It's just who we are.

I originally had plans to make a curried tofu dish for dinner but come on. There will be plenty of time for that when the mercury remembers what month it is and drops down next week. I dug out a pack of "in case of emergency" tofurky sausages and some severely freezer-burned hot dog buns and took the lighter out to the grill.

Of course, (wo)man cannot live on tofurky alone, so I decided to make a salad. One of my resolutions for 2010 was to incorporate more raw/living foods into my diet and I have admittedly been slacking in this department. It can be difficult to get excited about zucchini pasta during the winter months. Now that the weather's turned it's time to make more of an effort.

This is a very simple salad of baby spinach, cucumber and green bell pepper. The dressing is creamy avocado-cumin, recipe found here at Choosing Raw.

I didn't even think about it being green, but it was a perfect fit for St. Patrick's Day.

There was plenty of dressing leftover and it served wonderfully as a dip for my mid morning snack of celery sticks and cucumber slices (can you tell I'm trying to drop a few pounds? My usual mid-morning snack usually somehow involves my beloved creamy peanut butter, which has been banished from our cupboards for a little while).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jalapeno-Lime Hummus

Ah, hummus.

Out of all of a vegan's friends, hummus is the one we consider best. She's the one that always seems to be in our picnic baskets and bento boxes. She's the one we count on when we need a snack and we need it quickly. And when we're in unfamiliar party territory, there she is on the buffet table, letting us know that there is at least one vegan-friendly option for us to eat that night. She's fierce and she's loyal - the odds of someone messing with our best friend and combining her with meat or dairy are very low. As such, she is our best bet at not fainting from starvation at cocktail parties.

Not everyone likes hummus. When I was an omnivore I hated it. It just plain tasted weird to me. My sense of taste has undeniably changed since I went vegan and I notice a lot of things that I once-upon-a-time wrote off as too "weird" have since become my favourite foods. I wonder if there is some sort of science behind all of that? It's like when I went vegan someone hit the restart button on my tastebuds and I've discovered a whole new world of flavour that was unbeknownst to me as an omnivore, even though I may have sampled the very same menu item in the past.

Because hummus is our go-to gal (why am I referring to hummus in the feminine?) it's easy to get sick of her. It's like when you're a kid and you're so excited to have a slumber party with the best friend that you know you just can't live without, but at some point in the night you decide you are going to destroy her if she doesn't stop tapping her foot incessantly. Or chewing a certain way. Or breathing. It doesn't mean you love her any less, it just means that you can't hang out with her as much as you thought you could.

That's kind of how it is with hummus. Because it is the perfect vegan go-to item we often abuse our relationship. I know there have been points in my life where I thought I was going to throw up at the mere sight of hummus, after lunching on it every day for several weeks.

The solution? As it is with all things vegan - variety. Before I was vegan I didn't realize how many different kinds of hummus there were out there and so when the standard chickpea-tahini kind didn't float my boat I assumed that hummus wasn't for me.

Nowadays I know that there is a hummus out there for just about everyone. The one pictured above is jalapeno-lime hummus and rather than the more traditional tahini, this hummus is thickened with peanut butter. The recipe is found here at Gluten Free Goddess and I highly recommend that hummus lovers (and hummus haters) give it a try and see if it doesn't win you over. If it doesn't, don't give up on her completely; she just might blindside you one day with a flavour combination you never before considered.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Product Review: Primal Strips

A little while back, the folks at Primal Spirit Foods asked me to do a review of their Primal Strips (vegan jerky).

This had me both excited and nervous. Excited for the obvious reason of getting to stuff my face and try some new recipes. Nervous because I don't like to be overly critical (I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now, but seriously, I always feel like I'm hurting someone's feelings). Because it's not often that I eat pre-made products, I wasn't sure what to expect and I was scared I wouldn't like them and then have to write a bad review (because I would obviously never lie to you, my dear followers). The thought of that made me very, very uncomfortable.

However, I can never say no to free samples (thanks Primal!) and so I very excitedly agreed to do the review.

The company was generous enough to send me two of each of the six flavours. After ripping open the envelope and then subsequently ripping open the packaging on the first strip I got my grubby little hands on, Paul and I decided we needed to enforce some sort of order and attempted objectivity to our sampling. Because there were two of each flavour, we decided that we would first try each flavour on its own as snacks and then try a few of them as a part of more complete meals.

The six flavours are: Texas BBQ, Thai Peanut, Hickory Smoked, Teriyaki, Hot & Spicy and Mesquite Lime. Here is how we felt about them.

Really, the only important criteria when dealing with food is how it tastes. Sure, presentation counts for something, but if it doesn't taste good all other efforts are in vain. And it turns out that all my concerns about not liking them were unwarranted, as we enjoyed each of these flavours. While they were all great, our favourites were Hickory Smoked and Texas BBQ.

Ingredient Variety
As many of you know, me and soy have a love-hate relationship. I eat soy, but I do limit my intake. While some of the Primal options do contain soy isolates (and, I should note, the two that were our flavour-based favourites did) they also offer seitan options that are free of isolated soy, for those following vegan diets where you avoid these isolates (they do, however, list soy sauce as an ingredient so they wouldn't work for those of you who completely avoid soy). Regardless, all of the soy they do use is non-GMO, a necessity when it comes to soy consumption.

When it comes to cruelty-free versions of standard non-vegan items, texture becomes an important criteria for a lot of people. For me, if I eat a pre-packaged foodstuff it's typically because I miss the flavour of something I ate in my non-vegan days and therefore I want it to be a genuine knock-off. I've never had jerky in my life, but Paul has, so he has taken responsibility for addressing texture. When it comes to texture, the most realistic strips were those that contained the isolated soy (no surprise there - isolated soy protein is used because it is so versatile when mimicing the properties of non-vegan items). The seitan-based strips were less realistic but we hardly consider this a reason to not try them. Like I mentioned earlier, taste trumps all, and all of the flavours taste great. To be completely honest, it's been three years since I've had meat and these days, when the texture of something is too authentic tends to give me the heeby jeebies.

These strips work wonderfully for snacking on the go, but they can also add flavour to mealtime. We particularly enjoyed them on sandwiches or in salads.

Mesquite Lime Primal Strip on a toasted tomato and
avocado sandwich.

Hickory Smoke Primal Strip chopped up and tossed into a caesar salad. I was never one for bacon in caesar salads, but this makes a wonderful substitute for those of you who enjoyed that flavour in your pre-vegan days.

Thai Peanut Primal Strip chopped up and tossed into a sesame salad (soba noodles, radishes, carrot, onions and cucumber tossed with sesame oil and soy sauce and served at room temp)

All in all we were very pleased with the quality of these strips and recommend them particularly to those of you who are on the go and need something to tuck quickly into your pocket as you run about your day. We will definitely be stocking up on them for the many camping excursions we have coming up this summer. They were really great as a part of the meals pictured above, but we almost felt like we were wasting their deliciousness by combining them with other foods. We give them a WIN on all three criteria (taste, ingredient variety and texture) and thus are happy to give Primal Strips the This is Vegan: Seal of Approval.

If you try them, I'd love to hear what you think. Check out the Primal website for information on how to buy. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creamy Parsnip-Vegetable Soup

What is it about a bowl of soup that makes even the worst days seem a little bit more bearable? I'm not big on winter and I welcome the change in weather and fresh summer product that goes along with it. I rarely make soup once the mercury starts to rise, so I'm using these last few days of winter to load up on all the winter root vegetables and steaming pots of deliciousness that I can.

Parsnips make me kind of sad. They are delicious and nutritious, but are constantly being overshadowed by their high achieving brother - The Carrot. They are very high in fibre and (listen up ladies of childbearing age) are a great source of folic acid. I like carrots just fine, but between the two I much prefer the parsnip. Especially if potatoes are also somehow involved (when making mashed potatoes I love throwing in some parsnip before mashing, or even after mashing if you're new school and don't mind your mashed taters having lumps). They are also great in lieu of potatoes (parsnip fries, anyone?).

This recipe is from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons. The recipe calls for soy creamer, but you know my aversion to soy in situations where it can be avoided. Instead of creamer, I increased the amount of rice milk and sprinkled in some arrowroot powder to thicken things up. You could also add a bit of oil to make things creamier, but I was trying to keep this as healthy as possible. It may not have been as stick-to-your-ribs as it could have been with the soy creamer, but it was delicious nonetheless!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Penne Vodka

A few weeks ago, the It Ain't Meat, Babe blog (which is awesome and something I recommend you check out regularly) held a Kitchen Fails contest. And since I have many kitchen fails stories, particularly from the just-turned-vegetarian-and-I-don't-know-how-to-cook era, I entered twice (once via the blog and once via Facebook). Low and behold, I won! As my prize, my neighbour to the north sent me a copy of Veganomicon, a cookbook I have been drooling over in many a Chapters aisle since I turned vegan, but never bought because I have so many cookbooks that it's going to take me twenty years to get through all the recipes I want to try (I've got time if you've got time!). Well, let's up that number to 30 years because this cookbook has some really exciting things in it.

Whenever I get a new cookbook, I proceed as follows: I flip through it once. Then I flip through it more thoroughly, marking which recipes I am most interested in. I then add the cookbook to my shelf and subsequent cookbook rotation. I typically try one new dinner recipe a week, so I pull out the cookbook that corresponds with the week and blindly select one of the markers. That is what I make that week. It's a very fair and formal process - I don't like to play favourites with my cookbooks and recipes. For the record, when it comes to recipes I find online I save them in an email and work from oldest to newest. I am just now getting to recipes I copied and pasted over a year ago. If you thought you could get rid of me, take note - This is Vegan will be around forever! Muahahaha.

And now that my obsessive compulsive cookbook habits are out there for the world to gawk at (you should see how uncomfortable and frantic I get if I accidentally mess up the order) I should note that since I just got this cookbook via the mail this past week, this was obviously not its week for a new recipe. But I had to try something and so I found this simple recipe for penne vodka that I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for (except for vodka...but like I need an excuse to go out and buy a bottle of vodka).

My kitchen and myself become a disaster zone when I make pasta sauce. I have not mastered the art of not having it splatter all over the freaking place while it simmers and I try and stir it. Paul always calls my attempts "Dad's Famous Spaghetti Sauce" after this ridiculous infomercial for a cleaning product that we watched in the middle of the night once, where this man is making spaghetti sauce and gets it all over the pristine, white kitchen and the brilliant wife comes in with the cleaning product to show him what an ass he is (as an aside, why are men always portrayed as such idiots in infomercials?). Thankfully our kitchen isn't white, but there was tomato everywhere. I really should learn to wear an apron because this is like the fourth hoodie I've ruined over the last couple of months.

The sauce is quite zippy (thank you red pepper flakes!). Vodka sauce is usually thickened with cream, which of course there are vegan alternatives to, but none that I am particularly fond of, so I was excited that this recipe uses almonds to make the sauce creamy. I love using various nuts for this purpose, as it allows me to proclaim "You're gonna love my nuts" to whomever is within earshot, regardless of their eyerolls and groans. By this point you must think that all I do is sit around and watch infomercials and you're partially correct.

Unfortunately, I only had ground almonds and not slivered almonds, so the sauce thickened but wasn't as creamy as it was supposed to be. Next time. It was still positively incredible and went wonderfully with a side of caesar salad. Thanks again, Jennifer at It Ain't Meat, Babe!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seared Veggie Baked Burritos

You learn something new everyday. Today I learned that the difference between enchiladas and burritos lies in the type of tortilla that is used. Enchiladas have corn tortillas while burritos have flour. I am probably the last person on earth to learn this, but hey, where I live Mexican, TexMex and Southwestern are not the most common styles of cooking. After all, there is only one Mexican-themed restaurant in this city and it opened less than a year ago. Anyway, this knowledge kind of bums me out because what I have been referring to as enchiladas are actually burritos. Being the self-professed "enchilada addict" that I am, it is kind of embarrassing to realize that I have actually never had an enchilada in my life. No one ever said that I was the brightest crayon in the box.

I come bearing a recipe for baked burritos, that I have in the past referred to as enchiladas. These could also double as fajitas (until I actually learn what the difference between burritos and fajitas is and then I will once again call attention to my ignorance and probably have to hang my head in shame for a second time). This recipe was born out of the fajitas that I always order whenever I find myself trying to veganize something at a sportsbar or chain restaurant.

Seared Veggie Baked Burritos

1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin (sometimes, if I'm feelin' crazy, I'll trade the cumin for curry powder!)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 medium-sized zucchini or yellow squash, cubed
1 cup broccoli florets (I use frozen, just because it's easier, but fresh is good too)
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 cups mushrooms, sliced (I used portobello, but plain white mushrooms are fine too)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 can pinto or black beans
6 tortillas (I use 1 pack of the Ezekiel brand)

1 cup salsa (if you have none, just dice up some tomatoes, garlic and onion)
1 large ripe avocado (if you have some on hand, use a full out guacamole instead!)

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly oil a casserole dish (alternatively, you can use extra salsa).

2) In a large frying pan over medium heat, add the oil. Add the onions, and as they get soft add the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin and freshly ground pepper and mix well. Cook for 3 minutes or so, until it becomes really fragrant.

3) Add the zucchini/yellow squash, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms and soy sauce. Crank the heat up to medium-high or high and cook for another 5 minutes or so (the veggies should pick up some sear marks, but keep an eye on the pan so that nothing gets overly burnt). When the veggies are tender but not yet mushy, stir in the beans and remove from heat.

If you want to make these as fajitas, your hard work is all done. Spoon the mixture into a bowl, warm up some tortillas and set out bowls of salsa and fresh chopped tomatoes, lettuce and avocado. Rice would be good too! Set everything out and call the fam to the table where they can prep their own damn dinner for once, amiright?!

If you want to make these into baked burritos, continue to the next step.

4) Spoon the mixture into the center of each tortilla and fold them up. Here are some instructions on how to do that, if you are not familiar.

5) Place the burritos, seam-side down on the casserole dish. Spread the salsa over top of the burritos and bake for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle on the avocado in the last 5 minutes, just so that it warms up nicely.

P.S. I just want to call attention to Monday, March 15 - The International Day of Action for the Seals. It is interesting that this should come so close on the heels of my last post discussing my conflicted experience in cheering for Canada during the Olympics. I say again, I really love living in Canada. But the commercial seal hunt is something I am vehemently, vehemently ashamed of. Ashamed is the only word that I can think of to describe how I feel about this, and that is something you should never feel about your home. My home country is better than this and knows better than this. We have spent the last month proclaiming how awesome we are to the whole world, how polite we are, how humantarian we are, how "peacekeeping" we are and yet our actions on a global scale continually prove that the opposite is the case. I truly believe in Canada and Canadians and that these are not just abstract ideologies of our character, but a part of the very fibre of who we are. And if not who we are, who we can be. Allowing this kind of barbarism to continue in our backyard makes a mockery of the ideals so many of us hold to be true. The commercial seal hunters and the bureaucrats in government who support them bring shame to us on a global scale and highlight nothing but hypocrisy at its finest. The majority of Canadians are opposed to the slaughter, yet the government continues to support it. This will not be yet another instance where those who speak for those who cannot are ignored. It is time for this to end, once and for all. Please take part, in any way you can, Canadian or not, and show that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in our country or in the world.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maple Cupcakes

I have my beefs with the Olympics (can a vegan have 'beefs'?). I generally do think it is a colossal waste of money and am fully aware of the implications that such extravagance has on those who can't afford to be enthusiastic about sports. I think overly indulgent national pride and excessive patriotism are very, very dangerous things that draw imaginary boundaries around us to the point where we resist intrusion and lose sight of our global community - the one we are consistently dependent upon. I think the "us" versus "them" dynamic is a detriment to our existence and makes it all the more easier to ignore the plight of those who don't exist within our country's walls.

At the same time, I can't help but notice what the Vancouver games have done to the country I call home, and the sense of community that they have instilled within us; a country so vast and diverse and thus a country that is consistently engaged in an identity crisis of sorts. The spirit I have seen in my community, among both those born on this soil and those who have immigrated here from all around the world, was something to behold. In my twenty-six years here in southern Ontario I have never witnessed anything like it. Patriotism is quite elusive around these parts. Excessive outward pride in our country is not characteristic of the Canadian life (thank God), but all the same it is cool to see such diverse people rally together as one community.

Plus, the opportunity to play our game in our house was something none of us took for granted.

When it comes to hockey, the Canada vs USA rivalry is one of the fiercest and so when it came down to those two and gold medals it was time to have a little party. I made enough food to feed a small army and we crowded a group in our living room, on couches or chairs or sprawled out on the floor, with beers and chips and big hopes.

And maple cupcakes. With maple syrup, tapped just a couple of kilometres away. How Canadian.

The recipe for these is found in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, but I had to improvise the frosting. They have a cool recipe for a creamy maple frosting (which looks incredible), but I wanted it to be white. I instead used a standard buttercream frosting and rather than vanilla extract I used maple extract.

It could have been the several Molsons or the high that came after Crosby's OT golden goal, but Paul declared these the best cupcakes we have made up to this point. The crappy job we did lettering them aside.

Dora and me, decked out in red and white, waiting for our guests

[GOAL!] I was so excited, I apparently forgot how to focus my lens.

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