Thursday, July 28, 2011

Burrito Boyz



I'm not going to lie, it's kind of been a crappy summer. Between my sprained ankle and the extreme heat and worst of all, our pup falling very seriously ill, there hasn't been a lot of fun going on in and around our house as of late. The one, shining, redeeming moment was the birth our of goddaughter Naya this past week - her arrival was safe and healthy for both Mom and Baby and for that we are so grateful and excited!

Because of all the chaos that Summer '11 has brought our house I'll be the first to admit we've had to rely on convenience food now and again. And while there are many great restaurants that do vegan in KW, I'm always relieved when a new quick and inexpensive option presents itself. Because time crunches suck. As do astronomical vet bills (but not nearly as much as a sick doggy, let me tell you).

Anyway, today I'm going to talk to you about the Burrito Boyz chain, which opened a Waterloo location recently (although probably not too recently - you know I don't get out much). I'm sure this is old news to most of you, but I wanted to blog it anyway.




Why Burrito Boyz? Because they have a vegan burrito. And by vegan burrito I don't mean a veggie burrito. I mean they have a Veggie Soy option, made from TVP, for your complete, filling, tummy-rubbing fast-food-burrito experience.

Just make sure you ask for the vegan guacamole. I'm not sure what is in the regular guac that makes it not vegan, but they keep a vegan one separate and under the counter. The few times we have gone there the staff has specifically asked us (after ordering the Veggie Soy burrito without cheese) if we are vegan and then brought out the vegan guac (love that customer service!). If you aren't asked, be sure to ask them.

Now we just need to get them stocking Daiya!

On behalf of Paul, I will warn you that their hot sauce is not something to be trifled with. Burrito Boyz is not the place for acts of macho bravado. This is coming from two people who drown every meal they prepare in bottled hot sauce. I will not elaborate any further, but consider yourself warned. Don't be a hero.

Burrito Boyz
258 King Street North
Waterloo, ON N2J 2Y9
(519) 747-2690

P.S. Last call for Julie Sheridan as winner of my 3rd Veganiversary Giveaway! I haven't yet heard back from Julie and just recently attempted to contact her through Facebook. If I don't hear anything by Sunday I will draw another name - stay tuned!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers (and the Camping Trip That Didn't Happen)



Longtime readers of TIV will know that we usually go camping at least once every summer. We were slated to spend this weekend at Pinery Provincial Park with our friends and so I've spent the last few weeks stocking up on delicious vegan treats. Obviously, Sweet & Sara vegan marshmallows were the first thing I bought, because what is camping without smores?

While the marshmallow component of traditional smores is the most obviously unvegan thing, it is the graham cracker that often poses the bigger dilemma. I can name off a handful of stores in my area that carry vegan marshmallows now, but graham crackers without honey? Not one.

Some of my Twitter friends pointed out the obvious to me - why not make my own? So that's what I did, using this totally easy recipe from The PPK. Done in less than a half hour (prep time included) and so delicious, they were baked Thursday afternoon and ready to go for our Friday departure.



On Thursday night, however, we got some bad news.

Here in southern Ontario it has been unbearably hot without pause. Day after day of record-breaking temperatures; humidity pushing the mercury well into the 40Cs.

Our five-year-old cairn terrier-poodle mix, Dora, hadn't been eating much all week and was somewhat lethargic although she'd still play with us if we encouraged her and her personality generally remained unchanged. This is not entirely uncharacteristic of her in summer - she's a furry little thing that gets hot easily and a few summers ago she behaved the same way during a particularly brutal heatwave. When the weather returned to normal, so did she. We didn't think much of it until she stopped eating completely Wednesday night and by Thursday we noticed her breathing becoming a little more laboured. Again we thought it was the heat, so we cranked the AC and gave the vet a call.

It was there that we found out that she was extremely anemic, her red blood cell count dangerously low and her white blood cell count off the charts and the vet had absolutely no answers as to why it was happening. At the time it could have been any number of things. It could have been a parasite (i.e. she was bitten by a tick), she could have had internal bleeding, or ate something toxic, or it could have been a tumor or cancer or pretty much any kind of disease/ailment/injury that could explain why her immune system was essentially destroying her. The vet told us it was critical and that a blood transfusion may have to be a reality.

So instead of going camping on Friday we stayed with our pup while they ran a battery of tests - xrays, ultrasounds and bloodwork looking for some answers. And there were none. No cancer or tumours. No signs of internal bleeding or infection. No parasites of any kind. But her red blood cell count continued to drop and her anemia continued to worsen.

By Friday afternoon, they were confident in diagnosing our Dora with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, a doggy disease in which the immune system attacks the body for no apparent reason at all. An unfortunately not all that uncommon illness in dogs that they don't really know the origins of. It often comes straight out of nowhere. Middle-age female dogs are the most likely victims and poodles are one of the predisposed breeds. The most unfortunate part of AIHA is that it takes time to diagnose. Diagnosis is a costly and lengthy process of elimination - it occurs by confirming that there is no other diseases or infections in the body prompting the immune system. That kind of battery testing takes time that many pups don't have because by the time symptoms are severe enough to be noticeable, the anemia has progressed to irreversible stages and you cannot treat it via suppressing the immune system unless you are absolutely certain it isn't an infection or disease sending the white blood cells into overdrive.

We are very, very lucky that we trusted our instincts and took Dora in when we did. Had we chalked it up to the heat and sent her off to the kennel for the weekend like we were supposed to, it is uncertain whether she would have survived.

Because of the official diagnosis, our vet was able to prescribe an immune suppressant on Friday and on Saturday morning, Dora's red blood cell count was up two points. It is a small victory, but after being blind-sided by two emotionally exhausting days with very little certainty, we are celebrating any and all positive news. She remains in the critical stage, but her spirits have improved, as has her appetite, and we are hoping for even more gains at her next blood test tomorrow.

This is likely a disease that will have to be managed indefinitely, but we are hopeful that her quality of life won't be impaired. The next couple days are crucial and the next month or so she will have to be very carefully watched, denied interaction with other pups and be relegated to our house and backyard, until she can taper off of the immune-suppressants and resume normal functioning.

I just wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who sent well wishes via Twitter, and I apologize for the delay in responding to blog-related emails and messages this weekend. But I knew that if anyone would understand the relationship between a human and a companion animal, it would be a vegan or vegan-curious person.

So, we spent a quiet weekend at home with our Dora, watching TV and eating the junk food deliciousness we bought for our camping trip.

And so I present to you a microwave smore - obviously not of the same caliber as a campfire smore, but something that will do in a pinch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This is Vegan: 3rd Veganiversary Giveaway - And the winner is.....



Thanks so much to everyone who entered my 3rd Veganiversary Giveaway contest. Over the past few weeks 99 entries were submitted via Blogger, Facebook and Twitter! In the process of doing the giveaway I have connected with some great new people and I hope you will all continue to be a part of This is Vegan in the future.

To determine a winner, I assigned every entry a number and then let a Random Number Generator do the dirty work:



And the winner was.......




Congratulations Julie!!!! And my apologies for spelling your last name wrong in my notes - this giveaway had me feeling a wee bit like Santa on Red Bull and I was extremely worked up over the prospect of getting to use the Random Number Generator that I googled weeks ago. So much so that in my typing fury I appear to have hit "e" instead of "a". So sorry about that! Either way, you are now the proud owner of these two Vegan lifestyle staples:





To claim your prize, please e-mail me at mary@thisisvegan.com with your mailing address and I will ship them out to you ASAP.


For those of you who didn't win, fear not, I will certainly be doing more giveaways in the future.

Thanks again for helping me celebrate my 3rd veganiversary. Here's to another year of veggie goodness!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No Bake Banana-Mango Tarts (and a raw vegan picnic in the park!)



We are experiencing a drought that is starting to feel a bit too biblical for my comfort. It's been so hot that I've even resorted to putting our central air on, which believe me, I never do. I can think of about a million other things I'd rather spend money on than a bloated hydro bill.

Honestly, we just turned it on for our little dog, who is exceptionally furry and spent a considerable amount of her time flopping around on the floor uncomfortably, looking at us with her sad eyes until we finally gave in.

Since it is so hot and dry and since my AC is pumping and my bank account is draining, I'm trying to not add any additional heat to the mix via the oven. At least until temps start to cool down a bit. Which means it is the perfect time to experiment with raw recipes!

It was particularly convenient that the July event for the KW Raw Food Meet-Up Group was a picnic-style potluck because I'm trying to not eat sweets right now and this way I could sample some while giving the rest away.

The event took place this past Sunday at Victoria Park in Kitchener. It was a blisteringly hot day, but our fearless organizers Sasha of Blyssful Health and Michelle secured us some picnic tables in the shade and all of the attendees made sure we had plenty of refreshingly raw foods to snack on.

I made a raw caesar salad (a tried and true Eat, Drink and Be Vegan recipe that I've used for years) as well as the tarts pictured above for dessert.

Now, I've never attempted any sort of raw dessert in my life. I've barely even made anything raw, and when I have it's been a simple salad dressing or a dip or something. I've never tried making a dessert that in unbaked and needs to - at least slightly - hold together in extreme temperatures.

I was scared, but I wanted to try. So I turned to one of my favourite blogs and a really awesome resource on the versatility of the raw vegan lifestyle: Addicted to Veggies and looked for the simplest dessert recipe she had.

This was it!

Because it was a potluck with many dessert options, I made the tarts sample size rather than full size. While pretty much anything melts in these temperatures, the tarts held their taste well. Thanks to AtV for helping me get over my fear of raw dessert preparation. The summer is young and I can't wait to try more of Sarah Fae's recipes.

And here are some photos of the other raw dishes we got to sample at the picnic. I tried to get pictures of everything but then I became preoccupied with consuming as much as my body would allow and I lost all track of what I was doing. Here's what I did get!







Raw falafels



Broccoli Mash



Gravy for the mash



Cabbage roll-ups



My massive plate of goodies! You can see raw tostatas there that I didn't get a shot of individually - so yum!



Power cookie balls!



Carrot cake



Deliciously rich raw chocolate cake



If you are in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and are interested in eating delicious food, consider our meet-up group! This is my second event and my second time leaving feeling inspired and rejuvinated with regard to my vegan journey. Group members reflect a variety of diets and it is the perfect place to learn more about a whole-foods, plant-based diet via great food and great conversation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Raw Vegan at Marbles, Waterloo



Marbles, located in the Uptown Waterloo area of KW, has been a favourite spot of mine for years and years, since long before I went vegan. It's a cozy little restaurant with a great patio and big pitchers of sangria in the summertime, and they have always been very accommodating of my vegan diet by letting me make substitutions and change menu items if need be.

They have one-upped even that, though, and are now offering raw vegan and gluten-free options as permanent menu staples!



This is awesome for so many reasons. Most obviously, I am happy because the more vegan dining options out there in the world, the better. Anytime I can order more than a side garden salad with no dressing is a win in my books. But I also love it because even though the restaurant is not a full-on vegetarian restaurant, it does not shy away from using the term "vegan" right there on the menu. I think it's important to acknowledge this, because the term vegan often still carries a stigma in non-vegan restaurants - at least it seems to anywhere outside the larger cities of North America. At Marbles, not only are vegan options proudly presented, raw vegan ones are.

Honestly, I think raw vegan is the best option for restaurants looking to welcome the non-carnist population, because it covers everyone's needs. I've always found it kind of weird on airplanes and at weddings when there is a vegetarian meal and a vegan meal - for simplicity sake wouldn't it make sense to serve one meal that accommodates all parties? It's not like vegetarians can't eat something without eggs and cheese, right? Similarly, it's not like most of us vegans can't eat raw every now and again. Raw vegan is a great way to accommodate all of the varied plant-based diets out there.

Marbles does just that, offering these three menu options as well as raw vegan specials that vary according to the day/week and are posted on the chalkboard in the restaurant. Because they are raw, however, raw honey may be used in some items so be sure to ask your server which options are without. Honey is a hot topic in the vegan world and I'm not here to debate it, I just want you to know that there are plenty raw vegan sans honey options at Marbles. The food is made in-house and everyone in the restaurant seems to know what is going on and can help you figure out what you want to eat.



I got the Raw Vegetable Tower, which is essentially a raw vegan lasagna. It was absolutely incredible. I can't say enough good things about it. It was so good that we actually ordered a second one and I brought it home for Paul because I wanted him to try it so badly (he also gives it his seal of approval, many times over).



Raw Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
I'm not supposed to be having sweets right now. But if there is a raw vegan dessert available at one of my favourite restaurants that never before had a vegan dessert, it is unrealistic to expect me to not order one. Not only a raw vegan dessert, but a raw vegan cheesecake. Cheesecake being the operative word. My absolute favourite dessert from my pregan days. The universe can't expect me to not order it. It just isn't right or just or acceptable in any capacity.
This cheesecake in particular is one of those things where I feel like I could carry on for hours about how great it is but at the same time it's the kind of experience that completely transcends words. For real. Just go and order it and you will understand the seemingly excessive nature of that statement. I don't care if you are vegan, or if you are raw, or if you just had a giant steak for lunch. You will like this cheesecake and you will consider going back the next day just to have another slice (which is pretty much where I am right now).


As a previously self-professed Raw Vegetable Hater, I am so happy that I've gotten more into raw foods as of late. I feel so amazing after finishing a raw vegan meal. I have more energy and I stay full longer, making me far less snack-y than I usually am. It just feels awesome.

Now that we are in the middle of this rainless, heat-wave of a summer, it's the perfect opportunity to head over to Marbles and see just how rewarding and refreshing a raw vegan meal can be.

You have to get the cake though. I won't take no for an answer.

Marbles Restaurant
8 William Street East
Waterloo, ON N2J 1K9
(519) 885-4390

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ginger "Chicken"



I'm notorious for using dried herbs in place of fresh ones. Because I'm lazy. And because I always buy these giant things of cilantro, use 1/4 cup and forget about the rest until I open a refrigerator drawer weeks later and am knocked down by the smell of slimy, decaying greenery. I know that fresh versus dried often changes the entire taste of a meal and so I'm probably usually missing something by using dried. And I know the logical solution would be to use the fresh herbs I buy in multiple dishes throughout the week.

But my brain just doesn't work that way. So dried herbs it is.

I'm the same way with ginger. I rarely use fresh ginger because I just don't think to buy fresh ginger even though it keeps forever and a day in the freezer.

But when this How It All Vegan recipe came up in my little Recipe Tester Roster last week I knew I couldn't cheap out and used dried ginger. So Paul found some alarmingly potent ginger root that our produce guy assured us was the best fresh ginger in the city.







One cool tip we learned (via YouTube, naturally) is to peel the ginger with a teaspoon as opposed to a knife or potato peeler of some sort. It works really well!



I am actually quite terrible at making seitan and my mom is not, so she kindly makes me a crapload of the stuff every now and again that I then wrap in individual portion sizes and freeze. Being that it takes almost an hour to make fresh seitan, I highly recommend spending an afternoon every couple months seitan-ing and freezing rather than trying to make it fresh everytime you want to add a little protein boost to your dinner.



Once the seitan is done the rest of the meal comes together in twenty minutes, which is about the amount of time you need to cook some brown rice and steam some broccoli.

Now, this recipe uses a lot of ginger. A lot. And that's great, because ginger is really good for you, particularly your gastrointestinal system. It's known for alleviating nausea, dizziness, cold sweats, vomiting and promoting overall healthy digestion. That's why over-the-counter digestive meds always seem to have ginger listed as an ingredient.

Except that in this case it was enough ginger to induce extreme eye-watering and the necessity to chase every bite with water. I'm talking a lot of ginger. 3/4 cup of fresh ginger coins, to be exact. I don't know if it's just because we're not used to fresh ginger, or because the "coins" I cut weren't thin enough (I'm kind of scared of knives so the art of thinly slicing something is lost on me). I suppose it could possibly be that we are just weirdos or something. Either way it was practically inedible. I actually got up from the table to go check the recipe and make sure I didn't misread the quantity of ginger.

Obviously, I must be missing something here. But my verdict is that the recipe is pretty good once you pick out half the ginger. Next time, I'm going to have to cut the amount of ginger way, way down and rather than the ginger coins the recipe calls for I am definitely, definitely going to mince or grate it so that it's more manageable to my palate.

You can find the recipe in the 10th anniversary edition of How it All Vegan as well as here. Has anyone else tried it?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Diner Night at Cafe Pyrus, Kitchener



Every summer, Kitchener holds a "Cruising on King" event. For one night every July, the downtown area takes a trip to the past. Locals are encouraged to bring their old cars down to King Street for a parade and last night they even did an open-air screening of Grease in the middle of our downtown core.

My sprained ankle prevented me from participating in pretty much all of the events, although I did get to see a man dressed as Elvis on Charles Street around 8pm and I will take what I can get. One thing I didn't have to miss out on, however, was grabbing a table at Cafe Pyrus and enjoying some '50s diner-inspired tasty treats made specifically for last night's event.

What you see up there is a Fruit Punch Float and a Chocolate Milkshake, perfect for a sweltering July night. As I mentioned in my previous post I don't really drink pop so I was very excited to hear that it was a blend of fruit juices with just a little bit of ginger ale, along with some orange sorbet, a much healthier alternative to the typical '50s floats. Similarly, the shakes were made with frozen banana so I didn't have to feel too guilty about sampling the ones that Paul ordered (yes, that is plural!).

While we were there we of course had dinner and although I've blogged about Pyrus many times before I just can't stop sharing the deliciousness that is their menu.



The Mango Antojitos with cashew cream cheese are my new menu favourite.



Paul had his usual Crispy Tofu Sandwich.



And we shared an order of the Mac'n'Cheeze.



For dessert on Diner Night, we shared a Strawberry Shortcake and a Vanilla Shake.


I love theme nights (in case you couldn't tell via the various theme parties we host and attend for birthdays/holidays/etc) so I hope Pyrus does another one sometime soon! They are so great at coming up with unique, animal-free foodstuffs.

Cafe Pyrus
14 Charles St W
Kitchener, ON
(519) 954-7705

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baked BBQ Black-Eyed Peas with Sweet Cornmeal Coconut Biscuits



Canadian versus American linguistics have always been kind of interesting to me. Pop versus Soda. Running Shoes versus Sneakers. Waiting In Line versus waiting On Line. Although, to be fair, these are less an example of Canadian/American divisions than they are examples of regional differences (I think most northern folks, regardless of what side of the border they are, refer to it as Pop - no?).

I'm railing on about this because recently I appear to have inadvertantly started using the term "Cookout" in place of the typical around-these-parts term used for this type of event - the "Barbeque/BBQ". Twice now I've said "Cookout" and caused a couple people to stare at me questioningly, knowing what it is I mean by the term but wondering why on earth I'm employing it in southern Ontario.

I think this dabbling into American terminology stems from the fact that I spend an inappropriate amount of time reading vegan food blogs and cookbooks from the States. Or are there some Canadians out there who call them Cookouts, too?

While I can never imagine myself using the word "Soda" to refer to anything (mostly because I don't drink what it refers to, but also because "Pop" just makes sense to me) I've grown attached to the word Cookout. It is a more sementically accurate term for what the event actually is, especially from a vegan perspective, because "barbeque" usually refers to the act of using a flame to cook meat, right?

While I try and collect the portions of my brain that have melted off as a result of thinking too hard about this, I am going to share with you what I think is the greatest thing to hit the Cookout circuit in a long time (or Barbeque circuit, if you will - I don't want the authorities to read this and take my Canadian citizenship away).

Instead of bringing baked beans to your next outdoor party, how about baked black eyed peas?

While they require a little forethought (by means of soaking the black eyed peas the night before) and a couple hours in the oven, actual hands-on kitchen time is minimal and they are served at room temperature so you can make them early and focus your efforts on more pressing issues, such as drinking your face off in the backyard.



I love soaking beans overnight. It makes me feel like I'm being proactive about a big, time consuming thing without having to actually to do a big, time consuming thing.



Forget the trichinosis and use crumbled tempeh instead of pork when making baked beans/black eyed peas.



Homemade BBQ sauce does the trick!



And into the oven they go, for several hours (if you're worried about filling your already sweltering house with even more heat in the middle of July, wrap 'em in foil and do them up on the BBQ).



Tell me that this won't be a Summer 2011 backyard hit.


The recipe for these magical little black eyed peas comes from a book that I am rapidly becoming obsessed with, called Vegan Soul Kitchen. The recipe is here on Emeril's site (as an aside, how awesome is it that Emeril has made vegan food on his cooking show? Wasn't he the dude that was obsessed with pork fat in the 90s?).

Also from Vegan Soul Kitchen, these are the the Sweet Coconut Biscuits I made to go with the black eyed peas. They are so delicious and come together in all of fifteen minutes, but unfortunately there is no online recipe for them - I guess you'll just have to buy the book!





We're currently at the height of Cookout/Barbeque season and just like every year, I'm sure it will go by very quickly. Make sure you take advantage and celebrate the summer with good food, good drinks and good friends.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This is Vegan: 3rd Veganiversary Giveaway!



Today is my 3rd Veganiversary!

I typically like to celebrate such milestones with something that consists of 99% sugar and my daily recommended calorie intake. Not this year, though. Especially since I am nursing a particularly frisky ankle injury that is not only hindering my daily runs but has actually left me pretty much immobile for the next little while.

So, instead of filling my life with something deliciously bad for me, I've decided to fill YOUR life with something... in the form of a Veganiversary Giveaway!

In July 2008, after being vegetarian for a little over a year, I decided I didn't want any more animal products (in whatever clever and confusing form they are manufactured into) in my life. Making this tiny little change transformed my life in the best of possible ways. Going vegan changed how I felt about myself and about the world around me and not only did I notice many positive physical changes, the psychological impact of knowing that I am doing what is best for the animals, the planet and myself was life altering. After years of feeling helpless and essentially traumatized by all that is wrong with the world, the positive message of "harm none" has replaced the lethargy with a sense of optimistic action. And today, on my veganiversary, I want to pay it forward.

In honor of this grand occassion, I've decided to raffle off two books that I think are essential to both understanding and participating in the vegan life, all while being completely approachable by vegans and non-vegans alike.

What You Get:

1) "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism" by Melanie Joy



A couple weeks ago I did a report on this ambitious philosophical and sociological exploration of the use of animals in our society and when I was done I knew instantly that I would include it in my Veganiversary Giveaway. It is the most important book I have read in a long time. I think everyone, carnist or vegan or anywhere in between, will find it useful, a quality that I take very seriously in vegan literature as I understand that a lot of my readers are not necessarily vegan but are interested in learning more about animal advocacy and incorporating the vegan philosophy into their lives.

2) "Vegan Express" by Nava Atlas



Last summer I did a Vegan Express giveaway, and the response was so great that I thought I would do another one. This is my go-to cookbook for busy nights when "omigod there is NOTHING to eat". Quick and easy recipes, ideal for both those who are just dipping their feet into veganism as well as vegan veterans like myself who find themselves too busy to read to three pages of ingredients every night of the week. In it you can find recipes for such delicious blog entries as White Pizza with Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion, Tempeh, Kale & Sweet Potato Skillet, Jamaican Jerk Seitan and many others.

How You Enter to Win These Two Books:

1) Blog - Post a comment on this blog post using your Google ID/Open ID with the phrase "THIS IS VEGAN VEGANIVERSARY GIVEAWAY". If you do not have a Google ID, post your comment as "Anonymous" but include your name a valid e-mail address (one entry per person, please).

2) Facebook - If you haven't already done so, join the This is Vegan Facebook page and post "THIS IS VEGAN VEGANIVERSARY GIVEAWAY" on the page wall.

3) Twitter - Send out a Tweet letting your followers know about the giveaway by providing a link to this post and include @ThisIsVeganBlog somewhere in the tweet so that I know you did it and can add your name to the draw (i.e. "Enter the @ThisIsVeganBlog Veganiversary Giveaway at http://thisisvegan.com" - or Re-tweet the announcement I made at http://twitter.com/thisisveganblog).

You may enter once via each of these options for a total of three times. However, as a special bonus thank you for spreading the word about This is Vegan, if you encourage someone to enter the giveaway and they mention your name/Google ID/Twitter name not only will they be entered in the draw but you will also be entered into the draw an additional time, up to five extra times!

The Giveaway will close on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 10am EST and I will post the winner shortly afterward.

If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at mary@thisisvegan.com.

Happy Veganiversary to me!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Potato & Kale Enchiladas w/ Homemade Enchilada Sauce



Pretty much the last thing on earth that I need is another enchilada recipe. We're at the point where we eat enchiladas every few days, the only thing differing week to week is the filling. And yet every time I come across an enchilada recipe - ANY enchilada recipe - I save it in my "to be tested" file. And they pretty much always pass the test, meaning I have about forty billion enchilada recipes saved in my recipe keeper that I keep rotating.

This is the latest one to make the cut and the recipe is from Veganomicon but you can also find it here.

My only complaint is that it is a little time consuming and I suck at rolling enchiladas, especially since I can't find large corn tortillas that don't have an ingredient list that you need to be a chemist to understand. I can't fault the recipe itself for that though.



You start by making your own enchilada chile sauce, which is pretty cool since I'm known to rely on the canned variety for those other forty billion enchilada recipes I spoke of earlier. I didn't have any green chiles, though, so I had to use jalapenos which I'm sure brings the authenticity of my take on this recipe into question but jalapenos are much more accessible in my neighbourhood and it tasted great, so I suppose it doesn't matter.



After the sauce has been sufficiently cooked it takes a trip to the food processor and suddenly looks much more like those canned ench sauces we know and love.




Next comes the filling: boiled potatoes and steamed kale and garlic. You'll notice some potato skins there, even though the recipe wants you to peel the potatoes. I haven't peeled a yellow potato in years - to me it's kind of a waste of time and nutrients - so I mashed them up skins and all and I don't think it hindered the enchiladas deliciousness at all.



Once the veggies are sufficiently cooked, in goes the lime juice, veggie stock and the pepitas (pumpkin seeds)!



Here is where things get a bit sketchy for the patience-challenged like myself. The only corn tortillas I buy are those made by Food for Life. Made of whole kernel corn (unlike those other corn tortillas) their only drawback is that they only come in the 6" and enchiladas are much easier to make with 12" tortillas. Maybe there is someone local that makes whole kernel corn tortillas that I don't know about yet, but until then I have to make my peace with these little guys.



First, you warm the tortilla up so that its nice and bendable, then you smother it in the enchilada sauce and then you fill it with the potato-kale mixture.



I have this problem where I over-fill to the point of sufficient breakage and hole-age, making the dinner presentation a very messy affair.



They look alright though, all things considering.



I had a ton of leftover filling and I refuse to waste perfectly good kale - so I just poured it over top of the rolled enchiladas and then topped them off with the remaining enchilada sauce.



Like all great things, this recipe requires work and isn't something I'd really attempt on a busy weeknight, however it's almost more flavourful as leftovers so you can feel free to make it in advance and then toss it back in the oven to warm through, just before dinner.

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