Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Eco-friendly Edible Christmas Gift: The How-to

This year, like many years previous, I decided to make - or really, bake most of my Christmas gifts for family and friends.  This year however, I was determined to waste as little as possible and make Eco-friendly gifts.

Here's my attempt at it and tutorial for you to try it too!

What you'll need:

1. A variety of home-make baked goods, like cookies (like I have here) or even chocolate and candy works.  I made all vegan pecan chocolate cookies, oatmeal cranberry cookies and snicker doodles.

2. Newspapers - I prefer to use the comic and puzzles section; entertainment or sports sections also work well, depending on who the gift is for that person might enjoy the sports or entertainment news - anything with big bright photos also works and is decorative.

3. Eco-friendly, biodegradable plates - I found a great brand at Loblaws, they're really starting to get some good "green" products in.

Step 1: Mix and arrange the cookies on one plate.  Cover cookies with another plate.

Step 2: Tape the plates together to hold in place ... looks like a saucer!

Step 3: Choose the newspaper you would like to use - the Saturday newspaper comic section works the best.

Step 4: Proceed to wrap the cookie saucer. I basically started on one side, folding neatly and continued around the plate. 

Step 5: The newspaper will create a hexagon shape around the saucer and you will likely need to cut off the excess paper when you get close to the end.

As pretty as the wrapping and comics look I thought it would be a good idea to top off each cookie saucer with a hand-made card that can also be reusable, made with left over scraps of coloured paper.
Here's the how-to:

Supplies can include: various scraps of coloured paper, scissors, pencil, various cookie cutters, glue, coloured pens or paints, old magnets, and coloured string or yarn.

Step 1: I used a cookie cutter to draw out a star shaped tag for my gift.  Trace and cut.

Step 2: Add some glitter, sparkle and shine to your card, whatever you like!

Step 3: Once you've pimped up your card, time to add a string loop to the card so it can be reused as a decorative Christmas piece.  Another great option, glue a piece of magnet on the back, it's a fridge magnet! The best source are those free magnets you get from business offices, fairs, dentist or veterinary offices - get a stack and cut them up.

Step 4: In this case I added a gold piece of string through one of the corners of the star - good to hang on the tree.

Another great option: old Christmas cards! In this case, I took old Christmas cards that I had been collecting since (believe it or not) grade 5 and using a round cookie cutter I cut-out the pictures from them.  You can then add a magnet or a string and use them to decorate your gifts.

A completed package will look something like this.

I made a few this past week for friends.
Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegan Quiche & Haircuts

Recently made, recently devoured, recently loved! ...

Spinach Quiche
Original recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes book

For the crust:
2 cups light spelt flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp creamy natural cashew butter
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp agave nectar (optional)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

For the Filling:
1 lb (455g) firm or extra-firm silken tofu
2 tbsp nondairy butter
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
3 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp ground pecans
1/2 tsp fine sea salt, to taste
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried minced onion
2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Make the crust: Combine all the flour, cashew butter and salt together in a food processor.  Add the agave, if using, and the milk, a little at a time, until dough forms.

3. Roll out the dough as thinly as possible and fit to the pie plate.  Prick the crust with a fork to prevent air bubbles.  Set aside

4. Make the filling: Combine all ingredients - except the spinach - together in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally.

5. Add the spinach to the mix, pulse just a few times to combine.  Pour the filling into the pie crust.

7. Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the filling is set.  Let stand for 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Yields: 6 servings

A recent even in my life that I'd like to share in hopes to inspire others to do the same.  I'd been growing my hair just over four years now, always with the thought that I would one day donate it to cancer.  The day came a few weeks ago.
This is the before shot - hair in length from my neck down about 14 inches total and cutting it, could not come soon enough!

The cut!

I'll admit, I was very nervous, didn't know how I would look with short hair again, kept having horrible flashbacks of my boyish haircut days and on my face, it's not a good look! At least not back then it wasn't but I had no idea how I would look today with short hair.

So turns out, I looked okay :)  The haircut, no big deal in the end and I knew it was for a good cause.

So why measure, cut off and bread my hair?

There are many organizations out there that accept hair donations to make wings for people with cancer, like women and children specifically.  I choose to donate my hair through Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program.  To learn more about them or how you can donate, follow the link.

In the end I not only felt great about donating my hair, even after four years of growing very attached to it, I felt amazing with my fresh new look and haircut, plus it always helps to have a boyfriend who can't stop starring at you because you look even hotter now then you did before lol (love ya Mike).  I only hope that my donation can help make a difference to some amazing woman out there.



Please visit my blog next week, I will review how you can make easy Eco-friendly Christmas gifts for friends and family this year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthday Dinner: Surprise, it's Vegan!

I love being part of my big family dinners especially now that I can contribute my experimental vegan dishes - well not so much experimental as they are brand new to me and to my family.  As I slowly plow through my many vegan recipes and cookbook I share with you two recent recipes.  One I loved and have already made twice and the other I liked but for the amount of work that was put into it, I will likely never make again!

Quinoa Pilaf
(Original recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes)

Cooked quinoa with shredded carrots, slivered almonds, chopped dates, olive oil, lemon juice with spices like cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin, and salt, with a bit of shredded ginger root for an intense spicy flavour. I have it served here with a small side of roasted carrots and sweet potatoes.

Mediterranean Spring Rolls 
(Original recipe from 500 Vegan Recipes) ... Stuffed with tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and spices - really pretty simple stuffing, very annoyingly difficult herb doug!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Girl's Mini Weekend Vacation

I really love having family over for a weekend.  I rarely have company for an overnight stay so it was a nice treat - a good excuse for them and myself to relax, which is exactly what my sister, niece and I did a couple of weekends ago in Toronto.
Sorry sis, just had to post this one, it's too funny! Love your face and Bela looks beautiful.

Since this is a food blog after all I share with you dinner: pizza!  Not just any pizza though, a pizza split down the middle and quartered on one side.  This is what happens when you have three people, one vegan, one kid and different food preferences.

My niece was simple - sauce, cheese, pepperoni, zucchini and green onion.  My sister's side and mine were similar with just a meat difference; hers prosciutto and mine, vegan "chicken" - mmm, good.

 Lunch the next day, a nice stir-fry over rice, loaded with warm veggies and dressing.

Downtown, at Yonge and Dundas Square for the Lighting Ceremony, Circus Orange, mall wondering, and hot cocoa.

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