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On Sunday I made the tempeh tikka masala recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen. But just before I started cooking, I realised that I didn’t have any tempeh in the fridge after all. Instead I used store-bought chicken-free strips, that I did happen to have in the fridge. The tikka masala flavours easily overpowered the lemon-thyme flavouring of the strips. The curry was fun to make, didn’t take too long to prepare, and was really yummy. The recipe in the book is very similar to this version which is available online from Vegan Richa.  I’ll make this again.

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I was in Toronto recently for a week, for a conference. (I already told you about the delicious cactus tacos that I ate while there.) Luckily, my flight home was late at night, and a friend from the conference was in the same situation, so we walked around Toronto for a day. Our wanderings were not entirely aimless because I knew exactly where I wanted to end up for lunch: Hogtown Vegan, 1056 Bloor St W. Please note the special advertised on the board: pulled ‘pork’ poutine.

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This is a (blurry) photo of the pulled pork poutine special. Poutine is a Canadian thing, chips with gravy and sauce, something like that.  It was so, so good. Their lunch menu was full of delicious-sounding items: I really wished I could stay another week just to sample 7 more meals!  I am actually salivating now as I remember how good this messy stuff tasted.

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On the subject of vegan food in Toronto, I’d also like to mention Rise Espresso, 107 Mutual St.  If you are looking for good coffee near Ryerson University then I suggest you make your way there.

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Here is their display counter of baked goods, almost all from Sweets From the Earth and labelled as vegan. I liked the look of the unlabelled bread-like item at the top left, so I asked what it was, and was told it was banana bread with chocolate chips.  “Is it vegan?”, I asked.  “Everything in there is vegan!”, the lovely barista replied. Hooray! The banana bread with chocolate chips was delicious, and their coffee was great.

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This is a soya meat curry.  The little balls are made of soy beans (somehow) and have been dehydrated and packaged (see photo below).

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I have to thank my friend Dilini, who first gave me some soy meat curry that she had cooked (which tasted *amazing*!!), and then gave me this packet so I could cook some for myself. Of course hers tasted much better and more authentic than mine! I asked Dilini where I would find this packet and she said “Sri Lankan shops”.

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This is what the soy beans look like out of the packet. You soak them in hot water, then drain them and squeeze the water out.  Then, follow the instructions on the packet (a spice sachet is included) or find a recipe online, like this one.  I added zucchini (courgette) for a bit of green.  We all loved the soy meat balls, they’re really yummy. I’d definitely like to experiment with them again, and encourage you to do the same.

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Last week I attended a conference at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto. Lunch breaks were short, but luckily for me, Tacos 101 was close by to provide me with Nopal tacos. As confirmed in the photo below, these tacos are made from cactus! I don’t *think* I’ve ever eaten cactus before (?!).

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The Nopal tacos are made of cactus, refried beans, pico de gallo and salsa verde (I asked them to omit the cheese), and served with guacamole puree. They were very tasty tacos and kept me coming back. I also really enjoyed their aesthetics: it’s a cool space. You can sit inside or stand up at the benches outside. I definitely recommend a visit.

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Pana Chocolate is a little bit too good. Their chocolate is “raw, organic, handmade, vegan, no dairy, no soy, gluten free, no refined sugar”… and delicious. It is made in Melbourne but you can buy it at various stockists around Australia.

My previous experience with their chocolate was limited to receiving a wonderful gift box from a work colleague… until recently. It happened like this: The supermarket where I usually shop used to sell some vegan chocolate that I liked, but lately they’re not stocking it.  So I had to look further afield, namely, the nearby health food store. The health food store sells many flavours of Pana Chocolate bars like these. Now I am obsessed.

The Orange flavour is amazing and is my favourite, but I also like Strawberry and Pistachio and the Sour Cherry and Vanilla you see in the picture.

Their chocolate is covered with hearts and the message “Love the Earth”.  Well, I love Pana Chocolate.

PS  When I decided to become vegan, more than 4 years ago, I thought it meant giving up chocolate. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!  (-:

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These are gooey black bean brownies from a recipe by Ella Woodward. Some of Ella’s recipes appeared in the paper when I was last in the UK, nearly 18 months ago, and my mother-in-law showed them to me. I was intrigued by this particular recipe, which uses black beans to make brownies. I finally got around to making them, and I’m still not entirely sure what I think of them, to be honest.

The recipe is… odd. It calls for an enormous amount of apple puree, an enormous amount of milk and quite a lot of maple syrup. I cut back on all of these, because I was worried about how sloppy the mixture was getting, and I didn’t want it to be too sweet. I had already messed with the recipe by using almond pulp instead of ground almonds, as part of my eternal quest for ways to use up almond pulp.

Perhaps I should have used a smaller sized baking tray, given that I’d reduced the volume, so it’s not surprising that my brownies turned out quite flat. They’re certainly gooey: mine are so moist that I had to use baking paper to stop them sticking together when I packed them into a container. (Maybe I should have cooked them longer?)

I kind of like these brownies, but they really are a little odd.  Maybe they’re just too moist for me. Ella is right, you can’t taste the black bean, even with the reduced amount of maple syrup that I used. I’m not entirely sure that I’d make this recipe again, though it was an interesting thing to try.

 

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A few days ago I had dinner at Vina Vegan Restaurant, Newtown. I was by myself but still managed to eat three fresh rice paper rolls (very tasty) and almost all of this steaming bowl of vegan beef pho noodle soup. Just look at it, it’s gorgeous and it tasted delicious. They certainly know what they’re doing with their mock meat, it’s quite something.