Toronto’s Fifth Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake Off

This weekend was the “Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake Off” and I think it was probably the best one yet.  Really organized, great treats, and an accessible indoor venue. I’ve been to three of the bake off’s (For a trip down memory lane: 3rd Annual Vegan Bake Off, 4th Annual Vegan Bake Off) and while I’ll never forget my first, I can see all the improvements from feedback from previous years. I know the 6th annual bake off will be even better and I can’t wait. This year’s Bake Off happened at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Center (though if you lived here, you’d probably just call it the JCC) 750 Spadina Ave, Toronto and at 2 pm things really got started. Over 47 amateur, professional, and professional amateur vegan bakers or bakeries put in hours and hours into preparing mini versions of their specialties. I had a slightly different experience from the previous years, since as per my 101 in 1001 days food goals, I entered the Vegan Bake Off this year. So in addition to coming to the bake off to eat several plates of delicious mini vegan treats, I also got to feel the intense bake off pressure, and then later taste that sharp flavour of defeat (not really, but I’ll admit it, kind of.) It was actually a lot of fun making 100 cannoli, in a zen kind of mindless repetitive task kind of way, but I don’t think I’ll ever do something like that again. At least not…

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Another weekend, another half dozen muffins – Carrot apple spice

We had a bag of carrots sitting in the fridge for weeks. They were sad looking carrots, getting a little dull, getting ready to grow and walk themselves out of the crisper, so it was time to do something with them. But I wasn’t sure what to do, J doesn’t like cooked carrots. I thought… carrot apple salad? Meh. I wanted to bake. I found a loophole in the “I don’t like cooked carrots” statement with carrot cake. (since really, who doesn’t like cake?) My mom used to Morning Glory muffins when I was little, and those are the muffins I had on my mind. She and I had made them together a few times, and they always turned out moist, sweet and delicious. (and rarely lasted for more than a few days) I got a nice little history lesson in the muffins origins while looking for the recipe. Everywhere I’ve read the recipe was originally developed by Pam McKinstry when she owned the Morning Glory Cafe on the island of Nantucket. I think my mom must have saved the recipe out of an old copy of Gourmet magazine in 1981. However, much like me, my mom never follows recipes exactly either, so she never used eggs for her version, just more shredded apples. In my adaptation I use ground flax seed and water instead. Vegan Morning Glory Muffins  (makes 6 Large Muffins) 2 cups grated raw carrot 1 large granny smith apple, peeled and grated 2 cups all-purpose flour…

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Royal Ontario Museum, Fresh on Bloor and Sneaky Dee’s

I went to the Royal Ontario Museum on Tuesday, a wonderfully huge museum which at the moment holds a special exhibit with Terracotta Warriors from China. I spent around three hours lost in the history, snapping photos here and there. The Museum has a special deal for students on Tuesday’s; free admission to the regular collection with student ID (the special exhibit was only 7$ more). All that wandering got me hungry and I went down to the Museums cafe, there was a tofu wrap but otherwise they had minimal vegan options, so I went upstairs to C5 (their very beautiful restaurant.) Much like the Cafe, there were limited/no vegan options, but there was one item that had some potential of being veganizable (though it was made with a butter sauce, so who knows how well that would go over). I didn’t bother staying. But it was nice up there. I started out by searching for “vegetarian restaraunts near Royal Ontario Museum” but didn’t find anything useful. So I walked down Bloor Street and saw Fresh. The name sounded familiar and I looked it up. Fresh is a primarily vegan restaurant, with dairy options and some honey/bee pollen products on the side if you’re into that sort of thing. They have three locations (so far) and have a great selection of smoothies and juices as well as some interesting menu items. I went to the one at 326 Bloor Street West (so Bloor Street at Spadina) I went with the…

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Ode to Pretzels

I love soft pretzels. Those commercially availible SuperPretzels burrowed their way into my heart when I was working at a hospital years ago and the only vegan option was either that, or some lettuce (and I’m not even kidding.) When I went to Denver for the first time in 2006 I realized in one quick sweeping generalization that Americans Love Pretzels. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely accurate, but there was a pretzel cart, store, etc everywhere I went.  Some sort of pretzel love I’d never seen before, especially not anywhere in Canada. All subsequent trips to the United States meant more soft pretzels, all over New York City, Arizona, random places in Seattle, Portland. They were there. And they made me happy. Saskatoon is not the place to go if you like commercially available fresh soft pretzels. Maybe I haven’t looked hard enough, but I haven’t seen them anywhere. So following the logical course of action… I baked some… I’m excitedly plotting my dish for the Raw Food Potluck on Wednesday, it’s not going to be anything fancy. My first priority is that it’s tasty and simple.

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