Things I Love Thursday – Cookbooks & Friends

What about January? I could complain about the cold, a standard Canadian past time, except I find it familiar, and almost pleasant assuming the wind is to a minimum. I like the familiar crunch of my boots on the snow and the cement when the temperature gets to a certain low level. And I like knowing that in this hustle and bustle of a big city, there are other fellow prairie ex-pats living here that feel the same way. On with the Thursday list: Jadłonomia Over the past two months I’ve been attempting to get a vegan cookbook for my mother and her birthday earlier this month, sure this would be easy, if not for the fact that it required more effort than just ordering it from amazon and being done with it. Jadłonomia – a Polish vegan cookbook, was not on amazon at all. It’s not in a local bookstore (at least not local to me), and I had to dust off some cabinets in my brain to read a few Polish websites to successfully place the order. And when there are technical difficulties in another language, things become extra fun. Emails are exchanged, as I provide both English and Polish text, in hopes of being understood in one language or another – occasionally hearing nothing back, occasionally not being sure if people just don’t understand what I’m writing (in either language) but eventually, everything comes together. A fortuitous and almost serendipitous post and tip by a fellow fan on…

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Tuesdates with Bloomers

Cobb Salad from Bloomers

I’m in New York City until next year, so I’m missing my usual Tuesday Bloomers Visit. (it’s capitalized because it’s turned into a thing.) Bloomers has been open for several months now (since August), and ever since they launched their lunch menu a month or so ago, I’ve been going every Tuesday to get some work done (they have free wifi and a decent amount of power outlets), grab some food and have a few coffees. I’m not the only one that does this, but I’m not sure if people just go all the time, or they also follow a Tuesdate schedule. I see some familiar faces and it’s kind of neat to have a place like on my side of town, that just happens to be vegan, and comfortable. There are three booths, and several tables, both high top and regular. There is a slight height variation to get into Bloomers, and the door is not automatic, but it does appear wide enough for a wheelchair to get in. Restrooms are in the back and on the main floor. So every Tuesday, around 12 – 3pm I’m sitting at Bloomers with my laptop, always a coffee, and maybe a lunch item or more recently a mocha. The service is always friendly and welcoming, and it’s not just me – I hear them being nice to absolutely everyone that comes in, even when there is the occasional person that leaves in a huff because they don’t have dairy milk (this has happened once…

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Toronto Vegan Gift Guide 2014

Every year I really like putting together some of the fun or special things I see in December, there are also a lot of great general vegan gift idea lists that come out around this time, and I will link to them at the bottom of this post. Many vegan businesses and bakeries have special menus available, so you will also see those collected on this page as well as I find them. If you celebrate anything in December, I think it’s especially worth looking locally to find special thing for the special people in your life. We have this amazing community of creators and crafters, bakers and makers, and organizations that are worth supporting this time of year. So this year, yet again, is my totally biased, occasionally random, list of local/GTA/Vegan Gift ideas. You’ll see some repeat names from last year, because they’re still still awesome, but you’ll also see some new faces (because the vegan business community has grown further in 2014.) There are also a variety of holiday themed markets which I will attempt to collect if they have at least one or two vegan-friendly/vegan- enthusiastic vendors. I welcome your suggestions for other local vegan friendly businesses and organizations to support, please add them in the comments (and I will update this post) or feel free to send me an email. And here we go. Jewellery/Clothing I really like this stamped “herbivore” necklace from Vegan is Beautiful, a new vegan online store selling t-shirts, long sleeve…

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Hope for the Holidays at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

Oh beautiful wonderful Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. I cannot recommend visiting a farm animal sanctuary enough. Even if you’re busy, it’s worth making the time to visit these peaceful places of what could be. Cedar Row is one of those truly idyllic farms where animals are loved and treated with respect and have sanctuary. Especially if you are feeling burnt out or feeling a bit down about life or the world or anything along those lines. It’s a place of healing, and that’s not just limited to the non-human animals that live there. Whenever I visit, I learn something. Something about myself, something about the way people, and especially children, interact with animals, or something new about the personalities of the animals that live there. It’s peaceful and centering to just visit and just be. Sitting down with a turkey or watching Chickpea watch me with her deep soulful eyes. I learn to avoid the goose. I’m reminded of how much I like goats – and of course, how much I relate to them. And I leave knowing that while we can’t save everyone, the animals at Cedar Row are safe. They are loved. They have a place to exist and knowing that is so valuable. Knowing that there are people out there that care and that there are people out there that  can make a difference (and we can too.) If you can’t attend share the event on facebook or donate to Cedar Row to help them keep doing the wonderful work they’re…

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This month in Toronto Vegan Crowdfunding

There are 2 Toronto Vegan Businesses looking for support right now. (Are there more? Please let me know.) Nona Vegan Sauces I’ve written about one of them before a whole bunch and my love of their sauces – First of all – Soul to Bowl Sauces is now Nona Vegan Foods The creator and owner of Soul to Bowl, Kailey Gilchrist, is trying to expand her business, increase the shelf-life of her product, while unfortunately also needing to re-brand due to someone else staking claim to the Soul to Bowl name. Sadly, this means there will not be any adorable Nonna cartoons on their labels (at least for now,) but at least there will still be sauce. Personally, I don’t like change, but the new labels are slowly growing on me. But it’s not about me. I’m going to buy it whatever the label says, so if it attracts new people to the product, I’m happy. Besides… don’t judge a sauce by its cover or something. It’s what’s inside that counts, and what’s inside is delicious. Reasons why you should support this campaign: Like I said, the sauces are delicious, you’re supporting a young, Toronto-based entrepreneur, build a business with a wide ranging appeal. It’s not just a vegan product, it’s also great for people with allergies (as long as those allergies aren’t nuts!) as these products are egg-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Plus, have I mentioned the sauces are delicious? I want to highlight the Sauce 4-Pack for $35 perk because it’s probably my favourite, and is a…

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Things I Love Thursday – Autumn, as usual.

I love Autumn. I’m going to continue saying it, until it rolls into winter – then I will be less enthusiastic. But until then I will bask in the changing colours and the slightly cooler temperatures (which I prefer.) I love that the weather is perfect for mid afternoon coffee stops, while also being comfortable for outdoor walking. I’m looking forward to the Marineland Closing Day Demonstration on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to bringing along JC to his first Marineland Demo. We’ve booked a weekend at PieBird Farmstay in Nippissing, in Northern Ontario later this month to celebrate our wedding anniversary, which should be a tonne of fun. I’ve never been that far north in Ontario, and it looks like a lovely little place, both as a farm sanctuary AND bed and breakfast, so I’m looking forward to sharing more about the food and location in a few weeks. If you’ve been there, I’d love to hear any highlights of the Nippissing area, as I’ve never been up there. Hopefully I’ll get to meet Sunshine, and the rest of their rescues! Overall, it’s been a nice and busy week. And I’m greatly looking forward to the weekend.

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Thanksgiving Pre-order options

I’ve been noticing more and more vegan-friendly thanksgiving pre-order options popping up every year in Toronto, which is probably great, both for vegans and people with vegans in the family coming for dinner, especially if they are not quite sure what to feed them. This list also gives a good number of options for people with dairy or egg allergies, some gluten free options, and more. So here is a list of everyone I’ve seen so far I will continue to update it as I see more, feel free to send me hot tips: me@meshell.ca Through Being Cool Vegan Bakery Pumpkin Pie Cookie Pack Butter Tarts Apple Crisp Veggie Gravy Pot Pie Lentil Loaf Scalloped Potatoes Dinner Rolls Cranberry Sauce Orders must be placed in the store. (1277 Bloor St. West, closed Mon. Tues-Sat 9-7 Sun 9-5) Bunner’s Bake Shop If you’re looking for gluten-free vegan fare, look no further. As a gluten-fan I’ve still loved so many of their baked goods and treats that it’s been fantastic to have a gluten-free option that didn’t taste like it was missing something. They do good work. Kensington pick-ups: 647-350-2975 Junction pick-ups: 647-352-2975 Savouries: Stuffing 6×9″ tray – $12 (contains soy lecithin) Veggie Pot Pies (feeds 4) – $26 (soy free) Thanksgiving Bowls – mashed potatoes, corn, soy “turkey”, gravy, cranberry sauce and stuffing, all in one handy container! All of our taste testers raved and raved about this one! small size: $7 / large size: $18 (contains soy) Sweeties: 9″ Pumpkin…

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That time I made Samosa Soup

So, as of last Thursday, I was obsessed with making Samosa Soup from Yup, it’s Vegan. But we were away in Washington DC, and Baltimore for ExpoEast, and I didn’t have access to a kitchen, but the day we got back I had to make Samosa Soup. The air in Toronto is still reasonably warm but it also has that distinct taste of autumn wafting around. The leaves were green last week, and now they are dramatic reds and golds (though there is still a lot of green left too), so a hearty spicy potato soup seemed like the perfect thing to make and eat and share. The problem with me and recipes, is that unless I’m testing recipes for someone’s upcoming cookbook, I don’t follow the recipe. I look at it, and I’m inspired by flavours or techniques, but otherwise, I change nearly everything, and go my own way. This one was pretty inspiring, so I went with it. My version turned into more of a one-pot-meal (+ 1 bowl.) First I fried up onions, leeks, garlic & spices (turmeric, guaram masala, coriander) in a large pot with a splash of olive oil, then set them aside together in a bowl. Next was the potatoes, I took about a dozen quartered potatoes in the same large pot with a few chillies, and whatever spices remained, then blended it all together with an immersion blender, returned the spiced onion leek mixture, added a few dried curry leaves, poured in two cups of frozen peas, and…

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Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival – 2014

This was my fourth Vegetarian Food Festival, and my fourth year in Toronto, it’s one of my favourite yearly events, and not just because it also coincides with one of my second favourite events – the Toronto International Film festival. This was also the first time I didn’t have a camera with me, so I just enjoyed the festivities and food, and didn’t take many photos. Maybe there is something to just experiencing things without photos to prove it, but I do miss my camera (it’s being repaired right now after I fell on our last day of travelling.) I went on Friday evening and being there reminded me very much of the feeling I got when I arrived in Toronto way back in the summer of 2010. As I sat in the sun, eating an APieCalypse Now magic square, and drinking a cup of my new favourite local kombucha (Pekoe Kombucha) I was just enveloped in a wonderful feeling of these are my people. I am home. We may have our differences (a lot of them), but there is still a feeling of connection at these events that I really love. It was so nice to catch up with friends, and discover new businesses that I hadn’t heard of before. Also the weather was gorgeous. So here is the Magic Square, and it was amazing as usual. Eventually, we also picked up a pumpkin pie, a piece of peach pie, one of those famous s’mores pies, a Free Shrugs t-shirt,…

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These are a few of my favourite things. Welcome to Toronto Strangers.

I’m taking a break from roadtrip nostalgia to share some of my favourite vegan things at Toronto restaurants. Happy Vegan Month of Food. It certainly feels like a vegan month of food  in Toronto and Area, we have so many incredible events happening, like the Vegetarian Food Festival starting this evening and going all weekend and more! I’ve been thinking about writing something like this for a while, and claiming things are the best feels contentious – because flavours and experiences are so subjective, and it’s hard to be objective about them even if you try your darnedest (I do try) If you only have a short time to visit Toronto, here is some of what I think you should try. Take these suggestions… or leave them. But as of this September 2014, these are my recommendations as a vegan that just likes eating things that are delicious. Frankly, I’d like to see more of these lists, because I want to know what other people are into. They’re not gluten-free (okay, one of them is), they’re not oil free or low fat. This isn’t in any particular order. Or organized in any fashion other than I think these are yummy. I’ve randomized the order of things some more, so it’s not even in the order it came into my head… but I’m putting extra stars next to things I get really excited about. I haven’t talked to anyone besides JC. And I also don’t like certain restaurants in the city that people…

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