Things I Love Thursday – (kinda) Non-Wedding Edition.

Every week (most of the time) I like to post a Things I Love Thursday(TILT) list. Some weeks it goes by the wayside, sometimes I look forward to a navel gazing post about things I like, the week it has been, and other random things I’ve encountered. This is one of the “looking forward to it” weeks. One of my first TILT’s on this blog was actually during VeganMoFo in 2011. It’s nice to be able to look back on memories and moments that brightened my life, and a nice way to check in on how things are going in general. Our wedding is now just a little over a month away. We’ve been meeting with dressmakers, tailors, caterers and event space folks, sending out invitations, booking cakes, and attempting to connect with photographers and florists and the other usual weddingy things people do. It’s a flurry of excitement and nervousness. And a healthy dose of tediousness – I could pretend the wedding planning process is 100% fun, but it’s not.There are a lot of hard choices to make, or easy choices, sometimes you have to be stubborn, and hold your ground, sometimes you have to find a compromise. I’ve spent a lot of time crying over this process, but I’m happy to say that most of those tears were spilled feeling absolute joy. I’m crying over traditions, new, old, and created and since it’s a little over a month away, things are feeling very real, and very soon. We…

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Let’s talk about challah, weddings, and Rosh Hashanah #VeganMoFo

In September 2011, I made my first (vegan or otherwise) challah. I remember it because, 1. I blogged all about it, and 2. It was really nerve wracking, because I had never made challah before, and I was going to JC’s family’s house for Rosh Hashanah dinner (though we had all met before then for the first time at a different High Holiday… Passover… no pressure.) For those of you that might not be familiar with what a challah is (pronounced “hallah”), traditionally it is eaten on the Jewish sabbath and on holidays that allow for leavened bread. It’s also known as – egg bread. Yes, egg bread. Many of the recipes I’ve seen call for 8 or more eggs. Yes really. And to top it off, there is also usually an egg white wash on top. Now, this (obviously) isn’t impossible to veganize, but it still seems to really surprise people. (which gives me a sense of extra delicious satisfaction.) This does tie in with my Vegan Wedding MoFo theme, in that it is a tradition at the reception of Jewish Weddings to have a “Wedding Challah” aka a GIANT super challah (I’m imagining a challah with a cape now). Before the meal is served, there is wine and a blessing of the bread, and in some cases, the bride and groom pass out pieces of challah to their guests, or just save the challah eating to the head table. We’re not religious people, but JC is Jewish (culturally/secularly), and celebrating…

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Throwing a Vegan Engagement Party. Vegan MoFo 2013

Vegan Wedding Related time-sensitive note: For brides on a budget or people that like cute white dresses there is a sale going on on Unique Vintage that you might be into. (I’m unaffiliated with them, but I was amazed at  how cheap some of their dresses were while being pretty AND 100% cotton.) Back to our scheduled programming. Shortly after JC and I were engaged JC’s mom (hence forth known as Val) threw us an engagement party. I’ve since learned that traditionally it’s the brides parents that throw the party – but Val offered to do it almost as soon as we announced our plans, my family lives in Edmonton, Alberta (which is pretty much on the other side of the country) and frankly… we’re not very traditional people (except when we are.) My little guide here is a blend of personal experience and things I’ve picked up along the way both before and after. Hopefully it’s helpful to you even if you don’t live in Toronto, but really, feel free to reach out if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help. Things to think about: A vegan engagement party is not that much different than any other party, with a few small exceptions (that you might want to ignore anyway). 0. Do you want an engagement party. Do you want a party? If no, cool! There is nothing saying you have to have an engagement party. If yes, your adventure continues. 1. Who are you inviting? There is…

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Let’s Start at The Beginning – The Proposal – Vegan MoFo 2013

Happy Labour Day and Happy Vegan Mofo! I just want to give a shout out to the people heading over to demonstrate at Marineland today. I can’t be there, but I support you 100%. Thank you to Marineland Animal Defense for their important work on this. Now, on with the Vegan MoFoing.   This story is probably more for me than for you. Imagine I’m 90, and sitting by the solar electric fireplace, maybe a nuclear fission tube, or some futuristic equivalent. I’m wearing a sweater that I knit out of rescued space cat hair or something, and I want to tell you a story of how I your great great great grandfather proposed to me. Back when there weren’t any self-driving cars or holographic skype calls. A Cat is President of the Internet. You get the idea. Note: If you want to escape the sappy lovey engagement story bits, and look at vegan food porn, there are some lots of photos at the bottom of this post from our delicious engagement dinner at Candle 79. So on with the story. JC and I have been engaged since December 2011. We met at the beginning of the year, though the internet (where I find everything I love), and during that year fell madly in love, in as much as logical robot computer people can fall in love (but apparently it’s a lot since both of us have secretly mushy squishy romantic insides.) He very innocently asked me the month before…

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Vegan MoFo – Vegan Weddings – Intro

Oh Vegan MoFo. You sneak up on me nearly every year. Except this one. I’m ready for you this year. Kind of. Maybe. For the people I’ve never met before (HI!), I’m MeShell, I like cats, baking, technology, and social justice related things with a focus on food education/empowerment/etc. I live with my fiance JC, and our two cats Emmie and Kes, in Toronto, Ontario. I have lived all over Canada, and I’m originally from Edmonton, Alberta. Some people might have heard of Prairie Vegan (which has since spun off into a different project), but that was my first ever vegan food blog. You can follow this blog on facebook, me personally on twitter, instagram, and a bunch of other places on the top right hand side of this website (& if you’re using a reader… please – tell me which one you’re using, I still haven’t found one I like as much as google reader.) The Theme My theme this month is going to be primarily about vegan weddings – specifically mine (it’s happening in October), but also, vegan related wedding topics in general. I love the food traditions involved in weddings around the world, so I’ll be veganizing at least one traditional wedding food item a week, and sharing it with you. I’m going to give this VeganMoFo month a good honest effort. My goals are to comment on at least 10 blogs a day, and especially outside of my normal blog reading circle, and to post something…

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Vegan MoFo on the Road – Coming home post Sandy.

We’re finally home, albeit a few days later than planned due to Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy. We arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday morning after a night on the bus. Sleeplessness and trying to navigate an unfamiliar transit system made for an interesting time, but we found our way to our hotel, and JC made it to his gaming conference on time. We weren’t expecting the storm that happened, and the weather outside got progressively worse as time passed by. In preparation for the storm, our bus back to Toronto was cancelled. As were most flights, and eventually highways were closed. The hotel lobby was full of people waiting, some stranded, watching TV, wondering about what was going on back home, wondering what was going on outside. It was pretty scary, because we didn’t quite know what was going to happen, or where the storm would hit us, if at all. I think what may have made it worse at the time, was not knowing what was happening outside where we were, while simultaneously not knowing what was happening back at home. Were the cats going to be okay? Family and friends? Was the storm going to hit Toronto severely? The worst kind of worry is the kind I can’t convince myself is unfounded.

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VeganMoFo – Unofficial Soup Week continues at The Depanneur – French Onion Soup

Foursquare tells me it’s been at least three months since I’ve been to The Depanneur (fondly known as The Dep) but I’m glad we went over there last night. JC and I were trying to figure out what to do for date night on such a grey and rainy evening, and I saw a Dep Facebook post about daiya being an option so were’ with their onion made by Lisa Kates of afoodgypsy (they also sell her soups in Jars to take home at the Depp as well and out of the Culinarium) Every Tuesday Len (the owner) cooks up a pot of something, and occasionally those things are vegan or have a vegan option (more often than you might expect.) So this evening there was a big pot of french onion soup, sliced sour dough bread from Nice Buns, topped with either non-vegan cheese or daiya and baked/broiled for a few minutes before being placed in the soup. The result was delicious. Really. The soup was really quite remarkable (and worked really well with the daiya) and inspired us to start talking about and thinking about making some French Onion Soup sometime this season for ourselves. I started looking for fellow vegans that might have made french onion soup, and of course, there were lots! But one of the more interesting things I came across was the French Onion Soup Sandwich over at The Vegan Adventures of Maggie and Ben. That needs to happen. Here is a not-vegan recipe…

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Vegan MoFo – Challah becomes French Toast.

So last week I made Apple Cinnamon Stuffed Maple Challah, and it was delicious. After we finished the first loaf, I wondered if I could do anything fun with the second loaf – and french toast came to mind. My mom had bought a package of EcoIdeas Cinnamon French Toast mix (it’s vegan and gluten-free) but didn’t like it at all. So, she gave it to me. I figured I could do something with it to make it more appealing, so I took it home with me from Edmonton. I made the French Toast mix as described on the package, but I added an extra tsp of cinnamon, and more than enough brown sugar. Do not eat this stuff raw. I repeat, do not eat this stuff raw. It tastes like powdered mung bean. But once you cook it, and fry it up, it’s actually quite delicious. I really liked the layer of batter that attached itself to the bread. With delicious results! In non food news, we got a pair of kittens from Toronto Cat Rescue today, and they’re currently quarantined in one of our bathrooms.  They need to be socialized, but expect pictures as soon as they decide us humans are alright. 🙂  

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Vegan MoFo – Upping my Tillers Rep in Real Life – Fresh City Farms

This weekend JC and I got our hands dirty at the Fresh City Farms plots at Downsview Park. It takes around an hour to get out there by bus from our house, but it was genuinely rewarding (and not just in the quantity of beets we brought home with us afterwards.) I picked eggplant, hot peppers, and shelled beans. It’s really quite meditative. I filled this basket up quite a bit after picking through a row.

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Vegan MoFo – Friday Night Apple Cinnamon Stuffed Maple Challah and a goodbye to an old (camera) friend.

It’s getting cold outside, which also means it’s getting cold in the house. Emmie cat has gotten snugglier, and so have I, especially in my resistance to turn on the heat until at least the end of October. I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s also time where I realize I don’t own any long pants, but that’s a whole other thing entirely. As a result of being cold, I spent the day thinking about baking bread or bagels or cake or something, just for the brief wall of heat that results, and because there is something really satisfying about kneading dough. I feel as though after a few years being sort of a decent baker, I’ve really stepped up my game, and gone beyond that to some intuitive level of baking. So I started looking for bagel recipes and instead ended up making apple cinnamon stuffed maple challah. I think that really worked out for the better. It was a little sweet, and full of local Ontario apples. This was inspired by The Shiksa’s Apple Honey Challah (not vegan at all) blended with past challah making experience.

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