Our Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary Visit

This weekend we went and visited Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary in Campbellville, Ontario. It’s only about an hour and a half west of Toronto, and the drive is quite beautiful (especially because you get to go near the escarpment, and because all the trees are painted with red and gold and green.) On the way, we stopped in to grab a coffee at Flying Monkey Bike Shop and Coffee Bar. Which is this great little place on the side of the road that is both bike shop AND coffee bar. They have soy milk for espresso drinks and wifi if you want to stop in before your Esther visit (or for any other reason.) You need to preregister for a tour at Happily Ever Esther and pay/donate $10 per person for admission, which is pretty much the standard rate around Ontario for sanctuaries that charge for tours. Worth it and more. We drove up to the address, and across a narrow bridge, still not quite sure if we were at the right place (our cell phone service doesn’t extend out there either) – but once we started seeing Fairy Pig cards and “beware of attack pig” on the fence, we knew we had made it. There was a great energy on site when we arrived, people from the earlier tour group were just leaving or wandering around the grounds, the Esther crew were setting up for their totally Sold Out thanksgiving celebration this weekend, and there was a fire going.…

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Pregnancy – The First Trimester – The Adventure Continues

I’ve been writing and rewriting this for the last few weeks, and I’m still not so sure what to say beyond how happy and excited I am about the next stage in this adventure called life. It’s still kind of surreal to think that we will have a new member of the family next year. No matter how I’m feeling, I can’t help but feel this incredible power when I take on my day, my body is literally building another future human being right now. There is something profoundly beautiful, fascinating, exciting, and awe inspiring about that. And I can’t wait to meet them. Really. I can’t wait. But I suppose I have to, so in the meantime, I’ll just focus on taking the best care of myself I can. That’s not to say this has been totally easy, and since I like sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of experiences, in hopes of helping someone out there, let’s get started. Story Time The first three months have been tough, both with the self imposed embargo on revealing our good news, and also harder than expected physically. I feel like the first three months of pregnancy are so hidden – we put on a brave face, we pretend we are okay, we try to pass through the days like we all feel fine. Or at least I did. Nausea So let’s talk about “Morning Sickness”. You might imagine a pregnant person leaning over a toilet bowl first thing in…

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Vegebitez – Oakville – A first visit

We went and visited Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary this weekend, home to the famous Esther the Wonder Pig herself, and on the way back home to Toronto, we stopped over in Oakville to visit Vegebitez, a new vegan and gluten free restaurant. They’ve been open for a few weeks, and I found out about them though an Oakville local’s instagram account, and it just worked out perfectly that we were planning on being in the neighbourhood anyway. First we had 2 mockshakes, I had the Praline, and JC had the Toffee Nut, mine was the best, but he would disagree. Let’s just say, we both got what we wanted. It’s 20 oz of deliciousness, and you might not want to start your meal with it (save it for later maybe?) But I’m not going to tell you what to do. Then we shared a Fritta Pisa – which were sweet corn fritters layered with tempeh ba’cun, topped with red and orange cherry tomatoes, there was some mashed avocado, melty smoked gouda, a slice of lettuce, surrounded with a balsamic drizzle. I ordered the Piñata bowl which had a bunch of great stuff in it: Black Beans, sauteed red and yellow bellpeppers, purple onions, mushrooms, corn, shredded lettuce, a side of salsa, some guacamole, a dollup of sour cream, a crispy cheddar cheeze cracker thing with a few ba’cun bits around. On top of a bed of quinoa. Seemed like a winning bowl, but next time I want to try the Gravy Train.…

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Recreate a meal from your childhood – #VeganMoFo – Leniwe Pieroshki

Another day, another Vegan MoFo Prompt – recreate a meal from your childhood. Well. When I was a little girl, one of my favourite things to eat were Leniwe Peiroshki (pronounced [by me]: Leh-niv-eh Pyeh-rosh-ki, translated = Lazy Perogies). The name is misleading as it wasn’t really that easy to prepare (though still probably easier than making perogies.) But it’s a great way to use potatoes, if for some reason you had some left over (which I don’t understand, but whatever.) I remember sitting around the kitchen table watching my mom make these for me and me being pretty excited. A lot of my happy childhood memories involve being in the kitchen – watching my mom cook, helping prepare something, “helping” to make real perogies with my late-grandmother in the middle of the night a few days before christmas, lots of happy memories center around the kitchen. So this prompt is a fun little trip down memory lane too. Normally Leniwe Peiroshki involves quark (a type of dairy based cheese that’s sort of like a paste & usually a bit sour) which is of course not on my menu anymore. But I’ve noticed that there is a vegan cream cheese made in Toronto from Yoso, that has a very similar texture (at least to what I remember quark being like.) Ever since I made that connection, I was curious about making my favourite childhood dish myself and sharing the recipe. This prompt seems like the perfect opportunity to do just…

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Breakfast when you’re bad at breakfast.

I’m participating in VeganMofo 15 this year, and going to try and follow along with some of the prompts. I did a little intro post yesterday, and I’m looking forward to e-meeting (or IRL meeting) more of you as the month progresses. Today’s Prompt is “Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.” I’m bad at breakfast. At least Monday thru Friday. Or just in general really. I’ll go most of the day without having anything, and then come home and have dinner. It’s been working out for the most part, but I’ve tried to be better at it, but I’ve been saying that for years, and it hasn’t changed. Soylent For a while I was getting packages of soylent in the mail – and for a few weeks I was actually drinking breakfast in the morning and feeling pretty good about it. Soylent is a meal replacement, that tastes neutral, and is very easy to drink. Their most recent formulation is totally vegan, so there are a bunch of body hackers that are just drinking vegan shakes as their main source of nutrition – or lots of other people like me that have periods of time where they are too busy and supplement meals as needed. Or folks that don’t like food (which is not me.) One thing I like about soylent is mixing it with a shot of espresso, turning it into some kind of Soylatte (wait, that doesn’t work) or maybe I could call it…

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Vegan MoFo 2015 Starts Tomorrow!

Vegan Mofo

I’m excited about participating in Vegan MoFo this year, as it will be my… 5 or 6th year participating(?) Maybe more, I don’t know. It’s hard to believe I’ve had this blog or some iteration of this blog for nearly a decade (okay, I started Prairie Vegan in 2007, so there is still a few years left, darn honesty.) When I’m prowling around on Vegan MoFo Participating blogs, I always like getting to know some of the bloggers participating, especially if I’ve never read their stuff before, and enjoy when folks put up an intro post, so here I am doing it. I’m MeShell (I’ve been using that name since high school, so it’s stuck, but no, my parents didn’t ever write it like that), I live in Toronto, with my lovely partner JC, and our 3 cats (plus a nephew-cat,) I’ve been vegan since somewhere in the late 90’s, and I’m originally from Edmonton. A few months ago my partner and I opened up an online vegan grocery store called the V Word Market, and it’s been keeping us pretty busy, and people have been pretty excited – which is exciting! Most of the time you can find me on instagram @VeganInYourCity, where I share pictures of  food, cats, and art I see around whatever city I’m in at the time (usually Toronto.) Tomorrow’s Prompt is “Rise and Shine! It’s MoFo time! Tell us about your breakfast.” Which is fun, because I’m actually terrible at eating breakfast – but I have…

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Drumheller, AB – Royal Tyrrell Museum – Roadtrip 2014

After we got our car serviced for the first time – since we finally hit our first 8000 kms, over half of which was done on our road trip and ate breakfast at Cora’s with my parents, we hit the road. I’m continuing my series of posts from our Summer Roadtrip in 2014, you can see some of the past & present posts on this lovely map on Pinterest, or just click on the Roadtrip 2014 tag Despite what you may think, and sometimes now living in Ontario, I get to hear all the misconceptions from people that have never even visited (or have only been to one city) – Alberta is a beautiful province. You can go from river valleys, to mountains, to deserts with cacti, to parks, and glaciers, and more, and we drove through so much of that in the span of a few days. Drumheller is approximately 3 hours away from Edmonton (and just under 300km), and we (kids that lived in Edmonton) would occasionally bus down there on school trips. It’s also a family friendly road trip destination, so I’ve been there a few times before (especially when paired up with a trip to Calgary or Banff.) This was the first time JC had been to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, so I was looking forward to showing him around and exploring the museum together. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is Canada’s only museum dedicated to the science of palaeontology and houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs, and…

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Edmonton – Loma House – Road Trip 2014

I’m now a year behind on these posts about our 2014 road trip across North America, but I’m going to keep chugging along. They’re stories I want to tell, there are pictures I want to share, and they are memories I want to remember later. You can see some of the past & present posts on this lovely map on Pinterest. On one of our last few days we went over to Loma House – primarily because they were open on a Monday, unlike nearly everyone else, and I’ve heard good things from local vegos online. We were hoping to check out Padmanadi on this visit, but sadly it just didn’t happen. I didn’t particularly enjoy the experience, and so I have been avoiding writing about it – but that morning we were woken up with the sounds of jackhammers outside of our downtown hotel at 7am. So the mood surrounding the visit wasn’t high, and there are some negative factors with my experience and my day. I also don’t do particularly well with heat, and it was around 30. So, take my thoughts with a grain of salt. @CityofEdmonton I’m amazed that construction & jackhammers are permitted to begin at 7 am. Can you tell me what the noise rules are in #YEG? — MeShell (@mdgee) July 28, 2014 That said, service was friendly, JC’s meal looked pretty good. I ordered a big bowl of Hot and Sour soup, which was okay, but not what I was looking for. On a normal…

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Vegan Bar in Edmonton – Arcadia

On my most recent visit to Edmonton (earlier this year), I had the opportunity to visit Arcadia, which is this great vegan bar just on the new fun street of 124. Over the past few years, 124th has really expanded in terms of vegan offerings, starting up with Clever Rabbit, and one of the first homes of Sailin’ On Vegan Food Truck (at the 124 Grand St Market.) So Arcadia has since expanded their menu from the night I was there, but luckily, they still have the incredible sandwich I had. The Green Onion Cake Donair. I’ve had a hard time conveying to non-Edmontonians what a “green onion cake” is, and why it’s so special. Most of the time in my travels and everywhere else, I’ve encountered a thin pastry like scallion/green onion cake similar to a paratha. In Edmonton it’s more of a salty doughy cake with diced green onions in it. It’s not flaky. It has a good density. There is such an obsession with these delicious cakes, there is even someone living in Edmonton with the GreenOnionCakes.com domain, that started a petition trying to make it the official dish of Edmonton. So, take a couple of large green onion cake, and add thinly sliced seasoned seitan donair, pour in some garlic sweet sauce, lettuce and tomatoes, and turn it into a sandwich. Brilliant. I don’t know how I feel about baked green onion cakes vs fried ones, but this sandwich totally worked out perfectly. Some of my Edmonton…

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Memories of Sadie’s Diner in Toronto

We ate our last meal at Sadie’s Diner last weekend. Sadies is was a vegan-friendly meatless restaurant that had been open since 2006, but now it’s closed. I’ve always seen it as an institution in Toronto and was a little surprised it wasn’t open even longer, but it probably helps that I have never known a Toronto without Sadie’s. Sadie’s Diner was one of the first vegan-friendly restaurants I went to in Toronto on my first 48hr visit to Toronto back in 2008, and was one of the first spots I visited when I arrived in 2010 (on the post-university “visit” that has extended to the present.) Known for their all-day-breakfasts, bright teal diner tables, and a huge wall of Pez (the owner Al is a serious collector), this spot did more than serve food – it was home to fundraisers, and art shows and community meetings, and more, and I hope that there will be other local vegan businesses that pick up the torch on the Vegan-Food-For-Charity front, because that level of thoughtfulness and community involvement will be missed. I remember the very first Chili-For-Charity fundraiser I attended (which was also the first time JC and I went to Sadie’s together) back in April 2011 – for ARK II, an organization I’ve since joined as a director. It was my first time meeting the folks involved with ARKII and learning more about what they do. I even won a wallet and a t-shirt from the raffle. Anyway, farewell to Sadie’s, and best wishes…

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