Vegan December Holidays

We’re in New York City, continuing a holiday tradition JC started when he surprised me with a trip away for my birthday in 2012, and we spent new years eve/day in Las Vegas. Then last year were spent it in New Orleans. And now this year, NYC. It spawned from one of those silly ideas where you think… where is the biggest party – where it the place people go to ring in the new year? So we’re in NYC this year, conveniently staying in someone elses otherwise empty and extremely beautiful apartment because a friend of a friend that usually lives here needed someone to take care of her cat. Sometimes lucky doesn’t begin to cover it.

Before we left town though, there were a few holiday celebrations to be had. We celebrated Hanukkah on the first night with JC’s family. Or rather, I arrived late after a harrowing day and still had plates full of awesome homemade latkes. And we all exchanged presents. (here is a great collection of Latke recipes from One Green Planet)

Latkes

The Depanneur Hanukkah Party

And no Hanukkah week would be complete without at least one trip to The Depanneur for one of Emily Zimmerman’s vegan latke parties.

The Depanneur - HanukkahNo visit to The Depanneur is complete without a picture of the outside dinner board. Plus it helps remind me exactly what everything was called.

The Depanneur - Hanukkah These were the Golden latkes with a really delicious spiced apple sauce, and a root vegetable slaw. I wasn’t keen on the coconut sour cream, but everything else was my jam. The best latkes are always the latkes I don’t make myself. Because while I can make a mean latke, even with a food processor, it’s so much nicer to just have a plate of fried potato cakes magically appear in front of me.

The Depanneur - Hanukkah The “Appetizings Plate” with a tofu egg salad and chickpea nori tofu, and a piece of bread.

This was just part of the regular Wednesday night drop in dinner – but Emily Z also held a Supper Club Hanukkah evening, but I missed it because of a late arriving train in November, but I do hope to catch it in the future (and I’ve attended in the past).

The Cinnamon Snail Holiday Order

We were in NYC for American Thanksgiving last month, which of course, I don’t celebrate, but it did inspire me to check in on whether they were offering anything for December – and they were.Cinnamon Snail Holiday Order

I might have gone overboard, but I ordered at least one of each – since I’ve only made it to the truck 2-3 times. And I was curious what it would be like. It felt pricy, but once we got everything it didn’t seem as bad.

JC woke up early on December 24th and went to the pick up spot – it was chaotic, it was raining, and there was a HUGE line up, but he prevailed, and brought us a bag full of delicious food for later. And we slowly sampled the baked goods, and ate a bountiful plate of food in the early afternoon shortly before exchanging presents.

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A box of assorted donuts. Cherry Amaretto cheesecake, Chamomile Glazed Roasted Chestnut Cake Donuts, Eggnog custard, Cardamom roasted pistachio cake donuts, Chocolate Glazed Devils Food Cake Donuts with Smashed Peppermint Candy Canes, Spiced Rum Glazed. Which sadly, we failed to eat before they got a bit dry. Many were sampled and enjoyed though. I think the winner of my heart (and JC’s too) was the Cherry Amaretto Cheesecake donut. Ooh la la.

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A box of assorted cookies. My favourite cookie was the maple ginger snap. Other cookies included in the box (that were still also delicious): Cranberry Glazed Orange Blossom Cookies, Chocolate Sabuca Cookies, Spiced Rum Pecan Cookies, Cherry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies, Eggnog Sugar Cookies.

DSC05546

As I found out, one entree, was really more like 1.5. So we had left overs for a few days. It was such a nice assortment of flavours and colours. Each entree box came with a couple of roasted breaded chestnut crusted tofu cutlets, mixed garlic stewed greens, orange and cranberry quinoa, some baked diced rosemary sweet potatoes, and we also ordered the rosemary root vegetable hash, so plates were full and bellies were happy.

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We actually ended up bringing along a few presents with us (including a large suitcase dedicated to wrapped boxes), and in my childhood tradition, we opened presents on Christmas Eve after dinner.

I have to share one gift JC got me, because I remember sitting in a vegan restaurant on our roadtrip this summer, seeing someone walk in with what initially looked like a YALE sweater… but then it dawned on me that it was in fact a KALE sweatshirt, and I couldn’t stop giggling. The unfortunate thing about this wonderful sweater, is that it has resulted in several people walking up to me or asking me what was up with the shirt.

Somewhere out there, there is a picture of me and some girl in a YALE shirt, because she stopped me on the Hudson River trail for a picture.

Buddha Bodai

For Christmas Day, when (nearly) everything is closed, JC and I walked down the Hudson River path from our temporary apartment in Hells Kitchen/Midtown to Manhattans Chinatown to visit Buddha Bodai One. (The Atlantic did a nice piece on “Why Do American Jew’s Eat Chinese Food on Christmas” if you want to check it out.)

Buddha Bodai

 

It was SO FULL. With a crow of waiting people. The way it works is, that you go inside and get a number, and they call you and queue you based on your party size. (as you can see in the above photo we’re all just crowding around, waiting impatiently.)

I had thought it might be fun to just casually arrange a meetup, but that ended up being impossible. But I was glad we went there and had dim sum. It wasn’t an unpleasant wait, it was a reasonably nice day, we had walked for a few hours, and made single-serving friends with fellow Christmas Chinese Food folks.

Hope you had a great holiday season too!

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.

MeShells Toronto Vegan Gift Guide 2014

And here we go.

Jewellery/Clothing

Herbivore - Vegan is Beautiful

I really like this stamped “herbivore” necklace from Vegan is Beautiful, a new vegan online store selling t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, jewelry, and underpants. They also have some lovely designs for t-shirts with the word “vegan” on them.

Interested in seeing what else they come up with.

Tulsa Nu Essex BlackNella Bella is a vegan handbag and accessories company that uses solely vegan fabrics to create a wide variety of beautiful products. Available at various retailers in Toronto and beyond including EcoExistence (766 St. Clair Avenue W, Toronto) where you can find a variety of other interesting products. Especially into their style clutch as a really simple fashion piece.

Truth Belts makes leather-look belts, without the death. They also have suspenders for youngsters, dog accessories, and bracelets.

Food (non-delivery)

The Golden Apple Confectionary

Vegan Truffle Box from Golden Apple Confectionary

The Golden Apple Confectionary in Liberty Village has a variety of tasty vegan options (like their amazing vegan chocolate english toffee, which I’ve written about before), but here is a nice quick gift: a box of 9 Vegan truffles.

Tori’s Bake Shop Cheese Box (and Gingerbread House kits)

Toris after hours cheese slabGingerbread house

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tori’s Bakeshop has this awesome vegan cheese slab available for order. And it would make a great gift. I’ve already very excitedly ordered my own.

For more info check out their posts on facebook: Cheese Slab box ($45 with the marble board, $35 without) & Gingerbread house kit ($25)

Earth & City

One of my favourite vendors at farmers markets around the city is Earth & City. They’re a great option for fresh foods, spreads, cookies, and treats.

Earth and City Holiday Menu

They’ve got a bunch of great sounding options for available for order over the holiday, and you can just pick up some of their treats at one of the farmers markets they’re at, or you can email them and they’ll deliver to you. Contact them for more info.

Soup Girl

Soup Girl
I picked up one of these gift sets at the West End Food Coop Market, and I thought it was lovely – an easy and beautiful gift of soup. I really love the way the jars looked – we actually bought it for ourselves with a variety of really tasty looking soups premixed – but you can also put together your own (see the list here). All of the soups are vegan by default, and they do look lovely and assempled on a natuarl, food-safe wooden base, and tied with ribbon. Find out more here.

Food/Drink Delivery

Have you ever considered giving the gift of groceries or dinner? It’s not a bad idea anytime of the year especially for busy families, or students. Some of these folks offer gift certificates, or are friendly enough to be easy to work with, and it’s so nice to make someones life a little easier.

Green Zebra Meal Delivery – Gourmet meals delivered
Mama Earth Organics – Organic grocery delivery service.
Front Door Organics – Organic grocery delivery service.
Lovemuffin Bakery – Gourmet Meals, Muffins, other baked goods.

There are more grocery delivery options in the city, but these are just the ones I’ve had positive experiences with.

The Roasters Pack

The Roasters Pack - everything in the box

The Roasters Pack has a holiday gift option, and it’s especially fantastic for any coffee lover in your life. I wrote about receiving the box a few months ago, and how much I enjoyed it. And if you have adventurous coffee friends in your life, it’s a great opportunity to get a trio of different coffees delivered to their door. They are based out of Toronto, but do include roasters from all around North America.

Julie’s Baskets

Edited_Wellness_Vegan_107_1024x1024

Julie from Julie’s Baskets has a variety of vegan friendly baskets available, but I really liked this collection of Wellness Gift Items, especially since it just happens to be over 50% full of Toronto and surrounding area creators like The Honest Leaf, Inspired Soap Works, Pretty Organic Cosmetics, Nud Food, & Made Good Food.

Plus it comes with an Oh She Glows Cookbook.

Coffeecology

Coffeecology Gift Box

Coffeecology is a coffee delivery service that has fair trade organic and/or bird friendly coffees. Again, if your friend is a coffee lover like me, they might appreciate the above giftbox trio of assorted coffees, or just a few weeks of coffee deliveries.Check them out here.

Canadian Preserves Box from Bites Baskets

Canadian_Preserves

This box contains so many wonderful preserves made in Canada.

Body Care/Make Up /Pampering

HeartCoeur

HeartCoeur has become one of my favourite spots for vegan-friendly make up. Friendly service, easy ordering, and based out of Toronto, it’s nice to support them. Add to that CharmOverHarm fundraising initiative and I’m just extra keen on what they’ve been up to. (that’s right, I said keen.)

heartcour holiday gift sets

The wise ones over at HeartCoeur have put together these great Holiday Sets.

My favourites in this collection are:

CAMP Skincare Set, with the added bonus that CAMP is based out of Toronto too. Everything I’ve picked up from CAMP has smelled wonderful, and has made my skin super soft.
MeowMeowTweet Lavender Lovers set. (MeowMeowTweet is based out of Brooklyn, NY)

Just the Goods

Just The Goods Mini SpaJust the Goods is based out of Winnipeg but I have to mention their really lovely gift sets, because I still haven’t found quite the same kind of thing here in Toronto (if you have recommendations – please share them!) The Above picture is of their Mini Spa Kit, and it’s small and makes a great quick gift or stocking stuffer.

The other nice thing I saw on the gift set page were the Care Packs – like this “Be Vibrant” set, featuring items from around Canada. Aromatherapy oil & bath melts (from Winnipeg), herbal tea (from BC) , a soy candle (from Mother Earth Essentials in Edmonton, AB), and soap (from Wild ReLeaf in Sault Ste Marie, ON)

Smells Like Canada

Does your friend have a wonderful experience from one of Canada’s lovely national parks that they can’t stop telling you about? Smells Like Canada makes soy-based candles with scents that are like national parks in their Parks of Canada collection. You can find them at spots around town like Scout, Kid Icarus, Cry Wolf, & North Standard Trading Post.

They’re at the One of A Kind Holiday market this week, but will have stuff available for sale on their etsy shop by the middleof the month. 

Speckled Fawn Soaps

Speckled Fawn Soaps Buy now on Etsy or in store at Apiecalypse now in the Annex, OR get perks in January for supporting their Indiegogo campaign now. Speckled fawn soaps is a Toronto based body care company that has lip balms and salves and soap.

Sudsatorium

mix and match with Sudsatorium If you haven’t smelled any of Sudsatorium’s handmade body care products made with ethically sourced fresh organic vegan ingredients… it’s a great time to treat yourself. Plus, this mix and match set comes in a variety of sizes. Now the hardest part is deciding what to get out of their fairly prolific selection of products.

You can meet them at a variety of markets this time of year and always – check them out at a current local market or order online.

Samana Naturals

samana naturals The perfect stocking stuffer – LIP BALM. Also, it’s winter. The one thing I need a whole bunch of, is lip balm. They’ve also got a variety of nicely scented lotions (I have a lavender one sitting on my desk) and a variety of bars of soap.

Toys and Kid/Youth Stuff

Let me preface this by saying – I don’t have any kids, and don’t know what kids like, but I know what I like, and if I was a kid, I would like these things. Actually, I currently like these things, and if someone wanted to give me one of them, I’d also be pretty darn delighted.

The Mefits

superherogirls5banner You know when you see something and it just tugs on the heartstrings a little… that’s how I felt when I saw The Mefits. They’re made in Toronto, are made from EcoFi, which is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. You can find them at a variety of stores in Toronto and online.

(I’d recommend wandering over to This Little Piggy a parent and kids shop in Parkdale, 1594 Queen Street West, because it’s also super cute)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Solo Sally.  The mefits are making my heart burst with happiness, and I think it’s because of the little buttons they’ve got – especially this three pack of really lovely encouraging buttons. Or maybe it’s just everything. Tell me what you think.

Santa Cat

AR-141128967.jpgupdated201411261208MaxW800maxH800updated201411261208noborder-460x404 Our Hen House just posted a review of this adorable book yesterday. Another Story can order this book in, but it’s not currently available in store.

Sick on Sin

swatch_dinosaurs_bk_161545d3-0e15-4455-9875-fa8a82af0c00 They’ve got a lot of adorable t-shirts to choose from, and buttons, and underpants, and adult t-shirt, but I especially loved this cute herbivore Dino shirt. Unfortunately, it only comes in sizes for 6 months to 12 years (or I guess fortunately if you want an adorable shirt for a kid in your life.) Happily, I was totally wrong and these designs are available for adults too (and kids!)

Shameless Subscription

Shameless_Issue_27-Final-LowResProof-R1.1-page-001_300_400_90_c1 This is more for older kids, but I love this empowering magazine. Shameless is an independent, Canadian (Toronto), volunteer run magazine, grounded in principles of social justice and anti-oppression, that is mostly directed at young women and trans youth. They tackle tough topics but at levels that are easy to understand, but are not patronizing.

I read the most recent issue, happily, on the train, and didn’t at any point feel like I was being talked down to. It is spectacular, and I wish it was around when I was a lot younger, but I’m glad it is around now.

Pre- Order Holiday Menus in Toronto

There are many places in the city offering pre-order vegan holiday menus, here are some of the ones I’ve seen so far. I will add to this as I get more information.

Markets / Events

Art / Books / Calendars

Photo Prints from We Animals/Jo-Anne Arthur We Animals Book Jo-Anne is a local photographer that has also come out with a beautiful book recently, also called We Animals. It’s filled with pictures from around the world, Jo-Anne’s thoughtful words, and would make a beautiful gift to a friend that doesn’t have it yet. It’s a gentle book, much like the authour seems to be, with beautiful and occasionally haunting images.

Street Cat Rescue Men With Cats Calendar

street cat rescue men with cats calendar I couldn’t put together a gift list without including this calendar on it, because I’m involved in this project and Saskatoon’s Street Cat Rescue is still so important to me, despite not living in Saskatoon anymore. For me, it’s hard to quit something like that. I’m invested. It’s incredible what an impact this calendar can have as a fundraising effort, and it’s even more incredible to me to see orders coming in from around the world. I find it heartwarming to see so many coming from Toronto, and I’m always so delighted to see a familiar name. You can order one online here: Streetcat.ca/mwc

Panda with Cookie Custom Cat/Dog Ornaments

Panda With Cookie Custom Cat Ornament   This is Kes with her cat ornament copy from Panda With Cookie. Panda With Cookie is based out of Portland, but this is such a fun gift that I have to mention it. Plus vegan run businesses are cool. The fun part about these is that they can hang around anywhere anytime. This year I’m hoping to get a custom ornament of Marmo, since she’s the newest addition to the family. The store has a whole bunch of other fun and cool stuff that is worth looking at, so do go check it out!

Home Stuff

Vegan Dish – Nutritional Yeast Jar

nutritional yeast portland This is another thing from Portland, but I LOVE THIS JAR (and I don’t even like nutritional yeast that much), and the stamped on clay style of some of Vegan Dish’s other clay work. Available on Etsy. They also had a small stamped soy creamer jar that I’d also love to have, so if you’ve seen something like that please share!

Marble & Wood Cheeseboard from the Drake General Store

cheeseboards_1 I’ve been getting really into putting together nice vegan cheeseboards (see Miyoko’s, see Weekend Cheeseboard Fun) so I’m always on the look out for great boards that aren’t covered in beeswax. You can find these Marble and Wood Cheeseboards at The Drake General Store.

This weird and wonderful wine bottle holder from Son of a Woodcutter.

IMG_9114Made in Toronto, it defies logic, but ascribes to the laws of physics. Plus, if you’re into that kind of thing, it’s a really cool way of holding a bottle of vino for a dinner party.

A Milk Frother.

350-351404-894__1 I know, people like their wand frothers, and they’re fine, but the day we got our Krupps Milk Frother, everything changed and we were in fancy coffee at home town. If you feel like giving an especially extravagant gift – it pairs well with one of the coffee delivery services above. I’ve had really positive experiences with this one

Make your own Gifts

Why not pull together some ideas from these brilliant folks, and make your own gifts for friends? All of these books and e-books offer a unique take on holiday baking and presentation ideas.

Edible Gifts from Lisa Pitman & Nicole Axworthy

EdibleGifts_Cover You can make your own gifts by picking up an electronic copy of a book from local vegan organizers of the Toronto Vegan Bake Off – Nicole Axworthy (A Dash of Compassion) & Lisa Pitman’s (Vegan Culinary Crusade) book on Edible Gifts. Find it here: Edible Gifts: Spread the Vegan Food Love at Every Occasion. Partial proceeds are going to charity. Lisa has also put together a selection of recipes from their ebooks that would work perfectly as gifts.

Vegan Food Gifts from Joni Marie Newman

Vegan Food Gifts You can also find some really nice ideas in Vegan Food Gifts from Joni Marie Newman (Bonus: It is available at the Toronto Public Library.

I love a lot of the “Food Gift in a Jar” ideas in this book, and she’s even kind enough to share some of these online on her blog, just to name a few:

Double Bonus – if you keep going to the bottom of this page, I’m giving away a copy of this wonderful book!) There are more than 100 recipes and ideas for homemade baked goods, preserves, and other edible gifts that are totally loveable.

Seitan is my Motor – Free Holiday Baking E-Book

Holiday Baking EBook This beautiful and FREE holiday baking e-book from the incredibly talented Mihl/Seitan is my Motor blog. It has 15 great recipes for holidays favourites to make and share. Get it over at her blog.

Workshops at the West End Food Coop

Want to learn something new, and make a sweet gift at the same time? West End Food Coop has some think-outside-the-box possibilities that might be a whole bunch of fun. Check out their schedule here

Other Gift Lists

Miscellaneous

Give the gift of education to yourself or a friend – I just saw this George Brown Continuing Education series is starting up again in January, and it looks like a lot of fun. The Vegetarian Culinary Arts class looks incredible if you have the time, money, and inclination!

Donate

While the tangible type stuff is fun and occasionally so useful or delicious, donations to animal rescues, farm sanctuaries, human helping organizations, and other groups that are meaningful to you or your friends & family make exceptionally thoughtful gifts. I have always been especially touched by the gifts people gave on my behalf to local (and not-so-local) organizations that I care about, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way. So remember… if you’re looking for the perfect gift, it might just be to that charity your pal has mentioned or shared facebook/twitter posts from.

First of all – 10 Reasons To Say NO To Animal Gifting Hunger Relief Organizations

Here are a few groups you might want to consider:

There is also this list from the City of Toronto I saw on Know Thy Food‘s Facebook page – 2014 Holiday Wishlist

“If you are looking for ways to help people who are homeless and vulnerable this holiday season, here are some suggestions from the community agencies that serve them. Click the points on the map or see the list below for what items each agency needs, volunteer opportunities and events. Organizations have been listed in alphabetical order.

There is a map and list of organizations available. Check it out.

There are so many more you can support – just take a look around out there for things that mean something to you! Donate vegan food to the food bank, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but every food bank in the city could use your support!

GIVEAWAY!

“This is open to anyone in Canada, just comment on this blog entry, tweet, and/or visit my Facebook page to enter. Winner will be contacted on or after December 12th. So leave an accurate email address if you want to win!” a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you have any trouble with this, you can also access it on my facebook page.

What is your favourite gift to give or receive?

Things I Love Thursday – Local Vegan Toronto Gift Ideas 2013 Edition

For 2014 – please go here.

There are lots of general vegan gift idea lists out there, so please do check them out (I’ll link to some of them at the bottom of this post), but it’s worth looking locally to tap into the great community of creators and crafters, bakers, makers, and ingenuous entrepreneurs that we have in our city. There are also some wonderful organizations to support this time of year, as well as food and products to buy, made right here in the GTA.

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 awesome, but you’ll also see some new faces (because the vegan business community has really grown in 2013.)

I welcome your suggestions for other local vegan friendly businesses and organizations to support, please add them in the comments.

Vegan Food

Apiecalypse Now!

APIECALYPSE large Basket

With exciting news just around the corner, there are also APieCalypse Now!’s mega awesome gift baskets to take advantage of. Available in both gluten free and glutenlicious varieties, in large baskets and in small, you have a lot to choose from. The baskets are full of almost entirely hand-made things, made with organic locally grown flour, fair trade sugar, and horizontal trade chocolate from ChocoSol (They’re even on the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate list.)

Check out what else is on offer in the ApieCalypse Now! online store. (you have until December 15th to pre-order the big stuff in time for xmas – BUT you might  be able to pick up other fun stuff in the Annex soon. Follow the APieCalypse Now facebook page for more details!)

Chocosol

This year our local pedal powered artisan chocolatier is doing a 13 Days of Solstice posting on their website. Everyday between December 9th to December 21, they will unveil a new holiday gift pack, and once it’s been displayed, you can buy it, as well as all the previous holiday packs they’ve shown off.

I really love that they have a cute little sticker for the package of drinking chocolate that says in their usual style – “This is NOT a Christmas Gift, It’s an equitable, ecological and energy conscious expression of love and festive joy”

day 1 gift pack
4 drinking chocolate packages, 2 pucks per package (Xocolatl, Vanilla Xoco-latte, Aztec Blood, Oaxacan Cinnamon) – $30

Gift packs can be picked up at their kitchen location (1131 St. Clair West) or they can also send packages to regular farmers’ markets (for market packages, please email them with a few days notice to info@chocosoltraders.com).

Find out more here

Tori’s Bakeshop

Gingerbread House Kits Which include six house pieces, organic candy, and a huge bag of frosting and look absolutely adorable. $20

Last year they were selling really cute chalkboard mugs and cookies closer to the end of December, and if they happen to be selling those chalkboard mugs, just know that they’re great and we still have (and love) ours from last year!

Festivus Tickets

Festivus - Urban Acorn

Urban Acorn is doing another Vegan Supper Club on December 28th. You could always surprise your sweetie with an invitation to air grievances (and eat tasty vegan food too!)

After attending one of their previous supper clubs, I can only imagine this one will be tonnes of fun too. I’d be buying tickets for JC and I, but we’ll be out of town that day.

Find out more about the menu and buy tickets here on Bento Miso’s site.

Alchemy Pickle Company

There is also Rebekka Hutton of the Alchemy Pickle Co. with fermented veggies, sodas, kombucha, & plant based soaps. Her stuff is also available around town at farmers markets, holiday markets, and at the West End Food Coop.

Alchemy Pickle Co ChocoMint Soap One thing that might tickle your fancy (or someone elses) is to give someone the gift of pickles! Contact her to find out more about the next “Pickle Share” which starts up again on Jan 6th.

By participating in the Pickle Share you or your giftee get access to smaller batch pickles not available to the public, and a regular supply of favourites. This model supports a small business by giving us the funds ahead to purchase supplies and produce to make your pickles, and gives you insider access to the pickle kitchen! They also have gift certificates.

Sounds pretty awesome to me.

West End Food Coop

West End Food Coop Gift Basket - Jams!

I have a love-love relationship with the West End Food Coop so when I went in and saw they had some nice gift baskets made up I had to take a closer look.

West End Food Coop Gift Basket - For the Baker!

Not all of the prepared gift baskets are vegan, but many of them are, so take a closer look and find something awesome – or get inspired and make your own, while supporting a food co-op that does some great work in the Parkdale community.

You can also give someone a WEFC membership. $5 dollars gets them a card. Paired with a few wooden market bucks for use at WEFC & the Sorauren Farmers Market, it’s a great little gift/stocking stuffer.

Live On Chocolate

I know, I know. This is where the bias comes in. I really like chocolate. So when I saw cute snowmen and mint chocolate bars from Live On Chocolate at Live Market in Liberty Village recently I thought… well darn, that’s a really good stocking stuffer (if that’s your kind of thing).

Live On Chocolate is another Toronto Chocolatier on the Food Empowerment Project’s ethical Chocolate List, and you can find it at locations around the city, check listings here.

Bunner’s Bake Shop

While they aren’t doing any holiday baskets this year, they do have some holiday themed items on the menu and available.

They’re taking orders for gluten free vegan treats like apple crumble pie, pear cranberry crisp, cinnamon buns, cookies, cupcakes, stuffing, and more!

Check out the delicious list here on facebook.

(And… by the way, did you know they’ve been open for 3 years this month! I remember visiting on their very first day!)

Through Being Cool

I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m a big fan of this place and it’s not entirely that they’re the closest vegan bakery to my house, they’re also just really good.

Through Being Cool Cookie Jar If you walk into Through Being Cool you’ll see adorable vintage style jars of cookie mix that are perfect for gifting to a friend (or yourself.) And also various jams and jellies and condiments along the wall that would look mighty adorable in a basket with a bow.

Like Bunner’s, TBC also has a delicious selection of vegan holiday foods you can order in advance for celebrations or parties or dinners for yourself you might be having at home.

Untitled This is just a photograph of my crumpled up order form. Pick up a nice form at Through Being Cool Bakery on Bloor & Lansdowne and order your own holiday treats!

Clothes/Body Care/Books

Sure, you can order online from various retailers online like VeganEssentialsVeganCutsVShoenMooShoes, or NiceShoes, and many others, but we’re lucky that there are a quite a few non-food vegan creators that count Toronto as their home base too.

Nella Bella  Mirage group

Nella Bella is a vegan handbag and accessories company that uses solely vegan fabrics to create a wide variety of beautiful products. Available at various retailers in Toronto and beyond including EcoExistence (766 St. Clair Avenue W, Toronto) where you can find a variety of other interesting eco-friendly (but not always vegan) products.

Truth Belt Zombie-Black-Belt

Truth Belts makes leather-look belts, without the death. They also have suspenders for youngsters, dog accessories, and bracelets. The belt in the picture above is the same belt I won from a draw at the Vegetarian Food Festival back in 2010, and it lasted me for a very long time.

The belt I have my eye on this year is the Gemini, a reversible belt with a brown leather-look side, and a brown side.

We Animals Book

Photo Prints from We Animals/Jo-Anne McArthur or you can pre-order We Animals the beautiful new book by Jo-Anne McArthur.

We backed the Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the book and I’m really looking forward to picking up a copy from her soon.

Toronto Vegetarian Association

Give the gift of discounts at a bunch of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in the city with the TVA Holiday Gift Pack.

What is it? $50 gets you or a friend a TVA membership, Toronto Veg Card, cookbook of your choice, gluten-free Sweets from the Earth treat, and a TVA button.

Offer ends December 16th.

Find out more here.

Cocoon Apothecary

Organic & Vegan Gift Sets are available from locally made body care product creator Cocoon Apothecary.

Lavender Gift Set Cocoon ApothecaryEverything I’ve picked up or sampled from from Cocoon Apothecary always smells heavenly, but my favourites have been lavender and rose scented things. There are several different pre-made gift packs available from them right now, and everything is 100% plant-based.

You can order online directly from the Cocoon Apothecary site, get some of their stuff from Well.ca, or from The Big Carrot on Danforth in Toronto.

Coffee

Indie Coffee Passport.

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I’ve sung the praises of the  indie coffee passports recently, on a very long blog post, but it bears repeating – the Indie Coffee Passport is a great Toronto loving gift. Help your pal discover the city through fancy independent coffee shops. Buy two for maximum fun.

Some coffee shops still have them for sale (I bought a few at Cabin Fever Coffee Collective on Bloor and I know they  still have some left OR you can also buy them online at the Indie Coffee Passport website)

Coffeecology

Coffeecology

Give your friend the gift of home bike delivered coffee from Coffeecology I first saw these folks at the Green Living Show earlier this year and ordered a few of deliveries of their espresso roast before we moved to our new place.

The coffee was great, fair-trade, and organic, some of it supports women’s programs in the developing world, some of it is designated bird-safe. Follow your heart. There are several different types of coffee you can choose from (and all prices vary a little bit.)

It’s Delivery!

Have you ever considered giving the gift of groceries or dinner? It’s not a bad idea anytime of the year especially for busy families, or students.

Green Zebra Meal Delivery – Gourmet meals delivered
Mama Earth Organics – Organic grocery delivery service.
Front Door Organics – Organic grocery delivery service.

There are more grocery delivery options in the city, but these are just the ones I’ve had positive experiences with.

Make Your Own Gifts

EdibleGifts_Cover

You can make your own gifts by picking up an electronic copy of a new book from local vegan organizers of the Toronto Vegan Bake Off (and oh so many other things) – Nicole Axworthy (A Dash of Compassion) & Lisa Pitman’s (Vegan Culinary Crusade)

Find it here: Edible Gifts: Spread the Vegan Food Love at Every Occasion.

This year part of their profits are going to the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

Vegan Food Gifts

You can also find some nice ideas in Vegan Food Gifts from Joni Marie Newman (Bonus: It is available at the Toronto Public Library.)

Events

Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary – Hope for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays - Cedar Row FundraiserThis weekend is full of “Holiday” themed events around the city. While not exactly in Ontario, one opportunity to pick up gifts and baked goods is at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary’s Hope for the Holidays event on December 14th, between 2pm – 7pm. It has also been extended to include December 15 from 1pm to 4pm.

Last year, one of the gifts that really touched me was when JC sponsored some of the animals at Cedar Row in honor of my birthday, so it’s always nice to go back and visit. Such a happy place.

Check out the event on facebook.

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There are a few small press events that might appeal to you, they’re not exclusively vegan, but there are lots of creative crafters making things locally. Check out the wonderful list the Toronto Indie Arts Market has put together.

Some Ontario Organizations to Consider

While the tangible type stuff is fun and occasionally so useful or delicious, donations to animal rescues, farm sanctuaries, human helping organizations, and other groups that are meaningful to you or your friends & family make exceptionally thoughtful gifts.

As I mentioned above with Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, I was especially touched by the gifts people gave on my behalf to local organizations that I cared about, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way. So remember… if you’re looking for the perfect gift, it might just be to that charity your pal has mentioned or shared facebook posts from.

Here are a few groups you might want to consider:
Cedar-Row Farm Sanctuary in Ontario does some amazing work to rescue farm animals and gives them a forever home. You can learn more about them or sponsor chickens or pigs or goats and more by visiting their sponsorship page

Story Book Farms Primate Sanctuary – A primate sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.

Teja’s Animal Sanctuary – an animal rescue with over 60 animals that wouldn’t be alive if not for Teja’s.

Wishing Well Sanctuary – an animal rescue and youth education and rehabilitation center in Bradford, ON

Red Door Shelter – an organization that assists families, refugees, and women fleeing violence.

There are so many more you can support – just take a look around out there for things that mean something to you! Donate vegan food to the food bank, it doesn’t have to be fancy, but every food bank in the city could use your support.

Vegan Gift Guide – Anywhere, Anytime.

There are a few resources online for vegan gift giving. Check out these lists from some great folks:

I hope this guide gives you some ideas or introduces you to something new. Please feel free to share your own suggestions for vegan-friendly companies and organizations in Toronto in the comments.

 

Things I Love Thursday – A Few Local Toronto Vegan Gift Ideas

I’ve been thinking about vegan gift ideas for the last few weeks, and there have already been lots of great ideas put out there by the Toronto Vegetarian Association and the Torontoist‘s Toronto Themed Gift List. Toronto has this great community of creators and crafters, bakers and makers, and ingenuity. There are good organizations to support this time of year, as well as food and products to buy, made right here in the GTA.

Here are my totally biased choices for local/Toronto/vegan gift ideas.

Continue reading Things I Love Thursday – A Few Local Toronto Vegan Gift Ideas

Vegan Christmas 2010

This year was different than Christmases past, I was not with my family in Edmonton like I normally am this time of year. The trip home was too expensive, sadly a trip from Toronto to England was cheaper than a trip home, so I’m delaying my visit to Edmonton until sometime in January.

I spent this Xmas with friends and their family. I spent the greater part of Xmas Eve and Xmas Eve Eve running around the city looking for ingredients for my contribution to the Christmas Dinner as well as one of my gifts (a few freezable meals that are easy to prepare).

This also marked the first time I’ve ever been in Panacea, and it was one of those weird moments where I realized that I actually *like* reading labels now. I didn’t know what to do, it’s a reflex to read what is in everything so even though Panacea is Toronto’s Vegan Supermarket, there I was, standing in the aisles reading jars of sauces. It was a bigger version of Portland’s Food Fight, and really well stocked (and friendly people!) It had everything I was looking for, from mozzarella style Daiya (which is what I was on the hunt for) to delicious little locally made vegan chocolates from Boardwalk Chocolate to lip balm without beeswax (which is pretty hard to find these days). So I walked out of there with a bag full of stuff and ready to cook up a storm.

right after a grocery shopping frenzy

Every year my mom and I make a vegetable salad (sałatka jarzynowa) and every year it’s a little different, but always fun to make. Hours of cooking, chopping, arranging, mixing, and chatting. I made due with the magic of technology with a phone call across the country while I was cooking and chopping everything.

love this apron

In our version of sałatka jarzynowa, and believe me, there are many different versions, celery root is probably the most important. The funny thing is, that in Edmonton there were periods of time where it was difficult to find in the stores. But while I was house-sitting in Roncesvalles (a very Polish area of Toronto), the selection was great. Organic or not, local or not, whatever I wanted, the veggies were there.

So this year, I put in:

  • 1 celery root, halved, boiled and finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled, boiled and finely chopped
  • 3 potatoes, boiled and finely chopped
  • 1 can of peas
  • 1 can of white beans
  • a few sprigs of parsley, chopped.
  • mustard (as much as you want) – any kind is fine, I used regular yellow mustard, but dijon is also great.
  • soynaise/veganaise/nayonaise (optional)

I threw the two halves of celery root, the carrots, and (unpeeled) potatoes into a giant pot, brought it to a boil and waited until they were tender when I violently stabbed the poor veggies with a fork.

veggies in pot

I boil the potatoes with the skin, because it’s easier to peel them after they are cooked, and not lose any delicious potato goodness.

All veggies out of the pot and onto my cutting board. Finely chopped, so that it’s as small as it can be without being mashed. A couple of pulses with the food processor would work great for that.
Finely chop the parsley.
Empty can of peas and a can of white beans into a big bowl, toss in chopped veggies and parsley, and voila you have this:

the making of vegetable salad

Add the mustard (I put in about 8 tbsps, but it really depends on how you feel about mustard) and a few table spoons of the vegan mayo (if you want to). I put a layer of vegan mayo on top, because it mixes in well when people dig in. a few parsley trees in the middle, and other decoration if you feel like it. And you’re done.

vegetable salad

I was thrilled with how well received it was. People kept going back for more, and even asked if they could take some home. The best compliment is an empty plate. There is a lot of satisfaction in that.

My friend made Roasted squash, cranberry, walnut and mango puff pastry parcels, (recipe here) which were FANTASTIC. I really need to play around with puff pastry a bit more, but I have some phylo dough sitting around in the freezer that I should do something with first.

puff pastry

This was a great side dish with various root veggies, like squash, baby potatoes and carrots. I love how simple it is, just drizzled with some olive oil, some salt and baked and it adds such great colour to the table.

root veggies

Now the apple pie was so yummy, but the recipe is still a secret at the moment. But I can tell you the inside was mushy delicious apples with cinnamon and just a hint of sugar.

Apple Pie

I hope everyone had a great December, whatever holiday you celebrate (if any)!

Vegan Polish Xmas 2009

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas Eve in our typical fashion, a focus on family, friends and eating, followed by a gift exchange. I’m not sure if everyone was feeling so disinterested in exchanging gifts as I was this year, but it was rather tame.

A few days ago my mother and I woke up bright and early to make peirogies. Starting out by chopping up cabbage, grinding dried mushrooms and portabella mushrooms, mixing in a few spices and then cooking it till it is a nice dark green colour. The dough was made simply with flour and water with a touch of salt, and spent a lot of time being kneeded (the proper technique I learned from a baker extrordinaire came in handy, at least a little bit.) 




Yesterday afternoon I met up with a friend at Phobulous (8701 Ave & 109 st, Edmonton) and had a spring roll vermicelli noodle vegetarian dish (I believe it was the only one that was vegetarian on their menu.)



Dinner with the family was at 5pm, we exchanged wishes for the new year, and had borscht, baked tofu, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and a vegetable salad, followed by exchanging presents and watching Star Wars.




Tomorrow is my birthday, so we’ll be going out for a Boxing Day brunch. I’m debating leaving Edmonton at midnight (tomorrow evening/on the 27th) to return to Saskatoon so I can unpack and get my apartment ready for when I get back in town again. I wont have much time to do that since I’m flying out to Portland on the morning of the 28th and staying for a week or so. It will be quite the busy few days.

Vegan Polish Xmas 2008

It has certainly been a while. I’m currently in Edmonton celebrating christmas with my family. Celebrating christmas in my family is more of a Polish tradition then necessarily anything to do with religion, but then again, Poland is generally quite Catholic. My family is primarily interested in spending quality time together and EATING!!!

So, what does a vegan Polish Christmas Eve dinner at my house look like? There are only three people in my immediate family, so you might notice the extra empty place setting. That’s traditional in many families, and is for an unexpected guest, or a drifter, or anyone that might drop by in need of food.

We started with a freshly made beet soup (Barscz), consisting of shredded beet root, sliced celery, leeks, green onion, salt and pepper, lemon juice and hazelnut oil. In the center of each plate is a brown sugar baked yam.

After that we have homemade perogies. On Monday my mother and I made approximately 250 of them, and froze most of them. They have a slightly sour and salty cabbage and mushroom filling, the dough is absolutely simple: flour, water, and just a touch of salt. The most difficult part of making them is kneading the dough, which is both really physical, and really important to get the right consistency.

Then we have a selection of salads. This year we had potato salad, a slightly sweet cabbage salad, and a vegetable salad.

The vegetable salad (sałatka jarzynowa) is rather traditional Polish fare, though the recipe varies from region to region and family to family you know what it is when you see it. 🙂

My recipe for sałatka jarzynowa involves potatoes, onions, a fresh celery root, carrots, green peas, white beans, mustard, pickles, salt, pepper, and hazelnut oil. The salad usually has mayonnaise mixed into it, but we have always just covered the top with it. Of course, in my case it’s slathered with veganaise. Sometimes people put horseradish in it, or eggs. I’ve even seen recipes calling for prawns or other fish.

The potato salad has potatoes boiled in the skin, celery (and celery leaves), green onion, pickles, pickle juice and walnut oil in it. It’s garnished with a few tomatoes and some cilantro.

Thanks for reading, and I hope if and/or whatever holiday you celebrate was fantastic. Have a great new year!