Tori’s Bake Shop – It’s Pumpkin time

One of my favourite autumn traditions, as leaves begin to change colour, and fall, and the weather gets a little cooler, it’s time for pumpkin flavoured everything. Some people seem to react to this in a derisive way. Not me. Pumpkin flavoured beer (especially the pumpkin pie brew from Mill Street Organic), pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pies, pumpkin everything, pumpkin cake, pumpkin curry, sign me up. I was recently reminded that it’s been a while since we last visited Tori’s Bake Shop, and since we were renting a zipcar this weekend to drop off bags of clothing to charity, it seemed like a great time to drive over for a visit. I felt beckoned by the Pumpkin Pie Pour, and a friend had told me about chocolate croissants, so on the off chance they’d have some, we went.

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Philadelphia Trip – In the Beginning – Govinda’s and Sweet Freedom

We arrived in Philadelphia bright and early on Saturday morning, taking the overnight bus from Toronto starting at 7pm. After successfully navigating the transit system to our hotel downtown, checking in, and showering – JC still made it to his card game nerd festival (okay it was the Magic Grand Prix, and I think he did quite well.) And I began plotting my day. First stop, a cup of tea and a bath. Next I plotted out my way to Sweet Freedom Bakery and Govinda’s (both happen to be on the same street.) People were walking around in full costume – since it was almost Halloween, there was a brewers conference happening, AND there was an open house at the art institute. So walking down S. Broad street was a total treat. Much like Toronto, Philadelphia has a vibrant street art collection, but in the form of sanctioned murals (and minimal graffiti/street art.) You can see this all over the city, and across from Sweet Freedom Bakery at the World Communications Charter School was the beginning of The Roots Mural Project. The project is in honor of (Philly’s own) Award-winning music group, The Roots. I thought about them when the wind and rain started to pick up, hopefully they still managed have a great time while they could. I visited Sweet Freedom Bakery (1424 South Street, Philadelphia, PA) the last time I was in Philadelphia, and it was pretty great, so I had to visit again. It’s still the nice…

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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 Keto Experiment : Week one – Food, Info, Ratios

First of all, a disclaimer: I am not a physician. I am not a nutritionist. I’ll admit to having an academic understanding of biochemistry, and the human body, but I wont delve into it too much for brevity. This is anecdotal single trial human experimentation. For me, this is a temporary experiment, and not something I’d consider as a permanent lifestyle change. I’m also not encouraging this or discouraging it. This is my experience so far. Your millage may vary. I’ve spent the last 7 days doing a Vegan Keto style diet with JC’s brother. He has been doing a non-veg keto for around a year now, and I’ve been curious about how it would work veganized. Like most low carb, high fat, high protein diets, at first glance, it doesn’t really look very vegan friendly. I enjoy the occasional challenge, and I’ve been feeling stuck in a rut with my food choices lately. I felt like I could use some dramatic food changes in my life, so this week, I’ve done that pretty successfully. I’m not really one for “going on a diet”, but I am and have been very curious to see how this one would feel and what changes I would experience. I think one of the major benefits of doing it vegan style is the complete elimination of cholesterol, one of the cited issues people mention with low-carb diets. The con of doing it vegan style is that a suddenly a not-so-limited diet (plant based), becomes a…

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National BBQ Day at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary

I have been interested and involved in Meal Exchange activities ever since the first Halloween I dressed up and collected canned food instead of candy. So when they started promoting National BBQ day, and the idea of supporting local producers I was completely into it. It happened to fall on the same day as Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary’s Open House. Perfect. JC rented a zipcar and we drove down to Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary, we weren’t sure where to stop – until we saw the HUGE row of cars along the street (with the occasional Go Vegan or solar energy bumper sticker.) Heartwarming to see such a crowd. Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary has been in operation since 1999, and is entirely family (and volunteer) run. Located a few kilometers outside of Stratford, Ontario, it is a place where pigs, sheep, donkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, cows, and many others have been rescued from the neglect and slaughter found on meat, milk, and egg farms. To me, there is no greater community to meet and BBQ, than a vegan community BBQ. Local products, a vegan Bake Sale, live entertainment, and getting to meet the amazing people involved in helping make animals lives better. In addition, meeting animals that would not be alive if not for the work of these amazing people was powerful and moving.   Eating and living the way I do has always been about animal rights, it hasn’t been about health, and it hasn’t been directly about the environment. It’s always…

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Hawker Bar on Ossington – Hey Vegan Laksa get in my mouth

I work in social media/digital marketing/new media/whatever. So it delights me when I see businesses using social media effectively to connect with customers and potential customers. There is more to it than just blasting your twitter/facebook stream with self promotion, and not everyone gets that. Some businesses use it better than others. I’ve been a fan of the Poutini style of connecting with people. They get a mention, they acknowledge it, and use it to their best interest (by also including the positive comment in a reply to all of their followers.) So when @HawkerBar added me, I thought… oooh neat, another Ossington bar, I live around there, so I like having options. When I tweeted @HawkerBar: hey vegan stuff? They said sure – recommended vegan laksa, sent me a link to their menu, and it looked good. Fast forward to a few weeks later. Last night we went to a Yelp elite event (yes I Yelp – do you?) at the Gladstone. There was nothing vegan (or even vegetarian) to eat at the event, so after several free beverages courtesy of the Gladstone’s “Crappy Hour” event, JC and I wandered down the street. It was time to eat. But where? Poutini’s was the obvious choice, but I walked right on by. Plus there is the whole, devoid of nutritional value thing that comes with gravy soaked potatoes and vegan cheese (sorry folks, potatoes are great, but you can’t convince me they’re dinner.)  Hawker Bar was on my mind –…

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Beer Festivals in Toronto and Area

Toronto has no shortage of festivals. When summer rolls around it’s festival time, every weekend, there is something to do, something to eat, something to drink, whatever strikes your fancy, it’s probably going to happen somewhere between June – September. Starting this week on June 17th, 2012, Ontario Craft Beer Week, by the Ontario Craft Brewers kicks off a summer celebration of fermented beverages. There will be a variety of beer related events all over Ontario. On July 27th, 2012 it’s time for one of the many beer related festivals – Toronto Festival of Beer, and it’s going to go on for the entire weekend. Over 30,000 people, 60 exhibitors, and over a hundred different kinds of beer. It sounds like a lot of (potential) fun.

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The Vegg – Vegan Egg Yolk Replacer

The Vegg Package

Once upon a time I saw The Vegg online and I thought it was some sort of April Fools Prank that wasn’t possible. The pictures looked… too much like eggs. It looked too good to be true. And the website… looked fake too. However, the website has since improved, and I can verify that The Vegg really does exist and also happens to tastes quite a bit like eggs. Unlike many vegans, I don’t miss cheese, I miss over-easy (easy-over?) eggs. It’s a textural thing that isn’t easy to duplicate through conventional tofu magic. It’s something you can do with a bit of molecular gastronomy (spherification) and black salt to some degree, but it’s not something that’s as easy as crushing up some tofu and throwing it in a pan. Until now.

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The Lovemuffin Bakery: Vegan delivery in Toronto

I have ordered from the lovemuffin bakery twice so far. I’m going to say something, and know that I’m very serious when I do. I am over cupcakes. If I never see another cupcake again, I would be okay with that. Muffins are the new cupcake. I felt the same joy and excitement when I saw the big white cake box on our deck as my first order. Long days at work make me lazy, general laziness makes me lazy, so I’m glad services like Tiffinday, Green Earth Organics, and the lovemuffin bakery exist. It’s nice to not have to worry about making or going out for lunch, or to just come home to a box of organic produce or a box of freshly baked cookies and muffins (or recently – quinoa puttanesca and vegan chili.) When I arrived, it was on our deck – ready, and waiting to be opened and eaten. The box and paper bag look a little strange because I intentionally and poorly edited out our address. I first discovered this delivery bakeshop via twitter/facebook, but ultimately what won out was they donated cookies to a bake sale at Pet Value raising funds for Homeless Cat Rescue, and we decided to drive out and try it. Totally proving that having an engaging online presence, supporting worthwhile causes, and making an awesome product go hand in hand in hand to build up a brand. Okay, and now I’ll take off my marketing hat.

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Drop-In Vegan Dinner at the Depanneur. Okara “Crab” Cake Po’ Boys

I’m continuing my love of The Depanneur (1033A College St.) Corner store by day, dinner establishment by (some evenings), brunch spot, commercial kitchen space, and all around nice stop in Dufferin Grove. We’ve gone several times in the last few months, once to Emily Z’s French Lentil Soup day, Kalmplex’s Hearty Jamaican Soup, Len’s made-vegan risotto and more. Every week or so, we get an email from them about the dinners that are happening. If you’re in Toronto, I’d recommend signing up for it, just in case any of the dishes tickle your fancy. Or connect with them on twitter or facebook, specials and events are posted on there too. There is nearly always something for everyone. It was Chef Emily Zimmerman’s turn again this week. She made these fabulous Okara “Crab” cakes. Okara – if you didn’t know – (I didn’t know) – is the flavourless textureful by-product of tofu making. Somehow this flavourless by-product of tofu making became this umamilicious crispy texture filled nugget of greatness. The nuggets had that perfect texture of crispy exterior, and a slightly dense but flaky interior that broke up the moment your tongue put a little extra pressure on it.  I didn’t get a “seafood flavour” or “crab flavour” to it (in spite of two types of seaweed) which I’m happy with, but it was truly something spectacular. Add to that, these okara nuggets were put in an organic french-style roll, baked in-house by Sara Lapell (of Nice Buns), topped with a vegan remoulade, and…

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