Holidays Over; Back At It.

Ok, wow.  I really disappeared for a while there!  The holidays were, as usual, both wonderfully and painfully packed with parties with family fun.  For a semi-hermit like me, it takes a lot of downtime to balance out all the socializing.  End result: no blog posts for a few weeks.  But I’m back with lots of great content and ideas from the holidays: my vegan-friendly 30th birthday party (I’m a pre-Christmas baby), some awesome new kitchen gadgets to facilitate my never-ending vegetable prep, and (exciting!) a slew of photos of a friend’s RIDICULOUS vintage game collection.  I’ll be churning it all out over the next little while.

I’ll leave you for now with an au-natural photo of me on Christmas morning at my dad’s, with a new vegan cookbook and a cute NES controller-inspired clutch purse.  Brandishing symbols of my two loves… food and games.

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Vegan Poutine!

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Have you made vegan poutine yet?  If not, you better get to it ASAP.

I am actually new to the poutine scene.  I hated gravy growing up, and it wasn’t until I was an adult (and eating a vegan diet) that I was open-minded enough to give it another chance.  So, my first poutine ever was about six months ago at Poutini’s (they make a vegan one!).  It was amazing!  What was I thinking all that time with all the gravy-hate?  As an aside, I’m not usually a fan of Daiya cheese, but I find that in dishes that are very hot and ensure that the Daiya is melted and well-incorporated (like when it’s covered with gravy!) it actually works well and provides quite a cheesy experience.

For this very quick dinner I used frozen shoestring/julienne french fries, cooked until crisp, cheddar-style Daiya (though R informs me that mozza-style would have been more appropriate for poutine; I’m still learning!), and this vegan gravy that is made of pantry staples and easy to prepare.

I paired this bowl of melty yumminess with a kale salad to round out dinner, but the nice thing about the vegan poutine is that it’s not all that unhealthy, having shed the traditional saturated/animal fats.

So… what are you waiting for??

Baked Panko-Beer Onion Rings

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Onion rings! So delicious, but depending on how they’re prepared, they may also be so greasy, unhealthy, and regret-inducing.  These crispy rings are the perfect solution: oil-free, baked, and with a light coating that gives a great crunch while allowing the sweet, delicious onion flavour to shine through.  And despite the various bowls and possible minor mess involved, they are actually pretty quick to prepare.

When I was a kid, I hated onions.  The first time I encountered onion rings was at Harvey’s when I was around ten, and they smelled so good.  My ingenious solution to this yummy-smelling but oniony dilemma was to break each ring in half, pull out the tiny string of onion and cast it aside, and eat just the batter shell.  Wow, eh?  I’ve come a long way since then.

These rings would make a great appetizer or side for a veggie burger, or you can just eat a whole bunch of them for dinner (like I did).  You’ll feel great; no pangs of regret!

  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax
  • 5 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1/3 cup beer (or nondairy milk of choice)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups panko
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large Vidalia/sweet onion (about the size of a baseball)

Preheat oven to 450 and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the ground flax and water and stir well, then let it sit for a few minutes to gel (this is about 2 flax eggs).

Combine the flour, salt and pepper, and place in a shallow bowl.   Combine the panko, garlic powder and paprika and place in another shallow bowl. Once the flax eggs have gelled, add the beer (or milk) and stir, and place in yet another shallow bowl.

Set up the assembly line: flour bowl, flax/beer bowl, panko bowl, baking sheets.

Now you can cut your onion crosswise into very thick slices – mine were about an inch thick.  Pop the rings apart.

(I suggest cutting the onion after getting everything else is ready to minimize onion-related eyeball suffering.  You might want to light a couple of tealights or other unscented candles on the counter to help burn off the onion fumes.  You can also cover the cut onion with a towel to contain the fumes and just reach under to grab rings as you go.)

Make the rings: dredge a ring in flour, dip in flax/beer mixture, then dredge in panko.  Place on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining onion rings.  To save space on the sheets, you can place teeny little nubby rings inside big ones.

Bake for about 20-24 minutes, turning the rings over gently about halfway through.  They should be browned along the edges and soft on the inside.

Serve with leafy celery sticks and dip of choice!  I suggest ketchup, hot sauce, or fancy mustard.  Mega yum.

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