Friday Finds (on a Monday)

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I missed my usual post this Friday. I have a (kind of) good excuse. I had an interview in the morning and then spent the afternoon at the beach with my sister. I hear what you’re thinking, does Toronto have beaches? Yes, we have some seriously beautiful beaches (see above) And contrary to common belief you can in fact swim in lake Ontario. Not everywhere no, but Woodbine beach, Toronto Island all have swimmable beaches. If you are willing to brave the constantly freezing water. All weekend was busy, especially with Father’s day on Sunday. I baked the vegan key lime pie for my Dad. So what’s been happening in the world this week? Really, not a lot of great things. A lot of really heartbreaking things have been happening.

First of all let’s listen to what Samantha Bee has to say about gun control in America following the devastating hate crime massacre in Orlando. She and John Oliver seem to be the spiritual successors to John Stewart.

Second of all, let’s have a moment of respect and silence for all those murdered because of their sexual orientation. We need to know the names and faces of the victims in Orlando.

So, to completely switch topics from horror to small wonders, have you all heard about aquafaba? Aka bean water? You know when you get a can of chickpeas and you drain it? Apparently we’ve been draining away a miracle ingredient for vegan bakers! Chickpea water, sorry aquafaba (sounds so much fancier that way) can make vegan meringues! I will 100% be testing this out soon.

To go with my beachy theme here is a list of the Best Toronto Beaches if you are in Toronto or going to visit my fair city in the summer time, you should definitely check them out. We only get three months of summer here in Toronto so we soak up every possible moment of it.

Finally a simple recipe for lentils and rice. When I was a kid I loved lentils and rice and my Dad would always make it for me. I had a disastrous attempt to make it myself way back when I was first living on my own and learning how to cook through trial and error. I think it’s time I give it another go and see if I like it as much now as I did then.

And while I’m on the topic of my Dad you should all check out his blog . My Dad is a pillar of strength and generosity. He raised me and my sister to believe in ourselves unequivocally, he taught us an appreciation for good, wholesome food, to work as hard as we can, to never apologize for who we are. He taught me how to garden, how to fish, how to write. There are a few people in my life who are always at the forefront of my mind when I am making life decisions and “what would Dad do” is something that I have asked myself on more than one occasion. I am eminently proud to be his daughter.

 

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Betty Crocker’s Rhubarb Crisp

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Guys, rhubarb crisp does not photograph super well. It’s one of those desserts that tastes amazing but doesn’t necessarily look the best. It’s a bit of a mess, crispy bits of sugar floating on top, big chunks of rhubarb sweet and tangy, all tossed together in a pan. My parents gave me some more rhubarb from the garden and so I had to make this rhubarb crisp recipe.

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This is Betty Crocker’s rhubarb crisp. In my parent’s kitchen there is a worn, stained, falling apart copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. Guys, Betty Crocker knows what’s up. I also love that this recipe included instructions on how to bake it in the oven and how to make it in the microwave. That’s how you know this book is the OG. It’s from a time when people would use their microwave for cooking not just for re-heating leftovers! A simpler time before we read all the articles about how microwaves (and everything else) gives you cancer.

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Speaking of simple things, I’ve got a ripening strawberry! Little things make me happy. I’ve turned my backyard into a riot of colours and different flowers, herbs, vegetables and strawberries! I often think I belong somewhere where the warm weather lasts longer, the happiness I feel sitting in my backyard in the sunshine surrounded by life is unparalleled. Too bad I love Canada too much to ever leave.

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I’m excited by all the blossoms on my tomato plants that promise to become tomatoes in the not too distant future.

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I’ve got lettuce growing alongside wildflowers I planted last year. I can’t wait to harvest some for a fresh salad. There’s a house near me that has a beautiful peony bush that droops onto the sidewalk. I desperately want to cut some blossoms every time I walk by, I stop myself. Partly because I don’t want to anger my neighbour and partly because it makes me think of the original Rapunzel story, and what happens when you steal plants from your neighbour’s garden!

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Now back to this crisp. Betty Crocker doesn’t put oats in her crisps. Oh no she doesn’t. Betty uses flour and sugar and some cinnamon. Keep it simple, keep it delicious. Betty knows what she’s doing. Crisps are so easy to make, way less labour intensive compared to pie! What are you all doing to suck all the joy out of summer? I’m trying to plan day trips, beach trips, cottage trips, working outside whenever possible. Blasting country music in the car when I drive, eating lots of fresh produce. Hooray for summer!

Rhubarb Crisp

  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb cut up (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar (depending on how tart the rhubarb is)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350

Place rhubarb in an ungreased glass pan and sprinkle with salt

Mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the margarine and stir until the mixture is crumbly.

Sprinkle over the rhubarb.

Bake for 40-50min until the topping is golden brown.

Friday Finds

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Cottage season is upon us! Time to leave the city behind, jump in a lake, hike through the woods, suntan on a floating dock. It was weirdly cold this week but I’m not letting that dampen my spirits. Let’s really get into this summer with enthusiasm!

First of all the most important news of all. Mirvish is working on bringing Hamilton to Toronto! I have always scoffed at people who sleep outside in tents for things. However, straight up will sleep outside in a tent for Hamilton tickets. No shame. What I really want is for the show to be filmed with the original cast the way they do for some operas and then shown at movie theaters. There is something magical about the original cast.

I love playing the Sims. I’ve never been one for computer or video games, if I’m going to go on an epic adventure I generally want it to be in a book so that my imagination can run wild with it. However, the Sims have been my one weakness and obsession since the original game came out all the way back in 2000. This cartoon made me giggle at the ridiculousness of the game. Still love it now, every year I’ll get sucked in and play for hours only to grow tired of it and abandon it.

To get serious for a moment, we can’t not talk about the letter written by the victim of Brock Turner the rapist. If you haven’t read it yet I urge you to, Huffington Post has the whole thing here. It is heartbreaking, it is horrifying and it should be required reading for everyone. Her eloquence just further underlies the horror that she has lived through. I avoided reading it for a long time because I was worried it would be too harrowing, but I decided I needed to. She deserves for everyone to hear her voice and her words. The line “I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story.” has haunted me along with so many more.

Guys, hobbits are real! In another life I may have been an archaeologist or anthropologist. Instead I just read and watch documentaries about ancient history and human evolution. I find it utterly fascinating.

Obsessed with my garden at the moment. Every spare moment I have is spent outside or at my neighbourhood nursery buying more plants. I’ve got thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano, chives, dill, mint (so much mint!), basil, kale, strawberries, lettuce, pole beans . . . plus a whole lot of flowers. This is a good guide on growing bushy basil I tend to find myself with long skinny basil plants every summer, not the bountiful bushy ones I want!

 

Enjoy the weekend friends!

 

Friday Finds

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In a month I will be up at the cottage, soaking up the sunshine and swimming in the lake. Today I’m ok with my beautiful backyard. I’m really happy, I’ve already got a tiny green strawberry growing in my hanging basket, I’ve got flowering tomato plants and an overgrowth of mint. Anybody need mint? Seriously anybody at all? I’ve taken a look around at the world this week and decided to focus on the good stuff, the happy stuff, the silly stuff. Let’s see what Friday brings us.

First of all the lovely minds over at i09 have ranked every Pinky and the Brain plan to take over the world. Required reading for all of us who grew up in the 90’s, especially those of us who remember Pinky and the Brain when it was just a segment on Animaniacs.

Guys, there is a bulldog race. I know this because everyone I know sent me a link to this video . Which means everybody knows me and my love for my bulldog and all things bulldogs much too well. Guys, bulldogs are fast (for short stretches) when my pup has a toy and an open field, good luck catching up to him and getting that toy from him. They are low to the ground and fast when they want to be!

Things are starting to grow out there in my garden so I wanted to know the best way to harvest my herbs, don’t want to stunt their growth, do want to make them produce even more!

So this article on apparent drama in the vegan youtube community is hilariously written (as are the subsequent follow up posts) while also giving you a frightening look into the world of youtube celebrity. Let’s all just calm down, eat good food (not just bananas) and chill in the sunshine ok?

I’m excited to try this vegan garlic alfredo I’m a sucker for a vegan cream sauce that doesn’t use cashews. I can’t eat cashews and from what I hear they aren’t cheap for those who can eat them. So it’s great to find other alternatives to get our creamy pasta fixes.

I hope your weekend is full of sunshine, friends, ice cream and margaritas!

Rhubarb Pie

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Summertime is pie time. Summertime means that there is fresh fruit just waiting to be baked into pie. I mean the fall is also pie time, but summer is berry pie and rhubarb pie time! This rhubarb pie was made from rhubarb in my parent’s backyard. This rhubarb doesn’t need strawberries, it’s good enough to get it’s very own pie.

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There is soooo much rhubarb in my Dad’s backyard. Going to my parent’s house in the summer always means coming home with fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden. I knew I had to pick some fresh rhubarb and get to baking. Sadly, my attempt to transplant some rhubarb to my garden last year did not pan out. Maybe this year? Or perhaps it’s too late for me to transplant it now. Either way, I can always go to my parents and get more!

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It took me awhile to get up the energy to make this pie. Not because it is in any way difficult, just because I wasn’t in the mood to make pie crust. Don’t know why. I just sat in my kitchen looking at things on pinterest for like half an hour before finally snapping out of it and getting to work on this pie. Boy am I glad I did. I love rhubarb so very much. It’s such a perfect sweet and tangy combination. Raw rhubarb dipped in sugar is just as delicious as cooked rhubarb in pie and crisps. This pie actually was so easy to make and took no time at all.

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Obviously I baked this pie at night since there are no full pie pictures. The artificial light in my house is awful for photography. I only ever use natural light to take pictures. The result of that is that I end up with no full pie pictures if I bake at night. There’s no way I can pull a hot pie out of the oven and not cut into it. Do people with that kind of self control exist? Who are you? What kind of meditation do you use to stop yourself from eating fresh baked goods?

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The other great thing about this pie? No peeling! With peach and apple pies you have to peel and cut all your fruit. With rhubarb pie you just have to chop up the rhubarb! So much easier. Summer is really, truly here. My garden is planted and growing and all I want to do is be outside at all times, bake pies and hang out at farmer’s markets. Enjoy this rhubarb pie to kick off your summer!

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Rhubarb Pie

Pie crust (recipe found here)

Filling

  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbl flour
  • 1 tbl vegan margarine

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 450

Grease a pie pan and place half the rolled dough in the pie plate

Combine the ingredients for the filling and pour into the prepared pie crust.

Take the tablespoon of vegan margarine and split it up placing bits of it all over the pie filling.

Top with the remaining rolled out pie crust. Pinch the edges to create a crust trimming excess dough. Cut holes in the top of the pie with a knife.

Bake for 15min. After 15min turn heat down to 350 and bake for the remaining 45min.

Allow to cool and for the filling to set before serving.

Friday Finds

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So here we are another Friday. I got to try on my wedding dress yesterday, it needs to be altered but I have the actual dress that is all mine! I’ve got the shoes too and I’ve been practising walking around the house in them. I’m not much of a heels girl but this is one day I feel I need to wear heels, for the ceremony and pictures anyways. Then I can kick them off and put on some flats! I got to spend some time in my hometown yesterday and in my parent’s garden. It’s so nice to go back to where I grew up and sit in the quiet of my parent’s backyard. So let’s see what’s happening around us this week . . .

This video of actors being aged up by makeup versus what they actually look like when they reach that age is a fun watch, some of the makeup teams seemed to have a crystal ball!

This awesome video brings together the actual history that inspired Game of Thrones. I love history and Game of Thrones. I read all the books and have watched 3 of the seasons of the tv show. I need to catch up on the tv show since I have now given up on another book being released anytime soon.

It is definitely time for drinks on patios. Specifically margaritas Gimme Some Oven has a great recipe for real margaritas. None of this bar lime nonsense. My one friend makes the greatest margaritas but I’m willing to give her a run for her money this summer.

I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick reading wise lately, re-reading my two favourite childhood series by Tamora Pierce, the Lioness Quartet and the Immortals. This article on The Mary Sue explains why these amazing books haven’t made it onto our screens yet. Personally, I’m not too mad about it, the chance that hollywood would get it right seems negligible. If you’ve never read her books do yourself a favour and pick them up. You won’t regret it.

Finally, a truly lovely and courageous young woman that I worked with years ago passed away this week. She had been battling CF all her life. So I feel it is important to leave three links here. The first is to sign up to be an organ donor in Ontario, the second is for Cystic Fibrosis Canada and the third is 65 red roses a wonderful documentary on this awful disease.

 

Oreo Stuffed Brownies

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See that bit of white peaking out? Ya, that’s an oreo. I stuffed brownies with oreos and it may be one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. My fiancé wanted me to bake those oreo stuffed cream cheese chocolate chip cookies (recipe here) but I wanted to try something new. Nothing too difficult, since we are getting summertime temperatures over here and extended time with the oven on in a steamy kitchen is not the greatest. I needed something I could make with just one bowl. I wanted chocolate so obviously you can’t get more chocolatey than brownies and the fiancé wanted something oreo stuffed.

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Voila! Oreo stuffed brownies. These are regular oreos they just happen to have little stanley cups on them. The irony of stanley cup oreos in Toronto is not lost on me.

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I lay down the first layer of batter in the greased pan lay out my oreos and then poured the remaining batter over top. The cookies basically melted inside the batter giving these brownies a super gooey consistency. You can’t go wrong with a good fudgey gooey brownie. No matter what time of year it is!

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These brownies get nice and crispy on top and keep the gooey goodness going underneath. A perfect pairing.

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Up top it looks like just a regular old brownie but when you bite into it you get all the oreo cookie excitement inside. My brother in law was over yesterday and let’s just say that when I came home the brownie pan was nearly empty. Clearly they were a hit. I’m on the hunt for more simple but delicious recipes I can make this summer. I don’t have the same patience or desire to be in the kitchen in the summertime. On a sunny warm day I want to spend every possible moment outside. I tend to make lots of cookies, things that don’t take a long time. Meals too tend to be simpler, lighter. I can’t believe that it’s June next week! I cannot wait for my first cottage trip of the summer, to swim in the lake, lay in the sun, go for boat rides! It’s my favourite time of the year!

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Oreo Stuffed Brownies

Brownie recipe from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts

  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbl pure vanilla extract
  • about 9 oreo cookies

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×14″ pan

In a sauce pan heat the vegan margarine and chocolate chips and whisk until smooth.

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

Stir in the margarine/chocolate chip mixture.

The dough should be crumbly.

Add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix on medium high until smooth.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, place whole cookies evenly spaced across the batter, pour the remaining batter over top making sure to cover all the cookies.

Bake for 45min. The brownies should still be gooey when you take them out. Allow to rest for 10min before cutting.