The travels continue – closer to home

Wedding related activities have provided me with several opportunities to visit my hometown of London, Ontario this year.

When I visited in April I was pre celiac diagnosis but doing a detox with no wheat, no cow’s milk, no soy amongst other things. This meant I freaked out a bit when my mom asked me to find somewhere to go out for dinner. Veg Out, a former London vegan institution would have been an obvious choice but it recently closed. The only vegan option I could find was Plant Matter Kitchen, but at the time it was only open for lunch. We ended up at Under the Volcano which had quite a few options – although vegan just meant meat and cheese free with no alternatives (but I certainly wasn’t complaining!)

I was happy to have many more options when I returned a couple weeks ago.

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For lunch we went to the elusive Plant Matter Kitchen (which is happily now open for dinner too). It has a bit of an industrial fancy cafe style with a great open kitchen/bar as pictured above. There are also lots of really neat artwork which looked like movie posters but for fruits and veggies with cute quotes.

For lunch I had a quinoa Mac and cheese made with gluten free quinoa noodles and a great panko-like topping (gluten-free!). The Caesar salad was also really good.

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Art at Glassroots

For dinner the next night we visited Glassroots which has opened in the same location Veg Out occupied. It was fantastic! They have a cool repurposed vibe which totally suits the Victorian style building. Some root veggie chips came out to start (with my Forbidden cider – an emphasis on local alcohol here as well). Then I had the Hawaiian burger – yay – let’s hear it for gluten free veggie burgers!

We went all in for dessert with my moms ordering the blueberry fritter and cheesecake and I had a delicious gluten free flourless chocolate cake.

I’m so happy to see a green food revolution is taking place in my old neck of the woods! I’m not scared that I will have no options next time I take a visit home as I would love to come back to either of these establishments!

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More Reykjavik Restaurants

We visited several more restaurants during our time in Reykjavik.

Verbúð was very close to our hotel and I loved the exterior the first time when we walked by. We checked out the menu online and they had a nut-loaf so we thought we’d give it a try. The nutloaf was no longer an option (a lot of restaurants here seemed to have out of date menus online) but there was a gluten-free veggie option – the eggplant. And it was so yummy I didn’t get a picture. I did snap a shot of their fun decor and even more fun dessert – creme brulé with pop rocks. An explosion in your mouth. Yummm!

 

I read about Vinyl online before we arrived and it was definitely on our list to check out. But we stumbled right up to it after visiting the Sun Voyager.

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Vegan food and vinyl records – Brent is all over that!

We had drinks that night (no cider unfortunately) and then came back for lunch the next day. I’d asked what gluten free options they had the night before and learned they had gluten-free bread for all the sandwiches. Although after getting my sandwich I learned the filling was covered in soy sauce. Ruh-roh. I had a bit of that and a bit of Brent’s Lonestar (BBQ Pulled Oomph) because it was accidentally the on gluten-free bread. So in terms of vegan food A+ in terms of gluten-free preparedness knowledge… C.

The setting was really cool though – games and books to flip through or play while the vinyl is spinning. I was also really intrigued by oomph which is a Scandinavian soy product. Looks like a great company and I love their marketing!

Since I was still craving a cider or beer, the next place we checked out was Mikkeller and Friends where there were two different gluten-free beers! Wow! This was the only place I found in Reykjavik with even one. The Mikkeller “American Dream” was my favourite of the two, the other being the ToØl “Reparations”. Both are breweries that primarily produce regular gluteny beer with these ones as well. That’s not something you see here very often – but I would love to see it. Local Ottawa breweries I’m looking at you!

 

Sidenote: The unnamed pizza place below Mikkeller and Friends does not have gluten-free despite what I read on Trip Advisor. I couldn’t find gluten-free pizza anyway in town.

While we were in town the English language newspaper “The Reykjavik Grapevine” published an article on the best veggie burgers in the city. Perfect! Except which are gluten-free? None of the menus online seemed to offer any insight. So we picked the divisive beet burger and a new neighbourhood and headed off to Kaffihús Vesturbæjar.

It was a really adorable spot (used to be a pharmacy – a theme they have continued into the washrooms). Unfortunately though the burger was not gluten-free. Brent had it and really enjoyed it (a point to the best side of the divisive tally) and I had the avocado salad. I won’t deny that I was a bit underwhelmed when we ordered, but then this fabulous looking salad was delivered and I changed my mind. There was at least 1.5 avocados on that plate, plus blueberries, strawberries, delicious salt and dressing. I didn’t leave quite full, but I was happy… especially when I found gf veggie burgers at the supermarket on the walk back to the hotel!

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One night we were planning to grab a quick (cheap!) bowl of ramen from Ramen Momo – right near our hotel and with a big “Gluten Free Rice” sign outside. We go in… no gluten free. Argh! So we had to deviate from the plan and find somewhere else. Enter Tapas Barinn and the best meal we had all trip.

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The restaurant is actually just to the left of this photo – I’m not sure if the small building is really used, but how cute is it!

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When we said gluten-free vegetarian they showed us exactly what we could and couldn’t have and were able to alternate a few things and serve us the vegetarian combo with quick and friendly service. It was dim with lots of candles and Spanish decor and felt really authentic (not that I would really be one to know!)

I have one more post about Reykjavik to write where I’ll sum things up, but as you can see while it may have been a bit of a struggle to find food what I did have was pretty good.

 

 

What’s up in my kitchen

A whole lot – that’s what!

First, I’ve been continuing to make it my own and embracing my open shelving. I’ll need to share an update with some of my new wedding gifts making their appearance.IMG_20160417_161448

Second – a whole lot of smoothies! I’ve really been loving that Blend-tec lately. As I was waiting to see a specialist about my tummy issues I saw a naturopath who suggested I add a daily smoothie with l-glutamine and protein powder. That was an opportunity to try a whole bunch of new recipes… favourites include: Snickerdoodle Smoothie from Tasty Yummies, this Red Velvet Smoothie with Cashew Cream from Keeping it Kind’s book “But I Could Never Go Vegan” and a Sunshine Breakfast Jar from Faring Well. Although most mornings it’s just a combo of whatever is in my fridge and freezer!

And the third big update is obviously making everything gluten free and learning a bit more about gluten free substitutes. For instance – gluten free panko breadcrumbs didn’t seem to work so well pre-baking for these veggie burgers. The regular panko are on the right and pretty perfect – the gluten free were sticky messy globs.

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However – the oven did it’s magic and both burgers turned out just fine. These baked eggplant burgers from the Tolerant Vegan were incredibly delicious. A burger with hummus in it has to be a win in our home! And the gluten free buns were okay – but I’ve also learned that I only ever need one – I’d rather have a second burger bun-less thanks!IMG_20160625_185542

I picked up both of Deliciously Ella‘s books to help me through my detox and transition and those have been so helpful. The other night I made her quinoa pizza crust and was really happy with it. And I’ve had her speedy porridge all the time!

And finally, just a few favourite recipes over the last few months include:

Home is where ever I’m with you

I have been a bad blogger lately, but there is a good reason….

We bought a home!

Time to say goodbye to our fun little condo, but I’m looking forward to having more space and potential projects. All of the time I was spending on pinterest and instagram looking at weddings has been replaced with homes and DIYs. So addictive! I’ll have to add a few new links to my favourite blogs page soon.

I’ve also made some good food over the past few weeks…. Starting With the spiced chickpea wraps with tahini dressing from Thug Kitchen. Their book has some good recipes based on what I’ve tried so far (this one and the smoky maple tofu marinade) and plan to try in the future. The language is amusing at first, but becomes a bit tedious – but that won’t stop me from getting some vegan yum.

 

      

 

And that second one may not look as appetizing, but it was tasting great: tofu chickpea stirfry with tahini sauce from the kitchn. Super tasty!

This week I picked up my friend Shannon’s CSA box while she was out of town and there was a lot of asparagus to use so we had some eggs florentine with asparagus for breakfast this morning. Our CSA box will be starting in the next two weeks and I cannot wait. I’ve also wanted to try it out – lots of fresh local produce – and cooking challenges. Can’t wait!

 

And the others:

  • Taiwanese cold sesame noodles from Vegetarian Times magazine. Similar to the cold pad thai salad from last time (B preferred), but I preferred this one. I think it was all about the texture. I have had a lot of great veg recipes from VT over the years – I always look forward to reading a new issue.
  • Chickpea Sliders from Take A Megabite. Her pictures are always so cute and the food is good too. I made these full size (and they still stayed together!) and without the adorable pink buns – next time!
  • Pineapple guacamole from Gimme Some Oven. Pineapple makes everything better. And this tasted like summer!
  • Chatelaine shared some unique spins on coleslaw for the summer. I tried the honey-lime one and loved it, especially when I had all of the ingredients already on hand.
  • This one’s been on my list to try for lunches for quite awhile – Almond-flaked tuna salad from Oh She Glows. It was alright, but I much prefer the similar Chickpea version from her cookbook.
  • I wish I’d taken a photo of this Crispy Baked Peanut Tofu from the Minimalist Baker. Not only did it taste delicious, but we scarfed it down between talking to our realtor about selling the condo and having someone knock on our door and want to buy it. So I’d call it Lucky Crispy Baked Peanut Tofu ;D
  • Buy too many tomatoes at Costco? This Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Croutons from Well Plated by Erin will fix that problem. It was really good. This was my first visit to her blog and I will be back.
  •  Another new-to-me blog, Delightful-Delicious-Delovely, shared this Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant recipe that was super-good. Our new place is close to a great smelling Chinese restaurant so this might be a good alternative to have at home when the air smells tasty.

Changing of the seasons

We’re finally experiencing a bit of spring weather here in Ottawa after a long bitter winter. But it’s going to take some more time before our local crops are ready for fresh eating – apart from maple syrup of course. I’ve been finding it a bit tough to get motivated in the kitchen over the last two weeks – partly because there are no exciting fresh new ingredients, but maybe also trying to enjoy the warm sun, being busy with other activities, and still a bit of burn-out after Easter weekend. Our big local farmer’s market has a fantastic “What’s in Season Resource” and it looks like we’ll be seeing a few items coming in the next few weeks. Is it just me or is anyone else feeling a little uninspired at this time of year?

I did mention maple syrup and it is one of my favourites. Last year we went out to a local sugar bush to test the fresh product right from the trees and get some goodies from the kitchen and gift shop. At the gift shop I picked up some maple mustard, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it back home in the kitchen though. Luckily I had a rare brilliant moment where I didn’t use a recipe and used it to cook up some tofu. Mega tasty! And good for sandwiches, salads, whatever! I made some more of that this past week and used it to top off these salads that we brought for lunch (in out super cool salad containers)!

Only one official recipe tested this week, but it was a great success:

On Thursday I made Protein Powerhouse Veggie Burgers from Veggie and the Beast Feast. It definitely checked off all of the good veggie burger boxes (good flavour and stayed together well). I couldn’t find beluga lentils at my local “super”store so I subbed in brown lentils and it still seemed to work fine. I forgot to pick up the roasted peppers so we didn’t try the sauce this time around, but would definitely make it again with that addition. It’s also the first recipe I’ve tried from Katie’s blog and I rank it as a success and now need to raid her archives!

Looking forward to some fresh asparagus and inspiration coming soon!

C.

End of March Cooking

Happy long weekend, Easter, Passover, etc everyone!

I’m looking forward to some good cooking this weekend! Yesterday was our first hint of spring here in Ottawa so most of the day was spent outside and enjoying it, but I stayed in for the night and got my Saturdaycooking rolling!

I got a KitchenAid Mixer for Christmas and have had such a busy few months that I haven’t had a chance to take full advantage yet. I looking at some of the ways you can use it (beyond the obvious) I was excited to learn you can make your own butter! Wow! I love flavoured butter at fancy restaurants so the chance to make my own is pretty darn cool. I decided to try out a recipe for Maple Salted Butter. Maybe a bit of a reach for a first time butter-maker since the author is Australian and some of the ingredients/conversions may not have worked in my favour. While it didn’t turn out like a hard butter as expected it did make a nice whipped butter which was still very tasty.

And if you make your own butter you need something to spread it on – enter Greek Yogurt Banana & Oat Bread. What a way to start a Saturday morning 🙂

 

What else have I made over the past week?

  • Last Saturday night we had a games night with friends and I brought some Burnt peanut butter caramel oatmeal chocolate chip cookies c/o Half Baked Harvest and some local craft brew – Leisure Suit from Beyond the Pale.
  • I am always trying new veggie burger recipes and this one definitely passed the test: Sun dried tomato and mozzarella quinoa burgers from Jessica in the Kitchen. They were easy to form and stayed together really well, they had good flavour and taste – will certainly be made here again!
  • Another Dishing Up the Dirt recipe came into rotation as well. I saw this potato dish when making the Broccoli Miso salad I shared last week and couldn’t wait to make. Roasted garlic potatoes with fresh herbs and sun dried tomato cashew cream sauce. It was good, but I liked the components a lot – maybe more than the overall meal. And since it was a lot of food for just two of us and we looked to change it up with leftovers and had the potatoes fried with breakfast and the rest of the cream sauce with pasta. Using up the yummies – I love it!