Saturday, November 9, 2013

Veggielicious 2013



If you've never taken part before, it's only fair to share with my fellow veg-heads this little thing called Veggielicious, powered by The Toronto Vegetarian Association. It's a two week celebration of compassionate cuisine where a number of local vegetarian restaurants participate; thirty locations were featured in the 2012 event. Veggielicious is almost here, meaning the opportunity to try some amazing Vegan eats in and around the GTA. Check out the site http://www.veggielicious.ca/ to find out which restaurants will be offering prix-fixe meals and other great deals then set yourself up for a few Date Nights between November 15th and November 30th 2013 to give a few of them a try.

ps Kelly & Erinn of Kindfood in Burlington will be featuring their Happy Buddha Bowl and Green Smoothie for $15, Dine In or Take Out!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Amazing Grace -Sinead O'Connor

For the most part I visit Declan's site in good spirit. It's not a place I always associate with sadness; it's somewhere I go to for comfort, re-energizing and to maintain balance within my being. This morning at the cemetery I watched a couple walk around the grounds with the graveyard administrative person, selecting a plot. The man from the office had his clipboard and his map in hand and pointed to certain locations; the same way he did when he walked us around to choose Declan's place of rest. It's the first time I've seen that man since that day and the sight of him reminded me of what strength it took for us to do that. The conversations about the planning came flooding back, the sadness that surrounded us at that time and the fear of what was to come hit me all over again when I saw that man and his map. And those memories began to weaken me today.
But something distracted me from the upset, something intriguing. I swear, in the far distance I could hear the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace, just as we had the piper play at the finale of Declan's funeral. The song seemed to fade in and out but it was playing and I don't think it was just in my head. There must have been someone in one of the nearby fields practising. Regardless, it had a stilling effect and made it's presence at the most opportune time, reminding me to stay focussed on what I've learned through all of this. Everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences in life. But there are messages within all of these encounters for us to recognize, accept and act upon. I left with a sense of balance in my spirit once again. I believe Amazing Grace was a message today and the sweet sound saved a wretch like me..


Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

International Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Day -October 15th

I've posted this video before and shed some light in a post on why stars are so significant to me in relation to the loss of my babies. Today, October 15th is International Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Day and although I don't need a specific day to acknowledge what I think about daily, it's an odd sort of comfort to know I'm not the only one in the world who feels how I do about missing our angel babies.

A lot had happened in the months since Declan was due. Two of my closest friends have had babies and one more is soon too. The babies are precious and I feel a love for them as I did with all the other babies we've had born into the group. The lump in my throat that I have when I'm around these girls is nothing to do with them as such but as a result of the situation. Seeing their babies so close in age and hearing them talk about what they've ordered on Etsy to decorate the nurseries is literally heart wrenching to listen to. The back and forth stories about how easy their births were makes me want to scream a reminder that only months ago, after a fifteen hour night of labour my son was born with a still heart. And although I had been told to expect that, I never once in all those hours gave up hope that I'd hear him cry at the end of it all. But he didn't cry. And talking about labour brings all those memories to the surface. It's really all too raw to be faking it like this but it's also too wrong to ask them to refrain from topics in which their whole life is absorbed in at the moment. The same emotions could possibly be felt by the one who lost her mom years ago when we speak of our mothers. Same could be said for the one who lost her brother when we talk about our siblings among the group. These woman are my lifelong friends and I love them dearly. They supported me when I was at my weakest and I need to let them bask in the glory they deserve now.

I think having this day as an international awareness has allowed me to be ok with still not being ok. Instead of cleaning my house or running the errands I originally had planned today, I gave in to the draw of a visit to the cemetery and spent it laying in the leaves by the grave stone thinking about what would have been. I will do what you're supposed to do to take part in sharing in our losses. I will watch for the CN Tower and Niagara Falls to light up in Pink and Blue in honour of all angel babies. I'll take part in the Global Wave of Light by lighting a candle at 7pm this evening alongside fellow grieving parents of the world. But I can't imagine having spent this Autumn afternoon doing anything more therapeutic than being there alone with my four little Stars.

Monday, September 30, 2013

My 'Winged It' Vegetarian Chick'n Pot Pie Recipe!

I searched the internet for the best Pot Pie recipe and couldn't find one that appealed to me so I used what I like out of a few variations and came up with this. These went over really well and took very little effort as I made them over the course of a few days. One night with dinner we had Green Beans & Mushrooms, the next night we had Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots and Potatoes. I made a bit extra each night so that on the third day all I had to do was make the sauce, cook the Vegan Chick'n, roll the dough and bake. This is a completely made up, not measured to scale, roughly estimated recipe. I added as I went and they turned out amazing! My apologies in advance for the way this recipe is laid out! It really would take a lot to mess it up. The flavour is all in the sauce which can easily be altered if it doesn't seem right at first. Just be sure to adjust before pouring on the veggies. These freeze really well at the stage where you add the sauce. Save adding the crust for the day you're having them for dinner. I found that one package of pie crusts (2 pies) covered eight single serve pie plates even though I had veggies and sauce portioned into twelve. I froze the remaining four for another time, leaving them crustless for now. Puff pastry is another way to top these pies if you prefer. 


5 cups cooked mixed vegetables
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 pkg Gardein Vegan Chick'n Strips, cubed
1/4 cup White Wine
1/4 cup + 2tbsp butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
Approx 3 cups Vegetable stock
1 Vegetable Chicken-Style bouillon cube
1/2 cup flour + more for dusting and to adjust thickening if necessary
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 pkg ready made frozen vegetarian pie crusts, thawed


Saute the onion and garlic in 2 tbsp butter. Stir in the Vegan Chick'n, wine and 1/2 cup of stock. Cook on medium heat 3-5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. 

Melt the remaining butter in a medium sized sauce pan, mix in some of the flour, a little at a time stirring constantly. Slowly add in some of the stock and whisk. Continue to alternate flour and stock until it begins to thicken. Add in heavy cream slowly, continuing to stir. Add in the milk, continue to stir. Add in nutmeg and black pepper. Crumble the vegetable bouillon in, still whisking. Taste. If it's too salty do not add the salt. Depending on the consistency, add more stock to thin or more flour to thicken. The pot should be simmering slowly and should be at least 3/4 full by this point. If you need to top it up, continue alternating stock or cream with flour until you reach the desired amount. You'll need to gauge having enough sauce to cover the cooked veggies. The sauce is the most important part of this recipe. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. 

Portion the mixed veggies into single serving pie plates. I had enough filling for twelve. Top with cubed Vegan Chick'n and pour sauce over. Mix to coat veggies evenly. 

Roll pre-made pie crusts out onto a cutting board, sprinkle with a little splash of water if necessary and dust with flour. Roll flat and thin. Cut circles out big enough to cover the pie plates. Prick with a fork to allow the steam to vent. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until crusts are a nice golden colour. 










Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Refried Beans, Done Right :)

Getting prepped this afternoon so I can leave dinner for the family before heading out to work -and Bean & Cheese Burritos it is. I made the beans from scratch and they taste wayyyy better than the canned stuff. They're worth the extra few minutes of time! If you don't have time to soak beans, just use drained canned pintos. I used my friends words of bean cooking advice to make these; fry garlic & onion until translucent in 3 tbsp ish of oil, then I added a vegetarian bouillon in a 1/4 cup of water and 4 cups of soft drained pinto beans into the oil. Stir and mash while they're hot. I might never used a pre-made can of Old El Paso again. Ever. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Broken Heart Syndrome ..As Described By A Surgeon

I came across this video this morning which ironically was posted on December 16th, 2012 the day I learned my baby had died and had to be soon delivered. I am one of those mothers who has been handed her still hearted baby to hold as described in her story. From a grieving mom's perspective, this doctor sorta gets it.
I had heard his soul through the doppler in my doctors office just a few days earlier. I felt his spirit tumble inside me when he moved. I was scared about a lot of things during this pregnancy but most of all I was afraid that these energies would all end as soon as I had him. But they didn't. I felt like I was going to die of a broken heart in the weeks following his death until the foggy head started to lift a bit and I began to realize he is still a part of me; I do still feel him. When I'm drawn to visit his grave, my heart swells with energy from him. I become emotional when my broken heart emerges to soak up some love and give it the boost it needs to get me through my day. Other times I go to give out the love I need Declan to have from me. Regardless though, I always leave there with a sense of calm in my soul and warmth in my heart because of our connection.
The doctor in this video wants to understand and a lot of what she says makes sense to me. Broken Heart Syndrome is a feeling and this surgeon does a great job at trying to describe what it all means.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Banana Bread; Memories Of The Cottage Style

At my friends cottage last weekend they made banana bread and the smell was heavenly. Now that we're back home and in routine I'm trying to zone back into the cottage life just a little by making a loaf here. This is the basic version; in the loaf I made today I added a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and a drop of pure vanilla extract. Also a few milk chocolate chips and a handful of walnuts made their way into the bowl :) I topped the loaf with a sprinkle of brown sugar before baking to give it a bit of a crust. Now I just need a hammock here at home to swing in while it bakes!

INGREDIENTS


2cups all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking soda
1/4teaspoon salt
1/2cup butter
3/4cup brown sugar
2eggs, beaten
2 1/3cups mashed overripe bananas

INSTRUCTIONS

1.Directions
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
3.In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten, don't over mix or it will fe too dry. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. (Careful you don't poke banana and think it's underdone!) Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Favourite Food

While tidying up I came across this little note that I've never seen before written by my eight year old ..it made me smile inside and out! 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blackfish ~Documentary


Last night I saw the movie Blackfish with a group of people I organize with. Because of all the years I've spent being an advocate for animals, I really expected I wouldn't learn anything new from this film. I thought I had heard it all before but went to refresh what I already know and enjoy a night out. Instead I left the theatre with a wealth of knowledge. I gained insight as to how the trainers are trained. I saw the clip from the capture of Tillicum who has lived his life in a bathtub instead of the natural habit he came from. Horrified, I watched on film humans separate a mother and baby because the little one was a distraction to the mother during performances at Seaworld; always wanting to be by her side. I saw the torment she suffered, I heard the blood curdling cries she screamed and could relate to her grief all too well. I felt this film, I didn't just watch it. Everyone should see this movie. And afterwards, whoever is capable of stepping foot in an aquarium park, zoo or anywhere else that holds animals captive is simply ..heartless.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Greek Spanakopita Pie



  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 tpsp olive oil plus 1/4 cup olive oil for brushing
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • eggs beaten
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • sheets phyllo pastry 

    Sautee spinach for 3 minutes; drain and chill under cold water. Drain again; squeeze out moisture otherwise you'll end up with a soggy crust.  

    In saucepan, heat 2 tbsp oil over high heat; cook spinach, onions and dill, stirring, for 2 minutes or until onions are softened. Transfer to bowl; let cool. Stir in feta, ricotta, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.

    Place one sheet phyllo into greased 9x9 baking pan, keeping remainder covered with damp cloth to prevent drying out. Brush lightly with some of the olive oil; top with second sheet and brush lightly with oil. Repeat for a third sheet and fourth sheet.



    Spoon filling into the pan, spreading evenly. 

    Top with the fifth sheet of phyllo, brushing with olive oil then repeat for sixth, seventh and eighth sheets. 


    Bake in 350°F (190°C) oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden.
    I served it to my family with tzatziki and greek salad :)










            Friday, July 12, 2013

            Winnipeg City Hall Will Vote To Ban Circuses!!

            Yes, Winnipeg! Although it hasn't yet been decided, Winnipeg City Hall will vote next Wednesday on banning exotic animal circuses in their area. Read the Global News article here, write your MP, tweet about about it, share it on Facebook ..and maybe, just maybe one day this will have a Canada-Wide (better yet World-Wide) effect!

            Thursday, July 11, 2013

            Blackfish Documentary

            This documentary looks amazing and I'm hoping to get out with my friends from HALT to see it in Toronto. Check the TIFF website here for showtimes.

            Wednesday, June 19, 2013

            Blurred Lines -Robin Thicke

            So You Tube has banned this version of Robin Thicke's really fun song because there are a few topless woman in it ..yet they continue to allow violence and other disturbing graphic nature to be shown in so MANY other videos posted on their site. The world has bigger problems we can focus our attention to. So fitting that this song title is 'Blurred Lines'..
            I'm posting it unless they go and pull it from Vevo as well. It's 2013; I say slap an advisory on it and let it play.

            ps: Please be advised there are boobs in this video..


            Sunday, June 16, 2013

            Happy Fathers Day, Chris!


            My boys couldn't dream of a more amazing Daddy
            He is their superman :)

            Thursday, May 30, 2013

            Lilac Love

            The lilacs are in full bloom right now and they smell truly beautiful. We have a couple of trees in our yard and my
            wonderful husband snipped me some for my vase this week.
            If calm could be associated with a smell I believe it would be lilac! There are farms near us that I drive past often and the air is so fragrant with the scent of these flowers; ahhhh the wonders of nature :)

            Wednesday, May 29, 2013

            Peas And Paneer Cashew Curry

            When I'm short on time I'll make curry ..in a hurry. I cheat by using a pre-made block of paneer and I pick up samosas or naan from my favourite local vegetarian Indian cuisine restaurant. You could veganize it by using firm Tofu in place of the paneer, drained and pressed. The dinner I made tonight (in the photo) takes all of fifteen minutes to put together start to finish.. which is exactly how much time I had to make something before getting my son off to baseball this evening!

            Half block of paneer, cubed
            2 tbsp vegetable oil
            1 can of coconut milk
            1/4 cup of vegetable stock
            2 tbsp yellow curry paste
            2 tbsp brown sugar
            2 cups of frozen peas
            Pinch each of curry powder, cumin and white pepper
            1/2 cup cashews

            Pan fry the paneer in the vegetable oil until all sides are golden (about 5 minutes) Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the coconut milk, vegetable stock, curry paste and spices and bring to a boil. Add in peas and brown sugar, let simmer for five minutes. Add in cashews and let simmer for another five minutes before throwing the paneer in. Stir and serve ..then you're done!

            I dish it out over basmati rice and in tonights case it was the microwave ready in two minutes kind! Not recommended as the real stuff is best but for the time I had it was ideal. The store bought naan and/or samosas enables me to fake a hearty homemade meal in minutes flat.


            Saturday, May 25, 2013

            Niagara VegFest 2013

            omigosh so much going on this summer in the community this summer and I want to be a part of it all! Unfortunately there will be a number of things I'll have to miss out on and the Niagara VegFest is one of them. It's happening Sunday June 2, 2013 if you can make it out and there will be lots to see and do; speakers, vendors, exhibitors from all over as well activities to take part in. Have a read at what literature and info is being offered while you're there as some really rad people I'm in contact with through animal welfare groups are setting up tables at this event and they are a wealth of knowledge. FYI many of the local Niagara wineries are Vegan friendly and will offer wine tastings ..!! Have some for me! Also good luck trying to decide which Vegetarian eateries you'll dine at because there are a number of options in the area; refer to the Niagara VegFest Dining Guide for ideas.
            Enjoy!!

            Friday, May 17, 2013

            Mellowness; Green Juice Style

            1/2 Papaya seeded
            1 Mango pitted
            1/2 Apple
            6 Strawberries
            1 stalk of Celery
            3 Kale Leaves
            Handful of Parsley

            Had all this stuff in the fridge so I juiced it together and it turned out to be a nice really mellow flavour! 




            Sunday, May 5, 2013

            All Heated Up For Cinco de Mayo!

            I've posted about Che's Burrito Lounge in Hamilton's Hess Village before but in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo I'm adding some new pics. If you still haven't been I'm telling you you're missing out on some super fresh, made from scratch, full of flavour eats. And if you'd like to heat it up habanero style be sure to ask for the Super Hot Sauce; it's made with love!

              

            Love.. The secret ingredient in the Super Hot Sauce Saney made for me :)

            Saturday, May 4, 2013

            'Sew Hungry' ~Ottawa Street May 3rd 2013






            I'm a believer in supporting the little guys, the independent business in our community but when thirty-nine Food Trucks from Hamilton and our surrounding area line up along Ottawa Street it makes it really difficult to choose just who you're gonna buy from. I'm drawn to The Portobello Burger in particular as they offer all Vegetarian/Vegan grub but so many of the other guys have Veggie Tacos, Gourmet Grilled Cheese and Veggie Sandwiches that cater to vegheads like me as well as a ton of deserts to choose from various trucks. Here you'll see my Eggplant Parm and Kale Salad. I left there feeling 'Sew' full that I couldn't manage to fit in that cupcake I had my heart set on devouring from Sweetness Bakery; maybe because I had stuffed my face with Tiny Toms Donuts after hoovering back my lunch! To read more about the event see The Spec's article with a description of each vendor and if you're from the local area and didn't get out to this one you might want to check it out next time!







            Kale Salad and Eggplant Parm from The Portobello Burger
            Tiny Tom's Donuts



            Wednesday, May 1, 2013

            Juice Rainbow!

            Mango -1 peeled and pitted
            Peach -pitted
            Kale -2 leaves
            Collards -1 handful
            Apple -1 medium
            Carrot -1 large
            Spinach -1 handful

            Apple Beet Juice

            Apple 1 medium
            Beet Root 1 small
            Carrot 3 medium
            Celery 2 large
            Parsley 1 handful

            Green Carrot Juice

            Green Apple - 1 medium 
            Carrots - 3 medium
            Cilantro - 1 handful
            Collard Greens - 1 cup, chopped
            Kale - 4 leaves
            Pepper (sweet green) - 1 medium
            Spinach -1 handful
            Celery -1 stalk
            Parsley- 1 handful

            Twisted Fruit Juice

            Apples - 2 medium
            Kiwifruit - 4 fruits
            Lemon (with rind) - 1/4 fruit
            Lime (with rind) - 1/4 fruit
            Oranges (peeled) - 2 fruits
            Pineapple - 1 fruit

            Green Lemonade

            Apples - 2 medium sized
            Cucumber - 1 cucumber
            Kale - 4 leaves
            Lemon - 1 fruit
            Spinach - 2 cups

            The Joys Of Juicing!

            I've read the articles, watched the documentaries and now I have the appliance (!) in order to reap the benefits of juicing. I swear you can feel the nutrients surge through your veins within minutes of taking it in. I tried a few different recipes today and I think I'm getting the hang of it. Based on my kids feedback, I'll start posting the ones that work out best!

            Thursday, April 25, 2013

            Homemade Cleaners Using Essential Oils

            I was reading the Momstown Hamilton Blog and saw this post for the Tea For Three Blog. I'm on a mission now for more recipes and will update this post when I come across them! For now, give this a read: Tea For Thre

            Saturday, April 20, 2013

            Our New Reality


            Rest In Peace Among This Garden Of Angels Baby Boy Of Mine
            You know how sometimes you wake up from a terrible dream? And for a split second when you first open your eyes you freeze as the thought goes through your mind 'that was just a bad dream, that didn't really happen, everything is ok' followed by a feeling of relief. But for me when I place my hand on my stomach only to feel my flattened belly where my baby bump once was, I realize that nightmare was my reality.
            Today marks the date I was due to deliver Declan. As of this moment I have to face the fact that I will not give birth, I will not bring another son home today and the visions I had for our family past April 20th, 2013 have changed. We really haven't made any plans for our summer because we had thought we'd have a baby in tow. Now that we won't we've just avoided booking camping and other events because it doesn't feel right. We envisioned we'd be a family of 'five' for everything we do past today. Having lost him four months ago you'd think I'd have prepared myself for this and these feelings, but the reality is it's too painful to brace yourself for such sadness. Instead of my kids coming to the hospital to meet their new brother, I'll take them over to visit his grave today. Instead of baby toys and clothes, we'll take him some blue roses and star shaped balloons. Although we've had months of grieving his loss already, this is day one of moving forward in our new reality.






            Sunday, April 7, 2013

            What A Grieving Mother Really Thinks ~Kelly Cummings


            Hello, Old Friend,
            Oh, yes, you know
            I lost my child a while ago.
            No, no please
            Don’t look away
            And change the subject
            It’s ok.
            You see, at first I couldn’t feel,
            It took so long, but now it’s real.
            I hurt so much inside you see
            I need to talk,
            Come sit with me? 
            You see, I was numb for so very long,
            And people said, “My, she is so strong.”
            They did not know I couldn’t feel,
            My broken heart made all unreal.
            But then one day, as I awoke
            I clutched my chest, began to choke,
            Such a scream, such a wail, 
            Broke from me…
            My child! My child!
            The horror of reality.
            But everyone has moved on, you see,
            everyone except for me.
            Now, when I need friends most of all,
            Between us there now stands a wall.
            My pain is more than they can bear,
            When I mention my child,
            I see their blank stare.
            “But I thought you were over it,”
            Their eyes seem to say,
            No, no, I can’t listen to this, not today.
            So I smile and pretend, and say, “Oh, I’m ok”.
            But inside I am crying, as I turn away.
            And so my old friend, I shall paint on a smile,
            As I have from the start,
            You never knowing all the while,
            All I’ve just said to you in my heart.
            ~Kelly Cummings



            About Me

            My photo
            Life-long Vegetarian and proud to be Canadian. Really, I'm a little bit of everything, all rolled into one. I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother, I'm a sinner, I'm a saint (I do not feel ashamed) I'm your hell, I'm your dream (I'm nothing in between) You know, I wouldn't want it any other way..... (I'd like to think that song was written about me! lol)