Friday, August 30, 2013

Vegan Peanut Butter Ice Cream

My in-laws are visiting this weekend, which means I should be cleaning. And nothing says preparation like a little procrastination, right? As such, I figured it was the perfect time for a blog post (while secretly hoping the kitchen will clean itself).

I recently (as in a month ago and never blogged about it) made Vegan Peanut Butter Ice Cream from The Healthy Family and Home.

I liked that the recipe does not have a gazillion ingredients. I don't like that I followed the suggestion to put the mixture into a glass bread pan because I spilt it *everywhere*.

The flavour is good. But the texture is off. The recipe suggests to store it in the fridge for soft-serve consistency or in the freezer for traditional ice cream texture. So I popped it into the freezer. Now, I'm not sure if I did something wrong, or if my freezer is way too cold (everything else freezes perfectly, so....) but I don't typically find that traditional ice cream texture is similar to dried concrete. I need a sledgehammer to get it out of the pan and into my bowl.

Edited: I have since tested this recipe out again and tested it in the fridge. It was not like soft-serve ice cream. It was like melted ice cream that you forgot in the trunk of your car on a hot day. (Um, what? Not everyone has done that? Oh).

Anyway, the flavour is still good but the choice is either concrete or drippy mess.

Vegan Peanut Butter Ice Cream,
pre-concrete stage, pre-freezing

Monday, August 26, 2013

Failed It: Funnel Cake Style

For a while now, I have been meaning to make a vegan baked funnel cake. Today I figured I had the perfect opportunity by acknowledging that I met my husband thirteen years ago. We don't really celebrate this day but I like to do something sweet. Since we met at a no-longer-local-to-us fair, I thought funnel cake would be the perfect something sweet.

Until it turned into an episode of tijya-in-the-kitchen. I should have anticipated this since I was kind of grumpy when I started.
Originally, I wanted this to be a vegan treat. However, we bought eggs when we were expecting a guest...and then the guest didn't show so the eggs were sitting around. I figured I would use them up so it would not be wasteful. Except that didn't turn out exactly as planned. See below.
Egg. Not in the pot.

Yep. That's egg on the stove. Technically, the egg landed in the desired pot. However, my 'beating' of egg was a bit too vigorous so it flew out of the pot and onto the stove in a menacing way. I'm pretty sure I heard the egg engage in evil laughter as it slid into the coils on my stove. Fun times.

It went downhill from here. Some egg white managed to stay in the pot, but I wasn't sure how much. So I added another egg. I was careful to be gentle this time. My mixture was more liquidy than I think it's supposed to be. I added extra flour to compensate.

I didn't want to make traditional funnel cakes (and I mean beyond the baking-not-frying part). I wanted to funnel it onto my baking sheet in the form of a funky 13 (you know, to acknowledge when we sweet. ha).

However, I didn't add enough flour and the mixture was very very runny. I was pretty sure as I put the funnel cake into the oven that this was for sure a tijya-in-the-kitchen story. I know myself well.

Please take a minute to google image search funnel cake. Make sure you understand what it is supposed to look like. And then compare it to the vaguely shaped thirteen below.

Funnel cake that isn't funnel cake

Yep. I failed it. That definitely isn't funnel cake. It tasted yummy though, so I rolled one up crepe style and called it an unhealthy supper. I can handle these kinds of mistakes.

Funnel cake pretending to be a crepe.

Back to regularly scheduled blogging

This summer has probably been the busiest summer I've had. But also one of the best. I've had tons of time with family, gone on a much needed vacation, spent more time with family, and enjoyed seeing Mumford and Sons live in concert.

Things should be mostly quiet for the next bit and that should translate into more blogging.

(Some) Stuff I Ate:

Stuffed portabella
Yummy salad

Eggplant Parm
Peach crisp


Stuff I want to Eat

This week is completely unplanned. I didn't go grocery shopping with my husband so my choices are limited. And I *hate* shopping at the local store because it is ridiculously overpriced. I will likely cave though.

In the Rest of my Life

  • It feels like I've done a lot of reading. It comes and goes. I have finished Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (meh, not a fan), The China Study (kind of interesting but mostly science-y and boring), Zoo Story (an interesting perspective on those working in zoos and some information about animals that I didn't know), and Baking Cakes in Kigali (enjoyable).
  • I'm currently reading The One and Only Ivan, Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, and Man's Search for Meaning.
  • I managed not to get too sunburnt while in St. Lucia for a week. But one day at a relatively local outdoor festival? Bring on the soothing powers of aloe.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Oh so lost

In preparation for a road trip, I decided to update the maps on my GPS. It did not go well.
I learned that I needed to connect my GPS unit to my computer. I would have bet my life I did not have this cord so I tried my camera cord. This did not work. Luckily (ha!) I was able to find the proper cord.
So, I started the update. Things seemed to going well....until it stalled partway through. I figured it was some kind of glitch, so I tried again. I followed all instructions and power cycled the unit.
When I turned it on, a lovely warning came up about there being no navigational maps on the device.  UM, WTF? Isn’t a GPS unit an electronic map?! should there not be maps ON the unit?
So, I swore a lot. And I plugged it back into my computer and was informed the unit was up to date. Um, no jerkface. There were no maps on it. IT WAS NOT UP TO DATE. I was pretty sure the world had not exploded, so there should be maps on it.
I decided to go to the troubleshooting section of the company's find a message that the site was down for maintenance. Um, what?!

Eventually I fixed it and came out of this experience knowing one of four things to be true:
  1. technology hates me
  2. that you should not wait until the day before you leave to plan for your trip
  3. that cast iron frying pans can also be used as little sledgehammers
  4. and that planning for this trip was pointless, since we messed up the navigation anyway. And we were rewarded by sitting in traffic for over an hour (unnecessarily).
Our 9.5 hour trip took 12. I quit.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The food at the Resort

Some of the best food I have *ever* eaten was served at the Rendezvous Resort in St. Lucia. There was always vegetarian options at meals and at snack times. They weren't always vegan or dairy-free, but, for the most part, I was able to find options to meet my needs.

I did make honest mistakes occasionally. For example, I didn't read all of the ingredients in my favourite drink for the first couple of days. I had skimmed over the 'milk' part and then wondered why I had headaches those days. Once I figured that out, I transitioned to an almost-as-good tropical drink choice. However, it seemed that I most frequently consumed water which was noticed by guests and staff alike. This resulted in one guest guessing that I was an addictions counsellor and in staff automatically bringing me a water when they served my husband a beer.

Back to the food....we really enjoyed the buffet options. There was always so much choice that we had mixed feelings when the buffet became an a-la-carte. The food served on a-la-carte meals was always excellent but there was (understandably) less choice.

We went to the super-fancy restaurant once. Prior to this, I met with the chef to discuss my food issues and he informed that he would prepare a special menu and to let staff know upon arrival. I felt like a pain in the ass with this and my husband thought I would have issues since I wouldn't have control over the food. He underestimates me. It was nice to put my trust in someone else and be surprised with my meal. And the staff....they were amazing. I was approached by multiple members of the wait staff to make sure I was enjoying my meal. And these were genuine inquiries so it made me feel like less of a pain in the ass because I was able to rave about how awesome the food was.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this vacation. St Lucia is beautiful. The resort is fantastic, and the staff were amazing. We were waited on hand and foot. If we wanted to be lazy, we had beach bar service without getting up. And there were so many fun activities to enjoy (volleyball, beach bowling, archery, walks, bike rides, yoga, snorkeling, etc etc etc). There were no issues finding shade or food to eat. We've decided that we will go back someday and we encourage anyone to check out this resort.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What I got out of St. Lucia

This was the first trip my husband and I have taken in 9 years that did not involve a trip to our hometown. It was long overdue and in celebration of being married ten years. (If you can do any type of math you will realize that the above does not add up. We took our honeymoon a year after we were married).

A lot has changed in my life in the past year and I anticipate more changes to come. But, if we stick to the past & present...Just in becoming vegetarian I have expanded my horizons. Now, I:

  • eat vegetables
  • try new things, like eggplant, chickpeas, tahini, etc
  • weigh a little bit less
  • and (vow to) exercise a little more
St Lucia continued some of these trends. In my first two days, I ate very well. I avoided all things dairy for the most part. I had been unintentionally consuming dairy in a beverage because I failed to read the ingredients properly (and was thus very confused as to why I was experiencing dairy-related headaches).

Cream of Leek Soup
Banana BBQ Sauce
I tried new foods which included Banana BBQ sauce, breadfruit, cream of leek soup (which I now plan to veganize and this is especially noteworthy because I'm not a soup person) and a variety of fruit that I either didn't like or don't remember. Unfortunately, my commitment to being dairy-free wavered as the vacation progressed (mostly at dessert time).

Our resort was pretty health-conscious so I hoped to exercise a little bit. However, after participating in a bike ride into town, I experienced heat rash and kept things low-key to lessen my suffering. I did manage to visit the gym, by which I mean I had it pointed out to me on a guided tour of the resort. And I think I saw it another time when we went hunting for the gift shop.

I wasn't totally lazy though. I walked around the resort (primarily to get from point A to B) and had a bunch of hills to climb on a day tour we took. And I caved and went tubing with somewhat disastrous results which left me with a bruised ego and some very sore arms.

The rest of the trip was spent relaxing, reading, and socializing. I have returned home mostly refreshed. I feel more likely to tackle some creative projects. Back in February I sought out knitted Christmas gift requests, which I haven't actually started. I'm feeling the knitting vibe again so (hopefully) this means I won't be rushing to complete everything days before Christmas. And I'm feeling more incentive to get scrapbooking (for the trip and for my niece).

It's not just about feeling refreshed though. Some time away from technology was a good thing. Yes, I did check my email daily but I was otherwise disconnected. I think sometimes we spend so much time trying to fill our days with entertainment that we miss out on truly enjoying the little things. I hope to break some bad habits with our return home.

And the other thing....Everyone we met in St Lucia was so friendly. As an introverted person, this was a bit overwhelming sometimes. However, it was also very nice. It serves as a nice lesson to be less guarded and more social/adventurous.

Whether I am successful or unsuccessful and implementing these themes into my life, it is a win-win situation. If I keep my commitment to these changes, my life will be more balanced and fulfilling. And if I'm unsuccessful, it must mean that I will need to go back to St. Lucia for a refresher course.

Monday, August 5, 2013

tijya in the tropics

You may have noticed that things were quiet around these parts for the past little bit....well, I abandoned you to spend a week in beautiful St. Lucia. Before my departure, I had planned to have posts scheduled so you wouldn't miss my absence. Unfortunately, I'm not as organized as I pretend to be.

I'm home now and trying to readjust to the real world. For example, I should be making my standard bean salad and mock tuna salad. I should also start marinating my portabella mushroom that I plan to eat for supper and should at least consider tackling vacation laundry. I opted for none-of-the-above.

When we told people that we were going to St Lucia, they responded with appropriate 'oohs' and the occasional, 'wow, it will be really hot!' And it was very hot. Technically, I should likely vacation at a Canadian cottage since the climate is more suited to my preferences.

It is 71 degrees Fahrenheit in my house and I'm wearing a sweater. But at 87.8 degrees (or 109.4 with humidity) I got heat rash and became super lethargic. And really, tropical locations don't work with my fair skin. I can get a sunburn in the shade and take careful precaution to stay safe. I am happy to report that I only experienced a minor sunburn and that I was not the palest person there. The heat rash was the most annoying consequence as it limited some activities but relaxing on the beach is ok too.

The next few posts will be about my trip. I haven't typed out my thoughts (yet) but I will likely blog about our return to Canada, the food in St Lucia, and maybe some comments about the resort. And then eventually, things will return to normal and you will read about my not-so-exciting life. Like right now, which consists of the end of procrastination and the beginning of kitchen stuff. In a minute.