May 29, 2013

Strawberries in Bloom

My strawberry plant that I carelessly overwintered last year toughed it out and is now blooming! I didn't think that it would make it through the chilly winter as I just couldn't be bothered to bring it in at the end of the growing season, but it was really nice to see that it had begun to awaken and grow! I picked it up late summer of 2012 on clearance and didn't get any berries off of it. Hopefully this will change in 2013!

It just so happened that the plant was displaying the three different stages of how a strawberry develops. Take a look. 

The center of the little flower ends up growing into a strawberry. Pretty cool, right? Look at all those little seeds! I can't wait for them to become little red gems, so I can eat them.

May 28, 2013

Caribbean Inspired Pork Chops

This has become one of my new favourites.
Pork chops marinated in a delicious combination of green onions, lime juice, all spice, cinnamon, smokey cumin, thyme, black pepper, ginger and garlic served along side coconut rice and a citrus and avocado salsa. It's a wonderful balance of sweet, savory and a little sour! 

 I love the bright colours and the summery flavours that the salasa lends to this meal. I normally don't favour fruit salsas, but recently my taste buds are telling me otherwise. There ended up not being enough! In it, I added chopped segmented oranges, finely diced cucumbers, onion and chilies, cubed avocado and a good helping of lime juice and just a little but of honey. Using mangoes or pineapples would be super yummy, but I just used what I had in the kitchen. It worked well, there really is no recipe. Use what you like!

I also whipped up a quick sauce to serve with the pork, which I simply pan fried. It consisted of lime juice, mayonnaise, honey, lots of fresh chopped cilantro, a dash of salt and pepper as well as a tiny mince clove of garlic. It was mouthwatering-ly tangy and complimented the pork. 

Can you tell that I'm a huge fan of limes? I'll add it where ever I can. It totally screams summer (as do lemons) and I stock up when they're super cheap, because they keep really well. :)

Left overs? What left overs??

May 25, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Chunk Rum Cookies

Chewy, crispy, gooey and just the perfect size to eat five in a sitting and not feel totally guity about it. These cookies are good. Really, really good! I used my favourite olive oil cookie dough recipe, added rum flavouring (sorry, no booze here) and lots of vanilla. Then in went handfuls of chocolate chunks! Delicious and totally egg and dairy free. 

The recipe yielded approximately 30 cookies, using a generous tablespoon scoop! That meant that they were small enough so you could nosh on one on the go, or you can grab a plateful with a nice cup of (soy) milk, coffee or my favourite, black tea and just go to town! 

Aren't those little dough balls just adorable? For those who enjoy cookie dough, this would be totally safe to eat. Stick a lolli stick in them, dip them in dark chocolate and you've got some awesome cookie-dough pops for your next pot luck party. :)

Check out the innards. You can see how chewy and gooey they are! They are best eaten within a couple of days, but warm out of the oven.....that's just somethin else I tell ya.

Tank thought she wanted some too, but turns out she didn't. No chocolate for you, little miss! 

As I always mention with these olive oil cookies, there's only 4 tablespoons of oil in the entire recipe (which was adapted from California Olive Ranch)! Richard loved them and totally pigged out. Good thing he hits the gym, like everyday. <3

May 24, 2013

Nature's Confetti

The little flowers (and occasional dandelion) poking through the greenery and the wind blown petals from the blooming trees, remind me of confetti. I think it's so pretty!

May 23, 2013

No Cream Butter Chicken

 Here's a wanna-be butterchicken dish that I made for dinner one afternoon. It's not authentic, as there's no cream or dairy actually save for the two pats of butter I added at the end. So I guess it's safe to say that eating this wasn't actually all that bad for you and perhaps maybe even kind of...healthy? After all, there's vegetables and chicken breast in it! We ate it along side jasmine rice and it was perfect. Surprisingly, the flavours of butter chicken were still there and it was still creamy and rich.

 Instead of the heavy cream, I used a mixture of finely ground cashews as well as hummus and tahini. Basically things in the pantry and fridge that I knew would end up a nice substitute, but would be quite neutral as I really wanted the spices and tomato flavours to shine. You could totally use fat free greek yogurt! Actually, I'm probably going to try that next time.

 There was a lot of tasting involved in the cooking process, as I didn't follow a recipe (surprised?). Lots of stirring, tasting, adding, repeating and waiting. Well worth it though- there weren't any left overs and I used six pieces of chicken breast, so was a total hit with everybody. :)

I skimmed through this recipe and this recipe, adapted it and just adjusted it to how my taste buds remember chicken chicken tasting like. Total flavour town!

P.S. Homemade naan bread would have been a welcomed time!

May 22, 2013

BBQing a △ Burger

Rich and I also had our first barbeque of the year in addition for our picnic. Looks like it was a weekend for dining firsts! It had cooled down somewhat in the evening, which meant perfect patio weather and the perfect weather to just sit down, relax and eat, away from the hot sun. If you're following me on Instagram, you'd have seen my horrible hot dog slicing skills.

 I was out of burger buns, so I took a bun from Costco and used that. Of course, no sane person would mold a circular beef patty to eat on a triangular bun, so I improvised and made them match. Ha-ha! This bread is the perfect vehicle for juicy burgers! They're sturdy yet still soft and fluffy in the middle and they're even better toasted (on both sides). Everyone should try it, matching beef patties and all. :)

P.S. Check out those grill marks!

 I put shredded lettuce, raw onions, blue cheese dressing and sriracha on my burger and it was delicious. It's probably one of my favourite flavour combinations aside from the simple ketchup and yellow mustard combo that I had on hotdog/hamburger days and at school BBQ's back in the day. It brings back memories and I'll still eat 'em this way from time to time!

 Richard grilled two chick'n patties and a vegan ballpark hotdog along side a helping of wholewheat bread for his dinner. We both enjoyed grilled corn on the cob (20¢ corn!) and roasted potatoes on the side. He was admiment about me taking a photo of the butchered not-at-all-beef hot dog, so here it is looking a little like a sea creature. 

Oh man, I can only talk about hot dogs and wieners for so much on this post without making it sound ridiculous.

Dinner was awesome, because the company was great and the food was tasty. Also because the mosquitoes weren't out yet and I didn't have to dose myself in deet filled bug repellent! That time is coming though. Especially the killer rain storms we've been getting over here.

First Picnic of 2013

This past weekend was a long weekend, celebrating Queen Victoria's birthday (Victoria Day), which also marks the end of winter and the beginning if summer for many. It was complete with perfectly warm weather, a heavy dosage of sunshine and for lots of people, this meant...fireworks and barbeques! While neither Rich nor I partook in lighting beautiful explosives, we did enjoy a lovely little picnic at the neighborhood park.

I baked a vegan apple crisp the evening before, made hot pocket sandwiches with my sandwich maker as a main before we left (his had left over taco seasoned faux beef and taco shells with hummus and mine was filled with coconut curry beef). We also brought corn tortilla chips and salsa, baby carrots with hummus, apple sauce and to wash it all down, my favorite berry pomegranate juice. It's super dark and rich, not overly sweet tasting. Normally I dilute it, but this was a treat!

We noticed a (not so) little bumblebee harvesting pollen near our picnic area. It erked me at first, but then I got over it and stalked it a little bit for photos. He's kind of a cutie.

There was a frisbee-ish ring thing stuck in the tree not too far away and I'm guessing the original owners gave up on trying to fetch it as it was locked between branches pretty tightly. Since it was abandoned, Rich tossed his pack at it trying to dislodge it and finally just found an enormous and dried out tree branch to work with. In the end it was saved and we tossed it around.

It's hard trying to take photos while attempting to toss and catch flying objects, especially if you're 1. looking through the view finder 2. the object is flying at your face and 3. you were never really good at playing these games to begin with!

We'll be having more picnics this summer, but this particular one marks the first one of the year! 

Do you picnic? If so, what are your favourite foods to make and or to bring?

May 21, 2013

Fushimi Japanese Restaraunt

Fushimi is a Japanese restaraunt located in Markham and this was my first time dining here, thanks to a referral from my mother's colleague. Our regular "go to" all-you-can-eat spot is actually located right across the street from Fushimi! We've always had great service and food at Maison du Japon, so we've never felt the need to seek out other places...but then this happened. I think I might have a new favourite. Actually, I'm positive I have a new favourite.

The prices are on par to other AYCE places, at $20.99 per adult, but the thing the makes Fushimi really stand out are the unique dishes that they have on their menu! Oh, and the fact that each person received two fresh raw oysters with their meal and that they served lamb kebobs. Not sure if I would call this place 100% authentic, because it's not, but the food is excellent. 

As you look at the photos, you'll also notice the portion size. They're small and it's a great thing. It means that as new customers, we were able to try lots of new dishes! Read on!

Fruit (melon) salad and green salad with house dressing

BC Tuna Tataki- seared tuna in a tomato broth

Walnut shrimp (tossed in a mayo based sauce), totally delicious- we ordered another after

Fushimi salad- seafood, green onions, cucumbers and dressing

Spicy scallop trim, served cold

Shrimp and asparagus served with a Yuzu miso dressing

Fresh oysters on the half shell, served with a drop of Sriracha and a side of lemon.
(The muscle was still attatched, so we knew they didn't just place a simple oyster in a reused shell. That would be gross!)

Stir fried lamb

Grilled Eel

Salmon sashimi and surf clam, ordered twice

Avocado salad served with house dressing

Tuna Noruto- crab, red tuna, avocado and roe wrapped in seaweed and paper thin cucumber. Low carb and really refreshing.

Sex on the Beach roll- salmon, mango, crab, avocado, cucumber and roe wrapped up in PINK soybean paper

Golden Spider roll- fried soft shell crab, lettuce, roe, avocado, cucumber, crab topped with eel sauce and house sauce

California roll and avocado roll (we love avocado!)

Pretty sure this was a Dynamite hand roll

Grilled lamb skewers were a huge family favourite. Full of flavour and spices like cumin. We ordered these three times!

Shrimp tempura- the batter was light and not greasy

Grilled beef short ribs

Lava roll- crab and mango wrapped with avocado and roe, served with mango sauce

Stir fried mushrooms in garlic butter

Spicy salmon tartare

Tempura taro

Seafood Chawanmushi- silky savoury steamed egg

Japanese Baked Mussels topped with a creamy cheese sauce

Ika Maru Yaki- whole grilled squid, tender and smokey from the grill

Beef ramen with half an egg (and other things, that were consumed before this photo was taken!)

Eel fried rice

Mango puddings and black sesame pudding

Green tea ice cream in the back and black sesame ice cream in front. SO GOOD!

Tempura vanilla ice cream with strawberry/chocolate sauce and whipped cream

Insides. The batter was quite thick and doughy but it was fun to share!

Japanese deep fried milk
Mango yogurt (we also had mango tapioca, but that was inhaled before I got a picture of it)

Lots of coffee flavour, moist and flavourful with just enough topping.
All in all, my family of four (including myself) ordered well over 40 dishes! This may seem like a lot but as I mentioned before, the portions are perfectly small and the maki rolls weren't stuffed with rice. Mind you, they definitely don't skim on ingredients. I also enjoyed how the sashimi and oysters were served on a bed of ice to keep everything chilled- something I have not seen any AYCE restaurants do before. The service was better than most places; the servers actually speak English and serve with a smile! The food arrived quickly (hot and fresh) at our table after ordering from an actual menu and not just a paper place mat serving as a menu. Every time an order was given to our server, there would be another form waiting for us, which made it much easier to order. Nothing we order was forgotten, everything we wanted came. There's a good system happening at Fushimi, I hope they keep it up!

The only downside is the decor and the lack of windows. There are literally no windows inside of the dining area and the walls are painted a deep purple. I had my camera ISO set at 1600! Other than that little non-issue, I totally recommend you head over to Fushimi. I can't wait to go back!

Check out their all-you-cal-eat dinner menu!

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Hi, I'm Janetta from Toronto. I cook, bake and often veganize recipes. I photograph nearly everything and those photos will most likely end up being posted here. I've got a little black cat named Tank, who's really cute and a little bit nosy. You'll see a lot of photos of her too!

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