Fan Friday – CocoaNymph Edition

As you might have guessed from last week, I am a big fan of supporting local business. And another local business that I am totally in love with makes one of the things that makes the world go round: chocolate.

Fan Friday Presents…CocoaNymph!

I discovered cocoa nymph a couple of years ago, after a visit during Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival. It was the first time I had drinking chocolate, and it’s safe to say it changed my life. It is the tonic to my worries, the balm of my bad days. I know it’s probably not good for me, but I love it anyway. The best part is, sub in some coconut (or almond) milk, and the dark drinking chocolate is vegan. That’s right, I didn’t have to give it up in the transition–it was one of the things I was most scared about losing.

Image borrowed from YVRBCbro on Urbanspoon — I would’ve taken my own picture, but it’s always gone too quickly for that!

I had some of the deliciousness this week and thought that it was the perfect Fan Friday post, and then I discovered that CocoaNymph has a kickstarter. Which made it even more perfect. So, especially if you’re in the Vancouver area, go check them out. Fall in love for yourself!

Let’s share the love around–where’s your favourite chocolate?

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A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

I thought I might feel left out, when at our first Thanksgiving (lots of family means multiple feasts!), there was turkey we would not be sharing. But my partner made a delicious casserole, that everyone tried and said was good, and all was well.

For second Thanksgiving, however, with two vegetarians also in attendance, veganism got to rule the show. Yes, my dad made a few faces, but he had himself a turkey the previous weekend to make himself feel better.

What does one eat for a fully vegan thanksgiving? Well, honestly, we didn’t really know until the day before, when we started looking up recipes (the internet is a glorious thing). But the menu took shape pretty quickly, and I started to get excited.

So excited, that I helped cook. That’s right, I looked past my normal dislike of cooking for this special occasion.

It started with a fake chicken. How many times does a story start like that? Not often, I bet. Anyway. It was made out of bean curd, textured like chicken and shaped like a bird. Fake chicken needed to be cooked, so he was placed reverently on a heaping mound of chopped veggies (with a bit of oil and some spices).

Weird, right?

Weird, right?

Next up was a replacement for my family’s traditional dish of sweetened mashed yam, topped with marshmallows and baked. If you haven’t had it, try it, it’s delicious. However, it’s also a big, super-sweet sticky mess that is a challenge (to put it mildly) to clean off of the dish. Instead, I found Oh She Glow’s Sweet Potato Casserole–and I knew that was the recipe. But by the time I’d put finished the sweet potato (okay, I confess, I actually used yams instead) part, the topping seemed like way too much. I kept it simple, instead. I sprinkled on some pecans, and some sugar, and left it at that.

Next was the mashed potatoes and gravy aspect. Can’t give up gravy because we’re vegan, that would just be no good. The mashed potatoes were mixed with unsweetened almond milk and some earth balance. That was pretty easy. And it turned out, so was the mushroom gravy.

So far so good!

So far so good!

To round out the meal, we (my husband) made a rice pilaf, also from Oh She Glows. It turned out very tasty, and very purple. Something to do with the particular type of rice we used.

2013-10-13 18.17.33

A more flattering photo of the rice pilaf

I also concocted some cranberry sauce, with the easiest recipe ever: 1 (12 oz) bag of fresh cranberries + 3/4 c water, in a sauce pan. Put on high heat until it boils, then turn the heat down. Try to remember to stir it frequently, instead of letting half the cranberries burn onto the bottom of the pan. When it’s getting pretty thick, add in maple syrup for sweetness, to taste. Why add the sweetener later? Well, it allows it to be really customized for the taster. Like it sweeter? Add more. Like it less sweet? Add just enough that the bitterness goes away but you can still taste the pop of the cranberries. That’s what I did, and it was awesome.

Mmmmmmmmm

Mmmmmmmmm (I swear it looked more appetizing in person than it does in the photo)

Are you jealous? No? Well, you should be. Especially since we had lots of pie (pumpkin AND apple-raspberry) for dessert.

What’s your favourite Thanksgiving feast dish?

Cooking vs Baking

It has come to my attention that there is a bit of a divide between the “cooks” and the “bakers” of this world. I have met a lot of people who love one, but dislike the other. I am someone who loves to bake, but hates to cook, and I am slowly realizing why.

You see, to cook, you either need improv skills, or to follow a recipe. If you are the follow the recipe type (like me), then you have to have the ingredients you need on hand. And whenever I try to cook, all of the recipes I want to make include some sort of ingredient that isn’t in stock right now. Which requires the ability to improv with savoury materials–an ability that I don’t appear to have.

I have tried to improv cook a few times. I made pasta, with a sauce. It was turning out really well until I thought italian dressing would give it the right flavouring. It didn’t. It made it grossly sweet, and difficult to eat. But, I have had some successes, cooking. They just usually followed a recipe. So I often insist, when someone accuses me of not being able to cook, that “I can cook, I just don’t want to”.

My husband, on the other hand, loves to cook. He much prefers to improv dinner than to try and pick a recipe in a book and follow it. And while he enjoys baking, he doesn’t enjoy it as much. It’s too easy to mess it up.

Because it’s chemistry. Which is finicky. And totally awesome. No bias on my part, of course.

Although, I can’t lie, in part I love baking because, well, who wouldn’t prefer to eat this over dinner:

As you can see, the cake is tiered. (Photo by Julia, my new sister-in-law)

Still dreaming of this cake! (Photo by the lovely Julia)

Which do you prefer: cooking or baking (or both!)? Why?

Fan Friday #5

There is a particular blog whose recipes I’ve mentioned a few times in various posts, like this one and this one. When you have a sweet tooth like mine, that kind of blog is invaluable.

Fan Friday Presents…Chocolate Covered Katie!

The Chocolate Covered Katie site is full of delicious recipes. Just look at what’s at the top of the page today:

I want to eat these. Now. (Image courtesy of Chocolate Covered Katie)

And the best part? A good chunk of those chocolate-y, sweet, craving-satisfying recipes are not only vegan, but also fairly healthy. No, I’m not lying to you. Why would I lie to you?

If you’re not convinced to fall in love with that website now, there’s no hope for you.

What’s your favourite healthy-ish dessert recipe?