Monday, October 31, 2011

A Very Vegan Halloween

Ahhh, traditions. What kind of civilization would we be if we didn't maintain the traditions that define who we are, how we celebrate, and what we cherish?

For the past few years, our Halloween tradition has been Sushi & Saw Night.


What better way to celebrate the eve of All Saints Day than watching people get brutally, graphically massacred in imaginative ways with a delightful ironic twist to keep things interesting, while at the same time gorging ourselves on sushi and Halloween goodies? I am having flashbacks of packages of individually wrapped mini chocolates and gummies that I would buy to hand out to kiddies even though I'd only ever get like 8 trick-or-treaters in my area every year, leaving all that leftover titty-milk and gelatin infused candy for me to consume. Which I would do gladly :)

This year things were a bit different, as over the past few months everyone in my Sushi & Saw Circle has gone through a lifestyle evolution of their own (an evolution that has involved moving away from fueling their bodies with animal products), and it was clear that the Halloween-y snacks that play such an integral part in our Sushi & Saw Celebration would have to evolve as well.

As my friend J so eloquently put it,

Vegan Saw night. Not eating cut up flesh while watching flesh get cut up...

Giddy up.

This year's gathering was hosted by the ridiculously good looking Aquafolk.

Because our group consisted of both vegans and pescetarians, there were a couple of seafood sushi options (I think I accidentally consumed a scallop roll...oops), but everything else was vegan.

Replacing the individually wrapped mini titty milk chocolates and animal bone gummies might be a dilemma for the mere mortal, but for someone with an arsenal of kickass vegan recipes at her disposal (and a couple of donut pans), the solution was simple.


More specifically, Babycakes Vegan, Gluten-Free Plain Cake Donuts from Babycakes Covers the Classics.

I LOVE, nay, ADORE, nay, WORSHIP....nay, let's scale it back to ADORE these donuts. So does everyone else who's ever tried them. They are super moist, incredibly tasty, and crazy versatile. They are especially perfect for the lover of all things vanilla, because a recipe for a dozen calls for 1/4 cup vanilla. Ohhh yeah, that's a lot of vanilla.

These are also stupid easy to make and bake up beautifully. The Babycakes cookbook provides you with recipe suggestions for toppings, and I made two different ones...cinnamon sugar  and sugar sweetened chocolate dipping sauce.

Yes indeed, these went over brilliantly.

My rating:
Babycakes Plain Cake Donuts - 4.5 Happy Tongues

And no movie night would be complete without popcorn, so my very vegan buddy Mags busted out the kernels, which we found pretty fascinating for whatever reason.

While we are on the topic of popcorn, I need to take a moment to provide some history about my relationship with popcorn.

Back in the days before I was tampering with impressionable minds in my classroom, I worked at a movie theatre (yeahhhhhh Colossus Langley), and in addition to seeing a crapload of free movies, I was able to enjoy (on my breaks only, of course) craploads of free popcorn (one refillable mini bag at a time...the theatre management powers-that-be didn't want us taking advantage of their generosity with the popcorn...garbage bags of which would be thrown away every night...just sayin'). I had always enjoyed popcorn, but it was during my employment at the theatre that I was introduced to popcorn seasoning. Just thinking about those little containers of powdery flavours makes me feel all fuzzy and smiley...ketchup, dill pickle, all dressed, sour cream & onion, salt & vinegar, and my personal favourite, white cheddar.

When these little containers of powdery popcorn seasoning sent from the gods became available for retail purchase, I was in heaven, and always made sure I had a healthy stock of white cheddar powder around for my home popcorn binges. When they stopped providing the seasoning at the theatres (cheap bastards), I would bring my own seasoning from home, just so I wouldn't have to endure popcorn without it.

I knew it wasn't the best stuff for me. I mean, it was pretty much artificial crap, but for years and years I didn't really care....until I went vegan and saw the milk ingredients on the package.


Not gonna lie...the white cheddar popcorn seasoning was something that I actually considered not giving up...I toyed with the idea of keeping it around as an exception to my vegan life. I thought the two could coexist together...the white cheddar would just be the mistress that I'd have to hide from my vegan lifestyle. But then I remembered that I'm not a cheating douchebag, and there was no room in my pantry of wholesome Plant-Strong awesomeness for white cheddar seasoning. As appealing as I thought she was at the time, I quickly realized that she's just an artificial, shallow, classless tramp. I mean, you'd have to be a pretty selfish, desperate, pathetic food item to willingly compromise a person's relationship with their Plant-Strong lifestyle. No...I respected this vegan commitment and realized I had to purge the white cheddar seasoning. I didn't even keep her as a facebook friend, because honestly, what person with a shred of decency would?

Yahhh...that falls into the category of "Things Classy People Don't Do."

Which brings me to my current relationship with popcorn. After purging the white cheddar seasoning out of my life, I discovered nutritional yeast. This stuff is AMAYYYYZING. It has a cheesy, nutty flavour and is absolute perfection sprinkled on popcorn with some Earth Balance butter and sea salt. Normally, I wouldn't expect any of my friends to have this stuff in their pantry, but because Mags of The Aquafolk is vegan and awesome, we were all able to indulge in what is probably my absolute favourite snack ever.

My rating:
Popcorn with Earth Balance Butter, nutritional yeast and sea salt: 5 Happy Tongues, easy

So full of sushi and well armed with donuts and popcorn, we proceeded to watch Saw least, some of us did. Some of us stayed safe behind the pillows.

Indeed, it was a swell night of good eatin', great company, and decent entertainment. And no animals were harmed in the making of this lovely All Hallows Eve celebration (with the exception of a few scallops). 

It was sad to see our Sushi & Saw tradition come to an end with the final Saw movie, but that just means that we have to start a new tradition next year with a new series of creepy movies...but nothing involving possession or choppy walking ghosts. Hell no. 

Perhaps Hannibal & Hummus?

For those of you who aren't down with baking stuff up for a Halloween party and would rather go the pre-packaged candy route, there is some pretty awesome dairy-free chocolate and gelatin-free candy out there. It's definitely more pricey than your traditional Mars bar, but the more people buy and the more popular it becomes, the more they will produce and the cheaper it will be as it moves away from the status of "specialty item." 

I found these chocolate bars at Nice Shoes in Vancouver:

Those would be the vegan equivalents of Mars, Reese, Snickers, and Three Muskateers. They are made with rice milk chocolate and are DELICIOUS! The Cleos peanut butter cups are especially divine. The peanut butter is so much creamier than Reese, and when I don't have time to bust out Alicia's pb cup recipe, this is a very worthy pre-packaged alternative.

And at almost $4 per bar you're much more careful with your calorie consumption :)

But at the end of the day, I'd rather consume a $4 rice-milk chocolate bar than a $1 cow-titty milk chocolate bar. And I'm sure the cows would rather you did too :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Very Vegan Girly Birthday Weekend

A few weekends ago (Weekend 33.0) I turned 31. Stupid thirties.

To try to forget about this whole getting old thing, I picked up some hot women and headed to Whistler to distract myself with eating, drinking, spa-ing, and zip-trekking.

It worked.

The swell thing was we had a 1:1 ratio of vegans:veg-heads...or as I like to call them, vegans-in-training.

Our Girly Whistler Weekend got off to a swell start, thanks to our gorgeous mountain suite at the Chateau Whistler. Had to use up some President's Club perks to get the room at a rate that was in our tax bracket, but it was totally worth it.

For dinner that Friday we met up with a stunning omnivore realtor and headed to one of my all time faves even pre-vegan conversion... Mongolie Grill. I was pretty choked to discover that neither of their soups were vegan...the Miso was made on fish broth and the Hot & Sour had egg in it (boo), but the plethora of delicious veggies and noodles and sauces I had to choose from to create my dinner masterpiece quickly put the soup out of my mind.

Oh hello delicious soba noodles and veggies in curry & coconut sauce.

It's also a nice bonus that most martinis are vegan by default.

After a thumbs up dinner I tried to forget I was well into my thirties and ventured out to partake in the mountain nightlife. We scouted out a few establishments and sat through some generic music and observed the demographic partaking in the evening's merriment (a demographic whose report cards I very well could have been preparing a few months ago), and quickly realized we would be much happier capping off the first night of our Girly Whistler Weekend back at our awesome mountain suite.

But not before trying out the pole, of course.

We woke up Saturday to a gorgeous sunny morning and a day of zip-trekking and spa-ing ahead of us.

Because our suite was on the 8th floor of the Chateau Whistler, we wandered over to the Gold Floor Lounge down the hall and enjoyed a lovely complimentary breakfast there.

There were many tempting corpse and titty-milk breakfast items to pass over, but my dependable buddy oatmeal saved the day like he always does, and I was able to fuel up for the busy day ahead.

Little did we know as we were enjoying our Gold Floor breakfast that our suite did not actually count as part of the Gold Floor and we weren't actually supposed to be in the Gold Lounge, because the Gold Floor at the Chateau Whistler is actually more like a Gold Wing. We discovered this when we tried to get back in for pre-dinner appies later that day...and were turned away after they asked us for our room number...which they didn't do that morning at breakfast...yahhhh...that was kinda awkward.

But seriously...the 8th floor is called The Gold FLOOR. If Gold Floor perks don't apply to every room on the 8th floor, call it the friggen Gold WING and avoid the awkwardness and confusion. Seriously, Fairmont...I love you, but it's simple english.

Oh well, whatever. We scored a free breakfast anyway. Suckas.

After unwittingly scamming the Fairmont out of four free Gold WING breakfasts, we proceeded to our first legitimate adventure of the It might be worth noting that not only did we have a 1:1 vegan:veg-head ratio in our group, but also a 1:1 not-terrified-of-heights:terrified-of-heights ratio. Which made for an interesting zip-trekking experience.

You see, for whatever reason, my lovely friends, the bff and WestCoastSunshine signed on for zip-trekking in spite of their petrifying fear of heights.

Awww...she's afraid she's going to plummet to her early demise.

But you know what? They did it...and loved it...and can't wait to do it again.

Mags is unafraid...FIERCE

Gotta throw in a plug for Whistler zip-trekking here...if you've never done it, do it. It is just exhilarating...breathtaking...mindblowing...kind of like biting into one of Alicia's chocolate peanut butter cups, except up in a rainforest soaring through the trees like a bird who has learned to exist on vegan peanut butter cups instead of worms and bugs.

If that's not an expression of exhilaration I don't know what is.

Having digested our unwittingly scammed Fairmont Gold WING breakfast over the course of our zipping adventure, we took the suggestion of our zip-trek guide and headed to Ingrid's cafe in the village for lunch.

Hello delicious vegan burgers with a crapload of avocado. Oh yes, these were goooood.

Why people insist on eating a carcass burger when you've got incredible options like these is beyond me. Just sayin'.

I shouldn't be saying snarky things like that, though, because I effed up pretty big that weekend in the vegan department. Here goes...confession time.

We went to the spa on Saturday afternoon, where we all booked ourselves in for a massage and milk bath.

Yes, milk bath.

How did I book a milk bath without thinking that it was actually milk? I mean, it's called a friggen MILK bath.

I guess I shouldn't judge the Fairmont too harshly on their liberal application of the term Gold FLOOR when I can't even clue in that if I'm booking a MILK bath I will likely be bathing in MILK. As in cow titty milk. Which is not vegan.

Yah...I'm an idiot.

It's something that should have been so obvious when I ordered a California roll and ate it and didn't even think about the fact that I ate fish until the next day when I was thinking about ordering another one. 

I repeat. Idiot.

Oh well...the nail polish for my pedicure after the milk bath was vegan.

Relaxed and freshly marinated in milk, we headed back to our hotel for dinner, because Fairmont = Lifestyles menu. Hells yes.

Hellooo raw beet ravioli
Hellooo beets

My soba noodles & veggies in amazing broth...light and refreshing and perfect
There was a lot of food picture taking going on.

WestCoastSunshine loved her quinoa risotto. It was rather spectacular, I must agree.

Something of interest...the bff ordered the non-vegan version of the quinoa risotto. All of us tried it and were overwhelmed by the taste of butter. It overpowered the dish...interesting indeeeeeeeeed.

And of course there was dessert...
This would be a poached apple stuffed with raisins...oh yes.

This was a cashew ice cream. We weren't too thrilled with it until we decided to look at it as cashew butter or cashew paste, after which we liked it just fine. It did not work as vegan frozen dessert alternative...way too thick with a consistency that was definitely not that of ice cream. It was like eating mouthfulls of peanut butter. Still tasty, though...would have worked well as a spread, and after we acknowledged it as such, we gave it the thumbs up.  

Yay Fairmont :)  Yay Lifestyles menu :)  Yay seven grain cereal with hazlenuts for breakfast the next morning :)

...times four...

After breakfast (our waiter actually called us the healthiest table he served all morning) we lounged by the pool, followed by wandering the local market in the Upper Village. There were sooo many crazy neat things to buy, as an abundance of lovely people were peddling their vegan wares...vegan loaves, vegan spreads, vegan love love. I totally scored some kickass tzatziki, a cheesy spread made with nutritional yeast, a couple of banana & zucchini loaves, some chimchurri sauce, and strawberry infused balsamic vinegar.

Grabbed lunch at Merlins before heading home...

That would be a black bean hummus...thumbs up!
Alas, the Girly Whistler Birthday Weekend had to come to an end, as did my 30th year on this lovely planet. It'll be interesting to see what crazy things 31 brings. There's totally internal rhyming there. I'm all inspired to write a poem now...

Went up to Whistler with the girls
No boys allowed cuz boys are smelly.
My boy cd has hair in curls
And I like plants all in my belly.

Hello Fairmont kickass mountain view
So nice it gave me cause to sing
But Gold Lounge access kinda blew
Cuz Gold FLOOR really meant Gold WING.

Zipping through the trees among echoing cheers
My acrophobic buddies were down with that
And despite the bff's and WestCoastSunshine's fears
They did not fall and make a splat.

Massage and milk bath were quite a sensation
Left me feeling all relaxed and pretty
Tried to block out the unsettling realization
That I soaked in something that came from a cow titty.

Oh year thirty-one, how full of insanity
Have the first few weeks of you already been 
With the way shit is going, excuse the profanity
I may just end up the next Mrs. Charlie Sheen.

Belated thanks to some awesome ladies for some lovely memories from a brilliant birthday weekend :) Gonna be holding on tight to those happy times for a while :)

And another smiley face for good measure :)