Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Funky Sexy Manifesto # 73 Celebrate My Birthday All Week

As I have done in the past few years, I decided to celebrate my birthday--- all week. Sorry to my regular readers that I have not posted anything as juicy as my visit to the nude beach (it's by far the most popular post that I have ever had, you freaks!) but I did have an amazing time with fiance, family, friends, and my own good self celebrating my birthday.

Why celebrate my birthday all week? Maybe it is making up for lost time. Growing up in my family, birthdays were not a huge deal. I had two parties as a kid and one as a teen, probably after pleading with my mother that other kids were having their parties (and it was rare to get invited). So in "keeping up with the Joneses"-style, I had a party at Chuck E. Cheese and also one at home with modest numbers (under five). My Sweet 16 was not quite what I expected. I pictured an amazing wild teen party with dancing and lots of folks. Yet, being a bit of a nerd, my friends and I sipped punch in the basement and had quiet conversation. Although the food was good and most of my closest friends showed up, I was seriously lacking in the boy department. Little has changed (except I'm engaged, of course).

My younger middle sister's surprise Sweet 16 that I organized, on the other hand, made up for that with a basement party reminiscent of the Sean Paul's Get Busy video (linked below). Her party was complete with deejay and my father, who looks and dresses a lot like the Caribbean dad in the video, coming downstairs to lock off the music and shut down the party (when it was just getting good, okay, okay, the van load of guys who showed up probably hit his limit). By the way, did they film this music video in my parents' house? The basement looked a lot like that. I know this music video was filmed in the Greater Toronto Area so it probably was not too far from my parents' house.

Sean Paul - Get Busy

My birthdays have been bittersweet in the past. Great since I am a bit of an egotist and love all things me (including a day to celebrate my birth). But bitter too, since I have a birthday at the end of August, my invitations sometimes go out unanswered or turned down since this also the time when folks are b-u-s-y going to barbeques, vacations, the cottage, and squeezing every last bit of summer before it's "back to school again." August 24th is when the summer heat starts to cool down and it gets windy at times and rainy sometimes depending on what remnant of hurricane makes its way to Canada, it starts to get darker earlier, and maybe, just maybe, you find yourself getting more depressed that summer is ending real soon. (In case you're curious, my sister's birthday is in June.)

So fastforward to my current birthday, my 34th! Aaahhh! I can't believe I'm 34.

It is a blessing I know especially since I have also survived cancer as well. I am also blessed to have loved ones who can share this occasion with me.

So here is an event list, the rundown, an itinerary of my 34th Birthday Week 2012! (Gosh,I sound like Joan from Girlfriends.) Some of these also overlap with another Funky Sexy Manifesto as well.

- Eat at Hogtown Vegan restaurant (Check out Vex in the City: Part 11 Hogtown Vegan)
- Celebrate a birthday with someone else who shares the same birthday (I know several and coincidentally we are all artists: a make-up artist who used to dance on television, an artist/deejay, an art administrator/film critic, a tattoo artist, and even Dave Chappelle, a musical comedian, and me? I'm the writer. Maybe all this creativity and artistry is from the angst of having an end of August birthday.)

Dave Chappelle and I share the same birthday

- Day in Waterloo with my friends and breakfast with a professor there who I have been planning to get together for years
- Attend a potluck with other survivors
- Latin Dance Girls' Night
- Funky Sexy Manifesto #1 Have a "Celebration of Life" party (instead I changed the name and called it the ICanSurvive Picnic)

My Latin Dance crew.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Last Heart Attack

The Last Heart Attack is a really informative documentary about the benefits of a vegan diet on heart attack prevention. I know its not about cancer prevention but the steps and suggestions are useful to prevent illness and do promote a healthy lifestyle. As indicated in Crazy Sexy Diet, The China Study, and other books, going vegan can help prevent cancer and a host of other conditions including diabetes and heart attack.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A New Earth

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

Thank goodness for books on CD. If AudioBooks haven't been invented, I don't think I would have got around to reading any of Eckhart Tolle's books. So I started off with A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose which was first published in 2005, instead of The Power of Now which was published in 2000, because the former worked in my car's CD-player. For some reason my audio system did not take too well to The Power of Now. Not yet, at least. Filled with heady monologue, mysticism, and new age wisdom, A New Earth is modern-day spiritual guide to living mindfully and humbly. Being a best-selling novel and Oprah's Book Club pick, this work borrows from Christianity, Sufism, Buddhism, and other spiritual teachings with a focus on self-development and not being ruled by the "ego". There were several "kernels of wisdom" that I may have to review in this book. Since I listened to A New Earth while driving, my concentration was divided and I felt that I missed some things which I would have loved to rewind and listen to again if my CD player was working better. A message I took home is that in order to make a generous contribution to the world, one must begin with the self and that today there is a collective move towards introspection and living more consciously. One must find his or her own inner and outer calling. The inner calling is enlightenment or awakening. The outer calling is a reflection of the inner calling. Eckhart Tolle says that in order to eliminate the suffering of the self and others, one must choose activities or apply oneself to his or her work with at least one of the following: acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. I find that these three qualities are necessary in the application of oneself toward work and great guidelines for finding one's own purpose and destiny. Today, I finally got The Power of Now to work on my car's CD player so I look forward to gaining an even deeper understanding of Eckhart Tolle's work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Funky Sexy Manifesto #57 Do a Speaking Gig

I have a speaking gig that I am very excited about which is coming up on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 6:30pm in the Europa Convention Centre, Toronto. (I hope this is not the last one.) The event is a Gala Dinner to raise money for the ART FOR CANCER Foundation which does amazing work. I have also used their services and wrote about that experience here. Please support this great cause by purchasing a ticket to attend this event.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Funky Sexy Manifesto #20 Attend a Writing Retreat

Bob Marley So Much Things To Say & Zimbabwe

I think that this song says it best in terms of how I feel after attending a five-day writing retreat. On my Funky Sexy Manifesto list, I very much wanted to attend a healing retreat (or a creative one). My writing retreat gave me an opportunity to get away AND do lots of writing. I found that I didn't do more writing than I normally did throughout my healing journey. The volume is about the same. What the writing retreat did for me was affirm that indeed I have , in the words of Bob Marley & the I-Threes as evident in the videoclip, "so much things to say right now."

Writing is equally healing and a form of creative expression for me. At the writing retreat, I enjoyed the opportunity to write my stuff and get to read it to a LIVE AUDIENCE and GET FEEDBACK. I enjoyed the writing exercise that we were given and I even WROTE SOME POETRY. I never WRITE POETRY. Well, almost never write poetry. I have a binder full from high school and used to publish my poems in the school newspaper (including an embarrassing one describing a boy I had a crush on and he found out it was him). But this past week, I tapped into my poetic voice and even made lots of headway on a picture book that I started a few months ago. It's not easy writing a picture book although Madonna and Will Smith might cause one to think differently.

Inspired by natural settings, daily hikes, afternoon naps, and even a chase by a ferocious territorial unchained dog (who chased me into the street, my childhood fear of dogs and experience with having been bitten told me not to run, thank God I resisted that urge which must have worked since Killer eventually went away), I have been reminded that writing brings me a lot of joy and has done so my whole life.

Before the retreat, I wondered if I could deal with the solitude life of writing, waking up to write, writing in the day and in the night, reading my writing to others and having it critiqued, writing assignments, writing all day, and writing about uncomfortable, personal, troubling, and even controversial topics. I am learning that I can handle these challenges and I have a thirst for more. I think I found my calling.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to attend this writing retreat and for the generous support that made it possible.

Below are some photos that I took on the beautiful grounds where the writing retreat was held.

Dying from Cancer is Not Losing a Fight

Jack Layton didn't lose a fight: He died of cancer

Lindsay sent me this article about rephrasing how we talk about cancer in regards to the passing of Jack Layton. It was posted in the Tuesday, August 23, 2011 Edition of the Globe and Mail. If a fight is "lost", does that mean that one did not fight hard enough? Some good points brought up in this article.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Tribute to Jack Layton

This morning I woke up to some shocking news. New Democratic Party (NDP)-leader/Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton succumbed to his battle with cancer early this morning.

You may recall my post with Thy'Ca Survivors where I list his wife Olivia Chow, Member of Parliament, Trinity-St. Paul. Olivia had her own experience with thyroid cancer which was featured in an issue of the Thyroid Cancer Canada newsletter article here. In 2010, Jack Layton was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After treatment on May 2, 2011, he went on to lead "the NDP to 103 seats, more than double its previous high. This was also enough to make the NDP the Official Opposition in the Commons for the first time ever" (wikipedia). (As you may recall from my post A Day Late and A Vote Short, I was unable to vote in this election.) On July 25, 2011, he announced that he needed to take a leave from office due to a newly diagnosed cancer that resurfaced.

Jack Layton steps down to battle cancer

When I heard this news, I tried to find a photograph of Jack Layton that I took the day I met him in 1998. Jack was a keynote speaker at an event that I helped to organize called "A Fair in the Park", an environmental event, at Riverdale Farm in Toronto. This event was part of a larger one called "Serve Your City Day" that I helped organize when I was a team member at Serve Canada. I hosted the launch for the larger event and then later dressed as a clown for Riverdale Farm. At the time, he was a councillor in the City of Toronto. I have met his wife Olivia Chow on a few occasions prior to my diagnosis. On one of these occasions, at my church fundraiser, she was the caller for a "talent auction". She was quite funny and quirky and complimented me on my piano playing. (I played background music at this event.)

In this world, where politics has corruptions and politicians are sometimes caught doing things they shouldn't be doing or not following through on what they said they would do, Jack Layton still emerges sincere and a "breath of fresh air". Olivia Chow and Jack Layton struck me with their commitment to young adults, equity, fitness, and environmentalism. Quite active and visible in Toronto, they attended numerous events and supported causes. For me they represent a high degree of idealism and personal commitment to civic responsibility.

Six days before his death, he wrote this letter to Canadians. I have chosen to post a few excerpts which I found to be quite meaningful to me. I hope cancer patients and survivors, as well as young adults find it inspiring. Below are a few excerpts from his letter. Click here to read the whole thing.

I cried a few times today, saddened by this sudden loss and reading these words. One of the things I find most touching about his words are that he first addresses cancer patients and survivors. In his last moments, he addresses us and remembers us. He encourages us to "live our life" and "cherish every moment" and not to lose hope.

I send my condolences to Olivia Chow and his family. May he rest in peace.

There will be a commemoration for Jack Layton at Toronto City Hall today (August 22, 2011) from 4:00-7:00pm today. There are also porchlights on tonight for Jack Layton.

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Vegan on the Cheap

The vegan is a herbivore in an omnivorous world. Ever notice how much it costs to buy vegetables? I have noticed in the low income areas of my city (Toronto) that it is more and more difficult to find healthy options. Thank God for supermarkets that offer healthy goods at decent prices. Sometimes, I buy foods at these businesses when I need to stretch (s-t-r-e-t-c-h) my dollar. But most of the times I choose to eat organic which is a little pricier but eliminates the other stuff I don't want like pesticides, genetic modification (GMO), and more fair farming practices. There is a reason why buying vegetables cost more in the US which is the government (RE: tax dollars) heavily subsidize the meat and dairy industries which are largely factory farmed. Thus, it is cheaper to buy meat and dairy than veggies in the US. Having grocery shopped in both the US (New York City to be exact) and Canada, I think we Canadians have it a bit better for purchasing fresh produce at more affordable rates. There are more options for me living in Toronto to rely on cheaper healthier sources for my veggies like food co-operatives (like Karma Food Co-Op, The Big Carrot), discount supermarkets (like No Frills, Price Chopper), community non-profit initiatives to access healthy food for all (like FoodShare, The Stop), and farmer's markets (like Dufferin Grove, Evergreen, The Stop Farmer's Market). Whole Foods, a popular US food chain which stocks many a vegan product, is relatively new in Canada. I thought we still had two locations but now I've seen that it has expanded to seven. Although very lovely, Whole Foods is considered more high end and a bit of a luxury here in Canada. Whereas my sister in the US indicates that Whole Foods is not that much different in price than other supermarkets.

Veganism is replete with healthy options. So when a book like Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money by Robin Robertson comes along, it's a lifesaver. Now vegan eating is not only cheaper but takes less time. I really appreciate that. I will be going back to work soon and juggling writing, planning a wedding, and other commitments, so any tool that helps me to save on these precious resources (time and money) is a god-sent. So what can you learn from this book? On Page 2, Robin starts off with selling you on, "How a Vegan Diet Can Save You Money?" 1. Grocery bills, 2. Medical bills, and 3. Dining out. The cost of being a vegan is slightly higher upfront but can have a great benefit in the long run. She provides helpful meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation tips, as well as a cost saving comparison chart. If you make some of the vegan basics (such as mayonnaise, salsa, sun-dried tomatoes, seitan, vegetable broth) from recipes in her book instead of buying the store-bought products, you can save over $ 72.39. I have had the pleasure of trying out many of these recipes, which you can find photos of in my Vegan on a Budget (Vegan Photo Album 4), for the last few months. Vegan on the Cheap is a frugal masterpiece and a necessary addition to the thrifty efficient cook's bookshelf. Robin Robertson has also written a whole library of vegan cookbooks which you can check out on her site here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vegan on a Budget (Vegan Photo Album 4)

Living on a limited budget (I know it may not seem like it but I'm living on pennies, prayers, and air here, thank God for VISA and MasterCard), I have had to look at ways to cut back on my food and grocery spending. A portion of my budget is taking care of acupuncture, naturopathy, and herbal meds which I hope I can claim the receipts on next year's income tax. In addition to my decision to eat a plant-based, mostly organic diet, it ain't cheap!!! It was very refreshing to discover Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money by Robin Robertson. (Read my review here.) Robin has probably written more vegan cookbooks than anyone on this planet. You can visit her site here. I believe it did that (most of the time) and the meals were (mostly) tasty and inexpensive. (Please read my review of this book.) I must say that I have noticed a decrease in my grocery receipts over the last few weeks. I have also made some foods from other vegan cookbooks I have been using.

I noticed that the last Vegan Photo Album that I posted is pretty popular. I hope that this one (Vegan on a Budget) shows you even more how doable a vegan lifestyle is. Some people ask if I get enough protein or am missing out on anything. Hopefully after you see this album, you will put those doubts to rest.

I love posting my Vegan Photo Albums but they are very time consuming. This one has taken be about six hours in total. I have to figure out a more time-efficient way to do it. Trust me! I love cooking these foods and showing them off so it is a labour of love, no doubt.

Dan-Dan Style Linguine from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
Hot and spicy, peanuty and creamy are some of my favourite food words. This dish is made with tempeh and I believe that this was the first time that I cooked this nutritious fermented tofu treat. Tempeh has amazing health benefits. Because it is fermented, it contains the whole soy bean, retains its nutrition, and is probiotic (contains beneficial bacteria which restores the good balance of bacteria in your intestines). Plus it is easier to digest and is not estrogen-rich. Women with estrogen-sensitive breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer are advised to avoid or limit soy products. I think this is good advice. Being a vegan, I find it tricky to limit soy-product intake. It's everywhere! (Especially in meat replacement products.) According to Kris Carr in the Crazy Sexy Diet, there is tons of research that proclaims the benefits of soy products (few menopause symptoms, fewer cancers, less osteoporosis, stronger bones) too as well as some that announces some of its downfalls (thyroid complications, fewer sperm for men, increased prostate cancer risk). It is best to eat the non-processed stuff but again as a vegan it is harder to avoid this stuff (often contained in veggie dogs, ground beef substitutes, veggie burgers, etc.) I think the best thing is moderation. Dan-Dan, I learned, is a traditional spicy Szechuan noodle dish.

Tempeh that has just been boiled for 30 minutes, cooled, and then crumbled a bit.

The tempeh sizzles.

Creamy peanutty, spicy sauce! I got to get my "peanut fix" when I'm not working as a teacher since all of the schools in my province are "peanut-free zones", so my lunches cannot contain this stuff..

Ready for my fiancé and me. Topped with peanuts and green onions.

Very tasty and satisfying. We loved this dish.

Simply Simmered Seitan from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This is my third attempt at making seitan and my second recipe for this treat. Seitan, pronounced say-tan or see-tin (I have not figured out how to pronounce this words as it tends to differ depending who you ask), is made from gluten flour (a protein that comes from wheat). It originated in Asia and consumed by Buddhist vegetarian monks. Seitan is an excellent source of protein, especially for those who have soy allergies or estrogen-sensitive conditions. Seitan is not so good if you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. I have tasted good seitan and bad and I must say that this recipe falls in the former category. At first I was a little skeptical since the pieces tasted so salty, however I loved how it tasted amazing in the Savory Vegetable Cobbler, listed below. What makes the seitan so brown and salty? The soya sauce. I used tamari in this case.

Cooked in a broth of onions, garlic, and, you guessed it, soya sauce.

Looks like meatloaf...

Tastes like roast...

Texture like a softer version of a meatloaf.

Savory Vegetable Cobbler in 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This dish was ama-zing!!! It made an ample 6 servings and I unfortunately had just 2. (I took them in containers on my writing retreat. Even microwaved two days later, this was amazing stuff.) This dish is a great example of veganizing a classic comfort food! Great for cold winter evenings except I had it in the summer. Much like a veggie pot pie. The seitan was slightly salty (adding a bit to the salt quotient in this dish) but not over powering. The herbs and spices were savoury and mild kind of French tasting with marjoram, sage, and thyme. I used spelt flour for the sauce and topping. This was so tasty I need to have my girl friends over to have some.

A great way to hide celery (not my favourite vegetable but so good for you) by stirring it in with some veggies.

Adding the secret sauce (actually, it's some sort of gravy). It is browned with soya sauce. I used tamari.

I tried to spread the topping out as much as I could. The recipe said I was allowed to cheat so you can see the stuff below peaking through. The topping is not symmetrical and does not go right to sides but it bakes up nice.

The crust is f&*(^# awesome!!!

A yummy balanced meal with some steamed kale and cherry tomatoes on the side.

Quick Lo Mein from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This was a fairly simple and straightforward meal to prepare. The recipe said I could use ramen noodles (the cheap noodles that come in packs) but they tend to be higher in sodium, low in nutrition, and I will never forget the lady who worked at the dollar store who said she used to feed them to her cat. Instead, I chose whole grain spaghetti which is more power-packed.

Tasty noodly goodness.

Stovetop Cheezee Mac from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
Bleck! Oops, did I say that out loud. The idea of easy cheesy macaroni a la vegan sounded wonderful, yet my fiancé and I could not but get through all of the servings. He barely finished one, I had three since I hate to throw food away but in the end I did throw it away. :-( The first mistake, I made this macaroni using Le Creuset cookware. Given to us as a gift from a garage sale (in mint condition!!!), Le Creuset is made from iron and heats up super-fast. It's enamel coating is not non-stick (which I keep forgetting). This mean that the pasta and sauces stuck to the bottom too quick for me to keep up. Another problem, the recipe said that the sauce should thicken so while I waited longer to see that my beautiful cheezee sauce was burning a little bit. And even I took out the very few burnt bits, there was this burnt taste to the whole dish. Finally, this dish lacked salt which made the "cheeze" unconvincing and unsatisfying.

Started off well. The macaroni looks good.

The cheeze sauce is smooth and creamy.

Green peas added.

This is about when it started to go wrong (and taste burnt).

Oh it looks so good. Sigh! Too bad it tastes like crap.

Coconut Curry Rice from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
I love the combination of coconut with rice. What a lovely invention!!! This was a satisfying meal!

I soaked the raw chick peas for two days. Yes! Two days!!! I don't know if you already know this but let me tell you what happens to chick peas after soaking for two days. First, it smells and second, it sprouts and third, it gets mucus-y (or sappy, depends on your perceptions). Even though I placed these soaked peas in the refrigerator after day one and I had a piece of seaweed soaking with them (the seaweed breaks up the sugars that cause gas), I found I had to rinse, rinse, rinse that stinky smell out. It never completely left until I boiled those suckers with more seaweed. And yes, you can eat sprouted chick peas.

A yummy savoury masterpiece. Curry makes anything taste good.

Tropical Betty from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This dish could be called something I can't name here. It is sooooo good. Once I learned that I could put both the ripening bananas from on top of my refrigerator and the ripe mango my father gave me, along with pineapple and more coconut goodness, all in the same dish, I knew I had a winner on my hands. Warning: Ladies, if you feed this to your partner be prepared for them to grant you any wish you request. (Okay, maybe not any wish but I tried.) This is a refreshingly sweet tropical treat. The crust is a combo of shredded coconut, bread crumbs, sugar, almond milk, and butter. So good, I ate it raw too.

Yummy tropical filling.

The crust that tastes good raw and cooked.

Topped with some Vanilla Island coconut ice cream from Coconut Bliss.

Penne-Wise Peanutty Pasta from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This peanutty pasta survived the LeCreuset trip. Perhaps, I kept a sharper eye. The result was a very tasty, slightly sweet meal that was filling and satisfying.

Sneaking in the veggies.

Indian-Spiced Lentil Ragu from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson

This was such a tasty treat. I loved to eat this ragu just like this by the spoonful. Forget the rice. I think it's the spinach that has the satisfying flavour. The texture is really creamy and mild.

Didn't really like the rice so much. I haven't had too much luck with cooking brown basmati rice lately. Maybe it's that darned Le Creuset pot.

Rice Pudding from recipe on the Internet

Lucky to find such a great recipe like this on the internet. A great way to use up an overexcess of too moist brown basmati that was cooked in Le Creuset cookware. I think this is the recipe I used. I don't remember there are so many recipes on the internet. It was so sweet and tasty and reminded me of the Indian desserts I love so much except without the dairy. Yes, those are raisins.

Tofu Fried Rice from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson

Black Beans with Sofrito over Rice from 'The Tropical Vegan Kitchen' by Donna Klein
This recipe had to be completed in two parts. First, the sofrito I learned is a tomatoey/peppery sauce which sauce that is takes its own share of seasonings. Next, it is added to the black bean preparation. It tasted okay. Nothing too exciting or amazing. Maybe it needed some hot sauce.

Again, crappy rice.

Island Casserole from 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
Yummy yummy yummy! This is like Tropical Betty in a meal form. Just like the dessert, it has pineapple and coconut goodness, except it has rice... cooked in coconut milk! Oh, heaven! This dish was very tasty. I used soaked red beans which needed to be cooked extra, extra long to get them to that nice soft creamy texture. (I almost got there.) The rice was a little more al dente (slightly crispy) than I'm used to but it totally worked for this dish since it was baked in the oven. We really liked this one.

Deconstructed Enchilada Bake in 'Vegan on the Cheap' by Robin Robertson
This dish was pretty tasty but it seemed a little like it was missing. Maybe it was just me but my fiancé particularly enjoyed it but I don't know. I used Daiya cheddar-style cheese which I like but it didn't quite give me the taste I was looking for in this dish. It was filling and yummy. I think I know what this dish needs? Some refried and mashed pinto beans along with avocado as well as wheat tortillas instead of corn. I will try it again.

Chipotle sauce and corn tortillas

Bajan Macaroni Pie with Tofu Cheddar in Caribbean Vegan by Taymar Mason
As I have said so many times in this blog, Taymar Mason is amazing with her recipes and quickly is becoming a household name. Now, this is real vegan cheese. How did she know? How did she come up with this recipe? Maybe it's that biochemistry background, I don't know but there is no dairy in this stuff and yet it does not lack flavour. I am sure to fool many a carnivore with this creation. Spicy like fire, yet so flavourful and good you beg for more (although you can almost feel the blisters forming in your mouth, I know, I'm quite graphic and exaggerating.) Thank you for bringing a comfort food favourite to life with some Caribbean flare. I also big-up Taymar for adding this recipe for time-deprived folks since it requires less time than many of her other recipes. What's the secret?

First, add the tofu cheddar.

Next, the roux which is a fancy French word for creamy sauce (I think).

Looks good?

Now you stir it up

And bake it. The macaroni comes out a little al dente but so yummy.

So tasty and did not last long in our household.

Samosa Pie from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson
I get sentimental when I see these photos since they were the first recipe from this book I made. I felt a little dooped learning that I had to make the Double Pie Crust which added double the time. Nevertheless, I was rewarded with an amazingly yummy "open face" pie. My crust is a little imperfect but hey! It tasted amazing and it is Indian food which I love. Well, not exactly. I mean I am sure that Robin Robertson did not go to India to get this recipe but she did improvise on a snack favourite.

This recipe bucked tradition by cooking the vegetables in the oil beforethe spices. Indian traditional cooking requires you to cook the spices first then add the other stuff.

I used all the Double Pie Crust recipe. I don't know how I could have made the crust for the samosa pie without using all of the Double Pie Crust recipe which was supposed to make two separate crusts. Oh well, more to enjoy!

My little slice of samosa pie. Sorry about the yellow appearance. I needed to adjust some feature on my camera but you get the general idea.