Monthly Archives: May 2013

The DapperDame eats Greens

My quest to try new (and preferably healthy) foods continued today. I went for the veal of the vegetable world: fiddleheads aka baby ferns plucked before they even have the chance to reach adolescence.  Even though my dad comes from a long line of fiddlehead sleuths and pickers they never appealed to me. Now I get to pay $5 for half a pound at the farmers market.  Lunch today was fiddleheads sauteed with garlic.  Glad I tried them but I’ll go with asparagus next time.

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The Dapperdame Deserves

Last week I hung out with the lovely Bethaf in her hood in Toronto.  While exploring the neighbourhood we wandered into a Goodwill in which she explained to me that she had challenged herself not to buy anything new (or, if it had to be new, it would be ethically produced) for a whole year. A few days later she blogged about it (here) and explained that the decision came partially from this feeling of entitlement to new things that is so pervasive to Western culture.

Reading her post helped me more eloquently think about my recent self-challenge of a plant-based diet (aka a less-than-completely-ethical vegan) and my motivations.

Do I (we) deserve to eat meat?

Meat is tough on the environment.  Well, not meat exactly, but raising animals for consumption uses much greater resources than plant-matter.  We put resources (water, land, grain, etc.) into raising animals to eat instead of just using that material to feed ourselves.  Meat is resource intensive and very inefficient to produce.  This is a figure from eateco.org (the percentages represent amount of energy available for human use divided by the amount of energy it took to produce).  We are getting negative returns from meat and dairy products.

Food Item Energy
Efficiency %
Chicken 18.1
Milk 20.6
Eggs 11.2
Grain fed beef 6.4
Lamb 1.2
Salmon farmed 5.7
Shrimp 0.9
Corn 250
Soy 415
Apples 110
Potatoes 123

The lower the figure the more inefficient the process, requiring higher energy inputs.

This isn’t even mentioning the environmental impact of all the manure created by these animals and the horrific living conditions almost all of them endure. As other countries like China and Brazil move to match our meat/dairy consumption it puts even greater demands on the environment and these countries have massive populations.  These massive populations are becoming richer and realizing that they too “deserve” a chunk of this dietary high-life we have experienced for decades.

All of this info can be found with a quick google search (and I encourage you to do so) but the point is always the same:  animal-products are not a sustainable way to feed the planet.

So do I deserve to eat meat more than others in our world?  Do I deserve to eat meat if it means others will go without food? Do I deserve to eat meat if it will have a much more negative impact on the environment than a plant-based diet?

The answer I have come up with to each of these questions is no.  So I’m going to try very hard not to.  I’ll probably slip up sometimes or choose to eat the occasional treat with dairy but, for the foreseeable future, I’m plant-based.  I’m on a slippery slope to hippie-ism.

Plus, does this make you want to eat bacon? (No, it isn’t a sad peta video)

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The DapperDame Eats (like a College Student)

May 10th was the official end-date of my first attempt at a meat and dairy/egg free existence.  This was strategic because I had planned a trip to Toronto and home to the Soo that evening and did not want to skip out on culinary delights of traveling (aka airport food…).  It turned out that I wasn’t as ready to jump back into an omnivorous lifestyle as I thought. At the airport I couldn’t bring myself to meat-it-up but did end up with cheese on a panini.  Despite 2 instances of meat consumption I more or less stuck to vegetarianism but veganism mostly went out the window for week.

With a few days in Toronto and my brother’s culinary expertise here are my top food moments:

1. Stella’s (Traverse City, Michigan):  The whole fan-squad minus the paternal unit drove 3 hours south into Michigan to do some shopping, eating and sight-seeing in Traverse City.  The Cherry Capital of…well…at least the mitten state.  Our ever-generous mummers treated us to a fancy-schmancy dinner at a local restaurant.  It gets much of its charm from the location:  the root cellar of an old mental (health) institution.  Despite how dank it must sound the place had lovely natural light and comfortable cool air.  The menu is printed new daily because the chef makes it from whatever he sources locally that day.  We started the meal with house-made fresh mozza.  For a main I ordered a ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and amaretti.  It was a little on the sweet side from the gourd and cookie filling but was filled out by the tomato sauce and lardo (it makes me feel less badly to use the Italian word).  Dessert was two-scoops of gelato in blueberry-basil and salted caramel.  Absolutely no regrets and very happy taste buds.

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2. Zocalo (Toronto, Ontario):  after hearing ShanWow rave about this place (and being unable to get a reservation at Libretto) a mini SLP reunion was held at Zocalo restaurant in the junction area of Toronto. A solid decision on my part. The atmosphere was relaxed and intimate enough to catch up with old friends without feeling rushed. While the food tended to be meat and dairy friendly I found a lovely falafel plate with a sweet-pea hummus that I should have ordered in quadruple portions. The whole idea of the restaurant is to order platters of “deconstructed sandwiches” and then mix and match to construct your own.  Win!

3. Bakerbots (Toronto, Ontario):  Remember those cupcake shops that popped up about 8 years ago selling cutting edge bacon or cherry buttercream creations for $3.75 apiece?  Those are out.  I *thought* that fancy donuts were in. Since Edmonton doesn’t have an official fancy-donut seller I was determined to sample one while in Toronto. In a last minute move we raced west on Queen to catch a GloryHole but missed the shop before it closed.  My dream would not be realized.  Not to fear – JSLPA took that moment to inform me that donuts were, in fact, so last year and the new thing is ICE CREAM SANDWICHES.  Here is how it works:  select a cookie from 6-8 scrumptious homemade flavours like ginger, birthday cake, chocolate chip, you get the idea.  Select one (or two!) ice cream(s) from a list of about 15 made-in-bakery selections.  Smoosh together.  I went for a ginger cookie with london fog and burnt toffee ice creams.

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4.  Our House (in the middle of the street):  my pop slaved all week to keep us in the health.  Minus the night we all indulged in Mrs. B’s pizza because you can’t get pizza like that outside of the Soo.  For the final night he fit some tofu into his grilled meat fest but the highlight was the spicy corn.  There must be more to the recipe but he basically marinated corn-on-the-cob in sriracha sauce and then BBQ’d it.  You must eat this.

5.  Our House (in the middle of the street):  Even though my little brother has an excellent live-in chef (aka, dad) he hasn’t completely foregone the college student food experience (even if his whiskey selection is top shelf).  Small brother treated me to multiple taste-sensations over the week.  The most interesting and likely most surprising was the grilled PB&J with banana peppers. I was skeptical enough to request back up in advance but ended up eating the entire sandwich.  It shouldn’t work – but it does!  To add to the list he whipped up a few ramlettes (ROM-lets) which consist of an omelette with ramen noodles cooked inside.  Again, you just need to try it.  Lastly (but not leastly) he introduced me to cold brew coffee.

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Any favourite college student foods I should try?

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The DapperDame gets Snowed Out

Flying and I have a tentative arrangement.  It satisfies my need for travel to distant lands and I mask my terror under a delicate sheen:  a few deep breathes before take off, a little internal reassurance with (light) turbulence and some mind-clearing meditation and I appear to be the nonchalant master-of-the-skies that I should be by now.  This has gotten me through 3-day-long trips and touch down on 5 continents – I was getting so good I had started to believe it myself.

Until today.  I broke up my journey back home into two parts so I could spend 24 hours in Toronto before FINALLY seeing my family*.  Home for mother’s day was the plan.  After a kindly ride to the airport from JSLPA and Pa-Rum I was a little early so I took full advantage of the generous spread of complimentary coffee, cappucinos and teas – something you always end up regretting on an airplane.

Right before boarding a friend back home let me know that she was surprised I had managed to land in Sault Ste. Marie that day due to the snow.  SNOW.  Did I mention it is now mid-May? The boarded us anyway and off we flew. The plane started a descent which is when the passengers could start seeing thick snow whizzing through the propellers and over the windows.  It got a little bumpy.  At first I thought we were never breaking through the cloud cover until I realized we had; we were already looking at the ground but it was just as white as the air and the clouds.  And suddenly the plane aborted – just pulled back up into the snowy clouds.

Then we waited.  We staked out the territory hoping for a break in the storm and we did that staking for over an hour.  I would come to regret that extra Earl Grey.  Between a full bladder, some queasy tummy from a poorly timed breakfast decision and the pilot’s seemingly sadistic desire to withhold information the hand-wringing began.  The first crack.  When you (I) hover around too long on an aircraft your (my) mind starts thinking about things it really should ignore mid-air:  how DOES this stay in the air? This has to land some time – either way this has to eventually find its way back to the ground. How much fuel does one of these carry?

Eventually we all gave up one by one, conquered by our bladders and being reminded by overhead page that we were seeking relief at our own risk. Finally, we decided to turn around.  Huge admiration for that flight attendant because she stayed calm and walked upright through all that turbulence like this happens all the time. As if they had been considering that this *might* happen suddenly there were complimentary sandwiches and another round of cookies as a peace offering. Of course there was one last hitch because the pilot landed that airplane like it was running out of gas.  This was the first time I have ever reached for those ever-present paper bags waiting in the seat pocket and held on to it just in case.

Back to Toronto for an extra night to try again in the morning.  Success the second time around!

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This is the ferry at dock – that is the shore. The shortest ferry ride on earth.

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Toronto Skyline from Billy Bishop

*I saw my parents in Edmonton in August 2012 and haven’t seen the siblings since my trip home in March of last year.

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The DapperDame Counts Down

3 more sleeps.  3 more 640am alarm clocks.  3 more days of work.  Then cheese, glorious cheese.  And possibly ice cream.  The meat part I’m not too worried about either way.  Right, and family.  You don’t realize how much you miss those crazy nuts until you haven’t seen them in FOREVER.  Since august for the parentals and since MARCH OF 2012 for the sibsters.  Friday evening flight to be reunited with JSLPA and then a fun-filled day wandering Toronto – my favourite city.  Sunday (mother’s day, how apt) and I’ll be in my hometown for 8 days.  The land of gnocchi and pizza and this girl isn’t going to let a little bit of veganism stand in her way.

Yes, I think I’ll continue eating plant-based at home (and out of home as much as possible) when I get back but no, I’m not going to obsess over it on my mini-vacation.  But to get me through this last week I finally experimented with some of my goal foods.

1) Ratatouille.  Not only does this dish have the most pleasing name but it also allows me to check off eggplant.  Boom, roasted.  Actually, baked.  It isn’t awful but I won’t be running around to three grocery stores again to pick a peck of the perfect aubergine.

2) Nutritional yeast.  It just sounds sad, doesn’t it?  Prior to this experiment I hadn’t heard of any yeast that isn’t for making dough rise but it is a vegan staple for imparting “cheesy” flavour onto various dishes.  This time it was added as a final texturizer in some very tasty tofu courtesy of Tyler (husband of ShanWow).  You honestly didn’t know tofu could be this good.  I’ll make it for you.

3) Weirdo vegan baking.  Check check.  Last week I baked a batch of beautiful black bean brownies that consisted of only 5 things:  black beans, dates, cocoa, vanilla and peanut butter.  No jokes.  Unless you count my made up icing of peanut butter, coconut oil and brown sugar.  The recipe is here and (assuming you have the right equipment) is just a tad time consuming and totally worth it.  I don’t have photos of my brownies but they actually looked almost identical to those on the link.  Bonus:  if you have a gluten free friend then offer these as a treat.

4) I-can-totally-believe-its-not-ice-cream. AKA dairy-free-coconut-ice-cream-substitute.  I’m a fan of Marble Slab (currently off-limits).  But companies will fight for my ice cream dollars and there are all kinds of alternatives from soy to hemp to this – coconut.  It seemed like the most promising choice (and had the prettiest packaging).  I had been eyeing this in the case at the organic grocers but, at $8 a pop for 476ml, it was difficult to justify.  Except yesterday – when it is 30 degrees out and $1.50 off I can easily be sold.  I went with my gut and got the cherry dream. Verdict:  not bad.  Not ice cream. The thick coconut flavour hits immediately and the texture is just a little too on the icy side (read: melted and refrozen ice cream).  If you’re serious about no ice cream ever again (ever) this might be enough to get you by.  Maybe I need to try the mocha fudge to be sure.

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You’re so coy, coconut bliss.

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Hipster radio cameo with my hippie dietary choices

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Sad looking ratatouille.

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Yam fries and tofu to round out the meal(s)

New Food Goals:

1) Use avocados.  Start with chocolate avocado pudding.

2) Daikon.

3) Vegan mac n’ “cheese”

4) Vietnamese salad rolls

Ankle news:  My physio is an old dude with an accent that places electrodes on my foot and leaves the room.  Oh well, it is Albertan tax dollars paying for it.  I do plan to find someone new who will actually give me things to do with my foot.  It is looking like 4 more weeks of no climbing, maybe 2-4 of no running.  This gal is feeling a little blue about it all.  At least I can be lazy at home!

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The Dapperdame Hobbles

A bunch of weeks down and one more week to go.  Over the past week I finally started to develop the cravings for all things off-limits; the cravings I expected would start on the second or third day waited a few weeks.  Mostly it was the baking all over the nursing units but the block of fudge in my fridge was causing me to keep the door open a little longer every time I went to get some almond milk: no one  would know.  A funny thing to tell myself when others could care less if I ingest dairy products, the challenge is all mine.  But the cravings came and I avoided the “no” foods but, trust me, if you stand reading packages in the grocery aisles long enough you can find products of pure fat and carbs with no nutritional value and are still technically entirely “plant-based”.

This week’s culinary adventure is ratatouille.  After pinteresting for a while I came across a pretty dish that I’ll pair with a friend’s yummy tofu recipe and some sweet potato fries.  The obligatory oatmeal breakfast.  Salads (with black beans and veggies) for dinners.  One more week.

What is my reward at the end?  I trip home to see my family!  And a lovely stopover in Toronto for one day.  5 more sleeps!

The one damper on the past few weeks and on my vacation time is my limited mobility.  My ankle is healing slowly and walking remains slow but worse than the turtle-pace is the time limit before real discomfort sets in. I’ve got about 3-4 hours on my feet and then they start to ache – both of them because I’m now walking funny on the left because of the sprain in the right.  The first visit with a physio this week brought some crushing news:  6 weeks total (4 more weeks) of no climbing.  Had it been one or two more weeks I may have been motivated to continue going and working on arms but I think I need something more structured.  And no running yet.  This sprained ankle may soon result in heart disease.