Thursday, May 31, 2012

Make Your Own Bi-Bim-Bap

Hey there! I'm still here in Toronto learning en Francais in the Explore program, but I did work ahead a little bit for the blog while I was still in Winnipeg. Because of that, I have a new recipe to share with you. : )
It's simple, it's easy, it can be made with whatever is left over in your's Bi-Bim-Bap!
I love Bi-Bim-Bap. But really, what's not to love? Steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables, topped with a sunny-side up egg, and then covered in Korean gochujung, there is a reason why Bi-Bim-Bap is Korea's national dish. But the best thing about Bi-Bim-Bap isn't how great it tastes, or how healthy it is, or even how pretty it looks. The best thing about Bi-Bim-Bap is how easy it is to make using the left overs hanging around in your fridge. Why? Because there is no set combination of vegetables a Bi-Bim-Bap must have. In fact, my friend spent five months in South Korea and says that while he was there he saw about a hundred different kinds of Bi-Bim-Bap.

Make Your Own Bi-Bim-Bap
-Vegetables thinly sliced and lightly stir-fried (*use whatever you have!)
-1/4 cup uncooked rice per person
-1 large egg per person
-Korean gochujung
-Sesame oil
*The vegetables I used were carrots, cucumbers, white onion, yellow bell pepper, and nori.

Follow the package's instructions to cook the rice. While the rice is cooking, thinly slice all you vegetables and lightly stir-fry them in the sesame oil. Then cook your egg sunny-side up by cracking it into a frying pan, adding a spoonful of water and then covering the pan until the egg is cooked on top, but is still liquid in the centre. Once this has been done, place one serving of rice into the bottom of a bowl, add the vegetables into a circle surrounding the rice, top with the cooked egg, and then add the gochujung to finish(warning: gochujung is spicy).
The cooked rice and lightly stir-fried vegetables.
Once the bottom of the egg is cooked, add some water and cover the pan to steam the egg and cook the top.
That's it! Isn't Bi-Bim-Bap such a colourful dish? It's also best served with a side of kimchi, and a cool glass of almond milk to counter the spiciness of the meal.
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Monday, May 28, 2012

Speaking En Francais In Toronto: Part 1

Well, so far I've been in Toronto for one full week, and man what an experience it's been so far! When I first arrived at the Glendon campus, I thought that I would never leave except for the few excursions I signed up for. Oh, how wrong I was. I ended up spending a good portion of my Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the heart of down town Toronto, shopping at the Eaton's Centre (a huge mall), taking pictures of buildings, and going out for drinks to socialize with my new classmates.
And the French! At the heart of the program is to learn how to read and write French, and to be honest, that's been quite a ride of it's own. On the first day of the program I felt so lost and alone because I literally couldn't speak any French and could not understand the words others said to me. But now after just one week I feel as though all those years of mandatory French class have come back, and that perhaps I now know more French then I ever have before.
Before I show you the food I've been eating (because I just know that's what you want to see), here are some of the photos I took while sight-seeing. : )
The CN Tower.
A metro bus, something I've ALWAYS wanted to ride.
At one point we stopped at a small amusement town for children (similar to Tinker Town just outside of Winnipeg), and in the little animal area there was a goat standing on the roof of a shed! I wonder how it got up there...
And here is a photo of the courtyard where I have been spending most of my week days chatting with friends, listening to my classmate Ty play his guitar, and tossing around the disc I brought from home.
And before I tell you about the meal plan at the university and what I have been eating, I have some really cool news. When I went to the airport to fly to Toronto, I discovered that Winnipeg's new airport has a Stella's CafĂ© and Bakery inside of it! Awesome. : )
And now here are the photos. The photo below is of the food area in the cafeteria, where the different sections offer a variety of food options for you to choose from. At first I was excited to see the "VEGAN" sign, but sadly the cafeteria doesn't seem to have any vegan options. But there is some good news, so far I've been able to eat very well these past few days because the cafeteria has lots of vegetarian options.
The way the meal plan works is, every student is allowed to have two sides and one main dish for lunch and dinner, and three pieces of food for breakfast (ex. muffin, yogurt, apple, orange, banana, oatmeal, toast, eggs, etc.). So far for breakfast I've been sticking to the apple, orange, banana combo, and thanking my lucky stars that I remembered to pack a serrated knife with me. Then for lunch and dinner I am able to make myself a small salad from the salad bar (woohoo!), and then choose a hot side and main, and so far there has always been one vegetarian main. Here are some pictures of my meals.
A cheesy zucchini and bell pepper dish with carrots and peas to go along with my salad.
An amazing vegetable chilli with steamed and seasoned vegetables.
Curry chick peas with seasoned cauliflower and a salad.
Cheese stuffed pasta with more steamed and seasoned vegetables.
And every once in a while the kitchen will have small pieces of desserts for dinner, like this quarter piece of a cinnamon bun.
All in all it's been pretty good, although, perhaps you may have noticed the lack of sweet things in these photos. Oh gosh, I'm really missing my cookies and brownies! Anyways, I'll keep you guys updated as often as I can, but for now it really feels as though the program has been designed to give the students as little "do-nothing" time as possible. : )
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Amazing Meal at The Peasant Cookery

Bonjour mon amis! Hello my invisible internet friends! I am currently in Toronto, Ontario, at York University, and I am here to learn "en francais", which is French for French. Ahahaha, bad joke. : )
The "Explore" program that I am currently enrolled in provides all my meals, which is both good and bad. Good, because the University gives me lots of options and so far it has been very easy to continue eating a vegetarian diet, despite being away from home and not being able to make any of my meals. But also bad, because it lessens the chances of me eating meals at some of Toronto's finest restaurants. I can make you one promise though. I will be going to Canada's Wonderland for sure and have already promised one of the other participants (Salute Yuriy!) that I will eat a funnel cake while I am there.
But now for some even more exciting news! I went to The Peasant Cookery with two great friends of mine, Colin from, and Adrian from, and if you would like to read their reviews of the meal, click here and here. I feel as though I can sum up my meal in one word, magnificent. My meal at The Peasant Cookery was truly a great experience and I hate that it took me so long to eat there. I can't thank Colin enough for suggesting we go there to write a review.
Here are some photos of the dishes I ate that evening. Above is a photo of the French Onion Soup, which was great and not too salty, a problem you can often find in restaurants.
The bread basket, which contained three different types of bread, all of them warm and flaky, served with some plain butter.
My main dish, the cheese gnocchi, served with various vegetables and grated parmesan on top. This was my first time eating gnocchi, and I may not have ordered it had Courtney from The Fig Tree not recommended them and explained that they were "like little pillows of heaven". And indeed, they were! Golden brown on the outside, soft and delicate on the inside, and with just a hint of cheesiness, these were absolutely delicious.
And now the desserts! I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. The boys were so eager (that's right, I'm blaming it on you Adrian, Mr. Chocolate Lover) to dig in, that I barely had any time to snap a photo before the spoons began their descent.
Above is a photo of the chocolate pot served with biscotti, the waiter's favourite dessert, and now my favourite dessert. But seriously, what's not to love about a warm and chocolatey twice baked cookie served with a pot of rich and creamy chocolate?
The creme brulee. Myself and the others enjoyed it, however, both Colin and Adrian said that they preferred the creme brulee from Elements.
And the final dessert, three cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. This was also very delicious, but the ice cream started to melt very quickly (probably because of the warm chocolate sauce).
And here was my bill. Truthfully, I thought this was a pretty low number for the great experience I had that evening.
Overall, things that night couldn't have been better. The food was great, the servers were lovely and very helpful, and the price was surprisingly low.
The Peasant Cookery is located downtown at 283 Bannatyne Avenue. If you are interested in looking at the menu for The Peasant Cookery, click here.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Virtual Vegetarian and Vegan Potluck!

I have some exciting news for everyone. A little while ago, Courtney from The Fig Tree had the wonderful idea of holding an on-line virtual potluck.  A group was formed and each blogger was asked to create a vegetarian or vegan dish, post about it, and then provide links of all the dishes people had "brought" to the potluck. 
Yesterday I posted the recipe for the vegan dessert I had made, Vegan Chocolate and Banana Rolled Oat Bites. Here is what everyone else brought!
Big Bertha Veggie Burgers from Peaches and Cream.
Strawberry Rhubarb Coconut Crumb Bars from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.
Avocado Potato Salad from Vanilla & Spice.
Super Green Salad With Strawberries from The Vegan Chickpea
Stuffed Bell Peppers from Fork and Beans. 
Broccoflower Guacamole from Flavour.
Peaches and Cream Parfaits from Will Cook for Friends. 
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Monday, May 21, 2012

Vegan Chocolate and Banana Rolled Oat Bites

Hi everyone. Today I am sharing a simple and easy to make vegan dessert recipe. I was really inspired by the Frosty No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies I found at Oh She Glows, and decided to create a similar treat using the ingredients I had available.
The recipe is perfect for some one who is looking to satisfy their chocolate craving in a hurry because the whole process only takes about five minutes to whip up, and then ten minutes to coll and harden. It's also great for someone that just wants a small dessert rather than a whole tray of cookies since the recipe makes about 20 small cookies, 10 medium.

Vegan Chocolate and Banana Rolled Oat Bites
1/4 cup vegan chocolate (bakers chocolate contains no dairy products)
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp of almond milk
1/2 tbsp of agave nectar

First, melt the chocolate in the microwave. Then add all the other ingredients into the bowl and stir it together. Place spoonfuls of the batter into small candy cups and then put into the freezer for ten minutes to harden. Easy as that!
These cookies aren't overly sweet and instead have a very intense chocolate flavour, however, if you are interested in a sweeter and chewier treat, you are welcome to add more agave nectar. These cookies can be served straight from the freezer, because the banana keeps them soft and pillowy, but I found I enjoyed them best after they had softened a little more in the fridge.
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