Archive | July 2013

Lots of summer face-stuffing! Plenty of food porn.

As a food-enthusiastic person, I’m lucky to live in a super-vegan-friendly city & also have a bunch of wonderful vegan friends who are just as food enthusiastic as me! (I met a lot through my knitting group, and we do much more going out to eat than knitting anymore when we get together!). Without much of a disposable income, making tasty stuff at home & for sharing is mostly what i’m up to, but every so often splurging on what Toronto has to offer!

Brunching at Hogtown Vegan: I’ve tried two new things from the brunch menu since the last time (ohhhh peanut butter banana french toast!), and both were great! I loved the texture and flavour of the ‘omelette’ and the filling was incredible – I would’ve like more mushrooms, but it was very tasty. The BLT uses the crispy tofu ‘bacon’ they have on the club & on the PB-french-toast brunch item, and it’s just a nice basic sandwich – but man, I would’ve loved a brown bread option (I went with white cos I don’t like rye) without it having been fried on the grill, too. And ALWAYS HOME FRIES as a side. Although my friend Laura suggests upgrading to the Caesar is awesome.

Mushroom Omelette with Home Fries

Vegan BLT with Home Fries

A simple breakfast with local berries & maple syrup on Canada Day:

GF Waffles & Berries

I had cilantro (fresh coriander, southern hemispherians) and parsley in the fridge for some reason, so made a big batch of chimichurri sauce from this PPK recipe. It’s such a fresh and flavourful sauce! It’s really nice to marinate tempeh in this (although i’m sure it’d be great with beans or tofu), and we made use of it for a couple of tasty summer meals (although the corn was a bummer).

Tempeh chimichurri, sweet potato home fries, sauteed green beans & steamed corn.

Rice bowl with steamed veggies (green beans, brocolli & sweet potato), fresh avocado slices, chimichurri & sauteed asparagus.

Cool treats – although we’ve made good use of our popsicle mold at home, there’s some lovely sweet cool summer treats on offer out there at the moment. One particularly hot day in the Junction I sampled the following.

Augie’s Ice Pops! (click image to find out more) Mine on the left was watermelon mint, and my friend Marissa got a rhubarb & something one.

 

Vegan/GF ice cream sandwich from Bunner’s Bake Shop – it was a bit too much cakey sandwich and not enough ice cream for me 😦

The best thing about get togethers is seeing what people bring and the amazing spreads that happen at BBQs and potlucks. My friends Andrew & Val were nice enough to host a BBQ in their shady backyard a few weeks ago & share with us some of their stunt-meat hauls from the US; I made a potato salad I forgot to photograph & my friend Laura brought a growler of homebrew kombucha which is the most delicious i’ve ever had! Mmm. (She also wrote a far superior account of the BBQ which you should check out.)

Earth Balance puffs – these were a white cheddar flavour, and so good! I’d inhale an entire bag given a chance.

 

Butler’s Soy Curls with a homemade buffalo sauce, taco style! Such a good texture & Andrew’s sauce was a perfect addition.

 

BBQ sauce-y Beyond Meat on a sandwich. Can’t believe this is gluten free too! Great texture and I could eat the BBQ sauce version Andrew threw together always.

The weather’s been perfect for getting outdoors without being too horribly hot/sunburny – so some friends and I took advantage of this to spend a lovely afternoon picnicking on the Toronto Islands! I took a photo of the whole spread, but here’s the first of a few bowls I powered through. You should read about how Laura made these incredible little pickles perched on top of it all, too! Finished up with snacking on flavourful raw granola bites (they’re candy-like!!) and some donuts. Mmmm. Best vegan friends bring the greatness.

Lentil crackers, seed crackers, red pepper hummus, green bean and dill dip, bean salad, eggless tofu salad & those beautiful watermelon pickles! AMAZING.

Vegan/GF donuts were my contribution! Here’s a chocolate glazed one in the sun.

 

I’m off to Winnipeg later next week, so I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on some of the fantastic vegan food in that city, too! Thanks for being so delicious, summer.

 

 

 

The Digital Dozen for July 27th.

This week’s link round-up is San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) heavy to start with, because I’ve been trawling for a lot of tasty stuff from that! Enjoy, pop culture lovers. The rest is a grab-bag as always.

  • The creator of this video has done some other terrific montages of cosplayers at other cons, and this one is no exception. I have to assume a few of these people are paid to be there costumed at booths, but it doesn’t mean they look any less awesome.
  • For a more comprehensive look at SDCC cosplay, there’s a LOT of galleries out there. Bleeding Cool have a couple of hundred in these galleries, and this huge gallery by Norman Chan (I suggest clicking the grid view up on the top left to scroll through thumbnails rather than one image at a time!). There’s a LOT of amazing stuff in there, but I’m pretty fond of this lady Ash, and this TARDIS/Lady Doctor combo. Swoon.
  • The Cartoon Network had an Adventure Time-themed booth in the exhibit hall this year, which was a huge awesome cave shaped like the Ice King’s head, which you can see in this video.
  • There was a lot of good stuff if you’re into Marvel movies/TV as far as panels. I’m excited for the Agents of Shield  knowing Coulson’s gonna be taking part! They also got together a lot of the cast for the X-Men Days of Future Past movie , which will also go a long way toward me forgetting the terrible atrocity that was X-Men 3. There was also a massive ‘Marvel cinematic universe’ panel in which Tom Hiddleston turns up AS LOKI which is wonderful, so take a look:
  • Artist Olly Moss got a bunch of his friends at SDCC to draw Batman with their eyes closed, and it’s wonderful. I love that something like this can come out of the behemoth of SDCC!
  • I went to see Pacific Rim last week, and I enjoyed it. I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about it other than it was visually great, and yes – there’s a lot of heavy-handed dialogue, but I felt it was in a old-school comic book kind of way. There’s been a lot of stuff written which is far more interesting to read – that Pacific Rim isn’t dumb – uncomplicated, yes, but not dumb. This discussion of the film’s visual richness is awesome, and something i’d NEVER have come to realise objectively.
  • When passive-agressiveness leads to wonderful creativity.
  • “Frequency illusion,” somewhat better known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, is that thing that happens when you hear of something for the first time and then you see/hear about it EVERYWHERE. You know the thing. Now you know what it’s called.
  • Presented without comment:
  • This is a lovely video – about being geek girls, and being for real. It bugs me so much when people assume girls are interested in stuff because guys are, or they’re attending events like cons because guys do. Guess what? They like that stuff for the same reasons the dudes do, and they’re at the cons because of those interests, not because dudes are there. There’s no ‘fake geeks’, only real jerks. Everyone’s into their own thing, let ’em be!
  • Rescued dogs paired with PTSD-suffering veterans leads to amazing things. The video linked to in this Boing Boing article is so heartwarming, to hear that the vet & the dog could change each other’s lives for the better in such a deep way is beautiful. Both sides are so lucky.
  • Lastly – if you are somewhere in the world where there’s an Empty the Tanks protest today, head along if you can! Or just read more about the issues. Go see Blackfish. Aquariums are atrocities. Captivity and cruelty aren’t necessary to learn about marine animals.

Things I Love Thursday!

Welcome to another Thursday love-fest! Nice & simple this week.

Pawpaw ointment: this magical salve is simply fermented papaya with a preservative. The packaging claims it’s good for “boils, burns, chafing, cuts, cracked skin, gravel rash, splinters, open wounds, insect bites & nappy rash’ – believe it! I use it most for mosquito bites & to help cuts heal sooner. It’s almost time to get someone to send me more from back home! It’s SO GOOD.

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All dressed Ruffles: GET IN MY BELLY. (Mouth becomes vacuum-like around these guys.)

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Nerd Girl FitnessI’m nearing the end of my second month of attending Nerd Girl Fitness classes twice a week (helps with the Ruffles habit). Cheryl is a fantastic instructor and makes all of us feel comfortable with who we are and our skill levels, while still pushing us and getting us to work hard. If you’re in Toronto, I highly recommend taking part (and she often runs free Saturday morning classes to try!).

Pimm’s Cup: The ultimate summer beverage – far far superior to sangria if you ask me! A pitcher of Pimm’s mixed with Sprite/7UP (aka Lemonade outside of North America), then exploding with delicious morsels of strawberry, cucumber, mint & orange. YES. Learn the ways of delicious and Pimm’s up the rest of your summer.

Friends are awesome: We just farewelled a friend moving back to England – that’s not exactly something to love, I know. But it reminds me that I know a lot of amazing people who are from all over the place – whether they’re here in Toronto right now, or elsewhere in the world, I know these people remain my friends. It’s such a good feeling. I love that. Lovely people peppered about the globe! If I could just invent teleporting though, the sucky part of distance wouldn’t matter in this equation.

Recent game plays – board game snippets

I’ve played a decent amount of new (to me and to the market) games in the last couple of months, so here’s a little bit about some of them (mostly because I’ve remembered to take photos of these!).

La Boca: I know I mentioned this back in my SdJ post, but I wanted to bring it up again as I’ve played it a couple of times since I first tried it. It’s still wonderful fun, but I’ve discovered that if you play with more than 4 people it can drag a little and there’ll be downtime due to the amount of pairings that can come up for each round.

 

Tweeeet: My friend Kris got this beautiful limited edition game about birds gathering food & travelling. It’s best with 6, as then you can split into two teams of three. Each type of food will let the birds move a certain amount of spaces to pick up another type of food; the idea is to get from food nubbin to food nubbin without running out & without blocking your team mates (but blocking the other team) and get to a predetermined nest first. The board is a series of strips that are added as you move (and taken away from the back as you progress forward), which is a cool way to have forward movement without a huge board, I really liked that. Although very light on theme, there’s a great strategy to work on with team mates to ensure success, and really – look at these beautiful pieces! It’s a joy to just sit and play 🙂

 

Targi: Rather than having a board, you create the playing area with cards in Targi, a great little 2-player worker placement game. The frame of cards around the outside tracks the progression of the game (and also allows you to perform the action on there if you place a worker on certain cards), and the cards in the middle will either be goods or ‘tribe’ cards – the latter you build in front of you to create a tableu worth a various amount of points. The strategy is pretty decent in this, but there’s a lot to the part where you have to try and place your workers in the best place possible each round, but also think on your toes for a plan B or plan C when your opponent takes the spot you really wanted. I love it!

 

Diavolo: This had my brain hurting about 15 seconds in. I’m usually okay at quick reaction games but this is really friggin’ devilish! You will toss all the components on the table – one die will give you the conditions on which you’ll look at the numbered dice, and when you have the ‘answer’ (for instance, largest sum of what coloured dice) means you’ll make a grab for a little imp of that colour. Miss out on an imp? Lose a gem. I lost gems pretty quickly, ha! Maybe next time i’ll try and ramp up my brain with coffee beforehand.

  

Banana Matcho: Zoch, known for bringing terrific kids games to the market, make sure you have ridiculous banana-squeezing dice-rolling fun with this. The premise is simple – one person is rolling the monkey dice and trying to get to three monkeys and squeeze the banana before the other person rolling at the same time gets a set on the dice with fruit symbols (various combos are worth different amount of points, but you want to get points before the monkey roller squeezes the banana!). I love that this keeps two people involved in the game at once – and even though it’s a light dice-rolling game every time I’ve played it it’s had a table full of adults shouting with excitement.

 

Game of Thrones LCG: Sat down to a 4-player game of this a while back, and despite the “thrown in at the deep end” feeling you get when you’re not familiar with the decks in this game, especially with many expansions (I don’t think I even saw my whole deck that game!), it was still a great, deep game. Unlike other deck-based games there was a pretty neat component in the role selection at the start of each round, which allows for a little benefit depending on what you pick, and certain pairings between players are created depending on where you’re placed on the board – you’ll either benefit from leaving a player alone that round, or from going at them. As this was the first time Adam & I had played and the first 4-player game for our fellow players, it did stretch out time-wise.. but I look forward to visiting this again to see what some of the other decks are like (I was the Greyjoys, would like to give the Starks and Lannisters a go!).

 

Ave Caesar: A fun, light Roman-themed racing game. It’s a simple form of gameplay – you play a card (value 1 through 6, randomly drawing three to start the game with and topping up as you go) to move around the track. But there can be bottlenecks where you can block people from getting past you, and there’s the requirement that you must take a pit-stop in round 1 or 2 to give an ‘Ave Caesar’ to the emperor. You also have a limited deck of cards, so you need to make sure you have enough points to get you around the track 3 times and over the finish line! I scraped in with the win in this game, despite being blocked at a bottle neck for my second-to-last round. Good times!

 

Bruges: We have an advance copy of the English release of Stefan Feld’s Bruges – I didn’t get to play this at the Gathering of Friends so i’d been waiting until this past week to try it, and overall I really love it! It’s a simple game of rounds of taking actions, light strategy and some luck due to card drawing. The little bit of luck can be hard to mitigate which is my only gripe about the game – I’ve played twice and some aspect of the game has been tough to accomplish due to not getting the right types of cards. Despite that, there’s a lot of variety in what you can do, and the huge pool of cards (of which only some are used in each game) means a great deal of replayability. This is most definitely the most I’ve enjoyed a Feld game since Castle of Burgundy – I believe it’ll be out this September in stores!

Time for a catch up of photos!

Went through the backlog of stuff on my phone, here’s some random snippets! Click any to view a larger size on Flickr.

Red Door

Hangouts in the shade during a walk

 

Old mini-arcade games – I used to own Caveman, and I had a Pac-Man one like this but it was Ms Pac-Man! I tripped out seeing this.

 

Big jug sculpture in the park

Our balcony this summer. It’s so nice having the table & chairs!

Postcard/photo/art blob. I added a few more postcards to tie it all together and i’m very please with how it’s looking. I love ephemeral stuff stuck to my wall!

Veiny leaves. Saw these in an immaculately landscaped garden in Yorkville. So pretty.

 

Jake napping in my arms the day after we got him 🙂

Ornate door in the UofT campus. I love doors, okay?

 

 

 

 

The Digital Dozen, late edition.

A Sunday special this weekend, as I was a busy bee yesterday. Enjoy!

  • A long time ago (we used to be friends), Veronica Mars took hold of a special place in my heart. I don’t have the disposable income to say I contributed to the movie Kickstarter, but I’m sure glad 90-something thousand other people did so it is being shot right now. (I’ll be sure to spend at the box office.) Thanks to San Diego Comic Con, I was just flailing at all the familiar marshmallows in this sneak preview. Awww. (There’s also some snippets from the panel over on Bleeding Cool.)
  • I went to a fantastic vegan BBQ last weekend, which i’ve been remiss in not writing about – it was fantastic though! Since then it’s been too hot to think about any kind of BBQ other than this Watermelon Grill. Who wants to hand deliver me one?
  • These creepy organisms really do look like living rocks. They’re pretty fascinating. But why on earth someone would look at this and decide to eat is is way beyond me.

  • Back when I was studying at the University of Queensland, I’d every so often go by the Physics Museum on campus (one of many museums at UQ), and also stroll past the nearby display of the pitch drop experiment. It dripped in my first year there, but nobody caught it on video or at all! Now finally someone’s caught a pitch drop on camera but it wasn’t the UQ one – maybe next time.. in a long time, I guess. The Trinity College one took 69 years.. SCIENCE!
  • This series of photos – ‘Paradise Parking‘ – is a beautiful mix of nature and modern decay. They look unreal! But they’re for real.
  • Adventure Time time! They’re putting out an Adventure Time encyclopaedia which looks pretty sweet. I wish they’d release the Enchiridion.
  • There’s no question that even if you didn’t see the headline you’d know these photos were all from the 90s. So much steeped in big hair and baggy pants. Oh, yeah:
  • One of my favourite podcasts is Good Job Brain, a general trivia and quiz podcast. It’s great fun, full of interesting little nuggets, and the hosts are enthusiastic and jovial. I encourage you to take a listen! I started way back at the board game episode, #22 – but take a look through the archive and see what takes your fancy.
  • Combine street murals and an awesome use of an unusual ‘found’ material to create them, and I’m a fan. These moss murals are so amazingly precise it’s hard to believe they’re created with a pressure washer. So cool.
  • Have you ever seen the Discovery Channel show How It’s Made(Visit the discovery.ca page if you’re in Canada). Back when I lived in a house with cable TV, I’d often find myself sucked in to watching clip after clip as they showed marathons of them. It’s hard to stop watching. Start here (U-locks; teepees; croissants; rolling luggage) and see how much of a hole you fall down.
  • Speaking of the Discovery Channel – there’s going to be a Breaking Bad special of the Mythbusters! Marvelous. While you’re at it, watch this 9 minute recap of everything that’s happened in Breaking Bad til now, in anticipation of the upcoming wrap-up of the series.
  • Allow yourself to be filled with joy while you watch this video of a firefighter saving an unconscious kitten from dying of smoke inhalation. My heart burst. There’s a short clip of an interview with him here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to trawl the internet for delicious bits of SDCC news/clips/etc!

Things I love Thursday!

Thursday’s upon us again, let’s get lovin’. It’s a particularly rambly TILT this week 🙂

Let’s get this out of the way: I love the portable air conditioning unit we have in our room. I spent many a non-air-conditioned summer back home in northern-NSW/Brisbane, and I somehow survived. But having this creature comfort has been so nice even in this short summer, and it makes me feel much better about the comfort of Jake when we’re not home!

We got an Aeropress a while back (fun fact: it was invented by the same guy who invented the Aerobie frisbee!), and it’s our preferred coffee brew method at home. (Until we get a nice pourover setup, sometime. Mmm.) Adam gets a chance to work with them a lot at work too, and he’s shown me the ‘inverted’ method for brewing. Although the regular method is great, the inverted method allows better control over the process (no dripping before you create the seal, like with the regular method). I love the inverted method, so much. I tried to make a short video on Instagram showing the superficial differences, but this is a much clearer & more precise tutorial.

Delicious summer eats! One Love Vegetarian is a delicious Caribbean vegan cafe in the Annex – I love their corn soup/stew, and their roti – but the BBQ tofu stirfry (especially smattered with the scotch bonnet hotsauce) is the one I LOVE LOVE LOVE. Especially with the fried plantain and avocado slices topping it off. Mmm.

One Love Vegetarian BBQ tofu stirfry in the park!

Back when I was first getting into horror films, I very quickly became a fan of Peter Jackson’s work pre-LOTR. Braindead is still one of my all-time favourite indie horror flicks, and it certainly gave me an appreciation of horror-comedy, as well as the Evil Dead films. It was very easy for me to fall in love with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost’s efforts with Sean of the Dead (especially being a Spaced fan) considering all this, and I especially enjoyed their follow up Hot Fuzz. I’m very excited for their finale in the ‘Cornetto trilogy’, the World’s End – so when you take all of this preamble you’ll understand why I love this video of Peter Jackon interviewing the Wright/Pegg/Frost trio about The World’s End.

Adam had been telling me about a show he watched a few years ago called Saving Grace, and we have been watching it through on Netflix together – just finished season 2 last night. It is honestly the kind of show I’m surprised I love, but Holly Hunter as Grace is just so bloody great that i’m compelled to keep watching. I’m no woman of faith, but it’s definitely been an enjoyable series to watch.

And finally, catching some shade with this dude:

Shade hangouts