Big Macs, Faux Tuna Salad & Stew

Happy Groundhog Day!

I really like groundhog day when it comes around each year. I’m excited to hear the groundhogs’ consensus – I guess see it, not so much hear it. Hear it from their human handlers and from the news, I guess is the more accurate way to say that.

There are several groundhogs who weigh in on this day in North America – and possibly elsewhere, I haven’t looked into it. Sometimes they really don’t agree with each other, sometimes they really do. Either way, I think it’s a hilarious tradition and I love when they say spring is coming early. Even if it doesn’t come any earlier than scheduled, at least that news gives me hope for the next couple of dark months left of winter. I also want to say I’m only okay with this practice if the groundhogs are treated very nicely – but so far I get the impression that they are.

So this year, the Canadians (Shubenacadie Sam, Wiarton Willie & Fred la marmotte) agreed that spring is coming soon! They did not see their shadows! It’s great news for us, however our neighbours to the south didn’t get such great news: Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania did see his shadow and therefore, they will get six more weeks of winter. Too bad, that’s what you get when Donald Trump is your president I guess! #thankstrump

It’s been super slow for me in the world of cooking this winter so far. As you will notice in my Christmas post, I did very little Christmas-related cooking and baking. Actually it was basically none. In October I received a working layoff notice at work and well, it’s stressful. I’m sure most people can relate to the feeling. It happens fairly often in life, but I took it hard. I had just started this first ‘real’ job in 2014 so already going through this seemed too soon. But it’s the reality of our economy today, and I am somewhat thankful for experiencing it so early on in my working lifetime. Next time around, I hope to handle it much better. For this first experience though, I handled it badly – I ate poorly, I slept very little, I was angry and stressed and upset for several months. This process unfortunately involved months of  lead up and uncertainty, lots of tension, secrecy, breakdowns, etc. Super dramatic. Our workplace is still a toxic environment at this point. I never expected this to happen at such a progressive place, let alone any charity or non profit. It’s been so disappointing.

I am trying to get over this hump and back into my cooking groove, and soon my running groove as well! Not a day goes by now that I don’t think of running which means: it’s time! 🙂 I get that urge, that ache as if it’s some kind of chocolate or other addictive substance that I’ve just gotta have. I’m planning to make sure all my running gear is organized so as soon as another sunny, clear, snow-less day comes along I’ll be Ready to Run (usually the first song I listen to on a run, thanks to the Dixie Chicks).

Fortunately this past week, I did manage to try two new recipes plus a couple weeks ago I went to Pure Kitchen and just wanted to share my thoughts on what they’ve got going on over there. I have before, but might as well restate how much I love that place. The first new recipe I tried, I was skeptical of it at first honestly. I love the mock chicken salad from OSG (find it here), so trying a different chickpea salad recipe was very low on my priority list. But something about this recipe from Full of Beans Life (found on Pinterest) just stuck out to me and I had to make it. Maybe it was the pictures?? I don’t know, but I had to try it and luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.

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Although I have to say thinking back on it now, it did feel like it was missing something. I don’t add salt to things usually although I did add a tiny bit to this recipe. I maybe should have added more dill, or dill relish perhaps. As it sat overnight, it got better so perhaps it just needs a couple days to get really flavourful. Either way, it is definitely worth making and adjusting to your own specific tastes. I highly recommend adding alfalfa sprouts on top as the recipe suggests, because the texture is eerily similar to tuna salad…as I remember it anyway. Definitely a winner!

Next I tried to make a vegan stew for the first time. I don’t know what made me miss stew, but for some reason I just really had a craving and found this great recipe on Pinterest. It looked simple yet hearty and satisfying, exactly what I needed! It was easy to make and made the whole apartment smell so good while it was cooking. It was really tasty too, I wish I had made dumplings with it! So I googled a vegan dumpling recipe to try out for next time. Instead, I served it with yummy rosemary bread I picked up at the store. That definitely did the trick, it was like a match made in heaven.

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A couple weeks ago, as I was scrolling through Instagram, I noticed that Pure Kitchen was going to add vegan Big Macs to its menu for the week. As someone who used to work at McDonald’s as a teenager and ate many a Big Mac before becoming vegan, trying these bad boys became a personal mission. I texted my sister right away that we had to go, we had to try. We did. We went, we tried, we enjoyed immensely. Every time I eat at PK, I am not disappointed. Maybe something won’t be my favourite, but it will never be bad or disappointing. I love that there’s a really successful vegetarian restaurant in Ottawa that also serves so many vegan dishes. In fact, most of their menu items are actually vegan or can be made vegan so I think of it as a vegan restaurant. It’s really exciting that they had so much success in Westboro and were able to open a second location on Elgin.

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I really hope to try out more recipes soon. I recently bought Joel Furhman’s cookbook, Eat to Live. Eventually I noticed there is a very small section of vegetarian recipes at the back, but the rest of the book is full of awesome vegan recipes so it was worth buying. If you’ve seen any plant-based documentary on Netflix, you’ve probably seen Dr. Furhman at some point. When I flipped through the book at Chapters, so many of the recipes caught my eye, so I’m really looking forward to testing out a few of them.

Now let’s all hope the Canadian groundhogs are right and that spring will be here very soon!!

L.

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