BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Herbivore Dinosaurs

For a blog that began life as a showcase for all things crafty, there sure has been a dearth of new handmade projects or ideas gracing these pages. Not for any lack of ideas or desire, time and patience are simply at a premium these days, leaving little room to squeeze in just one more extra endeavor. It takes a whole lot of effort to get yarn on my needles and hooks these days- Happily, my good friend Glauce provided all the inspiration necessary. Expecting her first child, her request for a mobile made with five soft, stuffed, amigurumi dinosaurs was impossible to turn down.

Mind you, this was way back in the late summer of 2011. It only took me a whole year to complete the whole thing, proving yet again that perhaps I’m not cut out to accept crochet commissions. Ever accommodating and understanding, Glauce still graciously accepted the finished piece to share with her now nearly one year old son.

All photos courtesy of Glauce.

Maybe I’m just over-analyzing this, but I think he likes it?

As luck would have it, Glauce is also hosting a big cookbook giveaway to celebrate the relaunch of her lovely website, and a copy of Vegan a la Mode is included! Be sure to enter and browse through this inspiring resource while you’re over there.


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Raising the Sushi Bar

Coordinating shared meals can be tough enough with just one or two family members, but when everyone’s home at the dinner hour at once, it can be nearly impossible. Greatly disparate tastes define us, ranging from the fairly healthy vegan (hi there!) to the vegetable-hating omnivore, making it challenging to get a universally agreeable meal on the table, to say the least. In a pinch there is at least one safe haven where we can all find something good to eat, however: The sushi bar.

Topping this list of “must order” items is edamame. Those young soy beans are one of the only green edibles that said vegetable-hater will actually consume, and even willingly most times! Trust me, that’s a big deal in our household. Thus, a big bowl of edamame always graces our table, to be shared communally.

Vegetable gyoza are another staple found on most menus, and what’s not to like about chewy wonton skin stretched around a savory filling? Steamed or fried, plump parcels or dainty half-moons, even bad gyoza are pretty darn good.

And of course, the main event, the sushi. There’s so much more than just the standard cucumber and avocado, but there’s nothing wrong with those reassuring staples either. Nigiri is usually off the menu for me, but hey, when it’s made of this much fiber, it’s got to be vegan!

Tiny sushi bar pattern by Anna Hrachovec


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Talking Turkey

One week and one day are all that separates us from the big Thanksgiving feast, even though I feel a sense of déjà vu as soon as the traditional sides and sauces start pouring out of the kitchen. Cooking a separate feast for editorial photography assignments as far back as September or October, I’ve typically had my fill (and then some) of all the trimmings by the time November finally rolls around. Though cooking the yearly Thanksgiving meal a month or two ahead of the scheduled date takes some getting used to, it works out in my favor; The official family celebration can become rather hectic even without me jockeying for space in the overcrowded kitchen, so it’s nice not to feel pressured to make “go all out” and cook up something grand.

The center piece is always the biggest concern, whether trying to make a turkey replica or go a new route, but come the last Thursday in November, you can generally find me sitting down to a family feast with ye olde traditional veggie burger on my plate. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything on that specific date, having already gorged on gravy and potatoes well in advance. However, it is nice to put in a bit of additional effort and make something perhaps more seasonally appropriate. Still keeping it simple, stuffed veggies rather than a stuffed roast are the ideal main dish for a laid-back feast.

Delicata, my favorite little squash, is ideal for stuffing and roasting. Bearing thin, edible skin, there’s no need to peel; just hollow out, fill, and bake. Sizes of this gourd vary wildly, so for this particular recipe, opt for smaller, more manageable ones. To make it even easier, go ahead and cut them lengthwise like little edible boats. The seeds will be less of a hassle to reach and scrape out, and they tend to bake a bit faster, too. Serve up one of these beauties with some roasted onions, perhaps, and a generous pour of mushroom creme gravy, and you will certainly have something else to be thankful for this year.

“Ricotta”-Stuffed Delicata

1 – 2 Small Delicata Squash (Depending on the size of the squashes and how full you stuff them)

10 Ounces Super-Firm or Pressed Tofu*
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1/2 Cup Diced Cremini or Button Mushrooms
1/2 Cup Frozen Spinach, Thawed and Thoroughly Drained
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley (Leaves Only), Chopped

1/4 Cup Pine Nuts or Chopped Cashews, Divided

*You can start with 1 pound of extra firm tofu and press for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once the extra water has been drained off, it should be around the same weight (but it’s not critical if it’s slightly over or under.)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking dish with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Set aside.

Slice your squash in half either lengthwise or width-wise, and use a thin metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and guts. Cut a small sliver off the bottoms of each half so that they can sit in the pan without falling or sliding. Arrange in your baking dish so that there’s plenty of space between them.

In your food processor, place the tofu, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and onion powder. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is mostly smooth and creamy, but still with a bit of texture. No need to go crazy here. Fold in the chopped mushrooms, spinach, parsley, and about 3 tablespoons of the pine nuts or cashews until well combined.

Spoon the “ricotta” mixture into your delicata as desired, and top with the remaining nuts. Lightly spritz or brush the exteriors of the squash all over with olive oil, and pop them into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the squash are fork-tender.

Makes 2 – 4 Servings

Printable Recipe


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Indian Summer

Just as suddenly as the cold and darkness descended, a brief respite from the encroaching fall brings us glorious blue skies and gentle 80-degree breezes, as if summer never left us in the first place. Toying with my heart, it’s hard not to get attached to this anomaly of the season. While Canadian friends across the border celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m marveling at children still playing on the beaches, joggers baring all in skimpy outfits, and general summer behavior continuing as if the calendar pages haven’t already advanced beyond July. Even the wildlife are clearly mixed up and confused by this inexplicable shift.


Glass platter provided by Steelite

Lounging about on a placid pond without a care in the world, this little fellow can’t even dream of a time without warm sunshine. So comfortable on that buoyant lily pad, I swear I could see him flattening out, relaxing to the point of loosening every muscle in his tiny green body and becoming a genuine pancake of a frog. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that next week is just as liable to bring a blizzard as it is more of this Indian summer. What’s the harm in pretending it’s still vacation, for just a little while longer, at least?

[Flapjack Frog pattern by Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochi Land]

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