Archive for ‘Environment’

June 17, 2011

Commingled Quinoa Concoction

Splendid Superfood Soup

There is a 50/50 chance when I mention the superfood Quinoa that I get a kind of blank stare but this didn’t stop me from throwing together another MEkitchen favourite for Puree Fantasia. I call it the Commingled Quinoa Concoction, call is quinoa soup if you like! It’s yum, very filling, and very healthy. We’re talking over 13 grams of protein and 6 grams of fibre per serving. This is a great main dish soup, that should be served warm with a nice crusty roll or a piece of ancient whole grain bread. For Puree Fantasia, it was of course, pureed but it doesn’t have to be.  The 4th entry in the 5 part series is sure to delight.


If you want to print it off, click on the MEkitchen tab and bring up the printable format.




June 16, 2011

MEkitchen Molten Muschetta

You Say Bruschetta I Say…

Its day 3 of the MEkitchen Puree Fantasia series and today’s is a personal favourite,  Bruschetta Soup or as I like to call it MEkitchen Molten Muschetta. Another super simple recipe that is very versatile. It’s delicious as an appetizer or a main course, serves well cool or warm, and can be pureed or left as is.  A great make ahead and freeze item, but when something is so easy, there is really no need. Whip up a batch the day before your next dinner party or BBQ and your will have a winner with all.

As is the case with all MEfurbish recipes you can go over to the MEkitchen tab and find all recipes available in a printable format.



June 15, 2011

MEkitchen Green Salad Smash

Slurp Your Greens

Day 2 of the Puree Fantasia recipe series and today we will do our salad course. This recipe is amazing simple and surprisingly delicious. Its great for using up leftover greens, and a fun way to get more greens into your child’s diet as well. As is the case with most soups, it is tastier on the second day once the flavours have had a chance to mingle. Make it a day ahead and your laughing ! I like to garnish it with a drizzle of vegan sour cream, I have found none better than the one here.

So without further ado, here is the recipe for the MEkitchen Green Salad Smash.

For a printable format of this recipe, please check out the MEkitchen tab.



June 13, 2011

Puree Fantasia

Damn You Universe!

There’s a pretty good chance that you are reading this post solely because you saw the headline and want to know what the heck puree fantasia is. Just because I am a pain in the butt I am going to make you wait for a bit on that one and spend some time  on some of the details leading up to the main event.

A dear friend of mine was recently in a pretty serious bicycle accident and lost some of her teeth in the process. EEEEEK! I know, your nose just involuntarily scrunched up and you are a little queasy.  Imagine her! In a recent Facebook post I vented that I have a bone to pick with the universe. This is just the latest in a long line of BS that my friend and her husband have had to go through. It’s starting to piss me off! Let me take this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery.

Here’s To Us

This past weekend we had planned to get together with another couple to enjoy a delicious vegan meal, have a few drinks and celebrate our friendship. The accident and her health brought into question whether or not we would be able to get together at all, with her own care being priority number one. If it was going to happen though we would need to think about what menu would work with her newly re-inserted teeth and doctor’s orders to stay away from solid foods.

The group of us all quickly bough-in to the idea that we would never sit around a table eating a meal that she could not partake in, so it would be puréed food for everyone! In a conversation with my friend I was letting her know that if she could make it, we still wanted to go ahead and celebrate and that the menu would be a “puree fantasia.” The word fantasia just popped into my head that moment so I said it, feeling silly, but the name stuck all weekend. I was pleased to see today when I looked up the definition that it actually rings true! According to fantasia is defined as the following:

fan·ta·sia [fan-tey-zhuh, -zhee-uh, fan-tuh-zee-uh]


  1. music
    1. composition in fanciful or irregular form or style.
    2. potpourri of well-known airs arranged with interludes and florid embellishments.
  2. fantasy
  3. something considered to be unreal, weird, exotic, or grotesque.

Mushy Goodness

That actually works! The menu was a composition of fanciful and irregular form. It was a potpourri of well-known items with interludes and florid embellishments. It was most certainly weird, unreal and possibly grotesque should the wrong person stumble into the room.  In reality, there was no better description for the 5 course meal I planned out. In the end it was very well received and by all accounts quite tasty for all involved.  The evening’s menu was as follows:

  1. Belgian Flag Hummus
  2. Green Salad Smash
  3. MEkitchen Molten Muschetta
  4. Commingled Quinoa  Concoction
  5. Pulverized Pumpkin Pudding

Starting tomorrow, for the next five days I will share the recipes above prepared with love in the MEkitchen. Each of them is vegan but liked by all. Not in the mood for pureed food? No worries. All of these recipes can be made without the final step of blending, though I would not recommend it for the hummus or the pudding. Come back tomorrow for recipe number one, then prepare, share, enjoy and let me know what you think!



June 6, 2011

Weekend For The Soul

What a great weekend!

Friday was a PD day for the school kids in Ottawa so that meant a day off and in essence, a long weekend spent with my daughter. Awesome! The owner of the home where I swim suggested my 12 year old was welcome to join me at the house swimming and even cooler, invited us to come out later in the weekend to show her the horses as well. I gladly took her up on both of these offers.

Play Like A Kid

After some much needed rest and a lazy morning sleeping in, we headed out to the pool and hit the water. I had explained to my daughter that I needed to do my laps first and then we could frolic about after that. While it was a slight distraction to have someone in the pool while I was doing my laps it paled in comparison to the fun that we had when I had finished the “exercise” portion of the swim. Once I was done we grabbed a foam football and started to toss it back and forth to each other making dramatic dives for the catch. We invented our own little game had a best 2 out of 3 series. What a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. We laughed hard and made fools of ourselves for about an hour, but it felt like only minutes has passed. The focus was not on the exercise but we were getting some nonetheless. It was a great start to the weekend.

Just Say I Do

Friday evening I had the pleasure of witnessing some dear friends of mine “tie the knot.” It was a great wedding and the entire evening was filled with more laughter, moments of intimacy, and a real sense of what is important in life. Family, friends and time spent connecting and celebrating with those that are important to us. While the numbers fell as the evening progressed there were several of us who kept the party going. We were further rewarded when we were able to be a part of some even more special moments during the after party at a local pub, and the late-late night or early-early morning breakfast at a local diner. Highlights included the father of the bride showing up at the pub unannounced to fanfare, and who will ever forget the spontaneous applause in the jam packed diner when the bride arrived in her stunning dress. Unforgettable!


Sunday brought moments of joy that any parent can relate too. As my daughter and I drove out to the ranch to meet the horses and the awesome family who lives there, I could sense her anxiety. Understandably, meeting new people at the best of times is can be awkward and stressful. Throw in the circumstances by which our two families have met (my swimming pool ad), and finally the apprehension about perhaps sitting on or riding a horse for the first time and you have a potpourri of emotions tugging in all directions.

Our hostess did a fantastic job of easing my daughter into the process. She started with introducing the horse, explaining a little bit of his history, then moved into the grooming of “Spider”. Together they cleaned the coat, the hooves, and saddled the horse with a focus on safety, both for the horse and the rider. Next, sitting on the horse, feeling Spider’s movements and tendencies, being lead on the horse with myself and another on either side of the horse, and then finally actually riding, steering, starting stopping and instructing the horse on her own. I was completely amazed in the transition. What I witnessed was a microcosm of how gaining confidence works. Her demeanour from beginning to end was truly night and day to see as an outsider. By the time she was done, she was beaming, sitting tall with confidence and looking each of us in the eye just a little bit more.

Leave it to a twelve year old to reiterate to me what continues to need being reiterated. When we come upon a challenge in life we have two choices, the safe easy way or the challenging, sometimes stressful path that is inevitably more rewarding. She reminded me that I have been doing that myself! When I say to her “you must be so proud of yourself for putting yourself out there,” it reminds me that I too should be proud. I am proud. I can only hope that along the way I will try to continue to take the next step in putting myself out there. With that, there will continue to be substantial rewards and endless learning.

Last night our weekend wound down surrounded by family and extended family enjoying a meal together. A fitting end to a weekend for the soul. A glass of wine, a cold beer, some great conversation and the sound of kids giggling in the background.

It really doesn’t get much better as far as weekends go. I need to remember that it didn’t take a flight, a reservation, or a new gadget to bring the contented feeling that this weekend brought. There is no reason why I can’t do it again next weekend.

Actually, there is no reason that I can’t find a way to do it today, right now.



May 18, 2011

MEbucket Is Full

20/20 As They Say

It’s funny how the passage of time or some new insight can totally shift your perception on something. I was spending some time this morning reflecting on MEbucket’s and looking too see where I need to take some action. I began by going through my list of bucket items to see where I have not taken any action recently and an interesting fact came to light.

When I placed my ad on Kijiji at the beginning of the month, there was no doubt in my mind what bucket I was trying to take action in – Health. It is really interesting to me that now in hindsight; I can see how this action is having an impact in the area of every one of my MEbucket’s. Here’s my breakdown.


This one is pretty obvious and was my original intention. The most basic goal here is to get some activity. In my struggles with my weight, most recently I have found it hard to find exercise that I can actually do. Finding access to a pool that I can use will be easier on my joints and as a result, I will be able to sustain it. It’s also something that I love and miss doing. To be excited about exercise is something that I know will only benefit me in the long run.


Money talks, and since I don’t have any, there hasn’t been a lot of talking going on lately in this area. With my current financial situation, it was imperative that I look for a means of exercise that was cost effective. What could be more cost effective than free! My willingness to do some manual labour in return for access to a pool is my means of “payment.” The other less tangible thought I have is that my overall health and level of fitness are both likely to have a positive impact on my ability to generate income in the future. So this saves me money now, and makes me money in the future. I like that!


I have received many many emails, comments, well wishes, and shows of support since my CBC Interview was broadcast on May 17th. Without a doubt the word used most to describe the steps I took to prioritize my exercise by placing an ad to do manual labour in exchange for pool access was “creative.” I would never have really looked at it that way unless others told me it was the case, but now I can see it clear as day. I guess desperation is a real springboard towards creativity.


The impact to the environment is a little more subtle than some of the other more apparent buckets nut it is there, in the nuances.  There are many times that I end up using my car in a situation where I would certainly be able to use a bike or my legs if I was in better shape. Running errands locally, doing fun things with my daughter and a variety of other things that I typically use my car for could be done without the vehicle.  Wear and tear on my clothes, the amount of packaging I end up using, and even the frequency of my trips to the doctor are all impacted by my size.


This one is a no-brainer. The community has just opened up in front of my eyes as a result of this situation. I am getting so much support from the community it is mind blowing. Even more, I am going to be meeting some members of the community as I get out there and start to use their pool. The interview on CBC was a direct and extreme form of conversation with the community and the connections I have made are priceless.


This may be the most exciting bucket that is going to be filled by my reaching out. The idea of swimming frequently has been something that I have carried around with me for some time. When I was younger I was a fish! We had a pool in our backyard when I was in elementary school and I missed it ever since.  I am so pumped about getting an opportunity to get into the water and get my heart pumping.


I will be forging new relationships and making the ones I have stronger. I have already met several new folks and plan to me meeting more over the next few days and beyond. Exercising, getting in better shape, and spending time discussing this project with friends and family are already having an impact.

I know I have made a great decision for my overall happiness when I can look back and see that every bucket I have is filling up. Something tells me that I may even start to overflow in a bucket or two and really, can I ask for anything more than that?

Isn’t life grand?



April 29, 2011

Voting With Head Or Heart

What To Do?

I have never been a big fan of politics; it’s just too…political for my liking. It is however a necessary evil, and if I want my country to be run in a way that matches my values, I need to do everything I can to help put the right person, or party really, at the helm. This is where things get muddy though for me.

It’s no secret that I support the Green Party. Once you are done giggling we can get back to the point. I have no interest in debating which party should run our country with you; I just told you I don’t like politics. The real question I am trying to answer prior to voting is do I vote for the party I support or do I vote with a strategy that will impact who what party will actually be in power. This is a real dilemma for me.

What I really want is both. I want to be able to walk into the voting booth and put an X beside who I want to win, and another X beside who I am voting for.  Let’s face it, putting an X beside my Green Party candidate is a waste of my time. I know I can support my party in many other ways when not at times of election, donation, canvassing, and even sharing ideals and values like I do through MEfurbish. Now that it is actually time to vote, I can’t think of a good reason to vote for my party. I am sure some political genius could explain to me the pros and cons of each, but I am not sure that is really what I am looking for in the end.

If you had this same dilemma and have come to some sort of resolution, I would love to hear from you!



April 28, 2011

How Hard Can It Really Be?

How hard can it really be? Yes I’m talking to you. I want to know how hard it can really be to just open your eyes and look at what is in front of you. . I spent one hour today sitting in a local Bridgehead coffee shop and witnessed a microcosm of what I expect is a global outbreak. I am absolutely astonished at the number of recyclable items that are thrown into the trash in one hour.

Bridgehead should be one of the better scenarios out there. It is a company that puts a great deal of effort into environmental and social responsibility and is a business that has taken care to have recycling and composting options available in addition to traditional waste. Every village, town and city has a cross section of options, some cities are worse than others, but in this case we are talking about a business that is taking extra care to provide solutions.


I sat and sipped on my Organic Fair Trade Ethiopian blend coffee, out of my mug and watched as customer after customer, with a few exceptions, scraped the entire contents of their lunch waste into the garbage bin. Six inches away from the garbage can is a big hole labeled “compost”, and six inches to the right of that was another opening labeled “glass and plastic.”

What is the problem here? The problem is consumer apathy; there is just no other excuse. It’s bad enough that when someone has had their food and beverage “for here” they still choose to get it in a paper cup or bag, but then to just pitch it all in the garbage can is a complete disrespect for the planet and its inhabitants.

According to “nearly 60 to 70 percent of waste found in dust bins can be recycled and reused and close to 50 percent of the same waste can be composted.” The same site reports that “almost every hour, nearly 250,000 plastic bottles are dumped. It is not surprising that plastic bottles constitute close to 50 percent of recyclable waste in the dumps.” These statistics are alarming, but not surprising based on what I saw in person.

We need to wake up, give our heads a shake, and make an effort. Those of us who are already doing our part have to try and have an impact on a few people that don’t seem to care. Those of us who are blindly contributing to the problem need to snap out of our lethargy.

What are you going to about it?



Article first published as How Hard Can It Really Be? on Technorati.

April 26, 2011

Right Back At It

Four Day Week!

It was a busy Easter weekend, and while it was great, and it was nice to spend some extra time with family and friends, I am glad that it’s over. In my journey of MEfurbishment, one of the most important things I have going for me are my routines. Much has been said and written about the routines of children over the years. I have come to believe that routines are equally important to adults too but certainly they are to me.

My level of awareness, regarding what contributes to stress and what alleviates it in me, has grown considerably over the past year. While I absolutely love holidays and special events, they also add more stress in my life because of their impact on my routines. Routine becomes a stress reducer in many ways because of its familiarity but also because it ensures that I am getting what I need to be happy and healthy. As long as my routine is set up with my MEbucket’s in mind, there is a dramatically positive impact on my happiness and well-being.

Our routines ensure that we have a balance of all of the buckets that we want to work on in our lives. Changes to these routines can sometimes swing a pendulum too far in the direction of one particular area. For example, I can very easily put all of my focus on family and friends and take time away from things like health, finances and creative endeavours. Coming out of a holiday weekend I can often feel like I have spent too much money and really need time to myself. In recent months I am also discovering that when I don’t prioritize my creative endeavours I really notice a difference in my energy and contentedness.

Going into this long weekend, I took a look at each of my buckets and decided how I would ensure I maintained the balance that I need in my life. Let’s have a look at how I did:


Going into Easter weekend I wanted to focus on two major things to ensure that I was prioritizing my health bucket.  I wanted to make certain that I kept up my meditation practice during the weekend. This is something that I can easily let slip on a long weekend and I really notice the difference in my level of grounded-ness when I meditate. The other key ingredient was healthful food choices. I managed to make both of these happen despite a visit from the Easter Bunny.


My tendency is to spend too much money at holiday times and I wanted to make sure this was not the case this Easter. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the holiday event itself where I regret my spending but in the other things I write off in holiday weekend cash dumps. Going out for meals, additional un-needed shopping sprees, and a desire to fill up my long weekend with additional events like, movies, concerts, museums and the like are all things that have derailed me in the past. This Easter weekend I was able to keep my spending in check which is a great feeling coming into the start of the week.


Normally the first thing to go during a busy holiday weekend, creativity was something that I was really focused on making sure it still had its place. A couple of things helped me out in that area. I wanted to make a new and exciting Vegan Easter feast, this being my first Vegan Easter. Cooking is always a creative experience for me because I rarely use a recipe as it is written. I will often use a recipe as a base and experiment with it until it is perfect for the MEkitchen.  I ended up with a delicious Carrot Coconut Bisque and a hearty Mushroom Quinoa Loaf. Next was time spent writing and taking pictures of my gastronomic fun to share on MEfurbish. The photography aspect of the recipe posts really got my creative juices flowing. I have missed photography and while I would not call the quick point and shoot stuff I did this weekend very creative, it really got me thinking about what I could do with recipes and photography in the future. I am really looking forward to working on this more in the months ahead.


There were a few ways that I made the environment a focus this weekend. With all its busyness it would have been easy to just pick up something like Tofurky instead of spending the time preparing my own meal, especially with the fact that I am the only vegan in my home. Taking the time to pick up bulk, and mostly local ingredients, saved on packaging and travel and making a large batch of food will save on energy costs in the upcoming few weeks as I enjoy leftovers. Another way in which I expanded on the environment bucket was to attend a local EcoExpo here in my home town of Ottawa. Any time I can educate myself and make new contacts I am making progress here.


Community is something that was fostered by the EcoExpo I was at as well. The ‘Green”  community as well the Vegan community both had a presence at the Expo and networking with these individuals and gaining awareness about the industry as a whole is helpful.  I also made a decision to attend a function of another community organization I belong too instead of one of the family events that I have taken part in every year since my childhood. The event I let go of  does not feed me in the same way as the function I chose. It was a hard decision to make, but one that I am glad I made in the end for my own peace of mind.


This was an easy one for me to work on. Spending time with family and friends, buying treats and gifts for my daughter, cooking, listening to tons of music, and spending lots of time writing are all things that I find fun. I was able to easily work these and more into the four days of the weekend.


Like fun, relationships are easy one for me to focus on within a holiday weekend. Spending time with family and friends works on these relationships by default. In looking for opportunities to take special action in working on key relationships I made a concerted effort to spend time with some of them that have taken a back seat lately. One area that may seem trivial but that was important to me was taking the time to send a few emails that I haven’t made the time to do recently. Out of all of the steps I took this weekend, this simple one, may have had the greatest impact on my mood, and serenity. Clearly, it was something that was taking up too much space in my head.

Even with all the work on keeping things balanced, things just seem to go smoother when the day to day routines kick back in. Spontaneity and routine used to seem like polar opposites to me, but what I have found is that my routines allow me to be spontaneous without feeling like I am taking away from something else. This is a big shift and an enjoyable one.



April 24, 2011

Carrot and Coconut Bisque

Vegan Easter Feast

In preparation for my first Vegan Easter I spent some time today preparing for the festivities tomorrow. As a Vegan living in a house full of omnivores it’s great when I can prepare food that the whole gang will eat. My family has been great at making a few simple changes to allow me to partake in much of the fare. Using Earth Balance and egg-replacer and almond milk are a few of the simple tweaks that family members have done to help out with the Easter dinner menu.  I offered to make a delicious Carrot and Coconut Bisque for an appetizer that I know everyone will love. The recipe I have posted here was inspired by a recipe I found on one of the many awesome Vegan food sites out there. I really loved his idea of using baby carrots for two reasons. First, they are already peeled and small enough not to have to chop. Second you buy them by weight so it’s really easy to buy the right amount! I changed it up a bit for my own tastes, and the recipe you see below is my updated version.

Carrot and Coconut Bisque Recipe


3 pounds baby carrots

1 ½ large onions chopped

4 garlic cloves minced

½ teaspoon of fresh ginger minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon of white pepper [I]

4 cups (1 quart) low sodium vegetable broth

1 14oz can coconut milk

Juice of 2 blood oranges [II]

2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

1 bunch of chives or green onions (optional)

Method: (see photos below)

  1. Heat oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for approximately 10 minutes until golden and caramelized.
  2. Add the carrots and cook until slightly brown, then add in the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes stirring frequently.
  3. Add the curry, cumin, salt, pepper and cinnamon, stir.
  4. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until carrots pierce easily with a fork.
  5. Add coconut milk, blood orange juice and maple syrup and stir to combine. Let cool slightly and use an immersion blender to puree or transfer to a standing blender in small batches to blend. [IV]
  6. Sprinkle with chives or green onions before serving.
  7. This recipe is best done a day ahead of time for full flavour effect, and what could be better than checking one thing off the to do list before the big day!


I.  Black pepper is fine as well, it will just be visible in the brightly coloured bisque

II.  Blood oranges are perfect because of their intense flavour and color, if they are not available, you can use any type of orange.

III.  A few ingredients are not show in the photos as I was tweaked as I went along. The written recipe should be followed vs. the photos.

IV.  Never fill a blender to top with hot liquid and blend, the steam can cause explosions.

  • Ingredients all ready to go!

  • Olive oil in the pan is ready to go when a few sprinkles of water from your fingers sizzle and pop.

  • Onions caramelized and ready for next step.

  • Add carrots and cook until they start to lightly brown

  • Add broth, boil and simmer, covered.

  • Just after coconut milk, orange juice and maple syrup are added.

  • All blended up!

  • The Final Product.