Monday, March 30, 2009

Miscellaneous Dinners

I have to confess that I haven't been planning my meals very much lately.  I've just been grabbing whatever is easy and sounds good at the moment.  Like this meal:

This salad is composed of leftover coleslaw, leftover Soycurlz "chicken" salad, and lettuce.  The plate has WW crackers, Cheezely sharp cheddar, dried cherries, and dilly beans.  Yum!

Friday night I was making some roasted veggies but wanted something a little different.  So I gave them an Indian twist.  I coated the cauliflower, carrots, and onions in cumin, coriander, fresh ginger, mustard seeds and olive oil.  The tofu was baked plain and then tossed with a mixture of curry paste, flax oil, leftover salsa and peach chutney.  It all turned out surprisingly good.  I also had a bit of peach chutney and super spicy raita on the side.  
And lastly, here's Trouble's latest hide-out.  Whatever keeps her clean, right?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garden Planning Time!

It's a little sad to look out the window in late March and see snow.  I haven't exactly loved the rainy weather this week, but at least it wasn't snow!  What better thing to do on a dreary cold day than plan the garden?

Every year I sit down with my seed packets, my garden plot maps from past years and some graph paper to plan the garden.  This year I managed to put off my spring fever until now- The deadline for getting seeds started in the basement.  Most of the little plants need about 6 weeks to establish themselves before transplanting (I rarely transplant before mid-May in this climate).

So what's on the list this year?  I'm simplifying a bit- I've slowly narrowed down the plants to what we really use a lot of, what we can't buy cheaply from local organic farmers and/or what grows well in our yard.  

Seeds already purchased:
  • Seeds of Change (SOC) Green Glaze Collards
  • Seed Savers' Exchange (SSE) Lacinato Kale
  • SSE Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch Kale
  • SSE St. Valery Carrots
  • High Mowing Seeds (HMS) De Cicco Broccoli
  • SSE Early Snowball Cauliflower
  • SSE Double Yield Cucumbers
  • SSE Thai Hot Peppers
  • SSE Quadrato Asti Gaiallo Bell Peppers
  • SOC Genovese Sweet Basil
  • HMS Early Jalapeno

Seeds/plants I still need to buy:
  • Green beans
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Snap peas
  • Lettuce leaf basil
  • Cilantro
I'll probably also plant some potatoes and we have perrenial herbs, raspberries, blackberries, and mulberries we can count on.  And garlic.  And apples.

So the peppers, chiles, cauliflower, broccoli, and basil have been planted in my sweet basement set-up.  Now I just wait patiently for the sun.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vancouver, BC and Seattle!

There's really no excuse for not posting my vacation pics until now... except that I'm still enjoying relaxing and catching up on things back at home!

I don't think I've ever taken a vacation this long- I took a 8 1/2 day trip and now have 3 days to return to work mode.  This is luxurious.  I'm feeling very thankful today.

Here's a few pictures from my trip.  Mostly food, but a few family and friend pictures are included.

Like this one...The reason for this whole trip!  My niece Hannah!  She's pretty much the cutest baby in the world (don't you dare argue with me).
This is a little dessert I picked up at Central Market in Dallas.  My stepmom and I spent 1? 2? 3? hours wandering around and picking up food for a dinner party.  This is an amazing raw mini pie filled with chocolate mint coconut oil.  Yep, that's right.  It was RICH!  It's made by Hail Merry in Dallas.
Not too many more pictures of food from Dallas/Garland.  I must have forgotten to take pictures, except when I was with my niece!

On to Canada.  This is my friend Sarah who lives in Vancouver, BC modeling the ketchup flavored chips sold there.  They're MSG-laden and bright red.  But I do admit they are really good!  And Sarah looks so darn cute in this picture, even if she doesn't like the chips too much.
This is Sarah and I taking a little boat ride.  Fun!
Now the food:
As soon as I got off the plane, we stopped at a little falafel place to get wraps and baklava.  I can't remember the name of it, though!  (Sarah, maybe you can leave a comment with the name?)  It was seriously good- how can you beat falafel with avocado?

That night we headed out to Rahya, a combo yoga studio and organic/local foods restaurant.  This is exactly how I'd want my dream restaurant to be: really high quality housemade foods, relaxing atmosphere...except with a bit faster service.
We started with the raw nori rolls filled with sunflower-hempseed pate.  
Next was my favorite: the Handmade gnocchi wih local mushrroms and pea shoots.  Wonderfully tender and seasoned perfectly!
We really could have been full off of the appetizers, but we ordered entrees, too!
This is the organic Mediterranean fusilli with kalamata olives, capers, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and greens.  Very tasty, but also a bit too much like something I'd make at home.
This is the black peppercorn crusted tempeh fillet with grainy mustard-sunflower cream potato salad, red wine jus, and beets with greens.  Super good!  Every item on this plate was a winner.  The tempeh was spicy and crunchy, the potatoes were creamy and rich, and the beets were refreshing and earthy.

I was so full at this point that I really could have skipped dessert...but we had already ordered before we filled up!  We had the lemon bar and the warm fruit crumble with housemade organic BC blueberry sorbet.  I don't think I've EVER left half of my dessert uneaten before, but I had to!
The next morninng we checked out the Lululemon outlet (!) and then went to a power yoga class at Yaletown yoga.  Seriously good way to work up an appetite!

We had lunch at Bo Kong, an all vegan Asian restaurant.  This is the Ginger Fried Rice with asparagus.  Not super impressive, but it went well with the...
Fried yuba rolls in black bean sauce!  Yum!

[I don't know why this is underlined, and it's making me really mad]
That night we took the bus to Seattle.  We arrived pretty late and were relieved to find that Cyber Dogs was close to the hotel, open until midnight and has rockin' vegan hot dogs!

I had the Brave German Dog with sauerkraut and onions.  Yum!

The next day was jam packed with everything we could possibly do in Seattle!  Of course, it all started with some donuts.
We had chocolate peanut butter, French toast, double chocolate, strawberry jam filled, Don King (chocolate and coconut)and bunny tracks (raspberry and coconut).  All were delicious.  But I felt a little sick after eating more donuts in 30 minutes than I had in the last 6 years.

So we waited a little while and had a late lunch at Hillside Quickie. We couldn't resist starting with a piece of this pizza from the display case.  It had heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, and a super creamy cheeze sauce!  

 This was Sarah's burger!  I can't remember the name, but it had avocado, cheeze sauce, tempeh, tofu, veggies, and I'm sure more.

This was my seitan wrap with coleslaw inside.  It was exactly what I needed at that moment!  Crunchy and fresh veggies with greasy seitan- Yum

Later on that evening we stopped at Pizza Pi for the calzone sampler.  Each one was filled with a different pizza topping and there was a creamy garlic dipping sauce that was pretty much like mayonaise (fine by me!).  Of course we also stopped by Sidecar for Pigs' Peace to pick up some soy curlz, a new Queen Bee wallet for me, some chocolates, Cheesely and Sheese!

After this super long day, we headed over to Teapot Vegetarian House for a late dinner.  I'd been dreaming about all their amazing dishes since I saw the extensive menu online.  But after this long (and filling) day, I really wanted some soup!

Sarah had the corn chowder, which is really more like "egg" drop soup than a western corn chowder.  It was amazingly good!
I had the hot and sour soup.  I wasn't wild about the flavor of the soup at first, but it grew on me.  I probably wouldn't order it again, but I did like that it had daylily buds in it.  I'm a bit of a daylily fan.
The real star of this meal was the Rose Drummettes: housemade tofu and gluten "chicken" wrapped around sugar cane and fried.  Served with rose dipping sauce.  Sarah promised that however high my hopes were for these- The drummettes would surpass them.  She was right.

I think this is the longest post I've ever done- or at least the most pictures!  Hope you enjoyed my food travels.  I know I did!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Heading to Seattle!

I've had an awesome time in Vancouver and Sarah and I are on the bus now headed to Seattle.

Today's my birthday and we celebrated last night with dinner at Radha (local, organic, amazing food at a yoga studio!) and today we went to the lululemon outlet and then went to a power yoga class and then ate super good fried yuba rolls. Not much I'd rather do on my birthday!

I have some pictures of the amazing food we've eaten (of course!), but that'll have to wait until I'm in front of a computer.

On the agenda for tomorrow:
Teapot vegetarian house
Sidecar for pigs peace
Hillside quickie
Pike's place market
Value village thrift
Madison market co-op
Pizza pi
Mighty O donuts!

Yep. You'll notice that we have several meals planned for tomorrow...

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Saturday, March 14, 2009


New shoes from my mom! OKAb shoes!
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In about 2 hours I'll be boarding a plane for Dallas, off to visit my dear family (including my new little niece!).  It's always hard to leave my family here, though, especially when it's for 9 days!

This trip is not just any trip home, though.  I'll be spending time with my family until the 19th.  Usually after a good 5-6 day trip, I head back to MN.  But this time I'm treating myself to a second trip just for fun- because it's my birthday on the 20th!

On the 19th I'll fly to Vancouver, BC to visit my friend Sarah.  After enjoying her favorite spots, restaurants, and playing with her cat Theo, we'll head down to Seattle for a day and a half of vegan restaurant tourism.  Sarah knows all the best spots and we're planning on eating 4 times a day so that we can fit them all in.  I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday!

So I won't be posting full entries for a little while, but I will send in some random thoughts and pictures when I get a chance.  You know, like vegan donuts.  And a certain cute little baby.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Weekend in Food

I kept meaning to post some of this yesterday, but here we are at the end of the weekend and I have a ton of pictures to share.

Yesterday I chilled out all day, knitting, reading, and snuggling with the dog and cats.  I left the house to give Mike and the kids a ride and grocery shop and that was it!

Lunch was awesome- the last of the leftover black beans and broth, pureed into a simple black bean soup.  The really exciting part was the toppings, though.  Avocado, green onions, cilantro, and crushed chips!

Today I was really excited to try making Karina's gluten free foccacia bread.  Her pictures look amazing and I haven't made Mike any bread in a while.  I made a few substitutions because I don't keep sorghum flour on hand, but other than that I stuck to the recipe.  Here's the dough going in the oven to rise.
I'd show you a finished product, too, except that the dog ate the whole damn thing before I could take a picture or taste it.  She is an evil beast sometimes.  Now she has a stomach ache and it serves her right.  How could she even reach this bread?  I had it WAY far back on the counter.  I think the cats helped her.

My lunch was a simple, but tasty butterbean soup with crackers.  I love butterbeans like you wouldn't believe.  Here they are cooked up with about 8 cloves of garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and lots of rosemary, thyme, and lemon.  It would have gone great with foccacia...

For dinner Mike and I went to Cat Man Do, a ew-ish Nepalese/Tibetan restaurant on Grand Ave.  I feel a bit like a traitor going there because we usually go to Everest, another Nepalese/Tibetan restaurant on Grand Ave.  I now know that I prefer Everest, but I had to try the new place!

We started with Pyaji, jalapeno and onion strips battered with chickpea flour and deep fried.  There is no way I could not love this dish.  Served with mango chutney and another sour/sweet red sauce.  Yes, we were playing Boggle in the restaurant.

Next I had a simple vegetable soup, which sounded pretty average on the menu and was really delicious.  It had asparagus, mushrooms, onions, other little veggies and herbs...and something.  I couldn't place any of the spices because no one really stood out.  But this was very flavorful!

Last, but not least were the momos, steamed dumplings filled with spinach, onions, and I think cabbage.  The momos were not as good as at Everest (these were a bit dry and not as tender), but were still tasty because dumplings totally rock.  I was just reading about the history and making of dumplings across Asia this morning, so I HAD to order these!
All in all, this weekend contained some pretty delicious food.  Maybe I'll get a chance to re-make the foccacia bread soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mmmm. Coconut Milk!

I'm back in business.
I know I'm on the mend when I have the energy to practice yoga, make a huge batch of pho, and bake cookies.  Ah, normalcy.

The pho was rockin'!  Lemongrass, onion, garlic, mushrooms and jalapenos simmered with some Edward & Sons "Not-Beef" bouillon.  Thai Kitchen wide rice noodles, cilantro, mung bean sprouts, mint, green onions, and lime juice.  Yum!
After eating a ridiculous amount of soup, I needed a sweet treat.  The past week I've been nibbling on peanut butter with chocolate chips sprinkled on top.  Tonight I felt up to some baking, so I whipped up some of the gluten free chocolate chip cookies from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan.  I enjoyed them with a little glass of So Delicious Coconut Milk.

I sampled some of this milk about a month ago and fell in love.  Alas, I had to wait until the Co-op could actually order the product before I could take some home.  But now it's here and it's on sale!

Now, don't get scared that this is like drinking coconut millk from a can.  This is a whole different story.  This milk isn't thick and doesn't have something like 56 grams of fat per cup.  It has 5 grams.  And it doesn't taste strongly coconut-y either.  It's very mild, but still rich and delicious.  
Dipping cookies in it is heavenly!

The kitten likes it, too.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Noooooooo!!! Sick again!

Just when I was feeling great, the common cold strikes.  Everyone at work has had this and it only makes sense that Mike and I would get it after spending nearly 2 weeks fighting off the stomach flu.  

This time, though, I'm prepared.  It's like my body knew that I would not be up to cooking this week- Because yesterday I was a cooking machine.  I got bread, applesauce, brown rice, black beans, rasam soup, and lasagna made.  

If anything is going to knock off this cold, it's a piping hot rasam with all of these spices.

And WOW, was I happy to pop this lasagna in the oven for dinner tonight.  It was actually really easy to assemble yesterday.

Seriously Good Lasagna!

The Kale
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
2 bunches of kale, stems removed and chopped
Bragg's or tamari to taste

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add the olive oil and onions and saute until transparent and lightly browned.  Add the chopped kale and garlic and put a lid on it.  Kale is done when it is bright green and tender.  Splash a little Bragg's or tamari on it until slightly salted.

The Ricotta
1 batch of Cashew Ricotta or Pine Nut Ricotta from Veganomicon

The Sauce
1 quart of homemade or store bought tomato sauce

The Noodles
1 box of Tinkyada gluten free lasagna noodles, uncooked

The Topping
1/2 (or more...) a block of Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella cheeze, shredded

In the bottom of a glass baking dish, pour 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/2 cup of water.  Layer dry lasagna noodles, ricotta, kale, and sauce until all ingredients are used, ending with tomato sauce on top.  Top with shredded cheeze.  You can put this in the fridge at this point and cook it tomorrow or put it in the oven now.  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes with foil or parchment loosely covering the top.

Now I can look forward to this in my lunch tomorrow, along with leftover green salad with carrots and cucumber.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Organic Weekend

For the last few days I've been at The Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, WI.  This is my second year attending and I'm just as impressed as last year.  

I'm also pleasantly surprised to reflect on my past frustrations about the absence of food in the political debates and find that things are a bit different this year.  Sure- there's no garden on the White House lawn yet.  But there are some new folks in charge and they care about high quality, sustainable food.  

This little spark of hope helps me not get too worked up about the sad state of our food system.  Perhaps next year at this time we won't be in the middle of the biggest food recall in America's history or watching commercials about how good high fructose corn syrup is.  

Okay- back to the conference.

The keynote speakers this year were AMAZING!  I'm a huge fan of Dr. Vandana Shiva.  She is ridiculously intelligent, totally radical, and can get her point across like nobody's business.  She's my hero!

Here's a little clip from her talk.  The quality is not great, but I couldn't resist capturing a bit of this lecture comparing pesticide companies to drug pushers!

Our next speaker was Dr. Alan Greene.  I think this man could convince Monsanto executives themselves to eat organic.  I've got a whole list of research articles I need to look up since his talk!

Other highlights:  Checking out People's Food Co-op (and eating their portobello burger!), browsing through hundreds of organic agriculture/gardening, sustainable living, and food books, and surviving a treacherous drive through a snowstorm.

My kitten plays the guitar

Since Trouble was a tiny kitten, she's had a naughty streak.  Lately she's taken to stealing my jewelry, digging in the compost bowl and playing the guitar early in the morning.  

Adorable, right?  Billie Cat likes to watch this strange performance.  The odd background noise you hear is the sound he makes while rubbing his gums on me and purring.