Friday, October 18, 2013

Math conferencing and vegan eating in Baltimore, MD

I visited Baltimore, MD, for the regional NCTM conference this weekend.

On the way up, we stopped at DuClaw Brewery, to sample their new release of Retribution, a rich, vegan beer.  According to, almost all of DuClaw's beers are vegan! Hooray!

The food at DuClaw isn't super vegan friendly, although they have a number of options on their menu that are vegetarian friendly. I was able to order the Mezze platter, sans cheese, which included hummus, baba ganoush, olives, and dolmades. It was very tasty, and a nice compliment to the beer.

NCTM is the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Sounds nerdy, but fun, too.

Some highlights of the conference on Thursday include an activity for early elementary students to develop numeracy by bird watching and counting crows, some sharing of geometry proof games, an analysis of strategies to promote success for girls in the math classroom, and a discussion of incorporating arts into the STEM fields (STEAM) by one of my favorite children's math authors, Stuart Murphy.

Later in the afternoon, I was able to talk with Mr. Murphy, who signed one of his books for me! We talked about implementing some STEAM ideas with my preservice teachers.

A favorite of ours in Baltimore is the Pratt St. ale House, where they make a cask-conditioned ale. Their barley wine was lovely, and was a nice way to finish my conference day.

After the conference on Thursday, we took a long walk to The Grind House Juice Bar on St. Paul St.  This all-vegan cafe specializes in fresh juices and smoothies.

I got to try a couple of items, their food was delicious, and the juices delightful. They are still in the process of growing their wheatgrass, which I recommend in raw form. They had a powdered substitute which was okay, but had an odd finish. I would be excited to try the wheatgrass shot when theirs is done growing (it takes approximately 10-12 days).

As you can see, a beautiful presentation!

The sweet greens juice was my favorite of the green juices. This is their most popular wrap, with a "fish" and cayenne-aise. I was a little concerned that the "fish" would be too realistic, but it was very tasty with a nori flavoring.

They call these their "hot thangs" which we got with a garlic kale salad. The Hulk juice here was mostly cucumber with spinach and kale. I also enjoyed their other kale salad with Annie's Goddess dressing, diced apples and dried cranberries. I may try to recreate that salad at home and add some slivered almonds or toasted pine nuts.

With all the walking, I put over 9 miles on my pedometer Thursday. After the conference, we trekked all over town, including a wander into the Little Italy neighborhood in the evening, an area I'd never visited.

Friday conference highlights included a session on incorporating the books of Dr. Seuss in math lessons (I have many students this year who want to teach early elementary grades, K-2, so I've tried to hit a few sessions specific to those grades), a demonstration of statistics software, and a fantastic lecture by the ever-intriguing Greg Tang!

Greg Tang demonstrating a very technical math procedure called the "discreet smooshed together model.". 

After the conference sessions on Friday, we headed up for a late lunch at The Land of Kush, the other all-vegan restaurant in Baltimore. This one was only 1.5 miles away from the hotel, a shorter walk, although we did end up putting another 9+ miles on the pedometer on Friday!

The Land of Kush specializes in vegan soul food, and is quite a bit heavier than the juice bar. Again I was able try try quite a few things. As it was my second time visiting, I tried not to order anything I'd eaten before.

Curry soy chickn, spicy kale, and sweet potatoes. The spicy kale was very spicy, I dipped it in the curry sauce to cool the flavor down. The sweet potatoes were a perfect compliment to the intense tastes in this meal.

Vegan Mac and cheese, spinach lasagne, and purple cabbage with broccoli. More mellow tastes, the cabbage was really delicious!

Saturday, we trekked into Fells Point, where we ate at Liquid Earth, a vegetarian juice bar. 

Reviews I'd read online were mixed for this place, people either loved or hated it, and I was a little dubious reading about poor customer service and unreliable open times, especially when I called before walking over there and got no answer or even voice mail, but when we arrived they were open, and friendly.

We started with juices, both carrot based, but mine had lots of ginger! I was really pleasantly surprised about the quantity of juice we got, about 2.5 cups each, and loved how they were served.

The soups of the day were the miso, and the kidney bean vegetable.

Both soups were served with fresh, warm brown bread.

I decided on the Reuben, with marinated organic tofu and veganized with vegan cheese (+$1.50), as some of the reviewers seemed to like it. The tofu had a very meaty texture, which isn't my favorite, but it was enjoyable.

All throughout our meal, I could smell something from the kitchen that was enticing. I asked our waitress what it was, and she told me about the vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies they were baking.

Oh, yeah. It was that good.

Before leaving Baltimore, we stopped by the Russian Festival, where, as you can imagine, the vegan pickings were slim, but the music and atmosphere were fun. We also took a peek into the Inn at Black Olive, which is supposed to be Baltimore's Greenest hotel. It looked very nice, and very out of our price range! The did have a little organic deli in the lobby where I tried some dates.

We also stopped by the farmer's market at Fells Point, where I picked up some lovely chard to juice at home! We walked a little over 5 miles on Saturday before leaving the city.

All in all, it was a lovely trip! I learned a lot, and had some delicious food, and fun in Baltimore. Big thanks to my work for sending me to the conference, and my hubby for being such a good sport about math conferencing AND vegan food!

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