Saturday, November 30, 2013

Plan Dec 2- 8

Walk 1
Run 3
Vegan Reubens

Run >1
Chickpea stuffed Portabella mushrooms

Walk 1
Run 4
Hanukkah celebration Winesday with Annie and Bart
Challa (a thick and eggy slightly sweet braided bread)- I will bake this on Tuesday
Latkes (I could eat these for days!)

Run >1
Chorale concert, dinner will be leftovers before or after the show.

Walk 1 
Run 10
Rob's Christmas Party for work, I'll likely eat a small meal at home before we go.

Run >1
Rob and I have plans to have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in VA.

Christmastown 8k
This looks like it will be a really fun race, through Busch Gardens, Williamsburg!
We will make our way home from the race, and likely pick up some food & beer on the way!

I am doing the Runners World holiday running streak, attempting to run at least 1 mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Years. This week I should have close to 30 miles, with that, my long run on Friday, and the 8k on Sunday.

Not too much cooking this week! But isn't that how it goes pretty frequently this time of year? We get so busy and we're all bundled up in layers! Seems, then, like the perfect time to kick up my running a notch.

We're getting close to the end of the semester, which is both good and bad. For the classes I teach, December 16 is the last day of finals, and for my dissertation research, my quarter ends on December 13. I'm ready for the break, but that also means these next two weeks are going to be crazy busy. I really want to have my research proposal approved by my committee before the end of the quarter, but I don't know if that will happen!

For joy reading, I'm reading E squared, and I am the messenger by Marcus Zusak. I recently purchased the first 5 in the Game of Thrones series, but I won't start those until the winter break. I also have started Thank you for your service.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vegan Thanksliving Menu

Whether you're cooking a small vegan meal at home, creating a large vegan thanksliving feast, or participating in an event or gathering where both vegan and non-vegan items will be served, it's nice to have a selection of recipes to choose from.

Some vegans choose to make thanksgiving traditional food vegan style, while others embrace totally new flavors and dishes.  I'd like to think I do a combination of the two, but truth be told, I'm probably more in the first camp.  Here's what my thanksliving spread looked like in 2011:

This year, I will be making some items to be included in a larger gathering, so I need to make sure all of my vegan feast desires are met with my own dishes.  These are the important ones in my house:

Roasted Seitan
Adapted from TVZ

Cooking/prep time: 2.5 hours

1.5 c. vital wheat gluten
.25 c. nutritional yeast
.5 c. garbanzo flour
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
4.25 c. vegetable broth
2 T. liquid aminos or soy sauce
2 T. olive oil
.25 t. cumin
1 t. each salt & pepper
1 T. parsley

Mix all the dry ingredients together in one bowl, 3 cloves garlic, 1.25 c. vegetable broth, 1 t. soy sauce, 1 t. olive oil, cumin, and salt and pepper together in a separate bowl.  Now combine both the wet and dry bowls, and knead for 10-15 minutes.  Cut the ball of seitan in two loaves, and shape accordingly.  Put loaves in oiled baking dish with the remaining ingredients.  Cover with foil and cook at 350 for an hour.  After an hour, flip the loaves over, and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Vegan Cashew Mashed Potatoes

Cooking/prep time: 8 hours to soak, 1 hour actual fuss time
Make ahead: the cashew milk will stay good a few days in the fridge before the big meal

2 c. Raw cashews
2 lbs. potatoes, evenly cubed
0.5 c. Vegan cream cheese
0.25 c. Vegan margarine (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2T. Dill
Salt and pepper

For this recipe, you need to make the cashew milk first. The raw cashews need to soak in 2 c. Water for at least 6 hours, I like to let mine soak overnight.
The next morning, drain off the water, rinse the cashews and add 2 c. Fresh water with the cashews in a blender. Pulse on high until smooth and creamy. My blender has a "frozen drink" setting, and I've found that by doing that cycle twice I get great nut milk.

While you're fussing with the blender, you should be bringing a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Add the cubed potatoes, and cook at medium heat for the desired tenderness.  I like my potatoes to be not too mushy, so I find they're just right when I can easily slide a fork's times into each piece.

Drain the water, and return the potatoes to the pot. Add the garlic, about 1 c. Of cashew milk, and the cream cheese and margarine, if using, and mash it all together with a potato masher or an electric mixer. Personally, I prefer the hand masher, leaving some lumpy bits of potato! Add dill, and salt and pepper to taste.

For this recipe, I use pre bagged crumbs, just because it is easy.  Feel free to use fresh bread. Just read your ingredients. If you're buying pre bagged, the cornbread flavor is often the vegan one!

Cook time: less than 30 minutes

1 bag stuffing bread crumbs
0.5 c. Vegan margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 c. Mushrooms, chopped
1 c. pine nuts (toasted)
2 c. Vegetable broth
1 tsp each: parsley, sage, salt, black pepper

I like to sautée my veggies first, and melt the butter with the spices in a saucepan. Meanwhile, I stir the broth into the bread crumbs. Then I add it all together and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Cranberry Orange Sauce
Adapted from Anna Thomas' New Vegetarian Epicure

This is one of the things I make for Thanksliving each year that Mia loves. She generally starts talking about it in October!

Cook time:15 minutes, plus time to cool.
Make ahead: easily done the night before!

1.5 lbs fresh cranberries
1 c. Orange juice
0.5 c. Water
0.5 c. Red wine (whatever I will drink during dinner- but remember, I am a fan of the drier wines)
1.5 c. Sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp ground cloves

Put everything in a pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool before serving. 

Sauteed Kale
This is my own invention, and is addictive.  I never liked kale or any cooked greens growing up, they always seemed so slimy.  Then later, when I went vegan, I tried to like them, but it seemed like there was so much oil they didn't taste healthy.  I decided since kale was so darn good for you, I was bound and determined to eat it.  I concocted this recipe and everyone in my family loves it.  On top of this, it is super easy.

Cook:prep time: about 30 minutes

1-2 lbs Kale
1 vegetable bouillon cube (to make 2 cups vegetable broth with)
2 c. water
Optional: fresh ground black pepper, sliced garlic (1-3 cloves) to taste

I drizzle the tiniest bit of olive oil in the bottom of the pan, then stuff as much kale as possible in the pan.  I traditionally make this dish in my large, 3 inch deep, glass lidded pan.  Sometimes, the only kale you can get has a lot of thick stems.  If there are a lot of these, I would trim some of the woodiest parts away.  Generally, if you buy a large bag of kale, the stems therein will cook just fine.

On top of the kale, I place the bouillon cube, and pour the water.  Then I cover the pan with the lid, turn on the stove top to a medium heat, and cook for 10-15 minutes.  The longer you let it cook, the softer and gooier it will get.  Mia prefers it when I cook it for 15-20 minutes, but Rob likes it better on the raw-er side, approximately 10 minutes.  15 seems to be a nice compromise.

Try to resist lifting the lid.  Keep that steam in! Stir when you're ready to serve!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
This has been such a hit in my house lately that we needed to include it in our celebration!

Cook/prep time: 30 minutes

8 c. Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed, and sliced in half if large
3 t. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T. Nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, place the sprouts on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast, toss, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Sweet potato pie parfait
Listen, I love me some pumpkin pie, but I haven't had the best of luck with vegan recipes for one. This year, I am bypassing the scorn, and for dessert, the vegan option will be a recipe from No Meat Athlete Matt Frazier's new book.

Cook/prep time: less than 2 hours
Make ahead: this is great to make the night before and keep in the fridge.

2 medium sweet potatoes
0.5 block firm tofu, drained and rinsed
1 t. Cinnamon
0.25 t. Ginger
0.5 t. Nutmeg
2 t. Vanilla extract
Pinch or two of salt
1-2 t. Agave nectar
0.25 c. Rolled oats
2 T. Chopped almonds
2 T. Cacao nibs
2 dates, pitted and chopped

Bake the sweet potatoes for an hour at 400 degrees for 1 hour, then let them cool for 30 minutes.
Scoop out the insides of the potatoes, and add to a blender with tofu, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, agave, and a pinch of salt. Purée untill completely smooth, and chill.

Combine the remainder of the ingredients to make the topping in a sauté pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to toast. Remove and allow to cool.

To serve, place a half a cup in a bowl of the sweet potato mixture, and sprinkle topping on. This will serve 5 vegans, or one vegan and 10 veg curious people who will also be eating pie.

Biscuits If I am so inspired, I will make Lindsay Nixon's 3-ingredient biscuits (see her video here), but if I'm short on time, Bisquick is vegan, and will make up biscuits in a pinch.

I anticipate that these dishes will be eaten by vegan (me), vegetarian (Mia), and mostly veg curious omnivores (Rob & family).  I want to make enough for me to have leftovers on Friday for a midnight sandwich, but not any more than that. So, I need to think about non-veg appeal and portion sizes when I do my shopping.

I would be remiss if I didn't note here that Thanksgiving this year falls on the first night of Hanukkah, something we celebrate in my house. We will talk about latkes next week, I promise!

Shopping list for Thanksliving:

2 Onions

1 bunch celery
3 Carrots 
1 c. Mushrooms
1.5 lbs. Cranberries
2 lbs. Kale
8 c. Brussels sprouts
2 Sweet potatoes
2 lbs. Potatoes
2 dates

vital wheat gluten
Nutritional yeast
garbanzo flour
Box vegetable bouillon cubes
1 bag stuffing bread crumbs

liquid aminos or soy sauce
olive oil
Agave nectar

Orange juice
Red wine

Vegan cream cheese 
Vegan margarine (earth balance)
Firm tofu

2 c. Raw cashews
1 c. pine nuts
Rolled oats
2 T. Chopped almonds

salt & pepper
ground cinnamon
ground cloves

Ground Ginger
Vanilla extract
Cacao nibs

Task list for Thanksliving:
Wednesday, make cashew milk, cranberry sauce, and parfaits.
Thursday morning, Go for a run, preheat oven to 350. Make seitan, and put in oven. Chop all veggies, and potatoes on to boil. Blend cashew milk. Flip seitan. Watch some of the Macy's day parade. Make stuffing. Put sprouts in the oven, mash potatoes, steam kale, mix biscuits and bake.
Serve, eat, drink, and laugh!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Plan, Nov 25- Dec 1

Walk 1, run 3
Quiona Polenta Pizza

Walk 1, run 5
Indian Tofu Patties

Vegan potato curry (adapted from The Vegetarian Epicure)

6 medium size russet potatoes
3 T. Earth Balance margarine
1t. Salt
1 T. Curry powder
2 c. Water
1 c. Vegan yogurt, plain (tofutti vegan sour cream also works)
1 c. Frozen peas

Peel and dice the potatoes. Heat the earth balance, and add the spices, simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes, and cook them evenly until a little crispy.
Add the water, and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add the peas and yogurt, and heat for 5 more minutes.
Serve over rice.

Family Fun Run
My whole Thanksliving menu is posted here.

Run >1
Football tailgating 

Run >1

Run >1
Hanukkah feast (I'll post my Hanukkah menu here, as well)

I'm doing the Runners World Streak, and will be running (or skiing) every day from Thanksgiving to New Years.

I've recently gotten new vegan cookbooks that are beautiful, I am thinking of reviewing all my cookbooks on the blog in 2014. One of my favorite new ones is Isa does it, and I'll have the privilege of meeting her in December! Otherwise, I'm reading a Phillip K. Dick novel, one by Markus Zusak, and a non- fiction called "Thank you for your service" for my reading group.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dogs of Babel-Carolyn Parkhurst

The first time I read this book, I had just finished Audrey Niffenger's Time Travelers Wife, which I loved. Sometimes, after reading a really good book that touches your soul, you don't want to immediately dive into a new book. What if it isn't as good? (surely it can't be!) what if it is good, and you forget about how good the first book was? And doesn't it feel a little like cheating- moving on so quickly to a new book?
I wanted to read something else, but didn't know what, and at the time, I visited the library frequently. When I returned the Niffenger's novel, I glanced over at the re-shelve cart, and saw this one, and decided to give it a try. While by different authors, and about different subjects, The Dogs of Babel left me with a similar peacefulness akin to that which I had felt with the Time Travelers Wife.  A bit of melancholy, a sweet story, I started recommending Carolyn Parkhurst's novel to any one I heard say they liked the Time Travelers Wife.
I just re-read the Dogs of Babel novel, and am pleased that the magic is still there. This novel centers around Paul, a linguist professor, whose recent death of his wife, Lexy, has prompted him to wonder if their dog, Lorelei, can tell him anything about the afternoon that changed his life.
Being that my dogs, Lilly (9) the Beagle, Copper (2) the Terrier/Lab mix, and Jack (4) the Schnauzer, are such an intricate part of our family, I could relate to Paul's devotion to Lorelei. Our pups run with me almost daily, they sleep with us, we take them on vacations. I cannot imagine life without them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nov 18-24 getting re-motivated and cleaning out the freezer

I have been feeling dangerously un-motivated this month. I don't really know the cause, it could be the cooler weather, it could be the time change, it could be Rob's slightly earlier in the morning routine. It could be the cold we keep shuffling around in our house.  Whatever it is, I have been having a hard time getting up and getting going lately. It definitely didn't help being sick this last week.
What I've been reading doesn't help. In the book Marathoning for mortals, they talk about if you miss a run, that it is okay as long as it isn't your weekly long run. Well, that just makes it alright for me to sleep in a bit...

I actually didn't even get my long run it this week. Damn cold.

So, I need a little kick to get back into my training pace. I will be participating in the Runners World 2013 Holiday streak, and will be running at least one mile every day. (while this is a running streak, the days that I am on the slopes I will be skiing, which isn't officially sanctioned by RW, but I am okay with that.)

I've also decided to do at least 14 races in 2014, and have already signed up for two: a 15k in January, and a half marathon in March.

So, here's my plan for the week. I'm cleaning out the freezer some this week, since it is pretty full due to our Mia's-quitting-MOM's-so-we-need-to-use-that-30%-discount-one-last-time shopping trip. So the recipes this week include those items as ingredients. Therefore, these meals are kind of vague in description. I'll know more as I make them, and will document for you, friends!

Walk 1
Run 3
Stuffed Maple Tofu

Walk 1
Run 2
Mystery freezer meal: likely rice/veggie/protein bowls (I know I have some seitan and veggies in the freezer)

Walk 1
Run 4 (#run4philippines Virtual 5k)
Not-so-Mystery freezer meal:Tofurky Kielbasa with cabbage, onions, and mixed vegetables

Walk & Yoga
Choir Rehearsal (this will be our dress rehearsal since next week is Thanksgiving!) so Rob's in charge of dinner.

Walk 1
Run 9.5 (#downtherabbithole Virtual 10k)
Not-so-Mystery freezer meal: Gardein BBQ Pulled Shreds and coleslaw
I'm getting together with a friend tonight for Wine & Crafts!

Rest day
Mystery freezer meal:TBA

CSM Turkey Trot 5k
Mystery freezer meal:TBA

Rob is reading the E2 diet by Rip Esselstein, and I'm hoping he'll be willing to try that after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, though, I'm prepping my Thanksliving blog for next week. 

On the dissertation front, my second draft got returned to me, and I have lots of edits still to make.  It's a frustrating process, but I am learning a lot. These past few weeks I've read a number of dissertations just to get a good idea of what I'm getting into.

I've just finished reading Steven King's The Shining, which I've never read- and is a really good one. (We also watched the movie Saturday night, which was no where as good as the book!)  I also read this week Wilderness by Dean Koontz, am re-reading The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst, I read a short story- The Princess and the Pea by Diane Setterfield, and started I am the messenger by Markus Zusak. I am currently working my way through a collection of short stories by H. P. Lovecraft, and I just ordered a book recommended by my mentor on Qualitative Research Methods by Michael Patton.

Speaking of books, I made a visit to my favorite used book store on Saturday (Booknuts in White Plains, MD), and John had put aside a great big pile of books he thought I might be interested in! Mostly math, one running log, and one Thurber novel. What a find! One is a collection on Math riddles/logic/word problems from the 1960's, and I'm so excited!

Sunday Rob and I went into DC to The B Spot Cafe for their monthly vegan jazz brunch. Even though neither of us was feeling great (this cold has everyone in the house, dogs included, feeling out of sorts, by Sunday, I still had my sexy Betty Grable voice, and poor Rob's nose was really drippy) we still went. To tell the truth, if we hadn't pre-paid, we wouldn't have gone, but it wasn't cheap ($22.95 per person).

The menu looked delicious, though, so we sucked it up and headed into town.

And it was worth it. The food was delicious, and we met some lovely folks! And the jazz band was great fun to listen to.

After brunch, Rob and I walked up to Eastern Market, where I picked up some apples, and George Michaels' Faith album on LP!

Too bad I was still stuffed from brunch. Zoe's vegan had a booth set up at the market, but I bought some zucchini bread for later.

Sigh- I took the road less traveled by this week.

This week didn't go exactly, or anywhere near planned.
The only meal I've made from my plan this week was Monday's. Then I got sick, and nothing else has gone like I thought it would.

Monday, I made a lovely lentil loaf with a side of steamed kale.

It turned out delicious!  I used the Vegan Stoner's recipe for the lentil loaf, and my own recipe for the Kale (see upcoming Thanksgiving blog for recipe).

My tutoring student, Zach, has a garden full of kale, so he's been my main supplier lately.  I've been juicing it, making salads, and steaming it.  I had to cancel tutoring this week because of my cold, so I may go through withdrawal!
Rob enjoyed his meal with a PBR.  Only classy beers in this joint, you hear? ;)

I'd planned on going to the grocery store for ingredients for the week on Tuesday, but that didn't happen, so we had rice, seitan, and veggies. Wednesday night, everyone was on their own for dinner, since I was exhausted, and just went to bed. Thursday, I reverted to one of my favorite college meals: rice & black beans.

Cheap and easy bowl
Serves 4
1 c. brown rice
2.5 c. water
1 can black beans
1 can refried (vegan) black beans
0.25 c. salsa
vegan cheese (optional)

Add rice and water together in pot, put over high heat and bring to a boil.  When it starts to boil, stir, cover and leave on burner on low for 40-45 minutes.

Heat both bean cans together in one small pot, stirring together.  You can also use two cans of regular black beans, and give them a mash or two with a potato masher.  I just happened to have the can of refried.  This recipe really works with any kind of bean, but my favorite is black.  Add salsa, and heat on medium setting.

In a bowl, layer in rice, beans, and sprinkle cheese on top if you want.  I had slices of daiya swiss cheese, so I layered them rice, cheese, beans.  Then I stirred it around really well so the cheese was melted.

Today (Friday) I finally got to the grocery store.  I'm starting to feel better, but the long run is not going to happen for me today. Anyway, my daughter has been working at MOM's organic market, and while she's been working there, we've enjoyed a 30% discount on groceries (yeah!).  She's also been working as a tutor at the local college, and the tutoring job works so much better with her class schedule, so she's put in her two weeks notice at MOM's and her last day of work is Sunday.  I wanted to get a really big shopping trip in while we still had that discount, so we got to do that today.

We filled our cart with mostly frozen and shelf -stable items, things that wouldn't go bad, that we could stock up on.  I picked up a number of packages of vegan cheese, tempeh, and lots of roobios tea.  We also picked up some frozen vegan pizzas and both a Tofurky and Gardein roast.  (They also had the Field Roast brand, but that one worries me a bit- it's SO meaty in texture.  Like Beyond Meat.  I don't really want something to look/taste that much like meat!)

Another thing I picked up was a tray of wheatgrass.  I've bought frozen wheatgrass shots to put in smoothies before, and ordered wheatgrass at local juice bars, but never tried it on my own.

I was quite surprised when I tried to put it through my juicer!  Nothing!  The little grass blades floated above the blades, and went straight to the excess bin.  So a little bit of research later, I found out that to make a wheatgrass shot, I would need to do it manually.  So here's what I did:

Wheatgrass shot
0.25-0.5 c. chopped wheatgrass (the smaller the pieces, the better)
2oz. water

Put the wheatgrass in a mortar, and crush into a fine paste with your pestle.  Apparently they have special wheatgrass juicers, but I don't...
Add water.
Strain liquid into a small glass

I made Rob and I some carrot juice, and we split a shot.  It wasn't too tough to do!  I added lots of ginger root to mine, but only a little to Rob's.

Tonight, Rob is going to make his meal of vegan stuffed cabbage leaves, and I'll return to the meal plan posted for the weekend, with the Pad Thai on Saturday, and Chili and cornbread on Sunday.

Some of the missed recipes will be pushed to next week, and I'm doing a freezer clean out, and will try to use some things that need to be used this next week.

Monday, November 11, 2013

On being joyful, and not so much.

My friend, Cari, lent me this amazing book by Allie Brosh, who is the creator of Hyperbole and a Half, a web blog/comic. I'd seen some of her work before, mostly in little snippets, but this book really impressed me. I highly recommend her blog:

Not so much because it was funny. Which it was. There were moments (mostly about dogs, albeit) that made me laugh out loud. I stopped and made Rob listen as I read the chapter about the goose aloud.

What really got me about this book, though, was the poignancy in which she talked about her own childhood and mental health. The description of depression was spot on, and something in which everyone can relate to.

My signature line of my email is a lyric from one of my favorite songs by Ani Difranco:

I do it for the joy it brings, because I am a joyful girl.

I try to identify with the joyful girl. She is who I want to be. I want to live life, and be some one who brings light and love.

I haven't always been that way, even though part of me has been joyful. There were a number of years in the late 90's, early 2000's when I was unhappy. 

I tried to put on a front. I hid the fact that I didn't sleep. I worried. I wasn't healthy.

That being said, though, I think we all have our darkness that lurks in the corner. When Mia was a baby, I would wake up and be convinced that she'd died in bed. I would sneak into her room, and check her pulse. You would think that now that she is an adult, I wouldn't have those urges. She is thankful that I've passed my night worries to the dogs. I can't tell you how often I wake up and have to touch each dog to make sure they are alive and inside!

I feel like I am in a better place now, I know Rob is a big part of that. Being in a relationship with someone who empowers you, trusts you, loves you, and makes you slow down is so good. He makes me feel safe, loved, and fun. He motivates and cheers me on, we rely on each other. He is my soulmate.

The remainder of that song fits, it goes like this:

I do it for the joy it brings, because I am a joyful girl.
The world owes me nothing, we owe each other the world.
I do it 'cause it's the least I can do.
I do it 'cause I learned it from you.
I do it just because I want to.

I am a joyful girl....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Plan, November11-17

Excitement this week includes a check up at the vet for Little Jack, a vegan runner webinar, and of course more research. I am going back to running 4 days this week, because I feel like a better runner on my long runs when I've gotten out more frequently during the week. My hips were a little sore after last week's long run, so this week I am going to focus on foods rich in potassium.

My SIL, Rachel just shared with me that she's been trying to include one of my posted recipes in her meals each week (yaaaay, Rach!) so I tried to make sure to share the links of the recipes I am using ahead of time, here. 

Run 3
Lentil Loaf with salad

Run 2
Vietnamese Tofu Banh Mi Sandwich

Run 4
Vegan Chik'n &Dill Waffles (I still can't get the deliciousness of City o' City out of my head- and that was JULY). I'll post this recipe next weekend.

Yoga, afternoon walk
Choir Rehearsal, Rob will make dinner.

Run 9.5


Rest day
Baked chili with cornbread biscuit topping

I'm reading Interworld by Neil Gaiman again, and Cari just lent me Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, and still listening to good old HST. I'm really digging Matt Frazier's new No Meat Athlete Book.  Also just picked up a couple by an incredible poet and spoken word artist, Buddy Wakefield: Live for a living and Gentleman practice. Haven't heard of him?  Try this on for size- I promise you won't waste your time.  Rob and I saw him live- he opened for Ani Difranco this past week and he blew us out of the water.  Imagine a room of 350+ (mostly 20-something girl-power types) waiting patiently for Melissa Ferrik and Ani Difranco being wowed by a guy just talking.  He had the crowd holding their breaths just to be able to hear him better.  Amazing stuff.

As far as my research goes, I got my first draft of my research plan back with good feedback, and have been working on revisions- hopefully will have a new draft submitted on Sunday afternoon. I'm mired in the research of Miles & Hubermann, and looking for an issue of Time from 2005...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Vegan goodness from the week before

Monday night I made tofu steaks which I served over watercress with some mushroom gravy.

Mushroom gravy:
Melt 0.25 c  earth balance in a skillet or wok. Add 2 c. Crimini mushrooms and three minced garlic cloves. Simmer over medium heat for a few minutes. Then add 2 cups vegetable broth then half a cup of flour (I used soy flour) slowly, stirring all the while to prevent clumping.

Tofu steaks:
Cut a block of tofu into 9 strips. Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Mix in a small bowl half a cup of flour, 0.25 c. Nutritional yeast, and 1 T. Black pepper dip each tofu strip in the flour mixture, and fry until golden in the oil.

Put about a cup of watercress on each plate, top with three slices tofu and some gravy.

Wednesday evening the chili was perfect, a nice warm meal, then we were early to bed, from staying out too late the night before. Rob was battling a bit of a cold, and we both were tired.

From Moosewood Low Fat Favorites, Festive Black Bean Chili recipe here.

I like this chili recipe because it is beautiful and colorful!  Sometimes I really like using tofu crumbles in chili, but here it just doesn't belong.  There is a lot of flavor, and it tastes so good, and so good for you! I served it with a dollop of mashed avocado on top, a sprinkle of daiya cheddar, and a few crackers (because who doesn't like crackers??).

I swapped Friday and Saturday's recipes since the sprouts looked so good in my refrigerator.  Friday night we tried out the lentil quiona balls with mushroom gravy and roasted brussels sprouts.  The lentil dish came from the Vegan Cuts Fall recipe download which is accessible here

I deviated from the mushroom gravy recipe, as I already have a really good one, mine used some fresh cashew milk. Next time I make this, I will cook the lentils for longer than stated- they weren't quite soft enough for my liking. I will use 1.5 c. veg. broth to 0.5 c. lentils, and cook first for half an hour.

The Brussels Sprouts were in homage to the delicious ones I tasted last week in North Carolina.

First of all, let me tell you that I am a relatively new Brussels Sprouts convert. My mom didn't like them, so she never made them. The only time I remember eating them growing up was once.

When I was in High School, we lived overseas in Germany. My mom one summer sent my brother, Tim and I to an international swim camp. (This is how I got TB, I'm pretty sure). Being a vegetarian was not a popular thing among the German/Austrians running the camp, so instead of getting special meals, I just got no meat and double the vegetable side dish. One night, the veggies were Brussels Sprouts, and they were cooked in a heavy cream & butter and so slimy! Gross! I was convinced I hated them, and went to bed pretty hungry that night.

In the last few years, I started trying vegetables I didn't like growing up and having good luck (kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts) and interestingly enough, came to the realization that I didn't like them before because the were too slimy/oily. Turns out that when you cook these vegetables in a healthy way, they taste GOOD!

For roasting, you should really cook at a high temperature (400-500 degrees), but I cooked these at 350 because the oven was already on for the Lentil balls.

I washed and trimmed the sprouts, and because they were so big, cut each one in half. I drizzled them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and baked them for about 40 minutes.

Saturday morning, I did some juicing, and made some veggie juices with beets and greens, some fruit juices with apples and cranberries, and a big mess. If any of my readers know my lovely husband, can you tell him that this year I am asking Santa for a new (heavy duty, wide mouth) juicer?

Saturday we had the vegan Mac and chi from The Vegan Zombie: you can find that recipe here.  This is one of their earlier videos, and it just cracks me up!  Watch it- I promise you will learn two lessons! (i.e. be careful with herbs @3:29, and always lock your door @ 9:00)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vegan adventures in North Carolina

Rob and I took a trip this weekend down to western North Carolina to visit his parents.

We took the pups and left super early Friday morning. This meant we arrived in Durham around 9:30 am. We stopped at the Ninth St. bakery, where they serve vegan options for lunch each day.

Unfortunately, we were too early for lunch, but we picked up some vegan banana cookies and seltzer water, and some vegetarian biscuits for the pups.

We took our treats to nearby Duke Park, where we stretched our legs with a brisk walk.

The leaves in the Appalachians are gorgeous this time of year.

A few hours (and some yucky rain driving) later, we arrived in Asheville, which is a very hip town with a number of vegan options!
We lunched at The Laughing Seed Cafe on Wall St., a vegetarian cafe with a ton of vegan options.

The pups sat with us at a table outside, and our waitress brought them a bowl of water.

Rob and I both ordered the Green Man Porter, a local, organic brew.

The service wasn't very fast, but a local jazz musician who had set up shop across the street entertained us with some lovely music, covers and originals.

Rob ordered the jalapeño fries, which he really liked (but were just okay to me).

I ordered the carrot dill soup, which I really enjoyed!

We wandered around the downtown area, and found ourselves downstairs from the Laughing Seed, at the Jack in the Woods pub, where we ended up drinking a few beers with our waitress, Allie, and the cafe's pastry chef, Rose.

We sat at table on the sidewalk outside, and tasted their firkin IPA.

This town is very dog friendly, too! We found a number of shops downtown had water bowls out for visiting pups.
For dinner, we visited Plant, which is all vegan, and reviewed as one of the top ten vegan restaurants in the U.S.  Since it was suggested so highly, I asked a few locals about it, and got some mixed reviews, but I can honestly say that this was the best vegan restaurant I've ever been to! Everyone was very friendly, the food was amazing, and this, too, was dog friendly, allowing our pups on the porch area.

We started with some pickled carrots and a beer.

The fried plantains were topped with a vegan bacon, made of Shiite mushrooms. They were amazing!

I ordered the Red Curry Tofu, which was served with jasmine lime rice dumplings and arugula. I loved the sauce, it had a sense of anise, or licorice! Amazing!

Rob got the Herb Crusted Seitan, which was served over some broccoli I and creamed cauliflower. Talk about comfort food!  Jesse told us that the seitan comes from Rayin Philadelphia, PA.
Everything was plated so beautifully, as well, and our waiter, Jesse, was awesome with suggestions and prompt service.

For dessert, we were told by Rose (Laughing Seed Pastry chef) that Plant's vegan ice cream was the best in the world. We took her word, and ordered two coffees and some peanut butter chocolate ice cream. I like my ice cream best served as a spoonful in my coffee.
In Maggie Valley, where Rob's dad, Ron, and step-mom, Meredith live, we like to stay at the Alamo motel, which is touted to be one of the dog-friendliest hotels in town. I agree, the owners, Dawn and Mike, have a German Shepard, and live on-site. If you leave during the day, Dawn will come by and let your dogs out for a little walk. She's got our pups trained- they know she's the nice lady who gives them snacks.

The next morning, Copper and I took a 6.5 mile run through the mountains in Maggie Valley. We ran on the main road, and the trees and mountains were just beautiful.
After my run, Rob had green boiled peanuts for us to snack on. Have you ever tasted them? I'd never heard of them before I visited NC with Rob. They're boiled and soft, you shell them, and they're just slightly salty.  Rob likes them with Cajun flavor.
We finally got over to see Rob's folks mid morning on Saturday. We played a rousing game of Farkle, then went into Frog Level, an artsy neighborhood in Waynesville. We looked around some neat art shops, and stopped into the Frog Level Brewery for a stout beer.

Meredith picked a great little restaurant called Frogs Leap Public House. There were no vegan options on the menu, but the hostess assured us that they could accommodate me.

Our waitress, Anna, went back and talked with the chef, and he promised to make me a vegan entree.  That is one of my favorite ways to eat, when a talented chef creates something special. Kane, the chef, did a great job.

I got a ragu made with black eyed peas, arugula, tomatoes, and lemon curd.

Two sides were also served of roasted Brussels sprouts and whipped sweet potatoes.

I was in LOVE with those Brussels sprouts! So good! After dinner, I asked the chef to come out and thanked him.
Sunday morning, we headed towards home. We had some coffee with Ron , then stopped to buy road snacks (nuts) from a local, and drove east.

Rob wondered if Tunnel Road was true to its name, so we took a tiny detour, and there was a tunnel!
The Pups were not impressed.

Going back through Durham, all of the strictly vegan places were closed on Sundays, so we stopped at a veg-friendly pizza joint called The Mellow Mushroom.

We ordered a vegan pizza with Daiya cheese, portabello mushrooms, kalamata olives, jalapenos, and marinated seitan (which LOOKED like sausage!  I was surprised).  It was delicious.  The service here was pretty slow, too, but Rob and I sat at the bar and watched football- they were showing the Redskins game!
We took the pups for a walk afterwards (I like to plan our road trips around vegan places to eat and parks to walk the dogs in!) and got back in the car.  We had planned on stopping again in Richmond on the way home, but by the time we arrived there, we weren't very hungry, and were kind of anxious to get home.

All in all, it was a lovely weekend!  The visit with the in-laws was great, and the food was amazing.  I love road trips with our pups, too.