Monday, December 15, 2008

7 Randoms Meme Time!

So here is the first, most neglected meme I was tagged for by Bethany over at Spotted Devil Cat and His Vegan Assistant...Because who doesn't love random!?

  1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
  4. Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I have lived in most regions of the U.S. - I was born in the South in Winston-Salem, NC. I moved to the NE to NH when I was 4 and lived in two towns there until I graduated high school. I moved to the NW for college in Oregon, lived in the SW for a summer in Tucson, AZ (who moves to AZ in the summer?!?), and then was banished to the Midwest for 4 years in MI. So, at least all four corners of the country and one spot in the middle.

2. I'm an only child. I share well with others and I'm not totally selfish. It can happen.

3. I had 5 wisdom teeth, they've all been removed. Yep, I had an excess of wisdom.

4. I'm really really good at replicating animal noises. I've had doves want to mate with me in the pet store because of my cooing (seriously) and I fully engage squirrels in conversation. One of our friends dubbed me a "mimic." Sounds like a Hero Superpower! I'll take it.

5. I'm a feminist who defaults to traditional gender roles accidentally. Take out the trash!?!? That's so not my job. Cooking? You bet, love it. What can I say.

6. I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm kind of a science fiction geek. I've even been to two conventions (both last year in MI). The first was SO FUN and the second was weak. It's actually very refreshing to be surrounded by mass amounts of nerd energy.

7. My husband and I are very seriously considering Unschooling our son. We were both straight-A students who loved school, but I think it taught us both some really bad habits that we'd like to avoid. Couple this with the fact that teachers are pretty much forced to teach to a standardized test nowadays AND the fact that my kid is a super kinesthetic learner and I just think this is a recipe for disaster. So unschooling, here we come!

I'm too lazy right now to tag people so I kind of fail this meme. So let me say this: everyone loves talking about themselves. Recognize this fact right now and react accordingly by posting some random stuff about yourselves. Just do it. You know you want to. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dark Days Week 4

So let me just say that it turns out I left my real camera in Portland, and we're not going to back there until Christmas Eve. So cell phone pictures until then, sorry! They really are so bleak, but in my opinion they're better than nothing.

Dark Days Meal of the Week

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Celeriac, Smoky Braised Greens and Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh
Ok, so this meal is a little bit of a cheat, because the Tempeh originates from 229 miles away. What can I say, I meant to make beans but I ran out of time. I thought I'd post anyway! Here are my sources:

Potatoes and Celeriac
Yukon Gold Potatoes - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Celeriac - Willie Green's Organic Farm (43 miles)
Splashes of Almond Milk, Earth Balance and S&P - non local

Smoky Greens
Braising Greens - Willie Green's Organic Farm (43 miles)
Yellow Onion - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Garlic - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Spices and seasonings (Molasses, Chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, tamari) non-local

Hot Sauce Glazed Tempeh
Tofurkey Tempeh - Hood River, OR (229 miles)
Garlic - Helsing Junction Farm (86 miles)
Seasonings (Frank's Hot Sauce, red wine, tamari) - non-local

The celeriac was really delicious mashed with the potatoes! I will defintely buy celeriac again. Next time, however, I will start boiling the celeriac earlier than the potatoes, because the celeriac didn't really mash completely, being a little underdone. It was still really tasty!

The sauce you see over the potatoes and celeriac is the potlikker from the smoky braised greens - it ended up being a little saucier than I thought it'd be, so I figured, Yay! Instant gravy. It was delicious!

And the tempeh has become a standby for us (recipe in Veganomicon). The recipe calls for just any wine you have, red or white (but not sweet) and we had a bottle of open red, so I used that. I didn't care for it as much as the white we usually do. But still a hearty, comfort food type meal all in all. :)

Now, with more recipe testing powers!

Yep, I'm super stoked to be doing some recipe testing for Robin Robertson's new cookbook 1,000 Vegan Recipes, due out Fall 2009! After some funny e-mail mishaps, I finally got my recipe list and I'm so excited!

So I'm obviously not allowed to talk too much about this, but let me just say that this dish, which features pasta, seitan, mushrooms and peas, is so delicious I just know I'm going to be making it regularly for the rest of my natural life! It was so comforting and satisfying, and the toddler even had seconds. A win all around!

Brunch Success!
Hazelnut-Pear Pancakes with Tofurkey Breakfast Links
This was a first try with these pancakes from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan, and I'm happy to report they are AWESOME. I had a little jar of local hemp-hazelnut butter we got in Portland so I used that and some perfectly ripe local pear for these babies and it was amazing! The hazelnut flavor was so wonderful and for some reason reminded me of cappucinos, as I sipped my Dancing Goats coffee. Next time I will dice the pear slices, because the long slices made pouring the batter a little unwieldy. But they were inhaled by all participants of brunch.

The breakfast links were new to us and are interesting. Neither my favorite nor disappointing, we just agreed that they have a very distinctive flavor that was very forward at first, blank in the middle, and then finishes well. We'll probably only get these every once in a while, but I do so love to have a little easy peasy protein with our breakfasts.

spud!: So Far, So Good
So this was our first week using spud!, a local grocery delivery service. I really like it so far! Here's why.

I really like that they highlight which products they carry are local - although their definition of local is within 500 miles of the warehouse, which is a pretttty long way. But, you can find out how many miles each individual local product traveled to their warehouse, so that's a pretty cool feature for those of us who are trying to buy closer to home. I also really like that I can add and subtract items from my order up until the day before delivery. This is great for meal planning! It kind of forces you to come up with a plan, and cuts down on that whole wandering-around-the-store-aimlessly-looking-for-inspiration-to-strike syndrome (because I'm almost never inspired in the store and usually end up spending more money on stuff I don't need).

While they don't have everything I would like, the prices seem really competitive for the things they do carry (which is a lot, don't get me wrong!). For instance, I think field roast sausages are something like $5.75 at the local Thriftway; I got them through spud! for $4.42. Also, you know how organic red peppers are like $5-6/lb? I got 2 good sized reds for $3.66. And before you jump all over me about those not being local, blah blah blah, let me just say: They're for recipe testing! They weren't going to be local at the store either, so I might as well save a few bucks and some miles driving to the store, right? Right.

So the avocados I got are like little rocks and the bananas are underripe, but I'm happier getting them underripe than overripe. It just adds to the anticipation. :)

Oh, and it's free delivery for orders over a certain amount (like $30-40? I can't remember exactly).

So, stay tuned! There will be more recipe testing going down this week, accompanied by sub-par cell phone photographs! We do what we can, thank you.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Local Booty Report: 12.7.08

So I haven't done a local booty/bounty report in a loooong time, and since I got to go to the West Seattle Farmer's Market today ALL BY MYSELF (thanks, mom!!!), I thought it was a good time to do it again.

So starting in the front left:
Rock Island Red Dried Apricots ($4) - Pipitone Farms, 160 miles
Celeriac ($3.25?)- Willie Greens Organic Farm, 43 miles
Tall Grass Bakery Bread ($5.25) 13 miles
2 bunches Collard Greens ($5) - Willie Greens Organic Farm, 43 miles

Back row:
1 bunch Baby Carrots with tops ($2.50) - Whistling Train Farm, 25 miles
1 (lb?) bag braising greens ($4) - Willie Greens Organic Farm, 43 miles
2 Heart of Gold Winter Squash ($3?)- Whistling Train Farm, 25 miles
1 12 oz bottle Hazelnut Oil ($13) - Holmquist Hazelnut Orchard, 118 miles
Total: $40

Not a bad local haul! I'm forecasting some smoky collards in my future, probably with some biscuits and gravy. Because, you know, it's been a while.

I've never had celeriac before, so I'll be researching some recipes on that one. Any tips or recipes would be mucho appreciated!

I'm totally stoked about the bag of braising greens! I used to buy an non-organic Trader Joe's product like these almost weekly, back when we lived 2 miles from TJs. Even though they need some washing, it's totally nice to have all the greens stemmed and chopped already. Gooooo, greens!

The dried apricots are sooooo good! In the past, we've purchased their dried peaches and sun-dried tomatoes, which are also awesome. But dried apricots will always have a special place in my heart as my favorite dried fruit. I'm forseeing some appearing in my hot cereal this week!

Oh, and this is the first time I've ever purchased (or eaten?) hazelnut oil. It is divine! I love hazelnut flavor, and this stuff is delicious. I ate some (a lot) of the Tall Grass Bakery bread dipped in some of this golden goodness, and although the first bite is kind of aggressive, it really mellows with repeated application. I can't wait to try cooking with it! I'm thinking the braising greens would do just fine with it. And it will probably make an appearance as part of a salad dressing as well.

Some Foods I've Eaten...

Curried Acorn Squash Soup
Ok, remember a few posts ago when I was dissing all squash soups? I decided to take it as a personal challenge to make one that was actually satisfying. And I think I did it!

2 cups of roasted acorn squash (scooped out of the shell)
2-3 C stock
1-3 tsp madras curry powder
1/4 C cashew cheese
Juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

I had leftover roasted acorn squash from the other night, and I threw that in there with water and the curry powder and started heating it through. But it was too thin and I threw in some lime juice and more salt (and more curry powder). It was better and brighter, but still thin. I almost added coconut milk, but I was afraid that a) I would waste the rest of the can and b) that it would thin it out too much. What to do?!? I finally settled on stirring in some cashew cheese. And it was totally the right thing to do! I pureed it with my immersion blender and tasted it: It was creamy, spicy and sooo comforting. My curry powder is Madras style curry powder, I bought it at Market Spice at Pike Place Market. Your mileage my vary, depending on the type/age of your curry powder, so, you know, add it to taste like the salt. :)

I don't have a picture (which is probably a good thing), but I also made a Chocolate Bundt Cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking and topped it with Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting (using the Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting recipe from JoVB). It got off to a rocky start, because the cake stuck to the bundt pan and thus looked reallly crappy once reassembled. It was super soft and luscious, but didn't hold together all that well. When I got the cake cut and put on plates, it was NOT at all aesthetically pleasing - kind of like garbage on a plate. BUT! Don't judge this book by it's cover! Because it was soooo unbelievably delicious. The chocolate hazelnut frosting was crazy delicious. I used some oregon-made hazelnut-hemp butter instead of peanut butter, and it was fabulous. Make it! Now!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Butterfly Award and Yummy Asian Food!

So one of the memes that's been on my backlog has been accepting this Butterfly Award from the lovely Bethany of Spotted Devil Cat and His Vegan Assistant. Thank you, Bethany! I am so glad we have found each other (at least virtually) in this wonderland that is Seattle. We have to get together soon to plot our pantry stockings, discuss SF and break down the latest PCC Cooks Class. (BTW, I saw that the new catalog of classes comes out December 27!!! I can't WAIT!!!)

Anyway, Thank You Bethany!

(1) post about the award,
(2) link back to the person that nominated you
(3) place the award on your sidebar
(4) choose 10 blogs that you think are really cool, link to them, contact each person and talk about why you think their blogs are cool

Ok, since I'm kind of late in the game and my blogosphere tends to be a somewhat closed loop, I'm only going to nominate five bloggers. Without further ado:

Adventures in Vegetarianism - To my MDC buddy, Carrie. I think we started down the road to veganism around the same time and I loved seeing how your family transitioned to it! I love the kid-friendly recipes you provide and most especially your gorgeous CUPCAKES!!! :)

happyveganface - I think she's already been nominated, but I'm still saying Jessy is rad and hilarious and uber enthusiastic and ALWAYS puts me in a better mood! Thanks for the inspiration, Jessy!

One Green Generation - I don't often comment on this blog, but I am always learning amazing things from Melinda. She is also in Seattle, and she's compiled a wealth of information on eating locally here. Thanks so much for your words of wisdom, Melinda!

Vegan Food; More Than Tofu and Sprouts! - To Tofu Mom, another Seattle-ish (vegan!) blogger. I love reading about your delicious recipes and about your fabulous kids! Keep it coming! I'm so glad to have found your blog!

Vegetarian Adventure - Another fellow blogger that I found just as I (and I think she) was going vegan! I'm so happy to share your journey! Your food is always gorgeous and I can never thank you enough for that black bean quinoa salad! I miss your posts! But I completely understand the need to take a break.

That's all for this installation of meme-catch-up!!

Oh, I did want to mention that after picking up my parents from the Amtrak station we checked out this restaurant called Moonlight Cafe. I had read reviews of it (thank goodness - I never in a MILLION years would have tried it just by driving by) and it sounded awesome - separate vegan menu, but with a full meat-y menu for my crybaby dad! It couldn't have been more awesome. The food was delicious, the service was fast and the price was right. The sesame "beef" and vegan eggrolls were outrageous. I can't wait to go back and try a million other things! So local folks, take note: Try Moonlight Cafe!!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dark Days Post #2 (week 3)

Yep, I'll be up-front: I've been slacking. Sick. Sick with sick kid. Bitter. Tired. Semi-depressed. And blogging has not been my number one priority. You know how it is.

So I missed last week's Dark Days Challenge, mostly due to the fact that I was with family all week and my dad is the WORLD'S BIGGEST CRYBABY about food. So much so that it's almost impossible to find a place that we can all eat in comfortably. So there was a LOT of eating out at random places and no cooking in, except for T-day, where despite my best efforts, almost nothing we ate was local. I actually kind of missed 4 years of thankgsivings alone, just because then I had total control over the menu. Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy being with my family(they went out of their way to veganize a LOT of standards) and everything was delicious, but I made almost none of it (just vegan pumpkin pie and the soy-seitan roast and some mushroom gravy) and none of it was local. Or if it was, it was completely accidental. Arg.

And that's the end of this installment's complaining. I told you I've been in a bad mood! Here's the food.

Dark Days Meal #2:
(Starting at 7 o'clock): Balsamic Roasted Tofu and Veggies, Kale Chips, Yukon Gold and Purple Potato Squashers, and Roasted Acorn Squash with Roasted Garlic

Sorry for the pathetic photo, but I couldn't find our camera and this was taken with the cell phone. Awesome.

So this meal was ok. We have a LOT of local squash left, and I've been looking for innovative ways to eat it, but I'm just not inspired by what I find. And am I the only person on the planet who is 100% bored by squash soup? It's like there's no there there. So, this acorn squash was roasted, mixed with roasted garlic cloves, some Earth Balance and some cinnamon and salt. It needed a LOT more salt, but I for one was too lazy to remedy the situation.

The tofu was good - it was local tofu (from Vashon Island, woo-hoo!) that had been frozen and thawed, rendering it super spongy and meaty. I mixed it with some sliced onion, shallots, garlic and mushrooms and poured over a combo of balsamic vingear, olive oil, sugar, basil and salt. Note to self: when tofu is frozen and thawed it SOAKS UP MARINADE LIKE A SPONGE. So be sure to evenly distribute it, k? I was not so careful last night. That's ok, we gave the blander pieces to the toddler, because we know that toddlers like bland.

The kale chips were salty and oil and crispy and delicious and I had to stop myself from eating them all, as usual.

The squashers were baked for 45 minutes (with the squash/garlic) then squished, drizzled in olive oil and salt, and baked for 15 minutes, flipped and baked an additional 10 minutes. They were good, if a little cold when I got everything else on the table. Silas liked the yukon golds but not the purple potatoes. WTH? What kid doesn't like purple food!?

Anyway, this meal was not a total loss, but nothing I'd necessarily try to replicate. If anyone has any good (vegan) uses for leftover pureed acorn squash, I'm all ears.

Other Random Foods

This was a curry I made several weeks ago using Soy Curls for the first time. I have to say, I'd give them a 2.5/5 stars. I don't know, I may have made too many, but the flavor was just not that great. Any ideas, fellow vegans? Should I have marinated them?

The curry consisted of peas, potatoes, mushrooms and some curry paste from Portland - this was Panang flavored. I like it but I want it to be MORE - I used about 3x the recommended amount and it wasn't even hot. I don't get it. Can being depressed make everything bland? What about boredom? Can that make everything bland?

Ugh, I'm putting this post out of it's misery. I promise to be in a better mood next time. And memes. More memes. Really. Don't forsake me now.