Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Shameless Plug, but Please Pay it Some Mind

My friend Brandon is the director of this organization called Amizade which is headquartered here in Pittsburgh.  They do so much good work around the world -- their web site doesn't actually spend the time it should tooting its own horn.  One of the big things they do is help people have access to clean water by building water tanks so that people -- in particular, women and children -- don't have to walk miles every day to get clean water.  They are a service-oriented group whose primary interest is in being a good global citizen.  I admire their work very much.  Also, you may remember Brandon from this entry!

That said, for the next 48 hours, you can donate $50 without paying anything or doing much.  The company that prints their t-shirts is giving $200k to whatever charity folks nominate.  PLEASE, if you're awesome, do this.  The money you manage to get donated to them makes a huge difference!  Also, it puts them in the runnning to win another $50K.  Money like that would absolutely change what this group could do in the world for the better (giving them the ability to do so much more).  I've heard Brandon fighting on the phone with corporations about air fares and so forth.  Please do this!

1.  Click this: http://apps.facebook.com/gildanisupportcontes/contests/91387/voteable_entries
2.  Click "Submit Your Own Entry to nominate Amizade, then you will have to allow the Gildan app to access your Facebook.  I promise they won't do anything evil and you can uninstall the app after the contest is over (in two days).
3.  Fill out the entry form, nominate (+submit your own entry) Amizade Global Service-Learning.  Here you can write about why you support this organization.  I did this, but I inderstand if you don't want to.  However, read their web site (linked above).  This is a group that only does good, and they really deserve recognition and support.  For some reason, they also want you to upload a picture of yourself.  I didn't do that, though.  What you write helps the judges decide to whom to give that extra $50k.
4.  Vote and leave comments!  You can vote for the other things Amizade are nominated for.
5.  Now -- and this is important!!!  A gift card will come in your email.  Mine was in the spam folder on gmail.  And it doesn't happen immediately!  You'll get it within a few hours.  It'll say something about a "Gildan Good Card" in the subject, I think.  Click the link in the email, search for Amizade, Ltd, and enter your promo code. 

Presto!  You've done your good deed for the day!  For real, you know I'm not really the "promote stuff" kind of a person, but I really feel that THIS is worth it.  It's only a little annoying, and you're giving $50 to a service organization that can really, really use it.  It ends at the end of this month, though.  Do it today, and pass it along to your friends.

And thank you thank you thank you thank you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cornucopia or She Who Dies with the Most Extracts Wins

Dude, I did it again.  I almost went an entire month without posting.  I have no excuse, really, except that it's too hot to put the laptop on my lap in my living room.  Well, I guess I'm just gonna have another long-ass post. 

Cooking this summer has involved a lot more of trying to use up what I've got on hand than it did during summers without a CSA.  I also have a tomato and a basil plant for the first time in my life.  It's crazy.  You open my fridge and there's a damn cornucopia in there -- not to mention bright red home-brewed pomegranate iced tea.  Actually, right after my last shopping trip, I took a picture of SOME of my veggies (and fruits).
OK, most of that didn't come from the CSA.  But the zucchini, little carrot you can see on the left, peppers on the right, little red onion, and many other things which are not pictured all DID come from the CSA.  This picture is actually getting a little ahead of myself.  I haven't even taken pictures of that I made with these yet.  Let's go back, oh, say, two to three weeks, shall we?

So, remember I made that BBQ sauce for the BBQ seitan Cheater Mac?  Well, I still had a bunch leftover, and, of course, tons of zucchini.  So I grilled some pressed tofu and sliced zucchini and served it over rice.  I also had a CSA tomato that was starting to get past its due, so I made what I call "Lazy Bruschetta."  There's no proper recipe for this simple thing.  Toast some bread, wipe a clove of garlic over the top of it, chop up a tomato pretty lazily and put it on top.  Spray or drizzle a bit of olive oil, some salt, some pepper, grab a basil leaf from the porch and chop it and put it on top -- viola!  Lazy, lazy.  But delicious.

I was craving scrambled tofu so I bought some mushrooms, because I really enjoy mushrooms in it.  Also included: onions and peppers.  Ate it for breakfast along with -- guess what?  Zucchini!  Yep.  I just had them fried and reheated them in the microwave or ate 'em cold.

So, then, I had mushrooms leftover.  Not that I ever allow any part of a mushroom go to waste -- I save every stem, every unused bit in my freezer to make mushroom stock later.  But still, I had some leftover mushrooms, and the summer had decided to not be too hot a few weekends ago, so I thought I'd make pizza.  I made, almost exactly, Isa Pizza from Vegan with a Vengeance.  The only thing I didn't make was sauce because I had a jar of sauce I wanted to use.  And also, I had mushrooms and CSA tomatoes, so I put them on top.  But the crust, the pesto, the tofu ricotta -- all from the book.

I had an issue, though.  I never made her pesto before, and it calls for a teaspoon and a half of coarse salt.  It practically ruined the pizza.  I think it needs half as much -- of fine salt.  I ended up picking the pesto off most of it when I ate it.  It looks cool, though, don't you think?

Not sure if you guys have heard, but did you know that she who dies with the most extracts wins?  That's why I decided to purchase a variety of extracts off Amazon.com.  I was already a woman whose pantry you would look into and be like, "Wow, you have a lot of extracts."  But now I think I win!
What really motivated me to want all these extracts was ice cream.  Think of all the ice cream, people!  Oh em gee!!  Now, ever since I was a little kid, I have loooooved cherry.  I think all little kids like cherry.  It's red, and it's sweet.  And as a youngster living in Philly, we lived right by a water ice place.  A what place?, you ask.  I've learned since moving to Pittsburgh that only Philadelphians call water ice "water ice"(which they pronounce "wooder ice").  Everyone else calls it "Italian ice."  But it's NOT Italian ice!  That's actually something different -- less sweet, more icy, less juicy.  Water ice is what Rita's sells besides ice cream.  What does Rita's call it?  Someone find that out for me, will you?  It's vegan, it's really good, and as a kid, we'd walk over and get some, not from Rita's, but from a real Philly place.  Oh, I tried all the flavors.  But I always returned to cherry, because I love me some cherry.

Now, when I say that I love me some cherry, I mean ALL cherry.  I love bing cherries, I love cherries on the bottom of my soy yogurt, I love maraschino cherries even though for some reason people say that they're basically poison (don't know why).  So I was super-excited to get cherry extract so I could make vanilla bean cherry ice cream with both real cherries and extract.  I used a tablespoon for two batches of the Veganomicon-style ice cream (I always make two batches because what is the point of using half a box of silken tofu?), and it was a bit much.  The extract is really expensive, and the bottles very tiny, and I'd say that 1/2 a tablespoon in two batches would do the trick next time.  However, I am really not complaining.  It is sooooo good!  It tastes like what, in Philly, they call a "gelato" -- where you put cherry water ice in with vanilla ice cream and it's so good that you freak out.  Except the two flavors are already mixed.  And vegan.  I toasted some coconut to sprinkle on top along with chocolate chips (chocolate cherry, OMG).  And, I'm not gonna lie, I used some food coloring in the ice cream.

Unfortunately, you can't really see the chunks of cherry in there.  So good.  I'm gonna go eat some in a minute, but first I want to just put a question out there.  So Rita's, and Petrucci's, and all other water ice places, they all make (or, umm, get shipped) cherry water ice.  And it's not overly expensive, either.  And the flavoring is exactly like this extract.  So, what I want to know is, what are they using?  Is it an extract liquid?  Where can I get some?  This stuff is too expensive!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Picnic Sandwiches at Home, Zucchini Bread for a Road Trip

For a long time now, I've been wanting to make Vegan Yum Yum's Picnic Sandwiches.  They just looked so good to me, and the idea of their epic portability reminded me of road trips and summer, and everything about them just seemed grand.  A sandwich that is MEANT to be wrapped in plastic or foil and saved for later -- wow!  Just the concept floors me.  It's got fried zucchini, a sun-dried tomato/toasted pine nut blend, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach.  All on French bread (or, you know, on whatever bread you dig).  Doesn't that sound soooooo good?

It is soooooo good.  But before I'd even tried it, I'd determined that it was the perfect thing for me to make to repay a minor debt I owed.  See, at work, I take the Thursday lunch orders, then order it.  Most people in the office are good about giving me their order in time.  But one attorney -- who happens to be my favorite -- often doesn't.  And then, at the last minute, I'll bug him about it, and he'll say, "Just get me something vegetarian!"  See, that's rad.  No one else in the office is like that at all.  But he wants to eat healthy, and to him, that means vegetarian.  That's not something you hear a lot of these days, I find.  One day, though, I talked with him about ordering him some mushroom quesadillas from the place we'd be going the next day.  Thursday rolled around, though, and he was out of the office.  The schedule had him at depos all day.  So I didn't order the quesedillas.  He came in pretty late, like 4 PM, and he was kinda upset about it.  I felt bad, and I told him I'd bring him something one day to make up for it, something he'd love.  And knowing his tastes, and its portability, I thought this sandwich would be perfect.  I wanted it to be something that didn't seem too difficult, either, because, you know, it's a work politeness thing, not anything creepy.

It was perfect!  He loved it, and so did I, and we had a long conversation about how to make it and how the local restaurants could do so much better with vegetarian cooking, and how his whole family loves zucchinis and can't agree on how they should be prepared each day.  Two days later, using the other half of my loaf of French bread, I decided to make them again when my friend Mary came over to my newly clean (yay!) apartment for dinner, because they were really that good.  I also made Vegan Yum Yum's Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta just because I had to prune my basil or it wouldn't grow a ton of new leaves like I want it to so that I can make tons of pesto and freeze it all winter.  I've made this pasta before, and now I have a bit of advice about it.  Don't put any of the water it calls for into it unless you need it.  My farmers market tomatoes were really juicy, and it didn't need the 1/4 cup water called for, but I just did it on autopilot like a cooking robot and I regretted it instantly.  It was still good, although not as good as it would have been with a bit of wine in it, like the recipe calls for if it needs more moisture.  Wine is better than water.  That's why Jesus turned water into wine: better sauces.  Trust me.

I put some salad on the side with CSA lettuce and cucumbers, and also some Bacos, the best vegan product ever!  Actually it's an imitation brand of Bacos.  But I just love that these crunchy processed bacon thingies are totally vegetarian.  We had a really nice summer dinner.  Eating with company, though,  I realized a problem with the idea of bringing Picnic Sandwiches on a picnic -- they require napkins.  Kinda messy.  Not horribly messy, not falling apart, but a bit drippy.  So please, consider that this entry's PSA.  Bring napkins on your picnic with Picnic Sandwiches!  And remember, nature smiles when you use cloth napkins.

I was still rocking the zucchini, though, from my CSA, so I made bread.  Can you believe I never made zucchini bread before?  I'm actually not sure I've ever even eaten it before!  But I'm determined that, by the end of this summer, I will make all the zucchini bread recipes I have.  This time, I made the Zucchini Poppy Seed Muffins in 500 Vegan Recipes.  What can I say, I like bread in muffin form. 
The day after baking them, I brought them along with my friends on an outing to this incredible Krishna Temple in Wheeling, WV called Palace of Gold.  We snacked on these in the car on the way there, and everyone declared them to be "Better than Bill's."  Bill being the driver of the vehicle, who, I gotta tell you, is the most incredible pizza-maker I know, so he's no slouch.  But he does that on his grill, and he did the zucchini bread on the grill also, and apparently, it was dry.  These were good and moist, though.  It's that soy yogurt, does it every time.  And then we got to the Palace/Temple in West Virginia!
Here I am standing among their lovely rose garden, which was completely in bloom.

This is the exterior of the Palace.

These swans were just taking it easy.  On the other side of the pond, there are peacocks (and peahens too, I'd assume, although they're less flashy and noticeable).  You can see in the distance these two dancing dudes that are meaningful to Krishnas, no doubt.
There they are, don't they look happy?  All the Krishnas were weirdly nice, it was hard to not say to them, "YOU'RE CRAZY THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS GOD!" I behaved, though, even in the Temple, where they sang Hare Krishna Hare Hare Krishna Krishna -- really great tunes, actually.  I can see why people would get into singing repetitious lyrics with a crowd to these great melodies, that seems fun.

I thought you vegan types would like this.  "Krishna is pleased by caring for cows" -- right on!  I'm not sure why only cows and not other animals, but whatever.  They don't eat meat, either, although no doubt, the food there was full of ghee and milk and so on.  I ate it, though.  It was free and it seemed really wrong to take some moral stand against these people who are living with such comparatively high levels of compassion.  This is why I don't label myself as vegan, I just cook vegan myself and mostly eat what I cook.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Living So Well Eating Vegan Warrior Food

There are some recipes that really make you feel like a vegan warrior.  The kind of thing that, when you eat it, you really can't feel anything but thrilled to be ingesting such healthy and delicious food.  Among those ranks, I nominate 500 Vegan Recipes' Quinoa with Hazelnut Parsley Pesto.

First there's the pesto.  Some hazelnuts, which you have to toast (I did it in my toaster oven, not the big oven -- too energy inefficient), all blended up with parsley, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.  It's rich and vegetable-y.  Parsley tastes very, like, "Hey, I'm a plant!"  And that can be a great thing sometimes.  The pesto gets mixed into some quinoa you cook, and, like parsley, I think quinoa is the most earthy of the grains.  There is something about eating quinoa with a parsley-hazelnut pesto that makes me feel proud of myself.  Such natural food, no trying to imitate non-vegan things.  Just enjoying real food for what it is!

And then, to make everything even greater, the recipe has you cook Brussels sprouts to put on top!  Now, I've mentioned in the past about what I see as Steen and Newman's inaccurate names for recipes, and this one's got a bit of that going on.  If I were them, I would have called this "Hazelnut Parsley Pesto with Braised Sprouts" or something like that.  That is, something that mentions the Brussels sprouts.  But hey, it doesn't matter, whatever.  The point it, it's got sprouts on top cooked with wine.  They suggest only a tablespoon of sherry wine or water, and only if needed.  But in my opinion, wine is essential to making a dish like this go from ok to Wow! so I deglazed my pan with more than a tablespoon of red wine.  I also used a lot more than ten Brussels sprouts.  Ten?!?!  Deprive me much??  I wasn't going for that, and I cooked a lot more.    

So I went to this dinner party where everyone was assigned to make something.  I got assigned apple pie.  It didn't really have to be apple pie, though, it could be any kind of apple thing, just something that screamed "All American."  I'm pretty lazy about pies, so I made something I've made many times before, the Individual Heart-Shaped Gallettes from Veganomicon.  At first, I even made them heart-shaped.  But I started to actually lose my damn mind while doing it.  It was getting to be super-late at night and those hearts are hard to do!  So I started making them circles.  And I also made real vanilla bean ice cream!  I bought some vanilla beans, and I zested one into coconut milk beverage and simmered it, and then left that milk in the fridge overnight to cool, then made the vanilla ice cream recipe as directed in Veganomicon.  Amazing.  So amazing.  Vanilla beans are expensive, but sooooo worth it for ice cream.  Anyway, here's what it looked like:

My friend Erin gave me all the leftover BBQ Seitan she had made for the party, so I brought it home and added it to this Cheater Mac and Cheese from 500 Vegan Recipes I had made.  It's called "cheater" mac because you don't bake it, or even make a proper nutritional yeast sauce.  Instead, it's closer to, like, Kraft Mac'n'cheese in a box.  You boil the noodles and strain them, then add a bunch of stuff together, including a heck of a lot of Earth Balance butter.  It doesn't even look that pretty, so I didn't even plan on take pictures of it for the blog here.  But it was so good with that BBQ seitan in it, and also, I still had the tofu sour cream I'd made to make the Cheater Mac, so I decided to make a second batch of it.  This time, I took some seitan out of my freezer and whipped up some Backyard BBQ Sauce (from Veganomicon again).
And then I grilled the seitan with some peanut oil and BBQ sauce on the ol' Forman Grill, which I rarely use, but it is kinda fun to use it.
And I added the grilled seitan to the Cheater Mac and I had a real summer meal, complete with CSA-greens salad and homemade iced tea.  Damn, I live well.

And, just for good measure, here's a closer look at the BBQ seitan mac'n'cheese.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Extra-long Anniversary Addition of Food and Loathing: CSA Cooking

We'll do some time traveling again soon, but for right now, I think I'd better start updating again on the present.  If you wait too long to post about stuff you've cooked, it's already been eaten and the dishes are all washed and it loses some of its energy.  So for now, let's talk about my CSA.

This was a rough season in Pittsburgh.  Even for a really rainy place, there was a LOT of rain leading into spring.  The folks at my CSA just couldn't plant things -- it was too wet.  So it started pretty late and the shares are not very plentiful.  It's a real shame, but what can you do?  The first week I got a very small bag of mixed lettuce, a very small bit of what I think was chard, some dried mangoes (like, a handful), two little stalks of rhubarb, and one sprig of oregano, one sprig of spearmint.  There was also one green onion, isn't that funny?  What are you supposed to do with one green onion?  I used some in salad, froze the rest for broth later.

This past Wednesday, week 2, I got a tiny bit of tiny strawberries that apparently came from an Amish farm next door to the CSA's farm, a bitty bag of kale, some dates, and another sprig of spearmint.  This week, they gave me a list and it said I was also supposed to get a bag of mixed lettuce, but it was a no show in my bag.   I emailed the farm about it and they say they'll make it up to me.

Leafy greens are easy enough to use.  Eat them as salad or cook them on the stove top and enjoy, depending on the type.  And that's all I did with them -- there wasn't even enough to make recipes out of, so I cooked the chard and kale with garlic, tamari, and some water, ate the salad greens with dressing.  Here's the kale all cooked.

I wanted to do something nice with those strawberries, because they were really incredibly sweet and juicy, but there weren't a lot of them.  I also had that rhubarb a week later because I'm not experienced with rhubarb and there certainly wasn't enough of them (or of strawberries) to make any of the pie or crisp recipes I have in books.  But I figured that if rhubarb is good cooked with strawberries in pies or whatever, it's good just cooked with sugar and water as a sauce for ice cream.  I put a little bit of filtered water and a little bit of lime juice in a saucepan, added two to three tablespoons of sugar (I measured none of it), and cooked it until it was dissolved.  Then I added the chopped rhubarb and kept it simmering.  To my surprise and delight, the rhubarb completely softened.  It was so soft that I could just mush it with a spoon -- I had thought I might need to use a blender on it.  After the rhubarb started getting soft, I added the already very soft strawberries until they mushed really nicely.  I made quite a nice sweet sauce that I was super-proud of!  Having a flair for the dramatic, I added one drop of red food dye, to make it extra pretty.

After letting it sit in the fridge overnight, I made a batch of vanilla ice cream from Veganomicon.  I don't know what came over me, but for some reason, I ended up putting a bit of lemon extract in it.  I shouldn't have done that, it would be better for it to be strawberry rhubarb with vanilla ice cream, but nevertheless, it was flippin' delicious.  Better than any vegan ice cream really has the right to be, if you ask most people.  I mixed the sauce right into the ice cream, but not too thoroughly.
And here it is unperturbed in the soy yogurt container where I stored it.

So, what else?  They gave me some dates, and I still had wicked lots of dates on hand, so I decided to make the only thing I'd ever made before with tons and tons of dates in it, which is Nell's Coconut Rolls from You Won't Believe It's Vegan! by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty.  I don't use this book often.  My step-mother gave it to me after I first started cooking vegan.  But the name of it bugged me -- I was discovering in vegan cookbooks that food could be so much better if you had restrictions to make you creative.  The best cooking I'd ever done had come from vegan cookbooks.  So the implication that it was necessary to mask the vegan-ness to make you proclaim, "I can't believe it's vegan!" seemed vaguely offensive, though no doubt the title was a choice influenced by the publisher and I'm probably just being silly anyway.  I've held on to the book and I've made and handful of things from it, and really, I JUST SAID above that folks plain wouldn't believe that the ice cream was vegan.  So, here's one from the book: Nell's (delicious, simple, raw, relatively healthy) Coconut Rolls.  They are made out of dates, ground almonds (raw), coconut milk, cinnamon, and lemon juice, then rolled in coconut flakes.  I had to send a friend of mine who was just hanging out at my place to the grocery store on the corner to fetch a lemon, but I had all the rest on hand.
I used the coconut milk left on the bottom of the can I'd skimmed the fat off of to make the ice cream. Also, my almonds weren't exactly raw, they were blanched, but I really think that's much better because you don't really want the skins in these balls (it's funnier to call them "coconut balls" instead of "coconut rolls").  The way that the almonds crunch is so satisfying inside these fruity balls (tee hee)!  But I guess they're kind of an old lady thing to eat -- no added sugar, lotsa dates, all rolled up.  Seems like something you might eat to keep you regular.  But these are pretty great, and I had a difficult time parting with any of them to bring to my friends when we met up the next day, although I did manage.  And I don't know if the addition of the couple of CSA dates with the rest made any particular difference, but I'm sure that these tasted better than the last time I made them.  I'm just sure of it.

Earlier today, on July 4th, I went blueberry picking with some friends at one of those pick-your-own-berries farms.  They weren't very ripe, but we picked them anyway.  Right now, the ones I picked are on my counter in a paper bag.  I'm hoping that will do the trick.  Realizing I'd not had the chance all weekend to figure out what to cook this week, I just bought a great big zucchini in the farm's market because they're cheap and brought it home to cut up and cook in garlic, oil, and some lemon juice (I still had 1/2 lemon from having my friend fetch me one for the Coconut Rolls earlier), then I served it atop some tri-color couscous.  Not exactly a complete or complicated meal, but I would not be lying if I told you that in my former life as a person who wasn't obsessed with cooking, I used to eat couscous with any type of veggie I could get cheap (zucchini, squash, broccoli, frozen peas), often with some kidney beans thrown in, practically every day.  Ain't gourmet, but I was young.  Another of my favorites was to cook mushrooms, a pepper, and an onion together, then put it on a store-bought bun with a slice of cheese and, later, vegan cheese.  And then I got cookbooks and everything changed.

Still, sometimes you've got to give it up for a throwback.  Even if I suffered brain damage, I hope I'd remember just how to caramelize veggies and make couscous.  This was really way more advanced than my old incarnations, though, because I had tri-color couscous.  Well, ok, that doesn't change anything really, but it does make it look a little bit cooler.

Alright, I'm finally back to my old, blogging self!  I still have some trips back in time to make with you, but I am, in fact, current now.  And July 4 marks what is pretty much the one year anniversary of this blog.  My second entry was a July 4 entry.  Sing it with me, folks.  Happy birthday to blog!  Happy birthday to blog!  Happy birthday, Food and Loathing...!  Happy birthday to blog!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Back in Time pt 2: Vaguely Multicultural Food

Doctor, you know where I'd really like to take the Tardis?  To about two months ago, when I made some really delicious and totally inauthentic vaguely-multicultural food, of course.  Because, you know, who would want to travel anywhere in the universe at any point in time when you can relive a relatively recent awesome meal?  Right?  Guys?  Umm, ok, moving along...

For dinner, I made Vegan Yum Yum's Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Kale, and Carrots.

Now, I'm no vegan insider.  In fact, I'm kind of naturally an outsider.  So I don't really understand what's up with some folks on the web's dislike of Laura Ulm and her excellent cookbook, Vegan Yum Yum.  She's got two 1-star reviews on Amazon that reference recipes that are no way in the book, and have conversations following about some apparent grudges that at one time, at least, went around the vegan cooking world.  On one site I saw, a poster makes reference to Ulm's "unsavory practices."  WTF?!  Her recipes are damn savory, so I'm not so sure I care about her practices.  (Ha!  Knee slapper, that one!)  Something about recipe testers and book deals and stopping responding to emails/updating her blog.  I actually don't care at all except that I'm sad that she doesn't do food publicly anymore because she has really great taste and a super-artistic eye for pictures and making food look incredible.  A lot of people I've known with that much natural skill and talent suffer from major anxiety and/or depression, and sometimes worse.  So I withhold judgement completely and fully support this book, because it's a great one, no matter what internet controversy surrounds it.  Blah blah bullshit.

So I made Lime Peanut Noodles with Seitan, Kale, and Carrots from Vegan Yum Yum.  Worked up some seitan (I've never bought pre-made seitan, have you?), sliced some carrots and enjoyed how all the colors looked together.  Check out how pretty it looks in the pan, before the sauce and noodles were added.

Know what?  It doesn't look half bad all put together, either.  And it tastes just absolutely perfect.  Freak out good, really.

And then I made the Tahini Lime Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  Mostly because the lime peanut noodles called for lime juice and the cookies called for zest, and I don't like to waste food, so it made sense to make them together.  But I also made it because I've made them before so I knew that they kinda resembles those crumbly almond cookies from Chinese restaurants that I used to love.  Two other things the cookies resemble are halvah and Pecan Sandies.  Due to their halvah resemblance, I ended up bringing half of them to an Israeli Independence Day party I went to in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill, a neighborhood that is 40% Jewish.  I'm no Zionist, but my friend's roommates were having this party and I wasn't going to miss anything as bizarre as all that (it was hopping, too!), plus, you know, I just happened to have these oddly appropriate cookies to bring.  Everyone who tried them loved them.  And how could they not?  They're amazing!

Here is a picture of the noodles and cookies together on a plate that's actually meant for sushi.  In fact, I've only ever used this plate to take photographs of non-sushi items.  Someday I'll get down to business and roll out some veggie sushi for my friends and use these plates, though, I swear it.

It's difficult for me to explain how badly I wish I was eating this RIGHT NOW.  Doctor?  DOCTOR!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back in Time pt 1: Breakfast Every Hour

Sherman, set the WABAC machine to about two months ago when I decided to make breakfast for dinner!

I roasted some potatoes in the standard sort-of way, and I made Vegan Brunch's Classic Broccoli Quiche and Italian Feast Sausages.

As you might expect, Isa's quiche is awesome, although people who oppose tofu may not be into it.  I'm eager to make the Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon from Veganomicon just because it doesn't contain any of the standard vegan quiche ingredients -- no nutritional yeast, no tofu.  But I've made this broccoli quiche before, and I like it, so I made it again, sticking to the recipe.  And check out what a looker it is...

The Italian Feast Sausages, though, in my opinion, require a serious adjustment.  I've made them twice before.  The first time, I didn't have any fennel seeds, so I just left them out, and it was great!  The second time, I DID have fennel seeds, so I included them as instructed by the recipe -- two teaspoons.  BIG mistake.  They overwhelmed the sausages!  All crunchy with them, all throughout, it's gross!  I mean, I like fennel seeds, but I can't condone the amount included in this recipe.  I remember that I sliced the sausages pretty thinly and picked out as many fennel seeds as I could find, which was a serious pain in the ass, but it made them edible, so it was worth it.  This time, though, I put less than half the amount called for.  So, it still has some of that fennel flavor, but you're not getting a mouthful of the seeds.

I have two other changes I like to make to the preparation instructions of the sausages.  One is that I like to just double the recipe because, pray tell, what the heck am I supposed to do with half a can of white kidney beans?  So, rather than allow half a can of beans to go to waste, I just double Isa's sausage recipes, which makes you use almost the whole can.  They store well.

The other change is that, if you look at the picture below and compare it with the pics in the book, you'll notice that mine look less wet and more sausage-y.  That's because, added fat or no, I think it's a shame to not slice the sausages and and fry them in olive oil.  It just makes them so much better!

Viola!  Breakfast for dinner (and every other meal)!  I love breakfast, and I've made probably half the recipes in Vegan Brunch.  Great book, even if some of the recipes don't strike me as even remotely "breakfast" (Courico Tacos with Grilled Pineapple Salsa, Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm not dead!!

I'll bet you guys thought this was an abandoned blog.  Well, no such luck, haters!  I'm baaaaaaack!

So, here's what happened.  At my old apartment, I didn't have an internet router, but I could still manage to watch Netflix Watch Instantly on my TV at the same time as having my computer out, updating my blog.  This is because I could steal the internet out of the air somehow.  It wasn't super-strong, but it was strong enough to post a little blog entry.  OR, I posted at work.

Well, at my new apartment, I still didn't have an internet router, but there also wasn't internet in the air to steal.  So using my computer would mean unplugging my internet out of the Roku and plugging it into my computer, and also not being able to watch dumb TV while I typed.  So I never did it.  Plus, I can't update my blog at my new job.  They monitor that shit.

But two awesome things happened tonight that changed everything.  One is that my CSA started, and I went to pick it up.  If I don't write about that, I can pretty much hang up my vegan blogger hat for the rest of my life.  But, more importantly, after going to Shadyside to pick up my CSA share, I went to a stranger's home in Shadyside to pick up a totally free internet router!!!!  Have you guys ever heard of Freecycle?  I absolutely LOVE me some Freecycle.  I've gotten so much stuff I desperately needed, and given out so much stuff that's been sitting around my apartments for years.  Google it, along with your area.  Like, if you're in Pittsburgh, google "Pittsburgh Freecycle."  Find yours!  It's so worth it.

I'll get to food posting again now.  Not now, now, like right-this-second now, but soon now.  I have a lot of stuff I've made in the last two months that I could write about!  But in the real now, I'll leave you with something I saw in Shadyside tonight.

Hey, you said it, not me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pine Nuts for Dinner, Pine Nuts for Dessert

Because I have no choice but to limit all my spending, including (but not limited to) food spending, deciding what to prepare means a lot of looking through my shelves and seeing what I’ve already got on hand to use.  As luck would have it, I need not feel poor because I’ve got plenty of one of the very most expensive ingredients I ever use: pine nuts.  See, for my birthday in December of 2009, my step-mother got me a huge bag of them from Costco – a gift that delighted and thrilled me!  I’ve kept them in my freezer ever since, because I understand they spoil if left out.

I found two recipes in 500 Vegan Recipes that use pine nuts and wouldn’t require me to buy too much.  One was the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and the other was the Maple Pine Nut Bars.  All I had to get at the grocery store was basil, dates, and soy yogurt.  I had everything else, and was happy to have extra soy yogurt to mix with fruit and enjoy at lunch.  Oh yeah, I also bought some Italian bread to drizzle with olive oil and toast, to use as a vehicle for the dip.

The dip is simple enough – oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, fresh garlic, basil, olive oil, cashews, and pine nuts, all whizzed through the food processor.  For those of you who care about that sort of thing (not me), it’s raw, since my cashews are raw.  Here’s a picture of the bread with the dip, which is not a very photogenic thing.  That’s why I put it on a leaf plate.  Not because it’s fall-themed or anything, just because I figure anyone who sees it will be like, “If it’s on a plate like that, it’s GOT to be good!”  That’s what you’re thinking, right?  Right?  Guys?

The Maple Pine Nut Bars are an interesting creature.  Authors Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman call them “bars,” but it really isn’t a recipe for a bar.  It’s cake.  Definitely cake.  I’d call it a coffee cake, and certainly, a lot of vegan coffee cake recipes do, like this one, call for soy yogurt.  It’s a good, sophisticated coffee cake.  The dates and pine nuts certainly do make me feel all growed up.  I could see my aunts enjoying this cake a lot.  I don’t know why I pick my aunts over any other type of person who is a generation older than I am, but I’m sticking with it.  For some reason, I really imagine that any of my aunts would greatly enjoy this maple, cinnamon, nutmeg, date, and pine nut treat.  Maybe because they drink coffee?  I don’t know.  This is good, though, especially with coffee, and if I were one of those awesome, artistic food bloggers who was smart enough to plan, the following picture would probably have some coffee next to it, or maybe, like, some coffee beans artfully scattered.  Too bad, though!  You're at my blog, you just get coffee cake on a plate.

I guess that a woman really shouldn’t survive on bread and dip and cake alone (although I contend that it’s not a bad living), and as soon as I get my tax refund (I filed on the very last possible day, pretty much at the last possible moment, basically because I couldn’t find all the various W2’s I got for last year, which got all shuffled around in my move), I’ll have a bit more dough to make complete, healthful meals.

Here’s something unrelated, but it’s on my mind sometimes reading other cooking blogs: how the heck do you get to be a cookbook recipe tester?? Allow me to put on my whining hat on for a moment. I wanna be a cookbook tester! Why do other people get to and I never do! No fair! I’m sure that it’s just because I don’t actually know anyone who is coming out with a book, nor do I engage in online forums. But I would be such a good recipe tester. I like to cook from books, I’m happy to try new things, I cook all the time, and I think that I give useful feedback. So, hey, if you know anyone who is making a vegan cookbook, I really, really, really, really want to test the recipes. Did I mention really?  One more time: really.  Just putting that out there. Ask and ye shall receive, or whatever. I'm actually not asking for anything, just offering my services, for what they're worth.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventures in Stirring

I made a really, really delicious meal that a lot of people would probably say lacked a main course.  It was risotto atop kale.  The kale was cooked how I almost always cook my greens -- with garlic, water, and tamari.  The risotto is a slightly-altered recipe from Crescent Dragonwagon's (no, I did NOT make that name up, stop looking at me that way!) Passionate Vegetarian, Risotto with Green Beans, Garlic, and Sage, which is on page 489 of that tome of a book.  I didn't want to buy sage, so I just left it out and also, obviously, I didn't put any Parmesan cheese in at the end.  Plus, she directs you to make it in a pressure cooker, and not only do I not own one, but I'm actually not 100% certain I know what one is.  So I just made it in the classic way of risotto -- cooking away the wine once the rice is coated with it, adding ladlefuls of veggie broth over top, and stirring, stirring stirring.

You know, people make a lot of this business of stirring risotto, acting like it's a real pain in the patootey, a true hardship.  But it's really no big deal.  Maybe if you had to stir it and it seemed like nothing was happening, it would feel like the watched pot that never boils.  But risotto has this satisfying way of progressing visibly, and quickly.  They say it takes about twenty minutes, and sure, that sounds about right, but those twenty minutes just fly by while you stir, whistle a happy little tune, watch My So-Called Life on Netflix Watch Instantly, and so forth.
Furthermore, a friend of mine wrote a blog entry where I learned that, apparently, people really struggle to make risotto well.  That's never been the case for me and, frankly, I call bullshit.  Just get some arborio rice (obviously), stir, use a lot of garlic, use onion but don't overdo it, don't forget salt, use the lowest temperature that still has the broth simmering, and there's no problem, folks.  No need for panic.  Keep calm!  It's just fancy rice we're talking about here.

And this fancy rice is so amazingly tasty served with some tamari-infused kale, you'll be craving it.  In fact, I'm tempted to make the exact same dish again after I'm finished my leftovers.  The biggest problem with food blogging is the way that it can hold you back from making repeats.  But now I've got a yen.  Maybe I'll make a different kind of risotto next week, still with kale.  Or, if I really want to shake things up, spinach!  Or I could bake some tofu to go along with it so that it won't seem to others that I'm one of those weirdos who only eats so-called "sides."  Oh, yeah, this is turning into a wild and crazy adventure now!

In other food news, I don't know about you guys, but I tend to want to snack.  And I tend to want to snack on salty junk food.  But I don't want to eat junk, really!  Plus, that stuff's expensive.  That's why I was so pleased to find that Market District sells organic popcorn kernels in their bulk bins.  Score!  Now that's some cheap, unprocessed (until I add my own processed stuff) junk food I can get down with!  I just put some Earth Balance in my big saucepan, add kernels, heat it on high, shake the pan around to cover the kernels with butter as it melts, then watch and listen for them to finish popping, which is kinda fun!  But if you've got a problem with stirring risotto, I'm not sure this will work out too great for you either.  It really doesn't take long, though.  I just pour them into a bowl, add salt, and sprinkle in a nice amount of nutritional yeast.
Now, I've made my fair share of "cheese" using nutritional yeast, with vary degrees of success, but let me tell you, it is just perfect on popcorn.  I'm not one of these people who simply hasn't eaten real cheese in so long that I don't remember what it tastes like.  I've had processed popcorn with cheesy whatever-the-f-that-s-is on it on occasion, at parties and the like.  This tastes exactly like it -- exactly! -- yet, it's got no animal products, saves you like a million calories (that was meant to be said like Sher from Clueless), and is made out of some mysterious, magically delicious collaboration of vitamins.  Honestly, I don't know exactly what nutritional yeast is or how it's made, but I think I'll just undergo a religious conversion right now and say that's it's a miracle.

In other, other food news, I subscribed to a CSA for this summer!  It starts in early to mid-June and goes for twenty weeks.  I chose one that had a mini-share for "one adult who dines in half of the time."  I dine in more than half of the time but that sounds perfect anyway.  I couldn't be more excited about it!  Trying to find ways to prepare different vegetables, not choosing, just getting what's in season.  Why, it's almost as much of an adventure as risottos and greens!  Doesn't my life just sound unbearably exciting?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Surviving Diabetes to Eat Pesto and Cookies

Diabetes is trying to kill me.  Seriously.  It’s out to put me in the grave.  

The problem with living healthy with type 1 diabetes is that if you keep your blood sugar where it is supposed to be, which is between around 90 and 120, you’re a lot closer to having low blood sugar than someone whose blood sugars perpetually run high – over 120.  And you don’t want high blood sugars.  Those will kill you too, and, in fact, that’s how most diabetics bite it.  It’s easy to let your blood sugars run high, but it causes all kinds of problems: kidney failure, blindness, loss of feeling to your feet, etc etc.  You want to keep your sugars down.  But when you do that, you’re going to have some lows.  It’s unavoidable!  Really, low blood sugar is a side effect of having GOOD blood sugars.

But these lows are trying to kill me.  A week ago, my blood sugar was low in the morning when my alarm went off.  In the confusion that accompanies low blood sugar, I must have turned off my alarm and went back to sleep.  Work was a’callin’, and the phone woke me up.  But I was confused.  I didn’t understand what time it was.  I didn’t understand how to get dressed.  Nothing made sense.  Suddenly it occurred to me that I should maybe drink some juice.  I did so, but, for some reason, my confusion didn’t really disperse with the rising sugar.  Rather, I succumbed to the WORST MIGRAINE EVER.  I went into work, feeling totally convinced I wasn’t late, because my brain just wasn’t working.  But I realized on my way in that it didn’t feel like 8:30, it felt like, well, 11 AM. 

When I got in, work thought I must have died or something.  I tried to explain myself, but I found that I couldn’t form words properly.  Nonsense was coming out.  Even though my blood sugar wasn’t low anymore!  It’s like the low blood sugar permanently killed off some of my brain cells.  And the migraine – the migraine!  Work talked to me for about 5 minutes before easily deciding I clearly wasn’t well and sending me home.  I got on the bus and felt so physically ill from the headache that when I got OFF the bus, I threw up on the ground.  Excellent.  I returned home and napped all day with my cat.

At 4:00 PM, I got up, still dying from a migraine, and decided to go to the grocery store to go food shopping and get some Excedrin.  Actually, after taking lots of pills throughout the day, and doing a ton of napping, that Excedrin actually made the migraine lift.  Alright!  Time to cook!

I made the Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto from Appetite for Reduction.  I think it’s a really clever idea, edamame pesto.  But it tastes, well, kinda plain.  I decided to add some jarred roasted red peppers to it to spice it up.  Only I think they went bad.  The texture was too soft, they fell apart.  That’s a pity, because I think that would have been good.  It was OK, though, because I used the oldest trick in the book (and, actually, Isa hilariously refers to this trick on page 19, saying, “Bored with fresh, healthy food?  Well, add a little excitement by burning your tongue off!”): I added hot sauce.  And, y’know, that’s delicious!  I’d totally eat this recipe again with hot sauce added.  But I’d like to try my first instinct also, the roasted red peppers.  

Before you look at this picture, can I just say that I haven't quite figured out the best way to take pictures of food in my new kitchen yet?  I can't seem to find that ol' sweet spot, where the light shines shinier and the pictures pic pickier... or something.  I'll get better eventually, though, I promise!

After that work fail, I thought I should bring in some cookies.  So, on Monday, I used a tried and true recipe: Banana Everything Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  You can’t go wrong with these.  They’re totally delicious, and they don’t have any classic allergens, except wheat, but wheat is to be expected.  No soy, though, nothing at all “weird” to warn people about.  I didn’t tell anyone at work that they’re vegan until after they had compliments lavished upon them.  I got the classic questions: What did you use for eggs? and Are they healthy?  Bananas are nature’s egg!  You know, after eggs.  And, yeah, actually, they are kinda healthy, relatively speaking.  But, you know, they’re cookies, not Brussels sprouts, what can I say?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eating on the Cheap

I've been eating on the cheap because moving, failing to get my old security deposit back and having to pay a new one, spending two weeks without a job, driving back and forth, and making less money than I used to for the first three months of my job has all got me broke, broke, broke.  Since I don't own that book Vegan on the Cheap, I made recipes out of another cheap vegan book, Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein.

So, let's see, it needed to be something I wouldn't have to buy a lot of ingredients for, and maybe two recipes that would use some of the same things so nothing would go to waste.  Got it!  Curried Roasted Carrot Soup with Coconut and Coconut-Curried Portobello Mushrooms with Basmati Rice.  All I had to buy was some scallions, cilantro, portobello mushrooms, a little bit of ginger, and a bag of baby carrots.  I buy coconut milk in bulk from Amazon.com, and I always have rice and garlic and chickpeas.

So the mushroom and rice was pretty darn good, but I have some issues, which has nothing to do with the recipe.  One is that, I don't know, I think my basmati rice might not be a very good kind.  Or maybe it's because it's not made in a rice maker?  I don't know, but it's, like, too chewy.  It's brown basmati -- the only kind they used to sell at Giant in Phoenixville, but I hear there's a pretty good Indian grocery store in Oakland here in Pittsburgh, and I kind of think it might be time to try some different rice.  Along similar lines, I'm also not thrilled with my curry powder.  I actually used the last of it for these recipes, so it's OK for me to make a trip to the Strip District, where there is a store that sells nothing but spices.  NOTHING BUT SPICES.  Isn't that amazing?  I want a nice, hot curry.  Maybe madras?  I'm not sensitive to spiciness. 

But let's talk about the soup -- can we talk about this soup??  Wow!  Best. Soup. Ever.  I know that's a pretty extreme thing to say, but it's true.  You know, there's a fairly similar recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance for a carrot/coconut soup, called "Carrot Bisque," but this is far better.  First of all, the carrots are roasted, not fried, and holy moly, that's a better way to do it.  And I did it with my new gas oven, too, and it was really ever-so-pleasing, and they roasted so evenly and thoroughly.  Plus, this has fewer carrots but the same amount of the other ingredients.  And a tablespoon of mango chutney and, wow, that's good.  I enjoyed every bit of that soup.  I licked the container I'd stored it in.  You should make it, because you deserve it, don't you think?

I also baked for the first time at my apartment, although it wasn't too great.  The Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur.  
I'm not a good liar, so I'll just tell you straight out, I didn't use freshly grated lemon zest.  Instead, I used dehydrated lemon zest, which you add some water to rehydrate.  And maybe that's why these aren't amazing.  But I'm pretty sure they're just not really amazing.  I don't know.  Maybe a little lemon extract would help also.  I'm not really sure.  Maybe I'm just being a pooh-pooher.  They're not bad cookies.  They're just not amazing.  But definitely, I need to try some of Kelly Peloza's more fancy cookies, instead of making the easy stuff that for which I already have all the ingredients on hand.  But then again, that's not eating on the cheap, now is it?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kitchen Navel-Gazing and Blogger Award Copping Out

Food and Loathing is dead.  Long live Food and Loathing!

Yes, so it's officially official, I've relocated.  When I first started the blog in Phoenixville, I actually intended it to be more about that town than about food.  But I find that what drives me to keep wanting to write entries is that it has a food focus, so if I don't think I can write about what happens in my life in my town in an interesting way, I know I can at least write about cooking. 

Of course, this is problematic during this time when I've been the laziest eater ever.  Moving is rough, it really is.  It'll make you broke, that's for sure.  I'm fairly settled in now, though, and I think it might be time to get excited about my new kitchen.

Looking for an apartment, it was an absolute requirement that the kitchen be kinda big.  I'm not talking about a restaurant-sized-suburban-kitchen-with-an-island-in-the-middle big.  Honestly, I wouldn't want to do that much walking to take my wok from my shelf to my stove.  I just mean city-apartment big.  A separate room.  If I were a person who could draw diagrams, and also a person who had a scanner, I'd draw you a diagram of the tinyness of my old place.  Just try to understand this, though.  It had a small living room, and one of the four walls in that living room had a fridge, a sink, two counter spaces in a row, then a stove.  That was my kitchen space -- in my extraordinarily crowded living room.  It was really convenient for watching Netflix while cooking, though, I have to admit.

But this kitchen, to me, is a dream!  I lovely dream, I tell you!  A real thing of beauty.  So, while I don't have any pictures of food I've cooked because I've been eating crap, I do have pictures of my kitchen, which I actually can't help but think posting makes me a bit too much of a navel-gazer.  Ok, fine, I'm a modern self-centered blogger who LITERALLY thinks you want to hear what I ate for breakfast this morning.  Isn't it funny for food bloggers that this idea of posting what you ate for breakfast is THE foremost cliche about the problem with social networking?  And yet, food blogs are very popular.  Food blogs and Daylin Leach's blog are, in fact, the only blogs I read.  So.  You can go fuck yourself, conventional wisdom!  Let's hear what we had for breakfast this morning, all!  Especially if it was either something amazing or something hilariously bad.

Anywayyyy... my new kitchen!

Look, a bar that separates the kitchen from the living room!  Isn't that so exciting?  It's just random extra counter room that also allows you to STILL WATCH NETFLIX IN THE LIVING ROOM.  Or, you know, listen to a podcast while washing dishes.  Don't make me say it again.  This American Life.  The best way to wash your dishes when you...

...no longer have a dishwasher.  But hey, that's OK!  Look at the size of that sink!  Seriously, that's the biggest sink I ever had, and it's not gross, it's nice.  I could not do dishes for a month with that thing!  But I won't, I swear.  And, you know, people say that an electric dishwasher is less wasteful than hand washing, but I must say, I respectfully disagree.  I've watched other people hand wash dishes, and they're wasteful.  It's bad.  Everyone I've watched just lets the water run all the time while they're not using the stream and I can't believe it!  I always turn it off when I'm not directly using it, even if it's just for a moment.  I'm totally used to the constant on/off.  It's not that difficult to get used to.  The dishwasher uses way more water (if you wash my way, or even better, with a sink bucket or two), and also, it uses electricity.  So, the moral of this lecture is, I'm happy to not have a dishwasher.

Also in regards to the above picture, just that was all the counter space I had in my old place.

 And look!  I can fit my little kitchen table over by a window and my back door!  I can totally, like, sit in the kitchen -- AT A TABLE -- and eat dinner!  Or enjoy it with friends.  Holy shit, I'm freakin' out.

 And that bar thing on the right, I used to have "separating" the "kitchen area" from the "living area" in my old place (all those words seriously deserved quotes) and it was filled to the very brim underneath with all kinds of food, since my cabinet space was very limited indeed, and I'm a young woman who has a great many kitchen staple foods.  But here, I have...
 A PANTRY!!!!  This has been one of my greatest kitchen daydreams for the longest time.  And, look, I don't have any spice racks here (yet), so it's pretty darn full of spices and it's disorganized and super crowded, but look, eventually, my kitchen WILL be in order.  It's just hard to decide where to put stuff with all the options.  The desire to squeeze everything into one small space is hard to get over.  It's like, first I stuff everything into my pantry, and them I'm like, hmmmm, what do I do with this cabinet?
But, OK, there's a downside to everything, and this is my new stove/oven.  And it's the first one I ever had that was gas.  No, I'm serious, guys, I've only ever had electric stoves.  And, like, I'm scared.  It's weird that the stove top can only be on max or off -- there's no such thing as "medium" heat anymore, and that's all I ever cooked on!  I need some serious advice.  Also, there are no lights on this oven at all.  Nothing that would tell you it's preheated.  Does that even really matter?  I think it probably doesn't, that if you're a baker, you'll know about how long you have to wait before you put something in the oven.  But the problem is, I've never had a gas oven, and, like, are they faster?  Slower?  I'm guessing faster.  And I guess I'm just going to have to woman up and get my ass into a kitchen store and buy an oven thermometer.  I'm none to happy about that, though.  Still, who knows what kind of a love affair I'll have with this old gas stove?  I'm sure I'll learn.

So that's my new kitchen.  Not too horrible, huh?

Now, I apologize, because this is already an extremely long entry, and if you read this long, I'm sure you're pretty well prepared to head off to some amusing link, maybe one of a toddler girl crying because she loves Justin Bieber so much.  But if you're still reading, the very kind blogger at Get Skinny, Go Vegan put me down for The Stylish Blogger Award, which seems to be a pass-along award, like where it's a chain letter except super-flattering because they picked you to pass the award onto because they dig your blog, and then maybe their readers will read you and your readers will read them and so forth.  And her description of my blog is so, like, wow, thanks.  I mean, as much as I want very much for people to enjoy what I write, I still totally blush at compliments, and what she wrote for mine was "witty, sarcastic, supergirl. yeah."  That's really nice, and makes me feel special, although I DO hope I'm wittier than I am sarcastic!  Really, though, no sarcasm, thank you for that, seriously.  But I can't pass it along!  I have not been reading any blogs recently, and, in fact, I'm barely online.  I would have to catch up on so much reading before being able to write little flattering things about each site and why I like it so much!  

Another part of this award passing along was that you list seven things about yourself.  I don't know why seven, and it doesn't seem to have any kind of specifications about what kinds of things you should list.  But, hey, who doesn't like a good list?  So I thought of seven things, with minimal explanation:
1.  It's got to be rock and roll music if you wanna dance with me.
2.  I don't think you should be having any kids.  That's right, you.
3.  I really enjoyed watching The Grammys this year.
4.  I have a lot of regrets.
5.  If you'll listen, I'll prove that there's no such thing as a god with a personality.
6.  There's something kind of weird about me, and everyone knows it.
7.  I really love the movie Rosemary's Baby, for a lot of reasons.

Now, I feel guilty for not passing the award along, but why don't you guys just scroll up and click that link for Daylin Leach's blog?  It's the funniest political blog I ever read, and also, he's from round my parts back home.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What is a Girl to Do? Blog Crisis!

OK, so I got another new apartment, which will start next month.  It's in Bloomfield, and that leaves me with a super-serious problem.  Super-serious.  What the heck and I going to call this blog?  "Food and Loathing in Bloomfield" really doesn't sound as awesome as "Food and Loathing in Lawrenceville," and it also doesn't sound as much like "Phoenixville," which, I believe, would lend the blog some nice continuity.  Maybe just "Food and Loathing in Pittsburgh?"  Or drop all this "Food and Loathing" stuff?  I mean, I wouldn't stop the food, and, frankly, I don't think I could stop the loathing if I tried, but the name.  THE NAME!  I really need help here.  All suggestions are welcome.

So here's what's up.  I was only unemployed for two weeks before I found and started a new job.  A much better job at a law firm that pays the same as my last job, but it also offers fully paid medical benefits, 401k, regular raises, and all that jazz.  That is a huge step up for me, even if, at first, it's going to feel the same.  I really feel like I'm a lucky person.  Lucky to be smart, capable, someone who will work things out.  Someone who gets every single job she's ever interviewed for.  Why did I get to have these gifts, and others don't?  It's really not fair or right, but I hope that I live the kind of life that does good for the world instead of bad so that my luck is not wasted on a bad person.  I really work hard to try and do right.  But I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get so deep on you. Here's a picture taken from outside the window of the lobby where I sit and answer phones:

One of the things this job offers is free lunch on Thursdays, which, you know, doesn't really work for me.  It's a nice perk for a non-vegan, but when I call in the lunches, it absolutely drives me crazy to get the tuna and salmon that my office-mates have ordered.  The first week, I got the only vegan option -- a fruit salad with balsamic vinaigrette, which was actually a green salad with a whole lot of fruit on top.  Perfect, actually, I liked that.  The second week, I got a portobello burger sans cheese.  Also enjoyable.  But the truth is, I'd rather not order my lunch from places, get all this to-go wrapping, and so forth.  I mean, the only reason I eat vegan is for sustainability.  I'm not altogether concerned with animal rights -- I mean, of course, like any moral being, I am bothered by factory farming, but I really do not take issue with people, for instance, raising their own hens for eggs.  Or having a pet goat they milk.  In any case, once I have my own place and get to cooking, I think I'll stop ordering lunch on Thursdays, especially because I think I'll get pretty sick of the usual vegan fare for all these downtown restaurants.  They really don't even have ethnic restaurants, and my co-workers wouldn't go for that anyway.

Most of my stuff is in storage, but I did bring to Steph's house six boxes of all my foodstuff, so I could get to eating without having to buy all kinds of stuff I already have somewhere.  Still, it's very disorganized, and I totally couldn't find my sage when making what I made last night, which was the classic, simple Mushroom Gravy from Veganomicon and also found after the Vegan with a Vengeance recipe for the Black-eyed Pea and Quinoa Croquettes.  I should have made it with Quinoa, but I was too lazy to strain, so I made it with pasta.
I also made my old standby cookie, knowing I had all ingredients on hand, and also that I had Veganomicon out already, Chewy Chocolate-Raspberry Cookies.  Actually, I made them with blueberry preserves, not raspberry, because I had that around.  Also, I didn't take pictures of them, so here is a picture I took of them when I made them a while back:

It makes me feel good to have cookies on hand to feed to Steph, because she has been so kind letting me stay here, and so supportive.  Plus, I like to eat them myself!
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