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.
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