Thursday, May 3, 2012

Food and Loathing Returns with Some Red Gunk!

It's springtime, the sun is out later, and I've decided to give food blogging another go (the relevance of the sun being out later is that it means I might be able to actually take decent pictures of the food I make).  I was feeling a lot like this

I must be depressed if my hair is all in my face, right?

for a few months there, but I'm making a very serious effort to be more like this.

Damn, I look pretty happy here, right?
Well, whatever.  I know everyone has their fair share of struggles, and that in so many ways, I'm very lucky, but understanding those things doesn't always work to convince myself that I'm not an alien from another planet, which is honestly how I feel so much of the time.  I'm something of a perennial outsider, never quite fitting in at any point in my whole life.  And, you know, it's lonesome.  Even when I'm around friends, I so often feel lonesome.  But hey, I'm starting therapy really soon.  Actual therapy, not kitchen therapy.  The kitchen therapy starts NOW.

I thought I'd make my official return by cooking some difficult-to-photograph-in-an-appealing way red gunk! 
OK, actually, it's Red Lentil Dal from Lindsay S. Nixon's book The Happy Herbivore, one of the many, many cookbooks I've obtained since I really posted on this blog.  Nixon has some kind of thing where she feels she has to cook entirely fat free, so she sautes the onion and garlic with water instead of oil.  That's all fine and good for her, I guess, and I support her eating however she sees fit, but me?  I used oil.  I'm just not very concerned about eliminating fat or whatever supposed toxins are naturally created by heating olive oil.  I welcome death.  Oh wait!  Fighting...depressive...urges....

There, that's better.

But yeah, Red Lentil Dal.  I used oil and I cut the garam masala in half (1 tablespoon instead of 2).  I don't know if it is just the garam masala I have right now or if I'm simply not a big garam masala fan, but I knew better than to put 2 tablespoons of it into the dal if I was going to enjoy it.  Also, I made it nice and spicy hot, with 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper cuz, brother, that's just how I roll.  Made it salty, too, about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.  I tell you what. it's really good! And so easy.  I dig.

Plus, since I posted last, I procured a RICE COOKER!!!!!  I say "procured" because it was 100% free.  I got it from some nice people over in Oakland who offered it on Pittsburgh's Freecycle.  I don't know if you people out there do Freecycle where you live, but I've given and gotten so many things from it, including this freakin' unused, brand new rice cooker that cooks brown basmati rice perfectly with no effort!  I've dreamed of having restaurant-quality rice for some time now, now my dreams have finally come true, thanks to my amazing rice cooker, Pittsburgh Freecycle, and some nice folks in Oakland. 

During this time of not posting, I certainly did not quit cooking, and I certainly did not quit making ice cream.  People who read this blog know I'm super into making ice cream.  My most recent creation was a suggestion from my friend Sara, who is a fan of the blueberry and lemon combination.  When she suggested it, I was kind of like, "But then I'll have to buy frozen organic blueberries and cook them with sugar and then let them cool in the fridge overnight before actually making the ice cream, but I'm so very lazy!"  She was all, "Bitch, just get yourself a can of blueberries."  Whoa.  I had not thought of that, but it's brilliant.  A CAN OF BLUEBERRIES.  It's not organic, and it's kind of decidedly lowbrow, but you know?  It's brilliant.  I topped it with some  Hershey's chocolate syrup, which PETA says is vegan, but vegans fight about whether or not it actually is vegan 100% of the time (something about diglycerides being sometimes plant-sourced and sometimes animal-sourced).  Christ.  I don't know.  Truth be told, I'm not looking like this

 about it.  We all do our bests.  Anyway. here's the delicious ice creamy magic:


Mmmm... diglycerides...
In other Pittsburgh news, some friends of mine had a potluck every Monday for the past few months in order to watch the highly entertaining reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race, where one of the contenders was a Pittsburgher.  There was so much vegan goodness to photograph, and I photographed, well, none of it.  The very last week was breakfast-themed because, we joked, RuPaul had left us in a state of a hangover after unexpectedly extending the contest one more week to allow the audience to vote amongst the 3 finalists.  And, luckily, someone DID take some pictures.  Here's what I made:
It's the Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs from Vegan Brunch.  It got mad compliments, which is awesome because do you know how expensive puff pastry is these days?  It's definitely a special occasion kind of splurge -- and I would say that the crowning of Pittsburgh-dweller Sharon Needles as the next drag superstar was reason enough to splurge.  Behind the Puffs, you can kinda see these amazing Silk Yogurt Parfait things someone else made.  They were so good that they made me become faint.  Oh, and do want to see some super-cleverness?  Check this out:

OK, you won't get it if you didn't watch the show, but one of the best contestants, Latrisse Royale, would sing this song that went "Jesus is a biscuit and I let him sop me up."  Carrie, the woman who made this, always brought such creative homemade vegan goodness. 

Seeing as how Sharon Needles is a true local, I got to meet her the night after she won at Brillo Box, a bar that I walk to from my apartment.  Here we are together, looking like $100K.
Funniest shirt ever, right?
Also, I don't know if this link will be alive forever, but it's alive now.   On this, you can hear me read a little something I wrote about Sharon Needles on Essential Pittsburgh, a show on the local Essential Public Radio Station.  My actual voice!  At the beginning!  Hear it!

9 comments:

  1. Oh my Gawd- that Red lentil dal looks amazing.. So do the tempeh puffs!! I have so many recipes I want to try from the same books you have, I just never want to go get the ingredients haha!
    Have you tried the popcorn "chicken" at Whole Foods? or their vegan general tso's? ....it's life changing.

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  2. No, are those foods in the premade food bar? Either way, I never buy premade food, although I don't judge when others do! I sometimes look a the Whole Foods premade food and think it looks good, but it's pricy and I'm on my way home to made some food myself, you know? Their olive bar is what really tempts me, though, and I do often get myself some olives and snack on them. Kalamata olives are like crack to me!!

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  3. Hey welcome back-- missed u and your blog! I agree that Lindsay Nixon over does it on certain spices such as garam masala and Italian seasoning. 2 TBSP. Italian seasoning-- REALLY?!?! I do love it that she's not afraid of spices and I've never made anything that was bland from either of her books. Tonight I made 'Pablo Pasta' from Everyday Happy Herbivore. It's basically a mexican style mac & cheese. I added canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes and garnished with sliced (canned) jalepeneos and diced avacado. (I am a strong believer in avacado fat!) I really loved this recipe for quick every-day fare. I find myself reaching for Lindsay's book when my pantry is low and I can still pull a quick and tasty dinner together. Oh and healthy! Love that! Sorry to hear about your break-up and that u feel lonely. I know how u feel. I'm happily married but I think my husband would agree that I am some kind of vegan alien with a cookbook obsession. Hehe : ) --Tara

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  4. Hello, Tara! Thanks for writing. I just got the book Quick Fix Vegan and I really like the look of the recipes in there and many of them are made up of pantry staples, along with, maybe, something I'd have to walk over to the weird grocery store that's nearby to get. Actually, I just noticed that the weird grocery store has the greatest variety of and the least expensive puff pastry anywhere in Pittsburgh, I'm going to stock up! My other favorite "every day w/little effort" cookbook is Supermarket Vegan. That Mexican-style mac & cheese sounds really good. I'm definitely a fan of jazzed-up mac.

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  5. Hey Melissa, yes it's in the premade food area- if you go to the Whole Foods in East Liberty it's actually put into containers and has a big, fat vegan sticker slapped on it. Its on the wall across from the bakery counter. You HAVE to try it, just ONCE! Haha! Ugh I love vegan cooking, I don't know why it's so much funner than non-veg cooking..

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  6. I totally will. That's my preferred grocery store. Do you know which grocery store I call the weird one that has the least expensive puff pastry? I almost don't want to tell you, so you don't go buy all the puff pastry! But it's Shur Save in Bloomfield. Good for CERTAIN things.

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  7. Quick Fix Vegan is awesome!!! Love the Moroccan Pumkin Soup both of the pizza recipes and--oh the Sicilian stuffed shells!!! Yum!!! --Tara

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  8. Hmmm I don't venture to Bloomfield often so no worries on that! I definitely want to try Spak Brothers though!! Yay for vegan friendly pizza joints!

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  9. You never went to Spak? Are you not in the city proper or something? I'm not really big on buying food, I'd rather cook it, but in my experience the best vegan food in this city comes from Mad Mex.

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