Friday, May 25, 2007

Food and farms

Alot has been going on in this crazy life of mine. In the last 4 months, I have moved twice (once out on my own for the first time), and changed jobs twice. I now work at an incredible place -T'afia, one of the best restaurants in Houston. The chef/owner Monica Pope has been one of my long time idols, and I have dreamed of working with her. I also live in my own apartment, which I have been dreaming of for a long time. It's located in a decent part of town, within walking distance of the gym, library, and Whole Foods, and is super affordable so I am still able to save money for school. Still, I am not satisfied. I am not feeling so great about my job. I suppose it could be due to the fact that I am only a hostess, and am thus located on the opposite side of the restaurant from where I dream to be (the kitchen). Still, I could enjoy just being in such a wonderful place, surrounded by great people. I feel like my dissatisfaction comes from my urge to do more with my life. I have been feeling pretty down since I stopped going to school. I miss the hard work, and the great feeling of accomplishment from finishing a big paper, or scoring a good grade on a test. I don't think I am ready to go back to school yet, though.
What I would really like to do is travel. I found WWOOF, which sounds ideal. It is basically a volunteer program. To quote the USA site, WWOOF "is part of a world-wide effort to link volunteers with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices." There are tons of farms from all around the world (500 in the US) that host willing volunteers. You put in about 30 hours of labor a week, and recieve room and board and food in return. It is a great opportunity to travel, meet people, and learn alot about farming- for free! I joined the USA branch, and am waiting on my packet. I'm hoping to find a great farm that is vegan friendly, and spending the rest of my summer getting closer to the land.

All of that aside, I still love to talk about food. Homemade meals have been pretty few and far between lately since I get free dinner (and lunch on Fridays) at work, but here are some of the yummy meals I have been enjoying.

I made some crockpot BBQ Tempeh. It was yummy, and simple- throw everything in a crockpot and go. It was too sweet for my taste, so I will add less sugar next time. Also, I enjoy my BBQ a little smokier, so I might add some liquid smoke. I will definately try it again, though. With it, I had some Mac 'n Chreese from Roads End Organics. I got the alfredo style by mistake, which didn't go quite so well with my BBQ. It is good for a quick, out of the box side dish. The ingredients are also unbeatable, as far as packaged items go. Some soy-flax tortilla chips from Central Market rounded out the meal. It was better the next day with steamed broccoli.

It has been too long since I enjoyed scrambled tofu, with waffles, maple syrup and fruit. I enjoyed this for a wonderful Sunday brunch, after recovering from a super wild night. It was just what I needed to cure the dancing blues.

With some overripe peaches, leftover mango chuncks, and a bunch of other stuff hanging out in my fridge, I decided to make an experimental dessert. I chopped up the peaches and tossed them with the mango, chopped ginger, some arrowroot, a leftover white wine and vanilla mixture from poaching pears, and some sugar. Then, I mixed together some rolled oats, quinoa almond creme, agave nectar, cinnamon, and a little more sugar. I put the fruit in my new cornningware dish, and topped it with the crumble mixture, and baked it all until it looked golden brown and delicious. It turned out really good, and had quite a kick from all the ginger I put in.

I made the Spicy African Stew with Cucumber relish, and quick steamed greens on the side from this month's Vegetarian Times. It wasn't quite as spicy as I thought it would be, but I also added the green chilies seperately, and didn't add the entire can. It was delicious, though, and gave me something else to do with peanut butter besides eating it straight from the jar. Although, that still remains a great option. The relish was quick and yummy. I will make it again just for garnishing purposes. It would be great with a burrito, or on salad. I also made the ginger thins that were included with the other recipes, but they didn't turn out so well. I think I made them too thin, and they stuck terribly to the pan. Still delicious crumbled up and mixed with soy yogurt and some fresh berries!

And finally, my favorite afternoon treat on Fridays- Green tea fruit salad from Te House of Tea. Full of lychee, passion fruit, green tea gel (made from agar), with coconut milk poured on top. I enjoy this with a cup of hot tea. If you are ever in Houston, I reccomend going to Te House. They have some good vegan options, tons of tea selections from all over, and a very chill atmosphere.


Vegan_Noodle said...

Hi Kayla! That's some yummy looking food you made over the long weekend! I need to get a waffle iron, I have really been craving waffles and yours looked so good. Hope things work out with volunteering on the farm, or going back to school, or whatever makes you happy! It is definitely tough to figure out what direction you want your life to go at times....

Vegan*asm said...

I suppose I was a bit decieving with the waffles, because they were straight from the freezer. They are the wonderfully delicious, wheat-free, vegan waffles from Van's. I would be making my own if I had a waffle iron, but these substitute just fine. Thanks for the words of support. Life is one long journey, and we just have to let it take us for a ride sometimes..

James said...

Hey cupcake,

Looks tasty, but what happened to the pics of that yummy Ethiopean food we shared on Monday. Wishing you peace, clarity and health in these new ventures you're undertaking...

PS: I have a waffle iron. Shredded carrots and diced raisins make a good addition to waffle sticks, but it makes me want to smear them with Tofutti