Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Days off and dazed out

After working several 12-hour days over the last couple of weeks, I got a couple of much needed days off. One was a day of fun, and one (today) is a day of rest. Sometimes you just need a little of both to keep you going.

For our day of fun, Candy and I hit the towns. Yes, thats towns with an 's'. We had something very exciting in store for us in San Antonio (we'll get to that later), so we decided to make a day of it and treat orselves to things that we normally don't get a chance to do. First, we slept in. This is very important, because on most days we are up and out of the house by 8am. Once we were up and moving about, we went to Bouldin Creek for brunch. This is a rarity we got to treat ourselves to, and one that I think everyone should enjoy sometimes.

I had the special: tofu scramble with leeks and bacun bits, with cinnamon-raisin toast and orange marmalade. Very noochy. Best with an endless vintage mug of fresh hot coffee.

Next up, a trip to the library where I had a big stack of books waiting for me (A Confederacy of Dunces, Last Exit to Brooklyn, One Hundred Years of Solitude), then the bike shop for some lights, and then thrift shopping. We finally got around to the coolest little East end thrift store, which is only about 2 mile from our house called Treasure City Thrift. They hold alot of fun parties, and have some pretty cheap clothes. I left with a simple long sleeve shirt, and a vintage button up. I found alot of cool stuff to decorate my bathroom with at Goodwill, a cheap 10 cup coffee pot at Savers, and a couple of cute winter items. Candy got a couple of board games (Pop-up Video, and Wheel of Fortune) for our weekly game nights. Phew, after all of that it was time to head to San Antonio.

Our first stop was for dinner. We were looking especially forward to this dinner, because it would be at a new restaurant in town, and the only vegetarian restaurant in S.A. called Green Restaurant. I had been looking (and drooling) over the menu online and could not wait to try it out. It was a cute little cafe/diner type place, but with a lot of ambiance. You order your food at the counter, then drool all over the dessert case (all desserts are vegan) and then sit down at one of the various booths and wait for your food. Everything sounded wonderful so we decided to split a few things.

We started with a delicious sounding salad that applealed to our curious side. A bed of fresh spinach, with sliced crisp green apple, dried cranberries, and cinnamon spiced pecans. Originally served with blue cheese, we opted out and accepted the offer for crumbled tofu, on the side. All salad dressing are vegan, and we decided on the Orange Vinagrette. The entire salad was delightful, and very refreshing. I enjoyed the added texture of the tofu, but it would have been fine without it.
Our entree was a huge hit. We had the "Chicken fried" wheat-meat plate, with brown gravy, herbed mashed potatoes, and green beans. When given the option, who could say no? It certainly appealed to our down home side. The wheat meat was one of the best I have ever had. Perfectly breaded, not too chewy, and down right homey with savory mashers and gravy. The beans were..beans.
Some rolls on the side. Actually, they were a little more like buttermilk biscuits, but not as biscuity. Either way, they were perfect for soping up gravy.

And, of course, we simply could not pass up dessert with such a welcoming selection- fruit cobblers, cake, chocolate brownies, soy ice cream. Of course, we went for a classic- chocolate cake with mocha buttercream icing. Mmmm!

Now, why in the world would we leave lovely Austin to visit an unfamiliar city for just one night, you make be asking. Well, like I said previously, we had something very special waiting for us there. For one night, and one night only, we had tickets for two Orchestra section, row R seats to see the lovely Tori Amos!
(This is where I get all crazy fan on you. How in the world do I add a cut tag?)

We originally bought the tickets many months ago to see the show in Austin. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled last month, and rescheduled for S.A. No problem for us, because it is just a one hour car ride away. We were happy to make the trip. I hadn't seen my favorite artist in such a long time. I was so ecstatic by the time we got into the theater and sat down, I had to have a glass of red to keep myself from jumping up and down. Although, I did make quite a mini scene by squealing when we sat in our seats and I realized how close we were.

The concert was held in the Majestic theater, the same theater we saw R.E.N.T in a few months back. It is one of the coolest theaters I have been to, and was the perfect setting.

Tori always has very original, and usually little heard of people opening for her. This time was no different. Yoav was the opening act, with himself and his two guitars, he really set the mood. He had a very melodic voice (reminding me of the lead singer of Tool, just less..Tool-y.), and used his guitars to make various different sounds. He also had a great stage presence, and talked to us between songs.
We were super excited waiting for Tori to come on stage. I always feel this great rush of excitement, mixed with calmness, and butterflies before I see her live. I once read that before each show she burns sage back stage, which I think has something to do with these feelings.

She entered the stage as a great presence, and the rush from the crowd was astounding. Never have I witnessed the excitement of adoring fans like I do when I am at a Tori concert. It was very cute how she came on, smoking a (fake) cigarette, puffing away and blowing out smoke. We were just discussing on the trip how careful singers are about their voices, never smoking, eating non-musus forming foods, and sometimes even going without speaking when recording. I thought it was amusing that she chose to enter this way, and it really set the mood for the show. Her tiny presence behind her enormous piano is deceiving...
In her sparkly, one piece jump suit. Just imagine her jirating on her bench, and busting out tunes on the keys while simultaneously singing sex into the microphone. Holy mother...

She played a large mix of songs, spanning from the early days (pretty good year, precious things..) a few covers (New Age, and one I didn't recognize) to her latest album American Doll Posse. I especially loved when she talked to the audience. She had some funny stories involving wine, which are always fun to hear. It was a fantastic concert, and I left exhilarated. I also left with an ADP poster, and a T-shirt I can't wait for the next tour!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksfeasting

Things went over fairly well for a large family gathering. Other than most everyone sitting in front of the TV the entire meal, being weary of the food (all vegan), and leaving no more than 1 hour after the meal without touching dessert, we had a great feast. We were very proud of our food and the love and effort we put in to it. We were more than satisfied (can we say, a bit gluttonous?), and we have plenty of leftovers to feed us until Christmas! What more could you ask for? Here was our beautiful spread..

Our menu checklist board. This kept us sane, and helped us avoid forgetting to bake the stuffing.
Appetizer platter- Walnut-pecan pate, two kinds of crackers, mixed greek olives. Went down nicely with a glass of white.
The beginnings of the feast- the app. plate, rolls, sweet potato casserole, cranberry-cherry compote, the wines.

Sweet potato casserole with maple-pecan topping.
Roasted greenbeans and chestnuts. I roughly followed this recipe.
Veganized Paula Deen cornbread dressing, made with the Wheatsville cornbread recipe (!) and cranberry, cherry and walnut compote. This was my favorite dish.
Roasted vegetable (brussel sprouts, sweet potato, delicata and butternut squash, parsnips, red bell peppers, red onion, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, olive oil and balsamic), ala Brandon, my girlfriends brother.
Mac n cheeze, topped with breadcrumbs. Based off of Lolo's recipe, sans miso. I think I baked it a little long, but it still turned out really good.
The potrack holding the greenbeans, mac, potato salad (Mr. Natural) and roasted veggies. Very festive looking.
My loaded plate with a little scoop of everything. Usually I go back for second, but this year I could hardly finish what I had on the first round. Then, shortly after, I collapsed and took a nice long nap.
The dessert spread- pumpkin pie, chocolate dipped mini pecan tarts (a last minute miracle), and pumpkin cheezecake!My plate of dessert. A nice pick me up sugar rush after our post meal nap.
A closeup inside shot of my girlfriends famous pumpkin cheezecake, because it was just that good.

I am thankful for:
Good food and good people
Finally having a job I enjoy
My health

Monday, November 19, 2007

Festive potluck fun

We made it to the potluck Sunday night, and I'm so glad we did. I feel this way every time we go, but it just seems like each time gets better and better. This time there weren't as many people, and it was pretty low key. It was fun and the food was fantastic none the less. The theme was seasonal produce, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make. I knew it before I knew the theme and I was committed to finding a way to make it fit with the theme no matter what. Thankfully I didn't have much problem figuring it out. I made the Chickpea-Cranberry Tart from the recent issue of VegNews along with the Cranberry Sauce.

It turned out beautifully and it was absolutely fantastic, especially with the sauce. Words cannot even describe. It was like a loaded dressing stuffed into a pie crust. The walnuts added a nice crunchiness, the cranberries were both sweet and tart, and paired well with parsley and chickpeas along with the saltiness of tamari. Mmmm. The sauce was simple, but very complex in taste, with an added bit of balsamic vinegar. If you're looking for a nice entree dish for the holidays, I recommend this. I'm even planning to play around with different bean/nut/spice combinations.
There were also butternut squash flautas, topped with some kind of green sauce, bell peppers and onions. Very good, with a sweet, smooth filling and a smoky spicy topping.
Roasted brussel sprouts. You can't go wrong with these. They seem to find their way into almost every potluck, no matter the theme. I ain't complainin!

The whole spread. Also some seasonal fruit salad with poppyseed dressing and chocolate peppermint bars at the end of the table.

My (first) plate, illuminated by the beautiful fire. I could have eaten that whole pan of brussels, but I decided to be nice and leave some for the other people.

They got a makeshift screen set up to show movies on. Last night we watched Gremlins 1! It's been so long since I've seen that one, it brought back memories. I also realized how funny and very morbid it is.
The makeshift fire we always sit aroud, toasting our chilly hands and feet in. Sitting around it with a full belly, after stuffing our faces, watching stupid movies is priceless.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

All in a days work

When I'm working long days, my meals need to consist of a few things. One is simplicity- they need to be quick to put together, and nothing too fancy. They also need to be hardy- I usually ride my bike at least 5 miles roundtrip, and my job consists of alot of running around and lifting large objects (dogs, towel baskets, stairs, etc). Finally, they need to be good- it's simple, I don't want to eat bad food. Yesterday was pretty good, foodwise. So much so I thought it warranted a post of it's own. Here's the breakdown:

I woke up early, so I got to have breakfast at home (yay!)- Toast (Rudi's Multigrain Oat), with peanut butter and sliced banana, spiced prunes, coffee. All while reading the Wheatsville Breeze.
Lunch is always fun in my Laptop Lunchbox- leftover Wheatsville Frito pie (Mmmmm!), carrot sticks with cashew-tamari dressing, 1/2 banana.

Cute notes from my ladylove. Awww, so sweet!

Dinner- okay, so I got a little bit fancy, but it was pretty quick and easy, plus I prepped ahead. We had roasted acorn squash stuffed with a forbidden rice salad (forbidden rice, celery, green onion, dried cranberries, tamari, maple, sesame oil, walnuts), sauteed swiss chard with chickpeas, wheatsville cornbread (best ever!)

And, let us never forget, dessert! Chocolate Peppermint Cream bars. These were the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Like a mint oreo and an Andes mint had a baby and it grew up to despise it's parents and become the best damn cookie in the world. I love you Kelly and Garrick! (Oh, and I didn't eat the whole plate, we were sharing. But, I could have..I so could have.)

Did anyone notice the abundance of Wheatsville goods? Yeah, so I'm in love with the place. It's a good thing I got the job there or I would be considered a stalker.

And, not my work, but the work of the groomer at my work. The cutest dog ever with a mohawk

Yo! Yo woman gimmie some treats. Mr. T demands doggie treats!

The Sunday night potluck is tonight, and the theme is seasonal produce. I'm making the Chickpea-Cranberry tart from VegNews, and we're bring the leftover Chocolate Peppermint bars. Chocolate is always in season.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Just when I was loosing my inspiration, Amanda at Walking the Vegan Line showed up with a Vegan MoFo Survey. Here are my answers..

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
On a regular, daily basis I prefer Rice Dream plain. We've been drinking alot of Wild Oats brand soymilk lately, though because of a buy one, get one special. Also, I'm in love with Silk Pumpkin Spice.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Forbidden Rice salad, Tropical granola, a Thanksgiving feast

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Depending on my mood, either Earth Balance with nooch and salt, or canola oil, sugar, and spices.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
The time I tried faux duck from the Hong Kong market. Blech!

5. Favorite pickled item?
I have a thing for pickled carrots with mint..

6. How do you organize your recipes?
I have a shelf of cookbooks, and all of my loose recipes I keep either in a folder, a ziplock, or I have a text version on my laptop.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Compost. We want to start a garden in the spring, so we have a bin out back and a bowl on our counter where all food scraps go. No banana peel left behind!

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Chocolate, granola, brussel sprouts

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
My nanny's plum cobbler. Easily veganized

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Tea Dream Chocolate Caramel Chai

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Stick blender

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Garlic..and basil.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Hmm..I don't remember the exact name. Something like Simple Meals for Vegetarians. I never use it.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Lasagna. You can't go wrong

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tofu, for now

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Breakfast, if I can get myself up early enough.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
There's a pot rack hanging above it with our pots and pans. The larger pots that won't fit are on top.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
brussel sprouts, coffee beans, cranberries

20. What's on your grocery list?
We're trying not to go grocery shopping for our cabinet cleaning challenge. But, I can't help but make a mental one, so: maple syrup, greens, mustard,

21. Favorite grocery store?
Wheatsville, duh.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Green bean casserole. Maybe for Thanksgiving

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
There are more than 3 on the top of my list, but here are the top ones: Walking the Vegan Line, Get Sconed, Have Cake Will Travel, and Yellow Rose Recipes

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Right now it's Green and Black's Dark with Orange and Spices

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I always buy the best chocolate. Otherwise, I keep it simple.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
I've always been scared of working with pastry. I'm slowly overcoming that. But, I know I will probably never be as good as my Nanny.

Things should be getting better in the kitchen soon. Just working alot of hours right now. I'm still trying to figure out how the heck we'll fit in cooking a thanksgiving feast for 8 people between working 8 and 12 hour days. should be an adventure!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Free Box

Today I had my second orientation at Wheatsville and had my first experience with the free box. I am in love..
Kind of crappy picture, and yeah, not everything is highest quality. But,! Head of romaine lettuce with some wilting leaves, cucumber, White Mountain tofu salad, tomato, spotted bananas, and Rudi's Organic Multigrain Oat bread. MMmm, enough for at least a week of yummy sammiches, plus I'll freeze the rest of the bread and make french toast or something later. The bananas will make excellent bread and smoothies. Awesome.

Orientation went well, and I am super excited about starting my training on Monday. The beginning of orientation was a bit off putting, because we started by watching the video "Fish!" It was about the fish place in the Seattle farmers market that is famous for throwing fish and yelling stuff, and making the customers hold fish and all that. They are really crazy and enthusiastic. The video was all about customer service, and just having that good attitude no matter how you're feeling. At first it was really hard for me to watch the video because they were treating these dead creatures with no respect, and it was just disgusting. On the one hand I am thinking "how can you talk to me about respect, and good attitude and being there for the customer when you are not giving this creature the same courtesy." I got over it though, and just listened to what they had to say. They had some good points, and overall it was pretty uplifting. I just couldn't look up when they were making the fish "talk". The bonus was finding out that the GM of Wheatsville is vegan! So, yay for that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Take out Tuesday

Sometimes, you just feel like take out. We have been trying to set a special take out day since we moved to Austin. There are so many great restaurants around here, and we want a chance to try them all. Take out day seems like a fun way to do that. We have also been trying to save money, though, and it can be pretty expensive to eat out. But, tonight I really really felt like eating a salad, and all we have at home are leftovers from "school lunch" night (steak fingers, mashed potatoes, gravy). So, since I work until 8pm on Tuesdays, and we have extra things to do after work, we decided to grab some fast food take out. Don't despair, though, for this is not your greasy, fatty, gross fast food. This is Baby Greens, the coolest little salad place in Texas (and maybe anywhere, I've never heard of anything like it.)

I was really going to get a salad, and a cup of their Vegetarian Tortilla soup that I love. But, after everyone ordered wraps, they started sounding pretty good, so I decided on the Southwest tofu salad wrap, with a spinach tortilla and no dressing.

The wrap was pretty good. I like that the spinach tortilla actually kind of tasted like spinach, instead of like a green wheat tortilla. Their tofu was also a little different from what I'm used to getting in wraps. It was very soft, and a little squishy, but it had good flavor. Also the corn and black bean salsa had a nice kick and paired nicely with the jicima and carrot, while the avocado smoothed it all out. This place knows how to make a salad, and wrap it up.

I think Take-Out Tuesdays could become a regular thing, especially if we keep it cheap. Baby Greens and Veggie Heaven are on the top of the list! Some others I like are Thundercloud Subs, Wheatsville Deli (duh), and Zen (japanese fast food).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lunch lady love

Okay, so I missed my second post yesterday, which was a make up from the previous day. I didn't get overwhelmed or run out of ideas, I just decided that some things are more important that posting. So, I took the night off and spent it with my lady love. It was so worth it. I think what I have tonight with totally make up for it.

I was pretty psyched to eat some salisbury "steak", mashed potatoes, and chocolate pudding last night at our Sunday night potluck. Sadly, we ended up having to miss it because I had a work meeting that went late, and having no car meant riding the bus. We would have been about 2 hours late, so we opted out and had stir fry with peanut sauce instead I was so disappointed because it was school lunch themed, and that just sounded so fun. Oh well, there's always next week!Anyway, since we were craving some school food, I made up some seitan to make steak fingers, and we had it with mashed potatoes and gravy and roasted brussel sprouts. So perfect, and so yummy. It will probably be even better left over for lunch tomorrow. MMmmm

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On the cheap

I saw something somewhere a while back called the Great Grocery Challenge, or something like that. Basically, someone decided that they wouldn't go shopping for an entire month, and just live off of what they already had in their cabinets and fridge. I thought this sounded pretty interesting, but dismissed it as something I wouldn't want to do. But, then I got to thinking about budgeting. I haven't been working as many hours lately, and I have been spending alot of money on food. We decided that this might be something to consider. So, we sat down and thought about it, and decided that now is the perfect time. The kids are out of town, and the holidays are right around the corner. We will be saving money and cleaning out. Plus, it's always fun to see what you can come up with using only so many ingredients. We started the challenge Thursday (after doing a little grocery shopping). We are going to try really hard not to go shopping again until right before Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to seeing how it works out. Here's what we've got to work with

Our pantry- top shelf is all herbs and spices, second shelf is baking stuff, third is, uh, pantry stuff like dried fruits, nut butter, seeds, tea, coffee, etc, fourth shelf (which you can't really see) is beans and grains, soymilk in aseptic containers, and cat food.
Our fridge- White bean soup, chocolate pudding, hummus, bread, wheat flour, mashed potatoes, pasta, tofutti cream cheese, sourdough starter, wheat gluten, cereal (ant problem), carrots, celery, apples, oranges, banana bread, leftover sweet potato fries.
The door- Earth Balance sticks, tahini, jam, salsa, hot sauce, nooch, chickpea flour, flax seed, wheat germ, apple sauce, mustard, cranberry syrup, soymilk, cashew-tamari dressing.
The freezer- corn tortillas, frozen veggies, leftover fall vegetable pies, and basil in ice cubes.

Speaking of craftiness, we are going to Stitch tonight when I get off of work. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the crafty goods, and checking out some designers I've never heard of (it's a long list). I want to give handmade gifts this year, so this might be a good way to supplement. What I think I'm most excited about is that there is something going on during the weekend that is late enough for me to actually go to after work. Woohoo!

*Sorry, no pictures. I was going to show you my pantry and whatever, but it was late when I got home last night.
** This post is technically from yesterday. I wrote it up, but forgot to post. Can't complain about two posts in one day...if I get around to it.
*** Okay, so I got pictures and decided to add them, because I know you really, really want to see my goods.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sushi and yay!

My girlfriend's kids are out of town for the next couple of weeks, which means a few things for us. For one, things will be alot more quiet around here. Secondly, it means we get the TV all to ourselves. And thirdly, well, it will be pretty much the same, just less messy.
We did decide to spend our first kid free night having some fun out on the town. As luck would have it, that night was also our 3 month anniversary. Aww. So, when Candy got off of work we went out for dinner at Kyoto, because I have been craving sushi. We split a veggie plate and some vegetable tempura.

From the top left- fried tofu roll, celery with sesame seeds, vegetable tempura roll, green bean roll.
The vegetable tempura- a huge slice of yam, yellow squash, zucchini, and a single broccoli floret.

When I told the waiter I'm vegan, he asked me to specify exactly what vegan was "so I can make it clear to the chef." I knew it would be slim pickings after that. Thankfully, it was all pretty good, and somewhat satisfied my sushi craving. I say somewhat because I know I can make better, and have. We plan to have a Japanese themed party soon, and I will be making sushi out the wazoo. Mmm, sushi!

The yay part is this: I got the job at Wheatsville!! YAY! I start my training next week, and then I will be part time for a while after Thanksgiving, becoming full time eventually. I'm going to try to keep my other job, since the holidays are coming up and I could use some extra money. Also, I'm still toying with the idea of starting school next year, so extra money in the bank would help. I can't wait to start my training. I think the thing I look forward to the most about the job (besides the coolness, the people, and great benefits) is the "freebox"- leftover goods from all departments of the store, free for the taking for employees. Woop!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


A few weeks ago I asked Vegchic from the PPK if she would mind sending me some sourdough starter. She promptly replied and said she would be happy to. A week later I received a small envelope with squishy dough contained inside that was to become my very own sourdough batch. I felt so gracious that I whipped up a batch of Pumpkin spice granola and shipped it her way.

I let the dough sit around for a while before I finally decided to feed it. When I found out my girlfriend and I would both have the morning off, I knew it was time to make pancakes. I set out on my journey, prepared for victory. I placed my starter dough in a bowl, mixed in 2 cups of water, then 2 cups of flour, covered loosley and said a prayer. When I woke up the next morning, I was so excited to see what had happened that it felt like Christmas. Here's what I ended up with..

Doesn't this just scream "make pancakes with me!"

Ahh, what a nice stack

Smothered in holiday cheer- homemade cranberry sauce (with a hit of allspice).
When I poured it on, I said "looks like Christmas threw up in here."

These were the easiest, and tastiest pancakes I have had since going vegan. They came together flawlessly, and cooked to perfection. They are a little thin, but they have so much flavor and testure you don't even notice. And, they can hold a sauce like no pancakes business. Thanks Vegchic! I can't wait to try sourdough bread next...