Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blaaahhhh..or how I spent my xmas

It's 9pm on the day after x-mas, and I'm sitting in my PJ's, drinking tea and watching Martha Stewart. Thus is my recovery. After spending a hectic couple of days planning, running around, shopping for and making gifts, and eating much junk food, then zipping in and out of town in 24hrs, and dealing with crazy family stuff, I needed to wind down. Although the best regimen I could be following now would probably involve some kind of light exercise and tons of green leafys, and fresh whatnots, I feel more inclined to like sit around reading books, watching TV, and eating leftover meatlessloaf. This is a time for unabashed comfort. The craziness will start again on Saturday when we leave town for a weekend in New Orleans, and then my birthday celebration (21!) on Monday, but it's a good kind of crazy. The kind of crazy that you want to remember for the rest of your life. The kind of crazy that leaves you in a haze for a week. I'm looking forward to that crazy. The crazy from the previous week, though, I wish to soon forget. Here are a few things I have learned, along with a few random thoughts, from this holiday season:

When you spend any extended amount of time (more than 10 minutes) with someone else's crazy family, you begin to appreciate your seemingly less crazy family

Eat nothing but sugar for a week, and you will feel like shit

If your grandmother asks what you want for Christmas, never say "nothing". She will inevitably get you something.

The book is always better than the movie. The big boys in the media industry seem to think that dumbing down movies will somehow make it much better and more accessible to the general public.

If you tell people your plans, things will inevitably go to shit

Cinnamint flavor is good for lipgloss, but not always so good to eat

Chocolate and Amber are a match made in olfactory heaven

Teenagers possess an uncanny ability to sit and stare at a TV screen for an amazing 12 hours straight

Meatloaf is so much better without the meat, this recipe saved my x mas, with the addition of sauteed carrots, celery, onion and garlic

Hope everyone found a way to keep their sanity in tact. Cookies, coffee, and sleep helped me a lot. Except when I got sick, then it was mainly orange juice and echinacea.
In less than 6 hours, I will be having lunch with my (stubbornly omnivorous, yet still love able) family at a vegan haven in the middle of cattle country- Spiral Diner, to commemorate the beginning celebrations of my birthday. I am undecided on what to eat, but I'm sure it will be good. Then it's off to New Orleans for a weekend of raucous fun. See you next year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

X-mas time..

Christmas, X-mas, Giftmas, Fudgemas..not matter what you call it, it's a holiday that's practically impossible to avoid. I'm a huge scrooge this year, so in attempts to get somewhat into the holiday spirit so that I can get through Monday evening and Tuesday, I have been baking cookies, and making gifts. When Candy's mom came for a visit, we decided to start out cookie baking. We spent 3 hours in the kitchen one night after dinner, and made a huge mess. We got 3 dozen cherry almond drops, a batch of peanut butter cookie crumbles, and some fudge out of the endeavour. Here is what our kitchen counter looked like after wards:

We went to a vegan cookie exchange party the next day. We took our cherry almond drops, and came home with a bigger selection of really yummy cookies and bars.
Chocolate pecan cookies, some of our cherry almond drops, wedding tea cakes, peanut butter chocolate crunch bars, and (my favorite) chocolate cashew butter cups.

I came across Amanda's recent post about getting in the spirit, and I'm totally jealous of all the lovely cookies she has baked. I decided to do the holiday themed meme she had, but I think it makes me sound even more like a scrooge..

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I prefer recycled good: newspaper, paper bags, boxes, etc, or cotton shopping bags
2. Real or artificial tree? Usually artificial
3. When do you put up the tree? Growing up, it was usually right after Thanksgiving. This year, we did it right after we couldn't stand hearing the kids ask one more time
4. When do you take it down? After New Years
5. Do you like eggnog? Soynog, totally. I wasn't ever much for the egg stuff, though.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I remember really loving the play kitchen I got, even though it was made entirely out of cardboard. As an adult, my favorite gift so far was my stainless steel pot and pan set.
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Nah
8. Hardest person to buy for? My grandparents
9. Easiest person to buy for? Mom
10. Worst Christmas present you ever got? Hard to say...probably that one lamp thing with the angel...
11. Mail or email Christmas cards? I usually don't do cards.
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Huh..I've never really had one.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually I make a mental note of things throughout the year, and then I forget about them and go shopping at the last minute. This year, I'm not shopping, I'm making.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, yes, yes.
15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas? Gingerbread!
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I like the clear ones on houses, but I like color on trees.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Nellie McKay's A Christmas Dirge. Looove it!
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Usually my mom and I travel to my grandparents house. This year, Candy and I are travelling home to Houston
19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer? Proabably, if I thought hard enough.
20. Angel or star on top of tree? Usually star, nothing this year
21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? One on Christmas eve, the rest on Christmas. A little different this year. I got my presents from my family early, and we're doing Christmas with Candy's family Christmas eve.
22. Most annoying thing this time of year? Everything
23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color? No, but I like my friend's Star Wars tree
24. What do you leave for Santa? This year, Candy Cane Joe Joes, because me and Candy are Santa
25. Shopping? I stay far, far away from the mall. This year most of my stuff is handmade.
26. Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all?) Just inside this year. Oh, a couple of poinsettas on the porch
27. Favorite Christmas cookie? Hmm..Ginger Gems, any biscotti, gingerbread, chocolate peppermint....
28. Do you own Christmassy clothing or jewelry? Not really. I bought these cute green tree earrings, and someone said they look kind of like christmas trees. I told them they kind of look like a crack addict..
29. Do you believe in Santa? I believe if Santa was real, he would have every health problem known to man.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bad blogger

I feel like I've been a bad blogger. Ever since MoFo ended, I have been slack in posting. I guess I needed the break, since so much else has been going on. Starting a new job and ending a slightly less new one. Getting prepared for the christmas holiday right after ending the rush of Thanksgiving. Forming new friendships and hitting rough spots in a very close relationship. Births and deaths. New ideas, and old standbys. I guess I can say it has been a time of tansition, and I have needed some time for adjustment. Of course, like always, I have still kept busy in the kitchen as much as I can will myself. I have tried new things, and lets just say I've gained a new affinity for sauces. Although I haven't put my hands to work in the kitchen as much as I would like, I have been well fed..and this will prove it..

As I've posted, on probably more than one occasion, I love pumpkin and all things involved in the affairs of the beautiful, succulent squash. So, when I heard rumor of a recipe for pumpkin hummus floating around, I jumped on it. I went all the way and topped mine with caramelized pumpkin seeds. I'm so glad I did. Also, the addition of sesame oil is a must. Do it, or..well, you may not regret it, but you sure will wish you did it.

This is what fall tastes like- spiced steel cut oatmeal spiked with raisins, served in a roasted squash 'bowl', topped with sweet almond gravy, with half a roasted apple on the side. I used the recipe from Hot Potato, subbing my own spice preference/on-hand mix, and using a different squash. Soo delightful!

What do two PPKers do when they meet? Cook, of course! And cook we did. Denise got Veganomicon before I did, and we were both really hyped to make Chickpea cutlets. She came over one night and we made the cutlets with red wine roux, and had the tomato spinach on the side. They were really simple and very good. The one thing I can say is they are super filing. I had a small baked one, and I was full all night long.

For our 4 month anniversary, I wanted to prepare a nice, somewhat elegant, yet simple meal for Candy and I to share. Remembering the PPK 'Love Bites' episode, and how they waxed so romantic about the sweet potato crepes, I decided to give the recipe a try. I was a little overwhelmed by the fact that I had only made crepes once before, even though they were a success. I was pleasantly suprised at how quickly, and simple the meal came together. I had nothing prepared in advance, but it took me around 2 hours from starting the filling, to finishing the sauce, and I even found time to make a simple green bean dish for the side (fresh beans, thinly sliced pears, tossed in a vinagrette of canola, cider vinegar, miso paste, and fresh basil, with toasted walnuts).

Money shot, ya'll's. Super fantastic filling and saucey sauce. I had two, plus extra filling, and ruined crepe pieces. And the wine kept flowing...

That's all I have to share right now. There were some other things in between, like a super awesome cake that started as a disaster, but became the best thing ever. The picture would not have done it justice, so I didn't even try. But do not despair, for there will be other cakes in our future, I am sure..

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Appetite schmappetite

I haven't had much of an appetite lately, and the last couple of days I have had a stomach ache that has kept me from eating much at all. This couldn't have happened at a worse time, considering I just received a copy of V-con from my mom for an early X-mas gift. I was so thrilled and elated, flipping through the pages, noting all of the the recipes I wanted to try first. The very next day I felt as if I was coming down with something, by the end of the night (at the potluck, no less) I could hardly eat a thing. I spent the next day in bed, not touching food until around 5pm, and then only some toast and yogurt. I made a quick and simple veggie-rice soup for dinner, and had a bowlful. I thought I was feeling better this morning, but when I got to work my stomach began flipping over. I tried to get some form of nourishment from a smoothie for breakfast, but it made things worse and my stomach wouldn't have it. Thankfully, I brought some leftover soup for lunch, and paired with Green Power Kombucha, I was able to get through the day. I love that stuff! I don't know if it is just something going around, or maybe stress. Thankfully, what I do eat I can keep down. The stress factor will soon be lessened since today is my last day at Dirty Dog, and I will only have one job to worry about. My appetitie is already beginning to come back since I have been browsing through some blogs, looking at all of the delicious food everyone has been making. This whole no appetitie thing is really weird for me.

Needless to say, no food pictures for this post. I do have some awesome stuff to post, though. It involves chickpeas and cutlets, and a red wine roux..but I wont say anymore! I'll get around to it soon. What I want to do now is give a big happy exciting congratulations to Joanna at Yellow Rose Recipes and her husband for bringing baby Milo into the world! Even though I lost on the baby before book/book before baby challenge, I'm glad he is here and he's so cute I can easily forgive him. So happy for you guys, good luck in the baby raisin' world!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things I love..

Sunday Potlucks

I look forward to these all week long. We always have such a good time, and meet really cool people. I see it as an opportunity to to do what I love best: cook good food and feed good people.
Last week was Curry themed. Instead of making an actual Curry, we brought food with curry, the spice. I made Aloo Parathas, using Lolo's tutorial. They turned out sooo good, and were really simple. Candy made a special treat- Curry Truffles! Since her specialty has become mini sweet things, we put a spin on an old classic. Made using the ganache recipe in VCTOTW, but subbing coconut milk, and adding a tsp of curry powder, then rolled in curry and cocoa. They were a labor of love, and soo amazing! (Sorry, no picture :( They were completely devoured)

My plate, with a bunch of different curries, a green salad, a butternut squash salad with a tofu based dressing, my parathas, some chutney, and some other stuff I dont remember. So full..


Sometimes, life needs to be simple. Step back and focus on the important things. Don't let everything get in your way and inhibit you from living a happy life. Sometimes, simplicity means just not fussing about being exact, or avoiding adding too much. Whether in terms of life, or in food, simplicity is key.

Hot, simple, and full of goodness. I used leftover brown rice, almond milk, a dab of EB, and mixed in some leftover cranberry-cherry chutney.

Fresh out of the oven Cran-Ban-Thankyou-man bread. Inspired by Eat'n Veg'n, I wanted gluten free, but didn't have everything i needed. It turned out really great, and simple to make. It only lasted 1/2 day.

Good choices

Sometimes, it's hard for me to make a decision. I ponder, and worry over every detail, practically paralyzing myself to decided. Even when I know one option would be better for me, it is hard to let go of the other options. In this case, it didn't take long to make a decision, because I knew hands down it would be the best. I quit my job. Not the one I just got at Wheatsville. I love it too much. But the other one. I was working 12 hour days, exhausting myself. I wasn't able to do much else but work, and I realized it just wasn't worth it. Besides, I didn't come to Austin to work work work. I realize I will be a little short on money until I become full time at WV. But, that is where simplicity comes in. With the holidays coming up, I have decided that all of the gifts I give will be handmade, which really reduces alot of spending. We are trying not to eat out, but instead freezing meals for later. My grocery bills are also considerably less now that most of my food comes from the free box at work. So, yay for good choices, and making the right decisions for yourself. I feel so relieved.

Those are just a few of my loves. I could go on and on, but I'm sick of typing. I will type one more thing, though. Think about the things you love in your life, and let everyone know. It's kind of like Isa's 1/2 week with no hate, spread it around.

Also, does anyone have any ideas for fancy hor dourves?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Leftovers for days..

Okay, so I was a little slack with VeganMoFo toward the end. Working two jobs, prepparing a T-day feast for 10 people, and trying to have somewhat of a life didn't help much. Now it's December 1st, and I feel like I have some making up to do. This post is a little late for MoFo, but technically I did write it a few days ago. I just didn't get around to loading up all of the pictures until now. So, bear with me..

As I listed as one of the things I am thankful for, leftovers are at the top. When I was younger, I especially despised leftovers. I couldn't stand the thought of eating leftover mac and cheese, hamburger helper, or anything else besides a few select things, one of them being my moms homemade beef stew and cornbread (especially in cornbread and milk). Thinking back, I believe that I would still feel the same today if my meals came primarily from a box. When the extent to which you prepare your food is by the touch of a microwave button, or a quick boil and pour, then the end result can only be so edible, for so long. Today, however, when I cook I savor the leftovers. Homemade, freshly prepared foods taste so much better the next day, when the flavors have a chance to sit and mingle with one another. So join me, won't you, and savor every leftover bite, making sure not to waste a scrap of food.

The next day after Thanksgiving, I would always enjoy a turkey sandwhich composed of various leftovers from the T-day feast. The sandwhich usually went- wheat bread, mayo, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mustard, wheat bread. This year, I wanted something similar, but a little more sophisticated and cruelty free. I went for a simple stuffing sammich, and included a little fresh arugula I had laying around.

Whole wheat roll, stuffing, arugula, walnut-cran-cherry compote.

Besides the stuffing, the dish we had the most of leftover was the roasted veggies. Besides leaving them as is and just allowing them to be a hearty side dish, I wanted to give them a spotlight of their own. While I was blog wandering one afternoon, I came across a recipe on Karina's recipe index and decided that I would do these beautiful vegetables justice by making them into a Roasted Vegetable Mulligatawny but without the curry.

It turned out wonderful and we savored every spoonful with leftover cornbread.

Speaking of cornbread, and as I mentioned previously, I have a serious love for cornbread and milk. We affectionately call it cush cush around our house, pulling the term from an old southern dish. I enjoyed the last piece of cornbread one morning with soymilk for breakfast. Along with a cup of coffee, I was nicely sated until lunchtime.

Now, to extend my leftovers even further, and to tempt our taste buds with a whole new dish, I decided to take these vegetables to a whole new dimension. I was again inspired by one of Karina's fabulous recipes, this time a baked brown rice risotto . First, I sauteed some wilting celery in a castiron skillet with olive oil, pressed a couple of cloves of garlic in there and let it mingle and soften. I dumped some leftover rice (free from work) in, and then poured pureed, leftover Mulligatawny and mixed it all together. I put the entire pan into the oven and let it bake at 250 for an hour. I might have let it go a little too long, because it was quite dry. Then again, we like our food crisp.

Such a simple dish, paired well with a mixed salad of greens and herbs, shredded carrot, dried cherries, and a simple pumpkin-cinnamon vinagrette.

I hope you enjoy leftovers as much as I do, and find something interesting and delicious to do with them. Even if you just eat them cold for breakfast, because some things are good like that.