Thursday, February 07, 2008

The good, the bad, and the sad

As those of you who are regular readers of this blog (mom), you know well enough that there could be anywhere from 2 days, to 2 months between posts. I always have good intentions of posting on a regular basis, and even go so far as to take pictures of my food, download them onto the computer, and even begin the post and save it to finish later. Then things happen, I forget or get distracted, or I just can't think of anything to say and get self-concious and never post. This is something I set my sights on to resolve this year. I started off pretty good, and then the inevitable happened. My camera broke, and my laptop usb connection went caput all at the same time. At first I was fairly disappointed, and even teared up a little bit. My poor, devoted camera. What would I do without it? Then some other things happened in my life that called for my attention. Another, and equally as important, resolution I made to myself this year was to put more focus into important things in my life that need attention. So, instead of killing myself by attempting to juggle all of these things and inevitably droping one of them, I decided to pick and choose. Sadly, blogging came out at the bottom. It was becoming a little too tedious for me to handle, and it's supposed to be fun, aint it? I've also discovered that, due to health reasons, my diet needs a bit of tweaking. I have a feeling that the next month or two will consist of things like rice, veggies, and tofu. Nothing all that picture worthy. We are going to NYC tomorrow for Candy's birthday, so we will be taking pictures with her camera, and if I can get to a computer somewhere and download the pictures somehow, I will put them up. But, after that, I will be pretty sparse. So, there you have it. I hate leaving you all, just when I was getting somewhat of a comitted reader base. I have enjoyed getting to know you all, and really appreciate all of your wonderful comments. I'll still probably hang around everyones blogs, just because food porn is my guilty pleasure. Keep cooking and eating and I'll see you around!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Gluten-free vegan, or, as I like to refer to it, glugan. For the month of Januaray, you can all affectionately refer to me as glugan, for that is what I am. I have been wanting to cut gluten out of my diet for a while, since doing some research and thinking that it could have something to do with health issues I have been dealing with. I decided to take the opportunity to try it for the first month of the new year. It has been more difficult that I originally intended, and I have accidentaly slipped up a coulple of times. But, all around I feel better, and much lighter. I also have fewer stomach aches and digestion problems. I might carry on with it past Janurary, to see what else happens. Here are a few meals that I have enjoyed so far. As you can tell, I'm still in baking mode.

Baking can be pretty frustrating when you are omitting not only binders like eggs, and fats like butter, but also gluten which offers structure and balance to your baked goods. But, having gained some impecable vegan skillz over the last year and a half, I have found ways to handle the seemingly unavoidable disaster that would ensue from these missing links. Lucky for me, my favorite baked good- cornbread- is just as good without any of these things.

I made the Mole Skillet Pie from V-con, using brown rice flour for wheat flour, and blue cornmeal. It looks a little dry on top, but the mole sauce, and all the sour cream you will put on top moistens it right up.
Shown with yummy fried plantains in the background, and Joanna's homemade sour cream. Yummm!

Next, I tried attempting my second favorite baked treat-sweet bread. I made zucchini banana bread, following the banana bread recipe from Gluten Free Goddess. I used Arrowhead Mills All-purpose GF mix, and subbed much of the oil for applesauce. I also didn't have any xanathan, and used cornstarch instead of arrowroot, and raisins for chocolate chips. The result was, well...
..a bit of a crumble mess, but still edible and pretty fantastic with dabs of whipped earth balance. I ate my pieces with sweet tangerines from the farmers market, and a fork to make it easier to get from the plate to my mouth.

We were jonesin' for pizza during the week, and I had a bag of Pamela's GF Bread mix in the pantry. I was going to make a loaf of a bread for sammiches, but decided against it when I saw how simple the pizza crust recipe looked. It made enough for two crusts, but I decided to take one half and turn it into a foccacia.
Patted the dough out, poked around with my fingers, and sprinkled on some olive oil, garlic, salt, and dried herbs before baking.
The pizza, spread with pesto and tomato sauce, topped with sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta from V-con.

Both were so fantastic. We couldn't keep our hands off the focaccia while waiting for the pizzas to bake. I will definately be using Pamela's mix again, even if I go back to eating gluten. (*Disclaimer: the mix does contain honey.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New year, same me

It's a new year. With that comes new things. New foods to try, new posts to type, new people to meet, new challenges to face, new resolutions to stand by, new chances to make a difference. Even with all of this, I still can't manage to write a regular post. I hit somewhat of a lazy streak (lying in bed as we speak), but have also gotten many things accomplished. Above all, I have devoted myself to finding ways to keep myself happy. This has meant taking a little time. Time to unwind, relax, and do what's best. My relationship with food lately hasn't been very healthy. Veggies took a backseat, and baked yummies came to the forefront. Although this is fine for a while, it can reak havoc on your digestive and immune system. So, I have taken a big step to start the year off right. I decided to be gluten free for the month of January. I have been wanting to do it for a long time, believing it might be contributing to some health problems. It has proven to be a bit more difficult than I originally intended. It has also been exciting, interesting, painful, annoying, frustrating, and delicious.

So, just because I haven't shown my face around the blog world for a while, I have still kept myself busy making and eating good food. First of all, I want to start with Christmas dinner. Even though it is so far behind us and I'm sure we all just want to forget about the craziness, I think it was a pretty good dinner, and worth showing off. Since we only had 24 hours in Houston due to work schedules, our original holiday plans for Christmas eve dinner didn't work. Instead, it was a small dinner with me, my mom and Candy. For that reason, I made a very modest, yet super awesome meal.

First, the non-meat loaf, made with beef style TVP, sauteed carrots, celery, onions, and garlic with herbs, nooch, breadcrumbs, and ketchup. Glazed with yummy tomato-lemon preserves I picked up from the farmers market the weekend before. Looks just like the loaf of my childhood. For a different kind of side dish, I wanted to combine the savoryness of roasted vegetables, with the crunchiness of fresh vegetables. I picked up fresh green beans from work, and roasted them with baby beets from the farmers market, and fresh herbs. I got small red radishes from the farmers market and thinly sliced them, then lightly sauteed some arugula I picked up at the same time. I added some toasted walnuts, and garnished with sliced oranges. Delicious, fresh, and fun!Here is the whole plate. The "meat" loaf crumbled a bit more than I would have liked, but it still had an amazing flavor and texture. We also had roasted garlic mashed potatoes, just to add to the comforting feeling of the meal.

Since my birthday is so close to Christmas- New Years Eve- it oftentimes gets overshadowed by all of the rest of the holiday madness. This year, though, it seemed like it was in a totally different month. I asked my family a few months prior to meet us in Ft. Worth for a special lunch. Since my aunt and uncle live in Ft. Worth, my grandparents live 1 hour outside of Dallas, and my mom was visiting them for Christmas, they all humbly agreed and made it happen for me. I was so excited that I would finally get to try out The Spiral Dinner, and share the experience with my family.

I had the Viva Las Migas, basically a tofu scramble chocked full of beans, corn, tomatoes, potatoes and spices, topped with avocado and sour supreme and served with corn chips (or tortillas). I had mine with a side of potato salad, just because I heard it was awesome...and it was! This was one of the best brunches ever. I can't wait to go back and try the other amazing food they offer.
Here is Candy and the family-minus me (I was taking the picture). I was a bit disappointed that they all ordered just a bowl of soup (except Candy or course, she knows the value of kickass vegan food), but they look happy enough, huh? In the background is the soda machine- all natural and organic soads, and the condiment dreams of vegan's dreams- braggs, nooch, natural sweetners, and organic ketcup and mustard.
Here is the birthday girl (middle) with her Nanny and Lovely Lady in front of the diner. I just want to show off my birthday outfit. Too bad you can't see the kick ass red boots I got for Christmas..
I also want to show off what I got my mom for christmas. Her name is Sparky, and she is a gift sponsorship from Farm Animal Sanctuary. Her flock got attacked by a bear on their farm and the survivors were sent to the sanctuary for safety. I think she is beautiful, and mom was showing her off like a grandchild. How cute.
After all was said and done, Candy and I ordered a Jamaican Jerk Tempeh sammich for dinner since we had an 8 hour drive to New Orleans ahead of us. It was yummy and everything I could ask for, as was the delicious piece of carrot cake. Go to Spiral Diner as soon as you can! It won't disappoint, seriously.

There is more, but we'll save that for another post. It's good to be back! See ya around in the blogworld, ya'lls.

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!