…yes… I am officially working on a post about my week in Portland!
I was in the fair rainy city Saturday May 11 through Saturday May 18. I got to eat at all the best places – Blossoming Lotus, Los Gorditos, Whiffies, DC Vegetarian, Homegrown Smoker, and many, many more. I even treated myself to a couple of rare cocktails.
I’ll share it all, with too many pictures, very soon. I promise.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to read “more”, which I think means finish books more often. Hello, my name is Adrienne and I have a hard time finishing what I start. As far as I can tell, this is a product of two factors: 1) I read way too fast and 2) I’m willing to read just about anything. My life is constantly picking up random books, reading them, maybe finishing them, maybe not.
When I love something I gobble it up in an afternoon. A 300-page book reads like a leisurely lunch, only the words themselves are consumed at a breakneck pace. As I turn the final pages, I’m left feeling empty instead of full – as in, shouldn’t I have drawn that out a bit?! Most recently I felt that way after spending an afternoon with Mindy Kaling’s memoir. I just didn’t want to stay goodbye. I also have a silly habit of reading the last few pages reeeeaaally sloooowly, as if suddenly putting the breaks on is going to change the fact that I just flew through a really great read.
I also read a lot of humor. What can I say, I like to chuckle.
If I start something and can’t finish it right away (something comes up, dinner needs to be cooked, it’s already 2am), I too often put my book down never to return. So became of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses last summer. I believe I was well into the 360s when I stopped, and I haven’t seen it since.
So I’ve been working on finishing books, with some degree of success. Here’s the motley crew of 2013, in rough order. Take special note of the unfinisheds. If it seems like a lot, just keep in mind that there are many fewer than this time last year!
The Extra Man: A Novel by Jonathan Ames – first book of the year. Very funny. Chronicles the unlikely acquaintanceship of an older one and a younger one, both of whom are still figuring things out and getting by as best they can, too often by the kindness of others, in a dirty little apartment in NYC. Picked it up at a record store in New Paltz when I was there for Christmas because Ames’ name sounded familiar (I absolutely adore “Bored to Death“.) Every night for a week.
Letters to a Fellow Seeker by Steve Chase. Read for Atlanta Friends Meeting Adult First Day School. Very good introduction to Quakerism for those interested. Great take on modern Quaker life and thought. Very short (98 pages), so read it! Afternoon.
Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art by Jennie Hinchcliff – a gift from my very good friend and bestest ever penpal Danielle. The first time I read it I didn’t really take it seriously, but only because the authors really want you to take it seriously. And I found it a bit intimidating. But I read it a second time and liked it a great deal more. In fact, it even inspired me to try mail art, though I’ll never consider my creations “art”. Just decorated letters. I’m okay with that. Thank you Danielle!
Behind the Kitchen Door by Saru Jayaraman – Became a fan of Jayaraman’s work with the Restaurant Opportunities Center when I saw the compelling trailer for this book. Pre-ordered. 42/175 (two chapters). Started reading it the day it arrived and keep meaning to return. You should read this book. It will make you eat out less and feel more grateful for dining out when you do. Once you get an idea of the horrors they endure at $2.13 an hour, you may start finding yourself compelled to thrust wads of ones in the hands of passing waitstaff – especially the bussers and dishwashers.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – I was obsessed with Kaling for most of February. Watched all of the episodes of The Mindy Project in quick succession, read the book in an afternoon. I’m still a very big fan. The book is touching and funny and real, just too short (222 pages). Afternoon.
The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty by Peter Singer – nothing new from Singer here, just in a shiny new package. If you’ve read his essays in Practical Ethics or Writings on an Ethical Life, you can pretty much guess what’s here. I agree with him completely that we – self very much included! – should all be doing much more (read: giving much more cash) to alleviate extreme poverty (instead of spending it on crap like new shoes and dining out). 10% of your income is a good starting place.
The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion To A More Authenthic Contemporary Faith by Marcus J. Borg – should be required reading for everyone who ever considered her or himself a Christian, and especially those who left the faith for good reason but are still interested. This is not the model of God we’re given in fundamentalist churches – this is not a God who is distant and powerful, or male, or a lawgiver or judge, or monarchical in any way. This God is not all-powerful and this God is not in control. But this God is very, very relevant. Incomplete: 60/175 pages. Afternoon.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Moshin Hamin – oh heavens, this was a good one. I picked it up at a thrift store after reading Kiran Desai’s (author of Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, a favorite from last year) endorsement on the back cover: “A brilliant book. With spooky restraint and masterful control, Hamid unpicks the underpinnings of the most recent episode of distrust between East and West. …the narrative is balanced by a love as powerful as the sinister forces gathering, even when it recedes into a phantom of hope.” An evening. Irresistible.
The Devious Book for Cats: A Parody by Fluffy and Bonkers – a gift from my Grandmother Lowe. Actually laugh-out-loud funny. Took me by complete surprise. A couple of days of casual reading. Just wait til you get to the section on cardboard boxes. I’m still chuckling at the USS California Oranges. If you have a cat, and you are obsessed with your cat, you should read this already.
The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living, collected by Eliot Wigginton – another gift from my Grandmother Lowe. Did you know I come from Appalachians? The people of Foxfire are my people. When my grandmother gave me her books I protested, telling her she’d miss them, that she might need them for “reference”. She disagreed. “I lived that life.” Finishing these books – and understanding them – will be a life’s work. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of time to ask my grandmother questions – though, of course, never as much as I would like. Incomplete: a few chapters in to the first book of over ten volumes.
Kiss My Tiara by Susan Jane Gilman – some good ideas, but appalling execution punctuated with bouts of sheer brainlessness. I nearly threw it across the room when, 25 pages in, I read the following: “8. Ice cream is nonpatriarchal. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, milk-shakes–every dairy product we can think of is the exclusive product of females. So, okay, they’re cows. But eating this stuff can be a political act that neatly unites feminist principles with a love of animals. It can be our way of showing support for our bovine sisters! Fuck the vegans, I say. Anyone who doesn’t eat ice cream for purely ‘ethical’ reasons is a killjoy and a moron and ultimately not to be trusted. Pro-ice cream is pro-woman, Baby.” I don’t… I just… oh my god. The stupidity is boundless. It’s not worth my time to tell her that her beloved ice cream is the result of forced impregnation, or that the newborn cow who should be enjoying mama’s milk for nourishment was torn away in mutual anguish to suffer the same torture as she matures (if female) or stuffed in a veal crate for slaughter (if male). At least at the time of writing, Gilman was much too stupid to get that. Besides, milkshakes are what matter to feminists, right? Incomplete: purposefully.
Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark – read while I was hopped up on hydrocodone, recovering from oral surgery. It was funny in places, a breezy read. Rivenbark should stick to southern anecdotes. Attempts at general comedy fall very flat.
The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden – beautiful book, great afternoon read with tea, and a light rain if you can get it. Inspiring illustrations and well-curated poetry. Deep knowledge of plants and bugs. Would have loved to sit with Miss Holden for a spell. As a girl, I enjoyed her “Country Diary”.
Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik. I like his writing in the New Yorker so I picked this one up at the thrift store. I’ve read about thirty pages. Got about 300 more to go. I think I wanted to read it because I’ve never been to France and I like Gopnik’s voice and I felt okay with him taking me there for the first time. But I put it down after a chapter or so and haven’t picked it back up. Maybe later… Incomplete: 30/330 pages.
Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian Restaurant by Amanda Cohen – on loan from my pal Stephanie, who bought it because she wanted it. Now I want a copy. Cohen simultaneously provokes me to try her recipes and never, ever, ever open a restaurant ever. Read it so you can truly understand how heading a food biz is only for a certain rare variety of the exquisitely deranged.
Tea: The Drink that Changed the World by Laura Martin – oh, what fun it was to sit on the porch and read this book while drinking my cuppa. I fell into one of my bad habits by just opening it at random and starting to read, and then I couldn’t stop – so I’m not really sure how many pages I’ve read, just that I absolutely adored it. It’s a history book, not trivia, and Martin is a talented historian. But here’s some – did you know? Onceuponatime tea was so expensive in England that women would dry steeped leaves and sell them with success? Or that tea remained so expensive (and yet so essential to British culture) that, I kid you not, England basically invaded India, took over, and started growing the only crop the Chinese wanted (opium poppies) in trade for their luscious leaves? Yep. That. And much more like it. On loan from the library, I didn’t even start it til it was overdue. Now I guess I should finish. With some earl grey or pouchong or darjeeling, of course. Incomplete: who knows?
Wigfield: The Can-Do Town That Just May Not by Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert – AKA the Strangers With Candy crew. Oh, I hoped to like this one, but it was just pretty stupid. I read about a third of it before I just gave up. I couldn’t get into it, not even imagining the narrator as having the voice of Sedaris, Dinello, or Colbert (alternately attempted). It’s a rotten egg.
The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink (Oxford Companions) – great for skimming. I’ve learned so much! It belongs to the library, but now I kinda want a copy for myself. Incomplete: it’s actually an encyclopedia.
Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek – oh, this book is so good. It came in the mail (a gift from the publisher) and I read til I was late for dinner, captivated. People (and sometimes me) think of running as a sport of the wealthy, even though it doesn’t seem to cost very much to become a runner. But Jurek comes from a fascinating hardscrabble working-class background that makes his transformation all the more remarkable. I plan on giving a thorough review when I’m done, but right now I’m only 87 of about 225 pages in. Incomplete.
Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris. Longtime DS fan (once waited in line for hours after a live reading for signed books) who wanted to love it, but just didn’t. The first few stories were clever enough, but most of them aren’t, and as you get deeper into the book they get so mean-spirited that I just had to stop. I couldn’t keep reading an human author projecting human traits and horrible things onto non-human animals. Tired. Two disturbing mornings. Incomplete (purposefully): 83/159.
Excess Baggage: Getting Out of Your Own Way by Judith Sills – Do you need to be right? Feel superior? Dread rejection? Create drama? Cherish your anger? I think we all do to some extent, and I’m no exception. I got this book to help me explore some issues, but I’m only 30 (of 250) pages in. Not because it’s not excellent, but because self-work is hard and takes time and I need to make it.
Serving Fire: Food for Thought, Body, and Soul by Anne Scott – not so much a book to be read from start to finish but one that invites you to skip around. I was taken in by her anecdote of eating vegan in rural China in the first few pages (“The Gift of the Buddhist Cook”). A little more new-agey than I usually enjoy, but she pulls it off gracefully, and there’s a lot of real wisdom in there. Skipping around. Good breakfast companion. Incomplete.
Pure Imagination: The Making of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Director Mel Stuart with Josh Young – just a completely delightful book, another I read way too fast because it was just so irresistible. If you love the book or the film, it’s worth seeking this one out. I’ve seen the movie way more often than I’m comfortable admitting. Because this book was written by the director rather than a fan, you get a real peek into the world of wonka that you wouldn’t get from a secondhand biographer. I can’t recommend it enough.
Wanted – Bear Cubs for My Children: One Hundred of the Weirdest Posts Ever Seen on Craigslist (and Their Responses) by Gary Fingercastle – silly little craigslist spoof book. Laughed out loud a couple of places, otherwise forgettable and kinda stupid. 215 short pages, 45 minutes. This afternoon, after returning from the thrift store with a new pile of books. Whatever.
Also, I read a lot of cookbooks, but they don’t count the way Dirt Candy does. Also also, there are at least a dozen other books I’m not remembering. But this is a start.
- total listed here: 24; of those, the following were:
- gifts: 4
- on loan from library: 3
- on loan from friend: 2
- from thrift stores: 11
- from independent book stores: 2
- from Amazon.com: 2
Looking forward to the next blog book check-in. Now, the big question:
what are YOU reading? You’re at least as fascinating as I am, and probably much more so. Tell!
On Saturday Nate & volunteered with Georgia Animal Rights & Protection (GARP) at their workday for the Georgia House Rabbit Society. We helped with landscaping outside – clearing branches, making raised bed gardens for lettuces and herbs – and cleaned, organized, and built rabbit houses inside. Here are some pictures of a few of our new friends!
Nate and I worked together to make these five rabbit boxes out of study cardboard boxes, carpet scraps, and tape.
In-process: organizing donations from GARP volunteers.
Working out on the front bank. This area was covered with bushy, spiny foliage. The volunteers cleaned it out and planted some lovelier specimens.
Volunteers dug and laid a new sidewalk, where memorial bricks will be placed.
Nate and a view of the four raised beds. He was instrumental in making the raised beds a reality.
But wait! We had even more fun visiting a Georgia Rat Rescue foster family afterwards. Lucy, BB, and Mary Jane live with an awesome foster named Amy and her sweet kids outside of Atlanta. We discovered that we had a lot of things in common – besides a love of rats! – and enjoyed great conversation while meeting the ratties. Lucy, BB, and Mary Jane were total sweeties. Here are some of the pictures:
BB considering coming out for a treat
Mary Jane munching on an almond
Lucy checking out the almonds in non-dairy yogurt
Got to go!
Time to hide ‘n eat!
Nate loved BB best.
She is the smallest, and oh-so-sweet.
She loved to burrow! It tickled.
Amy actually fosters a whole bunch of other rats, too. They’re all kept in wonderfully clean and neat habitats in different parts of the house. Here’s a picture of four of the rats who aren’t socialized.
If this picture doesn’t make you love ratties, I don’t know what will! Just lookit those little FEET! That tiny hand grasping a teensy tiny piece of an almond! That sweet little ear!
You might notice that the hair is thin on her little thigh. She had a tumor removed and was shaved, and the hair is just growing back there. She’s doing really well, though!
For more sweetness, you should check out Amy’s album “Rat Tea Party” featuring some of her former companions on Facebook by clicking here. You will giggle!
While we were up that way, we took advantage of the fact that Goodwills seemed to be everywhere and visited one. Look at these Star Trek treasures we found!
Inside the encyclopedia
I found four exciting books.
The Pure Imagination book is excellent and will be well-loved if you’ve seen the movie as many times as I have (more than ten times, fewer than thirty). ;-) I read half of it within the first day.
The Constance Curry book is one I’ve wanted to check out since I heard her speak while in college. Glad to finally own it! Goodwill is one of my favorite places to buy books, along with library book sales. I know I should be looking for clothes at thrift stores, but they just don’t interest me like the books do. With a little patience and a keen eye, you can find real treasures.
Since we were up that way, we also stopped at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. I had wanted to make authentic pad kee mao and pad see ew for a while, but both require the correct thai soy sauces. A pad kee mao recipe alone requires five different sauces, three of them types of soy sauce: sweet, black, and thin. Thankfully BHFM delivered all three in giant glass bottles for under $10!
a selection of soy sauce
For future reference, the thai soy sauce is on this aisle, even though it is marked “Chinese”
The big three.
My only disappointment is that each contains a preservative (sodium benzoate). Nothing else funky, but I almost never buy products with preservatives. Sodium benzoate is a very common one – go check your hot sauce, you’ll see if there. It’s not ideal, but it’ll have to do for now.
Nate found these crackers, a new favorite thing. They reminded us of the scrumptious over-fried french fry. You know the one: a little more browned that usual, it’s hung out in the fryer for several cycles. Probably sounds pretty gross unless you’ve had one! These were very crispy with a gentle savory flavor. Plus, they were made with all whole foods: no funky preservatives or artifical flavors or colors. We’ll definitely be getting them again.
That’s enough for now! Stay tuned for adventures with thai soy sauces.
This Sunday I’m looking forward to hearing Dayna Thacker speak about her work “Theories of Everything” currently on display at the Barbara Archer Gallery in Inman Park. You should join me! Here’s a teaser:
John Muir once wrote, “When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.”
Dayna Thacker’s new body of work takes inspiration from the “thousand invisible cords” of modern string theory, ancient Islamic sacred geometry, and the all-pervasive principles of ecology. These complex areas of study have several overlapping concerns: the harmony of relationships; the correlation between the very large and infinitely small; symmetry; repetition; beauty; an appreciation for the elegance of a perfectly balanced system; and the extreme interconnectedness of everything.
The unbalancing of our ecological system is leading inexorably to a terrifying future. In this work, Thacker seeks solace by exploring philosophies that expound the ideas of interconnection. These theories offer the reassurance of an all-encompassing structure within the universe that will persevere. The temporary event of our existence is put into perspective by the contemplation of the sacred and perpetual nature of reality.
Dayna Thacker relocated to Atlanta in 2006 after receiving a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee. She is a Studio Artist at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center and a Hambidge Residency Fellow. She is a Fulton County Arts Council 2009 Residency Fellow and a Forward Arts Foundation 2010 Emerging Artist Award Finalist. This is Thacker’s second solo exhibition at Barbara Archer Gallery.
Thacker’s philosophy reminds me very much of process or relational theology, which is what I studied in graduate school. I still hold the ideas of Alfred North Whitehead, John Cobb, Marjorie Hewitt Suchochki, David Ray Griffin, and Catherine Keller dear as guiding principles in my life. I’m looking forward to hearing more about her perspective as a visual artist.
If you can’t make it to the talk, I encourage you to check out her exhibition, running through May 3 at
Hope you’re having a lovely Sunday. It’s been pretty quiet around here – I got dental implants on Thursday and have been taking it easy since. I made a quick greens stir-fry and served it over ten grain breakfast cereal for breakfast and followed with some Easter treats. This year I was fortunate to get to try Easter specials from two of my favorite confectioners – Mel at Obsessive Confection Disorder and Vanessa at Desiderio Chocolates. This post is all about ‘em!
First up: Obsessive Confection Disorder!!
Easter bowl of vegan cream eggs, caramels, chocolate-dipped crispy treats, and more
I fell in love with Mel’s treats when I tried her Vegan Valentine special from Spencer’s Market in February 2012. I was so impressed with everything, especially the crunchy caramel not-corn. The rose caramels with gold leaf were astonishingly good. I have never been much of a caramel person – even the vegan stuff is usually sticky/tacky and bothers my teeth – but Mel whips up a soft caramel that just melts in your mouth. It was a caramel revelation! If you don’t think you like caramel, you should try OCD’s. I just gave one to my friend Stephanie who came over to wish me well (and bring me vegan doughnuts and chocolate coconut ice cream for my healing toofies, don’t I have the best friends in the world?!) and she SWOONED.
This year Mel tucked Easter caramels away into the Easter Vegg assortment, which included
- Two Foil Wrapped Vegan Creme Eggs
- Two Hippy Dippy Crispy Nibbles
- Three Lavender Caramels
- Three Vanilla Caramels
- Two Strawberry Caramels with Chocolate Drizzle
Her packaging is adorable – and is the only way I’d let an egg carton into my house!
One large Sweet Dream Egg split in half with two mini foil-wrapped eggs
How do you feel about Cadbury Cream Eggs? Growing up, I wasn’t crazy about them, but Nate was. It wasn’t until I tried QueenBalch’s vegan cream egg that I fell for them completely. Unfortunately she closed her Etsy shop fall 2012, and since then the only way to get similar eggs was to make them yourself! The internet has had mixed results with that, though it seems that with at least one of these attempts, it came down to not knowing how to melt chocolate. I’ll probably try the recipe on VegWeb at some point.
But enough about making cream eggs! If I wanted to make them, I would have already! No, I wanted someone else to make them for me, and I am so glad Mel at OCD is that person. Just check ‘em out:
Here’s how they arrived – in giant plastic Easter Eggs!
The Sweet Dream Egg is big enough to share. Here’s one cut in half. Nate and I each got four or five bites out of our side. I’m not gonna lie – I love how generously-sized they are. As with a Cadbury Cream Egg, you can really make a moment out of eating one. It’s a substantive treat, and half of one is a great way to end a meal.
How to describe the taste? The chocolate is dark, rich, bittersweet. The creamy center is flecked with vanilla beans and has a sophisticated vanilla, rather than an overly-sweet, flavor. It has a toasty caramelly flavor owing to Mel’s liberal use of coconut products. But that doesn’t mean it tastes like an almond joy – it just gives the egg depth beyond sweetness. For more droolin’ over the Dream Egg, check out Vegan Favorites’ post.
Short version: if you get the opportunity, you should definitely buy these next year.
In the meanwhile, you can still order my favorite of Mel’s creations: My Favorite Mistake. As she tells it, “Once upon a wild and wooly candy kitchen day, a flurry of creative confectionery-ism, (it’s an industry term), caused vanilla caramel to morph into chocolate caramel with nuts that fell into a vat of bittersweet chocolate. What to do with this accidental morsel of deliciousness? Name it after a Cheryl Crow song and try not to eat it all before sharing it with the rest of the world.” Roasted peanuts, pecans, walnuts and almonds are folded into a fudgy mixture and dipped in quality chocolate. It’s a little salty, plenty chocolately, and one of my favorite things in the world!
The most-amazing Mel! Photo by Jorgen Gulliksen/Napa Valley Register
Mel makes all of her treats with utmost integrity. Several months ago I got to learn more about her philosophy and production. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:
My favorite quote, one around which I base my entire business model: ”Go out into the world and do well, but more importantly, go into the world and do good”, speaks volumes about what I am trying to accomplish. I give away over half the money that I make via OCD sales – otherwise, what’s the point??My company isn’t just committed to animal cruelty free practices, I also insist upon dealing fair & square with the humans involved in the process. I pay my helpers a decent amount of money so they can afford to live sustainably. The ingredients that I use in my products are all top quality and ethically sourced. Those elements come at a price, but it’s a price I will pay as it means that the farmers and other suppliers of said ingredients are being fairly compensated, rather than exploited and left in a state of poverty in spite of their hard work.I use pure powdered vanilla beans to flavor my caramel. I could buy a gallon of vanilla extract for a fraction of the price that’s comprised of alcohol, ethyl vanillin, sugar, water and artificial color. But that’s just gross. I source the pecans (from a vendor) where workers are treated respectfully and compensated generously.My business is micro-small. I do everything by hand the old school way, as opposed to huge pieces of machinery and equipment producing my sweets. Every piece of OCD sweets has been created from scratch by my own hands, then cut and hand wrapped by myself or one of the folks who help me make company a reality. Large scale operations charge less due to the sheer volume and automation of their production. I’m not willing to automate to the point of cutting out the human element.
If that manifesto, combined with the pictures above, don’t make you want to order immediately, I don’t know what will. How about this? Mel also makes a vegan version of caramel Twix! And a vegan Payday! And a vegan Milky Way! And lavender caramel!
Seriously, though, Mel is an amazing person doing real good in the world, and she deserves our support. Go place your order!
Another confectioner I want to feature in this post is the lovely Vanessa at Desiderio Chocolates. You may have heard of her when her “Gourmellows” blew up the internet last year. Vanessa is an Italian confectioner who has developed original vegan recipes for marshmallows, caramels, and – most exciting of all – nougat! She shared some beautiful Easter treats with us all via her Etsy webstore this year:
Our signature vanilla vegan marshmallow layered with salted caramel, cut into a egg shape and dipped in luscious dark chocolate. Not your ordinary store bought mallow caramel eggs! Three (huge) eggs at approximately 2 ounces each – great for sharing! See more. I paid a measly $8 for three huge eggs.
Speaking of value, check out the Gourmellow bunny! This 3.5 oz fella only set me back $5 – astounding considering that it’s hand-made with organic ingredients. The gourmellow consists of a layer of vanilla vegan marshmallow atop a layer of dark chocolate ganache, dipped in dark chocolate. I want to order one of each for all of my favorite people next year.
Vanessa’s Easter treats are gone for the year, but you can still order the following at her Etsy store:
Vegan Smoked Caramel and Whiskey Bar: “Creamy caramel made with Alder Wood smoked salt, layered with melt- in- your- mouth dark chocolate ganache made with Colorado whiskey. Dipped in luscious dark chocolate and sprinkled with Alder Wood smoked salt.”
Stout Caramel Truffle Bar: “Luscious dark chocolate caramel layered with an equally decadent dark chocolate Ganache infused with local Stout, dipped in even more dark chocolate and topped with Grey Celtic sea salt.” Nate adored this one, and you will too if you love a good stout! I’m not a drinker, and it was too intense for me!
And the original Gourmellow: half truffle, half marshmallow, all delicious!
But if you want to get my all-time favorite, you’ll have to specifically request it – it’s so delicious she has a hard time keeping it in stock. I’m referring, of course, to the chocolate-dipped nougatissimo!
I’m not a very good food writer as it is, but I definitely don’t have the words to describe how perfect nougatissimo is. It’s the best possible combination of deep rich chocolate, creamy-sticky nougat, and high-quality roasty-toasty pistachios and almonds. Made in small two pound batches, there’s over a pound of nuts per batch, so you get plenty of crunch in every bite.
If I could only take one treat to a desert island, I’d make it chocolate-dipped nougatissimo. It’s just that good.
So there you have it: my Easter recommendations for this year and every year. Hope you get something sweet today!
Today Nate and I had our dear sweet friend Stephanie over for lunch to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I made Irish seitan stew with oatmeal stout, Irish soda biscuits, and collard greens with tempeh. I am excited to share my recipe for Irish soda biscuits because it was inspired by Nate’s momma Jo and my momma Ann. Nate grew up loving his mother’s Irish soda bread, proudly made for the holiday every March, while I grew up eating my momma’s hand-shaped “cat-head” biscuits as often as she got a notion to make them. This recipe combines a traditional soda bread recipe with biscuit-making techniques for a light and fluffy, sweet and savory biscuit perfect for sopping up a rich stout stew.
Irish soda biscuits
Inspired by Nate’s memories of his momma’s soda bread, my momma’s biscuit-making method, and the Grit’s non-vegan Irish Soda Bread recipe
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra flour for dusting hands & biscuits while shaping
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 4 tablespoons cold Earth Balance or refined coconut oil
- 1/2 to 1 cup raisins or currants, or a mix of both
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk
- 1 generous tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer (available at Whole Foods and natural supermarkets in the baking section)
Preheat oven to 400. Grease a baking sheet with (non-hydrogenated) all-vegetable shortening.
Pour 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soymilk into a 2-cup measuring cup. Pour in the generous tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Use a fork or small whisk to blend and set aside to curdle.
Dry ingredients: In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and caraway seeds. With your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in cold Earth Balance or refined coconut oil until thoroughly blended. Stir raisins and currants into the mix.
Wet ingredients: In a small bowl or measuring cup combine 1/4 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer. Whisk firmly with a strong fork or small whisk. Pour Ener-G mixture into the curdled soymilk and stir with a fork.
Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients. Gently stir and fold until just combined.
Thoroughly flour hands and sprinkle flour over the wet biscuit mixture. It will be wet and sticky. Floured hands and extra flour in the mix will help make it easier to form biscuits.
Grab out a few tablespoons of dough and shape into a biscuit in your dry, floured hands. Place on a baking sheet, one by one, with biscuits touching. Once you’re out of dough, remove baking sheet to pre-heated oven and bake 10-12 minutes at 400, or until biscuits are browned on sides and bottoms.
***Variation***: try this recipe and method for “plain” southern-style buttermilk biscuits by omitting two tablespoons of the sugar, the caraway seeds, and the raisins and currants. Yum!
Dry ingredients: flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, caraway seeds
four tablespoons of Earth Balance added to the dry mixture. Once it has been cut into the mix, the flour will have a sandy texture.
Here’s where I have thrown a small handful of flour on top of the wet biscuit mix.
Grab up a hunk of dough with a spoon and place in floured hands to shape.
Pat gently in floured hands
ever so sweetly
shape into biscuit round
Place gently on greased baking sheet
After baking 10 – 12 minutes at 400
Pull apart and enjoy hot with a warm stew!
On that note, I highly recommend the Grit’s Irish Mock-Beef Stew recipe. I made it today but substituted fresh, homemade beefy seitan for the chunky beef-style TVP. Seitan is easy to make when you use Terry Hope Romero’s steamed seitan recipe from Vegan Eats World! Here’s how I merged and changed a couple of her recipes to make the ultimate beefy-style seitan:
- 1 1/2 cups vegan beef bouillon, prepared then chilled – I used the Superior Touch Better than Bouillon No Beef Base
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated on a microplane or grater … just watch your fingers!!
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 cups vital wheat gluten flour (please note: original recipe calls for 1 3/4, but it makes a too-soft dough to me.)
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
Wet ingredients: In a large measuring cup, whisk together bouillon, garlic, soy sauce, canola oil, tomato paste, and dried thyme.
Dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, stir together vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, chickpea flour, and black pepper.
Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly with a strong rubber spatula. As Terry says, “as the flour absorbs the broth a moist dough will rapidly form. When all the broth is absorbed, use both hands to fold the dough in a kneading motion for 2 – 3 minutes.” Don’t be afraid to really twist and press and pull on the dough, okay? You’ll see strands of gluten start to form and that is perfect. Really get in there and push and press on it. Once you’ve done this for about 3 minutes, let the dough rest for 10 or so.
Terry demonstrated her tin-foil seitan steaming method at the Atlanta Veg Fest last November and people were thrilled. It’s a great way to make tasty seitan without boiling broth for an hour. In this recipe, you just separate the rested dough into four pieces and secure them in tin-foil pouches. There’s a great diagram in Vegan Eats World, so buy the book if you haven’t already!
Set the four packets up in a makeshift steamer (check out my makeshift steamer here) and steam for 35 minutes. Remove packets carefully with tongs and set on a dinner plate to cool – do not unwrap until cooled! I hastened the cooling process by setting the plate in the freezer for a while. Once cooled, unwrap, slice, and use in recipes as desired.
Sliced “beefy” seitan
Browning in my cast-iron skillet
Silky St. Patrick’s Day Seitan Stew with Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout!
Recipe loosely based on the one from The Grit’s signature cookbook
So… what’d you do for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you celebrate? I was just glad to have a little company – it brightens my mood to cook for others, especially a friend as dear as Stephanie. I’ll probably spend the rest of this lazy Sunday drinking decaf Irish breakfast and cross-stitching. Not bad, eh?
So, yesterday (March 10) was my birthday! On Saturday my sweet Nate and best pals Stephanie and Colin threw me a surprise Downton Abbey-themed party. While we celebrated all weekend, this post is just about the gut-bustin’ Saturday afternoon shindig, or Birthday Observed. I’ll have to share another post about what I did on my actual birthday, but for now, enjoy!
This post is one of the longer ones, so I’m hiding it behind a cut. There are just so many good pictures. Interested in period costumes, parlour games, and brandy on fire? Click here to keep reading this post.
Tomorrow, I bake.
Several times a year I like to take advantage of holidays to do a lot of baking and raise money for good causes. This Valentine’s Day I’m raising funds for the Georgia Rat Rescue, a small foster-based rescue that does great work in my home state. One day I would like to have a bake sale at a bookstore, cafe, or other high-traffic spot, but for now I have good luck dropping off trays of treats at Nate’s office downtown for his colleagues to enjoy/destroy. The Oatmeal Cream Pies are notorious.
Proceeds from the sale will allow me to purchase food and supplies for the little ones, like sweet BB:
BB is the smallest of the four “Hokusai Girls” sisters and is a Russian Blue Berkshire Dumbo female. Her bio says she loves being held and licks a lot, sometimes giving gentle love nips on your fingers. A sweetie! I would adopt her in a minute if I thought the cats would be okay with it.
One day I hope I’m in a place where I can adopt some rat friends. Rats are very easy to care for and not all that expensive as companion animals go. They need to live in pairs (at least pairs – they suffer immeasurably without companions) and need a cage large enough to run, jump, and play comfortably. They like to be taken out a few times a day to explore and interact with “their human”. Rats are highly intelligent and are noted for their empathy. In a study, researchers found that rats release their fellow rats from an unpleasantly restrictive cage when possible.
“The free rat, occasionally hearing distress calls from its compatriot, learned to open the cage and did so with greater efficiency over time. It would release the other animal even if there wasn’t the payoff of a reunion with it. Astonishingly, if given access to a small hoard of chocolate chips, the free rat would usually save at least one treat for the captive — which is a lot to expect of a rat.” Source; Washington Post write-up
We don’t need to do (painful, contrived) tests to “learn” what we should already know about non-human animals. Normal observation under typical circumstances is enough to see them demonstrate familiar attitudes: pain, longing, playfulness, sweetness, the satisfaction of yummy food or a warm bed. No more ”evidence” for treating our fellow creatures with dignity and respect is needed. I’m only hope the researchers were changed by this experience, as so many readers of this study have been.
But let’s be honest: I used to be a tad skittish around ratties. Two of my favorite folks at Earlham had rats – Willa and Bartelby – and though I found them a little cute, I worried about getting bitten or peed on! (Neither of these things happened, by the way.) It wasn’t til Nate and I successfully rehomed a family of wild rats at our current residence that I got to know how wonderful they are. We didn’t use traps or poison (of course) for moral reasons, but caught and relocated them with Hav-A-Hart traps. In the process of capturing the family we got to observe their behavior towards one another. When one rat became trapped, I saw the oldest, wisest rat willingly become trapped a day later so she could be reunited with her friend. It was so touching.
Then, of course, I met my pal Stephanie’s late rat Stella. She was sweet and gentle and adorable when munching on a Georgia pecan. I’ve gushed about her on the blog here before, and I miss her very much. So much, in fact, that Nate and I are considering becoming fosters for the Georgia Rat Rescue in the future. We’re not sure we can commit full time to rat parenting – after all, we have three cats! – but we’re interested in helping out on a short-term basis.
In the meanwhile, I’ll keep gathering materials and funds for those who are already doing good work with the little ones. All proceeds from this Wednesday’s sale will go to the Rat Rescue’s current fosters. They need fleece blankets, food, toys, and habitat items. After shopping for items, any money leftover will go their vet. Wish me luck!
Hey y’all, thanks for your enthusiasm around my catch-up posts – they were fun to write. I’m also glad to know that you still love me even though I subject you to some of the longest posts in the history of blogging. I’ll try to do better. Here’s a start: the first week of February!
February 1st was a day of celebrations. I began the day with a cup of tea and made a batch of chocolate birthday cupcakes for my best pal’s sweet little boy Gabe. They came down to Atlanta to celebrate with a pizza party and a trip to the Legoland Discovery Center. Later that day I picked up some tasty gifts for my pal John’s housewarming party. He wins Best Housewarming Host of the Year for providing what he referred to as “an interactive dessert”:
A make-your-own doughnut bar! First you grab a mini doughnut and dip it in either maple syrup, chocolate syrup, or peanut butter. Then you dip it in one (or more) of the eight toppings: chocolate chip cookies, coconut, peanuts, pecans, almonds, double chocolate crushed cookie, crushed biscoff cookies, chocolate chips! I admit I had a few of the peanut butter-double chocolate crushed cookie combo. Mm!
I also spent a lot of time chatting with new friends, including Yu-Kai of Kai Lin Art here in Atlanta. The whole experience reminded me of why I vowed at the beginning of the year to get out of my comfort zone more often.
Didja know? February is Letter Month! It’s a simple challenge: mail one item through the post every day that it runs, and answer every letter you receive. So far I have not received any letters, which is sad, but I’ve been dutiful about sending. On the first I mailed Jessica; on the second, my penpal Danielle. On Monday I filled a lot of bills which really don’t count but OK I AM COUNTING THEM.
Tuesday I mailed my college pal/roommate Liz to tell her about my new interest in Star Trek:TNG. Wednesday, Bitch Magazine, a sweet note about how much I loved the “Habit[at]” issue (check these articles available online: “Game Changer: Why Gaming Culture Allows Abuse and How We Can Stop It” and “The Audacity of Home: POOR Magazine’s New Paradigm of Place“) with a subscription check. Thursday (yesterday) I was bad and didn’t mail anyone, so I must send two letters today. WANT A LETTER? Click here to add your address to my private online book. Seriously – I’ll mail you!
But back to Saturday. My sweetie had a crazy cravin’ for tacos, and since he gets what he wants, I made ‘em:
Just some lil’ ol’ TVP tacos with homemade taco spice, garlicky refried beans, and garlicky achiote rice (Viva Vegan recipe) with cilantro. I think we also ate an avocado each, because that’s how we roll.
Oh, and Dough Bakery’s King Cake for dessert. Because why not?
Side note #2: If you talked to me at the end of January, you heard that I was planning on embarking on a pre-Birthday cleanse a la last May starting February 1. That was going so well til Friday night when my poor blender started smoking like the devil while blending a wimpy raw soup! Thankfully it was still under my extended warranty. SADLY, it means no raw pre-birthday cleanse… til I get another one. Cleanse can’t be done with a blender or juicer, y’all! :(
Adventures of Lua the kitten
Saturday I caught her cleaning Perl.
She was found atop a sleeping Rar.
Do you have any idea, Miss Rar?
Ok, maybe a little bit of an idea.
Eventually she settled into a double-decker nap.
I cooked more good stuff, like this Aji Amarillo-marinated tempeh with more achiote rice and sweet potato fries with Terry Romero’s “So Good So Green” aji dipping sauce.
The tempeh is also her recipe from Viva Vegan – it’s the yellow chile grilled tempeh with aji amarillo. Terry calls for aji amarillo paste, but I was successful using about a tablespoon of the powder that I picked up when buying it for my cousin Laurel Ann in Portland last summer. Laurel Ann lived in Peru for a bit and says that aji amarillo is pretty essential for authentic cookin’! I’m glad I was able to find it for her at The Spice and Tea Exchange.
If you don’t have Viva Vegan yet and you like food, you should probably buy it pronto. It is fast becoming one of my best-loved books. Vegan Eats World is similarly awesome.
Afterwards, we watched some Star Trek: TNG with the cats:
Oh hai Captain
Looking for ways to use up Sunday’s green sauce, I made seitan saltado for dinner Monday night. As Terry Romero explains in Viva Vegan, it’s a Latin American stir-fry influenced by Peru’s Japanese and Chinese immgrants. Slices of meat (in our case, seitan) are wok-seared with veggies in a tangy soy-based sauce, along with tomatoes, aji amarillo, and french fries.
Yep, french fries. Except I used our gorgeous local organic sweet potatoes.
Oh, if only I were eating this right now.
Monday I worked and got paid and Nate did the same but he had a really hard day at work (and was also feeling ill) so I took him on a date to one of his favorite restaurants, Green Sprout. He tried something new – the homestyle tofu. Homestyle tofu is usually just tofu in brown sauce, but lemmee tell ya, Green Sprout has possibly the best brown sauce I’ve ever tried. Gently sweet, yes, but also redolent with ginger and and an undercurrent of smoky spice. I had my-(ever since Leigh S. introduced me to it)-usual, wok-seared “chicken” with lotus root.
Since we were feeling fancy, I ordered dessert: fresh Fuji apple slices battered and fried and topped with sesame sugar:
Afterwards we went home and got caught up with RuPaul’s Drag Race:
Monica made an announcement and folks stayed mad at Serena til she Cha-Chaed herself off the runway for good. RE: Monica, I think Carmen Carrera said it best following the announcement: “I’m getting flooded with messages about Monica Beverly Hillz revealing that she, in fact, is transitioning and how RuPaul is still ‘allowing’ her to compete… Let me fill you in on something… Transwomen have competed in drag pageants and performed in drag shows for YEARS. People need to (stop) trying to draw boundaries on what drag is or isn’t. Drag is an art, an exaggeration of femininity, usually with the twist that the performer was born male. Period. It’s an art that is a part of our LGBT community.. And if you didn’t know the “T” in LGBT stands for transgender. Xoxo”
The fabulous Alyssa, who stole the show with her performance of drag daughter Shangela.
Also, I’m really not sure how I made this picture happen, but I think it is AMAZING.
We’ve had a lot of doctor’s appointments this week. Second post-op for my teeth, things are great. Second post-op for Nate’s nose, swell too. Other appointments. After Thursday’s to the far reaches of Snellville, we took the opportunity to stop for The Best Samosas In The World at Zyka.
Like the cupavci mentioned in my last post, I have been enjoying these samosas (on occasion!) for a decade. They’re totally unlike your standard issue bland starchy-mashed-potato-in-pastry samosa. Instead, several vegetables are cooked together in lots of spice and oil and folded into the familiar triangle before deep frying.
I like how they serve the samosas with a separate box of sliced onion, jalepeno, lemon, and dipping sauces. The cooling pinkish sauce (pictured above) is not vegan, but the tamarind one is friendly.
And yes – that’s the bottom of a steering wheel in the picture above. They’re so irresistible we gobbled them in the car!
Inspired by our snack, I made a quick stop at the Patel Plaza grocery for a few items before heading home. That’s six pounds of beans and pulses, five boxes of Ready to Eat baigan bharta, pav bhaji, and bhindi masala for Nate to take to work, two cans of young jackfruit in brine, and ten pounds of great basmati rice.
I was inspired to share my shopping trip picture by Dawn at Vegan Fazool, who recently shared an amazing haul of jackfruit, agar, fresh noodles, and mock meats from her local market here. She also inspired me to get some jackfruit for the first time, though I’ll be using Terry Hope Romero’s recipe from Vegan Eats World to make carnitas. I love what she did with the homemade pull-apart buns!
Nate and I were still hungry – samosas aren’t much of a lunch – so I threw together one of his all-time favorite meals, pink lentil curry over ajwain-studded basmati rice.
The pink lentil curry recipe comes from my most-loved Indian recipe book,
The Spice Boxby Manju Shivraj Singh.
Some of the ingredients:
red / pink lentils, or masoor dal
garam masala and ajwain seeds
Nate’s former co-worker Vikrant bought the garam masala to us from India after he visited family. He took a liking to Nate when he first started working there and routinely brought in the fragrant homestyle Indian curries I prepared – and the Ready to Eat meals, of course!
You’ll see I note “high-quality” ajwain seeds on the bottle because for a time I had some low-quality ajwain seeds that really stunk. I took a chance one time and restocked at Dekalb Farmer’s Market once, when they first started getting ajwain in the spice section, and it was a huge mistake. I always get my high-quality ajwain seeds from The Spice House in Chicago, though I tried some at The Savory Spice Shop in St. Petersburg in November and they were quite good as well. They’re also sold as ajowan and carom seeds.
So what do you do with ajwain seeds? Simple. Just add them to the pot when you add the rice, about 1/2 – 1 tsp per cup of rice. Some believe that they help with digestion. It’s related to caraway and cumin, but it has a thyme-y taste owing to natural thymol compounds. You can also add ajwain to fresh breads like naan and roti, or even just homebaked loaf bread.
The Spice Box is important in part because of the author’s section on “Basic Procedures”, where she explains badi (dried ground mung bean drops), baghar, how to break open a coconut, how to make coconut milk, how to roast cumin seeds, how to make curds, ghee, yogurt, tamarind water, and sprouts, and how to properly grind dals and spices, among others.
The baghar technique has served me well. Above, observe cumin seeds sizzling in a tablespoon of pure canola oil. After two minutes it will be removed from the heat and cayenne and coriander will be added to sizzle briefly. The mixture will be poured into the cooked lentils to lend an incredible depth of flavor.
Therefore, the basic definition of a baghar is thus: a seasoning made by heating oil in a small frying pan or saucepan, adding cumin or mustard seeds and frying these seeds until they pop, and then adding other spices. That little glass pan is my dedicated baghar maker. :)
The Indian grocery had a special on frozen fully-cooked pantra/patra varieties, so I picked up a box:
Cooked, with sesame seeds. A bit dry but still tasty. Watch out for the green chilis, though!
My contribution: pink lentil curry over ajwain basmati with fried onions on top.
I had to hold Lua back from my curry!
A sweet little Thursday afternoon nap.
Joined, at last, by the little one.
So, today. I’m working from home on projects for Vegetable Husband, doing a little cleaning, and trying to think up something fun or delicious (or both) for tonight. Anyone going to see Identity Thief? The Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy dream team draws me in, but it’s getting terrible reviews. Am I in the mood to potentially waste ten bucks? Hmmm…
Heya, this is part two of my giant January catch-up post. Get started with Part One here - especially if you like cats. There are so many cat pictures.
Monday January 13
I woke up early to make a delicious chana masala before heading down to AmericasMart. I recommend the Post Punk Kitchen recipe. It’s the one I’ve used for years with only minor variations.
Adding the tamarind.
My not-so-secret ingredient: a giant dollop of pure organic coconut cream. A fistful of cilantro to finish, a pile of basmati rice, and you’ve got yourself a meal.
That night we met up at a Joystick, a classic arcade/bar, to remember Aaron Swartz. After a long conversation about internet activism and data liberation, we distracted ourselves from sorrow – and celebrated Aaron’s incredibly inspirational life – with X-Men and Mrs. Pac-Man. You gave us so much, Aaron – we only hope you knew how deeply loved and admired you were while you were with us. You continue to inspire.
If you haven’t already signed the petition to remove those responsible for pushing the case much, much further than it needed to go, it’s still a good idea. The best place to keep up with the fair use and transparency issues that Swartz championed is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I’m also fond of the Free Software Foundation.
Wednesday January 16 – Sunday January 27
Everything changed. My poor sweetheart had surgery on Wednesday to correct his deviated septum and reduce the turbinates. It was really, really hard on him, but I stayed by his side and gave him medicine every four hours and helped him however possible. I was grateful that Margie was flexible with my hours, because I really didn’t want to leave his side.
I took one picture of him while he was laid up in the bed recovering, but it’s so pitiful it breaks my heart to look at it – so of course I’m not sharing it here! I will, however, show his first solid foods:
Sunday supper: barbeque tofu and sweet potato souffle.
He was also thrilled when I made use of the bevy of Veggie Hubby greens in a variation of Bryant Terry’s gumbo zav, or gumbo z’herbes, from The Inspired Vegan.
In progress: local organic cabbage, kohlrabi greens, kale, collards, and parsley.
Served with sweet potato biscuits.
As much as my food helped revive his spirits, I’m pretty sure the most helpful thing was all the Star Trek: The Next Generation we watched. We were both completely new to the series (and Star Trek in general), so this was the perfect time to dive in. WE ARE OBSESSED.
Monday January 28
At long last, my sweet started feeling better! I made a special breakfast:
We celebrated at Joystick with drinks and games and a joyous reunion. Everyone was so excited to see Nate again, not least of all, Brit:
My favorite part of the night was ambushing our friends at Mrs. Pac-Man and shoving in quarters so they had to keep playing. Y’all, there’s no more stressful game than Mrs. Pac-Man. I loved seeing ‘em sweat!!
Tuesday January 29
A good day is one that begins with a flock of red-winged blackbirds.
Unseasonably warm weather permitted us to open the windows for our little sweets. They can’t resist an open window. Housework is always easier with a fresh breeze, so I got all caught up.
That night we headed over to our pal Christin’s for the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Five. Have you seen the amazing Look Book that she made for me? It is the bestest! I love it so much that I CRIED when she gave it to me. I know I shared a few pictures in a previous entry, but if you click the link you can see the whole book. You should also check out her fantastic Episode One: RuPaullywood or Bust re-cap (if you’ve seen the episode ALREADY, of course!).
My favorite performer is by far Seattle’s Premier Jewish Narcoleptic Drag Queen, Jinkx Monsoon! I also have a teensy crush on the crazy Alyssa. And who doesn’t love Detox and Alaska? Still, my favorite to win is the absolutely gorgeous Lineysha Sparx. It’s time for a Puerto Rican queen to take home the 100,000. It’s just time.
Wednesday January 30
Wednesday started much earlier than usual with a trip up to Mt. Arabia to help one of my favorite folks with an art project. He made a call on Facebook a day or so prior for helpers and my taste for adventure overrode the fact that it was a before-dawn assignment. Once there, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to spend a Wednesday morning. The air was still a bit warm from the stormfront moving in, but the rain stayed at bay most of the time we were there. I was mostly there to schlep props up and down the mountain, but I still had a really lovely time. The photographer Andre was outstanding and such a pleasure to interact with. Here are a couple of his shots:
If you were there, you would have seen me just out of the frame, assisting with the fabric. Let’s be real here, though – the wind did most of the work.
I was a bit tired for Vegetable Husband deliveries but they went fine, despite the fact that the city was under a Tornado Watch through 8pm. :) I made it home by 4:30pm and got to work on a special dinner for Nate. We still celebrate our dating anniversaries monthly on the 30th. He always draws something for me and I almost always make him dinner from scratch (unless we go out).
I made tempeh crab cakes (crabfakes) served over local organic pea shoots with a spicy remoulade:
They were accompanied by a gingery coconut-pumpkin soup and the creamiest ever scalloped potatoes with kohlrabi. Sorry, no pictures of the potatoes.
All three recipes were heavily modified versions of Alicia Simpson’s in Quick & Easy Vegan Celebrations. The scalloped potatoes needed about 5 times longer to cook than she called for, though… and the crabfakes needed a fair bit of jazzing up with spices, tamari, and vinegar to suit my taste.
Thursday January 31
The last day of a pretty good start to 2013. Though I lost track of my resolutions while Nate was sick, I had a good time, surrounded myself with kind people, and cooked great food.
You know, like vegan chick’n and waffles:
Big thanks to to Bianca Phillips of VeganCrunk for sharing these amazing recipes in her new book Cookin’ Crunk: Eating Vegan in the Dirty South! If you love Southern food, veganized, and don’t already have Cookin’ Crunk, you must get it immediately! She has all kinds of recipes for your favorites, like Memphis-style BBQ sauce, brown-sugar baked tofu ham in redeye gravy, no-tell Ro-tel cheese dip, pimiento cheese sandwiches, devilled egg bites, spicy seitan hot wangs, and more. You might also enjoy following her daily eats at VeganCrunk.Blogspot.com.