What’s Cooking This Week and Giant Veg

Last Friday I went to the neighborhood farmer’s market–the second of this year.  I love having it a few blocks away, and having it on a Friday makes it possible for me to plan the following week’s menu around fresh, seasonal veg.

That’s what I thought.  Until the weather gods decided that summer is canceled this year.  Yup, sorry.  All those delightful warm 70ish days are a thing of the past.  I’m now wrapped up in blankets and this rain is cramping my style.  I know that living in the PNW means accepting a rainy existence.  But I’ve also logged enough years up here to know that a day of sun will happen.  It just has to.

We did get an afternoon of sun on Saturday that I spent yanking some weeks out wearing my new (to me) sunhat.  Maybe I jinxed summer by buying a sunhat in the first place.  You know, like when you wash your car and it rains?

Alright, nobody likes weather whiners, so on with the food.  I said all that weather nonsense to say that the farmer’s market was slim pickings this week.  I bought some fresh, dried beans (I’m determined to move away from canned beans), and some snap peas.  That’s it.  That does not a week of meals make.  My companion bought a beautiful chocolate mint truffle, so not all was lost.

This week will bring veg-ful, Asianish meals, and leftovers:

Thai Green Curry.  I will try and remember to document making this meal.  I’m still a curry noob, but this recipe from Vegan Table is really excellent and easy.  No, I don’t make my own curry, I buy it in a jar, but I’m okay with that.  There’s tons of coconut milk which cuts the spice and makes a warm, rich stewy dish.

Pad Thai.  This is the loosest sense of this term.  I like the pad thai recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance a lot, but Andy prefers the recipe in Vegan Table.  I enjoy it too and it has more veggies and less oil.  I’ll post more about it later this week.

Both of those meals make a ton of leftovers, so that will be the extent of my pre-planned meals.

However, last night we had lovely dinner guests over.  My pregnant, vegan friend Becca and her husband, Shane.  With the chilly weather and abundance of collard greens, I decided to go southern and make these amazing biscuits, citrus collard greens, tempeh, and bread pudding.  It was delicious, if I do say so myself.

And these lovely dinner guests came bearing gifts!  In the form of freak show sized vegetables from Shane’s greenhouse and a bread machine!

veggies

Gigantic Veggies

bread machine

Bread, here I come

Now that bread has shot up to $5/loaf (when and why did that happen?!), I’d like to stop that purchase if possible and have us make our own!  If anyone has any great bread machine recipes, let me know!

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Filed under Being Vegan, Dinner, Entrees

What I’m Eating This Week Besides Cheesecake

The Menu:

Tofu Pot Pie in Your Eye from Please Don’t Feed the Bears

Brent’s Septic Pasta from PDFB

Old School Orzo (from PDFB) and Rosemary Roasted Tofu (Vegan Soul Kitchen)

Chinese Take Out–a stir fry from PDFB

Enough about regular food.  Yesterday I made my first vegan cheesecake.  While there definitely are recipes that more closely mimic a typical cheesecake by using vegan cream cheese, I’ve wanted to make this recipe since I saw it.  It’s a raw lemon cheesecake that doesn’t call for anything processed.  I adore Joy’s blog–I’ve gotten some of my favorite recipes from her like her pumpkin scones…  those have become a holiday-must.

cheesecake

Raw Vegan Cheesecake

The crust is easily whipped up in a food processor–walnuts, coconut, raw cocoa powder (got at whole foods), and held together with the magical date.

The filling is made up of cashews that have been soaked.  Cashews are incredibly creamy when soaked and blended.  They can be used for cheese sauces and anything requiring a creamy taste and texture.  Joy calls for Meyer lemons, but I found that other varieties worked fine.  Added to the cashews is lemon juice, zest, agave, virgin coconut oil, water, salt, and vanilla.  The sweetness comes from the lemons and agave, and the fat from coconut oil.

If you aren’t a huge coconut fan, I promise this really doesn’t taste like coconut at all.  Andy isn’t a huge fan of coconut, but I don’t think he even noticed.  It’s so fatty and rich tasting… delicious.  It set in my freezer in about two hours.  Joy says that this will keep in the freezer, wrapped, for up to 6 months… if anyone can savor a cheesecake that long.

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Filed under Being Vegan, Dessert, Dinner, Entrees

Peonies

Enjoying my peonies.  They’re $9/stem at the store, but free from my yard!

peonies

Pretty peonies

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Filed under Gardening Woes

Books of May

As the nice weather rolls in, I find myself outside on our sunny south-facing back porch reading.  I’ve been tearing through novels this month and thought I’d review some of them for you.

Year of the Flood book cover Last night I finished The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, which was excellent and my favorite of the month.  Atwood has long been my favorite author and she hasn’t written a novel I haven’t read.  The Year of the Flood takes place alongside Oryx and Crake, her 2003 science fiction novel which depicts most of humanity being wiped out by a disease except for a new breed of humans that were designed by a scientist nicknamed Crake. 

Oryx and Crake is told by Jimmy the Snowman, whereas The Year of the Flood is told by two different narrators, Toby and Ren, both women in an enviro-cult called The Gardeners.  They are a vegetarian, gardening community who despise the waste and destruction of the Earth and predict a waterless flood will come and hit the reset button on humanity.  They are right, but many of the Gardeners find themselves exposed to the disease and die.  Toby and Ren are each isolated when the waterless flood strikes, so they are safe.  Eventually they find others, some friends, some not, and end up making their way to a new colony of Gardeners that live nearby to the scientists new breed of humans.

Atwood’s dystopian books are hardly typical.  They make the reader uncomfortable because there are many parallels with our current society, Atwood just exaggerates aspects of society to make the settings.  Some of the sentiments reflect the society in Huxley’s Brave New World, such as the desire to look young and the always-watching eye of an overseeing corporation.  I could go on, but even if you are anti-science fiction, give this a try.  It’s not necessary to read Orxy and Crake before or after, they simply overlap.

No. 1 ladies detective agency

For a lighter read, I started the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith which follows Mma Precious Ramotswe, a woman from Botswana who decides to put her keen eye and sixth sense to use by starting a detective agency.  The requests range from missing spouses and children to inconsistent doctors.  The book keeps a fairly light tone, but it does dip into some darker themes.  Ramotswe reflects how she grew up and why she married an abusive man and how much she loves her father.  She is a likable character, strong and efficient.  I also read the second book in the series: Tears of the Giraffe, in which Ramotswe uncovers the mystery of a man who was missing for ten years.

the painted kiss

The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey imagines the life of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt and the relationship he has to a younger woman Emilie Floge.  Klimt exposes Floge to a life much more interesting than the strict one of her family.  Floge falls in love with Klimt and struggles as she sees him woo countless beautiful women, many of whom pose for him.  But as Floge grows up into her own successful woman, she finds she holds a bit of power over Klimt.  The book goes back and forth between pre-WWII times to WWII times in which Floge is hiding out in the Austrian countryside with only her niece.  I enjoy historical fiction and knowing a bit about artists, so this was a good read.

A captains dutyThis next book I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like, but I got it from the library anyway to try and expand my reading horizons.  I saw Richard Philips talking about his book on The Daily Show.  The cover is a little bit Richard Dreyfuss circa Jaws, but as soon as I read the first few pages, I was hooked.  The book follows Philips as his merchant marine ship is overtaken by Somali pirates in 2009.   Somali pirates have taken over a huge chunk of Africa’s East Coast and ships are ill equipped to ward them off.  Philips is a strict captain and he had his crew brush up on their pirate drills as they began undertaking the most dangerous route in the world.

The preparation pays off because when pirates do finally board the ship, the crew disappears into their predetermined engineer room.  The Chief Engineer cuts power to the boat, which deters the pirates from commandeering the ship and taking it to the Somali coast.  Philips thinking on his feet is nerve-racking, but honestly hilarious.  When the pirates demand Philips to get his crew on the deck, he goes over the intercom and announces, “Crew, the pirates want you on the deck, so go ahead and come up please.”  Philips covers and deceives and it almost seems as if he’ll be able to get the pirates off the ship with a $30,000 bribe (most pirates get millions of dollars for ransom), but they take him hostage for five days.  I read this book in two days, my stomach churning with nerves the whole time.  I highly recommend this novel.

the conscious kitchen

Right now I am working on The Conscious Kitchen by Alexandra Zissu, which covers the basics of eating well for the environment and your health.  I’m skipping through a lot of the book since most of it is review, but there’s one fact that stood out to me.  You may have already heard of the “dirty dozen,” which refers to the twelve most contaminated fruits and veggies.  These include: the peach, apple, bell pepper, celery, nectarine, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes, carrot, and pears.  According to the book, if you only made sure to eat these foods organically, you would reduce your pesticide consumption by 80%.  There’s also the Clean Fifteen, which are the lowest in pesticides.  These include: onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomato, and the sweet potato.

My one big issue with the book is that Zissu admits that being vegan is the single most important thing a person could do for the environment, but then she goes onto say that she isn’t even a vegetarian.  So, to me, it seems a bit hypocritical.   However, I suppose that people choose how to express their environmental eating. Like Barbara Kingsolver says in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, some people eat local, some people go vegetarian or some combination.  It all makes a difference.

I’m finishing up the Art of Racing in the Rain and Rick Steves’ London in preparation for a September trip.

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What’s Cooking This Week

I’m taking a page from Your Vegan Mom who has been posting her weekly menus every Monday to show what a typical vegan family with two little ones really eats.  She’s honest, and some weeks are full of leftovers and takeout.  But she genuinely tries to get it together.

I, on the other hand, do not have two babies, so I should be able to get it together, and I generally do with the exception of a night here and there.

what to eat pad

My Planner

I’m a HUGE believer in meal planning.  It saves money and food like nothing else.  I also don’t like having to visit the store multiple times in a week.  It also commits oneself to trying something different.  Saturday morning I sit down with my cookbooks, weekly planner, and my list.  I put my produce on the right side of the list and other goods on the left, with bulk items marked with a “B.”

I received a lovely gift of another new cookbook last week called “Please Don’t Feed the Bears” by a zine-writing, death metal enthusiast.  Each dish is accompanied by a death metal suggestion.  The book is full of doodles and quirky titles like “Black Death Chili” and “Road Rash Skillet.”

book

Inside of PDFTB

So, I’ll be cooking a few dishes from my new book this week.

book

Cover

Monday: “A Blatant Disregard for Tradition: Vegan Red Beans and Rice”

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Artichoke, olive, and red onion pizza on homemade herbed crust from Vegan Table

Thursday: Hot Damn Tamale Pie

Friday: We usually go out or scrap together the leftovers

This is the plan; however, life stuff is happening this week and I’ll probably be headed out of town, so this list will have to be altered.

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Orcas Island

One of my favorite places on earth is the San Juan Islands in Northwest Washington.  I got to experience them for the first time four years ago when I camped on Orcas… in March.  I’m pretty sure we were the only ones dumb enough to camp in March, but we were poor college students and all that.  We returned to the islands a few times since then and this past weekend we journeyed back to Orcas.  And stayed in a cabin.

Four years ago:

campsite

Chilly Campsite

And a smarter four years later:

Cabin

Chakra Cabin

To get to the islands, drive north on I-5 for about 45 minutes before heading west on Highway 20 to Anacortes.  From Anacortes, catch an hour-long ferry ride to the island of your choosing.  My goal one day is to be able to sail to the islands from here and explore any of the hundreds of islands that don’t have ferry service.

The ferry ride itself is beautiful with views of the islands, water, and mountains.  After docking, we drove 20 miles to Doe Bay resort, where we had stayed previously.  It’s a beautiful spot, with campsites, yurts, cabins, and hostels.  They have a huge garden there where they grow most of their cafe food.  I spent a good half-hour wandering that garden, trying to take notes and feeling proud when my stuff resembled their stuff.  There were deer all over the resort, munching away peacefully.  Izzie thankfully ignored them!  And how did deer get to the island?  They swam.  No joke.  I’ve heard stories of sailors seeing deer in the water, swimming from island to island.  They have a pretty sweet life on these islands.  Sadly, no whale sightings on this trip, but I did see some seals and one porpoise.

The majority of the stuff to do on Orcas is located within Moran State Park, the fourth largest state park in Washington.  It houses Mt. Constitution, which is the tallest peak in the islands at over 2,000 feet.  Andy & I have hiked the mountain in the past, only to find ourselves enveloped in a cloud, freezing, with no view.  There’s an option to drive up to the top, and we’ve done that too.  When clear, it’s an amazing view of the islands, peninsula, Victoria, and a straight shot to Bellingham.

Here’s the view from Doe Bay:

orcas island

Sunset View

Beautiful weekend.

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Filed under Beyond Seattle, Island Times

Where the Heck I’ve Been

Okay, okay, so admittedly, I’m having a tough time being a consistent blogger, but I’m vowing to be better!

I was recently given Vegan Brunch, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest.  So we’ve been having lots of Brinner nights.  I’m sure you know them well: breakfast for dinner!  This book makes it pretty easy to have a well-rounded meal that’s more than pancakes.  So far I’ve tried the omelets, which consist of blending tofu and spices in a food processor, then cooking them as you would an omelet.  I was a little skeptical, but it was quite good.  I’ve also been experimenting with different hashes and scrambles made up of tofu or tempeh, potatoes, and onions.  Alongside these meals, I’ve served variations of these biscuits, which are waaaay too easy to make and waaaay too addicting.  I am now forbidding myself to make these for only Andy and I because I end up eating my weight in biscuits.  I made the cheezy (with follow-your-heart mozz)  version the other night with garlic and oh my…  they were amazing.

biscuits

My Achilles Heel

Speaking of potatoes and garlic, my garden seems to be choosing to live!  It was a little touch and go for a while, but I figured out that slugs are trouble and I should probably fertilize my garden.  So I walked up the hill to the garden store and the clerks helped me find some vegan fertilizer, since most conventional fertilizer is made up of really disgusting things like bone meal and ground up ‘extras.’  I also picked up some copper tape, which supposedly gives slugs a “mild, but unpleasant experience” that makes them turn around and chew on something else.  I will be trying various things with these guys.

Potatoes and Garlic

Potatoes and Garlic

While I was at the hardware store, I also picked up a biobag container, which I love.  Let me back up.  Seattle, like some cities, has a compost/yard waste bin provided by the city.  This is the largest bin, followed by a large recycling bin, and then finally a trash can.  If used properly, one should really only have one bag of trash per week, if that.  Since our compost bin is in the alley, it’s been hard making it a habit to add our food scraps to the alley.  It sounds lazy, but we just haven’t figured out how to make it a regular thing that doesn’t smell up our house.

So I bought this:

compost bin

Ta-Daa!

For $5 I have a little bin that aerates itself and doesn’t smell (I swear)!  It comes with 3 gallon corn-husk bags, which are also compostable.  So, this sits in a corner on the counter and while I cook I throw in peels and scraps as well as paper towels and coffee grounds.  Depending on the food prepared, we fill this up every couple of days.  Our trash now gets taken out every 10 days instead of every few because food isn’t stinking up and filling up the can.  I’d like to start my own compost pile someday, but for now, I’m happy to be reducing my waste.

Lastly, a little picture of the calla lilies growing in our backyard.  Note the one on the right.  Yes, Izzie has decided that she likes to chomp on these.

lilies

Take a bite out of... lilies

I’ve been doing a ton of reading this month, so next post I’ll review the books I’ve been reading!

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Filed under Brunch and Brinner, Dinner, Entrees, Gardening Woes