Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tengo 27.

Obligatory birthday post! I had tons of things keeping me busy this month, including having my brother and some of his friends visit, shows to go to, CMJ, my sister-to-be come and stay for a few days, and birthday festivities! First things's first: Champs. We go to champs at least once a week. We make a point to take everyone who visits us to Champs at least once while they visit. We are pretty much obsessed. They've always offered specials, but they now make these printed cards that they put inside the menu with three specials offerings, because it's often easy to miss them when you stumble in. This is the sweet potato hash, and it has kale, mushrooms, onion, sweet potato, guac, sliced jalapeños and their chipotle dressing, which I am in love with. This dish was created specifically for me and my taste buds. No just kidding, it was on the specials list. They'll make it specially for you too.

It's a tradition we have in our little two-person family that we celebrate all special occasions, including but most importantly birthdays, with Ethiopian food. Our favorite restaurant is in New Jersey where we used to live, so we make the trek out there every once in a while. Now, to go over two tolled NY State bridges, through the Garden State Parkway, and whatever godforsaken traffic said obstacles may be withholding, that's got to be some damn good food. Believe me -- it is that good. We make a thing of it and get appetizers, eat every last bite on the platter, get Ethiopian coffee, and vegan chocolates. They are also BYOB, so we bring a couple bottles of red wine and yeah, like I said, make a thing of it. 

Now, while photographs of Ethiopian food may not be magazine-cover status, the taste of it is way better than anything that has every graced the cover of Bon Appetit. This is especially true at Mesob Restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey. I have eaten at dozens of Ethiopian restaurants in several different states including legendary DC and PA. Mesob still wins. This is the best food. Ever.

We went to Mesob on the weekend before my birthday, which fell on a Tuesday, and the hassle of getting to and from Mesob on a weeknight is pretty impossible. So on my actual birthday, Alex cooked! It's really cute to see this super learned almost doctor get so flustered and confused by tasks that I complete on the reg. It makes me feel powerful. Anyway, he did a great job. He followed the recipe for New England Glam Chowder from Isa Does It, and lucky for him I always make notes in the margins of anything confusing or what I thought worked or suggestions for next time, such as "salt!" or "put nori in the blender," because I could see him literally losing his mind trying to crumble nori by hand. It came out great and we adorned it with handfuls of oyster crackers.

Surprise! He made me cupcakes! Baby's first cupcake! Also the first cupcake I ate that I didn't make or buy! They were perfect. The best birthday cupcakes I could ask for.

We put the cupcakes on the table in lieu of bread or whatever you dip in your glam chowder. Just kidding, we didn't dip our cupcakes in it. That would be gross.

The following weekend I made a meal that we lovingly refer to as "Italian Dinner." The plate is divided into quadrants. It always has meetballs, pasta, greens with beans, and caesar salad. It comes with breadsticks and red wine. As uncustomizable as I have just made it sound, I changed it ever-so-slightly this time, by making the tempeh meetballs from Isa Does It, instead of my usual recipe. I also made the beans with a ton of arugula my Italian customer gave me from his garden. This time I made the sauce how his father makes it. It was on point. I was inducted into this family when I was taught the secret to his success this summer. My Italian food game is at an all-time high.

We've talked about the breadstick phenomenon, haven't we? It's like when you bake someone some bread, they are like, "Oh cool. Bread." But when you bake them breadsticks they are like, "OMG I LOVE BREADSTICKS," you know? They are only like 20 minutes more difficult and warrant a 100% better and more worthy response. Plus they are better for dipping into your special sauce.

The day after I made this dinner I got really sick, and decided I am going raw. I always say I'm going raw forever after I get sick. Rt4? Compromise? Who's to say... Oh look! Almond Butter!

KZ Passing out now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Picking Apples, Eating From Bowls..

The fall is here! It's undeniable. We have perfect weather, nice breezes and an abundance of apples! I'm running around town in my jean jacket and faux moccasins loving the weather. Although I wish I were in NYC for more of it, I had the chance to visit my hometown in New England a few times, and damn, does New England do fall right. I went apple picking with my friend Jess and my mom, and got this huge bag full to take home with me. It was twenty-five bucks, but you can't really beat a bunch of apples that you picked yourself. Macintosh are my favorite apples, but the farm I went to had Empires, Cortlands, Yellow and Red Delicious. They've been kind to me.

When you go apple-picking, bring someone tall so they can get at all the good apples that everyone else couldn't reach.

It was the prefect day. Chilly in the shade, but perfect in the sun. Pretty too.


We had a family dinner in Northampton that night, at this place Hinge, which I never had heard of or been to. They had a vegan dish, so it was totally fine by me. I got this:

It's an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, butternut squash cubes, spinach, and red peppers with walnuts. It was really good and I ate all of it. I never knew you could eat the skin of the acorn squash. I have been peeling it for years! Well, at least I think you can eat it... I ate it... 

It kind of seems like the rest of the world is catching on to what vegans are doing. I mean, I got almond milk at dunkin donuts in my hometown! Am I dead?

Also, a bagel shop opened a few blocks from my apartment with Vegan Cream Cheese! The vegans are taking over. 
My adorable fiancé cooked dinner for me this week! Sometimes it's hard to cook when I work until 7. I have to walk home, go shopping, clean the mess that's in the kitchen, start cooking, eat, then clean up... It's just too much some nights. Most nights, I'm like, Lemme at it! But some nights I wish I could just walk in to a home with the smell of dinner on the stove. And so I did on Tuesday! It was the Potato Leek Soup from Isa Does It, his favorite recipe from the book. It's super easy, too. We make it all the time. I like to use slices of crusty bread as my utensil. Is that bad?

 I've pretty much thrown my all my plates in storage. We use these big pasta bowls almost exclusively. You can really pile the food in these. It's perfect for when you are so hungry you turn as green as the hulk and swear you are going to eat this pound of pasta by yourself. It's whole wheat so it's fine.

 Also, breaded tofu is my life now. When I don't know what to make, I just saunter into the kitchen and realize I'm dredging tofu cubes in soy sauce already. I wake up and think about this tofu. Just look at it.

 Now that's the perfect bite

I had another crazy put-every-veggie-in-one-bowl moment and made this root veggie bowl with onion gravy. I put some cranberry sauce on the side for some thanksgiving nice. More applestuff to follow!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vegans Make The World Go Round

Vegan Month Of Food is winding down! It's sad to see it go. This is my third year participating and I'm so happy to be a part of it. I am so inspired by you all! That's the purpose, isn't it? To inspire the vegan community and share things together?

Mac n Dogs bowl from the greatest hits collection

Vegan MoFo is a fantastic way to connect with the rest of the vegan world, whether they are living across the planet or down the block. It's really easy sometimes to feel shut out from the world, like nobody understands veganism and its importance but you, and it's easy to get so frustrated that you want to throw your hands up and wonder what difference you're making in this stubborn world.

An Italian dinner I shared with Alex and our good friend Patrick

Vegan MoFo is a fantastic reminder that you aren't alone, and that you do make a difference -- a big difference! You are valued by all of us vegans around the world. It is easier to do this together than to do it alone! So I'll take this moment to thank each vegan out there, especially those who are participating in this great tradition this month, for being you. I'm so happy that you all exist.

One of many beet burgers that have helped to complete my life

I was recently tagged to participate in the Liebster Award by Morsels & Moonshine, which means she selected my blog as one of her eight favorite blogs to re-tag. She was asked a series of questions about herself, mostly related to veganism, and came up with some new questions to ask her tag-ees. I don't think I'm going to re-tag anybody, but I will definitely share eight of my favorite blogs from Vegan MoFo this year!

1. Connoisseurus Veg is a blog that I just found during this year's MoFo. I love her pictures and blog layout! There's something comforting about a nicely layed-out site.  I meant to do mine over before MoFo, but my computer and web design skills seriously lack. Someday.

2. Little Vegan Bear is another new-to-me blog that I found this month! What I love most about the blog is her theme. She is making a recipe a day related to a band! I have been checking it daily to see what new band she made her recipe from for the day. Such a great idea for a theme!

3. Killer Bunnies Inc is another new blog I discovered this MoFo. It's all about cookies! There's something great about clicking through pictures of vegan cookies.

4. Lazy Smurf is not a new blog for me. In fact, I've been following her for a few years now. It's mostly a vegan guide to Austin, TX. I've wanted to visit Austin ever since I started reading her blog! So far, it looks like before I go I must: fast for a month, be able to afford plane tickets, hotel rooms, rent a car and spend crazy cash on lots of delicious vegan food. I'm working on it. I will get there before the world explodes.

5. Vegan In Brighton is a super popular blog that I am sure you have all checked out by now! JoJo from Brighton shares her vegan experiences in the UK, and also her travel experiences from around the world. It's super fun to read, and see all the things vegans have around the world. I did a semester in London, but there certainly seems to be a lot more vegan options there now than there were when I was over there!

6. Vegan Eats And Treats is a blog I've been following for a year or two now, which is such a nice read! Amey puts a tremendous amount of effort into the blog and shares her life with us! I feel like I know all her cats and dogs by name, and which cats don't like each other and which dog is timid and which is  most animated! She makes adorable doodles to compliment each of her posts that are fantastic and she takes great photos of her food too. If you haven't checked her blog out, you will love reading it, and she is a pretty prolific blogger, too!

7. A (Soy) Bean is a blog by Abby, a fellow Jerseyperson who I had the pleasure of meeting this year at the shop-ups in Brooklyn. Her blog is great, has tons of reviews of restaurants, tons of pictures of her adorable dog, and overall very informative. I like it mainly because she's real. I feel like people don't get real with each other enough. Abby? She's real. You'll like her.

8. Come Scone With Me is one of the first blogs I began following as a vegan! She was at her "get sconed" address back then, and she has been super inspiring for me. She also has done a beautiful job opening up and letting us all into her life. She's a fantastic writer and I love reading her posts thoroughly. I met her for a quick second at the shop-up and was actually kind of shy, and like "hi.. I'm a big fan.. " I definitely recommend her blog to all, as it was wonderfully inspiring to me over the past few years.

Doughnuts from Dunwell

Morsels & Moonshine asked me to answer a few questions about myself, but since I don't have pets, a good reason for starting this blog, any favorite beauty items, and can't choose between cooking and baking, I feel like my answers might read like a middle-school chain letter. All I hope, is that I was able to give to any of you what these blogs have been able to give to me -- inspiration. We all lack inspiration sometimes, whether it be what to cook for dinner tonight, or whether we ought to continue our vegan journeys. We all feel the need to reaffirm our choices from time to time and weigh their values. I think without these blogs, the internet full of sets of open arms, vegan recipes, travel guides, and people's simple stories of themselves, I'd have fallen off the wagon a long time ago. The internet was a greatest place to turn upon my going vegan. Everyone was like, "You're vegan? Great. We're here to help." Vegans are pretty remarkable people, and I am honored to be a part of such an amazing community full of truly inspiring souls.
You are all loved dearly by KZ.

Chia Doughnuts

I bought The Oh She Glows cookbook finally, after many months of holding out and watching everyone else's pics pop up on instagram of all the recipes in the book. I have enough cookbooks that I don't ever open and I don't need another one. I was perusing the cookbook section of a little bookstore in a small town in the middle of New Hampshire this summer and picked this up. It was such a beautiful book, and the recipes all looked really great. I just couldn't resist. 

I didn't make anything from it for so long! A lot of the recipes called for things I didn't have, and I didn't want to go out and stock up. But I had my eye on these chia doughnuts, and decided to make them. Upon reading the recipe, I noticed that there is like, nothing in there. I guess the maple syrup doubles as a sweetener and oil. 

I have a mini muffin pan, so I used it instead of a regulation size muffins pan... and forgot to cut down the baking time. So my muffins were pretty dense. I'm dumb.

I didn't have any chilled coconut milk to make the icing out of so I just made regular, standard, cinnamon roll icing. started off by doing a drizzle. Then I got real with myself and just dunked the doughnut in the icing like a normal person.

Overall, a decent breakfast doughnut. It's not like I'd swear off Dunwell or anything. I mean, these doughnuts will help you out when in morning doughnut need. Basically what I'm saying, is they're okay. A tough sell to someone who is a yeasted, fried, sugary doughnut fan. Alex wouldn't touch them. But they're small, so I ate two. The end.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Has Fallen

Today was a cold, rainy day in NYC. Not too cold, just seasonably cold. I dug it, but I would have dug it more if I could have stayed home and watched movies and drank hot cocoa or something. It's almost like I wish it would rain on the weekend so that I could do just that. Welp, I broke my pasta fast, lasting from Saturday night until Wednesday night. Baby steps. It was all Alex's fault. I told him to bring home whole wheat and he didn't. 

Working with angel hair pasta is kind of tough! I feel like there's just too much of it, and it's hard to toss it appropriately to incorporate all the goods into your pasta. Maybe it's best for a dish that has lots of extra sauce. This dish is from Isa Does It, with a substitution or two. It's red onions, seared brussels sprouts, a bunch of garlic, and instead of walnuts I sprinkled a little breadcrumb mix over the top. I also tossed a bunch of my almond parmesan which I made in my vitamix using almonds, lemon zest and nooch. I put it on everything. I threw a handful of olives in mine and left them off the BF's, as he is an olive hater. What gives?

I like that this was a two-pot operation. Lately I have been dealing with a pile-up of dishes. Wash, dry, put away, wash, dry, put away, washdryputaway... I can only work with so many dishes at once in my shoebox kitchen. No really, do you remember what my kitchen looks like?? Yes, the toaster oven dangles off the top of my pantry. I can deal with what I have, but just not every day of the week. Two pots good, Four pots bad.

Your basic sea of onions and veggies accompanied by several cloves of chopped garlic..

Tadaa! This is how dinner looks. This was yesterday so now I'm hungry and have to decide to be strong and do yoga and eat the beast of leftovers in my fridge, or to be weak and eat Earth Balance mac and cheese and watch a Wes Anderson movie.. We are all weak, aren't we?

Apple Pie Oats!

Making overnight oats is easy. The hard part is remember to. I started by making basic oats the same way every time, now I'm getting fancy adding apple pie spices and apple sauce. 

I still require one thing no matter what kind of oats I made-- nut butter, usually almond.

I love fresh berries in my oats, but these days they are like $8 for half a pint, and berries are always a gamble. You spend all this time picking out the best pint in the store and then you get them home, leave them on the counter while you put away your groceries, and mold has grown in the five minutes it took you to purchase them, and take them to your place.

So that's why I've been all apples all day lately. September apples are no joke. I once went a whole winter and ate nothing but apples, oatmeal and coffee. I miss college.

I finally found the right size jar for my oats! I laugh when I think back to using an old spaghetti sauce jar for them, trying to jam the spoon all the way in there to get at the oats at the bottom. This jar is just right! I think I bought these in Princeton when I was living in Jersey. Princeton in good for three and only three things: Health food groceries, independent movies, and vegan sorbet. The rest is just parking.

In summary, oats in a jar in the fridge are way cool. Also, apples.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gone Bowling

You know when you think of what you want for dinner, and then you go the store and look for what you need, then you think, "Ooo squash!" and then you see the mushrooms and it's final, you're cooking mushrooms too, and all of a sudden you have pesto sauce and there goes your night. 

 My original thought was to cook chickpeas, collard greens, brown rice and use the leftover cashew lemon dressing I made last night. Like, I literally went to the store to buy collard greens and only that. And since BF was not in town, I know he hates squash, and I love squash, then all of a sudden I have squash. I really heard a voice whispering, "Marsala mushrooms," softly into my ear and so I took said ghost's advice and made them. I guess I thought pesto would maybe make Alex eat this. That's all I can remember about the pesto decision.

Everything was great, although I do wish I had left the tofu out. It wasn't necessary, and it drank up the wine and just stayed blah and suffered from lack of wow. Being too technical, sorry. There is actually brown rice under all of this, and toasted butternut squash seeds. I'm outta control...