Saturday, November 21, 2015

Look at my Food & Beauty Box

We are getting serious about cooking lately! I've cooked so much from my cookbooks in the last few weeks that I feel like I might actually run out of recipes to make! Just kidding, that could never happen... But I've made a ton of stuff from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, like this pasta titled, "You-Won't-Be-Single-For-Long Pasta Carbonara with Shiitake Bacon." I don't know why it's so fun for me to say the name of it. I just like saying it. It's something I might normally balk at. But for some reason I like it, which seems strangely out of character. 

Anyway, this was delicious and the sauce was tofu-based rather than cashew based for a change, so I'm into that too. The shiitake bacon was a nice crunch, but really it just tasted burned to me. I still loved this, and it took 2 seconds to make. Plus look how pretty it looks :)

My fried Amey, from Vegan Eats and Treats, has blogged a few times about how much she loves this dish from Appetite For Reduction which is the Chipotle Chili with Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato. It sounds like an odd combo for chili, but it was so totally great and I'd definitely make it again. I had to make cornbread because, like how can you eat chili without it???

One night I made the Pomegranate BBQ Tofu from Vegan with a Vengeance 10th Anniversary and it was so great! I even poured some of the sauce over the baked potato I made. This tofu is baked first, then smothered in the sauce. I really love baked tofu. It sort of changes everything about tofu and makes it really succulent (?) and amazing. I feel like succulent is just a plant... Am I wrong about that?

This dish was the biggest winner for me. The Pesto Mac and Cheese from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen is just so great. The mac on it's own is a little bland, but when mixed with the pesto, it's like the most perfect combo you ever tasted. Also, I've learned that it's worth lugging out the food processor to make pesto instead of just using your vitamix which is already out on the counter. The food processor gets it the right texture and consistency. The vitamix just pulverizes it and makes like a pesto sauce, as smooth as your smoothie. But I love a good textured pesto with little bits of garlic and walnut in it. It's definitely worth the clean up, and trust me, I hate cleaning the food processor.

We went back to our hometown for a day to see David Bazan play a "living room show", something we've always wanted to see. This host had his own freestanding library/recording studio next to his house, so David just played there. Alex and I were trying to count the times we have seen him play, and it's probably something like 10 times. It was amazing and I'm so happy we got to see him in our hometown.

After the show we went out to dinner with my parents. Alex and I got the veggie burger, which has been good in the past, but really not so great anymore. It's dry and pretty flavorless, and I took a picture so you guys can see how to properly handle a sub-par veggie burger:

 Settle for no less than half an avocado, and go absolutely nuts with the mustard, be it dijon or yellow.

The next day we got back to New York and went immediately to Champs, as one does, and got the Soltero Bowl with guac and chipotle sauce. I can never decide if I want something really healthy or something really unhealthy when I go there. I usually land somewhere between this and the awesome bowl. I have phases. I've been a breakfast burrito person, a breakfast enchilada person, even during my salad days I was a buenos días salad person for a time. Who's to say what phase will follow?

 That night we didn't feel like cooking, but we didn't feel like getting takeout, and we had some pesto on hand and some pasta to put it on. So yeah, we can't always be extravagant. Don't even pretend like you don't do this sometimes.

After a pasta-heavy week I decided to make some salads for the few days ahead. I made the Pomegranate Holiday Tabouli from Salad Samurai and the Brussels Sprout Salad with Grilled Miso Apples, also from Salad Samurai. The brussels sprouts salad was great, I never thought to use sprouts as a salad green, but they were great! The apples give it enough attitude to be a salad I'd make again. The pomegranate tabouli was just eh. It had lentils, and not enough dressing. I think it would benefit from avocado or baked tofu, and maybe then it could stand alone. If I'd only made the tabouli, I'd have been hangry by the time I finished.

Both salads had toasted walnuts in it, which definitely improved each salad. Toasted walnuts are special. They are softer, nuttier, toastier... Just better. Just nod so that I know you know.

I haven't made chana masala since probably 2011, when this dish debuted on Isa's blog. Lucky for everyone, it was published in Isa Does It, and now we can make it on the reg. The house smelled so spicy and nice for days after I made this. There's nothing like a spicy curry on a cold and rainy day.

Now, the main event, I decided to finally get a Vegan Cuts Beauty Box subscription! Two factors led to the inevitable decision to sign up for this box, besides me just wanting one: I started having problems with my skin, and I started realizing most of my bath/body/skin care products aren't even vegan. It's really shitty of me to have been vegan so long without paying attention to the products I buy for body/skin/beauty care, and I don't see (now) how it's any different from products I'd buy to eat. I'd hear about some product being vegan and just look for that kind but I always struggled to figure out on my own whether a product either has ingredients in it derived from animals, or has been tested on animals. I also have struggled to find vegan products that work (I'm talking to you, Tom's of Maine deodorant). Luckily, for me, I'm vegan in 2015 and the nice people of the vegan community and interwebs have already done the legwork of compiling a list of vegan companies who make and sell vegan beauty products. I am trying to replace all of my skin/beauty/body care items with vegan ones, but as you know, vegan products can be expensive. I found some affordable brands, and some not so affordable, but at least I know where to find them. The beauty box is great because it includes trial sizes of these products from companies you probably have never even heard of. This way you get to try out a product before committing to spending the $54 on it, or not. I am super psyched to try all these products and support vegan businesses trying to make a living the ethical way.

Each box contains between 4 and 7 items to sample and a handy card to tell what's what.

 My first item was this Indian Hemp & Haitian Vetiver Body Lotion by Nubian Heritage. It smells so good! I am always in need of lotion, so I am glad to find a good-smelling vegan one.

This is a calming botanical facial steam pack by Bohemian Beauty Co, which you pour into a bowl that you then cover with boiling water, and inhale the steam that comes off from the bowl, inhaling the scents and relaxing. It has a lot of common "zen flowers" in the packet, like chamomile and lavender. I'd never thought of using a product like this, but I will definitely give it a try.

Next is Moisturizing Hair Milk with Shea Butter by Shea Radiance. From reading the description of it, it seems to function like a detangler. No woman with long hair could say that they'd not benefit from some detangling spray, though I don't like to generalize. I'll just say that I will totally use up this product and put it to the test with my tangles. Especially in scarf season.

I never really thought of nail polish as being vegan or not. Well, it turns out I have about 25 bottles of non-vegan nail polish and if you want to take some of it off my hands I have the colors of the rainbow and beyond. I have one vegan color now! This is "Galaxy" by Mineral Fusion. It's hard to tell from this picture I guess, but it's a sparkly dark blue. I will put it on my toes in the near future.

Last but not least is Black Tea Liquid Eyeliner from 100% Pure. This is a full-sized product that would otherwise be very expensive to just "test out" seeing that it costs more than the entirety of this month's box. I tried to use it this morning, but realized that liquid eyeliner requires a steady hand, and it got kind of all over my lashes and so I just used my trusty crayon liner because I know how to do that. I will practice and learn the art of the liquid-liner. Swear.
Today my parents and in-laws came for the day and came to the shop-up with us and it was great! My parents especially liked Monks Meats sliders, the winner of the spread we put before them. I ate about 5 macarons so far, and I accidentally ended up with 12 more, so yeah. Not a bad Saturday.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Weekend Withdrawls

During the week, it's easy to feel unproductive. My mornings are dedicated to workouts and smoothies, and my evenings consist of cleaning, food shopping, cooking an passing out on the couch. There isn't a whole lot of time for anything else! But when the weekend rolls around, it's important to me to go out and enjoy the city I pay too much to live in. If I don't, well, then what's the point?
I have a lot of favorites when it comes to places to get vegan food in NYC, and it's usually easy to separate them into categories based on how we want our day to go. Is it in Brooklyn, Manhattan or Queens, are we driving there or taking the subway, eat in or take out, wifi or no wifi, and is it pay day or off-week? Unfortunately it's pretty rare to score cheap vegan food in NYC, but I like to think about what I'd be eating if I moved back to my hometown, and the food tastes better while I forget the cost. One spot we've been to only once before, but I loved the first time, is the Little Choc Apothecary on Havemeyer Street in Brooklyn. It's really close, easy to park, and you can just stay there and read or work. Plus I really like their food...

I had a hard time making up my mind, but I'm sure any crepe you order would be good. Last time I got the pizza crepe, which was crazy good, this time I got the burrito crepe, which was good but too crispy to cut and eat with ease. Also I kept seeing other pictures of it on Instagram, and they have virtually no consistency with how they serve their crepes. I got a little drizzle of sauce, others got a beautifully fanned avocado and a dusting of chile powder. WTF where is my dusting?? Overall the crepes tasted great no matter what kind of presentation effort was put in.  

I like to order their juices because, well I guess I just like the glass and the idea. Alex gets a coffee like a normal person. Unfortunately both times we visited, the person taking our order was very unfriendly, and the service was extremely slow. It's too bad! The food and decor are the opposite -- welcoming and adorable. I will probably still go back, but only because the food is so good.

We have been cooking from our cookbook rotation program! By we, I mean I, and it's been pretty heavy-handed on the Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen. This is Tomato Bread Soup! It's pretty great. And easy! Speaking of Chloe, we have gone to her restaurant about 6 times already since it opened this summer and it is so amazingly delicious. I haven't taken a picture of my food from her restaurant probably because it's a complete madhouse in there and you basically have to pounce on a seat the second someone even motions to get up. Like, put your butt in the chair maybe even before the person has vacated the chair. It's that serious. I've yet to see it not busy, which I assume happens never. Again, another reason to skip it -- but I can't. The food is too good.

We went to see Titus Andronicus at Warsaw in Brooklyn a couple weekends ago, which was so fun and great. My friend Julian is hiding in this picture, but he is playing bass. Swear. 

I had a major craving for this Tofu Mushroom Stroganoff at some point last week. I know I'm suppose to be making new recipes from cookbooks I never use, but the craving was too strong! I also had a bunch of extra mushrooms.

Alex loves making popcorn. I'm not amazing at it and usually burn some, so we used the recipe from Thug Kitchen and had pretty much universal success! He wanted to make the popcorn-trio à la Costco and their ubiquitous large holiday tins. We made the recipe for Herbed Popcorn from the book, and then he put chocolate syrup and salt on some, and nooch and chili oil on some more. I think I just like mine straight up with olive oil and nooch. Sometimes it might be nice to get movie-style vegan popcorn just for the thrill. Just to know that we can! 

We've been to Blossom on Carmine a couple times this fall, both wonderful successes. I finally tried the Salmon Tofu that they are so famous for. It was amazing and maybe a little salmon-like, but mostly tofu-like. That's okay. I'm vegan, so... I wish they would take it easy on the horseradish creme with dill they put on the top. You can just see a tiny sliver of pink underneath it! Overall it tasted great and I would order it again! It's also all about the gnocchi for appetizers!!

We saw Jim Shaw's Entertaining Doubts show at Mass MoCA last month, and knew we wanted to see his show in NYC, The End Is Here, at the New Museum. We went on the weekend of my birthday to check it out! I really like the show in Mass better. The NYC show was more... well, trippy shit. I think his other show certainly had elements of that too, but the overall quality of the work at Mass MoCA was just a lot more appealing. The show at the New Museum has mostly a large collection of his early comics, drawing, and collections of objects or found works. There was at least one room that had 4 or 5 large paintings that were really great, exhibiting his skill while still supporting his satirical style. The rest, well, I wouldn't go back twice.

On the top floor of the New Museum, theres a sky-lounge where you can step out and see the view of the city. It was a little cloudy, but still very impressive! On my actual birthday we went to Paulie Gee's for vegan pizza in Greenpoint, which was delicious, but it's far too dark in there to take any pictures! I noticed a lot of people using the light of their phones to read the menu. However- they make a great effort to include vegans, and not a shabby effort either! They are constantly adding new vegan pizzas to their menu, and their vegan pizza is not just your average daiya cheese. They make their own vegan sausage, vegan cashew ricotta, season with nooch(!) and cary vegan ice cream for dessert. It's pretty expensive for a personal-sized pizza, (18$!!) but honestly, I really appreciate the effort to have such proper vegan options at a pizza place, when they could easily just say, "the tomato pie is vegan" and call it a day. I'm looking at you, Roberta's.

 My husband looking super cute as he always does, at the top of the New Museum in the LES.

While we were food shopping at one point last week, Alex picked up a prickly pear and asked me what it was. I identified it, mostly because I'm a Chopped ninja, but also because ever since my parents visited Texas they have been huge fans of the prickly pear, mostly in margarita form. We bought three and took them home to make a smoothie with them. The seeds dont really grind up well, even after several minutes on high in a Vitamix. If you have a juicer, I think juicing them is the way to go. Otherwise, next time I will think about trying to remove the seeds before blending. They are okay to just drink, but don't try to chew them... They are harder than raspberry seeds. The juice provides this gorgeous hot pink color maybe not otherwise found in nature, and a very delicious sweet taste!

I made my second pizza from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, the White Wild Mushroom Pizza. This is definitely my spirit pizza. I've discussed at length over many blog posts before, that as a child, I loved mushrooms so much that when my family ordered a party-sized combination pizza I would take all the mushrooms off and put them on my piece. Alex, once a mushroom-hater, really enjoyed this pizza! I was definitely impressed by that, though he said it could be improved by red sauce, to which I disagreed. The Mozzarella Sauce is for real tho.

Much to my surprise I found a recipe from Isa Does It that I hadn't made! This is the Cast-Iron Stir-Fry and it has tofu, broccoli, onions, peppers, and avocado in a hoisin-soy sauce. There's chopped peanuts too. It was so easy to make and reminded me of when all I ever knew how to make was stir-fries. In a good way.

Alex has been asking me to make gnocchi for him nonstop since we ate gnocchi at Blossom, so I made the Garlic Herb Gnocchi from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen with a vegetable and white bean mix on the side. I say "on the side" because it takes up the whole other side of the plate besides the gnocchi. The gnocchi tasted great, but I think they needed a sauce. I doubled the recipe since she only called for one potato (?).
More weekend adventures and vegan cookbook reviews are to follow!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cookbook Collection Full Of Broken Dreams

Alex and I came up with a new idea to make sure we don't fall into ruts with making the same thing over and over again because we are too tired to explore new options. What we did was go through all of the cookbooks I have that I want to cook more out of, and jot down all of the recipes I want to make from each book, with the name of the book and the page number. We ended up with a giant document full of recipes to make, so I organized them by category, and now we just surf the list to see what looks good, buy groceries for 2 of the meals at a time, and we always have a new food idea in rotation! So far it's going great and I've already made a bunch of stuff that's new to me and that I loved!
This is the Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup from Appetite For Reduction which I think I made once years ago and remember loving it. I think I gave my mom the recipe and now she makes it all the time. It's basically a glorified tomato soup, but it's got roasted red peppers blended into it with chickpeas. I loved it and it was pretty easy, especially if you buy the roasted red peppers in the jar. I roasted my own, just 'cause I like peeling the skin off :).

The shop-up was Saturday, and we made a plan to day drink. I got a Barrier Kapow and a Singlecut Full-Stack. I certainly didn't need more than that ;).

I mostly just spent the time sitting at the bar gabbing with Abby Bean and eating these broccoli cheese empanadas from Freakin' Vegans. It was great! A Yeah Dawg made an apperance as well as several macarons from Sweet Maresa (who else??) and a mini pecan pie square from Gone Pie. It was a seriously decent Saturday.

Here's me and Abby's dog 89 not looking at the camera. I always like the idea of spending some time at the bar with some good food and good people, watching whatever throwback 80s move is playing at Pine Box, and if I can pet a cute doggy too, the day is all the better for it.

We went grocery shopping after a long beer nap following the shop-up. Alex was amused by the small size and description of these apples. They were labeled "Lady Apples", you know, because ladies are small and tiny like this apple. WHATEVER KEY FOODS.

This is Tempeh Piccata which came from no recipe, but rather from my brain. I think I've watched Giada de Laurentiis make Chicken Piccata enough times in my life to know how to make Piccata anytime I want. I chose tempeh, which I browned before removing from the pan. Then I made a sauce with onion, garlic, lemon, capers and white wine, and cooked some broccoli florets in that broth while it simmered. I also roasted some cauliflower florets, because I just wanted to. We served it over angel hair, and that's it.

We couldn't decide where to go for lunch on Sunday, so we went to Smorgasburg in the new Prospect Park spot. The vegan options looked slightly slimmer than Smorgasburgs past, so I grabbed this BBQ Jackfruit sandwich with cole slaw from Chickpea & Olive. After I got it, I noticed a few more tents with vegan options, Monks Meats was there, and The Regal Vegan was making sandwiches too. They always have the Alchemy Creamery selling vegan Ice cream pops and stuff at the Smorgasburgs but I didn't grab one that day.

Alex got his beloved Calexico Beet Burger from Chickpea & Olive. They make a good burger. Beets, that is. I am a beet burger fan. Chickpea & Olive have some good bread. It's a very important part of the burger experience. If you get a so-so bun, you'll probably have a so-so burger experience.

We landed on pizza for dinner. We decided we love Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen and wanted to make something from it. We went with the Crumbled Sausage & Mozzarella Pizza. The sausage is made of pureed mushrooms and walnuts, that you just cook in a sauté pan until it gets dried out enough to make crumbles out of. It was a very strange method but the end result was super tasty.
The Mozzerella was a garlic cashew cream sauce that you just pour over your pizza after it's baked, and bake it some more for about 5 minutes.

I loved this pizza! I want to make more pizzas from the book for sure.

It looks even better on Instagram <3

The next thing on our list from project cookbook was the Homestyle Pot Pie from The Great Vegan Protein Cookbook. I really love pot pie, and this recipe was calling out to me. The picture in the book was just so pretty, so I knew I needed to make it soon. Maybe I'll start reviewing these cookbooks on here once I've made a lot more stuff from them. Would that be interesting?

I am normally a fan of crust on the bottom (as well as on the top) and most of the recipes for pot pie forego the bottom crust. This recipe gives you the option to do either one, but since I was making a bunch of stuff already and this was a weeknight, I thought maybe I'd just buy a pie crust and spread the cut-outs on top of the pie. Wrong! No vegan pie crusts were available at the store. There were some piecrusts that were already pressed into pans, but I didn't want that, and I didn't even check if they were vegan. I did see some gluten-free pie crusts too, but of course, they weren't vegan. No respect. I ended up making my own crust when I got home, which actually was pretty easy. I chilled it while I made a dessert, and chopped the vegetables and made the stew-part of the pie, then just rolled it out and cut-out shaped to lay on top. I think my crust wasn't big enough, since there were some gaps in between my shapes. It was tasty nonetheless.

More from our cookbook project soon :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fall Fondness

I'm into the fall. You all know this. It's an amazing shift in weather patterns, and calls for a number of wonderful behaviors. One of them? Making soup. 
Here's a soup I made a few weeks ago, from The Great Vegan Protein Book. It's the Mean Bean Minestrone recipe, but I added pearled barley instead of farro. Cook the farro or barley or whatever you use first, it will never cook in time inside the soup. Your stomach will thank you. I haven't made anything else from this book yet, and I'm not totally sure why I bought it, since I'm not a meat-head-protein-freak and have never been concerned with getting enough protein. I guess I was wooed by the pictures. Anyways, please leave your faves from the book in the comments!!

I totally tricked my husband by calling this soup "Broccoli Carrot Soup" instead of it's actual name, "Cheddary Broccoli Soup" from Isa Does It. If you never ate broccoli cheddar soup out of a bread bowl from Panera, then you may not understand the thrill, but for the rest of the human population, I give you a version that is MUCH BETTER than any soup Panera has ever managed to scoop into a bowl, made of bread or otherwise. It is super cheesy, hearty and amazing. I served it in an actual bowl, but I used bread slices as my utensil. The spoon is only a prop for the picture.

During Vegan Mofo, I mostly just posted on Instagram for whichever prompts I could manage. Here is the one from the prompt to veganize an old family recipe. Maybe the only food I missed when I went vegan was scallops. My mom used to make this baked scallop casserole that I loved, and so I figure why not try to veganize that? I'd seen some impressive vegan scallops on Olives For Dinner's blog from mofos past so I went with the king oyster mushroom stem idea. I sliced the stems in scallop-sized pieces, and soaked them in a garlic and veggie broth bath. After that, I seared them in my skillet. Then I made a cashew cream sauce using cashews, leftover scallop marinade, and a nori sheet. I poured the sauce over the scallops, then mixed in a ton of Ritz-style vegan crackers and dotted with Earth Balance (don't judge me). I baked it until browned. Observe.

The scallops tasted really tough, and I think maybe I should have not seared them, or I don't know I'm not sure. Maybe they should have been cut into smaller baby scallops. Who's to say? Flavorwise this was spot on. It tasted like the sea from the nori sauce, and creamy from the cashews. The crackers were some sort of Ritz knock-off that were just cheaper and accidentally vegan. I don't usually buy crappy products like that but it was for the sake of veganizing a casserole, and so I strove for authenticity above all else. I hear you judging me. Quit it.

We finally went to a shop-up at Spreadhouse, a random coffee shop that virtually serves no vegan food normally. They host a shop-up for vegans every once in a while, so we went down, hung out with our friend Lauren from Cake Thieves, ate macarons and Yeah Dawgs, and Alex got this bbq seitan sandwich from Monks Meats. I ate one of the pickles off it.

Whenever I ask Alex to cook, he makes one of two dishes: BBQ chickpea salad, or Potato Leek Soup. Guess which one this is?

It's a family favorite in our house (tiny apartment) and the recipe we use is from Isa Does It. It's pretty amazingly easy, you just chop a couple things, sauté, simmer, and blend. So simple-- just don't tell Alex. He's a beginner.

I had pickles on the brain ever since I got some pickles from Brooklyn Brine at the shop-up a few weeks ago. They were so unbelievably delicious and they were perfect for me while I was doing my salad and smoothie reign-of-terror diet, because whenever someone would eat cake in front of me, or drink a beer in front of me/spill a beer on me, I just ate one of these pickles, and everything was calm again. When I ran out of them it was rough. The hanger sets in quick. That's why we went to the Pickle Shack in Brooklyn. We went on my post-salad diet, which is no diet at all. We began with fried pickles, because it's pickle heresy not to.

They have the best beers at the pickle shack. I got a Founder's Mosaic Promise. Alex thought we could share. Pffft. I ended up drinking 2 1/2. They were delicious.

I ordered the Carolina-style BBQ Pulled Mushroom Sandwich. And a Kale Salad, of course. Old habits die hard. It came with a pickle and I made a strange noise while I ate it. Alex thought there was something wrong with me, but actually it was just a really good pickle.

Can someone please explain wtf this stone slab is doing here and where tf is my plate???

The mushroom sandwich was dope, as I knew it would be. Alex went for the veggie burger, and that's a rookie mistake. A good veggie burger is very few and far between. You order it only when you must, or when you know it is the best thing on the menu. This $16 pile of mushy seitan was not worth it. He said it was okay, but I took a bite and deemed it under par. Isn't it weird how the best veggie burgers are found in the strangest places?? My favorite veggie burger ever is made at a non-vegan Brew-pub called Harvest Moon in the college town of New Brunswick, NJ, home of the grease truck and "Fat Sandwich." No seriously- it's the best veggie burger I've ever had.

Dat ketchup tho. They make their own and it is something worthy of a standing ovation.

For dessert we split the Huckleberry cobbler. The definition of a cobbler is disputed. Many consider it the same as "crisp" with an oat-brown sugar topping baked on top of the fruit in a large dish, some consider it a dish of fruit with cake batter poured over it and baked, others consider it cake batter with fruit on top of it and baked, and some people think of it as shortcake, just fresh fruit with biscuits. This version of cobbler, was a berry-cake sort of stew with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream on top. Now, let's be clear. The main event is the ice cream. But somehow all together, you get the sweet berries with a little savory (corn) batter the cold ice cream all meeting the hot berry-stew. It sounds weird but it's very, very magical.

Another day during vegan mofo, you were supposed to make a dish that someone or something famous would eat if they were vegan. I was slightly confused by the question, since we all could eat vegan food, whether we are vegan or not, so I waited until some other people posted theirs before I picked mine. It was kind of an homage to a character or to a person who is known for loving a dish, like Popeye, who loves spinach, or Garfield, who loves lasagna. I quickly noted that doing a cartoon character was the easiest way to go for this, and decided if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were all vegan, they'd order this pizza from Vinnie's. I'ts a vegan "chicken-parm-style" pizza, with marinara, teese, and some kind of vegan chicken bits. No anchovies, of course, since that is the Turtles' one specification about their pizza.

We took a little road trip up to North Adams, MA to go to the Mass MoCa museum. North Adams is in the top left-hand corner of the Berkshires by the borders of VT & NY. It's a really pretty drive, albeit a long one, but it was actually starting to look a little like fall up there.

 Some of the pieces are performance art pieces, which I've never been a big fan of, nor understood in general. But I did enjoy Jim Shaw's exhibit, Entertaining Doubts. Very surreal but satirical. I want to see his show in NYC later this month.
Here's Alex looking  like he's too cool for art school:

Here's me looking like I really miss art school:

This is the first time I felt like moving back to New England since leaving home after college.

NYC is great. I will miss the shit out of it when I leave. But we can't stay forever.

We went apple-picking with Jessica and Ava while we were home! Ava's first apple-picking trip! She's only 17 months, but we decided to bring her along to help pick apples for fun! The tractor that picked us up had a little dog in the front :)

Here's my mom and Jess with Ava! First things first, learn how to walk. Next step-- pick apples!

I love how cheap things are in MA. We filled a gigantic bag full of apples that was overflowing with apples, at least like 50 apples, for $25. I also got a huge butternut squash for $2. Did I tell you how I paid $15 for 6 peaches at the farmers market by my apartment?? WTF is the deal??

I love fall! I can accessorize fully! Here I am modeling the Vegan Fall 1 catalogue for the season: black leggings and flannel plaid dress, vegan belt, jean jacket, acrylic scarf, purple high socks, vegan boots, and knit hat. All this can be yours from the KZ collection this fall only.

Before leaving town, we saw Alex's dad play a show at the Big E. The Big E is a county fair where they only serve ridiculous food items like bacon cheeseburgers served on glazed doughnut buns, or a pile of bacon cheese fries served in a dog bowl. I saw a sign for "Vegetables" and wondered what that would be like, and so after wandering over and saw what people we walking away with, the "vegetables" they were frying were just onion rings. A county fair would also not be complete without some sort of animal exploitation. Besides the multiple leather vendors, they had an elephant you could pay to ride on, and the "world's tiniest horse" that you could pay to gawk at. I watched the large elephant slowly saunter around a tent he couldn't take more than 5 steps in without having to turn around again, with three young children on his back kicking his sides. It looked as if they told the elephant to look miserable too. He surely did. I'm vegan for that elephant. 

So anyway, Alex's dad is a singer, and he played a show at the Big E! He got us some tickets so we could see him play before we went back to New York for the week. It was fun to see him play, especially since I don't think I've seen him play in over 5 years!

When we got back to NYC, it was chilly and wonderful. Fall has been making me want to stay in bed and snuggle forever. It's finally not boiling temperature in my apartment and I can pull the covers over me without fear of waking up a puddle. Not just in a puddle-- but KZ being just a puddle. It is finally Chili Weather!!! I made a batch of my favorite chili and cornbread and watched a movie, Heathers, to be exact. It was odd, but I liked it anyway.

While my friend Amey from Vegan Eats & Treats was in NYC visiting, I got to meet up with her for dinner at Peacefood! We were busy gabbing about all things vegan and NYC so all I managed to take was this photo of my favorite thing from Peacefood, the fluffy quinoa salad. I've been following Amey's blog for years so it was great to meet her and her husband finally!

We have so many shows to go to this fall! We had tickets to Beirut at Radio City last week! We haven't been there in at least three years, so it was nice to go back. It's really an amazing space. It's so beautiful inside, and very different from the spots we normally see shows at. Last time we had better seats, but this time we were in the very last row of the orchestra. We could still hear fine, but being up close is definitely cooler. Beirut was great! It always gives me nostalgia listening to them. It puts me back in college in Painting I, listening to Gulag Orkestar while I painted with acrylics, listening to "Postcards from Italy" on repeat. Basic? Maybe but it still makes me nostalgic.

Alex begged me to make strombolis again. It's a serious job, and it's not very healthy for you, but once every 6-8 months I'll give in and we reminisce about our Stuff Yer Face days where I learned to drink beer and eat bad salad.

I had been wanting to try this Kale & Roasted Butternut Salad with Lentils from Isa Does It for a while but never had a glowing opportunity to. Last weekend, opportunity knocked, and this salad answered. I needed a dinner salad, and I had a butternut squash. I also had a can of lentils and a bunch of kale, and it doesn't call for much else so this salad was really on my side that day. It was pretty good, but I added avocado to make it great.

Highlight of the weekend was seeing Destroyer at Webster Hall. He was so amazing. This was my first time seeing him live, but I went with a bunch of people who'd seen him a lot of times and said he's always amazing. He had a full band with horns, saxophone and keyboards, along with the usual drums, bass and guitar, but I could hear each instrument really perfectly. The whole band was really on, and I always appreciate when the band puts on an amazing performance because it isn't always the case. A+ to Destroyer, I've been a fan for many years.

Of course at the first sign of cold weather I had to make the Dilly Stew With Rosemary Dumplings from Isa Does It. This soup is so comforting and amazing for cold weather days. Just make it, and you'll understand. No really, make it, and like it. It will hypnotize you into enjoying the cold weather. It's happened to me before.

I made some breakfast the other day, which included hashbrowns, tofu scramble, banana-chocolate marble muffins, and pancakes. I used the recipe from Isa Does It for the Sinfully Wholesome Waffles, but if you put blueberries in them, they will stick to your waffle iron and refuse to come off. Spray or no spray, you aren't getting a cohesive intact waffle. After a few shameful attempts, I scooped the rest of the batter into my skillet and made them into pancakes. Breakfast saved, waffle crisis averted. 

I still have about 10 apples left from apple-picking, but I had about 20 before I made this apple crisp! I was making my soup and thought I could throw this together while it simmered. I used the recipe from Vegan Pie In The Sky because I'd never actually made that recipe before and I actually had all the necessary ingredients on hand, like apple cider :) I used the remainder of my So Delicious Cashew Ice Cream to top our bowls.

The cashew ice cream is just so much better than any other ice cream! I am not really an ice cream buyer but I think I'd like to keep a pint of this in my freezer at all times in case of emergencies. It's kind of like Earth Balance Mac & Cheese. You know you have some in the back of your pantry just so that you feel safe. It helps you sleep knowing that it's there.

More fall food to follow!