Saturday, May 16, 2015

This Is Not A Music Blog

I have had a busy month! Kicking off the month of May, we took a trip back to our hometown so that I could try on my wedding dress (!!!!!) which finally after 9 long months came in, and more importantly, for our Jack and Jill, which to New Englanders is a modern wedding shower. You see, nowadays kids (adults) live in apartments so small we couldn't possibly fit another cookie scoop (or could we?) into our drawers let alone a dishwasher or juicer or whatever you get at a normal wedding shower. When my generation gets married, we need cash -- and not household items. I mean I literally own everything I could ever need that would fit into my apartment, kitchenwise. I have a vegetable spiralizer, pineapple corer, ice cream maker, keurig, panini press, waffle iron, Le Creuset pots and pans, and a collection of stolen 16 oz pint glasses. I have more stuff, I just only listed the things that are completely unnecessary to a normal life. A Jack and Jill is a party the family of the bride or groom (or both) throws as a sort of fundraiser in place of a shower. Except it's a party. So it's actually fun to go to, versus a wedding shower, which is not. Everyone agrees with me. So now that we all know what a Jack and Jill is, and that we just had one for our forthcoming wedding, we can talk about food. 

 I have been loving the Thug Kitchen cookbook that I got for Christmas! The food is exactly the kind of food I want to be eating all the time: healthy, satisfying, full of whole ingredients, still awesome. This one is the Spring Veggie Bowl with grilled bok choy and asparagus with tofu and rice noodles. The sauce is a red curry paste base with things like soy sauce and agave and brown sugar thrown into the mix. It was so perfect and awesome and I want to eat it again, and again and again....
So Silk came out with these yogurts, and I really have never been a take-a-yogurt-to-work kind of person, and I never really liked portioned flavored yogurts vegan or otherwise, so I am not sure what made me give these a try. It must have been the word "plant-based", or to people who like to get real, "vegan." Anyway, this vanilla flavor was so amazing and it tasted like pudding or something dessert-like. I bought this flavor, peach/mango, and blueberry. I liked them in that order, vanilla being the best.

 Look, Vanilla bean seeds!

Two things occurred to me recently: that Iced Coffee Season has arrived and I am obsessed with Iced Coffee. The second thing is that Iced Coffee is outrageously expensive. Why is it always over $4?? Why do soy and almond milks separate in it??? Why does it cost $2 to add soy or almond milk? YOU GUYS ARE KILLING ME! 

 Oh, and a third thing occurred to me: There is a keurig machine upstairs at work that I have never used. I occasionally bring my own coffee from home but way more frequently stop and buy some on the way, or several other times throughout the day. I could be saving all of those dollars by bringing my k-cups and creamer (which does not separate in iced coffee) to work, and having it all day long for the cheap price of about $1.09 per giant iced coffee! I brought lots of coffee supplies for me and my (also dairy-free) coffee-drinking coworker but he won't drink any of my coffee. Maybe I have cooties or he's too proud. More for me?

I drink my coffee out of a 32 oz mason jar and it is awesome. And cheap. Sigh... I'm so happy.

Alex used to be so obsessed with the Terminator that he dressed up like him for halloween in 1993. We have been lugging a VCR around from town to town for all these years and finally popped a VHS in for some throwback movie nostalgia. Everyone knows Terminator 2 is the best Terminator.

More stuff from Thug Kitchen, like this Summer Corn & Basil Chowder! It was so awesome and easy and Alex helped me make it. They keep it relatively simple with the ingredients, and it's probably easy to follow the recipes if you're new at cooking. I really dig this soup and I think I will make it again for sure. But next I have to try the flautas, and the burrito, and the torta! And the...

In addition to Iced Coffee Season, it's also Margarita Season. There's a place down the block from me that has killer margaritas. They aren't cheap, but they have frozen passionfruit margaritas and you can't exactly pass one of those up. On Mondays and Tuesdays they only cost $6. I had one this past Wednesday and Thursday, so I'm definitely looking forward to Monday and Tuesday of this week.

I am keeping it real lately with salads. I have so many salad recipes to try and I know I've been proclaiming it the season of all sorts of things, but it is also Salad Season. This salad, below, is from Isa Does it and is called the Farmer's Market Salad or something to that effect. I fell into a whirlwind of arugula from my Italian customer who has an amazing garden. He brought us butter lettuce this week, so I used up what was left of my arugula mixed with some of the new butter lettuce and made this salad with it. It has sliced and sautéed trumpet mushrooms, and boiled whole baby bliss potatoes. The dressing is a mustardy-chive blend with some lemon and agave, and it has a ton of sliced snap peas in it. The potatoes are the star of the show here. I mean, what kind of monster doesn't like little baby bliss potatoes?  

Today I woke up and began the very best Saturday ever. I did a crazy Jeanette Jenkins workout for 2 hours, and then ate a cookie. Okay I ate a few cookies. Then I got a chance to try out some new vegan beauty products I hadn't worked into my schedule yet and relax a little before Alex woke up. I am an early riser, he is absolutely not. After we got up, we went to Champs, because it's Saturday, and beat the line! We didn't have to wait at all! Although we probably missed the rush rather than beat it, since we didn't get there until 2pm.
I got an Iced coffee, obviously, and a Drunken Cowgirl, an old favorite that I decided to revisit. I realized I love this dish because I don't need to add anything to it. For a while I was doing the Soltero bowl and adding guac, but that is $3 extra, and the bowl costs $13 already, so why not order the Drunken Cowgirl, that has ALL of the bases covered and pay only $12? Goddamn I am so smart lately. It must be my new Vans. They are thinking shoes.

In case you haven't ordered the Drunken Cowgirl, and I know you probably have, It's 2 slices of fluffy Texas toast, a pile of vegan bean chili, tofu scramble that has been cooked on a flat top so there's crispy bits of it, big chunks of potato home fries, vegan cheese, and a bunch of avocado. Bases covered, cowgirl. You are the winner. 
After Champs, we go to Dunwell donughnuts, because ever since Champs moved, they are walking distance from Dunwell and do you think I'm an idiot? So we got one for now and one for later, but I took both of mine out for photos, while Alex kept his second flavor in the bag as a secret. I looked to my left and saw the same girls we were sitting next to at Champs sitting next to me at Dunwell, so I obviously had to make friends with them and now I know more vegans so my life is better than it was before. 

 My flavors are the good ones, ie the raspberry pistachio and apple pie, while Alex got vanilla sprinkle and cinnamon sugar (not pictured).

After Dunwell we went to Haymaker's Corner Store, an all-vegan grocery in Champs' old residence. I picked up this cold brew, because -- well we already talked about Iced coffee.. I stocked up on Earth Balance Mac and Cheese because I have no shame, and few other things. It's such a cute little store, and a short distance from my place. 

Pardon this non-food related interlude:

I forgot to tell you about our other tradition. So when we go to Champs, we usually intercut the decadent vegan food with a trip to Human Head Records. Alex and I have been collecting vinyl since college, well mostly Alex until recently. I started helping contribute to the collection only a few years ago. I've actually enjoyed listening to vinyl as an activity so much more than other methods I used to listen on, and learning more about it, I can understand what makes it better than CD or other mediums. I like putting on a record and sitting and reading to it, or sketching while Alex works, or enjoying it with friends as an interactive experience. It's not that you can't do that with CD, but I like the experience of putting on a record, because it allows me to pay more attention to the order of songs, the choice the artist made to put the tracks in that specific order, on side A rather than side B, realizing that making a double LP is badass and prolific and most artists' records aren't very long, and when you find an artist who puts 15 songs on their record, well... I realize how they had a lot to say, appreciate it all the more, and well, I just like the big artwork on the 12" vinyl rather than on a clunky plastic scratched CD case. There, I said it. I've been buying records that are new to me and ones like the one above, that I grew up listening to. Today, I got this one:

Human Head Records on Johnson Ave in Brooklyn is a favorite of mine, and one we frequent more often than most others. We dig Other Music near NYU, Earwax in North Brooklyn and Bleeker Street Records, on Bleeker street.. obviously.

Speaking of Double LPs, here is my most recent Double LP purchase, Neko Case's latest, but still 2 years old, The Worse Things Get... Totally amazing artwork/Totally amazing record. I cannot wait to see her next month at Northside!!!

This one was a deluxe version, has 3 sides, the 4th side has eels etched into it, came with several booklets, and came with a bunch of eel-themed temporary tattoos. I put one on my ankle and my mom freaked out because she thought it was real. Tricked'ya.

We have been playing Hop Along's new record pretty much non stop since it was released. We saw them at Rough Trade on their first stop on their tour. I can't say enough good things about it, so I'll just tell you to listen to it. Listen while you walk to work, listen while you walk back. Listen while you workout, listen while you type up your blog or your zine. Listen while you cook. Listen. 

The album cover is painted by Frances, the singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist. It is fruit in a dish but sometimes it looks like a big pile of melting ice cream scoops to me and I like it. It makes me want ice cream. Vegan, of course. She also includes a great handwritten lyric sheet that I have read many times over by now.

So now you know what I've been spinning and what else I do besides cook and eat vegan food. Hopefully you all still like me.

 So as not to end on a non-vegan-food note, I picked up this candy bar that I found at Haymaker's that is like a Milky Way. One time my sister and I searched high and low at a Whole Foods for it but couldn't find it. We were stocking up on vegan snacks to bring to a wedding that we didn't anticipate having food at. I love my sister and am so happy I have her to be awesome and vegan and cool alongside me.

More posts soon and fewer gaps in between! 
<3 KZ

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Life Through The Lens Of The Spring

So much time has suddenly passed since my last post! We're approaching mid-April and I have an abundance of vegan food to discuss with all of you! Until I can figure out how to make my posts hinge upon some sort of structure, I'm just going to keep barreling through my most recent food pics and tell you about what my life was like while I ate said food. Cool?

So the NYC Veg Fest happened. I always look forward to going to this festival. This is my fourth year attending it! This year my friend Belinda, who is also vegan, came with me. Since she comes in from Jersey, I asked her to stay in Queens with me the night before so that we could get moving early enough to Manhattan in the morning. Seizing the evening, we made empanadas! Belinda is from Mexico so she was a good person to have cooking with me my first time ever making empanadas and she taught me the ropes of how to make them awesome, the way she grew up making them with her family.

We made two kinds: Corn-crusted red chile seitan and wheat-crusted zucchini and choclo with ají amarillo. I foolishly forgot to split them and take a picture of the middle. We also made salsa verde and a ton of guac! Amazing. 

All I managed to photograph from the veg fest was this coconut macaron that was actually at The Seed Market next door to the festival. At the actual veg fest we saw Jay Astafa make his mozzarella and ate a lot of it, which was amazing, got lots of good food, bought some beet juices, mexican drinking chocolate, vegan t-shirts, Ethiopian food, ate vitamix soup and got minty lemonade. We tried to go to Chloe Coscarelli's demo but the tent was too full. Bummer. It was Belinda's first time at the veg fest and she had great time! Isn't it great to reconnect with old friends, especially when you find out they've gone vegan?! 

Alex couldn't come to Veg Fest because he was in California for a couple weeks visiting his brother. When he got home I made him what seems like his favorite type of dinner. The template for his favorite kind of meal is as follows: heavily seasoned meat-analog, potatoes - mostly any preparation will do, and a traditional veggie. No brussels sprouts, no artichokes, no fancy farmer's market kale or squash. Just an old standard carrot, green bean or asparagus. Asparagus might be pushing it. This is the Italian Meatloaf from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen. It was really great and I love using brown rice as a meaty base for these types of things instead of seitan or wheat gluten. It feels more varied in nutrition and texture and not sit like a brick in your stomach. These potatoes are whipped with roasted garlic and olive oil, and the carrots have some pomegranate molasses as a glaze. I'm not sure how I got away with that one, but he liked it! Don't misunderstand him, he will try and almost always like everything that comes out of my kitchen, but when it's a special meal I'm making with him in mind, I like to play to my strengths, and my strengths are garlic mashed potatoes and meatloaf.

I felt like eating really healthy after feeling kind of terrible for a few days. I made this beautiful salad with some smoky chickpeas and a roasted red pepper dressing! It was plentiful, delicious and hearty as salads seldom are. Spring is here and it's time to get serious about salads!

My mom and dad came to visit over Easter weekend, and we had a nice few days full of outdoor spring weather walks, catching a glimpse at the first blooms of the season, cut in between with much delicious vegan food from our favorite spots. Mom and dad always come happily to the vegan spots with us, even though neither of them follow a vegan diet. They just trust that whatever place I take them to is going to be awesome. The first stop was Champs for breakfast. I finally broke away from the shackles of breakfast burrito brain and ordered the benedict bowl! It was an amazing switcheroo in the breakfast routine. Also bowls. Why is everything not a bowl?? 

 Potatoes, cherry tomatoes, spinach, tofu scramble, and hollandaise

We took them walking around several parks that day, beginning with Prospect. It was definitely a windy day, but coupled with walking several miles it evens out and the wind doesn't really chill you if you keep moving. It was beautiful and I'm glad we didn't miss out due to the skeptical weather that was forecast. This is Prospect Park Lake.

I love these wheat thingies. What are they called?? They complete the composition and make this a paintable scene. I need to know their moniker.

After Prospect Park, we decided to take them to yet another park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, where Alex and I got engaged last spring :) Can I mention that my parents each carry a rare but pleasant gene called the parking gene?? Whenever they are present, a spot that's perfectly conducive to where you want to go/walk to/be/live is suddenly before you. They bring the ease of Western Mass's parking conditions along with them to New York City. I am thinking I will pay them to just ride around with me full time to reap the benefits of this gene which they did not pass on to me.

Anyway, we hung out in our unbelievable spot and ate several doughnuts a piece, from Dunwell, of course. Then we strolled around the piers for a while, taking in what may be the best view in all of New York City. We also saw the line for Grimaldi's and laughed. We're a Roberta's family.

The next morning we decided to go to M.O.B for brunch. We left early thinking it would take some time to park, but silly us, we forgot about the parking charm and found a spot directly outside and had about half an hour to kill before they even opened. We walked around the Barclays and surrounding neighborhood, but alas, not much to see. M.O.B was really amazing. They are a little too frou frou with their coffee, though, serving us each an individual french press. WTF is a french press anyway?? It was good coffee but I like it to come in a mug and drink it immediately instead of waiting 4 minutes to press and also googling how to use a french press before I did it. It was good coffee, but I wasn't raised in a country club so I prefer my coffee hot, black and in a mug already.

I ordered the Roasted Corn and Shiitake Scramble, which came with tofu, red bell pepper sauce, sautéed kale, sweet potato home fries, sour cream drizzle and flatbread. I opted to add the "carrot bacon" for $1.50 more because what kind of self-respecting (self-proclaimed) foodie doesn't add something called "carrot bacon" ?? It was utterly amazing and everyone at the table snatched a few pieces. I think my dish was the clear winner of the table, seeing as my dad and Alex each ordered the blueberry pancakes and my mom ordered the citrus-scented pancakes with figs and blood orange hibiscus syrup. She gets it: if you must order pancakes for breakfast, at least make them pancakes you couldn't make for yourself at home. But me? I'm a savory breakfast fiend and I defend my choice as the best of them all.  

An amazing plate of food

 The blueberry pancakes were good too. I got to try them because as soon as our plates came Alex decided "we're sharing" and took half of my food, replacing the gaping spots left on my plate with a few of his pancakes. BTW I am back on bananas! Cue the gif from 10 Things I Hate About You when JGL says "And I'm BACK IN THE GAME!!"

 Why are the little wild blueberries just so much better than big blueberries???

Inspired by Amey from Vegan Eats And Treats I made the most gigantic pot of minestrone soup, following her recipe to a T. What is a T? Anyway, it was great soup and I ate it seven times. There's still half a bowl left. The leftovers got a little melancholy at day 6, but I spruced it up by sprinkling over the top some almond parmesan. I love soup. Thanks Amey!!

I had said almond parmesan in the fridge because I made some to go with this pasta with broccoli. It was about 30 minutes of chopping and stirring and suddenly a dinner that ruled was before me. Almond parmesan might be the answer to the world's problems. We would all be a little less awful, less selfish, more thoughtful, more compassionate, more humanistic if we all would just have a big bite of pasta twirled up and dusted with some almond parmesan every once in a while.

Alex took me on a surprise date night on Friday, featuring dinner and a movie. The dinner: Angelica Kitchen. I have had this place on my radar as the quintessential vegan restaurant that's played sanctuary to all compassionate souls of this city since the 1970s. I'd never been but almost every time I told someone I met that I was vegan, they would always ask if I've eaten at Angelica Kitchen, and that they couldn't believe I hadn't and that they must take me there. Alex had read that their cornbread was "dyno" so we began with that. 

The waiter asked us if we wanted "Southern-Style" or "The House Cornbread." Now I didn't know there were two kinds. I thought cornbread varied only based on adding sugar or not, cream or milk, or jalapeños and cheese or not. Apparently I am totally wrong and "the house" cornbread was a more dense, hearty and savory dish. We opted for the "Southern-style" fluffy, normal cornbread. I liked it, as it was what I expected cornbread to be, but Alex's first words after eating it were, "Somebody makes better cornbread than this...." (me).. :) 

Alex ordered this dish from the daily's special called "Patties Smith" which were little vegetable cakes that taste like your childhood Thanksgiving dinner and smokey ketchup, alongside some potatoes, asparagus and a salad with a lemony dressing. It was so amazing and I kept stealing bites. 

Since Cadry from Cadry's Kitchen had posted a round-up of her favorite vegan reuben sandwiches from around the country I have had reubens on the brain. I had no clue what to order at Angelica Kitchen, having only been suggested the "Dragon Bowl", which to a hungry KZ read like a bowl of $16 rabbit food, and so I landed on this reuben. I am a big fan of all things reuben, what with all the sauerkraut and russian dressing and tangy meat-like substance, in this case tempeh. I love tempeh! What is with all the tempeh hate around here? Get with the tempeh times. I am going to write a new zine and call it the Tempeh Times. That project is mine. Don't steal my idea. I'm doing it. It's off the table for consideration. If you do it first I'm coming for you, and putting a fist between your teeth. Just kidding, would never hurt you. Just give you a stern piece of truth. But beware of that truth.

The movie we saw was called While We're Young, a shockingly appropriate film for us by a favorite director of ours, Noah Baumbach. It was about a couple in their mid-forties struggling to keep their friends of the same age relevant after choosing not to have children. They meet a couple in their mid-twenties who helped reignite their passions for living life in NYC. A lot of other stuff happens too. You'll have to watch it. It's a great film. I am not a forty-something with any regrets about not having kids or struggling to reignite my will to live, nor am I a textbook hipster who is an aspiring documentarian with a pet chicken who seems to have nothing but time on their hands. Still I found myself in between the two, wanting to be neither, and feeling good about who I am and where I am now -- ready to choose a path to follow. I'm a really lucky person. I know I say this all the time, but I am filled with love for all my fellow vegans and am perpetually inspired by every last one of you.

So much love,


Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Seamless Tradition (Transition)

The last few weeks of winter are passing us by. It's currently snowing and it looks beautifully white one last time until some warm weather washes it all away. Spring will be welcomed by all, especially by New Yorkers, who have the innate need to complain about the weather. I am very obviously a transplant. Anyhow, I have not had a huge appetite (weird!) so I haven't been super inspired in the kitchen and have resorted to either old favorites or takeout. Here's a pic of some Indian takeout from a place down the block with a vegan menu:

Aloo Gobi and Veggie Samosas

We have been making the smokehouse chickpea salad from Salad Samurai over and over and over again lately. I usually make a sweet potato "on the side" but it always turns out to be a second dinner. This one is doused in "authentic guacamole" because I roasted chiles and chopped tomatoes to fold into this guac. Also, I didn't mash it as fine as usual. See? Authenticity.

 A quinoa and tofu caesar salad is always a go-to for us. I have eaten this salad four thousand times. It is still good. My carnivorous friend asked me for my tofu recipe and I was shocked and my little vegan heart returned from stone to it's warm and beating state.

Every year I ask for chocolates from Lagusta's Luscious for valentines day and I finally got them!! I got the "box of hearts" which contains three types of caramels and 2 types of cream-filled hearts. The top row is my fave, which are chocolate caramels with some chocolate salt. Next row is a pear cream-filled heart, my favorite of the two hearts. Next row has violet caramels, more flowery than your average, then rosewater cream-filled hearts, a bit perfumey but it is Valentines day, after all, and the last row are cinnamon caramels which were great and literally exactly that. I ate them all. Within a week. They were for me, so...

For dinner, we opted not to go out, but stay in and cook. I made a "seitan au vin" with mushrooms, red wine and seitan, some gnocchi with rosemary and garlicky green beans. It was fancy. Observe:

We hadn't been to Champs in weeks (gasp) so last weekend we trecked out and got lucky because there was no wait. This breakfast burrito always takes me when I go. I think I'm going to order something new but nope. I get this almost always. If it's dinner time I get the awesome bowl and add guac. Sometimes I get mozzarella sticks. Don't judge.

Since Champs moved, we make a habit to stop by Dunwell Doughnuts on the way home. This time we were feeling particularly sugar-starved and got 3 each. My picks were berry french toast, Maple caramel pecan, and raspberry cheesecake. Alex got all the boring flavors. All six were eaten by the night's end.

My Ethiopian spices came! I invited some friends over for dinner and made a ton of stuff from 
Teff Love. Here are all my spices stacked up in the big box I was sent:

Aerial view of the excitement

I also ordered my injera online too. For this big dinner I wish I would have steamed it, but didn't figure out that the steaming method is the way to go until the next day. Also, this injera got moldy by day 3. Sad. 

 Here is my plate:

Top right clockwise: Fasolia (green beans and carrots), yellow split peas, misir wat (spicy lentils), ingudai awaze tibs (spicy mushrooms) Shiro (spicy ground chickpeas), Center: Avocado and kale salad, and top left is butecha, but I used the recipe from Vegan Eats World, because I love it.

 A few days later I made the lentil Sambusas with chickpea crust. The lentil filling was nice, but I didn't care for the flavor of the dough. I feel like a sambusa is supposed to be ultra crispy and these just weren't like a sambusa for me. There is a recipe in the book that uses rice paper, but I think I will just use filo dough next time. I think they would be more like a sambusa that way! They looked really pretty anyway so I took a bunch of pics. 

I have many recipes left to cook from Teff Love and I may even try making injera again -- even after the last time during which I had an epic fail. Perseverance, pride, and peanut butter. That's what makes a strong vegan.