Oh Hai, Summer!

I am still alive and breathing I swear. For the past month I have been sweating a little more each day, drinking a little more iced coffee,...

I am still alive and breathing I swear. For the past month I have been sweating a little more each day, drinking a little more iced coffee, and muttering under my breath, "It's still spring, It's still spring, It's still spring..." It is officially Summer now, so I wallow in sweaty sadness and miss my winter hat collection. To keep my spirit alive, I've been making lots of good food with summerful produce, cooking from some new and old favorite books, listening to some sweet tunes, and seeing some sick shows. I've been doing other stuff, too. Observe:

One evening I made some "summer" rolls from Thug Kitchen, which is fast becoming my go-to cookbook for flipping through and landing on something for dinner. I don't make summer rolls often because it usually involves sticky rice paper and a lot of cursing, but then I see a picture of someone's beautiful summer rolls and I forget the headache they were to make in the past and the cycle continues. I picked up some summer roll tips from Kittee, dear sweetheart to all in the vegan world, and my rolling game was upped several notches. 

No, really. Check out that tight roll.

Alex made the dipping sauce and he was really proud that he helped. He's cute.

This is what happened one night when Alex requested a "pilaf" for dinner. I don't think he really knows what he meant, but when I think of rice pilaf, I think of a box of rice-a-roni that has little pieces of what I now know as orzo in it with a package of salt to stir in. I wasn't totally into the box, so I made some brown rice and cooked it in veggie broth, added peas and garlic and Voila. Pilaf. Tofu and veggies also made an appearance on the "pilaf" plate.

I fell into a tot-ditch at some point during the month of June. I am not proud to admit it. I eschew as much processed food as I can. I make faces at in in the grocery store. I try not to go anywhere but the produce aisle. One day at work I was hit by a tot craving. Like any craving, it came inexplicably and without reason. I sent Alex to the store to buy them (I could never be seen buying them after making all those faces at them) and he brought home a big bag that goes in the freezer, so it doubles as an endless supply and reminder of how you gave into a craving. A modest 1 cup serving turns into 2 fast, and they require dipping, ketchup usually but sometimes I even dip in chipotle vegenaise (gasp). Needless to say I didn't buy a second bag. But the first bag is long since gone...

I served said tots with the chickpea salad sandwich from Thug Kitchen. I loved this recipe because the creamy-mayonnaise-y base is just avocado. I can get behind that. Also, so can Alex, who is a certified mayo-hater. The recipe made enough for like ten sandwiches so we ate them for days. Half the recipe would have been more than sufficient for the two of us.

One night with our leftover sandwiches, I made the Summer Squash Soup, also from Thug Kitchen. It was pretty good, but I liked the corn chowder better, which has a remarkably similar method. Chop, sauté, blend. Eat. 

I recently read Unorthodox, by Deborah Feldman. I was so into this book that I couldn't put it down. I think I read it faster than I've ever read a book. I knew virtually nothing about the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, so I had a lot to learn from the book. If you're into feminism at all, I highly recommend this book. I already gave it to my sister, an avid feminist and literature fan, because I knew she would be into it. It is so completely interesting and horrifying at the same time. I literally could not put it down.

I don't make pies with quite the fierce frequency I used to, but I still crank out a few pies from time to time. Those times are almost exclusively Thanksgiving, Christmas, early summer when strawberry and rhubarb seasons overlap, and late summer in August, when peach season arrives. Everyone, no matter what their dietary restrictions may be, ought to allow themselves pie during these seasons. Since we are, or I guess were, at the time of this pie-making, knee deep in strawberry season, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie to bring home and share with my mom, who bestowed upon me her love of pie. I like to serve any fruit pie with vanilla ice cream. I picked up So Delicious Cashew for this occasion. Very smooth and creamy, not icy like some vegan vanillas I have tried.

While unexpectedly home, I caught up with this fella, my late aunt's dog. His name is Tucker. He's a rescued Yorkshire Terrier and very sweet. He misses my aunt :( We are doing our best to keep him company, and so many people have offered to take him in. He is the best. 

We made use of some of our free daytime hours to stroll through the Ashley Reservoir in Hoyoke, MA. I kind of can't believe such a beautiful place exists in our world. It is the most calm, serene and breathtaking place I have been in a long time. Whenever I go, there seems to be barely anyone there, but when I ask around if anyone else knows about it or has been there, almost everyone says yes and how they love to go and stroll or run. I guess the beauty of it is in part due to it's sparseness, much like Western Mass in general. 

We were back the next day for real-life duties and activites before heading back in a few days for other pre-planned festivities. But first, what has been the highlight of my year, we saw Neko Case in Brooklyn. Outdoor shows in beautiful weather should be what summer is for. 

Neko case is my favorite and I have become increasingly obsessed with her catalogue, especially in the past two years. She is so smart and cool, and my spirit animal, if I ever had one. Best show by the most talented musicians. 

In other news, when you leave New York and find yourself at a Starbucks, put coconut milk in your iced coffee. It is the milk of choice for all iced coffee. I have tried every kind of plant-based milk in my iced coffee so you should trust me, probably.

They spelled KZ wrong

My mom and I went strawberry picking one Saturday in mid-June, the best time for strawberry picking. We picked a lot... I made strawberry smoothies every day for 2 weeks and still had a ton left over. I froze them for a rainy day. 

My best friend and maid of honor, Jessica, planned me a cute little bachelorette party while I was home. She made me wear all sorts of bride-to-be paraphernalia, the cutest being this sash she made for me. Here's a great pic of the two of us, after over eight long years of best-friendship. 

I love this picture of my friend Julia, and I. Julia is amazing, smart, cool and newly vegan (!) and she is moving to California in a few months. She will be missed dearly, by me and many East-coasters alike.
Dear California, 
Stop stealing all of my friends and family.

I don't have the clearest of memories to describe my bachelorette, but I did manage to photograph this margarita at one point during the evening. Needless to say, it was tequila-themed. I woke up foggy-headed feeling like a junior in college again wearing a veil and couldn't have been happier.

More from Thug Kitchen, I have been wanting to make these BBQ Bean Burritos with Grilled Peach Salsa for sooo long. Now that it is burrito season, I found an occasion to do so. I decided to lose the tortilla and pile all my food in a bowl á la Patton Oswalt, figuring that I can fit way more food in a bowl than inside a wrapped tortilla. I was right.

This bowl was the biggest win. It did require a lot of steps, like making the Baked Spanish Rice, first. It was totally worth it, because I loved the baked spanish rice and have made it twice since then. It goes like this: Make sauce by throwing stuff into your blender. Blend sauce, pour over rice. Bake. So obviously, I was into it. The beans came together in a similar fashion, except replace "bake" with "simmer." While the rice was baking and beans simmering, I made the grilled peach salsa. Turns out there was so shortcut to peeling and cutting unripe peaches while they aren't in season yet. I had to slice off the skin and carefully cut the peach away from the pit. In August, when the peaches are perfect, the skin easily slips off by hand, and the peach slides right off the pit. We're not quite there yet... But anyway I loved the salsa, and loved the bowl. I will make it again many times throughout this summer. Especially in August.

Another summery dish I'd love to share with you is this little pizza I made! I would share the recipe but it is not totally my own. I took the concept from this age-old favorite of mine but used the White Bean Rosemary Hummus from Thug Kitchen as my spread. Then I sprinkled chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, and fresh basil. While I was putting this all together I was thinking it was maybe missing something, and I had worked too hard to have my pizza be missing something. So I sautéed some tempeh crumbles with some thyme, oregano, basil and soy sauce. This made my pizza complete.
 An Instagram Classic

Oh hey, guess where this recipe is from! Thug Kitchen? YUP. I wanted a creamy pasta and was close to reaching for my secret stash (which is embarrassingly large) of Earth Balance Mac and Cheese, when this recipe saved me. This is the Creamy Cauliflower Pasta with Fresh Herbs. I had just fallen into a windfall of fresh herbs from my mom's garden and had some cauliflower in the fridge. The cauliflower Goddesses were smiling on me that day. This sauce is just cauliflower in a blender with some almond milk and spices. It's really nothing to feel bad about. I topped it with my almond parm, a special blend I pride myself on, which is a humble blend of lemon zest, almonds and nooch...

 Like most things, it looked better on Instagram...

As if we didn't waste our hard earned rent-dollars being out of the city enough this month, we re-escaped again last weekend to CT where our family rents cottages for a couple weeks every summer. Teachers, right? WTF why did I not become a teacher? Highlights of that included a long walk with my Dad on Father's Day weekend, many margaritas, outlet shopping, and petting dogs. This dog is a husky, super friendly and cute and at the height of shedding season. He covered the floor in a rug of his fur. His name is Atlas. His brother, Apollo, is bigger and fluffier and I wanted to pet him so bad, but he is scared of Alex :(.. Since I was sitting next to him, I was guilty by association and couldn't pet him. Next time...

I love to go visit them at the beach. I have been every summer of my life and would be so sad if I didn't get to go one year. It has a special scent that reminds me of childhood. Whenever I smell anyone grilling, I always think of 4th of July cookouts in the backyards of our cottages here. Maybe someday my kids will smell grilling and think of veggie burgers and grilled mushrooms.

I think I made this on Monday. We were going for our typical chickpea salad and baked potato night combo, but I had extra veggies in the fridge so I cooked all of them! I can eat straight veggies all day every day as long as I can eat them with a giant scoop of guac.

 Even though I just shared 1,000,000,000 pictures with you all, I still have more (gasp)! I will post soon and talk about May. Swear.

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  1. How the heck can I comment on this post? I feel like we just caught up after 6 months and you've blown away my peanut butter sandwiches and ice cream with your amazing, fresh gourmet feasts.
    PS I want to give Tucker the biggest squeeze

    1. Aw Tucker is the best. He and 89 would be best friends.