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...

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!

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  1. It's hard to believe there are any cookbook recipes you haven't gotten to. LOL to Stuff Yer Face and bravo to authenticity over health.