Happy Fall, Y'all!

The weeks of September keep rolling by as quick as they come, and while I am still tirelessly searching for a job, I'm also trying to f...

The weeks of September keep rolling by as quick as they come, and while I am still tirelessly searching for a job, I'm also trying to fill the gaps in my days with fun things that I won't necessarily have tons of time for once I start working. I've been doing a lot of cooking, baking, yoga, exploring, seeing shows, discovering new bands, and hanging with Philly friends. Allow me to elaborate:

During this transitional and uncertain phase of my life, I mostly just want to eat and cook common and comforting food, mostly in pasta form. But occasionally I yearn for a salad, especially one from Salad Samurai, which is full of interesting and innovative salads, very far from the kind you get from a pizzeria and eat while you watch all your friends enjoy giant slices at 2am. These salads are definitely from your most vibrant dreams, full of color, flavor and texture. This one is the Mermaid's Picnic Salad with Seahorse Ranch. It has orange-glazed tempeh, over crunchy spiralized beets and carrots, some spring mix, scallions and orange segments. It's dressed in a cashew-based sauce infused with a seaside aroma from added dulse. Topped with a smattering of black sesame seeds, this salad delivers on crunch factor all while delivering on your sweet, sour and creamy fronts. If you can't get down on this salad, then you definitely can't swim with us.

I've adopted some plants in an effort to convince myself I'm a responsible adult. Turns out I'm not doing so hot, because I didn't realize that two of these plants aren't supposed to be placed in direct sunlight, and under my care they incurred large white brittle spots on their leaves. My succulents and cacti seem to be living an okay life, but I'm really not sure how to care for them since the internet offers such conflicting advice. Help me save my plants.

They aren't in direct sunlight if they're in this window, right?

I made nachos for the second time ever and they were from Thug Kitchen 2. The queso was made from butternut squash and miraculously, Alex liked it and ate most of them.

I finally made something from Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen, the Pesto Chickpea Bowl, which was fantastic with these heirloom tomatoes. In the middle is rice mixed with pesto and chickpeas that have been sautéed. It was a great balance of salty/sweet between the intense salty tart pesto and the super sweet and fresh yellow heirloom tomatoes. I'm sad I didn't get to eat more of these heirloom tomatoes while they were still in season. It's so sad that produce's seasons are so short. I needed more time with peaches and tomatoes. Now I have twelve months to wait. Life is suffering.

We celebrated Alex's birthday back in Brooklyn. It's only a couple hours or so north, and most of our friends are there, so we thought it'd be a great place to celebrate. We decided to hit up the Vegan Shop Up, mostly because our friend Lauren from Cake Thieves was coming from Texas for this one and we didn't want to miss her. For food/sweets, we were most excited to go to Peaceful Provisions for their amazing mammoth croissant/donut/pretzel tribrid treats. They really make the tastiest things. Ever since their vegan cook-up win, we have been their biggest fans. Plus, it's two adorable twins who are so sweet and also brilliant pastry sorcerer unicorns. This box of love was Alex's birthday loot from them!! It's the coveted croissant donut with soft pretzel elements that has a maple frosting and bits of vegan apple sage sausage, AND an amazing birthday brownie with all sorts of layers, like a layer of chocolate chip cookie, a layer of oreo and then a layer of cosmic brownie. Sorcerers.

I saw a soup of this sort on Amey's Blog and wanted to make something similar too. I love white bean and tomato soups, and with some fresh summer tomatoes and basil, this soup left us wanting for nothing. I sort of winged it (wung it?) for the recipe, but I roasted 2 heads of garlic and 5 or 6 large tomatoes, while I caramelized a large onion, and sautéed even more garlic, added everything to the pot with some veggie broth and simmered for another 30 or so minutes, mashing the tomatoes and garlic every few minutes. Then I stirred in the basil, some spinach and cannellini beans just to heat through and served. With bread. Like we each ate half a loaf of french bread with this. What kind of monster eats soup without bread??

On a rough day, feeling a little hopeless, a good cup of coffee and a window seat is a great comfort. I'm lucky to live near so many great coffee shops. I always burned with jealousy when I was in New York and passed by coffee shops on the way to work and saw all these people working all day inside, so cozy with their laptop and coffee, while I stood for 8 hours a day in an office. Now, I'm enjoying my chance to spend a few hours a day at a local coffee shop while I do some work, or catch up on my reading. I've been to One Shot a few times, who have great coffee, great space to work and lots of vegan pastries in their display case. There looks to be many veganizable items on their food menu, too!

Also, a tip from Amey, I made the Grilled Eggplant Lasagna from The Abundance Diet. It has no noodles, but slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini as the layers, sort of acting as the noodles. It has quinoa and lentils mixed into the red sauce for added protein and texture, and a creamy cashew sauce on top. I think I used the Mozzarella Sauce from Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen instead of Somer's because it's so easy, and I knew I loved it. This was great for me, but Alex didn't like the quinoa and lentils meshing with his sauce, nor is he an eggplant fan, so this one didn't go over so well with him. He kept wondering "where's the noodles?" which you have to admit is a valid question. For me, I knew about the lack of noodles ahead of time so I wasn't disappointed, and it packed such a giant serving of veggies it one hit, so I felt like this was the healthiest lasagna I ever made!

Part of me wishes I would have found an apartment in Fishtown instead of Northern Liberties, because it feels more like our style and also more like Brooklyn. But it's such a short walk away and we go there pretty often. I failed to document an amazing meal I had at Loco Pez, who served me a platter of vegan chilaquiles that probably could have fed a family of four. I could barely move after eating, but we managed to walk across the street and sit at ReAnimator's little outside patio afterwards and enjoy a little weekend atmosphere.

We went to another show at PhilaMoCa, this time to see Owen. Birthmark opened, and since we'd seen them before, we got there early to see both sets. It was just Nate, and behind him they played a Bob Ross video on the projector. While Bob Ross was captivating, Birthmark played such a cool set, and since his style is all about layering sounds and rhythms over one another, it seemed really appropriate to have Bob Ross layering paint and colors behind him. Alex wrote a great piece about the show, if you care to take a gander.

So, I've been a fan of Owen since the early 00s and have seen him live about 10 times. The man is good-looking, you can't deny that. In 2008, I drew a likeness of the three men I wanted to marry at the time. They are all celebrities, and I guess Alex didn't make the cut. Luckily for him, I grew out of the idea of marrying a celebrity by 2015. Points if you can guess who they are based on my artistic skills in 2008.

He did a great job of playing a range of material, from very early in his career, to a few songs off his new release. He has such a large group of fanboys. Some were huddled around him in the front, trying to ask him if he remembered them from a show six years ago, or trying to name-drop his dog, who was in a video he made in 2010. I saw a few boys show up with homemade t-shirts with his name printed on them, and even one of his face. So if you think drawing him in 2008 is creepy, you really ain't seen nothing.

Something inspired me to make ravioli recently. It must have had to do with the length of time it had been between now and the last time I made it, and at least enough time must have passed for me to have forgotten how obnoxious making ravioli is. I also never make enough to freeze, and just eat all of what I made in one shot. It just takes too long to make hundreds, though I did probably make around 45. I ate about half and Alex ate the other half. It kind of sounds like a lot now, but I didn't have any trouble eating that many. I'm the ravioli champ, is what I mean to say.

In Philly, a lot of venues sell tickets to shows in person, and after years of buying them online at the risk of them selling out or the venue not selling them in person, we have incurred a serious amount of fees. Sometimes we have paid the price of a whole ticket in fees for a ticket. Sometimes they charge you a credit card fee, a processing fee, and a shipping fee. So when we had the chance to grab tickets straight from the venues around the city, and even at local record stores, we were there. Here's Alex exiting the Electric Factory flush with tickets, sans the fees.

There's free yoga under the Ben Franklin Bridge at Race Street Pier every day, so I have been taking advantage of that as often as possible. Doing yoga outside is so fun, and I feel like I'd never even go out to Race Street Pier if I didn't have an event or some motivation to get me there. It's really pretty and the sun is just starting to set during yoga now, so it's a great view. Also, it's free! I love free stuff.

The skyline is no NYC skyline, but what's the sense in comparing? If a sky looks pretty and you are not obstructing traffic, you are obligated by the social media committee to take a picture for the rest of us to see on the internet. I'm just doing my duty.

First Unitarian Church is also a music venue, and has hosted some of the most amazing indie shows ever (I'm so excited to see Bear vs. Shark there Saturday!). We were passing by it last week and I couldn't help but notice the Black Lives Matter sign that was hung on the front door. My views don't usually align with those of many churches, but seeing a church that's also an indie music venue have a progressive message posted up on it's door, well, it made me not hate the world so much, and also really glad to live in Philly.

One perk of not being currently employed is being available to see free daytime shows! Last Friday Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam played a show at noon at World Cafe Live, the day their record was released. All we had to do was reserve our place online and we got in for free. We were probably some of the youngest people there, most likely due to it being on a Friday at noon, among mostly retirees. Needless to say, a much less rowdy crowd. It was a great show and I grabbed the record on vinyl, because how can you not? Could you not? You couldn't not.

The record is great, Btw.

We went apple-picking on Saturday, because it's September and everyone knows that's when all the good apples are out. Alex was my resident tall person, there to get all the good apples that no one else could reach.

Also, there to carry all the heavy apples we picked already. And look cute. These were his duties.

I love fall. Here is my annual obligatory apple-picking autumnal selfie, feat. Alex.

I finally made the Tempeh Agrodolce from Isa Does It. It was amazing, though pretty labor-intensive. I made the polenta and got the tempeh in the marinade while I got the sauce going and made a banana bread to fill in a little gap (okay I made it a more-involved process than it had to be!). Then, I cut and grilled the polenta, and browned the tempeh. It wasn't too difficult, just time-consuming. The dish had great flavor, was definitely something new, and helped me branch out from your run-of-the-mill tomato/basil/pasta combo.

Here is said banana bread. It's also from Isa Does It, it's the Marbled Banana Bread, which I've made before. I had written notes to myself in the margins, saying not to reserve a full cup of batter to mix the cocoa powder into because it's too much to swirl back into the plain batter without the chocolate just taking over. So this time I reserved 1/2 cup instead, but I still feel like the chocolate took over and you can barely see the plain batter! Maybe next time I will go for 1/3 cup. Very tasty, nonetheless.

Happy Fall everybody!

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  1. I didn't know about the free yoga! I love things like that, but I am too lazy to actually find those type of events and go to them. I get a little anxious that it will be too crowded or something.

    I always got the vibe that World Live Cafe was a venue for people 35+. Although I know my friend's band played there once, so I don't know. Maybe they are trying to attract younger people?

    1. Free yoga goes until the first week in November! It gets a little crowded on weekends but just arrive a little early and you're all set! There's no one at the door of world cafe live making sure you're over 35, so as long as they keep having bands I want to see there, I'm going to keep going! Especially to the free ones :) So far I love the venues around Philly but I still have so many to check out!