Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hiking and a good day

It has been a long but good day. In the morning I got up early and went for a hike at Sweetwater Creek. I had not been since November, when I moved into the house. As it turns out, it was not as far as I had remembered and well within driving distance for my shotty old car. Sadly, when my new hiking buddy, Rebecca, and I arrived we were promptly told that the "red" path was closed. I have always gone along the "red" path and occasionally the "blue" but never have I stepped foot on the "white" trail. To dull the sudden blow to the excitement of the red path, we were told that Wednesdays are free. It was a nice touch but not what we wanted.

Off to the "white" path. As we got into the woods, we saw several signs warning us of rattlesnakes. Yikes! Foolishly, shortly after reading and joking about the signs, I darted off the beaten path to an old building foundation. Looking around I quickly spotted a huge snake skin and we left to get back on the path.

Eventually, after Rebecca fell into the water, we snuck our way onto the "red" path and got a good several hours of hiking in. I can not wait to get back to Sweetwater! I love that place.

I was home shortly after 1pm and assembled my leaf blower and cleaned off my drive and walk way. Then Ashley and I went out to eat and even stopped to get a piece of cake at a great bakery that is right down the street from me. Then we went back to the house and relaxed for a bit. More basketball tonight!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Bards will sing about my heroics for ages. Children will tell inspired stories about my bravery. That may be a slight exaggeration but I was super heroic and brave! Despite a crippling fear of heights and ladders, I ventured to the roof to clean my gutters. It was disgusting but a nessecity of home ownership. Once I got up there, I started to panic but eventually settled down enough to get the job done. Ashley came up and got one side done too.

After the gutters cleaning, Ashley and I made some lunch. She has been making what she calls chicadillas. It is like a chic pea quesdilla with spinach and peppers. It was really great. My addition was some fried potato. I have been on a monster potato kick recently. I can not get enough.

Fried Potato with Cumin Seeds
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
3 med potatoes (cubed)
2 cups of water
2/3 cup of vegan margarine
2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon of cumin seeds1 tablespoon of onion (chopped)
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric

In a pot, bring the water to a boil and add the potato. Boil the potatoes until slightly al dente'. Removed from heat, strain and set aside.

In a saute pan, heat the vegan margarine on med heat until melted. Once the margarine has melted, add the onion, cumin seeds, and garlic and allow to fry for 3-5 minutes or until the garlic is aromatic. Then add the potato and fry for 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, turmeric, and paprika. Gently stir the frying potatoes every few minutes until they get a nice golden hue. Once they are starting to brown, add the sour cream and stir in well. The sour cream will melt and mix in. Serve hot.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Late night dinner

Due to my crazy work schedule, I tend to eat at strange hours on occasion. Saturday, dinner came around 10:30pm but was well worth the wait. I made a seitan "chicken " cutlet with a gravy and a cream of asparagus soup. I love asparagus, it is such a great spring food and has been making appearances in many of my dishes. It was cold and rainy and it was the perfect soup day.

Cream of Asparagus Soup was very smooth and subtle but flavorful, light but filling. This is another recipe that uses some cashew cream. You could substitute it but it may taste slightly less creamy without it. Cashew cream is one of the best ingredients I have stumbled upon in the last year. It is extremely versatile and add much character.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

15 med pieces of asparagus
1 medium peeled potato (cubed)2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
2 tablespoons of onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon of cashew cream
1 tablespoon of vegan margarine
1 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt

In a pot, bring the water to a boil on med-high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the cubed potato, cover and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Strain and rinse.

Cut about 5 or 6 tips off of the asparagus and set aside for garnish. In a pot, bring the margarine to med-low heat and add the onions and remaining asparagus. Allow to fry in margarine until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat.

In a blender, add the vegetable broth, cashew cream, potatoes and asparagus mixture and puree. Puree until smooth and return to the pot. Add the salt and pepper and heat until hot. This will burn easily, keep the heat low and stir often. Not not let simmer. Top with set aside asparagus tips and serve.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two long days.

Yesterday, I was making some lunch before work and thought it would be smart to make something extra to take with me. I seem to get hungry at some point during a 12 hour shift. I was going to whip up some creamy mashed potatoes to have with lunch and take to work for dinner. As I was boiling the potatoes, I realized that I did not have any soymilk. On a whim, I decided to throw together some country comforting potato salad. It was great, easy and very much like my nana used to make. Summer comfort foods are great, it was perfect.

Country Potato Salad

3 med red potatoes (cubed)
2 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of vegan mayonnaise1/2 cup of peas
1 tablespoon of onions (chopped)
2 teaspoon of paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of dill
1 teaspoon of celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt

In a pot, bring the water to a boil on med - heat. Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and allow to boil for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender but still slightly firm. If you over cook the potatoes they will turn to much when you try to assemble the salad. Once the potatoes are done, strain and chill until they are not longer even warm.
In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients other than the peas and mix well. Once The potatoes are cool, gently mix them into the vegan mayonnaise mixture until the potatoes are coated. Then gently mix in the peas until coated. Serve cold.

After a long night at work I came home to see Tato had come for the weekend and Ashley surprised me with some black and white cookies! Then I went right to sleep. A long two days at work ended nicely.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food re-cap

Another long work day today, after a 15 hour day yesterday. Yuck. I can not wait until I can start working for myself and have more control over my time. In a few hours today i got the lawn mowed and worked on destroying some of the ivy in the back yard. The garden is coming together well and I have been using a lot of the herbs in recent dishes. I have no new recipes to share today but I do have some food pictures that I have forgotten to share.

Chocolate Mint Cake with White Chocolate Chips

Kiwi Strawberry Pie Crumble with Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream
Lentils with Chicken Scallopini, Asparagus, Potato Salad, and White Eggplant with a Mushroom Cream Sauce

Going to look at some more houses tomorrow morning. Then the rest of the day is off. No plans yet but I would like to get some more yard work done. We will see!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Big days

It was an busy and good day. I got up early to rush across town to get a special key for showing houses. After paying more fees, I rushed back to my side of town with my new toy which allows me access to nearly any foreclosure home in the state. After a few quick phone calls, I was showing houses. We looked at 5 houses that were all pretty decent. I really enjoy looking at houses. I hope that I make replace my jobby job with something I enjoy really soon.

When I got home, Ashley came over and we had lunch. A few days ago she tried to make her first vegan burger. She made it with chic peas and breaded it with the breading used in my Tofu Chicken Fingers recipe. She save one for me and I ate it for lunch. It was really good and made my mind race about some spin off recipes. I can not wait!

Then we headed out to a little hike. Just for a couple of hours but it was a good time and I got my first mini hike in of the season, albeit late. There were a throng of bugs but we had a fun time regardless. I climbed into a tree and we saw some cool things including a dragonfly (my mum loves them!).
Then it was home in time to make dinner before she needed to leave. I was lacking in good proteins to use until I saw a package of tempeh in the back of the fridge. I was on it! It is a rarely used but very much appreciated protein in my house and Ashley had never tried it. In fact, not only had she never tried tempeh but, she dislikes coconut and lime but has confidence in my flavors and went along with the meal. She enjoyed it more then I did when it was finished.

Tempeh in a Lime and Coconut Sauce

12 oz of tempeh (cubed)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 green thai chili peppers (chopped)
1/2 of an onion (chopped)
1/2 of a green pepper
1 cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of lime juice
1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon of green onions (chopped)
1 teaspoon of cilantro (chopped)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of corn starch

In a saute pan, heat 1/2 of the oil on med-low heat. Saute the garlic, chili peppers, and onion until onion has a golden hue. Once the onion is done, add the coconut milk and water then mix well. Turn heat down to low and add the sugar, salt, corn starch, and lime juice and let simmer for 5 minutes.

In a frying pan, heat the remaining oil on med-high. Once the oil is hot, add the tempeh and allow to try for about 5 minutes or until the sides are beginning to brown. Add the green pepper (sliced) and stir to allow the opposite side of the tempeh to fry. Continue to flip and allow to fry until the green pepper is beginning to soften. Pour the coconut lime sauce into the tempeh, add the cilantro and stir well. Serve over coconut rice topped with some chopped green onion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It is playoff basketball

It is playoff basketball. I had some exciting food plans for my Tuesday evening however, they got canceled and on the fly I opted to spend the evening watching basketball. No matter how unbelievable it may in fact be, I do have a few male friends. My friend Maurice and I are constantly talking about basketball and I called to see if he would like to watch the game together. He was into it and we made a plan. We took the game playoff watching to the next level and decided to head downtown and watch the game live! My first playoff game! We had a lot of fun and Maurice ate some weird fried shrimp at the arena (that I thought was sketchy) and paid the price.

Crawford cutting into the lane
Hawks setting up the offence
Johnson block

Horford block

Horford Dunk
Rookie of the Year candidate showing skills

Strangely, as we pulled up to the arena, with my eagle eyes, I spotted some Christians holding signs. I have no idea why they thought that being outside of a basketball game was a solid venue for getting out their doomsday message but I took full advantage. They were slightly creepy but more then happy to take a picture with me.

I promise, more posts about food very soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Basketball weekend!

The basketball playoffs began on Saturday night. As I have sited before, I began getting back into the game during my younger brothers and sisters high school basketball careers. My bother was exceptional and my sister became the 2nd highest scorer ever in her high school. I played many sports as a kid, mainly forced by a step father who never fulfilled his athletic dreams. Once I was given the option to play or not, I quickly balked at the idea and walked away. Something about basketball has always stuck with me and allowed me to become close with my family several years ago. Now, I am deep into the professional basketball game.

I rearranged my work schedule this weekend in order to catch more games. I saw 6 of the 8 and was fairly pleased with the results (despite the Lakers winning). Televised sporting events like this always draw up ideas of greasy comfort foods. Yum!

Homemade French Fries


I am currently still looking into some fun options for my vacation that at this point has been pushed back until the middle of June. Monday will be a day willed with errands to officially get my Real Estate licensee and my MLS codes. With Tue and Wed off I hope to get a lot of great things done, play a bit of catch up after a basketball weekend.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Got my license!

Another long walk to the mail box this afternoon resulted in news. Awaiting my growing impatients was a single envelope from the Georgia Real Estate Commission. I nervously tore it apart to find the seal of new opportunity. Approval for my long awaited real estate license! A year in the making, this is a big step to some control over my time. I still have a few errands to complete and fees to pay before I get the actual license but it is all but in my hands now.


As a treat to myself, I made my first recipe with irish moss and from my friends cookbook, Living Raw Food. I did not execute everything exactly as the recipe prescribed however, it came out decent. I will do a few things to make it my own as it was not quite heave enough in flavor for me. Raw and sugar free, Papaya Mousse with Lemon Coconut Cream.

Irish Moss
Papaya Mousse with Lemon Coconut Cream

Basil balsamic dressing

After spending 15 hours at work, I hope that someone appreciates my diligence in posting. Here is that salad dressing recipe that I had mentioned.

Basil Balsamic Dressing

1 clove of garlic (chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of fresh basil (chopped)
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce

Put all ingredients into a blender and puree until garlic is fully liquefied, this should take about 1 minute with a high powered blender.

I have been using spinach almost exclusively as my main green in all salads. It is cheap, common, and very good for me. In this, I added the staples (carrots, red cabbage, onions, etc) but also added the in season asparagus, pistachios, cranberries, corn, and flax seeds. It was a really nice refreshing spring salad. A great addition to the patio dinner!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Scalloped King Oyster Mushrooms in a Garlic Cream Sauce

Another nice day off that got some solid things accomplished. I feels nice to get things done! Tato came to visit for the day, which is always exciting. Ashley met up with me later in the day and we did a little grocery shopping and made some lunch.

Jamie came over for dinner and we put decorations on the wall, finally. Over a year ago now, Jamie had the idea (in the condo) to use some of the food pictures I had taken to put up in the kitchen. I followed the same theme, now that I live along in my own house. Jamie did most of the work but Tato and I were solid spectators and good company.

I have been looking for an excuse to try some new fancy foods. Additionally, I have experimenting with the cashew cream a lot recently. Tonight was another opportunity for me to showcase my new favorite ingredient. Jamie has traditionally not been a mushroom fan. That is putting it mildly. This dish was a risk but I think she really enjoyed it.

Scalloped King Oyster Mushrooms in a Garlic Cream Sauce

The Mushrooms

2 large king oyster mushrooms (no tops)
1 tablespoon of margarine
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
In a non-stick saute pan, heat the margarine to med-high heat. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2 inch thick slices. Sprinkle half of your salt and pepper on the oil and gently place each mushroom piece on the hot oil. Let heat for 5 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown. Flip, sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper and let fry until the opposite side is also brown. Remove from oil, place on top of evenly spread sauce and serve hot.

The Sauce
2 tops of the oyster mushrooms (chopped)
2 baby bella mushrooms (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)1/2 cup of unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons of cashew cream
1 1/2 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon of margarine
1 tablespoon of vegan sour cream
1 teaspoon of jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1 teaspoon of onion (chopped)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

In a saute pan, heat the margarine on low heat until melted. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno and allow to cook until the onions are translucent. Add the cashew cream, sour cream, and 1/2 of the soy milk and stir until even. Add the mushrooms and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken. Add the remaining spices, and soy milk and stir again. This will loosen the sauce. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes and serve.

Jamie and I had some garlic fried asparagus and salad. The salad actually came out very good and I will post the recipe for the dressing soon!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loose meat and a new mixer

Sometimes my life seems like bizarre-o world. I work close to 5 shifts between Friday and Sunday and then still have another work day ahead in Monday. I then unconventionally, have two week days off. I enjoy my days off and opt to work long hours to attian more free days so I am not really complaining. Sometimes it just feels strange to dread the weekends as my friends are looking forward to them.

On my first of two days off this week I got some random house work done. Then, Ashley and I made a late lunch. She is very much an "eat the same thing each time" kinda gal which does not bode well for blogging new recipes to the faithful. However she can generally be swayed to venture out with the promise of chicpea chicken salad this summer.

For lunch she and I made, salad with a hodge-podge type dressing. I just kept throwing thing in until I decided it tasted good. I honestly have no idea what I put in it, I know there was fresh basil from my garden, dijon mustard, vegan mayo, red wine vinegar, I was all over the map. We coupled it with a household staple, rosemary fries. and i tore up some very simple sloppy joes!

Sloppy Joes
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
8 oz of tomato sauce1 cup of vegetable broth
2 cups of TVP
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tablespoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of vegan sour cream
1 teaspoon of jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1 teaspoon of salt1 teaspoon of fresh basil
1/5 teaspoon of sugar (very little)

In a pot, bring the broth to a simmer and add the TVP, remove from the heat stir vigorously and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes. TVP should be tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, heat the oil on med-low heat in a saute pan. Once the oil it hot, add the garlic, jalapeno pepper, and onion. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato sauce and bring almost to a simmer. Add the very tiniest bit of sugar to cut some of the acid out of the tomato sauce. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Once the tomato mixture is warm, add the TVP and stir gently.

This comes out fairly thick but that is the way I like my sloppy joes. More joe than slop I suppose. They were a tasty summer lunch. Honestly, they kind of reminded me of the loose meat sandwiches on the 90s TV show Roseanne.

On my Saturday adventures with Jamie I picked up a mixer. I got my opportunity to use to today while making a cake. It was great!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Work Smarter, Not Harder.

I have been a bad blogger recently. The last couple of weeks have been a mess of stress and more activites than time when all i really want is some time to do nothing. I guess the hectic-ness will pay off in some fashion at some time, in some quasi-karmic way.

Earlier this week I finally got a lawn mower. I no longer have an excuse to be the blight of the neighborhood.

Growing up working class, we did not have a lot of money to throw around and I worked at the age of 11 so I did not need much more than what I earned. However, my mothers husband, thought it would be character building to pay me a stifling wage to mow the lawn each Friday after I got home from school. It was. The agreement between him and I was that I would earn $15 per week paid promptly after the lawn was complete. The agreement would carry over into the winter month but translate to shoveling the snow from the driveway.

I quickly agreed and made another agreement of my own. I called my good friend Justin and told him I could pay him $10 a week to mow my lawn but it would need to be done every Friday, directly after school and I would pay him on Saturday. He agreed and I pocketed $5 each week for being a good organizer. This type of entrepreneurship was not lost of my mother who had seen it before. Work smarter, not harder.

Now I have my own lawn and Justin is long gone. I needed to learn. I did all the right things, got my gas can, filled up my mower, pulled the cord the token two time before it responded. It was all within my grasp. Then I began to mow the lawn that had not been mowed in years. Less than 1 hour later I was done and proud. Check it off the list. In fact, it was mildly relaxing although I may retract that statement after a few more mows.
On a side note, while playing in the garden, I spotted my beets! They are popping their little heads out of the Georgia red clay and organic fertilizer. It will be a nice treat to have them pull through in ground that many never have had foods planted in it.

Yesterday was a fantastic day off, filled with errands and thrifting with Jamie. I got a few treasure as always but the highlight of the day was our sandwiches. I made them with some vegan mayo, spinach and my new deli slices. I have let a few folks try them and they all love them.
Time to make something for dinner. After a long day at work and a lawn conquering, it may, sadly, be a veggie burger night.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Deli Slices!

Inspired by the rising prices on quick (lazy) foods at my local grocery store and Vegan Dad, I made my own version of excellent deli slices. They taste almost like a tofu turkey loaf that you might have around the holidays. This turned out to be a fun adventure in the kitchen and should provide me some great work lunches.

I have been thrifting for picture frames and other such decorations recently. I have discovered a few treasures and have begun painting them. The pictures frames are being stubborn but the mirrors came out nicely.

I took some time off from work at the end of May. I really need some time off. I am not sure what I will do with it, if anything. I have thought about a solo vacation, a trip to Maine, or even just getting some things done around the house for a week. So many options...