Sunday, May 30, 2010

Myrna's Graduation

I worked 38 hours in 3 days. I finally have a day off but I am fairly beat and do not have much motivation. I had a few hours off during the day on Saturday and went to pay a visit to my good friend Myrna. She had her high school graduation on the 28th. Several years ago, Myrna was hired at my job. She worked her way up and at the age of 19 is one of the most responsible managers I have worked with. She is one of the sweetest people I know and I felt honored to be invited to such a big day. Now I just have to get her out to make some food!

Congratulations Myrna!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mango Smoothie

Many people make their own smoothies and they are quite quick. This smoothie was exceptionally tasty and easy to make with basic ingredients. As I have mentioned before, there are many people who have begun following this blog that are not your typical foodies, so I thought I would share such a simple recipe. There is also some research to suggest that consistent intake of mango can relieve PMS cramps.

Mango Smoothie

1 mango
1 banana
2 cups of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of vanilla powder

In a blender, puree the peeled and cored mango with the banana, pineapple juice and vanilla powder until smooth. This smoothie tends to be a little thick, if you want it thinner, simply add more pineapple juice.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Roasted Beets and Sweet Potato

I pay the price for my three days a week off. I just walked in the door after a 16.5 hour day. I do not get another day off until Sunday. It all works out in the end I guess, a little overtime never hurts either.

I wanted to give out a simple recipe for that Ashley and I had as part of dinner last night. Although it was more of a fall dish, sometime you just want to have your roasted veggies! This really hit the spot and was surprisingly light.

Roasted Beets and Sweet Potato

2 med sized beets (peeled & cubed)
1 large sweet potato (peeled & cubed)
2 cups of broccoli florets
2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 tablespoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 425. In a baking pan, pour the oil, salt, crushed pepper, hot sauce, paprika, sugar, and oregano and mix well. Add the cubed beets, and mix well. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow the beets to bleed out a bit. Then add the cubed sweet potatoes and mix until all cubes are coated in the oil and spices. Allow to bake for 40 minutes stirring once. Then remove from the oven and add the broccoli florets and bake for another 18 minutes.

Did I mention that Ashley made me some great Chocolate Chip Cookies? Anyone who attended Jamie's Art Show may recall some outstanding cookies. Well, Ashley made them. She is like my little Keebler elf, she always brings me cookies!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seitan Alfredo Pasta

Capping off two great days, was a great afternoon and evening with Ashley. I got up early and mowed the lawn, something I have really enjoyed. Then I found some old pictures in a box that were very nostalgic. Shortly after, Ashley came over. We went discussed what we were going to do with the afternoon, I suggested a seitan alfredo pasta dinner and it was off to the races.

Seitan Alfredo Pasta

the alfredo sauce

1 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
1 cup of soy milk
3/4 cup of raw cashews (soaked overnight)
2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of hot sauce
1 teaspoon of yellow mustard

In a blender, combine the cashews, soy milk, nutritional yeast, and crushed red pepper and puree for about 4-5 minutes until all cashew pieces are liquefied. Once the cashews are smooth, add the remaining ingredients and puree again. The sauce should be a dark yellow color.

the seitan

10 oz of seitan (chopped)
2 tablespoons of vegan margarine
2 tablespoons of green peas
2 tablespoons of chic peas
1 tablespoon of onion (chopped)

In a saute pan, heat the margarine on low heat. Once the margarine has melted, add the seitan and let fry for 10 minutes flipping occasionally. This will allow the sides to brown a bit. Once the seitan has begun to brown, add the chic peas and onions and allow to fry until the onions are translucent. Then add the green peas and the alfredo sauce and turn heat on low and let heat for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken. Pour it over the fretichini and serve hot.

We also made some amazing roasted veggies and a nice smoothie. I will post the recipes for those soon.

I still have a vacation coming up in a few weeks and nothing to do. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The beauty has been tainted

Sweetwater Creek has been a hot spot in my life recently. My new found hiking friend Rebecca and I have been there numerous times in the last month. It is a park that I have really enjoyed for a long time. In fact, it was the first hike I had taken in Georgia.

Despite the beauty of this park there exists a long ugly history/herstory that taints this place. It is not the typical escape that a hike might bring. The travesties that occurred there are difficult to ignore.

In the early 1800's this area was occupied by the Cherokee Indians. After legal feuds with the Georgia and United States Government the land was slowly taken away from the indigenous peoples. In 1838, the year that the federal government began to force the Cherokee's out, began the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is one of the most horrific acts in American history/herstory and it has solid roots here, in this park.

Years later, during the early 1860's the Confederate soldiers used a mill that had been constructed as a prison for slaves. As the Northerners marched into Georgia, they split into two factions. They surrounded the mill, still filled with slaves and a few Confederate soldiers, and set the building aflame. The structure still stands and the memories of true American history/herstory is left along the river bank.

As a Northerner, I grew up with a specific idea about the civil war. Our history/herstory books teach that the Northerners simply were opposed to slavery and thus, the civil war was waged. By middle school I recognized that this was untrue but many of my class-mates were still caught in the myth. It is places like these that display the true stories of the American way of life. The beauty has been tainted.

I promise, more food soon.

The anticipation...

Starting right now, I have the next two days off. My plans have been a revolving door as things get organized, moved and then reworked. To my surprise, I have stayed flexable and it looks like I will get a hike in on Tuesday and a nice dinner (and maybe some cookies) on Wednesday. I will also try to squeeze in mowing the lawn.

Good news, I think I have a great prospect for another house buyer! I am very excited to get back to showing houses. The idea that I might be able to work for myself is extremely appealing.

I am hoping for a great two days off, before what is shaping up to be a busy weekend at the jobby job.

My lunch today was a burrito, nothing special but I thought I would share. I was actually looking forward to it until I split my avocado open to find it rotten. Disappointment. Instead I went with some black beans, TVP, orange peppers, garlic, onions, vegan sour cream and a touch of bar b que sauce. It hit the spot as a pre-work 1-player food but was not nearly as enjoyable without the guacamole. I do really like the plate though!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not much to report

Not much to report. I got up and drove to work in the dark today. It was so early. Sadly I worked right through the vegan potluck. I have been tired all afternoon. I made a great blueberry, banana, and vanilla smoothie to accompany my dinner of veggie burgers and rosemary fries. Nothing special.

Yesterday, I had some left over strawberry smoothie and used my awesome pop maker that Jamie got me to turn them into strawberry pops! They were pretty yummy and I really have fun with my pop maker. I just need to remember to take and share my pop pictures.

Go Los Suns

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Smoothie and stir fry

Another Saturday off resulted in a relaxing day. It was a day of resting and recuperating from two long work days and in preparation for another two. Ashley and I went for a ride before she had to go to work. We stopped at an estate sale and I grabbed up a pair of cool salt and pepper shakers.

For dinner I made some stir-fry. I also made a little smoothie to go with the big game tonight, check out my new glass!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A few more pictures

Apparently, I neglected to post a few pictures from the Tuesday night dinner party. I whipped up some cashew cream with fiddleheads early in the day and kind of forgot that I had it. It meant that we just used it to dip some raw carrots in, which was fine but far less dramatic then I had originally imagined. Jamie was slightly afraid of the fiddleheads.

I have struggled with pies for a long time. In fact, I struggle as baker regularly. Recently, at Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe, Laura of Abracapocus fame, and I conversed about my inability to follow directions and its connection to baking. In an attempt to think outside of the box, I made a deconstructed strawberry rhubarb pie. I used my nana 's pie recipe to make a flat crust. Then I made a thick "jam" with the strawberries and rhubarb and spooned it out over the top. It came out really well and I was happy with it. Not quite as good as an actual pie but sometimes you have to know your limits.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stuffed Avocado

Today I woke up to find an email letting me know that my first housing contract was accepted! I am in the next phase of helping my client buy their first home. It is a great feeling. I am very excited to help people buy and sell their homes. It is an exciting process and I want to be a part of people making great choices. I feel good.

Then Ashley and I spent the day together, including buying me a cake to celebrate the contract. We did not do much exciting but it was nice to have the day. Shoe shopping, errands, lunch at Harmony, cake from Southern Sweets, good times.

Back to work tomorrow but to be honest, working since I have gotten my license has not been as grueling as it was before. There is something liberating about the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you to everyone who comment on the dinner party from last night. I wanted to share the stuffed avocado recipe. It was actually very easy and resulted in a nice summer dish. Rich and creamy, just the way I like it. ~ I will be impressed if anyone knows what move that is from.

Stuffed Avocado

1 shallot
2 ripe avocados
2 cloves of garlic
5 tops of shiitake mushroom
1 cup of cooked rice
1/3 cup of carrots
1/4 cup of broccoli florets
2 tablespoons of red cabbage
2 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon of cilantro
1 teaspoon of jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon of black pepper

In a food processor, shred the carrots, red cabbage, broccoli, garlic, mushrooms, shallot, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper. In a saute pan, heat the oil in low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the rice and allow to fry for several minutes before adding the shredded vegetables. Stir frequently while the frying continues for about 10 minutes.

While the stuffing is frying, slice the avocados lengthwise and remove the pit. Once the stuffing has a nice golden color, remove from the heat and let cool. It does not need to be cold but it should no longer be hot. When the stuffing has cooled at bit, take a spoon and gently begin to stuff the avocado halves.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dinner party number two!

Tonight was my second dinner party. It was a lot of fun. My friend Amethyst and her boyfriend, Daniel came over. The food was good and the conversation was intriguing as well. Sometimes it is good to spend time with people that you do not share as many core beliefs with. It is good for my sense of reality.

I also invited Jamie! It was really nice to see Jamie with a smile and a good plate of food, she is so amazing. It has been too long. We have both been involved with our own things and have been mildly neglectful of our relationship. I am determined to make myself more available to the people that matter the most and she is at the top of the list.

As for the food, I started early while waiting for the delivery of my new washer and dryer. I then spent the day cooking and doing the laundry.

The menu: Pineapple Sesame Seitan, Beet Chips (Amethyst's request), Stuffed Avacado, and fiddlehead cashew cream dip with raw carrots For dessert, Deconstructed Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

I will be posting a few of the other recipes from dinner in upcoming posts, today I will share the seitan. I enjoy feeding seitan to meat eaters. There is always a skepticism and weariness.

Pineapple Sesame Seitan

The marinade

2 pounds of seitan
2 cups of pineapple juice
2/3 cup of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable broth powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of sesame oil

Combine juice, oil, sugar, soy sauce, and vegetable broth powder in a saute pan and heat on med-low until it simmers. Just as it simmers, pour the liquid into a baking dish and marinate the seitan for 2 hours.

The roast

Take the entire marinating pan (if bake-safe) and place in the oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour (or until all liquid has roasted off). You will need to occasionally (every 15-20 mins) baste the roast to avoid drying out.

The fry

1 cup of pineapple juice
1 cup of pineapple (cubed)
1/2 cup of bell pepper (sliced)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of corn starch

In a frying pan, add the vegetable oil and bring to med heat. While the oil is heating, slice the roasted seitan in length-wise strips. Gently place the seitan strips into the hot oil and allow to fry for 5 minutes. The flat edges should begin to brown. Once they are browning, flip and add the peppers and pineapple. The pineapple will get a nice scorch and you can add the remaining ingredients, adding the corn starch last. Stir in and let fry for about 8 minutes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sad day.

Today was a very sad day. I was making my rosemary fries in the mushroom glassware pan. In a moment of poor decision making, I took the hot pan and poured cold water into it. It broke. Jamie called it a thermal break. It was very sad and I cried. I am well aware of how crazy this sounds. Jamie got my this pan for my 29th birthday. It was my first glass bakeware. Jamie was comforting and said we can try to find another one. Until then, I guess this is the pans memorial.

Only people closest to me will understand, I get sentimental about things sometimes. This pan was one of them. It was the first step in a direction of more aesthetic cooking by someone that is very important to me. It held a lot of value in my life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day like these

A few days have past since my last post, several of them significant.

Thursday was a double at the jobby-job. Nothing major, just a long day at work. Friday however, was exciting and slightly nerve racking. When I awoke, I had received and e-mail from a real estate agent friend of mine letting my know that a house my client wanted was back available. I immediately called my client and informed him. Not three hours later we were submitting my first contract. We will find out Wednesday if the contract was accepted. My fingers are crossed!

Saturday was a day that Ashley and I had set aside to do some fun things. The day started with a lunch a Green Sprout. For years, Green Sprout has been one of my favorite places. It was a great lunch and it is nice that Ashley really enjoys the spot as well. Next it was off to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Ashley told me she had never been so it was a must see. They have done a lot of renovations since the last time I was there, it was great to see.

After, we went to see a movie and headed to dinner at Bhojanic. It was our first time eating there and we were pleasantly surprised despite my cynicism towards fusion restaurants.

Today, Rebecca and I took a walk around Piedmont Park and then of course, the Celtics one.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two days off

I had a great pair of days off. Yesterday was a day of much needed yardwork, which I am learning to really enjoy. The day was topped off with a major purchase, a washer and dryer! The will be delivered early next week. Not to mention, Boston took the lead in the last conference semi-final series!

Today, I got up early and went hiking with Rebecca. It was another great walk and I felt great when it was done. It feels so good to get the sun and exercise, not to mention the good conversation.

Next came dinner with Ashley. I had some tofu and still a ton of fiddleheads so I went to town. It came out really well and the fact that Ashley had never even heard of fiddleheads made it a fun time. I also made some peanut butter balls for my bedtime snack and to potentially share with the work folks tomorrow.

Tofu and Fiddleheads in Asian Garlic Sauce

1 pound of fiddleheads
6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
12 oz of firm tofu (sliced)
1 cup of vegetable broth
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of garlic chili oil
1/2 teaspoon of corn starch
1/2 teaspoon of sugar

In a sauce pan, heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil on low-med heat. As the oil is heating, add the garlic and allow to fry until garlic is golden. Add the soy sauce, broth, and chili oil and bring back to temperature. Once there is a near simmer, sauce into a blender and puree until garlic is not noticeable. Return to the sauce pan, bring back to temperature and add the sugar and corn starch. Bring to simmer for 2-4 minutes.

Steam fiddleheads for 8-10 minutes or until bright green. The steaming liquid can be used as the vegetable broth for the sauce.

Bring a non-stick pan to med heat and add the tofu. Allow the tofu to cook until browning and flip and repeat. This will release much of the liquid in the tofu and give it is a nice texture. Once the tofu is browning, add the steamed fiddleheads and garlic sauce and mix well. The sauce will disappear quickly as it absorbs into the tofu. Allow to cook for 5 minutes and serve.

Next week will hopefully entail some exciting house showing, more hiking, more cooking, and a few loads of laundry.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First half on my two days off

Half way through my day off I have gotten a decent amount of things accomplished. I played around with my leaf blower and cleaned the yard. As a treat, I made myself some pizza. I even tossed some nice cilantro from the garden and some fresh Maine fiddleheads to compliment the Dayia cheese.

As I was assembling the pizza I though that it was odd that I had never seen a fiddlehead pizza growing up in Maine. I grew up in Augusta Maine, which is the capital but only about 35000 people. The culinary experience in my small town was limited to about a dozen pizza and sandwich shops with a few dinners in between. Surrounded by pizza places and fiddleheads, I wonder why no one combined the two into a gourmet Maine festive pizza.

On the agenda for later today is some more housework, some fun cooking for dinner and hopefully a Boston victory in Cleveland.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ode to my Grammy on Mother's Day

It may be Mother's Day but I wanted to talk about my Grammy. As a young kid, she used to take me to Salem Mass to do all the tourist witch trial stuff. I always had a wonderful time and it was something later in life I took my siblings too. On the 3 hour ride down to Salem, my Grammy would tell my the stories of Hamlet and MacBeth. I remember enjoying the stories so much that she would occasionally take me to the Monmoth Playhouse to see the plays.

My Grammy and I, later in life, did not speak much. Both of our priories changed however, on this Monther's Day, I wanted to remember the good things. One of those it a classic Maine dish, the only dish I ever remember my Grammy making, fiddleheads.

Fiddleheads are a local fern that grows wild on the riverbanks of Maine. While at the store the other day, I noticed that they were selling them down here in Atlanta for 4.99 for what looked like about 8-10 fiddleheads. Quickly, I called my brother, who works at a local fish and produce shop on the riverbank in Hallowell Maine. He said he can get fiddleheads fresh and cleaned for 4.99 a pound. We looked into shipping some to me here for me to share and 4 pounds were in route, freshly picked that morning.

Grammy, as much as I disliked these as a young boy, these are for you, the way you used to make them. Weekends I spent with you taking road trips, playing Yahtzee and cribbage, and telling me about Shakespeare made for great memories. This is how I try to remember my Grammy. Happy Mother's Day Grammy.

Fiddleheads in Lemon Juice

2 cups of fiddleheads
1 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
2/3 teaspoon of salt
2/3 teaspoon of ground pepper
2/3 teaspoon of garlic powder

In a steamer, cook the fiddleheads (make sure they are cleaned and any oxidation has been cut off) for 10-12 minutes. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Once the fiddleheads are a nice dark green and tender, but not slimy, remove from heat. Toss the fiddleheads in the lemon sauce and serve.

This is a traditional later spring Maine dish. I have more then enough fiddleheads to make some great dishes so stay tuned. When I asked my mum about fiddleheads, she said "I don't eat ferns!" Happy Mother's Day Mum!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Broccoli and cheese soup

Another day of hiking. This time Rebecca and I tried to get through some trails at Kennesaw Mountain. We did fairly well and I would like to try it again soon. We cut it a little short but it is a good workout heading up the mountain and some beautiful flowers!

Then it was home in time to make some game food and settle in with Tato to take it all in. I have been on a "cheese" kick recently and had some broccoli that I needed to use. Broccoli and Cheese Soup!

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

2 1/2 cups of water
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups of broccoli florets
1 cup of raw whole cashews
3/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of mustard

Overnight (or for at least 6 hours) soak the cashews in the water in the fridge.
Strain and rinse the cashews and set aside. In a blender, combine the mustard, turmeric, black pepper, salt, crushed red pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, cashews, and 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and puree for several minutes. The results show be smooth and flavorful but thick.

In a pot on low heat, pour the blender contents and the remaining vegetable broth and stir well. Allow to heat on low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli (cut into small pieces) to the soup and stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Do not let the soup simmer. Only use low heat. If the soup gets to thick, add more vegetable broth. Serve hot.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My garden flooded

My garden flooded. It was a sad thing and I may have lost most or all of my beets. It looks like most of the other things will survive. I have always struggled with cilantro and they have thus far been my best product! The peppers are coming along well too.

As I have been saying for a few days now, the playoffs are making me food lazy. I have been doing some prep work and eating quicker meals. That is not to say I have not been eating well though!

Seitan Steaks in a sour cream sauce with Rosemary Fries

Pizza with Dayia cheese

Still no concrete plans but my vacation is coming up soon! I am also working hard at getting a decent client base together and selling some houses. If you are in Georgia and need a real estate agent, let me know! Worth a try.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tato, mozzarella sticks, and falafel

Two days off resulted in some high stress. For no real reason, mainly just concerned that I will not be able to pull off the real estate career. Despite my best efforts. I am sure it will all come together but I just get a little anxious sometimes.

Some of the highlights of the two days off is that Tato was here. In fact, he seems to have found himself a new place to sleep. He is an interesting character.

I have been glued to the playoff games. I even got a special TV station so that I can catch all the games and news I miss while at work. It has been a lot of fun but has hindered my time and motivation for cooking. So I stole some! A shirt time ago, I saw a recipe for vegan mozzarella sticks over at Hell Yeah Its Vegan! I have been following this blog for awhile and this was great and was the perfect playoff food.

At the vegan bake sale in Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe I grabbed some Teese and tried them out. They came out great and were fairly easy to make. A great recipe!

I also made some falafel. Now, I have eaten falafel all over the county and strangely the best falafel I have ever had was in Tulsa Oklahoma. Today was the first time I had made it. Same with the tahini dressing, and they all some out awesome.


the patties

1 can of chicpeas
2 tablespoons of chicpea flour
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley (chopped)
2 teaspoons of fresh cilantro (chopped)
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds

Strain and rinse the chicpeas. In a large bowl, using a fork, mash the chicpeas. Once there are no large pieces remaining, add the remaining ingredients and mash until well blended together. Chill for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, complete the dressing portions and the prep portion of the sandwich of the falafel. Once chilled, heat frying oil (based on you pot size) to 375 degrees. You can also use the "water test" to make sure the oil is hot.

While the oil is heating, form chicpea mixture into 6 patties about twice the size of a quarter. Once the oil is hot, carefully begin to deep fry the patties. This should take about 3-5 minutes for each batch of patties.

Remove from oil and set on a paper towel to soak up some of the excess oil.

the dressing

2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of vegan unsweetened and unflavored yogurt
1/3 cup of cucumber (peeled)
2 tablespoons of tahini sauce
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of fresh parsley
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Chill.

the sandwich

2 pita breads
2 handfulls of greens
4 large slices of pickle
6 slices of cucumber
1 cup of cucumber (cubed)
3/4 cup of tomatoes (cubed)

With a sharp knife, slice the tops of the pita breads open so that you can assemble the sandwich. Gently stuff the pitas with the greens. Then add the cubed cucumber and tomatoes. Then take the chicpea patties and set 3 of them in the pita. Place the pickles and cucumber beside the patties and spoon the dressing over the top.