Saturday, December 31, 2011

Presently Presenting Presents

I took a short hiatus, unintentionally.  It was actually a combination of things, of course I have been working many hours, I have another large project I have been working diligently on that I will mention at another time, as well as not feeling wonderful.  I am not full on sick but sort of teetering on the edge.

I have however, received some amazing things that I wanted to share.

First I received a package from my "unofficial" grandmother, Priscilla.  We send a nice,we I am not actually sure what they are called.  They are the items you set hot pans on to not damage your counter.  She also sent a new gardening book.  She was the one who really developed my interest in gardening and I always enjoy hearing her thought.  Her book advice on gardening goes a long way as well.

Much of my ideas about food and earth were not developed by some internet propaganda but has been passed down from my grandparents, this was their greatest gift.

I also got a package a few days later from my mum. She sent a fun card and a check.  She knows me well and wrote in the check that she wants me to do something fun with the money and enjoy it.  It was not to pay a bill or save.  I appreciate that and will do so.  I have a few ideas and was something I needed as I am often too quick to tuck my money away.

Lastly, Ashley came over with a couple of gifts.  First, was a book of mushroom identification.  When she and I hike, I often mention that I wish I knew more about what mushrooms were safe to eat.  It would be great fun to pick a wild mushroom from the woods and eat it for dinner over a campfire, now I can!  She also has been trying her hand at wood carving.  I was the receiver of the first product of that honing skill.  She carved me a mushroom!  It was an amazing gift.

It means a lot to me that I have people like these in my life.  It was a good pick me up from the long days of the holiday work season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Zucchini Oat Muffins

I have been in need of a haircut for a few weeks now.  Ashley is generally my at home barber.  She agreed to stop by the other day and cut my hair in exchange for some of my zucchini bread.  I ran out of time and had to think quickly.  I came up with a great muffin recipe that worked perfectly.

Zucchini Oat Muffins

3 cups of flour
2 cups of zucchini
3/4 cup of oats
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Grate the zucchini.  Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, both sugars, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt until well mixed.  Add the zucchini, vanilla, oil, and water.  Mix gently but well.  This should be fairly wet by now.

Fill a muffin pan with 1/2 of the mixture and bake for 30 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan for an additional 5 minutes.  Set on cooling rack and set up for about another 45 minutes.  This recipe should make about 24 muffins.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Not sure if this is even an update...

There has not been much going on.  Some behind the scenes stuff but nothing significant to talk about.  I am gearing up for another long couple of weeks at the jobby job over the holiday weekend.  It will be brutal but I will make it through.

I have made a few dishes recently.  Nothing new though.  I made some great french fries.  Fries may be one of my favorite things to eat.  Now that the basketball season is back on track, there should be more nights on the couch with a big plate of fries.  That is something to look forward too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Unseasonal Meal of Amazing Celebration!

Ashley came over for a visit this afternoon.  It was nice to see her.  She has been busy getting all A's in her classes at school.  She did a great job this semester.  I can not imagine trying to work, raise a child, and go through a demanding school program all at the same time.  I am super proud of her.

To celebrate, we did what any Atlanta vegan does, cake from Southern Sweets!  She picked a chocolate cake.  A classic and favorite.  Before we devoured the dessert, we had to eat some lunch.

We stopped at the farmers market to get some avocado and mango.  Completely out of season and it tasted like it was.  We made do, and created some great burritos.  Ashley and I ate burritos all the time over the summer but neither of us had eaten them recently.  There are few things like a good burrito!

Congratulations Ashley, you are an inspiration!  Keep going, you will get there soon!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dinner at my place...

Friday night I had company.  Adrienne (from Crack the Plates) and Nate came over for dinner.  Since I hosted, I choose the food.  I made Channa Masala and Mulligatawny Soup.  They are some of my favorites and are fun to make.

Since I consistently botch up desert to a point of shame, Adrienne was not going to give me the chance.  She made some amazing cookies!  We gobbled them up and I was even left 4 of them for my bedtime snacks.

We had a fun night talking about music, nihilism, art, and our growing up years.  It is always a fun time with those crazy kids.  Next time, Nate has said he will cook for Adrianne and I.  Even if I have to wait all day to eat, I am looking forward to it.

I rarely have friends over but when I do, I feel more in touch with people.  Sometimes living alone and being a misanthrope is a bad combination.  It is nice to mix it up.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An afternoon out with a four year old

Ashley has been sick and studying for finals.  Not a great combination when you are also trying to raise your child.  She has been gutting it out for a week or so now.  I thought that I might be able to help if I snatched her daughter up from school and took her for the evening.

I picked her up at school and we went to the movies.  It was a fun time and the movie was actually pretty decent.  I am generally harsh on movies.  Then we went to the heath food store and shopped for a bit.  We found some cool red pears and some great mini-cupcake!

Next it was off to the sushi bar!  As I walked in with a four year old in tow, quite a few heads turned.  I boosted her into the seat at the bar so she could watch them make her first sushi roll.  She was pretty nervous about the whole experience but once she loosened up, she had a lot of fun.  She even tried to use the chopsticks!

The owner was so enthralled with her being there that he made her a special treat for dessert.  He chopped and orange and added some strawberry syrup, it was actually pretty good.  Then it was homeward bound for her, and myself shortly after.

It was a great afternoon and Ashley got a lot of work done.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Real Estate and Beans

I finally got a couple of days off after a grueling week.  Interestingly, I spent it mainly doing Real Estate business, playing catch up.  I did not cook much nor do anything blog-worthy.  Unless the blog world wants to hear about me riding around town looking at (mostly) vacant houses and the story of why one is now called the "naked guy house".  Seems like poor blogging though and certainly not food related.

I did soak some black beans overnight.  I made a variation of my Smokey Black Beans and Kale recipe.  It really hit the spot.  It felt good to have a nice home cooked meal.  With all the time spent at the jobby job, I have been eating mostly quick one player foods.

Throughout my life, I have been called Even Steven often.  These last few weeks has been full of stress and disappointment.  I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks when it all wheels back around.

Feet, you better brace yourselves, we are going to need a smooth landing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Long long days...

It has been a crazy week and a half.  With its ups and downs, it looks to end on a low note.  Sometimes things just do not go your way.  Frustration.  One of the few highlights of the week was that a friend of mine brought my some nice vegan cake.  I do always enjoy a treat!

That made two great bedtime snacks!  They are made by a local natural foods store.  There are only a few things that make me feel better after a long crummy day.  A large slice of cake in bed is one of them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Eye of the storm

It has been a crazy work week.  While everyone is busy with their families, I have been racking up the hours at the jobby job as well as working on the Real Estate business.  I love logged about 55 hours in 5 days, busy days, this week.  It has been rough but this is the middle point.  I still have some long hours heading into the weekend.  I should be back on track around the first of the week.  This is the eye of the storm.

Needless to say, long work days leads to very little kitchen time.  I did have a few stored up pictures from recent dishes that I thought I would share.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A holiday to remember?

For me, the holiday season is a mess.  I have no family close by so I offer to work the holidays at the jobby job so other can have them off (and I get my time and a half).  This week I will be logging well over 55 hours (busy hours) as well as doing the needed Real Estate stuff.

This leaves very little time to cook, or do much of anything for that matter.  The other side of that situation is that this is the time I need the best food.  I need to keep my body going, lots of sleep and healthy food.  Not blogging at midnight and eating popcorn.

Much of the next week food items look much like this cashew and kale stir fry.  Not sure if I will have much time to write this week nor will I have much to say.  Have fun over the holiday and make sure you are extra nice to people who spend it at work.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Smokey Black Beans and Kale

I have been on a bean soaking kick recently.  For convince, I have used pre-cooked beans for most of my life.  I started the "from scratch" only recently but have quite a handle on it so far.  I am shocked at how easy it is.  As a younger dude, I tried to make some chicpeas from dry beans and ruined one of my mum's good pots by bot using enough water.  Going to hang out with my friends while they were boiling on high did not seem to help either.  Sorry mum.

Here we have no burned pots, just delicious black beans and kale.  It was fairly low fat too, for what that is worth out there in the blog world.

Smokey Black Beans and Kale

8 cloves of garlic (chopped)
4 bay leaves
2 tomatoes (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 bushel of kale (torn from the stem)
1/2 green pepper (chopped)
1/2 red pepper (chopped)
5 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups of black beans (soaked)

1/3 cup of cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of jalapeno pepper (chopped)
1 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoon of liquid smoke
1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of dried chipotle pepper

If you are using pre-cooked black beans, reduce the water to 1 cup.

In a large pot, bring the vegetable broth to a simmer and add the pre-soaked black beans.  If you are using pre-cooked black beans, add the beans and vegetable broth at the same time.  Add the liquid smoke, bay leaves, dried chipotle pepper, and cumin.

If you are using pre-soaked beans, this should simmer for about 1 hour and 45 minutes before moving to the next step.  Pre-cooked beans can ignore this.

In a saute pan, add the oil, onion, garlic, black peppercorns, jalapeno pepper, red pepper, green pepper, and tomatoes.  Cook on low heat until the tomatoes begin to break down (about 20 minutes).

After the beans have been simmering for about 15 minutes, add the kale, cover and reduce heat to low.  When the kale has reduced, add the ingredients from the saute pan and salt.  Mix well and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  The longer this simmers, the more the flavors meld.

About 5 minute prior to serving, remove the bay leaves and add the cilantro.  This dish is best served with brown rice.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I was sick but now I am better.

It was a week or two ago that I had to use a sick day for my jobby job.  I am feeling better now, so no worries.  However, I did find some pictures that reminded me of a nice treat.

Home sick on a Sunday evening, Ashley and her daughter come over to make me some dinner.  We had some veggie dogs, broccoli and  Ashley tried her hand at some fried mushrooms.  She took some portobello mushrooms and soaked them in bbq sauce, breaded them and fried them up.  Honestly, I am not exactly sure what she did to them but they were delicious!  I will have to ask her what she did so that I can replicate it.

It was really nice of them to come make me some nice dinner when I was not feeling well.  It felt good to have some folks come take care of me when I was in need.  Some people are real nice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Mum!

Today is my mum's birthday.  Happy Birthday Mum!  It is times like this that I feel guilty that I am 1200 miles away from my nearest family.  I would loveto be able to see and spend time with my mum on her birthday.  I suppose that it the price I pay for being in Atlanta when all the family is in New England.

Monday, November 14, 2011

500 posts and 4 years later...

This is my 500th post on my blog.  Not only that but it is right around the 4 year marker for writing here.  It was interesting how I got started; at the time, I was taking some college classes, one of which was an English writing class.  My professor said that I should look into getting a degree is English as she really enjoyed my writing.  She said I have a "unique voice is writing", my step brother (also an English teacher) has said the same thing and I am not quite sure I even know what it means.

My professor said she would really like to see me write more.  I wrote a few things for the school paper but nothing significant.  One day, after class, she showed me her blog.  It was the first time I ever read a blog.  I was living with Jamie at the time and she had just started a blog to sell some of her artwork.  From there, I made my first post.

I remember posting it and feeling like I would not be likely to ever post again.  I felt like it would be unlikely that anyone would read it and that there was not much of a point.  Even now, I am not sure what kept me posting but I did.

Writing has kept me focused over the years.  I think it has certainly helped me eat better and motivated me to cook more often.  It has occasionally felt like a chore but overall has been a real joy.  Happy 500th post to me and my blog!  No signs of stopping!

In honor of my milestone achievement, I made myself a layered strawberry cake!  Another testament to my struggling to improve baking skills.  It was a great bedtime snack though!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Raspberry Muffins and my Nana

After breakfast for dinner, I had some raspberries left over.  Raspberries are one of my favorite foods.  I love to cook with them as well, they are so rarely used.  This time I used my basic raspberry muffin recipe and churned out a dozen amazing muffins.  I do enjoy a good muffin!

After about 11 years, my Nana's estate was finally closed.  I received my inheritance check yesterday.  It was nice to have closure, my sisters put in a lot of hard work to get us there.  I miss my Nana.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner!

Breakfast for dinner often gets overlooked in my house.  I am not sure why, I really enjoy a good breakfast.  Maybe I will look at it as more of an option on the future.

On Monday, Ashley and her daughter, Kaleigh came over for breakfast for dinner.  It was fun and Kaleigh was able to help in the cooking a lot.  She basically did the pancakes herself.  She cut the strawberries, mixed the batter, and flipped them.  We had a lot of fun and I was surprised at how her attention span lasted the entire cooking process.

We ended up with some great food.  We had pancakes (strawberry, chocolate chuck and raspberry), homefries, and tofu scrambler.  It was great fun and i was sad to see them leave.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smokey Artichoke Pasta

With the few hours I had before heading to the jobby job on Saturday, I decided to make something that I could have for my lunches over the weekend.  I wanted something a little new that I had not been eating all the time.  I thought back to a recent post when I made a paprika pasta dish that was very good but I wanted to make a few changes prior to sharing it with the blog world.

I headed to the kitchen to get to work.  It came out very well.  I brought it to the jobby job where I offered it to a co-worker to try.  I turned my back to take care of another issue and the whole dish was gone!  Eat loved it, and ate it all.  I was not upset (I had already eaten enough for myself for the day), it was nice to have someone tear into it like that.

When I got home, I wrote out the recipe and was going to post it here when I realized that I had forgotten to take a photograph.  Then of course, it was gone!  I set out to make it again for my long day on Tuesday, mostly to have a picture.

Smokey Artichoke Pasta

3 cloves of garlic
8 oz of pasta (bow-tie preferred)
3 cups of water
1 cup of artichoke hearts (cubed)
2/3 cup of green peas
1/3 cup of red onion (sliced)
2 tablespoons of vegan sour cream
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt

 In a pot, boil the three cups of water with the bow-tie pasta until tender.  About 25 minutes.

In a saute pan, heat the oil on low-med heat and add the garlic, onion and salt.  Cook the onions until tender.  Add the artichoke hearts, pasta, vegan sour cream and mix gently.  Add the pepper, paprika, and peas and mix gently.  When the sour cream is melted, remove from heat and let cool.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Salvaged Dinner for Three!

Over the weekend I went to see my pals at crack the plates for dinner and conversations.  We brainstormed some wild ideas about the Atlanta vegan community.  I will share more on that at a later date.  We ate a great salvaged meal.  It was something that was a lunch or some sort and all leftovers to be thrown away.  Nate grabbed them up, Adrienne made them edible, and I ate them.

It was a nice beans and rice meal with a side salad.  Adrianne went out of her way to make some amazing cup cakes for dessert, despite feeling ill.  It was a fun night of heated conversations and inspiring ideas.  Horry for great people and great food!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween and an Ocobter recap.

October was a strange month.  I had a long vacation, some major financial ventures, significant relationship alternations, and have been re-united with an old nemesis / friend.  It has been odd and none of it had much to do with the kitchen.

The month ended with something that I have not done in years.  Maybe even 20 years.  I went trick-or-treating.  Ashley, her sister, her sisters boyfriend and I took Ashley's daughter Kaleigh out.  Kaleigh had a great dragon costume.  Everyone seemed to think she was a boy, apparently dragons are gender specific.  I never knew.

I had a little costume of my own.  Inspired by some old punk rock song lyrics and my long hours spent at the jobby job.

Strange month.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Paprika Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I have been feeling under the weather recently.  It has been a drag and even resulted in me using a sick day at the jobby job.  I always feel guilty when I call out sick but I try and remember that I am given my sick days for a reason and I should be able to use them when I need.  I am feeling better now and should be 100% again soon.

Ashley and her daughter. Kaleigh, brought over the pumpkin that we picked a few weeks ago, for the Halloween carving.  As a child, I do not have many memories of pumpkin carving.  It was either not something we did often or it did not seem as significant as some others.  This time, we used a pattern.  I have never done used a pattern for pumpkin carving.  It came out nice but felt unimaginative.  Kaleigh liked it so I suppose that is what counts.

The best part of the pumpkin carving was fishing out the seeds and roasting them.  My mum roasted a few pumpkin seeds when I was a child but I have never done it.

Paprika Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon of oil
3/4 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees.

Rise the seeds and separate from the pumpkin strings.  There is no need to dry overnight.  Simply rinse well and pat dry with a towel.

In a bowl, add all other ingredients and fold in the seeds.  Pour the seeds on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake for 1 hour.  Every 20 minutes, take the seeds out and flip them to avoid sticking and burning.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Childhood

As a kid, one of the special times of the year was Halloween.  I attribute most of this to my father.  He loves the holiday.  As a child, I can recall elaborate Freddy Kruger costumes for myself and massive costume parties for he and his friends.  It was always an exciting time of the year.

One year, he and I spent long hours making a creep haunted house in the crawl space of the old farm house we lived in.  I had a party and invited my friends to come and they all loved it.  Other times I can recall trick-or-treating near my nana's house farm house and getting candy apples and all sorts of other treats.  It seems like Halloween has changed a lot since I was a child.  I hope dad does something fun this year.  He deserves it for all the years he made this time of the year special for me.

In Atlanta, the big event for me around Halloween is Netherworld.  Netherworld is one of the top ranked haunted house in the country.  They have amazing costumes and an elaborate maze of horror each year.  It is one of the highlights of the year for me.  I really enjoy it.  This year, I even got jumped a few times!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A week of foods

Ashley came over the other day.  We watched a movie and she wanted to make burritos.  I am not one to object to burritos so we tore it up.  It was a nice time.

I also have been making hummus wraps for work.  They have been a wonderful food to simply grab and go.  It has been a stress filled week and it has been nice to have a simple and health meal for work each day.

Smoothies have still been a regular work event as well.  My co-workers curiosity has peaked quite a bit around the smoothies.  There is rarely a day that someone does not ask what kind I am having today or how I made it or if they can try it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A tale of a cake gone whacky.

Over the weekend, I realized I did not have a bedtime snack.  After watching a movie with Ashley, where they were eating cake, I knew what I had to do.  Pull out the bake ware and try my hand at another cake.  Always a risk in my house.

I was whipping up the batter when I spotted some green food coloring I had laying around.  Without a second thought I dumped a bit in and vigorously whipped it up.  It was that nice obnoxious green.  I tossed the cake in the oven and began to look for icing ideas.  An old store acquired can of bright pink strawberry icing, tucked far back in the cabinet, caught my eye.  Goldmine.

A couple hours later, I had frosted the green cake with pink icing and to be honest it looked like a carebear had exploded in my baking dish.  It was interesting.  The icing was suspect at best but who can complain about a bedtime snack this colorful?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ratatouille and the Autumn

In addition to my bucket of black beans, I have been eating some Ratatouille.  I made a sizable batch to accompany me on my long week at work.  It is a really great meal to prepare in advance because as it sits, the flavors meld even more.  It has been a nice healthy and hearty meal for the jobby job.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  The leaves are changing, it is getting cooler, there are all sorts of fun Halloween events, and the food is always heavy and roasted!  There is nothing like the autumn.

I also want to give a huge shout out to my fellow Atlanta blogger, Czech Vegan.  She has really helped to promote my blog and she does some amazing dishes of her own and runs her own business.  She is an inspirational lady and I am not sure how she does it.  Please go check her blog out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Black Beans and Tato!

It seems pretty standard for me that when I return to the jobby job from a vacation, I end up working a silly amount of hours.  This time I was mildly pre-pared.  I soaked some black beans and made a hue bucket of them to take to work for several days.  It was something I rarely do.  I am generally (as awful as it is) a quick, canned beans guy.  I went all out and these were fantastic.

I have been keeping pretty busy over the last week back to work and I have even had one of my favorite house guests!  Tato has been here since Monday!  Despite him waking me up each morning with head-butts to the face at 8:30am, he is a great guest.  Black beans and Tato, it has made an otherwise hectic week not so bad.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Liebster Award

“Liebster” is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’.
The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan Mofo!

The rules of winning this award are as follows:
1.       Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.       Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3.       Post the award on your blog.
4.       Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!
I think these awards are a great way to get new followers and share followers with other great blogs.  I encourage any blogger in the blog world to participate, they are great networking.

Drumroll, please...and the Liebster goes to:

Enjoy these great blogs as much as I have!  Thank you so much too Vegan Fazool for giving me this wonderful award, make sure you check out her blog as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

14 days and nearly nothing to show

I spend my first day back at the jobby job after 14 days off.  Suprisingly I was in a good mood, the first day back is generally brutal.  Interestingly, I typically have some wild stories to share with my co-workers when I return but not this time.  In fact, in my 14 days off, I did very little.  It was truly a vacation, there were even a few days that the only time I left the house was to get the mail.  It felt nice.  Relaxing.

During my time off, I barely cooked any food (aside from the single night I had company) and I rarely ate.  This was not my intention.  I had some grandiose plans for my time off but opted to spend it just enjoying the time as it floated into the past.

A few things I ate, mainly quick foods:

popcorn no vacation is complete without it

soy chicken bbq sandwiches

mashed potatoes again, never too many

slumming with some frozen waffles

It was a great vacation.