Monday, December 31, 2012

A wrap up of 2012

A wrap up?  For me, 2012 has been a significant year.

Jamie moved into my house.  She and I have been roommates for nearly a year now and things have been issue free.

I finally got my hands in investment real estate.  I am now renting property and have been trying to get some more properties together.  It is a means to an end and will hopefully get me out of the jobby job.

I took a short notice trip to Spain to visit a long time friend, Pari.  It was a great time and I was very lucky that she and her family made room for me while I was there.

The grind in the summer at the jobby job was long but I capped it off with a trip back to Maine to see family.  It was much needed as there were some significant issues happening in my life at the time.

Shortly after returning from Maine, one of my best friends came to visit.  Laura was back in Atlanta, she and I moved here together back in 2004.  She now lives in Los Angels and I do not get to see her much.

Late fall I took another trip, albeit shorter.  This time, Ashley and I returned to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.  We missed the foliage by a week but it was still a great trip with several bear sitings!

I has been an eventful year of food, adventures, and milestones.  Below is a brief photo history of the year from my eyes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holiday gifts and meal

Shamefully, it has been a week since I last posted.  I try to avoid long periods of time without a post since the readership seems to slip off if I do not post regularly.  I guess that is one of the tribulations with working so much and trying to keep up with both cooking and blogging.

I have been trying to make myself enough fun and even slightly festive food for the long ours at the jobby job.  I found a new holiday roast that I had not tried before so I grabbed it.  It turned out pretty well.  I also made some nice cranberry sauce to go with it.  It was a nice holiday meal and transported to work well.

Ashley and Kaleigh both got me gifts this year.  Kaleigh made my a great soap!  It smells awesome and was incredibly sweet.  Sometimes that kid just makes my day.

Ashley made me a tofu press.  Several months ago I mentioned that I thought they were really expensive but having one would be really nice.  Apparently, she remembered and made one for me!  Impressed and grateful, I can not wait to use it.

As much as I do not celebrate the holidays, this was actually a fun evening to spend with the girls.  To top it all off, my mum even sent me some fresh picked Florida oranges and Priscilla sent me some local Maine dried beans.  It was a good time!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recipe: Pepperoni Deli Slices

Since my trip to Spain, I have been working on making seitan with lentils.  My friend, Maik made some outstanding seitan with lentils.  I have been working on it for months now and finally got it right!  They really add some amazing texture, a smoothness that most seitan really craves.  This is a recipe I am really happy with and I recommend it highly.

This recipe seems like a complicated procedure but it is actually very simple.  There are a few steps but much of the process is unattended cooking.  These made great sandwiches on the go or at home for a nice lunch.

Pepperoni Deli Slices

The gluten mixture

1 1/2 cups of vital wheat gluten
1 tablespoons of chip pea flour
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon of mustard seed
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoon of black pepper

The broth mixture

4 cloves of garlic
1 tomato
3/4 cup of vegetable broth
1/2 of an onion
1/2 cup of cooked red lentils
1/4 cup of tofu
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoons of liquid smoke
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of sugar

The marinade mixture

1 cup of the broth mixture (above)
1/2 cup of vegatable broth
1 tablespoon of oil

In a blender, combine all of the "broth mixture" ingredients.  Puree until smooth.  This should be a nice red/orange color and have a nice pepperoni-like odor.

In a bowl, combine all "gluten mixture" ingredients and mix well.  This should be completely dry, any moisture will ruin the mixture.

Combine 1 and 1/4 cups of the broth mixture and the gluten mixture and immediately stir well.  The mixture will become doughy and thick very quickly.  Begin to form the dough into a log shape.  Take the dough out of the bowl and kneed while maintaining the log-like shape.  Allow it to rise for a few minutes and kneed again. 

Take aluminum foil and loosely wrap around the log shaped dough.  Steam for 55 minutes.  Turn the loaf once during the steaming process.

In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all the marinade mixture in a baking loaf pan.  Once the steaming has been completed, place the dough into the loaf pan and roast for 1 hour.  Turn every 15 minutes to avoid tough edges. and baste when needed.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Recipe: Black Eye Peas Soup

 I have been making soups often recently.  I love the hearty winter foods and this type of a soup is right in my wheelhouse.  As a northerner, I do not have much experience with black eye peas so this soup was an experiment.  It turn out wonderful.  It was refreshing while still be hearty and filling.  Not to mention the new year is right around the corner, it seems a tradition in the south to cook black eye peas on new years.  I am not sure the connection but here it is!

Black Eye Pea Soup

5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 tomatoes
1 red pepper (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1 poblano pepper (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1/2 of an onion (chopped)
3 cups of black eye peas
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
1 tablespoon of oil
1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of liquid smoke

In a pot, bring 1/2 tablespoon of oil to heat at med temperature.  Add the garlic, onion, liquid smoke and soy sauce and cook until it begins to caramelize.  Add in 1 of the tomatoes, shopped into pieces of most any size.  Allow to cook until the tomato begins to break down (about 5 minutes).  Pour into a blender and puree until smooth.

In the same pot, add the remaining oil, red pepper, and poblano pepper.  Cook until the peppers are soft on med heat.  Add the black eye peas and remaining tomato (cut into small cubes), salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.  Add the blender mixture, vegetable broth, red wine vinegar and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

 (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

pinto beans with mango salsa

stir-fry with soy chickin

popcorn bedtime snack style

teriyaki soy chickin

ya dig?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Solace within 3 Day off!

Last week I had a little time off and planned out some adventures.  Not the type of adventures that just anyone would like but certainly adventures that were exciting for me!

Late last week, Ashley, Kaleigh and I went to the baseball field and played kickball.  It was a lot of fun, Kaleigh was actually pretty good at it.  I even booted one over the fence and made the girls go get it as I cheered cheers of victory.  Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera to this event and have no pictures to share.

On Wednesday, I headed out to Wonderroot for a hardcore show.  I have been putting more effort into finding out where shows are happening and it is something I am trying to bring back into my life, to whatever extent it fits.  This particular night was a local band called Cheap Art, they were fun to watch and it was good to see a local hardcore band.  The draw for me to this show was a band called Rat Storm.  They played politically charged hardcore and were from Indiana.  They were great!

The following night, I headed back to Wonderroot for another show.  Interestingly, there were almost none of the same faces at the show which implied to me (as someone new to the scene) that the communication is fairly disorganized.  Either way, this night was actually a mix of metal bands and hardcore.  I really dislike metal and fortunately, both hardcore bands played first so I simply left when the metal happened.  Wartorn was my draw this night.  Political crust-core from Wisconsin.  They were really good and I really enjoyed watching them.

The following day, Ashley and I went for a nice hike in a forested area in Atlanta.  There were so many birds of all sizes, I was a little scared but we made it through.  I rarely hike this time of the year due to the weather being a bit cold but it had been really nice in Atlanta recently.  It was nice to walk among all the fallen leaves and changing forest.

Then we had lunch at World Peace Cafe.  Not my favorite but Ashley wanted to go and I do like their soups.  Ashley had a burger.

That evening, we made some Bar B-Que tofu.  I made it a little different that I usually do and it was fantastic.  I may try a few variations of this style and change my recipe permanently.

It was a great feeling to find something enjoyable to do in all 3 of my days off from the jobby job.  I still took care of Real Estate business during these days but it was great to have some time for me.  I look forward to more time from me, the grind is hard.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh No!

Oh no!  I did not write it down and I forgot!  Ashley and I recently made gazpacho for us to share and take to work for the week.  It was actually fantastic.  I shared it with a co-worker as well, they really enjoyed it.  Sadly, It was about a week ago (I have been extremely busy)and I forgot what measurements I put in it to share the recipe.

The good new is that now I will have to make it again.  Mine was really chunky as I did not use and tomato sauce, just all whole veggies.  It had a nice kick too, due to the jalapenos.  It was perfect for work since I do not like to use the microwave so I eat most of my meals cold.

Another dish I have been making often to take with me to work has been mac and cheeze.  It is easy to carry off and has a good shelf life.

I have been working so much recently, at the jobby job and for real estate that I have been trying to balance my free time with a combination of fun and sitting home relaxing.  I will share some fun adventure I have been having soon.  Despite the busy schedule and the stress of working so much, I have been having a lot of fun and making some great food!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Soul Veg in my kitchen!

As a resident of Atlanta for over 8 years now, I have come to adore some of the local vegan fare.  When I first arrived as a carpet bagging northerner, I was not much of a fan of the local favorite, Soul Vegetarian.  It several all vegan southern soul food.  The yankee in me felt this was a bit heavy and it took me a few year to realize how special this place was.  Now it ranks as a favorite in the Atlanta area.

As an homage, I recently made my own Soul Veg dinner to share with both Ashley and Jamie.  It was right off their menu, Bar B-Que seitan, mac & cheeze, candied sweet potatoes, corn bread and I even added a salad with their beloved price dressing.  For an at home meal, this was pretty spot on.  It was actually a lot of fun to re-create such an Atlanta favorite for the night.

I am sure that the Atlanta locals who find their way to this post will appreciate the joy of having soul veg in your kitchen!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reason to celebrate!

In the past couple of months, I have been doing a lot of Real Estate work.  In fact, today I just finished another closing.  I like to celebrate my closings with a cake from Southern Sweet Bakery but I have opted to try and cram money into my savings to buy more investment properties. 

Since I have opted out of cake buying (although I may reverse that choice, those cakes are amazing!), I baked my own.  I used my basic chocolate cake recipe.  I did mix it up a bit, I added cinnamon to the batter and even some hazelnut to the icing!  As good as the bakery cakes are, this was certainly a nice substitution.

I have really been unhappy of the past few years at the jobby job.  I do not like to use the forum to complain so I generally do not mention it.  I have been putting in long hours with some outstanding results over the past year and I think there is some light at the end of the tunnel.  It is very exciting and I can not wait for the new page to turn.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Deli Slices!

With so many hours spent at work recently, I have been brainstorming some meal ideas that are easy to transport and filling.  Since all the people I know are eating hearty and flavorful foods this time of the year I did not want to settle for hummus wraps or something similar.  I wanted something parley a bit.

I opted to make my own deli slices to take sandwiches.  I have made deli slices in the past and I decide to work on a new recipe.  It came out really well but I want to make a few minor tweak prior to posting a recipe.

I have recently been fantasizing about having more time to cook and be outside.  I am going to try to make some time, it makes me feel so much better.  Until then, the deli slices and the double batch of mac & cheeze will have to do!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Money Machine!

Ashley and Kaleigh recently sold cookie dough for Kaleigh's school.  She really wanted to earn the 30 sale prize.  Within a couple of days, she had sold 34 items!  Her prize was 1 minute in a money machine.  It seemed like a strange concept for a 5 year old but she was extremely excited about it.  It was a riot to watch her grabbing the dollar bills that were flying around her head.  She got $23 for her efforts and put it in her piggy bank.  She is such a great kid!

That evening, we made breakfast for dinner!  It was pancakes, home-fries, and some soy sausage.  It was a great and unique day for all of us!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thrifty Muffin Eater!

I have always been a bit of a miser but recently I have really been on the look out for bargains when I am out and about.  Typically I just try to avoid buying anything but now I have upped it to when I absolutely need to buy something, I try t oget the best deal possible.

Recently I was stopping into a natural food store when I spotted a bag of about 7 bananas that were very brown and only 75 cents!  I snatched them up and immediately thought of banana bread!  After considering it for a bit on the ride home, I opted for banana pecan muffins instead.  They were easier to take to work on the long holiday shifts.

With so many bananas, I was able to make a double batch.  I had so many muffins in the house it was insane.  I was giving them to friends and co-workers just so they would not go bad.  It was great, everyone loved them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow Cooker in the Kitchen!

A few weeks ago, Ashley and I got talking about her busy schedule or work, school, single mom, etc.  She was feeling like cooking healthy meals for her and her daughter, Kaleigh, was slipping away from her scope of priorities.  Understandable.  The more we talked about it the more I realized that a slow cooker might be just want she needed to help.

We searched all the different features and brands and made a purchase.  Right away Ashley began to use it.  In fact, I have even had it at my house for a few times to help develop some easy recipes that she might enjoy.  I have gotten the advantage of eating some fantastic food.

As a child, my mum occasionally made pot roast in her slow cooker.  Ironically, none of us were a big fan of the dish and my mum never ate red meat, to this day I am not sure why she made it.  That was my entire experience with a slow cooker though.  This is all new territory for me.  I may even post a few slow cooker recipes, they can be very creative!

My Fajita Soup with Seitan

Ashley's Jambalaya

Ashley's Tortilla Soup

My Channa Masala

Friday, November 16, 2012

Atlanta VegFest 2012

Before it is too far gone, I wanted to mention my afternoon at Atlanta Vegfest.  I realize that all the other Atlanta bloggers have already covered the event far better then I did, so I will be brief.  It was a great time, I found some new vegan options in the Atlanta area, got more samples of items that I can recall, and watched some entertaining speakers.

Some of the highlight were watching a food demo on making seitan.  Everyone has their own take on the wheat meat so it is always fascinating to see what other people concoct.  Another highlight was the outstanding vegan gelato.  It was incredible.

We arrived shortly after it opened (Ashley and I had to hop a train - literally - to get in) and it was packed!  Hundreds of vegan, vegetarian, and veg-curious people were all over the place.  There was barely room to stand!  It was a great time and Leigh (formerly of Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe) put the event on and did a wonderful job.  We had a great time!