Tuesday, October 30, 2012

This MoFo is off to the mountains!

Wednesday was my first day of my autumn vacation.  Ashley and I decided to go to the Smoky Mountain National Park.  We went a couple years ago at the peak of the foliage season, this year we were about a week late for the peak.

The first part of my vacation away from the jobby job was actually spend doing Real Estate work.  I have been keeping busy and it has felt good.  I then packed and made us some burritos so we could eat on the road.  When Ashley got out of class, we were en-route!  The night came quick and we drove the last hours or so on mountain roads in the dark.  Early to bed, we were getting up early to get some amazing sites!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Atlanta Halloween Parade and a trip to Dough!

I took a trip to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park over the last 5 days, that is the reason for my absence.  However, I do not want to skip around on my timeline so I will share the experience Ashley, Kaleigh and I had at the Atlanta Halloween parade.

Kaleigh wanted to dress up like a zombie, we of course obliged.  Zombies and kids should always mix.  She had a great time and got a bunch of candy and nick-knacks.

After the parade, we took a trip to the best vegan bakery in Atlanta, Dough.  They have a massive case of baked treats, we tried the upside-down pineapple cake.  We also got a couple sandwiches.  There bread is always fantastic,as are their deli slices (all made by the people there).


Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Picking!

Fall is such a great time to be a kid.  There are all sorts of wonderful special things kids get to do this time of the year.  When I was a child, I do not recall enjoying them as much as I enjoy the memories of them now.  This year, Ashley and I took her daughter Kaleigh through the rounds of autumn activities.

This weekend we took her pumpkin picking.  She loves to walk through the rows of vines and find her perfectly colored and shaped pumpkin.  She does a good job at rationalizing her choices, even at 5 years old.  She even factored in what pumpkin she thought would have the most seeds so I could make her more of my paprika roasted pumpkin seeds.

At the pumpkin patch, there was a lot of other random things for kids to enjoy as well.  We went in the corn maze, pet some farm animals, played on a slide, found a "sandbox" full of kernels of corn, all sorts of fun things.  It is always a great day and I hope Kaleigh remembers these as fondly as I remember the autumn events.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Netherworld 2012

One of the perks of Atlanta in the autumn is Netherworld.  Year after year, Netherworld is ranked as one of the top haunts in the country, it is also one of my favorite things to do in Atlanta.  Since moving to Atlanta in 2004, I have only missed 1 year of Netherworld.  It is always a treat for me.

As I get older I can recall my dad's passion for Halloween and the haunts around the holiday.  I think he would really enjoy Netherworld.  One day I would like to have home come with me, I can almost envision him walking from room to room with people, grinning.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Recipe: Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

After the success of last weeks spaghetti squash, I have had squashes on my mind.  Another fall treat is a really great hard squash.  Acorns are a favorite of mine, stuffed with all sorts of great things.

Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
1 acorn squash
3 cups of water
1 cup of cranberries

1 cup of brown rice
1 cup of cranberry beans (cooked)
1 cup of fresh parsley
1 cup portobello mushroom (chopped)
1 cup of zucchini (cubed)
1/2 cup of sugar 
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Slice the squash length-wise and remove the seeds.  In the bowl-like sections, fill with water (it will be about 1 cup), or another sort of broth.  Wrap tightly in foil and place in the oven bowl side up for about 1 hour or until the squash is tender (check with a fork or knife).  Once done, set aside.

In a pot, boil the rice and water for about 45 minutes or until the rice is tender. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the parsley into the rice, cover and set aside.

In a pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Add the cranberries and sugar and cook until the cranberries pop.  This should take about 10 minutes.  The set aside, a taste test should be very sweet.

In a sauce pan, bring the oil to a low-med heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook until onion is tender and translucent.  Add the salt, pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and cranberry beans (any white bean will work).  Cook for about 8 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.  Add one 1/2 of the remaining parsley and the vinegar and increase the heat to med-high until the vinegar has burned off.  Reduce the heat back to low-med and add the rice and cranberries and mix gently so as not to mash the rice.  Once the mixture is well combined, add the remaining parley.  After the parsley becomes aromatic (about 2 minutes), begin to stuff the halves of the squash.  Serve hot dusted with more fresh parsley.

This meal was a lot of fun and had strikingly gorgeous fall colors.  When I made mine, I used some leftover black bean liquid from my recent black beans and peppers dish to bake the squash in.  It altered the color much darker but added a nice flavor.  This is a dish to be creative with.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MoFo from another MoFo

Due to my busy schedule recently, I have had some meal (and snack) assistance.  Ashley has been really good about helping me out by making large dishes for I can have them to take to work.  It has been really helpful and she loves to cook but rarely finds the time.

She made me a mac & cheeze casserole one of the weekends recently.  This was slightly different then her amazing mac & cheeze that she makes.  It was very good though, but I might prefer her traditional mac & cheeze.

We also had a couple of peanut butter soy milk shakes for a snack.  She makes a killer shake, so rich and creamy.  They might be my favorite snack in the last couple of weeks.

She also used some leftovers I had in the fridge to make some veggies topped with my double mushroom cream sauce and an eggplant parmesan type dish.  It was extremely good, the breading was fantastic, perfectly spiced.  This left me wanting more.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Relaxing Beans

Late last week I took a couple days and spent them cooking.  I have been extremely busy recently and it has been stressful.  Cooking is a way that i can de-stress.  It relaxes me.  I am able to feel creative and productive at the same time.  Seeing a meal come together is a relaxing feeling.  As I get older, I see myself being far less creative, cooking gives me that outlet.  Sometimes I do not even eat it, as I did with the black bean and veggie dish I made.  I just put it in the fridge for me to take to work.

I soaked the beans overnight and then roasted a handful of different peppers and tomatoes.  Tossed them all together with some kale is voila!  I have made similar variations of this simple dish before but I am slowly changing it up and this is the best rendition yet.  The roasted peppers really added some great texture to the dish.  At some point, I will post a recipe for it.  For now, just the pictures.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Nate

A quick Happy Birthday to a good friend and fellow Atlanta vegan, Nate of Crack the Plates fame.  We had a surprise party for him with a gaming theme.  There was snacks and an amazing chocolate raspberry cake.  It was a fun night and i think Nate had a great birthday!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recipe: Double Mushroom Cream Sauce

On the same day that Ashley and I made apple pie, we also made a great meal.  Ashley said she had never had spaghetti squash, which surprised me and we put it on the menu.  It is something I really enjoy and can be a lot of fun to make.  Generally I serve my spaghetti squash pesto but I wanted to do something new.

I came up with the idea of a creamy mushroom sauce.  This was the perfect addition to the nutty flavors of the squash.  It came out so earthy and rich.

Double Mushroom Cream Sauce

5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 large portobello mushroom (cubed)
1/2 of an onion (chopped)
1 cup of shiitake mushrooms (chopped)
1 cup of cashew cream
1 cup of vegetable broth
3/4 tablespoon of oil
2 teaspoons of oregano
2 teaspoons of thyme
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper

In a skillet, heat the oil on a lot temperature and add the onions and garlic.  Once the onion is translucent and the garlic is aromatic, add the mushrooms.  Cook until the mushrooms are soft.  Set aside 1 cup of the mushroom mixture and pour the remainder in a blender with the cashew cream and vegetable broth.  Puree until nearly smooth.  It will be fairly thick.  If needed, add more broth.

Pour back into skillet and add the set aside mushrooms back to the sauce.  Add thyme, salt, and pepper and fold into the sauce.  Allow it to heat, the longer it cooks, the better.  Cook on low heat and stir frequently to avoid burning.  If it begins to simmer, it is too hot.

We served this sauce over spaghetti squash but it could easily be applied to any noodle.  One might even be tempted to eat it with a spoon.

Ashley also requested her favorite soup, roasted red pepper.  It was not a pungently red this time since I was short on a pepper, the picture makes it look yellow.  It was most certainly a light red..  It was still a great compliment to the squash dish though.  Not to mention a side of roasted brussel sprouts!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Missing my Nana on pie day

My Nana made the best pies ever.  I realize that everyone thinks their grandmother made the best pies, but they are all second place to mine.  Sorry.  It was this amazing blend of light and crispy with moist and soft.  My sisters, step mother, myself, have all tried to replicate this masterpiece and some of us have come close but it is never the same.  Typically, I am the furthest away from this unattainable goal with my lack of baking skills.

Ashley on the other hand is quite a good pie crust maker.  She has knocked out several crusts without much thought or effort.  With the bowl full of apples I had left over from the recent apple picking trip and a visit from Ashley, I decided to try again.  We combined our efforts, experiences, recipes and came up with a great pie and a great crust.  The base of it was my Nana's recipe but with my additions and Ashley's ability to roll it out and her intuition regarding how much moisture the crust needed.

I was responsible for making the filling and it came out really good.  It was not soup-y not was it tried out.  About as good as one could hope for a nice fall apple pie by two folks who do not bake pies often.  This was not my Nana's pie but it was based in her inspiration.  A woman who taught me more about the joy of cooking and DIY then she knew without saying a single word to me about it.  She was an amazing woman and a famous (in my mind) pie maker.

Apple pie is great.  Apple pie in the fall is fantastic.  Apple pie with apples I picked myself rules.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Negative Approach and Dough Bakery all in one!

A few weeks ago I noticed that the old hardcore band, Negative Approach was on another tour.  They were not my favorite hardcore band but they were certainly a band I really enjoyed and respected what they brought to the early 80's hardcore community.  I was not going to miss a reunion tour of 50 year old men playing songs like they were still 20.  Since Ashley had never been to a hardcore show, I thought I would invite her, it is an experience to remember.


Prior to the show, the two of us headed over to Dough Bakery.  Jamie had been raving all week about a fast food like sandwich they were serving and I thought we should try it.  Ashley and I split a slice of red velvet cake, each had a sandwich and we even grabbed a (non)milk shake to go.  As always, it was great!

We got to the show early so we had some time to stand around.  There were not many folks there as Atlanta has never been known for its punk or hardcore scene.  The first band was decent but nothing special.  Then Negative Approach came on and tore the place apart.  They were so good.  It felt great, warm and comfortable, to be at a hardcore show like this.  The community is something I really miss and am determined to try to get back involved with.  This is my family.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

This is how we do it!

One of the most common things that people say to me about veganism is that they would miss the sweets and flavorful treats.  Anyone that knows me knows that I can prove that concern wrong.  I am a total sucker for sweets, especially after the sun goes down, mogwai-style.

Recently, I was at Ashley's house and she made me a treat that would prove all those anti-vegans wrong.  Cookie vegan-milk shake!  This things had me so wired I was skipping around her house and making screeching sounds!  All the non-vegans can eat their heart out, this is how we do it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Georgia State Fair!

A week or so ago, the Georgia State Fair was in town!  As a child in Maine, the fair was always one of my favorite things to do.  I used to love to play those awful games and win cheap glass pictures of some model in a bathing suit or even some crummy hair metal band from the 80's.  Well, it has not changed much and I still enjoy it!

Ashley, Kaleigh and I all packed up and set out for a night of silly child-like fun.  We spend some time petting farm animals, watching a competitive bicycle team, a puppet show, playing games, riding rides, and even eating some ribbon fries!  It was a late night for Kaleigh but sometimes a special occasion is worth it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Double Pizza!

In a preparation of a long week for both Ashley and myself, and in celebration of my rare Monday night off, we opted to make 2 huge pizzas.  We ate some that night but had all kinds of pizza leftover for several days of long work and school hours.

After my day shift at the jobby job, I headed to Ashley's with a bag of veggies, and my chickin seitan leftovers.  She had gotten the doughs and non-dairy cheese.  Kaleigh helped roll out the dough, she gets a kick out of it when I toss it into the air.

My homemade seitan was great on the Bar-B Que chickin pizza.  In my mind, it is hard to mess up anything with avocado on the top of it.  The other pizza was Ashley's favorite: Salsa style pizza.  All the fresh veggies one might find in salsa, toss on the pizza and baked.  Two outstanding and unique pizzas, two outstanding and unique people to share my dinner with.