Friday, July 31, 2009
One of our favorite restaurant owners in town was leaving for 10 days (closing the restaurant) and she sweetly gifted us some yummys from the kitchen to tide us over in her absence. It was so nice to be able to make Thai at home with some of her goodies. I need to talk her into giving some Thai cooking lessons because Thai food is something I can't quite seem to replicate at home. I made the Massaman Curry, but added brown rice, broccoli, carrots, and used cashews instead of peanuts. The sauce (sans fish sauce), onions, and tofu is from our friend. Now I know how they get the consistency of the tofu in the restaurant. I was also a little surprised to see that the tofu has yellow food coloring in it! Yikes! I'll just order more veggies and no tofu from now on. Even with the gifts, we can't wait for her to come back from Thailand. We adore her and always appreciate her generosity.
Revamped Local Park and Vegan Kids in Action:
A couple weeks ago, we were biking home from the Market at the Square and picked up some lunch on campus. We decided it was such a beautiful day that we should eat in a local park. Scott Park has not been one we frequent, but all that is about to change. They are finishing a complete "remodel" of the park and they have some of the coolest playground equipment around now. Above is Dema climbing on the twisty ladder. Below is Josie learning a thing or two about physics while spinning around.Parker enjoyed losing himself in imaginative play before hanging out and chatting with the adults.Dema demonstrated yet another piece of equipment which moves as you shift your body weight. I had some fun on this one myself. We'll be visiting Scott Park again soon.
Mostly Homemade Surprise Indian Curry:
I picked up a bonus CSA share this week since our friends, who we split a share with, are out of town enjoying the beach in NC (insert jealousy here). With my produce bursting out of my kitchen from our garden, CSA, and two weekly farmer's markets, I just started to saute garlic and onions and chop of vegetables with no particular plan. I do this often. I figure the "gods of the vegan kitchen" will take me in hand while I chop and send me sign of what to cook. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much, but I always feel better chopping up veggies. This particular lunch developed into crumbling tempeh with the garlic/onions, adding blackstrap molasses and some Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Still no goal, but how can one go wrong at this point. I steamed some broccoli and cauliflower while I pressure cooked the brown rice (equal amounts of rinsed brown rice and water cooked at high pressure for 20 minutes). I noticed a jar at the top of the cupboard I noticed a jar of Seeds of Change Madras Sauce.I threw everything together with the Madras Sauce, added chickpeas and soaked cashews. At the last minute, I decided to put a can of coconut milk in to cut the spiciness, but didn't really need it. The end result was tasty and the kids loved it along with the last of our frozen blueberries from the farmer's market and more Green on Green soup. Dema dipped veggie seed bread from our local health food store in his soup and I added hot sauce this time to his. I asked how he liked it with the hot sauce and he said, "I love everything about this soup!".
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Greetings! Akron, Ohio, and visited one of the few all-vegan (and Kosher) restaurants I am aware of. At Chrissie Hynde’s (of “The Pretenders”) restaurant, VegiTerranean, I had something REAL yummy to eat and drink, took a few pictures, and talked with the chef. I asked Linda if it would be cool to do a mini-review of this wonderful venue on her excellent blog, in hopes that we might encourage the establishing of something like this out here in Champaign-Urbana, and she graciously agreed. So here we go!Linda’s friend Meat-free Mike here. Back in mid June, I went to my hometown,
The VegiTerranean is located at 21 Furnace Street, inside the Northside Lofts just north of downtown Akron, Ohio (also Chrissie Hynde’s hometown). It was a warm day and I was just finishing visiting local cd stores and shops when I decided to try the new restaurant. Being thirsty as I was, I concluded that a tall, cool Hoppin’ Frog wheat beer was in order! Akron actually has two breweries now, I believe, and the Hoppin’ Frog products I’ve sampled are top notch! This really hit the spot, along with the tasty pickle appetizer you see to the left of my brew.After reviewing the extensive vegan menu, which included soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, and pastas and risottos, I decided to go with a vegan wrap which was comprised of grilled eggplant, artichokes, spinach, baby arugula, vegan feta cheese. I wasn’t really into pasta at the time and wanted something light. I had just snarffed down a large garlic and fresh tomato pizza from Luigi’s Italian Restaurant the night before. Luigi’s pizza is my all-time favorite, but that’s for another review! J
While I enjoyed my libation, I gazed around at the décor which was essentially modern and stainless steel-oriented. Here are a few shots:
This view is looking northeast over the bar and out into the valley of the Little Cuyahoga River which flows into north Akron and divides downtown from North Hill where many Italian immigrants moved to in the early 1900’s. The bridge in the background is a modern “Y” bridge which was erected in the 1980’s, I think, to replace an older “Y” bridge which was in need of serious repair. The folks on the patio outside of the open windows are dining in the out-of-doors which is another option at VegiTerranean.Tables, chairs, and plates:Pictures of famous vegetarians and vegans graced the walls. Here’s a photo of Morrissey of The Smiths:After not too long of a wait, my food arrived! Here’s a shot of the entire spread:Note the “Chrissie” fries on the left topped with a lightly-herbed faux cheese made at the restaurant. I am a potato FREAK!! I really enjoyed this combination: light, browned, and not greasy, with the added zing of the faux cheese.The organic whole wheat wrap was excellent! Although it wasn’t on their regular menu yet (they were revising), I thought it was near perfection already. This particular ensemble of grilled vegetables and the tasty chutney-based dipping sauce was a delicate combination whose balanced flavor goes missing in similar items I’ve sampled from other restaurants.
Here’s a pic of the most courteous Chef Scot Jones of VegiTerranean! It was a delight to meet him. Being the busy professional that he is, he was needed in the kitchen but was kind enough to chat a bit about the scene in Akron and in Champaign-Urbana, and to pose for this snap-shot.
All in all, the food was GREAT, the service excellent, and the atmosphere relaxed yet sophisticated. I’ll definitely stop back the next time I’m in town to explore the pasta and other vegan fare that VegiTerranean offers. If you’re ever in Akron, Ohio, I highly recommend VegiTerranean for lunch or dinner. I think you’ll be glad you did! They have so many non-meat choices which should please even the most picky omnivore!
Here’s the link to the VegiTerranean web site. Check out the extensive and diverse array of dishes offered!
- “Meat-free” Mike
Saturday, July 11, 2009
One of the vendors, I had the pleasure of purchasing from that luxurious day was Pasta Alley. I stopped, talked with the owner, checked out the selection, and then the Sweet Basil Whole Wheat pasta spoke to me (not really spoke...then it wouldn't be vegan). I finally cooked some up for lunch the other day after buying some vegan garlic bread from Strawberry Fields. I made Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta sauce from Vegan YumYum, of course. It was perfect together. I love supporting a business making their own pasta locally and I found out later that they have several developmentally disabled employees. I suggest you visit them at the Market at the Square or order online. You won't be disappointed.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009
He also soaked the beans last night and cooked them up this morning before I was even out of my pajamas. I know, I know, I'm spoiled. So I thought I'd made something new with the chickpeas to go with his pita. I've almost made the Tuna-Free Sandwich Filling from Vegan Planet several times, but never have. Rob was skeptical and asked me not to use all the chickpeas because he had hummus in mind. Then I made him a sandwich with the tuna-free filling, pickles, and swish chard from the new farmer's market*...he asked me to make a another batch. I did sub nori flakes for the kelp powder, lime juice for lemon, celery salt for the celery, and I used the Light Canola Mayo which was just right for this recipe. The mayo is just something to keep the ingredient together and make it creamier and the taste really comes from the other ingredients. This is another reason I don't bake bread, it is not forgiving. I feel like I would have to follow a recipe and that goes against my nature.
In this picture, I added kale, shredded carrots, and capers to the sandwich filling and pickles. The pasta in the background is Penne Vodka from Veganomicon. This was my first time making it, but it is very similar to our VeganYumYum standby which I've blogged about many times before. I have to admit that I don't think I've ever eaten a tuna salad sandwich in my life and if I did, I'm sure I've erased the memory so I have no earthly idea if this tastes like tuna or not. I just know it is darn good. Josie licked the bowl clean and Parker seconded Rob's request that I make more. Dema was not home so the jury is out for him. For another chickpea tuna-ish recipe that we enjoy, try this one.
*I finally got my rear in gear and went to the Historic North First Street Farmers Market this Thursday. My neighbor, Deborah, and her two sweet sons biked downtown with us to check it out. The market is small, but it was nice to have one during the week so close to home. I found plenty to buy and one of the vendors was a vegan couple! I haven't seen them before at our normal Market at the Square so I'll make sure to continue to support them during the week. I also appreciate this market is closer to an area of town which is completely under served by co-ops and markets so I hope to watch it grow. The picture is the kids sharing a bagel we bought at the market while they are patiently waiting for me finish talking with friends.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The kids didn't watch the entire epic, but I would be happy to watch it again in all its length. Rob and I both thought it was very well done. The acting was quite good for a mini-series and best of all it sparked interest in all of us to learn more. Really what more can I ask? I love books, but sometimes it is hard to picture certain aspects of history and a movie brings it to life in a different way. I appreciate the raw realness of this film. There is an option on the DVD to have what I will call "fact pop ups" appear throughout the film. I enjoyed watching with this option on and highly suggest it, but it may distract from the viewing for younger children. Of course, there are parts which may be particularly hard for some children to watch. One such scene for my kids involved a man being hit by a cannon ball while John Adams was sailing to Europe and hit ship was attacked by the British. The man's leg has to be amputated and all does not end well. There are also some historical inconsistencies, which is to be expected, listed here. Overall, I would say it is well worth the hours of viewing and timely for those celebrating on July 4th.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Speaking of Father's Day, I was going to do a brunch with Rob's dad in town and have my dad, sister, and brother over, but it was so hot I wanted to do something simpler. For my sister's birthday, June 7th, we had my family over for vegan pizza. It was so good, Rob and I decided to do it again for Father's Day. Probably not the smartest thing since the house was warm enough, the oven baking pizzas didn't help one bit, but it was yummy. Rob made his wonderful whole wheat crust (he mostly follows the recipe in Nonna's Italian Kitchen by the talented Bryanna Clark Grogan), homemade sauce, and we did the normal toppings (kale, carrots, kalamata olives, capers, sweet peppers, mushrooms, fresh pineapple on some, and since I picked up some Follow Your Heart vegan cheese on sale we added a little of that as well, but I really prefer pizza without it).There is nothing better than homemade vegan pizza. I felt guilty that Rob cooked on Father's Day, but he said he waned too and there are issues between Rob's dad, Mike, and me so it is better for Rob to cook. Family stuff is complicated to say the least.
I did make a Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake from Veganomicon. But I waited until midnight when the kitchen had cooled down a tad. I bought a gallon of blueberries from the farmer's market and actually was able to freeze few this time. We topped the cake with Coconut Bliss ice cream (on sale at the co-op recently) to cut the sweetness (for you Steel Magnolias fans).
Last Friday night we rode our bikes to Ricky and Catharine's for dinner. It is about 4.5 miles so long enough for Dema to fall asleep. We made a stop at Strawberry Fields on the way and Dema was snoozing and Josie was asking for an apple (that is a ball in her hand not an apple) and doing her sign for eat and saying "eat" over and over. Parker was on the back of my Xtracycle because we still don't have a light for his bike. I don't think of it until we are going somewhere and will need a light on the ride home. He really needs his own lock and lights. Dinner at Ricky and Catharine's was tempeh fajitas, rice, beans, guacamole, and pasta for the kids (although Parker ate two large plate full of pretty much everything). It was yummy and fun as usual. The kids soaked each other all evening with the hose and we enjoyed the weather chatting on their porch.Speaking of tempeh, I've revised one of our favorite tempeh dished from Vegan Dad's blog, Peanut Tempeh with Noodles. In the past, I've blogged about it as Sunbutter Tempeh with Noodles. I've changed it up enough that I'll share my version, but I highly suggest checking out Vegan Dad and cooking it his way too. I just can't ever leave well enough alone. This dish is so good, we rarely have leftovers. It is also great for people looking for a protein punch (most of us get plenty and it is not something people lack in their diet veg or not, but some people are big on protein) with the nutbutter, nutritional yeast, and tempeh it is a protein powerhouse.
Nutbutter Coconut Tempeh with Rice Noodles:
1 package rice noodles
3 - 4 cloves of garlic minced
1 block of tempeh crumbled (I find that even people who don't like tempeh will like this dish)
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional - I've been cutting back on oil a lot lately, more about that in another post)
1 - 2 tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari
1/2 cup water (plus a couple tablespoons if you don't want to use much oil)
1/4 cup nutbutter (your choice, but I assume you are using a nut butter with just nuts in it...no salt nor sweetener)
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 can lite coconut milk (you can use full fat and I've heard that lite is only full fat with added water, but lite is what I have right now so if you use full fat, I would use only half a can and maybe up the water)
2/3 to 1 teaspoon red curry paste (we like things hot so you may want to try half this amount at first)
1 teaspoon coriander
1 package frozen peas or fresh sweet peas or green of your choice
red pepper flakes for garnish (optional...I told you we like things hot)
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish (optional, not shown, but it great if you have some on hand)
Soak the rice noodles according to directions on the package. While the noodles are soaking, heat a large saute pan or wok on medium heat. Add the olive oil and saute the garlic for a couple minutes, but do not burn. Crumble the tempeh into the pan and saute. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it starts to stick. Put the nutbutter in a bowl with the water, blackstrap molasses, tamari, nutritional yeast, coriander, and red curry paste and mix it all together with a spoon and then pour the mixture in the pan with the tempeh. Heat, stirring occasionally for about ten or fifteen minutes then add the peas and coconut milk and stir. Make sure not to boil after the coconut milk is added. Heat through until peas are thawed and noodles are done. Add the drained noodles to the mixture and stir. If it is still too wet for you, add a little more nutritional yeast. Serve with red pepper flakes and/or fresh cilantro.