Archive for the ‘Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’ Category

Texas–Just a Few Weeks Away

May 30, 2010

Peony I 'Borrowed' From My Neighbors

I spent last weekend in Columbus, GA, being reunited with my sweetie.  After 62 days of Army training, he was sleep-deprived and food-deprived, probably with some minor malnutrition.  To ensure I had something to eat and to encourage healthy snacking for him, I came loaded with Bolthouse Farms smoothies, hummus, carrots, Newman’s Own cereal, almond milk, blue chips, salsa, bananas, figs, Lara bars, and Happy Vegan chocolate chip cookies.  Since his fridge was empty and he was hungry every hour, this was a wise decision.  We spent Friday with our respective families and several of his good friends, celebrating his graduation and giving tours of the base, before being left to our own devices.

The remainder of the weekend we regrouped and enjoyed a bit of calm before our big move to Texas and the official cutting of the apron strings.  We went to Atlanta for a night and toured the Aquarium.  We’d last visited the Aquarium in 2005, right after it first opened, and, disappointingly, not much seemed to have changed other than the original 4 whale sharks and belugas had all gone belly-up and been replaced.  I still find it dark and cynical that both McCormick & Schmick’s and Legal Sea Foods are located right around the corner.

My husband felt he really really needed to try a Double Bypass Burger from The Vortex in Little 5 Points, so I indulged him and ate some of his tater tots.  The waitroids thought they were hysterical when they brought the burger and put it in front of me and tried to give my husband my half salad and bowl of Treehugger Chili.  We love The Vortex for it’s atmosphere, the fact that children under 18 are not allowed, and the extensive food options both of us can enjoy.  I love the fact that I can get any of the gourmet burgers with a veggie burger and one day, I WILL try the Elvis, which is topped with banana and peanut butter.

My husband liked his cookies so much, he asked me to bake more and shared them with his friends the Martins, who have 4 young kids.  It made my heart swell with pride when we watched the 3 year old twins eat some cookies and my husband said he wished he had saved more for himself.  We watched multiple movies, ran errands, and my husband made me an interesting stir fry with Szechuan vegetables, brussel sprouts, Salsa Lizano, Srichacha chili sauce, and red pepper.  I accompanied this with roasted asparagus and red bell pepper, and stir fried tofu marinated in ketchup and soy sauce.  Oddly enough, it was a delicious meal.

I left my husband and spent my last day before my 10 hour drive back to VA with my little brother and parents.  I had shared some of the original batch of cookies with my bro and now HE wanted some more.  These are so easy and so tasty, I could only comply. 

Now, I’m back in Fredericksburg, surrounded by boxes and actually enjoying making meals from the leftovers in my freezer.  Yesterday I had a bowl of frozen spinach with an apple and peanut butter.  Today, an Amy’s frozen meal with grapes and mango. 

I’m avoiding the roads, the traffic, and the tourists downtown and instead focusing on planning 2 successive roadtrips out to Texas to find somewhere to live and then move all my household goods.  We hope to be Texas residents by 14 June.  And if I hear one more joke about how I’m going to have to get used to eating baked beans while everyone else has barbecue….

'Joy of Vegan Baking' Chocolate Cake Recipe With Blueberries

Still Eatin’ Down the Kitchen

May 14, 2010

Which means no grand new pictures of food, sorry.  But I did finally get to use my crinkle cutter!  Don’t you have something I can crinkle cut for you, huh huh huh???  (Thank you BFF Kat!)  Here we have a butternut squash which I turned into some tasty fries, using an herb mixture out of The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.  Yesterday, I used the other half of the squash to make a version of The Vegan Table‘s Oven Baked French Fried Yams.  You can read Chay’s review here.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to screw up sweet potatoes or butternut squash and both versions were satisfying and had me licking my plate.  It’s ok, I live alone and I can do that with no shame.

Moosewood-inspired Butternut Squash Fries

Lindsay from Happy Herbivore posted this article on her Facebook page and I’d like to pass it on here.

A Man Walks Into a Restaurant…

In other news, I’ve discovered that Trader Joe’s does not exist in the state of Texas.  My kind parents are making a visit to their nearest store in GA this weekend and are taking my shopping list with them.  Now I know that there are other, perhaps better stores that I will find in Texas and I’m not going to starve to death, but the thought of not having another bag of my anti-oxidant mixed berry trail mix waiting for me when I finish this one??  Perish the thought.  They’re also going to hit up the Dekalb International Farmers Market for some bulked goods that will travel well.  It’s killing me, not being able to purchase bulk flours and beans and spices because 1) I don’t want to pack and carry them all over East Jesus and 2) I’m not sure how they would survive if we have to leave them in the back of a U-Haul in 90 degree heat for more than a day.  And again, I just have to keep reminding myself, Texas has food. 

Today was officially my last day at work and I am now effectively unemployed.  Well, technically not until the 22nd, but that’s splitting hairs.  So I clean, I pack, I pack, I clean, and I hope that I will be seeing my husband this time next week.  And then…..Texas bound!

A New Read, New Baking Experiment, and New Vegetable

May 11, 2010

My coworker Bonnie forwarded me this suggested reading from the Polyface Farms Facebook site (see Food Inc).  I’m only on Chapter 3, but so far I have found The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien to be a new and insightful look at the food industry, environmental factors, and the rise of allergies, asthma, ADHD, and autism in kids.  It’s frightening and makes me think, even more than I already did, about every single item I put into my body, in addition to all the chemicals and pollutants I come into contact with daily.  I eat extremely healthily, I know, but yes, I do sometimes have Diet Coke or use Lysol–am I dooming my future children to a lifetime of autoimmune disorders?  Scary stuff.  My main takeaways, thus far, are from page 47 where Robyn notes 4 major factors behind the allergy epidemic:

1.  “Shift from a natural to an industrialized environment.”

2.  “Excessive exposure to antibiotices, both as prescribed…and as consumed through antibiotic-laden meat, milk, and poultry.”

3.  “The rise in pollutants and environmental toxins…”

4.  “Our tendence to eat more processed foods…”

So, with that thought in mind, on a happier note, let us turn to our most recent Joy of Vegan Baking experiment and first time using active yeast.  These cinnamon rolls were divine!  I used walnuts and had to omit the raisins since I didn’t have any.  I was concerned (see previous post) because my dough seemed a little, well, tough and flaky when I rolled it out, and the rolls are probably denser than meant to be, but they taste marvelous and that’s what matters.  Next time, I’ll use my mixer for the icing.  My confectioner’s sugar clumped up and left unpretty white lumps.

My experimental vegetable of the week was fiddlehead ferns.  At $10 a pound, they’re a special treat, but I loved them!  Sort of like a mild asparagus.  I baked them in a foil pouch with Brussels sprouts, garlic, onion, and rosemary for 30 minutes. 

Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, Afterwards

May 10, 2010

I’m back from my family sojourn to Wrightsville Beach, NC, which is part of the Inner Banks in the metro-Wilmington area.  After only a 5 hour drive for me, my parents, little brother, and myself passed a most excellent weekend chilling out, playing games, getting facials, and walking gardens.  It was a bit too chilly to sit out on the beach, but it was just lovely to get away from Fredericksburg, contact with the outside world, and packing boxes.  Speaking of which…my guest bedroom looks like a lush’s hideaway and this is just a small selection.

So back to the weekend.  We went to Airlie Gardens and especially enjoyed the Sculpture Garden.  The joke was, as you’ll see from the photos below, that we would have loved to contribute by helping to empty all those bottles that form the sculpture.  They also have a butterfly house, but actually, it kinda grossed me out, all those insects fluttering around.

Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden, Airlie Gardens

Detail From the Sculpture Garden

Butterfly Garden

My favorite meal was from Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn in Wilmington where I had the Veggie Deluxe, no cheese, and my brother had the Treehugger, plus we sampled 8 different salsas including Wasabi Avocado, Cucumber, Pineapple, and Peach Ginger.  “Hot, Fast, Cheap, and Easy”…insert rude comment here.  Another good meal was the Veggie D-lite on a Kaiser roll from Sweet and Savory Bakeshop

Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn

For Mothers’ Day my brother and dad gave my mom a facial.  I went along.  This was my first time getting one, although I have had massages before.  It freaked me out when the facialist told me to take my top off and I could remove my bottoms if I wished.  I gotta get nekkid for a facial???  It was lovely, although the warm steam thingy was blowing right up my nose.  Mom enjoyed it, which was the important part.  All in all, a low-key, relaxing weekend.  No one killed anyone and I think we all appreciated each others’ company.

Now I’m back in Fredericksburg with only 3 full days left in the office!  5 or 6 realtors trooped through my house this weekend to show it to potential renters, which is just irritating, no matter how you look at it.  Thank goodness I was away…I’m going to be so crabby this weekend when I have to keep vacating so they can tromp through my stuff.  With packing, I’ve got all kinds of things in all kinds of places, but oh well!

I have a bowl of cinnamon roll dough rising in the kitchen that needs to be punched.  This is my first time using active yeast and I’m trying out the recipe from Joy of Vegan Baking.  I’m a little concerned because the recipe utilizes a mixer (although it notes you can do it by hand) and I did it by hand.  My dough isn’t really elastic-y and smooth, so we’ll see…

Pictures to follow!

Pre-Weekend Getaway With Family

May 6, 2010

Just a quickie before I drive ~5 hours south tomorrow to meet my family and younger brother at Wrightsville Beach, NC for a family vacation.  Wrightsville Beach is part of the Inner Banks (not to be confused with the Outer Banks) and is quite close to the town of Wilmington.  Wilmington is supposed to a top rated spot to visit if you want somewhere with character and not a lot of tourist traps–we’ve never been. 

My brother made the hotel reservations and I was responsible for researching things to do and restaurants to eat at.  When we went to Jekyll Island over Thanksgiving I got stuck eating a lot of iceberg salads and baked potatoes because steak and seafood restaurants were all that was available/open, so I researched the HELL out of Wilmington!  It was my own fault.  My parents are wonderful about asking if there’s something I can eat at every restaurant and they even call me when they go out to eat on their own and let me know what I COULD have eaten there.  In case I get hungry this time, though, I have packed chopped bell pepper, cauliflower, carrots, and hummus, the Joy of Vegan Baking blueberry bundt cake, in muffin form, Vegan Lunchbox’s fruit and nut bars (with cashew pieces, walnuts, and dried cherries), apples, bananas, and emergency Primal Strips.  I like my ‘nanners pretty ripe and brown, which means I don’t have to worry about my family (or most people) snitching them!  I packed my lunch of mango, grapes, Wasa crackers, and fruit/nut bars so I dont have to waste time at a Subway off the interstate and pay $4 for a piece of bread with lettuce and tomato.

Fruit and Nut Bars, Pre-Baking

Bro' Requested and Approved

Neighbors' Peonies and Irises

The only thing keeping me from sneaking over and helping myself to these peonies is the fact that I already packed away my vases and I dont want to use a cup.  I officially turned in my notice to work on Monday and I’m averaging packing 2 boxes a night.  My coworkers were all overwhelmingly enthusiastic for and supportive of my decision to take this huge leap of faith and join my husband in Texas.  Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside : )  I was truly surprised how many people said they were jealous.  I mean, we don’t have a plan, we don’t have a place to live, I’m leaving behind a security clearance and federal job, we’re the blind leading the blind…and yet, our decision to say ‘to hell with it all’ and make it an adventure makes others jealous?  That’s pretty cool.  And strange.

Off to scour the kitchen for anything not nailed down that I probably wont need for at least the next month and can pack in a cardboard box…

Informative op-ed from the NYTimes (yanked from the Food Inc Facebook page): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/opinion/06kristof.html

And Dr. Gupta: http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/06/presidential-panel-cancer-risks-underestimated/?hpt=Sbin

Lemon Cheesecake, a Review

April 26, 2010

Not a cheesecake in texture, for sure, more like a cream pie, but yummy and the birthday girl had TWO slices.  High praise indeed.  I’m glad I added the strawberries; they provided some pizazz.  I’d be interested to try it again in a springform pan and let it sit in the fridge even longer than the 16 hours this one had. 

It was good, a keeper, but not a cheesecake like what I had my mouth set for.

Hippity Hoppity Bunny Loot and a Lemon Concoction

April 25, 2010

Plans came to naught, but these things happen and I had an enjoyable weekend anyways.  I nearly cried when I left the re-opened Spotsylvania Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning.  I felt like a bunny rabbit on crack–asparagus, spinach, swiss chard, kale, and butter lettuce (which I have never knowingly had before).  From there, I made it to the LibertyTown Arts Gallery yard sale.  I was supposed to be shopping for gifts, but found a charming pie plate in my blue and green glaze and had to have it.  Especially since the artist was a Dutch lady named Els–my best friend’s mom is Els, Dutch, and a potter!  The gallery was really neat.  Each resident artist had their own little nook behind the gallery where you could see their workspace.  Not sure what was going on in downtown Fredericksburg, but dodged gaggles of teenagers wearing coordinated t-shirts on my way home and, I swear, there was a cannon going off somewhere.

I’m still indulging my Jane Austen kick with Sense and Sensibility.  The wigs are HORRIBLE and the actors are much prettier than Pride and Prejudice, but I love Hugh Laurie and the costumes.  On Thursday I went to an art film at the library–Les Silences du Manet.  Most edifying and I think I successfully met my smug cultured quota for the week.

For the first time in my life, I was asked, seriously, if I’m considering having children in the near future.  The world tilted.

Food.  In that strange place between eating down what I already have and waiting for more crops to come in, so it’s a little barren.  I cheated and got some green beans and a red bell pepper from Wegmans.  They were just too festive looking not to snap a photo.

The 3rd and final Mom soup, some kind of basil-y split pea yumminess.  I’d ask for the recipe, but I’d rather she makes it for me.  I baked a little cornmeal johnnycake and broke it up in the soup, with kale chips on the side.

More ‘sausage’ and meatless patties with shiitake mushroom gravy and a whole mound of broccoli.  I was hungry!

Apples with Trader Joe’s almond butter (thank you Dad!), a huge mess of farmers’ market spinach, champagne mangoes and red grapes for Sunday lunch.

And finally, the piece de resistance (maybe), Lemon Cheesecake from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  I used a pre-made vegan graham crust and had almost 3/4 cup of batter leftover.  Next time, I would do half lemon juice and half lemon extract because I like a sharper tang.  This is my first cheesecake attempt and I’m anxious to see if it turned out right when I take it to work tomorrow for a birthday treat.  I think they would notice if I cut into it to check!  At first glance, it doesn’t look like  a standard cheesecake texture, so we might rename it Lemon Pie and I will be sad because this was one of the most expensive desserts I have ever made.  I hope the birthday girl licks the pan.

Lemon Pie? Lemon Cheesecake?

The week ahead will bring 2, count ’em, 2 trips to Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant and a scheduled sick day.  Who knows what else is around the corner?  I do know I might be tired of lettuce by Friday.

A Low-Key Weekend

March 28, 2010

This weekend was devoted to spring cleaning and trying to prepare as many meals ahead of time as possible in order to free up my evenings.  I also found time to begin watching the BBC Scotland series Hamish Macbeth, which was recommended by a coworker.  It’s quirky, hard to understand, and yet, I’m kinda hooked.  Seriously, I think I’m missing a good third of what the characters say, given their thick Scottish burrs.

Baby Bok Choy

I haven’t used bok choy much because I didn’t really know what to do with it, other than saute it and slap some soy sauce on it, but thanks again to this website for providing me with a new and extremely easy bok choy cooking method: http://sweetbeetandgreenbean.net/?s=bok+choy.  Perfectly wilted leaves, and the body still had some crunch. 

PB and J Cookies

I had a hankering for some peanut butter and I’m doing my best to incorporate more recipes from cookbooks I own into my weekly rotation, so I made these PB&J thumbprint cookies from The Vegan Table.  Oh yes, of course I used my homemade peanut butter : )  You can read Chay’s review here: http://pinkvegan.wordpress.com/category/colleen-patrick-goudreau/peanut-butter-jelly-cookies/.  I liked ’em, but didn’t love ’em.  I made these with strawberry jelly and set aside one with raspberry jelly.  Next time, use the raspberry.  Or chocolate!!!!!!  I didn’t have to add any extra liquid or any other modifications.

Messa' Collards

Crockpot collards from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.   I like the liquid smoke option rather than the vinegar option as the final addition.  One note–push those collards down in the pot as the space becomes available, otherwise they stick to the sides and burn and who wants to waste perfectly good collards?  These collards are great as leftovers and will be the perfect accompaniement to my tofu/bell pepper/zucchini roast with Susan’s Golden Mustard BBQ sauce (http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/08/south-carolina-golden-mustard-barbecue.html). 

And so, the week begins again.  It’s raining outside with possible thunderstorms this evening.  I suppose it’s “out like a lion”, but we’ve been lucky so far.  After such a hard winter, I welcome the rain since it means flowers and vegetables and good good things!  But I hate worms.

The Top 3 Questions I Get Asked

March 14, 2010

Lunch for my abbreviated work week: North-South Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health.  I replaced the kidney beans with pinto beans (’cause I like ’em), but otherwise stayed faithful to the original.  Next time, the only modification I will make is to add more spices!  I’m not sure where the “North” comes from, but you can certainly see the “South” portion, chock full of sweet potatoes, okra, and bell pepper goodness.  The spices were reminiscent of gumbo.  I enjoy taking soups for lunch because 1) my office is chilly and, duh, soup is warming and 2) soup is filling without costing you a lot of calories.

Moosewood Restaurant's North-South Chili

Yes, I pretty much rely on other peoples’ recipes, whether I find them online or in cookbooks.  And, I confess, I typically choose recipes that contain nutritional information.  That information could be completely arbitrary, but I feel better with a reference point (so I have some quirks, I admit!).  I have 3 cookbooks that are my go-to for meals: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Vegan Table, and 2 Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks, Cooking for Health and Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  The Moosewood cookbooks are not totally vegan, but are easily adjusted.  As you may have noticed, I also use Colleen’s Joy of Vegan Baking a good bit and I’m learning my way around Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  My favorite websites for recipes are listed over to the right.

I’m constantly surprised by how many people know what “vegan” means…and also how FEW people know what “vegan” means.  “So you don’t eat eggs?”  Well, last time I checked, eggs DO come from an animal and I try NOT to eat animal products, so….  The top 3 questions or comments I normally get are (and I know this is a general vegetarian favorite): “Where do you get your protein?”, “Don’t you ever crave a big, juicy hamburger?”, and “That seems very restrictive”.  Only the protein question bothers me.  Let’s be clear.  Given my height and weight, I need 44 g of protein a day.  1 serving of tofu has 40 g.  I think I’ll make it.  Not to mention that too much protein is what most Americans suffer from, resulting in kidney issues and osteoporosis.  But I digress.  Actually, no, I don’t ‘miss’ any meat dish.  And if I did, I could eat it, I just choose not to!  I really and truly do not have any cravings for meat.  In fact, when I came back from Iraq and went 100% vegetarian, my first stop was the grocery store, where I spent $70 on 3-days worth of fresh vegetables and fruits!  Finally, I would posit that eat a much greater variety of foods than most ominvores.  I didn’t know what quinoa or bulgur or winter squash or kale looked like until I became vegetarian, and now these items are kitchen staples. 

Anyways, I actually enjoy and appreciate questions and comments because it gives me a chance to think through my reasoning and most people are just genuinely curious.  I was the same way before I transitioned!  I don’t mean to sound smug or pretentious or know-it-all-ish, so please forgive me if this came across as a soapbox diatribe.

On a completely different subject, I’m off to enjoy the rest of a rainy Sunday with Season 3 of The Tudors.  Fantastic historical soap opera if you take it for what it is–soft-core porn loosely based on history.  I leave you with this photo of the world’s hardiest pansies.  I have not watered or fertilized these suckers since I planted them in September.  They’ve had 2+ feet of snow on top of them, but look, they’re still going strong! 

Still Going Strong!

Oh, and one final question.  KitchenAid mixers?  Worth the investment?  How are they better than a hand mixer?

Cake Cake Cake

March 13, 2010

My original plan was to travel down to metro-Raleigh, NC tomorrow to celebrate Amelia’s 27th birthday, complete with a vegetarian potluck photo montage.  However, the thought of driving 4 hours down I-95, in the rain, and 4 hours back was just physically and mentally exhausting and I couldn’t do it.  I know Amelia forgives me, but I feel guilty for missing fun times with fun people–but I rest assured that our next visit will be for longer and with more one-on-one time.  Besides, I can’t even summon up the energy to lift a vacuum handle this evening, so I feel I made the right choice.

On Wednesday, co-worker Bonnie mentioned she had a bunch of Whole Foods blueberries about to enter that squishy, need-to-be-tossed stage.  “Stop, stop!” said I.  “I will make you a cake.”  And I did.  Chocolate and blueberry bundt cake, a resurrected and reconstructed version of the Chocolate Cake from Vegan Table that I first made back in January.  Delightful!  What an unusual combination I had never considered before.  And luckily Bonnie totally didn’t mind that I cut a big slice for a photo op beforehand.  My hands were clean!  The only reason that co-worker Leslie was willing to share more of the cake with Bonnie is so that Bonnie will film another clip of her 2-year old, Thomas, singing while he eats his cake.  Guilty confession: I think I liked the batter better than the cake, but this is not new.  I was just reminiscing today about getting mad at my mom when I was little ’cause she was too good at scraping the brownie mix out of the bowl, leaving nothing worth licking.  Seriously, it’s a miracle I didn’t die from salmonella.  I swore up and down when I was grown up all I would eat for dinner was brownie batter.

Chocolate Blueberry Bundt Cake

Dinner on Thursday was a mix of friend Marc’s Meatless Tofu Patties and Ricki’s Easy Breakfast Sausage Patties (http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/2009/10/24/easy-breakfast-sausage-patties-and-biscuits-with-smoky-almond-gravy/) with mushroom gravy and a side of sauteed spinach with Creole seasonings. 

2 Types of Patties, Gravy, Spinach

Dinner tonight was a special occasion dinner–a rainy Friday dinner.  Mom soup!  Over Christmas my mom made 2 huge batches of soup for me, froze ’em, and I drove them from GA back to VA and stashed them in my freezer for nights like tonight.  This is calabacita stew with extra extra cilantro and spicy Rotel tomatoes.  Served with a side of beet greens.

Mom Soup and Beet Greens

Finally, a note about 2 books I’ve been reading, which happen to be written by sisters.  In Patterns in the Carpet by Margaret Drabble, I learned that the first “official” jigsaw was invented in 1766.  I also came across the name Kasse Fassett and discovered these fabulous textile prints.

Kasse Fassett Cauliflower

I really enjoy books that make me hop on Google for further research.  Today, while reading Possession by Margaret Drabble’s sister, A.S. Byatt, I came across this line and I’m noting it here because it has stuck with me: “…do not get in the habit of morbid Self-examination.  Nothing so unfits a woman for producing good work, or for living usefully.  The Lord will take care of the second of these–opportunities will be found.  The first is a matter of Will.”  And that’s my deep thought for the day!