Archive for the ‘Eating Out’ 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

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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!

Booksale Mayhem and the Weekend in Review

April 18, 2010

On Friday evening I went to the Central Rappahannock Library’s booksale preview soiree.  I arrived on the dot at 7PM and the line was out the door.  At first, it was quite congenial–folks my age, retirees, parents with kids, all gathered to peruse and enjoy books.  However, chaos followed.  There were folks with dolleys, huge plastic tubs, handheld ISBN scanning devices, crazy people with Mom jeans, men with scary facial hair, women with skin that had possibly never seen the light of day, and old women who used their substantial girth to impede all traffic past them.  It was  a dorkfest.  And yes, I was there and realize that, by extension, I am a dork.  I only found a few books, nothing spectacular, and when I started getting the “ExCUSE me” tone, I knew it was time to leave.  So I hightailed it upstairs and helped myself to a plastic cup of cabernet sauvignon, put together a goodie plate with baked goods from the volunteers, and walked home. 

Speaking of books, one of my current reads is Jane’s Fame about how Jane Austen became one of the greatest authors of all time.  In honor of her, I’m watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as the hunka hunka Mr. Darcy.  I think the first time I watched it, I must have been way too young, because now it has me in stitches.  And even though I’m a happily married woman, I’d leave my husband for Mr. Darcy.  I guess that makes me a statistic.

So, some of my recent eats and treats.  I don’t pretend they’re pretty, but they were pretty good:

Orange Cauliflower With Curry Sauce

From Moosewood Low Fat Favorites, subbing silken tofu for the yogurt.  I like spicy, so I think I tripled the cayenne, belatedly realizing that the cayenne I’ve had for 2-3 years is still quite potent.  Next, Fat Free Vegan’s Omelette for One.  I love this omelette, but although I’ve made it several times, it never ever ever turns out as an omelette.  Why???  Am I not spreading it thin enough???  Is it because I just guestimate the TB of cornstarch???  The bottom is a lovely golden brown, but when I go to fold it over, it breaks and when I leave it alone, the top never cooks all the way.  Oh well, still yummy in MY tummy.  This one has swiss chard with onions.

Another from Susan at Fat Free Vegan.  Substituted thyme for ajwain and added chopped spinach.  This was a make-ahead for this week’s lunches.  Dal is one of those dishes that improves as a leftover.

The piece de resistance!  East Coast Coffee Cake from Vegan Brunch.  I don’t own it, but–sneaky sneaky–copied some intriguing recipes from the library’s copy.  I did a double-whammy, adding blueberries AND raspberry jam swirls.  Next time, I would bake it a tad bit longer and add more raspberry, but it was moist and delish.  I made the coffee cake because 1) I enjoy baking, 2) I’m trying to ‘eat down’ my pantry and freezer, and 3) I was meeting up with my friend Drew for lunch today.  Drew is a super duper secret squirrel and now that he’s moved to DC, I dont see him as often.  We met at Eileen’s, where I discovered, to my glee, that they now do lettuce wrap sandwiches.  Unfortunately, no hummus or bean spreads, but the very nice gentleman behind the counter let me know they did have avocado.  I felt kinda like a rabbit, with my sprouts and leaves, but a happy rabbit.

Part of My Bday Present From Kat--Cake Doneness Tester Thingy

And finally, what I am grateful for today–bananas, mangoes, and apples.  I eat ’em everyday.  Interesting sidenote: I did not eat bananas AT ALL until I was 25 and now I can’t live without them.  In fact, when I was little, I would flush my bananas down the toilet and my parents didn’t catch on for years until the potty finally backed up and the plunger brought up my nanner.  In fact, I was at Giant Grocery at 6AM the day the big snowstorm was supposed to hit, raiding their stock of bananas to ride me through.  On that note, what did you abhor as a kid and now you can’t get enough of?  Or, what did you like then and won’t eat now?  I can think of plenty of things I loved as a kid–Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies, sausage gravy, Fritos, butter, MEAT–that I wont eat now because I know it’s the devil, but nothing comes to immediately to mind as something I just don’t like the taste/texture of.

Pyramid of Gloriousness

Sayonara Sunday.

Birthday Girl Returns, No Worse For Another Year

April 12, 2010

The Birthday Girl has returned!  I don’t mind getting older, but I would like to pretend I’m 25 and holding steady, at least until I win Miss America, which has an age limit.   I believe a recap of my trip home to GA to celebrate my appearance on the planet as well as that of my little brother’s (3 years and 5 days after mine) is in order…

I flew from Richmond to Atlanta on Thursday evening.  On Friday I enjoyed a mom/daughter day with pedicures, Scott’s Antique Market (where my mumsey got me this super cool trivet), REAL Mexican food, topped off with a build-your-own salad from Mellow Mushroom and a few episodes of Blackadder with Dad.

Circa 1951

I also got to talk to my husband for approximately 25 minutes.  It’d only been, oh, 19 days without any communication, but who’s counting?  Not me!!!!!!  Only 6 weeks, plus or minus, to go.  Poor boy has poison ivy over 3/4ths of his body.  The joys of playing GI Joe.

On Saturday, I drove to Atlanta to meet my best lady, Katherine, at West Egg Cafe (http://westeggcafe.com/) and she surprised me with a bundle of kitchen goodies!  A crinkle knife, cake tester, silicon spatula, and veggie knife.  I think my husband might have issues with additional sharp objects finding their way into my paws without proper supervision, but does anyone need anything crinkle cut????  Pretty please??  How ’bout now??  For lunch, I enjoyed the tofu scramble with grits, followed by a Coca-Cola cupcake.  You know the sign of a good girlfriend get-together: you both leave thinking you talked the other’s ear off.  I only get to see my BFF every few months, and I miss her.  She came all the way from Chattanooga for our gab fest, which means a lot.  Not as much as the crinkle knife, but a lot.

I drove back south with the windows down, Z93 blaring on the radio, enjoying the sun and the wisteria and dogwoods and missing Atlanta.  Who would recognize Northside Drive in the 4 years since I’ve been away???  I know I say it EVERY SINGLE TIME, but I want to come back to Atlanta.  Sigh…for the days when I went to GA Tech and worked at The Carter Center and had no money and couldn’t afford to do anything fun or eat good food.  But moving on.  In the afternoon, Mom and I indulged in a girly shopping fest in Peachtree City.  We met up with the boys for dinner at Red Robin followed by Date Night starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell.  The funniest and most memorable lines are not repeatable here.  Try explaining to your mother why googling “pop that c–tchie” is not acceptable to repeat to your elementary school teacher friends without getting too descriptive.

Sunday was Flip Burger Boutique gloriousness!!!!  http://www.flipburgerboutique.com/  Our waiter approaches and asks if we have any questions.  Me: “Yes, does the warm Moroccan cauliflower salad have dairy”.  Him: “Yes, in the butter sauce, but it can be made without.  Do you have a dairy allergy?”  Me: “No, vegan”.  Him: “Ohh, well we can make the cauliflower with olive oil and the special burger of the day happens to be the Gardenburger which you can get in a lettuce wrap and don’t worry about the Flip whip, it’s actually tahini sauce, not mayonnaise.”  Me: “You did all the work for me”.  He got a good tip.  And that was the BEST damn Gardenburger I’ve ever had.  I also snuck some of my mom’s tempura okra and my dad’s fries and, I’m not ashamed to admit, totally had a Nutella and burnt marshmallow milkshake and some of my bro’s banana pudding milkshake.  It was my birthday!!!!!!!!!!  Good god, it was good.  Afterwards, we stopped by the State Farmers’ Market and got some more champagne mangoes because my family ate all of mine.  I heart champagne mango season (March-July, mark your calendars!). 

In the afternoon I made another batch of PPK sweet potato blondies, this time with no nuts and actual mashed sweet potato instead of pumpkin puree.  Even better!!!!!!!  My little brother is chincey with compliments, but he made my wittle heart swell.  I made the blondies at his request so he could take them back to Athens to share with his roomate and friends.  I gave him one to taste test before wrapping them in tinfoil for transport.  Me: “What do you think?”  Brudder: ::Deep sigh:: “Well, they didn’t kill me.  I find them acceptable.”  Me: “Keeper?”  Brudder: “I wouldn’t turn them down.  Oh, and I could put the hurt on some more of that blueberry cake you made.”  This is high praise indeed.

 After a few more episodes of Blackadder and an early wake up call, I’m back in Virginia and reality.  I was ‘surprised’ by a delivery of flowers from my husband, seen here with the lilacs I “borrowed” from my neighbors’ bush.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the grind and making my own food.  4:42AM, bleck.  Oh well, the end of the rainbow is in sight!  This week I’m looking forward to the Friday library booksale preview for Friends of the Central Rappahannock Library System (with light refreshments, yippee!), a lunch with friend Drew, FBI Agent extraordinaire, and further down the road, my next family trip to Wilmington, NC.   I leave you with Little Kitty, aka Re-Re. 

My Dad's Favorite Child