Monday, January 26, 2009

Art House and New Foods!

This was a big weekend. Friday night Jamie had the opening at the Art House. This was a scavenger hunt project that around 375 people submitted pieces. Out of people, Jamie actually had 4 pieces on display in the show. They complied some of the entries into a book. In the book she has 2 pieces, one of which is an entire page unto itself. There are only two full page images in the book. The above picture includes the paper map house that Jamie made for the word "Home". It was a fun night! Her mom came up from Columbus and I made dinner for the three of us.

I made Channa Masala and a Thai Lemongrass Coconut Soup. I generally cook Asian foods so Indian comes fairly easy. I have made many variations of Masala and Mutter in the past. Someday I may post the recipe if people care. I had never made a Lemongrass Soup before. In fact, I had never worked with lemongrass at all. Our new apartment is in the middle of the asian part of town so I jump at the opportunity to buy fresh lemongrass at the local asian market. From there is was simple.

Thai Lemongrass Coconut Soup

14 oz of Coconut Milk
1 stock of lemongrass (cut into 2 inch chunks)
1 cup os subtle vegetable broth
1/2 tablespoon of fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon of onion
1/2 tablespoon of fresh garlic
1/2 cup of oil (sesame works well)
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon curry powder

Take the chopped lemongrass and broth and bring to a boil. Leave the lemongrass in large chunks so that you can scoop them out later. The broth you use should be a subtle flavor as most of the flavors are fragile. Allow the lemongrass to boil for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the coconut milk. Stir frequently as the coconut milk willdevelop a "skin". In a skillet saute the ginger, garlic, oil and onion until soft. Add in the curry and tumeric as the onions are close to translucent. Add the onion mixture into the simmering liquid mixute and let simmer for another 20 minutes. Scoop out the lemongrass chunks and serve.

After a heart meal and a night at the Art House we came back to the apartment and watched The Waitress with Jamie's mother and Tato. I fell asleep and apparently ate a cookie in bed. Heh. What are you gonna do? I had a long day!

Then it was two grueling days at work. Nothing worth noting so I wont bother.
Today I had the day off and got a few things done. Nothing major but things that needed to be completed. For dinner I made some vegan Chickin Fingers and steamed veggies. I threw together some hot sauce and we were in business. Seitan is fun.

While I was making the seitan I realized that I still had a bunch of zucchinis that were starting to go bad. I quickly threw together some outstanding zucchini bread!

Updated recipe here.
Zucchini Pineapple Bread

3 vegan egg substitues
1 cup olive oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 cup of crushed pineapple
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375. Throw all the dry ingredients together and mix. Add the zucchini and vanilla and mix. Then mix the pineapple (dont forget the juice!), eggs substitue, and oil. Pour into greased loaf pan and put in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Stick with a tooth pick to be sure it is done. Let it cool for 30 minutes of a rack and enjoy!

Tato is enjoying the new place as well as Jamie and I.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Wrestler

I made some overtime last night at work and got a chance to see the new Darren Aronofsky film, The Wrestler. The film is outstanding.

The Wrestler:

In a year littered with big budget fluff and a re-birth of women based comedy-dramas the quality films have been few and far between. A few gems at the close of the year leave me wishing that this was just the beginning. However, The Wrestler would stand head and shoulders above most films in any year. As many have said, Mickey Rourke give the performance of a lifetime. The is not the resurrection of Rourke, this is in fact a birth. We have never seen Rourke like this. His range is jaw dropping. As great as Rourke is, the unsung heroine here is Marisa Tomei. Every seen she is in leaves you wanting more. A true supporting actress, her acting allows you to empathize with Rourke even more. The story is gut wrenching and easy to associate with. The cinematography is some of the best work this year topped only by Blindness. Aronofsky uses his typical pacing to convey much of the story without browbeating the viewer with dialog. The story is told through facial expression and the cinematography. If Rourke and Tomei do not both win an Oscar for this film I will be furious.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New place and White Chocolate

Not unpacked but, all moved into the new apartment. It is a bit smaller then the last and sometimes feels like a tight fit. We expect that once we get fully unpacked it will not feel as cramped. The kitchen is still the high point. The hardwood floor, granite counter tops, lots of cabinets, and a huge pantry gives it a great feeling.

Tato is getting accustomed to the new place. He thinks all the empty boxes are his toys and he loves to look out all the windows. Last night in a dire attempt to find my camera we took a drive with Tato. He feel off the dashboard several times but still had fun. Jamie and I had a good laugh watching him enjoy his car ride.

I cooked for the first time in the new place last night. I made some vegan Alfredo and garlic bread with a cauliflower and carrot slaw. I wiped up some great white chocolate chip cookies too!

White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup of vegan butter
1/2 cup of shortening
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 vegan eggs (egg replacer of your choice - bananas work well here)
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
3 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of white chocolate chips (non-white will work too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and shortening, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vegan egg substitute, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until light brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Well, that is about it for now. I had a few job interviews this week and we will see what comes from them. Might be some additional changes in the future. Hopefully it will all pass without error and the stress will lift.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kitty name, new apartment, cosmo's and guerrilla graffiti.

Another weekend comes to a close. It seems that we may have found a new apartment on Saturday. I will drop some pictures off here later this week. The place is really nice and affordable. The kitchen is amazing. It is completely redone. Granite counter tops, all electric, brand new stainless steel appliances, glass doors, hardwood floors, the whole package. We should find out either Monday or Tuesday if we will get the place. Fingers crossed.

It seems we have decided on a name for our new roommate. Tato. As in Potato minus the "Po". It just seems to flow easily and he acts like a potato-head often enough that it works. For all of you wondering what the name might finally settle on, there you have it, Tato.

Two days at work was unpleasant. Today I had the day off and we decided to take a quick trip to Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe. We got some white chocolate chips and some other random fun stuff. Look for some of these items to be used in recipes posted here soon, maybe after the move.

On the way to Cosmo's we passed a wall of really nice guerrilla graffiti. There are some pictures below. Personally, I think that the risks people take to illegally post their artwork is inspiring. Art should not be limited to the comfortable and risk free cultures that we embrace socially. Graffiti has just as much social and cultural significance as any other type of artwork. Take a look and become inspired.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Another day, another meal

The last few days have been a bit stressful. My job is up in the air, school is starting again, we need to move, etc. It will all pass eventually and it will not be the end of the world, but regardless, it is still an annoyance.

On the other hand, I have been doing some cooking surprise there! The other night I made Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa and Veggies. It came out really well. Lots of fresh parsley. I also roasted some brussel sprouts as a side dish. As a side not - when I make stuffed squash I roast the squash halves in orange juice instead of water. It gives it a nice tart flavor wo combine with the normal sweet and nutty flavor of the squash.

Later that night I got bored after Top Chef. I threw together some cherry muffins. I had never made cherry muffins before and did not know what to expect. I think next time I will add a bit more sugar as I like my baked goods very sweet. Otherwise, this was very good. Lots of fun and a tasty treat to take on the run, something I am doing too much recently.

Last night I threw together some old school food. Put it all in the pot and cook it. This is your basic "Cook at the Veggies before they go Bad Soup" minus the soup. I took some of all the veggies I had in the house - brussel sprouts, potatos, zucchini, summer squash, garlic, onion, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Tossed in some al dente millet, veggie broth, tomato paste, and roasted on 400 until it looked yummy and the millet was done. Yum!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lazy day off

A relaxing day off lead to picking up a futon cover. Concerns about the new roommate getting hair all over the place arose. Simple solution, a nice futon cover. There has been much discussion about apartments today as well. We have looked at a dozen or so places and a few have really stood out. We will see how it all pans out.

For diner we had some seitan cutlets with a great little salad. A simple mixture of beans, rice, and veggies makes it a flavorful cold or hot dish.

Beans and Rice Salad with a Lime Vinaigrette

3/4 cup of rice
3/4 cup of water

12 oz of northern white beans
12 oz of black eye peas
2 cups of steamed veggies (I used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green peas and corn)

3/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 of a fresh lime

Boil the Rice until tender. Take the beans and black eye peas and chill. In a food processor, mix the vinegar and garlic, puree. When the garlic is completely chopped, add the oil, mustard, pepper, and squeeze the juice from the fresh lime. Puree again, about 1 minute. Pour half of the vinaigrette into the beans and mix. When the rice is complete, pour the rice and veggies into the beans. Add the remaining vinaigrette mixture to the dish and carefully mix thoroughly.

Late in the evening, I threw together some blueberry muffins.

As my life settles more food will churn out.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A week in the life...

It has been a long week. Typically, this is a busy week for me at work and this year was no exception. Although I was at another theater for the Christmas weekend, it has still been hectic. The heat in our apartment has still been less then functional. The leasing office gave us back our December rent for the trouble. Also, they are checking with their corporate office to see if we can get out of our lease early. I have s gut feeling they will say no, but we have been apartment shopping regardless. See some nice stuff and some dumps.

The other day I had time to make another peanut butter pie. Jamie, who rarely eats sweets, loves this pie. That makes it easier for me to make since I will not have to eat it all myself. It is a real shame when I am forced to eat an entire pie or cake alone. :)

Yesterday morning, we headed to Atlantic Station to catch an early show of Clint Eastwood's new film, Gran Tarino. Jamie did not have much interest in watching it but went along anyway - what a good sport! This was like Dirty Harry in the suburbs. Clint Eastwood was funny and mean whole still remaining sweet and charming. The film may have been a bit to quirky to get legitimate Oscar attention. I would like to see Clint get a Best Actor nod for it though. Some of the dialog was hard to stomach due to the overt racism and some of the acting from his co-stars was sub par. Overall, it was a good film worth watching. I personally can not think of another 80 year old actor that can pull off this type of badass role.

Yesterday I tried my hand at another variation of Country Fried Chickin. I am determined to master this! The wheat gluten will not get the better of me. This came out much better then the last attempt. I am still not completely satisfied, so you get no recipe. Sorry. However, we also made some sweet potato fries and those were, as the kids say, "off tha chain - yo". After last night, I would not recommend "deep frying" without an actual deep fryer. We used just a regular pan and it resulted in numerous catastrophes. Both Jamie and I ended up with oil burns and bubbling oil got spilled all over the floor. To keep the cat out of the room, and protect his feet, we had to shut him in the back room. Of course we were out of paper towels so we had to run to the store. It was a sloppy experience, but none the less, and valuable one. We did end up with a nice meal, so the evening was not a total loss.