Monday, November 30, 2009

100th post!

Welcome to my 100th post! I have been blogging for just over a year now. So many changes in such a short amount of time. The recap consists of (in no particular order):

  • Moved to a swanky condo
  • Purchased a house
  • Completed a full re-hab on my new house
  • Began living with Tato
  • Redefined a two year long relationship with Jamie
  • Finished real estate school
  • Applied for a real estate license
  • Grew mutton chops
  • Took a ten day hiking trip through Idaho
  • Traveled to Los Angeles, New Hampshire and Maine to see friends and family
  • Vacationed in South Carolina and Florida
  • Turned 29 in Alabama
  • Began networking with other vegans again
  • Reconnected with several important people in my life

It has been a major year and it is all here, for readers to read and writers to comment on. My life in a blogroll. Whew. Sometimes it is nice to have a board to post my thoughts. Thank you all for a great 100 posts! 100 more to come!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Beet Soup

I had some left over beets from the potluck and Jamie was gone. Jamie does not like beets so I took the opportunity to make some soup! It was incredibly tasty and Jamie does not know what she is missing.

Beet Soup

1 beet (peeled and cubed)
1/2 red onion
2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
1 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of celery (chopped)
1 teaspoon of fresh dill
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of parsley
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt

In a pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add the beets. Boil until the beets are tender. In the meantime, heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add the onion, celery, dill, ginger, pepper, thyme, oregano, parsley, salt, and crushed red pepper. Cook until the onion and celery are tender and the onion is translucent. When the onion mixture is done, add it to the beets.

Put the beets into a blender (do not overflow or it will splash) and puree until smooth. This can be served hot or cold.

This time next week I will be moving into my house! Exciting.

My thanksgiving dinner as I ran out the door for work. Left over cranberry sauce, veggie burgers, and mashed creamy potatoes. Then it was a full day of time and a half. Bittersweet.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chicken Chickpea Salad

Chicken Chickpea Salad

1 stalk of celery (chopped)
12 oz of chickpeas
3/4 cup of vegan mayonnaise
1/2 cup of textured vegetable protein (TVP)
1/2 cup of not-chicken broth
1/3 cup of red onions (chopped)
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dulse flakes

In a small pot. bring the broth to a simmer and add the TVP. quickly stirring and turning the heat off. Let hydrate for about 10 minutes with the lid on. If you have the vegetarian chicken broth powder it may be easier to use this mixed with water, you can even toss some straight into the salad when mixing.

Strain and rinse the chickpeas and place in a large bowl. With a sturdy fork, mash the chickpeas. Some chunks are fine but you do not want whole peas. Once the peas are fairly well mashed, add the vegan mayonnaise, lemon juice, soy sauce, and hydrated TVP, and stir until well mixed. Once these are mixed, add the chopped onion and chopped celery and mix well. Add the ground black pepper, dulse (or salt if you do not have any), and garlic powder and mix again. Let chill for at least 30 minutes.

This has been a recipe that I have been trying to perfect for over a year now and I think I have finally settled on this recipe. It started off with all TVP, then I tried tofu and here I am with chickpeas and TVP. This is a very light and summer feeling food so here it is, posted on the 26th of November. Take it when you can get it. This has been a hit with everyone who has tried it and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Sauce

I made some stir-fry!

Spicy Black Bean Sauce

5 cloves of garlic (sliced)
1 cup of black beans
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of peanut oil
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of vinegar
1 teaspoon of chili paste

In a sauce pan, heat both oils and add half of the garlic. Before the garlic browns, add the black beans and mash then with a fork while in the pan. Once they are almost a paste, add the soy sauce and water. Stir frequently until the consistency is think but moist. Add the onion powder, vinegar, and chili paste and stir again. You may need to add more water. just be cautious not to dilute the flavor.

I added some dried tofu, green beans, zucchini, and lotus root. I was a very nice meal. It was a nice change from the normal brown sauce type stir-fry.

According to my contractor, I will be able to move into my house in the next few days. I took next weekend off from work to move my four pieces of furniture to the house and have a relaxing weekend. It will be a lot of fun to move in. Leaving Tato and Jamie behind will be sad but I am trying not to think too much about it. It is a lot of house for one person.

My floors are finished and look amazing! I am so excited about them and will be showing them off for a long time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raw Root Salad and Potluck

Sunday was a call out sick day at work and the day that I felt the worse this weekend. I put on my game face though, made some food and Jamie and I headed off to the November Vegan Lunch Meetup, which happened to be a potluck. Apparently, at these events, Jamie and I are still a couple, who knew? We brought potato salad, cranberry sauce, and a raw root salad.

Raw Root Salad

1 purple beet
1 golden beet
1 large carrot
1 parsnip
1 orange
1/2 of a turnip
1/2 cup of golden raisins
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon of red vine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon of oil
1 tablespoon of fresh dill
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper

Cut the beets, turnip, carrot, and parsnip into matchstick like pieces. Put into a large bowl. You may want to separate the purple beets from the rest so that the color does not bleed as much. I would also advise cutting the purple beet first.

In a bowl, combine the dijon mustard, oil, vinegar, lemon juice and red pepper. Mix until smooth. Then add the black pepper and dill and mix again until smooth. With a grater, remove the outer layer (zest) from the organge. Add to the mustard mixture. Then squeeze the juice from the organge and add to the mustard mixture. Stir until smooth again.

Gently, combine the purple beets with the rest of the roots and sprinkle on you rasians. Then drizzle the mustard dressing over the matchsticks and with you hands, gently mix evenly.

Once we got to the potluck the food began to pile up! So good. It was really fun and I can not wait to host some potlucks at my house when it is done!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Birthday Party!

I was looking back over my pictures and realized that I made a smoothie recently and took a picture. I am not sure when I made it or what was in it but I thought I would share the picture regardless.

Friday the 19th was a friends birthday. She wanted to go out to eat around 700pm with some friends but could not get a reservation. Ashley to the rescue! Impressively, she got on the phone and spoke with about 6 supervisors until someone finally gave her a reservation for 8 people. She paced on the phone while I wandered around and took pictures of random things and caught the master negotiator in action!

When we got to the restaurant, the host guy was kind of bitter about the reservation, but he got over it...or didn't. We sat, had shabby service for some decent food and fun conversation. It was fun to attend, as I do not often participate in these type of things. Generally I am a little too cynical and dry for people that do not know me well, but this one worked out. It was a really nice day, even if the Celtics lost.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maine Visit

Friday the 13th I spend the entire day in the Philly airport. It was a miserable experience. I have never had to wait for a flight for this long. Sad time and a wasted vacation day. I got into Maine around midnight. Back to my mum's and off to bed.

The next day I went to see my good friend Greta. We intended on going hiking. We could not find a suitable place so we went with the back up plan of heading to the coast, which we had trouble finding due to some faulty guidance from a grocery store cashier. We found ourselves on a dirt road just outside Freeport. We finally saw the ocean through some tree and behind some houses. We parked and began our trespassing journey. After walking past what seemed to be a vacant home and sliding down over a huge banking we were on the water. It was that great Maine ocean smell and air. I miss it. We wandered around for a bit before deciding to climb back up over the hill.

Once at the top of the hill, we peered into the windows of the house only to realize that there was an old woman looking at us. She began to call her dog and head to the door....we ran. Oh well. Adventures.

That night my mum, my mum's boyfriend, my brother, my sister, my sister's friend and I made the world famous English Muffin Pizzas! We also had some salads. Maine has very few options for the vegan crowd. Additionally, my families homes tend to not have the same in house staples I have at my home. This makes cooking a bit trying, like an episode of top chef. Often strange ingredients and a limited supply of time for something great!

Orange Dressing

1/3 cup of vinegar
1/3 cup of oil
2 tablespoons of orange juice
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of salt

Blend all ingredients together and chill for 30 minutes. The orange flavor will be noticeable but mild.

The salad was good as were the pizzas. I managed to find some soy cheese to use so that was nice.

That night my brother and I met up with Greta again and snacked on some chips waiting for my friend Adam to get off work. Things did not look good for the prospect and my brother had to work early the next day so Greta and I just went to watch a movie. Do not waste your time with 2012, it is even worse then you think.

Sunday was a day at my dad's. I spent most of the afternoon making dinner for the family and friends. My step mother, Sue Ann, is allergic to most everything, combine that with my veganism it really felt like a top chef quickfire. I made Spaghetti Squash with Chic pea Cakes and Asparagus (no soy, no wheat, no whey, no dairy, no meat, nothing spicy). It was a hit and very yummy. I made way to many cakes so it is good thing they enjoyed them...leftovers!

My dad and I beat up on the ladies in a brutal game of Robinson Uno! Good times. Then my dad and I headed off to the basement for a few games of pool. He is far better then I am but I got a few in.

That night I met up with Adam and we were in dire search to find someplace to hang out with some people he know from work. We ended up in Hallowell and watch some crazy people dance to a really bad dj. Oh Maine!

Monday was my mum's birthday. We took a road trip to Farmington Maine to see my sister, brother and my sister's 1 year old boy.
That night was the meteor show. Greta and I made plans to watch the show but ended up falling asleep. We woke up as it was beginning and it was uneventful and cold. I had such high expectations for the shower too.

Tue was my last full Maine day. I went to see Priscilla. She is kind of like a no-so-faux Grandmother. She has been a great person in my life. She taught me so many things about food and gardening. I wish I could keep more in touch with her but I seem to fail. We spent several hours talking. There are some people I miss too much.

It was off to another sister's house, Nikki. I had not seen Nikki in several years. She actually runs a daycare at her home. Some kid thought I was it's dad. I tried to explain the vasectomy but it was no use. I just kept gently pushing it away.

Off to my dad's again for dinner and a haircut. We made a simple stirfry with brown rice noodles. It was good and light. I spent the last night in Maine hanging out with Adam again and my good pal Tom came up to see me from Portland. Apparently, when playing trivia in Maine, you should know more Maine facts then we did. Dead last out of about 15 teams. Good times.

I flwe out of Portland Maine the following day around 330pm. I had time for one last visit. My long time friend, Jonny. He is one of the best people I have ever known. I can count on him for anything and I hope he feels the same. I love this little man. We met when he transferred into our school midway through out 7th grade year. The first thing anyone told him was, "stay away from Vic." Best friends ever since.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Los Angeles Visit

After a great 8 day vacation to see many people who are of great importance to me in my life, I have decided to break up the vacation update post into the two states. I went to California first, so that is what I will present to you.

I missed my flight and it delayed my trip by 3 hours. I was upset but it was not a crisis. When I finally got into LA, Laura was waiting for me. I have not seen her in almost 2 years and the visit was long over due. She is a major player in my life.

When I am in LA, I insist on going to Happy Family Vegetarian III. It is a guilty pleasure. Is the food great? Hardly. Is the decor fun? Far from it. Is it cheap? Not especially. Is the service amazing? Nope. I love this place because you can get the "all you can eat" combo. There is about 150 items on the menu that you can choose from. They range from squab to pork and every vegan thing in between. You order one plate at a time and when you are finished, they ask what your next plate will be. I get to try all sorts of weird mock meat items in small servings and I love it! It eat until someone stops me. Fun Fun Fun!

Oh...and Laura liked to poke her fingers or some eating utensil into my food photos! She is so silly.

That night Laura and I went to the Planetarium. To be honest, my interest level in a planetarium has been pretty low. However, Laura was right, this place it cool! I even got to find out how much I weigh on Mars! The night was clear so there were a ton of folks out. There was a great overlook toward the city if you are into that. We watched a 40 minute video that was narrated by some wandering dork. Great stuff!

Next day was Veterans Day and we did not realize it. We scrapped the Zoo and Universal City due to the crowds. We had a nice relaxing day just hanging out. We went to a bakery and got some vegan goodies.

Went to Truly Vegan for lunch. This is a place that was right down the street from where Laura went to school and were her old apartment was in Hollywood. Each time I have been out to see her, this is a spot we hit up.

Three years ago, Laura moved to Los Angeles to go to film school. She graduated and is doing very well. I am extremely proud of her. She currently has worked on every season of the Animal Planet show, Whale Wars. We had to stop by the Whale Wars studio for about an hour this night. I got to poke around and got a few nice pictures!

For dinner we went to Laura favorite Los Angeles Indian place, Paru's. We found this place a few trips ago when I visited her. It is a weird set up as you have to ring a door bell because the front door is locked. Then you head in and get seated way in the back and relax to enjoy a great Indian dining experience.

Day 3 was the an early lunch at Madeline Bistro. Vegan fine dinning. It was really tasty and fun. Then we stoped at Alternative Outfitters and I grabbed myself 2 pair of vegan shoes for only $86. I have been in the market for some shoes for awhile so this was a happy moment.
Then it was off to the zoo. I am anti-zoo, for the record. I also love to see funny animals. It is a conundrum. I will not bore you with silly animal pictures but I will tell a little story. Some of you may know, I am afraid of many animals. Mammals do not bother me and neither do insects. Birds however, I am confident are all waiting to peck my eyes from my sockets and fly away with them. The zoo was getting ready to close and Laura and I went back to the African Wild Dog display. These things were incredible and I am sure are even far more intimidating when actually in the wild. Anyway, on the edge of the display was a large bird. I was watching the dogs run around and Laura was taking pictures, when all of a sudden, this huge bird makes a crazy noise and tries to kill me. It flew straight at my head and at the last minute turned and flew into a tree. Laura caught a picture of my half excitement and half horror.

Dinner that night was at Vegan Lotus. I had never been, but Laura has stopped in several time. It is right down the street from where she get her motor scooter repaired. It was actually very good and will be a place I will return too.

Then it was off to Maine in the morning for a very different type of vacation. I left my water bottle in LA and had a panic attack at the airport. Laura overnighted it to me in Maine because I am crazy.