Saturday, June 30, 2012

Falafel Dinner!

Weeks and weeks ago (I am way behind on blogs), Ashley and I were wandering around the store trying to come up with something to eat for a dinner.  On Friday I generally need to make enough food to have leftovers for at least a day to avoid not having enough to eat at work over the long hours of the weekend grind.  Out of the blue, Ashley recommended falafel.  Without hesitation, I agreed.

I often have an issue with the falafel holding together.  I think it is an issue with the oil not being hot enough and they begin to break apart.  This time, we (mostly) skipped the traditional shaping and just made it into crumbles.  They were actual much more conducive to using in wraps for work on the following days even though we used pitas for out Friday night dinner.

I also whipped up some nice cucumber sauce to go with them.  I changed both of the recipes around a bit and will try another round of them before I post a recipe update.  Falafel is great!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nacho ordinary meal!

Ashley was at my house recently and we were trying to make a food plan.  Both of us are generally indecisive and it take us awhile.  She wanted something with guacamole and I wanted something with vegetables and re-fried beans.  At least we were on the same page.

An hour later, we were sitting down with a massive plate of nachos.  These took forever to eat but with some diligence we were able to finish it all off.  After, it took a lot to move, we were so full.  It was worth it though, they were incredible!

For a snack, we took some one the double chocolate chip cookies and layered them with some cookie dough ice cream.  It was a great snack to follow up a great meal!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Falling Back...

Falling back on the easy foods, I have been rushed (and lazy) and eating a lot of prepared vegan mock meats.  Tossing in my own additions is common but they are still not my dishes.  They are still tasty meals but I really have been trying to get away from them a bit more.  I would much prefer some homemade dish.

Often, I get overly critical about using prepared ingredients in my foods.  Once, my oldest sister, Naomi, pointed out that most recipes you find have prepared ingredients.  Things like mayonnaise, mustard, soy sauce, bar b que, they are all prepared.  Sure, these can be made at home but more often then not, they are acquired from a store.  I guess I should not feel so bad about eating dishes like this.  Quick and easy is sometimes a necessity.

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's good to have good people around!

Busy and under the weather and people in my life always come through.  I have not had as much time to cook as I would like and some folks like Ashley, Patricia, and Jamie always come with foods to share.  It is a real morale booster when I seem to need it the most!  Thanks!

Cheezecake by Jamie

Veggie Soup by Ashley

Passion fruit Lemon aid by Patricia

Mock-Meatloaf by Ashley

Brownie Bites by Patricia

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dinner and the East Atlanta Farmers Market

Last week, Ashley and her daughter, Kaleigh, came for a visit.  The three of us have been getting together almost weekly for quite some time.  Kaleigh is a lot of fun and has really been a treat to be around.  She seems to be a picky eater though.  Ashley was for awhile though too.

I try to make familiar foods for her so she will give them a shot.  This time I tried an old recipe of mine, Peanut Butter Curry with Tofu.  Back in my Portland Oregon days, this was a common dish for me.  It is defiantly a favorite of mine and I think this was the first time Ashley had it.

Kaleigh struggled and did not eat much of it.  After dinner, we were looking for a park to attend when we saw that the East Atlanta Farmers Market was about to start.  We jumped in the car and headed over!

It was an outstanding blend of prepared food, produce, and activities.  There was a guy playing on guitars he made from boxes, another group showing kids how to make their own hula hoops, foraged mushrooms, vegan donuts, and even a specialty popsicle cart!

We had a lot of fun and I think we may go back again soon.  We did not bring much money so the only thing we got was a peach basil popcicle.  It was tasty though.

Friday, June 22, 2012



I have been busy and a little under the weather recently, which has caused me to neglect the blog world a bit.  I will get caught up eventually.  Promise.

At the end of my trip to Spain, my buddy Miak, introduced me to a new style of seitan.  I was intrigued and committed to mastering the dish myself.  I tried as soon as I got back without the success I was looking for (although hardly a failure).

Back on the task a couple of weeks later I tried again.  Again, not perfect but more what I was looking for then the previous attempt.  My struggle is currently with the ratio between lentils and gluten.  I am improving and will get there soon, I can taste it!

Monday, June 18, 2012

First Attempt at Bruschetta

I made my first attempt at bruschetta recently.  I have not had much experience with it in my life and one of the few times I have had it was when Jamie made it a month or two ago.  She shared a slice with me and it was really good.  I made a mental note then, to make it soon.

I do not think this is a traditional bruschetta but it was extremely good either way.  I may post a recipe after I make it another time or two.  It has such a rich hearty flavor.  It goes right along with my new growing interest in bell peppers.

I have been pretty busy with work and Real Estate so the cooking has been lack luster recently.  I will get back on it and have some new things to share soon.  I also put in for another vacation in August.  I am not sure what I will end up doing but it will be nice to be off from work either way!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Recipe: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

 After years of service, Jodi, one of my wooden spoons died.  It served me well, all over the country in all sorts of recipes.  Jodi was the name written of the end of the spoon in marker.  I have to assume that ther person who owned this spoon before me was named Jodi.  I found it in my youth while dumpster diving.  In fact, I have a whole line of dumpstered wooden cooking utensils, but Jodi was a favorite.  She will be missed.


These are a simple variation of the base for me s'mores cookies.  Nothing new and unique here but still a fantastic cookies to fill that plate for my bedtime snack.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of oil
1/3 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, add the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips, mix well.  Once the dry ingredients are mixed well, add the water, oil, and vanilla and fold until the dough is moist and thick.

Form into typical cookie shapes and bake for 15 mins.  Allow to sit on the baking sheet for an additional 5 minutes then place on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fighting Back Against the Souper Hot Atlanta Summer!

Soups are one of my favorite foods.  I really like the flavors as they meld together and form a unique blend.  I prefer pureed soups but will eat just about any type of soup.  There is something comforting about them.  As a child, if soup was on the table, it was from a can.  The only exception was chowder, in Maine, everyone eats chowder.

In Atlanta, hot soup is not really a summer dish.  One of the last things most people want to eat is a hot hearty bowl of soup when they are sweating in 95 degrees.  Me?  I crank up the air conditioning and eat soup!

Soup work out wonderful for me because it travels easy.  I can takes bowls of it to work and eat it for days.  I recently made one of my more hearty soups.  Black Bean and Corn Soup.  This seems to be a favorite among the few people who regularly eat my food, as well as a favorite of mine.  Not a very summer friendly soup but I am fighting back against the hot weather!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Kick!

As I mentioned in the last post, roasting has been on my mind despite the summer weather.  Roasting veggies for hummus seems to be a great compromise.  I made some roasted red pepper hummus for the jobby job's demanding summer hours.  It hit the spot.

Years ago, I was not into peppers much.  Over the last year I have been using them more and really enjoying roasting red peppers.  I realize this is something most people enjoy but it is new for me.  Amazing how, over the years, our taste buds change.

When I was in Spain, I ate more peppers then I have ever eaten in my life.  Red peppers were a common veggie in most dishes I ate.  There was something slightly different about the red peppers there.  I am not sure what it is but they were fantastic and I am on a total roasted red pepper kick.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Recipe: Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno Pepper Hummus

Now that summer is rolling full force here in Atlanta, I have been trying to eat lighter foods.  I really enjoy the oven and roasting all sorts of items but too often, in the summer month, it is simply to much.  Since taking back to back vacations, I have been working a lot at the jobby job, so I have been searching for some nice ways to make healthy meals for my "lunches".

Welcome hummus, a perfect solution.

Today, I even have a recipe to share, roasted one!  I was in the food for a bit of heat but wanted to be able to share the hummus with other folks so I needed to temper it a bit.  This is what I came up with (nothing unique but certainly tasty and easy):

Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno Hummus

1/2 of a jalapeno pepper (chopped)
15 oz of chic peas
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons of oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of tahini

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.  In a baking dish, place 1 tablespoon of oil with the cumin seeds, garlic, and jalapeno pepper.  Bake for about 5-8 minutes or until the garlic is beginning to turn golden in color.

In a blender, combine the chic peas, 1 tablespoon on oil, tahini, paprika, salt, water, and lemon juice and puree until relatively smooth.  If the blender gets stuck, add more water, a teaspoon at a time to loosen the mixture.

Once the garlic and jalapeno is finished roasting, add it to the blender with the chic peas and puree until smooth (or desire constancy).

This made about a weeks worth of vegetable wraps for me at work.  It was incredible and I was able to share some too.  It had a slight heat without being to much more people.  I spread a thick layer of hummus on a tortilla, topped it some some great fresh vegetable and balsamic vinegar.  They made amazing and easy wraps to take to work!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Florida Trip: Day Five; Farewell Cupcakes

It was our last day in Florida and my mum wanted to show us around the town a bit.  We drove around and got a few different views of the gulf coast.  We visited a few state parks and had a nice afternoon.

We stopped off at a tea house for some drinks.  We sampled about a dozen flavors of iced tea and each got our favorite.  It was a quaint little shop in the downtown area of Crystal River.  After lunch, it was time to pack the car up and head out.

I never enjoy say good bye to my mum.  I is always nice to see her and I wish it was more frequent.  My mum has done a lot for me in my life and tried hard to keep me making smart choices, even when I made it very difficult

On our way to Gainsville, we stopped at a number of thrift stores and had Kaleigh try to find specific items while I looked for vintage cookware!  Ashley and I are quite the tricksters!  Once in Gainesville we appeased Ashley's week long demand, we went to Sarkara Sweets.

They had so many varieties of cupcakes, it was pretty surprised.  We got a total of 6, each of the three of us picked 2.  I got a rose cupcake, Kaleigh got a creamcicle and a confetti, while Ashley got a french toast.  I do not recall the other two flavors we got.  They were great though.  The rose was amazing.

 After the cupcakes, Ashley wanted to see if there was a vegan place to get dinner.  We were directed about 4 blocks away to a vegan friendly restaurant called The Top, where we had a nice meal before a long drive home.  I had a seitan steak with some roasted vegetables.  Ashley had a falafel burger with seitan bacon.  We all shared a slice of chocolate cake after dinner.  Nothing like a bunch of sugar and 5 hours in the car!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Florida Trip: Day Four; the storm and lucifer

Day four was much more of a lazy day.  We got up when we woke up, with no rush.  I made some pancakes with the strawberries that we had picked on the way down to Florida.

After a late breakfast, we headed to Homosassa Spring Wildlife State Park.  This spot is minutes from my mums house and is always one of the highlights of the trip.  They have all sorts of animals that are being re-habed to go back into the wild including a Hippo named Lucifer!

The four of us (Kaleigh, Ashley, my mum and I) took a boat to the park and then started with visiting the manatees.  While waiting for the workers to feed Lucifer, we were attacked by a squirrel!  It was trying to get some chips that we were snacking on and jumped onto Kaleigh's lap!  Then, minutes later, jumped up on Ashley's leg, it was a bold squirrel.

We headed back to my mum's house after the park and I began to make some chilli.  My mum was asking me for a recipe so I thought I would make her some to freeze and so she knew how to make it.   While it was simmering, my mum volunteered to watch it while Ashley, Kaleigh and I went to a local beach in Crystal River.

We were not there long before the clouds began to roll in.  Then, it started to downpour, hard.  For a second, we thought it might be hail.  Ashley and Kaleigh started packing things up and running to the car.  Me?  I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.  I eventually realized that they were gone and I ran to the car, soaked.

That night we had chilli for dinner with a salad and some grilled corn on the cob.  The late basketball game was a nice way to spend our final night in Florida.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Florida Trip: Day three; Beumusement

Day three in Florida was another early morning.  Ashley and I were taking Kaleigh to an amusement park.  Personally, I enjoy amusement parks but have never been with a 5 year old.

We did not tell Kaleigh where we were going so when we pulled into the parking lot, her eyes widened and she said "we are going to a beumusement park?"  She was so excited.  Ashley told her the rules (stay with us, etc) and we were on our way into the park.  The first this we were confronted with was a flock of flamingos.  Kaleigh knew she was in for a good day!

We spend the first part of the day seeing lots of animals (feeding kangaroos) and watching Kaleigh go on a few kiddies rides.  Then we watch some little show that Kaleigh said was too young for her.  We rode a kids roller coaster a couple of times.  The we told her that since she was just barely 42 inches, we was able to ride a couple of adult rides.  We headed to a "river" ride.  She was slightly nervous as we loaded on the raft and she was the only kid on the ride or in line.  She was a champion though.  She sat with me and we got soaked!  She loved it!

She was ready for the big rides.  We hit a couple more, including a roller coaster then had a loop.  For the remainder of the day, she went back and forth about hating that ride and it being her favorite.

We were all starting to get hungry so we spent a bit of time finding a place that had some vegan options.  We finally did and they were very accommodating.  We saw all kids of things and had a great time.  Kaleigh did an outstanding job in paying attention, staying with us, and not complaining about anything.  I was shock, in fact, she was likely the best behaved person in our group of three.  Always impressed with her.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Florida Trip: Day Two; The beach

We got up early, packed the car up and were headed to the beach.  Living in Atlanta, we do not get access to the beach often. I was spoiled growing up in Maine, we were always less than an hour from the coast.  However, the beach in Florida if much different from the beach in Maine.  Maine is ice cold water along the rocky coast, Florida is bath water warm with white sand as far as I can see.  I prefer Maine's coast but I do still enjoy the ocean.

After an hour drive through rural Florida coastal towns, we arrived at Caladesi Island State Park.  I generally do not get in the water but conceded to play with Kaleigh.  She and I had fun in the water.  There was some seaweed in the water but it did not bother her, she played hard.

Ashley was making some sandwiches for us all to have for lunch when the seagulls came to inspect.  As my mum was eating her sandwich, a seagull swooped down, hit her in the head and stole her sandwich!  That was enough for me.  Already afraid of birds, I bolted.  I refused to eat anything as the rest of the group ate with blankets over their head.

We left the beach in the early afternoon and drive back to my mum's house. As we were driving back, we noticed that both Kaleigh and I had some sunburns.  Her sunburns were not too bad mine we my entire legs and tops of my feet.

After a quick dinner, Kaleigh swam in the pool for much of the night (sometimes with company).  My mum and I watched the basketball game and we made the plan for tomorrow.  It would be another busy day out in the sun.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Florida Trip: Day One; Strawberry arrival

Ok.  Florida.  Here we go!

Ashley was driving, she and her daughter Kaleigh picked me up at my house at about 930am.  We were off for our short adventure.  At 5 years old, Kaleigh has some trouble sitting still in the car for the full6 hour drive to Crystal River Florida.  We made a plan to stop half way there and pick strawberries.  We were the only people at the berry farm and lucky for us, they even had blackberries.  It was the first time Kaleigh picked strawberries and her face was covered in strawberries within minutes.  She knew how to do it right.

We spent about an hour or so at the berry field and had a quick lunch of PB&J and it was back in the car.  Kaleigh and I listened to all sorts of music on my mp3 player.  She fell in love with The Bengles, and also got into some good old anarcho-punk and Oi tunes, not to mention her usual interest in some post-punk folk music. (check the link for the specifics).

Once we arrived in Florida, Kaleigh got to walk the dogs with my mum.  My mum lives with 2 labs, one yellow the other black.  While Kaleigh walked, Ashley and I unpacked and rushed to the store to get supplies for dinner.

We made some simple pasta with garlic bread and a salad.  My mum roommates ate with us.  They are trying to make better food choices so they asked a lot of questions and loved the dinner.  After eating, as watched the basketball game, with a classic plate of my fries and went to bed.  It would be a week of early alarm clocks.