Friday, November 30, 2012

Soul Veg in my kitchen!

As a resident of Atlanta for over 8 years now, I have come to adore some of the local vegan fare.  When I first arrived as a carpet bagging northerner, I was not much of a fan of the local favorite, Soul Vegetarian.  It several all vegan southern soul food.  The yankee in me felt this was a bit heavy and it took me a few year to realize how special this place was.  Now it ranks as a favorite in the Atlanta area.

As an homage, I recently made my own Soul Veg dinner to share with both Ashley and Jamie.  It was right off their menu, Bar B-Que seitan, mac & cheeze, candied sweet potatoes, corn bread and I even added a salad with their beloved price dressing.  For an at home meal, this was pretty spot on.  It was actually a lot of fun to re-create such an Atlanta favorite for the night.

I am sure that the Atlanta locals who find their way to this post will appreciate the joy of having soul veg in your kitchen!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reason to celebrate!

In the past couple of months, I have been doing a lot of Real Estate work.  In fact, today I just finished another closing.  I like to celebrate my closings with a cake from Southern Sweet Bakery but I have opted to try and cram money into my savings to buy more investment properties. 

Since I have opted out of cake buying (although I may reverse that choice, those cakes are amazing!), I baked my own.  I used my basic chocolate cake recipe.  I did mix it up a bit, I added cinnamon to the batter and even some hazelnut to the icing!  As good as the bakery cakes are, this was certainly a nice substitution.

I have really been unhappy of the past few years at the jobby job.  I do not like to use the forum to complain so I generally do not mention it.  I have been putting in long hours with some outstanding results over the past year and I think there is some light at the end of the tunnel.  It is very exciting and I can not wait for the new page to turn.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Deli Slices!

With so many hours spent at work recently, I have been brainstorming some meal ideas that are easy to transport and filling.  Since all the people I know are eating hearty and flavorful foods this time of the year I did not want to settle for hummus wraps or something similar.  I wanted something parley a bit.

I opted to make my own deli slices to take sandwiches.  I have made deli slices in the past and I decide to work on a new recipe.  It came out really well but I want to make a few minor tweak prior to posting a recipe.

I have recently been fantasizing about having more time to cook and be outside.  I am going to try to make some time, it makes me feel so much better.  Until then, the deli slices and the double batch of mac & cheeze will have to do!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Money Machine!

Ashley and Kaleigh recently sold cookie dough for Kaleigh's school.  She really wanted to earn the 30 sale prize.  Within a couple of days, she had sold 34 items!  Her prize was 1 minute in a money machine.  It seemed like a strange concept for a 5 year old but she was extremely excited about it.  It was a riot to watch her grabbing the dollar bills that were flying around her head.  She got $23 for her efforts and put it in her piggy bank.  She is such a great kid!

That evening, we made breakfast for dinner!  It was pancakes, home-fries, and some soy sausage.  It was a great and unique day for all of us!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thrifty Muffin Eater!

I have always been a bit of a miser but recently I have really been on the look out for bargains when I am out and about.  Typically I just try to avoid buying anything but now I have upped it to when I absolutely need to buy something, I try t oget the best deal possible.

Recently I was stopping into a natural food store when I spotted a bag of about 7 bananas that were very brown and only 75 cents!  I snatched them up and immediately thought of banana bread!  After considering it for a bit on the ride home, I opted for banana pecan muffins instead.  They were easier to take to work on the long holiday shifts.

With so many bananas, I was able to make a double batch.  I had so many muffins in the house it was insane.  I was giving them to friends and co-workers just so they would not go bad.  It was great, everyone loved them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow Cooker in the Kitchen!

A few weeks ago, Ashley and I got talking about her busy schedule or work, school, single mom, etc.  She was feeling like cooking healthy meals for her and her daughter, Kaleigh, was slipping away from her scope of priorities.  Understandable.  The more we talked about it the more I realized that a slow cooker might be just want she needed to help.

We searched all the different features and brands and made a purchase.  Right away Ashley began to use it.  In fact, I have even had it at my house for a few times to help develop some easy recipes that she might enjoy.  I have gotten the advantage of eating some fantastic food.

As a child, my mum occasionally made pot roast in her slow cooker.  Ironically, none of us were a big fan of the dish and my mum never ate red meat, to this day I am not sure why she made it.  That was my entire experience with a slow cooker though.  This is all new territory for me.  I may even post a few slow cooker recipes, they can be very creative!

My Fajita Soup with Seitan

Ashley's Jambalaya

Ashley's Tortilla Soup

My Channa Masala

Friday, November 16, 2012

Atlanta VegFest 2012

Before it is too far gone, I wanted to mention my afternoon at Atlanta Vegfest.  I realize that all the other Atlanta bloggers have already covered the event far better then I did, so I will be brief.  It was a great time, I found some new vegan options in the Atlanta area, got more samples of items that I can recall, and watched some entertaining speakers.

Some of the highlight were watching a food demo on making seitan.  Everyone has their own take on the wheat meat so it is always fascinating to see what other people concoct.  Another highlight was the outstanding vegan gelato.  It was incredible.

We arrived shortly after it opened (Ashley and I had to hop a train - literally - to get in) and it was packed!  Hundreds of vegan, vegetarian, and veg-curious people were all over the place.  There was barely room to stand!  It was a great time and Leigh (formerly of Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe) put the event on and did a wonderful job.  We had a great time!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Halloween: Trick-or-Treating and Pumpkins!

I have been pretty busy recently and it has created a back log of posts that should be up.  I will try to catch up over the next couple of days.  Things are going well, just busy.

Halloween (I know, still posting about October), was great this year.  It was one of my favorites as a child and as I grew older I have missed the excitement.  Fortunately for me, I have a 5 year old named Kaleigh that I get to spend time with!  Rightfully, she still gets excited about Halloween and I was invited to go trick-or-treating with her this year.  It was so much fun to see her run from house to house getting treats.  Things have changed a lot from when I used to go in rural Maine but it is still a blast!

A few days prior, Kaleigh, Ashley and I carved their pumpkin.  We did it free hand, since none of us are artists, we were fairly please with the results.  It also gave me the chance to make my Paprika Pumpkin Seeds, which Kaleigh gobbled up and even took a baggie to school the following day for her snack.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Smoky Mountains: Day 4; Clingman's Done & Cherokee

Sunday morning was another early rise for Ashley and I.  It was time to head back to Atlanta.  On our way out of the park we decided to stop at a very touristy spot called Clingman's Dome.  It is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and has several impressive overlooks.  We had not been there before and thought it might be worth a look.

The drive was dangerous, the fog was thick and we were concerned that once we got to the top, we would not be able to see anything.  It also looked like a storm might be rolling into the park.  When we got to the parking area, we clearly saw why this was such a famous spot.  Even in the dense for on a cloudy day, the views were spectacular.

We stayed up on the dome for quite some time and watched the fog roll from one side of the park to the other.  We saw the fight try to claw its way through the incoming rain clouds.  It was quite a morning.

After we left the dome, we went to Cherokee, North Carolina.  Cherokee is one of only 2 remaining Cherokee Indian Reservations.  The poverty as your leave the USA boarder and come to reservation territory is depressing.  It is amazing how much damage we have done.

In the reservation, there is another waterfall.  It is about 120 feet and is called Mingo falls.  We had been there once before but this time it was fairly crowded so we did not stay long.  It was time to head back to Atlanta, our mountain vacation was over.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Smoky Mountains: Day 3; Grotto and Laurel

Saturday was the last full day in the mountains that Ashley and I would spend.  We got up early in the morning, with sore legs we headed to the Grotto Falls hike.  It was a fairly short hike to a small falls.  Grotto Falls is unique in that you can walk in behind the falls.  It might be one of the few falls I have been to where that was encouraged. 

As we started our hike, the weather got incredibly cold and the fog rolled in heavily.  There were times where we could not see more then 30 or 40 feet in front of us.  It was intense but made for some really interesting pictures.  It was one of the better hikes i the Smokies that I have been on.  Very serine, despite it being extremely easy.

That evening, we headed out to another easy hike to Laurel Falls.  This is on a paved trail and is likely on of the most popular hikes.  The falls in nice and there are a couple of decent overlook along the way.  We turned in early due to the long drive the following day back to Atlanta.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Smoky Mountains: Day 2; Rainbow Falls and The Sinks

There are several benefits to getting up early in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  For Ashley and I, the two biggest are beating the crowds and having the pure morning sun hit the mountains and foliage.  The first light really makes everything pop.

Once again, we got up before the sign rose and headed into the mountains, this time the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.  We drove around it on our last day in the Smokies two years ago but never got to hike to any of the falls.  This year we made it a priority and our first trail was to Rainbow Falls. 

In the summer, the falls has an 80 foot straight drop and can form a rainbow.  This time of year, it has significantly less water and no rainbow.  Fortunately, the hike was gorgeous.

There were massive old growth trees jutting through the forest barriers.  Several had come down, we while we were talking some photos of on, Ashley spotted several deer walking right past us!

After the hike, we continued on the remaining portion of the motor trail.  People were flowing into the park heavily now and we both needed a nap.  After some nice pictures and scenic overlooks we headed out of the mountains to get some rest and eat lunch.

That evening, as the sun was waning, we went to a favorite spot of ours, The Sinks.  It is not so much a falls as just a spot of rushing water.  It is a relaxing and generally low population area that is accompanied by a beautiful drive.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Smoky Mountains: Day 1; Cades Cove

Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite spots.  Interestingly, I would have normally avoided a place that drew so many tourists and was mainly seen in a car but it has been a favorite for years.  The alarm went off at 5am, out the door at 5:30am, arriving at Cades Cove gate at 6:15am, Ashley and I were ten cars in and the gates did not open until 7:40am.

The Smokys are named after the dense fog that hangs throughout most of the morning, reminiscent of smoke.  We rode through the first time and got some interesting photos of the foggy sunrises.  We spotted dozens of deer and turkeys on the 11 miles loop.


We took a second trip around shortly after finishing our first and immediately spotted a bear eating in a tree.  The sun was fully up now, peering over the mountain tops splashing light onto the remaining foliage.  We saw a second bear down a side road and even spotted a coyote in a field!

That evening we went to a local pizza shop that had a vegan cheese option.  Nothing special but in the heart of eastern Tennessee, the pickings are slim.  That evening we returned to Cades Cove for a night hike.  We heard numerous coyotes howling around us and saw bats flying over our heads.  It was pretty amazing, we even saw a second coyote as we were leaving the park for the night.