Posted tagged ‘food’

Bye-bye, Vegan… Bye-bye.

February 29, 2012

5 months.  Not too bad for an experiment that was supposed to last 21 days.  But, ultimately, veganism and I  parted ways on Valentine’s Day 2012.

Many, many good things came out of my being vegan for a bit…. not the least of which is my newfound ability to mix in a salad now and then.  I eat much better than I used to.  I realize that the food choices I make have an impact on animals and on the environment.  I am simply more aware.

But I missed the social aspects of eating.  I already don’t drink (which is a wise, wise choice on my part…), and cutting out another social outlet (like gathering for a meal) felt really isolating.  In all of Tampa, there was one restaurant where I could get brunch… and they serve vegan brunch once a month.  If we lived in a bigger place, with more vegan options, I know I could have made it work.  But we don’t, and ultimately I decided that, for this girl, being a vegetarian who enjoys vegan food now and again is enough.  And, boy, does being a vegetarian seem super easy now!  The freedom!  The choices! Whoa!

But I do miss the vegan community.  And to celebrate them, tonight I will enjoy a vegan oatmeal raisin cookie from Whole Foods.  Everyone, raise your almond milk!  (No, for real.  I love almond milk)

 

Chana Masala (Yowza!)

January 26, 2012

Indian food feels comforting.  The aromatic spices seem warm, alluring.  And, Indian food offers quite a few vegan options.  So, as I shuffled through some recipe options online, this recipe for Chana Masala popped out at me.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, and the recipe seemed easy enough for a week night.  Yeah, my algorithm for dinner selection isn’t too complicated…

I breezed through the recipe.  After mincing onions and garlic and grating the ginger (which is by far the hardest part), the recipe comes together in about 15 minutes.  Rad.

But… YOWZA!  This Chana Masala really packs some heat!  I like spicy.  Really, I do.  But dang this was hot!  What’s more, I felt like it was hot without the heat really enriching the flavors.  Maybe my cayenne is too hot (I put 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/2, and it was still way too hot).  AND, I left out the green chili because I couldn’t figure out exactly which pepper I needed at Publix.  Yeah, I also have no qualms about dropping seemingly superfluous ingredients out of recipes… don’t ask me how that usually works out for me.  But still… so hot.

Amy didn’t eat it at all.  Jane (our almost one year old) ate quite a few bites before she opted for the palate cooling pear & mango baby food instead.  I ate a whole bowl, but I had to have two pieces of buttered bread to help me along.  I was bummed this was so hot; I really liked the flavors.  Unfortunately, Amy didn’t like the flavors either, so this is the last time Chana Masala will make an appearance in this house.  (Sad trombone)

I say totally give this recipe a try… but start out with a pinch of cayenne.   Otherwise… FIRE! FIRE!

Avoiding a Food Coma

January 23, 2012

Some out-of-town family visited recently, and one of them (who I am rather fond of), looked at me and said, “I mean… since you became a vegan, is there any food you get really excited about?  Do you ever think, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to have that?!'”

Of course, the only thing I could think of off of the top of my head was the “What’s the Dilly, Philly?” from Ethos.  It’s not that there isn’t lots of good vegan food out there.  But I don’t live in a big vegan market… so going out to eat is difficult.  Unless I am hitting up the Taco Bus, which is fast becoming one of my favorite haunts.

So, yeah… there is still food I get really excited about.  But more than that, what her question brought to the forefront is “Why would I eat food I am not excited about?”  Fortunately, only one food item in my current repertoire falls into the “not jazzed about” category:  Boca Original Vegan Burgers.  I know some folks love them… but I have to drown them in sauce to eat them.  That, my friends, is no way to live.  So, I bought these:

 

Exciting, no?  I kind of can’t wait to try them.  Lunch tomorrow, baby. It is ON!  I am even going to splurge for an out of season tomato and some decent lettuce.

Cross your fingers for me.  I really want a burger to add to my list.

So What? I’m Still a Rock Star

January 12, 2012

Amy and I got a hall pass for the night.

We haven’t been out together without Monkeybutt in months.  It sucks to ask someone to babysit in the evenings.  Jane goes to bed at 6:30.  So, basically, we are asking someone to come over and sit in our house while the baby sleeps.  And we don’t even have cable.

But tonight, a friend launched his magazine The Local Dirt.  We decided to go out and support his endeavors to raise awareness about local and sustainable foods in the Tampa area.  Amy’s folks came over to sit in our house, not play with Jane and not watch cable.  And Amy and I headed out to party it up in Ybor City.

Okay, okay.  Partying it up for me means seeing a few old friends, drinking some icy ice water and taste testing the salsa from our friend’s new salsa company.  By the way, the Mango Habanero had a lovely smoky and spicy taste.  Definitely my favorite of his offerings.

Anyway, after the par-tay, I was starving.  Just like old times leaving Ybor, except I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t climbing into a cab, and I still remembered my home address.  But I was hungry, so we headed for the Taco Bus.  I am embarrassed to say that, after 8 years of living in Tampa, this was my first trip to the Taco Bus.  How could I have waited so long?!  It is a BUS, out of which they serve TACOS!  Brilliant!  And so very delicious.  They offer multiple vegetarian options… and they had vegan steak strips!  I ordered the tacos (flour) with vegan steak strips and all the taco veggies.  I got two.  I would happily have put back four; they were that good.  And the green salsa on the table, go for it!  It is hot, but so very tasty.

Thank goodness Amy and I got out tonight.  Turns out we both remember how to socialize a bit.  And we both still know how to scarf down food at the end of the night.  We are rock stars!   (Not really at all)

 

What Do I Spy Next to the Baby Cereal?

January 11, 2012

I am really into salsa right now.  For a while, hummus was my snack of choice; but, lately, I crave a good salsa while I am watching my daily dose of Netflix after Jane goes to bed (right now we are watching Damages–highly recommend).  What kind of salsa do I like, you ask?  Newman’s Own–either peach or pineapple.  The juxtaposition of the sweet with the hot pretty much rocks.  I enjoy my salsa so much, in fact, that I have been known to load the baby in the car and drive to Publix just to grab salsa for that night.  Yesterday, I did just that.

Last night, Amy fixed me a small bowl of salsa to go with my chips and brought it to me while I watched TV.  The bowl serves help me regulate my salsa intake, because I could likely demolish the entire jar without much fanfare.  I will definitely say that salsa was worth the drive to Publix.

Which is good, because the remaining 3/4 jar of salsa never made it into the fridge.  I found it in the pantry this morning, when I went to grab Jane’s cereal.  I take “refrigerate after opening” very seriously, so the salsa found its way to the garbage disposal.

Poor, poor little peaches that gave their all for that salsa…  And poor me, who suffered through hummus and pretzel chips tonight, all the while daydreaming about the salsa that met such a tragic end.  And poor Amy, who is going to have to hear about the premature salsa death for what very well may seem like forever.

(Psst:  Open salsa should go in the fridge.  Just sayin’.)

 

Orlando, do you like me the way I like you?

January 7, 2012

It seems as though I might be developing a crush on Orlando.  I find myself wooed by the vegan options and the adorable arts district.

Ethos Vegan Kitchen is located in Orlando’s Downtown Arts District.  I have mentioned Ethos before:  vegan comfort food.  Delicious.  I find myself almost overcome with excitement at being able to order anything in the whole restaurant without having to play 20 questions about the ingredients.  True, I always order the same thing (the What’s the Dilly, Philly?).  But I COULD order anything.  I am so enthused about this place that Amy bought me one of their shirts.  Now I can claim my veganism proudly, while advertising their rad restaurant.  Sweet.

After lunch, we trekked down to Artichoke Red Vegan Market.  The place is tiny, but they pack a lot in.  The have everything from fresh bread and some frozen meat substitute options to health & beauty type stuff and (this is the best part) candy!  Amy bought me a dark chocolate peanut butter cup.  I never really appreciated being able to walk into a store and just buy food that I wanted before I became a vegan.  But I appreciated the hell out of that vegan peanut butter cup.  And, just like Ethos, everything in the store is vegan.  No guesswork, no reading labels.  Just pick something up and enjoy it.

So, yeah, I am crushing pretty hard on Orlando and its vegan-friendly ways right now.  I have felt a little beat-up about the vegan thing lately, so I was pretty grateful for the reprieve today.  Cheers to the little things!

Cake Fail (x2)

January 6, 2012

I am a failure at baking boxed cake mixes.  A total, utter and complete failure.

In my defense, being a vegan ups the ante on the boxed cake a bit.  But not as much as my two attempts would indicate.

Many boxed  cake mixes are vegan, comprised of a whole lot of impossible to pronounce ingredients, but not of milk or eggs or butter.  The two mixes I picked left it up to the baker to add the eggs and the oil or butter (or Earth’s Balance, in my case).  Doesn’t sound too difficult, right?  Right.

The first cake I tried on Christmas night, after everything had wound down; my parents, Amy and I were kicking around, and a quick cake and coffee treat seemed in order.  The chocolate cake mix called for 3 eggs.  I decided on applesauce as my egg substitute, and dumped 3/4 of a cup into the mix.  Fast forward through the cake’s allotted bake time–it is still like batter in the center.  I left it in until the edges teetered on the threshold of overdone.  The result?  Molten cake.  Not like the cute little molten cakes that are actually baked properly and then surprise the delighted diner with a warm chocolate filling.  Nope.  The whole dang cake was the consistency of pudding.  And we ate it anyway.  My dad kept saying, “Well, it doesn’t TASTE bad…”

I approached cake #2 with grim determination (the cake mixes had been by one get one at Publix).  I mentally sorted through my limited knowledge of baking.  None of the recipes that I had baked successfully had ever used over 1/3 cup of applesauce.  And, to make pancakes, I use one teaspoon apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of baking powder to sub for the egg.  So, since the cake called for 3 eggs, I used 1/4 cup of applesauce and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  Sounds like a plan, right?  I KNOW.

I can’t tell you exactly how the cake turned out, because the consistency depended on where the cake was cut.  Oh, wait… you are confused?  Me, too!  One corner was moist, but crumbly.  The other corner had a consistency like brownies.  The middle was sunken in a bit and almost molten (but not quite).  Totally edible.  But totally weird.

I give up.  I will make cakes from scratch (using a recipe, of course!).  And one day my daughter will say to me, “Why don’t you ever bake cakes out of the box like Nana does?”