With autumn comes a whole new set of seasonal veggies. I anticipate this change in the fruit and vegetable racks in my local grocer like how some other do clothing lines, a new sneaker, or tickets for whatever millennial-deep (puddle) marketing exec-made “musician” who doesn’t play or write music who’s having success. It’s quality and authenticity that counts, in all areas, but especially food. Like these Starry Night swirls of roasted Romanesco cauliflower.
With first frost coming, I am on a soup kick, enacting my mini-Crockpot at my job, which heats my lunch throughout the morning so I may meet it thoroughly piping hot at it noon, sans microwave. This week, I threw in come butternut squash, which, when prepped, resembles a feminist statement of sorts. Hmmm.
I had a bit of a fail last week when I made a potato and apple soup with no protein component. This week, I was all the more wiser, using the mighty chickpea to help empower my day.
We eat a lot of bananas in our household. We buy 3 bunches for the two of us. My bunch sits patiently all week until the weekend. Speckled and super ripe, I use it partially for my weekly batch of chia oatmeal. And partially for baking. This week, with a belated birthday celebration at my folks’, I made the well-loved marble banana bread recipe from Isa Does It. They love this bread. It was a delight to hear my parents and sister discussing how wonderful a banana bread it is as I played Scattergories in the other room. Boom!
For as long as I have worked, I have always taken off my birthday. It’s a gift I give myself–to be under no obligations but my own. So I do the things I enjoy… driving and finding new places to take pictures of.
Shrine of Our Lady of the Island in Manorville has a shrubbery Rosary Walk and a Stations of the Cross exhibit. Both are nestled in the calm, peaceful woods. You can walk about, unbothered.
And an old favorite of a roadside attraction, “The Big Duck.” This quacker is a Long Island icon.
Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant in East Shoreham never really was a functional nuclear plant. Though its construction topped $2 billion, red tape and public outcry–especially after the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor breakdown and, later, the horrendous Chernobyl disaster–ultimately decommissioned the plant in the late 80’s. But the turquoise wonder still sits in Shoreham behind the trees of the now plentiful homes in the area. Its nuclear materials gone since the 90’s, the site is now a vessel of alternative energy, though I couldn’t see the turbines. But then again, I prefer the idea of roaming about a bright turquoise abandoned nuclear power plant…
The view from the trees of Creek road
Further west on Creek rd, next to some fancy homes and local beach access, is a docking area with a parking lot. Some old timer was clamming in the teal waters when I pulled up. I followed the foot path towards the plant. The surrounding creek was teeming with life… loon-y looking birds, a swan couple, and lots of aquatic activity.
In kind of nearby Riverhead, I ate lunch–looking out at the Peconic river. Turkuaz Grill has plenty for a vegan to choose from… and they know where the dairy is. I started with Acili Ezme, minced tomatoes, peppers, onions, walnut, spices, garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Delicious on fresh, soft pita.
Then, the falafel platter. My waiter made some substitutions to make it dairy-free, but I avoided the beets because I convinced myself they were covered in yogurt. It was a fresh, flavorful secretly-my-birthday lunch.
Before setting out on a road trip, a vegan has to consider how long it may be until a proper meal is available. Like a marathoner, it may be appropriate to load up on carbs to anchor the behind in for hours driving (not running). This is why I love Maywood Pancake House so much. The hard part is over (getting past New York City), northbound interstates await with nary a worthy vegan meal in site. But Maywood has vegan pancakes, vegan French toast , and vegan challah bread. Unpretentious dining, great service, and delicious vegan breakfast options are always a wonderful thing… but even more so considering this.
I’ve never been to Cooperstown. Part of the reason for this is that there really isn’t any vegan food options nearby. There is a local natural food store, Cooperstown Natural Foods, which had a great selection of goodies for road snacking.
This sprouted nut blend (Thai lemon curry) from Living Intentions was probably the most delicious nut medley I’ve ever eaten. I loved it so much that I felt it worth taking a picture of its package.
Close by to Cooperstown is Oneonta, a college town with an uncharacteristic quantity of vegetarian eateries: none. We stopped at Green Earth Health Food Market for a veganizable sandwich from the café. Though the staff and vibe is pretty darn awkward (think surly hipster and flaky hippie wrapped in one), the resulting sandwich, made mostly of the store’s products, was pretty darn good. However, the selection in store was not at great as the much smaller Cooperstown Natural Foods. And I am basing this solely on Field Roast Chao and nut cheese availability, an indicator of informed vegan option grocer.
A tempeh reuben. Loved the “not Lightlife” tempeh.
Oneonta did have Soda Jerks Diner, a new “slashy” to add to my roadside list. The new “slashy” tag is in homage to Zoolander and denotes an eatery that shares operational space with another business. Not your standard slashies—like health food store/café, book store/café, yoga studio/café, but weird combinations. Like this auto lube/diner. Even weirder: an auto lube/diner with vegan options.
Though the French Toast was burnt and the tofu scramble needed some of that cooking time, and maybe even more, I had to keep in mind. I was at an auto lube. How amazing is it that in Oneonta, New York a place vegan options exist in an auto lube shop/diner?!
They also had a juke box.
You know when you see cartoon pictures of the sun? This is their inspiration. This sun in Cooperstown, outside room 104 of the Best Western Plus.
Driving through peak foliage in central New York is an experience not to be missed.
Of course, when in Cooperstown, there’s the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It is a wonderful museum honoring America’s past time. But it’s also about social progress, something that sports have helped a great deal.
More autumn beauty…
The other-worldly sunrise from our room’s window.
A quick bite at Garden Cafe in Woodstock and we were homeward-bound. My juice blend and a pan-seared polenta cake with potatoes.
Smudgy window pictures of peaking foliage look like paintings. The power, phone and cable lines bisect the beautiful scenery, designating layers. And the rolling Catskills, blotted with orange, carry the cloud’s shadow spots. I love autumn in the east, where the trees give up for the winter. But not before saying goodbye beautifully.
If you’re like me, you follow strict soup seasons. And autumn is the start of soup time! So I am finally making a recipe from Nava Atlas’s Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews For All Seasons, a years-old gift from The Electrician. I started with a parsnip & potato soup, substituting the sunchokes that were nowhere to be found, unfortunately. I am so delighted with this first batch that I plan to bring on the soup every week!
Soup basics: cut a ton of vegetables and put ’em in a pot.
Thank goodness for flavor-packed recipes and an immersion blender.
With Hurricane Joaquin worries put out to sea, I had my first proper weekend after my first proper full week of working, finally. Summer is officially gone. It’s back to the grind.
Kitchen renovation cookies, with just a pinch of sawdust.
Various gourds for the stoop as October is here, the most wonderful time of the year.
The grill is still blazing in the backyard. Here, the other white meat: tofu.
Expert grill marks by The Electrician.
Roasted broccoli stems
Harvest lunch for the week: sugar-roasted acorn squash, beet, dinosaur kale, and that tofu
Catching Frank in weird positions.
Cauliflower White Bean Risotto with sun dried tomato, spinach and pine nut. I love cauliflower, like I love all the veggies in the Brassica oleracea family but… if you’re storing some up for the week you have to deal with a little bit of stink before reheating.
Roasted acorn squash wedges. This squash always reminds me of the Hobgoblin. It’s probably the size of it and how it sits in my hand. I love how deceptively quick the squash goes tender and how the shiny black skin is fully edible, making their presentation so lovely.
Beetroot. Beets share the love with whomever they touch (beit my hands, the cutting board, or a neighboring vegetable in a salad), in the form of a bright and deep red-violet stain. A color that matches the intensity of their taste. Love you, beets.
You have to massage kale if you’re going to eat it raw. I think that’s kind of cute. Here you have a fibrous, bitter green standing tall and proud. Apply some gentle kneading, and it breaks down–loses bitterness and softens in your hands. What a softy.
I bought this enormous 3-pound organic yam at Fairway. Roasting was the order of the day. So I sprinkled one side with dark brown sugar and let ’em roast, flipped them midway and sprinkled my fancy pants salt generously. One bite of these tender discs is the best of both worlds.
My lunch for the week: the tastes of Autumn.
My weekday sweet? Chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips! As a child I used to eat around the chocolate chips in my cookies. So, being without chocolate chips and my car blocked in on the driveway, I thought this a fine idea.
But as a grown up, I realized I needed a taste of rich chocolate to balance the sweetness. So I melted the bowl of leftover chocolate in a double boiler and got to drizzling. Much, much better.
Here is the state of my Brussels in the garden. This cool weather crop is doing very well! I’m hoping that the foodie squirrels don’t start noshing. Happy Autumn!
We recently visited the Jersey Shore, by accident really. Our fumbly roadtrip had us arriving at Kaya’s Kitchen, Belmar’s down-home vegan eatery, in the awkward span of time between the old lunch lull and prior to the start of the dinner menu–which is unfortunate, as I had my heart set on a ridiculously huge country-fried seitan steak to make right our day of travel. But I got the “fish and chips,” which had the fried I wanted and the promise of the tangy sweetness of a vegan tartar, one of my favorite condiments. And of course, the chips.
The sandwich was satisfying but I was dreaming of a thick, batter-dipped crispy fried coat. The lightly fried tofu mushed into the soft bun. Luckily, the fresh bite of purple onion improved the texture, as did the sweet relish bites in the minimal smear of tartar. Staving like Marvin, I also got a side of their Mac And (house-made and thank-goodness-it’s-not-Daiya [T.G.I.N.D.]) Cheese, which was creamy and–after self-seasoning–flavorful and delicious.
Did you see that Hunter’s Moon the other night? It was spectacularly huge when it first showed up in the dusky blue sky–a full spread of the compass and seemingly projected, its nooks and crannies vivid. Moons like this are camera-shy. They appear flashlight-y and clumsy behind the lens. This shot was later in the evening when the bright white beamed through the backyard trees. Ah moon, you help explain kookiness.
Over at the local nursery for our porch pumpkins. I’m fascinated by these odd peanut-covered squash, and the fancy-pants artsy fartsy red and grey versions of the beloved pumpkin.
I usually choose pumpkins efficiently-sized for processing later. We got a manageable white pumpkin and a Cinderella. Bibbity bobbity boo!
My last harvest–maybe? Smallish plum tomatoes are sprouting up quickly, full of the autumn sun. And the green bell peppers are finally yielding fruit! I’m hoping the temperatures don’t cut short the many pretty bells looking to plump up. I’m already thinking of what I’ll plant next year, although my Brussels are going to be growing well into the fall.
Gorgeous apples of all shapes and sizes. Speckled uniquely, with underbellies, striated skin–a plane of antioxidants and fiber. Fruit–how glorious.
My first bunch would be a batch of scratchmade apple sauce. Simple and easy–but perfect.
Applesauce, to the left, and sweetened yam to the right. Autumn favorites.
In the theme of autumn brown, I made tamarind-glazed tofu in the broiler. My chuck of tamarind dearly needs a turnover. I will deal with this come VV’s Pantry Turnover month (January).
Broiling is my new favorite cooking method for tofu.
Apple use number 2! Quick apple parfaits with coconut whip. Unfortunately the “whip” was more like a milkshake. It was still absolutely delicious. Lunch for the week is squared away. Now, gratuitous apple recipes commence!
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