What a delight to get a snow day on what would be my second day back at school! While we were snowed in, I took care of business. Like making a hearty breakfast: vegan French toast! Nevermind running out to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs before the storm, this French toast requires neither. And what a way to use up the rest of the bread.
These are perfect little French toast bites. Add some Earth Balance and maple syrup and I can eat a dangerous length of bread. Save some for later and they taste like fast food french toast sticks out of the nuker. Secretly good.
With temperatures dropping to the single digits, we took in the outside cats, much to the upheavel of our 3 resident cats. The huge ginger cat, aka The Big Galoot and the sweet little fluffy girl who’s been tugging at my heartstrings, aka Hippie Frank.
Parking lot snow mountain.
My garden, winterized. Happy Snow Day!
All’s well that ends well. So 2013 would end with a good meal…Kumatoes are a “designer” tomato variety. They’re sweeter and have a brownish skin. And they look like a bunch of skee balls in this picture. I thought I’d roast them and make them a component to a veggie ziti.
New Years dinner would be the official start of pantry turnover. I used the open pastas, the rest of the pine nuts, and–as an appetizer–the spicy eggplant picked up from the Whole Foods salad bar and the fresh horseradish taking up valuable refrigerator space.
Ah bread–so simple and perfect. Here it is with the horseradish hummus and the spicy sweet caponata.
My ziti components–grilled eggplant and zucchini, tofu ricotta, roasted kumatoes, pine nut cream and Paesana, my favorite jar sauce.
All cooked in my beautiful new casserole dish.
Hamburg–you big, noisy thing, you–I’m spent. Had I arrived in your arms days, even hours, ago, I may have had the moxy to embrace you back. But I’m tired now. I don’t even want to force myself to go through the motions of an excited visitor, synthesizing resources and calculating routes. It takes energy to learn how to navigate a new city. And for today at least, I’m depleted. Perhaps a quieter city and a more stroll-based itinerary would have been a better option for today. I have a New York at home, thank you very much. You sound nice through the window though. Not really actually.
Tomorrow is my last full day here in Germany. Although it will be my 14th day, I feel like I have been here for months. Being away from your everyday life, you get an inaccurate sense of time passing. No 8080 on in the morning. No New York Times delivered with the date on it. No Electrician coming home from work making fun of the ridiculous programming you’re choosing to watch. No cat kicking you out of her spot because it is bed time. Sure, I’ve made new routines in my travels but they exist in isolation and, being born of my whims, they are not real structures. I’m like paper, like trash, floating around. It sounds better in Spanish.
This morning was a different story. I had a to-do list, several missions in place. Sure, they were short-term goals but they motivated me all the same. Part of those goals involved utilizing the Tram system in Bremen efficiently. And I succeeded. I am daunted by public transit systems in other cities–mostly because it is really hard to orientate myself and then I get flustered. But Bremen was a training-wheel size city. By the end of the day, I was boarding Trams with ease.
I needed to also pick up some items for some loved ones. I thought the adorable and rambunctious Brothers Grimm folktale mascots of Bremen was a whimsical theme, as did many of the townspeople apparently. They had the image on a slew of things; it was even the tram seat fabric.
Coffee (of kaffee) is very different here in Germany. For one, my tolerance is a lot stronger the small cups being doled out as “large.” So I had Starbucks for like the 3rd time in my life, glad that they had the same-sized cups as the States. It is always funny to take note of what pieces of American culture affix to other cultures. Coca-cola and McDonald’s are given, I suppose. But some of the more odd Americanisms I noticed were Thirty Seconds to Mars (Jordan Catalano’s band), Newsted Metal (Metallica’s Jason Newsted’s new band), and That 70’s Show‘s father as a spokesperson for a mobile phone company. Weird.
Ah, another case of taking pictures of closed vegan eateries! Tom & Karo is a vegan fast food joint located in that Park Slope-ish section of Bremen. I had very special brunch plans so I am a bit relieved their doors, like most along the still-bustling strip, were closed. Sunday is still a day of rest for most. I just love seeing the word “vegan” feature so prominently. Maybe next time, Tom & Karo.
Speaking of vegan being so prominent, all across the streets a chalk-iti commentator was delivering messages of animal rights. These bronze pigs are saying, “Why are you eating me and my children?” or something similar, along with the link to Earthlings, in its entirety, in German.
It was time for brunch, the very special brunch I never would have known about had I not met Tatjana the day before. I was excited and nervous to enter the squat house, covered in graffiti. It was the kind of place you see in the movies, the kind of place a concerned parents visits looking for her drug-addicted son or daughter. But no such adventure. Just a vegan going to eat a really cheap all-you-can eat vegan brunch with a bunch of the local gutter-punks and alternative types.
Thankfully I saw Tatjana right away who helped this out of place tourist navigate the vegan brunch underground. With my plate I made a b-line to the food.
I filled my plate with as much as I could as swiftly as I could. Everything was delicious. It was a really cool experience to have stumbled upon this meal. What did I eat? Beet hummus, spinach pinwheels, potato salad, sweet tofu and carrots, a pasta salad, more potatoes, tofu scramble, herbed carrots–I don’t even know what I was grabbing. I found a table, which was easy because everyone else there knew each other, and ate eagerly, as if I was going to be kicked out any moment for not having any piercings.
I joke, I joke but, sure, I did feel a little odd with my bag with souvenirs and my big camera… but mostly I felt food-excited. I stopped midway through my plate to snap pictures as there were big crowds loading up their plates. My pictures were hasty. I had to clear my plate quickly because I wanted to make my way up to eat some of the deserts: danishes, cookies, cream cheese pastries, vanilla cake with chocolate frosting… Aaah!
Part of the spread.
The bread table. I was happy I got to try the German-equivalent of Earth Balance. It spread well but wasn’t as tasty. Germany is not into the food chemistry and natural flavorings that are part of so many of our foods.
Another shot of the spread.
I ate quickly and cleaned my plate in the provided bins and said goodbye to my new vegan friend in Germany. Hamburg awaited me. My time in Bremen was over. What can I say, with each city I gain a bigger appreciation for Germany and the many experiences it has offered me.
So I mentioned earlier that I am here in Hamburg now, a large bustling city. Till now I had been doing a good job rotating bigger city with smaller towns; quiet sites to energetic urban centers. But this was a double dose of city that has done me in. I skipped my plan of visiting attractions this evening so I may escape to see the Baltic Sea early tomorrow. But before I lull myself to sleep, I had the energy to stop at Hamburg’s Fairy Food, an adorable all-vegan counter spot close to my hostel, thankfully.
They have breakfast, sweet treats and hot dishes, which–at the time of my visit–were mostly sold out. The German dish on their menu was still available so that is what I order. The seitan goulash. I’ve had this many times in Germany. It is tasty indeed, but not what I would go for today if I didn’t have to.
The bakery case had many goodies left. A chocolate cake, a layered cream cake, a sweet almond marbled cake, a variety of coffee cakes, as well as some raw desserts–an avocado pie and New York cream cheese.
In the end I chose what was most striking, the marbled sweet almond cake, a dense treat with rich chocolate swirls and a delicious almond glaze. This cake pushed me over the edge. I was stuffed–officially. I was going to head back to my room to relax, forgoing some of Hamburg’s sites for the sake of my well-being. The homesickness that has been running simultaneously with my traveling excitement has taken the lead. Tomorrow I will leave with a splash, but tonight–I’m an l.o.s.
Getting into the swing of my cleanse, I spent Day 3 embracing it. I set the hammock up in the backyard to peruse the newspaper and then headed to the nail salon for a low-cost massage. My achey neck and shoulders certainly needed it. After juice #4, I began to break cleanse. I felt ready. And I also wanted to introduce solid good gradually and not be so restricted over the weekend.
So was it worth it? Definitely. I feel clean and fresh. That’s the only way I can describe it. The detox was for the benefit of my internal organs. Of course I can’t see the difference in my organs, but I really do feel it. I feel light and efficient, like I had a tune-up. Other benefits: I can tell that I did lose a few pounds. Although my activity level was minimal, I barely sweat. The end of the day low-grade musk was none existant. My oily skin and hair, which barely goes a few hours before greasing up, was not at all oily. I feel good. I can say that a dozen more times.
I am, however, a bit worried about transitioning fully back to solid foods. Saturday is, of course, bagel day. My weekendly toasted everything bagel with Earth Balance and Bonne Maman four fruits is one of my favorite parts of the week. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I wanted to eat after this cleanse and I’ve had a lot of cravings during my cleanse. Carbohydrates, mostly.
The poor carbohydrate, always associated the refined flour, sweetener-pumped industrialized food product mega-processed food corporations dare to call “bread.” My general rule about bread is if it’s sold in the everyday supermarket, it’s crap, like most of what’s in there. Even the supermarket’s bakery pumps their bread with chemicals and sugars. That stuff should get a bad wrap, even more so the ones with catch-word of the day health claims printed on the bag: “Low Fat!” means a bunch of fake stuff added and some unnatural processing. “All-natural!” means absolutely nothing. “Whole Grains!” means, if they are in the everyday supermarket, that those are genetically engineered whole grains that have a host of harmful associations and, for the most part, remain untested and unlabeled. Sorry, I can rant on and on about how advertising pedals lies and products that are killing everybody… Back to carbs, I like my carbs like I like my movies, complex. Complex carbohydrates are the good guys.
I didn’t mean to veer off on that carb tangent. Nutritional ignorance is very harmful and yet advertising doesn’t allow us to know what is behind the products they make. They paint bogus images of farmers and pastures. But it’s mostly test tubes and dirty assembly lines. I will eat my bagel. Because it will be stale by the end of the day and that is normal and natural. Because it’s sweetened with molasses and that is normal and natural. My diet is mindful and healthful, with sprinklings of decadence… and that’s where the Earth Balance comes in.
No more juice!
Trying to get to Boston’s True Bistro for brunch before the wedding hadn’t worked out. And unfortunately so. This all-vegan restaurant has one spectacular brunch menu. Considering there was no way I was leaving Boston without trying their delicious-reading menu of high end fare, we had to make a b-line from the ceremony to Somerville before their Sunday closing time, as Monday they were closed. To our surprise, the place was hopping when we arrived at 8:30.
A basket of bread was delivered promptly with some olive oil for dipping. Though it was not the freshest, few things beat a bite of bed saturated with a good olive oil. And this was a really good olive oil.
I opted for a small plate of pea and leek ravioli in a lemon-thyme cream though I had my mind on their Seitan Piccata since I first glanced their menu. The ravioli were so very good, tender and flavorful. It is so nice to have a cream sauce like this–lite and with no mouth coat. The quality of ingredients and chef’s skills are crystal clear given this one small plate. I must return for a full dinner.
For dessert, and maybe because I wasn’t able to eat one at the Shoreline Diner the day before, I had the Napoleon. Layers of paper-thin sugared pastry with a fantastic subtly sweet cream (I would guess cashew-based) and fresh, sliced strawberries. Mmmm! Dip into that sweet strawberry sauce and it’s even more delicious.
Max ordered their gluten-free dessert option, the ‘Death-by-chocolate’ cake topped with creme anglaise and crunchy shattered caramel. And he polished it off so quickly I didn’t have a chance to try it! I would have loved to try the caramel (foreshadowing alert… more on vegan caramel later).
My buddy and I woke up to the chime of my phone. 10 minutes before I received the NYC Alert text, The Electrician delivered the sweet, sweet news of the snow day. I texted the other 5th grade teachers and went back to bed, lulled by the exclamations of the ambitious shovelers outside and the spinning wheels of snow-trapped vehicles. Too soon I woke with a caffeine withdrawal headache and needed to trudge the fresh snow to Lula Bean for a large black.
The snow enveloped cars in white mountains, trimmed winter sticklings like a lush coat and brightened up the mismatched colors of apartment buildings down my street. With my pajama pants tucked into my huge 80’s-style Hoth moon boots, I enjoyed my walk in the snow. The day was brimming with opportunity and I was hoping not to squander it. Coffee will help.
My first endeavor, nutty wheat bread. It’s been a while since I last made bread. I was discouraged by uneven slices, impatient about letting it cool thoroughly after a 4-hour session in the bread maker and plagued by too much bread left over. But these are easy fixes! I reduced Nutty wheat above to a 1.5lb loaf, subbing curdled soy milk for buttermilk and some Earth Balance for the butter, and got a reasonably sized loaf. I added in some mixed fancy nuts I’ve been meaning to get the heck out of my pantry. Pantry turnover, as well as lunch for all of next week, was my mission.
Having a capital-S Slew of fresh dill in my possession, I made a vegan dill mayo with some sprigs and the remainder of my Vegenaise. This will top my lentil burgers. I am happy to announce that the green lentils have left the pantry. What a relief! They were bothering me in there. I am neurotic, yes.
I also made a simple wheat berry salad as an accompaniment to my lentil burgers. Just some wheat berries, raisins and some splashes of olive oil, fig balsamic vinegar and some red wine vinegar. To the right, the cooling lentils for my patties. Did I tell you that making this patties also killed the rest of the bread crumbs in my pantry? Booyah! Anyway, the patties were quite easy: lentils, onion, carrot and some spice and heat. I also added corn for color.
I miss my good camera, my SLR. While my baby is getting a preventative maintenance and cleaning, here we are. This ol’ point & shoot 6 mega-pixel is hardly the powerhouse it was years ago. And so in the midst of January Pantry Turnover, an annual purge of dry goods and ingredients taking up too much space in the pantry, when my cooking is not based on pizazz but on what’s lying around, excuse my drab and flash-gleaming photos. Trust that all of this truly does taste better than it looks.
Cranberry Nut Bread: A cup of sugar makes everything better. Here I used the orange-flavored cranberries I’ve had since my wonderful students and their parents brought in KZ-friendly snacks for my birthday in October. Being monogamous with tropical dried fruit, these sweet and tart crimson lovers lay neglected since in my pantry. The dough was more scone-like and I realized, as my serrated knife made a mess of my loaf, that they’d be better off drop-biscuits. Oh well, they’re going to get chewed up either way!
Meat loaf, beat loaf I hate meat loaf! But a lentil loaf? Yes sir. Though extremely unattractive and shaped like an Easter egg, this recipe is so darn delicious and sure to keep me satisfied during the week. I used this recipe from My Vegan Cookbook. Make it and shape it better for a very impressive meal that gets better as the days go by.
Tune into the the continuation of the pantry turnover when I try to make use of:
– a can of vegetarian duck from an Asian mart (I’m thinking a curry to also use up the Jasmin rice)
– chocolate chips… banana… coconut. need I say more
I have finally picked up a breadmaking book: The Bread Book by Sara Lewis. It’s a gorgeous book with tons of innovative bread recipes that are very easily veganizable. Yes, it isn’t an exclusively vegan cookbook. I don’t believe there are any bread ones! (Can someone get on that?) This week’s loaf is a courgette (uh, zucchini in American), tarragon and lemon bread.
Look at those colors! Here shredded zucchini, chopped fresh tarragon and the zest of one lemon sit in a pool of shallow olive oil and wait to be spooned with 4 1/2 cups of flour. I ran out of bread flour and subbed in a cup of dark rye flour and a cup of all purpose flour. Luckily the texture did not suffer.
There she is all ready to be dressed, a speckled green and golden crusted canvas!
It has been a while since I made bread. It has been a while since I made anything besides breakfast actually. Knowing that I need a solid bread foundation if I am ever to return to the kitchen to whip up my own meals, I made a huge loaf to inspire the remainder of the week… a huge loaf of spiced potato and onion bread. This savory yellow darling has got a base of mashed Yukon potatoes and diced union spiced with cumin and fennel seeds, turmeric and paprika. Ain’t it gorgeous?
I have a real problem with running out for Thai lunch specials during the work week. In hopes to quell the nagging whim, I thought I ought to make something I’d want to eat come 12:10. With a recently expired tub of tofu to utilize, I opted to whip up a traditional tofu scramble, incorporating some lemon-pepper tempeh strips and a hefty handful of cilantro. After all, I am partially obsessed with product turnover. So much that I was a few seconds away from incorporating the remainder of my blueberries into the scramble! Maybe next time…
Check out the spice blend. And the deep orange turmeric, how I love you and your ginger relatives.
Here’s my scramble. I crumbled up the tofu a bit too much. I can’t help it. When it’s in my hands I just want to squeeze and squash it. A cast-iron skillet would yield a better skin on my scramble. I’ll just have to deal with a bit more mush. Now, to just get it in the container without eating it all… like I almost did with the tempeh while the garlic cooked.
Some kinksters apply whip cream to their lovers, but why the heck not a pile of carmelized onion? Ok, I’ll just incorporate it into a loaf of rosemary and olive oil bread. I experimented with this loaf in the old breadmaker and came out with a magnificent 2lb block sure to satisfy a carb craving.
In the Past
- April 2015
- March 2015
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- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
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- December 2013
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- December 2012
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