Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kitchen impossible: Restaurant Coup

There's a restaurant in the Metro West area of suburban Boston that has quickly become one of my new favorites, much to the dismay of the pocket book ;) The whole concept of the restaurant is using local ingredients whenever possible and everything's organic. They are extremely veggie friendly, but do offer chicken and fish on the menu as well. They have great hummus, falafel, salads, pita, stirfries, the list goes on! They also have two of my newest food addictions: succotash and their vegetarian collard greens.

Their succotash is this melange of edamame, red peppers, onion, romaine and some little black things that I can't tell if they are some variety of lentil or sea vegetable. Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing does not begin to describe!

Their collards are nicely done, sweet and sour and VERY spicy. To be honest, I had never tried them before my first visit, but now I can't live without them!

Kitchen Mission: Recreate the goodness of this fantastic place!

To acheive the objective I obtained the following from the store:

1 bag frozen shelled edamame
2 red peppers
1 10 oz precut bag of romaine

Collard Greens
apple juice
one large bunch organic collard greens
red pepper flakes
apple cider vinegar

Recipe 1

Collard Greens

1 large bunch of collard greens
1 cup apple juice
1/8-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes (as much as you can handle)
a few splashes liquid smoke
1-2 tsp sugar or a scant little bit of stevia
water (if needed for cooking)

Wash and chop greens. Place in pot with liquids, spices and garlic. Cook covered on medium to high heat for at least 15-20 minutes. Add sugar/sweetener to taste.

Recipe 2


1 bag edamame (I believe the one I used was about 12 oz)
2 red peppers
1 10 oz bag chopped romaine or equivalent of fresh chopped romaine
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
splash of braggs
splash of rice vinegar

Mince garlic and steam fry in large pan with a little water. Chop peppers into bite size pieces and add to garlic. Add a little more water if needed. Add edamame and cook until edamame are thawed and 'al dente' and peppers are still a little crisp. Add romaine to pan and braggs, vinegar and flax meal. Cook until romaine is wilted.

To complete the meal I whipped up some hummus and made some green beans (just garlic and Earth Balance) and had a meal to be proud of at a fraction of the price.

It was *really* yummy! And I'm also very happy to report that it tasted just as good as the restaurant in question, just a little bit different...

Do you wanna get rocked? And a tale of a-cute cookie failure.

This weekend I went to a concert with a couple of girls from work. This wasn't just any concert, this was a match made in flashback heaven! Journey and Def Leppard! I was never really one for Journey, but I did sing at the top of my lungs to the songs I knew. The guy they had singing was a strange one and we kept on remarking on how he sorta looked like Kato Kaelin (sp?).

Def Leppard! I've liked them since I first spent the night at my friend's house in 2nd or 3rd grade and discovered her music collection (which at that point consisted entirely of Madonna, NKOTB, and Def Leppard). They played really well, and I was just so happy that they played one of my favoritest songs ever, "Love Bites"!

Love also eats. Like me. :)

Today we had originally planned to head over to the LLBean outlet to get some new winter coats, but my other half was feeling under the weather, so I thought today would be a good day to take care of a cooking errand or two. Firstly, I have the cookie swap to do, and I was trying to find a recipe that was a little different and not out of a common cookbook. I really didn't want to make cookies out of Vive le Vegan or Vegan with a Vengeance... Then I remembered that I had printed a recipe off of Vegweb for some double chocolate cookies.

Yes, they look good, don't they? They tasted good...but they were incredibly flat and crumbly. I think the recipe needs some tweaking. Needless to say, those aren't going anywhere. I'm looking into my recipe stash for something a little more reliable.

I'm one of those people that once I get the baking bug, I kind of can't turn it off and keep going with it...

Since the cookies were a failure, I decided to do something easy--muffins! I have tons of carrots that need to be used up in my fridge, so I decided to make some Carrot Raisin Muffins (from VwaV) for my landlord and upstairs neighbors. My landlord lent me her Vitamix to play with so I felt like I needed to do something nice for her.

Mmmmmm...success smells so good! :)

I also decided to tweak another recipe from VwaV and made some Ginger Date Quinoa Muffins based upon the recipe for the Raisin-Ginger Bran Muffins. Yes! Finally a date recipe! :)

But I couldn't stop at just the 'baked goods'! I also made some Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, green beans with white bean gravy, tofu nuggets, and eggplant lasagna!

[sweet potatoes & apples, green beans, and veggie riblet...oh my!]

You'd think I'd be tired, right?

I am! :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fruits, vegetables become stuff of poetry

The boyfriend admitted to me last night that the produce delivery excited him too. And here I was thinking he was indifferent! (slaps forehead)
Thursday's our day to get delivery and he sent me this email...

On the First Day of Autumn, Boston Organics sent
to me ...

A dozen little yellow potatoes
One head of lettuce
One chubby eggplant
Four oranges
Three little green apples
Two beautiful red bell peppers
A pair of forlorn plums

And a bunch of Peruvian bananas!


My only gripe with Boston Organics is their obsession with sending me copious amounts of bananas and plums. I am going to have to make some serious amounts of banana bread and I need to do something with these plums. Perhaps a cobbler? Grilling them and serving them with a balsamic reduction? A fruited quinoa salad? Hmmm....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Following the trend...

It seems that everyone in the blogosphere has been talking about farm sanctuaries, so I thought that Sunday was a good time to visit one. The weather was wonderful (finally) and I found one about 20 minutes or so away...

We went to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA and from the looks of their website it seemed like the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. We got there right when they opened to get a good headstart on the day.

I'll let the pictures tell the story of our visit.

I wasn't expecting my picture to be taken. I was having a very zen moment with the mule. He was by far one of the most fantastic animals I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. He was HUGE! He started getting antsy thinking that I might have had some treats for him but was holding out...very funny.

All in all I had a wonderful experience there, but... On our way out I wanted to pick up some of the lovely vegetables we had seen going in, so I began browsing the boxes, and I peeked in the little open shed like area right next to them. I saw that they had skeins of yarn from their sheep, and much to my horror and disgust they were selling some sort of furry animal hides! I could have sworn I saw a sign saying they were goat skins, but I can't swear to it...

Needless to say, I did not get any produce, nor did I go to the gift shop.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Thursday Night Kitchen Throwdown

Ever walk into your kitchen with the idea of doing one thing and end up doing fifty other things too without noticing or flinching? Sort of stream of consciousness culinary creation. Or something like that.

Picture it, it's about 6:00, I've gotten home from work (read: hell, bane of my existence) and I'm going through the Boston Organics box like a kid going through gifts at Christmahannukwanzakah. (And yes, it was an Acorn was labeled on the crate and in the recipe news letter...I'm just not accustomed to new and exciting squash varieties!)

My weekly booty included some of the freakishly cute Paula Red Apples (very tiny, like plums). Now these followed last week's delivery of 4-6 of the little buggers that had just started to make friends with the broccolini and zucchini in my veggie drawer. Now I had some enormous number of size challenged apples...what's a gal to do?

I remembered Emmy's blog with her delicious looking applesauce and went to town on the little midgies. They were so small that I decided to leave the skin on and just washed them really well...

And I ended up with:

Very red applesauce. Insanely sweet with NO sugar/sweetener! And yes, the splatter stains on the stove do make it taste better.

So then I scan my kitchen and spot my bag of baby yukon gold potatoes and there were some starting to grow some interesting appendages. I don't like wasting food at all, so I washed them up, cut off all of the offensive bits and tossed them with some spices and several whole cloves of garlic and threw them into a hot oven. Mmmm...

I'm on a roll now! I remembered that I had some leftovers from the weekend when I attempted to make the Eggplant Paprikash from Fat Free Vegan. I don't know what I did or didn't do, but I didn't like it much. Instead of throwing it out, I rinsed off the sauce and threw the rest into the food processor with the rest of my hot sauce and came up with something akin to spicy babagahummus.

So I'm trying to think of what to do with said babagahummus. I was thinking of thinning it a little and adding some peas and curry powder and calling it dinner... No, too simple, too ordinary, too pedestrian (I get so haughtily verbose when contemplating a food challenge). I then thought back to the success I had last weekend when using the recipe for pizza crust from Urban Vegan and then thought that pizza covered in babagahummus and melty pizza cheese would be a good idea.

Yes, dream became reality, and aside from the cheese being a little thicker than I knew how to handle, it was good (or so I was told). I didn't actually eat much of it.

I snacked on leftovers garnished with potatoes, grilled asparagus (another resurrection from the nearly dead) and applesauce.

I went to bed with such a tummy ache. It was like right after trick or treating and you eat all of the really good candy. Of course, I have eaten spinach every day in the past week...who knows if Mr. Coli might be knocking at my door. Let's hope not!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Name that fruit/vegetable!

So today we got our delivery today from Boston Organics, which is one of the coolest things I've ever gotten into. It's like the organic produce fairy waives her little wand every week and all of a sudden we're some apples/bananas/oranges/lettuce/kiwi/etc richer.

But I have one question...what exactly is this?

I think it's some sort of squash, but not sure... The description I got of it via email was : "grooved melon-like thing with a hide like a rhino".

Sounds enticing.

And in the, "What I would rather be doing right now category" is Sammy, surrounded by his toys. Is it bad that I want to be reincarnated as a spoiled puppy?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Vegan Iron Chef Challenge!

Attention Readers! I've started a Vegan Iron Chef Challenge over on the Veggin Out message board, and I'm posting about it here too. I've chosen an ingredient and I would love to see what all of you lovely kitchen scientists can come up with!

I haven't thought of what sort of prize for the winner, but I'm sure I will think of something before the challenge is over. The challenge will run the month of September. Veggin Out members can post to the board directly or just send entries to me here. Pictures, recipes, reviews...I want it all :)

September's ingredient is: Dates!

The goal is to think outside of the box and get away from the standard 'Date Squares' and 'Date Nut Bread' and put some new spin on the world of Dates!

You are only limited by your creativity and the calendar! You do not have to be a Veggin Out member to participate, but you should join up! It's a fun board! :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What good boys do...

Why, that would be sitting of course!

Many greys can't sit because it hurts their backs, but this little guy figured out how to do it one day and liked all of the attention he got while he was doing it. So he sits when he wants a treat. He also sits when he wants attention. He sits when there's an arguement and he wants it to stop. He sits when he meets other dogs (sometimes). He sits when he wants to go home and he's been walking outside too long. He sits when he gets really excited. Really, Sammy's all about the sitting.

Isn't he cute?

Food post to follow! :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Yay! I got tagged!

So now I am like everyone else in the blogosphere and have gotten tagged to name my Top Five Foods someone must try in their lifetime.

Thanks to Nicki for the tag!

Trying to do a list that's a little different because I've seen so many other lists and I don't want to be a copycat!

In no particular order...

Black Bean Soup
I have long been a fan of this delightful concoction and have tried many formulations... There really isn't one that I've ever disliked (excepting the canned variety), I just have to watchout for the non-vegetarian versions. My favorite of all time (not veg...I think they used something disgusting like bacon fat to make it) was the black bean soup from Atticus in New Haven. I haven't had it in like 5 years or so, but I remember how fantastic it tasted with some hot sauce on top...

I don't care if you're veg or omni, but one must simply try Sushi once in their life! It's so radically different from the way a lot of us are brought up eating, it's truly a shock to the senses to eat it. My suggestions are Futomaki (the ingredients will vary from place to place, just ask that the egg be replaced with avocado), sweet potato tempura roll, and any veggie roll containing avocado.

Fresh Herbs (particularly Basil and Rosemary)
It's amazing how fresh herbs can be completely mindblowing. I had no idea what basil really tasted like until I was in my late teens! It was even after that that I discovered rosemary and sage, and fennel, and al.

Pumpkin Pie
I love pumpkin pie with all of my heart and soul. I have made it 3 million ways, and in my humble opinion I view pumpkin pie with the same analogy that has been made about sex (not be be vulgar, but...I'm quoting) "even when it's bad, it's still good". I almost wish it was Thanksgiving 365 just so I could have an excuse to eat it more often. I'm sure my pants are grateful that the calendar changes.

Thinking about pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving lead me to think of my favorite crutch food, the food that got me through childhood, the food that I still crave constantly today--GRAVY! It's odd, but I tell you the veg*n gravy subs that I've found taste just as good or better than what I was eating, and boy, do they hit the spot. Gravy makes anything taste better which is especially useful when you are a very finicky child (I would not eat most things...and what I did eat either had to be drowned or practically brined). Sure, gravy is not a necessity for me anymore as my tastebuds have matured, but I still find it to be my ultimate comfort food.

Now that I think about it...who hasn't ever tried gravy?

Hmmm... Perhaps I should have just said fresh pineapple or water chesnuts... or maybe another childhood favorite (completely not ever vegan or diet friendly) a Peanut Butter Cup Sundae (peanut butter sauce and hot fudge) with Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream (vanilla base with chocolate and peanut butter swirls) and marshmallow creme on top instead of whipped cream topped off with some crushed peanuts and chocolate jimmies.

Gosh, I feel my pants getting smaller just thinking about it! :)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Attack of the cookies!

So I came home today to find my cookies from the swap I did with Primary Consumer had arrived! I was excited, but a little worried because the post office had put a big red stamp on it that said it was damaged in transit. My boyfriend was worried that perhaps some hungry postal worker opened it and munched on them. I proceeded to open the package and it was alright, it was just the actual mailing container that got scrunched.

The real comedy was trying to get the cookie tin opened. I tried. I failed. The boy tried. He failed. I got a spoon to jimmy it open. Failure. Sam is pacing and huffing (He is such a sensitive hound!). I get a knife. Failure (no injuries). The boy tries once more. Victory is his.

Inside the tin of tribulation are the most wonderful cookies! They are a carob chip made with whole grains and flax.

I immediately scarfed one down for quality control purposes. It was amazing. It tastes so good; sinful and healthy at the same time. The boy scarfed one down too. Sam looked hopeful, so I gave him a Sam cookie (Wellness treats) to make him a part of things.

I suggested then that we take pictures of the cookies right away, so on the long trip from the kitchen to the dining room, we both had to have another one. After such grueling exercise, one must refuel.

Apparently little Sam really was in the mood for a refueling too...

In the end we allowed ourselves 2 1/2 cookies a piece...for now. I am going to have to hide them if I want to eat any more of them...

Thank you, Primary Consumer!