We Feasted

I’m a few days late with this one, but I was too busy enjoying my five-day weekend to blog. As I wrote earlier, I cooked a big Thanksgiving for three: Derek, Chantha and I. It was 80% vegan and there were ten dishes!

We did it all with only one cutting board and in a teeny tiny kitchen. But it was so much fun. Derek and Chantha pitched in and we spent all morning and early afternoon cooking, about 20 minutes eating and then the rest of the evening talking about how full we were and how great the food came out. I’m so happy they both enjoyed it because, honestly, I was nervous.

It was probably the quietest Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. I missed cooking with my mom and sisters. And I missed watching the parade. But we made the best of our little feast and it ended up being a great day.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with plenty of good food and rest. Let the Christmas-ing begin!

Giving Thanks # 3

Thank you Derek for loving me. There have been many moves and many life changes since we first met about 4 years ago but I’m so glad we’ve found a way to stick together. Thank you for your support and encouragement when I’m having a bad day. And thank you for sharing my enthusiasm when I have a great day. Thank you for re-watching the ends of movies the next morning when I fall asleep and teaching me to appreciate a good cuddle. Thank you for eating vegan meals and for double checking the labels at the grocery store. I love you, I appreciate you and I’m so proud of you.

Giving Thanks #2

Thank you friends, new and old, for being in my life. I’m so fortunate to have met each of you. Thank you for talking with me, laughing with me and hanging with me. Thank you for bringing a different perspective and teaching me new things. Thank you for keeping me in check when necessary. And thank you for being there for me no matter how much distance there is between us. Much love and gratitude.

Giving Thanks #1

Thank you Aunty Sharon, Uncle Bryan, Grandma and Grandpa for giving me the courage and the resources to move cross country. I could never have considered the move without all your love and support. Thank you for spoiling me. Thank you for hosting family events–I love when everyone gets together. Thank you for putting up with my increasingly picky eating. And thank you for welcoming Derek into the family. I love you all so much.

Pre-Thanksgiving Update

Hey-o. It’s been a little while and I thought I might check-in. Life’s pretty good for me. Derek is here, studying as usual, and I’m baking a blueberry crisp to enjoy with some trashy TV. A pretty typical Sunday night for us.

Work has been really busy- lots of planning for next year and lots of new projects that will dramatically improve our marketing (like a new website-yay!). I’m juggling a lot more than usual but I think it will be worth it once everything is done.

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately; Aunty Sharon and Uncle B came over for dinner last night and I made a completely vegan meal that everyone enjoyed. There weren’t even any leftovers. And I’m really looking forward to cooking my first (mostly) vegan Thanksgiving. Everything will be vegan except for the chicken Derek is making for himself and Chantha.

I’m picking Chantha up from the airport after work tomorrow and I’m excited to spend some time with her. I took Wednesday off so we can spend the day in Boston and then Thursday we’ll have Thanksgiving for 3 followed by some tree decorating (and hopefully the first Grinch viewing of the season).

I hope you all are enjoying a lovely evening and that you’re looking forward to Thanksgiving with family and friends. This time of year makes me miss everyone even more. Hugs to all.

Love,

A

What’s Cooking: Zucchini and Potato Bake

This recipe has quickly become one of my favorites: it’s easy, it’s filling and it tastes so good. The only (minor) drawback is that it takes a little while to bake so it’s best suited for a night when I come straight home work. Oh and it also doesn’t photograph that well. I promise it tastes a million times better than it looks.

You can mix in a variety of veggies; this time I added some baked kale and some shredded carrots. I’m positive it would be delish with eggplant but I haven’t gotten around to trying that yet.

Shopping List
1 zucchini
2 medium potatoes (or one large one)
baked kale–I used a whole cookie-sheet’s worth
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, pepper, italian seasoning, red pepper flakes

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t measure anything so this is just my best guess on the portions. Feel free to use whatever looks good to you.

Step by Step

If you want baked kale in your dish, start by tearing some large pieces and arranging on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 while you prep the zucchini and potato.

Now, the hardest and most time consuming step (and really, it’s not even that hard): slice the zucchini and potato into the thinnest slices you can manage. Consistency is key here so that everything bakes evenly. But I can tell you that if you accidentally cut a few pieces too fat, it will still be ok. Once you’ve got errthang sliced, take the kale out of the oven and turn the oven up to 400.

Toss the zucchini and potato slices, the garlic and the carrot shreds into a big bowl. Add some olive oil and mix with your hands to coat everything. Now sprinkle in your salt, pepper and other seasonings. Follow your heart here, there’s no right answer. I like a little spice so I added red pepper flakes. Oh, also add about half of the breadcrumbs here too. Mix again.

Now lay the kale chips in a baking dish (you’ll probably need something around the size of 13×9) and add the other veggies on top. Arrange so that some of the kale is at the top–it will get extra crunchy and delicious when it bakes. Cover the whole thing with some more breadcrumbs and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Pop the dish in the oven, uncovered, and let it be for about 50 minutes. It should starting to brown on top (and smell really really really good) by the time you take it out. Let it cool just a bit and then enjoy.

What’s Cooking: Fall Soup

Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day. I spent the day alone and had a wonderfully relaxing day. I’ve been feeling worn out–between work, yoga, cooking and everything else–I have been desperate for a day to catch up on chores and just chill. I made myself baked oatmeal for breakfast, indulged in some trashy TV and gave my apartment the thorough cleaning it needed. I was finally able to tackle the mountain of laundry that was taking over my closet and I went grocery shopping. It felt good to get so much accomplished but to not feel any rush.

I bought a bottle of wine and decided I would make myself something nice, and new, for dinner. Enter pinterest- where I have dozens of recipes saved. I picked this–sweet potato cauliflower soup. I followed the recipe almost exactly, except that I added some pumpkin and topped the soup with some different spices (and crumbled kale chips). So you can follow her directions or mine, you’ll get pretty much the same results either way.

Shopping List
1 head of cauliflower, cut into pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
6 cups of water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
salt, pepper, paprika and kale chips (bake kale leaves at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes until they are nice and crispy. Add a little olive oil, salt and pepper if you like. And try crumbling it over popcorn-delish!)

Step by Step

Start by preheating your oven to 400. Spread the cauliflower pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the tops start to brown. When they are ready, take ’em out of the oven and set aside while you work on the rest of the soup.

While the cauliflower is roasting, peel and chop the other veggies. Throw it all in your largest pot with a couple dashes of salt, a little black pepper and some shakes of paprika. Oh, and 6 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to medium heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft enough to mash. Remove from heat and use a hand masher to smoosh the potato pieces. When you’re happy with the consistency, add the cauliflower.

Let the soup cool for a few minutes and then pour half of it into a blender. Add the canned pumpkin and blend until it’s completely smooth. Pour it back into the pot, taste and add seasoning as you see fit.

Scoop yourself a generous serving and top with crumbled kale chips. Goes perfectly with a sourdough roll, a glass of wine and marathon of Sex & the City.

Mmm… Happy November friends.

Vegan Report: Month Two

It feels like the second month of vegan eating was so much longer than the first. But at the same time, it feels like October flew right by. Weird.

Anyways, I have a few things to say about my diet:

  1. Tomorrow is my 10 year vegetarian anniversary. Pretty sure it’s the longest commitment I’ve ever made. Probably gonna bake myself a cake in celebration.
  2. I ate cheese (and mayonnaise) this month. But… it was at Jimmy John’s. The closest one happens to be in Ithaca, NY (for the record: it’s not close at all) and we happened to be there during my sister’s college scouting trip. I decided not to feel guilty if I ate one last cheesy sandwich. If I find myself near a JJ’s in the future, I will veganize my order.
  3. Despite the Jimmy John’s sandwich, I don’t miss cheese as much as I did last month. I still miss pizza but on Monday I ordered cheese-less nachos and they weren’t so bad. I’ve found so many great vegan blogs and cookbooks that I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Instead, I’m excited by all the new recipes just waiting to be tried.
  4. While cooking at home is a lot of fun for me, I’m still at little uneasy going out to eat. I don’t want to be a pain-in-the-butt customer. And it’s harder to tell if something is vegan without asking so I’m less certain of what options will work for me than I was as a vegetarian. But there are several vegan restaurants in the Boston area, so that helps, and I think over time I’ll become more comfortable.

I also want to give a shout-out to mi hermano Doug who is also giving a vegan diet a try. I seriously wished you lived nearby so we could figure it out together. And so I could cook for you and Mego. And so we could just hang out in general. Miss you.

So two months in and I’d say vegan is working for me. My body feels good. My mind feels good. And my heart feels good about the food choices I’m making.

Until next time,

A

Three-Two

On Saturday Derek turned 32. We started the day at a Boston Vegetarian Society Festival. It was uncomfortably crowded so we only stayed for a tiny bit. But we met up with friends Lisa and Jim and I ate a vegan soft serve cone (yum!).

Then we hopped on the T and made our way downtown for a matinee of Peter Pan. It was in a 360 degree theater and there was background movie projected all around us. Is was so different than anything I had seen before; I really enjoyed it, despite the fact that were pretty much the only audience members without kids. I’m fairly positive that Derek had a good time but he’s not as expressive as I am so sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Outside of the theater

Inside the theater

After the play, we went to a new-to-us restaurant. We got there just in time: when we walked in, there was only one table seated but the place filled up a few minutes later. And then the snow started falling. It was pretty to watch from the window, but we knew it was worse by my apartment, so we headed home.We ended up following a plow for most of the drive, so the roads were clear (for us at least).

And then Derek got an unexpected and unwanted birthday gift: power outage. Good thing I gave him a cozy-but-in-a-manly-way bathrobe as a present so he could wrap up in that while I lit tealight candles all around the apartment. We planned to watch a movie and lounge on the couch for the rest of the evening, but instead we laid in bed until we were warm and then fell asleep. Lame.

So it wasn’t the birthday I had planned for him but we made the best of it. I still owe him some carrot cupcakes, though, since I couldn’t bake on Sunday.

Derek, I love you. Thank you for sharing the last year with me. I hope 32 is your best year yet.

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