Weekending

photo-1This weekend started a little early for me as I wasn’t feeling very well and left work a few hours early. I didn’t make exciting use of the extra time, though. I ended up sleeping for about 16 hours. But, thankfully, that must have been what I needed because I woke up Saturday morning feeling just fine.

It’s still pretty cold in Boston, but the sun was shining so Derek and I went for a long walk. We’re estimating that we explored about 4 miles of our neighborhood before walking ourselves over Sunset for drinks. I’ve recently decided that I love sour beers, and the Monk’s Cafe Flemish sour they had one tap was delicious. D had a big glass of Irish stout and we shared some fries (we’re fancy like that). We got home around 6, cooked dinner and watched a movie. All in all, it was a pretty awesome Saturday.

Today, we met up with Lisa for brunch at a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant that just opened in Newton. The food was good, but it is very obvious that it’s a new restaurant with a very new staff. Nothing went seriously wrong, but they have some kinks to work out in their service.

Derek and I were feeling crazy after a yummy meal, so we went to The Container Store and got our organization on. When we brought our goodies home, it started a chain reaction in which every closet was emptied and reorganized. It was kind of a disaster in here for a bit, but it was worth it. Our place looks gooood. Wish I could have you all over for dinner. But we only have two dining room chairs, so it would be a little cramped.

Now, as the days winds down, we’re both sitting at our computers dreading the terrible necessity that is Monday Morning. The good news is, next weekend is Easter. And Easter means pudding shots. Alcoholic pudding plus a family get-together is enough to get me through the week ahead. Hope you all have things to look forward to as well.

Miss you all,

A

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Top Twelve of 2012

12. Finally joining the iPhone club (December)

11. Planning and executing a huge work event without any major problems (June)

10. My 1st Veganniversary (September)

9. Spending time with Chris before he moved far, far away (January)

8. Girl’s night out at Foxwoods with Laurie, Lauren, Lisa and Ashley (November)

7. Birthday trip to the beach (July)

6. A promotion at work (May)

5. Katie’s wedding (September)

4. Visiting NOLA (January)

3. Doug and Megan’s Thanksgiving visit (November)

2. Watching my sister’s graduation speech (June)

1. Moving in with Derek (July)

Vegan Report: Month Six

Last week was my 6 month vegan-versary! To celebrate I convinced Derek to let me interview him on the topic. He’s such a sweetie. 🙂

How do you feel about Arikka being vegan?

It’s fine with me but it’s clear that I will never get a surprise salmon meal again. (Author’s note–early in our relationship I attempted to cook a nice salmon meal for Derek. It was kinda a fail, so I doubt he would want me to try that again anyways.)

Do you like eating vegan with her?

Yes. Sometimes I don’t know what to cook but I’m always happy with the meals she cooks.

What’s the most challenging thing about having a vegan girlfriend?

No pizza. No nachos.

Can you confirm that Arikka’s not sneaking cheese and/or Ben & Jerry’s?

I can confirm.

Have you noticed any changes in Arikka? Positive or otherwise…

She’s happy with her diet and she’s a much more creative cook. But her sweet tooth has not gone away.

Do you think you’ll ever convert to vegan?

Probably not. Although I’m happy to support Arikka, I’m comfortable with my food choices and I don’t feel the need to make a change.

Vegan Report: Month Three

I think this is the last report until I hit a big milestone because I don’t really have anything to report. I feel really comfortable with vegan cooking and, I’m beginning to feel comfortable dining out. I’ve got a vegan Thanksgiving under my belt and I feel confident that I can cook meals and bake treats that will be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike. I’m looking forward to the challenge of veganizing some of the Christmas cookies I grew up with later this month.

As far as my health is concerned, I feel great. Really great, actually. I’ve lost a little weight (not that I was trying, but it’s a nice bonus) and I have more energy than before. I’ve also been doing hot yoga two or three times a week for about three months now, so that helps too. Several people have asked if I’m getting enough protein and the answer is yes(!); I probably eat more protein now since I eat more beans and less cheese. I’m also eating a lot more whole grains and a variety of veggies. All in all, I’m taking much better care of myself.

I’m fairly certain that my vegan diet is here to stay. The experiment has yielded positive results and more than anything else, it just feels right.

Love,

A

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.

What’s Cooking: Apple Crisp

I’m still in apple-overload from the trip to the apple orchard a few weeks ago. Even after this recipe, I have a fridge drawer full of apples. But I’m not complaining. I also didn’t have any complaints about the crisp, fall weather we had over the weekend. Perfect for throwing on a sweatshirt, lighting a pumpkin candle and making a yummy fall dessert. Even though this recipe is vegan, I promise it won’t disappoint.

(recipe from here)

Shopping List:
Apple:
6-7 apples, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 tablespoon nutmeg
1/8 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
Crisp:
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/6 c. canola oil (I think applesauce would work as a healthy substitute, but I was out)
1.5 tablespoon vanilla soy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Step by Step:

Preheat oven to 375.

Layer the sliced apples in a small baking dish. Mix together the cornstarch, spices, sugar and water and drizzle over the apples. Give it a good shake to make sure you get all the apples covered.

In a separate bowl, mix together the crisp part. Spread on top of your apples. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Top with coconut ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy in cozy clothes.

Vegan Report: Month One

It’s been one month since I cut dairy and eggs from my already-vegetarian diet. I had flirted with the idea for several weeks before really making the commitment, so I was pretty sure I knew I was getting myself into. And for the most part, my expectations were correct. I knew that it would require more cooking. I knew it would be harder to dine out. I knew that there was no good substitute for cheese.

What I didn’t really expect, though, was all the support I’ve received. Derek has been awesome with all my food changes–he’s happy to eat vegan dishes and pays extra attention to labels on the food we buy. And the people I work with have repeatedly gone out of their way to make versions of food that I could eat. Someone even made a separate batch of vegan cupcakes so that I could celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day with the rest of the office (yep, we did that).

I’ve found suitable substitutes for every dairy product I ate regularly except for cheese. Fake cheese is disgusting. And I never really ate eggs on their own, so all I needed to do to cut them out was find egg substitute for baking. Turns out there’s a lot of options (I usually mix 1 tbsp of ground flax seed with 3 tbsp of water for each egg).

That being said, I still don’t really know if a vegan diet is something I’ll stick with forever. It’s possible that I’m still figuring it out and that it’ll last. But at this point, I feel like it’s possible that I will allow myself to occasionally eat dairy (namely cheese). I don’t intend to return to my old eating habits, but I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to a life without pizza or nachos. I’m still trying to determine if I could be comfortable in the ethical grey area that I would create for myself if cheese found its way back into my diet.

I think it’s too early to tell. And I want to give my body and mind adequate time to adjust to the new diet before I make a decision one way or other. So please bear with my monthly reflections (or skip over them if you like) and cut me some slack if I end up straying from a strictly vegan food choices.

Much love,

A

What’s Cooking: Black Bean and Kale Enchiladas

Oops. I forgot to take a photo before we dished up.

Derek and I used to make enchiladas weekly, it seemed, but in an effort to try new recipes we kinda forgot about our old stand-by. While reminiscing about some of our favorite cooking memories, we realized it had been like 6 months since we made enchiladas and decided to give it a go, vegan-style.

Shopping List

1 cup of brown rice
1 can of refried black beans
1 small onion
red kale (or regular)
whole wheat tortillas
enchilada sauce

Step by Step

First, you have to start your rice. You wanna get that going at least two hours before you’d like to eat (because you should soak the rice for at least an hour before you cook it). I’d recommend waiting to start the rest of the meal until your rice is done. After an unfortunate rice cooking incident wherein I burned a pot beyond recognition, I’ve invested in a rice cooker and never looked back. But if you’re better at multi-tasking than I am, you might be ok with the stove-top method.

Ok, rice done? Good. Now chop your onion into little pieces and tear the kale. Toss in a pan with a little olive oil over medium heat until barely tender (maybe like 3-5 minutes). While that’s going on, warm the beans in a pot.

Prep the baking dish by pouring in enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Scoop some rice, some beans and some kale/onion mix into a tortilla and drizzle in a little sauce. Roll up and place in the pan with the seam facing down.

Rinse and repeat until you fill the pan or run out of filling (maybe you’ll get lucky and both will happen at the same time). We made four long enchiladas because our tortillas were giant. But maybe you’ll get six or eight.

Pour the remainder of the enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas and spread to coat every last bit. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 or 20 minutes (if you warmed everything before putting it in the tortilla, then it really doesn’t need to bake that long).

Serve (with a side of something green for bonus points) and enjoy.

I thought they were fantastic and didn’t even miss the cheese. Derek said he would have liked them even more if he added a little cheddar to the mix. So, do what you will. But definitely try give these a try, I think you’ll love ’em.

What’s Cooking: Potato and Tofu Curry

Before we get to the recipe, I have two exciting announcements!

First, this is my 100th post. And I’m pretty proud of that. It took me over a year and a lot of writer’s block to get here, but I made it. I’m still not really sure what my blog is about, but you all are still reading and that’s kinda cool. So thanks friends, family and strangers who occasionally find their way here.

Second, I’ve been reading way too many books on food and nutrition lately and… well… I’ve decided to ditch the eggs and dairy and go vegan. I cut everything but cheese out a few months ago but now I’m done with that too (and to be honest, it’s much harder than giving up meat). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make a big deal out of it and tell everyone, but it’s a significant enough change that I thought I should share. I’ll try my best not to be a pain in the ass to feed if I visit. On the flip-side, I promise to cook you something delicious (sans animal products) if you ever visit.

And now to our regularly scheduled programming…

Shopping List

brown rice
extra firm tofu
olive oil
1 potato
some carrots (I just chopped up some baby carrots)
kale
green onion
1 clove of garlic
a can of coconut milk
curry paste

Step by Step

These instructions should make enough for a meal for two. Or in my case, dinner for one and then lunch leftovers for one. Double or triple if you’re feeding more.

Do yourself a favor and start cooking the rice first. I forgot this step and ended up making some last minute cous cous right before eating. It was ok, but I think rice would have been better. One cup of uncooked rice should cook up to the right amount.

While the rice is doing it’s thang, cut your potato in half and microwave one piece until it’s soft enough to pierce but not really mushy. Set aside and let cool.

Next you’re gonna wanna fry up your tofu. If Derek was around, I would have asked him I cook the tofu because he has more patience than me, but he wasn’t so I stepped up and did it myself. I used about 1/3 of the package but you could use more or less depending on how much tofu you want in the dish. Cut into bite sized pieces and toss in a pan with a splash  of olive oil. Keep the heat on medium-low (a 3 or 4 if you’re working on a 1-10 scale like me) and keep turning those puppies over until they start browning on all sides.

While the tofus cook, tear a couple leaves of kale into small pieces, chop a clove of garlic and some green onion and cut the potato and carrots into chunks.

When the tofus are looking pretty good, but not quite done yet, toss the kale, chopped green onion and garlic into a larger pan with a teeny bit of water (probably your biggest pan because you’re gonna be adding the coconut milk to it) and cook a little. Don’t forget to keep flipping your tofus.

After a few minutes, add half of 13.5 can of coconut milk to the pan with the kale. Then mix in 2-3 tbsp of curry paste, depending on how spicy you like it, and stir in the carrots and potatoes. When the tofu is done, add that too.

Simmer for just a minute or so and then serve over your rice-which should be done by now if you followed my tip. If you forgot about your grain, turn the heat way down and throw something together real quick.

Mmm… delicious and filling. A perfect meal for the transitioning season.

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