Bowls of warmth!

I live in an apartment that has a number of doors where typically there would be windows, leading out to a balcony that was oddly never built. This doesn't really bother me, and in general the arrangement provides a good amount of light. On the downside though, one of the doors in my room doesn't lock, and keeps swinging open in the middle of the night. So I wake up in the morning to a gust of icy-cold Columbia Heights air, and immediately start a tirade of curse-words as I rush over to close the door. Needless to say, this isn't my all-time favorite way to wake up. (No, my favorite way to wake up is to have a certain french film star whisper in my ear that if we want to make it to Morocco in time for cocktail hour we better catch the 2pm train...)

Anyways, I have a found a way to mitigate the situation. Oatmeal! Its no surprise that vegans love oatmeal, I see different yummy recipes all the time. But mine is the best, seriously. First, I stir in some peanut or cashew butter. Then, I throw in some sliced bananas, blackberries, and sliced almonds. Then I drizzle the whole thing in agave nectar. And then I proceed back to bed, in my room that is just starting to warm up, and curl in the covers and giggle to myself about how freaking amazing my little blackberry-banana-nut oatmeal is. By then I've totally forgotten about my ghost-door...

And speaking of things that might make one catch a cold, I'm now fully recovered from last week's onslaught of sniffles, so thanks for the kind words, kids! (And actually, now that I think about it VeggieGirl mentioned banana-nut butter oatmeal as one of her favorite home remedies!)

At any rate, while still recovering I attempted, once again, to re-create the world's most awesome soup that I had in a Cuban restaurant in New York right around this time last year. Its a lentil soup laced with bright ginger, butternut squash chunks, and kale.

Once again, this attempt was good, but I still didn't hit the nail on the head. I used a ginger broth that I made in advance for the congee, grated in extra ginger at the end, even put in a dash of mirin, but its not quite right! Its good, don't get me wrong, but its not super-amazing-magic soup. Maybe I need to get up to NYC and try it again.

At any rate, Happy Thanksgiving! Hope everyone enjoys the yearly ritual of explaining to your relatives that gravy isn't vegan. :P Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with this year!

Song of the day: Matt and Kim- Daylight


Me vs. Cold Season

A dear old friend of mine (let's just call her "Flower Bug" since that's her preferred nickname, hehe) recently emailed me to ask if I had any foodie cures for a sore throat. (Try Cayenne pepper, Bug!) I imagine she reached out to me since I am one of those obnoxious people who constantly talks about how she never gets sick and rattles off a list of veggie cures to common ailments. Seriously, mention that you have a cold, and I'll probably be all "Oh, I never get sick! You should go vegan! And eat some garlic!" A few lesser known foodie cures:

Anise seeds + water= no more hiccups
Cardomom + ginger= no more tummy ache
Pistachios = cheap cure for jaundice and dermatitus
Mangoes = Giardia killer
Onions= defense against asthma attacks

(A lot of this stuff I learned from The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, which my awesome brother gave for my birthday.)

*Cough*. So anyways, this morning when I awoke I was amazed to find that I wasn't feeling well: sore throat, runny nose, headache, the whole shebang. I was shocked not only because I so rarely get sick, but also because it was the first really cold day, and how stereotypical is it to get the sniffles the first day the temperature drops? So conformist. Well, not wanting to go against my own commonly given advice I decided I would take my sick self to the grocery store and see what I could whip up to kill the cold before it broke into my finals week. My main hypothesis is that I can get better before getting worse merely by overloading on garlic, ginger and vitamin C.

So first I made the "Ginger Congee" from this month's Vegetarian Times. Congee is apparently a rice porridge eaten for breakfast. The Veg Times version is a ginger and garlic broth that you soak dried shitake mushrooms and rice in to make a nice soup. This was super comforting and warming. It was a little sweet (especially with the addition of mirin) but it mostly tasted like a milder miso soup. I'm going to eat this for breakfast tomorrow too.

To get even more garlic then the few measly cloves in the soup, (yes, I'm hardcore) I made a roasted garlic pizza. I roasted a whole head of garlic, mashed it with a little olive oil into a paste, and spread it over a vegan ready-made pizza crust. There's some tomato and orange pepper on there- which, might I add, is also good for throats (along with some more red pepper flakes for good measure.) I sprinkled on a little nooch after it got out of the oven and sat down to my super cold-killer meal.

Tomorrow I'm going to use the leftover broth to attempt a lentil soup with kale, ginger, and butternut squash. I'm sure by then I'll be completely better though... *cough*

Do you guys have any home remedies? After all, everbody knows chicken soup is for losers. ;P

Song of the day: "Narcissist Waltz"- Die Romantik


Too too too fast!

Doesn't it seem like it was just Halloween? How can I already be filling out course evaluations and getting ready for finals? I didn't even get a chance to show you guys these awesome brownies I made for the Misfits party.

Crap picture, I know, but these pumpkin-pie brownies (with my own cream cheese topping) were awesome, and not one person knew they were vegan! The recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's blog (no shocker, her being the queen of decadent vegan sweets.) Chocolate and pumpkin might seem like a weird combo, but its heavenly!

I also recently found my copy of Vegan with a Vengeance. Man, I love that cookbook! I consider it to be one of the three pillars of cheap vegan cooking. The other two are Vegan on a Shoestring and Don't Feed the Bears. All three of these cookbooks, in case you don't know, are jammed with delicious and relatively cheap recipes that are really filling and don't rely on super-fancy ingredients. I also just realized that all three have sort of a punk aesthetic... coincidence? (All three are available on Herbivore.)

Anyways, I'd never tried the mustard-maple veggies from VWaV so I made them for my parents the other night along with some creamed cauliflower.
Wow, these were fantastic. Very gourmet tasting and made a great gravy for the cauliflower. And I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry!

And now things are accelerating quickly towards Thanksgiving. Despite the fact that I've already stocked up on recipes to veganize, it looks like I'll be bringing just one or two dishes to Thanksgiving at my Aunt's so I'll need to choose wisely. It won't be like last year's feast, that's for sure. But on the other hand, with all the work I have coming up it will be nice to let others cook! But in case you aren't in the same boat, here's some great places to look for ideas.

*Epicurious.com has lots of vegetarian menus, but many are heavy on the dairy.
*101 Cookbooks has some great ideas in the archive.
*Here are my posts and recipes from last year.
*And here's the uber-inspiring creme de la creme Thanksgiving from WTHDAVEA.


Song of the Day: "Too Too Too Fast"- Ra Ra Riot


Ah! Ich habe deinem mund gekusst....

I know I shouldn't be fixating on fin de siecle romantic Operas. I should be focusing on fin de semester papers and exams. But the lovely/ creepy refrain from the final number of Strauss' "Salome" simply will not leave my head! In it, the precocious teenage dancer-of-seven-veils kisses the severed head of John the Baptist, and finding it bitter with the taste of blood realizes (so I think) that one-sided, unrequited love can be a tragic (and morbid) waste of time. "SO whats the point? Whats the point?!!"

Well, I don't really have an answer... but I would say that dear Salome would probably have been a lot more satisfied in the end if she had sated her creepy blood-lust with a nice bowl of Jennifer's potato-leek soup instead. (Yeah, I know, BIG jump.) Creamy, warm and filling, and no one had to be beheaded. So there.

And if she still felt a little violent she might enjoy breaking out the immersion blender. :)

Here's the recipe!


Guest Blog: Dispatch from the Obama Campaign

My Dad is a cameraman and has been covering the Obama campaign the last few weeks. Here's his impression of food on the campaign trail. :)

Campaign coverage can definitely be hazardous to your health. Last evening, a member of the member of the traveling press protective pool (read that: "Death-watch") that follows the candidate wherever he goes, tripped over a fire hose and broke her shoulder as we we sprinting from the motorcade to cover the victory speech at Grant Park.

I saw her this morning in the hotel lobby, grimly clutching her laptop case and holding a starbucks latte in her slung hand.

Not the least of the hazards come from the food. Twenty hour days, a different hotel every day and constant stress makes for a hungry press corp and the campaign staff obliges by feeding us at every chance they get. Meet in the hotel lobby at 6am: coffee and doughnuts, get on the bus to go the the airport: bacon and egg sandwiches, get on the plane and fly to the next town: full breakfast, back on the bus: snacks, event site: local catering including buffet tables and white tablecloths, back on the bus: more snacks...and on and on til you burst. You get fed an average of six times a day and that number is reflected in bulging waistlines and an average of one heart attack per campaign. My personal method is to eat every other time and never on planes, and I usually manage to lose a few pounds due to the constant running around associated with being a cameraman.

In the past, both republican and democratic campaigns used very similar catering. All the food looked about the same; if you were in the South, it had to be barbeque and mac and cheese and pecan pie, the Midwest meant beef and potatoes, the Southwest was Tex-Mex of course and no trip to Wisconsin or Michigan was complete without beer and sausages. The campaign staff researches the local restaurants and tries to come up wit the best hot dog in Cincinnati, the best burger in Denver, etc etc. The very few vegetarians who travel in the press corp usually get by okay on the side dishes and salads, but its definitely a meat-oriented world.
(I am an omnivore, but the have a vegetarian daughter with proselytizing tendencies.)
So imagine my surprise the other day as I was covering the last week of the Obama Campaign and we come rolling into the press tent to find a complete Thai buffet with curry tofu and pad Thai from a local restaurant in some town I have lost track of.

Next day in Desmoines, Iowa they had contracted with the Ritual Cafe to feed us some awesome red roasted hummus and veggie sandwiches on whole wheat and great fair trade coffee. The choice was salad, veggie chili or sandwiches with cool black cat cookies for Halloween and I didn't hear even one complaint about any lack of meat. And trust me, this is one group that doesn't scrimp on the complaining.

I actually got into a press van in Indiana and found it stocked with raw food from Whole foods, including raw pumpkin bars and something called a spirulina energy bar that actually perked me up a little, no small feat after since we averaged about two hours of sleep a night on the last days of the sprint to the finish.

Now I am not taking sides here, as a journalist that would be wrong, but as the pundits look back on what worked what didn't work in turns of campaign strategies, is it possible a healthier, happier press corp contributed to Obamas' victory? Who knows, its a small thing, but emblematic I think of the campaign's tendency to look forward instead of back.