A Very Soul Power Christmas


Let's face it: holidays are all about food.

Ceremonies, prayers, costumes... all that stuff can be nice, but nothing beats brunch, dinner, or the moments when you are eating candy at 9 am and nobody gives you any trouble. After all, what's the real show of loyalty and family? Not who's around when you go to bed or open presents, but who comes for dinner!

At my house, Christmas dinner is always a special affair because of the fact that it is also my brother's birthday. This makes for unusual holiday fare (chicken wings and velveeta mac & cheese anyone?) and is not always the most vegetarian friendly. Of course, who can blame him? On your birthday, you want comfort food, special food, but not always, say, a Christmas goose, or a seitan roulade. No problem! The fact that my brother picks out the carniverous portion of the meal leaves me in charge of pleasing my younger brother and I, which is convenient since we can sort of go wild on the crunchy hippy stuff and not try to make crowd-pleasing approximations of omni meals.

Although, for breakfast, we did just that. There's this amazing restaurant in Atlanta called Ria's Bluebird which has gorgeous bluebird murals on the wall, a great friendly atmosphere, and absolutely scrumptious vegan breakfast hash. I have to hit it up every time I'm in town, and one of the best things on the menu is the pancakes with caramelized bananas. Although I wouldn't vouch for this being vegan there, the many times I've re-created it it has always been equally fabulous.

So while my folks munched on the eggs benedict which is traditional in my home, we had some pancakes (recipe courtesy of The Joy of Vegan Cooking) topped with caramelized bananas and pecans. The soysage is Morning Star and (!) not vegan, but since it was already bought I didn't want to disappoint everybody.

To make the bananas, simply heat a few knobs of earth balance until melted, then stir in a fist-full of brown sugar. Blend the two until you've got a nice bubbly syrup going, then add in sliced bananas and coat to your heart's burned-ness content. Top with pecans. Mine were a little mushy today, but fabulous nonetheless. Oh Ria!

For dinner, we decided on a feast of my favorites with the main course being Jimmy's pick. We had the paradise pie from The Candle Cafe cookbook, one of the J's favorite meals EVER, plus a yellow beet salad and the brussels sprouts with apples and tofu from 101 Cookbooks. To drink, I mixed a cheap prosecco with sparkling pomengranite juice for a refreshing cocktail. (At least, to me. Everbody else preferred Heinekin. Yatever.)

So first, the bad news. The 'paradise pie' was so amazing at the actual Candle Cafe that I had very high hopes. Unfortunately, I overcooked the millet and didn't get the beans just right, so although the miso and cinnamon-laced sweet potatoes were scrumptious, it wasn't quite the revelation that it was in NYC. Next time I might used canned black beans as a shortcut... and obviously try not to overcook anything.

The yellow beet salad, on the other hand, came together wonderfully and was extremely simple. I was pulled into some yellow beets at My Organic Market and decided that, despite the holiday-appropriateness of red ones I would give them a go. They were drizzled with a home-made dressing from my Mom that was delicious and broiled on each side for about 8-10 minutes.

Beet Happening Dressing

Combine in a food processor: 2 chopped shallots, 1/3 C. Balsamic vinegar, 3 T. maple syrup or agave nectar, pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle in 1/3 C. Olive oil until blended.

This dressing was a sort-of marinade for the beets, and then tossed into the spinach salad with some pecans (leftover from breakfast) as a landing for them after they came out from under the broiler. So perfect.

And saving the best for last, the Brussels Sprouts! OMG the Brussels Sprouts, with apples and tofu and pistachios! I know, I know, it has to stop, this obsession with those undesirables of the produce section, but holy frying pan was this good! The recipe, which is another brainchild of 101 Cookbooks' Heidi, the woman who brought us caramelized tofu, was beyond fabulous. It was by far the star of the meal, both with omnis and herbis, and so easy to put together (although I used pistachios rather than pinenuts). Cook this immediately. The recipe can be found AQUI.

So all in all, this meal was a bit of a departure from last year. I played around with tradition a bit and some things didn't come together. But tastes change, and I'm very happy with the way things turned out. And now, as a new year's resolution, I must find some new vegetables to obsess about. Any nominations?

Hope everyone's Christmas/ Chanukah was spectacular!


A decent break

I think its difficult to really realize how mentally exhausted you are sometimes after doing a lot of work. For me, I always want to immediately get back to work after finals - complete all the tasks I've been putting off, cook all the recipes I've been meaning to try, do the three weeks of laundry in my closet...ugh! Therefore, its doubly frustrating when you find yourself unable to get out of bed or stop watching episodes of Jake and Amir. It feels like not only are you not getting anything done, but that you're still caught up in finals, which is not a good place to be.

However, after being a little misanthropic and lazy for a few days, I realized that the come-down period was only necessary to get back the emotions and brainpower I had expended over the last few weeks- if I had attempted to try anything new I probably would have completely freaked out! I guess what I'm saying is: if you've been working really hard, don't feel guilty for hibernating a litte! It makes such a difference in your mood and energy!

But anyways, its over, and the world is new! I put on some loud music, cleaned and scrubbed my apartment, paid some parking tickets, and bought some christmas/ Chanukah gifts. And of course, I made some uncomplicated but nourishing food to ease my way back in to living on more than coffee and hummus. Behold, my favorite new sandwhich: roasted beets, avacado, and onions. YUM! And yes, I know I'm overly obsessed with beets. But they're good for you, so fuck it.

As for presents, I tried to go green this year. I rode my bike down to U street, determined to fit everything in my saddlebag. I bought vintage jewelry for for my Mom and Grandma at Legendary Beast, a really amazing jewelry store on U street that has a ton of cool (and weird!) old jewelry, especially egyptian themed stuff. For the rest, I got some gorgeous digital photography prints from Dekka, an artists community store, that also carries clothing and jewelry. To top things off, I wrapped everything in leopard print tissue paper that I've been saving for like, 2 years! I knew being a packrat would come in handy sometime. Everybody seemed to like everything, so I'm happy.

And I didn't make out too badly either, recieving some very lervely books and cookbooks. I got the Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook (I'm overly stoked about the Eggless challah!) the Papa Tofu cookbook that I've been drooling over for-like-ever, Making Stuff and Doing Things, a collection of DIY guides, and a book on Spinoza by Deleuze. I think I've got more than enough to keep me busy for a while and drive the horrors of finals far from my mind.

Hope everybody's holidays were just as lovely!


Anything taking me away from Agency is a good thing

The darling JD at Veggie Terrain tagged me for this meme... which I confess I was sort of secretly wanting to get tagged for anyways, hehe. So now I grant myself permission to take 15 minutes away from non-stop studying misery to find some identity-encapsulating pictures!

This is so me:

This is so not me:

This is so me:

This is so not me:

This is so me:

This is so not me:

This is so me:

This is so not me:

This is so me:

This is so not me:

This is so me:

This is so not me:

Well that was fun! And now, back to work! No food pics since I have been subsisting solely on coffee and thai leftovers for days.... Oh, and I don't have time to see if everyone has already done this, so let's say all the youngins are tagged: if you're under 23 and you read this blog, TAG!


No use crying over spilled soymilk


Wow, so guess what happened to me this week? Its the first week of finals, I have my second 26 page paper due in 3 days, and my ENTIRE computer crashed. As in, hard-drive is completely wiped clean.

It all started the other day when I turned on my computer to find the screen replaced with a blinking question mark. "That's not good," I thought. And so it wasn't. I headed to my friendly neighborhood Apple Store to have it worked on, chastened, but still upbeat.

The Apple Store is increasingly reminding me of a doctor's office the more I go there. There are scared parents rushing in with cracked baby i-phones, ashamed dumbasses like me trying to sheepishly reveal our sketchy symptoms without mentioning that we don't use protection (back-up), and over-cautious newbies bringing their new macbook in because it merely froze. And meanwhile, the smug "geniuses" walk around saying "well, that's not good" and smirking at eachother while jangly hipster music plays in the background.

Well, actually, my "genius" was super nice and did all he could, but my hard-drive is gone, along with 16 lovely pages of my European Union law paper. *SIGH* I guess this is G-d's way of telling me that the last version was crap, and its time to try harder! I just wish my semester's worth of notes could have been salvaged...Oh yeah, and my 6,000 songs... *DOUBLE SIGH*.

At any rate, amidst all this madness I made some serious comfort food- Vegan Yum Yum's Mac & Cheeze. This was my first attempt at vegan mac & cheese, y'all! Can't believe I waited so long! It was way good. Even without the tomato paste or tahini, which I didn't have on hand. Toss in some roasted brussels sprouts and finals season, with its attendant computer woes, seems world's away...

Song of the Day: Somebody got murder- the Clash


Block Rocking Beets

I've been on a kick lately of rediscovering veggies that I used to consider weird and gross. When I first started heading towards vegetarianism about 8 years ago, I was willing to try mildly exotic things (for me, red peppers were exotic) but I had no intention of taking a second look at things like brussels sprouts, lima beans, sprouts, or beets. Now, for some reason, its a thrill to discard my old unadventurous tastes and discover a new love. And I really enjoy mocking my younger brother when he makes a face. Which, come to think of it, is exactly what my parents used to do when I turned my nose up at beets. ("Tastes just like candy!" my Mom used to say.)

Well, I'm snobby no more, and I'm officially in love with beets. The chewy and dense texture, the earthy-sweet flavor, the boatload of folates, manganese and potassium... what's not to love? My Dad bought a sh*tload last week and we've been working our way through them while I take my first crack at finals studyin. The easiest prep is slicing them thinly, tossing with some EVOO and roasting at high temps until the pieces are like chewy beet chips. Tossed with some apples and pecans you don't even need dressing (but it couldn't hurt.)

Of course, I also like the way beets complement caraway seeds and mustard in a dish like the one my Mom made for debate night a few weeks back. My Dad went in another direction for the salad at the top. He was inspired by a Peruvian beet salad he likes at a local restaurant.

Basically, he steamed some potatoes, beets, carrots and onions, and after letting the whole mess cool, tossed it with some oil and red wine vinegar. Super simple, but after a day in the fridge the flavors really "got to know eachother" as he would say, and it was awesome with some simply dressed lettuce. I liked the addition of green onions on top too, for some crunch.

I've also been crushing some brussels sprouts lately, but I keep eating them right out of the oven like popcorn before taking a picture. Am I a major dork for feeling like a bad-ass for liking unpopular vegetables? ;)

Oh, and I hope everyone loved their Thanksgiving dinner! Mine was decent but not the most vegan-friendly fare... but I've got some holidays left, so you just wait and see if I don't make that seitan roulade.