Pasta with Creamy Lemon sauce, mushrooms and corn

Its no secret that I'm hugely obsessed with Russian history at the moment. So I was stoked to find a huge tome about the Russian Revolution at a used bookstore, and it has been my constant companion in the morning along with a cup of coffee while I pretend to ignore the thousands of things I have to do before I leave. At any rate, I read this paragraph this morning, about a moment on the historic 25th February, 1917, and I had to share it:

"A young girl appeared from the ranks of the demonstrators and walked slowly toward the Cossacks. Everyone watched her in nervous silence: surely the Cossacks would not fire at her? From under her cloak the girl brought out a bouquet of red roses and held it out towards the officer. There was a pause. The bouquet was a symbol of both peace and revolution. And then, leaning down from his horse, the officer smiled and took the flowers.With as much relief as jubilation, the crowd burst into a thunderous 'Oorah!'" (Figes, A People's Tragedy, 310)

Can you believe that really happened!? Just a reminder that truth is wilder than fiction in this crazy world...

Anyways! Despite the hustle and bustle of my last week in town, and my conflicting desire to lie around and read all day, I managed to make something really scrumptious for dinner, so good in fact, that I made it twice. Its a pasta sauce with lemon, white wine, cream, mushrooms and corn... its too delicious for words. Actually, I think it might be suited well to something other than pasta, but I can't think of what yet. So let me just share the recipe, and hopefully you can think of something better to do with this delicious sauce.

Creamy Lemon Sauce with Mushrooms and Corn

-2 small or one big shallot, diced
-Zest and juice of one large lemon
-3/4 C. baby bella or any other type mushroom, sliced
-1/2 C. dry white wine
-Corn from 1-2 sweet corn husks
-3 T. soy creamer
-3 T. Earth Balance

1. In a large pan over medium heat, add shallots, zest, mushrooms, white wine, and lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes or so, until liquid has reduced by 3/4.
2. Add in corn and stir, cooking for another minute or so.
3. Add in cream and reduce heat to low. Continuously stirring, add in EB by the tablespoon, waiting for one to melt before adding the next.

Serve immediately over whole wheat pasta or...?

And thanks to everybody for the tips on what to bring abroad. You guys are brilliant. I think I have narrowed the list to the following:
-Nooch and Arrowroot powder (would that I could bring EB)
-wooden spoon, measuring spoons and cups (yeah, f*ck the metric system!)
-my immersion blender (I just cannot resist.)

Also (because I haven't jumped around enough in this post), I would like to direct you all to go read this awesome post by The Discerning Brute about masculinity and consumption of meat. Its so enraging that people think strength or vitality is conveyed by eating a diet of rotting flesh, and yet this stereotype persists, trapping both women and men in its nonsense. Thank goodness young people have such an array of awesome male and female role models to choose from showing that considering your ethics when you eat is subversive and powerful!

Song of the Day: Ben Folds Five- Underground


La propriété, c'est le vol!

There is no time that I am more fervently anti-property than when its time to move. (Reading all the Proudhon lately probably doesn't help, either.) Not only do I get irritated by all the stupid useless shit I've acquired, but I grow disgusted with the concept of property altogether. We are not equipped as a society to deal with the bountiful and often unrecyclable clutter, not to mention thousands upon thousands of wire hangers, that results from our materialism. Well, I am not equipped as a society. I'm about ready to throw it all in the dumpster.

Yet, while I would think nothing at the moment of giving away my favorite books, clothes, jewelry to anyone who will take them, I have to admit that the materialistic side of me finally flares up when it comes to parting with kitchen supplies. I have tablecloths and home-made aprons from college, pastry-cutters and rolling pins, mismatched measuring tools of all kind, and at least two french presses. So now, the question becomes: what essentials from all of this excess shall I bring to Brussels?

I'm also agonizing over which of my 10,000 cookbooks to bring (and the fact that I can't buy Vegan Brunch or Vegan Lunch Box: Around the World is killing me.) I'm getting to the point where its going to be more spices, gadgets and books than clothes. And we can't be having that in fashionable Bxl. I'd love some advice, internet pals!

Tell me: If you were moving to a foreign country, unsure of what kitchen scenario you would be living in for the next year, what essential kitchen accessories would you pack? Keep in mind I'm limited to 100 lbs over too bags, so my food processor is out. :(

In the meantime, amidst the chaos, I've been making whatever I can throw together to empty my cupboards. A huge curry to get rid of coconut milk, diced tomatoes, chickpeas, and every veg in the crisper. Muffins to get rid of the bananas and flour. Wraps to get rid of frozen corn and the rest of the veg. Etc, etc, etc. Of course, the chocolate hazelnut spread, peanut butter, and pistachios from the cupboard were all finished off at once, with a spoon. :)

And despite being a big bag of nerves over moving and trying to get last minute visa stuff together, I'm incredibly excited to explore Brussels more. I can't wait to discover the vegan cooking scene beyond pommes frites, and try all the belgian ales I can... while of course staying on track with the development of my career. (Of course.) If I can really get everything done on time it will be such a miracle...

Song of the Day: Grizzly Bear- Two Weeks


Cooling-rack pizza and Marinated figs over ice cream

My crazy friend Karen just returned from a summer-long tour all around Central America, punctuated by getting a concussion from a falling coconut. (This is so Karen. You just have to know her to love her.) When I found out she was coming back to town, I offered to cook dinner so we could catch up, ie, gossip. Pizza was obviously just the thing, being hand-held and allowing for maximum conversing. I also thought that prepping a simple dinner for a few hours would help me relax and get out of my head a little bit. Or yeah, take out my aggression on some dough. :)

I've never tried the pizza techniques in Vegan With a Vengeance, always being quite content with Joy of Cooking's classic recipes, but I decided to give it a swing the Isa way. And...WOW. The crust is phenomenal. Despite not having proper pizza pans and having to grill on a crazy cookie cooling-rack, the crust was perfectly chewy, crunchy and amazing.

I also tried the sauce and basil-tofu ricotta from VWaV with equally good results. That sauce is scrumptious, I could eat it with a spoon. And the ricotta is amazingly "ricotta-like", aside from just being yummy in its own right.

Having gotten this far, I know I should have just gone ahead and tried the "Isa Pizza" with pesto and olives and the like, but you know? It takes a special mood to make pesto. I have done it before, I'll do it again, but I have to be in a very particular mind-set to make it, for some reason. Its not something I'll just whip out on a whim.

At any rate, I topped mine instead with spinach, pineapples, broccoli, and thin sliced shallots. It was super, and Karen the non-vegan dug it too.

For dessert, I made up a really simple treat: they sell these marinated figs at the store now (marinated with such things as cloves and vanilla) in a little plastic case. I microwaved them for 20 seconds, and poured over scoops of vanilla soy-dream. Some crystallized ginger would be nice on top as well. Very rich but delish.

Song of the Day: Of Montreal- So Begins Our Alabee


You say its your birthday

So it was my birthday almost the second I got back from the bar, and despite being very nearly brain-dead, we had a nice little party at my parents house with a few friends. It was actually a lot like when I was a kid: I went the neighborhood pool all day, ordered pizza for lunch, and came home to dress up a little and eat a grilled dinner. Aren't summer birthdays the best? The only difference is that when I was a child, my mother would bring me a bag of candy to the pool to hand out to my friends, which I would proceed to devour in about 15 minutes then feel nauseated for the rest of the day. (This year's arrangement was preferable.)

When we got back from the pool my roommate Tim made these awesome watermelon drinks for everybody (although I ended up drinking most of them.) Here's the recipe, originally from epicurious.

Watermelon Vodka Cooler
-3 lbs. watermelon de-seeded and cut into chunks
-1/2 c. vodka
-1/4 c. triple sec
-couple squeezes lime juice

In a blender purée the watermelon pieces and strain through a sieve into a pitcher, discarding the solids. (There should be about 2-1/3 cups juice). Stir in the vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. Pour into ice-filled glassed and garnish with a slice of watermelon, if desired. :)

It was completely perfect weather all day, so we sat outside most of the night, drinking the watermelon drinks, and watching the dogs show off. That's my dog with a squeeze gangster toy that says: "How you doin?". She likes to trick people into thinking she's talking by greeting them with it when they walk outside.

For dinner, I wanted something very simple and yummy that could easily translate for the meat-eaters at the table, since I was outnumbered for once. We opted for grilled vegetable skewers, grilled polenta, and grilled tofu, with a strawberry-spinach-poppyseed salad on the side. The omnis had some kind of bbq'd meat rather than tofu. Everything was perfect, light and satisfying, and for once I didn't do any of the cooking! We also had a chocolate cake but, being occupied blowing out the candles, I didn't get a pic. But still, really, a perfect birthday with perfect people. :)

Song of the Day: Birthday- The Very Best


Buffalo Soldier

The bar exam is over!!! (At least for now...)

So I went to Buffalo, took the dreadful bar exam, and now I'm back in DC! I won't bore you too much with the intricacies of the bar, except to say that it was about 3 times harder than I anticipated, and the proctors were about a million times more strict (I saw a girl get kicked out for bringing in a highlighter). So that's a sign to any of you taking it in the future: this shit is serious. Don't believe the hype, the MBE is impossible! But I still think I have a decent chance of passing, due to the fact that it is so hard, clearly not everyone could have been prepared for it (not that I would wish failing on anyone). At any rate, I don't find out until November, so it's off the table for now.

Anyways, while I was in Buffalo with 600 other suicidal bar takers, I found a couple of neat distractions. Buffalo is a pretty cool town, full of eccentric old buildings and right near some great attractions. First of all, Niagara Falls is right nearby!

Niagara Falls is truly... well... majestic. There's no other word for it, no matter how cheesy that sounds. Its right at the Canadian border and there are a ton of tourists around, all grinning like idiots because its impossible to be unhappy when you're staring at something so gorgeous. It was definitely a great pre-bar mood enhancer, but judging from the faces of tourists from all over the world, the beauty was not lost on less anxiety-prone travelers.

Not only that, but for some reason Niagara Falls is extremely vegetarian-friendly. I have no idea why. I was mystified. Every spot had something veg on the menu, and there was an Indian buffet and falafel shop right by the parking area. Could it be the benign Canadian influence?

Buffalo itself was quite wing and weck-sandwich oriented food-wise, but I did find one heavenly spot: Merge. Apparently Merge is a gathering space for artists as well as a restaurant featuring mouthwatering vegetarian and vegan food. And sure enough, the evening I was there a really cool ensemble band was about to go on. However, community gathering or none, the food is awesome.

There are a number of awesome and creative sandwiches and salads for lunch stuff, and all of the entrees could be veganized if they weren't already. There was also an excellent selection of teas, wine and beer, and a lot of the people that were in there seemed to be hanging out for the scene as much as the food. Given some of the bar scenes I witnessed elsewhere, I can see the appeal of the classy and homey Merge.

We had to try Merge's version of Buffalo wings, being in Buffalo and all, and they were appropriately hot and crunchy seitan with a delish vegan ranch on the side. Great starter.

For my entree, I had an amazing buckwheat crepe stuffed with potatoes, peas, and chickpeas, and covered in a coconut cream sauce and sweet peach chutney. It was a little sweet, but so exactly in line with what I wanted. All of the other menu items were equally multi-cultural, creative and wonderful sounding. I wanted to go back every night I was in Buffalo, but I ended up eating lots of fruit and hummus sandwiches in between last minute cramming. (The hotel actually sent a lot of the bar students a fruit basket, isn't that sweet?)

Our posh hotel room in NYC, overlooking Central Park

After the miserable, terrible bar exam, we decided to head to NYC to partake in a little classy r&r. Among other things, I got to see my friend SMP, go to MOMA, and people watch madly while my braincells reconstituted themselves. I love New York.

I also got to hit up perennial favorite The Candle Cafe. This all-vegan restaurant is always accomodating and delicious.

This time, I had a cornmeal crusted tofu dish, over black forbidden rice and a truly scrumptious gravy. Perfect vegan comfort food. And what is it about forbidden rice that is so amazing? Guess its a taboo. :)

For dessert my friend SMP and I split a couple of cakes- a caramel cheesecake and classic chocolate. On this, they really out-did themselves. Their cheesecake is a thing of beauty.

So now I'm back in Columbia Heights, enjoying walking around aimlessly during the day and reading a biography of Josephine Baker. (LOVE!) There's still a lot to be done before the move to Brussels, but for the moment I'm taking a break (especially since today is my birthday!)

Thanks to everyone who wished me luck, I really needed it. :)

Song of the Day: St. Vincent- The Strangers