Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Treats

I've been having a really good week. I finished my final papers last Thursday, spend Thursday night in a cozy mess of kittens, Friday getting my haircut and napping, and Saturday baking all day in preparation for my holiday party...I may have gone a teensy bit overboard as I made four kinds of cookies, a chocolate tart, pizzas, brussels sprouts, roasted mushrooms, fresh bread and a 2 gallon jar of my Christmas punch (i.e. highly brandied sangria with cloves, cinnamon and cointreau)...But, the payoff was well worth the nearly 12 hours in the kitchen. There really is nothing like cramming all your friends into your house, feeding them, watching your cat be the belle of the ball, and sending everyone home a little bit drunk and a little high on sugar.

I've shared my take on the PPK's double chocolate cookies before...But, for the party I dreamed up these Whole Wheat Maple Sugar Cookies and a Dark Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Crust to accompany the little chocolate bombs and a batch of PPK "gingervegans." I also made the butternut squash pizza that has become my go to party snack, garam marsala crusted sprouts, and wine roasted mushrooms. The food was a big hit...And given that I made 8 dozen cookies and have less than 2 dozen left...I'd say we all gained about 10 pounds this weekend. Now, to go home, hang with the family and enjoy the slightly balmier weather in Southern California for a few days before coming back to ready myself for all-writing, all the time in January!

Once again, please pardon the pictures. I swear, I need to just hire a food photographer because I cannot keep a digital camera in working order to save my life and the things I make are actually quite pretty!

Whole Wheat Maple Sugar Cookies
1 T ground Flax Seed + 1/4 c Plain unsweetened Hemp milk
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 cup stick of Earth Balance baking shortening
(heaping) 3/4 cup maple sugar
1/2 t vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk the flax seed and hemp milk. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together.

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and maple sugar for 5 minutes until fluffy. Add the flax "egg" and vanilla and mix well. 

Using a rubber spatula, work the dry ingredients into the wet. (This will be a little bit of a workout!) At some point you'll want to get your hands in there and knead the dough lightly to help it come together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 375. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out to 1/4" thick on a well floured counter. Use cookie cutters to cut whatever shapes you like...I used a heart because I <3 Maple-anything. Bake the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 6 minutes. Cool completely before frosting if frosting them is your intent. Unfrosted they're slightly savory, frosted they're totally decadent and super-mapley. 

Super Intense Maple Frosting

1.5 c grade B maple syrup
1/2 c non-dairy butter

In a small sauce pan (non-stick!!!) bring the maple syrup to a boil. Boil the syrup very carefully until it reaches the "thread stage." I don't have a candy thermometer, this is about 235 degrees, but you can smell and see when its ready...It will smell like caramel and the bubbles will be thick. The convection currents in the pan will stir the syrup for you, so watch and don't touch. Carefully transfer the hot syrup to a mixing bowl, cover and refrigerate until it is about room temp. When the syrup is cool, cube the non-dairy butter, toss it in the syrup and cream with a hand mixer until the frosting is soft and fluffy. Keep in the fridge until you're ready to frost your cookies.

Dark Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut Crust

16 oz Dairy Free Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped (I like this one.)
4 T good quality brandy
1 t freshly ground cinnamon
15 oz can coconut milk (not lite!)

1 flax "egg" (1 T ground Flax + 3 T plain unsweetened hemp milk)
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off and allowed to cool completely
1 cup all purpose flour
3 T sugar
1 t salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cubed
1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350. In a small food processor, pulse the hazelnuts, salt and sugar until finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to mix. Add the cubed shortening and pulse until the mixture is clumping into fine pea-shaped lumps. Add the vanilla and "egg" and pulse until the dough just comes together. 

Turn the dough out into a 9" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press it evenly across the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Once the dough has been patted into place, cover the surface of the dough with parchment paper and either weight the crust with pie weights, or use  rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and paper and bake for another 10 minutes until the whole crust is golden. If the edges look like they're getting over done, cover them lightly with aluminum foil.

Let the crust cool completely in the pan on a rack.

To make the filling: In a large glass bowl, pour the vanilla and brandy over the chocolate. Bring the coconut milk and vanilla to a boil. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes. Then stir slowly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until the ganache is smooth and shiny. Pour the chocolate into the prepared tart shell, allow to cool completely (at least 3 hours) before refrigerating overnight to set. Serve at room temperature. 

 Savory Squash and Caramelized Onion Pizzas (Makes 2 smallish pizzas)
These are my signature party snacks. Super simple, rather healthy, and always a crowd pleaser.

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 t active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
4 tablespoons dark beer
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
2 teaspoons salt
2 T olive oil

Mix the yeast and water in a large bowl. Then add the beer, syrup, salt and olive oil. Stir to combine. Using a fork, work the flour into the liquid until it becomes hard to mix, then use your hands to form it into a large ball. Knead the ball gently on a lightly floured counter, wash the bowl, dry and coat with olive oil. Place the dough back in the bowl and allow to rise for about 2 hours. It should double in size. When the dough is done rising, punch it down on a flour counter and break in half. Form each half into a ball and allow to rest for 10 minutes before rolling and topping.

4 red onions, sliced into thin half moons
1/8 c olive oil + 2 T
1 3lb butternut squash, roasted
6- 8 sage leaves
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Heat the 1/8 c of olive oil on LOW HEAT in a large, deep saucepan with a tight fitting lid. When the oil is hot, add the onions and stir to coat. Cover with the lid and stir every 5 or so minutes. It will take about an hour for the onions to properly caramelize. You do not want them to start to brown up immediately as this will result in a charred flavor. 

In the mean time, chop the garlic and sage in a food processor. Scoop the squash in and purée until well mixed. 

When the onions are done, preheat the oven to 450 and prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper and cornmeal if you like to use it. Place the rolled out dough on the sheets and brush 1 T olive oil over each pizza crust, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread about 1 cup of the squash mixture over each pizza crust, garnish generously with onions and walnuts and bake for about 15 minutes until the crust is crisp and the walnuts are well toasted. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Pt. 1: PIE

The last two years I've spent quiet little Thanksgivings gorging on stuffed peppers and chocolate coffee pie with two of my loveliest friends. This year, we're breaking that winning streak and all have different plans. I'm a bit sad, as I've really loved veg-giving as a Chicago tradition! This year I'm going to the home of one of my professors, and I have no idea how vegan-friendly the meal will be...I've already planned to bring a slice of veggie terrine and my favorite (now-veganized!) side-dish just in case!

But, today is about pie. I've also decided to bring a pie...Because once you get past the spicy sweet potatoes, garlicky greens, mashed potatoes, and delicious, delicious rolls, Thanksgiving is a day all about pie. Why aren't there more days that are all about pie? I don't know...Pie, my friends, is a superior dessert and should be eaten more often!

I'm a bit of a pie-junky. Pecan and strawberry-rhubarb are my favorites, though I've never turned my nose up at any pie. And, in my mind there are really only two (well, now three) options for Thanksgiving: Pumpkin or Apple...And, since meeting my friend Joe, vegan chocolate-coffee pie! I wanted to do something a little different from your average pumpkin pie after my friend Corrina (part 3 of veg-giving) made a layered pecan-pumpkin pie last year. So, as I perused my sort of endless blog roll and collection of cookbooks, I cobbled together a coconut-milk based pumpkin pie with a hazelnut base using Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking and Heidi's recipe for Spice-Kissed Pumpkin pie from 101-Cookbooks. I made the crust from Colleen's book, following the instructions to a T (except I used a fork to cut in the fat because I don't have a full-sized food processor...yet!)...And, it is by far the best crust I've made; it's extremely flaky, and didn't burn at all in the hour it took to bake the pie! Because the recipe I put together made a little extra, I also made some "cup-pies" to deliver to friends who have to work tomorrow!

Vegan-Pumpkin Pie with a Hazelnut Base (Yield: 1 9" pie, 5- 6 cup-pies)
2 small pie pumpkins, roasted with olive oil and salt, flesh scooped out (You need 1.75 cups of roasted pumpkin purée for the pie)
12 oz. Silken Tofu
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 t vanilla
2 t ground cinnamon
heaping 1/4 t ground gloves
heaping 1/4 t allspice
heaping 1/4 t ground ginger
heaping 1/4 t ground mace
1/2 t salt

Hazelnut base
2 cups raw hazelnuts, roasted on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 350 for 10- 15 minutes, skins rolled off after roasting
2 t brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla

9" pie pan
1 muffin tin

1 "Flaky Pie Crust" from The Joy of Vegan Baking (Halve it as instructed)

You can make the pie filling a couple of days ahead and refrigerate it. Be sure that the pumpkin is COOL when you blend the ingredients together!

In a blender combine the roasted pumpkin purée, tofu and coconut milk. Blend until smooth and then add the sweeteners, spices, salt and vanilla. Purée until well-blended and place in the refrigerator. 

In a small food processor, blend the sugar, hazelnuts, and vanilla until they form a grainy paste. Set aside. 

Roll out one half of the pie crust into a 12" circle. Transfer the crust to the pie tin, press in, and pierce the bottom all over with a fork. Trim the edge of the crust so that you have a 3/4" overhang and roll the extra crust into a ball and return to the refrigerator with the prepared pie-plate.

Roll out the second half of the dough into as large a circle as you can. Cut out 5- 6 4" circles using either a cookie cutter or a sharp knife. Grease 5- 6 of the spaces in your muffin tin and press the crusts into the tin. Pierce the bottoms of the crusts with a fork and then place in the refrigerator. Roll the extra crust into a ball and return to the fridge.

After thirty minutes, remove the extra crust and roll out until about 1/8" thick. Cut whatever decorative shapes you'd like out of the crust and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350. 

To prepare the pies: 

Spread 1/2 of the hazelnut paste in an even layer over the bottom of the pie plate. Pour about 2/3 of the pie filling in over the top and spread evenly. Press the edges of the crust with a fork to create a decorative edge and place however many decorative crust shapes on the top of the pie as you'd like.

For the cup-pies, put about a teaspoon of hazelnut mixture in the bottom of each pie and then fill to the top with pie-filling. Top each cup-pie with a decorative shape. 

Brush all exposed crust lightly with simple syrup.

Both the cup-pies and the 9" pie should bake in the top 1/3 of the oven. The 9" pie bakes for 50 minutes and the cup-pies bake for 20 minutes. Cool the pies on a rack for 2 hours then place in the refrigerator to set. Serve cold or at room temperature. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Slaw: Beets, Carrots, Apples & Raisins

In the Summer I am addicted to beet + carrot slaws dressed simply with tahini, lemon, garlic and a sprinkling of chopped mint. It makes a great stuffing for a pita, base for a chickpea salad, or topper for a mixed green salad. Tonight, after grazing through some maple cookies from Trader Joe's, a pile of arugula, and some lackluster store-bought hummus, I was craving something fresh and crunchy as an antidote. So, I threw together my usual beet and carrot slaw, adding a granny smith apple, a handful of golden raisins, and a dash of cinnamon. It was a great end to a snacking supper, and I anticipate it will make a super sandwich tomorrow.

Winter Slaw
2 medium sized beets, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 large carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 granny smith apple, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 handful golden raisins
3 cloves of roasted garlic
2 T roasted sesame tahini
1/2 T agave
Juice from a large lemon
1/4 t + cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

I usually chop my root veggies in my 4 cup food processor to save time. When you're working with beets this leads to everything turning pink...But, they're going to turn everything pink anyway, so why not save yourself the time?

Toss the chopped veggies, apple, and raisins in a large bowl. In a small food processor, combine the roasted garlic, tahini, agave, cinnamon and lemon juice. Puree until emulsified and taste. Add more cinnamon depending on your preference. Toss the slaw in all of the dressing and garnish with salt and pepper to taste. If you have fresh mint, it makes a great garnish for this salad, but it doesn't rely on it for flavor.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies/ My first go at recipe testing

So, this Saturday I'll be spending about 7 hours in a windowless room with a group of 10 other students pouring over applications to our student run galleries and deciding on six shows for the Spring semester. As our faculty adviser usually provides lunch from somewhere terrifying (think Jimmy John's, barf) I've planned to put together some vegan treats for the group. Usually I'd make a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a batch of double chocolate cookies and call it a day, but I've been really, really into peanut butter cookies lately. I've been making these pretty much weekly. 

The thing about peanut butter cookies is that they're salty and sweet and in my mind they're on par with an energy bar healthy as far as cookies go. Conveniently, a couple weeks ago, Lindsay from Kiss Me I'm Vegan sent out a request for recipe testers for Ellen Abraham's new book Simple Treats...And, of course, I jumped on that opportunity as quickly as possible. When the recipe for these PB&J thumbprints landed in my mailbox last week, I was super excited to get to baking. Combining oats, freshly roasted peanuts, and maple syrup the base for these babies might be my new go to peanut butter cookie...even if they technically don't contain any peanut butter! 

These thumbprints are light, a little crumbly, and just the right ratio of salty to sweet. Topped with a baby bit of Concord grape jelly they're the cookie version of my childhood lunchbox. (Or rather, other kids' childhood lunch boxes, my mom was never happy with a PB&J. I always had lovingly made veggie sushi rolls or something equally colorful. <3 you mom!) I have a feeling that this will be a great cookbook. The cookies took all of 20 minutes from start to finish, which is pretty ideal when you've just realized that there are only like 6 weeks left in the semester, you can't get your thesis readers to agree on a date for your proposal review and all you want to do is win the lottery, buy a house that actually stays warm and start living on your own time by which I mean, sleeping more, yoga-ing more, and e-mailing less. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Exhaustion and Stew

As the semester wears on, I find myself feeling the same exhaustion and apathy that completely derailed me this Spring: I'm tired, I'm feeling a little unmoored, I'm unmotivated, and I pretty much only want to sleep and party. None of this bodes well and I'm trying to get out of the funk by drinking lots of mood elevating tea blends and trying really, really hard to hit the gym on a regular basis. Part of me suspects that graduate school develops this hazy brain-cloud and makes people avoid things of interest because they don't want to do their work, but feel guilty doing anything else. I can't tell you how good I've become at staring off into space... I also am starting to feel the wear and tear of a small social circle, where most members are involved in relationships and projects and other circles that keep this circle from developing into the sort of bonded, warm, lovey-ness that all of us only children crave. We're community builders: Cantankerous, often selfish, and totally need to have artificial or real families around all the time. We like to live alone, but we want you to come for dinner. We need to be in a position to please a group, delight guests, and snuggle up to warm friendly bodies. The isolation of scholarship feels too much like those afternoons from our childhood when we just knew that all of our other friends were having backyard adventures, tumbling around with their siblings and neighbors in glorious laughter while we were sitting alone under a tree reading a book. And really, really would have preferred to be tumbling and laughing... 

That is, in fact, pretty much how I feel every time I sit down to read. I love reading, but also have sort of grown to hate it. Reading is a lonely activity. And, just as when I was 8, 9, 10...I am alone so much of time. I'd rather be around people, laughing and talking and dancing or whatever. I can remember, with perfect clarity, the last time that I really, really enjoyed reading. I was in bed with a boyfriend. It was summer. We were both wearing enormous band t-shirts, tanned, tired, and relishing the fan's cooling breezes as we sipped iced tea, read our big novels (Umberto Eco writes more than theory) and soaked in the warm, sweet smell coming in through the open windows. Some people aren't very good at reading in tandem, but this particular ex was excellent at it. He never interrupted, except to press feet or offer a tea refill or occasionally get up leaving with nary a word, just one of those back of the head kisses that some people are so good at giving. It was like reading was quality time that we spent together, we'd often wake up after a good night in bed with books and talk about the stories spinning in our heads over decadent home-made brunches. While most of our relationship was rather lackluster, I miss the reading and hope to someday meet someone with whom I can read again.

I've been making a concerted effort to do things I like to do more often, namely going to shows. In the last two weeks I've seen Deerhunter and Four Tet, both of which are musical acts that get deep into my bones and rattle my muscles and clear my head only to fill it with big imaginings. Tuesday, my lovely friend Rachel and I are going to see Gary Numan. I anticipate that we will have an excellent time. 

Anyway, in preparation for attempting to blog 5 days a week this November as part of VeganMoFo, I'm trying to warm back up to the blog. I've been busy and abnormally sleepy and eating a lot of salads, so I haven't had much to share on the food front. Though, as the weather gets cooler, my Irv and Shelly's box becomes more heavy with squash and I recently re-visited one of my absolute favorite recipes: Madhur Jaffrey's Chickpea, Pumpkin and Raisin Stew. It might be in my top five favorite things to eat. I mean...just look at it, even in a terrible iPhone photo it's a sight to behold and it is JAM-packed with nutritious and delicious and the recipe makes a lot, like enough to serve 8. So, no arguing, make this instead of a pie the next time you find yourself puzzling over a sugar pumpkin. I serve it with a rose-scented cous cous which I think really takes the whole thing to the next level. In fact, its so good that I challenge you to eat just one bowl. I'm pretty sure that its impossible.

Chickpea, Pumpkin and Raisin Stew (Very slightly adapted from World Vegetarian)

1t ground ginger
1t ground cumin
1t ground paprika
1/4t ground tumeric
1/4 t cayenne

3 T olive oil
1 cinnamon stick

1 medium onion, peeled and cut into fine half-rings

3 medium tomatoes chopped and peeled (or one can of chopped tomatoes with the juice drained)
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups roasted pumpkin (about one small-medium pie pumpkin, roast it cut side down for about 45 minutes and then just scoop it out into bite size pieces)
3 T raisins
3.5 cups vegetable stock
salt to taste

1 cup zucchini cut into 1/2" dice
2 T finely chopped cilantro (+ more for garnish)
2 T finely chopped parsely (+ more for garnish)

Heat the oil in a good sized soup pot, when hot add the cinnamon stick and fry it for 2- 3 minutes. When the stick is fragrant, add the onion and cook for 3- 4 minutes until medium brown.

Add the ground spices, stir, and quickly add the tomatoes and cook for 3- 4 minutes. When the tomatoes are soft, add the chickpeas, pumpkin, raisins, stock and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook covered at low heat for 15 minutes. 

Uncover and add the zucchini and chopped herbs and let them cook until just tender. You want the zuchini to still be a little al dente. 

Rose-scented cous cous with pistachios and raisins
1 box instant cous cous
2 cups filtered water
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup shelled roasted and salted pistachios
1 t rosewater
1 T olive oil
1 handfull chopped parsley (or mint)

Bring the water and oil to a boil in a small pan. Remove from the heat and add the cous cous and raisins. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes until cous cous is cooked. Add the rose water and then fluff with a fork and garnish with nuts and parsely. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Roasted + Stuffed Delicata Squash

Something about setting a place for myself at the end of the day always makes me feel much better taken care of than I am. 

Roasted + Stuffed Delicata Squash
1 Delicata squash, halved and seeds removed
olive oil

1/4 cup sweet onion, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 t Aleppo Pepper (Could sub 1/2 t red pepper flakes)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups red kale, de-stemmed, rinsed and torn into small pieces
1/4 cup chunky almond meal (pulse a handful of raw almonds in your food processor until they are half the texture of flour and half very small chunks)
1 T nutritional yeast
2 T tomato paste
1 cup cooked adzuki beans with about 2 T of their cooking water (can sub veggie stock for the cooking water)
1 t orange zest

1/2 t fennel seeds
1/2 t mustard seeds

5- 6 cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly brush the squash with olive oil and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. When you can handle the squash, scoop a little of the flesh out of each half to make larger boats for the filling. Reserve the scooped out squash.

While the squash is roasting, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and shallots and cook slowly so that they caramelize a bit. I don't mean brown the onions, I mean cook them low and slow so that they get nice and sweet (about 10 minutes). Add the Aleppo pepper and red pepper and cook for another couple of minutes until soft. Add the kale and allow it to gently wilt. Stir in the almond meal, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked adzuki beans, the cooking water and the orange zest.

In a small, covered frying pan heat 1 T olive oil and add the fennel seeds and mustard seeds. Remove from the heat when you hear the seeds start to pop. Stir the oil and the whole spices into the filling with the scooped out squash. Taste for salt (I didn't need any).

Mound the filling evenly into the squash halves. Decorate the tops with the halved tomatoes, face down. Place the squash back into the oven for 15 minutes. When the squash is done cooking, allow it to settle for a couple of minutes before serving as it will be very hot. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stress--> Baking

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1/2 c Earth Balance
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c vegan sugar
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1.5 T flax meal blended with 3 T non-dairy milk

1 c quick cook oats
3/4 c vegan chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped dried tart cherries

Line a cookie sheet with unbleached parchment paper and place in the freezer.

Sift the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the earth balance and sugar for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, cinammon and flax/milk "egg" and beat for one more minute.

Fold in the dry ingredients until you have a sticky dough. Mix in the oats, chocolate chips and cherries. If the dough is still really wet, add another 1- 2 T flour.

Place the cookie dough in the fridge for 15 minutes while the oven preheats to 350.

Scoop the dough (about 1.5 T/ cookie) onto the cold cookie sheet and bake in the top of the oven for 15 minutes, turning the sheet halfway through. Let the cookies cool on a rack...And try not to eat them all yourself.

Depending on how much cookie dough you eat, this recipe makes about 20 large-ish cookies.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quinoa salad inspired by Kelly + an interlude about a boy

On a bed of delicious greens.

Quinoa salad with herbs, tahini and fresh veggies
1 cup quinoa cooked
4 Thai eggplants, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
3 carrots, shredded
1 beet, shredded
1/3 cup tart dried cherries

3 T roasted sesame tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic

1/2 cup mint, chopped
1/2 cup parsely, chopped

unbleached salt + pepper + olive oil

Rinse the quinoa and then toast lightly in 1 T olive oil. Add 1.5 cups of water and cook until done, but not mushy. Set aside.

Generously salt the eggplant after dicing and set aside while you chop the other veggies. Try to get a consistent size on everything. Drain, rinse and dry the eggplant after about 10 minutes.

Heat about 2 T olive oil in a large skillet. Add the eggplant and let cook for 2 minutes before adding the bell pepper, tomato and cherries. Cook together for about 5 minutes. Everything should stay pretty al dente, but you want the flavors to marry.

In a small food processor make an emulsion with the tahini and lemon (it will turn into a mayonnaise-y consistency) and then add the minced garlic.

When the veggies are done dump them in a big bowl with the cooked quinoa, shredded beets and carrots, and tahini dressing. Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. When the salad has cooled stir in the green herbs and serve.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What's that cool crisp feeling?

Earlier this week Chicago was hot and sticky. The last drags of Summer hanging around like little temptations as what might be my last school year began. Tuesday night I was drunkenly skinny dipping in Lake Michigan, riding my bike home in damp shorts, and reveling in the heavy air. By Friday the air was cold, and I felt the need to put on gloves to bike home. (I didn't have gloves so I pussied out and popped my bike on the blue line so that I could ride home with a friend.) This morning, I woke up early to a bluebird day with muscles that feel sore in the best possible way. I jumped out of bed to seriously chilly air, made some tea, moved through some sun salutations to get my body moving and my blood warmed up, and hit the grocery store. (Last night's dinner consisted of a So Delicious yogurt, a slab of baked tofu and some chips...So, things were getting a little desperate.) Walking down Division at 8am on the first autumnal day of the year was like a little revelation. I may be a big fan of Summer, but my heart belongs to the Fall. The slight change in the angle of the sun, the feeling of being neatly contained in a sweater and jacket, the rustle of leaves...the smell. I just love it. I will be really sad to be boxed into a regular job (FINGERS CROSSED!) this time next year. 

Anyway, last night, after eating a totally unsatisfactory dinner and passing out watching the really, really terrible Benjamin Button with a friend, I woke up around midnight and set some beans to soak in order to avoid another day of irresponsible eating. (It's been a long, long week of picking at crudité platters at orientation events my friends...A long week of vats of not so tasty hummus and sad looking carrot sticks.) I've been craving Sweet Potatoes with alarming regularity and I was thinking all week about a brothy, miso-based sweet potato/adzuki/kale soup. But, this turn in the weather made me want something a little bit heartier. I cooked up batches of black beans, adzukis, and chick peas this morning and put together a little mixed bean salad and a really nice sweet potato and adzuki soup.

Quick Gingered Sweet Potato Soup with Adzuki Beans and Miso
1 T olive oil
1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed (skin on)
1 sweet onion minced
1 bay leaf
2" of ginger minced
1/2 t fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 t red miso
1/2 vegan bouillon cube
1/2 cup adzuki beans, cooked (I cook mine with just a 1" piece of kombu for flavor and add a little salt at the end)
1/2 t smoked paprika
cilantro for garnish

Sweat the onions in a large sauce pan with the olive oil. When the onions start to become fragrant (about 5 minutes) add the cubed sweet potato and continue to stir until the sweet potato becomes fragrant. Toss in the fennel seeds, ginger and bay leaf. Stir for a minute or two before adding the water, miso and bouillon. Simmer until the sweet potato starts to fall apart, then remove the bay leaf and buzz lightly with an immersion blender. The soup should be chunky rather than silky. Add the adzukis and the smoked paprika and remove from the heat. Serve garnished with cilantro. 

Just for fun, here's a shot of my bean salad. It's delicious, but doesn't really merit a recipe as its just beans, a little herbed vinaigrette, chopped bell pepper, dill and tarragon. 

As ready as I am for Fall, I'm really hoping for one last look at Summer this weekend, and maybe a Labor Day BBQ at the beach?! But, I'm glad for the cool weather today...I'm hoping it will be a good incentive to get some reading done (homework!) and I think dates always go better when the weather is cool...Oh, right...I'm going on a date, like a real date with a pre-appointed time and a meal involved. I'm not really sure about how this works. I thought dates were where two people who kind of know each other put some wine in a brown bag and sit in a park and talk until they accidentally-on purpose make out. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Skin Magic

I've had terrible skin my entire life--acne ridden, simultaneously oily and dry, prone to red flushes. But, here's the thing...It has always had a lot of potential. Sometimes, with the right magic combo of cleansers and medication I've seen this potential realized. But, it has never lasted long. I did three courses of Accutane which left me with chronic stomach trouble, but I still don't have clear skin. About a year ago, I went off of my hormonal birth control. Despite my total commitment to not being pregnant, the HBC makes me kookoo bananas. And, while I feel a million times better emotionally, this little change has done nothing but make the skin issue worse. That is, until I found the world's best cleanser...Oh, wait, its not just an amazing skin loving magic elixir, its also vegan and smells really, really good. 

Made by a company called Earth Science, this cleanser is similar to Cetaphil, but isn't tested on animals and doesn't contain all the nasty chemicals that the dermatologist's favorite does. I've been using it as part of my Proactiv routine--in place of the scrubby cleanser at night. I like it so much that I've been using it in place of the Proactiv cleanser in the morning many days too. It takes make-up off like a dream, my skin has this amazing glow, and best of all...NO NEW BREAK OUTS. I'm thrilled. If this keeps on going my skin might actually start living up to its potential and I might be able to stop researching crazy holistic treatments like peeing on my face. And, I can stick to my only mascara make-up routine for my date on Saturday. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recipe: Edamame Hummus

I'm back in Chicago after my glorious and reflective Summer in New York. Its safe to say that the return is bittersweet...But, I've been greeted with lovely end of Summer weather, brand new blue line subway cars, and a bevy of friends that I have missed dearly...And, my beautiful, clean, uncluttered, ex-boyfriend free apartment and its giant kitchen is a freaking revelation after J's permanently dusty, tzotchke-stuffed Greenwich Village studio. Okay, maybe I'm a little bit happy to be here?! What I am not happy about is having to present my (not yet finished) thesis proposal tomorrow, and the fact that with that presentation Summer officially ends.

So, what's a girl to do when she has a ton of writing to bang out? Putter around in the kitchen of course! After visiting Moby's Tea café on the Lower East Side this Summer, I've become deeply obsessed with Edamame Hummus. I've made several versions trying out different accents, and finally landed on a good basic recipe that is totally fool proof and totally delicious. Its just salty enough, a little tangy from the lime and rich enough to occupy the starring role in a sandwich. I like it on rice crackers with pickled ginger and in nori wraps with sweet potato, bell peppers, and spinach. And, if you're needing a little pick me up, it comes out a really nuclear shade of cheery green!

Edamame Hummus
1/3 cup cilantro (this is basically 1/3 of a good sized bunch from the grocery store, leaves only)
1 clove garlic
1.5 cups thawed frozen, shelled, organic edamame (unsalted)
3 t tahini
2 t olive oil
2 t rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1+ T white miso
5- 6 T warm water

In a food processor or blender, whir the garlic and cilantro until they are well chopped. Add the thawed edamame and pulse on low. Then add the tahini, miso, olive oil, rice vinegar and lime juice. Blend for 4- 5 minutes, adding the warm water slowly until the hummus is smooth and fluffy. Taste. If you'd like it to be a bit saltier add a small amount more miso or a pinch of sea salt.

I have a backlog of tales about many last indulgent dinners alone in New York and a great trip to Asheville, NC. But they'll have to wait until this proposal is done!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The way it is isn't the way it has to be.

The New York Times and NPR have both been bumming me out lately. Not simply because being aware of what's going on in the world necessarily means being aware of a lot of nasty, terrible, and scary things, but because I've discovered a propensity toward certain biases in the opinion and news sections of both that I find disconcerting and frightening. 

With NPR it has been the recent realization that a lot of their food coverage is stunningly anti-veg and that their commenting base, which I would assume to be a relatively educated and socially aware group, is shockingly, often hatefully and violently anti-veg. I understand fully that going vegan or vegetarian isn't something that most or even many people will ever do.  Though, I do believe that I am not unreasonable to advocate for better farming practices and a re-evaluation of the sheer quantity of animal products the average American person consumes. I also understand that being vegan, vegetarian and a conscious consumer of food produced in a sustainable manner and grown close to home is tied up with a lot of class and race issues. (I blame our government and the ridiculous and illogical farm subsidies that favor factory farms over small farms for some of this...) It is a simple fact that just getting enough to eat is hard for a huge number of people in the U.S. and beyond. And, I think that if you're legitimately struggling to survive, its pretty obvious that when deciding what to eat where/how/and from what it was produced are not at the top of one's list of concerns. But, NPR just never seemed like it would be a place that would label me a freak because I'm vegan...Or a place that would defend consuming meat at the majority of one's meals as some sort of inalienable right.

With the New York Times, its been the coverage of the over-turn of Proposition 8  (Yay!) and the articles that they keep publishing on how special and amazing marriage (particularly hetero marriage) is. This one in particular really made me upset. I know that this is an opinion piece. And, I like opinion pieces. I like to see lots of opinions on major issues. I feel like by reading them all I'm getting something nearer the big picture than if I only read the opinion that I agree with or the "objective" front page story on the issue. However, Ross Douthat, is an ass who does not understand this country's constitution. And he is so painfully narrowminded in his thinking about what constitutes a significant relationship between human beings, that I wonder if he's ever left your gated Christian community. (I do not know that Douthat lives in a gated community, I doubt that he does, I'm just sayin'...) And he makes me upset because I know that a lot of people agree with him and have the same misunderstandings about the legally defined role of the state in U.S. law. A lot of people.

Here are just a few examples of the nonsense this wad decided to spew in the Grey Lady today:
Rather, it’s that lifelong heterosexual monogamy at its best can offer something distinctive and remarkable — a microcosm of civilization, and an organic connection between human generations — that makes it worthy of distinctive recognition and support.
But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.
But based on Judge Walker’s logic — which suggests that any such distinction is bigoted and un-American — I don’t think a society that declares gay marriage to be a fundamental right will be capable of even entertaining this idea.

Here's the thing. My parents are married, many of my friends are married, lots of people want to get married. That's great. I support and respect that. I love that those people are able to have a public celebration and easily explained set of terms, that are legally protected (if they're hetero, but hopefully for all couples very soon!) to define their relationships. But marriage is not the only or most significant of relationships between people. I hate to ever cite Sex and The City, but you may remember the episode where Carrie's Manolo's get stolen at a baby shower and her friend refuses to replace them because shoes are frivolous and then Carrie registers at the Manolo store because she is tired of being treated like less-than because she's unwed and childless? Yeah, well as hetero-normative and grossly consumerist as the SATC story arc may be, this isn't exactly a bad point. Why is it that, as a society, we prize marriages (especially hetero marriages that make babies) above all other relationships? 

Enter Glenn Greenwald, my hero for the day. His f*cking brilliant response to Douthat on brought tears to my eyes. He's so logical, so informed, so moderate and rational. Recognizing that Douthat, like so many opponents to gay marriage (and so many who believe that marriage and parenting is the most special thing any person can ever be involved in) argues that Judge Walker's ruling is ridiculous because it is making a moral judgment, Greenwald penned one of the most incisive and well-written take downs that I've ever read. Because, in fact, Judge Walker's ruling does the opposite of what Douthat claims, it overturns a law that is unconstitutional because it restricts the access of homosexual couples who want to be recognized in the eyes of the state on the grounds that there exists a moral difference between a hetero and a homosexual partnership. Here's Greenwald's eloquent explanation:

Douthat is quite confused about what Judge Walker actually ruled.  He did not decree that there are no legitimate moral, theological or spiritual grounds for viewing heterosexual marriage as superior.  That's not what courts do.  Courts don't rule on moral, theological or spiritual questions.  Such matters are the exclusive province of religious institutions, philosophers, communities, parents and individuals' consciences, but not of the State.  That's the crux of this judicial decision. 
Hear that? "Courts don't rule on moral, theological, or spiritual questions." 
The court ruled opposite-sex-marriage-only laws unconstitutional not because it concluded that heterosexual and homosexual marriages are morally equal, but rather, because it's not the place of the State (or of courts) to make such moral determinations.
Thank you Glenn Greenwald for explaining, in such clear terms, the role of the state. You are a gem and a gift to our times.

But, as great as Greenwald's article is, I don't know that it digs far enough into Douthat's argument about marriage being some sort of ultimate ideal of our culture. Marriage, whether gay or straight, is not some super-special-magic-civilization potion. There are a lot of ways to imagine a family. A family is not always nuclear and there are a plenitude of care groups that function like families without fitting into the norm of two people who are married, own property together and may also raise children together. Those other families should be recognized with legal rights and social acceptance as well. Here is a great source for some well-written opinions on the matter.
As for me, I think that if you want to get married, you should be able to.  No matter who you are. If we're friends and you get married, I'll come and celebrate and sincerely send you well-wishes for a lifetime of happiness. I believe in love and commitment and partnership. But, love takes all kinds and all formulas and all arrangements and none of them are any more important or any more special than any other. And, I don't think your wedding is a more significant an event than my (or anyone's) thirtieth birthday, birth and/or death, college graduation...Or any number of other exciting and important life moments that we chose to mark with parties and presents. It is super important, but not the ultimate ideal of important life things. There isn't one. For every life there are many amazing moments and many amazing commitments.

So, lets just go for broke and let love in all its forms be publicly sanctioned and important.

Sartorial Wishing

I am a devoted clothes horse. In my apartment I have 2 large closets (stuffed), a covered close rack (filled to the gills), and two dressers (exploding at all times)...This is not to mention the rubbermaid bins under my bed and the many, many pairs of shoes. Here's the thing though. A lot of this stuff I've had for 8+ years and its ratty, doesn't fit right and needs to go. But, due to the lame conditions of being an educated (read: really in debt) woman in the arts (read: actually needs cocktail dresses for professional reasons) I get anxious about purging. What if I really need that tulle mini skirt because I get invited to a cabaret event?! Here's the thing though, my style is all about streamlined looks. I like cool patterns (current obsession: Ikat), neutrals (black, grey, hunter green, navy, white) and classics, architechtural details, vintage styled dresses, high waists, and tough jewelry. When I get back to Chicago in a couple weeks I'm planning a genuine clean out. No more hanging on to things I think are horrid just because. No, I will have a streamlined, simple wardrobe like I've always wanted. With my birthday approaching in just under two months and this planned purge, I am of course lusting after some new items. Behold what is sure to be the first of many Polyvore sets to grace this blog...My fall desires minus an Ikat scarf, because I've yet to find one that is vegan friendly.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Necessity is the mother of invention.

 I woke up so early this morning! It always feels good to wake up at 5:30, of one's own accord, and feel happy about it. What doesn't feel so good is waking up and remembering that you forgot to buy orange juice, so you have everything for your usual Stawberry/Mango/Banana/Flax breakfast smoothie but the liquid that makes the blending possible. So, you sigh. Your stomach grumbles a bit. You reflect on a weekend where you ate at Candle Cafe, Counter, and Caravan of Dreams and wonder if any weekend of impulsive eating out will ever be so satisfying again once your re-sequestered in the Midwest. And, then, at the crucial moment, you discover an unopened container of almond milk in the cabinet and inspiration strikes: Almond/Strawberry/Banana...And you wind up with the best goddamn breakfeast in a glass that you've had in a while. Really, it was as good as the Caravan of Dreams Almond butter shake that you split with your ex and his brother after another awkward dinner last night and that f*cker was made with ice "cream" from Stogo (The 2nd best vegan ice cream in New York!)! It seems silly to post a smoothie recipe, but I can't help it...It's guilty pleasure, milkshake and cookies for lunch delicious.

1 cup frozen organic strawberries
1 largish banana
2 T unsweetened and unsalted almond butter (I get the 365 brand from Whole Foods)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t vanilla
1 t maple syrup
1+ cup unsweetened almond milk
*Not my picture.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gluttony + Revelry (Part 2)

After Friday night's magical and intense course of events, I woke up Saturday morning very early.  The sky was blue, and it was a good 20 degrees cooler than it's been in weeks. (This has been a very, very hot Summer in New York.) Emerging from the little alcove where I sleep, I spied J sprawled on the air mattress in the living room, snoring, sweating, and generally looking like something I'm happy to no longer share a bed with. (Wow, bitter much?!) I padded over to the kitchen nook, assembled a mango/strawberry/banana smoothie with flax seeds, and sat down to peruse the New York Times online. As usual, I read the headlines and wished that there wasn't a super-sleeper in the room so that I could switch to NPR and move around instead of sit at the computer! First world problems, let me tell you...

Not wanting to waste any of a glorious cool day inside, I headed out for the Union Square Greenmarket, a place where dreams come true and there are always puppies. I don't get to go to the Greenmarket as often as I'd like, but every time I go with my pre-set cash budget, I come home laden with multi-colored veggies, pungent herbs and a strong desire to just gorge myself on all the raw deliciousness. I have yet to really make a recipe from any of my Greenmarket purchases, just a lot of really intense salads!

Heaven in a bowl: mesclun and sunflower sprouts with fresh currants, purple carrots, heirloom cherry tomatoes, purple haze basil, and avocado topped with just lemon, a dash of smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper.

By the time I returned, J was (finally) up and gone. So, I settled in to work on my thesis proposal, wait to interview Jen Harmer (a dancer with Misnomer Dance Theater) for Nightjar, and prepare myself for another night of vegan gluttony at 4 Course Vegan. Before I get to the food, I'll just say that even writing the proposal for my MA thesis has tested my will to be intelligent and curious. But, as I'm moving past the Summer-induced laziness, I'm finding that writing everyday is much easier and less stressful than not writing and thinking about writing all day, every day. In fact, as of today I have a draft of my proposal done and I actually think that it will be a good paper if I can keep writing like I've been writing in the last week, with clarity, attention to detail, and a little careful planning.

Jen came by at 3 for her interview. She is a charming, smart, and warm lady and we had a great chat about bring choreography to the Nightjar photo shoot, what inspires us, and her passion for Bagua (A martial arts practice that is somewhere between Tai Chi and Gyrotonic Pilates). After she left, I spent a little more time with my new best friend Michel Foucault, before departing the house around 6:30 to walk through the East Village and over the Williamsburg Bridge to dinner. As I crossed the bridge, the sun was setting, and Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn were shining in all their golden glory. I looked in my tote for my camera, and realized that I'd left it at home. Instead of mourning the lost opportunity, I decided to soak up the beauty without being distracted by the lens and was instead distracted by the many pairs of Chasids walking hand in hand, in deep conversation over the bridge.  The walk from the apartment in Greenwich Village to the Williamsburg apartment of Chef Matteo took about an hour. When I arrived, my appetite was whet with fresh air and excercise and I was pleased to enter this gorgeous, minimal space to the warm greetings of the chef and his little dog Winston.

I had initially invited J to join me for dinner as a sort of peace offering, but he declined on account of "exhaustion." I was a bit nervous about attending the dinner sans escort, but it turned out to be the right choice. There are two communal tables, and mind was inhabited by a friendly group including a 55 year old Brooklyn-Italian native who went vegetarian at 45, runs an engineering firm and recently took up glass blowing; his guest a young au pair (also a Brooklyn native); two 2nd year law students from Harvard; and two sophisticated New York women, who mostly kept to themselves without coming off as rude or disinterested...They merely seemed to want to catch up with one another.

Now, on to the menu. It was a totally raw evening, which was exciting and pretty new for me. I don't think I've ever had an entire raw-gourmet meal before...But, it won't be the last time. I will say now, having had 12 courses at Radius, dinner at Chez Panisse, No. 9 Park, and the chef's tasting at Nobu in my pre-vegan days, this was one of the top-5 best meals I have ever had in terms of the food, the elegant and simple presentation, the impeccable service, and atmosphere. Do go: Dinner is $40 and BYOB. I promise that it will make your heart sing.

This raw feast had a subtle sunflower seed theme, they appeared in supporting roles in every dish and a lead role in the entrée. I had forgotten how sweet and smoky a sunflower seed could be, and they really tasted different in each course. I was particularly taken with the daikon radish ravioli, the chowder and the enchilada. The radish ravioli were perfectly balanced in with the tangy, spicy slaw. As an amuse boucheOaxacan cooking...I'm willing to call it a masterpiece. Dessert was a dense and beautiful chocolate tart that we all labored over in deep conversation about home made wine, fire escape gardens, and our favorite vegan ice creams. I left after a quick snuggle with Winston, and nearly four hours after I arrived, to a leisurely walk back to the apartment that I have only two and a half weeks in completely in love with an experience and this city that will (hopefully!) be my real home in just under a year.

The Menu
  • Spicy Asian slaw wrapped in a shiso leaf accompanied by daikon "radish" ravioli filled with nut cheese.
  •  Cool corn chowder with chipotle and chive sour crema
  •  Jicama radish salad with cherry tomatoes and lime dressing
  •  Spicy sunflower enchilada with avocado, pico de gallo, and ancho mole
  •  Mexican chocolate tart with meyer lemon and raspberry sauce

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gluttony + Revelry (Part 1)

New York is such a spectacular city. After growing up in Los Angeles, becoming an adult in Boston, and spending two years of graduate school in Chicago, New York remains my archetypal "place where anything is possible." New York seems to contain the entire world within is small circumference; I am often tempted to muse upon the idea that one could meet almost any type of person that could possibly exist in the whole world here. And, further, like to go on little adventures to try and find people I couldn't meet anywhere else. The last two and a half months of interning, working, researching and wandering in the city have done little to suppress my life long desire to really be a New Yorker. (Soon! When the thesis is done, apartment is packed, and my MA degrees are bestowed...In other words, in 10 short, busy months...)  This weekend I was able to indulge in dinner at Candle 79 and 4 Course Vegan, see a band play that inspires me, meet people I would never have met outside a communal table, and actually make some progress on my thesis proposal. While I failed to charge my camera and therefore have no photos worth sharing of either of my meals, I'd like to share my marvelous weekend with you anyway. (This will be a two-part entry due to my inability to tell a story in brief terms.)

It all began Wednesday evening. J (the infamous ex with whom I am currently co-habitating out of financial necessity) had just returned two days prior from nearly two months of travel. Tensions were high. Having learned in the time since we split that he is not the person I loved so deeply, that despite the fact that he spent two years telling me that he had never loved anyone as much as he loved me he now claims to never have loved me at all, that he is as complacent as all the "bougie normals" he rails against, and that he is (and this is most unforgivable) a liar who lies out of laziness and cowardice, I don't particularly enjoy having to spend time with him. So, needless to say, being in a tiny Manhattan apartment together is less than pleasant. Wednesday was particularly tense as J was engaged in that classic pissy roommate behavior: Loud, passive-aggressive cleaning. (Its crucial to note here that the apartment was very clean when he arrived and turned into a horror show within 24 hours, so I'm not really sure why he was cleaning at me.)

Anyway, in the last couple of months I've been trying to embrace the single life. This includes making an effort to meet other single people, love myself more, and not worry about potentially dying alone under a landslide of my own magazines, books, and records. In an effort to date casually and meet more people who share some of my core values (A love of bicycles, books, vegetables, experimental film, and drone music...) I've been engaged in the dreaded apogee of consumer culture: ONLINE DATING. For the most part, I'm happy to say that as much as I am disturbed by the fact that I have been essentially shopping for companionship, I've had mostly positive interactions with all online sources from that site that I would prefer to call OKBuddy...Because, I really doubt that I'll meet my life partner on the internet. (Though, clearly, I haven't ruled it out.)

Regardless of my ambivalence toward online dating, Wednesday night OKBuddy handed me an offer I couldn't refuse: Dinner at Candle 79 and Spiritualized at Radio City. OK buddy, I'm in! The offer came from a Chicago-based fellow who I had recently "checked out" when he appeared in my match listings due to our similar interests in veganism, bicycles, hot tubs, tattoos, terrible comedic popcorn movies, and mid-1990's indie rock. He was planning a whirlwind trip to New York for the Spiritualized concert and his friend, who had planned to join him from Philly was no longer able to make it. Would I, strange but nice-seeming girl from the internet be interested in saving this strange but nice-seeming (If a bit forward in his request) boy from having to eat an indulgent meal and sit through an emotionally intense musical experience alone? Yes. Yes, I would.

Friday arrives. I'm nearly nervous, I eat very little all day in anticipation of deliciousness. After a busy day of organizing applications to the artist residency program I am interning with, I hop on the 5 train uptown to meet said stranger from the internet

I'm glad that I didn't. The food was spectacular. Stranger from the internet (SFI from now on.) is capable of carrying on a conversation, is a quiet and well-mannered diner, and laughs at my jokes. We eat the following:

Avocado-Tomato Tartare with Mushroom Ceviche and House made Crackers. (Raw.)
While this wouldn't have been my first choice off the appetizer list, it was quite delicious. And it primed my appetite well for the entrée to follow. I think, had it been spicier, or hit with a bit more acid, it would have been the perfect simple opener. It was just, I don't know, a bit simple.

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake (SFI's order)
This is what I had planned to order all day. But, when our charming and extremely handsome (Call me!) waiter read the specials I was distracted by an ornate sounding seitan special. Luckily SFI is open to sharing, so I got to try it. And, I mist say, this is a lovely little dinner. It combines so many textures and the red-pepper and North African curry purée really transforms the chickpea cake into a little miracle. Again, I would have made it spicier.

I had the Seitan special which came breaded on top of greens, wild mushrooms, and farro in a sour Summer cherry sauce. I had been freezing in the office all day and the special was rich, warm, and so satisfying after a day of shivering. I generally steer clear of meat-like vegan foods as I prefer less-processed things and generally don't like anything that tastes anything like chicken. But, this was an exception. I'd say that this meal was a definite example of something you could present to a skeptical non-vegan to show them just how satisfying, flavorful, and rich vegan food can be.

I also had a great glass of wine. The Maysara, Biodynamic Pinot Gris (2008, Oregon) was really dry and had a beautiful mineral palette that paired really nicely with the cherry sauce on the seitan. I'm going to have to find a bottle of this wine to have at home! Hopefully they'll stock it at Astor Place Wines, my go to spot in the neighborhood. 

After dinner (We went Dutch, lest you think this all sounds a bit like I'm moonlighting as a hip escort.), we rushed over to Radio City, arriving just as Spiritualized took the stage with a full orchestra and a gospel choir to perform Jason Pierce/ J. Spaceman's epic 1997 classic Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space. Now, this is one of my favorite albums of all time. Considering that the last five months have found me emotionally wrecked, disillusioned, and a little out of control sitting 14 rows from the stage and being completely permeated with the big walls of vibrating strings and horns and voices and guitars and drums and an organ was like a homeopathic intervention into the core of my delicate being.

This terrible iPhone picture is my ridiculous attempt to capture the un-capturable.

This isn't the kind of thing one generally wants to experience with a stranger. But, it was actually great. We were both effected and I don't think he noticed that I was crying and he had the good taste to not talk to me during the concert or try to pretend that we shared some sort of intimate connection because we'd just had this really powerful experience. (I take this as a good sign that SFI and I will hang out again and have legitimate friendship potential. Rare are the individuals who can navigate these kinds of experiences without treading too close or being too removed.) The performance was incredible--A bit beyond words. The recording is big and complex, the lyrics speak to a rock bottom that is a little too familiar, but being in the room and being able to feel the sounds as they moved through the air and knowing that they were touching all of these other people was really, really amazing. As my friend Ben said in an e-mail today, "Thank you music!" I will note that all of those freaks who were making out during the show sort of gave me the chills. Ladies and Gentleman is nothing is not a a suicide letter to a broken heart. It is most definitely not the kind of thing that makes you feel twee and romantic, its dark and unpredictable and chaotic. I suspect that many of those doe-eyed smoochers have not really given this magnum opus too deep of a listen.

After the concert we ran into a friend that I hadn't seen in about five years. So, SFI and I went our separate ways. He was remarkably good-natured about my decision to have a drink with my friend rather than continue our outing. (We have communicated since, so I don't think its because he was trying to get rid of me...Hah!) I was pleasantly surprised, given that all the negative things that have come from my experience on OKBuddy involve men and women who think that they are entitled to be aggressive when you are a) no longer interested; b) too busy or not interested in responding to them; c) have an extenuating circumstance that causes you to cut an outing short. My friend is one of those people who is nearly impossible to make plans with and I was so happy to be able to catch up with him. Though, in reality, we were both a bit too blown apart by the festival of sound we had just experienced to communicate too much. I'd say more, but our conversation traversed a lot of raw and private ground. To discuss it with the levity and ambiguity required in this forum would trivialize it and feel exploitative. Suffice to say, when I arrived back to the apartment and snuggled up with the cat and had to chat with J, I was less irritated by his presence having been reminded that sincere, honest, and brave people exist and that the world is full of amazing experiences even in the most ordinary moments.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A plug for something I am obsessed with: Osborn/Shoes

This morning, I have been thinking about tattoos. I'm ready for number two, and I have a lot of ideas ranging from an Ikat style print to botanical drawings of carrots and text. I really hope to be able to afford to have my next tattoo designed and inked by Amanda Wachob here in NYC. Her work is beautiful and totally anachronistic in the world of tattoo art. Rather than cartoonish, it's elegant, complex, and artful. Anyway, this post is about shoes, not tattoos...While google image searching Ikat prints that might work as a tattoo design, I came across Osborn/Shoes, an independent cordwainer/design company run by Carla Venticinque-Osborn and Aaron Osborn in Greenpoint. (The shoes are produced in a workshop in Guatemala that Carla and Aaron own.) Osborn/Shoes are hot. The fact that they have taken such a responsible and committed approach to humane and sustainable production and considered design makes me swoon.

Osborn/Shoes describes their studio as:
...a working environment where fine art and commercial art are conceived, blended, expanded upon, and produced. Our inspiration is drawn from human relationships, the vibrancy of life within its conflict and resolve, and artisanal grit. We showcase an evolving line of products, and through the continuous collaboration with friends, economically disadvantaged artisans, creative entities, and with each other, we seek now, more than ever, to embody hope in design. 

...And of course the shoes are really, really awesome. I'm particularly fond of these, which are not offered in a vegan version.

But, I may just buy these to support their efforts towards offering vegan shoes. (Rest assured that I sent them an e-mail asking if they had any plans to make more vegan offering in the future!)

I'm always excited to discover companies like Osborn/Shoes that are independent, artist run, efforts toward producing unique and sustainable products that are thoughtfully designed and interesting as opposed to mass-produced and generic.

I'll be sure to report back with their response to my query about vegan options!

* All images from the Osborn/Shoes website.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Salad of Carrots, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Black Eyed Peas, Canellini Beans, and FRESH herbs

I know, I know, Its the hottest New York July on record why am I using the oven? Because, dear friends, I have a window unit that I am not afraid to use when the need for a warm salad or home-made pizza strikes. When the cooking is complete, I throw open the windows and go eat in the park until the house cools down.

After a lovely trip to the New Museum for the Brion Gysin show and an afternoon planted at the Think coffee on Bowery reading Foucault (Thesis research!) I was starving, and once again not in the mood to go to yoga. Summer is making me lazy. More on that later.

When I went to the Dual-Specialty store a couple weeks ago I bought a big bag of dried black eyed peas and cannellini beans. They pair quite nicely together and pack some serious nutritional punch. Tossed with lightly roasted carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in a decidedly french-inspired dressing they transform into a great meal. I especially like this salad along side some simple lemon-dressed raw kale and a pile of Maine blueberries.

1/2 cup black eyed peas
1/2 cup canellini beans
1 bay leaf
1/2 large sweet potato, cubed
1 Yukon Gold potato, cubed
4 large carrots, chopped into discs
2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 handful chopped fresh dill
1/2 handful chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 handful chopped fresh basil
1 T dijon mustard
1/3 cup champagne vinegar

Soak the beans in cold water for 8 hours. Rinse the beans and put in a pot with 4 cups cold water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Skim any film that is sitting on the top of the water and then add the bay leaf. Simmer the beans covered for about 1 hour, until the beans are tender. Add 1/2 T of sea salt and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 400. Toss the chopped veggies in a minimal drizzle of olive oil and a little bit of salt. Roast for 25 minutes.

Drain the beans. Toss with the vegetables, add the minced garlic, and a dash of sea salt. Roast for 25 more minutes.

In a large bowl mix the mustard and the vinegar. When the beans and veggies are done (veggies lightly browned, beans firm but not dry) toss them with the dressing and the chopped herbs. Garnish with black pepper. Serve cold or warm.

Makes about 4 servings, keeps well in the fridge and will keep for 4 days or so in the fridge.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An army of lovers can never be defeated

On July 10th I went to an incredible screening at Light Industry, an amazing venue for film and video in Brooklyn. The program, coordinated by Scott Treleaven, featured his own films, collaborations with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Genesis's own work and was sealed with a performance by Locrian. It was an intense Saturday evening that found me in no mood for bars. As I wandered back, over the Manhattan bridge and through the East Village on foot I was consumed with thoughts about the possibilities of art and music, life, love and revolution. When I returned to that strange apartment that I am calling home for the Summer, I put on a particularly lovely John Cale and Terry Riley record and languished in the particular rush of being blown apart and then gently put back together by a visual/sonic/spatial experience. Because, isn't that, on some level, what art is supposed to do?

>It is a process ov individual and collective experimentation and research with no finite answers, dogmas or unchallengeable truths. It is for each to discover his or her own understanding ov thee questions that suggest themselves, and through that voyage ov discovery to find their personal and true identity, thee True Will.

Watching Temple Ov Psychick Youth ritual videos from 1990, Treleaven's Salivation Army and Breyer P-Orridge's new works Weird Woman was an appropriate end to a day that had me thinking long and hard about the incessant quality of binaries, wondering as I often do why we want to be either this or that and well-named and labeled instead of acknowledging that it is never that simple. I think binaries are at the root of a lot of civilized problems, and I am not alone. The Burroughs/Gysin-esque cut up technique that appears in both Treleaven's and Breyer P-Orridge's work speaks to that concern, it refuses to let things settle, so they don't cohere into this or that, things that we can name. I have not only a great respect for the work produced by Breyer P-Orridge, Treleaven and their cohort, I really like it.  I like that it effects me on both a cool intellectual level and a raw, vulnerable emotional one. I like the way it looks, and I like it's tone and it's aim to undo the impulse to be complacent and accept that things are as they are and remind the viewer that (in)actions and identities have consequences and should be undertaken mindfully.