Archive for December, 2009

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Counting Down…

December 31, 2009

I’ve got just enough time for one last post before 2010 is here! And in celebration, I’m going to blog about the special New Year’s Eve dinner Caitlin and I had tonight! And by special, I mean take-out from Zefe’s, the nearby Mexican restaurant! Here we go…

To start off, we split some vegetarian tacos and tostadas. These were super good, especially because of their abundant use of cotilla cheese. If you haven’t had cotilla before, I highly recommend it (and this is coming from a guy who’s not that much of a cheese fan). Caitlin correctly describes it as “Mexican mozzarella.” Of course, I love mozzarella, so it was a fairly easy sell for me.

For the main course, we split some flautas: fried cheese wraps with rice and beans on the side. These were also delicious. So I highly recommend Zefe’s, and I’m already excited about the next time we can order from them!

Now that dinner is done, Caitlin and I are just waiting around for the year to turn, sitting on the couch, watching Syfy’s Twilight Zone marathon, and letting Brody fall asleep on me…

…and then falling asleep under him…

Happy New Year!

Until we eat again (in 2010!),

Willie

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The Last Few Days of 2009

December 31, 2009

Dear readers,

Happy New Year’s Eve! As this year winds to a close, I thought I’d share some of the things Caitlin and I have been eating up here in upstate New York. First, a breakfast…

These were some Oatmeal Pancakes, made using the recipe from the 3 Bowls cookbook. These are awesome pancakes—really hearty and flavorful! I give them an A++!

Next up, some photos from our family dinner at Karavalli, a South Indian restaurant in Latham, New York. Here are the appetizers:

The top photo is their Samosa platter, with a cup of deliciously fragrant Cardamom Tea on the left. Below that is their Madras Tiffin appetizer sampler, featuring a Madras Dosa (the long crepe), Iddli (the steamed rice and lentil cakes on the right), Medhu Vada (lentil fritters that look more like fried mini-doughnuts), and various chutneys. All delish!

Following this, Caitlin and I shared two entrees…

The top dish is Kundapur Vegetables, which as they describe it is “vegetables cooked with coconut milk and dry red chilies, tempered with curry leaves and mustard seeds.” As I describe, it’s delicious. The bottom dish is Avial Malabar, which was “green bananas, yams, beans, drum stick, carrot, eggplant and squash tempered with curry leaves and mustard in a medium spicy coconut and yogurt sauce.” It was also tasty.

Quick side note: You may have noticed that among the ingredients in the Avail dish was something called a “drumstick”. Much to both Caitlin’s and my surprise, a drumstick is a vegetable! It has an inedible rind that you break open and eat the “fruit” inside, sort of like what you do with artichoke leaves or edamame pods. Check out this Wikipedia article if you are interested in learning more about drumsticks.

Last but not least, our homemade dinner from last night…

Pierogi! We served both potato, onion, & cheese and fruit pierogi, and they were both big hits. Caitlin was in control of all the recipe-ing, but she basically followed the recipe she posted here a while back. We also made a delicious side of White Borscht Soup:

And that brings us to today, December 31! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll try to squeeze in one final blog post for 2009 before the ball drops tonight, but I don’t know. We have a bus ride back to NYC this afternoon, and with the wintry mix going on outside right now, and the madness that is sure to be going on in the city today, I’m not sure when we’ll be getting back to Brooklyn. So here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year now!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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‘Twas The Night Before Christmas…

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

At my house, Christmas Eve is the day for our special holiday meal. Christmas Day also usually includes some festive dining, but Christmas Eve is really the main event. This year was no different, and I helped prepare some of our dishes. Here is an overview…

Wild Rice & Barley with Pomegranate Seeds

This was my mom’s contribution—a delicious side! (She got the recipe from here.)

Please Bring Us Some Figgy Brussels Sprouts

Careful readers will remember Caitlin making this not too long ago; the recipe comes originally from Zesty Cook.

Apple Chutney

A repeat recipe from our Thanksgiving dinner, but one definitely worth the repeat. Original recipe from Closet Cooking.

The Lord Is My Shepherd’s Pie

The main event was left to me, and this Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Happyveganface did not disappoint in the least. And if you ever make this recipe yourself, I’d highly recommend adding some fresh rosemary to the mashed potatoes!

Corn(oat)bread

An oat-y cornbread courtesy of my dad (and the recipe in the wonderful 3 Bowls cookbook).

We also had some of this excellent red wine, which I always thoroughly enjoy.

All together, these dishes made for a wonderful plate:

I love Christmas. I hope you enjoy your Christmas (or other holiday celebrations) as well!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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‘Tis the Season

December 24, 2009

Hi all,

I’m back, and here to share some of the wonderful food I’ve been making and eating since I returned home to upstate New York on Monday. First up: Green Potato Soup (recipe courtesy Vegan Dad)!

Now if you’re like me, the first time you read the name of the dish you thought, “What are green potatoes?” Don’t worry, there’s not some new potato variety that you haven’t ever heard of—you’re just parsing the name wrong. It’s “Green [Potato Soup]”, not “[Green Potato] Soup.” Oh, and it’s delicious! Seriously, this is one of the best soup recipes I’ve ever made! And it’s super simple! Perfect for a cold winter day.

Alongside this, I made some Raw Walnut and Mushroom Stuffing (recipe courtesy Choosing Raw):

This is a fun raw twist on one of my favorite Thanksgiving/Christmas dishes. It is very similar to traditional stuffing, but uses lots and lots of nuts to replace the bread. I can’t say that this beat out bread-based stuffing in my book, but it was really good. I think next time I make it I will not use so many walnuts, though, and replace some of them with almonds or maybe cashews. Still, all in all, it was good stuff(ing)!

Yesterday I did a little Christmas treat baking, attempting to make biscotti for the first time. Fortunately, it wasn’t a total disaster. The above photo is Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti (recipe courtesy of Closet Cooking), a good combination in my book. Here’s another look:

I don’t know if flax eggs were the best replacement in this recipe, but it was all I could manage with this recipe. The dough had a little bit of a difficulty coming together, but it the end it worked out. (I did have to make 3 instead of 2 flax eggs, though, to provide a little extra liquid.) The taste is subtle, not too sweet but definitely not bland. I think it will make a nice Christmas dessert, especially alongside some tea or cocoa.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what that box of biscotti is sitting atop, it’s an elephant:

Later last night, I made another batch of biscotti, this time Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti (recipe also courtesy of Closet Cooking, although it’s basically identical to the Chocolate Pistachio one). This recipe also turned out well, although the dough was much much stickier this time, and I don’t really know why.

Last night for dinner I had (among other things), a salad. Nothing much out of the ordinary here, but I decided to photograph it anyway:

Mostly, I wanted to blog out this salad so I could blog about the new salad dressing I picked up at the store: Drew’s All Natural Poppy Seed Dressing!

Although I generally prefer to make my own salad dressings, I wanted to lighten my food preparation workload some, and when I saw this neat looking, Vermont-based dressing, I couldn’t resist. And I’m glad I didn’t—it’s a mighty good dressing. Perhaps just a tad too heavy, but the flavor is wonderful. Thumbs up to you, Drew! (You can find out more about Drew here.)

And that’s all I have to report now. However, I’m currently in the middle of Christmas Eve dinner preparation, and I think I’ll have time to blog later tonight about what should be a wonderful holiday spread! So check back soon, and enjoy the holiday season!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Whole Lotta NY

December 24, 2009

What a week it’s been! I left Toronto last Wednesday, spent five days in New York City with Caitlin, and then came back to my home in upstate New York two days ago, where I’ve been busy preparing for my family’s Christmas festivities. And more importantly, I’ve been eating tons of good food. Here’s a run-through of the many exciting meals I enjoyed with Caitlin in NYC.

Wednesday

Caitlin had a wonderful spread prepared for me after I arrived Wednesday evening. The main course was a scrumptious Mushroom & Thyme Soup (the recipe of which I believe Caitlin got from The Garden of Vegan—correct me if I’m wrong, Cait!). Along with this, we had a nice bowl of barley, rice, and vegetables, and some blue tortilla corn chips. Super super yummy. Here it is up close:

Thursday

On Thursday, Caitlin had her internship during the day and her last class of the semester at night, leaving me to spend the afternoon and evening in lower Manhattan, enjoying the Jefferson Market Library, the Union Square Barnes & Noble, and, for lunch, Think Coffee, a hip cafe right around the corner from NYU. I had a delicious light meal of Three Lentil Chili, but I was a little too embarrassed to snap a picture. But I’d highly recommend this place, as long as you don’t mind not being able to get a table while you’re there.

Between Caitlin’s internship and class, we met up and had dinner at Gustorganics, a fancy organic restaurant right around the corner from Pratt. We had a wonderful meal, despite not being able to get the greatest of photos. Here’s a recap…

Before our mains arrived, they gave us a wonderful bread basket of rosemary-y foccaccia. It was superb!

This was our pasta dish, the precise description of which I can no longer remember, but I know it involved artichokes, potatoes, and deliciousness.

And this was our Roasted Vegetable Pizza! The crust on this was nice, thin and crispy, almost matzo-like, and the vegetables were super fresh and flavorful. Overall, it was a great dinner—Gustorganics definitely gets my seal of approval! (Also, if you, like us, go there on a weekday from 5 to 7, you’ll get a nice discount on your meal!)

Friday

On Friday, Caitlin again had to go to her internship during the day, and so I spent another day in lower Manhattan. For breakfast/lunch, I went to a super awesome bagel place (per Caitlin’s recommendation), Murray’s Bagels. I got a whole wheat everything bagel with tofu cream cheese, and it was amazingly delicious. I highly recommend this bagelery (although the lines are super long and the seating is super limited).

After Caitlin finished up with her internship, we met up at Pratt for her department’s end of the term party. It was nicely put together (and nicely catered), and best of all Caitlin won a raffle, winning a Strand gift certificate and a book of chocolates, or rather, caramels. They were very fancy caramels from Vosges Chocolates, featuring nine different wild flavors:

The varieties included here were much too complicated and fancy for me to remember off the top of my head, but some of the exotic flavors included rose petals, bee pollen, pearl dust, Brazil nuts, and Hawaiian red sea salt. Even for someone who doesn’t much like caramels, these chocolates were absolutely amazing!

After the party, Caitlin and I stopped into Heartland Brewery for a couple of beers and some grub:

My beer was a Cornhusker Lager—nice, light, and crispy—and Caitlin had a Red Rooster Ale—darker, but also good. The burger above is the bar’s veggie burger, thankfully assembled in-house from beans and other good stuff. A little crumbly, but still good!

Finally, just as we were leaving, I was stopped in my tracks as I saw this guy pass us by on his way to the bar:

For those that don’t know (and don’t be ashamed), this is actor Geraint Wyn Davies. Both Caitlin and I immediately recognized him from his excellent work on the TV shows “24” (day 5) and “Slings & Arrows” (season 2), and it was wild to see him in person! This was also my first NYC celebrity sighting, which made it all the more exciting.

Saturday

On Saturday, Caitlin and I went to Broadway, as part of Caitlin’s Christmas present to me. She took me to see David Mamet’s new play, Race, starring James Spader and David Alan Grier, which I really enjoyed (but, then again, I’m a big Mamet fan). Afterwards, Caitlin took me out to dinner at Zen Palate, a nice little all vegetarian Asian fusion restaurant nearby. Having not eaten anything before getting there, we were really hungry, but that just meant we had an excuse to sample more of their wonderful and creative menu. Here’s what we had…

Appetizer: Taro Spring Rolls—yummy!

Main #1: Taste of Curry—lots of wonderful vegetables and tofu in a flavorful curry sauce!

Main #2: Crepe de Fleur—soy protein pancake with vegetables all around the outside and hiding in the center!

Dessert: Tofu Cheesecake—with a blueberry sauce on top! So in case you weren’t sure, Zen Palate gets high marks all around.

Later Saturday night, when we got hungry again, Caitlin fixed up a wonderful impromptu curry. I’m sorry if this photo doesn’t make it look like much, but it really was great! Then again, I do really love vegetables…

And, of course, what would any curry be without some naan bread on the side?

And that was Saturday!

Sunday

I probably should’ve mentioned that Saturday night was the night of New York’s big weekend snowstorm, which led us to decide to spend Sunday inside. It did provide the perfect occasion for Caitlin to make some chili! Check it out:

Some many good things were in this chili—beans, sweet potatoes, cactus, nutritional yeast, the list goes on and on. The only thing it lacked was a name! (This is one of the downsides to making your own original recipes.) We’re open to suggestions, but for now I think I will call it “Don’t Let Willie Get Chilly Chili.” Do you like?

Monday

Monday was my last day in New York, and as my bus left in the early evening, Caitlin and I decided to go out for lunch at one of our favorite spots in the city: ‘Snice! We had visited this cafe once before and loved it, and the second visit was just as fantastic as the first. We really had a vegan pig-out, but it was wonderful. Here was our spread…

Milkless (Soy) Malted Milkshake—it’s like drinking ice cream. Heavenly.

Tempeh Reuben—not an exact replica of the real thing, but rather (I think) a tastier improvement! I loved the tempeh, and the sauce and dressing were perfect!

“Chicken” Pot Pie Wrap—it’s a “chicken” pot pie in a wrap. Crust included. No, seriously. There’s pie crust bits inside that wrap. So so so tasty.

Vegan Samoa and Peanut Butter Chocolate Sandwich Cookies! (The pictures speak louder than words here.)

And that, my friends, was my six days and five nights in New York. Check back soon to see the various meals and treats I’ve been preparing in the last few days since I arrived back home, and also look out for a post of my family’s Christmas Eve dinner! Happy Holidays!

Until we eat again,

Willie


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Ready To Go!

December 15, 2009

Hello everybody,

So finals week is finally over for me, and tomorrow I leave Toronto to go see Caitlin in NYC to kick off my winter break! I hoping that this vacation will come with many more food adventures than the last few weeks have seen. I’m excited to finally have time again to cook, and the holidays are always a good time to try out some new and fun recipes.

Unfortunately, here in T.O. I’m in fridge-cleanout mode and my meals are nothing blogworthy. I am very happy to report, however, that I perfectly rationed out my salad greens and salad dressing so that I got through the last of both today! Hooray for no unnecessary food waste!

Also, as usual I’ve stocked up on a couple goodies for tomorrow’s long bus ride. I’ve haven’t tried these yet, but I thought I’d share anyway.

The two Larabars are Cocoa Coconut Chew and Peanut Butter—two flavors I have yet to try! The long bar on the right is another treat I’ve never tasted before: Theobroma Dark Chocolate with coconut chunks! Along with these, I’m going to make some nut butter sandwiches later night. Coconuts, peanuts, nut butter… it’s going to be a very nutty trip, indeed.

Caitlin and I will be blogging over the break about all our holiday excitement, so be sure to check back! And enjoy your holidays!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Thanksgiving in Canadia: Days the first and second

December 13, 2009

Hello Blogosphere!

Sorry it has been about forever and a day since my last post. Finals have been sort of killer… I am just about through with them however and I finally have some time to report back on my last visit to TO! This past visit was go go go and I got to see quite a few Toronto libraries! But, I’m sure you are here for the food, so, here we go!

My first night up in the great white north brought some Asian-inspired treats, namely, Okonomiyaki. Now, unlike Willie, I have not had the pleasure of trying this Japanese pancakey dish in its native land, but I thought this was fantastic! I’m pretty sure Willie agrees too! We veganized this recipe from Closet Cooking and I would highly recommend it, quick, simple and delicious! (Really we just left out the bacon and used flax eggs…)

The next day we bopped around the city a bit and stopped for lunch at a popular TO vegetarian spot, Fresh. I’m very sorry for the low quality pics, but I forgot my camera! These pictures are courtesy of Willie’s fancy phone:

Cornbread: very tasty and crumbly and the orange marmalade was quite nice!

So… I forgot what they called this, but it was basically salad on noodles…

My most favoritist way to eat a (veggie) burger ever: with lettuce, tomato, onion rings, barbecue sauce and garlic mayo.

I was pretty excited to see that they had lots of wheat grass drinks! This one was a mango wheat grass smoothie with peppermint. The flavour mix was surprisingly great and the mint made it quite a nice way to finish the meal.

After lunch we ran home to start preparing our Thanksgiving meal for the house. Since much of the eats were documented in his exciting preparation posts, I will post a picture of the spread and include the recipes in a list below!

Counterclockwise from bottom center:

Amazing Nut Loaf

(I made this again afterward for my fam and it is twice non-veg*n approved!)

Tasty Stuffing

Brussels Sprouts with cranberries

(This was the first time I have eaten non-roasted brussels, but they were pretty tasty)

The garlic bread is a simple method from Dreena Burton’s Eat, Drink and Be Vegan, which I can’t produce here, but it’s amazing and you should check it out. Now.

Somehow, I managed to miss taking pictures of the after-dinner treats but they were all quite good.

Medjool Date Pecan Pie – very sweet and not the prettiest, but the texture and taste was spot on!

Cornbread with jalapenos – this is our trusted vegan cornbread recipe (cutting down on the baking powder) with chopped jalapenos added.

Simple and delicious Banana bread

and

MOON CAKES!

So that was my second Thanksgiving of the year celebrated north of the border! I will post on the third day a bit later since I still have some work to do tonight AND this post is already getting on the long side… So, Happy Monday everyone!

Until We East Again,

Caitlin

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