Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Animals, Avocado, and Angelica's

I spent this past weekend at my parents' house. Yes, again. I know, I can't get away from it. I guess it is mostly because Nick isn't home, but he should be back sometime next week. Anyway, my brother and his wife were visiting and even though the rain ruined our hiking plans, we still went out and did something I had been wanting to do for awhile.

Sunday we visited Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Long story short, it was amazing. The tour was great, the animals were happy, and surprisingly...

the skies were blue! We met all the animals on the farm (except the cows, they were on the other side of the field being anti-social).

All of the animals were amazing, really. I don't understand how someone could go to a place like this, look in an animal's eyes, and not see their food differently. I was the most surprised by the turkeys! Those strange looking heads of theirs are actually incredibly soft, and they love to be pet. They're so sweet. Everyone we met was really great, from the goats and pigs to the ducks and chickens.

After the sanctuary we went back to town and I had had lunch at the Garden Cafe, a vegan restaurant. I had an excellent Mexican corn souffle.

The next day I went into the city with my mom and brother. We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex, but had to grab something quick to eat first. This was nothing special but these avocado spring rolls totally hit the spot.

The fruit is a mango nectarine, which I thought sounded so cool! It ended up just tasting like a really juicy and delicious nectarine, but I'm not complaining. The Rock and Roll Annex was fantastic. The regular museum was really very cool, but the special John Lennon exhibit made it even better. I've never been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio, but the way it works here is really cool. You get your own headphones that are attached to this transmitter, and the music changes depending on where you're standing. Really cool.

We also went to Strands, the home of 18 miles of books. It was cool, they had a lot of old books, but I was tired and hungry, so I visited the travel book section and found a place to eat. Now, whenever I go to the city, I have big plans for places to eat, and it almost never works out. This time, when I had no plans, we ended up being just a few blocks from Angelica's Kitchen. The atmosphere was great, casual but intimate enough. It actually reminded me of a place we had breakfast when we were in Kauai, just in the way like you truly felt as though you were in someone's kitchen. I guess that's why it's called Angelica's Kitchen, huh?

My mom and brother both made their own combo bowls. My brother featured tempeh, which I thought was some of the best I've had. My mom's had soba noodles with a yummy sesame soba sauce. I had the three-bean chili, mainly because it came with cornbread, which I had been craving for awhile!

I also had this coconut carob orange cookie, which was good, although I think there was almost too much coconut in it. My brother had a peach cinnamon muffin, which tasted amazing, plus there were huge slices of peaches in it. It was a tad on the dry side though. When I go back there (and I will go back there), I will get dessert again, but I would definitely be going there for the food first. FYI, if you go, they are cash only.

I know I promised that my next post would be a giveaway, but I didn't want to put this one off, since it actually happened this weekend. Tomorrow is giveaway day, and I'm really excited about it!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fruity Food

Since I've been back at my apartment, I haven't been feeling exactly inspired. More often than not, when I decide to have at it again, after not cooking for awhile, I usually end up with something bland, burnt, or just...bad. Well, today I was quite pleased with myself.

First though, you'll never believe what did inspire this meal. I was at the gym, watching Paula Deen. First, off, its kind of funny to be watching the butter queen at the gym. Second of all, I rarely watch Paula Deen at all. Anyway, Paula and her son made a Zesty Grilled Tilapia with Mango Coconut Rice. I've been trying to use up what I have in the pantry and fridge this week, plus, the tilapia was obviously not vegan, so I made some changes. Yummy changes.

Please excuse the fuzzy photo and bad lighting!
Tropical Rice
1 can light coconut milk
1/2-3/4 cup water
1 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups pineapple (I used crushed canned pineapple, but you could use fresh, or diced, or anything)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut (optional)

Boil the rice in the coconut milk, water, and salt. When it is finished add in the pineapple and shredded coconut. Yum! And a little goes a long way with this, even with the light coconut milk, its rich and realllly nice and creamy! Best of all though, it makes a lot, and once its chilled, it makes an awesome rice pudding-like dessert.

Orange Chickpeas
1 tbsp light oil or non-stick spray
1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas
6 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp hot sauce

Mix it all in a big bowl and let it marinate for about 20 minutes. Spray a pan with non-stick spray and set to medium heat. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the chickpeas are cooked through and taste orange-y.

I was really the most excited to make the rice. However, while the rice is awesome, creamy, and delicious, the chickpeas were definitely the star. I was surprised how much they retained the orange and little hint of spiciness from the hot sauce (I used Tabasco Sweet and Spicy that we got on our trip to Louisiana). All around, one really yummy meal.

I feel like I need a personal life update since its been awhile. I don't know if I ever mentioned, but I obviously didn't end up driving cross country with Nick. The reason why is a long story, but he still appreciated everyone's advice!! He had some vegan donuts earlier this week on someone's suggestion. He also drove through Forks, WA the other day. Haha, I guess that tidbit is really only relevant if you have read or watched Twilight.

Hopefully the "inspiration" will keep flowing and I'll be blogging a little bit more! Stay tuned, hopefully tomorrow, I've got a giveaway coming up!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Where in the world...

Where in the world have I been? I actually have a good answer. Last week my family decided to invite me on vacation with them. Since they called on Tuesday night and were leaving early Thursday morning, this didn't leave me a lot of time for anything, let alone blogging. Such is life though, right? We spent a few days in Bar Harbor, Maine, then a few in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and now we're back in Portland, Maine, and should be heading home today. But we're finally in a hotel with free internet that works, and its early and I can't sleep so...hello!

While we were in Bar Harbor, we went whale watching:

We had breakfast at this little place called the 2 Cats Cafe almost every day:

We went for a bike ride/hiked/drove around Acadia National Park:

Even found a little place called CJ's that served some really good vegan ice cream!:

All in all, Bar Harbor ended up being a very veg friendly town. I don't really have any pictures from Halifax, but we did a lot of historical stuff (visited the Citadel, the Maritime museum, saw Harry Potter...what, you don't consider that historical?), and it was also extremely veg friendly. We didn't actually go anywhere that was solely a vegetarian establishment, but most of the places we went to had really good veg options, or were more than willing to make substitutions or some odd sounding concoction for me (one night I just felt like steamed veggies in marinara sauce..."No, no pasta thank you. Yes, I'm sure.")

Just in case you ever find yourself in Bar Harbor, here is my list of places to visit: A&B Naturals, CJ's Big Dipper (the soy ice cream is in the gelato case), Gringo's Mexican Cafe, Siam Orchid Thai, 2 Cats Cafe.

As for Halifax, we weren't there as long, but we had great success at Mexicali Rosa's, Hamachi House (the location on Barrington), Ray's Lebanese Cuisine, and Sugah!. As far as food options go, I wish we could have stayed in Halifax longer, they had a huge variety of different ethnicities that I don't normally see.

It has been kind of a crazy summer, but in a good way! I'll be back home on Monday and will get all caught up on everyone's blogs, I hope you all are enjoying your summers too!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Toasted Corn and Sweet Red Pepper Rice

I ended up staying at my parents for much longer than anticipated this week.  I left on Monday afternoon, planned to come home Wednesday afternoon.  Well, its Thursday, I'm still here, and we're going to the movies tonight.  So, I don't think I'll be getting back until tomorrow.  Don't worry, I brought Zoe with me, and she is quite happy watching the birds and chipmunks again.

It took awhile, but I realized my mom has the same camera as me, so I can just borrow her camera cord.  Hellooo!  

When I was living at home I usually made dinner once a week.  I am not the type to make the same recipe twice.  There's just so much out there, why keep making the same thing?  My mom, does not agree.  If she ever gets asked, she always wants the same thing, which has come to be known as "that rice stuff I like".  

I figured since it is mom's favorite, and she's been asking me to actually write down some kind of recipe for it, I would make it for her, and share!  I gave it fancier name, but you can still call it "that rice stuff Gina's mom likes" if you want.  

Toasted Corn and Sweet Red Pepper Rice

    3 cups of COOKED Brown Rice (about 1.5 cups raw)
    10oz box frozen corn (about 2 cups)
    2/3 cup salsa
    1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
    2 tbsp lime juice
    1 large red pepper, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup chopped scallions
    1 block extra-firm tofu

Put two pans on to medium heat. Liberally cover both with non-stick cooking spray. 

While the pans heat up, remove the tofu from the water. Slice it as thick or thin as you want (probably into about as many pieces as can fill your pan), and press with a towel on both sides. You don't need to be crazy about removing the water, just dry it a little. Salt and pepper both side and place in one of the pans. Just let it sit in the pan. Don't move it around, don't pick it up. It will form a golden crust on that side. Peek at the corner of one piece until it is somewhat hard and golden brown. Then flip and wait for the other side. When its all done, cut it into cubes. 

The corn goes in the other pan. It'll thaw first, but it needs to be in long enough to toast. You'll want to stir, periodically under it starts get brown flecks and look toasty and caramelized.

You can do the rest before or while everything is cooking. While this stuff is cooking, slice the pepper, chop the scallion and make the dressing. For the dressing, mix the salsa, lime juice, and canola oil. 

When everything is done mix it all together in a big bowl. 

That's it! Its easy, its fast, its healthy and it is soooo good. We usually have it as the main dish with a side of broccoli. It can serve anywhere from 4-6, depends on how hungry you are.

Serves 6
Nutritional Information:  271.5 Calories;  8.2g Total Fat;  0.9g Saturated Fat;  0.0mg Cholesterol;  40.0g Carbohydrates;  4.8g Fiber;  11.3g Protein 

You could also use garbanzo beans if you are intolerant to soy, or you could just leave the protein out altogether.

We went to the Kutztown Folk Festival yesterday, my mom, brother and I.  Its in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country.  

I always think this view looks like that default Windows background

I guess the food is supposed to be good, but its not really our kind of stuff, so I found a place that would make us all happy to stop for lunch.  If you ever find yourself in Kutztown, Betty's is a cool place.  Cute little place, kind of wants to be funky and earthy when it grows up, and the food was great!  Its casual, and cheap, mostly wraps, salads, soups, and you can easily eat for about $5.  Oh, and it caters to both omnivores and vegetarians/vegans.

We saw some cute baby ducks at the fair.  I love birds, but I especially love ducks, and everyone knows that babies get even more love, so I had to take a picture.  

There were really cute baby bunnies too, but my attention was taken away from picture taking then because we were allowed to pet, hehe.  

We stopped at the Clinton Station Diner for dinner.  Its right on the side of the highway and its got a train car attached to it, so we always notice it.  We actually got to eat in the train.  

Me and my brother

Also, my brother recently became a vegetarian, which I believe I have yet to mention on here, so that's pretty awesome!  There was plenty of stuff I could have eaten at this diner, but I thought we were getting fast food for dinner so I had brought my own, and already had eaten it, so I just had some fruit salad.   

Because I am at my parents', I have already seen a bunch of movies.  I don't know why, Nick and I haven't really been at all.  I saw My Sister's Keeper with my mom, and saw Public Enemy with my brother and his friend last night.  My Sister's Keeper was so sad, but really good.  No, I didn't read the book, but apparently some important things (I won't say what, but if you want to know, email me) were very different.  I kind of like it that way because I feel like I can go read the book now if I want.  Public Enemy was good.  The acting was good, it was engaging, but I'm not running around raving about it, its just not my kind of movie.  Tonight we are going to see Away We Go, which I am really excited for!  

As much as I like being home, I definitely woke up this morning wanting my own bed (which is weird because this bed was "my bed" for two years).  I think its my pillow that I miss.  Anyway, we should be back home on Friday!