Vegan Stops (plus long intro)

I was having a miserable day sometime last week. Or the week before.

I was running rather late, which always puts me off, but a homeless man made eye contact with me, and that meant at least saying hello. He asked to me to help him, and starting walking along side of me. The stench of alcohol floated about almost visibly. I offered to buy him something--I make it a policy to never give money, and he asked for a croissant. Easy. Or so I thought. I asked him where we could get one, and he said "Here," pointing to the next place to our right. He was about to go in when I stopped him--it was a nice sit down Thai place. I asked him again, where could we get a croissant for him--he muttered about a place called Au Coquelet. Having been there, it's a great joint, and I highly recommend it, but it was no where near walking distance away. And I had arrived at my destination. And was still late. I apologized, telling him I had to meet a friend, and that if he were still around after, we could go get him something, and I entered the restaurant. He followed. He sat next to me while I waited for my friend, who was apparently also late. For about five minutes he tried to make me sing Beatles songs, and for another five, I asked him to leave as politely as I could, while he talked about his ex-pet cow. He cried at me too. What can one do? Powerlessness is the worst. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty sad and miserable when my friend got there. I wanted to help the poor man, but he was beyond rational conversation. I still feel guilty about it.

Luckily, the restaurant was Cafe Gratitude. By the time we ordered, I was already happy again. The guilt lingered, but it was a learning sort of linger. Anyway, Gratitude is 90% raw, and 100% vegan. They had delicious cashew mozzarella and sour cream, and all sort of other tasty things. It really can lift your spirit. Each menu item is titled "I AM X", where X is some positive adjective. When you order, you are encouraged to say them out loud, to promote happy vibes. Very warm 'n fuzzy and very yummy.

Another Vegan place I recommend is Herbivore. And a third that I have yet to check out is Manzanita.


Nearly Rotten Apples

I had four wonderful Pink Lady apples which I nearly let go bad in my fridge. Upon cutting them open, I discovered that they were beginning to brown ever so slightly. This made them less than appetizing to eat raw, but they worked really well in an apple crumble! I cut them into half inch blocks, getting rid of the skin, cores, are rotten bits, of course, and tossed them with 1/8 cup sugar, a teaspoon or so of cinnamon (perhaps more, to taste), and some fresh squeezed orange juice from about a quarter of an orange. The crumble itself I adapted from The New Best Recipe: 1/8 c packed brown sugar, 2.5 Tbs butter 1/8 c white sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup flour, and 3/8 c coarsely chopped nuts (I used half pecans half almonds). I used a food processor to mix all but the nuts until sandy and then pulsed the nuts in until they were mixed and chopped a little finer. I baked the whole thing in six ramekins at 375 until the tops started to brown. I ate four of the six by bedtime. A simple margarine for butter substitution makes the recipe vegan.


Peach Arugula Salad

This past week was my last week in training, which means that I get to do actual work now! This also means, however, that work no longer pays for my lunches. I will miss the particularly good salads, so I must write a brief ode to the salad that caused four people to ask me if I was vegetarian last week. Apparently I "look" vegetarian. I didn't know it was a look.

The Salad:
Baby Arugula
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Sliced Peaches
White Corn (cut off the cob)
Red Wine Vinaigrette

For the record, I am not vegetarian, but I do not eat meat excessively. I enjoy vegetarian and vegan foods, try to eat contentiously, and like bacon.


Potato Leek Magic

I made Potato Leek soup yesterday, inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks. The only ingredients that my version shared with the original recipe, however, were the potatoes and leeks. And salt.

1 largish leek
2 medium red potatoes
~2c water
dill (or whatever spices you like...the original called for bay leaves)
3 Tbs olive oil
1-2Tbs wheat kernels (or barley or 1 Tbs flour)

Slice the leek however you like, my preference is to get pretty rings. Sautee it in the bottom of a medium pot with the oil until the pieces soften. Add plenty of salt (adjust to taste later), the spices, wheat, and water. Be careful while adding he water so as not to spray the oil. (I took the pot off the stove) Chop the potatoes into small squares while the water heats, add them whenever you finish chopping them. Let the broth boil until the potatoes are soft and the kernels aren't too chewy. Salt to taste. For a smoother and less watery texture of the broth, pulse an immersion blender a few times in the soup.


My Feet Have Balls

And those balls hurt. I couldn't find my dance shoes today (apparently I didn't bring them up with me) and I went to a contra dance. I danced barefoot, which was a lot of fun, and they had a nice, smooth, fairly clean floor. The dance itself was a blast, but I had to leave at the break because I wanted to be able to walk tomorrow. Definitely going to go back, though, as soon as I find my shoes or buy new ones or improvise somehow (in a way that does not involve bare feet).


Again with the house!

I thought I'd show the craigslist picture of the house I'll be living in for the next year! It's so adorable! It's about a 20 minute drive from my work!
In other news, I saw my friend Cole today, met his cousin-ish relative from France, and his friends. Two of the friends were "kiwis," or New Zealand dudes. The Americans had a hard enough time comprehending their crazy speak, let alone the French girl. We went to the Amoeba music store in SF, which was way fun. I bought three CDs, which was too many, but it was hard to resist. The CDs: My Brightest Diamond's A Thousand Shark's Teeth, The Polyphonic Spree's The Fragile Army, and Coldplay's newest album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends. But honestly, with a house as gorgeous as the one I'll be living in, I need wonderful, new music to listen to, right? ...Right?


I have a place to live!

I woke up at 2:50am and stumbled out the door of my parent's home by 3 in SoCal. I drove. A bit later, I arrived at a hotel in the bay area. Work is putting me up there for two weeks, and I intended to spend this week apartment hunting and reporting back to my roommate. Those plans changed, however, when we found something today.

We looked at a lot of really trendy places...some brand new, some only a couple of years old. The cabinets looked like the would match furniture from Ikea perfectly. Slick. Everything was simple and linear. And then we saw the garden house.

It was old, yellow-y, and had a beautiful garden with morning glories, an angel's trumpet tree, and who knows what else. And it cost just as much to rent as all the shnazzy apartments, and it included furniture. So now I have a place to live. The downside: the kitchen has really old appliances, but I'll just have to be creative!

Another up-side: I now have to week to play around in the bay area with my friends!


at the end of the day

I didn't think I'd have internet, but I'm leeching off of the neighbor's internet connection at my grandma's house. On my brother's computer. Oh yeah, I feel the karma stacking up.

Tonight, I was strongly encouraged to attend a religious institute class. It's not that I mind the concept of the class, but the individuals attending are not my kind of people, to say the least. They seem to be filled with the irresistible urge to say the most mundane things as if they were profound. My brother and I had to literally bite on our fingers to stop from laughing at a certain point. It was very, very painful.

Brother Boring: "God's creation! I just go outside and it's so... beautiful!"
another brother: "Yeah, I feel a burning in my bosom."
My brother: "And on my back." (it's been over 100 degrees every day this week)

Despite the wit of my brother, the quote of the day goes to Grandma: "I'm a lonesome widow....I go out looking for these stray men..."


Grandmother's House

I'm at my grandma's house for a few days while our house is "re-piped" (the insides of the pipes are coated with some magical substance). I look forward to reading a good deal.

Living so closely with my family challenges my composure. One of my biggest complaints, however is that we don't have the same food here. Where's my tea? How come all the bread is white? And that I don't know where things are. It should not take five minutes to find the salt.

Grandma is incredibly frugal. She is over 80 with a net positive income. She washes her plastic cups and utensils in her dishwasher. The cups come out a bit warped, but otherwise okay. Why not just use the glass ones? I don't get it.

My favorite story about her frugality has to do with her visiting my grandpa's grave. I don't remember the exact holiday, but my mom, brother, and dad went with her and she brought flowers. As the story was reported to me, she put the flowers on the grave and said something to the effect of, "You know, Ed never liked to spend money that we didn't have to. I'm keeping to his wishes...I cut these flowers from my neighbor's bush that grew over into my yard."