Beanie Weenies

I sometimes get inexplicable cravings for trashy foods: sloppy joes and chili mac and cheese were both recent, and today came yet another in the form of beanie weenies. Here's my lunch, with the aforementioned trailer park cuisine sitting next to a baked sweet potato and some green beans. I just dumped a can of vegetarian baked beans in a pot and cut up a few tofu dogs, added those, and simmered it for a while. I love sweet potatoes because they're supposedly healthier than regular potatoes and just as easy. If you put them in the microwave for about 4 minutes they cook through and the skin just peels off like a jacket. Then I just cut it in half and slathered it in margarine. The green beans were from a can, but much improved with garlic salt. That's my teapot in the background. I'm kind of a tea nerd but that's another post entirely.

And speaking of flavored salts, the beanie weenies were a little bland at first, so I figured it was the perfect canvas on which to try a new favorite product: Bacon Salt. It really was the perfect complement and took the beanie weenies from marginal to spectacular. Check this shit out.


Soft Pretzels

These are the afore- mentioned whole wheat pretzels, which is really sort of a misnomer. I used the recipe here but just used 2 cups white and 2 cups wheat flour. I also decided to forgo the pumpkin seeds. They don't taste pumpkin-y at all, which is nice. I think next time I'll use more white flour and actually invest in some coarse salt. In this picture I'm about to eat that one with horseradish mustard, which I really can't get enough of. These were best right out of the oven, but they perk right back up when I toast them.


Pumpkin Pie

Saturday was a banner day for baking. I made whole wheat soft pretzels, which I'll post about separately, and a lovely pumpkin pie. The recipe for the pie is here and it's pretty accurate in its description. I used a prefab graham cracker crust so the whole thing took almost no work.

Here's the raw pie with the blender remnants in the background. After the pie was in the oven I got a spatula and demolished the scant remains of the filling.

The baked pie, fresh out of the oven. I let it cool for a couple of hours before trying it, but the consistency really is much better the second day. The slice I had last night was delicious but it was more a lump than a slice.


Unattractive Corn Chowder

So, I wanted to make some kind of corn chowder, but I wanted it super easy. I had this corn chipotle bisque soup from a box, so I heated it up and added corn and a few black beans. The black beans turned it kind of a funny color, for some reason, and it wasn't that great anyway. I tried shredding up some vegan cheddar in it. It was alright but it didn't satisfy the beast within me than demands corn chowder. I need to just make it from scratch next time. The bread bowl, however, was yummy.


Señor Tequila

My friends Kate and Sarah were talking this morning about how they didn't mind clothes you had to dry clean because it offered a great excuse to go to Señor Tequila. At some point in the discussion, we decided we didn't need an excuse and agreed to meet for an early lunch at the South University location. I got an order of nachos with beans, vegetables, and guacamole. The waiter was super nice about my marginally picky order, even though it seemed like he had to write a page and a half of notes about me not wanting cheese. The notes were apparently successful, as the nachos arrived as ordered and were super tasty. Both their beans and their rice are vegan, and they've always been nice about modifying menu items. In fact, the first time I ordered these nachos I was at the Rodney Parham branch and was about to order them with just beans and guac when the waiter was like, "You want some vegetables on those?" Hell yeah I want some vegetables!

In terms of the more prominent local Mexican places, this is my favorite. Hacienda is straight up nasty, which I know it's not cool to say since everyone thinks it's so great, but the beans there taste like cardboard and they put some kind of weird frozen vegetable mix in their rice. Casa Mañana is actually really good, and if you eat chicken try their tortilla soup because it's amazing, but they put sour cream in their guacamole which I've never liked but is especially icky for vegans. I need to get down to 65th street more and try out those places where no one speaks English; I haven't been in years.


Butternut Squash Spring Rolls

I've been itching to try the butternut squash spring rolls from Veganomicon for a while. I bought a squash last time I was at the grocery store. Something everyone should know about me and keep it in their heart of hearts forever is that I do not generally like squash. However, it's a texture issue more than a taste issue, and when prepared correctly I enjoy the sweet winter squashes quite a bit. Summer squashes and other squishy things, like eggplant and zucchini, require special magic to make them edible to me.

It wasn't until after I got the squash peeled and seeded that I realized it had to be cut into 1/4" cubes. That was tedious, but the result was worth it. I gorged myself on like six of these bad boys. I also replaced the cilantro with Thai basil, because I recently was tricked into hating cilantro. A friend of mine who used to work in the restaurant industry said that there are two kinds of people: those who love cilantro and those who think it tastes like soap. I couldn't imagine what he was talking about as I've always loved cilantro. Last week I made a big pot of green curry and chopped up a bunch of cilantro to serve with it. I took one bite and thought, in horror, "Holy shit! It DOES taste like soap!" I haven't been able to eat it since. He says it's supposed to be genetic, so maybe it tasted like soap all along and I never really noticed it.

I also replaced the vermicelli with a broader rice noodle, because I had some in my kitchen already, and the spicy oil or whatever with Sriracha.

While I've made spring rolls with rice paper before, I think the olive oil on the squash, and my fingers, made these especially difficult to get tight. I may use less if I make these again.

Ciabatta Pizza

I don't know where I saw a ciabatta pizza on the internets, but it's sounded good for a few days now. I had a loaf of ciabatta that I picked up from Fresh Market last time I was there, so I cut it in half and cut it lengthwise. I put olive oil and spices and big chunks of chopped garlic on it, then a few diced tomatoes (from a can) and some nutritional yeast. I know the sprinkling nutritional yeast on pizza is some serious high school shit, but I was feeling lazy.

I put it in the oven at 400 for about 8 minutes and it turned out really lovely. The whole kitchen smelled like garlic and oregano. It was crunchy around the sides but the olive oil kept it soft in the middle. Yum.

Oh, hello there.

So I recently went vegan again. I was vegan for about seven years before I started law school, and somehow it all fell apart one morning in Las Vegas. That's how law school is. But now I'm done, and when I graduated I realized I suddenly had the time and energy to do anything I wanted. It took a few months of transitioning, but I'm back to it full time. For disclosure, I do eat honey, and I do eat animal products when I feel like I'm presented with a cultural experience that I'd otherwise miss out on. To me, experiencing the world and its cultures requires eating the food, so while I'm vegan for purposes of my own kitchen and every restaurant I frequent, I do make exceptions.

Since reveganizing, I've been reading tons of vegan blogs. I used to have a food blog I shared with some friends, but we all got busy and it fell into disrepair. I still love food and I love blogging about it, so I figured I'd start a little free blog and see what happens. This isn't going to be fancy -- it's just a way for me to take pictures and talk about what I eat -- but I'll cite recipes when I can in case there's anything someone wants to try.