Friday, April 29, 2011

Tasty Testers

Before I moved, Krys from Two Vegan Boys sent me some recipes to test for her. I knew they would be great because her meals always look so yummy. It took awhile, but after settling into my new kitchen, I got around to making them.

First, some sweets. Coconut chocolate mint pudding, and chocolate raspberry pancakes.

The pudding was made with coconut milk. So creamy and rich.  The pancakes were gobbled up by Jackson and Olivia. Fresh raspberries on top -- how could anyone resist?

Next, some potato corn chowder made in the slow cooker. Vegan sausage was added to make it extra-hearty. I used Field Roast Apple Sage sausage. It was my first time trying a Field Roast sausage. It's no big thing to make my own sausage at home, but I have to say these links were really good.

My favorite of the bunch was a curried eggplant casserole. There's a layer of mixed veggies, topped with eggplant slices, covered with a soy yogurt curry sauce, and baked in the oven. I served it with basmati rice. Even Tony, who fears eggplant, admitted that this was good stuff. And, to my surprise, baby Olivia ate a big helping. You never know what little ones will end up liking, so I always let them try everything.

Are you doing any recipe testing at the moment? Or have you tried out a new recipe from any source, that you enjoyed?

This morning we are going to check out toddler storytime at our local library. I'm a librarian by profession, so I am a big supporter of public libraries! Then I have to fill out some paperwork to get Jackson enrolled in daycare. He will go part-time, two days a week, and he is not starting until September, but I still get a little teary-eyed thinking about it. Such a big step for my buddy. I'm used to having him around all the time. But I know he is ready. We toured the school yesterday and he blended right in. He loves to play with other kids. I'll be the one crying when I drop him off on that first day, not him!

Any fun plans this weekend? We are going to IKEA to get some stuff for the house. It's still looking kinda bare. When you move from a two-bedroom apartment into a two-story home, it's going to look bare, I guess. I'm not really looking forward to it. IKEA can be overwhelming. It's a huge store. If it gets to be too much, we will go back for the rest some other time. No hurry. On Sunday, we are taking Monster to a Boston Terrier meetup and then I am taking some goodies to the World Wide Vegan Bake Sale. I've never been to a vegan bake sale, so I'm looking forward to bringing home some yummy treats. I haven't decided yet what to bake. Any ideas?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In the Sun

We have been back in Texas for nearly a month now and I still can't get enough of the warm weather and sunshine. It feels like I am slowly thawing, down to my bones.

Jackson would play outside all day if I let him.

Olivia is getting used to the feel of green grass on bare feet.

 Not eaten outdoors but delicious none the less -- Chickpeas with 40 Cloves of Garlic, from Appetite for Reduction.

Next time I need to double this recipe. The kids were fighting me over the garlicky chickpeas. So good. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter and Recent Restaurant Meals

Hey all. Thank you for your well wishes last week. Stomach bugs suck. I hate puking. I didn't even puke when I was pregnant. I hope I don't get sick like that again for a long, long time. I am feeling much better now. Thanks again.

If you celebrate Easter, I hope you had an enjoyable one. This year my parents sent some Easter baskets for the kids to tear into when they woke up. These were the parent-pleasing kind of Easter baskets -- full of clothes and toys, no candy. I'm sure next year Jackson will be old enough to know that there ought to be some candy in that basket, and we will have a hyper little monkey on our hands.

We also colored a few eggs. Jackson was super serious about the whole process. It was a big deal. I was smiling at his looks of intense concentration.

He was quite proud of the finished product.

Olivia didn't know what to do with a bunch of eggs. I'm with you, lady.

Since we are not a fully vegan home, the eggs didn't go to waste. Tony made them into egg salad to eat for his lunches.

Since recovering, I've been back in the kitchen a little bit. But today, I thought I would post some pics of restaurant meals that we ate while we were living in the hotel and getting moved into our new house. We ate out a lot. Typically we try to only eat out once a week. But I don't feel bad about it at all. There are so many great Austin restaurants that I missed.

This was my first meal in Austin. Yes, it has cheese on it. In my excitement, I forgot that the veggie enchiladas from Chuy's arrive covered in cheese. So I forgot to tell the waiter "no cheese." No worries; it was easily scraped to the side. Olivia ate the beans and rice.

Watermelon mojito on the side. Oh yes.

While Chuy's is Tony's favorite Mexican restaurant in Austin, mine is Polvo's. They are awesome. They have like 16 different types of enchilada sauces. Not all vegan, but still. There's also a self-serve salsa bar with black salsa. The charred skins of roasted tomatoes is what makes it black. I've tried to duplicate it at home but I think there is some kind of unicorn magic involved. I can't stop eating it. Jackson knows what I'm talking about. He needed his own bowl.

I am not normally a person who goes to a restaurant and orders a salad, but I have dreams about the Michoacan avocado salad. Can you ever have too much avocado? I think not.

Another day, we were driving around looking at houses and I stopped to get smoothies for me and Jackson at Daily Juice, my favorite juice bar. I used to go to the one on Barton Springs that is just a juice bar, but there's another one further north that is an actual sit-down cafe and serves raw food. I've not eaten there but I need to try their food sometime. I've never been to any kind of raw cafe. Have you? How was it?

I had the El Paraiso, with mango, pineapple and other good stuff. It was turned green from spirulina. Like sucking down a cup of sunshine. Green sunshine.

Jackson made short work of his strawberry-banana smoothie. In New York we rarely made smoothies, but I know we will be drinking more of them now that we are back in a hot climate.

Finally on my most-missed list, there is Magnolia. We used to live across the street from this 24-hour diner. After several days on the road, eating little besides Larabars and fast food was getting old. At least Subway and Burger King serve veggie patties, but I don't know if they are vegan, and I definitely ate too many French fries to count. I was craving vegetables like never before. Magnolia was there to help.

That is one of their dinner specials. It's tofu, spinach, summer squash, mushrooms, peppers, and spinach, cooked in a coconut curry sauce. Next to that lovely mess of veggies is half an acorn squash, with some kind of pecan topping baked onto it (in the picture it sorta looks like a portabello mushroom, but that's actually the blackened pecan crust you're seeing.) It is a huge plate of food and I was more than happy to take home the leftovers and finish them for lunch the next day. Tastes so good.

Well, I am off to check on the tempeh I am BBQing for dinner tonight, and try to clean the bathrooms before Olivia wakes up. I feel busier than ever these days so I may not be blogging as regularly, but longer posts like this one when I do blog. We shall see. Hope you all have a great evening.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Plague

Ugh, you guys, I've come down with a horrible stomach bug. I've handed kid-feeding duties over to Tony while I nibble my Saltines. I'm not sure when I'll feel up to discussing food again. Right now I can't really look at it.

I'm glad that whatever I have doesn't seem to be contagious, and the babies are fine. They've been good cuddle buddies while Mama moans and groans on the couch.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We're home.

Soon I'll make a post about our 1800-mile road trip from Poughkeepsie to Austin, our week living in a Residence Inn, and my obscenity-laced dealings with extortionist Russian Mafia auto shippers. But for now, I just want to send a huge thank you to all of you who wished me luck with my move and expressed concern about whether the Texas wildfires have affected me (thankfully, they have not.) Thank you. It feels great to be settled. It feels great to be home.

Tony's previous employer wouldn't let him take time off work to fly out here and look for housing before we moved, so we had to wing it and find a house to rent once we arrived in Austin. Every morning, I would hop on the shared computer at the hotel and check the listings, and then we would drive around and scope places out. Each day I grew more nervous because houses were being rented out so quickly. We would see a place that we liked, and call the realtor, only to discover it was already taken. This happened five or six times. We couldn't increase our budget and we were determined to get a house, not an apartment. Tony and I had never lived in a house together, and it was time. The kids need a yard to run around in. I need a washer and dryer that belong to me and only me.

At the last possible minute, (the movers were literally heading into town with our stuff and needed somewhere to put it) we found a home that had just come onto the market that morning.

Our home.

The inside is pretty basic because we haven't really decorated yet. I like that we have a fireplace (believe it or not, it does occasionally get cool enough in Austin to warrant using a fireplace), and a garage so my car doesn't have to bake in the sun all day.

And oh yes, look what else is in that garage.

Sniff, sniff, aren't they beautiful? I'm so proud.

The house is only a few minutes from Tony's new job, which is awesome for him. There is also a greenbelt that is accessible at the end of our block -- I've already done a little exploring with Jackson. But the main reason we love this house is the backyard.

Jackson and Olivia love it. All they've known for so long is cold and snow, and apartment living with no space of their own. Sometimes Jackson will just sit in a deck chair and relax in the shade, looking out at the trees. My little guy, who is usually such a tornado of energy, will sit there quietly for a good twenty minutes. It's like he turns into a tiny old man. Then he gets another burst of energy and wants to run around and feel the sun on his face.

Olivia is a big fan of the deck. She is more like her daddy, preferring to hang out in the shade where it's cooler.

I like my new kitchen, too, although it's too overcast outside to take good photos today. It has a pantry, and a gas stove which I'm still getting used to, and window over the sink so I can look outside while I wash dishes. I also have a bookshelf for my cookbooks, so I don't have to store them in a cupboard. Now I can show 'em off.

The other night, I made an Ethiopian feast in honor of Tony's first day at his new job. All of the recipes were from Appetite for Reduction. I can't believe I almost didn't buy that cookbook, thinking it was "diet food." Everything is so delicious.

Y'abesha gomen - gingery collard greens. These were so crazy good that I finished them off for breakfast the next morning. Cold. I might be a freak for being so addicted to greens, but I don't care.

Ethiopian millet. If you haven't tried millet, it's similar to couscous, but with a little more bite to it.

Mushroom tibs. This dish was so easy to make. You whisk a spicy tomato sauce together in a measuring cup, dump it over the mushrooms, and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes. The recipe doesn't call for chickpeas, but I figured the sauce would complement them, so I tossed in half a can. If your store doesn't carry cremini mushrooms, don't worry, just use white button mushrooms. I almost always use button mushrooms wherever cremini are called for, since they are easier to find and cost less.

I'll be back soon, but a kind neighbor just stopped by to school us on recycling and trash pick-up schedules. I had put out our blue recycling bin along with the regular trash, but apparently it only gets picked up every other week.  I'm pretty pumped that we have single-sort recycling here -- it is really convenient and we didn't have any type of recycling available at all where we used to live. But now I have to run to Home Depot to buy a special kind of bag to use for lawn clippings. Who knew there were special bags? Ah, it's good to be home. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quick Update

Hey guys! I promise I haven't disappeared. We made it to Austin no problem and have been staying at the Residence Inn while house-hunting. We found a great house with a huge backyard for the babies and dog to play in, and today we are checking out of the hotel and heading over there to finish unpacking.

However we won't have an internet connection until April 21, unless the cable company decides to have mercy and fit us in sooner. So it'll be a bit longer before I can start posting again.

Hope you all are doing well! I'm sorry, I haven't had time to read and comment on your blogs while using this shared computer but I will catch up soon. Have a great day!