Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Last night I made a batch of maple-pecan Alternative Granola from The Urban Vegan. The "alternative" is that this granola includes atypical grains such as quinoa and amaranth. Well, to be honest, there's no amaranth in mine, because this was a spur-of-the-moment craving satisfation and I had no amaranth in my pantry. I had a bowlful this morning with Greek yogurt and sliced peaches.

For dinner I made two Going Vegan tester recipes. First, Summer Squash Veggie Sloppy Joes, served open-faced on whole wheat buns, sprinkled with nooch. These unique joes have a distinctly Italian flavor, rather than the traditional smoky BBQ flavor I frequently associate with sloppy joes.

Herb Roasted Potatoes on the side. The spice blend coats the potato cubes and bakes into a crispy, flavorful shell.

Today I ventured into IKEA to look for a bookshelf for the kids. No luck there, but I picked up a milk frother for $3. This produkt is going to revolutionize my coffee experience...just as soon as it gets cold enough to drink latte's. I'm hooked on iced coffees at the moment.

Afterwards, I stopped in to see my parents, who are all settled in to their new home along with their two cats, Bailey and Bella. Little hermit Bailey was hiding under the bed as usual, but Bella came out to say hi. She is so tiny, barely six pounds.

She's really sweet, although you wouldn't guess it from these photos. Every time I aimed my camera at her, she shot me a glare that clearly said, "Put down that stupid camera and pet me, human!"

What Bella wants, Bella gets.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

El Alma

This morning we had a lovely brunch at a new-ish restaurant in South Austin called El Alma. We started off with chips and two kinds of salsa.

I had the nopalito salad with tender cactus leaves, avocado, queso panela, hemp seeds, and pico de gallo.

I'm becoming a person who orders salads at restaurants. This is a new thing for me. I find that I always want a little something on the side to go with the salad. This time, I chose the corn pudding. It's actually more of a cornbread muffin, topped with pico de gallo. It was very creamy and pudding-like on the inside.

Olivia had the banana bread pudding with cajeta (a caramel sauce made from goat's milk), which she let me sample. I know what I'm ordering next time!

Posing on the rocky terrain outside.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ghost Mall

Today we ventured to Highland Mall so Tony could shop for sneakers. Highland Mall is an Austin oddity and undeniably sad. Just six or seven years ago, we shopped there regularly. But then the recession happened and most of the stores went out. However, the mall remains open for a small handful of shops...mostly sneaker stores, with the occasional Hot Topic or cell phone dealer. 

The food court is still semi-operational, making me wonder...who eats there?

The only way I can describe how it feels wandering around this half-abandoned mall is this...imagine you survived a zombie apocalypse by holing up inside the mall. And now it's one year later.

Defunct Auntie Anne's.

In the midst of desolation, a Clash reference. 

Desperate for signs of human life, we headed to Masala Wok (not in the mall) for lunch. We've eaten there before but I forgot to review it. I like all their vegetarian options and how quickly they bring your food. We started with spring rolls.

I had the spicy basil veggies and tofu over brown rice. Plenty of leftovers to take home!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Roller Skating

Today I took Jackson and Olivia roller skating for the first time. Here they are, all blurry in their excitement to get out on the floor.

Tentative first steps.

Confession time: I don't know how to roller skate! And I'm kind of afraid I would break an ankle if I try to learn now (I'm not the most graceful mama in the world.)  So I stayed in my street shoes and held Olivia's hand as we made our way around the rink.

She didn't need much hand-holding. This girl is fearless.

It was raining when we left the skating center, so a nice big pot of veggie chili sounded perfect for dinner.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Watery Wednesday

We started out the day with a water balloon fight.

Then headed to a splash pad downtown for more watery fun.

Vegan Eats World's Sweet Autumn Toasted Pita and Kale Salad isn't only good from September through December. Exotic ingredients like sumac powder and pomegranate molasses make it an out-of-the-ordinary treat, while toasted pita and roast sweet potato make it filling enough to eat as dinner. Which is what we did.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Curry Leaves and Snowballs

This morning we acquired some fresh Play-doh so Jackson and Olivia could practice with their "sculpture tools."

For dinner I made a red lentil curry over rice. I used curry leaves, which was a first. I bought them a few months ago at the Indian market and froze them until I was ready to use them. I didn't notice much difference in the flavor compared to using curry powder. I'll have to play around with them some more and see if I think they're worth keeping on hand.

After dinner we headed to Casey's for our favorite summer treat. The line is always wrapped around the building, but if you can stand the heat while waiting in line, the reward is sweet and frosty.

Banana for Jackson, root beer for Olivia. She's been on a root beer kick.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Music Class

This afternoon we attended a music class at Heartsong Music.  While we waited for class to start, Jackson and Olivia entertained themselves with the Montessori toys in the lobby.

We sat in a circle and sang songs. The kids really got into it.

Their favorite part was when a box full of instruments was passed around.

So I've been experimenting with homemade pizza dough. I would like to get a pizza stone like I owned several years ago. I went through a few of them, actually. They don't seem to last more than a year before they crack. But they do make a nice crust.  Right now I'm just using a cookie sheet. That works OK, too.

Spinach-Cashew Pizza Cheese Spread from Let Them Eat Vegan, with zucchini, corn, and kalamata olives.

Red pepper-cashew spread, with roasted garlic and kalamata olives.

Rock on!

Monday, July 22, 2013

New Round of Testing

I can't stay away from recipe testing, you guys! I am currently testing recipes for a new book from Joni Marie Newman and Gerrie Lynn Adams titled Going Vegan.

Almond Garlic Lemon and Herb Dip, garlicky and dill-icious.

It was great with sweet potato fries!

No-Bake Thumbprint Cookies, flavored with coconut, almond butter, and orange zest. These last for weeks in the fridge. (Hmm, that makes it sound like we didn't like them...but the only reason they lasted so long is because I made a huge batch!)

For a picnic, we paired Potato Salad...

...with Citrus Grilled Cauliflower Steaks.

Gerrie's Protein Shake made from silken tofu...smooth and creamy.

Pineapple Mango Coconut Chia Seed Pudding -- a sweet-but-not-too-sweet post-swimming treat for Jackson and Olivia.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pirate Ship

Today I took the kids to a public pool that boasts a pirate ship right in the middle of the pool. How awesome is that?

I thought this would be the be-all, end-all of pool experiences for my kids and we would spend the rest of the summer there. Unfortunately it was ruined by packs of elementary-age kids running, splashing and pushing. The lifeguards were standing around but nobody seemed to care. I don't understand letting kids that big into a wading pool with little ones. After Jackson and Olivia both got pushed down while climbing on the pirate ship, we packed up and left. Blah. 

Once we got home, I made lunch. The Eggless Tofu-Olive Salad from Vegan Crunk is fabulous, if you're an olive lover, which I definitely am. Here's the recipe if you are interested. We ate it on toast with a side of sauteed kale.

After lunch we did some crafts. 

For a snack, I made Apple-a-Day Green Smoothies from Let Them Eat Vegan. They're bright green thanks to spinach, but taste like mango and banana.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cathedral of Junk

This morning we headed to Polvo's for some breakfast tacos. We started off with chips and salsa. The best thing about Polvo's is their roasted salsa. All the charred bits of tomato and peppers make it almost black.

Olivia is enjoying her salsa, but doesn't the design of the table make it look like she's intently playing cards?

My tacos, with spinach, potatoes and onions.

After stuffing our bellies, we visited the Cathedral of Junk. I'm not sure how to describe it, really. A guy started building it in his backyard...and it grew...and grew. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.