Lazy Sunday II

Just like I did last Sunday, today I’ll take a breather and answer some of the official MoFo blogging prompts. (I know, yesterday was nothing if not a breather… but a girl’s gotta rest up on the weekends!) So far today I’ve fed and walked Moria, had breakfast (tea, a grapefruit, and toast), and finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane (if you like Neil Gaiman at all, read it!). I’m currently trying to decide whether I’ll bother showering today, and soon I’ll mosey over to the kitchen to start prepping some food for the week. If I can work in some knitting later, this will be pretty darn close to my perfect lazy Sunday.

Anyway, enough about my slothdom. On to the questions!

What’s the best vegan meal you’ve ever eaten?

Here’s the thing. I am horrible—horrible!—at choosing a favorite anything. While I do have strong feelings about many topics (feminism, not texting while driving, the repellent nature of stray hairs), I’m often hard-pressed to choose favorites, especially when put on the spot. And with this question in particular, well, I’m lucky to have eaten many scrumptious vegan meals.


One particular meal stands out.


Just over a year ago, between shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, S and I had dinner at Henderson’s, and the Nut Roll blew. my. mind. so much so that I still remember it every so often with a little sigh. You can read about the details here. Bottom line? It might very well be the best vegan meal I’ve had. My mouth is watering just remembering it.

But a meal is about more than just the food. It’s about the circumstances in which you ate it and the people with whom you shared it. I shared this meal with my steadfast, sweet S during a truly wonderful vacation together in a city (and country) I just adored. It would be difficult to top that. :)

What was your first vegan cookbook?

This one’s easier to answer! I received Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan with a Vengeance for Christmas in 2008. I’d been vegetarian for a while and, after slowly realizing that being vegetarian didn’t quite hold with my ethics, wanted to explore veganism. These cookbooks helped me feel comfortable cooking and eating vegan. I treasured them, thumbing through them over and over, learning about new-to-me ingredients, and delighting in my vegan enlightenment. I still cook from them.

Talk about your favorite place to buy vegetables.

My favorite place to buy vegetables is at the west-side Willy Street Co-op at around 8:00 PM, when the store is mostly empty and I can have the aisles nearly to myself. I feel like I ought to say the farmers’ market, but honestly? Crowds make me nervous, and my experiences with farmers’ markets are never fully positive because they are invariably crowded. Not so my beloved co-op. Plus, it always has a good selection of local vegetables and includes info about their sources on its price cards.

Alas—I now live exactly 696 miles from my beloved co-op, and I’ve yet to find a worthy replacement. We can walk to a Giant in five minutes, but their produce is your typical big-box grocery store fair. Trader Joe’s is a seven-minute drive away, and they do stock a small amount of local fruit and veg, but the selection varies and is not often organic. Whole Foods is about a 15-minute drive away, but it’s not cheekily called “Whole Paycheck” for nothin’! So, all that’s to say that I’m still searching for a new favorite place to get my veggie fix. I think I’ll participate in a CSA next year, because I’ve had very good luck with them in the past… and there are no crowds. ;)

What’re your answers to any/all of these questions? What are you doing on this Sunday?

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Ten

Orange rectangle with the white fist-shaped Vegan MoFo logo and the text "Vegan Month of Food 2012."

Well, it’s finally happened. S and I received our very last summer CSA share yesterday. Sigh. I really shouldn’t complain, though. Our “summer” share lasted halfway through October, which is nearly a month into autumn. Not too shabby. Neither were the contents of our box:

Basket filled with squash cabbage, sweet potatoes, and more. In front are two bags, one of spinach and one of carrots.

Root veggies galore!

Although the pickings aren’t exactly slim, they’re surely not as numerous as they have been in weeks past. What this box lacks in variety, however, it makes up in, um, volume. There’s some weighty produce in there! Including this little guy, who escaped my original photo:

Close-up of a round yellow squash streaked with dark green.


So – what’s in the box? (Other than a WHOLE LOTTA CARROTS!)

  • Bok choy
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Cippollini onion
  • Garlic
  • Red cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Sweet dumpling squash
  • Sweet potato

…yep, it’s definitely autumn. :)

As usual… what should I make with my haul? 

S and I already enjoyed a curried carrot soup, but there’re still lots more veggies to eat!

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Nine

Orange rectangle with the white fist-shaped Vegan MoFo logo and the text "Vegan Month of Food 2012."

It seems appropriate to post about my CSA haul during MoFo. The ideal vegan diet should feature oodles and oodles of  veggies, and I love that my CSA gives me so much beautiful fresh food to eat. This week’s share, though slightly smaller than those of previous weeks, was still full of gorgeous produce.

Basket full of veggies. A huge head of lettuce and a large bunch of curly kale are particularly prominent, along with some acorn and delicata squash.

Cheeky squash face…

Clearly the cool-weather veggies are starting to come in! Those are the last sweet red peppers of the year, alas. They’ve been such a delight. Maybe this big bag o’ spinach will help make up for my loss, though:

So green!

So – what’s in the box this week?

  • Acorn squash
  • Carmen sweet pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Curly green kale
  • Delicata squash
  • Garlic
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Russet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Yellow onion

Last night S and I halved that big ol’ acorn squash and coated it with coconut oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, and a dash of salt and roasted it to sweet, tender perfection. We served it alongside sauteed kale and cannellini beans for a veggie-rich dinner. Vegan food at its freshest and finest! I’m already said that my next share will be my last of the season. :(

What should we do with the rest of our produce? What’s your favorite way to eat winter squash?

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Eight (+ Vegan MoFo on the Horizon!)

As I write this, I’m wearing sweatpants and drinking an Octoberfest seasonal release beer. I’m munching a cookie made with (freshly roasted!) pumpkin, and I wore a coat to work today. The signs are all there – summer is clearly on its way out the door. Sigh. At least I have two more weeks of CSA goodness after this one, though, and I do love me some cool-weather produce.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – this week’s box still featured a decent amount of summery produce. Check it out:

Basket full o' produce, featuring carrots, peppers, spinach, and more!

Also some wintery things…

We already gobbled up that bok choi and at least one of those peppers – S made a yummy tofu stir fry while I was at the gym yesterday evening. Delightful.

Did you notice that bag of intriguingly colored lumpy things to the left of the basket? Kinda weird looking, eh?

Plastic bag with dark purple potatoes.


They’re brightly colored purple potatoes! Not quite as brightly colored as these late-summer tomatoes, though:

Bright red tomatoes in a plastic bag.


That top tomato is a little iffy… still, not bad for a mid-September basket, eh? No, precious, not bad at all. Here’s what we got:

  • Anaheim peppers
  • Bok choi
  • Carmen sweet peppers
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Jalapeno
  • Leeks
  • Purple potatoes
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes (assorted heirlooms & slicers)

So, here’s the usual question – what should I make with my stash?!

And finally, a quick word on things to come in October. As I have for the past two years, this year I’ll be participating in… Vegan MoFo! It’s the vegan month of food, where bloggers commit to posting about vegan food at least 20 days out of the month. For the past three years, I’ve posted every single day during MoFo month, and I think I’m going to try to keep my streak going. But I want to know what you want to see! Last year I did a couple of recipe showdowns that were really well-received, and I also posted a new muffin recipe every Monday. Should I do more of the same this year? Come up with a new theme entirely? What do you want to see for Vegan MoFo?!

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Seven

You know summer’s on its way out when the sweet corn stops coming… sigh. I do love autumn, but I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to wearing sundresses and not needing a jacket when I take my pup outside. Luckily for me, it’s still quite hot in Madison, so I can ignore the dearth of sweet corn and carry on in blissful ignorance, pretending that my favorite season will never end.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve got lots of delicious produce, either. This week’s box contained two giant bags of tomatoes, and tomatoes are nothing if not summery! S and I received our CSA box last night and have already gobbled up three of those tomatoes, just sliced up and eaten in their juicy, naked goodness.

Two bags of tomatoes, some red and some green.

Two bags full!

Friends, what on earth should I do with green tomatoes?! I know that fried green tomatoes are a thing (and a movie?) but I don’t really want to fry up my fresh little lovelies. How else should I enjoy them?

If it helps, here are some of the other pieces o’ produce I’m working with:

A basket full of produce - broccoli, peppers, eggplant, various herbs, carrots, onions, and more.

My pretties.

Not that broccoli, though – that went into the Broccoli Pesto from Everyday Happy Herbivore. The pesto was creamy and green and very, very pungent. Even after using a single clove of garlic in place of the recommended three, my breath was redolent of garlic for the rest of the night. Anyway, aside from the broccoli, all of those veggies are available for your cooking suggestions. As are these:

Plastic bag with long green peppers and large, dark purple beets.

Hmm, what’s in here?

That’s perhaps not the best photograph, but in that bag are some big ol’ beets and a couple of peppers. And next to them is a big bunch of beans. And what beans they are!

Close-up of long, light yellow beans streaked with dark purple.

Bag o’ beans.

Have you ever encountered dragon tongue beans before? I haven’t! Such a pretty, striking pattern – the purple streaks are so similar to those of the eggplant I talked about on Labor Day.

Not a bad selection for the end(ish) of summer, eh? All told, our box contained:

  • Anaheim peppers
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Carmen sweet peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Dragon tongue beans
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Red bell pepper
  • Red potatoes
  • Tomatoes (assorted heirlooms, slicers, salad)
  • Yellow bell peppers
  • Yellow onions

I am going to be so sad when my CSA ends and I stop receiving giant boxes of veggies. The farm does offer a winter share, but it’s a bit pricy – $230 for four boxes or $125 for two. I’ll just stick with mostly local produce from my beloved co-op during the winter months.

But enough about the winter – blech! Back to summer. Tell me – what should I make with my veggies? How should I use those gorgeous beans?

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Six

One of the most disheartening things about returning from a lengthy vacation (other than that whole “back to the daily grind” thing…) is the inevitably empty fridge that awaits you. And if it’s not empty, it most likely houses the rapidly decomposing remains of leftovers you forgot to finish before leaving. Upon our return, S and I were met with a couple of shrunken ears of corn, a bowl of leftover carrot slaw growing small bubbles (bubbles!) of mold, and a sad, shriveled cucumber half – not exactly the makings of gourmet fare. Our fridge does house a healthy amount of condiments, seeds, and nuts, but again, they’re nothing really meal-worthy on their own. So, tossing my guilt at wasting food down the garbage disposal along with the moldy remains of meals past, I hastened to the co-op not long after our return. I did not, however, purchase very much – I knew that we’d be getting our sixth CSA box this week, so I didn’t want to crowd the fridge before the veggies arrived.

And what veggies they are! My basket was filled with a rainbow of produce:

What variety!

Thankfully, the glut of zucchini and cucumber has finally slowed down, and now we’re getting fewer long green things and more varied veggies. So… what’s in the box?

  • Anaheim peppers
  • Carmen sweet peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Edamame
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Tomatoes (assorted heirlooms, slicers, salad)
  • Yellow bell pepper
  • Zucchini

This might be my favorite box yet! Kale, three types of peppers, eggplant, sweet corn… and edamame! Just look how fuzzy it is:

Fuzzy beans.

I’ve never seen edamame this fresh! Should I eat it plain or do something fancy with it? I’ll also have to come up with lots of uses for  two whole bags of tomatoes:


Not a bad haul, eh? I always feel like I should do something exciting and creative with my veggies, but I often resort to simple meals. After bringing home this haul, for example, I cooked up a pot of lentils, sauteed a chopped tomato, a bit of diced onion, a diced small carrot, and the kernels from one ear of corn, and threw it all together with some salt, pepper, and a couple squeezes of lime juice. It was simple, flavorful, and perfectly satisfying… not to mention easy! Then I whipped up a raw salad of lots of diced veggies to bring to work tomorrow. Yet I barely made a dent in this stash – my fridge is now brimming with produce… and none of it rotten or moldy. ;)

What’re your suggestions for how to use my haul? Are you more successful than I am at finishing leftovers before going on vacation?

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Five

It’s week five of my summer CSA! Want to see my haul?

An empty basket!


What devilry is this?! Don’t worry, our farm hasn’t gone under or anything. S and I decided to donate our share to a local food pantry this week. I’d be lying if I said we did it out of pure altruism, though – it was a very pragmatic decision. We are going to be out of town for about ten days starting Friday, and our food just wouldn’t last that long. Where will we be? We are going to Ireland and Scotland! Eee!

…I know, I know, we just took a trip to RI. And I haven’t even mentioned that I spent last weekend camping with college friends. But the Ireland/Scotland trip was in the works well before either of those trips, and summer is for travelin’, right? Yeah. I’m super excited to return to Dublin, where I spent most of a summer studying during college. And I’ve never been to Scotland, so I can’t wait to explore Edinburgh and check out some Fringe events. And – of course! – we are both very excited to discover what vegan eats Dublin and Edinburgh have to offer. I was vegetarian when I was in Ireland, but I’ve never experienced it as a vegan.

So, dear readers, if you’ve been to either place as a vegan, let me know where I should eat! And do share fun things to do in Dublin and Edinburgh. I’ve done many touristy things in Dublin, but I’m open to your suggestions, too! And, tell me – do you have any fun vacations planned this summer?

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Four (Plus a Bonus Pukey Puppy Story!)

When we received our last CSA box, Madison was drought central. Soon after that post, though, Mama Nature decided to relent a little and granted us with a few rainstorms. Although the much-appreciated rain can’t undo the damage already caused by lack of water, they’ll definitely help some crops in the area perk up and start producin’. In the meantime, our farm continues to provide us with lots of tasty treats.

A big ol' basket of veggies - sweet corn and basil feature prominently among them.

I spy with my little eye… sweet corn!

This is one of our most bountiful boxes yet! We received:

  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers (green & purple)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Muskmelon
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet onion
  • Watermelon
  • Zucchini

YES! It’s the first of the sweet corn! We found nine ears in our box and demolished four of them last night. ;) S and I don’t have a grill, so we roasted them in the oven – so, so good, especially when paired with sauteed tofu, summer squash, and bell pepper. I was also pretty excited for those melons.

Close-up of a watermelon and a smaller yellow muskmelon.

Cheeky watermelon!

I wasn’t familiar with muskmelon, but after devouring about half of it last night, S and I agree that it’s indistinguishable from a cantaloupe. And really, who cares about the nomenclature when you’ve got a sweet, juicy melon to enjoy?

If it seems like S and I are being a bit gluttonous, making a decent dent in our stash on the first night we welcomed it home, you’re right. But we have good reason – like I mentioned in my last post, we’re heading to Rhode Island tomorrow, and we’ll be there for five days. So we want to eat up some of our goodies before leaving them to languish in the fridge. I’m sure most of the veggies will last just fine, but we definitely want to use up that eggplant tonight!

In fact, I had grand plans last night to whip up some sort of cold pasta or grain salad for lunch today, something that would use up a ton of the veggies, and I wanted to make zucchini bread as well. Feel free to insert your favorite cliche about the best laid plans or good intentions or whatever, because Moria had other plans for us. She swallowed a good inch or two of a corn cob (totally my fault – I let her gnaw on it and then didn’t watch her closely), which is apparently Not Good because corn cobs are not digestible and can get stuck in a doggie’s innards. I ended up bringing her to the emergency vet when I couldn’t make her vomit on my own with a dose of hydrogen peroxide (per the vet’s instructions!). After the vet gave her a stronger emetic, she puked that corn cob right up. She’s fine now, and never will I ever again give her a corn cob. ;)

Anyway, that affair took up most of the evening, so I nixed my plans to make a salad. I did make a zucchini bread, though, and put together quick fruit salads with watermelon and muskmelon. So that’s something!

Anyway, this’ll probably be my only post until next week – I doubt I’ll have time to post when I’m in RI. We’re also taking a day trip to NYC to visit one of S’s friends, and I’m really excited about that – I haven’t been to the city for maybe five years, and never as a vegan. You can bet we’ll be hitting up Lula’s Sweet Apothecary for some vegan ice cream, but what other vegan-friendly joints should we try? Blossom seems like a must-visit…

What delicious dish should I make with my remaining veggies? Where should I go in NYC? And what else should I avoid giving my dog?! (I swear I’m usually a responsible pet owner!)

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Three

It’s our third CSA box already! To be honest, S and I still have some veggies left over from our last box, which we received two weeks ago. I blame moving.

Before I show you what’s in the box this week, I want you to look at something else. This is what my backyard (by which I mean the “quad” outside my apartment building) looks like right now:

A large expanse of dry, yellow grass with a few trees. In the distance is some green grass. A small dog is in the foreground.

Moria surveys the drought.

This is what happens when the Madison area undergoes a drought. It’s not pretty. You can see, in the distance, some green grass – that’s where the sprinklers are. But the grass that doesn’t get water is more like straw – it’s yellow, bone-dry, and crunchy. Not good. Unsurprisingly, many small farms in the area are not doing well. CSA farms without proper irrigation aren’t able to provide their share owners with many veggies… and it doesn’t help that we’ve had record heat this summer, upwards of 100 degrees. Luckily, though, my CSA farm has the infrastructure in place to keep its crops irrigated, so my box this week was not at all lacking:

A large pile of veggies on a kitchen counter.

More colors than just green this week!

So – what’s in the box?

  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Bottle onions
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Fennel
  • Garlic
  • Head lettuce
  • Rainbow chard
  • Summer squash
  • Sungold tomatoes (!)
  • Zucchini

Not a bad selection at all. If you can’t tell by that exclamation mark, I’m very excited for the tomatoes. :) Please excuse the shoddy photo, though. I had to take it indoors at 10:00 PM last night because I was out late doing a volunteer project (more about that later).

I’m glad that my CSA is continuing to produce lots and lots of yummy veggies, and I’m glad I invested in it and threw my lot in with my CSA farm. Because that’s really what the CSA model is all about – shared risk and, hopefully, shared rewards. Folks like me who shell out a couple hundred dollars before the growing season even begins in earnest make it possible for our CSA farms to do what they do. We share in their successes, but it also means that we have to share in their failures, too. If my CSA didn’t have the irrigation infrastructure it does, I might have received a very different box yesterday. But that’s just the way it goes – farming is not a guaranteed success (duh), and when we purchase a CSA share, we’re acknowledging that fact.

So what about you? Is there a drought in your area, too? Have you noticed its effects in your CSA share or at a farmers’ market? And, of course, what would you make with these veggies?

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!

What’s in the Box? Summer 2012 CSA Week Two

Oh my – it’s already been two weeks since we received our first CSA share! This share is a little less bountiful than the previous one, but I’m not complaining – we’re moving tomorrow/Friday (!), and I’d rather not have to transport loads of produce to our new place. This week, everything fits in my basket:

A large basket filled with produce.

So green!

So… what’s in the box?

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Head lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsley
  • Pearl onions
  • Snow peas
  • Zucchini

I’m very excited about that cabbage – you can’t really see it in the picture, but it’s huge! I’m very fond of this humble vegetable, and I’m looking forward to using it in a big batch of Mexican Cabbage from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook. And last week S used our first kohlrabi in this surprisingly tasty kale and kohlrabi dish, so we might have to recreate it with this week’s kohlrabi.

What would you make with this haul?

Curious about what other folks are getting in their CSA boxes this time of year? Check out the What’s in the Box? link party for this week!