A Two-Salad Supper | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Thirteen

It’s funny how sometimes I can stare into my cupboards and crisper and just have zero motivation or inspiration for dinner, whereas other days everything falls into place with barely any forethought.

I already knew I wanted to use that leftover creamy basil sauce as a salad dressing, so I whipped up a super simple green salad with mixed lettuces from the farmers market, a few sliced tomatoes, and a big scoop of chickpeas. And because I was craving potato salad after picking up a quart of new potatoes (also at the farmers market), I asked Steven if he wouldn’t mind mixing up a tater salad as well. I was craving a super simple mayo-based traditional potato salad, but Steven tried something else: Minimalist Baker’s cashew cream-based potato salad.

I was skeptical, but it’s pretty good! Steven added diced celery and bell peppers for crunch, so it’s a pretty veggie-packed dish. I do question the use of raw garlic in the dressing — raw garlic always has the potential to be overpowering! Steven used three small cloves, and it was juuust on the verge of being too much. Plus I bit the side of my mouth while eating, and then of course kept biting it, and the sharp garlic did not help.

This is compelling stuff, right? The goings-on of my injured inner cheek? This is what you get with raw, unvarnished, diary-style blogging… real A-plus content. :D You’re welcome.

 

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Small-Bite Sundays: June 3, 2018

Small-Bite Sundays

A year ago today, I was nervously setting off on my first wholly solo travel experience to the Netherlands and Belgium. It was just a few days after Luna had passed, and I had no idea how I would feel during the trip. I ended up being so, so glad I hadn’t backed out; it was the perfect time to get away from home and to distract myself with all that Amsterdam and Bruges had to offer. It also confirmed a fact I’d long suspected, but hadn’t had enough solo travel time to confirm: I am my own #1 travel partner. No disrespect to the many family members and friends I’ve travelled with, but I freaking love my own company! As if I needed more confirmation that I am an introvert through and through. (Steven, for the record, is my #2 travel partner. He’s also an introvert. We can feel alone even when we’re together.)

I haven’t got any solo travel plans this year… yet. I’m always on the lookout for cheap flights, and I’d love to book something for Labor Day weekend. I have managed to get a little traveling in during the first half of the year, though; I went to New Orleans with a couple friends (loved it!), spent five days in Kansas City for work (a surprisingly neat city), and went to Chicago for a quick weekend trip to visit some friends and meet their baby (<3 Chicago, and the baby was pretty cool too). I’ll be in Rhode Island next weekend to hang out with family members visiting from across the country (and meet another baby), and then I’ll be in South India for two weeks in July to celebrate my brother’s wedding. I’m counting down the days ’til this trip, although it’s going to be wholly different from the aforementioned solo travel experience: We’re going with my immediate family, various partners, and my cousin, and we’ll be traveling together for most of the time… not to mention attending the wedding ceremony/reception and various events with my sister-in-law’s family. Lots of socializing, basically. Gonna have to carve out some introvert recharge time!

Anyway, on to the small bites for this weekend.

Small bites: to read

Food52 has been publishing some really lovely pieces lately, including this sweet little story of a fig tree cutting that traveled from Sardinia to Dallas and helped the author’s two sets of grandparents bridge a linguistic divide. Valerio Farris’ description of eating a juicy, swollen fig makes me wish I liked the fruit!

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A thoughtful analysis of Solo, the new Star Wars movie that gives us — at long last — Han’s back story. I’m not sure I agree with every point here, but it does help explain why the film felt a bit flat. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it; it was entertaining enough. But it didn’t feel like a real Star Wars movie in the way The Force Awakens did, and it’s certainly nowhere near as solid as Rogue One. The frenetic pace, unnecessary subplots, and quick tour through lots of locations with no chance to get to know them were just a few reasons I disliked The Last Jedi, and unfortunately Solo has similar issues.

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I’m a newcomer to Jack Monroe’s work, but I enjoyed this piece on the privilege inherent in going vegan and the damage the so-called “militant vegan” can do for folks who are curious about plant-based eating. While I personally find it very difficult to understand self-professed “animal lovers” who eat meat, and I have a negative gut reaction to someone who eats vegan 90% of the time yet consume the occasional meat or animal product,  I also know that someone eating vegan 90% of the time is someone who is drastically cutting down her consumption of animal products… and isn’t that what we all want? There are entire books to be written on the tired debate about the labels we use and what “plant-based” vs. “vegan” means and whether a “part-time vegan” can actually exist (*eye twitch*), but overall I think we need a hefty dose of both pragmatism and empathy in this movement. Jack’s piece speaks to that need.

Small bites: to watch

The Office, as usual! I just discovered that Michael Scott and I share a birthday. I can’t believe I didn’t realize that until now.

Small bites: to eat

I’m not one to eschew rice for any reason, but I am one to eat cauliflower as often as I can get it! Therefore, this cauliflower rice kitchari from Minimalist Baker sounds excessively tempting.

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Spoiler: We’re cooking through Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro for our June cookbook challenge, and yesterday I put together a seitan, avocado, cucumber, and tomato salad that was shockingly filling — and tasty. Our first recipe from the book was less successful, so I was glad the salad was satisfying!

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I am (quite literally) salivating at this strawberry margarita pie, featuring cashews and lots of coconut. The perfect summer dessert?!

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Aaand that’s all I’ve got for you today. Let me know if you’ve read/watched/eaten anything of note lately!

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Small-Bite Sundays: January 7, 2018

Small-Bite Sundays -- winter

Hello, friends! I’m dusting off the Small-Bite Sundays series after letting it fall by the wayside during Vegan MoFo and the holiday madness. I’ve also given it a mini makeover, with more winter-appropriate images. Winter weekends are particularly appropriate for snuggling and reading, watching, and eating, aren’t they?

Neil nose

How has your 2018 been thus far? Frankly, ours has been a little rough. My Grammy was hospitalized for a few days; luckily they think it was just an extreme bout of vertigo and she’s been discharged. But it’s difficult being hundreds of miles from family when these kinds of things happen. Closer to home, we lost a member of our extended canine family — Neil, who was essentially our nephew-dog. Our friends Beth and Derek raised him after his mom was hit by a car, so he was quite literally their baby. Neil was a near-daily part of my own life for about three years when Beth worked with me; we both brought our dogs into the office and had all sorts of routines for them, mostly treat-based. Puppy Playtime was a crucial part of every day, and in later years we would throw handfuls of Cheerios on the ground and stand back as Moria and Neil snuffled them all up like tiny vacuum cleaners. Neil had an outsized personality for such a little guy, and there’s a rat terrier-dachshund-shaped hole in all our hearts right about now. I haven’t done him justice with this brief mention, but his story isn’t mine to tell, and quite frankly I’m still in shock that I’ll never get another extremely thorough — and extremely wet — hand-cleaning from this loud, opinionated, ridiculous, and loving doggo’s long Doxie tongue.

So, 2018. Time to pick up, y’hear? No more of this. Only smooth sailing ahead.

On that forward-looking note, I’ve been musing about the future of the blog. As you’ll read in this post, I have still not recovered my cooking mojo. While I have prepared sweets and savories for various holiday gatherings, the nightly meal is still exclusively Steven’s to prepare, and he’s been shouldering the task with admirable fortitude. (He’s even continuing to do most of the cleaning, which is an unexpected and lovely bonus.) The other night, however, I decided I wanted some nacho sauce to accompany a bag of tortilla chips we’d brought home from a gathering. I pulled up a recipe for that ubiquitous vegan cheesy sauce, the kind based on boiled potatoes, carrots, and cashews. I didn’t follow it to the letter, not bothering with measurements or anything finicky or fussy. And yet this relatively simple preparation left me irritated and quite glad I’m no longer the one in charge of our meals. I guess I’m not ready for a return to the kitchen just yet.

So, in the months to come, I’ll be sharing fewer original recipes and more general lifestyle-related content. Frankly, that’s where the blog has been headed for a while. There are thousands of fantastic recipe developers out there, and I will gladly leave the original recipe creation to them. It’s never been my passion, especially in the past few years. These days, I get more excited about finding amazing vegan food while traveling, about helping others discover that a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to be a challenge, and about sharing tips for making that lifestyle as fulfilling and fun as it can be. I hope you’ll still read along as I make this shift, and I welcome ideas for topics you’d like to see covered.

And now, on to this week’s small bites.

Small bites to read, winter edition

Jenny Marie’s tips for easy, sustainable, and inclusive veganism had me nodding my head nonstop as I read. This is an all-around inspiring read for new vegans and old-timers alike. She’s pegged it to Veganuary, which isn’t as much of a trend here in the States as it is in the UK, but it’s also more broadly applicable for the new year. I think it’s beneficial to sit back every so often and evaluate whether you’re aligning your animal ethics with the larger social justice movement, and Jenny’s post is a great reminder to do just that. The piece also includes plenty of practical knowledge, including tips on dining in public, transitioning to cruelty-free and vegan household products, and more.

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This is an older read, and probably most relevant for those of us in the U.S., but I wanted to share it because it articulated something that had been bothering me. In essence, this piece reminds us to be careful and considered in our language — especially when we use the term “pedophile” to describe a man who had a known history of pursuing younger (much younger) women. He’s pretty darn disgusting, but not a pedophile, and calling him one is simplistic and problematic. (Folks outside the States, this is related to Roy Moore, a nasty senate candidate in Alabama who was widely predicted to win despite a consistent stream of allegations that he pursued and may have molested girls/women as young as 14. He lost in an upset, but no thanks to white voters. 63% of white women voters preferred this pathetic creep, whereas 98% of black women voters threw their support behind Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate. There is a freaking LOT to unpack in this senate race, but I’m digressing.)

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I quite enjoyed Gigi Griffis’ summary of how she and her partner chose their travel destinations for 2017 and how those places did or didn’t live up to expectations. Gigi is a travel-independent writer and blogger who brings her dog Luna (!) everywhere, and her slow-travel lifestyle is quite appealing. (How could you NOT want to spend a month in the Slovenian Alps?!) I probably read more travel blogs than food blogs these days, and Gigi’s down-to-earth approach always appeals. I appreciated this behind-the-scenes look at her past year.

Small bites to watch, winter edition

As usual, this is the shortest of my small bites sections! Steven and I just started the third season of Broadchurch. We loved the first season, would rather forget the second, and so far are enjoying the third. This one seems a return to the mood and style of the first season, and I’m down for the slow-burn pacing and clever way the original characters are finding their way into this new storyline. Crossing my fingers the rest of this season is as strong as the first couple episodes! (And yes, I know it aired last spring; we’re behind the times.)

Small bites to eat, winter edition

Last night a fair few of my local friends got together for a belated friend gift exchange, which we morphed into a bit of an Irish funeral for Neil. Our friend Rachel made the hot caramelized onion-bacon dip that’s become a staple at all our gatherings, so I wanted to contribute something a little healthier. I brought along this buffalo chickpea dip and it was a smash hit. It’s a lighter take on a super rich and super creamy version another friend brought to our holiday party; this one relies on an ingenious hummus base and incorporates vegan mozz to temper the buffalo kick. I negated the healthiness somewhat by adding about 1/4 cup Earth Balance — I wanted to elevate it from a hot hummus dip into something a bit creamier. I might tinker with this recipe further and share my own version down the line, because it was a winner.

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Minimalist Baker's ramenWe had Minimalist Baker’s ramen for dinner this past Friday, and holy smokes. I was blown away. The flavors are incredible! Steven rocked this recipe, using Better Than Bouillon’s No-Beef bouillon as the broth base and layering it with lots of umami flavors. Topped with miso-glazed baby carrots, baby bok choy, and tofu, this ramen currently sits atop my Best Eats of 2018 list… a list I literally just invented and that, let’s be honest, is quite short at this point. But that’s not to diminish the deliciousness of this recipe, because it is delicious! Make it!

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Another Steven production, this artichoke and red bean étouffée from Meet the Shannons hit the spot during a painfully cold week. Super flavorful and packed full of veggies, this recipe also yielded quite a lot. More leftovers for me!

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Phew. That’s about it for now. I’ll be back later this week with a long-overdue roundup of my brief sojourn in Rotterdam last year. Happy second week of 2018, y’all.

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Lazy Sunday I: Protein-Heavy Recipes You Should Totally Make

LVV MoFo 2014 main

Sunday, Sunday. Before we switch gears tomorrow and start talking about iron, let’s take a swing around the internet to find some protein-laden recipes to fill your tummies.

And that’s just the tip of the protein iceberg. Check out my food-related Pinterest boards for lots of other ideas, and remember: you can find protein in the most unlikely sources, not just tofu! Vegetables and legumes are treasure troves of protein. If you’ve learned anything from my week of protein-y recipes, let it be that little nugget of info.

What are your favorite protein-heavy recipes?