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Archive for January, 2010

Irregardless Cafe

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

As promised, some pictures from last night’s dining experience.

We went to The Irregardless Cafe, a small restaurant in Raleigh, NC priding itself on local, fresh food and musical talent.

This evening we were serenaded by the smooth jazz stylings of keyboardist Mike Jones. The volume was just right, and even with several other groups of patrons on all sides, you could still hold a conversation without strain, which is important when you’re catching up with family. :)

The menu was extremely helpful in noting the many vegan and gluten-free options. I’ll let their own descriptions do the talking, with a couple comments. Everything was delicious. I hope you’re able to enjoy it vicariously through this bit of “vegan food porn.”

MIDDLE EASTERN PLATTER – A Middle Eastern appetizer featuring a scoop of hummus, tabouli, and butterbean pâté. Served with grilled pita wedges & pitted kalamata olives.

{We all delighted in the still warm pita bread and the tabouli, which Dad commented seems not as easy to find in the standard grocery stores as it is in the Northeast.}

GRILLED VEGETABLE BIRYANI (vegan, gluten-free) – Grilled portabella mushrooms, zucchini, squash, onion, peppers and asparagus. Served on brown rice with a balsamic reduction.

{Wow! This was my main dish. The mushroom cap had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and was wonderfully meaty. The dish as a whole was rather oily, but the pronounced smoky grilled flavor was amazing. The brown rice was actually more of a pilaf, but quite good and not at all a disappointment.}

SHEPHERD’S PIE (vegan) – Vegetarian casserole layering vegan short crust pastry dough with red bliss mashed potatoes splashed with chop tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and bulgur wheat, sliced pomegranate marinated carrots, sauté sliced cabbage with onions, celery, and fennel, garlic wilted spinach. Baked and served topped with a shitake mushroom miso gravy.

{More of a shepherd’s stack than a pie, this was my Dad’s meal. I tried a bite — very hearty and potato-rich. It was consumed in the blink of an eye. LOL.}

ACORN SQUASH CASSOULET (vegan, gluten-free) – Slow roasted acorn squash stuffed with a melange of roasted fall vegetables, served on a bed of black turtle beans spiced with cumin, roasted red beets, & tomatoes/white navy beans spiced with grilled pineapple, roasted gold beets, & carrots. Served with fresh roasted corn/green pea/red bell pepper salsa.

{My brother-in-law had this. Probably the biggest dish of the evening. It looked like something I’d make at home. My sister had a seafood risotto primavera, gluten-free, but decidedly not vegan.}

APPLE AND RASPBERRY CRISP (vegan)

{My choice of dessert, the only vegan one on offer. Served rather hot, I had to let it cool a bit first. While not really that crispy, it was yummy and not too guilty a treat. The strawberry garnish won the berry battle as far as flavor was concerned, the raspberries having completely melted into the apples, mostly just contributing some color. A black coffee or two was the perfect finish.}

Healthy Travel: Packing Tips

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

As you may know from the latest newsletter, I’m doing a little traveling, visiting family and making new friends. Yesterday was the first and longest leg of the trip. I’d planned to break it up, grab a hotel room, and take my time getting to North Carolina where my Dad and sister live. I must have been excited though because I powered through the entire 14 hour drive in one fell swoop! :)

I woke up at 5 AM and hit the road a little after 6 AM. Stopping only for bathroom and stretch breaks every few hours, I just kept driving and driving through torrential downpours* and aching limbs to arrive at my sister’s at 8 PM.

(*)Unfortunately, the NY skyline was obscured by clouds, but the rain finally let up in Baltimore and temperatures even reached a beautiful 67 °F in Virginia.

The morning stretch was fueled by some homemade high-protein, “peanut-butter, chocolate crunch fudge” and a little coffee (not too much though, lest stops be forced more frequently).

(Sorry about the fuzzy picture; I’m not used to the photo editing software on this laptop.) Per usual, this was an unmeasured, in-the-moment creation, but it was delicious, so I’ll be making it again. Next time, I’ll pay more attention and hope to post the recipe in a few weeks.

For the afternoon and evening, I opened up the gallon-sized ziploc bags I’d filled with washed carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage (in large chunks to make for easy finger food), and a huge family-sized tub (supposedly 16 servings, hah!) of roasted red pepper hummus. Aside from the samples I snuck the day before, I ate the whole thing. Some raw veggies remain, however (I basically cleaned out the fridge, so there was plenty with which to scoop out that yummy sustenance).

For the hotel stays, I also packed some non-perishables. I don’t often buy canned veggies, but made an exception this time. All no-salt-added, including adzuki beans, green beans, sweet peas, spinach, potatoes, and tomatoes. And, of course, fruit (apples, bananas, and oranges) as well as some mix-mash trail mix (some cereals, nuts, and dried fruit I had kicking about).

This, my laundry basket, I’ll just keep in the trunk and bring in the next meal’s worth. Funny thing is, I remembered the hot top, but forget a pan. No biggie, all the canned goods are edible without heating, if I don’t pick one up somewhere.

Anyway, I hope these give you some ideas for your next trip. I find it a fun challenge packing for travel, living out of your car, and avoiding the high-priced, unhealthy fare that lines America’s highways. I seem to do it differently each time, depending on how much I want to deal with icing a cooler and budgetary constraints. It’s early yet, but so far so good…

That said, I’m at my sister’s now, so we’ll be doing a little dining out with her hubby and our Dad. Planning to bring the digital camera.

Vegan Done Light Forum

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Woohoo!

It’s official, the new Vegan Done Light forums are OPEN!

Come join the fun!

New Year’s Day 2010

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Well, it happened… I missed it. The clock swung swiftly, silently, past the midnight hour, and where was I? Some deep crevice in the soft, pink, tissue of my brain, fast asleep, probably dreaming in the night’s first REM sleep.

Alas, the alarm I’d set upon making the decision to “rest my eyes” for a bit, failed to go off. Or, perhaps, it did go off for a while, and I processed it as an air raid siren or a video game? Who knows? But, next thing I did know was the clock read 1:14 AM (or some such).

So, I “celebrated” on Mountain time this year, which just meant watching replays of the already toasted public gatherings and fireworks and ball droppings. Speaking of which, anyone know if they reached the anticipated million people mark in New York’s Times Square?

As for New Year’s Day itself, I was much more prepared, if still a little tired, as I set out for Mom’s. Inspired by the Kashi-black bean mix of Christmas, I opted for a more loaf like consistency by swapping in split peas instead of beans. The peas melted into a smooth, cohesive and flavorful filling for the gaps between the chewy grains, and it all firmed up beautifully in the fridge.

We spent a relaxing and carefree day, chatting, putting together a bit of assemble-it-yourself furniture, and playing pool with my step-dad. Lunch was skipped and dinner pushed up to 3:30′ish.

While the main course of the day’s traditional German meal is off limits, Mom kept some sauerkraut and potatoes out of the crockpot for me, and, naturally, the peas — representing wealth in the coming year — were never destined for the slow cooker. (Add to them, all the split peas in my loaf, and it should be a good year, right? ;) )

Was quitting smoking one of your New Year’s resolutions? Have you tried hypnosis?


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