Monday, September 27, 2010

Having a Cow!

The Wild Cow, that is. Oh my goodness, what a place. I'm not sure if they have specials every night, but Monday is burgers and beers for $10!

Although I didn't get a burger, they looked amazing. Made from a homemade black-bean recipe, you can get your burger:

*Muppet style - with sauerkraut and green goddess dressing
*Picnic Style - with BBQ sauce and fresh mango cole slaw
*Animal Style - grilled onions, spicy mustard & thousand island dressing

And then select from one of their high-alcohol, organic beers.

They also have cider and wine, both organic and, I believe, gluten free.

All this to tell you, I opted for sweet potato tacos. This wonderful mess included mango salsa and tomatillo salsa. I added vegan cheddar to mine. And the side of spiced beans had this amazing smokey taste.

The restaurant is located in this cool little East Nashville neighborhood, surrounded by progressive, eco-friendly architecture, and historic preservation. Love the combo!

To wrap up my delightful meal I knocked back 1/2 a chocolate lavender cupcake. This is something I'll get right one when I'm back home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saving Lives - It's in our bones

Do I look nervous? I was. This picture was taken September 10, 2010, at Northwestern Hospital, as I am about to have a massive amount of blood taken for testing. For those who don't know, I am terribly phobic of blood coming out of me (yes, I have a couple additional phobias to keep this one company). After about 30 seconds of the needle going in, I become ghostly-white, pass out, and wake about a minute later.

True to form, I did faint, but luckly had already been set up in a comfy bed, and simply blacked out for a short moment before coming back, and the entire process was wrapping up. No big deal AND I got a, I say!

So, why? Well, I started thinking a while back: I do not have a baby, and am not sure if that's in the cards of me, however, I do have a deep need to create life. The next best thing would be to save life. Perhaps a little less heroic than it sounds, donating my bone marrow and/or stem cells is what I have chosen to do.

I do not yet know if I have a match, but if that does happen you can be certain I will document the entire process (but I promise not to do this in massive e-mails to my entire address book). If you have donated, or know someone who has, I'd love to hear all about it.

The more I learn, the more I wonder why everyone who can donate doesn't. Other than a little uncomfortbleness, I've heard NO horror stories, and I'm actually really excited.

The National Marrow Site has all kinds of information and resources. I found it to be incredibly helpful in my decision making. And the good that can be done with such a small proceedure is just amazing!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Sweetest Thing!

Life is ever-changing, but sometimes changes are bigger than others. When changes are flying at you at warp speed, even when they're "good" changes, it's nice to have comforting reminders of what's important and what's real.

Saturday I teach a yoga class in the near-west suburbs of Chicago. It was stormy and chilly on my drive home. As soon as I walked in my building my door man presented me with a plastic grocery bag. I couldn't imagine what was inside.

Once I came inside my condo I opened the bag to find a plethora of fresh vegetables from the Green Market. My sweet friend, Valentina, had gone through the market earlier and not only did she share her treasures with me, but she washed everything, shucked the corn, and cut up the watermelon and placed it in a container. I was so happy I almost cried.

So, tonight I'm chopping eggplant, onions, garlic, zucchini and peppers to make a ratatouille. Tomorrow I'll make a spinach and orange salad, and before it's all over I'll dust the yellow squash with cornmeal and fry it to eat with my favorite vegan ranch dressing.

Late summer vegetables have the most intense, wonderful flavors. I highly encourage you to make soups to freeze as well as berries. You can also buy up basil really cheaply, so making and freezing pesto is the best drizzled on a pizza or pasta around December.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Truffled White Bean Spread

One of my favorite cookbook authors of all time is Rozanne Gold. She has written a collection of really amazing cookbooks that require only 3 ingredients (not including salt, pepper and water). Over the years I’ve purchased every single book from her collection and even though they are not specifically vegetarian, many of the recipes are either vegetarian or can easily be modified.

I’ve taken one of my favorite party dip recipes from Rozanne and modified it slightly to put my own spin on the situation. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

White Bean Spread

1 16. oz. can white beans
1.5 Tbsp. white truffle oil
¼ c. heavy cream (I used the same amount of coconut cream)
3 whole pita pockets, sliced into 1/8 wedges and separated
2 Tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Toss pita wedges in olive oil in a small bowl, then sprinkle with salt and spread out on a cookie sheet. Toast pita crisp until…well, crisp! Then let cool.

Drain the can of white beans, but reserve 1 Tbsp. of the juice. Put the beans in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and add the reserved juice as you need it, or a bit of water. Add cream and 1 Tbsp. of the truffle oil. Continue processing then scrape into a bowl. Add salt to taste then swirl in remaining truffle oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serve this yummy dip like you would hummus. It’s also really yummy as a sandwich filler.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Indian Summer

I just returned from New Orleans, and once again, I had a wonderful vegetarian meal at Iris. The location is fantastic and the craft-cocktails divine. I'm trying to re-create some of the really simple, yet totally wonderful items I had for my 3-course tasting menu. It isn't on the menu, but just ask sweetly, or better yet, when you make your reservation mention you would like the vegetarian tasting menu.

Cream corn & Butter Bean SoupServes 6-8

4-6 ears of fresh corn, scraped from the cob and milk saved
1 lb. dried butter beans (I mixed plain and speckled) soaked overnight
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. Earth Balance
2 cups vegetable broth
salt and hot sauce to taste
white pepper

How this could be any simpler, I have no idea. I soaked the beans overnight, then rinsed and drained them. I sauteed the onion in the Earth Balance until transparent, then added the beans. I cooked these on medium heat for about 30 minutes then simmered for another hour.

When the beans were almost tender I added the corn, with the milk and cooked for another 30 minutes then seasoned. This was/is a totally amazing soup.

Tomato Coulis with Fried Polenta and Grilled Summer Squash
serves 6

So these are items you may have in abundance, if you're a gardener. Or you can buy them inexpensively at your local farmer's market. I actually saw a sign this morning at my market for "ugly tomatoes/ $1.50 per basket," and snatched them right up.

2 gloves garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tomatoes, diced
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1/8 cup fresh basil

Heat a pan over medium heat, add the oil and then the garlic and shallots. When garlic and shallot are soft add the tomato. Turn the heat down and simmer until liquid starts to evaporate and thicken. Tear basil and add to tomatoes about 5 minutes before taking off the heat.

1 cup polenta, prepare per instructions
salt and crushed pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Spread cooked polenta on cookie sheet and cool until set. Slice into wedges. Head skillet and add olive oil. Fry wedges to polenta until brown on the outside. This should probably be done with 3 slices at a time.

4 summer squash
Olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice squash into long, 1/8" strips. Wipe oil on a broiler pan or a grill. Lay out squash slices and grill or broil until browned. Paint olive oil on tops and flip. Sprinkle with a bit of salt.

To serve, put tomato mixture on plate, with wedge of polenta atop, then drape squash slices over. Delicious!

Baby Bok Choy with Nicoise Vinaigrette
serves 6

12 baby bok choy, sliced in half
1/2 cup of nicoise olives from the olive bar, with yummy oil
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

Make sure when you get the olives you include some of the spiced oil from the crock. You'll need at least a few tablespoons. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the packing oil. Let heat then add bok choy and saute until tender. I cooked about 7 minutes on the first side, then flipped and added another tablespoon of oil. After about 2 minutes I added the vinegar and finely diced olives.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Out With the Old....

I loved the analogy my Sweet Inspiration, Kimberly Wilson, used last year for her autumn inspirational call. She likened the trees shedding their leaves to shedding non-essentials in your life. This could mean relationships, tasks, material possessions. We think of autumn as a time to prepare for the cold months ahead (at least we do in Chicago), and to this end I'm very excited about the September Vegan Kick-Start. It's a great time for those of us who might have either been lead astray around outdoor BBQs, summer cheese and wine parties, or that irresistible hot dog at a baseball game. No need to fret, just start anew!

The website gives nutritional tips, recipes, meal plans and loads of celebrity inspiration. And, they offer a great community forum for added support. I participated in the spring, and encouraged all my friends and family to join. I know of 4 people who were not even flirting with vegetarianism before, but now proudly call themselves vegan! It really is easier and more delicious than you might think.

And for those who are just looking for a little "detox" from the meat word, I encourage you to join me for the 21-day program.

For those who are already on board, please share this site with your network. This program is such a great resource.