Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chocolate Oat Balls

I’ve probably mentioned a time or two that I don’t typically do desserts, but Alex really likes his sweets. So I decided to do something nice for him and make some sweets. That, and he washed my car. What can I say, I’ve been enjoying them too. I’m even having one now to refresh my memory and give a proper account of them. For you.

I love oatmeal desserts, much more than I love actual oatmeal. So I started with a recipe for Maple Nut Oaties from Heather Eats Almond Butter. Except I used a lot more oats. They were just too sticky and wouldn’t ball up properly, so I kept adding oats.

This recipe was really easy, and the most difficult part was balling them up. That, however, gave me ample opportunity to eat sweetened raw oats from my fingers. You do bake these little balls. There’s only so much uncooked oats a girl can stomach.


Oat Balls made with chocolate, peanut butter, walnuts, and shredded coconut

It’s funny how we’ll take a recipe and change it up, but then keep other aspects of it. Like rolling these little guys into balls because that’s what the original says to do, but then changing the ingredients and the name. I did that because the chocolate is pretty dominant here. I cut the amount of maple syrup and used some brown rice syrup, so the chocolate was the star (like in any proper dessert).

I’m not a great baker, probably because I have little patience for precise measurements, so the beauty of these oaties is that you can mix in whatever you want as long as they roll back together. You can take a look at Heather’s original recipe or at what I did, or even try your own. Let me tell you, if you think cookies are fun, these little balls are way funner.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Seitan Sandwiches

I feel like a real vegan cook now. Forget the quinoa salads, the tofu tacos, the frozen banana soft serve. It’s not the Tofutti cuties, flax eggs, or tempeh bacon. It’s only now that I’ve completed the initiation rite. Yes, folks, I have made homemade seitan that tastes good.

I’ve tried before and failed. I’ve failed so badly that I’m not going to link back. I’ve failed so many times that Alex has just encouraged me to keep purchasing the West Soy boxed stuff from the grocery store rather that put myself through the torture of making it at home. I’ve tried several recipes and it never quite came out right. I knew that the next time I tried, I needed a better recipe. I had my eye on the Post Punk Kitchen.

It’s probably been more than eight months since my last failure, and in the meantime I purchased Veganomicon, so I figured the baked Seitan Cutlets recipe would be just as good, and that’s what I used. I made six delicious seitan cutlets and used three of them for the Vietnamese Seitan Baguette with Savory Broth Dip from the same cookbook. It was heavenly.


The seitan is baked in broth, and then that broth is reserved and flavored with more garlic, ginger, and 5-spice, making a delicious dip along the lines of a the French Dip sandwich. The sandwich is built with seitan, cucumber, red onion, and cilantro.

030 Yes, that’s a lot of broth!

I can’t believe how much time and wheat gluten I wasted on bad seitan. Maybe I should blame myself instead of the recipes, but I had success. Eventually.

Okay, now that I’m an official member, what can I do next?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pizza & Beer

I had a great weekend. I hope everyone else did, too! I had two of my favorite things: pizza and beer.

This weekend was the Brew Ha Ha beer and comedy festival. We went last year and sampled some great beer, but the comedy was awful. This year, we enjoyed a few good acts and more great beer.

Dewey’s inside Newport on the Levee

Before the beer, we went to a pizza place we’ve been to many times before, Dewey’s. There are Dewey’s locations throughout Cincinnati, and they make a great pizza. When you walk in, you can see right into the kitchen where workers are hand-tossing the crusts and piling on the toppings. They have a menu filled with cleverly-named pies, but they’re also very accommodating to build-your-own pizzas and special orders.

One great thing about Dewey’s is the usually attentive service, and for people who like to guzzle sodas along with pizza, there’s something really neat that happens at Dewey’s: any server walking by can refill your glass and know exactly what you’re drinking based on a straw color system. Genius! I don’t drink much soda, but this is a remarkable system. For instance, they can tell if you’re drinking Diet Coke (clear straw, lemon), Coke (clear straw), or root beer (red straw), or Dr. Pepper (black straw). I don’t mean to give away their secret, but this means that if you want Diet, you better keep your lemon in place. This is also how they could tell that I was drinking water, not Sprite.

Alex and I got a half-and-half, half Green Lantern and have Killer Veggie. I got my half with no cheese and it was delicious, topped with their spicy tomato sauce, black olives, mushrooms, onion, green bell pepper, and then raw tomato and parsley after the bake. This is a delicious pizza, and the Dewey’s crust is the best, it’s so chewy and soft that the ends are just as good as the topped parts. They could consider selling these as breadsticks. They do have really good salads as starters, though.

After pizza, we headed across the Purple People Bridge by foot, back to Ohio, for the beer festival. Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the city’s namesake, greeted us.

At the Brew Ha Ha we purchased several tickets that we redeemed for sample beers in little cups. I love this because I love trying different beers, and although I rarely meet a beer I don’t like, it’s nice to try a variety. I recently watched Beer Wars and learned a little bit about craft brewers and big money, lobbying, and advertising in beer. My favorite scene was the non-scientific study at a bar asking people to distinguish Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light. Of the ones they showed, nobody could pick their proclaimed favorite.

I was on the lookout for a smoked beer after learning about them from Bianca at Vegan Crunk. I tried the Z-Lager from Fort Collins Brewing Company and it was good and unlike anything I’d had before. The malt is smoked and it gave a smoky flavor to the drink that was pleasant and strange. Not the kind of thing I’d want a lot of, but now I’ll be open to trying a smoked beer if I come across one again.

I was in a sampling mood, and looking back over the list it’s hard to say which I’d want in a full serving. Alex’s favorite was the New Holland Dragon’s Milk, which smelled like whisky to me and was very, very strong. My favorite might be a toss-up between Founders Red Rye PA and Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale. Who am I kidding – I’m not one to play favorites. I worry that if I did, I might be asked to select it in a blind taste test for some documentary.


The night concluded in grand fashion with fireworks from the Reds game, which interrupted the headliner Bobcat Goldthwait. I’d never heard of him, so that night was my introduction to several new things. I enjoyed watching the fireworks show from Sawyer Point, though, much more than in the stadium bowl where all the smoke settles.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tomatillo Soup

Anybody out there know what to do with tomatillos besides make salsa verde?


I didn’t, so I searched the web. I learned that they’re sometimes called husk tomatoes, and that they are usually sticky under the green husks. I’m glad I read this, because I’ve been having some quality problems with my “Farm Fresh” Delivery. That’s sad, but at least I know when I’ve got a bad apple. I don’t know that I could tell a bad tomatillo unless it was really bad.

I found a recipe for Corn & Tomatillo Soup on the Center for Disease Control website, of all places. Evidently they’re trying to encourage us to eat more fruits and vegetables. To control disease, of course. This should really be called Corn, Green Pea, and Tomatillo Soup, because it gets a lot of its body from green peas. I checked a few other soup recipes, too, and they all seem to be variations of the same thing. Yes, they all include peas.


I pureed the tomatillos, onion, peas, and jalapeno, but I left the corn whole and threw in cilantro at the end. The recipe calls for spinach, but I figured they were just trying to throw in all the green vegetables they could, so I left that out.

This soup was good. I’ll admit I was kind of surprised because I had no idea what to expect. I used corn stock for my broth, so this soup was sweet from the green peas and corn, and the tomatillos have a tart, almost lemony, flavor. This is another good summer soup that tastes really good when it’s slightly warmed, not hot.

Are there foods you’ve never cooked? How do you approach a new ingredient?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spaghetti Squash and Balsamic-Grilled Vegetables

I don’t participate in a CSA (community supported agriculture), but I do have a bin of produce delivered nearly every week. Much of the selection is local, but from a variety of farms, and it’s either local or organic. Often both, or at least no-spray. I go back and forth on whether I like this better than shopping the farmer's market. I do both.

That’s not really my point. My point is that I was too busy lately to remember to customize my bin. This means instead of selecting what I want to be delivered, I got the standard order. This means I have several items I wouldn’t have chosen for myself: “no-heat” jalapenos, a spaghetti squash, and tomatillos.

Let’s start with the easy one, the spaghetti squash. It turned out pretty good, and yes, it shreds to look like spaghetti noodles. What’s your favorite way to eat this squash, if you’ve had it before? My first try was good, but I’d be willing to experiment if I get one again.


I steamed it, I guess, in the microwave (yes, I used a microwave), and then shredded it and finished it in a skillet with a little olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil. The squash was so mild in flavor (or maybe the microwave zapped out the flavor as well as the nutrients?) that it mostly tasted like the basil. I liked it, though. We both ate a good bit of these squash noodles and have both enjoyed leftovers since this meal.

I had originally planned to roast my squash along with some other vegetables in the oven, but it was just too hot to turn it on. Instead, I grilled green beans, red onion, broccoli, eggplant, and corn. I finally got a tray to make it easier for me to grill the smaller vegetables. Before, I’d used foil. Besides the drawback of being disposable, it didn’t really work that well.


I made a quick marinade of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic. I should have used a blender on this; instead, I have little flecks of garlic falling through the grill. See my effort to place a few pieces atop the eggplant? I saw Rose’s post too late and her interesting photograph down the blender. Next time, next time. Maybe I can also do skewers like she does. I’m also taking notes from Diana with her balsamic roasted vegetables, especially the eggplant. I can’t wait to try her barbecue balsamic roasted eggplant next time.


Alex ate half of one piece of eggplant and saved the rest for me. Sweetheart.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Restaurant: Myra’s Dionysus

I’ve been to Myra’s Dionysus twice recently, and so I have photos from two wonderful meals to share with you. This is one of the restaurants I went to soon after moving to Cincinnati because it comes up quickly on a Google search for vegetarian food, but it’s become a quick favorite.


Myra’s is in Clifton, near the University of Cincinnati. They’ve been celebrating their 30th anniversary for three years, 1977 – 2007. The menu has an introduction to the restaurant written by Myra herself and it highlights some of the interesting things about the place. For instance, it’s mainly Greek foods, but it’s not limited to a specific theme. And there are eight soups every day. Any many people – not just professional chefs – are trained to cook the menu items.

They have a small dining room and a small outdoor patio. When Alex and I went, we sat out back and enjoyed a leisurely dinner and a glass of wine. Yes, they serve beer and wine. And it’s just as reasonably priced as the food.


The food is inexpensive and the portions are reasonable, so you can get a soup and and a sandwich or a salad and an entree without being overloaded. On this trip, I ordered a plate that is half hummus, half tabouli, and it was delicious, served with a couple of olives, lots of fresh ripe tomatoes, and plenty of wheat pita. This crazy tablecloth may actually be an original from 1977, and that’s okay by me.

054 Half hummus, half tabouli, $4.00

Alex and I did share this, but I ate most of it because he got his own salad, I think. He also ordered what they call the PC burger, but I only got one blurry photo of it. That’s one of several vegetarian but not vegan choices. He’s becoming a connoisseur of veggie burgers and he really enjoyed it. I got a falafel salad, which was dressed with a lemon tahini dressing and it was absolutely delicious. It looks simple, and it is, but I’ve stopped making fried falafel at home because it’s just too much trouble to use that much oil and then clean up.

058 Falafel salad, $5.50

I would also like to clarify that although these look like they might be disposable plates, they’re not. No waste here.

On my next, most recent visit, we sat inside. You can see directly into the kitchen both from some of the tables and right as you enter the restaurant. Either inside or outdoors, this is one of those places that just makes me feel comfortable being there. Also note the changing list of available soups – there are also knitted hats along the entryway representing the various soups. They’re all described in the menu and the vegan ones are clearly identified.


This trip was after my delightful wheatberry salad from Third Avenue Cafe, so when I saw they were featuring a wheatberry salad with black eyed peas, I couldn’t resist. You know I love black eyed peas. This salad also includes dried cranberries, onion, garlic, mint, and the lemon tahini dressing. This was good, but the onion and garlic were rough on my breath!

019 Wheatberry and black eyed pea salad, $3.00

I also selected the baked tofu sandwich, which intrigued me because it was described as being marinated in kecap manis and lime, which is a sort of sweet soy sauce usually found in Indonesian food. It was a thick sauce, but the portion was perfect to flavor the tofu. Again, it looks simple, and it was, but the taste was great.


Marinated tofu sandwich, $5.50

My friends enjoyed their dishes, too, including potato soup, a cheese pita, and a gyro. One of my friends is only employed part-time and asked that we try to keep dinner cheap. Myra’s really fit the bill, but we didn’t compromise on taste at all, and we all had pages and pages of choices. I’ll have to see where we’ll go next and if it does as good a job at pleasing us all.

Myra's Dionysus on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A lazy Sunday, well deserved (I think!)

I hope everyone is enjoying a lovely weekend. I can’t believe it’s already Sunday afternoon, so I want to make this quick and enjoy the rest of a lazy day. 

I spent all of yesterday working to clean up and paint some boarded-up, abandoned buildings. The “after” shot reminds me a theater set.

The reason I wanted to share this, besides me thinking it’s pretty cool, is that I’ve noticed a difference between the way the friends I volunteer with and other people deal with the way I eat. I see a lot of folks writing or talking about how they get grilled or chided for what they do (or don’t) eat, and I rarely experience that. I’m thankful.

At the end of last week, I got together with some old college friends for dinner. I chose the restaurant. We all had a great meal (more on that coming soon) but one of these girls started questioning me about my nutrition. I giggled to myself, thinking how lucky I am that a girl I’ve seen maybe five times in the last ten years is so concerned about me. And I resisted the urge to question her about her nutrition from her meat and bread sandwich. She even requested they leave off the tomatoes.

That’s such a big contrast to my friends, family, and Alex. New people I meet don’t bother to ask why I brought a sandwich when there was free Papa John’s. We’ve talked about it once, and that was enough. Plus, after we cleaned up, we went to Findlay Market’s Biergarten and there were party trays with snacks. I enjoyed something no one else wanted to try – pickled Brussels sprouts!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home-style Vegetables and Useless Kitchen Gadgets

Do you find yourself hungry for familiar flavors? I love trying new things, but there are some old standbys that I keep coming back to. I recently tried to choose a favorite recipe to submit to a contest and asked Alex what he thought might do well. He suggested chili, pot pie, and lasagne. All of that is stuff we’ve made dozens of times and all of those are variations of meals I grew up eating.

One thing I love in the summer is making fresh vegetables the way we would when I was growing up, with the slight variation of leaving out the animal fat flavoring. I haven’t missed it, and Alex doesn’t know any better. I told his mom that I’d never had crisp green beans before I had hers.

038 Yes, my plate is very, very full. I can’t get enough of this!

My plate is a little starch-heavy, but I had some potatoes I wanted to use up and the corn and squash looked really, really good. Plus, I couldn’t find any fresh beans I liked. Instead, I went with collards to get some more green on the plate.

I cooked the squash up like my mom does, although I didn’t get it quite as browned as she does. Maybe when I get older, I’ll have more patience for browning squash. It’s sliced and steamed along with a sweet onion, then mashed and pan-fried with some Earth Balance. This is the star of the plate for Alex.

I’ve made the smothered okra before. This time, Alex tried it, but he left most of it for me! I just can’t get over how sweet these fresh tomatoes taste when they’re cooked down, even when I don’t add any sugar.

I made the creamed corn by using the most pointless kitchen device, the corn zipper, to remove the kernels from two cobs of corn. Then I cooked them with some Earth Balance and soy milk.


I think I remember buying the corn zipper because it’s cute. It has a smiley face on it. It takes off two rows of kernels at a time. That is a lot of work! I can understand why I forgot about this little device when I was making my roasted tomato and corn soup and removing the kernels with a knife!

Me, smiling with the corn zipper.

Alex doesn’t quite get as excited as I do about this kind of supper, but he enjoys it. He tells me that he never had greens before he met me, but he likes them now.

Another meal I loved growing up was called Beanie Burger Biscuit Pie. Maybe this was an early sign of my annoying love of alliteration, or maybe it was a sign of my early love of beans. My mom, who is an awesome cook, doesn’t like that I remember that as the highlight of my childhood, but maybe that’s just what kids do. I think I’ll try to make my own Beanie Burger Biscuit Pie.

How about you – what are your favorite food memories? Do you still enjoy them?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lentil and Garbanzo Soup


After my trip, the last thing I wanted to do was eat out or eat tofu. I was ready for a lighter home-cooked meal, and I’d seen several photos of lentil soup. Maybe this is one of those times when whatever I’m looking for becomes more apparent. Either way, I was ready for some lentils.

I used a recipe from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker using ingredients I had on hand, including lentils, garbanzo beans, carrots, onion, ginger, and tomatoes. This soup was thin and chunky and perfect to enjoy on the patio. I don’t know how it is where you are, but it’s cooler here and we’ve been keeping the windows open. I have spent so much time recently sweating in the summer heat and then freezing in overly air conditioned buildings, it’s a nice change.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The food post, aka Tofu Overload 2010

Yes, as you’ve guessed, much of Kentucky isn’t exactly veg friendly. We just spent one night there.

Friday night, we went to a favorite restaurant in Cincinnati, Honey, which has a few vegetarian selections and at least one vegan dish. I selected the basil-crusted tofu, which is served in two big hunks (I recently tried that at home) over super-long string beans and some sort of orange “root vegetable” puree, maybe sweet potatoes or carrots or both. The menu is vague, and I didn’t ask, although I should start to get more comfortable with that.


I also like the fries – they mix Yukon, Idaho, and sweet potatoes and the fries are so thin and tasty. I also enjoyed a local brew from Rivertown Brewing Company.

Saturday, we packed up and I brought lots of fruit, nuts, and some Larabars. For lunch, though, we have a favorite restaurant in Louisville, Third Avenue Cafe. We got an appetizer of fried portabella strips, which certainly makes for more food than we needed but they’re just so good, we couldn’t resist, especially since we don’t get out there enough…

Each of the three times we’ve been, Alex has gotten the Reuben. It’s made with tempeh, and he loves it. He convinced his mom to try it, too – this is her plate with a side of (vegan) basil potato salad. It’s so cool that the side choices are vegan, also including a vegan cole slaw and a vegan soup choice every day. This time I noticed they printed new menus and no longer have the typo on potato chips. The first time we were there, Alex ordered potato chops.

2010-08-16101 Top left, the inside of the black bean and tofu burrito; top right, the wheatberry soybean salad and the untouched burrito; bottom left, the veggie Reuben with vegan basil potato salad; bottom left, portabella strips.

I tried a new dish – I’ve gotten the barbecued tofu sandwich, their black bean burger, and this time I went with the black bean and tofu burrito. My side, though, was the star of the show. I chose the wheatberry soybean salad, which was sweet and crunchy with celery and apples along with the soybeans and wheatberry. I can’t quite place the dressing, but it was light and fresh. I can’t wait to try to make this at home.

The burrito was good, and the tofu was spicy. They melted two slices of Tofutti cheese on top. I think I’d prefer that just be omitted, but this was still a good choice. I’m ready to continue my sampling of the whole menu, and I’m confident I’ll find more favorites.

For dinner Saturday, we were deep in central Kentucky. The man at our B&B told us about the nicest restaurant in town and their awesome salad bar. Instead, we opted for Mexican. I got the veggie fajitas. At first, this sizzling pile of veggies looked like a lot of food, but without eating any sides, it was just enough food. I washed it down with a Negra Modelo.

111 Veggie fajitas, including broccoli, yellow squash, onion, tomato, green and red bell peppers, and a few precious mushrooms.

I didn’t get a photo of Sunday’s breakfast. I mentioned we were staying in a B&B, so they provided breakfast. They made me a tomato sandwich along with potatoes and fruit. Yum! I love cooked tomatoes. Other guests were taking photos, though, so I wish I’d brought my camera down for breakfast. I also didn’t get photos of lunch, which was at a Cosi in Lexington. Alex loves Cosi, and back in my pregan days I loved their TBM melt and signature salad. They still have a delicious hummus sandwich stuffed with veggies, and I bet their TBM melt would be delicious minus the Mozzarella. On second thought, that might not be too tasty. Oh well.

Sunday night, we went to Indigo back home in Cincinnati. I chose the roasted red pepper pasta and added portabella mushrooms. This is a heaping helping of pasta, half of which is sitting in my fridge as we speak.


Wonder why there’s a weird red glow across my plate? We sat on the patio and were unfortunately close to the red neon light advertising the restaurant.


Monday morning, we had a leisurely brunch at home including tofu scramble and vegan pancakes. Alex is an expert pancake flipper. I had mine with pecans in the pancake and banana and blueberries on top, along with some maple syrup.


We had a late lunch at Melt before heading to the airport. It felt like we came full circle as Melt is just down the street from Honey. I tried something new and completed my tofu overload with the Rothko (I am a big fan of Mark, but I’m not sure if this is named for him). I chose the “halvsie” and got half sandwich and half white bean soup.


The Rothko was an interesting sandwich, made with tofu, peanut butter, red bell peppers, ginger hoisin dressing, salad greens, and alfalfa sprouts. This was good. The various ingredients intrigued me, and I can’t say that I expected anything other than the extreme tastes I received. This was most like a peanut butter sandwich, and my favorite bites were those with lots of red bell pepper. The pepper was raw, which is among my favorite ways to enjoy bell pepper. Crunchy, sweet, and juicy.

There you have it; a long post of what I ate during my short excursion. I’ve wanted to do at least a day of showing exactly what I eat after I heard a story on the book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets on NPR. I may still do that at some point, but for now this shall suffice.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Animal Post

I am back home after a jaunt through Kentucky with Alex and his mother. We had a great time, some good meals, and toured a Shaker Village, Churchill Downs, and Woodford Reserve Distillery. We also chilled out and relaxed at a bed and breakfast and hung out with some animals. In going through my photos, almost all of them were of the animals.

We saw alpacas and llamas,


082 076 … lots of horses,


friendly and curious goats,

018 They couldn’t get over me petting the goats, but they came right up to me. One even wagged his tail when I scratched his back! (Is it ladylike to squat next to a goat while wearing a skirt?)

017 Not a mountain goat, but still a climber. These guys smelled just like goat cheese. Hmm…

024 Alex preferred to pet the cats,


Such a cutie. She was friendlier than my cats at home, she couldn’t get enough attention!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sweet Mochi and Sweet Cat Grass

Tonight, I had leftovers. I resisted the temptation to photograph my plate.

I’m working on cleaning out the fridge because tomorrow afternoon we’re having company for the weekend and will probably eat out a bunch. I’ve offered to cook tomorrow night, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

One thing to mention is that I’ve tried finally mochi. Loved it. I can’t wait to do more with it. Or even do this again.


I used the recipe (instructions, really) from The Kind Diet. Basically you toast it in a pan and serve with some brown rice syrup. This was delicious, and I was worried they didn’t puff up correctly, but either way, I enjoyed it. Chewy and sweet even without the syrup, this stuff is a favorite new find. Alex was afraid to try it, but I got him to try a bite by telling him it’s what his hero, Makoto Nagano, eats for stamina. The package does claim it promotes stamina!

I also gave the cats some grass that I grew for them from a kit I found in a pet store. The littlest cat enjoys this the most. She is very protective and keeps the others away!

022 Yes, it’s on a Simpsons plate. In the Veggie Awards, I voted for Lisa Simpson as the vegetarian I’d most like to see become vegan!

I hope you all have a good Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leftover Coconut Rice and Watermelon Beer

I had lots of leftover coconut rice, so I figured this would be a perfect time to make a stir fry. I was flipping through a new cookbook I purchased, Urban Vegan, and found an oven-baked Thai curry casserole kind of thing and decided to try it. I made a sauce of almond butter, coconut milk, and red curry paste, and poured it over broccoli, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and chickpeas, then baked it.


Not the prettiest dish, but the sauce was good and could be used on a stove top stir fry, too. I think the oven baked portion of this is simply to make this less labor-intensive, which is what I was looking for last night. I was very frustrated after running an errand in a part of town I’d never been to before. I got terribly lost without my phone or GPS. Anyway, I made it home, supper was good, and I’m still exploring as many new recipes as I can so that I come to understand what works, what doesn’t, what I like, and what I don’t like.

It’s a funny coincidence that I linked back to my post on the Chicago Diner yesterday and I see I talked about baseball – the diner is very close to Wrigley Field, so we ate there before a game – and I mentioned the rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Well, these days it looks like the rivalry is heating up between the Cincinnati Reds and the Cardinals, who are battling for first place and had an all-out bench-clearing brawl during the game last night. I still giggle whenever people take the Reds too seriously, but Alex is rooting for the home team. They got beaten by the Cards. Badly. Three times.

One of my favorite summer combinations is peanuts, beer, and baseball, even when I’m watching from home. We picked up some roasted peanuts at the farmers’ market, and like everything else there, these roasted peanuts were fresher and tastier than what we’re used to getting at the grocery store.

051 Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer from the 21st Amendment Brewery

I found the watermelon beer Rose mentioned, and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t looking for it, but it caught my eye on the top shelf at my grocery store and I remembered her post about it. This was good, and certainly watermelon juiced, and completely unlike anything I’ve had before.

Thankfully, beer isn’t the only thing I’ve discovered since I’ve been reading more food blogs. I’ve learned a lot about what foods will be fun to try, what cookbooks to try, and learned a little about the people writing about their lives and food online. It’s been fun. I’ve been vegetarian for more than 10 years, but I’m a new vegan. I’ve actually tried being vegan before but failed miserably because I had no idea what I was doing besides getting really hungry. I’ve mentioned this here and there, but I’m in what I like to think of as a discovery or experimentation phase, and that’s why I don’t often post recipes (because I’m using someone else’s!). Thanks for coming along with me and helping me out with some suggestions in my comments, as well as showing the way in your own blogs.

With that said, thanks to Rose from Dandelion for calling me out for a Happy 101 award! I have been working on how I want to do a blogroll and finally added one to my page that is imported straight from the food folder in my Google Reader. About half of my reader is food related. So if you want to see who I would pass this along to, there’s quite a list there.

So, here are 10 things that make me happy, in case you’re interested. I should mention that it took me a long time to come up with this list. I’m not generally a happy person, so this was probably a good exercise. First, Alex, for being a friend and a sweetheart and eating what I cook and keeping meat out of the house. And for letting me introduce him as my friend instead of admitting he’s my husband. Now that the sappy stuff is out of the way, the rest, in the order I thought of them: the wind in the summer when it feels hot like a hair dryer, when my parents call me, beer & fries, the cute way my cats meow and I see their pink mouths against their black faces, bridges, having a good day at work, writing things by hand, having a short but meaningful conversation with a stranger, and laying down at night especially on clean sheets.

Is anyone else a fan of the heat? I know I talk about not turning on the oven in the summer, but I keep my air conditioning set at 80 and I still like the first blast of heat when I step outside. If only that sweet boy and I could agree to move to a warmer climate…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Horizons at Home

Have you all voted for the VegNews 2010 Veggie Awards yet? I went through all the categories and was really impressed with how much stuff I knew about or have tried – as well as all the awesome stuff I haven’t tried (yet). I’m proud to say Cincinnati’s own Park + Vine is nominated for best storefront. I’ve also tried two of the best restaurant nominees, Chicago Diner and Horizons.

I lived in Philadelphia for several years as a student, and Horizons was a special place I loved to go. After we moved away, Alex gave me a Horizons cookbook. At the time, I scoffed, thinking he was asking me to cook him a Horizons-quality meal. There were also many, many ingredients I wasn’t familiar with. Back then, I cooked much simpler foods, repeated menus a lot, and we also ate out more often. I had less time to cook at home, too, working two jobs, finding my way around a new city, and getting ready for our wedding.

Now, though, I figured it was time to revisit the cookbook. I made oven-roasted tofu with a pesto made of basil, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and macadamia nuts. The tofu is marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and a “Latin” spice blend. I cut the tofu into three large pieces because I like the way it looks. The marinade and pesto are so flavorful that even the middle of the big piece of tofu is seasoned, and it’s nice to have the more bland center bites along with the super-coated edge bites. I also like some crunchy macadamia pieces on top, too. Those beauties aren’t just for show!


For sides, I actually took the recommendations in the cookbook and made coconut rice with brown basmati and a marinated tomato salad. The tomato salad is also from the Horizons cookbook and is a nice twist on the cucumber tomato salad. Actually, the recipe features the cucumbers over the tomatoes, but I switched the ratio because I only like cucumbers a little bit. The salad also includes scallions and basil.


The dressing for this salad is unlike anything I’ve seen before, but it was sweet and delicious. It’s made with carrots! All those little orange bits you see are from the carrots after going through the food processor. Other dressing ingredients include Vegenaise, lots of ginger, some spices and seasonings, and a little water to thin it out. The only vinegar in this dressing is from a teaspoon of ketchup (I used my Local Folks Foods ketchup). I have to say, I prefer this sweet salad to the vinegar-dressed cucumber salad we’ve had several times this summer.

This is a cookbook I’m glad I pulled back out, and I hope to incorporate a meal at Horizons during my next trip back to Philly. But in the meantime, I’ll be trying more of their recipes at home.