Monday, October 10, 2011

30-Day Challenge: first eight

I have made it safely to the new digs! Unpacked and doing the new commute and all that entails. I’m taking at least the first part of this photo challenge as a way to share what’s been going on. These are iPhone photos, so not doing too much to improve my photography skills just yet.

1. Self-portrait – I did not realize until I started how self-focused this little challenge was. One Saturday, October 1, I was driving myself and two of my cats 564 miles. Here you can see my boy cat, Twinkie, laying on my leg in complete terror. And shedding.


2. What you wore today – I was moving. I almost thought I had no photos from this day, until I remembered Alex wanted to do some stunts in the moving truck and he took a few photos of me, too.



I totally could have played monkey bars on the sides of the truck and had a cooler photo. Ugh, too late.

3. Clouds. Skip! Sorry, no clouds and nothing interesting about that.

4. Something green. This house is surrounded by evergreens. We’ve had some great weather and the cats are enjoying the open windows with new sights and smells.


5. From a high angle: My cat, stressed-out a few days ago, has now made his home in the strawberry shortcake bed.


6. From a low angle: on the floor of our living room, toward the kitchen and back door. Twinkie can’t resist me on the floor.


7. Fruit: I have been eating a lotta bananas lately, taking one to work each day. Plus you can see how white our new kitchen is.


8. A bad habit. Wow, here’s a prompt! This is a photo from a our first day at the house – our landlord left a bottle of wine in a clean fridge. Win win!


Well, folks, I am settled in, but still getting used to the new routine. More to come!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The one with no food photos

I have two full days left in Cincinnati. I had to keep reducing that number as this draft grew older and older.

I can’t believe this past month has completely slipped away. It’s been fun, but I think I wore myself out. I came down with a cold (and I never get sick!). Let’s look back at some of what I’ve been doing, and see if we can figure out who gave me the germs.

Task One: Spend local Groupons

This treated me to another visit at Poco a Poco (not quite as impressive as the first time, but good), a pottery class, and an afternoon bike rental.

It’s entirely likely I got the bug at the pottery place. I had a Groupon for two open-wheel sessions at Funke Fired Arts. Now, anyone who’s tried pottery knows that you can’t master the wheel in two sessions. Instead, the instructors guided each student to create at least one piece to take home. As in, my hands on the clay and the instructor’s hands on mine. Not as sexy as Ghost, though. And although I rinsed my hands thoroughly to clean off the clay, there was no soap until I got home.

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Last Saturday, we had gorgeous weather. This was perfect for taking a ride along the Loveland Bike Trail. Along the trail, we saw two turkeys (incredible!), a deer, and a beaver. And squirrels, including one suicidal squirrels that froze just in front of my wheel. Alex and I went from Loveland to Morrow (about 12 miles each way) on the “coaster” bikes. I was getting a little tired after mile 19, but I didn’t think anything of it (even went to Oktoberfest that night), but I woke up around 3 a.m. with my knees in excruciating pain. I was a real grump, but after a couple of days, I am happy to tell you I’ve made a full recovery.


Alex with his coaster bike (pedal backwards to brake!), the trail, a view of the Little Miami we rode along the whole way. What a great day.

Task Two: Everything else, in no particular order

The following morning, I woke up bright and early (yes, after the 3 a.m. pain) to make one last trip to Hanover College. I advise a group of students there, and although they’re not as snot-nosed as elementary kids, I can’t help but think my comprised immune system might have picked up something from them. Plus it was a dreary, rainy day.

Since I’ve written, last meals include: Loving Hut, Shanghai Mama’s, Allyn’s, Melt (for brunch), and Green Papaya. No food photos – I ordered my favorite stand-by at each.


Me at the Loving Hut, at our table right in front of the strange little fountain full of figurines. If you think you have misophonia, like me, it’s tough to eat by the gurgling fountain. Or anywhere else, really.

Freezer clean out includes: frozen tofu, edamame, artichokes, homemade waffles, Five Star Foodies burgers, chickpeas, flour, and various Trader Joes’s fruit floes.

Packing is in full force. Also, I think I may stop blogging so much about food. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel healthy, and I’ve learned so much (why I started in the first place). I enjoy eating and trying new recipes -- after all this eating out it was refreshing to make dinner Sunday night! -- but for October I’m taking part in Our Wired Lives 30 Day Photography Challenge. I may be a few days late getting starting while I wait on my internet installation, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eating through the Freezer

I’ve learned a lot of things since I’ve taken cooking and what we eat more seriously. One is, cooking dried beans is easy and way better than canned. And, more notably, beans are really good in tofu scramble. So, I made Mexican-style tofu scramble.


So in my efforts to eat everything in my freezer, I had a bag of cooked kidney beans. Not my favorite beans (sorry!), but still not something I wanted to throw out. I also had some frozen potato cubes, hash browns, whatever they may be called. Those are no problem to eat up, but made a good side.

I threw sauteed green bell pepper and onion in with the taters and topped them with salsa. I seasoned the tofu with spices like your grocer’s packet of taco seasoning. And I tossed in the kidney beans, some corn, and cilantro and green onion. Yum-and-yum.

The best part about this was that by adding so much stuff into the scramble, I had lots of leftovers. So, this morning I enjoyed a breakfast burrito.

What’s left in the freezer? I’m not ready to think about it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Roll City

I made a list of places in Cincinnati I want to visit again before we leave. We’re working our way through. Some of them – like Bangkok Bistro – I think I’ll be okay not coming back to. I can’t quite say why. Others – like Suzie Wong's – might be on our “last week in the Nati” list. We went again last week, and it just can’t be the last time, can it?

Saturday for lunch, we headed over to Saigon Café. This place just opened a few months ago, and we’ve already been about four times, and it looks like we might be back at least once more.

It’s funny, though, because every time has been different. On each of our previous visits, we’ve gotten two different entrees and shared both. This time, we both went for the bun. The first time it came with no roll, the second and third time it came with a crispy spring roll. 

Expecting our meals to come with fried rolls, we each ordered a summer roll as a starter. On the menu, they were listed as one roll for $2.50. So we ordered two. Turns out, there was some confusion somewhere – and we got two each.


Our bun vegetable came with a cold summer roll. This was a  surprise, even to our server, but not really a disappointment (even though I prefer the crispy roll). Thankfully there were plenty of crispy tofu strips.


And so marks the day of the summer roll. If you were counting, that was six rolls in total.

If you’re not familiar, this dish is made with cold rice noodles, fresh vegetables (lettuce, carrots, and bean sprouts here – sometimes you’ll get lots more veg, like cucumbers and daikon), shredded tofu, and peanuts. Toss this all together with sauce* and it’s a delicious, hearty lunch that isn’t too heavy. This will leave you fueled and ready for a nice walk on the first beautiful day in a week. 

One thing I’ll miss about my current neighborhood is how walkable it is. I’m checking out for my new address (63), but I think it’s a little misleading because of all the traffic we’ll face in the big city. Turns out Saigon Café didn’t make it on our current walkscore (72) because it’s more than a mile away. I mapped it on the walk back, still walkable.

How’s your neighborhood for getting around?


*Check to see if the dressing has fish sauce. I didn’t want to pollute the spring roll focus with fish sauce scares, but I know someone will think I don’t care if I don’t mention it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Local Goods

The best things in Cincinnati: Grippo’s potato chips, LaRosa’s pizza, and Gold Star Chili. That is, if you were born here.


For the purposes of the goodie box, I expanded my definition of local. Too bad I couldn’t include some of my favorite things, like the finally veganized Belgian waffles (apparently out of production!), or un-shippable frozen treats like Five Star Foodies burgers or PhroZen ice cream, or something made by Fab Ferments.


Here’s what the lucky winner got. The rest of you, if you choose to accept, will get to see my final days in Cincinnati as I do my best to enjoy everything I can until I leave.


You see, the Gold Star has made an appearance! I actually ate it, once. Also included is Bourbon Barrel Foods worcestershire sauce, Kentucky bourbon barrel ale, and my favorite ketchup, which is actually from Indiana. I will be bringing several bottles of that with me when I move, and I might just have to try to make my own ketchup if I run out.


I’ll leave you with something possibly symbolic: the Phillies beat the Reds for four games straight. We went to one, and it was slow and boring. The best part, though, was being able to park (for free) on the street a few blocks away, being given free tickets by a nice guy who had extras (I totally thought they were fake, but no), and, after deciding to leave early, being able to drive home in 10 minutes and watch the end of the game on television. For a minute, it looked like Cincinnati was coming back, but in the end, Philadelphia won.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rejected Giveaway Ideas

I tossed around a few different ideas for my first giveaway. I could have taken advantage of an email offer I got about this, that, or the other. Or, now that I’m actually in pantry clearing mode, I could have offered up two cans of pumpkin. You know in a month or two people will be talking about hoarding them and buying the stores out!

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Look – it’s best by July 27, 2013! Don’t worry, I made Pumpkin Curry and used up both cans last night. (Confusing recipe, but really tasty – made with lentils, onion, and coconut! I just still can’t figure out how much water to use once you “add remaining water” – but it worked.)

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One idea that I almost used – a cookbook giveaway. I have a feeling that there might be people out there who would enjoy one of my cookbooks more than I do. Now, I’m not naming names, but there might be one or two that didn’t live up to the hype. Then I remembered how much respect I have for my readers… and so I passed on that one. I took it a step further and considered letting the winner choose a cookbook, and then I’d buy two copies – one for you and one for me. But that just felt like I wasn’t actually doing the work.

In the end, I decided it might be fun to share some local peculiarities. So, congrats to …


Isobelle of VGANJAR! Number one won! I need to shop for one perishable item once I hear from you, and then off in the mail it goes!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Burning Questions–Answered!

I know I’ve left some loose ends hanging out there recently. I can imagine that the most pressing question is: “what was in that package from the ever-elusive Shenandoah Vegan?” Next could be, am I moving? Did I get the job? Was a giveaway an empty promise? Read on, friends.


Do you know what this is? I received two packages of Hard Times Chili. Evidently Hard Times serves up Cincinnati chili in the DC metro area. I’m actually really glad I got two, because I kinda messed up the directions on the first one. Still turned out yummy, though.

See, I tossed in all my veggies at the beginning rather than at the end. I added jalapeno, mushrooms, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onion. No matter, though I did wonder why I was putting dry roasted peanuts in to simmer with the chili mix, which is TVP with seasonings.


I really was trying to follow the instructions. I served this over spaghetti, as instructed, with Daiya and separately-cooked kidney beans. I used green onions instead of raw yellow onions, just trying to use what I had in the fridge. This is some tasty chili mix! Thanks again, Shen!


In personal news, it is official – I got the job! Although we were considering leaving Cincinnati since last March, to be closer to family, Alex wasn’t actually sold on the idea of going back to Philly until I locked down the job. Now, he’s telling everyone we’re doing it for my sake. Y’all know better, right? We visited earlier this week and got a place in the ‘burbs. We’ll see how it goes.

Just to refresh your memory, or to let you know, Alex is from Philly. I am not. We met there and came out the Cincy together 3.5 years ago. I have been telecommuting to my job back in the area, and with this new job, it will be a help to be back near the office and go in every once in a while. (Same company, so I can keep the shirts, mugs, pens, tote bags…) Truth is, we both have sort-of reasons for going back. Time will tell whether those sort-of reasons turn into enough reason to stay.

Okay, personal interlude over. Did someone say giveaway? Alex has volunteered his time. He says that anything that happens is “between two consenting adults.” His enthusiasm for this is a little disturbing to me. So, sorry gals, you’ll have to contact him directly for that prize. Instead, I’m going with the Cincy locals package. The lucky winner will receive a goodie box of vegan treats straight from the Porkopolis.

If you’d like to win, just let me know in the comments. Sorry, no bonus points for Tweeting, facebooking, blah blah blah… let’s keep this low-key. My sparse posting might disappoint new readers. BUT---anyone who will help with the move will get their own box, plus the traditional pizza and beer. Message me for details. I’ll let random choose the winner next Sunday night. Good luck!