Wednesday, December 19, 2007

She's ba-ack!

From where is she back? From vacation! I took a lovely 7 work days off, covering 2 weekends in the process, for a total of 11 blissful days of vacation. I didn't travel, I just took 11 days to unwind, take a break, relax, and have fun. If you're ever in the position to take advantage of such an opportunity, I highly recommend it. I felt so relaxed and happy during this time off without obligations and it's so rare to be afforded that kind of luxury in today's fast-paced world.

I've been keeping up with your blogs and now I'll fill you in on some of what I've eaten over the last week and a half. Unfortunately, I didn't take photos, so you'll have to take my word for it!

On December 8, I attended a PPK potluck in Burbank with the beautiful and multi-talented ladies from To Live and Eat in L.A. and Your Vegan Mom (and Your Vegan Mom's husband). Hosted by Hannah, for whom I don't have a link, the potluck was a really nice way to meet like-minded people and enjoy good food. I decided this would be a great time for me to share the vegan butterscotch chips that Hannah sent me (I can't find her original post about these super-sweet chips), so I baked the Chocolate Brownies from The Joy of Vegan Baking, subbing butterscotch chips for the chocolate chips and nuts. The recipe instructions indicate when to remove the brownies from the oven for a fudgy texture, so I did just that. Unfortunately, these brownies were a complete disaster. They never set up except for the edges and the only way I can think to describe them is similar to English sticky toffee pudding, which I've never tried, but I think might possibly have a similar texture to these "brownies." They were just complete mush and I'm certain it has nothing to do with the addition of the butterscotch chips. I followed the instructions to a T and measured correctly and I know I'm not the only one who's had problems with this cookbook, so I'll let you be the judge. I might be returning this book. All I'll say is that I was not a happy girl upon realizing that I was either going to have to quickly whip together a new potluck dish, stop at Trader Joe's on the way to the party, or show up empty handed. In a mad frenzy, I made the Brown Rice Krispy Treats from Simple Treats because they were fast, easy, and I had all the ingredients. They didn't hold together at all, but they tasted good and were better than the disaster that called itself brownies. Other potluck dishes that evening were To Live and Eat in L.A.'s fabulous BBQ tempeh with sweet potatoes and fennel (delicious), Your Vegan Mom's yummy "meat"balls (these were so good), jackfruit tacos, soyrizo tamales, adorable little olive appetizers that were crafted to look like penguins, and a bunch of other things I can't remember because the event was a week and a half ago. It was a very nice evening and I had a great time!

I have to send a big "shame on you" to my local Whole Foods for the poor excuse for a hot food bar I found last week. I can't remember which day I decided to have lunch there, but I do remember that it was cold and I was looking forward to soup. It was about 1:30 p.m. They had a vegan lentil soup that day, but the pot was empty to the point that I couldn't even get any of the remaining soup into the ladle. I asked someone behind the counter to please replenish it and then waited for her to do so. I saw her pull out the soups and then I waited some more. I was waiting a good 15 minutes before she finally told me it would be another 30 minutes until the soup would be ready. Mind you, she said nothing about a wait time when I first politely asked her to refill the soup. She just let me wait around. When she broke the news to me, I decided to choose something else from the hot food bar. Well, guess what...nothing vegan was in supply except for Spanish rice and stuffed grape leaves (well, there was hummus, but it tasted gross and was crusted over). So, that's what I ate for lunch: Spanish rice (good) and 2 stuffed grape leaves (good, but a little too oily). I could have made a salad, but it was so cold that I needed to eat something hot. For shame, Whole Foods!

Now for the good news! I ate dinner at Follow Your Heart again on Sunday. This time, I tried the Braised Tofu Soft Tacos, which are served with Spanish rice, black beans, and a cabbage salad. This is an enormous plate of food and very messy. I was not able to pick up the tacos at all, so I ate the filling with my fork and ate the tortillas separately. Despite the mess, the tacos were very good...dense, chewy tofu, melted Follow Your Heart cheese, tomatoes (yes, I did eat them, but they were semi-cooked), and lettuce...yum! It also comes with a cup of soup, so I chose "chicken" fajita soup, which was delicious! The broth was spicy and hearty, the "chicken" had a great texture even if the chunks were too big, and the veggies were perfect. Follow Your Heart offers about 5 fresh soups daily, most of which are vegan (2 usually contain dairy). Their soups are creative, healthy, and always tasty.

Finally, I did cook something on December 11th for a special someone. I made my favorite stir-fry, which is an adaptation of an old Cooking Light recipe that someone gave me years ago. It's usually Broccoli-Tofu Stir-Fry (to which I add shiitake mushrooms and water chestnuts), but this time, I made it with broccoli, asparagus, sliced cremini mushrooms, and tofu. The sauce is mainly sesame oil, soy sauce, seasoned rice wine vinegar, and cornstarch to thicken it. Served over brown rice, this was a delicious meal and definitely omni-approved! I got a LOT of compliments for this meal. :)

My apologies for the long post and my thanks for reading it! Oh, and thank you for empathizing over the Cheesecake Factory debacle!

8 comments:

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Your vacation certainly sounds delicious :o)

Vegan_Noodle said...

Bummer about the brownies!! I've made a few recipes from that book, the two I have liked were the pumpkin and chocolate cheesecakes (many non-vegans were fooled). I made the cinnamon rolls which were really good, but the instructions told me to bake the on a cookie sheet. I should have use better judgement, the rolls sprung open and all the fillin spilled out (all over my oven nonetheless). Luckily I was able to salvage them by putting them into a pyrex and topping them with the spilt filling. Long story....

Anyhow, a week off at home sounds fabulous!! There are so many things I wish I had time to do around the house and never get to it. Glad you enjoyed your downtime. The potluck sounds like so much fun!

Foodeater said...

Welcome back! I could sure use a nice vacation myself...

You know, I realized after the party that I never even got a chance to try your krispy treats. Oh well, I guess you'll have to make me a new dessert to try next time I see you :)

Vegyogini said...

Oh, Foodeater, I promise that I'm truly a very good baker. It's the perfectionist in me! I'll definitely bake you something that actually shows my skills next time! I'm glad you didn't try the less-than-perfect krispy treats so you have a blank slate when you try my real baked goods! ;)

Thanks for the comments, ChocolateCoveredVegan and Vegan Noodle! I appreciate your input on the cookbook, too. :)

VeggieGirl said...

welcome back!! oh no, I'm sorry about the brownies!! I'm sure your next batch will be perfect :0) and wow, you've certainly had a lot going on!! I've always wanted to go to the FYH restaurant...

Candi said...

Hope you had a great vacation!

Too bad about the brownies. :( Such tragedy in this house to not have a good brownie recipe! I've ruined a lot of them with the "egg replacer" which seems to be an on and off kind of thing for me!

Hmm, your tacos sound good with tofu!! Thanks for the tip on the Morningstar crumbles you use for tacos at home. I will try them and also try tofu! Wow, that version sounds so good!

VeggieGirl said...

my latest blog post made me think of you and where you recently had to dine - check it out :0)

trina said...

How nice to have a week off! Welcome back!