Monday, March 31, 2008

A First

On the same day that we all went to Cinnamon, Foodeater and I stopped at an Asian market in her neighborhood. You see, I have a huge Asian market/indoor mini-mall less than a mile from my house and I've been too intimidated to go in. Foodeater, being an expert Asian market shopper, volunteered to take me to a smaller market so I wouldn't be intimidated anymore. In case you weren't already aware, Foodeater rocks! We got all sorts of cool stuff and most of it was extremely inexpensive. I bought some sweets, including the delicious mochi pictured above (they had red bean filling, sesame filling, and peanut butter filling, from left to right), some chewy palm seed candies that were like unflavored gummy bears, and soft blocks of paste made up of beans, coconut milk, and sugar. Of course, I bought other wonderful things, like Genmaicha brown rice tea, which has a wonderful smoky brown rice flavor, canned jackfruit, and hot sauce.

Hopefully, I'll buck up and go to the big Asian supermarket soon now that I have my first experience under my belt. :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tag, I'm it!

Kamutflake Girl tagged me for a meme. It's the first time I've ever been tagged to participate in one of these and I must say, first off, that I'm not sure how to pronounce "meme." Does it rhyme with "theme" or is it pronounced like "Me, me, it's all about me!"? Secondly, I have to admit that I'm finding it difficult to narrow this down to 5 random facts about me. I'd almost rather make it a themed meme with 5 random facts about me and music or me and film. However, I will refrain and simply give you the 5 random facts requested. Here goes nothing:

1. I've been singing my entire life. I don't sing professionally, but I would never turn down that opportunity! I'm the girl in the car next to you on the freeway who is singing with all she has on her long commute to and from work. I will sing along with anything, guessing at the lyrics if I don't know them. I've become well known in my circle for singing the wrong lyrics because that's what they sound like to me (I was 20 before I realized that the song was "Rock the Casbah" and not "Dr. Casbah." True story.). However, I don't sing karaoke because I can't help but take performing too seriously and that's not the point of karaoke.

2. I bought myself a guitar and started taking lessons about 13 months ago because I figured it was time to be able to accompany myself while singing. If I had time to practice daily, I'd be seriously rocking by now, but I don't, so progress has been slow. As soon as I can play well, I'll be hitting the stage for open mic nights (or at least torturing, I mean, entertaining my friends and family)!

3. I always have a song running through my mind. I once worked with a temp who knew this and asked me every day what was playing on my personal radio station (he gave it call letters, but since they would reveal my real name, I won't repeat them here). Along with the song in my mind, I easily find songs to associate with random things people say around me or random things that happen around me (case in point, the fact that I can't help but sing Prince's "Raspberry Beret" when I see raspberry sorbet, as I noted in this post).

4. I'm a huge film fan, but a discerning one. I tend to be quite critical, loving mostly classics, independent/art house films, documentaries, and foreign films. My favorite director is Hitchcock, my favorite actress is Audrey Hepburn, my favorite actors are Cary Grant and Johnny Depp. I have a tie for favorite film: Breakfast at Tiffany's and Disney's Beauty and the Beast (this film has some of the most incredibly intelligent song lyrics ever written; watch it again if you don't believe me!).

5. I'm a natural-born editor and am called upon for all editorial duties by my family and friends. I edited my mom's master's thesis, I edit all the copy for my brother's and my mom's businesses, and I've edited countless friends' resumes, among many other things over the years. I'd love to edit books one day, albeit probably on a small scale because all the publishing houses are in New York and I have no intention of moving there.

Ok, I cheated because I packed multiple facts into each of those 5 tidbits. I'm also going to cheat by not tagging anyone specifically since I think almost everyone has been tagged by now. If you haven't, please consider yourself tagged, as I'd love to read more about you! Thanks for including me, Kamutflake Girl! Oh, and I absolutely can't help but sing Tori Amos's "Cornflake Girl" every time I see Kamutflake Girl's name. :)

Friday, March 28, 2008


My two lovely ladies and I went on an adventure to Cinnamon Vegetarian Restaurant in Highland Park, a city within Los Angeles County, the weekend before Easter. Cinnamon specializes in Mexican food and is vegan-friendly.

I'm going to begin with a complaint, but it is the only one I have. Our waiter, who we believed was also the or one of the owners, did not understand us when we asked what was vegan on the menu. There was quite a language barrier, which made it extremely difficult for us to communicate that we needed to know what contained whey and casein. I decided to play it safe and order something that most likely wouldn't have any hidden dairy.

Before I get to my entree, though, let me say that Cinnamon's salsa was possibly the best restaurant salsa I've ever had. I could not get enough of it. We went through two ramekins of salsa, with YVM and I both adding some to our meals in addition to eating it on chips.

I ordered one of the specials, Tofu and Nopales in Red Sauce, for my meal. It was a great way for me to try something new (nopales are a veggie derived from the prickly pear) and I was pretty certain that there wouldn't be any hidden dairy in it. My entree arrived with sides of pinto beans, brown rice, pico de gallo, and a shredded lettuce/cabbage blend. This is the first time I've been served an authentic-looking plate of Mexican food in ages and it thrilled me. I love beans and I ate those first (yes, I eat the components of my meals one at a time). The tofu was firm and perfectly cooked, having soaked up some of the mildly-spicy red sauce while cooking. I really enjoyed the nopales, even though I can't come up with adequate words to describe its flavor. Its texture was similar to well-cooked green bell pepper. The brown rice was plain, so I added some of that great salsa to it.

Cinnamon's decor deserves some recognition. The space is modern and bright with ample room between the tables and fun art on the walls.

The neighborhood is made up of old houses with amazing character. We took a walk (in the rain) for a few blocks and kept pointing out houses that we loved. We've decided that we'll all be neighbors one day, so that means lots of great vegan food! :) Many of the houses reminded me of Boo Radley and needed love, but had great bones.

I'd love to return to Cinnamon and I suggest you go, but it would be worthwhile to call them first to find out exactly what is vegan on the menu.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons

A kind and anonymous donor brought bags of ponderosa and meyer lemons to work and left them in the kitchen a month or so ago. Knowing the people on my floor, I felt comfortable taking three of each and leaving only one of each behind. Believe me, had I not taken them, they would've gone to waste!

I'd never heard of ponderosa lemons, so I researched them and found that they are most likely a lemon and citron hybrid. I wish I'd photographed them because they had wonderful sunset shading, yellow to orange, and a bumpy rind. They were fairly large and smelled like oranges when zested and juiced (they are tart, though, so don't take a sip of the juice like I did!). With the ponderosa lemon juice and zest, I made a double-batch of Alex Jamieson's Orange Date Scones from her wonderful book, The Great American Detox Diet, except that mine were Lemon Raisin Scones. I made a batch of these every week when I was on her detox diet close to 2 years ago. They are so good! This time, I eliminated all of the oil in favor of unsweetened applesauce. They contain walnuts, so the only fat came from the nuts. These scones are more like drop biscuits than the scones that you might find at a chain coffee shop and they are delicious!

There was a little juice remaining from the ponderosa lemons, so I mixed that in with the meyer lemon juice for Eat, Drink & Be Vegan's Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup. I made a few substitutions: 2 cups of celery instead of onion, 1.5 cups of shredded carrots instead of celery, and I eliminated the zucchini or tomato because I didn't have either. What an amazing soup! It had so much flavor and a wonderful texture (a huge thanks to Dreena for reigniting my affection for my immersion blender, which had previously let me down), with the added bonus of being very comforting. I will absolutely be making this soup again.

I had meyer lemon juice and the zest of 3 meyer lemons remaining, so the juice is in the fridge and the zest is in the freezer. I've never frozen citrus zest before, but I figured it was worth a shot. I didn't want it to go to waste, especially because I recently bought myself a Williams-Sonoma microplane grater (mine has a yellow grip) that has changed my zesting world. I used to dread zesting, but not anymore!

Please pardon the wretched photos, as my camera is broken and I'm relying on my camera phone. My birthday is in about 6 weeks, so I'll have to start dropping hints! ;) If anyone has suggestions for a great point-and-shoot camera, please leave a comment.

I'm backlogged, so expect to see a plethora of posts the next week or so. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunergia Soy Feta

I tried these two flavors. Eew. Enough said.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spork Foods!

Just when I thought I couldn't be any luckier with all the vegan options I have in my home community of L.A., Spork Foods comes along to add to my good fortune. I'll let you check out their website for details, but the gist is that two lovely sisters decided they would offer vegan cooking classes out of their L.A.-area home to anyone and everyone willing to pay to experience their expertise.

On February 17, I took my first Spork Foods class, which was centered on vegan protein sources. I'll refer you to Foodeater's post at To Live and Eat in L.A., as she took beautiful photos and already detailed the class contents perfectly. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died the minute I sat on my stool around the counter in the Spork Foods kitchen, so I don't have any to share with you.

I'm signed up to take their Southeast Asian and dessert classes in the coming months, so stay tuned for more Spork goodness! Hopefully, my camera batteries will be less temperamental next time...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Best Laid Plans...

You may recall from
this post two Tuesdays ago that I had prepped the Tangerine Baked Tofu from Veganomicon with the intention of making it the next night for dinner. Of course, I got a call requesting that I substitute teach a yoga class that night and I had a guitar lesson the following night and then it was the weekend. What I'm trying to say is that I didn't actually get to bake that tofu until that Sunday night, meaning that it marinated for five full days. In addition to the extended marinating time, I made the following changes: 1) I used a package of firm tofu that was in the fridge instead of extra-firm; 2) 3 garlic cloves instead of 2; 3) Tangerine and lime zest because I had difficulty getting enough zest from my tangerines; 4) Extra tangerine juice instead of rum because I rarely have alcohol in the house. As you can see in the photo, I packaged my Tangerine Baked Tofu for work lunches this week over a bed of asparagus that I roasted with a little olive oil and lemon pepper.

The tofu has a great texture and I was a little worried about that because I didn't use extra-firm. I was pleased with how well the flavors of the marinade permeated the tofu. It's a fresh, light meal and I would definitely make it again. Another Veganomicon winner!

The Way to My Heart...

I came upon this beautiful, bold, vibrant "vegan" label at Trader Joe's this weekend. Not only is the shelf description clearly marked "vegan," but there is vegan labeling on both the front and back of these tortillas. I was so happy about this discovery that I went up to one of the Trader Joe's employees and eagerly asked him if there would be wonderful vegan labels on all of the vegan Trader Joe's products from now on. Apparently, that's the plan for 2008. Hooray, again, for Trader Joe's!