“Rice”

Just about the weirdest allergy I have is rice. I’ve eaten it all my life and will continue to eat it. Even though it’s like giving milk to a lactose intolerant. I call it jet fuel. Not sure about the people around me, but mostly I don’t mind it. I’m so used to it because I’ve been eating it all my life and dealing with the consequences. In fact, I thought everyone bloated after eating. But now that I know the cause I do try to limit it. Granted when I’m traveling and Chinese is the only option I have, well, let’s just say I could start a forest fire with my ass.

That’s the long way of saying this is how I came up with my new “rice” which is quinoa, cauliflower, lentils, and oatmeal. It cooks up like a gloopy blob of “rice” and I can have it with just about anything I would have with rice.

Pickled Onions

I have been making this regularly for the past few months. It makes an easy vegetable side dish that goes with everything savory. Noodles, rice, tofu, avocado toast.

Chop up a bag of red onions.
pickled onions

Boil salt, sugar and water. Let it cool. Add apple cider vinegar to the brine. Pour it over the sliced onions. Refrigerate for a couple of days and it’s ready to eat. I keep two jars going all the time. The brine is re-useable, but I top off with more brine each time because I use the brine in salad dressings and for avocado toast.

If I had to guess amounts, maybe 2 tablespoons of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 3 cups of water. And a half cup of ACV. I could be totally off here. Just experiment.

TSwizzle’s Launchpad

It’s not like I HAD to go to Nashville to be in the solar eclipse’s path of totality.  But that the path drifted through Nashville was a sign I wasn’t about to ignore. And lo, it happened. She started announcing her new album on eclipse day. We are kindred spirits.  We understand each other.
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Nashville, though it be what I consider to be deep south, is not at all how I imagined deep south to be (gun totin’ bible thumpin’, secessionists).  I was wrong.  Nashville is retirement-worthy, an honor I don’t hand out easily; it follows Hawaii.

It is a trendy place.  Fancy.  Gentrified.  What was that word some real estate articles like to throw around?  Tony?  Yeah, Nashville is a tony town. The people are glamorous.  It felt wealthy.  Coming home after hanging out in Berkeley or NYC makes me feel like our hood is so nice and clean. But after Nashville, I felt like I was coming home to a dump.  Isn’t it odd, the higher the cost of living, the dumpier the place? Something for me to keep in mind for the future. Maybe it’s the rising tide effect. Wealthier places have a higher gini coefficient probably.

Also, Nashville is hands down a better food city than DC.  We dined twice at Little Octopus where they served the most creative dishes.

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This is a cucumber watermelon salad made with chili, lime, peanuts, and mint. We came here two nights in a row.

Another delicious place we stumbled on is The Grilled Cheeserie.
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Tomato soup, grilled cheeses, and tater tots. All of this is plant-based! So addictively delicious!

And if you’re into music, you’re surrounded. We didn’t even have to try to see a show. One night, we stopped by a bar after dinner and they had a jazz/bluesy singer performing.
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Another night, we walked through Broadway and there were live shows all up and down the street. They all sounded record-contract worthy to me. I have even more respect for her skills after seeing Nashville. That TS was plucked from all of these gifted artists speaks to her level of talent. She’s the real deal.

So I wanted to walk where she probably has walked many times over.
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To her collaborating song-writer, Liz Rose’s studio on Music Row (which looks like a street of single family homes). They wrote Teardrops On My Guitar, Fearless, You Belong With Me, and All Too Well together, amongst others.

And of course, her own record label’s office, just a few doors down.
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Big Machine Records. Totally unmarked, it looked like somebody’s home so, feeling intrusive and rude for loitering about, I quickly took a picture and left. Being there made my heart flutter.

But we weren’t done fluttering my heart.
This is the Adelicia.
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Unless she’s since sold it, this was the first place she bought and the first night she spent alone in her own place inspired the song Never Grow Up.

The real star of the show for this trip was our star though. The sun! (Sorry, that was cheezy)
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Not a good picture of the total eclipse, but this was a photo of it. Experiencing it was awesome, in the truest meaning of the word. It was humbling. And for a split second before we had to put our eclipse sunglasses back on, the diamond ring was the most beautiful part of the show.
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These are crescent-shaped shadows cast from the trees when the moon was starting to uncover the sun.

Veggie Tofu Scramble

My neighbors moved away. I miss them. During our last get together, they brought over a breakfast ring filled with a veggie tofu scramble. We had it with some coffee. The breakfast ring was so yumm-o! And a fine reminder of the neighbors. Sigh.

Anyway, on with the food.

Any vegetables will do. Just dice them and stir fry them.
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I added carrots, celery, onions(mirepoix!), mushrooms, zucchini, jalapeno, garlic, and frozen corn.

Crumble the tofu over the stir-fried vegetables.

Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and nutritional yeast.
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This would be the filling for the breakfast ring if I got pastry in a can, but the filling alone is delicious.

Broccoli Walnut Stir-Fry

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I’ve been making this for a few weeks now and we still haven’t tired of it. I love the crunchiness of the walnuts and the rich flavor.

  • Broccoli (two or three heads of it)
  • Tempeh
  • Hot sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Walnuts – raw, unroasted
  • cooking oil (optional)

By the way, tempeh is a block of fermented beans and/or grains.
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It’s firm and mostly flavorless so it can take on whatever flavor you put in your dish. I like to cut it up smaller to increase the surface area to suck up the flavor. It will mostly keep its shape because it’s firmer than tofu. Tempeh is optional. The first time I made this, I just had a bunch of broccoli that didn’t fit into the lentil stew I was making. The broccoli was chopped and I didn’t know what to do with it so I stir fried it with walnuts. That’s how I stumbled on this dish. I only started adding tempeh because the next time I was making it, I had a package of tempeh I didn’t know what to do with. This is the unplanned kind of cooking I do. It’s very willy nilly.

Chop up the broccoli and let it cook for a bit first.
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I like to add water to help cook and soften the broccoli because I like my broccoli cooked soft. Oil is optional. Add the hot sauce and soy sauce after the broccoli’s halfway done.

Now add the tempeh to start sucking up the flavor.
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Walnuts need very little cooking time. I add them in, stir it around a bit then turn the heat off to let the residual heat finish it.
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The walnuts really make this dish. They add a rich layer of flavor and crunchy texture. Yum. I like to have this over quinoa or rice or it’s good just by itself too.

Vegan Fare

I tried two new vegan places last month.  One was Fare Well and the other HipCityVeg.  I had tried to go to Fare Well earlier with friends, but given an anticipated 2 hour wait, we went to Union Market instead.  Fare Well turned out to be just okay.  Their food was incredibly salty.  If I ever went back there, (which would be against my recommendation), I’d just get the polenta fries, which, while greasy, were tasty.

HipCityVeg on the other hand, I wanted to go back the next day.  I haven’t yet, but I still think about their chick’n nuggets which taste like how I remember McD’s nuggets. Maybe they figured out what’s in McD’s flavor crystals. Their bella burger was delicious too.  Even better than the nuggets.  None of their stuff tasted overly salty.  Just a well-balanced combination of flavors.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about Mom’s Market’s Naked Lunch counter but it’s worth repeating until I find something better – because they are my favorite vegan food place.  They serve uncomplicated fresh ingredients and they just let the food shine through without being smothered in too much salt, sugar, or grease.  It’s just combinations of good flavors that meld nicely.  And they don’t overdo it with the highly processed fake meat vegan crap which, while they can be tasty (chick’n nuggets for example) I have no idea what the fuck it is.

Omakase at Kobo

I wanted to love this place.  I want to support businesses that acknowledge that it’s important for ethical, environmental, and health reasons to provide vegan options.  Or heck, just plain financial reasons!  But it was good to okay.  Not I-want-to-go-back-take-my-friends spectacular.

The meal started off with a bang.
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These little balls of amazing flavors bursting in your mouth.  Mango with basil sprinkles, strawberry with fennel sprinkles, and lychee with rose sprinkles.  They were fun to eat and tasted true to the flavors.  But this was more dessert than starter to me.

Following on were more littles.  Little bit of tomato tartare.
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A little bowl of tofu with handmade vegan caviar.
A little cone of micro greens.
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None of it was enough, and they knew that, so as the last course, they hit you with a big bowl of gohan.

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That’s rice.  We got a normal full meal sized bowl of rice with bamboo and shiitake.  While good, it really stood out from the rest of the menu which was delicate and bite sized and pretty and then, plop, here’s some rice to fill you up.  Also, the website says it’s a 12-15 course menu, whereas I counted 11 courses, including the welcoming tea and the amuse bouche as two separate courses.

The chef was a great guy.  And he asked us for what we’d recommend to him.
We both told him that even though we probably didn’t need to eat more, and it was probably better we didn’t, we could have had more.

Here’s what I didn’t tell him –
This menu, though vegan, isn’t truly vegan-friendly.  I don’t eat meat but I still need protein.  The menu had plenty of carbs from rice and vegetables but the only protein in the entire menu was a tiny bit of tofu and fungi.  Where’s the natto?  Where are the pulses?  And for a Japanese vegan place, they could have incorporated more varieties of plants.  Lotus root.  Seaweed (there was some but I wouldn’t have minded more).  More tsukemono (pickled things – though there was a very interesting pickled ginger flower). I wanted everything to be something I couldn’t make at home.  This was not the case.  Some things were definitely unique, but it felt like the menu petered out at the end.  Instead of a grand finale that wow’d us, it was a sputter to the finish line.

The service was impeccable.  They were all super duper friendly with zero airs.  No snooty pretentiousness.  We slurped.  We picked up our bowls.  We Kirby’d our food.  We felt completely at ease.  And I was hungry by the time I got home.

Union Market

Earlier this month, we planned to go to a little vegan bakery diner place called Fare Well for brunch.  They didn’t take reservations for weekend brunch and when we got there the wait was 2 hours!  So we trekked it over to Union Market.
Union Market
Union Market is a bustling, crowded indoor market with tons of little food stands. It’s tucked away in a corner of what otherwise would look like a totally sketchballz place. Actually H Street looks like a gentrified former sketchy place. It’s now full of fancypants casual restaurants, yoga studios, and a Whole Foods. On our way to Union Market we even passed by a rental apartment sign. 1 bedroom – 1 den – 1 bath for $2,500!
The food at Union Market all looked tasty but unfortunately the seating is very limited so we ended up eating at a restaurant there called Bidwell. Kinda’ pricey for the stuff they sell, but they have tables and chairs! I probably wouldn’t eat there again but I wouldn’t mind going back to Union Market for some of their other food options. I saw a dosa stand that looked pretty good and there’s good people-watching too. Not a resounding endorsement, but eh, on a day where the weather is nice, and I just want to go outside and be among my brethren, it’s a good option.

The key to good alfredo is pepper! Lots and lots of pepper!

I found a bunch of recipes for vegan alfredo online and mixed them up for this:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1.5 cups of raw cashews, soaked in water for a few hours
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • lemon juice (1 lemon) – I didn’t have this so I substituted with apple cider vinegar, and it was fine.
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper.  One can never have too much pepper in alfredo sauce.

I don’t remember where I got the idea or learned that alfredo requires mucho pepper.  The first time I had it was from a local Kentuckian chain Italian restaurant and a strong pepper flavor stuck out to me.  I know.  Kentucky, Italian.  This was a memorably good alfredo pasta though.  I think I ate an entire family sized bucket of it in a couple of days.  And it was over a decade ago and I still have fond memories of that bucket of pasta.  Who doesn’t enjoy a nice bucket of pasta?

  1. Stir fry the garlic and onions with a bit of salt and oil. Onions and Garlic
  2. Cut up the cauliflower into big chunks and poach it in maybe an inch of water with some seasoning.  I used a vegetable broth powder, but regular salt and pepper is fine.Cauliflower
  3. In a blender, blend the ingredients together.
  4. Cauliflower Alfredo SauceI added more nutritional yeast at the end to have a richer flavor. I also added about a tablespoon of cracked black pepper. I would have added more but my wrists were tired from the grinding.
  5. Simmer the sauce over low heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir the entire time and cover it with a lid.  Keep the lid over the pot as you move a spoon around in there because this thick sauce tends to spurt bubbles all over the place.

I like to serve it over pasta with green peas. It’s rich and creamy without the after effects of eating rich and creamy. I could eat a bucket of this sauce.

Tomato Rice

Picked up this neat trick on YouTube.

Prepare rice like you normally would (in a rice cooker).
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I like to add red lentils in my rice.
Add one whole tomato in the middle.
Add pepper.
Add a drizzle of oil.
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Once cooked, break up the tomato and stir it in the rice. It’s easy and delicious!
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