Beans!

I bought about 20 lbs of beans at a little market in California. They’re all beans I’d never heard of like Black Valentine.
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Or Snowcap.
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So far, I’ve cooked Hutterite Soup, Tiger Eye, and Flor de Mayo beans. The Hutterite is a very light white bean. It has a delicate skin so a good amount of it breaks up in the soup and makes it creamy. The Flor de Mayo has the thickest skin of the three. Almost like kidney beans. The Tiger Eye is good for it’s chewy starchy texture. Almost like a waxy New England potato. I love that sort of texture.
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Chaia

I met a friend for lunch at Chaia in Georgetown. It’s a little taco shop that sells vegetarian food. The nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which is kind of fun to go to sometimes. It’s all fancy and whatnot. The not nice thing is, it’s in Georgetown which means it’s expensive and it was. Their tacos are tiny. I’ve said this before, getting full off plants requires bigger food portions. Plants are mostly low calorie density foods. Volume is necessary. I think I probably already eat bigger portions than many anyway. At least by my and many of my friends observations. I eat a lot of food to feel satiated. So $15 for lunch that felt more like a mini snack doesn’t make me want to go back. I hate leaving a meal feeling hungry and unsatisfied, regardless of price point. If you serve it up, call it a meal, it had better fill me up. Plus, I hate vegan food that’s poorly designed. Aside from the too small portions, it was basically mushrooms in a tiny corn tortilla. Zucchini in a corn tortilla. Where are my pulses? Where’s the protein? Where are the greens? And I don’t mean a few sprouts for garnish. No wonder omni’s think vegans are weird and starving. If I had that regularly, I would be! So yeah, I haven’t been eating out much lately and it’s because there’s not much out there. Portions are too small (regardless of price point). Macros are wrong. Some are chock full of processed nonsense (what the hell is chick’n?!). Eating out for me is a way to get meals that I can’t get at home. Lately, every time I eat out, I leave thinking I make better. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to my own food. And it’s just as well. The reason why a lot of restaurant food tastes better is because it’s full of salt, oil, and sugar. And while I enjoy the dishes in the moment, they make me feel like shit afterwards. And I’m usually still hungry. Actually, one little side bonus of not eating out as frequently, it’s a moneysaver. $120 per week to feed two people, which is actually probably on the high side, but if I’m not eating out, I splurge on whatever I want at the produce aisle.

So in short, I left hungry and dissatisfied and don’t plan on going back.

Not my day

Today was mostly okay until I went to go catch a bus for an appointment. (Metro is doing track work and telling everybody to stay home, go on vacay, or find another mode of transportation, which is usually unheard of since they’re hurtin’ for money, but I’m glad they’re finally giving metro’s infrastructure the much needed attention). The first bus came and drove right by me (why do they do that?!!). And in the 10 minutes I stood to wait for the next bus (thankfully it was just 10 or so mins), mosquitoes attacked me. I was bit probably close to 10 times. The saving grace, there was a torrential downpour (the kind that flip umbrellas inside out) just as I hopped onto the next bus, and by the time I got to where I was going, the rain had stopped. So maybe missing that first bus was a blessing in disguise a la that movie, Sliding Doors (where Gwyneth Paltrow misses a train in one universe and catches it in another and her life is totally different because of that train.) Not that my life was so altered. I don’t think anyway. I guess I’ll never know since I didn’t catch that bus. At any rate, I imagine I would have had to get off the bus right in the middle of the pouring rain and I would have waited at the bus shelter until the storm ebbed and not gotten attacked by the hungry mosquitoes. No biggie. Anyway, I came home and had a bowl of rice and miso paste to feel better. It’s my new favorite food lately. I wrap it in nori. It’s like omusubi without the effort of turning it into a triangle. I feel better now.

Ramen Side-by-Side

Last year, I went with my friend to Hanabi and I can only describe her reaction as thoroughly disappointed.  She said I had to try the vegetable ramen at Daikaya. She said it would knock my socks off.

We finally went to Daikaya a few weeks ago and I don’t know if it’s because of the monster appetite I’d worked up earlier from the gym (See?  I DO use my leggings!!  What’s another piddley lil pair of Girlfriend Collective leggings?), but that bowl of ramen knocked my socks clear off.
Here is a picture of it for your viewing pleasure. Well, really for mine because I relive the moment of slurping the rich hot soup.
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I think I know why she likes it better. Daikaya stir fries their vegetables in a searing hot wok to give it a greasy smokey flavor. The soup is really rich too.

The following week, I went back to Hanabi to give it another go. It’s still as oishi as I remembered. Their soup isn’t as greasy and the vegetables are cooked in hot water so they’re blander.
Vegetable Ramen from Hanabi
Of the two, I think I slightly prefer Hanabi.

One of my biggest gripes about ramen (eating out in general) is everything is too dang salty. What is wrong with the chefs in this town? They burn their tastebuds off or something? They add more and more salt!! Hanabi’s ramen is still salty but the salt and grease is much less overpowering. Yes, salt and grease = big flavor but I’d still like to taste the vegetables and ingredients.

Overall I’d eat at either place anytime.

“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.