Monday, September 25, 2006

Jody Returns...

I've been busy at home and work. Sometimes it is difficult to post or even comment on the other blogs. Rest assured, I am checking out other blogs when I have a min, just not writing. I've got plenty to post about.

Let's see, the top 5... I've had quite a difficult time with this. My tastes really change quite often and I love so many different foods. I may have a favorite for a day or two and then move on to something else. A top five is just so difficult to choose. Here goes...

1. Hummus --I might also say falafel, hummus and tabbouleh. It is great as wrap or sandwich, but even mixing it together creates a wonderful fusion of tastes and textures.

2. Dark chocolate --Two I'd recommend: New Tree: Sexy which is made with ginger or Dagoba Xocolatl which has cacao nibs, chilies, and nutmeg. Of course, I love plain dark chocolate too.

3. Loose leaf tea --I'm lucky enough to have a local tea shop close to my house. The owner orders many teas and makes her own flavors as well. A few of my favorites: Russian Caravan which is smoked over pine fires, gun powder green tea, jasmine pearls, or plain old earl grey.

4. Fresh berries --Freshly picked strawberries have to be one of the sweetest most delicious foods on the planet. Though depending on the day, I might say the same about raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Tommy would always pick blueberries.

5. Seitan --Not the store bought kind. Home made seitan, pan seared with any combination of herbs/veggies/sauce/gravy. My first experience with seitan was the store bought variety and it scared me. I avoided seitan for years after that. One day I braved making my own seitan from scratch and I was instantly converted.

Interestingly when I started thinking about this list almost a month ago, I tried to remember foods that I tried at various times/places in my life where I was completely "wowed." Often times, these memories were not vegan. For instance, in Spain I had the most amazing flan at this tiny little hidden cafe. None of the other cafes could even compare. In Australia I had this absolutely amazing pumpkin soup. I've often wondered if I went back to these places as a vegan what foods I would recall.

BTW - In Spain, I had the most incredible peaches I have ever tasted in my entire life. They were huge and very pale orange with no red. They were a little creamier than apricots, but almost that color. These were the sweetest, juiciest, most wonderful peaches and I have no idea what variety they were. I've never seen (or tasted) anything like them here.

Hmm...and now that I have been sidetracked by Spain, I may have a #6 for the list. Pimientos de padron --First let me preface that I hate green peppers. If I had a top 5 worst foods list they would be number 3. (First is salt licorice from Sweden and second is vegemite). Pimientos de padron are these little green peppers that taste nothing like garden variety green peppers. They are sauteed in olive oil with salt. I was able to get these at at any tapas bar in the region of Spain where I lived. Most pimientos are sweet, usually there would be one or two super spicy ones that some how made it to the plate. You never know if you will get a spicy one, but it doesn't stop you eating these great little peppers.

Moving along...

L'shanah tovah to any other bloggers that celebrate Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish calendar is lunar and the new year has begun. Our new year is bit different than the secular new year. Rosh Hashanah begins a time of reflection where we think about what we have done wrong in the past year and how we can be better this year. It culminates on Yom Kippur which begins next Sunday evening. On Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) we fast.

Generally I am a very spiritual person, but not very religious. These two holidays have always "spoken" to me, even if I don't necessarily agree with all aspects of Judaism. Many people complain about fasting on Yom Kippur. I actually look forward to it. Fasting really makes the day different from any other day and allows me to concentrate on what I can do better this year. Giving up something, something I love so much, is a physical and symbolic way of asserting how serious I am about changing my ways.

This was my first year as a vegan at the Rosh Hashanah table. On Friday night I had dinner at my father's with his girlfriend. Two of her friends and my sister joined us. When I was a vegetarian, my dad's gf was always very concerned about whether I had enough to eat. (Believe me, I don't look like I am starving.) Now that I am vegan, she is even more worried.

She had hummus, tabbouleh and pita bread for me. I also had some green beans and rice. She had asked me to bring something and I decided on dessert because I figured vegan dessert might be the most difficult for someone else to figure out.

I baked a Chocolate Mousse Pie from Vegetariana by Nava Atlas. The pie had a graham cracker crust and I have to point out, it took quite a while to locate honey free grahams. Unfortunately, it was not very photogenic and I made the mistake of snapping the pic on my dad's granite counter top which did not compliment the colors at all. The top of the pie has crumbled Newman's Own chocolate cookies.

That night I would have rated the pie at 5-6 stars out of 10. I tried a leftover over piece from the fridge on Saturday and was completely surprised. Overnight the flavors melded and it morphed into an 8-9 out of 10.

On Saturday night my family had dinner at my aunt's. Normally I bake a challah (a type of bread) for Rosh Hashanah at my aunt's. Unfortunately challah has eggs, so I attempted a new vegan recipe for it from The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook. The bread came out very well, but was not like challah at all. I'll have to play around with veganizing challah at a later date.

My aunt is a wonderful cook and I was able to have many side dishes for my dinner. She made this interesting cabbage and apple saute that I will make and post about in the future. Normally on Rosh Hashanah we use honey in many recipes. This is to signify the sweet new year. In the challah I used agave nectar instead. My aunt made my grandmother's famous honey cake. It smelled good, but I did not have any.

Early last week, I attempted some vegan cheese sauce/dip. It was a conglomeration of a few different recipes and it came out pretty well. The main ingredients were potato, carrots, white beans, nutritional yeast, miso and some different spices. Here is photo of some whole wheat pasta with veggie ham, broccoli, and the cheese sauce.

Tonight, I made up some veggie lasagna. It was really a packaged mix from Dixie Diner. Open the tomato paste, add water, pop everything in the pan and bake. Early in the week, I had picked up one of the cute eight-ball zucchinis that some of you posted about. I sliced it up and added it to the lasagna layers. It is pretty good considering that the contents came from a box. I did end up adding quite a few spices and opening a jar of tomato sauce. and dumping some on top. (after I took this pic) Here is photo of it for you all.

I'm off to check out what I have been missing on all the other blogs!


KleoPatra said...

Love the post, Jody!

Shana Tovah to you and your family. May you be inscribed for a year filled with lots of love and good times and the best of health.

Welcome back; i've missed you!!

KleoPatra said...

P.S. I want to go to Spain and have great peaches!

P.S. #2 I LOVE YOUR PIE! Wow, it morphed into a 9, that's pretty darn cool.

*HUGS* Hope your fast goes easily on Yom Kippur...

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

what a super post! count me in on spain for peaches...

Emmy said...

Great top five list. I eat hummus several times a week, usually as a snack with veggies. That's awesome you have a local tea shop nearby. I love tea and usually end up ordering from Tealuxe or Upton Tea.

That's really interesting you used to live in Spain and that you also visted other countries. Really cool!

How nice of your dad's gf to make sure you had something to eat. The pie you made looks yummy!

Mikaela said...

Happy new year!

:) Mikaela

Crystal said...

I am going to have to try those chocolates you mentioned, they sound great!

Interesting observation on the pie, glad the rating increased.


Anonymous said...

mmmmmmmmmmmm...I want to eat peaches in spain too!

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

I can't get that pie out of my head. Craving chocolate mousse....!

urban vegan said...

Happy New Year!

I love your very classic top 5. You have great taste.

Valerie said...

I've always wanted to go to Spain, and you've just given me two more reasons - peaches and pimientos de padron. Yum!

I made seitan for the first time last week, hoping I would like it better than the store bought stuff. I did, but I'm still not crazy about it. I think it is the texture. It is possible I did something wrong, so I'll have to keep trying.

funwithyourfood said...

I didn't think of fresh berries. that is a great choice

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back. Your top 5 list is a good one. I'm definitely going to bookmark those chocolates to order when the weather is a little colder (shipping is better).