Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Herbivore Restaurant & Lombard Street (San Francisco Post 3 of 3)

If you're in San Francisco, you gotta go to Herbivore. It's stylish, fresh, reasonably priced, and completely vegan. Herbivore features a cross-cultural menu from the Middle East, Thailand, China, Italy, and India. Next time, I think I'll try the Seitan Shawarma or Lemongrass Rice Noodles with grilled vegetables. There are so many choices, and you can check out the menu at the above link. There are two locations to choose from, and we went to the one in the Mission District because it's conveniently on the way to the airport.

We were famished, so we began with this from the Starters selection.

Crisp Tacos:
Two crisp tacos with soy protein, beans, tofu cheese, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa

Good thing I took a photo because these tacos disappeared like magic. They were so flavorful, and it made me think that vegan cheese might not be so bad afterall.

Washing it down was
a San Pellegrino Limonata.

Art's Lunch:

Marinated Tofu Sandwich on Focaccia Bread:
with avocado, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, & pickles. Served with seasoned potatoes and green salad with dijon mustard dressing.

Baked Falafel Wrap:
seasoned onions, fresh tomatoes, hummus, hot sauce, pickles, & tahini dressing in a wrap with a green salad with potatoes and eggplant.

I usually don't like wraps or burritos because they get too soggy & fall apart. Glad I took a chance with this one. They have a super-hoopified style. Only one hand necessary to hold it, no drips, no falling apart, & not just stuffed with lettuce, either. It was solid.

This is the kind of place you could easily eat at everyday. In fact, in this month's Veg News, there is an article, "The 20 Best Restaurants for Everyday Dining -- Dine out and dine well without breaking the bank," in which Herbivore is featured. It says, "Though this restaurant bills itself as 'the earthly grill,' it's more like veg heaven..." I totally agree with that statement.

Are you looking for a Veg friendly get-away? Try San Franciso. You might wonder if San Francisco can be affordable? Yes. Here are some hotels to get you started:

Metropolis Hotel -- Rooms start @ $99 There is a suite for children, and packages for dogs.

The Phoenix Hotel -- Rooms start @ $139 The "rock 'n' roll" hotel near the Civic Center. Art has stayed here... along with a bunch of other people! :o)

Hotel California -- Rooms start @ $139 Millennium is located in this hotel, near Union Square.

Cornell Hotel -- Rooms start @ $85 with shared bath, or $110 with private bath. Rate includes breakfast!

This last photo was taken on the famous Lombard Street -- and off in the distance, you see Coit Tower.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Millennium Restaurant & China Town (San Francisco Post 2 of 3)

When we were deciding where to go for a couple days, San Francisco rose to the top for more reasons than just the obvious spectacularness of the city -- we have friends to visit (I just calculated that Lorna & I have been buds for 27 years!), and we really wanted to eat at the Millennium. Here we are sitting on the grassy steps of Union Square in anticipation of a gourmet vegan meal. It is a shame that I don't have photos of our meal. If you've seen his cookbook, The Artful Vegan, then you'll have an idea of what I mean. Each meal looked like a work of art -- very complicated & elaborate dishes. Nope, no photos. *dabbing corner of eye* I did get the above mentioned cookbook, which was signed by Eric Tucker himself -- he took a little break from cooking to do so. I saw him with my own eyes -- matched him right up with his cookbook photos.

Both our meals were Vegan, Organic, Local, Beautiful, & Delicious! We can't wait to go back.

Art's --
1. Grilled Bitter Greens and Sweet Onion Salad
fresh black Mission figs, house-smoked tofu, pecan-fig-balsamic vinaigrette
2. Chipotle Grilled Portobello Mushroom
cranberry bean & posole chile verde, butternut squash masa arepa, sauteed greens, sweet chipotle glaze, spiced toasted pumpkin seeds
Mine --
1. Roasted Pumpkin Salad
apples & sweet peppers, cider vinaigrette, toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil
2. Pomegranate Glazed Tempeh
autumn vegetable hash, Israeli couscous with saffron "cream", green coriander, shaved fennel & lemon pickle, pomegranate seeds

This month's
Veg News has an article "Tips from the Top - Veg chefs dish their delicious home-cooking secrets" in which Eric Tucker (Millennium co-owner) says his pantry must-have is curry paste, and his kitchen tool essential is a knife sharpener. Fun question... Guess if I could only pick one of each, It'd be Earth Balance & a Vegetable Peeler. What's your pantry must-have? And your kitchen tool essential?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Greens Restaurant & The Marina (San Francisco Post 1 of 3)

OK, so what I didn't tell you is that while the Grandparents were in town, Art and I left town! We cashed in on some frequent flyer miles and visited San Francisco for a couple days. The first night, we stayed with some dear friends -- I asked Lorna where we could get some vegetarian food, and expected her to suggest Millennium (which is where we had reservations for the following evening) but she didn't. She said the place she hears the most about (she's omni) is Greens Restaurant. This photo was taken at the Marina with Alcatraz behind us -- right before going to Greens!

Greens has been around for 26 years setting the standard for gourmet vegetarian cuisine. You can enjoy the open, art-filled, floor to ceiling windows with sweeping views of the Marina, Golden Gate Bridge, and Marin Headlands --- or get Greens to go with their convenient take-out picnic fare counter. Greens serves gourmet vegetarian & vegan cuisine using only their homegrown & organic produce -- the diverse menu changes daily.

This is my lunch:

Mediterranean Sampler --

French lentil salad with lemon, mint and ricotta salata; filo turnover with leeks, fromage blanc and thyme; roasted pepper hummous; green, yellow wax and romano beans with tarragon vinaigrette; grilled pita bread; spicy tomato jam; olives. $13.75

Art's Lunch: (for once I'm glad I ordered mine and not his!)

Asian Tofu Sandwich --

Grilled tofu in spicy peanut sauce with pickled carrots, jicama and cilantro on Acme petit baguette. Served with little gems, tat soi, grilled shiitake mushrooms and sesame ginger vinaigrette. $9.75

I loved this restaurant! It was an outstanding feast for the eyes and mouth -- the view couldn't get much better & the food was perfect.

Our own fault, being tourists, we got lost finding this restaurant. Art, like some men, refuses to use a map. We finally gave in and called and they said it was across the street from Safeway supermarket at Laguna & Buchanan. We found a Safeway on Market Street between those streets and, coincidentally, it was the wrong Safeway, the restaurant is located in the Marina area in the Ft. Mason complex. We eventually crossed up to the right side of town to find the correct Safeway between Laguna and Buchanan, and thankfully, Greens was right there with easy parking access and a superb environment.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pumpkin Puree & Cookies

I used our longest knife to cut my two pie pumpkins. Then, scraped out the seeds & guts with an ice cream scoop into a colander -- where I could later wash the seeds for roasting.

Preheat the oven to 350* & place the pumpkin, cut side down, on a lightly oiled pan with an inch of water. Tent with foil and cook for about an hour - until very tender.

Let the pumpkin cool a bit before scooping out the flesh into the food processor. Puree the pumpkin with just enough water to keep it moving.

This was the first time I've roasted a pumpkin, and was inspired to do so by Melissa because of this post at Cooking Delights. It was much easier than I thought -- the toughest part was cracking the pumpkin. Next time, I may just drop it on the sidewalk & wash him up before cooking....

I'm so glad I did this because you just can't beat the taste of fresh pumpkin in recipes. Sure, a can of pumpkin is fine in a pinch -- but why not make it fresh and freeze it so that you can have it all year long?

My 2 small pumpkins yielded: a half jar pumpkin seeds, two 1 cup baggies of puree in the freezer, plus enough puree to make a batch of 'Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies' from VwaV, pg. 198.

For these, I skipped the walnuts & flaxseeds, and added extra oatmeal to compensate. They were really good, and I'm planning to make them again for our next road trip because they don't fall apart & are chewy, aren't too sweet, and compared to other cookies - are healthful.

We are looking forward to Art's parents visiting us this week, and I'll have my camera and cookbooks out, but I'll be away from my computer until Saturday. Have a great week, and I look forward to checking in with you!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Crockpot Applesauce & Bread & Potatoes

We still have lots of apples from our day of apple picking -- combine that with the fact that I still hadn't christened my Crockpot, and this is what you get. Homemade apple sauce. We sprinkled some dried cranberries on top for some added zing. My kindergarten students loved discovering the star inside apples -- just cut them horizontally. These make pretty prints & are perfect for little hands to hold and stamp. Use some paints and make some homemade cards, wrapping paper, T-shirts, or whatever. I'm hoping to get to some of these activities soon!

Olivia wasn't feeling well, and this was just what the Doctor ordered. It was pleasant to have the aroma of apples all day, and it did wonders to coax ill taste buds.

5 Apples - peeled & chopped
1/2 C. Sugar
1 C. Water

Combine all ingredients. Cook on High 4 Hours.

More comfort food! I'm including these spuds because I'm a total potato fiend.

Yukon Golds - medium=quartered; small=halves
Whole Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 400*F. Toss everything in a bowl and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes.

This is a loaf of 'Maple Banana Loaf' from The Everyday Vegan, pg. 167. This was delicious. I used all whole wheat pasty flour because that's all I had (all out of white + spelt, & kamut!) The recipe calls for 1 cup very ripe banana, and that meant 2 bananas for me -- which was exactly what I had on hand. I used vanilla soy milk, and threw in 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Very yummy!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pumpkin Muffins

PUMPKIN MUFFINS (veganized from the newspaper)
2 1/2 C. whole wheat Flour
3/4 C. Sugar
1 Tbs. Egg Replacer
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 1/4 C. Vanilla Silk
1 C. Pumpkin puree
1/3 Canola Oil
2 Tbs. Molasses
1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400* F.
2 Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3 Add remaining ingredients & stir until moistened.
4 Divide batter between lined or oiled muffin cups.
5 Bake 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let them cool on a rack a minute or two before serving with Earth Balance or Peanutbutter & Jelly. Art especially enjoyed these muffins and ate several, including day olds -- though he refused a photo op. Dragon-Girl, on the other hand was fine with the camera.....and the muffins.

For me, this recipe yielded 18 muffins, and that's just too many, even for a pumpkin lovin' family. I remembered reading in VwaV to freeze the extra. Just pour batter into liners and put them in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a storage container. When you want a fresh muffin, but don't have the time -- just bake one of these! Put in a muffin tin, adding an extra 8-10 minutes to the cooking time. Brilliant idea, Isa! And now, I'm wondering... where's my Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Kindly put it in the mail and nobody will panic - you know the address.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Maple Baked Apples

I altered an old recipe by veganizing it and subbing spelt flour. What a success!

1/2 C. spelt flour

1/2 C. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. soybean margarine
1/3 C. old-fashioned rolled oats
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
9 small Gala apples

Preheat oven to 375* F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish.

2 In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Cut in soybean margarine with 2 knives, fingertips, or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Add oats and maple syrup and stir with a fork to blend lightly.

Core an apple and cut off stem. Cut 1 inch off bottom of core; replace 1-inch-long piece in bottom of apple to cork it and place apple in prepared dish. Repeat with remaining apples.

4 Fill each apple with flour mixture. Cover pan snugly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until apples are tender and filling is lightly browned, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Know your

Fujis are firm, crisp and good raw and in applesauce and pie.
Galas have red striping, are sweet and crisp, and taste good raw and cooked.
Granny Smiths are bright green, tart and great raw and cooked in pies.
McIntoshes are softer than others -- great for applesauce.
Red and Golden Delicious are best raw, but Goldens make good pies.
Romes are sweet and medium-large; they hold their shape when baked whole.

More than just walnuts are falling from of our walnut trees. We found this perfect bird nest laying on the lawn. We've since put it in a shoe box, and it sits on our patio. Olivia loved seeing it up close because we've been observing it for a while. We watched the Robins build the nest in the Spring & heard the baby birds singing soon after. It's been fun to see!

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Nava Atlas & Curried Red Lentil Soup

Look what Nava Atlas sent me in the mail! An advance, and autographed copy of the 3rd editon of her cookbook Vegetarian Soups For All Seasons, along with a nice note, saying, "Hi Vicki ~ As promised, a review copy for you of my latest. Enjoy! Best ~ Nava" How exciting!

I think Robin Robertson, author of Vegan Planet & Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, sums it up best in her praise for the new edition:

"With a vegan makeover and 20 new recipes, the best vegetarian soup cookbook just got better! Arranged by season and loaded with variety, Nava's recipes are sure to please soup lovers everywhere. Complemented by a chapter of tempting accompaniments and Nava's own delightful illustrations, this treasury of delectable recipes is as welcoming as a simmering pot of homemade soup."

Eager to try out a recipe, I turned to the Fall index and glanced the list of 29 Fall soup recipes. (Winter=30, Spring=30, Summer=27) and came up with this, 'Curried Red Lentil Soup
with sweet potatoes and greens' which, I must tell you, is one of the very best soups ever to enter our home. Art & I ate 3 bowls each in one sitting because it's super delicious. The flavors are unique & perfectly smooth, and bonus! make the house smell absolutely amazing. The main flavors here are: sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, lentils, & curry. Per serving, this soup has 290 calories, 5 g fat, 13 g protein, 10 g fiber, 50 carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 94 g sodium. How do I know all that helpful info? Nava includes it for each recipe. If you're a soup-lover, you'll want to get this cookbook! Thanks, Nava.

I leave you with a glimplse of the amazing Fall
COLORS that abound here. The firery splash of color in the trees & brisk breezes are just a couple reasons why this is my favorite season. I love Fall.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Mr. Pumpkin Head & Pepitas

Here's our first attempt at a pumpkin carving this season. The fun here is in using vegetables to create different facial features -- we used: broccoli for his hair, pea eyebrows, walnut eyes, rutabaga nose, and a corn mouth.

Basic Tips:
Eyes Use a melon baller to carve holes for small vegetables like radishes or okra to sit in. Secure the veggies with skewers or toothpicks.

Nose/ears/neck plugs Slice one side off spherical produce (like eggplants) to increase the amount of surface area that rests flat against the pumpkin; affix the veggies with skewers. (Spritz sliced sides with lemon water to keep them from discoloring.) For a long pepper or rhutabaga nose, carve a hole that's a little smaller than the biggest end of the veggie; secure with skewers.

To cut out a mouth the exact size of a squared-off corn-cob, first trace its outline on the pumpkin with a water-based marker (which can be wiped right off). A mouth that requires no carving (nor parental help): Draw a smile with the marker, prick holes along the line with a skewer, wipe off the marker, then place whole dried cloves in the holes. We want to try this next....

Hair Use a rubber band to attach parsley or cilantro to the pumpkin stem. Affix green beans or snow peas with skewers. Or, do like us, and just put a bunch of broccoli in his head hole for a curly do. Asparagus makes pretty hair also.

"Not a thing inside there, Mr.Pumpkin. Where'd your corny teeth and seed brains go?"

Little and big fingers alike dug into these roasted pumpkin seeds. Emmy of
Vegan Diva is right -- these are easy to roast and a very addicting snack. Just rinse the seeds in a collander until clean. Dry on a towel, and then toss with some canola oil and sea salt. Lay the seeds in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, and bake them in a 250 (or less) degree oven. I checked mine every 10 minutes, and it took a while for them to completely dry out. A couple times, I just turned off the oven and left the pepitas inside for up to 30 minutes to slow cook. Then, if they weren't ready, I'd fire up the oven again. As Emmy suggested, we tested a few along the way to know for sure when they were done. Liv ate what remained from yesterday for breakfast this morning.

This picture reminds me of an old cartoon on Saturday Night Live, Mr. Bill, "Ohhhhhhh Nooooooooo!"

Pumpkin Preservation Tips:
Look for pumpkins with a sturdy stem, this is the sign of a healthy pumpkin. Don't lift the pumpkin by the stem, this can damage the pumpkin and make it age faster.

Put the pumpkin in a wash tub full of cold water, carved side down -- it'll absorb the water and become firm.

After you've carved your pumpkin, wipe vaseline along the cut edges to preserve -- this prevents water from getting out. If your pumpkin does shrivel, resoak it for several hours and even over night. A little unscented clorox bleach in the water will prevent premature molding by killing evil pumpkin germs. Here's a link to WH Foods with some great information about pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Hot Damn and Hell Yeah Cranberry Scones

Here's half a batch of 'Cranberry Scones' from a new cookbook of mine. It's an easy recipe using basic ingredients that you probably already have around the kitchen --- though I was out of lemon. I used lime zest instead, and combined the juice with soy milk to make the "buttermilk." The most notable difference between these and other scone recipes is the approach with the wedges. The recipe says to use a knife to cut three deep lines to create six wedges of dough, but don't separate them -- these'll break right off nicely once they're properly baked. I was skeptical about this, but the wedges did break off beautifully & I didn't have to handle the delicate scone wheel before baking. They turned out much prettier, and are best served warm from the oven with Earth Balance and maybe some preserves.

Hot Damn and Hell Yeah" was written & illustrated by Ryan Splint, and boasts a Southern Cooking theme complete with the flamboyant flare of the South minus the meat and dairy. Some recipes of his that I'm itchin' to try are Sweet Potato Pie, Vegetable Mountain with Gravy, and Coconut Curry Tofu on Green Jasmine Rice. Splint says that "There's also a lotta people that think pompous attitudes and morality lectures oughta be served alongside with it, maybe ta make up for the lack of flavor in their food. It ain't too hard to see why vegetarian food and the people who eat it haven't wound up with the best of reputations."

What do you think?

This is the "happy hour" of cookbooks, because you get two for the price of one. Turn the book over, and you have "the Dirty South cook book" --- recipes by Vanessa, with help from some other people. She sets out to prove that you CAN make good southern food without meat or dairy. Vanessa gives a shout-out in her introduction to her family (of course!) as well as
cooking by kittee, and the Post Punk Kitchen.

Counting Soup

This photo shows us ready to mix together our 'Counting Soup' from Salad People by Mollie Katzen. Our ingredient line-up strayed slightly from the cookbook. In the white bowls there is cooked alphabet noodles with edamame, a bowl of broccoli, fresh corn cut off the cobb, and vegetable broth. The container holding the broth is one of the best garage sale items I've found. It sits on the stove and warms up liquid that you'll want to pour -- like syrup & sauces. Liv is hanging around in the background wondering when we're going to finish Mr. Pumpkin. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how he turned out!

Like many meals around here, Abigail was all over it while Olivia wasn't interested at all.

Here's the gift certificate I won from Urban Vegan's tART contest. I shopped the PETA magazine and placed my order today. What did I get? -- you may wonder. I'll let you know as soon as it arrives and I snap a photo. I love the anticipation of waiting for something in the mailbox! Thanks for that, Urban, and also for hosting a fantastically fun event while taking the opportunity to highlight such a compassionate organization.