Sunday, May 13, 2007

Soul veggies, pasta pasta, and it's over

I'm not really sure how to begin to describe the past week. So much has happened... I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

Bob and I found an apartment in Atlanta! Woot! It's a quaint little place in a nice, quiet part of town, within walking distance of a commuter rail station, and we can have a dog in our new place! This last part is the most exciting of all... we have wanted to rescue a dog for so long but the place we are in now does not allow anything with fur. We'll be moving in mid-July.

While we were in Atlanta, we ate out to celebrate my finishing school. Thanks to Happy Cow, we found this place called Soul Vegetarian--a 100% vegan restaurant not far from where we will live. It was kind of a hole-in-the-wall sort of restaurant, but the food was amazing.

We started with onion rings--one of my all-time favorite vices, which I only eat about once or twice a year.

Bob's entrée was called the Jerusalem Rice Dish--a smoky, earthy flavored veggie stew served over rice. It contained what the restaurant calls "kalebone"--basically their own seitan recipe. It was served with a spicy ginger sauce.

I went with a salad platter, which was a sampling of three of their salad entrées. Carrot salad, bean curd salad, and "egg"less salad are what you see here, with a side of creamy roasted garlic dressing and a slice of cornbread. My favorite was the carrot salad--it was savory and mildly sweet, with a hint of cinnamon and clove.

When we saw banana split on the dessert menu, there was no way we could pass it up. Bob and I split this huge creation, made of three scoops of soy ice cream (two scoops of vanilla bean and one of butter pecan), a carob hot fudge sauce, and sprinkled with chopped almonds. Wow... Bob declared Soul Vegetarian his new favorite restaurant. As our first experience at a vegan restaurant, it certainly did not disappoint.

My friend Abby and I have been studying together every free minute this week for our exams, and cooking when we couldn't take it anymore. Thursday and Friday we tried two different pasta dinners:

Thursday was the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto from VWaV. It was delicious... but I thought it was extremely ugly. I won't tell you what it reminded me of, but I doctored this photo a lot so that I felt okay about putting it on my blog. We served it with sautéed mushrooms and a mixed greens salad.

Friday we turned to Vive Le Vegan! and made the Roasted Red Pepper Cannellini Bean Sauce. This recipe was much more photo-worthy, and as far as taste goes, I enjoyed this one more as well... though Abby and Bob both preferred the pesto. What can I say? They were both so good.

We served the cannellini bean pasta with roasted mushrooms and asparagus.

Now, the best news of all. Yesterday, I officially received my masters degree! Woot woot!

My parents and Bob's parents came into town to go to the ceremony, and we had a little "reception" at my place afterward. The menu included:

Coconut-Lime Cookies from Vive! This was my first run on these cookies, and mmm... So soft and chewy.

Pineapple coffee cake from Susan's Fatfree Vegan Blog. This was a first as well, but I've seen it on many, many blogs and it seemed like a hit. It was! My mom loved it and asked for the recipe. By the end of the party, the coffee cake and the cookies were all gone--thank goodness.

A quick "egg"less salad that I made when I realized that we didn't have much real food in the house... Tofu, red peppers, celery, onions, lemon juice, paprika, turmeric, kelp granules, salt, and pepper. It was actually quite good, especially for a last minute creation. Bob and his mother loved it especially.

And finally, a fruit tray consisting of strawberries, blueberries, and red grapes. All organic, and beautifully arranged by Abby, who has quite the talent for entertaining.

Beyond graduating and new homes and pasta parties, I have a couple more things to show you from the past few days. When we went to Atlanta, we stopped by a farmer's market where we bought a huge box of mangos for $4.50. I love when mangos come in season. I remembered seeing a recipe on Vicki's old blog, many months ago, and have thought about it ever since. Unfortunately, mangos were no longer affordable and so I just filed it away, vowing to make it as soon as mangos became available again. Finally...

Sweet potato fries with mango dipping sauce. The recipe is pretty simple: 1 finely chopped mango, 1/4 cup Nayonaise, and 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce. Oh my goodness, how delicious! It has a nice zing to it, which pairs well with sweet potatoes and with mangos... I love the combination of sweet and spicy. Thanks, Vicki!

And for those of you who remember my leftover bharli mirchi filling, you will be glad to know that I used it up to make samosas. I used the samosa dough recipe from VWaV, subbing in whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose.

I made up a quick coconut-lime sauce inspired somewhat by Isa's Coconut-Mint Chutney recipe on the page following the samosas. It was sweet, again the perfect complement to the spicy samosas. These were good--I am sure the crust would have been flakier if I had used the white flour as I was supposed to, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. Bob could not get enough of these! I feel so good when my food gets gobbled up like that.

With that, I sign off for the next couple of weeks. Bob and I are leaving tomorrow to go on a mission trip to South Dakota--where he and I are in charge of food for the entire team. We have a nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive menu planned, and I will fill you in when I get back! I won't have Internet access, but I look forward to catching up with you all when I have the chance. Take care!


aTxVegn said...

Congratulations, Laura! You look beautiful in your cap and gown. Sounds like life will be great in Atlanta. You'll lose the Grit but gain the Soul Veggie!

Your impromptu reception food looks great. I know those treats were good. I've made them both, but only once cuz they're so good.

I remember Vicki's post with the sweet potato fries and sauce and how good it sounded. Those and the samosas look yummy!

Be safe on your trip and congratulations again!

Beata said...

Congratulations on your graduation!

That restaurant sounds so good! We should go there sometime when I'll be in town. The banana split is making me hungry for ice cream. We recently found out that my hubby is slightly lactose intolerant, so I think he would appreciate the soy ice cream creation. Yummy dessert with no indigestive yuckiness for him.

By the way, when will you move to Atlanta? I'll be there in about 2 weeks and I'd love to meet up with you and Bob sometime.

Julie said...

Congrats on your graduation...I just graduated this weekend too! What an awesome feeling.

All of the food looks good too!

Veg-a-Nut said...

Congratulations on your Masters! Well done, well deserved. Your food looks fantastic. I have never made samosas, but they look yummy!

Have a great trip and will see you back online in a couple weeks.

Chantal said...

Congratulations for your Masters! You look so happy on your picture... Have fun in South-Dakota. I will miss reading your blog while you're gone.

Laura Faye said...

Congrats on your graduation and your upcoming move to Atlanta! My boyfriend and I love going down to Atlanta to do some food shopping and go to Soul Veg (we live in Knoxville).

Kati said...

Wow what great food! Soul Vegetarian looks amazing - your salad plate looks so refreshing and that sundae...whoa! There's actually a restaurant by the same name here in Chicago, although I've never been - I wonder if they're related.

I agree about the sun-dried tomato pesto - it's not pretty, but it sure tastes good.

Congratulations on your Master's Degree and your new apartment...and how exciting that you can get a dog! :D Have a safe trip to SD- I look forward to seeing what you feed all the hungry missionaries!

Johanna3 said...

Congratulations for everything Laura!

Wow im so happy for you!

the food looks awesome too.

scottishvegan said...

Congratulations on the move and the degree! And you may adopt a dog too?! I am very excited for you! I love that you say Woot! My hubby says it all the time and it makes me laugh! The Soul Vegetarian restaurant looks excellent…will you be able to stick to having onion rings only a few times a year once you live beside it?! You look lovely in your graduation outfit…quite different from your profile pic…and rather glamorous! All your food looks fantastic…I will miss reading about your tasty creations when you are off on your mission, but I wish you well and look forward to your return :) Take care!

SusanV said...

I LOVE Soul Vegetarian. I used to pass through Atlanta regularly, and I'd always make a point to go to SV. It's a chain, and its website is here , in case any of your readers want to look for other locations.

Congratulations on your Master's and on your move. What an exciting time!

b36Kitchen said...

i love your cap and gown photo!! Congratulations!! Good luck with everything and with your new exciting you get to have a dog.


theONLYtania said...

Ahh the longest entry ever! That looks like a great restaurant you found.. lucky! And your pasta dishes look fantastic!
Ahh that's so exciting about your masters! What a great picture.
The party food looks good, my only problem with making tofu salad is that it's never very flavorful :-( And those samosas look FABULOUS!

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish you much relaxation and lovely times.

Courtney said...

Congrats on finding the apt and on graduating! That is great!


Dori said...

Congrats to you!!! I have been busy writing the final tests for the year and all that still in school stuff while you have been wonderfully and most deservedly celebrating. Great food too!

stonielove said...

congratulations! i hope you will get to relax a little! oh and mmm! for all the veggie delights!

Melody Polakow said...

Congratulations on your Master's!! You are beautiful!

Your new apt sounds like a score.. how cool that you can rescue a dog!

Soul Vegetarian looks like a great place... I wish I had more control over the menu at the Cafe... of course, we're just a lunch place and it takes a lot of time and money to build up a large menu.. so maybe in the future we can offer main dish type things!

Melody Polakow said...

Congratulations on your Master's!! You are beautiful!

Your new apt sounds like a score.. how cool that you can rescue a dog!

Soul Vegetarian looks like a great place... I wish I had more control over the menu at the Cafe... of course, we're just a lunch place and it takes a lot of time and money to build up a large menu.. so maybe in the future we can offer main dish type things!

springsandwells said...

wow! what a wonderful post!!
congratulations on your graduation!!!!! That's wonderful! I love the cap & gown picture - you look so content.

All the food is amazing too... so much tastiness! What a fun opportunity to be in charge of the food for everyone on your trip. I always really love cooking for other people - I hope you do too!


bazu said...

Congratulations!!!! WOOT WOOT! (If I'd been at your graduation I would have embarassed you with my loud hollering! lol) You and Bob are at such a great place in your lives right now- graduation, new apartment in Atlanta, (with puppy options!) and great food, travel.... wow. I'm really happy for you. Can I come visit you in Atlanta when you return from SD?? hee hee.

vko said...

WOO HOO!! CONGRATULATIONS!! so exciting- you look so great in your cap & gown! So happy for you & congrats on the move- and how thrilling to be able to have a newly rescued little furry companion in your new home.

The vegan restaurant sounds delicious and your food looks yummy too- you cook all this lovely vegan food & a master's too. Bob's a lucky boy!

Carrie™ said...

Wow! You've been busy girl! Moving, getting a master's degree, cooking, possibly getting a dog. Whew! You made me tired just reading this. All of the photos are beautiful and stunning. My favorite is of YOU!! What did you study while at school?

Melissa West said...

Holy Post Batman! Congratulations on your Graduation. Great photo! Love your restaurant review and all the food you've been making. That pineapple coffee cake peeks my interest. I LOVE coffee cake! I LOVE pineapple too!

Kate said...

Congrats on getting your masters degree, it seems like you worked very hard for it. Soul Vegetarian sounds amazing and your food looks so good. Good luck with your move and that is great that you want to rescue a dog.

Midwest Vegan said...

Wow - what a lot of changes you have going on in your life. Congrats on the Masters degree, what an accomplishment. I hope you are having blessed mission trip and that you'll share what you made with the group when you return.

Emmy said...

Congratulations on your graduation!!!! WTG :) Good luck with your July move too.

Your celebratory dinner out looks so yummy, especially those onion rings.

What a good deal on the mangoes at the farmers market and the sweet potato fries with the mango sauce are right up my alley.

Hope you have a safe trip :)

Brooke said...

Wow! Congrats on the Master's degree! Yay!

I want those onion rings immediately. Onion rings are the only way I eat onions, unless you hide them really really well in something, so I can't see 'em or taste 'em.

All the food looks excellent, as always!

Urban Vegan said...

Yay, Laura.. Felicitations! You look mah-ve-lous in your cap and gown...and obviously all that healthy, tasty vegan food is good for the brain.

Congrats also on your new apt.

Celine said...

congrats on graduating!!! you rule.

Petite Yogini said...

That was a lot food! Congradulations on your graduation.

Vivacious Vegan said...

Hi Laura! First, I wanted to say congratulations on your graduation!! Also, I like the new look for your blog. The pumpkin color is really nice. I've been going back through some of your older posts that I missed during my absence. I'm so glad you tried the baked taco shells. They're definitely my favorite way to eat flour tortillas. I really want to try your refried red lentil taco filling. We've been eating TVP lately as a taco filling substitute but I have enough red lentils to last me a lifetime so any way to use them up is an idea I want to try.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

Congratulations, Laura! A masters degree is such a major accomplishment & you look beautiful in your cap & gown. Way to go! Congrats also on your upcoming move, and all that brings - including a dog and many happy meals @ Soul Vegetarian. What an exciting time for you! Can't wait to hear what you and Bob feed everybody.... oh, and I just gotta say that your fruit plate is stunning! :o)

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

ps -- forgot to mention that I'm happy you liked the mango dipping sauce! lately, I've been subbing mandarine oranges....