Tuesday, October 30, 2007

R. Thomas... again

I guess you could say that R. Thomas Deluxe Grill is becoming a favorite spot here in the ATL. Bob and I stopped in for brunch recently. Here's what was cooking.

Bob started out with this gargantuan smoothie--the PomaCherry Bomb On Me. With a name like that, it had to be good, right? Right. With coconut milk, pomegranate, cherry, and agave nectar, how could it have gone wrong? As for me, though, I took a few sips and then stuck to my steaming coffee. It was, in fact, a cool morning (something I thought we would never get to experience this year down south), and all the seating at R. Thomas is on an outdoor patio. Organic fair trade beans, roasted locally... I wouldn't say I missed out.

For his meal, Bob went for R's veggie burger--such an excellent choice that I had a hard time sticking to my own plate. Truly one of the best veggie burgers either of us has had, with an amazingly smoky flavor and a satisfyingly chewy texture. On the side, an order of collard greens. Spiced wonderfully with a hint of cumin, and not cooked into oblivion.

I took a more breakfast-like approach with R's Hearty Breakfast Stew. The restaurant takes their red potato corn chowder and loads it up with quinoa, dulse flakes, nori strips, and an assortment of chopped veggies. As I was ordering, I asked skeptically if it was vegan. A resounding YES from the waitress! I'm glad it was, too. Being the southern girl that I am, it reminded me of grits--only better, and more loaded up with nutrients.

No room for their raw apple pie this time. But we have a dessert date sometime this week, for just that purpose. What a great way to chill out after work--I'm looking forward to it!


Sunday, October 28, 2007


My life has been really weird lately. Certain things have just not been right, and it's been throwing me off. I would tell you the details, but I can think of a couple of people who would be rather put off to discover that I had posted these things out on the internet... so sorry for my vagueness. Let it suffice to say that I've learned that I need friends here in my new city--and coming from a college environment where making friends happens almost effortlessly, I've had a hard time adjusting to the fact that most of the people I care about are now far away from me and that I have to take the initiative if I want to establish relationships here. As always, I do really appreciate all of your comments and thoughts and prayers...

I spent last week out of town on business, but I have some pictures to share with you from before then. Let me start out with a couple quick weeknight meals.

Baked potato with steamed broccoli, a quick cheesy sauce, and fresh black pepper. Quite comforting and easy... and if you cheat by cooking the potato in the microwave it's even easier. (Yes, I cheated this time.)

One of my favorite easy meals is cooked legumes tossed into a pan with kale that's been sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes. These black-eyed peas were waiting in my freezer for a night like this. Bob made The Grit's Super Seven-Spice Potatoes to go on the side... he really likes that recipe.

Here's another attempt at the perfect hummus. It was quite good... but still not quite perfect. I tried to be heavy-handed with the olive oil, but it goes against years of being a health-conscious cook. Next time I'll ask Bob to add the olive oil--he's not shy.

It had been months since Bob and I made a homemade pizza. Finally I got up the energy to make a pizza dough, and I used Kris's recipe from DTV. Oh my goodness, there's no going back to any other pizza dough recipe, for this one achieved perfection. It was so soft and delicious and the edges puffed up nicely--and I used 100% whole wheat pastry flour. I topped this pie with homemade pizza sauce and pesto, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, red onions, and green bell peppers.

Here's a close-up of the crust. Yum.

Nava Atlas's African-Inspired Quinoa-Peanut Stew--thick and creamy and filling, yet at the same time kind of gentle on the tummy. I really liked it. Bob said it was just "all right." Looks like I get the leftovers!

Another quinoa-centered meal--Quinoa-Spring Salad from Vive! I can't remember the last time I actually followed the recipe for this, or even looked at the recipe... because it's so adaptable. This time I added chickpeas, green sweet peas, roasted red peppers, chopped cucumbers, artichoke hearts, green onions, cilantro, toasted pine nuts, and a simple vinaigrette.

One of my go-to lunches is a wrap sandwich. It's more portable than a traditional sandwich, and I prefer the wrap style anyway because the flavors of the fillings are not forced to hide behind the bread.

These are Balsamic-Glazed Portobella Mushrooms from VWaV. They made a delicious wrap with steamed Swiss chard and roasted red peppers, though I had forgotten how much mushrooms cook down. Next time I'll have to make about twice as much. They have a lovely, sweet-smoky flavor.

A recipe I've been meaning to test for Melody for quite some time--her Seitan Turkey Breast. I finally got to make it this weekend. It's very good, very savory. As she suggested, I pan-cooked the slices to give them a crisp crust.

The seitan turkey made an excellent wrap with steamed raab greens, roasted red peppers, and a dab of dijon mustard. Quoth Bob, "This seitan is almost too convincing." But that's a good thing--he really liked it!

Now that all the food blogging is done, I have some exciting news to share. Meet our new fur baby!

This is Marzie. She was born to a stray mother--a couple Bob knows found momma cat hanging out around their porch one day with her new babies. They took the cats in and set about finding homes for the kittens. Marzie is sweet and playful, and every day she gets more accustomed to her new home.

Okay, okay, enough with the pictures!

That's all. I'll be around again soon!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I'm sorry....

I've really needed some time to myself recently, so that's why you haven't seen me around much. I'll be back blogging in a week or so. I just have to get life figured out first.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

An award, and a look at breakfast

Hi all! I am excited to announce that Monday, October 15 marks the official end of my first busy season--and here I am still alive and still excited about my job! This is truly exciting to me, because when I entered the field of tax accounting my only real reservation had to do with the seasonal nature of the work, and the fact that a few weeks out of the year would be uncommonly hectic. But enjoying what I do helps those extra hours become tolerable... though I am thankful that the balance of life and work will be more normal for a while.

Thanks, Lynn, for giving me my first blogging award...

This award means a lot to me because my original intent in starting this blog was to share how veganism really is compatible with the Christian ideal of compassion and nonviolence, and honoring God's creation. Being both Christian and vegan has been difficult at times--while I find that some Christians mock the idea of extending compassion to animals, I also find that some vegans turn away from Christians, even those who share their progressive ideas. I've found a bridge between those two lifestyles among all you friendly, lovely people, and it makes the journey much easier.

Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) is to make more disciples.

The Rules: In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other “disciples” to pass it on to. As you pass it on, mention and provide links for:

(1) Dan King of Management by God as the originator of the award.
(2) The person that awarded it to you.
(3) Name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ.

I'm passing this award on to:
Midwest Vegan
Ron and Ginny of R&V Farmstead
Jenny of Bored at Work


I have a love-hate relationship with breakfast. When I was a teenager I rarely ate breakfast in the mornings, and I found that I would eat too much later in the day, after my metabolism had already crashed--and mostly junky, refined food at that. Once I started taking a look at healthful eating, I realized that I needed to pay more attention to the one meal that many people tend to overlook. After much practice and experimenting, I have learned that a good breakfast that has the power to set the stage for a healthy day features the following:

1) Protein
2) Healthy fats (not too much)
3) Whole grains
4) Fruits and, if at all possible, vegetables

The combination of these, at least for me, provides energy for several hours, sets me up for a healthy lunch, and allows me to eat a smaller dinner in the time of day when my body doesn't need much fuel to carry me to bedtime. I prefer my food intake during the day to look like an inverted triangle--more in the morning, less in the afternoon, and maybe only a small snack in the evening.

The snag in all of this is, of course, time. I'm sure that at least part of the reason breakfast has become such a rushed and neglected meal is because people have places to go in the morning, and can't spend too much time preparing a great morning repast. I find that I still succumb to cereal and milk a couple of days a week, when I just can't pull myself out of bed in time for anything else; but I've really been trying to answer my body's needs by starting the day right. Here's a look:

Tofu scramble, with plenty of veggies and minimal oil. This one contains broccoli (florets and stems), a green pepper, onions, mushrooms, and salsa. Throwing some spinach in when you can is also not a bad idea. This one takes a bit of time, but Bob and I take turns getting up to make breakfast so it cuts the extra time in half. By the way, Bob makes a better tofu scramble than I do.

Kale & Kraut Sandwiches from Vegan Vittles, we have found, make an excellent breakfast, on whole grain bread. A bit of tahini provides the healthy fats, and the kale is a great way to get a leafy green in early in the day. The good thing about this breakfast is that I can make it up pretty quickly, stick it on the grill, and get dressed while it finishes cooking itself (keeping an eye on it, of course)!

SusanV's vegan omelette for one. I've shown you this very picture before, but I thought it deserved a place in my breakfast post. I do plan to make this again soon, and it would be especially easy to mix the batter the night before to set myself up for quick and easy preparation the next morning.

Grilled marinated tempeh alongside The Grit's Super Seven-Spice Potatoes. I know, this meal is lacking a vegetable. I think throwing some broccoli in with the potatoes while they're sautéing would clear that up pretty nicely. The tempeh, of course, is prepared the night before and then grilling it is a snap. Again, think minimal oil--it doesn't take much. (Sorry for the blurred picture--I was in a hurry.)

These are Leslie's Awesomeness Muffins from DTV. They're low in added sweeteners, and still sweet and delicious with all the added goodness you see inside. I substituted applesauce for the oil in this recipe, so the only fat comes from the walnuts I threw in. No refined flours, nothing artificial... Yes, these fit the bill too. Maybe add a piece of fresh fruit and a cup of tea.

Other breakfast-worthy meals include beans and sautéed greens; hummus wraps; vegetable or bean dips spread on toast; smoothies with flax oil and a slice of toast; etc. Most of those things are make-ahead items which would make for a quick, simple breakfast. The key is thinking outside of the cereal box.

Of course, no breakfast post would be complete without a special weekend treat like these pancakes:

For fun, I threw in some carob chips and topped it with banana "pudding"--bananas puréed with almond butter, as I saw alongside VeggieGirl's waffles (though the original recipe is here at Katie's blog). The banana "pudding" was amazingly simple and sweet and naturally filling--I was able to eat only two pancakes with it and not feel hungry for five or six hours! Of course, I would not suggest attempting pancakes on a rushed morning--save them for a leisurely day.

I know there are many different opinions out there regarding breakfast, and all are valid--each body is different and has its own unique needs. For Bob and me, a large balanced breakfast, followed by a medium-sized lunch, a little midday munchie, and a smallish dinner have proven to optimize our energy levels and promote the healthiest habits for the rest of the day.

I'm interested in how each of you tackles the breakfast issue. What works for you? What suggestions do you have that might work for me?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mmm, mmm...

Several of you asked about my aloo matar recipe from my recent post. It's a recipe that I came up with after reading about Indian cooking and glancing over a few different aloo matar recipes. I've posted my recipe on this blog before; here's the link to it!

In the past week or so I have found a new vigor for cooking and baking, and this post is the product of firing up the gas range with the windows open, the scent of autumn wafting in to energize me, and a freshly stocked pantry after a massive shopping trip.

Salad with marinated grilled tempeh, chunks of avocado, and a freshly made vinaigrette... one of my favorite light meals, especially if the tempeh is still warm from the pan.

This is something I have wanted to do for quite some time now--vegan beef stew. My mom is an excellent cook, and has always been one who rarely follows a recipe; she just has a knack for tossing things together to make a meal that's amazingly simple and flavorful and comforting. I used to love my mom's beef stew, and finally I got up the nerve to try and veganize it. I'm so glad I did--it's just so good!

I'll post the recipe at the end. I made it with TVP, and I would also like to try it with seitan sometime (especially since seitan doesn't have the "taint" that TVP carries when it comes to health--though I'm not too concerned about it, since I only use TVP once in a blue moon anyway). We enjoyed it on top of corn bread--Kris's corn bread, from DTV, as a matter of fact. I can be picky about my corn bread, being from the South and all that, but this recipe left me happy. I will admit that I made a couple of modifications, such as reducing the sugar and replacing the applesauce with plain soy yogurt. You see, I'm not used to sweet corn bread. I'm not opposed to making it that way sometime, but I wanted my stew to taste as much like my mom's as possible.

Next, a fabulous new recipe from Dreena--her Tamari-Roasted Chickpeas from her new cookbook, Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan! No, I have not gotten her cookbook yet. I decided to wait until it hits our local vegan shop(pe) because I would just feel a little better buying it from them. But when I saw that Dreena had posted this freebie, I was all over it.

They came out of the oven looking golden and delicious, and Bob and I finished them off in no time. We did set some aside for salads:

They're so flavorful, and delightfully firm, almost crunchy. And a snap to make. Roasted chickpeas are destined to become a household staple, at least around here.

And of course, I did a little baking. I love pumpkin in every form that it can take, so I was really excited to make Kris's Pumpkin Zig Zag Loaf from DTV.

You can see the ribbon of cinnamon-sugar that runs through this loaf, giving it a special touch. Yet another wonderful baked treat from Kris's book--though it did take quite a bit longer in my oven than the recipe suggested. I have to tell you that in making this treat, I used the last of my cinnamon! This marks a first for me--never in my life have I run out of cinnamon. What is the world coming to?

Ah, well. Have a lovely week, my friends!

Beef Stew Like My Momma Used to Make (Sort Of)

This makes enough for 6-8 servings--leftovers! Woo-hoo!

2 cups TVP chunks (stew-beef style)
2 cups veggie broth
2 tablespoons Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1-2 tablespoons oil
1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper
Several tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
3 1/2 cups water (or more, as needed)
1/2 cup Bragg's or tamari
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Several dashes liquid smoke
5 large carrots, chopped
4 medium red potatoes, chopped
2 cups frozen green peas
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour mixed with 3 tablespoons cold water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring the veggie broth to a boil, then pour it over the TVP chunks. Add the 2 tablespoons Bragg's and stir through. Let sit for 10 minutes, stirring around occasionally to ensure that it can all absorb the liquid. Strain the reconstituted TVP chunks, reserving any extra liquid.

Place the garlic and the oil in a large stock pot, and heat gently. Sauté the garlic for several minutes, then add the TVP. Sprinkle with the pepper and whole wheat pastry flour, adding just enough flour to coat the TVP well. Cook for about two minutes, then add the reserved liquid to the pot to deglaze. Let simmer a moment more, then add the water, Bragg's, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the veggies are soft but not mushy.

Add the frozen peas, and return to a boil. Whisk the flour and water together, and once the stew is simmering again, add the flour mixture. Cook for a minute or two until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over corn bread.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cafe Sunflower

I have some great home-cooked food photos to share with you soon, but tonight I have to review my experience at Cafe Sunflower, the closest I've ever come to vegan fine dining.

There are two Cafe Sunflower locations in Atlanta; we visited the Buckhead location. The atmosphere was several steps above that of The Grit or any other vegetarian place we have visited--which are mostly great places, but have that rough, laid back, anything goes kind of feeling. At Cafe Sunflower, the lighting is dim and each table is illuminated by its own little hanging lantern. There are large pieces of abstract artwork on the walls, and it's all very attractive.

Cafe Sunflower is a vegetarian, almost-vegan establishment, which serves a couple of entrées that contain cheese, but is otherwise egg- and dairy-free. All of the desserts are vegan--and all look absolutely heavenly.

For his entrée, Bob chose the Garden Loaf: A soy and nut loaf served with mushroom gravy, roasted asparagus, spring rolls, and a tower of herbed mashed potatoes whose presentation was elegant enough for a classy French bistro. The loaf was very flavorful and had a satisfying firm texture.

I went with one of the dinner specials, the Stuffed Acorn Squash. This autumn gem was served with a stuffing of navy beans, corn, wild rice, cranberries, walnuts, and mushrooms, and sat on a nest of garlicky kale and mung bean sprouts. The filling had a smoky flavor and was singing with savory herbs like rosemary and tarragon. And I love the purple hue that the cranberries lent to the filling--see how beautifully it contrasts with the orange-gold of the squash and the vibrant green kale? A work of art, to be sure.

After dinner our server brought out not a dessert menu, but a tray showcasing each of the luscious desserts. Bob and I had intended to split something, but we could not agree on one thing so we each decided to order something and bring the leftovers home.

Bob chose this Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake--one of the lightest, fluffiest mousses I've ever put in my mouth.

As for me, my chocoholic side showed through as I ordered a slice of the Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake. The cake was dark and rich, and was riddled with chunks of chocolate. Wow.

So, there you have Cafe Sunflower. It's a bit on the pricey side, but completely worth it for a special treat.

By the way, what was the reason for this special treat? Well, I finally got all my scores in from taking the CPA exams, and I passed them all!! Woot! Maybe I'll never have to take another test in my life...

Monday, October 01, 2007

The greatest hubby in the world

See what I came home to today?

Black Bean, Mushroom, and Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers from Vegan With a Vengeance, prepared by none other than Chef Bob. He came to pick me up from the train station after work, and when I got in the car I said, "It smells like food in here."

Bob said, "Does it smell like chili powder?"

"Chili powder? Should it smell like chili powder in here?"

"Well, I got chili powder all over my hands while I was making dinner."

Making dinner? How sweet is that? Oh, and by the way... this recipe is delicious, and surprisingly not too heavy for a later meal. Black beans, quinoa, and mushrooms all together in one dish can't go wrong.

I've been taking salads for lunch to work just about every day. But I know what I'm taking tomorrow--Bob had the foresight to make enough for leftovers! Yay!