Tag Archives: Food
Maybe it will be different when I have a husband/kids/whatever to cook for, but the act of cooking in and of itself is essential to my emotional well-being. I love eating out – you can eat cuisine from just about everywhere in San Francisco, and I love exploring it – but being in the kitchen, starting with raw ingredients, and making something to nourish your body is important. Cooking allows me time to process my day and there is something about putting a meal together that centers myself.
The realities of my life mean that I often don’t have time to make a complicated meal, and really I’m not after something that requires a ton of stuff to make. So lately I’ve been finding myself drawn to dishes with simple, basic ingredients.
One of my favorite hot-weather dishes is soba, or buckwheat, noodles, served in a cold broth. I’m not well-versed in the ins and out of “authentic” Japanese cuisine, but I grew up eating hot soba every New Years Eve for good luck. When I was a kid, I didn’t like the noodles very much – the gray-brown color is a little off-putting to those accustomed to spaghetti and ramen – but the hearty flavor and texture has really grown on me as an adult.
I won’t tell you how to prepare soba, or the sauce that goes with it – you can check out Just Hungry for that – but I will say that it is not complicated at all! If you don’t have a Japanese market near you, you should be able to find all of the ingredients you need at Whole Foods – that’s where I bought my noodles. My favorite accompaniments for soba are cold tofu and edamame – green onions are great too, but I never have them on hand.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about food and memory lately. There’s something about the tastes, scents, and smells that unlock moments long forgotten or shoved aside to make room for dealing with reality. Some of my strongest memories of my time in Italy are of us in various bars drinking the local drink, or crowded into a room eating the best butternut ravioli I’ve had in my life, or of my mother, grandmother, and myself eating pasta while watching the sun set along the canals of Venice.
It’s true that sometimes what takes my mind back there is a tourist on the street chatting away who says something about “la foto” and I fall in love with the perfect male/female disagreement in that statement. And sometimes when I’m stressed by work and my skin shows it I long for a week by the lake in Perugia again, because I never washed my face properly and I was sweating all the time, but somehow my skin looked perfect and smooth and you could wear a sundress without freezing your buns off, too.
But usually it is a glass of white wine on someone’s deck, or the sounds and smell of the espresso machine, or a tiny little fried doughnut that takes me back to a time in my life that continues to shape my perspectives to this day.
So naturally, I am a HUGE fan of a favorite both here and abroad….la Nutella. The best crepe I ever had was at an Ikea store in Italy, and Nutella was the star of the show. I am getting to that point in my life where I feel guilty just eating it…but I have been known to consume whole (tiny) jars (that double as juice glasses) in one sitting with a bag of pretzels.
Instead of just eating it plain, I find myself incorporating it into whatever I can. Nutella and banana sandwich? Sounds good. Nutella-peanut butter cookies for the holidays? I brought them to three separate events last year. Nutella toffee brownies? Diabetes in a pan, but they are always a crowd-pleaser. Oh and there’s a cafe near the train station that serves a Nutella latte…but I only take the train on holidays when the cafe is closed. It’s on my SF bucket list to try that thing out though.
On a rational level, I know Nutella is not any every day food and that it’s kind of terrible for you (like most things, if you over do them), but my mind can never say no to it. (This is why I hide the Nutella behind all my canned tomatoes.) I think it’s because Nutella is associated with so many things that are all wrapped up together…first it was this weird thing that this super posh girl I knew fed me once on some bread at her house (in my house, we had sugar toast, but this girl spoke French so it seemed natural that she ate differently too), then it was something I ate on crepes in college…then I ate it with pretzels when I was stuck indoors with a broken foot in a foreign land for a month. It’s a symbol of what I had yearned to become as a child – cosmopolitan and always exploring new things – and a part of a culture that I love, and comfort food to boot.
Living in a foodie mecca like San Francisco, I have the opportunity to try new tastes and cuisines all the time. I’ve grown to like the sour taste of Ethiopian inerja, I can kind of cook thai curry now, and I’ve discovered that I can eat a lot of El Salvadorian pupusas. But it is only when I have an experience or a memory to tie food to that I really love it.
What’s one of your favorite dishes or confections? What memory makes you love it so much? I’m curious to know.
Sometimes I wake up and want a hearty breakfast…but don’t want to pay to eat out. Or get dressed. Mostly the second thing. Well a few months ago I stumbled across a recipe for red potato and vegan chorizo hash and now it’s in my breakfast rotation about twice a month.
Generally I don’t make breakfast – too many delicious bakeries abound and I do love my carbs and coffee – so basically this is one of the only things I actually cook for breakfast.
Oh, and it’s vegan too! Vegan breakfast is wayyyyy difficult for me to find. I don’t like oatmeal or cereal, and almost all baked goods have butter and/or eggs in it. Eggs of all sorts are a cheap hot breakfast for most, too. Soy yogurt and fruit with coffee is my other usual breakfast.
If you want a hearty breakfast with leftovers for a few days, or have a bunch of weekend visitors to serve (vegan and non-vegan alike), then try this out! Even my “I only eat real meat” friends like this dish.
Recipe adapted from Veg News
- 1/4 c coconut oil
- 4 red potatoes, diced (any small potatoes will work)
- 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
- dash of dried rosemary
- dash of cumin
- dash of coriander
- dash of crushed red pepper
- 12 oz vegan chorizo (I use Trader Joe’s soy chorizo – it’s priced better than anything I find at the regular market or Whole Foods)
- 8-12 small tortillas
- about 1/4 cup vegan cheese (optional)
Heat up coconut oil over medium heat; add potatoes, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes.
Add onion, rosemary, coriander, and pepper. Stir and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are cooked through.
Lower heat and stir in soy chorizo; cook only until it is heated.
Next, heat up your tortillas real quick (10-15 seconds in the microwave will do) and shave some vegan cheese off the block (if you want and if you didn’t buy the preshredded kind).
To serve: heap some of that skillet-y goodness onto a tortilla and top with that soy cheese if you so please. Serve alongside some fruit juice and coffee and slowly let the morning unfold.
Now, if only I could find a good vegan scone recipe…my mornings would be complete!
JULY! It’s over already…funny how it takes a turn of the calendar to get you to realize that time marches on, and things move fast. I went to two very enjoyable barbeques, went to my cousin’s wedding (and saw my parents! yay!), hit up Renegade Craft Fair, worked a ton, and even managed to fit in a trip to ikea. Of course, I didn’t instagram any of that…
- I bought these shoes in Italy when I lived there. I finally decided to get rid of them – I never wear them any more, but was holding onto them because of the sentimental value. Of course, I have a ton of other things from that time that I am holding onto as well, so the shoes were not really necessary. I can say that these shoes were one of the catalysts that really got me interested in sneakers though.
- Showing my pride for my favorite country…USA! USA! USA!
- My room got a major deep cleaning…more on that later. Let’s just be impressed with how tidy everything is!
- Someone snagged me some flowers from a work event and left them on my desk. So pretty!
- The view of Oakland from BART. People complain about public transit all the time (myself included), but I still love a good long train ride. It gives you time to think and reflect, it gives you plenty of people to observe, and it gives you plenty of landscapes to inspire you. Not too shabby for a $5 bill.
- Cod and fagioli! I fashioned my own little recipe and it was delish. Sometimes I wish I had more people to cook for – making things like this take a good amount of time and when I’m only cooking for myself it doesn’t seem worth the effort on a regular basis.
- Apparently my penchant for sneakers has come full circle…snagged myself a pair of the new Nike Flyknit shoes!
- My neighborhood has FINALLY gotten a frozen yogurt shop! And they have the cutest branding!
May has come and gone in a big, food-filled blur…this month I’m definitely going to have to learn how to eat out less…or at least cook at home and eat in the sun!
- I renewed my love for consuming books via the San Francisco Public Library — seriously the best library system I’ve used. I read The China Study and started a book about Bay Area sports legends and Rob Lowe’s autobiography.
- My friends and I went to Japanese Heritage Night at the Giants. The bleachers are the best seats in the house – the cheap price means more money for fries and beer!
- I went to Alamo Square with some friends. The park is most famous for being in the intro credits to Full House.
- We had some Mondrian-inspired fun…mini photo shoot.
- My allergies knocked me OUT. I missed two days of work due to them, and took a renewed interest in my health as a result.
- Driving through Pac Heights reminded me that in San Francisco, summer starts in May. Just look at that view.
- I celebrated 3 years with a lucky dude.
- Other than vegan cookies, this avocado-tomato-spinach-bean-quinoa-cilantro salad was my favorite new recipe find of the month. I think I need a new name for it though.
- I took some time to get re-acquainted with all of the urban wonders of downtown San Francisco.
- Patterns and pillows…what’s not to love?
- My new job has enabled me to continue my obsession with post-it notes.
- Sometimes you gotta treat yo’ self…I was really missing Italy.
I’m pretty sure the month’s photos are a mix of food obsession and declaring my love for the City by the Bay. And since San Francisco is a food destination, it’s basically just one big love letter to the city that I’ll willingly pay half of my paycheck to live in – I’ve traded in a car and most of my disposable income budget to do this, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Nutritionally, I wavered between hyper-vigilant and careless/lazy on the whole vegan diet. It’s so easy to just care about convenience and taste when eating out — but when I am at home I’ve gotten pretty good at making vegan meals. I didn’t buy meat, eggs, or dairy at the super market in May! Most of that would-be expense went into lots of beans, vegetables, and the latest “treat yo self” splurge – soy yogurt.
Work was pretty tumultuous and I had a hard time striking a good work/life balance — but I’m okay with that for now. I’m still young and change — good and bad — excites me. I’m nowhere near satisfied with where my life is (not that I’m incredibly unhappy – it’s just that no 24 year-old feels like they have established a solid career, life, etc) but as long as there is change, there is hope that I can grow and change and things can move in the right direction. It’s hard to remember, but life has shown me time and again that every disappointment and rejection has led to something better…sometimes it can take months or years to see it though.
On the plate for June:
- At least one run at batch cooking and freezing meals (I don’t know why but freezing my own food seems weird)
- Finishing the last of my Paper Gatti red tape (I’m so sick of lines at institutions right now)
- My dad’s birthday/father’s day
- A trip down the coast to see my family
- the Northern California Soy & Tofu Festival (okay that was last weekend, but it happened in June!)
- Reading 3 more books
- Get a haircut – last one was in October
- Run or walk at least twice a week – allergies kept me indoors too much in May
If you follow me on twitter, then you already know that I celebrated an anniversary on Monday. I know I don’t talk about him much, but the Dude as I call him and I have been dating for three years!
It’s kind of crazy to think about where we were three years ago and where we are now. I’m so grateful for all of his love and support, especially in the past few months as I’ve taken on more with work, with my community life, and with this blog and my dreams. As much as I like to cook, he always makes sure that I’ve got something to eat if I’m too tired/stressed/broke/busy to fix dinner. It might not always be what I want to eat, but hey, I appreciate the fact that he won’t let me starve!
Speaking of food, we decided to celebrate by doing something a little different and eating at a new restaurant. I usually have a difficult time getting the Dude to try new things (still can’t get him to enter a strictly vegetarian establishment) but we both had a really fun time eating new food!
We went to Dosa in the Mission district. Dosa specializes in Southern Indian cuisine, including the dosa which is essentially a savory lentil crepe. I’ve been to Dosa on Fillmore before – my uncle introduced me to it when he came to San Francisco. His family is from the southern part of India and according to him, most of the Indian restaurants you see in California are North Indian and/or Pakistani — which not only has different flavors, but also totally different dishes. At any rate, the last time I had a dosa was almost two years ago (I remember because the World Cup was going on…my how time flies!) so I was totally ready to try them again!
We started out with some celebratory drinks and some chip-like crackers.
I was starving so we tried out a chaat (small plate) of pani puri. It’s an Indian street food snack and you have to carve a hole out of the puff balls and stuff it yourself — playing with your food brings out the kid in all of us! I was surprised at how much the Dude liked assembling his food.
We got the masala dosa……this thing was HUGE! Twice as big as your average french crepe. The Dude loves crepes so I knew this wouldn’t be a hard sell once I actually got one to the table. We ate this thing up and it was soooooooooo good. The masala inside had so many layers of flavor and the sauces that came with it just really brought it over the top.
This is the poppyseed prawn curry. One of the main differences in South Indian curries, I found out, is the use of coconut milk. It gives them a much lighter flavor and, in my opinion, is a cross between the Thai curry and Indian curry that one typically finds in California. It was a little bit spicy, which went well with the coconut rice.
One of the great things about Indian fare is that it is practically vegan by default. A lot of dishes are made without meat, and the ones that are never feature the meat as the main ingredient. I went ahead and ate the prawns in our curry because I haven’t had them in ages, but it would have tasted just as good without them!
It looked like the sun is blazing into the restaurant, but truth be told…the fog has finally come back (my flat hair is a major indicator). I’m hoping that it will make my allergies calm down a little bit, because my sinuses are KILLING me!
Happy Monday blog friends! I have some happy business news to report: my fictitious business name papers have gone through! Yay! I’m beginning to really see the light at the end of the red-tape tunnel.
In the process of doing all this, I’ve lost a little bit of my focus on actually creating things — or rather, I just haven’t spent much time in production. In addition to the stresses of life (I seem to have more than the usual amount lately – boo) I’ve spent some time trying to stop being impatient (you can waste a lot of time agonizing over when some paperwork will go through) and just go with the flow. This is great sometimes, but not when you’re trying to hold down a full time job AND start a business on the side. Oh, and I took up a semi-vegan lifestyle, which has led to an endless amount of blog and recipe surfing — a huge, albeit enlightening, time suck.
I have gotten some great meals out of it though: in addition to the tofu lettuce wraps I made (twice) last week, I’ve found a recipe for amazingly delicious chewy vegan chocolate chip cookies (my vegan life is now complete), I found my new favorite vegan big breakfast recipe – potatoes and soyrizo, I found a way to make cold quinoa that I like (mostly I just cook and use it like rice), and I haven’t cooked with meat, eggs, or dairy in a couple of weeks.
My latest internet time-suck? Methods of batch cooking and freezing meals. This idea seems to be really popular amongst the mom-blogging world — and for good reason, putting dinner on the table for 4+ people every day is a lot of work — but it can be adapted to any household size and diet. Basically you pick a day and all you do is cook and freeze meals…it’s quite the operation.
I’ve become interested in this for a few reasons: first, it would make it a lot easier to make a healthful food choice when I’m not in the mood to actually cook. Right now my go-to lazy meal is a big ol’ salad piled high with vegetables and a homemade dressing with flax seed meal mixed in…not necessarily a bad choice, but not necessarily something I want to eat three times a week. The other downside to this is I don’t have leftovers to take for lunch the next day (this lazy cook lives off of leftovers), which makes it tempting to just eat out…where it’s harder to make vegan food choices. This directly relates to another appealing point of batch cooking…the cost.
Eating out will ALWAYS be more expensive than cooking at home, it’s as simple as that! But I am trying not to give myself free reign at the grocery store, either — convenience foods, trying something new, and other impulse buys can add up. Eating whole, fresh foods can sometimes be less expensive and sometimes more expensive, but in general they are all perishable — stocking up on whatever is on sale (2 for 1 berries!) is difficult to do if you don’t start cooking and/or freezing them, because they will go bad and throwing food out sucks. I figure that if I can buy things that are on sale and make a bunch of it, I can save some money AND if I’m planning out meals better and have some pre-made meals in the freezer, I’ll avoid all of the unnecessary eating out. That way I can save my eating out budget for more meaningful things, like catching up with friends or celebrating a birthday.
Lastly, cooking ahead saves time. As I really start to ramp up the side business, I have a feeling I’ll find myself with less and less time to spend in the kitchen each evening. I’m okay with that, as long as I’m not eating food that makes me feel like crud.
I’ve never been much of a freeze-your-food fan – currently my freezer houses things like ice, bags of frozen fruits and veggies, ice cream, and “desperation meals” aka boxes of Lean Cuisines – so I’m planning to make a few recipes and freeze them and see how it goes! Maybe the freezer and I will become friends!
What’s your take on leftovers and freezing food? Do you live off of leftovers, or always crave new tastes and flavors? Do you have a different cost/time efficient way of making food? I’d love to hear about it!
In college, my roommates loved going to PF Chang’s. They really loved the lettuce wraps, the mongolian beef, and the fried banana rolls, and once they introduced me to it there was no going back to a time where I didn’t know what lettuce wraps were. There was no PF Chang’s in Berkeley, so taking some time to drive outside the city limits and pretend that we weren’t starving college students was always rejuvenating!
The other day I saw some butter lettuce in the produce section of the grocery store, and I knew that I had to make some lettuce wraps – veganized, of course.
I wasn’t in the mood to totally cook up my own sauces and flavors, so I ended up with a recipe that is really easy to execute on a weeknight, or any other time you’re feeling like a crisp, flavorful dinner. The water chestnuts really give this the texture that I remember from my college days!
Adapted from this recipe. Vegan modifications made by me.
- 8 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves (PF Chang’s uses iceberg but I find that it’s too rigid.)
- 1/2 package extra firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup soy ginger sauce (I used Whole Foods brand because I was feeling lazy, but you could make your own with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and rice vinegar)
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely shredded or shaved
- Wrap tofu in an absorobent towel, then place on a plate and weigh down the top with another plate. We’re trying to squeeze the extra water out.
- Rinse whole head of lettuce and remove leaves individually. Pat eac one dry and set on a towel to soak up extra moisture – be careful not to tear them!
- Cube up the tofu into small pieces. I took the tofu and smashed it up a little to get it to resemble more of a “ground beef” look – this also helps it hold onto spices, etc better.
- In a skillet, heat up oil. Add mushrooms and tofu. (You could sub a chopped onion for the mushrooms if you wanted to.) Add soy-ginger sauce and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts. Let it all cook for a couple of minutes – some of the water from the tofu and chestnuts will cook out.
- Arrange lettuce leaves on plate/platter, and put the tofu mixture in a bowl. To serve, add the tofu mixture in the center of a leaf of lettuce like a taco. Add shredded carrots, and drizzle hoisin sauce over the top. Wrap the leaf around like a taco or burrito and enjoy!
I’ve got a confession: I’m not really a fan of cooking right now.
Yesterday for dinner I made sweet potato fries and burnt them; and to top it all off the oven made the temp in my apartment go up a bajillion degrees. (I may be exaggerating a tiny bit.)
So when I stumbled upon this recipe from The Endless Meal for Roasted Corn and Avocado Salad, I decided to use the oven one last time while it was still warm…ahaha.
In the original posting the author warned that she couldn’t help herself from eating all. of. it. and neither could I! I made myself squirrel away one serving to put in my lunch tomorrow, but after that it was ALL gone.
I made some modifications based on what I had in my kitchen, so the following is a list of the ingredients that I used:
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup white onion, diced
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- Dressing: juice from 1/2 large lemon
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon tapatio sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
I roasted the corn in the oven for 15 minutes and while doing that I whisked up the dressing, then chopped the celery and tomato and I threw those in with the dressing. I had some pre-diced onions in the fridge so I didn’t have to spend time doing that and just threw them in!
I also thawed the edamame and then mixed that in as well. I chose to add the edamame to add some more texture (I didn’t have any sweet and crunchy bell peppers) as well as some protein.
The original recipe calls for mint in the dressing, but I don’t like mint that much and the store was all out of cilantro — so I went with parsley.
Once I was done roasting the corn I let it cool for a couple of minutes, and then I took the corn and the avocado and mixed them all in.
Boom, done. Delicious.
Food like this is the reason why I’m totally okay with adopting a vegan diet as often as I can. Fresh fruits and veggies with a little kick of pepper and lemon…who doesn’t want more of that?? (Okay I have met people who don’t prefer this kind of food, but growing up a farmer’s daughter I gotta say the only thing better than this is, obviously, chocolate.)
Now I need to come up with a dessert that satisfies my constant craving for carbs that doesn’t require baking…because that totally isn’t happening tonight. I don’t think I’m turning the oven on for the next week!
What are your favorite things to eat when the weather’s warm or you’re feeling lazy?
Favorite vegan thing: Cinnaholic cinammon rolls
Non-vegan thing I’m craving: Sour cream on everythingggg
Last restaurant I ate vegan in: Little Dehli (Indian food is almost vegan by default!)
It’s been two weeks since my last vegan update. I’d like to say that it’s because vegan eating has become an integral part of my life and I don’t have much to say about it anymore; but of course that isn’t true.
I keep finding myself “cheating” on more than one occasion. One day I forgot to make breakfast and decided to eat a cheese danish rather than pay twice as much for oatmeal at the coffee shop. (I might have done that two days in a row.) I’ll throw in some mayo because I didn’t have any vegan mayo, and pretty soon I feel like I’ve compromised the whole thing.
On my non-vegan days, I did not stick to my guns and eat balanced…and found myself popping some Tums. As a result, I no longer feel great…in fact, I kind of feel bloated and icky. Not fun.
In addition to this, I’ve made some vegan discoveries that aren’t exactly waistline-friendly. Don’t get me wrong — I’m so excited that there are people out there catering to the sweet tooth of vegans. I don’t know why the food marketplace has to be overwhelmingly terrible in this department! But like all sweets you gotta do everything in moderation.
The cinnamon buns from Cinnaholic are really good by any dietary standard…seriously, SO yum. And everything they make is vegan! If you find yourself in Berkeley, check it out! There’s soy milk in a case by the counter in case you want something to wash it down with as well =)
The next day I had Bi-Rite chocolate coconut ice cream. I don’t like coconut at all so I was pretty skeptical, but after a couple of bites I didn’t even notice the coconut — I assume that coconut “milk” is the base which is why the flavor isn’t that strong, but the ice “cream” is vegan? I guess the main difference between this and regular ice cream is the melt factor — the vegan stuff melts pretty fast. I kind of liked the texture better because it wasn’t so hard — my teeth are kind of sensitive to cold.
Luckily, I’ve made some more healthful discoveries as well. I tried soy yogurt for the first time — and didn’t hate it. I never really loved traditional American yogurt but it definitely helps that this variety doesn’t make my stomach hurt…haha. I think that dairy products are going to be the most difficult thing for me to stop wanting though — I hate milk but looooove cheese, sour cream, cheesecake, etc.
More often than not I can convince myself that smothering something in cheese isn’t a good idea because it adds fat and cholesterol to my diet and has the potential to make my tummy hurt a little (oh yay mild lactose intolerance). I also remind myself that there are long-term health implications as well, but to be honest it’s hard to realize the potential impacts in that moment…why oh why is it so difficult to reconcile these things? At any rate, it’s really difficult to replicate the creamy taste and texture of diary, which is why it’s so difficult to give up!