Saturday, December 31, 2011

So long, 2011!

 This year has been one of ups and a few downs.

I know that sounds a wee bit cliche, but it's totally true. Let's start with the ups, simply because there are more things about this year that were great.

In January, I made it my goal to become serious about running. Running has been the bane of my existence since I was born. It's not that I was out of shape or incredibly overweight, though. I grew up on the back of a horse, which is a workout on its own, but it didn't afford me the time or motivation to run. In high school, I ran something like 20 minute miles. Can you even call that running?
(in the gray, I look like this all the time while running) 

So, I signed up for a bunch of races after completing a 5k in October 2010. Every single one of those races proved to me that I COULD run, after all. I ran a total of 9 races (one of those a pure fundraising effort, but it counts!). 9! My longest distance is a 10k, my fastest mile was the first mile of Pints to Pasta, my fastest race was the Hot Buttered Run. Each race had their own awesome attributes and I plan to run a couple of them (if not all!) again this year.
 A fellow runner at the Run Like Hell. Yeah, he beat me wearing that suit!

So, in 2012, I will be running my first half marathon on May 20th. I am excited and scared and worried. If you came from my background, you would be feeling all those feelings too.

In 2011, Jeff and I also made our return to Europe, approximately a billion years before I thought it would happen again. And it was glorious, my friends. In Belgium alone we tried 20 different beers. In three days. I don't think we even tried to keep count in Germany, but it was also fantastically full of beer. We met some fantastic people, ate delicious food and had such a wonderful time, I can't wait to go back.
(multiply this photo by a million, you have our beer tour)

And, in 2012, we're planning on going back! We'll be starting in Norway and working our way through Scotland, London and Ireland. My sweet friend Nicole wants to be in London on her birthday, so we will happen to be in Europe on our wedding anniversary. What an excellent way to spend it, in my opinion.

As for the bad, well, they're not that bad. We struggled with money more times that I like to admit, but so does everyone. I got laid off (AGAIN) but then I found another job, working in a vet rehab clinic, surrounded by beautiful animals and great people. I struggled with my weight, but it's my own doing as I drink beer like it's water and can't lay off the cookies.

Let's make 2012 a great one, shall we?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

30 Days Of Books, Days 5-8

So, remember when I attempted to start the 30 Days of Books Meme in an attempt to post every day? Yeah. Here's days 5-8.

Day 05 – A book that makes you happy
Jane Eyre, I just love the Brontes.

Day 06 – A book that makes you sad
 The Green Mile. Every time I read it, I cry!

Day 07 – Most underrated book
 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Sure, it starts slow but then WHAM! It hits you with its thrilling plot and amazing characters.

Day 08 – Most overrated book
Do I even have to say Twilight?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

30 Days of Books, 4 Days Late.

I decided to fill out this book meme that's been floating around, seen here. As an English major and granddaughter to rabid book collector, books hold a special place in my heart. I will start with Days 1-4.

Day 01 – The best book you read last year

This might sound ridiculous, but Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. I carried it with me through Europe and read it on the trains and I just loved her writing style. Sometimes the "pray" bit of it annoyed me, but that's because I am rude.

Day 02 – A book that you’ve read more than 3 times
Oh jeez, probably Stephen King's The Stand. I get sucked in every. single. time.

Day 03 – Your favourite series
Can I say A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) if I'm not finished with it? I'm not a huge reader of serials. I loved the Wheel of Time when I was younger, but I don't know if that counts as favorite.

Day 04 – Favourite book of your favourite series.
Book two of the series above - A Clash of Kings. I had a tough time getting into the first book but the second one had me obsessed. 

The Past Few Weeks, Condensed

Thanksvegan came and went. Exactly two pictures were taken. Here is one.
My seitan roast looks like a slug.
I had a nasty cold (as you can tell above!) and many friends swooped in, took over cooking and saved the night, even if it was a little chaotic. There were many bottles of wine and beer consumed and lots of warm company. I was pretty out of it for most of the night, but I had a lovely time. I even teared up while thanking everyone for coming out.

The menu:
Seitan roulade with basic stuffing
Boatloads of non-lumpy gravy
Harvest stuffed mushrooms
Quinoa salad with sweet potatoes, kale and dried cranberries
Maple roasted brussel sprouts with toasted hazelnuts
Super amazingly delicious mashed potatoes
Fat Free Vegan's green bean casserole
New Farm Mac (requested by SEVERAL guests!)
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Potstickers with dipping sauce
Boston cream (cake) pie
Pumpkin cheezecake with caramel and chocolate sauce
Pumpkin pie with Biscoff crust
Pumpkin walnut muffins

We were not hurting for lack of food! I ate leftovers all of this past week.

The day after Thanksvegan, I ran my fastest 5k ever (which is not really that fast, but hey, whatever). As you can see in the first two pictures, I still look AWFUL from that damn cold. I felt better by the end, though.

Finally, a slice of pizza I enjoyed while Christmas shopping today. At Oasis Cafe on Hawthorne, you can build your own vegan slices. This had mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and Daiya.

Back to writing papers (it's finals week!) and zoning out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksvegan 3.0

Three years ago I decided to adopt a vegan diet. Here is the blog I wrote on Myspace (WAT) when I made the decision:

Jeez. Two blogs in a week. 

So I'm making a big change to my life. It'll be somewhat gradual, but very needed.

I'm turning vegan.

I'm finding that I eat when I'm bored. I eat when I'm watching tv. I think about food almost constantly and I eat way more than I should. Some of it is healthy, some is not. All of it is making me unhappy.

Let's take french fries. If done right, they are food from heaven. Crispy and hot on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside. A little salt, a little ketchup. Yum. The bad thing about this wonder food is that it's really not good for you. At all. And I will eat fries at any time, whether I'm hungry or not. I try to talk myself out of them at Burgerville but they end up sneaking into my bag anyways. Jeff and I will order a plate to split and I'm seriously upset when they're gone.

When I cook dinner, I always take more than I should and then extra bites when I'm putting it away for lunch the next day. Last night I made this squash & pasta dish (vegan, starting in already) and I ate too much. My tummy felt like Thanksgiving had come early. I need to stop.

Why go vegan? I've been veggie for about 4 years now - if I count back Thanksgivings, my first non-turkey day was at Florin's house in 2004. I get sick if I eat too much cheese and ice cream. If I eat too many veggies, it will have a less negative effect than if I eat too much mac 'n' cheese. Veganism will help me avoid places like Burgerville as I'd have to place some special order and nobody likes that. I can still take in the main staple of our household dinners: pasta. And this will encourage me to experiment with seasonings and unknown veggies. 

But what about protein, you ask. Veggies have protein. I like tofu and that has protein. My soy milk that I've been using since I found that I couldn't drink milk has protein. I love peanut butter, luna bars (vegan!) and black beans. 

This doesn't mean I can continue to stuff my face to the gills. I obviously need help with portions and will power. If that takes brushing my teeth after dinner, drinking two glasses of water before I eat and packing up leftovers before I start eating, then I'll do it. I'm just finding that my current way of eating has too many loopholes, too many opportunities to eat badly.

Is this a forever thing? I don't know. I don't miss meat, at all. I tried some of Jeff's chicken and I didn't feel like I was missing out. In fact, I didn't like the taste. I do like sushi, but there are plenty of non-fishy options there. But damn I'll miss my grilled cheese.

Oh, and beer is vegan.

Obviously, I've grown since I wrote that! I've learned not ALL beer is vegan, and I don't actually miss grilled cheese. I still have an issue with overeating, but I think it's more emotional than anything.

I'm celebrating my third year of veganism with my third annual Thanksvegan. I'll share the menu after the event, as I feel this is long enough, but it is fantastic.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Native Foods comes to Portland! Er, Tigard!

Outer SW Portland is not exactly a desert when it comes to vegan options, but it doesn't compare to closer-in parts of the city like downtown, SE or NE. We proudly hold Green Wok, Laughing Planet, Barbur World Foods, Sweet Lemon (technically in Beaverton, but still) in our cold little hands and now we have Native Foods (technically in Tigard, BUT STILL).

Thanks to a super special friend, I was able to go to the soft opening yesterday and gorge, I mean try out, a bunch of dishes Native Foods has to offer. I took my friend Jill and here is our spread.
 Saigon Roll with DELICIOUS peanut sauce. These tasted so fresh!
Sweet Potato Taquitos. These are much better when they're hot, but the filling was perfect.
Classic Deli Reuben. True story - my only experience with a Reuben was a pizza my mom used to bring home. I would scrape the sauerkraut off  into the bushes outside. That little story means I just had to try this, right? The sauerkraut here wasn't overwhelming and the seitan was amazing.
 Portobello and Sausage Burger. Jill's burger! I love portobellos. And vegan sausage. A win in my book. Right after I took this Jill scraped the lettuce and tomatoes off :-)
 $2 Ninkasi! Also, their menu says local beers, and most are from Oregon, with the exception of 21st Amendment, which is from San Francisco. That's me just being beer picky, though.
 Chocolate Love Pie. The chocolate mousse and crust were fantastic, the nuts on top....meh.
Peanut Butter Parfait. Oh my god, party in my mouth.

And that includes my oh-so-professional review of Native Foods! I plan on going again on Wednesday and trying something else, but WHAT?!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

And Then We Came to the End.

I don't want to say I failed at MoFo this year.

I blogged plenty about delicious vegan food. I made it to 16 posts, or 4/5ths of the 20 post recommendation (please correct me if I have the math wrong. Me + numbers = disaster). I talked about MoFo and veganism to those in my daily life, especially at the new job. My coworkers are FASCINATED by what exactly I can eat, their only example being a girl who is on a raw vegan cleanse to lose a bunch of weight for a trip (and is pretty miserable).

On Halloween, I brought my coworkers cupcakes. Just the basic chocolate cupcakes and fluffy buttercream from VCTOTW, dyed green (I didn't have red to make orange!) and decorated with cute Halloween-y sprinkles. I brought in 12 and took home 2.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. The ladies kept telling me the cupcakes were delicious, and how in the world were they vegan?! I just smiled and said "oil and love."

I also dressed up this year as Luna Lovegood. My awesome friend Crystal channeled Bellatrix LeStrange.
Due to timing, I didn't get a tie. I also just realized my part is on the wrong side. And honestly, this is basically my costume from last year (zombie librarian) but without the zombie makeup.
I think next year I'll be something great, something that doesn't involve pulling clothes out of my closet and repurposing them for a costume.

Ok, on to some serious stuff.

Lately, I've been struggling a lot with my eating habits. It's not something that just appeared in my life, but rather a storm brewing just below the surface finally coming up to wreck the land.

One of the biggest issues is how much I'm eating. I don't want to say I'm binging, because I'm not sure that's what it is, but I've been eating really, really fast, continuing onto a second portion and eating that really fast. Late night trips for toast have also been exacerbating this problem. I've had alot of stomachaches as of late and I'm done. I've been trying to make less food to prevent it and slowing my intake down. I used to take FOREVER to eat a sandwich, now I just inhale my way through it. Not healthy. And those cupcakes I made? I took 12 to work, but had two at my house, before work, without even a thought as to "why am I eating these? Am I hungry?"

Another issue is how much bread I've been eating. I love bread. It's just so easy to have toast in the morning, a sandwich at lunch and a snack (or two) of toasted bread with PB. That's 5 pieces, easy, and I've definitely gone over that in a day. I've been attempting to limit my intake to two pieces a day and I believe it's helping. Please know this is not at attempt at low carb/low gluten intake or anything of the sort. I just don't think overdosing on bread helps anyone.

I think both of these issues of mine are being magnified by stress. I'm in school full time and working half time and I was just "promoted" to bookkeeper at my job. Darlings, I am excellent at AP, but since the old bookkeeper left in August this place is pure chaos. And I have no experience in half of what is being expected of me, so I'm struggling with growing pains.

Wish me luck! Tomorrow I plan on posting about a super special lunch I'm having today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 26 - MIA

Sorry darlings. I've had a lot of weird stuff going on including midterms, work and stress eating. This is a sort of a random post chronicling the past couple of days at all, not related to a theme AT ALL.

This past Sunday I ran the Run Like Hell 10k with some pretty awesome ladies. It was zombie themed and I totally meant to have a full costume, but makeup had to do. Libby did a spectacular job at zombie beer wench, though. This is my favorite photo from the day. I heart Portland.
The race had advertised vegetarian chili, so I was prepared to eat plain bread with bananas. Imagine my pure delight when we came across this sign. Race fuel is NEVER vegan!
 Annnnnnnd, just because.
The other day I tried the new tofu bahn mi sandwich at Hot Lips Pizza for lunch between classes. The herbs were very fresh but the sandwich was very, VERY plain. I was somewhat disappointed. It's better than pizza, though, right?
And then we get to tonight. Taco Bowl Wednesday. My unadorned bowl below: pink Madagascar rice (thanks to Vida Vegan Con!), refried beans and sauteed kale and tomatoes.
And here we have what I really eat. My new favorite thing (besides bbq soy curls!) is the melty cheez sauce from the Ultimate Uncheese cookbook. YUM.
On a final note, this is my new favorite beer from BridgePort Brewing the Kingpin Double Red. And I'm a blonde now.
Yes, I do wear that jacket all the time. It's cold in my house.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Day 21 - A Loosely Based Post on Scottish Food

Hello! Long time, no see! 
We are still continuing on the Scotland theme, but I must be very liberal when it comes to my interpretation. For example, fish and chips is not Scottish in origin. At least, not according to Wikipedia. Portland happens to be home to a cart called the Frying Scotsman, whose biggest sell is their fish and chips. So, I made beer battered tofu (from Vegan Brunch) and chips. That's the same, right?
I have to be honest, my tummy was extremely unhappy with this food choice, despite how delicious it was. I tried to think ahead and eat a big salad beforehand, but I suffer from an overeater type syndrome. As in, I overeat. I only had 3 of these triangles, but STILL. It's become apparent fried food does not belong in my cliquey stomach.

Our second dish of the week is Shepherd's Pie. But, instead of pulling from a traditional recipe, I bastardized the hell out of it, using up whatever was in my fridge.
Hiding underneath those delicious potatoes is delicata squash, summer squash, broccoli, mushroom, onion and corn. I made a gravy of equal parts EB and flour, coconut milk and soy sauce and baked the thing for 15 minutes. Seriously, you could anything in here, as long as it goes with potatoes. I served (myself) bbq soy curls, because I am an addict.

The final Scottish entry for today is the delicious beer I drank at Rogue between classes yesterday. Yes, I drink beer before class. I'm at school for 11 hours and have a rather large break at two, resulting in a visit to the Rogue pub ON campus. This beer is called McRogue Scotch Ale and it is delicious.
Tomorrow I'll be revisiting a vegan haggis! I tried one in Glasgow that I keep trying to replicate and yet fail. Well, not exactly fail. I mean, it's still tasty. It's just NOT THE SAME.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Day 19 - A Love Letter

Dear whiskey (whisky),

You warm my heart and soothe my soul.

There is nothing I can do without you by my side except drive or operate heavy machinery.

I don't spend too much time with you, but when I do we both have to agree it's pretty magical.
I would love to pay more for your love, but I am broke and sometimes I have to settle with Mr. Daniels or Mr. Williams. I hope you understand.
Thank you for delivering your smoky affection when I need it most.
Love, Me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 16 - Gnocchi! Fantastico!

Dear gnocchi,
You had me at potato.
Love, me.

It is no secret I am a fan of potatoes. My bar food of choice is fries. When dinner needs to be fast, I mash potatoes. They find their way into bowls and casseroles. The humble potato is this frugal vegan's drug of choice.

When I first bought Vegan with a Vengeance, I had only tried gnocchi once, and it was at Portobello. I knew I had to try and recreate it. It's incredibly easy to make, just a little time-consuming. But SO WORTH IT.

Last night I made it with a tomato pesto sauce and threw a salad on the side as I need to get SOME greens in me. It was delicious.
I've even had gnocchi in Italy. We took a train to Pisa and stopped into a little cafe for lunch. The gnocchi was amazing, but it was probably just because we were in Italy :-)

And on a random note, the baking powder biscuits in VWAV combined with Tofu Mom's white country gravy and caramelized onions is pure magic. I may have eaten some gravy with a spoon.
One more night of Italian goodness! Scotland is next on our tour.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 15 - Riiiiiiisotto.

Risotto was one of those dishes I didn't make (or really even try) until after I was vegan. I was officially hooked. I've never had the dairy laden version, but my sweet husband tells me mine is better. Neener neener.
During the the third MoFo, I actually wrote a recipe for carnival squash risotto, seen here. It still gets the most hits of all my posts, which I get a little bit excited about.

On Thursday night, I made another version of risotto out of my trattoria book, a baked tomato risotto.
It just sort of tasted like tomato-y rice. Not that it wasn't good, but come on! Risotto means creamy!

Tonight is Gnocchi Night. I am of the excitement.

Friday, October 14, 2011

MoFo Hump Day!!

 We're halfway there, and we have a theme song courtesy of ridiculously awesome vegan Leslie Hall. Look out world!

Have a listen here!

I eat the finest cuisines, in the finest of places
Stuff my mouth full and always say thank you.
But if it's raised in a cage, and it can't even move,
if it's hormone filled and in a bad mood.
I'm gonna pass on that.
Reach for something better.
The only milk I'll drink comes from the nipple of a soy bean.
Veggies make you live forever, and they seem to taste much better.
when they're cooked and grown with love.
So give a chef who knows what's up a hug.
Momma just can't seem to get it,
Papa he just rolls his eyes.
When I tell them I'm much healthier, they just say that it's all lies.
But beans, nuts, fruits and veggies can really fill the belly.
Get you vitamins you need, shiny hair and extra speed.
Don't take that meat-wich any further,
I want a marinated, deep fried, hand-tied mushroom burger.

I like it!

We gotta stand strong for our feathered furry sometimes scaly
animal friends and their little babies.
'Cuz I wouldn't want to live in a cage in a dark warehouse killed at an early age.
Pumped full of hormones, sleeping in my feces.
Never met my mother, raised by machines.
Never get sunshine never get green, but that's just me.

[That girl loves fruit leather.]

So ask us what we're eating.
Delicious and repeating, fruits and veggies are so nice.
With a slice of tempeh,  yes, I'll have that twice.

Don't forget the legumes!