Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Adventures in Pasta

Pasta Maker
In the years before I began a plant based diet, I frequently made pasta. I used the hand cranked pasta maker in the picture to make regular, whole wheat, spinach and herb pastas. They included ravioli, spaghetti, linguine, and lasagna.  One thing they all had in common was the use of eggs. Today was my first attempt at making a vegan pasta.  I also used semolina flour for the first time. In place of the eggs, I used my go to mix of ground flaxseed, starch, oil, baking powder and water. This dough was exceptionally dry.  I used much more water than the recipe called for and still could not get the dough pliable enough to roll through the pasta maker.  I had to roll it out by hand and cut it into pieces. This left a pasta that was much thicker than the traditional Italian style pasta.
Pasta Pieces 
After boiling it, the pasta reminded me of spaetzel. It was good, just not the texture I was going for. I don't know it the difference was because of the fake egg or the semolina flour.  I will have to experiment with this further.  The sauce I made for the pasta used a garlic and olive blend that sauteed grated carrots, green onion and broccoli.  I added some red wine, honey, and dijon to the simmer sauce.  This was a good lunch.

For dinner I did my own take on Chicken and Waffles.  I made a waffle mix with semolina flour and yeast, that rose during the afternoon.  I do not have a waffle maker, so I spread the mixture in a square grill pan and roasted it until crispy.
The waffle was not sweet and tasted like it had some cornmeal in it (it did not.)  I did a stir fry for the 'chicken' part. I cooked some red cabbage, yellow squash, and sugar snap peas in sesame oil.  I had a sauce with broth, sherry and rice starch. I added some seitan in place of the chicken. Everything looks a little purple because of the red cabbage.
'Chicken' and Waffles
At the end of the day I made some Whole Wheat Bread Sticks for tomorrow.  They used equal parts whole wheat flour and wheat germ with some nut milk, coconut oil and a little bit of yeast.  The sticks were rolled in sesame seeds before baking.
Bread sticks

It's Bananas

Banana Froyo
Did lots of cooking with bananas today.  I started the morning with a homemade banana frozen yogurt.  I blended a frozen banana with some soy strawberry frozen yogurt. The picture does not do it justice.  It had a very creamy texture and that frozen yogurt taste.
Chocolate Pudding
The chocolate pudding I made yesterday was ready to eat today. It turned out great. Very chocolaty, good texture and nice pudding taste.  Using cornstarch thickened it up very nicely. 
Banana Bread
I made two different loaves of Banana Bread.  The first one used a mix of white flour and oat flour. I went a little nonvegan with it.  The recipe called for dry milk and I still had some on hand.  I think I have had that package for a few years.   But that's the purpose of dry milk right?  It doesn't go bad.  This loaf rose up really well and tasted great.
Whole wheat Banana Bread
The second loaf was made with whole wheat flour, two fake eggs instead of one, and a half cup more of walnuts.  No dry milk in this.  If did not rise up as much and looks like a much more dense and heavy loaf.  I did not taste this one.  It is going in the freezer for another day.
I used the first loaf for lunch to take a peanut butter sandwich with orange marmalade. Very filling.

Dinner was comfort food time. I had leftover refried beans topped with mashed potatoes and brown gravy on a bed on spinach.  I can eat stuff like this all day.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Milk

Mixed Nut Milk

I like trying new products and today at the grocery I found two new types of non dairy beverages.  One is a mix of almond, cashew and hazelnuts.  The other is a sunflower milk.  Most of these 'milks' taste the same to me.  However, the sunflower had a distinctive smell and taste.  I used it to make a Wild Rice Soup. Onions were sauteed in vegetable oil and flour was added. Then I added veggie stock, a little at time, to make a thick sauce.  This was added to a mix of already cooked wild rice, almonds and shredded carrots. Then the sunflower milk was added with a little sherry and parsley.  I cooked it until it was thick.
Wild Rice Soup
A side salad of spinach, mango salsa, and black olives with thousand island dressing and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast accompanied the soup.  We had some tortilla chips for a little crunch.
After dinner I made some Chocolate Pudding with the mixed nut milk. The pudding used unsweetened chocolate, cocoa, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla in addition to the milk.  This was all cooked on the stove top.
Pudding ready to be chilled
The pudding is cooling overnight so I will get to try it tomorrow.
Sunflower Milk

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Date Day

After being up until the early AM from the midnight run, Tommy and I sleep in late.  We have not done that in a long time.  First order of business was to take the dogs to Pooches and Purrs for daycare and baths.  They were fluffy and nice smelling when we got them back in the evening.
Pear Melon White Tea

Then it was off to Brunch at Teavolve.  It has been a couple of months since we ate there. I started off with a pot of Pear Melon White Tea.  The melon flavor was dominant - it was like drinking a hot honey dew melon. One of the reasons we love Teavolve is for their Red Sangria.  The drink is made with roobios tea and for my tastes, the best sangria in Baltimore.  Also, it is half price by the pitcher at brunch.
Red Sangria

Teavolve is also vegan friendly.  The soup of the day was a Tomato Rice Soup made without cream.  The tomato flavor is more intense without the dairy.

The soup was followed by the Marinated Tofu Salad with a warm, spicy vinaigrette. These two items were enough to fill me up, especially with all the liquids.
Tofu Salad
After a lingering 2 hours of food and drink, we wandered into Harbor East for some shopping.  Tommy needed some new athletic shoes, so we headed into the Underarmour store.  He now has some florescent yellow shoes for the gym.  While we were there, we added a tee shirt and a sweatshirt. Next up was Urban Chic to replace Tommy's jeans that disintegrated a weeks ago.  I added in a sweater for myself.  A pair of socks at City Sports finished the shopping.

After all that shopping, we needed a drink.  Of course, we headed to Wit & Wisdom.  Tommy love the Japanese scotch and the wine choices are always great.  While we were, we ran into some friends who were doing a wine tasting.  We had the chance to have a drink with them before heading out to pick up the dogs.
Wit & Wisdom

A few days ago in the Highlandtown area, a woman was stabbed to death during a home invasion.  One of the FB entries I read while at Wit & Wisdom mentioned that she was a bartender at Shiso Tavern.  We have a favorite bartender there that was about the same age and we were worried that the victim was her.  We always sit at the bar and she takes good care of us.  There was a huge sigh of relief when we walked in and she was tending bar.  The victim worked there part time and was not someone we had seen before.  After talking about what happened, we had some dinner.
I started with  the vegetarian sushi.  Tofu and veggies are on the inside and cucumber is wrapped around the seaweed.
Miso Soup

The sushi was followed by Miso Soup.
Spring Rolls

The last dish was some Vegetable Spring Rolls with a spicy sweet and sour sauce.  After that it was time to go home.  All in all, this was a great Date Day.  It is nice to have a relaxing day with no obligations. We rarely eat out these days, so it makes a day like today so much better.
Make it so Number One - Tommy in the Captain's chair

Midnight Run

I had the chance to take part in a fun event on Friday night.  Brooks shoe company held 5 release parties around the country to introduce the new Transcend running shoe.  Charm City Run was one of the stores participating.  Everyone got to wear a demo pair of the shoes and go on a 3.83 mile run at 11:30 pm.  The shoe was available for sale after midnight.  

When I signed up for the event, the temp was supposed to be around 40.  Of course, that did not work out as it ended up being slightly below freezing. The race length was supposed to be 3.83 miles.  There were not any maps for the run since most of it followed the promenade.  However different people took slightly differently routes.  I am a slow runner and lost sight of the leaders on the way to the promenade.  The way I took to get there involve going down some slippery steps.  The frontrunners were already looping around and passing my entry point.  When I headed back, I followed the path they took.  When I did a route, I did 3.88 miles.   There were 6 people behind me at the turn around point and five got back to the store before me, but they never passed me on the route. According to the organizer, I took the correct route coming back, but it was a little longer. Anyway, I did the run in 47 minutes at a 12.07 pace.  That was good for me.  I did my last 5 K at a 11:57 pace but it was warmer and this was over a half mile longer.  My lungs were burning when I finished.

I thought the shoe was okay.  The fushia strip going around the shoe acts as a guide rail to give you greater stability.  Half way into the run I started having a pain on top of my left foot.  I have several hot spots of pain because of my broken ankle many a year ago, however this was not one of them.  The shoe was also wider than I am accustomed to.  As a result, my feet bumped into each other several time.  Luckily, the bumps were not enough to make me trip and fall.  I am happy with my much cheaper Nikes.  I do like the idea of being able to test run a shoe.  I had run 2 miles before my foot started hurting.  I would have never known it would be uncomfortable during a regular store try on. I wish I could do that with all shoes.