Saturday, March 12, 2011

black-eyed Irish

When we came to check out what is now our new home, there was really only one thing that gave us a moment of hesitation.  As I'm sure you picked up, we were not enthusiastic about the restaurant/bar/nightclub that opened beneath our old home and annoyed us every single night until we moved.  So, we had a few qualms when we looked out the bedroom window of our new home and saw a bar.

Not just any bar... No, we find ourselves in the slightly unenviable position of living across the street from an Irish bar.  In March.

Thursday should be amazing.  You can't see completely, but it's a Jameson sign and it says "Get your Irish on with an Irish Ginger."  While I will admit I'm a little curious about an Irish Ginger, Jameson and I have tattered past, and although I'm Irish, I really don't dig the St. Patty's day bar scene.  Aside from the first St Patty's day after I turned 21 and my dad and I went to this nice local bar/restaurant and drank green things and no one spilled anything on us.

Anyway, I figure Irish folk and black eyes more or less go together like PB&J, so that should be a relatively good segue to our dinner: Pasta Shells with Black-eyed Peas and Artichokes from The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook.

This "Italian" dish had some of the most bizarrely matched ingredients.  I don't know if they even have caraway seeds in Italy - I'll have to look if Mister and I really do make it to Tuscany next year for our anniversary like we planned three and a half years ago.  In any case, I kind of feel like the only thing that made this dish "Italian" was the presence of pasta and the artichoke hearts.  We added a little southern charm with black-eyed peas and I'm not sure what the deal was with the smoked tofu, but you never have to ask me twice to include that stuff in a recipe!

It was an interesting result.  I thought it was a little bland at first and I thought Mister was probably going to play that old game of pushing things around his plate and trying to just eat the shells and artichoke hearts.  I ended up being quite wrong!  Mister had two and a half helpings and I had a little more as well, although I do think it benefited from the Mediterranean sea salt I sprinkled over top.  I don't know what I would do without that stuff, honestly.  Mister commented that it was creamy, yet a little acidic.  No good at keeping culinary secrets, I explained the creaminess came from the beans I had mashed into a paste and then combined with the vegetable broth to make a sauce, and I can imagine the acidity came from the apple cider vinegar.  Yes, of all the variations of vinegar in the world and on my shelf, this recipe wanted apple cider vinegar.  Another bizarre twist, if you ask me.

So, happy weekend!  I'm thrilled to be done with the week at work, even though I'm teaching tomorrow.  I've constructed this week's menu and I'm hoping that if I stop stalling and start cleaning up dinner, I can get to bed early enough that I can get up and go food shopping before lessons tomorrow.  Honestly, very little is more irritating than trying to do your grocery shopping near a major social hub on a Saturday night.  Besides, I'd rather spend my evening getting a jump on unpacking - I really want this weekend to see the end of unpacking so we can start spending our weekends actually enjoying our new a movie, just screw around on the computer without feeling like I should be doing something more productive, or *gasp* reading! 

You envy my exciting social life.

Wanna see the new menu?  It got an "OooH!" of approval from the Mister, so I must have done something right.  A lot of the recipes are from The Urban Vegan, so maybe he is as big a fan of Dynise as I am.  Truth be told, I haven't had the chance to test any new recipes since the moving process began and I found myself missing her style, so I figured I'd make some of the old recipes to get back into the groove.  I do have some baking projects in the wings, though, now that I've figured out how to turn on the oven.

1. Sweet and Sour Stirfry from The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook.  Yes, this was on the menu last week - I managed to forget two vital ingredients.

2. Greek-Style Rice Pilaf, also from VTCC and last week's menu.  Going to Cedars threw us off a day...

3. Sloppy Joes from The Urban Vegan.  I have a bunch of sloppy joes recipes, but I've never made this one, which uses Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), unlike my other recipes which either use a meat analog or lentils.  I'm interested to see how the TVP works out and it's kind of a fun, weird thing to buy and cook.

4. Cauliflower-Chickpea Tagine, also from The Urban Vegan.  I can't remember if I've made this before, but if I haven't, it's high time.

5. Red Cabbage with Caraway Seeds and Tofurky Kielbasa, also from The Urban Vegan.  Can you guess which night we're eating this?  I think the flavors will be pleasantly complemented by an Irish Ginger...whatever that is.

6. Spaghetti con Salsa Fresca, also from The Urban Vegan.  I chose this recipe because it will make Mister happy and because I made a little error in my shopping last week and came home with two pounds of plum tomatoes....instead of the two plum tomatoes I needed for the curry last night.

7. BBQ-Flavored White Beans with Sausage and Spinach from Vegan ExpressOrdinarily, I make this recipe as part of a cycle that begins with Isa's Pomegranate BBQ tofu.  This recipe allows me to use up the leftover homemade BBQ sauce that is way too good to waste.  This will mark the first time I make it with store bought BBQ sauce, but I figured that since I had to get some for the Sloppy Joes recipe, I may as well use it to make this recipe.  It's been quite a while since I made it last.

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