Tuesday, May 31, 2011

salad season is here

As I shared my menu last night, I realized it is 50% salads.  I'm completely okay with that for two reasons: first, salads fit into this whole detox effort I was babbling about.  Second, and more importantly for my overheated Greek husband, they do not require cooking, which means the kitchen (and therefore, the "dining room") remains the same temperature as the rest of our hot home.

Tomorrow, in exchange for him washing the towels I couldn't bring myself to launder on my final day off, I told him he could get a Blendini and turn on the A/C, so if it's cool in my home when I return to it, there had better also be a pile of clean towels waiting to be folded.

Anyway, tonight I made Spinach, Artichoke, and Chickpea Salad from Vegan Express.  From the title, you can guess at least three things that were in it, right?  From the trend salads seem to follow when they find their way into cookbooks, you might imagine that those are the only ingredients, apart from possibly some tomatoes and a crunchy garnish, wouldn't you?  Going into it with that mindset, you might be surprised by how darn many ingredients this "simple" salad had.  Let's just say I got good use from my pretty measuring dishes.

That was round one - a cup of tomatoes, a half cup of carrots, and a third of a cup of oil-cured olives for spite.  Round two consisted of a cup of shredded cabbage, a half cup of roasted red peppers, and a can each of artichoke hearts and chickpeas.  I was supposed to only add a cup of chickpeas, but seriously?  What was I going to do with the half-cup left over?  Besides, we like chickpeas in this family.

Another fun thing was serving the colorful, festive salad in my huge red Martha Stewart bowl using the gorgeous and unique Rosewood salad servers my sister gave me for Christmas this year.  I think they're from somewhere in Africa, but I can't remember where she said they came from.

Anyway, they're beautiful and functional, just like I like 'em.

The lighting for this picture is awful, but I wanted to show our little dinner table all set with the salad and accompaniments.  We have some extra mixed olives, in case the 1/3 cup actually in the salad isn't enough.  We also have a gravy boat because I think it's funny that I have two gravy boats that have never been full of gravy.  Actually, that's not true.  The gravy boat we had our tahini salad dressing in tonight, the one on the table, sat on the table my father dined at as a child and teenager.  Surely, sometime in his youth, that gravy boat actually had homemade gravy in it.  So let me amend my statement: in the 8 years that I have been in possession of my Dixie Dogwood dinnerware set, that gravy boat has been destitute of gravy.  It made a perfect vessel for the tahini sauce from Mister's lambless gyros, which magically morphed into a salad dressing tonight.

The salad was delightful and the tahini sauce really went well with the Mediterranean flavors.  The olives made a salty companion to the barely in-season grape tomatoes, while the crunch of the raw cabbage played nicely with the chopped baby lettuces and crisp orange carrots.  After dinner had settled as much as salad is going to settle, Mister and I ventured out into near-record heat to get a cool treat from Rita's Water Ice (so handy to have one a stone's throw from the apartment - we can tell if it's open just by walking down to the corner).  Chocolate water ice for me, Passion Fruit Ice-Vanilla Custard gelato for him, we headed back to the apartment so I could be introduced to a young Robert DeNiro's sinister side in Cape Fear.  This is just one of the movies that Mister could not believe I had never seen and which resulted in us subscribing to Netflix.  After spending most of the second half of the movie with my hands over my face, we decided to move The Tourist up in the queue, taking what was originally the place of Taxi Driver (I need a short break from intense violence starring Robert DeNiro - you must understand - I was introduced to the old, comedic DeNiro.)

Well...back to "real life" tomorrow, at least for a couple of days.  I'm just focusing on Thursday when I get to take a half day and spend the evening at the ballet.  Then, it's Friday!  See?  I can do it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

things you don't need to know

Did you know that only about half the population notices a little something...different...after they eat asparagus?  In recent years, asparagus has gotten a lot of press.  Some people like to point out the vegetable's aphrodisiac qualities and subtly phallic nature.  Others, like myself, focus on even more vulgar features...yessiree, I am one of the chosen ones.  I can smell when I've eaten asparagus.

Like tonight.  I have had this bunch of asparagus in my fridge for a week, because I had intended to serve it as the requisite Something Green with our Pasta e Fagioli last week.  However, I was in such a hunger frenzy to get dinner on the table that night that I completely forgot about the asparagus until I was about to plate our dinner.  I guess it has a little more longevity than I thought it did.

So, since he survived Judgment Day and has remained planted here on Earth with Mister and I, I decided to spoil my kitty a little.  When I was making up my new menu last night, I thought I would be nice and make Sloppy Joes again.  After I accidentally closed his paw in the bathroom door, then stepped on his tail, and couldn't make the air stop being in the mid-80s, I decided today was a good day to make it up to him.

I was going to make french fries to go along with the Sloppy Joes from The Urban Vegan, but then I remembered the asparagus and decided to see if I could roast it quickly enough that I didn't make the kitchen unbearably hot.  I sprayed it with olive oil and sprinkled it generously with my beloved Mediterranean Sea Salt (McCormick), then roasted it in a 450-degree oven for about 15 minutes while the Sloppy part simmered.

Before I go, let me share the new menu - it's a bit salad-heavy.  Mister and I came to the unanimous decision that it was time to start integrating meal-salads into our menu, since it's not supposed to dip below mid-80s for about a week.

1. Orzo Pilaf from Vegan on the Cheap with Tofeta from How It All Vegan and served on lettuce as a salad.  The recipe in VotC has its own tofeta recipe, but when I made it before, I found that I preferred the tofeta from HiaV.

2. Rice Island Casserole also from Vegan on the Cheap.  I don't have anything clever to say about this.

3. Sloppy Joes from The Urban Vegan.  'nuff said.

4. Nicoise Salad from The Urban Vegan, possibly with a french baguette morphing it into pan bagnat.

5. Pasta with Beans and Chard from Vegan Express.  I love this and how easy it is to make.  I would have loved it if Whole Foods wasn't selling mutant chard this week.  I don't know what's wrong with it, but I do know I didn't want to bring any of it home with me.  I guess I'll have to head over to Essene tomorrow after all, something I thought I'd avoided when Mister accompanied me to Whole Foods, thereby allowing me to bring home more stuff than I am able to carry on my own, which has been the main reason I've been spending too much money at Essene lately.  The other reason is because it's an awesome place.  Besides, I also didn't get garlic for the same reason - the non-organic garlic was scary and the organic garlic was puny.

6. Spinach, Artichoke, and Chickpea Salad from Vegan Express.  In the past I have largely ignored Nava's chapter on Satisfying Salads, much to my detriment, it would appear.

7. BBQ-Flavored White Beans with Sausage and Spinach also from Vegan Express.  I love this meal.  ALSO, I want to use up the BBQ sauce in my fridge.  I don't know how long it stays good and I don't like wasting food, so I guess I'll never find out.

In other news, Mister and I have been devoting a lot more energy than most sane people would to keeping the poor, fur-covered kitty cool.  I have been trying to find an ice cube tray (with no success unless I want a novelty tray that will make my ice "cubes" look like brains, robots, or pistols), but until we get one, I've been filling up the 1/4 and 1/3 cup plastic measuring cups with water, freezing them, and stockpiling them in a box in the freezer when I haven't been dropping them directly into Angst's water bowl.  Mister, still trying to deny that he loves that little allergen furball, took the initiative to wet a washcloth and put it in the freezer, then lay it across the kitty's hot back.

And our final installment in the TMI department is a picture of my dear ol' Dad, celebrating Memorial day in style...

...on his boat, with his aviator sunglasses (okay, that doesn't completely make sense), and a cold one.  It's okay, though, he's earned it.

Thank you, Daddy.  Happy Memorial day to you, Poppop, Uncle Carl, and all the others who have served and who continue to serve our country.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

saturday in the city

I had a lovely first day off - I slept until I was done, which was a positively, indescribably incredible experience.  I was so happy that when I finally opened my eyes and saw that it was still before noon, I tried to stay in bed a little longer, but my body was finished with that part of the day.  I got up and made a pot of coffee, a little luxury I reserve for the days that Mister and I will both be around to drink it - during the week I just have a cup of tea.  After a little while, I got in the shower and then got dressed because now that I was awake, I had an agenda!

In a favorite dress, face painted with black eyeshadow and red lipstick, I headed across town to redeem my voucher for tickets to see La Fille mal Gardee this coming Thursday.  I normally stick pretty close to home on my usual one day off, so as long as I was allllll the way on the west side of Broad St, I figured I'd wander around Rittenhouse Square a bit.

It was a gorgeous sunny day, perfect for browsing sales at Anthropologie and Arcadia.  I wandered over to Pure Fare to get a Green Detox Juice or Kale-Apple Smoothie, but it was dark and there was a sign on the door wishing me a happy weekend, stating they'll return on Tuesday.  As I was walking down Walnut Street, though, I found myself on a particularly photogenic intersection.

I actually saw this ^ scene second.  As I was walking along, kinda spacey-like, I spied the scene below and thought to myself, "Wow, I wouldn't expect to see a boarded up building with graffiti on it so close to Rittenhouse Square."  When I think of Rittenhouse Square, I think of excessively expensive homes, restaurants, and boutiques (case in point, I did not buy a single thing from either "sale" at Anthropologie or Arcadia - a marked down dress still in triple-digits is currently too rich for my blood.  No, not too rich for my blood, but definitely too rich for my wallet.).  I think of wealthier people than I sunning in the lovely park that looks like Washington Square's big sister and then retiring to a room in the Rittenhouse after catching an orchestra concert in balcony box seats (best seats in the house, if you ask me) and enjoying a post-concert meal at La Croix.  

So when I'm wandering down Walnut Street, just past the park, I don't expect to see two abandoned and decaying buildings directly across the street.  This picture ^ was taken after I literally turned 180 degrees from the direction I was facing to take the first picture.  What a dichotomy - this is something that I love and hate (ironically) about Philadelphia.  You can be in a really "nice" area and literally cross the street to end up somewhere you don't want to be.  I remember my first apartment was like that - my little street was great, family-oriented and quiet.  I wouldn't cross Corinthian St to park my car, though.

It seems I have a thing for steeples lately.  I was pondering that as I took this picture, but it really comes down to two things:
  1. I love Philadelphia church architecture - that goes for synagogues, too.  Most of the churches in the city, be they Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian, are very old - some of the ones in my neighborhood existed before we were an independent country.
  2. Steeples are tall - they look neat against the sky because there is very little chance of the busyness of the city interfering with the picture.  You aren't going to have some tourist family pulling their raggled children through the picture, nor will you accidentally take a picture of butt-cleavage poking out of some hot mess's overstuffed jeans.  
For this picture in particular, I like how monochromic the steeple is against a brilliant blue sky with perfect fluffy clouds.  It reminds me a little of Annie Lennox's album Bare.

For the cover, Annie got all painted in white, including her hair, leaving the only color on the page to be her barely blue eyes and the name of the album in red.  She states in the liner notes that this design was very purposeful, as she wanted to show that she was barren of all beauty and emotion outside of what she had poured into her music.  The album itself is astonishingly personal and you get the impression that you are finally hearing from Annie, just as she is, unpolished.  It is my favorite of all her albums.

Anyway, before we get too deep (did that last night, with the help of my bottle of Riesling - that stuff sure is easy to drink!), let's talk about dinner.  As it was the last item on the menu, there wasn't too much thinking involved in selecting Salsa Rice and Red Beans from Vegan on the Cheap for dinner tonight.

I've made this several times before, even naming it one of my "top 5" recipes from that book.  It's extremely simple to make and unlike a lot of the recipes in that book, it actually allows me to integrate fresh ingredients.

The quality of the food we eat is very important to me.  I am very aware of the way my body responds to different kinds of food now and I can feel when I'm not eating the way I should.  I feel that way lately - run down, sluggish, heavy.  Not heavy in the "oh dear, I have to lose 5 lbs for Cousin's Wedding" kind of way, rather in the "how am I going to drag my butt all the way to Market East before the train leaves" kind of way.

This weekend, as far as I can tell, will be a waste.  At best, I can hope for a 50-50 split of eating and drinking good, nourishing food and being a complete jerk to my body.  But I'm okay with that.  The plan I've constructed in my brain after too much thinking and almost enough internet research is that I will do whatever the heck I want to this weekend, and then I will start June with a new attitude and more nourishing and purifying interactions with my body.  I've been reading about the Alkaline diet and how much you can improve various afflictions (like my never-ending battle with the very attractive eczema on my neck) by balancing your body's pH.  I've heard this before and I've read the testimonials of internet "friends" who have had very positive results from eating more alkaline foods.  I'm thinking of this as a short cleanse.  Not quite a fast, but a temporary change in my eating habits to return me to the lightness my body is used to.

Like I said, that starts in June.  For now, I have a banana daiquiri to blend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

snark snark snark

Just testing... Wow.  Some people are super paranoid.

On to the weekend!  I don't think I've been so happy to see Friday night since December and all its madness.  This last training class really took a lot of energy and my boss decided to treat himself to a 5-day weekend, so I was pretty happy to get on the train tonight.  I stopped on the way home to pick up a wine, but "accidentally" ended up with two bottles - I couldn't decide between red and white, until I remembered it was a long weekend, so I got both.  Cheers!

my first favorite Riesling of 2011

I had some trouble deciding what to make for dinner tonight - first of all, it's hot as Hades in Philadelphia right now, and secondly, it's darn difficult to try to follow a dinner at Horizons!  I'm not as insecure as some people, but I am well aware that my cooking is no where close to the caliber of Horizons' chefs.  By the way - rumor is, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby (co-owners, spouses, cooks) are coming out with a third cookbook.  I wonder if they'll make it easy on me and put together a box set?

I decided to fight fire with fire and got to work cooking Seitan Pepper Steak from The Accidental Vegan.  Fortunately, in between healthy gulps of water that wasn't quite cold enough, the Asian nature of the cuisine helped me to decide between my Chateau Ste Michelle Harvest Select Riesling (best white wine ever) and my darling Apothic Red.

I sliced up what was left of the seitan and stirfried it with the peppers and some tamari.  I thought about adding some vegetable broth to moisten the seitan a little, but in the end decided the tamari would be an adequate (if not thirst-inducing) marinade.

Although Mister was not hungry when I started cooking, he managed to fit two healthy servings into his hot, sweaty belly before mopping his poor Greek forehead with his napkin and dissecting his PlayStation (since it wouldn't let him play games while I was cooking).  I had a little difficulty choosing between this and Seitan Cacciatore when I was putting the menu together, but I'm very glad I chose this one.

Now, on to enjoying my well-earned break!  I have some adventures planned for the weekend, so hopefully I will have some fun to share over the next few days, but what I'm looking forward to the most right now is not waking up to the sound of an alarm for the first time in weeks.  I will sleep until I'm done, even if it's afternoon when I finally get up.  Though, something tells me the heat won't allow that.  So much for our disastrous thunderstorms...I guess I'll just have to look for drama somewhere else.

pre-friday WIN

Today was super-dooper busy at work.  As such, I feel completely entitled to the calories I probably overconsumed at Horizons tonight.  Mister and I finally went and there were available tables tonight, so we had a happy, adventurous, tasty dinner.  I even remembered to take very dim pictures!  I'm going to ramble a little about our visit, but please, even if my play-by-play of a gourmet dinner is not exciting to you, stick around - most of the WIN happens after dinner.

I literally spent at least half the time I was at work today walking briskly from one end of the building to the other for one inane reason or another.  I got through the day quickly, but with the forward-looking thought of what a delightful evening lay ahead - after we turned ourselves away from the bar seats at Horizons over the weekend, Mister and I decided to go tonight, when we figured it would be less crowded.  Our plan was actually to sit outside and ignore Mister's allergies long enough to enjoy the balmy evening air while we dined.  However, as we approached the restaurant, there were no tables set up outside.  As we drew closer, it looked like the restaurant wasn't even open and I had this dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach that Horizons went out just like so many other restaurants/businesses in the Queen Village/Bella Vista neighborhoods lately - no notice, just closed up one day.  Then we spied a sign in the window indicating that service was available upstairs only.  I turned to Mister and told him that if there were no seats, we were making reservations for tomorrow night.

I ignored him as he told my upstairs-bound back that we couldn't sit outside tomorrow night since there are supposed to be serious thunderstorms.  I ignored that we would really need to stay home and comfort the poor, terrified cat.  Fortunately, there were a few available tables upstairs, so Angst will have the pleasure of our presence tomorrow night.  I'll do my best to give you a short picture parade but I didn't want to use my flash, especially since it seems to make the pictures in dark areas even darker, so the pictures are a bit dim - hopefully you can still see a little.

I wanted to start my meal with a cocktail.  It's been a bit of time since I've had one - possibly since brunch with the parents a few months ago.  One of the things I normally love about Horizons is how unique their combination of ingredients are and how esoteric some ingredients are.  However, it does not help my usually stubbornly autonomous self to make a decision on a cocktail when I can't even pronounce the components of a cocktail, much less get an idea for the taste.  After some consultation with our delightful server, Jeannine, I opted for the Night Boat to Recife.  Since I can't pronounce the liquors, I sure can't spell them, but I'll describe the drink - it was absolutely the most complex cocktail I've ever had.  It started out with an unmistakable and strong citrus flavor, then moved toward a slight bitterness before resolving to a most bizarre but delicious aftertaste I can only compare to the taste of cinnamon applesauce. I know that doesn't sound sexy, but it really is an incredible cocktail.  I had a glass of Pinotage with dinner because I'm thrilled to find a single restaurant in Philadelphia that has Pinotage (a spicy South African blended red wine) by the glass.

For the eating portion of our evening, we began our meal by sharing the Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad, consisting of micro-lettuces with shaved fennel, roasted asparagus, toasted hazelnuts, and what appeared to be edible flower petals, dressed in a sublime hazelnut vinaigrette.  Mister, as always, ordered the Grilled Seitan and I almost did as well, since it has been well over a year since I've ordered it, but the past three to five times we've gone to Horizons, I've struggled with my curiosity about the Fresh Hearts of Palm Cake with braised beluga lentils and curried mixed squash, topped with cucumber chutney.

I tasted each component individually.  One of the deciding factors was my desire to eat their braised beluga lentils, so I tasted them first - they were good, but not outstanding on their own, which wasn't how they were meant to be eaten anyway.  The mixed curried squash was extremely flavorful and not terribly spicy.  The two together were perfect.  The cucumber chutney tasted more like marinated cucumbers, but I might be misunderstanding the nature of chutney, since I've always had spicier chutneys.  The cake itself was amazing both texturally and spice-wise - this provided the heat I was expecting to find in the curried squash, and was perfectly balanced by the chutney, curried squash, and lentils.  I'll admit, I was a little hesitant going into it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Horizons has never let me down, and I fully expected they would not let me down this time either.  I was not disappointed.

I was also not disappointed in our shared side of truffled fries, which I have presently decided are the best food currently available on earth.  I even said to Mister that if the world actually were going to end in the near future and the date and time really could be foretold, I would want the last thing I ate on this earth to be truffle fries.  That's right - not chocolate - truffle fries.  They're that good.

We agreed that dessert was also necessary, so we perused the adorable little dessert menu.  They usually have a few standards as well as a rotating flavor or two, specifically related to their cheesecake.  It is truly remarkable how nearly identical their cheesecake is to "real" cheesecake - the only way I can tell the difference is that my digestive system and intestinal tract are not rebelling.

Mister almost always partakes of the cheesecake when we do get dessert, but tonight, we both got our own slice of Lavender Cheesecake with a dollop of whipped "cream" and mashed blueberry coulis.  It was divine - that's really the best explanation I have.  I could ramble on and on about the amazing texture of the cake or the charming tanginess that makes you wonder if it's really vegan.  I could dwell on the perfect graham cracker crust or the fascinating scent-flavor experience created by using lavender in food.  But really, you should just focus on this: Go to Horizons before they close and eat truffle fries and cheesecake with a nice glass of Pinotage or Muscato.

Now, on to the rest of tonight's WIN.

About a week ago, I retweeted a simple but cheesy message in a silly and desperate attempt to win free tickets to a ballet I can't afford to see.  Let me back up - I could afford to see every ballet or orchestra concert I wanted to, as long as I was willing to sit in the nosebleed section and squint at the stage, wondering if I need a new prescription for my contacts.  I am not willing - I got spoiled by seats close enough to the stage that I made eye contact with the dancers.  So anyway, I tweeted some silly line about loving the Arts in Philadelphia, figuring it was worth a shot, and to my incredible surprise, I won!  One week from tonight, I will be floating down from an ethereal high of spending the evening watching powerful, strong men and women move around a stage with grace I can only wish for from seats I couldn't possibly afford (hopefully in the company of a similarly graceful and beautiful female - Mister has made it quite clear that although he enjoys spending time with me and doing stuff to make me happy, he has to draw the line at men in tights). 

Winning, Part II: after dinner, I perused the feed on Facebook because you know, it's kind of addicting.  Imagine my delight when I saw my Summertime Granola recipe featured on Chic Vegan today!  Head over [click here] and check it out!

Winning: Finale:  Tomorrow's Friday and then it will be a nice, long, fruitful yet relaxing weekend.  Cheers!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

naked burritos & a skinny margarita?

Count me in.  The clouds finally loosed their chokehold on the Philadelphia region today and allowed temperatures to struggle into the 80s under a humid but sunny sky.  I can't say if it was a gorgeous day, since I was stuck inside a cube farm for the few hours I wasn't in conference/training rooms, but I sure enjoyed the walk to and from the train station!  If ever there was a nice night for commercialize, fake "mexican," tonight was that night.

I really wish refried beans didn't look like the lovechild of Vomit and DogFood, because they taste so good!  They made a fabulous and binding middle layer between the seasoned rice and lightly spiced vegetable melange.  This dish is so easy to make - my only complaint is related to my stovetop, in fact.  I didn't realize this when we were moving in because the difference is really minute, but this stove is definitely smaller than my old one - I can't use the front and back burners on the same side without my relatively small pots bumping into each other.  If I had to guess, I'd say that probably isn't very good for the enamel or whatever.

Crowded stovetop aside, the meal comes together in no time at all and tastes great.  The sweet crunch of the corn and carrots is calmed by the spinach but completed by the squishy, savory refried beans.  The rice, lightly seasoned, provides a simple but flavorful base, as well as adding some neat texture.

Speaking of texture (how'd ya like that segue??), I stopped for another smoothie on my way to the train.  This was actually quite intentional - I ate the tiniest bit I could for breakfast so that I wouldn't be shaky-hungry while trying to apply my makeup, then planned to get another smoothie at Market East.  However, as I walked up Chestnut Street, I found a little cafe that looked like it was just waiting for me to try one of their smoothies.

I walked into Munchie's Cafe and decided to order the Blue Moon Smoothie.  Turns out, they were definitely not waiting for me to come in and order something.  Considering their very poor customer service, I think it's a miracle anyone goes in there - I won't again, regardless of how tasty my smoothie turned out to be.  A person should not have to wait 10 minutes for a blended beverage when she is the only person in the cafe.

The Blue Moon smoothie is made up of bananas, blueberries, apple juice, and ice.  Although I really want to give Munchie's some kudos for reusing plastic containers, I think it might be in the best interest of their non-dairy-consuming customers' peace of mind and continued patronage not to keep the blueberries in a Dannon yogurt container.  I can't say I was too happy to see the girl who was making my smoothie approaching the blender with that container after I specifically asked if that smoothie was non-dairy.

I think I can say that I get it.  I get the smoothie obsession.  I understand its ability to take over an otherwise normal person's breakfast schedule, especially if a person who doesn't get enough sleep is pressed for time in the morning... I understand the appeal, too, of the Magic Bullet and may have to shell out the big bucks to buy one of my very own so I have complete control over my smoothies and no reused yogurt containers come near them.

In the past year, I've fallen in love with matcha green tea and smoothies.  I have to say, I'm a little nervous about trying out the green juice at Pure Fare, especially since other people who like tea and smoothies seem pretty into it...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

stiiiilllll going...powered by smoothies & espresso

I'm not sure there are words strong enough to express my longing, yearning, pining even, for Friday.  Once I have safely made it to and through Friday, I have a glorious, much needed, and much deserved 3-day weekend.  I do mean 3 days, too - I'm not teaching on Saturday and I don't have to go back to Diet Land until Tuesday.  Nevertheless, powered by three things that are becoming steadfast favorites, I am powering on, pushing myself to endure every day that stands between me and Friday night.

What three things?

  • Espresso (say what you want about Starbucks, but I will not apologize for my iced caramel americanos - they taste like iced heaven in a cup)
  • More Italian food - old habits die hard, especially when I can't think of a terribly good reason to stop this addiction.
  • Smoothies!  Tasty, frothy, drinkable nutrition!  If I got enough sleep at night, I could probably easily sub out a smoothie for my espresso.  But I don't get enough sleep.  I love you, Starbucks.

I really don't think anyone wants to read my Ode to Caffeine and besides, I am well aware that this is not a healthy way to go about life.  Like I said, I don't get enough sleep.  It's a long story.  I'm pretty sure any faithful readers are also growing quite weary of my pasta-worship, too, but let me just share for a moment before moving on to the "good stuff."

Last night, I finally made Italian-Style Rice Casserole from Vegan Italiano because I finally bought peas.  In the course of preparing it, I realized I was woefully short of carrots, a fact that did not truly "hit home" until I started to prepare dinner tonight.

I love this risotto-like dish.  I love it because it's hearty and creamy and fully of veggie goodness (the peas nearly outnumber the rice!) with a few spikes of salty mixed in from the chopped kalamatas.  I love that even though it's supposed to be a baked dish, it comes together stovetop in approximately 30 minutes - I think that is at least partially owed to my use of the not-so-indigenous-to-Italy Jasmine rice.  After a ton of pasta dishes, I was happy to let go of my Italian fetish with a rice dish.  Or so I thought.

Tonight, I started to get everything together for Naked Burritos, and then remembered that I used the last four pitiful carrots for dinner last night, leaving me no carrots for the burritos.  Stop asking yourself what kind of sick person puts carrots in burritos and follow me back down the path to Il Belpaese.

So, I opened up my little gold book of magic and started to assemble ingredients and found myself lacking a fairly important one, so I looked at my menu for a quick-cooking one, as my stomach was trying to eat itself, and decided upon a recipe from Appetite for ReductionBroccoli Con Pasta, to be precise.  I made Dynise's version of this recipe not long ago, but I think I prefer Isa's.  It has a hot little kick from the red pepper flakes which can be at least partially dimmed by balsamic vinegar and wine, or left to simmer on your tongue and lips a bit.  It also does not involve trying to dissolve miso in hot oil with a flat whisk.  It also fits into that wonderful and welcome category of Perfect Portions/no leftovers.

With my continuing tribute to Italy out of the way, we can get to the real fun: Smoothies.  A few weeks ago, I posted about my smoothie virginity.  At least one daring and caring soul stepped forward to help me overcome my scarcity of smoothies: Kelly from Living on the Vedge.  She offered to meet up with me for a smoothie date, which we did on Saturday and it was delightful.  Prior to our meeting, though, I decided to dabble a bit - test the chunky, fruit-filled waters, if you will.

I began my Smoothie Odyssey on my way to work one morning.  I had an unintentionally light breakfast, leaving me quite ravenous by the time I got to the train station.  As luck would have it, there is a delightful little corner joint right where the Gallery meets Market East.  I have stopped a few times in the past for one of their abundant and varied fruit salads.  I noticed they had fresh-pressed juices, so I thought maybe I'd give one a try, but as I drew closer, I noticed a smoothie menu.  I shrugged a little to myself, then smiled at the waiting countergirl and ordered the Pink Lady: banana, strawberry, and carrot, blended with ice.

isn't she pretty?

I tried to reserve my judgment a little as I had nothing, really, to which I could compare my pretty pink smoothie, but it was darn good.  There was enough ice to give it texture, and I'm pretty sure they used a frozen banana, too, but it was totally drinkable as well.  I can't deny I was a little bit attracted to the color, especially since I thought the carrot would make it a little more orange...kind of like the Pineapple-Carrot Smoothie I got at Pure Fare on Saturday (the prettiest little Judgment Day there ever was!):

However, lest you believe that was all carrot turning it that amazing shade of orange, I think it was more the orange juice than anything else.  It was a tasty smoothie, profuse with citrus flavor between the OJ and the pineapple.  It was obvious there was carrot, though, as the blender did not completely pulverize it, resulting in the occasional chunk lodging itself in either the straw or my teeth.  Hot, I know - it's a good thing I wasn't trying to charm Kelly with my good looks and graceful smoothie consumption.  It was very thick but there was a certain comfort to be derived from drinking something that was clearly whole fruits and vegetables only moments before.  Kelly sipped on the Detoxifying Green Juice - she had been in a few days earlier and fell in love.  I think I am destined to return and try the Kale-Apple Smoothie and the green juice...and possibly one of the brownies I was assured is vegan!

Finally, when I got my hair touched up a few weeks ago for BIL's wedding, I stopped into Cups & Chairs to pay a long-overdue visit.  I had my detox tea for the first time since I finished Mister's this winter and could have kicked myself for forgetting how refreshing and addicting they are.  While I was waiting, I glanced up at the newly revamped drink menu and noticed something I hadn't seen in the past (probably because it wasn't there): a Matchanana Smoothie.

I correctly assumed it was matcha and bananas, as well as some plain soymilk and ice.  I headed over to Salon Sugar with my detox tea, but returned the following morning for a Matchanana to sip on my way to work.  By the time I made it to the train station, I'd sipped through half of it.  It was okay, but a little strange - first of all, it was way more soymilk than anything else.  Since she used a fresh banana, it didn't really stand out the way the texture of a frozen banana would have.  The matcha added a unique grassy-green flavor, but overall, it was not outstanding.  It was kind of like green milk.  Which doesn't sound that good.  It wasn't bad, but I won't get it again.

I wanted to try a Starbucks (anyone surprised?) Vivanno Smoothie, but the whole focal point is a blend of fiber and whey protein they add to promote energy and satiety.  Considering whey is a milk protein, that kind of went out the window.  I have my smoothie-eyes open wider now, so if I find anything exceptional, I'll report back, but for now, I'm going to sign off and dream of kale-apple smoothies and maybe treat myself to another smoothie from the corner place at Market East tomorrow...if there's time and space after my SBUX run ;)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

lovely day for an apocalypse

Soooooo....about that apocalypse thing...  I took the above picture on my way back to the train station after teaching yesterday, approximately 2 hours before all the good little kitties were scooped up by an invisible hand and delivered to heaven and the rest of us experienced a catastrophic earthquake unlike any seen/felt before, leaving us to survive continuing chaos and degradation until the world is mercifully destroyed on October 21st.

As you can see, I was not one of the chosen.  According to a comment on my last post, neither is one of my readers.  Unfortunately, neither was Angst.  He was very disappointed.

On the brighter side of things, yesterday was a gorgeous day - not bad for your last day of "normal" life, huh?  In a way, it kind of felt like one of those movies they put out a few years ago where everyone is going about their business like everything is normal, completely ignorant of the danger and destruction that awaits them in just a few short hours.

Or not.  "Rapture Fail," to quote so many others.  As much as I would like to live in the Time of Tribulation (not really, actually), I'm pretty happy the whole day passed with nothing more than gossip, sunshine, and a movie I liked far more than I thought I would.

I started the day with a smoothie date!  Kelly from Living On The Vedge met me at Pure Fare in Rittenhouse Square and helped introduce me to the wonderful world of smoothies.  While I still can't see them becoming a regular part of my breakfast rotation, I think they have a place once in a while, kind of like a special treat.  I plan to actually devote a post to my smoothie experience, so I'll move along in the day for now.  After we finished our smoothies and nice conversation, she headed to the Rittenhouse Row Festival and I headed to the train station for a relatively short day of teaching.

As I approached Suburban Station, I was caught off guard by this astonishing image.  First of all, the Comcast building is the tallest building in the Philadelphia skyline and is an imposing building to stand beneath.  It looks like it reaches straight up to heaven (maybe Angst should have taken the elevator instead of waiting) and, being clothed in reflective glass, it actually blends in with the sky until you notice that the sky looks a little pixelated and weird.  Then you have this moment where your brain yells, "Holy crap, that's a building!" 

The other incredible thing that caught my eye was the eerily perfect reflection of the building I was standing next to.  After I stood there gawking long enough to make a few tourists stare at me, I decided to pull out my camera and capture this amazing view before heading underground and out of my beloved city.  It is definitely things like this that cause me to pause and truly love my city.

After teaching, I returned to my fair city and found not a single stone overturned, so it looked like we were still safe from the zombie invasion for which the CDC was preparing America.  I was relieved to see the beautiful and historic synagogue on Lombard St was still in one piece, with the 10 Commandments standing proud and strong at the top.

Another welcome site was the steeple of St. Peter's Church on Pine St, the gold cross gleaming in late afternoon sunlight.  It came into view as I crossed 4th St and I was struck by the way it stood out against the magnificent white clouds, as if to say, "we're still here!"

So, the threat of apocalypse past, Mister and I thought we would enjoy the beautiful weather with a trip to Horizons, intending to drink in the temperate air and remarkable sky along with a tasty dinner and undoubtedly decadent dessert, possibly a cocktail or two.  A lot of other people had the same idea, so given the choice between dining inside and at the bar or eating elsewhere, we headed back toward home.  Mister tried to find another fun place to eat, but I really had my heart set on Horizons, so we just went home, where I prepared the last dinner from our menu, Fusilli with Lentil Sauce from Vegan Italiano.

I have seen recipes for lentil sauces before and aside from the way red lentils break down and thicken a sauce, I just couldn't imagine how it would work.  In fact, my original intention for this sauce was to use red lentils, until last night, when I pulled out my jar and found it to be lacking at least half the quantity I needed to make the sauce, so I hesitantly used regular ol' Goya brown lentils instead.

Mister and I were both completely surprised by how incredibly tasty the sauce was and how well all of the parts worked together.  Mister plowed through three big bowls and I chomped delicately through 1.5 (keeping his food math intact).  I am so sorry I didn't make this sooner.  I don't anticipate lentil sauces being my new passion, but I will definitely make this one again, and probably in the not-too-distant future.

After dinner, we watched Avatar and it was really a remarkable movie.  We both went into it with a trepidation we reserve for big budget blockbusters with CG main characters.  Our bro-in-law in California does this for a living, so we know CG has improved significantly in the last ten years, but Jar-Jar Binks really ruined everything.  We were both completely impressed with the movie in all aspects - CG, storyline, acting, even psychology (awesome inner battle with Jake Sully).  After the movie, we still had to wait for some of the drunks to stop screaming in the streets, so I put together this week's menu.  Having gotten through our Italian Week, I felt the need was quenched and we could move on to a completely ethnically diverse menu:

1. Italian-Style Rice Casserole from Vegan Italiano.  Okay, so I didn't make this last week due to a dearth of peas at Whole Foods, but I have the peas now, so we'll have it soon.  Besides, I can't go from all Italian to no Italian without doing irreparable damage to Mister's psyche.

2. Naked Burritos - I've seen one too many Qdoba billboards (I pass one every day on my way to work) and the craving for Mexican, more precisely burritos, set in.

3. Pasta Con Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction.  Old habits die hard...maybe I'm not completely over my Italian cravings.

4. Seitan Gyros from The Accidental Vegan, at Mister's request!  I almost always ask Mister if he has any requests when I start my menu planning.  98% of the time, he does not.  Last night, I asked again, and by habit, he said "no." Less than 30 seconds later, he stepped back into the kitchen and said, "Yes. Can you make me gyros with that seitan, since it tastes so much like lamb?"  How could I refuse my poor vegetarian Greek?  He hasn't had a gyro in nine and a half years.

5. Salsa Rice and Red Beans from Vegan on the Cheap.

6. Seitan Pepper Steak also from The Accidental Vegan.  Since the seitan recipe makes a 2-lb loaf and I don't know how long it will keep, I figured I should have another recipe that requires seitan on the menu this week.  I had some trouble choosing between this and Seitan Cacciatore, but ultimately decided that my menu, though far more diverse than last week's, still required a little more variety.

So there you have it: Italian, Mexican, Greek, and Asian.  Not bad!  We kicked it off tonight with Mister's request, since I had to bake the seitan this afternoon and I figured it might be easiest to just slice the seitan very thinly right after it popped out of the oven (okay, I let it cool a little tiny bit).  I set up a Build Your Own Gyro station on my long counter and let Mister construct his own.  I figured that was also a safer way to go about the Tahini sauce because it seems like I always put too much sauce on Mister's stuff.

Shortly after I took that oddly yellow picture, I think I figured out why gyro-serving places always give it to you in a little paper cone.  It's hard to keep those suckers wrapped in a cone shape without crushing the pita and/or getting tahini sauce all over your hands.

I did both.  SO, I decided I was not as good at gyro-eating as my Greek husband (unlike him, I think I only had one or two gyros before going vegetarian) and decided to turn my dinner into Gyro Salad (kind of like a Greek version of Taco Salad).

Second time around, I just skipped the pita altogether.  It was so good - the savory seitan really did mimic my memories of lamb and Mister was thrilled - it was exactly what he wanted it to be.  He so rarely requests anything other than "Whatever makes you happy, baby," that if he does want something specific, I fall over myself to make it for him.  The crunch of the chopped romaine was the perfect complement to the chewy seitan and the umami of the seitan foiled the semi-sweetness of the tomatoes as the smokiness of the tahini sauce coated everything with a layer of "something special."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

countdown is on

Angst is angry with me.  To be fair, it is a little warranted.  All my poor little kitty wanted for dinner his last night on earth (because he is a holy kitty and will obviously be part of tomorrow's rapture) was Sloppy Joes, but instead, because I am a mean, mean lady (which is why I will be left behind), I made Chickpea Piccata from Appetite for Reduction.

As it always is, it was delightful, and Angst, despite his intense scowl, decided he would like to try a taste of the non-sloppy-joe dinner.  Mister tried to convince him that it was nothing he would like, but he did so by lowering his plate so Angst could sniff at the food...which resulted in Angst trying to eat the food right off of Mister's plate.

Ever generous and a much better kitty-parent than I am, apparently, Mister plucked a lemony chickpea from his plate and put in on the floor for Angst to realize he didn't want.  Angst licked off all the sauce, kind of like he does with hummus on pita, and looked at Mister for more.  After allowing the chickpea to "age" a bit, he came back and chewed up his "raw hummus."  For dessert, we gave him some of his Birthday Catnip.

After all, if he doesn't finish it tonight, it'll go to waste.  As they say, you can't take it with you...

The countdown has begun.  Since the Beginning of the End is supposed to start at 6pm local time, starting in New Zealand and rippling through the time zones with terrific inevitability, I did some math of my own.  If the huge, ne'er-seen-before-magnitude earthquake that signifies God closing the door to Heaven (before pulling up all the righteous - figure that out) is supposed to start at 6pm in New Zealand, and New Zealand is 7 hours ago in tomorrow (stay with me), then we will know if the Endtimes are really upon us in one hour.  At 1 AM Eastern time, it will be 6 PM in New Zealand.

I hope the world doesn't end, though.  It would really put a damper on my weekend plans.  More tomorrow!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Friday (the 13th), I'm in love

I'm kind of obsessing over this whole Judgment Day thing - picking it apart from every angle and examining every facet to the "story."  This may be a relatively unpopular sentiment, but at the moment, I feel simple sadness for these people.  They truly believe the events their prophet has foretold will come to pass.  A slightly cynical side of me wants to be standing there with them, holding vigil from 6pm (when the great earthquake hits that signifies that God is closing the door to heaven) through to the next day when everyone is still here and safe.  It's supposed to be gorgeous this weekend.  Bright, sunny, happy weather.  Not exactly Endtimes weather.  A more compassionate side of me is genuinely sad for the heartbreak and feelings of loss these people have been set up for (or, have set themselves up for, to be fair).  Can you imagine feeling so certain of something that you base your entire existence around it for not just the few days that it has captured the attention of the general public but for years leading up to now?  Can you imagine being so sure of the future that you would rid yourself of all earthly belongings and separate yourself from your job?  Can you even fathom what would happen, how you would feel, the day after all these things were supposed to happen, when you're sitting in sunshine in an undestroyed field somewhere, not glorified?

It's devastating, really.

For our part, Mister and I started the countdown with Pasta e Fagioli from Veganomicon, although I forgot the roasted asparagus.  Pity - I guess we'll have to eat that up before 6pm Saturday...just in case we're wrong.

I actually found and purchased pennette this time around, but honestly, in these pictures, it doesn't look that different from the version I made with grown-up penne.  Regardless, it's one tasty beans-n-pasta dish and my Apothic Red (which I may rename Apocalypse Red) completed the meal perfectly.

I've rambled enough about this Pasta e Fagioli in previous posts.  Additionally, you may be wondering just what the heck Friday the 13th and Love have to do with anything I've said so far.

Nothing, actually.  But I didn't want to spend my whole post exploring my myriad conflicting feelings about Saturday, so I decided tonight was as good a time as any to fill you in on what Mister and I did on Friday the 13th.

My husband's family is a little strange sometimes.  I love them for it.  So, when my brother-in-law and his fiancee selected May 13th as their wedding date, explaining that it was the only Friday the 13th in 2011, not too many people were surprised.  What was surprising was that he managed to get my husband to wear a shiny lavender vest and tie.  Greeks should not wear lavender - it is NEVER their color.

Lavender accessories aside, my Mister, the Best Man, was very handsome all dressed up in grown-up clothes.

Apparently, varying shades of purple made up the wedding theme, as my mother-in-law and I laughed about the two lavender-clad Greek men matching very masculine things like....

The cake.  It's fun, isn't it?  White with purple flowers "blooming" off of toffee branches?  As you can see, the stuffiness of the reception hall prior to proper adjustment of the climate control made some of the blossoms jump ship, but the cake was returned to an appropriate temperature and fixed up before the reception started.  I feel kind of bad, now, about photographing it before the ceremony...

However, Mister and I were running out of ways to entertain ourselves, since we arrived 30 minutes before his parents and grandmother and 45 minutes before the bride and groom and wedding party.  No, we were not very early.  They were all very late.  Still, I got the chance to photograph one of the tables once it was set up...all in purple and lavender to match the wedding party.

Due to unforeseen occurrences (a superstitious person might even say "bad luck"), the ceremony actually ended up starting about the time it would have been finished.  Nevertheless, it was a lovely outdoor ceremony, which concluded just as twilight was setting in.

My little angelbaby (AKA, the bride and groom's daughter) was an adorable flower girl, wearing a poofy purple dress that might have been a size too big for her and definitely a lot of dress for a little girl.  In the picture above, you can see her 14-year-old sister, also in lavender to match the men, holding up the back of angelbaby's dress so she doesn't step on it.

This is the only picture in existence (as far as I know) of my husband holding hands with a child.  It was actually quite adorable.  The ringbearer (AKA, the bride's son) has a great amount of love and admiration for Mister, who once fixed a toy for him.  His whole face lit up when he arrived and saw Mister, so when he made his way down the aisle with his little sister, as soon as he was safely beside Mister he just slipped his tiny hand inside Mister's.

Believe me, I was not going to miss that photo op.  Speaking of which, I told Mister I was going to take a ton of pictures of him because "I don't ever want to see you in that color again but I don't ever want to forget this day, either."  I'm such a little devil sometimes. 

It was wonderful to see BIL so happy.  The reception was very nice.  My MIL and I opened the bar (we figured we'd been waiting the longest, so it was fair), and there were a ton of appetizers I could (and did) eat.  I love butlered hors d'oeuvres and regret that we did not get to partake of any at our own wedding.  We had hors d'oeuvres, the same ones as our guests, but ours were set out on trays in the "special room" we all hid in during cocktail hour so we could make our grand entrances to "Get This Party Started" (by P!nk) and the Imperial Death March (from Star Wars).  'Cause that's how me and Mister roll.

I'd never heard the song the bride and groom danced their first dance to, but it was pretty and clearly had meaning to them as they were singing it to one another while they danced.  The groom also danced with his mother to Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up," while I successfully prevented Mister from ruining it for me by complaining about how much he hates Josh Groban's voice.  Mister gave a very nice and slightly impish toast, followed by the Maid of Honor, the bride's daughter, who burst into tears about one sentence in.  Happy tears, don't worry.  Another fun, touching, and somewhat unconventional part of the evening was when, in lieu of the bride-father dance, the bride's 18-year-old son asked her to dance with him to Boyz II Men's "Mama."  I have to admit, I've never seen that before.

I had a ball, dancing the night away with my sisters-in-law and cousins, even a couple of aunts and of course, plenty of nieces.  One niece and one nephew in particular were very excited to see Aunt Natalie, which always makes ya feel good.  The food was very nice and the open bar was certainly welcome - the champagne was surprisingly tasty and MIL and I took care of the "leftover" glasses at our table.

Best of all, we get to do this all over again (as long as no one gets swept up to heaven on Saturday and the venue doesn't get eaten by a big earthquake) in a few weeks for a cousin's wedding!  Fortunately for Mister, he's not in the wedding this time, so he can wear black, not pastels.

That was truly amazing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

heaven's on its way

So, according to some flawed math and heretical theology, we are a little less than four days away from Judgment Day.  Supposedly, it says in the Bible that at 6pm on Saturday, all true believers will be swept up to heaven to be glorified and reunited with God, while the rest of us live out our final days in increasing chaos and squalor.

Sweet.  I've always enjoyed the idea of living in a dark, decaying, post-apocalyptic city.

There are two indications, for me, that heaven is on its way: I just finished the last Coconut Drop Cookie and tonight we had the second and final non-Italian meal for dinner.

With Rice Noodle Bowl with Broccoli and Bell Pepper from Vegetarian Times magazine out of the way, I can look forward to spending the final days before I'm either swept up in a blaze of glory or condemned to suffer for the next six months chowing down on delicious Italian-style dinners, complete with red wine and olives (hey, what does anything matter at this point, right? and while we're on the subject, I would like to express my disapproval of the purported date the world will finally and for all times be destroyed by its Maker - Oct. 21st is one week before my 4th wedding anniversary and Mister and I have big plans for our 5th, so I'd prefer to "suffer" for 18 months, if it's all the same).

By the way, I hope you know me well enough to know I'm kidding.  God already told me when the world is going to end, and it's expected to coincide approximately with the date that I give birth and pigs fly while throwing the snowballs they made in Hell at the monkeys that are flying out of my....oh!

Anyway, dinner was nice.  I was actually quite pleased with both "Asian" meals that inched onto this week's menu and did not find myself craving Italian while preparing or cooking them.  That being said, I am really looking forward to cooking the Italian out of my system between now and the Rapture.

I must admit, the 5 day forecast is not helpful in dissuading some of the crazies that everything is okay:

Well.....okay, up until it's all sunny and bright and not even a little apocalyptic-looking on Saturday... I mean, Judgment Day

What kind of food do you suppose makes the most authentic and appropriate Tribulation Era meals?  Should I even bother with menu planning?

Sorry.  I'll stop :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

there's lettuce in my pasta

Like I mentioned in my menu, I've always skipped over recipes calling for escarole, primarily because I can never find it at Whole Foods.  To my great delight, I came home with some yesterday, so tonight I made Penne with Cannellini Beans and Escarole from Vegan Italiano.

Isn't it lovely?  So... green!  I have a confession to make: I've never had escarole until tonight.  In addition to having an extraordinary amount of trouble locating it in center city, it was most certainly never a part of meals growing up outside the city.  Mister was very surprised when I shared my escarole epiphany with him since he grew up in a hippie family with a Greek dad and part-Sicilian mom; dark leafy greens and various other things that never crossed my lips until adulthood were a regular part of the days there was money for food in his childhood.

My take?  It's kind of weird, isn't it?  I think I imagined escarole to be a dark leafy green, kind of like Tuscan kale but with the texture of spinach or chard - a silky green that would linger briefly on my tongue before following the penne down my throat.  I couldn't have been too much more wrong - it was more like I had added lettuce to my pasta.  It was a little crunchy, a little bitter, and plenty chewy - more like the look of lettuce with the toughness of kale.  I should have realized I was wrong when I was chopping it.  It was actually tough to chop!  Ordinarily, my fancy new knives slice through greens like butter, but not this time - I actually had to put some elbow grease in.

The combination of escarole, tomatoes, garlic, and cannellini beans was classically Italian and completely delightful.  I served dinner with a generous bowlful of mixed Mediterranean olives in a vinegary brine, accompanied by a glass of Apothic Red for my sipping pleasure.  It could only have been a more perfectly rustic and Country Italian meal if we were eating outside as the sun set behind a far-off horizon with a basket full of crusty, warm bread to sop up the sauce.

And just when you thought I couldn't paint a more delightful picture of [food-provoked] happiness, you must have forgotten (or not known) that I baked last night after my post!

I called them macaroons, but Hannah calls them Coconut Drop Cookies.  They just magically appeared in my inbox one day, courtesy of the VegNews e-newsletter I get monthly.  Okay, the cookies themselves did not magically appear, but the simpler-than-pie recipe sure did and it took very little time to pull all of the ingredients together and make my kitchen smell amazing.

The best thing about these cookies (besides everything) is that the recipe makes 10.  That is a totally manageable number of cookies.  I really don't like cookie recipes that yield a tremendous number of cookies (unless it's the holiday season - any holiday season - and I'm baking for a crowd) because they make too big a mess and then I have too many cookies anyway.  Ten cookies?  Well, we'll get through almost half the first night and they'll be gone by tomorrow night.

They have the most amazing flavor.  Like I said, they are super simple to make, so please do yourself a favor and click that link.  Make these cookies and enjoy them with a tall glass of nondairy milk.  I rarely drink soymilk because it does have kind of a weird aftertaste when you're drinking it solo (I use unsweetened original - no flavor and no added sugars), but these cookies are so rich and flavorful, I dare you to try to eat them alone.  Actually, I don't - why mess it up?  Just enjoy with a cup of coffee or your favorite nondairy beverage - there are two delightfully contradictory flavors that come together in a way that enhances each: the tropical sweetness of toasted coconut and the spark of salt from an unusually large measure added to the recipe.

Dear Lord...I think it's time for dessert.