Wednesday, August 31, 2011

go west, young girl!

I live on the eastern side of Broad Street, which is considered the "middle" of the city, even though there are only 13 blocks to the river on the East side and 30 to the river on the West side.  Nevertheless, I was discussing this with a future colleague in a short pre-work meeting last week: it is this huge, big deal to cross Broad Street.

There is no good reason for that, especially when you could easily walk from Washington Square to Rittenhouse Square (the two big parks on either side) in about 20 minutes, maybe 30 if you really take your time and all the lights are against you and there's too much traffic to jay-walk.  A phenomenon that I've noticed, though, is that your idea of distance adjusts to where you live.  So, when I lived in the furthest reaches of what could be called, with any kind of integrity, the Main Line Philadelphia suburbs, I had no issue driving 30 miles into the city for entertainment or to visit friends 17 miles away.  When I moved into a part of Philadelphia that could not possibly be considered center city, I had no issue driving into center city but I was less inclined to drive outside the city to visit friends as I had been when I was in the suburbs and everything was far away.  When I moved into a busy part of center city, I found it a struggle to ever go anywhere that required the use of my car (other than work, of course).

So there you go; I stick to "my" side of Broad Street most of the time.  However, now that I'm dependent on public transit and since I will be working on the "other side," I'm branching out a bit and seeing what the West side of Broad has to offer.  The answer?  A great deal, actually - Rittenhouse Square area really    has the best shopping, boutique-wise in all of Philadelphia.  You can imagine it, if you wish, as a marginally more affordable East Coast Rodeo Drive.  I'm not a huge shopper, but when I do, I prefer smaller boutiques to department stores for many reasons I'll probably go into at another time, possibly on another blog.  Anyway, although most of my favorite restaurants are within blocks of my home (which was one reason I chose to live here, honestly), I love crossing Broad to visit Williams-Sonoma, MAC, Barnes & Noble, Anthropologie, and.... Pure Fare.

Yup, that's pretty much where all of this has been leading to.  We had Pasta Della California from Veganomicon for dinner tonight, and I've made it plenty enough that it really wasn't all that interesting to share about, so I'm going to focus on lunch today.

It's a relatively small joint but it has clean lines and an airy feel, since the wall to the street is completely made of windows, floor to ceiling, just about.  On each end there is a service area - one for drinks and one for food, and then there is a wall with two or three refrigerated shelves stocked with ready-to-eat food.  One thing I love about Pure Fare is that everything is labeled - ingredients, calories, price, and in terms of their baked goods, whether it is vegan or gluten-free.  I think that is wonderful!

In the center of the room, there is a long communal table with swinging stools.  I have nearly fallen over every time I've sat down, but I think it's great that you can adjust where you sit without having to scrape the legs of a heavy chair across the hard floor.  There are also two bars against the windows, looking out onto 21st Street, but I wanted to sit at the table.

I mean, why wouldn't I want to sit in front of a centerpiece of flowers and asparagus?  I have to admit, although it did make a charming display, I was sad that the asparagus was a centerpiece and not a side dish.  Anyway, how did I come to have my lunch there?

Glad you asked.  Today was the last day I was covered by the insurance my former employer covered and there will be a bit of a gap before I am covered at my new job - 90 days, to be exact.  I am generally of good health and Mister is generally stubborn about seeing a doctor, so we've forgone COBRA's generous offer to take an entire paycheck away from me to cover our health insurance until I am covered again.  Regardless, I wanted to have my long overdue eye exam before losing my insurance, so I went to a nice little place on Rittenhouse Square and was planning to go to Trader Joe's to pick up a few things as long as I was allll the way over there.  I remembered that Pure Fare is the only place in Philadelphia who serves Blue Bottle Coffee and I was in the mood for some of that espresso-like brew.  As I walked, I realized I was a bit hungry as well, so I thought I'd get a little something from their pastry case.

As I waited for my pour-over to drip through the filter and into my cup, I inspected my options....which were, in fact, very little somethings.  I opted for the vegan brownie because they're awesome but mine always end up too dry for my tastes and this one looked nice and fudgy.  It was.  Regardless, it was just a little bugger, so I scoped out the salads, too.

This is the Falafel Salad, although I'm not completely certain why it was called that.  It had whole chickpeas, but the crumbly stuff that looked like it should be mashed up falafel patties is actually bulgur wheat.  Very good bulgur wheat, but not falafel.  Regardless, I'm not complaining - this was the best salad I have eaten in a long time.  I'm really not much of a salad person, honestly, but this salad was absolutely exceptional.  There were two especially memorable things about my salad:

First, do you see those perfect, red cherry tomatoes?  Never have I ever had such aptly named vegeta-fruits.  They were incredibly sweet, so much that I didn't believe they were actually tomatoes.  There were also slices of cucumber and green bell pepper, along with the bulgur, chickpeas, and perfectly cut up lettuce.

Second, do you see that awesome green dressing?  When I was surveying my food options, I saw a quinoa salad that I will probably try someday (since I will be working walking distance from this delightful foodery - man, that will never get old!), and a lentil hummus sandwich that was also quite tempting, and finally, my falafel salad.  Since it's normally a given that salad should be vegan unless the title expressly states otherwise (you know, like Grilled Chicken Caesar, or something similar with an animal in the name), the salads and sandwiches were not labeled vegan or not.  I asked the nice young lady at the food counter if the falafel salad was vegan and she said it was, other than the yogurt-based dressing.  I made a comment on how I could just leave that off and she asked if I would like a different dressing, which is how I came to possess the blissfully verdant and eye-poppingly tangy dressing in the picture.

Score one for customer service, Pure Fare - that's a great way to make me come back and habitually spend $10-14 on lunch!  It might seem to others like "duh, of course you could get other dressing," but I'm a person who doesn't like to inconvenience people, so I normally don't think to ask if another dressing might be available.  It was very thoughtful of her to offer it to me, because otherwise I would have eaten the salad dry.  It was a delightful salad, but there was definitely an element of pure sparkle added by the neon green dressing, and you can bet I'll be back for more!

Even if it is alllllll the way over on 21st Street.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

three pounds

What does a person do with 3lbs of leftovers?  I mean, seriously.  The only reason all that was left of Seitanic Red and White Bean Jambalaya fit into only one Gladware container was because I forced it to by putting my full weight on the lid to seal it.  It won't surprise me if it busts loose in the fridge.  I hope it doesn't though, because that will be a mess to clean up.

We'll get back to that in a moment, though.  Today was an interesting day.  I had gotten myself into this panicked mindset that my little R&R Staycation was drawing to an end way too quickly.  I mean, yes, when it's over I get to go to my new job, but it's still work and no one really wants to go back to work.  Except possibly new mothers after a year of being home.  Maybe they do.

Anyway, once I realized that my last day of work was a half a week earlier than I had given notice for, I was relieved that I was 4 days into 10, rather than 5 - 40% is way better than 80% in this situation.  I got up a little before noon - I got into "bad habits" these last few days because I was so overjoyed that I didn't have to go to bed by any particular time.  Unfortunately, since I will need to return to a "workingman's" schedule next week, I don't want to let myself get into the habit of staying up later than I have in years and sleeping later than I have in, well, years.  So, once I'd had a couple of cups of coffee and a nice little breakfast, I got ready to go do stuff.  Mister was sleepy, so I decided to just wander around Center City East looking for somewhere new and fun to eat lunch with my parents on Thursday.

Local folks - have you ever been inside the Curtis Center?  To be completely honest, aside from housing offices of various companies, I have no idea what goes on in that building.  I wouldn't mind working there one day, though, for two reasons:

Reason #1 - that's the lobby!  There is a huge waterfall/fountain thing with this huge arcade with a solitary baby grand piano hanging out in the middle (roped off presumably so loonies like me don't think it's okay to play it), flanked by an Mid-Atlantic attempt at palm trees!  And I must say, I wouldn't have thought to put huge potted ferns up on 3-story high pedestals to imitate palm trees.  I wonder who has to water them...

Reason #2...well, that is actually a tie.  My dad works right around the corner (in fact we've wandered in on lunchtime breaks near Christmas to see the gargantuan tree they put up in that same lobby), so it would be great to work less than a block from him - we could have lunch every day!  The other great thing is Cooperage, which is why I saw this magnificent sight today to begin with.  I wanted to see their menu to ensure there was something Mister and I could eat because they have these awesome outdoor "booths" that I've been wanting to eat at for at least a year.  Outdoor dining season in Philadelphia is relatively short, though, because not as many places have heat lamps as they should for such adventures, but even still, autumn can be a very rainy time here.

By the way, the only reason an awesome restaurant is comparable to working close enough to my dad to have lunch with him every day is because eventually, the old man will retire, and then what will I have?  An awesome restaurant :)  love you, Dad!

Anyway, after wandering around town for a bit, I stopped into Bodhi Coffee with my book and enjoyed a tall, steamy cup of Stumptown Roast before heading home to make dinner.  Good thing I had some coffee!  Actually, it didn't take all that long to make the Jambalaya since I was using the Le Creuset of Doom, apparently.  I don't know what magical powers that pot has, but it boils water more violently and enthusiastically than any pot I've ever seen.  As such, I can't imagine why I didn't think it would cook the heck out of the Jasmine rice I used in the Jambalaya in about 10 minutes flat.  Really.  It's a good thing I thought to check on it, even though it still had at least 15 minutes to go (according to the recipe, which uses a heavy dutch oven, which I have, but didn't want to clean), it was actually starting to adhere to the bottom of the pot.

I didn't take pictures of it hot because it really wasn't all that interesting looking, but have you ever wondered what 3lbs of leftover Jambalaya looks like?  Yes, I really did weigh it on our bathroom scale.

You can't really tell, but the top is definitely a little domed upward.

I figure it will be a good thing to just reheat if there is some point this week that I was too busy doing nothing of great import to have the energy to cook.  I mean, it's happened before...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

Wow.  I have to admit, that is not customarily how I greet/receive Monday's arrival.  Of course, I also don't customarily sleep until noon and then sit in the sunshine at my kitchen table while drinking coffee and eating a tasty breakfast of pretz-a-bagels with tofutti cream cheese and a sliced pluot and reading a historical fiction about a family of witches.  And just in case I didn't love today enough, then there was the part where Mister and I went wandering down to the pier to see the Delaware River (not actually that swollen, actually) and watched some boats and Canadian geese floating in the murky, muddier-than-usual water, and when that got old, we went to Franklin Fountain for some old-fashioned ice cream (imagine my delight that they serve soy ice cream!) while we sat on a sidewalk in Old City.  Top that off with pasta with garlic bread and Centine for dinner back home and we had a pretty darn nice day!  How 'bout some pictures?

While Mister and I were perched on the wide barrier between the pier and the river, looking out over the Camden waterfront and the Ben Franklin Bridge, I realized that this was probably why I wasn't terribly impressed with the Golden Gate Bridge, in terms of its size.  I'll grant you, the scenery surrounding the Ben Franklin and a little further south, the Walt Whitman bridges is not nearly as mystical or even green as that surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm also damn sure that Marin County is far prettier (and safer) than Camden, but in terms of's nothing special.

Anyway, those were my thoughts looking out at the two bridges that connect Philadelphia proper to New Jersey.

Regardless, the San Francisco Bay, Lake Tahoe, the Pacific Ocean...the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean, even, are all far bluer and more attractive than the mud puddle that is the Delaware River.  I'm sure Hurricane Irene kicked up a bit more mud than usual, as the waters did seem a little more active than ordinary, but seriously - it was opaque.  If I had lost all my sense and put my hand a few inches into that water, I'd have lost it.  I felt kind of bad for the luxury yacht parked on the other side of the pier and explained to Mister that should I ever find $5M extra lying about, I would not hesitate to buy a luxury yacht, but there is no way I would dock it in the murky waters of Philadelphia's "shoreline."

I guess that's why my dad docks his boat at a marina an hour and a half away, in the lovely, slightly less murky Chesapeake Bay of Maryland.

Anyway, after we'd taken in the sights, we wandered along the water until we got to a stairway that led us up to Market Street and crossed over the 6-laned monstrosity that is I-95 in Philly.  Once we'd passed under an adorably 1980s-inspired archway informing us that the bridge was letting us out onto Market Street, we crossed at the light and doubled back to pay a visit to the olde-tymey soda jerks at The Franklin Fountain.  

It has a fascinating history, started up as a wacky little dream by two brothers who had found old family recipes for ice cream - real ice cream that was flavored by natural things, rather than chemically enhanced like so many tubs in the supermarket freezer aisle.  I was delighted to discover that even though they put a big emphasis on authenticity and holding true to early 20th century recipes, they made one little update and make some flavors in soy.

After I had thoroughly enjoyed my house-made cone and Mister slurped up the last of his root beer float through the biodegradable paper straw, we headed down 2nd Street, through Old City and Society Hill with a short detour through the Headhouse Shambles to arrive back at home just after the sun set.

I decided the baby tomatoes and yellowing parsley were not going to wait any longer for me, so I fed the olives, parsley, tarragon, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil to the food processor while the rotelle boiled and the halved cherry tomatoes popped and sizzled away in the saute pan.  As I set the table, someone wanted me to know that he was also interested in our dinner...

That is one of the most adorable pictures I have of him lately, as he is not normally cooperative when I try to take his picture.  It took about ten tries last night to earn his "gruntle face," so it surprised the heck out of me that he wanted dinner badly enough to sit perfectly still and make his big-eyed imploring face for the camera.

Turns out he wanted the garlic bread, which Mister shared with him (just a little crunchy piece is all he really needs to be happy and go away).  Regarding dinner itself - due to my little experiment/strike on Whole Foods, I ended up with jarred pitted kalamatas for the sauce, rather than the brined bulk olives I usually pick up at WF for this recipe.  I wouldn't recommend it.  If you insist, though, on using jarred olives, keep two things in mind, please, or you'll end up with the relatively bland and unfulfilling sauce I had tonight:

  1. Even though 12oz is theoretically and mathematically equal to a cup and a half (8oz + 4oz = 12oz, right?), a 12oz jar of olives will not actually yield more than a rounded cup of kalamatas.  This did turn out to be enough for the recipe, but just be aware.
  2. Check the label to see what the olives are being soaked in - if it's just olive oil with a dab of white vinegar, you're going to need to add some salt.  When I eat the leftovers, I promise you that either a healthy sprinkling of salt or a glug of tamari will be involved.
Stay tuned, dearies!  This week should be full of adventures as Mister and I plan to enjoy this week as a staycation of sorts while I rest up and refresh myself to prepare for my new job.  Every once in a while, playing tourist in your own locale can really remind you why you love where you live so much, and after all the speculation that Philadelphia was turning into the new Detroit, it's a helpful reminder.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Now, now, scoop your mind out of the gutter.  Remember - this is a food blog!

Although I had every intention of making Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Tapenade tonight, Mister had more Penne Arrabbiata for lunch, so I didn't think he'd want pasta for dinner.  I contemplated the menu and decided that I was in the mood for Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon, alongside heaping piles of fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes.

I made this once before, to mixed reviews.  It was my opinion that "what went wrong" was my failure to increase other quantities in the recipe when I went ahead and used the whole can of chickpeas instead of measuring out one cup.  This time around, I did alter the other ingredients accordingly, resulting in the meatier texture that was missing the first time around.  I did need a steak knife this time.

The mashed potatoes were okay.  They were better than the last batch, but I'm still working my way up to HolyCowTheseAreTheBestMashedPotatoesI'veEverEaten and we're not there yet.  These were sufficiently creamy, as I used Earth Balance as the fat and plain soymilk to make creamier.  I thought I had sprinkled them generously with salt, but I also think I underestimated the amount of mashed potatoes I would work it into.  In a sense they were almost a little sweet and that really isn't a quality Mister or I seek out in mashterpaters.

Angst was begging, so Mister gave him a little bit of his cutlet.  Angst sniffed at it a little and eventually got around to eating it.  When he came back and was sniffing at the air, I thought he wanted a piece of my cutlet as well.  That is one thing I will say for these cutlets - even if they're a little squishier than Mister would prefer and would benefit from a little more seasoning in the future, they sure do stink the whole place up in the most delicious way.  Anyway, I pulled a little piece off and gave it to Angst...who just kind of looked at it, looked at me, and started snuffling at the air again.  I told him mashterpaters don't smell like anything, but he wasn't buying it.  To prove to him he didn't want the potatoes, I gave him some.

I will never learn.

He loved them and ate them all up.

We call this his GruntleFace (as in disgruntled)
You can see his little brow furrowed, can't you?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

rock you like a hurricane

So, hopefully, I can write this post and put it live before we lose power.  Although it doesn't seem that bad, the lights have flickered and everyone else I know seems to be losing power, except for two insane friends who went out to dinner in a hurricane warning.

You're welcome.

Anyway, it's been a soggy, drippy, noisy day so far and the fun is just beginning - apparently the real good stuff is coming in about an hour or so.  I had a glorious day of being trapped in my apartment (which, after spending 13 hours a day outside of it for the last 4 and a half years is actually quite okay), drinking cups (yes, multiple!) of New England Chocolate Cappuccino coffee and eating Pretz-a-bagels, which Mister and I spied at Superfresh last night and could not resist bringing home.  I'm also 100 pages into the second reading of an Anne Rice novel old enough to be of drinking age if it was a person.  We also got a call from Mister's sister with fabulous news.  I won't tell you what it is, but here is Mister's stunning response:  "Do you know what flavor?"

Since I do anticipate losing power, I'm going to fill you in on our incredibly tasty dinner, the new menu, and then I'm going to pour some champagne and return to the Mayfair family for some good old-fashioned, time-traveling, imagery-overload fun.

I was planning to make the longest-cooking Jambalaya recipe I have, but then I realized that without the need for work-lunches this week, I didn't want that many leftovers while we were still working through the ones in the fridge.  So, instead, I pulled out The Urban Vegan to make the Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach curry.  I had some doubts about this recipe primarily because I was already pretty happy with the Isa-recipe I have from VwaV for pretty much the same meal.  I also was a little leery of her description, in which she really plays up what she claimed was a "creamy" character of this curry.

Honestly, the only curry I have ever eaten that I would call creamy involves coconut milk or yogurt (real or soy, depending on when I made it).

Mister and I unanimously agree (which is, of course, quite a challenge...) that I stand delightfully wrong. This curry is incredible and it is creamy for no good reason.  It might possibly be because I couldn't find a 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes so I just used a 15 oz can of tomato sauce, but it's not like I used prepared sauce or anything.  It truly seemed attributable to the silky spinach and creamy chickpeas.  Additionally, this recipe used a fresh chopped tomato, which I think cut down on the acidity usually unavoidable in canned tomatoes.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, this is one more reason everyone should own The Urban Vegan.  And hey, as long as you're on Amazon ordering that, you may as well see if you can qualify for free shipping by adding Mama Pea's book.  Then, after that transaction is complete, you can pre-order Celebrate Vegan and Vegan Pie in the Sky - I figure that since they're both due out in October, within a week of each other, maybe they'll ship together and you can get the supersaver free shipping on them, too.... but even if you don't, if you follow all of my instructions you'll at least end up with four killer cookbooks that didn't kill anything....

On to the menu!

1. Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Tapenade from VWaV - I'm pretty sure that will be tomorrow's dinner since it's been hanging in since last week and the cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley might band together for a mutiny soon.

2. Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon with Mashed Potatoes.  I figured I can do some slower cooked meals this week since I don't have to worry about starting at 9PM or later.

3. Seitanic Red and White Bean Jambalaya, also from Veganomicon and also awesome and slow-cooking.  I'm just going to let this one stew for hours, literally.  It's going to be incredible.

4. Pasta Della California, also from Veganomicon.  This one will wait until my rock-hard avocado ripens a little more.

5. Tofu Spinach Lasagna from The Vegan Table.  Truth be told, I've wanted to make this for quite a while, but it requires a bit more energy that I feel like exerting at 9pm and on the weekends, no matter how grand my aspirations may be, I get lazy and want nothing to do with that kind of project.  Normal people can just stir up a tub of ricotta....I have to turn a block of tofu into "ricotta."  Fortunately, the results are so worth it.

6. Penne Arrabbiata, also from The Vegan Table.  This was dinner last night and a few bites in, I determined it will also be Mister's lunch this weekend.  I had the good judgement not to add all the red pepper flakes prescribed in the recipe, but I still added too many for my tender Irish tongue.  Mister, on the other hand, loved it and dutifully had two bowls last night and one for lunch today.  I swilled the last of my Malbec to quell the pain.

Alright, I got through the post without losing electricity, so mission accomplished.  As a reward, I'm going to eat a few squares of dark chocolate, drink rose champagne, and read my book.  Enjoy your evening and if you're on the East Coast, stay safe!

the end

Wow - sorry about that huge, week-long absence.  I've been a little preoccupied, a little emotional.  It's been a hell of a week - Mom, you'll have to excuse my "curse word" this time.

Monday, I got out of work early because of another bomb threat.  Other people hating the company I worked for enough to threaten my life certainly reinforced the decision I made evident only moments before we were evacuated, and it was awesome to get out of work early, but seriously?  Another bomb threat?

Just when we were getting over all that excitement, something happened that has never happened in my lifetime, even in my dad's lifetime.  Right here, in Philadelphia (not LA or San Diego, or even my beloved Tahoe), we had an earthquake.  Yes.  An earthquake.  I keep saying it because I don't believe it.  I mean, really?  An earthquake?  In Philadelphia?  I have never felt anything like it - I was at work, about to go into a pretty intense presentation when all of a sudden, the floor started shaking.  It kind of felt like vertigo.  I actually made a joke about it being an earthquake because it did not strike me as even remotely possible that that was what happened.  But it was - Philadelphia had an earthquake - Mister said it was so severe in the actual city that he was waiting in the kitchen to catch our dishes, which were trying to shake off the shelf.

Surprisingly, Wednesday was pretty quiet, so I just let it be so... I think I even retired early that night with [unfortunately] no desire to write.  Last night, I came home to a very sick Mister, who had accidentally eaten moldy hummus.  No, I don't know how that happened, but I'm super-glad that my allergic-to-everything-but-especially-mold husband woke up this morning.

So, today... Today was my last day at work.

I'm off for ten days now, before I start my new position.  I'm really excited for some down time so I can start my new job rested and refreshed and ready to conquer the world.  I'm only slightly melancholy about leaving my old job.  I'm terrible about keeping in touch with people.  However, I'm looking at it like this: my new job should afford me a bit more time for hobbies and social interests, so theoretically, if I make an effort, I should be able to stay in touch with the few people I actually cared about there.  It was really nice having so many people wishing me well and inquiring about my next job and it amused me greatly to make a list of the people who asked me to keep them in mind if I have an opening for them at my new job, but it was also completely exhausting.

Now?  Well, now we're hunkering down to wait for the first Category 1 storm to ever make landfall within miles of my home.  We're expecting hurricane-force winds, rain, and flooding in Philadelphia, starting tomorrow evening.  Our public transit is pulling the plug on service starting tomorrow night, our governor has declared a state of emergency, and the business that never sleeps (for which I no longer work) is actually CLOSING.  Most of the hits my humble little blog has gotten these past few days are for "post apocalyptic cities."

Fortunately, Mister and I went shopping when I got home from my last day of work, so we have plenty of pasta and tomatoes and beans to get us through the storm.  I'm finishing up my Coppola malbec tonight and I have four small bottles of Rose champagne chilling in my fridge.  Of my original three-pack, I still have two bars of dark belgian chocolate in my cupboard.  I'd say we're all set.

I'm not saying I won't sneak down the street for a different kind of Hurricane, though....

Monday, August 22, 2011

magical monday (+jerk seitan)

Seriously, the only word I can use to describe today is magical.  Well, okay, maybe there are others, but they may or may not be blog-appropriate.  The overriding theme here is amusement, though, okay?

Let's go in reverse, since the magical, secret surprise is the best way to end this post, even though it's how my day began.

Mmmm....two of the happiest scents in the world came together in my kitchen tonight as I made Jerk Seitan and Coconut Rice with Toasted Coconut, both from VwaV.  I've made this a dozen times before, I'm sure, but it never stops amazing me just how darn good it tastes.  Both components are heart-achingly delicious, but when you combine them...

well, the result is just magical, isn't it?

I've figured out why there are never leftovers of this dish.  Sure, one reason is that there isn't a whole lot to bulk it up, so the seitan topping doesn't really stretch too far.  Still, it does make 4 respectable sized servings.  I think the reason there's never any left is because it tastes so good that Mister and I just stuff it in our mouths until there's no more room in our stomach.... something that does not actually become evident until after we've forced it all in.

I was prudent tonight - no matter how much I wanted to keep eating, I realized about 5 or so bites into my second helping that I was only eating a second helping because I was enjoying the taste, not because I was still hungry.  I forced myself to save that last little bit for lunch tomorrow.

Speaking of lunch...

There wasn't a whole lot of day left for me after I had lunch today.  I didn't realize it at the time and was kind of kicking myself for eating earlier than I usually do, but fortunately, getting out of work early is what afforded me the time to make a meal on a weeknight which requires an hour of marinating time.  It couldn't have been too much more than two hours after lunch when I was talking to my boss and all of a sudden, the emergency alarms went off in the building.  A quick look around at the panicking management (way to play it cool, guys...) told me that this was not a drill, so I grabbed everything I needed and headed out the door to the evacuation zone while my boss rounded up our brand new class of trainees.  What a first day at work they had!

Apparently, people in Montgomery County enjoy making bomb threats, because that was what kept us out of the building for two and a half hours (again).  Actually, that's not fair - it kept some employees outside the building for two and a half hours.  Me and anyone else who had their shift end within 3 hours of evac time got to go home, so that was a great way to end a Monday - three hours early!  I love today.

And of course, that little story leads to the Grand Finale - The Reveal (finally) of my Big Secret.  What were my boss and I discussing just before the alarms sounded and all hell broke loose?  Well, he had just finished reading through my resignation.  Yes, dear friends, today, I quit my job and then was promptly and non-coincidentally evacuated from the building before my poor boss could fully absorb what had just happened.  He wasn't happy about it, but he understands and supports my decision.

I'm not going to go into all my reasons for leaving here and now, but I will tell you that I am totally excited for the next chapter in my life, which will keep me firmly planted in the corporate landscape, but this landscape is full of concrete and noise and people and very, very tall buildings.  If I miss the trees of my current wilderness, I can take my lunch break just around the corner in the lovely and historic Rittenhouse Square.  I am so relieved to not have to make that hour and a half (each way) commute anymore and I am positively ecstatic to be working in the city where I live for the first time in ten years.  I will depart from diet trends and weight loss solutions for a new world of tech trends and innovative solutions, working for a major Philadelphia computer retailer.  My role is presently a bit undefined, but that's part of the magic and adventure - this is a huge step into the New and Unknown not only for me but also for my new bosses, as I will be transitioned into a role that will help me manage and develop the workforce once I've "learned the ropes," so to speak.

Wish me well, friends - I've been striving for this for a long time, behind closed doors and below-voice whispers and I'm thrilled that it's coming to fruition.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

choose your Pakistani adventure

When I first started cooking, I found the structure and preciseness of a recipe to be comforting; everything was under control.  When I started cooking I had nearly no confidence I would ever be more than a mediocre cook, but I figured it was worth a try to expand my cooking skills beyond veggie burgers and ghetto lo mein.

Now that I feel more comfortable in the kitchen and have thoroughly equipped myself with various cooking tools from ordinary to obscure, and done the same with my spice shelf, I find that I enjoy "tweaking" recipes as I make them more than once and adjusting recipes even the first time around if I don't think Mister or I will enjoy the contents otherwise.  I can't even begin to guess how many different ways I've substituted foods for fungus and zucchini for eggplant.

Modular Pakistani Kima is a great recipe, then, at this point in my life.  There are a few "modular" recipes from The Urban Vegan and I believe more are forthcoming when Celebrate Vegan makes its way into bookstores and homes everywhere this fall.

This recipe is kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.  I loved those when I was growing up, especially when I would stick my thumb in the last decision point so I could go back if my choice ended in death.  If you think about it, it's kind of twisted that they would have a series of children's books where if you made the "wrong" decision, you died.  I mean, the books were written in second person, so there's no getting around the fact that whatever happens, happens to "you."

Anyway, morbid children's books aside, there really isn't a choice you can make with this curry that would end badly, so it's pretty safe decision-making and sometimes we need that.

In the past, I've made this with kale, carrots, and white beans as my "choices," amidst a curry that always includes crushed tomatoes, diced potatoes, and a metric ton of curry powder - but even with the curry powder you must make a choice.  Dynise suggests 3-5 tablespoons of curry powder, stating that she goes with "the full monty," all 5 Tbsp.  I did that once and found it a little bit overwhelming, despite my love of Frontier brand curry powder, so this time I went with three.  It was fine, but I think next time we'll do 4 - it's my lucky number and a fine middle ground.

This time, I decided to use up the bag of chopped kale in my fridge (did you know the very back of my fridge - maybe yours, too - gets cold enough to make ice form on kale?  that's what I learned today), as well as the TVP that was taking up too much room in a cabinet, and I had every intention of adding green peas...until I realized what a huge amount just the kale, potatoes, and TVP, with crushed tomatoes and a cup of broth made.  Looking back, I don't think they would have contributed to the taste profile I was setting up, either.

It came out really well.  Mister and I were quite pleased and Mister had a second helping, even though I really heaped it on for the first.  Since curries usually taste even better the following day, I'm already looking forward to eating lunch tomorrow!  Speaking of tomorrow, it's going to be kind of a big day, so cross your fingers and hold your breath because we've got a Secret Reveal coming very, very soon!

these are some of my favorite things

Laughing 'til it pisses everybody off,
Pulling up my dress at a dinner meeting,
Kissing 'til my lips are ready to fall off,
Screaming all night, then just say I'm singing,
These are some of my favorite things.
 - Beth Hart - "Favorite Things"

It's a fabulous song, really - I earnestly encourage you to click the link and have a listen.

Anyway, sorry about the absence - things have been a little crazy here: upcoming life changes leading to deep, long, slightly tear-soaked conversations about the future and goals, getting trapped in a flood plain and taking 2 hours to get home from work, too much thinking, not enough writing.  Here's a quick synopsis:

Right before a long and somewhat stressful conversation about some changes coming up in the foreseeable future, Mister and I had a tasty dinner of Blessed Broccoli and Tofu StirFry from La Dolce Vegan.  It was so good, and the leftovers I had for lunch the next day, once resolutions had been reached and I was done freaking out, were even better.

Friday was a Bizarro Day but also exciting and stimulating.  Nevertheless, the end of the day couldn't come fast enough and I was more than happy to get out of work.  Unfortunately, this weird thing has been happening over the past few weeks - it waits until I'm about 10 minutes from leaving work and then the skies open up and pour rain.  That is what happened last night.  Fortunately, the nice young man who was trying to drive me to the train station also lives in Philadelphia and volunteered to take me to my actual home.  This was nice, since every single road we tried to take to the train station was flooded and emergency personnel wouldn't actually let us pass.  There were a few terrifying, fingers-crossed moments when we drove his tiny, low-to-the-ground Chrysler Crossfire through some pretty deep "puddles."

Adorable, sporty little car and if he ever gets tired of it (while it still works), I wouldn't mind taking it off his hands, but they are not built for inclement weather, much less the Apocalypse.  I haven't seen flooding that bad in years....since the last time it took me three and a half hours to get home from work.  Sorry to anyone who lives in PA and is reading this, but I have a deep-seated hatred for Montgomery County.  It loves to flood there.  I don't appreciate it.

Anyway, two and a half hours after leaving the building, I arrived safely home in Philadelphia with no desire to cook but very hungry.  Mister suggested Maoz for dinner and I was absolutely on board with a falafel salad.

Tonight, then, after successfully making it to and from lessons without washing away in the effusive sunlight, I came home and slow-cooked a nice hearty dinner: Tasty Tempeh TVP Chili, also from La Dolce Vegan.

If you don't think that looks hearty and savory and chewy and all the things a good chili should be.... check for a pulse, please.

We love Sarah Kramer's chili, but I haven't made this recipe in a while because Mister is allergic to tempeh and did not at all appreciate the time I made this with barley substituting for the tempeh.  This time around I used TVP and it made an incredible difference.  This may very well be our new favorite chili recipe and we ate every last morsel with the help of our Tostitos "spoons."  We also love (at least, our sometimes over-packed fridge loves) how all the recipes in La Dolce Vegan are the right size for our two-human-one-kitty family and there are rarely leftovers.  That was certainly the case tonight!

After dinner and dishes, I got down to my favorite part of the week - menu planning!  I might have a different favorite part of the upcoming week, but we'll get to that when it's time. For now, feast your eyes on this week's list of...well, feasts.

1. Pasta e Fagioli with Spinach from Appetite for Reduction.  Actually, although Maoz (and our 1-block proximity to it) is one favorite thing and the chili recipe is another favorite thing, I came up with the title of the post because this week's menu is a throw-back to a lot of my favorite recipes that I haven't made in a while.  Normally, when I plan my menu, I pull out a book or two and force myself to pick recipes from those two.  Tonight, I allowed myself the luxury of hopping throughout my cookbook collection if one recipe reminded me of another I'd rather make.  This is how this recipe came to be part of the menu - I was looking in The Urban Vegan and came upon her Pasta e Fagioli recipe, but I wanted to make this one instead.  So there you go.

2. Modular Pakistani Kima from The Urban Vegan.  This is a great recipe because I can pick a different combination of ingredients from her provided lists each time I make it.  I've made it a few times, but this time I'm using yet another configuration of ingredients - kale + TVP + peas + all the standard stuff.   This is a very pantry-friendly dish.

3. Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach, also from The Urban Vegan.  That's all I have to say about that for the moment.

4. Spicy Ragout of Vegetables and Tofu from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.

5. Jerk Seitan on Coconut Rice, both from Vegan with a Vengeance, and a recipe that I specifically sought out after something else reminded me of its amazingness.

6. Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Kalamata Tapenade, also from VwaV.  I had actually forgotten about this recipe (which seems like a statement that should get me hung) and only "rediscovered" it because I was flipping through the book looking for the Jerk Seitan recipe as well as the recipe for Sunny Blueberry-Corn Muffins, which I will be baking tomorrow to share with the nice young man who went way out of his way to get me home when SEPTA didn't feel like doing so (probably because their tracks were underwater, the trains are electric-powered, and the busses could cross the moat that was developing around my business center).

Anyway, I'm off to start writing a long-overdue letter....stay tuned for more fun and the revelation of Secret #2 shortly...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

basmati biryani

I've solved the mystery.  It really had been Brown Rice's fault all along.  I'm going to go out on a limb and assume it's the whole "complete grain" thing, with the germ and bran being intact which prevents brown rice from cooperating with my evil plans to saute and cook it with other stuff.  If Basmati is good enough for traditional Indian cooking, it's good enough for me!

I knew before I even got home that I was going to make Vegetable Biryani from La Dolce Vegan for dinner.  How could I go wrong?  It's fast, it's easy, it has relatively few ingredients to fuss with and the spice mixture comes together in less than a minute.  If that's not enough, it's delightfully flavorful, especially since I substituted Trader Joe's broth for the recipe-prescribed water.

I'll admit, I was still a bit skeptical that everything else in the pot would let the rice cook, especially in the short 15-20 minute time-frame provided, but to my surprise and joy, it most certainly did.  So, in about a half hour, I went from gather ingredients to gathering my husband for dinnertime.

This is a great biryani recipe, especially since it's so easy, but I'll admit, it does make me crave the more labor-and-time-intensive recipe in my Moosewood cookbook, so I might have to pull that out for a weekend meal some time.

By the way, the long-promised post is up about my recently not-so-great experience at Whole Foods, if you want to stop by and check it out.

If not, you won't hurt my feelings :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

pizza and donuts

Seriously, can a man have a happier birthday than this?

  • freshly ground and brewed Blue Bottle Coffee when he wakes up
  • a Wawa Hoagie for brunch
  • Pizza for dinner with a gourmet cream soda
  • and a Giant Donut for dessert
I don't see how.  Oh, and gourmet mustards for gifts.  Yeah, I'd say Mister's having a pretty happy birthday.  He'd probably prefer his "cake" didn't have pretty pink candles, but hey, some days you're the bird and some days you're the statue.

After a couple cups of coffee, I showered, dressed, and set off on my quest to Williams-Sonoma (I could honestly go broke there, especially with MAC right across the street).  I had one main objective:

Mister loves donuts.  I remember when I learned that - I don't think we'd been dating all that long, but let me set up for you what my perception of him was at that time: When Mister and I started dating, he was the manager of the mechanical department of a Bike Line store on the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia.  He was actively involved in mountain biking, urban trials, and competitive racing.  He had the talent to have gone from high school into a professional soccer league, but went to college instead.  He lived on Clif bars and water, from what I could see.

What I'm trying to say is Mister took really good care of himself and ate healthier than anyone I'd ever met.  So, imagine my surprise the first time we went on a road trip and he explained the necessity of starting at Dunkin' Donuts.  It was then I saw a darker side of Mister.  A side that can't live without egg 'n' cheese bagel sandwiches and donuts (though, to his credit, these are absolutely "sometimes treats").

So, many donuts later, here we are and at the stroke of midnight last night, I said "happy birthday" to Mister for the tenth time.  So today, I wanted to make him a huge, dual-flavored birthday donut.  The flavor selections were carrot cake and spice cake - I figured they'd go well together.  Unfortunately, we may never know.

I started out by making the recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and although it does make a very tasty cake, I think it's better left to tiny cupcakes - it didn't want to hold a ring shape and when I inverted it out of the cake pan and onto the rack, it pretty much fell apart.

Ugly, yes, but very good.  We ate half of it before dinner (it's not very big - don't judge).  My second try went a little better.  Actually, it went so much better that it didn't matter that what was supposed to be one layer of a two-layer donut cake fell apart and fell into our bellies.

The second "layer" was made from the spice cake recipe I tested for Dynise's cookbook over the winter. Fortunately, there was enough puffing-up agent in the batter to make this one create a whole round (and stable) donut all by itself!

I left it on the counter to cool down while Mister obediently averted his eyes anytime he had to pass through the kitchen and I got ready for dinner.  We didn't go anywhere very special (aka fancy), but I wanted to get dressed up and Mister humored me.  So, instead of a classic pizza joint where Mister could just keep wearing his t-shirt and jeans, we went to a fancy, gourmet, Stephen Starr pizza joint where it was hip enough that I could dress up a little without looking like a jerk.

I was happy to see my old friend, the Marinara Pizza, with it's perfect, fresh-tasting, home-made pizza sauce with fresh oregano leaves and paper thin slices of garlic sauteed in olive oil before being added to the perfectly cooked pie.  Mister had the wood-burning oven in his direct line of sight and was very amused by how carefully they made sure each pizza was cooked "just right," apparently quite invested in a job others might not consider "skilled labor."

Just below mine was Mister's Margherita Pizza, with more delightful sauce, melted mozzarella, and huge basil leaves.

After we'd stuffed ourselves with thin-crust pizza and some green things we ate as appetizers, we headed home and I began the process of making icing for the donut.

I discovered that Tofutti "cream cheese" is stronger than my measuring cup.  When it's not Mister's birthday anymore, I'll have to get him to fix that somehow.

Shortening intrigues me, disgusts me, and impresses me, all at once.  I have had this shortening for a long time - long enough that I can't remember when I got it.  Honestly, I totally expected to open it up and find it had changed colors, grown hair, or had little friends living inside of it.  I mean, it's not even refrigerated!  Yet, it looks just like it did the first time I opened it (aside from the missing bits).

Anyway, I creamed together the cream cheese and the shortening and then added powdered sugar incrementally.  Probably a little too much, but I was following the recipe, so....

Well, okay, I added like 2 teaspoons of soymilk to make it a little more spreadable.  Aside from that, I followed the recipe.  Once I'd terrorized poor little Angst with the electric mixer, I had a nice pliable frosting for the donut.

Angst wishes it was his birthday.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

choices, choices...

I've had a frustrating couple of days.  Not all day each day, but there has been at least a few frustrating hours between the two of them where I've been trying to find somewhere new and exciting to have dinner tomorrow night to celebrate Mister's birthday.  Philadelphia is really starting to be known as a foodie town, thanks in no small part to the innovative and contrary efforts of Jose Garces and Stephen Starr (who is preparing to open his 19th restaurant shortly).  I would like to write Mr. Starr a letter, though, and it would go something like this:
Dear Mr. Starr, I think you have a lot of neat ideas and your restaurants are masterpieces of design and creative cuisine.  However, I am only able to dine at two of them.  Would you please open a vegetarian restaurant for #20?  Thanks!
In case you're curious, those two restaurants are Pizzeria Stella and The Continental.  One of his restaurants, The Dandelion, has a head chef who is on record stating that "Vegetarianism is a disease."  Obviously, we won't be dining there.  There are a couple of others that have enough "small plates" (AKA appetizers and salads) that we could piece together a light meal, but it really turns me off when I get past the appetizers and salads to find that a restaurant does not offer a single entree my husband or I could eat.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia is a town of carni-foodies.  Every menu carries the coveted foie gras and most offer really ethical main courses like veal with an appetizer of bone marrow... Heavens, do people even think about that when they order it?  You have bone marrow, too, did you know?

Anyway, after hours of poring over websites and even directing a snippy tweet at OpenTable about the dearth of vegetarian restaurants (there is one on their site) available for reservations, I broke the news to Mister that there are absolutely no new restaurants in Philly worthy of my hard-earned dollars right now. We are both actively anticipating the opening of Vedge - it cannot come soon enough.  The closing of Horizons left a huge hole in the Philadelphia fine dining scene, especially for people like us who would prefer to have choices on a menu, rather than ordering the one entree offered that we can consume and trying to add creativity through appetizers.

Anyway, although it was Mister's request that we look around for new restaurants, I keep forgetting how much he loves pizza more than anything but me.  So we'll be dining at Stella tomorrow night.  I'm pretty happy about that, actually, because I've been wanting to go there for weeks.

In the course of our conversation about which Italian, Pizza-Serving restaurant we would dine at (Stella, Pietro's, or La Fourno), Mister got confused and thought we were eating out tonight.  I said I thought we would go out tomorrow, since that's his actual birthday and I did take the day off from work and everything.  He agreed, so then we had to decide what was for dinner tonight.  I consulted the menu and asked him if he wanted an Italian noodle dish or an Asian noodle dish.  Not surprisingly, as my husband seems to be seeking balance in his old age, he said we should have the Asian dish since we would have Italian tomorrow night.  As I walked back to the kitchen he was solving the philosophical conundrum of whether pizza is inherently Italian since all cultures seem to have embraced it.  I pointed out that okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) is not even remotely similar to "Italian" pizza.

With that brilliant contribution, I got to chopping up my bok choy napa cabbage for Ginger Bok Choy and Soba from Appetite for Reduction, with napa cabbage subbing for the bok choy, which has successfully hidden from me two weeks in a row, reinforcing my belief that bok choy is only available at Whole Foods.  Which sucks, since I've committed to avoiding WF for August.  Still saving money, by the way!

It came out so well, I'm not sure if I would have liked it as much with bok choy anyway!  To be completely honest, as I was slicing the napa cabbage, I nearly put the book away and grabbed The Accidental Vegan to just go ahead and make Yakisoba, but I wanted to give Isa a chance and I was not disappointed.

Since the fine edge I walk with Yakisoba is that the recipe calls for "too much ginger," I found that this recipe had it just right with 1 tablespoon of minced ginger.  I will definitely make this in the future because

  1. I want to try it with real bok choy (so we'll at least have to wait until September, it seems).
  2. Mister did not eat around or complain about the soba noodles - in fact, he had two big bowls!
  3. It came together so quickly Mister thought I was kidding when I told him dinner was ready.  This is a very helpful quality during busy times at work or when I just don't feel like cooking (I know, it's crazy, but sometimes, I don't feel like making dinner from scratch after working all day and spending 3 hours commuting there and back).
Oh, hey - speaking of choices, there's a new post up at Pretty Woman in an Ugly World.  Go ahead and check out the epic battle between Sephora and MAC for my consumer vote and see how the winner won!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

try new meals, but keep the old

One is silver and the other, gold.

Oh, no, wait a second - that's friends.  Make new friends, but keep the old... Was anyone else a Girl Scout? In case you can't tell, I was.  I did the cute little Brownies thing and then felt very mature when I progressed to a green uniform...until I realized two things:

  1. The only thing you need to do to enhance your "rank" in Girl Scouts is get older.  Not die.  That may help some people achieve great things, but I need a little more incentive.
  2. Only dorks are Girl Scouts after Elementary School.  Sorry if I just offended any life-long Woman Scouts out there (I guess that's the rank we'd be at by now, right?), but that's how it was where I grew up.  It might be different elsewhere.
Anyway, the point of using that little ditty is that I didn't make the new meal on the old menu for dinner tonight.  I made the old meal on the new menu.  Follow?  No?  Okay, I'll break it down - The only thing left on my old menu was Ginger Bok Choy and Soba, which is a new recipe, since I don't think I've made it before (to my elderly recollection).  I'm having a little trouble rounding up the enthusiasm to make it, though, especially since napa cabbage will be subbing for the ever-elusive bok choy.  So, instead, I made an old favorite from my new menu, Punjabi Peppers and Tofu.

I've made this at least a dozen times before, so I'm not going to rave about how easy it is to make or how incredibly tasty the tofu is, but I'll show you...

After the tofu had a little quality time with the oil and skillet, I piled in the chopped red and green peppers for a short saute while I chopped the tomato and assembled the spices.

Does it get easier than this?  Yes.  I needed exactly one teaspoon of each of those things.  One measuring spoon makes everything easier.

Here it is, coated with that delightful spice mixture and sauteed to juicy perfection.  Mister and I noticed, between this and whatever thing I made with tofu last week that Trader Joe's tofu is much sturdier than Whole Foods.  It's denser and therefore chewier, which makes Mister happy since he could still probably live his life happily without his crazy wife making tofu a part of his regular diet.

I guess I could fill you in on the rest of the new menu, couldn't I?

1. Ginger Bok Choy and Soba from Appetite for Reduction.'s still on the menu.  Honestly, I would have made it tonight, but Mister said "no pasta" because he had leftover Broccoli con Pasta (from last night) for lunch today and felt that would be overkill, and I really want him to perceive soba noodles as pasta.

2. Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil.  I have no idea where I got this recipe but it's killer and it's tomato season here in Pennsylvania.  Also, I'm amazed I haven't yet killed the hydroponic basil plant my mom gave me a couple of months ago, but it's really not looking that great, so I plan to use up the healthy-looking leaves that are left on it and then try again with a new plant.  I think soil might be important next time.

3. Blessed Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry from La Dolce Vegan, as are the rest of these recipes.  It's been a little while since I've gone into this book and I do enjoy cooking from just one cookbook sometimes, since I can just leave it there on the counter until tomorrow night.

4. Vegetable Biryani because I recommended this to a friend via Twitter and now I want some.  And because it is super-simple and extremely tasty for how little effort goes into it.  If I have some downtime coming, maybe I'll go back to the original and spend a few hours making an "authentic" biryani.  We'll see.

5. Tasty Tempeh TVP Chili, even though this is usually a cold-weather food, I found myself craving a nice, hearty chili.  It could be because Percy Street BBQ, owned by one of our celeb chefs, just won "Best Pie" in the Best of Philly issue of Philadelphia magazine and in addition to all the grilled animal bits, they also have a vegan chili.  In any case, hold the alarms - I got the chips.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

meatless moroccan

I know what you're thinking.  "This is a blog about vegan food.  Why would we need to specifically state something is meatless?"  You are absolutely right - there is no chance I will ever post a meaty recipe here, though I can't promise I won't share stories about Adventures in Meatland.

However, if you'll recall, when I listed Moroccan Chickpeas and Zucchini from Appetite for Reduction in my menu, I expressed my glee for finding the first Moroccan recipe in my repertoire that did not include fake ground beef.

Not too surprisingly, it tasted a lot cleaner since it was mostly zucchini and tomato.  The chickpeas did add a nice, savory "meatiness" to the dish and the carrots cooked down to a smushiness I never though I would find so delightful!  I could have done with a bit less broth and Mister was raiding the fridge for dipping bread within two or three bites, but I think it's more a matter of draining it off before serving, rather than considering it an actual sauce.

It's not that it doesn't taste good, it's just that a puddle of broth is not always what you want to see appearing to soak and consume what is supposed to be perfectly cooked (with my new za'atar secret) and chewy bulgur.  I was going to follow Isa's recommendation for couscous, until I pulled it out and realized how I didn't have quite a cup and I was actually going for two cups with this dish.

I can't deny that I'm excited that tomorrow is Friday.  I'm also a little excited about not being compelled to create a new menu when I get home from work, since I have a three day weekend and we're 2 dinners behind due to Mister's narcolepsy.  It's my guess that there are even more frequent buses and fewer shoppers at Trader Joe's on a Monday... I might just find out!