Out and About in December (OR: Things I Ate & Drank This Month)

 

Hey guys. Me again. Twice in one week? It’s like I’m a real live blogger or something. But with my family stuck in Southern Oregon* due to a huge blizzard, and time off work, I find myself with more free time than usual. So what are we waiting for? Let’s do this!

Some December eats and drinks:

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This is the ‘Merican Waffle from Portobello. I ate this. Well, half of this. I am going to show all 32 years of my life and proudly refrain from making any boob comments. But if you feel the need in the comments, by all means go ahead.

 

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This is a cider sampler from Bushwhackers, an all-cider all-the-time bar in Southeast Portland. Love the concept, but three of these ciders just tasted like homebrews to me. Which, come to think of it, maybe they were. The other two were pleasant—a little sweeter and more filtered. After spilling one of these little guys all over my lap (Just call me graceful), I tried a bottle from Corvallis that tasted like apple cider—there were notes of nutmeg and spice. Super yummy.

 

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One of my favorite things about pho is the big plate of fresh greens that comes out before the broth bowl. Jalapeños, cilantro and lime: these are a few of my favorite things. This was at Pho Dalat on 39th (I mean Caesar Chavez Blvd?) and Hawthorne.

 

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A new-ish Tiki bar in my neighborhood opened recently. This drink was full of crushed ice, booze and fruit juice. Hello, sailor. I don’t usually like ‘Tiki-style” drinks—dark rums and tropical  citrus juices– so most of the drink menu here doesn’t appeal to me, but there were a handful of cocktails with light rum and juices like passion fruit and mango.

 

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The requisite Veggie Grill meal. If it looks like I eat here all the time, it’s because I do. I’ve finally figured out how to order without spending one million dollars and feeling like I want to throw up from eating so much after each visit: Order a small salad (not on the menu, but they’ll do it) and share an entrée (I like to turn their Santa Fe Chicken sandwich into a wrap, because as you know, everything is better in a tortilla. Everything.). Upgrading your side to mac and cheese (with a side of chipotle ranch) isn’t required, but man oh man, it makes every meal even better.

 

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I found a new favorite restaurant!!! It’s called Shandong and it’s in the Hollywood District. They will happily veganize almost the whole menu for you (the appetizers are already pre-made little meat pockets like wontons and stuff and can’t be veganized) (yes, I just said meat pockets). There’s a complimentary pot of hot tea on the table, a remarkably well-cultivated wine and cocktail list, and…HOUSEMADE NOODLES. That your server BRINGS SCISSORS TO CUT THE NOODLES AT YOUR TABLE. And then LEAVES THE SCISSORS with you at your table. Most fun ever. I love interactive meals.

The dry-sautéed green beans were wicked good (there’s a lot, though. Two of us couldn’t finish them.) and my bowl—Judy’s Bowl—came with housemade noodles, spinach, fresh jalapeños, shitake mushrooms, garlic and white wine broth, and I added fried tofu to my bowl. It was huge and delicious, just the way I like my noodle bowls.

 

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I made shape cookies. I do this every year, but this time I used a new recipe. I didn’t like it as much as my original recipe (the cookies weren’t as soft) but they still turned out okay. I mean, when you put frosting on something, it makes even mediocre cookies taste great. I would eat frosting off the floor and then declare it the best floor I ever ate.

 

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Kale Salad. Because what’s better than kale salad? It’s a short list: popcorn, champagne and tacos. Top Four favorites, right there. This Kale Salad was at the Cheese Bar up on SE Belmont, and is naturally vegan: no modifications needed. It was real tasty.

 

And from my Instagram feed:

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Champagne at home with the roomie during our gift exchange date

 

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Vegan sausage and cheese filled mini croissants with potato and kale scramble, at home

 

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Kale Salad at work

 

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Butternut squash ravioli with browned butter and sage sauce and toasted hazelnuts, at home

 

….And, I just heard from my mom; she and my little brother are on their way up! They made it through the snow and I will get to celebrate Christmas with my family after all. Yay! Watoosie! Happy Holidays!!

2012 Recipe Recap


 

Oh hey guys!

I started this epic post of my year-in-review, month-by-month, with gads of pictures, and got to April before I was like, geez louise, this is soooooooooo much information! Everyone will be nodding off by May.  I tried to throw in some things that didn’t make it on to the blog, like my trip to South Korea, but it got so involved and bam. done with that idea. So instead, we’ll go for a smaller, more manageable theme of 2012: my favorite recipes that I created and posted.

 

In no particular order (oh, I mean in chronological order):

Dijon Dill Pasta Salad

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This pasta salad is the best pasta salad. If you like food that’s really delicious. I made this a handful of times this spring, and have been thinking about it again. The combination of dill and lots of veggies and Wayfare’s sweet and salty bacon bits blends together to create the perfect flavor and texture combination.

 

Vegan No-Bake Birthday Cake Balls

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Oh, hello, little beauties. These treats are not really what you could classify as ‘healthy’ but they are no-bake and gluten-free and contain nuts and are sweetened with dates, so for a little indulgence, they’re healthy-ish. They’re so fun to make and take only a couple of minutes. Once made, keep refrigerated and pop out for a little bite of birthday bliss.

 

Vegan & Gluten-Free Dance Magic Bars

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With a nut-based crust and coconut milk-based sweetened condensed milk, these magic bars are seriously—really and truly—100% magical. I’m not kidding you guys. Just eat one and you’ll know what I’m talking about. These give you POWERS, man. Or maybe it’s just the sugar high from the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and sweet and creamy milk layer.

 

Summer Kale Salad

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Kale salads are the cat’s pajamas, the bee’s knees…they really float my boat and blow my skirt up, if you know what I mean. And this one—with tangy cranberries, sweet strawberries and omega 3-rich hemp hearts was one of my favorites of the many many many many kale salads I had this year.

 

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti Squash, and the people that eat it, use to confuse me. But now I’m happily a believer. In addition to being adorable and fun to make, these really do taste like spaghetti (when you top it with traditional red sauce and Italian herbs).

 

Halloween Cupcakes with Marzipan Fingers and Pumpkins

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This recipe for chocolate cupcakes goes way back to an index card in my mom’s kitchen, which I think she got from her mom—it’s a recipe from the Depression era when most families couldn’t afford eggs and dairy (Hmmmm. Was this before they were subsidized? Was the Depression era a reason WHY the dairy and egg industry became subsidized? Something to file in my ‘Things to Google’ task list.). This chocolate cupcake (or cake) recipe is very simple and made from a handful of common pantry ingredients. The frosting is also a recipe from my baking days in high school, just veganized. The marzipan pumpkins, fingers and skulls came about through a process of Googling and trial-and-error (and stained orange & red hands).

This recipe is Halloween-specific, but the cupcakes can be made any time, and you can do whatever your heart desires with marzipan (santa hats! easter eggs! spring flowers! american flags! champagne bottles! OMG Champagne Bottles!).

 

I’m still planning to do a bunch of Christmas baking this year—chex mix and muddy buddies (oh hey! I can use Earth Balance coconut peanut butter this year!) and cookies and truffles and the usual goodies. Just praying (in my agnostic way. So, hoping.) that my family can fight their way through the blizzard in Southern Oregon and make it up in time for Christmas (anyone know any good red-nosed reindeers?) to join in.

My Week In Review

 

Hello guys, welcome to the first (and most likely only—we discussed my attention span in my previous post) edition of My Week In Review.

This past week, I:

  • Ate these vegan nachos at Moonshine Tavern while discussing a new project with my friend Amado (hint: PODCAST).

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  • Decided that enough was enough and asked my friend Rob to take some professional shots of me. By professional, I mean not in a photobooth and not eating a spaghetti sandwich or a taco, which is my typical MO.

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Exhibit A: this photo from 2011 was my profile picture for longer than I care to share. But come on, ya’ll. A spaghetti sandwich. Made with a grilled cheese. Side note: my hair was so short!

I don’t have any of the pictures yet (and lord knows YOU WILL ALL KNOW when I get them cuz they’ll be all over my Facebook and Yelp and Twitter and Blog and Pinterest and Instagram and whatever new social media comes out between now and then) but I do have photos of the photographer taking pictures of me, because I’m post-modern and stuff.

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  • Took a trip to Astoria (on the Oregon Coast, about a two hour drive from Portland) with my friend Zach. I was in desperate need of a getaway (bruised heart problems, yadda yadda), so this was PERFECT timing.

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We played Bingo at the best little dive bar in the world:

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I swear to god, the person taking the picture and the bartender TOLD US to get up on the bar for this picture. This was not my idea, though I gleefully complied.

…and we ordered a sampler of fancy (read: expensive) and delicious beers at Ft George Brewery…

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…and checked out the fogginess of the Oregon Coast from the vantage point of the Astoria Column.

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  • I attended a Sausage Party.

It’s not what you think.

Or is it?  It was just a vegan sausage potluck, guys. Gosh.

Fennel SausagesGluten Free Sausagesoupmushroomsbiscuitspizza

It was tons of fun and I ate the heck out of some vegan sausage. Some highlights included:

  • Apple, Brussels Sprouts and Soyrizo Soup
  • Homemade Pepperoni on English Muffin Pizzas
  • Fennel Sausage Links
  • Soyrizo-stuffed Mushrooms
  • Cheesy Apple Sage Sausage and Jalapeño Muffins

 

  • I ate at Veggie Grill’s Grand Opening of their 3rd Portland location in Hillsboro (their treat):

the spreadwingsRollersMac and CheeseB Wing SaladPudding

I could eat Veggie Grill every single day. Now, if only they’d put their vegan Caesar back on the menu…

I tackled a big bowl of pho after an extensive and always-hilariously fun grocery shopping trip with the roomie (love that gal so much):

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Had a few Vida Vegan meetings:

One was at the Portland Art Museum, to go over a few minor setbacks we encountered (don’t worry, Vida Vegan Con goers, it’s going to work out even better for us in the long run!)

Art Museum Outside

 

And the other was at a potential Galarama + Silent Auction site:

Staver Locomotive

So pretty, right??

 

I’ve also been munching my way through the treats in this Healthy Surprise package that they sent me. This company specializes in sending vegan, gluten-free and soy-free snack to your door. Review coming soon.

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Just another week in my life. I do feel very fortunate that I’ve carved out a life that keeps me busy and happy and surrounded by fantastic friends and great food.

 

Note: This is in addition to my normal 40-45 hour work week at the restaurant. I don’t blog about that because, well, is that boring? I don’t know; it’s not to me. If anyone is interested in a ‘Day In The Life’ type post about what I do in a day as a restaurant manager, let me know and I will totally consider it.

 

…..And now I want a spaghetti sandwich. Great.

Autumn Walk {Photo Essay}

 

Fall is hands-down my all-time favorite season. I mean, spring’s awesome, and summer’s gorgeous, and winter is cozy, but there’s just something so… satisfying about Fall.

It involves crisp chilly air, shorter days, bright sun-speckled leaves, pumpkin everything, maple anything, root vegetables, things involving spices like cinnamon and clove and nutmeg, creamy chai lattes & hot chocolates,  bright vibrant hues of reds and oranges and yellows, and my favorite autumn wardrobe staples: tights and cardigans with boots.

 

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Every fall, I seem to end up taking a walk and taking photos. This year, it came about as an invite from a new friend. Who am I to turn down a lovely Autumn stroll with good company?

We sort of started out aimless, and ended up walking up to Alberta Street, probably about 2 or 3 miles each way. It took us a good 3 or 4 hours, but that included two stops into everyone’s favorite gluten-free vegan bakery in Portland, Back to Eden, and lunch at my favorite taco shop in the multiverse, El Nutri Taco.

Before we hit up the delightful tacos, we strolled and stopped to take pictures of whatever caught our fancy. I’m always a sucker for flowers, bright colors, sunlight through leaves, and spider webs.

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Sunflowers and bright orange pumpkins: check.

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We walked through the Sabin neighborhood, which had community gardens and a Hydro Park. How cool is that? A Hydro Park. Never heard of it before, but it was just a quiet little playground in the shadow of a couple of water towers.

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We spotted lots of fruits and vegetables growing. Tomatoes, figs, and what I thought could be an apple tree, but was actually… a persimmon tree! Cool.

 

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Love this rose:

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We had a fun discussion about squirrels while we strolled. We spotted a lot of them–hoarding nuts, bounding across yards, and running up trees. I asked my friend if he could trade places with a squirrel for a day, would he? (Would you?)

He answered in the affirmative. Makes sense. If I could trade places with another animal for a day, I totally would. It would be weird for a minute, but very interesting. And what would happen to your body while you were in another creature’s body? I think your body would then be inhabited by whoever’s place you took. But think how weird that would be, for the other creature. \ If a tiny little squirrel were suddenly in a big ol’ bulky human body, would it move around? Would it just lie still for the day, afraid to move? I imagine it would take some time to get used to so much more body mass than one is used to. It would probably feel so small, rattling around in a big human body, having to stand upright and everything.

Or, alternatively, can you imagine occupying a human body for so long, and then being in a tiny little squirrel body that can climb trees? Would you go for it, scampering up trees all day long, or would you stay close to the ground? I think I would go for it and scamper the heck out of my squirrelness for  day.

Anyway. Here’s a little plant doing jazz hands:

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…And once we got to Alberta, and off the squirrel talk,  there were bumper stickers…

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…And a big chain, locking out who knows what. The riff raff of Alberta Street, I suppose.

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…And then, finally (FINALLY), there were tacos:

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Hello, gorgeous.

El Nutri is my jam. I ordered the Green Taco (beans, avocado, lettuce, cilantro, tomato and I ordered it without the vegan cheese) and a potato taco—the same as the bean but minus the avocado and beans and with potatoes.

They were good.

Like, really good.

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…And the long walk back home was made a little more poem-y by finding this on the way:

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A Poetree!

Which wouldn’t be complete without a poem:

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I like that it’s about disorder and untidiness. It speaks to me. Well, it speaks to the general state I keep my house.

 

Last picture:

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These are called Hen and Chicks, and I had no idea they had such a random and cool name. Cute little succulent buggers. 

For previous posts and photo essays about Portland Fall:

* Fall 2008

* Fall 2009

* Japanese Gardens 2010

* Fall 2010

* Fall 2010 Apples and Gin Tasting

* Fall in Cave Junction 2011