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Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Glut of Goods

Despite having a salad in the fridge waiting to be eaten, and despite needing to save dollahs, G and I went out to eat again and took a glut of photos of delicious, delicious Beyond Sushi.

Green machine (cucumber, asparagus, basil marinated veggies, 6 grain rice with wasabi mayo) on the left, Roll of the month on the right (avocado, roasted eggplant, arugula, topped with white bean puree and a tomatoey sauce!!!!) How do they come up with this stuff?? Also two pieces of the month, roasted eggplant with sumac.  The white bean/eggplant piece was seriously incredible. Why can't it be an all the time roll??
More pics. Get jealous.

After seeing G's cannoli picture from the wedding, Abby Bean mentioned Vegan Treats' cannolis. I, too, used to LOVE cannolis so I paid the money and embraced the gluttony.

One for me, one for G.

I got these from the Vegan Treats outpost in NY, Atlas Cafe on 2nd ave and 4th. It was the first time I've ever actually bought anything from there. Looks like they have a lot of tasty stuff.
As for the cannoli, sadly, I was underwhelmed. I remember cannolis being crunchy and probably due to the unfortunate temperatures in the city this past week, the crust part was soft and didn't really taste so fresh. They should store the cannolis in the fridge.

The inside was also way too sweet. I remember the filling as This just tasted like sugar and butter. Sad.
To counter-balance the cannolis, some greenery. My friend happened to have his own glut of goods: an overflowing CSA fridge. He brought me some red leaf lettuce and sugar snap peas. Thanks Matthew!

Look who came with the lettuce!

I made a big salad with the head of lettuce that lasted two lunches:

Day one, eating most of the lettuce out first. Lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, nooch, Braggs, cayenne.

Day two, with the addition of falafel.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peacefood Downtown

Despite having a pretty awesome (if occasionally frustrating and smelly and expensive and anxiety inducing) city at my disposal, I'm a very territorial person and rarely venture out of my geographical comfort zone (which unfortunately has to include work, though not very comforting a place to be.) This means that, right now, I'm one of those "I don't go above 14th street" people, which UGH.
It has long been a plan of mine to visit a particular exhibit at the Museum of Natural History and stop at Peacefood, a vegan cafe, on the Upper West Side but it is SO HARD for me to get out of the house, let alone the comfort zone. Anyway, lucky for me (?), now I can be lazy and territorial and give up on plans and just visit the new Peacefood Downtown since it's only a block away from work.
I'd previously just been in to grab a vegan cookie or mini brownie (why don't I have pictures of those?) but always eyed the menu.
G and I went on lunch the other day. It's very spacious and light inside and there was plenty of seating. The waitress was attentive and the food came pretty quickly, which is nice because I always get anxious "getting lunch" that it'll take longer than my hour and suggfkgfra it ruins the whole lunch. Maybe I should just, like, breathe or something.
ANYWAY G got the Tempeh Avocado sandwich, a pretty standard vegan sandwich:

Served with jicama slices. He wasn't especially impressed, although he often says he doesn't like tempeh soooo maybe that was part of it?? Apparently it was cut a little to thick for his liking and would have been better sliced like tempeh bacon. I tried a bite and it was good but nothing special. It was a little flavorless and the bread was maybe a bit too dense for the sandwich.
I got the Caesar salad, also something that shows up on vegan menus pretty frequently but is never quite done exactly the same way.

There were thin tempeh chunks in the salad, that added a good bit of flavor, but isn't really traditional. The inclusion of tomatoes was also kind of weird, especially since they were just regular, watery, not yet summer tomatoes. The croutons on top were good and garlicky, though, and overall, I liked the salad.
Maybe we didn't order especially well but there isn't exactly anything that stood out on the menu as "must try" or "will never see on any other menu ever." I HAVE heard good things about the chickpea fries, from a reputable source, and the juices sound good.
The chocolate chip cookies are a different story. Greg has deemed them the "new best cookies in the neighborhood," ousting even his favorite Paradis! I will have to go back and get shots of those for youseguys.
Also of note, G tossed me the check and said, "Yeahh.... I think I'm gonna let you  buy me this one." (Not that it was especially expensive - I paid it without complaining BUT STILL GREG)
One of these days I'll get up to the AMNH. And now, it is HOT and I must bid you good evening.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Vegan at a Long Island Wedding

Yesterday, G and I went out to Long Island for his cousin's wedding.
The ceremony was at the Vanderbilt mansion and museum, which was gorgeous! I didn't bring my camera to the ceremony but I wish I had. The grounds were beautiful, and right on the water. There were fountains overlooking the bay and the day was gorgeous and the sky was so clear. (Also his cousin looked really beautiful.) After the ceremony we were shown on a tour of the house. I'm a history nerd, so I loved it.
Later we drove out to the reception in Long Island's wine country.

Here is Greg limbering up to twerk on the dance floor:

Peep those purp socks. He is a stylish man.
Cocktail hour plate:

FRUIT. Olives. Balsamic roasted vegetables.

G's whiskey soda, my gin and tonic.
We talked with his cousin, I talked to some lady about books, there was a first dance, there were more cocktails and a champagne toast, dietary restrictions were mentioned, and then we ate salad:

Arugula, radicchio, cucumber, and a balsamic glazed mushroom. There was cheese on top of the salad when it came out but I picked it off.
Palate cleanser:

Lemon sorbet on top of a berry granita-y thingy.

Table Twelve! Kids table aka best table!
The vegetarian entree:

Grilled balsamic vegetables. Definitely solid. The sauce was tangy and sweet and zesty. It was supposed to come with cous cous, maybe? But it didn't. That's okay though because there was already plenty of food.

Prior to the reception, Greg said, "All I want is a cannoli!" The servers brought out trays of mini pastries including cream puffs, tarts, chocolate poofy things, and G ate like 5 ("Wait, but should I try this one?") but saw no cannoli. So he ran across the room to another table, grabbed their cannoli and enjoyed it.
I enjoyed the coffee.
The cake:

It looked very pretty. It was a vanilla cake with chocolate icing between layers inside. Served with ice cream in a little cup that G thought he broke, until we realized the cup was made of chocolate. So that was a nice surprise.
G and I caught a late train back to our respective boroughs and fell the f asleep.
So thank you to G's family for shuttling us around and for making me feel like part of the ever-growing family. I had a really fun day and night under the Supermoon. Congratulations to the newlyweds...
Also, hi Ben. You're a good person.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What I Once Ate

I'm still eating the leftovers of chickpea, collards, banana, etc. plus I'm OCD about putting up photos that will otherwise nag at my heart so here are some more interesting shots of food from before the challenge:

                           Quinoa+black beans with kale+cabbage slaw, avocado from Paradis

             Daiya slices with onion and tomato on GF bread. This was actually G's sandwich.

     Blueberry, strawberry, spinach, banana, protein powder, water+almond milk smoothie

                          Sweet potato, black beans, hearts of palm, scallion from Paradis

                                            Tomato on toast with scallion, salt+pepper

                                      Sesame bagel with tofu cream cheese, iced coffee ya.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Food Bank Challenge Wrap Up

I'm not dead (and not for sale.) I was hungry occasionally on the challenge, but that was my own damn fault for not having thought farther in advance.
I got reinforcements on Sunday:

For $6.63, which brought my total to $32.09, only .59 cents over the limit, which ain't too bad. (Although if we must count the beer, like Andrea insists, I totally failed by uh, day 1.) However, I still have half a jar of peanut butter, 3/4 of a canister of oatmeal, most of that bag of spinach, two bananas, most of the broccoli, and a serving of collard salad and chickpeas left. SO I calculate each meal to have come in under $1.50 each, it's just that we have to put money down up front.
For more accurate results, the challenge should probably be a month long with about $126 per person. That is a lot to ask of people to do voluntarily, though, but it would drive home the fact that there are a lot of people who do that out of necessity. One problem I had with the challenge was that the rules asked that you not accept food that was offered at functions, or by friends. If I were on food stamps and I were hungry, I'd eat as much as I could for free! I'd be sneaking crackers and expired candy into my pockets constantly.
Point is, it's tough. I certainly cut back a lot on how much I ate, was a lot more vigilant, and mindful of each chew. In this way, it was funny - like a diet or a cleanse, I had to think about every bite. But on a diet, that's a choice to eat a certain way. People who may run out of food at the end of the month if they aren't careful NEED to consider that. It's really sad. Not to mention that now that schools are almost out for the summer, kids who get free lunches won't be able to for 2 1/2 months!
Also, I didn't do daily updates for you guys because I basically ate the same thing every day: banana, peanut butter, raw collard salad, carrots, chickpeas.

This is a little bit of a change - chickpeas, jalapenos, spinach, zucchini tossed with tahini dressing.

Tonight's "still roughin' it" dinner: zucchini and broccoli in tahini sauce.
I tried not to deviate much from my normal meals, but I definitely feel like my vegetable intake went way down. I also typically buy almond butter rather than peanut but that shit is like 6 dollars for a cheap jar. I didn't feel deprived, really, but the monotony got to me.
But yo, chickpeas > tofu. Or any dried legume, really. ALSO, raw > cooked. Cooking food makes it such a smaller yield! I could eat this raw collard salad for five meals, or cook it and eat it all in two days.
I don't know what to do at a grocery store now. Do I go wild and buy cherries and Gardein? Do I torch all my money and live under a rock nibbling on carrots? Guys, I have no middle ground to run to here. Thank goodness I still have my no-Whole Foods plan to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Food Bank Challenge: Having Fun on a Budget

AYYYYYY. Okay a couple of days thus far have acutally been a challenge because I had pre-made plans. On Thursday G and I went to a queer comedy show at BAM. I met him in the area after walking around Ft. Greene Park for a while and we went to a Mexican restaurant, Habana.

Outdoor seating!!! This was before it started to POUR and I slipped on the floor bruising my arm.
It's not especially expensive for a Mexican place but I didn't want to drop the rest of my dollahs on the second day, cuz duh. So we split a guacamole burrito (no queso) and got a side of sweet plantains.

                                                        served with pickled jalapenos

This was about 6 dollahs for me. The burrito was good, the plantains not so much. Also a couple a dese:

Kelso (local Brooklyn) beer for 3 bux each, not bad. I am NOT counting beer on this challenge, though!! For one, you can't buy beer with food stamps anyway and two, I drink a lot of beer.
Batmobile ride in the seating area:

Yeah!!! Anyway the show at BAM was pretty funny. Below is a picture of Tig Notato, who was hilarious.

Phew. Then, Saturday, I went to a Mets game with a friend. I started the day with the usual coffee and almond milk, and then ate some overnight oats soaked with a spoonful of peanut butter. I mashed a banana in in the morning.

This kept me full enough through the game.

It was a gorgeous day for a game, even though the Mets lost. Even when I'm not on a tight budget, I don't often buy food at a ballgame because the prices are insane. I did have a couple beers, though, because in the words of Homer J. Simpson, without beer, "I never realized how boring this game is."
I got kinda buzzed and since the day was so beautiful, I walked the last third of the way home.

Unfortunately I got kinda lost.... these are some photos I took along the way, but turns out I was in the same area my roommate actually INTENDED to be last week, and she wrote a pretty crazy post about that, with better pictures than I take.
NEEDLESS TO SAY when I finally got home I wanted to eat everything but instead took a nap, haha. And THAT's how to save money on food. Drink beer instead and sleep it off.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Food Bank Challenge, day 3

Variety is the spice of life, for sure.
Another b-a-n-a-n-a--n-a-na- for breakfast. A carrot for a snack. Leftover collard salad. THEN MY FRIEND GAVE ME A GARLIC SCAPE and dinner was fun again.

Thanks Jon! After wearing it around my neck for a while and petting it like a snake, I cut it into little pieces, like I would never do to a snake.
Chickpeas mashed with tahini, Braggs, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and the scape made a nice filling for a collard wrap. Tomatoes on top.

So far my advice for interesting, healthy food on a budget is to cook up a large batch of something that will last a while in the fridge and play around with it during the week. Chickpeas, for example, are good on salads, can be roasted, can be smashed into a sandwichy filling, made into hummus, or using ingredients that are most likely found at any given time in a well-stocked vegan pantry (buy bulk to save more!) turned into chickpea burgers or falafel!
And ya know where you can buy garlic scapes now? The Farmers' market! (Though this one was from a local co-op.) I walked through the Union Square market today (briskly, so as not to be tempted to spend the rest of the budget at once on a pint of blueberries) and saw the EBT stand.

You don't need to use up yr food stamps getting canned beans and chips from the bodega. A lot of farmers markets will accept them and change them for tokens you can buy on fresh vegetables.(Though I assume this would still be a splurge for most people.)
Speaking of garlic scape usage, after a night that somehow became Jon and I drinking at 2 am at weird bars in Ridgewood and him, starving, we stopped at his apartment to get his groceries that we would cook at my place. He grabbed mustard greens, a garlic scape, and a carrot. I provided chickpeas, spinach, Braggs, and a pan. I drunk-chopped and he drunk-peeled the skin off all the chickpeas (!!!!) and picked up what I dropped on the floor, haha.

It's not a fabulous picture (beer, 2:30 am) but it's a funny story and a filling, tasty meal that hopefully soaked up some of the Spaten. ALSO SORRY RANDALL FOR COOKING AT 2:30.