Sunday, June 13, 2010

Doing Dresden

In Dresden, I had the great pleasure of visiting the vegan behind Seitan is my motor. I got a great casual tour around the city and learned a lot about the history of it. Most of what I knew of Dresden was learned by reading Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5 or tidbits from my German history classes in undergrad. It was great just to get another perspective.

Dresden has some great character in different areas. One of my favorite spots was this Kunsthofpassage (Art Courtyard Passage) that had various themes in the sections. I really loved the above water one.

Despite not being the most vegan friendly of places, there were still several places to eat vegan food in Dresden. My favorite was the meal at this Indian place. Sooo good. Only three of the main dishes are vegan, but the quality more than made up for the quantity of options.

Then of course, if I am delivering Frank's Hot Sauce, courtesy of bazu, the DEOTS infamous tempeh wingz need to be made. Perfect paired with oven roasted potatoes and sautéed veggies.

But what is the best, is nice little surprises like the one below. Who can be sure of the exact meaning, but you got to love the little things that make you smile.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Back to where it all started: Seevetal and Hamburg

My appreciation of Germany began five years ago during a sister city cultural exchange stay in Seevetal, which is just outside of Hamburg. I had not visited for four years, so it was great to be back and see my former host parents, even though I had visited my host sister the previous two years while she was at University in another part of Germany.

I don't have a lot to say in terms of food during this part of the trip. My host family cooked a few meals for me, which consisted of a really nice curry and a potato wild garlic dish. However, I did visit a vegetarian buffet after a day in Hamburg with my host sister. Seasons is just a hop skip and a jump away from the Rathaus, which is rather convenient. Their vegan selection wasn't the most creative, as various lentils where in sooo many dishes. Overall, it wasn't bad, and the amazing stuffed grapes more than made up for things. Food is purchased by the plate, so you can get the amount you want based on hunger.

Something fun that I had was a carbonated rhubarb juice beverage. I love tart things, so this was perfect! Too bad it was windy and cloudy at the outdoor cafe where this was purchased.

My former host family was so great about the whole vegan thing, which was something that has changed since my last visit. They insisted on buying me a tomato spread for bread and my own tofu red bell pepper sausage slices! Both of which were rather tasty. This is the shot of the sandwich that I was made to take with me on the train as I traveled to the next part of my journey.

And last but not least, an action shot of me eating a Franzbrötchen. This is a Hamburg/Northern DE specialty. According to a friend, the ones at Kamps, a very common bakery chain, were vegan, so I could resist trying one. It was really good and reminded me of a cinnamon roll disguised as a croissant, if that makes any sense.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tiny but quaint Trier

So, in order to properly document my trip to Deutschland, I'll most likely do a post about each of the main cities that I visited. First up is Trier, but before I get carried away, check out the awesome sandwich I had at Strong Hearts in Syracuse before going to the airport.

I stayed in Trier for two days and enjoyed the rich history and ruins there, leftover from the Romans who were some of the earliest settlers. I saw great things like an amphitheater and the famous Porta Negra.

In terms of food, I ate pretty simply. A falafel that was nothing to write home about, or various small snacks. I did be a lazy vegan and make a sandwich with tomato herb spread and olive tofu. The amount of flavored tofus in DE is amazing, and this one was quite tasty.

I also had a great CouchSurfing experience the second night of my stay. My wonderful host prepared this simple meal for me, which was quite lovely.

All in all, I had a great time in Trier, along with having the best weather of my trip. Warm and sunny! (Complete with giving me a sunburn.) This is such a quaint little region, and I would love to be able to go back with a friend sometime to take advantage of the many wineries in the region.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'll make it kurz

Sooo theoretically, I would have had 'live' updates while on my travels, but there was a lack of wireless internet in Trier and Münster. I'm concluding my time in Hamburg this morning, and then off to Dresden. All the travel details will be shared once I get back (and with pictures to boot)! Due to a confusion on my part, I cannot use my SD card reader to transfer my photos from my new camera to my computer, thus I will have to wait until I return to the States to figure out how to transfer things, as I didn't bring my camera cable, thinking the card reader was sufficient. I could update in ernst now, buuuut I think it'll be better with pictures, no? Then I'll be in super blog update mode and do a week-long stint to chronicle my trip, most likely.
Bis dann!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Oh the choices and preparations

I am still in disbelief that I leave for Deutschland in 5 days. Wow. There are so many things to do before I leave (one last final exam, proctoring, grading, etc) I'm also strongly considering getting a new camera before the trip as well. After a discussion with a friend last night, I realized that my current one is sadly outdated and lacking in megapixels, which is probably a result of having it for almost five years. As curious as I am about getting a SLR, they are more expensive in general, and it seems silly to me to get one when I don't know how to use it yet. If I stick to the same brand that I have now, but with a more updated version of mine, I'll still be able to play with colors and exposure settings like I already do and know how. Oh the decisions to make...

In regards to the trip, here are the cities/areas that I'll be visiting:


I'm starting to get ridiculously excited. I've never been to Dresden or Weimar before, and it has been 4 years since my last visit to Seevetal and Hamburg. I've visited Steffi, my host sister (or rather, Gastschwester) the past two trips when she has been at university in Köln. This time, I'll get to visit her at home and see her wonderful parents! I can't wait for the sense of deja vu since my original exchange in Seevetal in 2005 is what inspired me to learn German.

I've been nerding out quite a bit the closer I get, such as watching several German films with a friend and reading books auf Deutsch before going to bed. It would be nice if I could manage to finish Im Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front) before I leave, but I don't know if that is realistic or not. I keep having to restrain myself from surfing the internet for ideas on things to do during my trip, since I do have my Organometallics exam first thing Monday morning... excluding that, fun things are ahead indeed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where did the spring go?

The weather recently has been driving me nuts. Snowing flurries on Monday, 80 (F) by Sat, and then snow flurries again a week later. Way to be confusing! This slip back into chilly and rainy weather has made me crave more warm comfort dishes and soups. A lot of pictures haven't been taken, because, well, most of these foods aren't exactly the most photogenic.

What have I been eating exactly? Things like Tomato, rice, garlic, and white bean soup from V'con, cauliflower pasta casserrole from 500 Vegan Recipes (which is way more addictive and labor intensive than I thought it would be), and these stuffed eggplants by Mihl (who I get to visit very soon!!).

Very tasty, even if I did wing it a little bit and use adzuki beans and a cube of pureed basil from the freezer. The sauce was especially great, and the leftovers were downright unstoppable used as a dip for a batch of spiced oven fries. I'm serious. The spiced ketchup was almost untouched!

Because I've got final exams and proctoring/grading to do before my trip, I'm going to stick with the comfort foods with pantry staples for now. Don't want to have a lot of fresh produce to use up before I leave, except for the 4 lbs of carrots that I somehow need to get through. Curried carrot dip for toast and soup variations anyone?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cucumber me this

While wasting time on the interwebs responding to emails and planning my trip (yes, it is a go!), I realized that I already had two meals uploaded to my flickr that I hadn't shared yet. Unintentional score! Now I don't have to feel so negligent and lazy...

First up is a salad, but don't groan on me here. Sometimes a salad really is the perfect thing to hit the spot. I have become rather fond of ones with locally baked tofu, cucumbers, and a quick tahini dressing (with olive oil, lemon, water, pepper, and loads of paprika). I might be tempted to make this a regular thing next week when I have to not create loads of leftovers before my trip.

And then, of course, there is bastardized sushi. I'm pretty sure that I've never had true sushi before, but the improv versions that I have made at home sure are good. This one is rather simple with quinoa instead of rice (I didn't want to wait for the brown stuff to cook and cool!), avocado, cucumber, and the required sweet chili dipping sauce. Simple and tasty is the way to go sometimes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things to get excited about!

I'm ever so sorry about the lack of activity here recently. The end of the semester is approaching, and it seems as if I have been grading nonstop for my TA duties, not to mention my own classes. However, I have two exciting things to share.

First, I'm splitting a CSA share with a friend this season! I'm really excited. I've been eating seasonally and locally in the summer and fall anyway, but when my friend approached me about joining one, I couldn't help but say yes! Splitting the share means it'll come out to $10 a week for produce from June-November. Considering I could spend $20 a week at the farmers market, this will hopefully be a good thing. I'm also probably going to be joining a separate fruit/berry CSA, which only goes for two months but seems rather reasonable. Hopefully the new member shares open for the one that I have in mind soon.

Secondly, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get to go to Germany for the last two weeks of May! I'm waiting for a few friends to get back to me about availability, but as soon as they do, I'm buying my ticket. The idea is to go to a few places that I love (Berlin), have friends (Köln), and haven't visited in a while but know some people I haven't seen in a while (Hamburg). No to mention going to a few yet undecided new destinations as well. I'm really hoping that this trip gets to take place because it would be the perfect break before I begin working in a chemistry lab this sumer!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

(Tempeh) Bacon Brilliance

Somewhat recently, I tried my hand at tempeh bacon again, and I found myself to be more successful the second time around. But, it wasn't the success that got me excited but what I thought to do with it once I made it. Behold an amazingly messy but delicious sandwich:

Tempeh bacon on homemade bread with sauerkraut, red onions, and the Vegan Brunch remoulade. Including the last ingredient was the stroke of brilliance on my part. Not to be outdone, I made an even better variation on this theme with pizza!

At the last minute, I realized that I only had enough yeast left to do a half batch of pizza dough, but it all worked out. Topped with some spicy tomato sauce from my freezer, I used up the last of the sauerkraut and sprinkled it liberally with tempeh and onions. Even better was drizzling the remaining remoulade on top!

I pretty much smelled like onions and kraut afterwards, but I didn't really care since I've been holed up studying as of late.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A belly of beans

I've been trying to do more bean and altogether healthier meals lately. Unfortunately this doesn't always mean that said dishes are attractive. One of my creations from this week involved mole roasted cauliflower. Okay, not bad, but when you add it to wild rice, adzuki beans, and a tahini sauce drizzle it equals a play on various browns. Not so photogenic. However, last week I managed to make something both tasty and pretty.

Enter, my mexican inspired lunncher (well, it was really late for a lunch, and a bit early for a dinner). I had some avocado left over from making sushi which were getting a bit too ripe. I figured guacamole would be a good call, even if I used diced canned tomatoes since I didn't have any fresh. Much to my horror, all I had was various kinds of crushed tomatoes. To make up for it, I cooked up some millet with fire roasted crushed tomatoes instead of plain water, topped it with some overly dry refried beans I whipped up, and guac sans tomato. I'm really pleased as to how it turned out. I'm seeing this as a summer staple with homemade crushed roasted tomatoes perhaps...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A saucy state of mind

Erm, I still to exist. Honestly. The last fews weeks have been insane. Loads of exams (mostly for me) and grading too. Not to mention a prospective grad student visitation weekend thrown in the middle as well. As a result, some of my meals haven't been very original or noteworthy, especially since I was eating leftovers from the fall stashed in my freezer for a while. (This did result in a beet juice accident when I had lunchbox leakage of the black bean beet soup from Vwav get over everything, including a batch of lab reports that I was grading. Whooops)

One mighty tasty meal was queso with broccoli and polenta. It was my first time making polenta, and wow was it easy!

The polenta that I ate for dinner I just plopped on my plate, but I got fancy with the leftovers for my lunch the next day and molded it. It made me feel as if I wasn't eating the exact same meal as the previous day for some reason.

I also did some fridge and pantry cleaning out this week. Because of a storm dumping 18.5 inches of snow on the area, and me being a lazy arse and not attempting to dig out my car until the snow was impossible to remove as it was covered in a layer of ice from melting, I wasn't able to go grocery shopping for almost three weeks! Thank goodness I have a well stocked pantry and freezer. Near the end, my fresh produce was looking a bit worse for wear. Using three sorry potatoes and some crimini mushrooms that had seen better days, I whipped up this last dish that included a cashew miso gravy as well as Vwav tempeh sausage crumbles.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bake the Bad Days Away

A week or two, I was starting to get stressed with all the schoolwork and stuff that I had going on. (I'm still really stressed, but due to other things now.) Seeing as I had a banana in the freezer that had seen better days, it was only natural that I make banana bread! I used the recipe from Veganomicon, but I also subbed a portion of the whole wheat pastry flour out with spelt flour. (I'd like to say that I was inspired, but I was really just running out of wwpf and figured spelt would add more character to the crumb.) That, in combination with my bright idea to add a half cup of chocolate chips (both dark and white), produced one of the best loaves that I've ever had.

I've got some big cooking plans coming up too, so hopefully my posts won't be so sporadic. This Friday, I'm getting together with a bunch of ppkers for a meet-up split between Syracuse and Ithaca! If that wasn't enough, I also finally bought a bamboo mat to make sushi since I haven't made any since my Berlin days. Plus, I bought another bulk package of tempeh, so there might be a certain recipe in V'con that will be calling my name very soon...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Leftovers Inspire the Nonconventional

Lately, I've been having some interesting food adventures. Realizing that I have 32 cookbooks (what... I can't help myself!), I feel obligated to try out more new things as opposed to my standard go-to recipes. Also, despite the winter cold and snow, I'm trying to still get a decent amount of vegetables while decreasing the fat or creamy based recipes. Plus, I've been trying to stretch things and switch up leftovers so that they don't get boring. Which brings me to the pound of mixed greens and spinach that I bought two weeks ago. Yes, you heard me right, for some reason I bought lots of greens for myself. I did the typical salad and sandwiches but I mixed things up a bit when the greens were losing their prime.

The first experiment doesn't include a picture, simply because the result wasn't very photogenic. Using some leftover silken tofu in my fridge as well as a few handfuls of greens, I improvised a variation on the vwav tahini sauce, which also included pulverized chili flakes, a nice addition if I do say so myself. This sauce was folded into quinoa with corn and peas. A quick yet tasty meal. But I had lots of sauce leftover, and inspiration struck...

Unconventional lasagna! I had a partial box of whole wheat lasagna noodles languishing in my cabinet, so I was able to whip up a mini one in my loaf pan. The layers consist of pesto, which used up the last of the greens, the aforementioned tahini sauce, and hummus instead of cashew ricotta, sour cream, and tomato sauce! The hummus was great, as it was homemade, and this most recent batch was better than normal for some reason. (I blame it on guessing some of the amounts instead of measuring.) With the greens and tahini overlap, the flavors complimented each other quite well, along with the added spiciness of the chilies. I would highly recommend this combination if you are in the mood for a non-tomato based lasagna!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A tempeh love affair

When I first came back to school, I spontaneously grabbed a 2 lb package of bulk tempeh while at the co-op instead of the usual 8 oz package that I usually get. Why, you ask? Because the bulk one is only $7 or $8 while the small one is $3 a pop. Simple economics even a budding chemist can figure out. Most of it was used to make recipes that I already knew and loved (and will blog about, since I got creative), but tonight was different. I finally tried my hand at tempeh bacon from Vwav.

After letting it marinate all day while I was on campus, I decided to keep it simple. Above is the naked open faced sandwich with toasted homemade bread, greans, tempeh, red peppers, and avocado. On top, were a generous few dollops of Caesar dressing from Veganomicon. (For some reason I was mentally unhinged enough to buy a full pound of mixed greens/spinach earlier this week. So much salad has been consumed in the past 24 hours, and more creative methods may need to be devised soon...)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

So much for self control

The tempeh wingz from Don't Eat off the Sidewalk are dangerous. Case in point, this photo was taken during breakfast. That's right, breakfast. A double batch (aka a whole pound of tempeh) didn't even last 24 hours in my kitchen. I suppose that I could be doing worse...

And sneak peak for coming soon, a review for Ithaca's new veg cafe as well as my attempts at more simple meals.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vegan Disney 2009

At the end of December, my family had the yearly trek down to Disney World in Florida. This was my third year eating vegan at Disney, and I find myself learning more each time that I visit, even though I only visited the parks for one day this year. Following, is a brief summary of the places where I ate as well as an interesting new observation that I had, one that was a first for my yearly visit. (I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I somehow managed to leave my camera at home during this trip.)

Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney): Enjoyed a lunch of the roasted veggie sandwich. I'm rather fond of toasted sandwiches so this really hit the spot. The only small change that had to be made to the meal was to request the balsamic sauce instead of the usually used Mediterranean (which contains dairy).

Rainforest Cafe (Downtown Disney): The chef came out to talk to me after our rather large party arrived. I ended up with a veggie pasta with olive oil and garlic and bread on the side. Not the most imaginative dish, but it worked, and I had enough leftovers for another meal.

Backlot Express (MGM Hollywood Studios, technically sans MGM but I grew up saying it...): This is a counter service restaurant as opposed to a nicer sit down. The veggie sandwich was vegan, once requested without the cheese. I was surprised to find that the tomato pesto on it was vegan as well as the black bean salad that came on the side. Not too bad for a quick in the parks option.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (Magic Kingdom): The veggie burger is now vegan! I was very excited to see this mentioned somewhere else, and it proved to be true. The only alteration that needed to be made was to have the tapioca bun, which is the gluten free and vegan bun option.

Bakery of sorts on Main Street in Magic Kingdom: Has packaged vegan chocolate chip cookies. (As well as caramel corn.) The cookies weren't too bad, as far as packaged cookies go. I was just glad to be able to have a chocolate/sweet snack along with the rest of my family.

Turf Club Bar and Grill (Saratoga Springs Resort): This was the nicer sit down restaurant at the resort where my family's time share is. I was skeptical about my dining options, even though Disney is always great with accommodations at sit down places, since the entire menu is very meat centered. I ended up having quite a nice meal. The chef came out to talk to me, and we figured out a dinner and desert for me right at the beginning of the meal. I got a portabello burger, but not to be boring, the burger also had roasted balsamic veggies on top. This sandwich ended up being huge, and I could hardly fit the whole thing in my mouth to take a bite. Along with a side of fries, this was a very filling meal. For dessert, he had a gluten free vegan spice cake. It was a little dry due to being storied in the freezer, but I was surprised to have a slice of cake with frosting that I could eat, and the frosting was perfect and not too cloyingly sweet. My dad could hardly tell that it was gluten free as well as vegan when he tried it.

All in all it was a great visit, though I did have an experience at the two counter service meals that I had never had before. Because I had to make an alteration to the meal (omitting cheese or switching the bun), the person at the register made a big deal about it and kept saying it was due to the allergy (even though I said I was vegan), and had to have the manager come and approve it and talk to me even though I had already checked the vegan friendliness in the ingredients book that each register has. It was a little obnoxious in how it took a lot longer and held up the line, but at least Disney is serious about getting this sort of thing right.