Somewhere in Middle America

Hello, everybody! I hope that springtime is bringing plenty of warmth and sunshine to your part of the world. Right now I am in Omaha, NE and it is neither sunny nor warm. The weather forecast seems promising though, so I might see some blue sky before I head back to Portland later next week. Maybe!

I arrived in Omaha a few days ago to help Isa Moskowitz test dozens of pie recipes for her and Terry Romero’s forthcoming cookbook: Pie in the Sky. So far we have made an amazing variety of delicious pies including little lemon mousse pies, halvah tarts, coconut curry pie, blackberry cheesecake, chai spiced rice pudding pie, and basil peach pie. There are still a lot of pies to be made (and sampled!).

On Saturday we will be baking all day for Vegan Omaha’s Bake Sale for Japan, happening on Sunday, April 3rd. I will be making big batches of brownies and there’s a good chance some pie will make its way to the bake sale too!

I haven’t taken too many pictures, but here are some highlights:

Crunchy Munchee Salad with Hempini Dressing from McFoster’s. This salad was incredibly crunchy!! I enjoyed the dressing, which was a blend of hemp butter, Bragg’s, lemon juice, garlic, and peanut butter. I washed this salad down with a 4-ounce shot of fresh pressed ginger juice. It was strong, but I love how ginger tames my tummy.

A teeny slice of Little Lemon Mousse Pie (recipe will be in the book). Isa and I made these this afternoon and they turned out absolutely perfect!! They remind me of lemon meringue pies, but so much better (and vegan!). Plus, they are so dang cute!

Halvah Tarts! Considering I am a tahini addict, it’s not a surprise that I enjoyed my samplings of this treat. Tahini and chocolate, yes indeed!!!

Kirby. Not a pie obviously, but one of Isa’s three cats. Kirby joined me on the table for breakfast the other morning. He is so soft and cuddly.

Tomorrow brings more pie and perhaps more pictures! Stay tuned…

Just Another Rainy Day

Portland has been getting a lot of rain lately, more than I can handle (and I love the rain). I am convinced that once April arrives the rain will disappear and the sunshine will dominate the sky!

When Tim and I woke up this morning the sky showed promise. It was cloudy but the sun was trying desperately to make an appearance. We decided to take our chances and go hiking. We stopped at Food Fight to pick up some snacks and headed toward the Clackamas River. The sky darkened, wind swirled, and then it rained, steady and determined. We debated heading back home but eventually decided we would hike in the rain if we had to. Lucky for us, the rain settled enough for us to enjoy some time outdoors and the beautiful colors of spring:

And, despite trekking through several inches of mud, we had the trails all to ourselves. When we arrived back in Portland, the sun was out for a few memorable minutes! We heated up leftovers (effortless cooking!) and watched The Simpsons, all the while daydreaming about hiking in the sunshine soon:

Meals in Bowls

I recently had a discussion with a friend about our love for meals in bowls. You can put any combination of ingredients in a bowl and make a delicious, healthy, filling meal (just like tacos and burritos!). For a long time I was hooked on the Greenie Tahini Bowl (recipe acquired from a blog no longer in existence called VegTriathlete), which consisted of brown rice, broccoli, kale, and pan-fried tofu with the most amazing tahini sauce. It was my go-to meal when I didn’t feel like being adventurous in the kitchen. Since then, I have made/enjoyed an abundance of meals in bowls:

Thai Peanut Noodles with Stir-Fried Veggies from Voluptuous Vegan

Grilled Pineapple Tofu with Greens and Rice from Vegan Yum Yum

Original Yumm Bowl, customized from Cafe Yumm!

Carrot & Burdock Kinpira from The Kind Diet

Simple Rice Bowl from my kitchen

Kittee’s Mac-n-Cheese with Kale Chips from Kittee

Southwest Bowl from Blossoming Lotus

Can you tell that I use the same white bowl (and lots of chopsticks) a lot?! I’m not one to stockpile a bunch of dishes in my kitchen, so the white bowl gets plenty of love.

What are your favorite meals in bowls?

P.S. I’m heading out of town in a few days for a very exciting job/project (!) so blogging may come to a slow trickle… More on that when I return :)



Snow Bird

Despite the arrival of spring, Tim and I decided to enjoy a snowy adventure today. Mt. Hood isn’t too far from Portland so we took advantage of some free time and headed into the forest for a 6-mile snowshoe hike. We have learned over the years to arrive at trailheads early to avoid the inevitable crowds. Usually we only cross paths with a few folks, which provides us with much-needed solitude. After all, that is why people choose to escape into the wilderness, right? Most of the people we saw today were families with kids arriving as we were leaving – perfect timing!

We chose a trail that looped around Trillium Lake and maintained a relatively easy grade (except for the last 1/2 mile which was UPHILL!). The path was wide and if it had been a clear day, Mt. Hood would have been visible over the lake. Unfortunately, every time we go snowshoeing it is cloudy and snowing! We have yet to see Mt. Hood on a snowshoe excursion. Maybe next time…

We did, however, spot a Stellar’s Jay perched in a tree (also pictured at the top of this post). He was so tame and hardly budged while I snapped away taking his photograph. Beautiful, isn’t he? He was extremely round!

We were also confronted with a mighty dinosaur!

(forgive the snow splotch on my lens)

It was a great day to be outside enjoying the snow. We hope to get one more snowshoe trip in before the snow disappears:

Looks like we have at least a few weeks!


Taco, Taco, Taco!

I love tacos. They are easy to make, messy to eat, and filled with good-for-you ingredients:

Sweet Potato Tacos

These tacos consist of homemade corn tortillas (recipe from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero); a mash of roasted jalapenos, sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions; smoky black beans with garlic and lime; roasted red pepper strips, fresh spinach, and a cheezy, spicy, cashew cream spread. I think some diced avocado would be excellent on these tacos as well.

I don’t have much of a recipe to share since this was a willy-nilly throw together dinner, but here is what I did:

1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add one small diced onion and a pinch of salt. Cover and allow to caramelize for about 20 minutes.
2. Dice two small sweet potatoes and add them to the skillet with the onion. Squeeze half a lime over the mixture and add a bit of water to the skillet. Cover, and allow to cook until the potatoes soften. Stir often to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet.
3. Meanwhile, heat a can of black beans, 2 cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke in a small saucepan over medium heat. You can add in chipotle flakes to taste if you wish. Squeeze half a lime into the pot as well. Stir and allow most of the liquid to slowly evaporate (you don’t want the beans to be too dry though), lowering the heat if necessary. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
4. While the beans and potato mixture are cooking, roast one jalapeno and half of a large red bell pepper. When they are finished roasting, finely chop the jalapeno and stir it into the skillet with the potato mixture. Cut the red bell pepper into strips and set aside.
5. To make the cashew spread, combine 1 cup of cashews, 1/2 cup water, juice from one lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/3 cup nutritional yeast in a blender. Blend until very smooth. Adjust seasonings to suit your tastes. I added chipotle flakes and additional nutritional yeast.
6.Toss two large handfuls of spinach into the skillet with the potatoes and allow to wilt.
7. To assemble: top a corn tortilla with cashew spread, beans, potato mixture, and bell pepper strips. Eat as is, or fold in half.