The Days of Summer

I can’t believe I am finally sitting down to write a blog post after such a long break! Time passes quickly in my world and my schedule has been filled with plenty of activity. While I am incredibly excited for the fall season, the weather in Portland still boasts plenty of sunshine and high temperatures so Tim and I are taking full advantage during the dwindling days if summer. Here is a peek at the highlights:We visited our friends in Seattle a few weeks ago and enjoyed brunch at Cafe Flora. I had a plate with potatoes, toast & jam, tofu scramble, and homemade soy sausage. It was delicious, especially the scramble. Tim had a tofu sandwich that came with salad. He didn’t care for it, but it sure looked pretty:After we left Seattle, we wandered around Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. It’s so much fun to explore places like this because if you are patient and quiet, all sorts of creatures make their presence known with a chorus of sounds. We even saw jellyfish floating in the southern end of the Puget Sound! Overall, it’s a very peaceful place to visit.When we returned from Seattle, we decided it was time to take a backpacking trip. It had been awhile and we knew September meant less crowds and less bugs. We opted for a two night loop hike in the Deschutes National Forest. We crossed paths with very few people and had our campsites all to ourselves. Plus, both campsites were next to chilly mountain lakes which we happily dove into after hiking all day in the sunshine.Campsite on night number two looked toward this view:
And then, before we knew it, my parents were in town for a visit. My mom had never been to the Pacific Northwest before so she really enjoyed all the scenery and places we took her.

We took my mom to see Mt. Hood! It was a gorgeous day despite the haze from nearby wildfires. We also took her and my dad to Portobello for dinner. I opted for the portobello burger, garlicky fries, and a homemade peach and rosemary soda. Don’t you just love how my meal was served? Everything was amazing, especially the fries. Oh my goodness, those fries were the best!We took my parents to the coast too. It was windy and a good 30 degress cooler than the city but still worth the trip. They both dipped their feet in the icy Pacific Ocean. I knew better.After my parents left, I accepted a job offer with one of the coolest vegan companies in Portland. I am now happily employed after many months of miscellaneous freelance stints here and there. It’s a quick bike ride from home and I am sandwiched between Food Fight Grocery and Sweetpea Bakery. This has already proven dangerous because yesterday I snuck over to Food Fight for chocolate caramel cups, ginger iced tea, and a curried tofu sandwich. It’s perfect because I work part-time and can still enjoy outdoor adventure activities while the weather permits. Come visit me if you are ever in Portland!!

This past Friday Tim and I went hiking on the southern slopes of Mt. Saint Helens. A good portion of the trail involved boulder hopping, but snacking on an abundance of wild huckleberries and views such as the one below made up for it, just a bit.And finally, this weekend is Portland’s 2012 VegFest! I will be selling/sampling treats from Nicobella Organics (chocolate truffles!). Stop by and say hello and I might let you have a sample!

Enjoy the week ahead!

Weekend Happenings

Tim and I enjoyed delicious food, lovely weather, and a fun adventure over the weekend. On Friday night, we strayed from our menu plan and opted for homemade pizza instead. The finished pie had a whole grain crust and was topped with cashew cheese, marinara sauce, chopped garlic, herbs, and kale crumbles. It was a bit puffier than our usual pizzas, so we had leftovers for Saturday lunch!For dessert, I made Lemon Zinger Squares! The recipe for these refreshing treats will be featured in my forthcoming cookzine. I think they might be one of my favorite creations to date. Tim ate most of them. These squares differ from regular cake because you can pick them up and eat them with your hands – kind of like a brownie, but also very different from a brownie!On Saturday, Tim went kayaking, so I stayed home and worked on some miscellaneous projects. When dinner rolled around, I was too lazy to make much effort, but also quite hungry. My usual answer to the hungry/lazy dilemma is a meal-in-a-bowl. I love the ease and versatility. This particular bowl had quinoa, lightly steamed kale, roasted chickpeas, diced bell pepper, grated carrots, avocado, and a citrus tahini dressing. I also added some dried cranberries.On Sunday, Tim and I met a group of friends at Blossoming Lotus for brunch. These occasions are such a special treat since we rarely go out to eat. Tim had the Seitan Rancheros (his favorite) and I had the Pumpkin Battered French Toast (oh my, was this ever incredible!!).

After brunch, Tim and I drove about a half hour to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. We saw (and heard) a massive array of wildlife, including hawks, snakes, kingfishers, frogs, water bugs, rabbits, birds, ducks, cranes, and geese. I feel so comforted when I am surrounded by the sounds of nature.

Here is a sassy Spotted Towhee! Tim loves to record sounds, so if you are curious to hear this bird sing and chirp, listen to his recording here.We also saw a Song Sparrow:Along the hike, we enjoyed views across small lakes and plenty of flowers (and some pretty dandelions, which I guess are actually weeds?).

And then, we drove home and had more leftovers for dinner. It was a fulfilling weekend! Hope you all enjoyed your weekends too!

One Hundred!

Oooooh! This is my 100th post!!!!! How dandy is that? I’ll show you…

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…This dandy! These are the mighty delicious Dandies marshmallows from Chicago Soy Dairy. I cannot stop eating them! They are light, fluffy, sweet, vanilla-y, addictive, and just plain amazing. My lack of creative motivation has led me to eat these by the handful one at a time  instead of using them in a baked treat, but it simply doesn’t matter – these are ace. Food Fight will have them available to purchase online soon if you don’t have a place near you that sells Dandies.

I also had the pleasure of indulging in a newish vegan ice cream. Yeah, yeah! It is made with hemp milk and was featured briefly in the latest issue of VegNewsLiving Harvest makes a line called Tempt; they named this frozen treat accurately! I tried the Chocolate Fudge variety and it is incredibly creamy, smooth, chocolaty, and yummy. There are ribbons of fudgy goodness laced throughout each serving. I usually have trouble digesting ice cream and Tempt didn’t give me any troubles! Hooray!!!! There are several flavors to choose from and I look forward to sampling the rest.

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Lastly, Tim and I were recently in Seattle to see a concert and we managed to eat at a few places we had never been to on previous visits.

Cyber Dogs Internet Cafe was our choice for a quick lunch. This cafe is located about nine blocks from the famed Pike Place Market. They have an all vegetarian menu with the option to veganize pretty much any item you choose. The space is very tiny, but colorful and comfy. Tim and I sat on a cushy sofa while we waited for the friendly woman working to prepare our food. There are computers with internet for folks to enjoy while they munch happily on their creatively-adorned veggie dogs. The whole space is filled with knick-knacks and dog-themed stuff. We didn’t have to wait long for our order which was a huge bonus since we were hungry and trying to get back to our car before the meter ran out. Another bonus? Takeout orders are placed in biodegradable containers! Here are some photos of the inside of Cyber Dogs, and also our lunch:

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Lots of colorful fun stuff inside Cyber Dogs (see the Pound Puppy? Remember those?)

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The computers

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The menu (for a closer look at the menu, click here, and choose a larger size to view)

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Tim’s California Dog

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My Plain Jane Dog with vegan cheese sauce

We also walked around Pike Place Market. We stopped at Cinnamon Works for a vegan cinnamon roll (after we had eaten breakfast and Mighty O’s…). The cinnamon roll was quite good, a bit doughy, but sweet and filling. It had a nice maple glaze (I prefer plain) and the person who served us kindly warmed our roll in the oven! Nice! They also had some vegan cookies and muffins in the display case (although they looked a bit dry). Cinnamon Works is spendy, our cinnamon roll was $3.50! But I guess the market is a bit of a tourist trap and that’s the way stuff rolls sometimes.

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We also ate at a lovely place (right next door to where we were staying) called Chaco Canyon Cafe. I didn’t take photos, but the food was very simple and tasty. The space is bright, open, and lined with lots of windows. The staff is incredibly friendly and the menu is mostly vegan (with lots of raw options). Again, this place was spendy, but since Tim and I rarely eat out, it was a nice treat. If you find yourself in Seattle, please head over to Chaco Canyon Cafe. Your tummy will be so happy! I had an interesting juice blend called The Boost which was made of apple, carrot, ginger and wheatgrass. I also had a raw porridge which I really enjoyed, a lot. Tim had The Elvis Smoothie (banana and PB) and a tofu scramble sammie. His smoothie was so very, very, very smoooooooooooooooooooooooooooth! The sammie was perfectly seasoned and served on what we think was a sourdough rye. Good stuff.

Color for Cloudy Days

Just a quick post featuring some simple and colorful meals to ward off the cloudy days :

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Veggie Pizza - Homemade crust and sauce topped with mushrooms, bell pepper, spinach, olives, and some seasoned Papa G’s Tofu – Pizza is often a weekly staple and I am happy about that!

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Spicy Tofu Triangles on a Bed of Lettuce – The recipe for this meal is in Vegan Express. This was served with a lemony couscous and steamed broccoli. I really enjoy the simplicity and quickness of all the recipes I have made so far from Vegan Express. It is a great cookbook to own if you have lots of busy workdays and just want a tasty, fast, delicious meal. In the summer I can appreciate the recipes even more because it will give me more time to spend outside flying my kite, riding my bike, and causing trouble.

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Future tulips! Hooray for Spring! Although, it did hail twice yesterday in Portland and the snow levels dropped quite low on the mountain…

Eating it Up in Seattle

Over the weekend, Tim and I drove up to Seattle to visit with his parents who were there for a conference. We managed to eat plenty of delicious vegan food (treats included!) while we were there. I was only able to snap photos from two of the places we visited because I forgot my camera the first night we went out for dinner. But, I can tell you with confidence that the photoless meal was the best one from the bunch (read review below)!

First up:

We ate at a place called Cafe Flora. The atmosphere alone had me wishing I could eat all my meals there while in Seattle. The restaurant has two dining areas, one was pretty normal, and the second was a large indoor patio with an atrium. The room had tons of plants surrounding the tables and lining the walls, a waterfall in the center, and huge floor to ceiling windows on two sides. It was incredibly relaxing. I felt like I was amidst a rainforest garden, there was a ferny plant draping gently above my chair (but not touching my head) and small candle filled vases on the tables. This is a spendy place to eat, but the food is amazing (perfect portions, clever combinations of ingredients, lovely textures) and the staff is very friendly and attentive.

I had the Hazelnut Mushroom Farro and a Sweet Potato and Tahini Soup (tahini in my soup!!!) with a sweet chile sauce drizzled on top. Tim chose the Tamale Timbale and Fried Avocado, and his mom chose the Sweet Potato Ginger Ravioli. We sampled from each other’s plates and enjoyed every last bite. They even had house-made ginger ale (the best I’ve ever tasted) and rhubarb soda! Nice, huh? For dessert, we shared the Citrus Cheesecake Tart. It was pretty fantastic. For a closer look at their dinner menu, click here. I definitely recommend a visit to Cafe Flora if you are ever in Seattle. You won’t be disappointed.

Next up:

The following day, we went to Mighty O for donuts of course! I’ve posted numerous times about my love for these fine treats, so there are no pictures of donuts this time. We ate some donuts and then walked down the hill for a three mile walk around nearby Green Lake. That’s the perfect way to walk off lots of tasty donuts!

After spending some time at the Pacific Science Center, we drove over to the Wayward Cafe for lunch. This little cafe provided some cozy shelter from the icy rain and snow that was falling outside. Here are some photos of our food:

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My Nut and Mushroomy cutlets (I don’t remember what this was really called) in Gravy with a salad

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Tim’s mom’s BBQ Seitan with a salad

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Tim’s Vegan Reuben and Home Fries

The Wayward Cafe prepares some serious comfort food (all vegan), and it’s tasty! Our food disappeared off of our plates before we knew it and kept us overly full until dinner.

Dinner? Yeah!

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We went with Tim’s parents to Vegan Garden for dinner later that evening. The family-owned (I am assuming because we had several different folks bringing us food, taking our orders, and keeping us happy) restaurant has a menu loaded with choices, and it was very difficult to choose! We started with Wonton Soup and Summer Rolls (Rice paper salad rolls with herbs, noodles and tofu, served with peanut sauce), both of which were spot on. For our entrees:

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Stir-Fry Tofu with Broccoli, Carrots, and Mushrooms

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General Tso’s “Chicken”

We also ordered Cashew “Chicken” and a curry meal. All of our choices were delicious. The veggies were tender-crisp and the food wasn’t too salty or oily. We had a nice pot of brown rice to accompany everything as well. Tim and I each had coconut juice to drink (which had slices of fresh coconut in the glass!) and his dad couldn’t stop raving about his fresh lime soda! Of course, we had dessert too, because that’s what you do when you’ve already eaten past your limit.

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Chocolate Mint Ice cream!!!

I really enjoyed Vegan Garden. The people are so kind, polite, and genuinely committed to veganism. Tim and I will visit again if we find ourselves in Seattle.

Overall, our trip was plenty of fun. We saw some much-needed sunshine, explored the city a bit, visited the library downtown (which is the coolest library I have ever seen – amazing architecture), had plenty of tasty food, and spent time with Tim’s parents. Even though Seattle isn’t far from Portland, it sure was nice to escape for the weekend!