(dreary day outside my apartment window, taken with a make-shift pinhole camera)

Portland is being awfully stubborn by withholding warm weather and doling out plenty of cold, gray days instead. My immense love for cloudy skies and raindrops on the roof is fading into a deep abyss – I need some sunshine!

Tim and I thought we could capture some warmth by heading out of the city and onto our bikes. Well, we definitely worked up a sweat, but the cold weather followed us as we pedaled uphill and downhill. Where did we go? We went to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail: a beautiful, old, abandoned railroad path in Northwest Oregon’s coastal range. The trail maintains a relatively gentle grade with the exception of two mighty steep parts. It is 21 miles one way and we chose to ride the trail out and back, making for a long 42 mile ride. Needless to say, I was pooped when we finally crashed at home after the ride. Smartly, we started the ride in Banks, OR and rode to Vernonia Lake (our halfway point) for a lengthy lunch break. We were in company of red-winged blackbirds, osprey, and other sweet chirping creatures.I wanted to stop along the ride and photograph more beauty, but I wasn’t up for losing my momentum – which was keeping me warm!

(Banks-Vernonia State Trail)

(Vernonia Lake)

We snacked on some gluten-free vegan sambusas (a test recipe for Kittee’s almost-done cookzine!) before dinner to warm ourselves. These are amazing – pure, spicy, snacky, goodness that is portable, for folks on the move.

Speaking of Kittee, have you seen the new website she and two other amazing women launched yesterday? Well heck, you better go check it out! It is a 100% vegan and gluten-free website filled with everything you could ever wish for. Seriously. So proud of them.

Filling Up With Falafel

My final days in Omaha filled my belly with more than just pie (coconut creme pie, mixed berry cobbler, and apple crumb mini pies to name a few). On one afternoon, Isa, John, and I took advantage of sunny skies, 70 degree temperatures, and a local falafel joint not too far from their house, Amsterdam Falafel & Kebab:

My love for pita, tahini, chickpeas, and curry made this meal a favorite during my stay in Omaha:

Falafel Sandwich!

Side of Curry Fries!

Wow. This meal was insanely delicious. I wish Portland had a vegetarian falafel joint within walking distance of my apartment. I am going to miss Omaha’s vegan food offerings. Every meal was special, from the sushi, to the baguette sandwich, to the falafel and curry fries. Thank you, Isa and John, for being such wonderful hosts!

Goodies for Good

Well, today was exhausting! The bake sale organized by Vegan Omaha raised over $3,000 for Japan! Isn’t that incredible? At the end of the day, the only thing left was one little paper cup filled with granola. One guy even ate crumbs off a cookie sheet! Here are some highlights:

After the bake sale a group of us went to Kurry Xpress for Indian food. It was delicious!

Tomorrow the pie making continues and eventually Portland beckons. I am going to miss Omaha!

3, 2, 1… Sushi!

Yesterday was spent baking heaps and heaps of cookies, brownies, cake, and cinnamon rolls for Vegan Omaha’s bake sale for Japan: Goodies for Good. The bake sale is this afternoon and I am so excited to see all the wonderful baked goods lined up on tables and ready to fill hungry tummies!

White Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies and Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We also made regular chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate walnut cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, ginger cookies, cookies-n-cream brownies, double chocolate gluten-free brownies, and coconut raisin cinnamon rolls!!

Isa and I made a massive mess in her kitchen that progressively worsened as the hours passed:

In between emptying bags of flour and sugar some delicious food was consumed:

Lunch = Veggie Sandwich w/ Side Salad from Daily Grub in Omaha, NE

This sandwich consisted of pepita spread, sauteed red pepper, roasted sweet potato and fresh avocado inside a toasted baguette. I really enjoyed this sandwich! The baguette was chewy and the fillings paired well with one another. I am thinking about recreating this when I get back to Portland so I can remember Omaha with fondness!

Inside the Daily Grub – clean and simple with a chalkboard menu.

Would you believe that up until last night I had never tried sushi? It’s true! Growing up as a picky eater is partly to blame, but it’s mostly because I thought it would be gross. Why did I wait so long?!!

It’s quite possible that a sushi addiction may have blossomed after devouring the above beauties!

Let’s hope that today’s bake sale raises a lot of money for Japan! Keep your fingers crossed please!

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.