I don’t know what else to say other than the last two days have been awesome.
As I think I said before, my weekends are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which I am realizing is really, really nice since I can get a lot of things done during the day — i.e.: go to Whole Foods, go to Target, go to the license office and FINALLY take care of getting an Indiana license and plates for my car:
and go to the Humane Society and fall in love with a cat…
Yes, that’s correct: as of yesterday, I became the cat mom to an absolutely gorgeous little guy named Alfredo. I had been wanting to adopt a cat ever since I moved to Indiana almost a month ago and told myself to wait until I had been here a while and gotten used to my schedule and living here. I went to the Humane Society on Tuesday and turned in the application paperwork and got to meet Alfredo — I had actually had my eyes on him since I got my job offer in March. Meeting him in person was absolutely incredible and I instantly knew he was the cat for me. After a haul at the store getting food and a carrier and toys for him, I got the call saying I was approved and could pick him up the following day. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much because I was too excited.
He did great on his first night here and I fell asleep and woke up with him on my bed, head butting me and meowing at me. What a cutie.
I’ve also been cooking so much this past week, trying five new recipes (okay, three were breakfast, but whatever). Let’s go in chronological order, shall we?
There is this Mediterranean place in South Bend called Elia’s and every single time I try to go, they are closed. Their menu touts an awesome vegetarian and vegan-friendly selection, including falafels. I took matters into my own hands after stumbling across this recipe from The Vegan Stoner (okay, okay, it’s funny so get it out of your system now) for Falafel Pie. Falafel mix is one of those foods that is odd enough that you probably can’t pick up at any random grocery store, but can probably be found somewhere if you’re patient and look hard enough. Lucky for me, I had to go to Whole Foods for bread and “cheese” so I figured that would be my best bet to find it there. My Whole Foods isn’t as big as some of the others I’ve been to, but believe me when I say I scanned the aisles for a good 20 minutes before finding it hidden away by the rice and couscous. I suppose the search was worth it, however:
What you’re looking at is a six-layer slice of falafel heaven: falafel, hummus (I used plain even though I’m so partial to Roasted Red Pepper), fresh tomato, fresh cucumber, So Delicious coconut milk Greek yogurt with fresh squeezed lemon and fresh dill (the dill wasn’t on the recipe and was a whim decision on my end and I’m glad it happened) and kalamata olives. Yes it was delicious, yes I did eat it while sitting on my balcony watching Xavier Dolan’s “Les Amours Imaginaires” for the millionth time with a sangria in my hand.
I think this was one of those dishes that could easily go two ways:
- Share the original recipe, which is vegan, with friends and it’s still pretty agreeable and doesn’t have any unfamiliar foods in it or…
- You could easily make this non-vegan and use dairy yogurt.
Either way, the first recipe from this cheeky blog didn’t disappoint and I may or may not have tacked the cookbook to my Wish List board on Pinterest.
Corn and Quinoa Chowder
I won’t go into crazy detail about my love with Panera’s Summer Corn Chowder because it isn’t vegan and it’s too painful for me to think about. I’ll never forget the first time I tried it, either — it was two summers ago with my Mom after she and I had done some errands all afternoon. Say whatever you want about how eating soup in the summer is silly — corn chowder in the summer is awesome and you’re missing out. Everything in the soup is finally in season, so even though it’s a sauna outside and the last thing you want to do is eat hot food, it’s all pretty worth it.
I found the recipe for this veganized Creamy Corn and Quinoa Chowder months ago and was so excited to finally try it, especially since it called for cilantro and the pot of cilantro I have on my balcony is growing like a weed and was more than ready to harvest.
As per usual, I followed this recipe to the T but omitted the onions. AND, I got to break in this thing, finally:
My parents got me an absolutely gorgeous Le Creuset French Oven as part of my graduation gifts — it’s a special, commemorative piece celebrating the company’s years of design and cookery. Only 1925 were made (a nod to the year the company was founded in France) and each oven was cast from a sand mold that will be destroyed after the ovens are sold. Not only is it just a beautiful piece of kitchenware, it’s really special and sentimental to me, so I was really excited to use it for the first time. I already can’t wait to use it again and again.
The soup itself was phenomenal and yielded quite a lot, so I had dinner to take to work for a few days.
ALL of the pancakes
I don’t know where this sudden need for pancakes in my life came from, but I’m sure glad it happened. The other night, I got home from work and couldn’t stop thinking about pumpkin spice pancakes. Why? For one thing, I never eat sugary foods at breakfast or really ever and, moreover, pumpkin spiced foods in June is a little weird. The most important takeaway from this is what I mentioned about eating soup even though it’s a million degrees outside: I just don’t care. If I’m hungry for it, I’m going to eat it.
— Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
Minimalist Baker has a gorgeous blog and a really awesome recipe for Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes that I wholeheartedly recommend. Let me preface this and the next two (yes, two) pancake sections as follows: there’s regular style pancakes and then there’s Danielle Waldron pancakes. I can’t say which one tastes better than the other, because I’m totally biased. With this recipe and every recipe to follow, I used oat flour rather than all-purpose or almond flour or pastry flour. There are a few reasons for this:
- I keep unbleached APF around but rarely ever use it. APF has no nutritional value and it’s a simple white carb that won’t leave you full … and you might get a carb crash. That sounds unappealing, but especially at breakfast. Oat flour is a great alternative that, once you get used to its consistency and how it cooks and bakes, is just as easy to use and also a lot healthier.
- I’ve used almond flour and other flours before and they’re great, but I also don’t enjoy paying upwards of $13 for a bag of flour that’s the size of a bag of coffee.
- I accidentally bought quick-cooking oats the other day at the store rather than my usual old-fashioned rolled oats and I didn’t realize it until I got home and was actually making breakfast the next morning. If there’s one other food I dislike almost as much as I dislike onions, it’s quick oats. It’s probably a little bratty and extremely elitist, but I don’t like their texture and they simply aren’t the same. There was only one thing to do: grind them all up in my blender and make my own oat flour. You can purchase your own oat flour but I think it’s easier and a lot more cost effective to just do it yourself. Although I do recommend investing in a good blender or food processor.
These pumpkin pancakes were amazing and you couldn’t tell a difference in texture or taste with the oat flour rather than whole wheat flour:
— Banana Pancakes
I’ve creeped The Simple Veganista’s blog quite a lot and couldn’t wait to try these banana pancakes. I had these the last two mornings for breakfast, one of the days it rained quite a bit and I couldn’t help but think of the Jack Johnson song. Again with this recipe, I didn’t use APF or pancake mix, but rather 2/3 cup of oat flour (the recipe calls for 1/3 cup of APF or pancake mix and another 1/3 cup of almond meal or almond flour). It tasted amazing, especially with banana on top:
With these, I got a bit better at making a more decent-looking pancake, but I still have a lot to learn. Apparently an electric griddle is the key to pretty pancakes, but I think I’ll stick to my gas stove. I don’t use Earth Balance or coconut oil to grease the pan, I just spray it.
— Blueberry Pancakes
I found this recipe yesterday by searching “vegan pancakes” and was so glad I did. With blueberry pancakes, you really don’t need a special recipe — a regular one would suffice and you could just throw blueberries in the batter (as many or as few as you wish). It’s also worth noting that I live alone and can’t eat more than two small (I’m talking the size of my hand or smaller) pancakes for breakfast, so it takes me a few days to eat through the batter. Instead of making all of them at once and heating them up, I make the two pancakes and then put the rest of the batter in an airtight container and stick it in the fridge. Since it doesn’t have eggs, it keeps very well. Because of this, I didn’t put all of the blueberries in the whole bowl because I think they’d get gross and mushy after soaking in batter for a few days (I’m disgusted just thinking about it) so I just put a scant handful of berries in the measuring cup I used to pour batter into the pan for a single pancake.
I could have used flaxseed meal or made an egg replacer for this as per the recipe, but I didn’t really see the value in it. Those are used for a binding agent and the mix bound together just fine (I think the oat flour is partially to thank for this since it’s thicker). I also didn’t use baking soda because I simply don’t have any in my apartment and keep forgetting to put it onmy list of things to get.
I can’t describe how delicious these were and how much I’m looking forward to having them for breakfast for the next two or three days. Super easy and absolutely wonderful.
It’s back to work for me today:
and for the next few days. Alfredo is getting a check up at the vet tomorrow, so I’m hoping he does as good there as he did all day yesterday. I’ll be back next week or sometime soon to check in and hopefully have tried some new things in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll have kicked this pancake addiction by then.
By the time I’m back again, I’ll have been vegan for more than 300 days, which is certainly something to celebrate. It’ll be e year on Aug. 19 and what a year it’s been.
Have a good one.