Sunday, February 28, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 10 & 11

So, on Friday, I set up two fermentation projects: another batch of my surefire half-sour pickles and an attempt at the Yummy Vegan kimchi. On unfermentated seemed alright. While I waited for the cabbage to salt, I fixed myself a big ol bowl of salad, consisting of zucchini, mixed greens, tomato, red pepper, onion, walnuts, avocado, pear, celery, olive oil and lemon juice. Can you say mm mm good?

In my haste to go out and see some great rock and roll from River City Ransom, Mosadi Music and Rat Jackson (arguably my fav local band right now), I failed to put the kimchi into a bath (*foreshadowing!*). Coming home late (4am) snack was mixed almonds, cashews and walnuts with kiwi.

Today, I woke up (after a none too refreshing 4 hours of sleep), tossed a raw crunch bar into my bag along with some kombucha, and ran out...only to hear the kombucha crack on concrete of the driveway as I got into my car to go to work. That was an expensive mistake. One of my lessons canceled, so I ran out and bought some Naked Juice over at Whole Foods (on sale in Chapel Hill, 2 for 5. Not a steal, but worthwhile.) In the hour break, I came home and made some more raw sushi.

Upon arrival home from my restaurant job, I found that my kimchi had bled juicy vinegary goodness all over the counter. AND IT SMELLS LIKE KIMCHI! I cleaned it up before attempting to make Raw Kitchen's Homemade hummus. I'm not posting a picture because it is a tub of beige goo, you all know how hummus looks! Besides which, it will pale in comparison to my salad porn. In sofar as taste is concerned, I tweaked the recipe a bit (added more lemon juice, some cumin.) It isn't bad, especially when used as a dipping sauce for cauliflower, celery etc, but on its own, the rather pungent and unmistakable flavor of raw chickpea is a bit overwhelming, even with all the masking veggies in there. I wish I had some red pepper to add. That would probably dress it up a bit. I think it's probably better than just trying to sprout your chickpeas and use a traditional hummus recipe, but this is one thing I'll be happy to cook again when it's all over.

Anyway, I'm exhausted and just wanted to update.

Days 10 and 11? (1/4 way there)...not too shabby.

Friday, February 26, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 9, When I get into the groove

So, today, woke up and decided to attempt to put good use to the rest of my chard and came up with a KICK ASS salad. I've been munching it all day:

Pear and Chard salad:
1 bunch red chard (although any color will do, I like the look of the red)
1 whole red d'anjou pear
1/2 vidalia onion
1/2 red bell pepper
6-7 fresh radishes
1/2 cup raw walnuts

Soak chard in cold water and a little apple cider vinegar to kill any bugs or anything. This is a good habit to get into with all leafy greens. It also perks them up a little bit if they are wilting (this chard was about a week in the fridge, so it definitely appreciated the boost). While it's soaking, cut the pear into quarters, then divide those lengthwise by 4 and slice. Cut the vidalia onion in quarter rounds. Slice the bell pepper into rounds about the same length as the onion. Slice the radishes finely. You can run the walnuts through a processor, bang them with a hammer or crush them a little finer with the side of your chef's knife (the way you'd bang to peel garlic). You can also just use them as is :). Lastly, chiffonade your chard. I'd recommend just slicing around the middle vein as it can be a little tough when eating raw, but you don't have to, and I sure didn't this time. Toss all this stuff into a big tupperware or bowl. Dress as you please.

The dressing I used was a simple homemade balsamic vinaigrette:
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c balsamic
herbs de province, salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Toss into an old dressing bottle, put your goodies in and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE. Pour as much or as little as you'd like over it.

The pear really helps to balance out the green-y flavor of the chard, while the radishes pick up the peppery tang. I also tried out making radish butterflies. Let's just say that my knife skills need improvement.

Lastly, I mixed up some juice for myself. I used like, 3/4 water, 1/8 coconut water and 1/8 acai juice. I noticed something weird, maybe you have too-- acai has a distinctive spearmint scent and aftertaste, no? Maybe it's just me.

A truffle for an after work treat and we're baller.

Day 9: not hungry, not dehydrated, great new salad recipe? PUNK ROCK DAY.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 7 & 8, going out to eat, falling off the wagon.

So, after all my hard work on Tuesday, I went into work and asked a couple of my coworkers about how to make kimchi. No dice. So I've got a napa cabbage sitting in my fridge. In the meantime, I portioned out some cashews and dried figs for the workday. Of course, had pickles before I left, then worked, grabbed some kimchi and drifted to sleep.

Wednesday, still my most challenging day, I grabbed a new type of raw bar, called Go Raw. This was the flax seed kind and it tasted EXACTLY like an apricot fruit leather with some flax seeds in it. Either way, it tided me over until I got to my destination, Butternut Squash, to meet a friend for dinner. I went to BNS a few weeks before I decided to go raw, noted that they had a raw entree on their menu and bookmarked it in my mind to go back.

When I first walked in, I thought, wow, much nicer than I expected. I don't know why, but I was just expecting a sort of retro cafeteria feel, so I was surprised by the soft jazz, carpets, linen napkins and overall "classy" feel of the joint. I sat down the first time with a book and ordered the tomato basil soup and the thai seitan skewers, both pictured. The soup was complex and tangy with hints of sweetness, roasted garlic, basil and chunks of tomato. The skewers, less so. I found them to be a little tough, the sauce reminiscent of tahini, the rice underseasoned with just a hint of coconut flavor. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. So I went back.

This time, being raw, I ordered the mixed salad (which, to my dismay but not enough to totally stop me, contained corn and edamame beans). If I were NOT raw right now, I would eat the shit out of that salad, all the time. My dining companion ordered the tomato basil soup on my recc, but they ran out, and instead ate the butternut squash soup which she insisted was delicious. I am not a fan of squash, so I'll pass. For entrees, we ordered the BNS salad for her, and the raw plate for me. The BNS salad was reportedly quite tasty and looked beautiful. The raw plate was a decent showing but I took issue with a couple of points-- 1, do not claim to be serving a raw plate with a live dipping sauce if you're going to put it out with a trio made up of sour cream (!), hummus and an avocado dip. Avo dip, yay. Other two, kinda nay. That said, I may have dipped a cuke into some hummus. I can't help it, I haven't gotten around to sprouting my chickpeas yet!
2- If you're serving raw dipping stuff, don't shred the carrot. You can't dip shredded carrot. 3- Don't charge $12 for cruditee and sour cream. I won't even honor it with a picture. The search for a great raw meal out in the triangle continues.

After dinner, I moseyed to the Nightlight club in Chapel Hill with the intention of seeing Kevin Blechdom's new operetta with Neill Prewitt and Leslie Moon, entitled Exponential Death, USA. For the uninitiated, Kevin Blechdom is a performance artist whose primary mediums include electronic music, banjo playing, extended vocal technique and video accompaniment. This particular piece was made up of a story about a demented birdfaced psycho-killer's victims. These victims included the crocodile from Peter Pan, A retarded man bringing home turkey for his wife (that they would dip every morsel in gravy), a Swedish nun and a priest on vacation in America, a drug addict, a SLUT (this was probably the highlight of the evening, with Neill Prewitt prancing around in a leopard print dress holding a torso-sized cardboard vagina just below the hem), and a slew of horses. There were so many clever references to pornography, pop culture and so much laugh out loud goodness that I'm considering going to see it again, in Raleigh, on 3/3. If you read this blog and live in the Triangle, GO SEE THIS SHOW. I may need to skip because my friends Pretty and Nice are coming into town again and I wanna support their goodness (at the Local 506, 3/3).

For your listening/viewing pleasure, a little Kevin Blechdom:

and my favorite Blechdom Song...

Monday, February 22, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 6, in which Whole Foods becomes Whole Paycheck

I've advocated for years that if you shop wisely, you can shop cheap at Whole Foods. Today, I failed. But I'll tell you why!

#1 Splurge item of day: Ulimana Truffles. At 13 a jar, they are steep. But they're truffles. And the truffle I snuck in the parking lot said, "You did the right thing, BS."

#2 Splurge item: More Sunja Kimchi. I can't help it. Until I can figure out how to make edible kimchi, I will let the Sunja company continue to have its way with my wallet.

#3 Splurge item: About 2 pounds of Cashews. I don't care. Nuts are my life right now.

#4 Splurge item: Vitacoco coconut water and some fancy juices to mix with it. I just wanted to toss together a quick pick me up that is not hippie juice. Hippie juice is tiring.

#5 Splurge item: Arugula. Yes, it's $5 a little plastic box/bag thing. But I want to mix it with my chard and some pears to make something earthy, spicy and delectable.

#6 Splurge item: prep food chutney and salsa. I got some mango and salsa. I figure I'll mix them together with other things, make salads, etc.

These things did come in handy tonight when I came home and saw it was SUSHI NIGHT. I hate to be left out, so I popped some cauliflower into my processor, pulled out some untoasted nori, spread the cauli-rice out, laid some cuke strips, avo, radish pickles and finally mango salsa and BLAM. Flavor explosion. The sushi doesn't hold together very well when it gets too big, so for part 2, I made a variation of my (As yet unprinted, holding out for when I open a restaurant, don't you dare steal this as your own) sushi salad. The salad this time was a bed of nori with cauliflower, cukes, avo, radish pickle and rice vinegar. Pictured in the feast, the extremely generous maki rolling Dork did (I believe the filling was rice, avocado and peanuts), tempura broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes, my sushi salad (with food porn close-up) and of course, lots of water, dipping sauces for the non-raw kids and rice vinegar!

This meal was a lot quicker and easier than I anticipated. I think next time I'll try to grind the cauliflower a little smaller so it gets a little wetter, and maybe do a (I was thinking about this on the ride home, actually) cashew-ginger cream dipping sauce and/or hold sushi together agent. See the first (much better, somehow) roll at right. It's surprising that I was more conservative and successful with the first pass. I think once I got the taste of food for real, I kinda went nuts trying to get more of it and lost my patience. :)

The scent of heated oil was actually a turn off for me, but visually, I have to admit that the sight of broccoli tempura was tempting. As was holding itself together rice-sticky sushi. Observe pretty tempura.

I also purchased a bunch of chickpeas and am considering an experiment in soaking them to get some raw hummus/falafel/legume goodness into my life. Cauliflower just ain't the same without its partner in crime. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, off to share the cucumber and radish pickle goodness with the world.

Day 6? First time on raw diet where I have had a tummyache from eating too much food, so, I think we win. Raw sushi = totally approved.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 4 & 5

Thank god for those Raw Crunch bars. Taught lessons until 3pm, ate one around 1pm, felt better.

When I came home, I realized I had about 2 hours to shower, pack up and get my butt in gear for the Dirty Little Heaters' CD release. For those uninitiated, you should go ahead to check out the leaked track, "City Square," which, fortuitously happens to be one of the standouts on the album.

I cut myself up some avocado, polished off the rest of that chard salad (yes, I realize I've been calling it kale for like 3 days. it's chard, I know.), ate a fistful of cashews and grabbed one of my other favorite prohibitively expensive raw indulgence foods (besides my new friend Raw Crunch and my old standby for idiots who can't make kimchi, Sunja Medium Kimchi): KOMBUCHA! Don't hate. Dork is actually supposedly growing some someplace, but I'm starting to think that most of us in the house are fermentation challenged.

We ran over to Bailey's for like 3 minutes, then went to soundcheck at 7pm. The whole show was freaking incredible...really high energy, great crowd. What I failed to factor into the equation of not drinking and not eating any cooked or processed foods was that when you play a really raucous show then dance around for 2 get HUNGRY. Like, touchy, pissed off, might kill-a-bitch hungry. So when we finally got our gear loaded out around 2:30 am, I was ready to go. At home, we all joked around in the kitchen while I inhaled a grapefruit and some almonds and Sick put away some chicken wings our friends had been nice enough to pick up.

Waking up at 10 this morning was a little like dying. I talked to Kyle about how I was more tired than I'd expected to be, giving up drinking. I mean, I literally slept 15 hours on Friday. That's ridiculous. I did my thing, came home and crashed out again until about 3.

At 3, I ventured downstairs to try my kimchi. Those of you thinking positively? Wrong. I kimchi failed, again. This time, I was also icked out by the fact that I put the kimchi in ball jars and they surreptitiously sealed themselves shut, which got my hypochondriac botulism antennae panties in a twist. The kimchi was wrong on so many levels
1 - Not the right color.
2 - Not tangy
3 - Not spicy until the very end
4 - Not particularly tasty

So, it's back to the drawing board. I appealed to the PPK Forums for guidance. I suppose they are my version of going to a chapel. Thus far, the following seem like viable candidates for my next attempts (I'm thinking maybe I should do simultaneous attempts in order to avoid so much heartbreak):
David Lebovitz
Yummy Vegan Dinner

I'm wondering if maybe I should scrap the idea of using ball jars altogether for kimchi since they aren't supposed to seal? Again, any thoughts are appreciated, peanut gallery!

So, time will tell. At least I can count on my tried and true pickle recipe. I should probably have packed a few more. Tonight I busted open a jar of my Sunja's kimchi for dinner, since I'd been hoping to have kimchi, as well as some cantaloupe, raspberries and pecans.

Now I'm sippin on coconut water, trying to decide what I should plan to stock up on this week. I'm relying on nuts as a crutch right now, and am actually eating more fruit than I ever thought I would. I need to find some easy to scarf with no prep veggies that are not red peppers, grape tomatoes or celery.

Day 4: Good, but a little bit more planning could've prevented a lot of heartache.
Day 5: Lazy, but well-rounded.

Friday, February 19, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 3

Day 3 meant sleeping until 4 pm to catch my sleep up to my energy level. When I woke up, I ran to the grocery store to pick up supplies (pre-packaged kimchi, korean chile pepper, raw granola bar type stuff) and set to work.

Yesterday's lunch was more cauliflower and a little kale salad. Snack turned out to be grapefruit. Dinner was pre-packaged kimchi and unsweetened almond milk with raspberries.

The project for yesterday? Pickling!

I started by making home kimchi. I used the recipe (or guidelines) found at Bella Online, combined with my pickling guru recipe from Tommy J's Kitchen to make my half sour pickles and radishes. Yes, I'm attempting to pickle radishes.

I copped on the kimchi a little...used a fresh habanero in addition to the korean chili powder, so ended up with more of a mud, then blended some garlic and ginger into it. In hindsight, I would've probably used 3-4 cloves of garlic instead of the one. The kimchi, overall, looks a little bit light. I let it sit out overnight to cold process ferment before putting it in the fridge. I'll probably sneak a taste on Sunday night. The cuke pickles will be ready on Monday.

Oh and the raw granola bar things? Tasty and surprisingly satisfying, but they are a little steep at $4 a pop. Basically, they taste like a saltier, healthier version of those nature valley granola bars, with superfoods in them (goji berries, blueberries, cranberries and chocolate are the flavors). They're also a little salty, which helps me to treat them like a real meal and not some lame candy bar.

Since it's also a slow afternoon, I'll tell you about my last Falafel Party (pictured at left). I'll admit, our first (pictured at right) was slightly more successful, falafel-wise, but our israeli salad and hummus were spot on this time around. We used the recipe from VWAV to a T in may, and this time were a little more liberal and winged it (which resulted in some tough first falafels that essentially crumbled in the pan). The one thing that's weird about the VWAV recipe for falafels is the amount of baking powder-- it makes them puff up and created a weird air pocket in the middle that you don't get at your fav middle eastern pita joint. Either way, I'll continue making falafel because it's awesome. But not until April 4.

As far as the israeli salad goes, this time I used fresh lemon juice, sea salt, english seedless (or what my parents call "israeli") cukes, grape tomatoes, fresh cracked pepper and a TON of parsley. It didn't keep well, but there wasn't much to keep! A great way to dress a salad like this is to cut the veggies over the container you intend to keep it in/serve it in. Then put the top on, shake it up and enjoy :)

My pointers for making hummus are more vague-- mainly because hummus is so subjective. I prefer a lighter, lemony hummus to the garlic-tastic that pleases dork. The best I've done (and it has taken weeks of mediocre chickpea dips) are as follows:

Roasted Garlic -- appx (all measurements are!) 8 cloves (roasted) to 2 cups chickpeas, 1 tsp tahini, 1/2 lemon's juice, pinch of cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of the old pepper mill. Olive oil until it flows freely-ish.

Red pepper (not roasted!) -- 2 c chickpeas, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp tahini, pinch cumin, 1/2 lemon's juice, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 red pepper (fresh!), ~1/3 c olive oil, then water until free flowing.

That's all I've got for now, dear bloggers. At some point soon, I'm going to attempt soaking legumes. Til then!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 2

So, Day 2. 1/20th of the way there.

I ended up making my red kale salad. It turned out pretty good after letting it sit for a few hours. I did kind of over-salt and over-pepper, but it wasn't so salty or spicy that I was unable to eat it.

Kale Salad Recipe (Inspired by recipe taught by The Raw Choice)
1 bunch red kale
1 red pepper
1/2 vidalia onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 lemon
sea salt
red pepper

Wash all veggies. Then, shred kale into 3/4" wide strips that are no more than 3 1/2 inches in length. Cut red pepper into eighths and cut into thin strips. Cut onion into quarter rounds. Squeeze lemon juice over salad, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Put in a covered container and shake (you can do this with your hands, but it will be more sanitary if you shake it up and let the salt and shaking bruise your kale). Let the mixture sit out for about an hour, then refrigerate for up to 3 days. Eat and enjoy. The kale should taste like it has been "cooked."

This also may have been due to how hungry I have been. Right now, my #1 problem is not feeling like my belly is full (yesterday I filled up on kale salad and pecans, then brought blueberries and a pomegranate to work, followed by a cashew, cauliflower and avocado plate) but getting enough *energy*. I am dragging ass most of the day. I am dreaming about the positive effects of caffiene. Hippie juice (apple cider vinegar, water and lemon) does not pack the same punch at all. Sorry Dr Bragg.

Day 2 of raw? Improvement, but barely passing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Days of Raw: Day 1

So, I've decided to try to day-by-day blog this challenge since it is really new (and I'm sure a lot of you who attempt to go raw will go through the same trials and tribulations as I will) and might be kind of interesting.

Today, I ended up working a double and not really being able to get to the store until very late. That meant that I drank my hippie juice (apple cider vinegar and water) first at my first job, then again at my second, and by the time I headed to Bull McCabe's for pubquiz, I was fading. At the pub, I ordered a salad, plain. Eating it meant that I was suddenly famished. I did stock up on some good stuff, though, like swiss chard, green onions, avocado, pecans, cashews, cantaloupe, cukes, peppers, vidalias and sea salt, so as soon as I came home, I started shoveling pecans into my mouth, cut up a cantaloupe and am now basking in the glow of having some food in my tummy. I was extremely bummed to note that they have stopped carrying my vegan kimchi. Yes, I know it's overpriced, but I was really counting on coasting on that for at least a day.

I have a raw salad recipe idea for swiss chard, vidalias, peppers and a lemon vinaigrette that makes a sort of ceviche after it marinates. I may attempt it tonight or tomorrow, and when I do I will post the recipe.

Overall thoughts on first day of raw? Fail. But hey, I'm new!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lent Challenge: 40 days of RAW

Hey Friends!

I've got a backlog of AMAZING product reviews, recipes and the like for you, but something big is in the cards. This year, my lent challenge will be, as indicated in the title, 40 days of raw. Now, that means no beer (sad sad) but it also means LOTS of new pickling recipes, a whole slew of raw tricks and a call out from ME to you, my bloggies.

Take some inspiration. I'm by no means a religious person, but it definitely is a test of your strength to think that this was the time when, throughout history, people have sacrificed en masse. This is the time to try giving up that one habit you're afraid of. Lent begins on 2/17 and ends on Easter Sunday (4/4). Join me!

Do you have a favorite raw recipe? If so, please leave a comment and a link! I'm going to need lots of help. I haven't gone raw since June 2006, when I lasted all of 13 days eating Gazpacho for pretty much every meal.

This week's power vegetable will be CAULIFLOWER, because it is effing delicious.

Stay tuned for a progress report as well as backlog updates.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daiya - A love story

Oh Daiya, what is there to say? We met, we danced and now our romance has ended.

It all started out when I ordered Daiya from vegan essentials. Half a pound of cheddar, half a pound of mozzarella. Just some modest tastings. Oh my, I didn't know.

I will tell you that Daiya, without a doubt, is the best cheese substitute I've ever tried. Seriously. It makes Teese look like Veganrella. Cheddar Daiya makes the best mac and cheese I've had that didn't involve dairy. No exaggeration. Spinach fusilli, broccoli, silk and some daiya cheese, melted together in a pot creates some seriously good mac and cheese.

I made nachos for the first time ever and discovered that I think nachos are okay. But hey, at least now I've had them! See picture. They look pretty good, though, right?

The mozzarella Daiya is just as good. Want melty, stretchy cheese pizza? I know it looks a little splotchy in the picture, but I threw the stuff on the pie directly out of the freezer so it was kinda clumpy and melted well enough to create soft squishy cheese.

Then, I went raw. Daiya became a memory, like that German boy I dated for 3 months, knowing full well I wouldn't see again until I got over to Europe 2 years later. A great thing. About a week before I got off the raw diet, I went by Chapel Hill Whole Foods to request that they carry it. Time went by and nothing, so I waited, patiently.

One day, while shopping with Dork and advising her on which vegan products to buy (gimme lean sausage for tofu scramble, yves breakfast links for regular sausage needs) I noticed a new package in the dairy case. DAIYA. Literally screamed. The cereal stock guy looked at me like I was nuts. But Chapel Hill Whole-y heard my prayers. Obviously, we each bought some.

I made pizza with broccoli, spinach and smart deli pepperoni on a corn-based gluten free crust (pictured). I made mac n cheese to feed me for days, packed it up and ate it for days. Then went and bought more. I simply couldn't get enough Daiya. I considered asking the store to start carrying Rossini pizza (made with Daiya) since the Amy's gluten free soy pizza (made with Daiya and rice crust) is kind of horrible. Well, not the pizza, but reheating rice crust is not friendly.

Then, around my birthday, something changed. I had a batch of mac and cheese after a night of somewhat unfortunate drinking choices and the next day...I CRAVED DAIYA NO MORE. (Yes, just like that Burger King only TMNT Release). The spark was gone. The taste of it did nothing for me. I could walk past pizza parlors and watch my friends eat blue box with no jealousy.

Of course, that hatred passed. Tonight, Dork told me she was making daiya pizza (mixed mozzarella and cheddar) with fresh peppers, tomatoes and Smart Deli pepperoni (really, is there any other kind?). And when she offered me some? "Oh hell yeah."