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      News — Personal

      VeganMoFo: tomatoes

      With the onset of chill in the weather, it seems that our fresh garden tomatoes may be on their way out. But they don't know it yet and they keep making flowers and fruit, though not quite of the quality of last month. It's our first real season of tomatoes (besides soot-ridden yellow pears from the SF balcony) and while some were losers (so far we've only gotten one almost mealy orange oxheart and the yellow pear plants are looking in worse shape than the ones in SF), the black russian plums have been amazing. Here's something tasty we made by grilling bread with fresh herbs and Follow Your Heart mozzarella and throwing some fresh tomatoes on top.

      Something else we did with them was add them to our favorite feeling lazy dish, vegetable roast. We chop up whatever veggies we've got around, sometimes throw in some tempeh, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs, and throw it in the oven. Tastes amazing on its own, or good over pasta, grains, salad. It does require some prep time, but basically cooks itself, and that's perfect when you can't think of what to make.

      We finished this batch off over quinoa and the tomatoes were amazing.

      the return of the junco (and Lart)

      It's been less than a year since we started backyard birdwatching (not really something you can do from three floors up in the comparatively treeless Mission) so we don't really know what the seasonal bird patterns are yet (nor do we actually keep track). At some point in the spring though, we noticed that the flock of juncos that would visit every day was no longer hanging around. They'd been pretty constant since we moved here so we kind of took them for granted. We quickly forgot about them as we were entertained by house finches, purple finches, goldfinches, hummingbirds, and other random visitors. So it was like seeing a long lost friend when we randomly looked out the window yesterday and saw a lone male junco pecking around on the wet ground. Today there were a few more so it seems like they're back for good. I don't know what they're a harbinger of, but I welcome them.

      Also back this week, albeit only temporarily and from much further away, is Lart! She's touring with her band Coconut as they play some shows with Deerhoof. We haven't seen her since spring either, so it should be a happy reunion. Now here's the VeganMoFo food tie-in: this summer she sent us a box of goodies from Berlin, which included some tasty spreads. Why aren't vegan spreads a bigger thing here? I mean there's Tartex and hummus and whatnot, but we could use some more interesting options. The flavors of all these were not necessarily so distinct, but they tasted good and that's what matters. We also kind of dig the graphic design of the labels.

      Last week we were in a sandwich mood and had run out of Vegenaise, so I took some inspiration from those spreads and decided to whip up our own. I used our hand blender and the little faux food processor cup it came with and blended up a bunch of random stuff (carrot, walnuts, ginger, miso, chard, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper). It turned out surprisingly good and we spread it on some homemade rolls with some Tofutti cheese, Tofurky Philly style slices (so much for my not really buying seitan), grilled onions and zucchini. Now that was a good lunch. So thanks Lart! Go see Coconut!

      VeganMoFo: day two

      Ok, so it's a bit hard to remember you need to blog every day when you're not used to it, but that's the point of the challenge. I think I just need to get into the groove (and hopefully some of our other bloggers can chime in too). I thought I'd expound on the seitan pepperoni I mentioned yesterday (because it's tasty and I have some pics of the process, like this close-up of the dry ingredients).

      I will be the first to admit that I'm not much of a blog surfer and just looking at the list of all the bloggers participating in VeganMoFo is overwhelming for all the food ideas that are out there. When I cook, it's pretty improvisational or we use a tried and true recipe (like the mac and cheese from the New Farm Cookbook). I really haven't explored the wealth of options in our many cookbooks. So it goes without saying that I never thought about making seitan (although I think my housemates in college made it once--my memory's a bit fuzzy. I know we made veggie burgers and soy milk. good times!). To be honest, my favorite protein is tempeh (which I need to look into making myself too), then tofu, and then I enjoy seitan the now and then that we have it (Herbivore's grilled seitan sandwich, holiday Tofurkey). We also usually don't buy it because it seems pretty expensive for the amount you get. So it was a revelation when our friend Adam suggested we get together to make some seitan. It was such a novel idea. Little did we know that it was so so easy. Now, it's not particularly cheap (vital gluten flour is a lot more expensive than your all-purpose white flour), but the fun of making and flavoring it yourself and then enjoying the fruits of your (very small amount of) labor far outweighs the expense, and if you broke it down, it would probably still come out less than buying it from the store, and you can save on some of that packaging.

      This was from our 2nd attempt and we decided to throw in some fresh herbs from the yard. It would be better to chop the herbs up a little more than we did here so that they stay in the mix better, but it was a nice little addition. It does make you appreciate the flavors of Field Roast sausages though (we think apple sage is the tastiest). I think next time I'll try to be a little more experimental, but I was just getting the hang of this recipe and enjoying it. Here's a pic of what it looks like getting mixed up.

      I won't include any more pics in its shaping process, because to be honest, it looks rather turd-like. But once it's cooked up, it's yummy and you forget all about that. We've yet to try it on pizza because we just end up eating it straight, although I did manage to forgo enough to include it in a Teese bake. All this talk of food is making me hungry. I might need to go whip up another batch of pepperoni. And then we can all go play Palin Bingo as we watch the debate. Sadly, I think we're all going to win.

      VeganMoFo (aka Martine's visit)

      So I was going to write about our nice weekend visit from Martine when I came across VeganMoFo (Vegan Month of Food). The idea is to post every weekday for a month about vegan food and it happens to start today! It's funny because it seems to be inspired by my friend Chris' NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which I participated in its 2nd year (yep, I did write a novel. No, I have never read it again). We've been wanting to blog more regularly so this seems about the pace of writing challenge we need/can handle. And we love us some vegan food! So we're latecomers, but not too late to start today.

      It works out because I was going to talk about the food we had with Martine anyhow. She drove down from Seattle on Friday night and we shared some vegetable soup and a random melon we picked up from the store. It tasted like honeydew, but we just can't remember what kind of melon it was (something we had never heard of), but it was tasty. We stayed up late talking about books and projects. She brought us some really cool things: a crazy Japanese street scene cut-out book she found at a bookstore in Paris when she was there painting a mural for a clothing store (with help from Lart!), a Louvre magnet, and a vintage fold-out postcard mailer of Portland.

      The next morning Jeremy prepared a tofu scramble from the Candle Cafe cookbook (with some improvised elements thrown in), made coffee with Cellar Door beans, and we toasted some Ken's Artisan bread and spread with whipped Earth Balance. In the meantime, I started making some seitan pepperoni, which is super easy to put together, but takes some baking time.

      The weather was simply awesome (warm, but not hot, sunny with clear skies) so we headed out to Laurelhurst Park. We were greeted with a sad semblance of a Disney Radio event, which may explain why the park wasn't packed. We did get to see some dance moves done to that Jonas Brothers song. Scary... Here's a postcard of the park from the set Martine gave us. In reality (and many years later), there were no swans, the water was green, and the pond was fenced because of an algal bloom, and it certainly smelled like you wouldn't want to get near it.

      It was too noisy to sit and talk, so we had a stroll and then headed over to Food Fight! and Sweetpea. We picked up some tasty apple, boston cream, and glazed donuts (and a mini pumpkin pie tart) and signed up for the Josh Harper fundraiser dinner at Cellar Door this Friday. We are excited that a vegan italian restaurant is going to be opening in the space after cafe hours. We'll let you know how this first test meal goes.

      Martine had to get to her friend's house so we went home and scarfed our donuts and sampled some pepperoni and then bid her adieu. We love hanging out with Martine and we came up with a new project which we'll keep hush on for now, but we're excited!