Monday, December 30, 2013

Over the off season

I was in Raleigh for the weekend visiting my dad, stepmom, and her mom. It was going to be a short visit so I did not bring my bike. I brought my swim stuff but I knew I would not get up early to swim with RAM (Raleigh Area Masters). Since I opted to drive after work Friday, after the traffic died down on I-77 and I-85, I did not get to my dad's house until late in the evening. I slept soundly and slept in much later than I normally do at home. The house sits in a quiet spot being set back in the woods. It is also located along the Neuse River and at the base of the dam at Falls Lake. Perhaps more important than the location and the key to a full night's sleep, only one cat occupies this particular dwelling. This cat, Dame Edna, is a cat who is not allowed in the bedrooms, especially not the room with the waterbed. Needless to say, I had a great uninterrupted cat-free slumber. I ended up crawling out of bed at 8 and headed to the local coffee shop. Pulling in, I spotted a SUV with a bike rack holding three nice road bikes. I was instantly filled with envy. For that moment I did not care is was only 26 degrees out. Even though I know, if given the option, I probably could not be talked into a ride outside with my limited winter riding gear. I rode the other day when it was 36 degrees and I wore all the gear I had to make sure I wasn't miserable. I wasn't miserable but I was not warm either. I found myself, sitting in the parking lot, simply missing the days of gathering with my friends for hours of riding in the cold, rain, humidity, and/or heat on flat, rolling, and/or mountainous terrains. I felt a small amount of sadness for having done nothing but roll out of bed and pull into the coffee shop. Off season. . . I am officially over it.

Then I walked in and spotted the cyclists. They stood out in the holiday crowd. They were dressed rather normally except they were wearing those stupid cycling caps only hipsters and euro-wannabes wear. All my envy disappeared and I enjoyed a hot coffee with a hint of hazelnut and a swirl of soy milk while tapping out this blog post. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

I did not make this! But I enjoyed a few great meals out

Since December is my birthday month I let myself get a little spoiled this year. I had the opportunity to dine at Fern Flavors, not once but twice! There is a lot to love about Fern. I really like the ambiance with live plants on the wall and with furniture made of natural materials. They serve cucumber water which is a nice touch and always refreshing. All of their dishes are vegetarian, most can be prepared vegan, and a lot of them happen to also be gluten-free. A little something for everyone, except for Hal Cobb and James Haycraft. The two meals I had where night and day, both were good but one was great.

The appetizer:

We ordered the “nosh sampler” and I selected the spiced olives, ginger-scallion hummus, and kimchi. I hate when people use the word “nosh” but I am trying not to hold it against them. The slices of pumpernickel? were very good. I am not sure exactly what kind of bread they use but it is sweet, savory, and smooth.

The Fish and Chips:


The fish and chips can also be called “ginger fried tofu.” Large strips of tofu were fried in a ginger batter and served over a bed of spicy potatoes. The lack of color on this plate pretty much sums up my enthusiasm for this meal. The potatoes were too spicy for me or it just wasn’t a good flavor pairing. The tofu was really good but three large pieces were just too much of a good thing. I think they would have been better if they were served over something lighter than the potatoes. I could not decide what to order and this is where I ended up. They offer so many amazing meals I suggest opting for something a bit more vibrant.

The Miso Glazed Tempeh:


Amazeballs. This meal is incredible. Several slices of tempeh were piled on top of a rice cake and topped with an edamame salad. This is so incredibly good it makes the ginger fried tofu look stupid. The dish is also incredibly filling but it is a lot more nutrient dense which is what I used as my justification for totally overeating.

I have had so many great meals recently I am going to have to make another post!

. . . well I‘m at least excited.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Caturnalia: Complex Relationships

Coda and Cali don’t really like each other.


Their body language says it all if you ask me.


Maybe I am wrong.


Errr, nope. I am right.


Friday, December 20, 2013

I made this! Easy Vegan Cream of Mushrooms and Cauliflower popcorn

Like I said, I have been on a cauliflower kick lately. It is being featured in all the blogs I follow so hard to give a few of the recipes a try.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom
I had a package of mushrooms in the refridgerator I needed to use. I can't remember why I bought them so I decided to whip up a quick soup. I used this recipe for inspiration but I was not interested in consuming a raw mushroom soup

- one package of white button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- one small yellow onion
- two cloves of garlic
- 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or other thickener (as needed)
- salt and pepper to taste

I chopped the onion loosely and sauteed it in some olive oil until it was translucent and starting to brown. In the mean time I chopped the mushrooms, stems included, and threw them into the pot to sweat. I tossed in the garlic, chopped of course, covered the pot and waited for the mushrooms to cook and release their moisture. I added the almond milk and allowed the soup to heat back up to temperature. I added some cornstarch just before I used my immersion blender to "cream" the soup. I topped mine with nutritional yeast.  The first night I ate it, the soup seemed a little too sweet but by the second night the flavors blended much better.

Mushroom soup, cauliflower popcorn, and some bagel chips

Cauliflower "popcorn"
First of all there is nothing popcorn about this recipe. It is just roasted cauliflower. People are trying to popularize vegetables. I mean I get it. "Cauliflower popcorn" sounds a lot more appealing than "roasted cauliflower" but when prepared correctly any vegetable can go from good to great, even brussel sprouts. Just  gotta give 'em a chance!

- I bag or head of cauliflower chopped into florets
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- any desired spices (I used nutritional yeast but garlic power or hot sauce would also work)
- salt and pepper to tasted

I just tossed the florets in olive oil and then nutritional yeast and coarse salt. I baked everything at 425 degrees until the florets were browned and slightly crispy.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Caturnalia: Smudge

Smudge was the first cat I adopted. I somehow survived working in a cats only vet clinic but I switched clinics and when she was dropped off my will power melted. There was just something about her . . . .  She is the alpha cat of my little colony. She leads with a quiet confidence keeping most of the other cats in line with just a look. Cali, however, receives a little more than look on occasion.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I made this! (Red) Curried Cauliflower Soup

Soup, especially in the winter, is my go to. I can make a huge batch of it and basically have lunch, dinner, and several side dishes set to go for the entire week. I usually prefer heartier-meal-in-a-bowl soups but a good soup is a good soup regardless! I have been seeing a lot of people cooking with cauliflower lately. It must be the "it" vegetable this season. I have come across mashed cauliflower, cauliflower steaks, cauliflower popcorn, and several cauliflower soups. When I came across this recipe on Cookie + Kate for a Curried Cauliflower Soup I had to give it a try. The ingredient list is simple with a flavor profile focused on cauliflower, red curry and coconut milk.

I ate it all before taking a picture. Oops.
I basically followed the recipe as it was written however I did make some changes on impulse:

  1. I used 2 cups of veggie stock. I used canned veggie stock. The can held about 2 cups. I was not about to have 1/2 a cup of veggie stock sitting in the fridge so I just used the whole can and cooked it longer. 
  2. I did not measure out the red curry. I just used half of the 4 oz "Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste" jar. My tablespoon did not fit in the jar so I guesstimated. Yes, I am that lazy. 
  3. I did not save any cauliflower for garnish so I threw it all in. I ain't got time for garnishes when I am trying to stuff my face
  4. I skipped the basil too. See #3. 
  5. I did purchase the rice vinegar. I am not sure what I am going to do with the rest of it but it was less than $2 at Target. Honestly I think (key word "think") you can skip the rice vinegar and just juice the lemon instead of zesting it to add some acid to the recipe. 
  6. I used my immersion blender to smooth out the soup. Maybe I did not chop the cauliflower small enough but next time I will use a blender. The pieces of cauliflower just don't float into the immersion blender like the onions do.  

I came across another Curried Cauliflower Soup using green curry instead of red curry if you want to mix it up. Let me know which one you like better!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So it was my birthday . . .

Yesterday was my birthday. Yep, 34 years have passed . . . I am not sure where they went as I do not feel 34. My life feels vibrant, alive, colorful, and full of energy. When I was in my early twenties, I did not anticipate my mid-30s would feel like this. I will confess not much has changed for me. Yeah I live in a new city but I am still swimming (just like when I was a wee one). . .


I am still triathloning (just at a slightly different level) . . .

And I still cuddle cats (my own and borrowed ones) . . .

When I returned from Cozumel (more about that little trip later), there was a pile of boxes on my front door step. I patiently waited until my actual birthday to open them. It is interesting how when you look at the gifts you receive from your friends and family, you get a pretty good snapshot of your personality.

- A Pumpkin Spice Vegan cupcake
- A 20oz bottle of organic hard cider
- New front brake which will make my P2 “as fast as it can get”
- Catwoman pez dispenser
- A race entry
- Some super soft jammies with kitties
- A worm composter for my organic refuse
- And a handful of cards, each depicting a cat

Yep, that pretty much sums me up! Thanks to everyone who remembered me on my special day!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Caturnalia: Mimi

Mimi is incredibly hard to photograph. I think all black cats are but she has this cute white hilteresque mustache I have yet to capture. Here are a couple of my most recent efforts.

She has always been shy but her confidence grows daily.

She is a little sun worshiper.

Mimi always has sad eyes . . . 

But she is probably my most playful kitty.