Cardiff

My time in Cardiff Wales was very short, only one full day, but it was a lovely city with less hustle and bustle after coming straight from Liverpool.

The first place I visited was Cardiff Market, which was great because I got there early enough to avoid a big crowd. There was a great variety of interesting stalls including things like Indian spices, vintage records, palm reading, fresh produce, and my personal favorite, the yarn shop. It was called the Wool Pack, but she had a massive collection of acrylic yarn (all of the shelves on the left side), which I got a beautiful teal skein from.

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After getting lost (thanks, Google Maps) and having to ask for directions at a craft beer shop, my first food stop was at Crumbs Kitchen. It was worth the hassle though, because I had a very good lunch there. The first floor of the restaurant is a bit chaotic, due to that being where the orders take place, but there is a second story with extra seating away from the main crowd. I got the chili over brown rice, with rose lemonade and chocolate cake. The whole grain goodness of the brown rice was a nice welcome, due to my Workaway host at that time only feeding us less filling white rice. The serving was huge though, and I ended up taking half away for my dinner later.

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I gotta admit, part of the appeal of Cardiff was being a Torchwood fan. I never managed to get into Doctor Who (though I still find Weeping Angels terrifying), but I was addicted to Torchwood when I found it in Netflix. Because of this, I decided to brave the rain and wind and march two miles from my hotel to the area where they shot the show. It was odd to look at all these buildings in real life when before I’ve only seen them in panoramic filmed shots. Definitely worth a trip if you’re a fan.

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A place you must visit in Cardiff is Cinnamon Sticks, an almost painfully adorable tea room shop. Everything ranging from the wallpaper to the servers’ outfits is either floral, pink, or dainty. Though I’m not a huge tea fan (unless it’s cold, sweet, and Southern), but I did partake in their cake, which is beyond amazing. I got a piece of their chocolate peanut butter masterpiece and can say that it was probably the best piece of cake I’ve ever had. The peanut butter frosting was the perfect amount of rich and fluffy, and the chocolate cake was the perfect spongey texture. I was sad I didn’t have time or the stomach space to try their savory vegan options, but I’ll just have to get them next time I go to Cardiff, since I will definitely be visiting Cinnamon Sticks again.

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Sandwiches, Scones, and Game of Thrones

The weather was extremely nice last week, so Peter and I had a picnic at the park. There we munched on these grilled pizza sandwiches (which had pizza hummus and Daiya inside) and cucumber slices dipped in Italian salad dressing.
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I made a batch of Mom’s Chili, which I ate with crackers. I skipped using canned beans though, and cooked up some dried black beans and red beans the day before in the slow cooker. Then I mixed them with the rest of the ingredients to make the chili.

???????????????????????????????The next day the leftover chili was turned into a “Frito pie”. With layered crushed Frito corn chips and chili then smothered in healthy cheese sauce.

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Tomato-rosemary scones from Vegan Brunch. I’ve actually never baked scones before, but these were extremely easy to make and very delicious. My favorite way to have these is warmed up with a pat of margarine in the middle.
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Soft tacos with Upton’s Naturals chorizo seitan, Daiya pepper jack, lettuce, and tomatoes. It was my first time trying the Upton’s seitan. I really liked the taste and texture of it, but the small amount of seitan per package for a fairly high price (at least at my local Earth Fare) was not worth it.
???????????????????????????????“Chicken” parmesan, made with soy-tan dream cutlets from 1,000 Vegan Recipes (which I breaded and pan-fried), with melted Daiya mozzarella, all on top of spaghetti in a creamy marinara sauce, and sprinkled with nutritional yeast.
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Lentil and veggie soup, which I mostly made because I needed to clean out my refrigerator’s produce drawer. It has lentils, onions, corn, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, peas, potatoes, and lima beans which were all cooked in a garlic tomato broth.

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For our three-year anniversary, Peter got me (along with a few other things) The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I’m a big fan of the television show and hope to begin reading the books soon, so I was super excited to have these recipes based on the series.

Our local gaming group is actually starting a GoT roleplaying campaign, so for our session I made Arya’s Apricot Tart to share. Except there are no fresh apricots available around here, so we settled for peaches. To veganize the recipe I subbed Earth Balance for butter, coconut milk for heavy cream, and I used this recipe for the crust. It turned out delicious with a flaky crust, juicy peaches, and buttery crumble topping. I can’t wait to try more recipes from the cookbook.

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Dorm Noms

I finally got a camera cord, yay! Well actually I got a camera cord a few weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy to blog until now. School work is taking up more time this semester, so my posts will be more sporadic but will probably have a lot more stuff covered in them.

Here’s what I’ve eaten so far this semester:

Carrot cake muffins from a recipe on The Flaming Vegan.

Seasoned black beans mixed with Daiya on top of chipotle tomato rice.

The local eatery, Eclipse Coffee and Books, has added several new vegan items to their menu and I decided to try them out.

First was the couscous and quinoa salad. Gotta be honest, I don’t really like the texture of pearl couscous or quinoa, so this wasn’t a huge hit for me. It had a great taste, kinda spicy with a citrus-y undertone, but the texture was a deal breaker for me. The coconut macaroon cookie from Alternative Baking kind of made up for it though.
Although the first vegan dish was a bit disappointing, the second definitely wasn’t! They added a veggie burger to their menu and it is fantastic. It’s made with quinoa and beans and is served on rye bread with your choice of toppings. I got mine with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and ketchup.

I guess Eclipse’s burger got me in the mood for sandwiches, because a few days after that I tried my hand at making my own veggie burgers. I very loosely based it around this recipe, but made lots of changes.

I mashed up a drained can of black beans, added about 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup diced onions, 2 tbsp taco sauce, and some Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy. Then I formed them into four patties and cooked them in an oiled  skillet for a few minutes on each side. They were sooo good. After making these, I may just stop buying pre-made veggie burgers altogether. I need to make another batch and test whether they can withstand freezing very well. I ate my sandwich on a onion bun with pickles, tomato, and some Vegenaise mixed with Sriracha.

I broke out the slow cooker this weekend too and made some Mom’s Chili, seen here topped with some Tofutti sour cream.

On Saturday I spent time with my friend Skye and her lovely mother Sally. We went to Whole Foods and ate lunch at their cafe. I got fried tofu (with ketchup), a seasoned mixture of black eyed peas and butter beans, and a grain salad with millet, barley, and brown rice. It was all really yummy and I will definitely be going back their to eat soon.

And also for dessert at Whole Foods I got a double chocolate vegan cookie, woot!

Biscuits & Beans

Since gas prices suck nowadays, I am trying to drive less places or at least not as far for things I can find nearby. So that means I am using our local Lucky’s grocery store for most of my ingredients, which forces me to rely on less processed foods (Boca patties, Vegenaise, etc.) and more on regular stuff.

The cookbook Table for Two is helping with this, because most of the recipes use common ingredients, plus the small quantities from the recipes make it where I am not forced to eat leftovers by myself for a week.

One of the recipes I used from the book was for whole wheat biscuits, but I subbed all-purpose flour for the wheat. These lovely little drop biscuits took less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and were delicious. I ate some with Earth Balance and strawberry jam for breakfast this morning.

Although it’s getting really hot outside, I am still eating a lot of hot food. I started swimming twice a week, and after getting out of the pool I am cold and wanting something filling. Chili is the answer! This particular chili had Navy and pinto beans and TVP. I actually ate this with some of the leftover biscuits and it was fantastic. This shall be my lunch for the next few days.

For dinner today I had a marinated bean and corn salad. I took a can of black beans, a can of corn, freshly chopped tomatoes, and let it marinate for a while in the fridge with Kraft mango chipotle dressing. I then put it on a bed of baby spring lettuce with crushed Fritos. The mango chipotle dressing was just okay, the mango taste seemed a bit artificial to me. But to not waste so much food, I just loaded on some salsa and the salad was saved.

Slow Cooker Love

My Valentine this year is my slow cooker!… Okay, not really, it’s my boyfriend. But if I didn’t have Peter, I’d be writing a card for my slow cooker. For Christmas my mom got me the The Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook and she also gave me her slow cooker, which she didn’t use any more. I brought those two things to my dorm after the winter break ended, but didn’t actually use them until just last week. And wow, I never knew a delicious meal could be so easy. I just throw in a lot of ingredients, turn on the slow cooker, and return after class to a hot yummy meal waiting on me.

The first recipe I tried from Vegan Slow Cooker was the Philadelphia-Style Cheesy Portobello Sandwich. The mushrooms, along with some thinly sliced onions and bell pepper, cooked down in some seasonings into a chewy steak-like sandwich filler with its own gravy. Soooo good. I was out of cheez, so I just put it on a bun along with some Vegenaise, lettuce, and tomatoes.

The next recipe I tried was the Smoky Mac and Cheese. But I am picky about how I like my mac and cheez, so I left out the chili powder and liquid smoke, so it was basically just plain mac and cheez. That didn’t mean it was just regular though, that was possibly the best mac and cheez I’ve ever eaten. Whole wheat macaroni cooked down with plain soymilk, cheddar and mozzarella Daiya, and some special seasonings. You can tell it’s amazing because Peter and I ate this whole recipe (all 6 servings) in just two days.

The only recipe I’ve used in the slow cooker that wasn’t from the cookbook was when I made a doubled up recipe of Mom’s Chili. I also mixed it up a bit and replaced the recipe’s kidney beans with black beans, and added corn. It wasn’t too pretty after it finished cooking, but it sure tasted good.

Double the slow cooker power with chili mac! Using leftover mac and cheez and Mom’s Chili. Peter and I enjoyed this as our Valentine’s Day dinner together. Not very romantic, but very tasty.

And now on to some older food pictures:

Here is a lovely cinnamon bun I had for breakfast a few weekends ago. One of my sister’s friends is vegan also, and he brought over vegan doughnuts that evening. I managed to snag one and enjoy it for breakfast the next day.

I promise I’m not obsessed with chili, but Sigma Tau Delta (the English Honors Society that’s on campus) was having a chili fundraiser last week! Of course, they had the gross omnivore chili, but they also had some wonderful vegan chili. It had two types of beans, and some tasty tvp in there too.I love this stuff and I wish they did the fundraiser more often than once per semester.

And lastly, some semi-healthy convenience food. I was starving after getting out of sewing class, and quickly cooked up some Gardein Orange Chick’n, but left off the orange sauce and covered it with barbecue sauce instead. I piled some on top of pre-cooked Spanish rice, and voila! A not-too-bad-for-you and fast dinner.

And in honor of this being my Valentine’s Day post, I’ve decided to share my nerdy gift I gave to Peter. Here is a picture of the Pokemon themed card and a love Pokeball magnet made out of perler beads. In return, he gave me an adorable poem he’d written himself. I hope everyone had a good Valentine’s Day!

Dekalb Farmers Market Outing

On Saturday I was invited to go on a trip with my boyfriend and his family to Atlanta. I got to meet his wonderful grandparents who live there and we also made a visit to the Dekalb Farmers Market. And I must say, wow. That place was incredible, the moment you walk in you’re hit with a wave of sights and smells. We saw people from every walk of life and a lot of different cultures, speaking too many languages to count. The employees actually had a list of languages they could speak on their name tags.

After standing around and gawking for a few minutes we moved on to the food court for lunch and got into the buffet line. At first I was afraid I’d have to stick with the normal vegan fare of a salad, but I soon saw that there were many veggie-friendly food options. I ended up with a huge plate-full of very yummy food. I got sesame ginger tofu (which was by far the best tofu I’ve ever eaten), three bean chili with corn and mushrooms, and steamed zucchini with garlic and fennel seeds. It was all really good, so if you go through Atlanta be sure to eat at the Dekalb buffet.

By the way, my apologies for the crummy picture. They had a strict no photos policy so I just took one quick, semi-hidden snapshot of my food before digging in.

Frito Pie

My mom made chili this week and after seeing Miss V’s frito pie I felt the need to re-create the frito pies I used to enjoy from Sonic.

So I got a big bowl and put fritos in the bottom, added the chili and then topped it with cheez sauce.

For the sauce I shredded up some Follow Your Heart chedder cheese and melted it in a small sauce pan and added plain soy milk until I got the consistency I wanted. It really satisfied my craving.

My mom makes great chili. She used to use meat, but when I went vegetarian she just doubled the beans. It’s really good.

Mom’s Chili

Ingredients:

One medium onion, chopped

1 TBSP canola oil

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) red kidney bean, undrained

1 can (14 1/2 oz.)  navy beans, undrained

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can original rotel Rotel

1 1/2 TBSP chili powder

1 1/2 TSP ground cumin

1/2 of 1 packet taco seasoning (make sure it’s vegan)

1/4 TSP garlic powder

Directions:

Heat a large pot to medium-high heat and add oil and onions. Cook until onions are translucent and fragrant.

After  the onions are done, add everything else into the pot and heat until boiling, then turn on to low heat and keep at a simmer for 30 minutes. Then serve! Super easy.