Spicy White Bean Soup

The soup I talked about a few days ago was so good I couldn't just let it sit in my 'blogging' notepad. Again Vegan Dad's recipe called Spicy White Bean Soup. Can you tell I love his recipes? I think I say this once or twice a month. Anyways, it looked like the perfect soup to have when sick. I'm still not sure if I am really sick or just a cold. Hopefully only a cold, but I am prepared to fight this baby. No illness will get in the way of my studies this week. I have three finals and still in the works of finishing a 30 page laboratory report for physics. But, the end is in site and I am thinking about packing.

The soup is 'spicy' because it uses his recipe for seitan pepperoni. I thought this would be the perfect time to use the leftovers from my Thanksgiving seitan log, but that did not go as planned as it already was soggy and just did not taste right. I made the recipe the same and added basil, bay leaves, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, tomato paste, and olive oil. I let it simmer for 40 mins and the smell was just radiating through my house. I got so excited when the potatoes were perfectly cooked that I never added the peas or corn, but I am fine with that. I had two bowls of this lovely soup for dinner, with another two bowls of leftovers. This soup took less than 10 mins to prepare and 40 to cook. I will be adding this to my normal line-up of meals. So simple, but so perfect.



I have to say Thanksgiving has never been my favorite family-oriented holiday. My family in America is very small and during the winter months my nuclear family is the only family in a 1000mile radius. So we normally spend the holiday with family friends. Last year, it was really nice as we hosted the whole event at our own home. It felt much more casual and relaxed. Plus, after we stuffed our faces we were able to quickly get to bed.

This year was at my godmother's beautiful home. It was nice seeing everyone, but the time I spent creating the meal the day before was not really worth seeing two 25lb turkey's being cooked and sliced and fought over. I did though have a very extensive menu. I was the only one that would be eating my dishes, so everything I made was single or double servings.

Bryanna's Seitan Turkey
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Bryanna's Rich Brown Yeast Gravy
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Sweet Yellow and White Corn
Cranberry Sauce and Applesauce
Apple Crisp

It was fun cooking all night, I just hated not being able to reward my cooking with eats right away. Though I did cheat and tried some of the Green Bean Casserole. oops...

Before dinner I spent most of my time re-heating and preparing my food. It is too bad they had to sit a night as the green beans were not as crisp and the mashed potatoes were not as fluffy. Such is life and it was all still perfectly amazing and delicious.

I took one picture of my plate, my family already thinks I'm strange for taking pictures of my food, I was not about to take 30 pictures and let my food get cold. Let's start with the green bean casserole. Holy hell, I absolutely looooved it. It was better than any green bean casserole I have ever tried. If I ever have to go to a dinner or am feeling like a good 'ol American dinner I will be having this! The Seitan Turkey was also amazing, very very flavorful and the texture was perfect chewy and soft. I normally am not the biggest fan of true meat replacers, when they are very similiar to meat's texture and taste I get really weirded out. But for the occassion they worked and were delish. I made my mashed potatoes with Earth Balance, soy milk, and a little Tofutti Sour Cream to fluff them up, they tasted amazing with the dark gravy (which even my parents liked). My mom made the cranberry sauce and applesauce which were to die for, both recipes had fresh orange zest which really made them pop.

Sadly, the apple crisp never actually got to be a part of the dinner party. I made a full recipe of the crisp, but we ended up leaving the dinner early, so we took it back with us as there was already two full tables of deserts to be shared. My family and I enjoyed it the next few days. This recipe is amazing. The combination of allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon made the apples even more brilliant. The topping was also perfect. I wouldnt change a thing about the recipe and I will be making it again and again.

That night I went to bed as early as I possibly could force myself. I woke up at 3.50AM and was at work at 5AM! I worked a 10 hour shift on the lovely American 'holiday' Black Friday. Shoppers galore attacking you, getting mad at you for them not reading discount signs, getting mad at the long lines, and screaming children being lost while their parents are bargain hunting. This year it was not as horrible as the year before. Less people are out due to the economy, but still enough to make it a perfect work day...

My thanksgiving break was not all cooking and eating and work. I got to spend a lot of time with my good friends and some friends I hadn't seen in awhile. I also got to know my new puppy, Mona, a bit better. She is now much calmer around me and likes to cuddle up against me and sleep. 7 more days and I will be back home able to see my family, friends, and of course, my puppies again :)


TuNori Melt and Cannelloni

A week of school is left and 3 days of finals. Oh my, how did the time go!? Apparently sleeping and school and studies. Right now I'm making a lovely soup from Vegan Dad, the smells are making their way to my room. But right now, I really have to get caught up.

I tried another two recipes of Vegan Dad's earlier this year. The first was TuNori Sandwiches. One food that I absolutely adored when I was a meat-eater was tuna fish sandwiches and melts. They were probably one of my favorite lunches, aside from crescent dogs, and cucumber sandwiches. My mom would wrap them in foil and put them in the oven for a good 20 minutes. The bread would come out crispy, the cheese perfectly melted, and the spread melted in your mouth. Well it has been too long since that childhood memory, so I set out to recreate it. His recipe was quite simple, using chickpeas, vegenaise, and nori. I have not enjoyed nori in the past, but I really wanted to try the recipe, so I halved the nori in hopes that would be too little to develop that distinct after-taste. It smelled good and looked like a tuna salad. I popped these babies in the oven for 20 minutes on 200 to try and 'melt' the vegan cheese slices I have. They came out nicely, though I apparently no longer have the photo. Oh well. It turns out that I was still able to taste the Nori perfectly. It wasn't that it was horrible or the recipe, it was my damn sensitive taste. Next time I will try the same recipe, but add celery salt and other spices to get that same level of pow from the original.

The next recipe as I said was too from Vegan Dad. I made his Cannelloni. He made his own marinara sauce to cover the cannelloni, but I felt confident my glass jar marinara would work just the same. So all I had to make was the 'ricotta' filling. The main ingredients was the crumbled tofu, nooch, parsley, and soy creamer. It was so simple to make and it even smelled delicious. I filled my cannelloni with quite some difficulty until I finally gave in and got my hands dirty. Popped them in the oven for 40 mins. What was strange was they were so dry, even after they were covered in marinara and baked for 40 mins, I couldn't figure it out. I called my mom about it and she asked if I pre-boiled my cannelloni as some are all ready for baking and others you have to boil. Well shucks, got me. I definitely am an idiot and did not pre-boil pasta. Wow, hah. I didn't miss the step, but it sure did feel strange filling raw noodle with filling. They were still pretty good, the filling is absolutely mouth-watering. A few days later I saved the last of the bunch by completely DRENCHING them in marinara sauce and re-baking them. They came out nice and plump and again delicious. I will definitely be making these again and remember to pre-boil the cannelloni.

This post sounds like a failure in ways, but it really wasn't. I think that every time you mess up, you only become a better cook. I am doubting myself less and less. When I started to cook all my meals this summer, I would check and re-check and go back a third time to make sure I had the right measurements and was following the steps correctly, but I definitely have no need to do that anymore. I am able to do more and more intricate recipes and hope to do an amazing gourmet presentation for my family for part of their christmas gift (Food is so much better than gift cards!).

Well, I must check on my soup. I am hoping it will be done soon as I am getting hungry. I do believe I am getting sick. I am all congested in my head, sneezy, and a sour throat I only get when I am sick...ugh

8 days til I am home and done with this semester!


i know, i know

I have been horrible, don't worry I know. I haven't forgotten about posting or any of you. I will be back in two weeks, hopefully before then, but these next two weeks are 3 exams, last assignments in all classes, and a physics fair. Already I am really behind. But Im keeping optimistic that I will be able to catch back up this week.

Take care! And I'll write in a bit.



Its definitely been awhile, I still have a ton of posts stored up from last month, but school is kicking my butt. I will post this quickly...tomorrow my family might get the chance to adopt a little puppy!!!! My sister works at Petsmart, she is the head caretaker for all the animals at a large shop downtown. They have a Pet Hotel attached to their store and there has been a little bulldog that was left over a month ago and the owners have no come to pick it up. The store has called them MANY times and for awhile they said they were coming, but now they hang up after they hear it is Petsmart. So this poor little gal has been in the hotel for over a month. The store has declared her abandoned and tomorrow she will be legally abanoned and we will be able to adopt her.

I think her name is Juicy and here is my sister meeting her for the first time today:

And of course, I cant not just stop with one, so I will show our other two puppies:

Ella is my sister's dog, she is almost 2 years old and the cutest monster ever. She likes to watch TV, like no joke she watches it. Anytime an animal comes on TV she goes nuts. We are working on her and she gets better, but its like she thinks she is protecting us from the dogs. And sometimes if she knows the commercial she will bark pre-maturely since she knows it is coming. She also loves to takes walks and cuddle.

Mack is my 12 year old man Boxer. We rescued him when he was 3 and have loved the boy ever since. He is the kindest, most gentle boy ever. He has a ton of problems with his hind legs and pretty much drags them now. You can sort of see how he has scraped his nails to the quick, so now he wears little booties. He also is acrobatic, since all of his strength is in his front legs he sometimes will stand only with his front paws on the ground. He has gone deaf in the last two years so really relies on Ella to know what's going on and loves to cuddle even more. He is in love with that little poof he is sitting on and sits there and licks it to death.
This last picture is of Mack and my late baby girl Maggie. We had to put Maggie down in Februrary due to degenerative mylopathy. She lost function of her hind legs and was in great pain as her nervous system was breaking down. It was the worst thing ever to go through, but the days before we decided she really communicated to us that she was in too much pain to handle anymore. We all miss so much. I have a picture of her and Mack right above my workspace when they were puppies. So cute.
Well we find out tomorrow if we get Juicy. I hope we do, I know we will be a great home for her and be able to give her all the love she needs.


WYSE cupcakes

My life right is made up of mostly school and school. Thrown in is food and sleep. And that is how it should be for someone in their 3rd year of university. Im completely okay with this. But one activity that does help to take the ease off school, no matter how stressful, is the organization Women and Youth Supporting Each Other, WYSE. It is a national curriculum-based mentoring program for college-aged women and 6-8th grade middle school girls. These girls are normally at-risk and need guidance to help keep them on track. We work at a school that is 99% latino, a charter school. Even though the school we work with is really great, with great teachers, administration, and building, the girls do come to us willingly looking for that extra help and mentoring. Currently, we have over 50 mentees (almost 50% of the female population). The program is once a week at the middle school, where we use a curriculum to address major topics. When I say curriculum, I am refering to having a set topic each week that we base all of our activities off of. This week is focused on personal identity, where we will have 3 activities that all allow the girls to get to know their fellow mentees and mentors a bit better and also allow themselves to learn more about who they are. Other topics include: politics of motherhood, STDs, healthy living, and so on. So, we dont just sit there idly for 2 hours and hope that we can think of something to do, nor do we ever help them with homework, we are not there to be teachers or parents, but to be mentors. At the end of the year, we have a grand 'ol banquet, last year I was in charge of the event. All the girls and their parents were invited for a chic night at our university. We served a large dinner, showed a slideshow of what we did the past year, handed out awards and certification of completion, and really got to know our girls better. Im again in charge of the banquet for this year, and already in gear to start planning (its in April!).

Not only am I chair of banquet, but I am a director of the program. I hold the position of Community Director. I have direct contact between the middle school and their administration. I also handle all attendance for mentees and mentors. It ends up being a lot of work, 3 WYSE meetings a week, over 20 hours committed some weeks. But it is worth it. I have loved every minute I've been apart of the group. I've gotten to know some of the most amazing women on my campus and also learned more about myself. My mentee is the most adorable girl in the world, now a big bad 7th grader, we will graduate the same year. She is quite shy, but has a spunk to her that reminds me a bit of myself. I can't wait to get to know her even more this year.

These cupcakes were made for our after-training party. One Saturday last month, we spent a good 5 hours speaking to all of our new mentors (25) about the experience they will have and how to handle all the hardships that will arise. It is difficult to realize that even though these girls are amazing and strong, all women have experiences that are traumatic. So hopefully, our mentors are ready to take on any scary situation. The dinner was at another director's apartment. About 12 girls were in attendance. We served, garlic bread, salad, and pasta marinara (my suggestion ;) ) and I supplied these cupcakes for desert. The first is the ever so famous Cookies n' Cream recipe from VCToW. I had wanted to make these forever, but never had the cookies for it. These babies were so moist and chocolatey, I had trouble limiting myself to only one while I was baking. The cupcake on the right is what I call "Spiced Chocolate" Cupcakes. The major difference is in this chocolate batter there is red chili pepper, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. They are topped with the same luscious white frosting (also of VCToW) and sprinkled with even more red chili powder.
Let me tell you, the girls at the party went first for the Spiced Chocolates. I was very surprised since most people dont relate spicy to chocolate, but chilis and chocolate were made for each other. Everyone thought they were so delicious and also really moist. They were really surprised when they found out they were vegan. So I think I did my job.


Chickpea Pot Pie

I'm almost back to feeling a 100%. I had two midterms last week, they were tough and a lot of work...thank god they are over. What was great is that we had Thursday and Friday off for our fall break. I've been relaxing since Wednesday night in the comfort of my home sweet home. Though, the madness is about to start all over with two more midterms and two large scientific analysis papers.

Well one thing that does help to calm me down before large exams is to eat a good, hearty meal. This dish found on Vegan Dad's blog is 'Chicken' Pot Pie. This isn't a meal to make the day before a big exam or on a busy night, took me a good hour to make and then 45-50 minutes to cook. The leftovers were plenty, and they were perfect for those crazy days. While all the wonderful veggies cooked, I made the incredibly easy crust. What is nice about this pot pie is that there is only one pie crust, no bottom, just the top. Less unnecessary starches means more room for amazing vegetables. And I mean vegetables! It was filled with chickpeas, corn, celery, onion, carrots, peas, and potatoes. I was a bit nervous to make the crust, but it was so easy to mix. I did use a hand mixer, which made it very easy to put together. When all the vegetables were finished cooking I strained half the water and added in vegetable broth. It calls for vegetable broth powder, but it is a great deal more expensive than just cubes, so that remains to be something I will stock. My filling did end up a bit runny, but I didnt mind at all. Next time I will get rid of more water before adding the vegetable broth. What was so great with this dish, is after I assembled it and put it in the oven, the entire house filled with the aromas of the vegetables and the dough baking. I felt so accomplished. And I felt even more accomplished after I got to taste it. It was so damn good. It was everything I was looking for. I made sure to savour every single bite. I enjoyed the leftovers to the next few days just as much. You cant ask for more from a pot pie.

I must go and work on one of my papers. Sadly it is due on Tuesday afternoon, and I have barely started. I know what I will be doing all tomorrow. Lame school. Have a happy Monday!


Bean and Rice Burrito

I am feeling a bit better. Thank you all for your kind words. Fluids and soup were my best friend this weekend. My mom did make a delicious lentil dish for me on Saturday night. Green lentils, yellow and red peppers, onions, turmeric, and vegetable broth. It called for parsley, but I stopped her right before she put it in. I have to say, parsley and I are not friends. But it was really delicious. Im so excited I brought the leftovers back with me...hello Monday night dinner.

Now that I am back at school, there is 3 days left til our fall break. I have 3 days of school to make-up, plus two exams...bring it on!

I will speak about my concert adventure, where my friends and I all went to the Chicago Diner had lovely vegan food. But that review and pictures from the show will come in about a weeks time.

Now to review another of Vegan Dad's recipes. Im telling you, I love his recipes. They are simple, few ingredients, and are most of the time less than an hour to prepare. It is great for any student. The Bean and Rice Burritos looked amazing from the picture. I love beans, rice, and jalapeno peppers, so this recipe was definitely for me. The recipe was quite easy, just had to wait for the rice to cook really. I had bought nacho cheese from Whole Foods that day, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use it...wrong. Turns out I hated the nacho cheese. It was mostly a strong after taste from the cheese. The bean and rice and tomato mixture was perfect though. It was just what I was looking for. Nice simple meal, with great potential for leftovers. Next time I make this, I will leave the cheese out. I have yet to find a cheese that I am truly satisfied. I do like Tofutti slices, but I cant find any around here. Im not fond of Galaxy's white cheese slices, but their yellow cheese slices are perfectly okay with me. I am dying to get my hands on Teese and as well Dr. Cow's Tree Nut Cheeses. Once it gets colder, I will order the cheeses (since I wont have to pay extra for a cold pack).

Mhmmm, cheeese. One thing, Im still learning to live without. My house probably has 10 different types of cheese at one time. My mom is from Denmark and loves every cheese; therefore, I am quite partial to cheese after cheese myself. At Whole Foods today, I saw a blue cheese walnut bread, it was extremely tempting, probably the most tempting thing I have seen since going vegan. I am learing how to live without, but it will take some time.

What non-vegan item is most tempting for you?



So my absence has been due to being very sick. I went home yesterday, still got to see the concert (full review coming), but apparently I might have pneumonia. I got x-rays to test for it today. This would not be the first, second, or third case, but my fourth. So it is a great possibility. Im hoping not, but it makes sense. I have midterms next week, so I need to get better in the next few days, like that will happen. At least I only have 3 days to get through of school, we have our fall break starting wednesday.

This weekend, Ill be nursing myself back to health. Lots of fluids, my antibiotics, and loads of soup.
Have a better weekend!


Internship excitement

Well, I have loads of homework and a few meetings yet to go to tonight, so Ill make this short.

I got a really exciting phone call from my local FBI field office saying that I have moved forward in the application process for the highly competitive FBI Honors Internship, and have received an interview...TOMORROW!! Oh my! I am so excited. This is the chance of a lifetime. As some of you may know, I am a junior undergrad studying biology. I hope to continue grad school with forensic science (most likely trace elements or DNA). I really want to be a forensic scientist and with this internship I would get the chance to work at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, VA next summer. I freaked out mad when I was listening to the voicemail. I have been waiting to apply for this internship for two years now.
The application process itself is very hardcore. First faxed application, notices, recommendation, and the normal stuff. Also you must pass first security clearance. Then interviews. If you are considered further, more security clearances with polygraph test (lie detector), hair follicle/urine tests (drug tests), and they will visit family members, neighbors, friends, teachers, high school teachers, counselors, and so on to get more information on you. Then if you clear all that, you qualify. I've known I've wanted to work for the FBI for a good 7 years now? So while in high school I made sure all of my decisions were based on their requirements (no drugs of any sorts, marijuana and up and up). Even though, I already barely drink and never would have done drugs; the excuse of 'I want to work for the FBI, sorry I'm leaving the party...' or whatever, was quite helpful when peers demanded responses.

In other words, Im bouncing off the walls too excited to even try and think about hormones and their transduction pathways, ergh.

Yay, wish me luck!!


Spicy Tofu and Asparagus Stir Fry

Monday, monday, monday. How I loathe thee. Other than hating the first day of the work/school week, I always have the hardest time waking up. On the weekends, my schedule reverts back to bedtimes of 3am-5am and waking up at 11-2pm. I've never been a very big fan of the mornings. My mom got me an alarm clock at a very young age, as I was not any picnic to wake up for school even then. But I am awake, and half-way done with classes. And so ready for my afternoon nap.

But before I do so, I must rave about this amazing recipe from Robin Robertson's blog called Spicy Tofu and Asparagus Stir Fry. Anything with tofu and asparagus...sign me up. A very simple stir-fry that took less than 10 minutes to prepare and 10 to cook. The sauce is quite simple made up of mostly just soy sauce, sugar, and a little seasame oil. But the tofu is enhanced with fresh garlic and ginger. And lastly, the extra spice of red pepper flakes. I like heat, so I added double of what was called for. I have not a bad thing to say about this recipe. It was amazing. The flavors so simple, but exquisitely paired with the delicate asparagus. And asparagus are not yet psychotically expensive, last week I saw a bunch for 99cents at my local grocery store, so I will definitely be making this again.

Also to add, I know I use white rice (of course, enriched!). Most people would cringe with that thought. But growing up I HATED rice, the texture was absurbed to me (can you tell I was/am a picky eater). But, I realize now it was because my mom always used wild or brown rice. As well, living in Brazil we ate white rice every day. It is what I am accustom to, what I like, and also it is almost 3x quicker in cooking time than other variations. I am learning to like brown rice, but it's baby steps.

That's all. Enjoy your monday!



I did say I was not going to participate. But I cant help it! Everyone is doing it and Im feeling the peer pressure!!!

More so, every blog is making me really excited for Vegan Mofo. I have already over 15 entries lined up, so I was like why not?

So it is official, as of 7:09pm CT of October 5th, 2008 I have signed up for the Vegan Month of Food!

This means that I must adhere to posting at least 20 times in the month of October. Ill be doing my normal stuff, but also be adding in a bit more personal goals for myself and talk about a couple projects I am working on animal rights and not. Also, if you have a specific question for myself or want me to answer, Ill do so!

Time for Desperate Housewives and more hot apple cider!

Mac and Cheese

Thank you to everyone for all the recommendations for mac and cheese recipes. I did try one, I went for Vegan Dad's version called Creamy Mac and Cheeze. I mean creamy right in the title, that had to be the one for me. The funny thing is, I was never a huge fan of mac and cheese as a vegetarian. I mean every so often Id crave those boxes of the cheesiest mac and cheese by Kraft or Velveeta shells, but that was the extent of my mac and cheese love affair. But it seems that I need to wait longer than 6 months san cheese to try out these recipes...

The picture is not beautiful. I have a feeling I was shooting with ISO 1500 setting. But even so, you can see how creamy this mac and cheese is. The sauce was easy to make with my awesome bullet blender. All the nuts and seeds took a good 20 seconds to pulse down. I was making this while on the phone with a friend, I finished and was about to heat it, but it wasnt really orange/yellow. I realized, I forgot the nooch! I grabbed by canister of nutritional yeast and mixed it all in good. Again, it truly was probably one of the most creamy recipes I've tried so far. My biggest issue was that it had no real flavor other than the nooch. I enjoy nooch, but definitely in small quantities. I think it really is an acquired taste. I had no problems downing my entire portion, but the leftovers sat inthe fridge...forever. Im not going to throw this recipe out (like the veganomicon recipe) but I might try it in a few months and see if I like it then. But for the moment, I think Im going to stop trying to recreate a vegan processed cheese pasta.

The weekend is almost over...again! It just comes too fast. Hopefully this school week, goes by nice and quick. I have a great Thursday planned. Off to Chicago to see Tegan and Sara and CITY AND COLOUR. I have been looking forward to this show for MONTHS! It is the first time I get to see both of these artists live. It is City and Colour's first American tour. I am missing an exam for this show. I spoke with my professor, no worries, I drop it from my grade. I get to meet up with some great friends and eat some great vegan food at the Chicago Diner and see probably one of the best shows of the semester. Oh boy. I better calm myself down, still have 4 days to get through. Drink some of my hot apple cider and read Vegnews.


Book, book, book nerd

Okay, so even though I am not participating in Vegan Mofo, I am of course in the spirit of things. I am loving just going through all the blogs that are participating and finding new blogs to stalk and love. Today I came across Awesome. Vegan. Rad. She has a great entry on the top 100 books at Librarything. Bold each book you've read, and color books you own. Star books you love. Well here I go!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (32,484) **
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling (29,939)**
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by J.K. Rowling (28,728)**
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling (27,926) **
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling (27,643) **
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling (27,641) **
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (23,266)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (21,325)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling (20,485) **
1984 by George Orwell (19,735)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (19,583)

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (19,082)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (17,586)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (16,210)
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (15,483)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (14,566)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (14,449)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (13,946)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (13,272)
Animal Farm by George Orwell (13,091)
Angels & demons by Dan Brown (13,089)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (13,005)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (12,777)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634)
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (12,276)
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (12,147)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976)
The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,512)
The Odyssey by Homer (11,483)
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (11,392)
Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut (11,360)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257)
The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, Part 3) by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,082)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (10,979)
American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (10,823)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (10,603)**
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (10,537) **
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (10,435)
The Lovely Bones : a novel by Alice Sebold (10,125)********(one of my favorite books)
Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card (10,092)

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (9,827)*****
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman (9,745)
Dune by Frank Herbert (9,671)
Emma by Jane Austen (9,610)
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (9,593)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (9,433)**
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (9,413)
Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343)
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (9,336)
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274)
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (9,246)
The Iliad by Homer (9,153)
The Stranger by Albert Camus (9,084)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (9,080)
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (9,027)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (8,960)
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (8,813)
The Little Prince by saintexupryantoinede - 75k - (8,764)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (8,421)

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (8,417)
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (8,368)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (8,255)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (8,214)

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (8,191)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (8,169)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (8,129)
The Complete Works by William Shakespeare (8,096)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (7,843)

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (7,834)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare (7,808)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (7,807)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (7,793)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648)****
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (7,598)

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk (7,569)
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557)

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman (7,534)**
Atonement by Ian McEwan (7,530)
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436)*
Dracula by Bram Stoker (7,238)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (7,153)
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (7,055)
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (7,043)**
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (6,933)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (6,901)
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (6,899)
Neuromancer by William Gibson (6,890)

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868)
Persuasion by Jane Austen (6,862)
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (6,841)
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (6,715)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (6,708)
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (6,697)

Almost half the books I have read, and I own just as much. Some of the books that I own and have not read yet Im hoping to getting to soon. They are all with me at school. In general, I love reading, my only issue is I allow myself to think while I am reading, so I have to re-read pages over and over and never get relaxed. Currently I am reading: Punishment by Anne Holt, Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, and The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer.

Today is the perfect day to sit around and drink tea or hot cider reading a great book. Hopefully if I get my work done for the day, Ill get to do just that.


Blackened Tofu, Tomato Cabbage, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well the week is over, it was a nice quick week, but Im still exhausted. My apartment is also FREEZING, making it hard to concentrate on anything. We are having our maintenance guy come and help us close the storm windows since we cant get them shut. The high was in the high 50s today! Its crazy how it went from 90 to 50 so quickly. But, thank god for the weekend. Im going to relax and work on homework all weekend and Im perfectly okay with that. I am so happy it is October, it is one of my favorite months. Halloween, the weather, the smells, and all the amazing childhood memories. I've done a lot of cooking this week and have loads of recipes that I need to share. So no time to delay.

Sadly, Im still trying to catch-up with my September foods. I made Dreena Burton's Blackened Tofu, from Eat, Drink, and be Vegan. Ive seen a lot of people make this recipe and was excited myself. I made about 5 slices, then realized it was way too much. The smell of all the spices was mouth-watering. Though, I had issues with construction. I think next time Ill soak up more water from the tofu by having it sit between pots and books for maybe 30 minutes. It was hard to keep the spices on while frying them because they just were not sticking. It might help to also add some constarch to the mix to just have that little extra binding. But other than that, this was really good. I paired it with some rice and edamame and green beans. Really quick dinner and filling. Great for a weekday meal.

I've been grilling my mom for the last few months on a recipe she used to make us as kids. It was quite simply cabbage, ground beef, tomatoes, and veggies. But it was one of my favorite meals ever. She doesnt even remember it! So one day, I set out to recreate it. I had a small head of cabbage,celery, onions, and red peppers in the fridge, so it seemed like the perfect evening to prepare this dish.

Cabbage and Tomatoes

serves 2
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 head of one small cabbage, chopped
2 large ribs celery, chopped
1/2 can of tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup soy ground 'beef'
salt, pepper to taste
1 tsp cornstarch

-Using a bit of olive oil, saute the onions, in a saute pan, until clear transulcent, (3-5 mins). Add the cabbage and celery to the onions. Add a little water to help the mixture boil down. Once the cabbage is softened (after 5-7mins) add the tomato sauce. Let simmer for 3-4 mins. And stir every few moments.
-Add in the red pepper and water. Allow to simmer for a minute. Add the meat crumbles, salt,and pepper. Once the crumbles are defrosted, add cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water to thicken the sauce. Serve once the sauce has thickened.

This meal was delicious. I adored every bite of it. I was so glad I made enough for two, as I had the rest of it the next day at lunch. Its such an easy meal and so filling. A great fall meal that will keep you nice and warm. I know I didnt really re-create the meal my mom used to make, I have to keep trying to refresh her memory. But this meal turned out amazing, and I cant wait to make it again.

And a final note on deserts. I FINALLY made Isa's chocoloate chocolate chip cookies from Veganomicon. Her cookies call for walnuts, but I left them out. I was surprised by how many cookies they made. I had a good 30 cookies that were medium to large in size. Took 4 cookie sheets to get them all baked. You have to try these cookies to believe how amazing they are. Each bite melts in your mouth while you are being submerged into the chocolately dough and chips. The only thing Id change for the future, is half the chocolate chips in the recipe. I think Im just a whimp, but oh my gosh I would have a bite of cookie, then 5 gulps of soy milk, and so on. They are sooo rich. But of course, that is a good thing. I made these cookies a few weeks ago and I still have a few cookies left. They are getting stale, so I might just use them to make cookie ice cream. Also delicous. So you have to make these cookies when you have a fresh gallon of soy milk. If you want amazing rich chocoloate chip cookies, pull out your copy of veganomicon and you will be set.

Yes, it is Friday night. But I have a lot of work to get done. Ill be reading a lovely chapter of Physics on conservation of energy, wooooho....

dont worry, Im kidding. booooo, is a better word for it.

Oh! Catherine, I finally used my shopping cart this week. My biggest issue is I fail at maneuvering it when it is packed. I probably ran over 5-6 people on the bus, plus my bags bumping into everyone. I guess that means I should do grocery shopping more than every 3-4 weeks ;)

Have a good weekend all!


Rainy Day Lentil Soup and 'Neat' Balls

Well first grouping of exams are over. I had 3 exams and a paper all within the span of two days... Yes you read correctly. How am I still functioning? Well, first I had an amazing professor, and he let me take my physiology exam a day later. And, I have spent the entire weekend so far just lounging and watching tv. I mean like A LOT. 90210, America's Next Top Model, PROJECT RUNWAY, Grey's Anatomy, The Cho Show, and more. I told you! I even watched a magic bullet infomercial at 3am and was highly entertained. So yes, my brain is in need of a lot of rest. It was a hard week, really stressful, no sleep, and so on. But no matter the grades its over. I have to say the more time I am in school, the less I care about grades. Freshmen year I was miss perfect 4.0, second year I freaked over Cs on exams, and this year Im like whateeever. Im not sure if it is because I am in a more homey setting, or am just away from a lot of the drama that surrounded the dorms, but I am so glad I am a bit away from campus.

Lately, I have not made a thing. I have no juices, pop, or food for that matter in my house. So Ive been ordering my favorite chinese, or eating lunch on campus. Which is fine, but my pocket is obviously getting more and more empty.

So awhile ago I was craving a nice warm, hearty soup. So I made one. I found Rainy Day Lentil Soup on Fatfree Vegan. The recipe name was entising enough. It is quite simple, just all delicious things, like lentils, carrots, potatoes, celery, and spinach. It was very easy and quick to make. My lentils cooked in less than 40 minutes. But, sadly. I was not prepared for that to happen. So I started to smell crisp... Sadly, I burnt what sat at the bottom of the pot. It wasnt to the point I had to scrap the entire dish. And I had made the full recipe, so I could freeze it. Ooops. I got out most of the really badly burnt parts and salvaged it. Added a bit more salt and cumin to cover up any 'burnt' flavors. But there werent really any to begin with. Even with my little burning session, the soup was delicious. It was just what I was looking for. Nice rich flavors, thick consistency, and just all the vegetables added in just the right proportions. But, as you can see from the picture, I was unable to get alll the burnt pieces out. Though, after reheating it, I haven't noticed really. Its great to have the soup sitting in the freezer, so if I am really lazy or have no idea what to eat, I have it as a back-up. I have one serving left, so after that I'll be making a new soup :)

I made Dreena Burton's Neat Balls from the Everyday Vegan. Everybody that has had them have raved about them. Well I made the sweet and sour sauce first that went with the recipe. I really did not like the smell of it, it was really tangy and just did not smell right. I asked my roommate if she thought it tasted good, she didnt think it tasted like sweet and sour, but was okay. I obviously ended up scrapping it. I just did not like the smell. Next time, Ill try a different recipe or buy pre-made. So after scrapping the sauce, I made the neat balls. Tofu, veggies, spices, and some sauces to make them. They looked like a meat patty before baking. But I had some trouble with these guys too. Im not sure if I didnt keep them in long enough, but the outside was about to burn and the inside still was extremely mushy. They were good, but really soft. I ate it with some rice and a little soy sauce. Its not a recipe Ill be grabbing for anytime soon. They werent terrible, but even the left over balls sat in my fridge til I had to throw them out.

Well, I will eventually catch up with all my food from September. Im going to try and post them all within the next week. Have a good week to all of you. Hopefully Ill find some motivation to do work since I spent my Sunday watching Hannah Montana and played a virtual golfing game. Oh dear.


Chinese BBQ Tofu and Veggies

Okay, really really crazy round here. School is finally picking up. Next week, I have a large batch of 3 exams and a book report. Eeek!? I just have to keep on top of things and not allow myself to fall back. I also have two weeks til my internship forms are due, but I am getting close to finishing all that. My organization WYSE (Women and Youth Supporting Each other) just had our fall mentor recruitment, and I'm happy to say we accepted 15 amazing girls to the program! We have training in two weeks and it is going to be long and lots of work, but we want to give these new girls the best training possible, so it is worth it.

All this is a lot to take on, but Im glad to announce, I dont feel too stressed...this is like a first ever!! Hooray. I got to go home this weekend, the bus was 4 hours late (2 waiting at bus stop + 2 in traffic) it was pretty dramatic, but I did finally get home. Though, in my area we had really bad flooding due to Ike's after effects. Chicago might go into a state of emergency. Both of our basements were flooded, but luckily it did not head to the main floors of the house. I know many homes have had 4-10 feet of water from this weekend. The rain didn't ruin my weekend, I got to see my parents and DOGS!, hang out with some of my friends, relax, and just get away from the school environment.

It was nice at home having someone cook my meals. I definitely appreciate my mom and the dishwasher now that I don't have either at my apartment. But I have been doing a good job at cooking healthy, fresh meals.

I've got 9 different recipes I tried lined up for the blog. AND a recipe of my own.

Today I have to tell you all about Fatfree Vegan's Chinese Barbecued Tofu and Vegetables. I have been using a lot of her recipes lately, and for good reason...they are all so good! I made this recipe while my friend was over helping me make the WYSE logo banner for our recruitment process. The sauce was a bit complex with: tomato sauce, hoison, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, soy sauce, and spices. But it really didn't take that long to make, as normal, I left out the mustard that was suposed to go in it. The auroma from the sauce saturated my kitchen as soon as I mixed it all together. It was just the right amount of each ingredient. Then peppers, broccoli, zucchini, and tofu were the main bits. I made a full recipe for once, and so glad I did, as three of us were able to scarf it all down. It wasn't too spicy, but it had the zing after effect that I love so much with spicy foods. The sauce, I cannot tell you enough how delicious it was. Even if you dont want to try the recipe itself, but use the sauce by itself or with another recipe...do it! It was so satisfying and delicious. I obviously will be making this one again. Perfect in all ways.

Well, I might go back to missing for a bit. Until next week's exams are over, I will be swamped.
Hope life is well.


Pasta Primavera and Snobby Joes

Well I finally have internet! So here I am. It took the cable company a month to finally get their shits together. Take that back, finally took me a month to bitch them out about it. I am so happy to be back! And I will get to comments in due time, school is preventing me from spending tooo much time on blogging. 3 weeks in and I have my first exam on Thursday. It will be extremely easy (elementary statistics) but that is obviously not the point. I am studying a bunch, but I am trying to stay sane this semester and realize school is not rule over sleep and a bit of relaxation. So today, I will be watching the new 90210 and getting to bed at a decent hour. I will be getting a fresh breath of air this weekend and I will be going to my home sweet home. I am so excited to see my family and my dogs! I hate being gone for long periods of time, since Mack is now 13, and for a boxer that is off the charts old. I know he doesnt have much time left. His heart is healthy as can be, so we keep praying that it'll continue that way. I'll also get to see some of my friends from home, yay!

I am getting a bit behind on my meals. I have a ton to share, and a recipe, so stay tuned for all that.

Right now, I have to tell you how amazing Susan's Fatfree Pasta Primavera. I am madly in love with this recipe. The sauce is really what makes it special. Just a little milk, seasoning and spices, garlic, and cornstarch. But somehow when they all come together, they make the best vegan pasta sauce. Creamy, but not heavy. Halving the recipe makes just enough to coat the veggies and pasta in it, but thats all it needs. The flavors are immense. I've made the recipe a good 3-4 times already. Just plop your choice of veggies, beans, and pasta to boil. Mix the sauce, and viola. I cant tell you how much I love this recipe, you just have to try it for yourself. If you are short on time, or just want an amazing pasta dish. I vote for this one.

While looking at Happy Herbivore's blog, she had declared Isa's Snobby Joes the sole reason she bought Veganomicon. Well this I had to try, right then and there. I was already in search for something for dinner, and saw I had all the ingredients (well I used a red pepper over green). My roommate asked if she could have some of the meal too, so I made the full recipe. Again, very easy to make. Just boiling lentils and cutting a few veggies, and then mixing all the ingredients together. I seem to find that many of Veganicon's recipes are just too long for me to be able to successfully make on a school night. But this one, definitely is do-able. And AMAZING! Yes, it needed the caps. It was sweet, yet had a nice kick from my chili powder. All the ingredients were subtle, making it a really great meal to just savor in the flavor. I had no buns, well I still havent found a brand at my supermarket that is vegan (and Im lazy), so I opted for my Italian sourdough toasted. Just as delicious. I paired it with green beans. I had my leftovers the day after with some left-over rice. It was just as good atop the rice. My roommate also adored the snobby joes, she wanted the recipe to make for her mom. Such a great, versatile recipe for anyone, vegan or not.

Ill be back, now sooner than last time. Im so enjoying having internet again!


First meals in the new place.

Day two of school is down. And only three more days of this week left. I cannot believe school is here! I am not having a hard time adjusting to my new location a bit further from my campus (a whole 4 blocks). The walk is nice and breezy as of yet. Come November, I will be screaming in agony over the cold and the LOONG walk. I still do not have internet set-up in my apartment. I applied through the school for a 'discount' rate. So they only make so many appointments for us kids. Its been 10 days since I applied and I am getting antsy. That's probably why this post will not get up til Thursday or Friday.

I don't have much work yet for my classes, but the large organization fest for campus is on Thursday. It's a great event for new students to check out all the organizations on campus, all 250 of us. I remember going to it last year when I transferred here. It was mind blowing. And its where I found out the club that I am now a director. It is called WYSE, Women and Youth Supporting Each Other. We are a curriculum-based mentoring program for middle school girls that are at-risk. I love my mentee and its so great to really see how she has flourished as a person this past year. I feel I have grown so much due to being a mentor and it has been the major shaping for my college experience.

Tonight I wasn't really up to cooking. I was going to make a great feast of Chinese Bbq'd tofu, but it was 7pm by the time I was able to start cooking and I was bent over sick to my stomach hungry. I am not joking. I had no idea what was wrong, but after I ate my big bowl of Annie's Tuscan Bean soup with toasted pita bread, I felt tons better. I also had a kiwi and apple with peanut butter for desert. So delicious.

My first two meals in my apartment were also not too extravagant. But they were monumental! My kitchen is fully baptized mine. The small size will not bring me down. I have everything a little more organized than a normal kitchen, that's all. It makes the small size a bit easier to bare.

The first meal I decided to make was Fatfree Vegan Kitchen's Chili Mac. A simple chili recipe that looked delicious. I didnt have any kale on hand, so I replaced it with green peppers. And I had a taste for black beans over kidney. But that didnt make any difference to the meal. It was so quick to make and so easy. It's definitely a recipe Id come back to when I was starving or running out of time. And it was so delicious. I used rotini pasta, so the sauce clung to every bite. It had all the right flavors with the nutritional yeast being only a small component of the recipe. I was so full after eating even half of my bowl. Even all by my loansome I felt like I was at home with this meal.

My next meal was just trying to pull together some of the leftovers I had. I brought some white rice from my going away dinner with my family, we had a thai feast, it was deeelicious. Even my grandparents ate a ton. But anyways, the rice was sitting for a few days and it needed to be used up. Then I used the leftover black beans, onion, green pepper, and then frozen corn. So pretty much all the veggies that was in the chili mac. I threw it all in a bowl, added a bit water to recook the rice, some chili powder and diced jalapenos. Took me a whole 5 minutes to prepare and it was so good. Really good. Yay for quick, easy meals. Ill be living on them once the semester gets tough.

I didnt just cook, but I finally got around to baking. We dont have AC, so I never wanted to bake, I couldnt even imagine how bad it would have been. I waited til one night was extremely cool and made Dreena's homestyle cookies. This is my sad little stove, yes it is as tiny as it appears. It is not a normal sized oven. But the pans do fit all the way. Ive never cooked with a gas controled oven, we have electric at home, so this was a pure experiment to see if I could even make anything without sending us all flying out of the building in alarm. Do notice we have a fire extinguisher, just incase anything like that happens. I got us an oven thermometer just because I do not trust this little oven at all. It took 10-15mins to pre-heat but it seemed like it was off 50 degrees. So I turned the oven to 400 F for my cookies. I kept checking them every 2-3 minutes, but then at 6 minutes I got so involved in the clean-up process (we don't have a dishwasher either) so I forgot to check before the timer went off. When I went to get them out, they were not burnt, but they also were like GOLDEN GOLDEN brown. They were crispy, but still did have a chewy texture. Dreena's recipe is flawless, so they were obviously amazing. My roommate adored them, she couldnt believe they were vegan. Definitely pretty successful so far.

As I said, I knew this would take forever to get online. Its now Friday, Organization fest is over, and we got over 200 names that are interested in our mentoring program!! And all my classes are going off without a hitch. It seems like the it will be one of the first semester I can relax and breathe a little...hopefully.

This weekend is the Harley Davidson 105th anniversary. And since my city is the birthplace of Harley we are being taken over by bikers. A good 8000 of them to be exact. There is a huge festival for them down by the lake, but my ears are permanently screaming from the roar of their engines revving and screeching by. Ill be very glad when we get our streets back. But I guess Happy Birthday Harley? haha Have a greatweekend, and for all the Americans, enjoy the long weekend!


Summer is Over

At least, the school year summer is over. I have one last day to prepare for the new school year, but I also have only one last post to finish with all the summer blog entries. I really thought that summer would prove to be a good time to blog. All the time in the world to relax and enjoy the weather. But that did not happen. I am still pale as a ghost and I was not able to de-stress too much. I did though have some great moments and it was overall a pretty good summer. Of course, no more carefree world of childhood where we played in the sprinkler and swam at the pool every waking hour.

A few weeks ago, I saw

The days that I am not working, I normally roll out of bed at noon and have no motivation to make anything delicious. Even so, I still want something delicious. I had been reading my new cookbook Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan and noticed the amazing sounding burrito mix from the recipe Veggie-Sizzle Burritos. I had all the ingredients except for the tortilla. So I used my fresh pita bread I got at the farmer's market instead. I also forgo the mushrooms and put red bell peppers in the mix instead. Fresh zuchini, red bell pepers, black beans, and onions were all delectably seasoned with chili powder, paprika, and tamari. I ate every bit of it. They were so good.

I cannot believe I am all updated for the summer. But that does not mean I am out of food to talk about. I have a cooked a bunch in the last week in my new apartment. I have yet to use the oven, but I am thinking about making some of Dreena's home-style chocolate chip cookies tonight. Oh my, heaven in a cookie.


Breakfast Galore

I am all moved into my new apartment, so no more running around hustling and bustling. Since I had surgery on my toes last week, I have no doubt my feet are glad I can just do absolutely nothing. Well other than eating and watching the Olympics ;) The last week and a half I watched every single one of Michael Phelps' races and interviews. Not only was I amazed by his pure talent, but damn his body is ripped. It was so thrilling to watch the races live, I was freaking out mad during the 100m Butterfly. I used to swim a ton, I was on a team in jr high and all. But then I chose to take running to high school with cross country and track. Im also watching a ton of the track bits. But since I am not allowed to run for 4-5 weeks, I just get so jealous, hah.


Now that summer is 'over', I am able to look back and see the few times I woke up in time for a normal breakfast. If I was awake, it normally meant I was being forced. And a forced breakfast in my book is a quick bagel or fiber sticks and fruit. But there were a few occurrences where I would wake up at a decent hour on my own and be so amazed that Id cook a feast.

This day I had woken up around 6am. I dont get why, normally my bed time is around 5am, this was a miracle, in other words. I got up went running at the lake, went to the farmer's market, and came home ready to make something delicious. I ended up on one of my favorites...pancakes. I had gotten a ton of fresh fruit from the Farmer's Market. But we had some lingering blueberries in the fridge. My mom and dad still were not allowed to be eating any fruit because of their South Beach Diet. I normally dont like them, but I always love when they are cooked. Blueberry pancakes it is. They turned out amazing, I ate every little piece. It was Isa's recipe from Vegan with Vengeance. I havent tried any other yet, since I love hers so much. I paired it with some of the nectarines I got from the farmer's market.

This next morning I was alive for the morning hours was when I was still reading the Twilight Saga. I had fallen asleep while reading the book, and actually went to bed at a decent hour. I woke up starving, but could not decide on any food to eat on. Well then, make it, of course! I just got Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan so I decided to make a recipe from there. I decided on Zucchini Spelt Muffins. My only issue was I didn't have spelt flour, that was solved by looking online to see that the ratio between all purpose and spelt is the same. They were extremely easy to make and turned out amazing. MY entire family loved them. The fresh nutmeg and cinnamon were the perfect combination for a slow morning. After I baked them, I went straight to my bed and read the rest of the second book.

I will be all caught up with my entries by the end of this week. I only have one more before I am at present time, finally! Im going to go work on some more organizational projects for my room. Have a good one!


Check out my friends music show blog!

Awhile back I told my friend that Id give him a shout-out to the good people of my blog.

Michael is already a hot shot at a radio station in the good 'ol midwest, but he is putting out some of his favorite music on his own blog radio program. Its a great 30min-ish radio show with great recommendations. A great collection of music that house all types of styles.

Here is his explanation of the show from the blog:

Thanks for taking a moment or two to visit our page. We work at a public radio station in the Midwest. I'm the morning on-air guy, Suzanne is the producer of one of our talk shows, and we both are into music in a big way. I'm also the music coordinator at the station so I get new sounds sent my way all the time. One day an idea occurred to me: why not share the tunes with others that are also into music in a big way? So Suzanne and I put our talents together and came up with The Mailbox, an offering of some of the things that are found in ... say it with me, people ... my mailbox, yes. Most of what you hear will be music that has come to me at the station or at home, but I'll add a few things now and again that might have some cohesion with the song before or after - or maybe I'll just play something because I can, dammit.

We hope you like what you hear, and we hope you'll tell your friends about us. We aren't doing this for riches or fame, we aren't receiving any special considerations from artists or labels. Not that we're against special considerations, mind you. If someone - let's say maybe someone like Sia or The Cinematic Orchestra, just to pull a couple artists' names out of thin air - wanted to send a poster or an autographed guitar pick our way, that would be swell. Just be sure to send two, I don't want to have to fight Suzanne for any of the cool swag. She'll kick my ass.

We're doing this because the idea of sharing cool music with cool friends and other cool people is kinda cool. Enjoy the tunes, and if you like them as much as we'd like you to like them, tell your friends about us, go out and buy a CD, catch the artists in concert, and let them know you appreciate their work. And if it's not too much trouble, ask them to send me an autographed picture.

Again the link is at: http://www.freewebs.com/themailbox/audioandplaylists.htm

Check it out. Every time he comes out with a new episode I listen to it while I surf my blogs.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend all!


Chickpea Cutlets and Mac n' Cheese

So the summer is coming to a close. It makes me realize I really need to catch up with my blogging. Tonight I read all 200 entries from my blog roll on my google reader. Took a few hours, but that is okay as I was upset when I finished reading my book today, because it was the last in the series.

Last Friday, a few of my friends and I decided to support our friend at a book opening party. It was for the last book in the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. I was at work and had no plans for afterwards, so why not? I had no idea what the book was about, just that I have always loved the Harry Potter book launch parties that I had attended. (I attended every single one...yes, Im that HP fan)

Here is evidence of me and my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from last summer. I was shaking and freaking out, to the point where I had to calm myself down for a few hours before I could start reading.

Anyways. My friends tried to sell the book to me a few years ago, and I realized why I wasn't interested. They told me it was a love/adventure/teen story between a human and a vampire. I am really not into fantasy worlds, aside from HP. So we get to the opening, and I realize I should know what Im getting myself into. There were girls EVERYWHERE, like 12 year old girls. And they were all dressed in prom dresses, vampire teeth, bite marks, and etc... I was a bit scared. My friends and I were really the oldest there, aside from the parents with their pre-tweens. But everybody was telling me to just read the first page and give it a chance, so I did. While we waited for midnight I read, and really did get into it. I decided to buy the first book. There was also a costume contest, trivia, and other events. It was fun, and people were so excited.
Well I read the book, and was HOOKED. I had to run out that next night to get the second and at least the third book to keep me occupied. Sadly while my mom and I went on our shopping trip to the bookstore and Filene's the rain turned into tornado watch to warning. We had to sit in the back of Filene's for 40 mins while the storm went overhead. No storm funnels formed near us, but it was scary outside. Such is life...
Now less than a week after the book premiere, I have read all 2500 pages of the series. Even though I feel like a giggling pre-teen while reading the book. I absolutely adored the books. They were filled with a world that I had never thought to enter, pages filled with cute teen romance that did turn to adult relations, and adventure after adventure. I highly recommend the series, if you are looking for a quick, giggly, page turning adventure.

Lately I havent felt like cooking much. With work and all. But! I had my last day of work a few days ago, so Im hoping Ill soon want to get back into the kitchen. Today I just had minestrone soup and made a pizza from some left-over dough I had in the freezer.

So let's get back to food from earlier in the summer.

I got Veganomicon for my birthday, so I knew I had to sift through the recipes to find some delicious eats. My mom had already started dinner, and most of it was vegan-friendly. So I wanted to find something for a whole protein. I found Isa's recipe for Chickpea Cutlets. This recipe was so damn easy. Just mashing chickpeas and kneading a couple ingredients with the beans. Isa as normal had a few variations for prepartion, and due to the heat I just heated up a skillet and grilled the cutlets. They were ready in less than 4 minutes. And holy shit, they are amazing. Im so glad I made a full batch, because I ate them for a few days after at work. Made great sandwich meat. And also great conversation, I got a few girls at work to try some of it and they were freaked out at how good this gluten meat was. That night they were paired with brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cannelloni beans in a tomato base.

My next adventure in Veganomicon was Isa's mac and cheese. It was a pretty lengthy recipe, involving a lot of pots and pans and also baking. It called for you to make her Cheezy sauce to pour atop crumbled EF tofu, lemon with the noodles. Her recipe was for 8 people! So it took a bit to size it down for one person. My portions were still off, and I had enough to feed at least 4. Well, for all the work...I wasnt that impressed. I really forced myself to eat it. I hated the pieces of tofu in the sauce. I didnt like the citrus bit from the lemon juice, and the cheezy sauce's flavour was dependent on the nutritional yeast. Let's just say I was more excited about my roasted vegetables and just ate way more than my fair share of asparagus, broccoli, and red pepper. I feel guilty, but I threw out all the extras I had. So much for all that work...

That was the last bad experience I have had with cooking. All the rest of the food Ive made has been amazing, so I wont count that against Isa or Terry. I think Im still learning to like nutritional yeast, and really needing to realize that mac and cheese will never be the same without that gross powder shit.


Birthday Weekend Part 2.

Well my birthday month has come to a close. So it feels necessary to update with the rest of my birthday weekend. I have been extremely busy with work and getting ready to move. I thought that the summer would allow me more time to just write and be carefree. Well, those summers I remember as a child/teen are over. Summer proves to be just as stressful as the school year.

But one weekend I felt like nothing was stopping me, on top the the world feeling, was my birthday weekend. The day of my birthday was so relaxing, almost as if I knew Id need it for the adventure to come the next day. My friends and I set out to see Jenny Owen Youngs at a venue downtown. We were going early so we could have a nice dinner at the Chicago Diner.

The four of us piled into my car to get to the train station. Had the most hilarious, yet sad train into the city. A woman obviously on many assorted illegal drugs was our entertainment. Her hair was everywhere and she wore these great pink bath slippers. At first she was very angry and yelling at this man who tried hard to pretend he wasn't hearing. Then she started to laugh and sing. Her lyrics went something like this:

"My momma was a drug dealer who kept me up. My daddy was a drug dealer who kept me up" "Im 5 days old, 5 days old. Gonna bring me up" "Pissin, pissin, pissin in a cup" "Singin, singin, singin for rock. Singin, singin, singin for crack"

All were to the same little beat and tune, a guy on the train was recording her. The lady sitting across from her had the hardest time trying to keep a straight face. We sadly had to get off before her concert was over.

So while waiting for our transfer train to arrive, we all were extremely giddy and excited from the funny train trip. After we made the transfer and
got up to the north side of the city, we trekked on over to the famous diner. I recognized it the minute I laid eyes on the building, right next to abundant sex shops, which got my friends even more giggly. There was a 10-15 minute wait to sit outside, but the day was gorgeous and we did not want to be inside on such a lovely day. So we waited outside for maybe 20 minutes, but once we got our table the service started immediately. The garden was so sweet and beautiful. I had a bit of a heart attack when I realized they didnt have any diet coke products. So I settled on getting my caffeine fix with a large glass of ice tea. We all decided we wanted to try the Cheesy Artichoke Calzone for a starter. It was a little small for sharing, we each got a small piece. But it was an appetizer so we all decided that was fine. It was very delicious, very creamy and cheesy and the pizza dough was fabulous. It came with piping hot marinara sauce, a really delicious little treat while we all were stilll deciding on what to get.

We did finally decide on our meals. All my friends were omni, but wanted to get all vegan options so we could all try each other's meals. I was soooo excited and all happy to see them trying some different foods and really embracing the full experience. I had been so worried that theyd all hate the food. My friend Teage settled on the diner's Reuben. I have heard great things about it, and now I know why. The seitan meat had the perfect thinness, crispiness, and flavor of a corned beef. Teage thought it was even better than a meat version. The thousand island dressing was delicious and it was just the perfect sandwich. She paired it with their Spanish rice. Next time I go, Im really tempted to get this again.

My friend Kim was torn between a few different entrees. She decided to try the Portabello Caesar Wrap. It was filled with long strips of 'chickin' seitan strips and portabellos, cabbage and lettuce, melted cheese, and creamy caesar dressing. Served in a spinach flatbread. She liked it, it was HUGE. It was impossible even with all of us tasting it to even finish half of it. I am not a fan of mushrooms, so Id probably not choose it myself, but the caesar dressing was delicious. I miss caesar and ranch dressings the most, I love creamy paired with crisp greens. She paired it as well with the Spanish Rice.

My friend Christina and I both chose the Chickin Ranch Sandwich. It had 'Chickin' seitan milanesa, guacamole, cucumbers, onions, large pieces of fresh lettuce, and their creamy ranch dressing. My oh my, was this a mouth full. It was so delicious. The ranch dressing was very good, I wish I could just bottle it up and take it home. It was tangy and sweet and extremely creamy. The seitan was delicious. I LOVED this sandwich to pieces. I forced myself to finish it, since I knew I wasnt going to be carrying it around at the show. Christina also enjoyed her sandwich, without guacamole, tomatoes, and onion. Our waiter asked if she was sure she even wanted the sandwich. I think its funny since normally at restaurants I have to just say what I DO want on my choice. Always have to say no this, no that, and so on. But this time I didnt have to do it!

Even though we were all extremely full, we had heard so many good things about their dessert menu, we had to venture on and try. So we planned on splitting, yet we couldnt decide on one to split. So instead we got two. Christina and I got the Cookies n' Cream cake. A mix of chocolate and vanilla cake with cookie pieces within the filling. It looked AMAZING. So beautiful presented. But I fel the cake was a bit dry, I like my cake moist, and it was lacking. The flavors were there, so I bet it was just our one cake. Maybe next time.

Kim and Teage's cake was a different story. They shared the Lemon Raspberry Cake. Moist yellow cake with raspberry filling and lemon custard, topped with frosting. Holy shit, this was to die for. It was so sweet, but since it was a yellow cake the sweetness wasnt overpowering with richness. It was heavenly. We were able to finish the entire cake and probably could have taken a full one home with us. Very delicious for such a lovely summer night.

After we emptied our wallets and slowly tried to even get up, we walked to Schuba's Tavern to see Jenny play. I was like in a mad rush to get there so we didnt miss anything. I was quite determined. Once we got there, I felt a bit more relaxed seeing that the starting act hadnt even gone on stage yet. We took a bathroom break, and caught the first song of Caleb Engstrom. His good looks matched his performance. My friends fell in love with his lips and lyrics. Kim bought his cd and it really is great.

After Caleb finished his set, it wasnt long til I saw Jenny come from the audience up to the stage and start setting up her one-woman show. She had no supports, just her and her guitars. I was so squeamish with excitement. We were second row, in such a nice intimate venue. She started off telling us how she lost her car keys and spent the last 4 hours of the day with a locksmith and shelling out 400 dollars to get car keys. She said she was really upset, but glad to be playing for her favorite city :) So things got started off and it was amazing. She said she didnt have a set list, so we were able to request any song we like. And she played every song from her album and a few new songs. It was just a beautiful show and I was beaming and laughing the entire time. She really is funny. I was so happy when she said she'd be selling her own merch after the show. So I went to the table and got in line. She was taking pictures, signing autographs, and more. So I was patient and anxious. But my time arrived and I got to meet her. We probably had a good 5 mins of time together. I got to ask her about her decision to go from veganism back to eating meat. She said it had to do with always being on tour and having to try and eat healthy and how all the soy in her diet was causing her vocal cords to be sore and inflamed. After she switched to a less soy-based diet, she said she saw results almost instantly. I also got to tell her how I had called in to a radio show she was on earlier in the day and ask her more. We took a photo, did some signing, and she even tape a video for my friends who are also HUGE fans of her. You can check out my videos from the show and the message to my friends on my youtube account.

I had the most amazing birthday weekend. I was beaming and freaking out from all the fun I had over the weekend. I could barely sleep that night. It was definitely a birthday I will remember forever. Im so glad I got to share it with my family and friends and of course, you guys :)