Disney World Food

Did you think I forgot that this was a food blog? Of course, not!

Before going on the trip, I spent a good amount of time searching websites for the restaurants and stands within Disney that would be the most accommodating and that would have the most options for me. Sadly, most of those options were sit-down restaurants that were 20-30 dollars for a meal. Obviously being poor college students, those places were not always an option.

I ended up eating A LOT of veggie burgers and fries while I was in Disney. Though, it was very delicious. What is nice is at each stand, no matter the size, there will be an official binder of ingredients of everything they sell. I spent a good amount of time looking at those binders trying to make sure that a vegetarian item was vegan. Luckily, those delicious burgers were.

We did eat a few times at nicer restaurants, where my friend's mother was generous enough to pay for us. One of those places was the Sci-Fi Diner. It was a cool place, as you sat in old 50's cars and watched old movie/advertisement clips. It was great fun, but the options were sparse. The chef came out and was very helpful and really wanted to make sure my experience was a good one. He made a special tofu sandwich that was seasoned to perfection. Was it worth 12 dollars, no, but what can you do. He got really excited and came back out saying that he had vegan cheese in the fridge and if he could add it on. I was happy that he really was trying hard to make my lunch as enjoyable as possible.

Another dining experience that we were dying to participate in was a Character Breakfast. Anybody unfamiliar with Disney will want to know that this is a special breakfast that includes Disney characters floating around to greet you. My mom laughed at the idea that 20 year olds went to one of these breakfasts, but it was all in good fun. Again, thankfully, our friend's mom paid for us, as this bill was hefty! We signed up for a breakfast with Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy! We got to meet each and everyone of them, a few times, and got pictures and signatures (yes, I did have an autograph book). The chef took my friend who has celiac around to show her what she could eat at the buffet and then put in an order for some gluten-free waffles. He was about to take me around and then was like 'All thatyou can eat out there is the fruit, what do you want me to make?' I was thinking a little of everything. We decided on a tofu scramble and some of the same gluten-free and apparently vegan waffles. The waffles I thought were awful. They were dry and flavorless. I had to DRENCH them in the artificial maple syrup to even enjoy them. The tofu scramble was a different story. Oh my, holy lord, this was the best tofu scramble I have ever had. Even though it turned out to be more of a potato hash with tofu in it, I can't even explain the flavoring. Just the spinach, carrots, onion, potatoes, and tomatoes together with the tofu was delectable. I was so sad when I couldn't stuff another bite. The breakfast was paired with apple juice AND chocolate soy milk. We all really induldged that morning and didn't really need to eat again for hours and hours. So delicious.

The rest of the food eaten on the trip was garbage. Loads and loads of sweets and french fries. But, we were on vacation and doing tons and tons of walking, so that was okay. One sweet that I was so excited for was Tofutti ice cream. At home, this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but having the option at a normal ice cream parlour was so gratifying. Food allergies at Disney are not taken lightly, your food will be prepared in a completely different kitchen. That being said, this also means that your food will take a biiiit longer. I felt so guilty as my friends were waiting and waiting for my poor cup of vanilla/chocolate Tofutti ice cream to arrive. When it finally did, I was beaming! We ate our ice cream in front of the glow of Cinderella's castle and prepared ourselves for another round of rides...

Disney World

Spring Break 2009...wait, rather 'Time to be 5 years old again 2009'

Very last minute a friend and I decided to join one of her friends down in Orlando for Spring Break. I haven't been to any of the Disney parks since I was 4 years old so you can imagine my excitement in knowing I'd get to go to the land where all my favorite indulgences come from (Hannah Montana, Suite Life, etc). We were going to be there for 6 full days, where 4 of those days we would be staying free in a Disney resort with the friend and her mom. Then the last two days two of us would be staying extra in the cheapest hotel we could find.

We started the journey off a bit shaken, we all were taking seperate flights all from different airports that were closest to our homes, I arrived at the same time as another, but one was delayed almost 5 hours. I was perfectly content sitting in the warm airport feeling the lovely warm Florida breeze. It was 30 degrees or so back home and snowing, so any warm was happy enough. We spent three days at Disney World. The days that we were not at Disney was spent at Downtown Disney (shopping meca), Disney mini golf, or relaxing by one of the many pools. I was so excited to get a major tan (I know, not healthy, but neon white is not pretty either), sadly I only ended up with being a more normal shade of white.

The days we were at the park were very, very long. But smiles and giggles galore. Because we were staying with a family that was part of the Disney Vacation Club we got amazing perks like discounts at stores and restaurants AND extra hours in the parks. We got to stay at Magic Kingdom til 1am Sunday night! All of the rides and major Disney images were breath-taking at night. I would stop midtracks in desperate need to document how beautiful it was. My favorite night feature was the castle and the Epcot Ball (Spaceship Earth). It was so much fun and when we came back to Magic Kingdom the next few days it seemed all new since it was the first time seeing it in the daytime. Anyone who does not think Disney is a magical, magical place is mistaken. All the characters floating around, the joyful music, the awesome performers doing silly skits, and the crazy awesome rides.

My favorite park was by far Magic Kingdom. I never felt a dull moment and actually found that we didn't get to do all the rides I wanted to do there. I forced everyone on It's a Small World...which was the scene of a future scary movie. Effing creep as hell, but still cool to do.

My favorite rides? Tower of Terror, Rock'n Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania (new ride!!), Splash Mountain, and the Test Track. And for your enjoyment, a picture of my friends and I on Rock'n Roller Coaster. And yes, that is me in the upper right hand corner with my lungs coming out of my mouth.

One of the greatest thing about the trip was getting to experience Disney characters that I had loved as a child. I was Belle two years in a row for Halloween, I watched Cinderella a billion times over again, and the whole shabang. Beauty and the Beast had a few opportunities to share with the characters. The first attraction we visited in the parks was the Beauty and the Beast live show. It was my FAVORITE show and I was so giddy the entire time. The actors were incredible and really put on a show. I felt like we paid money just to go see this show. And as a Belle enthusiast, I could not stop awing. We also got to meet Belle at story hour and at the meet and greet room.

Now after the friend and her mom left we were pretty much on our own. We arrived at this stingy motel near Universal Studios. We were scared it would be horrible, like horrible to the max. So when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't THAT bad. Yeah, I kept my shoes on the entire time, we double/triple locked our doors, kept the blinds shut all day, that sort of business, but for 25 dollars a night (yes, I do not kid), we were in heaven.

I felt really special while at the parks, as one of my high school friends works for Disney! She is a Disney PRINCESS!! How many people can say they are friends with a Princess. I have wanted to visit her and see her in costume for years. So after we met up with her and played around at the parks we got her schedule and wound up at Epcot's China and got to see our lovely Mulan. I was so happy to see her and she looked amazing.

While we were staying at the dingy motel, Mulan got the two of us into the park for free! She was the best Disney tour guide ever....seriously. She had already planned the whole day out for us and what there was to see and what we had to do. So we started the day off at Magic Kingdom to go visit some princesses, which she knew all of them. It was really funny to see how the characters while in costume would use code talk to get across what they wanted to say. It was great fun hearing Belle 'So, I saw a lovely picture of Mulan the other day, isn't she a doll...' We went on a few rides, but we spent most of the day going to see the shows and enjoying the parades. The morning parade in Magic Kingdom was too much fun. It was a block party parade that ended in front of the castle which allowed the dancers/actors/characters to interact with the public with tons of dancing numbers and singing. I had a BLAST! I seriously shook off my tail-fetha. There was an afternoon parade at MGM, but I was too hot and tired to really get into it. But it included characters from Pixar films. It was fun and included such characters from Toy Story and Monsters Inc. I really got a kick out of Mr. Potato Head. But what was even cooler was that during all of the performances my friend knew the actors. She got Little Bo Peep coming up and hugging her, winks from dancers, and even little waves from Princes! Little kids stared at awe in us... I mean we were in with the in-crowd!

Well our adventure was very tiresome and my feet were dead by the end of the vacation. It was also time to say goodbye to my first pair of Chucks (8 years old) as they were beaten to the core from Disney. All-in- all it was a great vacation. Not relaxing, but time to be a kid. Sometimes it feels good to want to carry a balloon around all day, or eat a messy popsicle, and especially meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse in their hometown.

Oh boy.

Spinach, spinach, spinach

As a child I hated spinach. My mom prepared that god awful frozen spinach that was a bunch of muck. I never even realized how delicious spinach was until baby spinach was the 'cool' thing to do. Yes, certain vegetables are cooler than others, ('90210' just made kale cool, @ 4:30).

I decided to make ieatfood.net's Chinese New Year celebration meal, consisting of vegetable TVP postickers and a Tofu and Spinach soup. As a child, one thing I did love was potstickers. Well, I didn't just love them, they were the only food I'd eat at any chinese restaurant. You can imagine when I went vegetarian I began to miss my favorite little treat. I thought it would be fun to recreate the buggers. I had a bit of a problem reconstituting my TVP, it was the first time I had ever cooked with it and did not really realize how much it would expand. The TVP bubbled over the bowl in the microwave and I had a gigantic mess to clean. The TVP that stayed in the bowl was used for the mixture of veggies for the potsticker filling. I didn't have most of the vegetables that were used so I made my own mixture of onion, carrot, and kale. The dough was so easy to make and really quick, I was surprised and happy. I have a feeling the wrappers would have cost a TON more pre-made. After the filling had set-up a bit in the fridge, I started to package my potstickers. Since I used chopped up kale, I had a lot of moisture to deal with. I had a hard time getting my dough to stick. I ended up having to first put some filling on the dough, fold it over and let it dry out a bit before I could pinch the edges shut. No matter how ugly some of the postickers were, they cooked beautifully. While the potstickers were browning, I started on making the soup. I just used frozen spinach, tofu, scallions, broth, sriracha, and soy sauce. It was perfectly seasoned with just enough crunch from the scallions to add some nice texture. I also prepared a little dipping sauce of soy, sriracha, and crushed red pepper. This was the most fun meal I had created in awhile and I enjoyed every bite of it. The potstickers brought me back to my childhood and really reflected closlely on what I remembered and enjoyed. The addition of the kale to the filling really was perfect. I had so much filling left-over that I browned it the next day and created a filling for some sort of a burrito. I cannot wait to make these again.

I had only used half of the package of frozen spinach with the first soup so I had to find some recipe to use up the last bit. Using my lovely, google reader I searched 'frozen spinach' and viola Recipe Garden had a lovely, quick, and easy recipe using frozen spinach. I had a big exam two days later so I needed a meal that would be done in seconds. And with a name like 'Easy Noodle Bowl,' it couldn't be beat. The recipe called for rice noodles, frozen spinach, a carrot, and peas. I had all of the ingredients on hand, but instead of peas I used edamame and I added tofu. The soup was ready in minutes (literally) and was absolutely delicious with the warmth of red crushed pepers, veggie broth, and a little tamari. I ate up a huge portion in one of my favorite bowls.

It is a bowl that I created at one of those painting shops. I had visited the shop while I was in Palm Desert in the moutains of Idlewild. The sad thing was I had been there a few years earlier and my guaranteed shipment of an over-sized mug (which I might add was GORGEOUS) broke... The shop keeper was hesitant to believe me, but he ended up letting me get my bowl for free and pick any premium paints. I didn't want to be greedy, so I picked only one premium. And that is what I used to paint the interior. The paint has speckled rocks that when in the kiln popped open to create those awesome patterns. The outside is a pale green.

I adored the soup and had the leftover portion the next night. I ate almost two cups worth when I noticed something floating in my soup. Turns out it was a worm. Yes...a worm. I freaked. I think it was a spinach worm, as it was tinted green. I know edamame would not have that sort of worm, and it is more likely to be from the darn package of frozen spinach. I was too freaked out to eat any more of the soup and think I will stay away from frozen spinach for a long long time.

That being said, I know that there will be tons of bugs and 'defects' in my food. Just read the FDAs laws on defects and you will never want to eat again. I tried to share with my mom a few of the examples and was stopped immediately. She said "I know, but I want to pretend I don't know...' This lovely guide will tell you the max level of 'defects' allowed in processed foods. Insects, rodent droppings/hairs, maggots, are all among the deliciousness allowed in our food. Another reason why one should WANT to eat whole, unprocessed foods. bluergh


BBQ Black Beans and Kale

The past year I have finally found my love for kale. I am quite obsessed with the bugger and feel lonely without a bunch in my fridge. And you ask, why should we all love kale to death? Well, it is high in vitamins K, C, A, beta carotene, rich in calcium, and fiber. That isn't all though. According to Nutrition Data, kale's protein content is very complete, as well as containing almost every mineral in the book. What is there not to love?

Beans and kale are some of my favorite ingredients in meals, so when I saw Show Me Vegan's recipe for BBQ Black Beans and Kale, I knew it was a winner for me. I pretty much made this a few days after I saw the post.

This very simple dish has two simple parts: cook-down kale and simmer beans, pepper, and bbq sauce. That is really it. It is so simple to make for a busy weekday meal, plus it has tons of fiber, protein, and all the goodness of the kale. I love the flavor of the garlicky kale with the richness of the barbecue sauce and beans. It is a hearty dish that will leave you satisfied even without a carbohydrate. I have made it with rice and also have just had it plain. I love it and think that it is a brilliant idea pairing kale and bbq sauce together, something I'd have never thought of.


school consumes me

It has been a month, I am aware.
I love you all and will have a proper update soon.

The last exam of the semester is in a few hours
and I am in the process of completing my last all-nighter.

When I say all-nighter I mean it. I'm no measly study til 5am and run off. I stay up til 5pm the next day. I have grown quite fond of caffeine. Well I have always been, but the past few years I have been actually addicted [caffeine withdrawal is really frightening...trust me]. I hope once I leave school I will have better sleep habits and health.

In less two weeks time, I will be a year away from completing my B.S. degree. I really don't believe it.
In four weeks, I will be on a flight to New Delhi, India.

Life is great.