unicorns

the city / tempeh reubens at clementine bakery

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black tea with soymilk, worn in flip-flops, and a good pair of jeans makes me happy
an ideal day starts with a hot cup of tea, worn in flip-flops, and a good pair of jeans

A lot of my friends live in what they refer to as “the city”, meaning New York, one of nearly 300 major cities in the US, but according to them might as well be the only one. When visiting, I still stumble over where Queens and the Bronx are in relation to dreary old Manhattan. In fact, a while back I drew a map for my buddy of how I thought the boroughs were arranged. He found it so hysterical that he showed it to other city dwellers so they could have a laugh. I’m okay with this. Actually, in a strange way I’m delighted to not know much about the city because everyone else claims the exact opposite. What I do know is that it has insanely good vegan restaurants ,and for that reason alone, I remain a frequent visitor.

behold a perfectly messy tempeh reuben
behold a perfectly messy tempeh reuben

On that note, Tom and I recently visited Clementine Bakery in Clinton Hill (yes, I just googled “Brooklyn neighborhoods”). We go to Clementine a lot because of its proximity to my brother-in-law’s place and for its insanely delicious tempeh reuben. Loaded with homemade apple sauerkraut, marinated tempeh, Daiya mozzarella cheese, and vegan thousand island dressing inside of freshly baked sourdough bread, you cannot go wrong with this sandwich. Yes, it’s full of Daiya cheese which I’m normally not the biggest fan of, but there is a time and place for processed vegan cheese, and this is most definitely one of them. The vibe inside is cute retro hipster, with tattooed, cat-loving-girls-only bakers and Beyonce blasting in the morning. The service is slow, but it’s okay because I like being there and everything is made fresh. Enjoy your reuben outside with a local coffee and the alley cat regulars who attack unsuspecting dogs passing by. Leave your unicorn friend at home so he doesn’t scare the cats away, but make sure you buy him a reuben to go.

jealous?
the apple sauerkraut is divine!
cute alley cat guarding his cafe, much to the terror of local dogs everywhere
cute alley cat guarding his cafe, much to the terror of local dogs everywhere
299 greene avenue brooklyn...go there!
299 greene avenue brooklyn…go there!

concerning airplanes / fried green tomatoes

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DSC_0005This is basically what happens when I ride on an airplane.

First, I notice the smell – something along the lines of elementary school meets hospital: a stale bag of Cheez-It’s, finger crumpled magazines, and stagnant I-wish-I-were-anywhere-else humans melting into motley patterned, under cleaned seats. I sit down and remind myself that I don’t care about any of this, or the turbulence, or the fact that my life is in the hands of a random pilot who in my mind is the blow-up auto-pilot from Airplane!. When the plane turns on I feel like I’m in a motorized lawnmower; it feels shaky, loose, and completely unsafe. I think about the people who fix planes; I think about the giant bolts that hold these sheets of metal together; I think about engines and birds flying into engines. Luckily, I’m saved by the drink cart. I order a Budweiser and tell my husband that I’ve decided flying no longer bothers me one bit. He smiles with encouragement.

When we take off, I scan the plane for flight attendants. Firstly because they look like they’ve been teleported from a bygone era, and secondly because their wide smiling expressions of calm make me feel better. They do this all the time, I remember, like everyday. But then there’s turbulence. Now I know that it’s just pockets of differing air pressures and has nothing to do with the safety of the flight, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, I know all that, but it still feels like a giant motorized steel tube with wings is dangling around at 35,000 feet, the auto-pilot just deflated, and a bird got sucked through the engine. I hear the ominous tone of the fasten-your-seat-belt sign and subsequent illumination of the alarming red florescent lights, and quickly finish my beer. Moment’s later, the elusive pilot restates the obvious: “Hello folks. Looks like we’re hitting a little patch of turbulence, but it’s nothing to worry about. Please remain seated and enjoy the flight”. I instantly think of a doctor with a giant needle saying, “this might pinch a little, but stay still and it will be over before you know it”. I feel like an idiot, like a lemming following another lemming off the side of a cliff because he told me it would, “only hurt for a second and then be over”.

The muffled clip-clop of red pumps over worn-out blue carpet lurches me back from my rambling conscience. “Chicken or fish?” she asks. I tell her I requested the vegan meal. She purses her lipstick smeared mouth and asks another flight attendant for help. The dreaded vegan meal always throws them for a loop. I never expect to get one, but I always ask, in the very least because it distracts me from the image of myself soaring through the atmosphere in a motorized steel tube with wings and faulty bolts. I end up with a pasta primavera of sorts, glued together with cheese.

Now that you never want to fly ever again, why not stay at home at fry up some delicious fried green tomatoes? My garden is bursting with hard, green tomatoes and since I don’t feel like waiting for them to ripen, fried green tomatoes are the perfect solution! Chickpea flour and brown rice flour provide the breading, while a buttermilk inspired nutmilk mixture help it all stick together.

DSC_0007Fried Green Tomatoes

3 unripe, green tomatoes

For the flour mixture:

1⁄2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1⁄2 cup brown rice flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

Large pinch of each: paprika & cayenne pepper

1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt

Black pepper to taste

For the “buttermilk”:

1 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

For frying:

1⁄2 cup refined coconut oil

DSC_0009

Combine flour mixture in a small bowl. In another bowl, add soymilk, apple cider vinegar and ground flaxseed, and whisk until somewhat emulsified. Cut tomatoes in 1⁄4 inch slices and dredge one at a time, first in the flour mixture, then in the soymilk mixture, and once more in the flour. Heat oil in a large nonstick or cast iron sauté pan over a medium-high flame. Test the oil with a small pinch of flour; if it bubbles, the oil is ready. Carefully place dredged tomato slices in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove fried tomatoes from the pan and lay on some paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve hot with Dijon mustard or with a vegan tartar sauce. Makes about 12-15 fried green tomatoes, depending on how big the tomatoes are, or enough to feed 5 unicorns with aviatophobia.DSC_0010

CSA-mazing / miso creamy basil pesto

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DSC_0018So this is my first year as a CSA member. Now before you get excited and envision me as a flight attendant for Czech Airlines or a product tester for Canadian Standards Association, let me explain what I mean. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which is a locally based food distribution service that connects farmers to consumers without a giant supermarket in the way. Yes, food comes from farms, not florescent lit refrigerated cement boxes with aisles and aisles of food! See my thoughts on grocery stores here.

CSA’s are a fantastic way to support your local farmers while reaping the benefits of eating insanely delicious food that was grown less than an hour away. And the fun part is, you never know what you’re going to get! Each week I arrive at the farm, drooling over baskets of kale, arugula, beets, basil, and tomatoes, and dreaming of the cooking adventures I will embark on with my newly hatched sun-kissed bag of goodies.

If you’re interested in learning more about CSA’s or where to find one, check out Local Harvest. Also check out my sweet CSA provider, Seraphina Says Farm. Tara is a raw vegan farmer with a cat named Seraphina and a passion for holistic, plant based nutrition. How could anyone not get excited about that combination!

if you're lucky, your CSA farmer will look like this.
if you’re lucky, your CSA farmer will look like this.
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this lettuce tasted like sunshine and butter! (and no, I’m not high)

Now that you’ve got a canvas bag full of farm fresh goodness and you feel like singing “The Sound of Music” to everyone in your town, why not whip up a batch miso creamy basil pesto! Between my CSA and garden, I am practically swimming in a sea of basil goodness. I’ve even started adding it to vases as decoration. If this is happening to you too, make pesto.

P.S. The Nutmeg Cookery (that’s me and the unicorns) are going to be the guest chef at the Max Restaurant Group’s farm-to-table dinner on September 27th! If you’re a local nutmegger, come join me under the stars at Rosedale Farms in Simsbury for a five course gourmet vegan meal! For more information, click here.

DSC_0017Miso Creamy Basil Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 avocado

2 cloves of garlic, smashed or grated

1 lemon, zested & juiced

1 heaping tablespoon of miso

Large pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked black pepperDSC_0003

DSC_0007
this is best miso on earth. also notice the basil “flower” arrangement in the background.

In a food processor, add all ingredients except oil. Pulse it down a few times, then slowly stream in the olive oil while processor is running. Blend until you have a loose, green paste. Makes 1 1/2 cups or enough to feed 2-3 unicorn farmers who’ve been digging in the earth all day. Toss with brown rice pasta and sauteed onions and peppers, or use as a spread inside of sandwiches or collard wraps with loads of veggies!DSC_0025

concerning the voicemail / minty pea soup with cashew cream

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DSC_0038I’m pretty sure that the voicemail is nearing extinction, however, as an 80’s child and former owner of a Star-TAC flip phone (those are still awesome), I have enjoyed the progression of the voicemail personality. My first message went along the lines of “Hey! You’ve reached Jenny’s phone, leave a message and I’ll call you back, thanks…bye!”  Translation: I just got a phone, I like boys, messages are cool, yay!

When I was college bound, it morphed into “Hey, this is Jenny, leave a message.” Translation: I smoke cigarettes and am too important to talk to you. So important in fact, that once I graduated from college I found myself folding Life is Good tee-shirts and developing anxiety. Solution? I changed my message to…oh no, wait– I moved to Hawaii. And they don’t have phones there. See my travels in semi-employment here. No, seriously, I think the next time my message changed was when I heard some of my productive girlfriend’s voicemails. You know, the ones with real jobs and briefcases and lady suits. Their voicemails sound like you have actually reached a company. “Hello, you have reached the voicemail of _____, I am unavailable to take your call at this time, but if you leave your name, number, and a brief message I will get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day.” Translation: I have a job, and I kind of hate it, but this message will make you wonder if I’m filthy rich and important. And I did wonder…and I did get nervous. So I updated mine to a milder version and tried my best to sound friendly and upbeat instead of my usual, monotone man voice. Translation: I sound like Johnny Cash. Lately, however, I’ve noticed a trend towards the mysterious Siri-type computerized “You have reached 000-000-0000, at the tone, please record your voice message”. Translation: you’re basically the Dos Equis beer guy and you don’t need to have something as archaic as a voicemail message (or you’re just a lazy cow). Hmm, I may have to do that next…

Now that you’ve re-recorded your voicemail fifty times and are so terrified of your own voice that you wonder how anyone can like you, why not make some minty pea soup with cashew cream? Peas are in season for 3 seconds so if you can’t find fresh english peas (which are incredible), you can easily substitute frozen peas. On a side note, if you are native to Beantown and raising a little organic baby, you can use Lovage BabyBlends’ Minty Peas in this soup as an alternative to buying peas and mint. The recipe for that can be found soon on Lovage BabyBlend’s website. Check it out!

DSC_0039Minty Pea Soup with Cashew Cream

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 ½ cups stock

About 2 cups of freshly shelled english peas OR 1 bag of frozen peas

Handful of fresh mint

Pinch of sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup cashew crème

DSC_0048In a saucepan, heat oil over a medium flame and add onions and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent, but not browning. Add stock and bring to a gentle boil. Add peas, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper. Stir in mint and cook for another minute or so. Turn off flame and leave on stovetop. In a high speed blender, puree ½ cup raw cashews and ½ cup filtered water on high until it resembles a thick heavy cream (you only need half of the cream, but your blender won’t be happy with less. Translation: it will probably smoke and smell like burning rubber). Save the other half of the cream for a topping on fresh fruit or stirred into granola or other soup dishes). Pour some of the cream into a bowl, leaving about half in the blender. Now add your pea soup, and briefly puree until smooth. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a swirl of cashew cream. Makes enough for 2-4 unicorns who still can’t figure out their voicemail passwords. DSC_0053

the nutmeg cookery is certified! / B12 isn’t a classroom, it’s an essential nutrient

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It’s official…I have completed my certification in plant-based nutrition from Cornell! What does this mean? Basically that I can continue to rant about how bad sugar, dairy and meat are for you, but now when you ask for my credentials I can flash my medieval-lettered certification letter in the air with a cheshire cat grin. I am still in no way a nutritionist, which would have been a much longer road and one that I never want to take. Translation: 2+ years of cinderblock classrooms with stale pencil air and a whole lot of chemistry. I guess I’m more of a learn-online-in-the-privacy-of-my-own-faery-garden kind of girl.

So to mark this milestone, I’m going to talk about my favorite controversial nutrient. The elephant in the room of vegan nutrition, and the go-to deficiency question (after where do you get you protein…see my answer here) of omnivores everywhere. B12 isn’t a classroom, it’s a nutrient manufactured by microorganisms that dwell in the intestines of animals and in the soil. It is an essential nutrient, which means that we cannot produce it ourselves and therefore must ingest it dietarily. In our pre-industrial past, this wasn’t an issue. Translation: we used to eat dirty vegetables…now we have veggie wash and hand sanitizer. We are so damn sanitary that we can no longer supply our bodies with the minute amount of B12 we need. Unfortunately, the anti vegans of the world jump around and excitedly point their chubby fingers at our need for supplementation of B12 as the proof that veganism isn’t “natural” because how could a perfect diet need supplementation? To them I say, what exactly equates a “natural” diet? If natural means raising sentient beings in a torture chamber with a diet of fish meal, corn and soy, then mercilessly slaughtering them, and stuffing their remains in styrofoam and plastic wrap and selling them to the masses for dinner, then yes–vegans are wholly unnatural.

Toast exhibiting the signs of a B12 deficiency...
Toast exhibiting the signs of a B12 deficiency…

The issue is not that the vegan diet is unnatural, it’s that our world is changing. Due to our increased fear of germs and the continuing deluge of pesticides on our crops, we cannot find the B12 we need. It’s similar to the epidemic of the Vitamin D deficiency. Our diets haven’t changed that much, we just don’t go outside anymore!

Solution? Eat dirty veggies and run naked with the unicorns in the sunshine.

P.S. this is the B12 supplement that I take.

P.P.S. this is a picture of some of my buddies.

Image found here