I want to try this milk; wish they sold it in California! However, Whole Foods came out with their own version and it’s pretty decent.
Last weekend I drove up to San Francisco for some much needed excitement, travel, fun and friends. Shopped at the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building where I tried some amazing fresh made tofu, hiked around Golden Gate Park, had phenomenal pumpkin curry at Marnee Thai, sampled some wine and just generally meandered around the city. It was a blast.
However, it’s funny how running around and thoroughly enjoying myself for 3 days results in complete exhaustion once I return to work and the schedule that it dictates. In short, back in LA I downshifted into lazy mode and didn’t get much writing or cooking done for the next few days. I was then pulled out of my hibernation with a brilliant idea on how to perfect recreating a taco dish from one of my favorite veg restaurants.
The veggie tacos from Natural Cafe are scrumptious; hearty, savory and warm. My numerous attempts at these tacos in the past always ended in disappointment but I realized a few things that are imperative to this dish: first, the vegetables need to marinate for several hours, and second, they need to be roasted on high heat rather than sauteed. With this in mind I was driven to try afresh; everything seemed to finally click. I altered a marinade recipe which I use for broiled portobellos and that worked perfectly. My week culminated in success, and it tasted wonderful.
You can swap out any of these vegetables for whatever you like/have on hand. I served these with a side of spicy black beans. Simple and perfect.
Makes 10-12 tacos
1 head of cauliflower, separated and cut into small florets
1 head broccoli, separated and cut into small florets
8 carrots, thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
10 ounces porcini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
3-4 tablespoons shredded cheddar or vegan cheddar
10-12 tablespoons salsa (I used a serrano and tomatillo salsa)
10-12 corn tortillas (I used the blue corn variety)
Whisk all the marinade ingredients in a container that will fit in your fridge. Toss the vegetables into the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Arrange vegetables on a baking sheet, discard the marinade (or save it for more tacos later). Bake for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown. At 15 minutes, you can sprinkle the cheese on top of the vegetables and return to oven.
Warm the tortillas on the stove or in the microwave. Brush each tortilla with a tablespoon of salsa, then fill with the roasted vegetables.
My second week back at work after the winter holidays I was completely ambushed with a vicious, headstrong cold. I was blind-sided and disheartened since it seemed that my trip up to San Francisco for the long MLK weekend would have to be cancelled. However, I upped my calorie intake (and allowed myself more carbohydrates than usual), resumed taking my vitamins and hibernated for a bit. By the end of the week I was feeling fine and enthusiastically rushed up to San Francisco for an amazing weekend of food, friends and love.
Here’s how I cope with being sick:
Remember the instant oatmeal packs your mom used to buy, well maple brown sugar was always my favorite flavor. I discovered that making oatmeal with half coconut nog and half water results in a similar yet much more delicious flavor. Needless to say, this was my breakfast for the entire duration of my cold.
Mmmm….tea. A daily staple for me; however, I swapped out my usual ginger tea with some cold care tea.
Easy dinner consists of veggie gyoza from Trader Joe’s with brown rice and drizzled with sesame oil.
Spicy butternut squash soup that I had made the week before was a quick lunch that didn’t require any effort. I ate it with toasted slices of whole wheat bread.
The drive from San Francisco back to LA post-New Year celebrations was not bad; I made good time and there wasn’t much traffic. However, if you’ve ever driven through central California you know that the I-5 is quite possibly the most monotonous drive in the state; it’s flat and barren with the occasional fast food stop, oil rig, cattle lot and the associated Harris Ranch steakhouse. All of which are varying degrees of depressing. The Harris Ranch cattle lots are impossible to miss because the odor will permeate your car miles before they come into sight, but when they do it’s miles of cows standing around on dusty plots of land, no grass in sight. What really makes me want to cry though is the steakhouse down the road, where you can eat the animals you’ve just seen. That’s too close for comfort.
Add that to the string of fast food restaurants along the 5 and you’ve got the reason I don’t make a single stop on my drive; I bring some light snacks to tide me over until I get home.
On a lighter side, I was excited to get home and unload some excellent Christmas acquisitions (the most exciting of which are a wine fridge and a bicycle). Chemical Brothers albums provided a dreamy soundtrack to my drive which compensated for the depressing landscape and by the time I got home I had a second wind and unloaded everything, set up my fridge and started a load of laundry. Not possessing enough energy to then make a huge dinner I opted for something light yet hearty and very simple to prepare.
I usually make a week’s worth of quinoa over the weekend and keep it in the fridge. However, making quinoa for this recipe is quite simple and can be done while your oven preheats and you prep your veggies.
Also, I used broccolini for this recipe but it can easily be substituted for broccoli.
2 cups cooked quinoa
8-10 broccolini stalks
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic aioli (I used Majestic Garlic spread)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
pinch of salt
pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Arrange broccolini on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for about 15 minutes; after 10 minutes check on the broccolini a few times to make sure they don’t brown too much.
If using pre-prepared quinoa, reheat either covered on the stove for 5-8 minutes or in the microwave for a minute. Mix in the green onions, cilantro, garlic aioli, lemon juice, pistachios and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add pepper to taste.
Top with the roasted broccolini and serve.
Achieving light and fluffy quinoa is a cinch; as easy as boiling water. It’s low in carbohydrates and high in protein; it goes well in salads, as a side dish and as a replacement for rice or couscous.
First, rinse the quinoa. An easy way to do this is to put it in a pot, add water until the quinoa is covered, tilt the pot so the quinoa all falls to one side and place your hand over the quinoa and slowly pour out as much of the water as possible.
For every cup of quinoa you add 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil; simmer for about 15 -20 minutes or until all the water is soaked up. Turn off the stove, remove from heat and let sit (don’t take off the lid) for 5-10 minutes. Then stir the quinoa with a fork and you’re done!
James Cromwell, that darling actor you’ve seen in everything from Babe to LA Confidential to The Artist, may have a gruff exterior but he’s got a soft spot for animals. The website Take Part interviewed Cromwell about his views on being vegan, his motivation and animals as sentient beings equal to ourselves in all the essential ways.
I like that his opinions and experiences are so diverse and varying. His simple plan for how to become vegan involves a step-by-step gradual process that isn’t overly ambitious. His stories of acting with animals show how his thoughts on animals evolved to the point where he became not only vegan but an activist for animals. His views on animals as pets are a little more extreme and he introduces some politically correct terms that have a high mockability factor. But his heart is in the right place, he proposes that as long as society continues to deem animals as inferior property they will continue to be treated as such. The way people think about animals is just as important as how they act towards them.
“People eat unconscious of what goes into the making of the food that is in front of them.”