Monday, February 28, 2011

Pineapple Dinner Party

This was the invitation:
Last Death Throes of Winter Dinner Party Potluck

Dinner party why?
1. Because we got a new (old) dinning room table
2. We haven't had one in a while
3. We like the company
4. ... there is just no good reason not too!

Time to come out of winter hibernation! Celebrate the soon to be warmer weather with tropical fare. Bring something with pineapple in the ingredients.... or something tropical... or be a renegade and just bring something totally unrelated to the tropical theme (freakin' anti-conformists!).

Yup, we will be making pina coladas (I know, awesome right!?)!

To protect the innocent, I am not including any of the photographs of our dinner party participants, but let it be said that after dinner, Pictionary was involved. Scandalous, yes?

I will now list the amazing food that was served at this fabulous tropical dinner party:
  • layered dip (refried beans, home made corn salsa, salsa fresca, guacamole, and lettuce)
  • pineapple soufflĂ©
  • mango salsa, guacamole, pineapple salsa verde
  • pineapple upside-down cake
  • Caribbean sweet potato casserole
  • fresh tropical fruit
  • chocolate mint and blueberry lemon vegan cupcakes (from Pearl's on Grove Ave.)
  • pastries and fresh bread
  • and of course, pina coladas

I made the Caribbean casserole again, just threw some pineapple in and upped the amount of rice (It was a Friday, after work, and I was strapped for time!). I did however whip up a vegan pineapple upside-down cake that was pretty darn yummy, and served as a great breakfast a la leftovers for the rest of the weekend!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 bottle of maraschino cherries
1 20 oz can pineapple slices in unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup pineapple juice reserved from can of slices
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (1 of those snack size containers you take for lunch)
1 tbsp white vinegar
1  angel food cake pan
non-stick spray (or whatever you use)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together all dry ingredients

 In separate bowl, mix pineapple juice, applesauce, and vinegar.
Spray cake pan with non-stick spray all the way up the sides too.

Lay pineapple rounds and cherries in a design on the bottom of the pan (this will be the top, so make it look pretty! ) and sprinkle with brown sugar.

Quickly mix the wet ingredients with the dry. This is fun and very much like making the volcano thing in elementary school!

Pour into pan immediately and bake for about 30-35 minutes or till center is firm.

Next week is a Mardi Gras themed dinner party... F'sure, dawlin! (for a comprehensive list of Nawln speak, click here!)


Vegan Cooking Class!

WBCH is offering a new class for all you would be cooks out there! We are very excited to be offering a Vegan cooking class starting Wednesday, March 16 and going on  every Wednesday for six weeks from 6-8pm with the last class being April 23rd. The classes will $50 for the series or $10 per class if taking them individually. These classes are open to the public . Please call or email Jessica Turner to sign up today!  (804)643-2717 ext 324
The vegan diet is free of all animal products including meat, eggs, dairy and any by products. Utilizing this diet correctly can embrace a healthful and environmentally conscience lifestyle.  The class will be taught by Jenn Hurst, writer for the blog River City Vegan. WBCH is happy to be able to provide educational classes for the entire community.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vegan Cooking Class, March 16th

It is official! The William Byrd Community House will be host to a six week vegan cooking class, featuring me!!!

Here is the write-up from the website:

Vegan Cooking Class!

WBCH is offering a new class for all you would be cooks out there! We are very excited to be offering a Vegan cooking class starting March 16 and going on for six weeks with the last class being April 23rd. The classes will $50 for the series or $10 per class if taking them individually. These classes are open to the public . Please call or email Jessica Turner to sign up today!  (804)643-2717 ext 324
The vegan diet is free of all animal products including meat, eggs, dairy and any by products. Utilizing this diet correctly can embrace a healthful and environmentally conscience lifestyle.  The class will be taught by Jen Hurst, writer for the blog River City Vegan. WBCH is happy to be able to provide educational classes for the entire community.

How awesome is it that they give this blog a shout out? Totally awesome!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yes, Sweet Potatoes. That is all.

Sunday was mini iron chef day. My task: use sweet potatoes. Make dinner.

Pile-o-Nommyness (word, yes?)
I found a great recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook for a Caribbean Sweet Potato Casserole.
Basically you slice the sweet potatoes length wise and very thin.

seriously slicing the sweet potatoes
 layer them with black beans and rice in a casserole dish. Cover them with coconut milk, season with thyme, cilantro, lime juice and a bit of red pepper. Then make a cornmeal crumble topper with the same spices and a bit of oil.

I forgot the cornmeal and used oatmeal instead.
Don't do that. Stick with the cornmeal.
Trust me on this one!
Bake for about an hour at 350. Sooo easy!

Also, FYI, Sweet Potatoes are one of the most nutritious veggies you can eat. See this link:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Homage to Black Sheep

Okay, I guess I am a fan girl of The Black Sheep restaurant on 901 W. Marshall Street. While they are in nooooo way a vegetarian restaurant, they do cater to veggie lovers in delightfully tasty ways. More than just having decent dishes for us Vegans to savor, they are all about local and seasonal, and unique ways of preparing their dishes. They only have at most, 15 tables, so you will often find at least five groups waiting around outside the restaurant that are hungry, and this time of the year, quite cold! Sometimes they will open up the back patio and serve mimosas to waiting brunch patrons on the weekends, and mostly in the warmer months.

Thursday I went here for a work lunch. Behold the Nuts and Berries Salad:
Nuts and Berries Salad from Black Sheep
(like seriously six different local leaf veggies, butternut squash,
fried parsnips, walnuts and a cranberry vinaigrette) OMG good!!!!

The cool thing about eating out and about at this, or any number of fantastic Richmond resturants, is the ability to snag recipies for personal use! One of my personal brunch staples was straight up snagged from the Black Sheep's winter breakfast menu. I present to you, the gloriously delicious and nutritious, Red Flannel Hash! (plays fanfare music)

potato, red beet, yellow beet, carrot, and red pepper combined
to make amazing delicious Red Flannel Hash!

diced veggies for the hash in the pan
Mmmm, beet-y-ness!
Cover the veggies with water and cook till all the water is gone.
Then add some oil, salt pepper and parsley and cook till slightly mashable with the spatula.
Serve with fruit! Yum!
As if I needed to convince you further about my love for the Black Sheep, I must confess that when my mom came up this Sunday for a rare visit to the big city, I had to take her here for brunch! Oh Battleship, oh! They are not sub sandwiches, they are Battleships! You can take a peak at their online menu, see: USS Wyoming, and imagine a full sized 22 in sandwich! Nom... nom, nom nom!

Also, my mom is a total rockstar:

My Mom is AWESOME!
In closing, Black Sheep, I <3 you!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New York: Pickles, Rice Mush and Shopping, Oh My!

As many of you may know, I headed up into the great north for a bit of rest and relaxation in New York City. Ha! No, actually I "had" to go up for work. While there, I of course, dined to my heart's content... and did a bit of shopping.

First New York meal was at a great restaurant called Congee Village on the outskirts of Chinatown, or the Bowery, or what is also commonly referred to as the Lower East Side... or in my case, referred to as "next to the Tenement Museum" (Jeeze, they got a lot of names for this place!).

Congee, better described as overcooked rice.
If you too are wondering "just what exactly is congee?", I now have an answer for you! It's basically rice cooked to mush and then referred to as a porridge. I did not eat the congee. Sorry.

Table of pea shoots
I did include some of the photos of the yummy nomz I, and my coworkers did stuff our faces with at this fine establishment!
Classy, right?
Pea Shoots and then
Tofu and Mushrooms

Then a shout out to The Pickle Guys. I brought my mom home two pints, and, well basically I am the best daughter in the whole world.

Here is a quote from their "About Me" section:

My name is Alan Kaufman and I have a gourmet Pickle Store on the Lower East Side. As far back as 1910 there have always been numerous pickle stores on Essex Street. Today we are the only pickle store that exists on Essex Street.
I make my pickles from an old Eastern European recipe “Just the way mom use to make them”. This is a barrel cured pickle. The pickles are made by letting them sit in salt brine with garlic, spices, and no preservatives. 
REAL kosher pickles!

Dinner in Little Italy... They heckle you and offer free wine. kinda weird.

Ha! Faux food with cockroach! Adorable!
Go to the Merchant's House Museum if you are ever in NYC.
You won't regret it... that is, assuming you are like me and awesome, of course.
Shopping with hipsters at the
Williamsburg Flea in Brooklyn

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Because dinner was frozen potstickers...

Yes, it's true! Last night's dinner consisted of a (ugh) microwaved bag of frozen veggie potstickers, gleefully dredged in the tamari, sugar and rice vinegar "sauce" included in the bag. This lead to the penning of a remorseful "Dear John" letter to MSG:

Dear Mon-y G.,

I'm just going to say this bluntly. What we had last night was a fling. It's over now, and while I am not saying we will never get together and do that thing we do again, I am saying this was a momentary lapse of judgment on my part. Yes, I did mean it when I said "no one gets to my umami like you", but that doesn't mean what we have is healthy. I just can't do this all the time. I hope you understand.

It's me, not you,


Aaannnnddd, I'm back...

Tomorrow I head north, to a very frigid New York City, where I fully intend to indulge in copious amount of vegan yum. I will be sure to blog my trek. I will also be satiating my not-so-inner-history geek, as the purpose of the trip is an exploratory mission to gain knowledge of the inner workings of both the Tenement Museum and the Merchant's House Museum (that and shopping).

For the interim, I leave you with a bit of relatable humor, via the Defensive Omnivore Bingo. Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beets and Broccoli

Today was supposed to be mild, weather wise. It was not. But the day's chill was tempered with visit to the Urban Farmhouse Market in Shockoe Slip.

lunch: Behold a nutritious, delicious plate of yum!
Beet salad with orange, fennel and mint

Dinner was based on an amazing meal from last Friday's date night at Edo's Squid (Following a lovely evening strolling around downtown for First Friday Art Walk <3 ). The key to nailing Edo's recipe is to add quadruple the amount of garlic and olive oil that you normally would to your average pasta dish. The result is pure Italian scrumptious-ness!

Home version of Edo Squid's Broccoli Rabe
Because this is such a mundane blog, here is a fun video about a vegan zombie slayer making Daiya cheeze sticks. :-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday Dinner: Roasted Moroccan Stew

Roasted Moroccan Stew with Currant and Pinenut Couscous.

I have so much to say about this recipe! I'll start with how I decided to make this dish. It all started with this website: What the Fuck Should I Make for Dinner?  Test it out for your self. There is a phone app too! LOVE!!! Not only is anything that has the word "fuck" an entertaining site (see The Fucking Weather if you need further proof of the profound manner in which the word adds a dramatic sense of humor and flair to an otherwise vanilla website)  but it provides a way to stretch your cooking imagination, step out of the ordinary and, well, try something new. 

So after my phone decided what I would make for dinner on Saturday, I was off to the grocery store, accompanied by my Moroccan roommate. Reciting the ingredients and recipe to her, I was informed that this evening's dish would be "Americanized Moroccan" food, and not what we would find in her country. I'm flexible, I have no problem editing recipes to make them my own, or in this case, more authentic.

This meal is also the first time I set up the video camera to record me cooking. UGH! Some people are petrified of clowns. I am petrified of being recorded. Baby steps, Jen, baby steps! So this, the first recording of me cooking will never see the light of this blog.  But I am posting some pictures to make up for it :)

I chop so fast that I make everything blurry!

Flat leaf parsley garnish, and my awesome Sailor Jerry skull shoes :-)
Here is the edited recipe I originally got from the WTFSIMFD site, but edited to work for me.

Roasted Moroccan Stew:

They said it would take and hour. They lied. This takes a good solid two hours (I have no idea where they came up with an hour, since the listed cooking times total more than an hour without any of the prep work!).

  • A little olive oil
  • 2 Shallots, in 1-inch chunks
  • ½ pound carrots 
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 medium-sized garlic bulb
  • 6  tomatoes
  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • cinnamon stick
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (1 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (possibly more) freshly ground black pepper


  • Minced fresh parsley
  • Squeezable wedges of lemon


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two large baking trays with foil, and brush them with olive oil. Scatter the onions, sweet potato and carrots onto one tray, drizzle them with extra oil, and sprinkle with paprika, mustard seeds, and a little salt and a cinnamon stick. Place the garlic bulb on one corner of the tray.
Core the tomatoes, and arrange them on the second tray with the bell peppers and a cinnamon stick.
Place the first tray on the lower rack in the oven, and the second tray on the upper rack. Bake the shallots, carrots, etc., for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring a few times, until the carrots are just tender. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside to cool.
Bake the tomatoes and peppers for about 45 minutes, turning the peppers with tongs every 10 minutes or so, so they blister evenly. (You don’t have to turn the tomatoes.) Transfer everything to a large, heatproof bowl. Cover the bowl with foil or a plate, and let stand for about 30 minutes.
Carefully lift out the peppers, leaving as much of their liquid in the bowl as possible, and remove their seeds, and stems.  Cut the peppers into pieces and return them to the bowl.
Then lift out the tomatoes, and pull off and discard the skins. Chop the pulp, and return it to the bowl. Fish out and discard the cinnamon stick.
When they are cool enough to handle, separate all the roasted garlic cloves, and squeeze the pulp into the bowlful of peppers and tomatoes. Scrape in the shallots and carrots (including all the paprika and mustard seeds), and stir in the chickpeas and lemon juice.
Taste to adjust the salt and lemon juice, and grind in some black pepper. Mix well.
Cover the bowl, and heat the stew in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or in a pot on the stove top for 10 minutes.
Serve hot, with couscous, and garnished with minced parsley and wedges of lemon, if desired.

Roasted Moroccan Stew with Couscous

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Country Style Donuts, FTW!

There is a little place in the East End of Richmond known as Country Style Donuts. In this haven of baby blue formica and chrome, one can find the most decadent, delicious, and utterly debaucherous vegan donuts known to man!

This is one of those happy accidents where the recipe just doesn't call for any sort of dairy products. Of course, stay clear of cream filled varieties, but all in all, vegan. I think I heard Vegan squeeing all over our fair city!

Glazed, powdered, and maple oh my!

So, in closing, GOOD MORNING TO ME (and my co-workers)!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Huh, so the DoA actually gives us props! Nifty.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, unveiled January 31, 2011, take a major leap forward, highlighting the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets. The Dietary Guidelines --issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services every five years -- are the blueprint for all federal nutrition programs, including school meals.
The new guidelines sing the praises of plant-based diets: "Vegetarian-style eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes -- lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower total mortality. Several clinical trials have documented that vegetarian eating patterns lower blood pressure."
The guidelines then devote two full pages to vegetarian and vegan nutrition, showing exactly how to pull a healthy diet together. Vegetarian diets may include dairy products and eggs, while vegan diets avoid all animal products and are associated with the lowest risk of overweight and diabetes.
The new guidelines resonate partially with PCRM's own nutrition recommendations, represented graphically in The Power Plate, and presenting whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes as dietary staples.
The guidelines are far from perfect, however. Like previous versions, they speak in "code." That is, they specifically name foods to eat more of (e.g. fruits and vegetables). But when it comes to foods people need to eat less of (e.g. meat and cheese), the guidelines use biochemical terms instead of listing specific foods, apparently out of fear of upsetting food producers. That is, the guidelines call for limiting "cholesterol" and "saturated fat."
Similarly, while dairy products account for more than 30 percent of the saturated ("bad") fat in the American diet, the Dietary Guidelines disguise this fat by splitting dairy products into many categories, including cheese (8.5 percent), butter (2.9 percent), whole milk (3.4 percent), reduced-fat milk (3.9 percent), dairy desserts (5.6 percent), and pizza (5.9 percent), so their contribution to ill health is harder to see.
The new guidelines also continue to give undue emphasis to dairy products, downplaying more healthful sources of calcium, such as green leafy vegetables and beans. This, despite studies clearly showing that children who get calcium from foods other than dairy products have totally normal bone development and other studies showing that older adults who drink milk have no protection from osteoporosis-related fractures.
Despite these signs that food politics continue to work their mischief in the Dietary Guidelines, the current iteration is the best yet, giving plant-based nutrition a place of well-deserved prominence.

Spice: It's okay, it's good for you!

I have been know to over indulge in spice on occasion. Alas! Those who have regularly eaten my cooking quickly work there way up the chili chart at the local Thai restaurant from medium to Thai hot pretty quick! My usual response to dinners that have just sucked down their third glass of water in as many bites of dinner is, "don't worry, it's healthy, the more you sweat the better! Plus look at all that water you drank! You'll have no trouble drinking your eight glasses today!". Really, though, I feel bad I went too heavy handed on the spice (cayenne is my undoing), but there is an element of truth in my words. Spicy foods are very benificial in a wide array of areas.

I'll focus on the infamous chili pepper for the time being, as I want to lay down the benefits of capsacin, the naturally occurring miracle chemical compound that makes peppers hot.

Capsacin can be used as:
  • an anti-fungal
  • an anti-microbial
  • a topical analgesic
  • a temporary relief of minor aches and pains of muscles and joints
  • a way to treat psoriasis
  • a way to regulate blood sugar levels
  • has been shown to kill prostate cancer cells
  • inhibits the growth of leukemic cells
  • reduces pain resulted rheumatoid arthritis as well as joint or muscle pain from fibromyalgia
  • there is some evidence that capsaicin may help treat heartburn and circulatory problems such as heart disease from atherosclerosis or plaque that block the arteries to the heart.
  • may also help in reducing risks of arrhythmia.
  • is also a great natural expectorant and can be used to clear the lungs of mucus.
So eat spicy, drink water, drink almond milk, drink a sugar water solution (helps as well as milk), and do it for your health!