Vol II: Things that made me happy this week

I’m sticking with my series dedicated to little gems of what made me happy during the week. I found myself trying to stick mental post-it notes throughout the last few days in an effort to list them in this entry. We’ll see how I did…

Parks & Rec – Season 7 – now available on Netflix
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Doesn’t anything else need to be said? Frankly, no. What a freakin’ great show.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Look at that massive pile of sauce (there is tofu underneath there, I promise). Inspired to spend multiple hours in the kitchen last Sunday, I decided to make homemade BBQ sauce for the first time. Following the recipe below from Veganomicon, I whipped up this spicy, sweet, sultry mass of goodness. I was scraping down the pan so I could get all of it!

 

Backyard BBQ Sauce
Makes about 4 cups
Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped as finely as you can
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-once) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup molasses (I substituted maple syrup)
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I used agave nectar)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard (Dijon works too)
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Directions:
Preheat a saucepan over medium heat. lace the onions in the pan and saute in oil until browned (about 7 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add all the other ingredients except the mustard and liquid smoke, and cook for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat if the sauce begins to splatter everywhere. Add the mustard and liquid smoke, and taste for sweetness/sourness. Adjust the flavors if you think it’s necessary, and cook for 5 more minutes. If you like a smooth BBQ sauce, then puree it, but that’s not entirely necessary.

First race of the season

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Sponsored by the Trailheads, the Little River Trail Run on January 16 turned out to be one the most beautiful mornings imaginable. While I still have yet to purchase actual trail shoes, I have fallen in love with trail running over the last year. Thanks to friends who open up my eyes to new places in our region, I have found such joy in romping through the woods, having to flex mental strength to pay attention and not wipe out over a root/rock/you name it.

We took on the challenging 10 mile course (although, per all of our GPS devices, it was closer to 9.5 miles total). The two days of raining prior to race day made the section near the river a scene from a Tough Mudder – people sliding, slipping, and splattering as we scrambled up and down the hilly trail.

I ended up finishing 10th in my age division with a time of 1:41:46 (10:11/mile), which is beyond expectations. I had ZERO goals in terms of timing. My only self-directive was to NOT GET HURT. I did fall – once – in the most graceful fashion I could manage, popping back up immediately and continuing forward. One of the best surprises of the race was running into (no pun intended) another friend who I ended up pacing with the last four miles for the course. That’s why I love running so much – building connections with others in this shared desire of achievement, of fulfillment, of success.

Double-date nights

Despite a disappointment experience at the newish Vegan Flava Cafe (you can read my Yelp review here), it was such a blast to go out with our friends Jon and Michelle. Who goes on double dates anymore?! We had the pleasure of taking on the 2 x 2 challenge before the holidays with another set of awesome friends Chelsea & Nic, more by accident than by intent.

The double-date needs to be a come back in 2016. While I love large gatherings, I find such fulfillment from these more intimate encounters. Despite the dining adventure not working out well, we all gave thumbs up to Bottle 501, another bottle shop/bar. Good vibe AND good prices – not always an easily-found combo.

#SOTU

Love it or hate it, Twitter has changed the game when it comes to national events including the State of the Union. I was glued more to my phone than to the actual television. The commentary, especially that made via the gif, was too good to not watch. The actual State of the Union speech was pretty good too. You can read the full transcript here. Here are a few of the highlights for me:

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, different regions, different attitudes, different interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, fiercely, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t — it doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, it doesn’t work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America.

Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise or when even basic facts are contested or when we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention. And most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest

and, of course, #ActOnClimate talk:

Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.

The “mad at me” game and a new vegan recipe

Happy Friday, y’all.

The first full week back to work is never easy after extended time off. A brief interlude to the coast to start this week left me feeling like I never was quite able to find my routine, which I allowed myself to accept. The absence of usual evening meetings and social gatherings was a nice respite, and at the same time, I have missed connecting in person to the folks who comprise my awesome community.

Question

Do you suffer from the self-induced guilt game that I will refer to as “MAM” short for “mad at me”? I do. Suffer might be too strong of a descriptor because it is completely self-induced.

Case study: As I was packing up my belongings today, I recalled that I had not heard back from someone I had reached out to in the morning, asking if they would be able to get together next week. Almost immediately I heard my inner voice say: “Oh no! What if this person is mad at me? Is there something I did or didn’t do?” I could feel my brain going into processing overdrive, attempting to identify where I went wrong.

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WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. While I would rather blame this reaction on being a Millennial or an only child or a product of a instantaneous gratification culture, it resides much deeper than that. This is simply one example of this self-doubt that I often struggle with in my personal and professional relationships. I’m sure Aaron can count numerous times where I have asked him point blank: “Are you mad at me?”

There have been times where my gut feeling – whether with friends or colleagues – has been correct. Outside of a few individuals in my life blowing up at me (the not-so-subtle answer to my inner question), most folks don’t want or can’t own up when their upset at someone else. I consider myself among the camp, in some respect.

As part of my ongoing development as a human being, I am working to quiet the reactive voice of blame and do an environmental scan (you better believe I just dropped it) on whether there is merit to such a feeling. Nine times out of 10, there won’t be. And, what I need to do is to learn to dismiss those unfounded fears quickly rather than allow them to consume precious energy I could be applying towards – you know – changing the world and stuff.

On the flip side, this type of behavioral change also demands that I do my part in being open, honest, and transparent when I have felt wronged in a situation. I know that I’m not alone in this MAM affliction. So, I need to “own it” when there are feelings of discontent and work to address the situation. Festering is both a disgusting-sounding word and a detriment to relationships and productivity.

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Shifting gears:

52

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I picked up Food52‘s vegan cookbook while perusing at Parker & Otis. I had seen recipes from Food52 before, but I did not know that it had an entire section of vegan recipes at the ready.

This is one of the most visually beautiful cookbooks I have encountered. This week I broke into my first recipe, one that was more familiar but had a few new twists: lentil sloppy joes. I finished the rest of the dish for my lunch today, and it was just as delicious five days after first cooking it. The first night we used torta rolls we picked up at Costco to hold the messy goodness. Another night, I toasted some Ezekial bread and used some vegan cream cheese –mmmmm! Creamy goodness. I will say – I do prefer the PPK “Snobby Joe” recipe that I blogged about previously. Still, this is a nice variation on a comfort dish the whole family, vegan or not, will love.

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes
(via Food 52’s blog)

Author Notes: Easy, filling, and inexpensive, this is the only vegan sloppy Joe recipe you’ll ever need. —Gena Hamshaw

Serves 6

  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for a few hours (or overnight) and rinsed
  • 2 to 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 to 1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder, dried
  • One 15-ounce can crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (adjust according to taste; how much is needed will also depend on the tomatoes and tomato paste you use)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (or more as needed)
  • 6 sprouted grain buns
  • Toppings of choice (Tabasco sauce, sriracha, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, coleslaw, avocado slices, etc.)
  1. Place lentils in a large pot, and cover with water (enough so that there’s at least a full inch or two of water above the lentils). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are chewable, but still have some firmness to them. Drain them and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper, and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, chili, paprika, and mustard, and continue cooking for another minute or two, until the garlic is quite fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar or maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add more broth as needed. Simmer until the mixture has thickened to your liking, about 15 to 20 minutes (I like thick sloppy joes, but if you like ’em sloppier, that’s fine, too!).
  4. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Divide sloppy joes onto the buns and top with toppings of choice, including some Tabasco or sriracha for heat, if desired. Serve.

Facets of friendship

With the advent of Facebook and other forms of online “community” building, has the role of “friend” become less important? Or more? And what does “friend” mean to each of us in a world where we can seek advice from an anonymous blogger, a stranger on Twitter, a Yelp reviewer, etc.?

Arguably, we’re likely not going to be inquiring for those deeply personal questions where knowing part of our own history and context is required (or are we?)

Why am I rambling about friendship? A couple of days ago, I was asked via Google chat if I was friends with a particular individual.

I didn’t know how to answer the question.

It has caused me to stop and reflect on how I define friendship. Where do I draw the line in the sand between companions and acquaintances? Former colleagues or extensions of a broader network?

I don’t mean to sound callous in my approach of friendship. The idea of a friend has always been so important to me. Part of it likely extends from growing up an only child. I needed friends (outside of the stuffed animal kingdom) and I wanted friends.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t always a nice friend.

Let’s not get carried away – I certainly was not part of any popular crowd. Like most though, I wanted to be. And I played along with the cattiness, the teasing, the cold execution of cruelty that girls from privileged backgrounds espouse.

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This is where it all began. Just look at that sneer! (3rd from left)

There reached a point in my life where I didn’t know how to make friends. Have you experienced that? For me, it was after my two years with Teach For America. I moved to the Triangle, was in a relationship that would soon end, and was floundering for girlfriend time. I worked. I spent time with my partner. Separated from the university and ‘young people’ organizations, I didn’t know how this transition to adult friendships worked. My current job brought me in contact with a couple of wonderful people that I proudly call friends today. Still, I desired that group of girlfriends who would be there, no matter what.

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Thanks to greater cosmic forces at work, I was able to find this group. And, it all started on the Internet.

First, it came through a meetup.com group. While now (I believe) defunct, the 20s/30s/40s Gal Pals not only brought many amazing women into my life but also solidified the role that the online world has in broadening my offline community.

11212780_10103874960495002_3124558656941241986_nBrunches, beers, and book clubs brought us together

And then came Twitter. I joined in October 2010 after some cajoling from the person I was dating. The username (similar to the URL of this blog) took me awhile I conjure up. It has always grated my nerves when people spell my name incorrectly. I know, I know – honest mistakes. But seriously – “it’s no y in Katie”. #justsaying

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So my Twitter usage spun into the world of craft beer, opening doors that have allowed me to meet and befriend dozens more incredibly smart, compassionate, and giving people.

It seemed that once I had my self-prescribed safety net, it was easier to develop relationships that didn’t stem from online interactions. From the YMCA community to YNPN Triangle NC to simply living, friendships were born. I would much rather err on the side of over-labeling people as friends than under.

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To me, identifying someone as a friend isn’t a one-way expectation. If I consider you a friend, it is my duty to be there for you in whatever capacity you need from me. It’s a commitment to supporting your journey through this world – whether through listening, laughing, breaking bread together, or simply offering a word of encouragement.

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I want my friends to know that I don’t take their kindness for granted. As our lives change and our attentions shift to children, to careers, to marriages, or to new places to call home, those bonds of friendship are tugged, sometimes stretching further than is comfortable. But, if there is commitment, those types of bonds don’t break.

37886_899966941972_3044128_nRecently, my mother had coffee with one of my childhood best friends. She was able to connect with her in ways that I can’t (yet): what it means to be a mother and the responsibilities of working full-time, remaining a dedicated partner, etc.

At this point in my life, I can’t understand that world. I don’t live it. But, that doesn’t close the door on my relationship with Dani simply because our day-to-day realities are vastly different. We built a rock of memories together, and keeping those memories alive is a core tenet of friendship.

To summarize, the term friendship (like many other words in our current society) can be vastly overused. It also can be underused in action. We need to keep in mind how the people we choose to define as our friends want support. And then we step up to the plate and give, give, give.

As Winston Churchill said: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

I close with a smattering of some of the incredible people in this world and, lucky for me, in my life.

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Memories of tuna melts reborn

Confession: I loved me some tuna sandwiches growing up. Cracking open the can of Albacore, smashing in mayo (shifting to yogurt as I grew older), garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and pickles. Piling up this goodness in between two slices of freshly toasted bread.

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And then, I took it up one notch: the tuna melt. A slice of Muenster or Provolone, swaddling that tuna surprise for a successful plate to mouth interaction. Crunch.

In the pursuit of veganism, I had not yet come across a recipe that evoked the same flavors (and nostalgia) of those original tuna sammys.Chickpeas were part of the equation, and I had enjoyed several varieties of chickpea salad sandwiches on wraps and over greens. Flipping through my Isa Does It cookbook, I came across the Chicky “Tuna” Salad recipe, and lo and behold, this was exactly what I was desiring:

tunarecipe
Dulse flakes? This was new territory for me. As I scoured the international shelf at Whole Foods, I stumbled across several “vegetables of the sea” – all of which had odors reminding me of the aquarium section at a pet store. I did pick up a back of Dulse flakes because I really wanted that fishy quality for this particular dish. How else could I capture the tuna-esque aroma?

chicky saladMmmmm…flaky Dulse goodness.

Chicky ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwiches
Makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1 ½ cups)
1 large carrot, peeled
1 rib celery, leaves removed
ÂĽ medium white onion
½ cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup vegan mayo
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon kelp or dulse flakes (optional)
ÂĽ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted
Lettuce, sliced tomato and/or sprouts for topping (optional)

Preparation:
You have a couple of options. You can make this up in a food processor or by hand. I opted for the food processor:

Cut the carrot and celery into a few large chunks (5 or so). Add them to the food processor, along with the onion. Pulse until everything is chopped, but be careful not to puree. The veggies should range from pea-size to chickpea-size, more or less. Transfer to a large bowl, scraping the work bowl with a rubber spatula to get as much out as you can, but it doesn’t have to get totally clean.

Pulse the chickpeas and sunflower seeds in the food processor to mash them. They should remain somewhat chunky, with bits of whole chickpea left, not pureed like hummus. Transfer to the bowl and combine with veggies.

Add the mayo, vinegar, seaweed flakes (if desired), salt, and pepper, and mix well.

By hand preparation:
Use a mini potato masher or a strong fork to mash the chickpeas in a large bowl. They should retain some of their texture and not appear pureed. On a cutting board, finely chop the carrot, celery and onion into just about pea-size pieces. Add the veggies to the mashed chickpeas and mix until combined.

Spread the sunflower seeds in a single layer on the cutting board and chop roughly. Add them to the bowl.

Add the mayo, vinegar, seaweed flakes (if desired), salt and pepper, and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Use to make sandwiches with the bread, including optional toppings as desired.

Enjoy!

A twist on a classic Irish dish

Move over corned beef and cabbage, there’s a new addition to the March 17 menu. And this one hails from South of the Border.

PPKpiePhoto courtesy of Post-Punk Kitchen

Because by now you should know that my photos do not look anywhere near as mouth-watering as those. It is on my list to take a photography class, and now I see one of our local kitchen supply stores (Whisk) is offering a food photography class. This might need to be on my to-do list.

Back to the meal: this particular recipe falls under the Sunday Supper section in Isa Does It as it is a little more labor intensive than the weeknight stir-fry/salad/sandwich/broiled tofu concoction. With that said, it was worth every minute. And, it made 8 servings, so I was finishing this up five days later. And: it was still as good.

Tamale InnardsFiesta!

I have always had a soft spot for Shepherd’s Pie. My roots do trace back to an Irish clan (the O’Connells), and the women in our family seem to resemble Irish potatoes as we age, so it seems appropriate to prepare one of my homeland’s classics. Although, as I learned doing three minutes of research on Wikipedia, this dish was initially called Cottage Pie (1791) when the potato was first introduced as the crop to eat…if you were poor. Essentially, the “recipe” called for whatever meat you had left over, and then throwing potatoes on it. It evolve into Shepherd’s Pie in 1877 when the main meat used was lamb – not beef.

The “meat” used in this dish requires no shepherd – except your arm holding a fork and bringing this food to your mouth. The combination of beans, poblano chili, onion, tomato, mushrooms, corn, and tortilla chips (plus all those amazing spices) has such a complex and rich flavor. And thne, it’s topped with LIME-infused red potatoes. The lime flavor is subtle but noticeable and draws this entire dish together. Oh! I can’t wait to make this again. Add it to your Sunday meal planning! St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Time for Katie’s terrible photography skills:

sp1Always know – it tastes better than I could ever capture on my cell phone

From my ancestors to you, Éirinn go Brách! [Ireland forever]

Tamale Shepherd’s Pie
Post-Punk Kitchen (Isa)

Serves 8
Time: 1 hour || Active time: 30 minutes

For the mashed potato layer:
2 1/2 lbs unpeeled red potatoes, cut into big chunks (1 1/2 inches or so)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant teaspoon grated lime zest
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

For the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra)
1 onion, diced medium
1 poblano pepper, seeded, diced medium
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, cut in half and sliced 1/4 inch thick or so
1 cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped
1 1/4 lbs plum tomatoes (about 6), chopped
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ounces tortilla chips (about 4 good-sized handfuls)
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Frank’s red hot hot sauce (plus extra for serving)
3 cups cooked black beans (2 15 oz cans rinsed and drained)

Place potatoes in a pot and submerge in salted water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Drain potatoes and immediately transfer them back into the pot. It’s important to do this while everything is still hot. Give them a quick preliminary mash, then add the milk, olive oil, lime zest and salt. Mash until creamy, taste for salt, then cover and set aside. (Note: I usually add black pepper, but decided not to here so that the lime really shines through. If you feel naked without it, though, go ahead and add some.)

To prepare the stew:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil and a pinch of salt, until peppers are softened, about 10 minutes. In the meantime prep all your other ingredients.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add mushrooms and cilantro and cook until the mushrooms have released a lot of moisture, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, wine, salt, cumin and red pepper flakes. Turn heat up and cover the pan, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes. The tomatoes should break down and become saucy (if corn was frozen it may take a bit longer.)

Now take the tortilla chips and crush them into fine crumbs with your hands. It’s ok if there are a few bigger pieces, but aim for crumbs. Add them to the stew and mix well. Since tortillas can be salty, wait until they’re added to taste for salt. Mix in the lime juice and hot sauce, then fold in the black beans and heat through. Now taste for salt and seasonings.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a deep 11Ă—13 casserole (cooking spray works just fine). Transfer the stew to the casserole and even it out with a spatula. Add the potatoes in dollops, and spread it into an even layer.

Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned. Stick under the broiler for a minute or two just in case the browning isn’t happening. Serve hot garnished with cilantro, chili peppers and lime.

Photo from Post-Punk Kitchen

Six things I am crushing on this week

To start with a bit of cruel irony: after noting in my post yesterday that I had yet to succumb to slipping on ice during any training runs, I was four-tenths of a mile into my 8 mile run and…you guessed it:

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I ate it. Luckily, I performed the classic Hollywood fall of my legs flying up in the air and landing on my butt.

After a quick curse word and a double-check of all limbs, I proceeded on to knock out the remaining 7.6 miles amid much more ice. It was a very jilted run in regards to my route – a lot of U-turns. And, sadly, this morning’s freezing rain will be pushing my run today to…this afternoon? To the “wish I could” history books? It’s March. It’s time for spring.

I feel compelled to touch on a variety of topics this morning, so I have opted for the infamous list post in order to fulfill my own whims. From literature to legumes, here are six things I am crushing on this week:

#1: Chickpea cutlets from Post Punk Kitchen

chickpea cutletsLike mini-chickpea burgers of love

In need of something meaty, crunchy, and delicious? These cutlets – with their hint of lemon – will rock your world. They are easy to make and require few ingredients: chickpeas (duh), wheat gluten, bread crumbs (I use Panko), some thyme/paprika/garlic/sage, a little lemon zest, soy sauce, olive oil – BOOM! You have a chewy plant-based steak. I have fried them both times (it’s all about that crunchy, baby), but baking the cutlets in the oven is an option as well. You can find the recipe here.

#2: Hot jams: Ibeyi, “Ibeyi”

ibeyiPhoto via NPR’s All Songs Considered blog

Twin sisters Lisa-KaindĂ© Diaz and Naomi Diaz first blew my musical mind on NPR’s First Listen with then soon-to-be-released album Ibeyi. Their playful, sensual, and haunting French-Cuban ballads are enhancing and evocative. I immediately pre-ordered the album, which is NOW available for your listening pleasure! Right now, I have “Ghosts” on repeat, which is the third track.

#3: Sold – Patricia McCormicksoldPublished back in 2006, this novel explores the horrific world of child trafficking, in particular from Nepal to India. Through the eyes of Lakshmi, a 13-year old Nepalese girl, we journey with her as she is sold into the sex industry by her stepfather as his gambling habits have netted the family a debt they can no longer pay with their crops. It’s written in almost a verse format – short bursts of text tracing Lakshmi’s experience, her naivete, and her realization of her new reality. The novel is raw and unapologetic in telling her story – as is the story of thousands of young women in this part of the world. I highly recommend reading it, as it will educate and anger the reader (well, it did me). This was in my 2015 reading stack, and it was one I had difficulty putting down.

#4: Another glorious Costco find – red lentil pasta!

RotiniOh Costco – you did it again! Chocked full of protein and fiber, this red lentil pasta proved to be an excellent substitute to the standard durum flour variety. It doesn’t boast any overpowering flavor. We topped the noodles with a marinara sauce one night and a peanut/ginger curry a few nights later. Great texture and very filling.

#5:  Dreaming of house decorating

After abandoning Pinterest for the last month or two, I jumped back in headfirst on a quest to find barn doors. When Aaron first mentioned these as an idea to close off our dining room, I was a little on the fence. Barn doors? This coming from the woman who had burlap a plenty at her wedding, I know. But, I am now 150% on the hunt for a barn door-esque look for our dining room. Here are some that I have just fallen in love with:

barndoor4I also love the fact La Croix is in this photo

barndoor3Likely no animal head behind our future door…

barndoor2Does the dog come with the door?

barndoor1It just screams GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN

#6: The powerful medium that is Twitter

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Yes, tweeting road conditions in the Triangle may earn you five seconds of fame too. Twitter – from questioning dress colors (which I honestly did not follow nor care to follow) to breaking international news to chronicling a llama escape – this social media platform continues to amaze and bewilder me.

Alright, those are six things that I am sharing with you. Would you be kind enough to share something YOU are crushing on with me?

Day 29 of vegan recipe challege: 3 things to try

Who doesn’t like a round up blog post? It’s the cheat for promoting great ideas/content without actually creating much of said ideas/content. Call it the Upworthy or Buzzfeed creed. Without further ado:

1) Last Sunday, I held my inaugural “Cooking with Friends” adventure centered around a vegan staple: tofu. One of the most highly acclaimed dishes came from none other than everyone’s favorite crafter-gone-money-launderer Martha Stewart.

broiled tofuAfter broiling this tofu, make a wreath!

The recipe (found here) is ridiculously easy. The soy lemon pepper dipping sauce was a nice, punchy touch, and would make a great marinade or dipping sauce in other dishes, for sure.

2) This past Monday was Chipotle’s much publicized sofritas special. If you purchased a bowl/burrito/taco with sofritas on that day, you would be able to score a free bowl/burrito/tacos using your receipt on another visit. Alas, we were not able to partake due to time and finances (and the fact that we have a silly amount of food in our house). BUT – we did taste the sofritas a couple of Saturdays ago: I did a bowl with black beans, pico, and lettuce while Aaron took his in taco form topped with black beans and the corn salsa. The verdict: quite tasty with some nice heat. What a gesture to have another protein option outside of the bean staple in the takeout realm.

sofritasThanks Chipootle for bringing tofu to the hipsters

3) I still have yet to post about my (now TWO) sushi roll making adventures. If you’re in the market to get your nori on, the BambooMN brand is the set my friend Chelsea recommended to me, and I shall pass it on as well.:

sushikitKeep it rollin’

Even better, the price for the set is under $8.

Speaking of sushi, a new restaurant opened in downtown Durham this week. Basan brings more new life into the American Tobacco section of the Dirty D with a menu that boasts some pretty fabulous looking veggie sushi. For example:

Bonsai

Avocado, broccoli, carrot, asparagus, tempura green beans, wrapped with soy paper and cucumber, soy salsa on top

Garden

Frisee, tomato, avocado, cucumber inside, roasted pepper, chive on top, whole grain mustard dressing

This has been added to our restaurant must-hit list.

QUESTION TIME:

Alright vegans and non-vegans alike, are you a fan of sushi? If so, what are the ingredients you like to find in your roll?