October, 2014

  1. San Francisco, CA

    October 31, 2014 by Angie

    Our big vacation this year was to San Francisco and California Wine Country. It was wonderful!

    It’s going to be a long post so here is a Golden Gate Bridge photo to hold you over.

    Golden Gate Bride

     It’s such a fine bridge.

    We flew into San Francisco on Saturday evening and took a taxi to our very nice hotel, the Galleria Park Hotel. They didn’t have the room we reserved back in March and, for once, it worked out in our favor. They upgraded us to the nicest suite in the hotel for free!

    dining table

    A fireplace, a dining table ,and TV #2!

    sofa

    A living room!

    Despite Charlotte airport nachos and a mid-flight cheese plate, we needed dinner. We walked through the outskirts of Chinatown to Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant on Kearney, a totally vegan Chinese restaurant. We had steamed vegetable dumplings for our appetizer, which was my favorite of the three things we ordered. I got basil soy chicken and vegetables and Robbie got BBQ pork and veggie ham fried rice. The food was good but not on par with similar dishes from similar restaurants we’ve tried in other cities. (Shout out to Chinese Buddha in Atlanta!)

    chopsticks fear and dumplings

    Steamed vegetable dumplings and fear personified as Robbie realized there were no forks on the table.

    basil soy chicken

    Basil soy chicken, napa cabbage, etc.

    BBQ pork and veggie ham fried rice

    The house special fried rice with fake BBQ pork and ham.

    After getting dressed up in our swanky suite, we walked to The View, one of the bars/restaurants inside the Marriott on Mission Street. It really lives up to its name, however, my photos don’t. We could see so much of the city and all the way to the bay. The bar is worth visiting for the View alone but the drinks were really good too. We both loved our drinks: Robbie got an old-fashioned and I had an awesome sparkling wine/St. Germaine,/fresh berries concoction. And keeping with the free theme, our second round was on the house!

    The View

    Imagine a breathtaking view of the city, the bridge, and the bay. Or go see it on their website.

    We were up pretty early (5:00 am early) the next day. And everyday. We never adjusted to the time change. So after being hungry for a few hours, Robbie went next door to Bread and Cocoa and picked up some breakfast for us. We ate it at our dining table in our big suite watching CNN on the second TV. I don’t usually drink any kind of coffee but I fell in love with that latte.

    Bread and Cocoa/Galleria Park Hotel

    Bread and Cocoa next door to Galleria Park Hotel

    Here is a photo of a trolley I saw while I was waiting for the rental car company outside of our hotel.

    Trolley car

    We drove north out of the city in our rented Toyota Corolla. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge was quite impressive.

    driving over the Golden Gate Bridge

     Driving north on the Golden Gate Bridge

    This bridge really is spectacular. We stopped on the other side at the Vista Point and took photos with all of the other tourists. 10/10 would photograph again.

    Robgeleen at Vista Point

     A kind, fellow tourist took our photo for us.

    tourist party

    Our outdoor adventure for this trip was a walk through the Muir Woods National Monument. I really really wanted to see redwoods and I was not disappointed! We even saw a bonus chipmunk! The park is beautiful and serene. Despite the overflowing parking lot, it was quiet and didn’t feel crowded at all. The trees are huge and stately, if a tree can be stately. We had a great time walking through, enjoying the trees and the quiet, and taking photos. The shuttle there and back was a little scary on the twirling mountain roads but I’m glad the shuttle was an option because it was better than wasting our vacation looking for a parking spot.

    Robbie at the entrance

    Robbie at the entrance to the Muir Woods National Monument

    Robgeleen with redwoods

    Robgeleen with redwoods!

    After the shuttle ride back to our rental car, we drove to a cute little town called Mill Valley to eat at Joe’s Taco Lounge. I will forever be glad that we chose to eat there. I think their tofu tostada is the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life. We had the amazing nachos too. I’m sad that this adorable and authentic restaurant is so far from my house because I want to eat every vegetarian thing on that menu.

    best Mexican food ever

    Phenomenal tofu tostada

    religious decor

    The Virgin Mary and hot sauces at Joe’s Taco Lounge

    We spent the rest of the day and the next two nights in Sonoma and Napa counties, which you should check out in my next post.

    On Tuesday afternoon, it was time to drive back to San Francisco and drop off our car. I drove back and it was so scary! There was one street near our hotel that was so steep I couldn’t visually confirm that there was land on the other side of the hill. After dropping our bags off at the hotel and returning our car, we checked out some bars on foot.

    We started at Mikkeller Bar, went on to Rickhouse, then finished the night at Local Edition. I got zero usable photos from these bars. I do recall that my drink at Rickhouse was really amazing and Robbie was impressed with his old-fashioned at Local Edition. It became clear that we needed fuel in the form of immediately available Mexican food for our walk back to the hotel. We stopped at a Chipotle on our way and were pleasantly surprised to be able to order the tofu sofritas at that location. I got a huge bowl of sofritas, black beans, grilled veggies, two salsas, cheese, and guacamole. It was quite special for emergency fast food.

    chipotle tofu sofritas

    Yes, I’m blogging Chipotle.

    For the last night of our trip we stayed at the Hotel Boheme on Columbus Avenue. It wasn’t our first choice – our first choice was sold to another company after we made our reservation and the new company didn’t honor our reservation. The Hotel Boheme’s location is really good. The hotel itself was just okay.

    Because we were still waking up at 5:00 am we had plenty of time to pack, arrange for a shuttle to the airport, and head towards the Fisherman’s Wharf for breakfast. We ate at the Beach Street Grill which was quite good. We walked the short distance to Pier 39 afterwards to see the sea lions. They are such characters! Stinky, funny characters.

    rainbow over Alcatraz

     We saw a rainbow and Alcatraz on our way.

    sea lions

     That beautiful bridge again.

    sea lions!

     Sea lions! I love them so much.

    Our final semi-noteworthy activity in San Francisco was eating surprisingly good airport food. If you are ever flying out of SFO, go to Andale. They have delicious tofu!


  2. spiced tofu

    October 31, 2014 by Angie

    This recipe for spiced tofu is from one of my first cookbooks, The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy International Recipes by Bobbie Hinman. I love this cookbook even though it doesn’t include a single photo. My loving it sans photos is testament to what a great cookbook it is. This recipe is a favorite that I’ve been making on and off for over a decade now so it was overdue for its own blog post. The Middle Eastern spices make this dish unique and so yummy.

    two bowls of spiced tofu

    Ingredients

    olive oil spray
    1 small yellow onion, chopped
    2 tsp minced garlic
    3/4 of a container of Pomi chopped tomatoes
    6 ounce can of tomato paste
    1/4 cup water
    1/4 cup chardonay
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    3/4 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 container of firm tofu, pressed/drained and cut into small cubes

    Directions

    1. After preparing and chopping the onion and tofu, spray a large skillet (with a lid) with olive oil and heat to medium.

    2. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the tofu. Stir to mix everything together well.

    4. Gently stir in the tofu. Put the lid on the skillet and reduce the heat a little. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    5. This is great over rice. We ate it in bowls with a side of toast and didn’t miss the rice at all.

    spiced tofu


  3. butternut squash soup

    October 26, 2014 by Angie

    I saw a butternut squash in its pre-soup form for the first time this week. I asked Robbie to identify one and bring it home from the grocery store. He did a good job, picking out a nice, big one even though neither of us were sure what they look like.

    butternut squash

    On Friday, I turned it into soup. Preparing a butternut squash is not the most straight-forward thing, the first time. This site helped me. You’re going to need a serious knife and some elbow grease. Aside from that, this recipe is very easy and we both liked that it requires minimal cleanup. The soup was delicious, if I do say so myself.

    time to eat soup!

    Adapted from College Vegetarian Cooking by Megan and Jill Carle.

    Yields 4 meal-size servings or six side/appetizer servings.

    Ingredients

    1 stalk of celery
    1 medium yellow onion
    1-2 carrots
    2 large russet potatoes
    1 large butternut squash (2.5-3 lbs)
    1 quart of vegetable broth
    salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    1. Wash and peel (if applicable), the celery, yellow onion, carrot(s), and potatoes. Chop into smallish pieces and put them in a large stockpot to clear your cutting board for the next step.

    2. Wash and peel the butternut squash. I peeled later but it was pretty dangerous so if you can do it now, do it now. Cut the squash across the neck, then in halves. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. Chop off and discard the ends. Chop the rest into smallish pieces and add them to the stock pot.

    3. Pour the vegetable broth into the stockpot and turn it on to get the broth boiling. Turn the heat down to medium-low (3 or 4) and cook for thirty minutes, stirring every once in a while.

    4. When the vegetables are tender and verging on mushy, turn off the heat. Use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    5. Eat your delicious soup with some buttery toast.

    butternut squash soup


  4. Boo Crew Halloween quilted table runner

    October 17, 2014 by Angie

    I finished this just in time to put it in on the table on October 1 but I wanted to wait until our new IKEA table was built to take photos. We were on vacation in California after that. So I am sorry I didn’t bring the Halloween decor to the blog on time, but I have been enjoying my fully decorated house all month long.

    Boo Crew Table Runner Closeup

    Washed and dried and festive.

    I bought two Boo Crew by Moda charm packs and some yardage with plans to make a Halloween quilt for us, but even with all the charm squares and a border, it was going to be a really small quilt.  I decided to whip up a Halloween table runner using most of one pack instead. My plentiful Halloween decorations are now giving Christmas a run for its money.

    Sookie and the new table and runner

    Here’s a photo of our pretty new table with our new table runner and Sookie.

    Boo Crew Halloween Quilted Table Runner Stats

    Finished size: 39.75″ x 18″
    Top fabric: 36 Boo Crew by Moda charm pack squares
    Back fabric: The Monsters in Cream from the Boo Crew line by Moda
    Binding fabric: Fly Trap in Orange from the Boo Crew line by Moda
    Batting: Warm & White
    Quilting: Straight line quilting on either side of all seams

    quilting and binding

    A closeup of the binding and quilting

    with Halloween candle holders

    I love these goofy candle holders.

    quilting closeup

    Here is a closeup of the straight line quilting before binding and washing.

    backing fabric closeup

    This is the backing fabric. I think it’s so cute.


  5. tofu pad thai from Vegetarian Times

    October 3, 2014 by Angie

    For dinner Monday night, I made pad thai for the first time. There are so many recipes for vegetarian pad thai online but this one from Vegetarian Times came highly recommended so I decided to start here.

    bowl of tofu pad thai

    My changes were frying an entire block of tofu (cut into bite-sized pieces) separately in peanut oil and the addition of small (unmeasured, sorry) amounts of vegetable broth, hoisin sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce situation. This recipe called for diced tomatoes but most of the others I looked at did not. I don’t think they went well with the other flavors in this dish so I’ll definitely leave the tomatoes out in any future renditions. I will also add more veggies. I know it’s a noodle dish, but if we go through the trouble of buying, cleaning, and chopping a bunch of produce, I want to eat a bunch of sauce-laden produce. The verdict is it was awesome. I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and those were also awesome. I think I can improve on it though. The next time I decide that it’s somehow okay to eat two thirds of a box of rice noodles in fewer than 24 hours, I will experiment further and report back.

    tofu pad thai