November, 2016

  1. vegan mashed potatoes

    November 27, 2016 by Angie

    I am really bad at making mashed potatoes. I get horrified by the ingredients in the internet’s favorite recipes: bucket of sour cream, 19 sticks of butter, multiple cups of heavy cream, gallons of whole milk. I feel guilty enough about the potatoes. I have tried several healthier versions over the years and they have all sucked.

    This year I based my attempt on a vegan recipe that pledges to be “the creamiest vegan mashed potatoes” from the blog My California Roots. They were cold by the time I got to eat them on Thanksgiving Day, but Robbie and I loved the leftovers. I would make and eat these again and again. I think next year I need to explore a vegan gravy to go on top.

    Thanksgiving 2016

    There they are with apple and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce (I used brown sugar this year – yum), tofu vegetable pot pie, and cheddar bay biscuits. Mom’s sweet potato casserole and Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes were dessert.

    I changed things around a little so here is what I did.

    Ingredients

    1 cup water
    1/2 cup raw cashews
    2.5 lbs gold potatoes
    4 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
    2 tablespoons (probably more like 5, but who’s counting?) minced garlic
    salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    1. Wash, peel, and chop the potatoes.
    2. Submerge the potatoes in water in a large pot.
    3. Microwave a cup of water in a bowl.
    4. Add the half cup of cashews to the boiling water. Set aside for at least half an hour.
    5. When it’s getting closer to meal time, boil the potatoes in the pot for about thirty minutes or until the potato chunks are tender when poked with a fork.
    6. While the potatoes are cooking, make the cashew cream by blending the water and cashews together. I used my crappy food processor and it worked out fine.
    7. Drain the potatoes.
    8. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Add the cashew cream, Earth Balance, garlic, salt, and pepper.
    9. Using a hand mixer, blend everything together for as little time as you can while still getting the lumpy to smooth ratio you like for your mashed potato consistency.
    10. Eat them right now! They get cold in a hurry.

  2. Mount Dora, FL

    November 2, 2016 by Angie

    My parents have been telling us about Mount Dora for a couple of years now. It has a really cute, quaint downtown and it’s very dog friendly. We finally booked a weekend there at Tremain Street Cottages. My parents are right. We did like it, it is extremely dog friendly, and we didn’t have to drive at all while were there. Everything you’d want to see and do and eat and drink is in a concentrated area around downtown.

    Headed towards downtown Mount Dora

    Walking towards downtown from our cottage

    We got into town about lunchtime so we went straight to Mellow Mushroom. It has a pretty, covered patio for eating outside with your dog. Our server brought Sookie water and she was happy there.

    The pizza and drinks were really good. It’s probably the second best Mellow Mushroom we’ve been to (after the one in Brandon, FL) and we’ve been to many.

    Slice of "Robgeleen": spinach, garlic, tomato, and half artichoke hearts on thin crust

    Slice of “Robgeleen”: spinach, garlic, tomato, and half artichoke hearts on thin crust

    Robbie has strange feelings for this pizza.

    Robbie has strange feelings for this pizza.

    After our wonderful pizza and drinks in the shade, we checked in to our dog friendly room, the Nantucket, at the Tremain Street Cottages.

    This bed is too big. I appreciated the handmade quilt and matching pillows.

    Another view of the main room

    Our little kitchen

    Small room in the back with a little couch and a dresser

    One of two patios for guests

    The Wine Den was high on our list of places to visit. They have some beers in bottles and many, many wines. Surprisingly, they allow dogs inside! There were three other dogs inside while we were there. One dog parent gave Sookie a special dog treat. It’s a really cute, although small, shop and bar. It’s worth the visit.

    Sookie is all tongue at the Wine Den

    One Flight Up is another place I did not want to miss. They allow dogs on their balcony which has the best view in town.

    One Flight Up

    The balcony facing Lake Dora

    The balcony overlooking one of the main streets

    The other side

    We had the hummus platter and Pinot Noir. They boast the best pour in town and I think they’re correct on that.

    We stopped by Pisces Rising’s third annual Halloween block party, Mayhem in Mount Dora. Our drinks were meh and it was not much of a party. It was more for families. There were some decent costumes.

    Mayhem in Mount Dora

    There is a band under the lights.

    Robbie required potatoes so we sat on the front patio with Sookie at the Bavarian Haus. We talked with our dog loving server while eating our double order of pomme frites. She brought Sookie water and two slices of cheese. What a lucky dog!

    Cody’s on Fourth was our breakfast place Sunday morning. They have three or four tables in front of the restaurant where dogs are allowed. Robbie had one of the quiches of the day (broccoli and cheddar) and I had an everything bagel, egg, and Swiss cheese sandwich. Both were very good. The quiche was really pricy for the size (over $10) and they only had decaf espresso left (is that a thing?), but the food was so good we’d eat there again.

    We walked down to the Sunday Village Market by Lake Dora. There were only a few booths and we didn’t buy anything. We liked looking at the lake though.

    Robbie and Sookie at Lake Dora

    Robbie and Sookie being aware of alligators and snakes

    Lake Dora

    Lake Dora

    We also learned that a large, well-kept facility called the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club exists. Also, lawn bowling exists.

    Mount Dora Lawn Bowling

    It's a thing

    Lawn bowling info

    Dropping knowledge.

    I was craving coffee after the decaf espresso situation at breakfast so I stopped in at the Village Coffee Pot. It was shockingly horrible. They were out of soy milk which is when I should have run away. Then I was told the steaming device was broken. I was handed a $5 undrinkable iced latte. I took two sips and threw it away. I don’t know how it’s possible to make espresso mixed with 2% milk and ice taste like cold dirt, but the Village Coffee Pot does it. I later saw their sign on the street corner read “expresso”…ugh.

    PizzAmoré was our favorite place. Beautiful, outdoor seating with shade. Great service. The garlic knots were huge and so garlicky. The pizza and drinks were very good too.

    Outside at PizzAmore

    A little garden near the outdoor seating

    Sookie at PizzAmore

    Sookie found some shade under the table

    Robbie at PizzAmore

    IPA and wine waiting on pizza

    Sookie was the star of the party on the street side patio outside Las Palmas Cuban Restaurant. Robbie and I enjoyed 2 for 1 drinks and mariquitas while Sookie made best friends with everyone who walked by. A French family was particularly happy to pet her at length. They gave her a little Eiffel Tower to wear on her Halloween collar.

    French Sookie

    French Sookie

    On our way back to our cottage, we ran into a couple from Vero Beach who go to my mom’s church. For a small town, Vero Beach people are everywhere. We left Sookie to rest in her crate with her dinner while went out to sit indoors at two more bars.

    The Lost Parrot is a Key West style bar run by awesome staff and filled with interesting locals. We had a good time there and would go again. After that we sat inside at Pisces Rising at the bar. The drinks were decent. We didn’t eat or interact with anybody so that’s all I have to say about that.

    We finished up our stay with breakfast at the Highland Street Cafe. It’s a really homey place decorated with kitschy Scottie dog everything. We both got omelets, but I made the correct choice of hash browns over home fries. Man, those hash browns were great. The staff were very sweet. There was nowhere for Sookie to sit so she had to rest in her crate at the cottage, but 10/10 anyway.