August, 2018

  1. Asheville, NC

    August 25, 2018 by Angie

    Our big vacation this year was to Asheville, NC. It’s very nice in June. We stayed in a little cabin about a 15 minute drive from downtown. The cabin is way up a very steep, very winding hill/mountain so it feels a lot more remote than it really is. We chose it for this amazing view.

    View from the deck

    !!!!!


    Deck

    Love this deck!

    View from the slider

    From the slider onto the deck

    Living room

    Living room


    Kitchen

    Kitchen

    Bedroom

    Bedroom – a little on the small side but fine for just the two of us

    Partial view from the couch

    Side view from the couch – that’s the owner’s house out the window


    DAT VIEW THO

    From the window in the living room

    Restaurants

    The winding road made it a bit of a mission to acquire food so we ate at the cabin a few times and then when we did go to restaurants, I was ravenous and took very few food photos – sorry. We made trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I know that’s not special to most people but we don’t have either of those stores where we live. I was shocked by how much food we got for $13 at Trader Joe’s. How do they do it???

    There is one restaurant, well, local chain of restaurants, that we went to three times in our five days there. Yes, it’s that good. It’s Green Sage Cafe. We went to the Westgate location twice and the downtown location once.

    Green Sage soy latte

    A+ Soy Latte

    Soysauge biscuit

    Soysauge biscuit

    Green Sage tempeh reuben

    Tempeh Reuben

    Rosetta’s Kitchen was our first stop. We liked it a lot the last time we went to Asheville in 2010.  Everything was very good. We got the veggie nuggets for an appetizer and then Robbie got the tempeh reuben and I got the organic smoky tofu wrap.

    Outside at Rosetta's Kitchen

    On the balcony at Rosetta’s Kitchen

    Laughing Seed Cafe is another repeat from our 2010 trip. We had a much better time this time. In 2010, they poisoned me with secret walnuts. This time they were totally on top of the allergen thing. Robbie got (another) tempeh reuben and I got this elaborate burrito situation, the South by Southwest Burrito. The champagne dijon vinaigrette dressing on the side salad was very special.

    Laughing Seed

    Laughing Seed Cafe

    We also ate at Standard Pizza, at the Biltmore Village location, and Mamacita’s in downtown. I was in savage mode I guess because I don’t have photos. Both were good but not DO NOT MISS level good. Mamacita’s started to get packed once we sat down. It’s a post-drinking food spot with quick Mexican food.

    Breweries/Beer

    Man, oh, man, there’s a lot of beer in Asheville. Our first brewery stop was Wicked Weed. We came back again another day. It’s a big, comfortable place with seats inside and outside.

    Wicked Weed

    Wicked Weed

    Bhramari Brewhouse came highly recommended. It is one of the bigger, fancier taprooms we went to. It has a kitchen and gift shop.

    Lexington Avenue Brewery is another we remembered from 2010. They have a bunch of local beers on tap as well as food and a full bar.

    Burial Beer Co. was Robbie’s favorite. It has a bit of an industrial feel. It’s a simple taproom but it is on the big side and there’s a nice outdoor area. It’s just beer and a tiny gift shop but I found a saison I really enjoyed. Robbie had an IPA they made in collaboration with his favorite local-ish brewery, Civil Society Brewing, so that was a happy coincidence.

    Burial mural

    Very weird mural outside Burial Beer Co.

    Outside at Burial

    Outside at Burial

    When in Asheville…

    My one and only

    Green Man Brewery and Asheville Brewing Company are two breweries we visited in 2010, although at older/different locations. They’re both very laidback places.

    Puzzle at Asheville Brewing Company

    Eurisko Beer Company is a newer place. It’s really beer in a room and nothing else. But Robbie says it’s very good beer.

    Bars

    Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar is my kind of bookstore! Champagne and books, name a more iconic duo.

    The Montford is by far the most spectacular rooftop bar I’ve ever been to and I am a bit of a rooftop bar connoisseur. There’s not a bad seat in the house for the sunset.

    Sunset at the Montford

    Oooohhh

    I mean, come on.

    Top of the Monk is a quirky and cute cocktail bar. There are some strange bar laws in North Carolina that necessitate becoming a “member” before you can buy a drink. I think it’s only for liquor bars that don’t serve food? This was our first stop with such a thing. The drinks were good. There’s a small outside balcony area. You get a locker key for each drink that you buy. The key opens a little locker with a snack inside. I was too suspicious of dairy from a locker to eat the tomato and mozzarella skewer but it’s a charming idea.

    Top of the Monk

    The bar at the Top of the Monk

    We also stopped at Crow and Quill and The Times at S&W. Crow and Quill is another one where we had to become members. They seem to be big on live music but there wasn’t anybody playing there when we went. Both are speakeasy style cocktail bars. I prefer The Times because it was a lot easier to get a drink there and the bartender made a fine espresso martini for me.

    Sky Bar is another rooftop bar. It was really packed up there at sunset! The view is still amazing and feels different than The Montford because you’re in the middle of downtown on top of a shorter building surrounded by people. It’s worth doing if you have two or more sunsets to work with in Asheville.

    Packed at Sky Bar

    Even rooftop parking is lovely in Asheville

    The Imperial Life was my favorite of the non-brewery, non-rooftop sunset venues. Robbie and I both run like our lives depend on it from live music at bars, but the guys playing here were genuinely good. The drinks were great and I appreciate the aesthetic of the place.

    Imperial Life

    The Imperial Life

    Nature, it’s why I come out here.

    We took a lovely/terrifying drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to some waterfalls. We saw a lot of pretty mountains but had to turn around and come back to the cabin when can’t-see-anything-at-all fog set in quickly. We are used to completely flat driving so it was pretty scary up there even before the fog. On the way back down, we stopped at a bunch of turn offs, took photos, and walked a little ways up a small trail.

    Chestnut Cove

    Chestnut Cove

    Scary Tunnel #1

    One of many pitch black tunnels – why did nobody warn us about these??

    Stony Bald

    Stony Bald

    Blue Ridge Parkway Robgeleen

    Blue Ridge selfie

    Walnut Cove

    After the Blue Ridge Parkway fail, we got advice from some locals and drove out to Brevard, NC to stop at three different waterfalls. It was an easy highway drive and then you turn into the Pisgah National Forest and boom waterfalls. Looking Glass Falls was the first stop.

    Looking Glass Falls

    Walking up to Looking Glass Falls

    A lot of people checking out Looking Glass Falls

    Whole gang of people

    Lounging at Looking Glass Falls

    Lounging

    Looking Glass Falls

    Pretty impressive!

    Next was Sliding Rock. It was packed with kids walking up and sliding down over and over again.

    Weeeeeeee

    Weeeeeee!

    So many kids at Sliding Rock

    Brave children

    Sliding Rock

    A few people really flew down this thing and we were worried for them.

    The last waterfall was at the end of Moore Cove Trail. It was a very humid but otherwise lovely walk out to an impressive waterfall.

    Moore Cove Trail

    Trail out there

    Moore Cove Trail walking towards the waterfall

    Very tall waterfall

    Way up there

    Tiny pool at the bottom

    It flows into a tiny pool

    Robbie takes a gander

    Robbie takes a look


  2. vegan tempeh meatballs

    August 3, 2018 by Angie

    I think these vegan tempeh meatballs are rad. It’s a recipe from Minimalist Baker. The meatball making is on the labor-intensive/mass of dishes side so that’s a limiting factor but I enjoyed eating them enough to make them worth making again and again. I really love a good fake meatball.

    His Noodly Appendage

    First, you have to make a batch of vegan parmesan cheese. It makes more than you need for the recipe so you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge to use is many other ways. You need a food processor for this step and the next.

    Vegan Parmesan Ingredients

    3/4 cup raw cashews
    3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    3/4 teaspoon salt

    Once you have your vegan parmesan ready, whip up a flax egg by mixing a tablespoon of flax meal with two and a half tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and start boiling the water for your pasta while you’re at it. Sauté chopped onion and minced garlic in a little bit of olive oil.

    Vegan Tempeh Meatballs Ingredients

    1/2 cup white onion, minced
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 flax egg
    8 ounces tempeh (1 package)
    1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese
    3/4 tsp each dried basil, oregano, and parsley
    1/2 cup vegan bread crumbs (I used panko)
    2 tablespoons tomato sauce
    Olive oil for sautéing
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Next, crumble the tempeh into the food processor then add in the onion/garlic, the flax egg, some of the vegan parmesan cheese, and the rest of the ingredients through tomato sauce into the food processor. Process it until it becomes dough-like. Roll the processed tempeh mixture into balls. I was able to make 12 pretty serious meatballs.

    Put a little more vegan parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on a plate and roll each meatball in it to cover.

    I’m wondering just how necessary this step is but I suspect it added to the satisfying texture of the meatballs. Sauté all of them in some olive oil, flipping them to brown all the sides. I was able to fit them all in my pan with room to spare.

    The final step is to bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven. While all that is happening you best be making some spaghetti and sauce to eat with these bad boys. We are Gia Russa Tomato Basil Sauce loyalists in this house although it’s been doing a watery separation thing lately.

    Just out of the oven

    I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day and they were still glorious.

    Vegan Tempeh Meatballs and Fettucine


  3. 2018 books part 1 – January through July

    August 3, 2018 by Angie

    I’m in the worst reading slump. My attention span for reading is very low and I feel meh about most of the books I’ve read so far this year. Looking back at the list I’m realizing there were a few very terrible books that cast a layer of ugh over the first half of the year’s books thus burying the gems in there. I’m reading two books right now that I really like so let’s hope they cure me of my bad book hangover.

    Here is what I’ve read so far this year. I’m still in two book clubs for work and still reviewing ARCs provided by NetGalley and Edelweiss.

    My favorite: How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister

    My least favorite: A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith

    The longest: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah at 435 pages

    The oldest: The Lottery by Shirley Jackson published in 1948

    Nonfiction: 3

    Fiction: 11

    1. A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith – 1 star: This is in the running for the worst book I have ever read. The ladies in my library book club chose it and we librarians thought it would be a good pick because it’s about local history. I honestly can’t remember hating any book as much as I hated this one. Here is my review for it on Goodreads: Do you want to read about herding cattle for 400 pages? Do you want students to hate literature? Because assigning this book about herding cattle for 400 pages is how you make students hate literature. I’m an adult and a librarian yet reading this book was a chore. The history of Florida is interesting but presented as a novel starring the flattest characters of all time makes for a miserable read. “A Land Remembered”: featuring three generations of wives who love to cook and never complain, a former slave who, it turns out!, wants exactly what the white characters want from life, and then the protagonists: three generations of one-dimensional white male characters who live off of the land in undeveloped Florida, except the last one is a bit of a jerk.
    2. The Modern Lovers’ The Modern Lovers by Sean Maloney – NetGalley – 4 stars: I didn’t give this book 5 stars because it’s a book about a really great lo-fi rock album and a book about a rock album is incapable of changing my life or whatever. For a book about a really great lo-fi rock album though it is perfection. It’s from the 33 1/3 series. The author does a great job of explaining the setting for this album and writes about Boston in the late 1960s/early 1970s as much as he writes about the band members and music. It’s just really well done. “Roadrunner roadrunner!”
    3. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado – NetGalley – 3 stars: A few of the stories in this collection are wow but the rest I could do without. I like her writing style and I like the theme of the collection. It’s horror but like light-horror, if that’s a thing, and all of it experienced a woman and often as a queer woman. It’s a point of view I haven’t seen before so I appreciate that. One story is about the end of world caused by a very contagious deadly virus. That’s scary no matter who you are but there are unique things to worry about when you’re a woman alone at the end of the world.
    4. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – 4 stars: What a strange book. roger bevins iii
    5. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – NetGalley – 4 stars: I really enjoyed Red Clocks. I was skeptical at first based on the description. I expected a kind of rip-off of “The Handmaid’s Tale” with more value-signaling and allegory than plot and character development. After seeing great reviews, I started reading it. I was immediately drawn in by the writing style and the way the book is organized. The story is told by four different female narrators with the biography of an historical Arctic explorer (also a woman) interspersed between their chapters. Through the four women, we get a complete view of the paths women can choose to take in regards to childbearing and the impact the new Personhood Amendment (banning abortion and IVF) and the impending Every Child Needs Two law (banning single people from adoption) have on women. I got worried about two thirds of the way in that I was reading a dystopian version of “Juno”, but my concerns were unfounded and I was happy with the ending.
    6. The Answers by Catherine Lacey – 3 stars: This book is pretty much a mess and I don’t get it, although I truly wanted to.
    7. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – 4 stars: This is a book I should have read as a young person but missed out on. It’s a classic and I highly recommend it.
    8. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – 4 stars: A scary short story you probably read in English Composition class. It’s still scary.
    9. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – 2 stars: This book is not scary. At all. Most of the time that I was reading it was spent wishing I was not reading it. Sorry, Shirley.
    10. How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister – NetGalley – 5 stars: This is my favorite book so far this year! I feel confident I can’t explain why I like it so much, but I will try. It’s weird but in a good way. It’s different from any other book I’ve read. I was shocked over and over again that a man wrote this amazing female protagonist. It approaches America’s gun issue and the constant threat that any of us could be gunned down at school, work, the gym, the mall, the movie theater, the street, at any moment, from an absurdist standpoint that is very refreshing and also the appropriate approach for such a stupid and insurmountable (seemingly) problem and political/public health issue.
    11. Teaching Information Literacy Reframed: 50+ Framework-Based Exercises for Creating Information-Literate Learners by Joanna M. Burkhardt – 3 stars: I read this to get ideas for the information literacy instruction sessions I do at work. I only like a few of the lesson plans enough to consider trying them.
    12. The Power by Naomi Alderman – NetGalley – 2 stars: I was enjoying it for the first 100 pages or so. It became a chore after that. None of the characters were very well-developed to the point that it was kind of difficult to even remember who was who because they were all pretty similar. If you want to read a new book riding the coattails of The Handmaid’s Tale hype, I suggest Red Clocks by Leni Zumas instead.
    13. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – NetGalley – 3 stars: This book was fine and it was an easy read but it’s nothing special. I chose this as the June read for my library’s book club. I mostly selected this because of the high ratings and tons of praise for Kristin Hannah’s previous novel, The Nightingale, which I have not read. I enjoyed the book for the most part while I was reading it and wanted to see how it would end. I did cry once or twice, but feel that was more because of the author taking us for a ride on an emotional roller coaster than due to experiencing a well-written story with well-developed characters. I found a few parts of the plot unbelievable. I found Hannah’s heavy-handed foreshadowing almost insulting. I recall rolling my eyes at one point when she wrote for the hundredth time about how the unpredictable dangers in Alaska were not only outside in the wilderness but also inside in their home because of the abusive, mentally ill father. It was fine, but not good enough to prompt me to go back and read The Nightingale.
    14. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates – 4 stars: I did a mixture of listening to the audiobook version of this and reading the articles on The Atlantic website. The audiobook isn’t bad but it pales in comparison to the audiobook version of Between the World and Me which was narrated by Coates himself. The narrator for this book is fine (and does an impressive Obama impersonation for much of the eighth essay) but I’m partial to author narrators anyway so I just kept wishing Coates was narrating! All of the essays themselves (previously published by The Atlantic and still available for free there) are really good and I’d say three of them are fantastic. A few of the pieces that introduce the essays were interesting or helpful because of the context they provided but I feel you can skip those and get right to The Atlantic stuff. “The Case for Reparations”, “This Is How We Lost to the White Man”, and “My President Was Black” are the stars of this collection.