Monday, May 31, 2010

Cheap Fun at Markets!

This past saturday was a great day, because xtina and I ventured out of our little circle of town and went over to our dear neighborburb Royal Oak! Why you ask?

We'd heard word that there was a farmer's market!

We had to get there early, because x had work at 10am to get to, so we headed over at about 8.15. Our drive was short and pleasant, but upon arrival, we panicked. The market was loaded, nay FLOODED, with people wanting to load up on plants/goodies this memorial day weekend. Shoulda known. But we didn't. We hadn't left the car yet, and we were afraid we wouldn't be able to, seeing as the market's parking lot was packed, and there was a queue of cars waiting for that very next spot to open up.


Turned the corner and down a ways, we found another lot, and we scavenged up the coins I had in my cup holder. 35 cents. That should buy us enough time to get in, buy something, and get some quarters in change. We pull in and get out, checking the rate to see how much time we'd get.

And then the clouds broke, the sun shone, and a symphony of joyousness burst out from all around....

parking was free until 10am.


Full of song and dance, happy as can be, we danced off into the sunset....::cough:: I mean, we were really excited, and we proceeded to head over to the market and see what we could find. Which turned out to be maple candy, kale, and rhubarb.

Good day. Cheap fun. and Oops, it's vegan too.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

xtina's First Green Smoothie

Oh glorious Sunday. I don't have to go to work until noon! The weather is beautiful, so I decided to knock out a bike ride before I go to my place of (under)employment. What is the post-cycling, refueling culinary delight? My first green smoothie.

My love of kale is - I think - well-known. Yesterday, at the Royal Oak Farmer's market, I purchased a beautiful pile of organic Tuscan kale. Today, I proceeded to spend most of my bike ride dreaming about the preparation of my life-giving, Brassica oleracea bunch. Of the Acephala group. Duh.

I also thought about how self-righteously healthy I was being! Getting up early! Riding my bike! Burning cals! So what does a self-righteously healthy person consume? Green smoothies. I've never made one before. So I got out the smoothie maker and winged it, dear readers.

The results, unfortunately, were less than stellar. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've already slurped up the entire thing. I feel the mystical being-forces of raw food enzymes coursing through my veins - which feels great, by the way. It's just that, I wish I had better ingredients on hand to make this smoothie a bombastic explosion of flavor. It tastes creamy, cold and kale-y (does that still count as alliteration?). But it's not something I'd give to a friend who doesn't dream about kale day and night.

xtina's First Green Smoothie:

1 bunch kale, destemmed and torn into pieces
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon flax (to make this smoothie even more nutritious)
1 frozen peach
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
juice of 1/2 lime

Add ingredients to blender. Blend. Drink.

I think this recipe needed more coherent fruit. Does that even make sense? Maybe some spunky, citrus-y combo that would perk it up a little bit. But I used what I had on hand. And it was good. And green.

Friday, May 28, 2010

We got Deathstar (Deathstar!)


Hello, readers, if you still exist given our sudden SUCKING. I'm sure that there are still some of you...

I moved some time ago. My place is pretty awesome (Moose. Shower. Curtain.), and I'm pretty busy working to maintain/improve my assets working a handful of jobs. The glory of independence! I love working! And I mean that. HOWEVER, that all being said, I got an AWESOME break from the push when my pals made a journey to see my shower curtain (Or visit me or something. Whatever). Providence brought them at a hell of a time--when I had scheduled myself to get inked. Oops, I got a tat. A tat on my back. I'd love to post you photogs of it, but I know my mom reads this blog back home to see what's going on with my life, and she would be devastated to see that it is not 2 inches. Or 3. Hey, at least it's not 10, maw! At any rate, it's pretty glorious, and is my way of carrying the greatness of the great state with me regardless of my whereabouts.

I think the real reason I'd like to post the pictures is the artwork you can see on the wall in the background: what appears to be the silhouette of a teddy bear that has been shot. Repeatedly. Why, teddy? Why?

Of course, being with the pals meant cooking. Cooking is going to get more exciting now. Oops, it's time to start cooking in season! And what's in season? RHUBARB. Our lovely toxic vixen. But don't worry about that toxicity too much, just don't go putting the leaves in your salad. The stalks are where the goods are. Rhubarb is a tease to the senses, as it looks like celery yet is tart and tasty like a fruit. Commonly found in pies and jams, rhubarb is a delightfus treat you should all be experimenting with now! Here's some more info. For our kitchen reunion, we whipped up a pot of rhubarb compote.

Mmk, on with the composition:

Rhubarb Compote
1 hearty bunch of rhubarb from the farmer's market
Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar

Before cooking our rhubarb down, we took Mark Bittman's recommendation to string it. That is, we took a paring knife and peeled off the outer, stringy, tough-ish part of the rhubarb to get the nice stuff. This isn't always necessary, and is a step many choose to skip. For a compote, it just seemed wise. It IS always necessary to look hot while doing this.

This task completed, the rhubarb was chopped into small pieces and placed into a pot with the juice and the mixed sugars. Cooking over medium-high heat and stirring occasionally, cook the rhubarb down until it's rather thick and mushy. Keep in mind that it will thicken even more once removed from the heat.

Once our lovely compote was finished, we put it in the fridge to cool while we prepared other goodies to serve it with--FRENCH TOAST FOR DINNER! Compote is a wonderful addition to many a breakfast, dessert, snack, etc. Experiment! Delight in your accomplishments and discoveries!

Very mature, Beeardsmith.

While we digested our food and reveled in time well-spent, it was noticed that the hood of Beeardsmith's car had been blessed by the feet of a passing kitty. Perhaps a visit from the ghost of our old friend, Snortles?!?! WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pile O' Greens

How to get a pile o' greens on your plate, in fifteen easy steps:

Step one - get born in the spring.

Step two - twenty two years later, befriend some farmers.

Step three - turn twenty-three.

Step four - unknowingly go to your surprise birthday party, thrown by said farmers and pals.

Step five - receive an edible bouquet of greens, broccoli rabe and asparagus.

Step six - drizzle the asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 425 degree oven for five to ten minutes.

Steps seven through fourteen - heat some more olive oil in a skillet. Chop 3 cloves of garlic. Dump greens into skillet and turn continuously with tongs, until everybody turns bright green. Add the garlic, and turn a few more times. Add about 3/4 cup vegetable broth, three dashes of hot sauce, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the greens hang for five or ten more minutes. Eat the asparagus while you're waiting.

Step fifteen - pile them greens on yer plate and eat em up!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dear friends,

Eleven days without a post is too long. We're not without excuses, however! The Oops! team has been going through momentous changes - changes that might arouse suspicion. Collectively, we at Oops! have been picking up more (underemployed)job hours, signing and moving into apartments, watching baby brothers graduate from college, celebrating birthdays and gardening. Among other things. Could we, despite our best efforts, actually be growing up??

I'm pleased to say that no, we are absolutely NOT growing up in any way, shape or form. That would just be silly.

Ahem. Seeing as this is a food blog, I should probably post a recipe. Conveniently, I made the most incredible miso soup just about two hours ago.

Peanut-Miso Soup

1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded (easily accomplished with a vegetable peeler)
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 scallion (both white and green parts), chopped
1/2 cup dried nori, crumbled
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 cups liquid (I used 1 cup veggie broth plus 1 cup water)

In a medium saucepan, heat sesame oil. Cook garlic until slightly browned, then add the carrots and mushrooms. Stir everything until carrots are just tender and mushrooms are beginning to soften. Add your liquid, nori, and chopped scallion and bring to a simmer for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the miso paste and peanut butter until everything is dissolved, then simmer for 10 more minutes. Enjoy!

Don't fear another bleak stretch of non-posting, friends. There are many tasty dishes in the near future, including a foray into raw foods, more miso-inspired goodness, and cashew cream cheeze. Plus, I still need to decide what vegan treat to make for my upcoming birthday!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vegan in the News: Soy...Jizzum?

Apparently the National Milk Producer's Federation created a petition to convince the FDA to stop the "misappropriation of dairy terminology" by companies that make non-dairy products, like soy milk, hemp milk, and cashew cheese.

You can read about it here. Trust me, its a hilarious article. And for the love of god, watch the video. It's worth it.

Cause you know, they don't want the American public to be misled. I really appreciate it guys! We wouldn't want people to "accidentally" realize there's a better alternative to their products would we??

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oops, it's booze.....OMG SANGRIA!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all you readers out there! If any of you are actually celebrating, hope you're having fun.

While none of us here are of Latino/a heritage, we thought it'd be nice to give a nod to those of Mexican culture who would be properly celebrating this holiday of independence and kick-assitude. So, we enjoyed some Spanish/Latino/a inspired snacks and drinks. To independence, though not our own.

My brother out in California recently went down to Mexico for a vacation, and while he was there, he discovered a magical, mystical, drink. He asked for the recipe, a request which was shockingly obliged, and here I present to you, the most fantastic Sangria you have ever had. It's greatness comes from a melange of spices and not an over-dependence on fruit.

Best Sangria of your Life

1 bottle of red wine (pinot noir or shiraz) 
4 black peppercorns
4 green peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
2 cinammon sticks
3 star anise
1/4 cup of tart cherries 
4 oz grand marnier, tripel sec or peach liquor
4 oz brandy
4 oz orange juice
2 oz lime juice
4 oz simple syrup

Mix all the ingredients in a pitcher and let rest overnight.
Serve in a glass with ice. Fill 2/3 full with wine and top with unsweetened lemon/lime soda water. Adjust wine/water ratio to taste. 
 It's an extremely tasty beverage, one that you won't want to stop drinking, but the added spirits will force you to slow down. Enjoy it on a sunny day, amongst friends, and allow yourself to unwind. 
We each had a glass today, and after enjoying the refreshing tonic, had a great time heading over to the local grocery store to pick up a missing ingredient for our next fantabulous dish.
Everyone loves it. Everyone wants it. (Okay, maybe not everyone, but a lot of folks do). Here's our take on this beloved dish. 
4 avocadoes
1 medium sized tomato, diced
1 small or 1/2 medium onion, also diced
Juice of 2 Lemons (or to taste)
Lots of cilantro (or to taste)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Scoop out the flesh from all the avocadoes. Do so by cutting them in half, around the pit, and seperating the two demi-avocadoes. Cut into the pit with the blade of the knife so that it sticks in the seed, then with a twisting motion, remove it from it's yellow-green embrace. Scoop the goodness out with a spoon and place in a bowl. Squish up all the flesh with a fork or potato masher. Add in the diced tomato and onion, and stir to combine, not bruising the delicate tomato bits. Add in the juice and cilantro next, stirring again. Finally add the salt and pepper, tasting to see when the flavor is right. You may wish to hold back on the salt if the chips (or other vehicle) you're using are salted.
This guacamole is very simple, letting the flavors of the ingredients really shine. The lemon juice accentuates, not dominates. Let it sit in the fridge if you'd like, the tastes will mix nicely, or eat it right away and enjoy bursts of individual avocado, onion, cilantro, and tomato action. 

Shameless product plugs

Dear friends -

I (xtina) am a tea addict. I might tell you that green is my favorite kind of tea. When I tell you that, I am LYING.

(Cy aka beerdsmith recently described my "lists" of favorite things as "ambiguous morphing cloud lists." As in, they change every time. I dare you to ask me what my favorite animal is. I may say a pug. I might say a mallard duck. But I think I really mean honeybees. Ask me my favorite Beatles song only if you're prepared for hours of aimless but excited rambling.)

While I drink multiple cups of green tea on a daily basis, for me there is nothing more luxurious than a lovingly prepared cup of chai. As such, I am constantly on the lookout for the best, the ultimate, the favorite blend of spiced tea out there. Currently in the Oops! test kitchen, I have a can of Arbor Tea's Organic Masala Chai Black Tea waiting for me whenever the need arises. This is an outstanding tea from an outstanding company.

The important part of a lovingly prepared chai is the milking and sweetening of the cup. Especially if you "accidentally" make it vegan! Usually I rely upon almond milk with great success. A few days ago, I simultaneously used the last bit of almond milk in the fridge AND received my federal tax refund! Which was a whopping five dollars. The happy coincidence meant a splurge trip to Whole Foods - or Whole Tax Refund - where I picked up some Turtle Mountain So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer and a new bottle of agave necter.

This morning, my chai was exceptionally incredible.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This droid has a bad motivator.

Today is a glorious day. Today is Carly Golden Retriever Hebert's 15th birthday. Still going strong! Keep it up, Carly! I made her some Pupcakes for the occasion. She loves pumpkin. I couldn't get a photograph of her enjoying this snack, because she swallowed it whole.

Yesterday the Three Musketeers traveled over to Xtina's community garden plot. Pictures and good times were in order, so hopefully she will blog about this delightfus activity in the near future! Grow food! It's a wonderful thing to do! We also watched Return of the Jedi. And so, on with the next important part of the post: Why we should all live like Yoda.

YODAISM (Yodism?)

1. Live in a bog. Forage for wild roots and make soup.
2. Live in a tree, sleep on a futon that probably smells like poverty.
3. English syntax question, we must. Rebel.
4. Speak in riddles. Never give anything away.
5. Find a young, fit, whiny kid with supernatural powers to give you piggy-back rides through old growth forests.
6. Turn young, fit, whiny kid into badass rebel scum.
7. Don't feel hate, sadness, or anger. But don't love anyone either. In fact, just be a crazy old hermit. It's for the best.

Do this and you'll live past 900 and evaporate.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Memories of a Gala, and pancakes.

Xtina and I are both May babies. May is a great month--perhaps one of my favorites. May is NOT a good month for birthdays. For various reasons that change with age, it's just a very busy time for people. My birthday, for instance, always falls around or (for the past two years) directly on U of M's graduation. Nobody can go out. Ergo, I spent the whole afternoon post-work with Xtina laughing at how silly it all was.

The days preceding the birthday were fun, because I got to do some baking. I made some cake and some cupcakes (carrot, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World!). Xtina, of course, was over while this was happening. There was leftover frosting from the cupcakes, which inspired the creation of lunch:

Carrot Pancakes
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
3/4 to 1 cup non-dairy milk (depending on whether or not your batter is too thick/too runny. You decide)
About 2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp safflower oil
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Leftover "cream cheese" (made with Tofutti) frosting

Mix all of those dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Start warming up your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Mix in the wet ingredz. Don't overmix--just enough to incorporate. It's pancakes, so you want to see the clumps in the batter. Finally, mix in the carrot and walnuts. Melt a tablespoon of butter substitute in the pan, and spread it about. Drop on batter by 1/3 cup scoops, cook until bubbles start coming up, flip, and cook some more. Replace the fakey-butter every now and again to make sure all your pancakes are getting some. Plate them up, and smother them with frosting. Victory!

After Xtina and I spent the whole afternoon sitting around my place of employment doing nothing, we went out for my birthday dinner at Grizzly Peak in downtown Ann Arbor. I've gone to this restaurant 3 or 4 years in a row for my birthday, because it's delicious and they give you a complimentary dessert, a ten dollar gift card, and a Grizzly Peak glass for all of your at-home drinking. We sat outside, ate enough for six, and reminisced about last year when we decided to have a joint birthday party themed the Ganandorf Gala (Ocarina of Time, anyone?) to which almost nobody came to, and those who did come fought a little bit. We laughed about it, then it started raining and we were the only ones who remained sitting outside. Naturally, we laughed about this, too. Ultimately, I can't say it was a bad time. Sitting around with my best pal and eating in the rain is enough for me.

"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved." -K. Vonnegut