Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A tribute to mac and cheese

Oh mac and cheese,
I love you so,
although with ease
you make my belly grow.

My poetry skills are a bit rusty.

One of my lactose intolerance casualties is macaroni and cheese. I love this stuff. It used to be in my regular dinner rotation (which wasn't much a year ago, and still isn't huge now), so having to give it up was a bit of a blow. I mean, I wasn't fancy with it, it was normal kraft shells and cheese, usually mixed with broccoli or some potatoes to make it a bit heartier. It's a total comfort food though, and even better, a cheap one. I mean, sure you can do the whole mac and cheese with real cheese and melted butter and all that and bake it in the oven, but I don't have that much time after work, and sometimes I'd rather have the processed stuff.

Vegan mac and cheese does exist, but it can be kind of hit and miss. I've tried 3 different mac and cheese recipes from 3 different locations and they've all varied.

Mother's Market has a mac and cheese in their food bar. I think their main "cheese replacement" ingredient is almonds and maybe nutritional yeast flakes. For the record, nutritional yeast flakes are pretty common in fancy vegan recipes, especially as a cheese replacer, but I've never tried it. Heard they're a yummy seasoning though. Anyway, not a big fan of this mac and cheese. Not sure why, but the time I had it, I added some bacon salt to make it better. It just wasn't cheesy. Maybe it was because it was reheated. Dunno.

When I went to San Francisco, I hit up a fabulous vegan cafe called Herbivore. My sister recommended it, and I am so glad I went. I had a deeeelicious mac and cheese plate. It was so yummy, look!

Just beautiful. They even did broccoli, like I used to do, except they weren't lazy like me and didn't do Kraft shells and cheese. If you look behind my plate, you will see husband's portobello mushroom sandwich (and his belly) and my root beer. I've become a root beer fan. This picture makes me sad that Herbivore is 6 1/2 hours away by car.

Lastly, we have homemade mac and cheese. I've made it twice at home using this recipe from vegweb. It's pretty easy and makes for some yummy cheddar-y results. If you try this recipe, make sure you follow the sauce directions: heat soymilk first, then add cheese. Last time, I forgot and dumped everything in the saucepan. It was still pretty good, it just changes the texture a bit. I usually add margarine too, because I'm a fatty like that.

You will notice breadcrumbs on my mac and cheese. I had a french baguette that I was saving to make breadcrumbs and I FINALLY did it for this dish. Why you ask? Store bought breadcrumbs are not vegan. Did it taste better with the crumbs? Eh, about the same. Did it make it look all fancylike? Yup. That would also be a fancy salad on my plate, with the red onion and carrots and vegan creamy garlic dressing. What can I say, I'm easily impressed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


After reading my wife's blog, I decided it was time to share a commiserating story. This is chronicling my disasters in domestication, so get ready for a disaster.

Recently, we were given a bag of peaches. Now I am not a fruit person. I am much more a veggie eater. Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, they are all good. Fruit... eh. I guess. Sure, but not my preference. So what to do with this huge bag of peaches? We were given cobbler as a gift, so I decided to make a peach pie. I've never made a pie, and I was short on time, but my sister REALLY wanted pie that night so, ok, we'll throw one together. I had frozen strawberries, so it was going to be a strawberry peach pie. Sounds great right?

So I hop on to my old standby, and find tons of recipes for pie crust. The problem? They all need to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Like I mentioned, I was short on time, it was a work night and I didn't feel like sitting around to wait for flaky crust. So I bypass the flaky crusts and settle on this shortbread pie crust. Actually, the crust was pretty good. I would use it again. For the actual pie, I "use" this recipe for Peach-a-Berry pie. I put "use" in quotations because I just kind of used it as a guideline.

It was going pretty well. Baked the crust, sister peeled and cut up peaches. Here's where it went wrong though. When you see a recipe that says:

Place peaches and berries in a colander for about 15 minutes to drain any excess fluid , then transfer to a large bowl.

DO IT. Do NOT throw them in a colander, wait a minute, then say "oh, nothing is coming out" and throw it in the crust. It needs to drain. Can you guess what the disaster was?

So, I use some remaining pie dough to make a sad looking top crust thing. I was still pretty happy with myself though. First pie. In my neato pyrex pie pan too. I throw it in the oven.

45 minutes later:
I mean, it looks ok. Until you cut into it and realize it is....

Pie soup. Very soggy. There was actually a lot more fruit juice in the pan before I took that pic.

How did it taste? It was pretty good, but I think the sogginess gave us all tummyaches. So this went in the trash.

Fail. Better luck next time I hope.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cake balls, revisited.

Another birthday at the office, but I made them prettier this time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eating through San Francisco

Husbinator and I just celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary (yay us!) The traditional 1st anniversary gift is paper, but we decided we really wanted to go somewhere, so we cheated and said that our hotel confirmation printout would count as paper. Seeing as how I had never been to San Francisco, and it's within driving distance, we figured that would be our celebration vacation destination for elation. We spent about 3 days there, saw the sights, visited all the little district and Alcatraz and had a really wonderful time.

Seeing as how this blog is centered around food, I thought I would share some photos of the places we ate in San Fran. All delicious and reccomended!

Bread bowls at the Boudin Bakery
Our dinner for our first night in. We knew it would be cold in San Fran, but I didn't realize how cold it got, even in the middle of summer. These bread bowls hit the spot. I had tomato basil soup, he got clam chowder. Yummy.

Fresh tomatoes pasta and Garlic BBQ Chicken pizza at the Stinking Rose

If you love garlic, you will LOVE this place. There's a location in Beverly hills, but I hadn't tried it. So glad I did though. There's minced garlic on your table for your bread, along with garlic infused extra virgin olive oil. Check out the menu, it is definitely drool worthy.

Frjtz's Fries
Oh my goodness. French fries. Seriously, I have an undying love for french fries. This place has them. You can get them plain, or with garlic, or with truffle oil drizzled on top. You can get crepes and eggs and stuff too, but who cares? Fries. They have a huge list of fancy dips, such as creamy wasabi mayo, tamarind cashew ketchup, and chipotle remoulade. We chose orange ginger mayo and smokey honey mustard. I miss the orange ginger mayo. The menu is on the site if you want to check it out.

A little candy shop and bakery within walking distance of Frjtz's Fries. Super cute and adorable, but they hold a special place in my heart for carrying a selection of vegan chocolate. A little pricey but everything looks so good, I'm sure it's worth it. I know my Buccaneer chocolate-y nougat-y candy bar was. Mmmmmmm.... so good. They had some adorable little cakes and cupcakes on display,but I refrained.

And of course, no trip would be complete without a little night cap. Cheers!