Monthly Archives: December 2012

Midwest Part Deux

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After finishing at the Chicago diner we hit the road to Minnesota to see Brendon’s family, on the way stopping to see my friends Jason and Sue who are now living there for artistic enterprises.  When we arrived Sue was in her studio so we drove downtown to see her ceramics inspired art piece. When we entered the studio there were art students in every corner working on their pieces due in a few days. Sue had been pulling nights for the past several weeks and was still unsure if it would be completed. Regardless it looked incredible, I hope the photos give some sense of the overall aesthetic. It’s always good to see friends who have moved away from the ever transient bay population. COME BACK TO OAKLAND! Maybe someday they will, at least after her masters program!

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After several more hours of driving we ended up at Brendon’s mothers house. It was one in the morning and the house was empty as his mother would be arriving at the airport the next day. We settled in, had a cup of tea and fell fast asleep. The next few days were exhausting in the good way. I met Brendon’s entire family, enjoyed delicious food, and went to pick out Christmas trees. Where I grew up in LA everyone goes to a christmas tree parking lot, but not in Minnesota! In Minnesota you drive to a Christmas tree farm and look for a half hour for that perfect tree, they even give you a saw to cut it down when you enter the farm!

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Here are some things I learned about Minnesota:

There are so many lakes, in fact they probably stretch the entire state without more than 5 miles between each one!

People are very friendly, as a city person I am used to a fake friendliness…I kind of miss the midwest for this!

It is the England of America, and has a very high Nordic population!

Minneapolis has a very art infused scene, with art galleries like the Walker and Art Institute where thanks to Brendon’s family we were able to see the Terra cotta warriors

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After one last walk around the lake and a lunch at Good Earth Cafe we traversed back to Chicago. I am thankful to be in Brendon’s life and to see where he came from and the people that have shaped who he is as a person.

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The Midwest Part Un

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After another amazing dinner with friends I tired away in the kitchen wiping through dirt and grime to find peace and serenity in the kitchen once again.  After not being able to fall asleep, I decided it was the perfect moment to catch up and tell you all about my trip with Brendon to the midwest. Yes, Brendon and I hit Chicago and Minnesota stopping in Wisconsin to see some friends of mine.

On the first Friday in December Brendon and I took to the air on Virgin America, after that flight I will never be able to look at another airline again. Brendon and I had the whole row to ourselves, which was perfect for sleeping on the early morning flight. We landed in Chicago around noon and decided to find grub, so what in the way of vegan fare does Chicago have…a bounty in fact of delicious fresh food from the midwest.

We started off at Xoco, I was a little nervous going to Mexican food but Rick Bayless is well known and I am always down to taste new food.  I was not disappointed, the people asked me if I wanted a beer while I waited in line to order at this cafe style eat-in restaurant. The food was delicious overall, but the one thing that threw the food off was the intensity of sodium in every bite. My mushroom salad still was incredible, and their salsas were delicious too, I guess you do not have to be in California to enjoy a bit of Mexico. Here’s the menu!

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After a long day of travel we ended up at the boys town bars in Chicago. Is it just me, or is it weird that you can’t dance at the gay bars in Chicago?! We left the next morning for Minnesota but not before enjoying some of the best vegan diner food in the country. The Chicago Diner is a gem, all of the items on their menu can be adapted vegan, and to my surprise it was not a strictly vegan destination. Omnivores flock to the diner for delicious plant based grub, some surprised by the delicious vegan fare. Oh, and you can’t forget the vegan fairtrade milkshakes!

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The trip continues…

 

Mastering Vegan Pizza

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When I first met Brendon he would always ask that I make him pizza. I told him I hated pizza, but the truth was that I always fucked up on the crust when I tried to make it myself! Determined to finally master pizza I have been baking all kinds of pizzas at home. Not only is it cheaper to make your own crust, but its so much healthier.

The trouble with Vegan Pizza is figuring out how to provide the creaminess with the lack of cheese. Having our friends Diana and Natalie over gave me the chance to try out a new recipe I had thought of earlier in the day. Today I made a Vegan Bechamel sauce to add creaminess and threw in a few other items like thinly sliced lemons. LEMONS?!! Yes, Lemons.

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This delicious pie was made with a whole wheat crust with nutmeg. Topped thinly sliced sweet potatoes, red onions, and lemons. A bit of the creamy bechamel, cilantro, sweet corn and Daiya cheese (A tapioca starch cheese that melts great). This is a food orgasm in the mouth, and can be adapted easily to be soy free!

makes two 11 inch pizzas

Ingredients:

For the crust:

20 oz of bread flour (about 4 cups)

12 oz warm water

1 oz of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried yeast

2 tsp salt

1/2-1 tablespoon nutmeg

For the bechamel sauce:

2 1/2 cups milk alternative heated (get something high in fat like fresh almond milk, or unsweetened soy)

4 Tablespoons Earth Balance

4 Tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

fresh ground black pepper

1 head of garlic

For the toppings:

2-3 lemon slices- VERY thin (I used a food processor)

1 red onion sliced thinly

1 yam sliced VERY thin (Again food processor- if cutting by hand make sure your slices are thin)

1 bunch cilantro chopped

1/2 cup Sweet corn

Daiya brand mozzarella vegan cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine the water and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients after 5 min and mix until combined. Then take out of the bowl and knead until you can stretch the dough to being translucent without tearing. Let rest in the bowl for at least 20 min covered by a wet cloth or plastic wrap.

Roast the cut potatoes, onions and peeled garlic in the oven separately until each are tender 15-20 min. Then slice the lemons.

While the Potatoes cook make the béchamel sauce. Heat the milk alternative on the stove over medium heat until cooked through DO NOT BOIL. In a separate pan add the butter over medium heat, once melted add the flour and stir for up to 2 minutes until if forms a thick paste. Add the hot milk alternative to the paste and bring to a boil, then add pepper and reduce heat to a simmer stirring 2-3 minutes more. Once thickened place the sauce and roasted garlic in a blender or a food processor and process until smooth!

At this point you are hungry and have done a lot of work so here is a photo to remind you that what you are doing is well worth it!

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Check on the roasted potatoes and onions at this point! Then up the temperature of the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit! Then proceed to roll out the dough until it fits into your desired pan! If you have 2 pizza sheets or stones you can make them both at once! Once the dough is rolled out poke holes through it and place in the oven until the top is browned 7-10 min. Once browned take out of the oven and place the layers:Pizza

Bake for 6-10 min more until crust is browned and cheese is melted.

Enjoy your hard work!