I am produce-less – with 2 baked apples

cooking, Love & Life

I am produce-less.

My Urban Organic delivery never came yesterday…. let me back up

So – According to the company’s website – the way you are supposed to order for the week is to either call their offices between 9am – 5pm or send them an email. So – that’s exactly what I did.

On Tuesday I sent them an email for an order to be delivered on Thursday. They request that orders be submitted before 3pm the day before the delivery – so my due date would be by 3pm on Wednesday.

No email confirmation.

I then continued to call their office multiple times over the next 3 days, trying to get a confirmation that someone had received my order request. I also sent them ANOTHER email through their website form.

No response.

Now – the delivery window is any time between 2:30pm – 10:30pm. (10:30pm? SERIOUSLY?) So – giving them the benefit of the doubt – I diligently watched Princess & The Frog on the Disney channel until 10:45 – hoping against hope – that the delivery would show up.

Bupkiss.

This morning – I check my email

I get an email from these people at 2:16AM

2:16AM!!

The service is based out of midtown Manhattan – I know these people are in the same time zone as me! What the heck are they doing at 2:16AM? 

They proceed to tell me “Sorry this email was missed. We scheduled you for delivery next week”.

whoawhoawhoa – someone please explain to me how a business is run, where orders come IN via email – but they MISS/DON’T CHECK their email? How does that make sense? Am I nuts?

Now – I am produce-less.

While I DID, incidentally, purchase 2 granny smith apples yesterday during my lunch hour, they were unceremoniously dumped into the garbage after I opened the bag upon coming home, to find they were BROWN, MUSHY and BAKED from the heat of my  car.

I’m not lying to you people – I BAKED these apples, I cut them open and they were brown all the way through. Who knew you could bake apples in an automobile!?

Back to my produce-problem –

When LB gets food she doesn’t like – she flips the bowl over. I wish I could have done that to Urban Organic! 😦

After actually doing some research, (which I admittedly should have done in the first place) on Yelp! – I realized I was not the first, or the only person to have a problem with Urban Organic. Every review was negative, lost & wrong orders, late deliveries – one guy had a box that was infested with bugs! I’m a tree-hugging animal lover, but even I think that’s gross!
So I emailed them back and cancelled my order. I’m also going to call and try to get a human on the phone, not their conveniently-full answering machine. Sigh – so much for that.

But on the subject of CSAs – there is one out of Westchester that still has spots open. $30/week until Oct – but it’s mostly greens, (there’s A LOT of greens) so I’d still have to supplement my order with farmer’s market/store bought fruits. This is a real community program – it’s been going on for 3 years so it has an established base of members.

What are the thoughts on that? Worth it?

They are associated with a farm in CT called, “Chubby Bunny Farms” – and you all know how I feel about bunnies….
I think it’s a good sign. 🙂

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Italian Comfort Food – Vegan Version

cooking, Love & Life, recipe, Vegan

After my Vegan Dinner #Fail yesterday – I wasn’t ready to be beaten by the kitchen just yet. I peeled myself off my mattress last night (it was only 8:30 folks – I’m such an old lady) and headed back to the battlefield.

Last Saturday I bought these 2 beautiful tomatoes from a local mom&pop store in a neighboring town. The first went to the awesome arugula salad, & I made my second favorite Italian comfort food (ICF) with the other.

Obviously, my first favorite ICF is my family’s homemade pasta, sauce & meatballs. You cannot do anything for the rest of the day after you eat it, because it takes a solid 8 hours for the bowling ball of carbohydrates to leave your stomach – but it’s so worth it. Every plate licking calorie. The pasta is so good that even our dogs eat it. No joke.

My second favorite ICF is stuffed vegetables – specifically artichokes & tomatoes. My Nonni (Italian grandmother) was the resident cook, and she used to make these for me – if I asked nicely. My Nonni passed away in 2006 – and one of my last memories of her, as the healthy, loving and vital Non she was – was sitting in her kitchen as she baked me a tray of stuffed tomatoes. 🙂

As the cruddy cook I was/am – I never thought stuffed tomatoes were in my realm of ability. They looked so fancy & foo-foo – I thought I would ruin them for sure.

UNTIL! I went to North Carolina and my aunt offered to teach me. I was stoked! I was all prepared with a pad of paper and my cooking hat – to master the finesse & tact required to tackle such an illustrious task as “the stuffed tomato”

……until I realized how dead-a$$ easy they are to make.

Here it is folks – ICF: Vegan Style!

Step 1: Purchase tomatoes. Cut off the little green stems and cut tomatoes in half. Not longways – sideways – this is important.
Step 2: Pick up half of tomato. Mush it. Seriously – pretend you are making a fist around the tomato. This will get messy – but all the little seed pockets will loosen up.
Step 3: Fling your wrist into the sink – without letting go of the tomato! (This does require some practice) But the point is to launch some of the tomato seed pockets into the sink. You can also achieve this in a slightly more civilized manner by using a spoon & removing the seeds.
Step 4: Once each half is seedless – set aside.
Step 5: Make the filling. Dump some breadcrumbs into a bowl (Note: to healthify this – use Panko crumbs, 1/2 crumbs & 1/2 flax seed, really anything that will get a nice crust when baking). Add some parsley flakes & garlic (I used minced – hey – I’m resourceful) and whatever seasoning you’ve got lying around.
Step 6
: Add some EVOO – probably like – 3 or 4tbs (we’re not big on measurements in my family apparently…) Again – to healthify – flax seed & water should do the same thing. Mix well with a fork until the crumbs make a crunchy sort of sound. (again – we don’t do specifics in my family… just mix well – you’ll be fine)
Step 7: Fill the tomatoes! Use a wooden spoon to fill and round the tops of the tomatoes

Pre-Baking

Bake the tomatoes at 350 for about 10 minutes – depending on the type of oven you have. They’re done when the filling turns golden brown.

now – STOP! DO NOT EAT TOMATOES ONCE DONE COOKING!!!

Seriously – eat 1, and only 1 tomato out of the oven. Cover the other(s) and put in fridge overnight. They better the next day!

Reheat for 1 minute in the microwave the next day.

Enjoy perfection on a plate. ❤

Vegan Dinner Fail – The First of Many

cooking, recipe, Vegan

Had my first “dinner dump” tonight.

I was just going to sauté up some leftover rainbow chard & these cool little do-dad veggies called garlic scapes (scrapes? Creapes?) I don’t know – but they are basically garlic flowers that you pick and eat. Yet another farmer’s market find!

In a moment of genius (read: stupidity) I thought I could make an impromptu stir-fry/simmer sauce with a little bottle of rasberry wasabi dipping mustard (Homegoods “gourmet” foods isle – delicious!).

So – I heated up some minced garlic and threw the mustard in the sauté pan. I used some flax seed & water – because I read somewhere that that combo can be used as a thickening agent. I also figured the water would give it enough liquid to “cook down” (I have no idea if I’m using these terms correctly -FYI)

I’ll be honest – my rainbow chard was less than fresh. It was sort of wilty – not slimy and brown – just wilted.

This did not transfer well into the pan.

Not only did the chard take on a mushy, snot-like texture – but there was zero – yes – ZERO taste from my mustard concoction. What a waste of perfectly good mustard. The garlicky things were ok – they stayed nice and crispy.

To the garbage it went – and I ate a grilled red pepper.

Sigh -you win some you lose some!

However – Last night’s turnip was a triumph! I think they’re called Japanese White Turnips – and I chopped off the top leafy things and the long tendrils on the bottom and roasted them with olive oil & Italian seasoning at 400 degrees, until they turned brown & tender. They sort of had the consistency of the bottoms of broccoli – the stem part. I paired them with a cut up tomato and the awesome arugula for a salad

Roasted Turnips!

The “awesome arugula” salad!

It’s admittedly easier for me to watch what I put into my body, than what I do with my body. I loathe exercising. Seriously. It’s the bane of my existence. I hate it. I hate everything about it – the sweat, the other people, the heat, the uber perky instructors, did I mention the sweat?

It doesn’t help that I’ve had regular & reoccurring pain in my knees during my exercise of choice – running. I’m getting to the point where even sitting in my desk (with my legs bent) all day is starting to bother me. I stopped running – aside from hating it – but to keep myself from doing any more damage.

While Bikram, or “sit & sweat”, as I refer to it – was nice, it was a logistical nightmare to get to classes after work. What to do, what to do?

My local YMCA was offering a summer special – a discounted rate for 3 months of unlimited access. And they have something my gym didn’t –

A POOL.

What the heck – I signed up.

This morning I swam laps for the first time in, probably 10 years.

I. Was. A. Mess.

Just as an FYI – running prepares you for NOTHING – other than more running. Seriously – I was stopping in between laps, my arms are still aching, ermagahd – ouch.

Totally didn’t help that the Senior Citizens were kicking A$$ in the lanes next to me. It felt like it did during my first 5K when I got lapped by the mom with the tandem stroller… running….uphill…

Again – you win some, you lose some. I went to Dick’s tonight & got a swim cap & goggles. If I can’t ACT the part – I might as well LOOK it!

A Mango Mess, Awesome Arugula & Spinach/Potato Rounds

cooking, recipe, Vegan

When we last checked in on the Broke Vegan (moi) I had just received my first ever Urban Organic delivery. Since we spoke – I tackled the corn cobs that were in the basket. A co-corn-conspirator suggested microwaving an ear for 2/3 minutes (silk removed) then grilling over my gas stove (i.e. open flame).

I removed the husk and (what I thought) all the hairy, silky stuff on the inside. Little did I realize that there are nearly transparent hair like thingys that remain on the corn – even though they are practically invisible to the naked eye. No harm, no foul, until these little tendrils started popping on my corn – nearly giving me a heart-attack and (almost) dropping my corn onto the stove.

Open flame + corn on the cob = popcorn attack & smoke alarm.

While I manged to not set my apartment on fire, it may take a little more practice for me to become a corn-handler extraordinaire.

My Spinach & Potato rounds came out much better (see photo) – Dead easy –

1. Peel & boil potatoes (*Rookie mistake warning – put potatoes in pot BEFORE water reaches scalding temperatures. Dropping hefty potato chunks in boiling liquid results in splatter and kitchen panic)
2. Cook spinach until wilted in pan
3. Once potatoes are half way between firm & mushy (about 6 minutes) – drain & let cool for a minute or two

4. Mash & mix potatoes & spinach in bowl. Pat yourself on the back for getting a good arm work out 🙂

Spinach & Potato rounds – The Mixture
I also froze some of these in rounds for later baking – I’ll figured they were just like alternative french fries – so they should be ok!

5. Roll into balls.
6. Bake until brown.
7. Serve with marinara sauce (like any good Italian)

Delicious right out of the oven! You can reheat either in the microwave or the oven. Oven = crispy & Microwave = mushier

The final unknown ingredient in the delivery was a mango. Yes – I’ve had mango before – however, I’ve never actually prepared one.

 

If you’ve never peeled/prepped a mango – be prepared for a seriously disappointing first attempt. My mango cutting skills are abysmal – I ended up with some mashed, mush of fruit on my cutting board – nothing like the firm, tender pieces that decorate my seaweed salad from my favorite sushi place. Don’t get me wrong – I still ate it. I actually ate the entire thing right off the cutting board. Mango falling through my fingers and all. Aside from looking like fruit road kill – it still tasted great.

Sigh – getting another in next week’s delivery – cross your fingers for a better show!

In addition to the Urban Organic delivery – I also visited a local farmer’s market on Saturday and found the most amazing arugula. Yeah – I just used bold font here – it’s well warranted. The people selling it said it was a mixture of 2 types of wild arugula – I legit have never tasted a more delicious, peppery, nom-licious green. I’ve been eating it out of the bag like potato chips.

Can you make arugula chips?! Must investigate….

I also bought some white Japanese turnips – which, according to the farmers – are amazing roasted.

I have never eaten a turnip. Ever. In my life.

My experience with turnips is limited to the chapter in the Molly American Girl book where Molly can’t leave the table until she finishes her turnips. (Anyone? Anyone else know what I’m talking about?!)

Needless to say I’ll be tackling those tonight!

It was a Vegetarian Christmas!

cooking, Vegan

Peeps! – Yesterday my first order of Urban Organic came! WHOOO!

So – for those unfamiliar – Urban Organic is a semi-local home delivery service for organic fruits & vegetables. I say “semi-local” because the company gives as much of their business to local farmers as possible – however – they do buy bulk from organic farms all around the country. I’d been looking for a CSA local to Westchester County NY – but it’s been hard. Most farms are in southern NJ and VERY expensive. But if I’m wrong – and someone out there knows of a good CSA in my area – please let me know!!

ANYWAYS –

I knew what I was getting – (they post the list weekly) – but I didn’t know how much I was getting. I ordered the “Original Box” (see photo)- which is supposed to feed 2-3 people. (Read: 1 vegan & a bunny)

No lie – when I opened that box I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Like I had told Santa what I wanted, and even though he SAID he’d bring me what I wanted – I wasn’t 100% sure.

Remember that feeling?!

It. was. GLORIOUS.

I got:

Rainbow Chard – who knew it was really that pretty?!

CORN
CARROTS
BROCCOLI

GREEN LEAF LETTUCE
RUSSET POTATOES
RAINBOW CHARD
KALE

VALENCIA ORANGES
NECTARINES
CAMEO APPLES
BANANAS
GRAPEFRUIT
MANGO
PACKHAM PEARS

FYI – this whole box cost me $40 – including shipping & handling! Considering I spend about $55 a week on groceries – I think this is a pretty good deal – I break even and feel better about where/what I’m buying.

While I consider myself an equal opportunity food lover – I’d never had chard. So obviously that was the first thing I made for dinner.

I found a recipe online for sauteed spinach & chard with garlic. I also threw some kale in there for good measure (considering I detest Kale juice). Like any good Italian – I think everything tastes better smothered in marinara sauce – but I managed to restrain myself.

Wow – this looks REALLY unappealing – must take photos in better light 🙂

Seasoned with Indian spices, lemon, ginger & garlic – it was pretty good! Chard stems sort of have the texture of celery – and there was a little bit of bitterness (curse you Kale!) but it was definitely something I’d make again. Sans the lemon juice though – it was a bit overwhelming for me.

Waring: this recipe is very, VERY ahem – “cleansing” – (if you will). Just a heads up

I’ve got a plan for pretty much everything in the box – the fruit I can eat whole, and the greens go either in juices or sauteed for dinner. I found this DANK looking recipe on this cool new website called Instructables (has anyone else heard of this?! All the instructions have photos!! There’s a whole vegan/vegetarian section!!) for (brace yourself)

Fat Free Vegan Potato Spinach Balls.

I don’t know the brilliant mind who created these – but I cannot wait to make them! How delicious do they look?! It seems like an easy way to get rid of the potatoes without having to mash ’em.

The only item I’m really struggling with is two ears of sweet corn. I don’t have an outside grill, but I do have a gas stove, so I could technically grill them. Does anyone have a good suggestion for what to do with them?

On a totally unrelated note – I lost 2.5 of the 5lbs I gained over vacation this week. 🙂

Anyone know what to do with Rainbow Chard?

cooking, Vegan

Aside from still reeling from my “bender” – I’m trying to recover with juicing most of this week. Although this afternoon they did have edamame in the cafeteria – so edamame and a fruit juice it was! (I can’t resist those little pods!)

Keep calm and juice on – isn’t that the saying?

Feet & the Outer Banks

Tomorrow is an veg-tastic day folks – I’m getting my first delivery from Urban Organic – an semi-local organic grocery delivery service! From their website:

  • Here’s how Urban Organic works: We bulk-b uy our produce, groceries and dairy goods from organic farmers’ cooperatives, distributors and individual farmers. We try to give our local farmers as much of our business as possible. All of our supplies are certified organic by the USDA, whose stringent standards ensure that no chemicals have been used in the production process. All of our produce and groceries are Certified Organic!

The idea of someone else doing my grocery shopping always weirded me out for some reason (I’m looking at you PeaPod) but I don’t get the same vibe from Urban Organic. Probably because my “box” isn’t specific to me – it’s whatever is in season. The luck of the agricultural draw, if you will.

This week’s box consists of:

Corn / Carrots / Broccoli / Green Leaf Lettuce / Russet Potatoes / Rainbow Chard / Kale / Valencia Oranges / Nectarines / Cameo Apples / Bananas / Grapefruit / Mango / Packham Pears

That’s A LOT of produce.
Whelp – no choice but to dive right in, right!? Does anyone know what to do with rainbow chard?!

Food Bender: A Screen Play

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Scene opens girl lying on bed, comatose

Alarm blasts obnoxiously

“RIIING! RIIING! Here’s your real world wake up call of AGONY! RIIING!!”

Girl mumbles in veg-esque state. Slaps alarm.

Alarm continues it’s unrelenting attack on her oratory senses

“RIIING! RIIING! Monday post vacation!- you have to WORK TODAY!! RIIING!!

Girl rolls over onto especially bloated stomach. Manages to silence alarm by ripping phone out of socket. Collapses back into sheets

Girl rubs eyes….

Murhshuerourrrpp – where am I? What happened to me?”

Cut to Flashbacks Scene:
Granola & dried fruit
Oreos & Father’s Day Ice Cream cake
Potatoes
Fried…. fried life
Pasta
Shellfish
….didn’t mean to eat that…..
Homemade Italian Meatballs…(REALLY didn’t mean to eat those either)
Bread. Lots of Bread. Loaves of Bread. Garlic, Wheat, Potato, Multigrain
Peanut Butter crackers
Custard
(which wasn’t even that good!)
1/2 Krispy Kreme Donut

Girl groans

Ugggghhhh…….”

Girl stumbles into bathroom & comes face to face with her worst fear. Lets out an inadvertent cry of horror

5lbs?! AHHHH!!! NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”

Girl sinks into fetal position on a bathroom floor (which is in serious need of a washing)

WHY?! What happened to my good-health/happy vegan/no animal products life style?!”

Cut to:Image of big, happy Italian family pushing meat & potatoes onto girl’s plate with guilt-filled puppy dog eyes.

Camera flys out above girl

NOOOOOO!!!!”

Shellfish: The Zombies of the Animal Kingdom?

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Question: What’s pink, purple and yellow all over?

Answer: ME!

I painted my fingernails BRIGHT pink last night, and my toes a pastel purple to get OBX ready! And I’m a blonde, so I have, like, yellow hair all over my body….

Ok – so it’s a stretch, but you knew were I was going with that.

Ladies & Gentlemen – the countdown is currently at T-minus 24 hours until I depart for OBX and I could NOT be more excited. I am in desperate need for a vacation – I haven’t taken a day off from work since Christmas.

Seriously.

And I got to tell you something folks – I SHOULD be nervous about going away, not having my schedule, not bringing & cooking my own food.

But I’m not. (Oh the sacrilege!)

My uncle, who is legitimately  referred to as “King of the Grill” sent out the menu for the week. And, while there are pot-holes of indulgence, it’s certainly reasonable. I’m planning on making a grocery store run for vegan burgers & bread, and bringing some of my own snacks from home. There’s always fresh fruit in the house for breakfast, we’re having a salad every night, and there’s always vegetables on the grill.

SPEAKING OF! People – especially those of you who a) have a grill or b) have a gas stove like moi – Have you ever roasted a whole red pepper over an open flame? (a la marshmallow style?) I tried it last night – I just plopped the whole pepper on top of that grate thingy, right over the flame. I flipped it (with tongs, don’t burn yourself) every few seconds until there were some decent black char marks. No joke: I cut it up and ate the entire thing like an apple. Seriously – no sauce, no spices – it was warm and smokey and delicious. Do yourself a favor and try it!

Back to OBX –

My eating practice is based on two rules, “Eat without violence” (which includes being violent towards the earth – processed foods that have large carbon footprints and are unsustainable are a no-no) and Mr. Graham Kellogg’s (yes, the frosted flakes dude) “If it can run away, don’t eat it”.

I love seafood, and while it’s easy to ignore it here at home (I just don’t buy it and I don’t normally trust seafood prepared commercially) I know it will be tougher in North Carolina. All the seafood will be freshly caught from the local fishermen (we actually buy from the equivalent of a fish farmer’s market) and I know that a) these scallops were never anyone’s pet & b) where the food came from, who caught it, when they caught it and how it’s being prepared.

Scallops, Mussels, Clams and Oysters can’t run away – but they are animals. They don’t have brains – but they do have a rather simplistic central nervous system that, while it can’t “feel” pain – it does register it as something to avoid. They are basically like animal zombies. I can make the argument not to eat shrimp and lobster and swimming fishes – those have eyes and definable “animalistic” characteristics – you have to actively hunt them to eat them. They can run away.

“True” shellfish (as I’m referring to them) are harvested. They just hang out on rocks and stuff, and humans come over and pluck them out like little potatoes. But I guess they’d run away if they could too. And so would potatoes…

This is why I’m so hesitant to put a label, “vegan”, “vegetarian”, “lacto/ova-vegetarian”, “pescatarian”, “fruititarian” etc on myself. It’s so restrictive – as soon as you put yourself in a box – you start finding opportunities to question the parameters, and an sweeping categorization of people & their beliefs isn’t really accurate.

What’s a conscious eater to do!?

Chocolate Vegan Ice Cream

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Sorry folks – had this one sitting in the “drafts” folder for a while now…

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The following recipe is both delicious and idiot proof, two requirements for anything I undertake in the kitchen. It came from 84th & 3rd–  a great website for people who are interested in “clean” baking. And by “great” – I mean mind-blowingly awesome and I want to make every single recipe listed.Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 bananas (depending on the size of the ‘nan)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder*
  • chocolate chips (optional)
  • maple syrup or vanilla extract (optional)

Steps:

  1. Chop and freeze ‘nans (takes anywhere between 1-3 hours, depending on how arctic your freezer is)
  2. Once the ‘nans are frozen, mix ‘nans, avocado and salt in a food processor until silky smooth. (Insert optional ingredients here)
  3. Mix in cocoa powder with spoon (re-blend if you’re lazy like me and don’t feel like hand-mixing)
  4. Beat off your other family members as you fight to lick the spatula
  5. Re-freeze in a shallow(esque), wide container. It helps if, while it freezes, you mix it every hour or so – just to break up any ice crystals.
  6. Lock freezer from hungry family. Keep the combination to yourself.

Once it’s sufficiently frozen, let ice cream defrost for 15/20 minutes for ease of scooping. Or, you know, just put your face in it.

ENJOY WITHOUT GUILT!

Love, your friendly neighborhood choco-holic vegan

*In the first batch I made, I only used 1/8 of a cup of cocoa powder – not cutting it. Go for the full 1/4 cup.

Who is The Broke Vegan?

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Welcome to The Broke Vegan – a newly revamped, rethought, and revived blog fueled by brain fodder and all things green.

Lady Bug – about 2 days after she came to live with me!

I’m a 20-something living outside of New York City – and food is my drug.

My choice to become vegan started with a rabbit.

In March of 2012 I rescued (or was rescued, depending on who you talk to) by a bundle of brown, black and white fur named Cab. Renamed Lady Bug by yours truly, I could never really look at meat the same way again. Lady Bug is a sentient being – she has thoughts and emotions – happiness, fear, curiosity, impatience, “bunny-zen” (as I call it) and irritation. (yes – rabbits can get irritated). Their emotions may not be as developed as ours, but believe me – they have them.

There are some places in the world where LB would be considered a delicacy – as juvenile as it sounds – I stopped eating meat as soon as I brought her home. I just couldn’t stomach (pun intended) the thought of eating someone else’s pet!

Let me be clear – I’m not thrilled about slapping the “vegan” label on myself. While I pride myself on fighting the stigma that the word “vegan” carries outside our veg-head community, to me – it’s about being a compassionate person. Compassionate to other people, (other “beings” if you will), compassionate to myself and to our Mother Earth.

My life outside my plate consists of a full time job in a (nicely decorated) cube, an attempt at a Bikram yoga practice, a Masters Degree (8 classes to go!) my wonderfully supportive and carnivorous family, and darling boyfriend DC – who bravely eats any and all my veg-head concoctions with a smile and a nod (unless there are olives involved – then I’m on my own).

I can’t promise I’ll be perfect – but I can promise I’ll be interesting!

Here we go!