Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

This weekend we went to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was cute and entertaining, for sure (although, I'm still a little confused by Baby Brent and the birds Flint invented...I think I must have been divvying popcorn during those explanations). We had been excited about this movie coming out for at least 6 months. Because of Tornado's obsession with weather, he loves this book. I sometimes get nervous about books being made into movies, and at first, I was thinking, oh, no this is nothing like the book, but it turned out to be okay that way. And there are many similarities, as Tornado has been pointing out all weekend. There was even a little love story in the movie, just for me.

Before the movie, we had our little CWACOM meal. We picked a few foods from the book. During the meal, we put ourselves into character by saying things like, "I wish it would have rained some juice today; all we have is milk," and "Hope it snows some popcorn later for the movies."

First, though, the kids had worked really hard drawing pictures of food and cutting them out to hang above the table. We taped them to clear "fishing" line, hung from the lights.

Tornado made this sign for the table that said "Welcme to Chewandswallow." We ate peas...
...and a "hurricane of bread," "fifteen-inch drifts of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches," and of course spaghetti (made from quinoa and rice flour - something new we tried; it's rich in protein) and "meat"balls, and mashed potatoes with Earth Balance (..."it's funny, but even as we were sliding down the hill we thought we saw a giant pat of butter at the top, and we could almost smell mashed potatoes."). This was perfect for Tornado because, for some reason, he always wants to eat mashed potatoes with spaghetti. He never gets that combination from me, though, because I'm more of a "cook only one thing per night" kind of mom. Googie always makes them both for him, though.

And a "wonderful Jell-O setting in the west." It wasn't actually Jell-O, of course; it was our gelatin-free Natural Desserts Jel filled with chopped strawberries. The other day we were talking about how we should stop calling it "Jell-O," and I told the kids we need to make up our own name for ours. Dash automatically said, "Jelto." So Jelto (pronounced Jel-toe) it is.
It was Tornado's idea to use this picture he got out of one of his Highlights magazines. I photocopied it to make place mats for everybody.

After a nap - we ALL, every single one of us, went into a deep sleep - we headed to the movies, which is conveniently only a couple of minutes from our house. Ryan was paranoid I was going to get in trouble for my overstuffed purse that contained two bags of organic microwaved popcorn, little popcorn bags for divvying, a container of melted Earth Balance, a salt shaker, napkins, juice boxes, 3 packages of Annie's fruit snacks, a baggie of dark chocolate, a water bottle, and 2 soda bottles for Ryan. (For the record, the kids and Ryan - not me, though - do often eat movie theater popcorn; I was just in a "sick of all the junkfood my kids are always surrounded by" mood this particular day.)

I just wrote a long explanation regarding our recent obsession with Prison Break (we're on season 2; it's what we watch after the kids go to bed) we're always on the "look out" now and suspicious of people and things out of the ordinary (we even sneak up on one another now and jokingly look through each other's belongings) we think we're so smart now about these things, we'd for sure be able to get out of prison or any jam, for that matter...but I deleted it because you might think I've gone a little kooky.

Regardless, sneaking food in the theater is no problem; who did Ryan think he was dealing with here? I had a whole speech prepared about how I would tell them if they know what's best for them, they'd turn and walk in the opposite direction before I call the Consumer Protection Agency over my rights to healthier food and slap them with a lawsuit so big, they'd be ruined! Of course, it didn't really come to that because the theater doesn't even check tickets, let alone for contraband food in unfortunately, I'll have to wait for another opportunity to try out my new, tough street cred...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vegan Doughnuts

Here is a sampling of our homemade vegan doughnuts we made tonight. We used this recipe from VegWeb. I think they turned out great.

Tornado helped me top them with chocolate frosting with and without nuts, glazed and glazed with sprinkles, sugared/jelly-filled, and powdered sugar/jelly-filled. This recipe made a lot of doughnuts, and it was fairly easy. I mean, anytime you work with dough, it's a little bit of work, but the dough turned out so perfect, and I was so focused on...VEGAN DOUGHNUTS!...I didn't mind the extra work. Yummy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Week Long Affair With Daiya

I have a new love...Daiya cheese. The vegetarian world is all abuzz with the news of this product that melts and is actually stringy (stringier, at least, than most vegan cheese) like dairy cheese. I'm also really happy with the ingredients - they use plant based ingredients like cassava. It's soy-free, gluten-free, preservative-free, cholestrol-free, etc. 33% less fat than regular cheese, they say.

Here are some pictures of just a few things I made.

I didn't get a picture of the big, real pizza I made using it.
Here is our olive, pepper, squash bread pizza, though.

more bread pizza with spinach, tomatoes, and the cheddar style Daiya

My whole wheat wrap with melted Daiya, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, salsa, and my other new favorite thing - shelled hempseeds. LOVE them. They are a great source of omega 3 & 6 Essential Fatty Acids and provide all of the essential amino acids (among other things, like iron, folic acid, zinc...a lot of other good stuff). Two tablespoons contain 11 grams of protein. We love to sprinkle them on top of garlic bread.

And I melted it on top of spinach fettucini with a pesto/nutritional yeast sauce, olives, broccoli, hempseeds, beans, and tomatoes (on the side for Dash's sake). I also made grilled cheese sandwiches, a cheesey dip for my tamales, tacos, and quesadillas.
See what it does.

I'm actually getting ready to order some more right now. Much more at once, now that I know you can freeze it.
Can't wait for it to start showing up in stores around here (the extra cold pack/2 day shipping fees add up)...For now, it can be ordered from Vegan Essentials, Pangea, and Cosmos Vegan Shoppe...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Asheville and Laughing Seed Cafe

On our way home from the beach, our second big stop was Asheville, North Carolina. I have visited Asheville a couple of times before, and I love it! If you've never been there, it's a fun place to go. Ryan said it would probably be the perfect city for the two of us to live. Perfect mix of beautiful mountains with the civilization of great restaurants, people, and things to do. The downtown has great shops and places to eat.

I wish we had more time to spend the night/do some things while we were in the area. I figured we could find a good place to eat, at least that would be something. We had caught up with Cary and Andy, who'd made a stop at Duke, his alma mater. They were just finishing up eating in Asheville, too, so they walked over to our place with us.
Dash enjoyed feeding a treat to "Buddy" who happened to be passing by.
We had to wait a half hour or so for our table, but Cary, Andy, and the kids visited with us while we waited.
The restaurant we ate at was called Laughing Seed Cafe, which is one of the favorite vegetarian restaurants in Asheville, I think. I realized as we walked up, I had eaten here before.
It's located on Wall Street, this adorable little street. The kind of street with cute streetlamps, trees, and the sidewalk is even flat with the road. Like if I had to pick a street in the world to live on, this would be a contendor.
Ryan ordered the Wild Mushroom Risotto Cakes - finished with a truffled beet creme and roasted corn relish. Served with seasonal sauteed greens.

It's fun to eat food that is truffled and "finished" with something.

I ordered the hempnut burger...a hearty combination of hempnut and millet, delicately seasoned and served with basil aioli and vegetables...(I'm not making this stuff up; I'm pasting from the menu.)

The kids got rice/bean/tofu/veggie bowls.

It's just really, really hard for me to not order dessert when I'm at a place like this.

Whether I'm hungry or not.

Whether I'm 20 pounds overweight or not.

So I got this delicious coconut cream type pie that had berries on the side.

And a cute little flower stuck in it.

At least I had that to think about when I got back in the car (after spending the night in Knoxville and stopping for lunch at one of the largest Whole Foods I've ever seen...there was even a separate Whole Foods Body store for skincare, clothing, etc.) for another 10 hours of driving (well, riding...somehow - heehee - I managed to make it the whole vacation without driving; thanks, Ryan!) and arrived home to face this...
and this...
and this...
and also this...everything from our car.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vegan in North Carolina

To read more about our trip to Wilmington, visit here.

We went out with Cary, Andy, and the kids one night to Brixx Wood Fired Pizza in Wilmington. After a hummus appetizer, we chowed down on the pizza.

Wood-roasted Vegetable
wild mushrooms, broccoli, onions, peppers, oregano, tomato sauce and vegan cheese

the Rustica
mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and roasted garlic with vegan cheese

After pizza, we went to Luna Pops, a very cute place with cute all-natural popsicles. They even had this little picnic table outside for the kids to sit. I'm holding back from posting the pictures of Cary leading the kids in an impromptu game of Charades. Googie and Papaw got to enjoy a dinner out by themselves. Later that night, Andy and Ryan got to go out to a "guy movie."

One day, just the five of us went on a search for Poplar Grove Plantation, which was built in 1850. Besides giving tours of the house and buildings, etc. on the land, they have a really cute farmers' market.

We only made it for the tail-end because we had a hard time finding the place. I bought some homemade, all-natural foam pump soap, some vegetables, and two precious dresses for Sissy. A lady makes these dresses out of vintage fabrics, lace, embroideries, etc., and I had a really hard time picking out the two I wanted. I wish I could sew better!

Cary and I had found the greatest little health food store called Tidal Creek Co-op early in the trip. I made about four different trips there during the week. It was SO vegan-friendly; I loved it better than Whole Foods.

They had great sandwiches, wraps (unchicken salad wrap with cranberries, etc. - yum!), macaroni salads, and desserts. I consumed several berry sauce- covered cheesecake slices during the week. It had a cookie dough type crust that I'm going to have to try to make.

We picked up food for a picnic on the Poplar Grove estate.

There was a fun little playground on the property, as well. Gee, I feel a little scared now, looking at Sissy up there.
Catch Phrase Champions...I'm sure that Cary and Dad are going to try to argue that they were the champs (and maybe they did end up winning more games one night), but I really feel that my bro-in-law Andy and I are the reigning champions. What I do know is that I loved playing games with the adults after the kids went to bed. Learned a new fun game - Rack-O, and I haven't laughed in awhile as hard and much as I did when we were playing CP...had some pretty funny situations.
Lotta love going on around here...Tornado fell asleep on Uncle Andy just a few minutes after I took this picture.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beach Vacay...One Tree Hill

Wilmington, NC happens to be the home of the largest movie and television production facility east of Los Angeles. Over 300 films such as Firestarter, The Secret Life of Bees, Nights in Rodanthe, Weekend at Bernie's, A Walk to Remember, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Empire Records, and 28 Days, etc. have been filmed here. Cary and I took the studio tour, which included a little video about the history of the studio and the different films and shows that were made here.
This is also where Dawson's Creek (yes, I watched that) was filmed, which is very obvious as you are spending time in downtown Wilmington. Currently, the CW network's One Tree Hill (yes, I also watch that. no, it isn't about high schoolers anymore; they're now professionals in their 20's so it's fine that I watch it :)...) is also filmed here. The sets we visited on the tour were all from OTH - Lucas's house, Peyton's recording studio, Brooke's house, etc...which means nothing to you if you don't watch the show. The tour, which included "inside" trivia, wouldn't be too exciting for someone who doesn't watch One Tree Hill (which I have for 6 seasons so it was pretty fun for me).
Then one day, just down from our condo, they were filming a scene from OTH on Causeway Drive Bridge. Curiously, I went to check it out. I couldn't tell for sure, at first, who was who from far away so a paparazzi guy let me look through his big lens, then I could tell that it was Robert Buckley, (who is new to the show, but he was also on Lipstick Jungle...which I also, it sounds like I watch a lot of television, but I actually really don't - I'm pretty picky about what types of shows I like) standing on the edge. Anyway...
When I walked across the bridge, I also spotted James Lafferty, who plays Nathan Scott on the show. He was directing the scene. Don't worry; I played it cool. ha.
A news reporter asked me if she could interview me regarding my thoughts on watching the scene being filmed. I thought about it for a second...she even gave me ideas about what to say, but I chickened about. I'm self-conscious like that.
Those of you who read about my New York trip probably think I stalk celebrities on all my vacations. But honestly, it was just a coincidence we happened to vacation in another spot with actors milling around. Here's Robert Buckley know, just walkin' right by me; he looks a little stressed here but not because I'm so close taking his picture. :) He actually was smiling as he passed. He was drying off because the pair had to jump off the bridge into the Banks Channel, for the scene. I heard him talking about how fun it was.
Trip adventures to be continued...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beach Vacay Part 1...Atlanta

Our family has returned from a fabulous week in North Carolina. The five of us met up with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law plus their two kids and stayed in a condo on Wrightsville Beach. We drove as far as Birmingham the first night, which was a real accomplishment since we didn't leave town until after 7. The next morning, we stopped in Atlanta.
We ate lunch at Cafe Sunflower, a great-looking place. When we walked in, we were a little like - oh, no - are we dressed nice enough? are our kids going to behave? (Ryan always worries about those things more than I do, though.) We ordered a bunch of food and all kind of shared it, which is always my favorite thing to do. This was the tofu and seaweed appetizer. The seaweed tasted like pasta; it was pretty plain but good!

The only reason I wouldn't give this restaurant perfect marks is I didn't feel totally confident when the waiter would tell me if something was vegan or not. I always feel a bit nervous when they hedge a little. (And I'm not a fan of menus that aren't clearly marked.) I questioned him further about the fried green tomatoes after he told me they use no eggs, and he went back to check; indeed there was eggs in the batter. This spinach artichoke dip was labeled vegan, though, so I was able to enjoy it wholeheartedly (and isn't it so pretty, too?).

When the waiter started to take away the plate with a few olives left, I said, "Oh, wait! They wanted those," and I plucked them right off the plate.

And when I said "they," I really meant "I."

Dash picked the soy nuggets. This was one of things I felt skeptical about whether they were vegan or just vegetarian. If there is any question in my mind, I won't be able to enjoy something. So I didn't try them.

I wish you could have seen Tornado's face light up when they set this plate in front of him. He was very sure he wanted to order the orzo eggplant lasagna (he always wants eggplant anything). It was probably one of the "prettiest" (and largest) meals he's ever had at a restaurant (the lasagna had no noodles; it was layers of vegetables), and he was so excited. I helped him eat some of it, but he did really well putting it down. He kept holding his stomach and uncomfortably moaning, and I reminded him to stop eating if he was full. But he did NOT want to leave any of this delectable dish.
Ryan ordered the BBQ seitan sandwich, green bean fries, and gazpacho.
Sissy got the kids' pasta with broccoli.
We got a little carried away when ordering desserts, especially since they were $6 apiece. (Ryan and I were reminded how much it costs to feed the whole family at a restaurant like this - when we'd rather the kids order the healthier entrees than the so-so kids' meals...and desserts are a must.) We should have just ordered 3 pieces because we were struggling at the end. Poor little skinny Tornado loved that strawberry shortcake so much (it WAS delish) he gave it all he had. My favorite was the key-lime pie. When we were finishing up, a man who had been sitting with other people nearby came up to our table and complimented us on how well-behaved our children were. Ryan and I felt so proud. That hasn't happened too often!! :)

The next morning, these two were the first to wake up (Sissy still had sleepy/cranky eyes.), and they were very anxious for their first glimpse of the beach (since it was dark/bedtime when we arrived). Although Dash was at the beach in California when he was about 20 months old, this was really the first beach trip for either of them, and needless to say, they were READY!