First Christmas Tree

Last Sunday Sam and I decided to get a tree.  Really, I decided I wanted a tree a week earlier and when I told him, he thought it could be fun.  And then we went drinking with his friend that happens to sell Christmas Greens who told us he could get a free tree.  Soooo, obviously it had to happen!  So Sunday, we made the trek out to Teufel’s to grab a tree.  Strapping it to the top of my car was the easy part!  No problems at all.

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We bought a tree stand from Fred Meyer’s thinking it would be fine, but when we got the tree home to put it in the stand was too small for the tree trunk.  We tried to mess around with it, but it was not working.  We had to head to my parents’ house to grab the decorations, so we figured we’d pick up a wood saw and use it to cut the trunk down to fit in the tree stand.  So off we went while the tree sat on our balcony.

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When I told my dad our tree stand dilemma he laughed.  He’s had the same problem in the past and said they just went out and bought a much bigger tree stand.  So Sam and I, reluctantly, went to Lowe’s in hopes of finding a bigger tree stand.  Success!  I still have to return the shitty one to Fred’s.  But anyway.  We had all the ornaments and lights and tree stand and now I needed a tree skirt.  We made a quick stop at Jo-Ann’s Fabric store and I got a couple yards of red fabric with gold Polka Dots (of course) and made our way home.  We got the tree set up in almost no time, put on my Pandora Christmas station (seeded with John Lennon’s Holiday album, not shitty pop Christmas music), drank some Brut Cidre from Trader Joe’s, and decorated the tree.  I was so happy and it felt so nostalgic since I used all my old ornaments, many of which I made as a kid.  Here’s the finished product (with an Instagram filter… not sorry)

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Then we got take-out from Pacific Pie because getting a tree is hard work!  And then I baked cookies because I felt all Christmas-y and needed some sugar.

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Best vegan cookies I have made.  From Angela’s OhSheGlows cookbook of course.  Peanut butter and earth balance with coconut sugar and natural cane sugar.  Oh, and they’re gluten free too, so I can share with my mommy.  If you have not bought her book, do it.  And then bake these cookies.

Let the holiday season begin!

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?  Have you set up your Christmas tree yet?

Tamales

Wow, I meant to post about the tamales I made like… two weeks ago.  Oops.  Anyway!  Vegan tamales are a rare thing to come by, so making them myself is the best option to satisfy my tamale cravings.  Yes, I have tamale cravings.  Unfortunately, my laziness trumped my cravings up until recently.  I’ve had Naturally Ella’s tamale recipe pinned for over a year!!  I can’t believe it took me that long to make them, but I am so glad I did because it was one of the best meals I’ve made and is really easy! Time consuming, but nearly impossible to screw up.

Leftovers for lunch, all wrapped up.

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Unwrapped.

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Up close and personal.

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And covered in sauce

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Yum.  Looking at these photos makes me wish I had some more leftovers for lunch today!

I only changed the recipe by reducing the peppers in the filling from 4 to 2 and reducing the coconut oil to probably about 1/3 cup.  They still tasted amazing and were plenty spicy even for my spicy-food-loving boyfriend.  I already have plans to make these for my christmas family get-together and I cannot wait.  If you have been hesitating to make tamales, don’t!  Just set aside a 90 minute chunk of time and DO IT.

What food are you scared of trying to make?

Baked sweet potato with farro and pumpkin hummus

 

This “recipe” isn’t much of a recipe.  But this was such a comfort food kind of meal for me that I decided I needed to share it anyway.  The pumpkin hummus is from loveandlemons and I love it. It is a great way to use up extra pumpkin sitting in the fridge.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Baked Sweet Potato with Farro and Pumpkin Hummus

serves 3

 

3 med-large sweet potato

1 cup uncooked farro

1 recipe pumpkin hummus, makes extra

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF
  • Wash sweet potatoes and poke holes all over them with a fork.  Place on a baking sheet (lined with tin foil or parchment paper if you like) and roast for about 45 minutes, until sweet potatoes are completely cooked.
  • While sweet potatoes are baking, bring a pot of water to boil and add the farro.  I like to cook the farro like pasta so no need to measure out the water.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, until farro is tender and then drain in a colander.
  • Place chopped walnuts on another baking sheet (I used my mini toaster oven one) and place in the oven with the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes until toasty and brown.  Keep an eye on them, they burn easily at the high temperature!
  • If you’re super talented at multi-tasking, you can also make the hummus at this point.  I made it ahead of time so I wouldn’t burn anything 🙂
  • To assemble: slice the sweet potato almost completely in half, add farro on top, then a generous serving of hummus (like 1/4 cup) and a sprinkle of toasted walnuts.  Dig in!
  • For leftovers (lunch): store hummus and walnuts separately so that the sweet potato and farro can be warmed up before topping.

What’s your favorite comfort food this time of year?

5 years

So, we went to Seattle! Over a week ago.  Better late than never though, right?

Sam and I decided to take the train up to Seattle for our 5 year anniversary to spend the weekend.  We took Friday off and left in the morning.  I love the train station.  They still have payphones!

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The weather was gorgeous and the scenery was beautiful the entire train ride.

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I didn’t take any pictures the first night… fail.  We checked into our hotel and then walked to lunch at Elysian Pub so we could have some tasty pumpkin beer.  The food was okay, but obviously it’s all about the beer.  We stopped at a bookstore and wandered around for a while before deciding it was too cold to stay outside.  We had a small hotel room at the Panama hotel (historic building) so we didn’t spend much time there.  Instead we found a bar that had a fire and got some wine and settled in for a while.  After we had been there a while we decided we should move on and while walking saw a bowling alley and had to go in a play a few games.  It was so much fun to just be spontaneous in the city.  He helped me out with some tips and I even got a strike!  Afterwards I was starving and we walked to Oddfellows for some dinner.  I asked what was vegan and they were very accommodating – I had a butternut soup and a salad with avocado and other goodies.  Sam had a mushroom risotto that looked pretty tasty.  Our phones both died, but we managed to make it back to our hotel alive and we passed out.

The next morning we slept in a bit before walking just over 2 miles to brunch.  We (I) decided on Cafe Flora, a delicious little cafe that is all vegetarian and very vegan friendly.  Again, I didn’t photograph the food, but I photographed the important things: coffee and Sam 🙂

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We started out with a vegan biscuit and gravy (to split) and I got their cornmeal waffle with apple compote and granola crumbles and it was so good! Sam had the “rustic” french toast with pears which he also said was good.  I would go back in a heartbeat – there was a little fountain, great coffee, and good service.  We then continued our walk around the city.  Luckily the weather was insanely beautiful (although cold) the entire time making our mode of transportation ideal.

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We had lunch at Roy’s Street coffee shop where we stopped and read for a while.  It was a great coffee shop to hang out in and we really enjoyed the big windows and comfy seating even though it was pretty crowded. Continuing our walk we saw a random tree in the middle of downtown: love it.

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Then we decided to hike out to the Olympic Sculpture Park.  I had never been, but it was such a cool spot to go wander around.  Again, the gorgeous weather helped.

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It was our anniversary, so we decided to go to Plum Bistro – one of the most well-known vegan restaurants in Seattle.  Sam (very not vegan) must really love me since he agreed to go.  We split a bottle of wine and started with their “mac ‘n’ yease” which was good, but rich.  For dinner I had an herb rubbed seitan steak with pumpkin and beans and flash fried spinach.  It was good, but again, really rich.  I’m not used to such heavy foods.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from having a brownie with ice cream for dessert.  Plum Bistro was good, but I’m not sure it’s worth all the hype.  It was also a tiny restaurant so we felt like we were basically sitting with our neighbors.

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After dinner we walked home streamed an episode of the Office on Sam’s tablet.  There was no TV in the hotel room.  But we had walked about 10 miles that day so we really just fell asleep.

The final morning we had plenty of time to hang out and get brunch because our train didn’t leave until 2pm.  We went to Cafe Pettirosso, which was another really good brunch spot.  I had a vegan breakfast hash with fall vegetables and I forget what Sam had.  Although this was a great spot, the coffee (we got drip) was seriously lacking.  We had to stop at another coffee shop afterwards just so I could get my fix of good coffee (we went to a Cafe Vita).  We continued to walk around, got lunch to-go for the train from Homegrown, and made one more stop at a coffee shop (Zeitgeist Kunst & Kaffee) before getting back on the train.

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Homegrown sandwich with kale, butternut, apple butter and maple on rustic bread. Yummy.

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And then the train ride home!  Overall a really fun weekend.  It was nice to get away and spend some quality time with each other doing whatever the hell we wanted to!  I’m behind on my blogging goal of 1 post a week so hopefully I’ll post again this week to try and make up for it… I’ve made up a couple recipes/meals that I should probably share.  Plus Thursday is Thanksgiving and that’s my favorite holiday!!

Have you ever taken the train on a vacation? Where to?

Mango

So, I think it’s time I introduced you to Mango.  Mango is my loveable and fat orange kitty cat.  She always wants food and she tells you so.  She also tends to ram her head into things – anything really.  She does it so much that her fur is thinning on top of her head, silly cat.  She makes me laugh all the time, no matter how bad of a mood I am in.  Cats are the greatest!  So, here are some of my favorite pictures of her.

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Are you a cat person?  Because if you aren’t, I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore.  Just kidding (maybe).

Date-sweetened apple oatmeal

Good morning and happy November!  I was up bright and early this morning because I did nothing for Halloween.  I mean I did something – drank two Jubelales and watched TV until I fell asleep.  Party animal right here.  We did have a work party on Thursday, so I did party a little bit.  There was even beer!

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Anyway, back to today.  This morning I didn’t know what to eat for breakfast and since I had no plans I decided I should make something other than my typical toast and fruit.  Especially since I didn’t have any almond butter made and didn’t want to disturb my neighbors at 6:30am the morning after halloween with my food processor.  You’re welcome neighbors.

I decided to make something with apples and started looking around at recipes and decided that I needed a nice warm bowl of oats.  I used Angela’s Apple Pie Oatmeal (from the OhSheGlows cookbook) for inspiration, but made due with what I had and used a big date to sweeten the oatmeal instead of maple syrup.  And then I sat on my balcony in my cozy robe and ate in peace.  Great way to start the weekend and the month.

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Date-sweetened apple oatmeal

serves 1

 

1/2 cup oats

1/2 apple, chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk

1 large date, chopped into little pieces

couples shakes of cinnamon

pinch of salt

1-2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped

  • Place all ingredients except the walnuts into a small saucepan and add 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Top with walnuts and serve warm with strong black coffee

 

What did you do for Halloween?

Mushroom Picking

Mushrooms are beautiful.  Yesterday I went mushroom picking at Gale’s Creek Campground – it was my first time mushroom picking/hunting and I loved it!!  It was extremely wet, like pouring down rain when we got there, but that didn’t stop us.  We were looking for Chanterelles and found quite a few!

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I think they look like creatures from the bottom of the ocean.

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I can’t wait to try them in some meals.  I am planning to try out a chanterelle lentil soup recipe from Green Kitchen Stories with my mom and grandma this week (dinner with grandma – making progress on my 23 list).  Tonight Sam and I made dinner together (!!!) and cooked the mushrooms with white wine, shallots, lemon juice, earth balance, thyme, s + p and tossed them with fresh pasta and arugula.  It was pretty good and I’m still amazed that we found the food we made our dinner with.

Have you ever gone mushroom hunting/picking?  What did you find?