Yesterday I talked about wanting to tell more people about the products that helped me lose weight. When you sign up to be able to sell products, they tell you to have a party and invite your friends. That would work if everyone you know locally wasn’t in the room with you when you learned about the product. What do you do then?
That’s the spot I found myself in. I literally didn’t know anyone else to invite to a party. All my family lives a few hours away. If I want to sell products, I need to do it online.
I’ve also always been interested in people who build passive income streams online. I’ve read their information but while I understand it in theory I’ve never quite understood how to make it work for me.
So I’m taking a course on online marketing. One of the things I’m doing is starting a Facebook page to talk to other people who are running home businesses to see what is working for them. I’m going to be having interviews and I’m doing Facebook lives about what I’m learning. If you also are part of a network marketing company, I’d love to interview you!
Back in April I went to a party that a coworker was throwing for Arbonne. I’d never heard of the company but I went to be supportive.
The company has several lines of products including skin care and nutrition. At the time I was working out 5 days a week and steadily gaining weight. I was actually getting pretty scared. I knew I was heading into perimenopause and it was just going to get harder to lose weight. I couldn’t stop the gaining! This wasn’t gaining muscle either. It was fat.
They have a program called 30 Days to Healthy Living. You get a huge box of products to use for 30 days to jump start weight loss. I’ve always been hugely dismissive of meal replacement shakes. I wasn’t going to do that. I get hungry. But, I was desperate and there was a money back guarantee if I wasn’t happy. (Also, the presenter said that she made her shakes at night for the next day. I don’t know why that appealed to me so much. Maybe because I’m lazy in the morning.) So I signed up.
I lost 15 lbs in the first month! Easily lost 15 lbs. I gave myself permission to have healthy snacks with breakfast and lunch so I was never hungry. You combine the shakes with a clean diet – no refined sugar, no gluten, no dairy. I’ve done diets like that before and always do well on them. I know it is best for me. Why do I ever wander off the path? Also, I didn’t work out that month. I wanted to see what the program alone would do.
After my 30 days was up, I went on a modified program. I still do shakes for breakfast and lunch. I stay mostly on the clean diet but have been known to stray. I got used to being lazy and didn’t pick my workout routine back up.
What happened? I maintained the weight loss but I didn’t lose any more.
I put my husband on the program. He didn’t lose a bunch a weight but his blood sugar stabilized. My boss started the program and he is losing weight.
Now I want to kick myself in the butt again and lose more of the weight I need to lose. I’m doing to be stricter about my diet and I’ve started walking again. I even got up this morning at my normal work out time and did some yoga. I’m so stiff from not exercising! I need to do yoga for at least a week to get everything moving again before I try anything harder.
I’d also love to start getting more people on this program. It is the only thing that worked for me. If you are interested in more information, let me know.
I’ve made a Facebook group for people who are interested in learning more and following the journey. Join here!
Now, a month later, I’m loving it. As of May 19 I’ve lost 12 lbs. I don’t have exact measurements right now but I know I’ve lost significant inches in my hips and lower abdomen especially. Other improvements I wanted to see were decreased gastric reflux and IBS flares and some improvement in my psoriasis. I haven’t had to take much medicine for reflux at all. I haven’t had any IBS issues. I knew cutting out dairy would fix that one. My psoriasis hasn’t changed at all but I didn’t really expect it too.
I’m continuing on the program. I’ve also started the husband on it. I’m sort of surprised that he wanted to do this. I knew it would be good for him but he is a dairy addict. The diet involves cutting out dairy, gluten, and sugar. He loves all of those. You can go more hard-core and cut out a lot of other things in order to eat super clean. I didn’t tell him that. Just cutting out those three things is a major lifestyle adjustment for him. He’s in his first week and he has lost 3 lbs.
My goals for this month will be:
Continued weight loss – I’m not likely to be done with that for a while. I’m still 55 lbs heavier than when I met the husband in 2008. I don’t think I can get back to that weight because I’ve gained a lot of muscle since then and I was only that skinny because of my divorce. Still, there is a way to go.
Eat better – This seems like a weird thing to need to do since I’m losing fat but I’m eating like crap. When I first started I had my emergency food. I had a container of cut up veggies and fruit to eat if I got hungry during the day. Eventually this morphed into eating a little something with my shakes at breakfast and lunch so I functioned better. That’s fine. Then it changed from fruits and veggies to gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free snack foods. (Believe it or not, there are some good ones.) Yeah, so I’m eating junk food and losing weight. Dream situation to be honest but I need to cut back and go back to the vegetables. I’ve also just been living on veggie burgers and rice variations for dinner. Quick and easy but it wouldn’t hurt to do real live meal planning again and shock the system with some vegetables.
Work out – I haven’t exercised at all in the last month. Again, dream situation. Weight loss without exercise. I know the body doesn’t function well without exercise though. I need to quit being lazy. At least go for a walk or something.
So far, I feel really good. I’m satisfied with much less food. I think that’s the major change I’m seeing. I still have sugar cravings. My sweet tooth has not gone away.
I signed up to be an Arbonne consultant so I can get discounts on our own products. If anyone is interested in finding out more about the program, I can get you information. It turns to be about $9 a day for this. That’s less than what I was spending for breakfast and lunch before. It is just a bit of a shock to the system to have to hand it over all at once and up front. I’m saving money and losing weight that I couldn’t budge before so I’m pretty happy.
When we decided to go on a Viking River Cruise the aspect I was most worried about was the food. The husband has life-threatening food allergies and I’m a vegetarian who prefers to eat mostly vegan. We can be hard to accommodate. Everything I read online said that we’d be fine so how did it actually go?
The husband came home from France safe and sound so the staff did a wonderful job with the allergy issue.
They don’t have people with food allergies flagged because you can sit anywhere you like for meals. That meant that at every meal he had to give his allergy talk to the waiter. That’s not his favorite thing to do and after every lunch and dinner for a week I could tell he was getting really tired of it. The waiters seemed to have been well versed on what was in each of the dishes ahead of time and they were quick to ask if they had any doubts.
They actually were a bit confusing at first about what they would and wouldn’t let him eat. His allergy is to sesame. We were on the boat on Thanksgiving and they had a pumpkin pie. They told him that night he could have anything but pumpkin pie. Who puts sesame in pumpkin pie? The husband was muttering about how unAmerican it was. (Yes, in France while talking to a Serbian waiter. Of course it was unAmerican.) I was worried that if they did that then what else, that we generally consider safe, would we need to consider potentially unsafe.
After a few days I think I figured out the pattern. They wouldn’t let him have anything that contained bread at all, whether or not there was known sesame in it. So no panini, no brioche on the side of main dish. They also did not let him have things if they weren’t made from scratch on the boat. That was presumably the problem with the pumpkin pie since all other pies for the rest of the trip were fine.
They also had no problem changing my meal if it had sesame. The vegetarian option one night was udon noodles and they made a portion for me with no sesame oil in it.
Verdict – Allergies A+
I’m not a breakfast food fan. I’d much prefer left overs from dinner than traditional breakfast food. So, I wasn’t hopeful about the morning breakfast buffet.
The bar consisted of an omelet station with a lot of add-ins if you eat eggs. There was oatmeal, cream of wheat, and muesli. All of these were made with dairy milk. There was an assortment of fruit. Every day there was a changing assortment of small dishes usually with things like smoked salmon or other meats so I didn’t pay much attention to them.
Another table had a bunch of breads and pastries. A toaster was available. Three types of cereal were offered but again there were no non-dairy milks. (If I was going to want this daily, I would have bought some non-dairy milk at a store and kept it in the mini fridge in my room.) You could also order prepared food like pancakes.
I mostly ate fruit, toast, and oatmeal. I ordered the pancakes once too even though I’m sure they were made with eggs and milk.
Lunch and Dinner
If you’ve been on large ship cruises before you may be used to having a choice of places to eat and times to eat. That isn’t really the case here. There is one dining room and you eat at the precise time they tell you.
Both lunch and dinner had an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. In theory there was supposed to be a vegetarian option in each one at every meal. That didn’t always happen. I could have asked for salads to be made without meats for example but on those occasions I just skipped that part of the meal.
The vegetarian food was made out of vegetables and wasn’t a bunch of fake meat substitutes like you sometimes see in places that are trying to serve vegetarians but don’t really know what to make.
Some of it was well done and others were horrible. It wasn’t just me. People we sat with all had at least one meal that had them poking the food and questioning what exactly it was since it didn’t resemble what they thought they had ordered. When I had the udon noodles (which were actually pretty tasty), the Japanese man I was sitting next to whispered to me, “Those don’t look like any udon I’ve ever seen in my life.” Apparently the steak was horrible and one person even tried the hot dog on offer which he regretted.
Portions were small especially if you are used to American sizes. I was pretty hungry every time meal time rolled around and I usually do fine on 2 meals a day at home.
Overall, I’d give the food a rating of “Okay-ish” which isn’t really what you want on a cruise in France.
Our country this month for Eat the World is New Zealand. My first thought about New Zealand cuisine was lamb. Obviously that was not going to be on the menu so my second thought was kiwi.
Of course, kiwis aren’t originally from New Zealand. They are Chinese in origin and were called Chinese gooseberries until the 1960s when farmers in New Zealand decided to rebrand them to draw attention to their new exports. I decided to honor this marketing coup but when I went to the store the only kiwis I could find were packaged like this.
New Zealanders better watch out. The Californians are trying to outmaneuver them.
Since watching the Great British Baking Show I’ve been in the mood for a trifle. I am not ambitious enough to want to make my own cake. I would totally disappoint Mary Berry with my lack of knowledge between Genoise and Victorian and all other things I thought were just called cake. I’m not too proud to just use a regular old store bought angel food cake for easy of assembly.
Combine coconut cream and kiwis in a high speed blender until smooth.
Remove 1/4 cup of mixture and mix in a small bowl with the cornstarch.
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat to just below a boil. The mixture should thicken and form a ribbon when spooned across the surface.
Remove from heat for 15 minutes. Taste and add more maple syrup if needed.
Transfer to glass bowl. Place plastic wrap across the surface to prevent a film from forming. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours.
Make Strawberry Cream
Refrigerate a can of coconut cream overnight. Place metal or glass bowl and beaters in freezer for 10 minutes before using.
Combine coconut cream and powdering sugar in chilled bowl. Mix in strawberry puree. Store in refrigerator until used.
Layer section of angel food cake, then kiwi curd, then strawberry cream. Repeat as desired.
The kiwi curd is a pale yellow color. You could add food coloring if you wanted it to be more green like the fruit.
My trifle making skills are not exactly up to par. I put a round section of angel food cake in the bottom of a little glass. I ever so carefully spooned in the set curd. However, my angel food cake wasn’t perfectly the size of the glass and some curd slipped down the outside. I’d have been judged to be messy and not a good presentation on The Great British Baking Show. It tasted good though.
Check out all the wonderful New Zealand dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
“Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary ‘whale rider.’ In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild — and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, Kahu will do anything to save them – even the impossible.“
This was a frustrating book for me to read. The chief is so hateful to Kahu just because she is a girl. I spent the whole book just wanting to smack him. I loved his wife though.
I know I’m late to the party but I just watched The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.
Prior to starting watching this I would have said that I liked baked goods. Cupcakes are yummy. I’m a fan of dessert in general. Bread is good.
But I am disturbed by some things I saw on this show. At first I was confused by the presence of eggs. Eggs? People still cook with those? I realized then that I’ve been living in my vegan cooking blog bubble for a long time.
Then they had a challenge about breadsticks. I do love breadsticks. I like soft garlicky ones. I like soft pretzel ones dipped in cheese sauce when I’m cheating on my vegan cooking blogs. You might see a theme here. So I was quite taken aback when the judges said that their main criteria was that the breadsticks should snap in half. Snap? Crunchy breadsticks? What fresh hell is this? No one seemed to find this strange on the show. Are soft, yummy breadsticks an American thing? (Pixabay doesn’t have a picture of crunchy breadsticks available because they are an abomination. Look at these proper breads instead.)
Then, then, I found out about tuile. Tuile is basically bread shaped to look like a Pringle. Why would anyone fuss about with these fiddly things that don’t really even have any flavor? Life is too short for this. I like Pringles but they have flavors.
As the series went on I started to realize that I wouldn’t eat a lot of things that were being presented if they were in a bakery shop window. That got me thinking. Maybe I’m not really a dessert lover after all?
I hate flaky pastry crust. I can tolerate a shortbread crust.
Yorkshire pudding is not a descriptive term
British people eat some weird stuff
But I have learned some things too.
I’d never had a macaron. I bought some the other day. They are ok. Mostly they seem to me to be a vehicle for carrying whatever flavor they have been infused with.
I never knew that cakes came in so many different types like genoise and victoria sponges and apparently these things are common British knowledge.
Strong flour and plain flours are things.
I still really like desserts but I don’t like baked desserts.
The Great British Baking Show influence will be seen in my July Eat the World post. Stay tuned for July 10.
Have you watched the show? Did you bake more in response?
Marcus Samuelsson’s website has some great recipes but everything I liked was not even remotely Swedish
Everything I was seeing on other sites seemed so bland.
Short growing seasons mean that this is a meat heavy cuisine.
Taking inspiration from Swedishfood.com I decided to make Korngryn och rotsaker – Pearl Barley with Root Vegetables – with a few changes.
I started by roasting carrots, turnips, and parsnips. Then I cooked my barley in the instapot. I used high pressure for 18 minutes. I used 1 cup of barley and 3 cups of a combination of mushroom broth, vegetable broth, and water. Basically, I had open containers of broth in the fridge and when I emptied one I went to the next until I had 3 cups. That was the ratio recommended in the book for the instapot. It turned out to be a lot of extra liquid but it was a very aromatic, starchy liquid so I decided to turn it into a sauce.
I drained the extra broth into a bowl. Then I poured enough back into the instapot bowl to have a layer 1/2 inch thick. I used this to saute the mushrooms. I let the liquid reduce as the mushrooms cooked. I added a few more spoonfuls of broth as needed to keep it from all evaporating.
This reduced to a very good sauce that added a lot more flavor to the dish.
Pearl Barley with Roasted Root Vegetables and Mushrooms
3Carrotschopped into bite sized pieces
1Turnipchopped into bite sized pieces
2Parsnipschopped into bite sized pieces
1 cupPearl Barley
3cupsMushroom or Vegetable Broth
Salt and Pepperto taste
Spray carrots, turnip, and parsnips with olive oil on both sides. Spread on a baking sheet. Roast in an oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Set aside.
Combine barley and broth in an electric pressure cooker. Set on high pressure for 18 minutes. Release pressure manually when done cooking.
Drain excess liquid from the barley, retaining the liquid.
Set pressure cooker to saute. Pour enough of the retained broth into the cooker to cover the bottom of the pot to a depth of 1/2 inch. Saute the mushrooms, adding broth as needed to keep from drying. Allow broth to reduce to a sauce.
Top barley with roasted vegetables and mushrooms. Pour reduced broth over the barley. Salt and pepper to taste.
This still is a little bland for my taste. I didn’t add a lot of other seasoning because I was trying to stay true to the ingredients I was seeing in other Swedish recipes. If I was going to make this again, I would experiment with adding herbs to the broth while cooking the barley and while reducing.
But this month I read a book that was already on my iPad, Never Stop Walking.
Like Yes, Chef, this is a book about an international adoptee. Christina was a street child in Brazil before she and her brother were taken to Sweden and adopted. This is the story of her travel as an adult back to Brazil to try to find her mother. I reviewed it here. This story is absolutely heartbreaking. The life she lived as a child was brutal and hard to read about but I think it is necessary to open people’s eyes to what happens to women and children in these situations.
“Whether your goal is to start your own community food swap, or just make delicious treats to share with family and friends, this is the book you need! Part cookbook, part how-to guide, Food Swap features more than 80 recipes for artisanal items that will be coveted at food swaps and adored as gifts, including preserves, baked goods, granolas, cheeses, pestos, roasted nuts, flavored salts, and specialty spices — everything from salted caramel sauce and Meyer lemon curd to green tomato salsa, lavender shortbread, cultured butter, apricot jalapeno jelly, and rum vanilla extract. You’ll also find creative ways to irresistibly package your items, and the book even includes perforated gift tags ready for personalization.”
“Serving up a tale that is part memoir and part cookbook, acclaimed foodie Rob Chirico shares his culinary journey after growing up with an Italian-American mother who was hopeless in the kitchen.
Rob Chirico learned to cook as a defense against his mother’s awful meals. After discover-ing that there was more to real food than canned ravioli and frozen vegetables, he decided to try his hand in the kitchen. His memoir oﬀers recipes, cooking techniques, and tips he has cultivated over decades. He blends his expert experience with an engaging and humorous narrative on growing up with suspect meals.”
From the duo behind New York Times bestseller, Thug Kitchen, comes the next installment of kick-ass recipes with a side of attitude. Thug KitchenParty Grub Guide answers the question that Matt and Michelle have heard most from their fans: How the hell are you supposed to eat healthy when you hang around with a bunch of a**holes who don't care what they put in their pie holes? The answer: You make a bomb-ass plant-based dish from Thug Kitchen. Featuring over 100 recipes to attend or host parties of any kind, Party Grub Guide combines exciting, healthy, vegan food with easy-to-follow directions and damn entertaining commentary. From passed appetizers like Deviled Chickpea Bites to main events like Mexican Lasagna, Thug Kitchen Party Grub Guide is here to make sure you are equipped with dishes to bring the flavor without the side of fat, calories, and guilt. Also included are cocktail recipes, because sometimes these parties need a pick-me-up of the liquid variety.
I love my Thug Kitchen cookbook so I was really excited to see that they had a second cookbook out. I got it from the library first and then bought my own copy. My husband was concerned about this. He rightly pointed out that I am not in fact a “social mother-f*cker”. I told him that I liked to make the recipes for myself and maybe I’d share with him. He went off muttering about me being the exact opposite of what the book was for.
I keep pushing back posting this review because I keep making more recipes from this book that I love!
I’ve made the Butternut Squash Queso-ish Dip. No one is going to actually think this is cheese based but it is a nice creamy sauce that I like to put on pasta along with some salsa. Good way to sneak some extra squash into your diet too!
I’m excited about the Artichoke Dip and the Rosemary Caramel Corn. The dip was slightly disturbing to look at but tasted great, especially mixed with some salsa. The caramel for the caramel corn didn’t melt for me as nicely as it was supposed to but it still tasted pretty good.
The Meatball Subs made with kidney beans and lentils were a hit with the omnivorous husband. Definitely making those again.
The Creamy White Bean sandwich spread is good for a vegan who wants something on a sandwich but can’t have hummus because of food allergy concerns.
Everything I’ve made out of these cookbooks have been great so far. If you have any interest in food made with healthy ingredients even if you aren’t normally eating a vegan diet, you should check these out. The emphasis is on people who don’t cook often so the basics are explained.
Time really is flying. We had a lot of great posts in February.
Our first giveaway was chosen from the links in January and February. The winner of the book SeaSoned for posting a link in January and February (chosen by a random number generator) is Mark at Carstairs Considers for his review of Berried Secrets.
Our next giveaway will be for posts linked up in March and April.
We had 27 posts linked up. If you haven’t checked out all the great reviews (and food inspired by the books) go back and look. You can also find links to all the posts with pinnable images on our Pinterest board – Foodies Read.
We’ll have our first giveaway at the end of February. Every link in January and February will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of this Foodie book.
“Victoria’s Recipe for Marriage
Take two adventurous newlyweds and place them on a floundering yacht where the wife is the chef, and her boss, the captain, is also her husband. Add two inexperienced crewmembers, an anorexic diva and her bully of a husband, a CEO who thinks he’s in charge, a drunken first mate, and a randy wife looking for diversion. Stir with a violent storm and a rapidly flooding engine room. Apply pressure and watch the situation simmer to a boil.
Sprinkled with over 30-mouthwatering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure, SEAsoned is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain, trying to stay afloat.”
I can’t wait to see what you are all reading and creating this month.
Do you love reading books about food? Do you want to find more recommendations of books to read and to sing the praises of books that you’ve loved?
You’re in the right place. Starting in January 2016, I’ll be taking over Foodie Reads.
We will still have a challenge levels and for those of us who don’t like to plan that much there will be an a la carte option.
Want to challenge yourself? Pick a level below.
Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19
Don’t like to plan? Choose the a la carte option and let us know when you read a book about food.
What counts as a food book? Any genre – fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, etc. If food is a major part of the plot then it counts!
Each month I’ll have a new page for book reviews that you post. You can find the page for the month linked here and on the blog’s right sidebar. Each month will feature some posts from the last month. Posts will be pinned to Pinterest and publicized on Twitter to get the word out. Along the way there may be giveaways for participants.
The hardest part of trying to be vegan for me hasn’t been cheese. It has been caramel. I love chocolate and caramel together. This vegan caramel sauce is amazing. It is easier to make than date based caramel since I don’t have a super duper blender to make that smooth and it is less expensive. Dates cost a lot. The original recipe she posts for the caramel sauce isn’t vegan. It used heavy cream. The notes on the almond butter cups though explain making it with the thick part of coconut milk. Do that. It is incredible.
The caramel recipe makes a lot so you can find good uses for it. So far I’ve used it as glue to attach chocolate chips to popcorn!
The cups are fussy to make but not as hard as I thought. Just use a spoon to put a little melted chocolate in a mini cupcake liner and then spread some on the sides of the liner with the back of the spoon. I used melted dark chocolate chips. Then put in a small amount of a nut butter – powdered sugar mixture and pour some caramel sauce over it. Top with more chocolate to seal it all and freeze.
Clean up ended up being tasty too. I had an improvised double broiler with chocolate all over the sides and some left over filling. I poured the filling in the double broiler and stirred. The filling scooped the chocolate off the sides. I rolled it in balls, refrigerated it to set, and called it truffles.
Not pretty but yummy.
I doubled the amounts used in the original recipe. I think I was a little heavy handed on the chocolate because it didn’t make double the expected amount of cups for me.
The main reason that the husband didn’t want to go to England with me is because he declared that there was no food in England. That surprised me because I haven’t heard of their famine, the poor souls. He likes to pick vacation destinations based on the local cuisine. When I travel with him, meals are a huge part of the days.
On the other hand, my mother doesn’t eat. Actually she has breakfast and then around 3 PM she has a meal and declares herself done for the day.
I think that we ate very well in England. We were staying in apartments through airBnB so we had a kitchen in London. We were across the street from a small grocery store so we picked up some fruit and oatmeal for breakfasts.
Ping Pong is at St. Katherine’s Dock near the Tower of London and easy walking distance from our apartment. It is a dim sum restaurant. I love Chinese food but can’t eat it much because of the husband’s sesame allergies. We had a lovely meal with vegetable sticky rice and spring rolls being among a whole lot of vegetarian options to choose from. I celebrated the fact that I was openly eating Chinese food without worrying about brushing my teeth and lips and washing my hands and clothes before talking to the husband.
My mother fell in love with Pret a Manger for lunch. They have soups, sandwiches, and salads made up in coolers and you go grab what you want. She would have eaten there every meal. She was also fascinated with the people watching there. Most people grab and go but we’d fight for one of the limited tables and she’d be amazed every time with how many people were going in and out.
All About The Pies
When I posted about going to Bath, I got a comment recommending The Raven as a great place to eat. I looked at the menu online and got very excited. When we got to bath we tried to go for dinner but it was so crowded that we couldn’t get in. It is a small place. We came back for lunch the next day right as they opened. That was a good choice because it got crowded soon after.
We were here for the pies.
Look at that! If you aren’t vegetarian you may not notice what I saw right away. Not only is there a choice of vegetarian pies but ALL THE GRAVIES ARE VEGETARIAN! Yes, I will cross an ocean for you. Being a vegetarian means asking for no gravy on everything in restaurants. I bring my own gravy to Thanksgiving. Here is a restaurant serving 3 — count ’em THREE — vegetarian gravies as the only options.
I had the Heidi Pie with sage and onion and my mother had the fungi chicken also with sage and onion. This place also inspired me to make a cabernet gravy I found on pinterest at home. Vegetarian gravies are awesome.
I emailed this picture to the husband with the caption. “I’m eating amazing food with small sprinkles of death on top!”
This restaurant is across the road from Hampton Court. There is an outside eating area right on the Thames. There were people rowing boats and a swan hung out near us.
There were many vegetarian choices but I went with the Veg Pie. Field Mushrooms, Wilted Spinach and Hazelnuts, PanFried In White Truffle Oil, Topped With A Layer Of Béchamel Sauce Encased In Short Crust Pastry. My mother had fish and chips because she said she would have felt wrong not trying it.
So, eating in England went much better than my husband thought. I got my scandalized, tee-totaling mother into a few pubs. A few times we were too tired to care and grabbed prepared food from the grocery store for dinner.
We never did quite get the hang of restaurant etiquette. We could never figure out how to pay. We’re American. We expect to have the check dropped off after the food to pay at our leisure. Here we never saw a server after the food came so we had to flag people down and beg to pay. There is probably some British procedure for this that we were flagrantly flouting and adding the image of crass Americans. Sorry.
A few weeks ago I came across this article. Tasting Vegan “Cheese” with a Professional Cheese Taster. Since trying to be mostly vegan, I’ve weaned myself off most cheese. The first step was recognizing that I use cheese only in junk foods so that helped but still … nachos and macaroni and cheese and cheesecake and lasagna…. There are vegan cheese substitutes but they are made of all kinds of chemical crap and that defeats the purpose of being healthy. They aren’t all that good either.
So this article intrigued me. The cheese taster gave really high marks to the nut based cheeses and the maker of the cheeses has a cookbook.
The book is a little scary. The difference between this book and other recipes is that most of these cheeses are cultured. That means that they are made just like dairy cheeses. The only difference is that they start either with cashews or non-dairy yogurt instead of milk. I’m nervous about fermenting.
The first recipe is for rejuvelac. That’s basically your culture starter. I made mine by sprouting quinoa to make it gluten free. That takes a few days and I wasn’t ever sure if it was right or not. I used it to make some Basic Cashew Cheese that is basically a plain spread. It turned out tangy and good. I mixed some spinach dip mix with it and ate it with chips and salsa. Even the cheese-loving husband said he couldn’t tell the difference.
So now I’ve rounded up some of the more hard to find ingredients and am starting a cheese making assembly line for some of the more advanced cheeses.
Step One – Make a Cryptic List
I wanted to start a bunch of stuff and needed to know what to do first for all of them.
Step Two – Start the Cashews Soaking
When I need to soak cashews for sauces I usually just boil them to shorten the soaking time. I’m not sure if that will hurt the culturing though so I’m following the recipes the first time through. I have everything labeled so I know what is what.
Step Three – Make some Fast Cheeses
On the left is Meltable Muenster cooling to room temperature. It doesn’t get cultured so once it cools and then is refrigerated for a while I’ll have something to try tonight. Almost-instant gratification is good.
On the right is Meltable Monterey Jack starting to ferment. (The lid isn’t screwed on so it isn’t going to explode. It is just covering it.) It will sit out until tomorrow morning and then have the thickeners added. Does that scare anyone else? Normally I’m all —
But letting cheese sit out at room temperature on purpose so the mold gets a good hold on it does give me pause.
The rest of the cheeses take a while to make so I’m going to report back on the next Inspiration on Monday link up day in 2 weeks with how it all went.
It actually is serious. We aren’t just being difficult.
Before I started dating a person with food allergies I had no idea how serious they were. I’d hear stories about parents freaking out over peanuts and sigh. I had a cousin with a kid with multiple allergies and it was generally accepted that they were overreacting.
Restaurants have gotten so much more responsive about this in the last 10 years but I can think of two restaurants in my town who aggressively refuse to answer questions about allergies. They have signs up that say that allergic people shouldn’t eat there and one refused to even tell us if their hamburger buns had sesame seeds on top before we ordered. Not cool.
Not All Issues With Food Are the Same
Preference – I’m a vegetarian. I chose that lifestyle. If I accidentally eat some meat I won’t be happy but nothing bad will happen to me.
Intolerance – My body doesn’t function well if I eat dairy or wheat. This has been verified with blood testing. If I eat something that I have an intolerance to I’ll be uncomfortable but it isn’t life threatening.
Allergy – People with food allergies quickly develop signs from a rash to hives to anaphalaxis. This can be life threatening.
Don’t be the person who claims to have an allergy to an ingredient when actually you just don’t like it. Too many of those people can make restaurants less responsive to real allergies.
The Paranoia is Real – for some people
A vegetarian and a person with food allergies live together? Yeah, we’re those people. I read every label on everything everytime even if it doesn’t seem like there should be an allergen in it.
The worst is when an allergen gets trendy. Sesame is traditionally in Asian and Middle East food. Avoiding that is bad enough. Now people are sneaking sesame oil into everything. So if I ask to look at the ingredients on something you made from prepared ingredients, it is the voice of experience talking. It isn’t (just) that I don’t trust you. I don’t want to spend the next six hours in the hospital.
I’m way more paranoid than the husband is. I think it is because once the reaction being treated, he goes to sleep in the hospital bed. He doesn’t have to sit up all night making sure his favorite human isn’t about to have a secondary reaction. He’s never tried to find a hospital in an unfamiliar small town at night while on the phone with the 911 operator because his spouse said, “My lips feel funny” and then collapsed. As I tell him, he isn’t at risk of having to be a grieving widow. He’ll just die and get it over with. He agrees. That’s why he does things like pop a cracker in his mouth on a flight halfway over the Atlantic Ocean without reading the label. They almost needed the defibrillator to restart my heart when he did that.
I notice this all the time now. I was at a bagel shop when the person working dropped a piece of ham into the cream cheese. When he pulled it out it had sesame seeds that I guess had been spilled in the cream cheese stuck to it. He put it on the bagel sandwich he was making without a thought.
I don’t buy food from bulk bins if the scoops are able to reach containers that contain allergens because people don’t always use the designated scoop for the bin.
Open wire baskets of bread that sprinkle seeds down onto the loaves below, Reusing a knife at sub shops after just wiping it off, the list goes on and on. When I see it I automatically think, “There’s a hospital stay.”
How People Can Help
It is our responsibility to protect ourselves from allergies but people can help.
If you are going to be making food for an allergic person, find out what you need to know. (Tahini = sesame paste isn’t common knowledge it turns out). Ask if you aren’t sure.
Watch out for contamination. Don’t switch utensils in containers at the salad bar; use the designated scoop at stores; clean up spills of common allergens well in public places; etc.
Don’t act like you are being persecuted if someone asks you not to bring food with a specific ingredient. How are you going to feel if someone dies because you fought for your right to have a peanut butter sandwich? You can have it when you get home. You can go without. Seriously, I gave up hummus because I liked a guy. Don’t think that I didn’t weigh the pros and cons of that decision for longer than you might expect. “He’s a really great guy but… Hummus!” If I survived so can you.
Does anyone else deal with food allergies? What should people know?
I recently decided to go have myself checked out by a naturopathic doctor. I didn’t have any specific ailments but just wanted a check up. I filled out a long questionnaire and had some hair and blood testing done.
I got my results a few weeks later. I’m a long term vegetarian so I was interested in seeing what my hair mineral analysis said about my diet. I’m pretty much spot-on where I should be for all nutrients. Take that diet doubters! The only thing that is abnormal is that I have slightly high copper.
I also did a blood test to look for food sensitivities. These aren’t full on allergic reactions that send you to the hospital but foods that irritate your digestive system. I had an idea what it was going to find. My last meal before going to get my results was pizza with cheese dipping sauce and some tapioca pudding.
Like I expected I reacted to dairy. I reacted to everything they test in the dairy category. I reacted even worse to eggs. That surprised me. I don’t show the physical symptoms that I get from dairy with eggs.
I’m not too upset about that. I’m vegan at home 95% of the time anyway. I use almond milk all the time instead of cow milk. That’s lovely except my most reactive thing was almond followed closely by soy. I guess coconut milk it is for me.
I also reacted badly to gluten and whole wheat and spelt. Great. So we are up to gluten-free vegan. I still wasn’t upset and this sort of surprised the doctor. She said people sometimes cry when she gives results. I told her at the last visit that I don’t get stressed. She didn’t know that I’ve done this before. When I did the Whole Life Challenge it ended up being basically a gluten-free vegan challenge for me. I did it twice for 2 months at a time. I know what to do. I also know that I drop weight easily if I stick to it so I believe these results. I just get lazy and stop cooking food that I know is best for me.
Then things started to get rude. I was reactive to peanuts. I use peanut butter sometimes on the toast I’m no longer having or in smoothies.
After all this, the thing that really got me was that I was reactive to mushrooms. Mushrooms! I love mushrooms. I was going to get some mushroom spore inoculated logs for my garden this year and grow my own because I eat so many. At least cocoa and olives didn’t upset my sensitive self or there would be no point in going on.
I started the elimination diet immediately. She also gave me some supplements to support better digestion and to help support the liver. My cholesterol is high but the rest of the liver enzymes are good so we are doing some liver detox to see if it can handle the cholesterol and copper clearing a bit better.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of food memoirs about people who are really into food. The more offbeat the food is, the better. They love their offal and bone marrow. I like food memoirs but I’d like to read one that actually has food that sounds good. I want to read one that doesn’t take numerous cheap shots at vegans. I want to read one that doesn’t make me feel bad about donkeys.
I’ve read Finding Ultra before but it is a good place to start with vegan memoirs. Rich Roll was a 40 year old former college athlete in the worst shape of his life when he decided to take control of his diet. His wife was into healthy eating so he decided to listen to her and almost accidentally became an ultra-endurance athlete.
“Committed” is a bold, offbeat, globe-trotting memoir that shows how the most ridiculed punching bag in high school became an internationally renowned crusader for the most downtrodden individuals of all — animals. This irresistibly entertaining book recounts the random incidents and soul-searching that inspired a reluctant party boy to devote his life to a cause, without ever abandoning his sense of mischief and fun. “Everyone has a tense moment in their career that makes them wonder, how the hell did I get into this mess?” writes Mathews. “For me, it was when I was dressed as a carrot to promote vegetarianism outside an elementary school in Des Moines, and a pack of obese pig farmers showed up and peeled off slices of bologna for kids to throw at me.”from Goodreads
I’m not a PETA fan but this one might be interesting.
“The Bloodless Revolution is a pioneering history of puritanical revolutionaries, European Hinduphiles, and visionary scientists who embraced radical ideas from the East and conspired to overthrow Western society’s voracious hunger for meat. At the heart of this compelling history are the stories of John Zephaniah Holwell, survivor of the Black Hole of Calcutta, and John Stewart and John Oswald, who traveled to India in the eighteenth century, converted to the animal-friendly tenets of Hinduism, and returned to Europe to spread the word. Leading figures of the Enlightenment among them Rousseau, Voltaire, and Benjamin Franklin gave intellectual backing to the vegetarians, sowing the seeds for everything from Victorian soup kitchens to contemporary animal rights and environmentalism.” from Goodreads
I’m excited about this one! I’m already reserved it at my library.
“Vegetarians differ from omnivores not just in their eating habits but also in their psychology, personalities, friendship choices, even their sex lives. Extensive studies from around the world show that they vote differently, take different jobs, and have brains that fire differently. This research also provides insight into why people who consider themselves vegetarian may not really be vegetarian at all, and why so many fall off the vegetarian wagon.
Veganomics is a fascinating journey through the science on vegetarians and vegetarian eating, shedding new light on how and why people eat the way they do, and what impact their dietary choices can have on the world around us. Be forewarned: after reading this book, you may never look at vegetarians the same way again!” from Goodreads
This one may journey a bit into the “Ooooh, vegetarians are weird…” category. I’m not sure but I’ll check it out. I’d also like to recommend it to the fella who recently took my order for a specific breakfast sandwich “without meat” who responded, “Do you still want the bacon on that though?”
“From the golden cups of Aztec emperors to the ice-cream dishes of U.S. presidents, Vanilla has mystified and tantalized man for centuries. The only orchid that produces an agriculturally valuable crop, vanilla can mask unpleasant tastes and smells, but also makes pleasant tastes stronger, smoother, and longer lasting. Because it has over four hundred separate flavor components, choosing premium vanilla beans is as complex as judging the aroma and taste of fine wine. Vanilla finds its way into over half of all dessert products sold worldwide, as well as the finest perfumes, well-known brands of rum and vodka, and even Coca-Cola and Pepsi.” from Goodreads
This isn’t a vegan book per se but vanilla is my favorite scent and flavor and I can’t think of a meat dish that uses it so it gets to go on the list.
While Phoebe Damrosch was figuring out what to do with her life, she supported herself by working as a waiter. Before long she was a captain at the New York City four-star restaurant Per Se, the culinary creation of master chef Thomas Keller. Service Included is the story of her experiences there: her obsession with food, her love affair with a sommelier, and her observations of the highly competitive and frenetic world of fine dining. She also provides the following dining tips:Please do not ask your waiter what else he or she does.Please do not steal your waiter's pen.Please do not say you're allergic when you don't like something.Please do not send something back after eating most of it.Please do not make faces or gagging noises when hearing the specials—someone else at the table might like to order one of them.After reading this book, diners will never sit down at a restaurant table the same way again.
Then there was this sentence on page 7 describing some time in France.
“I discovered a woman who made sausages from donkey meat, and I lived on baguettes and sausage for my remaining time there.”
No. Just no. I love donkeys and not for lunch. When I read that sentence for the first time my eyes lingered on the “donkey meat” and I figured the rest of the sentence would contain abject horror. Nope, I was in the wrong book for that.
Not sausage makings
The story in the book was interesting when it talked about the service requirements and training to open a potential 4 star restaurant. It is a world I can’t even imagine and probably will never experience based on the menus discussed in the book. (They did have a vegetable tasting menu that was briefly mentioned. I just looked it up and it is purely vegetarian. I was suspicious that they might cook the vegetables in veal stock and the tears of baby unicorns. If I want to spend $310 a person, I can go try it.)
There isn’t a lot here about intrigue in the restaurant. It hardly mentions the people cooking. It is mostly about weeks of training to be able to answer any question a guest may have including all the facts about everything that could be seen out the windows and all about the suppliers of the ingredients of the meals.
“Phoebe Damrosch is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her first book, Service Included, was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2007.
She has written for the New York Times, Food and Wine, the Daily News, and has been featured in the Financial Times, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, American Way, Eating Well, the New York Post, and Slate.” from her website
I don’t normally review cookbooks but I love this book. I love it enough to actually own it and not just borrow it from the library.
I love Caribbean food. In particular, I love plantains. I can’t cook plantains at all. So I was excited to see that there are several plantain recipes in here. I made the Muscovado-Roasted Plantains. The sauce is very good but I don’t think I know how to pick a ripe enough planatain so they didn’t get as soft as I would like. I need to work on my plantain skills.
I’ve made the Hominy and Spinach in Tomato-Garlic Broth several times. It is a spicy tomato soup. Very good.
I’m looking forward to the Pomegranate-Peach Barbeque Sauce. The husband and I read the recipe names and drool. There are so many things I want to try here that I almost get paralyzed with indecision about what to make first.
But the thing that puts this book over the top? Each recipe comes with a song recommendation and several of them come with a book recommendation.
Recipes with book recommendations – I had to sit down when I saw that.
There is fiction and nonfiction and poetry. I went through and looked up each book and added several to my TBR list.