Tasty Tuesday – Spring Roll Explosion!

* I made some bomb-ass food this week- no joke. I finally got around to picking up some star anise and cinnamon sticks to make pho broth, additionally I got some rice paper to make my very own spring rolls at home. I ended up making spring rolls twice! The second batch was a plan on bánh mì with a Vegenaise, Sriracha, cilantro, lime mayo sauce. Seriously guys- this was a week of weeks when it came to my eats!

the sandwich in question

Whole Foods Gardein ciabatta sandwich
January 29, 2013

pho and spring rolls

Pho and tranditional spring rolls
January 30, 2013

bánh mì spring rolls

bánh mì spring rolls
January 31, 2013

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Meatless Monday – 2012 Recap and Favorites

* For this week I decided to do a 2012 recap of my most popular Meatless Monday posts from 2012. Not only are they some of the most highly visited on my site, but they are also some of my personal favorites. Take a look below and remember you can always check through my All Recipes tag for additional vegan recipes!

7a2f2b26463f11e2b82c22000a1fbca3_7

Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon

lentilsoup-resize
Mom’s Curried Lentil Soup

pesto pizza med
Pizza Galore
(pesto pizza and an asparagus lemon pizza)

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52 Fridays – 3; The Mistress of the Art of Death

mistress of the art of death

I thought I liked medieval novels. I thought I liked characters and stories out of this time period. Oh right, I do like those things, I just don’t like Mistress of the Art of Death. This book is wretched. Seriously, I’m not even sure I have much else to say about it. I know that all over the internet it boasts a whopping 5 star review, everyone raves about the character development, the dramatic setting, the strong, independent, bold main (female) character, etc. But I swear to you this was the most painful 400 pages I have read in years.

– Spoilers –

The plot was convoluted, the characters were obtuse, the relationships between them were ill defined and implausible, the setting was drab and un-engaging. I mean seriously. I really wanted to like Adelia, “doctor to the dead”, the rich adopted daughter of a renowned Salerno doctor. At first she seemed truly self-reliant, recognizing the disdain for her gender in the regions and time period she was living in, but not allowing herself to be tamed. She had a sharp tongue, a determined attitude and a callous resilience to the testosterone driven men recently returned from the Crusades. It all falls apart about two thirds of the way through (I can’t even believe I made it that far) when she (instantly? as in, the course of one to two pages) falls in love with the man she dislikes the most. What. The. Hell?

Additionally the killer she is sent to find, uncover, convict, whatever, is found around the same time as this love is revealed and gets the backseat. We spent 300+ pages trying to find this guy and now he’s hardly worth the paper and ink? I want to know why he did it, what, where, when, who, how? You know the drill, Ariana Franklin! Don’t leave me dissatisfied and longing for explanations and answers! Or do. You know, whatever you want I guess.

Bottom line? It’s all very contrived. I can see that there must be a population of readers that’s into this kind of thing (I mean, it is a National Bestseller and all (then again, Twilight still sells a billion copies a day, so what do I know?)). Ugh, I can’t even come up with a small, fleeting amount of joy that I got from this. It was Abramham Lincoln Vampire Hunter bad but on steroids.

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Sample Thursdays – Why I love Whole Foods Market

* Sometimes a company does things really wrong, so wrong that you hold it against them for for days, weeks, maybe even years. These transgressions could be justified or ridiculous (I mean come on, you know you get a little excitable sometimes, it happens to the best of us). You tell everyone about this awful experience and you run their name as far into the ground, down into the dirt, as you possibly can. You attack the service, the employees, the cleanliness, the timeliness, etc. Somehow, that little problem you had that one time has now morphed into a huge ordeal. And now, with the jump forward in technology, it’s not just the few people you have face-to-face contact with. No. Instead it’s the whole world wide web. Yelp, Google reviews, and a whole slew of others, are just waiting to hear about that experience and sink that business even lower than before.

This is not one of those stories.

This is the story of a triumph. In the face of critical, untrained reviewers who believe their opinion and their experience should be held up in the highest regard, Whole Foods Market stands tall. From the products they carry, the people they employ and the atmosphere of love and compassion I am constantly and consistently stunned by what a great business they are. Are they perfect? No. Is one location better than another? Perhaps. Do I believe they are without sin in all regard? Certainly not. But what I do believe with my whole heart and with every dollar in my pocket, is that they are working to be the best they can.

Jason and I went in on Tuesday evening for dinner. I felt lazy and he likes the food. Additionally I needed a few items for my vegan bake swap that Meg is hosting. I decided to go for a sandwich. Just a sandwich. Nothing fancy or exciting. The following (and this is word for word how I sent my customer review via their website) is how my experience went down:

I have been shopping at this  location for nearly two years. In the last year I have gone vegan and rely heavily on your products ranging from sweets to your hot bar on the nights I don’t feel like cooking.

Well, last night was one of those lazy nights. My boyfriend and I stopped in for a hot, delicious, veg meal. I opted for your sandwich counter (which I do fairly regularly with the addition of the Gardein chick’n patty). I rolled through my order until we came to the dreaded, “Do you want any cheese?”

I sighed, sadly, as usual. “No, thank you,” I said, “I don’t eat dairy.”

The gentleman behind the counter glanced up surprised and said, “You do know we offer vegan cheese…right?”

I seriously caught my breath and my eyes went huge. I have been eating these sandwiches forever and no one has told me that- and I said so! “What?!” I exclaimed- “How did I not know this and how has no one said so?!”

He smiled and laughed saying, “I guess because I’ve never made your sandwich before.”

I know this seems like kind of a dramatic reenactment of how it happened, but it’s truly not. ****, the guy that was working, laughed through it with me. Instead of giving me weird looks or shrinking away (like people tend to do with my huge personality) he simply said, “Indeed we do have a vegan cheese- and now you know! So the next time you come in, whether it’s me or someone else here, you can definitely ask and not miss out!”

Now, I have worked in sales for most of my life and often have found that it’s the mistakes that get remembered, but I want you to know that this experience (like so many that I have there) was superb. The staff is always friendly and helpful, but last night was one of those times that I felt truly appreciated and respected as a consumer. I was treated like a friend rather than a dollar sign.

So please keep up the great work. You continue to be my go-to health store, I participate in your charity donations and do all of my national/international vegan-swap shopping inside your doors.

I will sing your praises via every social networking site I’m on and will also be blogging this particular event.

Thank you for being the great business you are, it is truly, truly appreciated.

It’s a little hard for me to explain exactly how it felt. I am an exceptionally animated person. More than words can ever say on a computer screen. You kind of have to see me in action. When I say things like “my eyes went huge” I mean it. I get bug eyed and make loud gasping sounds. I am used to people being a little put off or surprised, but this guy took it all in stride. Not only that, but he laughed with me! Often, when someone thinks you should know something, people get a little condescending. I know this from experience, but not in this case. He was happy to share with me, he was happy to help me and he was happy to assure me that in the future it would be no problem for anyone to accommodate my request.

Honestly, I felt like a friend, not a customer. He was looking at me and interacting with me like I was a real person, there were no dollar signs in his eyes as I am so used to dealing with in this product driven environment. He saw me there with my boyfriend so don’t even try the, “I bet he just wanted to sleep with you,” line, I see where your mind is, haha.

But more than all of this, and the recount of this single (though there are many) great experience Whole Foods is just a good company. Supporting and promoting healthy lifestyles, compassionate charities and an all around better way to live. I will continue to shop here and I will use every ounce of social networking juice I have to let people know that they’re a company worth being a part of.

Additional perk, if you have one in your area, take a look at their cooking class schedules and other events- like I said- healthy lifestyle! ;)

The first photo below is the sandwich in question for the other night. I also added two photos of other meals I’ve had there for lunches and dinners. Enjoy!

the sandwich in question

foods gar

hot bar

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Weekly Wednesday – Beer Me!

* In this week’s get-to-know-me edition we have the final installment of Jason’s birthday events! Just a quick note, I do want to preface this post with the following: it’s only in the last two years or so that I have developed a taste for beer and Jason has liked it for an even shorter time than that. So this entire post, this whole excursion, was going out on a limb. It was a risk to be sure, but it’s a risk that’s paid off. So onward! Into the heart of things.

For the last of Jason’s birthday outings I got him (read: us) passes to a beer making instruction class at the local Booth’s Brewing. We had an absolutely fantastic time. I was surprised by how much fun it really was to be honest. I mean, instructional courses never seem like they should be really enjoyable. If you’re teaching me to do something I should have the ability to actually do whatever it is you want me to learn, but with a group of nearly forty people that’s not really possible.

Even through all of that I did get some great photos, we tasted some delicious home brewed samples, against all odds we actually did learn how to make beer and thanks to Erika and Jared we already have a home brew kit! We have one or two more pieces of equipment that will be necessary to start but hopefully by next weekend we will be able to start the brewing process. The fermenting does take about two weeks (and in many cases much longer!) so it might be a while before you hear about this project again, but I am so excited. When you calculate the costs it’s a billion times cheaper to make your own (okay, that’s an exaggeration) and Booth’s offers clone kits in some of my favorite flavors (including Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and Punkin Ale!). Overall it should be a fun thing to do and I look forward to sharing the results!

Photos 8, 9, & 12 taken by Jason
Photo 11 taken by Erika
Photos on Flickr and Google+

setup

grain sock

grain sock

liquid malt

boothsbrewing

dry malt

dry malt

me making beer

me

e and j

j and i

photo bomb

cooling

fermenting

sierra nevada clone

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