zoo york city

Today was awesome!

Reason #1: It started with pancakes!

I’m getting really pro at flipping pancakes! I made Chloe Coscarelli‘s recipe again but I subbed banana slices for blueberries. I feasted on these babies whilst listening to Jack Johnson sing about them 🙂

I quit my job at Sox in the City so I finally had a free day to do something fun outside. I have been super antsy lately because of the nice weather but have been too busy with school and work to enjoy it. Unfortunately today was chillier than earlier in the week but I still had a great time exploring Brooklyn with my boyfriend.

I barely ever venture outside of Manhattan so for me Brooklyn is like a completely different world. It’s so much more relaxed and spacious and green! Dan and I packed lunch and went to picnic in Prospect Park, which we both decided was vastly superior to the maze-like overcrowded Central Park. I even saw a group of equestrians on a trail ride! I was insanely jealous and want to figure out how I can do that… it has been way to long since I sat on a horse! I packed Vegan Caesar Salad and some Balthazar Bakery bread with leftover mushroom walnut paté from Monday’s class. I am obsessed with this salad, it is so amazing I want to eat it every single day (and lately I do).

After picnicking and waltzing our way through the park we ended up here:

I love zoos and had a blast at the one in Prospect Park. I think we were the only adults there without kids but who really cares right? Besides, who said we’re not kids…

I saw a bunch of cool animals including porcupines, wallabies, a sea otter, gold lion tamarins (my pic sucks but this one had a baby on her back!), sea lions and red pandas!

The Prospect Park Zoo also has a section called “The Barn” where they have farm animals. I fed some alpacas and sheep 🙂

After the zoo we were wandering around and decided to stop in here since we had time to kill before dinner:

Where I read three issues of this:

I actually really liked it. I am a crazier cat lady than I thought!

After the library we walked over to Maimonide in Brooklyn, a restaurant in Boerum Hill that I really wanted to try for a while now. After the glowing review Chef Elliott at the Natural Gourmet Institute gave it earlier this week I decided I needed to go stat. Plus, the chef is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet! (NGI REPRESENT)

I actually didn’t get to take any pictures of the food since my battery ran out right after I took this picture, but it was really good! First of all, I love this place because they gave us complimentary kale chips which was AWESOME. The menu is given along with a comic book that depicts the adventures of a hip hop vegan superhero, it’s really unique and I’m guessing they print new “episodes” all the time. I ordered the Glowing Skin MOB which was an olive and sunflower seed tapenade, avocado, grilled zucchini and cherry tomatoes on top of a pizza-like crust in the shape of the Brooklyn Bridge. Dan ordered the Brave Heart MOB which is sun-dried tomato, caper and parsley pesto with rosemary grilled portobello mushrooms and lemon. We split half of each and while I liked both I think the Brave Heart was a little better. To go on the side we got olive-oil roasted yucca fries and a Brooklyn brine pickle which were super yummy. I really wish I had gotten pictures because the food was presented so beautifully! I thought the atmosphere of MOB was great and definitely want to go back to try some of the other options, they all sound so delicious. I also really liked that the food was “real” as opposed to a lot of vegan restaurants that have a lot of imitation cheese and meat products. Maimonide is all about vegetables and healthy food that tastes great which is much more appealing to me than vegan “junk food.”

The subway line we needed to get back to Manhattan was in the same building as Target! I haven’t been in Target for so long and I went crazy and bought 2 bras and a $1 hippo-shaped watering can.

BEST SATURDAY EVER

booch face

You guys, I’m devastated. I feel like this pebble:

My camera broke because I dropped it. That’s why there have been very few recaps from class recently. Until I get a new one, I’m not going to be able to post much but hopefully I’ll have a camera to use later this week.

Other than my broken camera, life has been good! I love school, the weather’s been beautiful, my physical therapy has been going well and I successfully brewed my own kombucha!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE kombucha but I don’t love the price tag. At upwards of $4 a bottle I was thrilled to get the chance to make my own at home for pennies!

Other than being LiLo’s beverage of choice, “booch” is a fermented tea beverage and somewhat of an acquired taste (Mindy Kaling once said it tastes like champagne with phlegm in it), but it’s super popular in the health-conscious crowd for it’s beneficial properties. According to Wikipedia, “Kombucha producers often claim ‘kombucha detoxifies the body and energizes the mind’, although there is little published research on its health benefits. Proponents claim it aids cancer recovery, increases energy, sharpens eyesight, aids joint recovery, improves skin elasticity, aids digestion, and improves experience with foods that ‘stick’ going down, such as rice or pasta.” I personally love it and I feel good when I drink it as long as I don’t drink it too fast, which is similar to how I feel about tequila. It has natural probiotics (like yogurt), so if I drink too much too quickly it makes my tummy feel bubbly and weird.

A kombucha “mushroom” which is just a slimy ball of bacteria, is called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast). It looks real nasty and doesn’t get any prettier with age…

I got mine from the Natural Gourmet Institute where one of the employees, Olivia, makes kombucha all the time and agreed to give me one of the “babies.” She warned me not to go crazy and drink too much, like my mom did before I went to college, because when she first started brewing she overdid it and the kombucha leached vitamin K from her body causing her to get nosebleeds and bruises all the time. It’s powerful stuff!

After brewing some strong plain Irish Breakfast Tea and dissolving A LOT of sugar into it…

I added my scoby…

Waited for 8 days (in this position)…

And had this!

This kombucha is so much better than the bottled one’s you buy in stores, and I’m saving a lot of money making it on my own. It was surprisingly easy to make, and if you look closely in that last pic you can see I’m already brewing another batch for next week!

I highly recommend brewing kombucha for anyone who likes booch but doesn’t like wasting money. Hopefully I’ll get a new camera soon and get back to posting more pictures from class later this week!

Getting Saucy

The past couple of days have been all about sauce at the Natural Gourmet Institute. First we made stocks on Monday which was less than thrilling but necessary none-the-less since stocks are the basis to many soups, stews and sauces. Sauces are an integral part of a menu and really bump of the sex appeal of a dish. A plain old chicken breast with a side of veggies can be made so much sexier by adding a delicious and colorful sauce.

I agree that a sauce can make or break a meal but they can be a bitch to work with, especially when you try to veganize them. On Tuesday I was working on a vegan Bechamel sauce with almond milk instead of regular, and the almond milk thickened up so quickly that my sauce was like paste. I ended up altering the texture later on with more almond milk but it was a temperamental recipe for sure.

The pictures have not been too exciting but I snapped some to share.

We had a few alterations on traditional pesto including Parsely Pumpkin and Min Pistachio. I really liked both of these but I think the Basil Walnut variation we made was still my favorite.

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A yummy Leek Asparagus Coulis served over asparagus.

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Parsnip Coulis (I made this one! It contains fresh almond milk that I strained myself!)

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A vegan Corn Hollandaise (looks like Hollandaise but tastes like corn.)

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Carrot-beet Sauce which looks and acts like tomato sauce but is good for people who don’t like tomatoes or want to avoid their high acidity.

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I have to dash to class but I’m leaving you with a picture of a box.Image

Raising the Bar Granola

I was walking home today and I wanted to buy granola at the farmer’s market since I had some yogurt in my fridge and nothing to go with it. Unfortunately my plan was ruined because I had no cash and was too lazy to go to the ATM. I couldn’t let my yogurt go uneaten so this granola recipe was born.

Raisin Almond Granola

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • ¼ cup raw honey (I think any honey would do in this recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
  • ½  cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325F. Whisk together the wet ingredients in one bowl and combine the dry ingredients in another. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix with your hands until every oat is coated with the honey mixture. Spread out on a sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, making sure to periodically stir the granola around so the outer edges don’t burn. Once you take it out the over, don’t be worried if it’s not completely dry, it will crisp up as it cools.

This was honestly one of the easiest recipes I ever made; it came together in no time! I’m definitely going to make all my granola from scratch from now on. This granola recipe is also very versatile; you can use any combination of dried fruit and nuts that you want. It’s perfect for on top of Greek yogurt or as a snack all on it’s own. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Henry was not impressed my granola did not contain salmon...

Culinary School is making me broke.

Why am I going broke?

Because of this.

No not this…

This.

Whole Foods is a magical place where all my dreams have the potential to come true. Unfortunately Whole Foods caters doesn’t cater towards the 99%.

It also doesn’t help that I pass by the food mecca on my way home from class daily.

The Natural Gourmet Institute is definitely influencing my purchases. I’ve been trying to find alternatives for my beloved oatmeal after finding out that rolled oats and oat bran are not whole foods and therefore less nutritious. The past couple of days I’ve had quinoa for breakfast but I wanted to check out other grains so I hit up Whole Foods bulk section.

My bulk purchases for the day were amaranth, azuki beans, nutritional yeast and raisins. I promise I won’t eat them all together (EW!). I love the bulk bins because they are so convenient and cheap but sometimes I worry about how clean they are and how old the products are. I’m soaking the beans right now and they are looking a little wrinkly and aged… I also got some honey and a full-fat greek yogurt to try.

In our morning lecture today we talked more about Basic Quality Ingredients and focused on animal proteins. A lot of the information was a repeat for me because I studied factory farms in depth during my time as an Environmental Studies major at NYU, but I still found it quite interesting (and disturbing). What was really fascinating to me was the information Chef Céline told us about dairy and raw milk. Very few people in this country consume whole milk products (including myself). Chef told us that to make skim milk palatable, powdered milk is added which causes the milk to oxidize and become rancid. Also, modern dairy is pasteurized and homogenized so it no longer contains beneficial enzymes, vitamins and minerals that natural milk does. Class today gave me something to think about; I’m definitely curious about this whole raw milk thing and am taking the first (baby) step by sampling a full-fat yogurt.

My splurge for the day was this Lunch Pot by black + blum. It was $17.99 but I have wanted a lunch box for ages and this one was so appealing with its separate compartments and reusable lime green spork. I’m excited to start using it next week!

Tomorrow is Basic Cook Tech 4 where we will be roastin’ and toastin’! I’m off to go spend the evening with my two main men, see you on the flip side :).

Preparing for Travel by Baking Cookies

I’m leaving tonight for a vacation in Europe! My parents gave me a trip to Paris, Aachen and London as a graduation present and I am beyond excited to get on my way this evening. My first stop is Paris where I will be visiting with my freshman year roommate who I haven’t seen since last May!

Before I could start packing, however, I needed to get my bake on. I put on my new cupcake apron and set out to make a recipe from the copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar I received for Christmas. I made the Banana Everything Cookies and they were delicious. There is A LOT of oats in them so they are super chewy and taste pretty healthy. The addition of mashed banana, walnuts and chocolate chips added to the delicious factor of these babies and they were polished off by me and my family in no time. I did save one cookie to pack with me in my carry on as a snack later!

Does anyone else have the problem where you make your cookies larger than the recommended amount? This recipe made two dozen cookies but I only had eighteen! This always happens to me…

I’m kind of frightened of flying, I know it’s a silly thing to worry about but I’m always scared that something bad will happen. People always remind me that it’s much more likely to be in a car accident than a plane crash but it just feel so much more dangerous to be in the air! I usually just take a Benedryl so I get knocked out for the entire flight and don’t worry about it. I’m going to really miss this guy:

As a side note, last night I saw the movie Tintin in theaters. It was really good and there was a cat in it who looked just like Henry! It was a great adventure story and really clever, I highly recommend it and it’s not just because my cat stars in it. After baking and snapping some pics of my favorite kitty, I better get started on packing! My flight leaves in 9 hours, Europe here I come!

I probably won’t be posting once I’m abroad, but I’ll be back on the 23rd!

Birthday Eve Breakfast

Guess what crazy kids? ToMoRrOw is my BiRtHdAy!!!!!! I’m going to be 22 😀

I woke up after 9 1/2 glorious hours of sleep at 10 this morning. I was super hungry after sleeping so long and craving oats in a big way. I saw CCK‘s post about Sugar Cookie Oatmeal yesterday using sugar cookie flavored tea bags, so I thought I would try making some oats with some of my holiday inspired nutcracker tea.

In the mix: 1 1/4 cup tea, 1/2 cup oats, 1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior, cinnamon, half a banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds and a dollop of crunchy PB. It came out like this:

Pretty color (and caffeine) from the tea!

I think this recipe could be really versatile. What about green tea oatmeal with apple slices and a drizzle of honey? Or Earl Grey oatmeal with a splash of orange juice?

The rest of my morning consisted of some thread words:

I’m going to make cupcakes for my birthday tomorrow! I was looking through my copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World that I got for Christmas, and decided on making Pistachio Rosewater Cupcakes with pink vegan butter cream frosting! I gotta make a pit stop at Whole Foods later to get ingredients but I think these cupcakes are going to be awesome, girly and pretty (just like me?)!

Hopefully mine will look as pretty as this:

Before I head out I’m going to do a yoga video in my new outfit and with the new yoga mat I purchased yesterday at Lulu! I was going to do an upper body workout at the gym again today but I’m still so sore from Monday so I’m pushing that back until Friday.

Henry likes to initiate any new surface into the house by sitting on it.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m making my own bday cupcakes this year. This is actually going to be my fourth year in a row making my own cake, but I don’t mind since I love baking. I never thought it was an issue but some people seem to think its sad to make your own cake. I would love to hear some of your thoughts on the matter!

Off to ohm I go!