Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Happy New Year!
I hope your New Year's Resolution isn't to lose a few pounds, because you might add a few just by looking at this picture! Actually, these Chocolate Mint Melties from Dreena's newest book, "Eat, Drink and Be Vegan," contain spelt flour (very healthy!) instead 0f plain ol' non-nutritious white. I used the crushed candy canes as a topping, as recommended in the book, and they were enjoyed by all on Christmas Eve! Like Dreena suggests, they really do taste like a Girl Scout Thin Mint!
Sadly enough, these were the only cookies I made this holiday season. I was so busy with school (my students and parent volunteers deserve the best!) and my mother's surprise birthday party, and then a last-minute job interview, I barely had time to get the basic gifts and wrap them! But with meetings and get-togethers already planned for January, I know I'll have plenty of opportunities to bake and cook in 2008!
During my Christmas travels, I enjoyed eating out several times and you know what? I was pleasantly surprised to have NO food problems! Usually, there is one place that I am disappointed in, but every time I explained that I, "couldn't have dairy or eggs," the server graciously spoke with the chef or took care of the dish to ensure my requests were granted. First off, for a pleasant treat, was Leah Mae's Tea Room in Haverhill, Massachusetts. We took my grandmother there for lunch one day, and I after realizing that I couldn't eat the meat pies (seriously!), the quiche, or even the soups (mushroom and butternut squash both with cream!), they graciously whipped up a salad with pecans, fresh mango and a mango dressing. I was so thrilled and it was so happily done - I hope everyone gets a chance to check out this quaint establishment! There is no website for it, but the link above leads you to its address.
The second eating out adventure was at Bertucci's, a pizza and Italian food chain known for its brick-oven pizzas (oh they are so good!). The waitress happily obliged me as I searched for a mixed drink and then created my cheeseless pizza. No mistakes there, either! A day later, we supped at Romaine's, in Northborough, Mass. As you can guess by the big slices of partially cooked meat at the top of their website, they do specialize in meatier fare. However, the server was once again on top of her game. Although I ordered the veggie-sounding Wood-Roasted Vegetables with Polenta (and 12 year-old balsamic!), she caught my goof - the polenta is cooked with butter and cheese! She quickly suggested some penne pasta with olive oil and I couldn't have been happier. In fact, I enjoyed my meal more than others in my group, who got the cream-sauce laden fish! I certainly felt light and yet filled afterwards.
Finally, on New Year's Eve, we ended up at Radhuni's, an Indian restaurant that has become our local favorite. The flavors, textures, and service are always wonderful. Best of all, since everyone is at Lone Star Steakhouse around the corner, we never have to wait - even on this busy night! The servers know their menu inside and out, and now so do I, and we have our favorites: bengan bharta (eggplant), lentil dal, vegetable curry, and aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower - oh, yum!).
Meanwhile, here is what we made for our New Year's Day dinner. I know that beans are considered lucky for New Year's in many cultures, especially black-eyed peas, so I made these Stewed Black-eyed Peas and Greens from Susan V. at Fat Free Vegan. They were so simple to make, I was worried that they wouldn't taste very good. Was I surprised! Despite substituting fresh collard greens for the frozen spinach, and having to add more salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce (my husband says that's the only hot sauce brand to buy!), we both enjoyed the meal over some brown rice. It was deliciously 'stewy.' I really loved the cooked okra (remember to buy it pre-cut when it's frozen!). I kept picking the okra out of the pot to nibble on!
Speaking of New Year's, every year I look back on the previous year's resolutions, to see how well I did. In 2007, I made a pact to eat more leafy greens - and I did it! I enjoyed lots of kale, some collard greens, fresh spinach and of course tons of different greens in salads. Of course, that wasn't my only goal. I wanted to get more involved in groups that are meaningful to me, and lo and behold I found and joined my local Veg Group and reinvigorated my membership with the Sierra Club! I also started composting and just last week I laid paper and mulch to ready the ground for my veggie garden (I usually just have potted plants on my deck). This year, I found that I need to continue my personal goals (reading and writing more - maybe finish that book?), as well as my spiritual ones, but I feel really good about my health! Still, I will challenge myself to try more complicated recipes in 2008. Top of my list? - Maki-sushi (I've only ever made inari style), spanikopita (got to get over my fear of phyllo dough!), and samosas (baked, of course!). So, dear readers, hold me to it!
On a side note..... I was desperately saddened by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto this past week. I was upset not just because she was a woman, nor because she was probably Pakistan's best hope for leadership, but because it seems that the world cannot climb out of the rut of killing and hatred. My one New Year's Resolution and hope for the world every year is love. People who scoff at the idea of peace and loving, saying, "People will always kill each other," are giving up before they have begun. As JFK once put it, "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." I have decided, then, to change the name of this blog to better reflect my mindset for the year and truly for life - for myself and all others. May peace reside in your heart always. Peace towards not just your family members, but towards your co-workers, clients, neighbors, and utter strangers. If there is no hope, there is no chance.