Tuesday, August 26, 2014

chopped salad, parmesan rosemary biscotti, chai-spiced chocolate ice cream

This week, we made a hefty chopped salad for dinner. I know, a salad for a vegetarian and a mostly vegetarian, right? Lame. But this is a really good salad. The recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen, and instead of salami, we used Italian veggie sausage. The only other changed I'd make in the future is to use half the salt called for in the recipe. 

To go with the salad, I made parmesan rosemary biscotti, from My Name is Yeh. I made these when Drew wasn't home and they were so good that I shamelessly ate two right away.
I also made chai-spiced chocolate ice cream, from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, whose authors opened up the Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco. Drew and I stopped there on our road trip from California to Wisconsin and loved the place. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Don't laugh, but the first time I had paella was in Shanghai. Drew's friend got a promotion and he wanted to celebrate at this fancy tapas restaurant. So we gorged on paella (well, me and Drew's friend since Drew's a vegetarian) and tapas and it was one of the best meals ever.

The second time I ate paella was at La Tasca in Washington, D.C. a couple months ago. I don't remember how it compared to the paella I ate in Shanghai, but it was really good and I loved the sangria.
Drew had never eaten paella, so we made it the other day. The recipe is from the Candle 79 cookbook, which  is a legendary vegan restaurant in New York City. Drew and I ate there a couple years ago, and while it was very good and we'd eat there again, all I remember is that we ate this amazing smoked paprika hummus. 

I cannot articulate how much we enjoyed this paella. This is a meal that you could make for special occasions or for guests, but it's so easy to make that you could easily make it on a weeknight. 

salted caramel brownies

Caramel is my nemesis, and I get it right only about 50% of the time. Yet, I keep at it, hoping to perfect it and also because sometimes I have a hankering for caramel brownies and just can't bring myself to make them with store bought caramels or caramel sauce (though I will confess that I had a moment of weakness and desperation and almost caved and bought the Ghirardelli caramel turtle brownie mix). 
Anyway, I made salted caramel brownies, from the Smitten Kitchen blog. As expected, I messed up the caramel before getting it right. Turns out that it needs your undivided attention and you can't multitask and make granola at the same time. 

I'm so glad I didn't cave and buy the mix. These brownies are super good, and while I kind of wish I could share them with you, I kind of like having them (almost) all to myself (I do have to share with Drew).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

days 5, 6, 7: Portland to Green Bay

After a nice rest in Portland, we hauled ass to the middle of Montana, where we spent the night at my cousin's house. And then we drove through North Dakota and spent the night in Bismarck, which was quite an experience. First off, let me say that driving through North Dakota was not nearly as painful as I'd anticipated. I thought it would be incredibly boring, but it wasn't. From the highway, we saw the world's largest metal sculpture and the world's largest Holstein cow. We also saw signs directing people to the world's largest sand crane and the world's largest...hmmm, I can't remember and neither can Drew. 

Anyway, in Bismarck, we ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Now, having just spent a year in China, Drew got into the habit (and even enjoys it) of eating authentic Chinese food the authentic Chinese way, which involves seasoning your food with vinegar. So, he asks our server for some vinegar, and while she goes to get it, I say "You know she's going to come back with white vinegar, right?" But Drew is optimistic and even though we are at an American Chinese restaurant in the midwest, he maintains hope that she'll come back with table vinegar. She didn't, and I totally called it because she returned with white vinegar.

After our short stay in Bismarck, we continued on to Minnesota and went to my grandparents' house, where we spent the night and saw my parents and aunts and uncles. Finally, we headed to Green Bay, and even thought we were thwarted by a flat tire about 25 miles away, we made it!

days 3 and 4: Portland

From the looks of it, it seems like we got stuck in Portland and never left, but we did, and in fact, we've been Green Bay residents now for a little over a week. It's just that I didn't have internet access for a while, and then we we got it, I didn't have time to update my blog.

We spent a couple days in Portland, hanging out with Drew's friends. We went on a nice hike, ate awesome vegan bbq at the Homegrown Smoker, had a vegan brunch at the Hungry Tiger, drank craft beer, browsed at Powell's Books, and ate donuts at Blue Star Donuts and Voodoo Doughnut (in case you're wondering, Blue Star beats Voodoo). Basically, we fell in love with Portland and weren't sure if we wanted to leave.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

day 3: redding to portland

There's no turning back now. This is really happening. 

It was not until the third day that moving to Green Bay felt real. Up until this point, it felt like we were on vacation and that we would eventually turn around and head back home because it is not unreasonable to drive from Irvine to Redding (I know this because my friend is from Redding and her mom just did it). 

We learned that the last In-N-Out on the 5 is in Redding, so we stopped there before heading out to Portland.  
Having driven almost the entire length of California, I will say that it is a beautiful state. Northern California looked and felt so different from Southern California, or at least Orange County. I didn't realize how diverse California was, both culturally and topographically, until we drove through it.   

We could not believe how rural it was in northern California, and more than once, we commented that with all the farmland, it felt like we were in Virginia or Minnesota (except with hills). 

You can barely see it, but that signs says "Oregon welcomes you." 
Drew has a couple friends in Portland, so we are taking a couple days to eat vegan food and donuts. 

day 2: gilroy and san francisco

We left Monterey for Gilroy, which is famous for its annual garlic festival. We missed the festival by a few days, but we stopped anyway and bought some garlic and smoked garlic olives. 

From there, we headed up to San Francisco, where we took a break and ate some ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery, which I recently saw on this list of 27 ice cream places in the world that you have to visit. It was well worth the stop and it was quite possibly the best ice cream I'd ever eaten in my life, which I guess is why it was on this list anyway.

After our break, we wove our way through the streets of San Francisco to the Golden Gate bridge. 

Before driving across it, we stopped at the viewing area to first walk across part of it. 
It was really windy, and I will admit that it was cold and we were underdressed.

We saw fewer palm trees in central and northern California, and instead, we saw a lot of these trees:
After San Francisco, we headed north to Redding to stay the night.