Friday, February 25, 2011

Dogs and kids

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Menu catch up Feb 25 + introduction to real raw vegan culture

Q: Eric, what's the hardest part about going vegetarian, cold turkey?

A: The food is easy. Keeping up the stupid blog is by far the hardest part.

So here's the last 4 days, or at least the blurry, low-light camera phone shots I managed to get in the last five days.

I've pretty much been eating chocolate and bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And cheese and vegetables. In that order.

But also:

Some fancy Risotto with feta from Restaurant Josef in Zurich, Switzerland:
(I also had a great green salad and some potato gnocchi at that place. Each plate was a pretty small serving. Other meals on this short trip included pretzel sandwich with cheese and tomato and a green salad with grilled pumpkin and almonds at the airport)

I went to a Korean place in Leicester Square with Jaime at the beginning of the week. Here's some tasty fried egg rice:
And rice noodles with vegetables of some sort. Also super tasty, especially with the chili sauce you can see made friends with both dishes:

Tonight, Jaime and I went to Saf, a critically acclaimed raw vegan restaurant that's right below our apartment. Literally the same building. We figured we should eat there while it's still February and I'm still vegetarian.

I ordered the lasagna, containing raw bolognaise, rustic pesto, marinara, olive relish, herb cheese and mushroom (yes, cheese made from herbs and no animal milk of any kind):
It was decent. But cold. And kind of a chore when compared to real lasanga with noodles and normal cheese. There's a good vegetable lasanga at a deli/cafe by my office. It's not vegan but it's vegetarian and I love it. I'm really not sure why Saf was so against noodles and bread of any normal sort. I make what I think is perfectly vegan pizza dough all the time at home. What's the problem? Anyway, Much (but not all) of this restaurant seemed kind of over the top hipster and masochistic. See more on that in Jaime's dish ----->

Jaime ordered Grilled Seitan, which she thought was funny, first of all because it's pretty much pronounced like "Satan," and also because it was mentioned as the stereotypical lame vegetarian food on the TV show "Parenthood" this week. Mushroom ragout, smoky aubergine salad, roasted curly kale with mushroom gravy. Sounds delicious, right? The smoky aubergine salad was gag-worthy (that lump on the right). I mean really, really bad. I think they might have messed it up. The rest of pretty good, but the completely overwhelming smoke stench and taste unfortunately kind of ruined the rest of the dish:

So, another learning of this month, which I can say with some empathy: I don't mind being vegetarian. It's pretty good when done well. But vegan can be straight-up sad.

I haven't been cheating. I've just been busy.

Stand by for a lazy, rushed incomplete recap of the last 4 days.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Menu Feb 21

Breakfast: green machine from Starbucks on the walk to work (Jaime hooked me up with a gift card)

Lunch: Korean rice bowl with egg, vegetable and chili sauce (no picture, sorry).

Dinner: Jaime made what she called "Greek Tofu"(pictured) to which she of course insisted on adding pineapple, so I call it "Greek-Polynesian Tofu." Got some serious tang to it with lemon juice, feta and pineapple. The tofu pretty much just soaks up the taste of anything around it. I couldn't distinguish its own taste.

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See and download the full gallery on posterous

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Feb 20 - Sunday home cooking

Sunday morning brunch: Jaime passed up this awesome scomelet i made with bell peppers, grape tomatos and mature cheddar and Tabasco, with toast. But I enjoyed it.

And for an early dinner: Basil+ Naan with houmus and my favorite cucumber salad with tomatoes, bell peppers and fresh buffallo mozzarella cheese. The dressing is a dill-herb mix i picked up at a German deli. We used to use this dressing all the time in Germany. Tasty.

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Menu Feb 19 - Greenwich Market

Jaime and I went to Greenwich on Saturday, where the Prime Meridian (0 longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is based. For more on our day in Greenwich, see Jaime's blog here.
We grabbed food at the Greenwich Market which has food and boutique textile/fashion vendors. I've attached a picture of a pasta-mozzarella-pesto ball I got. I also ate some sambosas with lentils and some cheese tomatoes bread, all from different vendors.
One thing I'll miss about London is the open air food markets.

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Oh well.

This is outside the club directly below our apartment here in London. This sign is completely ignored all night long on most nights, I assure you.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Menu Feb 17-18

Breakfast is usually Belvita biscuits and fruit. Sometimes yogurt and juice. Let's just establish that and cover lunches and dinners, shall we? I'll let you know if a major breakfast deviation occurs. Promise.

Yesterday lunch: Egg/mayo sandwich from Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks. No pic. Not worth it.
Yesterday dinner: Pizza from the Italian by-the-slice place by work (working late, got hungry). I like their pizza. One had cucumbers, mushrooms and buffalo mozzarella. Another had potatoes on it. Another was pretty much margarita. and Check it out

Today lunch: pasta with roasted tomatoes, fresh basil and feta cheese chunks with some sort of tomatoe/olive oil dressing - from Marks and Spencer. Realized after eating it that it probably would have been good heated up.

Today dinner: Homemade salad with spinach and other greens, cucumbers, baby plum tomatoes, and jaime's whole wheat croutons. Dijon dressing.
And Jaime went to Borough market and got a couple pies for dinner. Mine had potatoes, cheese, chives, and probably some other stuff. It was good with ketsup.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

At its best.

Last time I lived outside the US, it was in Germany and I was 19-21 years old. It certainly wasn't the proverbial youthful backpacking through Europe or college semester abroad. I was wearing a tie every day (yes, even weekends), working 80 hours a week mostly in a foreign language and I only called home twice a year. Pretty much a kid jumping headfirst into adulthood. As much as that sounds like hell, it wasn't (most of the time). I cried when it was time to go home and take a much deserved break and go back to school.

Now I'm back across the pond working again but in a much different way. As an American with experience living abroad, I feel I've been acutely aware of what makes me different, and how I'm perceived here (that's not to say I don't also have lots in common with folks here). I sometimes think about the States and things I miss as well as things I wish were more like Europe. This morning on my walk to work, a thought popped into my head:

It doesn't get any better than America at its best (but only at its best).

Call me biased. But you better be an American living abroad to even argue with me.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Menu Feb 16

Here is a photo of a simple, good old salad (with home made croutons Jaime just whipped up). I share this picture because:
A) I've been told I need more pictures on here.
B) Even though I'm supposedly a vegetarian, I have been eating very few salads. About the same amount I'd be eating normally.

Otherwise i had risotto for lunch at Smith's at Smithfield market. Team lunch with the work crew. You must know that Smithfield market is a bagillion year old giant meat market. Just meat. So Smith's is a great restaurant for meat dishes. And i got the risotto. Somebody give me a medal.

And for dinner i had the above salad and leftover pasta and mac/cheese from the last two nights' awesome dinners.

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Mid-month observations of Veggie February

I've found that in my normal carnivore life I often opt for the lean meats and whole wheats (nice rhyme). And when i'm a vegetarian, I often opt for the fried food, butter, cream, extra cheese and sugar, which is not normal for me, but my body seems to crave it more. I'm not that unhealthy of an eater when i'm on my normal diet that includes meat, so ironically enough, going vegetarian may not be particularly good for me. But it has been delicious. And it's a good thing i've been walking around London a lot, burning more calories than I usually do in my normal american life driving from chair to chair.

It's probably not enough, though.

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Menu Feb 14-15 with a guest blogger: Valentine's Dinner

In honor of her awesome dinner on feb 14, I (Eric) asked Jaime to be my guest menu blogger for a day:

I (Jaime, the guest blogger who originally started this blog) thought the restaurants would be too crowded on Valentine's Day, so I decided to make something delicious. I get regular e-mails from (which I am pretty sure is put out by Martha Stewart), and there was a recipe for a Pumpkin-Sage Cream Sauce that looked perfect for a special day. I also made some Lemon Roasted Broccoli, cucumber salad, and I tried to make rice pudding. Unfortunately, Eric did not get any pictures, but this meal tasted so much better than it looked anyway.

Alfredo sauce and I have never gotten along. It always turns out watery or the cheese sticks together in a lump. That being said, I found a remedy: Pumpkin-Sage Cream Sauce. This was not only perhaps the best creamy pasta sauce I have had (and pasta is my favorite food), but it was super simple. The pumpkin does the thickening, so all you have to do is:

Mix cream, 1/2 can of pumpkin, chopped sage, a small handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese (but, I used Pecarino which is a mix between Parmesan and Manchego cheese), sea salt and pepper in a sauce pan. Stir until it is heated through, remove from heat, and add a tablespoon of butter. Serve over nice linguine.

To make the Roasted Lemon Broccoli which, in the words of Eric, "Tastes like candy," all you do is: toss together Broccoli florets, thinly sliced garlic, walnut oil, olive oil, sea salt, pepper. Roast at 425°F for ~20 minutes, stirring after 8 minutes, adding sliced almonds in the last 3. Take it out. Put it all in a serving bowl. Squirt with lemon juice. Top with cheese (I used the pecorino).

Those two dishes were so delicious, I may just make them again with my leftover cream and pumpkin and put a picture up here.

The cucumber salad came from a packet that Eric and I got at a German store. It was all in German, so I had to e-mail Eric for the translation. It was a mix of tasty nostalgia for Eric.

Happy Valentine's day to me.

Last night we went to a restaurant called Tom's Kitchen at Somerset House (Check out that link...fancy). It is located right on the river, and we sat in a big fancy booth and ordered too much good food that we get to have for leftovers today. Today I also get to walk off all that good food we had last night that was drenched in cheese and butter.

Here's a picture Eric took of his Macaroni Cheese and truffle chips (fries), with my cheesy cauliflower to the left.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekend Menu Feb 12-13

b: grapefruit with yogurt + granola
l: mini Reese's cups and popcorn while watching "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on the big screen at St. Charles Cinema (that's right.)
d: "Melbourne" pizza with mozzarella, tomato sauce, brie, sweet roasted butternut squash and balsamic roasted red onions, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. from Fire & Stone pizza place + a greek salad

b/l: (Slept in) granola with orange and peach juice instead of milk
d: Leftovers from Feb 10. Still just as good.
...and Jaime made chocolate chip cookies, with oats from the granola.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Menu Feb 11

I'm getting behind in these posts, which I'm SURE captivate you. But I started and it seems dumb to stop now. So here's Friday's veggie Feb food:

Breakfast: same ol'
Lunch: pictured here, Vietnamese noodles and spring rolls
Dinner: tasty pizza by the slice specials from a place by work (after working late) and a goat cheese, sweet potatoes, spinach and garlic pie Jaime picked up at "Pie Minister" at Borough Market, waiting for me in the fridge while she was at her Harry Potter tour of London.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Menu Feb 10 - Roasted Bell Pepper Stuffed with Awesome.

Jaime collects cookbooks. She's not much one for wingin' it in the kitchen and she has a great love of good recipes. She definitely gives them her own touch, but suffice it to say she appreciates a good recipe, and she has many. Many, many.

She's been sitting on this recipe from her brother, Brad for Roasted Bell Pepper Stuffed with Bulgar and Spinach and made it for the first time tonight. It has currants (sweet black raisins), cashews, bell peppers and feta in it (from Jaime - actually I don't know what kind of cheese it was. I went to the cheese and bread store around the corner and they said this particular cheese was very good and crumbly like feta, but tastes more like goat cheese. It had mold growing all over it that I had to cut that off: "really nice, from France," said the worker.), among other things and the obvious ingredients mentioned in the name of the dish.

It was like candy. So good. And there's a lot of leftovers of the stuffing. Thank you, Brad.

I'm going backwards today, starting with dinner. Lunch and breakfast were good too.

Lunch: Waitrose tomato and fresh basil soup that pretty much tastes and eats like chunky pasta sauce. Complimented with cheese tortellini in cheese sauce.

Breakfast: Some awesome yogurt mixed with apples and cinnamon. I always have blueberries when i get into the office in the morning too. It's nice that Kalai, our office manager always has fresh blueberries in the office.

And I just polished off my palette with Ben & Jerry's Phish Food ice cream. America the Beautiful.

Menu Feb 9

I don't remember what I ate yesterday, but it was kosher for Vegie-Feb. I do remember dinner, since I found a blurry picture on my phone:

Minestrone Soup from Waitrose (decent grocery store here in London), Asparagus and good bread from The Food Hall, a cool little fresh market/eatery around the corner from our apartment near Hoxton Square.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Menu Feb 8: Potent odors and eating cookies for breakfast

Good day of digesting:

Belvita breakfast biscuits, blue berries and grapes
Vegetable pasta for lunch
And I went with some co-workers to a very popular, authentic Pakistani restaurant near Brick Lane. Three of us were only eating vegetarian, so I had good support and it was delicious. But I came home smelling like a very crowded and authentic Pakastani restaurant. I had to throw all my clothes in the wash and take a shower just so Jaime could handle it.

A note about Belvita breakfast biscuits: Remember, "biscuit" in the UK = "cookie" in the US. These things are pretty much if Keebler elves went granola and marketed them for breakfast. Right. Up. My. Alley. They are made with whole grains and slow baked, which supposedly ensures the carbohydrates are regularly released over 4 hours...until lunch. And they are delicious. I blame Jaime for ever providing me opportunity to grow accustomed to eating cookies for breakfast (they're just sitting there on the counter from her baking the day before - what am i supposed to do when i'm running out the door in the morning - NOT eat them?), but I thank Belvita for helping to redeem me in my habit.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Feb 7 + the creeping entrance of cravings

It's been a week. And for the most part it's been easy. But it started getting a little harder late last night, while i watched a bit of the Super Bowl with horrible British commentary and sans US commercials. I craved buffalo wings. Maybe I hoped the buffalo wings would somehow make up for the lack of Super Bowl commercials.

Today at lunch, i bypassed all the delicious variations of chicken paninis (and there are a lot of them) for a vegetarian melt with eggplant, peppers and cheese. It was good, but it wasn't amazing. I'm staying strong. So far. But dinner better be amazing. I think I might make a killer omelet.

I've also noticed that I'm eating more chocolate that I find laying around, and its probably more than I'd be eating if I didn't feel like I was going through some sort of withdrawals. There's always chocolate at work and usually small amounts of it at home that Jaime bought. I never buy it myself, but I find myself reaching for it a lot more than before.

I think I have to go do something manly to keep up my testosterone levels. In Boulder this would be easy, go climb a mountain with my dog or something. Here, it's like...i don't know. What do you do to feel masculine in London? You eat meat, like the British so proudly and regularly do. I'll just have to listen to harder rock and ROLL and push through this.

UPDATE - 9:16pm:

Jaime made quessadillas with tomatoes and avacado and mexican rice. I slapped a fried egg and hot sauce on top and called it Huevo Rancheros Londonos. And I bought hot sauce on the way home to make sure it wasn't lacking. Here's the last of it.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Menu Feb 6 (Fast Sunday)

Some of my friends and coworkers may be surprised to learn this, but once a month (the first Sunday of each month), Jaime and I fast for about 24 hours, or two meals. There's a few reasons we (and a bunch of other Mormons you may know and just don't know they are LDS) do this:
  1. It's a tangible way to invoke and express gratitude for the things we have, i.e. easy access to good food and clean water as well as a million other blessings we're lucky to have. I've found that gratitude and daily happiness are directly proportional.
  2. A real-life application of self-mastery. It may be symbolic or it may be literal, but either way it's a simple and regular practice of overcoming the "natural man," or any carnal desires that may be natural, but shouldn't be abused. Mormons are somewhat big on becoming better ("stronger, faster!"), more awesome and simply good versions of themselves, whether that's a bus driver, an accountant, a musician, a husband or student. We're all neighbors, brothers, sisters and humans, so in the very least we could keep in mind how we could be better at those roles, and thus make the world a bit of a better place.
  3. Fasting two meals saves a couple pennies. One of the reasons I really like being a part of my church, even in this secular age where being active in any church is pretty outlandish (and usually pegs you as a close-minded right-wing evangelist, which I'm not) is that it's a place that actually provides me real-life opportunities to actually act Christian, not just believe Christianity (they are not the same thing). That is to say, there are simple and powerful programs in place that allow me to actually serve people both in and out of the organization, even when my lazier instincts would be to not bother. One of those ways is "Fast Offerings." Jaime and I take the money we save from skipping a couple meals (and then add some extra for good karma when we can) and put it in a fund that's set aside specially to help those that really need it (think like: The Salvation Army). It's a small token for those that are not as fortunate as we are. We've been doing this ever since we had any sort of income and roof over our heads. It's simple charity born through simple sacrifice that happens to be good for us anyway. When you think of it that way, and now that we're in the habit, it almost seems silly not to take part.
Not to mention a small fast once a month is physically healthy for most people (not everyone), so why not?

Anyway, that's just to serve as an explanation for why my menu today didn't start until after 5pm and was just a red pepper and carrot soup with bread and home made salad (with avocado, mmmm). And Then Jaime made chocolate chip cookies, which I've decided is my favorite vegetarian food. (Yes, that's a joke, but no, I'm not kidding. And yes, that last sentence does make sense).

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Menu + Tate Modern Feb 5

I was nourished by art on Saturday and nothing else.

Okay's that's a lie, although art is technically vegetarian, I got hungry and nommed:

Yogurt and granola
German pretzel bread from a German deli near Borough Market
My favorite toasted cheese sandwich with onions, garlic and leeks from Kappacasien at Borough Market (pictured below and at the link)
Salad leftovers from my fridge and seasoned fries from the American Diner down the street from our apartment.

Below are also some pictures I snapped at Borough Market and the Tate Modern museum. Good times.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Menu Feb 4

Some Swiss berry yogurt parfait thing
Giant Turkish/Lebanese salad box veggie-couscous-grapeleaf-bean-goat cheese thing from an open air market near work. I got it for the reusable tupperware, just as much as the salad. (pictured here)
Homemade salad with farm fresh hard-boiled egg + bread (pictured)

And I feel some nutella/pb coming on.

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Band of Horses show at the Academy Brixton, London

Front row, cool theater, great show. And the imagery they projected behind the band during songs made me proud to be a Western American. Beautiful photos from pretty much every national park and similar area from the Northwest to the Grand Canyon. At a show in London.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Menu Feb 3

BelVita biscuits, grapes and blueberries form the office
Same falafel veggie panini wrap thing I had yesterday (Jaime visited me for lunch today :) )
Leftover pasta salad from yesterday with bread olive oil/balsamic vinegar dipping concoction

Now I'm at the Band of Horses show. See ya.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Menu Feb 2 (dinner)

Jaime made spinach and ricotta tortillini salad and cheesy toast. Tasty.

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Menu Feb 2

I'm only half way through the day, but this grilled falafel vegetarian wrap was really, really good, so I thought I'd share.

I pretty much just had a mandarin orange for breakfast, btw.

So far, this is easy.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Menu Feb 1

Nothing out of the ordinary:
Cherry yogurt and granola
Spicy lentil and tomato soup and good crusty bread
Jaime's Chocolate chip cookies/milk (yes, before dinner)
Curry ramen stir fry with bell peppers, carrots and broccoli. (leftovers pictured)

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Vegetarian for February


We'll see.

Normally, when I commit to something, I commit to something. I don't say "maybe, we'll see" because I usually consider that a spineless way of saying "I have no intention of following through, but I lack the conviction to just say no for now." The only reason I'm not 100% confident in this attempt to eat no meat for a month is because Jaime said she didn't want to try it with me. So our diets are bound to clash. And Jaime knows that if there's one thing I hate doing, it's wasting food. I'd rather break my vegetarian commitment than see some chicken curry leftovers go bad in the fridge, untouched, while kids are starving in St. Anthony, ID.

So, we'll see. Besides the above mentioned anticipated challenge, I don't see any serious challenge. The idea of doing this started because I would occasionally find myself remarking at the end of the day how I was accidentally vegetarian that day. I hadn't tried to avoid meat, it just happened. I love cheese and salads and good bread and olive oil and...stuff. I'm trying hard to avoid saying chicken and bacon, because i love those too, but I'll survive without them. The point is, I haven't been a big red meat eater in the last several years, and I've never been a big "steak" guy, so excluding the challenge of avoiding fried chicken and chicken salad sandwiches and stir fries and Asian meat dishes, i'm not worried. Central London makes it super easy to be vegetarian. Lots of vegetrian sandwiches and soups and salads to pick from. Breakfast and lunch will be relatively easy.

The reason? I don't really have a reason beyond I want to be able to say I've done it. I want to have empathy for those who feel stronger about this stuff than I do. And I know that most meat you buy in the normal supermarket and average restaurants probably isn't very good for you, so I want to see if I feel better when avoiding it completely for an entire month. If I do feel a lot better, I'll probably avoid it more in the future, and it won't feel like a sacrifice, rather a treat to avoid it. That said, I have no intention of total meat abstinence after this month.

Yes, I picked the shortest month of the year. But I may have also picked the coldest month of the year, when my traditionally carnivorous body subconciously craves hearty meat dishes, so I figure they even each other out.

I'll try to keep a food log here of what I'm eating for two reasons:

  1. Keep me honest
  2. I want to be able to look back at it myself and see what the reality is for someone who doesn't eat meat for that long. It may serve as a good recipe book for the future.
  3. Okay, three reasons. I also want to have a record of how much other animal product (dairy/eggs) is in my vegetarian diet, so I can have real cause behind my current opinion that vegans are masochistic nuts who are missing out on happiness. For example: Jaime's Chocolate Chip cookies (with eggs and milk chocolate chips), or ANY cheese on ANY pizza or sandwich. I can't even fathom life without it.
And, go.

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