Sunday, March 25, 2012

More From the Pantry: Ethopian and Soup and Stuff

So, I know I've been a little absent lately, but I've been crazy busy! Like, CRAZY busy. Two weeks ago, I flew down to Georgia to look for a place to live. I was kind of freaking out because I plan on moving at the beginning of May, and I literally only had one day to find an apartment (thanks to me not being able to miss any school and only having a limited amount of PTO). We arrived early in the afternoon, got something to eat, and then walked a mile to pick up our rental car (my boyfriend was like, "you know, the commercials say they'll pick you up!!" and I was like, "too bad... we're walking!"). Since Drew was sick (of course, that might've been why he didn't care too much for walking), I ventured out on my own while he was sleeping. I needed a kombucha.

Oh, kombucha. How I adore you!

Luckily, I found some! Athens has an Earth Fare, which is a Southern chain of health foods/natural foods stores. It reminded me a lot of the Wild Oats they used to have in downtown KC back in the day (although Earth Fare is bigger!). I am so stoked to be living in a place that has an actual health food store that sells all the things I love: bulk foods, kombucha, coconut water, and every flavor of Lara Bar, lol. They also have a pretty good selection of organic fruits and veggies and GF products. Yay!

So anywho, I drank my kombucha while I made phone calls and lists like a crazy person. I HAD to find a place to live, this was my only chance to be able to see any of the places in person, and I really didn't like the idea of signing a lease blind. I had only one apartment showing scheduled and it was at 2 pm that Thursday (the only full day we'd be in town). Nothing else worked out. However, that particular apartment was my dream apartment. It was the basement apartment of a log cabin on a local organic farm, six miles from the school. I love basement apartments because I feel all cozy and safe in them (though I'm glad I have windows in my bedroom). It's from growing up in the Midwest where there's always the threat of tornadoes (storms freak me out. I HATE tornado season). Also, this place was dog-friendly (I've been longing for a dog for years), and in the words of Drew, "it's mostly kitchen". The whole place is small, about 600 square feet (but that's what makes it affordable!), and it has an open living room/kitchen plan. I will finally be able to have enough space to put all my kitchen bits! Oh, and stick in a couch somewhere. Lol.

So yeah, dream apartment, but I didn't want to put all my hope in that one place (what if it didn't work out?). So after a nice lunch at The Grit with all my future lab professors, the Plant Biology department chair, and my fungal lab colleagues, I headed out with Drew to see my (hopefully) future home. It was perfect! My landlord and his wife live upstairs and after I looked around, they asked if I wanted to sign the lease. Uh, YEAH. So I did. Immediately, it was like a wave of relief. I had a place to live for when I move down in May, and now I could actually sit back and enjoy the rest of my stay in Georgia.

So I guess now that I have that taken care of, plus the fact that my last day of class is April 30, and I've already turned in my notice at work (so ready to leave the pesticide plant!), I'm just going through the motions these last few weeks (and also filling imaginary shopping carts with all the new furniture I'm going to buy!).

Seriously, is that not the most beautiful rug ever??? It goes perfect with the vintage vibe I want to have going on. Too bad it's expensive, and not vegan. But I digress...

I guess, the point of all that is that it's put some serious fire in my pantry challenge. I've been doing a lot of cooking and I've made some really good things (I also have lots more goodies on the way!). I'm waiting to the very last possible moment to pack up all my cookbooks. Here's a few things I've made:

1. Eastern European Lentil Soup: This is one of my favorite soup recipes, and I think that I finally have it perfected. For one, fire-roasted tomatoes are a must. And for second, earlier this month I made falafel that had a soyogurt sauce made with plain soyogurt, fresh lemon juice and rind, cumin, and parsley. Topping the soup with this instead of the plain stuff added some great flavor. Pantry items used: all my lentils, canned tomatoes, spices.

2. Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Soup with White Beans: This is a Vegetarian Times recipe (and photo!!). I pretty much stuck to the recipe with this one, other than I adapted it to fit my pantry challenge. I basically just used dry Great Northern beans instead of canned white, and I used dried spices. I also used half dry sun-dried tomatoes and half packed in oil. I was able to get rid of all my dried ones that way! Oh, and I also subbed frozen spinach. Pantry items used: dried beans, sun-dried tomatoes, spices, canned tomatoes, frozen spinach.

Mine didn't actually look like this though...

3. Ye'misir Wat and Ye'abesha Gomen: I made some awesome Ethiopian food! Translated it's yellow split peas in a spicy gravy and mild collard greens. I ordered a copy of Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food a month or two ago and I finally got around to making something. It was awesome! I meant to cook some millet to go with it but I forgot. I guess I'll just save it for my next round of Ethiopian food! In general, Kittee has created an awesome zine and I can't wait to try some other recipes from it. Pantry items used: yellow split peas, spices, and the last random 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance stick hanging out in my fridge.I plan on taking a picture of this meal tomorrow.

4. Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip and Mocha Chip Cookies: This was my first attempt at gluten-free cookie baking. I only made a small half-recipe (and then divided the dough in two so that I could make two flavors), and one was more of a success than the other. The recipe suggested that you wait 10 minutes before baking, but the second pan (the mocha chip ones) came out way better. I'm guessing it was because of the additional sit-time. The cookies were still good, but I'm going to tweak the recipe a little more before I post anything. Also, in a bit of PMS ridiculousness, I made some Mocha Chip cookie bits so that I could have gluten-free, vegan cookie dough ice cream. Awww yeah.

And in general I've been eating a lot of bananas and frozen green beans. I'm not really sure what's up with me and the green beans right now (I'm going through 2 pounds a week...), but they seem to taste really amazing with country Dijon mustard. Lol. I'm definitely on a kick right now. It must be spring! I'm so ready for tasty spring fruits and veggies!! Anywho, more cooking, plus recipes, later! 


Ingrid said...

Congrats on finding a place so quickly! And good luck on the move!

There are a few Ethiopian restaurants around here, but I've never tried them nor attempted anything at home.

I go through "food phases" too, where I eat the same things over and over, so you're not alone! :)

Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

Actually, making Ethiopian food at home is pretty easy once you get some berbere seasoning, although, I had to order mine online (yay Amazon!).

I really like Ethiopian food. It's really nourishing and at the same time, it's completely unlike anything you've ever tasted before. The spices are magic! You should give it a try! :)

And thanks for the luck!

Margaret said...

I wanted to lick the screen as I'm on day 22 of my 30-40 juice cleanse. Always looking for inspiration for meals to fix my family. Thank you!!

Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

Thank you!

And your motivation to stick with your juice cleanse is impressive!! Good luck in these final stretches!