NEW LANDSCAPE

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Went on a hike last weekend to clear my head. Things have gotten quite busy for me around here! I’m so captivated by this new Florida landscape in which I am living. Live oaks, dripping with spanish moss and sporting tiny ferns on their huge branches, palm trees (EVERYWHERE), strange lakes and lagoons with beautiful blue birds who walk on lily pads and alligators in them. Lilly pads and cypress swaps, going way off into the distance. Then there are the regular trees that I know already, sweet gum, oak, and pine all mixed in and covered in even more spanish moss, connected to each other by swooping vines. It’s no wonder Spanish settlers searched for the fabled fountain of youth in the Florida panhandle. Sometimes I catch myself wondering if I might find it.

OMG It’s Mofo, Oops… And chickpeas

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A sinkhole that I went to my first weekend in town. The water is only emerald because it’s so deep. It’s perfectly clear otherwise.

 

So, Mofo has snuck up on me yet again. Oops. I really must change around my blogging sabbaticals so that they don’t coincide with the beginning of Mofo. So, I’m not technically on the blogroll for this year, but I’ll definitely be participating right here in my own way. If you’re not on the blogroll either, you can participate via Instagram. Use the hashtags: #veganmofo and #veganmofo2014 and post as many epic vegan food and lifestyle pics as you can during the month of September! Gosh, it’s already September. And living in Florida I won’t get my beloved fall weather until October I’m told.

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I saw an alligator in this water while hiking!

Can’t wait for snuggly warm nights under blankets, pumpkin beer, and the horror flicks I so relish as I prep for my favorite holiday, Halloween. And by horror flicks I mean that I’ll likely be under a pile of books doing research for my various papers and projects this semester. Gosh. I. LOVE. This. Life. I’m serious. I joke with my colleagues about the pressures of graduate school, but in actuality I can’t recall a time when I’ve been happier. Things have all fallen into place, and I’ve been the force that’s driven them. Wow, that’s a cool feeling. I get to talk to people who love the same things that I love, everyday. I have the most beautiful apartment and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my cat radiate more joy and stability. I’ve been cooking, always a marker of my joy, and eating beautiful, radiant foods. I’m planning a trip to my local farmer’s market tomorrow to get my first taste of local Florida produce. I can’t wait.

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But, moving along… CHICKPEAS. I’m always shouting the goodness of chickpeas to the stars, to the moon, to the gato, to anyone who will listen! They’re hands down my favorite legume, probably for their versatility. Ground, they make an amazing gluten free flour, roast some in the oven and you’ve got a delicious crunchy topping for salads, puréed the little chickpea can be the best spread in the world (hummus) or sweetened up into heavenly desserts. I’ve always got at least a couple of cans in my kitchen to rinse and drain and toss onto a salad or mix up with some various other goodies into a quick dish.

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Like THIS!

Savory Chickpeas With Caramelized Kale and Onions

1 can chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 knob ginger, minced

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup thinly sliced onion, rings separated

Several large handfuls of kale

Over medium-high heat, sauté onions until they begin to brown. Add chick peas, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until chicpeas begin to crisp slightly on the outside. Add kale, mixing to incorporate. Add tamari and lemon juice, continue cooking until all the veggies are caramelized in the soy sauce, and it has reduced into a nice glaze like coating. Remove from heat, served immediately.

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I ate my kale and chickpeas over rice, with some toasted nori and avocado on top all in a big bowl. Divine. If I had a Mofo theme this year, I might just make it chickpeas. Planning another chickpea meal for today, to be served on top of brown basmati rice cooked in saffron and garlic. Stay tuned for that one, folks!

Ginger Tamari Glazed Baked Tofu

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Ok, whew. Making an attempt to get back to some semblance of normalcy in terms of my blogging schedule. We’ll see how it goes. Hoping to post 2-3 times a week or so but that’ll depend on my class/work/reading schedules etc. I’ll try update social media (mainly Facebook and Twitter) when I’m going to be a bit more absent from the blog. Still much to report about my explorations in my new town. Also, if you haven’t wandered over already please check out  my “Thoughts on the Tattooed Vegan Body” featured yesterday on Vegan Bloggers Unite.

But, for now… TOFU.

These days it seems I make baked tofu at least a couple times a week.I usually make more than I know I’ll eat at any given meal and will use the tofu in a variety of other dishes over the course of several days. It’s a fantastic addition to your favorite wrap, salad, or sandwich and can add flavor to rice or burrito bowls. (You can definitely tell what kinds of foods I’ve been eating from that list, whew.)

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This recipe makes 2-3 servings of baked tofu, depending how hungry you are or if  you’re in the mood for sharing. It’s tangy, savory and made my whole apartment smell divine.

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Ginger Tamari Glazed Tofu

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, run through the garlic press or finely minced

1 knob ginger, skinned and minced

2-3 tablespoons tamari (depending on how robust you’d like your tofu)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

pinch of saffron

dash of turmeric

pinch of cinnamon

3 slices of tofu, about 1/4″ thick, cut diagonally into triangles

Whisk your marinade ingredients together, then pour enough marinade to cover the bottom of a greased baking dish. (I have a small pyrex dish I use just for this purpose) Lay your tofu in the marinade with enough space between the pieces that nothing touches. Then, pour the rest of your marinade over top. Bake on 350 for 15 minutes, then flip the tofu. Bake for 15 more minutes. Cool before serving.

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While your tofu is baking, go to the pool and read obviously.

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I ate the first serving of this batch of baked tofu in wrap form. My favorite tortilla pilled with hummus, fresh tomatoes, avocado, and peppers, homemade pickled onions, with baked tofu and some goddess dressing on top. Pure heaven in bean blankie.

taking shape

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Happy weekend! I’m thrilled to say that I’ve successfully completed my first week as a graduate student! Huzzah! Things are starting to fall into place for me, and I’m beginning to settle in and come into my own in my new home.

There are a few things I’ve been totally loving lately…

This post. Maybe it’s that tiny Darth Vader or seeing a blogger I’ve followed for several years so overjoyed with her own life, I’m not sure. But something about it just warmed my dark little heart.

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Coffee. So much coffee. I go through an entire french press every morning, half consumed at my apartment the other half dumped into a travel mug and guzzled down on my drive to campus and during my first hour or so there. I get up early these days, quite the shift from my languid day sleeping over the summer.

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It’s hot as blazes here, and the humidity is liking walking through a rainforest. Like breathing vegetation. Spanish moss drips from tree limbs, power lines, vines. There are crystal clear sink holes to swim in. For me, these are unfathomably deep–places where the earth’s crust opened up and aquifers flow forth. It’s no wonder the fabled fountain of youth was supposed to be in this part of the world.

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The gato has settled into his new home almost seamlessly. I’ve never seen him so happy. An entire apartment all to himself, an endless supply of food from his new automatic feeder, and his toys strewn about like some sort of feline hurricane hit.

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I’m trying to make it a regular practice of mine to go to my complex’s pool regularly. I’ll take a book (one that’s not for school) and I’ll read for a bit. Even if it’s just half an hour once a week, it helps me keep my sanity.

IMG_2492I’ve gotten back to cooking more, and hopefully I’ll have a few recipe posts up soon. Food has always been my release from the stress of life. It’s place in my day to day has become even more radiant and gratifying since my move here. Thrilled to take you along on the ride for this next culinary chapter. While I’m still not back to regular blogging yet, I’m hoping I can come up with a bit of a more regular schedule over the next couple of weeks. I’ve got some exciting ideas and hopefully a couple of reviews in the works. I know I keep saying it, but stay tuned!