Tuesday, November 28, 2006

McCooles skarpifny night

Some girlfriends and I recently visited McCoole's at the Historic Red Lion Inn in Quakertown. McCoole's is a great little historic place on the corner of Broad and Main in Quakertown. Their tag line is "Upscale atmosphere for the working person's wallet." That's definitely the vibe they have going. It reminds me of a place your parents would've taken you to celebrate a birthday or Father's Day. It's elegant, but not luxurious.

I've eaten in the dining room before, this time our primary mission was snacks and drinks, so we opted for the bar area. The inn was recently renovated and is quite warm, very welcoming and absolutely has that old, upscale saloon feel. The walls are all wood paneled in rich tones, the foyer is deep with layers of tile, plants and comfy yet period-appropriate furniture. Most importantly, the service is brilliant.

The bartenders and waiters are helpful and fun (besides the usual veg*n questions, we had celiac ones as well), and the service is quick. Our chef even came out to hand deliver one of our dishes. Do you know why chefs jackets have a pen-holder pocket in the sleeve, not the chest? Hmmm...

This particular group of ladies are my first and only "girlfriends." I have girls that are friends, of course, but never had I, a complete set of honest-to-goodness girlfriends, until these four. You know that group of chatty, laughing, silly girls who talk about boys and relationships and sex, and now also about husbands and children and homes? The ones who go out for Girls Night? Yeah. Never had 'em.

That is, until I met these fine women when we worked together five years ago. They are the most intelligent, ridiculous, confident, honest, caring and passionate women I've ever met. Seriously, they rock. And they introduced me to what all this hubub about having girlfriends and a Girls Night is. It's just fun! :)

So, that's four of the five skarpifny ladies. Nancy, Stefanie, me and Emily went out and toasted our other member Ellie, who abanded us for a boy in North Carolina ;)

And what is this skarpifny I speak of?

It's our gang, yoh.


We had some dee-lish food including a Roasted Vegetable Salad that was chock-full of roasted vegetables (not just a couple thrown on top), a Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Napolean and duh, french fries :)

The menu is extensive, and the staff seemed more than willing to adjust any item to suit tastes and needs. You can check out the whole menu here: http://www.mccoolesredlioninn.com/menu.html. But honestly, brussel sprouts were the vegetable of the day and they have Spaten on tap. What else do you need?

McCoole's at Red Lion Inn
4 S Main Street
Quakertown, PA 18951

PS: After McCoole's, these vests were liberated by Emily and Nancy from the shadowy grips of Stef- er, ahem, someone's closet. For the record, would you please assure her that they will never be back in style?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Veg*n Thanksgiving

Aw, aren't they adorable? That's Kelly and Justin, the head chefs of Veg*n Thanksgiving 2006. Justin and Mikey started Veg*n Thanksgiving seven years ago with this is mind:

"It's that time of year again. It's getting close to Turkey Day, with it's focus on gluttony and family bonding/spiteful arguing. It's also that special time of year where we somehow manage to all get together before/instead of/after the family crap to commiserate and eat dinner and/or dessert."

Perfect :)

In years past, I've only been able to make it for dessert or not at all if I was in Rhode Island with the fam. This year though, after a visit with Jason's family, we were there promptly at 4pm.

I think there were ten of us for the actual dinner; over the course of the evening, there were about 20 lovely noshers, and just about everyone brought a dish or two. [We brought a green salad, apple walnut stuffing and a big bottle of Pinot Noir. Note, I did said bottle, not box. We wanted to do something special for the holiday ;) ] Here's Mike - er, M Fen preparing some drool-worthy risotto:

Of course, the obligatory Tofurky porn:

*Part* of the spread. Yes, this is only about 2/3 of the dishes, not including four pies:

My plate had green salad, canned cranberry sauce, Tofurky, M Fen's five year beans, carrots, corn, string bean casserole, apple walnut stuffing, the best yams ever and peas:

Me, Kelly and our empty plates:

I had every intention of taking some up and close sexy photos of each dish and a nice group shot, but I was far too distracted by lovely conversation and the anticipation of eating one of everything. Besides, a bit of yummy Thanksgiving wine had me nicely wrapped up in her arms and feeling just content enough to sit still for a bit and simply enjoy the amazing friends and family around me. Sigh...



PS: For the record, L farted on me. Twice.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Spaghetti Squash

I saw this recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Garden Vegetables from the Eat to Live newsletter online last month and immediately bookmarked the page. When I saw spaghetti squash at the Del Val Market a couple weeks ago, I knew just what I was going to do with it!

I almost didn't post this because the photo is poor, but the dinner was so good that I had to :)

This meal turned out to be a great family-cooking recipe; Avery, Jason and I all prepared and cooked it together. We followed the recipe almost exactly, just adding more vegetables (like extra Blooming Glen cabbage - yum!) and some crushed red pepper. We also microwaved the squash instead of baking it (pierce five or six holes in the skin and cook five to ten minutes rotating a few times, until the squash gives slightly when touched). It's yummy served with parmesan not-cheese, or a parmesan-like topping.

(From Oct. 06 Eat to Live recipe of the month)
Serves: 6
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 1/2 diagonally sliced carrots
1/2 cup diagonally sliced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 small zucchini, chopped into small pieces
1 16-ounce can pinto beans, no or low salt, drained
1 14-ounce chopped tomatoes, no salt, drained
1/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup garlic pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place both halves upside down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, cook carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of water in a covered pan over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little more water if needed.

Add garlic, cabbage, and zucchini and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes.
Stir in rest of ingredients, except for pasta sauce, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.

When squash is done remove from oven and, using a fork, scrape spaghetti-like strands from squash into a bowl. Add pasta sauce and combine by mixing thoroughly. Mix the vegetables, beans & herbs with the squash/pasta sauce mixture and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce or place back in the hollowed out squash bowls.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bakers on Broad open hizouse

After sending off Awesome Miss L, Jason and I bummed around, straightening up a bit here and there until it was time to go to the baker's open house. Linda and Rafael of Bakers on Broad celebrated their first anniversary in business by inviting everyone in for a tour, conversation and snacks. It was a brilliant way to spend a Sunday afternoon after a busy weekend. Even better? Well, the wine of course.

Jase and I sat at the front window bar (a refinished slice of a very large tree), chatted with some fantastic people (bottom right), drank wine and nibbled on bread (duh) and local cheese from Hendrick's Farm in Telford before we went down a set of spiral stairs to check out the kitchen. I don't know what exactly we were expecting, but the kitchen is huge. There are three rooms, the most impressive one housing a gigantic oven (top left). Rafael went through the baking process, though, to be honest, I was half in the bag by the time we left and can't remember the delicate details of baking through which he walked us.

I do know however, that we were quite impressed.

Jase and I joked about how we pictured Rafael awaking at the break of dawn to shuffle downstairs into their regular ol' kitchen to bake bread in their oven. Then, as the sun rose, Linda would take over, moving the goods to the front room and working with the customers. Apparently, we aren't the only ones with this impression and that is precisely why they had this open house.

Their operation is quite impressive, and it made me realize just how much they must have scrimped and saved and researched and constructed in order to open a bakery of their very own. The tour also explained why it took them so long to open once they took ownership of the building - which happens to be their home, as well. Those two clearly worked very hard.

Jason and I were lucky enough to meet some of Linda and Rafael's super nice and very proud family (middle right). I'm pretty sure they were only being super nice so that we would finally go home. And yes, we were the last to leave.

We've begun our campaign to convince Baker's to have an event like this every Sunday. Hey, it could happen...

Join the campaign!
Bakers on Broad
503 East Broad Street
Souderton, PA 18964


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rooot Sooop

We had a ton of Blooming Glen root veggies in the fridge. Thankfully it's chilly enough to make a yummy "root soop." I made a gigantic batch on purpose. This is unusual.

I swear, I had twelve children in a previous life. Most times, although I have the intention to make one pot, it always ends up as two. When I chop the carrots, I think to myself, "oh, I'll throw a couple extra in." Then, when I add the beans, I think, "hmm, this will be a little more substantial if I add extra." Naturally, extra celery, parsnips, rutabaga follow. Of course, there's always something in the fridge that "should really be used up," so I add that, too. Before you know it, I'm in a panic on the phone with my mom, looking for another pot, because mine is overflowing. And I've only got through half of the ingredients.

I can't tell you the countless times I've done this. You think I would have learned by now, but without fail, every time I make soup or chili, it's the same story. So, I've decided to start this season out different. I began this recipe with two pots. See? I can be trained :)

We had a ton of roots on hand - carrots, celeriac (celery root), rutabaga, parsnips. The above is the "after" picture, this is the "before" picture:

And here's the recipe (adapted from a December - I think - 2005 Vegetarian Times recipe):

Serves: like, a bazillion

2 6-quart stock pots with lids
3 tbs olive oil
4 leeks, chopped
2 onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearled barley
3 32-ounce boxes of organic vegetable stock (or 12 cups of water and 4 bullion cubes)
8 - 10 cups of scrubbed, but unpeeled* diced root veggie loveliness
1/2 - 1 cup of chopped fresh herbs (dill works well, but any one or two will work)

*Except the celeriac. Go ahead and peel those gnarly, dirty bad boys. Most of the nutrients in root vegetables live close to the surface; by peeling them you'll inadvertently loose the good stuff.

In one of the pots, heat the oil over medium heat. Add leeks and onions and cook until softened (about five minutes). Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Remove half of the mixture and place it into another pot, over medium heat. Stir half of the barley into pot one, the other half into pot two. Do the same for the vegetable stock. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low, skim off any froth, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add root veggie loveliness; half in one pot, half in the other. Cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes more, or until barley and vegetables are tender. Just before serving, stir in herbs. Salt and pepper to taste.

We had bowls of soup with some fantabulous grilled not-cheese sandwiches - made with Bakers on Broad complet bread, of course ;) Yummm!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

CSA crop share 25

So. Sad.

The last Blooming Glen CSA pick up of the season :(

It just doesn't look like it's finished, does it? That's a big, yummy, colorful share. Heck, it's bigger than the the first one we got in May.

You know, if Tricia and Tom really loved us, they would've slowly weened us beginning a month or so ago, so that by this week we would have each received a half rotted onion, a couple rabbit-chewed heads of lettuce and a handful of gnarly carrots. Instead, they continued to give us huge, beautiful lots of produce up until the last week.


We'll be waiting not-so patiently BG - have a great winter!

PS: You all voted today, right?!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Benedict Arnold

Look, ma! No party mix! :D

My girl, Miss L visited us last weekend. In addition to feeding our brains and spirits with wisdom from don Miguel Ruiz, we fed out bellies with some fantastic spicy green curry at a Thai-French place in Lansdale called Nadia, some to-die-for vegan treats at... er, Vegan Treats in Bethlehem, and some Strongbow at our local pub, the Reliance in Telford. Miss J was along for most of the ride, too :)

And, I cooked! Woot! That's L's bon voyage breakfast: chopped kale, collards, green tomatoes, sweet red peppers, leeks and onion (all Blooming Glen) stir fried/steamed in a bit of olive oil and crushed red pepper, on top of a Food for Life organic 7-grain sprouted wheat english muffin, and drizzled with Knorr hollandaise sauce (the powder mix is not vegan, but we did make it with soy milk and Earth Balance). Jase was on "keep the kitchen clean" duty, I did the veggies and L took care of the sauce (Mr. Avery was with his pops). Yummm!

The weekend was incredible :) I'll post more on my other blog, but feel free to check out the evidence here: http://photography.frekur.com/gallery/awesome.