Tuesday, August 28, 2012

127,817,277 Japanese People Can't Be Wrong...

.... at least, my mind believes that. My mouth tells me otherwise! Still suffering from severe issues with the seaweed snacks! The gag hasn't gone away yet, nor has the This Isn't Food feeling I get when I eat them. These things are threatening to make me end up The Gal Who Ate Everything Vegan Except For Dried Seaweed Snacks! But I won't let that happen, friends!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The *Other* Gal Who Ate Everything Vegan...

I am very proud! I have a good friend who lives in Spain. She is one of only a handful of vegans that I know (and amazingly, we are the same age... most people fall off the Vegan Wagon long before they reach age 39!)... and when she heard about my quest, she decided to try it too! Yesterday, she was ecstatic to report that she had officially conquered EVERYTHING that she used to have an issue with (including peas, peppers, cilantro and the toughest one for her, cucumber) and that he life has been changed! She is a Spaniard who had never eaten Gazpacho until yesterday... why would she eat it, as it would most likely contain bell peppers and cucumber? But she loved it!
I hereby declare that my friend in Spain is The Winner Vegan Woman of 2012!
This is part of the reason I decided to blog about my process here! Of course, I wanted to challenge myself to like new foods, because I wanted to improve my life by ridding myself of pickiness.... and my life has honestly been greatly improved! But I didn't just keep it to myself, because I was hoping to get other people to get over themselves as well. And I've heard back from several others that they have tried to be more open minded about food. My husband has been a champion, learning to eat everything from beer to mustard to avocados to sweet potatoes, in an act of solidarity with me. And I know I have gotten 1 person to not hate lima beans any more (now, I just need to convince him to start liking mushrooms.....). And perhaps my personal favorite is that I shamed another friend into never again opting to drink a vodka martini! It's gin only for him from now on! :-)

Anyway, these things make me happy!

Unfortunately, THESE THINGS make me very unhappy!
As promised, I bought another package of the dreaded seaweed snacks, and I am on a strict regimens of eating 1 snack every day. I've had 2 so far. I was hoping that the wasabi flavoring would make it somehow more palatable to me. Alas. I gagged, but only slightly, on my 1st seaweed snack. However, I had a tougher time with my 2nd seaweed snack, and I almost had to spit it out!!! But I'll keep at it..... :-/

Friday, August 24, 2012

Four, Five, Six Times a Mole

Wow, it's been a while! Mostly, this is because I have had a spectacularly busy August, filled with many travels, which left me short on time.... not a lot of chances to hunt down the final weird things I must still consume, but mostly, no time to blog! The only noteworthy thing I have to mention from the past 2 weeks is that I am still addicted to Gin and Tonics.... I especially liked them last weekend, at my school reunion. I set a personal record for Largest Number of G&T's Consumed In One Night. Of course, my previous record was only 2..... but I doubled that record.... and then some! How did I get through so many previous summers without the perfect summer cocktail? My mind reels!
Here I am at my school reunion, on G&T #5.
But now that I am back in town, and not traveling again for a lovely 2 months, I have some time to get back on track! And as soon as I returned home, I decided it was time to try, yet again, to slay that evil Mole Beast.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that mole has given me troubles. First, there was that mole that was a fucked up conglomeration of bullshit. That was followed by 4 more mole attempts, all of which were determined to be "not mole enough"..... especially that one that didn't contain chocolate! Finally, I found a recipe that seemed right, for Mole #6. It was this Mexican Chicken Mole.

Admittedly, I didn't exactly follow the preparation from that recipe. I used the right ingredients (except I used some Trader Joe's chicken strips instead of the severed limbs of actual birds), but the recipe shockingly kept telling me to use a microwave?!? Really?!? Shame on you, Cooking Light! I'm all for making the task of creating a mole less daunting, but microwave? Let me go on record that I am NOT a microwave person. I refused to have one for many years, until I got married and my husband brought along his ancient microwave. I did manage to ban it from the kitchen, so it is very inconveniently located in the farthest corner of the house, hidden away in a storage closet! I do use it for heating up the occasional leftovers, but that is all! Never is a microwave used in actual meal preparation in this girl's house! That would be the first step on the slippery slope which would end up with me subsisting on Lean Pockets! :-)
Here I am, heating up leftovers in our storage closet.
Now that I got that off my chest..... the mole! Finally, I made a mole that my Mole Loving Husband declared tasted, "pretty much like mole!" And you know, it wasn't bad! I can say that I liked it enough that if anyone ever sneaks mole into my enchilada again, as they did at Border Grill that one time, well, it wouldn't ruin my entire dinner. I liked it enough that I could make it again to please my husband and not feel like a martyr. Which is a success, according to my standards!

I also finished that strange "stone ground" chocolate with the guajillo chili powder in it. I did get to the point where the flavor was fine, but I never quite got past the non-creamy texture of it. So, my next spicy chocolate step is to buy myself one of those NICE chocolate bars..... the kind that my husband once said I didn't deserve, because I couldn't appreciate it.... like, one of those Vosges ones. Lemme just see if I can appreciate it now!

For the near future, I am of course keeping my eyes peeled for either floral flavored foods, or green tea flavored treats. Whenever I see them, I will eat them, I promise! Just not sure when they will appear. But more importantly, I HAVE to do it. I HAVE to buy more of those seaweed snacks, and put myself on a strict regimens. I have to adopt a new motto.... A Seaweed Snack A Day Makes the Gag Go Away! This is the week for that.... I promise!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chocolate Pain

I know I've been bragging about how I am almost out of bad foods to eat, but really, I do have a few major things to address. I haven't dared to buy any cranberry juice in quite some time. And you all know about my ongoing terror regarding seaweed snacks. So, I really do have a few things that need some more work. And I decided to work on two of them the other night..... two which are very close relatives.... I went for a gruesome twosome of a mole chili for dinner, followed by some chocolate with chili in it for dessert!

While I'm not technically on that strict No Processed Food diet anymore, I must confess that following those rules make it pretty simple to eat healthy! So, I'm going to make an effort to eat like that most of the time. Now, I cook everything from scratch and never eat at junky chain restaurants. An outsider would probably wonder, "What on Earth can this vegan possibly be eating that would count as processed food anyway?!?" And truth be told, I did eat more fake meats and fake dairy than I should. I mean, it's fine to have sometimes.... and surely WAY HEALTHIER than the "real" thing would be.... but I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and making an effort to rely less on fake meat and dairy. Which is where this chili comes in.
I made a Chili with Beer, Black Beans and Chocolate. Now, I like vegan bean chili just fine. But if left to my own devices, I'd probably make a chili that uses fake beef. Well, this recipe gets its "meatiness" from crumbled tempeh..... yes, it's still processed, but I do think tempeh and tofu are a step up from all of the fake meats out there. And I figured this also gave me a chance to see if I like chili with beer in it. I wasn't much of a fan of beer in chili in the past, but now that I like beer, I figured it was time to re-examine that! And to top it off, the recipe calls for some chocolate to be melted into it, hence bringing me one step closer to mastering mole!

I liked this chili ok. I didn't like it nearly as much as my favorite chili recipe, which employs fake beef crumbles. The beer in it didn't bother me. Nor did the chocolate. Of course, I asked my husband when he was half way through if he noticed there was chocolate in the chili, and he hadn't noticed. Meaning, it wasn't mole enough that it counted. :-/ So, I need to try yet another mole recipe soon.... one that counts!

And for dessert...
I figured this stuff would definitely count towards my Chocolate With Spicy Stuff In It quest! This chocolate is so hard core, it only contains 3 ingredients: Roasted cacao beans, cane sugar, and guajillo chili powder. Well, I learned that when you only use these 3 things, and you call your chocolate "stone ground", the texture is apparently a little funky. I wasn't completely put off by it, but my husband didn't care for it. I can agree that I prefer a smooth, creamy chocolate over this rather gritty chocolate.... and while I suppose I didn't hate the chili powder in it, my heart still tells me that chili powder doesn't belong in chocolate.

So, yeah. Didn't really make any progress here, but at least you know I'm still trying! :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Whatsoever a Vegan Soweth, That Shall She Also Eat

I haven't had a chance to conquer anything new this week, but I have definitely had some occasions of reaping the benefits of my hard work over the past 5 months! For example, here is the big one, which I myself am still shocked about!

When I think back to the Summer of 2012, I will sum it up with 3 words.... well, if I were being negative, I suppose I could also sum it up in a couple of 2 word phrases, namely "hurt knee" and "headless rat"... but since those are not the ways I want to recall this summer, the 3 little words that most accurately evoke this summer have been Gin And Tonic.
Summer of 2012
It's the craziest thing. I hated them! Then, I tolerated them. Now, I somehow LOVE them! I've gone wild with the G&T's! No kidding, every single time (but maybe once) I have had something to drink at a bar over the past 4 weeks or so, I've started with a Gin and Tonic.  Most notably, was the one I had at a place called Sly's (that link goes right to their Classic Cocktail Menu, which was great! Check it out!) in Carpinteria, where they make their own tonic water, giving the G&T an unusual amber hue.
Homemade tonic. Looks so weird, tastes so good!
Anyway, this whole G&T Obsession is the most striking success in this whole project, right up there with how I now LOVE sauerkraut and I can sit back and enjoy a cold beer!

Other things have happened lately as well. For one, I went out for a very nice Italian dinner for my anniversary and received a salad that was just chock full o' radicchio. And I enjoyed it very much! And get this! I had lunch at Sage Bistro the other day. And I admit I wanted to eat something that looked good to me, which is why I went ahead and ordered the Mac and Cheese Balls.... True, I had actually never eaten a Mac and Cheese Ball before, but there is no way I wasn't going to like them, so they do not count as having something outside of my comfort zone! However, I was offered a taste of something I would have never NEVER had dared to put within 10 feet of my mouth before I decided to embark upon this journey. It was vegan ice cream (which I like ok, but I'm not a huge ice cream eater).... in fact, it was RAW vegan ice cream (which I did try once, and wasn't impressed.... and thankfully, I don't have to learn to like it, since I disqualified raw food from my quest).... and to make matters even more disgusting, it was raw vegan ice cream made with SPIRULINA! How much badness can you fit into 1 dessert!?!? :-D Regardless, I am brave now, so I ate a bite! Well, probably won't do that again! ;-)

Tonight, I try again to deal with one of my old enemies.... I'll report back soon!