October 29th is National Oatmeal Day! A few weeks ago my housemate Lara introduced me to the glorious world of ‘salty oatmeal.’ I’d never had savory oatmeal before- only sweet. Despite my slight hesitation, it was love at first bite. The variations are endless, but tonight I made oatmeal and topped it with avocado, grilled onion and tomato, salt, pepper, and some olive oil. Lara (who has the wonderful tendency of surprising me with a bowl of this savory goodness on foggy mornings here in the headlands) made an awesome version the other morning with grilled mushrooms and olive tapenade. Lesson learned: don’t knock it til you’ve tried it, this stuff is delish.
October 28th is National Chocolate Day! After college Dusty and I wanted to do something epic, so we biked from Seattle to Vancouver. We discovered quite a few things on that trip, but even more important than the discovery that ‘tents sold as being for two people are really suited for one very tiny person’ and ‘if you bike in a bright yellow rain suit, birds might decide you look tasty’, was the discovery of brownkies. Brown what?! Well, Betty Crocker calls them cookie brownie bars, but we didn’t think that name summed up the incredibleness that is brownies with chocolate chip cookies baked into them. Tragically, when I went vegan earlier this year and emptied my cupboards of all products with dairy in them, my emergency box of brownkies had to go. So tonight I decided to take on Betty and see if I could make a vegan version that tastes as good as the original thing. Well, while they definitely taste as good as the original, they weren’t exactly cooked as much as the original. I had extra cookie dough so I made more of a layer of cookie than usual. I pulled the pan out when the top started to brown, but that wasn’t exactly an indication of what was going on inside. That Betty is so tricky! I’ll have to mess around with portions and oven temp to see if I can remedy that situation for next time, but don’t expect me to go running towards the oven tonight. Undercooked brownkies?! YUM.
October 22nd is National Nut Day! You know, sometimes things work out, and sometimes.. they don’t. Unfortunately, these cookies are a pretty good example of the latter. I was so excited for this food holiday as it was an excuse to make ricciarelli, a delicious orange-laced almond paste cookie that originated in Siena. I made the dough in the morning and it chilled for four hours, then my sister and I baked the cookies in the afternoon. For some reason my egg replacer didn’t cut it for this recipe, and instead of fat oval cookies we got thin crispy blobs. Don’t get me wrong, they’re some really tasty thin crispy blobs, but they’re definitely not ricciarelli!
October 17th is National Pasta Day! Oh pasta. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who didn’t like pasta. I like pasta every which way, but today decided to make pasta salad. Mom and I had made something similar for dinner the night before my half marathon last weekend, so I had some leftover ingredients lying around. Today it was a mixture of pasta, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sliced black olives, and some cooked broccoli and kale. Yum.
October 15th is National Mushroom Day! While volunteering at the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa one of the meals that was made weekly was vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It was delish, so when this very vague national food holiday came up I decided to get a little creative and sought out a vegan lentil and mushroom shepherd’s pie recipe. The chances of getting a good picture of this one were slim to none, so while I acknowledge that it looks a bit funky, the pie tasted fantastic. I debated throwing some vegan cheese on top as that is how we ate it in South Africa, but the recipe was so full of delicious flavors that in the end I decided the cheese was unnecessary.
October 13th is National Pumpkin Festival Day! When we were sophomores in college one of my housemates came home from the holidays with some of her mom’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and my life was never the same. Mom and I whipped up a batch tonight and, thankfully, I can put all my fears aside- they’re just as good vegan as they are with eggs and butter!
October 6th is National Noodle Day! Earlier this month I complied the list of 27 things I want to do before I turn 27, and on the list I wrote ‘learn to make pad kee mao’ – my favorite Thai dish. Luckily for me, this incredibly vague national food holiday gave me the opportunity to do just that! Lacking the necessary ingredients I biked over to the Richmond district. Two Asian markets and a trip to Safeway later and I had everything I needed. Chopping and prepping the noodles and vegetables seemed to take forever, but the actual cooking time was under ten minutes. The end result was delicious; not perfect, but seeing as it’s one of my favorite foods and I now know how to go about making it, I foresee plenty of future opportunities for tweaking the recipe!
October 4th is National Taco Day! I love Mexican food. I don’t normally roll authentico (lard and vegan don’t exactly go hand in hand) which is why I often find myself indulging in Chipotle’s soft tacos. They’re amazing. I tried to recreate them tonight, and despite forgetting to buy corn, I’d say the entire ordeal was very successful. Now if only there were leftovers…