Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Meals out in the second half of 2012

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As I told you in my last post, there were a lot of reasons why I didn’t post for the second half of 2012.  But I *did* eat and had always intended to share these meals out with you.  Since I don’t see myself going back and doing in-depth posts about each of them, here are some highlights.  (This makes me feel better and lets me, with clear conscious, move on to 2013 posts!)

On a trip to Ocean City MD I shared a great night with my family and some close friends, and found a new place that wants to accommodate vegans.  My friends were staying at the beach and had emailed the owner of Crazy 8’s to ask if they could handle feeding a vegan.  They were very honest about not knowing exactly what that would entail but made it clear they wanted to accommodate.  There were several choices but I went with a veggie wrap without cheese and with homemade guac added.  Wow.

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My daughter and I took a vacation to Connecticut to see some friends and they introduced me to all sorts of wonderful food!  Soups by The Soup Girl and Wendy’s Bites from Shayna B’s.  Not to mention the fresh Sun Gold tomatoes eaten right out of their garden and the amazing take-out they got for me.  I don’t even know where these pictures came from, but I know they were wonderful!

pizza cupcakesdairy free ice cream

We also ate at 2 vegetarian/vegan restaurants while in CT.  The Red Lentil in New Haven was a fabulous upscale place with lots of choices.  Vegetarian with vegan options and some gluten free options.  Unfortunately it looks like the New Haven location has closed.  Bummer, but it was a great meal!

020021024025028029 (Can you tell I really liked the desserts??)

After a trip to visit the Mark Twain House in Hartford CT we had lunch at Fire and Spice Vegan restaurant.  It was a small place with an even smaller staff and, unfortunately, we entered right after a huge party who didn’t have a clue what they wanted.  This meant it took a long time to get our food, but it was quite good and the staff were really apologetic.

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Fall found me mostly at home, so no restaurant meals to speak of.  But winter break found us on a few outings.  This was my second visit to the Great Sage restaurant in Clarksville MD, but the first for my family.  I’m the only vegan, but my son is gluten-free so I was happy to see that they could easily accommodate that.  (A funny story:  I told the waitress that my son is gluten free but that he’s ‘not adventurous’ because I was looking for things that were not spicy.  She thought I said ‘he doesn’t eat vegetables’ and was a little concerned that I had brought him to a vegan restaurant!)

These photos are pretty rough but I don’t like using my flash in restaurants and it was nighttime, but you can see the yummy goodness!  (Obviously I made a mistake and used my flash for the ‘chicken wings’ – best picture though!)

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And we’ll end with a restaurant we found in Tom’s River NJ through Happy Cow on my phone.  Via Roma is a small Italian place with an extensive menu that includes a full gluten free menu, a full vegan menu, and a gluten-free & vegan menu!

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This calzone was amazing.   And this is the small; I still had to take half home!

Ok.  I feel better now.  I’ve shared all the restaurant meals I had intended to share and now I feel better!  I can move on to 2013 with no guilt.  🙂

Where have you had amazing meals out?  Especially vegan meals!

Gluten Free and Vegan Baked Blueberry Doughnuts – Oh Yeah!

Recently I’ve been on multiple vacations and I have *lots* to share with you about those.  I’ve got restaurant reviews from Connecticut, Ocean City MD, and Virginia.  I’ve had so much good food it’s been amazing.  But what I feel most compelled to share immediately are these doughnuts.  Man.

I want to start with a question, though?  Do you own a copy of “Babycakes covers the classics” by Erin McKenna?  If you are at all interested in vegan and gluten free baking you owe it to yourself to get a copy.  Seriously.  Buy it.

Now, the inspiration for these doughnuts came from that amazing cookbook.  I’ve changed up the flours and the sugar, and added some of my own ingredients, so I feel comfortable posting these.  But I’ve got to say that so much inspiration comes from this book that it is really worth having.

Oh, and a note about doughnut pans.  I bought just one thinking I’d try it out.  I enjoyed the doughnuts, but the process was a chore because it took so long.  So I broke down and bought another regular sized pan (which makes 6 doughnuts) and a mini pan (which makes 12 minis).  It has made all the difference!  I wouldn’t necessarily buy 2 pans to start but if you like the result and see yourself doing this more than once every few months, it’s worth it to invest in at least a second doughnut pan.

Gluten Free & Vegan Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2/3 cup rice flour

1/3 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot water

1 cup fresh blueberries, preferably organic

Preheat the oven to 325.  Grease the doughnut pans with coconut oil or your preferred method.

In a bowl mix together the sugars through the baking soda.  Mix well.  Now add the wet ingredients (everything but the fruit), mixing just until combined.  Add the berries and carefully fold them into the batter.  Take a spoon and put some batter into each doughnut space, moving the batter around so that the entire hole is full but the center is not covered.  Bake for 8 minutes, then switch racks and bake for between 7 and 8 more minutes, watching for brown.  When done take out of the oven to cool but leave them in the pan.

Let them cool about 15 minutes.  While they are cooling make this basic glaze.  This glaze makes a lot, but I store it in a mason jar in the fridge for other uses.

1 cup vegan powdered sugar

1/3 cup hot water

1 tsp vanilla

Pour the powdered sugar in a bowl.  Add the water and vanilla and mix well until a glaze is formed.

When your doughnuts are done cooling remove them from the pans.  Be careful, some make break here but we just use those as testers!  Drizzle the glaze over top and either eat warm or let cool.

A few notes:  1)   I think frozen blueberries would work but I haven’t tried them.  Please let me know if you do.  2)  I think all coconut sugar would work but again, haven’t tried it.  3)  These don’t necessarily need the glaze, but they taste more muffin-like without it.  Still tasty, though.  4)  We can’t use potato starch at my house due to an intolerance but that’s what I’d use instead of the cornstarch if you want to sub it out.

I’d love to know if you try these!  My family gobbled them down!

The Sea Star in Chincoteague Virginia

Some time ago, through using Happy Cow, I discovered that there is a small restauraunt in Chincoteague Virginia with vegan options.  I was intrigued, since that’s only 45 minutes from me.  But I haven’t been to Chincoteague since I was 15 and need I say, I am *way* over 15!

So today when we dropped T at a week of sleep-away space camp the rest of the family decided to go out to dinner before we started home.  Now, I didn’t even know Mark had put the Happy Cow app on his phone, but I shouldn’t be surprised since he’s pretty darn supportive.  As we waited to be dismissed from the social event that started the camp, Mark suggested we hit the Sea Star in Chincoteague for dinner.  Who am I to resist a cool place with vegan options??

This is one of those places where you walk up, order and pay, and then wait for them to call your number for food.  There is a whole “vegetarian” section of the menu with four sandwiches specifically marked as Vegan.  I chose the Malibu, a whole wheat wrap with hummus, avocado, tomato, sprouts and lettuce.  That little wrapped thing in front of the sandwich was my pickle and it was darn good.  The drink is an unsweetened passionfruit mango tea, and the chips in the back are not mine.  They, actually, included dairy but I liked reading the package as they were made by a very small company in Virginia.

Mark and E waiting for their food

My unwrapped meal

Yum

After dinner we walked around the funky little town some, checking out the “Misty of Chincoteague” statue before we drove down to wildlife refuge that is the beach.

It was a nice evening for the three of us, and definitely a place I’d go to again.  Since I’m not a local it may only be a place I’d go to in the warmer months when I could comfortably sit outside and eat, but it’s worth the drive for the cool feel and good food!  This is not fast food, though, and you have to wait while they make everything to order.  But that gave me more time to listen to the gulls!

Wye Mill and Stone Ground Cornmeal and Accidental Discoveries



Sometimes the best things are found by accident.

Last weekend we set off on a Park Quest.  We were driving the hour or so to Wye Island Maryland to do a quest that involved hiking and solving a crossword puzzle.  Except, on the way, we discovered that we were low on gas.  So I used the gps to try and find the closest gas station.  While looking at the closest it did occur to me that it might not be in service since the name did not contain anything that sounded like gas, but we decided to turn off the main road and check it out.  Sure enough, it was closed and there was no gas so we had to get back on the highway.  On the drive back to the highway we drove past a small place with a sign outside that said “Open” and one that said “Stone Ground Cornmeal.”  The kids, who have always loved interesting places, wanted to stop but our sights were set on getting gas and right away!  As we got back to the highway we were going to turn left and go the 7.3 miles to where the gps said we would find gas when T said “Mom!  Look!  Over there!” and there, peaking through the trees right across the highway, was a gas station.  So after gas the kids begged to go back to the stone ground cornmeal sign and since it was less than a mile away we figured we’d stop for a second and then be on our way to the hike.

Well it turns out that The Wye Grist Mill is on the National Register of Historic places and that the history is fascinating.  Since one of the only things my kids like more than exploring is museums, we were hooked!

The volunteer who did our tour was amazing.  He took us through each piece of information and really involved the kids in the conversation.  We were there over an hour learning about the history of the mill, the area, and milling in general.  The entire visit was free though they do take donations, and is located just off of Route 50 if you’re on your way over the bay bridge going to the Eastern Shore of MD.  On the first and third Saturdays of the month, spring to fall, they actually grind things in the mill which I think would be very interesting to watch.

We bought some stone ground cornmeal, some stone ground buckwheat flour, and some strawberry jam.  As we were buying it I started thinking about how there really are so many different options when it comes to buying things even though we don’t always see them or think about them.  I have been trying to seek out local places to buy things (which is what lead me to joining the CSA with Taylor’s Fresh Organics) when I can.   I love the farmer’s markets locally and really need to get there more.  But it’s also nice to find the out-of-the-way places to buy things.  When I bought my flours I felt good knowing I was also preserving history while spending my money.  And yes, we did leave a donation.

After the tour we indeed went and did our Park Quest.  We loved the hiking and it was a great day.  But what an amazing find to be able to watch an old mill really grind flour!  What places have you discovered “by accident”?  Discovering places like this makes life more enjoyable, in my opinion.

Funky. Funky. Funky.

Lately I have been in a funk.  Nothing awful.  I’ve gone to work everyday and kissed my children and husband.  I’ve chauffeured and cleaned and written lesson plans.  But everything except loving on my family felt rather, well, blah.

I haven’t posted a blog post in a few weeks and  I haven’t been nearly as active on my facebook page.  To be honest, I haven’t really cooked much.  A few things here and there but very very little.  No motivation.

Apparently I haven’t been the only one.  Dacia at Thirty Four and Fabulous recently posted about a funk and A Gluten Free, Vegan, Mom Who Knows posted on my facebook page that she too has been in a funk.

Maybe we push ourselves so much that sometimes we just hit a wall.  Maybe we get overwhelmed.  Maybe it’s something else.  But it happens to most of us.

But I am happy to report that I feel refreshed and much more “like myself.”

I took some time for me.

A friend and I escaped this weekend to Jim Thorpe PA to a 10 course vegan dinner.  It was amazing to try so many wonderful courses and I will try to fill you in, with pictures, later.

But along with wonderful food what I found was the chance to feel like me again.  This friend and I talked all weekend.  I didn’t worry about what I was supposed to do.  I simply did things.

It was just what I needed.

I feel refreshed and full of life again.  Ready to re-focus on what is important.  And that is taking the best care of my family I can.  To do that I, of course, must take care of me as well.

The end of the school year is almost here and soon I’ll be in summer mode.  My CSA starts delivering in a few weeks and there will be produce to savor.  It’s time to pull out of my funk and jump back into joy.

I hope you are well.  Because to paraphrase my friend Kristen at The Healing Spoon, this webpage is not just about me.  It’s about us.  It’s a journey that I am honored and blessed to be taking with other people.  Without you there would be no point in doing this.  Because sharing together is what makes this worthwhile.

I feel bad that I have been absent lately but I needed to recharge.  And now I feel ready to move forward.

Have you felt funky lately?  How have you handled funks in the past?  Do you think they are inevitable?  Or do you think they are preventable?  What do you do to keep yourself charged up?

Thank you for being a part of my life.  Let’s move forward together!

Wordless Wednesday – Disney Plants

Our trip to Disney was a few weeks ago and I’ve written my main post about the amazing food.  But another thing I was impressed with was the abundance of plants.  Yes they have an amazing budget and can pay people to take care of them.  But I was surprised with how it made me feel.  My mom is a gardener; I am not so good.  But this reaction was visceral.  It made me happy to be surrounded by plants.  In addition to the plants in the different parks we took a tour of the Disney greenhouses.  It was worth the extra money to me to see the amazing things they are doing.  So enjoy some of the growing things I got to see!


Thank You Disney’s Vegan Chefs

This is a thank-you post about my trip to Disney.  Now, there are a lot of people I could thank on this trip.  I could thank Mark, who pushed me to see it was a good idea.  (I am the practical one sometimes.)  I could thank the people who safely saw us to our destination and got not only our luggage to the room but the groceries I had ordered through garden grocer.  Because having those groceries in our room really helped.But the people I most want to thank are:

Jesus, Ani, Bob, Angie, Kim, Eugene, and Josh 

You see, those are the amazing chefs who cooked for me.  Who came out of the kitchen and took the time to talk about what they could prepare for me and for T on this trip.  None of them are specifically vegan chefs, but the moment I asked them to cook for me they became MY Vegan Chef!

(For those of you who don’t know not only am I a vegan  for health reasons but T, my 12 year old, is intolerant to wheat and potatoes/sweet potatoes.  There are a few other things but those 2 are the biggies.)

Each place we went the chef would come out and talk to us.  T’s needs & wants would be discussed first because I’m the mom so, you know, I want to make sure the kids things are done first.  Then we’d get to mine.  On property, with only one exception, every situation was fabulous.  The chefs mentioned above were from some of the nicer restaurants on property but also from the food court at our hotel.  A hotel, I might add, that was a “budget” hotel.  Didn’t matter where, the chefs were phenomenal.  Ani told me she appreciated the chance to make me something different.  Angie sent us out a special appetizer tray to try.  And when we suggested something that would be easy to veganized to Eugene he said “I can do better than that.”  And he did.

So a huge thank you to the chefs who made my stay easy and who prepared this amazing food for us.  I will say that I was often too hungry from walking so much to take a picture, so not all things are here and these are in no particular order.

And one more quick thank you to the un-named people who bake at Baby Cakes Disney.  Because of you I got this fabulous photo:

Yep.  He was THAT excited!  His favorite was the pumpkin chocolate chip bread.  Mine were the cookie sandwiches.  No pictures of those.  I was too busy stuffing my face!