Monday, September 1, 2014

Tomato & Garlic Pie

Happy Vegan Mofo everyone! I am late to the party after a very lengthy holiday weekend complete with very lengthy travel. But I made it, a little late, but I'm here, and I've got a suitcase full of tomatoes. Let me explain.

I have this little old Italian customer who comes in pretty regularly, and he always brings us something from his garden. He talks for a while about what he's growing and what's coming up next week, and I listen even though I have no idea what he's saying. I get bits and pieces, like ".....Arugula, Radicchio..." but his Italian accent is too cute to understand. Any way, check out this tomato he brought us! It's about 2 pounds and looks like a pumpkin.


I'm not sure what kind of tree or plant could support this heavy tomato ... 

I really am disappointed with the produce I bring home from my local market. I often can't get tomatoes that aren't pink or already rotten-looking. But luckily, I was able to score a ton of tomatoes from my customer and made a fresh tomato sauce with them. I used some of my second round of tomatoes to make this tomato & garlic pie! Observe.

It's more like a deep-dish pizza, or a savory pie than a pizza, but it is reminiscent of a tomato pie I recently got in Philly, where the tomatoes and garlic just sang. There was pretty much nothing else on the pizza, save for some crushed chili flakes. So that pizza was my inspiration behind this pie.

I'd been wanting to try making pizza in my cast-iron pan, and thought maybe this would be a good first pizza to test it out with. It definitely turned out to be a fork and knife affair, but I'd do it all over again for that breadstick crust. It was as simple as pizza's get but very satisfyingly uncluttered. We've all had pizza with just too many toppings, and this is sort of the antithesis of a combination pizza that we all had growing up. 

Mainly, it was a tribute to summer and its tomatoes. I wanted to do something with these tomatoes that I knew I simply couldn't do with canned or even the ones I occasionally grab from my neighborhood's bodega-like supermarket. They only come but once a year, after all. It's a basic pizza dough, but I like to double the recipe for one dough so that I can get that breadstick-like quality to the crust. The recipe is almost too simple to share, but in the spirit of vegan mofo, I'll write it out right quick. 
Until tomorrow,
KZ Out <3

2 balls of pizza dough, or your favorite pizza dough recipe doubled.

about 15 fresh average-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup basil, chopped
7-8 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal or semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 teaspoons chili flakes, depending on your heat threshold

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped tomatoes. 
Stir on medium high for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down a bit, and the sauce is less chunky. 
Add the salt, pepper, and chili flakes and turn off the heat. Set aside while you roll the dough out.
Preheat the oven to 500ºF. 
Dust the bottom of the pan with the cornmeal so that it's evenly distributed on the surface of the pan.
Roll the dough out so that it's about 2 inches wider than the pan. I have a 12" skillet, so I rolled the dough into a 14" circle.
Carefully place the dough onto the prepared pan, and allow the edges to overhang. Don't move the dough around too much at this point, because the cornmeal is a barrier between the dough and the pan, and helps it not to stick.
Now, carefully fold the overhanging edges over and press against the side of the pan so that they stay in place. Now, using the back of a butterknife, seal the overhanging crust by pressing lines around the pan. (See picture!)
Now add your fresh tomato sauce into the center of the pie. Sprinkle the garlic around the top, adding extra chili flakes is desired. 
Bake at 500ºF for about 15 minutes or until crust is nicely browned.
Let cool about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the chopped basil. 
Slice and serve!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vegan Stuff In Florida!

People always say that Florida is a terrible vegan state. They might be right about that... but in my experience, Florida is where I eat the best food that I will eat all year.
My fiancé's dad lives on the Southern Gulf Coast, has a beautiful house, a boat on the water, and a serious knack for cooking Italian food. He's one of those great members of your family that will literally eat anything-- never questions what you put in front of him, just eats it and enjoys it. You've got to love omnivores that are close to you, especially the ones that don't criticize your diet, lifestyle, or cooking! In fact, they love your cooking, and that's exactly how he is. 

On this year's annual trip down to visit my fiancé's dad, he cooked us some amazing dinners-- beginning with a giant batch of fresh homemade tomato sauce. I helped, so I was allowed to know the secret to his success. Hint: it includes more heads of garlic than the Lernaean Hydra.

We did have pasta almost every night. But each night we mixed it up with an assortment of veggies, so I didn't feel too bad about eating all the pasta my heart desired-- though, when do I ever?

On the third or fourth night, I cooked! I made mashed potatoes in lieu of pasta (just once), and sautéed some mushrooms in marsala wine and served them over the potatoes. Alongside, I roasted some butternut squash and Alex's dad made his famous greens and beans-- the best thing on Earth.

I began each morning with some avocado toast with Alex's sister Mia, a fellow vegan. It was magical.

Sometimes with coffee, sometimes with OJ...

Sometimes on sourdough, sometimes on a bagel...

 One night we went out for Mexican food and got several margaritas. They are a once-in-a-while thing, but damn, frozen margaritas sure are one of the best pleasures in life. These are both for me, of course, followed by at least two more...

This is Brodie! We were babysitting for him while his mom was away. Brodie is a Husky-Border Collie mix and he is 14 years old, though has the spirit of a puppy. He is the sweetest, most friendly dog I have ever met. We had all met Brodie many times before this and this year he definitely seemed a bit older, a bit slower, a bit more tired... He still loves eating underwear just as much, though... It's sad to see Brodie get older and have a harder time enjoying his life, but he was easier to cuddle this time and he barked and jumped up a lot less. Poor Brodie... We love him and hope he enjoys the rest of his days. 

The last day of our visit I made some soft pretzels, a Florida tradition we started a couple years ago. I made twelve. They were gone in one hour. I love soft pretzels and so does everyone else apparently.

We also took the opportunity on our last day to go nuts and make tons of amazing food. My contribution was grilling and marinating veggies! I also managed to knock my glass of wine off the side of the grill and shatter it on the pavement. So I contributed that too. The squash has some dried tarragon, oregano, and thyme with salt and pepper, the portobellos are all different: one is teriyaki, one is marsala, one is balsamic and the other is olive oil with salt and pepper. I sliced and grilled some onions too.. you know, for thrills.

So here's the thing... We also made a whole other dinner too....

And ate both of them... 

And so we each had two plates in front of us that looked like this...

This is a beautiful view at dusk from the back door to his house. It's really such a beautiful place. We were definitely spoiled there. I look forward to going every single year, for the food, the fun, the drinks, the dog, the view, and especially for the nice time I spend with family. The best vacation I could ever ask for!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vedge Restaurant

You guys I finally went to Vedge! I had been wanting to go here for so long, especially after seeing their chef Rich Landau compete (and win!) on Chopped. I also saw his feature in VegNews, and knew I had to try this restaurant. After our first foray into fine dining the previous weekend at Charlie Was A Sinner, I felt we were primed and ready for a Vedge experience. The experience was more than just dinner. In fact, it's best not to show up to this place famished, lest you will go broke. We had eaten a light dinner about 3 hours before our reservation for that reason exactly. Though it was pricey, it was an amazing experience way beyond what we would call "a great dinner." Let me explain:

Since we had our Sunday (or Saturday) best on, I figured I would kick things off with an original house cocktail. This was El Diablo De La Mora, made with tequila, lime, housemade ginger beer and blackberries. I was pleasantly surprised at how big it was. I paid the same for a cocktail at Charlie and got a teeny tiny little sipper. So I was really happy with that decision.

The waitress recommended we get 3-4 plates per person, and we, as usual, ignored her advice and ordered 4 plates to share. I tried to choose strategically to accommodate Alex's picky tastes, and get something I knew he would enjoy. But I would have been pleased with anything on the menu, I'm sure. The first course we chose was the Heirloom tomatoes, with whipped basil on toast. It was super balanced and had a type of cashew-basil cheese spread. It also came with some oil cured olives which made the flavors and salt really pop. After each bite I got a nice salt taste left lingering behind, balancing out the sweet tomatoes and fruity olive oil. I dug it.

For the entrees, we chose the Grilled Seitan and Spicy Grilled Tofu. Both of these dishes were unlike any tofu or seitan I have ever tasted before. The tofu was so tender and flavorful. It had a gochujang bbq-style sauce that I loved, and a yuba crackling. It also had a miso sauce and a little salsa, so there was a great balance of flavors and textures in this one. No one would ever have a bad thing to say about tofu if they were served tofu like this. 

The seitan reminded me of tender grilled chicken, but much much better than I ever remember chicken being, seeing as how I never liked it as a child. It was flavored with Za'atar spices (my fave) and came with a small pile of super tender swiss chard. I loved this dish so much. It had a frothy tahini sauce with some pickled turnips, really tying in the mediterranean flavor theme. These are dishes I'm sure my meat-and-potato-loving dad would totally enjoy.

We felt full enough after the first 3 courses that we decided we'd better skip a 4th course and head right to dessert. It took us longer to make up our mind over which dessert we wanted than any of the savory courses. It was between the yuzu cornbread and the chocolate uber chunk. Chocolate ultimately called our names and won us over. It was served in a pretty interesting way, with a tiny parfait jar, then stout ice cream, and then a fudge-topped cookie. I immediately thought of my dad again when I ate the stout ice cream. It was such a pronounced stout flavor! A lot of stout ice creams have like a thimble-full of stout in the whole batch of ice cream, and you can barely taste anything but sugar. But this stout was so assertive and undoubtably stout ice cream!

The fudgey cookie was good too, tasting kind of like the crust to a chocolate tart or pie. I guess you were supposed to take a bite of the parfait, then the ice cream then the cookie, so that you get the creamy, the cold, then the crunchy texture pattern. I think they would be good any way you decided to eat them.

The parfait was out-of-control good. It had all the notes of creamy, salty, sweet and crunchy. Nothing could make it better.

I definitely think Rich Landau is a vegan magician and Kate Jacoby is a mystical vegan fairy creature. This was the best meal at a restaurant we have had to date. Was it expensive? Yeah. It was pricey. But I'm not going to eat here every day. I've got a vegan diner in my neighborhood for that (whaddup Champs?!). This is for special occasions, and for a very different kind of experience. You don't come to a place like this to stuff your face. I thought critically about each bite and wanted to learn something from it. They are building something much more than dinner at this place when they make your plates. It's a real work of art-- carefully composed, painstakingly balanced and perfectly executed art. I can definitely appreciate that, even if you pay a little more. People are saying that Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the US, not just one of the best vegan restaurants. I, no doubt, agree. Vedge made me think about food, vegetables, and the art of cooking in a completely new light. Hopefully I reference all I have learned from eating here while I make my own dishes at home, and put a shred of what they put into each of their dishes into my own. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Dramatic Summer Reading and Philadelphia

As I've told you all before, I was once a young and stubborn teen who refused to wear shoes in the winter, would only wear clothes that were either ripped or covered in paint, rebelled against anything I saw unfit, punched boys who said girls couldn't be punk, longed for the summer, swore I would move to California the second I could and never come back... 
I still have stubborn roots, but feel like I've done a 180º as far as longing the summertime, and California? Well, that ship has sailed. I choose my battles a little more meticulously nowadays, try not to punch any boys-- even misled ones. Let's be real, everyone knows girls can be punk. But punk is a mindset, not an article of clothing or a haircut. I think I've come to terms with that in my old(er) age. The most glaring difference I see about myself now in comparison to myself at 16, or even 21, is that I almost dread the summer now. It's hot. I have to work. I have to walk in the heat. I don't get to go to the beach, or spend my nights hanging out on the front porch too late, or swim in my friends' pools, or sleep until noon. I think after college, the difference between summer and winter vanished. It no longer signifies a break in the calendar or a time for vacation. I hide my once-beautifully-tanned skin in hoodies and zip them to hide my palest face since childhood. I haven't gotten over it, but it's the way I am-- and those who fight nature often lose. Tonight I found myself enjoying summer for the first time through its food:

Deviled Kale Salad from Salad Samurai accompanied some basic BBQ tofu and a macaroni salad, an old favorite of mine. Maybe this will be the summer food my children will one day grow up and crave, and think of summer while they eat it.
Besides dramatically notating my feelings on myself vs the summer season, I have also recently visited Philadelphia! Alex is staying there for several weeks this summer for work, so I spent a brief 36 or so hours this weekend visiting. He gave me an epic vegan food tour, and this was only part one, since I'll be back there again before he leaves. He took me to brunch at Mi Lah, and got setian and waffles. Now these are some serious waffles. They have a nice cinnamony flavor that was super shiny when paired with maple syrup. I liked that it came with a pile of bok choy. I'll always eat a pile of bok choy over a pile of fried seitan-- but that's just me.

I got the Masa Corn Cakes. I became instantly pleased when the plate was put in front of me based on the amount of avocado that was on my plate. They understand that my satisfaction with their restaurant is measured mainly in how much avocado they are willing to put on my plate. The corn cakes were gold, too.

I really miss Yards, you guys. I think the Philly/NYC rivalry is too strong for NYC to carry it. I haven't had it in over a year. I made up for it this weekend... I prefer not to recount how many I had. But coming down to the river and sitting in a picnic chair with some Yards is exactly what I came to Philly to do. Mission accomplished, my friends.

While we were there, I spotted this little guy (girl?) down at our feet. I made my friends move out of the way so I could capture this photo. He was pretty. It's probably a girl, but..

I also spotted this tag on a heavily-tagged portion of concrete on a bridge. Go Veg!

For dinner, we went to Charlie Was A Sinner, a fancy restaurant I hadn't heard of before. Upon our arrival, I realized how fancy it was, and that I'd never actually been to a fancy restaurant before. They had tapas plates, which are basically little plates that cost the same as big plates. They recommend 2-4 plates per person, but for an average money-spender, the budget is more like 4 total. They specialized in cocktails, so I figured I should probably get one. I got the "Hasty Tasty" which was marquis de la tour, moscato grappa, monbazillac, and frozen grapes. I don't know what any of those things are, I was just reading them off their website. It was pretty good but very small. I don't know what I was expecting, but I'm a beer girl at heart.

Our first course (shared small pate) was chilled melon gazpacho. It was brought out with the melon balls and avocado slices in the bowl, then the waitress brought the chilled soup out in a small carafe and poured it over the top. It was very fancy, despite my pictures of it. It was super balanced, with really nice peppery notes, and lightness from the melon and lemon. There were also very tiny fennel croutons that added a tiny crunch. Plus avocado. This was probably my favorite of the four.

We got the chickpea fries that were served with a lemon aioli. These were voted least favorite of the four unanimously. They just weren't crisp enough, which didn't give them a clean enough bite. They felt heavy and chewy, and there just was simply not enough of the lemon aioli to balance the heavy fried part, which is a shame because I think a bit more lemon would have helped elevate them.

 The Jenga tower arangement, however, was appreciated

The next plate was the Tofu & Bean Sausage with parsnip puree and caramelized onion. Some kind of onion gravy with whole grain mustard. This was really good. It tasted like a real meat-and-potatoes kind of dish, ergo, it was Alex's favorite. I think all the flavors were balanced perfectly, and reminded me of a Thanksgiving dinner.

We got the Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sorbet for dessert. It was really good, moist cake. The sorbet was good and not icy, as sorbet often can be. Underneath there were some macerated strawberries, which were great with the brownie-like cake. It seemed like they abandoned their attempt to fancify this dish, and just went for serious chocolatey goodness. It was awesome.

Sunday morning we went to P.S.&Co. for breakfast. It was a nice space, with good lighting. They did mostly raw stuff, which is great for breakfast. 

Nice Ambiance

Iced coffee has been saving my life this summer. I usually don't even listen when they tell me how much it costs, because it's too hot for me to care, and because it's too expensive to want to listen! What gives? They had iced coffee, and house-made Brazil Nut Milk to pour into it. I am usually a black-coffee kind of girl, but when will I ever get to have fresh brazil nut milk ever again? Probably never. So I turned my coffee this color with it.

They had a bunch of fresh coconut yogurts with different toppings, and I couldn't decide which one to pick, so I had the girl behind the counter choose for me, and she chose blueberries :). 

It was unlike any yogurt I've ever had. It was so fresh tasting, like someone really broke out and messed with one of those coconut jackhammer godforsaken kitchen gadgets that spews sticky coconut water all over yourself and your kitchen. Someone did that for me. And the freshness was amazing. It had a nice light finish, I think maybe some lemon was in there too. YUM.

I picked up this Tofu Quinoa Quiche, which looked cute and adorable and I love quinoa for breakfast these days, so I rolled with it.

It was dark quinoa on the bottom, then a layer of tofu-broccoli quiche, then a puree of butternut squash on top. It was really a perfect breakfast. It was small, but very filling. I left feeling like I had the most vegan breakfast of all time. Also, the most delicious while being healthy breakfast of all time.

Philly is really cool, you guys. If New York City and Philadelphia were two real vegan girls in their mid twenties, they would be best friends and bring overnight bags and have weekend getaways in each others' cities. NYC would have bleach blonde hair and band T-shirts with tattoos and wear her headphones all the time, and Philly would look a little more Classic-college girl with a Brown side-braid and pierced ears with studs, but also have a messenger bag with Compassion Co. pins along the strap, and have a bottle of kombucha in her left hand while she texted with her right. These girls would be different, but have much to learn from each other, and also much to share with each other. And now I've personified two vegan cities and made them best friends. World peace has been achieved. The Antichrist has just been revealed.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

And in the beginning, there was seitan.

People often ask who taught me to cook. Anyone who is an avid cook or baker is asked that question by many, and most often respond with, "My grandma taught me," or, "My Mom taught me everything I know about cooking." One's love for food and cooking is often passed down from a close relative. This was not the case for me. Sorry Grandma. 
A long and twisted road led me to cooking. At age sixteen, I had resolved to take care of myself and got inspired to cook dinner. I watched the food network a lot. I liked Giada de Laurentiis's show about Italian cooking the most, probably because she made so much vegetarian food without meaning to. I made hundreds of her recipes. Countless pasta dinners later, I had a pretty good handle on what to do with a cast iron skillet, the difference between blanching and braising, sauteeing and simmering, and a tart between a torte. In many ways, Giada de Laurentiis taught me how to cook.

Alex moved to Philly for the summer for work, and came home to visit this weekend. He isn't exactly the seasoned chef I consider myself, and had been basically living on beer and Hip City Veg, and was looking forward to a home-cooked meal upon his return. I decided to make a throwback, waaaay back, to when we were sixteen, when I would cook something a lot like this.

It worked out pretty great. We had a nice dinner with red wine and bread. I think you are supposed to use white wine to drink with this, but I like red wine better. So that's what I did. Incidentally, I was recently yelled at by a sommelier for drinking red wine with vegetables. After finding out I was vegan, he told me I just "couldn't understand the finer things in life."

Roman-Style Seitan with Garlicky Green Beans and Mashed Potatoes

4 Seitan Cutlets, use your favorite recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, sliced into half moons
3 bell peppers, I like to get one of each color, sliced into strips
1 cup white wine
3 large tomatoes, diced
 4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Big pinch of salt, pepper

5 yukon gold potatoes, washed, quartered
3/4 cup cashews
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
ten cloves garlic, unpeeled
salt, pepper

1 lb green beans, washed
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Take the ten unpeeled garlic cloves and spread them out on a baking sheet and put in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Place the potatoes in a pot and fill with enough water to cover them.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until very tender, about 25 minutes.
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over pretty high heat.
Add the seitan cutlets and let them brown nicely on each side, then remove from the pan.
Add the onions and peppers to the pan, and cook until they have softened and reduced in size, about 10 minutes. Leave the heat up high, so that it happens quicker.
Meanwhile, add the cashews and water to a blender, and blend like the dickens. Now you have cashew milk!
Add the garlic to the pan with the peppers, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and wine, salt and pepper.  Now nestle the seitan cutlets back into the pot, distributing the veggies over the cutlets. Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
At this point you can steam and shock your green beans if you have room on your stove. You can also boil them for about 5 minutes, then plunge into some ice water to keep them bright green and crisp, thus shocking them. We are going to cook them with garlic last.
Check the potatoes, which should be pretty tender by now, and drain. Pour them back into the pot they were boiled in with the roasted garlic, which you can now peel. Pour in the cashew milk, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mash until very smooth, and the garlic cloves have been mashed into unification with the potatoes. Taste for salt. Cover and keep on the back of the stove until the rest is ready.
Add the 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a frying pan and heat up. Add the sliced garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Now add your green beans and toss pretty continually until warm and coated with the garlic and olive oil. Sprinkle a little salt and turn off the heat. Turn the heat off the peppers and seitan and add the capers and parsley. I like to take the cutlets out and slice them before plating, but it's not really that necessary. Serve with a lot of peppers and wine sauce from the pan. Obviously serve with more wine!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Salad Samurai Review

Like the majority of all the vegans of the world, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Terry Hope Romero's new book, Salad Samurai, for the past several months. I'm so glad it was released in early summer, since it's salad season. I keep saying that I'm going to eat only salad, wake up early and exercise every day, run after work, and be the most fantastic vegan of all time, and I'm going to totally dive in starting July 1st-- but that's big talk from someone who ate two cookies for breakfast this morning... 

Seared Garlic Chickpeas, Spinach & Farro (and Arugula)

The release of Salad Samurai has helped me at least begin to get on track for my planned month of healthy eating habits and exercise. I've been making tons of salad, and all of them taste totally amazing. I want to eat all of them, so kudos to someone making me crave salad, my arch-nemesis. Most vegans go out to eat begrudgingly to some random chain restaurant with their friends and look at the menu, anticipating the worst, and then seeing their only option-- the garden salad; with no cheese, please. People assume that vegans really like to eat salad, and only salad, as if it fills us up and makes us love our lives. Disclaimer to all non-vegans: Maybe your vegan friends smile and grin and bear it when you suggest Buffalo Wild Wings as a good place to go when you get together, but inside, your vegan friend is like WTF?!?
Left: Smokehouse Chickpeas 'n' Greens Salad, Right:Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Salad

And listen, it isn't like we HATE salad, we just don't appreciate your run-of-the-mill, average, pathetic bowl of rabbit food that is placed in front of us while we watch all our friends eat slices of pizza. Salad, for a meal, needs to have a little something going on. It needs to hit all the bases for flavor, texture, temperature, and nutrition. A bowl of iceberg lettuce is neither nutritious nor satisfying. We need lots of players on our salad team! We need chickpeas for protein, peas for snap, avocado for creaminess, and cucumbers for crunch! Arugula for pepperyness, Soy-glazed tofu or mushrooms for saltiness, raisins for sweetness, capers for tanginess, lemon for zing, and tahini dressing for mmmmmmmm. The salads in Salad Samurai deliver all of these required features and more.

Pesto Cauliflower & Potato Salad

If you're thinking of how long it takes to make a salad, you're probably thinking, "not long!" And you'd be right. To make the salad really sing, a few items need to be prepped, but if you are comparing it to how long your average Sunday Dinner takes you to make, well then you could probably have 10 gourmet salads made with their personal effects and all, for every lasagna you crank out.

Some farro, cooling, and seared garlic chickpeas

We really loved all the salads we made, but the first two especially so. The Pesto Cauliflower & Potato Salad, and the Seared Garlic Chickpeas and Spinach Salad were really perfect. We decided to make them in the morning, and pack them up and take them to McCarren park for a Sunday Picnic lunch! It was quite adorable. Alex made the croutons, even though neither recipe called for them, just 'cause. He likes being on "crouton duty." :)

Classic Croutons

A very adorable picnic lunch

She has a "breakfast salad" chapter at the end too, which interested me, after having fallen into a smoothie rut.. I actually got sick from a bunch of bananas I bought and froze, and haven't smoothied since! I'd been curious about trying overnight oats, and this recipe came the the right time. I really dig the oats! The creme is definitely necessary for sweetness, though. Good thing it's easy to make ahead, and it lasts for 3-4 days.

Overnight Oats with Mexican Chocolate Creme

Inside, you will find a cure for every craving; something creamy, something spicy, something crisp, crunchy, sweet, salty, savory, hearty, chewy, tender... Everything you want is in this book.

Left: Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites), Right: Italian Wedding Farro Salad

This book has a really great variety of salads, all separated by the seasons, to help you utilize the produce that's in season all year round. Each salad is definitely well thought-out, with no throw-aways. I've made a whole lot of salads that were really meh, but all these look like they were made by someone who's sick of eating "meh" salads. She talks about how her palate is growing up alongside her-- for example, she doesn't really crave cookies and cupcakes the way she used to, now she craves more healthful things like smoothies, and even salads! I think I'm experiencing a similar shift, too. I mean, I don't really bake cakes for myself the way I used to all those years ago. I'm trying to do better by myself, my body, and my mind. What I'm looking for is my own version of "soul food", and I don't mean "comfort food." Food that I can feel like I am eating to improve myself. I want to wake up and feel like I helped prepare yesterday for today by eating, behaving, and practicing habits that will contribute to my well-being. Too many mornings of my life have I woken up thinking, "I need to eat better." I'm old enough now that I feel it's really time for those habits to begin. So in my own way, I feel like I really "get" what Terry is trying to say with Salad Samurai. It's time to do right by ourselves, and damn, is it delicious.