#2015TopNine

Well, 2015 happened. And I didn’t blog very much. So I’m sharing my top nine posts from Instagram as a sort of recap in hopes that I’ll get inspired to pick up the blog again in 2016.

2015-12-31 06.47.22Top row, left:

My lady and I took an epic winter holiday trip (flew from DC to Charlotte, drove to South Carolina, drove to northern Florida and back, and then flew again from Charlotte to DC) involving lots of family time, kid time and time spent in the car. It was fun, but by the time we made it back to Sout Carolina on the 27th, we were ready for a little downtime. Enter Good Life Cafe in Columbia. This place is all vegan (sweet!), gluten-free (score!) and raw (oh, okay). No judgement of people who do the raw food thing, it’s just a little tough on the ibs belly. Also, Good Life was having a pretty rough night of it. We arrived about 6:30 pm and learned they’d had a rush earlier in the day and were out of quite a few menu items. And everything was served cold – like refrigerator cold – which muted a lot of the flavors so the food seemed really salty. Without anything carb-y on the menu, my stomach suffered a LOT from this meal.

Top row,  middle:

We stand with Planned Parenthood around here. My partner and I both work in reproductive health/abortion rights and it’s been a shitty year. But our cute selfie was famous for a couple days. Fun!

Top row, right:

I went to Vegas. I already posted about this, but the gist is, i couldn’t find anything to eat, but I found a vegan boozy milkshake. I still don’t like Vegas, but I liked this milkshake.

Middle row, left:

I started a new job! And attended a fancy gala for the Texas Freedom Network in November. I LOVED this gala, because their vegetarian entree was vegan and gluten free. And delicious. But seriously, I spend a lot of work events hungry and/or slightly tipsy, because I had a glass of wine and couldn’t eat anything. It was really nice to be able to eat and drink like a normal person.

Middle row, middle:

Vegan. Tomato. Pie. With a gluten free crust! My lady continues to recreate awesome recipes for me to eat. This was a mix of red and green tomatoes and it was weird and also really good.

Middle row, right:

Do you have Isa Does It? Because this cookbook changed our life. So many awesome, easy recipes that we both love. This is her malai kofta recipe, and even though it wasn’t the prettiest dish, it was one of the most delicious things we cooked all year.

Bottom row, left:

We moved! (Seriously. Lots of things changed in the 2nd half of the year.) And we love out new place. So we got a ridiculously huge holiday tree to celebrate. And then we got in trouble for bringing it in through the lobby instead of the basement. Sigh.

Bottom row, middle:

This was the year of weddings – I was invited to six and made it to five. This one was the day before my birthday in Lyons, Colorado. Amanda and Hayes are cutting their wedding ice cream sandwich. Also, my amazing friends made sure I could eat at all of their weddings. Yay love! and yay eggplant!

Bottom row, right:

New job required me to spend two weeks in Texas for orientation and training. I had a great time, ate some awesome food, and learned not to start a meal with chips and salsa (ouch). My coworkers and I found Licha’s Cantina by accident, and this was my best meal in Austin. This is a black bean-filled blue corn masa cake topped with avocado and some other veggies. Also, Licha’s was so cute, the margaritas were delicious and the service was awesome. Love.

The longest month of the year

Seriously, February, you are the worst. I don’t know why you think you need to pack all of the stress into 28 measly little days, but I’m already over you and it’s only the 16th.

So far in February I have traveled to Boston, Denver and Las Vegas, broke my washing machine, defeated a death cold and helped SG move into my our apartment on the coldest weekend so far this winter. I am spent. It’s currently snowing in DC and I have everything crossed hoping for a snow day tomorrow so we can continue unpacking and settling into our space, since I’ve been on the road so much. And I thought I’d share a little vegan/gluten free travelogue of the past couple weeks.

This sandwich is the stuff dreams are made of

This sandwich is the stuff dreams are made of

First up: Boston! SG* had a work meeting the last week in January, and we found a roundtrip ticket for only $150 so that I could join her for the weekend. I lived in Boston a few years ago and I am still close to some very lovely people up there. So we stayed in a fancy hotel, had some fancy drinks, I saw great friends and we tromped through snow (thankfully, we were in town between blizzards and didn’t get stuck) to the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. It was a lovely weekend, and I took exactly one photo the entire time. Of a sandwich.

I discovered Veggie Galaxy in Cambridge, MA while we were prepping for this trip and I was instantly enamored. In addition to vegetarian and vegan restaurants, DC is also sadly lacking diners. Veggie Galaxy combines both of these things AND has an extensive gluten-free menu. Hello, happiness. Most of my friends are omnivores, but they’re super flexible and willing to work with my dietary restrictions, so after SG and I wrapped up our museum outing, we all met up for an amazing late lunch. I had the The Club sandwich on gluten-free bread. I was obsessed with club sandwiches as a kid, so finding a tempeh and tofu version was really exciting. I ate like it was my last meal. After Veggie Galaxy, we wandered over to River Gods for an early drink and met up with more friends I hadn’t seen in a while. We spent much longer there than we’d planned, and then took the T from Central Square to Harvard to meet up with my friend’s fiance. They recommended Algiers for food and an escape from the Saturday night Harvard crowd. (Seriously, it was like -8 out and everywhere was packed. I forgot how normal it is to go out in freezing weather in New England.) Anyway, Algiers was exactly what we needed – we got a big table, lots of wine, french fries and gluten-free falafel. Boston was good to us. I’m excited to go back in warmer weather and show SG more of the city.

This is what I looked like at the end of Creating Change

This is what I looked like at the end of Creating Change

I returned from Boston on a Sunday night and flew to Denver the following Wednesday. SG flew from Boston to Raleigh for another meeting and didn’t get back to DC till after I’d left. In Denver, I attended Creating Change, the annual conference for the Nation LGBTQ Task Force. This year, more than 4,000 LGBTQ people and allies came together for the conference, and it was a pretty incredible weekend. In addition to speaking on a couple panels and live-tweeting my boss’ plenary on reproductive justice, I organized a huge karaoke/dance party for a couple hundred people. So that was pretty rad.

I also ate really well in Denver. The restaurant attached to our hotel, Yard House, had a surprisingly diverse menu and was able to accommodate my diet fairly easily. I had their tofu lettuce wraps twice – so good. I was a little disappointed by their truffle fries, which came sprinkled with Parmesan, although that wasn’t listed on the menu. If I could change one thing about the restaurant world, it would be to clarify that cheese is an ingredient, not a garnish, and since it’s a fairly common allergen, surprise cheese is not okay.

Native Foods take on nachos, minus the seitan

Native Foods’ take on nachos, minus the seitan

Our hotel was just down the street from one of Denver’s two Native Foods locations, and I managed to slip away from the conference twice to pay them a visit. I’ve been meaning to try their nachos since they opened in DC, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Since I’m gluten free and SG is soy-free, Native Foods actually isn’t super easy for us to eat at, despite being an entirely vegan restaurant. I’d love to see them introduce more gluten-free proteins and to offer some of their sandwiches on gf breads…I remember being moderately obsessed with Native Foods in college, but I’ve been less excited about them since they came back into my life last year.Anyway, the nachos normally have seitan “beef” on them, but they were pretty good without it. I went back a couple days later and they had smoky split pea soup on the menu. Since I was starting to come down with a cold, the soup and and order of their polenta bites was exactly what I needed.

Well, that and a package of Zicam lozenges.

I made it back from Denver in one piece and spent two nights at home before I shipped out the Las Vegas for another conference – the Road Ahead, organized by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. I have a lot to say about Vegas and about the Road Ahead, but that will have to wait for a future post.

xo

*aka my lady or my ladyfriend or Sarah…I don’t love the term “partner” and I haven’t decided how I want to refer to her in this space, but she’s a VIP.

Oh those summer nights

The view from our corner table at Big Bear Cafe in Bloomingdale

The view from our corner table at Big Bear Cafe in Bloomingdale

This has been a very atypical weekend in DC. Hurricane Arthur missed us completely, but brought this amazing warm but not humid weather so it’s actually been nice to be outside for a few days. Also it was the Fourth of July, which is one of my favorite holidays. And also, my lady returned home from a trip to Florida, and we actually overlap in DC for four entire days.

My friend Molly hosted us for the Fourth – she has a beautiful roof deck with a view of several communities’ fireworks displays. We had an amazing meal of grilled broccoli, carrots and romaine, with tempeh, tofu and chicken for the omnivores.

I brought along some homemade hummus and vegan and gluten-free peanut butter cookies from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking. The cookies were popular  even with the non-gf folks at the party…and it was fun to share the good news with people who were enjoying them but had no idea they were vegan. They’re also super simple to make; I’m a big fan of this cookbook in general.

Anyway.

We had some serious erranding to do on Saturday, which required us to go to the Athleta store Georgetown. I’ve lived in DC three and a half years and managed to avoid Georgetown thus far…it’s kind of the worst. Crowded with aggressively shopping tourists and full of overpriced mediocre food options.  We did accomplish our goals (except for a stop at Baked & Wired, because I am not standing in a half-block-long line for a cupcake, sorry Georgetown) and then booked it back to our neighborhood for an afternoon siesta.

I want to swim in this avocado soup

I want to swim in this avocado soup

By around 6 pm, we were restless and hungry and thinking about dinner options. I was in the mood for Bacio pizza (have I blogged about Bacio before? I can’t remember) but my lady was looking for a lighter option. We were heading out for a pre-dinner cocktail when we passed Big Bear.

I’ve never actually eaten at Big Bear, even though it’s only a few blocks from home. I’ve stopped in for cocktails or tea, but there’s never been anything on the menu that fits my dietary restrictions, so it’s kind of off my radar. This evening, the host was super friendly and pointed out the menu items that were both vegan and gluten-free, and assured me that people with stricter diets than mine had eaten there successfully in the past. So. He led us to a corner table under a grape arbor, and we had one of the best meals I’ve had in DC.

We started with a ridiculous chilled avocado soup that was amazingly cool and light with a lingering spiciness from serrano peppers. I was a bit worried that the soup would taste like guacamole, but it was a very unique flavor. I did finish most of my wine trying to cool off from the peppers.

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…with coconut rice and red lentil dal!

My main course, Spiced Spinach, Cauliflower and Cashews (although I’m pretty sure this was chard and not spinach), was pretty incredible. The rice was light and flavorful, and the dal was perfect for dipping the vegetables and rice. There was also a sort of chutney with grapes and maybe rhubarb? So. good. (The dish is served with poori, which the host indicated is not gluten-free.) My lady had Pomegranate Braised Short Ribs, which were a hit.

Big Bear has a beautiful patio surrounded by a pretty extensive outdoor garden, and I saw one of the cooks come out to clip herbs while we were eating, which was pretty awesome. It seems they change up their menu pretty frequently, so it might be worth checking the menu or calling ahead before you go. The staff was helpful and well-informed about the menu items and ingredients, and I had no issues or symptoms after the meal. I’m really excited to have a good outdoor eating option near home, and I’m looking forward to visiting Big Bear again.

Hello, Gluuteny

Once upon a time, I went to Pittsburgh. My lady has extended family there, and it’s only 4-ish hours away from DC, but she hadn’t been able to visit since she moved here a year ago. So we planned a weekend road trip over Memorial Day.

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The view outside Panorama at the Peak, Berkeley Springs, WV

I wouldn’t necessarily think of Pittsburgh as a destination for gluten-free or vegan food, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised in a lot of random cities, so I was excited to explore a new city. ALSO, my lady had planned our route to include a stop at Panorama at the Peak in Berkeley Springs, where we had dinner on New Year’s Eve. Our second visit was just as good as the first – the staff at Panorama at the Peak is so friendly and accommodating, even though we didn’t have a reservation and I had forgotten to call ahead to ask them for a gluten-free and vegan meal, their chef was able to put together a delicious stirfry with brown rice and vegetables. (For the record, they have both gluten-free and vegan menu items, but nothing on the menu was both.)

After Panorama, we drove to Cumberland to spend the night and then headed toward Pittsburgh the next morning.

So, Pittsburgh is awesome. I totally loved the rust belty feel, and having so many rivers and bridges and tunnels through the middle of the city is awesome. We had excellent tour guides who made sure we saw a lot of awesome parts of the city and found vegan options every day.

I also met my gluten-free bakery soulmate at Gluuteny in Squirrel Hill. Oh my word. Gluuteny is a small storefront, but it’s packed with amazing things to eat and everything they make is also dairy-free (but not everything is vegan). They have donuts. And brownies. They have amazing hamburger rolls. And they sell mixes you can bring home to recreate the goodness at home. The woman who was working the counter was so friendly, answered my many questions and gave us recommendations. She also shared that she is working on her gluten and dairy-free scone recipe, because at a previous job where she worked with gluten, she was known as the Scone Queen, and is ready to take back that title. So now I want to move to Pittsburgh and apprentice myself to the Scone Queen.

You can bring Gluuteny home with you! You can also order things online.

You can bring Gluuteny home with you! You can also order things online.

Oh! and the best part – Gluuteny is an affordable gf bakery. I get a little overwhelmed in bakeries, because we don’t have one quite yet in DC and I want to buy all of the things. I picked out several treats (a donut with raspberry icing,  a ginormous brownie, a cupcake for my lady, a loaf of cinnamon pound cake [omfg – so delicious], a pack of rolls for our dinner later and a hamburger bun mix to take home. Nothing had a price on it, and we admitted to each other after we left that we were both holding our breath while the total was calculated. Sarah assumed I was about to spend at least $50. I was expecting even more than that.

The actual total? $27. No, really. I’m moving to Pittsburgh.

And this weekend I finally got around to making the bread rolls from the mix I purchased. Inside the package, they had thoughtfully tucked a packet of yeast, so I only needed to provide 2 egg whites and some lukewarm water. I forgot to take a photo of the ingredient list, and it doesn’t look like it’s available online, but this is a super soft, finely ground mix of flours.

Behold! Soft peaks have formed!

Behold! Soft peaks have formed!

Bonus points for being really easy to assemble. All you do is beat the egg whites, combine the mix, yeast and water in a separate bowl and then add the egg whites to the mix. I did have to break out the electric mixer for this one, because I tried to whisk the egg whites into soft peaks and I kind of wanted to die.

I did screw up the forming of the buns, so my end result was not nearly as attractive as the photo on the package. My situation looked more like drop biscuits than burger buns, to be honest. What you’re supposed to do is oil your hands and smooth them out before they rise and then oil them again before they go in the oven. I just really hate having stuff on my hands, because I am a giant baby.

In any case, they still rose and they baked up to be light and delicious and chewy and almost as god as the ones I bought in May. I was inspired to make marinated tofu and sauteed zucchini and hummus that evening, so I could put together a sandwich worthy of these buns. No really. They’re that good.

Oooooooooh

Um, yum. They actually don’t look gluten-free at all.

Rumor has it that DC’s first proper gf bakery will be opening in Adams Morgan this summer. You can follow the adventures of Rise on facebook. In the meantime, I will happily order delicious things from Gluuteny. I’m really excited to play with their brownie mix, and they also have a general baking mix available, which seems genius. I really appreciated the accessibility and community vibe of Gluuteny. While I love Mariposa in the Bay Area a lot, they are definitely working the artisanal angle and their presentation is maybe a little more pretentious? It’s a Bay Area thing, don’t worry about it.

 

I have seen the promised land

Soooooo…it’s been a while, huh? I had to take a break from blogging for weird personal reasons that we probably don’t need to talk about here, but I have a couple new cities to post about, so here I am, and hopefully, this will become a habit again. I guess we’ll see.

Gluten-free, vegan and raw desserts. So very delicious.

Gluten-free, vegan and raw desserts. So very delicious.

In the meantime, let’s talk about Kansas City, MO aka the happiest place on earth. I organized a conference there in May (shoutout to the Westin Kansas City and their kickass event staff), and my lady, who spent seven years there, was able to come along for the trip. While my first couple days there were mostly consumed by conference running, we did have an opportunity to explore the city, which exceeded all of my expectations. Translation: I love the shit out of Kansas City.

So KC has three – yes, three – vegan restaurants with multiple gluten-free offerings. A fourth was a few days away from opening during our visit. We went to lunch at Cafe Gratitude with a couple of my lady’s former colleagues. The concept is a little shticky; everything on the menu is an adjective, and you’re supposed to order by saying “I am Grounded” or “I am Magical” or whatever. Good lord.

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I am…Warm-hearted. Whatever you say, Cafe Gratitude.

In any case, it must work for some people, because a guy from Vampire Weekend was in the restaurant when we visited. (It really, really was him – my friend talked to him as we were leaving the restaurant.) Oh and the food? Holy. Balls. We split an order of “Grounded” (garlic potatoes with spicy nacho cheese) and I was astounded by “Warm-hearted” (pesto polenta and spaghetti squash). My lunch companions were all omnivores, but they seemed pretty excited about their entrees as well. And then there was the moment when our waiter brought over an entire tray of vegan and gluten-free desserts. I am not ashamed to admit that I nearly cried. Cafe Gratitude, I would like to have your gluten-free, vegan, sustainable, Midwestern babies.

Aside from one of the best vegan meals of my damn life, I met some pretty amazing people in Kansas City. My very lovely girlfriend introduced me to some of her friends, who had planned a potluck to celebrate her visit. Not only did her friends cook for us, they collaborated to make sure everything at the dinner was vegan and gluten-free. And delicious. Seriously you guys, even my family doesn’t do that for me. We spent a long evening eating, drinking wine and talking on the front porch during a rainstorm. It was such an wonderful and welcoming atmosphere…I was kind of surprised we actually came back to DC, because I would have stayed forever.

This trip and conference was one of the best experiences I’ve had in terms of traveling with IBS. The Westin was creative and accommodated multiple dietary restrictions (including gluten-free dessert options) and the food was really good. I was nearly symptom-free the whole time. Of course, you get what you pay for – I don’t even want to think about how much of our budget went to food and bev at this particular conference. ALSO Kansas City was hosting Rockfest during our stay which is an outdoor music festival featuring the musical talents of Korn and Five Finger Death Punch, among others. The festival was right outside our hotel, and many of the concert-goers stayed at the Westin. I have never seen so many drunken, muddy white people in one place in all my life. Yikes.

 

Last train to Clarksville

A couple weeks ago, Zagat tweeted a question for DC residents:

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The question of “who does vegan well” in DC confounded me for a while. Do we count restaurants that have vegan options on the menu, or those that have clearly labeled menus, even if their only vegan option is a salad? Is the bar high enough to take into consideration ambiance or dining experience, or do we consider being able to eat without interrogating the waiter and embarrassing ourselves all we expect?

As a gluten-free vegan, my dietary needs are definitely niche, but I know from experience that there are many, many delicious meals that are gluten-free and vegan naturally, or that can be easily adapted, but DC’s restaurateurs don’t seem interested. At many DC restaurants, I am lucky if I can order a side of fries and a salad — and that’s only because my gluten intolerance isn’t severe enough to be triggered by a shared fryer.

This weekend, my lady and I visited Mad Momos in Colombia Heights, which captured pretty well my personal definition of “doing vegan well” in DC, but for comparison, I want to share our Valentine’s excursion to Great Sage in Clarksville, MD.

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Mad Momo’s vegan congee – cooked in vegetable stock with carrot puree added for flavor and color

Here’s what I look for in a restaurant:

  • More than one vegan option. Momos entrees are divided into four categories: noodle soup bowls, congees, naan-mi, and rice platters. Each category includes a vegan option, and all but one (the naan-mi) is also gluten-free. The vegan options were just vegan, no need for special instructions or swapping ingredients.
  • A clearly labeled menu. Momos uses three distinct symbols for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu items. No guesswork or quizzing the server. I HATE having to send someone back to the kitchen to find out whether something is sauteed in butter or if something else has a chicken-stock base.
  • Protein. Contrary to popular belief, vegans don’t subsist on sunlight, air and sprouts. A vegan meal should be just as filling as meat-based menu items – including some form of protein. 
  • Dining experience. Our server (who may have been one of the owners) was knowledgeable about the vegan menu items and explained the main differences between a couple of menu items when I was torn between two options. 
  • Atmosphere. Momos feels very neighborhoody. It’s locally owned and the owners were very involved in the running of the restaurant. 

I have eye roll examples of DC restaurants not hitting each of these categories, but that’s a post I’ll save for later. The good news is, my lady also enjoyed the evening and enthusiastically agreed to add Momos to our restaurant short list. Yay!

So Momos is a good example of what DC has…onto what DC needs.

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Adult Mac & ‘cheese’ (with gluten-free rice noodles) at Great Sage

For Valentine’s Day, my lady treated me to an overnight trip to Baltimore and dinner at Great Sage in Clarksville, MD. Great Sage is amazing, and there’s nothing like it in DC. First off, it’s all vegan AND the menu is clearly labeled; there are gluten-free menu items and gluten-free option items. There are many different kinds of plant-based protein on the menu. The service is friendly and knowledgeable, both about the menu and about dietary restrictions. 

I had Adult Mac & ‘cheese’ with rice noodles substituted for regular noodles. My lady had a Wild Mushroom Stroganoff with vegan gnocchi.

Great Sage also has something that I didn’t even bother to list as a requirement because it seems like too much to hope for: dessert. A vegan dessert menu with several gluten-free options, including a gluten-free carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that is probably the best gluten-free baked thing I have ever tasted. Good lord.

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Roasted Buffalo Tempeh appetizer – yum!

The final – and most important – point I want to make is that Great Sage is a vegan restaurant that is both accessible (we got a table around 7 on a Saturday night with no reservation and a 20-minute wait) but upscale enough that we felt like we were having a night out. To be clear, this is still casual dining, and I’m okay with that. But it didn’t feel like a diner or like we needed to plan weeks in advance to eat there. There literally is nothing like Great Sage in DC, and we desperately need it. 

For the record, Clarksville is about 40 minutes outside DC, so it’s not an impossible trek if you need buffalo tempeh in your life. And you do. My point is that for a city the size of DC, it’s just embarrassing that we don’t have more to offer in the realm of vegan dining. I know the market exists, but right now every restaurant that opens feels like the same thing with a different name. And a girl can only eat so many french fries.

You want some soup?

Probably. It’s fall and I hate fall. I don’t like to be cold, windy days make me cranky and leaving work in the dark is super depressing. Yes, fall is pretty, but even crunchy leaves and red-gold trees can’t cheer me up once coat weather sets in.

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“Last Conversation Piece” by Juan Munoz

It turns out, though, that there are a *few* things that help with the fall blues. I had a day off in the middle of the week a few weeks ago and spent an afternoon wandering the sculpture garden at the Hirshorn (the best Smithsonian). It was sunny, with only a slight chill in the air, and I realized that this piece, which I fell in love with back in 2003 when I interned in DC, is still here.

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Wild rice salad with roasted pecans, cranberries and grapes. Super yum.

Also, my ladyfriend took me out to a fancy vegan brunch at Todd Gray’s Muse Cafe in the Corcoran Gallery. The cafe is set up in the atrium of the museum, there was a jazz guitarist playing and the food is delicious. One small caveat – the staff is very nice and attentive, but not very well-versed in food allergies. I asked our waiter which dishes had gluten, and he told me I could eat everything in the buffet except the Red Curry Cous Cous because the tofu had been “marinated with a little soy sauce.” Cool…but cous cous is NOT gluten-free, so the soy sauce would have been the least of my worries. He didn’t mention anything about the whole wheat french toast or macaroni and cheese (both of which my ladyfriend said were awesome), so if I had taken him at his word, I would have had a very unpleasant Sunday afternoon.

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Me: What’s a quince, anyway?
Ladyfriend: I have no idea, but it makes an excellent compote.

The good news: we spoke to someone else on the staff a few minutes later who was able to answer our questions and made me a special fruit salad: poached pears, quince and golden raisin compote, some type of fancy orange, pomegranate seeds and slivered almonds. She also brought me two of Kate Bakes vegan and gluten-free protein bars. I tried the Chocolate Coffee flavor today and I’m saving the Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal bar for later this week.

Kate Bakes is local(!) and more importantly, made by someone with dietary restrictions, which means she gets it. The protein bars have less than 12 ingredients and no preservatives. They are also quite tasty. I kind of want Kate to be my best friend.

IMG_2127AND. Guess what I found at the Safeway this afternoon? Oh yes. Seasonal Silk is a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

So anyway. Fall. It’s apparently going to snow in DC on Wednesday and one of my officemates missed a couple of days of work last week, so we need to get serious about staying healthy. Also, soup is one of my most favorite things to cook and eat, but it’s hard to get excited about simmering something for 40 minutes when it’s 96 degrees and 98% humidity. But I have been thinking about split pea soup for a while now and I am proud to say that I finally made it happen, and it rules.

Here you go:

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 (loosely packed) cups  baby kale
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup split peas
  • approx 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 red potatoes, chopped
  • 2 small handfuls Italian parsley, chopped
  • sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
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Saute the pain away, kids.

So this is super simple, as soup should be. Saute your onion and celery in the olive oil until your onion is translucent. Add kale and saute until it’s softened. Add broth, peas and carrots. Bring to a boil. One you’re boiling, add potatoes and parsley. Salt to taste, add lots of fresh ground pepper and at least a teaspoon  cumin. Simmer until your split peas start to dissolve and get all squishy. I think this took at least 40 minutes. It was at least a full episode of House of Cards.

The smell of onion and celery cooking together is one of my most favorites in the universe. I think it’s how my dad starts his stuffing for Thanksgiving so it really evokes childhood for me. I’m also getting braver about greens and other sources of insoluble fiber. I’ve been very, very cautious about avoiding these things to manage my IBS, but in reality, we actually need insoluble fiber to, like, live and stuff. So baby kale, sauteed and then boiled in the soup, allows me to get some greens without feeling terrible.

If you like a very creamy soup, you could blend some or all of this soup. I prefer the chunks of vegetables, but the imperative for me is being patient enough to let the split peas  start to dissolve and thicken the soup. And then you can eat like two bowls of it while you watch House of Cards*.

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

*This is my first time through House of Cards. I tried watching it last winter when everyone was talking about it (one of my friends actually called in sick at work to stay home and finish the season) and I just couldn’t get into it. I’m three episodes in and I’m still not sold. More on this later, but for now, here’s a gratuitous photo of the White House, because fall in DC.