Saturday, August 14, 2010

Our Trip to Portland, Part II

Here is the most amazing open faced sandwich EVER! When we first got in from the airport, we went straight to my Juju's house. She uses a lot of dairy and meat in everything she cooks, so I offered to cook for her instead....but I really wanted to make something she would find satisfying and filling. I thought open faced sandwiches with sauteed and grilled veggies would probably do the trick, and these were one of the best meals I have ever made, although they were hard to eat. 

Below are photos of what was in the sandwich. We took white button mushrooms, two entire garlics, scallions, and white onions and caramelized all of them in a cast iron pan with olive oil. In a separate pan, we fried up eggplants. After they were fried, the eggplants went in baking dish with  roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes. We also pan fried a basil polenta. 
In a blender, we put 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup basil, 1 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper and blended until it turned into this green puree (below). This topped the sandwiches with the olive tapenade you see above it. All of these things were stacked on top of a fresh baked olive boulle we got from this little organic co-op my grandmother frequents. 


After dinner we watched Avatar, which my Juju reported "blew her brain out." I know the first time I saw it I was pretty impressed too. :) Ha ha. At one point, a fly was bothering us so she manned all of us with our very own fly swatters. Of course Jay ended up killing it with his bare hands. 

Later that night, Jay was blown away when he spotted a pull up bar in Juju's kitchen. It is really really difficult for anyone to do a pull up but especially women because of our lack of upper body strength, so for him to see one in my grandmothers house was kind of a shock. 

Jay: "Juju, is that a pull up bar?" 
Juju:  "Oh! Well why of course! I love using that! Is that strange for me to have that?"
Jay: "Uh...I guess not. You usually just see those in guys dorm rooms next to a six pack...can you actually do a pull up?"
Juju: "Oh no, I just like to hang off of it like this and really stretch my back out"

She is definitely my kin.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Finally....Our trip to Portland Part I: Pizza Night

I finished my boards and PASSED (yay!), so all I have is one project to finish and I am DONE with school! For those of you who don't know, I have been working on my Masters in Nursing and because of a grant and a move I was attempting to finish the degree in one year even though it was a three year program...while working full time. :( It was a really stressful year and my hair is turning white...but my mom says that is genetics not stress. I'm not so sure.

Anyhow, in July we went to Portland, Oregon to visit family and had the BEST time!!! We also had lots of fantastic vegan treats!

My family has pizza night quite often, and so I had to make a vegan pizza for myself (and my sister who ponders veganism) but everyone ate this pizza. We rolled out this thin crust and put a little tomato sauce and tons of garlic on it and then baked it. While it was baking I pan fried asparagus, kalamata olives, onions, eggplant, garlic, and mushrooms in a pan. In another pan I fried Gardein Chk'n in olive oil with tons of garlic, lemon juice, and cayenne. When the pizza was done, we added the toppings and ate it! This was by far, the best pizza I have ever had! Here is another picture of it:

After that first pizza went so well, my fam agreed to a vegan pizza night with the help of my step-mom who is my ultimate supporter in veganism :) Unfortunately, I made the first pizza too spicy for her to eat because I didn't know she didn't have the iron stomach (sorry Vikki!) Anyhow, with this being my time to shine I had to impress. My sisters and I went to Whole Foods and picked up lots of yummies! 

You cannot get my dad out of the kitchen. He loves cooking and told me my mom (they are divorced now, but friendly) was the inspiration for his love of good food. She was my inspiration also! Anyhow, I could not get him away from the pizzas and at one point he attempted to pull some cheese out of the fridge...but I apprehended it. I had to show him that truly good food is not dependent on meat and cheese!

This was our first garlic-ky pizza. It had olive oil and garlic on the crust and then was baked. While baking we pan fried garlic, kalamata olives, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, and asparagus. It was very very yummy.

I do not know where I got the above inspiration, but this was a baked crust with a fig and olive spread topped with pan fried apples. It was really really great. My dad decided he needed whipped cream for his, but I reminded him that this was vegan pizza night, and so he used the coconut bliss ice cream I bought for him. This ice cream is really the best. It has only five ingredients, and this particular brand is chocolate peanut butter. It is made of coconut cream and holy god if you like coconut you will love this ice cream. Anyhow, as strange as it sounds, it was fantastic on this pizza.

These were the last two pizzas we made. Both had garlic and tomato sauce and the one on the left had garlic spinach, the right had artichoke hearts and asparagus. So yum!

This is Silo and Jay. Silo is a "navy cat" because he has seven toes on each paw and I guess the ships used to breed cats with this many toes so they would be superb mousers. Silo is a great mouser and a very active, male cat and so Jay and him got along very well...especially since they have that navy thing in common. Dad has never met Jay's parents and is convinced the Navy bred him in a test tube as some sort of super warrior and so maybe Silo and Jay have more in common than I know.
Anyhow, we had a wonderful, wonderful time in Portland. It is so beautiful and everyone is so friendly there! My next post will have pics of our trip to my Juju's house and the BEST OPEN FACED SANDWICH EVER so stay tuned!!! :)