No-new groceries check-in

I’m still three days away from pay day and I have bought zero new groceries, true to my goal.

Gotta say, I’m quite impressed with my own pantry-stocking skills. And the beginning of CSA season was admittedly a great help.

I cheated financially and went to dinner with a friend and got drinks with more friends last Friday night, but those were plans made before I knew I’d be strapped for cash. But because I’m using some creativity in the kitchen, I’ve still been spending very little.

Here are some highlights: More

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Dispatch from the CSA rabbit hole

Well hello there. I hope you’ve had a lovely summer. I’ve continued to cook away in a constant struggle to keep up with all the beautiful goods coming through my kitchen via CSA.

Let’s review what I’ve come up with in the past several weeks.

First: Pickling!

I’m a pickle whore, no joke. My whole life. So it’s been fun to work up some quick pickles with the pickling cucumbers that I’ve received and especially the radishes when I don’t have time or ideas for anything special for them. The radishes are perfect to have on hand for salad fixins.

Next: Pastas! More

CSA OMG

Gorgeous and incredibly daunting all at once.

Gorgeous and incredibly daunting all at once.

I have been busy in the kitchen, now more than ever.

And it’s because of my CSA.

I’ve never had a CSA subscription before. Too expensive for my miniscule salary, all that.

But now that I make a lil’ more money this year, I decided to subscribe to the cheapest farm subscription I could find in Seattle. A half-share. Because, you know, I’m a single person who can’t consume a whole share.

For the past month-and-a-half, I’ve been drowning in vegetables. More

Hacking Plum

I’ve never been to Capitol Hill’s Plum Bistro, one of Seattle’s bastions of vegan cuisine.

I hope to someday, but I need someone willing to drop more than a little cash at a nice vegan restaurant with me.

But I do go to Plum Pantry, one of the franchise’s outposts, at the Seattle Center. I go there during my lunch break sometimes as a treat. It’s freaking bomb. Just last week I had the baked tempeh chipotle sandwich. There’s also their reuben, banh mi, yam and jerk tofu sandwich … NOM.

Anyway, my parents gave me the Plum cookbook for Christmas last year, and even though I salivated over the lovely photos, I hadn’t made anything from the book yet. Most of the recipes seemed more involved, costly and contained several ingredients I don’t keep around in my pantry.

But upon taking a fresh look through the book recently, I found a few that seemed do-able.

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What does it matter?

I kept my vegan-ness unknown around my workplace until I ordered the “vegan wrap” for a work lunch and my cover was blown.

I was still pretty new. I wanted to be known for my work and my personality, not as “the vegan one.”

But my boss has been super-de-duper nice about it since she learned about my leanings. Whereas pizza is the go-to working meal for journalists normally, last election night she opted to order us Thai food, which made it possible for me to order something without imposing on anyone else. She thinks of me any time there’s a meal on the company dime.

Same for when this representative for a web video distributor came to Seattle last week and brought us lunch. My boss told him ahead of time there’s a vegan in the newsroom and though he planned on getting pizza, he’d bring me a salad.

I don’t expect people to go out of their way to accommodate me. But I’m grateful for every thoughtful gesture.

The guy came with boxes of pizza and a bag containing my salad. My boss peeked inside, came to my desk and whispered, fretfully, “I think there was a mistake. The salad is covered in cheese.”

“No big deal,” I assured her, “I’ll pick it off.”

Didn’t want to bite the hand that fed me. I hate waste as much as I love free food.

But as I furtively flicked blue cheese bits from my salad into a trash can with a fork, I wondered why I was taking such pains. I used to love blue cheese. And it’s not like I’m saving a cow by throwing out the cheese, already made, distributed and sold. Can’t unring that bell, as one might say.

And in order to remove most of the cheese presence, I had to sacrifice the tomatoes and cucumbers with them, leaving mostly just greens. And there were still itty bits of cheese here and there that I was not anal enough to pick through. So basically I chucked nearly half my salad just for my choice – not an allergy or life-threatening condition, but a choice and a stance.

As I picked through greens and walnuts while the rest of my colleagues piled up on cheese, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and sausage pizza – and oh, it smelled so good – I felt a mix of pride and a strange guilt. Why can’t I just eat the cheese if it’s served to me? I just wasted perfectly good food, didn’t I?

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Portland!

After some tough weeks at work for the both of us, my boyfriend and I went to Portland for the weekend.

My main experience with Portland is my mom taking my brother and me to the Clackamas Mall (quite outside of Portland) for sales tax-free back-to-school shopping. Of course I’ve been to Portland proper, the metropolitan neighbor to the south, but I hadn’t explored it on my own.

Seattle is an easy city in which to be vegan, but in Portland they totally cater to you. I had a waiter volunteer to check on the veganness of a salad, went to places with special vegan menus and you can just say “make it vegan, please” and they know what to do (too many people don’t know what that means, so I always have to specify no mayo/sour cream/cheese/aioli, etc.). Portland is particularly vegan-savvy.

Now eating out with the man friend means seeking out omni restaurants that have something I can eat. Homeboy doesn’t quite get that it’s possible to have a meal without meat.

But it was so easy!

Oh and we drank lots of craft beer. So happy beer is vegan.

Not pictured: a grilled PB and J from the famous Bunk Sandwiches. Yeah I’m gonna make those at home now.

Recommended brewery: Pints.

Maybe next time I’ll go to Portland with girlfriends who will eat at the vegan joints with me.

You’re a lucky vegan when …

… your parents visit and decide to bring you a salad, but when the salad they bought for you unexpectedly was covered in cheese, your dad picks out all the grated cheese for you.

My parents are your run-of-the mill omnivores, but they support me.

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