April 2nd, 2011


A Journey of Ten Thousand Miles Starts With a Trip to Chicago

 We've decided to go check out Polo Marco's stomping grounds for ourselves.  Last time we did that, we ended up in Hong Kong for a week.  For some reason, that now seems almost tame.  This time we're proposing a trip to the People's Republic of China, the western version.  China requires a visa, and we needed to show up in person.... at the closest consulate... which happens to be in Chicago, a three-hour drive from here.  (And that's pretty good - what if we lived in northern Wisconsin???)  Fortunately, we seem to have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's, but we will find out for sure when/if we receive our visas in the mail in the coming week.  Of course, we had to take an entire day off from work.  In order to make it more "worth it," we made sure to have lunch at: The Chicago Diner! Vegetarian restaurants may get better than this.... but I can't think of another one I like as much.  Well, the Garden Grille in Providence.  Anyway, here is the famed CD:
Now there are plenty of restaurants in Madison that offer veg-friendly fare, but I rarely go out to eat in Madison, preferring to cook my own food.  So it was a huge treat to open the menu and have to choose among so many fabulous-sounding dishes.  In general, my rule of thumb is to order something I wouldn't cook at home, but in the end, I chose something that sounded really good and I wasn't disappointed.  Below are our lunches -- mine was the Sweet Potato Quesadilla with Spiced Black Beans, Spinach, Grilled Seitan, Cheese and Guacamole.  (I'm kind of a sucker for Daiya cheese.  I never actually buy it, so this was a draw.)  Behind it is A's Pumpkin Ravioli in a Squash Reduction Sauce and topped with Baked Apples and Onions.  (Mine was absolutely superb. His was pretty darn good.)  

Back at home, we're still doing fast food on the weekdays and "slow food" on the weekends.  For about three days we ate a nut loaf I made last Sunday.  It sort of started out like our usual Pecan Loaf, but we didn't have desirable bread for breadcrumbs, and I reasoned that when I make Lentil Loaf I use rice, and we had lots of leftover rice, so I used that instead.  And THEN I further reasoned that as long as it was starting to resemble Lentil Loaf, I ought to add grated carrots, which is what I would use, and so I did.  We served it with mashed potatoes and lima beans.  Doesn't it look all-American?
And then there was the hummus/Tofutti-better-than-cream-cheese/pickle/sprout sandwich (home-made pickles from last summer):
And the rice and dal from the freezer (not pictured).   Today it's the weekend again - how did that happen so quickly?  I had been eyeing a slow-cooker baked-bean recipe, mainly because it calls for dried apricots, and I have some of the unsulphured kind that are now hard as a rock.  And no kidding - ten hours in the crock pot and they are fine!  I used this recipe, and it tastes wonderful, but along the way I ended up doubling all the spices, adding some sriracha, and a little salt.  I will definitely do that next time.  I'll also double the entire recipe (that means quadruple the spices) to have enough to freeze/give away next time I make it.  And there will definitely be a next time!