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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

A new year

At the beginning of 2011 I made the following food and blog-related resolutions. Let’s see how I did, shall we?

  • Cook from my cookbooks.¬†I did try some new Jamie Oliver recipes this year, but in general a lot of my recipes still came from the internet, not books.
  • Eat dinner at the table at least twice a week. Total fail. We att at the kitchen table when we had company, but other than that we sat and ate together at the table very rarely.
  • Try eating vegan for at least 5 days and raw vegan for at least 3 days. I kind of fulfilled this one. You can read my adventures in raw eating starting here, although I didn’t go full raw because I didn’t need added stress in my life. I never did the 5 days vegan, even though I think that one would be easier. Not sure why I never got around to it!
  • Visit at least six new (to us) restaurants/bars/cafes in Tallinn. Success! We actually visited a ton of new places this year and found some new favorites. I’m really happy we broke out of our restaurant rut!

But now… what to do this year? Here are a few food- and blog-related goals that come to mind right now; I may add more later.

  • Try eating vegan for at least 5 days. I didn’t do it last year but I’d still like to try!
  • Prepare something for our wedding reception in September. I’ve mentioned this goal to J and he said I shouldn’t do it. Perhaps in the week before our wedding when I’m tearing my hair out I’ll agree with him, but right now I feel that I’d like to prepare something like cookies to add to the dessert table or share as favors. I love cooking and baking for people so much that it just feels right to have something homemade to share with our guests.
  • Write blog posts in Estonian and in Finnish. This ties into my overall goal to spend more time working on both languages.

I honestly can’t think of anything else right now! I usually have an idea of what kind of new cooking or baking project I’d like to attempt, but I haven’t had any inspiration recently. Any suggestions? And are you tackling any kitchen goals this year?

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This year

After ringing in the new year last Friday — attending a party full of friends and going out at midnight to pop champagne in front of the Estonia Opera House, where Estonia’s official 2011 kick-off celebration was taking place — we took the rest of the week easy. No jumping into exercise routines or making extreme changes, just a lot of hanging out on the couch watching old episodes of “House”, which was fine by me.

The time around Christmas and New Year’s is so hectic and exhausting that I’m unable to be introspective about the past year, but now that the craziness is over I’ve been able to reflect on 2010 and formulate some goals for the next year. Last year’s (food and blog) goals were to make a custom header (did that!!) and cook from my cookbooks at least once a week. The latter didn’t happen, but I think it was unrealistic. I did still try a lot of new recipes, both from books and from the internet, and I will try to focus more on my cookbooks this year (I have two beautiful Jamie Oliver books now!). These are the food-related goals I came up with for this year:

  • Cook from my cookbooks.

  • Eat dinner at the table at least twice a week. I know this is terrible, but J and I often eat dinner in front of our respective computers, or while watching TV. Our kitchen table becomes a gathering place for clutter. No more! We should keep the table cleared and actually use it for eating.
  • Try eating vegan for at least 5 days and raw vegan for at least 3 days. I don’t intend to adopt either of these diets permanently, but I’m interesting in the challenge of coming up with a menu and also want to see how they make me feel. There are some cool raw recipes I’ve always been curious about, so this will motivate me to try them.
  • Visit at least six new (to us) restaurants/bars/cafes in Tallinn. J and I don’t go out too often, and when we do we tend to stick to places that have cheap beer or certain favorites of ours on the menu. There are plenty of interesting places in this city, and we need to branch out!

This isn’t a topic I usually address on my blog but I wanted to mention it briefly: this is the first year in memory that I haven’t made a weight-related resolution (you know, to lose the proverbial “last five pounds”). I lost a bit of weight this year (thank you, half marathon training) and I don’t know if it’s age, metabolism, lifestyle or all of the above, but I’ve stayed in a place that I’m comfortable with and it’s really refreshing.

Here’s to another year of baking, running, experimenting and exploring! :-)

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In my post about how I wanted to sample as many delicious chocolate chip cookies on vacation as possible, I also said I’d blog about them “in a timely manner”. Haha… does a month and a half after returning from vacation count as “timely”?

I must admit I didn’t do the most fantastic job with the tour. Most of the time we didn’t have the time or energy to go out of our way for bakeries, so I sampled cookies where they were convenient for people on the road, places like convenience stores and rest stops. Not very foodie-like, I know, but now I can give some recommendations as to where a road-tripper in America should go for a chocolate chip cookie fix.

Brioche Doree: This was a coffee place with baked goods at a rest stop in Pennsylvania. The selection of treats was pretty diverse and they all looked wonderful, but their cookie was not the best. The texture was pretty great– soft and just past the point of doughy– but the flavor was just vanilla and sweetness, and there were too few chips. (For some reason I don’t have a picture of this one– I think I was driving and forgot to take one).

Wawa: Wawa is a convenience store chain on the east coast. I love, love, love going there for a freshly made sub, but their cookie was sub-par. Although most it was also crumbly, which made it hard to eat, and the flavor was boring. I didn’t even finish it.

AmPm: As we were leaving the baseball game we attended in Columbus, Ohio, somebody was standing outside the stadium handing out coupons for a free cookie from AmPm. I was excited, even after my friend said, “AmPm is a gas station, you know.” I did, but when it comes to free cookies, I don’t discriminate. The next morning I went and redeemed my coupon, and you know what? The cookie was actually really good.

The texture was dense and soft with just a little bit of crunch from the sugar. The cookie itself had a nice toasty flavor that balanced the sweetness and the huge chocolate chunks were rich and delicious. Sure, it was a gas station cookie, but I liked it.

For my birthday Siret baked me a batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies. I failed to photograph them but I did freeze half the batch so they’d stay fresh and I could take them back to Estonia with me. They had an interesting texture– dense and sandy– and tasted buttery although there was no butter in them. She gave me the recipe for those cookies as well as an entire book (The Baker’s Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies) filled with delicious variations on the traditional chocolate chip cookie. So while I may not have tried all the best cookies America has to offer, at least I returned with plenty of inspirations for making more amazing cookies of my own.

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