Monday, April 25, 2011

Delicious Dinners #1

tempeh, potato salad and power slaw

Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh, Potato Salad for the Mayo-Phobic and Power Slaw

I know I have been slacking on posting recipes lately. I'm not living on take-out; I've been cooking more then ever. I've just been doing the kind of improvised-dash-of-this-handful-of-that cooking that doesn't translate well to recipes. However, this past Saturday I made the perfect summertime meal that is a snap to put together and full of cool salads that perfectly compliment the rich, spicy protein.

from The Veganomicon

This shit is so delicious. I make it at least once a month. Works beautifully on tempeh, but if you want to use it on tofu, skip the boiling part and drop your rinsed, pressed tofu directly into the marinade.

8 ounce package of tempeh
1/2 cup wine (I used to make it with white wine or dry vermouth but one day I used a cheap house red and HOLY SMOKES. Use red wine!)
1/4 cup hot sauce (I recommend Franks Red Hot or something similar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil.

Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices.

Cut the tempeh (they recommend cutting it into 4 large triangles; I prefer to cut it width-wise into 20 or so thin "slices". It's your call.). When the water is boiling, add the tempeh, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the tempeh and then immediately place them in the marinade bowl for 1 hour, flipping them every now again to cover with the marinade.

Preheat the oven broiler. Place tempeh in a rimmed pan (I like to use my cast iron pan for such purposes). Spoon some of the marinade over it and broil for 5 minutes. Flip it and spoon some more marinade over it and cook for another 5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let cook for 30 more seconds.


Like any good country mouse, I love mayonnaise. Matt is a pure-bred city slicker and just seeing the white stuff makes him queasy. This potato salad came from the urge to create something traditional tasting but with a minimum of mayo. I don't mean to brag, but I think I nailed it.

I didn't record measurements but I wanted to give you the gist of it (and everybody likes to personalize their potato salad anyways.) Start with this and add or subtract until you have the almost mayo-free potato salad of your dreams.

5 medium potatoes
1/2 cup unflavored full-fat yogurt
1.5 Tbs mayo
yellow mustard
dill (fresh or dried)
apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated onion
1/2 cup - 1 cup chopped celery

Peel, chop and boil the potatoes until they are just soft enough to eat. Throw them in a colander and rinse them with cool water. Meanwhile, mix the yogurt and mayo until they are a homogenous white goo. Add in a good spoonful of yellow mustard, a dash of apple cider vinegar and dill (fresh or dried). Finish off with some salt and pepper until it tastes about right. Add in the cooled potatoes, grated onion and celery. Mix, chill and eat by the bowlful.


A very rad lady named Emma posted this recipe on a certain PGH-based message board, and it is KILLER. The measurements aren't exact, so throw away your measuring spoons and just taste, taste, taste until you achieve power slaw nirvana. Emma says it makes her feel like she just snorted vitamins(!!!) and I agree.

1/2 head red cabbage
3 carrots
2 tart apples
2-3 Tbs olive oil
3-4 Tbs lemon juice
an inch or so of fresh ginger, grated with a microplane
salt and pepper

With a hand or mechanical shredder grate and combine the cabbage, carrots and apples. In a separate bowl combine the rest of the ingredients to make the dressing. Taste and tweak until it gets your taste buds humming. Pour the dressing over the veggies and mix well. Pop it in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors meld. Eat a big pile of it and wish every cabbage salad tasted this good.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

We Got Haircuts!

Once upon a time there were two fuzzballs that lived in Tennessee. It was warm, it was humid and the two fuzzballs were full of knots and frizz and couldn't take it anymore.

two fuzzballs

So the two went off and got two little haircuts, and are so much cooler and happier.

JV with her new haircut

my new bedheady short hair

The End

Friday, April 15, 2011

the yard that keeps on giving

Eddie Althouse’s backyard after planting

Discovered in the yard today:

two rose bushes with magenta buds

unexpected pea plants

and four tomato cages engulfed by vines.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is not a dream. We are transmitting from the N, O, A, A...

When I began my job I inherited my office's dusty little weather radio. My first course of action? Dust it off and crank it to 11!

I am one of those weirdos who loves storms and hail and tornadoes (as long as I have access to a basement.) Living in Nashville has been a real boon for me. Not only have I experienced an exceptionally severe and uncommon flood, but I have also survived several severe thunderstorms and a handful of tornadoes.I've hunkered down in the basement with a radio and the cat while a funnel cloud passed above, and let me tell you, it was thrilling!

Now that I am keeper of the weather radio, I get to hear all the latest government bulletins straight from its eerie mechanical mouth. But one thing has been sticking in the back of my mind. While it's very helpful to know exactly how many miles away a funnel cloud has been spotted, why does the voice have to sound like the dream transmission from Prince of Darkness?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recent Achievements in the Field of Living in Nashville

In the past few weeks I have hit some personal milestones:

I became an official Nashville Zoo docent (with official safari vest uniform.)
Docent Vest

Which was celebrated with a special party. Pictured below is the cake featuring our beloved baby giraffe.
Docent Cake

I saw a live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion at the Ryman Auditorium, which was an overwhelmingly good time. The musical guest was Emmylou Harris, and it was amazing to watch the program in the very building that inspired it.
Prairie Home Campanion, at the Ryman Auditorium

I cooked up some exotic local produce, including yellow-eyed peas (a Southern cousin to black eyed peas.) Served these little rascals with turnip greens and hot sauce.
Yellow-Eyed Peas

I found the beginnings of a bird nest, blown into my yard by a fit of tornado weather last Monday.
bird's nest

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Phantom Gardener

Remember how I said I had been waylaid by spring? Well, Tennessee decided to skip right to summer and all hope of productivity has been lost.

Today has been bright, breezy and north of 90 degrees. Shortly after breakfast I decided I could not bear to stay inside and do dishes, so I ran out the door determined to weed the yard of the thistles and nettles that began popping up with the warm weather.

The lawnmower that our landlords graciously share with us is being repaired, so we haven't mowed yet this season and the lawn is an ocean of strange weeds and wildflowers. There are the sweet, small violets and gangly dandelions I grew up with. However, there are also new visitors, genteel plants that seem to be the work of a phantom gardener.


I cleared away a mass of leggy green weeds to reveal a few clusters of Chinese Peonies, small buds already circled by ants.

Chinese Peony

These popped up seemingly overnight. What are they and which past tenant thoughtfully planted them?

Purple Flowers

Look what sprouted up between the daffodils: spearmint! Lots of it!


I followed a few stray runners to find a adorable patch of wild strawberries. I wonder if I can beat the birds to them when they ripen?

Wild Strawberries

Last but not least, I have been pulling up handfuls of wild garlic, trying to enjoy our windfall harvest before the lawnmower begins chugging again.

Wild Garlic

There are still 5 more days until the official frost date, but I can't imagine a more hospitable environment then the one in my backyard this sunny afternoon.