Day 1 in Ithaca (Wednesday)

I should have posted this last night, but there was so much to do and so many people to see that I didn’t get a chance to upload pics and write an entry until just now.

Yesterday we went to ABC Cafe for lunch. This is an organic vegetarian cafe that uses local ingredients. They’re very accommodating to vegans as well, and many of their dishes are vegan to begin with.

We started off with a huge bowl of fire-roasted gazpacho. I make it a point to get the gazpacho any time it’s on the menu (at any restaurant) because it’s one of my favorite soups and I like to try all the different variations. This one did not disappoint! The fire-roasted tomatoes added kick to this soup and we finished the entire thing. There were also onions, cucumbers, and scallions, and a horde of spices that I can’t identify.

For my entree I got the “Viet Spring Salad”, which consisted of rice noodles served on a bed of lettuce with marinated tofu, sweet and sour carrots, peanuts, purple cabbage, cucumber, and scallions. It came with ginger-tamari dressing. I’d never actually gotten this dish before, but it was delicious. The tofu was firm and flavorful, the carrots were refreshing and tender, and the peanuts really topped it off.

Bobby got the classic ABC burger served in a pita with sprouts, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and greens, with lemon tahini dressing. ABC makes their own burgers and they are fantastic. He also got a side of French fries. We agreed that the burger was perfect, but the fries were a tad too oily. He’ll go with a side salad next time.

For dinner we went to Four Seasons (Korean), my (formerly) favorite restaurant. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it. Bobby says the quality has definitely diminished. We started off with the typical Korean side dishes, and they were very mediocre, to be nice. In fact, they were downright dismal. The kimchee wasn’t fresh, the sprouts were dull and tasted old, and they were stingy with giving seconds (not that we really wanted them). They no longer serve their signature rice tea, which was very disappointing.

For dinner I got cold Bi Bim Bap, a veggie dish of sliced sprouts, carrots, spinach, and zucchini, topped with a fried egg. It comes with rice on the side. I didn’t care for the rice, but the veggies were decent. I took out the egg yolk, added the red chili sauce (my favorite part of Korean cuisine), and mixed everything together:

Bobby got Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap (the hot version of what I got), which was similarly decent. It does come in a cool stone pot, which makes for a pleasing presentation.

Overall, not the best dining experience. I was disappointed, because this used to be my favorite place to eat! The management has changed, and the new people are not doing a very good job. Yes, the service is better (it used to be awful and slow), but the food has suffered a lot. I think I prefer crappy service and great food to decent service and poor food.

We finished the night with a medium cup of Tasti-Delite at Collegetown Candy and Nuts. It certainly made up for dinner! We got a swirl of chocolate chip cookie dough and coffee, then topped it with granola. Absolutely fabulous. I like the lightness and airiness of Tasti Delite – you get the taste of ice cream without the heavy feeling in your stomach.

So overall, a good food day. Later on I also enjoyed a fresh orange with nutella 🙂

Menu Plan Monday

Last week was okay, menu-wise. The cauliflower turned out well, so I’ll post that recipe soon. The Asian greens were terrible. They were quickly composted. The baked oatmeal was quite yummy. I also had papaya salad on Thursday for lunch, so that was a nice treat.

Menu for week of May 19 – May 25

This week I’m leaving for Ithaca on Tuesday, so my menu planning will be a little bit off. I’m probably going to be eating out for nearly every meal, so instead of planning out my menu I’m going to list some of my favorite restaurants that I want to go to one last time. We also want to have a BBQ one day, so that should be fun.

Tomorrow night I’ll be having leftover Bi Bim Bap from tonight that I got at a new Korean BBQ restaurant on Castro Street. I also had a banana walnut sorbetto at a local gelateria. I had one yesterday, too. Yes, I splurged. But it was soooo worth it.

Favorite Restaurants:

Four Seasons (Korean, I always get Bi Bim Bap)
Vietnamese Restaurant (I get the shredded cabbage salad with tofu)
Plum Tree (Japanese, I get the Sukiyaki)
Mate Factor Cafe (all around good food. everything is sustainable and their meat is all free-range and organic. too many amazing dishes to list, but here are some of my favorites: belgian waffle with whipped cream, freshly baked muffins, peanut butter banana and honey sandwich, garden salad with house dressing & freshly baked bread.)

their belgian waffle:

their salmon bagel sandwich (Bobby’s fave):

Sticky Rice (Thai and Laotian food, we’ll probably get papaya salad and Pad See Ew)
ABC Cafe (vegetarian, I have no idea what I’ll get because they have everything from breakfast food to veggie burgers to fantastically delicious desserts. I’ll keep you posted.)
Aladdin’s (Mediterranean, I’ll probably get their Roman Salad with apples and goat cheese)

And for dessert:

Collegetown Candy and Nuts, for Tasti-Delite
Pacific Cafe, for a cookie sundae with strawberry ice cream
Purity Ice Cream, for (you guessed it) unique flavors of local ice cream

I will also hit up the Ithaca Farmers’ Market for some fresh oatmeal and other goodies.

Head over to Organizing Junkie for more menu plans!

I can’t believe this is the last time I’ll be in Ithaca until… who knows when. It will be good to see everyone but at the same time, a bit sad. When I left back in December I knew I would see everyone again at graduation, but now I have no idea when and if I will ever see some of these people again.

My brother and his girlfriend are coming up on Saturday night so that they can see Bobby’s graduation on Sunday morning. Then we’re all going to P’s for a party after the ceremony, and on Monday Rob, his GF, Bobby, and I are all heading back to Jersey. Bobby’s and my flight leaves Philly Tuesday night. Then we’ll be in California for good. Wow.

Rob really wants to take his GF to Mate. It is so good. If you’re every in Ithaca, try it out. It’s not vegetarian, but all of their food is organic and all of their meat is free-range. They are the kindest people and it’s just a great atmosphere. All of their food is locally grown and everything is made in the cafe, including the breads and baked goods.

Couscous Cake Results

I got second place in the Couscous Cake Contest! Go check out the other winners for some great ideas.

These were my three entries:

Asian Pear and Date Couscous Cake (2nd Place),
Strawberry Coconut Couscous Cake (featured for the picture), and
Strawberry Lychee Couscous Cake (no prize, but it was my first entry!).

I had so much fun with this contest and I want to thank Robin from VeganPlanet for hosting it. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: go make couscous cake!

Okay, this is actually my last post about couscous cake. I just wanted to give you guys the results 🙂

Baked Oatmeal

After reading about so many people making baked oatmeal, I thought I should try it. I have oatmeal for nearly every breakfast, and there are so many different ways to prepare it. I want to try as many different options as I can. This recipe is inspired by Kath, but I’ve made a lot of changes and I’ve also veganized it.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup soymilk
1/2 cup applesauce
other sweetener – sugar, honey, etc… (optional)
1 banana, sliced
brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mix together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and sweetener, if using. Add the water, soymilk, and applesauce. Mix well.
3. Spray two 8-inch round baking tins with nonstick cooking spray, or line them with parchment paper. Pour half of the oats mixture into each. Top with sliced bananas.

4. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. If you want to add some sweetness, sprinkle some brown sugar on top of the oatmeal and turn it to broil for the last 5 minutes.
5. Eat! These are great with peanut butter, margarine, syrup, agave nectar, soy yogurt, or fresh fruit. You can cut them up and freeze them for a quick breakfast.

Nutrition info – for 4 servings: 208 calories, 5 grams fiber, 7.5 grams protein
Nutrition info – for 6 servings: 138 calories, 3.3 grams fiber, 5 grams protein

Drizzled with raw honey (this stuff is amazing, got it @ Safeway):

Strawberry Coconut Couscous Cake

I do have one more version of couscous cake that I want to share with you all. Couscous cake is possibly one of the simplest desserts to throw together, and it tastes great. I’ve really started to love couscous over the past few days.

This time I used coconut milk and strawberries. The cake was the simplest yet, because I added the strawberries along with the couscous, so I didn’t have to add fruit after I pressed the couscous into the pan.

Strawberry Coconut Couscous Cake

Ingredients (serves 2)
3/4 cup strawberries, sliced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk
2/3 + 1/4 cup water (If you have a big measuring cup, just pour in the coconut milk first and then add water up to 1 1/4 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
2/3 cup couscous

1. Slice the strawberries, add the brown sugar and mix it around, then let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
2. Bring the coconut milk and water to a boil; add the (optional) sugar, couscous, and sliced strawberries. Continue to cook over high heat for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes.
3. Press the couscous mixture into an oiled/cooking-sprayed pan and refrigerate for 30+ minutes.
4. Enjoy with more fresh strawberries or other fruits, yogurt, whipped cream… The list goes on!