Friday, July 30, 2010

Dinner Out 29 July 2010 and Fun Facts Friday

Last night we had dinner out with friends. My buddy Phil was in town from Missouri so we “had to” go out to eat. Troy and Alexandra also joined us. Of course Ian made dinner, but you probably guessed that by now. ;-) Since the five of us eat differently it always makes sense to go out to eat so that those that want meat don’t have to eat vegan food with Dan and me. Going out just seems to work better for everyone. Luckily Phil was in town on a night Aimee was working. We all love seeing Aimee and will be getting together with her soon for a little outlet shopping before she heads back to college. As you probably guessed the restaurant is a bit like Cheers for us. We are very fortunate to have such a great place right in the neighborhood.

Fortunately Ian was back from his trip to South America. We always enjoy spending a little time with Ian. I always stop in the kitchen when I arrive before it gets busy to say hello and get a hug. Poor Ian, I know we are so difficult for him to cook for us these days. He now has me tell him what I want and then he makes it happen. I think our style of eating is so foreign to Ian he has trouble thinking of things to make for us that he considers “good enough”. Being a classically trained chef and relying on things like demi glace and beurre blanc I can imagine how hard it is for him to think outside the box. I understand since it wasn’t easy for me to cook for us at the beginning either. ;-) We are very fortunate that he is willing to make whatever I can dream up.

I decide what we are eating by looking at the menu and specials and then combine ingredients I know are in the kitchen based on those menus. Last night for our entrée we had a whole wheat pizza with red onion marmalade topped with roasted veggies (eggplant, onions, roasted red pepper, carrots, portobello, sweet potato and artichokes) and topped with pine nuts. Alexandra was shocked that we were having “flour”. She is the most familiar with how we eat. However when we go out it is tough to avoid flour products unless we are willing to just have salad for dinner. While Dan and I don’t mind that it seems to make other people uneasy. Having whole wheat pizza makes it easier to “fit in”. Also since we don’t eat flour often we think it is fine to have occasionally.

We also ordered a salad with orange, avocado, cucumber, mesclun and red onion topped with a little black olive vinaigrette.

For the table we ordered the Middle Eastern plate with hummus, caponata, pickled peppers, house-made pickles, and olives.

The entire evening was full of conversation. There were one or two conversations going on all evening. Alexandra brought her laptop and shared pictures from Peru. Being the foodie that she is there were plenty of pictures of food which I loved seeing and hearing about. On a side note Alex has not had eaten any meat or dairy in two weeks, until last night. Additionally her fiancé Andrew is eating more mushrooms and much less meat. We were very happy to hear about their progress. Yay Alex and Andrew keep up the great work!

Overall it was wonderful evening and just what I needed. Spending a pleasant evening with friends is always great for my mood. We are planning to get together for dinner with Alex when she gets back from Alabama as well as outlet shopping with Aimee when she comes back from Florida. I think having close young friends helps to keep us young, if only at heart. ;-)

Fun Facts Friday:

Since today is Friday and that means I have errands to run I wanted to get the fun facts into this post just to be certain I don’t run out of time later.

1. When you are having a meal with people that aren’t vegan how do you tend to handle it? As you make have guessed we go out to eat. We have trying having people over but it seems to work better in general to go out to eat. Luckily we have Ian and everyone can get what they want. How do you handle these situations?

2. Would you ever feel comfortable foraging for food? When I picked the purslane yesterday it was literally the first time I have foraged for food and it wasn’t planned. I don’t think I would have done it had I not been so familiar with purslane having purchased it from the farmers’ market for the last few years. The idea of foraging for mushrooms scares me, though our chef friend Ian does it for his family. I don’t feel comfortable with doing that. I guess I don’t feel like I know enough about mushrooms. Would you ever feel comfortable foraging for wild food?

3. Are you friends like you or are they different? This question came about after dinner last night. I realized how different everyone was at the table last night. Alex is in her 20’s, Troy his 30’s, me in my 40’s, Dan his 50’s and Phil his 60’s. Additionally our education and work backgrounds and not very similar. Troy and Dan work together in lending and Phil is a consulting architect. Alex has a background in polymer and fiber engineering. My background is in hospital finance. Somehow we all manage to find plenty to talk about and there was not one quiet moment all evening. Are you friends all of similar ages and backgrounds or are they more like ours?

Okay your turn. I can’t wait to read your answers.

Unrelated note:

Today is Friday so that means I have my normal errands to run. I will be back later after I check on my folks and run to the grocery store. Talk to you all again soon.


  1. Hi Ali.

    I understand that you feel that you and Dan are hard to cook for, but really, what a wonderful treat to have a chef friend who is willing to experiment for you!

    As for your questions...
    1. We go out to eat OR, more likely, I am recruited to cook for my friends, LOL.
    2. Probably not, but I am curious after reading the last section of The Omnivore's Dilemma.
    3. Just like you, I've got a wide range of friends. The ages, the backgrounds, but my circle of friends locally, we all came together because of our love of yoga, so I guess that's the glue.

    I know that I owe you an email, but this week was nuts...I promise it's coming.


  2. LJ,

    We are very lucky to have Ian. He is a treasure.

    I wish my friends were more open to healthy vegan food. I think I lost most of my willing "test subjects" when I gave up cooking with oil and flour. ;-)

    Foraging isn't anything I ever thought I would do either so I understand completely. I had forgotten about that chapter. Thanks for reminding me, it was a good one.

    That makes a lot of sense that you all have a common interest in yoga and it brings you together. Our friends don't seem to have that. Makes we wonder what is the glue for us. Hmmmmm. ;-)

    My week has been nuts as well. I completely understand. No need to feel rushed. I hope you are busy in a good way.


  3. Of course it is fine to have whole wheat flour every once in a while, lol! That pizza looks fabulous!

    I usually cook for non-vegans and vegans alike. I love showing people that healthy vegan food can be satisfying and delicious :-)

    I would love to forage for food, but as of right now, I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it just because I feel I lack the knowledge needed to know what is safe to eat. I would want to do quite a bit of research and learning before attempting anything like that.

    I have friends that are both similar to me and ones that are completely different--we clearly bonded over something, and that seems to be enough, lol. They are all ages and all unique, which I find keeps things interesting.


  4. Courtney,

    Both Dan and I used to be grain addicts. That is why we save the pizza or bread for when we are out. If I make homemade bread or pizza we eat way TOO MUCH. No self control here, LOL. ;-)

    I wish everyone were as open to healthy food as your friends. Before I gave up the oil people were more likely to go with the flow, but now it is easier to go out. =(

    Honestly beyond purslane and possibly dandelion I don't have the skill to forage either. I think it is an interesting concept and marvel at Ian being able to confidently forage for mushrooms for his family. This girl is not confident enough in her mushroom knowledge to try that.

    My friends sound much like yours. They have come from many different situations and times in my life. It is interesting and fun how that happens. You are right that is what makes spending time with them so great.

    talk to you later,

  5. That pizza looks delicious - even if you're compromising eating flour, how nice to have those delicious roasted vegetables on top!

    Being vegan sometimes is a point of curiosity for my friends, but once we start talking they are typically surprised at how much more varied my diet is than theirs! Sometimes it's tough, though, to make do in a restaurant with limited choices.

    I would be too timid to forage; I have just begun gardening and that's enough of an adventure for now. If I grew up doing it, though, I might be more comfortable. Right now I have no knowledge of what is edible.

  6. Jessica,

    Ian always makes great pizza. We were happy when he added the whole wheat dough option. That seems a little less unhealthy. ;-)

    I absolutely agree with you on how varied our diet is. I rarely make the same exact dish in a given year. That is intentional to prove that vegan food isn't boring. Many of my omni friends read my blog. ;-)

    It is hard to eat in restaurants. We are very fortunate to have a chef that is willing make us special food whenever we come in. He makes life so much easier for us. We both just adore Ian.

    I am not the best gardener either. Purslane was a no brainer for me, but other than that I am a bit timid myself. I didn't grow up with it foraging either. My parents think food comes prepared, not fresh and raw. LOL



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