Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year’s Eve Festivities

Friday was another day of shopping and eating out for us. We got a slower start to the day because we only had a few things we wanted to get done before meeting Aimee and Michael (who we affectionately refer to as “the kids” because we are old enough to be their parents *sigh*) for dinner at 7pm.  It was nice to take our time getting moving since neither of us our morning people.

Since we haven’t had grapefruit in a while we decided that a broiled grapefruit with cinnamon and a little stevia was in order this morning. If you are taking any medications don’t forget to double check that you can have grapefruit since it is a problem with many meds.

Next Dan had his favorite green smoothie that contained: frozen banana, kale, walnuts, cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground flaxseeds, a little stevia and water to process.

I was more in the mood for savory oatmeal and made something very similar to yesterday. My plain oatmeal, which I cooked with water, cumin and garlic, was topped with: fresh baby spinach, black bean chili, ground flaxseeds, nutritional yeast, parsley and fresh tomatoes.

After Dan watched a little of the “Doctor Who” marathon we had to stop at the tea shop (Baltimore Coffee and Tea) because an unnamed little white puff ball decided he wanted to break into one of Aimee and Michael’s presents with his teeth. *rolls eyes* It is such a good thing that we love that little brat. ;-)

Since we were near Tuesday morning in Cockeysville I wanted to stop in to see what they had that might be interesting. As I have mentioned before I like to buy a few new Christmas ornaments each year. I found the most adorable little glass purse ornaments and at $1.99 each I had to buy them.

For some reason the roads were packed yesterday as were the stores. Apparently everyone was off from work and decided to go out shopping. We decided to head for home to grab a healthy lunch and then go to the Asian market before dinner since it was located on the same side of town as Great Sage.

Lunch was a microwaved sweet potato topped with: leftover black bean chili, artichokes, grape tomatoes, parsley, nutritional yeast and raw pumpkins seeds.

I made this because I wanted something filling but reasonably low in calories since I knew dinner would be more calories and fat than we normally eat.

Next we headed to the Asian market (H-Mart) where I found some great stuff. I am shocked by the number of organic items you can buy at the Asian market at excellent prices. We picked up an organic bean mix, an organic whole grain mix, organic soy sauce with three ingredients, dried shitake mushrooms in huge bags, organic soybeans (3 pounds for $3.99 … so much cheaper than the health food store), fermented black bean paste, hot pepper paste, bean thread noodles, Durian extract (who knows what I will do with that, LOL), and other things that I have now forgotten. After the market it was time to head to the restaurant.

The last three years we have been gone out to dinner with our friends Aimee and Michael for New Year’s Eve (NYE) and this year was no exception. Aimee and Michael are very busy during the year with college and working which means we only really get a chance to see them socially during breaks from school. We wouldn’t want Aimee to ruin her 4.0 GPA now would we? ;-) Michael is busy now studying for the MCATs and maintaining his nearly perfect GPA. These two are the most amazing 20 something’s we know. Both of them are brilliant, kind, nice and attractive if you can imagine. We have another friend that described Aimee as so perfect you want to hate her but you can’t because she is too nice. That comment made me laugh but I can see where it came from. ;-)

Aimee and Michael are both adventurous when it comes to food. Even though neither of them had had vegan food before they were both very willing to try it. I think they were both very pleasantly surprised by how good it was. I am hoping that since they are both interested in health (she wants to be a pharmacist and he a doctor) that they will be eating more healthy vegan meals as time goes on.

For an appetizer I ordered the “almost raw Vietnamese spring rolls” which included: raw carrot, cabbage, scallion, sesame, peppers, cashews, cilantro and herbs wrapped in rice paper which was served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce and a peanut sauce. I had one of these and Dan had the other one. It was a nice light appetizer but with plenty of flavor from the peanut sauce. I also liked the texture of the crunchy cashews inside the rolls. We would both order this item again.

For Dan’s appetizer he got the “chipotle and black bean soup”. The heat was mild and the flavor was good. The only change we would make would be to have some chunky bits in the soup. I achieve that at home by pureeing half the soup which leaves some whole beans in the final soup but still results in a thick consistency.

My dinner entrée was “risotto with butternut squash and mushrooms” (that appeared to be shitake), topped with pea shoots and walnut parmesan (very light if any nutritional yeast in the nut parm) with a spicy stripe of sauce on the plate. I ate about 2/3 of this and gave the rest too Dan since it was very filling.

Dan ordered the “Seitan Wellington” for dinner. His plate contained smashed potatoes, wilted spinach and a phyllo wrapped seitan and mushroom duxelle with mushroom gravy. This is Dan’s favorite dish at Great Sage so he “had” to order it for NYE. I had a bite and it is a nice dish with lots of yummy mushroom flavor.

Since it was a special evening we actually ordered dessert after dinner. You are shocked I know, I think I was a little shocked too actually. Dan wanted the “chocolate lava cake” which was very nice. Yes of course I had a bite I had to suffer for you or I coudn't say how it was right? LOL  ;-)

I ordered the “apple strudel” which I enjoyed. It wasn’t too sweet and the apples were still a little firm. The only change I might have made was to add a few cranberries but otherwise it was perfect. I ate about 1/3 of this and Dan finished off the rest of it. Are you seeing a theme here? LOL, I have absolutely no idea how Dan eats so much and stays trim.

Overall we all enjoyed dinner and thought it was very nice.  I was happy that Aimee and Michael had a very positive first encounter with vegan food.

Happy thoughts:

We had another great day and have plenty to be thankful for like always. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• We had a lovely evening with Aimee and Michael. Dan and I both think the world of both of them. They are the without a doubt the children we wished we had and we are thankful to have them in our lives.

• Our trip to the Asian market was very productive. We came out with four grocery bags of mostly organic food for $80. If you haven’t checked out an Asian market near you I highly recommend you check it out. Indian markets can also be great resources if you have one nearby.

• Like always Dan and I had a nice day together even when we were stuck in traffic and shopping. It is so nice to be married to my best friend and I try to never take that for granted.

• Lunch and dinner on Saturday turned out very well. I made a pecan dirty rice that both Dan and I enjoyed and he isn’t the biggest fan of rice in general. I will get that posted for you tomorrow along with the black eyed pea caviar.

Signing out:

It is getting late so it is time for me to relax and watch a little movie with Dan. Our 2011 has started off well and I hope the same is happening at your house. Talk to again tomorrow when I hope to have time to catch up on my blog reading. I am very behind in the blog world at the moment after spending two of the last three days running around. Enjoy the remainder of your evening.


  1. Happy New Year, Ali! First of all, I'm AMAZED that you and Dan indulged in those desserts--and I'm proud of you, too. ;) And yeah, it makes me feel better about my own indulgences when you indulge, LOL.

    LOVE the idea of broiled grapefruit. Can't wait to try it!


  2. Happy New Year Alicia,Dan and kitties!

    durian fruit extract? open that outside!!!lol

    wow you had some good restaurant food!!

  3. What a special, special meal to ring in 2011.

  4. Wow broiled grapefruit? Never tried that!

    I love my trips to Asian food stores. Durian huh? Let me know what you do with that! I bought some agar-agar last time I went and haven't used it yet.

    Those spring rolls look so good! Those are one of my favorite things and I could eat them every day!

    I have a naughty kitty like yours too. But what can you do but love them right?

  5. Happy New Year! I love the purse ornament (I'm obsessed with bags and shoes...what fun ornaments they would make, hadn't occurred to me!)

    Don't you love Asian markets? We visited out local Japanese market on New Year's Eve to pick up a few things for sushi -- and I always grab something new. This time Yuzu pepper sauce and a ginger-miso concentrate (for soup.)

    You dinner looked amazing. Those nearly raw rolls were particularly gorgeous.

  6. LJ,

    I was amazed we indulged in dessert too actually, LOL. Dan said he didn't want to the kids to miss out on dessert. Do you believe that? Nah, me either, LOL.

    Broiled grapefruit is one of my favorites. In my less healthy days I used to spread a little layer of butter over the top and then cinnamon sugar on that. I am sure you can do the same thing with Earth Balance.


  7. Michelle,

    Happy New Year to you too! I hope the new year has started off well at your house.

    I picked up the durian fruit extract because it was there. I have no idea what it will taste (or smell) like but I wanted to try it. Thanks for the smell warning but I had heard that too. If it is very pungent I will let you know. LOL

    Thanks dinner was nice. We went to the only upscale vegan restaurant that is within an hour of our house. We need more of them clearly. ;-)


  8. Jackie,

    It was a nice way to end 2010. I was more thrilled that the kids enjoyed it. I think they may be eating more vegan food now that this experience went so well. *fingers crossed*

    I hope your new year started off well too,

  9. Carissa,

    Broiled grapefruit is very nice if you are a grapefruit fan. I have been making this since I was a teenager. I think I found it in a diet book when I was in high school and have loved it ever since.

    I will share what I think of the Durian extract and what I do with it. I love agar, sounds like some homemade cheeze is in your future. That is what I usually do with agar.

    Spring rolls are always good I agree with you. I could eat them everyday too. They are like salad you eat with your hands. LOL

    All my kitties are bad *LOL* but Binky (aka Nicco) is the most bad. That little fuzzy is always getting into things. *shakes head* However we adore him badness and all.

    I hope you had a nice NYE,

  10. JL,

    Thanks I loved that purse ornament too. I was able to find two the purple one and a green one. If there were more I would have grabbed them. I have a bit of a shoe and purse obsession myself. ;-) Nice to know it isn't just me.

    Asian markets are the best. I love to go there and just wander around and read labels (the ones in English that is). The sauce does sound very interesting. I hope you enjoy it. If you do I may have to look for something like it at our market.

    The spring rolls were my favorite item from dinner. I guess my tastes have changed and I prefer food that is less processed now. However for dessert the apple strudel was very nice and not too sweet which I liked.

    I hope your new year has started off well,

  11. I haven't had spring rolls in ages. Those look great and that apple dessert....yummy. Sounds like you guys had a great NYE! I hope your 2011 is starting off on a great note.

  12. Heather,

    I said the same thing about spring rolls when I saw them on the menu. Now I am craving them and may make them for our dinner tonight. The addition of chopped cashews inside was a great touch. ;-)

    The apple dessert was much better than I expected. I am not a fan of overly sweet items (which Dan loves) so the light sweetness was perfect for me.

    I hope 2011 has started off well for you too!

  13. Ali,
    I love grapefruit, but I"ve never thought to broil it. This will definitely be something I will try this week.
    Thanks, dear.

  14. Aimee,

    Broiling grapefruit is one of those old school ideas but it is good. I forgot about it until a few days ago. I hope you like it as much as we do.


  15. Wow all your food looked delicious! I am quite surprised you ate dessert, but it is only once a year! Love love love the tiny purse find!
    Hugs, B~

  16. I have an H-Mart near me. I love that place.

    Your NYE dinner looks superb! If I am ever in the area I will have to visit Great Sage. Sounds like it was an excellent restaurant choice for "the kids" as first time vegan diners! That would be awesome if your influence rubbed off on them a bit and in turn influenced their professional lives. You never know! ;)

    Have a nice evening relaxing with Dan! Looking forward to hearing more about your black-eyed pea dish and the dirty rice.

  17. Brandi,

    I was shocked we had dessert too, LOL. But Dan and "the kids" wanted dessert so I joined in. Like you say it is only once a year.

    I love the purse ornament. It is so me, LOL. ;-)


  18. Sarah,

    We love H-Mart too, I only wish it were a bit closer. But 30 minutes isn't too far since they have everything.

    I think you would like Great Sage. It is about 45 minutes south of where we live or we would go more often. It isn't all healthy vegan but it is all vegan which is nice. Thankfully we have Ian close by when I don't want to cook. He has been a lifesaver more than once. ;-)

    Michael and Aimee are both interested in health but right now they are trying to survive and keep their GPAs high. Michael read "The China Study" and has borrowed other books from me. He will definitely be much further down the road than most MDs. We spent some time talking about how to make healthy food in the dorms and I think I gave them a few good ideas that are workable. *fingers crossed*


  19. A wonderful way to start off the new year--hooray for good friends and good food in 2011! And of course your readers appreciate your willingness to "go the extra mile" to taste those unappetizing desserts for us! ;)

  20. This food looks fantastic and I am in love with the blue purse. Great blog! Following you now. Follow me back.
    hugs from New York,
    Ask Erena


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