Day 213: It’s a Spooky Soup Kind of Day

Day 213 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought with it another rainy and cool day to the mountains of Colorado. Over the past week, most days have been similar to today which is rather unusual in the land of 300 sunny days per year. Most everyone is complaining about the rain for one reason or another. I, however, love it! Perhaps my love of gloom and Halloween says something about me as a human being??? Regardless, I used the day to create a lovely rich soup with purple cauliflower. It is colorful, healthy, simple, delicious, vegan (of course), and absolutely perfect for your autumn gatherings. Enjoy!

Instructions
1- Microchop two large heads of purple cauliflower.
2- Toss the broccoli in a pan (or slow cooker as I did) with four cups of your favorite vegetable stock. I always have vegan stock on hand because I save my stems and scraps throughout the week, regularly simmering them down with herbs, garlic, white wine, water and spices.
3- Simmer until soft.
4- Pour the simmered cauliflower with broth into a blender, adding two tablespoons of olive oil and 1 cup of vegan half and half and blend until smooth and creamy.
5- Serve with freshly ground pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper.

Day 212: Coffee at Dawn

Day 211 of the Nowhere To Be Project completely escaped me. I guess I’ve been too focused on indulging in all the yummy offers during Vail’s restaurant week. With that, Day 212 began with an amazing sunrise in the mountains. As the colors illuminated the sky, I sipped my coffee and munched on my vegan scrambled eggs on sourdough. Mornings like this make the 6am wake up call from the dog a bit easier to swallow. Did you find beauty n your day today?

Coffee at Dawn!

Day 208: Seductive Silence

On day 208 of the Nowhere To Be Project I dined alone as I so often do. In my mind, there are very few dinner companions as alluring as a good book. As I sat in bliss, eating and reading, the conversations of those around me seeped into my awareness. Some were bantering on about recent events in what sounded like a catch-up chat. Others whispered with gossip-filled glee. One elderly woman was happily spewing word after word and sentence after sentence, so much so that I wondered how she was managing to squeeze in bites of her meal. She just sounded so thrilled to be in the presence of others. A conversation like that would have completely exhausted me today. I guess that’s another benefit of retirement, I no longer have to speak for my dinner.

As a professor, I lectured for a living. I had to be wordy, funny, engaging, energetic and affable. If I failed, my students failed by zoning out and missing key content. I was paid to be an extrovert. Over time, this was incredibly draining because my natural inclination is toward introversion. I would come home after a day of lecturing for eight hours and stare at the television, not really watching it, but needing its drone to unwind my brain. After today’s solo meal I stumbled over the most wondrous blue pumpkins. They were sort of hidden and I’d no doubt have missed them if I’d been with another, embroiled in conversation. Not to be hyperbolic, but these pumpkins were the most beautiful shade of grey-blue-lavender that I’ve ever seen! Their seductive color not only reminded me of the beauty of silence, but reinforced the value of solitude. There’s just so much to see in the world, so many blue pumpkins, and I’d hate to miss a thing.

Day 203: Eat It Raw (and Roasted)

My trophy kohlrabi

The past few days of the Nowhere To Be Project have been very food focused and day 203 continues the trend. Several days ago I talked about kohlrabi, a vegetable that I just learned about from Celia Brooks at an event for her latest book SUPERVEG Related Blog Post and Related Blog Post. I’m told the name translates as German cabbage. I asked for kohlrabi ideas from readers and literally EVERYONE said “eat it raw”! I’m not a huge salad eater, but gave the raw kohlrabi a chance by making Celia Brooks’ recipe for a mint and kohlrabi salad (page 74 in SUPERVEG).

Crisp and fresh…that’s how I’d describe this lovely little salad

Not only was the end result a beautifully colorful plate (almost too pretty to eat), but the combination of crisp mint leaves and crunchy and mild kohlrabi was so refreshing. I altered the recipe a bit by using dairy-fee plain yogurt and omitting the poppy seeds and honey from the dressing. I also added pea shoots for extra pizazz. This salad reminded me of spring and I would compare the taste of raw kohlrabi to that of jicama. I used just half of my kohlrabi on the salad and decided to try a bit of an experiment with the remainder of the elusive vegetable.

My two secret ingredients for unbelievable roasted kohlrabi

I cubed the second half of the Kohlrabi and tossed it in a few tablespoons of olive oil. I then spread the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet before generously sprinkling them with freshly ground salt and pepper. Next I grabbed my fakin’ bacon bits (Frontier Co-op Bac’ Uns) and favorite freeze dried garlic nuggets (Rinaldo’s Organic) and thoroughly coated the cubes. I popped them in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes to finish the job. I ended up with the most delicious outcome…crunchy flavorful crust on the outside and smooth mild flavor on the inside. Interestingly, the kohlrabi took on a completely different flavor when cooked…somewhere between fried zucchini and roasted potatoes. Will I go for a kohlrabi again if I happen upon one? Absolutely! I mean, who doesn’t love playing with their food?

These roasted kohlrabi cubes may look like apples, but they taste like a luscious mix between potatoes and fried zucchini

Day 202: Plays Well With Food

Unusually, day 202 of the Nowhere To Be Project was not a travel day. That, of course, means that it was all about food. When I’m not traveling (and eating), I’m cooking at home (and eating). Food is most definitely a passion and since becoming vegan nearly a year and a half ago, I’ve had to renegotiate recipes and favorite meals. I’m not a salad eater nor am I a preachy vegan because I believe that everyone is entitled to their own lifestyle, food included. However, I know that eating more vegetables is never a bad thing. I wasn’t raised on vegetables (unless they were canned, haha), so it has been a transition to say the least. All I can say is that I’ve never felt better in my life and I chose to “go vegan” primarily for health reasons. Guess what? It’s working! My most recent blood work reveals superior levels on every single measure. Furthermore, I have no vitamin deficiencies despite the lack of the animal products and (somewhat frustratingly) my weight has stayed about the same. People often ask me how a true foodie can possibly avoid animal products. Here’s a glimpse into a recent day…

BREAKFAST

Soy “eggs” scrambled with soft herbed nut cheese, root vegetable hash browns and avocado

LUNCH

Crepes stuffed with sautéed veggies and cashew mascarpone-at the Café at the Bookworm of Edwards

DINNER

Baked ravioli, stuffed asparagus and herbed toast

As you can see, no matter where I am I eat well. As a constant traveler, I’m forever trying new foods and hunting down vegan options wherever I go. I’m always happy to share my home recipes if you’re interested. Just reach out via email at nowheretobeproject@gmail.com, twitter or instagram.

Day 201: Soup Weather

Day 201 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought with it a chilly and rainy autumn day. For me a gloomy and chilly day just screams soup! I adore soup for so many reasons beyond the fact that it warms the soul! It is simple and inexpensive to make no matter where you are (RV, dorm room, etc.). It can be made out of almost anything and is so easy to pack full of nutrients. It is great for make ahead on-the-go and freezer meals, and it is usually very healthy. My soup adoration naturally kicks in gear at this time of year and remains strong until spring.

Today’s yummy soup was creamy broccoli and cheddar. I have struggled to create a satisfying vegan version of this classic soup for a while, but today’s outcome was a breakthrough. I used my slow cooker as I so often do with soups. It is literally set it and forget it cooking with a very gourmet outcome! My soup was bursting with healthy broccoli AND was rich, creamy and cheesy! The incredible flavor of the soup was balanced by a slightly toasted slice of fresh baked sourdough bread. I added a few fresh pea shoots as well for added crunch. Soup weather perfection!

Instructions
1- Drop four cups of broccoli florets into a slow cooker and cover with four cups of vegetable stock, cooking until the broccoli is very soft.
2- Use a potato masher to break up any large chunks of broccoli in the slow cooker before adding half a cup of vegan half and half and two ounces of your favorite vegan cheddar, whisking everything until blended.
3- Cover and simmer for ten additional minutes before serving.

TIP Once a week I use all my cast aside vegetable and herb stems, leaves, and stalks to create my own vegetable stock. I just drop them all in my slow cooker with a couple cups of fresh water, along with a splash of lemon juice, olive oil, white wine and salt and pepper, simmering for a few hours before draining off the broth when complete.

Day 200: Desperately Seeking Kohlrabi

My trophy kohlrabi

Day 200 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought me a mysterious gift…kohlrabi. I just learned about kohlrabi last week from chef and author Celia Brooks at her SUPERVEG book signing Related Blog Post. She raved about the merits of this elusive and mysterious vegetable so much that I became obsessed with getting my hands on one. I inquired at three different grocery stores without a sniff of luck. Most of those I queried were like me, completely kohlrabi illiterate. I had all but given up on ever sinking my teeth into one when just as with love, I happened upon it when I was least expecting it (during my usual Sunday visit to the Vail Farmer’s Market). The lovely ladies of Trout Creek Farm always bring the finest produce to the market and on this day the holy grail that is Kohlrabi was included in their harvest. I snatched one up for just $2 along with my usual bounty of sprouts and greens.

All that’s left now is for me to decide what to do with my prized kohlrabi. I could use it to create a salad with mint and poppy seeds as exemplified by Celia Brooks in SUPERVEG?!? Or maybe I should be more indulgent and make fries out of it?!? I’m going to give it a day or so to consider it. If you have any clever ways of preparing kohlrabi, I’m dying to hear them. Please connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or via email at nowheretobeproject@gmail.com. I’ll be sure to share the fate of my kohlrabi.

Day 199: Potluck Perfection!

Day 199 of the Nowhere To Be Project left me with a ton of farmer’s market vegetable finds. What to do? The air was a bit cool and crisp today in the mountains so I decided to roast them. I was beyond hungry too (as usual) which gave me the idea to add some tofu to the mix. I ended up with an amazingly rich and flavorful feast to celebrate the arrival of fall. This dish is just perfect for potlucks because it satisfies vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike, it presents beautifully on a platter and best of all can be served hot or cold.

Instructions
1- Gather, wash and trim the seasonal vegetables you have on hand. I used a halved artichoke, asparagus, whole mushrooms, Belgian endive leaves and garlic cloves. I steamed the artichokes and endive briefly in water in the microwave to give them a head start since they take a bit longer to cook.
2- Arrange the vegetables on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar before adding freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.
3- Toss cubed firm tofu (dried of all liquid by blotting with paper towels) in a small bowl with enough avocado oil to coat lightly and soy sauce to taste. Now add a bit of cornstarch to the bowl and toss gently before placing on a separate foil lined baking sheet.
4- Place both baking sheets in a 400 degree preheated oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until browned and crispy. For even more flavor, sprinkle the veggies with grated vegan parmesan cheese for the last five minutes of roasting. I also add fresh chopped herbs before serving for added zing.

Day 197: Superveg

Author Celia Brooks with her latest book, Superveg!

On day 197 of the Nowhere To Be Project I had the pleasure of attending a book event with Celia Brooks, the author of Superveg (among many other titles). My favorite local book store, the Bookworm in Edwards, Colorado, hosted the fun veggie-centric evening to highlight Celia’s latest book. Superveg is so much more than a cookbook. It is a testimony of the author’s self-professed passion for vegetables.

The lovely Superveg spread at The Bookworm!
The Skinny B Smoothie was so fresh and sweet!

Superveg presents the 25 vegetables Celia has selected as “super” based on their nutritional makeup and general utility. It just so happens that stunning photography and delicious and uber-nutricious recipes are included in this lovely anthology. Celia Brooks simply brims with exuberance, which makes her love letter to vegetables all the more appealing. The author is a vegetarian, but many of her Superveg recipes are vegan. Never fear though fellow vegans…she includes vegan substitutions for those that are not! I absolutely cannot wait to try everything!

A delicious micro-broccoli salad with lemon and mint made by the one and only Celia Brooks!

Day 195: Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Day 195 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent at the lovely Strawberry Park Hot Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This wonderful year-round treat is nestled within the mountains and costs just $15 per person to enjoy for a full day’s access (cash or check only). The ornate property has a rustic spa feel with a natural stone tri-level spring fed pool. The pool is surrounded by ample lounging space and there are massages available on site as well. The Strawberry Park Hot Springs complex offers changing rooms, rest rooms and even tiny houses for rent!

It was breathtaking to feel the hot spring (very, very hot directly at the source) water on my skin as I gazed up at the ever-changing color of the rustling aspen leaves. This experience left me feeling refreshed and renewed and I can only imagine how that would be amplified after a long day of skiing. Be sure to treat yourself to a natural hot spring sometime if you haven’t already. You will not be sorry!