Day 216: Snap, Crackle and Pop Fried Avocado

A few weeks back, I blogged about a fried avocado burger that I had just eaten. At that moment, I became obsessed with cracking the code for delicious fried avocado. After several trials, day 216 of the Nowhere To Be Project was the day where it all came together. The struggle was in keeping the avocado smooth on the inside and light and crispy on the outside. The solution came in the form of Rice Krispies cereal! Yes! Rice Krispies are the secret ingredient for luscious fried avocado! What I ended up with took my love for avocado to a whole new level. The finished product is vegan (of course), and can be enjoyed in so many ways and in countless dishes. If you’re looking for an amazing new way to prepare avocado, look no further.

Ingredients
1 cup crushed rice krispies
1/4 cup cornstarch
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
2 Haas avocados, peeled and sliced into spears
1/2 cup vegan half and half blended with the juice of half a lemon
Avocado oil

Preparation Instructions
1- Preheat half an inch of avocado oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat.
2- Stir dry ingredients together in a shallow bowl.

Snap, Crackle and Pop Dry Mixture

3- Gently dip each spear of avocado in the lemon half and half mixture before rolling them in the dry mixture, being sure to coat all sides of the avocado.
4- Deposit the breaded avocado into the hot oil using a slotted spoon.
These are ready to be flipped!

5- Use the slotted spoon to turn the avocado spears evenly in the oil as they cook.
6- Cook until golden.
7- Drain the fried avocado spears on a paper towel for a minute or two before serving.

Optional Dipping Sauce
Mix four parts Veganaise with one part chili sauce.

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 210: Sipping Sangria

Day 210 of the Nowhere To Be Project was spent lazily sipping sangria at Blue Moose Pizzeria in the Lionshead corridor of Vail. While the sangria was effervescent, fruity and refreshing, the best part was the price, $2.18. This was just one more wonderful promotion for Vail’s restaurant week. There are still several days left to enjoy affordable food in Vail and that’s not something we can say very often! Cheers!

Day 209: Can’t Every Week Be Restaurant Week in Vail?

Every year at this time, something wonderful happens in Vail. It is called restaurant week! Most restaurants in town slash prices or offer specials specific to the year. This year $20.18 is the magic number!

My first round of restaurant week took place on day 209 of the Nowhere To Be Project at Sweet Basil. Sweet Basil is a staple in town and is widely known as Vail’s best fine dining restaurant. I have been to Sweet Basil many times over the years, but my daughter had yet to try it. Restaurant week inspired Sweet Basil to create a special three course meal for $20.18 and my daughter and I gave it a go for lunch. There were two choices for the first two courses, but the dessert course was a given. The appetizer course presented a choice between a caesar salad with egg or roasted cauliflower soup. The entree course consisted of either a pork sandwich with fries or a mixed green salad with roasted chicken. Finally, the dessert coarse was a trio of banana and citrus sorbet.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

My daughter chose the cauliflower soup and the pork sandwich. Since the only strictly vegan option on the special menu was the sorbet, I decided to go with an off menu salad instead. I did sneak a few fries and some sorbet from my daughter though, both of which were outstanding. The roasted cauliflower soup was my daughter’s favorite part of the meal. It certainly had a lovely presentation and aroma. To me, the pork sandwich looked like old fashioned Shake and Bake pork chops. According to my daughter, the bread was the best part of that sandwich. Personally, I would have been thrilled to see vegan choices included among the restaurant week specials and was shocked that there weren’t even vegetarian options on offer. Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed a lovely creekside lunch for under fifty dollars in Vail. That could only happen during Vail’s restaurant week!

My Daughter’s Choice: Pork Sandwich with Fries
The Sorbet!

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 206: For the Love of… Avocado

It should come as no surprise that the avocado has become more popular than ever. It is everywhere and many have a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ attitude toward the fruit (yes, it is a fruit). Over the the past few weeks, I have been seeing a new avocado option, deep fried avocado, pop up on countless restaurant menus. I’ve tried it in the deep fried state on its own as an appetizer, in tacos, and on toast. Today, day 206 of the Nowhere To Be Project, brought me to the delicacy that is a fried avocado burger! It was so good that I’ve begun test trials of frying avocado at home. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, but in the meantime be sure seek out any and all sources of fried avocado and try them at once.

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 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.