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 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 194: Yampa River Botanic Park

Day 194 of the Nowhere To Be Project led me to the beautiful Yampa River Botanic Park. This public alpine garden is situated at 6800 feet in the Colorado town of Steamboat Springs. The stunning natural resource is run entirely by volunteers on a mountainside parcel of donated land. The rambling garden is divided into “neighborhoods”, each named after the factors that make it unique (e.g. rainbow, wind, reflecting, sundial, etc.). The remarkable reflection pond reminded me of Claude Monet’s in Giverny, France and the Fairy Garden was an absolute delight! However, my favorite part of the garden was the medicinal section where trees, plants and herbs useful in natural healing are featured.

Entry to the Yampa River Botanic Garden is free, but donations are encouraged as it operates solely on the generosity of the community and visitors. I easily spent over an hour at the garden before a strong thunderstorm came through and sent me on my way. Do not miss this quiet and unassuming treasure in the northern Colorado mountains! yampariverbotanicpark.org

Day 193: Review of Lazy Acres RV Park and Bear Trap Cafe, Riverside, Wyoming

On day 193 of the Nowhere To Be Project we checked out of Lazy Acres RV Park in Riverside, Wyoming after spending one sleepy night here. Riverside is a tiny town adjacent to Encampment. The RV park is actually situated on the Encampment River. The owner of the park, Leroy, could be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and he clearly takes pride in his tiny enclave of rustic campsites. The pet friendly park offers reasonably priced full hook up RV spots (about $40 per night) and cabins for rent. Clean shower houses are there for the taking and just across the road is the Bear Trap Café.

He’s making friends with the locals, too!

The Bear Trap carries on the rustic cowboy theme that we experienced at Lazy Acres. As the only dining option for miles, it is filled with local ranchers. I imagine that the popular bar is the seat of the social scene in this part of Wyoming. The food and service at the café are what one would expect in an out of the way corner of the west…lots of meat and fried potatoes! My husband sure enjoyed his huge rib eye with tater tots! Thankfully, they offered a good salad to satisfy me (probably the only vegan for one hundred miles, haha).

The Bear Trap Café

Both Lazy Acres RV Park and Bear Trap Café warrant a visit if you’re seeking an authentic Wyoming vibe!

Just a local cowboy doing his thing!

Day 190: Review of Vail’s Tavern on the Square (a sort of vegan dining option)

I dined at Tavern on the Square on Day 190 of the Nowhere To Be Project. The Tavern is a casual yet upscale dining option in Vail. It is attached to The Arrabelle, a luxury hotel owned by Vail Resorts (Rock Resorts) located in the Lionshead corridor. The prices are a bit inflated in keeping with the local norms. I was alerted to the fact that they offer a full vegan menu by the “Vanilla Bean” app and decided to give it a go for dinner.

We dined outside on the patio with a lovely glass of Malbec and a breathtaking view of the mountain which was alight with stunning fall colors. After we were seated, I asked the server for the vegan menu. He apologetically confessed that it has been scaled down significantly for the off season. He went on to list a few salads, a hummus appetizer, the Impossible Burger, and sorbet as the obvious vegan options. I chose the Impossible Burger with a side salad.

I’ve eaten many Impossible Burgers and they are always enjoyable. This one, although extremely dry, was tasty. The bread to meat ratio was really off though, with way too much bread. My husband had a cheeseburger which came with the same huge bun. The difference being that his burger had about four times the amount of meat that my Impossible Burger did, making the bun a much better fit for his meal. A vegan cheese option and/or a vegan “special sauce” would definitely add some flavor to the Impossible Burger and might help to reduce the dryness.

The service was very attentive and the million dollar view was well worth the trip. I’ll more than likely visit Tavern on the Square again, if for no other reason than to lay eyes on their elusive “vegan menu”.

Day 187: Oktoberfest – Part One

Day 187 of the Nowhere To Be Project had us chanting “Prost” in the middle of Lionshead Village in Vail. This celebration was part one of Vail’s double duty Oktoberfest festivities. The Vail Village celebration is scheduled to take place next weekend. Three days of costume contests, stein holding competitions, bratwurst eating contests and live music gave Vail a very Bavarian feel. Add to that thousands of people (and dogs) downing German food and beer in the crisp almost-fall air and you’ve got yourself a street party. Can’t wait to do it again next weekend!

If you decide to visit Vail for Oktoberfest, be sure to stop at the ID and Token tent first. Once you’ve exchanged dollar for dollar in tokens, plan on spending about $7 per beer and $4-10 per dish to imbibe. Parking and all Oktoberfest-related entertainment is free.

Vegan German Potato Salad!

Day 186: $100,000 Cars, Everybody’s Got ‘Em

On Day 186 of the Nowhere To Be Project my husband and I attended the Wheels and Wings Festival in Eagle, Colorado. The festival was threefold: part car show, part air show and part live auction. It was held beside the runway at the regional Eagle Airport. My dad was a dragster turned car dealer, so I’ve been around cars (especially fast ones) all my life. And as the mom of an aerospace engineer, I’ve had my fair share of airplanes as well. With that history behind me, I would give the Wheels and Wings Festival a big thumbs up.

There were so many beautiful old cars, many of which won ribbons in the show. The variety of airplanes was not as rich, but the obvious effort toward aviation education was appreciated. I especially loved watching the local Civil Air Patrol commandeer their first flight as it reminded me of when my son’s chapter did the very same thing. The auction was very entertaining as well with many of the classic cars creating bidding wars among the spectators. I had my eye on a beautiful old Corvette, but the $100,000 price tag put it way out of my reach. The food trucks (one with vegan options) added the finishing touch on an already perfect afternoon.

Day 184: Review of The Stanley Hotel

I checked out of the Stanley Hotel on day 184 of the Nowhere To Be Project. I spent one night at the Lodge, a dog-friendly inn adjacent to the historic Stanley. The Stanley Hotel was built by F.O. Stanley in 1909 as the first all electric hotel in the U.S. and the lodge was constructed just a year later as a lodging option for unmarried gentleman. The well-manicured grounds of the property hover above the small town of Estes Park, Colorado (review of town to come tomorrow) and offer vast mountain views.

The foyer at the Lodge

The craftsmanship and beauty of the Stanley is undeniable. There are some areas where her age is showing. For example, some of the guest room doors are so warped that gaps of at least three inches create a peep show for passersby. In my opinion, these flaws add to the character of the place. Even though the hotel and its surrounding buildings and landscape are spectacular, the service and overall lodging experience are not.

The first floor at the Stanley
A missing number plaque, torn wallpaper and warped doors reveal the property’s age

Check in at the lodge was profoundly slow. I arrived during the lodge’s wine hour which meant that the sole employee was filling glasses, dealing with guest issues and trying to check me in all at once. Our dining experience in the Stanley’s only restaurant, The Cascades, was the same song and dance…slow, inattentive and frustrating. The food wasn’t anything to rave about either despite the inflated prices, although I will give them a major shoutout for offering a vegan meal (Cauliflower Steak). We enjoyed a nightcap in the whiskey bar where the negligence of the staff continued.

The foyer at the Stanley
The second floor landing at the Stanley
The Whiskey Bar at the Stanley

Our room (#1209 in the lodge) was on the second floor and was rather large by hotel room standards. The furnishings and decor were in not necessarily in keeping with the hotel’s history, and the bathroom was a glaring mishmash of various decades. The accommodations could be notched up a bit with higher quality linens and a fresher approach to window coverings (dark drapes currently loom). Ventilation was an issue in the room as well with inoperative windows (of course, no air conditioning in the historic hotel.

Pet-friendly room 1209 at the Lodge

Overall, our stay at the Stanley was enjoyable simply because of the history and lore of the place. Other than that, it was a bit of a letdown. We certainly did not feel that it was worth the $330 dollar price tag for lodging and $200 for dinner. I would recommend visiting the hotel with a $10 guest pass (and possibly joining one of their history tours), but lodging and dining elsewhere.