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 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.

Day 181: A Rose By Any Other Name???The Impossible Burger Controversy Flies at The Rose in Edwards, Colorado

On day 181 of the Nowhere To Be Project I lunched at The Rose in Edwards, Colorado. The Rose is located at 97 Main Street West (suite 102B) in Edwards, Colorado. This was my second visit to the quaint café, both being at lunchtime. On my first visit I sat outside on the small patio. This time I was inside which presented some unique challenges (keep reading).

The establishment’s website describes the restaurant as one that is focused on locally-sourced foods which is always a draw for me. The bigger draw though is the Impossible Burger, a plant-based delight created by Impossible Foods. As a vegan, I am always searching for plant-based options and have literally chased this burger across the country since I found out about it a few months back.

Before I get into specifics about The Rose, I should address the controversy over the Impossible Burger. Recently, the CEO of the company revealed that the product was tested on rats to receive FDA approval. Cruelty-free products are the goal for most vegans, myself included, so this has obviously ruffled some feathers. After considering his statement and the methods employed, I feel that the company had little choice in the matter in order to achieve the greater good of having a vegan meat product approved by the FDA (thus widely available for consumption). Animal testing was not something that the company approves of, ever wanted to do, or plans to do in the future. Sadly, without it the product would not have come to fruition. Now, back to The Rose…

The Rose appears very small from the outside, but opens to several rooms upon entering. I would describe the decor as “industrial tea room”. There are comfy couches and tiny two-tops. There is also a bar and a pool table, so the social vibe of the space likely changes depending on the time of day. My guest and I were seated at a small table and instantly noticed many, many flies occupying the space. They were in the air, on the furnishings and buzzing in our faces. I asked to open a door to the outside and was permitted to do so, but was told that it probably would not help because they had been having an ongoing issue with the flies! We were a bit grossed out and considered leaving, but decided to ride it out.

We began with hot tea (they have a nice selection of interesting loose leaf teas) and the fried pickle appetizer. The tempura-style pickles were amazingly delicious and the addition of the sriracha flavor was unique. After the pickles, both my guest and I enjoyed the Impossible Burger. It was topped with avocado and more pickle, and was served with a side salad. The bun was good, but would have been even better if toasted. While we loved our meal, the flies were certainly an issue that left us both wondering if we’d return. Hopefully, they can get the issue resolved because there is potential for charm at The Rose Restaurant & Bar in Edwards, Colorado.

Day 180: Fall Travel Plans??? Be Sure To Pack These Pumpkin Cakies with Brown Sugar Mascarpone

To put you in the fall mood…Pumpkin Cakies (a.k.a. cakey cookies:-) with Brown Sugar Mascarpone…HOMEMADE and VEGAN

For many, myself included, autumn is a season filled with festivals, travel and food! In preparation for my favorite time of the year, day 180 of the Nowhere To Be Project is dedicated to sharing the fall-inspired recipe I created yesterday. Vail’s amazing sweater weather paired with my first sighting of both pumpkins and fall color in the leaves had me craving a taste of autumn. I satisfied that urge with the following recipe. I hope you enjoy these delicious cakey cookies smothered in brown sugar mascarpone frosting!

Vegan Pumpkin Cakies

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup organic puréed pumpkin
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 vegan egg (I use Follow Your Heart Vegan Eggs)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions
1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3- Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl.
4- Stir wet ingredients together in a large bowl.
5- Use a hand mixer to blend all ingredients together in the large bowl until it resembles creamy peanut butter, adding just a half cup of the dry mixture to the wet at a time.
6- Spoon the batter on the lined baking sheet in golf ball sized drops.
7- Bake for about 15 minutes.
8- Let the cakies cool for about 15-30 minutes before frosting.

Brown Sugar Mascarpone Frosting

Ingredients
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons water, plus more for soaking
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4-8 cups powdered sugar (depending on how you’d like the texture of your frosting…less makes a glaze and more make it fluffy)

Place cashew mascarpone mixture in a plastic wrap lined ramekin. Cover and refrigerate.

Instructions
1- Place cashews and brown sugar in a bowl of water. Cover and soak overnight (ideally 12 hours).
2- Stir cashews before draining the water.
3- Place the cashews in a blender.
3- Add all other ingredients except for the powdered sugar and blend until smooth, scraping sides and adding very small amounts of water when needed.
4- Line a ramekin or small dish with plastic wrap.
5- Spoon cashew mixture into lined ramekin, cover and place in the refrigerator for 12 hours, flipping the sealed mascarpone once at the halfway mark.
6- Remove the mascarpone from the plastic wrap and dump into a large bowl.
7- Using a hand mixer, blend the cashew mixture with 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
8- Frost the cooled pumpkin cakies, sprinkling a dash of brown sugar on top of each for the finishing touch.

*Note: These can easily be converted to whoopee pies by sandwiching the mascarpone frosting between two cakies.