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 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 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 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.