J and I go to the library at least once a week. It is my main source of great vegan cookbooks, after all! It's really tough to find parking on Sundays, probably due to the fact that all meter parking is free. It isn't unheard of to drive around for ten or fifteen minutes before we find a spot, and J isn't the most patient driver in the world.
So this Sunday, I came up with a plan. We would get to the library at 11:30, half an hour before it opens, and go have lunch across the street at Schenley Plaza, which in addition to an extremely green field and old-fashioned carousel, has a few food kiosks and a nice tented space with little tables and chairs. One of the kiosks is run by The Milky Way, a restaurant in Squirrel Hill that is both kosher and has vegetarian/vegan options.
I ordered the veggie burger, partly because it was advertised as being their most famous item.
This had a surprisingly meat-like texture. I had J take a bite to verify that it wasn't actually a meat product. The patty was a little dry (a problem I eradicated with lots of ketchup), but otherwise very tasty. I will definitely have this again if I have a craving for a hamburger.
Once at home, I made a batch of Quick Corn Relish from The Joy of Pickling . I've become a bit obsessed with the idea of pickling, preserving, and canning after reading Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally. When I was a teenager I helped my mother cook and can a few things over the years -- salsa, and once a surprisingly sublime dandelion jelly. It was fun, and frankly kinda thrilling to open the cupboard and see rows and rows of bottled goodness that we had made ourselves.
I also like the idea of knowing exactly where my food comes from. Unlike the brand name jar of salsa in the grocery store, we picked our own tomatoes and jalapenos. There was no long list of unpronounceable and questionable ingredients. Tomato, jalapenos, onions, vinegar, salt. That was it.
So I have a lot of elaborate plans involving pickling and preserving, but decided to start with an easy, quick-pickling project. The recipe called for raw sweet corn kernels, sweet or mildly hot peppers, an onion, a variety of spicing, and apple cider vinegar.
Here it is, in a recycled Mrs. Renfro's jar. It will be pickled in two days, can't wait! Oh, and yes, that is a Shrek toy posed next to the jar. This is J's artistic input. He got (momentarily) very excited about having Shrek in the picture. And no, I'm not secretly hitting the McDonald's drive-thru in the middle of the night (or at any other time, for that matter). The Shrek toy was a gift from my mother-in-law.
I used to think toys included with fast food meals was a great idea. Sometimes I would specifically buy a Happy Meal to get a movie franchise toy from McDonald's. Now: not so great. At least not for the kids ordering and eating the food in order to get the toy. My generation, and every generation after mine, was brought up on fast food and convenience food like frozen dinners and sugary boxes of cereal. Is it a concidence that heart disease and type two diabetes is inflicting a large percentage of the population? I don't think so.
I haven't had a fast food meal since January, and I'm so thankful J and I don't eat at those places anymore. It was too salty, too sugary, and too processed, and frankly, we can do a lot better at home. We enjoy and thrive on our home-cooked meals. I can't exactly say that about the fast food hamburgers and fries we used to eat two or three times a week.
And speaking of the relationship between health and diet, here is the website for Forks over Knives, a documentary coming out this fall. Looks really good, and I like the catchy yet thought-provoking title.