After a few years off, I found myself visiting the ‘ol home state not once but twice in late 2012. I’d been perusing those tempting fare alert emails, talking snow withdrawal with J. Legume, and the next thing I knew, we had our hands on some promotional airfare and another stay in what we like to consider our ‘Brooklyn timeshare’, which is really the futon I bought for my sister years before. It’s what growing up is all about…really being aware of how awful futons are.
This second stay in Brooklyn, my second ‘hiatus’, because really, it’s not a vacation when you’re on this type of interesting budget – was for just over two weeks and saw us on a flight home on Christmas day itself. A factor that I really thought, for all my holiday grumbles, would include a bit more magic in the air and a lot less Southwest annoyance than it did. But as for that hiatus, I was really looking forward to cooking with and for my sister some more. I found myself going through cookbooks, making lists, planning my budget and getting to the nitty gritty decision of just which two or three books I’d pack with me. Don’t worry, I made sure to get my taste of falafel, pizza, bagels, Dunwell’s and a bit more here and there (which I do have some plans to document some more, I’ve simply been having computer woes) including a delicious visit to the vegan pop-up at Pinebox, but we made a rule to cook real meals whenever we could. For one, it was usually cost effective, provided leftovers, and for another, it was so much fun to cook for my overworked little sister. And come on, what vegan with a penchant for cooking doesn’t want to impress their omnivorous family?
This time around, we packed two bags of soy curls, bought my sister, Jen, a rice cooker and smothered more than one meal in butternut queso (which both my siblings are now fans of), a new tradition at the Bushwick abode she shares with her boyfriend and two cats. Instead of grumbling at the prices of Candle 79 (and Cafe!), Blossom and the like, we made our own fancypants creations. Reigning supreme? Well, tacos. Smokey soy curl tacos on blue corn tortillas from tortilla factory around the corner, to be exact.
For our first dinner, after a day of exhausting flights, we walked to Champs and collapsed in a booth over sandwiches. On our second day in town, we stocked up on groceries in Chinatown and the Union Square Greenmarket (which you really, really need to pick through in the winter), and cooked up some baked tofu and roasted vegetables with a hot bean & garlic sauce over rice for dinner together. Brown saucin’
More vegan cooking in Bushwick, in order of appearance:
In the colder months, baking tofu and roasting vegetables take the place of colorful stir fries.
When my sister makes a quadruple batch of her Italian foccacia, no surface is safe.
…a quarter of which became this pizza, our first run with the new Trader Joe’s mozzarella besides some cheezy garlic bread with the hottest rendition of my Smoky Tomato Bisque yet. And really, I wouldn’t eat this stuff out the bag and used it sparingly, thought it added a bit of creaminess to our pie.
Let me repeat the vegan cheese mantra: Less is More.
Chocolate chip cookies made with coconut oil
Fresh tangerine & ginger-infused whiskey cocktails topped with Sparkling Lemon soda from Eataly
Bringing the Portland bowl-life to Brooklyn with butternut queso, mashed avocado, slow-cooked black beans, taco tvp, newly pickled jalapeño peppers and red quinoa
Stovetop popcorn….the only way I know anymore.
Playing upscale vegan bistro: Herbed tofu, chickpea & yu choi piccata, caulipots, crispy shallots, fresh lemon and sliced baguette
We could be considered adults, after all.
Smokey soy curls: Changing lives, perfecting bowls.
Smokey soy curl tacos with black beans, collards, butternut queso, mashed avocado and hot Brooklyn salsa.
I’ve been making my way though Artisan Vegan Cheese the past few months, and to say the least, it’s been fascinating. Expect a more in-depth post about my ongoing endeavors one of these days.
Our final project in my sister’s kitchen was sugar cookies. With an evening of packing ahead of me, I left it to Jen, J. Legume and Aslan to do the decorating of our bats, dachshunds, sea horses, rabbits and friends.
Artwork by J. Legume:
Design by Aslan:
Everything about this says ‘late night group project’.
My sister designed this rhino, who she explained tragically passed away after a life in the circus. She gets me.
Sasspie the narwhal consistently decides on the best bubbly…
Our final meal, Heartichoke’s Northern Thai green curry sauce over baked, roasted vegetables and rice.
One of my favorite dishes of 2012, for sure.
Monkey sums up our trip.
I’m always one of those people with a dozen New York bagels in my carry on, okay?
To see what we made on my first Brooklyn hiatus, check it.