Monday, August 30, 2010

Chipotle Mexican Grill and Arm Wrestling

There are not many options for vegan fast food in Las Vegas.  While living there, I would switch between the Baja Fresh on Sunset and the Chipotle Mexican Grill across the street. I did this so often the people at Chipotle greeted me by name and gave me lots of free food.  When we moved to Portland I had had my good fill of those chains, so I took a hiatus.  But moving to SLC has reignited my inkling for Chipotle, not to mention the Sugarhouse location has one of the coolest refurbished buildings I've seen.

Here's an awesome interview with the founder of Chipotle about the sustainable nature of his business (cute pig cameos).

Last night, Chipotle also was the stage for my first wrestling match in SLC.  I'm a total dork for egging this on, but on the other hand it might be a super power of mine, as one friend pointed out.  I don't know if I can beat every female out there, but I've yet to loose even one fair match with a woman.  My crazy strength does not usually work on guys, but Lucas decided to give me a chance.  I'm pretty sure I met my match as we arm wrestled for about five minutes, neither side giving up, until we finally decided to call a truce.  My arm was tired and so was his.  Good times at Chipotle.

Laura started the match and Grace documented with the camera.

Kyle and Levi making bets...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LoveJoy Bakery Granola

Granola is kind of a big thing in Salt Lake City.  I can't tell you exactly why, but almost every new bakery or coffee shop I sample has their own homemade granola.  It's also a pretty big thing in our house, and I've got an extremely particular granola snob at home that I aim to woo with my vegan delicacies.  I was super stoked to come up with this delightful recipe with the inspiration from a fellow food blogger  It can also be made gluten free if you substitute the Barley Flakes with gluten free Oats and reduce the oil to 3 tablespoons.

LoveJoy Bakery Granola

2 cups Barely Flakes (looks like oatmeal)
1 cup Oat Flakes
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded Coconut
1/2 cup Hazelnuts (optional: soak in water overnight first)
1/2 cup raw Cashews (optional: soak in water overnight first)
1/2 cup Hemp Seed Nuts
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground Cardamon (ground nutmeg can be substituted)
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup dried Cranberries

In a separate bowl mix:
1/4 cup coconut oil 
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp blackstrap Molasses
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

I added the dry to the wet ingredients in a bowl and mixed well.  Then I put them in my dehydrator btw 125-145 degrees for about 6-9 hours.  If you don't soak your nuts (soaking nuts releases an enzyme in them which our bodies don't digest...making the soaked nut far easier to digest) you will save time in the dehydrator.  If you don't have a dehydrator, you can bake them on parchment lined pans in your oven at the lowest setting for a couple hours.  With either dehydrating or baking you'll want to check on the granola while its cooking to see when its done to your liking!  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

CSA Utah Tour & The Whistle Stop

East Farms

My close friend in Portland was the first to teach me about CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture).  The vision is individuals choose to partner with their local farmer and in return receive a share of the harvest.  In the greater SLC area there are several CSAs to choose from, each providing something different.  Kyle and I checked out a large CSA gathering that was held earlier this year at Squatters Pub and got to taste the goods and hear from some of the farmers.  Last Monday, my friend Grace and I joined a group of about thirty community folk to tour three local CSA farms.  Going backwards we visited Zoe's Garden, where we saw huge artichoke plants and tasted the sweetest yellow cherry tomatoes; East Farms, where we toured the fields of gourds by tractor and got a quick lesson in siphon tube irrigation; and Bell Organic, where we started the morning off with fresh heirloom tomatoes, purple stripped long beans, and yellow and red carrots.  

Grace and Joy on the tractor

I was highly impressed by everything I saw and heard at Bell Organic.  The farmer David led the discussion and walked us through the life of their farm.  We learned how they started on only a half acre and now, over a decade later, are many more acres in and looking to provide food to upwards of 1000 Utah families within their CSA program.  They also helped pioneer Utah's first RSA (Restaurant Supported Agriculture) program for local chefs.  They are certified organic, welcome volunteers in exchange for produce, and seem invested in getting to know the families whom they serve.   We were introduced to David's youngest daughter, "bean girl", and wife Jill later in the tour.  I noticed on their website Jill writes a blog about the farm happenings and shares recipes they use.  Their program runs from June-October, so for 18 weeks the CSA members receive an assorted box of fresh produce and occasional flowers from the farm.  David told us that by the time you receive the produce it is has usually been picked in the previous 12 hours, and no more than 24 hours.  

At Bell Organic, a two person share is $450, about $12 a week per person for amazingly delicious local food.  They also have larger shares and sometimes offer mid-season shares.  Bell Organic partners with other local farmers to provide one easy stop for veggies, fruit, eggs, cheese, honey, and beef if you choose, and there are many convenient pick up locations around town.  

   Bell Organic

How cool is that artichoke plant?!

Before this whole day started we picked up some organic fair trade coffee at The Whistle Stop.  Excellent sustainable business if you're in Murray, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

St. Mark's Coffeehouse and Bakery in Denver, CO

"I started training and sleeping my way to the top" -  owner of St. Mark's Coffeehouse, on how his affair with coffee began.

On the recommendation of a dear friend, Kyle and I woke up early on Wednesday morning and headed just east of Downtown Denver, CO to St. Mark's Coffeehouse.  The neighborhood is full of charm with old beautiful homes and a walkway full of cafes, theaters, and coffeehouses.  The patio seating was almost full when we arrived and many dogs lay beneath their owners, catching some sleepy time sun.  The front of the building had an open windowed garage door, giving us an airy feeling even when inside.  We got in line next to a tempting array of homemade pastries, and Kyle eyed a crumbly soft raspberry scone.  Nothing was marked vegan so I almost chose to get the equally yummy looking blueberry scone, but decided to ask the cashier/barista if any of the items were vegan instead.  To our surprise, both of the French fruit tarts were vegan, made with a vegetable oil versus butter.  I chose the peach tart, a pastry I've never had the vegan version of before, along with a decaf americano black.  We picked a table in the back next to the windows, revealing a pink mini school bus outside.  St. Mark's rotates their art with different local artists, and today they were displaying a photographer and painter of native African portraits.  One of the tables along the wall had seats that looked like huge iron thrones, and the coffeehouse was full of people and laptops.

The peach tart was amazing, one of the the best things I had in Denver, and the coffee was quite good.  They also have a small lunch menu and serve a selection of brews in the evenings.  Their website is cute and creative and tells more about who they are and the different community things they support.

On the way out of town, we stopped at St. Mark's again, since it was so good the first time. We got our coffee and treats to-go, and realized a big bummer to their take-out.  Their coffee is served in Styrofoam cups, and that's whether you get hot or cold beverages.  The reasons why I try never to eat out of Stryofoam or support companies that use these products are numerous.  I believe Styrofoam is both harmful to our environment and bodies. There is lots of information available on the studied effects of using and producing Stryofoam that you can read more about here.

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