Friday, January 9, 2015

Merit Vegetarian Restaurant- Sunnyvale, CA

I've told all of my children that when they were teenagers, I would take them on a special weekend trip, just the two of us, anywhere they wanted to go in California.  The exception being Disneyland: if I was able to afford Disneyland, I wanted to take all the children.  SR for the last couple of years has been mulling over Death Valley, but whenever she decided upon it, it was not the right season.  Apparently the temps are better in the Spring, and there are certain flowers that blossom during that time as well.  But something even better than Death Valley came up for her last June.  One of her favorite artists was performing a rare American tour, and one of her stops would be in Mountain View, a mere couple of hours from our home.  When I offered that to SR as her special weekend, she jumped at the chance.  So, off we went to the Emilie Autumn Asylum Experience.  Now, this music is not for everyone, not even me, but it wasn't about me.  It was about giving SR a special weekend. So, we left on Friday night, spent the night in a hotel, spent all day at the Experience, stayed over again, and had lunch the next day before returning home.  I researched restaurants before we left home and found Merit Vegetarian online.  It was open on Sundays, so I thought we'd give it a shot.  See my review below along with a a few shots of our trip.

 This is a funny shot of the hotel's room service menu.  If you look on the left side of the page, it lists appetizers and sides.  Then the right side of the page lists more appetizers and sides.  Notice how they are completely identical.  I wonder whom they are trying to fool?  

Okay, here's a pic of SR with others talking with someone who does daguerreotypes at the Experience.  Just so you know, SR has an unusual style in clothing.  She likes layers, gloves, employs a Goth influence along with some Victoria era influence, and adds her own unique touch.  I completely support her expressing herself with her attire.  Here, for once, she found others that dressed in a similar way.  She completely fit in and had made a few friends that will last a lifetime.  I'm the one that stood out with my baseball cap and camera and pants.  Oh, by the way, she's the one in the striped tights and dress.  Don't you see her?

Here she is locked up with other prisoners in one of several cages at the Experience.  You can see how utterly miserable everyone is.  Okay, okay, she's the one on the right with black hair, black dress and black and white striped tights.

 Here is Emilie Autumn and a couple of other permanent patients performing.

SR had a fabulous time, and that made it a great weekend for me too.  I love you, SR!

Here is Merit Vegetarian.  They are in a nondescript strip mall down a busy street.  Their info is: meritvegetarian.com, ph: 408-245-8988, 548 Lawrence Expressway. Sunnyvale, CA 94085.

SR and I started off with Drumsticks and a sweet sauce.  They were very good.

 Then we went for their Orange Nuggets.  Great glaze, very tasty.

SR had one of their freshly made Mango Smoothies.  She let me have a sip, and it was delicious.

I ordered their Noble Broccoli.  It was a beef and broccoli style dish.  Very good, I liked the sauce it came with, too.  Lots of broccoli, which is one of my favorite veggies.

SR ordered the Spicy Noodle Soup.  She didn't realize it had mushrooms, which she despises, but she worked around it, and liked it in the end.  It had a tangy taste to it and was good.

 We ended our meal - and our stay - with desserts.  SR ordered the Caramel Flan and completely loved it.  I tasted it, and it was light and sweet, very good.  But...

 I had a penchant for chocolate, so I ordered their Mocha Chocolate Cake.  The cake itself was a little too dense for me.  I like light cakes and cupcakes.  But, the frosting made up for it.  So light, so creamy, it was in a word, delightful.  

All in all, I highly recommend Merit Vegetarian. The prices were reasonable, and if you're a vegan, looking for an open place to eat on a Sunday, this one will definitely work.  If you're in Sunnyvale, look them up.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pasta with Chorizo and Sweet Potato Sauce

This was another recipe inspired from Deceptively Delicious, which I renamed, veganized, changed ingredients up, the usual.  Still, the idea behind the original recipe was good: pureeing sweet potatoes for the sauce to get the kiddos to each more veggies. This also has chopped up celery and carrots, as well, so it's nice and healthy. This came out tasty, and the fam liked it, so all is good.  I puree my veggies ahead of time, bag and freeze them, and then thaw them out for recipes.  So, my sweet potatoes were already boiled, peeled and pureed for this recipe. This makes a lot of sauce, plenty for leftovers. Give this one a go, and let me know how it works for you.


Pasta with Chorizo and Sweet Potato Sauce

Ingredients:

1 pound pasta (we used penne)
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 onions, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 carrots, chopped small
4 stalks celery, chopped small
2 - 10 oz. pkgs. soy chorizo
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
4 - 29 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz. can Del Monte petite cut tomatoes with chipotle chilies
1 - 32 oz. box Imagine No-Chicken Broth
1 Tbs. vegan sugar
2 cups prepared sweet potato puree (boiled first)

Directions:

Prepare pasta according to package directions midway through making the sauce.  For the sauce, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery, and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chorizo and salt and pepper, and cook for another five minutes.  Add the tomatoes, broth and sugar.  Lower heat to medium low and cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the sweet potato puree, and stir well.  Continue to cook until heated through, about ten minutes.  Serve over pasta.  This makes a bunch!  I froze about half the sauce for a later meal.  Feeds five hungry vegans and then some.  Very good.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs - 2014

In my quest to catch up on all the posts I missed last year, here is a particularly outdated one.  But, you were warned ahead of time.  Anyways, this one is too cute not post, as you'll see.

The kids and I took Mindy and Abby to a local 5th Annual Easter Egg Hunt for Dogs the Saturday before Easter in 2014.  I loved this because it was sponsored by WAGS hotel and had several animal friendly booths out there.  All the dogs were well behaved, and ours enjoyed the day as well.  Below, you'll see some of the shots I took that day.

Here is JK at the kids' crafts table watching how to make a bunny mask.

 Hey, where did JK go?  All I see is this very realistic bunny standing in front of me!

 There was a line for dog tattoos.  Mindy enjoyed her green bone on her rump.  Her outfit took up the rest of her body.

 When Abby saw the dog in front of her get sprayed, she almost bolted.  But, in the end, she was happy with her skull and crossbones.

This is the shot of all the dogs in line at one end of the field.  See how far the line stretches?  That's a lot of dogs!  In the background, you can see the booths.  The hunt is about to begin, and everyone is waiting for the go signal.

Here's my gang.  You can see the ferocity of our pooches as they scope out the best eggs to snatch.  JK calms his nerves with a stiff drink. SR is on the left with Abby, and GR is on the right with Mindy.

 The hunt is on!  Check out their style.  Eventually, the dogs would split up to better scour the field.

 Ta dah!  Here's Abby with her winnings.  Each dog was allowed to find a certain number of eggs, and Abby is so proud she counted correctly.



GR is helping Mindy open her eggs under JK's watchful eye.  Inside the eggs were dog biscuits and slips of paper for bigger prizes.

Guess who won a basket of treats?  Abby!  Mindy is looking on supportively.  Of course Abby shared with her sister.


We'll probably go again this year because we had such a good time.  I'll post that as well, if you enjoyed this one.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Pasta with Artichokes and Broccoli

This is a quick, easy and delicious dinner I made the other night.  G usually just gulps down what I make with nary a comment, unless he really doesn't like or really does like something.  This one earned a comment for the latter, so I knew it had to be blog-worthy.  The ingredients are few, and the simple seasonings brought out their wonderful tastes.  Hopefully, you'll enjoy it, too.  What is your favorite thing to toss in a pasta sauce?



Pasta with Artichokes and Broccoli

Ingredients:

1 pound of thin spaghetti
1 Tbs. of olive oil
2 cups of broccoli florets, coarsely chopped small
3 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced thin diagonally
2 - 14.5 oz cans of Del Monte diced tomatoes with rosemary and oregano
1 and 1/2 cups of marinated artichoke hearts, sliced in half lengthwise
1 Tbs. sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and carrots and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts and cook for another three minutes, until heated through.  Add the sesame oil and salt and pepper, stir and let simmer on medium low for five minutes.  Top pasta with sauce and enjoy.  Feeds five hungry vegans.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holiday Classics...Mostly - 2014

Hello, Everyone!  It is so good to be back on here.  I will not bore you all with what's been going on - it's been a lot, and I've been challenged in my personal life in more ways than I ever thought I would.  The challenges continue on, but it has been on my mind for so long to put up a post that I'm making a point now to do so.  This blog is a way for me to express myself with just the pleasures of my life, a bit of me that I get to share and to make friends in the process.  I will never abandon this blog without informing you first.  I don't know how many have or will stick around, but for those who are reading this, thank you.  I can't promise you timely posts in the new year, but it is my hope to be consistent.  I have posts that I still want to write from this year, so even though they will be out of date, I hope that I can still put them up.  Anyhoooowww, on with the food.

I am combining Thanksgiving and Christmas into one post, so this will have food galore.  I hope everyone's holidays have been good and that this new year brings you blessings.  I pray that 2015 brings peace and harmony into my life, as well.  And good eats!

Okay, I'm just going to show the pics, provide links, and tell you what we ate.  What did you guys eat this year for the holidays?

My Thanksgiving dinner plate.  The bowl is holding hot and sour soup, and on the plate clockwise is: roasted asparagus, soy chicken and tofu, tofurky and roasted veggies with gravy.  

Dessert: SR picked vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce, GR picked Black Tie Cheesecake, and JK picked chocolate chip cookies.  I'll get a recipe out for those cookies.

Christmas breakfast included: Breakfast Potato Skillet ...

 Tofu Scramble...


  and this year's Christmas cookies and Happy Birthday, Jesus Cake, which was a Costco apple pie.  The cookies are Gingerbread Bears, Tiger Stripes, and Pecan Pie Cookie Cups.  Recipes for the first two cookies will be forthcoming, if you are interested.

JK delivered our annual Christmas cookies to the firemen.


For Christmas dinner, I brought Tofu, Brussels Sprouts and Peanut Stir-fry to share and




A lot of my family provided vegan dishes for us this year.  On my plate clockwise is: fried cabbage, cold green bean salad, a Gardein roast with gravy that I bought for my family, my mom's rendition of Aunt Versey's baked beans (an annual offering), my stir-fry, fruit salad and olives.  This was the fullest plate we've ever had at a family gathering.

The fun carried through dessert.  My aunt made my grandma's recipe for boysenberry cobbler.  See the yellow triangle in the corner?  Read in the pic below what it says.

A vegan corner just for us.  The glaze had butter in it; other than that, the whole cobbler was vegan.

My dessert plate: the cupcakes I brought, my mom's pineapple dump cake and her fruitcake, and my aunt's/grandma's boysenberry cobbler.


It was an awesome food season.  I hope yours was just as tasty.  Hopefully, I'll put up a post by next week and start to catch up.  Until then, Happy New Year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Activism: Canned Lion Hunting

I am woefully behind on some of my posting, so here is one for the catching up list.  We had a very busy day this past March.  Down at the State Capitol, about a twenty minute drive for us, there were several activities going on.  SR, GR and I were with our homeschool group's teen group doing our version of The Amazing Race.  There were also two protests going on: one against fracking and the other against canned lion hunting.  GR and JK both had pre-planned to go to the lion one, but GR got caught up after the race, so just JK, G and I went to this protest.  Unfortunately, it was overshadowed by the thousands of people who showed up to protest against fracking, but we still managed to find the group.  Not that I was opposed to the anti-frackers - they just made it difficult to find the lion people.


What is canned lion hunting, you ask?  It takes place in South Africa, where people raise lions from cubs, feed them by hand, essentially taming them.  Then, when the lions are good and tame and unafraid of people, the handlers let high-paying "hunters" come in and shoot them in large pens, the "cans" if you will.  The day we went in March was an international day of protest, but I just checked their website, and there are ongoing events.  GR and JK made signs, which JK is holding by his side in the picture above.  Sacramento's small group of protesters marched around the capitol and tried to bring attention to this ghastly practice.  Check out the main website that talks about this at http://www.cannedlion.org/ .  Maybe you can be a voice next year along with ours.

On a side note, our family is going to try and amp up our level of activism.  We used to be much more active, and if I can find a photo of a protest that we did against Proctor and Gamble years ago, I'll make a post about that, as well.  It's so easy to become complacent in our lifestyle, especially when your whole family is either vegan or supportive of you.  But, there are too many animals suffering in so many ways, that complacency cannot be accepted anymore.  I, for one, want to raise the next generation of activists for the animals.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Green Salad with Golden Beets and Raw Pumpkin Seeds

This salad is perfect for a hot summer day.  I got the beets at the Farmer's Market, and they were deeeelicoius!



Green Salad with Golden Beets and Raw Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
8 small or 4 medium to large golden beets
1 - 15oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

Directions:

Peel and quarter the beets, and boil for ten minutes.  Rinse under cold water, and slice into bite-sized pieces.  Add the lettuce, beets and rest of the ingredients into a large serving bowl.  Add your favorite vegan salad dressing.  Feeds five hungry vegans.  Simple and scrumptious!