Saturday, May 29, 2010

Monterey Bay Trip and Food - May, 2010

Beautiful Monterey Bay. My husband and I spent several days there last week celebrating fifteen years of completely blissful matrimony! I took pictures of the beauty we saw, the things we visited, and of course, the food. Hopefully, if you ever visit the area, this will give you a few ideas of where you can enjoy a good vegan meal.

Some of the most beautiful ocean landscape in the world.

Because we got in late on the night we arrived, we didn't go out to dinner, so this is actually our anniversary dinner! Leftovers from lunch at a Sacramento-based Chinese restaurant, and some snacks I brought. Luckily, I'm an easy-going gal.

This was our basic continental breakfast that we had each morning, courtesy of the Magic Carpet Lodge in Seaside.

I thought these cones on this tree looked interesting. Monterey Bay has some very unique indigenous plants that you will continue to see below.

After breakfast, we visited the Presidio Museum. My husband went to the Defense Language Institute to study Russian, so we had to go there and visit the museum. That's G standing on the far left.

A serene picture of Monterey Harbor.

The back view of Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck.

The souvenirs we bought for the little blessings. We actually bought them the next day, but I messed up with blogger. The coconut pig bank is for my oldest daughter who is crazy about pigs. The shell trinket box is for my younger daughter who loves these types of things. The soccer ball is for my little guy who loves to watch his sisters play soccer.

The China Garden in Pacific Grove is where we had lunch on our first full day. The towns here are only five minutes apart, so it's easy to jump from one to another.

This is my husband's starter salad partially eaten before I remembered to take a shot. Mine is even more diminished. It had a subtle sesame dressing.

I thought we were ordering family style, but the meals came as individual entrees. I scored with my tofu vegetable delight.

This was my husband's scezhuan tofu. Nice guy that he is, he actually took a shot of his food for me. Blogging confounds him, and doing anything but eating during a meal confounds him more. So, this was a big deal.

After lunch we took a long drive to look at the beautiful coast. Here's Mr. Babealicious checking out the sights, while I'm checking him out. I like his, er, back...ahem.

Deer are plentiful here and roam freely. Here's a mama with two fawns grazing at some beachfront homes.

Here's a memorial for John Denver who crashed his plane a few feet from here in the water.

Cute purple flowers.

We stopped off at Whole Foods to get dessert for later on, but G decided that he had to have his German chocolate cake immediately. He wouldn't even let me open up the package to get a picture - not enough time, not enough time!

Here's my chocolate mousse cake poised on a rock. Well, you didn't expect me to watch him eat cake right in front of me, did you? But, I saved about half of it, which I ate the next morning.

Don't you think this rock looks like a big manatee laying down on its side?

Some of those things that look like large pebbles are actually hermit crabs. There are tons of tide pools here that we love to walk around. G saw a big hermit crab scurry under a rock before I could snap a picture.

Here's my rock in front of a rock. He's glad to show the world his Raider devotion. He only wears black and black or black and gray for that reason. Seriously.

The water was cooooold on my toes!

We had dinner at Cafe Lumiere in Monterey.

This is my portabello panini with a side of a brothy salad that was absolutely delicious. The server called it a salad, but it could pass as a cold, chunky soup, perfectly seasoned. The panini was very good too.

Here is my surprisingly agreeable husband opening his grilled veggie panini for all of you to gaze upon. He had the same side salad. He was very impressed with his sandwich and salad, as well.

They offered two vegan desserts, so we took them both. I had a chocolate peanut butter cup, that was only a dollar! And he had his first of several oatmeal, cranberry, chocolate chip cookies. We had to go back for more and bring some back for the kids.

The next day we headed to the beach - you have to do that every day, you know. Here's a crazy looking bush that caught my attention. There's tons of these down by the rocks.

A stunning field of purple. People have this a lot on their front yards instead of grass, especially down by the water. This was giving me ideas about my own lawn.

We finally went to the Thomas Kinkade National Archive. I say finally because at our last trip down here, I really wanted to go, but it didn't fit in with the family's schedule. Yeah. So, this time, we were going!

Here's a shot of just one of Kinkade's pieces inside. Justin, the director, was very friendly and helpful.

We stopped for lunch at Paprika Cafe in Monterey run by a very nice man named Christophe. (That's right, no "r" - it's not a typo.)

I took a picture of our happy hands there. My husband doesn't like to wear any jewelry, but he wore his ring for the whole trip. Aw.

We were served an amazing lunch, and we both had the same thing. We had tabouli, hummus, dolma, spinach salad, falafels, baba ganoush, and fresh pitas. It was unbelievably good. He also doesn't have a fryer in his restaurant, so Christophe baked the falafels. Very tasty.

Some of Christophe's homemade baklava. G especially liked them because they weren't sticky. Don't even try to get him sticky - watch out!

Finally the front of Cannery Row. This is really where I bought the children their treats. I don't know why, but I love this place.

We thought about renting bikes, but then we took another walk instead, where G snapped this gorgeous flower. Yes, G did it! For my blog! You heard me!

Here was a funny sight. This is actually a fake screen meant to look as if a dog is sitting there. It's not real at all. I guess it's the Monterey single woman's home security system. I also saw a road sign that had a picture of a deer with a red nose. I guess Rudolph is running around in Monterey now.

We went to D'Anna Thai Kitchen in Marina for dinner where Paul waited on us and was very helpful and sociable.

We started with their fresh rolls with peanut sauce. These were very tasty.

This is G's green curry. He said he really liked it, and he actually asked if I wanted a taste so I could remark about it on my blog. Who is this guy? By the way, I did taste, and it was delicious with a kick.

I ordered the coconut soup, which was sweet and very different from G's green curry. They couldn't have been more different, but they were equally satisfying.

Our dessert was sticky rice with fresh mango topped with coconut sauce. I've never had this before, and I was surprised by its sweetness and how good it tasted. Excellent.

We caught a late movie at a theatre house that shows independent films. That's G walking up the steps. The rooms were so small, they only held four full row of chairs, about 36 total.

Before breakfast on our last day, we visited the beach once again and made friends with gulls, like we always do. There's a brave guy coming close to G's chip. The only regular animal friends that we didn't see this time were the sea lions, which we thought was strange.

Back to Cafe Lumiere for their Sunday brunch. We both had breakfast burritos, which were filled with tofu scramble and soyrizo. We also had roasted potatoes (mine is smothered already with hot sauce) and very fresh fruit. I don't drink coffee, but G said all the coffee he drank on the trip was excellent. I ordered an apple juice, and they gave me probably sixteen ounces for two dollars! Overall, we were both very impressed with all the meals we had on this trip. We really lucked out. I will keep you posted when we leave town and what we eat on trips. You can use this as a resource for when you visit those places.

I leave you with those hungry gulls staring at you.

I love you, G! Happy 15!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My First Award and Reciprocations

Well, I had a pleasant surprise when I returned from a long weekend away. Brandi over at Adventures in Veganism... ( surprised me with this adorable award! Yay! I love being associated with sunshine. Thank you, Brandi. So, now it's my turn to pass it on. I'm going to simply copy the rules of the award that Brandi had on her site.
The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world.
The rules for accepting this award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award onto twelve bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within your post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love, and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Now, keep in mind that I make no claim to being a computer genius, so I still haven't figured out how to make a link, although I've tried. I will someday do it though. So, drumroll please... The following twelve bloggers are like rays of sunshine to me. Aww.

1. Tarissa at is a young lady who is currently being homeschooled and puts out short, clever posts meant to encourage reading.

2. Brandi at Right back at ya, girl! Very inspiring and creative lady.

3. Rose at makes amazing, gourmet vegan delights.

4. Millie at is a Puerto Rican lady who makes vegan food spicy and exotic!

5. Alicia at has been my constant healthy voice in the kitchen.

6. Sarah at runs a non-vegan site, but is open to vegan cooking and makes desserts that I will veganize. :-)

7. Diane at is a homeschool mom, like me, who is on a journey with her weight who has a sense of humor and unique insight.

8. Jenn at offers wonderful Christian tips and advice and is also a vegan and occasional raw foodist.

9. Judy at is an honest, raw foodist who struggles with her cravings and offers yummy recipes.

10. Andrea at offers delightful dishes with a dose of humor and anecdotes.

11. Penny at is a wonderful Scottish lady that offers vegan fare who homeschooled her children.

12. Pet at frequently offers Scripture to ponder.

Have fun checking these worthy sites out.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chocolate Chip Pecan Bars

I made these bars the first time for last Christmas, and they are deeelicious! I start cookie and bar making the first week in October and don't stop until the week of Christmas, so we have bunches of them to eat and give away. This was by far one of our favorites. They are similar to turtle bars. When I was fine-tuning the recipe for the blog, I made three batches in one week. I know, I know, my poor family. But, they have to endure in whatever capacity they can. Also, below the photo of the bars is a picture of a butterfly that lingered on our front lawn for quite a while. The pic was taken by my oldest blessing. I've posted a couple of photos of hers online, and I think she's becoming quite the photog! Enjoy the bars and the butterfly.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Bars

Front Yard Butterfly

Chocolate Chip Pecan Bars


2 cups flour (we use Costco's unbleached and multi-grain flours blend)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened or room temperature

Caramel Layer:

1 cup pecan halves, unchopped (I tried walnuts, but pecans seemed to taste better)
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbs. vegan margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed


1 cup vegan chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust: In a large mixing bowl put all of the crust ingredients. Mix on low speed, slowly working up to medium, and mix until well-blended, about three minutes. Press mixture into a 9 x 13 cake pan, making sure it is as level as possible and pressed down.

For the caramel layer: Spread the pecan halves over the crust, making sure that they are only in one layer. In a small pot, melt the margarine and add the brown sugar. Stir constantly over medium heat, until it is bubbling. Continue stirring and letting it bubble for one minute. Pour over the crust and pecans. Bake in the oven for 22 minutes.

Topping: Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of everything as soon as possible after removing from the oven. Take a butter knife and carefully press down a few chips here and there. Cool on a rack. Once completely cool, refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving to harden the chocolate. Cuts into 24 to 28 bars.

So good. I like to scour baking books and veganize recipes, and this is one of the lucky ones. Feeds more than five hungry vegans, if those other people hurry before we eat them all!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Curried Yellow Split Peas with Tofu

This is such a simple dish. I'm always wondering what I can add to tofu to stretch it out for meals and vary it, and I'm always wondering if I can add tofu to such and such a dish to see how it tastes. A couple of years ago, this started out as just curried split peas (I'll post that later), and then one day, I thought, "Hmm, what if I add tofu?" And, it works great! It's become a family fave; this time when it was cooking, my oldest blessing as usual looked over the stove to offer her approval or disapproval. When she saw this pot, she licked her lips in anticipation. That's always a good sign. So, enjoy this easy, tasty dish - from our home to yours.

Curried Yellow Split Peas with Tofu


1 lb. yellow split peas, sorted for grit
1 32 oz. box organic vegetable broth
3 cups of water
1 pkg. extra-firm tofu, water-packed, drained and diced very small
1 Tbs. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper


In a large pot add the peas and broth. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent the peas from sticking to bottom of the pot. Add the tofu, the rest of the water and the remaining ingredients. Cook for another fifteen minutes, or until the peas are tender. You don't want this to be super brothy, but there will be a brothlike consistency to it, which will thicken up any leftovers. If you sense that the beans are cooking too hard, or the liquid is cooking down too quickly, turn the heat down to medium-low for the remainder of the cooking time. Deeelicious. Feeds five hungry vegans.