Roadtrip food

So I realize I went on my roadtrip like ooooh I don’t know, over a month ago? but I need to share these granola-ish bars with you.  I just need to.  You understand.

I’m cheap.  It happens.

I knew we would be spending a lot of money on the roadtrip for gas and food and probably lodging a few times [when we aren’t staying with friends or camping], so I was trying to think of ways I could save.  The obvious choice was to make some of my own food to bring.

I was going to be flying so my options were limited and space in my suitcase was even more limited.  I made a batch of the granola mentioned in a previous post, but I also made energy bars for when we were hiking / when I didn’t want McDonalds. I researched like a mad woman trying to find recipes I could tweak to my liking- to say it was overwhelming is an understatement.  Have you ever tried to find a granola bar recipe?  There are crunchy ones, chewy ones, sweet ones, fruit and nut ones, date based, oats based.  OH MY GOSH!

I finally just stuck to two bars from Oh She Glows- changing them depending on what nuts and dried fruit we had or ones I preferred.  While I’m mentioning Angela’s blog, let me say my piece: I love it.  I’m not vegan, or even close to it, but I enjoy experimenting with food.  Her baked goods recipes are amazing.  I have since tried several others like these, these and hopefully these soon.  All with spectacular results.  Sure, it’s vegan, but it tastes delicious!  Seriously, give ‘em a try!

The first batch was the banana-cranberry bars.

I only used about 2 Tbsp brown sugar and added a Tbsp of brown rice syrup, then I used dried cherries instead of cranberries since I enjoy those better.  I also subbed in some wheat bran for the whole wheat flour and completely omitted the dried coconut [no gracias].  I used vegetable oil in place of the coconut oil.

The second batch I made were these beauties: Fruit and Nut Energy Bites.  Everyone who has tried them loved them.  My grandparents, my parents, my friend who needed a pick-me-up after one too many wine tastings in California…my mom even requested I make another batch once I came home.

As for my recipe tweaking, here ya go: I completely omit the dried apricots because…ew, and I, again, used dried unsweetened cherries because I like their flavor more than dried cranberries.  I use whole wheat flour, and prefer them with 1 cup toasted almonds over the other nut options.  I only put in 1 Tbsp of the brown sugar because I find the dates make these extremely sweet already so why add more, ya?  I have also cut this recipe in half with great results.

Both of these are great for hiking or as a snack to keep in your bag for when you need a little energy.  The banana bars got a little dry after a few days, but the fruit and nut bites kept for much longer.  If you store them in the fridge I imagine they would last quite some time.

I hope you give ‘em a try.  Reallly, it’s no more difficult than driving over to your grocery and buying a box.

cute wrapping optional

Would you like some cheese with that wine?

Instead of having a post this week consisting of random articles/products etc I find interesting and worth sharing, I thought I would post on something else I find worth sharing: wine.

We drank a lot of wine on our roadtrip.

I mean, we were in California.  How could we not?  It’s a little ironic that we never made it to Napa or Sonoma, but it was out of the question since we were leaving San Francisco with a 14 hour drive ahead of us up to Portland…yeah, wineries aren’t open at 8am.

We did manage to go to tastings in Paso Robles, an area near Santa Cruz, and Bainbridge Island in Seattle.

I bought 7 bottles of wine.  Whoops [?]  Some of them were as delicious as I remember during the tasting.  Others, I clearly bought because I’m a lightweight and alcohol tends to have an influence over me after two tastings- causing me to believe everything I try is absolutely wonderful.

The standouts of the group would have to be:

A 2006 Zin-Syrah blend called “High School Sweethearts” from the Burrell School Vineyards.  I’m having trouble finding it on their website, so it’s possible they’ve sold out :(  Another wine of theirs I remember enjoying was their 2006 “Dean’s List” Cabernet Sauvignon.

A 2007 Syrah from Zenaida Cellars.  It was here that we learned if you are a male out in public with one other male in San Francisco, when you order a smoothie they will ask if you want two straws.  True story.

A 2008 Pinotage from Lora Prieta Winery, which is also sold out.  I’m such a bummer. BUT their 2009 is still available!  They hosted a great wine tasting with an extraordinary view so if you are ever in the area- I highly suggest making a visit.  There was a band, and there was bocce.

I love the corks from the Burrell School Vineyards. Talk about going with a theme!

A 2008 Cuvée from Amelia Wynn Winery.  The guys who make this wine are really awesome and friendly so if you are near the Seattle area take a trip over to Bainbridge Island.  They’re very welcoming and if you need to know anything about wine, they would be more than happy to oblige.

Some other wines I happen to love [completely un-related to the roadtrip] include:

2009 Sin Zin, Zinfandel

Stonemason ’08 Shiraz

Broke Ass Red Wine [trust me on this one.  It’s cheap, but it’s good]

2009 Sonoma Coast, Pinot Noir

Yes, they’re all reds.  While I do enjoy a Chardonnay from time to time, I will almost always prefer a red.  I enjoy the bold fruit flavors, the occasional hint of cocoa, the dry taste lingering on my tongue.  I just enjoy it.  Plus, it’s Fall now.  A refreshing and slightly chilled white wine, to me, screams spring and summer.

I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve had my fair share of wines and been to more wine tastings than I can count.  Everyone, of course, has their own specific tastes and may not like very dry red wines [my preference], but if you do- please give some of these a try. They’re all under $20, and if you don’t like ‘em?  At least you can still get a bit tipsy :)

The view from Lora Prieta Winery

Pacific Northwest: my second choice [?]

My quest to find a place to live is not over yet ladies and gentlemen.  Mainly because I can’t decide if I like California or the PNW more.  And which city in the PNW I liked the most.  I should probably make another trip out west to re-evaluate, no?

Portland was our first stop on the way up North.  I fell in love almost instantly.  Maybe it was the random bar we went into because they didn’t ID us at the door [Stephanie had lost her purse that day and, therefore, had no ID to prove that she is actually 23], and was filled with no more than 10 people including the live rap duo performing.

Needless to say, I was quite enjoying myself when we left to go meet Erin’s aunt and we found out we were actually in the “gay part of town” [it’s Portland, I thought all parts were gay parts…], and we followed her to an amazing bar a few blocks away near her house.  It was in a converted theatre and had some really great local beers on draft [plus vegan cookies, so hipster].

The next day we occupied our time with Powell’s books, coffee[!!], and thrift store shopping.  I am an espresso drinker through and through.  I don’t like coffee- except for the kind at Courier Coffee Roasters that is [and then more later at Powell’s cafe].  Slow drip coffee is sublime.  It has flavor that doesn’t threaten to burn an acidic hole in my stomach and make me wince from it’s bitterness.  Oh no, it was creamy, bold, and beautiful.  Just beautiful.  Now, of course, I can never get coffee anywhere except in Portland.  Fact.

I loved Portland for it’s small town feel despite having all of the amenities of a major city.  I liked that it would be totally acceptable for me to ride my bike everywhere and be extremely caffeinated while doing it.  I liked that there is wine country less than an hour outside of the city [sadly, we weren’t able to visit it].  I also liked the college [with an AMAZING football team] in the city that happens to have majors I’m interested in.  I mean, I’m not going to lie- I had a definite bias toward Portland going into it because I thought it was going to pale in comparison to San Francisco.  Turns out, I think I like it better…crazy how that happens.

Buuuut, then there was Seattle.

Oh, Seattle.  I reallyreallyreally loved you.  I may have been hypnotized by your awesome architecture and that ferry ride, but either way you’re totally awesome.

We did the typical touristy things like going to Pike Place Market- we noshed on some Piroshki’s as per recommendations from my sister.  They were totally bad for you, and therefore totally delicous.  We wandered and took the [free!] bus around downtown.  I got in my healthy dose of architecture spotting with the Seattle Public Library and the Olympic Sculpture Park before we headed to the largest Chinese market in the U.S. where I had the best avocado bubble tea of my life.  It was also the first one, but that’s irrelevant.  I officially can never have an avodaco bubble tea anywhere but Seattle.  Fact.

The weather was a little chilly, and there was the occasional spit of rain.  In my sweater and jeans I felt perfect, and totally ready for my first oyster.  I decided the best way to do it was to go raw, and about vomited on the spot.  I think I should ease my way into oysters.  Raw probably wan’t the best way to start our relationship.  After a beer to calm my stomach we hopped on the ferry over to Bainbridge Island.  We stopped in at a wine tasting and met a bunch of guys who’s side hobby is winemaking.  I ended up buying an ’08 Cuvée after a solid 45 minutes of conversation about wine and Dave Mathews jazz.  Beautiful.

In the end, I think I was charmed by Seattle’s views and ferry rides, but I fell for Portland. Hmm perhaps graduate school at the University of Oregon should be investigated a bit more…

Mmm, healthy

I’ve mentioned how our eating habits on the roadtrip were less than spectacular.  So UN-spectacular in fact that mentions of soup diets and detoxes became pretty regular.  Totally worth it.

Unfortunately, detoxes and juice diets are impossible for me due to my general preference for solid foods.  Crazy, I know.  Not to mention it’s too much work and too expensive for my taste.  So, I’m eating healthy and trying desperately to remember what portion control is.  Revolutionary, no?

The thing is- I actually enjoy eating healthy foods.  That brussels sprouts recipe below? I wasn’t exactly forcing myself to eat a whole package worth of sprouts.  I think it has to do with the fact that I was never forced to eat them as a child.  I don’t have any brussels sprouts horror stories.  My parents didn’t like them so we never ate them.  I can tribute this vegetable love affair to my grandmother- she’s the one who got me into them.

Now, the trick is making sure I eat more of the healthy foods and less of my other favorite food group: desserts.

Anyway, my pictures of said healthy foods have been few and far between but here is a list of some healthiness I’ve been dishing up this week:

Some roasted tofu and veggies from Hipsterfood.  I’ve found that when it comes to tofu you really can’t skip the pressing step of any recipe.  I usually press it for about 30 minutes- it helps to create a better texture when you cook it.

I also used another recipe from Hipsterfood for roasting brussels sprouts to eat with my lunch one day.  Seriously, just try them.  They’re delicious.

A Vegetable Tamale Pie.  It packs some fiber and protein and a bit o’ veggies with the tomatoes, salsa, and corn.  Plus, its extremely easy to make, especially if you use pre-meade polenta and canned beans.  I would suggest using a flavored polenta because that part was a little bland.

Babaganoush! This soup is totally amazing- it will become a recipe repeat very soon.  I’ve had it at lunch a few times this week, and it’s extremely filling from all the fiber in the eggplant.

A batch of turkey and bean chili similar to this one [this also makes for some great leftovers]

Roasted tomato soup.  So all the cheese might not make this a superstar in the health realm, but all those antioxidants and vitamin C in the tomatoes had to balance it out, right??

A turkey sausage and vegetable fritata similar to this recipe.  Fritatas are super versatile and can be made with pretty much any vegetables in your fridge and herbs you have on hand.  Plus they’re a great post-workout meal with all that lean protein!  You can always sub in some egg whites if you want to reduce the calories, but it’s already pretty low in cals so I usually just go all egg.

I also made a double batch of steel cut oatmeal over the weekend and had it for breakfast twice this week.  It’s super easy and convenient if you’re rushed in the morning.  I follow the directions on the Quaker Steel Cut Oats container, mixing half the liquid as water and half as almond milk.  Then, once it’s cooked I add in a healthy dose of cinnamon and a sprinkle of Truvia [or honey].  Just re-heat it in the microwave and give it a good stir!

I think another batch of my granola is in order too.  It served me well on the roadtrip, and it was so easy to make that buying granola seems silly.

It also makes things better if you listen to Spirit.  Just a suggestion :)

Here’s to hoping all this healthy eating will pay off soon- those 5 pounds I gained are not ok.

My quest to find a place to live: California dreamin’

It’s possible I’m in love with California.

I need to research what’s going on with that state [bancrupcy wise]…aka ask my dad what’s going on with their taxes, etc. because if it’s do-able I’m totally moving.  Like, tomorrow.  The idea of jumping in head first, moving somewhere, and making it up as I go along has such a bad ass/carefree feel to it.  Unfortunately, my type-A side and the economy wont let me do that.  First step: find a job in California.  Second step: jump in head first.

The weather ranged from really hot [ok, it was around 80] in San Diego to really cold and windy in San Francisco.  Admittedly, if I had checked the weather ahead of time and packed accordingly I wouldn’t of been so cold in San Fran, but that’s what shopping is for!  A few sweaters may have been acquired on this trip…

Great weather, little to no humidity, spectacular examples of Mother Nature, WINE, what’s not to love?  Sure, the state is broke, but so am I so we can bond.

Maybe it’s the nomad in me or maybe California really is the place for me, but after this roadtrip I’ve developed a yearning for the West Coast.  I want to be able to exercise outside year round, go to an amazing farmer’s market every weekend [or every day].  I want to let my “crunchy”** side out.

**I recently learned this term.  Apparently it’s used to describe people who love to be outdoors and eat “crunchy” granola.  It’s  basically a hippy.  Thanks Erin for that Snapple fact.

To follow are some pictures I snapped while we took our sweet time driving through California.  How can you not love it?!  Let’s find jobs and move out there together :)

There's beach...Carmel by the Sea

there's succulents...Santa Barbara

there's wine...near Santa Cruz

there's cute cafes with excellent espresso...Carmel by the Sea

there's touristy things...Santa Barbara Mission

and then, of course, there's hiking...Yosemite