Saturday, June 26, 2010

One more day...

Tuesday morning we slept in until 10am! That is a record for me. At least since college. Just in time to shower before meeting my aunt. She graciously toured Mr. Kummerow and I through St. Louis in the scalding heat. Our original plan was all outdoor...botanical gardens, new statue park, etc. Well, the weather changed all that. The evening before we sat around the dinner table and created our "to-do" list.
  • lunch at Osage
  • Basilica
  • Straub's
  • Art Museum
  • Sasha's- scratch that- Venice Cafe
Beginning with lunch at Cafe Osage. Osage is a garden/nursery and all their food is grown fresh right there. I had the Mediterranean plate with no goat cheese, extra hummus.

From there we headed to the Cathedral Basilica. My photos do not do the place must check it out for yourself. Cousin Kim's friend calls it the "largest collection of mosaics IN THE WORLD". Well he is not far off. It is gorgeous!

Next Straub's. Yes Straub's is a local neighborhood grocery store. In case you haven't realized yet, I am obsessed with grocery stores. Alex and I have "grocery store dates" even! So Aunt Judy kindly gave us a tour of their store. It was wonderful and local and we got tons of food for our trip home on Wednesday including more bananas and bakery fresh bread for our PB&Bs, hummus, seaweed salad and nectarines.

The Art Museum was next on the list. The great thing about St. Louis museums are most of them are free. You only pay for special exhibits. Unfortunately the Art Museum has some construction, they are building an addition. Therefore many of the exhibits were closed. But we viewed most of the American paintings and a German new media exhibit.

We checked out Sasha's for a snack and were disappointed so we left and headed out to Soulard to Venice Cafe. Venice Cafe is an eclectic mix of...well... everything. The place is full of what may once be considered trash, recycled and reused. It is great! They have quite a cute little menu too...but we were only there for a snack so we tried the fried plantains. Another one of my new favorite foods! Here are two photos of the cafe. Just one of me and Mr. Kummerow. The other is a fence filled with keychains...just to give you an idea of the place.

Tuesday night we had dinner with some of my college friends. Nikki suggested Pi, a pizza joint in Delmar...Obama's favorite. I checked out the website and discovered they are very vegan friendly and a very "green" restaurant so I was all for it. Well you know how I am with photos...I dug right in before I could snap a shot...but here are the leftovers. Soy sausage and cheese made this a delicious treat for me! The cookie was an unexpected extra. They messed up our pizza...and even as I write that, I hate to because I don't want to give Pi a bad review. But I have to tell you to make you understand just how good their customer service actually is. The pizza we ordered comes on deep dish crust which isn't vegan- they use butter to grease the pan. The waitress let us know we could order it on thin crust but it came out in a deep dish. She was so apologetic, rushed our new pizza out, let us keep the other one and then also bought our table a round of drinks and surprised Mr. Kummerow and I with vegan dessert! These whoopie pie chocolate chip cookies were the best vegan cookies I have ever tasted. I am almost certain she must have made a mistake and fed us non-vegan cookies. But I know that just simply isn't true. The truth is that they were AMAZING! And I can see why this is Obama's favorite. Not to mention their environmentally conscious business practices.

Wednesday morning we awoke early and hit the road. We road straight through listening to "My Sister's Keeper" on CD. Great book and our trip flew by! Thanks for following our "Great American Roadtrip!"

Missouri Part Two

St. Louis

I can't imagine a better "vacation from our vacation". We had been on the road so long! I knew we would be worn out at this point...but I wanted to plan some time for just Mr. Kummerow and me. As hard as it was to leave the family knowing I would only be a few hours from my parents', I knew that my sanity depended on it. We needed this time to unwind before returning home.

I have some family who lives in St. Louis and my cousin graciously hosted our visit in her guest house...fondly named the Carriage House. We arrived Sunday and "checked in." After a swim in the pool (it was almost 100 degrees the entire time we were there!) we made our way to Whole Foods (my favorite grocery store-which we don't have in Mooresville...or in Charlotte) and picked out dinner.
We both made huge salads...mine included beets (my new favorite), artichokes, olives, quinoa, spinach, kale, mushrooms and much more.

We took a sampling from the hot bar...several types of vegan curry and casseroles. For dessert we shared a Chicago Diner coconut cake which we found at Whole Foods (I forgot to take a photo of it!)

We also purchased Chicago Diner muffins for breakfast. Yummy!

On Monday Kim cooked dinner. Kim is quite the foodie and an excellent cook. She served up quite a feast. And made sure there would be plenty for me to eat. While the dinner for everyone was not vegan (she grilled carne for the meat eaters) she did make grilled eggplant and peppers on a tostada with a roasted corn and black bean salsa.

I had gazpacho for the first time that night. It wasn't Kim's homemade version; she picked it up from a friend who is a chef in the city, and it was delicious!

The whole meal was so fresh and flavorful, I couldn't help but snap a picture of it as well! Of course I was worried that they would make fun of my new hobby (taking photos of yummy food), but then my aunt showed me her collection of food photos on her iPhone. I'm not the only crazy one!

On Tuesday we ate so much yummy food I thought it best to make another blog entry. Check in soon for some more yummy food photos!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wedding day!

The bride and groom the night before

The bride getting her hair done. She looked so lovely!

Three sisters!

College besties!

I forgot the bride's she borrowed Megan's. Luckily we were able to get her shoes to her before the ceremony began!

My older sister is so beautiful. I had such a nice time catching up with her on this trip. It is a rare thing for us to spend time together so I treasured every minute.

The groom, watching the bride walk down the aisle.

Lighting the Unity Candle

My brother. So talented. Playing Kenny G's The Wedding Song during the Unity Candle.

Exchanging Rings

Mr. and Mrs. Koch

The family.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Chicago Diner

Oh my goodness! I'm in heaven!

Ok, so I do think it is a good thing I don't have a place like this close to home. Why? Because I would not be able to control myself. When we go out to eat it is easy...there is usually only a few items for me to choose from. At Chicago Diner it took me a very long time to choose my entree!

The whole restaurant is vegan with the exception of cheese in a few dishes (you can substitute any of it for vegan cheese.) So Mr. Kummerow and I visited the diner with Jacqui and Nicole. The diner is close to their place in the city and they were gracious to show us around. Well we all got different dishes and shared so we could get a taste for everything.

I got the Sweet Potato Quesadilla. AWESOME!
Mr. Kummerow had the Dagwood. AWESOME!
Jacqui had the California Reuben. AWESOME!
And Nicole got the Taco Salad. AWESOME!

I was so impressed with our meals that I forgot to take a snapshot. I even told Mr. Kummerow to remind me before we got in the diner...but he forgot. That is how excited we were. In fact, for most of our vacation I forgot to photograph our food. We were just so excited! So here is the photo I took. Forgive the photo of the half-eaten entree...

For dessert Jacqui and I each got vegan milkshakes. I have been craving a milkshake for weeks. I had the chocolate peanut butter and Jacqui had a peanut butter banana. I also got a carrot cake to-go for dessert later. Mr. Kummerow and I shared it that evening.

I highly recommend this restaurant. Of course it isn't food I would want to eat every day...I was so full and couldn't eat the rest of the day. But it was so yummy! And I got a great idea to make sweet potato quesadillas!

Vacation updates

Alright, so I know I promised a journal of all of our vacation happenings...and I have not been very good at keeping up. That's the thing about vacation after all; who really wants to be on the computer? Well I'm taking a few minutes now to catch up, but I suppose I will do this a little at a time. So we talked about the graduation party, now as I sip on my wine in the Carriage House let me catch you up to speed on my Wednesday-Friday:

Missouri- Part One

We left super early Wednesday morning to drive to Missouri from the Kummerow's in Rockford. I did not want to be late for Diana's Spa Party hosted by my big sister Stephanie. We arrived at my mom and dad's early afternoon and caught up with my dad and brother. My mom came home and we headed to Diana's to set up for the party. We surprised Diana with gifts-- lingerie! She was embarrassed, but it was fun and I know she will appreciate the gifts!

I convinced my sisters to come back out to my mom and dad's and stay the night. So they surprised my dad when we got back and he was so excited to have us all in one house! As we get older, I know it is harder on my parents to let us go. With the youngest (my brother) getting ready to leave for college and my youngest sister getting married, I'm sure that every opportunity for us all to stay at their beautiful log home is like heaven on earth for them. So we were all home...laying around on the couch in our PJ's. And it was nice. I miss my family so much and living so far away can be very difficult. I love my home in NC, and most days it is easier to just not think about how much I miss them. But I do and it makes me sad.

Well the next few days of vacation were busy, but not terribly exciting. Mr. Kummerow and I did not get to spend much time together. I was busy with my sisters preparing for the wedding. We decorated the hall, got pedicures, ran errands, welcomed out-of-town guests and generally just got to hang out together. I missed Mr. Kummerow, but our "sister time" was long overdue!

The highlight of those days would have to be the pasta dinner mom hosted on Thursday night. We had a lot of family drive in on Thursday so mom prepared a big lasagna and some spaghetti for Mr. Kummerow and me. While at the store picking up a few things, she found some vegan sausage patties and had the wonderful idea to make meatballs out of them. They were DELICIOUS! She used Morning Star breakfast sausage patties and thawed them, formed them into balls and cooked them. My parents really try to embrace my vegan diet. And the extra effort my mom made to make sure I was comfortable and had enough to eat was awesome!

Check in soon for all the fun details of Diana's wedding including photos! She was the most beautiful bride I've ever seen...(and just typing that made tears well up in my eyes!)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday morning

Mr. Kummerow left to take his dad to the airport...Julia is still in bed, as are the leftover people from the party last night, and I am sitting up, checking my email and reflecting on our trip thus far.

Yesterday's party was good. Mr. Kummerow and I played bartenders and I met gobs of family I never knew existed before. It was a difficult day for me, as there was food sitting out from 1pm to 1am! My willpower only lasts so long! I managed to keep busy behind the bar, refusing to eat the bar snacks (read more about those in the last entry!). I kept my palate wet with sparkling water. (I believe the caffeine from all the diet cokes and coffees was starting to get to me!) I snacked a little on hummus and veggies, fruit and chips. When it came time to sit down and eat I multiplied that on my plate with a roll and some olives. I did sneak a bite of Mr. Kummerow's cookie (not vegan) but for the most part by 7pm I had stuck to it. And I was feeling pretty good!

But the evening continued and my sweet tooth had been activated and there was still cake (not vegan). Lots and lots of cake. My resistance waned and I split a piece with Alex. Now I find once I have given in, it makes it even more difficult to resist. So I proceeded to eat a cookie, some more chips and even some bar snacks. Uggghhhh!

So I beat myself up over it and I went to bed with a full belly. And then I ran this morning. And I ran without any sense of where I was going or how long I was running. No watch, no mile markers. I just ran. This reminded me of my early runs in Concord living with the Piper's. No watch, no mile markers. Just me and my sneakers. And it felt good. I woke up punishing myself...saying "no breakfast" or "no snacks" today. And I returned from my run hungry and feeling good. I ate my breakfast and enjoyed it...knowing that I eat to live and not live to eat.

So I'm stressing about looking good, specifically in my dress for Diana's wedding next weekend...and I realized what I need to stress about is feeling good. So no more food restrictions in regard to the "amount of" but I am focusing on what is in my food. Specifically, how much caffeine is in the drink I am about to consume! So decaf coffee for me this morning. And sparkling water instead of diet coke!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Road trip has begun

(These are the Kummerow's. Not a recent picture, but you can see who I'm talking about)

Yesterday we jumped in the fully packed car a little before 6am, stopped to grab some coffee and we were on the highway. And then we were off the seems we forgot all of our "Dave Ramsey budgeted vacation money" in it's envelope at home. Bugger. Ok, so we got the money, turned around and were on the highway by 6:30am. I actually drove. And I drove for a decent amount of time...until noon. I can't say that our roadtrip diet was the healthiest, but it was all vegan. Consisted mostly of peanut butter on whole grain bread with sliced bananas. Make that 3 of those. And "egg salad" sandwiches. Graham crackers and vegan pudding. And lots of water and diet coke.

I may have mentioned after our beach trip the joy of books on cd. Our 14 hours in the car flew by with the help of Sissy Spacek's narration of "To Kill A Mockingbird". I have never read the book and it was a good story. We still haven't finished the last two cd's but it seemed to me the story ended at the trial. Maybe that is simply because my attention span waned significantly at that point and I was ready to be out of the car. We rented several more books from the library including "My Sister's Keeper" and "Atonement".

Well we made it to Belvidere...Dave's place (Mr. Kummerow's dad). I proceeded to relax with a glass of white wine, which then proceeded to make me rather tipsy in a short amount of time. Maybe that is what happens when you've been sitting in a car for so many hours. We bbq'd. I had a veggie burger wrapped in lettuce with a yummy chopped salad Julia (my sister-in-law) made for us. And then I just couldn't help myself and I indulged in those peanut butter pretzels. Dave always has a ton of food on the bar downstairs and it is so hard to keep from eating all day every day. Even as we arrived yesterday, my hand went instintively for a handful of goodies from the bar before I smacked some sense into my hand! I have to be on alert all day around here. There is always food everywhere! (This is Dave's. I love visiting here!)
I haven't really told everyone that I'm vegan quite yet. When Dave called to ask me what we wanted to grill and I told him a veggie burger, I think he was a little mystified that I didn't want something a little more, well I guess "yummy". I hate telling people that I'm vegan. So this will be an interesting 2 weeks! Mr. Kummerow just went to the store with Dave and hopefully he will bring me back some almond milk to get me through the week.

Well off to a pedicure with Julia. Later!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Got it...

Cycle class...that is what I will do tomorrow. Jeanie's class is always the best!

fun workouts...

I may have mentioned previously, I am trying to find the joy in working out again, specifically running! Well my game plan is to do exactly what I want to do each day...doesn't matter what work out it is. Here is my week so far:

Sunday- swimming with Mr. Kummerow. So much fun! We used to swim quite a bit, but quit because it can get time consuming with the swimsuits and the wet hair and all that. But it was a hot day and we got in the pool and did 1200 and it felt good!

Monday- I took the day off. It was Memorial Day, give me a break!

Tuesday- John and Kim at the Y started a new running group. I brought Emily and we ran with another lady named Deb and had a fun run. I did 3 miles! That is the most I have done in quite a while!

Wednesday- yoga. Jan's class at the Y is a simple or beginner class and it felt good to just stretch my muscles and relax.

Thursday (today)- Davidson track workout. These are the most fun! We go out, warm up with some run/walk laps and run the bleachers. Usually we will finish with lunges, sprints, plyos, sit ups and push ups. Great work out and so much fun!

Friday- plan yet, anybody got any ideas?

Saturday- 5k run with Emily. There is a race in Mt. Mourne and if I run it with Emily it will be quite the workout...she is too fast for me!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another meal

On Tuesday I made this yummy concoction...recipe borrowed by some old magazine from long ago, I can't even remember which one. This casserole is super simple to make. The bottom is polenta, homemade. I began making polenta just a few months ago. My mother-in-law had us over for lunch one Sunday and made it for us, and I was hooked. The recipe for the polenta I found in Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook, although it is also on the back of any package of cornmeal...remember you have to get the type of cornmeal specific to polenta. Some packages even call it polenta. It is a bit of a long process to cook and is dangerous...the polenta pops up and will burn your hand. I wear a mitt while I stir to protect my hands.

Layered on the polenta is sauteed mushrooms and kale. I didn't even use olive oil this time, just water, thanks to some tips I found on this blog about cutting oils. Unfortunately I did have to use vegan butter to make the sauce. Just two tablespoons butter, and two tablespoons flour whisked together and 1 cup vegan milk. Stir constantly on the stove and it will create a thick milk "gravy". I was very impressed that I could make this with all vegan ingredients. For the record I used Earth Balance Butter and Almond Breeze milk. I poured the "gravy" over the kale and mushrooms and topped with some vegan mozzarella cheese. I don't like to use a lot of vegan cheese...too processed...but I had some leftover from the lasagna so I decided to use it up.

This is the second time I have made this meal and it was great! And we have plenty of leftovers for lunches. So I actually just had another piece with a side of cucumbers and hummus. I literally just ate a whole cucumber! I'm not sure that is even healthy. Cukes seem to be my new favorite. I have tried to grow them in the garden, but they keep dying. Emily just bought our third (and final) plant...hopefully it will be success!

Tonight we are going to use the rest of the polenta (the recipe makes a ton!) and make a ragu with tomatoes, mushrooms and broccoli. If it is pretty maybe I will post pictures tomorrow.

On another note...but still food related...I am planning our "Great mid-American Roadtrip" and need some ideas/suggestions. We will be on the road for two weeks- in and out of families' homes and the car. I would like to pack the car with some food to snack on through the weeks and also need some ideas for eating out. As a vegan, do you rely on any restaurants? Do you have any tips for traveling?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Weekend Visitors

Memorial weekend has been wonderful. Unfortunately Mr. Kummerow didn't have off on Monday (snow day make up). But we managed to enjoy ourselves all the same. I had been looking forward to this weekend for several weeks. Our good friends Andy and Amber visited on Saturday night. Although I have only spent a few days ever in the company of Andy and Amber, I feel a supernatural kindred to them. They are beautiful, inside and out, because God's light shines right through them. They are refreshing and fun and conversation flows freely and they are also fans of board games and cards!

So we spent the beginning of their visit showing them around Race City... you know the usual points of interest: downtown (we took a nice walk, drank a witchdoctor, ran into church friends), the Point (visited Emily's store AKA the Point General Store, bought some yummy pretzel bread and gawked at all the mansions), showed them Alex's school, drove down Lakeside Park to look at the many race teams and rounded our way back home.

I cooked a marvelous vegan lasagna for dinner (if I do say so myself!). I was torn whether I should cook normal food- as in meat which is not normal in my house at all! Or should I represent my new lifestyle with a full out vegan feast? Vegan feast it is. And I just prayed they would not judge me and rather embrace it. So the lasagna was super easy and I just made it up as I went. Whole wheat noodles, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, vegan mozzarella cheese and remember that tahini-marinara sauce I was raving about last week...well yes, it was certainly the lead character in my lasagna. I mixed together a greek salad and served our meal with the pretzel bread. It received rave reviews all around...let's just hope they weren't just being nice!


I have been working hard lately in my garden the last few weeks! This is my first garden ever and it is so cool to see the good Lord's handy work. Every day I walk outside and I am just amazed at these plants! The vegetables just keep getting bigger and bigger! I am so excited to start munching away at them! Too bad I will be on the "Great mid-American Road Trip" during most of the harvest.