Yep, my dad was right

In the summer of 2001 I was divorcing my first husband, high tailing it out of a town I didn’t want to live in, and had my sights set on joining one of two friends as soon as the ink dried on my divorce papers: either a sorority sister who had just moved to downtown Chicago, or one of my closest high school friends who was leaving Chicago for NYC. After a lifetime of bouncing around Iowa, Illinois, then back to Iowa while growing up, I didn’t feel at home anywhere and wanted to get as far away from the Midwest as humanly possible (on the shoestring budget of a newly divorced twenty-something). My father got a little misty eyed and said something to the effect of “If you move to New York, you’ll never want to move anywhere else, ever again. But it would be great if you decide to give Chicago a chance, even if it’s just for a few years.” He said it with reverence and nostalgia for the New York he immigrated to several decades earlier as a teenager.

By the time my divorce was finalized I decided to humor my parents and scheduled one day of back-to-back interviews in Chicago, just in case my friend John’s laissez-faire advice of “Move here. Crash at my place. You’ll totally find something!” didn’t pan out. My interviews were on the 11th of September. I ended up moving to Chicago.

Chicago was the first – the only – place I’ve ever truly felt at home. I moved there on the weekend of the Chicago Marathon (I ran my first of several the very next year), lived next door to the most beautiful library I’ve ever laid eyes on, dated half the city, knew the Lake Michigan running path like the back of my hand, cocooned myself in a very large vegan bubble, and despite my very best efforts managed to meet someone worth marrying and even let him knock me up. I swore up and down that I would never ever ever leave Chicago. (I still don’t know how I ended up in North Carolina, but we’re having a blast.)

That fella I married almost a decade ago, well, we took a little trip to Brooklyn Heights last week. We’ve both been to NYC on our own, but I wasn’t married and definitely wasn’t a parent my last visit out, so I was seeing things through a different prism.  We tromped around a couple of the boroughs, but really we just settled into the Heights and soaked it all up while I thought to myself, yep, my dad was right.

red door blue bikeFDNY 205Peaks b&wpromenadejapanese magnolia envycasting shadows on brickbedroom window

 

sunrise sun rise

Obligatory sunrise photos from the promenade.

 

TeresasThe reason my mother-in-law was worried I wouldn’t find anything to eat? She dined at Teresa’s almost every night, and yes, it was difficult finding something vegan. Smack dab in the middle of their menu was a rocket-radicchio-pear salad that was so big I needed help to finish it. Unexpected victory never tasted better.

 

CHAMPSA quick hop and transfer on the MTA led us to this joint, which was in the vicinity of Nitehawk Cinema (we’re cinema folks; it made us very very happy).

 

Veg GingerNestled atop some eatery called Andy’s is a Chinese vegan mecca.

The green awning above Andy’s was home to Vegetarian Ginger, a vegan restaurant we stumbled into our first afternoon in BH, mostly because it was two blocks from the apartment. We hadn’t eaten anything of substance in about twelve hours, and after a horrible Griswaldesque start to our vacation of which our four hour flight delay was the least of our annoyances, we were so hungry that we ordered two appetizers and three entrees. Several days later, I’m still dreaming about the miso mushroom soup and pineapple avocado rice I had there.  Last night while walking the grounds I still had them in mind as I picked some green garlic and baby kale. I worked out how to combine the components of both dishes into one, and my new favorite Buddha bowl was on the table an hour later.

buddha bowlsI promise the food tastes umpteen million times better than it looks!

Pineapple avocado Buddha bowl with mushrooms and green garlic

§ § §

This dish is very adaptable to whatever vegetables are in season. I went with white rice because I was out of brown, but I know I’ll make this again with quinoa, millet or barley. I especially like the combination of having both cooked and raw components; I shredded my raw vegetables and folded them into the rice with the miso, which had just enough warmth to wilt them without overheating the miso. A simple dusting of hemp hearts finished this dish off, but I think sliced almonds, cashews, or a spicy peanut sauce would also be lovely. It’s a nourishing bowl, intended to soothe your current cravings.

§ § §

1 1/2 cups short grain rice
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or frozen
1 cup sliced mushrooms of choice
1 stalk green garlic, thinly sliced, divided
Dash each of ground ginger, ground coriander, and white pepper
1 carrot, grated
3-4 leaves baby kale, minced (size of grated carrot)
2 tablespoons shiro (white) miso
1/2 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons hemp hearts

Rinse the rice briefly one or two times in a fine sieve, then combine in a heavy-bottomed pot with 2 cups water. Bring the pot to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover tightly. After twenty minutes, check once to make sure the water has all been absorbed; if not, let it simmer a few more minutes, taking care that the rice at the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch. Turn off the heat but keep the rice covered for another ten minutes to let it rest.

In a small skillet or sauté pan, heat up the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the pineapple pieces and brown them on both sides. Turn the flame down to medium and add half of the sliced garlic, all of the sliced mushrooms, and the ground spices. Stir frequently until the mushrooms are wilted and have released most of their water; remove from heat and leave uncovered.

When the rice is done resting, remove the lid, fluff it with a fork, and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Add one cup of cooked rice to a bowl. Fold in 1 tablespoon miso, half of the carrot and kale, and half of the remaining uncooked garlic. Once this is mixed, make room in the bowl for half of the pineapple-mushroom mixture, and half of the avocado. Repeat for the second bowl, mixing the remainder of the carrot, kale, garlic and miso into the rice, and adding the remaining pineapple mixture and avocado to the second bowl. Sprinkle each with one tablespoon of hemp hearts, and serve while still warm.

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes active, 40 total | Yield: 2 bowls

About these ads

11 thoughts on “Yep, my dad was right

  1. i enjoyed this post immensely and am embarrassed to admit I’ve never been to Vegetarian Ginger- aside from walking by. So glad you enjoyed Champs and hoping that when you return a certain girl and a certain dog might pass each other on the street wearing the same ensem.

    Like

  2. Perfect! I’ve lived here on/off since I was 15. I worked at Bellevue during 9/11. That day changed my life too. I stayed for 2 more years but thought leaving would erase all the bad memories of that day. I stayed away for 2 years but I realized it was home and no place can every compare. It’s dirty and crazy but its home. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Did you not go into the city?

    Like

    • I don’t think it’s dirty or crazy at all – but this is coming from someone who thought Chicago was too small and maybe a little bit too gentrified by the time she moved away? I’m a watcher, so the density of people (especially on the trains and buses) made me happy. I think it gave my husband an anxiety attack, but not me!

      Most of our city plans were for all day Friday and most of Saturday, time we lost because of our flight delay and apartment stuff. Grrrr. We’re probably coming back in a few weeks, and will drive so we can have more control over our schedule! We’ll probably bring Nina next time, too – she won’t want to leave. :)

      Like

  3. Love the pics! So glad you and the Mister found some time for just you! I miss traipsing around the South Loop with you and Joy Yee’s!!

    Like

    • I miss our days in the South Loop, too! And I still remember the pineapple boats and bubble teas at Joy Yee’s. There are five or six locations now in the city and ‘burbs, but the one in Chinatown will always be my favorite.

      Like

    • This is about 10% of what I took – most of them didn’t turn out because I didn’t want to stop walking, or hog the sidewalk, or they had random people in them. Love digital photos, love the Delete button!

      Like

  4. Lady! This writing is the best I’ve ever read from you. Seriously, what’s up? Something’s different. Is it just vacation magic? I don’t know, but whatever’s going on . . . girl, seize it! Such a pleasure to read and I am so happy for you!

    Like

Comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s