Friday, March 26, 2021

I've moved back!

Kind of. I am shutting down the custom domain and will try to find a way to import the nine years of recipes and blog posts over here. That...will take a while. But that's okay. It's really only important to me. There are quite a few recipes and notes I want to remember plus the many wonderful trips I've documented online as well. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm moving!

It's not all pretty yet, but I'm moving to lesleyeats.com! I'm saying goodbye to the bunny and the lettuce, but I'll still be eating plenty of rabbit food. So please update your feeds, bookmarks, and whatever else and join me over there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vegan dining in Memphis

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has a nice feature on vegan dining options in Memphis. Be sure to read not just the article, but the comments as well. Certainly, some comments--like those on just about every newspaper site--are, um, unhelpful but a number offer a couple of other options.

I grew up in Memphis, so I'm happy to see that not only are vegetarian options expanding (I had some difficulty when I moved back in 2000 as a new vegetarian) but that there are vegan options, too. I'm disappointed that Imagine Cafe has chosen primarily to make vegan versions of traditionally critter-centric foods, but I suppose that's either what they like to eat or they think it will be the best way to get non-vegans in the door. But my experience has been that non-veg*ns are best converted with foods that really taste great but are also (hey!) veg*n. Prime example: Pure Food & Wine in New York City. Y'know, except without the hefty price tag.

But I'm really glad to see Fuel Cafe getting some love. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan. So if you're in Memphis or are going for a visit, try to give some of these guys a try.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Morgan of Nashvillest for noting that I Love Memphis blog just posted "11 Ways To Eat Meat-Free in Memphis" yesterday. I missed that and it is a fantastic list. It's got a list of vegan and vegetarian (often shortened to "veg*n," if you've ever wondered what that means). Though I'd like to note a few vegetarian favorites of mine that didn't get mentioned:

1. Panda Garden--fantastic vegetable soup and you can get spring rolls vegetarian if you request them. It's nice that they're made to order. And they're baby-friendly.

2. Raffe's Deli--the Veggie Delight is my favorite; it's just a muffuletta without the meat and a few things added. Their falafel is wonderful, too.

3. The Majestic Grille--several veg*n-friendly items and adding more all the time. Their french fries are small, crisp and delicious. Be sure to get them. Also, this place is baby-friendly.

4. Memphis Pizza Cafe--one of the places I miss most.

5. Okay, there are just too many to list and so many new places! Coming soon, I hope: a review of Three Angels Diner. In short: Memphis is getting more veg-friendly, despite being the barbecue capital of the world. And despite what you read in the comments section of commercialappeal.com.

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Whole Foods Market in Franklin--Grand Opening May 18th

Yesterday, I took a tour of the new Whole Foods Market in Franklin, Tennessee with the Nashville Food Bloggers. The new store is a significant upgrade over the old one with more floor space expanded offerings, and most importantly for local lunchers, a much larger hot/cold bar and prepared foods area.

Along with the usual sections you'd expect in a new Whole Foods (cheese, sustainable seafood, bulk foods, grind-your-own nut butters), it's got something I've never seen before--bulk herbs, spices, and seasonings that you can buy in any amount. As in, if you only need a teaspoon of, say, kelp granules or juniper berries for a special recipe (and you don't want to buy a lot), you can! I haven't seen this at the Green Hills Whole Foods, but I'll look closer next time since it's more convenient to where I live. Because that is a really neat concept.

Bulk seasonings
Another feature is their Health Starts Here section that employs "Healthy Eating Specialists" to help customers make informed choices and will highlight dishes and meals made with the Health Starts Here principles, one of which is that each meal should have a majority of plant-based foods. I definitely support that.


And yet another great convenience for those who work or live in the Cool Springs area is that the store will be hosting the Franklin Farmers Market on Tuesdays throughout the summer from 3pm until 6:30pm. Additionally, WFM carries a number of items and food from local sources so if you have a product you'd like to sell, just contact the department manager who will direct you on the way to get your product in the store.

The old WFM in Cool Springs closes at the end of the day today and the new store at 1566 West McEwen Drive (on the southwest corner with Mallory Lane) opens at 7:30am Wednesday morning with free breakfast and a grand opening at 9am.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Generous Helpings May 19th

Friends, if you missed Iron Fork last month (and if you did, I'm sure you're regretting it), don't despair! You have another chance to attend a great food event, benefitting a great cause.


Generous Helpings--a wonderful event benefitting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee--is coming up next week and you can still get tickets for just $40 each here. Or buy them for $50 each at the door the night of the event at the Nashville Farmers Market.

Once again, many of the city's restaurants will be serving tastings including one of my favorites from Iron Fork, Perl Catering, plus Holland House, Miel, Watermark, tayst, Amerigo, Park Cafe, Porta Via and many, many more.


It's going to be a great event. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A tale of two failures

A Tale of Kale

I'd read several posts about kale chips and how wonderful they are, so when I saw some nice-looking kale at the farmers market, I bought a bag.

I was a bit apprehensive; I don't like cooked greens much at all. I'll eat chard if someone more qualified than I am prepares it, but even slightly warm spinach makes me gag. But the raves!

So I washed it, tore it into bite-size chunks and towel-dried each individual piece (note: would have been easier to dry and then tear apart). I tossed it with a little olive oil and placed a baking sheet full of it in my 350° oven. I checked it at 12 minutes. Not crispy yet. And at 14 minutes. Nope. And then at 16 minutes. Crispy! So I pulled it out salted it lightly and waited a minute for it to cool. I was going to eat healthy cooked greens that taste good!

Ha ha, no. After all that, I discovered that these cooked dark greens still tasted like cooked dark greens even when they're crispy and salty. In other words, yuck. If you like kale or if you have a lot of it you just really need to use and eat, then by all means, go on ahead and make you some kale chips. But I don't. This batch of kale chips when right into the compost. Not even Mr. Eats--who is not terribly picky--didn't care for them.

A Tale of Bread
In preparation for a trip back home to Memphis, I started the dough for some no-knead bread to take to my mother (she loves it). I know the recipe by heart. I made it up and the following day, poured it out on my generously-floured towel to fold a couple of times. But it was a wet, soggy mess. Huh? Did I forget the third cup of flour? I kept adding more flour and kneading the dough in hopes of salvaging it. I got it to the consistency I was familiar with and set it aside to rise again. Two hours later, no. So I made a new batch. The following day, it looked great, but I poured it out and it was again a soggy mess.

Have I forgotten how to read? Count? Sure, we were in the midst of several days of nasty, relentless rain, but I'd never read any notes about this dough being picky about humidity. But it was if the water was multiplying in the mix instead of the air. I tried my best with it but again, it would not rise an appreciable amount on the second rise. I cooked it anyway and it came out like a giant, hard focaccia (which I have unintentionally made before). The yeast is not bad. I can only assume that this bread is just not meant to be made when the air is thick with water. Which--here in Nashville--means I may not be making this bread again until October.

And so today, as I look outside at yet another day of rain I wonder what to make in my kitchen. Something that is supposed to be wet, that's for sure. Soup.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Iron Fork Nashville

Last week, I attended my third (of four) Iron Fork Nashville events! It's such a wonderful event--your ticket gets you a ton of food samples from the area's finest restaurants and caterers plus three drinks from the bar. However, the bartender was generous with the ThreeFour Roses bourbon, so I actually only used just one of my drink tickets!

There were a lot of new faces this year; not just among the restaurants, but among the contestants as well. A new addition this year, Perl Catering actually served one of my favorite dishes--a caramelized onion bisque. And there were lots of other great vegetarian options: Finezza, Urban Flats, Wild Iris, Mambu, Provence, and Rumba as well as desserts from Hot & Cold (Mexican caramel paleta dipped in chocolate!) and Cupcake Collection (the city's best cupcakes). I left quite satisfied.

This year's mystery ingredient was green almonds, which a lot of us had mis-heard as green olives. Certainly, the competition was harder with the former rather than the latter. Chris Chamberlain--one of the judges--gives a great description of all the competitors' dishes on the Nashville Scene's BITES blog. I was too busy sampling and socializing to pay much attention to the competition! But I did get a few pictures:


The contestants right in the middle of the action

The wonderful ladies at Finezza serving vegetarian pasta salad and tiramisu--yum!

Me and my new best friend, Tiffany Derry from Top Chef/Top Chef Masters and blogger Beth of Eat.Drink.Smile and her friend, Leslie
The event is a lot of fun and proceeds benefit the Martha O'Bryan Center. Well worth the $40 per ticket. If you're sorry you missed this, then you should definitely think about going to one or both of two more great food events coming up: Generous Helpings on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at the Farmers Market (again--tickets are just $40 per person and will include more food than you can ever hope to eat from the city's best restaurants--buy tickets here) which benefits the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and then  Taste of Music City on Saturday June 4, 2011 (buy tasting tickets for each booth for as little as $1 each in advance) which benefits (hey, whaddyaknow) the Martha O'Bryan Center.

Whew, that's a lot of great food. I'm glad to know that all of these events are vegetarian-friendly, too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chewy Lemon Cookies

I love lemons and lemon flavor. Just about anything lemon--lemon pound cake, lemon squares, lemon cookies, lemonade. You name it--if it's lemon, I probably love it. So I was looking for a lemon cookie to make and this recipe popped up. I've made a few changes, most notably the name. Yes, they are zesty, but the thing I love most about these cookies is that they are chewy! And very sweet and tart and lemony all at once. Like a little drink of lemonade in a cookie. Or a drink of sunshine. I absolutely love this cookie and if you like sweet and dainty lemon cookies, you will too.



Chewy Lemon Cookies
adapted from Zesty Lemon Cookies by Lesli Neilson of the Salt Lake Tribune via Real Mom Kitchen
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 eggs
• The zest of one fresh lemon (~1 teaspoon but more is good)
• The juice of one fresh lemon (~1/4 cup)
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• Powdered sugar for dusting

Cream butter and sugar with your mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well on low speed after each. Add in lemon juice and zest and blend again. Add baking powder and flour and mix well. Set dough in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until edges are firm with no color, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.

Yields about 3 dozen standard-size cookies, but I made about six dozen silver dollar size cookies.
Tips:
• Zest your lemon before you juice it.
• If you want perfectly round cookies, chill your dough well so that you can shape your dough into balls. Use a melon baller if you have one.
• You don't have to line your baking sheets, but the bottoms will be much prettier and they're a lot easier to remove!
• I have a lovely German teaspoon (for loose tea) that I used to dust the cookies, but you can use a sifter or a fine strainer. Be sure the cookies have cooled or the powdered sugar will melt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Product Review: Tandoor Chef Vegetable Pad Thai

Recently, I was contacted by a representative of Tandoor Chef to see if I'd like to try out some of their line of frozen appetizers, naans and entrees. Of course I would! I love Indian food so I was eager to give some a try. I was particularly interested in the frozen dosas, naans and paneer tikka masala.


Unfortunately, my local grocery carries exactly one vegetarian product from their vast line of offerings: vegetable pad thai. Which is not only not a dosa (what I really wanted), but not even Indian.

Nevertheless, I picked it up and brought it home for a try.

I really like Thai food, too though I rarely opt for the pad thai (it usually comes with egg) but this pad thai is egg-free and suitable for vegans. However, I'm familiar enough with the standard product to give a review. My thoughts? Well, it's not the best pad thai I've ever had, but it's pretty good for a frozen entree. The freezing process wasn't kind to the aesthetics of the vegetables, but the taste was just fine. And the peanut flavor was really good and not too spicy (though it has a little kick). Another thing to like about the pad thai is it's part of their new "Balanced Vegetarian" meals (reduced sodium, higher in protein and fiber, and have zero trans fats). That doesn't mean it's low-cal (nearly 500 calories and 19g of fat), but they're better fat and calories than in a typical frozen meal. And likely a LOT less in fat and calories than the pad thai at your local Thai restaurant.

So if you're looking for a lunch option that's a little bit different and you don't mind everyone around you knowing that you're having Thai food (it is quite aromatic! and heavy on the onions for my taste), give it a try. And if you happen to be lucky enough to live near a grocery that has the naans or the dosas, let me know if you've tried them and how they taste!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Morsels Cafe

Tanisha Hall--known for Fleur de Lis Flavors, the wonderful snow cones at the Nashville Farmers' Market--has revamped the Morsels Cafe at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. It's now only the second certified kosher cafe in town (behind Grins on the Vanderbilt Campus). And it's not just kosher--it's vegetarian. Check out the story about Morsels Cafe in The Tennessean.

Hey, we're moving in the right direction. We just need some vegetarian cafes in more easily accessible places! (Shame-filled admission: I've never been to Grins.)

Congratulations and good luck to Tanisha in this new venture!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mark your calendars--upcoming events in Nashville

There are a lot of worthy causes with some fantastic fundraisers in Nashville, but it seems that the Martha O'Bryan Center is the benefactor of the some of the very best food-related events the city. Or, at least two of my favorites--Nashville Scene's Iron Fork Nashville and Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin'. And both are coming up soon, so mark you calendars.

I'm kind of an expert (ha!) about Iron Fork, having been in a couple of times. Last year was particularly fun since Mr. Eats's long-time friend Andy Hunter walked away with the top prize. Andy has since relocated to sunny Florida, so there's no defending champion this year. It's going to be a tough competition--all the chefs are fantastic and have made some of my favorite food. The competition takes place April 20, 2011 at the Country Music Hall of Fame from 6-10pm. Your $40 admission includes three drink tickets and samples of food from the area's finest restaurants. There were several good vegetarian options last year (and a LOT of really great sweets), so it's well worth the money. And it's a great time! Find out more information here.

And go ahead and clear the calendar for Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin' 2011. This year, the event takes place on June 12, 2011 from 3-5pm and will be on the grounds of  First Presbyterian Church at 4815 Franklin Road. Last year, advance tickets were just $10 and were VERY MUCH worth it. Mr. Eats, Baby Eats and I had a fantastic time and I can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A vegetarian in Gatlinburg

Typically, when I visit a new place, I scour yelp.com, urbanspoon.com and tripadvisor.com to find the best places to eat. I'm looking for that great local place or that hidden gem. So when my husband's family decided to gather in Gatlinburg, I looked to see what my options would be.

Well, it seems the non-chain options in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area are pretty much steak houses and pancake houses. Lots of both. But the steak houses are generally not veg-friendly (unless you like iceberg lettuce salads, which I do not) and the pancake houses aren't open past lunch. So. For dinner one night I had a PayDay and the other night a Clif bar. Though both were enjoyable, they're not photo-worthy. So, instead, I will post a picture of one of the many "entertainment" venues popular in the area.



Yes, it's an upside-down building. No, I don't know why.

So, if you go, I recommend renting a cabin up in the mountains and bringing your food with you. And/or ordering pizza.

This photo--of yet another popular "entertainment" option--is quite representative of when I intend to return to Gatlinburg.
That's right--flying pigs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A whirlwind of wonderful restaurant visits

I'm way behind on posting all of our outings over the past month or so. Apparently, we've had a lot of reasons to celebrate. Valentine's Day, Mr. Eats's birthday, got a babysitter day...we've had some wonderful meals. There is truly some great vegetarian (fine) food to be had in Nashville.

First up is Miel. We live nearby but have never been. The kind hostess was able to squeeze us in for a last-minute reservation the Saturday before Valentine's Day. We were excited because Deb Paquette, formerly of Zola is helping out in the kitchen.

I started with a favorite from Zola, the bowl of mixed olives, followed by the seasonal vegetable plate. It was a lovely plate with red carrots, roasted parsnips, a mixed salad, some broccolini and a lentil concoction. It was a pretty hefty plate of food--good and filling. Except I discovered I'm not much a fan of parsnips.

And we just had to get dessert and I opted for the trio of pots de creme, which I assume were prepared by pastry chef Angela Reynolds (who has celebrity fans). Even the capuccino flavor--not really a favorite of mine--was delicious. It just feels good to eat a good pot de creme. And I like Miel--it's a surprisingly quiet-but-not-too-quiet space and is very comfortable.

We also finally made it to Watermark. And in keeping with the Zola theme, we remembered our server from Zola. It was nice because he was understanding and helpful with my "dietary restrictions." Not that he needed to do much--my eye immediately went to the vegetarian special, a saffron risotto. There were some wilted greens and some spaghetti squash and roasted beets accompanying the risotto, but it was just about all I was interested in. It was as good as it sounds. Yum.

A note about Watermark--if you're looking for a really nice fine-dining option, this is the place. It's a wonderful place and the service is really fantastic.

And we (again--finally) made it to Holland House in East Nashville. I'd heard a lot about it--good things about the cocktails as well as the food. Definitely splurge on one of the specialty cocktails (the Warsaw Mule is fantastic). And were able to squeeze in during happy hour, so we got a few of the small plates to start off. I really enjoyed the fries, but the edamame-ponzu dip was a little off in context--I think it would work better in the summer with a beer. For dinner, I had the risotto with foraged mushrooms (I really like risotto) and it was delicious. The lighting is not great for food photography, but it was lovely to look at, too.

Though the dessert menu at Holland House was not really our thing, so we drove down the street to Allium, which I know will always have a great dessert selection. For Mr. Eats's birthday, he enjoyed a wonderful pistachio and chocolate mousse (um), tarte? I can't remember. I'd had several cocktails by then. But it was wonderful and exactly what he wanted. Interestingly, while at Allium, we noticed two other tables (including a large table) that we'd seen earlier at Holland House. I think they were doing drinks at Holland House and dinner at Allium. Huh. Maybe those guys need to partner up!