8/30/11

Restaurant Review: Good Eatz Cafe | West Reading, PA

Good Eatz in cute West Reading.
Menu in the window. How we would have loved the seitan logs. They were out.

Interior. Budget, cozy hippy with art for sale. Cleared house when we left.
Vegan tempeh ruben

Vegan Shepherd's Pie
Midnight Monkey Pie

When the husband and I travel, we like to dine at places that are vegan. You know that whatever you eat will not contain anything fishy (no pun intended) or be fried along a burger. When that's not an option, we will resort to places that have a dedicated vegan or vegetarian menu. Since our plans for an anniversary overnight date were kaibashed by Hurricane Irene, we spent the day in the Reading, PA area while his parents watched our two little ones. A Google search for vegan restaurants + Reading brought Good Eatz Green Cafe to our attention. They specialize in gluten-free, veg and healthy foods. We thought we'd give it a try.

I waitressed a lot in college. I know what need to be done as a server and I know what needs to be done on the management side to give the customer a pleasurable dining experience. This is a preface to my review, FYI. I shall move on.

Driving into West Reading, I was pleasantly surprised at how cute the town is--lots of little shops and brick town homes--and thought that yes, it makes sense that a place that has a veg menu exists here. What first struck me when we entered the café was how packed the place was! And yay! Free wi-fi. Always a great thing when you are traveling.

There were several things on the menu that appealed to us and we ordered... and then the waitress repeatedly came back to tell us they were out of what we ordered. Now, I know some people would fault the waitress and leave her a bad tip, but it's really the management's issue to keep the kitchen fully stocked to support your menu. Finally, after the waitress was utterly embarrassed, we settled on the vegan tempeh ruben and the vegan shepherd's pie. The ruben was a first choice, the pie, a fourth choice. The ruben was good, but not knock your socks off good. When you've had incredible rubens at places like Boneshakers in Brooklyn and Sprig and Vine in New Hope, PA, having one that is only OK seems like a let down. It was dry and needed more umpf. The shepherd's pie was also very dry and tasted as though it was frozen after it was made. Not inedible, but not re-order-on-another-visit material. Sigh... I so was hoping for something great, but all we got was passable. Staff was friendly and very apologetic about their lack of stock.

If you live in the PA area, you may have seen Good Eatz desserts at your local health food store. Not sure if the bakery or the cafe came first. Never able to pass up a vegan dessert, we shared a piece of Midnight Monkey Pie. A chocolate/banana/walnut vegan mousse. It was a bit granular (maybe ground walnuts in the mousse?) but super tasty and possibly healthy. It may have been raw and/or gluten free.

Overall, given the lack of veg choices in the area, I would go back and give them a second chance when we're visiting the in-laws. They had a packed house when we arrived, so they must be doing something right. Some advice though, when offering a veg menu, if you can't keep it in stock or make it fresh (maybe due to lack of veg orders?) then just have a few dedicated veg items on the menu. Quality over quantity is my moto!

Good Eatz Green Cafe
701 Penn Avenue
West Reading, PA, 19611
610-670-4885

8/29/11

Photo Essay: Reading, PA Pagaoda

Another anniversary pre-hurricane-fun-day-out-date activity: an unexpected stop to the Reading, PA pagoda. My husband is from Reading, PA and even though my family is from Massachusetts, there was a brief period where my dad worked in Reading, so as it turns out, my sister was actually born there too! Seems as though Mr. Scissors and I were fated for one another. Fitting that we spent our anniversary in our mutual karmic location.

PS: Super psyched that I scored a pagoda cookie cutter, pagoda t-shirt, and a large Japanese butterfly kite for my daughter (Shhh! It's for Christmas!) in the gift shop.

8/28/11

Photo Essay: Take the Honeymooners Bowling






Despite having to cancel our early (overnight!) 11th anniversary celebration because of the hurricane, Mr. Scissors and I managed to have a really great date day thanks to our in-laws who watched the kids for us. After 3 hours of bowling, my game went from great to horrible, while his went from OK to awesome.

8/25/11

Design Inspiration: Curious Packaging


I have no idea what was in this package at the Asian grocery, but the design geek in me wanted to buy it just for its looks!

8/24/11

Vintage Cookbooks: Cooking Clips, Recipe File





Vintage 3-ring binder for recipes and clips from magazines. Super awesome colors. illustrations and lettering.


8/23/11

Spice in the Kitchen: Quinoa with Roasted Beets and Chard

Yugoslavian enamel bowl! Goodwill score!
This quinoa can be served warm, but it's even better cold! Make ahead of time and dress just before serving. Earthy, sweet and tangy--all in one bowl!

Quinoa with Roasted Beets and Chard, dressed with an Orange Mint Vinaigrette Recipe
(vegan, gluten-free)
serves 4

Ingredients
  • 1 large or 4-5 small beets
  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
  • 4 cups swiss chard (stems removed and shredded into tiny pieces)
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped or shaved apples

Vinaigrette Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 TB orange rind
  • 3-4 TB orange juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1-2 TB of vinegar of your choice (just not balsamic!)
  • dash salt
  • dash black pepper


Directions
  1. Bake beets (with skins on, pierced and wrapped in foil) at 425 for about 1 hour or until beets are easily pierced by a fork. When done, remove skins and chop into tiny bits.
  2. Cook quinoa. In the final few minutes of cooking, add raisins and stir into quinoa. Let quinoa cool.
  3. While quinoa and beets are cooking, shred chard and blanch for a couple of minutes in boiling water. Drain.
  4. Make vinaigrette. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a food processor. Add water if too thick
  5. Combine quinoa and raisins, beets, chard and salt (to taste).
  6. When plating, top with almonds, apples and vinaigrette. Serve warm as a side dish or cold as a light lunch.

    8/22/11

    Beautiful

    Massive thunderstorms have been creating the most beautifully dramatic skies.

    Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Milanos!

    Milanos!
    Tip: Roll the logs of dough directly on the baking sheet.
    Tip: Flatten with spatula.
    The flattened cookie log! Peel it off and place on baking sheet.
    Baked Milanos. They are very much like a hard sugar cookie
    I used ganache instead of plain melted chocolate to fill the cookies.

    I have been wanting to try this recipe for vegan Milanos from Post Punk Kitchen for so long now and today seemed like a good day to finally do it!

    The dough was fairly easy to make and work with and when forming the cookies, I didn't need to flour my hands like the recipe suggests. What I learned after the first batch was to roll the balls of dough into logs on the cookie sheet (as opposed to your palms) and then flatten them with an oiled spatula (way easier than doing it with your hands). If you are not trying to make them look like Milanos, go easy on yourself and just make round circles. I made a ganache with a bit of orange zest for the filling instead of just the melted chocolate the PPK recipe calls for. One of my friends said they were better than Pepperidge Farm's Milanos. :) Thanks for the recipe, Isa!

    8/19/11

    Vegan, Gluten-free lunch

    Salad of arugula, shaved fennel, grilled asparagus, kalamata olives, pine nuts, and radishes with a light vinaigrette.

    8/18/11

    Spice in the Kitchen: Cannoli Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

    Cookie bowl! Cannoli flavored chocolate chip oatmeal cookies making friends with choco fudge cookies.



    The best tip I ever got from another blog was Vegan Dad's suggestion to freeze large batches of cookies. He would make a batch, freeze them and over the course of a week or two, dole them out in his kids' lunches. The cookies don't go stale and you don't go crazy eating dozens of cookies. Now, whenever I make a large batch, if I don't immediately use them or give them away, I freeze them in a large freezer bag.

    The other day, my husband had a meeting at work that was going to last for the better part of the day, so I sent him off with some of my cookie stash to keep everyone sugared up during the talks. In the bowl were my chocolate fudge cookies, and a new flavor, "Cannoli Chocolate Chip Oatmeal." What kind of flavor is that you ask? All the flavor elements make of a traditional cannoli, but in an oatmeal cookie! It wasn't what I intended it to be, but ended up being pretty fab.

    Cannoli Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Recipe (eggless, vegan-izable)
    makes 18-48 cookies (depending on size)

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup AP flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 cup butter (or vegan margarine)
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup full fat Greek yogurt (or thick vegan yogurt)
    • the zest of one navel orange
    • 1 TB cornstarch
    • 1 TB espresso powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Directions
    • Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    • In a small bowl, mix flour, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder and baking soda.
    • In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar, then add yogurt, cornstarch, orange zest and vanilla.
    • Combine wet ingredients with dry mixture. Add oats until just combined.
    • Fold in chocolate chips.
    • For super large cookies, use a 1/4 cup scoop (bake for about 14 minutes); for large cookies, use a 1/8 cup scoop (bake about 12 minutes); for politely sized cookies, 1 TB scoop (bake about 10 minutes). Flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch thick and shape. Cookies do not spread very much.
    • Cookies will be very soft when removed from oven. Let cool on sheet and then transfer to cookie rack with a spatula.

    8/17/11

    Thrifting: Left Behind but Not Forgotten


    I often find the coolest/funniest stuff while I am out thrifting. The old me would buy it and junk up my garage. The new me appreciates it, takes a picture and keeps walking.

    1) Sawed-off shut gun lamp! Perfect for a man-cave.
    2) Pheasant Soup Tureen. You'd pay $128 for that at Anthropologie!
    3) Vintage brushed cotton calico shirt. Ok, I did get this, but I thought it was a kid's shirt. Thank goodness for petiteness.
    4) Vintage toy fridge. Would be a super cool bookshelf for a kid's room, but come on Goodwill! You're not an antique store! $20? Puh-lease.
    5) Beautiful old sewing machine.
    6) Dress forms. Oh, how I wish I had a studio!

    Spice in the Kitchen: Leftover Fried Rice Salad

    Meals without wheat continues! It has been hard, but I feel great! Last night I made egg-less fried rice with baked tofu cubes and tons of veggies. I was too lazy to heat up the rice for lunch the next day, so I added a few cups of cold shredded cabbage and splashed in some rice wine vinegar. Wow. It was amazing! Great dish for a Asian-inspired pot luck or to use up your leftover fried rice.

    For a fried rice recipe, check out mine here. It's one of the first recipes I ever posted so please excuse it's amateur-ness.

    8/16/11

    Design Inspiration: Kids' Envelope Designs

    My daughter made a card for her aunty to thank her for unexpected visit and for giving the children presents. After I addressed the card, she asked if she could draw a picture on the envelope. When she gave it back to me, I was so excited at the cool patterns she made. I wish I had her innate talent.

    8/15/11

    Spice in the Kitchen: Heavenly Lemon Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

    I recently had to bake a large batch of cookies for a party so I asked some of my friends for suggestions on what type to make. It seemed like people were into fruit flavors and my bff suggested oatmeal, so I came up with this flavor combo. Several people independently said they were "heavenly." Well, why, thank you! Those types of compliments will get you more cookies!

    Heavenly Lemon Cherry Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chips Recipe
    (eggless, veganizable)
    makes 18-48 cookies (depending on size)

    Ingredients
    • 1 cup AP flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 3/4 cup butter (or vegan margarine)
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup full fat Greek yogurt (or thick vegan yogurt)
    • 1 TB cornstarch
    • 1 TB grated lemon zest (the zest one lemon, yellow part of skin only)
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1 cup of dried cherries (I use Trader Joe's Montmorency tart cherries.)
    • 1 cup white chocolate chips (Trader Joe's has a vegan version.)


    Directions
    1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. In a small bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda.
    3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar, then add yogurt, cornstarch, lemon zest and vanilla.
    4. Combine wet ingredients with dry mixture. Add oats until just combined.
    5. Fold in cherries and white chocolate.
    6. For super large cookies, use a 1/4 cup scoop (bake for about 14 minutes); for large cookies, use a 1/8 cup scoop (bake about 12 minutes); for politely sized cookies, 1 TB scoop (bake about 10 minutes). Flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch thick and shape. Cookies do not spread very much.
    7. Cookies will be very soft when removed from oven. Let cool on sheet and then transfer to cookie rack with a spatula.

    8/14/11

    Spotted: Best Stop Sign Ever, N. Brunswick, NJ

    You can't touch this!

    Photo Essay: This Beautiful, Busy Weekend


    1.) Made 4 dozen "Heavenly Lemon Cherry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip" cookies. Recipe up soon.


    2.) Heavenly Hindu ceremonies in New Jersey. Jaya Sri Radhe! Drive back home.


    3.) Driving back to NJ to witness a bris ceremony of cute baby Travis! Mazel Tov!


    4.) Spotted ye olde tyme beards.


    5.) Stuck in traffic for 3 hours. Made it home to dine at Su Tao and totally break my no wheat edge. Actually, the whole weekend was nibbles here and there. It was worth it. Back on the horse tomorrow. 


    6.) The clouds passed, leaving a beautiful sky.

    8/12/11

    Gluten-Free Vegan Lunches

    Incredibly AWESOME to-go raw burrito from Fresh Thymes in Wilmington, DE
    This whole no-sugar, no-cheese, no-gluten thing is going pretty well. I have been eating super healthy, and even though I get cravings for sugar, I have been fairly good! (Ok, I snuck a bite of a gluten-free cookie yesterday, but hey, I'm only human!)

    For lunch one day, I had some time to kill and headed over to Fresh Thymes for their raw burrito. Holy goodness! It was insanely good. I don't even think anyone could tell it was raw. The cashew sour cream was out of this world. So creamy and tangy. I've been seriously craving another one!

    Indian spiced chickpeas with spinach and Sharon's tomatoes

    Another gluten-free/vegan lunch was a super 5-minute quicky. Here's what I did:

    Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach and Tomatoes (vegan)
    serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 2 TB olive oil
    • 1.5 TB cumin powder
    • 1/2 TB corriander powder
    • 1 tsp hing (or 1 TB garlic)
    • 2 TB minced ginger
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    • salt and crushed black pepper to taste
    • 2 cups frozen spinach (This is what makes it easy! I use the Trader Joe's pesticide-free kind.)
    • 1 chopped tomato


    Directions

    1. In a large frying pan, heat oil and then add dry spices. Saute for a minute.
    2. Add chickpeas and stir. Add ginger, salt and pepper. Fry for a minute.
    3. Add spinach and saute.
    4. When spinach is cooked, add in tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes.
    5. Serve with a wedge of lemon. Easy, right? Quicker than going through the drive-thru at a busy McDonald's.