The Beginning (The Badlands and Driving 2500 Miles in Four Days)

As promised, I’m back and better than ever with my newly focused Petite Kitchn. I just arrived at Jackson Lake Lodge yesterday and am still getting settled. Driving so much in four days is incredibly taxing even though you’re just sitting on your ass. My mom and I trekked across I-80 through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and finally Wyoming. Our major stops were at the Flight 83 Memorial in Pennsylvania and the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

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The Flight 83 Memorial was intense. It is easy to forget about the other two flights that were involved with 9/11. Obviously the most deaths occurred in NYC but it was meaningful to go somewhere and see the great appreciation for the other heroes of that day, the 33 passengers and flight attendants who managed to bring the plane down rather than have it hit Congress. With the ongoing construction of the memorial, I hope that their bravery is never forgotten.

The Badlands were absolutely breathtaking, but in a different way. At this point in my life I have gone to 13 of the National Parks and each time I am impressed by how diverse they are. Badlands stuck out the most to me because of its prehistoric history — parts of the park are 35 million years old. The Wall (the primary rock formation) creates an eerie skyline that seems so out of place in the flatness of South Dakota. While the Grand Tetons certainly stand out with their pure beauty, the Badlands was awing in just its existence.

I’ve added some of my pictures here from my iPhone. I’ve started using my Canon again but haven’t quite figured out what cord is necessary to get the pictures onto my laptop. When I do, I’ll add the rest of the higher res ones.

Next time I’ll talk about my arrival at the Grand Tetons and what it means to work in a National Park, having worked in one about 24 hours now.

The Badlands, featuring part of The Wall

The Badlands, featuring part of The Wall

The Badlands, featuring the Back Door

The Badlands, featuring the Back Door

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Badlands

The Grand Tetons National Park

The Grand Tetons National Park

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Transitions

Over the past three years I’ve maintained this blog, sometimes more frequently than others, but it has always been a food blog. However, with my departure for the next phase of my life coming quickly (ten days as of May 13) I have decided to take Petite Kitchn in a different direction.

I am moving to Moran, Wyoming for five months to work at Jackson Lake Lodge, a guest resort in the Grand Tetons. My exact job title is “Corral Wrangler” which basically means I will be taking care of the horses on the property as well as taking guests out on trail rides. I will be living with a roommate, enjoying communal bathrooms, and subsisting on a meal plan. The way I see it, it’s going to be something like an adult summer camp.

While I will still blog about food, my main focus will be living in the West, working with the horses and guests, posting pictures of the Grand Tetons, and other musings about life. It has always been my plan to wean myself off social media while I’m there so starting next Sunday I will begin deleting my accounts (Twitter first, then Facebook, then maybe Instagram though I might keep this one for pictures). Thus this blog will become my main point of contact when it comes to telling people about my trip. I want to use my time in Wyoming to its max — writing short stories, tweaking my five year plan, getting in touch with nature. The less distractions the better, and social media tends to be my greatest distraction.

So while I’m at Jackson Lake Lodge let me know what topics you might be interested in hearing about. At this moment I have no idea what to expect, which is similar to how i felt about college. I ended up loving Baltimore so much and I hope to return someday. So anything could happen.

Next week I will post about my three day road trip out to Wyoming and then bi-weekly after that — I’ll decide the exact days once I get a better feel of my schedule.

So until then, prepare yourself for something a little different!

The Terrorist Attack on Boston and My Pledge

It is a rarity that I ever do two posts in one day, but in response to the recent events in Boston I felt it necessary to say a few words. As many of you know I am from Cape Cod, a short drive to Boston, which I have always considered my city. I know the streets and the T well and many of my friends and family live there. I am sure all of you have heard of the terrorist attack on Boston today, targeting the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a timeless tradition of my city. One of my best friends ran in it and I am so thankful that she finished before the attack. However, this does not alleviate the pain of the 141 injured and two killed, including an 8 year old boy.

I am not going to focus on the anger I feel towards whoever felt it necessary to disrupt such a beautiful moment as crossing the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles, coming towards a cheering crowd. Instead I want to appreciate the prayers and thoughts that have poured out to Boston today; never has my newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter ever made me miss home so much or feel so proud of where I come from. I am especially proud and gracious to the policemen, firemen, marathon personnel and the bystanders who took action immediately to help the injured. Considering the enormity of the annual event, the consequences could have been much greater without their incredible efforts.

A marathon is test of human strength. Today it also became a test of humanity. I have never been a runner, never been able to push past 5 miles without giving up. But I know the runners today overcame much more than my petty asthma and tendonitis to run the Boston Marathon, and now 141 will be forced to overcome even more. So I have decided to train for the Cape Cod Marathon that comes in the Fall to honor the victims and all people affected by this tragedy. I feel that this is a respectable way to pay my respects to the athletes who worked so hard for today and traveled from all over the world to the beautiful city of Boston.

All my love is in Boston tonight. Thank you to everyone who feels the same.

Portland Farmer’s Market – A Guest Post

This week I welcome back Becca, my guest blogger from December (here’s her first post, Tour of the Freshmen Cafe). Today she writes about cooking while at home in Oregon, and gives us her recipe for her veggie saute using ingredients from a local farmer’s market. Baltimore has lots of farmer’s markets, unfortunately none of which I’ve managed to get to (mostly because the only one within walking distance closes by 12 on Saturday. I’m usually still sleeping). Hopefully I’ll get myself over there soon and get a review! Now here’s Becca:

This blog post has been in the works since the holiday break! Sorry Liza for being a lazy guest poster!

I was home over break studying for the MCAT, which I didn’t even end up taking, though it drove me completely insane. Though I was going crazy with stress, I did very much enjoy being home in Portland, OR, and enjoying the company of my family and friends, as well as presence of what I’m still convinced is the BEST farmer’s market scene in the whole entire world.

My mom, sister, and I have a tradition of making a farmer’s market run every Sunday to load up on our week’s fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s become more than a “grocery run” but rather a fun way for the three of us to spend quality time together. With my sister in school in New York, my parents living in Portland, OR, and myself in school in Baltimore, it’s rare we are all together in one place. We make a morning of our farmer’s market trips…loading up on gluten free treats at our favorite bakery stand and eating them with coffee at the park next to the parking lot the farmer’s market makes shop in.

We always end up leaving the market with bags and bags full of local, fresh apples, seasonal berries, and assorted vegetables. My mom is the sauteed veggie master and her skills along with the remarkable fresh vegetables we get weekly combine to make one of my favorite dishes….a simple veggie saute:

brussel sprouts
chopped butternut squash
red beets
rosemary
olive oil
salt
pepper

Put all chopped and uncooked veggies in a big mixing boil and apply olive oil liberally, add rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour into wok pan and allow to satee on high heat until tender (normally 10ish minutes). SUPER EASY!vegetable saute, farmers market, portland vegan, vegan cooking

You can seriously use any veggies…but make sure they are as fresh as possible! This makes the dish!

Now that I’m back at school, fending for myself on the food front, I miss my mom’s cooking more than ever! I also can’t tell you how much I miss my hometown of Portland and it’s amazing farmer’s markets and fresh food I become accustomed to. If you ever make it to the west (BEST) coast, make sure to check out the farmer’s market scene…it’s rampant all up the coast.

It’s always nice to hear about vegan cooking from all over the states. As always, if any of my readers are interested in doing a guest post for the Vegan Collegiate, just email me at vegancollegiate@gmail.com with your idea!

Happy eating!

Vegan on Vacation Part 2

Sadly Spring Break 2013 is drawing to a close, just as my skin finished peeling and my tan finally started to get legitimate. But I go back to Baltimore with a full stomach from lots of delicious food so that’s all that really matters right? Good thing because I doubt I’ll even have time to eat with the amount of work waiting for me back at the Hop.

I picked out a couple of meals to share with all of you to illustrate my dining experience while in Florida. For breakfast everyday I just had a bagel with jelly so that’s pretty unexciting. Lunch usually consisted of something by the beach; I ate at Quinn’s at the Marco Island Marriott twice. Once I had the Marco Island Salad, which was amazing, and the next time I had the Black Bean and Quinoa burger, which was less than exciting. But more on the salad. It was a mix of lettuce, mango, red pepper, sliced almonds and banana nut croutons, with a papaya seed vinaigrette. The vinaigrette in itself was delicious, not overly sweet but flavorful enough to complement the mango and red peper well. The mangos were perfectly ripe, but what really stole the show were the croutons. They tasted like mini banana bread loaves and were so incredibly delicious that when I went back and got the burger I had my mom order the salad just so I could steal them. A good banana bread to me isn’t too sugary and desserty, which croutons obviously aren’t, so the combination of the two made for a perfect topping.

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A less stellar meal I had was a take out vegetarian burrito from Nacho Mama’s on Marco. Granted I know it can be difficult for Mexican restaurants to make an interesting burrito that differentiates themselves from others. But Nacho Mama’s hadn’t even seemed to try. I asked for jalapenos and instead of including them in the burrito they just gave me little container with a max of ten. It cost me 75 cents extra on top of what was already an 11 dollar meal. Instead of having their own hot sauce they included little generic packets in the take out bag. Basically it came down to being some sauteed peppers and onions wrapped in a tortilla. I could have made it myself for under a dollar.

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But in a turn for the better we stumbled upon another restaurant in at the Marriott called Kurrents. I was a bit hesitant at first because the only thing they listed that I could eat was a “Vegetarian Option.” When we got there they informed us that it was tofu with cauliflower and mushrooms. Although it didn’t sound like much it ended up being the best meal of the trip. The cauliflower was in some kind of sauce that made it seem creamy, the mushrooms were fresh and the tofu was perfectly grilled. And for those of you who are non vegan readers, my parents equally loved their meals. Not to mention the service was impeccable; when my dad received an appetizer with bad tuna he sent it back the manager came over and apologized, offered free dessert and continually checked in for the rest of the meal to make sure everything was perfect.

tofu

I hope you all had as restful a week as I did. Now back to the grindstone… Get ready for my ice cream recipe coming up this week!

Now For Something A Little Different – Talk About Vegan Criticism

I’ve decided to bring you a different kind of post today. Partly because I think it’s good to switch up for recipes all the time and partly because the chocolate pumpkin cookies I tried to make this week were a failure. Oh well, it happens to the best of us. Get ready for something really good next week (haven’t figured what this will be yet but it’ll be awesome I promise).

So instead I’m going to talk about a different aspect of the vegan lifestyle. That is, how people react when you tell them you’re vegan. I think this may be one of the hardest aspects to overcome in order to remain vegan. There was something really exciting in telling people about my diet change 9 months ago (how the time flies). But as soon as I started to hear feedback I felt very defeated. Rarely did I get a positive comment, like “Wow, that’s really great! Congratulations!” Or even “I’m really impressed you’re able to do that.” More often then not people would comment on how it was pointless, or didn’t accept my reasons for going plant based, and some even tried to bribe me to stop. I’m proud to say I’ve never succumbed to that kind of peer pressure, even when one of my good friends offered me some Pretzel M&Ms, promising he wouldn’t tell anyone if I had some.

Now I’m not going to say that every response was negative. There are a few who were very encouraging, and even my parents have made a valid effort in accommodating me. I know there are times when it is inconvenient to people for me to be vegan, but I always try to explain that if I can’t eat something at one dinner that doesn’t mean I’ll forever be starving.

So how does one deal with criticism? I usually try to approach the situation in a way that I’m not trying to argue back but instead just explain its my decision and I really love it. I’m not torturing myself or punishing myself or anything, this is my choice and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But if people keep pressing I am willing to defend myself. People usually criticize my diet based on lack of knowledge. I point them in the direction of documentaries that helped me in my transition (either Forks Over Knives or Vegucated, both available on Netflix). I explain to them I feel so much healthier. When they attack aspects of being plant based, like that I don’t get enough iron or protein I show them how I do. The best way to deal with ignorance is education.

Now I don’t mean to seem preachy in this post but I want to let me fellow vegans know that we all have to deal with the nonbelievers and that there are good ways to go about talking about being plant based. Here’s a few other great bloggers who have posted about this topic:

Happy Herbivore

Healthy Happy Life

Cadry’s Kitchen

Keepin’ it Kind

Just remember, you’re doing this for you, don’t let what other people think change the fact that it is healthier to be vegan.

I hate posting things without pictures so here are some random shots from the “snow” day we had yesterday here in Baltimore.

 

 

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The Final(s) Week

I’m sure all of you college readers out there are suffering the same thing as me right now: Finals Week. (Of course, if you’re a friend of mine you know it’s actually my first day in the lib since the beginning of reading period. Oops.) Hence the lack of posts, of which I am sorry. But one week until I go home, and just wait until I have a full kitchen to work in. But for now here is one for all you procrastinators.

I think the best time to cook is when it’s for someone else. So when my sorority pham decided to have a dinner together before we all went our separate ways, I jumped at the chance to make something. I’m so lucky to have a group of friends who are willing to put up with my restricted diet, especially considering two of the six of us are gluten free.

So of course I had to do something vegan, gluten free, and fast. Since I don’t have an oven for myself I headed to my friend’s apartment early to whip something up before everyone else arrived. What’s an easy, comforting meal to help everyone through finals? Potatoes of course. So I grabbed some potatoes, a few sprigs of rosemary and a healthy helping of salt and pepper and considered it a success.

Delicious comfort food

Delicious comfort food

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients:

10-15 small, purple potatoes (I’m not sure exactly how much they ended up weighing so as usual I apologize for this being vague)

3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves cut off and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Chop up potatoes into bite sized pieces and place into a baking tray.

3. Drizzle on olive oil and stir the potatoes around until they are all covered in olive oil.

4. Sprinkle on rosemary, salt and pepper.

5. Cook in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Here are a few pictures from the feast… one of my friends made quinoa salad with corn, black beans and mushrooms. Another brought cooked carrots that sadly weren’t vegan. My Turkish friend brought Turkish rolls, but they had cheese in them :(. And my other friend brought roasted squash that was fabulous. Needless to say I ate way too much. Oh well, it’s finals week.

The full spread

The full spread

Sweet, roasted squash

Sweet, roasted squash

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

 

 

Thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to comment or e-mail me questions at vegancollegiate@gmail.com… I have a post coming up answering some questions for readers.

Tour of the Freshmen Cafeteria (Guest Post!)

Today I have a special guest post from one of my friend’s on campus. Over the next few weeks I will be doing vegan reviews of the places to eat on campus. What better way to start it off than with a senior going back to the freshman cafeteria. It’s also great to have someone else’s perspective on vegan eating, especially someone who is still making the transition. Enjoy!

Hi, I’m Vegan Collegiate’s senior friend! I am honored to have an opportunity to write for her and share some of my passion for food and healthy living!

Today some of our cute freshie friends offered to take us back to this place of our so called, “youth”. OHHHH to be young again! As a senior, there are definitely a few things I miss about being an underclassman. However, nothing quite sums up freshman year

like the freshman cafeteria. Oh yes, the epicenter of the freshman social scene, the location in which all chow down, and most of all, that of freshman sexual tension. I will never quite forget when I spotted my first college crush… sweaty after a grueling pre-season football game, as he nommed down on 5 slices of pieces, 3 chicken legs, a hamburger, and a large side salad drowning in Ranch Dressing, ohhh and I can’t forget two plates of French fries. I was smitten. Yes, those endless French fries aided in his solid weight gain I noticed as I creeped on him in the cafeteria. That said, I also fell victim to those freshman 15. Every meal became an event…first course, second course, third course….on and on! And then, one more plate of French fries!

Upon entering, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. So many memories! Since my freshman year, so much had also changed in the cafeteria, specifically on the food front. I was thrilled to see so many vegan options! Though I only tested out being vegan for a month (my steady streak was broken by the temptation of a Thanksgiving feast) I still try to make conscience decisions to eat more vegan meals.

In my total of four trips back and forth to the self-serve cafeteria stations I acquired quite a spread. My vegan coconut carrot soup was the delicious beginning to a HUGE hearty salad! YUMMMM. And sautéed mushroom with rice was also much enjoyed! Yes, the pizza and chicken wings still prevailed, yet if you look between the cracks I was amazed at the outcome of my meal. Taking veggies from different stations proved to be a great way to make an interesting sald. I.e. the Asian sautéed broccoli from the Asian station was a yummy addition to the barbequed carrots and peppers I was delighted to find at the grill station.

Freshman Throwback... So many options

Freshman Throwback… So many options

So many people think it’s too difficult to hold onto special dietary choices in college, but today’s experience really made me realize what a blessing a cafeteria could be to a vegan. There were so many different options (the sweet and sour tofu was delish). Yes, I could imagine the soup and salad bar would get old fast, but a trip to the sandwich bar loaded with fresh veggies, or a meatless stir-fry could do just the trick. I admit the fact that I’m not eating at the freshman caf for every meal, dramatically alters my opinion on it’s quality, thus, I had a very enjoyable experience both on the food front, and in getting back in touch with that freshman still within me. Plus—there were definitely some cute freshman boys!

Just to let all my other readers know if you’re ever interested in writing a guest post just e-mail me at vegancollegiate@gmail.com… I’d love to get lots of different perspectives on here, especially non-vegan ones.

Getting Started

In reality the name of this post should be Getting Started: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. Of course that isn’t a very positive outlook on my rapid transition to veganism. It actually started last year when I had been in college for about a month when suddenly all my friends’ parents went vegan back at home. All did it for health reasons, yet if you had met the group you would’ve been shocked. One father was, and still is, an avid hunter. But the group had come to the realization that their diets heavy in animal byproducts was increasing their chances for heart attack exponentially. It was when my own father decided to try the vegan fad that I also converted too.

Of course, the adult group lasted about a month but even in that short amount of time the change was incredible. Their cholesterol plummeted, they all lost significant weight, and each felt healthier than they had in a long time. I managed to stick with it for about two months, long enough to experience a vegan Thanksgiving, but once Christmas break rolled around I had called it quits as well.

Looking back I’m still not sure why I stopped. It may have been the stress of coming home to a completely carnivorous home or my cravings for Nutella had just become too strong. Yet I do realize I was in a completely different mindset back then as opposed to now. Last year I had gone vegan mostly as a weight loss plan (although to be clear it did not help me lose weight), and I saw it as a passing diet, not a life change. This time I decided to go vegan for life. Getting rid of a deadline makes it that much easier to maintain this lifestyle.

So one day in June I decided it was time to try again. One day I was eating anything I wanted, the next day I had made a vegan bread pudding for my parent’s anniversary. I don’t believe that anyone else could have as easy as a transition as I did. My parents were supportive and put up with my random requests for groceries, most of which are still sitting in my pantry (but more on that in a later post). But back to what I first said about the title of this post. My friends and extended family really struggled with my change. It was almost as if I was asking them to do the same, yet I told everyone up front that I felt no disgust towards people who weren’t vegan and I didn’t expect anyone to do it with me. But nevertheless people seemed to get frustrated just in the fact that I had to ask the waitress if there was dairy in the salad dressings.

All I can say on this is that people will eventually get used to it. You might become the “vegan friend” but as long as you make it clear that whatever burden they believe being vegan is, you carry yourself alone, people begin to feel less upset about it. The best advice I can give is to just stick with it no matter what. Inevitably people will get used to it, begin to support you, and I’ve found now people actually want to try my vegan food.

Just last night my friend tried a vegan Italian sausage, which did not go over so well with her. But she also had the banana bread and loved it. Patience is and always will be a virtue.

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Vegan

Hello all! I know, many of you saw the title of this blog and immediately thought… oh no here is another hippie college student who is trying to convert the world to veganism. In fact I am none of those things, except a college student of course. I am a rising sophomore at the Johns Hopkins University, a horseback rider, a sorority member, a writer, and of course, a vegan. This blog is dedicated to my attempt at survival through college, dealing with vegan road bumps and other obstacles.

Now let’s be honest – being vegan is hard. No matter how many vegan blogs I follow or how many recipes I try to get through, it doesn’t get easier. And as a side note I am no chef. But I believe practice makes perfect, and this blog will chronicle my success but also my failures in the vegan kitchen.

So what can you plan to find on this blog? A simplified vegan. I don’t want to spend hours searching for random ingredients in far off whole food stores. I want easy, fast recipes that are low fat, delicious, and include ingredients that I can find at the local Giant supermarket. I’ll also include product reviews and other anecdotes about my college experience.

Just to be clear, very few of the recipes I feature on this blog will be my own original. But I will be sure to always properly credit those who came up with them, while highlighting any changes I have made. I also find it important to point out that I am vegan only in the food I eat. I am not going to lecture on living a minimalist lifestyle, or why the treatment of animals in the food industry is horribly fucked up. This is just a little insight into the life of a Vegan Collegiate.