Here is a continuation of the post I began in November. This is Part II of the trip I took to the Florida Keys to teach a lovely woman named Jen the basics of vegan baking. Jen and her partner own this gorgeous B&B called Deer Run Bed and Breakfast, which I had the great opportunity to visit back in September. Here is Part II of my lovely experiences. You can check out Part I here.
(9/26) Day 4:
Today started off the same. Up at 7:30 am, coffee and pre-breakfast. Today was a Banana Walnut Muffin garnished with star fruit and strawberries.
|I love how she does these cute little place settings!|
It was still rainy so we had breakfast inside, which was good because it was crazy humid out! Breakfast was amazing! Jen really outdid herself. It consisted of the beautiful pineapple (one of my favorite fruits), homemade cornbread made with her homemade soymilk (that's for another time - it was lots of fun!), spicy roasted potatoes, and the best thing, mini Quiche in ramekins. That was crazy good! I believe it was Italian-style, and had layers of seasoned tofu, layers of garbanzo beans, daiya cheese, salsa, onions, spices, etc. It was very very tasty and again so filling. I feel like I have never eaten this well! I was incredibly ridiculously full today, but it was so worth it!
|Isn't this absolutely gorgeous?!|
I got the basic recipe for the quiche from Jen - I basically just scribbled as she dictated how she made the recipe. I really hope I can read it later - it's pretty illegible. She was also telling me a story about how she submitted the recipe to either Veg News or Vegetarian Times (I can't remember which one), they tested it and said it wasn't up to their standards. I was completely shocked. I'm not kidding-it was seriously that good! We both were convinced it was some kind of conspiracy because I cannot imagine anyone tasting it and not thinking it was amazing. Whatever!
After digesting a little more than usual, we were onto baking. Today we baked like maniacs again and made peanut butter and jelly scones, apple walnut scones, savory sundried tomato and herb scones (which we brushed with refined coconut oil (meaning it didn't taste or smell like coconut) and baked and were so buttery and delicious!) and brownies. By that time we were really feeling the sugar, which is crazy because at most we ate a couple bites of each item - never a whole scone, cupcake, etc. I suggested miso soup for lunch, because I remember when I was in the chef training program at NGI and we were doing the baking program and were so od-ing on sugar that we were almost comatose, the instructor prepared a giant pot of miso soup, and after eating giant bowls, we all felt much much better! It was amazing. Even though we hadn't been eating a huge amount, we were both feeling so tired and lethargic - I believe it was because we were ingesting the sugar as we were baking it, and it was going into our system that way.
SO, we ate the miso soup and had these little half-sandwiches filled with the hummus Jen made earlier in the week, tapenade, artichokes and roasted peppers. They were super tasty, and a nice savory end to the baking session that day.
|This was so damn tasty, with shiitake mushrooms & all!|
|The lighting inside definitely doesn't do these justice- they|
were crazy delicious!
Once we finished baking, we chilled out a little bit and decided to go out for dinner. It was still a bit rainy, but it was a good night. There really are not a lot of vegetarian, especially vegan options for eating out in her area, so we had to kind of go to special areas to see where we could eat. Then there was usually one or two things on the menu we could eat. It was a little different than what I am used to in NY, that's for sure. I have become really spoiled living here. If I'm hungry and don't want to cook, I can just call the local Asian veggie restaurant in the hood and they will deliver right to my door, with all kinds of tasty meat analogues. Or I could take the bus 15 minutes to Park Slope and have sooooo many veggie options there-there are tons of veg restaurants there!
But, back to Florida - it was such a gorgeous place and really inspired you to want to cook health supportively at home. Jen told me that there is a vegetarian restaurant in Key West that we will visit in a couple days, which I am very excited about. The place we went to today was called Parrotdise (funny name I know!). It was rainy like I said, so the view wasn't great, but it was really neat, because Jen was telling me that during the busy season, people can dock their boats right up to the dock and can get their meals delivered right to them. How fun? Check out their website, and the menu - you can see that it is very fish oriented, which seems obvious, great for others, but not for us, so we got the Vegetarian Black Bean Burger. I got the jalapeno burger option because I love spicy food, but it was quite spicy if I do say so myself. I'm not sure what was used as the egg replacer, all I know is that it was incredibly messy and fell apart as soon as I picked it up, which Jen warned me about. We ended up eating most of it with forks. It was pretty funny actually.
|Looks delicious, doesn't it? I'm still remembering the spiciness!|
It was then that we talked and talked and I feel like really bonded and got to know each other a lot more. I learned about her housing experiences in New Jersey, she learned about my goals and aspirations for my cafe, and we told ridiculous housing horror stories. She learned about the woman that lives two floors up from me in Brooklyn that religiously throws her garbage out her kitchen window. No clue why, but Jen nicknamed her the Spaghetti Woman. It's gross, believe me!
Dinner was great - a nice end to a nice day! Afterwards we went out to have drinks at an open-air bar that boasted live music. I had a rum and coke and listened to the "Key West Cowboy" sing country songs (definitely not my favorite!), but I had a great time! It was also a definite plus that there was an incredibly incredibly drunken man there when we got there at about 8:30 pm who was just behaving completely ridiculously and made us laugh. What a great night! Jen, uber-generous, bought 3 cd's for my mom, from this "Key West Cowboy" guy, just because I mentioned that she would really enjoy this guy because she loved the songs he was singing. What a sweet heart!
|Another pic of their beautiful beach - I find myself constantly|
snapping pics here. Everything is just so beautiful!
(9/27) Day 5:
This morning I had a creepy little friend greet me as soon as I walked out of my room. I really had to force myself not to scream, which is ridiculous I know. I have this crazy fear of things that are like a one-millionth of my size, but that run/crawl very fast. Check him out - you probably wouldn't freak out.
|Little Mr. Creepy Crawly was on the side of the rain barrel!|
Today's prequel to breakfast was a blueberry scone. The flavor was great, but as I told Jen, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to scones - I don't like them with nuts in them, which this one had. But the blueberries were super juicy and the scone wasn't too heavy or sweet.
|So many delicious, juicy organic blueberries!|
Breakfast was French Toast topped with strawberries and served with pineapple slices and a container of papaya (from her organic garden of course) and bananas, which was drizzled with a sweet cashew crème sauce. The French toast was super tasty as was all of the fruit. The only thing is that I have a bit of an issue when it comes to papaya. I truly feel like it smells like dirty smelly feet. Sorry, but can't help it. And that is how it was first described to me by someone, so I can't get that image out of my head. I really only like it at this point in smoothies, so I just ate around it. Sorry Jen!
|Her presentation is amazing!|
Today we made vegan baked donuts. Lot and lots of donuts! We made vanilla donuts, chocolate donuts and pumpkin donuts! We made different garnishes, including chocolate glaze, coconut glaze, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar and a plain glaze. All delicious and tasty!
|Glazed & Shredded Coconut Baked Donut|
|Chocolate Baked Donut with Chocolate Icing & Vegan Sprinkles|
|Cinnamon Sugar Glazed Baked Donut|
|Chocolate Baked Donuts with Misc. Toppings|
Jen decided that we needed to take a break and actually take some time to enjoy the Florida Keys while I was there. So, we decided to go to Key West, followed by the Vegetarian Cafe there, called appropriately, The Cafe. It was quite delicious for the most part and we had such a good time exploring Key West and just generally behaving touristy. The one thing I will say, however, is that it was so uncomfortably hot. I literally had sweat dripping off my back after the first 5 minutes walking around. Whenever we would go inside of some shop, I would sigh in bliss at the amazing coolness. Another awesome thing we did was go to this hot sauce store. Seriously, everything in the entire store was either bottles of hot sauce, or products that were super spicy in some way. We literally spent like an hour looking for the place, and finally ended up finding it right before it closed, which was really lucky. I met the owner and talked to him about being a chef in NY, and about food, etc. I wished we would have had more time to talk to him - he was really nice. I bought literally 7 bottles of hot sauce - it was crazy. (As of today, the day that I am posting this, I have not even finished one full bottle of hot sauce yet, although I do have 2 containers open in my fridge.)
|This city is gorgeous! Too bad about the constant flooding :(|
|It was so freaking hottt!!|
|I love taking pictures of interesting things, telling myself I |
will remember what they are later - yet I never do.
|Wild chickens running through the streets!|
|Gotta love Hello Kitty graffiti!|
|Momma & her babies getting dangerously close to the street!|
|I love this sign!|
|Buffalo-Style Tofu. Had real potential, but they didn't use|
extra-firm tofu, & didn't press it, so it was awfully squishy.
|Stuffed Spinach Dumplings. Cute and tasty- loved the sauce!|
|Seitan Pasta Veggie Bowl. This was pretty tasty, just in need of |
some tamari - & a little more flavor for the seitan!
This literally fed me for 3 meals!
|Green Tea Ice Cream with Red Bean Sauce. Would have liked|
the sauce to be saucier!
(9/28) Day 6:
Breakfast was gorgeous as usual today, but way too many carbs! That was partly my fault because I didn’t sample everything from the day before, and Jen wanted me to try everything we prepared. Pre-breakfast was a lemon poppy muffin, which I love and ate happily.
|Love love love lemon poppy!|
There was also a beautifully presented yogurt parfait that used the granola we had made a couple days before. I am not a huge yogurt person – never have been, but it was so tasty with the granola and fresh fruit. And of course my pumpkin baked donut we made yesterday was there, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat it because there was still breakfast to think about – so I brought it back to my room with me for later.
|Yogurt & Granola Parfait with my |
Pumpkin Baked Donut
|Close up of the tasty parfait|
Breakfast, thankfully, was a simple affair – pancakes with shredded coconut, organic maple syrup and organic fruit. Yummy. Can never say no to some good maple syrup!
|Beautifully Presented as usual.|
I was reading the morning paper and made a funny discovery: I read my husband’s name in the paper – only the thing is, my husband wasn’t 79, 20 years ago, working at McDonald’s in the Florida Keys. What a funny thing! His name is pretty common, I’m guessing. So funny! Had to take a pic to show him-he thought it was hilarious!
|Still can't get over how funny it is!|
Jen, marvelously, gave me the rest of the day to chill out and enjoy the amazing B&B. I took full advantage of it and couldn’t believe my stay was coming to an end – way too sad. It went by far too fast! As I was changing clothes to go into the mineral salt pool and spa, Jen brought me an adorable drink. I don’t know a lot about drinks, but I am sure it was a non-alcoholic Pina Colada. All I know for sure that it was crazy delicious and amazing served while I was indulging in the pool.
|So Thick and Yummy!|
And all I can say about the pool and spa, was it was such a great thing to be in water that did not smell and feel deathly like Chlorine. Yuck! It was also great hanging in the pool and watching the Key deer walking by, watching me, and just hanging out. What a time!
|What a beautiful tropical paradise!|
For lunch, we ventured outside of the Deer Run B&B sanctuary, and went to the health food store in Marathon, called Food for Thought. The place was pristine – absolutely gorgeous, had a ton of books to choose from, a surprisingly large selection of products, and the nicest workers you will ever meet. I met a woman who was gluten free, and a new vegan and we talked for a while. I also met the owner, a tiny little thing who was very well versed in raw and she took me on a verbal tour of their kitchen. I admittedly, am not huge on raw, but ordered lunch and it was actually seriously quite good. And the thing I also liked about it was that not everything was raw, which made for a nicer texture and flavor. So I had this Mexican-style wrap with a nut “meat” filling and all of the other goodies you would expect in a taco. It was delicious. The only thing I really miss down here is a nice Hass Avocado. I really really have found that I do not like Florida avocados in the least. They are too watery and have a funky flavor, and I found myself picking them out.
|The Chips were clearly not raw, and the wrap was sprouted |
grain, but the filling was totally raw.
|A close-up of the tasty filling.|
Jen got a meat loaf type dish with raw coleslaw. She let me try a bite and it was quite good. It was a delicious and surprisingly filling lunch.
|I love the presentation!|
Then came dessert – a mostly raw cacao coconut pie with a date nut crust. It was very tasty, very rich and not overly sweet. I also like that the pie was frozen, because being the Keys, it was incredibly hot outside, so it really hit the spot.
The rest of the day we just hung out and had a good time. Then came dinner! It was Harry’s turn to make dinner. And of course it was to be made on the grill- typical guy, but I was not complaining! Grilled Asparagus and Roasted/Grilled Potatoes in a mushroom gravy with crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce! It was so homey-tasting, filling and delicious, and such a nice gesture on the last night!
|Delicious Salad - Jen is the Queen of salads!|
|Wish I could have that dinner again now - it was so tasty!|
And I of course had to get a picture of their amazing kitty Aggie. Such a sweetheart – I completely fell in love with her and had such a great time! Had to get her picture. I was planning on taking it home to the Hubby to further convince him that we needed a kitty – fat chance unfortunately!
|Aren't I the most adorable thing in the world??|
|Hanging out on my favorite chair with my favorite blankie.|
Look deep into my beautiful eyes!
(9/29) Day 7:
So sad to say it’s the last day. But I feel very fortunate in meeting Jen & Harry and feel like I have made friends for life. It has been such an amazing experience and I would absolutely love to come back and bring my Hubby. I know he would love them as much as I do. So, before breakfast, I went around and took my final pictures of the gorgeous B&B – Jen and Harry’s home.
|Looking down from the balcony.|
|Goodbye little Key Deer! I will miss you!|
|Wish we could have hung out more here!|
|The backyard garden.|
|More of the gorgeous-ness behind the house.|
|One last look at the beautiful water.|
I had a very filling breakfast of a rice scramble instead of tofu (Jen was out) – which was a great surprise. Nicely spicy. Roasted potatoes and fresh fruit went along with it, as well as homemade biscuits made with Jen’s homemade soymilk, in cute shapes, which I promptly slathered in Earth Balance. Yum!
|A touch on the blurry side, but we were in a hurry!|
Then Harry took me out to their organic garden to pick an unripe papaya to take home as a gift.
|Picking the papaya. I was convinced it was going to drop on my head!|
Jen also gave me a Cuban Oregano plant and several key limes, which I cannot wait to use and explore! They are crazy delicious and so cute! Then some more beautiful pics, and one with Jen. (Harry was feeling a bit camera-shy. :) Then on our way. I met their neighbor, a man in his 90’s living on his own, that they bring baked goods every day, and check up on. His name is Pop, fittingly. He was so amazing, I wish I had snapped a picture of him! He shook my hand firmly, looked me in the eye and we talked about me going back to NY (I believe he said he was originally from Philly) and seeing my Husband. He told me to go back and make Hubbs happy – what a cutie! He was married for many many years before his wife passed away. Then he told me to go ahead and go back to the “bullies” back home, which I thought was funny and cute.
Then off to the airport. On the way of course, we saw a turtle trying to make his way across the road. So, we stopped and attempted to help him, with me snapping a couple pics along the way. He was adorable!
|Hey Mr. Cutie!|
On the plane and back home to NY! Bye Jen and Harry and thanks again so much for sharing your home and life with me! I will never forget you guys!