A great weekend (so far) and a review of Spirit

Friday

Yesterday it was N.’s name day. In Greece we celebrate the name that was given to us, as most names correspond with Christian saints. Even though neither me nor N. are religious, this is still a tradition and friends and family will call to offer their wishes. So I decided to make something special to celebrate the day. I made melomakarona, which are very easy to veganize if you use maple syrup or agave nectar, instead of honey. It was the first time that I made them and I was quite surprised that they were a success.

My very first melomakarona.

My very first melomakarona.

Here is the recipe that I followed, veganized. It is also half the amount, as I was worried I would end up with a ton of inedible melomakarona:

Ingredients (for about 60 melomakarona)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon grind orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon clove
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 250 gr ground walnuts

For the syrup

  • 1/2 kg honey: substitute with 1/3 kg maple syrup or agave nectar, as they are sweeter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven at 180 C
  • Add all the ingredients, excluding the syrup ingredients and ground walnuts, in a big bowl and mix.
  • Form the melomakarona and arrange them on a baking pan. Leave a lot of distance between them, because they expand.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Let them cool.
  • Prepare the syrup. Mix all the syrup ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer.
  • Put the cold melomakarona in the simmering syrup for about 4 minutes.
  • Arrange on a plate and sprinkle with the ground walnuts.

They turned out great so I definitely recommend them to any beginner. Myself I love cooking, but I am not a great fan of baking, as it requires precision, so I am quite hesitant to try more complex things, but this recipe is foolproof. Just make sure not to bake more than 30′, because then your melomakarona will become too firm and wont absorb the syrup. And make sure that they are properly cooled before you deep them into the syrup, otherwise they will soak too quickly and fall apart.

As I was busy with the whole melomakarona baking, for lunch we ate re-heated vegan lasagna, that I have cooked on Friday evening.

Vegan lasagna.

Vegan lasagna.

I used the kind of lasagna that do not need pre-boiling and in between them I spread a mix of leeks, bell peppers and spinach. I used a tomato sauce for moisture. For the top layer I used mashed potato powder and mixed it with a lot of almond milk, to make a somewhat runny mashed potato mix. I did that to give a creamy texture.  I topped this layer with some nutritional yeast, to get a crunchy crust and a cheesy taste. They were pretty good. I baked them at 200 C for 40 minutes, covered with aluminum foil and then without cover for the last 5 minutes.

On Friday night however I put the effort to cook some fresh food for us. It was simple yet quite delicious. I re-discovered the beauty of thyme, so it’s going to make many appearances the following weeks in our dishes, I think.

Shiitake-thyme risotto.

Shiitake-thyme risotto.

I made this simple shiitake-thyme risotto. I just browned the rice with a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes and then added boiling water, the shiitake, juice from 2 1/2 lemons, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper and cooked covered for what seemed like an eternity (about 25 minutes). Then I added some chickpeas and scallions and cooked for another 10 minutes. It was fresh and satisfying and we will definitely be having variations of it.

Saturday

When you live with your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend/ partner/husband you sometimes think that spending time together every evening is enough. Most of the times however, it is not. Life is much better when you create and share special days with your loved one as well. In order for that to happen, intentional planning is the way to go. You might feel that you don’t need a “date”, if you live with your partner, but it can be particularly refreshing. When you visit a new place together, outside of the familiar environment of your home, you are more likely to talk about different things than you do every day and come closer. At least that’s the way it worked for us today, that we visited Spirit.

As I said in my previous post, Spirit is close to the Blaak station.

Cube houses are the landmark of Blaak station.

Cube houses are the landmark of Blaak station.

We enjoyed delicious food. Spirit has a buffet with a great variety, including many vegan dishes. And I am not talking about just salads! The payment system is also very convenient. Everything has the same price, which is defined by weight. There is a take away option as well, which is cheaper that eating there, but eating there is really worth it, because it is a great space.

N. got a lentil soup with vegetables.

N. got a lentil soup with vegetables.

He also got all that vegan stuff!

He also got all that vegan stuff!

I got an awesome shiitake soup with tofu and shredded carrot.

I got an awesome shiitake soup with tofu and shredded carrot.

...and all that stuff.

…and all that stuff.

They really know how to cook seitan there! I ate some cooked with mushrooms and a cranberry sauce and it was delicious. So were the tomato patties, the tomato salad with a variety of tomatoes and the variety of vegan patties. Other soups were also available as well as many noodle dishes, vegan sushi and many vegan desserts. Unfortunately, we were too full to get a desert, but we did get an almond milk latte.

Here is N., happily enjoying his latte.

Here is N., happily enjoying his latte.

We also visited a great Eco-consious grocery store that is in the same space with Spirit and got some vegan gyros to try at home, a yannoh filter “coffee” package and a white chocolate made with rice milk. I loved that, because I really missed white chocolate since going vegan.

We also enjoyed a walk at the nearby gourmet stores and here is what we saw:

Lots and lots and lots of gourmet sauces and pasta.

Lots and lots and lots of gourmet sauces and pasta.

With 100 euros you get a selection of olive oils and vinegars from around the world.

With 100 euros you get a selection of olive oils and vinegars from around the world.

Or you can give much less and get a cookie mix in a jar!

Or you can give much less and get a cookie mix in a jar!

And if you need some super kitsch Christmas ornaments, you can also find them.

And if you need some super kitsch Christmas ornaments, you can also find them.

We wanted to buy ALL THE GREENS!

We wanted to buy ALL THE GREENS!

The best part is that when we were there a very good friend of mine who lives in UK called, saying he was in Utrecht, visiting another friend of his. And right after our lunch, he visited us at our new home. We had a great time, talked a lot, had time to catch up and consumed some melomakarona as well. He came from London with a bus of Eurolines, which we did not know was possible, so that’s a nice option when flight tickets get too expensive and you want to keep your carbon footprint low.

All in all, this weekend has been great so far, I am feeling grateful and I am looking forward to Sunday, because I am going to complete something very special and present it to you the following week. I hope that your weekend is equally enjoyable. And if not, chin up, because we had our crappy ones too, but good days shall come 🙂

3 responses to “A great weekend (so far) and a review of Spirit

  1. I know exactly what you mean about baking versus cooking! Cooking, I eyeball everything and cook by “feel”, tasting as I go to make it good. Baking… It’s like a chemistry experiment and I measure everything and constantly second-guess myself!!
    That shiitake soup you ate looks DELICIOUS!

    • It can be a pain, right?! But I made a simple cranberry-lemon cake that turned out great yesterday, so now I have a bit more courage 🙂 I guess I will have to force myself to follow instructions for a while, before I start my own baking experiments 🙂 Yes, the soup was delicious! I really liked your blog by the way and your little ones are so cute!

  2. Pingback: Heavenly lemon-cranberry vegan cake and how to medicate a hedgehog | The non-hip hippies·

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