Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day Nine: Georgette & Joseph's Croque-Madame

I haven't been feeling my best since yesterday: nausea, slight chest pains, abdominal pain, lower back ache, a headache that comes in and out, general fatique... I had to stay home from the kitchen for the first time because even just walking there seemed like it required energy I couldn't muster. Coffee doesn't even sound good to me - that's how you know I'm not faking it. I spent all of yesterday on the couch and went to bed at 10pm. Where is my energy? Where did it go? The weather doesn't help; Portland was in the mid-90°s this past weekend and now it's suddenly cloudy and 60°. Hmph. I never want to leave this couch again! *moans as another stomach cramp sets in*

If I was sick as a kid, my mom would make me soft-boiled eggs and buttered toast for breakfast. In retrospect, this may not have been the best thing, but I have fond memories of the way I would dip my toast into the gooey eggs. Of course I don't enjoy eggs anymore - but a good tofu scramble is one of my very favorite meals.

In one of Amélie's attempts to help others, she decides to unite two people she sees every day while working as a waitress at The Two Windmills. Georgette is a hypochondriac who works at the cigarette counter. Joseph is a regular customer who  spends every day creepily spying on his ex-girlfriend, another waitress, Gina. Amélie decides to play matchmaker; in this scene, Amélie spills hot tea on Georgette's lap in an attempt to get Georgette to walk in on Joseph in the bathroom. Amélie's plan works to a greater degree than I think she could have imagined - they have sex. In the 'toilettes'. And everyone at The Two Windmills can hear them.

While Georgette and Joseph are having sex, the 'strength' of their 'activity' causes the glassware to clink and clatter. For one shot, you can see the egg shake on top of croque madame.

Croque-madame is actually a variation of croque-monsieur: a grilled cheese and ham sandwich. The only difference between a -madame and -monsieur is the egg on top.

For my vegan version I used an English muffin (because its the only bread I have on hand). The cheese: Daiya mozzarella. The ham: roasted red pepper hummus. The egg: tofu scramble with kale, carrot, green bell pepper, garlic salt, a pinch of vegg, black pepper, and tumeric - because my veg*n instincts tell me everything needs more vegetables. I initially thought about using braised tofu as an indicator of egg white and arranging some carrot on top to simulate a yolk - but obviously I decided against it. I garnished the plate with paprika and drank peach herbal tea.

My first thoughts: Why haven't I made this before? This is so delicious! Half-way through: I'm getting pretty full... After-thoughts: I feel worse than before...but I think it was worth it.

My stomach is now making me feel even stranger and I was getting dizzy from standing up for so long making the croque-madame...the things we do for MoFo! 

I hope your breakfast was as scrumptious as mine! Happy Day Nine!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day Eight: Amélie's Photo Booth + Imaginative LP Pancakes

We made it through the first week of our annual Vegan Month of Food! Only 23 days left! It's already going by so quickly...

The movie last night was pretty enjoyable and, in true Amélie fashion, the theater we went to offered a photo booth. Photo booths are featured throughout Amélie and are a critical factor in the development of Amélie Poulain and Nino Quincampoix's relationship.

So, y'know, Keith and I had to take part in the magic. The pictures weren't premeditated - otherwise we may have posed in more Amélie-related ways. I feel like photo booths tend to bring out the sillier sides of people...

For breakfast today, I made sweet crêpes using Colleen Patrick-Godreau's recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking (pg. 156). At an old kitchen job I had, I used to prepare made-to-order crêpes by the dozens on Friday afternoons. At that job I used the crêpe tools pictured in the first image of this post (the wooden spatula and the large circular cast iron crêpe griddle). These crêpes weren't vegan and thus were stabilized by coagulated egg proteins. Later, in my baking and pastry arts program, I learned that traditional French crêpes are completely pale and so thin that you can see your hand through them.

Most people don't have special crêpe tools at home or in their restaurant (I surely don't). When this is the case, your best bet is to use a non-stick pan, a rubber spatula, and your hands.

Crêpes are mentioned in Amélie when the audience is informed of how the only people Amélie really interacted with during her childhood were her parents. This, in turn, led little Amélie to be very creative when playing by herself - which is how she imagined vinyl records being made like pancakes (crêpes are French pancakes...in case you didn't know).

When you make vegan crêpes, you have to cook the first side notably longer than you would a traditional crêpe because the batter doesn't contain egg proteins that coagulate quickly. If you only wait as long as you would wait to flip a traditional crêpe, your vegan version will surely tear. Thus - wait until your rubber spatula very easily slips under the crêpe and use your fingers to flip it. If you're interested, the recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking that I used contains more specifics about how to cook your crêpes.

In the end, these tasted just how I remember 'regular' crêpes should taste: chewy, light, and the perfect canvas for whatever flavors you wish to fill them with. I chose the sweet path: peanut butter, chocolate chips, dried cherries, and a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. I love the way nut butters and chocolate get all melt-y inside a warm crêpe...

So that's that. I hope your Monday isn't too bad. Jusqu'à demain!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day Seven: Movie Theater Faces

The two movies Amélie watches in this scene are Jules et Jim (1962) and Father of the Bride (1950). My boyfriend tells me that the narration style of Amélie is quite obviously influenced by that of Jules et Jim (I have yet to see the film so I'll have to take his word for it). The original Father of the Bride starred Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor; Steve Martin starred in the remake in 1991.

Today has been a lazy day. I ate an English muffin with lemon hummus and leftover macerated balsamic strawberries for breakfast, then leftover soup for lunch, and I just ate a leftover dark chocolate rosemary tartlet as a snack. Keith wants to go to McMenamin's Market Street Pub for dinner before we go see Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt of Parks & Rec? Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies? I'm in!). I'll be sure to look back at the other patrons' faces the first time Chris Pratt takes his shirt off...

I've been to several McMenamin's locations but never the Market Street Pub - which is strange because it's the closest to our apartment (Google maps says it's 0.4 miles away). McMenamin's brews their own beer, makes their own wine and spirits, roasts their own coffee beans, and they also happen to put together a mean veggie burger and cajun tater tots. The Market Street Pub website offers a dietary restrictions menu that informs me of the vegan options: fries, tots, and The Bean & Seed sandwich - not very much to choose from, but I suppose the happy hour prices (vegan sliders!), Terminator Stout, and Hogshead whiskey surely make up for it.

Have a fantastic Sunday night, fellow MoFos ♥

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day Six: Dîner avec Papa (Part I)


Throughout the movie, the 'heart' is presented many times. Not only Amélie's supposedly defective heart is mentioned - the idea of a 'heart' in its various modes and interpretations is thoroughly explored. The heart's symbolism will have a post of its own later in the month, with its own enthusiastic food appreciation post, but for now I am presenting the above screencaps as a precursor to the first time we see Amélie eating dinner with her father.

Amélie's father, Raphaël Poulain, is an ex army doctor. He becomes a widower when Amélie is still a young girl and, seemingly due to the great loss of his wife, he retreats into himself and this melancholia leads him to limit his life experiences.

This scene informs the audience of two things: Raphaël's long-lasting sense of grief over the loss of his wife, and Amélie's wish for her father to enjoy life. I'm sure that this parent-child dynamic is not unfamiliar to many people.

The dinner the two share consists of soup, bread, and salad. I decided to try out the recipe for Wild Rice Soup with Browned Seitan Strips from Isa Does It (my favorite cookbook ever). So absolutely delicious. Wild rice, red lentils, great northern beans, and seitan? A winning combination. We also got some French bread from the grocery store bakery and I melted some Earth Balance with pressed garlic for dipping. We even tried out a new vanilla stout! For the salad I chopped some romaine and topped it with carrot, braised figs, and balsamic vinaigrette. Such a special Saturday night dinner.

P.S. In other news, earlier this afternoon I tried Clearly Kombucha in Chai Cola. I'm a kombucha lover and a chai lover - but this product is not good. I taste the chai spices and the kombucha flavor is there...but it just doesn't go well together. 1 bottle is only 25 calories and is full of probiotics and organic good things - but I would suggest trying a different flavor or sticking with Synergy. I was excited about drinking this so the disappointment is real...I only hope their other flavors are better.