Honeymoon – New Orleans

The first stop on our trip was New Orleans, the only city we had previously visited together.

Most of the city’s cheap hotels were booked up for Jazz Fest, so we ended up staying across the river near Algiers Point. Our hotel was about a 30 minute walk from the ferry, so we had a nice time strolling (and sweating in the 85+ degree weather) through the neighborhoods near the water.  While riding the ferry, a plane was flying overhead trying to spell something. Or insult somebody, we weren’t quite sure. Hungry from our trek, we stopped in at the always delicious Dreamy Weenies. We were shocked that the place was empty, apparently due to the Jazz Fest. The poor guy behind the cash register was so bored and quizzed us about where we were from and what we were doing in the city.

I got a kielbasa dog topped with slaw and red beans and rice. Peter got a smoked “chicken” dog with sour cream and cheese. 

    The majority of our day was spent taking the Saints and Sinners tour offered by French Quarter Phantoms. This is the second tour we’ve taken from this company and both have been fantastic.

The tour guide took us all through the French Quarter while regaling us with tales about the beginnings of New Orleans, various stories of its seedy history, and even told us about a woman who may become the city’s first saint.

While wandering the French Quarter we also saw this awesome lighthouse for rent. Since we’ve previously discussed moving to NOLA, I’m totally down with the idea of us living in a lighthouse there.

Dinner was at Seed near the edge of town. We dined on beignets (not pictured) to start and for dinner Peter had the southern fried tofu poboy and I had the walnut taco salad with seed gumbo.

I love this restaurant, not just because of the great food and friendly servers, but because we can enjoy New Orleans classics while still sticking with an animal-friendly lifestyle. 

  

Lucky Black Eyed Pea Burgers

Although I didn’t grow up doing it, probably due to my mother’s distaste for the main ingredient, it’s a tradition in the South to eat black eyed peas and some type of greens on New Year’s Day for luck and financial prosperity.

The reputation of the pea’s luckiness supposedly dates back to Civil War times where they escaped being destroyed by Sherman’s troops because they were considered food fit for only livestock or slaves. It soon became a valuable food-source for the surviving Confederates.

Eventually the practice of serving it with a type of greens (kale, collards, mustard, or cabbage) for financial gain became normal too. Now it’s common on New Year’s Day for my Instagram feed to be packed with photos of lunches consisting of peas and greens. blackeyedburger

I decided to change things up this year and after scouring the cupboards for inspiration settled on making pea burgers with a sautéed garlic kale topping.

Lucky Black Eyed Pea Burgers

Makes 4 large burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked black eyed peas
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped kale
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Burger toppings (pickles, lettuce, tomato, condiments, vegan cheese, etc.)

Directions:

In a large bowl, mash the black eyed peas until a coarse paste forms. Stir in the next 10 ingredients (soy sauce through flour).

In a large frying pan, bring the coconut oil to medium-high heat. Form the pea mixture into 4 patties. One at a time, fry the patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Place cooked patties onto a paper towel lined plate to soak up any extra oil.

In a small frying pan, bring the olive oil to medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until golden brown. Stir in the kale and cook until completely wilted.

Form your lucky burgers by placing the black eyed pea patties, sautéed garlic kale, and any desired toppings on warm buns. And don’t forget to enjoy the new year!

Christmas Trip – New Orleans

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday! For Peter’s gift I surprised him with a short train trip to New Orleans a few days before Christmas. Peter was stoked to ride a train for the first time, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Amtrak train.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0327.jpgWe arrived quite late to the city and were super hungry after eating an early lunch on the train. We walked just a few blocks to 13 Monaghan in search of good food and we were not disappointed. I got the BBQ tofu sandwich and Peter got the mushroom philly, both served with chips.

This was honestly the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Chewy tofu smothered in a spicy BBQ sauce and paired with vegan mayo, tomatoes, lettuce, and sliced sweet pickles. I devoured half before gaining control of myself and taking a blurry photo in the dim lighting.

DSCN0990The next morning we set out exploring. Seeing Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and some of the street sculptures. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0328.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0329.jpgBreakfast was in the French Market at the Meals From the Heart Cafe. We were the first customers of the day and greeted by the very friendly owner. I ordered the vegan blueberry pancakes and Peter got an omelette.

This seems to be a recurring theme in New Orleans, but these were some of the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. At home, I’m usually too lazy to cook anything significant in the mornings, so I enjoy getting breakfast food out when we’re traveling. These pancakes were just sweet enough, infused with fresh blueberries, and served with vegan butter, maple syrup, and walnuts. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0330.jpgWith very full bellies, we then set off to wander around the French Quarter. We marked off part of our bucket list by visiting a voodoo shop while in NOLA. It was a pleasant shop, not at all creepy like we expected, with helpful staff.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0331.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0332.jpgThe St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 was a must-see for the trip. Full of fascinating and famous graves, we had a great time exploring this small place. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0341.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0333.jpgLunch was at Dreamy Weenies, a funky restaurant near the cemetery. I’d heard good things about this place and was excited to try something different. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0336.jpg/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0335.jpgI got the andouille dog on a wheat bun with vegan chili, sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup, served with a side of potato salad. Peter got an Italian herb dog with cheese and mustard. We both agreed that these were amazing and I can’t wait to come back to try their plethora of other toppings.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0334.jpgAfter a bit more wandering and spending time in the WWII Museum (please visit, it is a fantastic place) we headed over to the all vegan Seed for dinner. Sadly we had to grab everything to-go just to make sure we could get to our ghost tour on time, but the short time spent in the restaurant was great.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0337.jpgSince the food would take a bit to cook, we snacked on beignets and chatted with our super friendly server. The staff was hilarious and we could hear them in the back arguing about what Christmas music to put on. Choices included Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mariah Carey, and Disney. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0338.jpgPeter got eggplant parmesan, and I got gumbo with mac and cheese. Despite being a bit cold (we ended up eating after our tour) the food was delicious. The gumbo was very flavorful and chock full of vegetables. The mac and cheese was creamy and rich, with a nice crunchy breadcrumb topping. I didn’t get a chance to try Peter’s eggplant (the man loves pasta) but he promised that it was great. Also, if you’re looking for a fun and informative tour about the supernatural, be sure to check out French Quarter Phantoms Tours. We had a wonderful time stomping around the French Quarter and being creeped out. DSCN1042The train ride back was beautiful going over Lake Pontchartrain. We had a very good trip and can’t wait to visit the Big Easy again. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/7f2/73905162/files/2014/12/img_0339-0.jpg