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I was not feeling up to cooking today. I had the day off from school, it was cool and rainy out, and I preferred spending the afternoon on my screened porch reading kabbalah to scurrying around my kitchen. I’ve done a lot of (I think) good cooking lately, so I took a brief holiday from being experimental and dedicated and had that long afternoon of tea and Abulafia.

But I can’t take a break from food altogether. I thought about ordering Chinese, and I thought about throwing together a macaroni salad, but the all-day rain put me in the mood for soup. I put together a simple vegan version of chicken noodle soup while watching the Food Network and wearing very soft pajama pants. One carrot, 1/4 cup chopped sweet onion, two cloves of garlic, diced chicken-style seitan, whole wheat spaghetti broken into little pieces, olive oil, crushed red pepper, and faux chicken boullion. Done. That’s it. Just like mom used to make, only with no dead birds. And no celery, because (I’m sorry, I know it’s part of the Holy Trinity) I hate celery with a passion.

I hadn’t used seitan in any soup or stew applications yet, and I was a bit worried that it would break down. No chance! Boiling only gave it a very realistic texture, which took some getting used to. Why did I wait so long to try making my own seitan?

On the side, I had a toasted bun with Smart Balance and garlic salt. Sometimes a simple, straightforward dish is exactly what I want. Now I’m going to kick back in my bathrobe with a mug of rooibos and wait for House to come on.

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I live one block from the Saturday farmer’s market. There are weekends (plenty of them) when I sleep until two in the afternoon and miss the whole thing completely, which is shameful. But this morning I was wide awake and I went down to take my pick of fresh, local fruits and veggies. I brought my camera (I even went back to my apartment to get it) and then discovered while standing in front of a stall full of adorable, bright flying saucer squash that I had LEFT MY MEMORY CARD IN MY LAPTOP. I was peevish, but oh well. I’ll be back next weekend, and until then there are pictures of this week’s haul.

All this for $23, all of it grown locally on small farms and co-ops. Clockwise from the lemonade: 
-fresh squeezed lemonade (no, really, they juice the lemons right there at the stall)
-heirloom “black” cherry tomatoes
-organic butternut squash
-red potatoes
-cucumber
-organic Japanese turnips with their greens attached
-organic portobello mushrooms (the most expensive item by weight at $8/lb, but it takes quite a few mushrooms to make a pound, so it’s not so bad)
-organic beets (for my borscht later this week, I’m excited!)
-green onions
-jumbo head of organic garlic
-red onion

The squash and the turnips came from Rita’s Roots, a “transitioning-to-organic” farm on nearby Wadmalaw Island. In addition to their stand at the Farmer’s Market, they also run spring and fall CSA programs. On the weekends when I do make it to the Market, I make a beeline for Rita’s (even before I get the OMFG delicious jumbo cup of lemonade). It’s always kind of a surprise–they seem to be pretty strictly seasonal, so I can’t necessarily count on seeing the same thing two weeks in a row, but there’s generally a selection of greens and root vegetables, although this week was very heavy on the squash. Rita Bachmann runs the stand and is always polite, helpful, and smiling.

There’s a raw vegan restaurant and juice bar in Charleston called The Sprout. It’s been around for a good two years, but this year they have a stand at the Farmer’s Market, serving up raw vegan lunches on the go. I didn’t get anything this week, but it was heartening to see them there (seriously, this is South Carolina we’re talking about) and I’ll probably be back for a smoothie or a sandwich next weekend. The menu board this week advertised mock tuna salad, cashew cheese, sunflower seed “burgers,” and raw pad thai in addition to six or eight different varieties of smoothies.

I am NOT usually up this early on a Saturday (it’s noon), but I feel surprisingly refreshed and ready to tackle my bread machine this afternoon.

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