Category Archives: food

Shower for a Dirty Hippie

I feel so special and loved and supported and excited and happy. This weekend I was showered.

Every bride needs a wedding bell and candle, right? Thanks Great Aunt Veggie.
**All photos in this post my my amazing FSIL, Jen, from Jen Lebo Photography.

My bridesmaids (Veggie Sisters Kale, Eggplant, Carrot), Momma Veggie, and little brother Bridesman Veggie threw me a fantastic bridal shower at the Veggie parents house in New Jersey. We missed Veggie Sister Tomato, who couldn’t take time off of med school in Arizona to join us, but I got to see so many wonderful women that have been a part of my life throughout the years. Friends from elementary school, grad school, and even one from NZ managed to find their way to the party. And the Veggie ladies did not disappoint. They cooked the most amazing most drool worthy food. They are clearly not doing their part to make sure I fit in my wedding dress in a few weeks. Veggie sisters, we have about 1/16 of an inch in wiggle room in that dress. If it doesn’t fit, I blame the stratta from the shower.
Momma Veggie’s cupcakes, which will also make an appearance at the wedding got rave reviews:
Unbeknownst to me (well, actually pretty knownst), the Veggie sisters interviewed Mr. Veggie via Skype and recorded it so we could play a “how well do you know your groom?” game. Veggie sister Kale read the questions and I tried my best to give answers that wouldn’t embarrass either of us too badly. I was doing well until they asked about our first kiss, which may or may not have been in the middle of a crowded party in a bit of a drunken stupor. Sorry mom! Veggie sister Eggplant played back Mr. Veggie’s responses to the joy of the crowd. They particularly enjoyed this response by Mr. Veg.
Veggie sister Kale: What is the first thing that Miss Veggie will want to do after the wedding?
Mr. Veggie: Blog about it.
You know it!

Then we played a game that was really all about embarrassing me… it was kind of a roast where guests wrote down their favorite Miss Veggie moment. Then they were read out loud and I had to guess who wrote them. I’m just thankful that my friends used good judgement and censored a bit.After games it was time to get serious. There was a pile of treasure waiting with my name on it. I was a little nervous about this part of the party with some registration hesitations still lingering. All week I was practicing my “Gee thanks, this is so thoughtful of you, even though it weighs 50 pounds, is breakable and bulky, doesn’t work with NZ electrical outlets, and is a totally ridiculous item that we would never buy ourselves”-face. But I should have had more faith in our family and friends. They totally get us.Veggie Sister Carrot diligently recorded names and gifts while I tore through handmade wrapping paper of one kind and another. Our guests were so thoughtful in their choices of wrapping, keeping in mind our desire for a low footprint wedding. We got gifts wrapped in magazine pages, new dishtowels, and recycled fabric. Most of the gifts really fell in-line with our lifestyle too, being light, nonbreakable, and recycled or eco in some way. And the best part was that we got a lot of donations for our non-profit and really generous contributions to a “travel home to visit” fund. I know I sound ridiculous and snobby right now, and should be thankful for any gifts that we received, and I totally am, but it really just felt nice that people understood us so well to pick gifts that worked for us. I did get three bars of nice soap. Is that a hint? Because I really tried to clean up nice and leave my dirty hippie-ness out on the porch for a day.

So, thanks Veggie Fam. You rock.

Momma Veggie, Veggie Sister Kale, Me, Veggie Sister Eggplant, and Veggie Sister Carrot.
**All photos in this post my my amazing FSIL, Jen, from Jen Lebo Photography.

Did anyone have any embarrassing moments at their bridal shower? Anyone else have any gift-induced nervousness? Did it turn out for the beter or for the worse?

Washington Bee-C

Two weeks ago some fabulous D.C. bees organized a nice quaint get-together for a few readers and bloggers. You know, just a small gathering to share wedding ideas and advice. A few girls thought it would be a good idea, and then a few more, and then I hopped on the bandwagon as a D.C. summer resident, and by last week it morphed into this:

Look out D.C. the bees are taking over! Yep, that’s right. All those gorgeous gals are bees.

Last Thursday about 25 of us came out for a night of dimsum and drinks at Ping Pong, a flashy restaurant downtown. The combination of the 100 degree heat and hours of wedding crafting all day, every day must have made me slightly delirious. In a ultra-crafty daze, I thought it would be a good idea to put together some fabric-covered bee pins as favors and wedding bee inspired table toppers.

Counter-Clockwise from top: Two bees proudly display their bee pride behind a steamy dumpling foreground; Pretty place settings at the beginning of the night; A few conversation starters on the back of the table toppers; Place settings at the end of the night, You can tell how good the food was, not one bit left; I just couldn’t help myself with the signs, I blame Martha.

I had never been out for dimsum before, but let me tell you. Dim Sum = Yum Yum. The food was so good. I can vouch for a nice selection of on-tap beers too, and I hear from a very good source (cough, cough, Ribbons) that the Tenessee Tea Tingle is worth a try.

Food as high and as far as the eye could see.

We may have caused a bit of a scene, as 25 newly-engaged/ newly-wed ladies would do. One guy at the bar asked me what kind of club we were and if he could join. “Of course you can join”, I replied innocently, but once I explained that we were all wedding bloggers he didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic. Hmmm. Go figure.

Clockwise from top left: Mrs. Dorsay double fists her way through happy hour; Daniellemybelle gives a big bee smile; A sweaty Miss Veggie and Veggie Sister Kale enjoy a cool drink after a hot metro ride; and a group of bees get their drink on.

Thanks to DaydreamWanderer for her fabulous organizational and photography skills and to Daniellemybelle for making the reservations. It was such a great evening. It was so nice to share in everyone’s pre and post wedding enthusiasm and put some faces to names I see on the bee all the time. I met some great ladies, some of whom were even crazy enough to volunteer to help me craft a bit. I hope I am in town for the next one!
I’m not even going to try to name all the girls in the picture, but I’m pretty sure that these girls are in there somewhere: the futuremrsjewell, daniellemybelle, veggie sister kale, msterrapin, spaganya, septcabride, mrs. pencils, eaq219, lolo7835, sali2011, scarletjwl, onbecomingmrshall, sea glass, grits, msjeep23, miss boot camp, junebug12. I know I missed people, so sorry.

Gold star for anyone who can pick out the four blogger bees tucked in there and super gold star for anyone who can find a hive hostess.

Part Two of Designing our Menu

Sorry for the non-creative title. I’ve been invaded by some kind of flu bug and it has debilitated my brain a bit.

A few days ago I started talking about our desire to build a local/organic menu. Here are the meals that will round out our weekend.

Cocktail Hour Saturday:
Sources: Veggies and Dip, Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato, Pita and Hummus, Fresh Fruit, Bruschetta

Of all the meals, the cocktail hour menu was the one that departed furthest from Indian Head’s initial suggestions. We moved from a microwaved/fried meaty hot menu towards a fresh cool light menu. Given the taco lunch and potential heat of august we thought this was a good call. We want people up and dancing, not down and digesting. It also helped bring down the cost of the menu and make it more local.

Sat Dinner
Sources: Baked Ziti with Spinach, Carved Meat, Yuengling, Roasted Summer Veg, Rice and Beans, Dinner Rolls, Mixed Greens, Roasted Winter Veg Unpictured: Green Beans Almondine (darn you flu-brain).

For Saturday’s dinner we wanted to provide one main meat dish and lots of vegetarian sides to choose from. We’re not sure whether to do beef or pork yet (have a preference? please let us know!), but in either case the meat will be free-range-grass-fed-organic and come to us from a local butcher. We haven’t made all of the alcohol decisions for the weekend, but definitely know that we will have Yuengling available with dinner (PA pride!).

Sunday Buffet:Sources: Scrambled Eggs, Beautiful Vermont Maple Syrup, Pancakes with berries, Homefries

We’ll finish off the weekend with Sunday brunch. By then, hopefully, everyone will be exhausted and stuffed.

Looking at our menu, and how full it is, its hard to imagine that we had to leave some things out. But just like how we had to make tough choices when coming up with our financial budget, we also had to make tough choices in our food-miles budget. Some of the big ticket items on our food mile list were: exotic fruits like bananas, mangos, and kiwi fruit; imported gourmet cheeses; coffee; tea; hot chocolate; asparagus; imported wine; rice; chickpeas for hummus; dried beans; and spices.

When possible, we switched these items for their local/ in-season counterparts. Melons and berries got swapped in for bananas and mangos, asparagus got traded in for green beans, gourmet cheeses were nixed for local varieties (like Cabot yummm…). We will try to stash a few bottles of NZ wine in our luggage, but other wines will come from Europe (which actually have a smaller eco-footprint than Californian wines for us East-Coasters).

There are some things that are important to us and will need to come from far away, no matter what. For these items, like coffee, hot chocolate, rice, beans, and spices, we will be sure to choose fair trade producers from as local as possible.

At some point I will do a calculation on the total food miles for our weekend wedding and convert that into carbon emissions produced, but since we don’t know the exact suppliers for most things, its a bit early for all that yet. Plus, honestly, I don’t think my flu brain would allow for it at the moment. But as far as I can tell about 90% of the food served will come from within the northeastern U.S. (Woo hoo!!).

Given the price of organic food (due to too many fair and unfair reasons to list here), it might seem like an organic local menu isn’t feasible on a shoe-string budget. But, we are paying the same price per head with our new menu, as we we would have with Indian Head’s original proposed menu. There are a few ways we made this possible:

1. Our menu is in-season. Almost all of our fresh fruit and veggies will come from local farms and markets. We have planned on cooking things that are generally in surplus in August in our region, which means lower prices.

2. Flexibility. Our cook is flexible. If a certain fresh item isn’t available in abundance in August, he is willing to switch to another local item, rather than importing the original item. This keeps costs low.

3. Hot breakfasts and hot hors d’oeuvres were substituted with cold items.

4. We planned our meals with creative ways to use leftovers in mind. Chili and salad bar from friday will become taco bar on Saturday.

5. We are forming a close relationship with our caterer and are offering to support him in researching local providers for specific items.

O.K., I’ve talked far too much about this for the moment (can you tell we love our jobs!). Would love to hear any suggestions for our menu, especially about the beef or pork toss-up.

Food- Creating an Eco-Friendly Menu

Although Mr. Veggie and I don’t agree on everything (really?), we did have a very sure vision of what we wanted in regards to our wedding menu.

Food is a big deal to us. On a scale of “happily apathetic” to “crazily vigilant”, we probably are just about a hair shy of the “c-v” mark, passionately vigilant perhaps? Food-issues including organics, growing, subsidies, transportation, ethical production models, the corporatization of food, packaging, and waste (to name a few) impact our every-day decisions. By no means do we do everything right. I do have a soft spot for Cheez-Its, which thankfully are not sold in New Zealand, because I honestly cannot resist their awesome deliciousness. But, we are organic veggie farmers and growing food is a big part of our life.

In our lovey-dovey first dating bliss, we had envisioned growing all of the food for our wedding, including raising any animals we might want for meat. That was before we started planning a wedding half-way around the world. I’m pretty sure they don’t allow halves of cows in checked baggage, and I’m not carrying that sucker on, so growing our own food is a bit out of the question. As they say though, when one door shuts…

Having realized that our geographic predicament prohibits us from growing our own menu, we became committed to supporting local organic farmers in the area where we are getting married. Based on this decision, we chose to hold our wedding in August, a time when there is an abundance of local produce.

Even though August is a time of abundance, there are certain things that simply don’t grow in the northeastern U.S., so our goal in designing the menu was to minimize or eliminate the use of these things, and swap them for more local options. Also, while we are not vegetarian, we eat a mostly vegetarian diet (meat about once a month), and are strictly opposed to factory farmed meat. We wanted the menu to reflect this. We also understand that while eating sprouts and hummus are part of our everyday diet, for some people this will be a very unique food experience, and we want our guests to enjoy the food too. So the goals became, local, mostly veggie, and super yummy. Luckily, Mike the cook, from Indian Head Camp, was more than willing to work with us to make our vision a reality.

We started with the standard menu that Indian Head uses for weekend events (That’s right our wedding takes place over the course of an entire weekend. That’s a lot of meals to plan out). Keep in mind that Indian Head is a camp, and their standard menu is for school, camp, and conference groups.

Here’s what we began with:

That menu was really nice, but didn’t reflect us. At all. So, we sent some suggestions, did some research into local and regional companies, and this is what we ended up with:

Thursday Night:

We all know that my home state has the best pizza ever in the whole wide world. Let’s hope we can find a local pizza shop that can come close to matching the skills of their garden state counterparts, because we will have about 30 close friends and family that will be working their butts off all day to get everything set up. And they’re gonna be hun-gry.

We’ve opted out of hot breakfasts all together. Hot coffee for Mr. Veggie, definitely, but with all the other food we’re going to have, hot breakfast seemed like overkill. So we’re going with yogurt, fruit, granola, and bagels with cream cheese. Breakfast is a meal that generally contains a lot of non-local products (think bananas, spices, cocoa, coffee, tea). We’ve chosen to say no to bananas, but yes to coffee and hot chocolate. Priorities.

Lunch Friday:

We’ve nixed the more traditional sandwich board, because of the many processed meat products, and gone with egg salad, tuna salad, and grilled cheese. We’ll also have an amped up salad bar with all the traditional fare, plus sprouts and Annie’s Organic dressings, and tomato soup. Who doesn’t love grilled cheese and tomato soup?

Dinner Friday:

Chili Cookoff and microbrew taste-test. We’re sending out a call for chili and microbrew competitors with our invites. Hopefully people will get into it and bring a batch of chili with them. If not, looks like we’ll be eating a lot of corn bread and corn on the cob.

Lunch Saturday:

Sources: Top: Left, Right; Bottom

Taco Bar. We will make use of the leftover chili from Friday night (if there is any!) and have a taco bar. Easy. Delicious. Fun for all ages.

All those food pictures are making me hungry. Time to go cook some dinner. In my next post I’ll walk you through the rest of the weekend’s food choices and talk a bit about the rationale behind the choices. I’ll also talk about about the food-miles associated with our choices and how all of this has affected our budget.

What do you think so far? Were there certain must-haves on your menu? Would you mind eating vegetarian for a weekend?