I am alive and pretending to be vegan

Hi all. Oh, things are good now. They’re so good.

The story is uncomplicated and goes like this: Brooklyn wasn’t the right place for me. I missed Anthony and mountains and having a car and Liz and Maddie and Deb and everyone dear to me in NC. I was anxious and unhealthy despite good roommates. So I pulled the plug on that NYC test drive (made it a total of seven and a half months there) after consulting with wise people who loved me, crashed in Greensboro for two weeks, and moved to Durham to start a new job exactly one week ago.

Here, back in NC, living around Duke students and writing tweets for a new company, I’m sleeping better and have not had any panic attacks. A+! A steady diet of local honey has kept the anticipated seasonal allergies at bay despite the pollen dusting my boots everywhere I go. Anyone who’s ever been to a party of mine or seen my dorm room can well imagine how berserkers I’m going over decorating an apartment I have all.to.myself. Plus, the express buses here have Wi-Fi and get me to work faster than my Brooklyn commute. I’m rather content so far.

Most of all, I’m proud of myself for knowing what is best for me right now and going after it without apologizing or asking for anyone’s permission. I have a lot to figure out, but at least I’m in a better environment to tackle it all.

I found a place to work, a place to live. So the other two priorities are finding a gym and a therapist. Until then, my form of personal healthcare has and will consist of (1) soaking in bath salts concocted by local hippie witches and (2) eating mostly almost pretty much vegan at home.

I wanted to share a few of the recipes I’ve been cooking to soothe/nourish myself during life change chaos while listening to Dear Hank and John in case you’re going through your own Who Am I moments and need something fun to cook to keep yourself fed and sane.

Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes

amazing-30-minute-dinner-mediterranean-baked-sweet-potatoes-vegan-glutenfree1 Photo credit: Minimalist Baker

Recipe: Minimalist Baker

What I like best: Dating a Greek man has given me a new appreciation for the importance of fresh dill and lemon. They’re such powerful flavors that it allows the usually sweet and heavy flavor of the sweet potato to take a back seat while still serving as the heart of the dish. (I am eating it as I write.) Admittedly I did use a liberal amount of homemade za’atar from a generous Egyptian friend so that may have taken this to an unfairly ultimate level of goodness.

Good for: Impressing people at a summer potluck

Pairs with: a dry rose (tested, currently) or chardonnay (assumed, bc dry white goes well with dill)

Roasted butternut squash quinoa salad


Recipe: One Sweet Mess

What I like best: Such a weird combo of flavors and textures! But it all ends up complementing itself. The earthiness of the quinoa and squash steady things out, while the scallions, pomegranate seeds and feta cheese all kind of do battle with each other in the best way. Plus — if you’re as insane as I am, you’ll simply enjoy admiring its jewel tones through a clear Tupperware. If you don’t know what the hell to do with a pomegranate, here’s a how-to. Add roasted chicken or tofu if you want some extra protein — I’d recommend seasoning lightly with rosemary and pepper.

Good for: A solid side dish for any sandwich or soup you’re packing for lunch.

Pairs with: Any steady-Eddie, less-than-$10 table red, like this one from Gnarly Head

Indian daal and rice bowls

Photo credit: Clean Food Dirty City

Recipe: Clean Food Dirty City

What I like best: I like feeling like I know what to do with lentils. Also I accidentally amassed three separate containers of garam masala so I like burning through it as fast as possible. I follow CFDC’s advice about prepping kale from her Into The Gloss interview and simply sautee it like that for a second before adding in place of the spinach, which I think is boring. I skip her cilantro chutney tip because ughh cleaning a food processor BUT I am growing my own cilantro which is so #curatedlifestyle #anthropologie of me but WATCH me GIVE a SHIT so anyway maybe that will change next time I cook this.

Good for: Something cheap enough to feed you for a week without hurting your wallet but also without feeling like a PB+J.

Pairs with: Last I ate this, I enjoyed it with Lonerider’s Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen. I don’t know if that’s right, per se, but I didn’t hate the two together. Probably any witbier would do, as a complement to how dense the dish is. That sounds right.

Overnight oats a la Alyssa

One of my fantastic former BK roommates inspired me to copy her slash steal her mason jars on the weekly to make this awesome overnight oats recipe of hers. I usually made these on Sunday night for the week of work ahead.

Overnight oats 2.0 inspo via Clean Food Dirty City.

This recipe isn’t from any blog, just from her brain to mine, so I’ll attempt to transcribe:

  • 1 cup instant oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup yogurt (I like Trader Joe’s Vanana or Silk’s Almond Milk one)
  • Two handfuls of normal-sized strawberries, diced (raspberries, blueberries, bananas work too)
  • Two tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Two tablespoons of peanut or almond butter
  • Handful of chopped walnuts or almonds
  • Dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and honey, to taste

Throw all in a bowl and mix until oatmeal isn’t dry. Then slowly pour in:

  • up to 2/3ish cup almond or regular milk

until everything’s a good texture. Not soupy, but not so thick you could make a granola bar. The chia seeds and oats will soak up the yogurt and milk, so you don’t want it to be too dense. Feel it out.

Scoop into adorable mason jars or other food storage thingys, and refrigerate until you want to eat! Should fill about four 8oz. jars. Will stay good for 4-5 days.

Grown-up grilled cheese, aka Fatty McPhatt brie and jam melts


JK Rowling ya, these aren’t fattening. But they feel like they should be. Deb and Anthony and I made these for my inaugural first hosted meal in my new digs. I made it up a year ago, probably inspired by something on Pinterest at 4am. I will tell the recipe to you like a beautiful story. **Definitely not vegan**

Get some good-ass wheat bread from a local bakery or farmer’s market and cut into slices 1/3-1/2 inch thick. Heat up some olive oil on low heat in a frying pan. Spread some quality raspberry jam on two pieces of bread. Add thinly-sliced chunks of your favorite brie cheese and layer on a slice or two of ham or turkey if you like. Drizzle a bit of honey inside to taste. Butter one side of the sandwich (I use pretend butter) after it’s assembled, and lay down in warm olive oil. Cook slowly on both sides until cheese is melted and bread golden and crunchy. Serve with a big green salad. Optional: Weep from joy.

Pairs with: Pinot noir, you fool

Mashed chickpea salad sandwich

Photo credit: The Simple Veganista

Recipe: The Simple Veganista

What I like best: This is so easy to make, requires no electricity or gas or overnight sittin’. Tastes great between two pieces of good toasted bread and makes me wonder why I don’t incorporate more mustard into my daily life. Make sure to slice the carrot super thin so its tougher crunch doesn’t take over the texture of the mixture.

Good for: A no-brainer healthy weekend lunch when your friend cancels your brunch plans (sorry that’s usually me hi)

Pairs with: A green smoothie! Or a mimosa tbh

PS lest we forget my life-changing burritos, you best refresh yourself on that one.

In case it’s not clear, you’re all welcome to come over any time you like and cook or eat with me. I love company. And let me know how it goes if you try any of these out.

Until then, xo

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Aunt Alice says:

    Welcome back, Joanna! I’m glad you’re back down south. Please, know you’re welcome in Waxhaw anytime you like. We love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jorutter says:

      Thanks Aunt Alice! Been thinking of you and the Waxhaw fam this weekend and send my love. I would love to come visit when I can, you are so sweet! I love you too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s