I am so done with cities.
It turns out I am no longer the big city girl I used to be, more like a quaint-but-happening medium size town girl. Eh?
After spending the majority of my 20s either living in or visiting big metropolises, I can now confidently say I no longer have the same fascination for big city life that I once had.
The straw that broke the camel’s back?
Last weekend, I accompanied my Soldier to Atlanta. His team followed an invitation to meet with one of the big sponsors of the Georgia Aquarium which included a backstage tour of the facilities for all of us!
While I enjoyed the company of dear friends and phenomenal raw, vegan food along the way, I wasn’t too impressed with Atalanta. The constant rain didn’t help.
On our first day, we took an Uber car to mid-town which lead us through a tunnel. I haven’t spent much time in cities in recent years so I’m no longer used to some typical city sights, such as homeless folks lining every square meter of sheltered space; there must have been close to a hundred poor souls along those sidewalks of the tunnel we drove through. That definitely put a damper on my mood.
Atlanta is ranked No. 1 for income inequality and has the biggest gap between poor and rich in the US, according to recent reports. Sadly, there was a lot of evidence for it.
And for the first time, I felt crowded in the city. I used to enjoy the hustle and bustle of big city life; the energy and buzz that surrounds everyone and everything but this time – not so much.
Looking out the window of our downtown Atlanta hotel room at all the concrete and traffic jams made me want to pack our bags and go back home. Home to our cozy house in our quite neighborhood surrounded by woods, lakes and parks and all the peace of mind that comes with it.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of things I once thought I would never ever do in my entire life – such as wear flat shoes on the reg (eeek!) or enjoy country-style living in rural North Carolina.
No offense, Atlanta, but I won’t be back any time soon.
I’m all about comfort food these days.
As the temperatures sink, I crave pot roasts, soups and casseroles.
Shepherd’s Pie has always been a favorite of mine; it’s one of the few British dishes I thoroughly enjoy! No offense but the UK really hasn’t contributed much to the culinary world, except Shepherd’s Pie and, oh, Banoffi Pie! Ammiright?!
Instead of ground lamb which is typically used in Shepherd’s Pie, I used delicious wild mushrooms. Their earthy, rich flavor and meaty texture make them the perfect meat substitute!
With the exception of adding mushrooms and some minor alterations, I stuck to the original recipe. In a sense, this is a vegan base recipe for Shepherd’s Pie; you could easily add more vegetable and spices – or a dash of red wine!
What’s more comforting than mashed potatoes with roasted garlic? I have only just recently started to incorporate regular potatoes into my diet again. For years, I only ate sweet potatoes which is definitely the healthier choice, no doubt. However, most people don’t seem to realize that potatoes have more to offer than just a load of carbs.
Among other health benefits, potatoes have the potential to lower your blood pressure; they contain a high concentration of B6 which helps to build cells and protects your cardiovascular system.
If you don’t have time to roast a bulb of garlic to add to the mashed potatoes, just mince a few cloves, sauté them for 1-2 minutes but be sure not to brown the garlic as it will turn bitter. Simply mix the sautéed garlic in with the mashed potatoes – done!
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 2-4 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 lb potatoes (Russets or Yukon Gold)
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onions, diced
- ½ cup carrots, thinly sliced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 24 oz mushrooms (wild mix or Portobello), sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon rosemary powder
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut about ¼ inch off the top of the head of garlic and place your head of garlic in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over the cut edge and inside until it is completely filled and just starting to spill down the side. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and roast for 35-40 minutes or until the garlic is soft in the center and golden in color. Allow to cool off before removing the paper from each clove: Gently squeeze each clove out of its paper shell.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into medium size dice. Place in a medium saucepan, cover with water and boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are soft enough to be easily crushed with a fork. Drain the potatoes and add back to your pot (or a large bowl). Add coconut cream, salt, pepper and about 5 cloves of roasted garlic (save the rest for dips, dressings or spreads) and mash the potatoes until smooth.
- Add olive oil to large skillet (the biggest you have) and heat over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté for about 3-4 minutes or until they are slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, then add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir continuously until mushrooms start releasing their juices and sauté for of 10-12 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, thyme and rosemary and stir to combine. Simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce is thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add frozen peas to you mushroom sauce and pour into a 1.75 quart baking dish; spread out evenly. Top with your garlic roasted mashed potatoes. Be sure to “seal” the edges of your baking dish with enough mashed potatoes so the filling won’t cook over. Bake at 400F for approximately 30-35 minutes or until the mashed potatoes turn golden around the edges.
- Allow your Shepard’s Pie to cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!