Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nature's Market - Houston, TX

After getting off the plane in Houston, I really wanted a quick, healthy lunch near the medical center. I wanted to explore the downtown and see a friend. After searching on Google, I found Nature's Market. It's in the Mosaic Center, so it's easy to pass by without noticing the sign saying it's in the center. I ordered a veggie panini without the cheese. The sandwiches are served with little salads, but I also bought a small bag of sea salt & pepper chips, a Mexican Fanta, and a pack of Justin's dark chocolate PB cups. This was a great lunch and I got a nice seat by the window. Can't ask for more than that! :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Radical Eats - Houston, TX

I was just in Houston this week for a postdoc interview. I found Radical Eats online before the trip, so I was determined to make it to the restaurant. Well, it's in an area where construction for the light rail has the middle of the road completely tore up. The lane was rather narrow, but there were signs marking businesses so I was able to know where to turn. I ordered a Mexican Coke (made with real sugar!), potato flautas, a black bean and chipotle tamale, and a fried avocado taco. They served a little container of free chips and I picked the hottest salsa for for dipping. They also had cookies from Sinfull Bakery, so I picked one for dessert. I loved the whole meal, enough to be content without eating so much I felt like I would burst. The shop was tiny and unusual, but full of character. Another table had selected some music, the ceiling tiles had an Asian dragon on them for some reason, and the other diners were a diverse bunch.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Week in Canada

I've neglected this blog lately because I've been so busy. I went home for Easter. My family spent part of the day together. For brunch, my aunt made me tofu quiches (no idea where the recipe is from) and blueberry chocolate chip blondies (based on the raspberry recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance). I spent some time with my family and with Jennie during the few days that I was home. We went out to lunch at Genghis Grill (build your own stir-fry) one day. Then, I went for an interview in Nashville. I had dinner with some members of the group at Tin Angel. I could only order the pasta with fresh veggies, minus parmesan, so I wish I had checked the revised itinerary prior to the trip to suggest a different restaurant. The original restaurant had a veggie burger at least. I don't think the group is a good match for me. I packed my bags for Canada next. I spent all of the last week in Canada, specifically Whistler and Vancouver. The food was expensive! Whistler is where the 2010 Olympics were held, so that might be why my boss commented that it was more expensive than he remembered (the 2008 conference was in Whistler too). After finally making it to the hotel on Sunday, I went to the nearby Milestones grill for a veggie burger and fries. The burger's texture reminded me of Gardein. For the conference, here's a breakdown of the meals:
Day 1 - Lunch provided: veggie rolls in rice paper, pasta salad (with olives, red pepper, and pesto), and salad. Dinner at Three Below: ordered a veggie quesadilla, no cheese, add guacamole to try to hold things together. Nothing exciting about these meals. No photos either.

Day 2 - Lunch at Chinese Bistro: Tofu and sauteed veggies (no picture, it wasn't that good anyways). Dinner at the hotel: Tofu stirfry, kimchi fried rice, cold soba noodle salad, and mixed vegetables.

Day 3 - Lunch at Tandoori Grill: vegetable samosas topped with chana masala. Best meal I had in Whistler. Dinner at the hotel: Quinoa with spinach, squash, and mushrooms. This was a special request, since the buffet's only vegan option was salad.

Day 4 - Lunch at Mongolie Grill: build your own stir-fry, charged by weight. I had tofu and vegetables with the spicy teriyaki sauce. Dinner at the hotel: Tofu noodle dish. The tofu was incredible with its grill marks. This was a special request, since the buffet was loaded with cheese.

Day 5 - Conference over, so I went into Vancouver with one of my labmates. We had lunch at Urban Fare, it's similar to Whole Foods. I got the prepackaged chickpea curry with rice, a vegetable samosa, and a banana. We walked all over the city, including Chinatown and the waterfront. Chinatown was awful - it stunk like urine in several places and was rather ugly. The downtown smelled like weed, because it was 4/20 and the area around the art gallery was closed down for a pot-smoking festival. At the waterfront, we walked around Canada Place. We ended up by Cooper's Park where we watched people rowing along the river. We had dinner at the Hurricane Grill, where I ordered the Dragon Glaze tofu dish.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Past Week

I just realized that I posted about earning my PhD on April Fools' Day. I really did defend my thesis last Thursday. :)

After taking Jennie back to our hometown, I met up with a friend in Miami. One of my neighbors from Baton Rouge went on a vacation to Jamaica, so his return flight included an overnight stay in Miami. We met up for dinner at La Rosa and then headed to Mango's on South Beach. His girlfriend can actually dance, so we ended up letting her dance with randoms while we giggled about our four left feet. I stepped on my friend's foot and couldn't stop laughing about it. It was great to see him and meet his new girlfriend. His old girlfriend from BR is a very nice girl, but I guess things didn't work out between them. He met this girl and they really hit it off when they discussed their favorite authors on their first date. It's nice to see happy couples, it reminds me that my day will come. My friend and I were discussing how it's hard to meet someone smart enough to date. (He also has a PhD, but his degree is in physics - quantum optics.)

This week, I've been eating a bunch of random things - Daiya cheese quesadillas with spicy guacamole, Gardein chicken fingers or Yves veggie dogs with sweet potato fries and broccoli, and Chinese take-out. Tonight, I'm going out with some friends to celebrate someone's birthday. We're going to an Irish restaurant/pub. I called about their vegetable pot pie, the only vegetarian-looking dish on the menu. The crust contains butter, so I made some biscuits (totally cheating, they're from a tube!). I'll either ask to hold the crust or peel it off. Since one of the girls is bringing a cake, I'm going to stop by Whole Foods and grab a vegan cupcake for my dessert.

Anyways, I finished the corrections to my thesis text, but I need to update all the citations tomorrow and have my boss review the new intro. I'm hoping to go home in the next day or two, so I can spend Easter with my family. Then, I'll spend time with my sister, since it's her birthday today, and prepare for my interview trip.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

PhD earned

I presented my thesis defense on Thursday. I think it could have gone a little better. One of my committee members interrupted me during the talk and that started a series of aggressive questions. I felt caught off guard, but I did my best to bounce back. Everyone said I did a great job, but that some of my answers did sound defensive. Oh well, lesson learned. I was under the impression that my committee would question me in private, instead of in front of the audience, especially with questions like, "Why didn't you do this?" I thought it was quite rude, but one of my committee members gave me a lecture on how he was offended that I paused my seminar so he would stop whispering to my boss. He later asked me a question during the private part that was explained right after I stared him down and waited for him to stop whispering. I left the defense incredibly annoyed and pissed off. Not how I envisioned my big day. Whatever, I passed, it's over. I do have to add some background figures into my thesis introduction section, but that won't take more than a couple days. I had to make corrections anyways, because some of the recently accepted papers from our group now have official citations. I made my poster for the upcoming conference in Canada already, so I just need to get it printed next week. Sadly, no one got a photo of me with my family before the defense. Totally spaced out and forgot to ask someone to do that. I had even gone to get a haircut and have my hair blown straight that morning, so I actually looked nice. :(

Anyways, my mom, my sister, and my best friend Jennifer came to the talk. We had pepperoni crescent rolls for lunch, but I used Daiya vegan cheese and Yves vegan pepperoni in my rolls. After the talk, there was a little reception in our department. My labmate, Laura, baked some vegan chai spice cupcakes for me using tea and rice milk. How sweet. There was chocolate non-vegan cake, Oreos, beer, and wine available. After the reception, which turned into an excuse for faculty to drink beer and talk about their time in grad school, we went to Yard House for a drink and dinner. I ordered a Gardein chicken rice bowl and margarita. My sister got their mac and cheese squared, my mom got the turkey club with sweet potato fries, and Jennie got the spicy jambalaya over linguine noodles. My mom and my sister headed home after dinner, but Jennie stayed the weekend with me! We went to Rocco's Tacos on PGA with some friends for another drink and laughs. We didn't stay out too late, because it was a Thursday and I don't really drink anymore. I felt like I could have fallen asleep at 7 PM because I had been so amped up on stress hormones all day.



On Friday, Jennie and I went kayaking around the intercoastal (with a rented two-seater kayak from Jupiter Outdoor Center) and had a late lunch at Yard House again. I got the fried gardein chicken fingers and fries, one of my favorites. She ordered the jambalaya again, silly girl. We grabbed some snacks at Whole Foods around the corner - chocolate Almond Dream ice cream and popcorn. We brought our snacks home and watched some movies. I drove her back to our hometown on Saturday, bringing the cats with us. I left the cats at my mom's and returned to south Florida today. I am meeting a friend from Baton Rouge later, so I'm really looking forward to that. It's been over 3 years since we saw each other.