Lauren Winter AW15

Another beautiful collection from Lauren Winter is out, and like usual it’s filled with interesting shapes and dramatic styles. More Asian-inspired clothes, like a kimono-ish wrap jumpsuit and a skirt with a traditional Thai-style waistband. I really like that Lauren puts so much thought into her clothes. I like nerdy (in the best possible way) and historical influences. I like the unique details Lauren’s clothes have, from handkerchief hems to origami-inspired folds that tie at the waist.

The lookbook was photographed in Charleston at one of my favorite places, and it’s pretty great too. You can check out the rest of the looks on Lauren’s site and in her shop . . .

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I don’t think I ever mentioned here that we were moving to Portland, Oregon because it was something I was so excited about that I was half afraid it might never happen. Also it was something we just decided on one day last fall while we were hiking; even when we had the moving pods scheduled to come and the house cleaned out and packed up it still didn’t seem real.

We decided to move out west sometime last year when we realized that Nashville wasn’t the place for us. It’s not a bad city at all; I think I would have liked living there a lot more years before it became the “cool” city to live in. I liked it when it was still gritty and full of character, before it became over-hyped and over-instagrammed. To be fair I think we’ve changed a lot over the last few years too, and we’re just into different things now (right now mostly hiking and running and cooking vegan food), and after hiking at the city’s best park and eating at one of the few vegetarian spots for the hundredth time, we knew it was time to leave.

So last month we drove across the country and moved to Portland. We stayed with friends until we found a house to rent, and spent the first week going on mountain hikes, searching Craigslist for rentals (which is not fun right now—especially glad it’s over) and eating at a few of the crazy amount of vegan restaurants around town. I’ll have to do a post about the food here because I still can’t get over how good it is and how there are so many vegan cafes and food carts and bars and bakeries around here that we’ll probably never be able to hit them all.

Our friend Bobby (I think his codename on this blog was always Lightfoot) moved to Portland from Atlanta years ago, and when we got to town he showed us some hikes on the way to the Columbia River Gorge. So far we’ve seen lots of waterfalls and mountains and a few bald eagles. Last weekend Drew and I went out to the coast and hiked up a mountain and then had lunch on the beach. Our weekends are pretty different now.

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Lauren Winter S/S 15

I’m so glad that there are new spring collections out to post, because I’m beyond tired of winter and particularly Nashville gloom. We’re supposedly getting yet another snow (ice) storm tonight, and right now it’s raining, and all I want is for the sun to come out and the ground to dry up so we can go hiking. So I like Lauren Winter’s new spring/summer ’15 collection because it’s light and crisp and because it reminds me of warm (hot) spring weather in Savannah, Georgia. But what I really love is that navy jumpsuit, because I don’t get Savannah from it as much as 1930s socialite on a beach in Southern France, and I can’t really think of a better inspiration to have.

Clothes: Lauren Winter . . . Photos: Lydia Baird.

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Books I Like: Favorite Cookbooks

1. Salad Samurai

Terry Hope Romero is probably my favorite vegan cookbook writer. My copy of her Vegan Eats World has been used so many times that the whole thing is falling apart. The pages are coming out and the spine is cracked, but the recipes are so good and the flavor combinations are so interesting that I keep taking it off the shelf. I might like Salad Samurai even more. I’m so glad that salads—and bowls—-are trendy now, because I love them, but not the boring, barebones kinds you find in too many restaurants still. The best kinds of salads never leave you hungry. They’re filled with filling proteins and vegetables that are hearty and flavors that you could never find in a bottle of salad dressing from the grocery store.

I wish that restaurants around here served salads like the ones in Salad Samurai. For one thing there are so many different types to pick from. The recipes in the book are separated by season (which I love), starting out light and fresh in spring, and gradually getting heartier and warmer into winter. As in Vegan Eats World, a lot of the recipes are inspired by international cuisine. Mexican, Korean, Thai, Italian, Indian . . . All filling and all good. We’ve cooked most of the recipes already and haven’t found a single one we didn’t like.

Favorites: Vanessa Kabocha Salad (Chinese five-spice!!), Pesto Cauliflower and Potato Salad, Gingery Beets and Lentils with Tahini and Agave Nectar, and Tempeh Reubenesque Salad.

2. A Modern Way to Eat

Anna Jones is a Jamie Oliver protégé who happens to be vegetarian, and that was reason enough for me to want to check out her book. Drew and I were big Jamie Oliver fans before we started eating vegan, and we are again now that he includes so many vegan recipes in his magazine and on his site. Anna Jones has a similar, super laid-back cooking style. Her recipes sometimes call for “handfuls” of ingredients rather than measurements, and they’re the opposite of pretentious. I also just love the Britishness of them. Right now I’m obsessed with The Great British Bake Off (how did I never see it until now?!) so I like seeing things I recognize from the show, like Yorkshire puddings and savory pies.

Favorites: Beetroot Curry, Kale and Black Sesame Sushi Bowl, Cardamom and Star Anise Winter Squash Soup, and Lemony Lentil and Crispy Kale Soup.

3. At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen

Amy Chaplin had a blog called Coconut & Quinoa that I didn’t know about until her book came out last year. I don’t know how I missed it. Her recipes are just the kind I like. They’re healthy and inventive and they stand on their own as vegetarian/vegan dishes, rather than just being meatless versions of standard meals. No fake meats here. Sometimes I’m wary when bloggers come out with books, but Amy Chaplin has been working as a vegetarian chef for 20 years, and she knows her stuff.

Favorites: Roasted Winter Vegetables and Arugula Salad with Mustard Dressing, Spicy Chickpea Stew, Beet Chickpea Cakes, and Roasted Fall Vegetable Cannellini Bean Stew with Spelt Berries and Kale.

And, upcoming cookbooks that I know will be favorites:

Street Vegan: We’re going to New York next month, and one of the things I was most excited about doing was finally going to the Cinnamon Snail food truck. Now it looks like it might never happen; the owners had trouble getting a permit and are closing up shop at the end of this month. It’s sad news, but it would be much sadder if it weren’t for the Cinnamon Snail cookbook coming out in May. Will my own vanilla bourbon crème brulée donuts or Gochujang burger be as good as the ones sold on the food truck? Probably not, but since we never got to try the real deal who will know?

My New Roots: Sarah Britton’s blog of the same name was one of the very first ones I went to, back when I was baking a ton but didn’t think I would ever learn how to cook. Following her healthy, somewhat hippie (in the best way) recipes helped me ease into vegetarian cooking, and some of her creations are still in regular rotation over here.

The First Mess: Even before Laura Wright announced that she has a cookbook in the works I was going to include her name here, if only because her blog is my very favorite food blog and I knew she’d have a book out sooner than later. She’s too good not to. Most food blog writing is obnoxious filler that needs to be space barred over (they. write. like. this. or like: this. is. the. most. amazing. thing. you. will. eat.) but I always read what Laura has to say. She gardens and she comes up with creative and healthy meals that look restaurant-worthy but aren’t all that hard to make. Pre-order for sure.

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