Food, Friends, Philadelphia, and Beans

Char, Jill meet in person at Moms

The one year anniversary of my moving from my forever home in New York City to my new forever home Philadelphia (a.k.a. The City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love) became a day-long celebration of, well, love.

The Veggie Queen visits Philly
The Veggie Queen visits Philly

The Basics

My longtime sister-from-another-mister Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen, was due for a short visit Monday through dawn Wednesday. Her upcoming visit had me not only excited, it but moved my packing and organizing for this weekend’s departure to the resort and spa that Jill and I love most in the world—Rancho La Puerta—into high gear.

BIrthday Cake at RPL Last year. For me this year!
BIrthday cake at Rancho La Puerta last year. I’ll be at The Ranch for my birthday this year!

I’m going to give you an idea of Jill’s whirlwind visit and my ever deepening appreciation of Philly and the many Philly friends who’ve supported me over the years and made my move a piece of vegan cake in this blog post today.

Jill eats my lunch salad on my terrace
Jill eats her lunch salad on my terrace in Philadelphia

Day 1

Jill, who had stayed with me in my New York City apartment, walked in and her jaw dropped. “Fran, you have so much more space AND a terrace with a view!” Yes, I do, and I’m grateful for it. I had a heart connection with this apartment, and as soon as I walked in, I knew. I’d made a big lunch salad for us, using chickpeas “leftover” from making the aquafaba meringue that she tasted for dessert, three ways. Certainly, the plating of these desserts is awful but I wanted her to taste all of the meringues, along with the raw chocolate tart I’ll be making at the Ranch. It is a recipe from the Rouxbe Essential Vegan Desserts course.

Ask Jill to taste 3 desserts
I asked Jill to taste 3 desserts

We waited for my new sofa to be delivered– it was and it’s very nice,  and then we hit the streets. Happy Hour at VEDGE was a must, and I live just five minutes away. We enjoyed all of the dishes on the Happy Hour Menu, and then off the menu, we tasted three perfect ice creams: Rhubarb, Snickers, and Kumquat. Jill got to meet chefs Kate and Rich, too. A fellow diner told us about the live Cuban music happening at 8 pm at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. We went, we listened, watched, and danced.

Happy Hour at Vedge finale off the menu
Happy Hour at Vedge ice creams from the dinner menu.


Friends finding friend's products at Mom's Organic Market – Jill with Miyoko's Creamery Butter
Friends finding friend’s products at Mom’s Organic Market – Jill with Miyoko’s Creamery Butter

Day 2

It was time for Jill and chef-educator Charlene Nolan to meet in person at the market that has become my go-to, Mom’s Organic in Center City. As a New Yorker, I had never heard of Mom’s, but Char told me I’d be there several times a week, and that is true. We strolled over. While awaiting Char’s arrival, we played “spot the friends’ products.” That included Soom Tahini, Kite Hill, Follow Your Heart among many of the others, and our gal-pal Miyoko’s Vegan Butter was back in stock as you can see.

Char, Jill meet in person at Moms
Char & Jill meet in person at Mom’s

Jill, Char, and I chatted for about 2 hours, after posing with produce. Then Jill and I went on to Reading Terminal Market. We didn’t take any photos, but you bet we had fun.

Special lunch salad at MOMS
Special lunch salad at Mom’s in Center City, Philadelphia

A Walking Tour of Philadelphia

The real walking that totaled six miles by the time we reached our final destination, Soy Café, for dinner, began now. We went to Independence Plaza, Penn’s Landing, and to the 9th Street Italian Market to see Fantes Kitchen Shop. I told Jill they carried everything, and she soon agreed. Jill got to meet the owners Mariela and Liana and talk pressure cooking. We also went to Cardenas Taproom, where Jill flipped for the fig balsamic, in particular.

Mushroom Pho at Soy
Mushroom Pho at Soy Café

Although I’m much better about directions now, I’m still known as Wrong Way Costigan, so I was thoughtful about walking to Northern Liberties and Soy Café, where we’d meet chef Alice and wish her a happy 14 year birthday for the café, along with Dynise Balcavage and Andrea Corbi Fein, a lovely and talented Philly friend who is a Rouxbe Plant Pro grad. This took us through many neighborhoods, and with about 1.5 miles to go, we started flagging but persisted. Once we got to Second Street, I showed Jill Penn Herb, the oldest natural food stores in the city,  and Blackbird Pizza, a few doors away from Soy Café. We sat down tired and revived ourselves a bit with an Inspired Brew Kombucha.

How to cook beans
How to cook beans

The Beans

So what do beans have to do with this? Well, one of the dinner companions mentioned she’d met someone who didn’t know what a bean was. We all agreed that people who want to eat more healthfully need to be taught compassionately. There are no dumb questions!


Jill's book Vegan Under Pressure
Jill’s book Vegan Under Pressure
Check beans for pebbles and such
Check beans for pebbles and such

At home after a delicious dinner and a lot of laughing, I asked Jill if she’d give me a beginner’s tutorial on my Instant Pot. Wouldn’t you have? We did a spontaneous Facebook live and I did learn a lot of the use of the Instant Pot. Jill left for the airport before I was up today. After my coffee, I sorted aduki beans, wanting to put the best practices I’d learned from Jill to the test.  I’ve been thinking about aduki bean-based desserts. The red beans, which I was introduced to when I studied macrobiotics, are a popular main ingredient in red bean desserts in desserts in Asia, but I needed to cook the beans first. And so….. to be continued.

Aduzi Beans Instant Pot Prep
Aduki Beans Instant Pot Prep
Are the beans ready?
Are the beans ready?






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