Someone Else Should Make Dinner

CandlesEvery year since we moved to Oklahoma, in the weeks coming up to my birthday, Kel asks, “What would you like to do for your birthday?”  And every year I reply, “Let’s go into the city!”  Just in case you think the Sooner state is all Dust Bowl and whipping-winds-plains, Oklahoma boasts two cities: Oklahoma City and Tulsa.  But when I say “the city,” I mean Oklahoma City.  We tried Tulsa one year for my birthday, and it was great, but – we just like OKC better.  I could give you the reasons why, but I don’t want to bruise Tulsa’s feelings.  Suffice to say the reasons have to do with coffee, food and ambiance.  It doesn’t hurt that a big, beautiful Whole Foods recently opened its doors there.

One of the main reasons I like to go into the city for my birthday is because of my philosophy that on my birthday, Someone Else Should Make Dinner (as well as the other meals, if possible) – and our tiny, shadow of a town just can’t offer the kind of eating opportunities that we prefer.  But OKC does.  This year my birthday wish was no exception.  May 18 was the day and we hopped into the Subaru and headed west.  Here’s what we did:

Lunch, Mocha, Bookstore

LunchMochaOld BooksDinner.
No journey to Oklahoma City is complete unless we’ve stopped at Whole Foods at least once.  Not only is it a reliable place to pick up a vegan meal and load up on staples for the pantry, it’s in a really fun area with unique shops and great walking space for Ike (and us).  After a quick shopping trip in WF and lunch on their patio we headed into downtown proper for our caffeine fix at a local roasters.  OKC has become a real gourmet coffee town, which works for Kel and me quite nicely.

Matthew Kenney

After coffee, we gave Ike a good walk and relaxed a while before dinner at Matthew Kenney.  I’ve written about this place before and it still amazes me that OKC is home to a raw restaurant and raw culinary institute.  How did that happen?  The restaurant staff is made up for the most part by students and the food is inventive, fresh and flavorful.  Both the food and the restaurant itself are beautiful.  The real stand-outs on the menu are always the desserts.

One thing that strikes me about this restaurant is how different the kitchen is.  And I don’t mean because everything is raw and instead of ovens and flat-tops, there are rows of Vitamix blenders and dehydrators.  Have you ever noticed the frenetic buzz of activity in the open kitchens in conventional restaurants?  The staff is constantly moving, dodging each other, smoke and steam rising, plates and hot pans flying everywhere.  At Matthew Kenney, there is a much slower vibe.  Staff pad back and forth behind the large work areas carrying big bowls of fresh greens, chunks of fruit and trays of dehydrated produce.  There’s no need to worry about flipping that steak before it goes from medium-rare to well-done.  It’s almost Zen-like in the spotless kitchen at Matthew Kenney and that peacefulness translates into one’s dining experience.  (Icing on my birthday “cake” was a gift certificate waiting for me at the restaurant – thank you, dear!  You know who you are ;-).)

Better Block OKC

Build A Feet-happy City.
I love that Oklahoma City is growing in positive ways.  Rundown areas are being revitalized, new buildings are going up and shops and restaurants are coming in and the young population is eating it all up.  A small pop-up street fair of sorts happened to take place during our visit, so I knew we had to go check it out.  The Better Block OKC project was all about demonstrating how to make cities more pedestrian- and people-friendly with the focus on quick and inexpensive (think re-purposed and recycled) solutions for maximum effect.  There were temporary store fronts, food trucks (no vegan ones, sadly), graffiti artists, live music, crafts and fresh, local produce for sale.

Boathouse District Collage

Down By The River (The Boathouse District).
Ever since living in Cambridge, MA and then in Washington, DC, I’ve nursed a secret desire to row.  There’s just something about it – the early mornings, the glide over the water, the athleticism – that appeals to me.  I planned on taking a rowing class in DC, but we moved before I could turn that plan into action.  Being rather land-locked on a ranch, the only rowing I can do is atop my beautiful Indorow machine.  I love it, but it’s a far cry from being on the water.  Little did I know that rowing had – well – followed me to OKC.  The premier training site for Olympic and Paralympic rowers is right there – on the Oklahoma River.  And I just found this out about a week ago.  I’m so tickled by this, you cannot imagine!  Tops on my list of things to do in OKC was visit this site and I wasn’t disappointed.

There’s a wonderful walking and bike path that follows the river with plenty of trees and good views of the city skyline.  The boathouses are architecturally stunning and being able to watch the elegant boats skimming over the water is a real treat.  I felt the itch to climb into a sleek, tapered scull and take off – with Ike as the coxswain, of course.

We wrapped up our OKC visit with a trip to Second Chance Books (Kel and I can’t resist used book stores) followed by lunch at Coolgreens (a local chain offering fresh salads and flatbreads) and one last mocha for the road.  Now I’ve got a whole year to plan our next birthday adventures…

50 thoughts on “Someone Else Should Make Dinner

  1. Steve

    Happy belated birthday! Souds like a great time. And you’ve taught me several new things- e.g. There’s a river in Oklahoma… Who knew?

    Best wishes!

  2. Somer

    Such a wonderful birthday Annie! Glad you had such a great trip into the city. And that cake….Wow!!!

  3. Joyness Sparkles

    Yay! I am so glad that you enjoyed your birthday! How fun! I have not been to OKC since just after the bombing. I lived in Tulsa for many years though and enjoyed my time there. Thank you for showing these pictures, it was nice to see a glimpse of OK again. 🙂

  4. Brittany

    Ok I have officially fallen in love with you. You have a Subaru, I could have guessed this..and I am so incredibly jealous. I love..LOVE my Toyota, but my next car will be a Subaru. Happy Birthday to you, and I love the way you spent the day!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Brittany, my Subaru is the best. It’s 10 years old, looks great, runs perfectly and has a cassette player and bum warmers. What more could I possibly need? Thanks for the birthday wishes, luv!

  5. tearoomdelights

    Happy belated birthday from me too, and thank you for sharing your day out. That Whole Foods place looks huge, I can imagine you might spend a fortune in there. Matthew Kenney sounds great, I love the idea of the slow pace in the kitchen. Right enough, with raw food there’s no timing issue is there? I’ve never eaten in a raw restaurant before, I’d like to try it. I agree with you about rowing, it’s a lovely exercise. I used to row quite a bit on my rowing machine but unfortunately I can’t do it now due to back trouble. Being out on the water is lovely though, and rather nice if you’re being rowed and can just lie back and drink in the scenery!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Lorna, I really have to watch myself at Whole Foods. It’s a dangerous place! Thank goodness I live 2 hours away. Being rowed as opposed to rowing does sound pretty good ;-)!

  6. tinykitchenstories

    Happy of happiest birthdays to a truly wonderful person! And to think you’ve given ME such a lovely gift over the past few months—your friendship, although (sadly) a long-distance one. May this year be full of new experiences, love and laughter!

    OKC looks very nice, and I’m also shocked that there’s a raw food restaurant and institute there. How exciting! (And BTW, OKC is kicking the Lakers’ butts in the NBA Playoffs, so they’ve got that going for them. Darn that Durant!)

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Awww, thanks, Jennifer!! I feel so lucky to have met you and who knows, one of these days we might even get to enjoy a vegan meal together :-)! Yes, I’m excited for the Thunder! Not as excited as MOST Okies, but ya know, happy and all.

  7. My Plant Based Family

    I’m glad you had such a lovely day! I think someone else should do all of the cooking on birthday’s too! It looks like OKC has added some great spots since I lived there. Although we were eating pretty dreadfully when we lived there so we were always excited about Taco Cabana.
    Happy Birthday!

  8. Rachel in Veganland

    Happy Birthday! You’ll be getting a happy little cactus in the mail soon! 🙂 Annie, I LOVE this post! It has the same joy I find when I right my “Through the Looking Glass” posts, and I love that. I’d love to see more of these from you, maybe I’m just creepy or maybe I like to like vicariously, but I love seeing what other vegans are up to when with their eats etc. and this post gives me a fun window through which to see your world! Thanks for making me smile today!

    1. An Unrefined Vegan

      Thanks, Rachel! Can’t wait for my cuddly cactus ;-)! I also like living vicariously – it’s fun to see what’s happening in other parts of the country and world, especially as it relates to plant-based eating. I don’t get out much, well, not into vegan-friendly territory anyway, so reading about other people’s adventures is like taking a quick trip somewhere new!

  9. Isobel Morrell

    So sorry I missed the date – think I was notified via Facebook, but I was having one of my battles with that site and forgot! Great post – you made me wish I could go to all the places you sent to – and bought my idea of OKC somewhat up to date! My view was, after all, fashioned by that wonderful musical “Oklahoma” – and things have obviously changed a lot since then!

  10. keepinitkind

    Happy Belated Birthday! That sounds like a lovely day! Isn’t it funny how we are drawn to Whole Foods (or other natural grocery stores) in other places? I feel the need to explore them all, wherever I go. Thank you for the tip on Matthew Kenney- it looks delicious and I too love the vibe in raw restaurants- so zen!

  11. Shira

    Happy Belated Birthday Annie!! I just about bought a Matthew Kenney book this weekend….it looks (and sounds) wonderful! This is a great post – what a wonderful re-cap of a great day!

  12. Nihacc

    Happy birthday!!! What a wonderful birthday! I love that kind of plan for celebrating a special day, and I totally agree with ‘someone else should make dinner’ 😉


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.