Eat Me.

Anything you can do we can do vegan.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Recent Developments

A quick update on the past two weeks:

Where I have been:

Virginia
Chicagoland
Iowa

What I have been doing:

Knitting
Driving
Sniffling (Thanks Ian!)

What I have been eating:

Lots of Chinese takeout: X-mas dinner and Iowa
Rusk Buns
Apples
Takeout from the Mediterranean Market in Fredericksburg

Vegan consideration awards go to:

Evelyn (Amos' grandma) with extra potatoes and other veganized dishes on X-Mas eve.
Debbie and Diana for thinking up ordering out from the Mediterranean Market on X-Mas eve's eve.

What I have had time to cook this Christmas:

Kakie's friend Julie posted that I should DEFINITELY make the microwave caramel corn I had linked back on this blog post . So I did. I didn't have two of the ingredients so subbed maple syrup for corn syrup and evaporated cane juice for brown sugar and all turned out well. And of course vegan butter for dairy butter. But watch out for your microwave because the carmel will go EVERYWHERE if you are not careful. And it was good! Thanks Julie!

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie with walnut crust.

Grogg/Wassail. I had a breakdown in Virgina and had to make some : )

Cookbooks (!) received for X-Mas:

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
Lean and Lucious and Meatless by Bobbie Hinman and Millie Snyder
Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Websites Addicted To:

LOL Cats I Can Has Cheeseburger

Craziest/Grossest Food Items Spotted in Iowa:

Shepherd's Pie casserole with TATER TOTS substituted for the mashed potatoes. OMG I have to try this.
Pistachio pudding mixed with cool whip and marshmallows.
Hydrogenated Buttery/Cheesy sandwich spread.

Cranberry-Grapefruit Scones



A crumby photo of scone dough and only slightly better picture of the finished scones.


I think this morning I created a monster - cranberry grapefruit scones. Amos and I made them for Pankakes (the weekly sunday brunch potluck) and ended up eating almost all of them ourselves (2 or 3 before we left and about 5 once we got there). This is pretty sad but I think I have only had one scone before today in my entire life. I know Diana is a scone addict as well so maybe we can trade some secret scone recipes.

These scones are modified from the Classic Currant Scones recipe originally published in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Although she does offer up some variations on this basic recipe Amos and I had some fresh cranberries from our CSA box and about 35 grapefruits sent to him by his firm for X-Mas. I am sure you can use your imagination and mix it up with whatever you have fresh around the kitchen. These would also probably be pretty good with some Cranberry Orange Relish smeared on them - we ate ours way too fast to even try it!

Cranberry-Grapefruit Scones

You will need:

1-1/2 Tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer
2 Tbsp. Water
2-1/2 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 C Evaporated Cane Juice (or other vegan sugar)
4 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp. Salt
3/4 C Non-Hydrogenated Vegan Butter (such as Earth Balance or Soy Garden)
1/2 C Vanilla Almond Milk
1 C Coarsely Chopped Fresh Cranberries
Zest of 1 Grapefruit

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Whip up the Ener-G egg replacer and water in a small bowl until frothy. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, cane juice, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry cutter or fork mush the butter into the dry ingredients until little pea sized pieces of butter are formed. With a wooden spoon mix in grapefruit zest and cranberries.

Now pour the vanilla almond milk and prepared egg replacer into mixture. With your wooden spoon or fingers or whatever is at hand start stirring gently. Only stir until dry ingredients are just moistened. I had to add about a Tbsp. of almond milk to make it all stick together. (If you stir too much you will get tough funny textured scones. I only know this because I have messed up biscuits too many times by zealously over mixing and scones as far as I can tell are fancy pants biscuits. And the original recipe also tells you this.) With lightly floured fingers gather up your dough into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll or push into a 1/2" thick rectangle or circle. Figure out a way to cut your dough into wedge shapes and place 1/2" apart on your prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack or eat right away.

This recipe should make 8-10 scones.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Brown Rice Crispy Treats

I have been busily making some last minute Christmas presents the past few nights and throwing stamps onto cards but haven't been baking AT ALL!

All I can say is I wish I had a friend that would make me Brown Rice Crispy Treats to ward off the hunger and sugar cravings created by my holiday fervor.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bag It.

If I don't get a new bag for christmas this year I might just have to pick up the Tree and Wood Bag from Brookly Industries. I saw a girl with this shinier bag from them on the EL on Wednesday. Quite flashy. This company seems like it might be a saving grace for those of you wanting non-leather reasonably priced bags.

I also cleaned out my old recipe box the other day crossing out the meat, poultry and cheese tabs. The two catagories that have the largest tabs? Cookies and Cakes, Biscuits and Breads and Foreign Foods. The box actually came with a tab entitled Foreign Foods.

As well as purging the tabs that no longer fit our eating habits I took out the few (ok - a lot) of recipes that I can't believe I ever ate in the first place. Almost all of them have a can of condensed soup, usually cream of chicken or mushroom or bacon or something. Yeesh.

For example this is a recipe that frequently makes an appearance at family gatherings. Potato Casssarole. Sounds innocent no? Just wait.....

1-1/2 lbs. bag of hash browns
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 16 oz package sour cream
1/2 cup butter
8 oz shredded chedder cheese

I suppose since all of these ingredients require no preparation at all this might be an easy dish to make for a crowd. I looked up the fat content of all the ingredients and the grand total (excluding hash browns) is 238 grams. If this dish serves ten people that is 23 grams of fat per person. Woah.

On that note it is time to get my key lime pie out of the oven. What a hypocrite!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Isn't this beautiful?

I saw this blog on tastespotting awhile back. Check out the photos - so beautiful.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Redemption

Earwax Cafe has redeemed itself with hot coffee and seiten rubens.

I totally forgot it was critical mass tonight so we went (completely unprepared) and had to leave early because I couldn't feel my toes anymore and the numbness was spreading up to the balls of my feet into the arches... so we stopped half way home for some dinner and hence the redemption.

We also got our first ever CSA box full of root vegetables I managed to burn to a crisp. It was the worst leftover lunch ever. No other culinary tales.

Maybe we should make this microwave caramel corn?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cranberry-Orange Relish

Our friend Jordan asked us to pass along this recipe. We made it last year for Thanksgiving and I usually make it a few times during the year when I can get your hands on some fresh cranberries. My family has been making it at Thanksgiving ever since I can remember. (Although I didn't like it much as a child!) It also made an appearance in our wedding cake as the filling layered between lemon pound cake. Amos and I slather it on just about everything - cake, cookies, toast, vegetables. The tartness and lemonyness is a perfect contrast to all those sweet things we are bound to have around the house during the holidays.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1 12-oz. Bag Fresh Cranberries
3/4 C Sugar
1/3 C Orange Liquer
1/2 C Orange Juice
1/4 Tsp. Allspice
1/4 Tsp. Ground Cloves
1/4 Tsp. Ground Ginger
1 Tbsp. Orange Zest

Combine all ingredients in a non aluminum pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently. The cranberries will begin to pop (my favorite part!) and the mixture will thicken slightly. This should take about ten minutes.

Remove from heat and store in an airtight container in refrigerator or serve warm.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Morrissey

So this morning I did my yoga, toasted a bagel and innocently started browsing the Food Fight website. Where I happened upon a link to this. I am going to copy a selected poem here because I think it will probably be the only time any of us will hear the tenets of vegetarianism stated so eloquently in a poem about Morrissey.

Morrissey - by Emiko

The beautiful child,
Different from the others.
Though he was a boy - grown up in a day.
A librarian was his goal, he had to take singing.
He sings like a tapping spoon on a glass of wine.
Making me cry is what he wants -
All he wants.
Don't eat your friends -
Meat is murder.
Cow, Pig, Turkey, Fish.
Why can't people settle with yogurt or cheese?
Morrissey is everything -
He will always fill my heart.

If that poem doesn't brighten up your Sunday morning I don't know what will.

In other news my dad and step-mom came over for dinner last night and it was super good. I picked out the menu and prepped the desserts ahead of time but Katie did a great job timing the entrees and it all came out great. I also made foccacia from my new baking cookbook that turned out fantastic. Try out Sbrisolona - a cake I found on the NPR website. (Veganize It!) Ridiculously easy.

Also I really really want to pick up (or at least take a look at) Veganimocon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romeo. Maybe after Pankakes we are going to pick up a copy of the Darjeeling Express soundtrack somewhere on Milwaukee and could maybe see if Quimby's has it in stock. It's getting cold...

(Note: Veganized the sbrisolona with 1 eggs worth of egg replacer mixed into lemon juice instead of water. Also used whole wheat pastry flour. And don't forget the Earth Balance. It also seemed to do fine sitting prepared in the fridge for a day before baking.)



Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ras Dashen

Ras Dashen definitely steps up to the plate in combating the Midwestern blandness I have been encountering at other restaurants. It was exactly what we needed after yoga class tonight and we had been itching to go back since the last time we were there about 16 months ago. Self described on their menu as "Comfort food from the mountains of Ethiopia" you can order from a variety of vegan dishes that will come served on a huge piece of injera bread. Injera is like a sourdough crepe that is really stretchy and has this incredible spongy texture. You use pieces of the bread to pick up the food. For different reasons throughout the meal Amos and I would exclaim:

"We should definitely take Diana here!"
(Because she loves good food and already eats with her hands half the time.)

"We should definitely take (Amos') Dad here!"
(Because he would talk about it for years.)

"If Victoria comes to town we should definitely take her here!"
(Because she loves spicy and good food too.)

We had the chickpeas in berbere sauce with four sides, the most memorable being pickled beet salad, mild yellow split peas and the greens. We didn't try their coffee (roasted fresh daily) but did get the chai (also good). The night-time ride down Lakeshore drive to get to the restaurant didn't hurt either.

If you are in Chicago and you want to eat here check out their website for location and times. There is plenty of street parking. Also they have music on Friday and Saturday nights. If you don't live in Chicago maybe there is an Ethiopian restaurant near you - look at Ethiopian Restaurant Worldwide and find one and eat there!

Cookbook Addict / Last Day of Freedom


Image totally lifted from CompassionateCooks.com.

While we were at Mooshoes in NYC I picked up two pairs of shoes and yet another cookbook. Because normal people buy their cookbooks at shoe stores. At any rate it is so good it tricked my mother into eating tofu. (Shhh! I didn't tell her!) Of course it was only 1/4 of a cup to replace some egg but still. So far I have only tried the lemon bars and brownie recipes but they came out pretty well. They were the first things for me to try because up to now all vegan brownies I have found have been such a pain in the ass to make and I had no idea how to veganize lemon bars.

So maybe you would like to know what this book is. It is The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. It is 288 pages long and includes beautiful photographs, a glossary, conversion tables, a polite explanation why milk sucks (if you don't already know) and other useful tips.

Also this is the last day of freedom before Amos and I start our new jobs. Blagh. If you know us and actually care where we will be working I am working here and Amos here. Did I already post this information? Who knows.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What We Ate In New York


Menu from Vegetarian Dim Sum House.

New York is a great city for vegans. Instead of vegan restaurants just being a few folding tables with plastic tablecloths staffed by volunteers you can go all out and eat vegan on all levels of the restaurant food chain. Not that I dislike vegan restaurants with plastic tablecloths and folding tables but sometimes it is nice to have a choice to go to a regular place or fancy place.

First things first: There are about a million vegan dining guides for New York. I downloaded a printable pdf version available from Friends of Animals here. Honestly this is pretty much the only thing we did to plan for our trip. Since we are totally over the touristy activities it was great to just plan around eating. Seriously eating and a visit to Mooshoes were the only things we planned on doing. Otherwise we just drank coffee and read the newspaper. Our friend Victoria was the best ever in catering to our vegan-centric plans over the three days we were there.

So two restaurants to mention. The first and our favorite is Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Chinatown. On the menu it clearly states multiple times "All we serve is vegetarian dishes." And since they didn't really have any dairy or anything like that they might as well have said "All we serve is vegan dishes." We went around 2 on Sunday ready to eat and drink tea for as long as they would let us sit there. Victoria actually lived in Chinatown until she was ten and her parents own a Chinese restaurant in Louisiana and she liked it so I guess it gets the gold seal of approval. She also laughed her ass off after I accidentally ate the rice paper on the bottom of my mock roast pork bun. I thought it was a bit chewy. Very good - go here.

Our other dining extravaganza was a visit to Candle 79 on the Upper East Side to celebrate our one year anniversary. So Candle 79 if you don't know what it is is the fancier version of Candle Cafe - an infamous vegan restaurant in the same vicinity. It had an intimate, quiet and elegant atmosphere in what seemed to be an old townhouse. We also met up with our Jersey City inhabiting friends Kyo and Chris who were intrigued by the idea of making cream from cashews. (Kyo and Chris just bought a place of their own - Congratulations!)

At any rate the price and atmosphere were comparable to Emeril's or some fancy-pants restaurant like that. Before we went there I checked up on the restaurant and it was rated #3 for vegan food in New York on Super Vegan but mostly everyone said the staff had an attitude. I'm not sure if it was an attitude really but sort of a daze that affected their ability to take our drink order within half an hour of sitting down. Plus the waiter sort of just flung/pushed a straw off his tray at Victoria instead of picking it up and setting in front of her. But lets talk about the food.

The food was pretty good. That's it. Not exceptional. It was nice to go somewhere fancy and be able to order anything from the menu but it's one of those places you want your parents to take you. For now I guess my tastes lay at places where volunteers serve food on folding tables with plastic tablecloths.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Too much going on.

In chronological order:

Our first batch of home-made seitan. Bicycle scavenger hunt. New friends. Pankakes potluck brunch. Halloween. New Job. Visit to Grandma. Lunch with my dad. New York City. One year wedding anniversary.

The seitan went well. We had some vital wheat gluten sitting around and used the recipe in Vegan with a Vengence. I used half of it to make a mushroom stroghanoff (good even though Amos bought sparkling Burgundy to put in the sauce - woops!) The other half I stuffed in green peppers from my aunt be-be's garden and everyone loved them.

If I didn't mention the bicycle scavenger hung or new friends or the pankakes potluck I will update later as I have pictures and such. However the potluck was definitely not vegan - we had forces trying to put bacon fat in our pancakes!

Lunch with Dad - the Federal Reserve Cafeteria is cheap but not a vegan paradise.

Lunch with Grandma - Red Lobster smells funny.

New job - apparently everyone has heard of my firm but me.

NYC!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Orleans Therapy

The best thing I can say about moving from New Orleans is at least I don't live in Houston. (I am loving Chicago so far, don't get me wrong.) I was browsing through the New Yorker's website and found a short essay about leaving New Orleans for Houston. And it wonderfully sums up why New Orleans is so great in the first place. So I am going to link it for you to read if interested here. Because most people (and probably most primates) are better at expressing their feelings through the written word than I. So read it.

But I do feel luckier than the author of that essay because instead of being thrown into the beigeness of Houston. At least Logan Square seems warm because of the huge population of Hispanic families tempered by tons of indie kids on bikes. But I very well could have moved to a terrible neighborhood populated by high paid corporate zombies. And we all know how I feel about zombies.

Last night we had a New Orleans rap party with the CD's Amos bought at an estate sale for 2$. We also had dinner. I had too much wine by the time we actually ate it though to fully appreciate the butternut squash over pasta that was the original inspiration for the word "crackaliscious." So again I will have to come up with a name for that, consult Diana for the original recipe and possibly post it for you all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Earwax

Hello All. It has been awhile since I have last posted. Since then we have moved into our apartment in Logan Square, gotten it about 45% organized and straightened out the kitchen to a remarkably usable level with some Ikea love. The square footage of our kitchen here is probably about the same as our old closet in New Orleans. It's a bit of a shock to the system. But we are architects. We overcame. I now have a breakfast nook jammed behind our refrigerator but it is nice and sunny during the day with a view out the window. It is a big enough space for a game of boggle and a place to sit and wait for your cookies to come out of the oven. Plus with a little luck we had a space for our "roll out chopping block" to well, chop, and store pots and pans.

Today I offer up a restaurant review and am going to tell you about the new cookbook(s) we bought. I say (s) in parentheses because only one cookbook is new. The other is from a used bookstore. If that does not make sense too bad.

Amos and I set off down Milwaukee to find Quimbys bookstore where on a previous visit we sighted the book How it all vegan!: Irresistable Recipes for an Animal Free Diet by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. I had heard an interview with Sarah on a Vegan Freak podcast and am always interested in reading up on more vegan stuff. But instead I was drawn to Vegan with a Vegeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The recipes sound great (seitan-portobello stroganoff anyone?) and I was impressed with the way she urges you to get out there with your veganism. She has a vegan cooking show on NYC public access channels called Post-Punk Kitchen. What really got me is she urges you in the book to start your own weekend brunch joint if you can't stand another weekend of watching other people scarf down eggs while you sit with a bowl of oatmeal. Because brunch seriously sucks if you are vegan! But not as much as eggs suck.

But it was a hard choice. Because Sarah and Tanya rock too. But one thing at a time.

We also picked up The Miso Book by John and Jan Belleme at Myopic Books. (We actually walked in thinking it was Quimby's. "Did they re-arrange or something?" I asked Amos aloud.) There is a bit of fish at the end of this book but maybe I can just tear those pages out and focus on all the recipes that use tempeh, tofu and well, miso. For instance the recipe for creamy dill dip doesn't even have anything remotely related to cream in it. Rock. Walnut -Miso dip? Swoon.

Now gather around - it is time for a restaurant review. After our little book odyssey I really really needed some coffee. But is there a coffee shop anywhere in Chicago? NO. Is there good food anywhere in Chicago? I have not yet been convinced. We stopped in at Earwax, a semi-vegan/veg place, that was sporting a circus theme. Take a second to get over the name. There. After reading reviews upon our arrival home I realize it has a video store in the basement but this is besides the point.

First of all I am SICK and TIRED of paying an extra 3/4 of a dollar for goddam soy milk. Amos wanted pancakes so 7.50$ later we got some pancakes that I thought totally BLEW. I don't care if they are vegan - everything should be vegan anyway and it should taste good! Oooh - look at your fancy-pants vegan pancakes. Well too bad they SUCK! Amos liked the pancakes. (He did however get pissed when my half-eaten pancake launched across the table back at him. It was stuck in the syrup! It was all stuck then it unstuck and just flew at him.) Be your own judge. I might try there again for lunch. They offer a whole section on just veggie burgers. But next time I am bringing my own soy milk.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bucket of 'Tots


Sticky Rice in Richmond was one of my favorite places to eat in Richmond while evacuated. Within walking distance. Great bar. So when we drove through town we had to meet up with Amos' friend and his wife for some vegan sushi and tater tots. Tater tots you say? Well yes. A whole bucket for 6$. Crispy and deep fried. None of that oven-baked nonsense. Eat them with chopsticks.

Also visit the restaurant's bi-weekly blog stickyricefan. Because Sticky Rice is friends with everyone. The only thing I regret is not visiting Impanema when in town...

Alleghany Mountain Orchard




Beautiful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Chicago Time!


Finally I can say we made it to Chicago. For the last week we stayed with my sister in Logan Square where one can buy all the produce you need to make a fresh spaghetti dinner for four, bread and a bunch of bananas for the next morning for less than $7. Need tomatillos? Only three minutes away and one pound will set you back a whopping 49 cents. Already we have favorite restaurants in the neighborhood and thats a good thing because we found a fantastic apartment two blocks down the street from my sister's place.

If you are thinking maybe we spent the week eating our way through Chicago you would be correct. We did go to El Cid three times but who's counting? Hit up Lula Cafe for brunch one day (excellent coffee, terrible bagels) and tried out Dunlay's on the Square another. And I was seriously making headway on becoming a regular at Cafe con Leche. Then before heading back to my hometown of Morris we rounded off the week with a few glasses of wine with Melissa and Iris.

The roads are smooth but I haven't found food to compare with New Orleans...

More stories and pictures to come soon. I have some beautiful shots of the apple orchard in the Alleghenies I want to share.

Walnuts and Maple Syrup?!

This looks fantastically simple and good.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Interesting Fact...

From the University of Chicago:

A vegetarian prevents approximately 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year than a meat-eater does.

Would you believe I read that on a shoe website? As if meat wasn't icky enough...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chicago... Almost.

It might be another time before we can fully catch up. I missed reporting in on Charleston, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania, Ohio and my home town in Illinos. I also missed home-cooking, fancy dining, disappointments and triumphs. Orchards, berry farms and road-side stands. Old friends, family and new friends. Campfire oatmeal and tea that tastes like fire. The worst winery in the entire world. A slaughterhouse town in Florida populated by zombie truckers.

I have a stack of restaurant menus and brochures from other assorted tourist attractions from our little trip. I haven't had a normal life for so long I might not be able to remember what day it is anymore but by god I am going to remember what it was I ate. Some people say that America sort of sucks. It's big. It's empty for the most part. There are a LOT of rednecks. It takes forever to get anywhere. But I believe you can find great things anywhere if you look hard enough. It might be the simplest thing like the taste of wild honeysuckle in a field. It might be the anticipation of moving on to the next town. And as much as I would love to pass on every simple pleasure and unexpected find I probably have forgotten much of it. I wish I could sit around the table with my family and share the experiences like the snapshots they are.

As for New Orleans withdrawal I haven't had it ... yet. I cried for about three minutes the morning our house would no longer be ours. It was built nearly a century before I was born and I pray it will still be standing when I die. But I miss my friends.

Sidenotes:

Amos and I should also have a zombie blog - we are obsessed. One favorite game goes as such - if you were in the bedroom and there was a zombie invasion what ordinary household object would you use to fight them off? My pick - bedside table. His pick - crowbar. Don't ask why the crowbar is in the bedroom. Maybe because of the oncoming zombie invasion? In which case are there crowbars in every room like New Orleanians have axes in their attics?

Newest amusing blog find: The Delicious Life. A good read.

Things I lost on part-one of the trip (Part-two: Are we going to Canada? Are we going to Guatemala? Are we going to Europe for six months? Who knows!): Pair shoes. Two pairs awesome sunglasses. Half-read Moby-Dick. (Fuck!!! I was loving that book.) Toothbrush.

I am tri-doshic. Very rare. See I am special. This webquiz told me so.

Should I pour glasses of milk for people or act like an asshole because after years of milk-free bliss I finally forgot how much I hate it? Is pouring milk NOT VEGAN?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

St. Augustine - Savannah - Charleston


Boiled Peanuts. Cell Phone Picture.

So we finally did it. We are out. Our things have been packed and shipped and we have packed and shipped ourselves out. We went to Lola's with Joey for our last culinary hurrah and scuffled out of town. (By the way their spinach linguine with pesto and artichokes is vegan. And awesome. Screw the paella!) Leaving a place you have lived for seven years is just strange. Is it sad? A bit. It's really hard to be sad when a few days before you leave someone finds a dead body in a porta-potty uptown.

But we hit the road. Drove along the gulf coast to St. Augustine. Went to the worst winery I have ever been to in my life. I don't remember the name but their regular white wine was sweeter than the ice wine we brought to Lola's for desert. Is that what happens when you grow grapes in an extremely hot and humid climate? Alcoholic Sprite.

Of course the first day in St. Augustine I had to hit up Diane's New Dawn for an avocado and tofu salad sandwich. Rode bikes to the beach. Got a sunburn. Went to the most non-vegan museum in the world with a stuffed lion and shrunken head.

We left this morning for Savannah. Somewhere just over the Florida state line we picked up some boiled peanuts at a gas station. I thought I had had a boiled peanut before but these were the most intriguing item I have eaten in a long time. I didn't expect the peanuts themselves to be soft. They were like red beans in shells. When we got to Savannah we found right away a fantastic Thai/Vietnamese restaurant with a menu that was about 12 pages long and stated at the bottom that they could make any dish vegan. Unfortunately I was dead tired so I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have.

We left Savannah far to soon to come to Charleston to see our friend Anna. And here we will be for two nights...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Moving Time.

I have to apologize the past few posts were a bit rough. I'm only posting now because it is pouring rain and we have run out of boxes. I guess the only thing I have had time to post is sort of a militant "screw you" to the rest of the world. Maybe it's because sometimes I get sick of cheering other foodies on for things that sound fantastic but could easily be vegan. Or it's packing our house and the move. Or it's because Amos downloaded the movie Earthlings and I watched only the first fifteen minutes of it and had a complete breakdown. (Click here to watch it. But it is terribly disturbing.)

So needless to say I was a bit perturbed when I missed the last part of my going away party because I was so tired from being kept up all night by the meat industry images captured in Earthlings. (Specifically the breeding sows with untreated infections all over their bodies. More specifically the piglets that had been kicked into the waste pits and left to suffocate. The slaughterhouse images don't bother me. Obviously when you slit a cow's throat blood will shoot everywhere. It's a cow. They must have lots of blood.) But back to the point. That's why I stopped eating all animal products because I couldn't handle thinking about it anymore. I continue to not want to think about it anymore. I want all that to be over. So just stop. If you tell me the shirts I buy at Target are made by children and it bothers you I will not shop there. It won't kill me. Not eating animals won't kill you.

And the sooner you stop the sooner I will stop writing these sad socio-political-moral posts that are probably really boring. I'm so bored now I am about ready to puke. Just like after I watched the movie the other night. But not bored. Disgusted.

The silver lining to this story? (See - I am trying to be pleasant...) I can bring the strawberry-almond ice cream I made for our party to our friend's cookout this evening. That means not dragging the kitchenaid out of the SmartBox to make a lame attempt at a baked good which I probably don't have the ingredients for anyway.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Don't Do It

Fuck meat and dairy. Just don't eat it. It's really friggin' easy.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Are we REALLY that scary?

Just a quick note: it appears Mercedes at Desert Candy is not going to take me up on making one vegan ice cream out of twenty-one during her August Ice Cream Challenge. I guess she has a plan and is sticking to it. Not to mention I dared her to make a vegan ice cream when she was nearly 70% of the way through her challenge. It's too bad because the fig and strawberry ice creams Amos and I make with coconut milk as the base are by far the best I have ever had in my life. The fig ice cream was like eating clouds. Still - very interesting flavors and interesting project.

Also I updated my Vegan Guide to NOLA to include our two favorite Middle Eastern restaurants.

And really quick the bananas around town are almost ready to eat! Screw chocolate city New Orleans is banana city! I can't even describe home grown bananas except they are like a grocery store banana times ten but in a smaller package and free.

Back to Nature: Brewery Tour and Tubing

Yesterday Amos and I partook in and activity that everyone in the South has apparently been doing since the dawn of time: tubing down a lazy river on a hot summer's day. Tubing was really really really relaxing. We had like 17 people in our group and it was funny to see all our friends floating around in huge inner tubes with just their arms, legs and heads sticking out. Besides the cute little green and brown snake that decided to say hello by swimming up onto my stomach everything went pretty smoothly. My car stopped at this place called "Hog Heaven" before we reached Wayne's World (the tubing outfitters) that had these really good fresh cut french fries. Luckily they were fried in vegetable oil not pig lard!

I almost forgot to mention we first visited the Abita Brewery in Abita Springs, LA. In New Orleans Abita is probably the most-drank beer in the whole city (discounting all the tourist bars). Abita produces an amber, wheat, golden and light beer. They have Turbodog (which is like the chocolate milkshake of beer) and Andygator (which is like the highest proof beer in existence). Restoration Ale is a beer they made where 1$ of each six pack goes to rebuilding. They have a fall fest beer, a pecan beer, a raspberry beer called Purple Haze and a strawberry beer brewed only during the spring strawberry harvest.

The Abita Brewery tour is free and they make it feel like hanging out at a friend's house on a Saturday afternoon. First they let you in this air conditioned room with six beers on tap and mountains of plastic cups (plus their root beer) and let you sit in there for about 45 minutes. Then on to the brewery tour which was hot as balls and lasted about 15 minutes. Ok - maybe it was about 25. Then back to the room with the beer where we were encouraged to hang out for however long we wanted. If you are in the area I highly suggest taking the tour. Or if you can't make it just try their beer - it is really good and I think trying the different types of beer available in the little air-conditioned room is the real tour.

But on to the food experimentation part of this post. In preparation of the trip I decided to make some cookies to bring along. I definitely got my cookie mojo back. No more cookies that taste like bread. Here's how I did it: Butter (unmeasured amount) plus 1 cup evaporated cane juice. Thawed banana, 1tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp vanilla extract. 2 cups flour (more or less). Then some almond milk. Next I divided the dough in half and put some cinamon and 1/4 cup of cocoa in the first half. Then in the other half I added some oats, coconut flakes and whatever was left over in the bag of chocolate chips I have been eating out of for the past week. Baked at 375 for 11-13 minutes and they were super perfect. I chilled them in the freezer really quick (it was about 85 in the house) and put them in the cooler for after our tubing trip yesterday.

Barely any measuring and they were perfect. Who knows. It seems things like that work best.

P.S. Mercedes of Desert Candy asked me to make the following corrections to my August 24th post: She is a singular person (I referred to her as a "they" since I didn't take the time to read about her) and she uses a pre-freeze bowl on her Cuisinart not the kitchenaid attachment as I thought after seeing the pictures. Sorry Mercedes!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Blog Browsing

As today is (probably) my last day in the office I am cleaning off my desk. Meaning I am copying my bookmarks that I have compiled over the past two years. As you are all aware I took some time off to work on the house and haven't perused my favorite sites in quite some time. Well it seems like other bloggers out there haven't taken the past six weeks off. Two old favorites (although not vegan) Desert Candy and 28 Cooks have been very busy!

Desert Candy has been up to making a ton of ice cream. It seems she is doing some sort of insane ice cream challenge. She is on day 13. I don't really know. I'm going to read more about it when I get home. Or check it out for yourself. But for starters they have made quince ice cream, avocado ice cream, blueberry ice cream, orange blossom ice cream. Goodness gracious. Maybe I should comment they should do a vegan ice cream? Let's see how that goes - I think they have a week left.

And 28 cooks? Green Tea and Wasabi Almonds (perfect for my upcoming party!), Asian Grain Burgers and Thai Coconut Curry Hummus. YUM. That's all I have to say about that. I owe it to 28 Cooks because they turned me on to the idea of DIY microwave popcorn and potato chips. Perfect for contraband snacking at the movies. Love!

(Party: 6-10 at our house on the 28th.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So it's been awhile.


























What was left of the one little watermelon our garden made...



Sorry I haven't posted in forever. Not like anyone probably still reads this thing but still I'm sorry. Seriously the stat counter has been at 1400 since I posted that picture of blueberries on tastespotting. We have been traveling and selling our house and back to work. But we sold the house and are now trying to figure out what the heck is going on. All I know is we haven't been eating very well - there are 4 carrots in the fridge and I don't want to buy anything because it will just end up in the trash or someone else's cabinet.

Have there been any food highlights these past few weeks? No, not really. Our trip to Illinois turned out to be not very vegan as I was fooled by some fake meatballs my sister bought. Friggin Parmesan Cheese. I ate the dumb things then Amos asked how I got the cheese out. Then on to Florida where we were encouraged to eat chicken marsala by Amos' grandma. "It's only a little!" Poor thing - she also bought all these frozen dove bars I think for us to eat and just didn't know about the no-milk thing. She's so sweet but there was no way I was trying to explain to her over the phone what veganism is. She got her phone at the store for deaf people (I'm not kidding) and routinely hangs up on you mid-sentence. We were there for her 90th birthday however so you have to give her some slack.

But lets not dwell on the negative. I forgot we went to the Chicago Diner for some vegan cake after a great dinner in Chinatown with my Mom, Ralph and Sasha. The next day my mom kept explaining to people on the phone at work "It was vegan cake. And it tasted just like real cake!" That is because she got the chocolate chip cheesecake and it was really fantastic. We had a few good meals in St. Augustine too - notably the pea and sweet potato curry Diana convinced us to mix with peanut butter. Crackaliscious. And Sasha made us some granola we never got to eat because we didn't plan our trip very well and never got to stay with her in the city. Put it in the freezer. We will see you soon!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Juan's Flying Burrito

Juan's is a fantastic place for vegans. Unless they try to sneak cheese on your tacos...

Bean, Mushroom and Tomato tacos on corn tortillas make me go mmmmm... I must add this to my list of restaurants for vegans in New Orleans. Maybe when I am at home I might have some time to sit and add about sixteen restaurants I have been needing to add.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What we ate on Friday

Friday was a good food day. First we went to yoga then came home to H&H bagels and coffee. At 1:30 we met Joey at Commander's Palace for lunch. Then (three martinis and two glasses of champagne later) at six there was a yoga potluck for our guest instructor Hannae. *Phew*

Lets start with Commander's Palace. At 1:30 there was a wait to even get to the host desk. I had made a reservation and after we were seated I ogled the wallpaper and candelabras in the dining room for about half an hour while we waited for Joey to arrive. I started with a watermelon and pickled watermelon rind salad topped with shaved mirliton and Amos started with gazpacho. His gazpacho started as a little mound chopped avocado and veggies in a bowl over which chilled tomato broth was poured table-side. I only had one little bite but it was fantastic - rich and peppery. Entree was a special order for both of us and unfortunately they served us the same thing - mixed sauteed summer vegetables served in a puff pastry boat. I can't say they were flexing their culinary muscles on this one (Joey had pork tenderloin with a chicory and coffee crust over mashed potatoes) but our dishes still really very tasty. Watermelon sorbet and coffee to finish. Anytime you go in New Orleans for a two hour meal and not want to explode afterwards is a rare experience indeed which is what partly made this lunch fantastic.

Commander's Palace tips for vegans: When offered garlic toast ask for a plain loaf of French bread and some olive oil - they will gladly accommodate. (Joey asked for us - thanks Joey!) If you really want a fantastic experience it might help to call ahead and tell them about your diet - you might get a more interesting culinary experience. I emailed them before we went and they said they have a vegan special everyday (not on the menu!) and if we didn't like whatever it was they could make something else.

On to the potluck. After trying to sober up we headed to the yoga potluck bringing with us sesame sweet potato salad and strawberry ice cream. Everyone loved the strawberry ice cream and there were other actual vegans there so we could eat all but one dish. Love Love.

I wish I had time for more blogging right now but we put the house on the market tomorrow and still have a ton of work to do!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

what we ate last night : for real.

After leaving work around 8 there was no way I was going home and cooking dinner even though we still have a bumper crop of eggplant and I had spent 50$ at the grocery store the day before. We were going out. And I wanted to sit outside and either ride bikes or walk. And I didn't want to go to anyplace we frequented. With all this in mind we tried Fiesta Bistro on Carrollton who interestingly have a section of menu devoted to "vegetarian tapas for veggie lovers." I am going to add it to our restaurant list for vegans in NOLA.

Note: I also tried the seven year granola. It was good considering I didn't have half the ingredients and Amos left in in the oven for about 30 minutes too long.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Found: Granola Recipe

When I last posted on the topic of granola I swore to unlock the secrets of how to make the granola clump. I think Amos found a recipe here on The Traveler's Lunchbox that explains the clumping granola phenomenon and has an exciting tale of Peruvian travel to boot. And the pictures are way better... but still like mine with blueberries! Maybe great minds do think alike thus making me a great mind by default? If only.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Orleans Restaurant Guide for Vegans

Let's face it - there is no one dedicated happy place for vegans in New Orleans. Most of the local specialties center around seafood and just when you thought you were safe with the vegetable plate at Galatoires you realize everything on it was fried in butter. In the words of our friend Albert "you guys must be disappointed a lot." However painfully true that is on occasion there are way more fantastic occasions on which you find a hidden gem of a restaurant that by default serves food that is always perfectly vegan and always perfectly delicious.

Note: This post is to be constantly under construction.

African

New Orleans' traditional cuisine has its roots in traditional African cooking. Corner store red beans and rice, jambalaya and gumbo are all variations of traditional African dishes that don't always live up to their predecessors. However eating at an African restaurant affords you the joy of discovery and exploration if you are already down with the comfort food and other dishes that make us feel at home.

Bennachin

1212 Royal Street
504.524.3828

Cash only. Daily 11-10. BYOB (Corner-store one block away in case you forget your wine.) Lunch specials.

I don't know how we survived in New Orleans without knowing about Bennachin. A fellow vegan clued me in on their reasonably priced lunch specials and fabulous black-eyed pea fritters. My favorite meal is the jama-jama; coconut rice w/sauteed spinach and plantains on the side. Nice and simple. More favorites are peanut or pumpkin seed stews, beans and rice or Amos' favorite; the black-eyed pea fritter po-boy. The dinner rolls got a thumbs up from Amos' grandma who is a dinner roll expert. Click on the name above for the Gambit's review of the restaurant. This place is perfect for you out of town vegans wanting to taste something unique and New Orleans-y but too drunk to make it out of the quarter. The only thing is be prepared for a wait after you sit down and order - the staff is usually one server and a cook if you are lucky...

Menu Highlights: Jama-Jama, Black-Eyed Pea Fritters, African Po'Boy, Jambalaya, Sauteed Vegetables with Cous-Cous. Long list of vegan items and many items on the menu available without meat. Fantastic Dinner Rolls.

Breakfast

Because sometimes you need some scrambled tofu.

Surrey's Juice Bar

1418 Magazine St
504.524.3828

Cash only. Wednesday -Sunday 8-Lunch.

Surrey's is great. It's cute and light and airy just like a breakfast place should be. We try to go on Saturday mornings almost as soon as they open and then hit up the farmer's market. They make their own bagels and granola. Watch out for the 6$ glasses of fresh juice.

Menu Highlights: Bagel Plate with Vegan Avocado Mash, Granola w/Fresh Fruit and Soy Milk, Fair-Trade Coffee, Roasted Vegetable Po-Boy, Tofu Scramble.


Burritos

There was no Mexican or South American food before the storm. Now however there are a few establishments looking to serve very very authentic dishes and roving trucks serving food for the working masses. I haven't tried to navigate any of these new establishment's yet but will refer two old standbys.

Juan's Flying Burrito

2018 Magazine St
504.569.0000

Monday - Saturday: 11-9 PM Sunday 4-9 PM

Juan's is where we go when we are HUNGRY. A bean and rice burrito the size of your head is $5.50.

Taqueria Corona
5932 Magazine St
504.569.0000

Monday - Saturday: 11-9 PM Sunday 4-9 PM

Non-fussy Mexican food with good margaritas. Also where I discovered cebollitas. Get the cebollitas.


Mediterranean/Middle Eastern

I don't really know why we have so many fantastic Middle Eastern restaurants in New Orleans or why I have two within walking distance from my house. I'm certainly not complaining. And if you are unfamiliar with Middle Eastern food take a meal and try it. You will be hooked I promise.

Lebanon's Cafe

1506 S. Carrollton Avenue
504.862.6200

Open daily for lunch and dinner. BYOB.

I love Lebanon's. Although their prices have risen over the years it is well worth the extra dollar for falafel that is perfectly spiced every time. Middle Eastern food is fantastic but Lebanon's has stepped well beyond the ordinary. They serve traditional dishes that are perfect every time with gracious portions. At whole foods the price of the pine-nuts in their Lebanese iced tea would cover the cost of your entire dinner.

It is also great to grab one of their sidewalk tables on a perfect day and watch the world go by. The owner is always about as is the neighborhood cat that lounges around outdoors ignoring the patrons as they vie for his attention.

Mona's Cafe
1120 S. Carrollton Avenue (one of many locations...)
504.862.6200

Open daily for lunch and dinner. BYOB.

Mona's Cafe is like a legacy in New Orleans with multiple locations serving many different neighborhoods throughout the city. Everyone in New Orleans knows Mona's. Because when you want your hummus and falafel or an outstanding bowl of lentil soup they will be there for you. I just googled "Mona's Cafe" and reviews from the New York Times popped up. A few locations have outside seating (mid-city and riverbend) and our favorite thing is picking out the few Arabic words we know from the music they are playing. Also stop in to buy freshly baked house pita for 1.50$.

Spanish/Mediterranean

Fiesta Bistro
1506 Carrollton Avenue
504.865.1612
Saint Charles Bus. Monday - Saturday 11-11. Sunday Noon-10.

When fiesta opened it didn't have much in the way of vegan food. They have revamped their menu to include a large selection of tapas, one lovingly named "vegetarian tapas for veggie lovers." Joy! We went with three tapas and sangria. Sangria was o-k but not the boozy lovely dense sweet drink with an abundance of fruit we have come to love at Lola's. Skip the chips and salsa and even if ordering from the veggie menu specify no dairy!

Menu Highlights: Grilled Veggie Tacos or Fajitas, Patatas Bravas (very good!), Tomato Confie, Eggplant Granada, Empanadas de Frijoles, Garbanzo or Fava Casserole, Stuffed Mushrooms. 2$ mimosas all day Sunday and daily happy hour from 2:30 to 5:30.

Lola's
3312 Esplanade Avenue (Near City Park)
488-6946
Mon-Thu,Sun 5:30pm-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10pm
Dressy Casual, No Reservations, Cash Only!

By far one of my favorite restaurants in the city. This is the protocall at Lola's. Call up all your friends or go with just one. Wait outside for a table, if you brought your own wine start drinking (corkscrew is in the hostess stand - shh!). Sit down and be served hot little pistolettes out of some magic hot bread oven. The paella is to die for and if you have lots of friends just order a big dish and share. The cutest thing about this restaurant is the older folks that come with their own personal coolers of booze. I'm telling you this is a hidden gem and go there and know about the wonder that is Lola's.

Menu Highlights: Sauteed crimini mushrooms, vegetable paella or fidellua, salads, garlic soup. Bring your own wine or get their sangria w/lots of fruit for 3$ a glass. 3$!


Vietnamese

New Orleans has a large Vietnamese population. Most of the Chinese restaurants in the city are actually run by Vietnamese families and aren't very good at all. There isn't a shortage of authentic Vietnamese restaurants around town though they tend to be on the Westbank or in New Orleans East and are difficult to get to without a car. Read the menu before you sit down: many Vietnamese restaurants have meat in everything with the option to add eggs if you are so inclined. One waiter actually asked us why we were even bothering to pay for the spring rolls if we didn't want pork or shrimp (after we had to explain to him shrimp is indeed a type of meat). But a few restaurants have broken out of that tradition to provide kick ass vegetarian food. Who needs Pho anyway?!

Pho Tau Bay

113 Westbank Expy # C
Gretna, LA 70053
(504) 368-9846
Open Monday - Saturday. Call first. Kitchen closes at 8:30.

Before Katrina (or Pre-K if you are so inclined) there were several Pho Tau Bays around the New Orleans area including one next to Angelo Brocato's on Carrolton Avenue serviced by the Canal Streetcar Line. The last one standing is located in a bleak strip mall in the shadow of the elevated West Bank Expressway next to an acrylic nail supply company and abandoned bowling alley. Don't let the lack of locality ambiance scare you off - the food is amazing and there is no shortage of vegetarian/vegan options. And seriously it is only five minutes from the quarter (by car) and well worth the trip.

Menu Highlights: Soda Chanh (beverage of club soda, lime and sugar served mix-it-yourself style), Spring Rolls (fresh and fried), Vermicelli Noodle Salads, Tofu Vietnamese Po-Boy, Vegetable Soup (add your choice of rice, tapioca, bean thread or a few other noodles), Vietnamese Coffee (ask for soy milk), lime-jasmine tea, other beverage concoctions you never knew existed.


Jazmine Cafe
614 S. Carrollton Avenue
504.866.9301
Take Saint Charles Bus to Riverbend. Open Tuesday - Sunday 11-9.


Jazmine Cafe is a newer addition to the neighborhood and used to be the 24-hour Trolley Stop Cafe. Thank god that's gone... On a Saturday night business was brisk with diners and take-out orders but the atmosphere is casual and it is sort of nice not having to wait for two hours for a table. The menu and staff are very vegan friendly: on one occasion after we ordered the waitress asked if we were vegetarians and recommended switching out the chicken soup my meal came with that I hadn't even noticed.

Menu Highlights: Vegetable Spring or Summer Rolls with peanut-hoisin sauce, Tofu and Avocado Vermicelli Noddle Salad Bowl (add crispy fried summer rolls- I dare you!), Mushroom Glass Noodle Soup, Tamarind Tofu Soup, Bubble Teas, Vietnamese Coffee (ask for soy milk).

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fig Ice Cream

Last night I took my next-door-neighbor's lead and picked more figs from the fig tree down the street and churned them into what was probably the best ice cream I have ever had in my life. (Yes, even better than Carl's in Virginia...) I also tried to make waffle cones; complete disaster considering I have no waffle cone iron. I got two cones to work by smashing the batter in a frying pan with the buttered bottom of a cake pan. And those tasted really fantastic - like almonds, butter and cinnamon. But one had a huge hole in the bottom so was useless as far as an ice cream cone goes.

But back to the ice cream: I will divulge the recipe just in case you have a barbecue to go to and nothing in the house but a can of coconut milk. I am sure this would work with any fresh fruit you can find - but you might need to adjust the amounts to get a good consistency.

I also need to note the original recipe is from Vice Cream by Jeff Rogers, which I highly recommend. We used the ice cream attachment for our kitchen aid mixer. (Also highly recommended.)

Fig Ice Cream

You will need:

1 (16 oz.) Can Coconut Milk
2-1/4 Cups Fresh Figs, Washed and Cut Into Quarters
3/4 Cup Maple Syrup

Method:

(Note: Original recipe calls for peeling the figs: I said screw that and it turned out fine. The particular fig I used has a very thin pinkish/purple skin and also the figs were mostly unblemished.)

In a blender combine coconut milk, 1-1/2 cups of the figs and maple syrup. Blend on high until smooth - at least one minute. (I did two minutes.) Put mix in freezer for an forty minutes to an hour or refrigerate overnight. Place remaining 3/4 cup of figs in the freezer.

Churn according to your ice cream maker's instructions and add remaining quartered figs within the last five minutes of churning. Eat right away as the fantastic soft-serve consistency it will be after churning or keep frozen in an airtight container and let soften before eating.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Neighborhood Figs


























I picked these figs a few days ago. They are beautiful and really yummy. I saw my neighbor picking them and had not even noticed they were ripe. He says they make ice cream every year from them. I almost baked some into a tart with balsamic the other night but drank too much wine and just ended up eating them raw.... I think they are almost all done so if I want to bake with them I need to do it within the next two days or so because the ground is already littered with mushy smashed fig. (Click on the pictures for better quality - I at least think they are beautiful images and blogspot won't do them justice.)

I think these people copied my lentil picture on tastespotting (My picture:Post 1867. Their picture:Post 2654). Or maybe lentils are just beautiful.... I have been having problems remembering my password for tastespotting so only about half my pictures ever get posted.

Top Chef News: Has anyone been watching? The first challenge disgusted me so much I haven't watched again. I used to love that show too... I think the contestants are getting lamer as the seasons go on. I really liked everyone on the first season, the second season had some decent people and now the third season most contestants seem like they just have bad hygiene.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Waldorf Salad Spring Rolls


























We made the Waldorf salad spring rolls for the Fourth of July/Emily's Birthday Party and they were fantastically yummy. So yummy and fun to make I had dreams of starting my own vegan catering business serving Waldorf salad spring rolls and ... well that would be it I guess. They worked really well as party food and everyone seemed to really love them. One person thought they were individually wrapped apples at first glance and another guest (drunk) suggested since they were so good I should buy a bed and breakfast that's on the market by her house at the rock bottom price of $799,000. (But it has 8 bedrooms! And if it doesn't work out Amos and I can just have 7 kids!)

Waldorf Salad has been a favorite for over a century hopefully fueling crazy ideas the whole while. From what I have read the salad got it's name from the Waldorf Hotel (former name of Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) in New York City where it was created in 1893.

Below is the recipe. I tweaked around with the ingredients from several recipes found throughout the net. I have to warn you I have never had an original Waldorf salad (and probably won't now since they are traditionally made with mayonnaise) so can't verify how close this actually tastes to the original. I also de-constructed the salad a bit - slicing the apples thinly rather than chopping them so I could roll them up and reference the beautiful spring rolls served in Vietnamese restaurants throughout New Orleans.

Waldorf Salad Spring Rolls


You Will Need:

For the Dressing:
4 T Olive Oil
1.5 t Sugar
1 T Lemon Juice
1/8 t Salt
1/2 t Allspice
Zest of 1/2 Large Lemon

For the Filling:
1/2 C Chopped Walnuts
1/2 C Dried Fruit (I used dried cranberries)
4 C Fresh Baby Spinach
1-2 Large Apples (I used Cameo)
2-4 T Lemon Juice

12 Round Rice Papers, Broken in Half (Found at an Asian Grocery)

For the Dipping Sauce:
1/2 C Soy Yogurt or Vegan Mayonnaise
1 T Lemon Juice
1 T Sugar (Or to taste)
1-3 T Lemon Juice (to taste)
1 t Allspice

Method:

Prepare all ingredients. Wash spinach if necessary and dry then place in large bowl. Roast walnuts in a nonstick pan on the stove over medium heat stirring frequently or in a toaster oven on the toast setting until brown. Mix in medium bowl with dried fruit. Wash and halve apples. Slice apples thinly (1/8") removing nasty bits of the core. In a medium bowl pour 2-4 T lemon juice over apples and stir gently. For the wrappers get a kettle of 4 cups of water boiling (or just warm if possible) on the stove. Clear a workspace large enough where you can lay a damp kitchen towel down and a platter on which to place the spring rolls.

Now in a medium to small bowl whisk together all ingredients in the top batch of list above. Toss 3 T of the dressing with the spinach and the additional 1T of the dressing with the walnuts and dried fruit. I prefer my greens in spring rolls rather dry so I added a quite a bit of spinach. Add dressing to spinach gradually if you think it might become too wet.

In a shallow plate pour warm water and let 1 wrapper soak for 5 seconds or until translucent and supple. Place on damp kitchen towel. Place 1 apple slice in the center of wrapper. Add approximately 1.5 t of the walnut/dried fruit mixture. Then to top it off add a bunch of spinach tucking under stems and pieces of leaf until a nice little rectangle shape not much bigger than the apple is formed. To roll fold one long side over while holding filling firmly in place. Fold short ends over then fold the remaining long side. Pull sides taught when folding to make sure filling in roll doesn't fall out when picked up or while eaten. Place on serving platter. Separate layers of spring rolls with parchment paper or other material to keep them from sticking to one another.

For the dipping sauce mix all ingredients in bowl and serve or cover and refrigerate.

Makes 24 party size rolls.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Waldorf-Salad Spring Rolls?

I just posted links to a few blogs I read almost daily: not martha and design*sponge. Both are great housy-designy eye candy blogs that are smart and well written. And they are refreshingly not about food. And after all I am still an architect and need my design fix.

But about that food... I am going to a bbq this fourth of july for our friend Emily's birthday party and patriotic celebration. Her and her room-mates Patrick (also friend) and Cooper (new friend) put on the best parties. So I was honored when Emily called last night and asked if I would bring something. I am leaning towards a waldorf salad that I test drove yesterday... very delicious. Something about the simple combination of walnuts, apples, dried cranberries and an allspice/lemon dressing over crisp greens is intoxicating.

But salad is definitely not the best party food... I wonder if a Waldorf salad spring roll (not fried) would rub me the right way... or if I am a glutton for punishment and that is the most time consuming frustrating idea ever....

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fish is not a vegetable.























Top Photo: A red snapper in a reserve off the coast of New Zealand. I saw so many red snappers while snorkeling on our honeymoon in St. John and before I stopped eating them had no idea how fascinating and beautiful they are.
Bottom Photo: People buying fish carcasses in Tanzania as a source of protein.
Photos: National Geographic April 2007.

Last time I checked fish was not a vegetable. I admit I was confused myself for a long time. What's not to love about fish? They live in the sea... they don't take any natural resources to harvest... they are full of brain-building fatty omega acids. And mercury. And antibiotics. And actually they are harvested which is a huge source of pollution and environmental nastiness.

Diana (Amos' sister) put me on to the concept of bio-magnification. The little fish eat the mercury. The bigger fish eat hundreds and hundreds of little fish. The biggest fish (the ones we eat) eat hundreds and hundreds of bigger fish leaving us with meat that is so full of mercury if you eat it while pregnant your baby can have severe birth defects.

Furthermore there are people in the world that do depend on fish for protein. But since we can have and buy whatever we want in a developed nation we can pay more for those fish and leave the locals with the trash. The photo above is from National Geographic in April 2007 and the caption reads:

"Emblematic of First World exploitation of Africa's resources, only the carcasses of Nile perch are affordable sources of protein for some Tanzanians living around Lake Victoria. Perch fillets are stripped in 35 lakeside processing plants and shipped north, mainly to Europe and also to Israel. With years of overfishing, perch stocks have fallen drastically, imperiling the livelihoods of more than 100,000 fishermen and depriving local people of food."

Another quote from the same article for you sushi eaters out there:

"To supply the world's sushi markets, the magnificent giant bluefin tuna is fished in the Mediterranean at four times the sustainable rate."

and

"Over the past decade, a high-tech armada, often guided by spotter planes, has pursued giant bluefin from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, annually netting tens of thousands of the fish, many of them illegally. The bluefin are fattened offshore in sea cages before being shot and butchered for the sushi and steak markets in Japan, America, and Europe. So many giant bluefin have been hauled out of the Mediterranean that the population is in danger of collapse."

The fish are shot?! Shot. Your tuna roll was illegally caught and then shot.

Obviously these quotes only scratch the surface of the problems and I am obviously not a fish catching and ocean knowledge specialist. The article I read is available online in a multi-media format here on the National Geographic website.

The arguments I have heard for fishing is fish provide protein and fatty omega acids. Fishing provides livelihoods for local peoples and is a cultural way of life that would disappear if we didn't eat fish. What I say is protein and omega acids can both be found in plants. I also don't need to eat fish that have been imported from half way around the world using way more natural resources than is sustainable in the process; my need for their fish will not be responsible for the devastation of their local eco-systems that they depend on. I am not an indigenous person whose family have been fishermen since the dawn of time. My family will not become destitute if people decide not to eat fish. Instead other families become destitute because my family living in Illinois, fish capital of the world, wants fish.

And finally the meat-eaters most basic and infuriating argument which is the animal is stupid/ugly/useless and I am not sure what it feels so I can eat it. That and fish eat other fish so I can eat fish too. Last time I checked I was not a fish. Last time I checked fish do have a central nervous system which means they probably don't feel too hot being crushed to death or asphyxiated when yanked out of the water and thrown on the deck of a ship. Amos said the other night that he can only imagine fish feel a particular variety of pain beyond the grasp of human imagination just as their senses of smell and direction are beyond our grasp. I wonder how long until we have "humanely" raised fish?

So is it globalization that is destroying fish stocks around the world or personal choices made by millions in developed countries to eat fish? Is globalization much more than millions of personal choices or one in the same? How much of an impact can our personal choices have against something as large as the choices of millions others?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dream Fridge

When we move to Chicago I would really love to move into a space that is a blank canvas. No counters, no sink, no appliances and no layout. Our kitchen now is spacious but whomever designed it could have made a lot better use of the space. We have also only needed to replace the fridge and the dishwasher and unfortunately had to stick with Sears run-of-the-mill standards.

If I had to replace the fridge over again I would definitely spring for a Sunfrost. Sunfrost fridges are great because their compressors are at the top of the fridge and the cool air falls instead of having to be pumped up through the fridge. They are also crazily insulated and energy efficient so work really well with homes that are run with solar or other alternative energy sources. My favorite thing about them is they come in smaller sizes and any finish (over 100 standard finishes) you could want. Plus they don't break the bank at around 2,000$.

My personal favorite is the RF 16 or the RF 12. Super cute! Or I would get a R10 and F10 and hide them under my counters. The picture above is of a RF12 and was a feature in The Nest magazine. (Definitely not a subscription. This month was all about what sort of animals were best to BBQ.)

Now if Amos and I could only agree on which is better: under-counter or wall-mounted ovens.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vegan Nutella Continued...

I just found a recipe for make-your-own nutella on a site called vegan represent. I might give it a try. I haven't been able to find a vegan version in a jar for sale yet but haven't looked that hard either. Nutella... drool...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Vegan Thai Recipes

I was so pumped when Cee from Real Thai Recipes commented on my previous post about drunken noodle and offered to help me out with vegan adaptations of Thai recipes. Thanks Cee - I love your site and will make a list of things I need help with!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Maple Walnut Granola


























Granola is way easier to make then I ever thought possible. I must mention here Surrey's, a hidden gem of a restaurant in New Orleans, that serves the best home-made granola in the world. Not to mention the best bagels and avocado mash ever. And their coffee is the best ever. Plus they have really good juice. But back to point - their crispy, clumpy, warm granola served with soy milk and fresh fruit inspired me to try to make my own.

Granola must be one of those things that people make a million different ways. I opted for a low-temp, non-honey, non-sugar recipe that turned out crackaliscious. The only thing all the recipes I surveyed had in common was stirring the granola while baking every 10-15 minutes.

The first picture is of the granola fresh from the oven. The other picture is of my breakfast yesterday: the last of the granola, fresh blueberries, and almond milk. So fantastic. I think I want to try a peanut butter granola next. And my goal is to uncover the secret that makes it clump. Wish me luck.

Maple Walnut Granola

You Will Need
3 Cups Old-Fashioned Oats
1 Cup Finely Chopped Raw Walnuts
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tsp. Salt

Method
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a medium sized bowl mix together all liquid ingredients and salt. In large bowl combine oats and walnuts. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and toss to coat evenly.

Spread oat/walnut/liquid mixture evenly on a 10x13 baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool on wire racks.

After cool store in an airtight container for up to a week. If it lasts that long around the house it can be frozen for up to three months.

Gateaux des Crepes.

Over the past week I have seen at least three blogs posting their very own home-made crepe cakes. I believe that bloggers must just egg each other on because now I want to make a crepe cake. Smitten Kitchen listed reasons to make a crepe cake above all other cakes. (Like I needed to be encouraged further...) The reason that touched me personally is crepe cakes are a low-heat affair. No oven, only stove top. Refrigeration even. I love to bake but not when it is 95 degrees in the shade.

Two posts of the three posts use the same recipe from the New York Times. The crepe recipe looks easy enough to veganize - we had crepes with creamed spinach two nights ago - but am not sure what to use instead of the custardy/creamy filling that holds it all together. I think it would be gross to use regular 'ole frosting.

If you are intrigued check out Smitten Kitchen's post here and Cream Puff in Venice's post here. Cream Puff in Venice has a fun little crepe cake story about the recipe developed by a Mme M. The name makes me think of a madam of a turn of the century Parisian brothel which of course always brings to mind crepe cakes. Right?!

Also in crepe news: Quebec is apparently rife with fantastic creperies. (Vegan creperies? Mais non. Tres triste.) Also I am thinking about launching a petition asking Nutella to go vegan. LOVE LOVE.

(Francophiles did you get my French joke in the subject? Gateau plural ha ha ha.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

End of the Workday Post

I just listened to the December 5th, 2006 episode of Animal Voices, a radio show out of Toronto, which profiled a few different vegan blogs. My favorite by far is a girl out of Seattle's blog, A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise. Just the name sounds good but the sheer number of ice cream recipes this girl has under her belt is very impressive indeed. Plus cookie and brownie recipes. (Hopefully a better cookie recipe than mine because apparently mine tastes like bread.) Maybe I can email her and ask for a green tea flavor? I love vegans - they are sooo do-it-yourself.

This other blog I am hesitant to post but it seems she has a lot of information on Toronto. And vegan info on a Canadian city is important to me why? Well have I told you all about my planned road trip? Well first things first I have a sad/happy announcement: we are planning on selling our beautiful home here in New Orleans and moving back to my old home in frigid Chicago. The varieties of feelings I have towards this move is substantial enough to be the subject of a whole other blog so we aren't even going there.

So in the meantime after we sell the house and have no ties to worldly possessions I thought we could start in Virginia and drive or train along the East Coast to Maine, hitting up NYC(!), Philly, Boston, Annapolis, Providence.... etc etc and not in that order. Then from Maine go west to Quebec(!) and then south to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Ann Arbor then home to Chicago.

So back to the other blog. It is called Megan the Vegan and is sort of like our blog - her chronicling her vegan cooking posting pictures and recipes. It's really not that super fantastic but she seems like she's having fun. Another source for what's what in Toronto if you are vegan (probably a better source) is the Toronto Vegan Project. I have barely scratched the surface on this one and think you don't need to be going to Toronto anytime soon to enjoy this blog. That's all for now I want to go home!

Wait- If you have any knowledge of fantastic vegan places along my proposed route please comment - I will add them to my list of places to see.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What We Ate This Morning

This is what we have been eating for breakfast recently: Home-made soy yogurt topped with dried currants, home-made granola and sliced banana. Alternate soy yogurt with almond milk (home-made of course) and the dried currants with mango or toasted coconut and it is our breakfast of champions.

Now I know that is a LOT of home-mades up there. It actually is not that bad and all that work keeps us vegan and healthy. I will dedicate separate posts to inform you of how to make these things but for now am just leaving you with a picture. Sweet dreams.

"Blueberry Bonanza Is Expected For The Area"


Blueberries and then beach - a summer's day well spent.

Find a farm near you here at www.pickyourown.org or if you live in Louisiana the Times Picayune article with a list blueberry farms in the region here. We went to Live Oaks Farm in Pass Christian Mississippi because of it's close proximity to the beach and because their berries are certified organic. More on the blueberries later when they are baked into pies or churned into ice cream....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Found: Drunken Noodle Recipe

I have been on the search for a drunken noodle recipe that is comprehensive. So far the recipe I use is a slip of paper with about three different measurements for each ingredient because every recipe I have found so far varies wildly. It might also be I was looking under the English translation and not the Thai name Pad Kee Mao.

What is fantastic about drunken noodle is the fresh basil - we use purple basil from the garden. Then add tomato which makes is fantastic plus hotness on top of that... whew! And those fat rice noodles are so very good.

While I have no recipe of my own to share with you now I just found this blog about Thai cooking with a comprehensive drunken noodle recipe. I will have to see about fish sauce substitutions however. The site seems really well put together with lots of recipes and lots of information on technique and ingredients. If you love Thai food this site is definitely worth a look!