Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I have been awfully awfully sick recently and with no sign of relief. Finally, I broke down and pulled out my Candle Cafe cookbook, determined to make myself some of that Jewish penicillin of which Joy speaks.
The good news about the CC Knedyl soup is that it is *Very* low fat (1 tbsp oil in the whole thing) but very high flavor. I won't reprint the recipe because
1- I think this cookbook is a very good resource that you will be happy you own
2- I think it's worth buying this cookbook for the Matzo ball soup recipe alone.
The broth is a soak soup and the recipe calls for you to dump the veggies after the soak, but I couldn't bring myself to dump such tender root veggies, so I left them. I think my strategy next time will to be to put the herbs (the recipe calls for close to 1/2 cup dried herbs!) into a little satchel so I can sprinkle a few in, but not be digging through the weeds of this soup, while preserving all my veggies. I treated the kombu like a bay leaf and just fished it out. I am also now addicted to Butler's Soy Curls and drop them into all of my soups and recipes for a little protein punch. In this soup I'd reccommend soaking, chopping into smaller bits and then dropping in at the same time as the balls for maximum flavor absorption. Next time, I think I'll also go a little easier on the lemon juice. My soup is very citrusy and with all the herbs it's starting to taste a little more like sabzhi and a little less like knedyl. I wanna stick to ashkenazi recipes for right now.
Anyway, the real star of the soup (although the broth is surprisingly flavorful. Wessie was shocked) is the knedyl. I'd made Maneschewitz box matzoh balls before and was having a heck of a time binding them together. Joy & Barry had the brilliant idea to secretly meld knedyl and latkes and come up with WONDERFUL matzoh balls. If you were a light fluffy matzoh ball person, you'll disagree, but if you liked your knedyl dense and chewable, with lots of flavor, they have nailed the recipe for you.
They were so darling I remembered to take photos. I'll probably be making this soup for thanksgiving since it took so much less time than I expected it to and will really wow my goyem friends. Here's hoping the jewish penicillin works on me. I need to recover, stat!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Huggy Bear were part of the british riot grrl movement, but were not all girl, were intensely private, punk, DIY and totally awesome. (Huggy Bear tidbit...when being courted by major labels, they agreed to accept an offer from BMG--if and only if they would drop Suede from their roster). Huggy Bear were snotty, childish and savant. Their songs about teenage insecurities somehow morphed into anti-capitalist rants, their songs about freedom and control somehow twisted into sexual manifestos. Their work was always spotty and certainly inconsistent, but when it shone, it was dazzling.
Their two full lengths, Weaponry Listens to Love and Taking the Rough with the Smooch, are probably the most “accessible.” If you have any remote fondness for art rock, riot grrl, noise rock or punk, don't ask questions, just download.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
My roommate Kiki mentioned that she was planning to make an apple crisp with the apples she hand picked in MA and I convinced her to use Earth Balance sticks mixed with shortening in lieu of regular butter to veganize. I stopped off at whole foods and bought Fajita supplies. When I came home, the house smelled WONDERFUL and I found a lovely note that read:
Don't eat this wonderful VEGAN apple crisp until we return.
I was STOKED.
I was about to make my fajitas when they returned with their "supplies" (some extra cinnamon and some reddi whip).
We all ate a little bit of crisp, which was adapted from the cooks illustrated recipe. Then Wessie participated (he more hovered, but he helped!) in the fajita cooking and in their eating. Wessie, who was a fallen vegetarian, has recently put a foot back on the wagon and is now pescatarian. He commented that these fajitas tasted better than the chicken fajitas he'd had. And he commented that my homemade seitan was better than the store bought. Double score.
I'm Fucking Hungry Fajitas (makes enough for 4 VERY hearty fajitas)
For the Fajita Filling:
About 1-2 C Seitan (homemade is obviously the best, but I used westsoy's stir fry strips)
1 green pepper
1 yellow onion
2-3 cloves garlic
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp chile powder
Whole wheat tortillas
Vegetarian refried beans (I prefer Bearito's "spicy" version)
Salsa / Pico de Gallo
Tofutti Sour Cream
Chop and start sauteeing the onions and mushrooms in olive oil while you chop your green pepper and garlic, then add them and some chile powder to the oil. Rough cut the seitan and toss it in there too. Add your spices. I basically eyeballed them, but I think that was about right. Be careful with the salt! If you're using refried beans, put them in a pot or microwave to get them ready, then get your whole wheat tortillas, put a wet paper towel over them and microwave for about 25 seconds.
We used Bearito's spicy refried beans, Rudi's organic flax wheat tortillas, bagged lettuce, Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. Truthfully, if you've got guac, it'll serve the same purpose as most of the cheesy/sour creamy elements. They were delicious. I forgot how much I love homemade fajitas. They also take about 15 minutes tops, but you'll be eatin' (or trying to be eatin') the rest of the night and you won't want to share.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
What was the most recent tea you drank?
Today I drank Earl Gray, because there was no more mint.
What vegan forms do you post/lurk on? If so, what is your username? Spill!
Happy cow as bullcityveg. PPK without a username.
You have to have tofu for dinner, and it has be an Italian dish. What comes to mind first?
Lasagna. Or stuffed shells. Just anything involving the awesome awesome tofu Ricotta recipe I have.
How many vegan blogs do you read on an average day?
When I get into Google Reader, about 25 or 30.
Besides your own, what is the most recent one you’ve read?
Besides Fearlessly Vegan, I think the last full entry I saw was chickpea soup on Centrepullball that looked amazing.
If you could hang out with a vegan blogger that you haven’t met, who would it be, and what would you do?
I have to go with Lindyloo from Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit because she seems to have a real pottymouth and affinity for hipster kitsch, like me, so I think we'd design a theme meal. I'd also be happy to hang out with Hannah from Bittersweet and be her official taste tester for the next few months =).
If you had to base your dinners for a week around one of the holy trilogy – tofu, seitan or tempeh, which would it be?
Tofu. I'm a tofu whore.
If you had to use one in a fight, which would it be?
Seitan. Its rubbery awesomeness would work well to smack the crap outta someone =)
Name 3 meals you’d realistically make with that tough protein of choice!
-Every year for thanksgiving I HAND MAKE the candle cafe Seitan, then marinate it in a mustardy sauce, pan sear it and serve it with mashed potatoes and wild mushroom gravy.
-Seitan strips make excellent fajitas when soaked in "chicken" broth, sauteed with mushrooms, onions green and red peppers, then served up with some vegetarian refried black beans, some guacamole, seasoned rice, salsa and sour cream. Can you say yummers?
-My first foray into seitan was making Carribbean Rice Pilau. It's awesome and the only tricky part is getting your browning just right. Even store-bought yucky seitan eventually absorbs the sweetly savory flavor of browning and onions and bloats and it's just wonderful.
What’s a recipe in vegan blogland that you’ve been eyeing?
I really really want to try and make Jennifer Schmoo's twinkies. But I am SOOOOO lazy.
Do you own any clothing with vegan messages/brands on them?
I've got a "Vegetarianism is for Lovers" baseball tee, a "Give blood and save a life, then go vegetarian and save 85" that is so old/loved that it is threadbare and has cigarette burns in it and a Smiths "Meat is Murder" tee. That counts, right? =)
Have you made your pilgrimage to the 'vegan mecca' yet? (Portland, duh)
I am afraid of flying, but eventually I will get there, because it is also a girl rock mecca.
What age did you first go vegan? Did it stick?
I went vegan at about 13 or 14. I don't remember exactly when it was that I finally quit eating fish and started checking labels vigilantly for dairy. It was right before HS. It stuck. I've only fallen off a few times since then, mainly without knowing (casein, unknown fish sauces in asian foodstuffs) and sometimes on purpose (I can't help it I fucking love pop tarts).
What is the worst vegan meal you’ve had? Who cooked it?
I think the unequivocally worst vegan meal I've ever had was at this place in North Miami that my brother took me to that called itself a "Healthy Eatery" and I vaguely recall that it was named something like Sunshine, or Sun something. The restaurant was full of senior citizens, the food was all labeled as "healthy meat," vegetarian or vegan, then with different dietary ideas too (heart healthy, low sodium, atkins etc) PLUS the restaurant smelled like a pet store that desperately needed to be cleaned. I think I ordered rice and beans, thinking they couldn't possibly screw it up, but it was bland, flavorless and undercooked. I barely touched my food. The irony? My brother who gave me so much shit for being vegan is now vegan too. And beyond that-- he is practically raw.
What made you decide to blog?
Vegan mofo was my inspiration.
What are three of your favorite meals to make?
Soup. It changes with the season, but I love making soup.
Sandwiches. I know that's kind of a ghetto meal but I like to cook fast.
Thanksgiving. (does that count?). It's like, a four day affair, but I have several items that are always on the menu, like my seitan steaks, my gravy, my lasagna, lemon cheesecake, I always add a new type of cupcake...
What dish would you bring to a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck?
See above. I host one every year!
Where is your favorite vegan meal at a restaurant? How many times have you ordered it?
That's tough. I *really* like doing the half soup/half sandwich at Angelica Kitchen in NY. I almost always get the Marinated tofu. I've probably eaten that or the Hot Open Face tempeh about 40 times (I was a *big* fan.) HOWEVER the Alfredo Special at Caravan of Dreams has a special place in my heart. And the "latin" specials at Candle Cafe got eaten a lot. OOF and Zen Palate's Celestial Tofu.
What do you think the best chain to dine as a vegan is?
There are always lots of local chains that are handy dandy. In NY, Zen Palate and Ayhan's were pretty good/safe. Down here, there's a local one called Baba Ghannouj that's good stuff, as well as Cosmic Cantina. National Chains? Most places will make you a salad pretty easily, but most national chains don't really care enough to be super sensitive to vegans, since we're not big money makers. I usually try to find a Whole Foods/Earth Fare or even regular supermarket. Seriously.
My kitchen needs a………
Food Processor. *sigh*
This vegetable is not allowed in my kitchen…..!
I don't bar veggies from the kitchen, but I like to make sure people know what they're doing before they bust out something like...okra. I also hate ALL orange vegetables. All of them.
What's for dinner tonight?
Probably Amy's Un-Chicken Noodle, then some Miso Soup with brussels sprouts. I was gonna stop and get tofu but I am too tired. =(
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
After a tennis match on the Morrisville side of Cary, I decided to drag my parents along to a south Indian feast at Tower Vegetarian Indian in Morrisville. I'm glad I did.
The buffet was not in swing (a fact that really disappointed me), but since we had three people we decided to order off the menu. For starters, we ordered some puffed rice thing that my dad was trying to get as the only indian dish he knows how to say besides naan-- which is some rice and yogurt thing (Lacto-ovo Indian afficions, help me out)-- and a Masala Dosa.
I don't have pictures of the puffed rice thing because I thought it tasted kind of like that yucky bonito fish cracker stuff but my father loved and devoured it. The Dosa here was definitely tasty, crispy but soft on the other side, but the filling wasn't particularly well mashed or distributed. Maybe I'm just wishing I'd ordered a Mysore Masala Dosa in my hear of hearts, but the MMD I got at Udupi kind of beat this one up. And the coconut chutney at Updupi definitely beat this one up. But I like coconut chutney anyway, so I ate and enjoyed it.
For our main course, my dad ordered some sort of rice/lentil and curry sauce dish that I found to be a little bland and too garlicky. My mother ordered a vegetable kurama in a cream sauce and I ordered Channa Masala with Poori (and had a little poori freak out). The poori was kind of uneven but I need to tell you all a little secret:
Tower has the best Channa Masala I've ever eaten. Could it have been a little hotter? Yes, but that's not a problem. The sauce tasted like tomato, was thick and creamy in the way that Imagine tomato soup is thick and creamy, and it STUCK TO MY CHICKPEAS. Every ounce of it that I scooped up with a little piece of poori made me happy. I ate until I was full, then I took it home, waited a few hours and finished it. It was seriously chickpea crack.
The service was good. Next time I'm in/near morrisville I'll order the same thing, but this time just CM w/ poori to go. I wish we had a good south indian/veg spot in Durham.
Now, mission 2: Dal Sag or Channa Sag in a non-cream based sauce. If you know of one, don't be shy.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Let me help you order.
The first couple of times, we got the Mezze platter, which is good, but really you should go for the hummus. Mezze platter wastes precious space on things like potato salad. The hummus plate is hardcore yummy. Not really thick, very lemony and pita wedges are garlicky and toasted and delicious. There are fresh cucumber sticks to dip with too.
The regular salad is absolutely delicious--lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, shredded carrot, cabbage...something else. I love the vegan dill dressing. My mom ordered a crunchy salad which looked really good, piled high with sprouts and crunchy stuff.
Entrees-- I almost always get the kebabs now. They roast peppers, onions, broccoli, tofu and portobello mushrooms with balsamic and something else delicious and serve it over wonderful basmati spiced rice with a size of what we jews call "israeli salad" and they call it something else.
The Sabzi is a spinach and parsley soup interspersed with tempeh, tofu, kidney beans or lentils and infused with dried lemon. It's really really tasty. Bud-M-Joon is a curried lentil and eggplant concoction that tastes vaguely indian and strongly of cinnamon. It's tasty. The last entree we shared was the Fesen Joon, which is tempeh in a sweet sticky thick sauce that is sort of like persian sweet and sour sauce. It's tastier than you'd think, but I'd recommend sharing it because it's hard to eat as a whole meal.
I also favor the carribe, which is basically cuban black beans a rice served with tofu, rice, avocado and plantain.
For dessert, they serve really good chocolate banana vegan cake (it's the only vegan option though) with a lovely vegan vanilla ice cream. Either way, I'd recommend trying Sage out. Since Soul Good closed, it is the last all-vegetarian restaurant this side of the Triangle (the indian places in Cary and Morrisville deserve a shoutout, though) and it's a tasty treat for a once-in-a-while special occasion.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Well, when I found out it was my friend Joe's birthday and we were invited to play a show with him, I immediately volunteered to make (secretly vegan) cupcakes! Not that I think Joe or his TOTALLY AWESOME BAND, (Hammer No More the Fingers, check them out, they rock) or any 20 something year old boys are particularly picky in the eating category, but I like the opportunity to wow people with yummers cupcakes.
In order to make them, I used the Super Rich Chocolate Cake from the PPK (links to the recipe) as well as the Pecan Coconut Fudge and Chocolate Buttercream recipes from VCCTOTW. I made a few tweaks-- like I decided to sub chocolate soy milk for all the regular old soy milk, and I used about three shots of bourbon instead of vanilla (we like to drink).
The cupcakes came out BEAUTIFULLY. Dork described them as "orgasmic," Wessie said they were like "chocolate crack," and Sick gave a nod while dropping bits of icing into her mouth. Joe really enjoyed them (observe bite number two at right-- prepping yourself for chocolate overdose) and was helping me force people to try them so they would not die without knowing the joy that is Vegan German Chocolate heaven. There's a photo at left of them chilling on the floor. Just as a note-- the Cake recipe only made enough to fill 22 cups, and the coconut/pecan icing was sufficient, while the fudge didn't quite make it all the way through.
Can't wait to bust these out again! Isa's cupcakes never fail.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Anyway, since I spend a lot of time on both thedailyplate.com which is an excellent free resource for tracking your calorie and nutritional consumption (although lacking in the vitamin dept) and also a lot of time looking at weird foods on the internet, I've been put in an ad targeting pocket for diets. I saw this ad that was like "miracle noodles" and I wondered...could they be talking about Shirataki?
Once, about 2 years ago, I saw a bag of tofu shirataki in my local whole foods. I have insulin resistence, so I always am looking for good sources of carbohydrates and more protein. Anyway, I bought the bag thinking "yummy protein pasta" and ended up chucking it because after I opened it it smelled like magic markers and paint drying and I couldn't bring myself to eat something that smelled like that.
Well, I'm over myself. I did a little research on the interweb. Shirataki is the new oolong tea or acai berry--something most of us have known about for a while but now it is the "new miracle diet food." Granted, shirataki is sort of a miracle diet food. The real stuff has about 6 calories a cup (compared to pasta's 140-200) and is extremely filling. HOWEVER it is not really pasta-like. If you approach it more like a noodle shaped foodstuff (in the same way that soba noodles and spaghetti squash are pasta-like, but simultaneously different) you'll be happier with it. Tofu shirataki is considerably more palatable, consistency-wise, than ordinary yam shirataki, which is supposedly rubbery and gross. The smell can be reduced with thorough washing and a solid parboil. Armed with five dollars, I set off for the whole foods to purchase some of the stuff.
I bought some fettucini style, thinking that wide flat noodles might be easier to pass off as something other than spaghetti, went home and set to rinsing them thoroughly in 125 degree water. I then set a pot to boil for the parboil (seriously guys, this smell is something else) and started a little "get your nutrients on" sauce on the side, made of Yves Ground, Rao's Tomato sauce, broccoli and spinach. The point of pasta, for me, is the way delicious sauces wrap around the noodles, not the noodles themselves. I made a TON of sauce, probably 3x as much as I'd need, but I figured if the noodles were again inedible, I could just eat the yves/veggie concoction and call it a night.
After a 4 minute parboil, I rinsed, blotted and tasted one of the noodles. It tasted like nothing, and sort of had the consistency of glass noodles, so I dumped the shirataki into my sauce, stirred and then parceled it off. Overall, not a terribly high calorie meal, packed with protein-- came in at 365 calories (using 1/2 package shirataki, 1/2 package yves, 1 c broccoli cuts, 1/3 c frozen spinach and 3/4 c Rao's) per serving, with 31g Carbohydrates, 13 of them are fiber, 37g Protein and 10g fat. Not terrible.
So next week maybe I'll try either a shirataki and chreese or shirataki w/ peanut sauce. I also probably need to work on my food photography. Maybe I should refresh on VeganYumYum's big mfing photography post. But I think she's way more visual artsy than I am. It looks gross, but it's actually really tasty and really filling. I promise. =)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Stole it from Leave it to Cleaver
1. Name a song that involves food in some way.
Evil Weiner - Flying Candybar
2. What criteria do you use when choosing a new cookbook to buy?
Did Isa Chandra write it? Is it a restaurant cookbook of a restaurant I like? Is it a blogger's cookbook from a blog I want recipes from?
3. What did you eat today?
So far, a light life bologna & heirloom tomato sandwich.
4. Name a vegan food that you know exists but you have never tried.
5. The Food Network just called and needs you to start your new show tomorrow. What will the title of the show be?
Beer is Vegan. Seriously, I was floored to get this blog name.
6. Favorite hot sauce or other spicy condiment?
Coconut chutney. Close second goes to wasabi.
7. How old were you when you became vegetarian/vegan?
Vegetarian was about 13. Vegan was about 8 months later.
8. Favorite vegan cheeze?I like them all for different things.
Road's end organic for ez mac. Follow your heart Monterrey jack and Veganrella cheddar mixed together for a velveeta cheese sauce. Teese for anything involving mozzarella. Tofutti cream cheese. Tofutti slices for grilled cheese. Parma for a slight flavor.
9. Cutest baby animal?
10. Favorite type of jam/jelly/marmalade/preserves?raspberry for everything except PB&J. grape for a traditional PB&J.
11. Do you take any vitamins/supplements?
sometimes I toss some hemp protein, soy protein or flax seeds into "mushy" food. occasionally I'll down a b12 pill. even less frequently I'll swallow an acidophillus pill.
12. What food/dish most embodies the Fall season?
apples and apples and a few more apples
13. What food would you have a hard time living without?
14. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
15. It’s 10PM and you’re starving. What do you eat?
If I'm out, I'm hitting cosmic. If I'm in, soup. And maybe a cupcake.
16. If you have an animal companion, what is his/her favorite food?
they like pretty much everything.
17. Worst injury you’ve gotten in the kitchen?
cut through my nail and nail bed.
18. When you have a food-related question, who do you call?
teh internets. =(
19. Summer is ending- What food will you miss most?
all of it. but especially cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and zucchini.
20. What snacks do you keep in your purse/backpack/desk at work?
21. Favorite soup to make on a rainy day?
spicy tomato vegetable
22. What’s your favorite combination of fresh vegetable and/or fruit juices?
23. Favorite brand of root beer?I don't really differentiate between them.
24. Make up your own question!
Favorite vegan dessert?
Right now I am jonesing so hard for a piece of strawberry shortcake from vegan treats. like whoa.
Lunch is my favorite meal of the day. Let me explain why. You'll agree. Maybe.
1. Soup and sandwiches are the shit.
Soup is (obviously) one of my favorite foods. It can be a vegetables about to go bad sinkhole. It can be an "oh my god I need to get 5 servings of veggies in today and I am failing because I ate a cupcake for dinner" lifesaver. You can freeze it and make enough for a week. And SANDWICHES! You can make really plain, comforting sandwiches, like peanut butter and jelly on wheat (though I prefer PB&Banana), more practical, sandwich-y sandwiches like lightlife bologna with vegenaise, tomato and lettuce on rye, or you can get fancy and gourmet and make my favorite kind of sandwiches-- the pretentious $8 sandwich. The one I made on Saturday (which was seriously a treat I wasn't expecting, but I played a 3 set tennis match and decided I deserved it) was as follows:
2 slices fresh pumpernickel rye bread
2 tbsp tofutti better than cream cheese mixed with some chives and onion powder (I wanted it to be really rich)
1/2 avocado, sliced
two beefy heirloom tomato slices
1 super thin onion slice
generous helping alfalfa and clover sprouts
4 slices smart deli bologna
4 slices smart deli turkey
Assemble. Cut in half. Eat half. Be really full. Eat the other half anyway, because it was mad tasty.
What's not to love?
2. Lunch Menus
I love lunch menus. I'm a big sucker for the tasting menu at restaurants, but usually do not have the confidence in a chef to make a whole vegan meal, nor the money to compensate him for it. (an incredible exception was in London, where I was able to partake in a vegan tasting menu at Nahm, which was the best thing I've ever done. Although it would've also paid my utilities for 2 months.) But the lunch menu usually offers some sort of wonderful small-portion combination, which comes with a drink and an appetizer for about 3/4 the price of a dinner entree. Not to divulge too much information about what a sick little foodie I am, but sometimes when I'm trying a new restaurant, I'll order two lunch entrees so that I get to try more stuff. Sometimes that doesn't work out so well (cough cough the recently deceased Pao Lim) but hey! What's not to love about the special dividing plates? One of my favorite places for that was Zen Palate in NY, who had a really cute "prix fixe" lunch thing, which came with a smaller portion of an entree, a cup and a half of rice or potatoes, two taro rolls, a (kind of excrutiatingly small) salad, a drink and a small taste of dessert.
3. Making Lunch
I make my lunch every morning. It's boring (I usually just make a sandwich and a soup or salad), but sometimes I'll be hit with a little pizzaz and I'll make a more exciting sandwich or salad. Really, I just like that the first thing I do in the morning after the getting up, brushing my teeth etc is chopping vegetables while watching 20 minutes, but it's still nice. Plus, on the preparing food end of things, it's probably the lowest anxiety food prep I can do. Dinner is always more of a production and breakfast...truthfully I've started just eating half a sandwich =). Most people don't mind a simple salad or a cold sandwich for lunch, though. On weekends, I usually wake up just in time for lunch, which means I can spend an hour making something really sassy.
4. Going out for Lunch
Then you have leftovers for dinner. Or for lunch.
5. Lunch Buffets
Again with the tasting menu. I've found Indian places have the best lunch buffets ever, but most chinese places have lunch buffets too. I kind of don't trust omni Chinese food anymore, but I can appreciate the joy of a good lunch buffet.
6. The ladies who lunch
Don't you feel really important when you have a "lunch meeting" or a "lunch date," like you live such a busy and important life that you are going to take an hour in the middle of your day and indulge in delicious food? I do. And it doesn't harbor all of that obnoxious date-y stuff. People know that when you're out to lunch, it's for good company and good food, not because you're trying to get laid. And there is absolutely no danger of one of those traveling musicians or flower salesmen trying to guilt you into giving them money. Not that it happens a lot, just saying.
So yeah. Lunch. Hip hip hooray.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Anyway, I present this compilation for your aural pleasure.
Here is what we hit:
Panda Veg, Richmond VA
We were HUNGRY after like 2 hours on the road, so we popped into Richmond, hoping to hit up the Harrison St Coffee Shop, which unfortunately closes at 3 on Saturdays (And opens at 11. Why would you open for 4 hours, Coffee Shop?). Lucky for us, there was an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet at Panda Veg, which was open 11-11. So, naturally we stopped in.
The beef/chicken sub they used was something of which I am not a fan. Now the tofu on the otherhand was really crispy yet chewy inside, sweet and just about perfect. The spring rolls were obviously homemade (none of that homogenously shredded cabbage and celery) which made for slightly more difficult eating but totally worthwhile and delicious eating. The fried rice looked great but was a little bland but the ghetto vermicelli rice noodle lo mein was amazingly flavorful. I was already pretty full by this time but then they brought out some doughnuts, general tso's "chicken" and some weird potato thing, so we went for 2nds. Dork thought the doughnuts were awesome, but I found them to be weird, salty and generally unpleasant. I am just not into the fake meat here, but those potato things were really tasty. After we felt like we were gonna puke, we went to the bathroom (something I'd reccommend avoiding at Panda Veg) and hit the road again.
After we arrived in DC, my good friend Sean dropped us off by the 9:30 club, but we hit DC9 first. They have a really reasonable happy hour-- $3 well drinks, $2.50 bud/bud light and $3 beer of the week, which was ABITA! We moseyed over to the 9:30 at around 9:30 and found Wire just climbing onstage and getting ready to play. Sorry Tone! My phone screwed up a little while I was trying to take photos but resulted in a really cool one, at left. I've also included another, more normal wire shot.
After the show, we headed over to the Black Cat owned Food For Thought. (See their punk rock "Don't forget to tip" sign). It was a little confusing--you need to show ID to get into the cafe--but we figured it out, went in and ordered. On recommendation from several sources, I ordered the vegan lasagna and Dork ordered a deep fried chili dog. We decided to try and split a piece of chocolate peanut butter cake. While we were there, waiting on our food, some guy spilled ketchup all over himself, we laughed and eventually he came to join us while he waited on his friends. When they arrived, they slid into our booth and we ended up hanging out with them all night. One of them works for a DC cultural site called Brightest Young Things, which is pretty cool and I'll definitely check out the next time I'm heading up there. As far as the food goes, Dork loved the hot dog (girl likes anything deep fried, I swear), the french fries we were offered for the lack of chili and we both thought the lasagna was really really good. Wish we could say the same for the chocolate peanut butter cake. The cake was dry and the icing was thin and syrupy. It's definitely a good spot for reasonably priced (a slice of cake and a piece of lasagna were exactly 10 bucks) late night eats, drinking and hanging out, but I'd skip on the dessert.
The next day we attempted to go to Java Green for brunch, but found them to be closed on sunday, which is kinda silly, since a place that has a separate brunch menu really ought to be open on the most popular brunch day of the week, shouldn't it?
We ended up visiting Asylum in Adams Morgan, after a whole heck of a lot of driving around lost. I ordered the French Toast (omg I haven't had french toast since I was like, 8!) with a side of homefries and Dork got a breakfast burrito. We divvied the food up (two slices toast to each, and half a burrito). Be careful when ordering off the Vegan Brunch menu-- it says in very small print that the sides you can order ARE NOT vegan, and Dork was really jonesing for Texas Toast. Good thing we asked, huh?
We both tore into the breakfast burrito first, probably because french toast just feels like dessert. The breakfast burritos were a mess of saucy-potato-tofu-goodness with salsa. The potatoes were probably the same as the homefries, which were sort of vile (I think homefries and I think cubed potatoes, seared to crispy with a little onion, lots of salt and lots of grease). The fries were not crispy in any sense, a little spicy and covered in one of the ickiest fake cheeses I have ever eaten. The burrito just drowned out a lot of the gross in the fake cheese I think. The french toast was really the star of the meal for me. It was like I remembered, pillowy bread with a little chewy texture, cinnamon and powdered sugar, drizzled with maple syrup. I had about a quarter of it before I even remembered to add the syrup. Asylum is a sort of gothic bar most of the time, judging from the red velvet and wrought iron decor. The wait staff were pretty distant and hard to get ahold of (our food came about 15 minutes after order, but it took us nearly 20 to get our order taken), but the food is cheap (all entrees were under $10, most of them closer to $6) and we were happy.
Last stop before we left was the much-lauded Sticky Fingers Bakery in Columbia Heights.
I inspected the case and decided that buying 12 cupcakes would be the easiest way to truly sample their wares. Pictured at left, I bought: 2 coconut cream cupcakes, 2 PB&J, 2 Choc Raspberry, 2 Strawberry Shortcake, 1 Fluffernutter, 1 Cookies n Cream, 1 Smores and 1 Almond chocolate. Since we were there and I'd been talking about it for like a month, we also ordered a cinnamon bun so I could get my cinnafix. I grabbed a lasagna for the road and Dork picked up a tofu and cold sesame noodles. Cupcakes run between 2 and 4 bucks a pop. The prepared foods are a little more expensive (sandwiches are in the $7-$9 range, which, for pre-made/pre-packed sandwiches, is a little steep) and they were unfortunately out of the infamous and beloved Teese.
Dork and I sat down in the quaint, cute, pastel pink shop to split our cinnabon. The shop is well lit, has wifi and apparently a huge following. I read on their site that Sticky Fingers plans to expand to NYC. Given their cozy aesthetic and the fact that they seem to be making a killing, I bet they'll do well.
My previous experience with cinnamon rolls was very limited. My first cinnamon roll since vegandom was the pre-packaged kind. I then found that Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe will ship them, but the bakery from which they procure the buns isn't my fav. The latest and greatest was a quick dip into Bethlehem PA's Vegan Treats on the way from Philly to NYC and those are the buns I love. Gooey, rich, messy, moist and nauseating, they are everything my little heart imagined a real cinnabon would be like. I'm sad to report that Sticky Fingers' buns were not up to this golden ideal for me.
We drove back to NC and upon arrival realized we were *famished*, so we heated our pasta up. The lasagna at Sticky Fingers is GOOD, man. A little more herb and spinach lends it a healthier, more complex flavor than the Black Cat version (which was still really good), and their sesame noodles were nutty and delicious, but not too heavy as is the danger with peanut sauces. For dessert, we split a Strawberry Shortcake cupcake, which was very tasty. I ended up running directly to the Cave after that for a show with Teh Vodak and The Can Kickers, so I slipped the cupcakes into the freezer before I left.
I came home after that and decided to sample half a coconut cupcake and half the chocolate almond. *sad news* The cupcakes do not hold up well to freezing. The cake itself almost immediately (over the course of about 4 hours in the freezer!) took on the day-old baking soda strong taste that I've found to be most prominent in wacky cake. Thoroughly bummed, I ate about 1/3 of the cake part, then ended up scraping the icing and licking it off my fork. The coconut and strawberry shortcakes were good, but the almond chocolate icing was divine. Even so, I still prefer the creamy perfection of Vegan treats and I don't think I'll buy a dozen cupcakes again. Just the one will do. But maybe I'll buy more than one piece of lasagna.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Before someone starts telling me about all the non-vegan beer processes (I am aware that several beers are not, in fact, vegan), I will argue that no person can in fact be truly 100% animal free, considering that most of us do participate in society and our society runs on fossil fuel. Plus, I *really really* love beer and if somewhere along the line (I'm not talking about like milk stouts or whatever) some non-vegan sugar was used, I'm not getting my panties in a bunch.
Abita is quickly taking a place as my favorite brewing co. I'd had the purple haze at a Mellow Mushroom and Dork brought the Strawberry beer to practice (not a strawberry fan), but I tried the Amber Ale and ended up refilling on it twice.
Sweetwater's blue was a blueberry beer that was pleasantly blueberry flavored, but without the excessive sweetness of most fruit-flavored beers. I don't know if I'd buy a six pack, but I'd probably order it again, since it was memorable.
Charleston Brewing Co wins the best Hefeweizen (my favorite type of beer) of the night award from me. The Half Moon Hefe was out of sight, a welcome respite after countless bitter or thin hefes.
Triangle Brewery right here in Durham had a fantastic new beer that we were lucky enough to witness being released at the James Joyce (they had Pink Flag, Rat Jackson and the Dry Heathens play the release and apparently sponsor many other local music events, which is cool with me). It's called Abbey Duppel. It's pretty durn tasty.
Another local fav, Big Boss, presented a big line up, but were out of the good stuff (Hell's belle, a belgian blonde) by the time I got there. The Black Diamond wasn't bad, but a little dry for my tastes. Angry angel (a kolsch) just doesn't really agree with my palate.
Lastly, and no poking fun, I love cider. I can't help it. It's my ovaries. They scream for cider. So I hit up a few and even though it's widely available and wussy, I don't care! Green Mountain Beverage, you rule! Woodchuck amber ale is like drinking apple juice. Bulmer's Strongbow Amber took a close second, as an amber that was 1- directly next to the Woodchuck and 2- a little less treacly.
The best thing? Local indian yumminess Sitar was totally repping the vegan friendly with veggie samosas, pakoras and some aloo ghobi. I'm sure other places offered vegan friendly options somewhere, but I'd be a little more worried about the mobile veganizing capabilities of the usually pretty vegan-friendly spots like Federal, James Joyce and Mellow Mushroom.
The greatest thing about this soup is that it is very satisfying, flavorful, a good meal replacement and EXTREMELY low in calorie, for those of you who are fighting the battle of the bulge. It relies on the delicate interplay of coconut and curry, but the rest of the ingredients are not set in stone. Traditionally, it is served fairly plain with carribbean dumplings in the soup, but I find that subbing Brussels sprouts gives a similar mouth-feel albeit a different (but delightful) flavor. I try to dump lots of veggies in because soup is a great way to get rid of leftovers, to use up frozen or fresh veggies and to get lots of nutrients and fiber up in your body in a delicious, warming way.
You Will Need:
1 c split peas (green, yellow or mixed! lentils work too, but only the red ones get the same consistency)
1 can light coconut milk
4-6 stalks celery (I just went ahead and used a whole heart)
1 large yellow onion (I used 2 small ones)
3-4 cloves garlic
2 cubes vegetable boullion (or 2-3 cups vegetable broth)
2 T curry powder blend (you can use any kind, whatever flavor tickles your fancy. if you don't have a blend, here's a food network version, or just toss in some turmeric, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, cardamom or cloves or cinnamon, paprika, and any other spices to taste)
A BIG bowl
Either a lot of mouthes to feed, or 3 or 4 decent sized tupperware containers.
If you're going traditional, you'll also need about 1 cup of flour.
I also used:
3/4 c butler's soy curls
8 oz Brussels sprouts
1 16oz bag frozen okra (note-- this was my first time using frozen okra and I recommend going through it and pulling out all the stem ends, something I would've done with fresh okra. I also strongly recommend using okra in this soup. It acts as an excellent thickening agent.)
2 C rough cut broccoli
1. Measure out your peas, rinse them, then stick them in a bowl with water to soak.
2. Finely chop your onions, 3 stalks of celery, carrots and garlic.
3. Heat a little coconut milk in your big pot and put your celery, carrots and garlic in there, stirring until the onions start to turn a little translucent and the celery turns bright green.
4. Add your curry powder, and then all other vegetables that were rough chopped (in my case, more celery, brussels sprouts, broccoli and okra. When they've been coated in the gooey coconut curry, dump water over the top to cover the vegetables by about an inch.
5. Drain and add the split peas. I refilled the split pea bowl and rehydrated my butler curls.
6. Add boullion, any extra spices, cover and start to simmer on low heat.
7. At the traditional juncture, this is the point at which you'd make DUMPLINGS (see below.)
8. Add dumplings and/or protein source.
9. Cover and simmer another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
1.5 C Flour (any kind)
Water, Milk or Coconut water or milk until slightly wet.
1. Mix flour and liquid until it is wet, but still firm.
2. Roll dumplings into large pill shapes or 1.5" balls.
3. Drop into soup as you make them.
The longer the dumplings sit in the soup, the more delicious soup flavor they absorb, just like pasta, only SO much tastier.
My version (dumpling-free, veggie heavy):
Divvied up into six whopping portions, this made for a great lunch for those days when I wanted to have dessert, go out to eat or go drinking.
Monday, October 6, 2008
I should preface this wild endorsement of Twisted Noodles on University Rd in Durham NC with the fact that I live walking distance from Thai Cafe and Pao Lim. Yet, rather than walking to one of these establishments, I consistently make up excuses to pick up dinner or go out to eat at Twisted Noodles. It is fair to say I am obsessed with Twisted Noodles.
One of the reasons for that is that even though I go, I say "Tofu (insert dish name here), vegan, no fish sauce," and my waiter answers, "Tofu has NO FISH SAUCE. No fish sauce in any tofu." And we regard one another strangely and then they go make my curry and I relax a little.
I am a bit of a creature of habit. The fried tofu appetizer is really really yummy. The drunken noodles are just the right amount of greasy and spicy for those hungover weekend days. My old standby is a house salad (sans egg, dressing on the side) and an order of the tofu red curry. I usually prefer green curry, but the red curry here is so good I've been converted. Again, always forgetting to take pictures before I start eating, but here's some of the tofuliciousness. Best part for me? Tofu chunks, sweet and mildly spicy coconut curry with bamboo shoots. Yum yum gimme some.
It's not Xanadu, though. I have been accidentally served a curry with chicken in it. It's more reasonably priced than Thai Cafe, but at $9-20 an entree, it can still be a little steep. Their pad thai is kind of forgettable (if you really love pad thai, you might be cool, but the fish sauce kind of made that flavor combination for me) and their spring rolls are reportedly gross. Saddest of all, although they claim all menu items can be made vegan or vegetarian, that's not entirely true, and the greatest victim in that case is the unavailability of Thai Iced tea, something I've sort of been in love with since my last trip to NY.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Well, for those of you who suffer the same dilemma, I am a somewhat chubby vegan, and am in the process of losing that pudge. So, I joined weight watchers and am on the "core" program, which helps me focus on my real food goal, which is to eat 50% vegetables. I was gonna say raw, but frozen veggies rock.
Anyway, we talked about SOUP in this week's meeting and soup is one of my favorite foods. A friend at work teases me and says it's all I ever eat. After talking about it at the meeting, I realized that while Amy's soups might be a godsend, they are fairly unhealthy sodium-wise, environment-wise and I could make my own soup much better.
So I did.
The Harris Teeter by me (I still miss being walking distance from Whole Foods!) has a whole "Kosher Foods" section, from which I have discovered two amazing things:
1. Gabila's Knishes, pictured at left. If you've never had a Knish (chances are, living in the South as a "Goy" as we Jews say, you haven't), you are in for a treat. I explain them as the Jewish Samosa. Or the Jewish Hush Puppy. But closest thing is the Jewish Pierogie.
The best thing about Knishes is that they are, for the most part, Parve, which means no dairy (although eggs and fish don't count as meat or dairy, so watch out). The best thing about Gabila's Knishes is that they have traditional fried square knishes, baked round knishes, and then little mini spinach knishes! Awww. I won't lie, it's a little pricey, but man, I'm happy to see Knishes.
2. Tabatchnik's soup. As I explained, Kosher food is nice because most of the time all you have to look for is eggs/fish in your parve food. The soups come in little frozen packets and in regular sodium and low sodium versions. I like the soups on their own, but I like them better as "soup starters" because a cup of soup is not a meal for me.
For this particular foray into soupmaking, I started with a Minestrone base, then started dumping in some of the last of my Brinkley Farms CSA veggies for the week, since I had a whole new batch coming in. I tossed some zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, fresh diced tomatoes and frozen diced collards into the pot, dropped in a "not chicken" bouillion cube, added another 2 cups of water, put a top on and took a shower.
When I came down, my Tabatchnik's was melted, my tomatoes were stewed, my bouillion was dissolved and my soup was simmering nicely. I put half in a bowl and ate it, then I brought the other half to work the next day. Deelish.
I always forget to take pictures of the stuff before I start eating it, maybe because I'm always kind of hungry for lunchtime. Soup is still my favorite lunch. And a delicious dinner. And snack.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
So, my first post of vegan mofo and I'm like, man I'm so busy. So I'm sitting in the living room on Tues and Wessie's like, "Hey can I cook dinner for you tomorrow?"
And I'm like "Heck yeah!"
So we select the Black Bean Burgers from the Candle Cafe cookbook. I get home and something smells *good.*
Wessie went a little hog wild with the Candle book and also made garlic mash, caramelized onions, guacamole, garlic roasted asparagus and a black bean salsa. He plated everything really cute, then I came to flip our burgers.
They were big honkers (he said he thinks he probably should've chopped a little more) but we fried them up and ate them. They had a good flavor, but I think they were a little big for the amount of oil (we used a lot less than reccommended because deep fried burgers are a little much).
Overall, the meal came out good. I told Wessie he's gonna be my special helper for thanksgiving. I'll do the chopping, he can knead the Candle Cafe seitan for 3 hours. =)
Here's some pictures of our very pretty food.