Monday, March 31, 2008

I Love Waffles!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my pal Leslie made me a jar of herbal-infused maple syrup. Leslie's "Sweetly Soothing Syrup" contains hawthorn, rose, ginger, and yummy cinnamon! The herb combo is supposed to calming for the nerves and healthy on the heart. Leslie's like a master herbalist or something, so I take her word on that.

Well, of course, I had to try it out as soon as I returned from Nashville. So last night, I veganized a basic waffle recipe and added chopped pecans, cinnamon, vanilla, and flax. My Cinnamon Pecan Waffles are definitely going in my Southern vegan cookbook. Southerners use pecans in just about everything, so this is perfect!

I put the batter in the fridge last night, so it would be ready for the waffle machine first thing in the morning. I don't have time to mix up waffle batter before work, but it holds up well in the fridge. I made the mix up right before going to bed, and I actually dreamed of waffles. Crazy, huh? That should tell you how much I love waffles!

On a completely un-waffle note, I ate at a brand-new vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Nashville this weekend called The Veggie Cafe. I didn't bring my camera, but I had the meatless meatloaf, sauteed spinach, and creamed sweet potatoes. Wow, what a soothing plate of food! I'll definitely be going back there every time in I'm Nashville!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seitan and Dumplins

I've been working on perfecting my Seitan and Dumplins recipe, my vegan version of Chicken and Dumplins, for awhile. But tonight, I think I've finally settled the right combination of ingredients.

Last night, I made some quick seitan from vital gluten flour and simmered it in a "chicken"-flavored broth. Tonight, I simmered cubed potatoes, chopped carrots, and onions in vegetable broth. I made a batch of vegan biscuit dough, and dropped little pieces in the boiled broth mixture and then added the seitan. In the last minute of cooking, I added frozen peas.

This was definitely a hearty winter meal, even though it's spring now. But I really wanted to get this one right before it got too hot to eat hearty food. It's going in the cookbook since Chicken and Dumplins (notice there's no "g" at the end of "dumplin") are totally Southern fare.

My friend Leslie stopped by and sampled the dumplins, and she also brought me a very special treat — homemade herb-infused cinnamon maple syrup!!! I took a picture, but I'll have to flip it in Photoshop. I think I'll wait to post it when I make waffles again...which will be soon because I'm dying to try this stuff.

For dessert, I whipped up a batch of Mississippi Mud Cookies, a no-bake treat made with cocoa powder, peanut butter, and oats.

Stef from the Poopie Bitch blog brought a batch to lunch yesterday, and that got me craving more. I've been wanting create a veganized version for the dessert section in my cookbook anyway. These are REALLY simple.

Here's the recipe:

Mississippi Mud Cookies
1/2 cup soymilk
2 cups evaporated cane sugar
1/2 cup soy margarine
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup natural crunchy peanut butter (or any crunchy nut butter)
3 cups oats

Mix soymilk, sugar, margarine, and cocoa in a saucepan. Heat to a rapid boil, and then boil one more minute. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and oats. Drop tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and place in the fridge to cool and harden.

UPDATE: This batch did not set completely so they were a little gooey. My mom tells me I should have let the mixture boil for 2-3 minutes. She also suggests plopping a little of the cocoa/butter/soymilk mixture into a glass of cold water before turning off the heat to see if it forms a ball. If it does, she says it's ready. Either way, they taste the same. It's just easier to pick up when the cookies are harder.

BTW, this will be my last post until Sunday or Monday....going to Nashville for the weekend...see ya!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vegan Food for the Soul

My dear pal Leslie is in town from North Carolina. She moved to Asheville last year, which she claims is some sort of vegan, hippie mecca. I'm super jealous! Anyhow, she wanted to try Java, Juice, & Jazz, the new vegan-friendly soul food restaurant on Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Stef from vegan blog Poopie Bitch and Vaughan (my partner-in-crime in our local vegetarian society/animal rights group, Food Awareness) joined us too.

On the menu today were tofu-stuffed cabbage rolls in an herbed tomato sauce, okra & tomatoes, and collard greens:

They were also serving veggie medley, tofu fried rice, grilled cabbage, and some kind of fried sweet potato chips (but they had honey, so they weren't technically vegan).

Man, the cabbage rolls were tasty! A little hard to cut with a fork, but the tofu stuffing inside was really yummy.

Unfortunatley, Java didn't have any vegan desserts available today. Their menu rotates daily, and the iced layer cake was not vegan. But that was okay because Stef brought Mud Cookies, or Cow Patties as some people call them. You know, those peanut buttery chocolate no-bake cookies with oats. They were amazing. The wait staff and cooks at the restaurant sampled them too, and they were very impressed. If you haven't seen Stef's blog, you should check it out. This girl has been baking like crazy, and her treats always look delectable.

Tonight, I warmed up some leftover Tofu Surprise from Monday night's dinner. I had plans to meet my friend Autumn's brand-new baby, which she just popped out a couple weeks ago. His name is Ansell, and even though he's definitely not food, I thought it'd be cute to post a picture of him here. Isn't his "Automatic Sprinkler" shirt adorable?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Skip Breakfast

In an effort to eat more greens, I made a big batch of steamed kale and brown rice on Sunday night to mix together for breakfast bowls all week long.

I threw in some yummy White Wave Thai-Style Sesame Peanut Baked Tofu for good measure. Then, I stirred in a few drops of soy sauce and a 1/2 teaspoon of flax oil. Wow, what an easy wholesome breakfast! I got whole grains, greens, and soy protein in one bowl. I washed it all down with fresh-squeezed orange juice, so I also started the day with a nice boost of Vitamin C too.

This dish would have been great with plain, marinated tofu as well. But the Sesame Peanut tofu at Wild Oats was calling me. Sesame Peanut tofu and kale may not sound all that breakfast-y, but I tend to eat just about anything for breakfast that I'd eat any other time of the day.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day for me. I get all nauseus and whiny if I don't eat some time in the hour after I've woken up. And nobody likes a whiny Bianca...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tofu Surprise!

Tonight, I veganized a recipe for Chicken Spaghetti Casserole ... I'm calling it Tofu "Chicken" Surprise because it contains a few ingredients that I was surprised to see listed together. But it tastes awesome!

The original recipe came from "The Best of the Best Arkansas Recipes." It's one of those spiral bound-type books where many of the ingredients are processed, canned convenience items. I borrowed it from my mom so I could veganize and unprocess some of the classic Southern dishes.

For this dish, I marinated some tofu in a faux chicken broth overnight. Then I mixed it with vegan cream of mushroom soup, canned tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, celery, and whole wheat penne pasta. Then I topped it with nutritional yeast and baked for 30 minutes.

I would have never thought to put canned tomatoes and cream of mushroom in the same recipe. The surprise is that those two ingredients actually work very well together. At first, the sauce was a little pink (the mix of the white cream soup and the red tomatoes), but it cooked up to become a more appetizing orange.

I had to make the cream of mushroom from scratch using soymilk, mushrooms, cornstarch, and some dried herbs. I want to include this in my cookbook, so I didn't want to rely too heavily on hard-to-find items like canned vegan cream of mushroom. I'm trying to create each recipe with easy-to-locate ingedients, so people living in rural areas can make each dish. I know what it's like being veg in a small town, and let me tell ya folks, it ain't easy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One weekend, two potlucks

As you may have guessed by the title of this post, I went to a couple potlucks this weekend, both in celebration of the Vernal (or Spring) Equinox. On Saturday, I went to a picnic/grill-out/potluck in Bartlett, a surburb of Memphis. It was held outside, and yesterday was actually a little cold with temps in the mid-60s. We were all freezing by the time it was over. Most of the attendees are omnis, but a couple were veg and we threw out Tofurky Chiptole Franks and Smart Dogs on the grill.

I brought a veganized, whole wheat version of Hot Cross Buns, a traditional Easter treat:

I found the recipe online, but I made a couple slight changes. I'm going to post the amended recipe (with my variations).

Vegan Hot Cross Buns
4 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/3 cup Evaporated Cane Sugar
2 tablespoons Quick Rise Instant Yeast
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
2 cups Warm Water
1/4 cup Melted vegan margarine
2 liquid egg replacers
1 cup Raisins or part currants


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in warm water and vegan margarine, then egg replacers. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir dough until smooth and elastic. Stir in raisins. Scrape down sides of bowl, cover with a clean dry towel and stand for 10 minutes. Grease 24 medium to large-sized muffin cups and spoon in batter -- no more than 2/3 full.

Brush tops with melted margarine. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost double, about 20 - 30 minutes.

Bake in an oven preheated to 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until tops are browned. Let cool on wire racks until warm, about 10 - 15 minutes.

Lemon Icing (veganized from Southern Living):
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. soy milk
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. melted soy margarine

Combine until smooth; place in a piping bag or spoon on top of buns to make crosses.

Today, I went to another potluck at my friend Scott and Andrea's house in Cordova, another suburb. I made Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Balsalmic Vinegarette and Faux Feta.

I didn't use a recipe, just whipped it up. But it was super tasty. The star was the Sunergia Soy Feta in Mediterranean Herb flavor. They sell it at Wild Oats, and I could just eat it right out of the package.

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Balsamic Vinegarette
1 lb. whole wheat rotini
10 black olives, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 marinated red pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. red onion, minced very fine
1 package Sunergia soy feta

3 Tbsp. balsalmic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. flax seed oil
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
black pepper to taste

Combine in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Pour over pasta salad and mix well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cupcakes & Peanuts!

Last night, I visited my parents in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They had an Easter basket for me (yea, I'm almost 30 and I still get Easter parents are awesome!), so I drove an hour to visit and retreive my goodies. Inside the basket was a copy of "The Complete Vegan Kitchen" by Jannequin Bennett, a nice sauce pan (which didn't actually fit inside the basket), a cute black Hello Kitty purse, a lavendar-flavored Dagoda dark chocolate bar, some almonds and mixed nuts, and a bag of Cracker Jacks (totally vegan!).

Of course, my mom had already cracked open the cookbook before I arrived to whip up some Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.

These are DELECTABLE! In fact, I'm eating one right now. The cake part contains no white sugar, but instead is sweetened with molasses and maple syrup. And she used whole wheat pastry flour and soy flour. The icing recipe came off the internet and called for Tofutti Cream Cheese. She didn't think she'd like the frosting recipe in the cookbook, which had a silk tofu base.

My daddy had been working on a batch of Cajun Boiled Peanuts for a full day before I got there.

They take 22 hours in a Crock Pot, so he started them the day before. I'd never had boiled peanuts until last year when my parents and I took a road trip to New Orleans...we stopped at a little rural gas station and they had spicy Cajun boiled peanuts for sale. I had to try them. My dad and I were pleasantly surprised. He thought he'd hate them. Now he makes his own version of the spicy nuts we ate that day. If you've never had a boiled peanut (it's totally a Southern thing), you crack open the shell and dig out the soft nut. It's the texture of a cooked bean. And they taste a little like beans. Yum!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Spring! Happy Meatout!

Today was the first day of spring, and man, was it beautiful! With temps in the upper 60s and lots of sunshine in Memphis, it felt like the perfect beginning for a new season of growth and re-birth. Can you tell Spring is my favorite season? It's also National Meatout Day!

I celebrated with a veggie-heavy dish — Cauliflower Creole:

I used a typical Shrimp Creole recipe (tomato paste, bell pepper, celery, thyme) but replaced the seafood with yummy white cruciferous veggies! I'm going to include this in my vegan soul food cookbook. It felt pretty unhealthy and unprocesseed, which was a nice change considering how much tofu and other faux meats I eat. It's strange to have a veggie dish as the main entree — but strange in a good way.

The original Shrimp Creole recipe came from a cookbook that the Haas side of my family put together a couple years ago and sold at the family reunion. Everyone was asked to submit recipes (I submitted Kimchee Soup, Tofu Manicotti, and Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes). This one came from Hazel Haas Roemmich, the daughter of Pearl and Julius Haas (my great-grandparents). That would make Hazel my great-aunt, I guess.

Anyway, have a wonderful first weekend in Spring and enjoy the Full Moon!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Apple (and Some Spinach) a Day...

I didn't cook anything fabulous today — frozen flax seed waffles for breakfast, leftover burrito for lunch, and a salad for dinner. So I thought it'd be a nice day to post a picture of my daily juice. This morning, it was Apple Spinach Juice:

I threw one organic apple and a handful of spinach into my trusty Jack Lalanne juicer and voila! Fresh, tasty juice! I generally make fresh juice every morning to drink with my breakfast, unless the breakfast includes a lot of whole fruits (like when I have cereal or soy yogurt with fresh fruit).

On most days, juicing allows me to get in much of my fruit group. I've wasn't a big fan of fruit until I started juicing. Now I love it. Some days, I make orange-grapefuit. Others it's just plain ole' orange or carrot-apple-ginger. I'm a big fan of grapefruit-watermelon in the summer time when watermelons are everywhere down here. I also really dig fresh tomato or veggie juice in the summer when tomatoes are ripe and tasty.

I've just started incorporating more greens in my morning juice. I worry that I don't eat enough leafy greens, even though I totally love them. Apple-spinach is pretty darn tasty. The spinach doesn't have much taste, so it's most like fresh apple juice.

On a completely different note, I got a surprise in the mail today! It's my copy of "Papa Tofu," a cute little vegan cookzine by
Kittee Kake from New Orleans.

I can't wait to try the Chickpea "Fish" in Spicy Wine Gravy and the Crispy Crunchy Stuffed Tofu Pockets! I'm also excited that an entire half of the book is dedicated to sweets!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beans and Greens

Last night, I celebrated St. Patty's Day with some friends at Celtic Crossing, a little Irish pub in Midtown. But first, I threw together a quick Soybean Burrito:

I got the idea for Soybean Burritos from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook. I seasoned the soybeans with chili powder, cumin, onion powder, and a little nutritional yeast. They suggested making your own tortillas, but I really didn't have time for all that. After all, green beer was waiting (I gave up beer recently after reading Skinny Bitch, but it was a special occasion).

I piled a whole wheat wrap with beans, Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack vegan cheese, diced tomato, black olives, spring mix, and Wild Oats Mango Peach Salsa. I'd planned on adding avocado as well, but when I cut my avocado open, it was all nasty and black inside. Ew! I was pretty upset about it, but I could barely close the burrito as it was so the avocado situation was probably for the best.

On the side, I steamed some Broccolini:

I love, love, love Broccolini. It's so much more tender than regular broccoli, and I rarely see it in the grocery store. When I do, I always scoop up a bundle. In case you've never tried it, Broccolini is a hybrid of regular broccoli and Chinese chard. It tastes and feels a little like a cross between asparagus and broccoli. I steamed it in my bamboo steamer and seasoned with a little sea salt and black pepper. So simple.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Roll Fever

Only three days until spring!!! And what better way to celebrate than with Asian spring rolls!

Sorry for the poor picture quality. I only took three pics before my batteries died, and this was the best of the three. I used my leftover cabbage from Thursday's Sauteed Cabbage with some frozen silk tofu, shredded carrots, and ginger to stuff my rice paper rolls.

The tofu was a half-pack of silk tofu I'd frozen after using it in a recipe a few weeks ago. I'd never frozen silk tofu before, and I wasn't sure if it'd even be edible when thawed. But it was perfect for this dish. After thawing in the microwave and squeezing out the water, the tofu got all crumbly and shredded-like. I'm going to start freezing all my leftover silk tofu to use in dishes that call for shredded tofu, like BBQ sandwiches.

At the back of the plate is my Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, which was definately the star of the dish. So simple to whip together yet so freakin' tasty. I didn't write everything down or measure all that well, but I'll try to re-create the recipes from memory.

Shredded Tofu Spring Rolls

4 rice paper spring roll sheets
1/2 small head cabbage, shredded
1/2 package of frozen silk tofu, thawed and crumbled
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
Soy sauce

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet. Add onion and cook until soft. Add cabbage, carrot, tofu, and ginger. Saute on medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add a sprinkling of soy sauce to taste. Continue to cook until cabbage is very soft.

Run warm water over rice paper sheets, one at a time, until they soften. Place a large spoonful of filling in the center of a rice paper sheet, and roll up like a burrito.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 Tbsp. crunchy, all-natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp. hoison sauce
1/2 tsp. roasted red chili paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
3 Tbsp. water

Combine and microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until peanut butter is hot and melty. Stir to combine well.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Down on the Farm

I made two recipes from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook tonight.

Creamed Tempeh Over Toast

And Janet's Sauteed Cabbage

I picked up the book while visiting The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee last fall. It's one of the oldest, largest vegan communes in the country ... and it's just a three-hour drive from Memphis!

It was founded in 1971 by Stephen Gaskin, a former professer from San Francisco State University. He and a band of merry hippies traveled from SF across the country in a caravan of school buses, finally settling in Summertown (about an hour south of Nashville).

I did a story on it for The Memphis Flyer, the alt-weekly newspaper that I write for, so the Flyer's vegetarian photographer (Justin) and I got to spend a couple days down there back in August. We stayed with a nice couple named Barbara and Neil. Barbara is a vegan cookbook author ("More Fabulous Beans" and "Soup's On")! She cooked amazing food for us while we were there — BBQ tofu, roasted kombucha squash from her garden, scrambled tofu!

They even make their own tofu and soy yogurt at the Farm. And they sell it in the Nashville Whole Foods. I stock up everytime I go there.

So back to the was originally published in 1975 and it's filled with awesome pictures of hippie women cooking in their communal kitchens (the Farm no longer operates as a commune, but rather an intentional community, but they used to have serious communal housing).

The food I made tonight was great — definately Southern home cookin'. I had to reduce the oil in both recipes as each called for a ton. The creamed tempeh is essentially tempeh with country gravy served over toast. And the cabbage was made special with the addition of nutritional yeast.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I didn't cook dinner tonight because I had a HUGE and AMAZING lunch from a new vegan-friendly restaurant in Memphis (more on that later). So I thought I'd share a mouth-watering pic of the brownies my mom made this weekend:

They're the "Bitchtastic Brownies" from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. She doesn't have the book, but she got the recipe from the latest issue of VegNews (which she bought because my story was published there ... she doesn't normally buy VegNews). Anyway, my mom is great about making vegan desserts and entrees. She's super-supportive and usually even eats vegetarian when we go out.

I went veg at age 14, and of course, she wasn't pleased at first. She had no idea how to cook for a vegetarian. But that was 13 years ago ... now my parents even started buy veggie bacon for themselves (because it's healthier and they learned to like the taste when I was growing up).

So back to the brownies — they were delish! The addition of soft tofu gives these brownies the perfect chewiness factor. Mama didn't use the recommended whole wheat pastry flour though because it was unavailable in her small town. But she picked up a bag in Memphis this weekend, so she's stocked for any future "skinny" brownies.

Oh, and about that restaurant. For you Memphis readers, it's in the old Java, Juice, and Jazz space at 1423 Elvis Presley. I don't think it really has a name yet, but it's like a classic meat-and-three soul food joint. You get a protein and two veggies for $7.99. I had curried tofu, garlic mashed potatoes, and fried cabbage. And for dessert, they make the best (and only) vegan banana pudding I've ever eaten. I got that (and a vegan chocolate chip cookies) to go!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Veggie Ribs and Taters!

Tonight, I spent some time perfecting my Twice-Baked Tater recipe for my cookbook.

The cheese-looking stuff is Follow Your Heart Monterey Jack, but faux Cheddar probably would have been prettier. I only had Jack in the fridge though. I baked the potatoes last night, and then scooped the insides out when I got home from the gym tonight. I mixed in some seasonings, leeks, and garlic. Then I re-stuffed, and topped with vegan cheese. Yum!

Since I wanted to concentrate on measuring things out for the potato recipe, I opted for a quick entree — instant barbecue seitan ribs. My dad bought this stuff as part of my Valentine's basket from Food Fight Grocery. I'd tried them before, and they were just as amazing this time around.

It's just a powder mix (vital gluten flour and some seasonings). Add a little water and glaze with tahini, and then bake for 10 minutes. Then you baste with a cup of barbecue sauce. This sauce is my cookbook recipe for "Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce" — smoky, sweet, and heavy on the vinegar.

Luckily, I've got plenty of potatoes and ribs to last me a few days worth of lunches ... I doubt I'll be posting tomorrow as I'm having a quick bite before meeting some friends at 7 p.m. But I'll be back with tasty pics later this week.

Snow Day

It freakin' SNOWED Friday night, the first snowfall we've seen in the Mid-South all year. That's the kind of crazy weather we have down South ... the temperatures stay in the 50s mostly all winter, and then it decides to snow in March. Crazy!

Everything shuts down around here when it snows, so I stayed in. Plus, I don't have much experience driving on ice. I left work early before things got too bad outside. On the way home, I rented Stardust (cute movie!) and Rent and made a giant bowl of popcorn. After the movie, I decided to bake a chocolate rum pecan pie. After all, what else is there to do when you're stranded inside your house? Besides, I had a huge freezer bag full of pecans from my Uncle Dale's pecan farm.

I call it "Dark Chocolate Tipsy Pecan Pie," and I'm going to use the recipe in my cookbook. So I can't share the recipe here, but it was pretty tasty. Very sweet. The crust was made using whole wheat pastry flour and coconut oil, but I think next time, I'll use non-hydrogenated shortening instead. The crust wasn't as flaky as it should have been.

This morning, I drove to Kroger and bought some Purely Decadant Turtle Trail soy cream (vanilla with a caramel ribbon and chocolate covered praline pecans) to eat with the leftover pie. Oh my god, it so amazingly good that way. My mom also brought me some Bitch-Tastic Brownies that she made from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, and they're heavenly. I've been eating them with the soy cream too.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The (Skinny) Bitch Is Back

Tonight, I made another great recipe from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. The Skinny Bitch Pad Thai is seriously the best pad thai I've ever eaten:

The sauce (a combination of agave, mirin, and some other stuff) really makes this dish pop. It's sweet, yet sour, with a hint of lime tanginess and just a touch of saltiness....heaven. Notice the cute little bean sprouts. I sprouted those myself. I started a cup of dry mung beans in a few Mason jars on Monday night. And by today, they were ready to eat. It made a ton, so I'm up to my ears in sprouts!

Of course, the best part about pad thai are the accoutrements, like chopped roasted peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges.

I've heard some complaints that the Skinny Bitch cookbook is just easy recipes that rely too heavily on processed faux meats. And though the book does call for quite a bit of fake meat products, there's plenty of other dishes, like this one, that do not rely on processed foods.

On the other hand, I LOVE faux meats! There's one breakfast sandwich that calls for fried tofu, faux Canadian bacon, and fake cheese. And I can't wait to try it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm Famous!

Well, not really. But almost famous! Check out the March/April 08 issue of VegNews and look for my byline in the VegEscapes section. Here's what the cover looks like:

I wrote about vegan dining options in Memphis, and believe it or not, there are actually quite a few. Granted, we have no totally vegan restaurants. And that sucks. But many places have a couple of veg menu items. Sometimes you gotta ask to have cheese or mayo left off. Our only real vegetarian restaurant, Square Foods, closed last month due to lack of business...sigh. Unfortunately, I believe Square Foods made it into the VegNews story. By the time I found out it was closing, it would have been past press time.

Anyhow, the story names 10 or so vegan-friendly Memphis dining and entertainment options. To be honest, I haven't even seen an issue. Wild Oats doesn't have the new issue in yet, and though VegNews has assured me that my copy is in the mail, it has yet to arrive. I can't wait to see it laid out with pictures!

For a more complete list of veg dining options in Memphis, go to the Food Awareness (our local vegetarian society) website. There's a link on the left to a mini-restaurant guide I compiled last year. It probably needs to be updated with new restaurants, and a few (like Square Foods) need to be removed. But much of it remains current.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rustic Eats

Tonight, I made "Rustic White Beans with Mushrooms" from the Veganomicon. I'm not sure why these beans are described as "rustic," but today's dish was satisfying in a good old-fashioned comfort food sort of way ... maybe that's why.

Those green things you see are leeks, and this was my first time cooking with them (or even eating them at all, as far as I know). I'd always assumed they'd taste just like a green onion, and though the taste is similar, the Nomicon promised the leeks would make the dish extra creamy. And indeed, these beans were super creamy. So leeks must work some kind of special onion magic.

I prepared the beans in the pressure cooker I got for Christmas. So far, I've had lots of problems with it overcooking vegetables. But it did the beans just right — not too soupy but not too mushy. The cookbook recommended boiling dry white beans for 45 minutes, but it only took 30 in the pressure cooker.

On the side, I had "Tomato Couscous with Capers" (also from the Veganomicon):

It was the dish suggested to accompany the beans in the intro to its recipe. And, other than whole wheat couscous, I already had everything in my pantry to make it. I picked up some couscous at Kroger. Oddly enough, Wild Oats did not have whole grain couscous, only the seminola version. But I found plenty at Kroger.

This dish was also delicious. Since it's spiced with ground cloves and cayenne, it had a bit of an African taste. The beans, however, tasted like downhome Southern cookin'. But somehow the two dishes paired amazingly well together. I'll be having more for leftovers tomorrow!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Raw Food Monday, Again

Hey guys! Today was my second Raw Food Monday! It's a thing I'm doing on the first Monday of each month to cleanse myself of processed nasties.

For breakfast, I made Raw Muesli with Raw Almond Milk, served with green tea and fresh-juiced Apple Carrot Ginger Juice (made in my trusty Jack LaLanne juicer). The muesli and almond milk recipes came from "Raw Food Made Easy" by Jennifer Cornbleet.

The raw almond milk was sooo amazing, by far my favorite part of the day. It was so easy and creamy and delish! Way better than store-bought almond milk, and it's completely raw. I used Cornbleet's recipe. And since I don't have her permission, I'm not going to re-post it here. However, I did a quick Google search and a found a basic recipe for Almond Milk. The measurements are a little different, but it should come out similarly. It's located at the end of this post.

For lunch, I had a salad with baby spinach, spring mix, red pepper, black olives, carrots, green onion, and pecans. I made the Classic Vinaigrette from Cornbleet's book as a salad dressing.

For dinner, it was Zucchini Fettucine with Ailoli Sauce from "Alive in 5" by Angela Elliot. It was actually supposed to be Zucchini Spaghetti, but I don't have a spiral slicer. I used a veggie peeler to peel thin flat layers of raw zucchini. The sauce was a combo of olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice. Yum!

Finally, for dessert, I made the Chocolate Banana Shake from Cornbleet's book. It made use of the extra almond milk, but it turned out more like a mousse. Too thick for a straw, so I served it in a martini glass. It made me feel classy while I curled up in my PJs and stuffed my face with dessert over Will and Grace re-runs.

The best part — I have leftover almond milk for my non-raw Banana Flax Almond Green Tea cereal in the morning! Here's the recipe:

All-Natural Almond Milk

1 1/2 cups of raw almonds, soaked in water overnight
4 cups of filtered or spring water
3-5 dates (optional)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Blend 1 ½ cups of raw almonds that have been soaked overnight in 4 cups of water. Blend with dates if you like your milk with a hint of sweetness. Strain once with cheesecloth to remove almond granules. It can be stored safely for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mellow Mushroom

I spent this past weekend in Nashville with my boyfriend Paul. On Saturday night, we dined at Mellow Mushroom before going out to B.B. King's and Play (one of Nashville's gay clubs).

Though Mellow Mushroom specializes in pizza, I couldn't resist the Tempeh Hoagie:

It's marinated teriyaki tempeh with tomato, lettuce, mushrooms, and red onions on a wheat bun. Normally, it also comes with feta cheese and mayo, but I requested that stuff be left off. It was supposed to have sprouts too, but for some reason, they were mysteriously missing. But it was still so delicious!

Mellow Mushroom is a chain of hippie-themed pizza joints, and not only do they serve yummy tempeh hoagies, they also have tempeh and tofu as pizza toppings! That's exciting when you live in a very non-vegan friendly town like Memphis. Next time, I'm going to order a cheeseless tofu pizza.