Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gettin' Meaty With It

I'm pretty sure I wasn't crazy about meatloaf as a kid. I don't recall my mom making it that often, and when she did, I don't remember being very excited about it. But vegan meatloaf is one of my favorite meals. Maybe because it's totally meat-free. And possibly because I've grown to love ketchup even though I didn't love it growing up.

I've tried several veggie loafs and lentil loafs and other such hippie alternatives. And every single recipe is a little different. The July recipe in Sarah Kramer's 2011 Go Vegan wall calendar is no exception. The loaf is named Emily's Mock "Meat" Loaf in honor of Emily the Cow, who escaped a slaughterhouse and now lives in a rescue facility:

As you can see, the texture is pretty creamy. Most mock loafs have a firmer texture, but the addition of a cup of melty Daiya vegan cheese makes this loaf melt in your mouth. That cheese is combined with veggie burger crumbles (I used Boca), walnuts, carrots, celery, onion, and plenty of herbs and spices. Then it's all topped with ketchup. I'd have never thought to add cheese to a meatloaf, but the addition was genius. You can also find the recipe here and in La Dolce Vegan.

It'd be un-American to serve meatloaf without a side of mashed taters and gravy. Plus, I roasted some fresh okra from the Memphis Farmers Market:

Click here for my easy roasted okra recipe. As for the "beef" gravy, I combined 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour with 2 cups of water, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a teaspoon of Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce. This stuff is totally vegan, and according to Wikipedia, folks have been using it to brown their gravy since 1879!

How do you like your mock meatloaf?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vegan Yorkshire Pudding ... Sort Of

This must be cook-from-different-cultures week. Jewish Matzoh Brie for breakfast, Indian Curry for dinner last night, and now English Yorkshire Pudding tonight. Now, I've never had Yorkshire Pudding, and until I Wikipedia-ed it, so I had no idea what it was. I really thought it'd be like our American pudding — ultra-creamy and sort of gravy-like.

But the magic of the internet revealed something very different, something more like a bread or biscuit. When I first blogged about my new European vegan cookbook, Vegan Rustic Cooking by Diana White, my friend John P asked me to try the Yorkshire Pudding with Vegan Sausage. So I did. But mine didn't come out looking at all like the pictures I saw on the internet:

Mine looks and tastes more like a muffin with little chunks of cooked Gimme Lean sausage. Yummy, but probably not the texture it's supposed to be. But since I didn't know any better, I enjoyed my sausage muffins.

As the book suggests, I served some Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Parsnips on the side:

And I added a serving of sweet potatoes after I snapped the picture because I'm a hungry girl.

Has anyone tried Yorkshire pudding? What are the taste and texture supposed to be like?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Indian Without the Effort

I just love Indian food. Hell, I went vegetarian in 1994 after my first exposure to Hindu culture and Indian food. But I rarely ever make it at home. So many spices, so much effort. But a local Germantown woman, Sharon Fernandes, has taken the hard work out of Indian cooking with her new line of Indian meal starters, Stonehouse 27.

My editor Susan Ellis wrote a great article in our paper, the Memphis Flyer, about Fernandes' line. You can read that here. Plus, Susan sent me home with a jar of Stonehouse 27 Cilantro & Coconut Sauce to try for myself.

Four of the six flavors are vegan, and all are made with agave nectar rather than refined sugar. They're gluten-free, low-sodium, and all-natural. And even though Fernandes lives in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis, her sauces are now available in 1,400 stores in six states. In Memphis, it's sold at Whole Foods, Miss Cordelia's, and Fresh Market.

I decided to try my Cilantro & Coconut Sauce mixed with Fried Tofu, Cauliflower, and English Peas:

The jar is labeled "mild," and it's not lying. I like a lot of spice in my Indian food (well, in my every food), so I quickly beefed this up with a generous amount of crushed red pepper and sriracha. The low-sodium part also wasn't lying. But that was easily remedied with a couple of teaspoons of sea salt.

Once the sauce was seasoned to my liking, it was quite delicious. Mixed with the tofu and veggies, it tasted as though I'd been simmering my own sauce for hours. It's no wonder considering the ingredients — real onions, tomatoes, and cilantro, coconut milk, GMO-free canola oil, green chilies, ginger, and Fernandes' secret blend of 27 spices (hence the name).

Would I buy it? Probably, if I felt like splurging. It rings up at $5.49 a jar, which is a bit out of my price range for one item. The price would be better off at, say, $3.99. I could deal with that. But I am itching to try the other vegan flavors — Tamarind & Garlic, Tomato & Chilies, and, Dates & Tamarind — so I may have to shell out the big bucks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm Not Jewish, But ...

... sometimes I wish I was! Not so much for the religious stuff because I'm not really into religious stuff. But I love all the traditional foods and fun Yiddish words like "fahklumpt" and "mazel tov." One of the reasons I love Isa Chandra Moskowitz's books so much are for all the veganized, traditional Jewish recipes. I adore her Matzoh Ball Soup from Vegan with a Vengeance, and one of these days, I'll get around to trying her knishes. I even shop at Memphis' "kosher Kroger" and find awesome, accidentally vegan foods there all the time.

This week for breakfast, I've been enjoying Isa's Matzoh Brie from Vegan Brunch:

I'll admit, it's not pretty. What you have here are soaked, broken pieces of whole wheat matzo (the burned edges were already on the crackers, by the way) fried in oil with onion and blended, soft tofu. The tofu coats the matzoh, just like fried eggs do in the traditional recipe.

Matzoh brie (or matzoh brei, as it's often spelled), matzoh fried with eggs, is commonly eaten for breakfast during Passover when Jews can't eat unleavened bread. However, according to Wikipedia, some Jewish traditions aren't down with matzoh that's been soaked in water, so not everyone is allowed to eat this.

Since I've never had the eggy version, I didn't really have any way to compare this. But it's tasty. Not so sure it'll go into heavy breakfast rotation. But I'll probably make it again one day. Isa suggested serving the matzoh brie with dill, so I did. But I see other recipes online suggesting people eat it with preserves or syrup. I may give that a try tomorrow.

By the way, I know it's not Passover, but if it were, I guess that whole grain toast with zucchini marmalade on my plate would have totally undone all the good I was doing by eating unleavened matzoh. Oops!

What are your favorite, traditional Jewish foods?

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Orleans Eats, Part 2

First things first — the winner of the Zukay Kvass giveaway is Lynn from Scissors and Spice!! Yea! She commented early (#4), but chose her out of 37 comments. Congrats!

As I mentioned in last night's post, I found plenty to eat in New Orleans during my Association of Alternative Newsweeklies conference. See last night's post for more everyday eats. On Saturday night (the last night of the convention), we were treated to a cocktail reception at the Museum of the American Cocktail inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum:

The museum was super-cool. Full of exhibits showcasing classic Southern food, like Domino Sugar and New Orleans King Cakes. The food spread included plenty of roasted veggies, olives, and saltine crackers:

We were served classic cocktails, like Pimm's Cup, a London-based drink made from Pimm's No. 1, lemon-lime soda, fresh fruit, and fresh cucumber. These were served all over New Orleans, and they were delicious. I drank my fill of Pimm's Cups while I was there:

The Lemon-Gin cocktails were so refreshing! These were made with Beefeater Gin and lemon mix:

But the Sazerac, an old-school N'awlins cocktail made from cognac and bitters, was super-hardcore. Like drinking straight alcohol! Luckily, the sample size was quite small:

After the cocktail party, my editor Susan and marketing guy Matt were famished. We headed for the nearest vegan-friendly eatery, Rock-n-Sake:

Susan and I split the Tofu Steak appetizer and the Fried Vegetable Udon Noodles:

And of course, we ordered the Vegetable Sushi Roll, which was packed with cucumber, avocado, and carrot:

Danzig was playing over the very loud loudspeakers at Rock-n-Sake when we walked in, but the music devolved into a random mix of 90s pop. Fun place!

Well, that's it for my New Orleans eats. I had a quick Everything Bagel from PJ's Coffee before we left town Sunday morning. I'll miss NOLA, but I'm glad to be back in Memphis.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Orleans Eats, Part 1

I spent the last several days in New Orleans for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies conference. In real life, I write for the Memphis Flyer, the city's free alt-weekly, and our paper belongs to AAN along with about 130 other free weeklies from across the country. Folks from papers like the Nashville Scene, Mountain Xpress, Portland Mercury, and Washington City Paper gathered in NOLA for several days of news and design workshops.

Of course, I found plenty to eat ... so much that I'm splitting my photos into two posts. When my editors Bruce and Susan (also a vegetarian) arrived on Thursday afternoon, we were starving. The easiest option was lunch in the hotel restaurant. It was a fancy joint inside the equally fancy Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Canal in the French Quarter. No vegan options on the menu, but there was a chicken salad with quinoa, chickpeas, kidney beans, and seasonal greens. So I asked for the chicken salad with no chicken:

For dinner on Thursday, Susan and I wandered around the corner to one of my fave New Orleans restaurants — the Country Flame. It's a hole-in-the-wall Cuban place with Fried Plantain and Yuca Vegetarian Fajitas. I ordered my usual fried yuca (my parents and I always eat here when we're in town):

And Susan ordered the fried plantains. Then we shared:

Afterward, we hit up Bourbon Street for Mango Daiquiris:

On Friday, I ate leftover fajitas in the room for breakfast. We only had a quick 30-minute break between workshops for lunch. So we went to the closet place to the hotel — the China Wall, a sort of forgettable fast food Chinese place. I got the Vegetable Fried Rice, which despite its lack of vegetables (except for three pieces of broccoli), was actually pretty tasty ... mainly because it was salty and greasy. You cannot go wrong with salty and greasy:

On Friday night, I grabbed a Subway Veggie Delite before heading out to the Republic for the AAN-sponsored burlesque show open-bar party.

On Saturday morning, Susan and I trekked over to Nosh on Dauphine Street. They have portabella sliders during lunch and dinner, but breakfast was the typical egg and meat affair. I did score some spicy Hash Browns and Plain Grits:

For lunch, we went to the Green Goddess in Exchange Alley. My VegOut app showed this place to be the nearest veg-friendly restaurant to our hotel:

This tiny cafe was so adorable inside. There were only a few tables, so it had an intimate vibe. Plus, they had an iced tea of the day and a "tea sommelier"! Susan ordered a vegetarian Cuban sandwich made with collard greens. I opted for the Indian Pancake with Coconut Cabbage Slaw and Tamarind Sauce:

The pancake wasn't quite enough food for me, but it kept me full enough for a few hours. I knew we wouldn't be eating dinner on Saturday until after 7 p.m., so I snacked on this cute ready-to-eat meal that I'd brought from home. I found this St. Dalfour Whole Grain & Bean Salad at Whole Foods. It came with a tasty pineapple juice and oil sauce and the tiny fork!

I have a ton of photos from Saturday night's cocktail party and dinner. So I'll stop here and share those tomorrow night.

Tomorrow is the last day for my Zukay giveaway! Click here for more info.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cherry Bomb!

Having a blog has its perks ... like two big ol' bags of free cherries from Whole Foods to use however I see fit. The Memphis store (5022 Poplar) is hosting a Cherry Fest on Saturday, July 23rd from 1 to 3 p.m., and they're hoping to spread the word about cherry season. Cherry Fest features a cooking demo by Sri Srinivsan and lots of recipes and samples of cherry-centric foods.

The marketing department asked me to cook up some fun cherry-based dessert for my blog and share the recipe. I didn't want to do a pie because that route seemed too obvious, but honestly, I've rarely worked with fresh cherries. I don't own a cherry pitter, and I assumed pitting by hand would be a pain.

But not so. I pitted three cups worth in less than 15 minutes for this Cherry Pudding Cake:

Since I wasn't familiar with many fresh cherry recipes, I googled and stumbled upon this recipe from It was easily veganized, and it sounded pretty yummy. It's a cakey cobbler dessert made from fresh cherries dropped into a thick vanilla cake batter. The cake cooks around the cherries, and the fruit gets all melty and awesome.

Here's a slice before my co-workers gobbled it up:

And here's the recipe, adapted from

Cherry Pudding Cake
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup evaporated cane juice
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup soymilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups pitted red cherries
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a bowl, stir together the flour, 1 cup of evaporated cane juice, baking powder, soymilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla to make a smooth batter; scrape batter into the prepared baking dish.

In a separate bowl, stir the cherries with the other 3/4 cup of evaporated cane juice and the almond extract; spoon the cherry mixture over the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Don't forget to enter my Zukay Ginger-Beet Kvass giveaway here. And I'll see y'all again on Sunday night (or maybe even Monday). I'm headed to New Orleans for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies conference for work.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Peanut Butter and Beets

Not together, silly! That would be disgusting. I had peanut butter for breakfast in the form of Peanut Butter Waffles from Vegan Brunch:

I've had my eye on these since I bought the book forever ago, but for some reason, it's taken me an age to make them. The batter is made with 3/4 cup of chunky PB, so every bite has a little peanut crunch surprise. The maple syrup on top really takes these over the edge of awesomeness.

Now, for the beets. Remember my Zukay Kvass review a few weeks back? If not, click the link to read all about Zukay's new fermented vegetable drink. It's good if you're into fizzy kombucha-like drinks, and I am.

Zukay wants to give away a six-pack of their Ginger Beet Kvass to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment here on your favorite way to eat beets. Link to the contest on Facebook and leave a separate comment letting me know you did. Ditto for Twitter. That's a total of three comment entries per reader. Be sure and leave your email in your comment if yours isn't listed on Blogger. I'll randomly choose one comment next Tuesday night.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Falafel Girl!

Remember Party Girl with Parker Posey? That was the first time I'd heard of falafel. Nobody was serving falafel or hummus or anything remotely Middle Eastern in my small Arkansas hometown in 1995. But Parker Posey had a crush on her neighborhood falafel vendor and that was enough to convince a 14-year-old, newly-vegetarian, tiny punk rock Bianca that falafel must be delicious.

I didn't get a chance to try the fried chickpea patties until years later ... maybe not even until I moved to Memphis in 2002. But now I'm a little sad I missed out all those years. We have this fabulous place in Memphis called Pita Wraps, and they stuff the BEST falafel in the world into giant pitas, along with hummus and all the fixins.

I've got no problem with the occasional fried food, but since I've been pigging out on all sorts of junk lately, I figured it was high time I try the Baked Falafel from Appetite for Reduction:

Yep, that's a tiny baked falafel ball hiding out in my pita. And it was pretty damn good for health food. Was it as satisfying as a fried falafel ball? Not quite. But the guilt-free feeling more than made up for the lack of a greasy bite.

I also made a batch of Isa'a Horseradish-Dill Hummus from Appetite for Reduction to spread inside the pita. It's tahini-free, which means far less calories and fat than regular hummus. To tell you the truth, I didn't even miss the taste of the tahini. But I know tahini is super-good for you, so I did feel a little like I was cheating myself in the nutrition department by leaving it out.

That white sauce is a homemade tzatziki sauce: 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt, one grated cucumber, one minced garlic clove, and lots of dried dill and black pepper. Can you guess what the red stuff is? Yep, sriracha!! Of course.

On the side, I made some of my Summer Tomato Salad:

I talked about this in my Jazzy Vegetarian Radio interview last week, and you can find the super-simple recipe here. It's juicy summer tomatoes, green peppers, Vidalia onion, and cucumber marinated in olive oil and vinegar. Yum!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rockin' Ramen

As you probably already know, I'm obsessed with ramen. Sitting down to a steamy bowl of noodles is a near-religious experience for me. I like the instant packages, but nothing beats a bowl of noodles with a lovingly-prepared, homemade broth.

So naturally, I freaked out when I saw the "Rockin' Ramen" feature by Melissa Feineman in the June issue of VegNews. The feature offers a recipe for homemade Veggie Ramen Stock, Shoyu Sauce, Sesame Ginger Seitan, and two types of ramen — Classic Shoyu Ramen and Comforting Miso Ramen.

I plan to try both types, but I opted to start with the Classic Shoyu Ramen:

The broth is combination of homemade stock (made from carrots, celery, kombu, and shitake mushrooms) and shoyu sauce (a ginger-garlic infused sesame soy sauce). I used plain ramen noodles from the Asian market, and I added the sesame seitan and extra dried shitakes for fun. The bowl is topped with nori and green onion.

I literally made myself sick on this stuff! It was so good that I ate way more than I should have, and then I was so full, I had to lay down for awhile. Tomorrow, when I eat the leftovers, I'll try a little better to stop when I'm full. But I'm not making any promises.

In the past when I've posted about ramen, I've had a few comments from people wondering where they can find vegan instant ramen. Try your local Asian market, if you've got one. The place by my house has hundreds of ramen flavors, and I'd say, nearly one-third are vegan. Many are artificial beef or artificial chicken, and some have lower-cal rice noodles over the traditional fried ramen. But if you can find plain noodles, try making your own broth free of MSG and other additives.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Crunk Teaser!

It's been awhile since I've made anything from my own cookbook. Any readers who were around last year might remember that nearly every post featured something from my cookbook. That's when I was busy testing recipes. Now that we're in the editing phase, I've been taking a break from my own stuff.

But green tomatoes are in season! And I have been craving a Fried Green Tomato & Tofu Sandwich! So I made one of the recipes in my upcoming Southern vegan cookbook (due in January ... yes, I know I've said it a million times ... but I'm slamelessly plugging wherever I can):

That's a big ole sandwich with two cornbread-coated fried green tomatoes, two slabs of marinated smoky tofu, and a yummy Dijon-mayo sauce. I used Miso Mayo this time because I LOVE that stuff!

On the side, I made a helpin' of my Southwestern Corn Salad:

This balsamic corn/pepper/olive salad is also in the book. I'm not sure how Southwestern it is, but sometimes, in the South, we like to give foods names from other places. My Granny invented this salad for a Thanksgiving a few years back.

Speaking of my cookbook, I was actually interviewed yesterday on "The Jazzy Vegetarian" radio! Host Laura Theodore talked to me about the book, my blog, my day job as a newspaper reporter, and eating out as a vegan. I even shared my recipe for Summer Tomato Salad, which you can also find here.

Laura also interviewed Rob Ventre on the show. He's the vegan men's crossfit champion and gold medalist in the IKFF/IKSFA New York Open Kettlebell Championship! My interview is about 10 minutes into the show. Listen here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shirataki Alfredo! And a New Look!

So what do you think about the new look? My blog has had the same damn design since, oh, 2008. I've been meaning to re-design forever, but I hate working in PhotoShop. So I just kept putting off designing a new blog header. I finally got my ass in gear this week and used a photo of my BBQ Tempeh & Carrot Sandwich (from my cookbook, due out in January) for a new banner. Tonight, I played with colors and fonts. I think I'm finally happy with it. Let me know if there's any issues with reading the links or font colors. I can always make adjustments.

Now on to the food. I don't have the Food Network, but I sometimes watch it at my parents' house. When I visited them a few weeks ago, my mom had recorded an episode of the Hungry Girl show, in which she made a quick microwave version of fettucine alfredo with tofu shirataki noodles. Her version wasn't vegan, of course, but it was a great concept.

If you've never had tofu shirataki noodles, you're totally missing out. They're so low-cal, it hurts. One package of two servings only has 40 CALORIES! Yet two servings equals well over one cup of pasta. I never eat a single serving of this stuff because it's so light. Granted, the noodles, which come water-packed, are pretty smelly when you first crack open a package. But rinsing and heating takes the smell away. They taste NOTHING like they smell.

Hungry Girl's recipe is actually printed on the back of the House Tofu brand shirataki noodles. But rather than veganize her version, I took an even easier route. I used Lindsay Nixon's Fettucine Alfredo Sauce from the Happy Herbivore cookbook:

Her low-cal sauce is made from silk tofu, soymilk, and nutritional yeast. And I added peas and parsley for good measure. This bowl was only 200 calories, and I really piled on the sauce.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Baby Peter's 1st Vegan Birthday!

So I'm really not all that crazy about babies ... unless they're VEGAN BABIES! When my friend Stephanie (Poopie Bitch on the PPK) got preggo last year, she promised me that her baby wouldn't be lame. And she was right! Peter's not so bad for a baby. And he's been vegan all of his little life. We celebrated Peter's 1st birthday on Saturday at Steph and Richard's new house. First, Peter and his little friends went swimming in the backyard:

The best part of a party at Stephanie's house is the amazing vegan spread. If you've ever seen her old blog or her posts on the PPK, you know this woman can seriously cook. She made a Middle Eastern spread fit for king — Spanakopita from Vegan with a Vengeance, Israeli Couscous Salad, Dolmas, Hummus, Falafel, and the WORLD'S BEST Baba Ganoush. Oh, and she even made homemade Mint Lemonade and served it in cups with our names written in Sharpie:

But it wouldn't be a first birthday party without cake, right? Stephanie used to run a little special occasion cake business, and her baked treats are always out of this world. For Peter's special day, Stephanie made the Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cupcakes from Vegan with a Vengeance:

And of course, Peter got to eat his cake first. While most babies just dig their hands in and make a huge mess, Peter knew the proper way to eat a cupcake — icing first!

Happy Birthday, Peter!!

Now, because I'm sure she won't care, I'm gonna share Stephanie's secret recipe for Baba Ganoush. She posted it on Facebook, so I figure it's fair game, right?

Poopie Bitch's Best-Ever Baba Ganoush
2 1-pound eggplants, halved lengthwise
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup tahini
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously oil rimmed baking sheet. Place eggplant halves, cut side down, on sheet. Roast until eggplant is very soft, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Using spoon, scoop out pulp from eggplant into strainer set over bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, allowing excess liquid to drain from eggplant.

Transfer eggplant pulp to processor. Add 1/4 cup oil, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic; process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl, cover and chill. Serve chilled or bring to room temperature before serving.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Kitschy Canadian!

I'd like to send a giant thank you shout-out to Mabel Jenkins! Mabel was the 1950s housewife in Canada responsible for inventing the now-popular Canadian dessert — Nanaimo Bars! These mouth-watering sweet, creamy bars are made with a layer of graham cracker/walnut/coconut crust topped with a buttercream frosting followed by a layer of melted chocolate:

Did you just die a little from happiness on the inside? Well, I did when I bit into one of these last week. I got the recipe from the June page of Canadian kitsch queen Sarah Kramer's 2011 Go Vegan Wall Calendar. I usually always make the recipe of the month during that month, but June was so busy. So I waited until July to try these. Now I can't believe I waited so long! I may have a new fave dessert.

Ms. Mabel came up with this recipe to submit to the annual Ladysmith and Cowichan Women's Institute Cookbook. Her home in Ladysmith was just south of the city of Nanaimo, hence the bars' name. Who knows whatever happened that legendary home cook? But her bars will live on forever.

Apparently, they're pretty popular with the Canadians. And now they'll be pretty popular in my kitchen too. I shared these with co-workers and they were very quickly gobbled up.

If you don't have the Go Vegan Wall Calendar, never fear. You can also find the recipe in Kramer's Vegan A Go-Go or watch the video on Everyday Dish TV!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Take Me Out to the Vegan Ballgame

I almost forgot to post this! But last week, our local ballpark hosted a vegetarian night for members of Food Awareness, our local vegetarian society. AutoZone Park, where our minor league team the Memphis Redbirds play, makes PETA's top ten list of veg-friendly ballparks every year. They were #6 in 2011.

They gave us a buffet of all-you-can-eat black bean burgers, veggie dogs, coleslaw, pasta salad, and watermelon. Here's my plate — a black bean burger, Brim's BBQ chips, and spicy slaw:

Food Awareness member Max checks out the watermelon:

After we stuffed our faces, we moved over to watch the game. Here's Shay, Amy, Kim, Nick, and John:

Overall, we had a fabulous night! And how cool that AutoZone Park offered us a veggie buffet! It was totally their idea, but we had about 20 members show up for the fun. And the black bean burgers were out of this world. They were homemade! They offer those all at every game at certain concession stands, as well as veggie dogs, a baked potato bar with veg options, veggie sausage, and fruit.

How are the veg options at your local ballpark?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rustic Tater Salad

Back in November, my mom picked me up a copy of Vegan Rustic Cooking: Through the Seasons at the gift shop inside the Rainbow Co-op in Jackson, Mississippi. We were driving home from New Orleans and we'd stopped there for vegan lunch at High Noon Cafe. When she saw this book, she asked if I'd ever heard of it. I hadn't. I thought I knew about almost every vegan cookbook (because I'm a huge cookbook nerd!), but this one passed my radar.

That may be because Diane White's seasonal vegan cookbook was published in the U.K. It's filled with traditional European recipes, like Cottage Pie, Baked Courgettes (that's zucchini in America), Yorkshire Pudding, and Bubble and Squeak. Thankfully, the measurements are in both metric and American equivalents, so I can understand the recipes.

I'm finally cracking the book open. I'm not sure why, but the first thing I made with this Potato & Chickpea Salad:

It's boiled new potatoes (from the downtown farmer's market) topped with chickpeas, radishes, snow peas, carrots, and plain soy yogurt. Weird, right? But delightfully refreshing and tasty. I'm not sure if this is a traditional European salad. There are a few more non-traditional recipes in the book, so it might not be. But it was very different from anything I've ever made.

The cool, creamy yogurt was a great topping for the lightly salted and peppered taters, and I loved the crunch of the radishes and snow peas. I served the salad with crusty garlic bread, as suggested in the book.

What's your favorite (or should I say, "favourite" with a "u") European recipe? I know I have some European blogger friends out there! What do you love to make?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Vegan Cuban

Full disclosure: My only exposure to Cuban food has been at the Mexican/Cuban/Spanish restaurant Country Flame in New Orleans. I've been there twice, so you can see I'm a bit of a novice. But I do follow foodie news, and I know Cuban sandwiches were all the rage a few years back.

Having never had a traditional, meaty Cuban, I wasn't sure what to expect from the Cubano Sandwich from Terry Hope Romero's Viva Vegan. But you can't go wrong with homemade steamed seitan, vegan ham, vegan cheese, sweet pickles, mustard, and Earth Balance on French bread:

I didn't have a sandwich press, so I stacked another pan on top of the sandwich while it was in the cast iron skillet. And then I stacked a giant can of tomato juice on top of that. The result was a crispy, pressed sandwich loaded with protein and cheeze. That's right up my vegan alley!

By the way, Romero suggests her steamed seitan recipe as the base for many of her dishes, and I highly recommend it. It may be the best (and easiest) seitan recipe ever!

What do you do when a recipe calls for seitan? Do you buy pre-made seitan or make your own? What's your favorite seitan-makin' method?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grill Out

In my personal ranking of holiday importance, the Fourth of July falls pretty far down my list. Patriotism just seems a little too imperialistic to me. But there are two things about the Fourth that I absolutely adore — fireworks and grillin' out.

Nothing says summer like a hot, sweaty night spent outdoors drinkin' beer and grillin' tofu. We did that last night, right before lighting off fireworks in a nearby abandoned parking lot. Technically, lighting fireworks is illegal inside city limits, but we don't care about silly laws like that. Nothing says "let's celebrate freedom" like breaking the law, right?

Greg started off our rebellious Independence Day celebration by basting some tofu and veggie kabobs:

Here they are on the cheap-o grills we bought at the dollar store. Mine was only $5 and Greg's bigger version was $10. Score! They're cheap, but we only grill a few times a year and these are reusable. My boyfriend Paul also bought his own small, cheap grill so he could keep his meat far from Greg and my vegan food.

I also grilled some Tofurky Beer Brats that I marinated in Ghost River Pale Ale. As you can see, they're pretty well-done. I like my grilled food a little burnt, especially hot dogs:

Here I am with plate #1. I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in tofu veggie kabobs, but thankfully, I only had room for one Tofurky dog:

My friend Leslie was there too with her daughter Toya (the tiny one) and my friend April's kids, CJ and Paige.

And of course, my boyfriend Paul was there, but his eyes were pretty much closed in all the pictures. After dinner, we wore some awesome 3D rainbow glasses, courtesy of my friend Mike, for the fireworks show. The 3D effect made for a pretty trippy light show. I doubt I'll ever watch fireworks again without 3D glasses.