Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's Word is "Quiescence"

I learned a new word at breakfast today, thanks to the creative title of Bryant Terry's steel cut oats recipe in Vegan Soul KitchenBrown Steel (Cut Oats) In the Hour of Quiescence:

"Quiescense" refers to a state of being quiet, still, or at rest. It's more commonly used in its adjectival form — quiescent. These creamy oats — cooked in almond milk and topped with maple syrup, raisins, and toasted pecans — certainly offered a relaxing start to my Monday morning.

In Vegan Soul Kitchen, Terry offers soundtrack or movie suggestions for each dish. For this one, he recommends "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" by Public Enemy (see where he gets the cute name for the recipe).

Though I love me some Public Enemy, I prefer to listen to my politically-charged rap in the afternoon rather than at the crack of dawn. So no Chuck D for me this morning ... just a comforting bowl of quiescent oats.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

NashVegan Potluck

In July, while camping at Veganstock in Asheville, North Carolina, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow PPK-er and Tennessean JohnP. He lives in Nashville most of the time but also has a house in Asheville. Since our homes in Memphis are only three hours away from Nashville, John invited Stephanie (Poopie Bitch) and I to the NashVegan Picnic Potluck in Dragon Park this past weekend.

I wanted to bring something savory and something sweet, so I settled on the Quinoa Tabbouleh (with added chickpeas) from The Vegan Table:

And the Mini Jelly Donuts from Vegan Yum Yum's donut recipes in the new Vegetarian Times:

The quinoa was tasty, but the raspberry jam-filled donuts were absolutely amazing eaten straight out of the deep fryer. I had to make them on Thursday night for Saturday's potluck, so they weren't quite as fresh when everyone else got to try them. But all 20 or so donuts were gone by the end of the potluck, so they must not have been too stale.

About 10 awesome vegans showed up, all bearing more food than any of us could finish off. Here's my first plate:

The sandwich was JohnP's contribution — a "chicken"-fried tofu sandwich with gravy spread. So, so delicious! Steph brought the Pineapple Beet Salad from the Veganomicon, a recipe I'd never even noticed before. It was really tasty. I heart beets!

On the far side of the plate, there's a schmear of raw pimento "cheddar" nut cheeze that JohnP purchased at the Nashville Whole Foods. A local woman makes and markets several flavors of raw nut cheezes in Nashville and it was so amazing. I wanted to buy some to bring back, but a package of it was priced at $13! Too steep for my broke ass.

After the main courses, we pigged out on dessert. Besides my donuts, there were JohnP's delicious Red Velvet Cupcakes (the icing melted a little in the hot sun) from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:

Theresa brought the Lemon Bars from Veganomicon:

These were amazingly lemony! They get their jelliness from agar-agar.

And Annie brought some super-moist East Coast Coffee Cake from Vegan Brunch:

By the time I finished my dessert plate, I was miserably stuffed ... like on a ridiculous Thanksgiving level.

The park where the potluck was held is actually called Fannie Mae Dees Park, but it's nicknamed Dragon Park. See why....

Thursday, August 27, 2009


No Dirty South cookbook would be complete without a jambalaya recipe. I'd been planning an eggplant jambalaya recipe in my head for ages, but I finally got around to bringing that idea to fruition this week. Bam! I bring you Eggplant and Creole Sausage Jambalaya:

Sauteed eggplant (sans the skin, but you can leave it on if you're into that sort of thing) meets spicy creole-flavored steamed sausages, brown rice, fresh veggies, tomatoes, and plenty of heat. The sausages were inspired by the Julie Hasson method of steaming sausages, but I came up with my own New Orleans-inspired flavor combo. They're also a little softer than the Julie sausages, which is nice since these are sliced and pan-fried.

I served my jambalaya with Roasted Okra Pods:

I have to think Erin of Vegan Homemade for introducing me to this technique of roasting whole okra brushed with a little olive oil and salt. I've always fried it or boiled it in soups and stews. But this preparation was equally delicious. Thanks Erin! Oh, and thanks Melinda (my co-worker) for gifting me with fresh okra from her garden.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saved the Best for Last

Back in June (god, is it already almost September?!), the awesome folks at Bountiful Vegan sent me a sample package of their gigantic vegan Intention Cookies. Not only are these cookies delicious, they're also said to possess a little mojo magic. Each cookie is supposed to bring about positive qualities — love, prosperity, harmony, and well-being — as you eat it.

Over the last couple months, I tried the Love (Chocolate Chip Orange), the Prosperity (Chocolate Choco Chip), and the Harmony (Lemon Snickerdoodle). But today, I finally dug into the best cookie of all — the Well-Being Coconut Pineapple Cookie!

For some reason, I'd imagined that this would be my least favorite. I typically always choose chocolate over fruit flavors. But in this case, choosing chocolate first was just the crazy wrong thing to do. The Well-Being cookie's pineapple flavor is pretty mild. In fact, I didn't really taste it. But the coconut flavor is out-of-this-world. It lends a very buttery taste to the cookies that tastes so naughty, and so, so good!

My only complaint — the cookies don't list any nutritional information. While that's kind of a good thing (it's hard to feel guilty when you have no idea how many calories you're consuming), I might practice a little more restraint if I knew. They do, however, list the all-natural, whole food ingredients that go into the cookies.

Wanna try the cookies for yourself? The folks at Bountiful Vegan are holding a sample pack giveaway contest on their site. You still have time to enter, as the winner will be announced on September 15th.

Hey testers! There's a new recipe posted on the tester site. Check it out....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Enchiladas for Breakfast?

It's never too early in the day for Mexican food. But it can be a tad too early for spicy habanero pepper salsa. I learned that the hard way with Monday's breakfast — Black Bean Tofu Scramble Enchiladas:

This is another cookbook recipe, though it's not totally Southern. Maybe kinda Tex-Mex-ish. Anyhow, it's one of my favorite breakfasts. I typically use a mild salsa, but on Monday, I accidentally used the super spicy salsa thinking it was roasted tomato salsa. They were the same color!

On Tuesday morning, I made sure to use the mild version and my sensitive morning tummy was much, much happier. Basically, these corn tortillas are stuffed with a Mexican-flavored black bean tofu scramble and Follow Your Heart Nacho cheeze, then topped with salsa and more cheeze.

I make my scramble and grate my cheeze the night before. In the morning, I simply stuff the tortillas and bake to heat (sometimes the FYH cheeze on top melts, sometimes it doesn't ... but the inside cheeze always gets nice and gooey).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Soup

I've never really understood the whole soup-as-winter-food thing. A light and fresh veggie soup is best enjoyed when all the ingredients are in season — like, um, now. Nearly every ingredient in my Summer's Bounty Veggie Soup came from the Memphis Farmers Market:

Whole, fresh tomatoes were cooked down to make the base, and then I added summer squash, okra, potatoes, onions, corn, carrots, celery, and purple hull peas (that I shelled with my very own hands). I even made the broth from scratch by cooking down odds and ends of veggie scraps.

The full recipe is going in my cookbook, but this is a meal I only recommend for summer or early fall. It just wouldn't taste the same with yucky old winter tomatoes and crappy canned corn.

On the side, I baked a loaf of my Whole Wheat Beer Bread:

I'd intended on purchasing a crusty whole wheat baguette to dip into my soup. But I couldn't find a purely whole wheat loaf without driving all the way out to Whole Foods. I had a few extra beers in the fridge and figured a beer loaf would be the quickest route to carb heaven.

I've posted the beer bread recipe before, but I've made a few changes since then. Here's the revised version.

Whole Wheat Beer Bread

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice (or white sugar if you please)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

12 ounces of tasty vegan beer (I used New Belgium black English ale, but PBR will work too!)

1 Tbsp. soy margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. Add beer. Stir to combine. Pour into a lightly greased loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes, and then brush margarine over the top. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Farmers Market ExtraVEGANza!

On Saturday, I met up with my fellow vegan buds Stephanie (a.k.a. Poopie Bitch) and Lindsey (who doesn't have an a.k.a., but we should give her one!) for a day-long shopping trip at two farmer's markets. First, we had soy lattes at Bluff City Coffee in the South Main Arts District. Steph brought her famously-delicious Egg McVegans:

These are so much better than the real thing! The "egg" is made from tofu and topped with Tofutti cheeze and Gimme Lean faux sausage. It was the perfect start to our morning. After fueling up, we headed to the Memphis Farmer's Market, downtown's weekly Saturday sale of locally-grown fruits and veggies.

At the market, we ran into my buddy Uele of Groovy Foods, who makes the best vegan granola on the planet. She sells it at the market, and it's so addictive:

Then we saw Keith Forrester (he's ducking in the background), a local farmer who sells to-die-for heirloom cherry tomatoes from Whitton Farms. His wife Jill is responsible for those lovely flowers:

After stocking up on tomatoes, fresh corn, eggplant, okra, and some tasty vegan pre-made soups, we headed to the Winchester Farmer's Market (about a 20-minute drive from the downtown market). Even though the name implies that the Winchester store is a farmer's market, it's actually not one at all. Instead, it's a massive Asian and Mexican supermarket with a large selection of faux meats, exotic produce (not local), and steamed buns. I posed with my corn and goofy 80s shades outside the market's front door:

Inside, we found plenty of great deals on inari wrappers, veat "meat," and soy sauce. We also found some, um, interesting labels. I took this iPhone photo of Steph with a package of Cock Flavored Soup Mix (definitely not vegan!):

And Lindsey bought this huge bottle of Housewife Soy Sauce because she couldn't resist the funny label:

Finally, I'll leave you guys with this hilarious shelf tag:

It was the price for a bag of dried white mushrooms, and we're assuming the "fun" means "fungus." After all, $3.79 sounds like too great of a deal for "Premium White Fun with Asian Taste." :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beauty Is In the Eye of the Eater

Look, I know this photo of Broccoli Marmite Pie is far from flattering:

But man, it sure was beautiful when it went into my mouth. Flaky puff pastry meets savory broccoli florets in a thick Marmite tomato gravy. Pure comfort food.

The pie wasn't done cooking until after sunset, so I had to use a flash for this shot. And as you can see, plating was also a challenge. I probably could have done a better job on presentation, but I was hungry. Check out that puffy, flaky crust:

You can find the recipe here at Cooking the Vegan Books. Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't have measurements or cooking times, so you kinda have to wing it. I used one bunch of broccoli, about 2 cups water, one tablespoon Marmite, 1/4 cup tomato puree, 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, and most of a Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheet. I baked it at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. For the rest of the directions though, check out Liz's blog.

On the side, I had a large salad with all kinds of goodness — romaine, radishes, carrots, tomato, marinated olives, pickles, raisins, and Amy's French Dressing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Few Meals I Didn't Make

I didn't cook again tonight! I know, right? What's with me lately? I actually went out for sushi (avocado rolls and inari, of course) at Edo's Japanese Restaurant with my buddy/co-worker Shara. But I've got a few photos stashed away that I've snapped recently at Memphis restaurants (no sushi pics ... it was dark in there).

There's a perception that Memphis isn't a very vegan-friendly city, and while we're a far cry from Portland (aka Vegan Mecca), we do have plenty of options. Take for example the Garden Burger at Cafe Eclectic:

Best black bean burger eva! They call it a garden burger, and maybe there are some veggies in there somewhere, but it's mostly chargrilled spicy black beans. I like it that way. It comes with a tasty side of roasted white and sweet taters.

DejaVu Creole Soul Food & Vegetarian Restaurant boasts a large vegan section on their menu. And all of their delicious soul food sides — collards, smothered okra, candied yams — are vegan. One of my new favorite meals at DejaVu is this Mock Chicken Salad Sandwich:

The "chicken" is made from TVP and some other stuff that tastes pretty convincing, but not in a creepy "could it really be meat?" kinda way. This is also served on whole wheat, and the carb conscious (silly people!) can choose to have their mock chicken served atop a bed of greens.

The Hi-Tone Cafe — a hipster rock club by night — morphs into a happenin' brunch spot every Sunday. Though service is sometimes slow, it's worth the wait for this tasty Tofu Scramble Platter:

The scramble is deee-licious, and it's served as roasted asparagus, some damn tasty home fries, and toast.

Chef Bastet, an awesome local herbivore who's started many a vegan venture in Memphis, is currently heading up a vegan lunch delivery service with a rotating daily menu. Every Friday, Bastet's Healthy Meals on Wheels has Pizza Day! Her BBQ Mock Chicken Pizza is the bestest!

I can't even tell you how good this is — fried mock chicken, vegan cheeze, spinach, and chopped carrots atop a homemade personal pan-sized crust. And Bastet's not stingy with the toppings. One personal pan lasts me two meals!

Anyhow, there are way more vegan options in Memphis. I submit at least one dish picture a week to Veggie Thing, an awesome vegan restaurant food pic site, so check that out regularly for more ideas.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Got An iPhone!

My stupid old Razor phone was falling apart — the left side of the button pad didn't work and it died all the time — so my awesome dad offered to buy me an iPhone as an early birthday present. Thanks daddy!

I bought it Monday evening, and I've already become so obsessed with it! It's the perfect tool for an obsessive-compulsive, super-organized, crazy Type A person like me.

I immediately downloaded the Lose It app, a calorie-counter and fitness application that lets you know how many calories you should be consuming and what you're actually eating. You simply enter the foods you eat for each meal, plus any exercise. Then at the end of the day, you get a pretty good picture of your overall calorie consumption/calorie burning.

For example, today I was allotted for 1,697 calories for my height and weight (I don't want to lose, just maintain). After breakfast (baked beans on toast), lunch (whole wheat spaghetti with marinara), snacks (Clif Mojo bar, cantaloupe, trail mix), and dinner (leftover BBQ ribs, mac & cashew cheeze, and collard greens), plus a 45-minute treadmill workout and walking the dog, I wound up with 1,691 calories! Pretty darn close!

Other apps I've downloaded include Eight Glasses a Day (keeps track of how much water you consume), Vegan Xpress (a full list of vegan foods at popular chain and fast food joints, as well as a vegan wine and beer guide), the Leaping Bunny Shopping Guide (list of cruelty-free products), the New York Times, Vegan YumYum's cookbook app, the Whole Foods recipe guide and store locator app, and of course Facebook!

But I'd like some input from other iPhone users on their favorite apps. There's so many to choose from that I know I'm missing out on some good ones. Do you have an iPhone? If so, what are your can't-live-without apps?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wet Vs. Dry

Folks in Memphis get in drunken fist fights over the virtues of wet ribs versus dry ribs. Seriously. Memphians are crazy about barbecue, and while this behavior totally creeps me out, I hate to miss out on a good debate. I knew I had to create a Dry Rub-Style Seitan BBQ Rib recipe for my cookbook:

For those unfamiliar with barbecue culture, "wet ribs" indicate the use of barbecue sauce. "Dry ribs" contain no sauce, and are instead are rubbed with a salty-sweet barbecue spice mixture. Though I've seen a number of tasty wet BBQ seitan rib recipes out there, I couldn't find a dry one. So I made one up.

My rub recipe — a mix of seasoning salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and some other stuff — was actually inspired by my friend Amber's family rub recipe. She uses it on tofu and Morningstar Farms "chicken" strips. I added a few more ingredients and rubbed it into some homemade baked seitan strips, made using my all-purpose recipe for seitan.

I served the ribs with a helpin' of my Mac & Cashew Cheeze:

This recipe's also going in the cookbook, and I've shown pics on the blog several times before. I'm still tweaking the recipe to acheive a creamier texture. I've learned that cashew cheeze dries out quickly, and even though it tastes smooth and creamy in my mouth, I want it to look creamier on the plate. Hopefully, I'll be able to perfect that soon.

I also had some of my Collard Greens:

I typically cook my collards with turnips, but I was in a hurry to eat tonight and didn't feel like running to the store for more ingredients. The greens were still delicious and smoky and comforting without the chopped turnips, though.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meet My Zoo

I don't have any food pics to share tonight. I ate out for lunch with friends and out for dinner with my dad. So I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce ya'll to my fur babies. I have six cats and a dog. Yea, I know. I'm kind of a crazy cat lady. But I swear I scoop their litter boxes everyday.

First up is Datsun, my best friend in the whole world! He's a seven-year-old, 80-pound mutt and he's the smartest, most loyal, and most playful dog ever. His favorite pastime — playing fetch with sticks in the yard. He could literally fetch all day long if I let him. I always wear out first. He also barks at every doorbell and car honk on TV, as well as the Wheel of Fortune ding noise.

Akasha is my oldest cat. He has a girly name, but he's all boy. As you can see here, he has crazy eyes. They're always huge and he often stares into space for, like, 15 minutes straight without moving. He loves to cuddle at night and demands to be held like a teddy bear as I fall asleep.

Pandora is the only girl in the family, and she knows it. She's a princess. When she wants to sit in your lap, she will. But don't even think about trying to pick her up to place her in your lap. She's ain't havin' that. She also has crazy soft fur, and she loves belly rubs. Oh, and she's a fighter. She's always starting spats with the boy cats ... it's the Memphis gangsta in her.

Polaris is the devil kitty, hence the horns in this picture. He's always chewing on things and scratching up furniture. I can squirt him with a water bottle (my form of punishment), and he'll just look at me like, "Do it again. I dare you." But other times, he's really sweet. He's a talker, and he knows how to woo folks with his adorable meows. We actually have long conversations — he meows, I meow, he meows, I meow. I'm never sure what I'm saying in cat language, but he always responds.

Here's Gelfling. Even though he's the fourth oldest, he still thinks he's the baby. He was the youngest for quite awhile before I took in the other two (pictured below Gelf). Out of all the kitties, he has the sweetest meow. It's the kind that you just can't resist. If he meows, I have to pet him. I just can't help myself. He also loves to burrow his head into small spaces. My boyfriend rescued Gelfling from a busy street in Midtown Memphis when he was a teensy kitten. And for some reason, he's never really grown very big. Maybe he was the runt of his litter.

Ozzie is one of the newer additions. He was my boyfriend's ex-roommate's cat. When that roommate left (in an effort to get out of paying his half of the rent), he left his cat behind. What a jerk! Luckily, Oz found a great home with me! He's a cuddler and typically sleeps at my side every night (yes, there are several animals in bed with me every night). He obviously didn't want his picture taken here — he was hiding under a shelf and sticking out his tongue.

Seymour is the the scaredy cat. My boyfriend also took him off the streets as a kitten (he has a penchant for rescuing animals), but I think Seymour is a little feral. He's never gotten used to the idea of people. He only likes me and Paul, and he's scared of his own shadow. He spends most of his days in the safety of my bedroom, and even demands his dinner in there. He also loves to drink fresh water from the bathroom tap. He doesn't exercise much, and he's kind of a fattie.

So there ya have it. These creatures are my life. I don't know what I'd do without them. I'm never lonely or bored because there's always a fur baby to keep me entertained. And I sleep much better knowing that my bed is filled with cuddly critters.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vegans Have More Options

Omnis are missing out. As vegans, we eat such a wide variety of foods that the average McDonald's-loving, Wal-Mart-shopping, meat & potatoes omni hasn't even heard of. Think about all the burger options we have — bean burgers, soy burgers, garden burgers, and endless protein and grain combinations for homemade patties. Despite popular omni belief, we also have more than one option for a tasty grilled cheeze sammich.

Take for example this out-of-this-world Grilled Cheeze Sandwich from Voracious Vegan:

The "cheeze" is a nooch-based sauce, thickened to a paste and spread on Earth Balanced whole grain bread. It's grilled to perfection and oh so delicious. I've had nutritional yeast-based grilled cheezes before, but it's been awhile. I typically go the easy route and melt some Follow Your Heart or Teese between my bread.

VV's recipe is here. It's really simple and worth trying out, especially if you've not tried a noochy grilled cheeze. There's something magical and comforting about nutritional yeast that I just can't put into words. Note: I substiututed the pickled jalepenos in the recipe with fresh, minced jalapeno since that's what I had on hand.

On the side, I made some Dillweed Potato Salad from my cookbook:

The potatoes are local and organic, and as you can see, I don't play when it comes to dill. I like a lot of dill, so my tater salad recipe calls for a ton.

I typically make this with Vegenaise, but this time I used the last of some Nasoya vegan mayo that I bought with a coupon at Whole Foods. I'm not crazy about that brand. It reminds me more of Miracle Whip than mayo. I doubt I'll ever buy it again. But on the bright side, Nasoya has way less fat than Vegenaise. That means I can eat more tater salad without the guilt.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taco Tuesday!

Actually, it was Taco Monday with leftover tacos for lunch on Tuesday. But Taco Monday doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Either way, I had these delicious Baja Lime Tempeh Tacos with Fresh Steamed Squash and Zucchini:

This quick weeknight meal that came together so quickly, I almost felt guilty about it. You see, the Baja lime flavor was courtesy of a bottle of Amy's Organic Baja Lime Marinade. I picked the stuff up at this crazy-awesome discount health food store in Asheville, North Carolina called Amazing Savings. It was only 99 cents!

Amazing Savings is a cheap health foodie's dream come true. While in Asheville for Veganstock, I bought Oat Dream oat milk and Hemp Dream hempmilk for $1.50, vegan gravy mix for 69 cents, Organicsville pomegranate salad dressing for 99 cents. Some of it was past the date a bit (like this marinade ... it expired in July), but none was old enough to actually have gone bad yet. For the record, the milks were all within their expiration safety dates. But I digress.

Anyway, I marinated some steamed tempeh in the lime marinade overnight. Then on Monday after work and the gym, I sauteed it with green bell pepper and garlic. I tucked the tempeh into corn tortillas with Nacho Follow Your Heart vegan cheeze, tomatoes, lettuce, black olives, and tequila lime salsa. So, so good.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ode to PB&J

There are few things I love more than peanut butter and jelly. I love them more than rainbows. I love them more than unicorns. I may even love them more than my cats ... well, maybe not. But I certainly wouldn't eat my cats. I will eat peanut butter and jelly, for any meal of the day.

This morning, I had the most amazing PB&J treat for breakfast — Peanut Butter and Jelly Quick Bread from Have Cake, Will Travel:

Celine, the lovely author behind the Have Cake, Will Travel blog, is my new hero for developing this delicious recipe. It's so simple and so, so tasty. The bread is made with ground oats and spelt flour in place of regular flour, so it's kinda healthy and whole grain-ish. And it contains a half-cup of peanut butter (I used chunky) and a little over a fourth cup of strawberry jam (I used my homemade, organic strawberry jam).

As you can see, I spread mine with even more jam because that's just how I roll. I'd also planned on drenching it with more PB, but the nut butter taste is so strong in the bread, it didn't need extra. Here's the whole loaf, waiting to cool on my bakin' rack:

The recipe is here. Go make it. Don't eat your cats.

Hey Testers: I FINALLY posted more recipes on the tester site ...