Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sweet Tater Hash

Quick post tonight — another recap of a cookbook recipe. I've been eating my savory Sweet Potato Hash for breakfast every day this week:

This will be the fourth or fifth time I've tested this recipe, and it seems like real winner. It's sort of like corned beef hash, but I've subbed sweet potatoes and veggie burger for the white taters and corned beef. What the hell is corned beef anyway? It sounds like some creepy meat from a can.

Anyway, the hash is tastiest served with toast. In this photo, my whole grain toast is schmeared with Sarah Grace Pumpkin Butter, a package swap gift from Sarah at See Sarah Eat. We did a swap last year, but at the time, I had several jars of jams and fruit butters open. I just recently opened the Sarah Grace brand, and it is fantastic.

And yes, I know my breakfast plate here looks way more autumn than early summer. But who's counting?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Bangkok Alley

Sorry I didn't post last night. It was the boyfriend and my six-year anniversary, and we were watching that new Karate Kid movie with Will Smith's son (who is adorable, by the way) until like 12:30 a.m. That's past my bedtime, so I crashed as soon as we got home.

Before the movie, we went out to eat. The boyfriend is not vegan, not even vegetarian. But when it comes to dining out, we can always agree on anything Asian. We chose a Thai place that neither of us had been to — Bangkok Alley's downtown location. This family-owned Thai joint has three locations in Memphis, but the other two are way out East (that's Memphis talk for "not in Midtown or downtown" where the cool kids are). Though many Thai places use fish sauce, Bangkok Alley has a few vegetarian selections clearly marked as "Vegetarian (No Meat)" ... in case you forgot what vegetarian meant. They also have a sushi menu with a few veg-friendly rolls.

I chose the Vegetables in Garlic-Chili Sauce with Tofu and Brown Rice (the rice is not pictured):

The sauce didn't taste like chili at all, but it was still delicious. Sort of a sweet and savory garlicky broth. I added some chili sauce to up the heat as the dish was pretty mild. I don't know why, but I expected the tofu to be fried. I was a little sad that it wasn't, but it was still yummy. I like tofu all ways, even plain straight out the package. I also ordered a crispy veggie spring roll with a fruity sweet 'n' sour sauce that hinted of fresh pineapple juice.

The food was tasty, and I loved that Bangkok Alley offered brown rice. But the best part of the meal was the wine — organic Lolonis Ladybug White:

Lolonis Winery in Mendicino deploys over five million ladybugs into their vineyards to deal with the pests. Cool huh? Who needs chemicals when you can have ladybugs? It's vegan-ness seems questionable as I've seen different responses in different places, but I choose to trust this one from that says it's vegan. I'm not super picky about sticking with vegan wines, but I try.

Bangkok Alley is located at 121 Union Ave. Call 901-522-2007 or check out their website here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mega-Veggie Meal

I'm not sure which question I get asked more often: "Where do you get your protein?" or "Did that hurt?" (in reference to my lip piercing ... people always ask without mentioning the piercing, as if I'm always thinking about the fact that I have jewelry on my face). Both questions are equally annoying, but I can understand people's curiosity so I'm always polite when I answer.

Answers: I eat plenty of protein in the form of tofu, tempeh, seitan, and beans. And no, it didn't hurt very much, but it was sore for weeks when it was healing.

But back to the protein question — I've actually counted my daily protein intake for several days, and I eat way more than the recommended amount for a female. I generally have some sort of protein-based entree at every meal. Except for tonight. Veggies played the star and supporting roles in my Sunday night dinner with this Roasted Veggie Po' Boy with Curried Sweet Potato Fries:

And you know, I didn't even miss the protein. Of course, I had lentils for lunch, so it wasn't like I'd been without protein all day. Sometimes veggies demand to take the lead.

The sandwich is another cookbook tester (have you noticed that I'm really stepping up to finish soon?), but I'll tell ya that it's piled high with local zucchini and squash from the Memphis Farmers Market, portabello mushrooms, onions, and red bell pepper. That cheese peeking out is Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella. Daiya is delicious, but I still use FYH when I needing a slicing cheese.

On the side are my Curried Sweet Potato Fries, which I dipped in a liberal amount of Chef Allen's Mango Ketchup.

By the way, I'm so honored to have been bestowed the Sunshine Award by two of my favorite bloggers — Nora of Pride and Vegudice and Kiersten of Vegan Awakening (formerly Full of Beans). Thanks so much guys! I'm supposed to pass this award on to 12 other bloggers, but I'm sleepy and I know all that linking would take longer than I have before bedtime (I know, that's a lame excuse). Not to get all cheesy on you guys, but there are loads of awesome vegan food bloggers out there that serve as a daily inspiration to me. We all make such a great support group, and after a few years of following other people's blogs, I feel like I have a little bloggy family. Thanks guys!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Let's Talk About Beer

Forget the food. Let's talk about brew. I'm a bit of a beer snob these days. No Bud Light or Coors for me. No way. I want a delicious craft brew (but I can get down with a PBR every now and again).

But let's back up a bit. Back in April, my BFF Greg and I went to the Memphis Brewfest at AutoZone Park. We tried tons of beers, but one really stood out for me. When I got my cup at the German beer table, the lady behind the table warned me that the beer I was about to drink tasted like meat. Meat? Yep, meat. Seeing that it was beer and not meat, I said why not?

One drink and I was in love. The heavy dark beer tasted like it had been spiked with Liquid Smoke. If you're not a dark beer fan, that might gross you out. But I like my beers dark, bitter, and somewhat reminiscent of black coffee. I didn't catch the name of my beloved German beer that night, but I'll never forget the flavor.

Enter O'Fallon Smoke Porter, my new favorite brew:

This is not my hand, by the way. My wrists are NOT that hairy!

This isn't quite as smoky as the mysterious German beer I sampled at Brewfest. But it's close. Imagine Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter spiked with Liquid Smoke. Oh yea. Either that sounds delicious to you or it doesn't. But I don't care. This is my new fave beer. O'Fallon is brewed in O'Falllon, Missouri, by the way. And for the record, it's vegan. I checked. For a full list of vegan beers, check out Barnivore's vegan beer and wine guide.

I found this stuff in Clarksville, a town about three and a half hours from Memphis, last weekend. They have this great beer shop called House of Brews. Though Clarksville is much smaller than Memphis, their beer shop is far, far superior to anything we have here. I'm pretty sure O'Fallon isn't available here. Sigh. Guess I'll have to wait until the next trip to Clarksville.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Old-Fashioned "Fish" Fry

... I mean, "fish" bake. In the South, folks love to fry catfish. People gather in backyards during the summer to stand around, drink cheap beer, and deep-fry cornmeal-battered catfish in a Fry Daddy. I'm guessing these sorts of parties might happen in other parts of the country too, but they were certainly a fixture in my Arkansas hometown when I was growing up.

My parents never ate seafood, and so I grew up without ever having tasted shrimp, crab, lobster, or any of that nastiness. But they do love catfish, and as a kid, I remember liking it too. But one bad experience with a rotten fish (seriously, this thing was disgusting) turned me off of all fish forever. Of course, it wasn't long after that bad fish experience that I went veg at age 14. Needless to say, I do not miss fish or seafood.

But I had to include a fish fry-style recipe in my cookbook. The book is meant to be an homage to veganized Southern cuisine, and fish fries are a big part of Southern culture. Thankfully, my Baked Tofu Fish doesn't taste too terribly fishy. And it's not fried (gasp!) so it's even healthy! I use dulse flakes for that fishy taste, but dulse is pretty mild compared with, say, nori.

Here's my Baked Tofu Fish with a Hush Puppy Corn Muffin and some Spicy Fried Hominy (the homemade tartar sauce isn't pictured):

The corn muffin and hominy recipes are also going in my cookbook. I figured that baking the fish meant that I should also bake the hush puppies. See, even a Southern girl can cook healthily every now and then!

And the hominy ... well, it's sauteed. But it's still fairly low in calories. I love me some hominy, especially doused with a good bit of black pepper.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Down on the Farm

Last Friday, I took a little three-hour road trip to Summertown, home of The Farm. You've probably heard of The Farm's Book Publishing Company, which puts out loads of classic and contemporary vegan cookbooks. Think Louise Hagler's Tofu Cookery, Joanne Stepaniak's The Uncheese Cookbook, and plenty of newer books that I've reviewed on this blog.

But the Book Publishing Company is only one aspect of The Farm, an intentional community of like-minded vegans and vegetarians living in rural middle Tennessee. Founded in 1971 by Stephen Gaskin, The Farm has become a beacon for those studying midwifery, alternative energy and green living, and of course vegetarianism. Close to two hundred awesome folks live there, many of whom caravaned to Summertown from San Francisco during the hippie days of the 1970s.

The Farm has a soy dairy that produces the world's best (in my humble opinion) soy yogurt and tofu. While I was there, I had to pick up a tub of their plain, unsweetened soy yogurt:

And a few pounds of the super-firm FarmSoy tofu:

They used to sell these products at the Nashville Whole Foods, but they've since scaled back only offering their soy goods at the quaint Farm Store, a on-site health food shop that peddles all sorts of veg snacks and food items. The Farm Store also offers a nice selection of TVP in all shapes and sizes. I picked up a bag of TVP in chicken cutlet shapes!

When I arrived back home on Saturday, I prepared this scrumptious bowl of FarmSoy yogurt, Groovy Foods granola (a local Memphis product made by my friend Uele), and dried strawberries:

On Monday morning, I used a pound of the tofu to make my Tofu Cottage Cheese:

The tofu cottage cheese recipe is going in the cookbook. It's pretty basic and really tasty served on whole wheat toast with a schmear of Marmite!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer Solstice!

I had to forgo my usual summer solstice celebration tonight to meet my good friend Leslie for dinner at the India Palace restaurant. She was in town from Asheville, North Carolina, and I wasn't about to miss a chance to hang with her. However, I did have a pretty summery lunch today — a BBQ Tempeh & Carrot Sandwich with Poppyseed Coleslaw and extra Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce:

I've posted about this recipe before. It's another crunk cookbook tester, but I made it again just to make sure it was okay. I'm happy to report that the sandwich, slaw, and homemade sauce were just as tasty the second time around.

I served my sandwich with some of the best summer corn I've ever tasted! My dad brought me a bag of corn picked up from a roadside produce stand, and it was so deliciously sweet and juicy. I covered the corn with Bryant Terry's Spicy Garlic-Miso Dressing from Vegan Soul Kitchen:

If you haven't tried Terry's corn dressing recipe yet, it's a must-try. This recipe is by far my favorite from VSK so far.

I held my corn on the cob with these cutesy little corn pics that my mom gave me:

If flip-flop corn holders don't say summer, I don't what does ...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day, Papa and Paw Crunk!

Every year on Father's Day, my grandparents and I gather at my parents' house for a celebratory meal honoring the family patriarchs — my daddy and my paw. Here's my paw (my dad's dad) with me and my daddy. As you can see, I didn't get the tall genes:

Anyone who's been following this blog for awhile knows how freakin' awesome my dad is. He's a bad-ass biker dude with a big ole heart, and he often sponsors cookbook and shopping spree giveaways on this blog ... just because he feels like it. He's not vegan, but he gave up fishing and hunting after I went vegan. He has magical powers that give him the ability to fix anything that's broken — from computers to pieces of furniture. He likes skulls, Harleys, and rock 'n' roll, and his favorite TV show is the Squidbillies on Adult Swim. He's always, always there when friends and family need him. He's pretty much the coolest dude in the universe.

My dad's favorite food right now is French Fry Po' Boys, which we first had in New Orleans last fall. We've since reserved making this ridiculously-carby sandwich for special occasions:

Steak fries are topped with Daiya mozzarella (I was out of cheddar or I would have used that instead), tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and ketchup.

Here's my plate — French Fry Po' Boy, sweet potato fries (yes, we had fries with fry sandwiches), Granny's fresh green beans and new potatoes, and Mama's tangy-sweet baked beans:

My mom made a vegan chocolate cake for dessert because my Paw LOVES chocolate cake. Ever since I was a little kid, I can remember my grandpa's sweet tooth. This man could probably eat dessert for every meal ... especially if it's chocolate cake:

And my Granny brought THREE vegan cream pies! Keep in mind that there were only six people at this celebration. That's enough for us to have a half a pie each. She made so many because she was testing variations of a pie that's going in my cookbook. Here's a Pineapple Cream Pie:

Here's the same pie with added coconut:

And here's a mandarin orange version:

I tried a sliver of each, plus a slice of chocolate cake. Needless to say, my sweet tooth was more than satisfied.

Happy Father's Day, Papa and Paw Crunk!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Return of the Wafflewich

Move over, KFC ... with your nasty, cruelty-infested Double Down. There's a new sammich in town, and it's tasty and vegan. Meet (or if you've been a long-time Crunk follower, re-introduce yourself to) the Fried Tofu "Chicken" Wafflewich:

Yep, it's another cookbook tester, but I promise its worth waiting for. I developed this ode to Southern-style chicken and waffles back in 2008. But I'm testing and testing and testing again. This filling all-in-one meal combines my Southern Fried Tofu "Chicken" (which is also delicious on its own) with my Savory Sandwich Waffle and a special maple-dijon sauce. It's hefty and satisfying and somewhat sinful thanks to the beer-battered fried 'fu.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to show y'all my poor puppy's injured paw:

Poor Datsun! He was staying with a friend while I was at Bonnaroo last weekend, and the friend took him to the White River in Arkansas. Little did she know, Datsun is actually part fish. He loves to swim more than anything in the world ... more than his favorite ball ... more than belly rubs ... probably even more than he loves me!

While my fish-dog was swimming, he managed to cut his paw on a sharp rock in the water. He bled so much that my friend had to take him to the animal ER. He had emergency paw surgery and got quite a few stitches. Of course, Datsun acts like the paw doesn't phase him. No limping and lots of playing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Pizze Stone

If I lived in a far-off magical land like Portland or San Francisco, I'm sure I'd have access to vegan cheese takeout pizza. But I live in Memphis, and if I want vegan cheese pizza, I've gotta get my butt in the kitchen and make it my damn self.

A few places around here offer "vegan pizza," which is really just a roasted veggie pizza with no cheese. And that's all fine and good. But I typically take the leftovers home, top 'em with Daiya, and pop 'em in the oven. Pizza is just better with cheese, especially vegan cheese.

But Pizze Stone, a new-ish pizza joint in my 'hood, offers something just as tasty as vegan cheese pizza — Hummus Pizza!

A personal pan-sized crisp cracker-thin pizza crust is topped with creamy hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, and minced red onion. Though it typically also comes with feta and goat cheese, it's no problem to leave those off.

Funny story: My mom, dad, and boyfriend ate at Pizze Stone a couple of weeks ago. I ordered the Hummus Pizza, while they all ordered melty cheesy pizzas. When the pies arrived, I immediately dug in. The Hummus Pizza is served cold like a salad pizza, but my dad didn't realize that. He saw me shove pizza in my face, and assumed the pies weren't very hot. So he took a big bite of his cheese pizza and burned the roof of his mouth! Well, at least he'll know better from now on.

Pizze Stone is located at 1545 Overton Park Avenue. Call 901-725-7806 or visit their website here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bonnaroo Update: Part 2

Back again with a run-down of days three and four at Bonnaroo Music Fest in Manchester, Tennessee. Check out yesterday's post for a recap of days one and two (and some bad ass pictures of Tori Amos and Jack Black, if I do say so myself).

On Saturday morning, my friend Shara, her boyfriend Tyler, my boyfriend Paul, and I were already pretty worn out. Camping in weather with a heat index of over 100 degrees takes a lot out of a person. But we trudged on and managed to pose in this yellow submarine in the press tent. Left to right: Shara, Tyler, Paul, and me (yes, I know my legs are hanging out of the sub ... oops!):

Also while in the press tent, Shara ran into Buzz Osborne from The Melvins:

After lounging in the shade at the media tent, we headed to see Weezer. I took some shots in the photo pit for the first few songs. Rivers Cuomo is by far the best musician I've ever shot. He's so expressive!

Other than Tori's show on Friday, Weezer played the best set of the weekend. I hate it when bands play all their new stuff and neglect the old hits. But Weezer stuck with all the crowd pleasers — the Sweater Song, Buddy Holly, Say It Ain't So, and Surf Wax America. They even played a mash-up cover of MGMT's Kids and Lady Gaga's Poker Face.

After Weezer's set, I was starving. I managed to find a pizza stand serving vegan pizza!!! Here's my wood-fired flatbread with Daiya mozzarella, kale, carrots, and yellow beets:

Later, we caught the Flaming Lips but I'd already put away my camera. I'm not the biggest Lips fan, but the effects were awesome. Wayne Coyne rolled out in a giant hamster ball into the audience. And they played She Don't Use Jelly ... that made me happy.

On Sunday, Paul and I caught Against Me:

And the Dropkick Murphys:

Both shows were super-fun and punk rock. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the Rise Against show afterward. If I have one regret for the whole weekend, it's missing Rise Against.

I did, however, buy these cute earrings from some hippie chick selling spacers and other jewelry:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bonnaroo Update: Part 1

I survived Bonnaroo Music Festival! 90-plus degree temps, very few trees for shade, tent camping, nasty camp showers, and nothing but port-a-potties for 4 days (okay, so we did sneak out a few times to use the public bathrooms at a nearby Wal-Mart ... you know you're roughin' it when Wal-Mart bathrooms seem fancy!).

The crappy conditions were all worth it though. My friend/co-worker Shara, her boyfriend Tyler, and my boyfriend Paul took in lots of awesome bands though we didn't quite make it to everything we wanted to see.

The music fest is held in the tiny town of Manchester, Tennessee, but it draws about 80,000 people. Showers cost $7 for the general population, but we were staying in the special V.I.P. guest camping area so ours were free (thank god!). Lots of folks chose to forgo showers and rinse off under this mushroom, which spews out soapy water (for some reason, it wasn't turned on yet in this picture):

Huge bobbleheads of the festival's founders were located throughout Centeroo, the music and vending area:

When we arrived on Thursday, Shara and I headed over to the media tent for a free press dinner. They had veggie burgers! And we each got two free cups of Sweetwater 4:20:

Later that night, we took in an awesome electronica show with Afrojack and Dieselboy, and we rode this ferris wheel:

On Friday, we saw my favorite comedian Margaret Cho in the comedy tent:

We missed Conan O'Brian's show because it had a limited number of seats, and we didn't make it to the line in time for tickets. But I did get a glimpse of Conan introducing the Tenacious D show:

I caught a few minutes of Tenacious D (love Jack Black!). They opened with "Pick of Destiny":

And then I hopped over to the Tori Amos show. Tori Amos is my all-time favorite musician. I've loved, loved, loved her for years. I own all of her albums and quite a few bootlegs. I even own the first album she recorded with Y Kant Tori Read! Her performance was absolutely magical!

Though I mostly ate sandwiches and canned goods at my campsite, I ended up springing for an overpriced veggie burrito on Friday night:

This thing was $10! Festival food is always ridiculously over-priced. It was okay. Just rice, black beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, and corn. It could have used some salsa or guac, but they didn't have that.

I'll post more from the festival tomorrow!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

See Y'all on the Flipside!

Hey y'all! I'm off to Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. It's a four-day stinky hippie fest with music from Tori Amos, Jay-Z, Tenacious D, Les Claypool, Rise Against, the Dropkick Murphys, Against Me, Weezer, you name it. Oh, and there's a comedy tent with Margaret Cho and Conan O'Brian!

The best part? I'm shooting the event for the newspaper I work for (the Memphis Flyer), so I'll be close and personal in the pit near the stage.

Soooo ... I won't be posting for a few days. I'm sure I'll have tons of vegan food photos (and other crazy stuff) to share when I return. Until then, much love homies! I'll leave you guys with this adorable picture of the hugging carrots I picked up at the Memphis Farmers Market last week.

Almost too cute to eat, huh? Um, but I ate 'em anyway.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cajun Cookin'

Though much of my cooking is influenced by the down-home Dirty South dishes (like beans 'n' cornbread, biscuits, casseroles, and the like) my mama and granny made when I was growin' up, there's no denying the importance of the Cajun cuisine of New Orleans. My cookbook will be a mix of dishes from various areas of the South, including my beloved NOLA.

Though I've never lived in New Orleans, the Crescent City has been a favorite vacation destination for years. One of my all-time favorite dishes from the deep, deep South is red beans and rice. But I wanted to mix things up a bit, so I made Cajun Red Beans 'n' Quinoa instead:

That's topped with extra hot sauce and some Slap Yo Mama Cajun seasoning (picked up on my last excursion there in the fall).

I served this hearty main with one of my all-time favorite sides — Fried Green Tomatoes (another cookbook recipe):

It may sound weird, but I've been enjoying these locally-grown fried green 'maters with a side of homemade strawberry jam. The savory cornmeal crust pairs perfectly with the sweet and fruity strawberry spread. Try topping your fried tomatoes with a teaspoon or so of jam next time you make 'em.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ain't No Mountain High Enough...

... to keep us away from Diana Ross. The Queen Supreme Diana Ross played an outdoor show at the Memphis Botanic Gardens on Saturday night, but we didn't have tickets. Rather than miss an opportunity to hear the Detroit diva live in concert, my friend Nathan and I planned a sneaky let's-catch-the-show-for-free picnic at Audubon Park. The park is located a few blocks from the outdoor show, so we were hoping to hear the performance.

Nathan popped open a bottle of bubbly for the occasion:

I brought some ciabatta bread and a couple of spreads from my cookbook for toppin' — this tasty vegan Pimento Cheeze Spread:

And some Garlicky Black-Eyed Pea Hummus:

On the side, we had my Granny's recipe for Southwestern Corn Salad (also in the cookbook):

And some tortilla chips with this tasty Sweet Onion Salsa:

Here's my plate:

And here I am stuffing my face as usual:

After we filled our bellies, we sat around and talked for a bit. And lo and behold, we suddenly heard a thumping bass line in the distance. I looked at my clock, and sure enough, it was Diana time. So we packed up the picnic gear and made our way across the park's golf course toward the show. It was dark outside, and though the course was closed, we were hidden from view. We got as close as we could without tickets, and we could see the fabulous lighted stage and the occasional glimpse of Diana's glittery attire. I heard my fave gay anthem, "I'm Comin' Out" and we felt so very sneaky.

Would the view have been better if we'd bought tickets? Sure, but I doubt we'd have had quite so much fun!