I met a lot of awesome people at Vida Vegan Con last August, but with so much going on (workshops, panels, outings to Voodoo Donuts, boozin' at the Bye & Bye), there wasn't much time to bond with many of the bloggers I was so excited to meet.
But I actually did get to spend more quality time with a handful of bloggers. We formed a loose posse and stuck together when traveling around Portland. One of those bloggers was Amber Shea Ford (soon-to-be Amber Shea Crawley) of Almost Vegan and her partner Matt Crawley. We karaoked together (Matt does a bad-ass Billy Idol). We stuffed ourselves with late-night seitan sandwiches at Upton's Naturals pop-up shop at Food Fight. We even rode to the airport together to catch our respective return flights home. By the end of the weekend, we had inside jokes ("it's time for the percolator!") and lots of amazing memories.
Amber just so happens to be an awesome raw chef, and her new book, Practically Raw, just hit stands. I was offered a review copy, and I enthusiastiscally said, "Yes, please!" I promised myself I'd be eating more raw foods after my January cleanse, but lately, the only raw food I've been eating has been side salads. That's mostly because I've had cookbook after cookbook to review over the past couple of months. And none of them have been raw until Amber's book. Perfect timing!
Many of Amber's recipes have cooked and raw options, and a lot of them (but certainly not all) even have a dehydrator option. I'm always looking for new excuses to dust off my Excalibur, so I chose to start with these Mushroom-Walnut Burgers:
Don't these patties look totally meat-like? The burgers have that hearty, meaty flavor that mushrooms lend, and the walnuts mean they're packed with omega-3's. I stuffed my burger into a romaine leaf and topped it with a little Nacheez spread.
Probably the best thing about Practically Raw is that there's a WHOLE CHAPTER dedicated to kale chips! A whole freakin' chapter! There's also an entire hummus chapter, but I'll have to get to that later. I couldn't wait to bite into these Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips:
If there's one thing I'd like to see veganized, it's sour cream and onion potato chips. And no, kale chips aren't quite the same as junky old potato chips. But they're kind of better because you don't feel like a fat ass after eating a whole bag. These kale chips, seasoned with shallots and creamy cashews, tasted pretty much exactly like sour cream and onion.
I also explored the salad chapter and found a neat recipe for Matt's Salad Sprinkle, a salad topping that Amber's partner Matt loves on his salads. It's made from nutritional yeast, hempseeds, and dulse flakes, and it was the perfect topper for this garden salad:
As soon as I get caught up with the rest of my pending cookbook reviews, I'm going to dive into this book full force. I love Amber's taste (and the full-color photos!). She's veganized and raw-icized everything from cheese balls and flapjacks to korma masala and Southern-style biscuits & gravy. Oh, and the dessert section is drool-worthy! Raw sugared donut holes, anybody? Or chocolate almond butter cookies? I'll have both, thanks.