Monday, March 26, 2012

Vegan Egg Yolk!

Well, folks, someone's done gone and invented vegan egg yolk. We really do have it all now (well, except for vegan ranch tortilla chips ... someone please invent those!). The Vegg, a powder that, when blended with water, becomes the same exact consistency as a runny egg yolk, may be the best vegan product of 2012!

The powder is made from nutritional yeast, sodium alginate, black salt, and beta cartone. It was co-created by Rocky Shepheard, who's been working on perfecting vegan egg yolk for years. In 2009, Rocky emailed me his recipe for vegan egg yolk and I posted about it here. That recipe was delicious, but it wasn't quite spot-on for texture. Now, it's perfect! I doubt an omni would be able to tell the difference. Here's what the yolk looks like after the powder is blended with water:

The Vegg folks sent me a free sample, so I tried it using a couple of the recipes on The Vegg's website. First, I tried the Vegg Tofu Scramble with Veggie Bacon:

Basically, you make a tofu scramble as you normally would. I added my homemade tempeh bacon too. And then you pour the Vegg yolk over the scramble and let it cook up like scrambled eggs. It really adds that real egg taste and texture to your scramble!

This morning, I made Vegg French Toast:

Look at the crispy bits on that toast! The Vegg yolk is mixed with soymilk and the bread is dipped and fried. The yolk fries up exactly like real egg yolk in a French toast batter. It tastes more like traditional French toast than any vegan recipe I've ever tried.

Other recipes on the Vegg website include a frittata, egg noodles, hollandaise sauce, custard, caesar salad, and even cake! Yes, you can substitute Vegg yolk for egg yolks in cake recipes! And unlike Ener-G, this stuff actually tastes like eggs!

The best part? 10% of all sales are donated to Compassion Over Killing! You can order The Vegg at most major vegan online shops, like Vegan Essentials and Food Fight Grocery.

By the way, I won't be posting again until Sunday night. I'm spending the next few days at the Farm in Summertown helping out with the photo shoot for my cookbook. Yea!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ribz and Cheeze

Memphians are pretty damn serious about barbecue. We have a World Championship Barbecue Contest (I call it Pig Murder Fest) every May. And you can't drive more than five miles without running into a diner-style 'cue joint. But as a vegan, I can say with pride that I've only been to one of those barbecue shacks (because that one — Central BBQ — serves up a barbecue portabella mushroom sandwich).

However, there must be something in the air down here because, like most Memphians, I agree that everything tastes better smothered with a vinegar-heavy, slightly-sweet 'cue sauce. That's why I knew I must try Brian Patton's Barbecue Ribz with Smoky Elbows and Cheeze from the Sexy Vegan Cookbook:

These seitan ribs are marinated in what Brian calls Crazy Shit Vinegar, a homemade seasoned vinegar made with sugar and marinated peppers, onions, and carrots. That Crazy Shit is delicious! And it adds an awesome, complex flavor. After the ribs are marinated, they're baked in barbecue sauce. I used a bottled sauce instead of the homemade version Brian suggests because this was a really time-consuming recipe (a hour of baking the seitan, an hour of marinating the seitan, and 20 more minutes of baking). But it was still finger-lickin' good.

My seitan was a little softer than I would have liked (a few ribs fell apart), but I think that's my fault for using too much veggie broth in an early step in the recipe. Soft or not, the ribs were awesome.

The recipe for Smoky Elbows & Cheese is included on the same page as the ribs and it's no wonder. They're the perfect pair. The baked, breadcrumb-topped macaroni (I used quinoa elbow pasta) is mixed with Brian's homemade Smoky Cheddar Cheeze sauce. It's a cashew-based cheese with a hint of Liquid Smoke, and it's kind of impossible to stay out of. I probably ate a fourth-cup of this stuff with a spoon out of the food processor. Oops. I'll be making this again to top steamed veggies or to use as a dip for crackers.

Also, on the side, I made some of my own recipe for Collard Greens (the recipe will be in my cookbook).

The verdict? The Sexy Vegan ribs and macaroni get a double thumbs-up from this Memphian.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vegan Food From a Dude

I want to hang out with vegan cookbook author Brian L. Patton. I've always been one of those girls who'd rather hang out with the dudes than a bunch of ladies. We could play video games, drink beer out of 40s, and laugh when somebody farts. Of course, I don't know if Brian would really be into that. But that's the vibe I get from his new cookbook, The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude.

Take for example his recipe for tempeh-walnut meatballs. They're just titled "My Balls." The intro for the recipe is even funnier: "Here they are! For the whole planet to behold ... My Balls!" Since Brian is the executive chef at the Vegin' Out vegan food delivery service in L.A., the book is loaded with delicious recipes, but I couldn't resist trying this one first. Mainly because I wanted to say "balls."

Look at those balls! They were meaty and delicious. There's lot of Italian herbs, walnuts, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste mixed in the crumbled tempeh. I loved how firm the balls were (tee hee) after baking. Many vegan meatball recipes I've tried have come out soft and crumbly.

These would be excellent on top of spaghetti, but I piled mine on a Meatball Sub with Daiya Cheddar and a side of Colcannon (from the Happy Herbivore 2012 calendar):

The Sexy Vegan is loaded with dude humor, which is really the best kind. I'm from the Beavis & Butthead generation, after all. I've laughed out loud at titles like the S.I.L.F. (you know, "sandwich I'd like to ..."; it's a hummus sandwich), The Fat Ass (a sandwich piled high with tempeh bacon, seitan, and avocado), Hangover Hash (a potato hash with quinoa and sausage), and The Girlfriend's Favorite Salad That She Constantly Asks Me to Make and Won't Shut the Hell Up About (a simple salad with chickpeas and hearts of palm).

Plus, Brian's intros for each recipe are hilarious too. And there are little glossary entries called "WTF?" peppered throughout the book. For example, there's a "WTF is nutritional yeast?" and a "WTF is wakame?" Oh, and there's a whole chapter of cocktails. I'm making the Bloodbath this weekend (a Bloody Mary with adobo sauce!) and the Dirty Dudetini (gin, vermouth, and Brian's homemade Crazy Shit Vinegar) is on my to-make list.

See, don't you want to hang out with this dude? I'll be cooking from it again over the weekend. But until then, here's the recipe for Brian's Balls courtesy of the book's publisher.

My Balls

Here they are! For the whole planet to behold...My Balls! You can place them atop a pile of spaghetti or line them up in a hoagie roll, smother them with tomato sauce and your favorite vegan cheese, and bake for a killer ball-parm sando.

Makes 10 to 12 balls

4 ounces tempeh

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon minced fresh Italian parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 cup diced yellow onion

1/2 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to lube the
baking sheet and coat the balls

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a steamer basket, steam the tempeh for 25 minutes to soften it. Then let it cool. In a food processor, combine the walnuts, nutritional yeast, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, onion, Worcestershire, tomato paste, tamari, water, and oil, and process until you have a semi-moist meal.

In a bowl, crumble the steamed tempeh with your hands until there are no big chunks left. Then add the mixture from the food processor to the bowl, plus a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper, and mash it all together with your hands. You will now be able to form this mass into little balls. Make them just a bit smaller than beer-pong balls (depending on when and where you went to college, you may know them as Ping-Pong balls), about 12 inches in diameter.

Lube up a baking sheet with the oil, lay the balls on it, coat them with a little more oil, and bake for 30 minutes. My balls are now ready for consumption.

Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude ©2012 by Brian Patton. Published with permission of New World Library

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Natural House Of Wellness

Long before Memphis was home to a myriad of vegan-friendly restaurants (and even four places to get vegan cheese pizza!), Chef Bastet was making vegan food available in every way she could. As half of the former Vegan Sisters group, Bastet used to serve vegan lunches at Precious Cargo Coffeeshop and host vegan health lectures at Wild Oats (now it's a Whole Foods).

When that venture ended, she moved her talents to Java, Juice, & Jazz, where she served daily vegan plate lunches alongside the meat plates by Chef Gary. After that, Bastet and Gary launched Deja Vu Creole & Vegetarian Restaurant, a N'awlins-style diner with an awesome menu of vegan soul food. Bastet left Deja Vu, but it's still around, and Gary's still cooking Bastet's meat-free recipes. She's also run a vegan lunch delivery program out of her home and, most recently, a vegan catering company called OC Vegan Foods.

Now Bastet and her partner Nigel have settled into an adorable storefront at 3754 Park Avenue. Called the Natural House of Wellness, the store offers made-fresh-daily, grab-and-go vegan meals, desserts, herbs, candles, and other gift items:

Look how cute it is inside!

My co-worker Hannah and I recently stopped in during the lunch hour to pick up some food to bring back to the office. The grab-and-go specials change daily, but that day, the House of Wellness was offering this hearty, healthy plate of Stewed Lentils, Red and White Mixed Quinoa, and Sesame Kale:

I felt so very, very healthy after eating this! And the sesame kale may be the best kale preparation I've ever put in my mouth.

Besides offering meals, Bastet and Nigel also sell plenty of vegan snacks, including three flavors of popcorn seasoned with their own spice blends. I love this Green Goddess Popcorn! I'm not sure what spices are in the seasoning mix, but I know it has garlic, onion, and cayenne pepper. I think the green stuff is spirulina:

Since Bastet and Nigel started their catering company, OC Vegan Foods, they've been baking cinnamon rolls and these adorable mini-loaves of vegan breads. There's banana nut, chocolate almond, carrot raisin, and pumpkin pecan. They're sold at Whole Foods and the House of Wellness:

I stopped by the House today for a loaf of the Banana Nut Bread:

I split the loaf into two pieces so I'd only eat half and save half for later. But it was so moist and fresh that I just couldn't stop at half. I usually have amazing self-control, so that says something about how awesome this stuff is.

They also have classes on everything from reiki to awakening your inner lotus. They even offer something called an Herbal Medicine Womb Journey!

The Natural House of Wellness is located at 3754 Park Avenue. Check out their Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ringin' In the Spring

In case you were wondering who won the giveaway for the Skinny Bitch: Book of Vegan Swaps, that would be Dr. L. She was lucky commenter number 65. I forgot to announce that last night. Congrats Dr. L!

Today was the first day of spring (and Great American Meatout Day), and my friend Leslie, her kid Toya, and I celebrated in style. We held a little ritual honoring the Vernal Equinox (also known as Ostara) at Overton Park. We packed some candles, incense, sage, and a basket of picnic foods. We picked a little spot in a fairy-like circle of trees and spread out some blankets. Here's our little makeshift altar:

After a brief lighting of the candles (which wouldn't stay lit in the strong wind) and a meditation on the new season, we pulled out the picnic foods — Vegan Pimento Cheese Sandwiches, Tofu Deviled Eggy Bites, Cucumbers & Agave, and Strawberries:

The pimento cheese spread and the deviled eggs are both recipes from my cookbook. Eggs are traditionally associated with both Ostara and the Christian Easter, so we had tofu eggs instead. Leslie suggested the cucumbers drizzled with agave. Although she's vegetarian, she eats honey, and she said she loves cucumbers with honey. So we tried it with agave so I could eat it. Really fresh and tasty! The agave was also good with the strawberries.

Leslie made Earth Cakes, a crumble-topped muffin symbolizing the awakening of Mother Earth:

They weren't very sweet, but the bread was soft and the crumble topping was really yummy. They're traditionally served with ice cream to symbolize the melting snow that leads to spring, but we were afraid ice cream would melt in the 80-plus degree weather.

Here's Leslie and Toya!

And here I am with my cute little Earth Cake!

Happy Spring, y'all!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Practically Raw

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.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Owls Are Not What They Seem

For the past couple of months, I've had a new crush — FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. That's right. I'm takin' it back to the old school, Twin Peaks-style.

My friend Shara has been hosting Twin Peaks girl's night every Thursday. We gather at her house and watch two episodes of the David Lynch-directed cult classic. I missed out on the show when it first aired in 1991. I was 11 then, and I remember the show's opening theme. But that's about it. I'm guessing that opening theme was my cue to turn the channel because I'm sure I would have found the show to be weird and boring back then.

But now I love it! A dancing little person, a foreboding giant, a scandalous strip club, and creepy old Bob. Yes, please. "The owls are not what they seem" is a catchphrase I'll be using for life. We finished the series last Thursday, and of course we had to celebrate with a cherry pie Norma would be proud to serve at the Double R Diner. This is Isa and Terry's She's My Cherry Pie from Vegan Pie in the Sky:

And you can't have delicious pie without a cup of damn, fine coffee. Shara made us almond milk lattes in her new espresso machine:

Next Thursday, we're watching Fire Walk With Me, the 1992 prologue film to the Twin Peaks series. And then, we're on to the next series. Since we started girl's show night, we've watched The O.C., True Blood, Breaking Bad, and now Twin Peaks. Not sure what's next, but I doubt it will be as crazy as Twin Peaks. And I doubt it will feature any character as hot as Agent Cooper.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gettin' Crunk on Good Morning Memphis

Hey guys! Special Friday night post!

This morning, I cooked my Creole Steamed Sausages on Fox-13's Good Morning Memphis show. Check it out. There's an ad at the beginning. Sorry about that, but it's only a few seconds long. I don't know how to make it go away.

GMM: Vegan Cookbook:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Going Dutch

My partner Paul is half-Dutch. His mom lived in the Netherlands when she met his Air Force officer dad. Paul even went to a Dutch high school, but they moved to Tennessee in his senior year. His mom still speaks with a slight accent. And she curses in Dutch. When we visit his parents, she often makes the food she cooked back in Holland, and it's never vegan-friendly (although she will pull me out some veggies before adding meat juice).

When I saw a few Dutch recipes in The Healthy Voyager's Global Kitchen, I knew I wanted to make those as soon as possible. One is this Mouthwatering Waterzooi, a Dutch chicken soup:

"Zooien" means "to boil" in Dutch, and this soup is traditionally made by boiling chicken or fish with potatoes, leeks, and carrots. The broth is thickened with cream and an egg yolk. Sounds totally un-vegan, right?

Well, leave it to Carolyn Scott-Hamilton to make it vegan. The chicken is replaced with Gardein cutlets, and I used MimiCream for the vegan heavy cream. The egg yolk is replaced with a flax egg. And of course, the potatoes, leeks, and carrots are still there. It was amazing served with potato-rosemary bread and a side salad.

Paul's verdict? He's not vegan, but he tried the soup. He said it was good although he didn't recall eating waterzooi back in the Netherlands.

Oh, and my soup was one chicken cutlet short. I sat the four cutlets on a plate on the counter, and when I went to put them in the pot, one was mysteriously missing. It wasn't hard to find the culprit though. Just a few feet away was my kitty Polaris, guiltily licking his lips. He ate an entire Gardein cutlet! Little bastard.

For my local readers, tune in to Fox-13 at 9 a.m. on Friday morning to watch me cook Creole Steamed Sausages from my cookbook on Good Morning Memphis! Hopefully, I can find the segment online afterward and I'll link back to it in my next post.

And don't forget to enter my Skinny Bitch: Book of Vegan Swaps contest.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Bitch Is Back

Skinny Bitch changed my life. I was already vegan when my best friend Sheridan called me crying one night, going on and on about the torture of farmed animals she was reading about in Skinny Bitch. She told me she was giving up meat that night, and she did. That was several years ago. Now she's vegan. She also convinced me to read the book. I didn't think I needed to. I mean, I was already vegan, right?

But I was still eating crap — high fructose corn syrup, diet sodas, white bread. Skinny Bitch helped me rid those things from my life. I'm often bored by reading nutrition books, but Kim and Rory write like I talk. Their no-nonsense style and potty mouths made the book fun!

Well, now Kim Barnouin is back with a supermarket guide on how to find vegan alternatives to just about anything. Skinny Bitch: Book of Vegan Swaps is not a cookbook. In fact, there's only 10 recipes in the whole book.

Instead, this spiral-bound guide lists Kim's favorite vegan versions of common convenience foods. She lists her favorite brands with plenty of narrative and classic Skinny Bitch attitude. There's chapters on dairy alternatives (Tofutti cream cheese for Philadelphia cream cheese, Daiya for shredded cheese), egg and meat swaps (Ener-G egg replacer for baking, Yves ground round for beef, etc.), dry goods (Amy's Organics is listed as "healthiest" soup swap and Dr. McDougall's Baked Ramen is suggested in place of Top Ramen) and even dessert and baking swaps (Liz Lovely tops her list for cookie swaps!).

There's also chapters on what to eat at the airport (Wolfgang Puck Express, salads from Sbarro) and ideas for weekend snacks (Tings, anyone?). Plus, there's a list of Kim's favorite recipes, like these Peanut Seitan Noodles:

These whole wheat noodles were coated with a sesame-peanut sauce and mixed with snow peas, carrots, cucumbers, and seitan. Delicious! I wish the book had more than 10 recipes, but I know it's intended to be a supermarket guide rather than a cookbook.

Experienced vegans probably don't have much use for this book since we all know the best hummus and the best vegan cheese. But this advice would be invaluable to a new vegan trying to navigate the world of cruelty-free goods. My only concern: New products are constantly being introduced in the vegan food world (Remember life before Daiya? Yea, those were dark days of trying every trick in the book to melt Vegan Rella.) This book has the potential to become dated quickly, so I hope Kim is prepared to frequently release updated editions.

That being said, this book is perfect for the here and now. And I have an extra copy that I'd like to give away to one lucky reader (if you're an old vegan, save it to give to the next new vegan you meet). Here's how to win:
1. Leave a comment letting me know your favorite vegan food product.
2. "Like" Vegan Crunk on Facebook and let me know about it in a separate comment.
3. Tweet a link to the giveaway and make sure to tag me @biancaphillips. Then leave a comment letting me know you tweeted.
Remember, you only need to enter once for a chance to win and you can do so by simply leaving a comment (see #1). Any extra entries for Facebook likes and Twitter mentions just help your chances, but if you're not on FB or Twitter, don't sweat it. I'll randomly select a winner on Monday night. Oh, and don't forget to leave your email address in a comment if you're not easily contactable through a blog.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Smoothie Rainbows!

In my magical world, puppies poop glitter, luck dragons hang out with unicorns, and rainbows are made of different fruit-flavored smoothies that you can drink with a straw. Yea, I know I'm dreaming when it comes to sparkly dog crap (and I'll admit that luck dragons might not be real). But you really can make a rainbow of smoothies!

When I was offered a copy of What Color Is Your Smoothie? to review, I jumped at the chance. I often drink fruit smoothies before my daily workouts since I'm not that fond of eating fruit whole. But I tend to fall into smoothie ruts, and more often than not, I find myself drinking the same old banana-nut butter smoothie.

This book is filled with more than 300 smoothie recipes, all arranged in chapters by color. There's an orange chapter, a green chapter, a red chapter, a blue one, and several more. Most chapters feature a mix of fruit smoothies, like a traditional blueberry smoothie (blueberries and almond milk) or the crazy cauliflower-garlic smoothie (cauliflower, garlic, Greek yogurt). Most recipes are vegan, but some, like the above-mentioned savory smoothie call for dairy ingredients that are easy to sub (if you are lucky enough to live in a town where So Delicious' Greek-style coconut yogurt is sold ... I'm not).

First I tried the Blue Banana Berry Smoothie, made with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, a banana, and kefir:

I chose this because I've been dying for an excuse to shell out $5 on a bottle of So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk (a vegan version of kefir). I really enjoyed the yogurt flavor the kefir gave the smoothie. All of recipes in this book call for ice, but many non-Vitamix blenders (like mine) just don't do ice. So I substituted frozen fruit, and it worked just fine.

Tonight, I made this Peach Cobbler Smoothie with frozen peaches, granola, cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger, and almond milk:

Wow! It tasted a lot like peach cobbler, thanks to the blended granola and the spices. This kept me full for my one-hour bike ride around town after work. And it has way less calories than real pie! Next time, I'll use a little less cloves. But other than that, perfect!

I know I'll be referencing this book in the warm spring and summer months ahead, when a mid-afternoon smoothie is the most refreshing treat imaginable before my workout. I might even get brave and venture into the world of savory smoothies. Blazing Broccoli Smoothie, anyone? (That's really in the book!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Around the World in 150 Vegan Meals

Besides a quick visit to Mexico on a cruise in 2010, I've never left the States. I'd like to, but I'm cheap and I'd rather spend my money on groceries and cat food than plane tickets. Okay, more like "I'm poor and I have to spend my money on groceries and cat food," but when I tell myself I like buying those things, it makes budgeting easier.

When I do travel around the States, the entire focus of my trip is food. That's all I really care about. Museums and tourist attractions and mountains and parks are neat, but food is better. Thankfully, I can get my food-fueled tour of the globe through Carolyn Scott-Hamilton's new cookbook, The Healthy Voyager's Global Kitchen.

Carolyn, author of the Healthy Voyager blog and travel TV show, has done all the traveling I can't afford to do, and she's veganized her favorite recipes from the road. In fact, I had the pleasure of dining with Carolyn and her partner at Imagine Vegan Cafe when she was in Memphis in January for a booksigning. I also interviewed her for the newspaper I write for, the Memphis Flyer. You can read that story here.

This morning, I took a quick jaunt to the U.K. with these Scrumptious Scones from Global Kitchen:

These soft biscuity scones are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. They're lightly sweetened and flecked with dried cranberries. I spread mine with apricot jam and washed them down with a cup of Earl Gray:

I'm not a hot tea drinker, but you can't have scones without tea! And if I'm gonna drink tea, I prefer Earl Gray with a splash of almond milk and a drop or two of agave. This was perfect for washing down the delicate scones. I felt downright proper after eating this breakfast.

Global Kitchen takes readers through more than 20 countries and regions — India, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Columbia, the Middle East, Greece, Italy, France, and even the old U.S.A. Since I doubt I'll be traveling to any of those places soon (well, except the U.S.A.), I plan to visit many of them through Carolyn's cookbook.

Next up: Better with Bechamel Macaroni and "Beef" from Egypt, Chana Masala with Savory Saffron Rice from India, Tofu Banh Mi from Vietnam, and Sweet Plantains and Garlic Yuca from Cuba. Also, stay tuned later this week for a special dish from the Netherlands.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Freezer Week Wrap-Up

For the past week, I've been eating as many meals as possible from my freezer. Before the week began, my freezer was crammed full of veggie burgers, vegan ice cream, frozen dinners, and individual portions of leftovers. I'm proud to say I've done a pretty good job of clearing out the old icebox. It's not empty by any means, but what's left has a little breathing room.

Here are a few meals that I've made from my freezer over the past few days. On Thursday, I made a Kung Pao Stir-Fry using my last package of Vegetarian Plus Vegan Kung Pao Chicken and some frozen stir-fry veggies from Kroger:

Not too shabby for a freezer meal, huh? The vegan chicken is a soy-based faux meat that was sent to me for review back in October. But since they sent me two boxes of the same thing, I still had one left.

On Friday, I made Spaghetti with Vegan Meat Sauce using some leftover frozen homemade marinara sauce, a half-empty package of Boca Ground Crumbles, and a mostly empty package of Morningstar Farms Crumbles:

Granted, there was more "meat" than sauce, but I'm okay with that. A girl's gotta get her protein, right?

On Saturday, I made a Chicken Quesadilla using one lone frozen Food For Life Brown Rice Tortilla, a Boca Chick'n Patty, and some Daiya cheddar (not from the freezer):

Served alongside some Mexican-spiced kale seasoned with cumin, chili powder, garlic, and onion power, this was an excellent way to start a Saturday night. I only wish I had more frozen tortillas so I could use my last Boca Chick'n patty for another one!

I considered sharing an "after" picture of my cleaned-out freezer, but it still looks pretty cramped to the naked eye. You guys probably wouldn't believe that I'd eaten too much out of it if I showed you. But trust me. It's an improvement. Before, the freezer was packed so full, you couldn't move things around to find the stuff lurking in the back. Now, I can easily locate that ages-old package of puff pastry that's pushed to the back of freezer. Not that I need it for anything, and it's probably freezer burnt anyway. Guess I have a little more cleaning to do.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So Delicious Goes Nuts!

When I shared a picture of my overstuffed freezer a few days ago, a few commenters asked how I could hoard all that ice cream without gobbling it up right away. Well, I don't typically buy more than one pint at a time, but my freezer is currently stocked with free pints of the new So Delicious Almond Milk Ice Cream!

So Delicious (a Turtle Mountain brand) has been making their bomb-ass coconut milk ice cream for some time, but now they're branching out into the wonderful world of almond milk. When they asked me to review their new almond milks, I had no clue they were also sending lots and lots of ice cream. Two giant coolers packed with dry ice arrived at my office a few weeks ago. Best review samples ever!

So Delicious sent me their new Almond Milk ice creams in Mocha Almond Fudge, Butter Pecan, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Cherry Amaretto:

As part of the tough research, I had to sample each of these flavors. Being a blogger is hard work. I'm tellin' ya. After countless hours of examining the nuances of every flavor, I have to say, So Delicious has really outdone themselves. I love their coconut milk ice creams, but I do believe these are better. Maybe I just like almond milk better than coconut milk, but these seem a tad creamier. And less coconutty. Nothing wrong with coconut, but I appreciate the neutral flavor of the almond milk.

As if five pints weren't enough, So Delicious also sent me a box of their Almond Milk Mocha Almond Fudge Minis:

As much as I love eating ice cream in a bowl, I love it way more in nutty chocolate-covered bar-on-a-stick form. These bars are pure magic, folks. Pure magic.

But a girl cannot live on ice cream alone. So Delicious has also introduced a new line of almond milks:

Both the vanilla and the original flavors were smooth and creamy with just the right amount of thickness. Dare I say this stuff is better than So Delicious' coconut milk? In fact, I believe this may be the best almond milk I've tried. And I've tried lots. It was definitely the perfect dipper for this vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookie!

My only complaint with the milk is that it doesn't have much calcium. I prefer my plant milks fortified with at least 30 percent of the RDA for calcium. This milk has 10 percent of the RDA for calcium. But it does have five grams of protein per serving, and that's a plus. So if you see the new So Delicious almond milk products at a health food store near you, buy them. I promise it'll be worth your while.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kettle Cuisine Frozen Soups

Remember my crammed full freezer? If not, you can see a picture here. Yes, I'm a food hoarder, and that is part (well, most) of the problem. But in the past few weeks, I've been the lucky recipient of several vegan frozen food items to review, and those have been taking up some freezer space as well.

For example, Kettle Cuisine sent me six boxes of their new vegan, gluten-free soups! They're not a totally vegan company, but they have three vegan soups in their new line, so they sent me two each of their Three Bean Chili, Tomato Soup with Garden Vegetables, and Roasted Vegetable Soup:

I don't typically buy frozen, convenience foods. It isn't that I don't like them. It's just that my freezer is always packed with individual lunch-sized frozen portions of soups and stews that I make at home. For someone who cooks as often as I do, frozen meals aren't usually worth the higher price. I'd rather be cooking that doing just about anything else, but not everyone enjoys spending every spare moment in the kitchen. For those people, all-natural, frozen meals like these Kettle Cuisine soups make sense.

I tried the Roasted Vegetable Soup on one of those work days when I was too busy to go home for lunch:

Although I typically find frozen food portion sizes to be too small, this bowl was quite substantial. And the ingredients are so natural — just water, potatoes, onions, carrots, savoy cabbage, celery, leeks, olive oil, parsley, garlic, sea salt, and spices. That's it!

Next up, I tried the Three Bean Chili, which I spooned over some tater tots and topped with Daiya cheese:

Amazing! This hearty chili is packed with pinto, black, and chili beans, and it's loaded with peppers, corn, and garlic. I'm sure the chili would have been pretty filling on its own, but I was stuffed after eating this on top of tots. Of course, I also had a salad on the side.

Finally, I tried the Tomato Soup with Garden Vegetables for lunch today, alongside a Grilled Daiya Cheese Sandwich:

Don't get me wrong. I love a good, creamy tomato soup as much as the next girl. But I'll always choose chunky over creamy when given the choice. I loved the large bits of zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and yellow wax beans in this soup.

While I might not typically buy frozen foods, I'll admit that it's nice to have them on hand for emergencies. And you really can't beat a frozen meal as all-natural as these Kettle Cuisine soups. All are gluten-free, preservative-free, MSG-free, and free of artificial colors and flavors. As far as I can tell, there's no difference than if I made soup at home and froze the leftovers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chili Cheese Dog Time!

Since it's Freezer Clean-Out Week, I've been scavanging through my overstuffed freezer for random odds and ends to combine for meals. I found an open package of three Smart Dogs and storage container filled with a half-cup of chili (both leftover from chili dogs at my Me-Maw's last Halloween). I also found whole wheat hot dog buns and about a fourth of a package of Daiya mozzarella. And you know what that means, right? Chili Cheese Dog!

I would typically top my dog with Daiya cheddar, but the mozzarella needed to be used. And it was equally delicious!

Of course, that's a pretty meaty, processed dish there. So I balanced the meal with a big ole salad topped with half of a frozen Southwest Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burger from Crazy Sexy Diet.

I made a big batch of these hearty burgers during my cleanse in January, and I ended up having to freeze a few patties that I couldn't finish. The patties were excellent enjoyed as burgers back then, but they were also awesome crumbled over this salad.

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Interupt This Freezer Clean-Out Week For ...

... a breakfast sandwich! Last night, I announced that I'd mostly be eating from my freezer this week in an effort to clean out all the half-eaten bags of frozen veggies and leftover marinara and seitan.

And I'm definitely doing that. But today's freezer food pics consisted of all leftovers that you've seen before — more Dijon-Pecan Seitan and Cornbread Dressin' from yesterday. And more Mexicali Chili and cornbread from Thursday night. So rather than bore you with more of the same, look at what I had for breakfast! This wasn't from the freezer at all. It's the Bacon & Egg Breakfast Sandwich from Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites:

I rarely ever make the same dish twice, but this is the kind of breakfast that will go into heavy rotation. It's unlike any breakfast sandwich I've made before. The tofu is stuffed with vegan bacon bits, dipped into an eggy flavored oil seasoned with black salt and nutritional yeast, and fried. It's stuffed into an English muffin spread with a homemade chive and dill-seasoned vegan cream cheese spread. Best thing ever!

Back on Freezer Clean-Out Week, Katie of Vegan Noms (hey, girl!) asked if I'd post a "before" picture of my freezer. Be warned that there are some very non-vegan items on the top shelf that belong to my very non-vegan partner/housemate Paul:

Aside from a few frozen pizzas and bags of chicken nuggets, most of the food filling this freezer belongs to me (and yes, that is a New Kids on the Block lunchbox on top!). As you can see, I have my work cut out for me this week. I will make a dent in it. I will.