Thursday, June 28, 2012

Be An Oatmeal Star!

Got a crazy awesome oatmeal recipe? I do! I give to you, Savory Marmite Oats:

Don't knock it until you've tried it, folks. I know it sounds weird, but if you're a fan of savory oats, you're gonna love this. One morning, I was out of breakfast options (except for oats), and I was craving something savory. Rather than make my usual noochy oats, I decided to stir in some Marmite. Here's the recipe.

Savory Marmite Oats
Serves 1
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup water
1 tsp. Marmite
1 tsp. flax oil
1 Tbsp. Parma or nutritional yeast

Prepare the oats according to the package directions. I prefer to cook mine in the microwave. I just mix the oats and water together in a big ol' measuring cup and heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until thick.
Stir in the Marmite and flax oil. Top with Parma or nutritional yeast. Eat.

See how easy!! Now, my recipe might not win contests or anything, but it's pretty damn good. Speaking of oatmeal contests, Bob's Red Mill is giving you a chance to become an oatmeal star in its second annual "Spar for the Spurtle" contest.

Home cooks and pro chefs alike are invited to submit videos of themselves demonstrating a unique oatmeal recipe using Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats. Three finalists will be flown to Portland for a live cook-off in August! The winner of that cook-off will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Scotland and $2,500 cash to help rep the Bob's Red Mill team in the 19th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Contest. Think you have what it takes? Check out the Spar for the Spurtle website for details. The deadline to submit your video is July 20th.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cold Potato

Everyone's always like, "Hot potato, hot potato." But what about "cold potato"? I guess most potato dishes aren't all that tasty served cold (although I'll be the first only to admit that cold French fries are kinda awesome ... and let us not forget potato salad). There is, however, one more potato dish that is supposed to be served cold! Vichyssoise!

This thick, cold potato soup has mysterious origins, but most tend to believe it was invented by a chef at the Ritz Carlton in New York City in the early 1900s. But it really came to popularity in the 1950s. I heard a mention of Vichyssoise on Mad Men recently, and that reminded me that I absolutely had to veganize this for my new "Vegan Through the Ages" cookbook, where I'll be veganizing trendy food from decade's past. This creamy, potato-leek soup was perfect for today's 100-degree temps.

I served my soup with another recipe I created for my cookbook — Wartime Wheat Bread:

I based this off several 1940s-era recipes for homemade loaves. It's a fairly simple loaf made with whole wheat pastry flour and quick-rise yeast, which seems to have been popular in those days.

Okay, so now time for an awesome announcement! I've been chosen to speak again at the second bi-annual Vida Vegan Con food blogger's convention in Portland! It's scheduled for May 24th-26th at the Portland Art Museum, and tickets go on sale Sunday, July 1st. Check out the Vida Vegan Con website for details, but if you plan on going, you'll want to get your ticket quickly. The event sold out last year.

There really are no words to express how awesome it is to be in the company of fellow food bloggers in the vegan mecca that is Portland. I count last year's event as one of the top five highlights of my life. You can check out my old posts on VCC here, here, and here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Healthy Surprise Giveaway!

Remember last week's post about Healthy Surprise? Well, in case you missed it, Healthy Surprise is a vegan company that mails monthly boxes filled with healthy snacks to their subscribers. You can choose between varying sizes ranging from the Starter Box ($33, feeds 1 to 3 people), the Healthy Box ($66, feeds 2 to 6 people), to larger sizes for corporate groups and such.

Here's a sneak peek at what came in the Healthy Box they sent me to review! Look at all these raw snacks! And the few that aren't raw are still really freakin' healthy!

Vegan Crunk readers can get $5 off their order using the code "VEGAN CRUNK" at checkout. I announced that last week too. But now, Healthy Surprise wants to giveaway a Starter Box to one lucky reader!

To enter once, all you have to do is leave a comment letting me know your favorite healthy snack. But for extra chances, do the following and leave SEPARATE comments telling me you did. Also, be sure and leave an e-mail address in your comment if yours isn't accessible through a blog or a Blogger or Wordpress profile. That's the only way I can contact you if you win! Without a way to contact you, I'll have to choose somebody else (and that would suck!)

Here's additional ways to enter:
1. "Like" Vegan Crunk on Facebook and let me know about it in a separate comment.
2. Tweet this: "Win a Healthy Surprise box of vegan snacks at Vegan Crunk:" Make sure to tag me @biancaphillips. Then leave another comment letting me know you tweeted.

3. Follow me on Twitter @biancaphillips. Then leave yet another comment letting me know you did.
That's FOUR chances to win, and that means you can leave up to FOUR separate comments. But only one comment is necessary for one chance. I'll randomly select a winner using on Sunday night. Good luck!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Memphis Plant-Based Food Fest (Day 2)

Yesterday, I blogged about the first day at Memphis' first annual Plant-Based Food Festival at TO Fuller State Park, so check out that post to get caught up if you missed out. Tonight, I'm sharing pictures from Saturday (Day 2).

I had another meeting that morning, so I missed the early activities. I arrived just in time for my 4 p.m. cooking demo. I made BBQ Tempeh & Carrot Sliders with Creamy Poppyseed Coleslaw (both are recipes from my very-soon-to-be-released cookbook, Cookin' Crunk). I forgot to ask anyone to take photos with my iPhone, but my friend Vaughan used his camera. Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't so good. But you get the idea:

I also failed to take any photos of the sliders since they were all gobbled up so quickly. I even made my own vegan slider buns using an altered version of this recipe. I looked all over and couldn't find storebought vegan slider buns (all contained eggs for some reason) so I had to make my own.

After my demo, I caught a funny and informative lecture about live foods from Brother Franco, a legendary Memphis vegan health guru. Next, I watched Chef Nigel's cooking demo. He made these delicious Sauteed Veggie Sandwiches with peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomato, and vegan mayo. I didn't photograph those, but next up was his Curried Faux Goat Wrap:

Yes, I said "goat." Since Nigel is from Jamaica, he grew up eating goat. So he calls this wrap "goat" even though it's made with curried potatoes, carrots, and TVP. The TVP is the large chunk size, so it could be the same shape and texture as goat. I wouldn't know. It could also pass for chicken. Either way, this wrap was out-of-this-world!

And then I grabbed some quick dinner from Imagine Vegan Cafe's booth. They were selling a few quick grab-and-go items from their regular menu, like this Eggless Egg Salad Sandwich:

I just love this sandwich! They sell it in the restaurant too. It's made from chickpeas and vegan mayo, and it's one of the few gluten-free items on their menu (eaten without the bread, of course!). Not that I care about gluten-free, but it's nice that there's a few options for the xgfx vegans.

By this time, the festival was drawing to a close. I ate my sandwich and watched this reggae band before heading home for the evening.

I really hope everything works out for the festival to go on again next year!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Memphis Plant-Based Food Fest (Day 1)

This past weekend marked the debut of what will hopefully become an annual event — the Memphis Plant-Based Food Festival. Chefs Bastet and Nigel, a vegan husband-and-wife team who have been on the Memphis vegan scene for years and years, pulled the two-day vegan fair together. It was, by all accounts, a huge success!

It took place at T.O. Fuller State Park in South Memphis, which, with its fast food joints and mom-and-pop wing shops, isn't exactly known as a vegan-friendly area of town. But vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious made the drive to the scenic park for cooking demos, lectures, and shopping from vendors. I hosted a demo on Saturday, but tonight I want to share pics from Friday afternoon. I'll post the Saturday pics in a day 2 post tomorrow night.

Although the fest went all day on Friday, I couldn't make it until work let out at 5 p.m. I was famished, so I stopped by Balewa's Live Burgers food truck for a Raw Mushroom Burger on Ezekial Bread with Tortilla Chips and Sprout Salad (not pictured):

Balewa used to have a place in Midtown selling his delicious raw burgers, but he's currently in transition. He says he's opening a new place downtown soon, which is perfect for me because it's close to the office. The food truck he was serving out of over the weekend was just for the event, although I wish he'd start a mobile business for real.

After I ate my dinner, I headed inside the clubhouse to catch Chef Nigel's cooking demonstration:

Nigel is originally from Jamaica, and he has an adorable accent. He's also quite the cook. He made Curried Tofu Scramble and Coucous with Sunflower Sprouts. And he was pretty generous with the samples! Look how much food is on that plate:

Then it was time for a little shopping. There were several vendors peddling everything from incense and African black soap to homemade crocheted earrings and popcorn:

Bastet and Nigel's store — The Natural House of Wellness — had a booth with all sorts of goodies, including their OC Vegan Foods line of seasoned popcorns. I've had their Green Goddess popcorn before, and it was AMAZING. But I decided to go with something different, Garlic Lovers Popcorn!

Y'all, if you like garlic like I like garlic (I sometimes eat it raw ... yes, I know that's crazy), this popcorn is for you. It's so garlicky, it's almost spicy! I love it, but I know not to get too close to anyone after eating it.

See you again tomorrow with pics from my cooking demo and other events (and food) from Saturday at the fest.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fried Rice Goes Indian

I've been on a fried rice kick lately. In the past month, I've ordered veggie fried rice takeout twice, and I rarely ever order takeout. When I do, I tend to go for the saucy fried tofu and white rice dishes. But here lately, I've just been craving that salty, greasy, MSG-laden fried rice.

Of course, fried rice doesn't have to be salty, greasy, and loaded with MSG (although it tastes so sinfully delicious when it is ... hey, this is coming from a girl who had chocolate cake for dinner). Anyway, it's nice when I can make guilt-free fried rice at home because I don't have to feel like a blob after eating it. I love to eat junk, but I have major food guilt afterward.

When I saw Colleen Patrick Goudreau's Indian Fried Rice recipe in the Vegan's Daily Companion, I knew I had to try it. It's like my two current fave things — Indian food and fried rice — had a baby!

Made with brown rice and only fried in a tablespoon of oil, this rice is something you won't have to feel guilty for eating. It's seasoned with cumin seeds. Can you believe I just recently shelled out the money for these? Before, when recipes called for cumin seeds, I'd just sub ground cumin because I was too cheap to buy the whole seeds, and I figured they'd taste the same. But no way! The cumin flavor from roasting the whole seeds is soooooooo much better!

Anyway, the seeds, turmeric, and some garam masala (I make my own from scratch) are where the Indian flavor comes from. Plus, it's loaded with veggies: cauliflower, red bell pepper, peas.  I served the rice with some Indian-spiced lentils.

What food kick have you been on lately?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fruity and Nutty

A few weeks back, I was offered samples of Orchard Bar, an all-natural fruit and nut bar, in five flavors:

I often eat bars before my workouts, especially when I'm working out in the afternoon. That space of time between lunch and dinner is just way too long, especially when you throw in a workout. So I decided to try the Pineapple Coconut & Macadamia Bar before an afternoon run:

I love both coconut and macadamia, and pineapple is pretty decent too. I ripped the bar open, took a big bite, and my mouth was overwhelmed with sweetness. Too much sweetness. The large chunks of macadamia nuts were perfect, but I could barely taste the coconut over the cloyingly sweet pineapple. I checked out the ingredients only to learn that the bar contained not only fruit and fruit juice but evaporated cane syrup and tapioca syrup. I think the bars would have been just fine without the added sugars.

Despite my experience with the pineapple flavor, I'd hoped that the other bars wouldn't be so over-the-top sweet. And you know what? The other flavors were all much better. All seemed a tad too sweet for my tastes (and I'm a sugar lover, y'all), but none-so-much as the pineapple flavor. This Strawberry Raspberry & Walnut Bar was much, much tastier. Look at my kitty Gelfling in the background!

The Blueberry Pomegranate & Almond flavor was probably my favorite. I think the natural tang of the pomegranate helps to cut the sweetness.

The best thing about these bars are the nuts. They're in huge chunks, so you feel like you're getting some real substance. They're also a great source of antioxidants, protein, and omega-3s. Plus, they're allergen-free and 60% organic.

My advice: Try these bars, but unless you love super-rich sweetness, avoid the pineapple flavor. Stick with berries, and you'll be just fine.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not-So-Raw Food Detox

When I was offered a review copy of Ulrika Davidson's new Raw Food Detox cookbook, I figured it would be loaded with wholesome, totally raw recipes. I need more raw cookbooks in my life. Sure, I consider myself a junk food vegan at times, but I like to balance out my naughty eating with raw food every once in awhile. On occasion (usually in January), I get all crazy and go on a raw cleanse.

But I was surprised when Davidson's full-color book arrived. Sure, there are occasional raw recipes, like her Currant and Almond Milk Smoothie (on my must-try list!) and her Sweet Potato Pie with Guacamole and Tomatoes (the sweet potato crust is dehydrated). But the majority of the recipes in Raw Food Detox aren't raw at all.

There are recipes for Rice Salad (made with cooked brown and wild rice and fried broccoli), Fruity Quinoa Salad with Mint Pesto (made with cooked quinoa), and Falafel Lettuce Wraps (made with fried chickpea falafel). I mean, all of that sounds delicious and all, and the glossy pictures of these dishes are mouth-watering. But that's not what I'd consider raw. Also, many of the recipes contain cheese, like feta, goat cheese, and halloumi. Maybe the book should have been called Whole Food Detox or Healthy Food Detox.

In her introduction, Davidson says that she includes boiled legumes, rice, quinoa, roasted root veggies, and cheese in her mostly raw diet because she thinks some food tastes better when boiled, baked, or roasted at temperatures higher than the 107 degrees that rigid raw foodists swear by. And that's cool. I totally agree with that (except the cheese part). Just call your book something else, so it's not misleading.

Anyway, I'd hoped to find one raw recipe to make for this review. I had my sights set on a couple, but I just kept coming back to the scrumptious-looking picture for Rice Noodles with Coconut Milk. So that's what I made:

With its cooked broccoli, baby corn, snap peas, carrots, onions, garlic and boiled rice noodles, this dish was far from raw. But it was still delicious as all hell. The coconut milk is seasoned with ginger and red curry paste, which is really one of the best combos on earth. Plus, after I did some calculations, I found out that this dish is extremely low in calories. Bonus! I served this with some bok choy sauteed with olive oil, soy sauce, mirin, and sriracha.

Would I recommend Raw Food Detox? Sure, if you're not actually looking for raw food. The photos are brilliant, and the dishes are all uber-healthy. Those that contain cheese can easily be made vegan by leaving it out or substituting a simple tofu feta. But if you're looking for a totally raw book, this isn't it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Healthy Surprise!

I'm a snacker. I rigidly plan all of my meals (I can tell you what I'll be eating for dinner on Friday or lunch on Saturday!) because I'm OCD as hell, but I like to keep my snacks a little spontaneous. I mean, I have planned snacking times (11 a.m.-ish and 2 to 4-ish), but I like to have choices when those times arrive. So maybe that's not totally spontaneous, but for me, that's pretty wild.

I keep a variety of snacks — vegan Chex Mix, almonds, crackers, nut mixes, etc. — on my desk at work since that's generally where I am at when snack time comes. So imagine my joy when Healthy Surprise, a vegan company that mails monthly boxes filled with healthy snacks to their subscribers, offered me a review box! Normally, Healthy Surprise sells subscriptions in varying amounts for different sized monthly snack boxes. The size I was offered — the Healthy size — goes for $66 a month and feeds two to six people, but a smaller option — the Starter — is available for $33 a month and feeds one to three people.

It took a few days to arrive, but I eagerly ripped it open when it finally got here. As you can see, Mr. Akasha was also excited to see the box's surprise contents:

Now, I knew the contents would be healthy snacks, but I wasn't prepared for just how healthy they'd be. I figured there'd be lots of "healthy" vegan snacks, stuff like all-natural chips or seitan jerky. I love that stuff, but it's really not health food. Instead, the Healthy Surprise sampler was loaded with mostly raw snacks! There were only two cooked snacks, and the rest were totally raw! Check it out:

There's two bags each of Gone Nuts! Raw and Sprouted Nut Blends in Thai Lemon Curry and Pesto Spinach, one bag of Hail Merry Raw Orange Rosemary Pecans, a bag of Go Raw Pizza Flax Snax, a Two Moms in the Raw Cranberry Nut Bar, an Oskri Coconut Cherry Bar, a package of Happy Hemp seeds, a package of Bare Fruits Dried Granny Smith Apples, a bag of Skinny Crisps baked Cinnamon Crisps, and two little bags of Home Free Mini Crunchy Vanilla Cookies.

I've had the box for over a week now, and I'm slowly working my way through. I'm also a snack hoarder, so I like to hold on to things as long as I can. That means I'll only open one package at a time. I first tried the Pizza Flax Snax, a crispy raw cracker that really tastes like pizza. Look how cute!

Then I tore into the Two Moms in the Raw Cranberry Nut Bar, which made the perfect fruity, nutty snack before my morning run one day. I love a bar that's only sweetened with fruit and no added sugars:

One afternoon, I brought along a bag of the Home Free Vanilla Cookies on a car ride across town. They were like crispy little shortbread cookies, sweetened with only evaporated cane juice and fruit juice. I've been keeping a bag of the Gone Nuts! Spinach Pesto Nuts in my purse for emergency snacking. The salty, savory nuts are generously coated in pesto seasoning, and they have saved me from hunger more than a few times already.

I'd love to be able to afford my own monthly subscription, but I can't even afford cable! But for those of you who have a little extra cash to plop down on monthly snacks, this box is so worth it. Raw snacks are not cheap. That's just common vegan knowledge. Had I purchased these items online individually, the total would probably be more than $66. If you'd like to subscribe, Healthy Surprise is offering a special deal to Vegan Crunk readers. Head over to their website to subscribe and enter the code "VEGANCRUNK" (all one word) at checkout to receive a $5 off discount off every Healthy Surprise purchase!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Breakfast

For the past few years, we've grilled out at my parents' house every Father's Day, but this year, my parents decided to shake things up and do breakfast instead. There aren't many vegan breakfast options in Jonesboro (where they live), so they made the trip to Memphis to eat at Brother Juniper's, a locally famous vegan-friendly brunch spot.

Now I've blogged about Brother Juniper's before, so if you've heard this, sorry! But I have a lot of new readers, and they should know about the awesomeness that is Brother Juniper's. Plus, they should know about the awesomeness that is Papa Crunk. Here we are waiting for our table:

This place is sooooo popular that we waited for one hour for a table! We thought we'd beat the religious folk by arriving before church let out, but apparently, everyone else had the same idea. When we FINALLY got our table, our food came pretty quickly. And as always, it was so worth the wait! I got my usual — Fahim's Special (scrambled tofu with green and red peppers, green onions, tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, kalamata olives, and a special dressing):

Brother Juniper's tofu scramble is unlike any other I've had before. It's those whole kalamata olives, huge portabella slices, and the secret vinaigrette-based sauce that make all the difference. I'm really not sure why I don't add kalamata olives to my scramble every time! The Fahim's Special comes with at least a pound of tofu scramble (I have serious leftovers!), plus multigrain toast, homemade jam, and home fries. Check these out!

The home fries are always perfectly super-crisp. They must use some kind of garlic salt because they're gloriously garlicky. I smothered mine in Brother Juniper's signature Garlic Habanero sauce after snapping this picture.

My mom always orders Fahim's Special too. My daddy eats meat, so he got a big ole plate biscuits & gravy, ham, scrambled eggs, and pancakes. My partner Paul ordered the same. Excuse the meat in this picture, but I had to snap one of him stuffing his face with a pancake!

Papa Crunk is awesome! He's a badass biker, as you can see by his choice of attire. But he's not some hard-edged scary biker (though he might not want me telling you that!). Instead, he's as kind as can be, always going out of his way to do favors for people whether he really feels like it or not. He's even helping me buy my first house by paying the down payment! I've always known that I have the best parents in the world. They were always the cool parents who didn't set too many rules and allowed me to have plenty of independence while still being great parents. I know parents are the luck of the draw, but I hit the jackpot with mine. Anyway, you're the best daddy ever, Papa Crunk!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

If You Don't Eat Your Rice Pudding ...

... you won't get a Cookin' Crunk cookbook update! Kidding. I'm gonna give you an update whether you want it eat your pudding or not. I finally got to see the inside design layout for Cookin' Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South, and it looks amazing. The font is sort of funky western rustic, and there's all these classic Southern-looking photos. It's so much better than I could have ever dreamed! I mean, I knew those Book Pub Co folks would do a great job, but this is perfect! It's so rewarding to finally see years and years of work coming together.

The book SHOULD hit stands by mid-August, but you can go ahead and pre-order on Amazon here if you'd like. They don't have the final cover image up on Amazon yet, but it should be there soon. Yea!!! I didn't even know it was on Amazon yet until Joni Newman (Just the Food blogger and author of awesome cookbooks like 500 Vegan Recipes and the Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet) told me on Facebook today.

Now about that pudding. I rarely eat sweets for breakfast. I'm a savory morning gal, but for some reason, I've been craving rice pudding. Now, I've probably only eaten rice pudding once in my life, so I'm not sure where this craving came from. But I needed creamy, sweet brown rice, stat. I found this recipe from Happy Herbivore.

It's brown rice cooked with plant milk (I used flax milk), raisins, cinnamon, and a dash of maple syrup. The mixture is thickened with a little cornstarch. Wow! This was a totally dreamy way to start my morning. The love chewing into the little bits of rice with each bite of creamy pudding. I only wish I had more for tomorrow's breakfast.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hamburger Spring Rolls!

Yea, that sounds crazy ... like something only a stoner would dream up. And maybe Ellen and Portia's personal chef Roberto Martin is a stoner. Or maybe not. Who cares? What matters is the guy's creative as all hell. When I was flipping through his Cooking for Carnivores cookbook, I stumbled on a recipe for Hamburger Spring Rolls.

I'm an adventurous eater. I'll eat just about anything so long as it's vegan and doesn't contain licorice. And I'm a sucker for that weird rice paper roll wrapper texture. So I whipped up Martin's recipe and voila:

Y'all, the filling for these is out of this world good. It's veggie bacon (I used crumbled tempeh bacon, but the recipe also suggests cooked and crumbled packaged veggie bacon), chopped pickles, lettuce, tomato, charred onions, avocado, and vegan Thousand Island dressing (I used Organicsville brand, but there's a recipe to make your own).

There's also a recipe for making the charred onions, which are really just caramelized red onions. So delicious! This combo really tastes like a hamburger. And it's even better stuffed inside a spring roll wrapper.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


In normal times, the tiny town of Manchester, Tennessee is not so vegan friendly. There's a Subway and a Taco Bell, and that's about it for vegan options. But for a few days every June, it turns into a vegan mecca as the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival rolls into town. This massive 4-day music fest plays host to more than 80,000 people — many of whom are hippies —so vegan food is a must. While there's plenty of meat sold too, vegan options are everywhere.

I spent last Thursday through Monday at the 11th annual Bonnaroo. It's just a four-hour drive from Memphis, so my co-worker Shara and I go every year with media passes. She writes a story for our newspaper (The Memphis Flyer), and I take the photos. That means I get to shoot from the photo pit right by the stage! This year, I shot Skrillex (YES!), Bad Brains, Flogging Molly, Ludacris, St. Vincent, Radiohead, The Shins, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But back to the food. The hands down highlight for me was this Fried Cauliflower from the Gypsy Queen Cuisine food truck out of Asheville, North Carolina:

These little florets were lightly fried and topped with the world's best vegan garlic aioli and tahini dressing. The man who served me these from the truck's window warned me they'd be delicious. And oh my god was he right!! I must figure out how to recreate this at home. The food truck was parked in Bonnaroo's Food Truck Oasis, an area where food trucks from all over park and vend. Gypsy Queen Cuisine only served vegan options, like falafel and hummus plates.

I also ate my fair share of samosas at Bonnaroo. There's a vendor who comes every year called Samosaman, and as the name implies, they only sell samosas. Several of them are vegan, but I chose the Roasted Tofu Samosa:

On Friday night after Radiohead, I stopped by an Indian food booth for a cheap bowl of dal and rice. But the vendor was about to close for the night, and they gave me Dal, Chana Masala, Rice, and two Samosas for $5! I may have just been famished, but at the time, this was some of the best Indian food I've ever tasted:

On Saturday afternoon, before catching the Bad Brains show, I stumbled upon a BBQ vendor selling Smoked Tofu Sandwiches. This tofu was soft and smoky and perfectly covered in sweet 'n' tangy sauce:

On my last night there, I was craving vegan pizza. But the vegan pizza vendor who's usually there (they serve Daiya) was nowhere to be found this year. The closest vegan food I could find was a falafel stand selling build-your-own Falafel Wraps:

This thing was ridiculous! They let you serve yourself from a buffet of toppings, so besides the five crispy falafel balls they gave me, I filled my wrap with everything they had — corn, stewed tomatoes, sprouts, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, rice, peppers, and balsamic dressing. Yes, it sounds like a weirdo combo. But it was damn delicious.

Other than the food and music, Bonnaroo provides plenty in the way of atmosphere. There's a ferris wheel and a psychedelic clock tower. There's carnival games and a glow-in-the-dark mushroom fountain where the dirty hippies bathe (at least the ones who are too cheap to pay for showers).

I have loads of music photos that I'd love to share, but I've not had time yet to sort through them all. I did look through my Skrillex pics though since that was my favorite Broo show of all time. The kid is a magic maker, y'all. Yo Skrill, drop it hard:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm Arrrrggghhh to Bonnarooooooo!

Yea, my pirate slang didn't even really make sense. But what I was trying to say is I'm headed out for my yearly trip to Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. It's a four-day hippie music fest camp-out on a gigantic farm in middle Tennessee.

Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are headlining, but I'm most excited about Skrillex, Bad Brains, Flogging Molly, and Alice-freakin'-Cooper!!

Bonnaroo is uber vegan-friendly, so I'll be posting all my fun cruelty-free festival eats when I return on Monday. Until then, I leave you with these cupcakes that I made for co-worker Louis' birthday last week. Arrrrrggghhh!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

1950s and 60s Fun!

First, an update on my soon-to-be-released vegan Southern cookbook — Cookin' Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South: The book should be going to press by the end of June or some time around there. So I'll definitely be keeping you posted. I saw the cover design last week! As soon as I can share that with y'all, I will. Yea!

Now, on to my next project: As you may have read in a previous post, I'm currently veganizing recipes from bygone eras for my next vegan cookbook. I've only scratched the surface, and I'm sure there will be all kinds of vegan jello molds and faux shrimp cocktails in my future (or not). But this week, I went with a few fun meal-starters that gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s.

I made English Muffin Pizzas, which I've been reading were popular little appetizers in the 1950s:

I feel kinda silly even including a recipe for something so simple, but I do include my recipe for homemade pizza sauce with it. And not to toot my own horn or anything, but my sauce is pretty much the bee's knees. I used Galaxy's new Vegan Mozzarella Shreds for these, but any shredded vegan cheese would do. I was super impressed with Galaxy's meltability.

I also developed an Iceberg Salad with Creamy French Dressing:

The French dressing is homemade, of course. And I must say that it's way better than any storebought French dressing I can remember. Just the right amount of creaminess, sweetness, and tang. Also atop the salad are cherry tomatoes (from the farmer's market), red bell peppers, red onions, and veggie bacon.


Before going vegan, I'd never heard of fava beans. But you learn about (and develop a taste for) all kinds of new foods when you go vegan. Many of them have ancient roots, like quinoa and falafel, but they're not foods omnis and even vegetarians in rural Arkansas grow up eating. But when I moved to the city and went vegan, my tastes opened up to all kinds of stuff, like fava beans.

My favorite use for the fava, also known as broad beans, is ful medames. It's an Egyptian dish of fava beans cooked with olive oil, parsley, onion, garlic, and lemon juice. There's a little Middle Eastern place, with a few African selections, down the road from my house that serves the best ful on the planet.

And while I can get a bowl of that for under $10, I thought it'd be fun to try at home. I found some dried, shelled fava beans at an international market, and then I found this recipe for Whole Fava Beans in a Spicy Tomato Sauce from Joshua Ploeg's In Search of the Lost Taste, a fun cookzine from Portland's Microcosm Publishing:

I cooked my fava beans a little too long, so I didn't really have whole favas in my stew. But it was still delicious. The mixture is a little different from the ful I'm used to because it's seasoned with cinnamon, coriander, and cloves. But it's still way delicious!

I served my stew with a slice of Sun-dried Tomato & Pesto bread from locally based Shoaf's Loaf Bakery and some sauteed green beans and garlic from the Memphis Farmers Market.

What new foods did you discover when you first went vegan?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Cheffie's Cafe

Who doesn't love a good build-your-own _____ (fill in the blank with sandwich, salad, burrito, etc.) cafe? I like to have things my way. As a vegan, I'm always making special requests wherever I go. But build-your-own diners allow me to make those requests without the guilt. Okay, who am I kidding? I never have guilt about giving servers special vegan instructions! If a restaurant doesn't have anything vegan on the menu, they deserve to have to go out of their way to feed me. But I digress ...

Most build-your-own style eateries are chain restaurants, like Subway, Moe's Southwest Grill, or Chipotle. But Memphis has an independently owned, slightly more upscale such place — Cheffie's Cafe. Located just off the Shelby Farms Greenline, a seven-mile bicycle and pedestrian-only path through East Memphis, Cheffie's caters to cyclists with more than enough bike racks to park an entire bicycle racing team. An adjoining business also sells motorized aerobic cruiser cycles.

Cheffie's has a set menu of salads and sandwiches to choose from, and a few of those are vegan. But you can also build-your-own salad or sandwich from the many, many ingredients on the bar. Unlike with a salad bar, the employee builds your meal (like Subway), so it's not all-you-can-eat. But trust me when I say they're very generous with their ingredients. My parents and I had dinner at Cheffie's last week, and look how big my salad was! It's served in a freakin' mixing bowl, y'all. I held it close to my head for comparison:

And yes, I have a new haircut. It's an asymmetrical 'do. But look at that salad! Here's what's inside:

Mixed greens, baby spinach, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, carrots cucumber, pickle slices, banana peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, a bell pepper mix, red onions, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, French fried onions, and balsamic vinaigrette.

My parents couldn't finish their salads, but believe it or not, I ate the whole thing. I'm a pro at putting away food. If there were vegan competitive eating events, I would enter them.

Anyway, you can also build your own sandwich using these same veggies, as well as hummus, artichoke hearts, and a few other items that didn't make it into my salad.

Cheffie's Cafe is located at 483 High Point Terrace. Call 901-343-0488 or visit their website.