Monday, December 5, 2022

Veganaversary Solstice Prep!

Hi there! Still playing catch up with some holiday posts. My 18-year veganaversary was Black Friday (and that would also be my 28-year vegetarian anniversary!). I always celebrate on Black Friday even though the date changes because it's easier to remember that way. But I gave up meat on Black Friday in 1994 and dairy/eggs/by-products on Black Friday in 2004. I used to celebrate by going to brunch and then holiday shopping with my mom, but we stopped that tradition in 2020 during the pandemic. And now she lives further away, so it was time for a new tradition.

So I stole one! Since 2020, I've been celebrating my veganaversary with a fancy snack plate while decorating for the Winter Solstice holidays. My friends Sheridan and Drew started this tradition of snack plates, fancy drinks, and decorating, and I liked it. So I now I do that too. So on Black Friday, we dragged the holiday tree down from the attic, and I made this fancy plate.

It has Miyoko's Garlic-Herb cashew cheese with crackers, vegan Babybel cheese, Viana vegan sausage, veggies and jalapeno hummus, assorted olives, and grapes. 

To drink, I made Spiked Vegan Holiday Nog with spiced rum. Yum!

And then we decked the halls! We decorated our tree and the inside of our house, and Paul put up some of those moving holiday light displays outside because we're lazy for real holiday lights. Tis the season!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Thanksgiving with the Family!

Yesterday, I shared pics from our awesome pre-Thanksgiving Vegan Friendsgiving potluck. And tonight, I've got my family gathering photos. We did Thanksgiving lunch at my Me-Maw's house in Arkansas. But before I headed across the river, I ran the Memphis Hungry Turkey 5K and got a PR! I finally broke 30 minutes in my 5K time with a total time of 29:08. I've been working on this for years, so I'm pretty stoked.

After the race, I got cleaned up and headed to Me-Maw's. Here's a pic of my Me-Maw with my Uncle Grey Boy (yes, a cat is my uncle because she considers him a son).  

Here's my plate! My mom brought giant plates for us to use, so I may have gotten a bit too much food. But that's what Thanksgiving is all about, right? Forget gratitude. Let's be real: It's about stuffing your face. 

I roasted the Tofurky this year, and my mom brought regular animal turkey for everyone else.

But she made the rest of the dishes vegan, as usual. There was Mama's Famous Cornbread Dressing! Her dressing is SO GOOD. The recipe is in my cookbook, Cookin' Crunk, but it's just better when she makes it.

She also made her Vegan Hash Brown Casserole (also in my book) with hash browns, cheese, vegan cream of mushroom soup (made from scratch), and buttery cornflakes.

Those two dishes are yearly staples, but this year, she also made a Vegan Broccoli Cheese Casserole. Very tasty!

Me-Maw made Chickpeas, Corn, and Green Beans, and she made sure to use vegan butter in everything. Yay!

And finally, for dessert, we had Pecan Cream Pie. This was amazing. It was fall-ish, thanks to the pecans, but creamy and dreamy with vegan whipping cream and vegan cream cheese.

Here's a family photo! I love my family!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Vegan Friendsgiving!

I hope you had an awesome vegan Thanksgiving! I'll share an update from my family Thanksgiving tomorrow, but tonight, I wanted to share pics from our annual Vegan Friendsgiving potluck, which was held the Sunday before the holiday. This annual potluck is hosted by my friends Vaughan and Nicole, and we've been doing it for years. But like everything else on the planet, the event took a took a two-year pandemic break. So this was our first year back in awhile!

I failed to take any people photos, except this one of folks filling their plates. 

But I have lots of images of food. We'll start with my plate, which was packed full. I had a half-marathon race the next morning, and I try to eat super-healthy the night before any race. But hey, it was a holiday! Not that this food isn't healthy. It's just that casseroles and such tend to be rich, and I ate a lot.

The race went fine, by the way. Not a PR but not a bad time. Anyway, here is a rundown of some of the dishes. People were arriving all night, so more food came in, including a vegan roast and vegan ham, that I failed to photograph. But I did get one of James and Clarita's Vegan Beefy Wellington, which was very roast-like. The inside of the puff pastry was stuffed with a loaf made with beefy crumbles.

One lady brought the BEST Indian food! So good! In the back of the second pic below, you can also see Steven's tasty Raw Vegan Alfredo Noodles.

I made my Corn Casserole from Cookin' Crunk — a simple recipe from my granny that has vegan cream cheese, pimento peppers, diced green chiles, and corn.

Diane brought this tasty Irish Portabella Oat Stuffing. It was like a baked savory oat casserole with a stuffing-like flavor.

There were Roasted, Mixed Veggies with cashew cheese and Roasted Brussels.

And as a starter, we samples some Violife Vegan Cheeses with wine. 

And of course, there were desserts! I didn't get a photo of Amy's amazing chocolate PB pie before it was gone, but I did snap some pics of Autumn's Mini Apple Pies and Megan's Caramel Apple Cake.

So good! There was so much food that arrived late that I could have made an entire second plate full of new things. But I was stuffed, so I didn't. I'm so glad potlucks with friends are back!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Northwest Arkansas Trip, Day 3

It's me, hi! I'm the problem, it's me! Ha. Again, I've failed to blog over a vacation week. I intended to post my final recap of my Northwest Arkansas trip on Wednesday, but I was off work for Thanksgiving. And my mind was miles away from a computer. So without further ado, here ya go. 

On Sunday, I planned to drive back to Memphis from my weekend stay with my friend Misti in Fayetteville, Arkansas. But first, brunch! Oh actually, but first, Vegan Pumpkin Bread. 

I knew it would take us a while to get dressed and moving for brunch, and I knew I'd wake up hungry. As I always do. So I picked up a slice of this vegan bread at Arsaga's Coffee the day before to save for a Sunday morning treat. Misti's cat Tiger wanted a bite.

Once we were finally moving — around noon — we headed for The Farmer's Table, a vegan-friendly brunch spot. There was an hour wait, but that was okay. We got coffee and sat outside as we waited for a table. Misti's friend Whitney met us there, and once seated, we ordered a round of cocktails. I went with a basic mimosa since I had to drive home, and I knew one mimosa wouldn't affect me.

For my meal, I ordered the Mushroom Mash, which had a base of roasted potatoes topped with kale, quinoa, carrots, cashew cheese, and homemade mushroom-rice sausage. It was a nice healthy meal after a weekend of indulgence. 

And that was it! After our leisurely meal, I made the five-hour drive home. What a fun trip! Okay, I'll be back with some Thanksgiving recaps this week. I'd say tomorrow, but with my current record, I don't want to make any promises.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Northwest Arkansas Trip, Day 2

I spent the weekend before last visiting my friend Misti in Northwest Arkansas! Yesterday, I blogged about my first night there (you can read that here). And tonight, I've got a recap of day two with running, brunch, a trip to Crystal Bridges Museum, cocktails in a church basement, and more. This is a big one!

I woke up on Saturday morning, earlier than Misti and her boyfriend Josh, and there was snow on the ground from the night before. My first snow of the season! I needed to get a run in, so I drove a few miles to Lake Fayetteville and ran six miles around the lake's paved loop.

When I got back to Misti's, they were STILL sleeping. So I woke them up for brunch! We went to Arsaga's Coffee Roasters, which had a number of vegan options. 

I started with an Oat Milk Latte.

And then switched to a Southwest Spritzer with sparkling wine and aperol. 

To eat, I went with a breakfast platter that had Tofu Scramble, Beyond Sausage, Home Fries, and Sourdough. I love that the bread came with both jam and avocado for maximum spreadage. This was a lot of food, and I ate it all. 

After brunch, we decided to check out Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, but to get there, we had to pass through Rogers, Arkansas. So that seemed like a good excuse to check out New Province Brewing Co. 

After a beer (and watching the Razorbacks get beat by LSU), we headed to Crystal Bridges. This is an amazing art museum founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton. It may be tucked into a small town in Arkansas, but it features world-class artworks. I was blown away by this place! I took tons of pics, but I'll just share a few of my favorites here. I know you're here for the food and not art!

We spent a few hours there, and by then, we'd worked up an appetite, so we headed to Bentonville Taco & Tamale Co. There was an hour wait though, so we decided to grab pre-dinner drinks at nearby Scotch & Soda. I had a tasty tequila-sage cocktail.

When we finally got a table at the taco and tamale place, I couldn't wait to try their vegan cheese dip. But they were out. :-( Thankfully, they weren't out of their Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales, which were vegan.

I also got a Cucumber Tomato Salad on the side. The tamales were great! And the salad was a nice, cooling side (and probably the only real vegetables I had all day).

After dinner, we had one more stop before heading back to Misti's. We got a nightcap at The Undercroft, a bar in the basement of an old church.

The upper floors are now a restaurant called The Preacher's Son, but the basement was a busy, but cozy, cocktail bar. And I had my favorite drink of the trip — a pickle-tini with a garlicky brine. Yum!

Okay, I'll be back tomorrow with my final day recap!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Northwest Arkansas Trip, Day 1

Hey there! As promised, I'm back with some vacation pics. I spent the weekend before last visiting my long-time friend Misti in Northwest Arkansas, about five hours from my home in Memphis. She lives in Fayetteville, but we also spent time in Bentonville and Rogers, so I'm calling this my Northwest Arkansas trip. I left mid-morning on Friday, and right around noon, I spotted a Burger King sign on the highway. So lunch was an Impossible Whopper — my favorite road trip tradition.

I arrived close to 4 p.m., just in time for a beer. I dumped my stuff in Misti's guest room, and we headed to Fossil Cove Brewing Co., my favorite brewery of the trip! The aesthetic there was just so fun. Lots of dinosaurs and bright colors.

Misti's boyfriend Josh showed up when he got off work. 

And Misti and I split a Vegan Veggie Pizza while we were there. I didn't even realize they had vegan pizza until we sat down and I spied a menu for the adjoining pizza cart. But it was dinner time, and I was hungry. And this was some very good pizza. 

After dinner, we headed for another brewery — White Mountain Brewing Co. in Downtown Fayetteville. I had a nice blood orange IPA there.

And then our last stop of the night was Maxine's, a cute cocktail bar. There was an Arkansas Razorbacks/LSU game that weekend, and the bar was slammed. But we managed to grab a table and a drink. I got a paloma — grapefruit, tequila, salt rim. 

It had gotten considerably colder throughout the evening, and when we left the bar, it was SNOWING! Y'all, it doesn't snow much in Memphis. And when it does, it's typically January or February. Things are a little different in the Ozarks, but snow in November is unusual even there!

I'll be back tomorrow with a day 2 recap!