Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Vegeversary to Me!

Today makes 14 years vegetarian and 4 years vegan! Back in 1994 (when I was 14), I made the choice to give up poultry and fish on the day after Thanksgiving. I'd given up beef and pork a few months earlier and after a day of gorging on turkey, I decided to become a vegetarian.

On the day after Thanksgiving in 2004, to celebrate my ten year vegeversary, I went a step further by entering a vegan trial run — I vowed to eat no cheese or dairy for one whole month. After a month went by, I realized that I didn't really miss dairy products and I loved vegan cheese substitutes. So I made the trial run a permanent thing and never looked back. (Technically, the anniversary date is probably not today since Thanksgiving moves around date-wise, but I find it easier to keep track of this way).

This morning, my mom and I celebrated my vegan-ness with a Black Friday shopping brunch at Brother Juniper's, an awesome breakfast joint with lots of veggie options. Here I am eating the Veggie Sausage Tofu Scramble with Home Fries and Whole Wheat Toast:

The scramble had veggie sausage chunks, spinach, and roasted red pepper. And I spread that toast liberally with Brother Juniper's special blueberry spreadable fruit (the BEST stuff!) instead of that nasty whipped butter on my plate. My omni mom even ate a tofu scramble and declared it the "best breakfast ever."

For dinner tonight, I had a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers, which I have a TON of hanging out in my fridge. Here's my plate from yesterday:

There's a yeast roll, mama's vegan cornbread dressin', homemade cranberry sauce, 2 slices of Field Roast Celebration Roast, Granny's Southwestern corn salad, vegan cole slaw, green beans, baked kabocha squash, vegan hash brown casserole, and vegan broccoli & cheeze casserole.

My mom and I always get up early on Thanksgiving Day and we cook all day long. She makes the best vegan cornbread dressin' in the whole world ever! And all the sides are veganized so I can eat them too.

Here I am stirring some apples with cinnamon, sugar, and pecans:

You can't see it here, but my shirt says "Save a Turkey, Eat Tofu." Clever, huh?

And here's what the apples went into — the Apple Streudel from The Joy of Vegan Baking:

OMG! This stuff was amazing! Apple pie-style filling rolled up in buttery sheets of crispy phyllo and topped with toasted cinnamon pecans and vanilla icing.

Granny even veganized her Coconut Cake recipe:

This is my dad's favorite cake, and even though coconut isn't a traditional Thanksgiving ingredient, it went over really, really well. No one could even tell it was vegan. And since it sits in the fridge for three days and gets all moist and yummy, it really melts in your mouth. Granny also tried to veganize her pecan pie, but it flopped. So she made one the regular way instead. She gets bonus points for trying though ... I doubt I would have had enough room in my belly for pie anyway!

Hope ya'll had a fabulous Thanksgiving and Black Friday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Flashback From 'Nam

You know how some recipes never make it off the to-do list? Well, I was certain the Vietnamese Seitan Baguette with Savory Broth Dip from the Veganomicon would be one of those. However, as you can see in the picture below, it miraculously moved from the wish list to my plate.

Stacked with VCon's Seitan Cutlets, cucumber slices, red onion, and cilantro sprigs, this was sandwich whisked me away to Vietnam ... or well, what I imagine Vietnam is like anyway. Of course, my only knowledge of 'Nam comes from the smelly-fish markets and blighted projects of Memphis' Little Vietnam neighborhood a few blocks away from my house. I'm sure the actual country is much nicer, as was the sandwich.

Each bite was first dipped into this Asian-inspired au jus sauce, made with a base of veggie broth and soy sauce and seasoned with all kinds of spicy goodness.

As an omni kid, my favorite sandwich was the French dip roast beef sub from Rax (a now-defunct roast beef chain, kinda like Arby's). And this really brought back memories of my chubby seven-year-old self sopping flavorful juice into lightly toasted bread and "meat."

Here's the whole plate for full effect:

I served the sandwich with Garden of Eatin' Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa (not pictured). I can say with certainty that this meal has moved from an unlikely dinner contender to heavy rotation.

By the way, I was given the Butterfly Blog award by two awesome fellow bloggers — Agnes of Agnes' World of Vegan Pleasures and Jen of That Pain in the Ass Vegan.

Thanks guys! It means a lot that ya'll thought about me! Now I'm supposed to pass the award on to a few others. There are plenty of folks who deserve it, but some of them have already received the award once or twice. So I'm going to do my best to try not to repeat award winners, but if do, sorry! Okay, drum roll please ... the winners of the Butterfly Blog Award are:

1) Shelby from La Belle Vegan
2) Jessy from Happy Vegan Face
3) Jess of Get Sconed
4) Theresa of The Tropical Vegan
5) Cyn at What the Hell Does Pink-Haired Girl Eat?
6) Chelsea from Ramblings from a Native Vegan Mecca Girl

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm a Squash Hoarder

On the last day of the Memphis Farmer's Market (the last Saturday in October), I picked up a spaghetti squash from Dodson Farms. In an attempt to pretend like I was stocking up for the winter, I've been hoarding various kinds of winter squash in my pantry. Now that it's finally cold outside, I'm allowing myself to actually use it.

So tonight, I made my favorite spaghetti squash dish — Spaghetti Squash Pomodoro:

Though it's not exactly Southern fare, I'm including this one in my cookbook because I love it that much. It's a buttery spin on traditional pomodoro pasta dishes, which typically include angel hair spaghetti, diced tomato, fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. And as you can see, I've added garlicky sauteed tofu cubes.

I sopped the squash noodles up with toasty garlic bread made from a multigrain loaf I picked up at Silke's Breads, a German bakery in Clarksville, this weekend.

Speaking of winter squash, can ya'll believe my mom has never tried any kind of winter squash?! So for Thanksgiving, I'm preparing a kabocha squash. I was thinking about simply roasting it with olive oil and salt and pepper. But does anyone have any other winter squash side dish ideas?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Catching Up

I'm back. After my unfortunate burglary incident, my parents loaned me one of their old digital cameras. But I left the next day to visit my boyfriend Paul in Clarksville, Tennessee from Wednesday through Sunday morning.

I was a nervous wreck about my house getting broken into again while I was away, but luckily my super friends Wes and Greg stopped by my place several times a day to hang with my cats (my dog was at a sitter's house). I also had a cop friend patrol the neighborhood while I was gone, and my dad installed security camras. Thankfully, the burglars stayed away. I also need to thank all ya'll for your supportive comments on my last post. You have no idea how much better they made me feel. Vegan bloggers are the BEST!

Though I was worried about burglars the whole time I was gone, I arrived home to a sweet surprise. Lindsay from Cooking for a Vegan Lover sent me a care package! The two of us are package swap partners, and my pack arrived way ahead of schedule (I still have one more thing to buy her before I can send hers ... but it's coming soon, Lindsay!).

The package was full of vegan goodies from Vermont, where Lindsay lives. Here's the list: Road's End Organics Savory Herb Gravy (just in time for Thanksgiving!), Vermont Pepper Works Rancho Ancho Pepper Sauce, a seaweed flax seed vegan organic dark chocolate bar (can't wait to try this!), Roads End Organics Dairy-Free Shells & Chreese (I adore this stuff!), Liz Lovely Gluten-Free Chocolate Fudge Cookies (one of the only flavors I haven't tried), a piece of Vermont maple candy, Vermints CinnaMints (love these!), and small Green Sack canvas bag to put my stuff in!

Thanks so much Lindsay! You have no idea how much this brightened my crappy week! I can't wait to sample all this awesomeness!

On the way home from Paul's this afternoon, I stopped by my friend Vaughan's for a Food Awareness Thanksgiving Feast! Food Awareness is our l0cal veggie society, and we get together before Thanksgiving every year. Sometimes we do potluck, but this year, the food was catered by Bastet, a local vegan chef from DejaVu Creole Soul Food & Vegetarian Restaurant.

Here's my plate:

From left to right: Taboulleh, Falafel (it's hidden under the taboulleh), Barbecue Seitan (so good!), some kind of blueberry coconut raw spread (the purple stuff), raw sweet potatoes, a veggie stew concoction, and in the bowl, there's some tasty vegetable soup.

Hiding on the back of the plate was some non-vegan Baklava. Now, I thought it was vegan when I ate it because I assumed all the food was vegan (it typically is at our gatherings), but I later learned that someone picked it up from a Mediterranean restaurant. So it likely was not vegan. But it was in my belly when I learned, so I sucked it up. Next time I'll ask.

And finally, I made the Jerk Seitan with Coconut Quinoa last Tuesday before I left for vacation:

The jerk seitan recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance and it's so amazing! Lots of ginger and allspice and other Jamaican flavors. My mom tried it and said the seitan tasted like real meat.

VwaV suggests serving the dish with coconut rice, but instead I made the Coconut Quinoa from Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen. It's a simple recipe involving coconut milk and shredded coconut, and the quinoa was a perfect complement to the seitan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Got Robbed

Yep ... some jerk wad came in my house today while I was at work and stole all my crap, including my camera. So I can't show you the grilled "chicken" and gravy, baked sweet potato, and home-canned green beans that I had for dinner tonight. In fact, I can't show you anything I eat until I find a camera replacement. I'm hoping my parents will loan me one of theirs.

The bastards also took my camcorder, my film cameras, all my DVDs (though they strangely decided to leave me all my seasons of Will & Grace on DVD ... how considerate of them), and my rings (two of which had a ton of sentimental value). They left my iMac, which is weird .... but good.

When I came home from work, my alarm was going off. Thinking I'd accidentally set it off somehow, I turned it off and put my stuff down. Then I noticed the DVDs were missing. And then the camera. And then everything else. Turns out, they came through my back window. It wasn't locked because the lock was broken, but I didn't know that until it was too late. I'm almost 99% sure it was my skeevy crackhead neighbors. And the cops think so too, but they can't prove anything yet.

Anyway, the worst part are the rings and the memory card on my camera. It had pictures on it dating back to this past April. And I'm bad about downloading them, so most are not backed up.

I'm trying to forget about it. But it's not easy. My memories are gone, and now I feel vulnerable. The window lock is fixed, and my dad is installing surveillance cameras. But nonetheless, I feel violated.

Don't give up on my blog though. I'll likely borrow a camera from my parents and get back to shooting my meals as soon as possible.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Soup and Me

With the chilly weather kicking in, all the vegan bloggers have been making creamy butternut squash soups. And well, if all the vegan bloggers jumped off a bridge, I probably would too. Okay, maybe I wouldn't go that far, but I did go so far as to make this spicy Orange & Chipotle-Kissed Butternut Squash Bisque from Vegan Planet:

With only a few ingredients, this creamy autumn soup manages to tempt quite a few taste buds — namely the one that likes spicy stuff, the one that like citrus, and the one that loves tender winter squash. The squash is pureed with one chipotle pepper and a few tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate, as well as veggie broth. Those are pepitas sprinkled on top, by the way. The soup (paired with crusty Teese toast) was a perfect meal today since I'm a little on the sicky side. Stupid cold. My nose fells like it might fall off right now.

But woes aside, I've been tagged by Agnes of Agnes' World of Vegan Pleasures and Jennifer at Vegannifer to participate in a meme. So here goes.
  1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
  4. Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Weird stuff about me:

1. My comfort food is Ramen noodles. Anytime I'm stressed, sad, or just need a bowl of comfort, I make Ramen. I usually buy it at Asian markets, where they tend to have more vegan flavors (and a lot of artificial meat flavors). Top Ramen Oriental is also vegan.

2. I used to eat sticks of butter. I was a fat kid because I ate lots of bad, bad stuff. I was also a big fan of the fat chunks on steak and bacon. I know this is disgusting. But I was like, 7 or 8 years old.

3. I'm kinda OCD. I plan out all my meals for the week and make little menu sheets. And I plan my grocery shopping trips up to a week in advance. Because I LOVE to make grocery lists! On the OCD thing, I also tend to lock my front door in the morning as I'm leaving for work, only to get in the car and freak out about how I may have left the hair straightener plugged in/the heater on/the back porch light on...then I have to go unlock the door and start all over again. Sometimes I even check twice.

4. My boyfriend Paul lives 3 1/2 hours away from me. We've been dating for four and a half years, but he's only lived far away for two of those years. I visit him twice a month, usually. He is not a vegetarian.

Here's Paul and a stray kitten that was hanging at my parents' house.

5. I LOVE John Waters films. Pink Flamingos is all-time favorite, but Female Trouble comes in a close second. And though it's one of his newer works, I totally *heart* A Dirty Shame.

6. I'm currently obsessed with those reality shows on TLC that feature people who have a million kids. There's Jon and Kate Plus 8 and 17 Kids and Counting. This is mostly due to the fact that I only have 19 channels and not much to choose from. Also, the 17 Kids and Counting family is from Arkansas (my home state) and they're crazy radical Christian fundamentalists, which I find scary and somehow fascinating.

7. I think my next tattoo is going to be the "animal rights, human rights" logo, but I don't know where to put it on my body. Perhaps inside my left wrist? To match the Vegan tattoo on my right? What do ya'll think?

Okay, so I'm tagging the following folks:

Shelby at La Belle Vegan
Lindsay at Cooking for a Vegan Lover
Miss V at Miss V's Vegan Cookbook
Pixiepine Palace
Erin at Vegan Homemade

And yea, yea, I know I'm supposed to tag 7 people but this linking stuff takes forever! So I'm changing the rules! :-P

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

High Raw Tuesday

Though I usually go totally raw for my monthly day-long raw food cleanse, I called today a "high raw" day since I cheated a little bit at lunch with this delicious Live Burger from Bawala's Vegan Gourmet, a new semi-raw cafe inside the Smooth Moves smoothie shop in Midtown:

I've been hearing about these raw burger patties for a few months now, and I'd been waiting until raw day to give them a try. Balwala (who's name I'm probably spelling wrong) wouldn't tell me what was in his live patty (says he's planning a patent), but he assured me the burger part was indeed raw. He did say it contained lots of dehydrated veggies, as well as walnuts and flax seed.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize the patty was served on bread until Balwala was putting it together. It's sprouted grain Ezekiel bread though, so I figure that's okay. He also added ketchup and mustard, which aren't really raw either ... but I was already cheating with the bread, so... anyway, it was delicious and I can't wait to try the raw barbecue portabella sandwich next!

I did start the day off with a 100% raw meal. I made a "Not Green" Green Smoothie:

I called it "Not Green" because it was supposed to be green since I added spinach. But apparently purple trumps green since the frozen blackberries dominated the look of this creamy breakfast. Also in the smoothie — frozen banana, juice of one orange, a couple dates, 1/4 cup hemp seeds, and 1/4 cup raw oats.

For dinner, I had another Raw Buckwheat Pizza using the dehydrated crackers my friend Judith made me for my birthday:

This time I added mashed avocado, tomato, bell pepper, and olives. Does anyone know if olives are raw?

I served the pizza with this Salad of Baby Greens, Radishes, Carrots, and Black Grapes and drizzled with a Tahini Lemon Dressing from Raw Food Made Easy:

Finally, I made one of the tastiest raw desserts I've ever had — Raw Brownies:

These Raw Brownies (also from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Food Made Easy) had a base of walnut, dates, and cocoa powder. They're really rich, and I enjoyed them crumbled in a bowl with sliced bananas.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't Skip Breakfast

I'm a huge fan of breakfast. I wake up each morning with a ferocious appetite and I must eat within 30 minutes of waking or I'll get nauseous and really weak. So I tend to prepare breakfasts the night before for a quick week day morning meal. Tofu Scrambles are a common go-to breakfast, but I typically use my own spice combination (onion and garlic powder, turmeric, basil, nooch, and a dash of celery salt). To mix things up a bit, I tried the Vegan with a Vengeance Tofu Scramble this time:

The spices are quite different from the ones I use and the cumin lends the dish an almost Mexican flavor. But it's delicious. Honestly, you can't go wrong with a tofu scramble.

I didn't have any mushrooms on hand, so I subbed diced tomatoes since I had plenty of those. I also added grated carrot, onion, and chopped chives from Granny's herb garden.

I served the scramble with a slice of Ezekial sprouted grain bread, spread with a teensy bit of Earth Balance and some homemade Pumpkin Butter that I picked up at a crafts fair back in September.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Teeseburger Pizza

I spent the weekend at my boyfriend's parent's house in Clarksville, about three hours from Memphis. So when I arrived home Sunday night, I wanted a quick, tasty dinner. Fortunately, I thought ahead last week and made a double-batch of Vegan with a Vengeance Pizza Dough. My awesome friend Wes, who dog and cat sat for me while I was away, removed the dough from the freezer on Sunday morning so it'd be thawed when I got home.

In just a few quick minutes after I walked in the door, I'd whipped up this gooey Teeseburger Pizza:

For the sauce, I thawed some leftover red sauce that I made using Shellyfish's Grandma Antonia's Garlic Gravy recipe several weeks ago. I thickened it with some extra tomato pasta to make it more like pizza sauce.

Then I topped the pie with Teese, Morningstar Farms soy crumbles, and green bell pepper. So good! Nothing beats a Teese pizza. I'm so grateful to those folks over at the Chicago Soy Dairy for inventing this fabulous stuff!

So far, Teese tops my list of the bestest vegan cheeses ever! What's your favorite vegan cheese?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Fail at Uncheese

I recently received The Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak for my birthday, and I made one successful Herb & Tomato Cheese Spread last week. So I thought I'd try my hand at a solid, sliceable block cheese. The book has a recipe for almost any cheese you can imagine — Gouda, Colby, Mozzerella. But as a former fan of Muenster (I always loved the sprinkly reddish orange rim), I decided to shoot for that.

Though it appears fairly solid in this photo, it was definitely not. The cheese was actually more spreadable than the spread I made last week. Apparently, I'm lacking in agar skills.

I didn't have any agar flakes, which the recipe called for, but I did have agar powder. So I looked up the measurement substitutions on a PPK forum. According to one poster, a half-teaspoon of agar powder equals one tablespoon of agar flakes. So I dissolved 2 1/2 teaspoons in the water since the recipe calls for 5 tablespoons of flakes.

The agar and water came to a boil. And I lowered the heat and stirred constantly for about 10 minutes. But it never really thickened. Having only worked with agar once or twice before (without much luck), I assumed the stuff would "set" as it cooled.

So I poured it in the blender with the raw cashews, lemon juice, nooch, and other ingredients and blended until smooth. Per the instructions, I poured the mix into a mold lined with paprika and placed it in the fridge overnight. When I woke this morning, the consistancy hadn't changed a bit.

Fortunately, it still tastes great! I spread some on an Amy's Bistro burger for dinner and on sprouted grain toast for lunch (eaten with leftover linguini).

Does anyone have any agar tips? The Uncheese book doesn't provide much in the way of an agar troubleshooting guide.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Not to get all Michelle Obama on ya'll, but I can honestly say that for the first time in my life, I'm proud to be American. I've never been a fan of the country's imperialist attitude toward other countries. And even though I did love Bill Clinton back in the day, my anarchist tendencies wouldn't allow me to embrace America back then. I was just born here. I'd rather live somewhere else, like Holland, the U.K., or maybe Canada.

But last night, seeing Barack's name and face next to the words "President Elect" on CNN was purely magic. I have faith that the American people are finally ready to stop making stupid political choices based on crazy religious fanatacism. And I believe that we're finally on the path to realizing Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality. Today is a good day!

It also didn't hurt that California's Prop 2 passed, banning gestation crates and battery cages on factory farms in that state. Now if only the rest of the country can follow their lead. Score one for animal rights!

On those happy notes, I'll share my food with you. This morning, I dined on Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits, Diced Tofu Ham, and Red-Eye Gravy:

All three recipes are in my cookbook, but I usually don't cube the tofu before baking it in the ham marinade. All Kroger had on Sunday night was Nasoya Cubed Tofu, so I had diced ham. Red-eye gravy is a Southern delicacy typically made with strong black coffee and ham grease. But I used olive oil, some of the tofu ham marinade, and fair trade, locally-roasted coffee. The gravy is awesome for dipping biscuits and dunking "ham."

For dinner, I needed to use up some eggplant and ripe summer tomatoes that my Granny gave me last weekend. She gave me a TON of tomatoes, and since they're the last summer tomatoes I'll probably see, I wanted to do something special with them. So I whipped up this Whole Wheat Linguini with Eggplant, Tomato, and Red Wine Marinara:

Basically, I just sauteed two cubed eggplants (I don't salt and drain first cause I'm lazy like that), added 4 cloves of garlic and 4 diced tomatoes. While it simmered, I seasoned the sauce with salt, a teaspoon of turbinado, a sprinkle of dried basil, and a generous splash of shiraz.

After I took the picture, I added some Parma and grated Teese and stirred it in so it would get all melty.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Corn Dawgs! And Vote for Obama!

I purchased Happy Herbivore's first fat-free vegan e-cookbook months ago. But I kept forgetting to make anything from it when grocery list time came around. I'd been eyeing the recipe for fat-free corn dogs since day one, and since I had spare Smart Dogs lying around tonight, I went for it.

Here's a not-so-flattering photo of Happy Herbivore's Corn Doggies:

Don't let my bad battering skills prevent you from trying this recipe. It was difficult getting the corn meal/flour mixture to stick to the dogs, but I'm sure with practice (and patience ... which I did not have because I was hungry!), it gets easier.

I couldn't tell these puppies were fat free AT ALL! The dogs are baked, not fried. And most vegan hot dogs are naturally fat free. Since I've gone vegan, I've not been shy about frying things since I figure I need the extra fat grams that I used to get from dairy. But HH is opening my eyes to the potential of lower fat foods. If all her recipes are this good, I could start eating a little better ... well, unless there are green tomatoes or okra to be fried. ;-)

On the side, I roasted some sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika.

I cooked them for about 25 minutes on 450 degrees. So good! I have like a million pound box of sweet taters for the winter (thanks to my Mama and Granny for hooking me up).

I also attempted to re-create some Citrus Spinach I sampled at DeJavu Vegetarian Restaurant, a local vegan soul food joint, this past weekend:

I got pretty close to the original with this. I sauteed garlic in a small amount of safflower oil, then added baby spinach, the juice of a half a lemon, and a few drops of Jamaican hot sauce. Yum!

By the way, don't forget to get out and vote for Obama today!!! I'm so nervous about the election, I could just die. If McCain wins, the world will end. So please, please, please (if you haven't already early voted), Vote for Obama!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cupcakes and Grandmas

On Halloween night, I drove to Jonesboro, Arkansas (about an hour north of Memphis) for my Me-Maw's annual Halloween party. She loves Halloween, and every year family members gather at her place for a chili dog feast (I get veggie dogs, of course). Me-Maw decorates every square inch of her house in Halloween decor — motion-activated screaming ghouls, witches, ghosts, fiber-optic pumpkins, you name it.

Here's me with all my grandparents in front of one of Me-Maw's holiday displays:

Left to right: Me, Granny (the one who veganizes everything!), Me-Maw, and Pa

For the past two years, I've brought the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World to Me-Maw's party:

These are probably my favorite recipe in the whole book. I love how they're like a cross between a muffin and a cupcake. And I also love that my pumpkin-hating mom actually likes these!

After the family party, I drove back to Memphis for the "Hell on Earth" costume party at Earnestine & Hazel's, a South Main dive bar located in a former brothel. I don't really know what I was ... perhaps some kind of punk rocker?

My friend Greg was some kind of creepy scarecrow, but all his hay fell out over the course of the night. I think he looks more like one of
those scary kids from that horror film, The Orphanage.