Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cookie Sale and Caribbean Vegan Giveaway!

Hey y'all. No food photos tonight. On the last night of Vegan Mofo, I want to tell y'all about some awesome discounts on magical vegan cookies. And then we're givin' away a copy of Taymer Mason's fabulous Caribbean Vegan cookbook.

First the cookies — Last year, I was lucky enough to receive a sample pack of some giant, all-natural vegan Intention Cookies by Bountiful Vegan. Not only are these cookies delicious, they're also said to possess a little mojo magic. Each cookie is supposed to bring about positive qualities — love, determination, success, courage, happiness, or prosperity — as you eat it. I don't know about y'all, but I totally believe in magic and the power of positive thinking. But I'm a little airy-fairy sometimes....

I received an e-mail from Bountiful Vegan a few days ago to let me know that they've eliminated two flavors from their line, but they've added four more — Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Raisin, and Chocolate Chip. Those are in addition to the flavors they kept — Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Orange. Each cookie is named for the quality it's supposed to impart in you as you eat it. For example, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip is "Happiness." Um, duh. I would totally get happy with a PB Chip cookie! See, totally magic.

They're also offering holiday gift baskets with 12 Intention Cookies, a choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (they make the hot chocolate mix themselves!), and a personalized card. Check out the baskets here.

Anyway, Bountiful Vegan is offering a very special deal to Vegan Crunk readers! They're extending their Cyber Monday sale of 30 percent off all gift items through Wednesday, Dec. 1st at midnight. All you have to do is email info@bountifulvegan.com and ask for the "Cyber Monday Extension."

Now for the Caribbean Vegan giveaway! Yesterday, I reviewed Taymer Mason's newly-released cookbook filled with 125 recipes for native foods of Barbados, Saint Lucia, Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, the French West Indies, and Guyana.

In case you missed the review, you can read it here. Or you can just drool over the photo of Taymer's Hearts of Palm & Tofu Scramble from Caribbean Vegan.

One lucky commenter will win a copy of Taymer's book. Just leave a comment about your favorite exotic dish. Doesn't have to be Caribbean since I'm sure many of you (like me until I got this book) haven't tried that cuisine yet.

For an extra chance to win, tweet about the giveaway and leave an additional comment letting me know you did. For an extra, extra chance, link back to the contest from Facebook and leave yet another comment to let me know. And finally, for a fourth chance, link back to this contest on your blog (if you have one), and leave yet another comment to fill me in. That's four chances to win!

If you don't have a Blogger account with a listed email, please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. Good luck! I'll randomly select one winner on Sunday night (Dec. 5th).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Caribbean Vegan!

In my haste to finish my own cookbook, I've been pretty neglectful of my other cookbooks — cherished tomes that once dominated my weekly menu plan. Not only have I neglected the books I already have, I've also had to forgo buying any new cookbooks until after Christmas (that's when I'll be done with mine! Wooo!).

But I couldn't turn down an offer of a free copy of Caribbean Vegan to review. I've been a long-time fan of Taymer Mason's Vegan in the Sun blog, where the beautiful Barbadian blogs about veganized versions of traditional Caribbean eats. Her newly-released cookbook is filled with 125 recipes for native foods of Barbados, Saint Lucia, Trinidad, Tobago, Jamaica, Grenada, the French West Indies, and Guyana.

Seeing as how I'm totally unfamiliar with the foods from all those places, I was intrigued by the concept of Taymer's book. I've never had Carribean food and this book opens up a whole new world. Most dishes are seasoned with homemade wet or dry seasonings, such as Bajan seasoning, Jamaican jerk seasoning, or Trinidadian green seasoning. The recipes for these onion/pepper/herb-based seasonings these are included in the front of the book, and most keep for a year in the fridge. Many of the recipes also call for Scotch bonnet or habenero peppers. I love make-your-ears-burn spicy food, so this makes me very happy. But I bet spice-aphobes could leave the hot peppers out with tasty results.

I made the Bajan seasoning (a mixture of green and white onions, habenero peppers, lime, spices, herbs, and vinegar) to coat the tofu for this Hearts of Palm & Tofu Scramble:

Since I'm still busy testing my main entrees and desserts, I only have time to try breakfasts from other people's books for now. But that was just fine because this super-duper flavorful scramble totally blew me away. The Bajan seasoning added so much depth to this dish. By far, the most flavorful scramble I've ever tried. And who would have thought to add hearts of palm? I love the crazy texture of those things!

I enjoyed my scramble this morning with another recipe from the breakfast section of Caribbean VeganSaint Lucian Bakes:

This was similar to an English muffin in that you fry the dough for a crispy outer crust, but despite the dishes' name, you never actually bake these. Just fry 'em on both sides until they're cooked through. Then you can slice 'em open and spread with whatever you please. I subbed whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose in the recipe and enjoyed the finished bake with tomato marmalade. The bread was so soft inside. Next time though, I'll likely double the recipe as this only made three Saint Lucian Bakes. I wish I had enough to last all week!

A few of Taymer's recipes do call for hard-to-find ingredients, such as ackee, breadfruit, and cassava, but she says that her testers from around the world didn't have much problem finding exotic ingredients at well-stocked markets. I figure our massive Winchester Farmer's Market in Memphis — actually a world food market, not a real farmer's market — will have these ingredients. But even if you live out in the sticks, you'll still find that most of Taymer's recipes call for easy-to-find American grocery store fare.

As soon as I wrap up my cookbook, I'll start working through my old (and plenty of new) cookbooks again. And Caribbean Vegan will be at the top of that list! Her Bajan Macaroni Pie with Tofu Cheddar is definitely next up.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let Me Eat Cake!

I've been eating vegan cheezecake and chocolate pecan pie leftover from Thanksgiving for days, so I really don't deserve a piece of cake. I mean, I always deserve cake because I'm awesome! But you know, my body probably doesn't need any more sugar. Thankfully, I made this yumilicious Yella' Cake with Fudgey Frosting last week, so I couldn't have a slice now if I wanted it (and of course, I do!):

This recipe was the final new recipe to be developed for my cookbook. I've been busy testing and re-testing recipes that I've developed over the past two years, but for some reason, I was holdin' out on creating a vegan version of my favorite cake — a simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I knew I wanted to include a recipe for it in the book, but I kept putting off development.

The cake part was, um, a piece of cake since I'd already developed a moist yellow cake (that's yella' if you're from these parts) for my Coconut Icebox Cake. But the frosting was kind of a bitch. It took me three tries in one night to achieve the creamy, fudginess that I was aiming for. It was a work night, and I started baking late. I think I stayed up until nearly 1 a.m. tweaking the frosting. I threw out two batches before I got it right.

I guess third time really is a charm because the last batch was exactly what I had in mind. I brought the finished product to work and it was quickly devoured by my co-workers. I'm so thankful that I have dessert-loving colleagues to pawn sweets off on. Like I said earlier, I always want cake. But my hips know better.

What's your favorite cake/frosting combo?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgivin' Y'all!

I'm stuffed. Seriously. Just for fun, I weighed myself this morning before eating and then I weighed myself after cramming my face with Thanksgiving deliciousness. I gained five pounds — in less than eight hours!! I ate a lot, y'all. I always do on Thanksgiving Day. In case you couldn't tell, I'm sort of a food addict. I have self-control on most days. But Thanksgiving is the day I give myself full permission to gorge until I'm physically unable to move for at least an hour.

Not only am I celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday today, but I'm also celebrating my 16-year vegiversary (technically it's the day after Thanksgiving, but....). I think that gives me a pretty great excuse to be a glutton.

I always do Thanksgiving at my mom and dad's house, and my awesome mama makes all the dishes vegan! She makes a turkey for everyone else, but I always get a stand-in of my choice. This year, I went with the new Gardein Stuffed Turk'ys. Here I am before I gained that extra five pounds:

Let's take a closer look at that plate. Here's all I could cram onto one plate, but I also had a second plate filled with baked beans and corn. And then those plates were followed by dessert:

Now, let's break down each item. First the Gardein Stuffed Turk'y — a new item this year on the faux turkey market. These breaded stuffed "breasts" were mighty tasty, as one should expect from Gardein. They even came with some tasty gravy. The only drawback? The package only comes with two small stuffed turk'ys, which doesn't leave much for leftovers:

For the past three years, my mama has made homemade cranberry sauce. Before, we always had the stuff from the can. But we've learned that fresh is so much better. Ours has pecans and orange zest:

My mama's vegan cornbread dressin' is the best in the whole world. She also gets props from the rest of the family for her non-vegan dressin'. But I don't remember what that tastes like. My omni boyfriend tried both and preferred the vegan version. Lucky for y'all, this recipe will be included in my cookbook:

This Ramen Noodle Slaw was a first this Thanksgiving, but it's definitely a keeper. This dish was hands-down my fave of the meal. It's a sesame-flavored Asian-style slaw made with crunchy Ramen noodles. Y'all KNOW how much I love Ramen, so it's no surprise that this was the best.

My mom made these mixed baked beans using kidney beans, lima beans, vegetarian baked beans, brown sugar, and some veggies. Yum, yum:

My parents only recently discovered that they actually like sweet potatoes. They both grew up eating the sickly-sweet candied yam-style sweet taters, topped with gooey marshmallows. Neither my mom or dad remembered liking those, and both thought sweet potatoes were gross. And then I introduced them to savory sweet taters (like sweet tater fries, roasted wedges, and such). Now they like sweet potatoes when prepared without added sugar. My mom made these whipped sweet potatoes super creamy by adding Tofutti cream cheese:

I made this cornflake-topped hash brown casserole from my cookbook. It's a veganized version of the one my mama used to always make. I didn't really tell anyone that it was vegan, and I don't think they even noticed! I used Daiya cheddar in place of shredded dairy cheese.

Mama made some green beans and white potatoes in the Crock Pot:

Granny brought over some of her famous Greens & Turnips. Nobody makes slow-cooked greens like my Granny. Nobody. She must sprinkle them with magic soul food dust:

Granny also brought over a Crock Pot of corn:

And Granny made a creamy vegan cheezecake with strawberry sauce! I'm not sure what all went into it, but I know it involved tofu, vegan pudding, and a crunchy homemade crust.

I baked the Dark Chocolate Tipsy Pecan Pie from my cookbook. It has a little rum in it just for fun:

I wasn't the only one who stuffed myself until I was incapacitated. My boyfriend Paul went straight back to bed after dinner, where he promptly passed smooth out!

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving was as awesome as mine! Now I'm looking forward to leftovers (and Black Friday shopping) tomorrow!!

What was your favorite Thanksgiving dish of the day?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pardon a Turkey ... For Real

Though I haven't eaten turkey in almost 16 years (my veganaversary is the day after Thanksgiving!), I only began my annual tradition of adopting a turkey last year. Every year around Thanksgiving, the Farm Sanctuary raises money through their Adopt-A-Turkey Project. Between 250 and 300 million turkeys are raised for slaughter every year in the U.S. – more than 46 million alone for Thanksgiving. I want NO part of that! But I do love the idea of putting my money toward helping some of these birds live a long and happy life.

Donors pick out their favorite bird on the Farm Sanctuary website and give a gift of $30 to sponsor their turkey of choice. The money is used to help further Farm Sanctuary's compassionate work of rescuing animals and providing care for them at their California and New York sanctuaries. This year, I chose Daphne:

Isn't she a cutie? She reminds of my girl cat Pandora. I'm not sure why. There's just something about her look that made me think, "if Pandora was a turkey, that's what she'd look like." You see the resemblance?

Anyway, last year I adopted Gideon, but I couldn't find him on the list this time. I hope that doesn't mean he's gone on to turkey heaven. :-( If so, at least he spent his last few years in a lovely sanctuary.

If you're already a vegan or vegetarian, consider adopting a turkey as an annual tradition. And if you're an omni, I double-dog-dare you to give up meat this holiday and adopt a turkey instead. Double. Dog. Dare. That's right.

Have a happy Tofurky Day, y'all! I won't be posting tomorrow night because I'll be at my parents' house getting ready for the big day. But I'll be back on Thursday night with a full Thanksgiving recap!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Thanksgiving at the Office

Almost every year, my company hosts a Thanksgiving lunch a few days before we get off for the actual holiday. Some years, we do a potluck. But this year, the company ordered a catered lunch from Corky's, a local barbecue joint (for the record, the 'cue joint served traditional Thanksgiving food). We have at least six vegetarians at the office, two of whom are vegan (including me!). In case you're wondering, I write for an alt-weekly, The Memphis Flyer.

Corky's doesn't offer any vegan food. Thankfully, I was lookin' for an excuse to cook up my Tofurky Vegetarian Feast, which Turtle Island Foods offered me for free in exchange for a blog review. So I spent last night and this morning cooking up the contents of the feast box — one Tofurky roast (now 20% larger!), one package of Tofurky Giblet Gravy, and an Amy's Chocolate Cake. I also whipped up an extra side dish and dessert.

Now I've had Tofurky plenty of Thanksgiving's before, but in recent years I've switched to Field Roast's Celebration Roast (nothing against Tofurky ... I was just trying to switch things up from year to year). I was excited to give the Tofurky roast another try, cooked up with an olive oil/soy sauce/sage baste and some chopped white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and onions:

I've always loved Tofurky, but I swear it was tastier than it used to be. The texture seemed more tender, and the taste was more, um, turkey-like. Another co-worker commented that it tasted better than she remembered too. If you haven't had a Tofurky in awhile, try it again and see what you think. I think they've changed the recipe for the better. Several of my omni co-workers tried (and liked) the Tofurky as well, and my boss even called it "passable."

Though I didn't photograph the "giblet" gravy, it was also included in the feast box. I'd never it tried before, and it was pretty darn delicious for a frozen heat-and-serve gravy. Tasted homemade.

The box also included an Amy's Organic Chocolate Cake:

Now I've seen these advertised in VegNews, and I've noticed the frozen loaf-size cakes in Whole Foods. But I rarely ever buy pre-made desserts. I figure if I'm gonna splurge on sugar calories, they better be from something homemade. But y'all, this cake is fan-freakin-tastic. OMG. You just take it out of the freezer, thaw for a few hours, and voila. No baking involved. The cake is so, so moist. You could even eat this stuff with a spoon. It reminded me of cake batter, but in solid form. I ate one piece at work and finished off another two pieces later. I wish I had more right now. Thankfully, the feast box comes with coupons for more cake.

I asked other vegetarians in the office to contribute a dish to our alternative feast if they wanted and Hannah (the other vegan) brought a yummy veggie pot pie with phyllo crust. Very fancy. She was worried that it would taste like poop, but it was delicious! Sheryl brought some savory wild rice that really hit the spot. I wish I'd snapped a photo of both dishes, but by the time I saw their food, I was more concerned with eating than taking pictures. I did snap a plate shot, but it came out blurry. Boo.

To make sure we had enough food, I also brought my Hungry Jill Casserole — a baked bean and biscuit dish topped with Daiya:

And I made some Chocolate Pecan Tarts:

The tarts aren't quite where I want them yet, but they're almost there. I figure if I tweak the recipe one more time, I'll have a winner. Both the casserole and tarts will be included in my cookbook.

Several of us herbivores sat together at the company lunch. Here's Susan and Mark, enjoying their cruelty-free fare:

After lunch, Hannah and I fought over the Tofurky Jurky Wishstix:

This cute jerky "wishbone" was also included in the feast box. I'm not sure who won, but Hannah managed to score the bigger half. I think that means she won. Cheater. :-) By the way, check out my festive and seasonally-appropriate "Save a Turkey, Eat Tofu" shirt.

What do you serve as your Thanksgiving centerpiece?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Salad Doesn't Have to Be Boring!

I know some vegan cookbooks steer away from "salad sections" because many vegans want to get away from the myth that we only eat lettuce and carrots all the time. And I get that. But lettuce and carrots are yummy, and good for you!

My book will have a combined "salad & sandwich" section since I view both as super lunch-y foods. In real life, I generally make big ole everything salads with no recipe to speak of. I just throw whatever salad-y stuff I have into a bowl and toss with a convenient bottled dressing. But my book will have some real recipes that include homemade dressings and carefully-paired salad ingredients, like in this Seitan & Red Pear Salad:

It uses the Seitan Chicken from another recipe in the book, red pears, green onions, walnuts, and my homemade white pear vinaigrette. It seems a little fancy for country cookin' book, but even the most downhome cook likes to make gourmet stuff sometimes.
What's your favorite salad combination?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Quinoa Queen

According to Sarah Kramer's 2010 Go Vegan wall calendar, I'm the Quinoa Queen for a Day. That's because I made the recipe of the month — Rustic Quinoa & Yam Salad:

November features a kitschy-cute picture of Sarah donning a pageant crown and a big ole bowl of unadorned quinoa nestled in one of Vegan Dish's awesome bowls (By the way, mom and dad ... if you're reading this, a Vegan Dish mug would be a great Xmas gift idea! Hint, hint!) Anyway, Sarah deserves her crown for inventing this yummy salad.

The quinoa is mixed with cooked sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, maple syrup, and Bragg's. So, so good. Thankfully, the recipe makes a ton so I have plenty more for leftovers.

A word on "yams": I've never eaten, nor even seen, an actual yam. I've eaten my weight (or more) in sweet taters though. That's all you'll find around here. Yams and sweet potatoes are too totally different tubers. Sweet potatoes are orange or yellow with a brown-ish skin. Yams are purple, white, or red with a dark skin. I've never understood why people confuse the two.

And I'm not totally sure if Sarah intended on her recipe to include sweet potatoes or actual yams. But regardless, it's delicious made with sweet potatoes!

Have you ever eaten a real yam? I want to know what it tastes like....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Bluffin' with My Muffin

I've been craving muffins somethin' fierce lately. Not sure why, but it has been a long, long time since I've baked fresh muffins for breakfast. It was time to fix that, and who better to turn to than Isa Chandra Moskowitz?

I flipped through Vegan Brunch, hoping one of the many muffin recipes would call to me. And sure enough, these Pumpkin Bran Muffins were all, "Make me Bianca, make me!" I heeded the call and here's what I got:

Nothin' fancy to look at. In fact, they got a little browner around the edges that I would have liked. But damn are they good! Isa really knows what she's doing. I had some doubts when I saw the recipe called for an oven temperature of 400 degrees, but I was reassured with my first bite.

The batter is loaded with pureed pumpkin and oat bran flakes, so I feel extra healthy when I eat these ... even if they do contain a little sugar. I guess I'd never tried bran flakes before, but I liked the subtle gritty texture the flakes lent these muffins.

I washed them down with a half-cup of Silk Pumpkin Soymilk mixed with a half-cup of regular soymilk. That's a little trick I learned from Nora at Pride & Vegudice. The Silk Pumpkin is way too sweet, and it's a whopping 170 calories per cup. Mixing it with plain soymilk cuts the calories and takes a bite off the sweetness.

What's your favorite muffin flavor?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vegan Mofo: Warm Fuzzies

We interrupt this regularly scheduled food blog for a word from today's featured kitty. That's right, folks. One of my six cats — Gelfling — will be blogging tonight. I'm taking the night off so my felines can share their thoughts on a new pet product that we were given to review — the Pet-zzz-pad, a ped bed warming pad for cats and dogs. Without further ado, here's Gelfing:

"Hey everybody. I'm Gelfling, my mom's most favoritest cat. She says loves us all the same, but I know that's a lie. I'm small and fat and I have the most adorable meow in the house. I can make anyone stop what they're doing to pet me with one little high-pitched mew. It's kind of my superpower."

"Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking to y'all about our new Pet-zzz-pad. Over the weekend, mom placed a small, soft round pad in the living room floor .... right in front of the fireplace she's scared to use. It had a long white cord sticking out of the pad, and she plugged that into the wall."

"I was the first of my five siblings to check it out. They say curiosity killed the cat, but whatevs. I'd rather take a few risks and have fun, unlike my scaredy-cat brother Seymour (but we won't talk about him). I sniffed around the thing, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the heck to do with it. So I walked away and went on to something else. I don't remember what, but I'll bet ya I went over to scoot my water dish around the floor with my head. That's my favorite game! And it makes mama so mad because I splash water all over the kitchen floor. Ha ha!"

"A few minutes later, I walked back to the Pet-zzz-pad in the living room. By then, my older brother Polaris had already figured it out. Here's Polaris acting like he's already king of the Pet-zzz-pad"

"According to Po-po (that's his nickname, by the way), you have to lay on the pad to activate the warmer. He laid on it for awhile and it reached a vet-recommended 102 degrees! That sounds hot, but Po-po said the soft cloth pad doesn't get too warm."

"I wouldn't know because Po-po's been a total Pet-zzz-pad hog for days. He lays on it all the time now and the rest of us haven't had a chance to try it out. I mean, he moves for breakfast and dinner, but I'm certainly not missing a meal for anything in the world."

"The Pet-zzz-pad is intended for use in cat or small dog beds, but we never lay in ours. We prefer the people bed, the computer chair, or the back of the couch. So mom's just leaving the pad plugged in next to the fireplace. It works well as it's own bed for cats, and the fleece pad is machine-washable. That's a good thing since all six of us cats love to throw up hairballs on anything soft. Mom will be washing this thing all the time!"

"Mom says the pad retails for $19.99 to $39.99, and it's available at Pet-zzz-pad website or at PETCO. I bet it'd be a great holiday gift for your pets! Mom really outta buy all of us cats our own Pet-zzz-pad because Polaris has laid claim on the one we have now."

And now a word from mom: Don't forget to enter Rick's Nacho Mama Vegan Queso giveaway over at the Health Sleuth blog!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vegan Mofo: More Barbecue!

Remember last night when I said Memphis was built on barbecue? Yep, still true. Rock 'n' roll and barbecue. That's what we do here. I can even do barbecue two nights in a row ... how rock 'n' roll is that?!

This time, I went the "dry rub" route with the final version of my BBQ Dry Rub Seitan Ribs:

Y'all have seen these before in various stages of development. But I've finally got the recipe where I want it. The 'cue flavor in these tender "ribs" comes not from a sauce, but from a combination of spices and a hint of brown sugar.

I served my ribs with a helpin' of my Cheezy Broccoli Rice Casserole:

Not the best photo, I know. But it's hard to make a casserole look nice. You can see a prettier shot here from last December. I don't know about y'all but I grew up eating a not-so-healthy version of broccoli rice casserole — loaded with Velveeta, white rice, and condensed cream of mushroom soup. I promise mine is way, way healthier! But still tasty.

In case you're wondering about a cookbook update, I'm in the home stretch. I have until the first of January to finish testing and make the final edits before submitting my manuscript. That's why you've seen so many test recipes lately.

Don't forget to enter Rick's Nacho Mama Vegan Queso giveaway over at the Health Sleuth blog!

Back on the 'cue theme, what's your favorite vegan way to enjoy barbecue sauce or rub?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan Mofo: BBQ Tempeh Pizza

The streets of Memphis are paved with barbecue sauce. Seriously. The people here live, eat, and breathe the 'cue. So it's no wonder that my cookbook will have lots and lots of vegan barbecue-based recipes. Thankfully, you can do a million and one things with barbecue sauce. Down here, we put 'cue-sauced protein on our sandwiches, nachos, salads, spaghetti, and even pizza!

A long time ago — back when I first started my cookbook project — I developed a BBQ Tempeh Pizza. But the early incarnations were more of a first draft. You can see old pics here and here. At first, I wasn't sure how to slice my tempeh for a pizza topping. But duh. I finally figured out that crumbled tempeh was the only way to go. Past versions weren't quite barbecue-y enough, but I've finally perfected my BBQ Tempeh Pizza:

The tempeh is sauteed in my homemade Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce (heavy on the vinegar with a lovely hint of sweetness). It's crumbled atop a homemade nutritional yeast-based cheeze sauce and a bed of fresh baby spinach.

There's no red sauce though. The nooch sauce takes the place of a traditional marinara and, thus, erases the need for shredded vegan cheeze. Nothing against shredded vegan cheeze pizzas though. Daiya pizza totally rocks my world. But I feel like the nooch sauce is a better complement to the tangy crumbled tempeh.

Speaking of cheeze, don't forget to enter Rick's Nacho Mama Vegan Queso giveaway over at the Health Sleuth blog!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vegan Mofo: From Mexico to Mississippi

For the past couple of days, I've shared photos of my vegan breakfasts, lunches, and dinners on our family Carnival cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. While I found plenty to eat on the boat, I also ate pretty well on land during the trip.

On Saturday, our ship — the Carnival Triumph — docked in Cozumel, Mexico just after breakfast. Another Carnival ship, the Ecstasy, docked right next to us a few minutes later. Check out this view of the two ships from the shore in Cozumel:

By the way, you might have noticed that I misspelled "Cozumel" in my last two posts (both have been corrected). Thanks to a commenter for catching the error. I was spelling it with a "y" as "Cozymel" instead of a "u" as "Cozumel." I blame that on the fact that Memphis used to have a restaurant called "Cozymel" with the "y." Oops!

Anyway, after a bit of shopping in the tourist area of Cozumel (yes, I bought LOTS of Mexican wrestler masks!), we wandered off the beaten path in search of a quiet place to eat lunch. An employee at a nearby hotel suggested we try Las de Guanatos .... and he gave us a coupon for three free drinks!

I chose a plain margarita on the rocks, and it was one of the best I've ever had:

My parents opted for blended mango margs:

Their menu didn't have any vegetarian options, so I asked the server if they could make me some vegetarian fajitas. He said that wouldn't be a problem, and then he brought us these homemade corn tortilla chips with the world's most perfect dish of pico de gallo for snackin' while we waited:

When our food finally arrived, I was so delighted to see what the chef had concocted for me — French Fry Fajitas!

Some healthier vegans might have been disappointed, but I can think of no greater meal than sauteed French fries, peppers, and onions piled onto a homemade corn tortilla. Carbtastic! This reminded me of a Mexican version of my favorite New Orleans sandwich, the French Fry Po' Boy. I wasn't so sure about the beans being totally vegan, but I ate them anyway. Sigh. And the guacamole was out of this world!

After lunch and more shopping, we boarded the boat to head back to New Orleans. You've already seen what I ate on the ship Saturday night and Sunday. On Monday morning, we docked in NOLA, made our way off the ship, and piled into the car for the six-hour drive from NOLA to Memphis.

As if by fate, we just so happened to be passing through Jackson, Mississippi around lunchtime. Since it was a weekday, that meant my favorite vegan lunch-only diner — the High Noon Cafe — was open. The High Noon Cafe serves delicious vegan fare inside the Rainbow Grocery Co-op, but it's a three-hour drive from Memphis so I only eat there about once a year ... when we're passing through for a New Orleans trip.

This time, I opted to start with the soup special — Tomato Lime:

This chunky tomato soup was well-spiced with only a hint of lime. It was served with a half-slice of sprouted grain bread.

Since we'd been pigging out on the cruise all weekend, I wanted something a little healthier for my entree (had to make up for those French fry fajitas!). I decided on the Blue Bowl:

Brown rice is topped with flavorful baked, marinated tofu, lightly steamed carrots, cauliflower, and edammame. And it's topped with a yummy Thai peanut sauce. The perfect end to a lovely family vacation.

On another note, y'all should get over to Rick the Health Sleuth's blog to enter his giveaway of Nacho Mama's Vegan Queso. This stuff is all natural, low-cal, animal-free vegan cheeze dip. I wish I coulda had some of that to top my French fry fajitas. The contest is open through Nov. 17th, but get over there now!