Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!

Tonight, on the last night of Vegan Mofo, I have a fabulous post about my family's Halloween tradition. But first, I have a very important announcement — Bankrupt Vegan was the winner of the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day giveaway!!! Yea!!!

And before I get to Halloween night, check out my costume. I didn't dress up tonight, because I wore my costume on Saturday for a couple of parties. I started Saturday night at the Friends for Life Halloween party. The theme was "Apocalypse 2012: The Party to End All Parties," and besides Cher, what will survive the end of times? Roaches. That's right. So I went as a roach motel:

Throughout the night, at both parties, my roaches, which were hot-glued to my dress, fell off. So I left a trail of roaches in my path. Fab!!

Okay, now onto tonight. Every year, my family gathers at my Me-Maw's house in Jonesboro, Arkansas for Halloween to eat chili dogs. My Me-Maw LOVES Halloween! It's her fave holiday! Here she is sporting one of her many Halloween sweatshirts:

Me-Maw goes all out for Halloween. She trades out all of her knick-knacks and other decor for witches, pumpkins, ghosts, and bats. She even has a Halloween tree:

Here's some more decor:

Even her pot holders are Halloween-themed:

And if that wasn't enough, check out her Frankenstein toilet cover!

I wish I had room here to show you everything, but that would take a million years. There's literally Halloween in every inch of her house. It's overwhelming. Nothing goes un-goblinized.

Everyone else eats real hot dogs and meat chili, but my mom always brings over veggie dogs for me. And rather than feed me vegan chili from a can, she makes my chili from scratch. I piled my dog high with chili, relish, onions, vegan cheese, and jalapenos:

My mom also made these adorable Halloween cookies using Oreos and Nutter Butters:

And although Oreos and Nutter Butters are vegan, the dip stuff she used wasn't. So she made me vegan chocolate chip cookies with Halloween frosting and sprinkles to make up for it:

I got to spend time with my family and eat chili dogs. It doesn't get much better than that. Before I left, I snapped a quick pic of my Me-Maw (mama's mama), my Mama, and my Granny (daddy's mama):

Happy Halloween! And for those who read this on November 1st, Happy Dio de los Muertos!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feast of the Dead

My last two posts during Vegan Mofo won't be sandwich-themed. Instead, I'm posting about my Halloween traditions. Tomorrow night, on Halloween, I'll tell y'all about my family tradition, but tonight, I'm inviting you all to my annual Feast of the Dead.

Long before Americans were celebrating Halloween, folks of the Gaelic tradition were celebrating Samhain, the last harvest and the night when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead are thinnest. I like to celebrate that ancient holiday with a little feast honoring my friends and family members who have passed.

Every year, I set a table with pictures or items representing everyone I know who has died during my lifetime. As I get older, my guest list grows. This year, I "invited" 13 people:

There were places for Trudy (Mama Dragon), Tammy (Tzaddia Morningstar), Daniel, Adam, Flick, Smoky, Xander, David Ray, my grandpa Haas (my mama's daddy), my Pa (my daddy's daddy), my Aunt Ruth, my kitty Alexius, and my kitty Patches.

I light a candle for each person who has passed and think about my memories of them as I dine on Smoky South American Seitan Stew from Grub:

I don't know why, but I make this same stew every year for the Samhain feast. I always have, and I never make it any other time of year. It's so delicious that it's worth saving for such a special occasion. The chipotle-tomato broth is loaded with homemade seitan, red potatoes, fried plantains, and cilantro. I dipped slices of toasted garlic bread into the soup and washed it down with some red wine.

No Feast of the Dead is complete without dessert. Some years, I make a harvest-themed dessert, but now that my friend Stephanie sells her vegan cakes at Imagine Vegan Cafe, I can be lazy and buy a slice. Her cake is better than anything I can make anyway. I purchased a slice of her Halloween-themed Chocolate-Orange Cake last week and froze it for tonight:

In case you're wondering how well cake freezes, well, let's just say this slice tasted as fresh as if it were baked today. I wrapped it in plastic wrap, froze it for a week, and thawed a few hours before dinner.

Don't forget to enter my Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day giveaway! I'm picking a winner on Wednesday night! Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Burger Without a Bun

Is a sandwich without bread still a sandwich? Some might say no, but for the sake of my Vegan Mofo sandwich theme, I'm saying yes.

Tonight, I made a bun-less burger from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet by Joni Marie Newman — the Enchilada Burger:

This unique burger is unlike any burger I've had. TVP is simmered with onions in enchilada sauce, and then you mix in black olives, scallions, and masa flour to form a dough. It tastes like a cross between an enchilada and a tamale. I absolutely love the black olives! Perfect addition.

And I really like how the masa flour makes the burger hold together. Some homemade burgers taste amazing but fall apart the minute you pick them up. Not this guy. It's meaty and, dare I say, toothsome. God, I hate that word, but I'm not sure how else to say it.

Anyway, I served the burger, as suggested by Joni, with vegan sour cream and a corn tortilla. On the side, I made the suggested Cilantro Lime Rice:

Joni says this is supposed to taste like the cilantro lime rice they serve at Chipotle, and oh my god, it does! Exactly like it. It's buttery, lime-y, and loaded with cilantro.

The only thing missing from this meal was salad and salsa, but I was out of both. I picked up a lettuce mix and some corn salsa at Kroger tonight though, so my leftovers will be a complete meal.

Don't forget to enter my Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day giveaway!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day Giveaway!

Throughout Vegan Mofo, I've been blogging about sandwiches a few times each week. Now, I've always loved a good sandwich, but I must admit that my Mofo theme was influenced by a very special new cookbook — Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes.

My copy arrived from Amazon just a few days before Mofo began, and I knew I wanted to spend much of the month drooling over it and trying a few things. And then, as if by some strange twist of fate, Tami asked me to participate on the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day blog tour. That means I'll be doing a review here, and then we're giving away a copy to one lucky Crunk reader!

A flip through this full-color volume reveals that same rustic-meets-retro photography that has become so synonymous with Celine's previous work with Joni Newman. That's because Celine does all the photography, and she has a style all her own. Tami's downhome influence shines through in so many of the recipes, which are all comfort food, pure and simple.

The 101 sandwich recipes are organized by type: There's a chapter for breakfast sandwiches (my fave! check out my review of the Country Tempeh Sandwich), topless sandwiches (open-faced if you're prudish), cold sandwiches, diner-style sandwiches, dessert sandwiches, and one devoted to "bold new ground" (crazy sandwiches that push the culinary envelope).

Of course, I flipped the book straight to the Bold New Ground chapter. I love going on crazy new taste adventures. The Mac-Shroom immediately caught my attention:

Why, yes, that is macaroni and cheese on a bun. And it's sitting atop a barbecue portabella mushroom. Brill, huh? The recipe reminded me of the Mac-No-Cheeto Wrap (mac & cheese, BBQ Soy Curls, and peppers on a wrap) from Homegrown Smoker in Portland. BBQ sauce and mac & cheese go together like butter and toast. Oh, and this sauce is homemade with all sorts of stuff you wouldn't expect to find in a 'cue sauce, like apple butter and freshly brewed coffee. But it works! The sauce has a smoky-sweet flavor that is just amazing.

There are so many sandwiches I want to try from this book: the Retro KFC-Style Sandwiches (made with cornflake-crusted homemade seitan!), the Torta de Tofu (marinated tofu, avocado, and veggies on a baguette), the Bananas Foster Cake Sandwiches (basically an ice cream sandwich with cake as the sandwich), French Tofu Salad Sandwich (tofu and white grapes!), and the Navajo Tacos (Indian tacos with homemade fried bread).

If you don't have the book yet, you too can have a list of must-makes. All you have to do is leave a comment here telling me about your favorite sandwich, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a copy of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. I'll randomly select a winner on Wednesday night. By the publisher's request, the contest is only open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. If you're Blogger profile does not include an email or way to contact you, please leave your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cereal Killer

Okay, yea, my post title doesn't totally make sense, but I meant, like, lately, I've been eating a lot of cereal. Like, I'm killin' it! Right? Yea, it's a stretch.

Anyway, while I've been eating sandwiches all month for lunch and dinner, I've been eating a ton of cereal for breakfast (and the occasional late-night snack). That's because Whole Foods sent me a few new cereals and plant milks to try for blog reviews.

One of those cereals is Erewhon Supergrains Buckwheat & Hemp, and one of the milks is Sunflower Dream:

They were a perfect combo mixed with sliced bananas:

The Erewhon flakes were quite substantial. They were crunchy and held up to the milk for the 10 minutes or so it took me to finish this bowl (I eat very slowly so I make my food last as long as possible ... eating time is happy time). As for the flavor, well, they taste healthy. But that's not a bad thing. The flakes are unsweetened, and they have a slightly hempy flavor, which I like. But someone used to sugary cereals might not be so into them. Fortunately, I've kicked the sugary cereal habit, so I enjoy that crunchy, hippie flavor.

The Sunflower Dream milk tastes very healthy too. You can definitely taste the sunflower, but it's not overpowering. It's on the same creaminess level as, say, almond milk, but it's not quite as thick as soy or coconut. And it's packed with calcium (score!) and vitamin E. Would I choose sunflower over my standard almond or soy? Probably not. Unless it was on super-sale. But every once in a while, I like to mix up my milks. It's fun to have milk choices.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches Save Memphis

As part of my Mofo sandwich theme, I've been blogging not only about sandwiches I make at home, but vegan sandwiches available in Memphis. The theme was, of course, inspired by my favorite new cookbook, Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day, which is chock full of amazing homemade sammies (more on this book Sunday night). But sometimes, a girl just ain't got time for that.

On those busy days when I'm running here and there, I rely on Memphis' many vegan-friendly restaurants to give me my sandwich fix. A couple weeks ago, I blogged about the many, many vegan sandwich options at Imagine Vegan Cafe. But there are plenty of options elsewhere as well. Tonight, I'll show you two more.

Fuel Cafe, a casual diner operated out of an old gas station, is famous for their homemade vegan burger. But after having that time and time again, I decided to branch out and try another vegan option there — the Tomato Bahn Mi:

Ha! Check out that "subtle" Cookin' Crunk plug in the background! Not on purpose. Swear.

It's a vegan spin on the traditional Vietnamese sandwich typically made with meat, cucumbers, pickled daikon, and carrots. This one had the cucumbers, daikon, and carrots, but the main filling was marinated tomatoes. On its own, it was a little bland. But I requested a bottle of sriracha halfway through the sandwich, and holy crap! The sandwich went from "meh" to "whoa." I will be ordering this again, and I will request sriracha from the start.

Cosmic Coconut is mostly known for serving fresh vegan smoothies and juices, but they've recently added a few hot food items during lunch. There's a black bean quinoa burger (had it ... delish!) and a hummus wrap. But the real star is the Vegan Grilled Cheese:

Mmmmm .... vegan grilled cheese heaven

Made with Daiya, spinach, tomatoes, and sprouted grain bread, this is one fabulous sandwich. And there's just something so satisfying about ordering a vegan grilled cheese in a restaurant. I like to follow this sandwich up with a fresh Rejuvenator juice (beets, wheatgrass, carrot, apple, ginger, kale).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's Pumpkin Time

We interrupt this Vegan Mofo sandwich theme for a very special announcement — pumpkin time has arrived!! I think my friend Stephanie of Swell Baked Goods said it best with this Facebook pic:

Yea, yea, I know people have been eating pumpkin all month, and it's nearly over. But I cooked my first pumpkin dish of the season this week — Pumpkin Oats from the 2012 Happy Herbivore Wall Calendar:

These creamy oats are amazing. There's, of course, pumpkin, as well as plump raisins (I use the pre-moistened baking raisins because they're awesome!), pumpkin pie spice, and maple syrup.

The one thing I will change when I make this again in the morning is I'll add more maple syrup. The recipe only calls for one tablespoon, but this bowl could have been a tad sweeter. I'm not a huge sugar fan in the morning, but if I'm trying to eat something sweet, well, I want it to be all the way sweet.

I can't find the recipe on Happy Herbivore's site, but I did see that someone else had posted it. It's simple and delicious.

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Favorite Sandwich from Cookin' Crunk

Ask a cookbook author her favorite recipe, and she'll probably be hard-pressed to pick just one. I have a list of faves that I rattle off every time someone asks. But there's one sandwich that always tops my list — the Fried Tofu Chicken Wafflewich:

Chicken 'n' waffles is a thing down South. To be honest, in my meaty pre-teens, I never actually tried this strange combo. But when I started cooking vegan, I became obsessed with trying to recreate it. And what better way to combine chicken and waffles than with the awesomeness of a wafflewich?

Now, this recipe is no joke. It involves making my Southern Fried Tofu Chicken (beer battered!!) and my Savory Sandwich Waffles. Oh, and there's a simple recipe for the sandwich's signature Maple-Dijon Sauce.

It's not light on calories either. Most of my recipes are reasonable, calorie-wise, because I count calories religiously. There's even a calorie/nutrition breakdown provided for every recipe in the book, but don't expect this one to be light. I mean, the tofu is beer-battered and fried, for god's sake. But hey, sometimes you gotta live a little. I only eat this sandwich a few times a year, so I gotta make it count.

But despite all the work and calories, every sinful bite is worth it. Just check out the ass end of this sandwich:

Tip: If you have a crappy wafflemaker, cook the waffles a little longer for extra toastiness. The waffles need to be able to stand up to the fillings. If that doesn't work, toast the waffles in a toaster after they're done cooking. Unlike breakfast waffles, sandwich waffles shouldn't have to be eaten with a fork. But it all depends on your waffle maker. I just bought a new one, and it's just "meh" so extra toasting is required.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Last Birthday Post, I Swear

I'm one of those people who doesn't just have birthDAYs. I have "birth weeks." I like to milk that shiz for all it's worth, and my friends don't seem to mind. Since my birthday fell on a Tuesday, I celebrated last Sunday with my family, Tuesday with a small group of friends, Thursday on a birthday lunch with my co-workers, and the celebration culminated this past Saturday with a big ole Birthoween (that's birthday + Halloween) party at my friend Andy's house.

I have two Halloween costumes this year (one for this past weekend and another for real Halloween next weekend), and both are guaranteed to survive the apocalypse. When the world ends in December, only two things will remain — cockroaches (next week's costume) and Cher:

Yep, that's 1970s Cher. I had a costume change later in the evening and came out as "If I Could Turn Back Time" 1980s Cher:

Ha! It's not quite a sequined jumpsuit, but it was the closest thing I could find. People got it, and that's all that matters.

My friends Sheridan and Drew came into town from Little Rock. Drew was a crazy zipperface guy and Sheridan was a gypsy:

Okay, okay. I know you're really here for the food. Andy and Jordan, my friends who threw the party, aren't vegan. But they made a few vegan dishes for us to chow on. There were Vegan Pigs in Blankets:

And this amazing Chili Cream Cheese Dip. It's just a layer of vegan cream cheese topped with a layer of canned vegan chili and then baked in the oven. But it is SO GOOD! Especially with Fritos Scoops:

I'm lucky that one of my close friends happens to be a famous vegan baker! Stephanie (a.k.a. Poopie Bitch from the PPK) gifts me a fabulous vegan cake every year. And this year she outdid herself (as she always does). First, there were Rainbow Cupcakes!

Look inside!! OMG! This is unicorn food!

But she didn't stop there. No way. She made me a SPRINKLE CAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Every single inch of this cake was completely covered in sprinkles. She said it was a huge pain and that she'd never do it again. So if you're thinking about ordering a cake from Stephanie, don't ask for this or she'll kill me.

Oh, but she didn't stop at sprinkles. When we cut into the cake, I squealed with glee when I saw this! Rainbow frosting!!

Overall, it was a magical night. Loads of friends in fabulous costumes. Awesome presents. And sprinkle cake. That's all I really want out of life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sandwich Crunkness

First, some announcements:
* My good friends (and co-worker) Justin and Amy of the Chubby Vegetarian tried the Hot Tamale Pie from Cookin' Crunk, and they posted the recipe. So if you'd like a freebie, go check it out! 
* I had another article published on It's a rundown of eight tips for surviving as a small-town vegan (or even a vegan living in a mid-sized, not-so-vegan-friendly town). Check it.
And now I have a promise to fulfill. I said I'd give you a spectacular Mofo sandwich tonight in keeping with my theme. But you really ought to thank John Plummer of The I-40 Kitchen for this one. Ladies and gentlemen, behold the Grant Stack:

That's vegan pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, and tempeh bacon, all tucked between two slices of One Degree Veganic Lentil Grain bread. There really aren't words to describe how awesome this combo is.

You see, for Mofo, John is making recipes from different states. The Grant Stack is a popular sandwich over in Georgia, but since I'm from the Mid-South, I'd never heard of such a thing. John messaged me a few weeks back and said he planned to make this for Mofo, and he was using three recipes from my cookbook to make it. Yep, there are recipes for Vegan Pimento Cheese, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Tempeh Bacon in my book. But I never dreamed of putting them together! After John posted pics of his stack sandwich, I knew I had to give it a try. If you have Cookin' Crunk, you really need to try these recipes together!

Now, about that bread. One Degree Organics sent me two loaves of their veganic breads to review — Lentil Grain and Sesame Sunflower. I've only recently learned the word "veganic." It basically means a product is gold star, like as vegan as possible. Organic produce is often grown with animal byproducts, like bone or blood meal (GROSS!). And that stuff comes from slaughterhouses, so vegans are kind of contributing to factory farming by eating organic produce (SCARY!).

Anyway, "veganic" means organic produce that's only grown in vegan stuff. One Degree is proud of their veganic farmers, so much so that each loaf has a QR code that, when scanned, tells the story of the farmers who grew the product. Pretty awesome. Plus, the bread is freaking delicious. It's whole grain, but it's not too hippie-ish and brown. I like a lighter bread, just like this.

All that being said, it'd be nearly impossible to be a totally veganic vegan, unless you have your own farm or something. But I'm going to start looking for the "veganic" label wherever I can. Every little bit we can do for the animals helps.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

32nd Birthday Eats!

I've totally sucked at keeping with my Mofo sandwich theme this week, but it's my birth week, so I've decided to eat whatever I want. I promise to give you a sandwich tomorrow though, and holy crap y'all, it's a good one.

But tonight, I'm sharing pictures of my Sunday birthday dinner with my family. Since my birthday fell on a Tuesday this year and my parents are out of town this week anyway, I decided to do my birthday with them last Sunday. They live an hour away in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

When my mama asked me what I wanted to eat for my birthday, the answer was simple — fried stuff! I'm a Southern girl through and through, and I love a good fried veggie. If you have Cookin' Crunk, you already know. I've included several fried recipes there (fried squash, fried cucumbers, fried green tomatoes, etc.).

When I arrived at my parents' house on Sunday around lunchtime, my mama and granny were already hard at work, battering and frying with two different Fry Daddies at the same time. We had fried squash, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, vegan dumplins, and just for good measure, baked sweet potatoes. Hey, the USDA says half our plate should be filled with veggies, right? Does it matter if they're fried? Probably. But I don't care. I do what I want on my birthday.

Plus, there was good ole beans 'n' cornbread. A Southern meal is not complete without those:

Granny had fried okra duty. She used a Cajun seafood boil seasoning in the cornbread batter, and they were so good. You can see my mama's fried squash here too. I love how she slices it super thin:

Granny also made fried green tomatoes:

My mom tossed some cubed sweet potatoes with onion dip mix and baked them. Really tasty:

But the star of the show for me were my mama's homemade dumplins. This is like a vegan version of chicken 'n' dumplins. I don't know how she makes them so tender, but she really does make the best dumplins in the world:

Of course, mama made me cake too! Red velvet cupcakes with vegan cream cheese frosting, served with coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream.

I definitely got my birthday wish with this decadent meal!