Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Isa Does It!

I've been eagerly awaiting the publication of Isa Does It, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new massive full-color, photo-heavy volume of simple everyday recipes. I'm not sure what it is about Isa's stuff, but everything she comes up with is just gold. Pure, nooch-covered vegan gold. Her and Terry's cookbook collaborations are definitely the most well-worn volumes on my cookbook shelf. And I'm pretty sure the same goes for every other vegan in the world.

I waited until Atlanta VegFest to buy my copy because I wanted to get a signed copy from Isa. Here she is signing my book (or actually making a goofy face)!

I've only tried a couple of recipes so far, but both were FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. First, I tried the Scrambled Chickpeas for breakfast, because, well, scrambled chickpeas!

This is an alternative to scrambled tofu (and there's nothing wrong with scrambled tofu, but sometimes a vegan gal needs to mix things up). Chickpeas are sauteed with caramelized onions and dill, served over toast, and topped with the optional miso-tahini sauce. I love a savory breakfast, and this was just perfect. But you know, without Isa, I'd have never thought of scrambling chickpeas. She's just so innovative!

The other dish I tried is perhaps the most beautiful thing I've eaten all year — Mushroom Hotpot.

Isn't it just too pretty to eat?! The broth is made from shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, onions, anise pods, and coconut milk. And from there, Isa provides suggestions about what to add to your soup. I went with udon noodles, grilled tofu (recipe is in the book), cilantro, and sriracha. Sadly, some of my lemongrass was a little tough, so I ended up spitting out pieces every now and then. But still so very tasty and pretty!

Also, I learned from making this that I don't hate anise pods. I hate licorice, and I assumed I hated anise too. But I wanted to use the pods called for in the recipe because I knew they'd be so pretty in a picture. And honestly, it gave the soup a lovely flavor, like Chinese Five-Spice Powder.

I can't wait to try more from this book. I swear every recipe sounds like something I want to make, so it'll be hard to narrow it down. There's a whole chapter on bowls (Cozy Hummus Bowl, Cucumber Ranch Bowl!!). And a chapter on handheld foods (Baked Garlic-Curry Fries, Black-Eyed Pea & Collard Tacos!). And a chapter on stir-fries (Sticky Orange Chicky Stir-Fry! Seitan & Broccoli with Pantry BBQ Sauce!).

I'll have to wait a bit before I get into those recipes though. I'm headed home tomorrow night for Thanksgiving with my family. And then it's leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. I'm also declaring December "Pantry & Fridge Clean-Out Month." But more on that later. I won't be blogging Wednesday night, so have a happy un-turkey day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

One-Dish Vegan

Yesterday, I blogged about our Food Awareness Thanksgiving potluck, which was held last Saturday. But I didn't show you my contribution. That's because I wanted to save the picture for a review post tonight.

This Chickpea & Kale Stew was the first dish I tried from One-Dish Vegan, the new cookbook by vegan maven Robin Robertson.

It's a simple dish with big flavor — chickpeas, kale, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and potatoes. It's all slow-simmered with cumin, coriander, oregano, and cayenne. It went over so well at the potluck that I had no leftovers! I should eat really more meals like this —just beans and veggies and a starch. This time of year, as I prepare for the holiday time of massive meals and sugar galore, I start dreaming of all the healthy stuff (like this dish) that I'll eat to cleanse my system when the holidays are over.

One-Dish Vegan would be just the book to use to reset your system. It's not designed as a cleanse book or anything, but every dish in this book is made with whole foods (mostly beans, a little tofu and tempeh, and hardly any fake meat). Don't get me wrong — I LOVE fake meat and dairy-free cheese. But sometimes, we need a break from that stuff.

All the dishes in this book are complete meals in one bowl or plate, hence the book's name. There are chilis, stews, casseroles, soups, and even salads with all your food groups (most of the salads contains grains as well as veggies).

I have a few recipes bookmarked for those days when I can focus on healthy foods again — Brown Rice with White Beans, Shiitakes, and Spinach, Garlic Lover's Chili (it has 8 cloves!), Japanese-Style Coconut Rice Bowl (sweet potato, kidney beans, zucchini, coconut milk, and rice), and Artichoke Spaghetti Pie.

But those things will have to wait at least until we get Thanksgiving out of the way. I just baked a Tofurky and a big pot of gravy to take to work tomorrow for the annual company Thanksgiving potluck!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Before Thanksgiving

Before I get into tonight's photo-heavy post, I've been asked to announce that Cassi is having a giveaway on her blog, The Pretty in Pink Vegan. She'll give a handmade gingerbread man holiday ornament by Memphis artist Funlola Coker to one lucky commenter. Click here to enter.

Each year, our Memphis vegetarian club, Food Awareness, has some sort of Thanksgiving potluck/meal/get-together thing. We used to hold the event at a comedy club, and a few members (myself included) would act out skits and sing crazy songs and do stand-up. But that club closed a few years back, and ever since, we've been holding the event at members' homes.

This year, Barbara and Ken (yes, they're names are seriously Barbie and Ken ... how cute is that?!) held the Thanksgiving potluck at their cute, Asian-inspired East Memphis home (the house has a pagoda roof!). It wasn't a traditional potluck where everyone brings a dish. Vaughan, who founded Food Awareness with me years ago and does most of the leg work on organizing, brought most of the food. And everyone else was asked to bring something only if they wanted to. Most people just brought wine or snacks.

One couple brought some of the best Vegan Sour Cream 'n' Onion Dip that I've ever had!

Diane brought vegan cheese dip in a Crock Pot, and it was so good! But I forgot to photograph it.

I brought a yummy stew from Robin Robertson's One Dish Vegan, but I'm saving that picture for a review post of her latest book tomorrow night. Here's a little glimpse at everything else we ate though.

Rather than roast a traditional Tofurky, Vaughan grilled and sliced Tofurky Sausages. Since I'll be eating plenty of faux turkey over the next few days, sausage was a nice twist.

Perhaps my favorite dish was Vaughan's Curried Fingerling Potatoes. These were coated in a spicy curry sauce that was just awesome.

I also really loved his Wheat Berries with Raisins and Walnuts. Chewy wheat berries are probably my favorite grain ever. I should really cook more wheat berries.

We also had a Tomato Millet Pilaf.

And there was Vaughan's Vinegar-Seasoned Kale.

And we had Green Lentils with Baby Carrots.

As you can see, Vaughan cooks very healthy vegan meals. Grains, beans, and veggies are his staples. He eats way healthier than I typically do! But it felt good to go crazy with a massive plate of low-fat, whole foods-based vegan dishes, especially considering that this Thursday, I'll be eating so much Thanksgiving madness.

Sadly, no one brought dessert. So Cassi, Greg, Brodrick, and I went back to my house and made mini Vegan Donuts in my Bella Donut Maker. I picked up the donut maker at the Goodwill a few months ago, but this was my first time trying it out. These were so soft and cakey!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

In the Rooster We Trust

I'm awfully sorry those people in Irwindale, California are having to deal pepper and garlic fumes emanating from the Huy Fong sriracha plant. I'm sure breathing constant pepper fumes all day must be somewhat painful. But I'm glad a judge denied that city's bid to shut the plant down last month. Those folks in Irwindale are just gonna have to take one for the team. The people need their sriracha.

I'm a sriracha addict. I put that spicy, garlicky rooster sauce on EVERYTHING! So I was super excited when Stephanie gifted me Randy Clemens' The Veggie-Lovers Sriracha Cookbook: 50 Vegan "Rooster Sauce" Recipes That Pack a Punch for my birthday last month. It's a totally vegan cookbook, and every single recipe uses sriracha (even the desserts!). Brilliant!

I made the first thing I've tried from the book this week — Bánh Xéo!

Bánh Xéo looks like an omelet, but it taste more like a crepe. It's a thin rice flour pancake stuffed with filling and served with bean sprouts and nuoc cham sauce. I first tried this dish at a Vietnamese place here in Memphis and just fell in love. But I'd never attempted to make it on my own.

The crepe batter contains 1/4 cup of sriracha, so it has a tad bit of spice. But it's not overpowering. And it's stuffed with sauteed tofu, mushrooms, and my homegrown mung bean sprouts. The nuoc cham sauce (recipe is in the book) is a sweet and spicy soy-based sauce that I spiked with my homegrown habanero peppers. I like things hot, hot, hot, and this dish did the trick (especially after adding the habaneros).

I look forward to trying more stuff from this book! Two words (one hyphenated) — Maple-Sriracha Doughnuts!!!

Anyway, moving on. On the side, I made a super-simple dish from The Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook, another birthday gift cookbook from my BFF Sheridan and her Drew. This is a really old vintage book from 1972, and it has thick, textured pages. It's not all vegan, but most recipes are. And they're not really written as recipes but rather in narrative form. It's pretty cool.

I made the Cauliflower in Seasoned Sauce.

This is exactly what it sounds like. It's chopped cauliflower cooked down in a sauce made from soy sauce, salt, sugar, cornstarch, and sesame oil. I probably wouldn't even need a recipe for this, but it felt more authentic using cookbook author Gary Lee's vintage recipe.

That's all for tonight. Have a spicy weekend!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vintage Baked Goodies!

I've met some of the coolest people through this blog. If it weren't for Vegan Crunk, I may have never met my baker friend Stephanie (Poopie Bitch) and I certainly wouldn't have vegan friends all over the world. No matter where I go, chances are I know a vegan there. Not to get all mushy and Thanksgiving-y, but I'm totally grateful for that!

In fact, this very blog helped make a connection between myself and another Memphis vegan baker just a few days ago. It all started a few weeks ago when a dude named TJ emailed me. He said he his wife Dená had been vegan for about four years, and she had started creating some delicious vegan baked goods. He wondered if I could give her any advice on getting a baking business off the ground. I suggested a few vegan-friendly restaurants that I'd love to see vegan desserts sold in.

And then a couple weeks later, Dená emailed me herself. She said she'd like for me to try her stuff! Well, who would say no to fresh baked vegan goodies?! On Monday night, Dená and TJ stopped by my house bearing treats! Here's Dená in my dining room.

Dená started eating healthier around 2000 after losing her dad to massive heart failure. Her mom also suffered heart problems, and Dená discovered that heart disease runs in her family. At that time, she was 224 pounds. But she started eating better and shed 100 pounds. She wasn't vegan then, but she was focusing more on fresh food and exercising. Then, in 2009, on her anniversary, she experienced anaphylactic shock from a food allergy she didn't even know she had. That's when she decided to go vegan. Her husband TJ followed her soon after.

Fast forward to now. Dená is baking desserts using veganized versions of her great-grandmother's recipes. Since her great-grandma's name was Snowdie Pearl, that's what Dená settled on for the name of her baking company. Memphis readers: She's not selling anywhere yet, but I will keep you posted.

Wanna see what she brought me to sample?

There were Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Brownies! Some had icing and some didn't. These were so moist and nutty. I've not had a lot of gluten-free baked goods, but I couldn't tell a difference between these and gluten-containing brownies.

And she brought two styles of vanilla cupcakes! There were Vanilla Cupcakes with Crumble Topping.

And my personal fave, the Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting (and a cupcake on top!!! Bonus!!). Also I just love the faux flower. It really gives this cupcake a vintage look.

The cupcakes were incredibly moist, and the frosting was buttery and creamy. I can't wait until Snowdie Pearl treats are available in a store or bakery!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Am Mushroom. Here Me Roar.

Before I met Paul, I hated mushrooms. Couldn't stand their squishy texture and watery bite. But even though my partner Paul can't cook much of anything, he can saute the hell out of some mushrooms. He started making sauteed button mushrooms for our spaghetti nights (the only meal we ever eat together), and I realized mushrooms weren't so bad after all.

Fast forward to now: I love all kinds of mushrooms — bella, crimini, shiitake, oyster. But I'm still learning. There's a world of mushrooms out there to discover, and my friends at Dickey Farms, a local mushroom farming couple who grow all sorts of 'shrooms in Potts Camp, Mississippi, have introduced me to an especially awesome variety — Lion's Mane Mushrooms!

Isn't that crazy as hell? It looks like a weird sea creature with thousands of tiny arms. Or like a shaggy cartoon dog. The "mane" is soft like a fuzzy blanket, and the entire mushroom is tender as can be (no woody stems here, folks). Nichole Dickey gave me this mushroom to try when I visited their booth at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market last weekend. They'll be selling their 'shrooms there on Saturdays for certain through November but on a week-by-week basis after that.

Anyway, I had no idea what to do with this crazy thing. Nichole said it had a lobster flavor, but I've never had lobster in my life. Or any seafood really (well, I did have fried shrimp in the school cafeteria in elementary once, but that was grody). So I did a little googling.

Turns out Lion's Mane mushrooms are like total superfoods! They're part of the "tooth fungus" group, which sounds like a nasty gum disease, but don't let that turn you off. Some research has shown that these mushrooms have compounds that can help regulate blood lipid levels and reduce blood glucose levels. And they have antioxidant effects.

Since I didn't know what people do with lobster meat, a search for "things to do with lobster" turned up a recipe for Lobster with Udon Noodles. I've honestly been craving those fat rice noodles for some time now, and Asian flavors are always a good idea with mushrooms. So I created a recipe for Udon Noodles with Lion's Mane, Snap Peas, and Spinach.

The little mushroom bits are kind of meaty, and since they're so soft, the crunchy snap peas pair well with them. And, well, the spinach was just because I need more greens in my life. I added Old Bay seasoning for a seafood-y taste, but I stuck with mostly Asian flavors (soy sauce, mirin, scallions). Here's an extreme close-up of the Lion's Man mushrooms in my noodle bowl.

And here's the recipe. Enjoy!

Udon Noodles with Lion's Mane, Snap Peas, and Spinach
Serves 2
1 12-ounce package udon noodles (cooked, dried, or semi-dried)
1 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1 1/2 cup snap peas, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1  Lion's Mane mushroom, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 cups baby spinach
2 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1-2 tsp. hot sauce
3 scallions, chopped

If using dried or semi-dried (shelf-stable but kind of soft) udon, bring water to boil in a stock pot. Add the noodles and boil for 7-8 minutes (semi-dried) or 10-12 minutes (dried). Drain water. If using cooked noodles, skip to the next step.

Heat margarine in a large non-stick skillet with sides. Add snap peas and saute 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms, stir, and saute for another 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms soften. Add spinach and stir until it wilts (about 1-2 minutes).

Pour in mirin, soy sauce, Old Bay, and hot sauce (I used a homemade habanero sauce, but sriracha would be perfect). Stir and allow to cook for a minute or two.

Add noodles and scallions. Use tongs to toss noodles until they are coated and evenly distributed. Heat for a minute or so and remove from heat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Great Pumpkin Potluck

It's time once again for the wrap-up of our monthly vegan potluck! Each month, my friend Leslie organizes a fun potluck for all of our vegan friends. And sometimes, like last month, it travels to other people's houses (last month, we made it my birthday potluck at my house).

We had our potluck on Friday night, and month's theme was PUMPKIN! And when Leslie dreamed up the idea last month, it sounded like it was gonna be the best. Who doesn't love pumpkin???

Apparently, lots of our friends don't love pumpkin. And lots more have babies with baby problems (sick tummies, no sitter). So turnout was low this time around. But the food we did have was awesome. I apologize in advance for my crappy pictures though. The lighting was low, and orangey pumpkin foods don't do well in low lighting.

I made Pumpkin Chili, and I fully intended to take a lovely daylight pic of my leftovers today, topped with avocado and hot sauce. But I forgot! So here's what you get — a crappy picture of a delightfully hearty chili of white beans, pumpkin, quinoa, peppers, carrots, and spices. I used this recipe from the Inventive Vegetarian.

Leslie always makes something fun and exotic. This time, it was Afghan Pumpkin —sauteed pumpkin with tomatoes and spices. So good!

And she made this crazy awesome Afghan rice. I can't remember what it was called, but the rice was soft yet crunchy. It's hard to explain, but it's probably the best rice I've ever had.

Greg claims to hate pumpkin though he certainly cleaned his plate of chili and Leslie's pumpkin dish. So even though he was required by Leslie's rules to bring a pumpkin dish, he totally cheated and brought stuff to make Vegan Tacos — homemade TVP "meat," tomato, lettuce, salsa, and soft and hard shells.

Leslie also made an Afghan Hot Sauce that had a nice tomato-garlic base. I put some on my tacos, and since she sent me home with leftovers, I've been using this stuff all week!

For dessert, Leslie made a Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. This moist bread was flecked with pepitas and dried cranberries. I could have eaten a whole loaf.

But thankfully I didn't, because Nic walked in the door with this Vegan Maple-Pecan Pumpkin Flan just as everyone was about leave. Of course, I had a slice.

Even with a small turnout, we ended up with full bellies. I'm pretty certain my friends who think they hate pumpkin have just never had it in a savory dish. Or they're crazy. Either way, more for us.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Veggie Hash and Tofu Eggs

Before I get into tonight's post, I have a couple of announcements. For starters, my friend Cassi (whom you have read about plenty on these pages) has started her very own vegan blog. She's a total diva, so it's aptly named Pretty In Pink Vegan. Check it out!

And now for a very important announcement for Memphis vegans from my friend Rocky, maker of the Vegg. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, Memphis' Whole Foods is the first in the country to sell Vegg egg substitute. Here's what Rocky asked me to relay:
"Memphis, TN Vegg Lovers. The Poplar Whole Foods has had a case of 12 containers of The Vegg available for sale for about a week now and hasn't sold out yet. Unfortunately, they will not continue to offer it if they can't sell it out in a few more days. Please do what you can if you'd like to see The Vegg in Whole Foods."
So get out there and get some Vegg, folks! But hey, save a few containers for me cause I need to stock up when I go back to WF on Tuesday. Once you've purchased your Vegg (whether at Whole Foods here or, for those living elsewhere, on the internet, here), here's something simple to do with it — Cheater Fried Tofu Veggs!

There's a recipe in The Vegg Cookbook for a very awesomely realistic-looking vegan fried egg that can be made using Vegg. It has the perfectly rounded, unbroken yolk and the soft white. But that recipe looks a little challenging for the average cook. For those who want a vegan fried egg in a hurry, this is way super simple.

I simply pressed and sliced a block of extra-firm tofu into 8 slices. I sprayed a non-stick skillet with a little cooking oil. Then I put the tofu slices in and let them brown on one side for about 7 minutes or so. Flip 'em and let them cook a minute or two. Then pour one cup of prepared Vegg yolk over the tofu. Let it cook, untouched, and get all bubbly. If you want runny Veggs, turn off the heat as soon as the Vegg begins to bubble. If you'd rather the Vegg cook up a bit and stick to your tofu more (rather than be pourable out of the skillet), let it go for a few more minutes. Your choice.

On the side, I created a new dish for my retro vegan cookbook project — Veggie Hash.

I read somewhere that hash was a popular breakfast dish at the turn of the last century. Since hash is clean-out-the-fridge, use-whatever-you-can-find kind of dish, I believe it. Folks were all about waste-not, want-not back then. This one has potatoes (a must!), parsnips, carrots, celery, and onions. It's seasoned with paprika and a tad bit of ketchup.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Last Day In Atlanta

All week, I've been blogging pictures from Atlanta VegFest and the stuff I ate while I was there last weekend. Tonight's last Atlanta installment features all the treats we ate on Sunday before hitting the road for the 6.5-hour drive back to Memphis. And when I say "treats," I do mean "treats." Sunday in Atlanta was a very special day.

It started at Dough Bakery, where we stopped for brunch after checking out of our hotel.

Dough is a magical land that functions as part vegan bakery/part vegan butcher shop. Yes, you read that right. Butcher shop. The meat counter is called Gutenfleischer's Deli, and there a "butcher" uses a deli meat slicer to cut paper-thin slices of their homemade seitan meats. I visited Dough when I was in Atlanta last year and simply fell in love. But this year, it was even better because they offer a full-service, sit-down brunch.

The brunch has crazy things like biscuits topped with gravy and fried pickles! As tempting as that sounded, I was craving something tofu eggy. So I went with the slightly more traditional Southern Eggless Benedict — biscuits topped with tofu eggless patties, Gutenfleischer's homemade Canadian bacon, and country gravy. Breakfast heaven.

I couldn't leave without getting some meats sliced at the deli counter. I ordered a half-pound of the herb roast and all that was left of the pesto roast. It's wrapped in butcher paper and stored in a plastic deli bag. I also grabbed some of their homemade white vegan queso and Treeline Scallion Soft Cheese, a new probiotic, cashew-based cheese. Thank goddess we brought a cooler for stashing food souvenirs.

After brunch, I was stuffed. But we still had one more crucial food stop — Revolutions Doughnuts!

Y'all this is a vegan-friendly doughnut shop! Most of their doughnuts are vegan, and it's easy to tell which ones aren't safe because the vegan ones are marked with a V. I died when I saw this case. Just died.

I know Cassi and I looked like giddy vegan tourists. We even had some random stranger take our picture in front of the case.

I ordered the Raspberry Sprinkle, the Orange Pistachio, and the Vanilla Bean.

Y'all, I've never had a doughnut this soft and fresh in my life. I've eaten at Voodoo a few times when in Portland, and I do love that place. But Revolutions puts Voodoo to shame. And it's only a short drive from Memphis! Don't put it past me to do occasional road trips for vegan doughnuts. I will do crazy things for doughnuts.

Since we were hitting the road, I also grabbed a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Revolutions.

For those who don't know, the Starbucks Pumpkin Latte isn't vegan even if you get it with soymilk due to dairy in the flavor syrup. It's totally stupid, and I miss those lattes. But this one was totally vegan! And better than Starbucks anyway.

The drive home seemed as though it'd never end. We were so worn out, and I may have been in the beginning stages of a food coma. But when we finally arrived, I immediately drove my ass to Subway, where I ordered a Veggie Delite to stuff with my new vegan deli meats!

Aw, we had such fun in Atlanta. But I'm glad to be back. Now, if only Memphis had a vegan doughnut shop ...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Soul Vegetarian 2 in Atlanta

If you've been reading along over the past couple days, you know that I spent the weekend at Atlanta VegFest. You can read all about the awesome festival here. And you can see what I ate on the road trip to Atlanta and dinner in the city on Friday here.

Tonight's post is dedicated to my very favorite restaurant in Atlanta — Soul Vegetarian! There's nothing more soulful than collard greens, so there was no way I'd be skipping out on a dinner at Soul Veg, where everything is vegan. And everything is crunk. Last year, we hit up Soul Veg for brunch, so this time, I just had to try their dinner menu.

After the VegFest ended (and Cassi and I made one last pit stop to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's for food souvenirs), we drove to Soul Vegetarian 2 in the Poncey-Highlands area. There are two locations, but this one is the only one I've been to.

It didn't take me long to settle on the Divine Feast (one vegan meat, 2 sides, cornbread, and a salad). First up was the Side Salad with a mustardy dressing.

For my main course, I had a hard time choosing between the BBQ Kalebone Twists or the Country Baked Steak (also made with Kalebone). Don't worry — Kalebone doesn't mean kale stems, as I worried at first. It's the cute name they use for their homemade seitan. Get it? Like neckbone? Anyway, I settled on the Country Baked Steak, Vegan Mac & Cheese, and Collard Greens.

Best thing I ate all weekend! The kalebone was chewy and tender. The brown gravy was savory and creamy. The mac & cheese was pure magic. I've had a lot of vegan mac & cheese, and this one was out of this world. No idea what kind of vegan cheese sauce this was made from, but I'd swear it had a base of vegan cream cheese.

And the collard greens! I can make some serious collards myself, but these put my skills to shame. The cornbread was soft and sweet, just like cornbread should be. Don't let anyone tell you that Southerners don't put sugar in their cornbread. I've heard that's a Northern thing and that traditional Southern cornbread is salty. But in the part of the South where I grew up, we put sugar in everything, especially our cornbread.

Anyway, this meal was delightful. And even better, the Soul Veg 2 guy (whose name I cannot spell!) who was there last year when my mama and I ate there was there again this time. And he even asked how my mama was doing. What a nice dude! (Btw, notice the DreamKream sign in the background. They make their own ice cream! But I was way too full to eat any. Sadness.).

Just for fun, here's a picture of the brunch we had last year.

We didn't eat this again this time because we went to Dough Bakery for brunch (you'll see those pics tomorrow in my last Atlanta post). But if I'd stayed another day, I would have certainly found time to eat brunch at Soul Veg again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vegan Eats in Atlanta (and Birmingham!)

I spent last weekend in Atlanta for the second annual Atlanta VegFest, and I blogged all about the awesome demos (Isa! Betty Goes Vegan!), vendors (cupcakes! vegan meats!), and more in my last post. But tonight, I'm going to share pics of some of the food I ate on the way to Atlanta and the first night I was there. Tomorrow, I have more pics from Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch in the ATL.

Since I live in Memphis, the best way to get to Atlanta by car is through Birmingham, Alabama. Last year, when I went to Atlanta VegFest, my mama and I found a Taco Bell in Birmingham for quick vegan Cantina Bowl salads. But this time, my friend vegan Cassi was with me, and she recently did a guest post on this blog about vegan options in Birmingham. So she knew just the place to go for lunch when we passed through on Friday — Golden Temple Cafe. 

Omg, I loved this place! It's just the kind of restaurant I like. No frills, hippie-owned, laidback, sandwiches and soups, bean bowls and nachos, vegan cheese options. There was a sign in the window that said the place was celebrating 40 years! Anyway, I ordered the UAB Special (UAB stands for University of Alabama) of a Grilled Vegan Cheese and the soup of the day, which was Split Pea Soup.

Their portions are HUGE! I took much of this hearty soup, which was chock full of onions and greens, to go. The grilled cheese was made with Daiya mozzarella.

Attached to the restaurant is the Golden Temple store. And we just had to look around before hitting the road. I've been looking for the perfect Kwan Yin statue (Goddess of Mercy and Compassion) for some time as she's my fave goddess of the moment. And look what I found! A whole shelf of Kwan Yins! I ended up buying that little purple one.

We got back on the road and hit Atlanta right around 5 p.m. We checked into the sweet-ass hotel that my publisher put me up in, and then we met up with Thomas and Rhiannon from the Book Publishing Company for dinner. We settled on the all-vegetarian, mostly vegan Cafe Sunflower in Sandy Springs.

Last year, when I went to ATL VegFest, my mama and I ate at the other Sunflower location in Buckhead. This was one was just as lovely (except this one didn't sell booze ... bummer). Thomas ordered Spring Rolls for the table.

And then we were all given these tasty salads with white beans, bulgur, and sesame-soy dressing. Nothing beats cooked grains on a salad! I'm gonna start doing that at home.

And these melt-in-your-mouth soft, fresh rolls with Earth Balance!

For my main course, I went with the Sweet and Sour Soy Chicken — fried bits of vegan chicken in a sweet and tangy sauce with pineapples, broccoli, peppers, onions, and water chesnuts over brown rice. It really hit the spot. I had been craving Chinese food.

I didn't have room for dessert, sadly. But someone sitting at the next table over ordered cake, and it looked amazing.

Well, that's all for tonight. Come back tomorrow for more Atlanta eats!