Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vegan al Fresco 4th of July Picnic!

Sorry I didn't post Thursday night. I had yet another car accident Thursday afternoon, so I went out for a few glasses of wine Thursday night instead of staying home to post. You might remember me posting about someone pulling out in front of me back in May. That car was totaled, and I used the insurance money to buy my favorite car ever — a Subaru Outback. Well, I've had the Outback for about a month, and someone pulled out in front of me on my street, just a few houses down from my home. Not sure yet if the car is totaled but I'm really hoping it's not.

So anyway, that totally blows. But there's no use stressing over something I can't change, so on Friday, I went ahead with plans to go on a 4th of July picnic with Paul and Greg. I recently received a copy of Carla Kelly's Vegan al Fresco: Happy & Healthy Recipes for Picnics, Barbecues, & Outdoor Dining, and I knew this would be the perfect time to put the book to the test.

We picnicked in Butler Park on the Mississippi River bluffs so we'd have a good view of the downtown fireworks show. Every year, there's a big display over the river. We got there at 6:30 even though the fireworks didn't start until 9:45 because we wanted to make sure we got the best spot.

Here's Greg looking all bored. Part of his schtick is hating everything, so he loves to look like he's not having fun even when he is.

I chose two recipes from Vegan al Fresco. Both Greg (a vegan) and Paul (not a vegan) like tofu, and this book is loaded with recipes for various flavors of marinated tofu (maple-barbecue, lime-ginger-tahini, rosemary-lemon, etc.). But the Mojito-Inspired Tofu was calling me (probably because it had rum in it)!

Tofu is marinated in an actual mojito drink. It's got rum, lime juice, mint, and agave. But there's also garlic and oil, so maybe you wouldn't want to drink the marinade. I fired this on my electric indoor grill just before we left for the picnic, so it was still warm when we ate it. It was quite lovely. The mint flavor was very prominent, but it was complemented by the agave and lime. I couldn't really taste the rum, but it was fun just knowing it was in there.

I also made Corn Slaw from Vegan al Fresco.

This isn't just any old coleslaw. It has corn and hominy marinated in a chili-lime dressing. And the slaw is mixed with Carla's vegan mayo-based Creamy Coleslaw Dressing, a separate recipe that she uses in several other dishes in the book. The slaw was light and crisp as the setting sun bore down on us. Perfect for a summer picnic!

Unfortunately, the boys don't like hominy because they're crazy. So when I packed the picnic, I had to pack the marinated hominy and the rest of the slaw separately. Then I topped my slaw with the hominy, and they enjoyed theirs without.

I just love this book. I usually go on several picnics each summer, but I often fall in the same picnic rut (bread, vegan cheese, fruit, wine). Vegan al Fresco will give me fresh ideas to liven up future picnics. There's a chapter on Bites, Nibbles, & Finger Foods, which would be ideal for picnic planning. Plus, there are chapters on grilled foods (the Seitan Burger and Groovy Multi-grain Burgers look fantastic!), dips and sauces (White Bean and Peanut Butter Dip anyone?), sandwiches (the Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches with Chive Butter and Massaged Red Onions & Cumin sounds insane!), ready-built salads (including a recipe for tofu croutons called Fu'Tons!), and of course, desserts (because what's a picnic without Hazelnut Latte Cupcakes?).

Here's a shot of my picnic plate. I also brought a Kroger bakery loaf of whole-clove garlic bread and a jar of Viana Red Pepper Creamy Sunflower Spread. And Greg made a roasted potato and onion dish. Of course I topped my tofu with sriracha.

After dinner, we had slices of the freshest, juiciest watermelon. I ate mine with salt of course.


foodfeud said...

Sorry to hear about the car troubles! Hope it works out.
I love yr shirt, and I love the sound of the cookbook. Yr smile in the photo with Greg makes up for his seeming glumness, so that's ok.
The spread looks great. Hope the view was nice. said...

Ugh tow accidents in one year is the worst luck, I'm not surprised you didn't feel like blogging!

Your picnic looks amazing, I love tofu spreads on bread and the tofu from the cookbook sounds fantastic.

Renard Moreau said...

[ Smiles ] I would have enjoyed your vegan food if I was there.

Pam @ said...

DAMNIT to the car situation.

And YUM to the corn slaw stuff. That sounds really good!

I made your boozy beans for our cookout this weekend. I really liked them!

Katie said...

Oh, no, your car! SAD. But your shirt! LOVE.

Hope you enjoyed the hell out of those glasses of wine, my dear! <3