Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Kwik Check

Dear Bibimbap at Kwik Check, 
Where have you been all my life?
Oh, that's right. You've been on my "stuff I need to eat in Memphis" list for 12 freaking years!
I'm sorry it took so long. I've wasted so much of my life without you.

Twelve years! Seriously, what is wrong with me? How can something so delicious, like Vegan Bibimbap, be on a stuff-to-eat list for over a decade? I first heard about the delicious vegan food at Kwik Check when I was still a vegetarian and a newbie to Memphis. The little convenience store eatery was just a block from my best friend Greg's apartment back then. He told me about it. Other vegetarians and vegans told me about it. I made a mental note.

Hell, I even included Kwik Check on my Memphis Vegan Dining Guide years ago, even though I'd never been. It was the only place on that list I hadn't tested out first. I just knew it needed to be there because it's a Midtown Memphis staple. Well, I FINALLY tried the legendary Bibimbap last week on a lunch outing with my co-workers Susan and Toby.

Truth be told, even though I'd heard great things about the Bibimbap, I didn't really know what it was until I ordered it. And at first glance, it just looks like a bowl of white rice with some veggies. But it is so much more than that.

That bowl isn't just any old bowl. It's basically a piece of cookware. It's so steamy hot that it actually continues to cook the rice, creating crispy, caramelized bits at the bottom of the bowl. And it's topped with tofu, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts, and a spicy Korean sauce. It's typically served with a fried egg on top, but when you order it vegan-style, they leave that off. 

Well, I certainly won't let another 12 years pass before I have this again! Also, Kwik Check is said to have great falafel, but I haven't had that there either. I did try once. I was on a desperate hunt for falafel one Sunday, and I stopped by three falafel places in Midtown, including Kwik Check, only to be told they were fresh out. I'll have to try again one day, but I'm not sure I'll be able to choose falafel when I can have the Bibimbap again.

Kwik Check is located at 2013 Madison. Call 901-274-9293.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Vegans Can Eat (Almost) Anywhere

Mofo is winding down, and I must admit that, even though I have more pantry meals planned, I've also been eating out a LOT lately. Sometimes, life just takes you to a restaurant. But you'll likely see more pantry meals on into October, even though Mofo will be over.

But tonight, I want to talk a little about dining out as a vegan. I'd say one of the most frequent questions I get asked is, "Isn't it hard living in Memphis and trying to find vegan food in restaurants?" My answer is always an emphatic "No way!" As you can probably tell from my past posts and my Bluff City Vegan Eats series, Memphis is actually a very vegan-friendly city. Check out my Memphis vegan dining guide.

We have three totally vegan restaurants — Imagine Vegan Cafe, Two Vegan Sistas, and Cosmic Coconut — and a huge list of vegan-friendly eateries offering special vegan menus, vegan cheese, vegan desserts, and all sorts of delicious options. But like most cities, we also have those places that just don't seem to cater to vegans — BBQ joints, soul food restaurants, New Orleans-style cafes, steakhouses. What's a vegan to do when she ends up joining her omni friends at a place without obvious vegan options?

You make a meal! That's what. I have this theory that vegans can eat (almost) anywhere. It just takes a little creativity and a willingness to speak up and let your server and chef know about your special needs. That's what I did tonight at the VIP soft opening for Lafayette's Music Room in Overton Square. This is a new music venue fashioned after a 1970s venue of the same name. And the menu is New Orleans-style seafood and po'boys. At first glance, not one dish is vegan.

But there are a couple salads that, ordered without the cheese, look to be vegan. For my starter, I opted for the Lafayette's Salad with bibb lettuce, roasted tomatoes, crispy strips, and citrus vinaigrette.

Now, I can't say with certainty that the wonton strips are vegan, but many of those salad wonton strips are. With things like that, I just hope for the best. This was delicious! The roasted tomatoes paired so well with the citrus dressing, and that bibb lettuce was so tender.

For my main, it took a little more creativity. The only pizzas on the limited soft opening menu were a Cajun Crawfish Pizza, a Buffalo Chicken Pizza, and a Shrimp & Andouille Pizza. But after informing my server that I was vegan, here's what we came up with.

It's a simple Vegetable Pizza with marinara, diced onion, diced tomato, and diced bell pepper. It may not be loaded with vegan cheese like a pizza I'd make at home, but sometimes, I enjoy a cheese-less pizza. The original Italian pizza napoletana is just made from dough with tomato sauce, oregano or basil, a little garlic, salt, and olive oil. And that's not much different from this pie. Plus, this was wood-fired, and the lack of cheese really allowed the delicious flatbread to shine.

Working with the chef and server may not work in every restaurant every time, but I'd guess that it works about 90 percent of the time. And when all else fails, there's typically always fries and salad. I wouldn't want to eat fries and salad every day, but I'm not lying when I say that I do enjoy that vegan desperation dinner from time to time.

What are your favorite ways to tweak non-vegan menus?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pink Noodle Vegan Cuisine Pop-up

Y'all know my friend Cassi, right?

Well, this weekend, she was part of the MemSHOP program's Soulsville Saturday pop-up shop fest. MemSHOP is an initiative launched by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's office to encourage aspiring indie business owners to open pop-up shops in up-and-coming neighborhoods. They offer marketing, advice, etc., and in return, the business owner gets to hold a one-day pop-up or be part of one of their longer six-month pop-up programs.

Soulsville Saturday is a pop-up fest, and would-be business owners get to operate for the day. Cassi applied for the program and was chosen. So on Saturday, she set up shop at the corner of Mississippi and Walker in Soulsville, a neighborhood made famous by the legendary Stax Records (now home of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music).

You may have read previous posts about Cassi's efforts to open a vegan restaurant called Pink Noodle. She's still working on it, but these things take time. So this was excellent branding and a great way for folks to get a sneak peek of her food. On Friday night, a group of friends (myself included) went over to Cassi's and helped her package and prep. So I knew what would be on the menu, but it was still so cool to see it all written out in chalk, pink of course.

I wanted to try everything, but I started with the Neyagawa Salad — romaine, pinto beans, chickpeas, brown rice, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and a homemade ginger dressing. This was so good, and surprisingly my favorite thing on the menu. For this, Cassi recreated the first salad she ate while visiting Japan earlier this year, hence the very Japanese-sounding name. I just loved the brown rice and artichokes with that dressing!

Next, I ordered the Spaghetti Squash with Tempeh. The sauce was a yummy marinara with crumbled tempeh "meat." Healthy and delicious. I love how you can eat a shit-ton of spaghetti squash for almost no calories compared to wheat pasta.

By this point, I was getting full. But I saved room for dessert. On Friday, one of the things I helped with was making chocolates. And I'd been waiting since then to try these Almond Butter Cups. They got a little melty in the heat even though Cassi was trying to keep them on ice as much as possible. So they're a little misshapen. But they tasted amazing!

She also had Quinoa Chocolates, Cookie Butter Chocolates, and Sea Salt Chocolates. I got some of the leftovers of those later, but I haven't eaten them yet.

And she had her famous Pantry Cookies made with almonds and coconut. I also got one of the leftover cookies to take home.

Before I left on Saturday to head to our Memphis gay pride parade, I grabbed a couple items to go since I knew I wouldn't have time to cook dinner. I got some Vegan Lasagna. It didn't plate so pretty, but it was ooey-gooey and delicious with vegan cheese, tofu ricotta, spinach, and mushrooms. I have a theory that good lasagna should never be pretty on a plate. If it looks like a perfect slice, it's probably dry and gross. Gooey-ness is a good lasagna requisite.

And I got some of her Spring Rolls made with rice noodles, bean sprouts, cabbage, and carrots. There was a soy dipping sauce on the side (not pictured).

Overall, it was a great day. Cassi exposed lots of non-vegans to delicious vegan food, and she got the Pink Noodle name out there some more. Team Pink Noodle! 

If you're local and you missed it, never fear. Cassi will be popping up again at Rickie & Aimee's Rock-n-Roll Carnival at the Broad Avenue Water Tower Pavilion on October 25th from 2 to 6 p.m. The event is held at the corner of Mississippi and Walker in South Memphis.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mason Jar Salad

I'm finally hopping on the mason jar salad bandwagon. Why has it taken me so long to catch on? I mean, I'm all about mason jars. Since my Granny cans, I have a pantry full of jars filled with all manner of preserved veggies, and after the veggies are eaten, I save the jars to store bulk grains, nuts, seeds, etc. I use mason jars as my water bottles with various-sized Cuppow lids. Omg, did you know they make Cuppow mason jar martini shaker lids now?

But for some reason, it took a new cookbook to finally get me turned on to the idea of stacking a salad in a mason jar and taking it to work for lunch.

Mason Jar Salads and More by Julia Mirabella is NOT a vegan cookbook. There are a number of vegan salads in the book, but other recipes call for cheese and meat. So if you're looking for a vegan mason jar salad book, this isn't it. Someone really ought to write one though! But the great thing about Mason Jar Salads is that most all the recipes are easily veganizable. Typically, when I see a non-vegan recipe, my brain instantly converts it to a vegan one.

Take for example, this Bulgur Wheat Salad from the book.

Chickpeas, red onion, cucumber, red bell pepper, bulgur, tomatoes, dill, and parsley are topped with feta in the book. But in my version, I subbed out tofu feta. And I made the tofu feta using a recipe in The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. Basically, it's just tofu marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh basil, and capers. It's delicious and probably way tastier than feta anyway.

At the very bottom of the jar, under all of those ingredients, is an easy Lemon Vinaigrette from the book —just olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. When you're ready to eat the salad, just give it a few shakes and dump into a bowl. Voila!

This was such a healthy and wholesome lunch. And somehow salad tastes better after it's been artfully stacked in a jar. Bonus: in keeping with my Mofo Pantry Raid theme, I finally got to use some of the bulgur that's been lurking in my pantry for ages. Also, Maynard was quite fond of the lemon vinaigrette, which I managed to spill on the counter.

There's a nice picture tutorial in the book on how to assemble a mason jar salad — dressing on bottom, hearty ingredients (like peas or beans) next, veggies above those, and salad greens on top so they don't get soggy. There are a number of mason jar salads in the book I can't wait to try — Corn and Blueberry Salad (with Lime Vinaigrette), Barley & Zucchini Salad, or the Spinach, Radish, & Quinoa Salad.

But the book is also filled with other recipes —non-salads — that can easily travel in a mason jar for lunch. One is Chicken & Vegetable Stir-fry, for which I'd sub out Beyond Meat vegan chicken strips. You make your stir-fry with fresh veggies using the recipe, and then you stack the fry on the bottom of the jar and the rice on top. There's a homemade Spicy Salsa that Julia recommends taking to work in a jar along with a separate jar of tortilla chips. She even covers breakfast with smoothies in jars — Banana & Almond Butter Smoothie, Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie, etc.

Now I just want to eat out of jars ALL THE TIME!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Come Dine With Us!

So my friend Stephanie (a.k.a. Poopie Bitch) is kind of obsessed with the British food reality show, Come Dine With Me. I'd never heard of it until she mentioned it recently, but on the show, four strangers each take turns hosting a three-course dinner party at their house for the four of them. After each dinner, the three guests who didn't host score the party on a scale of one to 10. The host with the highest score wins.

Stephanie got this crazy idea in her head to try a real-life vegan version of the show with a few friends. She tossed the idea out, and we discussed it over Facebook. When we started the discussion, we had five friends, so we planned to have five dinner parties. But Cassi isn't able to participate because of another exciting commitment. So now we're down to four — Stephanie, me, Pam, and Megan. Wait — let us take a selfie.

Since the rest of us hadn't seen the show before (it doesn't air in America), we had a "Dips 'n' Shit" snacky themed potluck tonight at Stephanie's and we watched one episode. Stephanie made the most AMAZING Chickpea Fries with Tahini Dipping Sauce.

And she put out some Bread with Herbed Olive Oil.

And Dolmas, Peppadews, and Olives.

I brought the low-oil Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Joni Newman and Gerrie L. Adams' new book, Going Vegan (more on this dip and this book in a full review post soon!).

Megan brought Vegan Pigs In Blankets.

Pam supplied the red wine. And Stephanie laid out a lovely dessert spread of international treats — Turkish Delight, Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs, Jordan Almonds, and Manner Hazelnut Wafers.

OMG, have y'all tried those Manner wafers? I think they're made in Austria, but Steph picked them up at an international market here. Imagine a wafer with Nutella cream that's vegan! Yes. I could have eaten all of those!

Anyway, we're launching our dinner party competition on October 8th. I'll post about each one, and we're hoping to have video (like a real reality show!) too. Expect cattiness, drama, and lots of "girl, no she didn't!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Pork" Chops & Applesauce - That's Swell!

Remember that episode of The Brady Bunch when Peter isn't happy with who he is, so he keeps trying on different characters? In one scene, he practices his best Humphrey Bogart impersonation and then he marches into the kitchen and asks Carol and Alice what's for dinner. They say "pork chops" and "applesauce," and then he repeats it —"Pork chops and applesauce. That's swell!" over and over.

That scene has stuck with me since I was a little kid watching The Brady Bunch reruns after school. I can't think about pork chops without thinking about applesauce. Well, it just so happened that last week, I had everything in my freezer and pantry to make a nice vegan pork chop dinner. And that's fantastic since, this Mofo, I'm trying to cook as much as possible using stuff I already have.

The pork chop is made from Match Meat Ground Pork Without the Pork, which I had in my freezer. I thawed it out, added some spices (garlic, onion, seasoned salt), coated in flour, and fried in oil. I also had applesauce (that I keep on hand for baking) in my pantry.

The mac & cheese is from a box — Earth Balance Vegan White Cheddar, which I stocked up on when it first came out. And the greens are rape greens that my Granny cooked down a few months ago and froze. I just thawed those out and added some more spices and hot sauce. Voila — a meal I didn't buy a thing for!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Celebrating Autumn with Lentils!

Today was the first day of fall! Well, some calendars said it was yesterday, and some say tomorrow. But mine says the equinox was today, so that's what I'm going by.

I have a love-hate relationship with fall. Love the changing leaves and the crisp air. Love pumpkin and Halloween/Samhain. Love my birthday (and all my other Libra friends' birthdays). Love Thanksgiving. Love Black Friday shopping with mom. Love my veganaversary. Love soups and chili and stews.

But I don't love winter. In fact, I HATE winter. I hate dead trees. I hate the cold. I hate the ice storms. I hate layers and coats and boots and basically any article of clothing that isn't a tee-shirt or flip-flops. And fall always feels like a prelude to the winter. But I'm trying hard to look at fall as it's own fabulous season rather than something good than comes before something bad. I just need to live in the now, man.

Anyway, I celebrated the Autumn Equinox (or Mabon in the Earth religions) with a lovely dinner of Autumn Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Kale and Pita Bread.

In keeping with my Mofo Pantry Raid theme, most of the ingredients in this dish — except for the fresh sweet potato, kale, and cilantro — came from my pantry or freezer. I had some leftover pita bread in my freezer. And a couple months back, the fine folks at Pereg Gourmet Natural Foods sent me several of their dried beans and legumes to sample and review. When I saw this bag of Pereg Autumn Blend Heirloom Lentils, I knew I'd be saving this for the first day of fall.

The mix is made with brown lentils, yellow petit peas, split orange lentils, and yellow split peas. It looks just gorgeous in the bag, like changing leaves on a tree in autumn. And they cooked up great! I loved how the brown lentils stayed firm and the split peas and orange lentils did that mushy thing that red lentils do. I got the recipe — a simple dish made with seasonal produce, cumin, and allspice — from the back of the lentil bag. But it's also here on the Pereg website. Not in the recipe, but I added sliced jalapenos to mine while cooking for a little spice.

The recipe says to serve with pita and raw veggies. So I chose to serve it Egyptian ful-style with raw tomato and onion. I spread the pita bread with Viana Onion Butter and dipped it into the lentil dish.

Hope you have a lovely autumn! I'm gonna try to live in the present and enjoy it.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vegan Brown Sugar! Vegan Powdered Sugar!

Not all sugar is vegan. Most readers probably already know this, but in case you're reading this and you're new to veganism, I thought I should start this post with that statement. The reason? White sugar can be processed with cow bone char, and while not every brand of white sugar is, it's hard to know which brands are and which aren't. For that reason, I don't buy white sugar. That said, if someone else (who isn't vegan and doesn't know) bakes me a vegan treat with white sugar in it, I'll eat it and not worry. But I try to avoid bone char sugar when I can.

It's super easy to find vegan cane sugar these days though! My neighborhood Kroger carries several brands, including their in-store Simple Truth Organic brand. Pure cane sugar that is minimally processed typically has an off-white color. It looks more natural, but it tastes exactly the same.

The problem for me has always been finding vegan brown sugar and vegan powdered sugar for baking. Brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses, and powdered sugar is just superfine white sugar with a bit of cornstarch. But my neighborhood grocery store doesn't sell vegan versions made with unrefined cane sugar. I have to drive way out to Whole Foods and spend an arm and a leg for that stuff. But that may be changing soon!

Zulka makes minimally processed vegan sugar, and bonus — it's also non-GMO! And my Kroger sells Zulka's Pure Cane Sugar for a very affordable price. I buy that all the time. This past weekend, it was on sale for less than the generic store brand! Now Zulka has come out with a Brown Pure Cane Sugar and a Powdered Pure Cane Sugar.

They sent me a package of each to try, and I ran down to Kroger to buy some more regular Zulka sugar (pictured in the center). The new sugars aren't in stores yet, according to their website. But they're coming soon, and since they tend to sell in more mainstream locations besides health food stores, I'm hoping we'll get them in my Kroger.

To try these, I decided to make cupcakes! I had plans to attend an autumn equinox potluck this past weekend, so I made some very autumn-y cupcakes — Maple Cupcakes with Sugared Walnuts and Maple Buttercream.

The cupcake recipe is in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They're maple cakes flecked with cinnamon-sugar candied walnuts. The recipe calls for a maple frosting made with soy milk powder, but I didn't have any. So I made the basic buttercream from the book and added a touch of maple extract. These were a huge hit. One guy exclaimed "Sweet Jesus, lord in heaven!" when he bit into one. So I'm pretty sure he liked them.

So how were the sugars? The recipe called for two tablespoons of brown sugar. And as I was scooping it out of the bag, I noticed the sugar was slightly drier than the refined brown sugar I grew up with. But it wasn't hard or chunky. So that was fine. It didn't need to be super-moist. That's just what I'm used to.

The powdered sugar seemed exactly the same as the old bone char kind, except I could use it in good conscious. When blended with vegan margarine and vegan shortening, it made for a very creamy and sweet buttercream.

I love Zulka sugar, and I cannot wait until these arrive in stores. They also have a new Picante Sugar with a hint of chili powder that sounds right up my alley!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Baby Squirrel Update

So this totally doesn't fit into my Mofo Pantry Raid theme, but who cares? It's a BABY SQUIRREL!

As some of you may remember, we rescued an orphaned baby squirrel in our backyard a little over a month ago. Our pit bull Maynard was pawing at him, and the squirrel was screaming for its mama. But mama never came, so we took him in and raised him on puppy formula and lots of advice from a wildlife rehab friend. And we named him Herman.

His little eyes opened at five weeks, and now he looks like a real squirrel. He's gone from hairless to sporting this bushy-ass tail.

We assume he's about eight weeks old, and he's still on formula three times a day. But he also eats solid foods now. I've been using this online guide for feeding instructions, and at his age, he's allowed formula, Science Diet Puppy Chow, fruit, and some veggies. He think green beans are just okay. But Herman LOVES apples.

Up until last week, Herman was coming to work with me every day because he was on formula every four hours. He'd get restless in his cat carrier. See!

So I let him run around my desk. He loved to climb the cubicle wall and play tightrope between mine and Toby's cubes.

At home, Herman mostly lives in my bathroom, safe from the six cats and two dogs who share our home. I put a cat tree in there for climbing, and he loves to burrow in the toilet paper in the wicker trash can. I also put some cat toys in there. He likes those too.

When I'm getting ready for work in the morning, Herman uses me as his own personal jungle gym. I attempted to film him on my butt.

Last time I posted about Herman, a few commenters asked about the long-term plan. For now, that plan is release when the time is right. My wildlife rehab friend said they acclimate to outdoors very quickly, and when they're ready to go, they let you know (usually between 12 and 16 weeks). We've been taking Herman outside for supervised playtime. Right now, he'll sniff the grass and run right back up my leg, all the way up to my shoulder. He likes to perch.

But don't worry. I'm not planning to just dump him outside! We will acclimate slowly, and the plan is to let him come and go for as long as he pleases. I just think Herman would be happier living a nice squirrel life outside instead of being cooped up in a bathroom. And the rest of my house is way off-limits since it's filled with predators. If my cats knew he was here ... man, I don't want to think about that. They're evil little bastards.

But I'll keep y'all updated. I'm sure there will be more squirrel posts to come!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simple Recipes for Joy

I'm a bit of a yogi wannabe. I go to hatha yoga once a week at my gym, and I try to do yoga at home at least once a week too. But it's hard to fit in any additional yoga when I'm running four days a week. I'm a huge fan of kundalini and bikram, but I can't really afford to join any studios that offer those classes. But I love the idea of yoga! And I love the way I feel after my weekly hatha class. It's at lunch time on Thursdays, and there's nothing better than laying in savasana with a lavender eye pillow in the middle of the day.

So all that being said, I was super excited when I heard the legendary Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti Yoga School and Cafe in NYC, has a new vegan cookbook! It's called Simple Recipes For Joy, and it's loaded with mouth-watering, full-color, whole foods-based dishes. Many of the dishes in the book are served at the Jivamukti Cafe, which is attached to her yoga school.

The soup chapter is huge, and since fall is almost in the air, I was drawn to recipes for Spicy Tomato-Ginger Soup with Okra, Mung Bean Dal, and New England "Clam" Chowder (made with oyster mushrooms). But I ended up settling on the Curry-Tahini-Shoyu Noodle Soup.

You know I love a good noodle bowl! This one is loaded with complex Indian flavors of curry, coriander, and cumin. It's brimming with sweet potato, green beans, corn, carrots, celery, adzuki beans, hijiki, onions, garlic, and ginger. And it's made creamy with a tahini-miso paste. For some reason, the recipe didn't actually call for shoyu, but I'm sure that was probably an error. I liberally added shoyu to the veggie broth base. And I used these Explore Asian Soba Noodles, which had been lurking in my pantry for ages. They were sent to review some time ago, but Explore Asian sent so much stuff that it's taken me this long. Loved the tender texture of these!

There's also a large pasta chapter, and a number of dishes caught my eye — Faux Chicken Pasta (the "faux chicken" is simply made from hen-of-the-woods mushrooms) and Angel Hair Pasta with Creamy Lemon-Zucchini Sauce. And salads abound in this book! There's a hippie-ish Brown Rice Salad with tofu, nori, and turmeric-tahini sauce, and there's even a salad with popcorn in it!

There's a recipe for the Jivamukti Cafe's Spirulina Millet that I must try. And the Cajun-style Jamabalaya with Mexican flavors sounds like a fun fusion dish (it has vegan sour cream on top!).

When I spied a chapter on Toasts, I knew this book was perfect for me. I LOVE TOAST! I mean, who doesn't? There are recipes for all sorts of simple ways to top toast — Caprese-style with tomatoes, olive oil, and basil or with sesame seed tofu. But since I'm always on the lookout for new breakfast ideas, I went with the "Poached Eggs" on Toast.

It's so simple and yet so delicious! You take toast, spread it with Earth Balance and flax oil, and top it with some hot, plain tofu. Bam! It really tastes like poached eggs. I added black salt to mine for an extra eggy flavor.

When Sharon says "simple recipes," she means "very simple." Nothing in the book is terribly complex, although some recipes are more time-consuming than others. But there are super simple dishes in here too, like the recipe for Simple Steamed Veggies or the one for Black Beans (with a few seasonings added). There's even a recipe for a dip called The Most Simple Dip (garlic, rosemary, olive oil). But there are plenty of recipes for the more skilled cook too, like the noodle soup above. It had lots of steps and ingredients.

Finally, the desserts! I want to make so many of these, especially the Hippie Carrot Cake and Julia Butterfly Cookies (sugar cookies named for Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived in a 115-year-old redwood tree for two years to save it from being cut down). Oh, and the smoothie chapter has Chakra Smoothies — one for every color of the rainbow chakra points!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vegan Drinks: Burger Edition

Tonight, we had our monthly Vegan Drinks meetup at Slider Inn. I must have a craving for sliders every September because, unbeknownst to me, I scheduled this month's meetup for the same place I scheduled us last September! As the name would imply, Slider Inn serves sliders.

Here's the group early on. In this photo is Jennifer Harber, Pam, Richard, Stephanie, and Tiffany. Later, Jennifer Smith, Vaughan, and Nicole arrived, but I was too busy eating by then to remember to take pictures.

I started off with a New Belgium Tour de Fall Pale Ale. There's a slight chill in the air, and fall is right around the corner, so I figured I should give in to the Universe and get a fall beer. This was a fantastic beer! Even though I sort of hate fall because it means winter is coming, I love the taste of fall beers and fall foods. This had a crisp, almost spicy taste.

But once that was gone, I couldn't resist one final summer beer (okay, I'm sure I'll have a few more summer beers before the season officially ends on Sept. 23rd) — Memphis Made Soulful Ginger. This is a light gingery saison, perfect for patio days.

Richard had a Soulful Ginger too, and Jennifer opted for a Woodchuck. Not pictured: Pam also had Woodchuck, and I think Stephanie stuck with Yuengling.

They have three veg options — two that are already vegan and one that's easily made vegan. I'd never tried the Nuts and Berries slider, but I was craving peanut butter for some reason. So these tiny PB & strawberry preserve sandwiches hit the spot. Also, I LOVE Slider Inn's skinny fries.

Others at the table ordered the Vegan Triple B slider (beets, black beans, brown rice) with avocado and sprouts (top) and the Falafel Sliders with black bean hummus (bottom). The falafel sliders typically come with yogurt sauce, so you have to get that left off.

Since we had some latecomers, I hung around until about 8 p.m., just chatting and enjoying patio weather while it's still here. Sigh. I'm really gonna miss summer.

Anyway, if you'd like to stay up-to-date on the next Memphis Vegan Drinks meetup, join our Facebook group!