Thursday, July 28, 2022

A Love Letter to Bread

Dear bread,

You're the best. I want to eat you every day. And I pretty much do, because I have to bake every week with my sourdough starter. Let's never break up, okay? Sorry you have to deal with gluten-haters. I'll never turn my back on you.

Your biggest fan,

This is yet another post dedicated to bread. If you don't eat gluten, I'm sorry. But I eat a lot of it because I'm always baking bread these days. Here's some very tasty Eggy Avocado Toast from The Fiber-Fueled Cookbook. Homemade sourdough, eggy tofu, everything bagel seasoning, and homemade pink kraut.

I tried two sandwiches with sourdough from Plant You. The Tempeh TLT has smoky tempeh bacon with hints of cumin. A really solid tempeh bacon recipe! Plus, cashew mayo!

And the Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich from Plant You was equally tasty. Rather than a typical mayo-based chickpea salad, this one has a tahini sauce and lots of onions, plus my homegrown broccoli sprouts.

And here's a tasty breakfast from The Fiber-Fueled CookbookVeggie Scramble with Sourdough. The veggie scramble is really a tofu scram with local zucchini and spinach. Dr. B recommends eating this with sourdough, and he didn't have to tell me twice. I had some homemade kraut on the side.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Banana Blossom "Fish"

A few months ago, I got a bunch of free product coupons from vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke's care packages (he sends out the BEST boxes, check him out). Several were for Upton's Naturals, so I used one to get these Banana Blossoms

I had no idea what to do with banana blossoms, but the back of the box had a vegan fish recipe that involved battering and deep-frying the blossoms. I don't deep fry much anymore, but I figured what the heck? The blossoms come packed in brine and look like this. Not terribly appetizing looking.

For the recipe, you marinate the blossoms in lemon and kelp (I used dulce because I didn't have kelp), coat the blossoms in flour and then coat them in a wet batter before dropping into hot oil. Now, I should clarify that, back when I was writing Cookin' Crunk, I used to deep fry quite often. It's very Southern, and let's be honest, nothing tastes as good as deep-fried. But I must have lost those skills when I cut back on oil because my blossoms didn't get super crispy. I don't think my oil was hot enough.

Anyway, I blotted out some oil and tried them. And well, they weren't terrible. But also not great. The texture reminded me a lot of jackfruit, which I'm not crazy about. I've had some really good jackfruit that was super dry, but most jackfruit is too moist and briny for me. And this was quite similar. They also would have been better if I'd fried in hotter oil for maybe a longer time. On the side, I had coleslaw, "chips" (aka fries) with malt vinegar and ketchup, and homemade tartar sauce.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Smash Burger, Mac, & Melons!

Shroomlicious, a Memphis vegan ghost kitchen serving up some very tasty mushroom-y meals, expanded their hours recently, and now they're open Thursdays and Fridays until 6 p.m. That meant I could stop by after my Thursday gym session for a Smash Burger! This Impossible patty melt has onions and mushrooms smashed in to the patty, and it's topped with vegan cheese. SO GOOD! This was only my second time ordering, and I will be trying everything now that it's open later.

Here's a quick, easy weeknight meal of Upton's Bacon Cheesy Mac (which tasted like bacon heaven) and steamed kale.

I picked up this Savory Scone from LuLu's on Saturday, and I ate it in my car after my long run. I can't remember what all was in it, but I know there were jalapenos. And the white stuff is cashew cream. Yum!

And finally, check this out! Paul and I planted one cantaloupe plant back in April, and it's finally made ripe melons. We've picked two this week, and there are two more big one ripening on the vine. Our first time growing melons!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Sourdough Pizza, Mushroom Ramen, & Ice Cream!

Now that I'm officially obsessed with sourdough, I'm constantly needing to make recipes that use up my sourdough discard (the stuff you pour out every day when you feed your starter). Last week, I made the Sourdough Pizza Crust from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook and then used that crust to make Tuscan Flatbread (also in the book). 

It's topped with artichokes, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, fresh basil, and a homemade cashew parm. This was amazing! We had a friend drop by our house on his way back home to Atlanta as the pie was coming out of the oven, and he ate two pieces (and then asked for a third because he loved it that much). 

A while back, Kroger had Wicked Foods products on sale, so I picked up the Shiitake Ramen Broth. The pack just comes with broth and dried veggies, but you have to supply your own noodles and other add-ins. I added Ocean's Halo ramen and some tofu and edamame. The broth was tasty, but it much sweeter than I expected. And I put Bragg's on my tofu as it cooked, so once added to the bowl, this was a little too salty as well. I still ate it all though! But I probably wouldn't buy that broth again.

Last week, on my Raw Girls visit, they finally had the Coconut Stir-fry in stock. This is a cooked dish that it's very tasty eaten cold. It has cauliflower rice with squash, zucchini, and cashews in a tasty coconut sauce. 

And the Sunday before last was National Ice Cream Day, so I had a Nada Moo Birthday Cake Ice Cream Cone! I didn't realize (until I checked the ingredients) that generic storebought waffle cones were vegan. But all the ones that Kroger had were! 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Philly Cheesesteak, a Raw Cheescake, and a Big Ass Salad

Last Friday, I spent the day cleaning and grocery shopping, and by the end of all that, I was hungry and too tired to cook. So I called in a takeout order from Imagine Vegan Cafe on the way home. I got the Chicken Philly Cheesesteak and Collard Greens, and it was just what I needed! A little decadent with the sandwich, a little healthy with the greens.

I picked up this yummy Raw Lemon Cheesecake from the Raw Girls as a work day treat a couple weeks ago. I always grab lunch from there on office days, but I typically overlook the desserts because I'm more of a savory person. But sometimes, you need raw cheesecake.

Last Sunday, I PR'd by 5K at the Memphis Runners Track Club Road Race Series, and the night before, I had my standard pre-race pasta. For this dish, I blistered some cherry tomatoes from my garden in a little olive oil (with added kale) and folded that into some spaghetti. It's all topped with Follow Your Heart parm. It was a winner! Literally with that PR!

And finally, here's a big, tasty salad! This was one of those "throw in every veggie in the fridge" salads. I used Ocean's Halo Maui Onion dressing, and it's topped with Kelly's garlic cheezy croutons (which are the greatest food ever invented). 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Bike Picnic Fun!

I usually do my long runs on Saturdays, but last weekend, I had a 5K race on Sunday (which I PR'ed, by the way!). So I took a "rest day" on Sunday and went on a long bike ride. I ride a cruiser bike and go very slow, so I don't really consider it to be a workout. Or at least that's what I thought! I packed a picnic and took off down the Shelby Farms Greenline for a 25 mile round-trip ride. 

Turns out, it was a bit of a workout. Mostly because it was 100 degrees outside, so it felt harder than it should have. But that said, it was still a great ride, and I enjoyed my picnic in the shade once I got to Shelby Farms. I even saw an owl on the greenline! I've never seen a real live owl in the wild!

I packed a Lulu's Tomato Cashew Cheese Tart, Miyoko's Smoked Farmhouse Cheddar with my homemade sourdough bread, onion/garlic jam, pickles, smoked olives, pickled chile carrots, cherry tomatoes, and grapes. Oh, and a Mason jar of wine! And, of course, plenty of electrolytes for the long, hot ride!

The Lulu's tart was especially tasty! I picked it at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market that morning. It has roasted cherry tomatoes blended into cashew cream in a flaky pastry crust.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Bedrock Eats & Sweets

On days when I actually go into the office (rather than working from home), I like to treat myself to a lunch from Raw Girls since their Downtown location is on my way to the Daily Memphian office. But a couple weeks ago, I stopped in to find them closed for summer break. I hadn't packed a lunch, so I had to figure out some other lunch option Downtown. I know of a few places, but I wanted to try something new, and I wanted it to be relatively healthy. 

Enter Bedrock Eats & Sweets. This place has been around for years, but I didn't realize they had a whole vegan menu! They have a lot of options for the paleo/keto crowd, so I just assumed it wouldn't be vegan-friendly. But I was so wrong! They have several vegan dishes, including vegan waffles and breakfast tacos. But since it was lunch, I opted for the Macro Bowl (though breakfast is served all day if that's what you're craving).

The Macro Bowl had a base of roasted potatoes topped with smoky black beans, spinach, and BBQ sauce. And all of that was topped with Just Egg. This may be the only place in Memphis serving Just Egg, and it's included a lot of dishes. This hit the spot! It was healthy and hearty. And I will absolutely be working Bedrock into my Downtown lunch rotation. 

Monday, July 18, 2022

I Love Bread!

This post is dedicated to bread — specially my homemade sourdough. I've been baking sourdough for a few weeks now, and each loaf is getting better and better. And I've been eating it just about every day. Here are a few ways bread has made its way into my mouth lately.

My favorite recent meal was this plate of Nashville Not Chicken with Herbed Potato Salad, pickles, and sourdough. The baked tofu chicken and the potato salad were both from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, and the recipes were phenomenal. The tofu was coated in breadcrumbs and drizzled with a spicy homemade buffalo sauce (made with olive oil and cayenne!). And potato salad had lots of fresh parsley.

I picked up some fresh butter beans from the farmers market a few weeks ago, and I made a tasty bean soup with fresh herbs (and served, of course, with sourdough, buttered and garlicked).

I made the Simple Sandwich with Peanut Butter and Strawberry Chia Jam from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook last week. The jam was made with frozen strawberries, thickened with chia seeds. I added a little monkfruit for extra sweetness. The toast was topped with hemp hearts.

And this Summer Avocado Toast is also from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook. With fresh heirloom tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and flaky sea salt. A thing of beauty!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Cookbook Review: Plant You

A few weeks before the New York Times-bestselling cookbook Plant You came out, I heard author Carleigh Bodrug on about a million vegan podcasts. The book sounded awesome, and I started following her on IG. I LOVE her "scrappy cooking" reels, where she makes delicious things out of food scraps (like coffee from date pits!). But when I went to order her book, it was already sold out. And it stayed sold out for weeks after its release. But in June, supply was finally restocked, and my book came in the mail! Yay!

Since then, I've been cooking my way through this photo-heavy, oil-free, whole food plant-based cookbook. And everything I've made so far has been a winner. Now, I'm not oil-free or even really low-oil anymore (The Blue Zones books convinced me to get back on the oil wagon). But I tend to use olive oil only as a topping or salad dressing, rather than cooking with it (due to its smoke point). And I still love a good oil-free recipe. I also try to eat whole foods — over processed ones — most of the time. 

One of the coolest things about this book are the photos. Every recipe has a photo, and Carlee includes photos of every ingredient as well. So it's almost like a picture book with recipes. The ingredients are shown in infographic style. I love things are visually appealing like that. 

So far, my favorite thing has been this Garden of Life Pizza with beet hummus, fresh-from-my-garden tomatoes, pickled onions, spinach, and walnuts. The recipe called for arugula, but I don't do that. Gross, ha! I loved this roasty beet hummus! This was like salad on bread.

I've made the Blueberry Lemon Pancakes twice now. They're made with whole wheat flour, and they're still really fluffy. 

The book has four recipes for breakfast cookies, which are basically like baked oatmeal cookies. I made the Nutrient Bomb Breakfast Cookies with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. These were a fun, on-the-go breakfast — though, since I work from home most days, I'm only going from my kitchen to my desk. :-)

The Cool Ranch Kale Salad was perfect on a hot summer day. The ranch was made with silken tofu, and it was really light and fluffy. And the chickpeas were seasoned and roasted. 

And finally, the Hoisin Broccoli Spicy Rice was a nice, easy dinner. This recipe didn't have any sort of added protein, which was different from how I typically eat. I always have tofu or beans or something for protein, but it was fun to just eat veggies and rice and dinner. Also, I love anything with hoisin sauce!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Chicken Sammy, a Summer Cooler, and Healthy Brownies

Here's another edition of "stuff I ate" starting with this Boca Chicken Sandwich with Wicked Foods Bac-no-naise and pickles. Sure, there are better vegan chicken patties out there (I'm looking at you, Gardein Ultimate), but sometimes, you just need a classic Boca. These never disappoint. 

I'm still working my way through The Fiber Fueled Cookbook, and last Sunday afternoon, I made the Turmeric Orange Cooler. Okay, this was kind of weird. It was blended oranges with turmeric and ginger, and the recipe said to strain and drink. But it basically made a smoothie so there was no straining that could have been done. It was just kind of like thick juice. Next time, I'll definitely use my juicer instead. I get that they recommend the blender, so you actually get the fiber. But it was too juicy to be a real smoothie and too smooth to be juice.

But these Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies from the same book were a sure-fire winner! They're made with black beans, peanut butter, spices, and oat flour, and they're sweetened with maple syrup. I've actually never made black bean brownies (that I can remember anyway), and I loved the soft, cakey brownie texture. 

I've been enjoying these topped with Cocowhip (and sometimes also with Brave Robot vanilla ice cream!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Black Lodge

Black Lodge is a Memphis treasure. It's part video rental store (likely the only one left in the city), part event space, and now part cafe. Just a few weeks ago, Black Lodge added a full food menu, and it's heavy on vegan options! Last Sunday, Paul and I finally stopped in to eat. We'd been to plenty of dance parties and concerts there (and they host film screenings almost weekly). It's also the place to go when you're looking for a movie that's not available on streaming. But this was our first time in the Black Lodge cafe space.

Currently, Black Lodge has a Parks & Rec brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's exactly what it sounds like! They play episodes of Parks & Rec on the big screen during brunch. The whole menu is available during brunch hours, so I opted for a more lunch/dinner dish — the Ed Begley Jr. Bowl (named after everyone's favorite environmentalist actor). 

It was listed on the menu as a more Mexican-style bowl with black beans and a spicy sauce, but they made a sushi-inspired version with tempeh bacon, white rice, pickled carrots, pickled cucumbers, fried onions, and avocado. I'm guessing that's just what they had on-hand. It's that kind of free spirit place, and I'm down with that!

Paul ordered a non-vegan waffle grilled cheese with brie and walnuts, so I'll spare you that. But he enjoyed it even though he was skeptical about a grilled cheese with brie. I also ordered an expertly mixed Tequila Sunrise (thanks, Ash!) because brunch!

The menu also includes a Lisa Simpson-inspired vegan hot dog, Beyond burgers, vegan waffles, and a seitan & beets sandwich. So I'll be back to try all of that soon!

After brunch, Paul played a few games of Contra at the community gaming station. They also have a few vintage arcade games as well. We were tempted to rent some movies to take home, but we had some very important Stranger Things episodes to finish!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Pasta, Stir-fry, & a Summer Salad

Because I do my long runs every Saturday, I eat pasta every Friday night as my way to carb-load. Now, the science is still out on whether or not a pre-run pasta really helps, but I believe it does. Maybe it's all in my head though. Anyway, because I'm obsessed with The Fiber Fueled Cookbook right now, my last two pasta night recipes have come from there. A couple weeks ago,  I made the Simple Spaghetti with Garlicky Kale from that book, and it was fantastic! It has an olive oil-based sauce with shallots, garlic, kale, and red chili flakes.

This past Friday, I made the Pesto Pasta Salad using fresh basil from my herb garden. This simple salad has whole wheat penne and peas, and the pesto is made with hemp seeds rather than traditional pine nuts.

Here's a recent, tasty stir-fry. I sauteed air-fried, marinated tofu with fresh farmer's market cabbage, zucchini, and some Just Egg and served over brown rice.

I'm loving the fresh summer tomatoes right now! And I have fresh mint growing in my herb garden, so I figured it was time to try the Tomato, Artichoke, and Fennel Salad from The Blue Zones Solution book. I dog-earred a lot of recipes to make once the summer produce came in, and now is that time. The recipe was one shared from Sardinia where tomatoes, artichokes, and fennel are staples (Sardinia is a Blue Zone where people tend to live to 100). I sliced the fennel super thin on a mandolin, and it was scrumptious.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Adventures with Sourdough!

Somehow, the pandemic sourdough trend passed me by. Maybe I was too busy watching Tiger King (Carole Baskin forever!). Man, weren't those the days? But after reading Dr. Will B's Fiber Fueled Cookbook (and yes, I said "reading"; it's as much an informational book as it is a cookbook), I was inspired to start making my own sourdough bread. Dr. B touts the many benefits of sourdough on our gut microbiome. It's right up there with kraut, kimchi, miso, and other fermented foods.

So about a week ago, I started a starter. You're supposed to name your starter, so I went with Doughy Sevigny (named after my favorite actress and 1990s "it" girl, Chloe Sevigny). 

After feeding it for about five days, I started prepping my first loaf last Friday. The dough has to sit in the fridge overnight (at least according to Dr. B's traditional recipe), so I baked it on Saturday. I was very nervous that it wouldn't turn out. But I popped it in the oven and turned on Bridgerton while I anxiously awaited my first loaf. And guess what? It came out looking pretty great!

I cut into the loaf after cooling, and I was excited to see that open crumb!

The texture was chewy, just like the sourdough I buy. And the crust was crisp and golden. I was so proud of myself! I will definitely be baking more bread this weekend.

The Fiber Fueled Cookbook also has recipes for using the sourdough discard, which you pour out every day as you feed your starter. It seemed a shame to waste that, so I saved it up for the week and made Dr. B's Sourdough Pancakes. These were fantastic! They were light and crisp with a tasty sourdough flavor. I served them with some Beyond Sausage links.

I also made Dr. B's Sourdough Cheese-Its! These have discard and a lot of nooch for that cheesy flavor. I didn't roll out my dough thin enough, so they didn't get very crispy. But they're still very tasty. I plan to try the recipe again soon and roll my dough out to be a lot thinner.