Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Shroomlicious Shrooms, Pad See Ew, and Breakfast Sammy

Here are a few meals I've eaten out lately. I've been really into Shroomlicious, a Memphis takeout meal service where everything is made with mushrooms. The other day, I got a craving for their oyster mushroom wings, so I logged onto their site and saw Korean "Chicken" and Waffles, and I NEEDED that. I mean, NEED. Just look at it!

It was the same crispy, fried oyster mushroom that you get with the wings but served atop a waffle with a spicy-sweet sauce. Mmmmmm.

And then, about a week later, I stopped by to support them during Memphis Black Restaurant Week. Shroomlicious was offering a Vegan Catfish Sandwich special (made with mushrooms, of course) with a side of fries and a lion's mane lemonade. The "fish" really tasted like catfish! The breading had that same flavor I remember from eating fried catfish as a kid. 

Paul and I got some takeout from The Nine Thai Sushi a couple weeks ago, and I opted for the same thing I always order there: Pad See Ew with tofu. I love, love, love pad see ew. I was a little bummed to see they'd switched from deep-fried tofu to pan-fried tofu, but it was still good. We enjoyed this while watching The Hangover II, which is set in Thailand. Yes, I know it's a terrible movie, but I love trashy comedy.

And finally, here's a recent "Kenzie Special" from Lulu's Cafe & Bakery. My friend Kenzie works remotely from Lulu's many days of the week, and she's had everything on the menu. So she's started inventing stuff. This was one of her inventions, and I had them make it for me too. It has their blackeyed pea sausage, cashew cream cheese, and strawberry-chipotle jam on a sourdough bun.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Y'all, I met Tabitha Brown!!

On Sunday, I met Vegan Queen Tabitha Brown!!!

Tab was in town as the special guest for Memphis Vegan Brunch, an event organized by local vegan restaurant Plant-Based Heat. Organizer Ralph Johnson got together a team of local vegan chefs (including Chef Derek of Da Guilty Vegan and Chef Daishu of Shroomlicious) to create massive brunch buffet! There was no way I would miss this.

My friends Melissa and Nicole also bought tickets. We arrived around 12:30 p.m. to find a pretty long line waiting to get into the event. So we waited! 

When we finally got in the door, there was another big line for food, so we waited some more. All in all, we stood in line for over two hours, and while some people might get impatient, we didn't mind too much. We made a run to the bar and grabbed mimosas to enjoy while we waited. 

I was just glad to see SO MANY people packed into a vegan event. There had to have been 500 or more people in line. At one point, Ralph asked the audience for a show of hands from the non-vegans, and the majority of the room raised their hands. So that means a ton of non-vegans paid good money to stand in line for a chance to meet Tab and eat vegan brunch. And that's awesome.

We were very excited when we finally made it to the plates!

Once we did, we got a little taste of everything. This plate was mostly brunch items with Just Egg scramble, hash browns, pancakes, mushroom bacon (so good!), mushroom "shrimp" and grits, fried rice, and a mini mushroom taco. Oh, and two mini cupcakes (one lemon and one carrot cake).

I ended up getting two plates because I don't like too many foods piled atop one another. This plate was mostly soul food with blackeyed peas, greens, a mushroom "crab" cake, fried mushroom "chicken," a vegan potato deviled "egg," roasted tomatoes, a yam quesadilla, and BBQ jackfruit nachos.

Right after we sat down to eat, Tabitha came by our table! She went to every person in the room for selfies. She's just amazing. In fact, I was so starstruck thatI didn't know what to say to her, so all I could say was "You're amazing." Haha. My friend Melissa grabbed this photo of me taking a selfie with her.

The event also featured a fashion show curated by local influencer David Quarles and a musical performance by singer David Michael Wyatt. At the end, Tab took the stage and offered some words of encouragement, and then she tried her hand at jookin' (a style of Memphis hip-hop dance). What a fun event!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Jollof Rice, a Vegan Omelet, and a Flashback Burger

Here are a few things I've been eating lately! I picked up this jar of curry Royal Red Stew, the sauce used to make African jollof rice, at the Cash Saver.

So I made some Jollof Rice with white rice, homemade seitan, spinach, peas, and that curry tomato sauce. So good!

Here's a recent scramble. This was the Sunshine Scramble from Plant You, which has a lot of tomatoes and spinach. Plus some sourdough with Marmite on the side.

Another breakfast: I recently bought the Speros Pepita Egg, which was next to the Just Egg on the shelf at Sprouts. It made a tasty omelet. It's not as fluffy and egg-like as Just Egg, but the main ingredient is pepita seeds, so it felt slightly less processed.

And finally, here's a blast from the past! I got some Boca Burgers recently for old time's sake and because they were on sale. And my friend at Tofutti had sent me some American cheese slices, which I haven't seen sold in stores here since my early vegan days. This tasted like nostalgia, and I loved it.

Also, my dad has a little tip for making Boca Burgers taste better. Thaw and marinate the patties in soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire, Liquid Smoke, and hot sauce before pan-frying. It's very good!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Pizza, Pasta, Potatoes, and Pinto de Gallo

I've been eating a lot of good stuff lately, y'all! I made my favorite Tuscan Flatbread from The Fiber Fueled Cookbook a week or so ago. This had a sourdough crust with artichokes, kalamata olives, tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, and lots of homemade cashew parm. It's like salad on pizza! But it's sourdough so even the dough is good for you.

I also recently pulled Julie Piatt's This Cheese Is Nuts book off the shelf and made this Mac & Cheese with Garlic Spinach. I have some exciting Julie Piatt news to share soon, but I'll save that for another day. But her cashew-based mac and cheese, made with Banza pasta, was so comforting and delicious. 

I've been focusing on whole foods a lot lately, so I'm cooking more from Plant You. Everything in this book is super healthy, including this BBQ Chickpea Stuffed Sweet Potato. This was super easy. Just season and roast some chickpeas, bake a potato, and top with tahini sauce.

And finally, here's one of my favorite healthy meals from The Blue Zones KitchenPinto Gallo! Few things are more comforting than this combo of black beans and white rice. I also made the Fried Plantains from the book and served with cashew cream and hot sauce. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Knifebird

I have a group of lady friends I get together with once a month or so for happy hour, and we always try to go somewhere kinda fancy: cocktail bars, wine bars, etc. For our February meetup, we gathered at Knifebird, a wine bar that turned out to be very vegan-friendly!

For starters, you can get a wine flight during happy hour. That's three 3-ounce pours of white, red, and rose, which are served in proper glasses. All four of us ordered that, so our table was filled with wine glasses! It looks like way more than it was, I swear.

As for the food, their menu includes vegan bruschetta, a kale caesar salad and — this is exciting — vegan charcuterie! I had to get the charcuterie.

It came with pita, hummus, black olive tapenade, carrots, and celery. So simple, and I feel like any bar that offers charcuterie could do this. It's really nice that Knifebird added this option to their menu. My favorite kind of meal involves bread, hummus, and wine. Really, that's all I need.

Knifebird is located at 2155 Central Ave. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Takeout: Donut Burger, Strata, and Raw Toast

Here's a recap of some recent restaurant meals! A couple weeks back, Imagine Vegan Cafe posted on their IG that they were offering a Donut Burger special. They offer this about once a year, and I always have to get it. It's so ridiculous. It was a Saturday, and I was running something like 18 miles that morning, so thoughts of this burger carried me through those long miles. The burger itself is a Beyond burger, and it's topped with a burger sauce that's kind of like Big Mac sauce. I love that savory-sweet combo!

On the side, I got Imagine's Seasoned Greens for balance. 

A few Fridays ago, I stopped into Lulu's Bakery & Cafe for lunch and got the Strata, which was made with sourdough bread, greens, and cashew cheese. 

On the side, I got the soup of the day, which was a curry soup with potatoes and carrots. Very nice on a wintry day.

And finally, here's a recent lunch from Raw Girls. Their Avocado Toast comes with a raw flax cracker, avocado spread, pickled tomatoes, and mustard. And you wouldn't think one raw cracker would be enough food, but they're surprisingly filling.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

HLT Sammy, French Onion Stew, & More!

Every week day, I listen to the Plant-Based Morning Show podcast with hosts Matt and Doug (from the No Meat Athlete podcast, but this is their new one). And sometimes, they talk about what they ate for dinner last night. On a recent episode, Doug mentioned that he threw together a super-quick dinner of vegan boxed mac with chickpeas and spinach. I love a good vegan boxed mac, but I typically pare a vegan plant meat, like tenders or nuggets, as the protein. I loved the idea of adding healthy chickpeas! So I had that for dinner one night, using a box of Annie's Vegan Mac.

Here's another meal idea from Doug. He also mentioned on the podcast that he liked to make sandwiches with the Smiling Hara Hempeh (tempeh made from hemp seeds). It's a little pricy, and it's pre-seasoned, so I never buy it. Mostly because I'm not sure what to do with it that wouldn't mask its awesome flavor. But this HLT (like a TLT!) was perfect. The smoked salt and pepper-flavored hempeh was the star.

Speaking of No Meat Athlete, I'm still trying to cook my way through every recipe in the NMA Cookbook. And last week, I made the French Onion Stew with mushrooms and white beans, topped with sourdough bread and broiled cashew cheese. A nice end-of-winter meal.

And finally, here's a weird stir-fry. I found some soy chicken rounds that I bought at the Viet Hoa Vietnamese market ages ago in my deep freezer. They were still good, so I sauteed that with some veggies and served over rice. The "meat" tasted more like hot dogs than chicken, but it was tasty! Hot dog stir-fry doesn't sound great though. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Race Recap: Little Rock Marathon 2023

I ran my seventh marathon on Sunday in Little Rock! It was my third time running the full 26.2 in this race, and it's always a favorite. Mostly because of these giant medals! I've also run the half-marathon there four times.

This year's race had a 1960s peace and love theme, and there were peace signs, smiley faces, and hearts all over the expo at the Statehouse Convention Center. I arrived there on Saturday afternoon to pick up my bib and race shirt. And I bought a super-cute Sprints veggie cap to wear in the race. I had to grab a selfie in front of the expo's VW van.

After the expo, I went to my friends Sheridan and Drew's house, where I'd be staying for the night. Since my BFF lives in Little Rock, I rarely miss this race! We headed out to have a pre-race beer on the patio at The Pantry. I went with a locally brewed brown ale.

And we split this tasty Hummus Plate. These fried pita chips were just amazing! 

Then we browsed a nearby Indian market and found some tasty treasures. When I travel, I pretty much just eat and check out grocery stores. After shopping, we headed back to Sheridan's, and she cooked a pre-race pasta meal with Banza pasta, Beyond meat crumbles, and a veggie-heavy marinara. Sheridan cooks me pre-race pasta every year because she's the best!

The next morning, I woke at 5 a.m. and got ready for the race, and then I headed downtown around 6:15 a.m. to find parking. Luckily, I found a free street parking spot right away, so I jogged to the expo to stay warm. It was 48 degrees that morning, but it would warm up to the mid-70s, so I was only wearing a singlet and shorts.

Once inside, I grabbed a selfie and took a few bathroom breaks. Pre-race nerves!

And then I met up with Natasha for a quick pic. Natasha is from Memphis, and she's at nearly every race in the tri-state area. 

The race took off at 8 a.m., and I fell into a nice pace. I had planned to treat this race as a training run for my upcoming 50-miler, so I tried not to push too hard. Within the first mile, there was a beer stop, so of course, I stopped! And in mile 8, there was a Fireball stop, another beer stop, and a champagne stop. I had one of each. These are teensy pours though, y'all — maybe one ounce of each. Just enough for a little mental boost to help break through the boredom. This lady knows what I'm talking about! I don't know her, but I had to snap a pick of her shirt. What a cool lady!

About halfway into the race, I realized I was possibly on pace for a PR. And even though I didn't plan to PR, I figured I should probably try since I was doing well. So I kept up that pace. But it got pretty hilly around mile 15, and that slowed me quite a bit. And it got very hot. The sun was shining, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Oh, and I forgot to wear sunscreen, and I could feel my skin baking.

So needless to say, that last half was a tough one. An aid station with tater tots at mile 16 certainly helped though! But when I crossed the finish line, I was eight seconds short of a PR. I took three mid-race bathroom breaks, so one less break (or maybe one less beer or tot stop!) would have done the trick. But how was I to know? Anyway, I'm still proud of my second-fastest marathon! And this weather was far hotter than in my PR race last December. PR or no, I earned this crazy medal.

At the post-race party, I grabbed some pasta with marinara (Little Rock always has vegan options; another reason I don't miss this race!) and my free beer.

And then I headed back to Sheridan's for a shower. And then I stopped by Blaze Pizza for a vegan pie with Daiya, meat-free chorizo, and all the veggies. Plus, a balsamic and olive oil drizzle. We don't have Blaze Pizza in Memphis, so I was excited to try this, and it did not disappoint. 

Another marathon in the books!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Mardi Gras Meals!

Mardi Gras was last Tuesday, and I never let a Fat Tuesday go by without a celebration. I don't celebrate Lent or anything. But I love a party. And I love Cajun food. This year, I made the Eggplant & Sausage Jambalaya from Cookin' Crunk.

It's been so long since I've made this! I got a little burnt out on my cookbook recipes after it was published because I had to make them over and over in testing. But the book came out in 2012 (over a decade ago, y'all!), so some time has passed. I forgot how much I loved the Creole Seitan Sausage that I used in this recipe. You make that first, and then it goes in the jamabalaya. The eggplant stands in for the chicken. This was spicy and comforting.

I typically make a king cake every year. But I was feeling lazy this year, and I didn't really want to be stuck with a whole cake. So I googled a recipe for a single-serve Mug King Cake. This recipe was vegan except for the milk, which was easily subbed for soymilk. Now, this was nothing like a king cake. It was a mug cake. But it had the signature icing and colored sugar, and that was good enough for me.

I also had an Abita Mardi Gras bock beer. Let the good times roll!