Monday, July 31, 2023

Danish "Meatballs," Dumpling Stir-fry, & More

Lately, I've been a little obsessed with hygge, the Danish concept of coziness. I'm reading The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, which is all about ways to make your life cozier. And of course, one of those ways is through food. The book includes a few recipes, most of which are not vegan. Apparently, Danish food is pretty meaty. But I can veganize anything, and I love that challenge. So first up, I veganized the Boller I Karry (or Danish Meatballs in Curry).

For this, I used Impossible burger in place of ground pork (I wish there was a good vegan ground pork, but oh well), The Vegg yolk for the egg in the meatballs, and vegan margarine in place of butter. The first night I made this dish, Paul declared it his new favorite meal. And so I made it again last Friday and doubled the recipe so he would have lunches for the week. Paul isn't vegan, and any time I can get him to eat vegan food, I'm all for it!

In my day job, I'm the newsletter editor at The Daily Memphian, and that means I spend a fair amount of time studying other newspapers' newsletters. My very favorite is this Plant-Powered pop-up newsletter from The Washington Post. It's a 12-week series, and each email has a few vegan recipes. And they all look SO GOOD. Last week, I tried the Dumpling Stir-fry from one of the newsletters. It's made with Trader Joe's Thai veggie gyoza, bok choy, carrots, chili crisp, and other yummy stuff. I highly recommend signing up. It's free! No need for a WaPo subscription.

Speaking of The Daily Memphian, I recently recorded a DM Sound Bites podcast with our digital director Holly Whitfield on vegan options in Memphis. Check it out.

And in other Trader Joe's news, I finally tried the Vegan Tikki Masala I've heard so many good things about. It did not disappoint!! Lots of seitan and tasty Indian flavors.

I recently made the Bliss Burgers from Plant You. These were black bean and brown rice-based burgers. A very nice veggie patty that was a departure from my usual Beyond burger or Impossible. Love those, but sometimes, I want whole foods.

And finally, check out this beautiful SriMu Vegan Cheese Board! SriMu (Julie Piatt's plant-based cheese company) has relocated from L.A. to Memphis, and their space is in my neighborhood in Crosstown Concourse. The retail shop and cafe aren't open yet, but they are already making cheese and shipping it out from Memphis. Every Sunday, they host a FREE SriMu yoga class at Concourse, and some days, yoga is followed by a cheese tasting. I cannot wait for the cafe and shop to open!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Vuture Food Pop-up

California-based food truck Vuture Food started as just that — a small food truck. But they've since grown to three teams that travel all over the U.S. to sell what they call "savory Junk Food" with a capital J and a capital F. Life is all about balance, and there's a place for Junk Food in everyone's life, I believe. We have to keep the body healthy, sure, but without the mental health boost that comes from indulgence, life would be no fun. 

Vuture stops in Memphis about once a year, and I missed them last year. So I made sure to get to Grind City Brewing Co. to try their stuff when they were here last week! I went with the Mango Habanero Chick'n Sandwich, a thick, fried patty covered in a sticky-sweet-spicy sauce. It wasn't over spicy though, just right. And great paired with a summery lemonade shandy from the brewery.

I also got a side of fries. And they were PERFECT. I love the extra-crispy fries that have been in the fryer a little too long. Gosh, I had a hard time stopping when I was full. 

It was a very hot summer day, so I sat inside (even though Grind City has an amazing outdoor space). And I ran into so many Memphis vegans whom I hadn't seen in years! This pop-up really pulled everyone out of the woodwork. Lucky for me, I got there right as the pop-up started, because just about 30 minutes after I got home, the sunny day had quickly turned into a severe summer storm that knocked out power for much of the city (not my house, thankfully). But I heard from some people that Vuture had to close early because they were set up outside. Damn.

Vuture literally goes all over the country! Check out their travel schedule to see if they're in your area soon. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Bluff City Vegan Eats: Arnold's Smokehouse

There's a new vegan restaurant in town! Well, kind of. Arnold's Smokehouse serves meat barbecue, but it also has a full page vegan menu that's about the same size as its meat menu. So I'm counting it as a vegan restaurant.

Just look at this huge menu! Because the restaurant has a smoker, there are lots of dishes with smoked mushrooms or smoked jackfruit. I especially love that most of the dish are veggie-forward without a lot of plant meat. They do offer Beyond Burgers if you're in the mood for that. And I love a Beyond Burger as much as the next gal. But we have plenty of plant meat options at other vegan restaurants in town. This is something different!

I stopped in last week for the first time and went with the BBQ Jack Flatbread. This had smoky BBQ jackfruit, corn, onions, vegan cheese, and a tangy-spicy cue sauce. It was perfection. I'm pretty picky when it comes to jackfruit because it tends to be moist and briny when not prepared properly, but Arnold's dries the jackfruit out for the perfect meaty texture. 

Arnold's is located in Castalia Heights in South Memphis. There's a big dining space with a cute neon light wall for your Insta shots. 

But here's a pro tip: If you're ordering takeout, call ahead or order in person. There is an online ordering system, but there's an upcharge on all items when you order that way. You'll save quite a bit by calling ahead. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Vegan Party Spread!

A couple weeks back, our friend Max turned 85! I've known Max and his wife Rita for almost 20 years. We met in the mid-2000s at a vegan meetup group that I used to help organize with my friend Vaughan. Max is still in great health, thanks to his vegetarian diet! And we celebrated him with a party hosted by Vaughan and Nicole at their house. Nicole went all out with food!

She ordered a vegan charcuterie spread from Lulu's with two cashew cheeses, pickled veggies, jam, and sourdough bread. 

Honestly, I could have made a meal out of the cheese and wine. But I had to hold back because there was more. Nicole also ordered vegan fried "catfish" (made from mushrooms) from Shroomlicious! I'd had this on a sandwich from Shroomlicious and loved it, and I was thrilled to eat it again. There were plenty of non-vegans at the party too, and they were all blown away by this "fish."

Nicole made potato salad, a green salad, and rice and beans, too.

Here's my dinner plate!

I still had to save room for dessert though. She also ordered chocolate cake and sweet potato pecan cupcakes from Lulu's. Most people went for a slice of chocolate cake, but I went for the cupcakes. No regrets!!

Monday, July 17, 2023

19-year Anniversary Dinner!

Paul and I celebrated 19 years on June 28, but that was a Wednesday. And we both go to bed super-early, so that night, we only had time to go out to Newby's, the bar where we met, for our annual anniversary pool game. 

We decided to wait and have an anniversary date night later when we had time. But the weekend after our anniversary, my friend Greg was staying with us for the July 4th weekend. So we finally got that chance for a date night this past Sunday. We caught a matinee of the new Mission Impossible movie at the Paradiso theater. That would not have been my first choice of film, but all the movies out right now kinda suck. And this was the only one playing early enough for us to make it to dinner on time. 

That said, it was okay. I'm not a big fan of action films, but I like this new genre of "Tom Cruise bringing back the classics." After the movie, we hopped a block over to Ciao Bella for dinner.

We couldn't get a reservation because they were already booked when we tried. So we had to be there right as they opened at 5 pm to make sure we could get a table without a wait. And we did! The meal starts with Bread and Olive Oil — my favorite part of any Italian dining experience. And I also ordered a side salad with champagne vinaigrette that I forgot to take a picture of.

I ordered the only vegan entree — Capellini Toscana. It's capellini pasta with roma tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, and roasted red pepper in a white wine sauce. It's good, but I added some extra olive oil because it needed something, and there was a nice bottle of EVOO on the table. Perfect with a nice glass of chianti.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Tempeh Tacos, Butter Chickpeas, and Salad Time!

When my friend Greg was in town last week, we did a lot of eating. And I shared most of that in this post. But I forgot to share this delicious pic of our Pho Binh takeout. This is the Chinese Vegetable stir-fry and Tofu Spring Rolls. Pho Binh is our favorite Vietnamese place, and we always go there on the first night Greg is in town. Also, they give you so much food, so we ate on it for days.

I’ve been on a probiotic foods kick lately, so I’m trying to eat tempeh weekly. Last week, I made Tempeh Tacos using some Siete tortilla shells that I got on clearance at Sprouts. They’re grain-free, and I love grains. But these were good. I usually make tacos with soft corn tortillas, so this was a nice change.

Here’s a tasty dinner of Butter Chickpeas from Plant You with baked Pakoras from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I have been cooking from Plant You a lot lately. Carleigh’s stuff is just so tasty — without oil! Her recipes always blow me away.

I’ve also been on a salad kick. Because it’s hot outside! But I’ve been trying to change up my salad game with less traditional salads. This Tempeh Co-op Salad from the No Meat Athlete book (not the cookbook, but the original book that has a few recipes) was really cooling. It has cubed tempeh, onion, carrots, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, and a vegan mayo-based dressing. 

I’m a Yoga with Adriene Find What Feels Good member, and a few weeks ago, she posted a video of hereslf making the People’s Pharmacy Kale Salad from the Austin-based pharmacy where she lives. It looked really good, so I got the ingredients and made the salad while watching the video. It has grapes for a little sweetness and quinoa and sunflower seeds for protein. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Family Meals: Mushrooms and Sushi!

A few weeks ago, Paul and I took a trip to Nashville to visit his family. His aunt was visiting from The Netherlands, and he hadn't seen her in years. So my mom came down to Memphis to house sit while we were gone. She arrived a little early, while Paul was still at work. So she and I picked up takeout from Shroomlicious Meals and brought it to Grind City Brewing Co. to enjoy.

I got the Korean Bulgogi Sandwich, which had crispy, fried oyster mushrooms with a Korean sweet-spicy sauce, and it was AMAZING. Everything I've had from Shroomlicious has been great, but anything involving their fried mushrooms has been the best.

I also got Potato Wedges on the side because they're fire.

Paul and I headed to Nashville after he got off work, and it was too late for dinner with his family. But we got in a nice lunch at Koi Hibachi in Gallatin. It was a typical hibachi place where they cook in front of you, and though they had a veggie hibachi option, I figured it was cooked in butter and on the same grill as the meat. And I was right. Now, I know a lot of restaurants cook vegan food on the same grill as meat, but I don't want to see happening in front of me. I'd rather not know! And the butter was a deal breaker.

So I opted for Veggie Sushi and an Avocado Roll to be safe. It'd been a while since I've ordered sushi, so this was nice.

Here's a family pic after lunch with Paul, his parents, and his Aunt Coby.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Posole, Tres Leches Cake, and Vegan Chicken Wraps

I'm still working my way through the Born to Run 2 Run Free program, which I blogged about a few weeks ago as I did the Two-Week low-carb test. That part is over, thankfully! And now the program is just focusing on running form. I can eat all the carbs I want. And I can also make recipes from the book, many of which don't fit into the Two-Week Test rules. And most of the recipes are either vegan or easily veganizable. So far, I've made the vegetarian version of Arnulfo's Posole with Roasted Kale, which is a Tarahumara recipe.

The Born to Run 2 book includes a meat version with pork and a veg version with eggplant and mushrooms. Of course, I made the veg version, and I also added seitan for extra protein. The stew has lots hominy and tomatoes with a bright lime finish, and it's topped with roasted kale (I roasted mine in the air fryer) and vegan sour cream. It's the kind of recipe you're glad to have leftovers of! I even froze some for later.

A few weeks back, Lulu's Cafe and Bakery offered Tres Leches Cake, a super-sweet cake soaked in three kinds of milk. Of course, it was all vegan milk! Everything at Lulu's is vegan. I picked up a slice and savored every bite.

Here's some amazing Eggy Avocado Toast. I used my homemade sourdough, topped with avocado, sauerkraut, and scrambled Just Egg. I will definitely be doing this again.

For summer solstice, I made the Lemon Chicken Wraps from Llewelyn's Sabbats Almanac. The recipe wasn't vegan, but I made it vegan with Morningstar Farms chicken strips. The dressing was made with preserved lemon (I used Indian pickle cause it's what I had, and it's basically the same thing.) Really, really good! I also had a Tomato and Squash Salad from the book on the side.

And finally, here's the Banana Almond Butter Waffles from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook. I've made this recipe as pancakes plenty of times, but this was my first time (I think) making it as waffles! Sausage was the Whole Foods store brand vegan sausage.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Vegan Spam!

As I've mentioned in a few posts lately, Sprouts recently had a ton of vegan meats on close-out, and one of those was the OmniPork Luncheon (aka vegan spam). It was regularly priced for about $8 a package, which always seemed too much. So I never bought it. But then it was marked down to $2 a pack, so I grabbed some. Now I'm sad I only got one.

I know spam gets a bad rap. But I remember enjoying Spam as a kid. Truth be told, I was a fan of most potted meats I tried. I LOVED Vienna sausages, too. So, maybe I'm just a weirdo. But I remember really liking Spam. 

That said, I didn't really remember how I ate Spam. Straight from the can? On sandwiches? I don't remember. But I have some weird inkling of a memory of eating Spam Hash. So I decided I'd try some that way. 

I first browned the luncheon meat and sampled a bite on its own. It was good! Very salty and quite greasy. And though I can't remember exactly what Spam tasted like, I think this is similar. Then I fried some potatoes with onions and peppers and added back the diced luncheon meat. This was good! 

I have a couple slices of OmniPork left, and I think I'm going to try using it in sushi. It's not something I'd want to eat often, as it's very processed. But I love a good treat like this. And good news: It seems Sprouts wasn't totally getting rid of the product. I noticed a few weeks later than they had the same thing in new packaging, so I suspect the product underwent a rebrand and that's why it was marked down.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Food and Fun with Greg!

Long-time readers of this blog might remember my friend Greg. He used to live Memphis, and we did everything together. But he moved to Kentucky about eight years ago, and now I only see him once a year or so. He came to visit this past week for the 4th of July, and we packed a ton into about five days.

On Saturday night, we met up with our friend Andy, who just had a birthday, for a birthday drag show at Dru's Place.

And on Sunday, we had brunch at RP Tracks with friends Vaughan and Nicole.

The Veggie Rooster on RP Tracks' brunch menu is vegan if you leave off the cheese. It has tofu scram, vegan sausage, and coconut bacon, and it's served with toast. I also had a couple of Salty Dogs. RP Tracks' brunch cocktails are just $4.50!

After brunch, we stopped by to visit with our friend Shara, who has been house-sitting and caring for some backyard chickens. These little babies were so sweet. Our favorite was Pancake, the super social hen in the foreground. She followed us around and let us pet her. 

The next day, Monday, was my day off work for the holiday. For complicated reasons that are too boring to explain here, I work a few hours on almost every holiday, but I'm always off the day before the holiday. So Greg and I decided to go kayaking on the Wolf River.

We packed a little picnic of Pasta Salad, Veggies & Hummus, and Chips and kayaked to Memphis Beach — the small sandy beach on the Wolf River — to spread out our blanket.

Here's my picnic plate!

Later that night, we went to the free Memphis fireworks show at Liberty Park. Paul, who spent most of the weekend working (and sleeping because he works a million hours a week) got to join us for this outing. And then after the official show, we had our own mini show with some fireworks that Greg brought along. 

Tuesday was actual Fourth of July, but I had to work for a few hours. So I got my work done in the morning, and we spent the afternoon grilling. We made Veggie & Tofu Kabobs, Grilled Corn, Oyster Mushrooms, and Asparagus. And I had some leftover pasta salad.

Wednesday was Greg's last full day in town, and I had to work all day. But when I got off, we headed to Imagine Vegan Cafe for one last dinner. 

I got the new Buffalo Fish Sandwich, which is made with Gardein fish covered in buffalo sauce, coleslaw, and tartar sauce. It sounds weird, but it was good!