Monday, November 27, 2023

Thanksgiving Eats!

Sorry it's been awhile since my last post. Last week was just extra busy with the holiday (and all the work that had to be done before the holiday since I'd be off work for a few days). On Thanksgiving, Paul and I went to my me-maw's house in Arkansas. And my parents met us there, too. Her house is about halfway for both my parents (coming from north Arkansas) and Paul and I (coming from Memphis.)

My mom made most of the meal: Tofurky, her famous dressing, hash brown casserole, and coleslaw. I brought homemade sourdough rolls, roasted brussels and acorn squash, and cranberry sauce. And me-maw made the corn and green beans. 

I love, love, love Thanksgiving because these are my favorite foods. Casseroles! Fake meat! Yes! I enjoyed this gigantic plate but somehow saved room for dessert.

That dessert was vegan chocolate lasagna! I'd never had this before, but I want my mom to make it again and again. It had a base of Oreos and was topped with vegan chocolate pudding and whipped cream. This may have trumped banana pudding to become my favorite dessert.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Hot Springs Vegan Eats + Hash Fest

Over the weekend, I traveled with the Memphis Hash House Harriers (our little running and drinking club) to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for the annual Little Rock Hash Fest. Hot Springs is about 30 minutes outside Little Rock, but it's much prettier since it's closer to the Ozarks. We stayed at the historic Arlington Hotel and had a couple fun pub crawls through the town. Here we are on Saturday for the Red Dress Run. Everyone — men and women — had to wear a red dress to participate.

I won't bore you with the hash weekend details. Just know there was plenty of beer, pub crawling, and hot tubbing and very little running. I'm really here to tell you about the food! When I arrived on Friday, I quickly realized that I did not want to move my car all weekend since I found a free street parking spot (the hotel's parking would have been $42 for the weekend, so I lucked out!). 

Luckily, there was vegan food in walking distance. Right across the street from the Arlington, I found Rolando's, a Mexican restaurant with some Cuban and Argentinian dishes. I ordered the Guac Tostada with no cheese (the server told me they had a dairy-free button in their ordering system, so that made it easy). This had crunchy tostadas with lots of guac, pickled veggies, and Cuban black beans and rice. Really good. Very guac-y!

The next morning, my friend Kenzie, who had stayed in Hot Springs recently, took some of our group on a little walk to Kollective Coffee + Tea. This place was very vegan-friendly and definitely the highlight of my food experience there! I got the Everything Bagel with Vegan Cream Cheese, Tempeh Bacon, Tomato, and Roasted Red Pepper. You got to build your own bagel sandwich, and they had lots of vegan stuff to choose from.

For lunch that day, I just had some ramen noodles I brought in the hotel room. I didn't really want to cut into hot tub time by venturing out on foot for food.

I found dinner during the Red Dress Run. Our first beer stop was at Cafe Kahlo, and it was about 5-ish, so I figured I'd better order food while I could. They had a Veggie Burrito that was easy to make vegan without cheese. It was simple and not too exciting, but it was vegan, so that worked.

Here's some of the Memphis folks at Cafe Kahlo!

On Sunday, most of our Memphis group was hitting the road back home before the "hangover trail," so I walked back over to Kollective for brunch. This time, I got the Vegan Gyro, which had a really tasty vegan meat. I couldn't tell what it was, but it may be Beyond Steak. That was topped with a creamy vegan tzatziki and served with sweet potato chips. Just what I needed to fuel the drive!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Sausage Scramble, Sabzi Papad, & Oat Burger!

My friend Susan gifted me Tabitha Brown's Cooking from the Spirit for my birthday, and y'all, I love this book! It's written in Tab's unique voice, so it feels like she's reading you the recipes. And the recipes don't have measurements! Just ingredient lists. So it really does feel like you're cooking from the spirit. I love to cook and don't really need recipes for most things, but I do always need meal ideas. And that's what this book gives. 

The first thing I made with the Sausage Scramble. It uses Field Roast sausage in place of traditional tofu for a fun twist on breakfast. Also, spinach, bell peppers, and mushrooms. This made for a hearty weekend brunch!

Here's another fun dish from Vegan Treasures of India, my current favorite cookbook. This is Sabzi Papad, which is essentially a yogurt soup (I used my homemade soy yogurt), and then you crumble in crispy papad (those cracker-like Indian flatbreads). The papad thickens the soup into a stew, much like a tortilla soup. I served it over white rice.

And finally, here's an Oat Burger from Otherlands. I met a couple friends for afternoon tea at this hippie-dippy, longtime Memphis coffee shop, and I was hungry for dinner. So I got the Oat Burger on sourdough. I'm not certain, but I feel like maybe they use the old Oat Burger recipe from Square Foods, a health food store that closed years ago. This tasted like I remembered that tasting, and I really miss that burger.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Brown Food That Tastes Good

Not all meals are beautiful. In fact, some of the tastiest stuff is pretty ugly. Case in point: This Cozy Sweet Potato Peanut Stew from Plant You. This hearty stew has a base of sweet potatoes and red lentils with lots of PB and spinach. We had a little false-winter cold snap last week, so this was nice and comforting for those chilly days. 

Another a very ugly meal: Punk-kin Pasta from How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer. This one is an oldie but a goodie. I try to make this every fall, and I've kept that tradition going for about a decade, I think. It's pasta with a simple pumpkin based sauce, vegan sausage, and vegan cheddar. It's always very ugly though because the pumpkin sauce is so thick.

This Oktoberfest Hot Dog and German Potato Salad is a little prettier. But not much. Just before the end of October, I made Kraut Dogs (veggie dogs boiled in beer and kraut) with Ikea caper-dill mustard. I had a six-pack of Oktoberfest beer that needed drinking while it was still in season, and this was a perfect pairing.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Race Recap: Mamba 25K

On Saturday, I ran in the first inaugural Mamba 100, a new race in Memphis with 25K, 50K, 100K, and 100-mile race distances. I opted for the 25K since I'm taking a year off ultras following last May's 50-miler. The race is on the Wolf River Trails in Shelby Farms, which are local to me and very familiar. They're also super-duper flat and easy to run, so this would be a great first 100 for anyone looking to run that distance. 

The 25K was just one 15-ish mile loop, while the 50Kers did two loops, the 100K folks did five loops and the 100-milers did seven. I stopped by the course on Friday to pick up my packet, and the 100-milers had already been running for hours. They had a very nice athlete village set up at the trailhead. 

For my pre-race meal, I had Chickpea Pasta with Victoria Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo and a slice of Garlic Sourdough Bread. Plus, I had my usual pre-race beer — a Goose Island IPA this time.

The next morning, I had an Onion Bagel with Tofutti Cream Cheese (no pic), and then I headed to the race. It was very cold, in the 40s, but it was going to warm up to be almost 70. So I had to dress for warmer weather and freeze a bit. Luckily, the parking area was about a mile from the race start, so I was able to jog there and warm up. And they had a big firepit going by the start line.

At 9 am, we were off! I was feeling good and keeping a nice pace. And my friend Keshia was right with me for much of the race. Once we made it to the mid-race aid station (about five miles in), we were ready for a Fireball shot. Nothing beats Fireball in a trail race. I also did a pickle juice shot. But they had all kinds of snacks: chips, PB&Js, candy, you name it. Lots of vegan treats. Speaking of fuel, other than the Fireball and pickle shots, I stuck with UCan gels for the race; I had three gels (orange and strawberry-banana).

Our friend Sherry was passing out Fireball shots in her Fireball costume! But I turned her down since I'd just had one.

The race went well, and I didn't fall once. I was also able to maintain a pretty decent clip for a trail run. My trail pace is usually pretty slow, but the trails were nice and dry and free of roots. I finished the race faster than any 25K I've done so far. I don't consider that a PR since this is a new course, and every trail race is different. But it was definitely my fastest 25K to date. Here I am with Keshia and Nastasha, fellow run friends and hashers.

Immediately after the run, I grazed through the options at the start/finish aid station. I enjoyed an icy-cold Coke (during or after a race is the only time I'll drink soda) and some super-salty tater tots. Those hit the spot.

When I got home from race, I was craving MORE PASTA! I usually crave pizza or a burger, but nope, I wanted pasta again — but not just any pasta. Imagine Vegan Cafe's Spaghetti has a super-sweet and savory meat sauce, and that's what I wanted. So that's what I got. With a side of Garlic Toast.

All in all, a fantastic race, and I can't wait to do it again next year. Maybe I'll go for the 50K next time. Who knows?

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Vegan Tuna Sushi & Kittee's Tofu

I've been hearing a lot about the new Konscious Foods plant-based sushi, so when I saw it for sale at Sprouts, I had to try it. I got the Tuna Avocado Roll because I was eager to try vegan tuna. I've had vegan canned-style tuna before but never fresh vegan tuna. These come frozen, and then you just thaw them to serve. The tuna was really good. It had a nice texture, and though I've never had real tuna, the texture did remind me of other types of fish. My only complaint is the rice, which loses that chewy sushi rice texture after freezing. These would be good in a pinch, but I'd prefer fresh sushi.

A few weeks ago, my old blogger friend Kittee shared news about her new Baked Tofu for the Air Fryer e-cookbook. Tofu is definitely the thing that I cook most in my air fryer, and I can always use new marinade ideas. Plus, it's only $6! So I bought it and have already made a couple recipes. First up, I tried the Red Hot Tofu over quinoa and broccoli and topped with vegan ranch. 

The tofu gets super firm using Kittee's air fryer method. And this Red Hot Tofu was a little like buffalo tofu but with noochy cheesiness, maple syrup sweetness, and lots of spices, like dill and smoked paprika.

I also made her Sesame Tofu for this quick Korean rice cake stir-fry. I had leftover Korean rice cakes from a recipe I made a while back, and I sauteed those with the tofu and some veggies. The tofu is perfect for any Asian-style dish. Will definitely be adding this to some ramen soon! By the way, you can buy Kittee's book here.