Monday, October 5, 2009

Why Vegan? Reason #768 and the current olive climate

Just one of the endless reasons. I came across this story from the NY Times through a few other blogs and I just felt I needed to help pass it on. The story talks not only on food borne illnesses but also touches on how food safety procedures and "laws" are not followed and barely enforced.

If the story about where hamburger comes from isn't enough to put you off your meats then the food safety issue certainly should put you over the edge.

"But I only buy organic meat" you say. "Happy meat," as it is often referred to, is not safe from this particular issue. Organic and conventionally raised cows go to the same slaughter houses. They are killed the same way and processed on the same conveyor belts by the same under paid and over worked employees.

I'm traditionally not the pushy type really but I'm growing into a slightly pushy person the more I come up against this denial from the majority of the world's population. Eating meat this way isn't healthy and it isn't natural. How is this natural? It kinda freaks me out to look at. A crop of cows. For a happy meat view just imagine grass under their feet.
a CAFO - Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation
(Image source:

But as this is mofo let's have a little food here to take the pain out of my head from the above mentioned insanity which was kinda chaotically written.

Yesterday I went on a crazy walk around Granada in search of an herbolario (natural health/whole foods stores) to try and buy some grains other than rice and maybe if I'm lucky some reasonably priced tahini. Of course these shops are tiny so no matter how well stocked they won't have loads but that's ok because I have neither loads of money or loads of space to store random bits. I'll share my finds another post but I was super excited to find olives.
The olives might not seem like anything special but let me tell you. This is the first place I've come to that I can buy olives in bulk. Spain grows plenty of olives, lots of green olives which is ok because I like those too. However in just about all the shops you can only buy canned green or black olives. The black ones taste like nothing, a true crime if you ask me, but that's no different than canned olives in the US. The green ones vary from tasting lightly olivy to pretty good. Getting the ones with pits still in them is the key here but still stay away from the black ones. Even with the pits they taste of nothing. The green pimento stuffed ones are acceptable (watch out for anchovy stuffed olives, the most common stuffing). When you come to the plastic packets of green olives with pits, these are the best cheap packaged olives.

If anyone has some tips for olive consumption in Spain for me please let me know. Spain produces just under half the world's olives. Why is it so hard to find good ones? Are they hiding them in the midst of all that meat so I won't see them as I run past?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Juicy Jones

The absolute best place to spend all of you food money when in Barcelona. Once we found Juicy Jones we couldn't come back enough. They stole us away from going back to Vegetalia as we had planned.
There are two Juicy Jones locations: Cardenal Casañas 7 (just off Rambla) and Hospital 74. We only went to the Cardenal Casañas location. I hear Hospital is the larger of the two.
Juicy Jones is awesome. AWESOME!! Ok, must not get too excited and focus. I'm ok now.
I wanted to eat everything. It was all so tasty. Tasty and vegan. The decor is bright, funky, graffy but the furniture is clean and basic. Even though the walls are really busy it's not over whelming. The above photo is of the bar as you walk in. At first appearance it's just a simple bar and a tiny shop but behind me is the restaurant dining area pictured below. You can order and eat at the bar or grab a table. We tried both and I'd recommend a table for a full meal but the bar is perfect for a milk shake and hummus.
Our first visit consisted of a cookie. We accidentally found the place wandering around and had already eaten lunch but I had to get something. When we came back we took things more seriously with some hummus and a couple milk shakes (they use soy milk for these). Lex got the Fruit Slam: mango, pear, strawberry, papaya, soy milk, sugar and ice. I saw chocolate and I couldn't turn away, I tried the Banana GoGo: banana, cocoa, soy milk, coconut, cane sugar and ice. These were so so so so yummy. The hummus was also super yummy.

The next time we came back it was with the intent to eat a full meal. After careful consideration we ordered from the Menu del Dia.
1. Sopa/ensalada (soup or salad)
2. Thali/Plato del dia (Indian plate or plate specials)
3. Postre (dessert)
From the listings on the specials board we went with a good sampling of items.
Lex got 1. Hummus (he really liked this hummus) 2. Nidas de Patata con setas y queso vegano y ensalada de judias. No pics of the hummus but this was a kinda potato and vegan cheese pie with a green bean salad. Really good and comfort foodie.
I went for 1. Crema de Calabacin (cream of zucchini soup) 2. Thali (Brocoli masala, papad dam, onion, bhajee, mixed dal, mixed veg, plain rice, chatni itimati. No pic of the soup but it was lovely. As was the whole Thali plate. Lex helped me polish it off in the end. We both thought it was the business.
Dessert - Biscuit de Piña y Crema de Chocolate. They were a good size though, just a little bite to finish off the meal. I got the last Crema de Chocolate, score!
We were stuffed to the rafters after this meal but it was so good. Could not stop eating. All this food came to 8.50€ per meal. An awesome deal as this was far too much food. We could have shared one. This also comes with a beverage. Water (bottled in glass) or wine. You can also just get one of the main dish specials and the juice selection of the day for 7.95€. Probably a slightly healthier option than stuffing yourself sillybut for the extra 0.55€ get the appetizer and dessert and share with a friend.

The next time we came back we tried something else from the printed menu which never grows tiresome to look at.
To have a closer look at the menu you can click the picture and zoom in. They have this menu bound to look at in the cafe but this one was nicely displayed at the entrance for people to peruse the selection.To drink a Strawberry Mary (another milk shake of strawberries, papaya, soymilk, cane sugar and ice) and a mixed juice of beet, ginger, carrot, orange, and lemon. Both were to die for naturally. And for our chewing pleasure, sandwiches.
Toscano: hummus, green beans, sundried tomatoes, onion and spinach.
Tofu: oven baked tofu, avocado, carrot, scallion, sprouts, lettuce, and ginger satay sauce.

So in conclusion we would like to offer our services in opening a Granada (that's where we are at the moment) branch of Juicy Jones. WE LOVE JUICY JONES!! Get your tapas, salads, sammies, huge meals, sweets and drinks here!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Barcelona has a few vegetarian options and a couple really tasty ones for vegans. Check out HappyCow for some good places to start because I'm only going to tell you about the two we went to here.

After looking at HappyCow for suggestions we decided to start with a little place called Vegetalia. This started our adventure with Spain and "open hours." In the US I was used to shops small and large having their posted open hours and those being fairly accurate give or take a few minutes. Here it seems you're lucky if they have posted hours, those hours are merely suggestions, and they will almost certainly be closed for siesta and on Sundays. So we had to walk by Vegetalia a couple times over a couple days before we hit it open.
Escudellers 54
08002 Barcelona

Vegetalia is not strictly vegan so be sure you talk to your server. As is the case all over Spain, they may not speak English but they know what vegan means here (you might get blank stares in other restaurants). When we went our server did not speak English and he did not know for sure which items were vegan but he was super friendly and more than happy to consult with other staff to check on veganness. Don't speak Spanish? no problem! We don't either. Vegano is Spanish for vegan when you're lucky enough to encounter people who know what it means. This isn't so different from the US when you think about it. How many times have you asked for vegan and maybe even spelled it out, "so no dairy, eggs, honey, etc" and received a soup with chicken stock or a sandwich with traditional mayo on it? So at Vegetalia, if you don't speak the local language, simply point to what you are interested in and ask "Vegano?"
So let's actually talk about some food yes? We were in the mood for burgers so that's what we went for. Expecting a burger on a bun, we were surprised to receive a burger on a pile of salad with wholesome brown rice. For me to eat healthier why don't you. In all seriousness though it was very tasty. The brown rice was lightly seasoned and ever so slightly sweet. The burgers were both very tasty. Lex ordered a seitan based burger (I'm sorry to say I forget the flavor) and mine was seaweed tofu. Again, not all the burgers are vegan so be sure to ask.
Really like the burgers and maybe need some other bits? Well Vegetalia also stocks a small shop area with a mixture of items including some of their own brand foods like the burgers and tofu. They also stock a small selection of books. I didn't peruse these due to my abysmal Spanish and our backpacking/travel lightly state. The Vegetalia brand can also be purchased in other supermarkets around town like El Corte Ingles.
Vegetalia offers a little of everything from the Menu del dia, a set menu for 9.90€, to a simple coffee and juice bar. Sit at the bar or grab a table. Snag the local animal rights paper, Anima Naturalis, off the rack to remind yourself you have local allies and to look for other cruelty free businesses to visit in Spain. Definitely visit Vegetalia when you're in Barcelona. It's cute, tasty and friendly.

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's all about me.

Where would Vegan MoFo be without a survey or two? I admit they are kinda fun to fill out. Weather you find them fun to read I suppose depends on if you are interested in that kind of thing and if the answers are entertaining.

Our first survey comes from Lauren of the Whoa Wren blog. I like to throw in one or two of these little bits here and there. It helps us get to know each other a bit. Because if I just love eggplant and you can't stand them, can we ever really be friends? Lesser things have caused wars. Just kidding, I'm too lazy to be that judgmental.

on with the interrogation:

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Almond milk, hands down. I don't get it super often though, it's just too pricey.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
I've been doing lots of cooking on the fly since we started traveling but we seem to be holding in one place for a little while so I'm thinking of a falafel tester for Isa's new cookbook, peanut ginger tofu (because we need to have that at least once a week), maybe some crepes but I haven't decided on a filling yet.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Hmm, that would have to be the rice pudding I was going to try and make but walked away while leaving the stove on. Burnt the crap out of it.

5. Favorite pickled item?
It's a toss up between ginger and good ol' dill cucumber pickles.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
My cookbooks were in alphabetical order by author, I was thinking of organizing them by the rainbow next. Now I'm down to keeping things online. Those are mostly bookmarked through GoogleReader and I have them sorted into basic type (breakfast, dinner, snacks, cookies, indian, thai). The cool thing about that is you can have them tagged in multiple categories.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
Almonds, Avocados, Tomatoes

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
My mom used to make bread rolls for holidays, I remember getting one (or three) still warm, and spreading butter/margarine on. Watched it melt and then mowwed it down. It was probably a pretty basic bread recipe it was just the homemade, fresh, warm, awesomeness of it. The rolls also made awesome holiday leftover sandwiches hehe

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
So far I think I'll have to go with the pomegranate chip flavor from So Delicious.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
My vitamix was the business!

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
We go through a potentially unhealthy amount of cumin at times.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Vegan With a Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz was my first vegan cookbook and it really got me into cooking, veganism and not being afraid to try new things.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
If we're talking the good stuff, mixed berry.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Lentil and tomato sauce over pasta. There are a few really good ways to tweek it and there is a good amount of familiararity so as not to cause a panic.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Seitan and tofu are both in my heart, it's like having to chose between two children.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Afternoon/early evening which is usually dinner.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
I no longer have a refrigerator but the communal refrigerator here has our stock of pots and pans on it.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Only two things in there right now, peas and green beans.

20. What's on your grocery list?
Flour, fennel seed, whatever vegetable looks good and doesn't cost me all of my money.

21. Favorite grocery store?
It was City Market in Burlington. They pissed me off a lot but they usually had most things I was looking for and didn't rip you off too much for them. Now I frequent Mercadona in Spain, the prices are pretty good.

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
I don't really have anything looming over my head at the moment.

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Vegan Dad, Have Cake Will Travel, Diet Dessert & Dogs

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
I'd love a vegan fruit and nut bar but until then I'll keep buying plain chocolate and making my own. I've recently fallen in love with Valor chocolate, they have a banana bar that is sooooo frikin good!

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
Peanut butter is pretty extravagant here. No less than 3.50€ a jar. Highway robbery, for cheap crap stuff, not even all natural.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
I'm always a little scared to work with new things. I hate to ruin things and waste food and money but you just have to throw caution to the wind and go for it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bienvenida a España

Hopefully that's grammatically correct. Did I mention I don't speak Spanish? I'm trying to learn but let's face it I suck. Anyway, we've entered Spain via Barcelona. Spain is one of the gazillion places I haven't been to before and Lex hasn't spent any time here either (aside from some islands as a kid) so it's new for us both.

We took an over night flight from Athens to get here on a fairly budget airline. Let's just say it was a rough ride but luckily I was tired and still managed to sleep through most of it. Arrival time was about 5am. After waiting around for about 30 mins for the buses to start running and a little argument with the ticket machine for the bus we snagged a ride to Placa de Catalunya. Then to a little metro ride back out of the city center for our first hostel stay (my first hostel ever). This was located within a 5-10 min walk to the metro stop and on a mountain/hillside. Due to it's partial woodland location, one night when we were walking back to our dorm we saw this litle piggie:
Yup, a wild pig. Also a first for me. It (can't honestly say whether it was a boy or girl) was munching on grasses and roots around the buildings making her little (big) piggie sounds. When we saw him we just froze, carefully got out the camera for a couple of quick shots before it wandered off in search of more munchies.

It is true what they say about Spain and veganism. It can be hard. It really depends on how you approach it. Speaking some Spanish will definitely help you here but it's not necessary. Eating out at your regular omni establishments is hammy and fishy. Only tell you are vegetarian and they will bring you fish and ham or just stare at you as if to say "how do you live like this?"

Traveling in Spain my first bit of advice would be to stay at hostels with a kitchen. Lots of them have communal kitchens and there isn't a shortage of delicious ingredients. And please for the love of cute furry bunnies don't leave your mess in the way of other people waiting to cook. Cook your grub, wash your pots, then go eat. But I won't rant on about it. Due to this being the land of pig legs and chicken of the sea I don't feel like I'm missing out by cooking for myself all the time. Hit any supermarket and you'll find: rice (brown isn't as common but it's usually available), pasta (watch out for eggs), canned/frozen/fresh fruit & veg, sauces and condiments (as usual don't assume and read the labels), bread, herbs/spices, and oil. Even the little markets seem to have all these things.

Vegetarianism isn't completely missing here and there are restaurants to go to. The ones we've hit I'll blog about don't you worry. There are also healthfood stores and even the larger supermarkets seem to carry a few "specialty" or "international" items like tofu, veggie burgers, seitan & tempeh. Barcelona is especially easy to shop in due to it's size. There are healthfood stores and large supermarkets where you will find almost everything you are accustom to eating and more (kamut milk?!?! I didn't buy it because it was rather expensive but I am intrigued). Soy milk is easy to find everywhere, Spain does cater to it's lactose intolerant. Almond milk also seems to be easy to find although, again, it is rather pricy.

And just for pure touristy stake:
and welcome to Vegan MoFo 2009!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


So in the event that you did not know, and how could you as I haven't said anything about it, Lex and I have become vegan nomads. We've decided to see some of this fantabulous world and knew that keeping on with the ol' nose to the grind stone wasn't really getting us anywhere nor was it making us happy. So why not throw caution to the wind and head off into yonder places with our trusty back packs and tent.

Well ok, the backpacks and tent hadn't proven themselves to be trusty just yet as they are new. The cookware and camp stove as well but we did some reading and some research so we weren't just picking any old random junk, we hoped.

So far our first stop has been Greece. Visiting family, taking a few days to relax and recover from the jet lag that hit me hard. The poster child of Greece?
One awesome, knarly olive tree. The trees are everywhere but I love these big ones that just have trunk and branches everywhere. Awesome. This one we came across walking back along a trail beach side on Ithaki.

We spent a couple days in Athens. We've been before so we didn't go crazy with touristy stuff but we did visit the new Acropolis museum which wasn't open last time we were in town. It's awesome (but doesn't allow photographs) so I would highly recommend it. I did get this photo just outside the museum which is perched in the midsts of "a series of small walls" as Mr Eddie Izzard would say.

From Athens we went to Ithaki, an island in the Ionian sea just off the much larger island of Kefalonia. There are no shortage of sights to behold, some simple, some delicious, some cuddly.

Needless to say, all these adorable kitties keep any hint of a rodent problem at bay. Unfortunately some people find them to be a nuisance and they do breed rather easily. There are some nice people around including vets who are trying to keep the population under control by humane means.

As this is a food blog I will be providing yummies to drool over and to try out. Today I give you:
Lex's Banana Rice Breakfast Pudding

So simple and nice. So easy to make even when you're camping! Also great as dessert.
Serves 2

1/2-3/4 c brown rice (quick cook or old school)
2 bananas
2-3 Tb olive oil (or oil of preference)
cinnamon to taste (optional)

Fill medium pot with 2-3 c water and bring to boil over high heat.
Meanwhile add oil to small-medium saucepan and slice bananas into it. You're looking for enough oil to keep the bananas from sticking while they cook briefly.
Once water is boiling add rice and cook until done. Al dente to well done is fine, whatever your texture preference. Quick cook will take 10-15 mins, regular brown rice will be more like 30-40 mins.
When rice has about 10 mins left, place bananas over medium heat and cook to a nice mush. As they cook down they will soften and sweeten.
Add cinnamon to taste, you shouldn't need additional sweeteners. Remove bananas from heat and set aside until rice is done.
Drain rice of excess water and mix together with the bananas.
Serve warm or at room temperature, probably cold too but we couldn't test that as we are operating without refrigeration at the moment.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Vegan Scoop

Having to hunt around for vegan ice cream seems to be a thing of the past for a lot of us which is a wonderful thing. There's soy, rice, coconut, hemp and who knows what else to make you forget what that silly dairy based ice cream even tasted like let alone why you ever ate it. And along with this vegan ice cream boom seems to have come a vegan ice cream recipe book mini boom with two books released nearly back to back for our summer ice cream eating enjoyment.

Wheelers Ice Cream contacted me a while ago asking me to try out one of their recipes and to share it with you all to promote it's book offering, The Vegan Scoop. Do I want to try out a new ice cream recipe? Are you mad? Hells yeah!

Normally (I say normally but in my experience it's 100% of the time) when you find mint ice cream in your local freezer case it's just mint flavor, not identifiably any particular mint (or at least I don't know which mint this is). Sometimes if you're lucky you might find a seasonal peppermint type thing. Wheelers have given us a new one to try out, spearmint. I must say I was pretty excited to give it a go. Spearmint has always been my favorite mint flavor. I've been known to, as a child, mow my way through an entire pack of Life Savers spearmint candies/mints in a remarkably short period of time.

My only worry was finding spearmint extract. I've never seen it before. Maybe the coop will have it . . . .nope. Health food store . . . nope. Regular old super market . . . they have an extract just labeled "mint" but after having a look at the ingredients it turns out it's spearmint with a touch of peppermint. I gave this one a try and it was spot on. I think they just added a little peppermint to give it a kick as spearmint is a bit more subtle. I don't remember the brand but it's a common one and you should find it in your regular old supermarket in the spices and/or baking areas.

The ice cream was good although the flavor was strange at first because of eating that generic mint flavor for so long. My tongue was confused. This was bright and refreshing while still being wonderful creamy ice cream.

Spearmint Ice Cream

1 cup (235 ml) soy milk, divided
2 tablespoons (16 g) arrowroot
2 cups (470 ml) soy creamer
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons (23 ml) spearmint extract

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) soymilk with arrowroot and set aside.

Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup (175 ml) soymilk, and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.

Add vanilla extract.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instruction.

Yield: 1 quart (approximately 600 g)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thank You Joanna!

Reading through my list of vegan blogs yesterday I came across some very important information. Something that the people at Boca and Garden Burger don't want you to know. The secret diy burger formula. Joanna Vaught, creator of many a delicious recipe, posted a basic tried and true equation for making burgers just the way you want them or a different way every night. Whatever strikes your fancy. She just knows the way straight to my heart.

I had to get right on this. Could it be true? Oh the possibilities. My first thought was hoisin sauce. I wanted some. Hosin made me think stir fry, I had bell pepper and carrots already. And I was off.

This is what I came up with:
  • ~2 cups finely chopped carrots and shiitake mushrooms (vegetables)
  • 1 cup black beans and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup black sesame seeds (protein)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup oil and a splash of water (liquid)
  • 1 T black bean garlic sauce (liquid seasoning)
  • 2 tsp crumbled dry red chili and 1 tsp ground ginger (dry seasoning)
This made 6 good sized burgers to fill out our Ezekiel buns. Building went as follows: bottom of bun, Vegenaise, cucumber, greens, burger, pan fried red onion and orange bell pepper, hosin sauce on top bun. Unhinge jaw and eat.

I'm loving this formula. Brown rice and vital wheat gluten are a pantry staple. These burgers will take whatever you have around. Read through Joanna's suggestions and you'll get the idea. What a great way to pull together different theme patties or to just help clean out the cupboards in a super tasty way. Don't feel confined to burgers here either. Go for cutlets (add a little more gluten if you like more chewy texture) or balls (yeah I said it, balls) for a sub, pasta or whatever.

Have you checked out Yellow Rose Recipes? No? What is wrong with you?!?!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's almost time for another wonderful book

So you're all wondering, "How the hell am I suppose to feed a vegan if you keep disappearing?" All I can say is, sorry about that. I'm working on a big project at the moment (nothing crazy exciting for anyone but myself I'm afraid) that is keeping me more then busy. I'm a bit overwhelmed really but I'm just going to keep chipping away.

Aaannnyyway . . . I thought I should probably post something for the April Daring Bakers Challenge. I did it, I just have the worst time sitting down to post about it. Well, I kinda did it.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

So this challenge allowed for some creativity. I took that permission and stretched it to a tester recipe for Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero's new cookie book. So I would like to reveal one delicious brownie.
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownie

It's in the spirit of cheesecake at least. I just couldn't bring myself to buy 3 tubs of vegan cream cheese for a whole cake. That's not something I need lying around. Now I realize that this isn't the best picture of this delectable treat so I would also like to direct you to the flickr pool for more photos from this highly anticipated book that looks like it will be a companion to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, to be entitled Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. This takes care of the ever present chocolate craving as well as the cheesecake need we sometimes experience. For chocolate chips I used Lindt 70% thins all crumbled up. That was the ticket let me tell you.

So I ask that you please stick with me here. I have some tasty treats waiting in the wings and I will try to set aside time to complete the posts for them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

You really must love these awareness days if for nothing more then it gives us bloggers something to talk about. I don't know how I feel about "Earth Day." I love my Earth in all its dangerous beauty and therefore everyday is Earth Day. I try to live my life with lighter steps and help clear up the debris of those who want to stomp around. I am by no means perfect but I keep stiving to be better, be more educated and clean up old habits.

In an effort to use this day as it was intended, to bring awareness to the issues. Everyone knows the basics and a lot of people subscribe to them: reusable bags, drive car less, fuel efficient vehicles. Fewer people seem to get into the "eat less or no meat" and won't touch the dairy and egg issue with the ever popular 10 ft pole. If you truely want to save the planet. If you really really want to shrink down that ol' "carbon foot print" you'll need to go vegan. That's all there is too it. If I'm not only preaching to the choir here let me just say that it is easier than it has ever been to go vegan. There are an array of amazing delicious vegan cookbooks out there (just check out my library for a start). You'll find great vegan online social networking which can translate into real life social networking. Yes there are other vegans out there and chances are there is at least one near you. My favorite is The Post Punk Kitchen a couple other very welcoming communities are Compassionate Cooks and Just the Food. Speaking of Compassionate Cooks, Colleen does a very informative podcast that is worth checking out. She talks about food, animal rights, animal "processing" and literature.

I have already read several articles and posts about the benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle on this oh day of the earth so I won't really go on about it. I'll just point to the following.

If you are familiar with Mr Mark Bittman (author of How to Cook Everything and of the more recent Food Matters) here is an article from the New York Times about meat consumption. Now I don't completely buy into the Bittman philosophy (he mentions something about being "vegan plus" which is a term that will only serve to confuse people as it's inaccurate) but I think he makes some good points and he will reach a lot of people that a vegan will probably not for the simple fact that he is not vegan. He's got some good information.

When I read Kelly's post at I understood the possition completely. It can be tough to keep the faith when so many just aren't willing to take the necessary steps to get it done. While I would like people to do something rather then nothing at all, there does seem to be a lot of half-assing going on. Use your whole ass people. Don't just take one step and call it quits. Keep taking steps, see where they lead you.

Check out The Girlie Girl Army for some great factoids about what your vegan choices do for the planet and the creatures that try to live on it. I kinda like their Earth Pride.

I hope everyone had a good day. Do something for the Earth everyday. Go vegan! These guys really want you to. Did I mention don't "process" them?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Coconut Bacon!

Yes, that's right. I said it. Coconut bacon. It had to be done. Not that I don't love tempeh bacon. That still has it's place on my plate but coconut bacon fits into that little niche between the larger strips and bits although I suppose it could be made into these as well. I went for flakes.

I didn't come up with exact measurements but kept it simple. Don't be afraid to dump some stuff in a jar and see what happens. It's a science experiment. A delicious, wonderful science experiment.

First you'll need your coconut. I went for flakes, unsweetened of course although now I think of it. Sweetened probably wouldn't be horrible but I'd rather sweeten them myself. I like to know what's going in my food.

The marinade: soy sauce, garlic (powder or microplaned), some dark soy sauce if you have it around, apple cider vinegar, and a touch of liquid smoke.

Method: put coconut in a jar, add marinade ingredients (mostly soy sauce and vinegar and a sprinkling of the rest), cover and shake it like a Polaroid picture. I left this concoction in my refrigerator for a couple days. Dump it out onto a baking sheet and set your oven to it's lowest temperature. Bake the coconut until it's dry. Allow it to cool then store it in a jar.
Sprinkle this delight into sandwiches, on salads, in your tofu scramble . . . wherever you need a salty smoky kick. This goes great in a BLT.

Play around with the flavors. Maple would probably go great in this.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Convenience Store Challenge!

I love a good fun challenge and when I came across this post on Vegan Soapbox I knew I wanted to participate. It would be a fun challenge and with my cookbook addiction the chance to win my choice of cookbook to add to my library was just too much to resist.

The rules of the game are simple. Go to a convenience store with $10. Get vegan ingredients. Make them into a meal. It doesn't have to be a well balanced or healthy meal which is good considering the selection available in most convenience stores. There does seem to be a theme though. If you have a little quick stop type store that sells slightly more then chips, soda and candy then it will have pasta, sauce, and an array of nonvegan items. If you're lucky you will find a few more vegan goodies but no such luck for me. My choices for meal items were spaghetti, mac, veg oil, tomato soup and tomato sauce. Crap. I made my grabs and had a look at what was available for snack items. I left the store with this:
-1 lb elbow macaroni
-8oz can tomato sauce
-3oz bag of salted cashews
-5.25oz sleeve of Oreos
Spending a grand total of $8.06. Sweet, two rules complete - shop at a convenience store and spend only $10.
Now I have to make a recognizable meal. I made my way home and got cracking. We can only add herbs, spices and nutritional yeast. First I opened the nuts and covered them with water, sloshed them around a bit and drained. I repeated this a couple times because there is enough salt in that tomato sauce already, no more will be needed. After rinsing a couple times I left the cashews to soak while I got a pot of water on the stove to boil.

In a blender jug (or you could do this in a food processor), I dumped:
-the can of tomato sauce
-about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
-1 tsp dried basil
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1/2 tsp dried garlic powder
-the cashews, drained
Process this all together and get it as smooth as possible. The cashews just add to the creaminess, they could be omitted and you would still have a slightly cheezy sauce. Set this aside until your pasta is done.

I went ahead and cooked all the pasta. Why the hell not! Maybe you'll need to feed a crowd on your convenience store gourmet skills. I'm ready.

Once the pasta was ready I simply drained it, dumped it back into the pot, poured on the blender sauce (scrape out every last bit you can) and stir it all around. The ratio of sauce to pasta was perfect for me but if you like more sauciness just cook less than a pound of pasta or make more sauce. Easy.

Now, the moment of truth.
I sprinkled a little more nooch and oregano on top for added flair. This was actually pretty good. Because I usually make a whole grain pasta this was kinda junk foodie but it was quite tasty if I do say so myself. Although not balanced it does offer your carbs, fat, and protein. And because no meal is complete without dessert, enter the Oreos. I actually wanted to take this one step further and make chocolate covered Oreos but there wasn't even a smidgeon of vegan chocolate to be found in this forlorn little gas station. They did have a fair amount of premade sandwiches and hot coffee ready to go. Not a bad place to stop if you are on the road and need a fuel fill up for both your car and your tummy . . . but not for a vegan.

I have plenty to share. Stop on by and have a taste!